‘Where to, Sir?’ asked Kit.

The man contented himself by briefly replying ‘Wisitors;’ and taking him by the arm in exactly the same manner as the constable had done the day before, led him through several winding ways and strong gates into a passage, where he placed him at a grating, and turned upon his heel. Beyond this grating, at the distance of about four or five feet, was another exactly like it. In the space between, sat a turnkey reading a newspaper; and outside the further railing, Kit saw, with a palpitating heart, his mother with the baby in her arms; Barbara’s mother with her never-failing umbrella; and poor little Jacob, staring in with all his might, as though he were looking for the bird, or the wild beast, and thought the men were mere accidents with whom the bars could have no possible concern.

But directly little Jacob saw his brother, and, thrusting his arms between the rails to hug him, found that he came no nearer, but still stood afar off with his head resting on the arm by which he held to one of the bars, he began to cry most piteously; whereupon, Kit’s mother and Barbara’s mother, who had restrained themselves as much as possible, burst out sobbing and weeping afresh. Poor Kit could not help joining them, and not one of them could speak a word.

During this melancholy pause, the turnkey read his newspaper with a waggish look (he had evidently got among the facetious paragraphs) until, happening to take his eyes off it for an instant, as if to get by dint of contemplation at the very marrow of some joke of a deeper sort than the rest, it appeared to occur to him for the first time that somebody was crying.

‘Now, ladies, ladies,’ he said, looking round with surprise, ‘I’d advise you not to waste time like this. It’s allowanced here, you know. You mustn’t let that child make that noise either. It’s against all rules.’

‘I’m his poor mother, Sir,’ sobbed Mrs Nubbles, curtseying humbly, ‘and this is his brother, Sir. Oh dear me, dear me!’

‘Well!’ replied the turnkey, folding his paper on his knee, so as to get with greater convenience at the top of the next column. ‘It can’t be helped, you know. He ain’t the only one in the same fix. You mustn’t make a noise about it!’

With that, he went on reading. The man was not unnaturally cruel or hard-hearted. He had come to look upon felony as a kind of disorder, like the scarlet fever or erysipelas: some people had it — some hadn’t — just as it might be.

‘Oh! my darling Kit—’ said his mother, whom Barbara’s mother had charitably relieved of the baby,— ‘that I should see my poor boy here!’

‘You don’t believe that I did what they accuse me of, mother dear?’ cried Kit, in a choking voice.

I believe it!’ exclaimed the poor woman, ‘I that never knew you to tell a lie, or do a bad action from your cradle—that have never had a moment’s sorrow on your account, except it was for the poor meals that you have taken with such good-humour and content, that I forgot how little there was when I thought how kind and thoughtful you were, though you were but a child!—I believe it of the son that’s been a comfort to me from the hour of his birth to this time, and that I never laid down one night in anger with! I believe it of you, Kit!—’

‘Why then, thank God!’ said Kit, clutching the bars with an earnestness that shook them, ‘and I can bear it, mother. Come what may, I shall always have one drop of happiness in my heart when I think that you said that.’

At this the poor woman fell a-crying again, and Barbara’s mother too. And little Jacob, whose disjointed thoughts had by this time resolved themselves into a pretty distinct impression that Kit couldn’t go out

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