Page:Oliver Twist (1838) vol. 2.djvu/182

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Oliver Twist.

The youngest and fairest are too often its chosen victims."

"But, can you—oh, sir ! can you, really believe that this delicate boy has been the voluntary associate of the worst outcasts of society?" said Rose anxiously.

The surgeon shook his head in a manner which intimated that he feared it was very possible; and observing that they might disturb the patient, led the way into an adjoining apartment.

"But even if he has been wicked," pursued Rose, "think how young he is; think that he may never have known a mother's love, or even the comfort of a home, and that ill—usage and blows, or the want of bread, may have driven him to herd with the men who have forced him to guilt. Aunt, dear aunt, for mercy's sake think of this before you let them drag this sick child to a prison, which in any case must be the grave of all his chances of amendment. Oh I as you love me, and know that I have never felt the want of parents in your goodness and affec-