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The family’s nurse later remembered Dickens as “a terrible boy to read,” which sounds, delightfully, exactly like what a family nurse would say.
I wonder if this is the same nurse who liked to scare young Dickens out of his mind with her lurid ghost stories:
[She] made a standing pretence which greatly assisted in forcing me back to a number of hideous places that I would by all means have avoided. This pretence was, that all her ghost stories had occurred to her own relations. Politeness towards a meritorious family, therefore, forbade my doubting them, and they acquired an air of authentication that impaired my digestive powers for life. There was a narrative concerning an unearthly animal foreboding death, which appeared in the open street to a parlour-maid who ‘went to fetch the beer’ for supper: first (as I now recall it) assuming the likeness of a black dog, and gradually rising on its hind-legs and swelling into the semblance of some quadruped greatly surpassing a hippopotamus: which apparition — not because I deemed it in the least improbable, but because I felt it to be really too large to bear — I feebly endeavoured to explain away. But, on Mercy’s retorting with wounded dignity that the parlour-maid was her own sister-in-law, I perceived there was no hope, and resigned myself to this zoological phenomenon as one of my many pursuers.
We had not long to wait. Before the sun had quite declined from its zenith, a light pony trap approached us from the west and slowed to a stop beside Holmes. A lady swathed in silk and black muslin leaned out of the driver's seat and stared keenly down at the false Pirrip.
"I am greatly changed, I know," she said at last; "but I thought you would like to shake hands with Estella, Pip. Lift up that pretty child and let me kiss it!"
Holmes lifted the Irregular to her height with the strength of his right arm. As the woman stretched out her hands to caress the boy's face, Holmes' left hand darted from his pocket. There was a whirl of motion, a flash of bright metal and two sharp clicks, and in the next instant a pair of steel handcuffs had appeared, as if by magic, around the woman's wrists. Not waiting to see the effects of his legerdemain, Holmes quickly lowered the child to earth and seized the reins of the carriage.
I rushed forward, Lestrade on my heels. The woman had been staring stupefied at her cuffed wrists; she now raised her face now, and turned upon us eyes remarkable for beauty and cold, implacable rage. "My god, Holmes!" I ejaculated. "Can this be Pumblechook's murderer?"
"Gentlemen!" Holmes cried. "May I introduce Estella Drummle—alias Stella Schneider, the infamous Tigress of Delaware!"
"But Mr Scalthwaite was right, and Lord Moncreiff quite in the wrong! I don't believe the poor of London should be crowded onto ships with trap bottoms and destroyed in mass noyades on the North Sea. The idea hardly seems Christian."
"And what signifies that? Your Methodist enthusiasms have no place at Brindling Hall. Now—there may still be time to repair your mistake. If you hurry to the solarium, you will yet find Moncreiff at the piquet table; a show of contrition should secure you a game with him. This is your last chance, child! If you don't let him win, I wash my hands of you."
...beyond the weeping tree where a man has been hung from a fork by a nail through his neck, just past the three crucified bodies that have been set on fire, there are two skeletons. They are standing on a cliff, arm in arm, and one of them gestures appreciatively towards the sea.
Sit you and fear not: whom we raise,
We will make fast within a hallow'd verge.
[Here they do the ceremonies belonging, and make the circle; BOLINGBROKE or SOUTHWELL reads, Conjuro te, &c. It thunders and lightens terribly; then RONBLEDORE riseth]
RONBLEDORE: Adsum. I am that Ronbledore thou seek'st
Who treads time's froward and anfractuous paths.
Sometime with stripling's skipping step I go,
Sometime bent o'er with age and mass of beard
Do rather creep and sigh. Not learned Ovid
Could name my changes, nor agile serpent
Comprehend my ways: for his glassy suits,
Once worn, do slough in sequence, least to great,
Whilst wane and wax I strangely as the moon-
But queries hast thou for the Doubled Ron.
Do ask thy want, and I shall prophesy.