Charles Dickens

Forasmuch as they hang

in my memory by only this one slender thread, I don't know what

they did, except that they forbore to remove me.

That I had a fever and was avoided, that I suffered greatly, that I

often lost my reason, that the time seemed interminable, that I

confounded impossible existences with my own identity; that I was a

brick in the house wall, and yet entreating to be released from the

giddy place where the builders had set me; that I was a steel beam

of a vast engine, clashing and whirling over a gulf, and yet that I

implored in my own person to have the engine stopped, and my part

in it hammered off; that I passed through these phases of disease,

I know of my own remembrance, and did in some sort know at the

time. That I sometimes struggled with real people, in the belief

that they were murderers, and that I would all at once comprehend

that they meant to do me good, and would then sink exhausted in

their arms, and suffer them to lay me down, I also knew at the

time. But, above all, I knew that there was a constant tendency in

all these people - who, when I was very ill, would present all

kinds of extraordinary transformations of the human face, and would

be much dilated in size - above all, I say, I knew that there was

an extraordinary tendency in all these people, sooner or later to

settle down into the likeness of Joe.

After I had turned the worst point of my illness, I began to notice

that while all its other features changed, this one consistent

feature did not change. Whoever came about me, still settled down

into Joe. I opened my eyes in the night, and I saw in the great

chair at the bedside, Joe. I opened my eyes in the day, and,

sitting on the window-seat, smoking his pipe in the shaded open

window, still I saw Joe. I asked for cooling drink, and the dear

hand that gave it me was Joe's. I sank back on my pillow after

drinking, and the face that looked so hopefully and tenderly upon

me was the face of Joe.

At last, one day, I took courage, and said, "Is it Joe?"

And the dear old home-voice answered, "Which it air, old chap."

"O Joe, you break my heart! Look angry at me, Joe. Strike me, Joe.

Tell me of my ingratitude. Don't be so good to me!"

For, Joe had actually laid his head down on the pillow at my side

and put his arm round my neck, in his joy that I knew him.

"Which dear old Pip, old chap," said Joe, "you and me was ever

friends. And when you're well enough to go out for a ride - what


After which, Joe withdrew to the window, and stood with his back

towards me, wiping his eyes. And as my extreme weakness prevented

me from getting up and going to him, I lay there, penitently

whispering, "O God bless him! O God bless this gentle Christian


Joe's eyes were red when I next found him beside me; but, I was

holding his hand, and we both felt happy.

"How long, dear Joe?"

"Which you meantersay, Pip, how long have your illness lasted, dear

old chap?"

"Yes, Joe."

"It's the end of May, Pip. To-morrow is the first of June."

"And have you been here all that time, dear Joe?"

"Pretty nigh, old chap. For, as I says to Biddy when the news of

your being ill were brought by letter, which it were brought by the

post and being formerly single he is now married though underpaid

for a deal of walking and shoe-leather, but wealth were not a

object on his part, and marriage were the great wish of his hart--"

"It is so delightful to hear you, Joe! But I interrupt you in what

you said to Biddy."

"Which it were," said Joe, "that how you might be amongst

strangers, and that how you and me having been ever friends, a

wisit at such a moment might not prove unacceptabobble. And Biddy,

her word were, 'Go to him, without loss of time.' That," said Joe,

summing up with his judicial air, "were the word of Biddy. 'Go to

him,' Biddy say, 'without loss of time.' In short, I shouldn't

greatly deceive you," Joe added, after a little grave reflection,

"if I represented to you that the word of that young woman were,

'without a minute's loss of time.'"

There Joe cut himself short, and informed me that I was to be

talked to in great moderation, and that I was to take a little

nourishment at stated frequent times, whether I felt inclined for

it or not, and that I was to submit myself to all his orders.