Dont I say I ant a-going to hurt you? said Dennis, pointing to a chair. Why miss, whats the matter?
I dont know what maynt be the matter! cried Miss Miggs, clasping her hands distractedly. Anything may be the matter!
But nothing is, I tell you, said the hangman. First stop that noise and come and sit down here, will you, chuckey?
The coaxing tone in which he said these latter words might have failed in its object, if he had not accompanied them with sundry sharp jerks of his thumb over one shoulder, and with divers winks and thrustings of his tongue into his cheek, from which signals the damsel gathered that he sought to speak to her apart, concerning Miss Haredale and Dolly. Her curiosity being very powerful, and her jealousy by no means inactive, she arose, and with a great deal of shivering and starting back, and much muscular action among all the small bones in her throat, gradually approached him.
Sit down, said the hangman.
Suiting the action to the word, he thrust her rather suddenly and prematurely into a chair, and designing to reassure her by a little harmless jocularity, such as is adapted to please and fascinate the sex, converted his right forefinger into an ideal bradawl or gimlet, and made as though he would screw the same into her side whereat Miss Miggs shrieked again, and evinced symptoms of faintness.
Lovey, my dear, whispered Dennis, drawing his chair close to hers. When was your young man here last, eh?
My young man, good gentleman! answered Miggs in a tone of exquisite distress.
Ah! Simmuns, you knowhim? said Dennis.
Mine indeed! cried Miggs, with a burst of bitternessand as she said it, she glanced towards Dolly. Mine, good gentleman!
This was just what Mr Dennis wanted, and expected.
Ah! he said, looking so soothingly, not to say amorously on Miggs, that she sat, as she afterwards remarked, on pins and needles of the sharpest Whitechapel kind, not knowing what intentions might be suggesting that expression to his features: I was afraid of that. I saw as much myself. Its her fault. She will entice em.
I wouldnt, cried Miggs, folding her hands and looking upwards with a kind of devout blankness, I wouldnt lay myself out as she does; I wouldnt be as bold as her; I wouldnt seem to say to all male creeturs Come and kiss meand here a shudder quite convulsed her framefor any earthly crowns as might be offered. Worlds, Miggs added solemnly, should not reduce me. No. Not if I was Wenis.
Well, but you are Wenus, you know, said Mr Dennis, confidentially.
No, I am not, good gentleman, answered Miggs, shaking her head with an air of self-denial which seemed to imply that she might be if she chose, but she hoped she knew better. No, I am not, good gentleman. Dont charge me with it.
Up to this time she had turned round, every now and then, to where Dolly and Miss Haredale had retired and uttered a scream, or groan, or laid her hand upon her heart and trembled excessively, with a view of keeping up appearances, and giving them to understand that she conversed with the visitor, under protest and on compulsion, and at a great personal sacrifice, for their common good. But at this point, Mr Dennis looked so very full of meaning, and gave such a singularly expressive twitch to his face as a
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