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|Book The Third - Garnering||Charles Dickens|
Chapter IV - Lost
|Page 5 of 6||
Tom came out of his corner when Mr. Bounderby moved, moved with him, kept close to him, and went away with him. The only parting salutation of which he delivered himself was a sulky 'Good night, father!' With a brief speech, and a scowl at his sister, he left the house.
Since his sheet-anchor had come home, Mr. Gradgrind had been sparing of speech. He still sat silent, when Louisa mildly said:
'Rachael, you will not distrust me one day, when you know me better.'
'It goes against me,' Rachael answered, in a gentler manner, 'to mistrust any one; but when I am so mistrusted - when we all are - I cannot keep such things quite out of my mind. I ask your pardon for having done you an injury. I don't think what I said now. Yet I might come to think it again, wi' the poor lad so wronged.'
'Did you tell him in your letter,' inquired Sissy, 'that suspicion seemed to have fallen upon him, because he had been seen about the Bank at night? He would then know what he would have to explain on coming back, and would be ready.'
'Yes, dear,' she returned; 'but I can't guess what can have ever taken him there. He never used to go there. It was never in his way. His way was the same as mine, and not near it.'
Sissy had already been at her side asking her where she lived, and whether she might come to-morrow night, to inquire if there were news of him.
'I doubt,' said Rachael, 'if he can be here till next day.'
'Then I will come next night too,' said Sissy.
When Rachael, assenting to this, was gone, Mr. Gradgrind lifted up his head, and said to his daughter:
'Louisa, my dear, I have never, that I know of, seen this man. Do you believe him to be implicated?'
'I think I have believed it, father, though with great difficulty. I do not believe it now.'
'That is to say, you once persuaded yourself to believe it, from knowing him to be suspected. His appearance and manner; are they so honest?'
'And her confidence not to be shaken! I ask myself,' said Mr. Gradgrind, musing, 'does the real culprit know of these accusations? Where is he? Who is he?'
His hair had latterly began to change its colour. As he leaned upon his hand again, looking gray and old, Louisa, with a face of fear and pity, hurriedly went over to him, and sat close at his side. Her eyes by accident met Sissy's at the moment. Sissy flushed and started, and Louisa put her finger on her lip.
Next night, when Sissy returned home and told Louisa that Stephen was not come, she told it in a whisper. Next night again, when she came home with the same account, and added that he had not been heard of, she spoke in the same low frightened tone. From the moment of that interchange of looks, they never uttered his name, or any reference to him, aloud; nor ever pursued the subject of the robbery, when Mr. Gradgrind spoke of it.
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