فصل 07

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فصل 07

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CHAPTER SEVEN

Learning to be a Gentleman

The journey took six hours and it was after midday when I reached London. I was amazed and frightened when I saw the city. London was crowded with hundreds of people and its streets were dirty.

I had the address of Mr Jaggers’ office in Little Britain, Cheapside. After asking the way, I started to walk along the narrow crowded streets. At last, I found a door with “Mr Jaggers” written on it.

The open door led into a small office. A clerk was working there. He looked up as I walked in.

‘Is Mr Jaggers here?’ I asked nervously.

‘Mr Jaggers is in court. He won’t be long,’ the clerk answered. ‘You are Mr Pip, I think. My name’s Wemmick. Come and wait in Mr Jaggers’ room.’

Mr Jaggers’ room was a dark, gloomy place. Its small window was very dirty and no light came through it. There was a big black chair for Mr Jaggers and a smaller one, on which I sat.

Mr Wemmick, the clerk, went on with his work. Mr Jaggers’ clerk was a short, neat man about fifty years old. He had a square face and a wide, thin mouth. His black eyes were very bright. On his fingers, he wore four or five silver and black rings.

By the time Mr Jaggers came back, several poorly-dressed people were waiting for him. They all began talking at once. They wanted him to speak for them in court.

Mr Jaggers spoke to them all in a stern and angry way. When they had gone, he came in to see me.

‘Here is your allowance, Pip,’ he said. ‘I think it’s too much money but that’s nothing to do with me. You’ll get into debt, of course, all young men get into debt,’ he added severely. ‘You are going to live at Barnard’s Inn with Mr Herbert Pocket. Wemmick will take you there.

‘Wemmick!’ Mr Jaggers then called out. ‘Walk with Pip to young Mr Pocket’s rooms.’

Wemmick gave me a wide smile. He led me through the busy streets, always looking straight in front of him.

‘Here we are, Barnard’s Inn,’ Wemmick said, turning down a narrow street into a little square. He led me to the corner building and pointed up some steep stairs.

‘Up there, top floor,’ he added. ‘As I look after your allowance I expect we shall meet often. Goodbye, Pip.’

I found Herbert’s name on a door at the top of the stairs. Under his name, there was a piece of paper. It said, “Back soon”.

I waited. A few minutes later, I heard quick footsteps on the stairs. A pale young man appeared, carrying a basket of strawberries.

‘Mr Pip, isn’t it?’ the young man said, with a smile. ‘I went to the market for some fruit. My father tells me you are to be my companion. I hope you will like living here. I’m sure we shall be friends.’

As the young man unlocked the door, I stared at him in surprise. Then he began to stare at me.

‘Why, you are the boy I fought in Miss Havisham’s garden!’ Herbert exclaimed.

‘And you are the pale young gentleman!’ I answered.

We both laughed cheerfully and shook hands.

‘It all seems so long ago,’ Herbert said. ‘Miss Havisham is my father’s cousin. She’s a very strange woman. You met Estella, of course. Miss Havisham adopted her to take revenge.’

‘Revenge? For what? What do you mean?’ I asked.

‘Don’t you know?’ Herbert replied. ‘It’s a very strange story. Mr Jaggers is your guardian, isn’t he? He’s Miss Havisham’s lawyer too, and he knows all her secrets.’

While we ate dinner, Herbert told me all he knew.

‘Miss Havisham’s father died. She and her brother were very rich,’ Herbert said. ‘But the brother spent his money carelessly and was soon in debt.

‘Miss Havisham’s brother had a very wicked friend. He was dishonest and he was a liar. Miss Havisham fell in love with this man. My father tried to warn Miss Havisham, but she would not listen. The two young people decided to get married and all the arrangements were made for the wedding. But on the wedding-day the bridegroom did not come. He sent Miss Havisham a letter saying he could not marry her.’

‘And did Miss Havisham receive that letter at twenty minutes to nine, as she was dressing herself for the wedding?’ I asked.

‘Exactly at that time,’ Herbert said. ‘As you know, everything in the house stopped at that moment. Miss Havisham has not seen the daylight since.’

‘When did she adopt Estella?’ I asked.

‘I don’t know,’ Herbert replied. ‘As long as I have known Miss Havisham, Estella has been at Satis House.

‘Miss Havisham wants to take revenge on all men,’ he went on. ‘Miss Havisham has brought up Estella to break men’s hearts, because her own heart was broken.’

The next day, Herbert took me to his father’s house in Hammersmith, to begin my education as a gentleman. I was to live there while I was studying. I also had my own room at Herbert’s. We got on well together. Herbert taught me how to dress in smart London clothes. He also showed me how to behave like a gentleman. I was able to help Herbert pay for his rooms with my allowance.

Herbert had little money and no expectations. His rooms were almost empty and not very comfortable. I had the idea of buying carpets and some more furniture. But to get these things I needed more money. Feeling a little afraid, I went to Mr Jaggers.

‘How much do you want?’ said Mr Jaggers sharply.

‘Well…’ I began.

‘Come, you must have an idea,’ Mr Jaggers went on in his stern way. ‘Shall we say fifty pounds?’

‘Oh, not nearly so much as that,’ I said quickly.

‘Five pounds then?’ Mr Jaggers suggested.

‘Oh, more than that!’ I exclaimed.

‘More than five,’ Mr Jaggers said slowly. ‘How much more? Twice five? Three times? Four times five? Will that do?’

I told Mr Jaggers that twenty pounds would do very well.

‘Wemmick!’ Mr Jaggers cried, as he left the office. ‘Give Mr Pip twenty pounds!’

‘I don’t think I understand Mr Jaggers,’ I said to Wemmick when we were alone.

‘He doesn’t expect you to understand him. He doesn’t want you to,’ Wemmick replied. ‘No one understands him - that’s why he’s so successful. Here’s your money, Mr Pip.’

Another young man was studying with Mr Matthew Pocket. His name was Bentley Drummle. He came from a good family and; he was very rich. Bentley Drummle was a gentleman but he did not behave like one. He was a big, awkward, clumsy young man. And he was proud and bad-tempered.

Mr Jaggers took an interest in Matthew Pocket’s young gentle - men. One day he invited us all to his house for dinner.

The food was good and we had plenty to drink. Mr Jaggers liked to watch us talking and arguing. He was interested to see how much Drummle and I hated each other.

Dinner was served by Mr Jaggers’ housekeeper. She was a tall woman of about forty. Her face was very pale, and her eyes were dark. Her long dark hair lay over her shoulders.

When the woman brought in the food, she looked only at Mr Jaggers. She was breathing quickly, as though she was afraid.

As he drank his wine, Bentley Drummle became more and more bad-tempered. He kept saying how strong he was. Very soon he and I had taken off our jackets to show how strong our arms were.

At that moment, the housekeeper came in to take the plates from the table. Mr Jaggers suddenly caught hold of one of her arms. He looked at us all and then spoke.

‘If you want to see strength,’ Mr Jaggers said, ‘look at this woman’s wrists. Molly, let them see your wrists - both of them.’

‘Master, no,’ the woman whispered, staring at Mr Jaggers with her strange, dark eyes.

‘Show them, Molly,’ Mr Jaggers said.

He held Molly’s wrists down on the table.

‘There’s power in those wrists,’ Mr Jaggers said. ‘Few men have the strength this woman has. She has used it too. She was wild once, but I have broken her.

‘That’ll do, Molly,’ Mr Jaggers said at last, letting go of his housekeeper’s wrists. ‘We have seen you. You can go.’

Mr Jaggers filled our wine glasses again. Very soon, Drummle and I were shouting at each other. We both stood up, ready to fight. But Mr Jaggers made us be quiet and told us it was time to go home.

I was ashamed of my behaviour. As we were leaving his house, I turned and apologized to Mr Jaggers.

‘It’s nothing, Pip,’ Mr Jaggers replied. ‘But be careful of that young man, Drummle. He’s bad-tempered and cruel. He could be dangerous. Take care, Pip. Bentley Drummle will make a bad enemy.’

I followed Mr Jaggers’ advice. I was pleased when Drummle completed his studies and left Mr Pocket’s house.

I was so busy learning to be a gentleman, that I did not write to Joe and Biddy. They were part of my old life, a life I wanted to forget. I was a gentleman now. I did not want to remember that I had been a poor, uneducated blacksmith.

Then one day I received a letter.

My dear Mr Pip,

I am writing to you at the request of Mr Gargery. He is going to London and will call on you at nine o’clock on Tuesday morning. Your poor sister, Mrs Joe, is still not well. Mr Gargery and I talk about you every night.

Your servant and friend, Biddy.

The letter arrived on Monday. I did not wish to see Joe, but I prepared a big breakfast for him. Herbert and I were ready and waiting long before nine o’clock.

At last I heard Joe’s heavy step on the stairs. I heard him stop and slowly read my name on the door. Then he knocked.

‘Joe, how are you, Joe?’ I cried, as I opened the door.

‘Tip old chap, how are you?’ Joe answered, taking my hand in his.

Joe’s honest face shone with joy. He shook my hand so much that I thought he would never stop.

Joe looked awkward and uncomfortable in his best clothes. He took off his hat and twisted it round and round in his great hands. He stared around the room and stared at my brightly-coloured dressing-gown.

‘Well, what a gentleman you are, Pip!’ he exclaimed.

‘And you look well too, Joe,’ I answered. ‘Let me take your hat.’ But Joe held his hat all through the meal.

‘Tea or coffee, Mr Gargery?’ Herbert asked politely.

‘Thank you kindly, sir. I’ll take whatever you’ll be taking yourself,’ Joe answered.

‘Coffee then,’ Herbert said cheerfully. But Joe looked so unhappy that, with a kind smile, Herbert gave him some tea.

Joe was uncomfortable and awkward with us and this made me angry. I was too stupid to see that it was my fault. I should not have been ashamed of him. I was glad when Herbert left us to go to work.

‘Now we are alone, sir…’ Joe began, but I interrupted him angrily.

‘Why do you call me “sir”, Joe?’ I asked.

‘Now we are alone, sir,’ Joe repeated slowly, ‘I must tell you why I am here, in the home of a gentleman.’

I said nothing.

‘Well, sir - Pip,’ Joe went on, ‘Miss Havisham asked to see me. She has a message for you. And the message is that Estella has come home and would be glad to see you.’

At the sound of Estella’s name, my heart began to beat very fast. I did not answer Joe. I could only think of Estella.

Joe stood up, twisting his hat in his hand.

‘Don’t leave, Joe,’ I said. ‘You must stay to dinner.’

‘No, Pip old chap,’ Joe answered. ‘You are a gentleman now. It’s not right for me to be here in London. But if you ever come back and visit us at the forge, you will be very welcome. Until then, I’ll say goodbye. Goodbye and God bless you, Pip old chap.’

And before I could answer, Joe had gone.

I sat at the table, excited and confused. Miss Havisham had plans for Estella and me, that was clear. Miss Havisham had made me a gentleman, so that Estella could marry me. With joy in my heart, I began to prepare for my journey.

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