Great expectations, p.1
by Alexandre Dumas
adapted by Deborah Felder
"You're not polite, sir," said Athos.
"Well, you're not going to give me a lesson in manners," fumed d'Artagnan.
"No? Then perhaps I can give you a lesson in dueling!" said Athos.
"I'm ready to fight a duel with you! Just tell me where and when," said d'Artagnan.
"Behind the Carmelite convent at noon," Athos said. He let go of d'Artagnan's belt.
"I'll be there," said d'Artagnan. He raced down the stairs.
On the morning of my trip to London, I hurried through breakfast. I was scared and excited at the same time. I couldn't wait to become a gentleman.
I walked by myself to the village. If I boarded the coach there, no one would see Joe's rundown house.
On the way, I broke down in tears.
"Good-bye, my dear friend Joe!" I whispered as the coach rolled into the countryside. My heart ached at leaving him.
But each mile took me farther away from regret. The adventure of my life lay ahead of me!
Text copyright (c) 1996 by Random House, Inc. All rights reserved under International and Pan-American Copyright Conventions. Published in the United States by Random House Children's Books, a division of Random House, Inc., New York, and simultaneously in Canada by Random House of Canada Limited, Toronto.
Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data
Great expectations / by Charles Dickens; adapted by Monica Kulling. --
1st Random House Stepping Stones ed.
"A Stepping Stone book."
SUMMARY: After harsh early years, Pip, an orphan growing up in Victorian England, is given the means to become a gentleman by an unknown benefactor and learns that outward appearances can be deceiving.
[1. Orphans--Fiction. 2. England--Fiction.] I. Dickens, Charles, 1812-1870.
Great expectations. II. Title. III. Series.
PZ7.K9490155Gr 1996 [Fic]--dc20 95-17616
RANDOM HOUSE and colophon are registered trademarks and A STEPPING STONE BOOK and colophon are trademarks of Random House, Inc.
3. Great Expectations
4. Leaving Home
5. Miss Havisham's Story
6. A Visit from Joe
7. Good-Bye to Mrs. Joe
8. Estella's Cold Heart
9. My Benefactor
10. The Other Convict
11. Magwitch Is Free
12. A Healing Hand
13. A Happy Ending
About the Author
My first memory is of a churchyard. I was only seven years old, and I was frightened of the graves that were all around me. My father and mother were buried there. I began to cry. My sobs filled the churchyard.
"What's that noise?" cried a terrible voice.
A man was hiding behind one of the gravestones!
"Keep still, you little devil, or I'll cut your throat!"
The man came toward me. He was wet and muddy. Leg irons bound his ankles. He limped and shivered and glared and growled. He was an escaped prisoner.
All at once, the stranger grabbed me by the chin.
"Don't cut my throat, sir," I pleaded.
"Tell me your name! Quick!"
"Pip," I said. "Pip, sir."
"Show me where you live," said the man. "Point out the place."
I pointed to our village. It was about a mile from the church and twenty miles from the sea.
Suddenly the man picked me up and turned me upside down! My pockets were empty except for one piece of bread, which fell to the ground.
Then the prisoner sat me on a gravestone. He tore into the bread like a starving animal.
"Boy," he said between bites, "where's your mother?"
"There, sir!" I said, pointing to the gravestone over the man's shoulder.
The man was terrified. He thought my mother was standing behind him!
He started to run past me. Then he stopped and quickly looked over his shoulder.
"There, sir," I explained, timidly.
I pointed at the gravestone. "That's my mother. And that's my father lying beside her."
"Ha!" he muttered. "Who do you live with, then?"
"My sister, sir--Mrs. Joe Gargery--wife of Joe Gargery, the blacksmith, sir."
"Blacksmith, eh?" he said. He looked down at his leg irons. Then he limped over to me, grabbed my arms, and tilted me backward. He looked powerfully down into my eyes. I looked helplessly up into his.
"Know what a file is?" he demanded.
"You know what wittles is?"
"It's food, sir," I said.
"You get me a file," he said, tilting me farther backward. "And you get me wittles. And I'll let you live."
I was so weak and scared that I clung to the prisoner with both hands.
He let me go and glared at me.
"You bring me the file and wittles tonight," he said. "And don't say a word to anyone. If you do, I'll tear your heart and liver out and roast them!"
The convict frightened me. At that moment, I would have done anything he asked. I promised to bring the items and to keep quiet. Then I fled the churchyard.
It was dusk. Over the marsh, the wind and the man's words howled together in my ears.
I knew I had to help the convict. If I didn't, he might track me down at Joe's. The only problem was sneaking the food past my sister. She was more than twenty years older than me, and she often lost her temper. If she caught me hiding food, I'd surely be punished.
My sister's husband, Joe, was my friend. He stood up for me when he could. But tonight he gave me away when I tried to hide a piece of bread down my pants leg during supper.
"I say, Pip, old chap," said Joe. "Stop eating so fast. You couldn't have chewed that bread all the way through. You'll make yourself sick."
"What's he done now?" asked my sister, looking up from her plate.
"He's going to choke on his food," said Joe.
"Pip, if you can cough it up, you should," he said. "It's not good manners, but your health's your health.
"I shoveled my food down when I was a boy. But not as fast as you. It's a wonder it hasn't killed you!"
My sister pulled me up by the hair.
"You come and be dosed," she ordered.
My sister's favorite punishment was a dose of tar-water. She gave me a large spoonful. It was a thick, dark, foul-smelling liquid. It tasted like mud. I forced it down without a word.
Later that night, while everyone slept, I tiptoed into the kitchen and snuck into the pantry. I grabbed the first thing I saw. It was a pork pie Joe's Uncle Pumblechook had brought for tomorrow's Christmas dinner. Then I took some brandy and a file from Joe's workshop. I ran to the churchyard. I couldn't wait to deliver the supplies and be done with the convict.
The convict was happy to see me. I gave him the items he wanted and raced back home. I fell into a fitful sleep, huddled under my blanket. The shrill sound of a file scraping leg irons cut through my dreams.
The next day was Christmas. Mr. Wopsle, the clerk at the church, was dining with us. Joe's Uncle Pumblechook was also there.
I sat at the table and worried. Soon my sister would find out that the brandy and the pork pie were gone. Then I would really be in trouble!
Dinner went on and on. I began to think I might survive the night. Then my sister s
She went to the pantry to get the pie, but she returned with an empty plate.
"Gracious me," she said. "It's gone. The pie is gone."
I couldn't stand the guilt another minute. I had to get out of there. I jumped up from the table and threw open the front door. A group of soldiers was standing on our porch. One, the sergeant, held out a pair of handcuffs.
"We need a blacksmith to fix these for us," he said. "Two convicts have escaped the Hulks. We're going to find them."
The Hulks were the prison ships moored near the marsh. So there were two convicts--not just the one I had helped!
Joe fired up the forge and fixed the handcuffs. He wanted to join the hunt. So did Mr. Wopsle and Uncle Pumblechook.
We started off across the marshes, climbing up banks and down ditches. I sat high atop Joe's shoulders. I looked through the thick fog, hoping to spot my convict first.
I knew he would think I had given him away. He would find me and roast me for sure!
Suddenly we heard shouting. The sergeant ran on ahead. Joe put me down, and we followed him.
My convict was fighting a man who had a long scar across his face. I stood at the edge of the ditch. I wanted my convict to see me.
The soldiers broke up the fight and handcuffed the two men. As they were led away, my convict looked at me. I shook my head slightly. I was trying to tell him that I had kept my promise.
There was no anger, only interest, in his eyes. I did not understand the look. Then he turned to the sergeant.
"I stole a pork pie and some brandy from the blacksmiths," he said.
"We were missing a pie," said Joe. "Remember, Pip?" Then he said to my convict, "Whatever you've done, we wouldn't want you to starve. Would we, Pip?"
I did not reply. By the light of the torches, I saw the black Hulks lying near the muddy shore.
The prisoners were rowed to the ship and taken up. The torches were tossed, hissing, into the water.
I went home with the memory of that night burned into my brain forever.
Mr. Wopsle's great-aunt ran an elementary school in the village. The classes were held at night. Mr. Wopsle's great-aunt was old and always fell asleep in front of the class. Her students paid two pennies a week to watch her sleep. But sometimes Biddy, her granddaughter, took over.
Biddy was an orphan. Her hair often needed brushing and her hands needed washing, but she had a good heart. If it weren't for Biddy, I never would have learned to read or write.
One winter evening, a year after the hunt for the convict, I sat by the fire writing on a slate. My sister was out with Mr. Pumblechook.
I wrote to Joe even though he was sitting beside me:
"mI deEr JO i opE U R kWite wEll. i opE i shAl soN B aBelL 2 teeDge U 2 ritE JO."
"I say, Pip, old chap!" cried Joe, opening his blue eyes wide. "What a scholar you are! Ain't you?"
"I would like to be," I said, smiling at the letters on the slate.
When I got older, Joe was going to teach me his trade. I loved Joe dearly, but the thought of working in the forge made my heart heavy. I wanted a different kind of life. I dreamed about being rich, having nice clothes, and spending every day reading books and learning.
Suddenly my sister interrupted my daydreams. She burst into the room with Mr. Pumblechook.
"Now," she said, undoing her coat quickly, "if this boy ain't grateful this night, he never will be! I only hope she doesn't pamper him."
"She's not like that," said Mr. Pumblechook. "She's definitely not the type to pamper."
"Who's not the type?" asked Joe. "Who is she?" Joe looked at me.
"Miss Havisham," replied my sister impatiently. "She wants Pip to play with a girl who's living with her. She might even pay him. He better go, or he'll answer to me."
"I wonder how Miss Havisham knows our Pip," said Joe, astounded.
"Noodlehead!" cried my sister. "Who said she knew him?"
"Well, how else could she know about Pip?" asked Joe, politely.
"Our dear Uncle Pumblechook is a neighbor of hers," began my sister. "Perhaps she asked him if he knew a boy just like Pip. And then our thoughtful, kind Uncle Pumblechook mentioned this boy!"
My sister waved a hand in my direction. Mr. Pumblechook puffed out his chest and stared up at the ceiling. He was proud that he knew Miss Havisham.
"This boy could earn a fortune by going to Miss Havisham's. He should be grateful," said my sister.
I wasn't grateful at all. I was nervous. Miss Havisham was a rich and grim lady who lived at the edge of town in a large and cheerless house. People said she never went outside. I didn't want to meet the strange woman--or spend every day with her. The whole idea sounded terrible.
But I didn't have much choice in the matter. The next day my sister shooed me out the door at dawn. I slowly walked across town to the iron gates of Miss Havisham's house with Mr. Pumblechook by my side. A servant answered the bell and opened the gate. She slammed it after me.
"She don't want to see you," the woman announced to Mr. Pumblechook.
I followed her through the courtyard and the dark hallways of the house. We climbed a staircase and came, at last, to a door.
The servant knocked and said, "Go in." Then she pushed me into the room and closed the door behind me.
The room was large and well lit by candles. In an armchair sat Miss Havisham--the strangest lady I had ever seen.
Miss Havisham was dressed all in white. A long veil covered her head. Jewels glittered on her neck and hands. She was dressed for a wedding.
Even her hair was white. Her face was pale and withered. It seemed as if she had dressed for a wedding many years ago and had grown old since. She looked like a wax figure in a museum!
"Who is it?" asked the lady.
"Pip, ma'am," I replied.
"Mr. Pumblechook's boy, ma'am. I've come to play," I explained.
"Come closer," said Miss Havisham. "Are you afraid of a woman who has not seen the sun since before you were born?"
I was terrified, but said nothing. I stepped closer. I saw that Miss Havisham's watch had stopped at twenty minutes to nine. The clock in the room also read twenty minutes to nine.
"Do you know what I touch here?" she said, laying her hand on the left side of her chest.
"Your heart," I said.
"Broken!" she cried.
A strange smile lit her face.
"I am tired," said Miss Havisham. "I want to watch you play. A girl lives with me here. Her name is Estella. Call for her."
I opened the door and shouted down the dark hall for Estella. I called again, and waited. At last, I saw a light like a star moving along the dark passage.
A young girl entered the room. She walked over to Miss Havisham, who placed a jewel against the girl's pretty brown hair.
"It shall be yours one day," Miss Havisham told Estella. "You shall wear it well. Now, let me see you play cards with this boy."
"With this boy?" asked the girl. Her pretty face soured with scorn.
"This is a common laboring boy!" she added.
Miss Havisham whispered softly to her, "You can break his heart."
We sat down to cards. Estella dealt. When she was finished, I picked up my cards.
"What rough hands he has!" she said. "And what thick boots! What a clumsy-looking boy he is!"
The girl was my own age, but she acted much older. She looked down on me as though she were a queen and I was dirt on her shoe.
I had never been ashamed of myself before. But now I realized she was right. My clothes were dirty. My hair was tangled. As I played the game, I hid my hands behind the cards.
Estella won the first game. I dealt the second. I was so nervous that I made a mistake, and she called me stupid.
I didn't know what to say, so I said nothing.
"You said nothing back," remarked Miss Ha
"I think she is very proud," I replied in a whisper.
"I think she is very pretty."
I looked over at Estella. She was frowning.
"Anything else?" asked Miss Havisham.
"I think she is very insulting," I said. "And I should like to go home."
It was enough for one day.
Estella left me in the courtyard. As she closed the front door, I saw a look of hatred pass across her face.
I felt so hurt and bitter. I leaned my head against a stone wall and cried. I kicked the wall and twisted my hair. But I was not alone in the courtyard.
"Who let you in?" asked a tall, thin boy.
"Come and fight," said the young gentleman.
He took off his jacket and put his fists up. He danced around me like a boxer in a ring. Secretly, I was afraid of him.
My first day at Miss Havisham's ended in a fistfight. I hit the young man twice in the face and he fell.
"That means you have won," he said, calmly.
He seemed so brave and innocent. I didn't feel as if I had won. My heart was heavy. I knew cruel Estella would make my visits unbearable.
For the next few months, I visited Miss Havisham every day. Each time, mean Estella teased and taunted me. But I was fascinated by her. I could not bear to be away from her.
On one visit Miss Havisham was waiting for me in a wheelchair. She wanted me to push her around her bedroom, then across the landing and into the room next door.
This room was filled with dust and cobwebs. A long table was set for a wedding feast. Mice nibbled on a rotten wedding cake lying in the center of the table. By now I was used to Miss Havisham's strange ways. This bizarre room didn't even surprise me.
Miss Havisham was quiet at first. She talked more as she got used to me. She asked me what I was learning and what I wanted to be when I grew up. I told her I would soon become Joe's apprentice.
I told her the blacksmith's trade did not interest me. I wanted to be a gentleman and live in a big city.
Secretly, I hoped Miss Havisham would help me. But she never paid me money. I spent time with Estella. In return, Miss Havisham gave me dinner. That was all.
One day Miss Havisham asked me to bring Joe to her.
"You are growing tall, Pip!" she said. "You should be learning your life's trade from a master."
Great Expectations by Charles Dickens / Fantasy / History & Fiction have rating 4 out of 5 / Based on32 votes