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Kit Nubbles
by [?]

“How came you to think of him?” said the dwarf. “Yes, it was Kit. Poor Kit!” So saying, he nodded in a friendly manner, and took his leave; stopping when he passed the outer door a little distance, and grinning with extraordinary delight.

“Poor Kit!” muttered Quilp. “I think it was Kit who said I was an uglier dwarf than could be seen anywhere for a penny, wasn’t it? Ha, ha, ha! Poor Kit!”

And with that he went his way, still chuckling as he went.

That evening Kit spent in his own home. The room in which he sat down, was an extremely poor and homely place, but with that air of comfort about it, nevertheless, which cleanliness and order can always impart in some degree. Late as the Dutch clock showed it to be, Kit’s mother was still hard at work at an ironing-table; a young child lay sleeping in a cradle near the fire; and another, a sturdy boy of two or three years old, very wide awake, was sitting bolt upright in a clothes-basket, staring over the rim with his great round eyes. It was rather a queer-looking family; Kit, his mother, and the children, being all strongly alike.

Kit was disposed to be out of temper, but he looked at the youngest child, and from him to his other brother in the clothes-basket, and from him to his mother, who had been at work without complaint since morning, and thought it would be a better and kinder thing to be good-humoured. So he rocked the cradle with his foot, made a face at the rebel in the clothes-basket, which put him in high good-humour directly, and stoutly determined to be talkative, and make himself agreeable.

“Did you tell me just now, that your master hadn’t gone out to-night?” inquired Mrs. Nubbles.

“Yes,” said Kit, “worse luck!”

“You should say better luck, I think,” returned his mother, “because Miss Nelly won’t have been left alone.”

“Ah!” said Kit, “I forgot that. I said worse luck, because I’ve been watching ever since eight o’clock, and seen nothing of her. Hark, what’s that?”

“It’s only somebody outside.”

“It’s somebody crossing over here,” said Kit, standing up to listen, “and coming very fast too. He can’t have gone out after I left, and the house caught fire, mother!”

The boy stood for a moment, really bereft, by the apprehension he had conjured up, of the power to move. The footsteps drew nearer, the door was opened with a hasty hand, and the child herself, pale and breathless, hurried into the room.

“Miss Nelly! What is the matter?” cried mother and son together.

“I must not stay a moment,” she returned, “grandfather has been taken very ill. I found him in a fit upon the floor.”

“I’ll run for a doctor—-” said Kit, seizing his brimless hat. “I’ll be there directly, I’ll—-“

“No, no,” cried Nell, “there is one there, you’re not wanted, you–you–must never come near us any more!”

“What!” roared Kit.

“Never again,” said the child. “Don’t ask me why, for I don’t know. Pray don’t ask me why, pray don’t be sorry, pray don’t be vexed with me! I have nothing to do with it indeed!

“He complains of you and raves of you,” added the child, “I don’t know what you have done, but I hope it’s nothing very bad.”

I done!” roared Kit.

“He cries that you’re the cause of all his misery,” returned the child, with tearful eyes. “He screamed and called for you; they say you must not come near him, or he will die. You must not return to us any more. I came to tell you. I thought it would be better that I should. Oh, Kit, what have you done? You, in whom I trusted so much, and who were almost the only friend I had!”

The unfortunate Kit looked at his young mistress harder and harder, and with eyes growing wider and wider, but was perfectly motionless and still.