We both knew that I had but
to propose anything, and he would consent. We agreed that his
remaining many days in his present hazard was not to be thought of.
Next day, I had the meanness to feign that I was under a binding
promise to go down to Joe; but I was capable of almost any meanness
towards Joe or his name. Provis was to be strictly careful while I
was gone, and Herbert was to take the charge of him that I had
taken. I was to be absent only one night, and, on my return, the
gratification of his impatience for my starting as a gentleman on a
greater scale, was to be begun. It occurred to me then, and as I
afterwards found to Herbert also, that he might be best got away
across the water, on that pretence - as, to make purchases, or the
Having thus cleared the way for my expedition to Miss Havisham's, I
set off by the early morning coach before it was yet light, and was
out on the open country-road when the day came creeping on, halting
and whimpering and shivering, and wrapped in patches of cloud and
rags of mist, like a beggar. When we drove up to the Blue Boar
after a drizzly ride, whom should I see come out under the gateway,
toothpick in hand, to look at the coach, but Bentley Drummle!
As he pretended not to see me, I pretended not to see him. It was a
very lame pretence on both sides; the lamer, because we both went
into the coffee-room, where he had just finished his breakfast, and
where I ordered mine. It was poisonous to me to see him in the
town, for I very well knew why he had come there.
Pretending to read a smeary newspaper long out of date, which had
nothing half so legible in its local news, as the foreign matter of
coffee, pickles, fish-sauces, gravy, melted butter, and wine, with
which it was sprinkled all over, as if it had taken the measles in
a highly irregular form, I sat at my table while he stood before
the fire. By degrees it became an enormous injury to me that he
stood before the fire, and I got up, determined to have my share of
it. I had to put my hand behind his legs for the poker when I went
up to the fire-place to stir the fire, but still pretended not to
"Is this a cut?" said Mr. Drummle.
"Oh!" said I, poker in hand; "it's you, is it? How do you do? I was
wondering who it was, who kept the fire off."
With that, I poked tremendously, and having done so, planted myself
side by side with Mr. Drummle, my shoulders squared and my back to
"You have just come down?" said Mr. Drummle, edging me a little away
with his shoulder.
"Yes," said I, edging him a little away with my shoulder.
"Beastly place," said Drummle. - "Your part of the country, I
"Yes," I assented. "I am told it's very like your Shropshire."
"Not in the least like it," said Drummle.
Here Mr. Drummle looked at his boots, and I looked at mine, and then
Mr. Drummle looked at my boots, and I looked at his.
"Have you been here long?" I asked, determined not to yield an inch
of the fire.
"Long enough to be tired of it," returned Drummle, pretending to
yawn, but equally determined.
"Do you stay here long?"
"Can't say," answered Mr. Drummle. "Do you?"
"Can't say," said I.
I felt here, through a tingling in my blood, that if Mr. Drummle's
shoulder had claimed another hair's breadth of room, I should have
jerked him into the window; equally, that if my own shoulder had
urged a similar claim, Mr. Drummle would have jerked me into the
nearest box. He whistled a little. So did I.
"Large tract of marshes about here, I believe?" said Drummle.
"Yes. What of that?" said I.
Mr. Drummle looked at me, and then at my boots, and then said, "Oh!"
"Are you amused, Mr. Drummle?"
"No," said he, "not particularly. I am going out for a ride in the
saddle. I mean to explore those marshes for amusement.