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Time passes as Pip begins working in Joe’s forge; the boy slowly becomes an adolescent. He hates working as Joe’s apprentice, but out of consideration for Joe’s goodness, he keeps his feelings to himself. As he works, he thinks he sees Estella’s face mocking him in the forge, and he longs for Satis House.
Pip still tries hard to read and expand his knowledge, and on Sundays, he also tries to teach Joe to read. One Sunday, Pip tries to persuade Joe that he needs to visit Miss Havisham, but Joe again advises him to stay away. However, his advice sounds confused, and Pip resolves to do as he pleases.
Joe’s forge worker, Dolge Orlick, makes Pip’s life even less pleasant. Orlick is vicious, oafish, and hateful, and he treats Pip cruelly. When Pip was still a young child, Orlick frightened him by convincing him that the devil lived in a corner of the forge. One day, Mrs. Joe complains about Orlick taking a holiday, and she and Orlick launch into a shouting match. Mrs. Joe gleefully calls on Joe to defend her honor, and Joe quickly defeats Orlick in the fight. Mrs. Joe faints from excitement.
Pip visits Miss Havisham and learns that Estella has been sent abroad. Dejected, he allows Wopsle to take him to Pumblechook’s for the evening, where they pass the time reading from a play. On the way home, Pip sees Orlick in the shadows and hears guns fire from the prison ships. When he arrives home, he learns that Mrs. Joe has been attacked and is now a brain-damaged invalid.
Pip’s old guilt resurfaces when he learns that convicts—more specifically, convicts with leg irons that have been filed through—are suspected of the attack on his sister. The detectives who come from London to solve the crime are bumblers, and the identity of the attacker remains undiscovered. Mrs. Joe, who is now unable to talk, begins to draw the letter “T” on her slate over and over, which Pip guesses represents a hammer. From this, Biddy deduces that she is referring to Orlick. Orlick is called in to see Mrs. Joe, and Pip expects her to denounce him as her attacker. Instead, she seems eager to please Orlick and often calls for him in subsequent days by drawing a “T” on her slate.
In Chapter 10, Pip received an unwelcome reminder of the convict when the stranger in the pub appeared with the stolen file. In this section, he receives an even more unpleasant reminder when an escaped convict from the prison ships—possibly the stranger from the pub—is blamed for the attack on Mrs. Joe. Because of Pip’s powerful moral sense, he is racked with guilt over the incident. As he says in Chapter 16, “It was horrible to think that I had provided the instrument, however undesignedly.” Of course, Mrs. Joe’s strange interest in Orlick in the next chapters marks him as the true attacker, and Pip guesses this truth almost immediately. Even though Pip is in no way at fault in the incident, his conscience still troubles him.