Page:Oliver Twist (1838) vol. 3.djvu/73

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better life, or kinder words than they have given me, so help me God! Do not mind shrinking openly from me, lady. I am younger than you would think, to look at me, but I am well used to it; the poorest women fall back as I make my way along the crowded pavement."

"What dreadful things are these!" said Rose, involuntarily falling from her strange companion.

"Thank Heaven upon your knees, dear lady," cried the girl, "that you had friends to care for and keep you in your childhood, and that you were never in the midst of cold and hunger, and riot and drunkenness, and—and something worse than all—as I have been from my cradle; I may use the word, for the alley and the gutter were mine, as they will be my deathbed."

"I pity you!" said Rose in a broken voice. "It wrings my heart to hear you!"

"God bless you for your goodness!" rejoined the girl. "If you knew what I am sometimes you would pity me, indeed. But I have