leading me into what you call this fatal step, Miss Havisham would
have had me wait, and not marry yet; but I am tired of the life I
have led, which has very few charms for me, and I am willing enough
to change it. Say no more. We shall never understand each other."
"Such a mean brute, such a stupid brute!" I urged in despair.
"Don't be afraid of my being a blessing to him," said Estella; "I
shall not be that. Come! Here is my hand. Do we part on this, you
visionary boy - or man?"
"O Estella!" I answered, as my bitter tears fell fast on her hand,
do what I would to restrain them; "even if I remained in England
and could hold my head up with the rest, how could I see you
"Nonsense," she returned, "nonsense. This will pass in no time."
"You will get me out of your thoughts in a week."
"Out of my thoughts! You are part of my existence, part of myself.
You have been in every line I have ever read, since I first came
here, the rough common boy whose poor heart you wounded even then.
You have been in every prospect I have ever seen since - on the
river, on the sails of the ships, on the marshes, in the clouds, in
the light, in the darkness, in the wind, in the woods, in the sea,
in the streets. You have been the embodiment of every graceful
fancy that my mind has ever become acquainted with. The stones of
which the strongest London buildings are made, are not more real,
or more impossible to be displaced by your hands, than your
presence and influence have been to me, there and everywhere, and
will be. Estella, to the last hour of my life, you cannot choose
but remain part of my character, part of the little good in me,
part of the evil. But, in this separation I associate you only with
the good, and I will faithfully hold you to that always, for you
must have done me far more good than harm, let me feel now what
sharp distress I may. O God bless you, God forgive you!"
In what ecstasy of unhappiness I got these broken words out of
myself, I don't know. The rhapsody welled up within me, like blood
from an inward wound, and gushed out. I held her hand to my lips
some lingering moments, and so I left her. But ever afterwards, I
remembered - and soon afterwards with stronger reason - that while
Estella looked at me merely with incredulous wonder, the spectral
figure of Miss Havisham, her hand still covering her heart, seemed
all resolved into a ghastly stare of pity and remorse.
All done, all gone! So much was done and gone, that when I went out
at the gate, the light of the day seemed of a darker colour than
when I went in. For a while, I hid myself among some lanes and
by-paths, and then struck off to walk all the way to London. For, I
had by that time come to myself so far, as to consider that I could
not go back to the inn and see Drummle there; that I could not bear
to sit upon the coach and be spoken to; that I could do nothing
half so good for myself as tire myself out.
It was past midnight when I crossed London Bridge. Pursuing the
narrow intricacies of the streets which at that time tended
westward near the Middlesex shore of the river, my readiest access
to the Temple was close by the river-side, through Whitefriars. I
was not expected till to-morrow, but I had my keys, and, if Herbert
were gone to bed, could get to bed myself without disturbing him.
As it seldom happened that I came in at that Whitefriars gate after
the Temple was closed, and as I was very muddy and weary, I did not
take it ill that the night-porter examined me with much attention
as he held the gate a little way open for me to pass in. To help
his memory I mentioned my name.
"I was not quite sure, sir, but I thought so. Here's a note, sir.
The messenger that brought it, said would you be so good as read it
by my lantern?"
Much surprised by the request, I took the note.