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Chapter 12

MY mind grew very uneasy on the subject of the pale young gentleman. The more I thought of the fight, and recalled the pale young gentleman on his back in various stages of puffy and incrimsoned countenance, the more certain it appeared that something would be done to me. I felt that the pale young gentleman's blood was on my head, and that the Law would avenge it. Without having any definite idea of the penalties I had incurred, it was clear to me that village boys could not go stalking about the country, ravaging the houses of gentlefolks and pitching into the studious youth of England, without laying themselves open to severe punishment. For some days, I even kept close at home, and looked out at the kitchen door with the greatest caution and trepidation before going on an errand, lest the officers of the County Jail should pounce upon me. The pale young gentleman's nose had stained my trousers, and I tried to wash out that evidence of my guilt in the dead of night. I had cut my knuckles against the pale young gentleman's teeth, and I twisted my imagination into a thousand tangles, as I devised incredible ways of accounting for that damnatory circumstance when I should be haled before the Judges.
When the day came round for my return to the scene of the deed of violence, my terrors reached their height. Whether myrmidons of Justice, specially sent down from London, would be lying in ambush behind the gate? Whether Miss Havisham, preferring to take personal vengeance for an outrage done to her house, might rise in those grave-clothes of hers, draw a pistol, and shoot me dead? Whether suborned boys - a numerous band of mercenaries - might be engaged to fall upon me in the brewery, and cuff me until I was no more? It was high testimony to my confidence in the spirit of the pale young gentleman, that I never imagined him accessory to these retaliations; they always came into my mind as the acts of injudicious relatives of his, goaded on by the state of his visage and an indignant sympathy with the family features.

However, go to Miss Havisham's I must, and go I did. And behold! nothing came of the late struggle. It was not alluded to in any way, and no pale young gentleman was to be discovered on the premises. I found the same gate open, and I explored the garden, and even looked in at the windows of the detached house; but, my view was suddenly stopped by the closed shutters within, and all was lifeless. Only in the corner where the combat had taken place, could I detect any evidence of the young gentleman's existence. There were traces of his gore in that spot, and I covered them with garden-mould from the eye of man.

On the broad landing between Miss Havisham's own room and that other room in which the long table was laid out, I saw a garden-chair - a light chair on wheels, that you pushed from behind. It had been placed there since my last visit, and I entered, that same day, on a regular occupation of pushing Miss Havisham in this chair (when she was tired of walking with her hand upon my shoulder) round her own room, and across the landing, and round the other room. Over and over and over again, we would make these journeys, and sometimes they would last as long as three hours at a stretch. I insensibly fall into a general mention of these journeys as numerous, because it was at once settled that I should return every alternate day at noon for these purposes, and because I am now going to sum up a period of at least eight or ten months.

As we began to be more used to one another, Miss Havisham talked more to me, and asked me such questions as what had I learnt and what was I going to be? I told her I was going to be apprenticed to Joe, I believed; and I enlarged upon my knowing nothing and wanting to know everything, in the hope that she might offer some help towards that desirable end. But, she did not; on the contrary, she seemed to prefer my being ignorant. Neither did she ever give me any money - or anything but my daily dinner - nor even stipulate that I should be paid for my services.

Estella was always about, and always let me in and out, but never told me I might kiss her again. Sometimes, she would coldly tolerate me; sometimes, she would condescend to me; sometimes, she would be quite familiar with me; sometimes, she would tell me energetically that she hated me. Miss Havisham would often ask me in a whisper, or when we were alone, `Does she grow prettier and prettier, Pip?' And when I said yes (for indeed she did), would seem to enjoy it greedily. Also, when we played at cards Miss Havisham would look on, with a miserly relish of Estella's moods, whatever they were. And sometimes, when her moods were so many and so contradictory of one another that I was puzzled what to say or do, Miss Havisham would embrace her with lavish fondness, murmuring something in her ear that sounded like `Break their hearts my pride and hope, break their hearts and have no mercy!'

There was a song Joe used to hum fragments of at the forge, of which the burden was Old Clem. This was not a very ceremonious way of rendering homage to a patron saint; but, I believe Old Clem stood in that relation towards smiths. It was a song that imitated the measure of beating upon iron, and was a mere lyrical excuse for the introduction of Old Clem's respected name. Thus, you were to hammer boys round - Old Clem! With a thump and a sound - Old Clem! Beat it out, beat it out - Old Clem! With a clink for the stout - Old Clem! Blow the fire, blow the fire - Old Clem! Roaring dryer, soaring higher - Old Clem! One day soon after the appearance of the chair, Miss Havisham suddenly saying to me, with the impatient movement of her fingers, `There, there, there! Sing!' I was surprised into crooning this ditty as I pushed her over the floor. It happened so to catch her fancy, that she took it up in a low brooding voice as if she were singing in her sleep. After that, it became customary with us to have it as we moved about, and Estella would often join in; though the whole strain was so subdued, even when there were three of us, that it made less noise in the grim old house than the lightest breath of wind.

What could I become with these surroundings? How could my character fail to be influenced by them? Is it to be wondered at if my thoughts were dazed, as my eyes were, when I came out into the natural light from the misty yellow rooms?

Perhaps, I might have told Joe about the pale young gentleman, if I had not previously been betrayed into those enormous inventions to which I had confessed. Under the circumstances, I felt that Joe could hardly fail to discern in the pale young gentleman, an appropriate passenger to be put into the black velvet coach; therefore, I said nothing of him. Besides: that shrinking from having Miss Havisham and Estella discussed, which had come upon me in the beginning, grew much more potent as time went on. I reposed complete confidence in no one but Biddy; but, I told poor Biddy everything. Why it came natural to me to do so, and why Biddy had a deep concern in everything I told her, I did not know then, though I think I know now.

Meanwhile, councils went on in the kitchen at home, fraught with almost insupportable aggravation to my exasperated spirit. That ass, Pumblechook, used often to come over a night for the purpose of discussing my prospects with my sister; and I really do believe (to this hour with less penitence than I ought to feel), that if these hands could have taken a linchpin out of his chaise-cart, they would have done it. The miserable man was a man of that confined stolidity of mind, that he could not discuss my prospects without having me before him - as it were, to operate upon - and he would drag me up from my stool (usually by the collar) where I was quiet in a corner, and, putting me before the fire as if I were going to be cooked, would begin by saying, `Now, Mum, here is this boy! Here is this boy which you brought up by hand. Hold up your head, boy, and be for ever grateful unto them which so did do. Now, Mum, with respections to this boy!' And then he would rumple my hair the wrong way - which from my earliest remembrance, as already hinted, I have in my soul denied the right of any fellow-creature to do - and would hold me before him by the sleeve: a spectacle of imbecility only to be equalled by himself.

Then, he and my sister would pair off in such nonsensical speculations about Miss Havisham, and about what she would do with me and for me, that I used to want - quite painfully - to burst into spiteful tears, fly at Pumblechook, and pummel him all over. In these dialogues, my sister spoke to me as if she were morally wrenching one of my teeth out at every reference; while Pumblechook himself, self-constituted my patron, would sit supervising me with a depreciatory eye, like the architect of my fortunes who thought himself engaged on a very unremunerative job.

In these discussions, Joe bore no part. But he was often talked at, while they were in progress, by reason of Mrs Joe's perceiving that he was not favourable to my being taken from the forge. I was fully old enough now, to be apprenticed to Joe; and when Joe sat with the poker on his knees thoughtfully raking out the ashes between the lower bars, my sister would so distinctly construe that innocent action into opposition on his part, that she would dive at him, take the poker out of his hands, shake him, and put it away. There was a most irritating end to every one of these debates. All in a moment, with nothing to lead up to it, my sister would stop herself in a yawn, and catching sight of me as it were incidentally, would swoop upon me with, `Come! there's enough of you! You get along to bed; you've given trouble enough for one night, I hope!' As if I had besought them as a favour to bother my life out.

We went on in this way for a long time, and it seemed likely that we should continue to go on in this way for a long time, when, one day, Miss Havisham stopped short as she and I were walking, she leaning on my shoulder; and said with some displeasure:

`You are growing tall, Pip!'

I thought it best to hint, through the medium of a meditative look, that this might be occasioned by circumstances over which I had no control.

She said no more at the time; but, she presently stopped and looked at me again; and presently again; and after that, looked frowning and moody. On the next day of my attendance when our usual exercise was over, and I had landed her at her dressingtable, she stayed me with a movement of her impatient fingers:

`Tell me the name again of that blacksmith of yours.'

`Joe Gargery, ma'am.'

`Meaning the master you were to be apprenticed to?'

`Yes, Miss Havisham.'

`You had better be apprenticed at once. Would Gargery come here with you, and bring your indentures, do you think?'

I signified that I had no doubt he would take it as an honour to be asked.

`Then let him come.'

`At any particular time, Miss Havisham?'

`There, there! I know nothing about times. Let him come soon, and come alone with you.'

When I got home at night, and delivered this message for Joe, my sister `went on the Rampage,' in a more alarming degree than at any previous period. She asked me and Joe whether we supposed she was door-mats under our feet, and how we dared to use her so, and what company we graciously thought she was fit for? When she had exhausted a torrent of such inquiries, she threw a candlestick at Joe, burst into a loud sobbing, got out the dustpan - which was always a very bad sign - put on her coarse apron, and began cleaning up to a terrible extent. Not satisfied with a dry cleaning, she took to a pail and scrubbing-brush, and cleaned us out of house and home, so that we stood shivering in the back-yard. It was ten o'clock at night before we ventured to creep in again, and then she asked Joe why he hadn't married a Negress Slave at once? Joe offered no answer, poor fellow, but stood feeling his whisker and looking dejectedly at me, as if he thought it really might have been a better speculation.

 

和那位苍白面孔的少年绅士打架之事,一直令我的心中不能平静。越是想到这次比试,以及这位苍白面孔的少年绅士给多次摔得仰面朝天、脸上弄得青紫相间、红肿不堪的样子,我就越感到自己将因此得到应有的下场。我觉察到那位苍白面孔的少年绅士的血曾染在我的头上,法律是不会饶恕我的。虽然我无法确切地说出我所犯罪孽的具体条款,但我心中十分明白,乡下孩子不该在外面招摇过市,不该走进名门望族的家庭,不该冲撞英格兰勤奋好学的少年,否则,摆在他面前的就是严厉的惩罚。一连几天我都躲在家中,如果要我出去有事,事先我也必定从厨房的门口仔细地观察一番外面情况,而且总是胆战心惊,生怕一出门就被县监狱的差官抓住。那位苍白面孔的少年绅士的鼻血也曾染红我的裤腿,我只有趁着深夜时分来洗净这一罪证。那位苍白面孔的少年绅士曾用牙齿咬破了我的手指,我也发挥我的奇想,设计了成千的方法,以防万一被强拉到法庭之上,便可以利用巧辩把这该死的事情敷衍过去。

到了要回到暴力行凶现场的日子,我的恐惧心理也达到了极点。法院会不会派来打手,特别是伦敦法院,那些雇佣的帮手会不会埋伏在门口呢?郝维仙小姐也许因为我在她家中行凶打人就要亲手报复。她会不会穿着寿终正寝的衣服忽然站起来,拔出手枪,用一颗子弹把我射死呢?会不会有花钱雇来的孩子,一帮杀人凶神,躲在制酒作坊那里,等待时机,跳出来把我打死为止呢?我坚信那位苍白面孔的少年绅士的灵魂是高尚的,他不会唆使别人来报复。但是我考虑的是他那些不能明辨是非的亲戚,一看到他受伤惨重的面孔,不得不对他表示同情,而且为了维护家庭的名声,会激起愤怒的情绪,唆使人来报复。

不管怎样,到了时间我就非到郝维仙小姐家去不可。我终于去了。可是,关于上次比试的事什么也没有发生,也没有人提到这件事,连那位苍白面孔的少年绅土也居然在整座屋子中都没有找到。我看到花园的门依旧开着,便走进去探视一番。到了那所独立的住所,我从窗口向里面窥视,只见所有的百叶窗都关着,一点生气也没有。只有上次我们比试的那个角落还留下些痕迹,足以证明那位少年绅士确有其人。他留下的是几处血迹,我弄了些花园的泥土盖在上面,以免被人发现。

郝维仙小姐的房间和那个放着长条桌子的房间之间有一个宽阔的平台,上面放着一张手推椅,椅子下面有轮子,可以从后面向前推,十分轻便。上次在那里我就看到了这张椅子。从这一天开始,我有了新工作,定期推着这张坐着郝维仙小姐的轮椅(因为她用手扶着我的肩头走感到吃力),在她的房间里绕圈,还可以推过平台,在别的房间里绕圈。我绕来绕去,一次再次,不停地绕着圈子,有时一口气要推三个小时之久,我也数不清究竟绕了多少圈。也就从那天开始,我得每隔一天去一次,时间是中午,任务是推她的轮椅。这个活我干了有八个月或十个月。

日子一长,我们之间的相处就更习惯了。郝维仙小姐和我谈了许多,也问过我一些问题,如我学过什么,有什么打算,等等。我告诉她,以后我会当乔的徒弟学打铁,我又说,我什么都不知道,但什么都想知道。我如此讲的目的是希望有朝一日她能提供一点帮助来达到我的愿望,但她根本不予搭理,相反,她宁愿我无知无识。她甚至从来没有给过我钱或物品,只不过给我吃一顿饭。她没有任何许诺,不说我为她打工她该付给工资等等的话。

我每一次去,埃斯苔娜都在周围,都是她把我领进,又把我送出,但是她再没有叫我吻过她。有时,她冷若冰霜地对我表示容忍,有时又低三下四地迁就我;有时,她显示出和我十分亲密,有时,又会心神狂乱地告诉我她恨我。郝维仙小姐总是用低低的声音问我,或者仅只我们两人在场时,她会问我:“她是不是越长越美丽了,皮普?”我的回答是肯定的(因为她确实越来越美丽)。她听我这样回答便显出情不自禁的高兴。每当我们在玩牌时,郝维仙小姐总是专心致志地瞅着,细细地玩味着埃斯苔娜的一言一行、一举一动。如果埃斯苔娜的情绪反复无常、变化多端,使我不知道该说什么或该做什么,郝维仙小姐便把她抱在自己怀里,表现出无限的狂喜,在她耳边轻轻絮语。我听见好像是说:“捏碎他们的心,你是我的骄傲、我的希望,把他们的心撕得粉碎,不要有什么怜悯!”

我记得乔在打铁时,总喜欢断断续续地哼一首歌,歌中的叠句反复唱着“老克莱门”。用这首歌来表示对铁匠的保护神老克莱门的尊重是不够隆重的,不过我以为老克莱门和铁匠们的关系在歌词中表现得很确切。这首歌是模仿打铁时的节奏,加了一些词,以抒情的方式歌唱出老克莱门这一被人尊重的名字。比如:“孩子们一起来啊,来打铁呀,老克莱门!打一锤啊,响一声啊,老克莱门!用力打啊,加油干啊,老克莱门!用力打啊,加把劲啊,老克莱*风箱拉得响啊,火苗来得旺啊,老克莱门!风箱声嘶哑啊,火苗飞得高啊,老克莱门!”我开始用轮椅推郝维仙小姐以后,有一天,她突然心血来潮地用手指挥了一下,对我说:“好了,好了,好了!你就唱一支歌吧!”于是,我一面推着她在房中绕圈子,一面不知不觉地哼出了这个曲子。这支曲子正中她下怀,她也用低低的若有所思的声音哼起来,和梦中发出的声音差不多。以后,这也习以为常了。我们一面前进着,一面哼着,埃斯苔娜也加进了我们的行列。我们的歌声压得低低的,即使三个人的声音加在一起,也比这阴森森老屋中的一丝微风声要低微得多。

和这种周围环境相伴,我会变成怎样一个人呢?我的性格又怎么会不受这种环境的影响呢?每当我从这些昏黄迷氵蒙的房子中走出,投进自然的光辉之中时,我怎么会不蒙头转向?我的双眼又怎么会不眼花缘乱呢?

如果最初我没有胡说八道,撒过弥天大谎,后来又向乔彻底承认自己的错误,我一定会告诉乔关于那位苍白面孔的少年绅士的事。如若我现在再告诉他,他反而会认为这位苍白面孔的少年绅士不过是我放进黑天鹅绒马车中一个合适的乘客而已,所以我没有说。此外,因为一开始就议论了郝维仙小姐和埃斯苔娜,我就特别担心再议论她们,而且我的担心随着时间的推移愈来愈强烈。除了毕蒂之外,我对谁都不信任。任何事我都要告诉可怜的毕蒂。为什么我把一切事情告诉她是顺乎自然的呢?为什么毕蒂对我的每一件事又关怀备至呢?当时我确实不能理解,而现在我想我是明白了。

这时候,我们家的厨房中正开着家庭会议。我心中充满了愤怒的火焰,几乎达到不可抑制的程度。那头蠢驴彭波契克总是晚上来到这里同我姐姐讨论我的前途问题。我坚信,如果我的手有那个气力,我一定会把他马车上的车辖拔出来。这个念头直到今天想起来,我也不会感到后悔。这个卑鄙的家伙简直是麻木不仁、愚顽不化。他一讨论我的前途,就非要我在他面前不可,仿佛要在我身上做实验一样。通常,他一把揪住我的领子,把我从那个安静角落的小凳子上拖起来,再把我放在火炉的前面,似乎要把我烤熟,并且这样开口说道:“看,夫人,这孩子在这里!这孩子来了,这是你一手领大的孩子。孩子,你抬起头来,你可要永远感谢一手把你带大的人。来,夫人,来讨论一下这孩子的事!”接着他又会乱摸我的头发。其实这件事,正如前文提及的,在我最初的记忆中,就认为没有人有这种权利乱弄我的头发。甚至当我站在他面前时,他还要拉扯着我的袖管。我变成了一个愚蠢的观赏品,只有他那副模样才能和我配对。

接着,他和我姐姐唱起了双簧,以郝维仙小姐作为话题尽扯些毫无意义的事情,比如说她该为我做什么,她该为我考虑什么。每听到此,我总是痛苦不堪,淌出怨恨的眼泪,真想狂奔到彭波契克面前,把他全身上下狠狠揍一顿。谈话时,我姐姐的劲儿好像每涉及我一次就要拔出我的一颗牙似的。而彭波契克又总是自封为我的保护人,自鸣得意地坐在那里,用他那轻蔑的眼光监管着我,俨然以我命运的缔造者自居,认为他为我做了这么多好事,自己反而一无所获,不合算。

凡是这类讨论乔是没有份儿的。但是当他们在谈论什么时,时常要谈到他,因为我姐姐已经看出乔是不赞成我离开铁匠铺的。我的年龄已足够做乔的徒弟了。只要乔坐在那里把火钳搁在膝头上,一面漫不经心地拨弄着炉格中的灰,一面呆呆地出神时,我姐姐便直截了当地把他这种无辜的行为当作是对立情绪的表现,就会扑向他,从他手中夺下火钳,推操他的身子,然后把火钳丢在一边。每一次这类问题的辩论,结果都是以最令人不快的局面收场。一时间,再没有新的谈话资料,我姐姐总是停下来打起哈欠,然后忽然,似乎偶然地一眼看到了我,便向我猛扑过来,嘴里说道:“行了!这儿没有你的事了!你去睡觉吧。这一晚你是够惹人烦的了!”他们把我烦得要死,却反而怨我,好像是我恳求他们来找我麻烦一样。

这样的日子过了一段很长的时间,看上去我们还要继续过这样的日子,也还要有一段很长的时间。但是有一天,郝维仙小姐正扶着我肩头行走时,突然停了下来,有些不高兴地对我说道:

“皮普,你已长高了!”

我带着沉思的表情望了她一眼,觉得以这种目光作媒介是最好的方法,让她知道这是自然的成长,是我无法控制的。

当时她没有再说什么,但一会儿她又停下来重新望着我,过了一会儿又望望我,然后便显得一脸愁云,心情忧郁。下一次,我照例又去侍候。像往常一样,我们结束了运动,我扶着她走到她的梳妆台前,她不耐烦地挥了一下手指,说道:

“再把你那铁匠的名字告诉我。”

“小姐,他叫乔·葛奇里。”

“你就是要当这个师父的学徒吗?”

“是的,郝维仙小姐。”

“你最好立刻就去当学徒。葛奇里是否能带着你们订的师徒合同和你一起到这儿来一次,你说呢?”

我对她表示,如果要他带着合同来一次,他一定会感到万分荣幸。

“那么就让他来一次。”

“郝维仙小姐,约定哪一天来呢?”

“得了,得了!我不知道时间。要他快来,和你一起来就可以。”

当晚我一回家,就把这个消息告诉乔,而我姐姐听到后反而大发脾气,甚至比以往任何时候发的脾气都要大。她责问我们是不是把她当成放在门口的擦鞋垫子,可以任意踩踏?我们怎么竟敢如此对待她?我们究竟认为她配到怎样的人家去做客才恰当?她一连提出许多问题,发了很大的火,然后拿起烛台向乔摔过去,随即便号啕大哭,拿出了簸箕(这一举动永远是一种不祥之兆),把粗布围裙系在腰上,开始疯狂地打扫。光是扫地她还不满足,又提来一桶水,拿来一把地板擦子,在房屋里擦洗起来,使我们在里面无法立足,只有跑到院子里站着发抖。一直到晚上十点钟,我们才仗着胆子溜进屋。我姐姐又问乔那时为什么不讨个女黑奴当老婆?乔一言不发,这个可怜的人儿只是站在那里用手摸着他的胡须,垂头丧气地看着我,仿佛在想当时讨个女黑奴当老婆说不定是个好主意。



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