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'Not aunt,' cried Oliver, throwing his arms about her neck; 'I'll
never call her aunt--sister, my own dear sister, that something
taught my heart to love so dearly from the first! Rose, dear,
Let the tears which fell, and the broken words which were
exchanged in the long close embrace between the orphans, be
sacred. A father, sister, and mother, were gained, and lost, in
that one moment. Joy and grief were mingled in the cup; but
there were no bitter tears: for even grief itself arose so
softened, and clothed in such sweet and tender recollections,
that it became a solemn pleasure, and lost all character of pain.
They were a long, long time alone. A soft tap at the door, at
length announced that some one was without. Oliver opened it,
glided away, and gave place to Harry Maylie.
'I know it all,' he said, taking a seat beside the lovely girl.
'Dear Rose, I know it all.'
'I am not here by accident,' he added after a lengthened silence;
'nor have I heard all this to-night, for I knew it
yesterday--only yesterday. Do you guess that I have come to
remind you of a promise?'
'Stay,' said Rose. 'You DO know all.'
'All. You gave me leave, at any time within a year, to renew the
subject of our last discourse.'
'Not to press you to alter your determination,' pursued the young
man, 'but to hear you repeat it, if you would. I was to lay
whatever of station or fortune I might possess at your feet, and
if you still adhered to your former determination, I pledged
myself, by no word or act, to seek to change it.'
'The same reasons which influenced me then, will influence me
know,' said Rose firmly. 'If I ever owed a strict and rigid duty
to her, whose goodness saved me from a life of indigence and
suffering, when should I ever feel it, as I should to-night? It
is a struggle,' said Rose, 'but one I am proud to make; it is a
pang, but one my heart shall bear.'
'The disclosure of to-night,'--Harry began.
'The disclosure of to-night,' replied Rose softly, 'leaves me in
the same position, with reference to you, as that in which I
'You harden your heart against me, Rose,' urged her lover.
'Oh Harry, Harry,' said the young lady, bursting into tears; 'I
wish I could, and spare myself this pain.'
'Then why inflict it on yourself?' said Harry, taking her hand.
'Think, dear Rose, think what you have heard to-night.'
'And what have I heard! What have I heard!' cried Rose. 'That a
sense of his deep disgrace so worked upon my own father that he
shunned all--there, we have said enough, Harry, we have said
'Not yet, not yet,' said the young man, detaining her as she
rose. 'My hopes, my wishes, prospects, feeling: every thought
in life except my love for you: have undergone a change. I
offer you, now, no distinction among a bustling crowd; no
mingling with a world of malice and detraction, where the blood
is called into honest cheeks by aught but real disgrace and
shame; but a home--a heart and home--yes, dearest Rose, and
those, and those alone, are all I have to offer.'
'What do you mean!' she faltered.
'I mean but this--that when I left you last, I left you with a
firm determination to level all fancied barriers between yourself
and me; resolved that if my world could not be yours, I would
make yours mine; that no pride of birth should curl the lip at
you, for I would turn from it. This I have done. Those who have
shrunk from me because of this, have shrunk from you, and proved
you so far right. Such power and patronage: such relatives of
influence and rank: as smiled upon me then, look coldly now; but
there are smiling fields and waving trees in England's richest
county; and by one village church--mine, Rose, my own!--there
stands a rustic dwelling which you can make me prouder of, than
all the hopes I have renounced, measured a thousandfold. This is
my rank and station now, and here I lay it down!'
* * * * * * *
'It's a trying thing waiting supper for lovers,' said Mr.
Grimwig, waking up, and pulling his pocket-handkerchief from over
Truth to tell, the supper had been waiting a most unreasonable
time. Neither Mrs. Maylie, nor Harry, nor Rose (who all came in
together), could offer a word in extenuation.
'I had serious thoughts of eating my head to-night,' said Mr.
Grimwig, 'for I began to think I should get nothing else. I'll
take the liberty, if you'll allow me, of saluting the bride that
is to be.'
Mr. Grimwig lost no time in carrying this notice into effect upon
the blushing girl; and the example, being contagious, was
followed both by the doctor and Mr. Brownlow: some people affirm
that Harry Maylie had been observed to set it, orginally, in a
dark room adjoining; but the best authorities consider this
downright scandal: he being young and a clergyman.
'Oliver, my child,' said Mrs. Maylie, 'where have you been, and
why do you look so sad? There are tears stealing down your face
at this moment. What is the matter?'
It is a world of disappointment: often to the hopes we most
cherish, and hopes that do our nature the greatest honour.
Poor Dick was dead!
FAGIN'S LAST NIGHT ALIVE
The court was paved, from floor to roof, with human faces.
Inquisitive and eager eyes peered from every inch of space. From
the rail before the dock, away into the sharpest angle of the
smallest corner in the galleries, all looks were fixed upon one
man--Fagin. Before him and behind: above, below, on the right
and on the left: he seemed to stand surrounded by a firmament,
all bright with gleaming eyes.
He stood there, in all this glare of living light, with one hand
resting on the wooden slab before him, the other held to his ear,
and his head thrust forward to enable him to catch with greater
distinctness every word that fell from the presiding judge, who
was delivering his charge to the jury. At times, he turned his
eyes sharply upon them to observe the effect of the slightest
featherweight in his favour; and when the points against him were
stated with terrible distinctness, looked towards his counsel, in
mute appeal that he would, even then, urge something in his
behalf. Beyond these manifestations of anxiety, he stirred not
hand or foot. He had scarcely moved since the trial began; and
now that the judge ceased to speak, he still remained in the same
strained attitude of close attention, with his gaze ben on him,
as though he listened still.
A slight bustle in the court, recalled him to himself. Looking
round, he saw that the juryman had turned together, to consider
their verdict. As his eyes wandered to the gallery, he could see
the people rising above each other to see his face: some hastily
applying their glasses to their eyes: and others whispering
their neighbours with looks expressive of abhorrence. A few
there were, who seemed unmindful of him, and looked only to the
jury, in impatient wonder how they could delay. But in no one
face--not even among the women, of whom there were many
there--could he read the faintest sympathy with himself, or any
feeling but one of all-absorbing interest that he should be
As he saw all this in one bewildered glance, the deathlike
stillness came again, and looking back he saw that the jurymen
had turned towards the judge. Hush!
They only sought permission to retire.
He looked, wistfully, into their faces, one by one when they
passed out, as though to see which way the greater number leant;
but that was fruitless. The jailed touched him on the shoulder.
He followed mechanically to the end of the dock, and sat down on
a chair. The man pointed it out, or he would not have seen it.
He looked up into the gallery again. Some of the people were
eating, and some fanning themselves with handkerchiefs; for the
crowded place was very hot. There was one young man sketching
his face in a little note-book. He wondered whether it was like,
and looked on when the artist broke his pencil-point, and made
another with his knife, as any idle spectator might have done.
In the same way, when he turned his eyes towards the judge, his
mind began to busy itself with the fashion of his dress, and what
it cost, and how he put it on. There was an old fat gentleman on
the bench, too, who had gone out, some half an hour before, and
now come back. He wondered within himself whether this man had
been to get his dinner, what he had had, and where he had had it;
and pursued this train of careless thought until some new object
caught his eye and roused another.
Not that, all this time, his mind was, for an instant, free from
one oppressive overwhelming sense of the grave that opened at his
feet; it was ever present to him, but in a vague and general way,
and he could not fix his thoughts upon it. Thus, even while he
trembled, and turned burning hot at the idea of speedy death, he
fell to counting the iron spikes before him, and wondering how
the head of one had been broken off, and whether they would mend
it, or leave it as it was. Then, he thought of all the horrors
of the gallows and the scaffold--and stopped to watch a man
sprinkling the floor to cool it--and then went on to think again.
At length there was a cry of silence, and a breathless look from