Twist, 1838 Chapter 47, Fatal Consequences:
Death of Nancy
Without one pause, or moments consideration;
without turning his head to the right or left, raising his eyes to
the sky, or lowering them to the ground, but looking straight before
him with savage resolution: his teeth so tightly compressed that the
strained jaw seemed starting through his skin; the robber held on
his headlong course, nor muttered a word, nor relaxed a muscle,
until he reached his own door. He opened it, softly, with a key;
strode lightly up the stairs; and entering his own room,
doublelocked the door, and lifting a heavy table against, drew back
the curtain of the bed.
The girl was lying, half-dressed, upon it. He had
roused her from her sleep for she raised herself with a hurried and
"Get up!" said the man.
"It is you, Bill!" said the girl, with an expression
of pleasure at his return.
"It is," was the reply. "Get up."
There was a candle burning, but the man hastily drew
it from the candlestick, and hurled it under the grate. Seeing the
faint light of early day without, the girl rose to undraw the
"Lit it be," said Sikes, thrusting his hand before
her. "Theres light enough for wot Ive got to do."
"Bill," said the girl, in the low voice of alarm,
"why do you look like that at me!"
The robber sat regarding her, for a few seconds,
with dilated nostrils and heaving breast; and then, grasping her by
the head and throat, dragged her into the middle of the room, and
looking once towards the door, placed his heavy hand upon her mouth.
"Bill, Bill! Gasped the girl, wrestling with the
strength of mortal fear, "I I wont scream or cry not once
hear me speak to me tell me what I have done!"
"You know, you she devil!" Returned the robber,
suppressing his breath. "You were watched tonight; every word you
said was heard."
"Then spare my life for the love of Heaven, as I
spared yours," rejoined the girl, clinging to him. "Bill, dear Bill,
you cannot have the heart to kill me. Oh! Think of all I have given
up, only this one night, for you. You shall have time to think, and
save yourself this crime; I will not loose my hold, you cannot throw
me off. Bill, Bill, for dear Gods sake, for your own, for mine,
stop before you spill my blood! I have been true to you, upon my
guilty soul I have!
The man struggled violently, to release his arms;
but those of the girl were clasp round his, and tear her as he
would, he could not tear them away.
"Bill," cried the girl, striving to lay her head
upon his breast, "the gentleman and that dear lady, told me tonight
of a home in some foreign country where I could end my days in
solitude and peace. Let me see them again, and beg them, on my
knees, to show the same mercy and goodness to you; and let us leave
this dreadful place, and far apart lead better lives, and forget how
we have lived, except in prayers, and never see each other more. It
is never too late to repent. They told me so I feel it now but
we must have time a little, little time!"
The housebreaker freed one arm, and grasped his
pistol. The certainly of immediate detection if he fired, flashed
across his mind even in the midst of his fury; and he beat it with
all the force he could summon, upon the upturned face that almost
touched his own.
She staggered and fell: nearly blinded with blood
that rained down from a deep gash in her forehead; but raising
herself with difficulty, on her knees, drew from her bosom a white
handkerchief Rose Maylies own and holding it up, folded her
hands, as high towards Heaven as her feeble strength would allow,
breathed one prayer for mercy to her Maker.
It was a ghastly figure to look upon. The murderer
staggering backward to the wall, and shutting out of sight with his
hand, seized a heavy club and struck her down.
Chapter 48 Begins:
Of all bad deeds that, under cover of the darkness,
have been committed within wide Londons bounds since night hung
over it, that was the worst. Of all the horrors that rose with an
ill scent upon the morning air, that was the foulest and most cruel.
The sun the bright son, that brings back, not
light alone, but new life, and hope, and freshness to man burst
upon the crowded city in clear and radiant glory. Through costly-coloured
glass and paper-mended window, through cathedral dome and rotten
crevice, it shed its equal rays. It lighted up the room where the
murdered woman lay. It did. He tried to shut it out, but it would
stream in. If the sight had been a ghastly one in the dull morning,
what was it, now in all that brilliant light!
He had not moved; he had been afraid to stir. There
had been a moan and motion of the hand; and, with terror added to
rage, he had struck and struck again.
Once he threw a rug over it; but it was worse to
fancy the eyes, and imagine them moving towards him, than to see
them glaring upward, as if watching the reflection of the pool of
gore that quivered and danced in the sunlight on the ceiling. He had
plucked it off again. And there was the body mere flesh and blood,
no more but such flesh, and so much blood!
He struck a light, kindled a fire, and thrust the
club into it. There was hair upon the end, which blazed and shrunk
into a light cinder, and, caught by the air, whirled up the chimney.
Even that frightened him, sturdy as he was; but he held the weapon
till it broke, and then piled it on the coals to burn away, and
smoulder into ashes. He washed himself, and rubbed his clothes;
there were spots that would not be removed, but he cut the pieces
out, and burnt them. How those stains were dispersed about the room!
The very feet of the dog were bloody.
All this time he had, never once, turned his back
upon the corpse; no, not for a moment. Such preparations completed,
he moved, backward, towards the door: dragging the dog with him,
lest he should soil his feet anew and carry out new evidence of the
crime into the streets. He shut the door softly, locked it, took the
key, and left the house.
He crossed over, and glanced up at the window, to be
sure that nothing was visible from the outside. There was the
curtain still drawn, which she would have opened to admit the light
she never saw again. It lay nearly under there. He knew that. God,
how the sun poured down upon the very spot!
The glance was instantaneous. It was a relief to
have got free of the room. He whistled on the dog, and walked
Curiosity Shop, 1841
Death of Little Nell, Chapter 71
Where is she?" demanded Kit. "Oh tell me that,
but that, dear master!"
"She is asleep yonder in there."
"Aye! Thank God!" returned the old man. "I have
prayed to Him, many, and many, and many a live long night, when she
has been asleep, He knows. Hark! Did she call?"
"I heard no voice."
"You did. You hear her now. Do you tell me that you
dont hear THAT?"
He started up, and listened again.
"Nor that?" he cried, with a triumphant smile, "Can
anybody know that voice so well as I? Hush! Hush!" Motioning to him
to be silent, he stole away into another chamber. After a short
absence (during which he could be heard to speak in a softening
soothing tone) he returned, bearing in his hand a lamp.
"She is still asleep," he whispered. "You were
right. She did not call unless she did so in her slumber. She has
called to me in her sleep before now, sir; as I have sat by
watching. I have seen her lips move, and have known, though no sound
came from them, that she spoke of me. I feared the light might
dazzle her eyes and wake her, so I brought it here.
He spoke rather to himself that to the visitor, but
when he had put the lamp upon the table, he took it up, as if
impelled by some momentary recollection or curiosity, and held it
near his face. Then, as if forgetting his motive in the very action.
He turned away and put it down again. "She is
sleeping soundly," he said; "but no wonder. Angel hands have strewn
the ground deep with snow, that the lightest footstep may be lighter
yet; and the very birds are dead, that they may not wake her. She
used to feed them, Sir. Though never so cold and hungry, the timid
things would fly from us. They never flew from her!"
Again he stopped to listen, and scarcely drawing
breath, listened for a long, long time. That fancy past, he opened
an old chest, took out some clothes as fondly as if they had been
living things, and began to smooth and brush them with his hand.
"Why dost thou lie so idle there, dear Nell," he
murmured, "when there are bright red berries out of doors waiting
for thee to pluck them! Why dost thou lie so idle there, when thy
little friends come creeping to the door, crying, where is Nell
sweet Nell? and sob, and weep, because they do not see thee. She
was always gentle with children. The wildest would do her bidding
she had a tender way with them, indeed she had."
Kit had no power to speak. His eyes were filled with
"Here little homely dress, her favourite!" cried
the old man, pressing it to his breast, and patting it with his
shriveled hand. "She will miss it when she wakes. They have hid it
here in sport, but she shall have it she shall have it. I would
not vex my darling, for the wide worlds riches. See here these
shoes how worn they are she kept them to remind her of our last
long journey. You see where the little feet went bare upon the
ground. They told me, afterwards, that the stone had cut and bruised
them. She never told me that. No, no, God bless her! And, I have
remembered since, she walked behind me, sir, that I might not see
how lame she was but yet had my hand in hers, and seemed to lead
me still." He pressed them to his lips, and having carefully put
them back again, went on communing with himself looking wistfully
from time to time towards the chamber he had lately visited.
"She was not wont to be a lie-abed: but she was well
then. We must have patience. When she is well again, she will rise
early, as she used to do, and ramble abroad in the healthy morning
time. I often tried to track the way she had gone, but her small
footsteps left no print upon the dewy ground, to guide me. Who is
that? Shut the door. Quick! Have we not enough to do to drive away
that marble cold, and keep her warm!"
Friends enter and talk:
They watched him as he rose and stole on tiptoe to
the other chamber where the lamp had been replaced. They listened as
he spoke again within the silent walls. They looked into the faces
of each other, and no mans cheek was free from tears. He came back,
whispering that she was still asleep, but that he thought she had
moved. It was her hand, he said a little a very, very little
but he was pretty sure she had moved it perhaps in seeking his. He
had known her do that, before now, though in the deepest sleep the
while. And when he had said this, he dropped into his chair again,
and clasping his hands above his head, uttered a cry never to be
The poor schoolmaster motioned to the bachelor that
he would come on the other side, and speak to him. They gently
unlocked his fingers, which he had twisted in his grey hair, and
pressed them in their own.
Friends console and
By little and little, the old man had drawn back
towards the inner chamber, while these words were spoken. He pointed
there, as he replied, with trembling lips.
"You plot among you to wean my heart from her. You
never will do that never while I have life. I have no relative or
friend but her I never had I never will have. She is all in all
to me. It is too late to part us now."
Waving them off with his hand, and calling softly to
her as he went, he stole into the room. They who were left behind,
drew close together, and after a few whispered words not unbroken
by emotion, or easily uttered followed him.
They moved so gently, that their footsteps made no
noise; but there were sobs from among the group, and sounds of grief
For she was dead. There, upon her little bed, she
lay at rest. The solemn stillness was no marvel now.
She was dead. No sleep so beautiful and calm, so
free from trace of pain, so fair to look upon She seemed a creature
from the hand of God, and waiting for the breath of life; not one
who had lived and suffered death.
Her couch was dressed with here and there some
winter berries and green leaves, gathered in a spot she had been
used to favour. "When I die, put near me something that has loved
the light, and had the sky above it always." Those were her last
She was dead. Dear, gentle, patient, noble Nell was
dead. Her little bird a poor slight thing the pressure of a finger
would have crushed was stirring nimbly in its cage; and the strong
heart of its child mistress was mute and motionless forever.
Where were the traces of her early cares, her
suffering, and fatigues? All gone. Sorrow was dead indeed in her,
but peace and perfect happiness were born; imaged in her tranquil
beauty and profound repose.
And still her former self lay there, unaltered in
this change. Yes. The old fireside had smiled upon that same sweet
face; it had passed, like a dream, through haunts of misery and
care; at the door of the poor schoolmaster on the summer evening,
before the furnace fire upon the cold wet night, at the still
bedside of the dying boy, there had been the same mild lovely look.
So shall we know angels in their majesty, after death.
The old man held one languid arm in his, and had the
small hand tight folded to his breast, for warmth. It was the hand
she had stretched out to him with her last smile the hand that had
led him on, through all their wanderings. Ever and anon he pressed
it to his lips; then hugged it to his breast again, murmuring that
it was warmer now; and, as he said it, he looked, in agony, to those
who stood around, as if imploring them to help her.
She was dead, and past all help, or need of it. The
ancient rooms she had seemed to fill with life, even while her own
was waning fast the garden she had tended the eyes she had
the noiseless haunts of many a thoughtful hour the
paths she had trodden as it were but yesterday could know her
"It is not," said the schoolmaster, as he bent down to kiss her
on the cheek, and gave his tears free vent, "it is not on earth that
Heavens justice ends. Think what earth is, compared with the World
to which her young spirit has winged its early flight; and say, if
one deliberate wish expressed in solemn terms above this bed could
call her back to life, which of us would utter it!"