。， Then came the night--dark, dismal, silent night. Other watchersare glad to hear this church-clock strike, for they tell of lifeand coming day. To him they brought despair. The boom of everyiron bell came laden with the one, deep, hollow sound--Death.What availed the noise and bustle of cheerful morning, whichpenetrated even there, to him? It was another form of knell,with mockery added to the warning.
。， These few words had been said apart, so as to be inaudible toOliver. The man touched his hat; and glancing at Oliver withsome curiousity, opened another gate, opposite to that by whichthey had entered, and led them on, through dark and winding ways,towards the cells.
'The letter?--A sheet of paper crossed and crossed again, with apenitent confession, and prayers to God to help her. He hadpalmed a tale on the girl that some secret mystery--to beexplained one day--prevented his marrying her just then; and soshe had gone on, trusting patiently to him, until she trusted toofar, and lost what none could ever give her back. She was, atthat time, within a few months of her confinement. He told herall he had meant to do, to hide her shame, if he had lived, andprayed her, if he died, not to curse him memory, or think theconsequences of their sin would be visited on her or their youngchild; for all the guilt was his. He reminded her of the day hehad given her the little locket and the ring with her christianname engraved upon it, and a blank left for that which he hopedone day to have bestowed upon her--prayed her yet to keep it, andwear it next her heart, as she had done before--and then ran on,wildly, in the same words, over and over again, as if he had gonedistracted. I believe he had.'。， 'Yes, yes,' replied the other. 'His dog has been seen lurkingabout some old haunt, and there seems little doubt hat his mastereither is, or will be, there, under cover of the darkness. Spiesare hovering about in every direction. I have spoken to the menwho are charged with his capture, and they tell me he cannotescape. A reward of a hundred pounds is proclaimed by Governmentto-night.'
'If they have--I do not know how they can, but if they have--anyreference to me,' said Rose, 'pray let me hear them at some othertime. I have not strength or spirits now.'。， 'Bill, Bill!' cried Fagin, following him hastily. 'A word. Onlya word.'
'None.'。， Roused into new strength and energy, and stimulated by the noisewithin the house which announced that an entrance had really beeneffected, he set his foot against the stack of chimneys, fastenedone end of the rope tightly and firmly round it, and with theother made a strong running noose by the aid of his hands andteeth almost in a second. He could let himself down by the cordto within a less distance of the ground than his own height, andhad his knife ready in his hand to cut it then and drop.
The day was breaking, and there was light enough for the men tosee each other's faces. They exchanged one brief glance; therewas a fire in the eyes of both, which could not be mistaken.。， 'See there, there!' cried Oliver, eagerly clasping the hand ofRose, and pointing out at the carriage window; 'that's the stileI came over; there are the hedges I crept behind, for fear anyone should overtake me and force me back! Yonder is the pathacross the fields, leading to the old house where I was a littlechild! Oh Dick, Dick, my dear old friend, if I could only seeyou now!'
'Not aunt,' cried Oliver, throwing his arms about her neck; 'I'llnever call her aunt--sister, my own dear sister, that somethingtaught my heart to love so dearly from the first! Rose, dear,darling Rose!'。， All this time he had, never once, turned his back upon thecorpse; no, not for a moment. Such preparations completed, hemoved, backward, towards the door: dragging the dog with him,lest he should soil his feet anew and carry out new evidence ofthe crime into the streets. He shut the door softly, locked it,took the key, and left the house.
。， Crackit went to the window, and shaking all over, drew in hishead. There was no need to tell them who it was; his pale facewas enough. The dog too was on the alert in an instant, and ranwhining to the door.