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CHAPTER 7. MORE CONFIDENCES THAN ONE
'I know very little of that gentleman, sir,' said Neville to the Minor Canon as they turned back.
'You know very little of your guardian?' the Minor Canon repeated.
'How came he--'
'To BE my guardian? I'll tell you, sir. I suppose you know that we come (my sister and I) from Ceylon?'
'I wonder at that. We lived with a stepfather there. Our mother died there, when we were little children. We have had a wretched existence. She made him our guardian, and he was a miserly wretch who grudged us food to eat, and clothes to wear. At his death, he passed us over to this man; for no better reason that I know of, than his being a friend or connexion of his, whose name was always in print and catching his attention.'
'That was lately, I suppose?'
'Quite lately, sir. This stepfather of ours was a cruel brute as well as a grinding one. It is well he died when he did, or I might have killed him.'
Mr. Crisparkle stopped short in the moonlight and looked at his hopeful pupil in consternation.
'I surprise you, sir?' he said, with a quick change to a submissive manner.
'You shock me; unspeakably shock me.'
The pupil hung his head for a little while, as they walked on, and then said: 'You never saw him beat your sister. I have seen him beat mine, more than once or twice, and I never forgot it.'
'Nothing,' said Mr. Crisparkle, 'not even a beloved and beautiful sister's tears under dastardly ill-usage;' he became less severe, in spite of himself, as his indignation rose; 'could justify those horrible expressions that you used.'
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