Charles Dickens, Great Expectations: Ch. 25

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I really thought he was still speaking of the fowl, until he added, "Because I have got an aged parent at my place." I then said what politeness required.

"So, you haven't dined with Mr. Jaggers yet?" he pursued, as we walked along.

"Not yet."

"He told me so this afternoon when he heard you were coming. I expect you'll have an invitation to-morrow. He's going to ask your pals, too. Three of 'em; ain't there?"

Although I was not in the habit of counting Drummle as one of my intimate associates, I answered, "Yes."

"Well, he's going to ask the whole gang,"—I hardly felt complimented by the word,—"and whatever he gives you, he'll give you good. Don't look forward to variety, but you'll have excellence. And there'sa nother rum thing in his house," proceeded Wemmick, after a moment's pause, as if the remark followed on the housekeeper understood; "he never lets a door or window be fastened at night."

"Is he never robbed?"

"That's it!" returned Wemmick. "He says, and gives it out publicly, "I want to see the man who'll rob me." Lord bless you, I have heard him, a hundred times, if I have heard him once, say to regular cracksmen in our front office, "You know where I live; now, no bolt is ever drawn there; why don't you do a stroke of business with me? Come; can't I tempt you?" Not a man of them, sir, would be bold enough to try it on, for love or money."

"They dread him so much?" said I.

"Dread him," said Wemmick. "I believe you they dread him. Not but what he's artful, even in his defiance of them. No silver, sir. Britannia metal,h every spoon."

"So they wouldn't have much," I observed, "even if they—"

"Ah! But he would have much," said Wemmick, cutting me short, "and they know it. He'd have their lives, and the lives of scores of 'em. He'd have all he could get. And it's impossible to say what he couldn't get, if he gave his mind to it."

I was falling into meditation on my guardian's greatness, when Wemmick remarked:—

"As to the absence of plate, that's only his natural depth, you know. A river's its natural depth, and he's his natural depth. Look at his watch-chain. That's real enough."

"It's very massive," said I.

"Massive?" repeated Wemmick. "I think so. And his watch is a gold repeater,h and worth a hundred pound if it's worth a penny. Mr. Pip, there are about seven hundred thieves in this town who know all about that watch; there's not a man, a woman, or a child, among them, who wouldn't identify the smallest link in that chain, and drop it as if it was red hot, if inveigled into touching it."

At first with such discourse, and afterwards with conversation of a more general nature, did Mr. Wemmick and I beguile the time and the road, until he gave me to understand that we had arrived in the district of Walworth.

It appeared to be a collection of back lanes, ditches, and little gardens, and to present the aspect of a rather dull retirement. Wemmick's house was a little wooden cottage in the midst of plots of garden, and the top of it was cut out and painted like a batteryw mounted with guns.

"My own doing," said Wemmick. "Looks pretty; don't it?"

I highly commended it, I think it was the smallest house I ever saw; with the queerest gothicd windows (by far the greater part of them sham), and a gothic door almost too small to get in at.

X [h] Britannia metal,

Things

An alloy meant to resemble silver but made from tin, antinomy, and copper. Not trusting entirely to the criminal underground's fear of him, Jaggers uses a cheap imitation of silver. No thief would be fooled. 

X [h] a gold repeater,

Things

A repeating watch "repeated" the time when a lever or button was pressed, chiming (or in the case of a silent repeater producing a series of thuds that could be felt in the hand) and declared the hour, the quarter-hour, and the half-quarter, or the minute, thus allowing the owner to tell the time when the light was poor. Mulriplying by 60-70, the watch is worth somewhere in the neighborhood of $6,000-$7,000. A kitchen maid could work twenty years to make that much.

X [w] battery

Things

A platform or fortified emplacement—there is the old one in chapters 1 and 3—in which artillery is mounted.

X [d] gothic

Gothic (Search) windows and door mean that they are capped by a pointed arch, the windows, known as lancets, long, narrow, pointed at the top. Wemmick takes liberties in attaching a gun battery to his gothic castle, for true gothic flourished in the high and late Medieval period, before the use of gunpowder. The loose model for Wemmick's Castle is not Salisbury or York Cathedrals or some of the English castles or palaces but probably something from the Gothic Revival, which began in the mid-18…

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