Pip is now twenty-three. He has left Mr. Pocket's classes behind and studies on his own in London. He and Herbert have moved from Barnard's Inn to the Temple in Garden Court. One dark and stormy night while Herbert is away on business, Pip receives a mysterious visitor, a rough, balding man with a lower-class accent. To his shock, Pip realizes that this man is the convict he helped on the marshes. The convict calls Pip "noble Pip," commending Pip for acting so "nobly" towards him as a child. Pip tries to turn him out but, disarmed by the convict's warmth towards him, invites the man to stay for a drink.
Pip's lifelong association with prisoners persists. The convict was evidently deeply moved by Pip's (forced) generosity on the marshes, interpreting it as evidence of Pip's noble character, and not realizing that Pip acted as he did out of pure terror.
The convict reveals that he is Pip's patron. Pip is speechless with horror and nearly faints. The convict, meanwhile, explains how he has scrimped and saved for years working as a shepherd in the New South Wales to make Pip a gentleman. "I'm your second father," he tells Pip. He marvels with pride at Pip's genteel appearance. Pip recoils.
Pip is horrified by this revelation not only because it makes him intimately indebted to a low class convict (the very sort of person he's been trying to rise above) but because such an association, in his mind, dashes his dream of being betrothed to Estella.
The convict asks Pip to help him hide. He explains that he has sailed to London illegally, having run away from a life sentence in the colonies, and will be hanged if he is caught. Pip gives the convict Herbert's bedroom and seals the shutters and doors.
Escapees from the Australian prison colonies faced the death sentence.
Pip stays up late trying to process the news. He is devastated to realize that Miss Havisham is not his patron and that Estella, therefore, isn't destined for him. He is even more devastated to realize that he has deserted Joe and Biddy for the sake of a criminal, a potentially violent man. Thinking along these lines, Pip grows afraid of the man and, after making sure the convict is asleep, locks him into his room.
All of Pip's delusions are exposed. Though he justified abandoning Joe and Biddy for Estella's sake, he must face the fact that he has not gotten any closer to her than he was back at the forge. Yet, even so, his remorse at his treatment of Joe and Biddy is only because the prize of treating them as he did failed to produce his expected prize: Estella. He does not feel sorry for how he acted for its own sake.