They will be different, I will be different yet, with Heaven's help.'
She gave her hand to Sissy, as if she meant with her help too.
'Your wretched brother,' said Mr. Gradgrind. 'Do you think he had planned this robbery, when he went with you to the lodging?'
'I fear so, father. I know he had wanted money very much, and had spent a great deal.'
'The poor man being about to leave the town, it came into his evil brain to cast suspicion on him?'
'I think it must have flashed upon him while he sat there, father. For I asked him to go there with me. The visit did not originate with him.'
'He had some conversation with the poor man. Did he take him aside?'
'He took him out of the room. I asked him afterwards, why he had done so, and he made a plausible excuse; but since last night, father, and when I remember the circumstances by its light, I am afraid I can imagine too truly what passed between them.'
'Let me know,' said her father, 'if your thoughts present your guilty brother in the same dark view as mine.'
'I fear, father,' hesitated Louisa, 'that he must have made some representation to Stephen Blackpool - perhaps in my name, perhaps in his own - which induced him to do in good faith and honesty, what he had never done before, and to wait about the Bank those two or three nights before he left the town.'
'Too plain!' returned the father. 'Too plain!'
He shaded his face, and remained silent for some moments. Recovering himself, he said:
'And now, how is he to be found? How is he to be saved from justice? In the few hours that I can possibly allow to elapse before I publish the truth, how is he to be found by us, and only by us? Ten thousand pounds could not effect it.'
'Sissy has effected it, father.'
He raised his eyes to where she stood, like a good fairy in his house, and said in a tone of softened gratitude and grateful kindness, 'It is always you, my child!'
'We had our fears,' Sissy explained, glancing at Louisa, 'before yesterday; and when I saw you brought to the side of the litter last night, and heard what passed (being close to Rachael all the time), I went to him when no one saw, and said to him, "Don't look at me. See where your father is. Escape at once, for his sake and your own!" He was in a tremble before I whispered to him, and he started and trembled more then, and said, "Where can I go? I have very little money, and I don't know who will hide me!" I thought of father's old circus. I have not forgotten where Mr. Sleary goes at this time of year, and I read of him in a paper only the other day. I told him to hurry there, and tell his name, and ask Mr. Sleary to hide him till I came. "I'll get to him before the morning," he said. And I saw him shrink away among the people.'
'Thank Heaven!' exclaimed his father. 'He may be got abroad yet.'
It was the more hopeful as the town to which Sissy had directed him was within three hours' journey of Liverpool, whence he could be swiftly dispatched to any part of the world. But, caution being necessary in communicating with him - for there was a greater danger every moment of his being suspected now, and nobody could be sure at heart but that Mr. Bounderby himself, in a bullying vein of public zeal, might play a Roman part - it was consented that Sissy and Louisa should repair to the place in question, by a circuitous course, alone; and that the unhappy father, setting forth in an opposite direction, should get round to the same bourne by another and wider route. It was further agreed that he should not present himself to Mr. Sleary, lest his intentions should be mistrusted, or the intelligence of his arrival should cause his son to take flight anew; but, that the communication should be left to Sissy and Louisa to open; and that they should inform the cause of so much misery and disgrace, of his father's being at hand and of the purpose for which they had come. When these arrangements had been well considered and were fully understood by all three, it was time to begin to carry them into execution.