Page:Oliver Twist (1838) vol. 2.djvu/74

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Oliver Twist.

at the door, which was no sooner heard than Mr. Bumble darted with much agility to the wine-bottles, and began dusting them with great violence, while the matron sharply demanded who was there. It is worthy of remark as a curious physical instance of the efficacy of a sudden surprise in counteracting the effects of extreme fear, that her voice had quite recovered all its official asperity.

"If you please mistress," said a withered old female pauper, hideously ugly, putting her head in at the door, "Old Sally is a-going fast."

"Well, what's that to me?" angrily demanded the matron. "I can't keep her alive, can I?"

"No, no, mistress," replied the old woman, "nobody can; she's far beyond the reach of help. I've seen a many people die, little babes and great strong men, and I know when death's a-coming well enough. But she's troubled in her mind; and when the fits are not on her,—and that's not often, for