Гордость и предубеждение / Pride and Prejudice. Great Expectations / Большие надежды - Страница 2
All this time, I was getting on towards the river. I had just crossed a ditch, 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. But 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. All this I saw in a moment, for I had only a moment to see it in: he ran into the mist, stumbling twice as he went, and I lost him.
“It’s the man!” I thought, feeling my heart shoot as I identified him.
Soon I saw the right Man, waiting for me. He was awfully cold, to be sure. His eyes looked so awfully hungry too.
“What’s in the bottle, boy?” said he.
“Brandy,” said I.
“I think you have got the ague,” said I.
“Sure, boy,” said he.
“It’s bad about here,” I told him. “You’ve been lying out on the meshes, and they’re dreadful aguish.”
“You’re not a deceiving imp? You brought no one with you?”
“No, sir! No!”
“Well,” said he, “I believe you.”
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.
“I am glad you enjoy the food,” said I.
“I said I was glad you enjoyed it.”
“Thank you, 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.
“I am afraid you won’t leave any food for him,” said I, timidly.
“Leave for him? Who’s him?” said my friend.
“The man. That you spoke of.”
“Oh ah!” he returned, with something like a gruff laugh. “Him? Yes, yes! He don’t want any wittles.”
“I thought he looked as if he did,” said I.
The man stopped eating, and regarded me with the greatest surprise.
“Yonder,” said I, pointing; “over there, where I found him sleeping, and I 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. “Didn’t you hear the cannon last night?”
“Then there was firing!” he said to himself.
“He had a badly bruised face,” said I, recalling what I hardly knew I knew.
“Not here?” exclaimed the man, striking his left cheek.
“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. But first give me the file, boy.”
I indicated in what direction the other man had gone away, and he looked up at it for an instant. But then he sat on the wet grass and began to file his iron like a madman. I told him I must go, but he took no notice.
I expected to find a Constable in the kitchen, waiting to take me up. But Mrs. Joe was busy in getting the house ready for the festivities of the day.
We were to have a wonderful dinner, consisting of a leg of pickled pork and greens, and a pair of roast stuffed fowls. A handsome mince-pie had been made yesterday morning, and the pudding was already on the boil.
Mr. Wopsle, the clerk at church, was to dine with us; and Mr. Hubble and Mrs. Hubble; and Uncle Pumblechook (Joe’s uncle), who lived in the nearest town, and drove his own chaise-cart. The dinner hour was half-past one. Everything was most splendid, and not a word of the robbery.
The time came, without bringing with it any relief to my feelings, and the company came.
I opened the door to the company, and I opened it first to Mr. Wopsle, next to Mr. and Mrs. Hubble, and last of all to Uncle Pumblechook.
“Mrs. Joe,” said Uncle Pumblechook, a large hard-breathing middle-aged slow man, with a mouth like a fish, and dull staring eyes, “I have brought you, Mum, a bottle of sherry wine – and I have brought you, Mum, a bottle of port wine.”
Every Christmas Day he presented himself, as a profound novelty, with exactly the same words.
We dined on these occasions in the kitchen. My sister was lively on the present occasion, and indeed was generally more gracious in the society of Mrs. Hubble than in other company.
Among this good company I should have felt myself, even if I hadn’t robbed the pantry, in a false position. They wouldn’t leave me alone. It began the moment we sat down to dinner. Mr. Wopsle said grace with theatrical declamation, and ended with the very proper aspiration that we might be truly grateful. My sister said, in a low voice, “Do you hear that? Be grateful.”
“Especially,” said Mr. Pumblechook, “be grateful, boy, to them which brought you up by hand.”
Mrs. Hubble shook her head and asked, “Why is it that the young are never grateful?” Mr. Hubble answered, “They are just vicious.” Everybody then murmured “True!” and looked at me in a particularly unpleasant and personal manner.
“You must taste,” said my sister, addressing the guests with her best grace – “you must taste such a delightful and delicious present of Uncle Pumblechook’s! You must know, it’s a pie; a pork pie.”
My sister went out to get it. I heard her steps proceed to the pantry. I saw Mr. Pumblechook balance his knife. I felt that I could bear no more, and that I must run away. I ran for my life.
But I ran no farther than the house door. There stood a party of soldiers with their muskets.
The sergeant and I were in the kitchen when Mrs. Joe stood staring.
“Excuse me, ladies and gentleman,” said the sergeant, “but I am on a chase in the name of the king, and I want the blacksmith.”
“And pray what might you want with him?” retorted my sister.
“Missis,” returned the gallant sergeant, “speaking for the king, I answer, a little job. You see, blacksmith, we have had an accident with handcuffs, and I find the lock of one of them goes wrong, and the coupling don’t act pretty. As they are wanted for immediate service, will you throw your eye over them?”
Joe threw his eye over them, and pronounced that the job would take two hours.
“Would you give me the time?” said the sergeant, addressing himself to Mr. Pumblechook.
“It’s just gone half past two.”
“That’s not so bad,” said the sergeant, reflecting; “How far are the marshes? Not above a mile, I reckon?”
“Just a mile,” said Mrs. Joe.
“Convicts, sergeant?” asked Mr. Wopsle.
“Ay!” returned the sergeant, “two. They are out on the marshes, and we are going to catch them.”
At last, Joe’s job was done. As Joe got on his coat, he proposed that some of us should go down with the soldiers. Mr. Pumblechook and Mr. Hubble declined, but Mr. Wopsle said he would go, if Joe would. Joe said he was agreeable, and would take me, if Mrs. Joe approved. Mrs. Joe said, “If you bring the boy back with his head blown to bits by a musket, don’t ask me to put it together again.”
When we were all out in the raw air and were steadily moving towards the marshs, I whispered to Joe, “I hope, Joe, we shan’t find them.” and Joe whispered to me, “I’d give a shilling if they had run, Pip.”
The weather was cold and threatening, the way dreary, darkness coming on, and the people had good fires and were celebrating the day. A few faces hurried to glowing windows and looked after us, but none came out. Joe took me on his back. With my heart thumping, I looked all about for any sign of the convicts. Finally, I saw them both. The soldiers stopped.