Charles Dickens

Herbert was rarely there less frequently than three

times in a week, and he never brought me a single word of

intelligence that was at all alarming. Still, I knew that there was

cause for alarm, and I could not get rid of the notion of being

watched. Once received, it is a haunting idea; how many undesigning

persons I suspected of watching me, it would be hard to calculate.

In short, I was always full of fears for the rash man who was in

hiding. Herbert had sometimes said to me that he found it pleasant

to stand at one of our windows after dark, when the tide was

running down, and to think that it was flowing, with everything it

bore, towards Clara. But I thought with dread that it was flowing

towards Magwitch, and that any black mark on its surface might be

his pursuers, going swiftly, silently, and surely, to take him.

Chapter 47

Some weeks passed without bringing any change. We waited for

Wemmick, and he made no sign. If I had never known him out of

Little Britain, and had never enjoyed the privilege of being on a

familiar footing at the Castle, I might have doubted him; not so

for a moment, knowing him as I did.

My worldly affairs began to wear a gloomy appearance, and I was

pressed for money by more than one creditor. Even I myself began to

know the want of money (I mean of ready money in my own pocket),

and to relieve it by converting some easily spared articles of

jewellery into cash. But I had quite determined that it would be a

heartless fraud to take more money from my patron in the existing

state of my uncertain thoughts and plans. Therefore, I had sent him

the unopened pocket-book by Herbert, to hold in his own keeping,

and I felt a kind of satisfaction - whether it was a false kind or

a true, I hardly know - in not having profited by his generosity

since his revelation of himself.

As the time wore on, an impression settled heavily upon me that

Estella was married. Fearful of having it confirmed, though it was

all but a conviction, I avoided the newspapers, and begged Herbert

(to whom I had confided the circumstances of our last interview)

never to speak of her to me. Why I hoarded up this last wretched

little rag of the robe of hope that was rent and given to the

winds, how do I know! Why did you who read this, commit that not

dissimilar inconsistency of your own, last year, last month, last


It was an unhappy life that I lived, and its one dominant anxiety,

towering over all its other anxieties like a high mountain above a

range of mountains, never disappeared from my view. Still, no new

cause for fear arose. Let me start from my bed as I would, with the

terror fresh upon me that he was discovered; let me sit listening

as I would, with dread, for Herbert's returning step at night, lest

it should be fleeter than ordinary, and winged with evil news; for

all that, and much more to like purpose, the round of things went

on. Condemned to inaction and a state of constant restlessness and

suspense, I rowed about in my boat, and waited, waited, waited, as

I best could.

There were states of the tide when, having been down the river, I

could not get back through the eddy-chafed arches and starlings of

old London Bridge; then, I left my boat at a wharf near the Custom

House, to be brought up afterwards to the Temple stairs. I was not

averse to doing this, as it served to make me and my boat a

commoner incident among the water-side people there. From this

slight occasion, sprang two meetings that I have now to tell of.

One afternoon, late in the month of February, I came ashore at the

wharf at dusk. I had pulled down as far as Greenwich with the ebb

tide, and had turned with the tide. It had been a fine bright day,

but had become foggy as the sun dropped, and I had had to feel my

way back among the shipping, pretty carefully. Both in going and

returning, I had seen the signal in his window, All well.