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Brownlow turned to the terrified group beside him, and explained
that the Jew, who had been his old accomplice and confidant, had
a large reward for keeping Oliver ensnared: of which some part
was to be given up, in the event of his being rescued: and that
a dispute on this head had led to their visit to the country
house for the purpose of identifying him.
'The locket and ring?' said Mr. Brownlow, turning to Monks.
'I bought them from the man and woman I told you of, who stole
them from the nurse, who stole them from the corpse,' answered
Monks without raising his eyes. 'You know what became of them.'
Mr. Brownlow merely nodded to Mr. Grimwig, who disappearing with
great alacrity, shortly returned, pushing in Mrs. Bumble, and
dragging her unwilling consort after him.
'Do my hi's deceive me!' cried Mr. Bumble, with ill-feigned
enthusiasm, 'or is that little Oliver? Oh O-li-ver, if you
know'd how I've been a-grieving for you--'
'Hold your tongue, fool,' murmured Mrs. Bumble.
'Isn't natur, natur, Mrs. Bumble?' remonstrated the workhouse
master. 'Can't I be supposed to feel--_I_ as brought him up
porochially--when I see him a-setting here among ladies and
gentlemen of the very affablest description! I always loved that
boy as if he'd been my--my--my own grandfather,' said Mr. Bumble,
halting for an appropriate comparison. 'Master Oliver, my dear,
you remember the blessed gentleman in the white waistcoat? Ah!
he went to heaven last week, in a oak coffin with plated handles,
'Come, sir,' said Mr. Grimwig, tartly; 'suppress your feelings.'
'I will do my endeavours, sir,' replied Mr. Bumble. 'How do you
do, sir? I hope you are very well.'
This salutation was addressed to Mr. Brownlow, who had stepped up
to within a short distance of the respectable couple. He
inquired, as he pointed to Monks,
'Do you know that person?'
'No,' replied Mrs. Bumble flatly.
'Perhaps YOU don't?' said Mr. Brownlow, addressing her spouse.
'I never saw him in all my life,' said Mr. Bumble.
'Nor sold him anything, perhaps?'
'No,' replied Mrs. Bumble.
'You never had, perhaps, a certain gold locket and ring?' said
'Certainly not,' replied the matron. 'Why are we brought here to
answer to such nonsense as this?'
Again Mr. Brownlow nodded to Mr. Grimwig; and again that
gentleman limped away with extraordinary readiness. But not
again did he return with a stout man and wife; for this time, he
led in two palsied women, who shook and tottered as they walked.
'You shut the door the night old Sally died,' said the foremost
one, raising her shrivelled hand, 'but you couldn't shut out the
sound, nor stop the chinks.'
'No, no,' said the other, looking round her and wagging her
toothless jaws. 'No, no, no.'
'We heard her try to tell you what she'd done, and saw you take a
paper from her hand, and watched you too, next day, to the
pawnbroker's shop,' said the first.
'Yes,' added the second, 'and it was a "locket and gold ring."
We found out that, and saw it given you. We were by. Oh! we
'And we know more than that,' resumed the first, 'for she told us
often, long ago, that the young mother had told her that, feeling
she should never get over it, she was on her way, at the time
that she was taken ill, to die near the grave of the father of
'Would you like to see the pawnbroker himself?' asked Mr. Grimwig
with a motion towards the door.
'No,' replied the woman; 'if he--she pointed to Monks--'has been
coward enough to confess, as I see he had, and you have sounded
all these hags till you have found the right ones, I have nothing
more to say. I DID sell them, and they're where you'll never get
them. What then?'
'Nothing,' replied Mr. Brownlow, 'except that it remains for us
to take care that neither of you is employed in a situation of
trust again. You may leave the room.'
'I hope,' said Mr. Bumble, looking about him with great
ruefulness, as Mr. Grimwig disappeared with the two old women:
'I hope that this unfortunate little circumstance will not
deprive me of my porochial office?'
'Indeed it will,' replied Mr. Brownlow. 'You may make up your
mind to that, and think yourself well off besides.'
'It was all Mrs. Bumble. She WOULD do it,' urged Mr. Bumble;
first looking round to ascertain that his partner had left the
'That is no excuse,' replied Mr. Brownlow. 'You were present on
the occasion of the destruction of these trinkets, and indeed are
the more guilty of the two, in the eye of the law; for the law
supposes that your wife acts under your direction.'
'If the law supposes that,' said Mr. Bumble, squeezing his hat
emphatically in both hands, 'the law is a ass--a idiot. If
that's the eye of the law, the law is a bachelor; and the worst I
wish the law is, that his eye may be opened by experience--by
Laying great stress on the repetition of these two words, Mr.
Bumble fixed his hat on very tight, and putting his hands in his
pockets, followed his helpmate downstairs.
'Young lady,' said Mr. Brownlow, turning to Rose, 'give me your
hand. Do not tremble. You need not fear to hear the few
remaining words we have to say.'
'If they have--I do not know how they can, but if they have--any
reference to me,' said Rose, 'pray let me hear them at some other
time. I have not strength or spirits now.'
'Nay,' returned the old gentlman, drawing her arm through his;
'you have more fortitude than this, I am sure. Do you know this
young lady, sir?'
'Yes,' replied Monks.
'I never saw you before,' said Rose faintly.
'I have seen you often,' returned Monks.
'The father of the unhappy Agnes had TWO daughters,' said Mr.
Brownlow. 'What was the fate of the other--the child?'
'The child,' replied Monks, 'when her father died in a strange
place, in a strange name, without a letter, book, or scrap of
paper that yielded the faintest clue by which his friends or
relatives could be traced--the child was taken by some wretched
cottagers, who reared it as their own.'
'Go on,' said Mr. Brownlow, signing to Mrs. Maylie to approach.
'You couldn't find the spot to which these people had repaired,'
said Monks, 'but where friendship fails, hatred will often force
a way. My mother found it, after a year of cunning search--ay,
and found the child.'
'She took it, did she?'
'No. The people were poor and began to sicken--at least the man
did--of their fine humanity; so she left it with them, giving
them a small present of money which would not last long, and
promised more, which she never meant to send. She didn't quite
rely, however, on their discontent and poverty for the child's
unhappiness, but told the history of the sister's shame, with
such alterations as suited her; bade them take good heed of the
child, for she came of bad blood;; and told them she was
illegitimate, and sure to go wrong at one time or other. The
circumstances countenanced all this; the people believed it; and
there the child dragged on an existence, miserable enough even to
satisfy us, until a widow lady, residing, then, at Chester, saw
the girl by chance, pitied her, and took her home. There was
some cursed spell, I think, against us; for in spite of all our
efforts she remained there and was happy. I lost sight of her,
two or three years ago, and saw her no more until a few months
'Do you see her now?'
'Yes. Leaning on your arm.'
'But not the less my niece,' cried Mrs. Maylie, folding the
fainting girl in her arms; 'not the less my dearest child. I
would not lose her now, for all the treasures of the world. My
sweet companion, my own dear girl!'
'The only friend I ever had,' cried Rose, clinging to her. 'The
kindest, best of friends. My heart will burst. I cannot bear
'You have borne more, and have been, through all, the best and
gentlest creature that ever shed happiness on every one she
knew,' said Mrs. Maylie, embracing her tenderly. 'Come, come, my
love, remember who this is who waits to clasp you in his arms,
poor child! See here--look, look, my dear!'