I felt that I had come to the brink of my grave. For a moment I
looked wildly round my trap for any chance of escape; but there was
"More than that," said he, folding his arms on the table again, "I
won't have a rag of you, I won't have a bone of you, left on earth.
I'll put your body in the kiln - I'd carry two such to it, on my
shoulders - and, let people suppose what they may of you, they
shall never know nothing."
My mind, with inconceivable rapidity, followed out all the
consequences of such a death. Estella's father would believe I had
deserted him, would be taken, would die accusing me; even Herbert
would doubt me, when he compared the letter I had left for him,
with the fact that I had called at Miss Havisham's gate for only a
moment; Joe and Biddy would never know how sorry I had been that
night; none would ever know what I had suffered, how true I had
meant to be, what an agony I had passed through. The death close
before me was terrible, but far more terrible than death was the
dread of being misremembered after death. And so quick were my
thoughts, that I saw myself despised by unborn generations -
Estella's children, and their children - while the wretch's words
were yet on his lips.
"Now, wolf," said he, "afore I kill you like any other beast -
which is wot I mean to do and wot I have tied you up for - I'll
have a good look at you and a good goad at you. Oh, you enemy!"
It had passed through my thoughts to cry out for help again; though
few could know better than I, the solitary nature of the spot, and
the hopelessness of aid. But as he sat gloating over me, I was
supported by a scornful detestation of him that sealed my lips.
Above all things, I resolved that I would not entreat him, and that
I would die making some last poor resistance to him. Softened as my
thoughts of all the rest of men were in that dire extremity; humbly
beseeching pardon, as I did, of Heaven; melted at heart, as I was,
by the thought that I had taken no farewell, and never never now
could take farewell, of those who were dear to me, or could explain
myself to them, or ask for their compassion on my miserable errors;
still, if I could have killed him, even in dying, I would have done
He had been drinking, and his eyes were red and bloodshot. Around
his neck was slung a tin bottle, as I had often seen his meat and
drink slung about him in other days. He brought the bottle to his
lips, and took a fiery drink from it; and I smelt the strong
spirits that I saw flash into his face.
"Wolf!" said he, folding his arms again, "Old Orlick's a-going to
tell you somethink. It was you as did for your shrew sister."
Again my mind, with its former inconceivable rapidity, had
exhausted the whole subject of the attack upon my sister, her
illness, and her death, before his slow and hesitating speech had
formed these words.
"It was you, villain," said I.
"I tell you it was your doing - I tell you it was done through
you," he retorted, catching up the gun, and making a blow with the
stock at the vacant air between us. "I come upon her from behind,
as I come upon you to-night. I giv' it her! I left her for dead,
and if there had been a limekiln as nigh her as there is now nigh
you, she shouldn't have come to life again. But it warn't Old
Orlick as did it; it was you. You was favoured, and he was bullied
and beat. Old Orlick bullied and beat, eh? Now you pays for it. You
done it; now you pays for it."
He drank again, and became more ferocious. I saw by his tilting of
the bottle that there was no great quantity left in it. I
distinctly understood that he was working himself up with its
contents, to make an end of me. I knew that every drop it held, was
a drop of my life. I knew that when I was changed into a part of
the vapour that had crept towards me but a little while before,
like my own warning ghost, he would do as he had done in my
sister's case - make all haste to the town, and be seen slouching
about there, drinking at the ale-houses.