Charles Dickens

Pocket, when she too

went fairly head foremost over Mrs. Pocket, baby and all, and was

caught by Herbert and myself.

"Gracious me, Flopson!" said Mrs. Pocket, looking off her book for a

moment, "everybody's tumbling!"

"Gracious you, indeed, Mum!" returned Flopson, very red in the

face; "what have you got there?"

"I got here, Flopson?" asked Mrs. Pocket.

"Why, if it ain't your footstool!" cried Flopson. "And if you keep

it under your skirts like that, who's to help tumbling? Here! Take

the baby, Mum, and give me your book."

Mrs. Pocket acted on the advice, and inexpertly danced the infant a

little in her lap, while the other children played about it. This

had lasted but a very short time, when Mrs. Pocket issued summary

orders that they were all to be taken into the house for a nap.

Thus I made the second discovery on that first occasion, that the

nurture of the little Pockets consisted of alternately tumbling up

and lying down.

Under these circumstances, when Flopson and Millers had got the

children into the house, like a little flock of sheep, and Mr.

Pocket came out of it to make my acquaintance, I was not much

surprised to find that Mr. Pocket was a gentleman with a rather

perplexed expression of face, and with his very grey hair

disordered on his head, as if he didn't quite see his way to

putting anything straight.

Chapter 23

Mr. Pocket said he was glad to see me, and he hoped I was not sorry

to see him. "For, I really am not," he added, with his son's smile,

"an alarming personage." He was a young-looking man, in spite of

his perplexities and his very grey hair, and his manner seemed

quite natural. I use the word natural, in the sense of its being

unaffected; there was something comic in his distraught way, as

though it would have been downright ludicrous but for his own

perception that it was very near being so. When he had talked with

me a little, he said to Mrs. Pocket, with a rather anxious

contraction of his eyebrows, which were black and handsome,

"Belinda, I hope you have welcomed Mr. Pip?" And she looked up from

her book, and said, "Yes." She then smiled upon me in an absent

state of mind, and asked me if I liked the taste of orange-flower

water? As the question had no bearing, near or remote, on any

foregone or subsequent transaction, I consider it to have been

thrown out, like her previous approaches, in general conversational


I found out within a few hours, and may mention at once, that Mrs.

Pocket was the only daughter of a certain quite accidental deceased

Knight, who had invented for himself a conviction that his deceased

father would have been made a Baronet but for somebody's determined

opposition arising out of entirely personal motives - I forget

whose, if I ever knew - the Sovereign's, the Prime Minister's, the

Lord Chancellor's, the Archbishop of Canterbury's, anybody's - and

had tacked himself on to the nobles of the earth in right of this

quite supposititious fact. I believe he had been knighted himself

for storming the English grammar at the point of the pen, in a

desperate address engrossed on vellum, on the occasion of the

laying of the first stone of some building or other, and for

handing some Royal Personage either the trowel or the mortar. Be

that as it may, he had directed Mrs. Pocket to be brought up from

her cradle as one who in the nature of things must marry a title,

and who was to be guarded from the acquisition of plebeian domestic


So successful a watch and ward had been established over the young

lady by this judicious parent, that she had grown up highly

ornamental, but perfectly helpless and useless. With her character

thus happily formed, in the first bloom of her youth she had

encountered Mr. Pocket: who was also in the first bloom of youth,

and not quite decided whether to mount to the Woolsack, or to roof

himself in with a mitre.