Charles Dickens

Mr. Jaggers had duly sent me his address; it was, Little Britain,

and he had written after it on his card, "just out of Smithfield,

and close by the coach-office." Nevertheless, a hackney-coachman,

who seemed to have as many capes to his greasy great-coat as he was

years old, packed me up in his coach and hemmed me in with a

folding and jingling barrier of steps, as if he were going to take

me fifty miles. His getting on his box, which I remember to have

been decorated with an old weather-stained pea-green hammercloth

moth-eaten into rags, was quite a work of time. It was a wonderful

equipage, with six great coronets outside, and ragged things behind

for I don't know how many footmen to hold on by, and a harrow below

them, to prevent amateur footmen from yielding to the temptation.

I had scarcely had time to enjoy the coach and to think how like a

straw-yard it was, and yet how like a rag-shop, and to wonder why

the horses' nose-bags were kept inside, when I observed the

coachman beginning to get down, as if we were going to stop

presently. And stop we presently did, in a gloomy street, at

certain offices with an open door, whereon was painted MR. JAGGERS.

"How much?" I asked the coachman.

The coachman answered, "A shilling - unless you wish to make it


I naturally said I had no wish to make it more.

"Then it must be a shilling," observed the coachman. "I don't want

to get into trouble. I know him!" He darkly closed an eye at Mr

Jaggers's name, and shook his head.

When he had got his shilling, and had in course of time completed

the ascent to his box, and had got away (which appeared to relieve

his mind), I went into the front office with my little portmanteau

in my hand and asked, Was Mr. Jaggers at home?

"He is not," returned the clerk. "He is in Court at present. Am I

addressing Mr. Pip?"

I signified that he was addressing Mr. Pip.

"Mr. Jaggers left word would you wait in his room. He couldn't say

how long he might be, having a case on. But it stands to reason,

his time being valuable, that he won't be longer than he can help."

With those words, the clerk opened a door, and ushered me into an

inner chamber at the back. Here, we found a gentleman with one eye,

in a velveteen suit and knee-breeches, who wiped his nose with his

sleeve on being interrupted in the perusal of the newspaper.

"Go and wait outside, Mike," said the clerk.

I began to say that I hoped I was not interrupting - when the clerk

shoved this gentleman out with as little ceremony as I ever saw

used, and tossing his fur cap out after him, left me alone.

Mr. Jaggers's room was lighted by a skylight only, and was a most

dismal place; the skylight, eccentrically pitched like a broken

head, and the distorted adjoining houses looking as if they had

twisted themselves to peep down at me through it. There were not so

many papers about, as I should have expected to see; and there were

some odd objects about, that I should not have expected to see -

such as an old rusty pistol, a sword in a scabbard, several

strange-looking boxes and packages, and two dreadful casts on a

shelf, of faces peculiarly swollen, and twitchy about the nose. Mr.

Jaggers's own high-backed chair was of deadly black horse-hair,

with rows of brass nails round it, like a coffin; and I fancied I

could see how he leaned back in it, and bit his forefinger at the

clients. The room was but small, and the clients seemed to have had

a habit of backing up against the wall: the wall, especially

opposite to Mr. Jaggers's chair, being greasy with shoulders. I

recalled, too, that the one-eyed gentleman had shuffled forth

against the wall when I was the innocent cause of his being turned


I sat down in the cliental chair placed over against Mr. Jaggers's

chair, and became fascinated by the dismal atmosphere of the place.

I called to mind that the clerk had the same air of knowing

something to everybody else's disadvantage, as his master had.