But he said nothing after offering his Blue Blazes
observation, until the glasses of rum-and-water were brought; and
then he made his shot, and a most extraordinary shot it was.
It was not a verbal remark, but a proceeding in dump show, and was
pointedly addressed to me. He stirred his rum-and-water pointedly
at me, and he tasted his rum-and-water pointedly at me. And he
stirred it and he tasted it: not with a spoon that was brought to
him, but with a file.
He did this so that nobody but I saw the file; and when he had done
it he wiped the file and put it in a breast-pocket. I knew it to be
Joe's file, and I knew that he knew my convict, the moment I saw
the instrument. I sat gazing at him, spell-bound. But he now
reclined on his settle, taking very little notice of me, and
talking principally about turnips.
There was a delicious sense of cleaning-up and making a quiet pause
before going on in life afresh, in our village on Saturday nights,
which stimulated Joe to dare to stay out half an hour longer on
Saturdays than at other times. The half hour and the rum-and-water
running out together, Joe got up to go, and took me by the hand.
"Stop half a moment, Mr. Gargery," said the strange man. "I think
I've got a bright new shilling somewhere in my pocket, and if I
have, the boy shall have it."
He looked it out from a handful of small change, folded it in some
crumpled paper, and gave it to me. "Yours!" said he. "Mind! Your
I thanked him, staring at him far beyond the bounds of good
manners, and holding tight to Joe. He gave Joe good-night, and he
gave Mr. Wopsle good-night (who went out with us), and he gave me
only a look with his aiming eye - no, not a look, for he shut it
up, but wonders may be done with an eye by hiding it.
On the way home, if I had been in a humour for talking, the talk
must have been all on my side, for Mr. Wopsle parted from us at the
door of the Jolly Bargemen, and Joe went all the way home with his
mouth wide open, to rinse the rum out with as much air as possible.
But I was in a manner stupefied by this turning up of my old
misdeed and old acquaintance, and could think of nothing else.
My sister was not in a very bad temper when we presented ourselves
in the kitchen, and Joe was encouraged by that unusual circumstance
to tell her about the bright shilling. "A bad un, I'll be bound,"
said Mrs. Joe triumphantly, "or he wouldn't have given it to the
boy! Let's look at it."
I took it out of the paper, and it proved to be a good one. "But
what's this?" said Mrs. Joe, throwing down the shilling and catching
up the paper. "Two One-Pound notes?"
Nothing less than two fat sweltering one-pound notes that seemed to
have been on terms of the warmest intimacy with all the cattle
markets in the county. Joe caught up his hat again, and ran with
them to the Jolly Bargemen to restore them to their owner. While he
was gone, I sat down on my usual stool and looked vacantly at my
sister, feeling pretty sure that the man would not be there.
Presently, Joe came back, saying that the man was gone, but that
he, Joe, had left word at the Three Jolly Bargemen concerning the
notes. Then my sister sealed them up in a piece of paper, and put
them under some dried rose-leaves in an ornamental tea-pot on the
top of a press in the state parlour. There they remained, a
nightmare to me, many and many a night and day.
I had sadly broken sleep when I got to bed, through thinking of the
strange man taking aim at me with his invisible gun, and of the
guiltily coarse and common thing it was, to be on secret terms of
conspiracy with convicts - a feature in my low career that I had
previously forgotten. I was haunted by the file too. A dread
possessed me that when I least expected it, the file would
reappear. I coaxed myself to sleep by thinking of Miss Havisham's,
next Wednesday; and in my sleep I saw the file coming at me out of
a door, without seeing who held it, and I screamed myself awake.