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'I don't know; I really don't know,' said Giles, with a rueful
countenance. 'I couldn't swear to him.'
'What do you think?' asked Mr. Blathers.
'I don't know what to think,' replied poor Giles. 'I don't think
it is the boy; indeed, I'm almost certain that it isn't. You
know it can't be.'
'Has this man been a-drinking, sir?' inquired Blathers, turning
to the doctor.
'What a precious muddle-headed chap you are!' said Duff,
addressing Mr. Giles, with supreme contempt.
Mr. Losberne had been feeling the patient's pulse during this
short dialogue; but he now rose from the chair by the bedside,
and remarked, that if the officers had any doubts upon the
subject, they would perhaps like to step into the next room, and
have Brittles before them.
Acting upon this suggestion, they adjourned to a neighbouring
apartment, where Mr. Brittles, being called in, involved himself
and his respected superior in such a wonderful maze of fresh
contradictions and impossibilities, as tended to throw no
particular light on anything, but the fact of his own strong
mystification; except, indeed, his declarations that he shouldn't
know the real boy, if he were put before him that instant; that
he had only taken Oliver to be he, because Mr. Giles had said he
was; and that Mr. Giles had, five minutes previously, admitted in
the kitchen, that he begain to be very much afraid he had been a
little too hasty.
Among other ingenious surmises, the question was then raised,
whether Mr. Giles had really hit anybody; and upon examination of
the fellow pistol to that which he had fired, it turned out to
have no more destructive loading than gunpowder and brown paper:
a discovery which made a considerable impression on everybody but
the doctor, who had drawn the ball about ten minutes before.
Upon no one, however, did it make a greater impression than on
Mr. Giles himself; who, after labouring, for some hours, under
the fear of having mortally wounded a fellow-creature, eagerly
caught at this new idea, and favoured it to the utmost. Finally,
the officers, without troubling themselves very much about
Oliver, left the Chertsey constable in the house, and took up
their rest for that night in the town; promising to return the
With the next morning, there came a rumour, that two men and a
boy were in the cage at Kingston, who had been apprehended over
night under suspicious circumstances; and to Kingston Messrs.
Blathers and Duff journeyed accordingly. The suspicious
circumstances, however, resolving themselves, on investigation,
into the one fact, that they had been discovered sleeping under a
haystack; which, although a great crime, is only punishable by
imprisonment, and is, in the merciful eye of the English law, and
its comprehensive love of all the King's subjects, held to be no
satisfactory proof, in the absence of all other evidence, that
the sleeper, or sleepers, have committed burglary accompanied
with violence, and have therefore rendered themselves liable to
the punishment of death; Messrs. Blathers and Duff came back
again, as wise as they went.
In short, after some more examination, and a great deal more
conversation, a neighbouring magistrate was readily induced to
take the joint bail of Mrs. Maylie and Mr. Losberne for Oliver's
appearance if he should ever be called upon; and Blathers and
Duff, being rewarded with a couple of guineas, returned to town
with divided opinions on the subject of their expedition: the
latter gentleman on a mature consideration of all the
circumstances, inclining to the belief that the burglarious
attempt had originated with the Family Pet; and the former being
equally disposed to concede the full merit of it to the great Mr.
Meanwhile, Oliver gradually throve and prospered under the united
care of Mrs. Maylie, Rose, and the kind-hearted Mr. Losberne. If
fervent prayers, gushing from hearts overcharged with gratitude,
be heard in heaven--and if they be not, what prayers are!--the
blessings which the orphan child called down upon them, sunk into
their souls, diffusing peace and happiness.
OF THE HAPPY LIFE OLIVER BEGAN TO LEAD WITH HIS KIND FRIENDS
Oliver's ailings were neither slight nor few. In addition to the
pain and delay attendant on a broken limb, his exposure to the
wet and cold had brought on fever and ague: which hung about him
for many weeks, and reduced him sadly. But, at length, he began,
by slow degrees, to get better, and to be able to say sometimes,
in a few tearful words, how deeply he felt the goodness of the
two sweet ladies, and how ardently he hoped that when he grew
strong and well again, he could do something to show his
gratitude; only something, which would let them see the love and
duty with which his breast was full; something, however slight,
which would prove to them that their gentle kindness had not been
cast away; but that the poor boy whom their charity had rescued
from misery, or death, was eager to serve them with his whole
heart and soul.
'Poor fellow!' said Rose, when Oliver had been one day feebly
endeavouring to utter the words of thankfulness that rose to his
pale lips; 'you shall have many opportunities of serving us, if
you will. We are going into the country, and my aunt intends
that you shall accompany us. The quiet place, the pure air, and
all the pleasure and beauties of spring, will restore you in a
few days. We will employ you in a hundred ways, when you can
bear the trouble.'
'The trouble!' cried Oliver. 'Oh! dear lady, if I could but work
for you; if I could only give you pleasure by watering your
flowers, or watching your birds, or running up and down the whole
day long, to make you happy; what would I give to do it!'
'You shall give nothing at all,' said Miss Maylie, smiling; 'for,
as I told you before, we shall employ you in a hundred ways; and
if you only take half the trouble to please us, that you promise
now, you will make me very happy indeed.'
'Happy, ma'am!' cried Oliver; 'how kind of you to say so!'
'You will make me happier than I can tell you,' replied the young
lady. 'To think that my dear good aunt should have been the
means of rescuing any one from such sad misery as you have
described to us, would be an unspeakable pleasure to me; but to
know that the object of her goodness and compassion was sincerely
grateful and attached, in consequence, would delight me, more
than you can well imagine. Do you understand me?' she inquired,
watching Oliver's thoughtful face.
'Oh yes, ma'am, yes!' replied Oliver eagerly; 'but I was thinking
that I am ungrateful now.'
'To whom?' inquired the young lady.
'To the kind gentleman, and the dear old nurse, who took so much
care of me before,' rejoined Oliver. 'If they knew how happy I
am, they would be pleased, I am sure.'
'I am sure they would,' rejoined Oliver's benefactress; 'and Mr.
Losberne has already been kind enough to promise that when you
are well enough to bear the journey, he will carry you to see
'Has he, ma'am?' cried Oliver, his face brightening with
pleasure. 'I don't know what I shall do for joy when I see their
kind faces once again!'
In a short time Oliver was sufficiently recovered to undergo the
fatigue of this expedition. One morning he and Mr. Losberne set
out, accordingly, in a little carriage which belonged to Mrs.
Maylie. When they came to Chertsey Bridge, Oliver turned very
pale, and uttered a loud exclamation.
'What's the matter with the boy?' cried the doctor, as usual, all
in a bustle. 'Do you see anything--hear anything--feel
'That, sir,' cried Oliver, pointing out of the carriage window.
'Yes; well, what of it? Stop coachman. Pull up here,' cried the
doctor. 'What of the house, my man; eh?'
'The thieves--the house they took me to!' whispered Oliver.
'The devil it is!' cried the doctor. 'Hallo, there! let me out!'
But, before the coachman could dismount from his box, he had
tumbled out of the coach, by some means or other; and, running
down to the deserted tenement, began kicking at the door like a
'Halloa?' said a little ugly hump-backed man: opening the door
so suddenly, that the doctor, from the very impetus of his last
kick, nearly fell forward into the passage. 'What's the matter
'Matter!' exclaimed the other, collaring him, without a moment's
reflection. 'A good deal. Robbery is the matter.'
'There'll be Murder the matter, too,' replied the hump-backed
man, coolly, 'if you don't take your hands off. Do you hear me?'
'I hear you,' said the doctor, giving his captive a hearty shake.
'Where's--confound the fellow, what's his rascally name--Sikes;
that's it. Where's Sikes, you thief?'
The hump-backed man stared, as if in excess of amazement and
indignation; then, twisting himself, dexterously, from the
doctor's grasp, growled forth a volley of horrid oaths, and
retired into the house. Before he could shut the door, however,
the doctor had passed into the parlour, without a word of parley.
He looked anxiously round; not an article of furniture; not a
vestige of anything, animate or inanimate; not even the position