Charles Dickens

But, it was bound too tight for that. I felt as if, having

been burnt before, it were now being boiled.

The sudden exclusion of the night and the substitution of black

darkness in its place, warned me that the man had closed a shutter.

After groping about for a little, he found the flint and steel he

wanted, and began to strike a light. I strained my sight upon the

sparks that fell among the tinder, and upon which he breathed and

breathed, match in hand, but I could only see his lips, and the

blue point of the match; even those, but fitfully. The tinder was

damp - no wonder there - and one after another the sparks died out.

The man was in no hurry, and struck again with the flint and steel.

As the sparks fell thick and bright about him, I could see his

hands, and touches of his face, and could make out that he was

seated and bending over the table; but nothing more. Presently I

saw his blue lips again, breathing on the tinder, and then a flare

of light flashed up, and showed me Orlick.

Whom I had looked for, I don't know. I had not looked for him.

Seeing him, I felt that I was in a dangerous strait indeed, and I

kept my eyes upon him.

He lighted the candle from the flaring match with great

deliberation, and dropped the match, and trod it out. Then, he put

the candle away from him on the table, so that he could see me, and

sat with his arms folded on the table and looked at me. I made out

that I was fastened to a stout perpendicular ladder a few inches

from the wall - a fixture there - the means of ascent to the loft


"Now," said he, when we had surveyed one another for some time,

"I've got you."

"Unbind me. Let me go!"

"Ah!" he returned, "I'll let you go. I'll let you go to the moon,

I'll let you go to the stars. All in good time."

"Why have you lured me here?"

"Don't you know?" said he, with a deadly look

"Why have you set upon me in the dark?"

"Because I mean to do it all myself. One keeps a secret better than

two. Oh you enemy, you enemy!"

His enjoyment of the spectacle I furnished, as he sat with his arms

folded on the table, shaking his head at me and hugging himself,

had a malignity in it that made me tremble. As I watched him in

silence, he put his hand into the corner at his side, and took up a

gun with a brass-bound stock.

"Do you know this?" said he, making as if he would take aim at me.

"Do you know where you saw it afore? Speak, wolf!"

"Yes," I answered.

"You cost me that place. You did. Speak!"

"What else could I do?"

"You did that, and that would be enough, without more. How dared

you to come betwixt me and a young woman I liked?"

"When did I?"

"When didn't you? It was you as always give Old Orlick a bad name

to her."

"You gave it to yourself; you gained it for yourself. I could have

done you no harm, if you had done yourself none."

"You're a liar. And you'll take any pains, and spend any money, to

drive me out of this country, will you?" said he, repeating my

words to Biddy in the last interview I had with her. "Now, I'll

tell you a piece of information. It was never so well worth your

while to get me out of this country as it is to-night. Ah! If it

was all your money twenty times told, to the last brass farden!" As

he shook his heavy hand at me, with his mouth snarling like a

tiger's, I felt that it was true.

"What are you going to do to me?"

"I'm a-going," said he, bringing his fist down upon the table with a

heavy blow, and rising as the blow fell, to give it greater force,

"I'm a-going to have your life!"

He leaned forward staring at me, slowly unclenched his hand and

drew it across his mouth as if his mouth watered for me, and sat

down again.

"You was always in Old Orlick's way since ever you was a child. You

goes out of his way, this present night. He'll have no more on you.