BLTC Press Titles

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The Count of Monte Cristo

Alexandre Dumas

Esoteric Buddhism

A. P. Sinnett

Some Experiences of an Irish R. M.

Edith Somerville and Martin Ross

Alice's Adventures in Wonderland

Lewis Carroll

Oliver Twist

by Charles Dickens


"About the mother of the boy you named," replied the matron interrupting him. "Yes."

"The first question is, of what nature was her communication?" said Monks.

"That's the second," observed the woman with much deliberation. "The first is, what may the communication be worth?"

"Who the devil can tell that, without knowing of what kind it is?" asked Monks.

"Nobody better than you, I am persuaded," answered Mrs. Bumble, who did not want for spirit, as her yokefellow could abundantly testify.

"Humph!" said Monks significantly, and with a look of eager inquiry, "there may be money's worth to get, eh?"

"Perhaps there may," was the composed reply.

"Something that was taken from her," said Monks eagerly; "something that she wore— something that—"

"You had better bid," interrupted Mrs. Bumble. "I have heard enough already to assure me that you are the man I ought to talk to."

Mr. Bumble, who had not yet been admitted by his better half into any greater share of the secret than he had originally possessed, listened to this dialogue with outstretched neck and distended eyes, which he directed towards his wife and Monks by turns in undisguised astonishment; increased, if possible, when the latter sternly demanded what sum was required for the disclosure.

"What's it worth to you?" asked the woman, as collectedly as before.

"It may be nothing; it may be twenty pounds," replied Monks; "speak out, and let me know which."

"Add five pounds to the sum you have named; give me five-and-twenty pounds in gold," said the woman, "and I'll tell you all I know—not before."

"Five - and - twenty pounds!" exclaimed Monks, drawing back.

"I spoke as plainly as I could," replied Mrs. Bumble, "and it's not a large sum either."

"Not a large sum for a paltry secret, that may be nothing when if s told 1" cried Monks impatiently, "and which has been lying dead for twelve years past, or more!"

"Such matters keep well, and, like good wine, often double their value in course of time," answered the matron, still preserving the resolute indifference she had assumed. "As to lying dead, there are those who will lie dead for twelve thousand years to come, or twelve million, for any thing you or I know, who will tell strange tales at last!"

"What if I pay it for nothing?" asked Monks, hesitating.

"You can easily take it away again/' replied the matron. "I am but a woman, alone here, and unprotected."

"Not alone, my dear, nor unprotected neither," submitted Mr. Bumble, in a voice tremulous with fear; "I am here, my dear. And besides," said Mr. Bumble, his teeth chattering as he spoke, " Mr. Monks is too much of a gentleman to attempt any violence on parochial persons. Mr. Monks is aware that I am not a young man, my dear, and also that I am a little run to seed, as I may say; but he has heerd— I say I have no doubt Mr. Monks has heerd, my dear—that I am a very determined officer, with very uncommon strength, if I'm once roused. I only want a little rousing, that's all."

As Mr. Bumble spoke, he made a melancholy feint of grasping his lantern with fierce determination, and plainly showed, by the alarmed expression of every feature, that he did want a little rousing, and not a little, prior to making any very warlike demonstration, unless, indeed, against paupers, or other person or persons trained down for the purpose.

"You are a fool," said Mrs. Bumble, in reply, "and had better hold your tongue."

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