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sensitive horror of being talked of by such
people. Can you take me?"

"Can I take you, Estella!"

"You can then? The day after to-morrow,
if you please. You are to pay all charges
out of my purse. You hear the condition of
your going?"

"And must obey," said I.

This was all the preparation I received for
that visit, or for others like it; Miss Havisham
never wrote to me, nor had I ever so much as
seen her handwriting. We went down on the
next day but one, and we found her in the room
where I had first beheld her, and it is needless
to add that there was no change in Satis House.

She was even more dreadfully fond of Estella
than she had been when I last saw them
together; I repeat the word advisedly, for there
was something positively dreadful in the energy
of her looks and embraces. She hung upon
Estella's beauty, hung upon her words, hung
upon her gestures, and sat mumbling her own
trembling fingers while she looked at her, as
though she were devouring the beautiful creature
she had reared.

From Estella she looked at me, with a searching
glance that seemed to pry into my heart and
probe its wounds. "How does she use you,
Pip; how does she use you?" she asked me
again, with her witch-like eagerness, even in
Estella's hearing. But when we sat by her flickering
fire at night, she was most weird; for then,
keeping Estella's hand drawn through her arm
and clutched in her own hand, she extorted
from her, by dint of referring back to what
Estella had told her in her regular letters, the
names and conditions of the men whom she had
fascinated; and as Miss Havisham dwelt upon
this roll, with the intensity of a mind mortally
hurt and diseased, she sat with her other hand
on her crutched stick, and her chin on that, and
her wan bright eyes glaring at me, a very spectre.

I saw in this, wretched though it made me,
and bitter the sense of dependence and even of
degradation that it awakened,—I saw in this,
that Estella was set to wreak Miss Havisham's
revenge on men, and that she was not to be
given to me until she had gratified it for a term.
I saw in this, a reason for her being beforehand
assigned to me. Sending her out to attract and
torment and do mischief, Miss Havisham sent
her with the malicious assurance that she was
beyond the reach of all admirers, and that all
who staked upon that cast were secured to lose.
I saw in this, that I, too, was tormented by a
perversion of ingenuity, even while the prize
was reserved for me. I saw in this, the reason
for my being staved off so long, and the reason
for my late guardian's declining to commit
himself to the formal knowledge of such a scheme.
In a word, I saw in this, Miss Havisham as I
had her then and there before my eyes, and
always had had her before my eyes; and I saw
in this the distinct shadow of the darkened and
unhealthy house in which her life was hidden
from the sun.

The candles that lighted that room of hers
were placed in sconces on the wall. They were
high from the ground, and they burnt with the
steady dulness of artificial light in air that is
seldom renewed. As I looked round at them,
and at the pale gloom they made, and at the
stopped clock, and at the withered articles of
bridal dress upon the table and the ground, and
at her own awful figure with its ghostly reflection
thrown large by the fire upon the ceiling
and the wall, I saw in everything the construction
that my mind had come to, repeated and
thrown back to me. My thoughts passed into
the great room across the landing where the
table was spread, and I saw it written, as it were,
in the falls of the cobwebs from the centre-piece,
in the crawlings of the spiders on the cloth, in
the tracks of the mice as they betook their little
quickened hearts behind the panels, and in the
gropings and pausings of the beetles on the

It happened on the occasion of this visit that
some sharp words arose between Estella and
Miss Havisham. It was the first time I had
ever seen them opposed.

We were seated by the fire as just now
described, and Miss Havisham still had Estella's
arm drawn through her own, and still clutched
Estella's hand in hers, when Estella gradually
began to detach herself. She had shown a
proud impatience more than once before, and
had rather endured that fierce affection than
accepted or returned it.

"What!" said Miss Havisham, flashing her
eyes upon her, "are you tired of me?"

"Only a little tired of myself," replied
Estella, disengaging her arm, and moving to the
great chimney-piece, where she stood looking
down at the fire.

"Speak the truth, you ingrate!" cried Miss
Havisham, passionately striking her stick upon
the floor; "you are tired of me."

Estella looked at her with perfect composure,
and again looked down at the fire. Her graceful
figure and her beautiful face expressed a
self-possessed indifference to the wild heat of the
other, that was almost cruel.

"You stock and stone!" exclaimed Miss
Havisham. "You cold, cold heart!"

"What?" said Estella, preserving her attitude
of indifference as she leaned against the
great chimney-piece and only moving her eyes;
"do you reproach me for being cold? You?"

"Are you not?" was the fierce retort.

"You should know," said Estella. "I am
what you have made me. Take all the praise,
take all the blame; take all the success, take all
the failure; in short, take me."

"O, look at her, look at her!" cried Miss
Havisham, bitterly. "Look at her, so hard
and thankless, on the hearth where she was
reared! Where I took her into this wretched
breast when it was first bleeding from its stabs,
and where I have lavished years of tenderness
upon her!"

"At least I was no party to the compact,"
said Estella, "for if I could walk and speak,
when it was made, it was as much as I could do.