"Is she, uncle?" asked my sister.
Mr. Pumblechook winked assent; from which I at once inferred that he had never seen Miss Havisham, for she was nothing of the kind.
"Good!" said Mr. Pumblechook conceitedly. ("This is the way to have him! We are beginning to hold our own, I think, Mum?")
"I am sure, uncle," returned Mrs. Joe, "I wish you had him always: you know so well how to deal with him."
"Now, boy! What was she a-doing of, when you went in today?" asked Mr. Pumblechook.
"She was sitting," I answered, "in a black velvet coach."
Mr. Pumblechook and Mrs. Joe stared at one another — as they well might — and both repeated, "In a black velvet coach?"
"Yes," said I. "And Miss Estella — that's her niece, I think — handed her in cake and wine at the coach-window, on a gold plate. And we all had cake and wine on gold plates. And I got up behind the coach to eat mine, because she told me to."
"Was anybody else there?" asked Mr. Pumblechook.
"Four dogs," said I.
"Large or small?"
"Immense," said I. "And they fought for veal cutlets out of a silver basket."
Mr. Pumblechook and Mrs. Joe stared at one another again, in utter amazement. I was perfectly frantic — a reckless witness under the torture — and would have told them anything.
"Where was this coach, in the name of gracious?" asked my sister.
"In Miss Havisham's room." They stared again. "But there weren't any horses to it." I added this saving clause, in the moment of rejecting four richly caparisoned coursers which I had had wild thoughts of harnessing.
"Can this be possible, uncle?" asked Mrs. Joe. "What can the boy mean?"
"I'll tell you, Mum," said Mr. Pumblechook. "My opinion is, it's a sedan-chair. She's flighty, you know — very flighty — quite flighty enough to pass her days in a sedan-chair."
"Did you ever see her in it, uncle?" asked Mrs. Joe.
"How could I," he returned, forced to the admission, "when I never see her in my life? Never clapped eyes upon her!"
"Goodness, uncle! And yet you have spoken to her?"
"Why, don't you know," said Mr. Pumblechook, testily, "that when I have been there, I have been took up to the outside of her door, and the door has stood ajar, and she has spoke to me that way. Don't say you don't know that, Mum. Howsever, the boy went there to play. What did you play at, boy?"
Continued on next page...