Charles Dickens

At the office in Little Britain there was the usual letter-writing,

hand-washing, candle-snuffing, and safe-locking, that closed the

business of the day. As I stood idle by Mr. Jaggers's fire, its

rising and falling flame made the two casts on the shelf look as if

they were playing a diabolical game at bo-peep with me; while the

pair of coarse fat office candles that dimly lighted Mr. Jaggers as

he wrote in a corner, were decorated with dirty winding-sheets, as

if in remembrance of a host of hanged clients.

We went to Gerrard-street, all three together, in a hackney coach:

and as soon as we got there, dinner was served. Although I should

not have thought of making, in that place, the most distant

reference by so much as a look to Wemmick's Walworth sentiments,

yet I should have had no objection to catching his eye now and then

in a friendly way. But it was not to be done. He turned his eyes on

Mr. Jaggers whenever he raised them from the table, and was as dry

and distant to me as if there were twin Wemmicks and this was the

wrong one.

"Did you send that note of Miss Havisham's to Mr. Pip, Wemmick?" Mr.

Jaggers asked, soon after we began dinner.

"No, sir," returned Wemmick; "it was going by post, when you

brought Mr. Pip into the office. Here it is." He handed it to his

principal, instead of to me.

"It's a note of two lines, Pip," said Mr. Jaggers, handing it on,

"sent up to me by Miss Havisham, on account of her not being sure

of your address. She tells me that she wants to see you on a little

matter of business you mentioned to her. You'll go down?"

"Yes," said I, casting my eyes over the note, which was exactly in

those terms.

"When do you think of going down?"

"I have an impending engagement," said I, glancing at Wemmick, who

was putting fish into the post-office, "that renders me rather

uncertain of my time. At once, I think."

"If Mr. Pip has the intention of going at once," said Wemmick to Mr.

Jaggers, "he needn't write an answer, you know."

Receiving this as an intimation that it was best not to delay, I

settled that I would go to-morrow, and said so. Wemmick drank a

glass of wine and looked with a grimly satisfied air at Mr. Jaggers,

but not at me.

"So, Pip! Our friend the Spider," said Mr. Jaggers, "has played his

cards. He has won the pool."

It was as much as I could do to assent.

"Hah! He is a promising fellow - in his way - but he may not have

it all his own way. The stronger will win in the end, but the

stronger has to be found out first. If he should turn to, and beat


"Surely," I interrupted, with a burning face and heart, "you do not

seriously think that he is scoundrel enough for that, Mr. Jaggers?"

"I didn't say so, Pip. I am putting a case. If he should turn to

and beat her, he may possibly get the strength on his side; if it

should be a question of intellect, he certainly will not. It would

be chance work to give an opinion how a fellow of that sort will

turn out in such circumstances, because it's a toss-up between two


"May I ask what they are?"

"A fellow like our friend the Spider," answered Mr. Jaggers, "either

beats, or cringes. He may cringe and growl, or cringe and not

growl; but he either beats or cringes. Ask Wemmick his opinion."

"Either beats or cringes," said Wemmick, not at all addressing

himself to me.

"So, here's to Mrs. Bentley Drummle," said Mr. Jaggers, taking a

decanter of choicer wine from his dumb-waiter, and filling for each

of us and for himself, "and may the question of supremacy be

settled to the lady's satisfaction! To the satisfaction of the lady

and the gentleman, it never will be. Now, Molly, Molly, Molly,

Molly, how slow you are to-day!"

She was at his elbow when he addressed her, putting a dish upon the

table. As she withdrew her hands from it, she fell back a step or

two, nervously muttering some excuse.