But Mr. Bumble was cunning enough; and he at once saw that anopportunity was opened, for the lucrative disposal of some secretin the possession of his better half. He well remembered thenight of old Sally's death, which the occurrences of that day hadgiven him good reason to recollect, as the occasion on which hehad proposed to Mrs. Corney; and although that lady had neverconfided to him the disclosure of which she had been the solitarywitness, he had heard enough to know that it related to somethingthat had occurred in the old woman's attendance, as workhousenurse, upon the young mother of Oliver Twist. Hastily callingthis circumstance to mind, he informed the stranger, with an airof mystery, that one woman had been closeted with the oldharridan shortly before she died; and that she could, as he hadreason to believe, throw some light on the subject of hisinquiry.。，
。， Many of the shops were already closing in the back lanes andavenues through which she tracked her way, in making fromSpitalfields towards the West-End of London. The clock struckten, increasing her impatience. She tore along the narrowpavement: elbowing the passengers from side to side; and dartingalmost under the horses' heads, crossed crowded streets, whereclusters of persons were eagerly watching their opportunity to dothe like.
'Thank Heaven upon your knees, dear lady,' cried the girl, 'thatyou had friends to care for and keep you in your childhood, andthat you were never in the midst of cold and hunger, and riot anddrunkenness, and--and--something worse than all--as I have beenfrom my cradle. I may use the word, for the alley and the gutterwere mine, as they will be my deathbed.'。， 'And this is all?' said Monks, after a close and eager scrutinyof the contents of the little packet.
'Not a large sum for a paltry secret, that may be nothing whenit's told!' cried Monks impatiently; 'and which has been lyingdead for twelve years past or more!'。， 'Twelve miles down the river, and cut to pieces besides,' repliedBumble, recoiling at the thought.
。， As Mr. Bumble spoke, he made a melancholy feint of grasping hislantern with fierce determination; and plainly showed, by thealarmed expression of every feature, that he DID want a littlerousing, and not a little, prior to making any very warlikedemonstration: unless, indeed, against paupers, or other personor persons trained down for the purpose.
Whether an exceedingly small expansion of eye be sufficient toquell paupers, who, being lightly fed, are in no very highcondition; or whether the late Mrs. Corney was particularly proofagainst eagle glances; are matters of opinion. The matter offact, is, that the matron was in no way overpowered by Mr.Bumble's scowl, but, on the contrary, treated it with greatdisdain, and even raised a laugh threreat, which sounded asthough it were genuine.。，
。， 'When ladies as young, and good, and beautiful as you are,'replied the girl steadily, 'give away your hearts, love willcarry you all lengths--even such as you, who have home, friends,other admirers, everything, to fill them. When such as I, whohave no certain roof but the coffinlid, and no friend in sicknessor death but the hospital nurse, set our rotten hearts on anyman, and let him fill the place that has been a blank through allour wretched lives, who can hope to cure us? Pity us, lady--pityus for having only one feeling of the woman left, and for havingthat turned, by a heavy judgment, from a comfort and a pride,into a new means of violence and suffering.'
， With these words, he led the way to the door, after stopping topay for the liquor that had been drunk. Shortly remarking thattheir roads were different, he departed, without more ceremonythan an emphatic repetition of the hour of appointment for thefollowing night.。， 'I hope I may have good cause to do so,' replied Mr. Losberne;'though I confess I don't think I shall. But yesterday morningyou had made up your mind, in a great hurry, to stay here, and toaccompany your mother, like a dutiful son, to the sea-side.Before noon, you announce that you are going to do me the honourof accompanying me as far as I go, on your road to London. Andat night, you urge me, with great mystery, to start before theladies are stirring; the consequence of which is, that youngOliver here is pinned down to his breakfast when he ought to beranging the meadows after botanical phenomena of all kinds. Toobad, isn't it, Oliver?'