Charles Dickens

"I don't know," I moodily answered.

"Because, if it is to spite her," Biddy pursued, "I should think -

but you know best - that might be better and more independently

done by caring nothing for her words. And if it is to gain her

over, I should think - but you know best - she was not worth

gaining over."

Exactly what I myself had thought, many times. Exactly what was

perfectly manifest to me at the moment. But how could I, a poor

dazed village lad, avoid that wonderful inconsistency into which

the best and wisest of men fall every day?

"It may be all quite true," said I to Biddy, "but I admire her


In short, I turned over on my face when I came to that, and got a

good grasp on the hair on each side of my head, and wrenched it

well. All the while knowing the madness of my heart to be so very

mad and misplaced, that I was quite conscious it would have served

my face right, if I had lifted it up by my hair, and knocked it

against the pebbles as a punishment for belonging to such an idiot.

Biddy was the wisest of girls, and she tried to reason no more with

me. She put her hand, which was a comfortable hand though roughened

by work, upon my hands, one after another, and gently took them out

of my hair. Then she softly patted my shoulder in a soothing way,

while with my face upon my sleeve I cried a little - exactly as I

had done in the brewery yard - and felt vaguely convinced that I

was very much ill-used by somebody, or by everybody; I can't say


"I am glad of one thing," said Biddy, "and that is, that you have

felt you could give me your confidence, Pip. And I am glad of

another thing, and that is, that of course you know you may depend

upon my keeping it and always so far deserving it. If your first

teacher (dear! such a poor one, and so much in need of being taught

herself!) had been your teacher at the present time, she thinks she

knows what lesson she would set. But It would be a hard one to

learn, and you have got beyond her, and it's of no use now." So,

with a quiet sigh for me, Biddy rose from the bank, and said, with

a fresh and pleasant change of voice, "Shall we walk a little

further, or go home?"

"Biddy," I cried, getting up, putting my arm round her neck, and

giving her a kiss, "I shall always tell you everything."

"Till you're a gentleman," said Biddy.

"You know I never shall be, so that's always. Not that I have any

occasion to tell you anything, for you know everything I know - as

I told you at home the other night."

"Ah!" said Biddy, quite in a whisper, as she looked away at the

ships. And then repeated, with her former pleasant change; "shall

we walk a little further, or go home?"

I said to Biddy we would walk a little further, and we did so, and

the summer afternoon toned down into the summer evening, and it was

very beautiful. I began to consider whether I was not more

naturally and wholesomely situated, after all, in these

circumstances, than playing beggar my neighbour by candlelight in

the room with the stopped clocks, and being despised by Estella. I

thought it would be very good for me if I could get her out of my

head, with all the rest of those remembrances and fancies, and

could go to work determined to relish what I had to do, and stick

to it, and make the best of it. I asked myself the question whether

I did not surely know that if Estella were beside me at that moment

instead of Biddy, she would make me miserable? I was obliged to

admit that I did know it for a certainty, and I said to myself,

"Pip, what a fool you are!"

We talked a good deal as we walked, and all that Biddy said seemed

right. Biddy was never insulting, or capricious, or Biddy to-day

and somebody else to-morrow; she would have derived only pain, and

no pleasure, from giving me pain; she would far rather have wounded

her own breast than mine. How could it be, then, that I did not

like her much the better of the two?

"Biddy," said I, when we were walking homeward, "I wish you could

put me right."

"I wish I could!" said Biddy.