"It's done in a minute," said Sikes in the same low whisper. "Directly I leave go of you, do your work. Hark!"
"What's that?" whispered the other man.
They listened intently.
"Nothing," said Sikes, releasing his hold of Oliver. "Now!"
In the short time he had had to collect his senses, the boy had firmly resolved that, whether he died in the attempt or not, he would make one effort to dart up stairs from the hall and alarm the family. Filled with this idea, he advanced at once, but stealthily.
"Come back!" suddenly cried Sikes aloud. "Back! back!"
Scared by the sudden breaking of the dead stillnes of the place, and a loud cry which followed it, Oliver let his lantern fall, and knew not whether to advance or fly.
The cry was repeated—a light appeared—a vision of two terrified half-dressed men at the top of the stairs swam before his eyes—a flash—a loud noise— a smoke—a crash somewhere, but where he knew not,—and he staggered back.