Charles Dickens

Wopsle, eyeing it, much at a loss.

"Is it," pursued the stranger in his most sarcastic and suspicious

manner, "the printed paper you have just been reading from?"


"Undoubtedly. Now, turn to that paper, and tell me whether it

distinctly states that the prisoner expressly said that his legal

advisers instructed him altogether to reserve his defence?"

"I read that just now," Mr. Wopsle pleaded.

"Never mind what you read just now, sir; I don't ask you what you

read just now. You may read the Lord's Prayer backwards, if you

like - and, perhaps, have done it before to-day. Turn to the paper.

No, no, no my friend; not to the top of the column; you know better

than that; to the bottom, to the bottom." (We all began to think Mr.

Wopsle full of subterfuge.) "Well? Have you found it?"

"Here it is," said Mr. Wopsle.

"Now, follow that passage with your eye, and tell me whether it

distinctly states that the prisoner expressly said that he was

instructed by his legal advisers wholly to reserve his defence?

Come! Do you make that of it?"

Mr. Wopsle answered, "Those are not the exact words."

"Not the exact words!" repeated the gentleman, bitterly. "Is that

the exact substance?"

"Yes," said Mr. Wopsle.

"Yes," repeated the stranger, looking round at the rest of the

company with his right hand extended towards the witness, Wopsle.

"And now I ask you what you say to the conscience of that man who,

with that passage before his eyes, can lay his head upon his pillow

after having pronounced a fellow-creature guilty, unheard?"

We all began to suspect that Mr. Wopsle was not the man we had

thought him, and that he was beginning to be found out.

"And that same man, remember," pursued the gentleman, throwing his

finger at Mr. Wopsle heavily; "that same man might be summoned as a

juryman upon this very trial, and, having thus deeply committed

himself, might return to the bosom of his family and lay his head

upon his pillow, after deliberately swearing that he would well and

truly try the issue joined between Our Sovereign Lord the King and

the prisoner at the bar, and would a true verdict give according to

the evidence, so help him God!"

We were all deeply persuaded that the unfortunate Wopsle had gone

too far, and had better stop in his reckless career while there was

yet time.

The strange gentleman, with an air of authority not to be disputed,

and with a manner expressive of knowing something secret about

every one of us that would effectually do for each individual if he

chose to disclose it, left the back of the settle, and came into

the space between the two settles, in front of the fire, where he

remained standing: his left hand in his pocket, and he biting the

forefinger of his right.

"From information I have received," said he, looking round at us as

we all quailed before him, "I have reason to believe there is a

blacksmith among you, by name Joseph - or Joe - Gargery. Which is

the man?"

"Here is the man," said Joe.

The strange gentleman beckoned him out of his place, and Joe went.

"You have an apprentice," pursued the stranger, "commonly known as

Pip? Is he here?"

"I am here!" I cried.

The stranger did not recognize me, but I recognized him as the

gentleman I had met on the stairs, on the occasion of my second

visit to Miss Havisham. I had known him the moment I saw him

looking over the settle, and now that I stood confronting him with

his hand upon my shoulder, I checked off again in detail, his large

head, his dark complexion, his deep-set eyes, his bushy black

eyebrows, his large watch-chain, his strong black dots of beard and

whisker, and even the smell of scented soap on his great hand.

"I wish to have a private conference with you two," said he, when

he had surveyed me at his leisure. "It will take a little time.

Perhaps we had better go to your place of residence.