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Трек 13_04

“There was another man in with Compeyson, as was called Arthur. He was a sick man when I first knew him, and he and Compeyson had been mixed up in a bad business with a rich lady some years before. They’d made a lot of money out of it, which they soon spent and wasted in bad living.

“Well, to cut a long story short, at last Compeyson and I were both caught for passing stolen notes, and there were other charges besides. When we were brought into court the first thing I noticed was what a fine gentleman Compeyson looked—and what a common sort of wretch I looked beside him! The evidence was heard, and it was me what got most of the blame. The verdict came, and it was Compeyson who got off light on account of his good character and for telling all that he could against me. And when we’re sentenced it was him that got seven years in the Hulks, and me fourteen. Can you wonder that I said to Compeyson, ‘Once out of this court, I’ll smash that pretty face of yours!’

“We was put in the same prison-ship, but I couldn’t get at him for long, though I tried hard enough. At last I came behind him and hit him on the cheek, but I was held back before I could do more. After that I escaped to the shore, where I first saw my boy in the churchyard.”

He gave me a look of affection.

“Pip told me how Compeyson was out on the marshes too. I believe he escaped in his terror to get away from me, not knowing it was me that had got ashore. I hunted him down, I smashed his face, and I dragged him back to serve his time, caring nothing for myself. I was put in irons, brought to trial again, and sent out of the country for life. I didn’t stop for life, though, as you can see me here.”

There was a silence.

“Is he dead?” I asked at last.

“Is who dead, dear boy?”

“Compeyson.”

“He hopes I am, if he’s alive, you may be sure,” with a fierce look. “I never heard more of him.”

Herbert had been writing with his pencil in the cover of a book. He pushed the book over to me as Provis stood smoking, with his eyes on the fire, and I read in it:

Young Havisham’s name was Arthur. Compeyson is the man who pretended to be Miss Havisham’s lover.”

I shut the book and nodded to Herbert; but we neither of us said anything, and both looked at Provis as he stood smoking by the fire.

Трек 14_01

Chapter Fourteen

The Accident

“The first and main thing to be done,” said Herbert, “is to get him out of England. He’ll let himself be persuaded if you say you’ll go with him.”

I agreed. There was nothing else that could be done. It was late that same night, and I had just returned from seeing Provis to his lodging.

“He’s risked his life to come here,” went on Herbert quietly, “and you must save him if possible. If this man Compeyson finds out that he’s here—well, you know what will happen, for sure. He’ll hand him over to be hanged, if only to save his own skin.”

I remembered, with an uneasy feeling, the unknown watcher on the stairs. Perhaps Compeyson did know already. It was a disturbing thought. The sooner we persuaded Provis to leave the country, the better it would be; but I said to Herbert that before I could go abroad, I must see Estella for the last time. I decided to go out to Richmond next day; and I went.

I learned, from Estella’s maid, that Estella had gone into the country. Where? To Miss Havisham’s, as usual.

Next day I pretended that I was under a promise to go down to see Joe. Provis was to be very careful while I was gone, and Herbert was to take charge of him.

I set off by the early morning coach, and breakfasted at the Blue Boar in our town. When I had washed the marks of the journey from my face and hands, I went out to the old house that it would have been better for me never to have entered.

I found Miss Havisham in the room where the long table stood, but there was no sign of Estella. The old lady looked steadily at me, but I could see that she was rather confused.

“And what wind blows you here, Pip?” she asked.

“Miss Havisham,” said I, “ I went to Richmond yesterday to speak to Estella. I was told that she was here, and so I followed.”

She shook her head.

“Estella is not here,” she said. “She has gone. Today, Pip, is her wedding-day.”

I stared at her. The awful truth dawned on me.

“Not to—to—”

I could not speak the name. Miss Havisham nodded.

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