Harbat - the advocate's house

The advocate, Mr. Jaggers, has a small but polished office in the upper ward, with a counter with a clerk behind it, and a desk with a scribe, and a private chamber of his own filled with the books of law and the files of his clients. When Mr. Jaggers comes in, Mr. Wemmick the scribe greets him with a bow of his head and a "good day Mr. Jaggers", after which Mr. Jaggers sighs a good day back and hands his stovepipe hat to the clerk that promptly and with reverence puts it on the wall. Then, Mr. Jaggers enters his private room and brays to the servant woman for his basin of water to wash his hands.

Mr. Jaggers is a stout man with a huge belly strapped in an elegant vest. He assists clients in matters of law: obscure murder trials, heritages passed from long-lost aunts to handsome nephews, adoptions of beautiful baby girls that are actually princesses, donations from unknown benefactors, secret writings between true lovers, lush serving girls elevated on the social ladder by marrying rich old men, high-rate loans to poor blacksmith families.

Mr. Jaggers takes his work very serious and usually speaks only in hypothetical terms, hiding the identities of all those involved from each other. Mr. Jaggers is a true gentleman. Mr. Jaggers knows all the rumors. Mr. Jaggers knows all the secrets. Mr. Jaggers is very important.

But, they were both happily relieved by the opportune appearance of Mike, the client with the fur cap and the habit of wiping his nose on his sleeve, whom I had seen on the very first day of my appearance within those walls. This individual, who, either in his own person or in that of some member of his family, seemed to be always in trouble (which in that place meant Newgate), called to announce that his eldest daughter was taken up on suspicion of shop-lifting. As he imparted this melancholy circumstance to Wemmick, Mr Jaggers standing magisterially before the fire and taking no share in the proceedings, Mike's eye happened to twinkle with a tear.

"What are you about?" demanded Wemmick, with the utmost indignation. "What do you come snivelling here for?"

"I didn't go to do it, Mr Wemmick."

"You did," said Wemmick. "How dare you? You're not in a fit state to come here, if you can't come here without spluttering like a bad pen. What do you mean by it?"

"A man can't help his feelings, Mr Wemmick," pleaded Mike.

"His what?" demanded Wemmick, quite savagely. "Say that again!"

"Now, look here my man," said Mr Jaggers, advancing a step, and pointing to the door. "Get out of this office. I'll have no feelings here. Get out."

"It serves you right," said Wemmick. "Get out."

So the unfortunate Mike very humbly withdrew, and Mr Jaggers and Wemmick appeared to have re-established their good understanding, and went to work again with an air of refreshment upon them as if they had just had lunch.

  • Charles Dickens, Great Expectations