My father's family name being Pirrip, and my Christian name Philip, my infant tongue could make of both names nothing longer or more explicit
than Pip. So, I called myself Pip, and came to be called Pip.
I give Pirrip as my father's family name, on the authority
of his tombstone and my sister,-Mrs. Joe Gargery, who married the blacksmith. As I never saw my father or my mother, and never saw any likeness
of either of them (for their days were long before the days of photographs), my first fancies regarding what they were like were unreasonably derived from their tombstones. The shape
of the letters on my father's, gave me an odd idea that he was a square, stout
, dark man, with curly black hair. From the character
and turn of the inscription
, "Also Georgiana Wife of the Above," I drew a childish conclusion
that my mother was freckled and sickly
. To five little stone lozenges, each about a foot and a half long, which were arranged in a neat row beside their grave
, and were sacred
to the memory
of five little brothers of mine
,-who gave up trying to get a living, exceedingly early in that universal struggle
,-I am indebted
for a belief
entertained that they had all been born on their backs with their hands in their trousers-pockets, and had never taken them out in this state
Ours was the marsh
country, down by the river, within, as the river wound
, twenty miles of the sea. My first most vivid
and broad impression
of the identity
of things seems to me to have been gained on a memorable raw
afternoon towards evening. At such a time I found out for certain
that this bleak
place overgrown with nettles was the churchyard; and that Philip Pirrip, late of this parish
, and also Georgiana wife of the above, were dead and buried; and that Alexander, Bartholomew, Abraham, Tobias, and Roger, infant children of the aforesaid, were also dead and buried; and that the dark flat wilderness
beyond the churchyard, intersected with dikes and mounds and gates, with scattered cattle
feeding on it, was the marshes; and that the low leaden
line beyond was the river; and that the distant savage lair
from which the wind was rushing was the sea; and that the small bundle
of shivers growing afraid of it all and beginning to cry, was Pip.
"Hold your noise!" cried a terrible voice, as a man started up from among the graves at the side of the church porch. "Keep still, you little devil, or I'll cut your throat!"
A fearful man, all in coarse
gray, with a great iron
on his leg. A man with no hat, and with broken shoes, and with an old rag tied round his head. A man who had been soaked in water, and smothered in mud, and lamed by stones, and cut by flints, and stung by nettles, and torn by briars; who limped, and shivered, and glared, and growled; and whose teeth chattered in his head as he seized me by the chin.
"Oh! Don't cut my throat, sir," I pleaded in terror
. "Pray don't do it, sir."
"Tell us your name!" said the man. "Quick!"
"Once more," said the man, staring at me. "Give it mouth!"
"Pip. Pip, sir."
"Show us where you live," said the man. "Pint out the place!"
I pointed to where our village
lay, on the flat in-shore among the alder-trees and pollards, a mile or more from the church.
The man, after looking at me for a moment
, turned me upside down, and emptied my pockets. There was nothing in them but a piece of bread. When the church came to itself,-for he was so sudden and strong that he made it go head over heels before me, and I saw the steeple
under my feet,-when the church came to itself, I say, I was seated on a high tombstone, trembling while he ate the bread ravenously.
"You young dog," said the man, licking his lips, "what fat cheeks you ha' got."
I believe they were fat, though I was at that time undersized
for my years, and not strong.
"Darn me if I couldn't eat em," said the man, with a threatening shake of his head, "and if I han't half a mind
expressed my hope that he wouldn't, and held tighter to the tombstone on which he had put me; partly, to keep myself upon it; partly, to keep myself from crying.
"Now lookee here!" said the man. "Where's your mother?"
"There, sir!" said I.
He started, made a short run, and stopped and looked over his shoulder.
"There, sir!" I timidly explained. "Also Georgiana. That's my mother."
"Oh!" said he, coming back. "And is that your father alonger your mother?"
"Yes, sir," said I; "him too; late of this parish
"Ha!" he muttered then, considering. "Who d'ye live with,-supposin' you're kindly let to live, which I han't made up my mind
"My sister, sir,-Mrs. Joe Gargery,-wife of Joe Gargery, the blacksmith, sir."
"Blacksmith, eh?" said he. And looked down at his leg.
After darkly looking at his leg and me several
times, he came closer to my tombstone, took me by both arms, and tilted me back as far as he could hold me; so that his eyes looked most powerfully down into mine
, and mine
looked most helplessly up into his.
"Now lookee here," he said, "the question being whether you're to be let to live. You know what a file is?"
"And you know what wittles is?"
After each question he tilted me over a little more, so as to give me a greater sense of helplessness and danger.
"You get me a file." He tilted me again. "And you get me wittles." He tilted me again. "You bring 'em both to me." He tilted me again. "Or I'll have your heart
and liver out." He tilted me again.
I was dreadfully frightened
, and so giddy
that I clung to him with both hands, and said, "If you would kindly please to let me keep upright
, sir, perhaps I shouldn't be sick, and perhaps I could attend
He gave me a most tremendous
dip and roll, so that the church jumped over its own weathercock. Then, he held me by the arms, in an upright
position on the top of the stone, and went on in these fearful terms:-
"You bring me, to-morrow morning early, that file and them wittles. You bring the lot to me, at that old Battery over yonder
. You do it, and you never dare
to say a word or dare
to make a sign concerning your having seen such a person as me, or any person sumever, and you shall be let to live. You fail, or you go from my words in any partickler, no matter
how small it is, and your heart
and your liver shall be tore out, roasted, and ate. Now, I ain't alone, as you may think I am. There's a young man hid with me, in comparison
with which young man I am a Angel. That young man hears the words I speak. That young man has a secret way pecooliar to himself, of getting at a boy, and at his heart
, and at his liver. It is in wain for a boy to attempt
himself from that young man. A boy may lock his door, may be warm in bed, may tuck himself up, may draw the clothes over his head, may think himself comfortable
and safe, but that young man will softly creep
his way to him and tear him open. I am a keeping that young man from harming of you at the present moment
, with great difficulty
. I find it wery hard to hold that young man off of your inside. Now, what do you say?"
I said that I would get him the file, and I would get him what broken bits of food I could, and I would come to him at the Battery, early in the morning.
"Say Lord strike
you dead if you don't!" said the man.
I said so, and he took me down.
"Now," he pursued, "you remember
what you've undertook, and you remember
that young man, and you get home!"
"Goo-good night, sir," I faltered.
"Much of that!" said he, glancing about him over the cold wet flat. "I wish I was a frog. Or a eel!"
At the same time, he hugged his shuddering body in both his arms,-clasping himself, as if to hold himself together,-and limped towards the low church wall. As I saw him go, picking his way among the nettles, and among the brambles that bound
the green mounds, he looked in my young eyes as if he were eluding the hands of the dead people, stretching up cautiously out of their graves, to get a twist
upon his ankle and pull him in.
When he came to the low church wall, he got over it, like a man whose legs were numbed and stiff
, and then turned round to look for me. When I saw him turning, I set my face towards home, and made the best use of my legs. But presently
I looked over my shoulder, and saw him going on again towards the river, still hugging himself in both arms, and picking his way with his sore
feet among the great stones dropped into the marshes here and there, for stepping-places when the rains were heavy or the tide
The marshes were just a long black horizontal
line then, as I stopped to look after him; and the river was just another horizontal
line, not nearly so broad
nor yet so black; and the sky was just a row of long angry
red lines and dense
black lines intermixed. On the edge
of the river I could faintly make out the only two black things in all the prospect
that seemed to be standing upright
; one of these was the beacon
by which the sailors steered,-like an unhooped cask
upon a pole
,-an ugly thing when you were near it; the other, a gibbet
, with some chains hanging to it which had once held a pirate. The man was limping on towards this latter
, as if he were the pirate come to life, and come down, and going back to hook himself up again. It gave me a terrible turn when I thought
so; and as I saw the cattle
lifting their heads to gaze
after him, I wondered whether they thought
so too. I looked all round for the horrible
young man, and could see no signs of him. But now I was frightened
again, and ran home without stopping.
It was a rimy morning, and very damp
. I had seen the damp
lying on the outside of my little window, as if some goblin had been crying there all night, and using the window for a pocket-handkerchief. Now, I saw the damp
lying on the bare hedges and spare
grass, like a coarser sort of spiders' webs; hanging itself from twig to twig and blade to blade. On every rail
and gate, wet lay clammy
, and the marsh
mist was so thick, that the wooden finger on the post directing people to our village
which they never accepted, for they never came there-was invisible
to me until I was quite close under it. Then, as I looked up at it, while it dripped, it seemed to my oppressed conscience
like a phantom
devoting me to the Hulks.
The mist was heavier yet when I got out upon the marshes, so that instead of my running at everything, everything seemed to run at me. This was very disagreeable to a guilty mind
. The gates and dikes and banks came bursting at me through
the mist, as if they cried as plainly
as could be, "A boy with somebody else's pork pie! Stop him!" The cattle
came upon me with like suddenness, staring out of their eyes, and steaming out of their nostrils, "Halloa, young thief
!" One black ox, with a white cravat
on,-who even had to my awakened conscience
something of a clerical
air,-fixed me so obstinately with his eyes, and moved his blunt
head round in such an accusatory
manner as I moved round, that I blubbered out to him, "I couldn't help it, sir! It wasn't for myself I took it!" Upon which he put down his head, blew a cloud of smoke out of his nose, and vanished with a kick-up of his hind-legs and a flourish
of his tail.
All this time, I was getting on towards the river; but however fast I went, I couldn't warm my feet, to which the damp
cold seemed riveted, as the iron
was riveted to the leg of the man I was running to meet. I knew my way to the Battery, pretty straight
, for I had been down there on a Sunday with Joe, and Joe, sitting on an old gun, had told me that when I was 'prentice to him, regularly bound
, we would have such Larks there! However, in the confusion
of the mist, I found myself at last too far to the right
, and consequently
had to try back along the river-side, on the bank
of loose stones above the mud and the stakes that staked the tide
out. Making my way along here with all despatch, I had just crossed a ditch
which I knew to be very near the Battery, and had just scrambled up the mound
beyond the ditch
, when I saw the man sitting before me. His back was towards me, and he had his arms folded, and was nodding forward
, heavy with sleep.
he would be more glad if I came upon him with his breakfast, in that unexpected manner, so I went forward
softly and touched him on the shoulder. He instantly jumped up, and it was not the same man, but another man!
And yet this man was dressed in coarse
gray, too, and had a great iron
on his leg, and was lame
, and hoarse
, and cold, and was everything that the other man was; except that he had not the same face, and had a flat broad
-brimmed low-crowned felt hat on. All this I saw in a moment
, for I had only a moment
to see it in: he swore an oath
at me, made a hit at me,-it was a round weak blow that missed me and almost knocked himself down, for it made him stumble
,-and then he ran into the mist, stumbling twice as he went, and I lost
"It's the young man!" I thought
, feeling my heart
shoot as I identified him. I dare
say I should have felt a pain in my liver, too, if I had known where it was.
I was soon at the Battery after that, and there was the right
man,-hugging himself and limping to and fro, as if he had never all night left off hugging and limping,-waiting for me. He was awfully cold, to be sure. I half expected
to see him drop
down before my face and die of deadly cold. His eyes looked so awfully hungry too, that when I handed him the file and he laid it down on the grass, it occurred to me he would have tried to eat it, if he had not seen my bundle
. He did not turn me upside down this time to get at what I had, but left me right
side upwards while I opened the bundle
and emptied my pockets.
"What's in the bottle, boy?" said he.
"Brandy," said I.
He was already handing mincemeat down his throat in the most curious
manner,-more like a man who was putting it away somewhere in a violent
hurry, than a man who was eating it,-but he left off to take some of the liquor. He shivered all the while so violently, that it was quite as much as he could do to keep the neck of the bottle between his teeth, without biting it off.
"I think you have got the ague," said I.
"I'm much of your opinion
, boy," said he.
"It's bad about here," I told him. "You've been lying out on the meshes, and they're dreadful
aguish. Rheumatic too."
"I'll eat my breakfast afore they're the death of me," said he. "I'd do that, if I was going to be strung up to that there gallows
as there is over there, directly
afterwards. I'll beat the shivers so far, I'll bet
He was gobbling mincemeat, meatbone, bread, cheese, and pork pie, all at once: staring distrustfully while he did so at the mist all round us, and often stopping-even stopping his jaws-to listen. Some real or fancied sound
, some clink upon the river or breathing of beast
upon the marsh
, now gave him a start, and he said, suddenly
"You're not a deceiving imp
? You brought no one with you?"
"No, sir! No!"
"Nor giv' no one the office
to follow you?"
"Well," said he, "I believe you. You'd be but a fierce
indeed, if at your time of life you could help to hunt a wretched
warmint hunted as near death and dunghill as this poor wretched
Something clicked in his throat as if he had works in him like a clock, and was going to strike
. And he smeared his ragged
rough sleeve over his eyes.
Pitying his desolation
, and watching him as he gradually settled down upon the pie, I made bold
to say, "I am glad you enjoy
"Did you speak?"
"I said I was glad you enjoyed it."
"Thankee, my boy. I do."
I had often watched a large dog of ours eating his food; and I now noticed a decided similarity
between the dog's way of eating, and the man's. The man took strong sharp
sudden bites, just like the dog. He swallowed, or rather snapped up, every mouthful, too soon and too fast; and he looked sideways here and there while he ate, as if he thought
there was danger in every direction
of somebody's coming to take the pie away. He was altogether too unsettled in his mind
over it, to appreciate
it comfortably I thought
, or to have anybody to dine with him, without making a chop with his jaws at the visitor. In all of which particulars he was very like the dog.
"I am afraid you won't leave any of it for him," said I, timidly; after a silence
during which I had hesitated as to the politeness of making the . "There's no more to be got where that came from." It was the certainty of this fact
that impelled me to offer the hint
"Leave any for him? Who's him?" said my friend, stopping in his crunching of pie-crust.
"The young man. That you spoke
of. That was hid with you."
"Oh ah!" he returned, with something like a gruff
laugh. "Him? Yes, yes! He don't want no wittles."
he looked as if he did," said I.
The man stopped eating, and regarded me with the keenest scrutiny
and the greatest surprise
"Yonder," said I, pointing; "over there, where I found him nodding asleep, and thought
it was you."
He held me by the collar and stared at me so, that I began to think his first idea about cutting my throat had revived.
"Dressed like you, you know, only with a hat," I explained, trembling; "and-and"-I was very anxious
to put this delicately-"and with-the same reason
for wanting to borrow
a file. Didn't you hear the cannon
"Then there was firing!" he said to himself.
you shouldn't have been sure of that," I returned, "for we heard it up at home, and that's farther away, and we were shut in besides."
"Why, see now!" said he. "When a man's alone on these flats, with a light head and a light stomach, perishing of cold and want, he hears nothin' all night, but guns firing, and voices calling. Hears? He sees the soldiers, with their red coats lighted up by the torches carried afore, closing in round him. Hears his number called, hears himself challenged, hears the rattle of the muskets, hears the orders 'Make ready! Present! Cover him steady
, men!' and is laid hands on-and there's nothin'! Why, if I see one pursuing party last night-coming up in order, Damn 'em, with their tramp
-I see a hundred. And as to firing! Why, I see the mist shake with the cannon
, arter it was broad
day,-But this man"; he had said all the rest, as if he had forgotten my being there; "did you notice
anything in him?"
"He had a badly bruised face," said I, recalling what I hardly knew I knew.
"Not here?" exclaimed the man, striking
his left cheek mercilessly
, with the flat of his hand.
"Where is he?" He crammed what little food was left, into the breast of his gray jacket. "Show me the way he went. I'll pull him down, like a bloodhound. Curse this iron
on my sore
leg! Give us hold of the file, boy."
I indicated in what direction
the mist had shrouded the other man, and he looked up at it for an instant
. But he was down on the rank
wet grass, filing
at his iron
like a madman, and not minding me or minding his own leg, which had an old chafe
upon it and was bloody, but which he handled as roughly as if it had no more feeling in it than the file. I was very much afraid of him again, now that he had worked himself into this fierce
hurry, and I was likewise very much afraid of keeping away from home any longer. I told him I must go, but he took no notice
, so I thought
the best thing I could do was to slip off. The last I saw of him, his head was bent
over his knee and he was working hard at his fetter
, muttering impatient
imprecations at it and at his leg. The last I heard of him, I stopped in the mist to listen, and the file was still going.