Charles Dickens

"But I must say more. Dear Joe, I hope you will have children to

love, and that some little fellow will sit in this chimney corner

of a winter night, who may remind you of another little fellow gone

out of it for ever. Don't tell him, Joe, that I was thankless;

don't tell him, Biddy, that I was ungenerous and unjust; only tell

him that I honoured you both, because you were both so good and

true, and that, as your child, I said it would be natural to him to

grow up a much better man than I did."

"I ain't a-going," said Joe, from behind his sleeve, "to tell him

nothink o' that natur, Pip. Nor Biddy ain't. Nor yet no one ain't."

"And now, though I know you have already done it in your own kind

hearts, pray tell me, both, that you forgive me! Pray let me hear

you say the words, that I may carry the sound of them away with me,

and then I shall be able to believe that you can trust me, and

think better of me, in the time to come!"

"O dear old Pip, old chap," said Joe. "God knows as I forgive you,

if I have anythink to forgive!"

"Amen! And God knows I do!" echoed Biddy.

Now let me go up and look at my old little room, and rest there a few

minutes by myself, and then when I have eaten and drunk with you,

go with me as far as the finger-post, dear Joe and Biddy, before we

say good-bye!"

I sold all I had, and put aside as much as I could, for a

composition with my creditors - who gave me ample time to pay them

in full - and I went out and joined Herbert. Within a month, I had

quitted England, and within two months I was clerk to Clarriker and

Co., and within four months I assumed my first undivided

responsibility. For, the beam across the parlour ceiling at Mill

Pond Bank, had then ceased to tremble under old Bill Barley's

growls and was at peace, and Herbert had gone away to marry Clara,

and I was left in sole charge of the Eastern Branch until he

brought her back.

Many a year went round, before I was a partner in the House; but,

I lived happily with Herbert and his wife, and lived frugally, and

paid my debts, and maintained a constant correspondence with Biddy

and Joe. It was not until I became third in the Firm, that

Clarriker betrayed me to Herbert; but, he then declared that the

secret of Herbert's partnership had been long enough upon his

conscience, and he must tell it. So, he told it, and Herbert was as

much moved as amazed, and the dear fellow and I were not the worse

friends for the long concealment. I must not leave it to be

supposed that we were ever a great house, or that we made mints of

money. We were not in a grand way of business, but we had a good

name, and worked for our profits, and did very well. We owed so

much to Herbert's ever cheerful industry and readiness, that I

often wondered how I had conceived that old idea of his inaptitude,

until I was one day enlightened by the reflection, that perhaps the

inaptitude had never been in him at all, but had been in me.

Chapter 59

For eleven years, I had not seen Joe nor Biddy with my bodily

eyes-though they had both been often before my fancy in the

East-when, upon an evening in December, an hour or two after dark,

I laid my hand softly on the latch of the old kitchen door. I

touched it so softly that I was not heard, and looked in unseen.

There, smoking his pipe in the old place by the kitchen firelight,

as hale and as strong as ever though a little grey, sat Joe; and

there, fenced into the corner with Joe's leg, and sitting on my own

little stool looking at the fire, was - I again!

"We giv' him the name of Pip for your sake, dear old chap," said

Joe, delighted when I took another stool by the child's side (but I

did not rumple his hair), "and we hoped he might grow a little bit

like you, and we think he do."

I thought so too, and I took him out for a walk next morning, and

we talked immensely, understanding one another to perfection.