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the other lightly touched my shoulder as we
walked. We walked round the ruined garden
twice or thrice more, and it was all in bloom
for me. If the green and yellow growth of
weed in the chinks of the old wall, had been the
most precious flowers that ever blew, it could
not have been more cherished in my
remembrance.

There was no discrepancy of years between
us, to remove her far from me; we were of
nearly the same age, though of course the age
told for more in her case than in mine; but the
air of inaccessibility which her beauty and her
manner gave her, tormented me in the midst of
my delight, and at the height of the assurance I
felt that our patroness had chosen us for one
another. Wretched boy!

At last we went back into the house, and
there I heard, with surprise, that my guardian
had come down to see Miss Havisham on business
and would come back to dinner. The old wintry
branches of chandeliers in the room where the
mouldering table was spread, had been lighted
while we were out, and Miss Havisham was in
her chair and waiting for me.

It was like pushing the chair itself back
into the past, when we began the old slow
circuit round about the ashes of the bridal
feast. But, in the funereal room, with that
figure of the grave fallen back in the chair fixing
its eyes upon her, Estella looked more bright
and beautiful than before, and I was under
stronger enchantment.

The time so melted away, that our early
dinner-hour drew close at hand, and Estella left
us to prepare herself. We had stopped near
the centre of the long table, and Miss Havisham,
with one of her withered arms stretched out of
the chair, rested that clenched hand upon the
yellow cloth. As Estella looked back over her
shoulder before going out at the door, Miss
Havisham kissed that hand to her, with a
ravenous intensity that was of its kind quite
dreadful.

Then, Estella being gone and we two left
alone, she turned to me, and said in a whisper:

"Is she beautiful, graceful, well-grown? Do
you admire her?"

"Everybody must who sees her, Miss
Havisham."

She drew an arm round my neck, and drew
my head close down to hers as she sat in the
chair. "Love her. love her, love her! How
does she use you?"

Before I could answer (if I could have
answered so difficult a question at all), she repeated,
"Love her, love her, love her! If she favours
you, love her. If she wounds you, love her. If
she tears your heart to piecesand as it gets
older and stronger, it will tear deeperlove
her, love her, love her!"

Never had I seen such passionate eagerness
as was joined to her utterance of these words.
I could feel the muscles of the thin arm round
my neck, swell with the vehemence that
possessed her.

"Hear me, Pip! I adopted her to be loved.
I bred her and educated her, to be loved. I
developed her into what she is, that she might be
loved. Love her!"

She said the word often enough, and there
could be no doubt that she meant to say it; but
if the often repeated word had been hate instead
of lovedespairrevengedire deathit could
not have sounded from her lips more like a
curse.

"I'll tell you," said she, in the same hurried
passionate whisper, "what real love is. It is
blind devotion, unquestioning self-humiliation,
utter submission, trust and belief against yourself
and against the whole world, giving up your
whole heart and soul to the smiteras I did!"

When she came to that, and to a wild
cry that followed that, I caught her round the
waist. For she rose up in the chair, in her
shroud of a dress, and struck at the air as if
she would as soon have struck herself against
the wall and fallen dead.

All this passed in a few seconds. As I drew
her down into her chair, I was conscious of a
scent that I knew, and turning, saw my
guardian in the room.

He always carried (I have not yet mentioned
it, I think) a pocket-handkerchief of rich silk
and of imposing proportions, which was of great
value to him in his profession. I have seen him
so terrify a client or a witness by ceremoniously
unfolding this pocket-handkerchief as if he were
immediately going to blow his nose, and then
pausing, as if he knew he should not have time
to do it before such client or witness committed
himself, that the self-committal has followed
directly, quite as a matter of course. When I saw
him in the room, he had this expressive pocket-
handkerchief in both hands, and was looking
at us. On meeting my eye, he said plainly,
by a momentary and silent pause in that
attitude, "Indeed? Singular!" and then put the
handkerchief to its right use with wonderful
effect.

Miss Havisham had seen him as soon as I,
and was (like everybody else) afraid of him,
She made a strong attempt to compose herself.
and stammered that he was as punctual as
ever.

"As punctual as ever," he repeated, coming
up to us. "(How do you do, Pip. Shall I give
you a ride, Miss Havisham? Once round?)
And so you are here, Pip?"

I told him when I had arrived, and how Miss
Havisham had wished me to come and see
Estella. To which he replied, "Ah! Very fine
young lady!" Then he pushed Miss Havisham
in her chair before him, with one of his large
hands, and put the other in his trousers-pocket
as if the pocket were full of secrets.

"Well, Pip! How often have you seen Miss
Estella before?" said he, when he came to a
stop

"How often?"

"Ah! How many times. Ten thousand
times?"

"Oh! Certainly not so many."

"Twice?"

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