Charles Dickens

I thought it had the most dismal

trees in it, and the most dismal sparrows, and the most dismal

cats, and the most dismal houses (in number half a dozen or so),

that I had ever seen. I thought the windows of the sets of chambers

into which those houses were divided, were in every stage of

dilapidated blind and curtain, crippled flower-pot, cracked glass,

dusty decay, and miserable makeshift; while To Let To Let To Let,

glared at me from empty rooms, as if no new wretches ever came

there, and the vengeance of the soul of Barnard were being slowly

appeased by the gradual suicide of the present occupants and their

unholy interment under the gravel. A frouzy mourning of soot and

smoke attired this forlorn creation of Barnard, and it had strewn

ashes on its head, and was undergoing penance and humiliation as a

mere dust-hole. Thus far my sense of sight; while dry rot and wet

rot and all the silent rots that rot in neglected roof and cellar -

rot of rat and mouse and bug and coaching-stables near at hand

besides - addressed themselves faintly to my sense of smell, and

moaned, "Try Barnard's Mixture."

So imperfect was this realization of the first of my great

expectations, that I looked in dismay at Mr. Wemmick. "Ah!" said he,

mistaking me; "the retirement reminds you of the country. So it

does me."

He led me into a corner and conducted me up a flight of stairs -

which appeared to me to be slowly collapsing into sawdust, so that

one of those days the upper lodgers would look out at their doors

and find themselves without the means of coming down - to a set of

chambers on the top floor. MR. POCKET, JUN., was painted on the

door, and there was a label on the letter-box, "Return shortly."

"He hardly thought you'd come so soon," Mr. Wemmick explained. "You

don't want me any more?"

"No, thank you," said I.

"As I keep the cash," Mr. Wemmick observed, "we shall most likely

meet pretty often. Good day."

"Good day."

I put out my hand, and Mr. Wemmick at first looked at it as if he

thought I wanted something. Then he looked at me, and said,

correcting himself,

"To be sure! Yes. You're in the habit of shaking hands?"

I was rather confused, thinking it must be out of the London

fashion, but said yes.

"I have got so out of it!" said Mr. Wemmick - "except at last. Very

glad, I'm sure, to make your acquaintance. Good day!"

When we had shaken hands and he was gone, I opened the staircase

window and had nearly beheaded myself, for, the lines had rotted

away, and it came down like the guillotine. Happily it was so quick

that I had not put my head out. After this escape, I was content to

take a foggy view of the Inn through the window's encrusting dirt,

and to stand dolefully looking out, saying to myself that London

was decidedly overrated.

Mr. Pocket, Junior's, idea of Shortly was not mine, for I had nearly

maddened myself with looking out for half an hour, and had written

my name with my finger several times in the dirt of every pane in

the window, before I heard footsteps on the stairs. Gradually there

arose before me the hat, head, neckcloth, waistcoat, trousers,

boots, of a member of society of about my own standing. He had a

paper-bag under each arm and a pottle of strawberries in one hand,

and was out of breath.

"Mr. Pip?" said he.

"Mr. Pocket?" said I.

"Dear me!" he exclaimed. "I am extremely sorry; but I knew there

was a coach from your part of the country at midday, and I thought

you would come by that one. The fact is, I have been out on your

account - not that that is any excuse - for I thought, coming from

the country, you might like a little fruit after dinner, and I went

to Covent Garden Market to get it good."

For a reason that I had, I felt as if my eyes would start out of my

head. I acknowledged his attention incoherently, and began to think

this was a dream.