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BEFORE the ring formed round the Old
Hell Shaft was broken, one figure had
disappeared from within it. Mr. Bounderby and his
shadow had not stood near Louisa, who held
her father's arm, but in a retired place by
themselves. When Mr. Gradgrind was
summoned to the couch, Sissy, attentive to all
that happened, slipped behind that wicked
shadowa sight in the horror of his face,
if there had been eyes there for any sight but
oneand whispered in his ear. Without
turning his head, he conferred with her
a few moments, and vanished. Thus the
whelp had gone out of the circle before the
people moved.

When the father reached home, he sent a
message to Mr. Bounderby's, desiring his son
to come to him directly. The reply was, that
Mr. Bounderby having missed him in the
crowd, and seen nothing of him since, had
supposed him to be at Stone Lodge.

"I believe, father," said Louisa, "he will
not come back to town tonight." Mr.
Gradgrind turned away, and said no more.

In the morning, he went down to the Bank
himself as soon as it was opened, and seeing
his son's place empty (he had not the courage
to look in at first), went back along the street
to meet Mr. Bounderby on his way there. To
whom he said that, for reasons he would soon
explain, but entreated not then to be asked
for, he had found it necessary to employ his
son at a distance for a little while. Also, that
he was charged with the duty of vindicating
Stephen Blackpool's memory, and declaring
the thief. Mr. Bounderby, quite confounded,
stood stock still in the street after his father-
in-law had left him, swelling like an immense
soap-bubble, without its beauty.

Mr. Gradgrind went home, locked himself
in his room, and kept it all that day. When
Sissy and Louisa tapped at his door, he said,
without opening it, "Not now, my dears; in
the evening." On their return in the evening,
he said, "I am not able yettomorrow." He
ate nothing all day, and had no candle after
dark; and they heard him walking to and fro
late at night.

But, in the morning he appeared at breakfast
at the usual hour, and took his usual place at
the table. Aged and bent, he looked, and
quite bowed down; and yet he looked a
wiser man, and a better man, than in the days
when in this life he wanted nothing but
Facts. Before he left the room, he appointed
a time for them to come to him; and so, with
his gray head drooping, went away.

"Dear father," said Louisa, when they kept
their appointment, "you have three young
children left. They will be different, I will
be different yet, with Heaven's help."

She gave her hand to Sissy, as if she meant
with her help too.

"Your wretched brother," said Mr.
Gradgrind.  "Do you think he had planned this
robbery, when he went with you to the

"I fear so, father. I know he had wanted
money very much, and had spent a great

"The poor man being about to leave the
town, it came into his evil brain to cast
suspicion on him?"

"I think it must have flashed upon him
while he sat there, father. For, I asked him to
go there with me. The visit did not originate
with him."

"He had some conversation with the poor
man. Did he take him aside?"

"He took him out of the room. I asked
him afterwards, why he had done so, and he
made a plausible excuse; but, since last night,
father, and when I remember the
circumstances by its light, I am afraid I can
imagine too truly what passed between them."

"Let me know," said her father, "if your
thoughts present your guilty brother in the
same dark view as mine."

"I fear, father," hesitated Louisa, "that
he must have made some representation
to Stephen Blackpoolperhaps in my name,
perhaps in his ownwhich induced him to do
in good faith and honesty, what he had never
done before, and to wait about the Bank those
two or three nights before he left the town."

"Too plain!" returned the father. "Too

He shaded his face, and remained silent
for some moments. Recovering himself, he

"And now, how is he to be found? How is he