I would not have gone back to Joe now, I would not have gone back
to Biddy now, for any consideration: simply, I suppose, because my
sense of my own worthless conduct to them was greater than every
consideration. No wisdom on earth could have given me the comfort
that I should have derived from their simplicity and fidelity; but
I could never, never, undo what I had done.
In every rage of wind and rush of rain, I heard pursuers. Twice, I
could have sworn there was a knocking and whispering at the outer
door. With these fears upon me, I began either to imagine or recall
that I had had mysterious warnings of this man's approach. That,
for weeks gone by, I had passed faces in the streets which I had
thought like his. That, these likenesses had grown more numerous,
as he, coming over the sea, had drawn nearer. That, his wicked
spirit had somehow sent these messengers to mine, and that now on
this stormy night he was as good as his word, and with me.
Crowding up with these reflections came the reflection that I had
seen him with my childish eyes to be a desperately violent man;
that I had heard that other convict reiterate that he had tried to
murder him; that I had seen him down in the ditch tearing and
fighting like a wild beast. Out of such remembrances I brought into
the light of the fire, a half-formed terror that it might not be
safe to be shut up there with him in the dead of the wild solitary
night. This dilated until it filled the room, and impelled me to
take a candle and go in and look at my dreadful burden.
He had rolled a handkerchief round his head, and his face was set
and lowering in his sleep. But he was asleep, and quietly too,
though he had a pistol lying on the pillow. Assured of this, I
softly removed the key to the outside of his door, and turned it on
him before I again sat down by the fire. Gradually I slipped from
the chair and lay on the floor. When I awoke, without having parted
in my sleep with the perception of my wretchedness, the clocks of
the Eastward churches were striking five, the candles were wasted
out, the fire was dead, and the wind and rain intensified the thick
THIS IS THE END OF THE SECOND STAGE OF PIP'S EXPECTATIONS.
It was fortunate for me that I had to take precautions to ensure
(so far as I could) the safety of my dreaded visitor; for, this
thought pressing on me when I awoke, held other thoughts in a
confused concourse at a distance.
The impossibility of keeping him concealed in the chambers was
self-evident. It could not be done, and the attempt to do it would
inevitably engender suspicion. True, I had no Avenger in my service
now, but I was looked after by an inflammatory old female, assisted
by an animated rag-bag whom she called her niece, and to keep a
room secret from them would be to invite curiosity and
exaggeration. They both had weak eyes, which I had long attributed
to their chronically looking in at keyholes, and they were always
at hand when not wanted; indeed that was their only reliable
quality besides larceny. Not to get up a mystery with these people,
I resolved to announce in the morning that my uncle had
unexpectedly come from the country.
This course I decided on while I was yet groping about in the
darkness for the means of getting a light. Not stumbling on the
means after all, I was fain to go out to the adjacent Lodge and get
the watchman there to come with his lantern. Now, in groping my way
down the black staircase I fell over something, and that something
was a man crouching in a corner.
As the man made no answer when I asked him what he did there, but
eluded my touch in silence, I ran to the Lodge and urged the
watchman to come quickly: telling him of the incident on the way
back. The wind being as fierce as ever, we did not care to endanger
the light in the lantern by rekindling the extinguished lamps on
the staircase, but we examined the staircase from the bottom to the
top and found no one there.