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
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."
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,
"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.