He had kept a jealous watch on Chuffey ever since the deed; seldom leaving him but on compulsion, and then for as short intervals as possible. They were alone together now. It was twilight, and the appointed time drew near at hand. Jonas walked up and down the room. The old man sat in his accustomed corner.
The slightest circumstance was matter of disquiet to the murderer, and he was made uneasy at this time by the absence of his wife, who had left home early in the afternoon, and had not returned yet. No tenderness for her was at the bottom of this; but he had a misgiving that she might have been waylaid, and tempted into saying something that would criminate him when the news came. For anything he knew, she might have knocked at the door of his room, while he was away, and discovered his plot. Confound her, it was like her pale face to be wandering up and down the house! Where was she now?
`She went to her good friend, Mrs. Todgers,' said the old man, when he asked the question with an angry oath.
Aye! To be sure! Always stealing away into the company of that woman. She was no friend of his. Who could tell what devil's mischief they might hatch together! Let her be fetched home directly.
The old man, muttering some words softly, rose as if he would have gone himself, but Jonas thrust him back into his chair with an impatient imprecation, and sent a servant-girl to fetch her. When he had charged her with her errand he walked to and fro again, and never stopped till she came back, which she did pretty soon: the way being short, and the woman having made good haste.
Well! Where was she? Had she come?
No. She had left there, full three hours.
`Left there! Alone?'
The messenger had not asked; taking that for granted.
`Curse you for a fool. Bring candles!'
She had scarcely left the room when the old clerk, who had been unusually observant of him ever since he had asked about his wife, came suddenly upon him.
`Give her up!' cried the old man. `Come! Give her up to me! Tell me what you have done with her. Quick! I have made no promises on that score. Tell me what you have done with her.'
He laid his hands upon his collar as he spoke, and grasped it: tightly too.
`You shall not leave me!' cried the old man. `I am strong enough to cry out to the neighbours, and I will, unless you give her up. Give her up to me!'
Jonas was so dismayed and conscience-stricken, that he had not even hardihood enough to unclench the old man's hands with his own; but stood looking at him as well as he could in the darkness, without moving a finger. It was as much as he could do to ask him what he meant.
`I will know what you have done with her!' retorted Chuffey. `If you hurt a hair of her head, you shall answer it. Poor thing! Poor thing! Where is she?'
`Why, you old madman!' said Jonas, in a low voice, and with trembling lips. `What Bedlam fit has come upon you now?'
`It is enough to make me mad, seeing what I have seen in this house!' cried Chuffey. `Where is my dear old master! Where is his only son that I have nursed upon my knee, a child! Where is she, she who
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