Charles Dickens

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Pretending to read a smeary newspaper long out of date, which had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

know him.

"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

the fire.

"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!"

and laughed.

"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.