Page:Oliver Twist (1838) vol. 2.djvu/253

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235
Oliver Twist.

seeing the patient, he had taken Mrs. Maylie aside, and pronounced her disorder to be one of a most alarming nature. "In fact," he said, "it would be little short of a miracle if she recovered."

How often did Oliver start from his bed that night, and, stealing out with noiseless footstep to the staircase, listen for the slightest sound from the sick chamber! How often did a tremble shake his frame, and cold drops of terror start upon his brow, when a sudden trampling of feet caused him to fear that something too dreadful to think of had even then occurred. And what had been the fervency of all the prayers he had ever uttered, compared with those he poured forth now, in the agony and passion of his supplication, for the life and health of the gentle creature who was tottering on the deep grave's verge!

The suspense, the fearful acute suspense, of standing idly by while the life of one we dearly love is trembling in the balance—the racking thoughts that crowd upon the mind, and make the heart beat violently, and the breath come