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company, and hurried back to his chair. The cook and housemaid
'It was a knock,' said Mr. Giles, assuming perfect serenity.
'Open the door, somebody.'
'It seems a strange sort of a thing, a knock coming at such a
time in the morning,' said Mr. Giles, surveying the pale faces
which surrounded him, and looking very blank himself; 'but the
door must be opened. Do you hear, somebody?'
Mr. Giles, as he spoke, looked at Brittles; but that young man,
being naturally modest, probably considered himself nobody, and
so held that the inquiry could not have any application to him;
at all events, he tendered no reply. Mr. Giles directed an
appealing glance at the tinker; but he had suddenly fallen
asleep. The women were out of the question.
'If Brittles would rather open the door, in the presence of
witnesses,' said Mr. Giles, after a short silence, 'I am ready to
'So am I,' said the tinker, waking up, as suddenly as he had
Brittles capitualated on these terms; and the party being
somewhat re-assured by the discovery (made on throwing open the
shutters) that it was now broad day, took their way upstairs;
with the dogs in front. The two women, who were afraid to stay
below, brought up the rear. By the advice of Mr. Giles, they all
talked very loud, to warn any evil-disposed person outside, that
they were strong in numbers; and by a master-stoke of policy,
originating in the brain of the same ingenious gentleman, the
dogs' tails were well pinched, in the hall, to make them bark
These precautions having been taken, Mr. Giles held on fast by
the tinker's arm (to prevent his running away, as he pleasantly
said), and gave the word of command to open the door. Brittles
obeyed; the group, peeping timourously over each other's
shoulders, beheld no more formidable object than poor little
Oliver Twist, speechless and exhausted, who raised his heavy
eyes, and mutely solicited their compassion.
'A boy!' exclaimed Mr. Giles, valiantly, pushing the tinker into
the background. 'What's the matter with
the--eh?--Why--Brittles--look here--don't you know?'
Brittles, who had got behind the door to open it, no sooner saw
Oliver, than he uttered a loud cry. Mr. Giles, seizing the boy
by one leg and one arm (fortunately not the broken limb) lugged
him straight into the hall, and deposited him at full length on
the floor thereof.
'Here he is!' bawled Giles, calling in a state of great
excitement, up the staircase; 'here's one of the thieves, ma'am!
Here's a thief, miss! Wounded, miss! I shot him, miss; and
Brittles held the light.'
'--In a lantern, miss,' cried Brittles, applying one hand to the
side of his mouth, so that his voice might travel the better.
The two women-servants ran upstairs to carry the intelligence
that Mr. Giles had captured a robber; and the tinker busied
himself in endeavouring to restore Oliver, lest he should die
before he could be hanged. In the midst of all this noise and
commotion, there was heard a sweet female voice, which quelled it
in an instant.
'Giles!' whispered the voice from the stair-head.
'I'm here, miss,' replied Mr. Giles. 'Don't be frightened, miss;
I ain't much injured. He didn't make a very desperate
resistance, miss! I was soon too many for him.'
'Hush!' replied the young lady; 'you frighten my aunt as much as
the thieves did. Is the poor creature much hurt?'
'Wounded desperate, miss,' replied Giles, with indescribable
'He looks as if he was a-going, miss,' bawled Brittles, in the
same manner as before. 'Wouldn't you like to come and look at
him, miss, in case he should?'
'Hush, pray; there's a good man!' rejoined the lady. 'Wait
quietly only one instant, while I speak to aunt.'
With a footstep as soft and gentle as the voice, the speaker
tripped away. She soon returned, with the direction that the
wounded person was to be carried, carefully, upstairs to Mr.
Giles's room; and that Brittles was to saddle the pony and betake
himself instantly to Chertsey: from which place, he was to
despatch, with all speed, a constable and doctor.
'But won't you take one look at him, first, miss?' asked Mr.
Giles, with as much pride as if Oliver were some bird of rare
plumage, that he had skilfully brought down. 'Not one little
'Not now, for the world,' replied the young lady. 'Poor fellow!
Oh! treat him kindly, Giles for my sake!'
The old servant looked up at the speaker, as she turned away,
with a glance as proud and admiring as if she had been his own
child. Then, bending over Oliver, he helped to carry him
upstairs, with the care and solicitude of a woman.
HAS AN INTRODUCTORY ACCOUNT OF THE INMATES OF THE HOUSE, TO WHICH
In a handsome room: though its furniture had rather the air of
old-fashioned comfort, than of modern elegance: there sat two
ladies at a well-spread breakfast-table. Mr. Giles, dressed with
scrupulous care in a full suit of black, was in attendance upon
them. He had taken his station some half-way between the
side-board and the breakfast-table; and, with his body drawn up
to its full height, his head thrown back, and inclined the merest
trifle on one side, his left leg advanced, and his right hand
thrust into his waist-coat, while his left hung down by his side,
grasping a waiter, looked like one who laboured under a very
agreeable sense of his own merits and importance.
Of the two ladies, one was well advanced in years; but the
high-backed oaken chair in which she sat, was not more upright
than she. Dressed with the utmost nicety and precision, in a
quaint mixture of by-gone costume, with some slight concessions
to the prevailing taste, which rather served to point the old
style pleasantly than to impair its effect, she sat, in a stately
manner, with her hands folded on the table before her. Her eyes
(and age had dimmed but little of their brightness) were
attentively upon her young companion.
The younger lady was in the lovely bloom and spring-time of
womanhood; at that age, when, if ever angels be for God's good
purposes enthroned in mortal forms, they may be, without impiety,
supposed to abide in such as hers.
She was not past seventeen. Cast in so slight and exquisite a
mould; so mild and gentle; so pure and beautiful; that earth
seemed not her element, nor its rough creatures her fit
companions. The very intelligence that shone in her deep blue
eye, and was stamped upon her noble head, seemed scarcely of her
age, or of the world; and yet the changing expression of
sweetness and good humour, the thousand lights that played about
the face, and left no shadow there; above all, the smile, the
cheerful, happy smile, were made for Home, and fireside peace and
She was busily engaged in the little offices of the table.
Chancing to raise her eyes as the elder lady was regarding her,
she playfully put back her hair, which was simply braided on her
forehead; and threw into her beaming look, such an expression of
affection and artless loveliness, that blessed spirits might have
smiled to look upon her.
'And Brittles has been gone upwards of an hour, has he?' asked
the old lady, after a pause.
'An hour and twelve minutes, ma'am,' replied Mr. Giles, referring
to a silver watch, which he drew forth by a black ribbon.
'He is always slow,' remarked the old lady.
'Brittles always was a slow boy, ma'am,' replied the attendant.
And seeing, by the bye, that Brittles had been a slow boy for
upwards of thirty years, there appeared no great probability of
his ever being a fast one.
'He gets worse instead of better, I think,' said the elder lady.
'It is very inexcusable in him if he stops to play with any other
boys,' said the young lady, smiling.
Mr. Giles was apparently considering the propriety of indulging
in a respectful smile himself, when a gig drove up to the
garden-gate: out of which there jumped a fat gentleman, who ran
straight up to the door: and who, getting quickly into the house
by some mysterious process, burst into the room, and nearly
overturned Mr. Giles and the breakfast-table together.
'I never heard of such a thing!' exclaimed the fat gentleman. 'My
dear Mrs. Maylie--bless my soul--in the silence of the night,
too--I NEVER heard of such a thing!'
With these expressions of condolence, the fat gentleman shook
hands with both ladies, and drawing up a chair, inquired how they
'You ought to be dead; positively dead with the fright,' said the
fat gentleman. 'Why didn't you send? Bless me, my man should
have come in a minute; and so would I; and my assistant would
have been delighted; or anybody, I'm sure, under such
circumstances. Dear, dear! So unexpected! In the silence of
the night, too!'