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Chapter 40: A STRANGE INTERVIEW, WHICH IS A SEQUEL TO THE LAST CHAMBER (continued)
'Sit down,' said Rose, earnestly. 'If you are in poverty or affliction I shall be truly glad to relieve you if I can,--I shall indeed. Sit down.'
'Let me stand, lady,' said the girl, still weeping, 'and do not speak to me so kindly till you know me better. It is growing late. Is--is--that door shut?'
'Yes,' said Rose, recoiling a few steps, as if to be nearer assistance in case she should require it. 'Why?'
'Because,' said the girl, 'I am about to put my life and the lives of others in your hands. I am the girl that dragged little Oliver back to old Fagin's on the night he went out from the house in Pentonville.'
'You!' said Rose Maylie.
'I, lady!' replied the girl. 'I am the infamous creature you have heard of, that lives among the thieves, and that never from the first moment I can recollect my eyes and senses opening on London streets have known any better life, or kinder words than they have given me, so help me God! Do not mind shrinking openly from me, lady. I am younger than you would think, to look at me, but I am well used to it. The poorest women fall back, as I make my way along the crowded pavement.'
'What dreadful things are these!' said Rose, involuntarily falling from her strange companion.
'Thank Heaven upon your knees, dear lady,' cried the girl, 'that you had friends to care for and keep you in your childhood, and that you were never in the midst of cold and hunger, and riot and drunkenness, and--and--something worse than all--as I have been from my cradle. I may use the word, for the alley and the gutter were mine, as they will be my deathbed.'
'I pity you!' said Rose, in a broken voice. 'It wrings my heart to hear you!'
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