Charles Dickens

Which was the very words she says to me (although they was the last I ever had to speak) was these: "Sairey," she says, "is it a public wharf?" Mrs Harris," I makes answer, "can you doubt it? You have know'd me now, ma'am, eight and thirty year; and did you ever know me go, or wish to go, where I was not made welcome, say the words." "No, Sairey," Mrs Harris says, "contrairy quite." And well she knows it too. I am but a poor woman, but I've been sought after, sir, though you may not think it. I've been knocked up at all hours of the night, and warned out by a many landlords, in consequence of being mistook for Fire. I goes out workin' for my bread, 'tis true, but I maintains my independency, with your kind leave, and which I will till death. I has my feelins as a woman, sir, and I have been a mother likeways; but touch a pipkin as belongs to me, or make the least remarks on what I eats or drinks, and though you was the favouritest young for'ard hussy of a servant- gal as ever come into a house, either you leaves the place, or me. My earnins is not great, sir, but I will not be impoged upon. Bless the babe, and save the mother, is my mortar, sir; but I makes so free as add to that, Don't try no impogician with the Nuss, for she will not abear it!'

Mrs Gamp concluded by drawing her shawl tightly over herself with both hands, and, as usual, referring to Mrs Harris for full corroboration of these particulars. She had that peculiar trembling of the head which, in ladies of her excitable nature, may be taken as a sure indication of their breaking out again very shortly; when Jonas made a timely interposition.

'As you ARE here,' he said, 'you had better see to her, and take her home. I am otherwise engaged.' He said nothing more; but looked at Montague as if to give him notice that he was ready to attend him.

'I am sorry to take you away,' said Montague.

Jonas gave him a sinister look, which long lived in Tom's memory, and which he often recalled afterwards.

'I am, upon my life,' said Montague. 'Why did you make it necessary?'

With the same dark glance as before, Jonas replied, after a moment's silence:

'The necessity is none of my making. You have brought it about yourself.'

He said nothing more. He said even this as if he were bound, and in the other's power, but had a sullen and suppressed devil within him, which he could not quite resist. His very gait, as they walked away together, was like that of a fettered man; but, striving to work out at his clenched hands, knitted brows, and fast-set lips, was the same imprisoned devil still.

They got into a handsome cabriolet which was waiting for them and drove away.

The whole of this extraordinary scene had passed so rapidly and the tumult which prevailed around as so unconscious of any impression from it, that, although Tom had been one of the chief actors, it was like a dream. No one had noticed him after they had left the packet. He had stood behind Jonas, and so near him, that he could not help hearing all that passed. He had stood there, with his sister on his arm, expecting and hoping to have an opportunity of explaining his strange share in this yet stranger business. But Jonas had not raised his eyes from the ground; no one else had even looked towards him; and before he could resolve on any course of action, they were all gone.

He gazed round for his landlord. But he had done that more than once already, and no such man was to be seen. He was still pursuing this search with his eyes, when he saw a hand beckoning to him from a hackney-coach; and hurrying towards it, found it was Merry's. She addressed him hurriedly, but bent out of the window, that she might not be overheard by her companion, Mrs Gamp.

'What is it?' she said. 'Good heaven, what is it? Why did he tell me last night to prepare for a long journey, and why have you brought us back like criminals? Dear Mr Pinch!' she clasped her hands distractedly, 'be merciful to us. Whatever this dreadful secret is, be merciful, and God will bless you!'

'If any power of mercy lay with me,' cried Tom, 'trust me, you shouldn't ask in vain.