Oliver Twist HTML version

Chapter 29
In a handsome room: though its furniture had rather the air of old-fashioned comfort, than
of modern elegance: there sat two ladies at a well-spread breakfast-table. Mr. Giles,
dressed with scrupulous care in a full suit of black, was in attendance upon them. He had
taken his station some half-way between the side-board and the breakfast-table; and, with
his body drawn up to its full height, his head thrown back, and inclined the merest trifle
on one side, his left leg advanced, and his right hand thrust into his waist-coat, while his
left hung down by his side, grasping a waiter, looked like one who laboured under a very
agreeable sense of his own merits and importance.
Of the two ladies, one was well advanced in years; but the high-backed oaken chair in
which she sat, was not more upright than she. Dressed with the utmost nicety and
precision, in a quaint mixture of by-gone costume, with some slight concessions to the
prevailing taste, which rather served to point the old style pleasantly than to impair its
effect, she sat, in a stately manner, with her hands folded on the table before her. Her
eyes (and age had dimmed but little of their brightness) were attentively upon her young
The younger lady was in the lovely bloom and spring-time of womanhood; at that age,
when, if ever angels be for God's good purposes enthroned in mortal forms, they may be,
without impiety, supposed to abide in such as hers.
She was not past seventeen. Cast in so slight and exquisite a mould; so mild and gentle;
so pure and beautiful; that earth seemed not her element, nor its rough creatures her fit
companions. The very intelligence that shone in her deep blue eye, and was stamped
upon her noble head, seemed scarcely of her age, or of the world; and yet the changing
expression of sweetness and good humour, the thousand lights that played about the face,
and left no shadow there; above all, the smile, the cheerful, happy smile, were made for
Home, and fireside peace and happiness.
She was busily engaged in the little offices of the table. Chancing to raise her eyes as the
elder lady was regarding her, she playfully put back her hair, which was simply braided
on her forehead; and threw into her beaming look, such an expression of affection and
artless loveliness, that blessed spirits might have smiled to look upon her.
'And Brittles has been gone upwards of an hour, has he?' asked the old lady, after a pause.
'An hour and twelve minutes, ma'am,' replied Mr. Giles, referring to a silver watch, which
he drew forth by a black ribbon.
'He is always slow,' remarked the old lady.