Oliver Twist 120


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He acted upon this impulse without delay, and choosing the least frequented roads began his journey back, resolved to lie concealed within a short distance of the metropolis, and, entering it at dusk by a circuitous route, to proceed straight to that part of it which he had fixed on for his destination.

The dog, though. If any description of him were out, it would not be forgotten that the dog was missing, and had probably gone with him. This might lead to his apprehension as he passed along the streets. He resolved to drown him, and walked on, looking about for a pond: picking up a heavy stone and tying it to his handkerchief as he went.

The animal looked up into his master’s face while these preparations were making; whether his instinct apprehended something of their purpose, or the robber’s sidelong look at him was sterner than ordinary, he skulked a little farther in the rear than usual, and cowered as he came more slowly along. When his master halted at the brink of a pool, and looked round to call him, he stopped outright.

‚Do you hear me call? Come here!‘ cried Sikes.

The animal came up from the very force of habit; but as Sikes stooped to attach the handkerchief to his throat, he uttered a low growl and started back.

‚Come back!‘ said the robber.

The dog wagged his tail, but moved not. Sikes made a running noose and called him again.

The dog advanced, retreated, paused an instant, and scoured away at his hardest speed.

The man whistled again and again, and sat down and waited in the expectation that he would return. But no dog appeared, and at length he resumed his journey.

CHAPTER XLIX

MONKS AND MR. BROWNLOW AT LENGTH MEET. THEIR CONVERSATION, AND THE INTELLIGENCE THAT INTERRUPTS IT

The twilight was beginning to close in, when Mr. Brownlow alighted from a hackney-coach at his own door, and knocked softly. The door being opened, a sturdy man got out of the coach and stationed himself on one side of the steps, while another man, who had been seated on the box, dismounted too, and stood upon the other side. At a sign from Mr. Brownlow, they helped out a third man, and taking him between them, hurried him into the house. This man was Monks.

They walked in the same manner up the stairs without speaking, and Mr. Brownlow, preceding them, led the way into a back-room. At the door of this apartment, Monks, who had ascended with evident reluctance, stopped. The two men looked at the old gentleman as if for instructions.

‚He knows the alternative,‘ said Mr. Browlow. ‚If he hesitates or moves a finger but as you bid him, drag him into the street, call for the aid of the police, and impeach him as a felon in my name.‘

‚How dare you say this of me?‘ asked Monks.

‚How dare you urge me to it, young man?‘ replied Mr. Brownlow, confronting him with a steady look. ‚Are you mad enough to leave this house? Unhand him. There, sir. You are free to go, and we to follow. But I warn you, by all I hold most solemn and most sacred, that instant will have you apprehended on a charge of fraud and robbery. I am resolute and immoveable. If you are determined to be the same, your blood be upon your own head!‘

‚By what authority am I kidnapped in the street, and brought here by these dogs?‘ asked Monks, looking from one to the other of the men who stood beside him.

‚By mine,‘ replied Mr. Brownlow. ‚Those persons are indemnified by me. If you complain of being deprived of your liberty–you had power and opportunity to retrieve it as you came along, but you deemed it advisable to remain quiet–I say again, throw yourself for protection on the law. I will appeal to the law too; but when you have gone too far to recede, do not sue to me for leniency, when the power will have passed into other hands; and do not say I plunged you down the gulf into which you rushed, yourself.‘

Monks was plainly disconcerted, and alarmed besides. He hesitated.

‚You will decide quickly,‘ said Mr. Brownlow, with perfect firmness and composure. ‚If you wish me to prefer my charges publicly, and consign you to a punishment the extent of which, although I can, with a shudder, foresee, I cannot control, once more, I say, for you know the way. If not, and you appeal to my forbearance, and the mercy of those you have deeply injured, seat yourself, without a word, in that chair. It has waited for you two whole days.‘

Monks muttered some unintelligible words, but wavered still.

‚You will be prompt,‘ said Mr. Brownlow. ‚A word from me, and the alternative has gone for ever.‘

Still the man hesitated.

‚I have not the inclination to parley,‘ said Mr. Brownlow, ‚and, as I advocate the dearest interests of others, I have not the right.‘

‚Is there–‚ demanded Monks with a faltering tongue,–‚is there–no middle course?‘

‚None.‘

Monks looked at the old gentleman, with an anxious eye; but, reading in his countenance nothing but severity and determination, walked into the room, and, shrugging his shoulders, sat down.

‚Lock the door on the outside,‘ said Mr. Brownlow to the attendants, ‚and come when I ring.‘

The men obeyed, and the two were left alone together.

‚This is pretty treatment, sir,‘ said Monks, throwing down his hat and cloak, ‚from my father’s oldest friend.‘


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