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Трек 15_01

Chapter Fifteen

Estella’s Father

Turning from the gate as soon as I had read the warning, I made my way to Mr. Jagger’s office. My guardian was in court, but Wemmick was there and he looked very relieved to see me.

“You got my note?” he said. “Good. Yesterday morning I accidentally heard that a certain person—we won’t mention names, Mr. Pip—who went abroad at the government’s expense, has stirred up a lot of excitement by disappearing from a certain place and being no more heard of. I also heard that someone who knew him had seen him in London; and that your rooms had been watched, and might be watched again.”

“By whom?” I asked.

“I won’t go into that,” Wemmick replied. “Mr. Jaggers doesn’t like me to mention the names of clients—or of old clients, either. A lot of our business, Mr. Pip, is done with people who are on the wrong side of the law, and we have to be very careful, you know.”

I nodded. “You’ve heard of a man called Compeyson?” I asked.

It was Wemmick’s turn to nod.

“Is he living?”

Another nod.

“Is he in London?”

“Yes,” said Wemmick. “Now let me tell you what I did after hearing what I heard. I went to the Temple to find you; not finding you, I went to Mr. Herbert’s place of business and gave him to understand that if he was aware of anybody in hiding, he had better get that person out of the way while you were out of the way.”

“He’d be puzzled what to do,” I said.

“He was puzzled what to do, because I gave him my opinion that it was not safe to try to get this person out of the country at the moment. Then he thought up a plan. He mentioned to me that he is courting a young lady who has a bedridden father, and who lived in a house by the river, between Limehouse and Greenwich. I expect you know the young lady, Mr. Pip?”

“Not very well,” said I.

All I knew, in fact, was that the young lady’s name was Clara, and that she objected to me as an expensive companion who did Herbert no good.

“Mr. Herbert suggested that he take a certain person there,” continued Wemmick, “and I thought very well of the idea. First, because it’s close to the river; second, because Mr. Herbert can go there often without anyone growing suspicious; and third, because if you should want to slip this person on board a foreign boat there he is ready. He’s been told that he’s in danger, and he’s agreed to leave the country if you’ll go with him.”

Трек 15_02

I agreed with all this, of course. It made good sense, and I thanked Wemmick for what he had done.

“Mr. Pip,” he said then, “I’ll tell you something. Leave your friend where he is for a while, until things have quietened down. You’re a good waterman, and you can take him down the river yourself when the right time comes. It might be a good thing if you began to keep a boat at the Temple stairs, and were in the habit of rowing up and down the river. You fall into that habit, and then who notices or minds? If you’ll leave things to me to arrange, I’ll let you know the right time to get away.”

Again I offered Wemmick my thanks. Then I thought of something else that had been worrying me for some time.

“Wemmick,” I said, “do you remember telling me to take particular note of Mr. Jagger’s housekeeper?’’ He nodded. “I wish you’d tell me her story. I have a—a personal interest in it.”

He hesitated for a moment, and then said: “Twenty years ago that woman was tried at the Old Bailey for murder. She was a beautiful young woman then—”

“And she was acquitted?”

“Yes. Mr. Jaggers was for her, and got her off. The murdered person was a woman. It was a case of jealousy. This girl Molly had been married to a no-good fellow who took up with the other woman. The murdered woman was found dead in a barn. There had been a violent struggle. She was bruised and scratched, and had been held by the throat and choked. It seemed certain that it was Molly who had killed her. She had only a bruise or two about her, but the backs of her hands and wrists were torn as if by finger-nails. It was attempted to set up as proof of her jealousy that she had murdered her child—then some three years old—to revenge herself upon her husband. Mr. Jaggers worked that in this way: ‘You say the marks on her hands are the marks of fingernails, and you say that she destroyed her child. For anything we know, she may have destroyed that child, and the child may have scratched her hands. What then? You are not trying her for the murder of the child. You are trying her for the murder of another woman—and that is something that you are unable to prove.’ In short, sir, Mr. Jaggers was too much for the jury, and they gave in.”

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