Page:Oliver Twist (1838) vol. 2.djvu/276

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Oliver Twist.

save now and then for a short distance with Mrs. Maylie. He applied himself with redoubled assiduity to the instructions of the whiteheaded old gentleman, and laboured so hard that his quick progress surprised even himself. It was while he was engaged in this pursuit that he was greatly startled and distressed by a most unexpected occurrence.

The little room in which he was accustomed to sit when busy at his books was on the ground-floor, at the back of the house. It was quite a cottage-room, with a lattice-window, around which were clusters of jessamine and honeysuckle, that crept over the casement, and filled the place with their delicious perfume. It looked into a garden, whence a wicket-gate opened into a small paddock; all beyond was fine meadow-land and wood. There was no other dwelling near, in that direction, and the prospect it commanded was very extensive.

One beautiful evening, when the first shades of twilight were beginning to settle upon the earth, Oliver sat at this window intent upon his books. He had been poring over them for