Charles Dickens

It was pleasant to observe that Mrs.

Wemmick no longer unwound Wemmick's arm when it adapted itself to

her figure, but sat in a high-backed chair against the wall, like a

violoncello in its case, and submitted to be embraced as that

melodious instrument might have done.

We had an excellent breakfast, and when any one declined anything

on table, Wemmick said, "Provided by contract, you know; don't be

afraid of it!" I drank to the new couple, drank to the Aged, drank

to the Castle, saluted the bride at parting, and made myself as

agreeable as I could.

Wemmick came down to the door with me, and I again shook hands with

him, and wished him joy.

"Thankee!" said Wemmick, rubbing his hands. "She's such a manager

of fowls, you have no idea. You shall have some eggs, and judge for

yourself. I say, Mr. Pip!" calling me back, and speaking low. "This

is altogether a Walworth sentiment, please."

"I understand. Not to be mentioned in Little Britain," said I.

Wemmick nodded. "After what you let out the other day, Mr. Jaggers

may as well not know of it. He might think my brain was softening,

or something of the kind."

Chapter 56

He lay in prison very ill, during the whole interval between his

committal for trial, and the coming round of the Sessions. He had

broken two ribs, they had wounded one of his lungs, and he breathed

with great pain and difficulty, which increased daily. It was a

consequence of his hurt, that he spoke so low as to be scarcely

audible; therefore, he spoke very little. But, he was ever ready to

listen to me, and it became the first duty of my life to say to

him, and read to him, what I knew he ought to hear.

Being far too ill to remain in the common prison, he was removed,

after the first day or so, into the infirmary. This gave me

opportunities of being with him that I could not otherwise have

had. And but for his illness he would have been put in irons, for

he was regarded as a determined prison-breaker, and I know not what


Although I saw him every day, it was for only a short time; hence,

the regularly recurring spaces of our separation were long enough

to record on his face any slight changes that occurred in his

physical state. I do not recollect that I once saw any change in it

for the better; he wasted, and became slowly weaker and worse, day

by day, from the day when the prison door closed upon him.

The kind of submission or resignation that he showed, was that of a

man who was tired out. I sometimes derived an impression, from his

manner or from a whispered word or two which escaped him, that he

pondered over the question whether he might have been a better man

under better circumstances. But, he never justified himself by a

hint tending that way, or tried to bend the past out of its eternal


It happened on two or three occasions in my presence, that his

desperate reputation was alluded to by one or other of the people

in attendance on him. A smile crossed his face then, and he turned

his eyes on me with a trustful look, as if he were confident that I

had seen some small redeeming touch in him, even so long ago as when

I was a little child. As to all the rest, he was humble and

contrite, and I never knew him complain.

When the Sessions came round, Mr. Jaggers caused an application to

be made for the postponement of his trial until the following

Sessions. It was obviously made with the assurance that he could

not live so long, and was refused. The trial came on at once, and,

when he was put to the bar, he was seated in a chair. No objection

was made to my getting close to the dock, on the outside of it, and

holding the hand that he stretched forth to me.

The trial was very short and very clear. Such things as could be

said for him, were said - how he had taken to industrious habits,

and had thriven lawfully and reputably. But, nothing could unsay

the fact that he had returned, and was there in presence of the

Judge and Jury.