"Darn me if I couldn't eat em," said the man, with a threatening

shake of his head, "and if I han't half a mind to't!"

I earnestly expressed my hope that he wouldn't, and held tighter to

the tombstone on which he had put me; partly, to keep myself upon

it; partly, to keep myself from crying.

"Now lookee here!" said the man. "Where's your mother?"

"There, sir!" said I.

He started, made a short run, and stopped and looked over his

shoulder.

"There, sir!" I timidly explained. "Also Georgiana. That's my

mother."

"Oh!" said he, coming back. "And is that your father alonger your

mother?"

"Yes, sir," said I; "him too; late of this parish."

"Ha!" he muttered then, considering. "Who d'ye live with -

supposin' you're kindly let to live, which I han't made up my mind

about?"

"My sister, sir - Mrs. Joe Gargery - wife of Joe Gargery, the

blacksmith, sir."

"Blacksmith, eh?" said he. And looked down at his leg.

After darkly looking at his leg and me several times, he came

closer to my tombstone, took me by both arms, and tilted me back as

far as he could hold me; so that his eyes looked most powerfully

down into mine, and mine looked most helplessly up into his.

"Now lookee here," he said, "the question being whether you're to

be let to live. You know what a file is?"

"Yes, sir."

"And you know what wittles is?"

"Yes, sir."

After each question he tilted me over a little more, so as to give

me a greater sense of helplessness and danger.

"You get me a file." He tilted me again. "And you get me wittles."

He tilted me again. "You bring 'em both to me." He tilted me again.

"Or I'll have your heart and liver out." He tilted me again.

I was dreadfully frightened, and so giddy that I clung to him with

both hands, and said, "If you would kindly please to let me keep

upright, sir, perhaps I shouldn't be sick, and perhaps I could

attend more."

He gave me a most tremendous dip and roll, so that the church

jumped over its own weather-cock. Then, he held me by the arms, in

an upright position on the top of the stone, and went on in these

fearful terms:

"You bring me, to-morrow morning early, that file and them wittles.

You bring the lot to me, at that old Battery over yonder. You do

it, and you never dare to say a word or dare to make a sign

concerning your having seen such a person as me, or any person

sumever, and you shall be let to live. You fail, or you go from my

words in any partickler, no matter how small it is, and your heart

and your liver shall be tore out, roasted and ate. Now, I ain't

alone, as you may think I am. There's a young man hid with me, in

comparison with which young man I am a Angel. That young man hears

the words I speak. That young man has a secret way pecooliar to

himself, of getting at a boy, and at his heart, and at his liver.

It is in wain for a boy to attempt to hide himself from that young

man. A boy may lock his door, may be warm in bed, may tuck himself

up, may draw the clothes over his head, may think himself

comfortable and safe, but that young man will softly creep and

creep his way to him and tear him open. I am a-keeping that young

man from harming of you at the present moment, with great

difficulty. I find it wery hard to hold that young man off of your

inside. Now, what do you say?"

I said that I would get him the file, and I would get him what

broken bits of food I could, and I would come to him at the

Battery, early in the morning.

"Say Lord strike you dead if you don't!" said the man.

I said so, and he took me down.

"Now," he pursued, "you remember what you've undertook, and you

remember that young man, and you get home!"

"Goo-good night, sir," I faltered.

"Much of that!" said he, glancing about him over the cold wet flat.

"I wish I was a frog. Or a eel!"

At the same time, he hugged his shuddering body in both his arms -

clasping himself, as if to hold himself together - and limped

towards the low church wall.

Charles Dickens
Classic Literature Library
Classic Authors

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