She's dead, replied Oliver; don't you say anything about her to me!
Oliver's colour rose as he said this; he breathed quickly; and there was a curious working of the mouth and nostrils, which Mr. Claypole thought must be the immediate precursor of a violent fit of crying. Under this impression he returned to the charge.
What did she die of, Work'us? said Noah.
Of a broken heart, some of our old nurses told me, replied Oliver: more as if he were talking to himself, than answering Noah. I think I know what it must be to die of that!
Tol de rol lol lol, right fol lairy, Work'us, said Noah, as a tear rolled down Oliver's cheek. What's set you a snivelling now?
Not you , replied Oliver, hastily brushing the tear away. Don't think it.
Oh, not me, eh! sneered Noah.
No, not you, replied Oliver, sharply. There; that's enough. Don't say anything more to me about her; you'd better not!
Better not! exclaimed Noah. Well! Better not! Work'us, don't be impudent. Your mother, too! She was a nice 'un, she was. Oh, Lor! And here, Noah nodded his head expressively; and curled up as much of his small red nose as muscular action could collect together, for the occasion.
Yer know, Work'us, continued Noah, emboldened by Oliver's silence, and speaking in a jeering tone of affected pity: of all tones the most annoying: Yer know, Work'us, it can't be helped now; and of course yer couldn't help it then; and I'm very sorry for it; and I'm sure we all are, and pity yer very much. But yer must know, Work'us, yer mother was a regular right-down bad 'un.
What did you say? inquired Oliver, looking up very quickly.
A regular right-down bad 'un, Work'us, replied Noah, coolly. And it's a great deal better, Work'us, that she died when she did, or else she'd have been hard labouring in Bridewell, or transported, or hung; which is more likely than either, isn't it?
Crimson with fury, Oliver started up, overthrew the chair and table; seized Noah by the throat; shook him, in the violence of his rage, till his teeth chattered in his head; and, collecting his whole force into one heavy blow, felled him to the ground.
A minute ago, the boy had looked the quiet, mild, dejected creature that harsh treatment had made him. But his spirit was roused at last; the cruel insult to his dead mother had set his blood on fire. His breast heaved; his attitude was erect; his eye bright and vivid; his whole person changed, as he stood glaring over the cowardly tormentor who now lay crouching at his feet; and defied him with an energy he had never known before.
He'll murder me! blubbered Noah. Charlotte! missis! Here's the new boy a murdering of me! Help! help! Oliver's gone mad! Char lotte!
Noah's shouts were responded to, by a loud scream from Charlotte, and a louder from Mrs. Sowerberry; the former of whom rushed into the kitchen by a side-door, while the latter paused on the staircase till she was quite certain that it was consistent with the preservation of human life, to come further down.
Oh, you little wretch! screamed Charlotte: seizing Oliver with her utmost force, which was about equal to that of a moderately strong man in particularly good training, Oh, you little un-grate-ful, mur-de-rous,
|Copyright: All texts on Bibliomania are © Bibliomania.com Ltd, and may not be reproduced in any form without our written permission. See our FAQ for more details.|