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‘What does he say, what does he say? What does the giant say to
the pigmy?’ inquired Arthur Gride, hobbling up to Ralph.
‘What does the pigmy say to the giant?’ rejoined Ralph,
elevating his eyebrows and looking down upon his questioner.
‘He doesn’t know what to say,’ replied Arthur Gride. ‘He hopes
and fears. But is she not a dainty morsel?’
‘I have no great taste for beauty,’ growled Ralph.
‘But I have,’ rejoined Arthur, rubbing his hands. ‘Oh dear! How
handsome her eyes looked when she was stooping over him! Such
long lashes, such delicate fringe! She--she--looked at me so soft.’
‘Not over-lovingly, I think,’ said Ralph. ‘Did she?’
‘No, you think not?’ replied old Arthur. ‘But don’t you think it
can be brought about? Don’t you think it can?’
Ralph looked at him with a contemptuous frown, and replied
with a sneer, and between his teeth:
‘Did you mark his telling her she was tired and did too much,
and overtasked her strength?’
‘Ay, ay. What of it?’
‘When do you think he ever told her that before? The life is
more than she can bear. Yes, yes. He’ll change it for her.’
‘D’ye think it’s done?’ inquired old Arthur, peering into his
companion’s face with half-closed eyes.
‘I am sure it’s done,’ said Ralph. ‘He is trying to deceive himself,
even before our eyes, already. He is making believe that he thinks
of her good and not his own. He is acting a virtuous part, and so
considerate and affectionate, sir, that the daughter scarcely knew
him. I saw a tear of surprise in her eye. There’ll be a few more
tears of surprise there before long, though of a different kind. Oh!
we may wait with confidence for this day week.’