Charles Dickens

"By my boy, I was giv to understand as Compeyson was out on them

marshes too. Upon my soul, I half believe he escaped in his terror,

to get quit of me, not knowing it was me as had got ashore. I

hunted him down. I smashed his face. 'And now,' says I 'as the

worst thing I can do, caring nothing for myself, I'll drag you

back.' And I'd have swum off, towing him by the hair, if it had

come to that, and I'd a got him aboard without the soldiers.

"Of course he'd much the best of it to the last - his character was

so good. He had escaped when he was made half-wild by me and my

murderous intentions; and his punishment was light. I was put in

irons, brought to trial again, and sent for life. I didn't stop for

life, dear boy and Pip's comrade, being here."

"He wiped himself again, as he had done before, and then slowly

took his tangle of tobacco from his pocket, and plucked his pipe

from his button-hole, and slowly filled it, and began to smoke.

"Is he dead?" I asked, after a silence.

"Is who dead, dear boy?"


"He hopes I am, if he's alive, you may be sure," with a fierce

look. "I never heerd no more of him."

Herbert had been writing with his pencil in the cover of a book. He

softly pushed the book over to me, as Provis stood smoking with his

eyes on the fire, and I read in it:

"Young Havisham's name was Arthur. Compeyson is the man who

professed to be Miss Havisham's lover."

I shut the book and nodded slightly to Herbert, and put the book

by; but we neither of us said anything, and both looked at Provis

as he stood smoking by the fire.

Chapter 43

Why should I pause to ask how much of my shrinking from Provis

might be traced to Estella? Why should I loiter on my road, to

compare the state of mind in which I had tried to rid myself of the

stain of the prison before meeting her at the coach-office, with

the state of mind in which I now reflected on the abyss between

Estella in her pride and beauty, and the returned transport whom I

harboured? The road would be none the smoother for it, the end

would be none the better for it, he would not be helped, nor I


A new fear had been engendered in my mind by his narrative; or

rather, his narrative had given form and purpose to the fear that

was already there. If Compeyson were alive and should discover his

return, I could hardly doubt the consequence. That, Compeyson stood

in mortal fear of him, neither of the two could know much better

than I; and that, any such man as that man had been described to

be, would hesitate to release himself for good from a dreaded enemy

by the safe means of becoming an informer, was scarcely to be


Never had I breathed, and never would I breathe - or so I resolved

- a word of Estella to Provis. But, I said to Herbert that before I

could go abroad, I must see both Estella and Miss Havisham. This

was when we were left alone on the night of the day when Provis

told us his story. I resolved to go out to Richmond next day, and I


On my presenting myself at Mrs. Brandley's, Estella's maid was

called to tell that Estella had gone into the country. Where? To

Satis House, as usual. Not as usual, I said, for she had never yet

gone there without me; when was she coming back? There was an air

of reservation in the answer which increased my perplexity, and the

answer was, that her maid believed she was only coming back at all

for a little while. I could make nothing of this, except that it

was meant that I should make nothing of it, and I went home again

in complete discomfiture.

Another night-consultation with Herbert after Provis was gone home

(I always took him home, and always looked well about me), led us

to the conclusion that nothing should be said about going abroad

until I came back from Miss Havisham's. In the meantime, Herbert

and I were to consider separately what it would be best to say;

whether we should devise any pretence of being afraid that he was

under suspicious observation; or whether I, who had never yet been

abroad, should propose an expedition.