Tipping the Velvet
at all! They are the kindest family
    'When you threw this to me,' I said to her, 'my life changed.
    I ever met; and you are all the world to them. I cannot I think I must have been - asleep - till that moment: asleep, ask'you to give them up . . .'
    or dead. Since I met you, I've been awake - alive! Do you My heart seemed to stop - and then to pound, like a piston.
    think I could give that up, now, so easily?'
    'What do you mean?' I said. She looked away.
    My words startled her - as well they might, for I had never
    'I meant to ask you to come with me. To London.'
    spoken like this before, to her or to anyone. She looked I blinked. 'To go with you? But how?'
    away from me, about the room, and ran her tongue over her
    'As my dresser,' she said, 'if you'd care to. As my -
    lips. 'And all of them, downstairs?' she said, nodding anything, I don't know. I have spoken to Mr Bliss: he says towards the door. 'Your mother and father, your brother, there will not be much money for you at first - but enough, Alice, Freddy?' As she spoke there came a shout, and the if you share my diggings.'
    sound of voices raised in friendly argument.
    'Why?' I said then. She raised her eyes to mine.
    They mean nothing to me, I wanted to say, compared with
    'Because I - like you. Because you are good for me, and you . . . But I only shrugged, and smiled.
    bring me luck. And because London will be strange; and She smiled then, too. 'And so you really will come? We Mr Bliss may not be all that he seems; and I shall have no must leave on Sunday, you know - a week from today. It one ..."
    doesn't give you long.'
    'And you truly thought,' I said slowly, 'that I would say no?'
    I said it would be long enough; and she placed the faded
    'This afternoon - yes. Last night, and this morning, I rose upon the bed, and seized my hands and squeezed them believed - Oh, it was so different in the dressing-room, hard.
    when it was just the two of us! I didn't know then how it
    'Oh Nan! My dear Nan! We'll have such times together, I was for you here. I didn't know then that you had a - a promise you!' As she spoke, she flung my hands aside and chap.'
    gripped me in a fierce embrace, and laughed with pleasure, Her words made me bold. I drew my hand away from hers so that I felt her body shudder in my arms.
    and got to my feet. I walked to the head of the bed, where Then, all too soon, she stepped away, and I had only empty there was a little cabinet, with a drawer in it. I opened it, air to clutch at.
    and took something from it, and showed it to her. 'Do you There was more noise from below, then the sound of a door know this?' I said, and she smiled.
    opening, followed by the thud of feet upon the staircase, 61

    62

    and a cry: 'Nancy!' It was Alice. She paused outside the from a window at dawn, with my clothes in a rag at the end bedroom door, but was too polite - or fearful - to turn the of a stick, and a streaming face, and a note pinned to my handle. 'Everyone is leaving,' she called. 'Mother says will pillow saying Do not try to follow me ... But if I said these Miss Butler just step down for a moment, please, for them things, I would be lying. My parents were reasonable, not to say good-bye.'
    passionate, people. They loved me, and they feared for me; I looked at Kitty. 'You go on,' I said, 'without me, and I the idea of allowing their youngest daughter to travel in the shall come down in a minute. And don't,' I added in a lower care of an actress and a music-hall manager to the voice, 'say anything to them about - our plans. I'll talk to grimmest, wickedest city in England was, they knew, a mad them about it, later on.'
    one, that no sane parent should entertain for longer than a She nodded, and gave my hand another squeeze; then she second. But because they loved me so, they could not bear opened the door and joined Alice on the landing, and I to have me grieve. Anyone with half an eye could see that heard them step below, together.
    my heart lay all with Kitty

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