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Трек 14_02

“Yes, Pip,” she said, “to Bentley Drummle.”

I dropped my face into my hands. Why had she done it? Why had she thrown herself away on such a stupid brute as Drummle? I knew the answer. This was part of Miss Havisham’s revenge. There were many, other than me, who loved and admired Estella; many would have given their lives for her; and, when they knew what she had done, they too would suffer as I was suffering now.

I looked up and saw with astonishment that there were tears in the old lady’s eyes, and her face was full of pain. She held out her hands to me.

“Oh, Pip,” she said, in a broken voice. “What have I done? Forgive me, Pip, my dear. Oh, what have I done?”

“If you mean, Miss Havisham, what have you done to injure me, let me answer you. Very little. I should have loved her under any circumstances.”

“My dear,” she said, “believe this: when she first came to me, I meant to save her from misery like my own. But as she grew, and promised to be very beautiful, I gradually did worse, with my praises and my jewels, and with warnings against all men. I stole away her heart and put ice in its place. If you knew all my story, Pip, you would have a better understanding of me.”

“I do know all your story,” I answered. “Tell me, please, whose child was Estella?”

She shook her head.

“You don’t know?”

She shook her head again.

“Mr. Jaggers brought her here,” she told me. “I had been shut up in these rooms a long time, when I let him know that I wanted a little girl to bring up and love as my own. He said that he would look about for such an orphaned child. One night he brought her here asleep when she was two or three years of age—and I called her Estella.”

So Mr. Jaggers had brought Estella there! There was much, I thought, that Mr. Jaggers might tell if only he could be persuaded.

I rose to my feet, filled with a sickness of despair.

“Miss Havisham,” I said, “I will walk a little in the garden before I take my leave of you.”

As I went from the room she called something after me, but I made my way down the stairs and out into the ruined garden. I went all round it many times; round by the corner where Herbert and I had fought; round by the paths where Estella and I had walked. All so cold, so lonely, so dismal now!

It was a long time before I went back up the stairs to say good-bye to Miss Havisham. I looked into the room where I had left her, and saw her seated in a ragged chair close to the fire. Her back was towards me. I was about to turn and go quietly away, when I saw a great flame of light spring up. In the same moment I saw her running at me, screaming, with flames all about her.

Трек 14_03

Her long bridal-dress had touched the flames of the fire, and flared up in an instant.

I had on a thick and heavy coat. I tore it off, put my arms round her, threw her down, and got the coat over her. Then I dragged the great cloth from the table, and with it pulled down the rotten heap in the middle and all the ugly things that sheltered there. I threw the cloth over her too, and then we were both on the ground, struggling like enemies, and the closer I covered her the more wildly she screamed and tried to free herself.

The servants came running to the door. Still I held her down with all my strength, like a prisoner who might escape.

At last her cries died away, but I was afraid to have her moved or even touched. A doctor was sent for, and I held her until he came, fancying that if I let go of her the fire would break out again and destroy her. When I got up at last, I was astonished to see that both my hands were burnt, for I had felt nothing of pain while I held her.

By the doctor’s directions her bed was carried into that room and laid upon the great table. When he had examined her, he said that she had received very serious burns and was not likely to live.

There was a time that evening when she spoke clearly of what had happened. Then towards midnight she began to wander in her speech, and said again and again in a low, solemn voice: “What have I done! Oh, Pip, what have I done!”

My hands had been dressed by the doctor, and the burns were nothing serious. Since I could do no good by remaining in the house, I decided in the course of the night that I would return by the early morning coach to London. At about six in the morning, therefore, I leaned over her and touched her lips with mine, then went down the stairs and out of the house.

I was very muddy and weary when I reached home, so I did not take it ill that the watchman examined me closely as he held the gate open for me to pass in.

“Just a moment, sir,” he said. “Here’s a note for you.”

Much surprised, I took the sealed envelope he handed me. On it was written, “Please read this here.” I opened it, and read inside, in Wemmick’s writing: “Don’t go to your rooms.”

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