Page:Oliver Twist (1838) vol. 2.djvu/265

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Oliver Twist.

word now—if this illness had terminated differently, how could you ever have forgiven yourself, or I been happy again?"

"If that had been the case, Harry," said Mrs. Maylie, "I fear your happiness would have been effectually blighted, and that your arrival here a day sooner or later would have been of very, very little import."

"And who can wonder if it be so, mother?" rejoined the young man; "or why should I say if?—It is—it is—you know it, mother—you must know it."

"I know that she well deserves the best and purest love that the heart of man can offer," said Mrs. Maylie; "I know that the devotion and affection of her nature require no ordinary return, but one that shall be deep and lasting. If I did not feel this, and know, besides, that a changed behaviour in one she loved would break her heart, I should not feel my task so difficult of performance, or have to encounter so many struggles in my own bosom, when I take what seems to me to be the strict line of duty."