any thing better than that, cut off altogether. D'ye hear me?"
"I hear you," replied the girl, turning her face aside, and forcing a laugh. "What fancy have you got in your head now?"
"Oh! you've thought better of it, have you?" growled Sikes, marking the tear which trembled in her eye. "All the better for you, you have."
"Why, you don't mean to say you'd be hard upon me to-night, Bill," said the girl, laying her hand upon his shoulder.
"No!" cried Mr. Sikes. "Why not?"
"Such a number of nights," said the girl, with a touch of woman's tenderness, which communicated something like sweetness of tone even to her voice,—"such a number of nights as I've been patient with you, nursing and caring for you, as if you had been a child, and this the first that I've seen you like yourself; you wouldn't have served me as you did just now, if you'd thought of that, would you? Come, come; say you wouldn't."