My sister, Mrs. Joe Gargery, was more than twenty years older than I, and hadestablished a great reputation with herself and the neighbours because she had brought meup "by hand." Having at that time to find out for myself what the expression meant, andknowing her to have a hard and heavy hand, and to be much in the habit of laying it uponher husband as well as upon me, I supposed that Joe Gargery and I were both brought up byhand.She was not a good-looking woman, my sister; and I had a general impression that shemust have made Joe Gargery marry her by hand. Joe was a fair man, with curls of flaxenhair on each side of his smooth face, and with eyes of such a very undecided blue that theyseemed to have somehow got mixed with their own whites. He was a mild, good-natured, sweet-tempered, easy-going, foolish, dear fellow, -a sort of Hercules in strength, and alsoin weakness.My sister, Mrs. Joe, with black hair and eyes, had such a prevailing redness of skin that Isometimes used to wonder whether it was possible she washed herself with a nutmeggrater instead of soap. She was tall and bony, and almost always wore a coarse apron, fastened over her figure behind with two loops, and having a square impregnable bib infront, that was stuck full of pins and needles. She made it a powerful merit in herself, and astrong reproach against Joe, that she wore this apron so much. Though I really see noreason why she should have worn it at all; or why, if she did wear it at all, she should nothave taken it off, every day of her life.Joe's forge adjoined our house, which was a wooden house, as many of the dwellings inour country were, -most of them, at that time. When I ran home from the churchyard, theforge was shut up, and Joe was sitting alone in the kitchen. Joe and I being fellow-sufferers, and having confidences as such, Joe imparted a confidence to me, the moment I raised thelatch of the door and peeped in at him opposite to it, sitting in the chimney corner."Mrs. Joe has been out a dozen times, looking for you, Pip. And she's out now, making it abaker's dozen.""Is she?"
Charles Dickens was born in 1812 in Portsmouth. A prolific writer, Dickens kept up a career in journalism as well as writing short stories and novels, with much of his work being serialised before being published as books. He gave a view of contemporary England with a strong sense of realism, yet instilled his stories with a sense of charm, fantastic characters and humour like no other.