Oliver Twist 117


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‚So she did.‘

‚A gentleman and a lady that she had gone to of her own accord before, who asked her to give up all her pals, and Monks first, which she did–and to describe him, which she did–and to tell her what house it was that we meet at, and go to, which she did–and where it could be best watched from, which she did–and what time the people went there, which she did. She did all this. She told it all every word without a threat, without a murmur–she did–did she not?‘ cried Fagin, half mad with fury.

‚All right,‘ replied Noah, scratching his head. ‚That’s just what it was!‘

‚What did they say, about last Sunday?‘

‚About last Sunday!‘ replied Noah, considering. ‚Why I told yer that before.‘

‚Again. Tell it again!‘ cried Fagin, tightening his grasp on Sikes, and brandishing his other hand aloft, as the foam flew from his lips.

‚They asked her,‘ said Noah, who, as he grew more wakeful, seemed to have a dawning perception who Sikes was, ‚they asked her why she didn’t come, last Sunday, as she promised. She said she couldn’t.‘

‚Why–why? Tell him that.‘

‚Because she was forcibly kept at home by Bill, the man she had told them of before,‘ replied Noah.

‚What more of him?‘ cried Fagin. ‚What more of the man she had told them of before? Tell him that, tell him that.‘

‚Why, that she couldn’t very easily get out of doors unless he knew where she was going to,‘ said Noah; ‚and so the first time she went to see the lady, she–ha! ha! ha! it made me laugh when she said it, that it did–she gave him a drink of laudanum.‘

‚Hell’s fire!‘ cried Sikes, breaking fiercely from the Jew. ‚Let me go!‘

Flinging the old man from him, he rushed from the room, and darted, wildly and furiously, up the stairs.

‚Bill, Bill!‘ cried Fagin, following him hastily. ‚A word. Only a word.‘

The word would not have been exchanged, but that the housebreaker was unable to open the door: on which he was expending fruitless oaths and violence, when the Jew came panting up.

‚Let me out,‘ said Sikes. ‚Don’t speak to me; it’s not safe. Let me out, I say!‘

‚Hear me speak a word,‘ rejoined Fagin, laying his hand upon the lock. ‚You won’t be–‚

‚Well,‘ replied the other.

‚You won’t be–too–violent, Bill?‘

The day was breaking, and there was light enough for the men to see each other’s faces. They exchanged one brief glance; there was a fire in the eyes of both, which could not be mistaken.

‚I mean,‘ said Fagin, showing that he felt all disguise was now useless, ’not too violent for safety. Be crafty, Bill, and not too bold.‘

Sikes made no reply; but, pulling open the door, of which Fagin had turned the lock, dashed into the silent streets.

Without one pause, or moment’s consideration; without once turning his head to the right or left, or raising his eyes to the sky, or lowering them to the ground, but looking straight before him with savage resolution: his teeth so tightly compressed that the strained jaw seemed starting through his skin; the robber held on his headlong course, nor muttered a word, nor relaxed a muscle, until he reached his own door. He opened it, softly, with a key; strode lightly up the stairs; and entering his own room, double-locked the door, and lifting a heavy table against it, drew back the curtain of the bed.

The girl was lying, half-dressed, upon it. He had roused her from her sleep, for she raised herself with a hurried and startled look.

‚Get up!‘ said the man.

‚It is you, Bill!‘ said the girl, with an expression of pleasure at his return.

‚It is,‘ was the reply. ‚Get up.‘

There was a candle burning, but the man hastily drew it from the candlestick, and hurled it under the grate. Seeing the faint light of early day without, the girl rose to undraw the curtain.

‚Let it be,‘ said Sikes, thrusting his hand before her. ‚There’s enough light for wot I’ve got to do.‘

‚Bill,‘ said the girl, in the low voice of alarm, ‚why do you look like that at me!‘


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