"Very curious indeed!"
I cannot exaggerate the enhanced disquiet into which this
conversation threw me, or the special and peculiar terror I felt at
Compeyson's having been behind me "like a ghost." For, if he had
ever been out of my thoughts for a few moments together since the
hiding had begun, it was in those very moments when he was closest
to me; and to think that I should be so unconscious and off my
guard after all my care, was as if I had shut an avenue of a
hundred doors to keep him out, and then had found him at my elbow.
I could not doubt either that he was there, because I was there,
and that however slight an appearance of danger there might be
about us, danger was always near and active.
I put such questions to Mr. Wopsle as, When did the man come in? He
could not tell me that; he saw me, and over my shoulder he saw the
man. It was not until he had seen him for some time that he began
to identify him; but he had from the first vaguely associated him
with me, and known him as somehow belonging to me in the old
village time. How was he dressed? Prosperously, but not noticeably
otherwise; he thought, in black. Was his face at all disfigured?
No, he believed not. I believed not, too, for, although in my
brooding state I had taken no especial notice of the people behind
me, I thought it likely that a face at all disfigured would have
attracted my attention.
When Mr. Wopsle had imparted to me all that he could recall or I
extract, and when I had treated him to a little appropriate
refreshment after the fatigues of the evening, we parted. It was
between twelve and one o'clock when I reached the Temple, and the
gates were shut. No one was near me when I went in and went home.
Herbert had come in, and we held a very serious council by the
fire. But there was nothing to be done, saving to communicate to
Wemmick what I had that night found out, and to remind him that we
waited for his hint. As I thought that I might compromise him if I
went too often to the Castle, I made this communication by letter.
I wrote it before I went to bed, and went out and posted it; and
again no one was near me. Herbert and I agreed that we could do
nothing else but be very cautious. And we were very cautious indeed
- more cautious than before, if that were possible - and I for my
part never went near Chinks's Basin, except when I rowed by, and
then I only looked at Mill Pond Bank as I looked at anything else.
The second of the two meetings referred to in the last chapter,
occurred about a week after the first. I had again left my boat at
the wharf below Bridge; the time was an hour earlier in the
afternoon; and, undecided where to dine, I had strolled up into
Cheapside, and was strolling along it, surely the most unsettled
person in all the busy concourse, when a large hand was laid upon
my shoulder, by some one overtaking me. It was Mr. Jaggers's hand,
and he passed it through my arm.
"As we are going in the same direction, Pip, we may walk together.
Where are you bound for?"
"For the Temple, I think," said I.
"Don't you know?" said Mr. Jaggers.
"Well," I returned, glad for once to get the better of him in
cross-examination, "I do not know, for I have not made up my mind."
"You are going to dine?" said Mr. Jaggers. "You don't mind admitting
that, I suppose?"
"No," I returned, "I don't mind admitting that."
"And are not engaged?"
"I don't mind admitting also, that I am not engaged."
"Then," said Mr. Jaggers, "come and dine with me."
I was going to excuse myself, when he added, "Wemmick's coming."
So, I changed my excuse into an acceptance - the few words I had
uttered, serving for the beginning of either - and we went along
Cheapside and slanted off to Little Britain, while the lights were
springing up brilliantly in the shop windows, and the street
lamp-lighters, scarcely finding ground enough to plant their
ladders on in the midst of the afternoon's bustle, were skipping up
and down and running in and out, opening more red eyes in the
gathering fog than my rushlight tower at the Hummums had opened
white eyes in the ghostly wall.