Charles Dickens: Barnaby Rudge

Chapter 59 (continued)

'I wouldn't like to be HIM, then (as you don't like names), when he breaks it out to her; that's all,' said Dennis. 'She's one of them fine, black-eyed, proud gals, as I wouldn't trust at such times with a knife too near 'em. I've seen some of that sort, afore now. I recollect one that was worked off, many year ago--and there was a gentleman in that case too--that says to me, with her lip a trembling, but her hand as steady as ever I see one: "Dennis, I'm near my end, but if I had a dagger in these fingers, and he was within my reach, I'd strike him dead afore me;"--ah, she did--and she'd have done it too!'

Strike who dead?' demanded Hugh.

'How should I know, brother?' answered Dennis. 'SHE never said; not she.'

Hugh looked, for a moment, as though he would have made some further inquiry into this incoherent recollection; but Simon Tappertit, who had been meditating deeply, gave his thoughts a new direction.

'Hugh!' said Sim. 'You have done well to-day. You shall be rewarded. So have you, Dennis.--There's no young woman YOU want to carry off, is there?'

'N--no,' returned that gentleman, stroking his grizzly beard, which was some two inches long. 'None in partickler, I think.'

'Very good,' said Sim; 'then we'll find some other way of making it up to you. As to you, old boy'--he turned to Hugh--'you shall have Miggs (her that I promised you, you know) within three days. Mind. I pass my word for it.'

Hugh thanked him heartily; and as he did so, his laughing fit returned with such violence that he was obliged to hold his side with one hand, and to lean with the other on the shoulder of his small captain, without whose support he would certainly have rolled upon the ground.

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