Page:Oliver Twist (1838) vol. 2.djvu/247

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229
Oliver Twist.

drawing herself up as she spoke, became quite composed and firm. He was still more astonished to find that this firmness lasted, and that under all the care and watching which ensued, Mrs. Blaylie was ever ready and collected, performing all the duties which devolved upon her steadily, and, to all external appearance, even cheerfully. But he was young, and did not know what strong minds are capable of under trying circumstances. How should he, indeed, when their possessors so seldom know themselves?

An anxious night ensued, and when morning came, Mrs. Maylie's predictions were but too well verified. Rose was in the first stage of a high and dangerous fever.

"We must be active, Oliver, and not give way to useless grief," said Mrs. Maylie, laying her finger on her lip as she looked steadily into his face; "this letter must be sent with all possible expedition to Mr. Losberne. It must be carried to the market-town, which is not more than four miles off by the footpath across the fields, and thence despatched by an express on