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"True," was Sissy's reluctant admission.

"He'd walk the journey in two days. If
he was footsore and couldn't walk, I sent him,
in the letter he got, the money to ride, lest
he should have none of his own to spare."

"Let us hope that to-morrow will bring
something better, Rachael. Come into the
air!"

Her gentle hand adjusted Rachael's shawl
upon her shining black hair in the usual
manner of her wearing it, and they went out.
The night being fine, little knots of Hands
were here and there lingering at street
corners; but it was supper-time with the greater
part of them, and there were but few people
in the streets.

"You are not so hurried now, Rachael, and
your hand is cooler."

"I get better dear, if I can only walk, and
breathe a little fresh. 'Times when I can't, I
turn weak and confused."

"But you must not begin to fail, Rachael,
for you may be wanted at any time to stand
by Stephen. To-morrow is Saturday. If no
news comes to-morrow, let us walk in the
country on Sunday morning, and strengthen
you for another week. Will you go?" .

"Yes, dear."

They were by this time in the street where
Mr. Bounderby's house stood. The way to
Sissy's destination led them past the door,
and they were going straight towards it.
Some train had newly arrived in Coketown,
which had put a number of vehicles in
motion, and scattered a considerable bustle
about the town. Several coaches were
rattling before them and behind them as they
approached Mr. Bounderby's, and one of the
latter drew up with such briskness as they
were in the act of passing the house, that
they looked round involuntarily. The bright
gaslight over Mr. Bounderby's steps showed
them Mrs. Sparsit in the coach, in an ecstasy
of excitement, struggling to open the door;
Mrs. Sparsit seeing them at the same moment,
called to them to stop.

"It's a coincidence," exclaimed Mrs. Sparsit,
as she was released by the coachman.
"It's a Providence! Come out, ma'am!"
then said Mrs. Sparsit, to some one inside,
"come out, or we'll have you dragged out!"

Hereupon, no other than the mysterious
old woman descended. Whom Mrs. Sparsit
incontinently collared.

"Leave her alone, everybody! " cried Mrs.
Sparsit, with great energy. " Let nobody
touch her. She belongs to me. Corne in,
ma'am! " then said Mrs. Sparsit, reversing
her former word of command. " Come in,
ma'am, or we'll have you dragged in!"

The spectacle of a matron of classical
deportment, seizing an ancient woman by
the throat, and haling her into a dwelling-house,
would have been, under any
circumstances, sufficient temptation to all true
English stragglers so blest as to witness
it, to force a way into that dwelling-house
and see the matter out. But when the
phenomenon was enhanced by the notoriety and
mystery by this time associated all over the
town, with the Bank robbery, it would have
lured the stragglers in, with an irresistible
attraction, though the roof had been expected
to fall upon their heads. Accordingly, the
chance witnesses on the ground, consisting of
the busiest of the neighbours to the number
of some five-and-twenty, closed in after Sissy
and Rachael, as they closed in after Mrs.
Sparsit and her prize; and the whole body
made a disorderly irruption into Mr. Bounderby's
dining room, where the people behind
lost not a moment's time in mounting on the
chairs, to get the better of the people in front.

"Fetch Mr. Bounderby down! " cried Mrs.
Sparsit. " Rachael, young woman; you know
who this is?"

"It's Mrs. Pegler," said Rachael.

"I should think it is! " cried Mrs. Sparsit,
exulting. "Fetch Mr. Bounderby. Stand
away, everybody! " Here old Mrs. Pegler,
muffling herself up, and shrinking from
observation, whispered a word of entreaty. "Don't
tell me," said Mrs. Sparsit, aloud, "I have
told you twenty times, coming along, that I
will not leave you till I have handed you over
to him myself."

Mr. Bounderby now appeared, accompanied
by Mr. Gradgrind and the whelp, with whom
he had been holding conference upstairs.
Mr. Bounderby looked more astonished than
hospitable, at sight of this uninvited party
in his dining-room.

"Why, what's the matter now! " said he.
"Mrs. Sparsit, ma'am ?"

"Sir," explained that worthy woman, " I
trust it is my good fortune to produce a
person you have much desired to find.
Stimulated by my wish to relieve your mind,
sir, and connecting together such imperfect
clues to the part of the country in which that
person might be supposed to reside, as have
been afforded by the young woman Rachael,
fortunately now present to identify, I have
had the happiness to succeed, and to bring
that person with meI need not say most
unwillingly on her part. It has not been, sir,
without some trouble that I have effected
this; but trouble in your service is to me a
pleasure, and hunger, thirst, and cold, a real
gratification.'

Here Mrs. Sparsit ceased; for Mr. Bounderby's
visage exhibited an extraordinary combination
of all possible colors and expressions
of discomfiture, as old Mrs. Pegler was
disclosed to his view.

"Why, what do you mean by this!" was
his highly unexpected demand, in great wrath.
" I ask you, what do you mean by this, Mrs.
Sparsit, ma'am?"

"Sir!" exclaimed Mrs. Sparsit, faintly.

"Why don't you mind your own business,
ma'am? " roared Bounderby. " How dare
you go and poke your officious nose into my
family affairs?"

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