Page:Oliver Twist (1838) vol. 2.djvu/86

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74
Oliver Twist.

matron, with a gesture as if she would call for help.

"It!" replied the woman, laying her hand over the other's mouth—"the only thing she had. She wanted clothes to keep her warm, and food to eat; but she had kept it safe, and had it in her bosom. It was gold, I tell you!—rich gold, that might have saved her live!"

"Gold!" echoed the matron, bending eagerly over the woman as she fell back. "Go on, go on—yes—what of it? Who was the mother?—when was it?"

"She charged me to keep it safe," replied the woman, with a groan, "and trusted me as the only woman about her. I stole it in my heart when she first showed it me hanging round her neck; and the child's death, perhaps, is on me besides! They would have treated him better if they had known it all!"

"Known what?" asked the other. "Speak!"

"The boy grew so like his mother," said the woman, rambling on and not heeding the question, "that I could never forget it when I saw