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."
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.