Great Expectations

By Charles Dickens
1860
685 pages

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 dykes 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 grey, 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.

‘O! Don’t cut my throat, sir,’ I pleaded in terror. ‘Pray don’t do it, sir.’

‘Tell us your name!’ said the man. ‘Quick!’

‘Pip, sir.’

‘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 …

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