Charles Dickens

So, I

kissed his hand, and lay quiet, while he proceeded to indite a note

to Biddy, with my love in it.

Evidently, Biddy had taught Joe to write. As I lay in bed looking

at him, it made me, in my weak state, cry again with pleasure to

see the pride with which he set about his letter. My bedstead,

divested of its curtains, had been removed, with me upon it, into

the sittingroom, as the airiest and largest, and the carpet had

been taken away, and the room kept always fresh and wholesome night

and day. At my own writing-table, pushed into a corner and cumbered

with little bottles, Joe now sat down to his great work, first

choosing a pen from the pen-tray as if it were a chest of large

tools, and tucking up his sleeves as if he were going to wield a

crowbar or sledgehammer. It was necessary for Joe to hold on

heavily to the table with his left elbow, and to get his right leg

well out behind him, before he could begin, and when he did begin,

he made every down-stroke so slowly that it might have been six

feet long, while at every up-stroke I could hear his pen

spluttering extensively. He had a curious idea that the inkstand

was on the side of him where it was not, and constantly dipped his

pen into space, and seemed quite satisfied with the result.

Occasionally, he was tripped up by some orthographical

stumbling-block, but on the whole he got on very well indeed, and

when he had signed his name, and had removed a finishing blot from

the paper to the crown of his head with his two forefingers, he got

up and hovered about the table, trying the effect of his

performance from various points of view as it lay there, with

unbounded satisfaction.

Not to make Joe uneasy by talking too much, even if I had been able

to talk much, I deferred asking him about Miss Havisham until next

day. He shook his head when I then asked him if she had recovered.

"Is she dead, Joe?"

"Why you see, old chap," said Joe, in a tone of remonstrance, and

by way of getting at it by degrees, "I wouldn't go so far as to say

that, for that's a deal to say; but she ain't--"

"Living, Joe?"

"That's nigher where it is," said Joe; "she ain't living."

"Did she linger long, Joe?"

"Arter you was took ill, pretty much about what you might call (if

you was put to it) a week," said Joe; still determined, on my

account, to come at everything by degrees.

"Dear Joe, have you heard what becomes of her property?"

"Well, old chap," said Joe, "it do appear that she had settled the

most of it, which I meantersay tied it up, on Miss Estella. But she

had wrote out a little coddleshell in her own hand a day or two

afore the accident, leaving a cool four thousand to Mr. Matthew

Pocket. And why, do you suppose, above all things, Pip, she left

that cool four thousand unto him? 'Because of Pip's account of him

the said Matthew.' I am told by Biddy, that air the writing," said

Joe, repeating the legal turn as if it did him infinite good,

'account of him the said Matthew.' And a cool four thousand, Pip!"

I never discovered from whom Joe derived the conventional

temperature of the four thousand pounds, but it appeared to make

the sum of money more to him, and he had a manifest relish in

insisting on its being cool.

This account gave me great joy, as it perfected the only good thing

I had done. I asked Joe whether he had heard if any of the other

relations had any legacies?

"Miss Sarah," said Joe, "she have twenty-five pound perannium fur

to buy pills, on account of being bilious. Miss Georgiana, she have

twenty pound down. Mrs. - what's the name of them wild beasts with

humps, old chap?"

"Camels?" said I, wondering why he could possibly want to know.

Joe nodded. "Mrs. Camels," by which I presently understood he meant

Camilla, "she have five pound fur to buy rushlights to put her in

spirits when she wake up in the night."

The accuracy of these recitals was sufficiently obvious to me, to

give me great confidence in Joe's information.