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Digitized by the Internet Archive 
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https://archive.org/details/adventuresofoliv00dick_1 


GADSHILL EDITION. 


The Works of Charles Dickens 

In Thirty-four Volumes. 

With Introdu^^^^tons, General Essay, and Notes 
BT Andrew Lang. 

VOL. III. 


OLIVER TWIST. 


I 


I 


Printed from the Edition that tvas carefully corrected by the Author 

in 1867 and 1868 . 









The Adventures 

OP 

OLIVER TWIST 

By CHARLES DICKENS 


WITH INTRODUCTION AND NOTES 

BY 

ANDREW LANG 


In One Volume 

WITH THE ORIGINAL ILLUSTRATIONS 


LONDON: CHAPMAN & HALL, Ln. 
NEW YORK : CHARLES SCRIBNER’S SONS 

) 



INTKODUCTION. 


/ 


Sir Walter Besant, a novelist of undoubted experience, has 
remarked : It would be to me, and I believe to everybody, 
utterly impossible to write two novels at the same time 
{The City Refuge^ vol. i. p. vi. : 1896). Hard as the feat 
seems, it was certainly achieved by Scott, by Lever, and, 
in Oliver Twisty by Dickens. The history of Oliver Twist 
is, indeed, curious in itself, and a perpetual warning to suc- 
cessful young authors. 

Mr. Forster writes : 

^‘It was not until the fourth or fifth number of Tickwick 
(in the latter Sam Weller made his first appearance) that 
its importance began to be understood by ‘the trade,’ and, 
on the eve of the issue of its sixth number, the 22nd August, 
1836, Dickens had signed an agreement with Mr. Bentley to 
undertake the editorship of a monthly magazine, to be started 
the following January, to which he was to supply a serial story ; 
and soon after he had agreed with the same publisher to write 
two other tales, the first at a specified early date ; the expressed 
remunerations in each case being certainly inadequate to the 
claims of a writer of any marked popularity.” 

Thus the first half of Oliver Twist was being witten 


VI 


INTRODUCTION. 


exactly at the same time as the last half of Pickzaick^ Dickens 
^‘not being even by a week in advance of the printer with 
either.’’ 

Different men have different methods. Some could not 
send a novel to the press for periodical publication before all 
of it lay before them in manuscript. Others, like Scott and 
Dickens, have found their powers heightened by the insist- 
ence of the press. There is no use in scolding at improvisers, 
after Mr. Carlyle’s manner in his essay on Sir Walter. The 
merits of care and elaborate diligence, as in the examples 
of Flaubert, Mr. Stevenson, or Charlotte Bronte, are con- 
spicuous, but Waverley and Oliver Txmst are likely to live as 
long as Madame Bovary^ Prince Otto^ or Villette. It is vain 
to lecture to authors, who will find out their own methods. 
But Dickens must have put a strain even on his vigour, by 
writing two novels at once, and by editing Mr. Bentley’s 
magazine, while, after Pickwick^ new labours under his agree- 
ment encroached on the time and energy demanded by Oliver. 
He worked simultaneously at the anonymous Sketches of 
Young Gentlemen^ the Life Gi'imaldi^ and a pamphlet on 

Sunday, under Three Heads.” As if acting on Scott’s 
advice, he struck while the iron was hot, and his labours, 
being almost entirely imaginative, were more exhausting than 
Scott’s casual reviews and antiquarianisms. Again, the death 
of Mary Hogarth interrupted Oliver^ no less than it inter- 
rupted Pickwick^ and Dickens was also vexed by tracasseries 
with publishers and by the sense of bondage to an agreement. 
Nicholas Nickleby had to be commenced, and a horrid shadow 
of an ine^dtable Barnahy Budge was looming up. “He had 
a sense lething hanging over him like a hideous night- 
mare,” ^ Forster. He worked after dinner, and late 

at nigl irious practice. Moreover, Oliver^ according 


INTRODUCTIOxX. 


Vll 

to Dickens, was ’ ^ iJising immense profits to its publishers,’' 
while he obtair liy “a paltry, wretched, miserable sum, 

not equal lo s every day paid for a novel that sells 

fifteen hundred copies at most.” ^‘The slavery and drudgery 
of another work on the same journeyman terms” oppressed 
him ; he was struggling in old toils, and wasting his energies 
in the very height and freshness of his fame, and the best 
part of his life, to fill the pockets of others.” Early in 1839, 
Oliver having run his course, Dickens resigned the magazine, 
and, in June, 1840, the agreement about Barnahy Budge 
was rescinded, Dickens paying £2250 for the copyright, and 
remainder of Oliver. 

Sic VOS non vobis nid^catis aves ! 

Dickens made his distressing agreement before Pickwick had 
attained its full bloom. He mortgaged a noble part of him- 
self and his future: he stands as a warning to successful 
beginners, and we can never tell how much better even than 
they are his early works would have been, had he estimated 
himself and his value with more confidence. 

Dickens’s own account of his initial idea in Oliver is ‘Ho 
sho^v^tEe principle of (rood surviving thr ough eve ry adverse 
circumstance.” His purpose was 7iot to make his thieves 
attractive, like Macheath, Dick Turpin, and Jack Sheppard. 
“ What charms,” he asks, “ has the everyday existence of a 
thief for the young and ill-disposed, what allurements for 
the niost jolter-headcjd of juveniles.^” Dickens might have 
known boys better. The present writer, when aged twelve, 
was within an inch (as he well remembers) of faking the 
fogle of . an elderly gentleman as he walked down Hanover 
Street in Edinburgh ! So much temptation there was to a 
false following of Mr. Charley Bates. Reflecting that, if I 
were detected, the worthy Beak might hesitate to accept my 


Vlll 


INTRODUCTION. 


excuse of Vart pour Vart^ and my stateme^nt that I coveted 
not the fogle, but the opportunity of distinction as a follower 
of Mr. Bates, I abstained ; nor do I regret it. The worthy 
Beak might have been a man devoid of literary enthusiasm. 
Still, there was a practical proof of the “allurements for 
jolter-headed juveniles.*’’ Thackeray, in Catherine^ criticised the 
virtues of Nancy as far from plausible, and he wrote Catherine 
(as Dickens wrote ^Oliver) to display the real psychology of 
the criminal, including Dickens with “Bulwig” among the 
mawkish. Yet Dickens’s aim was “ t o show the c rime in its 
u nattractive and repulsive truth.” As to the character and 
coi ^uct of Nancy, he wrote, “ I t is t rue ; ” and Thackeray, 
in the Preface to Pendennis^ has touchingly confessed that 
he never did know a convict, and felt some diffidence in 
treating of that class. So Thackeray being commonly an 
enthusiastic admirer of Dickens, his objections to Nancy may 
be estimated by each reader for himself. Tfee^iri’^ poetic 
diction, in talk with Rose Maylie, may be censured, but 
Scott has justly observeR”'tTial"~^ssion, Tn” persons even of 
poor Nancy’s circumstances, occasionally rises to eloquence. 
The hysterical i^iolence of the girl is accurately indicated, 
and to call her “mawkish,” on the whole, would indeed be 
“ superfine.” 

Whether Dickens intended the contrast with the genial 
caricature of Pickwick^ or not, he was wisely inspired in 
leaving his broad-blown English fun out of his second novel. 
There could be no charge of self-imitation, or of harping on 
/ a single string. Caricature, of course, there is: Mr. Bumble 
and Noah Claypole are esse ntially exag gerated. But only 
Charley Bates and the Dodger recall the humour of Pickwick 
*^s best, and the eccentricities of Mr. Grimwig “do not 
’niulate.” The merits of the novel mainly appear in 


1 


INTRODUCTION. 


IX 


the thieves’ quarters : Sikes, Fagin, Nancy, the Three Cripples 
with its^cietyTand the dog, are all admirable and absolutely 
oilgihal. Many of Dickens’s mannerisms, such as his animismy 
liis personifications of lifeless beings, do not appear. Nor does 
he overdo his descriptions, and that character (later too great 
a favourite) who is always round the corner, always ^Murking 
for a spring,” is absent. The social satire, like all social satire, 

Js mainly negative. We see what is wrong, but we are not 
told what right action should take its place. There are na 

constructive i deas. Of course, the w eakness of the novel is 

its plot. T here is a greatly exaggerate d -use-of-coineidettces^.- 
That Mr. Brownlow should casually be acquainted with 
Monks, and his history, is a strain on credulity. The girl 
who will not marry because of a blot on her maternal scut- 
cheon is as old a figure as the interesting foundling, and the 
recognition ” is a stock device of the Greek and Roman stage. 
The character and conduct of Mon ks m ay be explained by 
his" epileptic constitution, but he is, at best, painfully melo- 
d ramatic and unconvincing. About the love affair, Mr. 
Walter Bagehot, forty years ago, said at least as much, in 
the way of critical blame, as was necessary. Dickens’s strength 
lay neither in the construction of plots, nor in the conduct of 
love affairs. Again, the innocence and the eleg ant langu age 
of Oliver himself may be explained by heredity, or max ,b^ 
i^egard ed as mere conventk ms.> like the blank verse talked by ^ 
kings on the stage, while Falstaff speaks plain prose. The 
hags in the workho use, with their talk about laying out 
bodies, are manifestly an unconscious reminiscence of the hags ^ 
and their conversation in The Bride of Lammermuir. 

With these drawbacks, the novel has the tragic chara cteristic 
of purifying the passions through pity and t error^ however 
we are to undeir^' ' at famous saying of Aristotle. Dickens 


X 


INTRODUCTION. 


most appositely answered some I'eviewers by a quotation from 
Tom Jones ; “the young critics of the age, the clerks, appren- 
tices, etc., called it low^ and fell a-groaning.*’ 

The book appeared in three volumes in October, 1838. 
Cruikshank’s designs may satisfy admirers of Cruikshank. 
That artist told an American interviewer how his illustrations 
suggested the story. To put it mildly, this tale was “a 
hallucination of memory.” Cruikshank’s idea of Oliver, with 
his preternaturally long nose, prejudices the reader unjustly 
against a boy who, of the two sorts of boys as classified 
by Mr. Grimwig, is undeniably “mealy.” In later works, 
^ Dickens shines in his boys ; Oliver is of another and more 
sentimental type. 

Oliver Txmst needs but two or three notes. We do not 
know why the Dodger used “Morrice” as a synonym for 
“ make haste,” but Dickens here usually explains the little 
thieves^ slang that he permits himself to use. He had none 
of the pedantry of realism, and his thieves are understood to 
be obscene and blasphemous without examples in the manner 
of Zola. On one point Henry Kingsley descried a puzzle. 
Why was Fagin hanged ? As an “ accessory before the fact ” 
of Nancy’s murder, is the reply; but the crime could not 
easily have been brought home, except by poetical justice. 


ANDREW LANG. 


PKEF ACE. 


Once upon a time it was held to be a coarse and shocking 
circumstance, that some of the characters in these pages are 
chosen from the most criminal and degraded of London^ 
population. 

As I saw no reason, when I wrote this book, why the 
dregs of life (so long as their speech did not offend the ear) 
should not serve the purpose of a moral, as well as its froth 
and cream, I made bold to believe that this same Once upon 
a time would not prove to be All-time or even a long time. 
I saw many strong reasons for pursuing my course. I had 
read of thieves by scores; seductive fellows (amiable for the 
most part), faultless in dress, plump in pocket, choice in 
horse-flesh, bold in bearing, fortunate in gallantry, great at 
a song, a bottle, pack of cards or dice-box, and fit companions 
for the bravest. But I had never met (except in Hogarth) 
with the miserable reality. It appeared to me that to draw 
a knot of such associates in crime as really did exist ; to paint 
them in all their deformity, in all their wretchedness, in all 
the squalid misery of their lives ; to show them as they really 
were, for ever skulking uneasily through the dirtiest paths of 
life, with the great bla^.k ghastly gallows closing up their 


PREFACE. 


xii 

prospect, turn them where they might ; it appeared to me 
that to do this, would be to attempt a something which was 
needed, and which would be a service to society. And I did 
it as I best could. 

In every book I know, where such characters are treated 
of, allurements and fascinations are thrown around them. 
Even in the BeggaFs Opera, the thieves are represented as ' 
leading a life which is rather to be envied than otherwise : 
while Macheath, with all the captivations of command, and 
the devotion of the most beautiful girl and only pure character 
in the piece, is as much to be admired and emulated by weak 
beholders, as any fine gentleman in a red coat who has pur- 
chased, as Voltaire says, the right to command a couple of 
thousand men, or so, and to affront death at their head. 
Johnson’s question, whether any man will turn thief because 
Macheath is reprieved, seems to me beside the matter. I 
ask myself, whether any man will be deterred from turning 
thief, because of Macheath’s being sentenced to death, and 
because of the existence of Peachum and Lockit ; and 
remembering the captain’s roaring life, great appearance, vast 
success, and strong advantages, I feel assured that nobody 
having a bent that way will take any warning from him, or 
will see anything in the play but a flow^ery and pleasant road, 
conducting an honourable ambition — in course of time — to 
Tyburn Tree. 

In fact. Gay’s witty satire on society had a general object, 
which made him quite regardless of example in this respect, 
and gave him other and wider aims. The same may be said 
of Sir Edward Bulwer’s admirable and po verful novel of Paul 
Clifford, which cannot be fairly considered as having, or as 
being intended to have, any bearing on this part of the subject, 
one way or other. 


PREFACE. 


xni 


What manner of life is that which is described in these 
pages, as the everyday existence of a Thief? What charms 
has it for the young and ill-disposed, what allurements for 
the most jolter-headed of juveniles? Here are no canterings 
on moonlit heaths, no : aerry-makings in the snuggest of all 
possible caverns, none of the attractions of dress, no embroidery, 
no lace, no jack-boots, no crimson coats and ruffles, none 
of the dash and freedom with which ‘‘ the road ’’ has been 
time out of mind invested. The cold wet shelterless midnight 
streets of London ; the foul and frowsy dens, where vice is 
closely packed and lacks the room to turn ; the haunts of 
hunger and disease ; the shabby rags that scarcely hold 
together ; where are the attractions of these things ? 

There are people, however, of so refined and delicate a 
nature, that they cannot bear the contemplation of such horrors. 
Not that they turn instinctively from crime ; but that criminal 
characters, to suit them, must be, like their meat, in delicate 
disguise. A Massaroni in green velvet is an enchanting 
creature; but a Sikes in fustian is insupportable. A Mrs. 
Massaroni, being a lady in short petticoats and a fancy dress, 
is a thing to imitate in tableaux and have in lithograph on 
pretty songs ; but a Nancy, being a creature in a cotton gown 
and cheap shawl, is not to be thought of. It is wonderful 
how Virtue turns from dirty stockings ; and how Vice, married 
to ribbons and a little gay attire, changes her name, as 
wedded ladies do, and becomes Romance. 

But as the stern truth, even in the dress of this (in novels) 
much exalted race, was a part of the purpose of this book, I 
did not, for these readers, abate one hole in the DodgeFs coat, 
or one scrap of curl-paper in Nancy'^s dishevelled hair. I had 
no faith in the delicacy which could not bear to look upon 
them. I had no desire to make proselytes among such people. 


XIV 


PREFACE. 


I had no respect for their opinion, good or bad ; did not covet 
their approval ; and did not write for their amusement. 

It has been observed of Nancy that her devotion to the 
brutal house-breaker does not seem natural. And it has been 
objected to Sikes in the same breathf-.— with some inconsistency, 
as I venture to think — that he is surely overdrawn, because 
in him there would appear to be none of those redeeming 
traits which are objected to as unnatural in his mistress. Of 
the latter objection I will merely remark, that I fear there 
are in the world some insensible and callous natures, that do 
become utterly and incurably bad. Whether this be so or 
not, of one thing I am certain : that there are such men as 
Sikes, who, being closely followed through the same space of 
time and through the same current of circumstances, would 
not give,' by the action of a moment, the faintest indication 
of a better nature. Whether every gentler human feeling is 
dead within such bosoms, or the proper chord to strike has 
rusted and is hard to find, I do not pretend to know; but 
that the fact is as I state it, I am sure. 

It is useless to discuss whether the conduct and character 
of the girl seems natural or unnatural, ])robable or improbable, 
right or wrong. It is true. Every man who has watched 
these melancholy shades of life, must know it to be so. 
From the first introduction of that poor wretch, to her laying 
Iter blood-stained head upon the robber’s breast, there is not 
a word exaggerated or over- wrought. It is emphatically God’s 
truth, for it is the truth He leaves in such depraved and 
miserable breasts; the hope yet lingering there; the last fair 
drop of water at the bottom of the weed-choked well. It 
involves the best and worst shades of our nature ; much of its 
ugliest hues, and something of its most beautiful; rc is a 
contradiction, an anomaly, an apparent impossibility ; but it 


PREFACE. 


XV 


is a truth. I am glad to have had it doubted, for iu that 
circumstance I should find a sufficient assurance (if I wanted 
any) that it needed to be told. 

In the year one thousand eight hundred and fifty, it was 
publicly declared in London by an amazing Alderman, that 
Jacob‘*s Island did not exist, and never had existed. Jacobis 
Island continues to exist (like an ill-bred place as it is) in 
the year one thousand eight hundred and sixty-seven, though 
improved and much changed. 



CONTENTS 


-V 

CHAPTER I. 

PAGE 

Treats of the Place where Oliver Twist was Born ; and of the 

Circumstances attending his Birth 1 

CHAPTER II. 

Treats of Oliver Twist’s Growth, Education, and Board . . 5 

CHAPTER III. 

Relates how Oliver Twist was very near getting a Place, which 

would not have been a Sinecure . ' 17 

CHAPTER IV. 

Oliver, being offered another Place, makes his first Entry into 

Public Life 27 

CHAPTER Y. 

Oliver mingles with new Associates. Going to a Funeral for the 
first Time, he forms an unfavourable Notion of his Master’s 
Business .......... 35 

CHAPTER VI. 

Oliver, being goaded by the Taunts of Noah, rouses into Action, 

and rather astonishes him ....... 48 


xviii CONTENTS. 

CHAPTER VII. 

Oliver continues refractory 

CHAPTER YIIL 

Oliver walks to London. He encounters on the Road a Stranire 
sort of young Gentleman ....... 

CHAPTER IX. 

Containing further Particulars concerning the pleasant old Gentle- 
man, and his hopeful Pupils 

CHAPTER X. 

Oliver becomes better acquainted with the Characters of his new 
Associates ; and purchases Experience at a high Price. Being 
a short, but very important Chapter, in this History 

CHAPTER XI. 

Treats of Mr. Fang the Police Magistrate ; and furnishes a slight 
Specimen of his Mode of administering Justice 

CHAPTER XII. 

In which Oliver is taken better Care of, than he ever was before. 
And in v/hich the Narrative reverts to the merry old Gentle- 
man and his youthful Friends 

CHAPTER XIII. 

Some new Acquaintances are introduced to the intelligent Reader ; 
connected with whom various pleasant Matters are related, 
appertaining to this History . . . .. 

CHAPTER XIV. 

Comprising further Particulars of Oliver’s Stay at Mr. Brownlow’s. 
With the remarkable Prediction which one Mr. Grimwig 
uttered concerning him, when he went out on an Errand 

CHAPTER XV. 

Showing how very fond of Oliver Twist, the merry old Jew and 
Miss Nancy were 


PAGE 

54 


G2 


72 


80 


86 


95 


106 


115 


127 


CONTENTS. 


XIX 


CHAPTER XVI. 

PAGE 

Relates what became of Oliver Twist after he had been claimed 

by Nancy 135 

CHAPTER XVII. 

Oliver’s Destiny continuing unpropitious^ brings a Great Man to 

London to injure his Reputation . . . . . . 146 

CHAPTER XVIII. 

How Oliver passed his Time, in the improving Society of his 

reputable Friends . 157 

CHAPTER XIX. 

Ill which a notable Plan is discussed and determined on . . 167 

CHAPTER XX. 

Wherein Oliver is delivered over to Mr. William Sikes . . .178 

CHAPTER XXI. 

The Expedition 187 

CHAPTER XXII. . 

The Burglary . 194 

CHAPTER XXIII. 

Which contains the Substance of a pleasant Conversation between 
Mr. Bumble and a Lady ; and shows that even a Beadle may 
I be susceptible on some Points 202 

CHAPTER XXIV. 

Treats of a very poor Subject. But is a short one ; and may be 

found of Importance in this History . . . . .211 

CHAPTER XXV. 

wiierein this History reverts to Mr. Fagin and Company 


. 218 


XX 


CONTENTS. 


CHAPTER XXVI. 

In which a mysterious Character appears upon the Scene ; and 
many Things, inseparable from this History, are done and 
performed 


CHAPTER XXVII. 

Atones for the Unpoliteness of a former Chapter ; which deserted 
a Lady, most unceremoniously 

CHAPTER XXVIII. 

Looks after Oliver, and proceeds with his Adventures . 

CHAPTER XXIX. 

Has an introductory Account of the Inmates of the House to 
which Oliver resorted 


CHAPTER XXX. 

Relates what Oliver’s new Visitors thought of him 

CHAPTER XXXI. 

Involves a critical Position . 

CHAPTER XXXII. 

Of the hapi^y Life Oliver began to lead with his kind Friends 

CHAPTER XXXIII. 

Wherein the Happiness of Oliver and his Friends experiences 
sudden Check 


CHAPTER XXXIV. 

Contains some introductory Particulars relative to a you 
Gentleman who now arrives upon the Scene ; and a n 
Adventure which happened to Oliver .... 

CHAPTER XXXV. 

Containing the unsatisfactory Result of Oliver’s Adventure ; a 
a Conversation of some Importance between Harry May 
and Rose . ........ 


PAOR 

225 

239 

248 

259 

264 


CONTENTS. 


XXI 


CHAPTER XXXVI. 

PAGIE 

Is a very short one, and may appear of no great Importance in its 
Place. But it should be read notwithstanding, as a Sequel to 
the last, and a Key to one that will follow when its Time 
arrives 32G 


CHAPTER XXXVII. 

In which the Reader may perceive a Contrast, not uncommon in 

matrimonial Cases 330 


CHAPTER XXXVIII. 

Containing an Account of what passed between Mr. and Mrs. 

Bumble, and Mr. Monks, at their nocturnal Interview . . 342 

CHAPTER XXXIX. 

Introduces some respectable Characters with whom the Reader is 
already acquainted, and shows how Monks and the Jew laid 
their worthy Heads together 354 

CHAPTER XL. 

A strange Interview, which is a Sequel to the last Chapter . .371 

CHAPTER XLI. 

Containing fresh Discoveries, and showing that Surprises, like 

Misfortunes, seldom come alone ... . . 379 

CHAPTER XLII. 

An old Acquaintance of Oliver’s, exhibiting decided Marks of 


Genius, becomes a public Character in the Metropolis . . 390 

CHAPTER XLIIL 

Wherein is shown how the Artful Dodger got into Trouble . . 402 

CHAPTER XLIV. 

The Time arrives for Nancy to redeem her Pledge to Rose Maylie. 

She fails 414 


XXll 


CONTENTS 


CHAPTER XLV. 

PAGE 

Noah Claypole is employed by Fagin on a secret Mission . . 422 

CHAPTER XLVI. 

The Appointment kept 42G 

CHAPTER XLVII. 

Fatal Consequences 437 

CHAPTER XLYIII. 

The Flight of Sikes 445 

CHAPTER XLIX. 

Monks and Mr. Brownlow at length meet. Their Conversation, 

and the Intelligence that interrupts it . . . . . 456 

CHAPTER L. 

The Pursuit and Escape 467 

CHAPTER LI. 

Affording an Explanation of more Mysteries than one, and com- 
prehending a Proposal of Marriage with no Word of Settle- 


ment or Pin-money ........ 480 

CHAPTER LII. 

Fagin’s Last Night alive 495 

CHAPTER LIII. 

And Last 505 


LIST OF ILLUSTEATKpNS. 


PAGE 

Oliver claimed by his affectionate Friends . Frontispiece 

Oliver asking for more 16 

Oliver escapes being bound to a Sweep 26 

Oliver plucks up a Spirit 52 

Oliver introduced to the respectable old Gentleman . . 70 

Oliver amazed at the Dodger’s mode of “going to Work” 82 

Oliver recovering from Fever 100 

Oliver’s Reception by Fagin and the Boys .... 140 

Master Bates explains a professional Technicality . . 162 

The Burglary 200 

Mr. Bumble and Mrs. Corney taking Tea .... 206 
Mr. Claypole as he appeared when his Master was out . 246 

Oliver at Mrs. Maylie’s Door 256 

Oliver waited on by Bow Street Runners .... 282 

Monks and the Jew 316 

Mr. Bumble degraded in the Eyes of the Paupers . . 336 

The Evidence destroyed ........ 352 

Mr Fagin and his Pupil recovering Nancy .... 356 

The Jew and Morris both begin to understand each other 396 

The Meeting .... 430 

Sikes attempting to destroy his Dog 454 

The Last Chance . 478 

Fagin in the Condemned Cell ....... 502 

Rose Maylie and Oliver ........ 508 



OLIVER TWIST. 


CHAPTER L 

TREATS OF THE PLACE WHERE OLIVER TWIST WAS BORN, AND OF 
THE CIRCUMSTANCES ATTENDING HIS BIRTH. 

Among other public buildings in a certain town, which for 
many reasons it will be prudent to refrain from mentioning, 
and to which I will assign no fictitious name, there is one 
anciently common to most towns, great or small : to wit, a 
workhouse; and in this workhouse was born; on a day and 
date which I need not trouble myself to repeat, inasmuch 
as it can be of no possible consequence to the reader, in this 
stage of the business at all events; the item of mortality 
whose name is prefixed to the head of this chapter. 

For a long time after it was ushered into this world of 
sorrow and trouble, by the parish surgeon, it remained a 
matter of considerable doubt whether the child would survive 
to bear any name at all ; in which case it is somewhat 
more than probable that these memoirs would never have 
appeared; or, if they had, that being comprised within a 
couple of pages, they would have possessed the inestimable 
merit of being the most concise and faithful specimen of 
biography, extant in the literature of any age or country. 

Although I am not disposed to maintain that the being bom 
in a workhouse, is in itself the most fortunate and enviable 




OLIVER TWIST. 


circumstance that can possibly befall a human being, I do 
mean to say that in this particular instance, it was the best 
thing for Oliver Twist that could by possibility have occurred. 
The fact is, that there was considerable difficulty in inducing 
Oliver to take upon himself the office of respiration, — a 
troublesome practice, but one which custom has rendered 
necessary to our easy existence; and for some time he lay 
gasping on a little flock mattress, rather unequally poised 
between this world and the next : the balance being decidedly 
in favour of the latter. Now, if, during this brief period, 
Oliver had been surrounded by careful grandmothers, anxious 
aunts, experienced nurses, and doctors of profound wisdom, he 
would most inevitably and indubitably have been killed in no 
time. There being nobody by, however, but a pauper old 
woman, who was rendered rather misty by an unwonted 
allowance of beer ; and a parish surgeon who did such matters 
by contract ; Oliver and Nature fought out the point between 
them. The result was, that, after a few struggles, Oliver 
breathed, sneezed, and proceeded to advertise to the inmates 
of the workhouse the fact of a new burden having been 
imposed upon the parish, by setting up as loud a cry as 
could reasonably have been expected from a male infant who 
had not been possessed of that very useful appendage, a 
voice, for a much longer space of time than three minutes 
and a quarter. 

As Oliver gave this fir'^^ oroof of the free and proper action 
of his lungs, the r k coverlet which was carelessly 

flung over the ’ d, rustled ; the pale face of a 

young wom^' oly from the pillow; and a faint 

voice .ated the words, ‘‘Let me see the 

chfl’ 

*iad been sitting with his face turned towards 
^xvTing the palms of his hands a warm and a rub 
.ely. As the young woman spoke, he rose^ and 

.vancing to the bed’s head, said, with more kindness than 
might have been expected of him *. 


THE YOUNG MOTHER DIES- 


3 


^^Oh, you must not talk about dying yet.'^’ 

Lor ble ss her dear heart, no ! interposed the nurse, hastily 
depositing in her pocket a green glass bottle, the contents of 
which she had been tasting in a corner with evident satisfac- 
tion. ‘^Lor bless her dear heart, when she has lived as long 
as I have, sir, and had thirteen children of her own, and all 
on ’em dead except two, and them in the wurkus with me, 
shell know better than to take on in that way, bless her 
dear heart ! Think what it is to be a mother, there’s a dear 
young lamb, do.” 

Apparently this consolatory perspective of a mother’s pros- 
pects failed in producing its due effect. The patient shook 
her head, and stretched out her hand towards the child. 

The surgeon deposited it in her arms. She imprinted her 
cold white lips passionately on its forehead ; passed her hands 
over her face ; gazed wildly round ; shuddered ; fell back — 
and died. They ehafed her breast, hands, and temples; but 
the blood had stopped for ever. They talked of hope and 
comfort. They had been strangers too long. 

“ It’s all over, Mrs. Thingummy ! ” said the surgeon 
at last. 

Ah, poor dear, so it is ! ” said the nurse, picking up the 
cork of the green bottle, which had fallen out on the pillow, 
as she stooped to take up the child. Poor dear ! ” 

‘^You needn’t mind sending up to me, if the child cries, 
nurse,” said the surgeon, putting on his gloves with great 
deliberation. “ It’s very likely it will be troublesome. Give 
it a little gruel if it is.” He put on his hat, and, pausing 
. by the bed-side on his way to the door, added, She was a 
good-looking girl, too ; where did she come from ? ” 

^^She was brought here last night,” replied the old woman, 
by the overseer’s order. She was found lying in the street. 
She had walked some distance, for her shoes were worn to 
pieces; but where she came from, or where she was going 
to, nobody knows.” 

The surgeon leaned over the body, and raised the left hand. 


4 


OLIVER TWIST. 




no V 


ii^ 


g-niig, 

ind the 
1 bottle, 
eeded to 

3SS, young 
vhich had 
e been the 


The old story,’’ he said, shaking his head 
I see. Ah ! Good night ! ” 

The medical gentleman walked away to din 
nurse, having once more applied herself to the 
sat down on a low chair before the fire, anc 
dress the infant. 

What an excellent example of the power 
Oliver Twist was ! Wrapped in the blar 
hitherto formed his only covering, he mighi 
child of a nobleman or a beggar; it would have been hard 
for the haughtiest stranger to have assigned him his proper 
station in society. But now that he was enveloped in the 
old calico robes which had grown yellow in the same service, 
he was badged and ticketed, and fell into his place at once • 
— a parish child — the orphan of a workhouse — the humble, ^ 
half-starved drudge — to be cuffed and buffeted through the 
world — despised by all, and pitied by none. 

Oliver cried lustily. If he could have known that he was 
an orphan, left to the tender mercies of churchwardens and 
overseers, perhaps he would have cried the louder. 


CHAPTER II. 

TREATS OF OLIVER TWISt’s GROWTH, EDUCATION, AND BOARD. 

For the next eight or ten months, Oliver was the victim 
of a systematic course of treachery and deception. He was 
brought up by hand. The hungry and destitute situation 
of the infant orphan was duly reported by the workhouse 
authorities to the parish authorities. The parish authorities 
inquired with dignity of the workhouse authorities, whether 
there was no female then domiciled in ‘^the house” who 
was in a situation to impart to Oliver Twist, the consolation 
and nourishment of which he stood in need. The workhouse 
authorities replied with humility, that there was not. Upon 
this, the parish authorities magnanimously and humanely 
resolved, that Oliver should be ‘^farmed,” or, in other words, 
that he should be despatched to a branch-workhouse some 
three miles oflF, where twenty or thirty other juvenile offenders 
against the poor-laws, rolled about the floor all day, without 
the inconvenience of too much food or too much clothing, 
under the parental superintendence of an elderly female, 
who received the culprits at and for the consideration of 
sevenpence-halfpenny per small head per week. Sevenpence- 
halfpenny’s worth per week is a good round diet for a 
child; a great deal may be got for sevenpence-halfpenny, 
quite enough to overload its stomach, and make it uncom- 
fortable. The elderly female was a woman of wisdom and 
experience; she knew what was good for children; and she 


6 


OLIVER TWIST. 


had a very accurate perception of what was good for herself. 
S>o, she appropriated the greater part of the weekly stipend to 
her o,vn use, and consigned the rising parochial generation 
to even a shorter allowance than was originally provided for 
them. Thereby finding in the lowest depth a deeper still; 
and proving herself a very great experimental philosopher. 

Everybody knows the story of another experimental 
philosopher who had a great theory about a horse being able 
to live without eating, and who demonstrated it so well, 
that he got his own horse down to a straw a day, and would 
unquestionably have rendered him a very spirited and 
rampacious animal on nothing at all, if he had not died, 
four-and-twenty hours before he was to have had his first 
comfortable bait of air. Unfortunately for the experimental 
philosophy of the female to whose protecting care Oliver Twist 
was delivered over, a similar result usually attended the 
operation of her system ; for at the very moment when a child 
had contrived to exist upon the smallest possible portion of 
the weakest possible food, it did perversely happen in eight 
and a half cases out of ten, either that it sickened from 
want and cold, or fell into the fire from neglect, or got 
half-smothered by accident; in any one of which cases, the 
miserable little being was usually summoned into another 
world, and there gathered to the fathers it had never known 
in this. 

Occasionally, when there was some more than usually 
interesting inquest upon a parish child who had been over- 
looked in turning up a bedstead, or inadvertently scalded to 
death when there happened to be a washing — though the 
latter accident was very scarce, anything approaching to a 
washing being of rare occurrence in the farm — the jury would 
take it into their heads to ask troublesome questions, or the 
parishioners would rebelliously affix their signatures to a 
remonstrance. But these impertinences were speedily checked 
by the evidence of the surgeon, and the testimony of the 
beadle; the former of whom had always opened the body 


STARVATION OF THE HERO. 


and found nothing inside (which was very probable indeed), 
and the latter of whom invariably swore whatever the parish 
wanted; which was very self-devotional. Besides, the board 
made periodical pilgrimages to the farm, and always sent the 
beadle the day before, to say they were going. The children 
were neat and clean to behold, when they went; and what 
more would the people have ! 

It cannot be expected that this system of farming would 
produce any very extraordinary or luxuriant crop. Oliver 
Twist’s ninth birth-day found him a pale thin child, some- 
what diminutive in stature, and decidedly small in circumfer- 
ence. But nature or inheritance had implanted a good sturdy 
spirit in Oliver’s breast. It had had plenty of room to expand, 
thanks to the spare diet of the establishment; and perhaps 
to this circumstance may be attributed his having any ninth 
birth-day at all. Be this as it may, however, it was his ninth 
birth-day; and he was keeping it in the coal-cellar with a 
select party of two other young gentlemen, who, after 
participating with him in a sound thrashing, had been locked 
up for atrociously presuming to be hungry, when Mrs. Mann, 
the good lady of the house, was unexpectedly startled by the 
apparition of Mr. Bumble, the beadle, striving to undo the 
wicket of the garden-gate. 

‘‘ Goodness gracious ! Is that you, Mr. Bumble, sir ? ” 
said Mrs. Mann, thrusting her head out of the window in 
well-affected ecstasies of joy. “(Susan, take Oliver and them 
two brats up stairs, and wash ’em directly.) My heart alive ! 
Mr. Bumble, how glad I am to see you, sure-ly ! ” • 

Now, Mr. Bumble was a fat man, and a choleric ; so, instead 
of responding to this open-hearted salutation in a kindred 
spirit, he gave the little wicket a tremendous shake, and then 
bestowed upon it a kick which could have emanated from no 
leg but a beadle’s. 

“Lor, only think,” said Mrs. Mann, running out, — for the 
three boys had been removed by this time, — “only think of 
that ! That I should have forgotten that the gate was bolted 


OLIVER TWIST. 


on the inside, on account of them dear children ! Walk in, 
sir; walk in, pray, Mr. Bumble, do, sir."’ 

Although this invitation was accompanied with a curtsey 
that might have softened the heart of a churchwarden, it by 
no means mollified the beadle. 

^^Do you think this respectful or proper conduct, Mrs. 
Mann,” inquired Mr. Bumble, grasping his cane, ^‘to keep 
the parish officers a waiting at your garden-gate, when they 
come here upon porochial business connected with the porochial 
orphans ? Are you aweer, Mrs. Mann, that you are, as I may 
say, a porochial delegate, and a stipendiary ? ” 

^‘Fm sure, Mr. Bumble, that I was only a telling one or 
two of the dear children as is so fond of you, that it was 
you a coming,” replied Mrs. Mann with great humility. 

Mr. Bumble had a great idea of his oratorical powers and 
his importance. He had displayed the one, and vindicated 
the other. He relaxed. 

Well, well, Mrs. Mann,” he replied in a calmer tone ; 
^‘it may be as you say; it may be. Lead the way in, 
Mrs. Mann, for I come on business, and have something 
to say.” 

Mrs. Mann ushered the beadle into a small parlour with a 
brick floor; placed a seat for him; and officiously deposited 
his cocked hat and cane on the table before him. Mr. 
Bumble wiped from his forehead the perspiration which his 
walk had engendered, glanced complacently at the cocked 
hat, and smiled. Yes, he smiled. Beadles are but men ; and 
Mr. Bumble smiled. 

‘^Now don’t you be offended at what Fm a going to say,” 
observed Mrs. Mann, with captivating sweetness. ‘^You’ve 
had a long walk, you know, or I wouldn’t mention it. Now, 
will you take a little drop of somethink, Mr. Bumble?” 

‘^Not a drop. Not a drop,” said Mr. Bumble, waving his 
right hand in a dignified, but placid manner. 

‘^I think you will,” said Mrs. Mann, who had noticed the 
tone of the refusal, and the gesture that had accompanied it. 


THE BEADLE ON BUSINESS. 9 

‘^Just a leetle drop, with a little cold water, and a lump of 
sugar.’’ 

Mr. Bumble coughed. 

‘‘Now, just a leetle drop,” said Mrs. Mann persuasively. 

“ What is it ? ” inquired the beadle. 

“Why, it’s what I’m obliged to keep a little of in the 
house to put into the blessed infants’ Daffy, when they ain’t 
well, Mr. Bumble,” replied Mrs. Mann as she opened a corner 
cupboard, and took down a bottle and glass. “It’s gin. 
I’ll not deceive you, Mr. B. It’s gin.” 

“Do you give the children Daffy, Mrs. Mann?” inquired 
Bumble, following with his eyes the interesting process of 
mixing. 

“Ah, bless ’em, that I do, dear as it is,” replied the nurse. 
“ I couldn’t see ’em suffer before my very eyes, you know, sir.” 

“ No ; ” said Mr. Bumble approvingly ; “ no, you could not. 
You are a humane woman, Mrs. Mann.” (Here she set down 
the glass.) “ I shall take a early opportunity of mentioning 
it to the board, Mrs. Mann.” (He drew it towards him.) 
“ You feel as a mother, Mrs. Mann.” (He stirred the 
gin-and- water.) “I — I drink your health with cheerfulness, 
Mrs. Mann ; ” and he swallowed half of it. 

“And now about business,” said the beadle, taking out a 
leathern pocket-book. “The child that was half-baptized 
Oliver Twist, is nine year old to-day.” 

“ Bless him ! ” interposed Mrs. Mann, inflaming her left eye 
with the corner of her apron. 

“And notwithstanding a offered reward of ten pound, 
which was afterwards increased to twenty pound. Notwith- 
standing the most superlative, and, I may say, supernat’ral 
exertions on the part of this parish,” said Bumble, “we have 
never been able to discover who is his father, or what was 
his mother’s settlement, name, or con — dition.” 

Mrs. Mann raised her hands in astonishment; but added, 
after a moment’s reflection, “How comes he to have any 
name at all, then ? ” 


10 OLIVER TWIST. 

The beadle drew himself up with great pride, and said, 
‘a inwent 

“ Yor .mble ! ” 

“ I Aim. We name our fondlings in alphabetical 

ord" last was a S,— Swubble, I named him. This was 

0 ^t, I named him. The next one as comes will be 

md the next Vilkins. I have got names ready made 
end of the alphabet, and all the way through it again, 
1 we come to Z.’’ 

‘Why, youVe quite a litemry character, sir ! said Mrs. Mann. 

“Well, well,’** said the beadle, evidently gratified with the 
compliment; “perhaps I may be. Perhaps I may be, Mrs. 
Mann.” He finished the gin-and-water, and added, “Oliver 
being now too old to remain here, the board have determined 
to have him back into the house. I have come out myself 
to take him there. So let me see him at once.” 

“ ril fetch him directly,” said Mrs. Mann, leaving the room 
for that purpose. Oliver, having had by this time as much 
of the outer coat of dirt which encrusted his face and hands, 
removed, as could be scrubbed off in one washing, was led 
into the room by his benevolent protectress. 

“ Make a bow to the gentleman, Oliver,” said Mrs. Mann. 

Oliver made a bow, which was divided between the beadle 
on the chair, and the cocked-hat on the table. 

“Will you go along with me, Oliver said Mr. Bumble, 
in a majestic voice. 

Oliver was about to say that he would go along with any- 
body with great readiness, when, glancing upward, he caught 
sight of Mrs. Mann, who had got behind the beadle’s chair, 
and was shaking her fist at him with a furious countenance. 
He took the hint at once, for the fist had been too often 
impressed upon his body not to be deeply impressed upon 
his recollection. 

“ Will she go with me ? ” inquired poor Oliver. 

“No, she can’t,” replied Mr. Bumble. “But she’ll come 
and see you sometimes.” 


THE HERO QUITS MRS. MANN’S. 11 

This was no very great consolation to the child. Young as 
he was, however, he had sense enough to make a feint of 
feeling great regret at going away. It was no very difficult 
matter for the boy to call tears into his eyes. Hunger and 
recent ill-usage are great assistants if you want to cry ; and 
Oliver cried very naturally indeed. Mrs. Mann gave him a 
thousand embraces, and, what Oliver wanted a great deal more 
a piece of bread and butter, lest he should seem too hungr 
when he got to the workhouse. With the slice of bread i 
his hand, and the little brown-cloth parish cap on his head, 
Oliver was then led away by Mr. Bumble from the wretched 
home where one kind word or look had never lighted the 
gloom of his infant years. And yet he burst into an agony 
of childish grief, as the cottage-gate closed after him. Wretched 
as were the little companions in misery he was leaving behind, 
th^y were the only friends he had ever known; and a sense 
of his loneliness in the great wide world, sank into the child’s 
heart for the first time. 

Mr. Bumble walked on with long strides; little Oliver, 
firmly grasping his gold-laced cuff, trotted beside him, inquiring 
at the end of every quarter of a mile whether they were 
nearly there.” To these interrogations Mr. Bumble returned 
very brief and snappish replies ; for the temporary blandness 
which gin-and-water awakens in some bosoms had by this 
time evaporated ; and he was once again a beadle. 

Oliver had not been within the walls of the workhouse a 
quarter of an hour, and had scarcely completed the demolition 
of a second slice of bread, when Mr. Bumble, who had handed 
him over to the care of an old woman, returned ; and, telling 
him it was a board night, informed him that the board had 
said he was to appear before it forthwith. 

Not having a very clearly defined notion of what a live 
board was, Oliver was rather astounded by this intelligence, 
and was not quite certa' ' '}ther he ought to laugh or cry. 
He had no time to tl hout the matter, however; for 
Mr. Bumble gave bin p on the head, with his cane, to 


OLIVER IWIST. 


) 

,ke him up : and another on the back to make him lively : 
i bidding him follow, conducted him into a large white- 
hed room, where eight or ten fat gentlemen were sitting 
ad a table. At the top of the table, seated in an arm- 
r rr.ther higher than the rest, was a particularly fat 
leman with a very round, red face. 

3ow to the board,*” said Bumble. Oliver brushed away 
Sr three tears that were lingering in his eyes ; and seeing 
)ard but the table, fortunately bowed to that. 

What’s your name, boy ? ” said the gentleman in the high 
air. 

Oliver was frightened at the sight of so many gentlemen, 
which made him tremble : and the beadle gave him another 
tap behind, which made him cry. These two causes made 
him answer in a very low and hesitating voice; whereupon a 
gentleman in a white waistcoat said he was a fool. Which was 
a capital way of raising his spirits, and putting him quite 
at his ease. 

Boy,” said the gentleman in the high chair, listen to me. 
You know you’re an orphan, I suppose.^” 

What’s that, sir?” inquired poor Oliver. 

The boy is a fool — I thought he was,” said the gentleman 
in the white waistcoat. 

^‘Hush !” said the gentleman who had spoken first. You 
know you’ve got no father or mother, and that you were 
brought up by the parish, don'^t you ? 

‘‘Yes, sir,” replied Oliver, weeping bitterly. 

“What are you crying for?” inquired the gentleman in 
the white waistcoat. And to be sure it was very extraordinary. 
What could the boy be crying for? 

“ I hope you say your prayers every night,” said another 
gentleman in a gruff voice; “and pray for the people who 
feed you, and take care of you — like a Christian.” 

“ Yes, sir,” stammered the boy. The gentleman who spoke 
last was unconsciously right. It would have been very like a 
Christian, and a marvellously good Christian, too, if Oliver 


BEFORE THE BOARD. 


13 


^ had prayed for the people who fed and took care of him. 
But he hadn’t, because nobody had taught him. 

^^Well! You have come here to be educated, and taught 
i a useful trade,” said the red-faced gentleman in the high 
" chair. 

So you’ll begin to pick oakum to-morrow morning at six 
o’clock,” added the surly one in the white waistcoat. , 

I For the combination of both these blessings in the one 
I simple process of picking oakum, Oliver bowed low by the 

i direction of the beadle, and was then hurried away to a large 
I ward: where, on a rough, hard bed, he sobbed himself to 

i sleep. / What a noble illustration of the tender laws of 

: England ! They let the paupers go to sleep Q 

I Poor Oliver! He little thought, as he lay sleeping in 
\ happy unconsciousness of all around him, that the board had 
that very day arrived at a decision which would exercise the 
! most material influence over all his future fortunes. But 
they had. And this was it ; 

The members of this board were very sage, deep, philosophical 
men ; and when they came to turn their attention to the 
workhouse, they found out at once, what ordinary folks would 
never have discovered — the poor people liked it ! It was a 
regular place of public entertainment for the poorer classes; 
a tavern where there was nothing to pay ; a public breakfast, 
dinner, tea, and supper all the year round; a brick and 
mortar elysium, where it was all play and no work. Oho ! ” 
said the board, looking very knowing; “we are the fellows 
to set this to rights ; we’ll stop it all, in no time.” So, they 
establisl^ the rule, that all poor people should hav^ the 
alternative (for they would compel nobody, not they), of being 
starved by „a gradual process in the house, or by a quick 
one out of it. With this view, they contracted with the 
water-works to lay on an unlimited supply of water ; and 
with a corn-factor to supply periodically small quantities of 
oatmeal ; and issued three meals of thin gruel a day, with an 
qniop twice a weekj and half a roll on Sundays^ They made 


14 


OLIVER TWIST. 


a great many other wise and humane regulations, having 
reference to the ladies, which it is not necessary to repeat; 
kindly undertook to divorce poor married people, in conse- 
quence of the great expense of a suit in Doctors’ Commons ; 
and, instead of compelling a man to support his family, as 
they had theretofore done, took his family away from him, and 
made him a bachelor ! There is no saying how many appli- 
cants for relief, under these last two heads, might have started 
up in all classes of society, if it had not been coupled with 
the workhouse; btit the board were long-headed men, and 
had provided for this difficulty. The relief was inseparable 
from the workhouse and the gruel; and that frightened 
people. 

For the first six months after Oliver Twist was removed, 
the system was in full operation. It was rather expensive at 
first, in consequence of the increase in the undertaker s bill, 
and the necessity of taking in the clothes of all the paupers, 
which fluttered loosely on their wasted, shrunken forms, after 
a week or two’s gruel. But the number of workhouse in- 
mates got thin as well as the paupers; and the board were 
in ecstasies. 

The room in which the boys were fed, was a large stone 
hall, with a copper at one end: out of which the master^ 
dressed in an apron for the purpose, and assisted by one or 
two women, ladled the gruel at meal-times. Of this festive 
composition each boy had one porringer, and no more — except 
on occasions of great public rejoicing, when he had two 
ounces and a quarter of bread besides. The ’ ^ never 

wanted washing. The boys polished them with spoons 

till they shone again; and when they had pei i this 

operation (which never took very long, the sj, being 

nearly as large as the bowls), they would sit sta it the 

copper, with such eager eyes, as if they could ha\ oured 

the very bricks of which it was composed; employ hem- 

selves, meanwhile, in sucking their fingers most ai jsly, 

with the view of catching up any stray splashes of 4 that 


OLIVER ASKS FOR MORE. 


15 


might have been cast thereon. Boys have generally excellent 
appetites. Oliver Twist and his companions suffered the 
tortures of slow starvation for three months : at last they got 
so voracious and wild with hunger, that one boy, who was tall 
for his age, and hadn’t been used to that sort of thing (for 
his father had kept a small cook-shop), hinted darkly to 
his companions, that unless he had another basin of gruel 
per diem^ he was afraid he might some night happen to eat 
the boy who slept next him, who happened to be a weakly 
youth of tender age. He had a wild, hungry eye ; and they 
implicitly believed him. A council was held ; lots were cast 
who should walk up to the master after supper that evening, 
and ask for more ; and it fell to Oliver Twist. 

The evening arrived; the boys took their places. The 
master, in his cook’s uniform, stationed himself at the copper ; 
his pauper assistants ranged themselves behind him ; the gruel 
was served out; and a long grace was said over the short 
commons. The gruel disappeared; the boys whispered each 
other, and winked at Oliver ; while his next neighbours nudged 
him. Child as he was, he was desperate with hunger, and 
reckless with misery. He rose from the table ; and advancing 
to the master, basin and spoon in hand, said : somewhat 
alarmed at his own temerity : 

Please, sir, I want some more.” 

The master was a fat, healthy man ; but he turned very 
pale. He gazed in stupefied astonishment on the small rebel 
for some seconds, and then clung for support to the copper. 
The assistants were paralysed with wonder; the boys with 
fear. 

What ! ” said the master at length, in a faint voice. 

Please, sir,” replied Oliver, want some more.” 

The master aimed a blow at Oliver’s head with the ladle; 
pinioned him in his arms ; and shrieked aloud for the beadle. 

The board were sitting in solemn conclave, when Mr. Bumble 
rushed into the room in great excitement, and addressing the 
gentleman in the high chair, said. 


16 


OLIVER TWIST. 


Mr. Limbkins, I beg your pardon, sir ! Oliver Twist has 
asked for more ! 

There was a general start. Horror was depicted on every 
countenance. 

‘^For moreT'' said Mr. Limbkins. “Compose yourself, 
Bumble, and answer me distinctly. Do I understand that 
he asked for more, after he had eaten the supper allotted by 
the dietary.^” 

“He did, sir,^’ replied Bumble. 

“That boy will be hung,’’ said the gentleman in the white 
waistcoat. “I know that boy will be hung.” 

Nobody controverted the prophetic gentleman's opinion. 
An animated discussion took place. Oliver was ordered into 
instant confinement; and a bill was next morning pasted on 
the outside of the gate, oftering a reward of five pounds to 
anybody who would take Oliver Twist off the hands of the 
parish. In other words, five pounds and Oliver Twist were 
offered to any man or woman who wanted an apprentice to 
any trade, business, or calling. 

“ I never was more convinced of anything in my life,” said 
the gentleman in the white waistcoat, as he knocked at the 
gate and read the bill next morning: “I never was more 
convinced of anything in my life, than I am that that boy 
will come to be hung.” 

As I purpose to show in the sequel whether the white- 
waistcoated gentleman was right or not, I should perhaps mar 
the interest of this narrative (supposing it to possess any at 
all), if I ventured to hint just yet, whether the life of Oliver 
Twist had this violent termination or no. 









i 




A RIGHT PLEASANT TRADE. 19 

of soot with which the little cart was laden ; so, without 
noticing the word of command, he jogged onward. 

Mr. Gamfield growled a fierce imprecation on the donkey 
generally, But ftiore particularly on his eyes ; and, running 
after him, bestowed a blow on his head, which would inevitably 
have beaten in any skull but a donkey’s. Then, catching 
hold of the bridle, he gave his jaw a sharp wrench, by way 
of gentle reminder that he was not his own master; and by 
these means turned him round. He then gave him another 
blow on the head, just to stun him till he came back again. 
Having completed these arrangements, he walked up to the 
gate, to read the bill. 

The gentleman with the white waistcoat was standing at 
the gate with his hands behind him, after having delivered 
himself of some profound sentiments in the board-room. 
Having witnessed the little dispute between Mr. Gamfield and 
the donkey, he smiled joyously when that person came up to 
read the bill, for he saw at once that Mr. Gamfield was 
exactly the sort of master Oliver Twist wanted. Mr. Gamfield 
smiled, too, as he perused the document ; for five pounds was 
just the sum he had been wishing for;* and, as to the boy 
with which it was encumbered, Mr. Gamfield, knowing what 
the dietary of the workhouse was, Vv^ell knew he would be a 
nice small pattern, just the very thing for register stoves. So, 
he spelt the bill through again, from beginning to end; and 
then, touching his fur cap in token of humility, accosted the 
gentleman in the white waistcoat. 

“ This here boy, sir, wot the parish wants to ’prentis,” said 
Mr. Gamfield. 

‘^Ay, my man,” said the gentleman in the white waistcoat, 
with a condescending smile. What of him ? ” 

^^If the parish vould like him to learn a right pleasant 
trade, in a good ’spectable chimbley-sweepin’ bisness,” said 
Mr. Gamfield, “ I wants a ’prentis, and I am ready to take 
him.” 

^^Walk in,” said the gentleman in the white waistcoat.' 


20 


OLIVER TWIST. 


Mr. Gamfield having lingered behind, to give the donkey 
another blow on the head, and another wrench of the jaw, 
as a caution not to run away in his absence, followed the 
gentleman with the white waistcoat into the room where Oliver 
had first seen him. 

“It’s a nasty trade,” said Mr. Limbkins, when Gamfield 
had again stated his wish. 

“Young boys have been smothered in chimneys before now,” 
said another gentleman. 

“That’s acause they damped the straw afore they lit it in 
the chimbley to make ’em come down agin,” said Gamfield; 
“ that’s all smoke, and no blaze ; vereas smoke ain’t o’ no use 
at all in making a boy come down, for it only sinds him to 
sleep, and that’s wot he likes. Boys is wery obstinit, and wery 
lazy, gen’lmen, and there’s nothink like a good hot blaze to 
make ’em come down vith a run. It’s humane too, gen’lmen, 
acause, even if they’ve stuck in the chimbley, roasting their 
feet makes ’em struggle to hextricate theirselves.” 

The gentleman in the white waistcoat appeared very much 
amused by this explanation; but his mirth was speedily 
checked by a look from Mr. Limbkins. The board then 
proceeded to converse among themselves for a few minutes, 
but in so low a tone, that the words “ saving of expenditure,” 
“looked well in the accounts,” “have a printed report pub- 
lished,” were alone audible. These only chanced to be heard, 
indeed, on account of their being very frequently repeated 
with great emphasis. 

At length the whispering ceased; and the members of the 
board, having resumed their seats and their solemnity, Mr. 
Limbkins said : 

“We have considered your proposition, and we don’t 
approve of it.” 

“Not at all,” said the gentleman in the white waistcoat. 

“Decidedly not,” added the other members. 

As Mr. Gamfield did happen to labour under the slight 
imputation of having bruised three or four boys to death 


ALMOST APPRENTICED. 


21 


already, it occurred to him that the board had, perhaps, in 
some unaccountable freak, taken it into their heads that this 
extraneous circumstance ought to influence their proceedings. 
It was very unlike their general mode of doing business, if 
they had ; but still, as he had no particular wish to revive 
the rumour, he twisted his cap in his hands, and walked 
slowly from the table. 

‘^So you won't let me have him, gen'lmen.^" said ]VIi\ 
Gamfield, pausing near the door. 

“No," replied Mr. Limbkins; “at least, as it's a nasty 
business, we think you ought to take something less than 
the premium we offered." 

Mr. Gamfield's countenance brightened, as, with a quick 
step, he returned to the table, and said, 

“ What'll you give, gen'lmen ? Come ! Don't be too hard 
on a poor man. What'll you give ? " 

“I should say, three pound ten was plenty," said Mr. 
Limbkins. 

“Ten shillings too much," said the gentleman in the white 
waistcoat. 

“Come!" said Gamfield; “say four pound, gen'lmen. 
Say four pound, and you've got rid on him for good and 
all. There!" 

“Three pound ten," repeated Mr. Limbkins, firmly. 

“ Come ! I'll split the difference, gen'lmen," urged Gamfield. 
“Three pound fifteen." 

“ Not a farthing more," was the firm reply of Mr. Limbkins. 

“ You're desperate hard upon me, gen'lmen," said Gamfield, 
wavering. 

“ Pooh ! pooh ! nonsense ! " said the gentleman in the 
white waistcoat. “ He'd be cheap with nothing at all, as a 
premium. Take him, you silly fellow ! He's just the boy 
for you. He wants the stick, now and then : it'll do him 
good; and his board needn't come very expensive, for he 
hasn't been over-fed since he was bom. Ha ! ha ! ha ! " 

Mr. Gamfield gave an arch look at the faces round the 


OLIVER TWIST. 


00 

table, and, observing a smile. on all of them, gradually broke 
into a smile himself. The bargain was made. Mr. Bumble 
was at once instructed that Oliver Twist and his indentures 
were to be conveyed before the magistrate, for signature and 
approval, that very afternoon. 

In pursuance of this determination, little Oliver, to his 
excessive astonishment, was released from bondage, and ordered 
to put himself into a clean shirt. He had hardly achieved 
this very unusual gymnastic performance, when Mr. Bumble 
brought him, with his own hands, a basin of gruel, and the 
holiday allowance of two ounces and a quarter of bread. At 
this tremendous sight, Oliver began to cry very piteously: 
thinking, not unnaturally, that the board must have determined 
to kill him for some useful purpose, or they never would have 
begun to fatten him up in that way. 

Don’t make your eyes red, Oliver, but eat your food and 
be thankful,” said Mr. Bumble, in a tone of impressive pom- 
posity. ^‘You’re a going to be made a ’prentice of, Oliver.” 

. “ A ’prentice, sir ! ” said the child, trembling. 

‘^Yes, Oliver,” said Mr. Bumble. ^^The kind and blessed 
gentlemen which is so many parents to you, Oliver, when 
you have none of your own : are a going to ’prentice you : 
and to set you up in life, and make a man of you : although 
the expense to the parish is three pound ten ! — three pound 
ten, Oliver ! — seventy shillins — one hundred and forty 
sixpences ! — and all for a naughty oi’phan which nobody 
can’t love.” 

As Mr. Bumble paused to take breath, after delivering this 
address in an awful voice, the tears rolled down the poor 
child’s face, and he sobbed bitterly. 

Come,” said Mr. Bumble, somewhat less pompously, for 
it was gratifying to his feelings to observe the effect his 
eloquence had produced ; ‘‘ Come, Oliver ! Wipe your eyes 
with the cuffs of your jacket, and don’t cry into your gruel ; 
that’s a very foolish action, Oliver.” It certainly was, for 
there was quite enough water in it already. 


23 


BUT NOT QUITE. 

On their way to the magistrate, Mr, Bumble instructed 
Oliver ^:hat all he would have to do, would be to look very 
happy, and say, when the gentleman asked him if he wanted 
to be apprenticed, that he should like it very much indeed ; 
both of which injunctions Oliver promised to obey : the rather 
as Mr. Bumble threw in a gentle hint, that if he failed in 
either particular, there was no telling what would be done 
to him. When they arrived at the office, he was shut up in 
a little room by himself, and admonished by Mr. Bumble to 
stay there, until he came back to fetch him. 

There the boy remained, with a palpitating heart, for half 
an hour. At the expiration of which time Mr. Bumble thrust 
in his head, unadorned with the cocked hat, and said aloud : 

“Now, Oliver, my dear, come to the gentleman.*’*’ As Mr. 
Bumble said this, he put on a grim and threatening look, 
and added, in a low voice, “ Mind what I told you, you young 
rascal ! ’*’ 

Oliver stared innocently in Mr. Bumble’s face at this some- 
what contradictory style of address; but that gentleman 
prevented his offering any remark thereupon, by leading him 
at once into an adjoining room : the door of which was open. 
It was a large room, with a great window. Behind a desk, 
sat two old gentlemen with powdered heads : one of whom 
was reading the newspaper; while the other was perusing, 
with the aid of a pair of tortoise-shell spectacles, a small 
piece of parchment which lay before him. Mr. Limbkins was 
standing in front of the desk on one side ; and Mr. Gamfield, 
with a partially washed face, on the other; while two or 
three bluff-looking men, in top-boots, were lounging about. 

The old gentleman with the spectacles gradually dozed off, 
over the little bit of parchment ; and there was a short pause, 
after Oliver had been stationed by Mr. Bumble in front of 
the desk. 

“ This is the boy, your worship,*” said Mr. Bumble. 

The old gentleman who was reading the newspaper raised 
his head for a moment, and pulled the other old gentleman 


24 OLIVER TWIST. 

by the sleeve; whereupon, the last-mentioned old ge man 
woke up. 

Oh, is this the boy ? ’’ said the old gentleman. 

“This is him, sir,’’ replied Mr. Bumble. “Bow the 
magistrate, my dear.” 

Oliver roused himself, and made his best obeisan He 
had been wondering, with his eyes fixed on the magistrates’ 
powder, whether all boards were born with that white stuff 
on their heads, and were boards from thenceforth on that 
account. 

“Well,” said the old gentleman, “I suppose he’s fond of 
chimney-sweeping ? ” 

“ He doats on it, your worship,” replied Bumble ; giving 
Oliver a sly pinch, to intimate that he had better not say 
he didn’t. 

“And he will be a sweep, will he?” inquired the old 
gentleman. 

“If we was to bind him to any other trade to-morrow, 
he’d run away simultaneous, your worship,” replied Bumble. 

“ And this man that’s to be his master — ^you, sir — ^you’ll ■ 
treat him well, and feed him, and do all that sort of thing, 
w ill you ? ” said the old gentleman. 

“ When I says I will, I means I will,” replied Mr. Gamfield 
doggedly. 

“ You’re a rough speaker, my friend, but you look an honest, 
open-hearted man,” said the old gentleman : turning his 
spectacles in the direction of the candidate for Oliver’s premium, 
whose villanous countenance was a regular stamped receipt 
for cruelty. But the magistrate was half blind and half 
childish, so he couldn’t reasonably be expected to discern 
what other people did. 

“I hope I am, sir,” said Mr. Gamfield, with an ugly leer. 

“I have no doubt you are, my friend,” replied the old 
gentleman : fixing his spectacles more firmly on his nose, and 
looking about him for the inkstand. 

It was the critical moment of Oliver’s fate. If the inkstand 


OLIVER OVERCOME BY KINDNESS. 


25 


had been where the old gentleman thought it was, he would 
have dipped his pen into it, and signed the indentures, and 
t^liver would have been straightway hurried off* But, as it 
cihaiced to be immediately under his nose, it followed, as a 
ma ter of course, that he looked all over his desk for it, 
without finding it ; and happening in the course of his search 
to look straight before him, his gaze encountered the pale and 
terrified face of Oliver Twist : who, despite all the admonitory 
looks and pinches of Bumble, was regarding the repulsive 
countenance of his future master, with a mingled expression 
of horror and fear, too palpable to be mistaken, even by a 
half-blind magistrate. 

The old gentleman stopped, laid down his pen, and looked 
from Oliver to Mr. Limbkins ; who attempted to take snuff* 
with a cheerful and unconcerned aspect. 

My boy ! said the old gentleman, leaning over the desk. 
Oliver started at the sound. He might be excused for doing 
so : for the words were kindly said ; and strange sounds 
frighten one. He trembled violently, and burst into tears. 

My boy ! said the old gentleman, you look pale and 
alarmed. What is the matter ? 

“Stand a little away from him. Beadle,"’ said the other 
magistrate : laying aside the paper, and leaning forward with 
an expression of interest. “Now, boy, tell us what’s the 
matter: don’t be afraid.” 

Oliver fell on his knees, and claj^ping his hands together, 
prayed that they would order him back to the dark room — 
that they would starve him — beat him — kill him if they 
pleased — rather than send him away with that dreadful man. 

“ Well ! ” said Mr. Bumble, raising his hands and eyes with 
most impressive solemnity, “ W ell ! of all the artful and 
designing orphans that ever I see, Oliver, you are one of the 
most bare-facedest.” 

“ Hold your tongue. Beadle,” said the second old gentle- 
man, when Mr. Bumble had given vent to this compound 
adjective. 


^6 OLIVER TWIST. 

beg your worship'^s pardon,’’’ said Mr. Bum cred?:- 
lous of his having heard ^aright. ^^Did your w( ; j)eak 
to me ? ” 

Yes. Hold your tongue.” 

Mr. Bumble was stupefied with astonishment. Xxjdle 
ordered to hold his tongue ! A moral revolution ! 

The old gentleman in the tortoise-shell specta )oked 
at his companion, he nodded significantly. 

«We refuse to sanction these indentures,” sai • old 
gentleman : tossing aside the piece of parchment as )oke. 

I hope,” stammered Mr. Limbkins : I hope Lxt magis- 
trates will not form the opinion that the authorities have 
been guilty of any improper conduct, on the unsupported 
testimony of a mere child.” 

The magistrates are not called upon to pronounce any 
opinion on the matter,” said the second old gentleman sharply. 

Take the boy back to the workhouse, and treat him kindly. 
He seems to want it.” 

That same evening, the gentleman in the white waistcoat 
most positively and decidedly affirmed, not only that Oliver 
would be hung, but that he would be drawn and quartered 
into the bargain. Mr. Bumble shook his head with gloomy 
mystery, and said he wished he might come to good; where- 
unto Mr. Gamfield replied, that he wished he might come 
to him; which, although he agreed with the beadle in most 
matters, would seem to be a wish of a totally opposite 
description. 

The next morning, the public were once more informed 
that Oliver Twist was again To Let, and that five pounds 
would be paid to anybody who would take possession of him. 






CHAPTER IV. 


OLIVER, BEING OFFERED ANOTHER PLACE, MAKES HIS FIRST 
ENTRY INTO PUBLIC IJFE. 

In great families, when an advantageous place cannot be 
obtained, either in possession, reversion, remainder, or expec- 
tancy, for the young man who is growing up, it is a very 
general custom to send him to sea. The board, in imitation 
of so wise and salutary an example, took counsel together on 
the expediency of shipping off Oliver Twist, in some small 
trading vessel bound to a good unhealthy port. This suggested 
itself as the very best thing that could possibly be done with 
him : the probability being, that the skipper would flog him 
to death, in a playful mood, some day after dinner, or would 
knock his brains out with an iron bar ; both pastimes being, 
as is pretty generally known, very favourite and common 
recreations among gentlemen of that class. The more the 
case presented itself to the board, in this point of view, the 
more manifold the advantages of the step appeared ; so, they 
came to the conclusion that the only way of providing for 
Oliver effectually, was to send him to sea without delay. 

Mr. Bumble had been despatched to make various preliminary 
inquiries, with the view of finding out some captain or other 
who wanted a cabin-boy without any friends; and was re- 
turning to the workhouse to communicate the result of his 
mission; when he encountered at the gate, no less a person 
than Mr. Sowerberry, the parochial undertaker. 


28 


OLIVER TWIST. 


iNIr. SowerbeiTy was a tall, gaunt, large-jointed man, attired 
in a suit of threadbare black, with darned cotton stockings 
of the same colour, and shoes to answer. His features were 
not naturally intended to wear a smiling aspect, but he was 
in general rather given to professional jocosity. His step 
was elastic, and his face betokened inward pleasantry, as he 
advanced to Mr. Bumble, and shook him cordially by the 
hand. 

“I have taken the measure of the two women that died 
last night, Mr. Bumble,” said the undertaker. 

‘^You’ll make your fortune, Mr. Sowerberry,” said the 
beadle, as he thrust his thumb and forefinger into the 
proffered snuff-box of the undertaker : which was an ingenious 
little model of a patent coffin. ‘^I say you’ll make your 
fortune, Mr. Sowerberry,” repeated Mr. Bumble, tapping the 
undertaker on the shoulder, in a friendly manner, with his 
cane. 

Think so.^” said the undertaker in a tone which half 
admitted and half disputed the probability of the event. 

The prices allowed by the board are very small, Mr. Bumble.” 

So are the coffins,” replied the beadle : wth precisely as 
near an approach to a laugh as a great official ought to 
indulge in. 

Mr. Sowerberry was much tickled at this : as of course he 
ought to be; and laughed a long time without cessation. 
‘‘Well, well, Mr. Bumble,” he said at length, “there’s no 
denying that, since the new system of feeding has come in, 
the coffins are something narrower and more shallow than 
they used to be ; but we must have some profit, Mr. Bumble. 
Well-seasoned timber is an expensive article, sir; and all 
the iron handles come, by canal, from Birmingham.” 

“ Well, well,” said Mr. Bumble, “ every trade has its draw- 
backs. A fair profit is, of course, allowable.” 

“ Of course, of course,” replied the undertaker ; “ and if I 
don’t get a profit upon this or that particular article, why, 
I make it up in the long-run, you see — he ! he ! he ! ” 


ANOTHER PLACE OFFERS. 


29 


Just so,’’ said Mr. Bumble. 

Though I must say,” continued the undertaker, resuming 
the current of observations which the beadle had interrupted : 

though I must say, Mr. Bumble, that I have to contend 
against one very great disadvantage : which is, that all the 
stout people go off the quickest. The people who have been 
better off*, and have paid rates for many years, are the first to 
sink when they come into the house ; and let me tell you, Mr. 
Bumble, that three or four inches over one’s calculation 
makes a great hole in one’s profits; especially when one has 
a family to provide for, sir.” 

As Mr. Sowerberry said this, with the becoming indignation 
of an ill-used man ; and as Mr. Bumble felt that it rather 
tended to convey a reflection on the honour of the parish ; the 
latter gentleman thought it advisable to change the subject. 
Oliver Twist being uppermost in his mind, he made him his 
theme. 

By the bye,” said Mr. Bumble, “ you don’t know anybody 
who wants a boy, do you ? A porochial ’prentis, who is at 
present a deadweight; a millstone, as I may say; round the 
porochial throat ? Liberal terms, Mr. Sowerberry, liberal 
terms ! ” As Mr. Bumble spoke, he raised his cane to the 
bill above him, and gave three distinct raps upon the words 
five pounds : ” which were printed thereon in Roman capitals 
of gigantic size. 

Gadso ! ” said the undertaker : taking Mr. Bumble by 
the gilt-edged lappel of his official coat; ‘Hhat’s just the very 
thing I wanted to speak to you about. You know — dear 
me, what a very elegant button this is, Mr. Bumble ! I never 
noticed it before.” 

Yes, I think it is rather pretty,” said the beadle, glancing 
proudly downwards at the large brass buttons which embellished 
his coat. ^^The die is the same as the porochial seal — the 
Good Samaritan healing the sick and bruised man. The 
board presented it to me on New-year’s morning, Mr. Sower- 
berry. I put it on, I remember, for the first time, to attend 


30 OLIVER TWIST. 

th st on that reduced tradesman, who died in a doorway 

iiight.*’’ 

. recollect,” said the undertaker. ^‘The jury brought it 

^ Died from exposure to the cold, and v/ant of the common 
lecessaries of life,‘‘ didn'^t they ? ” 

Mr. Bumble nodded. 

“And they made it a special verdict, I think,” said the 
undertaker, “by adding some words to the effect, that if the 
relieving officer had ” 

“ Tush ! Foolery ! ” interposed the beadle. “ If the board 
attended to all the nonsense that ignorant jurymen talk, 
they’^d have enough to do.” 

“Very true,” said the undertaker; “they would indeed.” 

“Juries,” said Mr. Bumble, grasping his cane tightly, as 
was his wont when working into a passion : “juries is ineddi- 
cated, vulgar, grovelling wretches.” 

“ So they are,” said the undertaker. 

“They haven’t no more philosophy nor political economy 
about ’em than that,” said the beadle, snapping his fingers 
contemptuousl)^ 

“No more they have,” acquiesced the undertaker. 

“ I despise ’em,” said the beadle, growing very red in the 
face. 

“ So do I,” rejoined the undertaker. 

“ And I only wish we’d a jury of the independent sort, in 
the fiouse for a week or two,” said the beadle; “the rules 
and regulations of the board v/ould soon bring their spirit 
down for ’em.” 

“Let ’em alone for that,” replied the undertaker. So 
saying, he smiled, approvingly : to calm the rising wrath of 
the indignant parish officer. 

Mr. Bumble lifted off* his cocked hat; took a handkerchief 
from the inside of the crown; wiped from his forehead the 
perspiration which his rage had engendered ; fixed the cocked 
hat on again; and, turning to the undertaker, said in a 
calmer voice : 


TAKEN UPON LIKING. 


‘‘ Well ; what about the boy ? ’’ 

Oh ! replied the undertaker ; why, you know, Mr. 
Bumble, I pay a good deal towards the poor'^s rates.**’ 

Hem ! ” said Mr. Bumble. Well .? ” 

^^Well,” replied the undertaker, ^‘1 was thinking that if 
I pay so much towards ’em, I’ve a right to get as much out 
of ’em as I can, Mr. Bumble ; and so — and so — I think I’ll 
take the boy myself.” 

Mr. Bumble grasped the undertaker by the arm, and led 
him into the building. Mr. Sowerberry was closeted with 
the board for five minutes; and it was arranged that Oliver 
should go to him that evening ^^upon liking” — a phrase 
which means, in the case of a parish apprentice, that if the 
master find, upon a short trial, that he can get enough work 
out of a boy without putting too much food into him, he 
shall have him for a term of years, to do what he likes with. 

When little Oliver was taken before “the gentlemen” that 
evening; and informed that he was to go, that night, as 
general house-lad to a coffin-maker’s; and that if he com- 
plained of his situation, or ever came back to the parish again, 
he would be sent to sea, there to be drowned, or knocked on 
the head, as the case might be, he evinced so little emotion, 
that they by common consent pronounced him a hardened 
young rascal, and ordered Mr. Bumble to remove him forth- 
with. 

Now, although it was very natural that the board, of all 
people in the world, should feel in a great state of virtuous 
astonishment and horror at the smallest tokens of want of 
feeling on the part of anybody, they were rather out, in this 
particular instance. The simple fact was, that Oliver, instead 
of possessing too little feeling, possessed rather too much; 
and was in a fair way of being reduced, for life, to a state 
of brutal stupidity and sullenness by the ill usage he had 
received. He heard the news of his destination, in perfect 
silence; and, having had his luggage put into his hand — 
which was not very .difficult to carry, inasmuch as it was all 


OLIVER TWIST. 

comprised within the limits of a brown paper parcel, about 
half a foot square by three inches deep — he pulled his cap 
over his eyes; and once more attaching himself to Mr. 
Bumble'^s coat cuff, was led away by that dignitary to a new 
scene of suffering. 

For some time, Mr. Bumble drew Oliver along, without 
notice or remark ; for the beadle carried his head very erect, as 
a beadle always should : and, it being a windy day, little Oliver 
was completely enshrouded by the skirts of Mr. Bumble's 
coat as they blew open, and disclosed to great advantage his 
flapped waistcoat and drab plush knee-breeches. As they 
drew near to their destination, however, Mr. Bumble thought 
it expedient to look down, and see that the boy was in good 
order for inspection by his new master : which he accordingly 
did, with a fit and becoming air of gracious patronage. 

Oliver ! " said Mr. Bumble. 

‘^Yes, sir," replied Oliver, in a low, tremulous voice. 

“ Pull that cap off your eyes, and hold up your head, sir." 

Although Oliver did as he was desired, at once ; and passed 
the back of his unoccupied hand briskly across his eyes, he 
left a tear in them when he looked up at his conductor. As 
Mr. Bumble gazed sternly upon him, it rolled down his 
cheek. It was followed by another, and another. The child 
made a strong effort, but it was an unsuccessful one. With- 
drawing his other hand from Mr. Bumble's, he covered his 
face with both; and wept until the tears sprung out from 
between his chin and bony fingers. 

“ Well ! " exclaimed Mr. Bumble, stopping short, and dart- 
ing at his little charge a look of intense malignity. ^^Well! 
Of all the ungratefullest, and worst-disposed boys as ever I 
see, Oliver, you are the " 

‘^No, no, sir," sobbed Oliver, clinging to the hand which 
held the well-known cane; ^^no, no, sir; I will be good 
indeed ; indeed, indeed I will, sir ! I am a very little boy, 
sir; and it is so — so — " 

^^So what.^" inquired Mr. Bumble in amazement. 


HIS NEW HOME. 


33 


“ So lonely, sir ! So very lonely ! ’’ cried the child. Every- 
body hates me. Oh ! sir, don’t, don’t pray be cross to me ! ” 
The child beat his hand upon his heart; and looked in his 
companion’s face, with tears of real agony. 

Mr. Bumble regarded Oliver’s piteous and helpless look, 
with some astonishment, for a few seconds; hemmed three 
or four times in a husky manner ; and, after muttering some- 
thing about “that troublesome cough,” bade Oliver dry his 
eyes and be a good boy. Then once more taking his hand, 
he walked on with him in silence. 

The undertaker, who had just put up the shutters of his 
shop, was making some entries in his day-book by the light of 
a most appropriate dismal candle, when Mr. Bumble entered. 

“ Aha ! ” said the undertaker : looking up from the book, 
and pausing in the middle of a word ; “ is that you, Bumble ? ” 

“ No one else, Mr. Sowerberry,” replied the beadle. “ Here ! 
I’ve brought the boy.” Oliver made a bow. 

“ Oh ! that’s the boy, is it ? ” said the undertaker : raising 
the candle above his head, to get a better view of Oliver. 
“Mrs. Sowerberry, will you have the goodness to come here 
a moment, my dear.^” 

Mrs. Sowerberry emerged from a little room behind the 
shop, and presented the form of a short, thin, squeezed-up 
woman, with a vixenish countenance. 

“My dear,” said Mr. Sowerberry, deferentially, “this is 
the boy from the workhouse that I told you of.” Oliver 
bowed again. 

“ Dear me ! ” said the undertaker’s wife, “ he’s very small.” 

“ Why, he is rather small,” replied Mr. Bumble : looking 
at Oliver as if it were his fault that he was no bigger; “he 
is small. There’s no denying it. But he’ll grow, Mrs. Sower- 
berry — She’ll grow.” 

“ Ah ! I dare say he will,” replied the lady pettishly, 
“on our victuals and our drink. I see no saving in parish 
children, not I ; for they always cost more to keep, than 
theyVe worth. However, men always think they know best. 

D 

/' ■ 


34 


OLIVER TWIST 


There ! Get down stairs, little bag o" bones/’ With this, 
the undertaker’s wife opened a side door, and pushed Oliver 
down a steep flight of staii’s into a stone cell, damp and 
dark : forming the ante-room to the coal-cellar, and denomi- 
nated kitchen : ” wherein sat a slatternly girl, in shoes down 
at heel, and blue worsted stockings very much out of repair. 

“ Here, Charlotte,” said Mrs. Sowerberry, who had followed 
Oliver down, “give this boy some of the cold bits that were 
put by for Trip. He hasn’t come home since the morning, 
so he may go without ’em. I dare say the boy isn’t too 
dainty to eat ’em, — are you, boy ? ” 

Oliver, whose eyes had glistened at the mention of meat, 
and who was trembling with eagerness to devour it. replied in 
the negative; and a plateful of coarse broken victuals was 
set before him. 

I wish some well-fed philosopher, whose meat and drink turn 
to gall within him ; whose blood is ice, whose heart is iron ; 
could have seen Oliver Twist clutching at the dainty viands 
that the dog had * neglected. I wish he could have witnessed 
the horrible avidity with which Oliver tore the bits asunder 
with all the ferocity of famine. There is only one thing I 
should like better; and that would be to see the Philosopher 
making the same sort of meal himself, with the same relish. 

Well,” said the undertaker’s wife, when Oliver had finished 
his supper: which she had regarded in silent horror, and 
with fearful auguries of his future appetite : “ have you done ? ” 
There being nothing eatable within his reach, Oliver replied 
in the affirmative. 

“ Then come with me,” said Mrs. Sowerberry : taking up 
a dim and dirty lamp, and leading the way up stairs ; “ your 
bed’s under the counter. You don’t mind sleeping among 
the coffins, I suppose? But it doesn’t much matter whether 
you do or don’t, for you can’t sleep anywhere else. Come; 
don’t keep me here all night ! ” 

Oliver lingered no longer, but meekly followed his new 
mistress. 


CHAPTER V. 


OLIVER MINGLES WITH NEW ASSOCIATES. GOING TO A FUNERAL 
FOR THE FIRST TIME, HE FORMS AN UNFAVOURABLE NOTION 
OF HIS mastery's business. 

Oliver, being left to himself in the undertaker'^s shop, set 
the lamp down on a workman'^s bench, and gazed timidly 
about him with a feeling of aw^e and dread, which many 
people a good deal older than he, will be at no loss to under- 
stand. An unfinished coffin on black tressels, which stood 
in the middle of the shop, looked so gloomy and death-like 
that a cold tremble came over him, every time his eyes 
wandered in the direction of the dismal object: from which 
he almost expected to see some frightful form slowly rear its 
head, to drive him mad with terror. Against the wall were 
ranged, in regular array, a long row of elm boards cut into 
the same shape : looking in the dim light, like high-shouldered 
ghosts with their hands in their breeches-pockets. Coffin- 
plates, elm-chips, bright-headed nails, and shreds of black 
cloth, lay scattered on the floor; and the wall behind the 
counter was ornamented with a lively representation of two 
mutes in very stiff neckcloths, on duty at a large private 
door, with a hearse drawn by four black steeds, approaching 
in the distance. The shop v/as close and hot. The atmo- 
sphere seemed tainted with the smell of coffins. The recess 
beneath the counter in which his flock mattress was thrust, 
looked like a grave. 


OLIVIER TWIST. 


Nor were these the oiJy dismal feelings which depressed 
Oliver. He was alone in a strange place ; and we all know 
how chilled and desolate the best of us will sometimes feel 
in such a situation. Tne boy had no friends to care for, or 
to care for him. The regret of no recent separation was fresh 
in his mind; the absence of no loved and well-remembered 
face sank heavily into his heart. But his heart was heavy, 
notwithstanding; and he wished, as he crept into his narrow 
bed, that that were his coffin, and that he could be lain in 
a calm and lasting sleep in the church-yard ground, with the 
tall grass waving gently above his head, and the sound of 
the old deep bell to soothe him in his sleep. 

Oliver was awakened in the morning, by a loud kicking at 
the outside of the shop-door: which, before he could huddle 
on his clothes, was repeated, in an angiy and impetuous 
manner, about twenty-five times. When he began to undo 
the chain, the legs desisted, and a voice began. 

Open the door, will yer ? ” cried the voice which belonged 
to the legs which had kicked at the door. 

I will, directly, sir,’’ replied Oliver : undoing the chain, 
and turning the key. 

“I suppose yer the new boy, ain’t yer.^” said the voice 
through the key-hole. 

‘‘Yes, sir,” replied Oliver. 

“How old are yer.^^” inquired the voice. 

“Ten, sir,” replied Oliver. 

“ Then I’ll whop yer when I get in,” said the voice ; “ you 
just see if I don’t, that’s all, my work’us brat!” and having 
made this obliging promise, the voice began to whistle. 

Oliver had been too often subjected to the process to which 
the very expressive monosyllable just recorded bears reference, 
to entertain the smallest doubt that the owner o'* voice, 
whoever he might be, would redeem his pledge, n onour- 
ably. He drew back the bolts with a tremblir id, and 
opened the door. 

For a second or two, Oliver glanced up th et, and 


MR. NOAH CLAYPOLE. 


37 


down the street, and over the way : impressed with the belief 
that the unknown, who had addressed him through the key- 
hole, had walked a few paces off, to warm himself ; for nobody 
did he see but a big charity-boy, sitting on a post in front 
of the house, eating a slice of bread and butter ; which he 
cut into wedges, the size of his mouth, with a clasp knife, 
and then consumed with great dexterity. 

“ I beg your pardon, sir,*’’ said Oliver at length : seeing 
that no other visitor made his appearance; ‘^did you 
knock ? ’’’’ 

I kicked,” replied the charity-boy. 

Did you want a coffin, sir ? ” inquired Oliver, innocently. 

At this the charity-boy looked monstrous fierce; and said 
that Oliver would want one before long, if he cut jokes 
with his superiors in that way. 

^^Yer don’t know who I am, I suppose, Work’us.^” said 
the charity-boy, in continuation : descending from the top of 
the post, meanwhile, with edifying gravity. 

‘^No, sir,” rejoined Oliver. 

‘^Pm J ester Noah C lavpole>” said the charity-boy, ‘^and 
you’re under me. Take down the shutters, yer idle young 
ruffian ! ” With this, Mr. Claypole administered a kick to 
Oliver, and entered the shop with a dignified air, which did 
him 'great credit. It is difficult for a large-headed, small- 
eyed youth, of lumbering make and heavy countenance, to 
look dignified under any circumstances ; but it is more 
especially so, when superadded to these personal attractions 
are a red nose and yellow smalls. 

Oliver, having taken down the shutters, and broken a pane 
of glass in his efforts to stagger away beneath the weight of 
the first one to a small court at the side of the house in 
which they were kept during the day, was graciously assisted 
by Noah : who having oled him with the assurance that 
^‘he’d catch it,” condt ^d to help him. Mr. Sowerberry 

came down soon after. *'tly afterwards, Mrs. Sowerberry 

appeared? Oliver havin ught it,” in fulfilment of Noah’s 


38 OLIVER TWIST. 

prediction, followed that young gentleman down the stairs to 
breakfast. 

Come near the fire, Noah,*’’ said Charlotte. I saved a 
nice little bit of bacon for you from master’s breakfast. 
Oliver, shut that door at Mister Noah’s back, and take them 
bits that I’ve put out on the cover of the bread-pan. There’s 
your tea; take it away to that box, and drink it there, and 
make haste, for they’ll want you to mind the shop. D’ye 
hear ? ” 

“ D’ye hear, W ork’us ? ” said Noah Claypole. 

“ Lor, Noah ! ” said Charlotte, what a rum creature you 
are ! Why don’t you let the boy alone?” 

Let him alone ! ” said Noah. Why ^everybody lets him 
alone enough, for the matter of that. Neither his father 
nor his mother will ever interfere with him. All his relations 
let him have his own way pretty well. Eh, Charlotte ? He ! 
he! he!” 

Oh, you queer soul ! ” said Charlotte, bursting into a 
hearty laugh, in which she was joined by Noah; after which 
they both looked scornfully at poor Oliver Twist, as he sat 
shivering on the box in the coldest corner of the room, and 
ate the stale pieces which had been specially reserved for him. 

Noah was a charity-boy, but not a workhouse orphan. 
No chance-child was he, for he could trace his genealogy all 
the way back to his parents, who lived hard by; his mother 
being a washerwoman, and his father a drunken soldier, 
discharged with a wooden leg, and a diurnal pension of 
twopence-halfpenny and an unstateable iraction. The shop- 
boys in the neighbourhood had long been in the habit of 
branding Noah, in the public streets, with the ignominious 
epithets of ‘^leathers,” charity,” and the like; and Noah 
had borne them without reply. But, now that fortune had 
cast in his way a nameless orphan, at whom even the meanest 
could point the finger of scorn, he retorted on him with 
interest. This affords charming food for contemplation. It 
shows us what a beautiful thing human nature may be made 


A SHORT ALTERCATION, 39 

to be; and how impartially the same amiable qualities are 
developed in the finest lord and the dirtiest charity-boy. 

Oliver had been sojourning at the undertaker'^s some three, 
weeks or a month. Mr. and Mrs. Sowerberry — the shop! 
being shut up — were taking their supper in the little back-' 
parlour, when Mr. Sowerberry, after several deferential glances 
at his wife, said, 

‘^My dear — ’’ He was going to say more; but, Mrs. 
Sowerberry looking up, with a peculiarly unpropitious aspect, 
he stopped short. 

“Well,’’ said Mrs. Sowerberry, sharply. 

“Nothing, my dear, nothing,” said Mr. Sowerberry. 

“ Ugh, you brute ! ” said Mrs. Sowerberry. 

“Not at all, my dear,” said Mr. Sowerberry humbly. “I 
thought you didn’t want to hear, my dear. I was only going 
to say ” 

“ Oh, don’t tell me what you were going to say,” interposed 
Mvs. Sowerberry. “I am nobody; don’t consult me, pray. 
I don’t want to intrude upon your secrets.” As Mrs. Sower- 
berry said this, she gave an hysterical laugh, which threatened 
violent consequences. 

“But, my dear,” said Sowerberry, “I want to ask your 
advice.” 

“No, no, don’t ask mine,” replied Mrs. Sowerberry, in an 
affecting manner: “ask somebody else’s.” Here, there was 
another hysterical laugh, which frightened Mr. Sowerberry 
very much. This is a very common and much-approved 
matrimonial course of treatment, which is often very effective. 
It at once reduced Mr. Sowerberry to begging, as a special 
favour, to be allowed to say what Mrs. Sowerberry was most 
curious to hear. After a short altercation of less than three 
quarters of an hour’s duration, the permission was most 
graciously conceded. 

“It’s only about young Twist, my dear,” said Mr. Sower- 
berry. “ A very-good-looking boy, that, my dear.” 

“ He need be, for he eats enough,” observed 


40 


OLIVER TWIST. 


u rr] 


There's an expression of melancholy in his face, my dear,"’ 
resumed Mr. Sowerberry, which is very interesting. He 
would make a delightful mute, my love."" 

Mrs. Sowerberry looked up with an expression of con- 
siderable wonderment. Mr. Sowerberry remarked it; and, 
without allowing time for any observation on the good lady"s 
part, proceeded. 

don't mean a regular mute to attend grown-up people, 
my dear, but only for children’s practice. It would be very 
new to have a mute in proportion, my dear. You may 
depend upon it, it would have a superb effect."" 

Mrs. Sowerberry, who had a good deal of taste in the 
undertaking way, was much struck by tbe novelty of this 
idea; but, as it would have been compromising her dignity 
to have said so, under existing circumstances, she merely 
inquired, with much sharpness, why such an obvious suggestion 
had not presented itself to her husband's mind before ? Mr. 
Sowerbeny rightly construed this, as an acquiescence in ^is 
proposition ; it was speedily determined, therefore, that Oliver 
should be at once initiated into the mysteries of the trade; 
and, with this view, that he should accompany his master on 
the very next occasion of his services being required. 

The occasion was not long in coming. Half an hour after 
breakfast next morning, Mr. Bumble entered the shop; and 
supporting his cane against the counter, drew forth his large 
leathern pocket-book : from which he selected a small scrap 
of paper, which he handed over to Sowerbeiry. 


Aha ! "" said the undertaker. 


glancing 


over it with a 


lively countenance ; an order for a coffin, eh ? "" 

‘^For a coffin first, and a porochial funeral afterM^ards,"’ 
replied Mr. Bumble, fastening the strap of the leathern 
pocket-book : which, like himself, was very corpulent. 

^‘Bayton,"" said the undertaker, looking from the scrap of 
paper to Mr. Bumble. ^^I never heard the name before."" 
Bumble shook his head, as he replied, Obstinate people, 
y ; very obstinate. Proud, too, Pm afraid, sir."" 


MR. BUMBLE INDIGNANT. 41 

I 

Proud, eh:/"'’ exclaimed Mr. Sowerberry with a sneer. 
‘^Come, that’s tio much.” 

‘^Oh, it’s sickening,” replied the beadle. Antimonial, 
Mr. Sowerberry ! ” 

So it is,” acquiesced the undertaker. 

‘‘We only heard of the family the night before last,” said 
the beadle ; “ and we shouldn’t have known anything about 
them, then, only a woman who lodges in the same house 
made an application to the porochial committee for them to 
send the porochial surgeon to see a woman as was very bad. 
He had gone out to dinner; but his ’prentice (which is a 
very clever lad) sent ’em some medicine in a blacking-bottle, 
off-hand.” 

“Ah, there’s promptness,” said the undertaker. 

“ Promptness, indeed ! ” replied the beadle. “ But what’s 
the consequence; what’s the ungrateful behaviour of these 
rebels, sir.^ Why, the husband sends back word that the 
medicine won’t suit his wife’s complaint, and so she shan’t 
take it — says she shan’t take it, sir! Good, strong, whole- 
some medicine, as was given with great success to two Irish 
labourers and a coalheaver, only a week before — sent ’em 
for nothing, with a blackin’-bottle in, — and he sends back 
word that she shan’t take it, sir ! ” 

As the atrocity presented itself to Mr. Bumble’s mind in 
full force, he struck the counter sharply with his cane, and 
became flushed with indignation. 

“Well,” said the undertaker, “I ne — ver — did ” 

“ Never did, sir ! ” ejaculated the beadle. “ No, nor nobody 
never did; but, now she’s dead, we’ve got to bury her; and 
that’s the direction ; and the sooner it’s done, the better.” 

I Thus saying, Mr. Bumble put on his cocked hat wrong 
side first, in a fever of parochial excitement; and flounced 
•' out of the shop. 

“ Why, he was so angry, Oliver, that he forgot even to ask 
after you ! ” said Mr. Sowerberry, looking after the beadle 
as he strode down the street. 


42 


OLIVER TWIST. 


“Yes, sir,’*^ replied Oliver, who had carefully kept himself 
out of sight, during the interview; and who was shaking 
from head to foot at the mere recollectior^ of the sound of 
Mr. Bumble'^s voice. He needn’t have taken the trouble to 
shrink from Mr. Bumble’s glance, however; for that func- 
tionary, on whom the prediction of the gentleman in the 
white waistcoat had made a very strong impression, thought 
that now the undertaker had got Oliver upon trial the subject 
was better avoided, until such time as he should be firmly 
bound for seven years, and all danger of his being returned 
upon the hands of the parish should be thus effectually and 
legally overcome. 

“Well,” said Mr. Sowerberry, taking up his hat, “the 
sooner this job is done, the better. Noah, look after the 
shop. Oliver, put on your cap, and come with me.” Oliver 
obeyed, and followed his master on his professional mission. 

They walked on, for some time, through the most crowded 
and densely inhabited part of the town ; and then, striking 
down a narrow street more dirty and miserable than any 
they had yet passed through, paused to look for the house 
which was the object of their search. The houses on either 
side were high and large, but very old, and tenanted by 
people of the poorest class: as their neglected appearance 
would have sufficiently denoted, without the concurrent 
testimony afforded by the squalid looks of the few men and 
women who, with folded arms and bodies half doubled, 
occasionally skulked along. A great many of the tenements 
had shop-fronts; but these were fast closed, and mouldering 
away ; only the upper rooms being inhabited. Some houses 
which had become insecure from age and decay, were prevented 
from falling into the street, by huge beams of wood reared 
against the walls, and firmly planted in the road ; but even 
these crazy dens seemed to have been selected as the nightly 
haunts of some houseless wretches, for many of the rough 
boards which supplied the place of dc d window, were 
wrenched from their positions^ to affb aperture wide 


THANKI. 


5RISM. 


enough for the passage i 
stagnant and filthy. T1 
lay putrefying in its roth 
There was neither ki 
door where Oliver and 
way cautiously through 
keep close to him and nc 
to the top of the first 
door on the landing, he 
It was opened by s 
The undertaker at one 
tained, to know it was 
directed. He stepped 
There was no fire in 
mechanically, over the < 
drawn a low stool to 
him. There were son 
and in a small recess, 
ground, something c 
shuddered as he cast ■ 
involuntarily closer tc 
up, the boy felt that 
The man’s face wai 
were grizzly ; his eye 
was wrinkled; her 1 


3ody. The kennel wa 
which here and there 
lideous with famine. 
»ell-handle at the open 
:opped ; so, groping his 
iage, and bidding Oliver 
the undertaker mounted 
:s. Stumbling against a 
with his knuckles, 
of thirteen or foui'teen. 
h of what the room con- 
mt to which he had been 
llowed him. 

)ut a man was crouching. 
An old woman, too, had 
:th, and was sitting beside 
. dldren in another comer; 
3 door, there lay upon the 
an old blanket. Oliver 
vards the place, and crept 
for though it was covered 
pse. 

ry pale ; his hair and beard 
hot. The old woman’s face 
y teeth protmded over her 
piercing. Oliver 
They seemed 


aright and 


under lip; and her eyes 
was afraid to look at either her or the man, 
so like the rats he had seen outside. 

Nobody shall go near her,” said the man, starting fiercely 
up, as the undertaker approached the recess. ^^Keep back! 
Damn you, keep back, if you’ve a life to lose ! ” 

‘^Nonsense, my good man,” said the undertaker, who was 
pretty well used to misery in all its shapes. Nonsense ! ” 

I tell you,” said the man : clenching his hands, and 
stamping furiously on the floor, — tell you I won’t have 
her put into the ground. She couldn’t rest there. The 


OLIVER TWIST. 


ills would worry her — not eat her — she is so worn 

The undertaker offered no reply to this raving; but pro- 
ducing a tape from his pocket, knelt down for a moment by 
the side of the body. 

Ah ! said the man : bursting into tears, and sinking on 
his knees at the feet of the dead woman ; kneel down, kneel 
down — kneel round her, every one of you, and mark my 
words ! I say she was starved to death. I never knew how 
bad she was, till the fever came upon her; and then her 
oones were starting through the skin. There was neither 
fire nor candle ; she died in the dark — in the dark ! She 
couldn^’t even see her children^’s faces, though we heard her 
gasping out their names. I begged for her in the streets : 
and they sent me to prison. When I came back, she was 
dying; and all the blood in my heart has dried up, for they 
starved her to death. I swear it before the God that saw 
it ! They starved her ! He twined his hands in his hair ; 
and, with a loud scream, rolled grovelling upon the floor : his 
eyes fixed, and the foam covering his lips. 

The terrified children cried bitterly; but the old woman, 
who had hitherto remained as quiet as if she had been 
wholly deaf to all that passed, menaced them into silence. 
Havine: imloosed the cravat of ’.he man who still remained 

” I 

extended on the ground, she tottered towards the undertaker. 

‘^She was my daughter,’*’ said the old woman, nodding her 
head in the direction of the corpse; and speaking with an 
idiotic leer, more ghastly than even the presence of death in 
such a place. ^^Lord, Lord! '" is stran^re that I 

who gave birth to her, and was a 
alive and merry now, and she lying t 
Lord, Lord ! — to think of it ; it’s i 
good as a play ! ” 

As the wretched creature mumbled 
hideous merriment, the undertaker turne 
Stop, stop ! ” smd the old woman 


\n then, should be 
so cold and stiff! 
d as a play — as 

buckled in her 


:o away, 
loud whisper. 


A PAUPER FUNERAL. 


45 


she be buried to-morrow, or next day, or to-night.^ 
I laid her out; and I must walk, you know. Send me a 
large cloak: a good warm one: for it is bitter cold. We 
should have cake and wine, too, before we go ! Never mind ; 
send some bread — only a loaf of bread and a cup of water. 
Shall we have some bread, dear ? ’’ she said eagerly : catching at 
the undertaker'^s coat, as he once more moved towards the door. 

‘‘Yes, yes,’’ said the undertaker, “of course. Anything 
you like ! ” He disengaged himself from the old woman’s 
grasp ; and, drawing Oliver after him, hurried away. 

The next day, (the family having been meanwhile relieved 
with a half-quartern loaf and a piece of cheese, left with 
them by Mr. Bumble himself,) Oliver and his master returned 
to the miserable abode; where Mr. Bumble had already 
arrived, accompanied by four men from the workhouse, who 
were to act as bearers. An old black cloak had been thrown 
over the rags of the old woman and the man ; and the bare 
coffin having been screwed down, was hoisted on the shoulders 
of the bearers, and carried into the street. 

“ Now, you must put your best leg foremost, old lady ! ” 
whispered Sowerberry in the old woman’s ear ; “ we are rather 
late ; and it won’t do, to keep the clergyman waiting. 
Move on, my men, — as quick as you like ! ” 

Thus directed, the bearers trotted on under their light 
burden ; and the two mourners kept as near them, as they 
could. Mr. Bumble and Sowerberry walked at a good smart 
pace in front; and Oliver, whose legs were not so long as 
his master’s, ran by the side. 

There was not so great a necessity for hurrying as Mr. 
Sowerberry had anticipated, however; for when they reached 
the obscure corner of the churchyard in which the nettles 
grew, and where the parish graves were made, the clergyman 
had not arrived ; and the clerk, who was sitting by the 
vestry-room fire, seemed to think it by no means improbable 
that it might be an hour or so, before he came. So, they 
put the bier on the brink of the grave ; and the two mourners 


46 


OLIVER TWIST. 


waited patiently in the damp clay, with a cold rain drizzling 
down, while the ragged boys whom the spectacle had attracted 
into the churchyard played a noisy game at hide-and-seek 
among the tombstones, or varied their amusements by jumping 
backwards and forwards over the coffin. Mr. Sowerberry 
and Bumble, being personal friends of the clerk, sat by the 
fire with him, and read the paper. 

At length, after a lapse of something more than an hour, 
Mr. Bumble, and Sowerberry, and the clerk, were seen running 
towards the grave. Immediately afterwards, the clergyman 
appeared : putting on his surplice as he came along. Mr. 
Bumble then thrashed a boy or two, to keep up appearances ; 
and the reverend gentleman, having read as much of the 
burial service as could be compressed into four minutes, gave 
his surplice to the clerk, and walked away again. 

Now, Bill ! ” said Sowerberry to the grave-digger. Fill 

up!^ 

It was no very difficult task ; for the grave was so full, 
that the uppermost coffin was within a few feet of the surface. 
The grave-digger shovelled in the earth; stamped it loosely 
down with his feet: shouldered his spade; and walked off, 
followed by the boys, who murmured very loud complaints 
at the fun being over so soon. 

Come, my good fellow ! ’’ said Bumble, tapping the man 
on the back. ‘^They want to shut up the yard."’ 

The man, who had never once moved, since he had taken 
his station by the grave side, started, raised his head, stared 
at the person who had addressed him, walked forward for a 
few paces ; and fell down in a swoon. The crazy old woman 
was too much occupied in bewailing the loss of her cloak 
(which the undertaker had taken off), to pay him any atten- 
tion ; so they threw a can of cold water over him ; and when 
he came to, saw him safely out of the churchyard, locked the 
gate, and departed on their different ways. 

‘‘Well, Oliver,” said Sowerberry, as they walked home, 
“ how do you like it ? ” 


NOTHING LIKE USE. 


4 


“ Pretty well, thank you, sir,’’ replied Oliver, with consider- 
able hesitation. ^‘Not very much, sir.” 

Ah, you’ll get used to it in time, Oliver,” said Sowerberry. 
‘"Nothing when you are used to it, my boy.” 

Oliver wondered, in his own mind, whether it had taken a 
very long time to get Mr. Sowerberry used to it. But he 
thought it better not to ask the question ; and walked back 
to the shop ; thinking over all he had seen and heard. 




CHAPTER VI. 


OLIVER, BEING GOADED BY THE TAUNTS OF NOAH, ROUSES INTO 
ACTION, AND RATHER ASTONISHES HIM. 

The month’s trial over, Oliver was formally apprenticed. It 
was a nice sickly season just at this time. In commercial 
phrase, coffins were looking up ; and, in the course of a few 
weeks, Oliver acquired a great deal of experience. The success 
of Mr. Sowerberry’s ingenious speculation, exceeded even his* 
most sanguine hopes. The oldest inhabitants recollected no 
period at which measles had been so prevalent, or so fatal to 
infant existence; and many were the mournful processions 
which little Oliver headed, in a hat-band reaching down to 
his knees, to the indescribable admiration and emotion of all 
the mothers in the town. As Oliver accompanied his master 
in most of his adult expeditions, too, in order that he might 
acquire that equanimity of demeanour and full command of 
nerve which are essential to a finished undertaker, he had 
many opportunities of observing the beautiful resignation and 
fortitude with which some strong-minded people bear their 
trials and losses. 

For instance ; when Sowerberry had an order for the burial 
of some rich old lady or gentleman, who was surrounded by 
a great number of nephews and nieces, who had been perfectly 
inconsolable during the previous illness, and whose grief had 
been wholly irrepressible even on the most public occasions, 
they would be as happy among themselves as need be — quite 


REGULARLY IN THE BUSINESS. 


4ii 


cheerful and contented — conversing together with as much 
freedom and gaiety, as if nothing whatever had happened to 
disturb them. Husbands, too, bore the loss of their wives 
with the most heroic calmness. Wives, again, put on weeds 
for their husbands, as if, so far from grieving in the garb of 
son’ow, they had made up their minds to render it as becoming 
and attractive as possible. It was observable, too, that ladies 
and gentlemen who were in passions of anguish during the 
ceremony of interment, recovered almost as soon as they 
reached home, and became quite composed before the tea- 
drinking was over. All this was very pleasant and improving 
to see; and Oliver beheld it with great admiration. 

That Oliver Twist was moved to resignation by the example 
of these good people, I cannot, although I am his biographer, 
undertake to affirm with any degree of confidence; but I 
can most distinctly say, that for many months he continued 
meekly to submit to the domination and ill-treatment of 
Noah Claypole : who used him far worse than before, now 
that his jealousy was roused by seeing the new boy promoted 
to the black stick and hat-band, while he, the old one, 
remained stationary in the muffin-cap and leathers. Charlotte 
treated him ill, because Noah did ; and Mrs. Sowerberry 
was his decided enemy, because Mr. Sowerberry was disposed 
to be his friend ; so, between these three on one side, and a 
glut of funerals on the other, Oliver was not altogether as 
comfortable as the hungry pig was, when he was shut up, by 
mistake, in the grain department of a brewery. 

And now, I come to a very important passage in Olivers 
history ; for I have to record an act, slight and un-important 
perhaps in appearance, but which indirectly produced a 
material change in all his future prospects and proceedings. 

One day, Oliver and Noah had descended into the kitchen 
at the usual dinner-hour, to banquet upon a small joint of 
mutton — a pound and a half of the worst end of the neck — 
when Charlotte being called out of the way, there ensued a 
brief interval ^ ' ne, which Noah Claypole, being hungry 


50 


OLIVER TWIST. 


and vicious, considered he could not possibly devote to a 
worthier purpose than aggravating and tantalising young 
Oliver Twist. 

Intent upon this innocent amusement, Noah put his feet on 
the table-cloth; and pulled Oliver’s hair; and twitched his 
ears ; and expressed his opinion that he was a sneak ; ” and 
furthermore announced his intention of coming to see him 
hanged, whenever that desirable event should take place ; and 
entered upon various other topics of petty annoyance, like a 
malicious and ill-conditioned charity-boy as he was. But, 
none of these taunts producing the desired effect of making 
Oliver cry, Noah attempted to be more facetious still; and 
in this attempt, did what many small wits, with far greater 
reputations than Noah, sometimes do to this day, when they 
want to be funny. He got rather personal. 

“Work’us,” said Noah, how’s your mother?” 

She’s dead,” replied Oliver; “don’t you say anything 
about her to me ! ” 

Oliver’s colour rose as he said this; he breathed quickly; 
and there was a curious working of the mouth and nostrils, 
which Mr. Claypole thought must be the immediate precursor 
of a violent fit of crying. Under this impression he returned 
to the charge. 

“What did she die of, Work’us?” said Noah. 

“ Of a broken heart, some of our old nurses told me,” replied 
Oliver : more as if he were talking to himself, than answering 
Noah. “I think I know what it must be to die of that!” 

“Tol de rol lol lol, right fol lairy, Work’us,” said Noah, 
as a tear rolled down Oliver’s cheek. “What’s set you a 
snivelling now?” 

“Not replied Oliver, hastily brushing the tear away. 

“Don’t think it.” 

“ Oh, not me, eh ! ” sneered Noah. 

“No, not you,” replied Oliver, sharply. “There; that’s 
enough. Don’t say anything more to me '^K)ut her; you’d 
better not ! ” 


ROUSED INTO ACTION. 


51 


Better not ! exclaimed Noah. “ Well ! Better not ! 
Work’us, don’t be impudent. Your mother, too ! She was 
a nice ’un, she was. Oh, Lor ! ” And here, Noah nodded his 
head expressively ; and curled up as much of his small red nose 
as muscular action could collect together, for the occasion. 

^^Yer know, Work’us,” continued Noah, emboldened by 
Oliver’s silence, and speaking in a jeering tone of affected 
pity: of all tones the most annoying: “Yer know, Work’us, 
it can’t be helped now; and of course yer couldn^t help it 
then; and I’m very sorry for it; and I’m sure we all are, 
and pity yer very much. But yer must know, Work’us, yer 
mother was a regular right-down bad ’un.” 

^^What did you say.^” inquired Oliver, looking up very 
quickly. 

‘^A regular right-down bad ’un, Work’us,” replied Noah, 
coolly. ^^And it’s a great deal better, Work’us, that she 
died when she did, or else she’d have been hard labouring in 
Bridewell, or transported, or hung ; which is more likely than 
either, isn’t it? 

Crimson with fury, Oliver started up, overthrew the chair 
and table; seized Noah by the throat; shook him, in the 
violence of his rage, till his teeth chattered in his head ; and, 
collecting his whole force into one heavy blow, felled him 
to the ground. 

A minute ago, the boy had looked the quiet, mild, dejected 
creature that harsh treatment had made him. But his 
spirit was roused at last ; the cruel insult to his dead mother 
had set his blood on fire. His breast heaved; his attitude 
was erect ; his eye bright and vivid ; his whole person changed, 
as he stood glaring over the cowardly tormentor who now 
lay crouching at his feet; and defied him with an energy he 
had never known before. 

He’ll murder me!” blubbered Noah. ^‘Charlotte! missis! 
Here’s the new boy a murdering of me ! Help ! help ! Oliver’s 
gone mad ! Char — lotte ! ” 

Noah’s shouts were responded to, by a loud scream from 


52 


OIJVER TWIST. 


Charlotte, and a louder from Mrs. Sowerberry; the er 
of whom rushed into the kitchen by a side-door, w he 

: latter paused on the staircase till she was quite cert lat 

it was consistent with the preservation of human life, me 
further down. 

Oh, you little wretch ! screamed Charlotte ing 
Oliver with her utmost force, which was about equi :hat 
of a moderately strong man in particularly good . ing, 

Oh, you little un-grate-ful, mur-de-rous, hor-rid villain ! ” 
And between every syllable, Charlotte gave Oliver a blow 
with all her might: accompanying it with a scream, for the 
benefit of society. 

Charlotte’s fist was by no means a light one; but, lest it 
should not be effectual in calming Oliver’s wrath, Mrs. Sower- 
berry plunged into the kitchen, and assisted to hold him with 
one hand, while she scratched his face with the other. In 
this favourable position of affairs, Noah rose from the ground, 
and pommelled him behind. 

This was rather too violent exercise to last long. When 
they were all wearied out, and could tear and beat no longer, 
they dragged Oliver, struggling and shouting, but nothing 
daunted, into the dust-cellar, and there locked him up. This 
being done, Mrs. Sowerberry sunk into a chair, and burst 
into tears. 

Bless her, she’s going off!” said Charlotte. “A glass of 
water, Noah, dear. Make haste ! ” 

‘‘Oh! Charlotte,” said Mrs. Sowerberry; speaking as well 
as she could, through a deficiency of breath, and a sufficiency 
of cold water, which Noah had poured over her head and 
shoulders. “ Oh ! Charlotte, what a mercy we have not all 
been murdered in our beds ! ” 

“ Ah ! mercy indeed, ma’am,” was the reply. “ I only 
hope this ’ll teach master not to have any more of these 
dreadful creaturs, that are bom to be murderers and robbers 
from their very cradle. Poor Noah ! He was all but killed, 
ma’am, when I come in.” 







MR. BUMBLE’S SERVICES REQUIRED. 53 

Poor fellow ! ” said Mrs. Sowerberry : looking piteously 
on the charity-boy. 

Noah, whose top waistcoat-button might have been some- 
where on a level with the crown of Oliver’s head, rubbed his 
eyes with the inside of his wrists while this commiseration 
was bestowed upon him, and performed some affecting tears 
and sniff*s. 

What’s to be done ! ” exclaimed Mrs. Sowerberry. 
“ Your master’s not at home ; there’s not a man in the house, 
and he’ll kick that door down in ten minutes.” Oliver’s 
vigorous plunges against the bit of timber in question, 
rendered this occurrence highly probable. 

Dear, dear ! I don’t know, ma’am,” said Charlotte, 
unless we send for the police-officers.” 

Or the millingtary,” suggested Mr. Claypole. 

No, no,” said Mrs. Sowerberry : bethinking herself of 
Oliver’s old friend. ^^Run to Mr. Bumble, Noah, and tell 
aim to come here directly, and not to lose a minute ; never 
nind your cap ! Make haste ! You can hold a knife to 
:hat black eye, as you run along. It’ll keep the swelling 
iown.” 

Noah stopped to make no reply, but started off at his 
fullest speed ; and very much it astonished the people who 
were out walking, to see a charity-boy tearing through the 
streets pell-mell, with no cap on his head, and a clasp-knife 
at his eye. 


CHAPTER VII. 


j 

I OLIVER CONTINUES REFRACTORY. 

Noah Claypole ran along the streets at his swiftest pace, 
and paused not once for breath, until he reached the work- 
house-gate. Having rested here, for a minute or so, to 
collect a good burst of sobs and an imposing show of tears 
and terror, he knocked loudly at the wicket ; and presented 
such a rueful face to the aged pauper who opened it, that 
even he, v/ho saw nothing but rueful faces about him at the 
best of times, started back in astonishment. 

« Why, what‘s the matter with the boy ! said the old 
pauper. 

“ Mr. Bumble ! Mr. Bumble ! ” cried Noah, with well 
affected dismay : and in tones so loud and agitated, that they 
not only caught the ear of Mr. Bumble himself,' who happened 
to be hard by, but alarmed him so much that he rushed into 
the yard without his cocked hat, — which is a very curious 
and remarkable circumstance : as showing that even a beadle, 
acted upon by a sudden and powerful impulse, may be afflicted 
with a momentary visitation of loss of self-possession, and 
forgetfulness of personal dignity. 

Oh, Mr. Bumble, sir ! ’’’ said Noah : “ Oliver, sir, — Oliver 
has ’’ 

What ? What ? ” interposed Mr. Bumble : with a gleam 
of pleasure in his metallic eyes. “Not run away; he hasn’t 
run away, has he, Noah ? ” 


TRAGIC LAMENTATIONS. 


N05 sir, no. Not run away, sir, but he'^s turned wicious,” 
replied Noah. ^‘He tried to murder me, sir; and then he 
tried to murder Charlotte ; and then missis. Oh ! what 
dreadful pain it is ! Such agony, please, sir ! ” And here, 
Noah writhed and twisted his body into an extensive variety 
of eel-like positions; thereby giving Mr. Bumble to under- 
stand that, from the violent and sanguinary onset of Oliver 
Twist, he had sustained severe internal injury and damage, 
from which he was at that moment suffering the acutest 
torture. 

When Noah saw that the intelligence he communicated 
perfectly paralysed Mr. Bumble, he imparted additional effect 
thereunto, by bewailing his dreadful wounds ten times louder 
than before; and when he observed a gentleman in a white 
waistcoat crossing the yard, he was more tragic in his lamen- 
tations than ever: rightly conceiving it highly expedient to 
attract the notice, and rouse the indignation, of the gentle- 
man aforesaid. 

The gentleman’s notice was very soon attracted; for he 
had not walked three paces, when he turned angrily round, 
and inquired what that young cur was howling for, and why 
Mr. Bumble did not favour him with something which would 
render the series of vocular exclamations so designated, an 
involuntary process.^ 

^^It’s a poor boy from the free-school, sir,” replied Mr. 
Bumble, ^^who has been nearly murdered — all but murdered, 
sir, — by young Twist.” 

By Jove ! ” exclaimed the gentleman in the white waistcoat, 
stopping short. I knew it ! I felt a strange presentiment 
from the very first, that that audacious young savage would 
come to be hung ! ” 

“He has likewise attempted, sir, to murder the female 
servant,” said Mr. Bumble, with a face of ashy paleness. 

“And his missis,” interposed Mr. Claypole. 

“And his master, too, I think you said, Nouh?” added 
Mr. Bumble. 


S6 


Oliver twist. 


“ No ! he’s out, or he would have murdered him/’ replied 
Noah. ^‘He said he wanted to.” 

Ah ! Said he wanted to, did he, my boy ? ” inquired 
the gentleman in the white waistcoat. 

“Yes, sir,” replied Noah. “And please, sir, missis wants 
to know whether Mr. Bumble can spare time to step up 
there, directly, and flog him — ’cause master’s out.” 

“ Certainly, my boy ; certainly,” said the gentleman in the 
white waistcoat : smiling benignly, and patting Noah’s head, 
which was about three inches higher than his own. “You’re 
a good boy — a very good boy. Here’s a penny for you. 
Bumble, just step up to Sowerberry’s with your cane, and 
see what’s best to be done. Don’t spare him. Bumble.” 

“No, I will not, sir,” replied the beadle: adjusting the 
wax-end which was twisted round the bottom of his cane, 
for purposes of parochial flagellation. 

“Tell Sowerberry not to spare him either. They’ll never 
do anything with him, without stripes and bruises,” said the 
gentleman in the white waistcoat. 

“I’ll take care, sir,” replied the beadle. And the cocked 
hat and cane having been, by this time, adjusted to their 
owner’s satisfaction, Mr. Bumble and Noah Claypole betook 
themselves with all speed to the undertaker’s shop. 

Here the position of affairs had not at all improved. 
Sowerberry had not yet returned, and Oliver continued to 
kick, with undiminished vigour, at the cellar-door. The 
accounts of his ferocity, as related by Mrs. Sowerberry and 
Charlotte, were of so startling a nature, that Mr. Bumble 
judged it prudent to parley, before opening the door. With 
this view he gave a kick at the outside, by way of prelude; 
and, then, applying his mouth to the keyhole, said, in a deep 
and impressive tone : 

“ Oliver ! ” 

“ Come ; you let me out ! ” replied Oliver, from the inside, 

“Do you know this here voice, Oliver.^” said Mr. Bumble, 

“Yes,” replied Oliver. 


MISCHIEVOUS EFFECTS OF MEAT. 


57 


“Ain't you afraid of it, sir? Ain't you a- trembling while 
I speak, sir?" said Mr. Bumble. 

“ No ! " replied Oliver, boldly. 

An answer so different from the one he had expected to 
elicit, and was in the habit of receiving, staggered Mr. 
Bumble not a little. He stepped back from the keyhole; 
drew himself up to his full height; and looked from one to 
another of the three by-standers, in mute astonishment. 

“Oh, you know, Mr. Bumble, he must be mad," said Mrs. 
Sowerberry. “No boy in half his senses could venture to 
^peak so to you." 

“It's not Madness, ma'am," replied Mr. Bumble, after a 
few moments of deep meditation. “It's Meat." 

“What?" exclaimed Mrs. Sowerberry. 

“ Meat, ma'am, meat," replied Bumble, with stern emphasis. 
“You've over-fed him, ma'am. You've raised a artificial 
soul and spirit in him, ma'am, unbecoming a person of his 
condition : as the board, Mrs. Sowerberry, who are practical 
philosophers, will tell you. What have paupers to do with 
soul or spirit? It's quite enough that we let 'em have live 
bodies. If you had kept the boy on gruel, ma'am, this 
would never have happened." 

“Dear, dear!" ejaculated Mrs. Sowerberry, piously raising 
her eyes to the kitchen ceiling : “ this comes of being liberal ! " 

The liberality of Mrs. Sowerberry to Oliver, had consisted 
in a profuse bestowal upon him of all the dirty odds and 
ends which nobody else would eat ; so there was a great deal 
of meekness and self-devotion in her voluntarily remaining 
under Mr. Bumble's heavy accusation. Of which, to do her 
justice, she was wholly innocent, in thought, word, or deed. 

“ Ah ! " said Mr. Bumble, when the lady brought her eyes 
lown to earth again ; “ the only thing that can b(; done 
low, that I know of, is to leave him in the cellar for a 
'ay or so, till he's a little starved down; and then to take 
im out, and keep him on gruel all through his apprentice - 
hip. He comes of a bad family. Excitable natures^ 


58 


OLIVER TWIST. 


Mrs. Sowerberry ! Both the nurse and v 
that mother of his made her way here, ag 
and pain that would have killed any well-di. 
weeks before.” 

At this point of Mr. Bumble’s discourse, Oliver, 


said, that 
difficulties 
woman, 

.oC hearing 

enough to know that some new allusion was being made to 
his mother, recommenced kicking, with a violence that 
rendered every other sound inaudible. Sowerberry returned 
at this juncture. Oliver’s offence having been explained to 
him, with such exaggerations as the ladies thought best 
calculated to rouse his ire, he unlocked the cellar-door in 
twinkling, and dragged his rebellious apprentice out, by th^ 
collar. 

Oliver’s clothes had been torn in the beating he had 
received; his face was bruised and scratched; and his hair 
scattered over his forehead. The angry flush had not dis- 
appeaiGu, however ; and when he was pulled out of his prison, 
he scowled boldly on Noah, and looked quite undismayed. 

^^Now, you are a nice young fellow, ain’t you.^” said 
Sowerberry ; giving Oliver a shake, and a box on the ear. 

^^He called my mother names,” replied Oliver. 

^^Well, and what if he did, you little ungrateful wretch?” 
said Mrs. Sowerberry. She deserved what he said, and 
worse.” 

^^She didn’t,” said Oliver. 

“She did,” said Mrs. Sowerberry. 

“ It’s a lie ! ” said Oliver. 

Mrs. Sowerberry burst into a flood of tears. 

This flood of tears left Mr. Sowerberry no alternative. If he 
had hesitated for one instant to punish Oliver most severely, 
it must be quite clear to every experienced reader that he 
would have been, according to all precedents in disputes of 
matrimony established, a brute, an unnatural husband, an 
insulting creature, a base imitation of a man, and variou 
other agreeable characters too numerous for recital withii 
the limits of this chapter. To do him justice, he was, a 


FLOOD OF TEARS. 


59 


far as his power 
disposed towards 
interest to be so 
The flood of tea 
at once gave hir 
Sowerberry herself 
application of the 
the rest of the day, 
company with a pun 
Mrs. Sowerberry, afte 
door, by no means c 
mother, looked into ti 
pointings of Noah and 
his dismal bed. 

It was not until he 
stillness of the gloomy 


it — it was not very extensive — kindly 
i boy ; perhaps, because it was his 
erhaps, because his wife disliked him. 
however, left him no resource; so he 
^ drubbing, which satisfied even Mrs. 
id rendered Mr. Bumble*'s subsequent 
chial cane, rather unnecessary. For 
was shut up in the back kitchen, in 
ind a slice of bread ; and, at night, 
aking various remarks outside the 
limentary to the memory of his 
'oom, and, amidst the jeers and 
\rlotte, ordered him up stairs to 


left alone in the silence and 
shop of the undertaker, that 
Oliver gave way to the feelings which the day’s treatment 
may be supposed likely to have awakened in a mere child. 
He had listened to their taunts with a look of contempt ; 
he had borne the lash without a cry : for he felt that pride 
swelling in his heart which would have kept down a shriek 
to the last, though they had roasted him alive. But now, 
when there were none to see or hear him, he fell upon his 
knees on the floor; and, hiding his face in his hands, wept 
such tears as, God send for the credit of our nature, few so 
young may ever have cause to pour out before him ! 

For a long time, Oliver remained motionless in this attitude. 
The candle was burning low in the socket when he rose to 
his feet. Having gazed cautiously round him, and listened 
intently, he gently undid the fastenings of the door, and 
looked abroad. 


It was a cold, dark night. The stars seemed, to the boy’s 
eyes, farther from the earth than he had ever seen them 
before ; there was no wind ; and the sombre shadows thrown 
by the trees upon the ground, looked sepulchral and death- 
like, from being so still. He softly reclosed the door. Having 


60 


OLIVER TWIST. 


availed himself of the expiring light of the b to tie up 
in a handkerchief the few articles of wearing 'el he had, 
sat himself down upon a bench, to wait lor r .....xig. 

With the first ray of light that struggled through the 
crevices in the shutters, Oliver arose, and again unbarred 
the door. One timid look around — one moment’s pause of 
hesitation — he had closed it behind him, and was in +he 
open street. 

He looked to the right and to the left, uncertain whither 
to fly. He remembered to have seen the waggons, as they 
went out, toiling up the hill. He took the same route ; and 
arriving at a footpath across the fields : which he knew, 
after some distance, led out again ir*tO the road : struck into 
it, and walked quickly on. 

Along this same footpath, Oliver well remembered he had 
trotted beside Mr. Bumble, when he first carried him to the 
workhouse from the farm. His way lay directly in front of 
the cottage. His heart beat quickly when he bethought 
himself of this ; and he half resolved to turn back. He had 
come a long way though, and should lose a great deal of 
time by doing so. Besides, it was so early that there was 
very little fear of his being seen ; so he walked on. 

He reached the house. There was no appearance of its 
inmates stirring at that early hour. Oliver stopped, and 
peeped into the garden. A child was weeding one of the 
little beds ; as he stopped, he raised his pale face and dis- 
closed the features of one of his former companions. Oliver 
felt glad to see him, before he went; for, though younger 
than himself, he had been his little friend and playmate. 
They had been beaten and starved, and shut up together, 
many and many a time. 

Hush, Dick ! ” said Oliver, as the boy ran to the gate, 
and thrust his thin arm between the rails to greet him. 
“ Is any one up ? ” 

Nobody but me,” replied the child. 

^^You mustn’t say you saw me, Dick,” said Oliver. ‘‘I 


PARTING FROM DICK. 


61 


am ig away. They beat and ill-use me, Dick ; and 

I ar ig to seek my fortune, some long way off*. I don't 

kno re. How pale you are ! " 

‘‘ xd the doctor tell them I was dying," replied the 

chi^ hi a faint smile. “I am very glad to see you, dear; 

bul , stop, don't stop ! " 

^ yes, I will, to say good-b'ye to you^" replied Oliver. 

"‘I shall see you again, Dick. I know I shall! You will be 
well and happy ! " 

‘‘1 hope so," replied the child. After I am dead, but 
not before. I know the doctor must be right, Oliver, because 
I dream so much of Heaven, and Angels, and kind faces 
that I never. see when I am awake. Kiss me," said the child, 
climbing up the low gate, and flinging his little arms round 
Oliver's neck. Good-b'ye, dear ! God bless you ! " 

The blessing was from a young child's lips, but it was 
the first that Oliver had ever heard invoked upon his head ; 
and through the struggles and suflTerings, and troubles and 
changes, of his after life, he never once forgot it. 


CHAPTER VIII. 


OLIVER WAI;KS to LONDON. HE ENCOUNTERS ON THE ROAD A 
STRANGE SORT OF YOUNG GENTLEMAN. 

Oliver reached the stile at which the by-path terminated; 
and once more gained the high-road. It was eight o'^clock 
now. Though he was nearly five miles away from the town, 
he ran, and hid behind the hedges, by turns, till noon : 
fearing that he might be pursued and overtaken. Then he 
sat down to rest by the side of the milestone, and began 
to think, for the first time, where he had better go and try 
to live. 

The stone by which he was seated, bore, in large characters, 
an intimation that it was just seventy miles from that spot 
to London. The name awakened a new train of ideas in 
the boy’s mind. London ! — that great large place ! — nobody 
— not even Mr. Bumble — could ever find him there ! He 
had often heard the old men in the workhouse, too, say 
that no lad of spirit need want in London ; and that there 
were ways of living in that vast city, which those who had 
been bred up in country parts had no idea of. It was the 
very place for a homeless boy, who must die in the streets 
unless some one helped him. As these things passed through 
his thoughts, he jumped upon his feet, and again walked 
forward. 

He had diminished the distance between himself and 
London by full four miles more, before he recollected 


MEDITATIONS- 


63 


much he must undergo ere he could hope to reach his place 
of destination. As this consideration forced itself upon him, 
he slackened his pace a little, and meditated upon his means 
of getting there. He had a crust of bread, a coarse shirt, 
and two pairs of stockings, in his bundle. He had a penny 
too — a gift of Sowerberry's after some funeral in which he 
had acquitted himself more than ordinarily well — in his 
pocket. A clean shirt, thought Oliver, is a very comfort- 
able thing; and so are two pairs of darned stockings; and 
so is a penny ; but they are small helps to a sixty-five miles'* 
walk in winter time.'*'* But 01iver'*s thoughts, like those of 
most other people, although they were extremely ready and 
active to point out his difficulties, were wholly at a loss to 
suggest any feasible mode of surmounting them; so, after a 
good deal of thinking to no particular purpose, he changed 
his little bundle over to the other shoulder, and trudged on. 

Oliver walked twenty miles that day; and all that time 
tasted nothing but the crust of dry bread, and a few draughts 
of water, which he begged at the cottage-doors by the road- 
side. When the night came, he turned into a meadow ; and, 
creeping close under a hay-rick, determined to lie there, till 
morning. He felt frightened at first, for the wind moaned 
dismally over the enjpty fields : and he was cold and hungry, 
and more alone than he had ever felt before. Being very 
tired with his walk, however, he soon fell asleep and forgot 
his troubles. 

He felt cold and stiff, when he got up next morning, and 
so hungry that he was obliged to exchange the penny for a 
small loaf, in the very first village through which he passed. 
He had walked no more than twelve miles, when night closed 
in again. His feet were sore, and his legs so weak that 
they trembled beneath him. Another night passed in the 
bleak damp air, made him worse; when he set forward on 
his journey next morning, he could hardly crawl along. 

He waited at the bottom of a steep hill till a stage-coach 
came up, and then begged of the outside passengers; but 


64 


OLIVER TWIST. 


there were very few who took any notice of him: and even 
those told him to wait till they got to the top of the hill, 
and then let them see how far he could run for a halfpenny. 
Poor Oliver tried to keep up with the coach a little way, 
but was unable to do it, by reason of his fatigue and sore 
feet. When the outsides saw this, they put their halfpence 
back into their pockets again, declaring that he was an idle 
young dog, and didn't deserve anything; and the coach 
rattled away and left only a cloud of dust behind. 

In some villages, large painted boards were fixed up : 
warning all persons who begged within the district, that they 
would be sent to jail. This frightened Oliver very much, 
and made him glad to get out of those villages with all 
possible expedition. In others, he would stand about the 
inn-yards, and look mournfully at every one who passed : a 
proceeding which generally terminated in the landlady's 
ordering one of the post-boys who were lounging about, to 
drive that strange boy out of the place, for she was sure he 
had come to steal something. If he begged at a farmer's 
house, ten to one but they threatened to set the dog on 
him ; and when he showed his nose in a shop, they talked 
about the beadle — which brought Oliver's heart into his 
mouth, — very often the only thing he had there, for many 
hours together. 

In fact, if it had not been for a good-hearted turnpike- 
man, and a benevolent old lady, Oliver's troubles would 
have been shortened by the very same process which had 
put an end to his mother's; in other words, he would most 
assuredly have fallen dead upon the king's highway. But 
the turnpike-man gave him a meal of bread and cheese ; and 
the old lady, w^ho had a shipwrecked grandson wandering 
barefoot in some distant part of the earth, took pity upon 
the poor orphan, and gave him what little she could afford — 
and more — with such kind and gentle words, and such tears 
of sympathy and compassion, that they sank deeper into 
Oliver's soul, than all the sufferings he had ever undergone. 


THE YOUNG PILGRIIVrS PROGRESS. 


65 


Early on the seventh morning after he had left his native 
place, Oliver limped slowly into the little town of Barnet. 
The window-shutters were closed ; the street was empty ; not 
a soul had awakened to the business of the day. The sun 
was rising in all its splendid beauty; but the light only 
served to show the boy his own lonesomeness and desolation, 
as he sat, with bleeding feet and covered with dust, upon a 
door-step. 

By degrees, the shutters were opened ; the window-blinds 
were drawn up ; and people began passing to and fro. Some 
few stopped to gaze at Oliver for a moment or two, or turned 
round to stare at him as they hurried by ; but none relieved 
him, or troubled themselves to inquire how he came there. 
He had no heart to beg. And there he sat. 

He had been crouching on the step for some time : wonder- 
ing at the great number of public-houses (every other house 
in Barnet was a tavern, large or small), gazing listlessly at 
the coaches as they passed through, and thinking how strange 
it seemed that they could do, with ease, in a few hours, 
what it had taken him a whole week of courage and deter- 
mination beyond his years to accomplish : when he was roused 
by observing that a boy, who had passed him carelessly some 
minutes before, had returned, and was now surveying him 
most earnestly from the opposite side of the way. He took 
little heed of this at first; but the boy remained in the 
same attitude of close observation so long, that Oliver raised 
his head, and returned his steady look. Upon this, the boy 
crossed over ; and, walking close up to Oliver, said. 

Hullo, my covey ! WhaPs the row ? 

The boy who addressed this inquiry to the young wayfarer, 
was about his own age : but one , of the queerest looking 
boys that Oliver had ever seen. He was a snub-nosed, flat- 
browed, common- faced boy enough; and as dirty a juvenile 
as one would wish to see; but he had about him all the 
airs and mapners of a man. He was short of his age : with 
rather bow-legs, and little, sharp, ugly eyes. His hat wavS 

F 


66 


OLIVER TWIST. 


stuck on the top of his head so lightly, that it threatened 
to fall off every moment — and would have done so, very 
often, if the wearer had not had a knack of every now and 
then giving his head a sudden twitch, which brought it back 
to its old place again. He wore a man's coat, which reached 
nearly to his heels. He had turned the cuffs back, half-way 
up his arm, to get his hands out of the sleeves : apparently 
with the ultimate view of thrusting them into the pockets 
of his corduroy trousers ; for there he kept them. He was, 
altogether, as roystering and swaggering a young gentleman 
as ever stood four feet six, or something less, in his bluchers. 
Hullo, my covey ! What's the row ? " said this strange 
young gentleman to Oliver. 

“ I am very hungry and tired," replied Oliver : the teara 
standing in his eyes as he spoke. ^‘I have walked a long 
way. I have been walking these seven days." 

Walking for sivin days ! " said the young gentleman. 
^^Oh, I see. Beak's order, eh.^^ But," he added, noticing 
Oliver's look of surprise, I suppose you don't know what a 
beak is, my flash com-pan-i-on." 

Oliver mildly replied, that he had always heard a bird's 
mouth described by the term in question. 

My eyes, how green ! " exclaimed the young gentleman. 
^‘Why, a beak's a madgst'rate; and when you walk by a 
beak's order, it's not straight forerd, but always a going up, 
and nivir a coming down agin. Was you never on the mill ? " 
What mill ? " inquired Oliver. 

What mill ! Why, the mill — the mill as takes up so 
little room that it'll work inside a Stone Jug; and always 
goes better when the wind's low with people, than when it's 
high; acos then they can't get workmen. But come," said 
the young gentleman ; you want grub, and you shall have 
it. I'm at low-water-mark myself — only one bob and a 
magpie ; but, as far as it goes. I'll fork out and stump. Up 
with you on your pins. There ! Now then ! Morrice ! " 

Assisting Oliver to rise, the young gentleman took him to 


MEETS A NEW FRIEND. 


67 


an adjacent chandleFs shop, where he purchased a sufficiency 
of ready-dressed ham and a half-quartern loaf, or, - as he 
himself expressed it, ^^a foui’penny bran!*’" the ham being 
kept clean and preserved from dust, by the ingenious 
expedient of making a hole in the loaf by pulling out a portion 
of the crumb, and stuffing it therein. Taking the bread 
under his arm, the young gentleman turned into a small 
public-house, and led the way to a tap-room in the rear of 
the premises. Here, a pot of beer was brought in, by 
direction of the mysterious youth; and Oliver, falling to, at 
his new friend's bidding, made a long and hearty meal, 
during the progress of which, the strange boy eyed him 
from time to time with great attention. 

“Going to London.^’’ said the strange boy, when Oliver 
had at length concluded. 

“Yes.’’ 

“ Got any lodgings ? 

“No.” 

“ Money 

“No.” 

The strange boy whistled ; and put his arms into his pockets, 
as far as the big coat sleeves would let them go. 

“ Do you live in London ? ” inquired Oliver. 

“Yes. I do, when I’m at home,” replied the boy. “I 
suppose you want some place to sleep in to-night, don’t 
you?” 

“I do, indeed,” answered Oliver. “I have not slept under 
a roof since I left the country.” 

“Don’t fret your eyelids on that score,” said the young 
gentleman. “I’ve got to be in London to-night; and I 
know a ’spectable old genelman as lives there, wot’ll give 
you lodgings for nothink, and never ask for the change — 
that is, if any genelman he knows interduces you. And 
don’t he know me ? Oh, no ! Not in the least ! By no 
means. Certainly not ! ” 

The young gentleman smiled, as if to intimate that the 


J8 


OLIVER TWIST. 


latter fragments of discourse were playfully ironical; and 
finished the beer as he did so 

This unexpected offer of shelter was too tempting to be 
resisted; especially as it was immediately followed up, by 
the assurance that the old gentleman referred to, would 
doubtless provide Oliver with a comfortable place, without 
loss of time. This led to a more friendly and confidential 
dialogue ; from which Oliver discovered that his friend'^s name 
was Jack Dawkins, and that he was a peculiar pet and protege 
of the elderly gentleman before mentioned. 

Mr. Dawkins’s appearance did not say a vast deal in favour 
of the comforts which his patron’s interest obtained for those 
whom he took under his protection ; but, as he had a rather 
flighty and dissolute mode of conversing, and furthermore 
avowed that among his intimate friends he was better known 
by the sobriquet of ^^The artful Dodger,” Oliver concluded 
that, being of a dissipated and careless turn, the moral pre- 
cepts of his benefactor had hitherto been thrown away upon 
him. Under this impression, he secretly resolved to cultivate 
the good opinion of the old gentleman as quickly as possible ; 
and, if he found the Dodger incorrigible, as he more than 
half suspected he should, to decline the honour of his farther 
acquaintance. 

As John Dawkins objected to their entering London before 
nightfall, it was nearly eleven o’clock when they reached the 
turnpike at Islington. They crossed from the Angel into 
St. John’s Road; struck down the small street which termi- 
nates at Sadler’s Wells Theatre ; through Exijiouth Street 
and Coppice Row; down the little court by the side of the 
workhouse; across the classic ground which once bore the 
name of Hockley-in-the-Hole ; thence into Little Saffron 
Hill ; and so into Saffron Hill the Great : along which the 
Dodger scudded at a rapid pace, directing Oliver to follow 
close at his heels. 

Although Oliver had enough to occupy his attention in 
keeping sight of his leader, he could not help bestowing a 


THE ARTFUL DODGER 


69 


few hasty glances on either side of th(i way, as he passed 
along. A dirtier or more wretched place he had never seen. 
The street was very narrow and muddy, and the air was 
impregnated with filthy odours. There were a good many 
small shops ; but the only stock in trade appeared To be 
heaps of children, who, even at that time of night, were 
crawling in and out at the doors, or sci;eaming from the 
inside. The sole places that seemed to prosper amid the 
general blight of the place, were the pi ^blic-houses ; and in 
them, the lowest orders of Irish were \vTangling with might 
and main. Covered ways and yards ^ which here and there 
diverged from the main street, disclo^’^ed little knots of houses, 
where drunken men and women vvere positively wallowing 
in filth; and from several of the door-ways, great ill-looking 
fellows were cautiously emerging, bound, to all appearance, 
on no very well-disposed or harn Jess errands. 

Oliver was just considering whether he hadn't better run 
away, when they reached thf, bottom of the hill. His con- 
ductor, catching him by the arm, pushed open the door of 
a house near Field Lane ; and, drawing him into the passage, 
closed it behind them. 

Now, then ! " cried a voice from below, in reply to a 
whistle from the Dodger. 

Plummy and slam ! " was the reply. 

This seemed to be some watchword or signal that all was 
right; for the light of a feeble candle gleamed on the wall 
at the remote end of the passage ; and a man's face peeped 
out, from where a balustrade of the old kitchen staircase had 
been broken away. 

“ There's two on you," said the man, tlirusting the candle 
farther out, and shading his eyes with his hand. Who's 
the t'other one.^^" 

A new pal," replied Jack Dawkins, pulling Oliver 
forward. 

“ Where did he come from ? " 

Greenland. Is Fagin up stairs?" 


OLIVER WIST. 


' YeS) he'’s a sortin'* the wipes. Up with you ! mdle 
svas drawn back, and the face disappeared. 

Oliver, groping Iris way with one hand, and having the 
other firmly grasped by his companion, ascended with much 
difficulty the dark and broken stairs : which his conductor 
mounted with an ease and expedition that showed he was 
well acquainted with them. He threw open the door of a 
back-room, and drew Oliver in after him. 

The walls and c eiling of the room were perfectly black 
with age and dirt. There was a deal table before the fire : 
upon which were a cai dle, stuck in a ginger-beer bottle, two 
or three pewter pots, loaf and butter, and a plate. In a 
frying-pan, which was on the fire, and which was secured to 
the mantelshelf by a striig, some sausages were cooking; 
and standing over them, with a toasting-fork in his hand, 
was a very old shrivelled t^iew, whose villanous-looking and 
repulsive face was obscured by a quantity of matted red 
hair. He was dressed in a greasy flannel gown, with his 
throat bare ; and seemed to be dividing his attention between 
the frying-pan and a clothes-horse, over which a great number 
of silk handkerchiefs were hanging. Several rough beds 
made of old sacks, were huddled side by side on the floor. 
Seated round the table were four or five boys, none older 
than the Dodger, smoking long clay pipes, and drinking 
spirits with the air of middle-aged men. These all crowded 
about their associate as he whispered a few words to the 
Jew; and then turned round and grinned at Oliver. So did 
the Jew himself, toasting-fork in hand. 

^‘This is him, Fagin,’’’’ said Jack Dawkins; ‘^my friend 
Oliver Twist.’’ 

The Jew grinned ; and, making a low obeisance to Oliver, 
took him by the hand, and hoped he should have the honour 
of his intimate acquaintance. Upon this, the young gentle- 
men with the pipes came round him, and shook both his 
hands very hard — especially the one in which he held his 
little bundle. One young gentleman was very anxious to 



■f 







1 i ii;H ^ ^ 

OK'lHh, 


UH-IVERSifY «■ 


1 


A CORDIAL WELCOME. 


hang up his cap for him ; and another was so obliging as to 
put his hands in his pockets, in order that, as he was very 
tired, he might not have the trouble of emptying them, 
himself, when he went to bed. These civilities would probably 
have been extended much farther, but for a liberal exercise 
of the Jew'^s toasting-fork on the heads and shoulders of the 
affectionate youths who offered them. 

‘^We are very glad to see you, Oliver, very,*’’ said the Jew. 
“ Dodger, take off the sausages ; and draw a tub near the 
fire for Oliver. Ah, youVe a-staring at the pocket-handker- 
chiefs ! eh, my dear ! There are a good many of ’em, ain’t 
there? We’ve just looked ’em out, ready for the wash; 
that’s all, Oliver ; that’s all. Ha ! ha ! ha ! ” 

The latter part of this speechj, was hailed by a boisterous 
shout from all the hopeful pupils of the merry old gentleman. 
In the midst of which, they went to supper. 

Oliver ate his share, and the Jew then mixed him a glass 
of hot gin and water: telling him he must drink it off 
directly, because another gentleman wanted the tumbler. 
Oliver did as he was desired. Immediately afterwards he 
felt himself gently lifted on to one of the sacks; and then 
he sunk into a deep sleep. 


CHAPTER IX. 


) 


CONTAINING FURTHER PARTICULARS CONCERNING TL - NT 
OLD GENTLEMAN, AND HIS HOPEFUL PUPIi 

It was late next morning when Oliver awoke, fri Mid, 

long sleep. There was no other person in the ro m he 
old Jew, who was boiling some coffee in a saucepan k- 

fast, and whistling softly to himself as he stirre id 


and round, with an iron spoon. He would stop every now 
and then to listen when there was the least noise below : and 
when he had satisfied himself, he would go on, whistling and 
stirring again, as before. 

Although Oliver had roused himself from sleep, he was 
not thoroughly awake. There is a drowsy state, between 
sleeping and waking, when you dream more in five minutes 
with your eyes half open, and yourself half conscious of every- 
thing that is passing around you, than you would in five 
nights with your eyes fast closed, and your senses wrapt in 
perfect unconsciousness. At such times, a mortal knows just 
enough of what his mind is doing, to form some glimmering 
conception of its mighty powers, its bounding from earth 
and spurning time and space, when freed from the restraint 
of its corporeal associate. 

Oliver was precisely in this condition. He saw the Jew 
with his half-closed eyes; heard his low whistling; and 
recognised the sound of the spoon grating against the sauce- 
pan’s sides ; and yet the self-same senses were mentally 


AT THE PI.EASANT OLD GENTLEMAN’S. 73 

engaged, at the same time, in busy action with almost every- 
body he had ever known. 

When the coffee was done, the Jew drew the saucepan to 
the hob. Standing, then, in an irresolute attitude for a few 
minutes, as if he did not well know how to employ himself, 
he turned round and looked at Oliver, and called him by 
his name. He did not answer, and was to all appearance 
asleep. ^ 

After satisfying himself upon this head, the Jew stepped 
gently to the door : which he fastened. He then drew forth : 
as it seemed to Oliver, from some trap in the floor : a small 
box, which he placed carefully on the table. His eyes glistened 
as he raised the lid, and looked in. Dragging an old chair to 
the table, he sat down; and took from it a magnificent gold 
watch, sparkling with jewels. 

^^Aha!” said the Jew, shrugging up his shoulders, and 
distorting every feature with a hideous grin. “ Clever dogs ! 
Clever dogs ! Staunch to the last ! Never told the old 
parson where they were. Never peached upon old Fagin ! 
And why should they ? It wouldn’t have loosened the knot, 
or kept the drop up, a minute longer. No, no, no! Fine 
fellows ! Fine fellows ! ” 

With these, and other muttered reflections of the like 
nature, the Jew once more deposited the watch in its place 
of safety. At least half a dozen more were severally drawn 
forth from the same box, and surveyed with equal pleasure; 
besides rings, brooches, bracelets, and other articles of 
jewellery, of such magnificent materials, and costly workman- 
ship, that Oliver had no idea, even of their names. 

Having replaced these trinkets, the Jew took out another: 
so small that it lay in the palm of his hand. There seemed 
to be some very minute inscription on it; for the Jew laid 
it flat upon the table, and, shading it with his hand, pored 
over it, long and earnestly. At length he put it down, as 
if despairing of success ; and, leaning back in his chair, 
muttered : 




OLIVER TWIST. 


What a fine thing capital punishment is ! Dead men 
never repent; dead men never bring awkward stories to 
light. Ah, it’s a fine thing for the trade ! Five of ’em 
strung up in a row, and none left to play booty, or turn 
white-livered I ” 

As the Jew uttered these words, his bright dark eyes, 
which had been staring vacantly before him, fell on Oliver’s 
face ; the boy’s eyes were fixed on his in mute curiosity ; and 
although the recognition was only for an instant — for the 
briefest space of time that can possibly be conceived — it was 
enough to show the old man that he had been observed. 
He closed the lid of the box with a loud crash ; and, laying 
his hand on a bread knife which was on the table, started 
furiously up. He trembled very much though ; for, even in 
his terror, Oliver could see that the knife quivered in the 
air. 

What’s that ? ” said the Jew. What do you watch me 
for ? Why are you awake ? What have you seen ? Speak 
out, boy ! Quick — quick ! for your life ! ” 

^‘I wasn’t able to sleep any longer, sir,” replied Oliver* 
meekly. “ I am very sorry if I have disturbed you, sir.” 

You were not awake an hour ago said the Jew, scowling 
fiercely on the boy. 

“ No ! No, indeed ! ” replied Oliver. 

Are you sure?” cried the Jew: with a still fiercer look 
than before : and a threatening attitude. 

‘^Upon my word I was not, sir,” replied Oliver, earnestly. 
‘^I was not, indeed, sir.” 

Tush, tush, my dear ! ” said the Jew, abruptly resuming 
his old manner, and playing with the knife a little, before 
he laid it down; as if to induce the belief that he had 
caught it up, in mere sport. Of course I know that, my 
dear. I only tried to frighten you. You’re a brave boy. 
Ha! ha! you’re a brave boy, Oliver!” The Jew rubbed 
his hands with a chuckle, but glanced uneasily at the box, 
notwithstanding. 


INTRODUCTION OP CHARLEY BATES. 75 

^‘Did you see any of these pretty things, my dear.^*^ said 
the Jew, laying his hand upon it after a short pause. 

“ Yes, sir,’’ replied Oliver. 

‘‘Ah !” said the Jew, turning rather pale. “They — they’re 
mine, Oliver; my little property. All I have to live upon, 
in my old age. The folks call me a miser, my dear. Only 
a miser; that’s all.” 

Oliver thought the old gentleman must be a decided miser 
to live in such a dirty place, with so many watches; but, 
thinking that perhaps his fondness for the Dodger and the 
other boys, cost him a good deal of money, he only cast a 
deferential look at the Jew, and asked if he might get up. 

“Certainly, my dear, certainly,” replied the old gentle- 
man. “Stay. There’s a pitcher of water in the comer by 
the door. Bring it here ; and Til give you a basin to wash 
in, my dear.” 

Oliver got up; walked across the room; and stooped for 
an instant to raise the pitcher. When he turned his head, 
the box was gone. 

He had scarcely washed himself, and made everything tidy, 
by emptying the basin out of the window, agreeably to the 
Jew’s directions, when the Dodger returned : accompanied 
by a very sprightly young friend, whom Oliver had seen 
smcvking on the previous night, and who was now formally 
introduced to him as Charley Bates. The four sat down, to 
brea.kfast, on the coffee, and some hot rolls and ham which 
the Dodger had brought home in the crown of his hat. 

‘‘ Well,” said the Jew, glancing slyly at Oliver, and address- 
ing himself to the Dodger, “ I hope you’ve been at work this 
morning, my dears 

“Hard,” replied the Dodger. 

“' As Nails,” added Charley Bates. 

“ Good boys, good boys ! ” said the Jew. “ What have 
yon got. Dodger 

“A couple of pocket-books,” replied that young gentleman. 

“ limed ? ” inquired the Jew, with eagerness. 


76 


OLIVER TWIST. 


Pretty well,'*’ replied the Dodger, producing two pocket- 
books ; one green, and the other red. 

‘^Not so heavy as they might be,” said the Jew, after 
looking at the insides carefully ; but very neat and nicely 
made. Ingenious workman, ain’t he, Oliver?” 

‘Wery, indeed, sir,” said Oliver. At which Mr. Charles 
Bates laughed uproariously; very much to the amazement 
of Oliver, who saw nothing to laugh at, in anything that 
had passed. 

And what have you got, my dear ? ” said Fagin to Charley 
Bates. 

Wipes,” replied Master Bates ; at the same time producing 
four pocket-handkerchiefs. 

^‘Well,” said the Jew, inspecting them closely; “they’re 
very good ones, very. You haven’t marked them well, 
though, Charley; so the marks shall be picked out with a 
needle, and we’ll teach Oliver how to do it. Shall us, Oliver, 
eh ? Ha ! ha ! ha ! ” 

“ If you please, sir,” said Oliver. 

“You’d like to be able to make pocket-handkerchiefs as 
easy as Charley Bates, wouldn’t you, my dear?” said the Jew^ 
“ Very much, indeed, if you’ll teach me, sir,” replied Oliver. 
Master Bates saw something so exquisitely ludicrous in 
this reply, that he burst into another laugh; which laugh, 
meeting the coffee he was di inking, and carrying it d(!)wn 
some wrong channel, very nearly terminated in his premature 
suffocation. • 

“He is so jolly green!” said Charley when he recovei*ed, 
as an apology to the company for his unpolite behaviour. ^ 
The Dodger said nothing, but he smoothed Olivers h:air 
over his eyes, and said he’d know better, by-and-bye; uyi'ion 
which the old gentleman, observing Oliver’s colour mounting, 
changed the subject by asking whether there had been ^nuch 
of a crowd at the execution that morning ? This mad^b him 
wonder more and more; for it was plain from the replies of 
the two boys that they had both been there; and Oliver 


A CURIOUS AND UNCOMMON GAME. 77 


naturally wondered how they could possibly have found time 
to be so very industrious. 

When the breakfast was cleared away, the merry old 
gentleman and the two boys played at a very curious and 
uncommon game, which was performed in this way. The 
merry old gentleman, placing a snuff-box in one pocket of 
his trousers, a note-case in the other, and a watch in his 
waistcoat pocket, with a guard-chain round his neck, and 
sticking a mock diamond pin in his shirt : buttoned his coat 
tight round him, and putting his spectacle-case and handker- 
chief in his pockets, trotted up and down the room with a 
stick, in imitation of the manner in which old gentlemen 
walk about the streets any hour in the day. Sometimes he 
stopped at the fire-place, and sometimes at the door, making 
believe that he was staring with all his might into shop- 
windows. At such times, he would look constantly round 
him, for fear of thieves^ and would keep slapping all his 
pockets in turn, to see that he hadn’t lost anything, in such 
a very funny and natural manner, that Oliver laughed till 
the tears ran down his face. All this time, the two boys 
followed him closely about : getting out of his sight, so 
nimbly, every time he turned round, that it was impossible 
to follow their motions. At last, the Dodger trod upon his 
toes, or ran upon his boot accidentally, while Charley Bates 
stumbled up against him behind; and in that one moment 
they took from him, with the most extraordinary rapidity, 
snuff-box, note-case, watch-guard, chain, shirt-pin, pocket- 
handkerchief, even the spectacle-case. If the old gentleman 
felt a hand in any one of his pockets, he cried out where it 
was ; and then the game began all over again. ^ 

When this game had been played a great many times, a 
couple of young ladies called to see the young gentlemen ; 
one of whom was named Bet, and the other Nancy. They 
wore a good deal of hair, not very neatly turned up behind, 
and rather untidy about shoes and stockings. They 
wer actly pretty, perl t they had a great deal 


78 


OLIVER WIST, 


of colour in their faces, and looked quite stout and hearty. 
Being remarkably free and agreeable in their manners, Oliver 
thought them very nice girls indeed. As there is no doubt 
they were. 

These visitors stopped a long time. Spirits were produced, 
in consequence of one of the young ladies complaining of a 
coldness in her inside; and the conversation took a very 
convivial and improving turn. At length, Charley Bates 
expressed his opinion that it was time to pad the hoof. 
This, it occurred to Oliver, must be French for going out; 
for, directly afterwards, the Dodger, and Charley, and the 
two young ladies, went away together, having been kindly 
furnished by the amiable old Jew with money to spend. 

‘‘There, my dear,’’ said Fagin. “That’s a pleasant life, 
isn’t it? They have gone out for the day.” 

“Have they done work, sir?*^’ inquired Oliver. 

“Yes,” said the Jew; “that is, unless they should unexpectedly 
come across any, when they are out; and they won’t neglect 
it, if they do, my dear, depend upon it. Make ’em your 
models, my dear. Make ’em your models,” tapping the fire- 
shovel on the hearth to add force to his words ; “ do every- 
thing they bid you, and take their advice in all matters — 
especially the Dodger’s, my dear. He’ll be a great man 
himself, and will make you one too, if you take pattern by 
him. — Is my handkerchief hanging out of my pocket, my 
dear?” said the Jew, stopping short. 

“Yes, sir,” said Oliver. 

“See if you can take it out, without my feeling it: as 
you saw them do, when we were at play this morning.” 

Oliver held up the bottom of the pocket with one hand, 
as he had seen the Dodger hold it, and drew the handker- 
chief lightly out of it with the other. 

“ Is it gone ? ” cried the Jew. 

“Here it is, sir,” said Oliver, showing it in his hand. 

“You’re a clever boy, my dear,” said the playful old 
gentleman, patting Oliver on the head approvingly. “ I 


ENCOURAGEMENT. 


79 


never saw a sharper lad. Here\s a shilling for you. If you 
go on, in this way, you'll be the greatest man of the time. 
And now come here, and Fll show you how to take the 
marks out of the handkerchiefs." 

Oliver wondered what picking the old gentleman's pocket 
in play, had to do with his chances of being a great man. 
But, thinking that the Jew, being so much his senior, must 
know best, he followed him quietly to the table, and was 
soon deeply involved in bis new study. 


CHAPTER X. 


OLIVER BECOMES BETTER ACQUAINTED WITH THE CHARACTERS 
OF HIS NEW ASSOCIATES ; AND PURCHASES EXPERIENCE AT 
A HIGH PRICE. BEING A SHORT, BUT VERY IMPORTANT 
CHAPTER, IN THIS HISTORY, 

For many days, Oliver remained in the Jew’s room, picking 
the marks out of the pocket-handkerchiefs, (of which a great 
number were brought home,) and sometimes taking part in 
the game already described : which the two boys and the 
Jew played, regularly, every morning. At length, he began 
to languish for fresh air, and took many occasions of earnestly 
entreating the old gentleman to allow him to go out to 
work, Avith his two companions. 

Oliver was rendered the more anxious to be actively 
employed, by what he had seen of the stern morality of the 
old gentleman’s character. Whenever the Dodger or Charley 
Bates came home at night, empty-handed, he Avould expatiate 
with great vehemence on the misery of idle and lazy habits; 
and would enforce upon them the necessity of an active life, 
by sending them supperless to bed. On one occasion, indeed, 
he even went so far as to knock them both down a flight of 
stairs ; but this was carrying out his virtuous precepts to an 
unusual extent. 

At length, one morning, Oliver obtained the perr 
he had so eagerly sought. There had been no handke 5 

to work upon, for two or three days, and the dinne 1 






TAKEN INTO CUSTODY. 


ne might have attempted to do, and thus have afFordeu 
another chase, had not a police officer (who is generally the 
last person to arrive in such cases) at that moment made 
his way through the crowd, and seized Oliver by the collar. 

^^Come, get up,’’ said the man, roughly. 

“It wasn’t me indeed, sir. Indeed, indeed, it wvas two 
other boys,” said Oliver, clasping his hands passionately, and 
looking round. “ They are here somewhere.” 

“Oh no, they ain’t,” said the officer. He meant this to 
be ironical, but it was true besides; for the Dodger and 
Charley Bates had filed off down the first convenient court 
they came to. “ Come, get up ! ” 

“ Don’t hurt him,” said the old gentleman, compassionately. 

“ Oh no, I won’t hurt him,” replied the officer, tearing his 
jacket' half off his back, in proof thereof. “Come, I know 
you ; it won’t do. Will you stand upon your legs, you young 
devil ? ” 

Oliver, who could hardly stand, made a shift to raise him- 
self on his feet, and was at once lugged along the streets by 
the jacket-collar, at a rapid pace. The gentleman walked 
on with them by the officer’s side ; and as many of the crowd 
as could achieve the feat, got a little a-head, and stared back 
at Oliver from time to time. The boys shouted in triumph ; 
and on they went. 


CHAPTER XL 


TREATS OF MR. FANG THE POLICE MAGISTRATE ; AND FURNISHES 
A SLIGHT SPECIMEN OF HIS MODE OF ADMINISTERING JUSTICE. 

The offence had been committed within the district, and 
indeed in the immediate neighbourhood of, a very notorious 
metropolitan police office. The crowd had only the satisfac- 
tion of accompanying Oliver through two or three streets, 
and down a place called Mutton Hill, when he was led 
beneath a low archway, and up a dirty com't, into this 
dispensary of summary justice, by the back way. It was a 
small paved yard into which they turned; and here they 
encountered a stout man with a bunch of whiskers on his 
face, and a bunch of keys in his hand. 

WhaPs the matter now ? ” said the man carelessly. 

“A young fogle-hunter,’’ replied the man who had Oliver 
in charge. 

^‘Are you the party that’s been robbed, sir.?” inquired 
the man with the keys. 

Yes, I am,” replied the old gentleman ; but I am not 
sure that this boy actually took the handkerchief. I — I 
would rather not press the case.” 

Must go before the magistrate now, sir,” replied the man. 
‘^His worship will be disengaged in half a minute. Now, 
young gallows ! ” 

This was an invitation for Oliver to enter throucrh a door 
which he unlocked as he spoke, and which led into a stone 


AT THE POLICE OFFICE. 87 

cell. Here he was searched ; and nothing being found upon 
him, locked up. 

This cell Avas in shape and size something like an area 
cellar, only not so light. It was most intolerably dirty ; for 
it was Monday morning; and it had been tenanted by six 
drunken people, who had been locked up, elsewhere, since 
Saturday night. But this is little. In our station-houses, 
men and Avomen are every night confined on the most trivial 
charges — the word is worth noting — in dungeons, compared 
with which, those in Newgate, occupied by the most atrocious 
felons, tried, found guilty, and under sentence of death, are 
palaces. Let any one who doubts this, compare the two. 

The old gentleman looked almost as rueful as Oliver when 
the key grated in the lock. He turned with a sigh to the 
book, Avhich had been the innocent cause of all this dis- 
turbance. 

There is something in that boy’s face,” said the old 
gentleman to himself as he walked slowly away, tapping his 
chin with the cover of the book, in a thoughtful manner; 

something that touches and interests me. Can he be 
innocent.^ He looked like. — By the bye,” exclaimed the old 
gentleman, halting very abruptly, and staring up into the 
sky, Bless my soul ! Where have I seen something like 
that look before ? ” 

After musing for some minutes, the old gentleman walked, 
with the same meditative face, into a back ante-room opening 
from the yard ; and there, retiring into a corner, called up 
before his mind’s eye a vast amphitheatre of faces over Avhich 
a dusky curtain had hung for many years. ‘^No,” said the 
old gentleman, shaking his head ; “ it must be imagination.” 

He Avandered over them again. He had called them into 
vieAv, and it was not easy to replace the shroud that had so 
long concealed them. There were the faces of friends, and 
foes, and of many that had been almost strangers peering 
intrusively from the crowd ; there were the faces of young 
and blooming girls that were now old women; there were 


88 


OLIVER TWIST. 


faces that the grave had changed and closed upon, but which 
the mind, superior to its power, still dressed in their old 
freshness and beauty, calling back the lustre of the eyes, the 
brightness of the smile, the beaming of the soul through its 
mask of clay, and whispering of beauty beyond the tomb, 
changed but to be heightened, and taken from earth only 
to be set up as a light, to shed a soft and gentle glow upon 
the path to Heaven. 

But the old gentleman could recall no one countenance of 
which Oliver’s features bore a trace. So, he heaved a sigh 
over the recollections he had awakened; and being, happily 
for himself, an absent old gentleman, buried them again in 
the pages of the musty book. 

He was roused by a touch on the shoulder, and a request 
from the man with the keys to follow him into the office. 
He closed his book hastily; and was at once ushered into 
the imposing presence of the renowned Mr. Fang. 

The office was a front parlour, with a panelled wall. Mr* 
Fang sat behind a bar, at the upper end ; and on one side 
the door was a sort of wooden pen in which poor little Oliver 
was already deposited : trembling very much at the awfulness 
of the scene. 

Mr. Fang was a lean, long-backed, stiff-necked, middle- 
sized man, with no great quantity of hair, and what he had, 
growing on the back and sides of his head. His face was 
stern, and much flushed. If he were really not in the habit 
of drinking rather more than was exactly good for him, he 
might have brought an action against his countenance for 
libel, and have recovered heavy damages. 

The old gentleman bowed respectfully ; and advancing to 
the magistrate’s desk, said, suiting the action to the word, 
‘^That is my name and address, sir.” He then withdrew a 
pace or two ; and, with another polite and gentlemanly 
inclination of the head, waited to be questioned. 

Now, it so happened that Mr. Fang was at that moment 
j)erusing a leading article in a newspaper of the morning, 


MR. FANG ON THE BENCH. 


89 


adverting to some recent decision of his, and commending 
him, for the three hundred and fiftieth time, to the special 
and particular notice of tl^ Secretary of State for the Home 
Department. He was out of temper; and he looked up 
with an angry scowl. 

Who are you ? said Mr. Fang. 

The old gentleman pointed, with some surprise, to his card. 

Officer ! ’’ said Mr. Fang, tossing the card contemptuously 
away with the newspaper. ^^Who is this fellow 

‘‘My name, sir,’’ s^id the old gentleman, speaking like a 
gentleman, “my name, sir, is Brownlow. Permit me to 
inquire the name of the magistrate who offers a gratuitous 
and unprovoked insult to a respectable person, under the 
protection of the bench.” Saying this, Mr. Brownlow looked 
round the office as if in search of some person who would 
afford him the required information. 

“ Officer ! ” said Mr. Fang, throwing the paper on one side, 
“what’s this fellow charged with.^” 

“ He’s not charged at all, your worship,” replied the officer. 
“He appears against the boy, your worship.” 

His worship knew this perfectly well ; but it was a good 
annoyance, and a safe one. 

“Appears against the boy, does he.?” said Fang, surveying 
Mr. Brownlow contemptuously from head to foot. “Swear 
him ! ” 

“Before I am sworn, I must beg to say one word,” said 
Mx. Brownlow: “and that is, that I really never, without 
actual experience, could have believed — ” 

“Hold your tongue, sir!” said Mr. Fang, peremptorily. 

“ I will not, sir ! ” replied the old gentleman. 

“ Hold your tongue this instant, or I’ll have you turned 
out of the office!” said Mr. Fang. “You’re an insolent, 
impertinent fellow. How dare you bully a magistrate ! ” 

“ What ! ” exclaimed the old gentleman, reddening. 

“ Swear this person ! ” said Fang to the clerk. “ I’ll not 
hear another word. Swear him.” 


90 


OLIVER TWIST. 


Mr. Browiilovv’s indignation was greatly roused ; but 
reflecting perhaps, that he might only injure the boy by 
giving vent to it, he suppressed his feelings and submitted 
to be sworn at once. 

Now,’’ said Fang, What’s the charge against this boy ? 
What have you got to say, sir ? ” 

‘^I was standing at a bookstall — ” Mr. Brownlow began. 

Hold your tongue, sir,” said Mr. Fang. Policeman ! 
Where’s the policeman.^ Here, swear this policeman. Now, 
policeman, what is this.^” 

The policeman, with becoming humility, related how he 
had taken the charge; how he had searched Oliver, and 
found nothing on his person ; and how that was all he knew 
about it. 

“Are there any witnesses.^” inquired Mr. Fang. 

“None, your worship,” replied the policeman. 

Mr. Fang sat silent for some minutes, and then, turning 
round to the prosecutor, said in a towering passion, 

“Do you mean to state what your complaint against this 
boy is, man, or do you not.^ You have been sworn. Now, 
if you stand there, refusing to give evidence. I’ll punish you 
for disrespect to the bench; I will, by — ” 

By what, or by whom, nobody knows, for the clerk and 
jailor coughed very loud, just at the right moment ; and the 
former dropped a heavy book upon the floor, thus preventing 
the word from being heard — accidentally, of course. 

With many interruptions, and repeated insults, Mr. Brown- 
low contrived to state his case ; observing that, in the 
surprise of the moment, he had run after the boy because 
he saw him running away ; and expressing his hope that, if 
the magistrate should believe him, although not actually the 
thief, to be connected with thieves, he would deal as leniently 
with him as justice would allow. 

“He has been hurt already,” said the old gentleman in 
conclusion. “And I fear,” he added, with great energy, 
looking towards the bar, “ I really fear that he is ill.” 


A PRAYER FOR WATER. 


91 


Oh ! yes, I dare say ! said Mr. Fang, with a sneer. 

Come, none of your tricks here, you young vagabond ; they 
won’t do. What’s your name?” 

Oliver tried to reply, but his tongue failed him. He was 
deadly pale ; and the whole place seemed turning round and 
round. 

^‘What’s your name, you hardened scoundrel?” demanded 
Mr. Fang. Officer, what’s his name ? ” 

This was addressed to a bluff old fellow, in a striped 
waistcoat, who was standing by the bar. He bent over 
Oliver, and repeated the inquiry ; but finding him really 
incapable of understanding the question ; and knowing that 
his not replying would only infuriate the magistrate the 
more, and add to the severity of his sentence; he hazarded 
a guess. 

“He says his name’s Tom White, your worship,” said this 
kind-hearted thief-taker. 

“ Oh, he won’t speak out, won’t he ? ” said Fang. “ Very 
well, very well. Where does he live ? ” 

“Where he can, your worship,” replied the officer; again 
pretending to receive Oliver’s answer. 

“ Has he any parents ? ” inquired Mr. Fang. 

“ He says they died in his infancy, your worship,” replied 
the officer : hazarding the usual reply. 

At this point of the inquiry, Oliver raised his head ; and, 
looking round with imploring eyes, murmured a feeble prayer 
for a draught of water. 

“ Stuff and nonsense ! ” said Mr. Fang : “ don’t try to 
make a fool of me.” 

“I think he really is ill, your worship,” remonstrated the 
officer. 

“I know better,” said Mr. Fang. 

“ Take care of him, officer,” said the old gentleman, raising 
his hands instinctively ; “ he’ll fall down.” 

“ Stand away, officer,” cried Fang ; “ let him, if he likes.” 

Oliver availed himself of the kind permission, and fell to 


92 


OLIVER TWIST- 


the floor in a fainting fit. The men in office looked at 
each other, but no one dared to stir. 

‘^I knew he was shamming,’’ said as if this were 

incontestable proof of the fact. “Let 1 lie there; he’ll 
soon be tired of that.” 

“ How do you propose to deal with the case, sir ? ” inquired 
the clerk in a low voice. 

“Summarily,” replied Mr. Fang. “He stands committed 
for three months — hard labour of course. Clear the office.” 

The door was opened for this purpose, and a couple of 
men were preparing to carry the insensible boy to his cell ; 
when an elderly man of decent but poor appearance, clad in 
an old suit of black, rushed hastily into the office, and 
advanced towards the bench. 

“ Stop, stop ! Don’t take him away ! For Heaven’s sake 
stop a moment ! ” cried the new-comer, breathless with haste. 

Although the presiding Genii in such an office as this, 
exercise a summary and arbitrary power over the liberties, 
the good name, the character, almost the lives, of Her 
Majesty’s subjects, especially of the poorer class ; and although, 
within such walls^ enough fantastic tricks are daily played to 
make the angels blind with weeping; they are closed to the 
public, save through the medium of the daily press.* Mr. 
Fang was consequently not a little indignant to see an 
unbidden guest enter in such irreverent disorder. 

“What is this.? Who is this.? Turn this man out. 
Clear the office ! ” cried Mr. Fang. 

“ I will speak,” cried the man ; “ I will not be turned out. 
I saw it all. I keep the book-stall. I demand to be sworn. 
I will not be put down. Mr. Fang, you must hear me. 
You must not refuse, sir.” 

The man was right. His manner was determined; and 
the matter was growing rather too serious to be hushed up. 

“ Swear the man,” growled Mr. Fang, with a very ill grace, 
“ Now, man, what have you got to say .? ” 

^ Or were virtually, then, 


A NEW FEATURE IN THE CASE. 


03 ^ 


This,’’ said the man : “ I saw three boys : two others and 
the prisoner here : loitering on the opposite side of the way, 
when this gentleman was reading. The robbery was com- 
mitted by another boy. I saw it done ; and I saw that this 
boy was perfectly amazed and stupefied by it.” Having by 
this time recovered a little breath, the worthy book-stall 
keeper proceeded to relate, in a more coherent manner, the 
exact circumstances of the robbery. 

Why didn’t you come here before ? ” said Fang, after a 
pause. 

‘‘I hadn’t a soul to mind the shop,” replied the man. 
‘^Everybody who could have helped me, had joined in the 
pursuit. I could get nobody till five minutes ago ; and I’ve 
run here all the way.” 

^‘The prosecutor was reading, was he.^” inquired Fang, 
after another pause. 

^‘Yes,” replied the man. “The very book he has in his 
hand.” 

“Oh, that book, eh.^^” said Fang. “Is it paid for.^” 

“No, it is not,” replied the man, with a smile. 

“ Dear me, I forgot all about it ! ” exclaimed the absent 
old gentleman, innocently. 

“ A nice person to prefer a charge against a poor boy ! ” 
said Fang, with a comical effort to look humane. “ I consider, 
sir, that you have obtained possession of that book, under 
very suspicious and disreputable circumstances ; and you may 
think yourself very fortunate that the owner of the property 
declines to prosecute. Let this be a lesson to you, my man, 
or the law will overtake you yet. The boy is discharged. 
Clear the office.” 

“D — n me ! ” cried the old gentleman, bursting out with 
the rage he had kept down so long, “ d — n me ! I’ll — ” 

“ Clear the office ! ” said the magistrate. “ Officers, do you 
hear ? Clear the office ! ” 

The mandate was obeyed ; and the indignant Mr. Brownlow 
was conveyed out, with the book in one hand, and the 


94 


OLIVER TWIST. 


bamboo cane in the other : in a perfect phrenzy of rage and 
defiance. He reached the yard ; and his passion vanished in 
a moment. Little Oliver Twist lay on his back on the pave- 
ment, with his shirt unbuttoned, and his temples bathed with 
water ; his face a deadly white ; and a cold tremble convulsing 
his whole frame. 

“ Poor boy, poor boy ! said Mr. Brownlow, bending over 
him. Call a coach, somebody, pray. Directly ! *” 

A coach was obtained, and Oliver, having been carefully 
laid on one seat, the old gentleman got in and sat himself 
on the other. 

‘‘May I accompany you?'’ said the book-stall keeper, 
looking in. 

“Bless me, yes, my dear sir,” said Mr. Brownlow quickly. 
“ I forgot you. Dear^ dear ! I have this unhappy book still ! 
Jump in. Poor fellow ! There’s no time to lose.” 

The book-stall keeper got into the coach ; and away they 
drove. 


CHAPTER Xn. 

IX WHICH OLIVER IS TAKEX RETTER CARE OF THAN HE EVER 
WAS BEFORE. AND IN WHICH THE NARRATIVE REVERTS TO 
THE MERRY OLD GENTLEMAN AND HIS YOUTHFUL FRIENDS. 

The coach rattled away, over nearly the same ground as that 
which Oliver had traversed when he first entered London in 
company with the Dodger; and, turning a different way 
when it reached the Angel at Islington, stopped at length 
before a neat house, in a quiet shady street near Pentonville. 
Here, a bed was prepared, without loss of time, in which Mr. 
Brownlow saw his young charge carefully and comfortably 
deposited; and here, he was tended with a kindness and 
solicitude that knew no bounds. 

But, for many days, Oliver remained insensible to all the 
goodness of his new friends. The sun rose and sank, and 
rose and sank again, and many times after that; and still 
the boy lay stretched on his uneasy bed, dwindling away 
beneath the dry and wasting heat of fever. The worm does 
not his work more surely on the dead body, than does this 
slow creeping fire upon the living frame. 

Weak, and thin, and pallid, he awoke at last from what 
seemed to have been a long and troubled dream. Feebly 
raising himself in the bed^ with his head resting on his 
trembling arm, he looked anxiously around. 

What room is this ? Where have I been brought to ? 
said Oliver. ‘^This is not the place I went to sleep in.” 


96 


OLIVER TWIST. 


He uttered these words in a feeble voice, being very faint 
and weak; but they were overheard at once. The curtain 
at the bed’s head was hastily drawn back, and a motherly 
old lady, very neatly and precisely dressed, rose as she undrew 
it, from an arm-chair close by, in which she had been sitting 
at needle- work. 

‘^Hush, my dear,” said the old lady softly. ‘^You must 
be very quiet, or you will be ill again ; and you have been 
very bad, — as bad as bad could be, pretty nigh. Lie down 
again ; there’s a dear ! ” With those words, the old lady 
very gently placed Oliver’s head upon the pillow ; and, 
smoothing back his hair from his forehead, looked so kindly 
and lovingly in his face, that he could not help placing 
his little withered hand in hers, and drawing it round 
his neck. 

Save us ! ” said the old lady, with tears in her eyes, 
“ What a grateful little dear it is. Pretty creetur ! What 
would his mother feel if she had sat by him as I have, and 
could see him now ! ” 

Perhaps she does see me,” whispered Oliver, folding his 
hands together; ‘‘perhaps she has sat by me. I almost feel 
as if she had.” 

“ That was the fever, my dear,” said tlie old lady mildly. 

“I suppose it was,” replied Oliver, “because heaven is a 
long way off; and they are too happy there, to come down 
to the bedside of a poor boy. But if she knew I was ill, 
she must have pitied me, even there ; for she was very ill 
herself before she died. She can’t know anything about me 
though,” added Oliver after a moment’s silence. “ If she had 
seen me hurt, it would have made her sorrowful ; and her 
face has always looked sweet and happy, when I have dreamed 
of her.” 

The old lady made no reply to this ; but wiping her eyes 
first, and her spectacles, which lay on the counterpane, after- 
wards, as if they were part and parcel of those features, 
brought some cool stuff for Oliver to drink ; and then, patting 


GETTIxNG BETTER. 97 

him on the cheek, told him he must lie very quiet, or he 
would be ill again. 

So, Oliver kept very still ; partly because he was anxious 
to obey the kind old lady in all things ; and partly, to tell 
the truth, because he was completely exhausted with what 
he had already said. He soon fell into a gentle dose, from 
which he was awakened by the light of a candle: which, 
being brought near the bed, showed him a gentleman with 
a very large and loud-ticking gold watch in his hand, who 
felt his pulse, and said he was a great deal better. 

“You are a great deal better, are you not, my dear.^’’ 
said the gentleman. 

“Yes, thank you, sir,*” replied Oliver. 

“Yes, I know you are,"’ said the gentleman: “You’re 
hungry too, an’t you ? ” 

“No, sir,” answered Oliver. 

“ Hem ! ” said the gentleman. “ No, I know you’re not. 
He is not hungry, Mrs. Bed win,” said the gentleman : looking 
very wise. 

The old lady made a respectful inclination of the head, which 
seemed to say that she thought the doctor was a very clever 
man. The doctor appeared much of the same opinion himself. 

“You feel sleepy, don’t you, my dear?” said the doctor. 

“No, sir,” replied Oliver. 

“No,” said the doctor, with a very shrewd and satisfied 
look. “You’re not sleepy. Nor thirsty. Are you?” 

“Yes, sir, rather thirsty,” answered Oliver. 

“ Just as I expected, Mrs. Bed win,” said the doctor. “ It’s 
very natural that he should be thirsty. You may give him a 
little tea, ma’am, and some dry toast without any butter. 
Don’t keep him too warm, ma’am ; but be careful that you 
don’t let him be too cold ; will you have the goodness ? ” 

rhe old lady dropped a curtsey. The doctor, after tasting 
the cool stuff, and expressing a qualified approval of it, 
hurried away : his boots creaking in a very important and 
wealtViy manner as he went down stairs. 


II 


98 


OLIVER TWIST. 


Oliver dosed off again, soon after this ; when he awoke, it 
was nearly twelve o’clock. The old lady tenderly bade him 
good-night shortly afterwards, and left him in charge of a 
fat old woman who had just come : bringing with her, in a 
little bundle, a small Prayer Book and a large nightcap. 
Putting the latter on her head and the former on the table, 
the old woman, after telling Oliver that she had come to sit 
up with him, drew her chair close to the tire and went off into 
a series of short naps, chequered at frequent intervals with 
sundry tumblings forward, and divers moans and chokings. 
These, however, had no worse effect than causing her to rub 
her nose very hard, and then fall asleep again. 

And thus the night crept slowly on. Oliver lay awake for 
some time, counting the little circles of light which the 
reflection of the rushlight-shade threw upon the ceiling; or 
ti'acing with his languid eyes the intricate pattern of the 
paper on the wall. The darkness and the deep stillness of 
the room were very solemn ; as they brought into the boy’s 
mind the thought that death had been hovering there, for 
many days and nights, and might yet fill it with the gloom 
and dread of his awful presence, he turned his face upon the 
pillow, and fervently prayed to Heaven. 

Gradually, he fell into that deep tranquil sleep which ease 
from recent suftering alone imparts ; that calm and peaceful 
rest which it is pain to wake from. Who, if this were death, 
would be roused again to all the struggles and turmoils of 
life ; to all its cares for the present ; its anxieties for the 
future ; more than all, its weary recollections of the past ! 

It had been bright day, for hours, when Oliver opened his 
eyes ; he felt cheerful and happy. The crisis of the disease 
was safely past. He belonged to the world again. 

In three days’ time he was able to sit in an easy-chair, 
well propped up with pillows ; and, as he was still too weak 
to walk, Mrs. Bedwin had him carried down stairs into the 
little housekeeper’s room, which belonged to her. Having 
him set, here, by the fireside, the good old lady sat Lerself 


A PORTRAIT. 


down too; and, being in a state of considerable c 
seeing him so much better, forthwith began to 
violently. 

Never mind me, my dear,*’’ said the old lady. Pm 
having a regular good cry. There; it’s all over now; anu 
Pm quite comfortable.” 

You’re very, very kind to me, ma’am,” said Oliver. 

Well, never you mind that, my dear,” said the old lady ; 
that’s got nothing to do with your broth ; and it’s full time 
you had it; for the doctor says Mr. Brownlow may come in 
to see you this morning ; and we must get up our best looks, 
because the better we look, the more he’ll be pleased.” And 
with this, the old lady applied herself to warming up, in a 
little saucepan, a basin full of broth : strong enough, Oliver 
thought, to furnish an ample dinne *, when reduced to the 
regulation strength, for three hundred and fifty paupers, at 
the lowest computation. 

“Are you fond of pictures, dear?” inquired the old lady, 
seeing that Oliver had fixed his eyes, most intently, on a 
portrait which hung against the wall; just opposite his 
chair. 

“I don’t quite know, ma’am,” said Oliver, without taking 
his eyes from the canvas ; “ I have seen so few, that I hardly 
know. What a beautiful, mild face that lady’s is ! ” 

“ Ah ! ” said the old lady, “ painters always make ladies 
out prettier than they are, or they wouldn’t get any custom, 
child. The man that invented the machine for taking likenesses 
might have known that would never succeed; it’s a deal too 
honest. A deal,” said the old lady, laughing very heartily 
at her own acuteness. 

“ Is — ^is that a likeness, ma’am ? ” said Oliver. 

“ ^t^s,” said the old lady, looking up for a moment from 
the broth ; “ that’s a portrait.” 

“ Whose, ma’am ? ” asked Oliver. 

“ Why, really, my dear, I don’t know,” answered the old 
* ly in a good-humoured manner, “It’s not a likeness of 


OLIVER TWIST. 


you or I know, I expect. It seems to strike 
far.’’ 

;ry pretty,” replied Oliver. 

*re you’re not afraid of it ? ” said the old lady : 
, in great surprise, the look of awe with which the 
.egarded the painting. 

^ Oh no, no,” returned Oliver quickly ; “ but the eyes look 
so sorrowful ; and where I sit, they seem fixed upon me. It 
makes my heart beat,” added Oliver in a low voice, ‘‘ as if it 
was alive, and wanted to speak to me, but couldn’t.” 

Lord save us ! ” exclaimed the old lady, starting ; don’t 
talk in that way, child. You’re weak and nervous after your 
illness. Let me wheel your chair round to the other side ; 
and then you won’t see it. There ! ” said the old lady, suiting 
the action to the word ; t “ you don’t see it now, at all events.” 

Oliver did see it in his mind’s eye as distinctly as if he had 
not altered his position ; but he thought it better not to 
worry the kind old Jady ; so he smiled gently when she looked 
at him ; and Mrs. Bedwin, satisfied that he felt more comfort- 
able, salted and broke bits of toasted bread into the broth, 
with all the bustle befitting so solemn a preparation. Oliver 
got through it with extraordinary expedition. He had 
scarcely swallowed the last spoonful, when there came a soft 
rap at the door. Come in,” said the old lady ; and in 
walked Mr. Brownlow. 

Now, the old gentleman came in as brisk as need be ; but, 
he had no sooner raised his spectacles on his forehead, and 
thrust his hands behind the skirts of his dressing-gown to 
take a good long look at Oliver, than his countenance 
underwent a very great variety of odd contortions. Oliver 
looked very worn and shadowy from sickness, and made an 
ineffectual attempt to stand up, out of respect to his bene- 
factor, which terminated in his sinking back into the chair 
again ; and the fact is, if the truth must be told tliat Mr. 
Brownlow’s heart, being large enough for any six ordinary old 
gentlemen of humane disposition, forced a supply of tears in 



J 



i 

1 


% 



MR. BROWNLOW IS SURPRISED. 101 

his eyes, by some hydraulic process which we are not suffi- 
ciently philosophical to be in a condition to explain. 

Poor boy, poor boy ! ’’ said Mr. Brownlow, clearing his 
throat. I’m rather hoarse this morning, Mrs. Bedwin. I’m 
afraid I have caught cold.” 

^^I hope not, sir,” said Mrs. Bedwin. ‘^Everything you 
have had, has been well aired, sir.” 

“ I don’t know, Bedwin. I don’t know,” said Mr. Brownlow ; 

I rather think I had a damp napkin at dinner-time yesterday ^ 
but never mind that. How do you feel, my dear ? ” 

“Very happy, sir,” replied Oliver. “And very grateful 
indeed, sir, for your goodness to me.” 

“ Good boy,” said Mr. Brownlow, stoutly. “ Have you 
[^iven him any nourishment, Bedwin Any slops, eh?” 

“He has just had a basin of beautiful strong broth, sir,” 
replied Mrs. Bedwin : drawing herself up slightly, and laying 
a strong emphasis on the last word : to intimate that between 
slops, and broth well compounded, there existed no affinity 
or connexion whatsoever. 

“ Ugh ! ” said Mr. Brownlow, with a slight shudder ; “ a 
couple of glasses of port wine would have done him a great 
deal more good. Wouldn’t they, Tom White, eh?” 

“ My name is Oliver, sir,” replied the little invalid : with 
a look of great astonishment. 

“ Oliver,” said Mr. Brownlow ; “ Oliver what ? Oliver 
White, eh?” 

“ No, sir, Twist, Oliver Twist.” 

“ Queer name ! ” said the old gentleman. “ What made 
you tell the magistrate your name was White ? ” 

“I never told him so, sir,” returned Oliver in amazement. 

This sounded so like a falsehood, that the old gentleman 
looked somewhat sternly in Oliver’s face. It was impossible 
to doubt him ; there was truth in every one of its thin and 
sharpened lineaments. 

“Some mistake,” said Mr. Brownlow. But, although hi^ 
motive for looking steadily at Oliver no longer existed, th( 


OLIVER TWIST. 


of the resemblance between his features and some 
face came upon him so strongly, that he could not 
^ his gaze. 

»pe you are not angry with me, sir.^^” said Oliver, 
lis eyes beseechingly. 

no,’** replied the old gentleman. Why ! what’^s this ? 
look there ! ’’ 

spoke, he pointed hastily to the picture above Oliver's 
id then to the boy’s face. There was its living copy, 
js, the head, the mouth ; every feature was the same, 
pression was, for the instant, so precisely alike, that 
iutest line seemed copied with startling accuracy ! 
r knew not the cause of this sudden exclamation ; for, 
ng strong enough to bear the start it gave him, he 
away. A weakness on his part, which affords the 
7e an opportunity of relieving the reader from suspense, 
tlf of the two young pupils of the Merry Old Gentle- 
xnd of recording — 

t when the Dodger, and his accomplished friend Master 
joined in the hue-and-cry which was raised at Oliver’s 
in consequence of their executing an illegal conveyance 
’. Brownlow’s personal property, as has been already 
)ed, they were actuated by a very laudable and becoming 
. for themselves ; and forasmuch as the freedom of the 
t and the liberty of tlie individual are among the first 
roudest boasts of a true-hearted Englishman, so, I need 
f beg the reader to observe, that this action should 
to exalt them in the opinion of all public and patriotic 
in almost as great a degree as this strong proof of their 
ty for their own preservation and safety goes to corrobo- 
md confirm the little code of laws which certain profound 
sound- judging philosophers have laid down as the main- 
gs of all Nature’s deeds and actions : the said philosophers 
wisely reducing the good lady’s proceedings to matters 
axim and theory : and, by a very neat and pretty compli- 
t to her exalted wisdom and understanding, putting 


PHILOSOPHICAL FORESIGHT. 


103 


entirely out of sight any considerations of heart, or generous 
impulse and feeling. For, these are matters totally beneath 
a female who is acknowledged by universal admission to be 
far above the numerous little foibles and weaknesses of her sex. 

If I wanted any further proof of the strictly philosophical 
nature of the conduct of these young gentlemen in their 
very delicate predicament, I should at once find it in the fact 
(also recorded in a foregoing part of this narrative), of their 
quitting the pursuit, when the general attention was fixed 
upon Oliver ; and making immediately for their home by the 
shortest possible cut. Although I do not mean to assert 
that it is usually the practice of renowned and learned sages, 
to shorten the road to any great conclusion (their course 
indeed being rather to lengthen the distance, by various 
circumlocutions and discursive staggerings, like unto those in 
which drunken men under the pressure of a too mighty flow 
of ideas, are prone to indulge) ; still, I do mean to say, and 
do say distinctly, that it is the invariable practice of many 
mighty philosophers, in carrying out their theories, to evince 
great wisdom and foresight in providing against every possible 
contingency which can be supposed at all likely to affect 
themselves. Thus, to do a great right, you may do a little 
wrong ; and you may take any means which the end to be 
attained will justify ; the amount of the right, or the amount 
of the wrong, or indeed the distinction between the two, 
being left entirely to the philosopher concerned, to be settled 
and determined by his clear, comprehensive, and impartial 
view of his own particular case. 

It was not until the two boys had scoured, with great 
rapidity, through a most intricate maze of narrow streets 
and courts, that they ventured to halt beneath a low and 
dark archway. Having remained silent here, just long enough 
to recover breath to speak. Master Bates uttered an exclama- 
tion of amusement and delight ; and, bursting into an uncon- 
trollable fit of laughter, flung himself upon a door-step, and 
rolled thereon in a transport of mirth. 


104 ^ 


OLIVER WIST. 


What's the matter ? " inquired the Dodger. 

Ha ! ha ! ha ! " roared Charley Bates. 

Hold your noise," remonstrated the Dodger, looking 
cautiously round. Do you want to be grabbed, stupid ? " 

I can't help it," said Charley, “ I can't help it ! To see 
him splitting away at that pace, and cutting round the 
corners, and knocking up again the posts, and starting on 
again as if he was made of iron as well as them, and me with 
the wipe in my pocket, singing out arter him — oh, my eye ! " 
The vivid imagination of Master Bates, presented the scene 
before him in too strong colours. As he arrived at this 
apostrophe, he again rolled upon the door-step, and laughed 
louder than before. 

‘^What'll Fagin say.?" inquired the Dodger; taking ad- 
vantage of the next interval of breathlessness on the part of 
his friend to propound the question. 

“What.?" repeated Charley Bates. 

“Ah, what.?" said the Dodger. 

“ Why, what should he say .? inquired Charley : stopping 
rather suddenly in his merriment; for the Dodger's manner 
was impressive. “What should he say.?" 

Mr. Dawkins whistled for a couple of minutes ; then, taking 
off his hat, scratched his head, and nodded thrice. 

“ What do you mean .? " said Charley. 

“Toor rul lol loo, gammon and spinnage, the frog he 
wouldn't, and high cockolorum," said the Dodger: with a 
slight sneer on his intellectual countenance. 

This was explanatory, but not satisfactory. Master Bates 
felt it so ; and again said, “ What do you mean ? " 

The Dodger made no reply ; but putting his hat on again, 
and gathering the skirts of his long-tailed coat under his 
arm, thrust his tongue into his cheek, slapped the bridge of 
his nose some half-dozen times in a familiar but expressive 
manner, and turning on his heel, slunk down the court. 
Master Bates followed, with a thoughtful countenance. 

The noise of footsteps on the creaking stairs, a few minutes 


WONDERMENT. 


after the occurrence of this conversation, roused the men 
old gentleman as he sat over the fire with a saveloy and a 
small loaf in his left hand ; a pocket-knife in his right ; and 
a pewter pot on the trivet. There was a rascally smile on 
his white face as he turned round, and, looking sharply out 
from under his thick red eyebrows, bent his ear towards the 
door, and listened. 

Why, how’s this ” muttered the Jew, changing counte- 
nance ; only two of ’em Where’s the third ? They can’t 
have got into trouble. Hark ! ” 

The footsteps approached nearer ; they reached the landing. 
The door was slowly opened ; and the Dodger and Charley 
Bates entered, closing it behind them. 


CHAPTER XIIL 


SOME NEW ACQUAINTANCES ARE INTRODUCED TO THE INTELLI- 
GENT READER, CONNECTED WITH WHOM, VARIOUS PLEASANT 
M VTTERS ARE RELATED, APPERTAINING TO THIS HISTORY. 

" Where‘’s Oliver?’** said the Jew, rising with a menacing 
look. ‘^Where'*s the boy?**’ 

The young thieves eyed their preceptor as if they were 
alarmed at his violence ; and looked uneasily at each other. 
But they made no reply. 

‘^What’s become of the boy?” said the Jew, seizing the 
Dodger tightly by the collar, and threatening him with horrid 
imprecations. “ Speak out, or I’ll thi'ottle you ! ” 

Mr. Fagin looked so very much in earnest, that Charley 
Bates, who deemed it prudent in all cases to be on the safe 
side, and who conceived it by no means improbable that it 
might be his turn to be throttled second, dropped upon his 
knees, and raised a loud, well-sustained, and continuous roar 
— something between a mad bull and a speaking trumpet. 

Will you speak ? ” thundered the Jew : shaking the Dodger 
so much that his keeping in the big coat at all, seemed 
perfectly miraculous. 

^‘Why, the traps have got him, and that’s all abo’ 
said the Dodger, sullenly. Come, let go o’ me, will 
And, swinging himself, at one jerk, clean out of i ^ 

coat, which he left in the Jew’s hands, the Dodger f i 

up the toasting fork, and madie a pass at the n id 

/ 


APPEARANCE OE BILL SI 


^gentleman’s waistcoat; which, if it had taken 
have let a little more merriment out, than coulu 
easily replaced. 

The Jew stepped back in this emergency, with more v 
than could have been anticipated in a man of his appa^ 
decrepitude ; and, seizing up the pot, prepai’ed to hurl it a 
his assailant’s head. But Charley Bates, at this moment, 
calling his attention by a perfectly terrific howl, he suddenly 
altered its destination, and flung it full at that young gentle- 
man. 

Why, what the blazes is in the wind now ! ” growled a 
d^ep voice. ‘^Who pitched that ’ere at me.? It’s well it’s 
the beer, and not the pot, as hit me, or I’d have settled some- 
body. I might have know’d, as nobody but an infernal, rich, 
plundering, thundering old Jew could afford to throw away 
any drink but water — and not that, unless he done the River 
Company every quarter. Wot’s it all about, Fagin ? D — me, 
if my neck-handkercher an’t lined with beer ! Come in, you 
sneaking warmint; wot are you stopping outside for, as if 
you was ashamed of your master ! Come in ! ” 

The man who growled out these words, was a stoutly-built 
fellow of about five-and-thirty, in a black velveteen coat, very 
soiled drab breeches, lace-up half boots, and grey cotton 
stockings, which inclosed a bulky pair of legs, with large 
swelling calves; — the kind of legs, which in such costume, 
always look in an unfinished and incomplete state without a 
set of fetters to garnish them. He had a brown hat on his 
head, and a dirty belcher handkerchief round his neck : with 
the long frayed ends of which he smeared the beer from his 
face as he spoke. He disclosed, when he had done so, a broad 
heavy countenance with a beard of three days’ growth, and two 
scowling eyes ; one of which displayed various parti-coloured 
symptoms of having been recently damaged by a blow. 

Come in, d’ye hear ? ” growled this engaging ruffian. 

A white shaggy dog, with his face scratched and tom in 
twenty different places, skulked into the room. 


OLIVER TWIST. 


ju come in afore ? ’’ said the : 
ad to own me afore company. 


“ YouVe 
you ? Lie 


mand was accompanied with a ki» hich sent 
a to the other end of the room. He ared well 

it, however ; for he coiled himself up in mer very 

y, without uttering a sound, and winking very ill- 

Ang eyes twenty times in a minute, appeal :> occupy 

amself in taking a survey of the apartment. 

What are you up to ? Ill-treating the boys, ^ ovetous, 
avaricious, in-sa-ti-a-ble old fence ? said the i ^ seating 
himself deliberately. I wonder they don’t murder you ! 
I would if I was them. If Fd been your ’prentice. I’d have 
done it long ago, and — ^no, I couldn’t have sold you after- 
wards, for you’re fit for nothing but keeping as a curiosity 
of ugliness in a glass bottle, and I suppose they don’t blow 
glass bottles large enough.” 

Hush ! hush ! Mr. Sikes,” said the Jew, trembling ; don’t 
speak so loud.” 

None of your mistering,” replied the ruffian ; you always 
mean mischief when you come that. You know my name: 
out with it ! I shan’t disjrrace it when the time comes.” 

‘‘Well, well, then — Bill Sikes,” said the Jew, with abject 
humility. “ You seem out of humour. Bill.” 

“ Perhaps I am,” replied Sikes ; “ I should think you was 
rather out of sorts too, unless you mean as little harm when 
you throw pewter pots about, as you do when you blab and — ” 
“Are you mad.^” said the Jew, catching the man by the 
sleeve, and pointing towards the boys. 

Mr. Sikes contented himself with tying an imaginary knot 
under his left ear, and jerking his head over on the right 
shoulder; a piece of dumb show which the Jew appeared to 
understand perfectly. He then, in ci *''rms, with which 
his whole conversation was plentifully I ikied, but which 
would be quite unintelligible if thej ' recorded here, 
demanded a glass of liquor, 


ALARM! 


‘^And mind you don't ypoison it," said Mr. Sikes, layin^ 
his hat upon the table. 

Tliis was said in jest ; but if the speaker could have seen 
the evil leer with which i the Jew bit his pale lip as he turned 


round to the cupb 
not wholly unnecf 
upon the distill" 
man's merry b 
After swah 
condescends 
which grac.x 
and manr er of 
with SI .1 alteration^ 


' might have thought the caution 
the wish (at all events) to improve 
" not very far from the old gentle- 

‘iree glasses of spirits, Mr. Sikes 
'itice of the young gentlemen ; 
inversation, in which the cause 
were circumstantially detailed, 
ad imyirovements on the truth, as to 


the Do ger appeared most advisable under the circumstances. 

‘^I'r aliis.id," said the Jew, ‘^that he may say something 
whit, will get us into trouble." 

lat's vei*y likely," returned Sikes with a malicious grin. 

Yo 're blowecJ upon, Fagin." 

“And I'm afraid, you see," added the Jew, speaking as if 
he had not noticed the interruption ; and regarding the other 
closely as he did so, — “ I'm afraid that, if the game was up 
with us, it might be up with a good many more, and that 
it would come out ra\ther worse . for you than it would for 
me, my dear." 

|rhe man started, and turned round upon the Jew. But 
the old gentleman's shoulders were shmgged up to his ears; 
and his eyes were vacantly staring on the opposite wall. 

There was a long pause. Every member of the respectable 
coterie appeared plunged in his own reflections ; not excepting 
the dog, who by a certain malicious licking of his lips seemed 
to be meditating an attack upon the legs of the first gentle- 
n:»an or lady he might encounter in the streets when he went 
out. 

“ Somebody must find out wot's been done at the office," 
sjjiid Mr. Sikes in a much lower tone than he had taken since 
^ came in. 


d tflt? VJK 

IS due to the young '*0 c she did 1 

tively affirm that she would she merely ( 

an emphatic and earnest desii ylessed if sh 

a polite and delicate evasion c quest, which six. 

young lady to have been poss if that natural j 

i breeding which cannot bear to in >011 a fellow-crea 
the pain of a direct and pointed re. 

The Jew‘^s countenance fell. He from this yc 

lady, who was gaily, not to say gorge attired, in a 
gown, green boots, and yellow curl-paper^, co the other fen 

‘‘Nancy, my dear,’’ said the Jew in a soothing mar 
“ what do you say ? ” 

“ That it won’t do ; so it’s no use a-trying it on, Faj 
replied 


NANCY. Ill 

“What do you mean by that?” said Mr. Sikes, looking 
up in a surly manner. 

“ What I say, Bill,” replied the lady collectedly. 

“Why, youVe just the very person for it,” reasoned Mr. 
Sikes: “nobody about here knows anything of you.” 

“And as I don’t want ’em to, neither,” replied Nancy in 
the same composed manner, “it’s rather more no than yes 
with me, Bill.” 

“ She’ll go, Fagin,” said Sikes. 

“No, she won’t, Fagin,” said Nancy. 

“ Yes she will, Fagin,” said Sikes. 

And Mr. Sikes was right. By dint of alternate threats, 
promises, and bribes, the lady in question was ultimately 
prevailed upon to undertake the commission. She was not, 
indeed, withheld by .the same considerations as her agTeeable 
friend; for, having recently removed into the neighbourhood 
of Field Lane from the remote but genteel suburb of Ratcliffe, 
she was not under the same apprehension of being recognised 
by any of her numerous acquaintance. 

Accordingly, with a clean white apron tied over her gown, 
and her curl-papers tucked up under a straw bonnet, — both 
articles of dress being provided from the Jew’s inexhaustible 
stock, — Miss Nancy prepared to issue forth on her errand. 

“Stop a minute, my dear,” said the Jew, producing a 
little covered basket. “Carry that in one hand. It looks 
more respectable, my dear.” 

“ Give her a door-key to carry in her t’other one, Fagin,” 
said Sikes ; “ it looks real and genivine like.” 

“Yes, yes, my dear, so it does,” said the Jew, hanging a 
large street-door key on the forefinger of the young lady’s 
right hand. “There; very good! Very good indeed, my 
dear ! ” said the Jew, rubbing his hands. 

“ Oh, my brother ! My poor, dear, sweet, innocent little 
brother ! ” exclaimed Nancy, bursting into tears, and wringing 
the little basket and the street-door key in an agony of 
distress. “ WheA, has become of him ! Where have they 


) 


OLIVER TW^ 


taken him to ! Oh, do have pity^ tell me what^s been 
done with the dear boy, gentlemen ; do, gentlemen, if you 
please, gentlemen ! ’’’ 

Having uttered these words in a most lamentable and 
heart-broken tone to the immeasurable delight of her 
hearers. Miss Nancy paused, winked to the company, nodded 
smilingly round, and disappeared. 

Ah ! she’s a clever girl, my dears,” said the Jew, turning 
round to his young friends, and shaking his head gravely, 
as if in mute admonition to them to follow the bright 
example they had just beheld. 

She’s a honour to her sex,” said Mr. Sikes, filling his 
glass, and smiting the table with his enormous fist. Here’s 
her health, and wishing they was all like her ! ” 

While these, and many other encomiums, were being passed 
on the accomplished Nancy, that young lady made the best 
of her way to the police-office ; whither, notwithstanding a 
little natural timidity consequent upon walking through the 
streets alone and unprotected, she arrived in perfect safety 
shortly afterwards. 

Entering by the back way, she tapped softly with the key 
at one of the cell-doors, and listened. There was no sound 
within : so she coughed and listened again. Still there was 
no reply : so she spoke. 

Nolly, dear ? ” murmured Nancy in a gentle voice ; Nolly?” 

There was nobody inside but a miserable shoeless criminal, 
who had been taken up for playing the flute, and who, the 
offence against society having been clearly proved, had been 
very properly committed by Mr. Fang to the House of 
Correction for one month ; with the appropriate and amusing 
remark that since he had so much breath to spare, it would 
be more wholesomely expended on the treadmill than in a 
musical instrument. He made no answer : being occupied in 
mentally bewailing the loss of the flute, which had been 
confiscated for the use of the county ; so Nancy passed on to 
the next cell, and knocked there. 


113 


) 

INQUIRIl )R OLIVER. 

Well ! cried a faint anu teeble voice. 

there a little boy here.^*” inquired Nancy, with a 
preliminary sob. 

No,’’ replied the voice ; God forbid.” 

This was a' vagrant of sixty-five, who was going to prison 
for not playing the flute ; or, in other words, for begging in 
the streets, and doing nothing for his livelihood. In the 
next cell, was another man, who was going to the same prison 
for hawking tin saucepans without a license ; thereby doing 
something for his living, in defiance of the Stamp-office. 

But, as neither of these criminals answered to the name of 
Oliver, or knew anything about him, Nancy made straight 
up to the bluff officer in the striped waistcoat ; and with the 
most piteous wailings and lamentations, rendered more piteous 
by a prompt and efficient use of the street-door key and the 
little basket, demanded her own dear brother. 

/ haven’t got him, my dear,” said the old man. 

Where is he.^” screamed Nancy, in a distracted manner. 

^^Why, the gentleman’s got him,” replied the officer. 

What gentleman ? Oh, gracious heavens ! What gentle- 
man ? ” exclaimed Nancy. 

In reply to this incoherent question, the old man informed 
the deeply affected sister that Oliver had been taken ill in 
the office, and discharged in consequence of a witness having 
proved the robbery to have been committed by another boy, 
not in custody; and that the prosecutor had carried him 
away, in an insensible condition, to his own residence : of and 
concerning which, all the informant knew was, that it was 
somewhere at Pentonville, he having heard that word men- 
tioned in the directions to the coachman. 

[ In a dreadful state of doubt and uncertainty, the agonised 
i' young woman staggered to the gate, and then, exchanging 
I her faltering walk for a swift run, returned by the most 
: devious and complicated route she could think of, to the 
j domicile of the Jew. 

Mr. Bill Sikes no sooner heard the account of the expedition 

I 


114 


OLIVER TWIST. 


delivered, than he very hastily called up the white dog, and, 
putting on his hat, expeditiously departed : without devoting 
any time to the formality of wishing the company good- 
morning. 

We must know where he is, my dears ; he must be found,"’ 
said the Jew greatly excited. Charley, do nothing but 
skulk about, till you bring home some news of him ! Nancy, 
my dear, I must have him found. I trust to you, my dear, 
— to you and the Artful for everything ! Stay, stay,” added 
the Jew, unlocking a drawer with a shaking hand; ^‘there’s 
money, my dears. I shall shut up this shop to-night. You’ll 
know where to find me! Don’t stop here a minute. Not 
an instant, my dears ! ” 

With these words, he pushed them from the room: and 
carefully double-locking and barring the door behind them, 
drew from its place of concealment the box which he had 
unintentionally disclosed to Oliver. Then, he hastily proceeded 
to dispose the watches and jewellery beneath his clothing. 

A rap at the door startled him in this occupation. 

Who’s there ? ” he cried in a shrill tone. 

Me ! ” replied the voice of the Dodger, through the key- 
hole. 

^‘What novr.^” cried the Jew impatiently. 

‘^Is he to be kidnapped to the other ken, Nancy says.^” 
inquii'ed the Dodger. 

Yes,” replied the Jew, “wherever she lays hands on him. 
Find him, find him out, that’s all ! I shall know what to 
do next ; never fear.” 

The boy murmured a reply of intelligence; and hurried 
down stairs after his companions. 

“He has not peached so far,” said the Jew as he pursued 
his occupation. “If he means to blab us among his new 
friends, we may stop his mouth yet.” 


CHAPTER XIV. 


COMPRISING FURTHER PARTICULARS OF OLIVER’s STAY AT IMR. 
RROWNLOW*’s, WITH THE REMARKABLE PREDICTION WHICH 
ONE MR. GRIMWIG U'TTERED CONCERNING HIM, WHEN HE 
WENT OUT ON AN ERRAND. 

Oliver soon recovering from the fainting-fit into which Mr. 
Brownlow’s abrupt exclamation had thrown him, the subject 
of the picture was carefully avoided, both by the old gentle- 
man and Mrs. Bedwin, in the conversation that ensued : 
which indeed bore no reference to Oliver’s history or prospects, 
but was confined to such topics as might amuse without 
exciting him. He was still too weak to get up to breakfast ; 
but, when he came down into the housekeeper’s room next 
day, his first act was to cast an eager glance at the wall, in 
the hope of again looking on the face of the beautiful lady. 
His expectations were disappointed, however, for the picture 
had been removed. 

‘‘Ah!” said the housekeeper, watching the direction of 
Oliver’s eyes. “It is gone, you see.” 

“I see it is, ma’am,” replied Oliver. “Why have they 
taken it away.^” 

“It has been taken down, child, because Mr. Brownlow 
^ said, that as it seemed to worry you, perhaps it might prevent 
your getting well, you know,” rejoined the old lady. 

“ Oh, no, indeed. It didn’t worry me, ma’am,’’ said Oliver. 
“ I liked to see it. I quite loved it.” 


OLIVER TWIST. 


il, well ! ’’ said the old lady, good-humouredly ; “ you 
,/ell as fast as ever you can, dear, and it shall be hung 
jj again. There ! I promise you that ! Now, let us talk 
about something else.’’ 

This was all the information Oliver would obtain about 
the picture at that time. As the old lady had been so kind 
to him in his illness, he endeavoured to think no more of 
the subject just then ; so he listened attentively to a great 
many stories she told him, about an amiable and handsome 
daughter of hers, who was married to an amiable and hand- 
some man, and lived in the country; and about a son, 
who was clerk to a merchant in the West Indies ; and who 
was, also, such a good young man, and wrote such dutiful 
letters home four times a-year, that it brought the tears 
into her eyes to talk about them. When the old lady had 
expatiated, a long time, on the excellences of her children, 
and the merits of her kind good husband besides, who had 
been dead and gone, poor dear soul ! just six-and-twenty years, 
it was time to have tea. After tea she began to teach Oliver 
cribbage : which he learnt as quickly as she could teach : and 
at which game they played, with great interest and gravity, 
until it was time for the invalid to have some warm wine and 
water, with a slice of dry toast, and then to go cosily to bed. 

They were happy days, those of Oliver’s recovery. Every- 
thing was so quiet, and neat, and orderly ; everybody was 
kind and gentle ; that after the noise and turbulence in the 
midst of which he had always lived, it seemed like Heaven 
itself. He w'as no sooner strong enough to put his clothes 
on, properly, than Mr. Brownlow caused a complete new suit, 
and a new cap, and a new pair of shoes, to be provided for 
him. As Oliver was told that he might do what he liked 
with the old clothes, he gave them to a servant who had been 
very kind to him, and asked her to sell them to a Jew, and 
keep the money for herself. This she very readily did ; and, 
as Oliver looked out of the parlour window, and saw the Jew 
roll them up in his bag and walk away, he felt quite delighted 


IN MR. BROWNLOW’S STUDY. 


Ill 


to think that they were safely gone, and that there was now 
no possible danger of his ever being able to wear them again. 
They were sad rags, to tell the truth ; and Oliver had never 
had a new suit before. 

One evening, about a week after the affair of the picture, 
as he was sitting talking to Mrs. Bedwin, there came a 
message down from Mr. Brownlow, that if Oliver Twist felt 
pretty well, he should like to see him in his study, and talk 
to him a little while. 

“ Bless us, and save us ! Wash your hands, and let me 
part your hair nicely for you, child,”” said Mrs. Bedwin. 

Dear heart alive ! If we had known he would have asked 
for you, we would have put you a clean collar on, and made 
you as smart as sixpence ! 

Oliver did as the old lady bade him ; and, although she 
lamented grievously, meanwhile, that there was not even time 
to crimp the little frill that bordered his shirt-collar; he 
looked so delicate and handsome, despite that important 
personal advantage, that she went so far as to say : looking 
at him with great complacency from head to foot, that she 
really didn”’t think it would have been possible, on the longest 
notice, to have made much difference in him for the better. 

Thus encouraged, Oliver tapped at the study door. On 
Mr. Brownlow calling to him to come in, he found himself 
in a little back room, quite full of books, with a window, 
looking into some pleasant little gardens. There was a 
table drawn up before the window, at which Mr. Brownlow 
was seated reading. When he saw Oliver, he pushed the 
book away from him, and told him to come near the table, 
and sit down. Oliver complied ; marvelling where the people 
could be found to read such a great number of books as 
seemed to be written to make the world wiser. Which is still 
a marvel to more experienced people than Oliver Twist, every 
day of their lives. 

There are a good many books, are there not, my boy?”*”* 
said Mr. Brownlow, observing the curiosity with which Oliver 


118 OLIVER TAVIST. 

surveyed the shelves that reached from the floor to the 
ceiling. 

A great number, sir,"*’ replied Oliver. I never saw so 
many.’** 

You shall read them, if you behave well,’’ said the old 
gentleman kindly ; and you will like that, better than 
looking at the outsides, — that is, in some cases ; because there 
are books of which the backs and covers are by far the best 
parts.” 

suppose they are those heavy ones, sir,” said Oliver, 
pointing to some large quartos, with a good deal of gilding 
sibout the binding. 

Not always those,” said the old gentleman, patting Oliver 
on the head, and smiling as he did so ; there are other 
equally heavy ones, though of a much smaller size. How 
should you like to grow up a clever man, and write books, 
eh.?” 

think I would rather read them, sir,” replied Oliver. 

What ! wouldn’t you like to be a book-writer ? ” said the 
old gentleman. 

Oliver considered a little while ; and at last said, he should 
think it would be a much better thing to be a book-seller; 
upon which the old gentleman laughed heartily, and declared 
he had said a very good thing. Which Oliver felt glad to 
have done, though he by no means knew what it was. 

Well, well,” said the old gentleman, composing his features. 

Don’t be afraid! We won’t make an author of von, 
while there’s an honest trade to be learnt, or brick-making 
to turn to.” 

Thank you, sir,” said Oliver. At the earnest manner of 
his reply, the old gentleman laughed again ; and said something 
about a curious instinct, which Oliver, not understanding, 
paid no very great attention to. 

Now,” said Mr. Brownlow, speaking if possible in a kinder, 
but at the same time in a much more serious manner, than 
Oliver had ever kno'^vn him assume yet, I Avant you to p. 


FEELINGS OF ALARM. 


119 


great attention, my boy, to what I am going to say. I shall 
talk to you without any reserve ; because I am sure you are 
as well able to understand me, as many older persons would 
be;’ 

Oh, don’t tell me you are going to send me away, sir, 
pray ! exclaimed Oliver, alarmed at the serious tone of the 
old gentleman’s commencement ! Don’t turn me out of 
doors to wander in the streets again. Let me stay here, and 
be a servant. Don’t send me back to the wretched place I 
c^me from. Have mercy upon a poor boy, sir ! ” 

^^My dear child,” said the old gentleman, moved by the 
warmth of Oliver’s sudden appeal ; you need not be afraid 
of my deserting you, unless you give me cause.” 
never, never will, sir,” interposed Oliver, 
hope not,” rejoined the old gentleman. do not 

think you ever will. I have been deceived, before, in the 
objects whom I have endeavoured to benefit; but I feel 
strongly disposed to trust you, nevertheless ; and I am more 
interested in your behalf than I can well account for, even 
to myself. The persons on whom I have bestowed my dearest 
love, lie deep in their graves ; but, although the happiness 
and delight of my life lie buried there too, I have not made 
a coffin of my heart, and sealed it up, for ever, on my best 
affections. Deep affliction has but strengthened and refined 
them.” 

As the old gentleman said this in a low voice : more to 
himself than to his companion : and as he remained silent 
for a short time afterwards : Oliver sat quite still. 

W ell, well ! ” said the old gentleman at length, in a more 
cheerful tone, I only say this, because you have a young 
heart; and knowing that I have suffered great pain and 
sorrow’^, you will be more careful, perhaps, not to wound me 
again. You say you are an orphan, without a friend in the 
world ; all the inquiries I have been able to make, confirm 
the statement. Let me hear your story ; w^here you come 
from ; who brought you up ; and how you got into the 


120 


OLIVEr 


company in which I found 
shall not be friendless while 
Oliver'^s sobs checked his 
he was on the point of 


1ST. 

Speak 

mce fr 
ag to . 


.th, and you 

. minutes ; when 
how he had been 


brought up at the farm, and carried tv. the workhouse by 
Mr. Bumble, a peculiarly impatient little double-knock was 
heard at the street-door : and the servant, running up stairs, 


announced Mr. Grimwig. 


Is he coming up ? "" inquired Mr. Brownlow. 

Yes, sir,"’ replied the servant. He asked if there were 
any muffins in the house ; and, when I told him yes, he sa’id 
he had come to tea.” 

Mr. Brownlow smiled; and, turning to Oliver, said that 
Mr. Grimwig was an old friend of his, and he must not min d 
his being a little rough in his manners ; for he was a worthy 
creature at bottom, as he had reason to know. 

Shall I go down stairs, sir ? ” inquired Oliver. 

No,” replied Mr. Brownlow, I would rather you remained 
here.” . 

At this moment, there walked into the room : supporting 
himself by a thick stick : a stout old gentleman, rather lame \ 
in one leg, who was dressed in a blue coat, striped waistcoat, ? 
nankeen breeches and gaiters, and a broad-brimmed white j 
hat, with the sides turned up with green. A very small- i 
plaited shirt frill stuck out from his waistcoat ; and a very 
long steel watch-chain, with nothing but a key at the end, | 
dangled loosely below it. The ends of his white neckerchief 
were twisted into a ball about the size of an orange ; the ; 


variety of shapes into which his countenance was twisted, 
defy description. He had a manner of screwing his head on 
one side when he spoke ; and of looking out of the corners 
of his eyes at the same time : which irresistibly reminded the 
beholder of a parrot. In this attitude, he fixed himself, the 
moment he made his appearance ; and, holding out a small 
piece of orange-peel at arm’s length, exclaimed, in a growling, 
discontented voice. 


MR. GRIMWIG. 


121 


Look here ! do you see this ! Isn't it a most wonderful 
and extraordinary thing that I can't call at a man's house 
but I find a piece of this poor surgeon's-friend on the stair- 
case ? I've been lamed with orange-peel once, and I know 
orange-peel will be my death at last. It will, sir: orange- 
peel will be my death, or I'll be content to eat my own 
head, sir ! " 

This was the handsome offer with which Mr. Grimwig 
backed and confirmed nearly every assertion he made ; and it 
was the more singular in his case, because, even admitting 
for the sake of argument, the possibility of scientific improve- 
ments being ever brought to that pass which will enable a 
gentleman to eat his own head in the event of his being so 
disposed, Mr. Grimwig's head was such a particularly large 
one, that the most sanguine man alive could hardly entertain 
a hope of being able to get through it at a sitting — to put 
entirely out of the question, a very thick coating of powder. 

I'll eat my head, sir," repeated Mr. Grimwig, striking his 
stick upon the ground. Hallo ! what’s that ! " looking at 
Oliver, and retreating a pace or two. 

This is yaung Oliver Twist, whom we were speaking 
about," said Mr. Brownlow. 

Oliver bowed. 

‘‘You don't mean to say that’s the boy who had the fever, 
I hope?" said Mr. Grimwig, recoiling a little more. “Wait, 
a minute ! Don’t speak ! Stop — ’’ continued Mr. Grimwig, 
abruptly, losing all dread of the fever in his triumph at the 
discovery ; “ that’s the boy who had the orange ! If that’s 
not the boy, sir, who had the orange, and threw this bit of 
peel upon the staircase. I’ll eat my head, and his too." 

“ No, no, he has not had one," said Mr. Brownlow, laughing. 
“ Come ! Put down your hat ; and speak to my young 
friend." 

“ I feel ^trongly on this subject, sir," said the irritable old 
gentleman, drawing off his gloves. “There’s always more 
or less orange-peel on the pavement in our street ; and I 


122 


OLIVER TWIST. 


Icnow it^s put there by the surgeon'’s boy at the comer. A 
young woman stumbled over a bit last night, and fell against 
my garden-railings ; directly she got up I saw her look 
towards his infernal red lamp with the pantomime-light. 

^ Don’t go to him,’ I called out of the window, ‘he’s an 

assassin ! A man-trap ! ’ So he is. If he is not ” Here 

the irascible old gentleman gave a great knock on the ground 
with his stick ; which was always understood, by his friends, 
to imply the customary offer, whenever it was not expressed 
in words. Then, still keeping his stick in his hand, he sat 
down ; and, opening a double eye-glass, which he wore attached 
to a broad black riband, took a view of Oliver : who, seeing that 
he was the object of inspection, coloured, and bowed again. 

“ That’s the boy, is it ? ” said Mr. Grimwig, at length. 

“That is the boy,” replied Mr. Brownlow. 

“ How are you, boy ? ” said Mr. Grimwig. 

“ A great deal better, thank you, sir,” replied Oliver. 

Mr. Brownlow, seeming to apprehend that his singular 
friend was about to say something disagreeable, asked Oliver 
to step down stairs and tell Mrs. Bedwin they were ready 
for tea ; which, as he did not half like the visitor’s manner, 
he was very happy to do. 

“He is a nice-looking boy, is he not?” inquired Mr. 
Brownlow. 

“ I don’t know,” replied Mr. Grimwig, pettishly. 

“Don’t know?” 

“ No. I don’t know. I never see any difference in boys. 
I only know two sorts of boys. Mealy boys, and beef-faced 
boys.” 

“And which is Oliver?” 

“ Mealy. I know a friend who has a beef-faced boy ; a 
fine boy, they call him ; with a round head, and red cheeks, 
and glaring eyes ; a horrid boy ; with a body and limbs that 
appear to be swelling out of the seams of his blue clothes ; 
with the voice of a pilot, and the appetite of a wolf. I 
know him ! 'Phe vTctch ! ” 


SPIRIT OP OPPOSITION. 


123 


Como,*’’ said Mr. Brownlow, “ these are not the character- 
istics of young Oliver Twist ; so he needn’t excite your 
wrath.” 

They are not,” replied Mr. Grimwig. He may have 
worse.” 

tiere, Mr. Brownlow coughed impatiently ; which appeared 
to afford Mr. Grimwig the most exquisite delight. 

He may have worse, I say,” repeated Mr. Grimwig. 

Where does he come from ? Who is he ? What is he ? 
He has had a fever. What of that ? Fevers are not peculiar 
to good people; are they.? Bad people have fevers some- 
times ; haven’t they, eh .? I knew a man who was hung in 
Jamaica for murdering his master. He had had a fever six 
times ; he wasn’t recommended to mercy on that account. 
Pooh ! nonsense ! ” 

Now, the fact was, that in the inmost recesses of his own 
heart, Mr. Grimwig was strongly disposed to admit that 
Oliver’s appearance and manner were unusually prepossessing ; 
but he had a strong appetite for contradiction, sharpened on 
this occasion by the finding of the orange-peel ; and, inwardly 
determining that no man should dictate to him whether a boy 
was well-looking or not, he had resolved, from the first, to 
oppose his friend. When Mr. Brownlow admitted that on 
no one point of inquiry could he yet return a satisfactory 
answer; and that he had postponed any investigation into 
Oliver’s previous history until he thought the boy was strong 
enough to bear it ; Mr. Grimwig chuckled maliciously. And 
he demanded, with a sneer, whether the housekeeper was in the 
habit of counting the plate at night ; because, if she didn’t 
find a table-spoon or two missing some sunshiny morning, 
why, he would be content to — and so forth. 

All this, Mr. Brownlow, although himself somewhat of an 
impetuous gentleman : knowing his friend’s peculiarities, bore 
with great good humour; as Mr. Grimwig, at tea, was 
graciously pleased to express his entire approval of the muffins, 
matters went on very smoothly ; and Oliver, who made one 


124 


OLIVER TWIST. 


of the party, began to feel more at his ease than he had 
yet done in the fierce old gentleman‘’s presence. 

And when are you going to hear a full, true, and par- 
ticular account of the life and adventures of Oliver Twist?” 
asked Grimwig of Mr. Brownlow, at the conclusion of the 
meal : looking sideways at Oliver, as he resumed the subject. 

“To-morrow morning,” replied Mr. Brownlow. “I would 
rather he was alone with me at the time. Come up to me 
to-morrow morning at ten o'clock, my dear.” 

“ Yes, sir,” replied Oliver. He answered with some hesita- 
tion, because he was confused by Mr. Grimwig's looking so 
hard at him. 

“I'll tell you what,” whispered that gentleman to Mr. 
Brownlow; “he won't come up to you to-morrow morning. 
I saw him hesitate. He is deceiving you, my good friend.” 

“I'll swear he is not,” replied Mr. Brownlow, warmly. 

“If he is not,” said Mr. Grimwig, “I'll ” and down 

went the stick. 

“ I'll answer for that boy's truth with my life ! ” said Mr. 
Brownlow, knocking the table. 

“ And I for his falsehood with my head ! ” rejoined Mr. 
Grimwig, knocking the table also. 

“We shall see,” said Mr. Brownlow, checking his rising anger. 

“We will,” replied Mr. Grimwig, with a provoking smile ; 
“ we will.” 

As fate would have it, Mrs. Bedwin chanced to bring in, 
at this moment, a small parcel of books, which Mr. Brownlow 
had that morning purchased of the identical bookstall-keeper, 
who has already figured in this history ; having laid them 
on the table, she prepared to leave the room. 

“ Stop the boy, Mrs. Bedwin ! ” said Mr. Brownie ' there 
is something to go back.” 

“ He has gone, sir,” replied Mrs. Bedwin. 

“ Call after him,” said Mr. Brownlow ; “ it' ticular. 
He is a poor man, and they are not paid fo 
some books to be taken back, too.” 


.lere are 


AN IMPORTANT COMMISSION. 


125 


The street door was opened. Oliver ran one way ; and the 
girl ran another; and Mrs. Bedwin stood on the step and 
screamed for the boy ; but there was no boy in sight. Oliver 
and the girl returned, in a breathless state, to report that 
there were no tidings of him. 

Dear me, I am very sorry for that,” exclaimed Mr. Brown- 
low: ‘^I particularly wished those books to be returned to- 
night.” 

‘^Send Oliver with them,” said Mr. Grimwig, with an 
ironical smile ; he will be sure to deliver them safely, you 
know.” 

Yes ; do let me take them, if you please, sir,” said Oliver. 

I’ll run all the way, sir.” 

The old gentleman was just going to say that Oliver should 
not go out on any account; when a most malicious cough 
from Mr. Grimwig determined him that he should; and 
that, by his prompt discharge of the commission, he should 
prove to him the injustice of his suspicions : on this head at 
least : at once. 

^‘You shall go, my dear,” said the old gentleman. ^^The 
books are on a chair by my table. Fetch them down.” 

Oliver, delighted to be of use, brought down the books 
under his arm in a great bustle ; and waited, cap in hand, 
to hear what message he was to take. 

‘^You are to say,” said Mr. Brownlow, glancing steadily 
at Grimwig ; you are to say that you have brought those 
books back ; and that you have come to pay the four pound 
ten I owe him. This is a five-pound note, so you will have 
to bring me back, ten shillings change.” 

‘‘I won’t be ten minutes, sir,” replied Oliver, eagerly. 
Having buttoned up the bank-note in his jacket pocket, and 
placed the books carefully under his arm, he made a respectful 
bow, and left the room. Mrs. Bedwin followed him to the 
street-door, giving him many directions about the nearest 
way, and the name of the bookseller, and the name of the 
street : all of w hich Oliver said he clearly understood. Having 


126 


OLIVER TWIST. 


superadded many injunctions to be sure and not take cold, 
the old lady at length permitted him to depart. 

Bless his sweet face ! ’’ said the old lady, looking after 
him. “ I can’t bear, somehow, to let him go out of my sight.” 

At this moment, Oliver looked gaily round, and nodded 
before he turned the corner. The old lady smilingly returned 
his salutation, and, closing the door, went back, to her own 
room. 

‘^Let me see; he’ll be back in twenty minutes, at the 
longest,” said Mr. Brownlow, pulling out his watch, and 
placing it on the table. ^^It will be dark by that time.” 

Oh ! you really expect him to come back, do you ? ” 
inquired Mr. Grimwig. 

Don’t you ? ” asked Mr, Brownlow, smiling. 

The spirit of contradiction was strong in Mr. Grimwig’s 
breast, at the moment ; and it was rendered stronger by his 
friend’s confident smile. 

^^No,” he said, smiting the table with his fist, ‘‘I do not. 
The boy has a new suit of clothes on his back, a set of 
valuable books under his arm, and a five-pound note in his 
pocket. He’ll join his old friends the thieves, and laugh at you. 
If ever that boy returns to this house, sir. I’ll eat my head.” 

With these words he drew his chair closer to the table ; 
and there the two friends sat, in silent expectation, with the 
watch between them. 

It is worthy of remark, as illustrating the importance we 
attach to our own judgments, and the pride with which 
we put forth our most rash and hasty conclusions, that, 
although Mr. Grimwig was not by any means a bad-hearted 
man, and though he would have been unfeigned ly sorry to 
see his respected friend duped and deceived, he really did 
most earnestly and strongly hope at that moment, that 
Oliver Twist might not come back. 

It grew so dark, that the figures on the dial-plate were 
scarcely discernible; but there the two gentlemen con- 
tinued to sit, in silence, with the watch bi m them. 


CHAPTER XV. 


SHOWING Hoi OF OLIVER TWIST, THE MERRY OLD 

JEW AND MISS NANCY WERE, 


In the obscul of a low public-house, in the filthiest 

,mrt of yttfc 1“^” “ ,v: 1 a and gloomy den, whom 
a llaifng gJf day in fte wmter-time i and 


where no 
brooding 
strongly 
velveteen 
even by 
have hes 
feet, sat 
alternat 
same ti 


66 


2 y re( 
endim 
isideri 
d a Cl 
Dogs 
nn by 


.dicht burnt all day in the winter-time ; and 
[rav of sun ever shone in the summer: there sat, 
Lver a little pewter measure and a small glass, 
TurLlted with the smeU of liquor, a man in a 
S*dmb shorts, hdt boots and stokmg. 
tflt dim li«-ht no experienced agent of pohc 
Sed to recognise as Mr. William Sikes. At h. 

' white-coated: red-eyed dog; '>!>» 

in winking at his master with both eyes at the 
’ 7^7 firkins a large, fresh cut on one side of 

which appeared to be the result of some 

— rsS!o“ 

animal to allay them, B matte, to. »i^m ^ 
tion Whatever was the cause, the effe 

7 having faults of 




128 


OLIVER TWIST. 


temper in common with his owner, and labouring 
this moment, under a powerful sense of injury, n 
ado but at once fixed his teeth in one of t 
Having given it a hearty shake, he retired, gr 
a form ; just escaping the pewter measure wh 
levelled at his head. 

“^You would, would you?’’ said Sikes, seizing 
one hand, and deliberately opening with the 
clasp knife, which he drew from his pocket, 
you born devil ! Come here ! D’ye hear ? ” 

The dog no doubt heard ; because Mr. Sikes 
very harshest key of a very harsh voice ; but, 
entertain some unaccountable objection to havi 
cut, he remained where he was, and growled 
than before . at the same time grasping the end 
between his teeth, and biting at it like a wild beai 
This resistance only infuriated Mr. Sikes the ri 
dropping on his knees, began to assail the a^j 
furiously. The dog jumped from right to left, a' 
to right : snapping, growling, and barking ; the^ 
and swore, and struck and blasphemed ; and the s 
reaching a most critical point for one or other 
door suddenly opening, the dog darted out: leavin 
with the poker and the clasp-knife in his hands. 

There must always be two parties to a quarri 
old adage. Mr. Sikes, being disappointed of 
participation, at once transferred his share in the 
the new-comer. 

^^What the devil do you come in between me an 
for ? ” said Sikes, with a fierce gesture. 

didn’t know, my dear, I didn’t know,” repli 
humbly ; for the Jew was the new-comer. 

“Didn’t know, you white-livered thief!” prowl 
“ Couldn’t you hear the noise ? ” 

“ Not a sound of it, as I’m a living man, , 

Jew. 


perhaps, at 
lade no more 
le half-boots. 


owling, under 
ich Mr. Sikes 


the poker in 
3ther a large 
“ Come here, 


spoKe in the 


ke ii 

appearing to 
ng his throat 
more fiercely 
^ the poker 
t 

i\ore ; who, 
mal most 
from left 
an thrust 
ggle was 
vhen, the 
Bill Sikes 



Id Eagin, 


Id Sikes. 


fplied the 



A MUTUAL INTEREST. 129 

“Oh no! You hear nothing, you don’t,” retorted Sikes 
with a fierce sneer. “Sneaking in and out, so as nobody 
. hears how you come or go ! I wish you had been the dog, 

I Fagin, half a minute ago.” ° 

“ Why ? inquired the J ew with a forced smile. 

I “’Cause the government, as cares for the lives of such men 
^ as you, as haven’t half the pluck of curs, lets a man kill a 
] dog how he likes,” replied Sikes, shutting up the knife with 
a very expressive look ; “ that’s why.” 

) The Jew rubbed his hands ; and, sitting down at the table, 

1 affected to laugh at the pleasantry of his friend. He was 
, obviously very ill at ease, however. 

“ Grin away,” said Sikes, replacing the poker, and surveying 
him with savage contempt ; “ grin away. You’ll never have 
the laugh at me, though, unless it’s behind a night-cap. I’ve 
got the upper hand over you, Fagin ; and, d— me. I’ll keep 
it. There I If I go, you go ; so take care of me.” 

; “Well, well, my dear,” said the Jew, “I know all that; 

I we— we— have a mutual interest. Bill,— a mutual interest.” 
j Humph, said Sikes, as if he thought the interest lay 
I rather more on the Jew’s side than on his. “Well, what 
t have you got to say to me ? ” 

I “ It’s all passed safe through the melting-pot,” replied 
I Fagin, “and this is your share. It’s rather more than it 
j ought to be, my dear ; but as I know you’ll do me a good 
i turn another time, and — ^ 

< Stow that gammon,’’ interposed the robber, impatiently. 
Where is it ? Hand over ! ” 

Yes, yes. Bill ; give me time, give me time,” replied the 

^ Jew, soothingly. Here it is ! All safe ! ” As he spoke, 

he drew forth an old cotton handkerchief from his breast 
' ^^d untying a large knot in one corner, produced a 
small brown-paper packet. Sikes, snatching it from him, 

. hastily opened it ; and proceeded to count the sovereigns 

lit contained. 

This all, is it ? ” inquired Sikes. 



K 


130 


OLIVER TWIST. 


replied the Jew. 

You haven’t opened the parcel and swallowe ne or two 
as you come along, have you?” inquired Sikes, jpiciously. 

Don’t put on an injured look at the question ; u’ve done 
it many a time. Jerk the tinkler.” 

These words, in plain English, conveyed an i^ iction to 
ring the bell. It was answered by another Je younger 
than Fagin, but nearly as vile and repulsive in aj ranee. 

Bill Sikes merely pointed to the empty measure. lie Jew, 
perfectly understanding the hint, retired to fill it : eviously 
exchanging a remarkable look with Fagin, who ised his 
eyes for an instant, as if in expectation of it, ana shook his 
head in reply; so slightly that the action would have been 
almost imperceptible to an observant third person. It was 
lost upon Sikes, who was stooping at the moment to tie the 
boot-lace which the dog had torn. Possibly, if he had 
observed the brief interchange of signals, he might have 
thought that it boded no good to him. 

Is anybody here, Barney ? ” inquired Fagin ; speaking, 
now that Sikes ^vas looking on, without raisi ig his eyes 
from the ground. 

Dot a shoul,” replied Barney ; whose words : whether 
they came from the heart or not : made their way through 
the nose. 

‘^Nobody?” inquired Fagin, in a tone of surprise: which 
perhaps might mean that Barney was at liberty to teU the 
truth. 

Dobody but Biss Dadsy,” replied Barney. 

Nancy ! ” exclaimed Sikes. Where ? Strike m ind, 
if I don’t honour that ’ere girl, for her native talents 

She’s bid havid a plate of boiled beef id the bar. plied 
Barney. 

Send her here,” said Sikes, pouring out a glass i’quor. 
“ Send her here.” 

Barney looked timidly at Fagin, as if for perm 
Jew remaining silent, and not lifting his eyes fro 


NANCY ON THE SCENT. 


131 


he retired ; and presently returned, ushering in Nancy ; who 
was decorated with the bonnet, apron, basket, and street-door 
key, complete. 

^“^You are on the scent, are you, Nancy?'*’ inquired Sikes, 
proffering the glass. 

Yes, I am. Bill," replied the young lady, disposing of its 
contents ; and tired enough of it I am, too. The young 
brat's been ill and confined to the crib; and — " 

“ Ah, Nancy, dear ! " said Eagin, looking up . 

Now, whether a peculiar contraction of the Jew's red eye- 
brows, and a half-closing of his deeply-set eyes, warned Miss 
Nancy that she was disposed to be too communicative, is not 
a matter of much importance. The fact is all we need care 
for here ; and the fact is, that she suddenly checked herself, 
and with several gracious smiles upon Mr. Sikes, turned the 
conversation to other matters. In about ten minutes' time, 
Mr. Fagin was seized with a fit of coughing; upon which 
Nancy pulled her shawl over her shoulders, and declared it 
tras time to go. Mr. Sikes, finding that he was walking a 
short part of her way himself, expressed his intention of 
accompanying her ; they went away together, followed, at a 
little distance, by the dog, who slunk out of a back-yard as 
soon as his master was out of sight. 

The Jew thrust his head out of the room door when Sikes 
had left it; looked after him as he walked up the dark 
passage ; shook his clenched fist ; muttered a deep curse ; 
and then, with a horrible grin, re-seated himself at the 
table ; where he was soon deeply absorbed in the interesting 
pages of the Hue-and-Cry. 

Meanwhile, Oliver Twist, little dreaming that he was 
within so very short a distance of the merry old gentleman, 
was on his way to the book-stall. When he got into 
Clerkenwell, he accidentally turned down a bye-street which 
was not exactly in his way ; but not discovering his mistake 
until he had got half-way down it, and knowing it must lead 
in the right direction, he did not think it worth while to 


132 


OLIVER TWIST. 


turn back ; and so marched on, as quickly as he could, with 
the books under his arm. 

He was walking along, thinking how happy and contented 
he ought to feel ; and how much he would give for only one 
look at poor little Dick, who, starved and beaten, might be 
weeping bitterly at that very moment ; when he was startled 
by a young woman screaming out very loud, Oh, my dear 
brother!’*' And he had hardly looked up, to see what the 
matter was, when he was stopped by having a pair of arms 
thrown tight round his neck. 

Don’t,*’*’ cried Oliver, struggling. “ Let go of me* Who 
is it ? What are you stopping me for ? ” 

The only reply to this, was a great number of loud lamenta- 
tions from the young woman who had embraced him ; and 
who had a little basket and a street-door key in her hand. 

Oh my gracious 1 ” said the young woman, I’ve found 
him 1 Oh ! Oliver ! Oliver ! Oh you naughty boy, to make me 
suffer sich distress on your account ! Come home, dear, come. 
Oh, I’ve found him. Thank gracious goodness heavins, 
I’ve found him ! ” With these incoherent exclamations, the 
young woman burst into another fit of crying, and got so 
dreadfully hysterical, that a couple of women who came up 
at the moment asked a butcher’s boy with a shiny head of 
hair anointed with suet, who was also looking on, whether 
he didn’t think he had better run for the doctor. To which, 
the butcher’s boy : who appeared of a lounging, not to say 
indolent disposition : replied, that he thought not. 

Oh, no, no, never mind,” said the young woman, grasping 
Oliver’s hand; “I’m better now. Come home directly, you 
cruel boy ! Come ! ” 

“ What’s the matter, ma’am ? ” inquired one r ’ the women. 

“Oh, ma’am,” replied the young woman, ^ ran away, 
near a month ago, from his parents, who a’ ard-working 
and respectable people ; and went and joined >et of thieves 
and bad characters ; and almost broke his n er’s heart.” 

“Young wretch ! ” said one woman. 


THE HERO FINDS A SISTER. 


13B 


‘^Go home, do, you little brute,’’ said the other. 

“I am not,” replied Oliver, greatly alarmed. ‘‘I don’t 
know her. I haven’t any sister, or father and mother either. 
I’m an orphan ; I live at Pentonville.” 

Only hear him, how he braves it out ! ” cried the young 
woman. 

Why, it’s Nancy ! ” exclaimed Oliver ; who now saw her 
face for the first time; and started back, in irrepressible 
astonishment. 

‘‘You see he knows me!” cried Nancy, appealing to the 
bystanders. “ He can’t help himself. Make him come home, 
there’s good people, or he’ll kill his dear mother and father, 
and break my heart ! ” 

“ What the devil’s this F ” said a man, bursting out of a 
beer-shop, with a white dog at his heels ; “ young Oliver ! 
Come home to your poor mother, you young dog! Come 
home directly.” 

“I don’t belong to them. I don’t know them. Help! 
help ! ” cried Oliver, struggling in the man’s powerful grasp. 

“Help!” repeated the man. “Yes; I’ll help you, you 
young rascal ! AVhat books are these F You’ve been a 
stealing ’em, have you F Give ’em here.” With these Avords, 
the man tore the volumes from his grasp, and struck him on 
the head. 

“ That’s right ! ” cried a looker-on, from a garret-window. 
“ That’s the only way of bringing him to his senses ! ” 

“ To be sure ! ” cried a sleepy-faced carpenter, casting an 
approving look at the garret-window. 

“ It’ll do him good ! ” said the two women. 

“ And he shall have it, too ! ” rejoined the man, adminis- 
I tering another blow, and seizing Oliver by the collar. “ Come 
; on, you young villain! Here, Bull’s-eye, mind him, boy! 
Mind him ! ” 

Weak with recent illness ; stupefied by the blows and the 
suddenness of the attack ; terrified by the fierce growling of 
^ the dog, and the brutality of the man ; overpowered by the 


OLIVER WIST. 


WA 

conviction of the bystanders that he really was the hardened 
little wretch he was described to be ; what could one poor 
child do ! Darkness had set in ; it was a low neighbourhood ; 
no help was near ; resistance was useless. In another moment, 
he was dragged into a labyrinth of dark narrow courts, and 
was forced along them at a pace which rendered the few cries 
he dared to give utterance to, unintelligible. It was of little 
moment, indeed, whether they were intelligible or no ; for 
there was nobody to care for them, had they been ever so 
plain. 

♦jt ^ ^ 

The gas-lamps were lighted ; Mrs. Bedwin was waiting 
anxiously at the open door ; the servant had run up the street 
twenty times to see if there were any traces of Oliver ; and 
still the two old gentlemen sat, perseveringly, in the dark 
parlour j with the watch between them. 


CHAPTER XVL 


RELATES WHAT BECAME OF OLIVER TWIST, AFTER HE HAD BEEN 

CLAIMED BY NANCY, 

The narrow streets and courts, at length, terminated in a 
large open space ; scattered about which, were pens for beasts, 
and other indications of a cattle-market. Sikes slackened his 
pace when they reached this spot : the girl being quite unable 
to support any longer, the rapid rate at which they had 
hitherto walked. Turning to Oliver, he roughly commanded 
him to take hold of Nancy’s hand. 

Do you hear ? ” growled Sikes, as Oliver hesitated, and 
looked round. 

They were in a dark corner, quite out of the track of 
passengers. Oliver saw, but too plainly, that resistance 
would be of no avail. He held out his hand, which Nancy 
clasped tight in hers. 

Give me the other,” said Sikes, seizing Oliver’s unoccupied 
hand. “ Here, Bull’s-eye ! ” 

The dog looked up, and growled. 

See here, boy ! ” said Sikes, putting his other hand to 
Oliver’s throat ; if he speaks ever so soft a word, hold him ! 
D’ye mind!” 

The dog growled again ; and licking his lips, eyed Oliver 
as if he were anxious to attach himself to his windpipe 
without delay. 

He’s as willing as a Christian, strike me blind if he isn’t ! ” 


OLIVER TWIS" 


kind of grim and 
^hat youVe got to 
you like; the dog 

I 


un 


wledgment of this 
id, giving vent to 


said Sikes, regarding the animal wit! 
ferocious approval. Now, you kno 
expect, master, so call away as quid 
will soon stop that game. Get on, yc 

BulFs-eye wagged his tail in ac 
unusually endearing form of speech 
another admonitory growl for the benefit of Oliver, led the 
way onward. 

It was Srnithfield that they were crossing, although it 
might have been Grosvenor Square, for anything Oliver knew 
to the contrary. The night was dark and foggy. The 
lights in the shops could scarcely struggle through the heavy 
mist, which thickened every moment and shrouded the streets 
and houses in gloom ; rendering the strange place still stranger 
in Oliver’s eyes ; and making his uncertainty the more dismal 
and depressing. 

They had hurried on a few paces, when a deep church-bell 
struck the hour. With its first stroke, his two conductors 
stopped, and turned their heads in the direction whence the 
sound proceeded. 

Eight o’clock, Bill,” said Nancy, when the bell ceased. 

“ What’s the good of telling me that ; I can hear it, 
can’t I ! ” replied Sikes. 

I wonder whether they can hear it,” said Nancy. 

Of course they can,” replied Sikes. It was Bartlemy 
time when I was shopped ; and there warn’t a penny trumpet 
in the fair, as I couldn’t hear the squeaking on. Arter I 
was locked up for the night, the row and din outside made 
the thundering old jail so silent, that I could almost have beat 
my brains out against the iron plates of the door.” 

Poor fellows ! ” said Nancy, who still had her face turned 
towards the quarter in which the bell had sounded. ‘‘Oh, 
Bill, such fine young chaps as them ! ” 

“ Yes ; that’s all you women think of,” answered Sikes. 
“ Fine young chaps ! W ell, they’re as good as dead, so it 
don’t much matter.” 


AN UNPLEASANT SUBJECT. 


137 


With this consolation, Mr. Sikes appeared to repress a rising 
tendency to jealousy, and,' clasping Oliver's wrist more firmly, 
told him to step out again. 

Wait a minute ! " said the girl : I wouldn't hurry by, if 
it was you that was coming out to be hung, the next time 
eight o'clock struck. Bill. I'd walk round and round the 
place till I dropped, if the snow was on the ground, and I 
hadn't a shawl to cover me." 

“And what good would that do.^" inquired the unsenti- 
mental Mr. Sikes. “ Unless you could pitch over a file and 
twenty yards of good stout rope, you might as well be walking 
fifty mile off, or not walking at all, for all the good it would 
do me. Come on, and don't stand preaching there." 

The girl burst into a laugh ; drew her shawl more closely 
round her ; and they walked away. But Oliver felt her hand 
tremble, and, looking up in her face as they passed a gas- 
lamp, saw that it had turned a deadly white. 

They walked on, by little-frequented and dirty ways, for a 
full half-hour : meeting very few people, and those appearing 
from their looks to hold much the same position in society 
as Mr. Sikes himself. At length they turned into a very 
filthy narrow street, nearly full of old-clothes shops ; the dog 
running forward, as if conscious that there was no further 
occasion for his keeping on guard, stopped before the door of 
a shop that was closed and apparently untenanted ; the house 
was in a ruinous condition, and on the door was nailed a 
board, intimating that it was to let : which looked as if it 
had hung there for many years. 

‘^All right," cried Sikes, glancing cautiously about. 

Na ’ stooped below the shutters, and Oliver heard the 
sound a bell. They crossed to the opposite side of the 
street, . stood for a few moments under a lamp. A noise, 
as if a s window were gently raised, was heard ; and soon 
afterwarc';^ oor softly opened. Mr. Sikes then seized the 
terrified the collar with very little ceremony ; and all 

three we dy inside the house. 


138 


OLIVER TWIST. 


The passage was perfectly dark. They waited, while the 
person who had let them in, chained and barred the door. 
‘^xVnybody here?*” inquired Sikes. 

No,*” replied a voice, which Oliver thought he had heard 
before. 

Is the old ’un here ? asked the robber. 

Yes,*^’ replied the voice ; and precious down in the mouth 
he has been. Won’t he be glad to see you ? Oh, no ! ” 

The style of this reply, as well as the voice which delivered 
it, seemed familiar to Oliver’s ears : but it was impossible 
to distinguish even the form of the speaker in the darkness. 

Let’s have a glim,” said Sikes, “ or we shall go breaking 
our necks, or treading on the dog. Look after your legs if 
vou do ! ” 

Stand still a moment, and I’ll get you one,” replied 
the voice. The receding footsteps of the speaker were heard ; 
and, in another minute, the form of Mr. John Dawkins, 
otherwise the artful Dodger, appeared. He bore in his right 
hand a tallow candle stuck in the end of a cleft stick. 

The young gentleman did not stop to bestow any other 
mark of recognition upon Oliver than a humorous grin ; but, 
turning away, beckoned the visitors to follow him down a 
flight of stairs. They crossed an empty kitchen ; and, opening 
the door of a low earthy-smelling room, which seemed to 
have been built in a small back-yard, were received with a 
shout of laughter. 

“ Oh, my wig, my wig ! ” cried Master Charles Bates, from 
whose lungs the laughter had proceeded ; “ here he is ! oh, 
cry, here he is ! Oh, Fagin, look at him ! Fagin, do look 
at him ! I can’t bear it ; it is such a jolly game, I can’t 
bear it. Hold me, somebody, while I laugh it out.” 

With this irrepressible ebullition of mirth. Master Bates 
laid himself flat on the floor: and kicked convulsively for 
five minutes, in an ecstasy of facetious joy. Then jumping 
to his feet, he snatched the cleft stick from the Dodger; 
and, advancing to Oliver, viewed him round and round ; while 


RESTORED TO PLEASANT COMPAN\ 


the Jew, taking off his nightcap, made a great number 
bows to the bewildered boy. The Artful, meantime 
was of a rather saturnine disposition, and seldom gave way 
to merriment when it interfered with business, rifled Oliver’s 
pockets with steady assiduity. 

Look at his togs, Fagin ! ” said Charley, putting the light 
so close to his new jacket as nearly to set him on fire. 

Look at his togs ! Superfine cloth, and the heavy swell 
cut ! Oh, my eye, what a game ! And his books, too ! 
Nothing but a gentleman, Fagin ! ” 

“ Delighted to see you looking so well, my dear,” said the 
Jew, bowing with mock humility. ^^The Artful shall give 
you another suit, my dear, for fear you should spoil that 
Sunday one. Why didn’t you write, my dear, and say you 
were coming? We’d have got something warm for supper.” 

At this. Master Bates roared again : so loud, that Fagin 
himself relaxed, and even the Dodger smiled ; but as the 
Artful drew forth the five-pound note at that instant, it is 
doubtful whether the sally or the discovery awakened his 
merriment. 

Hallo ! what’s that ? ” inquired Sikes, stepping forward 
as the Jew seized the note. “ That’s mine, Fagin.” 

“No, no, my dear,” said the Jew. “Mine, Bill, mine. 
You shall have the books.” 

“ If that ain’t mine ! ” said Bill Sikes, putting on his hat 
with a determined air ; “ mine and Nancy’s, that is ; I’ll 
take the boy back again.” 

The Jew started. Oliver started too, though from a very 
different cause ; for he hoped that the dispute might really 
end in his being taken back. 

“ Come ! Hand over, will you ? ” said Sikes. 

“This is hardly fair. Bill; hardly fair, is it, Nancy?” 
inquired the Jew. 

“ Fair, or not fair,” retorted Sikes, “ hand over, I tell you ! 
Do you think Nancy and me has got nothing else to do 
with our precious time but to spend it in scouting arter and 


140 


OLIVER TWIST. 


kidnapping, every young boy as gets grabbed through you ? 
Give it here, you avaricious old skeleton, give it here ! 

With this gentle remonstrance, Mr. Sikes plucked the note 
from between the Jew’s finger and thumb ; and looking the 
old man coolly in the face, folded it up small, and tied it 
in his neckerchief. 

That’s for our share of the trouble,” said Sikes; ^‘and 
not half enough, neither. You may keep the books, if you’re 
fond of reading. If you a’n’t, sell ’em.” 

They’re very pretty,” said Charley Bates : who, with 
sundry grimaces, had been affecting to read one of the 
volumes in question : beautiful writing, isn’t it, Oliver ? ” 
At sight of the dismayed look with which Oliver regarded 
his tormentors. Master Bates, who was blessed with a lively 
sense of the ludicrous, fell into another ecstasy, more boisterous 
than the first. 

“They belong to the old gentleman,” said Oliver, wringing 
his hands ; “ to the good, kind, old gentleman who took me 
into his house, and had me nursed, when I was near dying of 
the fever. Oh, pray send them back ; send him back the 
books and money. Keep me here all my life long ; but pray, 
pray send them back. He’ll think I stole them ; the old 
lady : all of them who were so kind to me : will think I 
stole them. Oh, do have mercy upon me, and send them 
back ! ” 

With those words, which were uttered with all the energy 
of passionate grief, Oliver fell upon his knees at the Jew’s 
feet ; and beat his hands together, in perfect desperation. 

“ The boy’s right,” remarked Fagin, looking covertly round, 
and knitting his shaggy eyebrows into a hard knot. “ You’re 
right, Oliver, you’re right ; they will think you have stolen 
’em. Ha ! ha ! ” chuckled the Jew, rubbing his hands ; “ it 
couldn’t have happene"^ better, if we had chosen our 
time ! ” 

“ Of course it couldn »lied Sikes ; “ now’d that, 

directly I see him coi hrough Clerk il, with the 





i 


f 


.4 

V 


1 


APPEALS FOR HELP. 


141 


books under his arm. IPs all right enough. TheyVe soft- 
hearted psalm-singers, or they wouldn’t have taken him in 
at all ; and they’ll ask no questions after him, fear they 
should be obliged to prosecute, and so get him lagged. He’s 
safe enough.” 

Oliver had looked from one to the other, while these 
words were being spoken, as if he were bewildered, and 
could scarcely understand what passed ; but when Bill Sikes 
concluded, he jumped suddenly to his feet, and tore wildly 
from the room : uttering shrieks for help, which made the 
bare old house echo to the roof. 

“ Keep back the dog. Bill 1 ” cried Nancy, springing before 
,the door, and closing it, as the Jew and his two pupils 
darted out in pursuit. “ Keep back the dog ; he’ll tear the 
boy to pieces.” 

Serve him right ! ” cried Sikes, struggling to disengage 
himself from the girl’s grasp. Stand off from me, or I’ll 
split your head against the wall.” 

I don’t care for that. Bill, I don’t care for that,” screamed 
the girl, struggling violently with the man : the child shan’t 
be torn down by the dog, unless you kill me first.” 

Shan’t he ! ” said Sikes, setting his teeth. I’ll soon do 
that, if you don’t keep off.” 

The housebreaker flung the girl from him to the further 
end of the room, just as the Jew and the two boys returned, 
dragging Oliver among them. 

What’s the matter here ! ” said Fagin, looking round. 

‘‘‘The girl’s gone mad, I think,” replied Sikes, savagely. 

“ No, she hasn’t,” said Nancy, pale and breathless from 
the scuffle ; “ no, she hasn’t, Fagin ; don’t think it.” 

“Then keep quiet, will you?” said the Jew, with a threa- 
tening look. 

“No, I won’t do that, neither,” replied Nancy, speaking 
very loud. “Come! What do you think of that?” 

Mr. Fagin was sufficiently well acquainted with the manners 
and customs of that particular species of humanity to which 


142 


OLIVER TWIST. 


Nancy belonged, to feel tolerably certain that it would be 
rather unsafe to prolong any conversation with her, at 
present. With the view of diverting the attention of the 
company, he turned to Oliver. 

“So you wanted to get away, my dear, did you?’’ said 
the Jew, taking up a jagged and knotted club which lay in 
a corner of the fireplace ; “ eh ? ” 

Oliver made no rejily. But he watched the Jew’s motions, 
and breathed quickly. 

“ Wanted to get assistance ; called for the police ; did you ? ” 
sneered the Jew, catching the boy by the arm. “Well 
cure you of that, my young master.” 

The Jew inflicted a smart blow on Oliver’s shoulders with 
the club ; and was raising it for a second, when the girl, 
rushing forward, wrested it from his hand. She flung it 
into the fire, with a force that brought some of the glov/ing 
coals whirling out into the room. 

“ I v/on’t stand by and see it done, Fagin,” cried the girl, 
“You’ve got the boy, and what more would you have,^ — Let 
him be — let him be — or I shall put that mark on some of 
you, that will bring me to the gallows before my time.” 

The girl stamped her foot violently on the floor as she 
vented this threat; and with her lips compressed, and her 
hands clenched, looked alternately at the Jew and the other 
robber: her face quite colourless from the passion of rage 
into which she had gradually worked herself. 

“ Why, Nancy ! ” said the Jew, in a soothing tone ; after 
a pause, during which he and Mr. Sikes had stared at one 
another in a disconcerted manner; “you — ^you’re more clever 
than ever to-night. Ha! ha! my dear, you ai'e acting 
beautifully.” 

“ Am I ! ” said the girl. “ Take care I don’t overdo it. 
You will be the worse for it, Fagin, if I do ; and so I tell 
you in good time to keep clear of me.” 

There is something about a roused woman: especialh' 
she add to all her other strong passions, the fierce ii. 


SOUL OF GOODNESS IN THINGS EVIL. 143 

of recklessness and despair : wliich few men like to provoke. 
The Jew saw that it would be hopeless to affect any further, 
mistake regarding the reality of Miss Nancy'^s rage; and, 
shrinking involuntarily back a few paces, cast a glance, half 
imploring and half cowardly at Sikes : as if to hint that he 
was the fittest person to pursue the dialogue. 

Mr. Sikes, thus mutely appealed to ; and possibly feeling 
his personal pride and influence interested in the immediate 
reduction of Miss Nancy to reason ; gave utterance to about 
a couple of score of curses and threats, the rapid production 
of which reflected great credit on the fertility of his invention. 
As they produced no visible effect on the object against 
whom they were discharged, however, he resorted to more 
tangible arguments. 

What do you mean by this ? said Sikes ; backing the 
inquiry with a very common imprecation concerning the most 
beautiful of human features : which, if it were heard above, 
only once out of every fifty thousand times that it is uttered 
below, would render blindness as common a disorder as measles : 

what do you mean by it ? Burn my body ! Do you know 
who you are, and what you are.^’’ 

Oh, yes, I know all about it,’’ replied the girl, laughing 
hysterically; and shaking her head from side to side, with a 
poor assumption of indifference. 

^^Well, then, keep quiet,” rejoined Sikes, with a growl like 
that he was accustomed to use when addressing his dog, ^^or 
I’ll quiet you for a good long time to come.” 

The girl laughed again : even less composedly than before ; 
and, darting a hasty look at Sikes, turned her face aside, 
and bit her lip till the blood came. 

You’re a nice one,” added Sikes, as he surveyed her with 
a contemptuous air, to take up the humane and gen — teel 
side ! A pretty subject for the child, as you call him, to 
make a friend of ! ” 

God Almighty help me, I am ! ” cried the girl passionately ; 
‘^and I wish I had been struck dead in the street, or had 


144 


OLIVER TWIST. 


changed places with them we passed so near to-night, before 
I had lent a hand in bringing him here. He^^s a thief, a 
liar, a devil, all that*’s bad, from this night forth. Isn*’t that 
enough for the old wretch, without blows ? 

Come, come, Sikes,’’ said the Jew, appealing to him in a 
remonstratory tone, and motioning towards the boys, who 
were eagerly attentive to all that passed ; Ave must have 
civil words ; civil words. Bill.” 

Civil words ! ” cried the girl, whose passion was frightful 
to see. ‘‘ Civil words, you villain ! Yes, you deserve ’em 
from me. I thieved for you when I was a child not half as 
old as this ! ” pointing to Oliver. “ I have been in the same 
trade, and in the same service, for twelve years since. Don’t 
you know it ? Speak out ! Don’t you know it ? ” 

‘‘Well, well,” replied the Jew, with an attempt at paci- 
fication ; “ and, if you have, it’s your living ! ” 

“ Aye, it is ! ” returned the girl ; not speaking, but pouring 
out the words in one continuous and vehement scream. “It 
is my living; and the cold, wet, dirty streets are my home; 
and you’re the wretch that drove me to them long ago, and 
that’ll keep me there, day and night, day and night, till 
I die!” 

“I shall do you a mischief!” interposed the Jew, goaded 
by these reproaches ; “ a mischief Avorse than that, if you say 
much more ! ” 

The girl said nothing more ; but, tearing her hair and 
dress in a transport of passion, made such a rush at the Jew 
as would probably have left signal marks of her revenge 
upon him, had not her wrists been seized by Sikes at the right 
moment ; upon which, she made a few ineffectual struggles, 
and fainted. 

“She’s all right now,” said Sikes, laying her down in a 
corner. “She’s uncommon strong in the arms, when she’s 
up in this way.” 

The Jew wiped his forehead : and smiled, as it 
relief to have the disturbance over ; but neither he, i 




he dog, 
light thi 
s the 
•eplacingl 
i, in on 


rN FOR CHARLEY BATES. 145 

lor the boys, seemed to consider it in any 
in a common occurrence incidental to business, 
^orst of having to do with women, ’’ said the 
his club ; but they’re clever, and we can’t 
line, without ’em. Charley, show Oliver to 


o 

’d better not wear his best clothes to-morrow, 
’ inquired Charley Bates, 
t,” replied the Jew, reciprocating the grin 
''ey put the question. 

;er Bates much delighted with his commis- 

’ ft stick : and led Oliver into an adjacent 
were two or three of the beds on which 
; and here, with many uncontrollable 
he produced the identical old suit of 
had so much congratulated himself upon 
'rownlow’s; and the accidental display of 
the Jew who purchased them, had been 
«ived, of his whereabout, 
rt ones," said Charley, “and I’ll give 
care of. What fun it is ! 


uppose 
had he.? 
rtainly r 
hich Chai 


>ok the clt 
, where 
slept befor 
of laughter, 
which Oliver 
off at Mr 
‘lo Fagin, by 
' first clue re 
off the sm 


wi. f V licit lull It IS I 

Ohver^nnw;®’"^*^ complied. Master Bates rolling 


Oliver unwil 
new clothes 
Dliver in the 
loise of I Cha| 
^ho opportui 
'’r-rf ■: id perform o 
of her recovery, mig 
more happy cireums 
placed. But he was 
asleep. 


junder his arm, departed from the room, 
dark, and locking the door behind him. 
Irley’s laughter, and the voice of Miss 
jiely arrived to throw water over her 
jther feminine offices for the promotion 
it have kept many people awake under 
lances than those in which Oliver was 
Isick and weary ; and he soon fell sound 


I. 


i 


CHAPTER XVIL 

Oliver’s destiny continuing unpropitious, 

MAN TO LONDON TO INJURE HIS REPI 


IRINGS A GREAT 
FTATION. 


gOQ 


It is the custom on the stage, in all 
dramas, to present the tragic and the comi 
alternation, as the layers of red and whit' 
bacon. The hero sinks upon his straw^ 
by fetters and misfortunes; in the nex| 
but unconscious squire regales the aucj 
song. We behold, with throbbing bo; 
the grasp of a proud and ruthless baro 
life alike in danger, drawing forth he 
the one at the cost of the other; and 
tions are wought up to the highest pit 
and we are straightway transported to 
castle: where a grey-headed seneschal 
with a funnier body of vassals, who 
places, from church vaults to palaces 
company, carolling perpetually. 

Siich changes appear absurd ; but the 
as they would seem at first sight, 
life from well-spread boards to death-be 
weeds to holiday garments, are not a 
there, we are busy actors, instead of pa: 
makes a vast difference. The actors i 
theatre, are blind to violent transitio 
of passion or feeling, which, presen 


wh 


murderous me lo- 
scenes, in as regu lar 
in a side of stref iky 
bed, weighed do wn 
|t scene, his faittiful 
iience with a co mic 
;oms, the heroine ‘ in 
: her virtue an d her 
dagger to pn^serve 
]ust as our exp ecta- 
p, a whistle is hc'ard, 
the great hall of I’^he 
jsings a funny chorus 
[re free of all sorts of 
and roam about in 

are not so unnatural 
he transitions in real 
and from mourning- 
it less startling ; only, 
isive lookers-on, which 
the mimic life of the 
s and abrupt impulses 
led before the eyes of 


BEADLEDOM FULL-BLOWN. 147 

mere spectators, are at once condemned as outrageous and 
preposterous. 

As sudden shiftings of the scene, and rapid changes of 
time and place, are not only sanctioned in books by long 
usage, but are by many considered as the great art of 
authorship : an author’s skill in his craft being, by such 
critics, chiefly estimated with relation to the dilemmas in 
which he leaves his characters at the end of every chapter: 
this brief introduction to the present one may perhaps be 
deemed unnecessary. If so, let it be considered a delicate 
intimation on the part of the historian that he is going back 
to the town in which Oliver Twist was born ; the reader 
taking it for granted that there are good and substantial 
reasons for making the journey, or he v/ould not be invited 
to proceed upon such an expedition. 

Mr. Bumble emerged at early morning from the workhouse- 
gate, and walked with portly carriage and commanding steps, 
up the High Street. He was in the full bloom and pride 
of beadlehood; his cocked hat and coat were dazzling in 
the morning sun ; he clutched his cane with the vigorous 
tenacity of health and power. Mr. Bumble always carried 
his head high ; but this morning it was higher than usual. 
There was an abstraction in his eye, an elevation in his air, 
which might have warned an observant stranger that thoughts 
were passing in the beadle’s mind, too great for utterance. 

Mr. Bumble stopped not to converse with the small shop- 
keepers and others who spoke to him, deferentially, as he 
passed along. Fie merely returned their salutations with a 
wave of his hand, and relaxed not in his dignified pace, until 
he reached the farm where Mrs. Mann tended the infant 
paupers with parochial care. 

Drat that beadle ! ” said Mrs. Mann, hearing the well- 
known shaking at the garden-gate. ^^If it isn’t him at this 
time in the morning ! Lauk, Mr. Bumble, only think of its 
being you ! Well, dear me, it is a pleasure, this is ! Come 
into the parlour, sir, please.” 


148 


OLIVER 


The first sentence was addresaea to Susan ; and the ex- 
clamations of delight were uttered to Mr. Bumble : as the 
good lady unlocked the garden-gate, and showed him, with 
great attention and respect, into the house. 

‘^^Mrs. Mann,'’ said Mr. Bumble; not sitting upon, or 
dropping himself into a seat, as any common jackanapes 
would : but letting himself gradually and slowly down into a 
chair ; Mrs. Mann, ma'am, good morning." 

Well, and good morning to you^ sir," replied Mrs. Mann, 
with many smiles ; and hoping you find yourself well, sir ! " 

So-so, Mrs. Mann," replied the beadle. porochial 

life is not a bed of roses, Mrs. Mann." 

^^Ah, that it isn't indeed, Mr. Bumble," rejoined the lady. 
And all the infant paupers might have chorused the rejoinder 
with great propriety, if they had heard it. 

‘^A porochial life, ma'am," continued Mr. Bumble, striking 
the table with his cane, ^^is a life of worrit, and vexation, 
and hardihood ; but all public characters, as I may say, 
must suffer prosecution." 

Mrs. Mann, not very well knowing what the beadle meant, 
raised her hands with a look of sympathy, and sighed. 

Ah ! You may well sigh, Mrs. Mann ! " said the beadle. 

Finding she had done right, Mrs. Mann sighed again : 
evidently to the satisfaction of the public character: who, 
repressing a complacent smile by looking sternly at his cocked 
hat, said, 

‘^Mrs. Mann, I am a going to London." 

Lauk, Mr. Bumble ! " cried Mrs. Mann, starting back. 

‘^To London, ma'am," resumed the inflexible beadle, ^H)y 
coach. I and two paupers, Mrs. Mann ! A legal action is 
a coming on, about a settlement ; and the board has appointed 
me — me, Mrs. Mann — to depose to the matter before the 
quarter-sessions at Clerkinwell. And I very much question," 
added Mr. Bumble, drawing himself up, whether the Clerkin- 
well Sessions will not find themselves in the wrong box 
before they have done with me." 


REMi L OF PAUPERS. 149 

“ Oh ! you mustn’t \ - m hard upon them, sir,” said Mrs. 
Mann, coaxingly. 

“The Clerkinwell Ses •. have brought it upon themselves, 
ma’am,” replied Mr. Bui ; “ and if the Clerkinwell Sessions 
find that they come o ther worse than they expected, 
the Clerkinwell Sessions , only themselves to thank.” 

There was so much c« lination and depth of purpose 
about the menacing man . In which Mr. Bumble delivered 
himself of these words, that Mrs. Mann appeared quite awed 
by them. At length she said, 

“You’re going by coach, sir.^ I thought it was always 
usual to send them paupers in carts.” 

“That’s when they’re ill, Mrs. Mann,” said the beadle. 
“We put the sick paupers into open carts in the rainy 
weather, to prevent their taking cold.” 

“ Oh ! ” said Mrs. Mann. 

“ The opposition coach contracts for these two ; and takes 
them cheap,” said Mr. Bumble. “They are both in a very 
low state, and we find it would come two pound cheaper 
to move ’em than to bury ’em — that is, if we can throw 
’em upon another parish, which I think we shall be able 
to do, if they don’t die upon the road to spite us. Ha! 
ha I ha I ” 

When Mr. Bumble had laughed a little while, his eyes 
again encountered the cocked hat; and he became grave' 

“We are forgetting business, ma’am,” said the beadle; 
“ here is your porochial stipend for the month.” 

Mr. Bumble produced some silver money rolled up in paper, 
from his pocket-book ; and requested a receipt : which Mrs. 
Mann wrote. 

“ It’s very much blotted, sir,” said the farmer of infants ; 
“ but it’s formal enough, I dare say. Thank you, Mr. Bumble, 
sir, I am ver” much obliged to you. I’m sure.” 

Mr. ■' e nodded, blandly, in acknowledgment of Mrs. 
Mann’f y ; and inquired how the children were. 

“ Bl( ;ir dear little hearts ! ” said Mrs. Mann with 


150 


OLIVER TWIST. 


emotion, “ they’re as well as can be, the dears ! Of course, 
except the two that died last week. And little Dick.” 

Isn’t that boy no better ? ” inquired Mr. Bumble. 

Mrs. Mann shook her head. 

He’s a ill-conditioned, wicious,, bad-disposed porochial 
child that,” said Mr. Bumble angrily. Where is he?” 

‘‘I’ll bring him to you in one minute, sir,” replied Mrs. 
Mann. “ Here, you Dick ! ” 

After some calling, Dick was discovered. Having had his 
face put under the pump, and dried upon Mrs. Mann’s gown, 
he was led into the awful presence of Mr. Bumble, the beadle. 

The child was pale and thin ; his cheeks were sunken ; and 
his eyes large and bright. The scanty parish dress, the 
livery of his misery, hung loosely on his feeble body; and 
his young limbs had wasted away, like those of an old man. 

Such was the little being who stood trembling beneath 
Mr. Bumble’s glance ; not daring to lift his eyes from the 
floor; and dreading even to hear the beadle’s voice. 

“Can’t you look at the gentleman, you obstinate boy?” 
said Mrs. Mann. 

The child meekly raised his eyes, and encountered those 
of Mr. Bumble. 

“What’s the matter with you, porochial Dick?” inquired 
Mr. Bumble, with well-timed jocularity. 

“ Nothing, sir,” replied the child faintly. 

“I should think not,” said Mrs. Mann, who had of course 
laughed very much at Mr. Bumble’s humour. “You want 
for nothing. I’m sure.” 

“I should like — ” faltered the child. 

“ Heyday ! ” interposed Mrs. Mann, “ I suppose you’re 
going to say that you do want for something, now ? Why, 
you little wretch ” 

“ Stop, Mrs. Mann, stop ! ” said the beadle, raising his 
hand with a show of authority. “ Like what, sir, eh ? ” 

“I should like,” faltered the child, “if someboa^ Jiat can 
write, would put a few words down for me on a piece of 


BAD BOY INDEED. 


151 


paper, and fol 
I am laid in tl 
‘‘Why, what 
on whom the ( 
had made some 
things. “ What 
“I should like 
poor Oliver Twis * 
sat by myself and 
the dark nights \ 
like to tell him,’’ 
together, and speal 
to die when I was 
to be a man, and h 
Heaven, might forget 
so much happier if wt 
Mr. Bumble surveye 
with indescribable asti 
panion said, “They’re 
out-dacious Oliver has a 
“ I couldn’t have belies 
up her hands, and looki 
see such a hardened little 
“Take him away, ma’a 
“This must be stated to i 
“I hope the gentlemen 


ssion 


1 mean, sir 


o and seal it, and keep it for me, after 
nd.” 

he boy mean ? ” exclaimed Mr. Bumble, 
mann^V and wan aspect of the child 
ccustomed as he was to such 

the child, “ to leave my dear love to 
to let him know how often I have 
to think of his wandering about in 
body to help him. And I should 
he child, pressing his small hands 
th great fervour, “that I was glad 
oung ; for, perhaps, if I had lived 
wn old, my little sister who is in 
r be unlike me ; and it would be 
both children there together.” 
'ittle speaker, from head to foot, 
''snt; and, turning to his com- 
• one story, Mrs. Mann. That 
lized them all ! ” 
sir ! ” said Mrs. Mann, holding 
ligmfitly at Dick. “I never 
h!” 

aid Mr. Bumble imperiously, 
ird, Mrs. Mann.” 


ill understand that it isn’t my 
fault, sir?” said Mrs. Mann, whimpering pathetically. 

“ They shall understand that, ma’am ; they shall be ac- 
quainted with the true state of the case,” said Mr. Bumble. 
“ There ; take him away, I can’t bear the sight on him.” 

Dick was immediately taken away, and locked up in the 
coal-cellar. Mr. Bumble shortly afterwards took himself off, 
to prepare for his journey. 

At six o’clock next morning, Mr. Bumble : having exchanged 
his cocked hat for a round one, and encased his person in 
a blue great-coat with a cape to it : took his place on the 


152 


OLIVER TWIST. 


outside of the coach, accompanied by the criminals whose 
settlement was disputed ; with whom, in due course of time, 
he arrived in I^ondon. He experienced no other crosses on 
the way, than those which origii^ted in the perverse behaviour 
of the two paupers, who persist^ in shivering, and complaining 
of the cold, in a manner which, Mr. Bumble declared, caused 
his teeth to chatter in his head, and made him feel quite 
uncomfortable ; although he had a great+coat on. 

Having disposed of these evil-minded persons for the night, 
Mr. Bumble sat himself down in the house at which the coach 
stopped ; and took a temperate dinner of steaks, oyster sauce, 
and porter. Putting a glass of hot gin-and-water on the 
chimney-piece, he drew his chair to the fire ; and, with sundry 
moral reflections on the too-prevalent sin of discontent and 
complaining, composed himself to read the paper. 

The very first paragraph upon which Mr. Bumble’s eye 
rested, was the following advertisement. 

^^FIVE GUINEAS REWARD. 

Whereas a young boy, named Oliver Twist, absconded, or 
was enticed, on Thursday evening last, from his home, at 
Pentonville ; and has n# since been heard of. The above 
reward will be paid to any person who will give such in- 
formation as will lead to the discovery of the said Oliver Twist, 
or tend to throw any light upon his previous history, in 
which the advertiser is, for many reasons, warmly interested.” 

And then followed a full description of Oliver’s dress, 
person, appearance, and disappearance: with the name and 
address of Mr. Brownlow at full length. 

Mr. Bumble opened his eyes ; read the advertisement, slowly 
and carefully, three several times ; and in something more than 
five minutes was on his way to Pentonville : having actually, 
in his excitement, left the glass of hot gin-and-water, untasted. 

Is Mr. Brownlow at home ? ” inquired Mr. Bumble of the 
girl who opened the door. 


MR. BUMBLE !aT MR. BROWNLOW’S. 153 

To this inquiry the girl returned the not uncommon, but 
rather evasive reply of “ I don’t know ; where do you come 
from ? ’ 

Mr. Bumble no sooner uttered Oliver’s name, in explanation 
of his errand, than Mrs. Bedwin, who had been listening at the 
parlour door, hastened into the passage in a breathless state. 

Come in, come in,” said the old lady : I knew we should 
hear of him. Poor dear ! I knew we should ! I was certain 
of it. Bless his heart ! I said so, all along.” 

Having said this, the worthy old lady hurried back into 
the parlour again ; and seating herself on a sofa, burst into 
tears. The girl, who was not quite so susceptible, had run 
up stairs meanwhile ; and now returned with a request that 
Mr. Bumble would follow her immediately : which he did. 

He was shown into the little back study, where sat Mr. 
Brownlow and his friend Mr. Grimwig, with decanters and 
glasses before them. The latter gentleman at once burst 
into the exclamation : 

A beadle ! A parish beadle, or I’ll eat my head.” 

“Pray don’t interrupt just now,” said Mr. Brownlow. 
“ Take a seat, will you ? ” 

Mr. Bumble sat himself down : quite confounded by the 
oddity of Mr. Grimwig’s manner. Mr. Brownlow moved the 
lamp, so as to obtain an uninterrupted view of the Beadle’s 
countenance ; and said, with a little impatience, 

“Now, sir, you come in consequence of having seen the 
advertisement ? ” 

“Yes, sir,” said Mr. Bumble. 

“And you are a beadle, are you not.^” inquired Mr. 
Grimwig. 

“ I am a porochial beadle, gentlemen,” rejoined Mr. Bumble, 
proudly. 

“ Of course,* served Mr. Grimwig aside to his friend, “ I 
knew he was. )eadle all over ! ” 

Mr. Brownlo mtly shook his head to impose silence on 
his friend, and ned : 


154 OLIVER TWijST. 

Do you know where this poor boy is now ? 

^“^No more than nobody,'” replied Mr. Bumble. 

“Well, what do you know of him?’'' inquired the old 
gentleman. “ Speak out, my friend, if you have anything 
to say. What do you know of him ? 

“You don'’t happen to know any good of him, do you?’*' 
said Mr. Grimwig, caustically; after an attentive perusal of 
Mr. Bumble''s features. 

Mr. Bumble, catching at the inquiry very quickly, shook 
his head with portentous solemnity. 

“You see?'*'' said Mr. Grimwig, looking triumphantly at 
Mr. Brownlow. 

Mr. Brownlow looked apprehensively at Mr. Bumble'^s 
pursed-up countenance; and requested him to communicate 
what he knew regarding Oliver, in as few w^ords as possible. 

Mr. Bumble put down his hat ; unbuttoned his coat ; 
folded his arms ; inclined his head in a retrospective manner ; 
and, after a few moments*' reflection, commenced his story. 

It would be tedious if given in the beadle‘'s words : occupy- 
ing, as it did, some twenty minutes in the telling ; but the 
sum and substance of it was, That Oliver was a foundling, 
born of low and vicious parents. That he had, from his birth, 
displayed no better qualities than treachery, ingratitude, and 
malice. That he had terminated his brief career in the place 
of his birth, by making a sanguinary and cowardly attack on 
an unoffending lad, and running away in the night-time 
from his master''s house. In proof of his really being the 
person he represented himself, Mr. Bumble laid upon the table 
the papers he had brought to town. Folding his arms again, 
he then awaited Mr. Brownlow’s observations. 

“I fear it is all too true,’*’ said the old gentleman sorrow- 
fully, after looking over the papers. “This is not much for 
your intelligence ; but I would gladly have given you treble 
the money, if it had been favourable to the bo}^'’'' 

It is not improbable that if Mr. Bumble had been possessed 
of this information at an earlier period of the interview, he 


FIVE GUINEAS FOR BUMBLE. 


155 


might have imparted a very different colouring to his little 
history. It was too late to do it now, however; so he shook 
his head gravely, and, pocketing the five guineas, withdrew. 

Mr. Brownlow paced the room to and fro for some minutes ; 
evidently so much disturbed by the beadle’s tale, that even 
Mr. Grimwig forbore to vex him further. 

At length he stopped, and rang the bell violently. 

Mrs. Bedwin,” said Mr. Brownlow, when the housekeeper 
appeared ; that boy, Oliver, is an impostor.” 

‘‘It can’t be, sir. It cannot be,” said the old lady, energe- 
tically. 

“ I tell you he is,” retorted the old gentleman. “ What do 
you mean by can’t be ? We have just heard a full account 
of him from his birth ; and he has been a thorough-paced 
little villain, all his life.” 

I never will believe it, sir,” replied the old lady, firmly. 

Never ! ” 

“ You old women never believe anything but quack-doctors, 
and lying story-books,” growled Mr. Grimwig. “I knew it 
all along. Why didn’t you take my advice in the beginning ; 
you would, if he hadn’t had a fever, I suppose, eh? He 
was interesting, wasn’t he ? Interesting ! Bah ! ” And Mr. 
Grimwig poked the fire with a flourish. 

‘^He was a dear, grateful, gentle child, sir,” retorted Mrs. 
Bedwin, indignantly. “I know what children are, sir; and 
have done these forty years ; and people who can’t say the 
same, shouldn’t say anything about them. That’s my 
opinion ! ” 

This was a hard hit at Mr. Grimwig, ^vho was a bachelor. 
As it extorted nothing from that gentleman but a smile, 
the old lady tossed her head, and smoothed down her apron 
preparatory to another speech, when she was stopped by 
Mr. Brownlow. 

Silence ! ” said the old gentleman, feigning an anger he 
was far from feeling. “Never let me hear the boy’s name 
again. I rang to tell you that. Never. Never, on any 


156 


OIIVER TWIST. 


pretence, mind ! You may leave the room, Mrs. Bedwin. 
Remember ! I am dn earnest.’” 

There were sad hearts at Mr. Brownlow’^s that night. 

01iver'’s heart sank within him, when he thought of his 
good kind friends ; it was well for him that he could not 
know what they had heard, or it might have broken 
outright. 


HOW OLIVER PASSED 

About noon next day 
had gone out to pursue 
took the opportunity 
crying sin of ingratituc 
he had been guilty, to 
himself from the socie 
more, in endeavouring 
trouble and expense 
Fagin laid great stress 
in, and cherished him 
have perished with 
affecting history of 
he had succoured 
proving unworthy 
communicate with 
hanged at the Old 
seek to conceal his sh 
tears in his eyes 
behaviour of the yo 
necessary that he sho 
for the crown : whi 
dispensably necessar 
a few select friend 


discomforts of hanging; 
politeness of manner, ex- 
never be obliged to 
operation. 

listened to the Jew^s 
the dark threats con- 
even for justice itself 
ilty when they were in 
already ; and that deeply- 
nconveniently knowing or 
really devised and 
occasions than one, he 
ecollected the general 
gentleman and Mr. 
rence to some foregone 
timidly up, and met 
pale face and trem- 
unrelished by that 


Oliver on the head, and 
applied himself to 
ood friends yet. Then, 
an old patched great- 
door behind him. 

and for the greater 
nobody, between early 
mg the long hours to 
hich, never failing to 
n they must long ago 

ew left the room-door 
er about the house. 

up stairs had great 
doors, with panelled 
although they were 
lied in various wavs. 


A LONELY PLACE TO LIVE IN. 


159 


Prom all of these tokens Oliver concluded that a long time 
ago, before the old Jew was born, it had belonged to better 
people, and had perhaps been quite gay and handsome : dismal 
and dreary as it looked now. 

Spiders had built their webs in the angles of the walls and 
ceilings ; and sometimes, when Oliver walked softly into a 
room, the mice would scamper across the floor, and run back 
terrified to their holes. With these exceptions, there was 
neither sight nor sound of any living thing; and often, when 
it grew dark, and he was tired of wandering from room to 
room, he would crouch in the corner of the passage by the 
street-door, to be as near living people as he could ; and would 
remain there, listening and counting the hours, until the Jew 
or the boys returned. 

In all the rooms, the mouldering shutters were fast closed : 
the bars which held them were screwed tight into the wood ; 
the only light which was admitted, stealing its way through 
round holes at the top : which made the rooms more gloomy, 
and filled them with strange shadows. There was a back- 
garret window with rusty bars outside, which had no shutter ; 
and out of this, Oliver often gazed with a melancholy face for 
hours together ; but nothing was to be descried from it but a 
confused and crowded mass of house-tops, blackened chimneys, 
and gable-ends. Sometimes, indeed, a grizzly head might be 
seen, peering over the parapet- wall of a distant house : but it 
was quickly withdrawn again ; and as the window of Oliver’s 
observatory was nailed down, and dimmed with the rain and 
smoke of years, it was as much as he could do to make out 
the forms of the different objects beyond, without making any 
attempt to be seen or heard, — which he had as much chance 
of being, as if he had lived inside the ball of St. Paul’s 
Cathedral. 

One afternoon, the Dodger and Master Bates being engaged 
out that evening, the first-named young gentleman took it 
into his head to evince some anxiety regarding the decoration 
of his person (to do him justice, this was by no means an 


160 


OLIVER TWIST. 


habitual weakness with him) ; and, with this end and aim, he 
condescendingly commanded Oliver to assist him in his toilet, 
straightway. 

Oliver was but too glad to make himself useful ; too happy 
to have some faces, however bad, to look upon ; too desirous to 
conciliate those about him when he could honestly do so; 
to throw any objection in the way of this proposal. So he 
at once expressed his readiness ; and, kneeling on the floor, 
while the Dodger sat upon the table so that he could take 
his foot in his lap, he applied himself to a process which 
Mr. Dawkins designated as ‘‘ japanning his trotter-cases.’’ The 
phrase, rendered into plain English, signifieth, cleaning his 
boots. 

Whether it was the sense of freedom and independence 
which a rational animal may be supposed to feel when he sits 
on a table in an easy attitude smoking a pipe, swinging one 
leg carelessly to and fro, and having his boots cleaned all the 
time, without even the past trouble of having taken them oft*, 
or the prospective misery of putting them on, to disturb his 
reflections; or whether it was the goodness of the tobacco 
that soothed the feelings of the Dodger, or the mildness of 
the beer that mollified his thoughts ; he was evidently tinc- 
tured, for the nonce, with a spice of romance and enthusiasm, 
foreign to his general nature. He looked down on Oliver, 
with a thoughtful countenance, for a brief space; and then, 
raising his head, and heaving a gentle sigh, said, half in 
abstraction, and half to Master Bates : 

“ What a pity it is he isn’t a prig ! ” 

“ Ah ! ” said Master Charles Bates ; “ he don’t know what’s 
good for him.” 

The Dodger sighed again, and resumed his pipe : as did 
Charley Bates. They both smoked, for some seconds, in 
silence. 

“ I suppose you don’t even know what a prig is ? ” said the 
Dodger mournfully. 

“I think I know that,” replied Oliver, looking up. “It’s 


AN OUT-AND-OUT CHRISTIAN. 161 

a th — ; youVe one, are you not?*^’ inquired Oliver, checking 
himself. 

‘‘I am,'” replied the Dodger. “Fd scorn to be anything 
else.*” Mr. Dawkins gave his hat a ferocious cock, after 
delivering this sentiment, and looked at Master Bates, as if 
to denote that he would feel obliged by his saying anything 
to the contrary. 

I am,*” repeated the Dodger. So'’s Charley. So'^s Fagin. 
So’s Sikes. So'^s Nancy. So'’s Bet. So we all are, down to 
the dog. And he'’s the downiest one of the lot!’’’’ 

^‘And the least given to peaching,*” added Charley Bates. 

“ Fie wouldn’t so much as bark in a witness-box, for fear of 
committing himself; no, not if you tied him up in one, and 
left him there without wittles for a fortnight,” said the 
Dodger. 

Not a bit of it,*” observed Charley. 

He’s a rum dog. Don’t he look fierce at any strange 
cove that laughs or sings when he’s in company!” pursued 
the Dodger. Won’t he growl at all, when he hears a fiddle 
playing ! And don’t he hate other dogs as ain’t of his 
breed ! Oh, no 1 ” 

He’s an out-and-out Christian,” said Charley. 

This was merely intended as a tribute to the animal’s 
abilities, but it was an appropriate remark in another sense, 
if Master Bates had only known it ; for there are a good 
many ladies and gentlemen, claiming to be out-and-out 
Christians, between whom, and Mr. Sikes’ dog, there exist 
strong and singular points of resemblance. 

“Well, well,” said the Dodger, recurring to the point from 
which they had strayed : with that mindfulness of his pro- 
fession which influenced all his proceedings. “ This hasn’t got 
anything to do with young Green here.” 

“No more it has,” said Charley. “Why don’t you put 
yourself under Fagin, Oliver ? ” 

“ And make your fortun’ out of hand ? ” added the Dodger, 
with a grin. 


162 


OLIVER TWIST. 


And so be able to retire on your property, and do the 
gen-teel: as I mean to, in the very next leap-year but four 
that ever comes, and the forty-second Tuesday in Trinity- 
week,’’ said Charley Bates. 

“I don’t like it,” rejoined Oliver, timidly; ‘^I wish they 
would let me go. I — I — would rather go.” 

“And Fagin would rather not!” rejoined Charley. 

Oliver knew this too well; but thinking it might be 
dangerous to express his feelings more openly, he only sighed, 
and went on with his boot-cleaning. 

“ Go ! ” exclaimed the Dodger. “ Why, where’s your spiilt ? 
Don’t you take any pride out of yourself.^ Would you go 
and be dependent on your friends ? ” 

“ Oh, blow that ! ” said Master Bates : drawing two or 
three silk handkerchiefs from his pocket, and tossing them 
into a cupboard, “ that’s too mean ; that is.” 

“ I couldn’t do it,” said the Dodger, with an air of 
haughty disgust. 

“You can leave your friends, though,” said Oliver with a 
half smile ; “ and let them be punished for what you did.” 

“That,” rejoined the Dodger, with a wave of his pipe, 
“ That was all out of consideration for Fagin, ’cause the traps 
know that we work together, and he might have got into 
trouble if we hadn’t made our lucky; that was the move, 
wasn’t it, Charley.^” 

Master Bates nodded assent, and would have spoken ; but 
the recollection of Oliver’s flight came so suddenly upon him, 
that the smoke he was inhaling got entangled with a laugh, 
and went up into his head, and down into his throat : and 
brought on a fit of coughing and stamping, about five minutes 
long. 

“ Look here ! ” said the Dodger, drawing forth a handful 
of shillings and half-pence. “ Here’s a jolly life! What’s 
the odds where it comes from.^ Here, catch hold; there’s 
plenty more where they were took from. You won’t, won’t 
you ? Oh, you precious flat ! ” 


PTER XVIIL 

TIME IN THE IMPROVING SOCIETY OF 
IPUTABLE FRIENDS. 

vhen the Dodger and Master Bates 
eir customary avocations, Mr. Fagin 
reading Oliver a long lecture on the 
e : of which he clearly demonstrated 
ordinary extent, in wilfully absenting 
of his anxious friends ; and, still 
‘Se from them after so much 
incurred in his recovery. Mr. 
act of his having taken Oliver 
thout his timely aid, he might 
Tid he related the dismal and 
ad whom, in his philanthropy, 
allel circumstances, but who, 
fidence land evincing a desire to 
polled', had Unfortunately come to be 
alley one morning. Mr. Fagin did not 
re in the catastrophe, ^ but lamented with 
at the wrong-headed and treacherous 
ng person in question, had rendered it 
Id become the victim of liprtain evidence 
h, if it were not precisely true, was in- 
fer the safety of him (Mr. Fagin) and 
Mr. Fagin concluded by drawing a 


OLIVER 


rather disajgreeable picture of t 
and, withi great friendliness and 
pressed his anxious hopes that h 
sub’mit Oliver Twist to that unpl 
Little Oliver^s blood ran cold, 
words, and imperfectly comprehen 
veyed in them. That it was pos. 
to confound the innocent with the 
accidental companionship, he knew 
laid plans for the destruction of i 
over-communicative persons, had 
carried out by the old Jew on m 
thought by no means unlikely, when 
nature of the altercations between 
Sikes : which seemed to bear ref 
conspiracy of the kind. As he gla 
the Jew's searching look, he felt tha 
bling limbs were neither unnoticed 
wary old gentleman. 

The Jew, smiling hirf^^usl 
said, that if he kept i^himself 
business, he saw they Mvould 
taking his hat, and covering hi 
coat, he w ent out, and I locked 
And so Oliver remailped all 
part of many subsequeilit days, 
morning and midnighti and 
commune with his own\ thc’^^nts. 
revert to his kind friends, and the opini 
have formed of him, were sad indeed. 

After the lapse of a week or so, the 
unlocked ; and he was at liberty to wand 
It was a vrfry dirty place. The roor 
high wooden chimney-pieces and large 
walls and cornices to the ceilings ; which 
black with neglect and dust, were ornamei 






If? 






IMPROVING ADVICE. 163 

IPs naughty, ain’t it, Oliver?” inquired Charley Bates. 

He’ll come to be scragged, won’t he ? ” 

^^I don’t know what that means,” replied Oliver. 

Something in this way, old feller,” said Charley. As he 
said it. Master Bates caught up an end of his neckerchief; 
and, holding it erect in the air, dropped his head on his 
shoulder, and jerked a curious sound through his teeth: 
thereby indicating, by a lively pantomimic representation, 
that scragging and hanging were one and the same thing. 

“That’s what it means,” said Charley. “Look how he 
stares, Jack ! I never did see such prime company as that 
’ere boy ; he’ll be the death of me, I know he will.” Master 
Charles Bates, having laughed heartily again, resumed his 
pipe with tears in his eyes. 

“You’ve been brought up bad,” said the Dodger, surveying 
his boots with much satisfaction when Oliver had polished them. 
“ Fagin will make something of you, though, or you’ll be the 
first he ever had that turned out unprofitable. You’d better 
begin at once ; for you’ll come to the trade long before you 
think of it ; and you’re only losing time, Oliver.” 

Master Bates backed this advice with sundry moral admoni- 
tions of his own : which, being exhausted, he and his friend 
Mr. Dawkins launched into a glowing description of the 
numerous pleasures incidental to the life they led, interspersed 
with a variety of hints to Oliver that the best thing he 
could do, would be to secure Fagin’s favour without more 
delay, by the means which they themselves had employed to 
gain it. 

“And always put this in your pipe, Nolly,” said the 
Dodger, as the Jew was heard unlocking the door above, “ if 
you don’t take fogies and tickers — ” 

“What’s the good of talking in that way?” interposed 
Master Bates ; “ he don’t know what you mean.” 

“ If you don’t take pocket-handkechers and watches,” said 
the Dodger, reducing his conversation to the level of Oliver’s 
capacity, “ some other cove will ; so that the coves that lose 


164 


OLIVER TWIST. 


’em will be all the worse, and you’ll be all the worse too, 
and nobody half a ha’p’orth the better, except the chaps 
wot gets them — and you’ve just as good a right to them 
as they have.” 

‘‘ To be sure, to be sure ! ” said the Jew, who had entered, 
unseen by Oliver. It all lies in a nutshell, my dear ; in a 
nutshell, take the Dodger’s word for it. Ha ! ha ! ha ! He 
understands the catechism of his trade.” 

The old man rubbed his hands gleefully together, ^ he 
corroborated the Dodger’s reasoning in these terms; and 
chuckled with delight at his pupil’s proficiency. 

The conversation proceeded no farther at this time, for 
the Jew had returned home accompanied by Miss Betsy, and 
a gentleman whom Oliver had never seen before, but who 
was accosted by the Dodger as Tom Chitling; and who, 
having lingered on the stairs to exchange a few gallantries 
with the lady, now made his appearance. 

Mr. Chitling was older in years than the Dodger: having 
perhaps numbered eighteen winters ; but there was a degree 
of deference in his deportment towards that young gentleman 
which seemed to indicate that he felt himself conscious of 
a slight inferiority in point of genius and professional acquire- 
ments. He had small twinkling eyes, and a pock-marked 
face ; wore a fur cap, a dark corduroy jacket, greasy fustian 
trousers, and an apron. His wardrobe was, in truth, rather 
out of repair; but he excused himself to the company by 
stating that his time ” was only out an hour before ; and 
that, in consequence of having worn the regimentals for six 
weeks past, he had not been able to bestow any attention 
on his private clothes. Mr. Chitling added, with strong 
marks of irritation, that the new way of fumigating clothes 
up yonder was infernal unconstitutional, for it burnt holes in 
them, and there was no remedy against the County. The 
same remark he considered to apply to the regulation mode 
of cutting the hair : which he held to be decidedly unlawful. 
Mr. Chitling wound up his observations by stating that he 


MR. CHITLING. 


165 


had not touched a drop of anything for forty-two mortal long 
hard-w^orking days ; and that he wished he might be busted 
if he warn’t as dry as a lime-basket.'” 

Where do you think the gentleman has come from, 
Oliver?'*'’ inquired the Jew, with a grin, as the \ other boys 
put a bottle of spirits on the table. ^ 

I — I — don'’t know, sir,*” replied Oliver. 

Who's that?''’ inquired Tom Chitling, casting a con- 
temptuous look at Oliver. 

young friend of mine, my dear," replied the Jew. 

He's in luck, then," said the young man, with a meaning 
look at Fagin. Never mind where I came from, young 'un ; 
you'll find your way there, soon enough. I'll bet a crown ! " 

At this sally, the boys laughed. After some more jokes 
on the same subject, they exchanged a few short whispers 
wdth Fagin; and withdrew. 

After some words apart between the last con,er and Fagin, 
they drew their chairs towards the fire; and the Jew, telling 
Oliver to come and sit by him, led the conversation to the 
topics most calculated to interest his hearers. These were, 
the great advantages of the trade, the proficiency of the 
Dodger, the amiability of Charley Bates, and the liberality 
of the Jew himself. At length these subjects displayed signs 
of being thoroughly exhausted ; and Mr. Chitling did the 
same : for the house of correction becomes fatiguing after a 
week or two. Miss Betsy accordingly withdrew; and left 
the party to their repose. 

From this day, Oliver was seldom left alone ; but was placed 
in almost constant communication with the two boys, who 
played the old game with the Jew every day : whether for 
their own improvement or Oliver's, Mr. Fagin best knew. 
At other times the old man would tell them stories of rob- 
beries he had committed in his younger days : mixed up with 
so much that w^as droll and curious, that Oliver could not 
help laughing heartily, and showing that he was amused in 
spite of all his better feelings. 


166 


OLIVER TWIST. 


In shor 
Having pi 
any societ 
in such a 
soul the t 
its hue fi 


wily old Jew had the boy in his toils. 
1 his mind, by solitude and gloom, to prefer 
the companionship of his own sad thoughts 
:y place, he was now slowly instilling into his 
L which he hoped would blacken it, and change 
;r. 


CHAPITER XIX. 


IN WHICH A NOTABLE PLAN IS DISCUSSED AND DETERMINED ON. 

llwas a chill, damp, windy night, when the Jew: buttoning 
M great-coat tight round his shrivelled body, and pulling 
the collar up over his ears so as completely to obscure the 
lower part of his face : emerged from his den. He paused on 
the step as the door was locked and chained behind him ; and 
having listened while the boys made all secure, and until 
their retreating footsteps were no longer audible, slunk down 
the street as quickly as he could. 

The house to which Oliver had been conveyed, was in the 
neighbourhood of Whitechapel. The Jew stopped for an 
instant at the corner of the street ; and, glancing suspiciously 
round, crossed the road, and struck oft* in the direction of 
Spitalfields. 

The mud lay thick upon the stones, and a black mist hung 
over the streets ; the rain fell sluggishly down, and everything 
felt cold and clammy to the touch. It seemed just the night 
when it befitted such a being as the Jew to be abroad. As 
he glided stealthily along, creeping beneath the shelter of the 
walls and doorways, the hideous old man seemed like some 
loathsome reptile, engendered in the slime and darkness through 
which he moved : crawling forth, by night, in search of some 
rich offal for a meal, 

\ He kept on his course, through many winding and narrow 



TWIST. 


HRnnal Green ; then, turning sudden! 
ibccaine involved in a maze of the mean 
which abound in that close and densely- 


f 


was evidently too familiar with the ground he 
to be at all bewildered, either by the darkness of 
ght, or the intricacies of the way. He hurried through 
eral alleys and streets, and at length turned into one^ 
ighted only by a single lamp at the farther end. At the 
door of a house in this street, he knocked ; having exchanged 
a few muttered words with the person who opened it, 
walked up stairs. 

A doo; growled as he touched the handle of a room-dooi 

o o 

and a man'’s voice demanded who was there. 

Only me, Bill ; only me, my dear,"’’ said the Jew, looking 
Bring in your body then,"’ said Sikes. ‘‘Lie down, you 
stupid brute ! Don’t you know the devil when he’s 



got 


a 


great-coat on ? ” 


Apparently, the dog had been somewhat deceived by Mr. 
Fagin’s outer garment; for as the Jew unbuttoned it, and 
threw it over the back of a chair, he retired to the corner 
from which he had risen : wagging his tail as he went, to 
show that he was as well satisfied as it was in his nature to be. 

“ Well ! ” said Sikes. 

“Well, my dear,” replied the Jew. — “Ah! Nancy.” 

The latter recognition was uttered with just enough of 
embarrassment to imply a doubt of ijts reception ; for Mr. 
Fagin and his young friend had not met, since she had inter- 
fered in behalf of Oliver. All doubts upon the subject, if he 
had any, were speedily removed by the young lady’s behaviour. 
She took her feet oft* the fender, pushed back her chair, and 
bade Fagin draw up his, without saying more about it : for it 
was a cold night, and no mistake. 

“ It is cold, Nancy dear,” said the Jew, as he warmed his 
skinny hands over the fire. “It seems to go right through 
one,” added the old man touching his side. 


READY FOR BUSINESS. 


169 


It must be a piercer, if it finds its way through yotir 
heart, said Mr. Sikes. Give him something to drink, Nancy. 
Burn my body, make haste ! It’s enough to turn a man ill, to 
see his lean old carcase shivering in that way, like a ugly 
ghost just rose from the grave.” o 

Nancy quickly brought a bottle from a cupboard, in which 
there were many : which, to judge from the diversity of their 
appearance, were filled with several kinds of liquids. Sikes 
pouring out a glass of brandy, bade the Jew drink it off‘. 

Quite enough, quite, thankye. Bill,” replied the Jew, putting 
down the glass after just setting his lips to it. 

What ! You’re afraid of our getting the better of you, 
are you ? ” inquired Sikes, fixing his eyes on the Jew. Ugh ! ” 

With a hoarse grunt of contempt, Mr. Sikes seized the 
glass, and threw the remainder of its contents into the ashes : 
as a preparatory ceremony to filling it again for himself: 
which he did at once. 

The Jew glanced round the room, as his companion tossed 
down the second glassful ; not in curiosity, for he had seen it 
often before ; but in a restless and suspicious manner habitual 
to him.‘ It was a meanly furnished apartment, with nothing 
but the contents of the closet to induce the belief that its 
occupier was anything but a working man ; and with no more 
suspicious articles displayed to view than two or three heavy 
bludgeons which stood in a corner, and a “life-preserver” 
that hung over the chimney-piece. 

“ There,” said Sikes, smacking his lips. “ Now I’m ready.” 

“For business?” inquired the Jew. 

“ For business,” replied Sikes ; “ so say what you’ve got to 
say.” 

“ About the crib at Chertsey, Bill ? ” said the Jew, drawing 
his chair forward, and speaking in a very low voice. 

“Yes. Wot about it?” inquired Sikes. 

“ Ah ! you know what I mean, my dear,” said the Jew. 
“ He knows what I mean, Nancy ; don’t he ? ” 

“ No, he don’t,” sneered Mr, Sikes. “ Or he won’t, and that’s 


170 


OLIVER TWIST, 


the same thing. Speak out, and call things by their right 
names ; don’t sit there, winking and blinking, and talking to 
me in hints, as if you warn’t the very first that thought about 
the robbery. Wot d’ye mean ? ” 

^^Hush, Bill, hush!” said the Jew, who had in vain 
attempted to stop this burst of indignation ; somebody will 
hear us, my dear. Somebody will hear us.” 

Let ’em hear ! ” said Sikes ; I don’t care.” But as Mr. 
Sikes did care, on reflection, he dropped his yoice as he said 
the words, and grew calmer. 

There, there,” said the Jew, coaxingly. ^^It was only my 
caution, nothing more. Now, my dear, about that crib at 
Chertsey ; when is it to be done. Bill, eh ? When is it to be 
done? Such plate, my dear, such plate!” said the Jew: 
rubbing his hands, and elevating his eyebrows in a rapture of 
anticipation. 

^^Not at all,” replied Sikes coldly. 

Not to be done at all ! ” echoed the Jew, leaning back in 
his chair. 

No, not at all,” rejoined Sikes, At least it can’t be a 
put-up job, as we expected.” 

^^Then it hasn’t been properly gone about,” said the Jew, 
turning pale with anger. “ Don’t tell me ! ” 

But I will tell you,” retorted Sikes. Who are you that’s 
not to be told? I tell you that Toby Crackit has been 
hanging about the place for a fortnight, and he can’t get 
one of the servants into a line.” 

Do you mean to tell me. Bill,” said the Jew : softening as 
the other grew heated : that neither of the two men in the 
house can be got over?” 

^^Yes, I do mean to tell you so,” replied Sikes. “The old 
lady has had ’em these twenty year ; a * i were to give 
’em five hundred pound, they wouldn’t ” 

“ But do you mean to say, my dear,” ’ated the Jew, 

“that the women can'’t be got over?” 

“ Not a bit of it,” replied Sikes. 


THE BUSINESS RESOLVED ON. 171 

“Not by flash Toby Crackit?” said the Jew incredulously, 
“Think what women are, Bill.” 

“ No ; not even by flash Toby Crackit,” replied Sikes. “ He 
says he‘'s worn sham whiskers, and a canary waistcoat, the 
whole blessed time he"s been loitering down there, and it’s all 
of no use.” 

“He should have tried mustachios and a pair of military 
trousers, my dear,” said the Jew. 

“So he did,” rejoined Sikes, “and they warn’t of no more 
use than the other plant.” 

The Jew looked blank at this information. After rumina- 
ting for some minutes with his chin sunk on his breast, he 
raised his head and said, with a deep sigh, that if flash Toby 
Crackit reported aright, he feared the game was up. 

“And yet,” said the old man, dropping his hands on his 
knees, “it’s a sad thing, my dear, to lose so much when we 
had set our hearts upon it. ’ 

“ So it is,” said Mr. Sikes. “ Worse luck ! ” 

A long silence ensued; during which the Jew was plunged 
in deep thought, with his face wrinkled into an expression of 
villany perfectly demoniacal. Sikes eyed him furtively from 
time to time. Nancy, apparently fearful of irritating the 
housebreaker, sat with her eyes fixed upon the fire, as if she 
had been deaf to all that passed. 

“Fagin,” said Sikes, abruptly breaking the stillness that 
prevailed ; “ is it worth fifty shiners extra, if it’s safely done 
from the outside ? ” 

“Yes,” said the Jew, as suddenly rousing himself. 

“Is it a bargain?” inquired Sikes. 

“Yes, my dear, yes,” rejoined the Jew; his eyes glistening, 
and every muscle in his face working, with the excitement 
that the inquiry had awakened. 

“Then,” said Sikes, thrusting aside the Jew’s hand, with 
some disdain, “ let it come off as soon as you like. Toby and 
me were over the garden-wall the night afore last, sounding 
the panels of the door and shutters. The crib’s baiTcd up 


172 OLIVER TWIST. 

at night like a jail ; but there‘*s one part we can crack, safe 
and softly.’’ 

‘‘ Which is that. Bill ? ” asked the Jew eagerly. 

Why,” whispered Sikes, ^^as you cross the lawn ” 

Yes?” said the Jew, bending his head forward, with his 
eyes almost starting out of it. 

Umph ! ” cried Sikes, stopping short, as the girl, scarcely 
moving her head, looked suddenly round, and pointed for an 
instant to the Jew’s face. Never mind which part it is. 
You can’t do it without me, I know; but it’s best to be on 
the safe side when one deals with you.” 

As you like, my dear, as you like,” replied the Jew. ^^Is 
there no help wanted, but yours and Toby’s ? ” 

“None,” said Sikes. “’Cept a centre-bit and a boy. The 
first we’ve both got ; the second you must find us.” 

“ A boy ! ” exclaimed the Jew. “ Oh ! then it’s 
eh?” ' 

“ Never mind wot it is ! ” replied Sikes. “ I want a boy, 
and he mustn’t be a big un. Lord ! ” said Mr. Sikes, reflec- 
tively, “ if Fd only got that young boy of Ned, the chimbley- 
sweeper’s ! He kept him small on purpose, and let him out 
by the job. But the father gets lagged ; and then the Juvenile 
Delinquent Society comes, and takes the boy away from a 
trade where he was arning money, teaches him to read and 
write, and in time makes a ’prentice of him. And so they 
go on,” said Mr. Sikes, his wrath rising with the recollection 
of his wrongs, “ so they go on ; and, if they’d got money 
enough (which it’s a Providence they haven’t,) we shouldn’t 
have half-a-dozen boys left in the whole trade, in a year or 
two.” 

“No more we should,” acquiesced the Jew, who had been 
considering during this speech, and had only caught the last 
sentence. “ Bill ! ” * 

“ What now ? ’’ inquired Sikes. 

The Jew nodded his head towards Nancy, who was still 
gazing at the fire; and intimated, by a sign, that he would 


a panel, 


FAGIN IS APPREHENSIVE. 


173 


have her told to leave the room. Sikes shrugged his shoulders 
impatiently, as if he thought the precaution unnecessary ; but 
complied, nevertheless, by requesting Miss Nancy to fetch 
him a jug of beer. 

“You don’t want any beer,” said Nancy, folding her arms, 
and retaining her seat very composedly. 

“ I tell you I do ! ” replied Sikes. 

“Nonsense,” rejoined the girl coolly. “Go on, Fagin. I 
know what he’s going to say. Bill ; he needn’t mind me.” 

The Jew still hesitated. Sikes looked from one to the 
other in some surprise. 

“ Why, you don’t mind the old girl, do you, Fagin ? ” he 
asked at length. “You’ve known her long enough to trust 
her, or the Devil’s in it. She ain’t one to blab. Are you, 
Nancy?” 

“ 1 should think not ! ” replied the young lady : drawing 
her chair up to the table, and putting her elbows upon it. 

“No, no, my dear, I know you’re not,” said the Jew; 
“ but ” and again the old man paused. 

“ But wot ? ” inquired Sikes. 

“I didn’t know whether she mightn’t p’r’aps be out of 
sorts, you know, my dear, as she was the other night,” re- 
plied the Jew. 

At this confession. Miss Nancy burst into a loud laugh ; 
and, swallowing a glass of brandy, shook her head Avith an 
air of defiance, and burst into sundry exclamations of “ Keep 
the game a-going ! ” “ Never say die ! ” and the like. These 

seemed to have the effect of re-assuring both gentlemen ; for 
the Jew nodded his head with a satisfied air, and resumed 
his seat: as did Mr. Sikes likewise. 

“Now, Fagin,” said Nancy with a laugh. “Tell Bill at 
once, about Oliver ! ” 

“ Ha ! you’re a clever one, my dear ; the sharpest girl 
I ever saw!” said the Jew, patting her on the neck. “It 
was about Oliver I was going to speak, sure enough. Ha! 
ha! ha!” 


174 


OLIVER TWIST. 


What about him ? ” demanded Sikes. 

the boy for you, my deaiV’ replied the Jew in a 
hoarse whisper ; laying his finger on the side of his nose, and 
grinning frightfully. 

‘‘He!’’ exclaimed Sikes. 

“ Have him. Bill ! ” said Nancy. “ I would, if I was in your 
place. He mayn’t be so much up, as any of the others ; but 
that’s not what you want, if he’s only to open a door for you. 
Depend upon it he’s a safe one. Bill.” 

“I know he is,” rejoined Fagin. “He’s been in good 
training these last few weeks, and iFs time he began to work 
for his bread. Besides, the others are all too big.” 

“Well, he is just the size I want,” said Mr. Sikes^ 
ruminating. 

“And will do everything you want. Bill, my dear,” inter- 
posed the Jew; “he can’t help himself. That is, if you 
frighten him enough.” 

“ Frighten him ! ” echoed Sikes. “ It’ll be no sham frighten- 
ing, mind you. If there’s anything queer about him when 
we once get into the work ; in for a penny, in for a pound. 
You won’t see him alive again, Fagin. Think of that, before 
you send him. Mark my words ! ” said the robber, poising 
a crowbar, which he had drawn from under the bedstead. 

“I’ve thought of it all,” said the Jew with energy. “I’ve 
— I’ve had my eye upon him, my dears, close — close. Once 
let him feel that he is one of us ; once fill his mind with the 
idea that he has been a thief ; and he’s ours ! Ours for his 
life. Oho ! It couldn’t have come about better ! ” The old 
man crossed his arms upon his breast ; and, drawing his head 
and shoulders into a heap, literally hugged himself for joy. 

“ Ours ! ” said Sikes. “ Yours, you mean.” 

“ Perhaps I do, my dear,” said the Jew, with a shrill chuckle. 
“ Mine, if you like, Bill.” 

“And wot,” said Sikes, scowling fiercely on his agreeable 
friend, “ wot makes you take so much pains about one chalk- 
faced kid, ivhen you know there are fifty boys snoozing about 


THE VERY BOY FOR THE PURPOSE. 175 

Common Garden every night, as you might pick and choose 
from ? 

‘^Because theyVe of no use to me, my dear,’’ replied the 
Jew, with some confusion, “not worth the taking. Their 
looks convict ’em when they get into trouble, and I lose ’em 
all. With this boy, properly managed, my dears, I could do 
what I couldn’t with twenty of them. Besides,” said the 
Jew, recovering his self-possession, “ he has us now if he could 
only give us leg-bail again ; and he must be in the same boat 
with us. Never mind how he came there ; it’s quite enough 
for my power over him that he was in a robbery ; that’s all 
I want. Now, how much better this is, than being obliged to 
put the poor leetle boy out of the way — which would be 
dangerous, and we should lose by it besides.” 

“When is it to be done?” asked Nancy, stopping some 
turbulent exclamation on the part of Mr. Sikes, expressive 
of the disgust with which he received Fagin’s affectation of 
humanity. 

“ Ah, to be sure,” said the Jew ; “ when is it to be done, 
Bill?” 

“I planned with Toby, the night arter to-morrow,” rejoined 
Sikes in a surly voice, “ if he heerd nothing from me to the 
contrairy.” 

“ Good,” said the Jew ; “ there’s no moon.” 

“No,” rejoined Sikes. 

“ It’s all arranged about bringing off* the swag, is it ? ” asked 
the Jew. 

Sikes nodded. 

“ And about — ” 

“Oh, ah, it’s all planned,” rejoined Sikes, interrupting him. 
“Never mind particulars. You’d better bring the boy here 
to-morrow night. I shall get off* the stones an hour arter 
daybreak. Then you hold your tongue, and keep the melting- 
pot ready, and that’s all you’ll have to do.” 

After some discussion, in which all three took an active part, 
it was decided that Nancy should repair to the Jew’s next 


176 


OLIVER TWIST. 


evening when the night had set in, and bring Olive /ay 
with her ; Fagin craftily observing, that, if he evinced . dis- 
inclination to the task, he would be more willing to accompany 
the girl who had so recently interfered in his behalf, than 
anybody else. It was also solemnly arranged that poor Oliver 
should, for the purposes of the contemplated expedition, be 
unreservedly consigned to the care and custody of Mr. William 
Sikes ; and further, that the said Sikes should deal with him 
as he thought fit ; and should not be held responsible by the 
Jew for any mischance or evil that might befall him, or any 
punishment with which it might be necessary to visit him: 
it being understood that, to render the compact in this 
respect binding, ^ny representations made by Mr. Sikes on his 
return should be required to be confirmed and corroborated, 
in all important particulars, by the testimony of flash Toby 
Crackit. 

These preliminaries adjusted, Mr. Sikes proceeded to drink 
brandy at a furious rate, and to flourish the crowbar in an 
alarming manner; yelling forth, at the same time, most 
unmusical snatches of song, mingled with wild execrations. 
At length, in a fit of professional enthusiasm, he insisted 
upon producing his box of housebreaking tools: which he 
had no sooner stumbled in with, and opened for the purpose 
of explaining the nature and properties of the various im- 
plements it contained, and the peculiar beauties of their 
construction, than he fell over the box upon the floor, and 
went to sleep where he fell. 

Good night, Nancy said the Jew, muffling himself up as 
before. 

‘‘Good night.*” 

Their eyes met, and the Jew scrutinised her, narrowly. There 
was no flinching about the girl. She was as true and earnest 
in the matter as Toby Crackit himself could be. 

The Jew again bade her good night, and, bestowing a sly 
kick upon the prostrate form of Mr. Sikes while her back 
was turned, groped down stairs. 


PLEASANT REFLECTIONS. 


Always the way ! muttered the Jew to himself as he 
turned homeward. “The worst of these women is, that a 
very little thing serves to call up some long-forgotten feeling ; 
and the best of them is, that it never lasts. Ha ! ha ! The 
man against the child, for a bag of gold ! 

Beguiling the time with these pleasant reflections, Mr. Fagin 
wended his way, through mud and mire, to his gloomy abode : 
where the Dodger was sitting up, impatiently awaiting his 
return. 

“ Is Oliver a-bed ? I want to speak to him,*'’ was his first 
remark as they descended the stairs. 

“ Hours ago,"*’ replied the Dodger, throwing open a door. 
“ Here he is ! 

The boy was lying, fast asleep, on a rude bed upon the 
floor; so pale with anxiety, and sadness, and the closeness of 
his prison, that he looked like death ; not death as it shows 
in shroud and coffin, but in the guise it Avears Avhen life has 
just departed; when a young and gentle spirit has, but an 
instant, fled to Heaven, and the gross air of the world has 
not had time to breathe upon the changing dust it hallowed. 

“Not now,’’ said the /Jew, turning softly aAvay. “To- 
morrow. To-morrow.” / 


'^TER XX. 


WHEREIN OLIVEl ’ : ED OVER TO MR. WILLIAM SIKES. 

When Oliver awi 'i'. morning, he was a good deal 

surprised to find tl . . air of shoes, with strong thick 

soles, had been plac 'dside; and that his old shoes 

had been removed. A . as pleased with the discovery : 

hoping that it might ''ernnner of his release; but 

such thoughts were qu on his sitting down to 

breakfast along with the J . . ' 'd him, in a tone and 

manner which increased his ' t he was to be taken 

to the residence of Bill Sikes . ? 

“To — to — stop there, sir?^’ . ' '' r, anxiously. 

“No, no, my dear. Not to I replied the Jew. 

“We shouldn’t like to lose you. ' fraid, Oliver, you 

shall come back to us again. Ha We won’t be so 

cruel as to send you away, my dea. no!” 

The old man, who was stooping i fire toasting a 

piece of bread, looked round as he bi ; er thus; and 

chuckled as if to show that he knew : . still be very 

glad to get away if he could. 

“I suppose,” said the Jew, fixing his ; C‘‘wer, “you 

want to know what you’re going to Bill’s * v dear.^” 

Oliver coloured, involuntarily, to find thi. > Hief had 

been reading his thoughts; but boldly said, i want 

to know. 

“ Why, do you think ? ” inquired Fagin, p arry ing fhe 
question. 


LENT It 

^^Indee don't know, sir, 

‘^Bah!' id the Jew, turn, 

countenan rom a close perusal 

till Bill te you, then." 

The Jew seemed much vexed 
greater curiosity on the sr 
although Oliver felt very a 
by the earnest cunning of ' 
tions, to make any furtt 
other opportunity : for ^ 
till night : when he pr 
You may burn a 
the table. And b 

to fetch you. Go'^ 

Good night ! 

The Jew wab 
the boy as he^ 
his name. 

Oliver loo^ 
him to ligt 
upon the 
with lov 
the roo^ 

‘^Te 
his / 
rou/ 
up. 
yoj 
he 
\gi 


il 


WIST. 


and after meditating for a long 
xd been selected to perform some 
jr the housebreaker, until another 
':)urpose, could be engaged. He was 
'^ering, and had suffered too much 
rospect of change very severely, 
some minutes ; and then, with 
^e, and, taking up the book 
began to read. 

'^ssly at first ; but, lighting 
ention, he soon became 
nstory of the lives and 
"'.re soiled and thumbed 
rimes that made the 
d b^en committed 
1 the eye of man 
eep them down, 
p at last, after 
dth the sight, 
and yelled 
he read of 
had been 
thoughts, 
^ep, and 
’ptions 
I to 
ided 
by 


' it 

n 


NANCY’S BEri'ER F| 


up for a poor outcast boy who hac 
friends or kindred, it might come 
and deserted, he stood alone in 


\ ' 

lELINGS. 


181 


guilt. 


never known the love of 
b him now, when, desolate 
midst of wickedness and 


me 


prm 


^r, but still remained with his 
len a rustling noise aroused him. 
fed, starting up, and catching sight 


He had concluded his 
head buried in his hands, 

« What’s that!” he 
of a figure standing 

“Me. Only me,”^®^the door. “Who’s there?” 

Oliver raised the^^^eplied a tremulous voice, 
the door. It waj^^andle above his head : and looked towards 
“ Put down Nancy. 

“ It hurts my ^Rie light,” said the girl, turning away her head. 
Oliver sa\^™eyes.” 

she were ill^P that she was very pale, and gently inquired if 
back towaii® The girl threw herself into a chair, with her 
^s him : and wrung her hands ; but made no reply. 
Torgive me 1 ” she cried after a while, “ I never 


“ God 
thought 


“H| 

|Hof this.” 

you.? 1 

W anything happened? 

Sh J 

K will if I can. I will. 

utteriB 

frocked herself to and 




il 


isked Oliver. “Can I help 
leed.” 

3; caught her throat; and, 
g a gurgling sound, gasped for breath, 
ancy ! ” cried Oliver, “ What is it ? ” 
girl beat her hands upon her knees, and her feet upon 
roin»ground; and, suddenly stopping, drew her shawl close 
id her: and shivered with cold. 

Hiver stirred the fire. Drawing her chair close to it, she 
there, for a little time, without speaking; but at length 
e raised her head, and looked round. 

“I don’t know what comes over me sometimes,” said she, 
Effecting to busy herself in arranging her dress ; “ it’s this 
damp dirty room, I think. Now, Nolly, dear, are you 
ready ? ” 

“Am I to go with you?” asked Oliver. 

“ Yes. I have come from Bill,” replied the girl. “ You 
\re to go with me.” 






182 


[AVER TWIST. 
iJliver, recoiling. 

girl, raising her eyes, and averting 
they encountered the boy s face. 


Oliver; who had watched her 
the girl, affecting to 


ower over the giiTs 
of appealing to 
en, the thought 
n o'clock ; and 
whom surely 
ale. As the 
and said. 


s lost on 
ke; and 
howed 



“What for asked 
“ What for ? " echoed tl 
them again, the moment 
“ Oh ! For no harm." 

“I don't believe it," said 
closely. 

“Have it your own way," 
laugh. “For no good, then." 

Oliver could see that he had some 
better feelings, and, for an instant, thou 
her compassion for his helpless state. But, 
darted across his mind that it was barely 
that many people were still in the streets : 
some might be found to give credence to his 
reflection occurred to him, he stepped forwari 
somewhat hastily, that he was ready 

Neither his brief consideration, nor its purport 
his companion. She eyed him narrowly, while he 
cast upon him a look of intelligence which sufficient! 
that she guessed what had been passing in his thoug 
“ Hush ! " said the girl, stooping over him, and 
the door as she looked cautiously round. “You can 
yourself. I have tried hard for you, but all to no p 
You are hedged round and round. If ever you are to ge 
from here, this is not the time." 

Struck by the energy of her manner, Oliver looked 
her face with great surprise. She seemed to speak the 
her countenance was white and agitated; and she tremb 
with very earnestness. 

“ I have saved you from being ill-used once, and I will agaJ 
and I do now," continued the girl aloud ; “ for those who wouJ 
have fetched you, if I had not, would have been far more 
than me. I have pronjised for your being quiet and silent ; i 
you are not, you will only do harm to yourself and me too, and 
perhaps be my death. See here ! I have borne all this for you^ 
already, as true as God sees me ,show it." 


ing to 


SILENT, FOR THE GUILDS SAKE. 183 

iShe pointed, hastily, to some livid braises on her neck and 
arms ; and continued, with great rapidity : 

Remember this! And don'^t let me suffer more for you, 
just now. If I could help you, I would ; but I have not the 
power. They don't mean to harm you ; whatever they make 
you do, is no fault of yours. Hush ! Every word from you 
is a blow for me. Give me your hand. Make haste ! Your 
hand ! " 

She caught the hand which Oliver instinctively placed in 
hers, and, blowing out the light, drew him after her up the 
stairs. The door was opened, quickly, by some one shrouded 
in the darkness, and was as quickly closed, when they had 
passed out. A hackney-cabriolet was in waiting; with the 
same vehemence which she had exhibited in addressing Oliver, 
the girl pulled him in with her, and drew the curtains close. 
The driver wanted no directions, but lashed his horse into 
full speed, without the delay of an instant. 

The girl still held Oliver fast by the hand, and continued 
to pour into his ear, the warnings and assurances she had already 
imparted. All was so quick and hurried, that he had scarcely 
time to recollect where he was, or how he came there, when 
the carriage stopped at the house to which the Jew's steps 
had been directed on the previous evening. 

For one brief moment, Oliver cast a hurried glance along 
the empty street, and a cry for help hung upon his lips. But 
the girl's voice was in his ear, beseeching him in such tones 
of agony to remember her, that he had not the heart to 
utter it. While he hesitated, the opportunity was gone ; he 
was already in the house, and the door was shut. 

‘^This way," said the girl, releasing her hold for the first 
time. «Bill!" 

Hallo ! " replied Sikes : appearing at the head of the 
stairs, with a candle. "^^Oh! That's the time of day. 
Come on ! " 

This was a very strong expression of approbation, an 
uncommonly hearty welcome, from a person of jMr. Sikes's 


184 OLIVER TWIST. 

temperament. Nancy, appearing much gratified thereby, 
saluted him cordially. i 

“BulPs-eye’s gone home with Tom,'**' observed Sikes, as he 
lighted them up. ‘‘He’d have been in the way.” 

“That’s right,” rejoined Nancy. 

“So you’ve got the kid,” said Sikes, when they had all 
reached the room : closing the door as he spoke. 

“ Yes, here he is,” replied Nancy. 

“ Did he come quiet ? ” inquired Sikes. 

“Like a lamb,” rejoined Nancy. 

“ I’m glad to hear it,” said Sikes, looking grimly at Oliver ; 
“ for the sake of his young carcase : as would otherways have 
suffered for it. Come here, young un ; and let me read you a 
lectur’, which is as well got over at once.” 

Thus addressing his new pupil, Mr. Sikes pulled off Oliver’s 
cap and threw it into a corner ; and then, taking him by the 
shoulder, sat himself down by the table, and stood the boy 
in front of him. 

“Now, first: do you know wot this is.^” inquired Sikes, 
taking up a pocket-pistol which lay on the table. 

Oliver replied in the affirmative. 

' “ Well, then, look here,” continued Sikes. “ This is powder ; 
that ’ere’s a bullet; and this is a little bit of a old hat for 
waddin’.” 

Oliver murmured his comprehension of the different bodies 
referred to ; and Mr. Sikes proceeded to load the pistol, with 
great nicety and deliberation. 

“ Now it’s loaded,” said Mr. Sikes, when he had finished. 

“Yes, I see it is, sir,” replied Oliver. 

“ Well,” said the robber, grasping Oliver’s wrist, and putting 
the barrel so close to his temple that they touched ; at which 
moment the boy could not repress a start ; “ if you speak a 
word when you’re out o’ doors with me, except when I speak 
to you, that loading will be in your head without notice. 
So, if you do make up your mind to speak without leave, 
say your prayers first,” 


EXPLANATIONS. 


185 


Having bestowed a scowl upon the object of this warning, 
to increase its effect, Mr. Sikes continued. 

As near as I know, there isn’t anybody as would be asking 
very partickler arter you, if you was disposed of ; so I needn’t 
take this devil-and-all of trouble to explain matters to you, 
if it warn’t for your own good. D’ye hear me ? ” 

The short and the long of what you mean,” said Nancy : 
speaking very emphatically, and slightly frowning at Oliver as 
if to bespeak his serious attention to her words : “ is, that if 
you’re crossed by him in this job you have on hand, you’ll 
prevent his ever telling tales afterwards, by shooting him 
through the head, and will take your chance of swinging for 
it, as you do for a great many other things in the way of 
business, every month of your life.” 

“ That’s it ! ” observed Mr. Sikes, approvingly ; women 
can always put things in fewest words. — Except when it’s 
blowing up;! and then they lengthens it out. And now that 
he’s thoroughly up to it, let’s have some supper, and get a 
snooze before starting.” 

In pursuance of this request, Nancy quickly laid the cloth ; 
disappearing for a few minutes, she presently returned with 
a pot of porter and a dish of sheep’s heads : which gave 
occasion to several pleasant witticisms on the part of Mr. Sikes, 
founded upon the singular coincidence of ‘‘jemmies” being a 
cant name, common to them, and also to an ingeniou? im- 
plement much used in his profession. Indeed, the worthy 
gentleman, stimulated perhaps by the immediate prospect of 
being on active service, was in great spirits and good humour ; 
in proof whereof, it may be here remarked, that he humorously 
drank all the beer at a draught, and did not utter, on a rough 
calculation, more than four-score oaths during the whole 
progress of the meal. 

Supper being ended — it may be easily conceived that Oliver 
had no great appetite for it — Mr. Sikes disposed of a couple 
of glasses of spirits and water, and threw Limself on the bed ; 
ordering Nancy, with many imprecations in case of failure, 


186 


OLIVER TWIST. 


to call him at five precisely. Oliver stretched himself in his 
clothes, by command of the same authority, on a mattress 
upon the floor; and the girl, mending the fire, sat before it, 
in readiness to rouse them at the appointed time. 

For a long time Oliver lay awake, thinking it not impossible 
that Nancy might seek that opportunitv of whispering some 
further advice ; but the girl sat brooding 
moving, save now and then to trim the 
watching and anxiety, he at length fell a, 

When he awoke, the tabld^was covered a 
S ikes was thrusting various articles into 
great-coat, which hung over the back of a 
busily engaged in preparing breakfast. It 
light ; for the candle was still burning, and 
outside. A sharp rain, too, was beating agi 
panes ; and the sky looked black and cloudj 
Now, then ! ’’ growled Sikes, as Oliver ste 
past fiye! Look sharp, or you’ll get no bn 
late as it is.” 

Oliver was not long in making his toilet, 
some breakfast, he replied to a surly inquiry 
saying that he was quite ready. 

Nancy, scarcely looking at the boy, threw hi 
chief to tie round his throat; Sikes gave him • 
cape to button over his shoulders. Thus attired 
hand to the robber, who, merely pausing to show 
menacing gesture that he had that same pistol in 6 
of his great-coat, clasped it firmly in his, and, ei 
farewell with Nancy, led him away. 

Oliver turned, for an instant, when they reachet 
in the hope of meeting a look from the girl. Bu 
resumed her old seat in front of the fire, and sat, 
motionless before it. 


fire, without 
Weary with 

':hings, and 
ets of his 
S^ancy was 
yet day- 
lite dark 
window- 

‘^half. 
for it’s 

taken 
es, by 


dker- 

:)Ugh 

' his 
h a 
ket 
^ a 

d 


CHAPTER XXI. 


THE EXPEDITION. 

It was a cheerless morning when they got into the street ; 
blowing and raining hard; and the clouds looking dull and 
stormy. The night had been very wet : large pools of water 
had collected in the road : and the kennels were overflowing. 
There was a faint glimmering of the coming day in the sky ; 
but it rather aggravated than relieved the gloom of the scene : 
the sombre light only serving to pale that which the street 
lamps afforded, without shedding any warmer or brighter 
tints upon the wet housetops, and dreary streets. There 
appeared to be nobody stirring in that quarter of the town ; 
the windows of the houses were all closely shut; and the 
streets through which they passed, were noiseless and empty. 

By the time they had turned into the Bethnal Green Road, 
the day had fairly begun to break. Many of the lamps were 
already extinguished; a few country waggons were slowly 
toiling on, towards London ; now and then, a stage-coach, 
covered with mud, rattled briskly by : the driver bestowing, 
as he passed, an admonitory lash upon the heavy waggoner 
who, by keeping on the WTong side of the road, had endangered 
his arriving at the office a quarter of a minute after his time. 
The public-houses, with gas-lights burning inside, were already 
open. By degrees, other shops began to be unclosed, and a 
few scattered people were met with. Then, came straggling 
groups of labourers going to their work ; then, men and women 


OLIVER TWIST. 


188 

with fish-baskets on their heads; donkey-carts laden with 
vegetables ; chaise-carts filled with live-stock or whole carcasses 
of meat ; milk-women with pails ; an unbroken concourse of 
people, trudging out with various supplies to the eastern 
suburbs of the town. As they approached the City, the 
noise and traffic gradually increased ; when they threaded the 
streets between Shoreditch and Smithfield, it had swelled into 
a roar of sound and bustle. It was as light as it was likely 
to be, till night came on again, and the busy morning of half 
the London population had begun. 

Turning down Sun Street and Crown Street, and crossing 
Finsbury Square, Mr. Sikes struck, by way of Chiswell Street, 
into Barbican : thence into Long Lane, and so into Smithfield ; 
from which latter place arose a tumult of discordant sounds 
that filled Oliver Twist with amazement. 

It was market-morning. The ground was covered, nearly 
ankle-deep, with filth and mire; a thick steam, perpetually 
rising from the reeking bodies of the cattle, and mingling 
with the fog, which seemed to rest upon the chimney-tops, hung 
heavily above. All the pens in the centre of the large area, 
and as many temporary pens as could be crowded into the 
vacant space, were filled with sheep ; tied up to posts by the 
gutter side were long lines of beasts and oxen, three or four 
deep. Countrymen, butchers, drovers, hawkers, boys, thieves, 
idlers, and vagabonds of every low grade, were mingled toge- 
ther in a mass ; the whistling of drovers, the barking of dogs, 
the bellowing and plunging of oxen, the bleating of sheep, the 
grunting and squeaking of pigs, the cries of hawkers, the 
shouts, oaths, and quarrelling on all sides; the ringing of 
bells and roar of voices, that issued from every public-house; 
the crowding, pushing, driving, beating, whooping, and yelling ; 
the hideous and discordant din that resounded from every 
corner of the market; and the unwashed, unshaven, squalid, 
and dirty figures constantly running to and fro, and burst- 
ing in and out of the throng; rendered it a stunning and 
bewildering scene, which quite confounded the senses. 


ON THE ROAD OUT OF TOWN. 


189 


Mr. Sikes, dragging Oliver after him, elbowed his way 
through the thickest of the crowd, and bestowed very little 
attention on the numerous sights and sounds, which so 
astonished the boy. He nodded, twice or thrice, to a passing 
friend ; and, resisting as many invitations to take a morning 
dram, pressed steadily onward, until they were clear of the 
turmoil, and had made their way through Hosier Lane into 
Holborn. 

Now, young un ! ’’’ said Sikes, looking up at the clock of 
St. Andrew's Church, “ hard upon seven ! you must step out. 
Come, don't lag behind already, Lazylegs ! " 

Mr. Sikes accompanied this speech with a jerk at his little 
companion's wrist ; Oliver, quickening his pace into a kind of 
trot, between a fast walk and a run, kept up with the rapid 
strides of the housebreaker as well as he could. 

They held their course at this rate, until they had passed 
Hyde Park corner, and were on their way to Kensington : 
when Sikes relaxed his pace, until an empty cart which was 
at some little distance behind, came up. Seeing “ Hounslow " 
written on it, he asked the driver with as much civility as he 
could assume, if he would give them a lift as far as Isleworth. 

“Jump up," said the man. “Is that your boy?" 

“ Yes ; he's my boy," replied Sikes, looking hard at Oliver, 
and putting his hand abstractedly into the pocket where 
the pistol was. 

“ Your father walks rather too quick for you, don't he, my 
man ? " inquired the driver : seeing that Oliver was out of 
breath. 

“Not a bit of it," replied Sikes, interposing. “He's used 
to it. Here, take hold of my hand, Ned. In with you ! " 

Thus addressing Oliver, he helped him into the cart ; and 
the driver, pointing to a heap of sacks, told him to lie down 
there, and rest himself. 

As they passed the different mile-stones, Oliver wondered, 
more and more, where his companion meant to take him. 
Kensington, Hammersmith, Chiswick, Kew Bridge, Brentford, 


190 


OLIVER TWIST, 


were all passed ; and yet they went on as steadily 
had only just begun their journey. At length, 1 
to a public-house called the Coach and Horses : a ^ 
beyond which, another road appeared to turn < 
here, the cart stopped. 

Sikes dismounted with great precipitation, holdir. 
by the hand all the while; and lifting him down 
bestowed a furious look upon him, and rapped the sic 
with his fist, in a significant manner. 

‘‘ Good-bye, boy,"’ said the man. 

He’s sulky,” replied Sikes, giving him a shake “ he’s 
sulky. A young dog ! Don’t mind him.” 

^^Not I!” rejoined the other, getting into his cart. “It’s 
a fine day, after all.” And he drove away. 

Sikes waited until he had fairly gone ; and then, telling 
Oliver he might look about him if he wanted, once again led 
him onward on his journey. 

They turned round to the left, a short way past the public- 
house ; and then, taking a right-hand road, walked on for a 
long time ; passing many large gardens and gentlemen’s houses 
on both sides of the way, and stopping for nothing but a 
little beer, until they reached a town. Here against the wall 
of a house, Oliver saw written up in pretty large letters, 
“Hampton.” They lingered about, in the fields, for some 
hours. At length, they came back into the town ; and, 
turning into an old public-house with a defaced sign-board, 
ordered some dinner by the kitchen fire. 

The kitchen was an old, low-roofed room ; with a great 
beam across the middle of the ceiling, and benches, with 
high backs to them, by the fire ; on which were seated several 
rough men in smock-frocks, drinking and smoking. They 
took no notice of Oliver ; and very little of Sikes ; and, as 
Sikes took very little notice of them, he and his young comrade 
sat in a corner by themselves, without being much troubled 
by their company. 

They had some cold meat for dinner, and sat so long after 


they 
came 
: way 
And 


)liver 

ectly, 

ocket 


A IJFT ON THE ROAD. 


191 


it, while Mr. Sikes i adulged himself wdth three or four pipes, 
that Oliver began i;o feel quite certain they were not going 
any further. Being much tired with the walk, and getting 
up so early, he dosed a little at first ; then, quite overpowered 
by fatigue and the fuimes of the tobacco, fell asleep. 

It was quite dark Avhen he was awakened by a push from 
Sikes. Rousing himself sufficiently to sit up and look about 
him, he found that worthy in close fellowship and communi- 
cation with a labouring man, over a pint of ale. 

So, youVe going on to Lower Halliford, are you ? inquired 
Sikes. 

^^Yes, I am,” replied the man, who seemed a little the 
worse — or better, as the case might be — for drinking; ‘^and 
not slow about it neither. My horse hasn’t got a load behind 
him going back, as he had coming up in the mornin’; and 
he won’t be long a-doing of it. Here’s luck to him ! Ecod [ 
he’s a good un ! ” 

Could you give my boy and me a lift as far as there ? ” 
demanded Sikes, pushing the ale towards his new friend. 

^^If you’re going directly, I can,” replied the man, looking 
out of the pot. Are you going to Halliford ? ” 

Going on to Shepperton,” replied Sikes. 

I’m your man, as far as I go,” replied the other. “ Is all 
paid, Becky 

Yes, the other gentleman’s paid,” replied the girl. 

I say ! ” said the man, with tipsy gravity ; that won’t 
do, you know.” 

^<Why not.^” rejoined Sikes. You’re a-going to accom- 
modate us, and wot’s to prevent my standing treat for a pint 
or so, in return ? ” 

The stranger reflected upon this argument, with a very 
)found face ; having done so, he seized Sikes by the hand 
1 declared he was a real good fellow. To which Mr. Sikes 
3 lied, he was joking ; as, if he had been sober, there would 
ve been strong reason to suppose he was. 

After the exchange of a few more compliments, they bade 


192 


OLIVER TWIST 


the company good night, and went oi he girl gatherin 
up the pots and glasses as they did s( [ lounging out tv 
the door, with her hands full, to see th ty start. 

The horse, whose health had been dm i his absence, was 
standing outside : ready harnessed to ' cart. Oliver and 
Sikes got in without any further cere y ; and the man to 

whom he belonged, having lingered f minute or two to 

bear him up,^’ and to defy the hostler a ne world to produce 
his equal, mounted also. Then, thf ,tler was told to give 
the horse his head ; and, his head g given him, he made 

a very unpleasant use of it : tossinj> nto the air with great 

disdain, and running into the par) windows over the way ; 
after performing those feats, ar - jpporting himself for a 
short time on his hind-legs, ^ _ xted off at great speed, 

and rattled out of the town gallantly. 

The night was very dp jl damp mist rose from the 
river, and the marshy ^ . about ; and spread itself over 

the dreary fields. It piercing cold, too ; all was gloomy 
and black. Not a woru vas spoken ; for the driver had grown 
sleepy; and Sikes was in no mood to lead him into conver- 
sation. Oliver sat huddled together, in a corner of the cart; 
bewildered with alarm and apprehension ; and figuring strange 
objects in the gaunt trees, whose branches waved grimly to and 
fro, as if in some fantastic joy at the desolation of the scene. 

As they passed Sunbury Church, the clock struck seven. 
There was a light in the ferry-house window opposite : which 
streamed across the road, and threw into more sombre shadow 
a dark yew-tree with graves beneath it. There was a dull 
sound of falling water not far off ; and the leaves of the old 
tree stirred gently in the night wind. It seemed like quiet 
music for the repose of the dead. 

Sunbury was passed through, and they came again into the 
lonely road. Two or three miles more, and the cart stopped. 
Sikes alighted, took Oliver by the hand, and they once again 
walked on. 

They turned into no house at Shepp^rton, as the weary 


AT THE FOOT OF CHERTSEY BRIDGE. 193 


bov had expected; but still kept walking on, in mud and 
darkness, through gloomy lanes and over cold open wastes, 
until they came within sight of the lights of a town at no 
great distance. On looking intently forward, Oliver saw that 
the water was just below them, and that they were coming 
to the foot of a bridge. 

Sikes kept straight on, until they were close upon the 
bridge ; then turned suddenly down a bank upon the left. 

The water ! ’’ thought Oliver, turning sick with fear. 

He has brought me to this lonely place to murder me ! 

He was about to throw himself on the ground, and make 
one struggle for his young life, when he saw that they stood 
before a solitary house : all ruinous and decayed. There was 
a window on each side of the dilapidated entrance ; and one 
story above ; but no light was visible. The house was dark, 
dismantled : and, to all appearance, uninhabited. 

Sikes, with Olivers hand still in his, softly approached the 
low porch, and raised the latch. The door yielded to the 
pressure, and they passed in together. 


0 


CHAPTER XXII. 


THE BURGLARY. 

Hallo ! cried a loud, hoarse voice, as soon as they set 
foot in the passage. 

Don't make such a row," said Sykes, bolting the door. 

Show a glim, Toby." 

Aha ! my pal ! " cried the same voice. “ A glim, Barney, 
a glim ! Show the gentleman in, Barney ; wake up first, if 
convenient. 

The speaker appeared to throw a boot-jack, or some such 
article, at the person he addressed, to rouse him from his 
slumbers: for the noise of a wooden body, falling violently, 
was heard; and then an indistinct muttering, as of a man 
between asleep and awake. 

Do you hear ? " cried the same voice. “ There's Bill Sikes 
in the passage with nobody to do the civil to him ; and you 
sleeping there, as if you took laudanum with your meals, and 
nothing stronger. Are you any fresher now, or do you w^ant 
the iron candlestick to wake you thoroughly ? " 

A pair of slipshod feet shuffled, hastily, across the bare 
floor of the room, as this interrogatory was put; and there 
issued, from a door on the right hand : first, a feeble candle : 
and next, the form of the same individual who has been 
heretofore described as labouring under the infirmity of 
speaking through his nose, and officiating as waiter at the 
public-house on Saffron Hill. 


AT MR. TOBY CRACKIT^. 195 

Bister Sikes!'’ exclaimed Barney, with real or counterfeit 
joy ; cub id, sir ; cub id." 

Here ! you get on first," said Sikes, putting Oliver in 
front of him. Quicker ! or I shall ti'ead upon your 
heels." 

Muttering a curse upon his tardiness, Sikes pushed Oliver 
before him ; and they entered a low dark room with a smoky 
fire, two or three broken chairs, a table, and a very old couch : 
on which, with his legs much higher than his head, a man 
was reposing at full length, smoking a long clay pipe. He 
was, dressed in a smartly-cut snufF-coloured coat, with large 
brass buttons ; an orange neckerchief ; a coarse, staring, shawl- 
pattern waistcoat ; and drab breeches. Mr. Crackit (for he 
it was) had no very great quantity of hair, either upon his 
head or face ; but what he had, was of a reddish dye, and 
tortured into long corkscrew curls, through which he occasionally 
thi’ust some very dirty fingers, ornamented with large common 
rings. He was a trifle above the middle size, and apparently 
rather weak in the legs ; but this circumstance by no means 
detracted from his own admiration of his top-boots, which he 
contemplated, in their elevated situation, with lively satisfac- 
tion. 

Bill, my boy ! " said this figure, turning his head towards 
the door, glad to see you. I was almost afraid you'd 

given it up : in which case I should have made a personal 
wentur. Hallo ! " 

Uttering this exclamation in a tone of great surprise, as his 
eye rested on Oliver, Mr. Toby Crackit brought himself into 
a sitting posture, and demanded who that was. 

The boy. Only the boy ! " replied Sikes, drawing a chair 
towards the fire. 

‘^Wud of Bister Fagin's lads," exclaimed Barney, with 
a grin. 

Fagin's, eh 1 " exclaimed Toby, looking at Oliver. Wot 
an inwalable boy that'll make, for the old ladies' pockets in 
chapels ! His mug is a fc n' to him." 


196 


OLIVER TWIST. 


‘‘There — there'^s enough of that,’’ interposed Sikes, im- 
patiently ; and stooping over his recumbent friend, he whis- 
pered a few words in his ear: at which Mr. Crackit laughed 
immensely, and honoured Oliver with a long stare of 
astonishment. 

“ Now,*'*’ said Sikes, as he resumed his seat, “ if you**!! give 
us something to eat and drink while weVe waiting, you*"!! put 
some heart in us ; or in me, at all events. Sit down by the 
fire, younker, and rest yourself; for you'll have to go out 
with us again to-night, though not very far off." 

Oliver looked at Sikes, in mute and timid wonder; and 
drawing a stool to the fire, sat with his aching head upon 
his hands, scarcely knowing where he was, or what was passing 
around him. 

“ Here,**’ said Toby, as the young Jew placed some fragments 
of food, and a bottle upon the table, “ Success to the crack ! " 
He rose to honour the toast ; and, carefully depositing his 
empty pipe in a corner, advanced to the table, filled a glass 
with spirits, ^ and drank oft* its contents. Mr. Sikes did the 
same. 

“ A drain for the boy," said Toby, half-filling a wine glass. 
“Down with it, innocence." 

“ Indeed," said Oliver, looking piteously up into the man's 
face ; “ indeed, I " 

“ Down with it ! " echoed Toby. “ Do you think I don't 
know what's good for you ? Tell him to drink it. Bill." 

“ He had better ! " said Sikes, clapping his hand upon his 


pocket. “ Burn my body, if he isn't more trouble tl le 

family of Dodgers. Drink it, you perwerse imp ; di 

Frightened by the menacing gestures of the two r er 

hastily swallowed the contents of the glass, and ii ly 

fell into a violent fit of coughing: which delig] 3y 

Crackit and Barney, and even drew a smile fron ly 

Mr. Sikes. 

This done, and Sikes having satisfied his appe er 

could eat nothing but a small crust of bread which de 


PREPARATIONS FOR DEPARTURE. 


191 


him swallow), the two men laid themselves down on chairs 
for a short nap. Oliver retained his stool by the fire ; Barney, 
wrapped in a blanket, stretched himself on the floor: close 
outside the fender. 

They slept, or appeared to sleep, for some time; nobody 
stirring but Barney, who rose once or twice to throw coals 
upon the fire. Oliver fell into a heavy doze : imagining him- 
self straying along the gloomy lanes, or wandering about 
the dark churchyard, or retracing some one or other of the 
scenes of the past day : when he was roused by Toby Crackit 
jumping up and declaring it was half-past one. 

In an instant, the other two were on their legs, and all were 
actively engaged in busy preparation. Sikes and his com- 
panion enveloped their necks and chins in large dark shawls, 
and drew on their great-coats ; Barney, opening a cupboard, 
brought forth several articles, which he hastily crammed into 
the pockets. 

‘‘Barkers for me, Barney,” said Toby Crackit. 

“ Here they are,” replied Barney, producing a pair of pistols. 
“ You loaded them yourself.” 

“ All right ! ” replied Toby, stowing them away. “ The 
persuaders ? ” 

“ Pve got ’em,” replied Sikes. 

“ Crape, keys, centre-bits, darkies — nothing forgotten ? ” 
inquired Toby : fastening a small crowbar to a loop inside 
the skirt of his coat. 

“All right,” rejoined his companion. “Bring them bits 
of timber, Barney. That’s the time of day.” 

With these words, he took a thick stick from Barney’s 
hands, who, having delivered another to Toby, busied himself 
in fastening on Oliver’s cape. 

“ Now then ! ” said Sikes, holding out his hand. 

Oliver: who was completely st^’pefied by the unwonted 
exercise, and the air, and the drink which had been forced 
upon him : put his hand mechanically into that which Sikes 
extended for the purpose. 


198 


OLIVER TWIST. 


‘^Take his other hand, Toby,*” said Sikes. ^^Look out, 
Barney.'” 

The man went to the door, and returned to announce that 
all was quiet. The two robbers issued forth with Oliver between 
them. Barney, having made all fast, rolled himself up as 
before, and was soon asleep again. 

It was now intensely dark. The fog was much heavier than 
it had been in the early part of the night ; and the atmo- 
sphere was so damp, that, although no rain fell, Oliver’s hair 
and eyebrows, within a few minutes after leaving the house, 
had become stiff with the half-frozen moisture that was floating 
about. They crossed the bridge, and kept on towards the 
lights which he had seen before. They were at no great 
distance off; and, as they walked pretty briskly, they soon 
arrived at Chertsey. 

^^Slap through the town,” whispered Sikes; there’ll be 
nobody in the way, to-night, to see us.” 

Toby acquiesced ; and they hurried through the main street 
of the little town, which at that late hour was wholly deserted. 
A dim light shone at intervals from some bed-room window ; 
and the hoarse barking of dogs occasionally broke the silence 
of the night. But there was nobody abroad. They had 
cleared the town, as the church-bell struck two. 

Quickening their pace, they turned up a road upon the 
left hand. After walking about a quarter of a mile, they 
stopped before a detached house surrounded by a wall : to 
the top of which, Toby Crackit, scarcely pausing to take 
breath, climbed in a twinkling. 

The boy next,” said Toby. Hoist him up ; I’ll catch 
hold of him.” 

Before Oliver had time to look round, Sikes had caught 
him under the arms ; and in three or four seconds he and 
Toby were lying on the grass on the other side. Sikes 
followed directly. And they stole cautiously towards the 
house. 

And now, for the first time, Oliver, well-nigh mad with 


IRUITLESS APPEALS FOR MERCY. 


199 


grief and terror, saw that housebreaking and robbery, if not 
murder, were the objects of the expedition. He clasped his 
hands together, and involuntarily uttered a subdued exclama- 
tion of horror. A mist came before his eyes ; the cold sweat 
stood upon his ashy face ; his limbs failed him ; and he sank 
upon his knees. 

‘‘Get up!’’ murmured Sikes, trembling with rage, and 
drawing the pistol from his pocket ; “ Get up, or I’ll strew 
your brains upon the grass.” 

“ Oh 1 for God's sake let me go ! ” cried Oliver ; “ let me 
run away and die in the fields. I will never come near 
London ; never, never ! Oh ! pray have mercy on me, and 
do not make me steal. For the love of all the bright Angels 
that rest in Heaven, have mercy upon me ! ” 

The man to whom this appeal was made, swore a dreadful 
oath, and had cocked the pistol, when Toby, striking it from 
his grasp, placed his hand upon the boy’s mouth, and dragged 
him to the house. 

“ Hush 1 ” cried the man ; “ it won’t answer here. Say 
another word, and Fli do your business myself with a crack 
on the head. That makes no noise, and is quite as certain, 
and more genteel. Here, Bill, wrench the shutter open. 
He’s game enough now, Fll engage. I’ve seen older hands 
of his age took the same way, for a minute or two, on a cold 
night.” 

Sikes, invoking terrific imprecations upon Fagin’s head for 
sending Oliver on such an errand, plied the crowbar vigorously, 
but with little noise. After some delay, and some assistance 
from Toby, the shutter to which he had referred, swung open 
on its hinges. 

It was a little lattice window, about five feet and a half above 
the ground, at the back of the house : which belonged to a 
scullery, or small brewing-place, at the end of the passage. 
The aperture was so small, that the inmates had probably 
not thought it worth while to defend it more securely ; but it 
was large enough to admit a boy of Oliver’s size, nevertheless. 


200 


OLIVER TWIST. 


A very brief exercise of Mr. Sikeses art, sufficed to overcome 
the fastening of the lattice ; and it soon stood wide open also. 

•^Now listen, you young limb,*” whispered Sikes, drawing 
a dark lantern from his pocket, and throwing the glare full 
on Oliver's face; a going to put you through there. 

Take this light; go softly up the steps straight afore you, 
and along the little hall, to the street door ; unfasten it, and 
let us in." 

‘‘There's a bolt at the top, you won't be able to reach," 
interposed Toby. “ Stand upon one of the hall chairs. There 
are three there. Bill, with a jolly large blue unicorn and gold 
pitchfork on 'em : which is the old lady's arms." 

“ Keep quiet, can't you ? " replied Sikes, with a threatening 
look. “The room-door is open, is it.^" 

“Wide," replied Toby, after peeping in to satisfy himself. 
“ The game of that is, that they always leave it open with a 
catch, so that the dog, who's got a bed in here, may walk up 
and down the passage when he feels wakeful. Ha ! ha ! Barney 
'ticed him away to-night. So neat ! " 

Although Mr. Crackit spoke in a scarcely audible whisper, 
and laughed without noise, Sikes imperiously commanded 
him to be silent, and to get to work. Toby complied, by 
first producing his lantern, and placing it on the ground; 
then by planting himself firmly with his head against the wall 
beneath the window, and his hands upon his knees, so as to 
make a step of his back. This was no sooner done, than 
Sikes, mounting upon him, put Oliver gently through the 
window with his feet first ; and, without leaving hold of his 
collar, planted him safely on the floor inside. 

“Take this lantern," said Sikes, looking into the room. 
“You see the stairs afore you.^^" 

Oliver, more dead than alive, gasped out, “Yes." Sikes, 
pointing to the street-door with the pistol-barrel, briefly 
advised him to take notice that he was within shot all the 
way; and that if he faltered, he would fall dead that 
instant. 



201 


shoL. 


\ 


It’s done in a mini^ite,” said Sikes, rln the same low whisper. 

Directly I leave go pf you, do your workx^ Hark ! ” 

‘‘ What’s that ? ” wl^ispered the other man. n 
T hey listened intently. X 

Nothing,” said Sikes, releasing his hold of Oliver. "^XNow ! ” 
In the short time he had had to collect his senses, the Xjboy 
had firmly resolved that, whether he died in the attempt oV 
not, he would make one effort to dart up stairs from the 
hall, and alarm the family. Filled with this idea, he advanced 
at once, but stealthily. 

Come back ! ” suddenly cried Sikes aloud. Back ! back ! ” 
Scared by the sudden breaking of the dead stillness of the 
place, and by a loud cry which followed it, Oliver let his 
lantern fall, and knew not whether to advance or fly. 

The cry was repeated — a light appeared — a vision of two 
terrified half-dressed men at the top of the stairs swam 
before his eyes — a flash — a loud noise — a smoke — a crash 
somewhere, but where he knew not, — and he staggered back. 

Sikes had disappeared for an instant ; but he was up again, 
and had him by the collar before the smoke had cleared away. 
He fired his own pistol after the men, who were already 
retreating; and dragged the boy up. 

“ Clasp your arm tighter,” said Sikes, as he drew him through 
the window. ^^Give me a shawl here. They’ve hit him. 
Quick ! How the boy bleeds ! ” 

Then came the loud ringing of a bell, mingled with the 
noise of fire-arms, and the shouts of men, and the sensation 
of being carried over uneven ground at a rapid pace. And 
then, the noises grew confused in the distance; and a cold 
deadly feeling crept over the boy’s heart; and he saw or 
heard no more. 




CHAPTER XXIIL 


WHICH CONTAINS THE SUBSTANCE OP A PLEASANT CONVERSATION 
BETWEEN MR. BUMBLE AND A LADY ; AND SHOWS THAT 
EVEN A BEADLE MAY BE SUSCEPTIBLE ON SOME POINTS. 

The night was bitter cold. The snow lay on the ground, 
frozen into a hard thick crust, so that only the heaps that 
had drifted into by-ways and comers were affected by the 
sharp wind that howled abroad : which, as if expending 
increased fury on such prey as it found, caught it savagely up 
in clouds, and, whirling it into a thousand nisty eddied, 
scattered it in air. Bleak, dark, and piercing cold, it was a 
night for the well-housed and fed to draw round the bright 
fire and thank God they were at home ; and for the homeless, 
starving wretch to lay him down and die. Many hunger- worn 
outcasts close their eyes in our bare streets, at such times, 
who, let their crimes have been what they may, can hardly 
open them in a more bitter world. 

Such was the aspect of out-of-doors affairs, when Mrs. 
Corney, the matron of the worlchouse to which our readers 
have been already introduced as the birthplace of Oliver 
Twist, sat herself down before a cheerful fire in her own 
little room, and glanced, with no small degree of complacency, 
at a small round table : on which stood a tray of corresponding 
size, furnished with all necessary materials for the most grateful 
meal that matrons enjoy. In fact, Mrs. Corney was about 
to solace herself with a cup of tea. As she glanced from the 


he fireplace, where the smallesto^il^^ssiDie kettle 
ng a small song in a small voice, her inward satis- 
vidently increased, — so much so, indeed, that Mrs. 
smiled. 

» 

l^ell ! said the matron, leaning her elbow on the table, 
ooking reflectively at the fire ; Fm sure we have all on 
great deal to be grateful for! A great deal, if we did 
know it. Ah!’’ 

Vlrs. Corney shook her head mournfully, as if deploring 
e mental blindness of those paupers who did not know it; 
d thrusting a silver spoon (private property) into the inmost 
ecesses of a two-ounce tin tea-caddy, proceeded to make the 
ea. 

How slight a thing will disturb the equanimity of our frail 
minds ! The black teapot, being very small and easily filled, 
ran over while Mrs. Corney was moralising; and the water 
slightly scalded Mrs. Comey’s hand. 

Drat the pot ! ” said the worthy matron, setting it down 
ry hastily on the hob; ^^a little stupid thing, that only 
Ids a couple of cups ! What use is it of, to anybody ! 
cept,” said Mrs. Corney, pausing, except to a poor desolate 
ature like me. Oh dear ! ” 

ith these words, the matron dropped into her chair, and, 
ce more resting her elbow on the table, thought of her 
litary fate. The small teapot, and the single cup, had 
akened in her mind sad recollections of Mr. Corney (who 
ad not been dead more than five-and-twenty years) ; and 
"he was overpowered. 

I shall never get another ! ” said Mrs. Corney, pettishly ; 

I shall never get another — like him.” 


Whether this remark bore reference to the husband, or the 
teapot, is uncertain. It might have been the latter ; for 
Mrs. Corney looked at it as she spoke ; and took it up after- 
wards. She had just tasted her first cup, when she was 
disturbed by a soft tap at the room -door. 

Oh, come in with you ! ” said Mrs. Corney, sharply. Some 



of the old women dying, I suppose. They always 
Fm at meals. Don’t stand there, letting the cold air^ 

What’s amiss now, eh ? ” 

^‘Nothing, ma’am, nothing,” replied a man’s voice. 

Dear me ! ” exclaimed the matron, in a much sweeter^ 

‘‘ is that Mr. Bumble ? ” 

‘‘At your service, ma’am,” said Mr. Bumble, who 
been stopping outside to rub his shoes clean, and to sK| 
the snow off his coat; and who now made his appearani 
bearing the cocked hat in one hand and a bundle in the otht 
“ Shall I shut the door, ma’am ? ” 

The lady modestly hesitated to reply, lest there should b| 
any impropriety in holding an interview with Mr. Bumbk 
with closed doors. Mr. Bumble taking advantage of the hesi- 
tation, and being very cold himself, shut it without permission. 

“ Hard weather, Mr. Bumble,” said the matron. 

“ Hard, indeed, ma’am,” replied the beadle. “ Anti-porochial 
weather this, ma’am. We have given away, Mrs. Corney, 
have given away a matter of twenty quartern loaves andl 
cheese and a half, this very blessed afternoon ; and yet th(J 
paupers are not contented.” 

“ Of course not. When would they be, Mr. Bumble ? ” si 
the matron, sipping her tea. 

“When, indeed, ma’am!” rejoined Mr. Bumble. “Wl 
here’s one man that, in consideration of his wife and lar^ 
family, has a quartern loaf and a good pound of cheese, fu| 
weight. Is he grateful, ma’am ? Is he grateful ? Not a coppe! 
farthing’s worth of it ! What does he do, ma’am, but ask for 
a few coals ; if it’s only a pocket handkerchief full, he says ! 
Coals ! What would he do with coals ? Toast his cheese 
with ’em, and then come back for more. That’s the way 
with these people, ma’am ; give ’em a apron full of coals to- 
day, and they’ll come back for another, the day after to-morrow, 
as brazen as alabaster.” 

The matron expressed her entire concurrence in this intelli- 
gible simile ; and the beadle went on. 


BUMBLE ON OUT-DOOR RELIEF. 


205 


I never, ^ said Mr. Bumble, see anything like the pitch 
iFs got to. The day afore yesterday, a man — yoTi have been 
a married woman, ma’am, and I may mention it to you — a 
man, with hardly a rag upon his back (here Mrs. Comey 
looked at the floor), goes to our overseer’s door when he has 
got company coming to dinner ; and says, he must be relieved, 
Mrs. Corney. As he wouldn’t go away, and shocked the 
company very much, our overseer sent him out a pound of 
potatoes and half a pint of oatmeal. ‘ My heart ! ’ says the 
ungrateful villain, ‘ what’s the use of this to me ? You might 
as well give me a pair of iron spectacles!’ ‘Very good,*" 
says our overseer, taking ’em away again, ‘you won’t get 
anything else here.’ ‘ Then I’ll die in the streets ! ’ says the 
vagrant. ‘Oh no, you won’t,’ says our overseer.” 

“ Ha ! ha 1 That was very good ! So like Mr. Grannett, 
wasn’t it.^” interposed the matron. “ Well, Mr. Bumble.^” 

“Well, ma’am,” rejoined the beadle, “he went away; and 
he did die in the streets. There’s a obstinate pauper for 
you!” 

“It beats anything I could have believed,” observed the 
matron emphatically. “ But don’t you think out-of-door 
relief a very bad thing, any way, Mr. Bumble.^ You’re a 
gentleman of experience, and ought to know. Come.” 

“Mrs. Corney,” said the beadle, smiling as men smile who 
are conscious of superior information, “ out-of-door relief, 
properly managed : properly managed, ma’am : is the porochial 
safeguard. The great principle of out-of-door relief is, to 
give the paupers exactly what they don’t want; and then 
they get tired of coming.” 

“Dear me!” exclaimed Mrs. Comey. “Well, that is a 
good one, too!” 

“ Yes. Betwixt you and me, ma’am,” returned Mr. Bumble, 
“ that’s the great principle ; and that’s the reason why, if you 
look at any cases that get into them owdacious newspapers, 
you’ll always observe that sick families have been relieved 
wiXh slices of cheese. That’s the rule now, Mrs. Corney, all 


ii06 OLIVER TWIST. 

over the country. But, however, said the beadle, stopping 
to unpack his bundle, ‘^Hhese are official secrets, ma'^am; not 
to be spoken of; except, as I may say, among the porochial 
officers, such as ourselves. This is the port wine, ma'^am, 
that the board ordered for the infirmary ; real, fresh, genuine 
port wine; only out of the cask this forenoon; clear as a 
bell ; and no sediment ! 

Having held the first bottle up to the light, and shaken 
it well to test its excellence, Mr. Bumble placed them both 
on the top of a chest of drawers; folded the handkerchief 
in which they had been wrapped; put it carefully in his 
pocket; and took up his hat, as if to go. 

"^You'll have a very cold walk, Mr. Bumble,*” said the 
matron. 

‘^It blows, ma'am,*” replied Mr. Bumble, turning up his 
coat-collar, enough to cut one's ears off." 

The matron looked, from the little kettle, to the beadle, 
who was moving towards the door ; and as the beadle coughed, 
preparatory to bidding her good night, bashfully inquired 
whether — whether he wouldn’t take a cup of tea? 

Mr. Bumble instantaneously turned back his collar again ; 
laid his hat and stick upon a chair; and drew another chair 
up to the table. As he slowly seated himself, he looked at 
the lady. She fixed her eyes upon the little tea-pot. Mr. 
Bumble coughed again, and slightly smiled. 

Mrs. Corney rose to get another cup and saucer from the 
closet. As she sat down, her eyes once again encountered 
those of the gallant beadle; she coloured, and applied herself 
to the task of making his tea. Again Mr. Bumble coughed, 
— louder this time than he had coughed yet. 

Sweet? Mr. Bumble?" inquired the matron, taking up 
the sugar-basin. 

Very sweet, indeed, ma'am," replied Mr. Bumble. He fixed 
his eyes on Mrs. Comey as he said this ; and if ever a beadle 
looked tender, Mr. Bumble was that beadle at that moment. 

The tea was made, and handed in silence. Mr. Bumble, 


I 





A FRIENl 


;UP OF TEA. 


207 


having spread a handkerc. er his knees to prevent the 

crumbs from sullying the ^ our of his shorts, began to 
eat and drink; varying th iusements> occasionally, by 
fetching a deep sigh ; which, however, had no injurious effect 
uj)on his appetite, but, on the contrary, rather seemed to 
facilitate his operations in the tea and toast department. 

You have a cat, ma'^am, I see,’" said Mr. Bumble, glancing 
at one who, in the centre of her family, was basking before 
the fire ; and kittens too, I declare ! ” 

“ I am so fond of them, Mr. Bumble, you can’t think,” 
replied the matron. They’re so happy, so frolicsome, and 
so cheerful, that they are quite companions for me.” 

‘‘Very nice animals, ma’am,” replied Mr. Bumble, approv- 
ingly ; “ so very domestic.” 

“Oh, yes!” rejoined the matron with enthusiasm; “so 
fond of their home too, that it’s quite a pleasure. I’m sure.” 

“ Mrs. Corney, ma’am,” said Mr. Bumble, slowly, and 
marking the time with his teaspoon, “I mean to say this, 
ma’am; that any cat, or kitten, that could live with you, 
ma’am, and not be fond of its home, must be a ass, ma’am.” 

“ Oh, Mr. Bumble ! ” remonstrated Mrs. Corney. 

“ It’s of no use disguising facts, ma’am,” said Mr. Bumble, 
slowly flourishing the teaspoon with a kind of amorous dignity 
which made him doubly impressive ; “ I would drown it myself, 
with pleasure.” 

“Then you’re a cruel man,” said the matron vivaciously, 
as she held out her hand for the beadle’s cup; “and a very 
hard-hearted man besides.” 

“ Hard-hearted, ma‘'am ? ” said Mr. Bumble. “ Hard ? ” 
Mr. Bumble resigned his cup without another word ; squeezed 
Mrs. Corney’s little finger as she took it; and inflicting two 
open handed slaps upon his laced waistcoat, gave a mighty 
sigh, and hitched his chair a very little morsel farther from 
the fire. 

It was a round table ; and as Mrs. Corney and Mr. Bumble 
had been sitting opposite each other, with no great space 


208 


OLIVER TWIST. 


between them, and fronting the fire, it will be seen that Mr, 
Bumble, in receding from the fire, and still keeping at the 
table, increased the distance between himself and Mrs. Corney ; 
which proceeding, some prudent readers will doubtless be 
disposed to admire, and to consider an act of great heroism 
on Mr. Bumble‘’s part : he being in some sort tempted by 
time, place, and opportunity, to give utterance to certain 
soft nothings, which however well they may become the lips 
of the light and thoughtless, do seem immeasurably beneath 
the dignity of judges of the land, members of parliament, 
ministers of state, lord mayors, and other great public func- 
tionaries, but more particularly beneath the stateliness and 
gravity of a beadle : who (as is well known) should be the 
sternest and most inflexible among them all. 

Whatever were Mr. Bumble‘‘s intentions, however (and no 
doubt they were of the best) : it unfortunately happened, as 
has been twice before remarked, that the table was a round 
one; consequently Mr. Bumble, moving his chair by little 
and little, soon began to diminish the distance between him- 
self and the matron ; and, continuing to travel round the 
outer edge of the circle, brought his chair, in time, close to 
that in which the matron was seated. Indeed, the two chairs 
touched ; and when they did so, Mr. Bumble stopped. 

Now, if the matron had moved her chair to the right, she 
would have been scorched by the fire; and if to the left, she 
must have fallen into Mr. Bumble’s arms ; so (being a discreet 
matron, and no doubt foreseeing these consequences at a glance) 
she remained where she was, and handed Mr. Bumble another 
cup of tea. 

‘^Hard-hearted, Mrs. Corney.^” said Mr. Bumble, stirring 
his tea, and looking up into the matron’s face; “are you 
hard-hearted, Mrs. Corney?” 

“ Dear me ! ” exclaimed the matron, “ what a very curious 
question from a single man. What can you want to know for, 
Mr. Bumble?” 

The beadle drank his tea to the last drop ; finished a piece 


A SUDDEN SURPRISE. 209 

of toast ; whisked the crumbs off his knees ; wiped his lips ; 
and deliberately kissed the matron. 

‘‘ Mr. Bumble ! cried that discreet lady in a whisper ; for 
the fright was so great, that she had quite lost her voice, 
Mr. Bumble, I shall scream ! Mr. Bumble made no reply ; 
but in a slow and dignified manner, put his arm round the 
matron’s waist. 

As the lady had stated her intention of screaming, of course 
she would have screamed at this additional boldness, but 
that the exertion was rendered unnecessary by a hasty knocking 
at the door : which was no sooner heard, than Mr. Bumble 
darted, with much agility, to the wine bottles, and began 
dusting them with great violence : while the matron sharply 
demanded who was there. It is worthy of remark, as a 
curious physical instance of the efficacy of a sudden surprise 
in counteracting the effects of extreme fear, that her voice 
had quite recovered all its official asperity. 

If you please, mistress,” said a withered old female pauper, 
hideously ugly : putting her head in at the door, Old Sally 
is a-going fast.” 

“Well, what’s that to me.^^” angrily demanded the matron. 
“ I can’t keep her alive, can I ? ” 

“No, no, mistress,” replied the old woman, “nobody can; 
she’s far beyond the reach of help. I’ve seen a many people 
die; little babes and great strong men; and I know v/hen 
death’s a-coming, well enough. But she’s troubled in her 
mind : and when the fits are not on her, — and that’s not often, 
for she is dying very hard, — she says she has got something 
to tell, which you must hear. She’ll never die quiet till 
you come, mistress.” 

At this intelligence, the worthy Mrs. Corney muttered a 
variety of invectives against old women who couldn’t even 
die without purposely annoying their betters; and, muffling 
herself in a thick shawl which she hastily caught up, briefly 
requested Mr. Bumble to stay till she came back, lest any- 
thing particular should occur. Bidding the messenger walk 

p 


210 


OLIVER TWIST. 


fast, and not be .all night hobbling up the stairs, she followed 
her from the room with a very ill grace, scolding all the way. 

Mr. Bumble'’s conduct on being left to himself, was rather 
inexplicable. He opened the closet, counted the teaspoons, 
weighed the sugar-tongs, closely inspected a silver milk-pot 
to ascertain that it was of the genuine metal, and, having 
satisfied his curiosity on these points, put on his cocked-hat 
corner- wise, and danced with much gravity four distinct times 
round the table. Having gone through this very extra- 
ordinary performance, he took off the cocked-hat again, and, 
spreading himself before the fire with his back towards it, 
seemed to be mentally engaged in taking an exact inventory 
of the furniture. 


CHAPTER XXIV. 


TREATS OF A VERY POOR SUBJECT. BUT IS A SHORT ONE, AND 
MAY BE FOUND OF IMPORTANCE IN THIS HISTORY. 

It was no unfit messenger of death, who had disturbed the 
quiet of the matron‘’s room. Her body was bent by age ; her 
limbs trembled with palsy ; her face, distorted into a mum- 
bling leer, resembled more the grotesque shaping of some wild 
pencil, than the work of Nature'^s hand. 

Alas ! How few of Nature’s faces are left alone to gladden 
us with their beauty ! The cares, and sorrows, and hungerings 
of the world, change them as they change hearts; and it 
is only when those passions sleep, and have lost their hold 
for ever, that the troubled clouds pass off, and leave Heaven’s 
surface clear. It is a common thing for the countenances of 
the dead, even in that fixed and rigid state, to subside into 
the long-forgotten expression of sleeping infancy, and settle 
into the very look of early life ; so calm, so peaceful, do they 
grow again, that those who knew them in their happy child- 
hood, kneel by the coffin’s side in awe, and see the Angel 
even upon earth. 

The old crone tottered along the passages, and up the stairs, 
muttering some indistinct answers to the chidings of her com- 
panion; being at length compelled to pause for breath, she 
gave the light into her hand, and remained behind to follow 
as she might : while the more nimble superior made her way 
to the room where the sick woman lay. 


OLIVER TWIST. 


5212 

It was a bare garret-room, with a dim light burning at the 
farther end. There was another old woman watching by 
the bed ; the parish apothecary's apprentice was standing 
by the fire, making a toothpick out of a quill. 

“ Cold night, Mrs. Corney," said this young gentleman, as 
the matron entered. 

“Very cold, indeed, sir," replied the mistress, in her most 
civil tones, and dropping a curtsey as she spoke. 

“You should get better coals out of your contractors," 
said the apothecary's deputy, breaking a lump on the top of 
the fire with the rusty poker ; “ these are not at all the sort 
of thing for a cold night." 

“They're the board's choosing, sir," returned the matron. 
“ The least they could do, would be to keep us pretty warm : 
for our places are hard enough." 

The conversation was here interrupted by a moan from the 
sick woman. 

“ Oh ! " said the young man, turning his face towards the 
bed, as if he had previously quite forgotten the patient, “ it's 
all U. P. there, Mrs. Corney." 

“ It is, is it, sir ? " asked the matron. 

“If she lasts a couple of hours, I shall be surprised," said 
the apothecary's apprentice, intent upon the toothpick's 
point. “It's a break-up of the system altogether. Is she 
dozing, old lady ? " 

The attendant stooped over the bed, to ascertain; and 
nodded in the affirmative. '' 

“ Then perhaps she'll go off in that way, if you don't make 
a row," said the young man. “Put the light on the floor. 
She won't see it there." 

The attendant did as she was told : shaking her head 
meanwhile, to intimate that the woman would not die so 
easily ; having done so, she resumed her seat by the side of 
the other nurse, who had by this time returned. The mistress, 
with an expression of impatience, wrapped herself in her shawl, 
and sat at the foot of the bed. 


WATCHERS AT A DEATH-BED. 


213 


The apothecary's apprentice, having completed the manufac- 
ture of the toothpick, planted himself in front of the fire and 
made good use of it for ten minutes or so : when apparently 
growing rather dull, he wished Mrs. Corney joy of her job, 
and took himself off on tiptoe. 

When they had sat in silence for some time, the two old 
women rose from the bed, and crouching over the fire, held 
out their withered hands to catch the heat. The flame threw 
a ghastly light on their shrivelled faces, and made their 
ugliness appear terrible, as, in this position, they began to 
converse in a low voice. 

‘^Did she say any more, Anny dear, while I was gone.^'** 
inquired the messenger. 

Not a word,**’ replied the other. She plucked and tore 
at her arms for a little time ; but I held her hands, and she 
soon dropped off*. She hasn't much strength in her, so I 
easily kept her quiet. I ain’t so weak for an old woman, 
although I am on parish allowance ; no, no ! ” 

‘‘Did she drink the hot wine the doctor said she was to 
have.^^” demanded the first. 

“I tried to get it down,” rejoined the other. “But her 
teeth were tight set, and she clenched the mug so hard that 
it was as much as I could do to get it back again. So / 
drank it ; and it did me good ! ” 

Looking cautiously round, to ascertain that they were not 
overheard, the two hags cowered nearer to the fire, and 
chuckled heartily. 

“ I mind the time,” said the first speaker, “ when she would 
have done the same, and made rare fun of it afterwards.” 

“Ay, that she would,” rejoined the other; “ she had a 
merry heart. A many, many, beautiful corjises she laid out, 
as nice and neat as wax-work. My old eyes have seen them 
— ay, and those old hands touched them too; for I have 
helped her, scores of times.” 

Stretching forth her trembling fingers as she spoke, the old 
creature shook them exultingly before her face, and fumbling 


OLIVER TWIST. 


in her pocket, brought out an old time-discoloured tin snuff- 
box, from which she shook a few grains into the outstretched 
palm of her companion, and a few more into her owj\. 
While they were thus employed, the matron, who had been 
impatiently watching until the dying woman should awaken 
from her stupor, joined them by the fire, and sharply asked 
how long she was to wait.^ 

‘‘ Not long, mistress,"' replied the second woman, looking 
up into her face. ‘^We have none of us long to wait for 
Death. Patience, patience ! Hell be here soon enough 
for us all." 

Hold your tongue, you doting idiot ! " said the matron, 
sternly. ‘‘You, Martha, tell me; has she been in this way 
before ? " 

“ Often," answered the first woman. 

“But will never be again," added the second one; “that 
is, she'll never wake again but once — and mind, mistress, that 
won't be for long ! " 

“Long or short," said the matron, snappishly, “she won't 
find me here when she does wake; take care, both of you, 
how you worry me again for nothing. It's no part of my 
duty to see all the old women in the house die, and I won't 
— that's more. Mind that, you impudent old harridans. 
If you make a fool of me again, I'll soon cure you, I warrant 
you ! " ^ 

She was bouncing away, when a cry from the two women, 
who had turned towards the bed, caused her to look round. 
The patient had raised herself upright, and was stretching 
her arras towards them. 

Who's that ? " she cried, in a hollow voice. 

“ Hush, hush ! " said one of the women, stooping over her. 
“ Lie down, lie down ! " 

“ I'll never lie down again alive ! " said the woman, strug- 
gling. “ I will tell her ! Come here ! Nearer ! Let me 
whisper in your ear." 

She clutched the matron by the arm, and forcing her into 


A DEATH-BED CONFESSION. 


215 


a chair by the bedside, was about to speak, when looking 
round, she caught sight of the two old women bending 
forward in the attitude of eager listeners. 

‘^Tum them away,^ said the old woman, drowsily; ‘^make 
haste! make haste!*” 

The two old crones, chiming in together, began pouring out 
many piteous lamentations that the poor dear was too far gone 
to know her best friends; and were uttering sundry protesta- 
tions that they would never leave her, when the superior pushed 
them from the room, closed the door, and returned to the 
bedside. On being excluded, the old ladies changed their 
tone, and cried through the keyhole that old Sally was drunk ; 
which, indeed, was not unlikely ; since, in addition to a moderate 
dose of opium prescribed by the apothecary, she was labouring 
under the effects of a final taste of gin-and-water which had 
been privily administered, in the openness of their hearts, 
by the worthy old ladies themselves. 

‘‘Now listen to me,"’ said the dying woman aloud, as if 
making a great effort to revive one latent spark of energy. 
“ In this very room — in this very bed — I once nursed a pretty 
young creetur , that was brought into the house with her 
feet cut and bruised with walking, and all soiled with dust 
and blood. She gave birth to a boy, and died. Let me 
think — what was the year again ! ” 

“ Never mind the year,” said the impatient auditor ; “ what 
about her.^” 

“ Ay,” murmured the sick woman, relapsing into her former 
drowsy state, “ what about her ? — what about — I know ! ” 
she cried, jumping fiercely up : her face flushed, and her eyes 
starting from her head — “ I robbed her, so I did ! She wasn’t 
cold — I tell you she wasn’t cold, when I stole it ! ” 

“ Stole what, for God"s sake ^ ” cried the matron, with a 
gesture as if she would call for help. 

replied the woman, laying her hand over the other’s 
mouth. “The only thing she had. She wanted clothes to 
keep her warm, and food to eat; but she had kept it safe, 


216 


OLIVER TWIST. 


and had it in her bosom. It was gold, I tell you ! Rich 
gold, that might have saved her life 

‘‘ Gold ! ’’ echoed the matron, bending eagerly over the 
woman as she fell back. “ Go on, go on — yes — what of it ? 
AVho was the mother ? When was it ? 

She charged me to keep it safe,*^ replied the woman with 
a groan, ^‘and trusted me as the only woman about her. I 
stole it in my heart when she first showed it me hanging 
round her neck ; and the child’s death, perhaps, is on me 
besides ! They would have treated him better, if they had 
known it all ! ” 

Known what ? ” asked the other. Speak ! ■” 

‘‘The boy grew so like his mother,” said the woman, 
rambling on, and not heeding the question, “that I could 
never forget it when I saw his face. Poor girl ! poor girl ! 
She was so young, too ! Such a gentle lamb ! Wait ; there’s 
more to tell. I have not told you all, have I?” 

“No, no,” replied the matron, inclining her head to catch 
the words, as they came more faintly from the dying woman. 
“ Be quick, or it may be too late ! ” 

“The mother,” said the woman, making a more violent 
effort than before ; “ the mother, when the pains of death first 
came upon her, whispered in my ear that if her baby was 
born alive, and thrived, the day might come when it would 
not feel so much disgraced to hear its poor young mother 
named. ‘ And oh, kind Heaven ! ’ she said, folding her thin 
hands together, ‘whether it be boy or girl, raise up some 
friends for it in this troubled world, and take pity upon a 
lonely desolate child, abandoned to its mercy ! ’ ” 

“The boy’s name?” demanded the matron. 

“They called him Oliver,” replied the woman, feebly. 

“ The gold I stole was ” 

“Yes, yes — what?” cried the other. 

She was bending eagerly over the woman to hear her reply ; 
but drew back, instinctively, as she once again rose, slowly 
and stiffly, into a sitting posture ; then, clutching the coverlid 


NOTHING TO TELL. 


with both hands, muttered some indistinct sounds in her throat, 
and fell lifeless on the bed. 

***** 

“ Stone dead ! said one of the old women, hurrying in 
as soon as the door was opened. 

^‘And nothing to tell, after all,"’ rejoined the matron, 
walking carelessly away. 

The two crones, to all appearance, too busily occupied in 
the preparations for their dreadful duties to make any reply, 
were left alone, hovering about the body. 


CHAPTER XXV. 


WHEREIN THIS HISTORY REVERTS TO MR. FAGIN AND COMPANY. 

While these things were passing in the country workhouse, 
Mr. Fagin sat in the old den — the same from which Oliver 
had been removed by the girl — brooding over a dull, smoky 
fire. He held a pair of bellows upon his knee, with which 
he had apparently been endeavouring to rouse it into more 
cheerful action; but he had fallen into deep thought; and 
with his arms folded on them, and his chin resting on his 
thumbs, fixed his eyes, abstractedly, on the rusty bars. 

At a table behind him sat the Artful Dodger, Master 
Charles Bates, and Mr. Chitling : all intent upon a game of 
whist; the Artful taking dummy against Master Bates and 
Mr. Chitling. The countenance of the first-named gentleman, 
peculiarly intelligent at all times, acquired great additional 
interest from his close observance of the game, and his attentive 
perusal of Mr. Chitling‘'s hand; upon which, from time to 
time, as occasion served, he bestowed a variety of earnest 
glances : wisely regulating his own play by the result of his 
observations upon his neighbours cards. It being a cold 
night, the Dodger wore his hat, as, indeed, was often, his 
custom within doors. He also sustained a clay pipe between 
his teeth, which he only removed for a brief space when he 
deemed it necessary to apply for refreshment to a quart pot 
upon the table, which stood ready filled with gin-and-water 
for the accommodation of the company. 

Master Bates was also attentive to the play ; but being of 


219 


A QUIET RUBBER. 

a more excitable nature than his accomplished friend, it was 
observable that he more frequently applied himself to the 
gin-and-Avater, and moreover indulged in many jests and 
irrelevant remarks, all highly unbecoming a scientific mbber. 
Indeed, the Artful, presuming upon their close attachment, 
more than once took occasion to reason gravely with his com- 
panion upon these improprieties : all of which remonstrances, 
Master Bates received in extremely good part ; merely 
requesting his friend to be Mowed,*” or to insert his head 
in a sack, or replying Avith some other neatly-turned witticism 
of a similar kind, the happy application of Avhich, excited 
considerable admiration in the mind of Mr. Chitling. It 
Avas remarkable that the latter gentleman and his partner 
invariably lost ; and that the circumstance, so far from 
angering Master Bates, appeared to afford him the highest 
amusement, inasmuch as he laughed most uproariously at the 
end of every deal, and protested that he had never seen such 
a jolly game in all his born days. 

That’s tAvo doubles and the rub,*’*’ said Mr. Chitling, with 
a very long face, as he dreAv half-a-crown from his waistcoat- 
pocket. “I never see such a feller as you. Jack; you win 
everything. Even Avhen we'’ve good cards, Charley and I 
can't make nothing of 'em.**' 

Either the matter or the manner of this remark, which was 
made very ruefully, delighted Charley Bates so much, that 
his consequent shout of laughter roused the Jcav from his 
reverie, and induced him to inquire what was the matter. 

“ Matter, Eagin ! cried Charley. I wish you had watched 
the play. Tommy Chitling hasn*’t won a point ; and I went 
partners Avith him against the Artful and dum.*’*’ 

“ Ay, ay ! **** said the Jew, with a grin, which sufficiently 
demonstrated that he Avas at no loss to understand the reason. 

Try 'em again, Tom ; try 'em again." 

No more of it for me, thankee, Fagin," replied Mr. 
Chitling; ‘‘I've had enough. That 'ere Dodger has such a 
run of luck that there's no standing again' him." 


220 


OLIVER TWIST. 


Ha ! ha ! my dear,"" replied the Jew, you must get up 
very early in the morning, to win against the Dodger."" 

Morning ! "" said Charley Bates ; you must put your 
boots on over-night, and have a telescope at each eye, and 
a opera-glass between your shoulders, if you want to come 
over Am."" 

Mr. Dawkins received these ' handsome compliments with 
much philosophy, and offered to cut any gentleman in 
company, for the first picture-card, at a shilling a time. 
Nobody accepting the challenge, and his pipe being by this 
time smoked out, he proceeded to amuse himself by sketching 
a ground-plan of Newgate on the table with the piece of 
chalk which had served him in lieu of counters; whistling, 
meantime, with peculiar shrillness. 

“ How precious dull you are. Tommy ! "" said the Dodger, 
stopping short when there had been a long silence; and 
addressing Mr. Chitling. What do you think he"s thinking 
of, Fagin.^"’ 

‘‘How should I know, my dear.^^"" replied the Jew, looking 
round as he plied the bellows. “About his losses, maybe; 
or the little retirement in the country that he"s just left, eh.^ 
Ha ! ha ! Is that it, my dear ? "" 

“ Not a bit of it,"" replied the Dodger, stopping the subject 
of discourse as Mr. Chitling was about to reply. “What 
do you say, Charley ? "" 

“ I should say,"" replied Master Bates, with a grin, “ that 
he was uncommon sweet upon Betsy. See how he"s a-blushing ! 
Oh, my eye ! here"s a merry-go-rounder ! Tommy Chitling"s 
in love ! Oh, Fagin, Fagin ! what a spree ! "" 

Thoroughly overpowered with the notion of Mr. Chitling 
being the victim of the tender passion. Master Bates threw 
himself back in his chair with such violence, that he lost his 
balance, and pitched over upon the floor ; where (the accident 
abating nothing of his merriment) he lay at full length until 
his laugh was over, when he resumed his former position, 
and began another laugh. 


MR. CHITLING IN LOVE. 


221 


Never mind him, my dear,’’ said the Jew, winking at Mr. 
Dawkins, and giving Master Bates a reproving tap with the 
nozzle of the bellows. ‘‘Betsy’s a fine girl. Stick up to 
her, Tom. Stick up to her.” 

“What I mean to say, Fagin,” replied Mr. Chitling, very 
red in the face, “ is, that that isn’t anything to anybody here.” 

“No more it is,” replied the Jew; “Charley will talk. 
Don’t mind him, my dear; don’t mind him. Betsy’s a fine 
girl. Do as she bids you, Tom, and you will make your 
fortune.” 

“So I cZo do as she bids me,” replied Mr. Chitling; “I 
shouldn’t have been milled, if it hadn’t been for her advice. 
But it turned out a good job for you ; didn’t it, Fagin ! 
And what’s six weeks of it.^ It must come, some time or 
another, and why not in the winter time when you don’t want 
to go out a- walking so much ; eh, Fagin ? ” 

“Ah, to be sure, my dear,” replied the Jew. 

“You wouldn’t mind it again, Tom, would you,” asked 
the Dodger, winking upon Charley and the Jew, “ if Bet was 
all right 

“I mean to say that I shouldn’t,” replied Tom, angrily. 
“ There, now. Ah ! Who’ll say as much as that, I should 
like to know ; eh, Fagin ? ” 

“Nobody, my dear,” replied the Jew; “not a soul, Tom. 
I don’t know one of ’em that would do it besides you ; not 
one of ’em, my dear.” 

“ I might have got clear off, if I’d split upon her ; mightn’t 
I, Fagin angrily pursued the poor half-witted dupe. “A 
word from me would have done it ; wouldn’t it, Fagin ? ” 

“ To be sure it would, my dear,” replied the Jew. 

“But I didn’t blab it; did I, Fagin demanded Tom, 
pouring question upon question with great volubility. 

“No, no, to be sure,” replied the Jew; “you were too 
stout-hearted for that. A deal too stout, my dear!” 

“Perhaps I was,” rejoined Tom, looking round; “and if‘ 
I was, what’s to laugh at, in that ; eh, Fagin ? ” 


222 


OLIVER TWIST. 


The Jew, perceiving that Mr. Chitling was considerably 
roused, hastened to assure him that nobody was laughing; 
and to prove the gravity of the company, appealed to Master 
Bates, the principal offender. But, unfortunately, Charley, 
in opening his mouth to reply that he was never more serious 
in his life, was unable to prevent the escape of such a violent 
roar, that the abused Mr. Chitling, without any preliminary 
ceremonies, rushed across the room and aimed a blow at the 
offender; who, being skilful in evading pursuit, ducked to 
avoid it, and chose his time so well that it lighted on the 
chest of the merry old gentleman, and caused him to stagger 
to the wall, where he stood panting for breath, while Mr. 
Chitling looked on in intense dismay. 

“ Hark ! ’’ cried the Dodger at this moment, “ I heard the 
tinkler.*” Catching up the light, he crept softly up stairs. 

The bell was rang again, with some impatience, while the 
party were in darkness. After a short pause, the Dodger 
reappeared, and whispered Fagin mysteriously. 

What ! ” cried the Jew, alone ? ” 

The Dodger nodded in the affirmative, and, shading the 
flame of the candle with his hand, gave Charley Bates a 
private intimation, in dumb show, that he had better not be 
funny just then. Having performed this friendly office, he 
fixed his eyes on the Jew’s face, and awaited his directions. 

The old man bit his yellow fingers, and meditated for 
some seconds; his face working with agitation the while, as 
if he dreaded something, and feared to know the worst. At 
length he raised his head. 

Where is he.^^” he asked. 

The Dodger pointed to the floor above, and made a 
gesture, as if to leave the room. 

“Yes,” said the Jew, answering the mute inquiry; “bring 
him down. Hush ! Quiet, Charley ! Gently, Tom ! Scarce, 
scarce ! ” 

This brief direction to Charley Bates, and his recent 
antagonist, was softly and immediately obeyed. There was 


FLASH TOBY CRACKIT. 


223 


no sound of their whereabout, when the Dodger descended 
the stairs, bearing the light in his hand, and followed by a 
man in a coarse smock-frock; who, after casting a hurried 
glance round the room, pulled off a large wrapper which had 
concealed the lower portion of his face, and disclosed : all 
haggard, unwashed, and unshorn : the features of flash Toby 
Crackit. 

‘‘How are you, Faguey?’** said this worthy, nodding to 
the Jew. “Pop that shawl away in my castor. Dodger, so 
that I may know where to find it when I cut; that’s the 
time of day ! You’ll be a fine young cracksman afore the 
old file now.” 

With these words he pulled up the smock-frock; and, 
winding it round his middle, drew a chair to the fire, and 
placed his feet upon the hob. 

“See there, Faguey,” he said, pointing disconsolately to 
his top-boots; “not a drop of Day and Martin since you 
know when ; not a bubble of blacking, by Jove ! But don’t 
look at me in that way, man. All in good time. I can’t 
talk about business till I’ve eat and drank ; so produce the 
sustainance, and let’s have a quiet fill-out for the first time 
these three days ! ” 

The Jew motioned to the Dodger to place what eatables 
there were, upon the table; and, seating himself opposite the 
housebreaker, waited his leisure. 

To judge from appearances, Toby was by no means in a 
hurry to open the conversation. At first, the Jew contented 
himself with patiently watching his countenance, as if to gain 
from its expression some clue to the intelligence he brought; 
but in vain. He looked tired and worn, but there was the 
same complacent repose upon his features that they always 
wore : and through dirt, and beard, and whisker, there still 
shone, unimpaired, the self-satisfied smirk of flash Toby 
Crackit. Then, the Jew, in an agony of impatience, watched 
every morsel he put into his mouth; pacing up and down 
the room, meanwhile, in irrepressible excitement. It was all 


224 


OLIVER TWIST. 


of no use. Toby continued to eat with the utmost outward 
indifference, until he could eat no more ; then, ordering the 
Dodger out, he closed the door, mixed a glass of spirits and 
water, and composed himself for talking. 

“First and foremost, Faguey,’’ said Toby. 

“ Yes, yes ! interposed the Jew, drawing up his chair. 

Mr. Crackit stopped to take a draught of spirits and water, 
and to declare that the gin was excellent ; then placing his 
feet against the low mantelpiece, so as to bring his boots to 
about the level of his eye, he quietly resumed, 

“ First and foremost, Faguey,*” said the housebreaker, 
“how’s Bill.^” 

“ What ! ” screamed the Jew, starting from his seat. 

“Why, you don’t mean to say ” began Toby, turning 

pale. 

“ Mean ! ” cried the Jew, stamping furiously on the ground. 
“ Where are they Sikes and the boy ! Where are they ? 
Where have they been.^ Where are they hiding? Why 
have they not been here?” 

“The crack failed,” said Toby, faintly. 

“I know it,” replied the Jew, tearing a newspaper from 
his pocket and pointing to it. “ What more ? ” 

“They fired and hit the boy. We cut over the fields at 
the back, with him between us — straight as the crow flies — 
through hedge and ditch. They gave chase. Damme ! the 
whole country was awake, and the dogs upon us.” 

“ The boy ! 

“Bill had him on his back, and scudded like the wind. 
We stopped to take him between us ; his head hung down, 
and he was cold. They were close upon our heels; every 
man for himself, and each from the gallows! We parted 
company, and left the youngster lying in a ditch. Alive or 
dead, that’s all I know about him.” 

The Jew stopped to hear no more; but uttering a loud 
yell, and twining his hands in his hair, rushed from the 
room, and from the house. 


CHAPTER XXVI. 


JM WHICH A MYSTERIOUS CHARACTER APPEARS UPON THE SCENE ; 

AND MANY THINGS, INSEPARABLE FROM THIS HISTORY, ARI" 

DONE AND PERFORMED. 

The old man had gained the street corner, before he began 
to recover the effect of Toby Crackit’s intelligence. He had 
relaxed nothing of his unusual speed ; but was still pressing 
onward, in the same wild and disordered manner, when the 
sudden dashing past of a carriage: and a boisterous cry 
from the foot passengers, who saw his danger: drove him 
back upon the pavement. Avoiding, as much as possible, all 
the main streets, and skulking only through the byways and 
alleys, he at length emerged on Snow Hill. Here he walked 
even faster than before; nor did he linger until he had again 
turned into a court; when, as if conscious that he was now 
in his proper element, he fell into his usual shuffling pace, 
and seemed to breathe more freely. 

Near to the spot on which Snow Hill and Holborn Hill 
meet, there opens, upon the right hand as you come out of 
the City, a narrow and dismal alley leading to Saffron Hill. 
In its filthy shops are exposed for sale huge bunches of second- 
hand silk handkerchiefs, of all sizes and patterns ; for here 
reside the traders who purchase them from pickpockets. 
Hundreds of these handkerchiefs hang dangling from pegs 
outside the windows or flaunting from the door-posts; and 
the shelves, within, are piled with them. Confined as the 

Q 


226 


OLIVER TWIST. 


limits of Field Lane are, it has its barber, its coflFee-shop, 
its beer-shop, and its fried-fish warehouse. It is a commercial 
colony of itself : the emporium of petty larceny : visited at 
early morning, and setting-in of dusk, by silent merchants, 
who traffic in dark back-parlours, and who go as strangely 
as they come. Here, the clothesman, the shoe-vamper, 
and the rag-merchant, display their goods, as sign-boards to 
the petty thief; here, stores of old iron and bones, and 
heaps of mildewy fragments of woollen-stuff and linen, rust 
and rot in the grimy cellars. 

It was into this place that the Jew turned. He was well 
known to the sallow denizens of the lane; for such of them 
as were on the look-out to buy or sell, nodded; faniiliarly, 
as he passed along. He replied to their salutations in the 
same way ; but bestowed no closer recognition until he 
reached the further end of the alley; when he* stopped, to 
address a salesman of small stature, who had squeezed as 
much of his person into a child's chair as the chair would 
hold, and was smoking a pipe at his warehouse door. 

‘‘ Why, the sight of you, Mr. Fagin, would cure the 
hoptalmy ! " said this respectable trader, in acknowledgment 
of the Jew's inquiry after his health. 

^^The neighbourhood was a little too hot. Lively," said 
Fagin, elevating his eyebrows, and crossing his hands upon 
his shoulders. 

'‘‘Well, I’ve heerd that complaint of it, once or twice 
before," replied the trader ; “ but it soon cools down again ; 
don't you find it so ? " 

Fagin nodded in the affirmative. Pointing in the direction 
of Saffron Hill, he inquired whether any one was up yonder 
to-night. 

“At the Cripples inquired the man. 

The Jew nodded. 

“Let me see," pursued the merchant, reflecting. “Yes 
there’s some half-dozen of ’em gone in, that I knows. I don 
think your friend’s there." 


FAGIN AT THE THREE CRIPPLES. "227 

Sikes is not, I suppose P’** inquired the Jew, with a dis- 
appointed countenance. 

Non istzventusy as the lawyers say,*” replied the little man, 
shaking his head, and looking amazingly sly. Have you 
got anything in my line to-night ? ’’ 

Nothing to-night,'’ said the Jew, turning away. 

""Are you going up to the Cripples, Eagin?” cried the 
little man, calling after him. "" Stop ! I don't mind if I 
have a drop there with you ! " 

But as the Jew, looking back, waved his hand to intimate 
that he preferred being alone ; and, moreover, as the little man 
could not very easily disengage himself from the chair; the 
sign of the . Cripples was, for a time, bereft of the advantage 
of Mr. Lively's presence. By the time he had got upon his 
legs, the Jew had disappeared ; so Mr. Lively, after ineffectually 
standing on tiptoe, in the hope of catching sight of him, 
again forced himself into the little chair, and, exchanging a 
shake of the head with a lady in the opposite shop, in which 
doubt and mistrust were plainly mingled, resumed his pipe 
with a grave demeanour. 

The Three Cripples, or rather the Cripples: which was 
the sign by which the establishment wa^ familiarly known 
to its patrons : was the public-house in which Mr. Sikes and 
his dog have already figured. Merely making a sign to a 
man at the bar, Fagin walked straight up stairs, and opening 
the door of a room, and softly insinuating himself into the 
chamber, looked -anxiously about : shading his eyes with his 
hand, as if in search of some particular person. 

The room was illuminated by two gas-lights; the glare 
of which was prevented by the barred shutters, and closely- 
drawn curtains of faded red, from being visible outside. 
The ceiling wa>s blackened, to prevent its colour from being 
injured by the flaring of the lamps; and the place was so 
full of dense tobacco smoke, that at first it was scarcely 
possible to discern anything more. By degrees, however, as. 
some of it cleared away through the open door, an assemblage 


228 


OLI\ 


iVlST. 


of heads, os confused as loises that greeted the ear, 
might be made out; and as the eye grew more accustomed 
to the scene, the spectator gradually became aware of the 
presence of a numerous company, male and female, crowded 
round a long table : at the upper end of which, sat a chair- 
man with a hammer of office in his hand ; while a professional 
gentleman, with a bluish nose, and his face tied up for the 
benefit of a toothache, presided at a jingling piano in a 
remote corner. 

3d softly in, the professional gentleman, 
^s by way of prelude, occasioned a general 
ng ; which, having subsided, a young lady 
':ain the company with a ballad in four 
i of which the accompanyist played the 
as loud as he could. When this was 
gave a sentiment, after which, the pro- 
^n the chairman’s right and left volun- 
ng it, with great applause, 
observe some faces which stood out pro- 
^ the group. There was the chairman 
I of the house,) a coarse, rough, heavy 
ongs were proceeding, rolled his 
Br, Beming to give himself up to 

for 


As Fagin , 
running over t 
cry of order fo 
proceeded to 
verses, betweei 
melody all th: 
over, the chai: 
fessional gentle 
teered a duet, . 

It was cimioi 
minently from 
himself, (the h 
built fellow, wh 
eyes hither and 
joviality, had an . for * nng that was done, and an 
ear for everything that was d sharp ones, too. Near 

him were the singers : receiving, professional indifference, 

the compliments of the compan) applying themselves, 

in turn, to a dozen proffered glas. spirits and water, 

tendered by their more boisterous an whose counte- 
nances, expressive of almost every vice in , every grade, 

irresistibly attracted the attention, by their epulsiveness. 

Cunning, ferocity, and drunkenness in all *:ages, were 
there, in their strongest aspects ; and womei. 
last lingering tinge of their early freshness « 
you looked : others with every mark and sta 
utterly beaten out, and presenting but one li 


with the 
%ding as 
cheir sex 
3 blank 


FAGIN AMONG HIS DEVOTED SERVANTS. 229 

of* profligacy and crime ; some mere girls, others but young 
women, and none past the prime of life ; formed the darkest 
and saddest portion of this dreary picture. 

Fagin, troubled by no grave emotions, looked eagerly from 
face to face while these proceedings were in progress; but 
apparently without meeting that oif which he was in search. 
Succeeding, at length, in catching the eye of the man who 
occupied the chair, he beckoned to him slightly, and left 
the room, as quietly as he had entered it. 

What can I do for you, Mr. Fagin ? **' inquired the man, 
as he followed him out to the landing. Won't you join 
us ? They'll be delighted, every one of 'em." 

The Jew shook his head impatiently, and said in a whisper, 

Is lie here ? " 

‘‘No," replied the man. 

“ And no news of Barney ? " inquired Fagin. 

“None," replied the landlord of the Cripples; for it was 
he. “ He won't stir till it's all safe. Depend on it, they're 
on the scent down there; and that if he moved, he'd blow 
upon the thing at once. He's all right enough, Barney is, 
else I should have heard of him. I'll pound it, that Barney's 
managing properly. Let him alone for that." 

“Will he be here to-night.^" asked the Jew, laying the 
same emphasis on the pronoun as before. 

“ Monks, do you mean ? " inquired the landlord, hesitating. 

“ Hush ! " said the Jew. “ Yes." 

“Certain," replied the man, drawing a .gold watch from 
his fob ; “ I expected him here before now. If you'll wait 
ten minutes, he'll be " 

“No, no," said the Jew, hastily; as though, however 
desirous he might be to see the person in question, he was 
nevertheless relieved by his absence. “Tell him I came here 
to see him; and that he must come to me to-night. No, 
say to-morrow. As he is not here, to-morrow will be time 
enough." 

“ Good ! " said the man. “ Nothing more ? " 


230 


OLIVER TOIST. 


a word now,’’ said the Jew, descending the stairs. 

I say,’^ said the other, looking over the rails, and speaking 
in a hoarse whisper ; what a time this would be for a sell ! 
IVe got Phil Barker here : so drunk, that a boy might take 
him.’’ 

Aha ! But it’s not Phil Barker’s time,” said the Jew, 
looking up. ^^Phil has something more to do, before we 
can afford to part with him; so go back to the company, 
my dear, and tell them to lead merry lives — ivliile they last 
Ha! ha! ha!” 

The landlord reciprocated the old man’s laugh ; and returned 
to his guests. The Jew was no sooner alone, than his 
countenance resumed its former expression of anxiety and 
thought. After a brief reflection, he called a hack cabriolet, 
and bade the man drive towards Bethnal Green. He dismissed 
him within some quarter of a mile of Mr. Sikes’s residence, 
and performed the short remainder of the distance, on foot. 

Now,” muttered the Jew, as he knocked at the door, if 
there is any deep play here, I shall have it out of you, my 
girl, cunning as you are.” 

She was in her room, the woman said. Fagin crept softly 
up stairs, and entered it without any previous ceremony. 
The girl was alone ; lying with her head upon the table, and 
her hair straggling over it. 

^•^She has been drinking,” thought the Jew, coolly, ‘‘or 
perhaps she is only miserable.” 

The old man turned to close the door, as he made this 
reflection; the noise thus occasioned, roused the girl. She 
eyed his crafty face narrowly, as she inquired whether there 
was any news, and as she listened to his recital of Toby 
Crackit’s story. W'hen it was concluded, she sank into her 
former attitude, but spoke not a word. She pushed the candle 
impatiently away ; and once or twice as she feverishly changed 
her position, shuffled her feet upon the ground ; but this was all. 

During the silence, the Jew looked restlessly about the room, 
as if to assure himself that there were no appearances of Sikes 


NANCY AND FAGIN. 


231 


having covertly ret irned. Apparently satisfied with his inspec- 
tion, he coughed tw ice or thrice, and made as many efforts to 
open a conversation ; but the girl heeded him no more than 
if he had been matle of stone. At length he made another 
attempt ; and rubbing his hands together, said^ in his most 
conciliatory tone, 

And where should you think Bill was now, my dear?'"’’ 

The girl moaned out some half intelligible reply, that she 
could not tell; and seemed, from the smothered noise that 
escaped her, to be crying. 

^^And the boy, too,**" said the Jew, straining his eyes to 
catch a glimpse of her face. Poor leetle child ! Left in 
a ditch, Nance ; only think ! 

^‘The child,’’’ said the girl, suddenly looking up, ^^is better 
where he is, than among us; and if no harm comes to Bill 
from it, I hope he lies dead in the ditch, and that his young 
bones may rot there.” 

‘^What!” cried the Jew, in amazement. 

^^Ay, I do,” returned the girl, meeting his gaze. shall 
be glad to have him away from my eyes, and to know that 
the worst is over. I can’t bear to have him about me. The 
sight of him turns me against myself, and all of you.” 

“Pooh!” said the Jew, scornfully. “You’re drunk.” 

“ Am I ? ” cried the girl, bitterly. “ It’s no fault of yours, 
if I am not ! You’d never have me anything else, if you had 
your win, except now ; — the humour doesn’t suit you, doesn’t 

k?” 

“No!” rejoined the Jew, furiously. “It does not.” 

“ Change it, then ! ” responded the girl, with a laugh. 

“Change it!” exclaimed the Jew, exasperated beyond all 
bounds by his companion’s unexpected obstinacy, and the 
vexation of^^le night, “I will change it! Listen to me, 
you drab. Listen to me, who with six words, can strangle 
Sikes as surely Bs if I had his bull’s throat between my fingers 
now. If he ccmes back, and leaves the boy behind him ; if 
he gets off free , and dead or alive, fails to restore him to me ; 


OLIVER TWIST. 






murder him yourself if you would hare^ him escape Jack 
Ketch. And do it the moment he sets in this room, or 
mind me, it will be too late ! 

What is all this ? cried the girl involuntarily. 

^^What is it.^’*" pursued Fagin, mad /with rage. ‘‘When 
the boy’s worth hundreds of pounds to me, am I to lose 
what chance threw me in the way of getting safely, through 
the whims of a drunken gang that I could whistle away the 
lives of! And me bound, too, to a born devil that only 
wants the will, and has the power to, to ” 

Panting for breath, the old man stammered for a word; 
and in that instant checked the torrent of his wrath, and 
changed his whole demeanour. A moment before, his clenched 
hands had grasped the air ; his eyes had dilated ; and his face 
grown livid with passion ; but now, he shrunk into a chair, 
and, cowering together, trembled with the apprehension of 
having himself disclosed some hidden villany. After a short 
silence, he ventured to look round at his companion. He 
appeared somewhat reassured, on beholding her in the same 
listless attitude from which he had first roused her. 

“ Nancy, dear ! ” croaked the Jew, in his usual voice. “ Did 
you mind me, dear ? ” 

“ Don’t worry me now, Fagin 1 ” replied the girl, raising 
her head languidly. “ If . Bill has not done it this time, he 
will another. He has done many a good job for you, ^nd 
will do many more when he can ; and when he can’t he weii*’t ; 
so no more about that.” 

“Regarding this boy, my dear?” said the Jew, rubbing 
the palms of his hands nervously together. 

“The boy must take his chance witl liie resv,” interrupted 
Nancy, hastily; “and I say again, I hope is 'read, and 
out of harm’s way, and out of yours, — chat is Bij! comes 
to no harm. And if Toby got clear off, Bill s pretty suie 
to be safe; for Bill’s worth two of Tob} any t; rtu.’" 

“And about what I was saying, my deal ^ o served the 
Jew, keeping his glistening eye steadily ui on - 


FAGIN RETURNS HOME, 


233 


“ You must say it all over again, if it’s anything you want 
me to do,” rejoined Nancy; ‘‘and if it is, you had better 
wait till to-morrow. You put me up for a minute; but 
now I’m stupid again.” 

Fagin put several other questions : all with the same drift 
of ascertaining whether the girl had profited by his unguarded 
hints ; but, she answered them so readily, and was withal so 
utterly unmoved by his searching looks, that his original 
impression of her being more than a trifle in liquor, was 
confirmed. Nancy, indeed, was not exempt from a failing 
which was very common among the Jew’s female pupils ; 
and in which, in their tenderer years, they were rather 
encouraged than checked. Her disordered appearance, and a 
wholesale perfume of Geneva which pervaded the apartment, 
afforded strong confirmatory evidence of the justice of the 
Jew’s supposition ; and when, after indulging in the temporary 
display of violence above described, she subsided, first into 
dulness, and afterwards into a compound of feelings : under 
the influence of which she shed tears one minute, and in the 
next gave utterance to various exclamations of “Never say 
die !” and divers calculations as to what might be the amount 
of the odds so long as a lady or gentleman was happy, Mr. 
Fagin, who had had considerable experience of such matters 
in his time, saw, with great satisfaction, that she was very 
far gone indeed. 

Having eased his mind by this discovery; and having 
accomplished his twofold object of imparting to the girl 
what he had, that night, he J, and of ascertaining, with his 
own eyes, that Sikes had jRumed^ Mr. Fagin again turned 
his face homeward: lea J^his young friend asleep, with her 
head upon the table. 

It was within an hour of midnight. The weather being 
dark, and piercing cold, he had no great temptation to loiter. 
The sharp wind that scoured the streets, seemed to have 
cleared them of passengers, as of dust and mud, for few people 
were abroad, and they were to all appearance hastening fast 


234 ^ 


OLIVER TWIST. 


home. It blew from the right quarter for the Jew, however, 
and straight before it he went : trembling, and shivering, as 
every fresh gust drove him rudely on his way. 

He had reached the corner of his own street, and was 
already fumbling in his pocket for the door-key, when a 
dark figure emerged from a projecting entrance which lay 
in deep shadow, and, crossing the road, glided up to him 
unperceived. 

Fagin ! whispered a voice close to his ear. 

Ah ! said the Jew, turning quickly round, is that ’’’’ 

“Yes!’’ interrupted the stranger. “I have been lingering 
here these two hours. Where the devil have you been ? ” 

“On your business, my dear,” replied the Jew, glancing 
uneasily at his companion, and slackening his pace as he 
spoke. “ On your business all night.” 

“ Oh, of course ! ” said the stranger, with a sneer, “ W ell ; 
and what’s come of it ? ” 

“ Nothing good,” said the Jew. 

“ Nothing bad, I hope ? ” said the stranger, stopping short, 
and turning a startled look on his companion. 

The Jew shook his head, and was about to reply, when 
the stranger, interrupting him, motioned to the house, before 
which they had by this time arrived : remarking, that he had 
better say what he had got to say, under cover : for his blood 
was chilled with standing about so long, and the wind blew 
through him. 

Fagin looked as if he could have willingly excused himself 
from taking home a visitor # hat unseasonable hour ; and, 
indeed, muttered something ai^t having ifo fire; but his 
companion repeating his request^n a peremptory manner, 
he unlocked the door, and requested him to close it softly, 
w^hile he got a light. 

“ It’s as dark as the grave,” said the man, groping forward 
a few steps. “ Make haste ! ” 

“ Shut the door,” whispered Fagin from the end of. the 
passage. As he spoke, it closed with a loud noise. 


MONKS. 


235 


“That wasn't my doing,'' said the other man, feeling his 
way. “ The wind blew it to, or it shut of its own accord : 
one or the other. Look sharp with the light, or I shall 
knock my brains out against something in this confounded 
hole." 

Fagin stealthily descended the kitchen stairs. After a 
short absence, he returned with a lighted candle, and the 
intelligence that Toby Crackit was asleep in the back room 
below, and that the boys were in the front one. Beckoning 
the man to follow him, he led the way up stairs. 

“We can say the few words we've got to say in here, my 
dear," said the Jew, throwing open a door on the first floor; 
“and as there are holes in the shutters, and we never show 
lights to our neighbours, we'll set the candle on the stairs. 
There!" 

With those words, the Jew, stooping down, placed the 
candle on an upper flight of stairs, exactly opposite to the 
room door. This done, he led the way. into the apartment ; 
which was destitute of all moveables save a broken arm- 
chair, and an old couch or sofa without covering, which 
stood behind the door. Upon this piece of furniture, the 
stranger sat himself with the air of a weary man ; and the 
Jew, drawing up the arm-chair opposite, they sat face to 
face. It was not quite dark ; the door was partially open ; 
and the candle outside, threw a feeble reflection on the opposite 
wall. 

They conversed for some time in whispers. Though nothing 
of the conversation was distinguishable beyond a few disjointed 
words here and there, a listener might easily have perceived 
that Fagin appeared to be defending himself against some 
remarks of the stranger ; and that the latter was in a state of 
considerable irritation. They might have been talking, thus, 
for a quarter of an hour or more, when Monks — by which 
name the Jew had designated the strange man several times 
in the course of their colloquy — said, raising his voice a 
little, 


236 


OLIVER TWIST. 


^^I tell you again, it was badly planned. Why not have 
kept him here among the rest, and made a sneaking, snivelling 
pickpocket of him at once ? 

Only hear him ! ’’ exclaimed the Jew, shrugging his 
shoulders. 

‘^Why, do you mean to say you couldn’t have done it, if 
you had chosen ? ” demanded Monks, sternly. Haven’t you 
done it, with other boys, scores of times? If you had had 
patience for a twelvemonth, at most, couldn’t you have got 
^^lim convicted, and sent safely out of the kingdom ; perhaps 
for life?” 

“ Whose turn would that have served, my dear ? ” inquired 
the Jew humbly. 

^^Mine,” replied Monks. 

‘‘But not mine,” said the Jew, submissively. “He might 
have become of use to me. When there are two parties to 
a bargain, it is only reasonable that the interests of both 
should be consulted ; is it, my good friend ? ” 

“ What then ? ” demanded Monks. 

“I saw it was not easy to train him to the business,” 
replied the Jew; “he was not like other boys in the same 
circumstances.” 

“ Curse him, no ! ” muttered the man, “ or he w ould have, 
been a thief, long ago.”* 

“I had no hold upon him to make him worse,” pursued 
the Jew, anxiously watching the countenance of his companion. 
“ His hand was not in. I had nothing to frighten him with ; 
which we always must have in the beginning, or we labour 
in vain. What could I do ? Send him out with the Dodger 
and Charley ? W e had enough of that, at first, my dear ; 
I trembled for us all.” 

. “ That was not my doing,” observed Monks. 

“ No, no, my dear ! ” renewed the Jew. “ And I don’t 
quaiTel with it now ; because, if it had never happened, you 
might never have clapped eyes upon the boy to notice him, 
and so led to the discovery that it was him you rere looking 


A FANCY OR A GHOST? 237 

for. Well ! I got him back for you by means of the girl ; 
and then she begins to favour him."’ 

Throttle the girl ! ” said Monks, impatiently. 

‘‘Why, we can’t afford to do that just now, my dear,” 
replied the Jew, smiling; “and, besides, that sort of thing 
is not in our way; or, one of these days, I might be glad 
to have it done. I know what these girls are. Monks, well. 
As soon as the boy begins to harden, she’ll care no more 
for him, than for a block of wood. You want him made a 
thief. If he is alive, I can make him one from this time; 
and if — if — ” said the Jew, drawing nearer to the other, — 
“it’s not likely, mind, — but if the worst comes to the worst, 
and he is dead — ” 

“ It’s no fault of mine if he is ! ” interposed the other 
man, with a look of terror, and clasping the Jew’s arm with 
trembling hands. “ Mind that, Fagin ! I had no hand in 
it. Anything but his death, I told you from the first. I 
won’t shed blood ; it’s always found out, and haunts a man 
besides. If they shot him dead, I was not the cause ; do you 
hear me ? Fire this infernal den ! What’s that ? ” 

“What!” cried the Jew, grasping the coward round the 
body, with both arms, as he sprung to his feet. “ Where ? ” 

“ Yonder ! ” replied the man, glaring at the opposite wall. 
“ The shadow ! I saw the shadow of a woman, in a cloak 
and bonnet, pass along the wainscot like a breath ! ” 

The Jew released his hold, and they rushed tumultuously 
from the room. The candle, wasted by the draught, was 
standing where it had been placed. It showed them only 
the empty staircase, and their own white faces. They 
listened intently : a profound silence reigned throughout the 
house. 

“ It’s your fancy,” said the Jew, taking up the light and 
turning to his companion. 

“ I’ll swear I saw it ! ” replied Monks, trembling. “ It was 
bending forward when I saw it first; and when I spoke, it 
darted away.” 


OLIVER TW^IST. 


238 

The Jew glanced contemptuously at the pale face of his 
associate, and, telling him he could follow, if he pleased, 
ascended the stairs. They looked into all the rooms ; they 
were cold, bare, and empty. They descended into the 
passage, and thence into the cellars below. The green damp 
hung upon the low walls; the tracks of the snail and slug 
glistened in the light of the candle; but all was still as death. 

What do you think now ? ^ said the Jew, when they had 
regained the passage. ‘‘ Besides ourselves, there’s not a 
creature in the house except Toby and the boys ; and they’re 
safe enough. See here ! ” 

As a proof of the fact, the Jew drew forth two keys from 
his pocket; and explained, that when he first went down 
stairs, he had locked them in, to prevent any intrusion on 
the conference. 

This accumulated testimony eflPectually staggered Mr. Monks. 
His protestations had gradually become less and less vehement 
as they proceeded in their search without making any dis- 
covery; and, now, he gave vent to several very grim laughs, 
and confessed it could only have been his excited imagination. 
He declined any renewal of the conversation, however, for 
that night : suddenly remembering that it was past one 
o’clock. And so the amiable couple parted. 



CHAPTER XXVII. 

ATONES FOR THE UNPOLITENESS OF A FORMER CHAPTER ; WHICH 
DESERTED A LADY, MOST UNCEREMONIOUSLY. 

As it would be, by no means, seemly in a humble author to 
keep so mighty a personage as a beadle waiting, with his 
back to the fire, and the skirts of his coat gathered up under 
his arms, until such time as it might suit his pleasure to 
relieve him ; and as it would still less become his station, or 
his gallantry to involve in the same neglect a lady on whom 
that beadle had looked with an eye of tenderness and alFection, 
and in whose ear he had whispered sweet words, which, 
coming from such a quarter, might well thrill the bosom of 
maid or matron of whatsoever degree; the historian whose 
pen traces these words — trusting that he knows his place, 
and that he entertains a becoming reverence for those upr 
earth to whom high and important authority is delee* 
hastens to pay them that respect which their position 
and to treat them with all that duteous ceremon’^ 
exalted rank, and (by consequence) great virtu 
claim at his hands. Towards this end, indeed, " 
to introduce, in this place, a dissertation tc 
right of beadles, and elucidative of the posi 
can do no wrong : which could not fail 
pleasurable and profitable to the right-r 
which he is ui^ifortunately compelled, by 
space, to postpone to some more com 


240 


OLIVER TWIST. 


[Opportunity; on the arrival of which,! he will be prepared to 
show, that a beadle properly constituted : that is to say, a 
parochial beadle, attached to a parochial workhouse, and 
attending in his official capacity the parochial church : is, in 
right and virtue of his office, possessed of all the excellences 
and best qualities of humanity; and that to none of those 
excellences, can mere companies'^ beadles, or court-of-law 
beadles, or even chapel-of-ease beadles (save the last, and 
they in a very lowly and inferior degree), lay the remotest 
sustainable claim. 

Mr. Bumble had re-counted the tea-spoons, re-weighed the 
sugar-tongs, made a closer inspection of the milk-pot, and 
ascertained to a nicety the exact condition of the furniture, 
down to the very horse-hair seats of the chairs; and had 
repeated each process full half-a-dozen times ; before he began 
to think that it was time for Mrs. Corney to return. Thinking 
begets thinking; as there were no sounds of Mrs. Corney's 
approach, it occurred to Mr. Bumble that it would be an 
innocent and virtuous way of spending the time, if he were 
further to allay his curiosity by a cursory glance ''t the interior 
pf Mrs. Corney'^s chest of drawers. 


Having listened at the keyhole, to i 

himself that 

nobody was approaching the chamber, Mr. 

le, beginning 

at the bottom, proceeded to make himst 

uainted with 

*^he contents of the three long drawers : 

. being filled 

various garments of good fashion an< 

re, carefully 

^ between two layers of old ne 

rs, speckled 

vender : seemed to yield him < 

ng satisfac- 

in course of time, at the 

land corner 

h was the key), and b 

^ therein a 

Sox, which, being shat 

^e forth a 

of the chinking of 

[r. Bumble 

ely walk to the firep] 

1, resuming 

, with a grave and d 

i air, ‘^ril 

d up this remarkah 

ration, by 

a waggish manner f 

linutes, as 


MRS. CORNEY IN DISTRESS. 


though he were remonstrating with himself for being such a 
pleasant dog ; and then, he took a view of his legs in profile, 
with much seeming pleasure and interest. 

He was still placidly engaged in this latter survey, when 
Mrs. Corney, hurrying into the room, threw herself, in a 
breathless state, on a chair by the fireside, and covering her 
eyes with one hand, placed the other over her heart, and 
gasped for breathy 

Mrs. Corney ,^said Mr. Bumble, stooping over the matron, \ 
what is this, ma’am ? Has an^hing happened, ma’am ? ^ 
Pray answer me ; I’m on — on- — ” (Mr. Bumble, in his alarm, 
could not immediately think of the word tenter-hooks,” so 
he said r broken bottles.” , 

Mr. Bumble ! ” | cried the lady) I have been so 
dreadfully put out ! ” ^ ^ 

Put out, ma’am ! ” exclaimed Mr. Bumble ; “ who has 
dared to — ? I know ! ” (^aid Mr. Bumble, checking himself, 
with native majesty^^ this is them wicious paupers!” 

“ It’s dreadful to think of ! ” said the lady, shuddering. 

^^Then cloii’t think of it, ma’am,” rejoined Mr. Bumble. 

I can’t help it,” whimpered the lady. 

Then take something, ma’am,” said Mr. Bumble soothingly. 
“A little of the wine.^” 

‘‘ Not for the world ! ” replied Mrs. Corney. I couldn’t, — 
oh ! The top shelf in the right-hand corner — oh !” ^Uttering 
these words, the good lady pointed, distractedly, to the 
cupboard, and underwent a convulsion from internal spasms.^ 
Mr. Bumble rushed to the closet; and, snatching a pint 
green-glass bottle from the shelf thus incoherently indicated, 
filled a tea-cup with its contents, and held it to the lady’s 
lips. 

^^I’m better now,” said Mrs. Corney, falling back, after 
drinking half of it. 

Mr. Bumble raised his eyes piously to the ceiling in thank- 
fulness; and, bringing them 4pwn again to the brim of the 
cup, lifted it to bis nose. 


R 


2 


OLIVER TWIST. 


Peppermintv exclaimed Mrs. Corney, in a faint voice, 
smiling gently on the beadle as she spoke.y “Try it! 
There’s a little — a little something else in it.” 

Mr. Bumble tasted the medicine with a doubtful look ; 
smacked his lips; took another taste ; and put the cup 
down empty. 

‘^It’s very comforting,” said Mrs. Corney. 

“Very much so indeed, ma’am, said the beadle. As he 
spoke, he drew a chair beside the matron, and tenderly 
inquired what had happened to distress her. 

“ Notliing,” replied Mrs. Corney. “ I am a foolish, excitable, 
weak creetur.” , " 

“Not weak, ma’am,” (retorted Mr. Bumble, drawing his 
chair a little closer. “ Are you a weak creetur, Mrs. 
Corney?” 

“We are all weak creeturs,” said Mrs. Corney, laying down 
a general principle. ^ 

“So we are,” said the beadle. • 

Nothing was said, on either side, for a minute or two 
afterwards. By the expiration of that time, Mr. Bumble 
had illustrated the position by removing his left arm from 
the back of Mrs. Corney’s chair, where it had previously 
rested, to Mrs. Corney’s apron-string, round which it gradually 
became entwined. 

“ We are all weak creeturs,” said Mr. Bumble. 

Mrs. Corney sighed. 

“Don’t sigh, Mrs. Corney,” said Mr. Bumble. 

“I can’t help it,” said Mrs. Corney. And she sighed again. . 

“ This is a very comfortable room, ma’am,” said Mr. Bumble, 
looking round. “Another room, and this, ma’am, would be 
a complete thing.” 

“It would be too much for one,” murmured the lady. J 

“But not for two, ma’am,” ^Tejoined Mr. Bumble, in soft 
accents. ; “ Eh, Mrs. Corney ? ” 

Mrs. Corney drooped her head, when the beadle said this; 
the beadle drooped his, to get a view of Mrs. Corney’s face. 


BUMBLE PROPOSES. 


Mrs. Coriiey, with great propriety, turned her head a.». 
and released her hand to get at her pocket-handkerchiex , 
but insensibly rej^laced it in that of Mr. Bumble. 

‘‘The board allow you coals, donT they, Mrs. Corney?"’ 
inquired the beadle, affectionately pressing her hand. 

“ And candles,"^ replied Mrs. Corney, slightly returning the 
pressure. ^ 

“Coals, candles, and house-rent free,"’ said Mr. Bumble. 
“ Oh, Mrs. Corney, what a Angel you are P’* 

The lady was not proof against this burst of feeling. She 
sank into Mr. Bumble’s arms ; and that gentleman in his 
agitation, imprinted a passionate kiss upon her chaste nose. 

“ Such porochial perfection ! ” exclaimed Mr. Bumble^ 
rapturously. “You know that Mr. Slout is worse to-night, 
my fascinator.^” 

“Yes,” replied Mrs. Corney, bashfully. 

“He can’t live a week, the doctor says,” pursued Mr. 
Bumble. “ He is the master of this establishment ; his death 
will cause a wacancy : that wacancy must be filled up. Oh, 
Mrs. Corney, what a prospect this opens ! What a opportu- 
nity for a jining of hearts and housekeepings ! ” 

Mrs. Corney sobbed. 

“ The little word ? ” said Mr. Bumble, bending over the 
bashful beauty. “The one little, little, little word, my 
blessed Corney ? ” 

“Ye — ye — ^yes!” sighed out the matron. 

“One more,” pursued the beadle; “compose your darling 
feelings for only one more. When is it to come off.^^” 

Mrs. Corney twice essayed to speak : and twice failed. At 
length summoning up courage, she threw her arms round 
Mr. Bumble’s neck, and said, it might be as soon as ever he 
pleased, and that he was “a irresistible duck.” 

Matters being thus amicably and satisfactorily arrAiged, 
the contract was solemnly ratified in another teacupful of 
the peppermint mixture ; which was rendered the more 
necessary, by the flutter and agitation of the lady’s spirits. 


OLIVER TWIST. 


ile it was being disposed of, she acquainted Mr. Bumble 
ith the old woman’s decease. 

^Wery good,” said that gentleman, sipping his peppermint; 
‘‘ ril call at Sowerberry’s as I go home, and tell him to send 
to-morrow morning. Was it that as frightened you, love.^” 
It wasn’t anything particular, dear,” said the lady, evasively. 

^^It must have been something, love,” urged Mr. Bumble. 

Won’t you tell your own B. ? ” 

“Not now,” rejoined the lady; “one of these days. After 
we’re married, dear.” 

“ After we’re married ! ” exclaimed Mr. Bumble. “ It wasn’t 
any impudence from any of them male paupers as ” 

“ No, no, love ! ” interposed the lady, hastily. 

“ If I thought it was,” continued Mr. Bumble ; “ if I thought 
as any one of ’em had dared to lift his voilgar eyes to that 
lovely countenance ” 

“They wouldn’t have dared to do it, love,” responded the 
lady. 

“ They had better not ! ” said Mr. Bumble, clenching his 
fist. “Let me see any man, porochial or extra-porochial, as 
would presume to do it ; and I can tell him that he wouldn^t 
do it a second time ! ” 

Unembellished by any violence of gesticulation, this might 
have seemed no very high compliment to the lady’s charms; 
but, as Mr. Bumble accompanied the threat with many warlike 
gestures, she was much touched with this proof of his devotion, 
and protested, with great admiration, that he was indeed a 
dove. 

The dove then turned up his coat-collar, and put on his 
cocked-hat; and, having exchanged a long and affectionate 
embrace with his future partner, once again braved the cold 
wind of the night : merely pausing, for a few minutes, in the 
male {)aupers’ ward, to abuse them a little, with the view of 
satisfying himself that he could fill the office of workhouse- 
master with needful acerbity. Assured of his qualifications, 
Mr. Bumble left the building with a light heart, and bright 


BUMBLE SCANDALIZED. 


visions of his future promotion : which served to occupy hi. 
mind until he reached the shop of the undertaker. 

Now, Mr. and Mrs. Sowerberry having gone out to tea 
and supper ; and Noah Claypole not being at any time 
disposed to take upon himself a greater amount of physical 
exertion than is necessary to a convenient performance of the 
two functions of eating and drinking, the shop was not closed, 
although it was past the usual hour of shutting-up, Mr. 
Bumble tapped with his cane on the counter several times ; 
but, attracting no attention, and beholding a light shining 
through the glass- window of the little parlour at the back 
of the shop, he made bold to peep in and see what was 
going forward; and when he saw what was going forward, 
he was not a little surprised. 

The cloth was laid for supper; the table was covered with 
bread and butter, plates and glasses; a porter-pot and a 
wine-bottle. At the upper end of the table, Mr. Noah 
Claypole lolled negligently in an easy-chair, with his legs 
thrown over one of the arms : an open clasp-knife in one 
hand, and a mass of buttered bread in the other. Close 
beside him stood Charlotte, opening oysters from a barrel : 
which Mr. Claypole condescended to swallow, with remarkable 
avidity. A more than ordinary redness in the region of the 
young ^entlemarfs nose, and a kind of fixed wink in his 
right eye, denoted that he was in a slight degree intoxicated ; 
these symptoms were confirmed by the intense relish with 
which he took his oysters, for which nothing but a strong 
appreciation of their cooling properties, in cases of internal 
fever, could have sufficiently accounted. 

“ Here’s a delicious fat one, Noah, dear ! ” said Charlotte ; 
‘Hry him, do; only this one.” 

What a delicious thing is a oyster ! ” remarked Mr. Clay- 
pole, after he had swallowed it. What a pity it is, a number 
of ’em should ever make you feel uncomfortable; isn’t it, 
Charlotte ” 

It’s quite a cruelty,” said Charlotte. 


a 


OLIVER TWIST. 


“So it is,*” acquiesced Mr. Claypole. “A"nt yer fond of 
oysters ? 

“Not overmuch,*” replied Charlotte. “I like to see you 
eat ’em, Noah dear, better than eating ’em myself.” 

“ Lor’ ! ” said Noah, reflectively ; “ how queer ! ” 

“ Have another,” said Charlotte. “ Here’s one with such 
a beautiful, delicate beard ! ” 

“I can’t manage any more,” said Noah. “I’m very sorry. 
Come here, Charlotte, and I’ll kiss yer.” 

“ What ! ” said Mr. Bumble, bursting into the room. 
“Say that again, sir.” 

Charlotte uttered a scream, and hid her face in her apron. 
Mr. Claypole, without making any further change in his 
])osition than suffering his legs to reach the ground, gazed 
at the beadle in drunken terror. 

“ Say it again, you wile, owdacious fellow ! ” said Mr. 
Bumble. “How dare you mention such a thing, sir? And 
how dare you encourage him, you insolent minx ? Kiss her ! ” 
exclaimed Mr. Bumble, in strong indignation. “ Faugh ! ” 

“ I didn’t mean to do it ! ” said Noah, blubbering. “ She’s 
always a-kissing of me, whether I like it, or not.” 

“Oh, Noah,” cried Charlotte, reproachfully. 

“Yer are; yer know yer are!” retorted Noah. “She’s 
always a-doin of it. Mr. Bumble, sir; she chucks me under 
the chin, please, sir ; and makes all manner of love ! ” 

“ Silence ! ” cried Mr. Bumble, sternly. “ Take yourself 
down stairs, ma’am. Noah, you shut up the shop ; say 
another word till your master comes home, at your peril; 
and, when he does come home, tell him that Mr. Bumble 
said he was to send a old woman’s shell after breakfast to- 
morrow morning. Do you hear, sir ? Kissing ! ” cried Mr. 
Bumble, holding up his hands. “The sin and wickedness 
of the lower orders in this porochial district is frightful ! 
If parliament don’t take their abominable courses under 
consideration, this country’s ruined, and the character of the 
peasantry gone for ever!” With these words, the beadle. 



4 



BUMBLE LEAVES THE UNDERTAKER’S. 247 


strode, with a lofty and gloomy air, from the undertaker’s 
premises. 

And now that we have accompanied him so far on his 
road home, and have made all necessary preparations for the 
old woman’s funeral, let us set on foot a few inquiries after 
young Oliver Twist, and ascertain whether he be still lying 
in the ditch where Toby Crackit left him. 


CHAPITER XXVIIL 

LOOKS AFfER OLIVER, AND PROCEEDS WITH HIS ADVENTURES. 

^‘Wolves tear your throats!’’ muttered Sikes, grinding his 
teeth. “ I wish I was among some of you ; you’d howl the 
hoarser for it.” 

As Sikes growled forth this imprecation, with the most 
desperate ferocity that his desperate nature was capable of, 
he rested the body of the wounded boy across his bended 
knee; and turned his head, for an instant, to look back at 
his pursuers. 

There was little to be made out, in the mist and darkness ; 
but the loud shouting of men vibrated through the air, and 
the barking of the neighbouring dogs, roused by the sound 
of the alarm bell, resounded in every direction. 

Stop, you white-livered hound ! ” cried the robber, 
shouting after Toby Crackit, who, making the best use of 
his long legs, was already ahead. “ Stop ! ” 

The repetition of the word, brought Toby to a dead stand- 
still. For he was not quite satisfied that he was beyond 
the range of pistol-shot; and Sikes was in no mood to be 
played with. 

“ Bear a hand with the boy,” cried Sikes, beckoning 
furiously to his confederate. Come back ! ” 

Toby made a show of returning; but ventured, in a low 
voice, broken for want of breath, to intimate considerable 
reluctance as he came slowly along. 

Quicker ! ” cried Sikes, laying the boy in a dry ditch at 


FLIGHT OF THE BURGLARS. 


fe^e 

booty , drawing a pistol from his pocket. ^M)on"t pliJ 
At 

Jookino'j^^^ moment the noise grew louder. Sikes, again 
chase w? could discern that the men who had given 

be stoolP^^ already climbing the gate of the field iri which 
advaj«aff^ ; and that a couple of dogs were some paces in 
ice of them. 

“It"s all up, Bill!"*' cried Toby; ‘‘drop the kid, and show 
"’em your heels."’ With this parting advice, Mr. Crackit, 
preferring the chance of being shot by his friend, to the 
certainty of being taken by his enemies, fairly turned tail, 
and darted off at full speed. Sikes clenched his teeth ; took 
one look around ; threw over the prostrate form of Oliver, 
the cape in which he had been hurriedly muffled; ran along 
the front of the hedge, as if to distract the attention of those 
behind, from the spot where the boy lay; paused, for a 
second, before another hedge which met it at right angles ; 
and whirling his pistol high into the air, cleared it at a 
bound, and was gone. 

“ Ho, ho, there ! ” cried a tremulous voice in the rear 
“ Fincher ! Neptune ! Come here, come here ! ” 

The dogs, who, in common with their masters, seemed to 
have no particular relish for the sport in which they were 
engaged, readily answered to the command. Three men, who 
had by this time advanced some distance into the field, 
stopped to take counsel together. 

“My advice, or, leastways, I should say, my orders^ is,” 
said the fattest man of the party, “that we "mediately go 
home again."" 

“I am agreeable to anything which is agreeable to Mr. 
Giles,"" said a shorter man ; who was by no means of a slim 
figure, and who was very pale in the face, and very polite ; 
as frightened men frequently are. 

“I shouldn"t wish to appear ill-mannered, gentlemen,"" said 
the third, who had called the dogs back, “Mr. Giles ought 
to know."" 


OLIVER TWIST. 


Certainly,*’*' replied the shorter man ; and whatver Mr. 
Giles says, it isn'^t our place to contradict him. no, I 
know my sitiwation ! Thank my stars, I know my sitivation.*” 
To tell the tmth, the little man did seem to kiow his 
situation, and to know perfectly well that it wasi by no 
means a desirable one ; for his teeth chattered in his head 
as he spoke. 

^‘You are afraid, Brittles,*^*’ said Mr. Giles. 

^‘^I a*’n*’t,*’*’ said Brittles. 

You are,*” said Giles. 

^‘YouVe a falsehood, Mr. Giles,^ said Brittles. 

YouVe a lie, Brittles,’’*’ said Mr. Giles. 

Now, these four retorts arose from Mr. Giles’s taunt; and 
Mr. Giles'’s taunt had arisen from his indignation at having 
the responsibility of going home again, imposed upon himself 
under cover of a compliment. The third man brought the 
dispute to a close, most philosophically. 

ril tell you what it is, gentlemen,’’’ said he, we’re all 
afraid.” 

Speak for yourself, sir,” said Mr. Giles, who was the 
palest of the party. 

‘^So I do,” replied the man. ‘^It’s natural and proper to 
be afraid, under such circumstances. I am.” 

^‘So am I,” said Brittles; ^^only there’s no call to tell a 
man he is, so bounceably.” 

These frank admissions softened Mr. Giles, who at once 
owned that he was afraid ; upon which, they all three faced 
about, and ran back again with the completest unanimity, 
until Mr. Giles (who had the shortest wind of the party, 
and was encumbered with a pitchfork) most handsomely 
insisted on stopping, to make an apology for his hastiness 
of speech. 

But it’s wonderful,” said Mr. Giles, when he had explained, 

what a man will do, when his blood is up. I should have 
committed murder — I know I should — if we’d caught one of 
them rascals.” 


AN ENCOUAGING conversation. 251 

As the other two Veixi impressed with a similar presenti- 
ment ; and as their bh^d, like his, had all gone down again ; 
some speculation ensue( upon the cause of this sudden change 
in their temperament. 

I know what it wah7 said Mr. Giles ; it was the gate. 

I shouldn’t wonder i' it was,” exclaimed Brittles, catching 
at the idea. ♦ 

“You may depend u)on, it,” said Giles, “that that gate 
stopped the flow ofxthe excitement. I felt all mine suddenly 
going away, as I wasf'vclin.bing over it.” 

By a remarkable coincid:;nc^, the other two had been visited 
with the same unpleasant .",ensation at that precise moment. 

It was quite obvious, therefcre, that it was the gate ; especially 
as there was no doubt regarding the time at which the change 
had taken place, because hll three , remembered that they had 
come in sight of the robbers at .the instant of its occurrence. 

This dialogue was held between the two men who had 
surprised the burglars, and a trs^velling tinker who had been 
sleeping in an outhouse, and-w^ho had been roused, together 
with his two mongrel curs, to jqm in the pursuit. Mr. Giles 
acted in the double capacity of butoer and steward to the old 
lady of the mansion ; Brittles was\ a lad of all-work : who, 
having entered her service a mere Vhild, was treated as a 
promising young boy still, though, l\e ^vas something past 
thirty. ♦ 

Encouraging each other with such col^erse as this; but, 
keeping very close together, notwithstanoSlm^? ^i^d looking 
apprehensively round, whenever a fresh gu^t through 

the boughs; the three men hurried back beMnd 

which they had left their lantern, lest its light §t^hld inform 
the thieves in what direction to fire. Catching UW febf? 
they made the best of their way home, at a good mpund ^rot; 
and long after their dusky forms had ceased to be ^iscerhible, 
the light might have been seen twinkling and danciwg 
distance, like some exhalation of the damp ahd^%Si^^^^^y 
atmosphere through which it was swiftly borne. 



must suw 
His keep 
drunkea r 
head 

onwara, 14 




OLIVER TWIS^' 


The air grew colder, as day came sli^'^lv on ; and the mist 
rolled along the ground like a densel^loud of smoke. The 
grass was wet ; the pathways, and loi^ places, were all mire 
and water ; the damp breath of an ifcH ^p lesome wind went 
languidly by, with a hollow Oliver lay 

motionless and insensible on the sj^t wl^re Sikes had left 
him. 

Morning drew on apace. Thc^^ bfe^ne more sharp and 
piercing, as its first dull hue — ^the^ de^fh of night, rather 
than the birth of day — ^glimnm*ed htW^tly in the sky. The 
objects which had looked dii^^and terrible in the darkness, 
grew more and more defined, and gradually resolved into their 
familiar shapes. The rain iamer deWn, thick and fast, and 
pattered noisily among th^-leafes'^bushes. But, Oliver felt 
it not, as it beat against, himi^ w he still lay stretched, 
helpless and unconscious, dn hi^' l^d of clay. 

At length, a low cry of pi|^n broke the stillness that 
prevailed ; and uttering it^^ tih^ boy awoke. His left arm, 
rudely bandaged in a shawl^' tong heavy and useless at his 
side : the bandage w§s saf/jl^ted with blood. He was so 
weak, that he coukf scan^ely raise himself into a sitting 
posture; when he l^d (ilo^ so, he looked feebly round for 
help, and groaned <witjri -p4in. Trembling in every joint, 
from cold and exhadltiy&n? i^e made an effort to stand upright ; 
but, shuddering fl!6M h«&d to foot, fell prostrate on the 
ground. j ^ 

After a /shcfrkil^tu^P'of the stupor in which he had been 
so long plmgej^^liver : urged by a creeping sickness at his 
heart, wl^ch |Cemed to warn him that if he lay there, he 
die : got upon his feet, and essayed to walk, 
as / dizzy, and he staggered to and fro like a 
in./ But he kept up, nevertheless, and, with his 
languidly on his breast, went stumbling 
ew not whither. 

lowz hosts of bewildering and confused ideas came 
cro\yK^ing his mind. He seemed to be still walking 


OLIVER SEES A HOUSE. 


253 


between Sikes and Crackit, who were angrily disputing — for 
the very words they said, sounded in his ears; and when he 
caught his own attention, as it were, by making some violent 
effort to save himself from falling, he found that he was 
talking to them. Then’, he was alone with Sikes, plodding 
on as on the previous day; and as shadowy people passed 
them, he felt the robber’s grasp upon his wrist. Suddenly, 
he started back at the report of fire-arms; there rose into 
the air, loud cries and shouts ; lights gleamed before his eyes ; 
all was noise and tumult, as some unseen hand bore him 
hurriedly away. Through all these rapid visions, there ran 
an undefined, uneasy consciousness of pain, which wearied and 
tormented him incessantly. 

Thus he staggered on, creeping, almost mechanically, 
between the bars of gates, or through hedge-gaps as they 
came in his way, until he reached a road. Here the rain 
began to fall so heavily, that it roused him. 

He looked about, and saw that at no great distance there 
was a house, which perhaps he could reach. Pitying his 
condition, they might have compassion on him; and if they 
did not, it would be better, he thought, to die near human 
beings, than in the lonely open fields. He summoned up all 
his strength for one last trial, and bent his faltering steps 
towards it. 

As he drew nearer to this house, a feeling came over him 
that he had seen it before. He remembered nothing of its 
details; but the shape and aspect of the building seemed 
familiar to him. 

That garden wall ! On the grass inside, he had fallen on 
his knees last night, and prayed the two men’s mercy. It 
was the very house they had attempted to rob. 

Oliver felt such fear come over him when he recognised 
the place, that, for the instant, he forgot the agony of his 
wound, and thought only of flight. Flight ! He could 
scarcely stand : and if he were in full possession of all the 
best powers of his slight and youthful frame, whither could 


254 


OLIVER TWIST. 


he fly ? He pushed against the garden-gate ; it was unlocked, 
and swung open on its hinges. He tottered across the lav/n ; 
climbed the steps; knocked faintly at the door; and, his 
whole strength failing him, sunk down against one of the 
pillars of the little portico. 

It happened that about this time, Mr. Giles, Brittles, and 
the tinker, were recruiting themselves, after the fatigues and 
terrors of the night, with tea and sundries, in the kitchen. 
Not that it was Mr. Gileses habit to admit to too great 
familiarity the humbler servants : towards whom it was rather 
his wont to deport himself with a lofty affability, which, 
while it gratified, could not fail to remind them of his 
superior position in society. But, death, fires, and burglary, 
make all men equals ; so Mr. Giles sat with his legs stretched 
out before the kitchen fender, leaning his left arm on the 
table, while, with his right, he illustrated a circumstantial 
and minute account of the robbery, to which his hearers (biit 
especially the cook and housemaid, who were of the party) 
listened with breathless interest. 

‘Ht was about half-past two,*” said Mr. Giles, or I 
wouldn'^t swear that it mightn't have been a little nearer 
three, when I woke up, and, turning round in my bed, as it 
might be so, (here Mr. Giles turned round in his chair, and 
pulled the corner of the table-cloth over him to imitate bed- 
clothes,) I fancied I heerd a noise." 

At this point of the narrative the cook turned pale, a 
asked the housemaid to shut the door : who asked Britt 
who asked the tinker, who pretended not to hear. 

— Heerd a noise," continued Mr. Giles. I says, at f 
^This is illusion;' and was composing myself off to 
when I heerd the noise again, distinct." 

What sort of a noise ? " asked the cook. 

kind of a busting noise," replied Mr. Giles, 1 
round him. 

More like the noise of powdering a iron bar on a ] 
grater," suggested Brittles. 


MR. GILES’S ACCOUNT OF THE BURGLARY. 255 


It was, when you heerd it, sir,’" rejoined Mr. Giles ; but, 
at this time, it had a busting sound. I turned down the 
clothes;” continued Giles, rolling back the table-cloth, ^‘sat 
up in bed ; and listened.” 

The cook and housemaid simultaneously ejaculated ‘^Lor!” 
and drew their chairs closer together. 

‘‘I heerd it now, quite apparent,” resumed Mr. Giles. 
“ ^ Somebody,’ I says, ^ is forcing of a door, or window ; what\s 
to be done ? Fll call up that poor lad, Brittles, and 
save him from being murdered in his bed ; or his throat,’ I 
says, ^ may be cut from his right ear to his left, without his 
ever knowing it.’” 

Here, all eyes were turned upon Brittles, who fixed his 
upon the speaker, and stared at him, with his mouth wide 
open, and his face expressive of the most unmitigated 
horror. 

‘^I tossed off the clothes,” said Giles, throwing away the 
table-cloth, and looking very hard at the cook and housemaid, 
got softly out of bed ; drew on a pair of — ” 

Ladies present, Mr. Giles,” murmured the tinker. 

« — Of slioes^ sir,” said Giles, turning upon him, and laying 
great emphasis on the word ; seized the loaded pistol that 
always goes up stairs with the plate-basket; and walked on 
tiptoes to his room. ^ Brittles,’ I says, when I had woke him, 
^ don’t be frightened ! ’ ” 

‘^So you did,” observed Brittles, in a low voice. 

« 6 We’re dead men, I think, Brittles,’ I says,” continued 
Giles ; * but don’t be frightened.’ ” 

Was he frightened ? ” asked the cook. 

Not a bit of it,” replied Mr. Giles. He was as firm — 
ah ! pretty near as firm as I was.” 

I should have died at once, I’m sure, if it had been me,” 
observed the housemaid. 

“You’re a woman,” retorted Brittles, plucking up a little. 

“Brittles is right,” said Mr. Giles, nodding his head, ap- 
provingly; “from a woman, nothing else was to be expected. 


256 


OLIVER TWIST. 


We, being men, took a dark lantern that was standing on 
Brittles’s hob, and groped our way down stairs in the pitch 
dark, — as it might be so.’*’ 

Mr. Giles had risen from his seat, and taken two steps 
with his eyes shut, to accompany his description with appro- 
priate action, when he started violently, in common with the 
rest of the company, and hurried back to his chair. The 
cook and housemaid screamed. 

It was a knock,"’ said Mr. Giles, assuming perfect serenity. 
Open the door, somebody.” 

Nobody moved. 

It seems a strange sort of a thing, a knock coming at 
such a time in the morning,” said Mr. Giles, surveying the 
pale faces which surrounded him, and looking very blank 
himself; ^^but the door must be opened. Do you hear, 
somebody ? ” 

Mr. Giles, as he spoke, looked at Brittles; but that young 
man, being naturally modest, probably considered himself 
nobody, and so held that the inquiry could not have any 
application to him; at all events, he tendered no reply. 
Mr. Giles directed an appealing glance at the tinker; but 
he had suddenly fallen asleep. The women were out of the 
question. 

If Brittles would rather open the door, in the presence 
of witnesses,” said Mr. Giles, after a short silence, “I am 
ready to make one.” 

So am I,” said the tinker, waking up, as suddenly as he 
had fallen asleep. 

Brittles capitulated on these terms; and the party being 
somewhat re-assured by the discovery (made on throwing open 
the shutters) that it was now broad day, took their way up 
stairs; with the dogs in front. The two women, who were 
afraid to stay below, brought up the rear. By the advice of 
Mr. Giles, they all talked very loud, to warn any evil-disposed 
person outside, that they were strong in numbers; and by a 
master-stroke of policy, originating in the brain of the same 





OLIVER IS BRAVELY CAPTURED. 257 

ingenious gentleman, the dogs‘‘ tails were well pinched, in 
the hall, to make them bark savagely. 

These precautions having been taken, Mr. Giles held on 
fast by the tinker’s arm (to prevent his running away, as he 
pleasantly said), and gave the word of command to open the 
door. Brittles obeyed ; the group, peeping timorously over 
each other’s shoulders, beheld no more formidable object than 
poor little Oliver Twist, speechless and exhausted, who raised 
his heavy eyes, and mutely solicited their compassion. 

A boy ! ” exclaimed Mr. Giles, valiantly pushing the 
tinker into the background. “What’s the matter with the 
— eh — Why — Brittles — look here — don’t you know ? ” 

Brittles, who had got behind the door to open it, no sooner 
saw Oliver, than he uttered a loud cry. Mr. Giles, seizing 
the boy by one leg and one arm (fortunately not the broken 
limb) lugged him straight into the hall, and deposited him 
at full length on the floor thereof. 

“ Here he is ! ” bawled Giles, calling, in a state of great 
excitement, up the staircase; “here’s one of the thieves, 
ma’am ! Here’s a thief, miss ! Wounded, miss ! I shot him, 
miss; and Brittles held the light.” 

“ — In a lantern, miss,” cried Brittles, applying one hand 
to the side of his mouth, so that his voice might travel the 
better. 

The two women-servants ran up stairs to carry the intelli- 
gence that Mr. Giles had captured a robber; and the tinker 
busied himself in endeavouring to restore Oliver, lest he 
should die before he could be hanged. In the midst of all 
this noise and commotion, there was heard a sweet female 
voice, which quelled it in an instant. 

“ Giles ! ” whispered the voice from the stair-head. 

“ I’m here, miss,” replied Mr. Giles. “ Don’t be frightened, 
miss ; I ain’t much injured. He didn’t make a very desperate 
resistance, miss ! I was soon too many for him.” 

“ Hush ! ” replied the young lady ; “ you frighten my aunt 
as much as the thieves did. Is the poor creature much hurt ? ” 


258 


OLIVER TWIST. 


Wounded desperate, replied Giles, with indescribable 
complacency 

‘‘He looks as if he was a-going, miss,^ bawled Brittles, 
in the same manner as before. “ WouldnT you like to come 
and look at him, miss, in case he should ! 

“Hush, pray; there’s a good man!” rejoined the lady. 
“ Wait quietly only one instant, while I speak to aunt.” 

With a footstep as soft and gentle as the voice, the speaker 
tripped away. She soon returned, with the direction that 
the wounded person was to be carried, carefully, up stairs 
to Mr. Giles’s room ; and that Brittles was to saddle the 
pony and betake himself instantly to Chertsey : from which 
place, he was to despatch, with all speed, a constable and 
doctor. 

“ But won’t you take one look at him, first, miss ? ” asked 
Mr. Giles, with as much pride as if Oliver were some bird 
of rare plumage, that he had skilfully brought dowm. “Not 
one little peep, miss.^” 

“ Not now, for the world,” replied the young lady. “ Poor 
fellow ! Oh ! treat him kindly, Giles, for my sake ! ” 

The old servant looked up at the speaker, as she turned 
away, with a glance as proud and admiring as if she had 
been his own child. Then, bending over Oliver, he helped to 
carry him up stairs, with the care and solicitude of a woman. 


CHAPTER XXIX. 


HAS AN INTRODUCTORY ACCOUNT OF THE INMATOS OF THE HOUSE, 
TO WHICH OLIVER RESORTED. 

In a handsome room : though its furniture had rather the 
air of old-fashioned comfort, than of modem elegance : there 
sat two ladies at a well-spread breakfast-table. Mr. Giles, 
dressed with scrupulous care in a full suit of black, was in 
attendance upon them. He had taken his station some half- 
way between the sideboard and the breakfast-table; and, 
with his body drawn up to its full height, his head thrown 
back, and inclined the merest trifle on one side, his left leg 
advanced, and his right hand thrust into his waistcoat, while 
his left hung down by his side, grasping a waiter, looked 
like one who laboured under a very agreeable sense of his 
own merits and importance. 

Of the two ladies, one was well advanced in years; but 
the high-backed oaken chair in which she sat, was not more 
upright than she. Dressed with the utmost nicety and 
precision, in a quaint mixture of by-gone costume, with some 
slight concessions to the prevailing taste, which rather served 
to point the old style pleasantly than to impair its effect, 
she sat, in a stately manner, with her hands folded on the 
table before her. Her eyes (and age had dimmed but little 
of their brightness) were attentively fixed upon her young 
companion. 

The younger lady was ip the lovely bloom and spring-time 


260 


OLIVER TWIST. 


of womanhood ; at that age, when, if ever angels be for 
God‘’s good purposes enthroned in mortal forms, they may 
be, without impiety, supposed to abide in such as hers. 

She was not past seventeen. Cast in so slight and exquisite 
a mould; so mild and gentle; so pure and beautiful; that 
earth seemed not her element, nor its rough creatures her fit 
companions. The very intelligence that shone in her deep 
blue eye, and was stamped upon her noble head, seemed 
scarcely of her age, or of the world ; and yet the changing 
expression of sweetness and good humour, the thousand 
lights that played about the face, and left no shadow there ; 
above all, the smile, the cheerful, happy smile, were made 
for Home, and fireside peace and happiness. 

She was busily engaged in the little offices of the table. 
Chancing to raise her eyes as the elder lady was regarding 
her, she playfully put back her hair, which was simply 
braided on her forehead; and threw into her beaming look, 
such an expression of affection and artless loveliness, that 
blessed spirits might have smiled to look upon her. 

And Brittles has been gone upwards of an hour, has he ? ’’’ 
asked the old lady, after a pause. 

“An hour and twelve minutes, ma'^am,"" replied Mr. Giles, 
referring to a silver watch, which he drew forth by a black 
ribbon. 

“ He is always slow,’’ remarked the old lady. 

“ Brittles always was a slow boy, ma’am,” replied the 
attendant. And seeing, by-the-by, that Brittles had been a 
slow boy for upwards of thirty years, there appeared no great 
probability of his ever being a fast one. 

“ He gets worse instead of better, I think,” said the elder 
lady. 

“ It is very inexcusable in him if he stops to play with any 
other boys,” said the young lady, smiling. 

Mr. Giles was apparently considering the propriety of 
indulging in a respectful smile himself, when a gig drove 
up to the garden gate : out of which there jumped a fat 


THE DOCTOR ARRIVES. 


aei 


gentlenican, who ran straight up to the door: and who, 
getting quickly into the house by some mysterious process, 
burst into the room, and nearly overturned Mr. Giles and 
the breakfast-table together. 

I never heard of such a thing ! exclaimed the fat gentle- 
man. “My dear Mrs. Maylie — bless my soul — in the silence 
of night, too — I never heard of such a thing ! 

With these expressions of condolence, the fat gentleman 
shook hands with both ladies, and draw ing up a chair, inquired 
how they found themselves. 

“You ought to be dead; positively dead with the fright,"’ 
said the fat gentleman. “ Why didn’t you send Bless me, 
my man should have come in a minute ; and so would I ; and 
my assistant would have been delighted; or anybody. I’m 
sure, under such circumstances. Dear, dear ! So unexpected ! 
In the silence of night, too ! ” 

The doctor seemed especially troubled by the fact of the 
robbery having been unexpected, and attempted in the night- 
time; as if it were the established custom of gentlemen in 
the housebreaking way to transact business at noon, and to 
make an appointment, by post, a day or two previous. 

“And you, Miss Rose,” said the doctor, turning to the 
young lady, “ I ” 

“ Oh ! very much so, indeed,” said Rose, interrupting him ; 
“but there is a poor creature up stairs, whom aunt wishes 
you to see.” 

“ Ah ! to be sure,” replied the doctor, “ so there is. That 
was your handiwork, Giles, I understand.” 

Mr. Giles, who had been feverishly putting the tea-cups to 
rights, blushed very red, and said that he had had that honour. 

“ Honour, eh ? ” said the doctor ; “ well, I don’t know ; 
perhaps it’s as honourable to hit a thief in a back kitchen, 
as to hit your man at twelve paces. Fancy that he fired in 
the air, and you’ve fought a duel, Giles.” 

Mr. Giles, who thought this light treatment of the matter 
an unjust attempt at diminishing his glory, answered 


OLIVER TWIST. 


5262 

respectfully, that it was not for the like of him to judge 
about that; but he rather thought it was no joke to the 
opposite party. 

Gad that’s true ! ” said the doctor. Where is he ? 
Show me the way. I’ll look in again, as I come down, Mrs. 
Maylie. That’s the little window that he g'ot in at, eh? 
Well, I couldn’t have believed it ! ” 

Talking all the way, he followed Mr. Giles up stairs; and 
while he is going up stairs, the reader may be informed, that 
Mr. Losberne, a surgeon in the neighbourhood, known through 
a circuit of ten miles round as ^^the doctor,” had grown fat, 
more from good-humour than from good living : and was as 
kind and hearty, and withal as eccepjtric an old bachelor, as 
will be found in five times that space, by any explorer alive. 

The doctor was absent, much longer than either he or the 
ladies had anticipated. A large flat box was fetched out of 
the gig; and a bed-room bell was rung very often; and 
the servants ran up and down stairs perpetually; from which 
tokens it was justly concluded that something important was 
going on above. At length he returned ; and in reply to an 
anxious inquiry after his patient, looked very mysterious, 
and closed the door, carefully. 

^^This is a very extraordinary thing, Mrs. Maylie,” said 
the doctor, standing with his back to the door, as if to keep 
it shut. 

“He is not in danger, I hope?” said the old lady. 

“Why, that would not be an extraordinary thing, under 
the circumstances,” replied the doctor ; “ though I don’t 
think he is. Have you seen this thief?” 

“No,” rejoined the old lady. 

“Nor heard anything about him?” 

“No.” 

“I beg your pardon, ma’am,” interposed Mr. Giles; “but 
I was going to tell you about him when Doctor Losberne 
came in.” 

The fact was, that Mr. Giles had not, at first, been able 


CONDITIOxV OF THE PATIENT. 


9SS 

to bring his mind to the avowal, that he had only shot a 
boy. Such commendations had been bestowed upon his 
bravery, that he could not, for the life of him, help postponing 
the explanation for a few delicious minutes; during which 
he had flourished, in the very zenith of a brief reputation 
for undaunted courage. 

“ Rose wished to see the man,*'’’ said Mrs, May lie, but I 
wouldn't hear of it." 

Humph!" rejoined the doctor. “There is nothing very 
alarming in his appearance. Have you any objection to see 
him in my presence 

“ If it be necessary," replied the old lady, “ certainly not." 

“Then I think it is necessary," said the doctor; “at all 
events, I am quite sure that you would deeply regret not 
having done so, if you postponed it. He is perfectly quiet 
and comfortable now. Allow me — Miss Rose, will you permit 
me ? Not the slightest fear, I pledge you my honour ! " 


CHAPTER XXX. 

RELATES WHAT OLIVEr’s NEW VISITORS THOUGHT OF HIM. 

With many loquacious assurances that they would be agree- 
ably surprised in the aspect of the criminal, the doctor drew 
the young lady’s arm through one of his ; and offering his 
disengaged hand to Mrs. Maylie, led them, with much 
ceremony and stateliness, up stairs. 

‘‘Now,” said the doctor, in a whisper, as he softly turned 
the handle of a bedroom-door, “let us hear what you think 
of him. He has not been shaved very recently, but he don’t 
look at all ferocious notwithstanding. Stop, though ! Let 
me first see that he is in visiting order.” 

Stepping before them, he looked into the room. Motioning 
them to advance, he closed the door when they had entered ; 
and gently drew back the curtains of the bed. Upon it, in 
lieu of the dogged, black-visaged ruffian they had expected 
to behold, there lay a mere child : worn with pain and 
exhaustion, and sunk into a deep sleep. His wounded arm, 
bound and splintered up, was crossed upon his breast; his 
head reclined upon the other arm, which was half hidden by 
his long hair, as it streamed over the pillow. 

The honest gentleman held the curtain in his hand, and 
looked on for a minute or so, in silence. Whilst he was 
watching the patient thus, the younger lady glided softly 
past, and seating herself in a chair by the bedside, gathered 
Oliver's hair from his face. As she stooped over him, her 
tears fell upon his forehead. 


(3LIVER^S np:w visitors. 


265 


The boy stirred, and smiled in his sleep, as though these 
marks of pity and compassion had awakened some pleasant 
dream of a love and affection he had never known. Thus, a 
strain of gentle music, or the rippling of water in a silent 
place, or the odour of a flower, or the mention of a familiar 
word, will sometimes call up sudden dim remembrances of 
scenes that never were, in this life ; which vanish like a breath ; 
which some brief memory of a happier existence, long gone by, 
would seem to have awakened; which no voluntary exertion 
of the mind can ever recall. 

“ What can this mean ? exclaimed the elder lady. This 
poor child can never have been the pupil of robbers ! 

^Wice,’^ sighed the surgeon, replacing the curtain, takes 
up her abode in many temples; and who can say that a 
fair outside shall not enshrine her.^^*” 

But at so early an age ! ’’ urged Rose. 

‘‘My dear young lady,’’’ rejoined the surgeon, mournfully 
shaking his head ; “ crime, like death, is not confined to the 
old and withered alone. The youngest and fairest are too 
often its chosen victims.” 

“ But, can you — oh ! can you really believe that this 
delicate boy has been the voluntary associate of the worst 
outcasts of society ? ” said Rose. 

The surgeon shook his head, in a manner which intimated 
that he feared it was very possible; and observing that they 
might disturb the patient, led the way into an adjoining 
apartment. ^ 

“But even if he has been wicked,” pursued Rose, “think 
how young he is; think that he may never have known a 
mother’s love, or the comfort of a home; that ill-usage and 
blows, or the want of bread, may have driven him to herd 
with men who have forced him to guilt. Aunt, dear aunt, 
for mercy’s sake, think of this, before you let them drag 
this sick child to a prison, which in any case must be the 
grave of all his chances of amendment. Oh ! as you love 
me, and know that I have never felt the want of parents in 


266 


OLIVER TWIST. 


your goodness and affection, but that I might have done so, 
and might have been equally helpless and unprotected with 
this poor child, have pity upon him before it is too late ! "" 

^^My dear love,” said the elder lady, as she folded the 
weeping girl to her bosom, “do you think I would harm a 
hair of his head ? ” 

“ Oh, no ! ” replied Rose, eagerly. 

“ No, surely,” said the old lady ; “ my days are drawing to 
their close ; and may mercy be shown to me as I show it to 
others ! What can I do to save him, sir ? ” 

“ Let me think, ma^am,” said the doctor ; “ let me think.” 

Mr. Losbeme thrust his hands into his pockets, and took 
several turns up and down the room ; often stopping, and 
balancing himself on his toes, and frowning frightfully. After 
various exclamations of “ Fve got it now ” and “ no, I haveff t,” 
and as many renewals of the walking and frowning, he at 
length made a dead halt, and spoke as follows : 

“I think if you give me a full and unlimited commission 
to bully Giles, and that little boy, Brittles, I can manage it. 
Giles is a faithful fellow and an old servant, I know; but 
you can make it up to him in a thousand ways, and reward 
him for being such a good shot besides. You don’t object 
to that ? 

“Unless there is some other way of preserving the child,” 
replied Mrs. Maylie. 

“ There is no other,” said the doctor. “ No other, take my 
word for it.” 

“Then my aunt invests you with full power,” said Rose, 
smiling through her tears ; “ but pray don’t be harder upon 
the poor fellows than is indispensably necessary.” 

“You seem to think,” retorted the doctor, “that everybody 
is disposed to be hard-hearted to-day, except yourself. Miss 
Rose. I only hope, for the sake of the rising male sex 
generally, that you may be found in as vulnerable and soft- 
hearted a mood by the first eligible young fellow who appeals 
to your compassion ; and I wish I were a young fellow, that I 


THE DOCTOR PRESCRIBES. 2G7 

might avail myself, on the spot, of such a favourable oppor- 
tunity for doing so, as the present.*” 

“You are as great a boy as poor Brittles himself,*” returned 
Rose, blushing. 

“Well,*” said the doctor, laughing heartily, “that is no 
very difficult matter. But to return to this boy. The great 
point of our agreement is yet to come. He will wake in an 
hour or so, I dare say ; and although I have told that thick- 
headed constable-fellow down stairs that he mustn't be moved 
or spoken to, on peril of his life, I think we may converse 
with him without danger. Now I make this stipulation — 
that I shall examine him in your presence, and that, if, from 
what he says, we judge, and I can show to the satisfaction 
of your cool reason, that he is a real and thorough bad one 
(which is more than possible), he shall be left to his fate, 
without any farther interference on my part, at all events.'** 

“ Oh no, aunt ! " entreated Rose. 

“ Oh yes, aunt ! " said the doctor. “ Is it a bargain ? '' 

“He cannot be hardened in vice," said Rose; “It is 
impossible." 

“Very good," retorted the doctor; “then so much the 
more reason for acceding to my proposition." 

Finally the treaty was entered into ; and the parties there- 
unto sat down to wait, with some impatience, until Oliver 
should awake. 

The patience of the two ladies was destined to undergo a 
longer trial than Mr. Losberne had led them to expect; for 
hour after hour passed on, and still Oliver slumbered heavily. 
It was evening, indeed, before the kind-hearted doctor brought 
them the intelligence, that he was at length sufficiently 
restored to be spoken to. The boy was very ill, he said, 
and weak from the loss of blood; but his mind was so 
troubled with anxiety to disclose something, that he deemed 
it better to give him the opportunity, than to insist upon 
his remaining quiet until next morning : which he should 
otherwise have done. 


OLIVER TWIST. 


268 ‘ 

The conference was a long one. Oliver told them all his 
simple history, and was often compelled to stop, by pain 
and want of strength. It was a solemn thing, to hear, in 
the darkened room, the feeble voice of the sick child recount- 
ing a weary catalogue of evils and calamities which hard 
men had brought upon him. Oh ! if when we oppress and 
grind our fellow-creatures, we bestowed but one thought on 
the dark evidences of human error, which, like dense and 
heavy clouds, are rising, slowly it is true, but not less surely, 
to Heaven, to pour their after- vengeance on our heads ; if we 
heard but one instant, in imagination, the deep testimony 
of dead menu’s voices, which no power can stifle, and no pride 
shut out; where would be the injury and injustice, the 
suffering, misery, cruelty, and wrong, that each day’s life 
brings with it ! 

Oliver’s pillow was smoothed by gentle hands that night; 
and loveliness and virtue watched him as he slept. He felt 
calm and happy, and could have died without a murmur. 

The momentous interview was no sooner concluded, and 
Oliver composed to rest again, than the doctor, after wiping 
his eyes, and condemning them for being weak all at once, 
betook himself down stairs to open upon Mr. Giles. And 
finding nobody about the parlours, it occurred to him, that 
he could perhaps originate the proceedings with better effect 
in the kitchen ; so into the kitchen he went. 

There were assembled, in that lower house of the domestic 
parliament, the women-servants, Mr. Brittles, Mr. Giles, the 
tinker (who had received a special invitation to regale himself 
for the remainder of the day, in consideration of his services), 
and the constable. The latter gentleman had a large staff*, 
a large head, large features, and large half-boots; and he 
looked as if he had been taking a proportionate allowance 
of ale — as indeed he had. 

The adventures of the previous night were still under 
discussion ; for Mr. Giles was expatiating upon his presence 
of mind, when the doctor entered ; Mr. Brittles, with a mug 


ACTION OF . THE REMEDIES. 269 

of ale in his hand, was corroborating everything, before his 
superior said it. 

Sit still ! ’’ said the doctor, waving his hand. 

Thank you, sir,*” said Mr. Giles. ‘^Misses wished some 
ale to be given out, sir ; and as I felt no ways inclined for 
niy own little room, sir, and was disposed for company, I am 
taking mine among ’em here.’** 

Brittles headed a low murmur, by which the ladies and 
gentlemen generally were understood to express the gratifica- 
tion they derived from Mr. Giles’s condescension. Mr. Giles 
looked round with a patronising air, as much as to say 
that so long as they behaved properly, he would never 
desert them. 

How is the patient to-night, sir ? ” asked Giles. 

‘‘ So-so ; ” returned the doctor. “ I am afraid you have got 
yourself into a scrape there, Mr. Giles.” 

‘‘I hope you don’t mean to say, sir,” said Mr. Giles, 
trembling, ‘Hhat he’s going to die. If I thought it, I 
should never be happy again. I wouldn’t cut a boy off : 
no, not even Brittles here : not for all the plate in the 
county, sir.” 

‘‘That’s not the point,” s^id the doctor, mysteriously. 
“Mr. Giles, are you a Protestant.^” 

“Yes, sir, I hope so,” faltered Mr. Giles, who had turned 
very pale. 

“ And what^are boy ? ” said the doctor, turning sharply 
upon Brittles. 

“ Lord bless me, sir ! ” replied Brittles, starting violently ; 
“I’m — the same as Mr. Giles, csir.” 

“ Then tell me this,” said the doctor, “ both of you, both 
of you ! Are you going to take upon yourselves to swear, 
that that boy up stairs is the boy that was put through the 
little window last night ? Out with it ! Come ! We are 
prepared for you ! ” 

The doctor, who was universally considered one of the 
best-tempered creatures on earth, made this demand in such a 


OLIVER 7 ST, 


S70 

dreadful tone of anger, that ( and Brittles, who were 
considerably muddled by ale a xcitement, stared at each 
other in a state of stupefaction 

“Pay attention to the repl 3 nstable, will you?’’ said 
the doctor, shaking his foref ; with great solemnity of 
manner, and tapping the b 3 of his nose with it, to 
bespeak the exercise of th; worthy’s utmost acuteness, 
“Something may come of thif ore long.” 

The constable looked as wi s he could, and took up his 

staff of office: which had I, 1 reclining indolently in the 

chimney-corner. 

“It’s a simple question of identity, you will observe,” said 
the doctor. 

“That’s what it is, sir,” replied the constable, coughing 
with great violence ; for he had finished his ale in a hurry, 
and some of it had gone the wrong way. 

“Here’s a house broken into,” said the doctor, “and a 
couple of men catch one moment’s glimpse of a boy, in the 
midst of gunpowder-smoke, and in all the distraction of 
alarm and darkness. Here’s a boy comes to that very same 
house, next morning, and because he happens to have his 
arm tied up, these men lay violent hands upon him — by 
doing which, they place his life in great danger — and swear 
he is the thief. Now, the question is, whether these men 
are justified by the fact; if not, in what situation do they 
place themselves?” 

The constable nodded profoundly. He said, if that wasn’t 
law, he would be glad to know what was. 

“ I ask you again,” thundered the doctor, “ are you, on your 
solemn oaths, able to identify that boy ? ’ 

Brittles looked doubtfully at Mr. Giles ; Mr. Giles looked 
doubtfully at Brittles; the constable put his hand behind 
his ear, to catch the reply; the two women and the tinker 
leaned forward to listen ; the doctor glanced keenly round ; 
when a ring was heard at the gate, and at the same moment, 
the sound of wheels. 


ARRIVAL OF BOW STREET OFFICERS. 271 

“ It’s the runners ! ” cried Brittles, to all appearance much 
relieved. 

“The what?" exclaimed the doctor, aghast in his turn. 

“The Bow Street officers, sir," replied Brittles, taking up 
a candle ; “ me and Sir. Giles sent for ’em this morning." 

“What?" cried the doctor. 

“Yes," replied Brittles; “I sent a message up by the 
coachman, and I only wonder they weren’t here before, sir." 

“\ou did, did you? Then confound your — slow coaches 
down here ; that’s all," said the doctor, walking away. 


CHAPTER XXXL 


INVOLVES A CRITICAL POSITION. 

Who’s that ? ” inquired Brittles, opening the door a little 
way, with the chain up, and peeping out, shading the candle 
with his hand. 

Open the door,” replied a man outside ; it’s the officers 
from Bow Street, as was sent to, to-day.” 

Much comforted by this assurance, Brittles opened the 
door to its full width, and confronted a portly man in a 
great-coat ; who walked in, without saying anything more, 
and wiped his shoes on the mat, as coolly as if he lived 
there. 

^^Just send somebody out to relieve my mate, will you, 
young man ? ” said the officer ; he’s in the gig, a-minding 
the prad. Have you got a coach ’us here, that you could 
put it up in, for five or ten minutes.^” 

Brittles replying in the affirmative, and pointing out the 
.building, the portly man stepped back to the garden-gate, 
and helped his companion to put up the gig : while Brittles 
lighted them, in a state of great admiration. This done, 
they returned to the house, and, being shown into a parlour, 
took off their great-coats and hats, and showed like what 
they were. 

The man who had knocked at the door, was a stout 
personage of middle height, aged about fifty : with shiny 
black hair, cropped pretty close ; half-whiskers, a round face, 


I 


PROCEEDINGS OF BLATHERS AND DUFF. 273 


and sharp eyes. The other was a red-headed, bony man, in 
top-boots ; with a rather ill-favoured countenance, and a 
turned-up sinister-looking nose. 

‘^Tell your governor that Blathers and Duff is here, will 
you?’’ said the stouter man, smoothing down his hair, and 
laying a pair of handcuffs on the table. Oh ! Good evening, 
master. Can I have a word or two with you in private, if 
you please?” 

This was addressed to Mr. Losberne, who now made his 
appearance ; that gentleman, motioning Brittles to retire, 
brought in the two ladies, and shut the door. 

This is the lady of the house,” said Mr. Losberne, motion- 
ing towards Mrs. Maylie. 

Mr. Blathers made a bow. Being desired to sit down, he 
put his hat on the floor, and taking a chair, motioned Duff 
to do the same. The latter gentleman, who did not appear 
quite so much accustomed to good society, or quite so much 
at his ease in it — one of the two — seated himself, after 
undergoing several muscular affections of the limbs, and 
forced the head of his stick into his mouth, with some 
embarrassment. 

‘^Now, with regard to this here robbery, master,” said 
Blathers. ‘^What are the circumstances?” 

Mr. Losberne, who appeared desirous of gaining time, 
recounted them at great length, and with much circum- 
locution. Messrs. Blathers and Duff* looked very knowing 
meanwhile, and occasionally exchanged a nod. 

can’t say, for certain, till I see the work, of course,” 
said Blathers ; “ but my opinion at once is, — I don’t mind 
committing myself to that extent, — that this wasn’t done 
by a yokel; eh. Duff?” 

“Certainly not,” replied Duff. 

“And, translating the word yokel for the benefit of the 
ladies, I apprehend your meaning to be, that this attempt 
was not made by a countryman?” said Mr. Losberne, with 
a smile. 


T 


274 OLIVER TW^IST. 

‘^Thaf^s it, master,"’ replied Blathers. “This is all about 
the robbery, .is it?” 

“ All,” replied the doctor. 

“Now, what is this, about this here boy that the servants 
are a- talking on ? ” said Blathers. 

“ Nothing at all,” replied the doctor. “ One of the frightened 
servants chose to take it into his head, that he had something 
to do with this attempt to break into the house; but it’s 
nonsense : sheer absurdity.” 

“ Wery easy disposed of, if it is,” remarked Duff. 

“ What he says is quite correct,” observed Blathers, nodding 
his head in a confirmatory way, and playing carelessly with 
the handcuffs, as if they were a pair of castanets. “ Who is 
the boy ? What account does he give of himself ? Where 
did he come from? He didn’t drop out of the clouds, did 
he, master?” 

“ Of course not,” replied the doctor, with a nervous glance 
at the two ladies. “ I know his whole history : but we can 
talk about that presently. You would like, first, to see the 
place where the thieves made their attempt, I suppose ? ” 

“Certainly,” rejoined Mr. Blathers. “We had better 
inspect the premises first, and examine the servants arterwards.» 
That’s the usual way of doing business.” 

Lights were then procured ; and Messrs. Blathers and 
Duff, attended by the native constable, Brittles, Giles, and 
everybody else in short, went into the little room at the 
end of the passage and looked out at the window; and 
afterwards went round by way of the lawn, and looked in 
at the window ; and after that, had a candle handed out to 
inspect the shutter with ; and after that, a lantern to trace 
the footsteps with; and after that, a pitchfork to poke the 
bushes with. This done, amidst the breathless interest of all 
beholders, they came in again ; and Mr. Giles and Brittles 
were put through a melodramatic representation of their share 
in the previous night’s adventures : which they performed 
some six times over : contradicting each other, in not more 


THE DOCTOR’S OPINION. 


275 


than one important respect, the first time, and in not more 
than a dozen the last. This consummation being arrived at, 
Blathers and Duff cleared the room, and held a long council 
together, compared with which, for secrecy and solemnity, 
a consultation of great doctors on the knottiest point in 
medicine, would be mere child’s play. 

Meanwhile, the doctor walked up and down the next room 
in a very uneasy state ; and Mrs. Maylie and Rose looked 
on, with anxious faces. 

Upon my word,” he said, making a halt, after a great 
number of very rapid turns, ^^I hardly know what to do.” 

“ Surely,” said Rose, the poor child’s story, faithfully 
repeated to these men, will be sufficient to exonerate him.” 

I doubt it, my dear young lady,” said the doctor, shaking 
his head. I don’t think it would exonerate him, either with 
them, or with legal functionaries of a higher grade. What 
is he, after all, they would say ? A run-away. Judged by 
mere worldly considerations and probabilities, his story is a 
very doubtful one.” 

“You believe it, surely.^” inteiTupted Rose. 

“ I believe it, strange as it is ; and perhaps I may be an 
old fool for doing so,” rejoined the doctor; “but I don’t 
think it is exactly the tale for a practised police-officer, 
nevertheless.” 

“Why not.^” demanded Rose. 

“ Because, my pretty cross-examiner,” replied the doctor : 
“because, viewed with their eyes, there are many ugly points 
about it ; he can only prove the parts that look ill, and 
none of those that look well. Confound the fellows, they 
will have the why and the wherefore, and will take nothing 
for granted. On his own showing, you see, he has been the 
companion of thieves for some time past ; he has been 
carried to a police-office, on a charge of picking a gentleman’s 
pocket; he has been taken away, forcibly, from that gentle- 
man'^s house, to a place which he cannot describe or point 
out, and of the situation of which he has not the remotest 


276 


OLIVER TWIST. 


idea. He is brought down to Chertsey, by men who seem 
to have taken a violent fancy to him, whether he will or no ; 
and is put through a window to rob a house ; and then, just 
at the very moment when he is going to alarm the inmates, 
and so do the very thing that would set him all to rights, 
there rushes into the way, a blundering dog of a half-bred 
butler, and shoots him ! As if on purpose to prevent his 
doing any good for himself ! Don't you see all this ? " 

^^I see it, of course," replied Rose, smiling at the doctors 
impetuosity ; “ but still I do not see anything in it, to 
criminate the poor child." 

No," replied the doctor ; of course not ! Bless the 
bright eyes of your sex ! They never see, whether for good 
or bad, more than one side of any question ; and that is, 
always, the one which first presents itself to them." 

Having given vent to this result of experience, the doctor 
put his hands into his pockets, and walked up and down the 
room with even greater rapidity than before. 

^^The more I think of it," said the doctor, “the more I 
see that it will occasion endless trouble and difficulty if we 
put these men in possession of the boy's real story. I am 
certain it will not be believed ; and even if they can do 
nothing to him in the end, still the dragging it forward, and 
giving publicity to all the doubts that will be cast upon it, 
must interfere, materially, with your benevolent plan of 
rescuing him from misery." 

“ Oh ! what is to be done ? " cried Rose. “ Dear, dear ! 
why did they send for these people ? " 

“ Why, indeed ! " exclaimed Mrs. Maylie. “ I would not 
have had them here, for the world." 

“ All I know is," said Mr. Losberne, at last : sitting 
down with a kind of desperate calmness, “ that we must 
try and carry it off with a bold face. The object is a good 
one, and that must be our excuse. The boy has strong 
symptoms of fever upon him, and is in no condition to be 
talked to any more ; that's one comfort. We must make 


ANECDOTE OF MR, CONKEY CHICKWEED. 279 

man with a black patch over his eye, who had concealed 
himself under the bed, and after committing the robbery, 
jumped slap out of the window : which was only a story 
high. He was wery quick about it. But Conkey was quick, 
too ; for he was woke by the noise, and darting out of bed, 
he fired a blunderbuss arter him, and roused the neighbour- 
hood. They set up a hue-and-cry, directly, and when they 
came to look about ‘’em, found that Conkey had hit the 
robber ; for there was traces of blood, all the way to some 
palings a good distance off ; and there they lost ’em. How- 
ever, he had made off with the blunt ; and, consequently, 
the name of Mr. Chickweed, licensed witler, appeared in the 
Gazette among the other bankrupts ; and all manner of 
benefits and subscriptions, and I don’t know what all, was 
got up for the poor man, who was in a wery low state of 
mind about his loss, and went up and down the streets, for 
three or four days, a pulling his hair off in such a desperate 
manner that many people was afraid he might be going to 
make away with himself. One day he come up to the office, 
all in a hurry, and had a private interview with the magistrate, 
who, after a deal of talk, rings the bell, and orders Jem 
Spyers in (Jem was a active officer), and tells him to go and 
assist Mr. Chickweed in apprehending the man as robbed his 
house. ^ I see him, Spyers,’ said Chickweed, ^ pass my house 
yesterday morning.’ ^ Why didn’t you up, and collar him ! ’ 
says Spyers. ^ I was so struck all of a heap, that you might 
have fractured my skull with a toothpick,’ says the poor man ; 
‘ but we’re sure to have him ; for between ten and eleven 
o’clock at night he passed again.’ Spyers no sooner heard 
this, than he put some clean linen and a comb, in his pocket, 
in case he should have to stop a day or two ; and away he 
goes, and sets himself down at one of the public-house 
windows behind the little red curtain, with his hat on, all 
ready to bolt out, at a moment’s notice. He was smoking 
his pipe here, late at night, when all of a sudden Chickweed 
roars out ^Here he is! Stop thief! Murder!’ Jem Spyers 


280 


OLIVER TWIST. 


dashes out; and there he sees Chickweed, a-tearing down the 
street full cry. Away goes Spyers ; on goes Chickweed ; 
round turns the people ; everybody roars out, ^ Thieves ! ’ and 
Chickweed himself keeps on shouting, all the time, like mad. 
Spyers loses sight of him a minute as he turns a corner; 
shoots round ; sees a little crowd ; dives in ; ‘ Which is the 
man ? ’ ‘ D — me ! ’ says Chickweed, ^ IVe lost him again ! 

It was a remarkable occurrence, but he warn’t to be seen 
nowhere, so they went back to the public-house. Next 
morning, Spyers took his old place, and looked out, from 
behind the curtain, for a tall man with a black patch over 
his eye, till his own two eyes ached again. At last, he 
couldn’t help shutting ’em, to ease ’em a minute ; and the 
very moment he did so, he hears Chickweed a-roaring out, 
‘ Here he is ! ’ Off he starts once more, with Chickweed half- 
way down the street ahead of him; and after twice as long 
a run as the yesterday’s one, the man’s lost again ! This 
was done, once or twice more, till one-half the neighbours 
gave out that Mr. Chickweed had been robbed by the devil, 
who w'as playing tricks with him arterwards ; and the other 
half, that poor Mr. Chickweed had gone mad with grief.” 

^‘What did Jem Spyers say.^^” inquired the doctor: who 
had returned to the room shortly after the commencement of 
the story. 

‘‘Jem Spyers,” resumed the officer, “for a long time said 
nothing at all, and listened to everything without seeming 
to, which showed he understood his business. But, one 
morning, he walked into the bar, and taking out his snuff- 
box, says, ‘ Chickweed, I’ve found out who done this here 
robbery.’ ‘ Have you ? ’ said Chickweed. ‘ Oh, my dear 
Spyers, only let me have wengeance, and I shall die contented ! 
Oh, my dear Spyers, where is the villain ! ’ ‘ Come ! ’ said 

Spyers, offering him a pinch of snuff, ‘ none of that gammon ! 
You did it yourself.’ So he had ; and a good bit of money 
he had made by it, too ; and nobody would never liave 
found it ouL if he hadn’t been so precious anxious to keep 


MR. GILES IN A MUDDLE. 


281 


up appearances ! said Mr. Blathers, putting down his wine- 
glass, and clinking the handcuffs together. 

^‘Very curious, indeed,*” observed the doctor. ^^Now, if 
you please, you can walk up stairs.*” 

If you please, sir,***" returned Mr. Blathers. Closely 
following Mr. Losberne, the two officers ascended to Oliver's 
bedroom ; Mr. Giles preceding the party, with a lighted 
candle. 

Oliver had been dozing ; but looked worse, and was more 
feverish than he had appeared yet. Being assisted by the 
doctor, he managed to sit up in bed for a minute or so ; 
and looked at the strangers without at all understanding 
what was going forward — in fact, without seeming to recollect 
where he was, or what had been passing. 

^^This,*’*’ said Mr. Losberne, speaking softly, but with great 
vehemence notwithstanding, this is the lad, wffio, being 
accidentally wounded by a spring-gun in some boyish trespass 
on Mr. What-d'^y e-call -him's grounds, at the back here, 
comes to the house for assistance this morning, and is 
immediately laid hold of and mal-treated, by that ingenious 
gentleman with the candle in his hand : who has placed his 
life in considerable danger, as I can professionally certify.*’*’ 

Messrs. Blathers and Duff looked at Mr. Giles, as he was 
thus recommended to their notice. The bewildered butler 
gazed from them towards Oliver, and from Oliver towards 
Mr. Losberne, with a most ludicrous mixture of fear and 
perplexity. 

‘‘You don't mean to deny that, I suppose.^" said the 
doctor, laying Oliver gently down again. 

“It was all done for the — for the best, sir.^^" answered 
Giles. “I am sure I thought it was the boy, or I wouldn't 
have meddled with him. I am not of an inhuman disposition, 
sir." 

“ Thought it was what boy ? " inquired the senior officer. 

“ The housebreaker's boy, sir ! " replied Giles. “ They — 
they certainly had a boy.*^' 


283 


OLIVER TW. 


^^Well? Do you think so now?’’ inquired Blathers. 

Think what, now?” replied Giles, looking vacantly at 
his questioner. 

Think it’s the same boy. Stupid-head ?” rejoined Blathers, 
impatiently. 

I don’t know ; I really don’t know,” said Giles, with a rueful 
countenance. I couldn’t swear to him.” 

What do you think ? ” asked Mr. Blathers. 

don’t know what to think,” replied poor Giles. 
don’t think it is the boy ; indeed. I’m almost certain that it 
isn’t. You know it can’t be.” 

Has this man been a-drinking, .sir ? ” inquired Blathers, 
turning to the doctor. 

What a precious muddle-headed chap you are ! ” said 
DulF, addressing Mr. Giles, with supreme contempt. 

Mr. Losberne had been feeling the patient’s pulse during 
this short dialogue; but he now rose from the chair by the 
bedside, and remarked, that if the officers had any doubts 
upon the subject, they would perhaps like to step into the 
next room, and have Brittles before them. 

Acting upon this suggestion, they adjourned to a neighbour- 
ing apartment, where Mr. Brittles, being called in, involved 
himself and his respected superior in such a wonderful maze 
of fresh contradictions and impossibilities, as tended to throw 
no particular light on anything, but the fact of his own 
strong mystification ; except, indeed, his declarations that he 
shouldn’t know the real boy, if he were put before him that 
instant ; that he had only taken Oliver to be he, because Mr. 
Giles had said he was ; and that Mr. Giles had, five minutes 
previously, admitted in the kitchen, that he began to be 
very much afraid he had been a little too hasty. 

Among other ingenious surmises, the question was then 
raised, whether Mr. Giles had really hit anybody ; and upon 
examination of the fellow pistol to that which he had fired, 
it turned out to have no more destructive loading than 
gunpowder and brown paper: a discovery which made a 



V 


,cr' " 



A FURTHER EXAMINATION. 


283 


considerable impression on everybody but the doctor, who 
had drawn the ball about ten minutes before. Upon no one, 
however, did it make a greater impression than on Mr. Giles 
himself ; who, after labouring, for some hours, under the 
fear of having mortally wounded a fellow-creature, eagerly 
caught at this new idea, and favoured it to the utmost. 
Finally, the officers, without troubling themselves very much 
about Oliver, left the Chertsey constable in the house, and 
took up their rest for that night in the town; promising 
to return next morning. 

With the next morning, there came a rumour, that two 
men and a boy were in the cage at Kingston, who had been 
apprehended over night under suspicious circumstances ; and 
to Kingston Messrs. Blathers and Duff journeyed accordingly. 
The suspicious circumstances, however, resolving themselves, 
on investigation, into the one fact, that they had been dis- 
covered sleeping under a haystack ; which, although a great 
crime, is only punishable by imprisonment, and is, in the 
merciful eye of the English law, and its comprehensive love 
of all the king’s subjects, held to be no satisfactory proof, 
in the absence of all other evidence, that the sleeper, or 
sleepers, have committed burglary accompanied with violence, 
and have therefore rendered themselves liable to the punish- 
ment of death ; Messrs. Blathers and Duff* came back again, 
as wise as they went. 

In shoii:, after some more examination, and a great deal 
more conversation, a neighbouring magistrate was readily 
induced to take the joint bail of jMrs. IMaylie and Mr. 
Losberne for Oliver’s appearance if he should ever be called 
upon ; and Blathers and Duff*, being rewarded with a couple 
of guineas, returned to town with divided opinions on the 
subject of their expedition : the latter gentleman on a mature 
consideration of all the circumstances, inclining to the belief 
that the burglarious attempt had originated with the Family 
Pet; and the former being equally disposed to concede the 
full merit of it to the great Mr, Conkey duckweed. 


284 


OLIVER TWIST. 


IMeanwhile, Oliver gradually throve and prospered under 
the united care of Mrs. Maylie, Rose, and the kind-hearted 
Mr. Losberne. If fervent prayers, gushing from hearts 
overcharged with gratitude, be heard in heaven — and if they 
be not, what prayers are ! — the blessings which the orphan 
child called down upon them, sunk into their souls, diffusing 
peace and happiness. 



CHAPTER XXXII. 


OF THE HAPPY LIFE OLIVER BEGAN TO LEAD WITH HIS KIND 

FRIENDS. 

Oliver’s ailings were neither slight nor few. In addition 
to the pain and delay attendant on a broken limb, his 
exposure to the wet and cold had brought on fever and 
ague : which hung about him for many weeks, and reduced 
him sadly. But, at length, he began, by slow degrees, to 
get better, and to be able to say sometimes, in a few tearful 
words, how deeply he felt the goodness of the two sweet 
ladies, and how ardently he hoped that when he grew strong 
and well again, he could do something to show his gratitude ; 
only something which would let them see the love and duty 
with which his breast was full ; something, however slight, 
which would prove to them that their gentle kindness had 
not been cast away ; but that the poor boy whom their 
charity had rescued from misery, or death, was eager to 
serve them with his whole heart and soul. 

“ Poor fellow ! ” said Rose, when Oliver had been one day 
feebly endeavouring to utter the words of thankfulness that 
rose to his pale lips : you shall have many opportunities of 
serving us, if you will. We are going into the country, and 
my aunt intends that you shall accompany us. The quiet 
place, the pure air, and all the pleasures and beauties of 
spring, will restore you in a few days. We will employ you 
in a hundred ways, when you can bear the trouble.” 


286 


OLIVER TWIST. 


The trouble ! ’’ cried Oliver. Oh ! dear lady, if I could 
but work for you; if I could only give you pleasure by 
watering your flowers, or watching your birds, or running 
up and down the whole day long, to make you happy ; what 
would I give to do it ! 

You shall give nothing at all,’” said Miss Maylie, smiling ; 
for, as I told you before, we shall employ you in a hundred 
ways; and if you only take half the trouble to please us, 
that you promise now, you will make me very happy indeed.*” 

“ Happy, ma‘’am ! *” cried Oliver ; how kind of you to say 
so ! 

“You will make me happier than I can tell you,*’’’ replied 
the young lady. “ To think that my dear good aunt should 
have been the means of rescuing any one from such sad misery 
as you have described to us, would be an unspeakable pleasure 
to me ; but to know that the object of her goodness and com- 
passion was sincerely grateful and attached, in consequence, 
would delight me, more than you can well imagine. Do you 
understand me.^*” she inquired, watching Olivers thoughtful 
face. 

“ Oh yes, ma'^am, yes ! replied Oliver, eagerly ; “ but I was 
thinking that I am ungrateful now.*” 

“ To whom ? ^*' inquired the young lady. 

“ To the kind gentleman, and the dear old nurse, who took 
so much care of me before,’’*’ rejoined Oliver. “If they knew 
how happy I am, they would be pleased, I am sure."** 

“I am sure they would,'*’ rejoined Oliver's benefactress; 
“ and Mr. Losberne has already been kind enough to promise 
that when you are well enough to bear the journey, he will 
carry you to see them.'’ 

“Has he, ma'am cried Oliver, his face brightening with 
pleasure. “ I don't know what I shall do for joy when I see 
their kind faces once again ! " 

In a short time Oliver was sufficiently reco^p^M to undergo 
the fatigue of this expedition. One morni. e and Mi\ 
Losberne set out, accordingly, in a little age which 


A FALSE ALARM. 


287 


belonged to Mrs. Maylie. When they came to Chertsey 
Bridge, Oliver turned very pale, and uttered a loud exclama- 
tion. 

‘^WhaFs the matter with the boy.^’’ cried the doctor, as 
usual, all in a bustle. Do you see anything — hear anything 
— feel anything — eh ? 

^^That, sir,"’ cried Oliver, pointing out of the carriage 
window. “ That house ! ” 

Yes; well, what of it.^ Stop coachman. Pull up here,” 
cried the doctor. “ What of the house, my man ; eh ? ” 

“ The thieves — the house they took me to ! ” whispered 
Oliver. 

The devil it is ! ” cried the doctor. Halloa, there ? let 
me out ! ” 

But, before the coachman could dismount from his box, he 
had tumbled out of the coach, by some means or other ; and, 
running down to the deserted tenement, began kicking at the 
door like a madman. 

“Halloa.?” said a little ugly hump-backed man: opening 
the door so suddenly, that the doctor, from the very impetus 
of his last kick, nearly fell forward into the passage. “ What’s 
the matter here ? ” 

“ Matter ! ” exclaimed the other, collaring him, without a 
moment’s reflection. “ A good deal. Robbery is the matter.” 

“There’ll be Murder the matter, too,” replied the hump- 
backed man, coolly, “if you don’t take your hands off. Do 
you hear me.?” 

“ I hear you,” said the doctor, giving his captive a hearty 
shake. “Where’s — confound the fellow, what’s his rascally 
name — Sikes; that’s it. Where’s Sikes, you thief.?” 

The hump-backed man stared, as if in excess of amazement 
and indignation ; then, twisting himself, dexterously, from the 
doctor’s grasp, growled forth a volley of horrid oaths, and 
retired into the house. Before he could shut the door, however, 
the doctor had passed into the parlour, without a word of 
parley. He looked anxiously round ; not an article of furniture ; 


OLIVER TV/IST. 


^88 

not a vestige of anything, animate or inanimate; not even 
the position of the cupboards ; answered Oliver'^s description ! 

/^Now!'"’ said the hump-backed man, who had watched 
him keenly, ^^what do you mean by coming into my house, 
in this violent way ? Do you want to rob me, or to murder 
me? Which is it?"’ 

‘^Did you ever know a man come out to do either, in a 
chariot and pair, you ridiculous old vampire?” said the 
irritable doctor. 

^‘What do you want, then?” demanded the hunchback.’ 
“ Will you take yourself off, before I do you a mischief ? 
Curse you ! ” 

“As soon as I think proper,” said Mr. Losbernej looking 
into the other parlour ; which, like the first, bore no resemblance 
whatever to Oliver’s account of it. “I shall find you out, 
some day, my friend.” 

“ Will you ? ” sneered the ill-favoured cripple. “ If you ever 
want me. I’m here. I haven’t lived here mad and all alone, for 
five-and-twenty years, to be scared by you. You shall pay 
for this ; you shall pay for this.” And so saying, the mis- 
shapen little demon set up a yell, and danced upon the 
ground, as if wild with rage. 

“Stupid enough, this,” muttered the doctor to himself; 
“ the boy must have made a mistake. Here ! Put that in 
your pocket, and shut yourself up again.” With these words 
he flung the hunchback a piece of money, and returned to 
the carriage. 

The man followed to the chariot door, uttering the wildest 
imprecations and curses all the way; but as Mr. Losberne 
turned to speak to the driver, he looked into the carriage, 
and eyed Oliver for an instant with a glance so sharp and 
fierce and at the same time so furious and vindictive, that, 
waking or sleeping, he could not forget it for months after- 
wards. He continued to utter the most fearful imprecations, 
until the driver had resumed his seat; and when they were 
once more on their way, they could see him some distance 


THE DOCTOR IS DISAPPOINTED. 289 

behind : beating his feet upon the ground, and tearing his hair, 
in transports of real or pretended rage. 

‘‘ I am an ass ! said the doctor, after a long silence. “ Did 
you know that before, Oliver 

“ No, sir."*’ 

‘^Then don't forget it another time." 

^^An ass," said the doctor again, after a further silence of 
some minutes. Even if it had been the right place, and the 
right fellows had been there, what could I have done, single- 
handed ? And if I had had assistance, I see no good that I 
should have done, except leading to my own exposure, and an 
unavoidable statement of the manner in which I have hushed 
up this business. That would have served me right, though. 
I am always involving myself in some scrape or other, by 
acting on impulse. It might have done me good." 

Now, the fact was that the excellent doctor had never acted 
upon anything but impulse all through his life, and it was 
no bad compliment to the nature of the impulses which 
governed him, that so far from being involved in any peculiar 
troubles or misfortunes, he had the warmest respect and esteem 
of all who knew him. If the truth must be told, he was a 
little out of temper, for a minute or two, at being disappointed 
in procuring corroborative evidence of Oliver's story, on the 
very first occasion on which he had a chance of obtaining 
any. He soon came round again, however; and finding that 
Oliver's replies to his questions, were still as straightforward 
and consistent, and still delivered with as much apparent 
sincerity and truth, as they had ever been, he made up his 
mind to attach full credence to them, from that time forth. 

As Oliver knew the name of the street in which Mr. Brownlow 
resided, they were enabled to drive straight thither. When 
the coach turned into it, his heart beat so violently, that he 
could scarcely draw his breath. 

Now, my boy, which house is it ? " inquired Mr. Losberne. 

‘‘ That ! That ! " replied Oliver, pointing eagerly out of 
the window. The white house. Oh ! make haste ! Pray 


u 


290 OLIVER TWIST. 

make haste ! I feel as if I should die ; it makes me 
tremble so.^" 

Come, come ! ’’ said the good doctor, patting him on the 
shoulder. You will see them directly, and they will be over- 
joyed to find you safe and well.*’" 

“ Oh ! I hope so ! ’’’ cried Oliver. They were so good to 
me ; so very, very good to me."” 

The coach rolled on. It stopped. No ; that was the 
wrong house; the next door. It went on a few paces, and 
stopped again. Oliver looked up at the windows, with tears 
of happy expectation coursing down his face. 

Alas ! the white house was empty and there was a bill in 
the window. “To Let.’"’ 

“Knock at the next door,**’ cried Mr. Losberne, taking 
Oliver’s arm in his. “What has become of Mr. Brownlow? 
who used to live in the adjoining house, do you know?” 

The servant did not know ; but would go and inquire. She 
presently returned, and said, that Mr. Brownlow had sold off 
his goods, and gone to the West Indies, six weeks before, 
Oliver clasped his hands, and sank feebly backward. 

“ Has his housekeeper gone, too ? ” inquired Mr. Losberne, 
after a moment’s pause. 

“Yes, sir;” replied the servant. “The old gentleman, the 
housekeeper, and a gentleman who was a friend of Mr. 
Brownlow’s, all went together.” 

“Then turn towards home again,” said Mr. Losberne to 
the driver; “ and don’t stop to bait the horses, till you get 
out of this confounded London ! ” 

“The book-stall keeper, sir?” said Oliver. “I know the 
way there. See him, pray, sir ! Do see him ! ” 

“ My poor boy, this is disappointment enough for one da}^” 
said the doctor. “ Quite enough for both of us. If we go 
to the book-stall keeper’s, we shall certainly find that he is 
dead, or has set his house on fire, or run away. No ; home 
again straight ! ” And in obedience to the doctor’s impulse, 
home they went. 


DEPARTURE FOR THE COUNTRY. 


29 


This bitter disappointment caused Oliver much sorrow and 
grief, even in the midst of his happiness ; for he had pleased 
himself, many times during his illness, with thinking of 
all that Mr. Brownlow and Mrs. Bedwin would say to him : 
and what delight it would be to tell them how many long 
days and nights he had passed in reflecting on what they had 
done for him, and in bewailing his cruel separation from them. 
The hope of eventually clearing himself with them, too, and 
explaining how he had been forced away, had buoyed him 
up, and sustained him, under many of his recent trials ; and 
now, the idea that they should have gone so far, and carried 
with them the belief that he was an impostor and a robber — a 
belief which might remain uncontradicted to his dying day 
— was almost more than he could bear. 

The circumstance occasioned no alteration, however, in the 
behaviour of his benefactors. After another fortnight, when 
the fine v/arm weather had fairly begun, and every tree and 
flower was putting forth its young leaves and rich blossoms, 
they made preparations for quitting the house at Chertsey, 
for some months. Sending the plate, which had so excited 
Fagin’s cupidity, to the banker's; and leaving Giles and another 
servant in care of the house, they departed to a cottage at 
some distance in the country, and took Oliver with them. 

Who can describe the pleasure and delight, the peace of 
mind and soft tranquillity, the sickly boy felt in the balmy 
air, and among the green hills and rich woods, of an inland 
village ! Who can tell how scenes of peace and quietude sink 
intq the minds of pain-worn dwellers in close and noisy places, 
and carry their own freshness, deep into their jaded hearts! 
Men who have lived in crowded, pent-up streets, through 
lives of toil, and who have never wished for change ; men, 
to whom custom has indeed been second nature, and who 
have come almost to love each brick and stone that formed the 
narrow boundaries of their daily walks ; even they, with the 
hand of death upon them, have been kno^vn to yearn at last 
for one short glimpse of Nature's face ; and, carried far from 


OLIVER TWISX 


the scenes of their old pains and pleasures, have seemed to 
pass at once into a new state of being. Crawling forth, from 
day to day, to some green sunny spot, they have had such 
memories wakened up within them by the sight of sky, and 
hill and plain, and glistening water, that a foretaste of heaven 
itself has soothed their quick decline, and they have sunk 
into their tombs, as peacefully as the sun whose setting they 
watched from their lonely chamber window but a few hours 
before, faded from their dim and feeble sight ! The memories 
which peaceful country scenes call up, are not of this world, 
nor of its thoughts and hopes. Their gentle influence may 
teach us how to weave fresh garlands for the graves of those 
we loved : may purify our thoughts, and bear down before it 
old enmity and hatred ; but beneath all this, there lingers, 
in the least reflective mind, a vague and half-formed con- 
sciousness of having held such feelings long before, in some 
remote and distant time, which calls up solemn thoughts of 
distant times to come, and bends down pride and worldliness 
beneath it. 

It was a lovely spot to which they repaired. Oliver: 
whose days had been spent among squalid crowds, and in 
the midst of noise and brawling, seemed to enter on a new 
existence there. The rose and honeysuckle clung to the 
cottage walls ; the ivy crept round the trunks of the trees ; 
and the garden-flowers perfumed the air with delicious odours. 
Hard by, was a little churchyard ; not crowded with tall 
unsightly gravestones, but full of humble mounds, covered with 
fresh turf and moss : beneath which, the old people of the 
village lay at rest. Oliver often wandered here ; and, thinking 
of the wretched grave in which his mother lay, would sometimes 
sit him down and sob unseen; but, when he raised his eyes 
to the deep sky overhead, he would cease to think of her as 
lying in the ground, and would weep for her, sadly, but with- 
out pain. 

It was a happy time. The days were peaceful and serene ; 
the nights brought with them neither fear nor care; no 


HAPPY DAYS. 


293 


languishing in a wretched prison, or associating with wretched 
men ; nothing but pleasant and happy thoughts. Every 
morning he went to a white-headed old gentleman, who 
lived near the little church : who taught him to read 
better, and to write : and who spoke so kindly, and took 
such pains, that Oliver could never try enough to please 
him. Then, he would walk with Mrs. Maylie and Rose, 
and hear them talk of books; or perhaps sit near them, 
in some shady place, and listen whilst the young lady read : 
which he could have done, until it grew too dark to see 
the letters. Then, he had his own lesson for the next day to 
prepare; and at this, he would work hard, in a little room 
which looked into the garden, till evening came slowly on, 
when the ladies would walk out again, and he with them : 
listening with such pleasure to all they said : and so happy 
if they wanted a flower that he could climb to reach, or had 
forgotten anything he could run to fetch : that he could 
never be quick enough about it. When it became quite 
dark, and they returned home, the young lady would sit 
down to the piano, and play some pleasant air, or sing, in a 
low and gentle voice, some old song which it pleased her aunt 
to hear. There would be no candles lighted at such times as 
these; and Oliver would sit by one of the windows, listening 
to the sweet music, in a perfect rapture. 

And when Sunday came, how differently the day was spent, 
from any way in which he had ever spent it yet! and how 
happily too ; like all the other days in that most happy time ! 
There was the little church, in the morning, with the green 
leaves fluttering at the windows : the birds singing without : 
and the sweet-smelling air stealing in at the low porch, and 
filling the homely building with its fragrance. The poor 
people were so neat and clean, and knelt so reverently in 
prayer, that it seemed a pleasure, not a tedious duty, their 
assembling there together; and though the singing might be 
rude, it was real, and sounded more musical (to Oliver^s 
ears at least) than any he had ever heard in church before. 



294 


OLIVER TWIST. 


Then, there were the walks as usual, and many calls at the 
clean houses of the labouring men ; and at night, Oliver read 
a chapter or tw o from the Bible, which he had been studying 
all the week, and in the performance of which duty he felt 
more proud and pleased, than if he had been the clergyman 
himself. 

In the morning, Oliver would be a-foot by six oYdock, 
roaming the fields, and plundering the hedges, far and wide, 
for nosegays of wild flowers, with Avhich he Avould return 
laden, home ; and which it took great care and consideration 
to arrange, to the best advantage, for the embellishment of 
the breakfast-table. There was fresh groundsel, too, for Miss 
Maylie’s birds, Avith Avhich Oliver, Avho had been studying 
the subject under the able tuition of the village clerk, would 
decorate the cages, in the most approved taste. When the 
birds Avere made all spruce and smart for the day, there aa^s 
usually some little commission of charity to execute in the 
village; or, failing that, there AA^as rare cricket-playing, some- 
times, on the green ; or, failing that, there was always something 
to do in the garden, or about the plants, to Avhich Oliver (avIio 
had studied this science also, under the same master, Avho Avas 
a gardener by trade,) applied himself Avith hearty goodwill, 
until Miss Rose made her appearance: Avhen there were a 
thousand commendations to be bestowed on all he had done. 

So three months glided away ; three months Avhich, in the 
life of the most blessed and favoured of mortals, might have 
been unmingled happiness, and which, in Oliver’s, were true 
felicity. With the purest and most amiable generosity on 
one side ; and the truest, Avarmest, soul-felt gratitude on the 
other ; it is no Avonder that, by the end of that short time, 
Oliver TAvist had become completely domesticated Avith the 
old lady and her niece, and that the fervent attachment of 
his young and sensitive heart, Avas repaid by their pride in, 
and attachment to, himself. 


CHAPTER XXXIIL 


WHEREIN THE HAPPINESS OF OLIVER AND HIS FRIENDS, 
EXPERIENCES A SUDDEN CHECK. 

Spring flew swiftly by, and summer came. If the village 
had been beautiful at first it was now in the full glow and 
luxuriance of its richness. The great trees, which had looked 
shrunken and bare in the earlier months, had now burst into 
strong life and health ; and stretching forth their green arms 
over the thirsty ground, converted open and naked spots into 
choice nooks, where was a deep and pleasant shade from 
which to look upon the wide prospect, steeped in sunshine, 
which lay stretched beyond. The earth had donned her 
mantle of brightest green ; and shed her richest perfumes 
abroad. It was the prime and vigour of the year ; all things 
were glad and flourishing. 

Still, the same quiet life went on at the little cottage, 
and the same cheerful serenity prevailed among its inmates. 
Oliver had long since grown stout and healthy ; but health 
or sickness made no diflerence in his warm feelings to those 
about him, though they do in the feelings of a great many 
people. He was still the same gentle, attached, affectionate 
creature that he had been when pain and suffering had wasted 
his strength, and when he was dependent for every slight 
attention and comfort on those who tended him. 

One beautiful night, they had taken a longer walk than 
was customary with them : for the day had been unusually 


296 


OLIVER TWIST. 


warm, and there was a brilliant moon, and a light wind had 
sprung up, which was unusually refreshing. Rose had been 
in high spirits, too, and they had walked on, in merry con- 
versation, until they had far exceeded their ordinary bounds. 
Mrs. Maylie being fatigued, they returned more slowly home. 
The young lady merely throwing off her simple bonnet, sat 
down to the piano as usual. After running abstractedly 
over the keys for a few minutes, she fell into a low and very 
solemn air; and as she played it, they heard a sound as if 
she were weeping. 

Rose, my dear ! said the elder lady. 

Rose made no reply, but played a little quicker, as though 
the words had roused her from some painful thoughts. 

Rose, my love ! ’’ cried Mrs. Maylie, rising hastily, and 
bending over her. What is this ? In tears ! My dear 
child, what distresses you.^*” 

Nothing, aunt ; nothing,’’*’ replied the young lady. I 
don’t know what it is ; I can’t describe it ; but I feel ” 

Not ill, my love ? ” interposed Mrs. Maylie. 

No, no ! Oh, not ill ! ” replied Rose : shuddering as 
though some deadly chillness were passing over her, while 
she spoke ; I shall be better presently. Close the window, 
pray!” 

Oliver hastened to comply with her request. The young 
lady, making an effort to recover her cheerfulness, strove to 
play some livelier tune; but her fingers dropped powerless 
on the keys. Covering her face with her hands, she sank 
upon a sofa, and gave vent to the tears which she was now 
unable to repress. 

My child ! ” said the elderly lady, folding her arms about 
her, ‘^I never saw you so before.” 

‘^I would not alarm you if I could avoid it,” rejoined 
Rose ; but indeed I have tried very hard, and cannot help 
this. I fear I am ill, aunt.” 

She was, indeed ; for, when candles were brought, ^hey 
saw that in the very short time which had elapsed since 


A REAL ALARM. 


297 


their return home, the hue of her countenance had changed 
to a marble whiteness. Its expression had lost nothing of 
its beauty ; but it was changed ; and there was an anxious, 
haggard look about the gentle face, which it had never worn 
before. Another minute, and it was suffused with a crimson 
flush : and a heavy wildness came over the soft blue eye. 
Again this disappeared, like the shadow thrown by a passing 
cloud ; and she was once more deadly pale. 

Oliver, who watched the old lady anxiously, observed that 
she was alarmed by these appearances ; and so in truth, was 
he ; but seeing that she affected to make light of them, he 
endeavoured to do the same, and they so far succeeded, that 
when Rose was persuaded by her aunt to retire for the 
night, she was in better spirits ; and appeared even in better 
health : assuring them that she felt certain she should rise 
in the morning, quite well. 

‘‘I hope,’’ said Oliver, when Mrs. Maylie returned, ^‘that 
nothing is the matter ? She don’t look well to-night, but ” 

The old lady motioned to him not to speak ; and sitting 
herself down in a dark corner of the room, remained silent 
for some time. At length, she said, in a trembling voice : 

‘‘I hope not, Oliver. I have been very happy with her 
for some years : too happy, perhaps. It may be time that I 
should meet with some misfortune ; but I hope it is not this.” 

What ? ” inquired Oliver. 

“ The heavy blow,” said the old lady, “ of losing the dear 
girl who has so long been my comfort and happiness.” 

Oh ! God forbid ! ” exclaimed Oliver, hastily. 

Amen to that, my child ! ” said the old lady, wringing 
her hands. 

“ Surely there is no danger of anything so dreadful ? ” said 
Oliver. ‘‘Two, hours ago, she was quite well.” 

“She is very ill now,” rejoined Mrs. Maylie; “and will 
be worse, I am sure. My dear, dear Rose ! Oh, what should 
I do without her ! ” 

She gave way to such great grief, that Oliver, suppressing 


298 


OLIVER TWIST. 


his own emotion, ventured to remonstrate with her ; and to 
beg, earnestly, that, for the sake of the dear young lady 
herself, she would be more calm. 

^^And consider, ma’am,’’’ said Oliver, as the tears forced 
themselves into his eyes, despite of his efforts to the contrary. 
“ Oh ! consider how young and good she is, and what pleasure 
and comfort she gives to all about her. I am sure — certain 
—quite certain — that, for your sake, who are so good yourself ; 
and for her own ; and for the sake of all she makes so happy ; 
she will not die. Heaven will never let her die so young.” 

Hush ! ” said Mrs. Maylie, laying her hand on Oliver’s 
head. “You think like a child, poor boy. But you teach 
me my duty, notwithstanding. I had forgotten it for a 
moment, Oliver, but I hope I may be pardoned, for I am 
old, and have seen enough of illness and death to know the 
agony of separation from the objects of our love. I have 
seen enough, too, to know that it is not always the youngest 
and best who are spared to those that love them ; but this 
should give us comfort in our sorrow ; for Heaven is just ; 
and such things teach us, impressively, that there is a brighter 
world than this ; and that the passage to it is speedy. God’s 
will be done ! I love her ; and He know^s how well ! ” 

Oliver was surprised to see that as Mrs. Maylie said these 
words, she checked her lamentations as though by one effort ; 
and drawing herself up as she spoke, became composed and 
firm. He was still more astonished to find that this firmness 
lasted; and that, under all the care and watching which 
ensued, Mrs. Maylie was ever ready and collected : performing 
all the duties which devolved upon her, steadily, and, to all 
external appearance, even cheerfully. But he was young, and 
did not know what strong minds are capable of, under trying 
circumstances. How should he, when their possessors so 
seldom know themselves ? 

An anxious night ensued. When morning came, Mrs. 
Maylie’s predictions were but too well verified. Rose was in 
the first stage of a high and dangerous fever. 


AN IMPORTANT COMMISSION. 


299 


must be active, Oliver, and not give way to useless 
grief,*” said Mrs. Maylie, laying her finger on her lip, as she 
looked steadily into his face; ^‘this letter must be sent, with 
all possible expedition, to Mr. Losberne. It must be carried 
to the market-town : which is not more than four miles off*, 
by the footpath across the fields : and thence dispatched, by 
an express on horseback, straight to Chertsey. The people 
at the inn will undertake to do this ; and I can trust to you 
to see it done, I know.*’** 

Oliver could make no reply, but looked his anxiety to be 
gone at once. 

“Here is another letter,*” said Mrs. Maylie, pausing to 
reflect; “but whether to send it now, or wait until I see 
how Rose goes on, I scarcely know. I would not forward 
it, unless I feared the worst.*” 

“Is it for Chertsey, too, ma‘’am.^^*” inquired Oliver: im- 
patient to execute his commission, and holding out his 
trembling hand for the letter. 

“ No,**** replied the old lady, giving it to him mechanically. 
Oliver glanced at it, and saw that it was directed to tiarry 
Maylie, Esquire, at some great lord*’s house in the country ; 
where, he could not make out. 

“ Shall it go, ma^am ? ’*' asked Oliver, looking up, impatiently. 

“ I think not,” replied Mrs. Maylie, taking it back. “ I 
will wait until to-morrow.” 

With these words, she gave Oliver her purse, and he 
started off*, without more delay, at the greatest speed he 
could muster. 

Swiftly he ran across the fields, and down the little lanes 
which sometimes divided them : now almost hidden by the 
high corn on either side, and now emerging on an open field, 
Avhere the mowers and haymakers were busy at their work: 
nor did he stop once, save now and then, for a few seconds, 
to recover breath, until he came, in a great heat, and covered 
with dust, on the little market-place of the market-town. 

Here he paused, and looked about for the inn, Tliere 


300 


OLIVER WIST. 


were a white bank, and a red brewery, and a yellow town- 
hall; and in one corner there was a large house, with all 
the wood about it painted green : before which was the sign 
of The George.’’ To this he hastened, as soon as it caught 
his eye. 

He spoke to a postboy who was dozing under the gateway ; 
and who, after hearing what he wanted, referred him to the 
ostler; who after hearing all he had to say again, referred 
him to the landlord ; who was a tall gentleman in a blue 
neckcloth, a white hat, drab breeches, and boots with tops 
to match, leaning against a pump by the stable-door, picking 
his teeth with a silver toothpick. 

This gentleman walked with much deliberation into the 
bar to make out the bill : which took a long time making 
out : and after it was ready, and paid, a horse had to be 
saddled, and a man to be dressed,, which took up ten good 
minutes more. Meanwhile Oliver was in such a desperate 
state of impatience and anxiety, that he felt as if he could 
have jumped upon the horse himself, and galloped away, 
full tear, to the next stage. At length, all was ready ; and 
the little parcel having been handed up, with many injunc- 
tions and entreaties for its speedy delivery, the man set 
spurs to his horse, and rattling over the uneven paving of 
the market-place, was out of the town, and galloping along 
the tumpike-road, in a couple of minutes. 

As it was something to feel certain that assistance was 
sent for, and that no time had been lost, Oliver hurried up 
the inn-yard, with a somewhat lighter heart. He was turning 
out of the gateway when he accidentally stumbled against a 
tall man wrapped in a cloak, who was at that moment 
coming out of the inn door. 

Hah ! ” cried the man, fixing his eyes on Oliver, and 
suddenly recoiling. “ What the devil’s this ? ” 

I beg your pardon, sir,” said Oliver ; I was in a great 
hurry to get home, and didn’t see you were coming.” 

Death !” muttered the man to himself, glaring at the boy 


AN UNPLEASANT ADVL mE. 


301 


with his large dark eyes. Who would thought it ! 

Grind him to ashes ! He’d start up from a le coffin, to 
come in my way ! ” 

‘‘I am sorry,” stammered Oliver, confused by strange 
man’s wild look. “ I hope I have not hurt you ! ” 

“Rot you!” murmured the man, in a horrible 'on; 
between his clenched teeth ; “ if I had only had the c ^e 
to say the word, I might have been free of you in a n 
Curses on your head, and black death on your heart, } 
imp! What are you doing here?” 

The man shook his fist, as he uttered these words incoherently. 
He advanced towards Oliver, as if with the intention of 
^ aiming a blow at him, but fell violently on the ground : 
writhing and foaming, in a fit. 

Oliver gazed, for a moment, at the struggles of the mad- 
man (for such he supposed him to be) ; and then darted 
into the house for help. Having seen him safely carried 
into the hotel, he turned his face homewards, running as 
fast as he could, to make up for lost time : and recalling 
with a great deal of astonishment and some fear, the extra- 
ordinary behaviour of the person from whom he had just 
parted. 

The circumstance did not dwell in his recollection long, 
however: for when he reached the cottage, there was enough 
to occupy his mind, and to drive all considerations of self 
completely from his memory. 

Rose Maylie had rapidly grown worse; before midnight 
she was delirious. A medical practitioner, who resided on 
the spot, was in constant attendance upon her; and after 
first seeing the patient, he had taken Mrs. Maylie aside, 
and pronounced her disorder to be one of a most alarming 
nature. “ In fact,” he said, “ it would be little short of a 
miracle, if she recovered.” 

How often did Oliver start from his bed that night, and 
stealing out, with noiseless footstep, to the staircase, listen 
for the slightest sound from the sick chamber ! How often 


303 


OLIVER TWIST. 

(lid a tremble shake his frame, and cold drops of terror 
start upon hi-is brow, when a sudden tram})ling of feet caused 
him to fear that something too dreadful to think of, had 
even then occurred! And what had been the fervency of 
all the -prayers he had ever uttered, compared with those he 
poured forth, now, in the agony and passion of his supplica- 
tion for the life and health of the gentle creature, who was 
tottering on the deep grave’s verge ! 

Oh! the suspense, the fearful, acute suspense, of standing 
idly by while the life of one we dearly love, is trembling in 
the balance! Oh! the racking thoughts that crowd upon 
the mine!, and make the heart beat violently, and the breath 
come thick, by the force of the images they conjure up 
before it ; the desperate anxiety to be doing something to 
relieve the pain, or lessen the danger, which Ave have no 
power to alleviate; the sinking of soul and spirit, Avhich 
the sad remembrance of our helplessness produces; what 
tortuies can equal these ; Avhat reflections or endeavours can, 
in the full tide and fever of the time, allay them ! 

Morning came ; and the little cottage was lonely and still. 
People spoke in whispers ; anxious faces appeared at the 
gate, from time to time ; women and children Avent away in 
tears. All the livelong day, and for hours after it had 
grown dark, OliA-er paced softly up and down the garden, 
raising his eyes every instant to the sick chamber, and 
shuddering to see the darkened window, looking as if death 
lay stretched inside. Late at night, Mr. Losberne arrived. 
‘‘It is hard,” said the good doctor, turning aAvay as he spoke; 

“ so young ; so much beloved ; but there is very little hope.” 

Another morning. The sun shone brightly: as brightly 
as if it looked upon no misery or care; and, Avith every leaf 
and floAver in full bloom about her: with life, and health, 
and sounds and sights of joy, surrounding her on every side : 
the fair young creature lay, wasting fast. Oliver crept away 
to the old churchyard, and sitting down on one of the greet 
mounds, wept and prayed for her, in silence. 


AN ANXIOUS TIME. 


303 

There was such peace and beauty in the scene ; so much 
of brightness and mirth in the sunny landscape ; such blithe- 
some music in the songs of the summer birds ; such freedom 
in the rapid flight of the rook, careering overhead ; so much 
of life and joyousness in all ; that, when the boy raised his 
aching eyes, and looked about, the thought instinctively 
occurred to him, that this was not a time for death ; that 
Rose could surely never die when humbler things were all 
so glad and gay ; that graves were for cold and cheerless 
winter : not for sunlight and fragrance. He almost thought 
that shrouds were for the old and shrunken ; and that they 
never wrapped the young and graceful form in their ghastly 
folds. 

A knell from the church bell broke harshly on these 
youthful thoughts. Another ! Again ! It was tolling for 
the funeral service. A group of humble mourners entered 
the gate : wearing white favours ; for the corpse was young. 
They stood uncovered by a grave; and there was a mother 
— a mother once — among the weeping train. But the sun 
shone brightly, and the birds sang on. 

Oliver turned homeward, thinking on the many kindnesses 
he had received from the young lady, and wishing that the 
time could come over again, that he might never cease 
showing her how grateful and attached he was. He had no 
cause for self-reproach on the score of neglect, or want of 
thought, for he had been devoted to her service; and yet a 
hundred little occasions rose up before him, on which he 
fancied he might have been more zealous, and more earnest, 
and wished he had been. We need be careful how we deal 
with those about us, when every death carries to some small 
circle of survivors, thoughts of so much omitted, and so little 
done — of so many things forgotten, and so many more which 
might have been repaired ! There is no remorse so deep as 
that which is unavailing ; if we would be spared its tortures, 
let us remember this, in time. 

When he reached home Mrs. Maylie was sitting in the 




OLIVI 


ST. 


little parlour. Oliver’s her at sight of her ; for she 

had never left the bedside of her niece ; and he trembled to 
think what change could have driven her away. He learnt 
that she had fallen into a deep sleep, from which she would 
waken, either to recovery and life, or to bid them farewell, 
and die. 

They sat, listening, and afraid to speak, for hours. The 
untasted meal was removed, with looks which showed that 
their thoughts were elsewhere, they watched the sun as he 
sank lower and lower, and, at length, cast over sky and 
earth those brilliant hues which herald his departure. Their 
quick ears caught the sound of an approaching footstep. 
They both involuntarily darted to the door, as Mr. Losberne 
entered. 

“ What of Rose ? ” cried the old lady. “ Tell me at once ! 
I can bear it ; anything but suspense ! Oh, tell me ! in the 
name of Heaven ! ” 

‘‘You must compose yourself,” said the doctor, supporting 
her. “Be calm, my dear ma’am, pray.” 

“ Let me go, in God’s name ! My dear child ! She is 
dead ! She is dying ! ’ 

“ No I ” cried the doctor, passionately. “ As He is good 
and merciful, she will live to bless us all, for years to come.” 

The lady fell upon her knees, and tried to fold her hands 
together; but the energy which had supported her so long, 
fled up to Heaven^ with her first thanksgiving ; and she sank 
into the friendly arms which were extended to receive her. 


CHAPTER XXXIV. 


CONTAINS SOME INTRODUCTORY PARTICULARS RELATIVE TO A YOUNG 
GENTLEMAN WHO NOW ARRIVES UPON THE SCENE ; AND A 
NEW ADVENTURE WHICH HAPPENED TO OLIVER. 

It was almost too much happiness to bear. Oliver felt 
stunned and stupefied by the unexpected intelligence; he 
could not weep, or speak, or rest. He had scarcely the power 
of understanding anything that had passed, until, after a 
long ramble in the quiet evening air, a burst of tears came 
to his relief, and he seemed to awaken, all at once, to a full 
sense of the joyful change that had occurred, and the almost 
insupportable load of anguish which had been taken from his 
breast. 

The night was fast closing in, when he returned homeward : 
laden with flowers which he had culled, with peculiar care, 
for the adornment of the sick chamber. As he walked briskly 
along the road, he heard behind him, the noise of some 
vehicle, approaching at a furious pace. Looking round, he 
saw that it was a post-chaise, driven at great speed , and as 
the horses were galloping, and the road was narrow, he stood 
leaning against a gate until it should have passed him. 

As it dashed on, Oliver caught a glimpse of a man in a 
white nightcap, whose face seemed familiar to him, although 
his view was so brief that he could not identify the person. 
In another second or two, the nightcap was thrust out of the 
chaise-window, and a stentorian voice bellowed to the driver 


X 


806 


OLIVER TWIST, 


to stop ; which he did, as soon as he could pull up his horses. 
Then, the nightcap once again appeared : and the same voice 
called Oliver by his name. 

Here ! cried the voice. Oliver, what’s the news ? Miss 
Rose ! Master 0-li-ver ! ” 

Is it you, Giles ? ” cried Oliver, running up to the chaise- 
door. 

Giles popped out his nightcap again, preparatory to making 
some reply, when he was suddenly pulled back by a young 
gentleman who occupied the other corner of the chaise, and 
who eagerly demanded what was the news. 

In a word !” cried the gentleman, ‘‘Better or worse 

“ Better — much better ! ” replied Oliver, hastily. 

“ Thank Heaven ! ” exclaimed the gentleman. “ You are 
sure?” 

“ Quite, sir,” replied Oliver. “ The change took place only 
a few hours ago ; and Mr. Losberne says, that all danger is 
at an end.” 

The gentleman said not another word, but, opening the 
chaise-door, leaped out, and taking Oliver hurriedly by the 
arm, led him aside. 

“ You are quite certain ? There is no possibility of any 
mistake on your part, my boy, is there?” demanded the 
gentleman in a tremulous voice. “Do not deceive me, by 
awakening hopes that are not to be fulfilled.” 

“ I would not for the world, sir,” replied Oliver. “ Indeed 
you may believe me. Mr. Losberne’s words were, that she 
would live to bless us all for many years to come. I heard 
him say so.” 

The tears stood in Oliver’s eyes as he recalled the scene 
which was the beginning of so much happiness ; and the 
gentleman turned his face away, and remained silent, for some 
minutes. Oliver thought he heard him sob, more than once ; 
but he feared to interrupt him by any fresh remark — for he 
could well guess what his feelings were — and so stood apart, 
feigning to be occupied with his nosegay. 


MR. HARRY. 


307 


All this time, Mr. Giles, with the white nightcap on, had 
been sitting on the steps of the chaise, supporting an elbow 
on each knee, and wiping his eyes with a blue cotton pocket- 
handkerchief dotted with white spots. That the honest fellow 
had not been feigning emotion, was abundantly demonstrated 
by the very red eyes with which he regarded the young 
gentleman, when he turned round and addressed him. 

I think you had better go on to my mother’s in the 
chaise, Giles,” said he. I would rather walk slowly on, so 
as to gain a little time before I see her. You can say I am 
coming.” 

“ I beg your pardon, Mr. Harry,” said Giles : giving a final 
polish to his ruffled countenance with the handkerchief; 
‘^but if you would leave the postboy to say that, I should 
be very much obliged to you. It wouldn’t be proper for the 
maids to see me in this state, sir; I should never have any 
more authority with them if they did.” 

“Well,” rejoined Hany Maylie, smiling, “you can do as 
you like. Let him go on with the luggage, if you wish it, 
and do you follow Avith us. Only first exchange that night- 
cap for some more appropriate covering, or we shall be taken 
for madmen.” 

Mr. Giles, i*eminded of his unbecoming costume, snatched 
off and pocketed his nightcap ; and substituted a hat, of 
grave and sober shape, which he took out of the chaise. This 
done, the postboy drove off ; Giles, Mr. Maylie, and Oliver, 
followed at their leisure. 

As they walked along, Oliver glanced from time to time 
with much interest and curiosity at the new-comer. He 
seemed about five-and-twenty years of age, and was of the 
middle height ; his countenance was frank and handsome ; and 
his demeanour easy and prepossessing. Notwithstanding the 
difference between youth and age, he bore so strong a like- 
ness to the old lady, that Oliver would have had no great 
difficulty in imagining their relationship, if he had not already 
spoken of her as his mother. 


308 


OLIVER TWIST. 


Mrs. Maylie was anxiously waiting to receive her son when 
he reached the cottage. The meeting did not take place 
without great emotion on both sides. 

“ Mother ! whispered the young man ; why did you not 
write before ? 

I did,’’ replied Mrs. Maylie ; but, on reflection, I deter- 
mined to keep back the letter until I had heard Mr. Los- 
berne’s opinion.” 

But why,” said the young man, why run the chance of 
that occurring which so nearly happened ? If Rose had — I 
cannot utter that word now — if this illness had terminated 
differently, how could you ever have forgiven yourself ! How 
could I ever have known happiness again ! ” 

“If that had been the case, Harry,” said Mrs. Maylie, “I 
fear your happiness would have been effectually blighted, and 
that your arrival here, a day sooner or a day later, would 
have been of very, very little import.”' 

“And who can w^onder if it be so, mother.^” rejoined the 
young man; “or why should I say, ij *? — It is — it is — you 
know it, mother — ^you must know it ! ” 

“I know that she deserves the best and purest love the 
heart of man can offer,” said Mrs. Maylie ; “ I know that 
the devotion and ^ affection of her nature require no ordinary 
return, but one that shall be deep and lasting. If I did not 
feel this, and know, besides, that a changed behaviour in 
one she loved would break her heart, I should not feel my 
task so difficult of performance, or have to encounter so 
many struggles in my own bosom, when I take what seems 
to me to be the strict line of duty.” 

“ This is unkind, mother,” said Harry. “ Do you still 
suppose that I am a boy ignorant of my own mind, and 
mistaking the impulses of my own soul ? ” 

“ I think, my dear son,” returned Mrs. Maylie, laying her 
hand upon his shoulder, “that youth has many generous 
impulses which do not last ; and that among them are some, 
which, being gratified, become only the more fleeting, 


309 


x\N AVOWAL OF LOVE. 

Above all, I think,*” said the lady, fixing her eyes on her 
son’s face, “that if an enthusiastic, ardent, and ambitious 
man marry a wife on whose name there is a stain, which, 
though it originate in no fault of hers, may be visited by 
cold and sordid people upon her, and upon his children also : 
and, in exact proportion to his success in the world, be cast 
in his teeth, and made the subject of sneers against him: 
he may, no matter how generous and good his nature, one 
day repent of the connexion he formed in early life. And 
she may have the pain of knowing that he does so.” 

“Mother,” said the young man, impatiently, “he would 
be a selfish brute, unworthy alike of the name of man and 
of the woman you describe, who acted thus.” 

“You think so now, Harry,” replied his mother. 

“ And ever will ! ” said the young man. “ The mental 
agony I have suffered, during the last two days, wrings from 
me the avowal to you of a passion which, as you well know, 
is not one of yesterday, nor one I have' lightly formed. On 
Rose, sweet, gentle girl ! my heart is set, as firmly as ever 
heart of man was set on woman. I have no thought, no 
view, no hope in life, beyond her; and if you oppose me in 
this great stake, you take my peace and happiness in your 
hands, and cast them to the wind. Mother, think better of 
this, and of me, and do not di^sregard the happiness of which 
you seem to think so little.” 

“ Harry,” said Mrs. Maylie, “ it is because I think so much 
of warm and sensitive hearts, that I would spare them from 
being wounded. But we have said enough, and more than 
enough, on this matter, just now.” 

“ Let it rest with Rose, then,” interposed Harry. “ You 
will not press these overstrained opinions of yours, so far, as 
to throw any obstacle in my way ? ” 

“I will not,” rejoined Mrs. Maylie; “but I would have 
you consider ^ 

“ I have considered ! ” was the impatient reply ; “ Mother, 
I have considered, years and years. I have considered, ever 


310 


OLIVER TWIST. 


since I have been capable of serious reflection. My feelings 
remain unchanged, as they ever will ; and why should I suffer 
the pain of a delay in giving them vent, which can be pro- 
ductive of no earthly good ? No ! Before I leave this place, 
Rose shall hear me.’’’ 

“ She shall,*” said Mrs. Maylie. 

“There is something in your manner, which would almost 
imply that she will hear me coldly, mother,’** said the young 
man. 

“Not coldly,” rejoined the old lady; “far from it.” 

“ How then ? ” urged the young man. “ She has formed 
no other attachment.^” 

“No, indeed,” replied his mother; “you have, or I mistake, 
too strong a hold on her affections already. What I would 
say,” resumed the old lady, stopping her son as he was 
about to speak, “is this. Before you stake your all on this 
chance ; before you suffer yourself to be carried to the highest 
point of hope ; reflect for a few moments, my dear child, on 
Rose’s history, and consider what effect the knowledge of 
her doubtful birth may have on her decision : devoted as 
she is to us, with all the intensity of her noble mind, and 
with that perfect sacrifice of self which, in all matters, great 
or trifling, has always been her characteristic.” 

“ What do you mean ? ” 

“ That I leave you to discover,” replied Mrs. Maylie. “ I 
must go back to her. God bless you ! ” 

“I shall see you again to-night said the young man, 
eagerly. 

“ By and by,” replied the lady ; “ when I leave Rose.” 

“You will tell her I am here.^^” said Hany. 

“ Of course,” replied Mrs. Maylie. 

“And say how anxious I have been, and how much I 
have suffered, and how I long to see her. You will not 
refuse to do this, mother ? ” 

“ No,” said the old lady ; “ I will tell her all.” And press- 
ing her son’s hand, affectionately, she hastened from the room. 


MR. GILES REWARDED. 


311 

Mr. Losberne and Oliver had remained at another end 
of the apartment while this hurried conversation was proceed- 
ing. The former now held out his hand to Harry Maylie; 
and hearty salutations were exchanged between them. The 
doctor then communicated, in reply to multifarious questions 
from his young friend, a precise account of his patient's 
situation ; which was quite as consolatory and full of promise, 
as Oliver's statement had encouraged him to hope; and to 
the whole of which, Mr. Giles, who a^ffected to be busy about 
the luggage, listened with greedy ears. 

Have you shot anything particular, lately, Giles ? " in- 
quired the doctor, when he had concluded. 

‘^Nothing particular, sir," replied Mr. Giles, colouring up 
to the eyes. 

‘^Nor catching any thieves, nor identifying any house- 
breakers ? " said the doctor. 

None at all, sir," replied Mr. Giles, with much gravity. 

‘^Well," said the doctor, “I am sorry to hear it, because 
you do that sort of thing admirably. Pray, how is 
Brittles ? " 

“The boy is very well, sir," said Mr. Giles, recovering 
his usual tone of patronage ; “ and sends his respectful 
duty, sir." 

“ That's well," said the doctor. “ Seeing you here, reminds 
me, Mr. Giles, that on the day before that on which I was 
called away so hurriedly, I executed, at the request of your 
good mistress, a small commission in your favour. Just step 
into this corner a moment, will you ? " 

Mr. Giles walked into the corner with much importance, 
and some wonder, and was honoured with a short whispering 
conference with the doctor, on the termination of which, he 
made a great many bows, and retired with steps of unusual 
stateliness. The subject matter of this conference was not 
disclosed in the parlour, but the kitchen was speedily 
enlightened concerning it; for Mr. Giles w^alked straight 
thither, and having called for a mug of ale, announced, with 


OLIVER TWIST. 


SI 2 

an air of majesty, which was highly effective, that it had 
pleased his mistress, in consideration of his gallant behaviour 
on the occasion of that attempted robbery, to deposit, in thf 
local savings-bank, the sum of five and twenty pounds, fr 
his sole use and benefit. At this, the two women-servar 
lifted up their hands and eyes, and supposed that Mr. G 
would begin to be quite proud now; whereunto Mr. G 
pulling out his shirt-frill, replied, ‘‘No, no;” and that if 
observed that he was at all haughty to his inferiors, he 
thank them to tell him so. And then he made a grea^ 
other remarks, no less illustrative of his humility, whi 
received with equal favour and applause, and were, wuuai, 
as original and as much to the purpose, as the remarks of 
great men commonly are. 

Above stairs, the remainder of the evening passed cheerfully 
away ; for the doctor was in high spirits and however 
fatigued or thoughtful Harry Maylie might have been at 
first, he was not proof against the worthy gentleman’s good 
humour, which displayed itself in a great variety of sallies 
and professional recollections, and an abundance of small 
jokes, which struck Oliver as being the drollest things he 
had ever heard, and caused him to laugh proportionately : 
to the evident satisfaction of the doctor, who laughed 
immoderately at himself, and made Harry laugh almost as 
heartily, by the very force of sympathy. So, they were as 
pleasant a party as, under the circumstances, they could 
well have been ; and it was late before they retired, with 
light and thankful hearts, to take that rest of which, after 
the doubt and suspense they had recently undergone, they 
stood much in need. 

Oliver rose next morning, in better heart, and went about 
his usual early occupations, with more hope and pleasure 
than he had known for many days. The birds were once 
more hung out, to sing, in ,their old places ; and the sweetest 
wild flowers that could be found, were once more gathered 
to gladden Rose with their beauty. The melancholy which 


MORNING EXPEl 


had seemed to the sad eyes of the anxious boy to hang, for 
days past, over every object, beautiful as all were, was 
dispelled by magic. The dew seemed to sparkle more 
brightly on the green leaves ; the air to rustle among them 
with a sweeter music ; and the sky itself to look more blue 
and bright. Such is the influence which the condition of our 
own thoughts, exercises, even over the appearance of external 
objects. Men who look on nature, and their fellow-men, 
and cry that all is dark and gloomy, are in the right; but 
the sombre colours are reflections from their own jaundiced 
eyes and hearts. The real hues are delicate, and need a 
clearer vision. 

It is worthy of remark, and Oliver did not fail to note 
it at the time, that his morning expeditions were no longer 
made alone. Harry Maylie, after the very first morning 
when he met Oliver coming laden home, was seized with 
such a passion for flowers, and displayed such a taste in 
their arrangement, as left his young companion far behind. 
If Oliver were behindhand in these respects, however, he 
knew where the best were to be found ; and morning after 
morning they scoured the -country together, and brought 
home the fairest that blossomed. The window of the young 
lady's chamber was opened now; for she loved to feel the 
rich summer air stream in, and revive her with its freshness; 
but there always stood in water, just inside the lattice, one 
particular little bunch, which was made up with great care, 
every morning. Oliver could not help noticing that the 
withered flowers were never thrown away, although the little 
vase was regularly replenished ; nor, could he help observing, 
that whenever the doctor came into the garden, he invariably 
cast his eyes up to that particular corner, and nodded his 
head most expressively, as he set forth on his morning's walk. 
Pending these observations, the days were flying by ; and 
Rose was rapidly recovering. 

Nor did Oliver's time hang heavy on his hands, although 
the young lady had not yet left her chamber, and there were 


I TWIST. 


and then, for a short distance, 
witH Mrs. Maylie. xie applied himself, with redoubled 
assiduity, to the instructions of the white-headed old gentle- 
man, and laboured so hard that his quick progress surprised 
even himself. It was while he was engaged in this pursuit, 
that he was greatly startled and distressed by a most unex- 
pected occurrence. 

The little room in which he was accustomed to sit, when 
busy at his books, was on the ground-floor, at the back of the 
house. It was quite a cottage-room, with a lattice-window : 
around which were clusters of jessamine and honeysuckle, 
that crept over the casement, and filled the place with their 
delicious perfume. It looked into a garden, whence a wicket- 
gate opened into a small paddock; all beyond, was fine 
meadow-land and wood. There was no other dwelling near, 
in that direction ; and the prospect it commanded was very 
extensive. 

One beautiful evening, when the first shades of twilight 
were beginning to settle upon the earth, Oliver sat at this 
window, intent upon his books. He had been poring over 
them for some time; and, as the day had been uncommonly 
sultry, and he had exerted himself a great deal, it is no 
disparagement to the authors, whoever they may have been, 
to say that gradually and by slow degrees, he fell asleep. 

There is a kind of sleep that steals upon us sometimes, 
which, while it holds the body prisoner, does not free the 
mind from a sense of things about it, and enable it to 
ramble at its pleasure. So far as an overpowering heaviness, 
a prostration of strength, and an utter inability to control 
our thoughts or power df motion, can be called sleep, this is 
it ; and yet, we have a consciousness of all that is going on 
about us, and, if we dream at such a time, words which are 
really spoken, or sounds which really exist at the moment, 
accommodate themselves with surprising readiness to our 
visions, until reality and imagination become so strangely 
blended that it is afterwards almost matter of impossibility 


OLIVER SLEEP-WAKING. 


815 


to se]:)arate the two. Nor is this, the most striking phe- 
nomenon incidental to such a state. It is an undoubted 
fact, that although our senses of touch and sight be for the 
time dead, yet our sleeping thoughts, and the visionary 
scenes that pass before us, will be influenced and materially 
influenced, by the mere silent presence of some external object ; 
which may not have been near us when we closed our eyes : 
and of whose vicinity we have had no waking consciousness. 

Oliver knew, perfectly well, that he was in his own little 
room ; that his books were lying on the table before him ; 
that the sweet air was stirring among the creeping plants 
outside. And yet he was asleep. Suddenly, the scene 
changed ; the air became close and confined ; and he thought, 
with a glow of terror, that he was in the Jew^s house again. 
There sat the hideous old man, in his accustomed corner, 
pointing at him, and whispering to another man, with his 
face averted, who sat beside him. 

Hush, my dear ! h6 thought he heard the Jew say ; it 
is he, sure enough. Come away."’ 

^^He!” the other man seemed to answer; could I mistake 
him, think you ? If a crowd of ghosts were to put themselves 
into his exact shape, and he stood amongst them, there is 
something that would tell me how to point him out. If you 
buried him fifty feet deep, and took me across his grave, I 
fancy I should know, if there wasn’t a mark above it, that 
he lay buried there 

The man seemed to say this, with such dreadful hatred, 
that Oliver awoke with the fear, and started up. 

Good Heaven ! what was that, which sent the blood 
tingling to his heart, and deprived him of his voice, and of 
power to move ! There — there — at the window — close before 
him — so close, that he could have almost touched him before 
he started back : with his eyes peering into the room, and 
meeting his : there stood the Jew ! And beside him, white 
with rage or fear, or both, were the scowling features of the 
very man who had accosted him in the inn-yard. 


316 


OLIVER TWIST. 


It was but an instant, a glance, a flash, before his eyes ; 
and they were gone. But they had recognised him, and he 
them ; and their look was as firmly impressed upon his 
memory, as if it had been deeply carved in stone, and set 
before him from his birth. He stood transfixed for a moment ; 
then, leaping from the window into the garden, called loudly 
for help. 






CHAPTER XXXV. 

CONTAINING THE UNSATISFACTORY RESULT OF OLIVER’s ADVEN- 
TURE ; AND A CONVERSATION OF SOME IMPORTANCE BETWEEN 
HARRY MAYLIE AND ROSE. 

When the inmates of the house, attracted by Oliver’s cries, 
hurried to the spot from which they proceeded, they found 
him, pale and agitated, pointing in the direction of the 
meadows behind the house, and scarcely able to articulate the 
words, “ The Jew ! the Jew ! ” 

Mr. Giles was at a loss to comprehend what this outcry 
meant ; but Harry Maylie, whose perceptions were something 
quicker, and who had heard Oliver’s history from his mother, 
understood it at once. 

What direction did he take ? ” he asked, catching up a 
heavy stick which was standing in a comer. 

‘‘That,” replied Oliver, pointing out the course the man 
had taken ; “ I missed them in an instant.” 

“ Then, they are in the ditch ! ” said Harry. “ Follow ! 
And keep as near me, as you can.” So saying, he sprang 
over the hedge, and darted off with a speed which rendered 
it matter of exceeding difficulty for the others to keep near 
him. 

Giles followed as well as he could; and Oliver followed 
too; and in the course of a minute or two, Mr. Losberne, 
who had been out walking, and just then returned, tumbled 
over the hedge after them, and picking himself up with 


318 


OLIVER TWIST. 


more agility than he could have been supposed to possess, 
struck into the same course at no contemptible speed, 
shouting all the while, most prodigiously, to know what was 
the matter. 

On they all went; nor stopped they once to breathe, until 
the leader, striking off into an angle of the field indicated 
by Oliver, began to search, narrowly, the ditch and hedge 
adjoining; which afforded time for the remainder of the 
party to come up ; and for Oliver to communicate to Mr. 
Losberne the circumstances that had led to so vigorous a 
pursuit. 

The search was all in vain. There were not even the 
traces of recent footsteps, to be seen. They stood now, on 
the summit of a little hill, commanding the open fields in 
every direction for three or four miles. There was the 
village in the hollow on the left ; but, in order to gain that, 
after pursuing the track Oliver had pointed out, the men 
must have made a circuit of open ground, which it was 
impossible they could have accomplished in so short a time. 
A thick wood skirted the meadow-land in another direc- 
tion ; but they could not have gained that covert for the 
same reason. 

It must have been a dream, Oliver, said Harry Maylie. 

‘^Oh no, indeed, sir,’’ replied Oliver, shuddering at the 
very recollection of the old wretch’s countenance ; I saw 
him too plainly for that. I saw them both, as plainly as I 
see you now.” 

Who was the other ? ” inquired Harry and Mr. Losberne, 
together. 

The very same man I told you of, who came so suddenly 
upon me at the inn,” said Oliver. “ We had our eyes fixed 
full upon each other ; and I could swear to him.” 

They took this way ? ” demanded Harry : are you sure ? ” 

As I am that the men were at the window,” replied Oliver, 
pointing down, as he spoke, to the hedge which divided the 
cottage-garden from the meadow. ‘^The tall man leaped 


ANOTHER FAILURE. B19 

over, just there; and the Jew, running a few paces to the 
right, crept through that gap/’ 

The two gentlemen watched Oliver’s earnest face, as he 
spoke, and looking from him to each other, seemed to feel 
satisfied of the accuracy of what he said. Still, in no direction 
were there any appearances of the trampling of men in hurried 
flight. The grass was long ; but it was trodden down 
nowhere, save where their own feet had crushed it. The 
sides and brinks of the ditches were of damp clay; but in 
no one place could they discern the print of men’s shoes, or 
the slightest mark which would indicate that any feet had 
pressed the ground for hours before, 

“ This is strange ! ” said Harry. 

‘‘ Strange ” echoed the doctor. Blathers and Duff, 
themselves, could make nothing of it.” 

Notwithstanding the evidently useless nature of their search, 
they did not desist until the coming on of night rendered 
its further prosecution hopeless ; and even then, they gave 
it up Avith reluctance. Giles was despatched to the different 
ale-houses in the village, furnished with the best description 
Oliver could give of the appearance and dress of the strangers. 
Of these, the Jew was, at all events, sufficiently remarkable 
to be remembered, supposing he had been seen drinking, or 
loitering about ; but Giles returned without any intelligence, 
calculated to dispel or lessen the mystery. 

On the next day, fresh search was made, and the inquiries 
renewed ; but with no better success. On the day following, 
Oliver and Mr. Maylie repaired to the market-town, in the 
hope of seeing or hearing something of the men there; but 
this effort was equally fruitless. After a few days, the affair 
began to be forgotten, as most affairs are, when wonder, 
having no fresh food to support it, dies away of itself. 

Meanwhile, Rose was rapidly recovering. She had left her 
room : was able to go out ; and mixing once more with the 
family, carried joy into the hearts of all. 

But, although this happy change had a visible effect on 


320 


OLIVER TWIST. 


the little circle; and although cheerful voices and merry 
laughter were once more heard in the cottage ; there was at 
times, an unwonted restraint upon some there : even upon Rose 
herself : which Oliver could not fail to remark. Mrs. Maylie 
and her son were often closeted together for a long time ; and 
more than once Rose appeared with traces of tears upon her 
face. After Mr. Losberne had fixed a day for his departure 
to Chertsey, these symptoms increased ; and it became evident 
that something w^as in progress which affected the peace of 
the young lady, and of somebody else besides. 

At length, one morning, when Rose was alone in the break- 
fast-parlour, Harry Maylie entered ; and, with some hesitation, 
begged permission to speak with her for a few moments. 

^‘A few — a very few — will suffice. Rose,*” said the young 
man, drawing his chair towards her. “What I shall have 
to say, has already presented itself to your mind ; the most 
cherished hopes of my heart are not unknown to you, though 
from my lips you have not yet heard them stated.’’ 

Rose had been very pale from the moment of his entrance ; 
but that might have been the effect of her recent illness. 
She merely bowed ; and bending over some plants that stood 
near, waited in silence for him to proceed. 

“ I — I — ought to have left here, before,” said Harry. 

“You should, indeed,” replied Rose. “Forgive me for 
saying so, but I wish you had.” 

“I was brought here, by the most dreadful and agonising 
of all apprehensions,” said the young man ; “ the fear of 
losing the one dear being on whom my every wish and hope 
are fixed. You had been dying : trembling between earth 
and heaven. We know that when the young, the beautiful, 
and good, are visited with sickness, their pure spirits insensibly 
turn towards their bright home of lasting rest ; we know 
Heaven help us ! that the best and fairest of our kind 
often fade in blooming.” 

There were tears in the eyes of the gentle girl, as ti 
words were spoken ; and when one fell upon the flower o 


A LOVE SCENE. 


! . ■ 

321 

which she bent, and glistened brightly in its cup, making it 
more beautiful, it seemed as though the outpouring of her 
fresh young heart, claimed kindred naturally, with the loveliest 
things in nature. 

creature, continued the young man, passionately, ^^a 
creature as fair and innocent of guile as one of God's own 
angels, fluttered between life and death. Oh ! who could 
hope, when the distant world to which she was akin, half 
opened to her view, that she would return to the sorrow and 
calamity of this ! Rose, Rose, to know that you were passing 
away like some soft shadow, which a light from above, casts 
upon the earth ; to have no hope that you would be spared 
to those who linger here ; hardly to know a reason why you 
should be ; to feel that you belonged to that bright sphere 
whither so many of the fairest and the best have winged 
their early flight; and yet to pray, amid all these consola- 
tions, that you might be restored to those who loved you — 
these were distractions almost too great to bear. They were 
mine, by day and night ; and with them, came such a rushing 
torrent of fears, and apprehensions, and selfish regrets, lest 
you should die, and never know how devotedly I loved you, 
as almost bore down sense and reason in its course. You 
recovered. Day by day, and almost hour by hour, some 
drop of health came back, and mingling with the spent and 
feeble stream of life which circulated languidly within you, 
swelled it again to a high and rushing tide. I have watched 
you change almost from death, to life, with eyes that turned 
blind with their eagerness and deep affection. Do not tell 
me that you wish I had lost this ; for it has softened my 
heart to all mankind." 

I did not mean that," said Rose, weeping ; I only wish 
•' you had left here, that you might have turned to high and 
noble pursuits again ; to pursuits well worthy of you." 

“ There is no pursuit more worthy of me : more worthy 
of the highest nature that exists : than the struggle to win 
[ such a heart as yours," said the young man, taking her hand, 

y 


S22 


OLIVER TWIST 


Rose, my own dear Rose ! P'or years — for years — I have 
loved you; hoping to win my way to fame, and then come 
proudly home and tell you it had been pursued only for you 
to share ; thinking, in my day-dreams, how I would remind 
you, in that happy moment, of the many silent tokens I had 
given of a boy'^s attachment, and claim your hand, as in 
redemption, of some old mute contract that had been sealed 
between us ! That time has not arrived ; but here, with no 
fame won, and no young vision realised, I offer you the 
heart so long your own, and stake my all upon the words 
>vith which you greet the offer.’’ 

Your behaviour has ever been kind and noble,” said Rose, 
mastering the emotions by which she was agitated. “As 
you believe that I am not insensible or ungrateful, so hear 
my answer.” 

“ It is, that I may endeavour to deserve you ; it is, dear 
Rose.?” 

“ It is,” replied Rose, “ that you must endeavour to forget 
me ; not as your old and dearly-attached companion, for 
that would wound me deeply ; but, as the object of your 
love. Look into the world; think how many hearts you 
would be proud to gain, are there. Confide some other 
passion to me, if you will ; I will be the truest, warmest, 
and most faithful friend you have.” 

There was a pause, during which, Rose, who had covered 
her face with one hand, gave free vent to her tears. Harry 
still retained the other. 

“And your reasons. Rose,” he said, at length, in a low 
voice ; “ your reasons for this decision ? ” 

“You have a right to know them,” rejoined Rose. “You 
can say nothing to alter my resolution. It is a duty that I 
must perform. I owe it, alike to others, and to myself.” 

“To yourself.?” 

“Yes, Harry. I owe it to myself, that I, a friendless, 
portionless girl, with a blight upon my name, should not 
give your friends reason to suspect that I had sordidly 


A PAINFUl. INTERVIEW. 


35^3 


jqelded to your first passion, and fastened myself, a clog, on 
all your hopes and projects. I owe it to you and yours, to 
prevent you from opposing, in the warmth of your generous 
nature, this great obstacle to your progress in the world.’’’ 

‘^If your inclinations chime with your sense of duty ” 

Harry began. 

‘^They do not,” replied Rose, colouring deeply. 

Then you return my love ? ’’’’ said Harry. Say but that, 
dear Rose; say but that; and soften the bitterness of this 
hard disappointment ! ” 

“ If I could have done so, without doing heavy wrong to 
him I loved,” rejoined Rose, “I could have ” 

^‘Have received this declaration very differently.^” said 
Harry. ‘‘Do not conceal that from me, at least. Rose.” 

“I could,” said Rose. “Stay!” she added, disengaging 
her hand, “why should we prolong this painful interview 
Most painful to me, and yet productive of lasting happiness, 
notwithstanding; for it will be happiness to know that I 
once held the high place in your regard which I now occupy, 
and every triumph you achieve in life will animate me with 
new fortitude and firmness. Farewell, Harry ! As we have 
met to-day, we meet no more ; but in other relations than 
those in which this conversation would have placed us, we 
may be long and happily entwined; and may every blessing 
that the prayers of a true and earnest heart can call down 
from the source of all truth and sincerity, cheer and prosper 
you 1 ” 

“Another word, Rose,” said Harry. “Your reason in 
your own words. From your o^vn lips, let me hear it ! ” 

“The prospect before you,” answered Rose, firmly, “is a 
brilliant one. All the honours to .which great talents and 
powerful connexions can help men in public life, are in store 
for you. But those connexions are proud ; and I will neither 
mingle with such as may hold in scorn the mother who gave 
me life ; nor bring disgrace or failure on the son of her who 
so well supplied that mother’s place. In a word,” said 


OLIVER TWIST. 


the young lady, turning away, as her temporary firmness 
forsook her, there is a stain upon my name, which the 
world visits on innocent heads. I will carry it into no 
blood but my own ; and the reproach shall rest alone 
on me.*” 

One word more. Rose. Dearest Rose ! one more ! ’’ cried 
Harry, throwing himself before her. “If I had been less — 
less fortunate, the world would call it — if some obscure and 
peaceful life had been my destiny — if I had been poor, sick, 
helpless — would you have turned from me then ? Or has 
my probable advancement to riches and honour, given this 
scruple birth 

“ Do not press me to reply,"’ answered Rose. “ The 
question does not arise, and never will. It is unfair, almost 
unkind, to urge it.” 

“If your answer be what I almost dare to hope it is,” 
retorted Harry, “ it will shed a gleam of happiness upon my 
lonely way, and light the path before me. It is not an idle 
thing to do so much, by the utterance of a few brief words, 
for one who loves you beyond all else. Oh, Rose ! in the 
name of my ardent and enduring attachment ; in the name of 
all I have suffered for you, and all you doom me to undergo ; 
answer me this one question ! ” 

“Then, if your lot had been differently cast,” rejoined 
Rose ; “ if you had been even a little, but not so far, above 
me ; if I could have been a help and comfort to you in any 
humble scene of peace and retirement, and not a blot and 
drawback in ambitious and distinguished crowds ; I should 
have been spared this trial. I have every reason to be happy, 
very happy, now ; but then, Harry, I own I should have 
been happier.” 

Busy recollections of old hopes, cherished as a girl, long 
ago, crowded into the mind of Rose, while making this 
avowal ; but they brought tears with them, as old hopes 
will when they come back withered ; and they relieved her. 

“I cannot help this weakness, and it makes my purpose 


A PARTING. 8S5 

stronger,*’’ said Rose, extending her liand. I must leave 
you now, indeed.” 

ask one promise,” said Harry. ‘‘’ Once, and only once 
more, — say within a year, but it may be much sooner, — I 
may speak to you again on this subject, for the last time.” 

“ Not to press me to alter my right determination,” replied 
Rose, with a melancholy smile ; “ it will be useless.” 

“No,” said Harry; “to hear you repeat it, if you will — 
finally repeat it ! I will lay at your feet, whatever of station 
or fortune I may possess ; and if you still adhere to your 
present resolution, will not seek, by word or act, to change 
it.” 

“Then let it be so,” rejoined Rose; “it is but one pang 
the more, and by that time I may be enabled to bear it 
better.” 

^ She extended her hand again. But the young man caught 
her to his bosom; and imprinting one kiss on her beautiful 
forehead, hurried from the room. 


CHAPTER XXXVI. 


IS A VERY SHORT ONE, AND MAY APPEAR OP' NO GREAT IMPORT- 
ANCE IN ITS PLACE, BUT IT SHOULD BE READ NOTWITHSTAND- 
ING, AS A SEQUEL TO THE LAST, AND A KEY TO ONE THAT 
WILL FOLLOW WHEN ITS TIME ARRIVES. 

‘^And so you are resolved to be my travelling companion 
this morning ; eh ? ” said the doctor, as Harry May lie joined 
him and Oliver at the breakfast-table. Why, you are not 
in the same mind or intention two half-hours together ! 

You will tell me a different tale one of these days,^ said 
Harry, colouring without any perceptible reason. 

hope I may have good cause to do so,*” replied Mr. 
Losberne ; though I confess I don’t think I shall. But 
yesterday morning you had made up your mind, in a great 
hurry, to stay here, and to accompany your mother, like a 
dutiful son, to the sea-side. Before noon, you announce 
that you are going to do me the honour of accompanying 
me as far as I go, on your road to London. And at night, 
you urge me, with great mystery, to start before the ladies 
are stirring; the consequence of which is, that young Oliver 
here is pinned down to his breakfast when he ought to be 
ranging the meadows after botanical phenomena of all kinds. 
Too bad, isn’t it, Oliver?” 

I should have been very sorry not to have been at home 
when you and Mr. Maylie Avent away, sir,” rejoined Oliver. 

‘‘That’s a fine fellow,” said the doctor; “you shall come 


m 


MR. HARJ^Y DEPARTS. 

and see me when you return. But, to speak seriously, Harry ; 
has any communication from the great nobs produced this 
sudden anxiety on your part to be gone ? ’’ 

^^The great nobs,*” replied Harry, under which designa- 
tion, I presume, you include my most stately uncle, have not 
communicated with me at all, since I have been here ; nor, 
at this time of the year, is it likely that anything would 
occur to render necessary my immediate attendance among 
them.*” 

^^Well,*” said the doctor, ^‘you are a queer fellow. But 
of course they will get you into parliament at the election 
before Christmas, and these sudden shiftings and changes are 
no bad preparation for political life. There’s something in 
that. Good training is always desirable, whether the race 
be for place, cup, or sweepstakes.” 

Harry Maylie looked as if he could have followed up this 
short dialogue by one or two remarks that would have 
staggered the doctor not a little ; but he contented himself 
with saying, ‘^^We shall see,” and pursued the subject no 
farther. The post-chaise drove up to the door shortly after- 
wards ; and Giles coming in for the luggage, the good doctor 
bustled out, to see it packed. 

“^Oliver,” said Harry Maylie, in a low voice, ‘Met me 
speak a word with you.” 

Oliver walked into the window-recess to which Mr. Maylie 
beckoned him ; much surprised at the mixture of sadness and 
boisterous spirits, which his whole behaviour displayed. 

“ You can write well now ? ” said Harry, laying his hand 
upon his arm. 

“I hope so, sir,” replied Oliver. 

“ I shall not be at home again, perhaps for some time ; I 
wish you would write to me — say once a fortnight : every 
alternate Monday : to the General Post Office in London. 
Will you.?” 

“ Oh ! certainly, sir ; I shall be proud to do it,” exclaimed 
Oliver, greatly delighted with the commission. 


OLIVER TWIST. 

‘‘1 should like to know how — how my mother and Miss 
May lie are,"’ said the young man ; and you can fill up a 
sheet by telling me what walks you take, and what you talk 
about, and whether she — the^y, I mean — seem happy and 
quite well. You understand 'me?” 

Oh ! quite, sir, quite,” replied Oliver. 

^^I would rather you did not mention it to them,” said 
Harry, hurrying over his words ; because it might make my 
mother anxious to write to me oftener, and it is a trouble 
and worry to her. Let it be a secret between you and me ; 
and mind you tell me everything ! I depend upon you.” 

Oliver, quite elated and honoured by a sense of his im- 
portance, faithfully promised to be secret and explicit in his 
communications. Mr. Maylie took leave of him, with many 
assurances of his regard and protection. 

The doctor was in the chaise ; Giles (who, it had been 
arranged, should be left behind) held the door open in his 
hand ; and the women-servants were in the garden, looking 
on. Harry cast one slight glance at the latticed window, 
and jumped into the carriage. 

Drive on ! ” he cried, “ hard, fast, full gallop ! Nothing 
short of flying will keep pace with me, to-day.” 

Holloa ! ” cried the doctor, letting down the front glass 
in a great hurry, and shouting to the postillion ; some- 
thing very short of flying will keep pace with me. Do 
you hear?” 

Jingling and clattering, till distance rendered its noise 
inaudible, and its rapid progress only perceptible to the eye, 
the vehicle wound its way along the road, almost hidden in 
a cloud of dust : now wholly disappearing, and now becoming 
visible again, as intervening objects, or the intricacies of the 
way, permitted. It was not until even the dusty cloud was 
no longer to be seen, that the gazers dispersed. 

And there was one looker-on, who remained with eyes fixed 
upon the spot where the carriage had disappeared, long after 
it was many miles away ; for, behind the white curtain which 


ROSE SITS AT THE WINDOW. 329 

had shrouded her from view when Harry r^^ised his eyes 
towards the window, sat Rose herself. 

‘^He seems in high spirits and happy she said, at length. 
I feared for a time he might be otherwise. I was mistaken. 
I am very, very glad.*” 

Tears are signs of gladness as well as grief ; but those 
which coursed down Rose‘’s face, as she sat pensively at the 
window, still gazing in the same direction, seemed to tell 
more of sorrow than of joy. 


j 


CHAPTER XXXVII. 


IN WHICH THE READER MAY PERCEIVE A CONTRAST, NOT 
UNCOMMON IN MATRIMONIAL CASES. 

Mr. Bumble sat in the workhouse parlour, with his eyes 
moodily fixed on the cheerless grate, whence, as it was 
summer time, no brighter gleam proceeded, than the reflection 
of certain sickly rays of the sun, which were sent back from 
its cold and shining surface. A paper fly-cage dangled from 
the ceiling, to which he occasionally raised his eyes in gloomy 
thought ; and, as the heedless insects hovered round the 
gaudy net-work, Mr. Bumble would heave a deep sigh, while 
a more gloomy shadow overspread his countenance. Mr. 
Bumble was meditating ; it might be that the insects brought 
to mind, some painful passage in his own past life. 

Nor was Mr. Bumble’s gloom the only thing calculated to 
awaken a pleasing melancholy in the bosom of a spectator. 
There were not wanting other appearances, and those closely 
connected with his own person, which announced that a great 
change had taken place in the position of his affairs. The 
laced coat, and the cocked-hat ; where were they ? He still 
wore knee-breeches, and dark cotton stockings on his nether 
limbs ; but they were not the breeches. The coat was wide- 
skirted ; and in that respect like the coat, but, oh, how 
different ! The mighty cocked-hat was replaced by a modesi 
round one. Mr. Bumble was no longer a beadle. 

There are some promotions in life, which, independent o 


FAILURE OF MR. BUMBLE'S EYE. 


331 


the more substantial rewards they offer, acquire peculiar value 
and dignity from the coats and waistcoats connected with 
them. A field-marshal has his uniform ; a bishop his silk 
apron ; a counsellor his silk gown ; a beadle his cocked-hat. 
Strip the bishop of his apron, or the beadle of his hat and 
lace; what are they.^ Men. Mere men. Dignity, and even 
holiness too, sometimes, are more questions of coat and 
waistcoat than some people imagine. 

Mr. Bumble had married Mrs. Corney, and was master of 
the workhouse. Another beadle had come into power. On 
him the cocked-hat, gold-laced coat, and staff, had all three 
descended. 

And to-morrow two months it was done ! said Mr. 
Bumble, with a sigh. It seems a age.'** 

Mr. Bumble might have meant that he had concentrated 
a whole existence of happiness into the short space of eight 
weeks ; but the sigh — there was a vast deal of meaning in 
the sigh. 

I sold myself," said Mr. Bumble, pursuing the same train 
of reflection, ‘^for six teaspoons, a pair of sugar-tongs, and 
a milk-pot; with a small quantity of second-hand furniture, 
and tw^enty pound in money. I went very reasonable. Cheap, 
dirt cheap ! " 

“ Cheap ! " cried a shrill voice in Mr. Bumble s ear : you 
would have been dear at any price ; and dear enougii J paid 
for you. Lord above knows that ! " 

Mr. Bumble turned, and encountered the face of hi3 
interesting consort, who, imperfectly comprehending the few 
words she had overheard of his complaint, had hazarded the 
foregoing remark at a venture. 

Mrs. Bumble, ma’am ! " said Mr. Bumble, with sentimental 
sternness. 

“ Well ! " cried the lady. 

^^Have the goodness to look at me," said Mr. Bumble, 
fixing his eyes upon her. If she stands such a eye as that," 
said Afr. Bumble to himself, ‘^she can stand anything. It 




OLIVER TWIST. 


is a eye I never knew to fail with paupers. If it fails with 
her, my power is gone.’") 

Whether an exceedingly small expansion of eye be sufficient 
to quell paupers, who, being lightly fed, are in no very high 
condition ; or whether the late Mrs. Corney was particularly 
proof against eagle glances; are matters of opinion. The 
matter of fact is, that the matron v/as in no way overpowered 
by Mr. Bumble’s scowl, but, on the contrary, treated it with 
great disdain,' and even raided a laugh thereat, which sounded 
as though it were genuine. 

On hearing this most unexpected sound, Mr. Bumble looked, 
first incredulous, and afterwards amazed. He then relapsed 
into his former state; nor did he rouse himself until his 
attention was again awakened by the voice of his partner. 

‘^Are you going to sit snoiing there, all day.^” inquired 
Mrs. Bumble. 

. “ I am going to sit here, as long as I think proper, ma’am,” 
rejoined Mr. Bumble; “and although I was not snoring, I 
shall snore, gape, sneeze, laugh, or cry, as the humour strikes 
me; such being my prerogative.” 

“ Your prerogative ! ” sne;ered Mrs. Bumble, with ineffable 
contempt. 

“I said the word, ma’am,” said Mr. Bumble. “The pre- 
rogative of a man is to command.” 

“And what’s the prerogative of a woman, in the name of 
Goodness ? ” cried the relict of Mr. Corney deceased. 

“To obey, ma’am,” thundered Mr. Bumble. “Your late 
unfortunate husband should have taught it you; and then, 
perhaps, he might have been alive now. I wish he was, poor 
man ! ” 

Mrs. Bumble, seeing at a glance, that the decisive moment 
had now amved, and that a blow struck for the mastership 
on one side or other, must necessarily be final and conclusive, 
no sooner heard this allusion to the dead and gone, than she 
dropped into a chair, and with a loud scream that Mr. P’ "de 
was a hard-hearted brute, fell into a paroxysm of t^*' 


MR. BUMBLE ASSERTS HIS SUPERIORITY. 333 


But, tears were not the things to find their way to Mr. 
Bumble’s soul ; his heart was waterproof. Like washable 
beaver hats that improve with rain, his nerves were rendered 
stouter and more vigorous, by showers of tears, which, being 
tokens of weakness, and so far tacit admissions of his own 
power, pleased and exalted him. He eyed his good lady 
with looks of great satisfaction, and begged, in an encour- 
aging manner, that she should cry her hardest : the exercise 
being looked upon, by the faculty, as strongly conducive to 
health. 

It opens the lungs, washes the countenance, exercises 
the eyes, and , softens down the temper,” said Mr. Bumble. 
‘‘So cry away.” 

As he discharged himself of this pleasantry, Mr. Bumble 
took his hat from a peg, and putting it on, rather rakishly, 
on one side, as a man might, who felt he had asserted his 
superiority in a becoming manner, thrust his hands into his 
pockets, and sauntered towards the door, with much ease 
and waggishness depicted in his whole appearance. 

Now, Mrs. Corney that was, had tried the tears, because 
they were less troublesome than a manual assault; but, she 
w'^as quite prepared to make trial of the latter mode of 
proceeding, as Mr. Bumble w'as not long in discovering. 

The first proof he experienced of the fact, was conveyed in 
a hollow sound, immediately succeeded by the sudden flying 
off of his hat to the opposite end of the room. Tliis pre- 
liminary proceeding laying bare his head, the expert lady, 
clasping him tightly round the throat with one hand, inflicted 
a shower of blows (dealt with singular vigour and dexterity) 
upon it with the other. This done, she created a little 
variety by scratching his face, and tearing his hair; and, 
having, by this time, inflicted as much punishment as she 
deemed necessary for the offence, she pushed him over a chair, 
which was luckily well situated for the purpose : and defied 
him to talk about his prerogative again, if he dared. 

“ Get up ! ” said Mrs. Bumble, in a voice of command. 


334 


OLIVER TWIST. 


‘‘And take yourself away from here, unless you want me to 
do something desperate.” 

Mr. Bumble rose with a very rueful countenance : wonder- 
ing much what something desperate might be. Picking up 
his hat, he looked towards the door. 

“Are you going demanded Mrs. Bumble. 

“Certainly, my dear, certainly,” rejoined Mr. Bumble, 
making a quicker motion towards the door. “ I didn’t intend 
to — I’m going, my dear! You are so very violent^ that 
really I—” 

At this instant, Mrs. Bumble stepped hastily forward to 
replace the carpet, which had been kicked up in the scuffle. 
Mr. Bumble immediately darted out of the room, without 
bestowing another thought on his unfinished sentence : leaving 
the late Mrs. Comey in full possession of the field. 

Mr. Bumble was fairly taken by surprise, and fairly beaten. 
He had a decided propensity for bullying: derived no in- 
considerable pleasure from the exercise of petty cruelty ; and, 
consequently, was (it is needless to say) a coward. This is 
by no means a disparagement to his character; for many 
official personages, who are held in high respect and admira- 
tion, are the victims of similar infirmities. The remark is 
made, indeed, rather in his favour than otherwise, and with 
a view of impressing the reader with a just sense of his 
qualifications for office. 

But, the measure of his degradation was not yet full. 
After making a tour of the house, and thinking, for the first 
time, that the poor-laws really were too hard on people ; and 
that men who ran away from their wives, leaving them 
chargeable to the parish, ought, in justice, to be visited with 
no punishment at all, but rather rewarded as meritorious 
individuals who had suffered much ; Mr. Bumble came to a 
room where some of the female paupers were usually employed 
in washing the parish linen : whence the sound of voices in 
conversation, now proceeded. 

“ Hem ! ” said Mr. Bumble, summoning up all his native 


THE MIGHTY FALLEN. 


335 


dignity. These women at least shall continue to respect 
the prerogative. Hallo ! hallo there ! What do you mean 
by this noise, you hussies?*” 

With these words, Mr. Bumble opened the door, and 
walked in with a very fierce and angry manner : which was 
at once exchanged for a most humiliated and cowering air, 
as his eyes unexpectedly rested on the form of his lady wife. 

My dear,’’ said Mr. Bumble, I didn’t know you were here.” 

^‘Didn’t know I was here 1” repeated Mrs. Bumble. “What 
do yau do here ? ” 

“ I thought they were talking rather too much to be doing 
their work properly, my dear,” replied Mr. Bumble : glancing 
distractedly at a couple of old women at the wash-tub, who 
were comparing notes of admiration at the workhouse-master’s 
humility. 

“ You thought they were talking too much ? ” said Mrs. 
Bumble. “ What business is it of yours ? ” 

“Why, my dear — ” urged Mr. Bumble submissively. 

“What business is it of yours?” demanded Mrs. Bumble, 
again. 

“It’s very true, you’re matron here, my dear,” submitted 
Mr. Bumble; “but I thought you mightn’t be in the way 
just then.” 

“ I’ll tell you what, Mr. Bumble,” returned his lady. “ We 
don’t want any of your interference. You’re a great deal 
too fond of poking your nose into things that don’t concern 
you, making everybody in the house laugh, the moment your 
back is turned, and making yourself look like a fool every 
hour in the day. Be off ; come ! ” 

Mr. Bumble, seeing with excruciating feelings, the delight 
of the two old paupers, who were tittering together most 
rapturously, hesitated for an instant. Mrs. Bumble, whose 
patience brooked no delay, caught up a bowl of soap-suds, 
and motioning him towards the door, ordered him instantlv 
to depart, on pain of I’eceiving the contents upon his portly 
person. 


636 - 


OLIVER TWIST. 


What could Mr. Bumble do ? He looked dejectedly 
round, and slunk away; and, as he reached the door, the 
titterings of the paupers broke into a shrill chuckle of 
irrepressible delight. It wanted but this. He was degraded 
in their eyes; he had lost caste and station before the very 
paupers; he had fallen from all the height and pomp of 
beadleship, to the lowest depth of the most snubbed hen- 

“ All in two months ! ’’ said Mr. Bumble, filled with dismal 
thoughts. “ Two months ! No more than two months ago, 
I was not only my own master, but everybody else‘*s, so far 
as the porochial workhouse was concerned, and now ! — ’’ 

It was too much. Mr. Bumble boxed the ears of the boy 
who opened the gate for him (for he had reached the portal 
in his reverie) ; and walked, distractedly, into the street. 

He walked up one street, and down another, until exercise 
had abated the first passion of his grief ; and then the revul- 
sion of feeling made him thirsty. He passed a great many 
public-houses; but, at length paused before one in a by-way, 
whose parlour, as he gathered from a hasty peep over the 
blinds, was deserted, save by one solitary customer. It began 
to rain, heavily, at the moment. This determined him. Mr. 
Bumble stepped in ; and ordering something to drink, as he 
passed the bar, entered the apartment into which he had 
looked from the street. 

The man who was seated there, was tall and dark, and 
wore a large cloak. He had the air of a stranger; and 
seemed, by a certain haggardness in his look, as well as by 
the dusty soils on his dress, to have travelled some distance. 
He eyed Bumble askance, as he entered, but scarcely deigned 
to nod his head in acknowledgment of his salutation. 

Mr. Bumble had quite dignity enough for two : supposing 
even that the stranger had been more familiar : so he drank 
his gin-and-water in silence, and read the paper with great 
show of pomp and circumstance. 

It so happened, however: as it will happen very often, 





MR. BUMBLE AND THE STRANGER. 337 


when men fall into company under such circumstances : that 
Mr. Bumble felt, every now and then, a powerful inducement, 
which he could not resist, to steal a look at the stranger: 
and that whenever he did so, he withdrew his eyes, in some 
confusion, to find that the stranger was at that moment 
stealing a look at him. Mr. Bumble’s awkwardness was 

o 

enhanced by the very remarkable expression of the stranger’s 
eye, which was keen and bright, but shadowed by a scowl of 
distrust and suspicion, unlike anything he had ever observed 
before, and repulsive to behold. 

When they had encountered each other’s glance several 
times in this way, the stranger, in a harsh, deep voice, broke 
silence. 

“ Were you looking for me,” he said, when you peered 
in at the window.^” 

“Not that I am aware of, unless you’re Mr. ” Here 

Mr. Bumble stopped short; for he was curious to know the 
stranger’s name, and thought in his impatience, he might 
supply the blank. 

“I see you were not,” said the stranger; an expression of 
quiet sarcasm playing about his mouth ; “ or you would have 
known my name. You don’t know it. I would recommend 
you not to ask for it.” 

“I meant no harm, young man,” observed Mr. Bumble, 
majestically. 

“ And have done none,” said the stranger. 

Another silence succeeded this short dialogue : which was 
again broken by the stranger. 

“I have seen you before, I think?” said he. “You were 
differently dressed at that time, and I only passed you in 
the street, but I should know you again. You were beadle 
‘ here, once ; v/ere you not ? ” 

“I was,” said Mr. Bumble, in some surprise; “porochial 
beadle.” 

“Just so,” rejoined the other, nodding his head. “It 
in that character I saw you. What are you now ? ” 


was 


338 


OLIVER 


‘‘Master of tlie workhouse,' 
and impressively, to check any 
might otherwise assume. “T 


1 Mr. Bumble, slowly 
amiliarity the stranger 
the workhouse, young 


I •j'* 

man 1 

“You have the same eye ; own interest, that you 

always had, I doubt not?**' resUix*v,J the stranger, looking 
keenly into Mr. Bumble'^s eyes, as he raised them in astonish- 
ment at the question. “ Don^t scruple to answer freely, man. 
I know you pretty well, you see/’ 

“ I suppose, a married man,” replied Mr. Bumble, shading 
his eyes with his hand, and surveying the stranger, from 
head to foot, in evident perplexity, “is not more averse to 
turning an honest penny when he can, than a single one. 
Porochial officers are not so well paid that they can afford 
to refuse any little extra fee, when it comes to them in a 
civil and proper manner.” 

The stranger smiled, and nodded his head again : as much 
as to say, he had not mistaken his man ; then rang the bell. 

“Fill this glass again,” he said, handing Mr. Bumble's 
empty tumbler to the landlord. “Let it be strong and hot. 
You like it so, I suppose.^” 

“Not too strong,” replied Mr. Bumble, with a delicate 


cougli. 

“ You understand what that means, landlord ! ” said the 
stranger, drily. 

The host smiled, disappeared, and shortly afterwards 
returned with a steaming jorum : of which, the first gulp 
brought the water into Mr. Bumble’s eyes. 

“Now listen to me,” said the stranger, after closing the 
door and window. “ I came down to this place, to-day, to 
find you out; and, by one of those chances which the devil 
throws in the way of his friends sometimes, you walked into 
the very room I was sitting in, while you were uppermost 
in my mind. I want some information from you. I don’t 
ask you to give it for nothing, slight as it is. Put up that, 
to begin with,” 


A NURSE WANTED. 


339 


As he spoke, he pushed a couple of sovereigns across the 
table to his companion, carefully, as though unwilling that 
the chinking of money should be heard without. When Mr. 
Bumble had scrupulously examined the coins, to see that 
they were genuine, and had put them up, with much satisfac- 
tion, in his w^aistcoat-pocket, he w ent on : 

“ Carry your memory back — let me see — tw^elve years, last 
winter.**’ 

^‘It’s a long time,” said Mr. Bumble. “Very good. Fve 
done it.” 

“ The scene, the workhouse.” 

“ Good!” 

“And the time, night.” 

“Yes.” 

“ And the place, the crazy hole, wherever it was, in which 
miserable drabs brought forth the life and health so often 
denied to themselves — gave birth to puling children for the 
parish to rear ; and hid their shame, rot ’em, in the grave 1 ” 

“The lying-in room, I suppose said Mr. Bumble, not 
quite following the stranger’s excited description. 

“Yes,” said the stranger. “A boy was born there.” 

“ A many boys,” observed Mr. Bumble, shaking his head, 
despondingly. 

“ A murrain on the young devils ! ” cried the stranger ; 
“I speak of one; a meek-looking, pale-faced boy, who was 
apprenticed down here, to a coffin-maker — I wish he had 
made his coffin, and screwed his body in it — and who after- 
wards ran away to London, as it was supposed.” 

“Why you mean Oliver! Young Twist!” said Mr. 
Bumble; “I remember him, of course. There w^asn’t a 
obstinater young rascal ” 

“It’s not of him I want to hear; I’ve heard enough of 
him,” said the stranger, stopping Mr. Bumble in the outset 
of a tirade on the subject of poor Oliver’s vices. “ It’s of a 
woman ; the hag that nursed his mother. Where is she ? 

“ Where is she ? ” said Mr. Bumble, wffiom the gin-and-water 


840 


OLIVER TWIST. 


had rendered facetious. It would be hard to tell. There's 
no midwifery there, whichever place she’^s gone to ; so I sup- 
pose she's out of employment, anyway." 

What do you mean ? " demanded the stranger, sternly. 

“That she died last winter," rejoined Mr. Bumble. 

The man looked fixedly at him when he had given this 
information, and although he did not withdraw his eyes for 
some time afterwards, his gaze gradually became vacant and 
abstracted, and he seemed lost in thought. For some time, 
he appeared doubtful whether he ought to be relieved or 
disappointed by the intelligence; but at length he breathed 
more freely; and withdrawing his eyes, observed that it was 
no great matter. With that he rose, as if to depart. 

But Mr. Bumble was cunning enough ; and he at once saw 
that an opportunity was opened, for the lucrative disposal 
of some secret in the possession of his better half. He well 
remembered the night of old Sally's death, which the occur- 
rences of that day had given him good reason to recollect, 
as the occasion on which he had proposed to Mrs. Corney; 
and although that lady had never confided to him the dis- 
closure of which she had been the solitary witness, he had 
heard enough to know that it related to something that had 
occurred in the old woman's attendance, as workhouse nurse, 
upon the young mother of Oliver Twist. Hastily calling 
this circumstance to mind, he informed the stranger, with an 
air of mystery, that one woman had been closeted with the 
old harridan shortly before she died; and that she could, 
as he had reason to believe, throw some light on the subject 
of his inquiry. 

“ How can I find her ? " said the stranger, thrown off his 
guard ; and plainly showing that all his fears (whatever they 
were) were aroused afresh by the intelligence. 

“Only through me," rejoined Mr. Bumble. 

“ When ? " cried the stranger, hastily. 

“To-morrow," rejoined Bumble. 

“At nine in the evening," said the stranger, producing 



ANOTHER INTERVIEW ARRANGED FOR. 34-1 

scrap of paper, and writing down upon it, an obscure address 
by the water-side, in characters that betrayed his agitation ; 
‘‘at nine in the evening, bring her to me there. I needn’t 
tell you to be secret. It’s your interest.” 

With these words, he led the way to the door, after 
stopping to pay for the liquor that had been drunk. Shortly 
remarking that their roads were different, he departed, with- 
out more ceremony than an emphatic repetition of the hour 
of appointment for the following night. 

On glancing at the address, the parochial functionary 
observed that it contained no name. The stranger had not 
gone far, so he made after him to ask it. 

‘^What do you want.^^” cried the man, turning quickly 
round, as Bumble touched him on the arm. “Following 
me.?” 

“ Only to ask a question,” said the other, pointing to the 
scrap of paper. “ What name am I to ask for ? ” 

“Monks!” rejoined the man; and strode, hastily, away. 


CHAPTER XXXVIII. 


CONTAINING AN ACCOUNT OF WHAT PASSED BETWEEN MR. AND 
MRS. BUMBLE, AND MR. MONKS, AT THEIR NOCTURNAL 
INTERVIEW. 

It was a dull, close, overcast summer evening. The clouds, 
which had been threatening all day, spread out in a dense 
and sluggish mass of vapour, already yielded large drops of 
rain, and seemed to presage a violent thunder-storm, when 
Mr. and Mrs. Bumble, turning out of the main street of the 
town, directed their course towards a scattered little colony 
of ruinous houses, distant from it some mile and a-half, or 
thereabouts, and erected on a low unwholesome swamp, 
bordering upon the river. 

They were both wrapped in old and shabby outer garments, 
which might, perhaps, serve the double purpose of protecting 
their persons from the rain, and sheltering them from observa- 
tion. The husband carried a lantern, from which, however, 
no light yet shone; and trudged on, a few paces in front, as 
though — the way being dirty — to give his wife the benefit 
of treading in his heavy foot-prints. They went on, in 
profound silence ; every now and then, Mr. Bumble relaxed 
his pace, and turned his head as if to make sure that his 
helpmate was following; then, discovering that she was close 
at his heels, he mended his rate of walking, and proceeded, 
at a considerable increase of speed, towards their place of 
destination. 


MR. AND MRS. BUMBLE WAIT ON MONKS. 843 


This was far from being a place of doubtful character; 
for it had long been known as the residence of none but low 
ruffians, who, under various pretences of living by their 
labour, subsisted chiefly on plunder and crime. It was a 
collection of mere hovels : some, hastily built with loose 
bricks : others, of old worm-eaten ship-timber : jumbled 
together without any attempt at order or arrangement, and 
planted, for the most part, within a few feet of the river’s 
bank. A few leaky boats drawn up on the mud, and made 
fast to the dwarf wall which skirted it : and here and there 
an oar or coil of rope : appeared, at first to indicate that 
the inhabitants of these miserable cottages pursued some 
avocation on the river; but a glance at the shattered and 
useless condition of the articles thus displayed, would have 
led a passer-by, without much difficulty, to the conjecture 
that they were disposed there, rather for the preservation of 
appearances, than with any view to their being actually 
employed. 

In the heart of this cluster of huts; and skirting the 
river, which its upper stories overhung ; stood a large building, 
formerly used as a manufactory of some kind. It had, in 
its day, probably furnished employment to the inhabitants 
of the surrounding tenements. But it had long since gone 
to ruin. The rat, the worm, and the action of the damp, 
had weakened and rotted the piles on which it stood; and a 
considerable portion of the building had already sunk down 
into the water; while the remainder, tottering and bending 
over the dark stream, seemed to wait a favourable opportunity 
of following its old companion, and involving itself in the 
same fate. 

It was before this ruinous building that the worthy couple 
paused, as the first peal of distant thunder reverberated in 
the air,^and the rain commenced pouring violently down. 

“ The place should be somewhere here,” said Bumble, 
consulting a scrap of paper he held in his hand. 

Halloa there ! ” cried a voice from above. 


314 


OLIVER TWIS" 


Following the sound, Mr. Bumble - his head, and 

descried a man looking out of a door, breast-high, on the 
second story. 

Stand still, a minute,’’ cried the voice ; Fll be with you 
directly.” With which the head disappeared, and the door 
closed. 

Is that the man ? ” asked Mr. Bumble’s good lady. 

Mr. Bumble nodded in the affirmative. 

Then, mind what I told you,” said the matron : “ and be 
careful to say as little as you can, or you’ll betray us at once.” 

Mr. Bumble, who had eyed the building with very rueful 
looks, was apparently about to express some doubts relative 
to the advisability of proceeding any further with the enter- 
prise just then, when he was prevented by the appearance of 
Monks : who opened a small door, near which they stood, and 
beckoned them inwards. 

Come in ! ” he cried impatiently, stamping his foot upon 
the ground. “ Don’t keep me here ! ” 

The womto, who had hesitated at first, walked boldly in, 
without any other invitation. Mr. Bumble, who was ashamed 
or afraid to lag behind, followed : obviously very ill at ease 
and with scarcely any of that remarkable dignity which was 
usually his chief characteristic. 

“What the devil made you stand lingering there, in the 
wet.^” said Monks, turning round, and addressing Bumble, 
after he had bolted the door behind them. 

“ We — we were only cooling ourselves,” stammered Bumble, 
looking apprehensively about him. 

“Cooling yourselves!” retorted Monks. “Not all the 
rain that ever fell, or ever will fall, will put as much of 
hell’s fire out, as a man can carry about with him. You 
won’t cool yourselves so easily ; don’t think it ! ” 

AVith this agreeable speech. Monks turned short upon the 
matron, and bent his gaze upon her, till even she, who was 
not easily cowed, was fain to withdraw her eyes, and tarn 
them towards the ground. 


A VIOLENT THUNDER-STORM. 


345 


^^This is the woman, is it?"’ demanded Monks. 

Hem ! That is the woman,” replied Mr. Bumble, mindful 
of his wife’s caution. 

You think women never can keep secrets, I suppose?” 
said the matron, interposing, and returning, as she spoke, 
the searching look of Monks. 

‘‘I know they will always keep one till it’s found out,” 
said Monks. 

“ And what may that be ? ” asked the matron. 

The loss of their own good name,” replied Monks. So, 
by the same rule, if a woman’s a party to a secret that 
might hang or transport her, I’m not afraid of her telling 
it to anybody ; not I ! Do you understand, mistress ? ” 

No,” rejoined the matron, slightly colouring as she spoke. 

‘^Of course you don’t !” said Monks. ^^How should you?” 

Bestowing something half-way between a smile and a frown 
upon his two companions, and again beckoning them to 
follow him, the man hastened across the apartment, which 
was of considerable extent, but low in the roof. He was 
preparing to ascend a steep staircase, or rather ladder, lead- 
ing to another floor of warehouses above : when a bright 
flash of lightning streamed down the aperture, and a peal 
of thunder followed, which shook the crazy building to its 
centre. 

Hear it ! ” he cried, shrinking back. Hear it ! Rolling 
and crashing on as if it echoed through a thousand caverns 
where the devils were hiding from it. I hate the sound ! ” 

He remained silent for a few moments ; and then, removing 
his hands suddenly from his face, showed, to the unspeakable 
discomposure of Mr. Bumble, that it was much distorted, 
and discoloured. 

These fits come over me, now and then,” said Monks, 
observing his alarm; ‘^and thunder sometimes brings them 
on. Don’t mind me now ; it’s all over for this once.” 

Thus speaking, he led the way up the ladder; and hastily 
closing the window-shutter of the room into which it led^ 


OLIVER TWIST. 


lowered a lantern which hung at the end of a rope and 
pulley passed through one of the heavy beams in the ceiling : 
and which cast a dim light upon an old table and three 
chairs that were placed beneath it. 

Now,’’ said Monks, when they had all three seated them- 
selves, “ the sooner we come to our business, the better for 
all. The woman knows what it is, does she.^^” 

The question was addressed to Bumble ; but his wife 
anticipated the reply, by intimating that she was perfectly 
acquainted with it. 

He is right in saying that you were with this hag the 
night she died ; and that she told you something — ” 

About the mother of the boy you named,” replied the 
matron interrupting him. ^^Yes.” 

The first question is, of what nature was her communica- 
tion ? ” said Monks. 

That’s the second,” observed the woman with much 
deliberation. ^^The first is, what may the communication 
be worth ? ” 

“Who the devil can tell that, without knowing of what 
kind it is ? ” asked Monks. 

“ Nobody better than you, I am persuaded,” answered Mrs. 
Bumble : who did not want for spirit, as her yokefellow could 
abundantly testify. 

“ Humph ! ” said Monks significantly, and with a look of 
eager inquiry; “there may be money’s worth to get, eh.^^” 

“Perhaps there may,” was the composed reply. 

“ Something that was taken from her,” said Monks. 
“Something that she wore. Something that — ” 

“You had better bid,” intenmpted Mrs. Bumble. “I 
have heard enough, already, to assure me that you are the 
man I ought to talk to,” 

Mr. Bumble, who had not yet been admitted by his better 
half into any greater share of the secret than he had originally 
possessed, listened to this dialogue with outstretched neck 
and distended eyes : which he directed towards his wife and 


MRS. BUMBLE MANAGES THE CONFERENCE. 347 

Monks, by turns, in undisguised astonishment; increased, if 
])ossible, when the latter sternly demanded what sum was 
required for the disclosure. 

WhaFs it worth to you ? asked the woman, as collectedly 
as before. 

^‘It may be nothing; it may be twenty pounds,’** replied 
Monks. Speak out, and let me know which.” 

Add five pounds to the sum you have named ; give me 
five-and-twenty pounds in gold,” said the woman; “and I’ll 
tell you all I know. Not before.” 

“ Five-and-twenty pounds ! ” exclaimed Monks, drawing 
back. 

“I spoke as plainly as I could,” replied Mrs. Bumble. 
“ It’s not a large sum, either.” 

“ Not a large sum for a paltry secret, that may be nothing 
when it’s told ! ” cried Monks impatiently ; “ and which has 
been lying dead for twelve years past or more ! ” 

“ Such matters keep well, and, like good wine, often double 
their value in course of time,” answered the matron, still 
preserving the resolute indifference she had assumed. “As 
to lying dead, there are those who will lie dead for twelve 
thousand years to come, or twelve million, for anything you 
or I know, who will tell strange tales at last ! ” 

“ What if I pay it for nothing ? ” asked Monks, hesitating. 

“ You can easily take it away again,” replied the matron. 
“ I am but a woman ; alone here ; and unprotected.” 

“Not alone, my dear, nor unprotected neither,” submitted 
Mr. Bumble, in a voice tremulous with fear : “ / am here, 
my dear. And besides,” said Mr. Bumble, his teeth chatter- 
ing as he spoke, “ Mr. Monks is too much of a gentleman to 
attempt any violence on porochial persons. Mr. Monks is 
aware that I am not a young man, my dear, and also that I 
am a little run to seed, as I may say ; but he has heerd : I 
say I have no doubt Mr. Monks has heerd, my dear : that 
I am a very determined officer, with very uncommon strength, 
if I’m once roused. I only want a little rousing; that’s all,” 


348 


OLIVER 


, melancholy feint of 
lination; and plainly 
every feature, that he 
ittle, prior to making 
less, indeed, against 
trained down for the 

e, in reply; ‘‘and had 


As Mr. Bumble spoke, he 
grasping his lantern with fien 
showed, by the alarmed expre 
did want a little rousing, anc 
any very warlike demonstra' 
paupers, or other person or 
purpose. 

“You are a fool,*” said Mrs. 
better hold your tongue.*” 

“ He had better have cut it out, before he cn.me, if he can't 
speak in a lower tone,” said Monks, grimly. “So! He's 
your husband, eh ? ” 

“ He my husband ! ” tittered the matron, parrying the 
question. 

“I thought as much, when you came in,” rejoined Monks, 
marking the angry glance which the lady darted at her 
spouse as she spoke. “So much the better; I have less 
hesitation in dealing with two people, when I find that 
there's only one will between them. I'm in earnest. See 
here ! ” 

He thrust his hand into a side-pocket ; and producing a 
canvas bag, told out twenty-five sovereigns on the table, and 
pushed them over to the woman. 

“Now,” he said, “gather them up; and when this cursed 
peal of thunder, which I feel is coming up to break over the 
house-top, is gone, let's hear your story.” 

The thunder, which seemed in fact much nearer, and to 
shiver and break almost over their heads, having subsided. 
Monks, raising his face from the table, bent forward to listen 
to what the woman should say. The faces of the three nearly 
touched, as the two men leant over the small table in their 
eagerness to hear, and the woman also leant forward to 
render her whisper audible. The sickly rays of the suspended 
lantern falling directly upon them, aggravated the paleness 
and anxiety of their countenances : which, encircled by the 
deepest gloom and darkness, looked ghastly in the extreme. 


MRS. BUMBLE BEGINS HER STORY. 3i9 


“ When this woman, that we called old Sally, died,” the 
matron began, “she and I were alone.” 

“Was there no one by.?” asked Monks, in the same 
hollow whisper ; “ no sick wretch or idiot in some other 
bed ? No one who could hear, and might, by possibility, 
understand ? ” 

“ Not a soul,” replied the woman ; “ we were alone. I 
stood alone beside the body when death came over it.” 

“ Good,” said Monks, regarding her attentively. “ Go on.” 

“She spoke of a young creature,” resumed the matron, 
“ who had brought a child into the world some years before ; 
not merely in the same room, but in the same bed, in which 
she then lay dying.” 

“ Ay ? ” said Monks, with quivering lip, and glancing over 
his shoulder, “ Blood ! How things come about ! ” 

“The child was the one you named to him last night,” 
said the matron, nodding carelessly towards her husband ; 
“ the mother this nurse had robbed.” 

“In life.?” asked Monks. 

“In death,” replied the woman, with something like a 
shudder. “She stole from the corpse, when it had hardly 
turned to one, that which the dead mother had prayed her, 
with her last breath, to keep for the infant’s sake.” 

“ She sold it .? ” cried Monks, with desperate eagerness ; 
“ did she sell it .? Where ? When To whom .? How long 
before .? ” 

“As she told me, with great difficulty, that she had done 
this,” said the matron, “she fell back and died.” 

“Without saying more.?” cried Monks, in a voice which, 
from its very suppression, seemed only the more furious. 
“ It’s a lie ! I’ll not be played with. She said more. Fll 
tear the life out of you both, but I’ll know what it was.” 

“She didn’t utter another word,” said the woman, to all 
appearance unmoved (as Mr. Bumble was very far from being) 
by the strange man’s violence; “but she clutched my gown, 
violently, with one hand, which was partly closed ; and when 


350 


OLIVER TWIST. 


I saw that she was dead^ and so removed the hand by force, 
I found it clasped a scrap of dirty paper.’’ 

Which contained — ” interposed Monks, stretching forward. 

Nothing,” replied the woman ; it was a pawnbroker s 
duplicate.” 

For what ? ” demanded Monks. 

‘^In good time I’ll tell you,” said the woman. ‘‘I judge 
that she had kept the trinket, for some time, in the hope of 
turning it to better account; and then had pawned it; and 
had saved or scraped together money to pay the pawnbroker’s 
interest year by year, and prevent its running out; so that 
if anything came of it, it could still be redeemed. Nothing 
had come of it; and, as I tell you, she died with the scrap 
of paper, all worn and tattered, in her hand. The time 
was out in two days ; I thought something might one day 
come of it too ; and so redeemed the pledge.” 

Where is it now ? ” asked Monks quickly. 

There^’' replied the woman. And, as if glad to be relieved 
of it, she hastily threw upon the table a small kid bag scarcely 
large enough for a French watch, which Monks pouncing 
upon, tore open with trembling hands. It contained a little 
gold locket : in which were two locks of hair, and a plain 
gold wedding-ring. 

^^It has the word ^Agnes’ engraved on the inside,” said 
the woman. There is a blank left for the surname; and 
then follows the date; which is within a year before the child 
was born. I found out that.” 

And this is all ? ” said Monks, after a close and eager 
scrutiny of the contents of the little packet. 

“All,” replied the wom.an. 

Mr. Bumble drew a long breath, as if he were glad to find 
that the story was over, and no mention made of taking the 
five-and-twenty pounds back again ; and now he took courage 
to wipe off the perspiration which had been trickling over his 
nose, unchecked, during the vLole of the previous dialogue. 

“ I knov/ nothing of the story, beyond what I can guess 


TWO QUESTIONS. S51 

said his wife addressing Monks, after a short silence; 
‘^and I want to know nothing; for it"s safer not. But I 
may ask you two questions, may 

‘‘You may ask,*” said Monks, with some show of surprise; 
^‘but whether I answer or not is another question.**’ 

— Wj^iich makes three,**’ observed Mr. Bumble, essaying a 
stroke of facetiousness. 

‘‘Is that what you expected to get from me.^” demanded 
the matron. 

“ It is,” replied Monks. “ The other question ? ” 

“ What you propose to do with it ? Can it be used against 
me?” 

“Never,” rejoined Monks; “nor against me either. See 
here ! But don’t move a step forward, or your life is not 
worth a bulrush.” 

With these words, he suddenly wheeled the table aside, and 
pulling an iron ring in the boarding, threw back a large 
trap-door which opened close at Mr. Bumble’s feet, and 
caused that gentleman to retire several paces beickward, 
with great precipitation. 

“Look down,” said Monks, lowering the lantern into the 
gulf. “ Don’t fear me. I could have let you down, quietly 
enough, when you were seated over it, if that had been my 
game.” 

Thus encouraged the matron drew near to the brink ; and 
even Mr. Bumble himself, impelled by curiosity, ventured to 
do the same. The turbid water, swollen by the heavy rain, 
was rushing rapidly on below; and all other sounds were 
lost in the noise of its plashing and eddying against the 
green and slimy piles. There had once been a water-mill 
beneath; the tide foaming and chafing round the few rotten 
stakes, and fragments of machinery that yet remained, seemed 
to dart onward, with a new impulse, when freed from the 
obstacles v/hich had unavailingly attempted to stem its head- 
long course. 

If you flung a man’s body down there, where would it be 


35S 


OLIVER TWIST. 


to-morrow morning ? ’’ said Monks, swinging the lantern to 
and fro in the dark well. 

‘‘Twelve miles down the river, and cut to pieces besides,'** 
replied Bumble, recoiling at the thought. 

Monks drew the little packet from his breast, where he had 
hurriedly thrust it; and tying it to a leaden weight, which 
had formed a part of some pulley, and was lying on the floor, 
dropped it into the stream. It fell straight, and true as a 
die ; clove the water with a scarcely audible splash ; and was 
gone. 

The three looking into each other’s faces, seemed to breathe 
more freely. 

‘‘There!” said Monks, closing the trap-door, which fell 
heavily back into its former position. “ If the sea ever gives 
up its dead, as books say it will, it will keep its gold and 
silver to itself, and that trash among it. We have nothing 
more to say, and may break up our pleasant party.” 

“ By all means,” observed Mr. Bumble, with great alacrity. 

“You’ll keep a quiet tongue in your head, will you.?” 
said Monks, with a threatening look. “I am not afraid of 
your wife.” 

“You may depend upon me, young man,” answered Mr. 
Bumble, bowing himself gradually towards the ladder, with 
excessive politeness. “On everybody’s account, young man; 
on my own, you know, Mr. Monks.” 

“ I am glad, for your sake, to hear it,” remarked Monks. 
“ Light your lantern ! And get away from here as fast as 
you can.” 

It was fortunate that the conversation terminated at this 
point, or Mr. Bumble, who had bowed himself to within six 
inches of the ladder, would infallibly have pitched headlong 
into the room below. He lighted his lantern from that 
which Monks had detached from the rope, and now carried 
in his hand ; and making no effort to prolong the discourse, 
descended in silence, followed by his wife. Monks brought 
up the rear, after pausing on the steps to satisfy himself 





THE CONFERENCE ENDED. 


353 


that there were no other sounds to be heard than the beating 
of the rain without, and the rushing of the water. 

They traversed the lower room, slowly, and with caution ; 
for Monks started at every shadow ; and Mr. Bumble, holding 
his lantern a foot above the ground, walked not only with 
remarkable care, but with a marvellously light step for a 
gentleman of his figure : looking nervously about him for 
hidden trap-doors. The gate at which they had entered, was 
softly unfastened and opened by Monks; merely exchanging 
a nod with their mysterious acquaintance, the married couple 
emerged into the wet and darkness outside. 

They were no sooner gone, than Monks, who appeared to 
entertain an invincible repugnance to being left alone, called 
to a boy who had been hidden somewhere below. Bidding 
him go first, and bear the light, he returned to the chamber 
he had just quitted. 


CHAPTER XXXIX. 


INTRODUCES SOME RESPECTABLE CHARACTERS WITH WHOM THE 
READER IS ALREADY ACaUAINTED, AND SHOWS HOW MONKS 
AND THE JEW LAID THEIR WORTHY HEADS TOGETHER. 

On the evening following that upon which the three w^orthies 
mentioned in the last chapter, disposed of their little matter 
of business as therein narrated, Mr. William Sikes, awakening 
from a nap, drowsily growled forth an inquiry what time of 
night it was. 

The room in which Mr. Sikes propounded this question, was 
not one of those he had tenanted, previous to the Chertsey 
expedition, although it was in the same quarter of the town, 
and was situated at no great distance from his former lodgings. 
It was not, in appearance, so desirable a habitation as his 
old quarters : being a mean and badly-furnished apartment, 
of very limited size; lighted only by one small window in 
the shelving roof, and abutting on a close and dirty lane. 
Nor were there wanting other indications of the good gentle- 
man''s haWng gone down in the world of late ; for a great 
scarcity of furniture, and total absence of comfort, together 
with the disappearance of all such small moveables as spare 
clothes and linen, bespoke a state of extreme poverty; while 
ithe meagre and attenuated condition of Mr. Sikes himself 
would have fully confirmed these symptoms, if they had stood 
in any need of corroboration. 

The house-breaker was lying on the bed, WT'apped in his 


MR. SIKES AS AN INVALID. 


355 


white great-coat, by way of dressing-gown, and displaying a 
set of features in no degree improved by the cadaverous hue 
of illness, and the addition of a soiled nightcap, and a stiff, 
black beard of a week’s growth. The dog sat at the bedside : 
now eyeing his master with a wistful look, and now pricking 
his ears, and uttering a low growl as some noise in the street, 
or in the lower part of the house, attracted his attention. 
Seated by the window, busily engaged in patching an old 
waistcoat which formed a portion of the robber’s ordinary 
dress, was a female : so pale and reduced with watching and 
privation, that there would have been considerable difficulty 
in recognising her as the same Nancy who has already figured 
in this tale, but for the voice in which she replied to Mr. 
Sikes’s question. 

Not long gone seven,” said the girl. “ How do you feel 
to-night. Bill?” 

As weak as water,” replied Mr. Sikes, with an imprecation 
on his eyes and limbs. Here ; lend us a hand, and let me 
get off this thundering bed anyhow.” 

Illness had not improved Mr. Sikes’s temper; for, as the 
girl raised him up and led him to a chair, he muttered 
various curses on her aw^kwardness, and struck her. 

Whining are you ? ” said Sikes. “ Come ! Don’t stand 
snivelling there. If you can’t do anything better than that, 
cut off altogether. D’ye hear me ? ” 

I hear you,” replied the girl, turning her face aside, and 
forcing a laugh. ^‘What fancy have you got in your heatl 
now ? ” 

Oh ! you’ve thought better of it, have you ? ” growleil 
Sikes, marking the tear which trembled in her eye. ‘^All 
the better for you, you have.” 

“Why, you don’t mean to say, you’d be hard upon me 
to-night. Bill,” said the girl, laying her hand upon his 
shoulder. 

“ No ! ” cried Mr. Sikes. “ Why not ? ” 

“ Such a number of nights,” said the girl, with a touch or 


356 


OLIVER TWIST. 


woman^’s tenderness, which communicated something like 
sweetness of tone, even to her voice : such a number of 
nights as IVe been patient with you, nursing and caring for 
you, as if you had been a child : and this the first that Fve 
seen you like yourself ; you wouldn't have served me as you 
did just now, if you'd thought of that, would you? Come, 
come ; say you wouldn't." 

^^Well, then," rejoined Mr. Sikes, ‘^I wouldn't. Why, 
damme, now', the girl's whining again ! " 

It's nothing," said the girl, throwing herself into a chair. 
“ Don't you seem to mind me. It'll soon be over." 

“ What'll be over ? " demanded Mr. Sikes in a savage voice. 

What foolery are you up to, now, again ? Get up and bustle 
about, and don't come over me with your woman's nonsense." 

At any other time, this remonstrance, and the tone in which 
it was delivered, would have had the desired effect; but the 
girl being really weak and exhausted, dropped her head over 
the back of the chair, and fainted, before Mr. Sikes could 
get out a few of the appropriate oaths with which, on 
similar occasions, he was accustomed to garnish his threats. 
Not knowing, very well, what to do, in this uncommon 
emergency ; for Miss Nancy's hysterics were usually of that 
violent kind which the patient fights and struggles out of, 
wdthout much assistance ; Mr. Sikes tried a little blasphemy : 
and finding that mode of treatment wholly ineffectual, called 
for assistance. 

What's the matter here, my dear ? " said Fagin, looking in. 

Lend a hand to the girl, can't you ? " replied Sikes 
impatiently. “ Don't stand chattering and grinning at me ! " 

With an exclamation of surprise, Fagin hastened to the 
girl's assistance, while Mr. John Dawkins (otherwise the 
Artful Dodger), who had followed his venerable friend into 
the room, hastily deposited on the floor a bundle with which 
he was laden ; and snatching a bottle from the grasp of 
Master Charles Bates who came close at his heels, uncorked 
it in a twinkling with his teeth, and poured a portion of 


JS. 








MB. FAGIN AS A SICK-VISITOR. 357 

its contents down the patient’s throat : previously taking a 
taste, himself, to prevent mistakes. 

Give her a whiff of fresh air with the bellows, Charley,’’ 
said Mr. Dawkins; ‘^and you slap her hands, Fagin, while 
Bill undoes the petticuts.” 

These united restoratives, administered with great energy : 
especially that department consigned to Master Bates, who 
appeared to consider his share in the proceedings, a piece of 
unexampled pleasantry : were not long in producing the 
desired effect. The girl gradually recovered her senses ; and, 
staggering to a chair by the bedside, hid her face upon the 
pillow : leaving Mr. Sikes to confront the new-comers, in 
some astonishment at their unlooked-for appearance. 

‘‘Why, what evil wind has bio wed you here.^” he asked 
Fagin. 

“ No evil wind at all, my dear, for evil winds blow nobody 
any good ; and Fve brought something good with me, that 
you’ll be glad to see. Dodger, my dear, open the bundle; 
and give Bill the little trifles that we spent all our money 
on, this morning.” 

In compliance with Mr. Fagin’s request, the Artful untied 
his bundle, which was of large size, and formed of an old 
table-cloth ; and handed the articles it contained, one by one, 
to Charley Bates : who placed them on the table, with various 
encomiums on their rarity and excellence. 

“ Sitch a rabbit pie. Bill,” exclaimed that young gentleman, 
disclosing to view a huge pasty ; “ sitch delicate creeturs, 
with sitch tender limbs. Bill, that the wery bones melt in 
your mouth, and there’s no occasion to pick ’em ; half a 
pound of seven and sixpenny green, so precious strong that 
if you mix it with biling water, it’ll go nigh to blow the lid 
of the tea-pot off; a pound and a-half of moist sugar that 
the niggers didn’t work at all at, afore they got it up to 
sitch a pitch of goodness, — oh no ! Two half-quartern brans ; 
pound of best fresh; piece of double Glo’ster; and, to wind 
up all, some of the richest sort you ever lushed ! ” 


S58 


OLIVER TWIST. 


Uttering this last panegyric, Master Bates j>roduced, from 
one of his extensive pockets, a full-sized wine-bottle, carefully 
corked ; while Mr. Dawkins, at the same instant, poured out 
a wine-glassful of raw spirits from the bottle he igarried : 
which the invalid tossed down his throat without a moment's 
hesitation. 

^^Ah!’’ said Fagin, mbbing his hands with great satisfac- 
tion. You’ll do. Bill; you’ll do now.” 

Do ! ” exclaimed Mr. Sikes ; I might have been done 
for, twenty times over, afore you’d have done anything to 
help me. What do you mean by leaving a man in this 
state, three weeks and more, you false-hearted wagabond ? ” 
Only hear him, boys ! ” said Fagin, shrugging his shoulders. 

And us come to bring him all these beau-ti-ful things.” 

‘^The things is well enough in their way,” observed Mr. 
Sikes: a little soothed as he glanced over the table; ‘‘but 
what have you got to say for yourself, why you should leave 
me here, down in the mouth, health, blunt, and everything 
else; and take no more notice of me, all this mortal time, 
than if I was that ’ere dog ? — Drive him down, Charley ! ” 

“ I never see such a jolly dog as that,” cried Master Bates, 
doing as he was desired. “Smelling the grub like a old 
lady a going to market ! He’d make his fortun on the stage 
that dog would, and rewive the drayma besides.” 

“Hold your din,” cried Sikes, as the dog retreated under 
the bed : still growling angrily. “ What have you got to 
say for yourself, you withered old fence, eh ? ” 

“ I was away from London, a week and more, my dear, on 
a plant,” replied the Jew. 

“And what about the other fortnight.^” demanded Sikes. 
“What about the other fortnight that you’ve left me lying 
here, like a sick rat in his hole ? ” 

“I couldn’t help it, Bill. I can’t go into a long expla- 
nation before company ; but I couldn’t help it, upon my 
honour.” 

“Upon your what?*” growled Sikes, with excessive disgust. 


mi. SIKES OUT OF TEMPEIl. 


359 


Here ! Cut me oft* a piece of that pie, one of you boys, to 
take the taste of that out of my mouth, or iFll choke me 
dead;’ 

Don’t be out of temper, my dear,” urged Fagin, sub- 
missively. I have never forgot you. Bill ; never once.” 

No ! I’ll pound it that you han’t,” replied Sikes, with a 
bitter grin. You’ve been scheming and plotting away, 
every hour that I have laid shivering and burning here ; and 
Bill was to do this; and Bill was to do that; and Bill was 
to do it all, dirt cheap, as soon as he got well : and was 
quite poor enough for your work. If it hadn’t been for the 
girl, I might have died.” 

There now. Bill,” remonstrated Fagin, eagerly catching 
at the word, If it hadn’t been for the girl ! Who but 
poor ould Fagin was the means of your having such a handy 
girl about you ? ” 

He says true enough there ! ” said Nancy, coming hastily 
forward. Let him be ; let him be.” 

Nancy’s appearance gave a new turn to the conversation ; 
for the boys, receiving a sly wink from the wary old Jew, 
began to ply her with liquor : of which, however, she took 
very sparingly; while Fagin, assuming an unusual flow of 
spirits, gradually brought Mr. Sikes into a better temper, by 
affecting to regard his threats as a little pleasant banter; 
and, moreover, by laughing very heartily at one or two 
rough jokes, which, after repeated applications to the spirit- 
bottle, he condescended to make. 

‘^It’s all very well,” said Mr. Sikes; ^^but I must have 
some blunt from you to-night.” 

I haven’t a piece of coin about me,” replied the Jew. 

^^Then you’ve got lots at home,” retorted Sikes; “and I 
must have some from there.” 

“ Lots ! ” cried Fagin, holding up his hands. “ I haven’t 
so much as would ” 

“I don’t know how much you’ve got, and I dare say you 
hardly know yourself, as it would take a pretty long time 


360 OIJVER TWIST. 

to count it,” said Sikes ; but I must have some to-night ; 
and that’s flat.” 

Well, well,” said Fagin, with a sigh, I’ll send the Artful 
round presently.” 

^^You won’t do nothing of the kind,” rejoined Mr. Sikes. 
“The Artful’s a deal too artful, and would forget to come, 
or lose his way, or get dodged by traps and so be perwented, 
or anything for an excuse, if you put him up to it. Nancy 
shall go to the ken and fetch it, to make all sure ; and I’ll 
lie down and have a snooze while she’s gone.” 

After a great deal of haggling and squabbling, Fagin 
beat down the amount of the required advance from five 
pounds to three pounds four and sixpence : protesting with 
many solemn asseverations that that would only leave him 
eighteenpence to keep house with ; Mr. Sikes sullenly remark- 
ing that if he couldn’t get any more he must be content 
with that, Nancy prepared to accompany him home; while 
the Dodger and Master Bates put the eatables in the cup- 
board. The Jew then, taking leave of his affectionate friend, 
returned homeward, attended by Nancy and the boys : 
Mr. Sikes, meanwhile, flinging himself on the bed, and 
composing himself to sleep away the time until the young 
lady’s return. 

In due course, they arrived at Fagin’s abode, where they 
found Toby Crackit and Mr. Chitling intent upon their 
fifteenth game at cribbage, which it is scarcely necessary to 
say the latter gentleman lost, and with it, his fifteenth and 
last sixpence : much to the amusement of his young friends. 
Mr. Crackit, apparently somewhat ashamed at being found 
relaxing himself with a gentleman so much his inferior in 
station and mental endowments, yawned, and inquiring after 
Sikes, took up his hat to go. 

“Has nobody been, Toby.^^” asked Fagin. 

“Not a living leg,” answered Mr. Crackit, pulling up his 
collar; “it’s been as dull as swipes. You ought to stand 
something handsome, Fagin, to recompense me for keeping 


MR. CHITLING ADMIRES MR. CRACKIT. 361 


house so long. Damme, Fm as flat as a juryman ; and 
should have gone to sleep, as fast as Newgate, if I hadn’t 
had the good natur’ to amuse this youngster. Horrid dull, 
Fm blessed if I an’t ! ” 

With these and other ejaculations of the same kind, Mr. 
Toby Crackit swept up his winnings, and crammed them 
into his waistcoat pocket with a haughty air, as though such 
small pieces of silver were wholly beneath the consideration 
of a man of his figure ; this done, he swaggered out of the 
room, with so much elegance and gentility, that Mr. Chitling, 
bestowing numerous admiring glances on his legs and boots 
till they were out of sight, assured the company that he 
considered his acquaintance cheap at fifteen sixpences an 
interview, and that he didn’t value his losses the snap of his 
little finger. 

‘‘Wot a rum chap you are, Tom!” said Master Bates, 
highly amused by this declaration. 

“ Not a bit of it,” replied Mr. Chitling. Am I, Fagin ? ” 

“A very clever fellow, my dear,” said Fagin, patting him 
on the shoulder, and winking to his other pupils. 

“ And Mr. Crackit is a heavy swell ; an’t he, Fagin ? ” asked 
Tom. 

“ No doubt at all of that, my dear.” 

“ And , it a creditable thing to have his acquaintance ; 
an’t it, Fagin ? ” pursued Tom. 

“Very much so, indeed, my dear. They’re only jealous, 
Tom, because he won’t give it to them.” 

^ “ Ah 1 ” cried Tom, triumphantly, “ that’s where it is ! He 
has cleaned me out. But I can go and earn some more, 
when I like ; can’t I, Fagin ? ” 

“To be sure you can, and the sooner you go the better, 
Tom ; so make up your loss at once, and don’t lose any 
more time. Dodger ! Charley ! It’s time you were on the 
lay. Come ! It’s near ten, and nothing done yet.” 

In obedience to this hint, the boys, nodding to Nancy, 
took up their hats, and left the room ; the Dodger and his 


OLIVER TWIST, 


% 


vivacious friend indulging, as they went, in many witticisms 
at the expense of Mr. Chitling; in whose conduct, it is but 
justice to say, there was nothing very conspicuous or peculiar : 
inasmuch as there are a great number of spirited young 
bloods upon town, who pay a much higher price than Mr. 
Chitling for being seen in good society : and a great number 
of fine gentlemen (composing the good society aforesaid) who 
establish their reputation upon very much the same footing 
as flash Toby Crackit. 

‘^Now,’’ said Fagin, when they had left the room, ‘‘Fll 
go and get you that cash, Nancy. This is only the key of 
a little cupboard where I keep a few odd things the boys 
get, my dear. I never lock up my money, for Fve got none 
to lock up, my dear — ha ! ha ! ha ! — none to lock up, ICs 
a poor trade, Nancy, and no thanks ; but I"m fond of seeing 
the young people about me ; and I bear it all, I bear it all. 
Hush ! he said, hastily concealing the key in his breast ; 
“ who'’s that ? Listen ! ’’’ 

The girl, who was sitting at the table with her arms 
folded, appeared in no way interested in the arrival : or to 
care whether the person, whoever he was, came or went: 
until the murmur of a man’s voice reached her ears. The 
instant she caught the sound, she tore oft* her bonnet and 
shawl, with the rapidity of lightning, and thrust them uiAder 
the table. The Jew, turning round immediately afterwards, 
she muttered a complaint of the heat : in a tone of languor 
that contrasted, very remarkably, with the extreme hasje 
and violence of this action : which, however, had been unob^'- 
served by Fagin, who had his back towards her at the time. ^ 
Bah ! ” he whispered, as though nettled by the interrup- 
tion; ‘‘it’s the man I expected before; he’s coming down 
stairs. Not a word about the money while he’s here, Nance. 
He won’t stop long. Not ten minutes, my dear.” 

Laying his skinny forefinger upon his lip, the Jew carried 
a candle to the door, as a man’s step Avas heard upon the 
stairs without. He reached it, at the same moment a.s the 


NANCY LISTENS. im 

visitor, who, coining hastily into the room, was close upon 
the girl before he observed her. 

It was Monks. 

‘^Only one of my young people,^* said Fagin, observing 
that Monks drew back, on beholding a stranger. “Don’t 
move, Nancy.” 

The girl drew closer to the table, and glancing at Monks 
with an air of careless levity, withdrew her eyes ; but as he 
turned his towards Fagin, she stole another look : so keen 
and searching, and full of purpose, that if there had been 
any bystander to observe the change, he could hardly have 
believed the two looks to have proceeded from the same 
person. 

“ Any news ? ” inquired Fagin. 

“ Great.” 

“And — and — good.^” asked Fagin, hesitating as though 
he feared to vex the other man by being too sanguine. 

“Not bad, any way,” replied Monks with a smile. 
have been prompt enough this time. Let me have a word 
with you.” 

The girl drew closer to the table, and made no offer to 

leave the room, although she could see that Monks was 

pointing to her. The Jew : perhaps fearing she might say 

something aloud about the money, if he endeavoured to get 

rid of her : pointed upward, and took Monks out of the 
room. 

“ Not that infernal hole we were in before,” she could hear 
the man say as they went up stairs. Fagin laughed; and 
making some reply which did not reach her, seemed, by the 
creaking of the boards, to lead his companion to the second 
story. 

Before the sound of their footsteps had ceased to echo 
through the house, the girl had slipped off* her shoes; and 
drawing her govTi loosely over her head, and muffling her 
arms in it, stood at the door, listening with breathless interest. 
The moment the noise ceased, she glided from the room ; 


864 


OLIVER TWIST. 


ascended the stairs with incredible softness and silence; and 
was lost in the gloom above. 

The room remained deserted for a quarter of an hour or 
more ; the girl glided back with the same unearthly tread ; 
and, immediately afterwards, the two men were heard descend- 
ing. Monks went at once into the street; and the Jew 
crawled up stairs again for the money. When he returned, 
the girl was adjusting her shawl and bonnet, as if preparing 
to be gone. 

“Why, Nance,’’ exclaimed the Jew, starting back as he 
put down the candle, “ how pale you are ! ” 

“ Pale ! ” echoed the girl, shading her eyes with her hands, 
as if to look steadily at him. 

“ Quite horrible. What have you been doing to yourself?” 

“ Nothing that I know of, except sitting in this close place 
for I don’t know how long and all,” replied the girl carelessly. 
“ Come ! Let me get back ; that’s a dear.” 

With a sigh for every piece of money, Fagin told the 
amount into her hand. They parted without more conversa- 
tion, merely interchanging a “good night.” 

When the girl got into the open street, she sat down 
upon a doorstep; and seemed, for a few moments, wholly 
bewildered and unable to pursue her way. Suddenly she 
arose; and hurrying on, in a direction quite opposite to that 
in which Sikes was awaiting her return, quickened her pace, 
until it gradually resolved into a violent run. After completely 
exhausting herself, she stopped to take breath : and, as if 
suddenly recollecting herself, and deploring her inability to 
do something she was bent upon, wrung her hands, and 
burst into tears. 

It might be that her tears relieved her, or that she felt 
the full hopelessness of her condition ; but she turned back ; 
and hurrying with nearly as great rapidity in the contrary 
direction : partly to recover lost time, and partly to keep 
pace with the violent current of her own thoughts : soon 
reached the dwelling where she had left the house-breaker. 


NANCY’S STRANGE DEMEANOUR. 


363 


If she betrayed any agitation, when she presented herself 
to Mr. Sikes, he did not observe it; for merely inquiring if 
she had brought the money, and receiving a reply in the 
affirmative, he uttered a growl of satisfaction, and replacing 
his head upon the pillow, resumed the slumbers which her 
arrival had interrupted. 

It was fortunate for her that the possession of money 
occasioned him so much employment next day in the way 
of eating and drinking; and withal had so beneficial an 
effect in smoothing down the asperities of his temper ; that 
he had neither time nor inclination to be very critical upon 
her behaviour and deportment. That she had all the 
abstracted and nervous manner of one who is on the eve of 
some bold and hazardous step, which it has required no 
common struggle to resolve upon, would have been obvious 
to the lynx-eyed Fagin, who would most probably have 
taken the alarm at once ; but Mr. Sikes lacking the niceties 
of discrimination, and being troubled with no more subtle 
misgivings than those which resolve themselves into a dogged 
roughness of behaviour towards everybody ; and being, 
furthermore, in an unusually amiable condition, as has been 
already observed ; saw nothing unusual in her demeanour, 
and indeed, troubled himself so little about her, that, had 
her agitation been far more perceptible than it was, it would 
have been very unlikely to have awakened his suspicions. 

As that day closed in, the girl’s excitement increased; 
and, when night came on, and she sat by, watching until 
the house-breaker should drink himself asleep, there was an 
unusual paleness in her cheek, and a fire in her eye, that 
even Sikes observed with astonishment. 

Mr. Sikes being weak from the fever, was lying in bed, 
taking hot water with his gin to render it less inflammatory ; 
and had pushed his glass towards Nancy to be replenished 
for the third or fourth time, when these symptoms first 
struck him. 

« Why, burn my body ! ” said the man, raising himself on 


366 


OLIVER TWIST. 


his hands as he stared the cirl in the face. “You look like 

c5 

a corpse come to life again. What's the matter ? " 

Matter!" replied the girl. Nothing. What do you 
look at me so hard for.^" 

“ What foolery is this ? " demanded Sikes, grasping her by 
the arm, and shaking her roughly. “ What is it ? What 
do you mean.^ What are you thinking of.^" 

Of many things. Bill," replied the girl, shivering, and as 
she did so, pressing her hands upon her eyes. But, Lord ! 
"What odds in that ? " 

Tlie tone of forced gaiety in which the last words were 
spoken, seemed to produce a deeper impression on Sikes 
than the wild and rigid look which had preceded them. 

I tell you wot it is," said Sikes ; if you haven't caught 
the fever, and got it cornin’ on, now, there's something more 
than usual in the wind, and something dangerous too. 
You're not a-going to — — . No, damme ! you wouldn't do 
that ! " 

‘‘Do what.^" asked the girl. 

“There ain't," said Sikes, fixing his eyes upon her, and 
muttering the words to himself; “there ain't a stauncher- 
hearted gal going, or I'd have cut her throat three months 
ago. She's got the fever coming on ; that's it." 

Fortifying himself with this assurance, Sikes drained the 
glass to the bottom, and then, with many grumbling oaths, 
called for his physic. The girl jumped up, with great 
alacrity; poured it quickly out, but with her back towards 
him ; and held the vessel to his lips, while he drank off the 
contents. 

“Now," said the robber, “come and sit aside of me, and 
put on your own face ; or I'll alter it so, that you w 
know it again when you do want it." 

The girl obeyed. Sikes, locking her hand in his, fell I 
upon the pillow : turning his eyes upon her face. '1 
closed ; opened again ; closed once more ; again opei 
He shifted his position restlessly ; and, after dozing ag 


A COMPOSING DRAUGHT. 


367 

and again, for two or three minutes, and as often springing 
up with a look of terror, and gazing vacantly about him, 
was suddenly stricken, as it were, while in the very attitude 
of rising, into a deep and heavy sleep. The grasp of his 
hand relaxed ; the upraised arm fell languidly by his side ; 
and he lay like one in a profound trance. 

^^The laudanum has taken effect at last,*’’ murmured the 
girl, as she rose from the bedside. “ I may be too late, 
even now.” 

She hastily dressed herself in her bonnet and shawl . 
looking fearfully round, from time to time, as if, despite the 
sleeping draught, she expected every moment to feel the 
pressure of Sikes’s heavy hand upon her shoulder; then, 
stooping softly over the bed, she kissed the robber’s lips; 
and then opening and closing the room-door with noiseless 
touch, hurried from the house. 

A watchman was crying half-past nine, down a dark 
passage through which she had to pass, in gaining the main 
thoroughfare. 

‘‘ Has it long gone the half-hour ? ” asked the girl. 

It’ll strike the hour in another quarter,” said the man : 
raising his lantern to her face. 

‘‘And I cannot get there in less than an hour or more,” 
muttered Nancy : brushing swiftly past him, and gliding 
rapidly down the street. 

Many of the shops were already closing in the back lanes 
and avenues through which she tracked her way, in making 
from Spitalflelds towards the West-End of London. The 
clock struck ten, increasing her impatience. She tore along 
the narrow pavement : elbowing the passengers from side to 
side ; and darting almost under the horses’ heads, crossed 
crowded streets, where clusters of persons were eagerly watch- 
ing their opportunity to do the like. 

“ The woman is mad ! ” said the people, turning to look 
after her as she rushed away. 

When she reached the more wealthy quarter of the town, 


368 


the streets were comparatively deserted ; and hete her head- 
long progress excited a still greater curiosity in the stragglers 
whom she hurried past. Some quickened their pace behind, 
as though to see whither she was hastening at such an unusual 
rate; and a few made head upon her, and looked back, 
surprised at her undiminished speed; but they fell oft' one 
by one ; and when she neared her place of destination, she 
was alone. 

It was a family hotel in a quiet but handsome street near 
Hyde Park. As the brilliant light of the lamp which burnt 
before its door, guided her to the spot, the clock struck 
eleven. She had loitered for a few paces as though irresolute, 
and making up her mind to advance; but the sound deter- 
mined her, and she stepped into the hall. The porter’s seat 
was vacant. She looked round with an air of incertitude, 
and advanced towards the stairs. 

“ Now, young woman ! ” said a smartly-dressed female, 
looking out from a door behind her, ‘‘who do you w^ant 
here ? ” 

“ A lady who is stopping in this house,” answered the girl. 

“ A lady ! ” was the reply, accompanied with a scornful 
look. “ What lady ? ” 

“ Miss Maylie,” said Nancy. 

The young woman, who had by this time, noted her 
appearance, replied only by a look of virtuous disdain; and 
summoned a man to answer her. To him, Nancy repeated 
her request. 

“ What name am I, to say ? ” asked the waiter. 

“ It’s of no use saying any,” replied Nancy. 

“ Nor business ? ” said the man. 

. “No, nor That neither,” rejoined the girl. “I must see 
the lady.” 

“ Come ! ” said the man, pushing her towards the door. 
“ None of this. Take yourself off.” 

“ I shall be carried out, if I go ! ” said the girl violently ; 
“and I can m.ake that a job that two of you won’t like to 


NANC 


do. Isn’t there anyb 
“that will see a simpl 
like me.?” 

This appeal produced 
man-cook, who with some 
on, and who stepped forward 
“ Take it up for her, Joe ; 
“ What’s the good ? ” replie( 
the young lady will see such 
This allusion to Nancy’ 
quantity of chaste wrat 
who remarked, with g 
disgrace to her sex ; ar 
! ruthlessly, into the k' 

“Do what you lik 
men again ; “ but d( 
give this message f 
The soft-hearte 
result was that th 
its delivery. 

“What’s it to 
stairs. 

“ That a young 
Maylie alone,” said 
hear the first word s 
hear her business, o' 
impostor.” 

“ I say,” said thr 
“You give the 
me hear the answ 
. The man ran 
breathless, liste 
expressions of 
lery prolific ; ai 
■-;he man retM 
stairs. 


world,'** said the first 


what has stood the 

wondering what ladies 
the first in a quartette 
ianas concluded, 
had weightier matters at 
\ i trembling limbs, to a 
from the ceiling. Here 



CHAPTER XL. 


A STRANGE INTERVIEW, WHICH IS A SEQUEL TO THE LAST 

CHAPTER. 

The girl s life had been squandered in the streets, and among 
the most noisome of the stews and dens of London, but 
there was something of the woman’s original nature left in 
her still ; and when she heard a light step approaching the 
door opposite to that by which she had entered, and thimght 
of the wide contrast which the small room would in another 
moment contain, she felt burdened with the sense of her 
own deep shame, and shrunk as though she could scarcely 
bear the presence of her with whom she had sought this 
interview. 

But struggling with these better feelings was pride, — the 
vice of the lowest and most debased creatures no less than 
of the high and self-assured. The miserable companion 
of thieves and ruffians, the fallen outcast of low haunts, the 
associate of the scourings of the jails and hulks, living 
within the shadow of the gallows itself,— even this degraded 
being felt too proud to betray a feeble gleam of the womanly 
feeling which she thought a weakness, but which alone 
connected her with that humanity, of which her wasting life 
had obliterated so many, many traces when a very child. 

She raised her eyes sufficiently to observe that the figure 
which presented itself was that of a slight and beautiful girl ; 
then, bending them on the ground, she tossed her head with 
aftected carelessness as she said : 


372 


OLIVER TWIST. 


. ‘‘It’s a hard matter to get to see you, lady. If I had 
taken offence, and gone away, as many would have done, 
you’d have been sorry for it one day, and not without 
reason either.” 

“ I am very sorry if any one has behaved harshly to you,” 
replied Rose. “Do not think of that. Tell me why you 
wished to see me. I am the person you inquired for.” 

The kind tone of this answer, the sweet voice, the gentle 
manner, the absence of any accent of haughtiness or dis- 
pleasure, took the girl completely by surprise, and she burst 
into tears. 

“ Oh, lady, lady ! ” she said, clasping her hands passionately 
before her face, “ if there was more like you, there would be 
fewer like me, — there would — there would ! ” 

“ Sit down,” said Rose, earnestly. “ If you are in poverty 
or affliction I shall be truly glad to relieve you if I can, — 
I shall indeed. Sit down.” 

A 

“Let me stand, lady,” said the girl, still weeping, “and 
do not speak to me so kindly till you know me better. It 
is growing late. Is — is — that door shut ? ” 

“ Yes,” said Rose, recoiling a few steps, as if to be nearer 
assistance in case she should require it. “ Why ” 

“Because,” said the girl, “I am about to put my life, and 
the lives of others in your hands. I am the girl that 
dragged little Oliver back to old Fagin’s, on the night he 
went out from the house in Pentonville.” 

“ You ! ” said Rose Maylie. 

“ I, lady ! ” replied the girl. “ I am the infamous creature 
you have heard of, that lives among the thieves, and that 
never from the first moment I can recollect my eyes and senses 
opening on London streets have known any better life, or ' 
kinder words than they have given me, so help me God ! Do ii 
not mind shrinking openly from me, lady. I am younger 
than you would think, to look at me, but I am well used to 
it. The poorest women fall back, as I make my way along 
the crowded pavement.” 


T^VO SISTER-WOMEN. 373 

“What dreadful things are these!” said Rose, involuntarily 
falling from her strange companion. 

“Thank Heaven upon your knees, dear lady,” cried the 
gild, “that you had friends to care for and keep you in your 
childhood, and that you were never in the midst of cold and 
hunger, and riot and drunkenness, and— and— something worse 
than all — as I have been from my cradle. I may use the 
word, for the alley and the gutter were mine, as they will be 
my death-bed.’" 

I pity you ! ” said Rose, in a broken voice. “ It wrings 
my heart to hear you ! ” 

“Heaven bless you for your goodness!” rejoined the girl. 

If you knew what I am sometimes, you would pity me, 
indeed. But I have stolen away from those who would 
surely murder me, if they knew I had been here, to tell 
you what I have overheard. Do you know a man named 
Monks ? ” 

^‘No,” said Rose. 

“He knows you,” replied the girl; “and knew you were 
here, for it was by hearing him tell the place that I found 
you out.” 

“ I never heard the name,” said Rose. 

Then he goes by some other amongst us,” rejoined the 
girl, “which I more than thought before. Some time ago, 
and soon after Oliver was put into your house on the night 
of the robbery, I— suspecting this man— listened to a con- 
versation held between him and Fagin in the dark. I found 
out, from what I heard, that Monks— the man I asked you 
about, you know — ” 

Yes,” said Rose, « I understand.” 

That Monks, pursued the girl, ‘^had seen him acci- 
dentally with two of our boys on the day we first lost him, 
and had known him directly to be the same child that he 
was watching for, though I couldn’t make out why. A 
bargain was struck with Fagin, that if Oliver was got back 
he should have a certain sum ; and he was to have more for 


OLIVER TWIST. 

making* him a thief, which this Monks wanted for some 
purpose of his own/** 

For what purpose ? asked Rose. 

‘^He caught sight of my shadow on the wall as I listened, 
in the hope of finding out,"" said the girl; ‘‘and there are 
not many people besides me that could have got out of their 
way in time to escape discovery. But I did ; and I saw him 
no more till last night."" 

“ And what occurred then ? "’ 

“Fll tell you, lady. Last night he came again. Again 
they went up stairs, and I, wrapping myself up so that my 
shadow should not betray me, again listened at the door. 
The first words I heard Monks say were these : ‘ So the 
only proofs of the boy"s identity lie at the bottom of the 
river, and the old hag that received them from the mother 
is rotting in her coffin." They laughed, and talked of his 
success in doing this ; and Monks, talking on about the boy, 
and getting very wild, said that though he had got the young 
devil’s money safely now, he"d rather have had it the other 
way ; for, what a game it would have been to have brought 
down the boast of the father’s will, by driving him through 
every jail in town, and then hauling him up for some capital 
felony which Fagin could easily manage, after having made 
a good profit of him besides.” 

“ WTiat is all this ! ” said Rose. 

“The truth, lady, though it comes from my lips,” replied 
the girl. “Then, he said, with oaths common enough in my 
ears, but strange to yours, that if he could gratify his hatred 
by taking the boy’s life without bringing his own neck in 
danger, he would; but, as he couldn’t, he’d be upon the 
watch to meet him at every turn in life; and if he took 
advantage of his birth and history, he might harm him yet. 
‘In short, Fagin," he says, ‘Jew as you are, you never laid 
such snares as I’ll contrive for my young brother, Oliver." ” 

“ His brother ! ” exclaimed Rose. 

“Those were liis words,” said Nancy, glancing uneasily 


WHAT NANCY OVERHEARD. 


round, as she had scarcely ceased to do, since she began to 
speak, for a vision of Sikes haunted her perpetually. And 
more. When he spoke of you and the other lady, and said 
it seemed contrived by Heaven, or the devil, against him, 
that Oliver should come into your hands, he laughed, and 
said there was some comfort in that too, for how many 
thousands and hundreds of thousands of pounds would you 
not give, if you had them, to know who your two-legged 
spaniel was.’’’ 

You do not mean,"" said Rose, turning very pale, to tell 
me that this was said in earnest ? "" 

‘‘He spoke in hard and angry earnest, if a man ever did,** 
replied the girl, shaking her head. “ He is an earnest man 
when his hatred is up. I know many who do worse things ; 
but Fd rather listen to them all a dozen times, than to that 
Monks once. It is growing late, and I have to reach home 
without suspicion of having been on such an errand as this. 
I must get back quickly."" 

“But what can I do.^^"" said Rose. “To what use can I 
turn this communication without you ? Back ! Why do 
you wish to return to companions you paint in such terrible 
colours.? If you repeat this information to a gentleman 
whom I can summon in an instant from the next room, you 
can be consigned to some place of safety without half an 
hour’s delay.” 

“ I wish to go back,” said the girl. “ I must go back, 
because — how can I tell such things to an innocent lady like 
you.? — because among the men I have told you of, there is 
one : the most desperate among them all : that I can’t leave ; 
no, not even to be saved from the life I am leading now.” 

“ Your having interfered in this dear boy’s behalf before,” 
said Rose; “your coming here, at so great a risk, to tell 
me what you have heard; your manner, which convinces me 
of the truth of what you say ; your evident contrition, and 
sense of shame; all lead me to believe that you might be 
yet reclaimed. Oh !” said the earnest girl, folding her hands 


876 


OLIVER TWIST. 


as the tears coursed down her face, not turn a deaf ear 
to the entreaties of one of your own sex; the first — the first, 
I do believe, who ever appealed to you in the voice of pity 
and compassion. Do hear my words, and let me save you 
yet, for better things.’’ 

‘^Lady,” cried the girl, sinking on her knees, ^^dear, sweet, 
angel lady, you are the first that ever blessed me with such 
words as these, and if I had heard them years ago, they 
might have turned me from a life of sin and sorrow ; but it 
is too late, it is too late ! ” 

It is never too late,” said Rose, for penitence and atone- 
ment.” 

It is,” cried the girl, writhing in the agony of her mind ; 
‘^I cannot leave him now! 1 could not be his death.” 

‘^Why should you be.^” asked Rose. 

^‘Nothing could save him,” cried the girl. ‘‘If I told 
others what I have told you, and led to their being taken, 
he would be sure to die. He is the boldest, and has been 
so cruel ! ” 

“Is it possible,” cried Rose, “that for such a man as this, 
you can resign every future hope, and the certainty of 
immediate rescue ? It is madness.” 

“I don’t know what it is,” answered the girl; “I only 
know that it is so, and not with me alone, but with hundreds 
of others as bad and wretched as myself. I must go back. 
Whether it is God’s wrath for the wrong I have done, I do 
not know ; but I am drawn back to him through every 
suffering and ill usage ; and I should be, I believe, if I knew 
that I was to die by his hand at last.” 

“What am I to do?” said Rose. “I should not let you 
depart from me thus.” 

“You should, lady, and I know you will,” rejoined the 
girl, rising. “You will not stop my going because I have 
trusted in your goodness, and forced no promise from you, 
as I might have done.” 

“ Of what use, then, is the communication you have made ?” 


377 


A PROMISE GIVEN. 

said Rose. ‘‘This mystery must be investigated, or how will 
its disc^losure to me, benefit Oliver, whom you are anxious 
to serve ? 

“You must have some kind gentleman about you that 
will hear it as a secret, and advise you what to do,’’ rejoined 
the girl. 

“ But where can I find you again when it is necessary ? ” 
asked Rose. “I do not seek to know where these dreadful 
people live, but where will you be walking or passing at any 
settled period from this time.^^” 

“Will you promise me that you will have my secret strictly 
kept, and come alone, or with the only other person that 
knows it ; and that I shall not be watched or followed ? ” 
asked the girl. 

“I promise you solemnly,” answered Rose. 

“Every Sunday night, from eleven until the clock strikes 
twelve,” said the girl without hesitation, “ I will walk on 
London Bridge if I am ‘alive.” 

Stay another moment,” interposed Rose, as the girl 
moved huniedly towards the door. “Think once again on 
your own condition, and the opportunity you have of escaping 
from it. You have a claim on me : not only as the voluntary 
bearer of this intelligence, but as a woman lost almost beyond 
redemption. Will you return to this gang of robbers, and 
to this man, when a word can save you.^ What fascination 
is it that can take you back, and make you cling to wicked- 
ness and misery ? Oh ! is there no chord in your heart that 
I can touch ! Is there nothing left, to which I can appeal 
against this terrible infatuation ! ” 

“When ladies as young, and good, and beautiful as you 
are,” replied the girl steadily, “give away your hearts, love 
will cany you all lengths — even such as you, who have home, 
friends, other admirers, everything, to fill them. When 
such as I, who have no certain roof but the coffin-lid, and 
no friend in sickness or death but the hospital nurse, set our 
rotten hearts on any man, and let him fill the place that 


OLIVER TWIST. 


'S78 

lias been a blank through all our wretched lives, who can 
hope to cure us? Pity us, lady — pity us for having only 
one feeling of the woman left, and for having that turned, 
by a heavy judgment, from a comfort and a pride, into a 
new means of violence and suffering.'''' 

^‘You will,**’' said Rose, after a pause, ‘Hake some money 
from me, which may enable you to live without dishonesty 
— at all events until we meet again ? *''' 

“ Not a penny replied the girl, waving her hand. 

^^Do not close your heart against all my efforts to help 
you,*" ^aid Rose, stepping gently forward. I wish to serve 
you indeed.*'^ 

“You would serve me best, lady,*'*' replied the girl, wringing 
her hands, “ if you could take my life at once ; for I have 
felt more giief to think of what I am, to-night, than I ever 
did before, and it would be something not to die in the hell 
in which I have lived. God bless you, sweet lady, and send 
as much happiness on your head as I have brought shame 
on mine ! ’’ 

Thus speaking, and sobbing aloud, the unhappy creature 
turned away; while Rose Maylie, overpowered by this extra- 
ordinary interview, which had more the semblance of a rapid 
dream than an actual occurrence, sank into a chair, and 
endeavoured to collect her wandering thoughts. 


CHAPTER XLI. 


CONTAINING FRESH DISCOVERIES, AND SHOWING THAT SURPRISES, 
LIKE MISFORTUNES, SELDOM COME ALONE. 

Her situation was, indeed, one of no common trial and 
difficulty. While she felt the most eager and burning 
desire to penetrate the mystery in which Olivers history 
was enveloped, she could not but hold sacred the confidence 
which the miserable woman with whom she had just conversed, 
had reposed in her, as a young and guileless girl. Her words 
and manner had touched Rose Mayhem’s heart; and, mingled 
with her love for her young charge, and scarcely less intense 
in its truth and fervour, was her fond wish to win the outcast 
back to repentance and hope. 

They purposed remaining in London only three days, prior 
to departing for some weeks to a distant part of the coast. 
It was now midnight of the first day. What course of 
action could she determine upon, which could be adopted 
in eight-and-forty hours Or how could she postpone the 
journey without exciting suspicion ? 

Mr. Losberne was with them, and would be for the next 
two days; but Rose was too well acquainted with the 
excellent gentleman^s impetuosity, and foresaw too clearly 
the wrath with which, in the first explosion of his indignation, 
he would regard the instrument of Oliver's re-capture, to 
triist him with the secret, when her representations in the 
girfs behalf could be seconded by no experienced person. 


B80 


OLIVER TWIST. 


These were all reasons for the greatest caution and most 
circumspect behaviour in communicating it to Mrs. Maylie, 
whose first impulse would infallibly be to hold a conference 
with the worthy doctor on the subject. As to resorting 
to any legal adviser, even if she had known how to do so, 
it was scarcely to be thought of, for the same reasons. Once 
the thought occurred to her of seeking assistance from Harry ; 
but this awakened the recollection of their last parting, and 
it seemed unworthy of her to call him back, when — the tears 
rose to her eyes as she pursued this train of reflection — he 
might have by this time learnt to forget her, and to be happier 
away. 

Disturbed by these different reflections ; inclining now to 
one course and then to another, and again recoiling from 
all, as each successive consideration presented itself to her 
mind; Rose passed a sleepless and anxious night. After 
more communing with herself next day, she arrived at the 
desperate conclusion of consulting Harry. 

‘‘If it be painful to him,‘^‘^ she thought, ‘^to come back 
here, how painful it will be to me ! But perhaps he will 
not come; he may write, or he may come himself, and 
studiously abstain from meeting me — he did when he went 
away. I hardly thought he would ; but it was better for us 
both.*” And here Rose dropped the pen, and turned away, 
as though the very paper which was to be her messenger 
should not see her weep. 

She had taken up the same pen, and laid it down again 
fifty times, and had considered and reconsidered the first 
line of her letter without writing the first word, when Oliver, 
who had been walking in the streets, with Mr. Giles for a 
body-guard, entered the room in such breathless haste and 
violent agitation, as seemed to betoken some new cause of 
alarm. 

“ What makes you look so flurried ? asked Rose, advancing 
to meet him. 

“ I hardly know how ; I feel as if I should be choked,” 


ROSE VISITS MR. BROWNLOW. 


381 


replied the boy. Oh dear ! To think that I should sec 
him at last, and you should be able to know that I have 
told you all the truth ! 

I never thought you had told us anything but the truth,"’ 
said Rose, soothing him. But what is this ? — of whom do 
you speak ? ” 

‘^I have seen the gentleman,” replied Oliver, scarcely able 
to articulate, ‘‘the gentleman who was so good to me — Mr. 
Brownlow, that we have so often talked about.” 

“ Where ? ” asked Rose. 

“Getting out of a coach,” replied Oliver, shedding tears 
of delight, “and going into a house. I didn’t speak to him 
— I couldn’t speak to him, for he didn’t see me, and I 
trembled so, that I was not able to go up to him. But 
Giles asked, for me, whether he lived there, and they said 
he did. Look here,” said Oliver, opening a scrap of paper, 
“ here it is ; here’s where he lives — I’m going there directly ! 
Oh, dear me, dear me ! What shall I do when I come to 
see him and hear him speak again ! ” 

With her attention not a little distracted by these and a 
great many other incoherent exclamations of joy. Rose read 
the address, which was Craven Street, in the Strand. She 
very soon determined upon turning the discovery to account. 

“ Quick ! ” she said. “ Tell them to fetch a hackney-coach, 
and be ready to go with me. I will take you there directly, 
without a minute’s loss of time. I will only tell my aunt 
that we are going out for an hour, and be ready as soon as 
you are.” 

Oliver needed no prompting to despatch, and in little 
more than five minutes they were on their way to Craven 
Street. When they arrived there. Rose left Oliver in the 
coach, under pretence of preparing the old gentleman to 
receive him ; and sending up her card by the servant, 
requested to see ]Mr. Bro^low on very pressing business. 
The servant soon returned, to beg that she would walk up 
stairs ; and following him into an upper room, Miss Maylie 


382 


c 


OLIVER TWIST. 


was presented to an elderly gentleman of benevolent appear- 
ance, in a bottle-green coat. At no great distance from 
whom, was seated another old gentleman, in nankeen breeches 
and gaiters; who did not look particularly benevolent, and 
who was sitting with his hands clasped on the top of a thick 
stick, and his chin propped thereupon. 

“Dear me,” said the gentleman, in the bottle-green coat, 
hastily rising with great politeness, “I beg your pardon, 
young lady — I imagined it was some importunate person who 
— I beg you will excuse me. Be seated, pray.” 

“Mr. Brownlow, I believe, sir.^” said Rose, glancing from 
the other gentleman to the one who had spoken. 

“That is my name,” said the old gentleman. “This is 
my friend, Mr. Grimwig. Grim wig, will you leave us for a 
few minutes ? ” 

“ I believe,” interposed Miss Maylie, “ that at this period of 
our interview, I need not give that gentleman the trouble 
of going away. If I am correctly informed, he is cognizant 
of the business on which I wish to speak to you.” 

Mr. Brownlow inclined his head. Mr. Grimwig, who had 
made one very stiff bow, and risen from his chair, made 
another very stiff bow, and dropped into it again. 

“I shall surprise you very much, I have no doubt,” said 
Rose, naturally embarrassed; “but you once showed great 
benevolence and goodness to a very dear young friend of 
mine, and I am sure you will take an interest in hearing of 
him again.” 

“ Indeed ! ” said Mr. Brownlow. 

“ Oliver Twist you knew him as,” replied Rose. 

The words no sooner escaped her lips, than Mr. Grimwig, 
who had been affecting to dip into a large book that lay on 
the table, upset it with a great crash, and falling back in 
his chair, discharged from his features every expression but 
one of unmitigated wonder, and indulged in a prolonged and 
vacant stare; then, as if ashamed of having betrayed so 
much emotion, he jerked himself, as it were, by a convulsion 


MR. GRIMWIG’S HEAD FOR I 



into his former attitude, and looking out straighi 
him emitted a long deep whistle, which seen ed, at last, not 
to be discharged on ‘empty air, but to die away in the 
innermost recesses of his stomach. 

Mr. Brownlow Avas no less surprised, afiiough his astonish- 
ment Avas not expressed in the same eccentric manner. He 
drew his chair nearer to Miss Mav]ie>, and said, 

“Do me the favour, my de'^ joung lady, to leave entirely 
out of the question that goodness and benevolence of Avhicii 
you speak, and of which nobody else knoAA^s anything ; and 
if you have it in your power to produce any evidence which 
will alter the unfaygurable opinion I Avas once induced to 
entertain of that poor child, in Heaven’s name put me in 
possession of it.” 

“A bad one! m eat my head if he is not a bad one,” 
growled Mr. (Jrimwig, speaking by some ventriloquial power, 

Avithout moving a muscle of his face. 

* f ^ 

“ He is child of a noble nature and a Avarm heart,” said 
Rose, coloiiring; “and that PoAver AvEich has thought lit to 
try him b yond his years, has planted in his breast affections 
and feelir^gs Avhich Avould do honour to many who have 
numbereq his days six times over.” 

“I’m only sixty-one,” said Mr. Grimwig, with the same 
rigid face. “And, as the devil’s in it if this Oliver is not 
twelve years old at least, I don’t see the application of that 
remark/*' 

Dr^ not heed my friend. Miss Maylie,” said Mr. Brownlow ; 
“ he d oes not mean Avhat he says.” 

Y es, he does,” growled Mr. Grimwig. 

he does not,” said Mr. BroAvnlow, obviously rising 
in wn tth as he spoke. 

H e’li eat his head, if he doesn’t,” growled Mr. Grimwig. 

“He AA'ould deserve to have it knocked off*, if he does,” 
said BroAvnlow. 

‘^A nd he’d uncommonly like to see any man offer to do 
it, rej^ponded Mr. Grimwig, knocking his stick upon the floor. 


OLIVER TWIST. 


.mg gone thus far, the two old gentlemen severally 
took snufF, and afterwards shook hands, according to their 
invariable custom. 

“Now, Miss Maylie,’" said Mr. Brownlow, “to return to 
the subject in whiEi your humanity is so much interested. 
Will you let me know wh{it intelligence you have of this 
])oor child: allowing -’^’Oremise that I exhausted every 
means in my power of disc»^ nng him, and that since I 
have been absent from this country, my first impression that 
he had imposed upon me, and had been persuaded by his 
former associates to rob me, has been considerably shaken.’’ 

Rose, who had had time to collect h^r thoughts, at once 
related, in a few natural words, all that had befallen Oliver 
since he left Mr. Brownlow’s house ; i^serving Nancy’s 
information for that gentleman’s private ear, Np-nd concluding 
with the assurance that his only sorrow, for"' some months 
past, had been the not being able to meet with his former 
benefactor and friend. 

“Thank God!” said the old gentleman. “Tb-^ Is great 
happiness to me, great happiness. But you hav not told 
me where he is now. Miss Maylie. You must pardon my 
finding fault with you, — but why not have brought iHim.^’ 

“ He is waiting in a coach at the door,” replied Ros^- 

“ At this door ! ” cried the old gentleman. With which 
he hurried out of the room, down the stairs, up the- coach- 
steps, and into the coach, without another word. 

When the room-door closed behind him, Mr. GF^niwig 
lifted up his head, and converting one of the hind legs of 
his chair into a pivot, described three distinct circles with 
the assistance of his stick and the table: sitting in H 
the time. After performing this evolution, he rose and 
limped as fast as he could up and down the room a‘t least 
a dozen times, and then stopping suddenly before Kose, 
kissed her without the slightest preface. 

“Hush!” he said, as the young lady rose in some alarm 
at this unusual proceeding. “Don’t be afraid. I’ eld 


A JOYFUL RECOGNITION. 385 

ugh to be your grandfather. You’re a sweet o-irl. I 
you. Here they are ! ” ° 

fact, as he threw himself at one dexterous dive into his 
T seat, Mr. Brownlow returned, accompanied by Oliver, 
" Mr. Grim wig received very graciously; and if the 
ration of that moment had been the only reward for 
■HU anxiety and care in Oliver’s behalf, Rose Maylie 
. rave been well repaid. 

'e is somebody else who should not be forgotten, 

' said Mr. Brownlow, ringing the bell. “Send 

■ vin here, if you please.” 

id. housekeeper answered the summons with all dis- 
1 dropping a curtsey at the door, waited for orders. ' 
you get blinder every day, Bedwin,” said Mr. 
•ather testily. 

' lat I do, sir,” replied the old lady. “People’s 

V ime of life, don t improve with age, sir.’’ 

have told you that,” rejoined Mr. Brownlow; 
“ '^our glasses, and see if you can’t find out what 

ye ' id for, will you ” 

' bepn to rummage in her pocket for her 
'■ Oliver’s patience was not proof against this 

new /ielding to his first impulse, he sprang into 

her 


him ; 
lady, h 

how lik 
have yoi b 
face, but " 

I have nt 
seen them 
dear childr 
creature,” J-'V^ 


to me ! cried the old lady, embracing 
locentboy!” 
arse ! ” cried Oliver. 

> back— I knew he would,” said the old 
n her arms. “ How well he looks, and 
in’s son he is dressed again! Where 
ong, long while.? Ah! the same 
: i ‘ ; the same soft eye, but not sc 
them or his quiet smile, but 
lide by side with those of my 
: gone since I was a lightsome ’ 
thus, and now holding Oliver 

2 c 


L±. . 


OLIVER TIVIST. 


386 

her to mark how he had grown, now clasping him to her 
and passing her fingers fondly through his hair, the good 
soul laugh^ and wept upon his neck by turns. 

Leaving her and Oliver to compare notes at leisure, Mr. 
Brownlow led the way into another' room 5 and there, heard 
from Rose a full narration of her interview with Nancy, 
which occasioned him no little surprise and perplexity. Rose ; 
also explained her reasons for not confiding in her friend Mr . 
Losberne in the first instance. The old gentleman considered 
that she had acted prudently, and readily undertook to hohd 
solemn conference with the worthy doctor himself. To affiord 
him an early opportunity for the execution of this design, it 
was arranged that he should call at the hotel at eight o’ clock 
that evening, and that in the meantime Mrs. Maylie should 
be cautiously informed of all that had occurred. These 
preliminaries adjusted. Rose and Oliver returned home. / 

Rose had by no means overrated the measure of the good' 
doctor’s wrath. Nancy’s history was no sooner unfolded to 
him, than he poured forth a shower of mingled threats and 
execrations ; threatened to make her the first victim of the 
combined ingenuity of Messrs. Blathers and Duff; and 
actually put on his hat preparatory to sallying forth to 
obtain the assistance of those worthies. And, doubtless, he 
would, in this first outbreak, have carried the intention into 
effect without a moment’s consideration of the consequences, 
if he had not been restrained, in part, by corresponding 
violence on the side of Mr. Brownlow, who was himself of 
an irascible temperament, and partly by such arguments 
and representations as seemed best calculated to dissuade 
him from his hotbrained purpose. 

“Then what the devil is to be done?” said the impetuous 
doctor, when they had rejoined the two ladies. “Are we to 
pass a vote of thanks to all these vagabonds, male an 
female, and beg them to accept a hundred pounds, or s< 
apiece, as a trifling mark of our esteem, and some sligl 
acknowledgnaent of their kindness to Oliver ?” 


MR. BROWNLOW’S HEAD FOR THINKING. 887 

“Not exactly that,” rejoined Mr. Brownlow, laughing; 
“ but we must proceed gently and with great care.” 

“Gentleness and care,” exclaimed the doctor. “I’d send 
them one and all to ” 

“Never mind where,” interposed Mr. Brownlow. “But 
reflect whether sending them anywhere is likely to attain 
the object we have in view.” 

“What object?” asked the doctor. 

“ Simply, the discovery of Oliver’s pai-entage, and regaining 
for him the inheritance of which, if this story be true, he 
has been fraudulently deprived.” 

“ Ah ! ” said Mr. Losbeme, cooling himself with his pocket- 
handkerchief ; “ I almost forgot that.” 

“You see,” pursued Mr. Brownlow; “placing this poor 
girl entirely out of the (Question, and supposing it were 
possible to bring these scoundrels to justice without com- 
promising her safety, what good should we bring about?” 

“Hanging a few of them at least, in all probability,” 
suggested the doctor, “and transporting the rest.” 

“Very good,” replied Mr. Brownlow smiling; “but no 
doubt they will bring that about for themselves in the 
fulness of time, and if we step in to forestal them, it seems 
to me that we shall be jjerforming a very Quixotic act, in 
direct opposition to our own interest — or at least to Oliver's, 
which is the same thing.” 

“How?” inquired the doctor. 

Thus. It is quite clear that we shall have extreme 
difliculty in getting to the bottom of this mystery, unless 
we can bring this man. Monks, upon his knees. That can 
only be done b; ■ stratagem, and by catching him when he 
is not surrounded by these people. For, suppose he were 
apprehended, we have no proof against him. He is not even 
(so far as we know, or as the facts appear to us) concerned 
with the gang in any of their robberies. If he were not 
discharged, it is very unlikely that he could receive any 
further punishment than being committed to prison as a 


388 


OLIVER TWIST. 


rogue and vagabond; and of course ever afterwards his 
mouth would be so obstinately closed that he might as well, 
for our purposes, be deaf, dumb, blind, and an idiot.” 

“Then,” said the doctor impetuously, “I put it to you 
again, whether you think it reasonable that this promise to 
the girl should be considered binding; a promise made with 
the best and kindest intentions, but really ” 

“Do not discuss the point, my dear young lady, pray,” 
said Mr. Brownlow, interrupting Rose as she was about to 
speak. “ The promise shall be kept. I don’t think it will, 
in the slightest degree, interfere with our proceedings. But, 
before we can resolve upon any precise course of action, it 
will be necessary to see the girl ; to ascertain from her 
whether she will point out this Monks, on the understanding 
that he is to be dealt with by us, and not by the law ; or, 
if she will not, or cannot do that, to procure from her such 
an account of his haunts and description of his person, as 
will enable us to identify him. She cannot be seen until 
next Sunday night; this is Tuesday. I would suggest that 
in the meantime, we remain perfectly quiet, and keep these 
matters secret even from Oliver himself.” 

Although Mr Losberne received with many wry faces a 
proposal involving a delay of five whole days, he was fain to 
admit that no better course occurred to him just then; 
and as both Rose and Mi-s. Maylie sided very strongly with 
Mr. Brownlow, that gentleman's proposition was carried 
unanimously. 

“ I should like,” he said, “ to call in the aid of my friend 
Grimwig. He is a strange creature, but a shrewd one, and 
might prove of material assistance to us; I should say that 
he was bred a lawyer, and quitted the Bar in disgust because 
he had only one brief and a motion of course, in twenty 
years, though whether that is a recommendation or not, you 
must determine for yourselves.” 

“ I have no objection to your calling in your friend if I 
may call in mine,” said the doctor. 


xV COMMllTEE FORMED. 389 

‘‘ We must put it to the vote,"" replied Mr. Brownlow, 
who may he be ? "" 

‘‘That lady"s son, and this young lady’s — very old friend,"" 
said the doctor, motioning towards Mrs. Maylie, and conclud- 
ing with an expressive glance at her niece. 

Rose blushed deeply, but she did not make any audible 
objection to this motion (possibly she felt in a hopeless 
minority); and Harry Maylie and Mr. Grimwig were accord- 
ingly added to the committee. 

“We stay in town, of course,"" said Mrs. Maylie, “while 
there remains the slightest prospect of prosecuting this 
inquiry with a chance of success. I will spare neither trouble 
nor expense in behalf of the object in which we are all so 
deeply interested, and I am content to remain here, if it be 
for twelve months, so long as you assure me that any hope 
remains."" 

“Good!"" rejoined Mr. Brownlow. “And as I see on 
the faces about me, a disposition to inquire how it happened 
that I was not in the way to corroborate Oliver’s tale, and 
had so suddenly left the kingdom, let' me stipulate that I 
shall be asked no questions until such time as I may deem 
it expedient to forestal them by telling ncy own story. 
Believe me, I make this request with good reason, for I 
might otherwise excite hopes destined never \ o be realised, 
and only increase difficulties and disappointments already 
quite numerous enough. Come ! Supper has been announced, 
and young Oliver, who is all alone in the next room, will 
have begun to think, by this time, that we have wearied of 
his company, and entered into some dark conspiracy to 
thrust him forth upon the world."" 

With^these words, the old gentleman gave his hand to 
Airs. Maylie, and escorted her into the supper-room. Mr. 
Losberne followed, leading Rose; and the council, was, for 
the present, effectually broken up. 


CHAPTER XLIL 


AX OLD ACaUAINTANCE OF OLIVER’S, EXHIBITING DECIDED MARKS OP 
GENIUS, BECOMES A PUBLIC CHARACTER IN THE METROPOLIS. 

Upon the night when Nancy, having lulled Mr. Sikes to 
sleep, hurried on her self-imposed mission to Rose Maylie, 
there advanced towards London, by the Great North Road, 
two persons, upon whom it is expedient that this history 
should bestow some attention. 

They were a man and woman ; or perhaps they would be 
better described as a male and female : for the former was 
one of those long-limbed, knock-kneed, shambling, bony 
people, to whom it is difficult to assign any precise age, — 
looking as they do, when they are yet boys, like undergrown 
men, and when they are almost men, like overgrown boys. 
The woman was young, but of a robust and hardy make, as 
she need have been to bear the weight of the heavy bundle 
which was strapped to her back. Her companion was not 
encumbered with much luggage, as there merely dangled 
from a stick which he carried over his shoulder, a small 
parcel wrapped in a common handkerchief, and apparently 
light enough. This circumstance, added to the length of 
his legs, which were of unusual extent, enabled him with 
much ease to keep some half-dozen paces in advance of his 
companion, to whom he occasionally turned with an impatient 
jerk of the head : as if reproaching her tardiness, and urging 
her to greater exertion. 

Thus, they had toiled along the dusty road, taking little 


MR. CLAYPOLE AND LADY. 


391 


heed of any object within sight, save when they stepped aside 
to allow a wider passage for the mail-coaches which were 
whirling out of town, until they passed through Highgate 
archway ; when the foremost traveller stopped and called 
impatiently to his companion. 

“Come on, can't yer.^ What a lazybones yer are, Char- 
lotte." 

“ It's a heavy load, I can tell you," said the female, coming 
up, almost breathless with fatigue. 

“Heavy! What are yer talking about? What are yer 
made for?" rejoined the male traveller, changing his own 
little bundle as he spoke, to the other shoulder. “Oh, there 
yer are, resting again ! Well, if yer ain't enough to tire any 
body's patience out, I don't know what is ! " 

“Is it much farther?" asked the woman, resting herself 
against a bank, and looking up with the perspiration stream- 
ing from her face. 

“Much farther! Yer as good as there," said the long- 
legged tramper, pointing out before him. “Look there! 
Those are the lights of London." 

“They're a good two mile off, at least," said the woman 
despondingly. 

“Never mind whether they're two mile off, or twenty," 
said Noah Claypole; for he it was; “but get up and come 
on, or I'll kick yer, and so I give yer notice." 

As Noah's red nose grew redder with anger, and as he 
crossed the road while speaking, as if fully prepared to put 
his threat into execution, the woman rose without any 
further remark, and trudged onward by his side. 

“Where do you mean to stop for the night, Noah?" she 
asked, after they had walked a few hundred yards. 

“ How should I know ? " replied Noah, whose temper had 
been considerably impaired by walking. 

“Near, I hope," said Charlotte. 

“ No, not near," replied Mr. Claypole. “ There ! Not 
near; so don’t think it." 


OLIVER TWIST. 


893 

^‘Why not?^’ 

‘^When I tell yer that I don'^t mean to do a thing, that’s 
enough, without any why or because either,” replied Mr. 
Clay}3ole with dignity. 

‘‘Well, you needn’t be so cross,” said his companion. 

“A pretty thing it would be, wouldn’t it, to go and stop 
at the very first public-house outside the town, so that 
Sowerberry, if he come up after us, might poke in his old 
nose, and have us taken back in a cart with handcuffs on,” 
said Mr. Claypole in a jeering tone. “ No ! I shall go and 
lose myself among the narrowest streets I can find, and not 
stop till we come to the very out-of-the-wayest house I can 
set eyes on. ’Cod, yer may thank yer stars I’ve got a head ; 
for if we hadn’t gone, at first, the wrong road a purpose, 
and come back across country, yer’d have been locked up 
hard and fast a week ago, my lady. And serve yer right 
for being a fool.” 

“ I know I ain’t as cunning as you are,” replied Charlotte ; 
“but don’t put all the blame on me, and say I should have 
been locked up. You would have been if I had been, any 
way.” 

“Yer took the money from the till, yer know yer did,” 
said Mr. Claypole. 

“I took it for you, Noah, dear,” rejoined Charlotte. 

“Did I keep it?” asked Mr. Claypole. 

“ No ; you trusted in me, and let me carry it like a dear, 
and so you are,” said the lady, chucking him under the chin, 
and drawing her arm through his. 

This was indeed the case ; but as it was not Mr. Claypole’s 
habit to repose a blind and foolish confidence in anybody, 
it should be observed, in justice to that gentleman, that he 
had trusted Charlotte to this extent, in order that, if they 
were pursued, the money might be found on her: which 
would leave him an opportunity of asserting his innocence 
of any theft,' and would greatly facilitate his chances of 
escape. Of course, he entered at this juncture, into no 


IN THE TAP OF THE THREE CRIPPLES. 893 


explanation of his motives, and they walked on very lovingly 
together. 

In pursuance of this cautious plan, Mr. Claypole went on, 
without halting, until he arrived at the Angel at Islington, 
“ where he wisely judged, from the crowd of passengers and 
number of vehicles, that London began in earnest. Just 
pausing to observe which appeared the most crowded streets, 
and consequently the most to be avoided, he crossed into 
Saint John^^s Road, and was soon deep in the obscurity of 
the intricate and dirty ways, which, lying between Gray’s 
Inn Lane and Smithfield, render that part of the town one 
of the lowest and worst that improvement has left in the 
midst of London. 

Through these streets, Noah Claypole walked, dragging 
Charlotte after him ; now stepping into the kennel to embrace 
at a glance the whole external character of some small public- 
house; now jogging on again, as some fancied appearance 
induced him to believe it too public for his purpose. At 
length, he stopped in front of one, more humble in appearance 
and more dirty than any he had yet seen ; and, having crossed 
over and surveyed it from the opposite pavement, graciously 
announced his intention of putting up there, for the night. 

‘^So give us the bundle,” said Noah, unstrapping it from 
the woman’s shoulders,, and slinging it over his own; ‘^and 
don’t yer speak, except when yer spoke to. What’s the 
name of the house — t-h-r — three what.^’^ 

‘‘‘Cripples,” said Charlotte. 

“Three Cripples,” repeated Noah, “and a very good sign 
too. Now, then ! Keep close at my heels, and come along.” 
With these injunctions, he pushed the rattling door with his 
shoulder, and ’ red the house, followed by his companion. 

There ' iy in the bar but a young Jew, who, with 

his two el he counter, was reading a dirty newspaper. 

He starec rd at Noah, and Noah stared very hard 

at him. 

If Noah 


n attired in his charity-boy’s dress, there 


OLIVER TWIST. 


394 

might have been some reason for the Jew opening his eyes 
so wide; but as he had discarded the coat and badge, and 
wore a short smock-frock over his leathers, there seemed no 
particular reason for his appearance exciting so much atten- 
tion in a public-house. 

Is this the Three Cripples ? asked Noah. 

That is the dabe of this ouse,’’’* replied the Jew. 

“A gentleman we met on the road, coming up from the 
country, recommended us here,"^' said Noah, nudging Charlotte, 
perhaps to call her attention to this most ingenious device 
for attracting respect, and perhaps to warn her to betray 
no surprise. “We want to sleeji here to-night. 

“Fb dot certaid you cad,” said Barney, who was the 
attendant sprite; “but Fll idquire.” 

“ Show us the tap, and give us a bit of cold meat and a 
drop of beer while yer inquiring, will yer ? ” said Noah. 

Barney complied by ushering them into a small back-room, 
and setting the required viands before them; having done 
which, he informed the travellers that they could be lodged 
that night, and left the amiable couple to their refreshment. 

Now, this back-room was immediately behind the bar, 
and some steps lower, so that any person connected with 
the house, undrawing a small curtain which concealed a 
single pane of glass fixed in the wall of the last-named 
apartment, about five feet from its flooring, could not only 
look down upon any guests in the back-room without any 
great hazard of being observed (the glass being in a dark 
angle of the wall, between which and a large upright beam 
the observer had to thrust himself), but could, by applying 
his ear to the partition, ascertain with tolerable distinctness, 
their subject of conversation. The landlord of the house 
had not withdrawn his eye from this place of espial for five 
minutes, and Barney had only just returned from making 
the communication above related, when Fagin, in the course 
of his evening'^s business, came into the bar to inquire after 
some of his young pupils. 


INTERESTING CONVERSATION OVERHEARD. 895 


“ Hush ! said Barney : stradegers id the next roob."^’ 
Strangers ! repeated the old man in a whisper. 

Ah ! Ad rub uds too,” added Barney. Frob the 
cuttry, but subthig in your way, or Fb bistaked.” 

Fagin appeared to receive this communication with great 
interest. Mounting a stool, he cautiously applied his eye 
to the pane of glass, from which secret post he could see 
Mr. Claypole taking cold beef from the dish, and porter 
from the pot, and administering homoeopathic doses of both 
to Charlotte, who sat patiently by, eating and drinking at 
his pleasure. 

“ Aha ! ” he whispered, looking round to Barney, I like 
that fellow'^s looks. HeM be of use to us ; he knows how to 
train the girl already. DonT make as much noise as a mouse, 
my dear, and let me hear ’em talk — let me hear ’em.” 

He again applied his eye to the glass, and turning his ear 
to the partition, listened attentively : with a subtle and eager 
look upon his face, that might have appertained to some old 
goblin. 

“ So I mean to be a gentleman,” said Mr. Claypole, kicking 
out his legs, and continuing a conversation, the commence- 
ment of which Fagin had arrived too late to hear. ‘^No 
more jolly old coffins, Charlotte, but a gentleman’s life for 
me : and, if yer like yer shall be a lady.” 

‘‘1 should like that well enough, dear,” replied Charlotte; 
^•^but tills ain’t to be emptied every day, and people to get 
clear off after it.” 

‘‘Tills be blowed ! ” said Mr. Claypole ; “ there’s more things 
besides tills to be emptied.” 

“What do you mean?’ asked his companion. 

“ Pockets, women’s ridicules, houses, mail-coaches, banks ! ” 
said Mr. Claypole, rising with the porter. 

“But you can’t do all that, dear,” said Charlotte. 

“I shall look out to get into company with them as can,” 
replied Noah. “They’ll be able to make us useful some 
way or another. Why, you yourself are worth fifty women ; 


I 


396 


OLIVER TWIST. 


I never see such a precious sly and deceitful creetur as yer 
can be when I let yer/’ 

Lor, how nice it is to hear you say so ! ” exclaimed 
Charlotte, imprinting a kiss upon his ugly face. 

There, that’ll do : don’t yer be too affectionate, in case 
I’m cross with yer,” said Noah, disengaging himself with 
great gravity. ‘^I should like to be the captain of some 
band, and have the whopping of ’em, and follering ’em 
about, unbeknown to themselves. That would suit me, if 
there was good profit; and if we could only get in with 
some gentlemen of this sort, I say it would be cheap at that 
twenty-pound note you’ve got, — especially as we don’t very 
well know how to get rid of it ourselves.” 

After expressing this opinion, Mr. Glaypole looked into the 
porter-pot with an aspect of deep wisdom; and having w^ell 
shaken its contents, nodded condescendingly to Charlotte, 
and took a draught, wherewith he appeared greatly refreshed. 
He was meditating another, when the sudden opening of the 
door, and the appearance of a stranger, interrupted him. 

The stranger was Mr. Fagin. And very amiable he looked, 
and a very low bow he made, as he advanced, and setting 
himself down at the nearest table, ordered something to 
drink of the grinning Barney. 

‘^A pleasant night, sir, but cool for the time of year,” 
said- Fagin, rubbing his hands. ‘‘From the country, I see, 
sir?” 

“ How do yer see that ? ” asked Noah Claypole. 

“We have not so much dust as that in London,” replied 
Fagin, pointing from Noah’s shoes to those of his companion, 
and from them to the two bundles. 

“ Yer a sharp feller,” said Noah. “ Ha ! ha ! only hear 
that, Charlotte ! ” 

“Why, one need be sharp in this town, my dear,” replied 
the Jew, sinking his voice to a confidential whisper; “and 
that’s the truth.” 

Fagin followed up this remark by striking the side of 




I 


‘1 

. 1 # 


■> 


■/ 



MR. CLAYPOLE IS ALARMED. 


397 


his nose with his right forefinger, — a gesture which Noah 
attempted to imitate, though not with complete success, in 
consequence of his own nose not being large enough for the 
purpose. However, Mr. Fagin seemed to interpret the en- 
deavour as expressing a perfect coincidence with his opinion, 
and put about the liquor which Barney re-appeared with, in 
a very friendly manner. 

^^Good stuff that,"’ observed Mr. Claypole, smacking his 
lips. 

^^Dear!” said Fagin. ^^A man need be always emptying 
a till, or a pocket, or a woman’s reticule, or a house, or a 
mail-coach, or a bank, if he drinks it regularly.” 

Mr. Claypole no sooner heard this extract from his own 
remarks than he fell back in his chair, and looked from the 
Jew to Charlotte with a countenance of ashy paleness and 
excessive terror. 

“ Don’t mind me, my dear,” said Fagin, drawing his chair 
closer. Ha ! ha ! it was lucky it was only me that heard 
you by chance. It was very lucky it was only me.” 

^^I didn't take it,” stammered Noah, no longer stretching 
out his legs like an independent gentleman, but coiling them 
up as well as he could under his chair ; it was all her doing : 
yer’ve got it now, Charlotte, yer know yer have.” 

No matter who’s got it, or who did it, my dear ! ” replied 
‘Fagin, glancing, nevertheless, with a hawk’s eye at the girl 
and the two bundles. ^^I’m in that way myself, and I like 
you for it.” 

In what way ? ” asked Mr. Claypole, a little recovering. 

^^In that way of business,” rejoined Fagin; ^‘and so are 
the people of the house. Y^ou’ve hit the right nail upon 
the head, and are as safe here as you could be. There is 
not a safer place in all this town than is the Cripples; that 
is, when I like to make it so. And I have taken a fancy 
to you and the young woman ; so I’ve said the word, and 
you may make your minds easy.” 

Noah Claypole’s mind might have been at ease after this 


398 


OLIVER TWIST. 


assurance, but his body certainly was not; for he shuffled 
and writhed about, into various uncouth positions: eyeing 
his new friend m'eanwhile with mingled fear and suspicion. 

^^ril tell you more,’’ said Fagin, after he had reassured 
the girl, by dint of friendly nods and muttered encourage- 
ments. I have got a friend that I think can gratify your 
darling wish, and put you in the right way, where you can 
take whatever department of the business you think will suit 
you best at first, and be taught all the others.” 

Yer speak as if yer were in earnest,” replied Noah. 

What advantage would it be to me to be anything else ? ” 
inquired Fagin, shrugging his shoulders. ‘‘Here! Let me 
have a word with you outside.” 

“There’s no occasion to trouble ourselves to move,” said 
Noah, getting his legs by gradual degrees abroad again. 
“ She’ll take the luggage up stairs the while. Charlotte, see 
to them bundles ! ” 

This mandate, which had been delivered with great majesty, 
was obeyed without the slightest demur ; and Charlotte made 
the best of her way off with the packages while Noah held 
the door open and watched her out. 

“She’s kept tolerably well under, ain’t she?” he asked as 
he resumed his seat : in the tone of a keeper who has tamed 
some wild animal. 

“ Quite perfect,” rejoined Fagin, clapping him on the 
shoulder. “You’re a genius, my dear.” 

“Why, I suppose if I wasn’t, I shouldn’t be here,” replied 
Noah. “But, I say, she’ll be back if yer lose time.” 

“Now, what do you think?” said Fagin. “If you was 
to like my friend, could you do better than join him?” 

“ Is he in a good way of business ; that’s where it is ! ” 
responded Noah, winking one of his little eyes. 

“ The top of the tree ; employs a power of hands ; has the 
very best society in the profession.” 

“ Regular town-maders ? ” asked Mr. Claypole. 

“Not a countryman among ’em; and I don’t think he’d 


AN OPENING PRESENTS ITSELF. 399 

take you, even on my recommendation, if he didnT run 
rather short of assistants just now,^’ replied Fagin. 

‘^Should I have to hand over.^^” said Noah, slapping his 
breeches-pocket. 

^^It couldn't possibly be done without," replied Fagin, in 
a most decided manner. 

Twenty pound, though, — it's a lot of money ! " 

‘^Not when it's in a note you can't get rid of," retorted' 
P'agin. ‘^Number and date taken, I suppose? Payment 
stopped at the Bank ? Ah ! It's not worth much to him. 
It'll have to go abroad, and he couldn't sell it for a great 
deal in the market." 

When could I see him ? " asked Noah doubtfully* 

To-morrow morning." 

Where ? " 

Here." 

‘‘ Um ! " said Noah. What’s the wages ? " 

‘^Live like a gentleman — board and lodging, pipes and 
spirits free — half of all you earn, and half of all the young 
woman earns," replied Mr. Fagin. 

Whether Noah Claypole, whose rapacity was none of the 
least comprehensive, would have acceded even to these 
glowing terms, had he been a perfectly free agent, is very 
doubtful ; but as he recollected that, in the event of his 
refusal it was in the power of his new acquaintance to give 
him up to justice immediately (and more unlikely things had 
come to pass), he gradually relented, and said he thought 
that would suit him. 

But, yer see," observed Noah, as she will be able to do 
a good deal, I should like to take something very light." 

A little fancy work ? " suggested Fagin. 

Ah ! something of that sort," replied Noah. “ What do 
you think would suit me now? Something not too trying 
for the strength, and not very dangerous, you know. That's 
the sort of thing ! " 

heard you talk of something in the spy way upon the 


400 


OLIVEL 


T. 


others, my dear,"’ said Fagin. ‘^My friend wants somebody 
who would do that well, very much.” 

Why, I did mention that, and I shouldn’t mind turning 
my hand to it sometimes,” rejoined Mr. Claypole slowly; 
but it wouldn’t pay by itself, you know.” 

That’s true ! ” observed the Jew, ruminating or pretending 
to ruminate. ‘^No, it might not.” 

“What do you think, then.^” asked Noah, anxiously 
regarding him. “ Something in the sneaking way, where it 
was pretty sure work, and not much more risk than being 
at home.” 

“ What do you think of the old ladies ? ” asked Fagin. 
“ There’s a good deal of money made in snatching their 
bags and parcels, and running round the comer.” 

“Don’t they holler out a good deal, and scratch some- 
times ? ” asked Noah, shaking his head. “ I don’t think that 
would answer my' purpose. Ain’t there any other line open ? ” 
“ Stop ! ” said Fagin, laying his hand on Noah’s knee. 
“The kinchin lay.” 

“ What’s that ? ” demanded Mr. Claypole. 

“ The kinchins, my dear,” said Fagin, “ is the young 
children that’s sent on errands by their mothers, with 
sixpences and shillings ; and the lay is just to take their 
money away — they’ve always got it ready in their hands, — 
then knock ’em into the kennel, and walk off very slow, as 
if there were nothing else the matter but a child fallen down 
and hurt itself. Ha ! ha ! ha ! ” 

“ Ha ! ha ! ” roared Mr. Claypole, kicking up his legs in 
an ecstasy. “ Lord, that’s the very thing ! 

“ To be sure it is,” replied Fagin ; “ and you can have a 
few good beats chalked out in Camden Town, and Battle 
Bridge, and neighbourhoods like that, where they’re always 
going errands ; and you can upset as many kinchins as you 
want, any hour in the day. Ha ! ha ! ha ! ” 

With this, Fagin poked Mr. Claypole in the side, and they 
joined in a burst of laughter both long and loud. 


MR. MORRIS BOLTER. 


Well, that’s all right ! ” said Noah, when he had re3 
himself, and Charlotte had returned. “ What time to-m 
shall we say ? ’’ 

Will ten do ? ” asked Fagin, adding, as Mr. Claypo 
nodded assent, What name shall I tell my good friend ? ” 
Mr. Bolter,’" replied Noah, who had prepared himself for 


emergency. 


Mr. Morris Bolter. This 



such an 
Bolter.” 

‘^Mrs. Bolter’s humble servant,” said Fagin, bowing with 
grotesque politeness. “ I hope I shall know her better very 
shortly.” 

‘^Do you hear the gentleman, Charlotte.^” thundered Mr. 
Claypole. 

‘‘Yes, Noah, dear!” replied Mrs. Bolter, extending her 
hand. 

“ She calls me Noah, as a sort of fond way of talking,” 
said Mr. Morris Bolter, late Claypole, turning to Fagin. 
“ You understand 

“Oh yes, I understand — perfectly,” replied Fagin, telling 
the truth for once. “ Good ni^ht ! Good night ! ” 

o o 

With many adieus and good wishes, Mr. Fagin went his 
way. Noah Claypole, bespeaking his good lady’s attention, 
proceeded to enlighten her relative to the arrangement he 
had made, with all that haughtiness and air of superiority, 
becoming, not only a member of the sterner sex, but a gentle- 
man who appreciated the dignity of a special appointment 
on the kinchin lay, in London and its vicinity. 


CHAPTER XLIII. 

WHEREIN IS SHOWN HOW THE ARTFUL DODGER GOT INTO TROUBLE. 

And so it was you that was your own friend, was it ? *’’’ 
asked Mr. Claypole, otherwise Bolter, when, by virtue of the 
compact entered into between them, he had removed next 
day to Fagin’s house. ‘’Cod, I thought as much last night ! 

Every man'^s his own friend, my dear,’*’ replied Fagin, 
with his most insinuating grin. “ He hasn'’t as good a one 
as himself anywhere.’’’ 

Except sometimes,'” replied Morris Bolter, assuming the 
air of a man of the world. Some people are nobody’s 
enemies but their own, yer know.*” 

Don'^t believe that,*” said Fagin. When a man'^s his 
own enemy, it’s only because he’s too much his own friend ; 
not because he’s careful for everybody but himself. Pooh ! 
pooh ! There ain’t such a thing in nature.” 

‘‘There oughtn’t to be, if there is,” replied Mr. Bolter. 

“That stands to reason. Some conjurers say that number 
three is the magic number, and some say number seven. 
It’s neither, my friend, neither. It’s number one.” 

“ Ha ! ha ! ” cried Mr. Bolter. “ Number one for ever.” 

“In a little community like ours, my dear,” said Fagin, 
who felt it necessary to qualify this position, “we have a 
general number one; that is, you can’t consider yourself as 
number one, without considering me too as the same, and 
all the other young people.” 

“ Oh, the devil ! ” exclaimed Mr. Bolter. 


NUMBER ONE, 403 

^ “You see,” pursued Fagin, affecting to disregard this 
interruption, “we are so mixed up together, and identified 
in our interests, that it must be so. For instance, it’s your 
object to take care of number one— meaning yourself.” 

. « ^bout right there. 

•4-1. ! yourself, number one, 

itnout taking care of me, number one.” 

“ Number two, you mean,” said Mr. Bolter, who was largelv 
endowed with the quality of selfishness. 

“ No, I don’t ! ” retorted Fagin. “ Fm of the same import- 
ance to you, as you are to yourself.” 

“I .say,” interrupted Mr. Bolter, “yer a very nice man, 

and Im very fond of yer; but we ain’t quite so thick 
together, as all that comes to.” 

strltdd^o-^^’^’v®^'? shoulders, and 

sketching out his hands; “only consider. You’ve done 

whats a very pretty thing, and what I love you for doing; 

throat, thats so very easily tied and so very difficult to 
unloose— in plain English, the halter ' ” 

Mr. Bolto put his hand to his neckerchief, as if he felt it ' 

.noonveniently t,ght ; and mumrured an assent, qualified in 

tone but not m substance. 

“The pllo«.s,” continued Fagin, ..the gallows, my dear, 
s an ug y nger-post, which points out a very short and ‘ 

on the bnpi hi^wp. To keep in the easy road, and keep 
^ distance, is object number one with you.” ^ 

Of course it is,” replied Mr. Bolter. “ What do ver talk 
about such things for .? ” ^ ^ 

“ Only to show you my meaning dearly,” said the Jew, 

-ipon me. lo keep my httle business all snug, I depend 
jpon you. 1^ first is your number one, the second mv 

''*^**^® y°“^ number one, the 
careful you must be of mine; so we come at last to 


40i 


OLIVER TWIST. 


what I told you at first — that a regard for number one 
holds us all together, and must do so, unless we would all 
go to pieces in company. 

^^ThaLs true,*” rejoined Mr. Bolter, thoughtfully. ‘‘Oh! 
yer a cunning old codger ! ’’ 

Mr. Fagin saw, with delight, that this tribute to his 
powers was no mere compliment, but that he had really 
impressed his recruit with a sense of his wily genius, which 
it was most important that he should entertain in the outset 
of their acquaintance. To strengthen an impression so 
desirable and useful, he followed up the blow by acquainting 
him, in some detail, with the magnitude and extent of his 
operations ; blending truth and fiction together, as best 
served his purpose ; and bringing both to bear, with so 
much art, that Mr. BolteFs respect visibly increased, and 
became tempered, at the same time, with a degree of whole- 
some fear, which it was highly desirable to awaken. 

‘ IVs this mutual trust we have in each other that consoles 
me under heavy losses,’’ said Fagin. “My best hand was 
taken from me, yesterday morning.” 

“You don’t mean to say he died.?” cried Mr. Bolter. 

“ No, no,” replied Fagin, “ not so bad as that. Not quite 
so bad.” 

“ What, I suppose he was-^ ” 

“Wanted,” interposed Fagin. “Yes, he was wanted.” 

“ Very particular ? ” inquired Mr. Bolter. 

“ No,” replied Fagin, “ not very. He was charged with 
attempting to pick a pocket, and they found a silver snuff- 
box on him, — ^liis own, my dear, his own, for he took snuff' 
himself, and was very fond of it. They remanded him till 
to-day, for they thought they knew the owner. Ah ! he was 
worth fifty boxes, and I’d give the price of as many to have 
him back. You should have known the Dodger, my dear; 
you should have known the Dodger.” 

“Well, but I shall know him, I hope; don’t yer think 
so.?” said Mr. Bolter. 


IIONOUH AND GLOliY. 405 

‘‘I’ln doubtful about it,” replied Fagin, with a sigh. “If 
they don’t get any fresh evidence, it’ll only be a summary 
conviction, and we shall have him back again after six weeks 
or so ; but, if they do, it’s a case of lagging. They know 
what a clever lad he is; he’ll be a lifer. They’ll make the 
Artful nothing less than a lifer.” 

“What do yer mean by lagging and a lifer.?” demanded 
Ml . Bolter. “ What s the good of talking in that way to 
me ; why don’t yer speak so as I can understand ver.?” 

Fagin was about to translate these mysterious expressions 
into the vulgar tongue; and, being interpreted, Mr. Bolter 
would have been informed that they represented that combi- 
nation of words, “ transportation for life,” when the dialogue 
was cut short by the entry of Master Bates, with his hands 
in his breeches-pockets, and his face twisted into a look of 
semi-comical woe. 

* It s 9-11 up, Fagin,” said Charley, when he and his new 
companion had been made known to each other. 

“ What do you mean ? ” 

“Theyve found the gentleman as owns the box; two or 
three more s a coming to ’dentify him ; and the Artful’s 
booked for a passage out,” replied Master Bates. “ I must 
have a full suit of mourning, Fagin, and a hatband, to wisit 
him in, afore he sets out upon his travels. To think of 
Jack Dawkins— lummy Jack— the Dodger— the Artful Dodger 

agoing abroad for a common twopenny-halfpenny sneeze-box ! 

I never thought hed a done it under a gold watch, chain, 
and seals, at the lowest. Oh, why didn’t he rob some rich 
old gentleman of all his walables, and go out as a gentleman, 
and not like a common prig, without no honour nor glory ! ” 

With this expression of feeling for his unfortunate friend. 
Master Bates sat himself on the nearest chair with an aspect 
of chagrin and despondency. 

“ What do you talk about his having neither honour nor 
glory for ! exclaimed Fagin, darting an angry look at his 
pupil. “ Wasn’t he always top-sawyer among you all ! Is 


406 


OLIVER TWIST. 


there one of you that could touch him or come near him 
on any scent ! Eh ? 

‘^Not one,*” replied Master Bates, in a voice rendered 
husky by regret ; “ not one.’’ 

^^Then what do you talk of?” replied Fagin angrily; 

what are you blubbering for ? ” 

’Cause it isn’t on the rec-ord, is it ? ” said Charley, chafed 
into perfect defiance of his venerable friend by the current 
of his regrets; ’cause it can’t come out in the ’dictment; 
’cause nobody will never know half of what he was. How 
will he stand in the Newgate Calendar ? P’raps not be there 
at all. Oh, my eye, my eye, wot a blow it is ! ” 

Ha ! ha ! ” cried Fagin extending his right hand, and 
turning to Mr. Bolter in a fit of chuckling which shook him 
as though he had the palsy ; see what a pride they take 
in their profession, my dear. Ain’t it beautiful ? ” 

Mr. Bolter nodded assent ; and Fagin, after contemplating 
the grief of Charley Bates for some seconds with evident 
satisfaction, stepped up to that young gentleman and patted 
him on the shoulder. 

Never mind, Charley,” said Fagin soothingly ; it’ll 
come out, it’ll be sure to come out. They’ll all know what 
a clever fellow he was ; he’ll show it himself, and not disgrace 
his old pals and teachers. Think how young he is too ! 
What a distinction, Charley, to be lagged at his time of 
life!” 

Well, it is a honour that is ! ” said Charley, a little 
consoled. 

He shall have all he wants,” continued the Jew. He 
shall be kept in the Stone Jug, Charley, like a gentleman. 
Like a gentleman ! With his beer every day, and money 
in his pocket to pitch and toss with, if he can’t spend it.” 

“ No, shall he though ? ” cried Charley Bates. 

‘‘Ay, that he shall,” replied Fagin, “and we’ll have a big- 
wig, Charley : one that’s got the greatest gift of the gab : 
to carry on his defence; and he shall make a speech for 


A HUMOROUS SCENE. 


407 


himself too, if he likes; and we"ll read it all in the papers 
— ^ Artful Dodger — shrieks of laughter — here the court 
was convulsed’ — eh, Charley, eh?” 

Ha ! ha ! ” laughed Master Bates, what a lark that 
would be, wouldn’t it, Fagin? I say, how the Artful would 
bother ’em, wouldn’t he?” 

Would ! ” cried Fagin. He shall — he will ! ” 

Ah, to be sure, so he will,” repeated Charley, rubbing his 
hands. 

think I see him now,” cried the Jew, bending his eyes 
upon his pupil. 

So do I,” cried Charley Bates. Ha ! ha ! ha ! so do I. 
I see it all afore me, upon my soul I do, Fagin. What 
a game ! Wliat a regular game ! All the big- wigs trying 
to look solemn, and Jack Dawkins addressing of ’em as 
intimate and comfortable as if he was the judge’s own son 
making a speech arter dinner — ha ! ha ! ha ! ” 

In fact, Mr. Fagin had so well humoured his young 
friend’s eccentric disposition, that Master Bates, who had at 
first been disposed to ^consider the imprisoned Dodger rather 
in the light of a victim, now looked upon him as the 
chief actor in a scene of most uncommon and exquisite 
humour, and felt quite impatient for the arrival of the time 
when his old companion should have so favourable an 
opportunity of displaying his abilities. 

^^We must know how he gets on to-day, by some handy 
means or other,” said Fagin. ‘^Let me think.” 

“Shall I go?” asked Charley. 

“Not for the world,” replied Fagin. “Are you mad, my 
dear, stark mad, that you’d walk into the very place where 
— No, Charley, no. One is enough to lose at a time.” 

“You don’t mean to go yourself, I suppose ?” said Charley 
with a humorous leer. 

“That wouldn’t quite fit,” replied Fagin shaking his head, 
len why don’t you send this new cove ? ” asked Master 
laying his hand on Noah’s arm. “ Nobody knows him.” 


408 


OLIVER TV\^IST. 


Why, if he didn’t mind — ” observed Eagin. 

Mind ! ” interposed Charley. What should he have to 
mind ?” 

‘^Really nothing, my dear,” said Fagin, turning to Mr. 
Bolter, ‘^really nothing.” 

Oh, I dare say about that, yer know,” observed Noah, 
backing towards the door, and shaking his head with a kind 
of sober alarm. ^^No, no — none of that. It’s not in my 
department, that ain’t.” 

^^Wot department has he got, Fagin?” inquired Master 
Bates, surveying Noah’s lank form with much disgust. 
^^The cutting away when there’s anything wrong, and the 
eating all the wittles when there’s everything right; is that 
his branch?” 

Never mind,” retorted Mr. Bolter; ‘^and don’t yer take 
liberties with yer superiors, little boy, or yer’ll find yerself 
in the wrong shop.” 

Master Bates laughed so vehemently at this magnificent 
threat, that it was some time before Fagin could interpose, 
and represent to Mr. Bolter that he incurred no possible 
danger in visiting the police-office; that, inasmuch as no 
account of the little affair in which he had been engaged, 
nor any description of his person, had yet been forwarded 
to the metropolis, it was very probable that he was not 
even suspected of having resorted to it for shelter ; and that, 
if he were properly disguised, it would be as safe a spot for 
him to visit as any in London, inasmuch as it would be, of 
all places, the very last, to which he could be supposed 
likely to resort of his own free will. 

Persuaded, in part, by these representations, but overborne 
in a much greater degree by his fear of Fagin, Mr. Bolter 
at length consented, with a very bad grace, to undertake 
the expedition. By Fagin’s directions, he immediately 
substituted for his own attire, a waggoner’s frock, velveteen 
breeches, and leather leggings: all of which articles the Jew 
had at hand. He was likewise furnished with a felt hat 


MR. BOLTER DISGUISED. 


409 


well garnished with turnpike tickets; and a carter's whip. 
Thus equipped, he was to saunter into the office, as some 
country fellow from Covent Garden market might be 
supposed to do for the gratification of his curiosity; and 
as he was as awkward, ungainly, and raw-boned a fellow as 
need be, Mr. Fagin had no fear but that he would look the 
part to perfection. 

These arrangements completed, he was informed of the 
necessary signs and tokens by which to recognise the Artful 
Dodger, and was conveyed by Master Bates through dark and 
winding ways to within a very short distance of Bow Street. 
Having described the precise situation of the office, and 
accompanied it with copious directions how he was to walk 
straight up the passage, and when he got into the yard 
take the door up the steps on the right-hand side, and pull 
off his hat as he went into the room, Charley Bates bade 
him hurry on • alone, and promised to bide his return on 
the spot of their parting. 

Noah Claypole, or Morris Bolter as the reader pleases, 
punctually followed the directions he had received, which — 
Master Bates being pretty well acquainted with the locality 
— were so exact that he was enabled to gain the magisterial 
presence without asking any question, or meeting with any 
interruption by the way. He found himself jostled among 
a crowd of people, chiefly women, who were huddled together 
in a dirty frowsy room, at the upper end of which was a 
raised platform railed off from the rest, with a dock for the 
prisoners on the left hand against the wall, a box for the 
witnesses in the middle, and a desk for the magistrates on 
the right; the awful locality last named, being screened 
off by a partition which concealed the bench from the 
common gaze, and left the vulgar to imagine (if they 
could) the full majesty of justice. 

There were only a couple of women in the dock, who were 
nodding to their admiring friends, while the clerk read some 
depositions to a couple of policemen and a man in plain 


410 


OLIVER TWIST. 


clothes who leant over the table. A jailer stood reclining 
against the dock-rail, tapping his nose listlessly with a large 
key, except when he repressed an undue tendency to conver- 
sation among the idlers, by proclaiming silence; or looked 
sternly up to bid some woman ^^Take that baby out,*” when 
the gravity of justice was disturbed by feeble cries, half- 
smothered in the mother's shawl, from some meagre infant. 
The room smelt close and unwholesome ; the walls were dirt- 
discoloured ; and the ceiling blackened. There was an old 
smoky bust over the mantel-shelf, and a dusty clock above 
the dock — the only thing present, that seemed to go on as 
it ought; for depravity, or poverty, or an habitual acquaint- 
ance with both, had left a taint on all the animate matter, 
hardly less unpleasant than the thick greasy scum on every 
inanimate object that frowned upon it. i 

Noah looked eagerly about him for the Dodger ; but 
although there were several women who would have done very 
well for that distinguished character's mother or sister, and 
more than one man who might be supposed to bear a strong 
resemblance to his father, nobody at all answering the descrip- 
tion given him of Mr. Dawkins was to be seen. He waTed 
in a state of much suspense and uncertainty until the women, 
being committed for trial, went flaunting out ; and then was 
quickly relieved by the appearance of another prisoner who 
he felt at once could be no other than the object of his visit. 

It was indeed Mr. Dawkins, who, shuffling into the office 
with the big coat sleeves tucked up as usual, his left hand 
in his pocket, and his hat in his right hand, preceded the 
jailer, with a rolling gait altogether indescribable, and, taking 
his place in the dock, requested in an audible voice to know 
what he was placed in that 'ere disgraceful sitivation for. 

“Hold your tongue, will you.'^" said the jailer. 

“I'm an Englishman, ain't I.^” rejoined the Dodger. 
“ Where are my priwileges ? " 

“You'll get your privileges soon enough," retorted the 
jailer, “ and pepper with 'em." 


THE ARTFUL BEFORE THE BENCH. 411 


We"ll see wot the Secretary of State for the Home Aflairs 
has got to say to the beaks, if I don’t,” replied Mr. Dawkins. 

Now then ! Wot is this here business ? I shall thank the 
madg’strates to dispose of this here little affair, and not to 
keep me while they read the paper, for Fve got an appoint- 
ment with a genelman in the City, and as Fm a man of my 
word and wery punctual in business matters, he’ll go away if 
I ain’t there to my time, and then pr’aps there won't be an 
action for damage against them as kep me away. Oh no, 
certainly not!” 

At this point, the Dodger, with a show of being very 
particular with a view to proceedings to be had thereafter, 
desired the jailer to communicate ‘Hhe names of them two 
files as was on the bench.” Which so tickled the spectators, 
that they laughed almost as heartily as Master Bates could 
have done if he had heard the request. 

Silence there ! ” cried the jailer. 

What is this ? ” inquired one of the magistrates. 

^^A pick-pocketing case, your worship.” 

Has the boy ever been here before?” 

: He ought to have been, a many times,’' replied the 
3r. He has been pretty well everywhere else. I know 
L well, your worship.” 

Oh! you know me, do you?” cried the Artful, making 
ote of the statement. ‘^Wery good. Tliat's a case of 
)rmation of character, any v^ay.” 

lere there was another laugh, and another cry of silence. 
Now then, where are the witnesses ?” said the clerk. 

Ah ! that’s right,” added the Dodger. Where are they ? 
lould like to see ’em.” 

’his wish was immediately gratified, for a policeman stepped 
mrd who had seen the prisoner attempt the pocket of an 
nown gentleman in a crowd, and indeed take a handkerchief 
•efrom, which, being a very old one, he deliberately put 
c again, after trying it on his o^m countenance. ]^or 
reason, he took the Dodger into custody as soon as he 


412 


OLIVER TWIST. 


could get near him, and the said Dodger, being searched, had 
upon his person a silver snuff-box, with the owner'^s name 
engraved upon the lid. This gentleman had been discovered 
on reference to the Court Guide, and being then and there 
present, swore that the snuff-box was his, and that he had 
missed it on the previous day, the moment he had disengaged 
himself from the crowd before referred to. He had also 
remarked a young gentleman in the throng, particularly active 
in making his way about, and that young gentleman was 
the prisoner before him. 

‘‘Have you anything to ask this witness, boy?” said the 
magistrate. 

“ I wouldn’t abase myself by descending to hold no conversa- 
tion with him,” replied the Dodger. 

“ Have you anything to say at all ? ” 

“ Do you hear his worship ask if you’ve anything to say ? ” 
inquired the jailer, nudging the silent Dodger with his 
elbow. 

“I beg your pardon,” said the Dodger, looking up with 
an air of abstraction. “ Did you redress yourself to me, my 
man?” 

“I never see such an out-and-out young wagabond, your 
worship,” observed the officer with a grin. “Do you mean 
to say anything, you young shaver?” 

“No,” replied the Dodger, “not here, for this ain’t the 
shop for justice; besides which, my attorney is a-breakfasting 
this morning with the Wice President of the House of 
Commons; but I shall have something to say elsewhere, and 
so will he, and so will a wery numerous and ’spectable circle 
of acquaintance as’ll make them beaks wish they’d never been 
born, or that they’d got their footmen to hang ’em up to their 
own hat-pegs, ’afore they let ’em come out this morning to 
try it on upon me. I’ll ” 

“ There ! He’s fully committed ! ” interposed the clerk. 
“Take him away.” 

“ Come on,” said the jailer. 


THE AR^rFUL RISES WITH THE 


Oh ah ! ril come on,” replied the Dodger, Bj 
hat with the palm of his hand. Ah ! (to the BenVx 
no use your looking frightened ; I won‘’t show you no merc^ ^ 
not a ha’porth of it. Youll pay for this, my fine fellers. 
I wouldn’t be you for something! I wouldn’t go free, now, 
if you was to fall down on your knees and ask me. Here, 
carry me off to prison ! Take me away ! ” 

With these last words, the Dodger suffered himself to be 
led off by the collar; threatening, till he got into the yard, 
to make a parliamentary business of it; and then grinning 
in the officer’s face, with great glee and self-approval. 

Having seen him locked up by himself in a little cell, 
Noah made the best of his way back to where he had left 
Master Bates. After waiting here some time, he was joined 
by that young gentleman, who had prudently abstained from 
showing himself until he had looked carefully abroad from 
a snug retreat, and ascertained that his new friend had not 
been followed by any impertinent person. 

The two hastened back together, to bear to Mr. Fagin 
the animating news that the Dodger was doing full justice 
to his bringing-up, and establishing for himself a glorious 
reputation. 


CHARTER XLIV. 

THE TIME AH RIVES FOR NANCY TO REDEEM HER PLEDGE TO 
ROSE MAYLIE. SHE FAILS. 

Adept as she was, in all the arts of cunning and dissimula- 
tion, the girl Nancy could not wholly conceal the effect 
which the knowledge of the step she had taken wought 
upon her mind. She remembered that both the crafty Jew 
and the brutal Sikes had confided to her schemes, which had 
been hidden from all others : in the full confidence that she 
was trustworthy and beyond the reach of their suspicion. 
Vile as those schemes were, desperate as were their origi- 
nators, and bitter as were her feelings towards Fagin, who 
had led her, step by step, deeper and deeper dovm into an 
abyss of crime and misery, whence was no escape; still, 
there were times when, even towards him, she felt some 
relenting, lest her disclosure should bring him within the 
iron grasp he had so long eluded, and he should fall at last 
— richly as he merited such a fate — by her hand. 

But, these were the mere wanderings of a mind unable 
wholly to detach itself from old companions and associations, 
though enabled to fix itself steadily on one object, and 
resolved not to be turned aside by any consideration. Her 
fears for Sikes would have been more powerful inducements 
to recoil while there was yet time; but she had stipulated 
that her secret should be rigidly kept, she had dropped no 
clue which could lead to his discovery, she had refused, even 
for his sake, a refuge from all the guilt and wretchedness 


ME. SIKES IS HIMSELF AGAIN. 41.5 


that encompassed her — and what more could she do ! She 
was resolved. 


D 


Though all her mental struggles terminated in this conclu- 
sion, they forced themselves upon her, again and again, and 
left their traces too. She grew pale and thin, even within 
a few da 3 ^s. At times, she took no heed of what was passing 
before her, or no part in conversations where once, she would 
have^ been the loudest. At other times, she laughed without 
merriment, and was noisy without cause or meaning. At 
others-^ften within a moment afterwards — she sat silent 
and dejected, brooding with her head upon her hands, while 
the very effort by which she roused herself, told, more forcibly 
than even these indications, that she was ill at ease, and that 
her thougnts were occupied with matters very different and 
distant from those in course of discussion by her companions. 

It was Sunday night, and the bell of the nearest church 
stiuck the hour. Sikes and the Jew were talking, but they 
paused to listen. The girl looked up from the low seat on 
which she crouched, and listened too. Eleven. 

An hour this side of midnight,” said Sikes, raising the 
blind to look out and returning to his seat. ‘'Dark and 
heavy it is too. A good night for business this.” 

“ Ah ! ” replied Fagin. « What a pity, Bill, my dear, that 
there’s none quite ready to be done.” 

“You’re right for once,” replied Sikes gruffly. “It is a 
pity, for I’m in the humour too.” 

bagin sighed, and shook his head despondingly. 

We must make up for lost time when we’ve got things 
into a good train. That’s all I know,” said Sikes. 

That s the way to talk, my dear,” replied Fagin, venturing 
to pat him on the shoulder. “ I;: does me good to hear you.” 

“ Does you good does it ! ” cried Sikes. « Well, so be it.” 

Ha ! ha ! ha ! ’ laughed Fagin, as if he were relieved by 
Aen this concession. “ You’re like yourself to-night. Bill ! 
^uite like yourself.” 


“I don’t feel like myself when you lay that withered old 


1 


416 OLIVER TWIST. 

claw on my shoulder, so take it away,*” said Sikes casting olF 
the Jew's hand. 

It makes you nervous, Bill, — ^reminds you of being nabbed, 
does it?" said Fagin, determined not to be offended. 

‘‘Reminds me of being nabbed by the devil," returned 
Sikes. “There never was another man with such a face as 
yours, unless it was your father, and I suppose he is singeing 
his grizzled red beard by this time, unless you came straight 
from the old 'un without any father at all betwixt you; 
which I shouldn't wonder at, a bit." 

Fagin offered no reply to this compliment; but, pulling 
Sikes by the sleeve, pointed his finger towards Nancy, who 
had taken advantage of the foregoing conversation to put on i 
her bonnet, and was now leaving the room. 

“ Hallo ! " cried Sikes. “ Nance. Where's the gal going i 
to at this time of night ? " 

“Not far." 

“ What answer's that ? " returned Sikes. “ Where are you > 
going?" ^ 

“I say, not far." 

“ And I say where ? " retorted Sikes. “ Do you hear me ? " 

“ I don't know where," replied the girl. 

“Then I do," said Sikes, more in the spirit of obstinacy 
than because he had any real objection to the girl going | 
where she listed. “Nowhere. Sit down." 

“I'm not well. I told you that before," rejoined the girk 
“ I want a breath of air." 

“Put your head out of the winder," replied Sikes. i 

“There's not enough there," said the girl. “I want it in 
the street." ^ 

“Then you won't have it," replied Sikes. With which; 
assurance he rose, locked the door, took the key out, and 
pulling her bonnet from her head, flung it up to the top of 
an old press. “There," said the robber. “Now stop quietly 
where you are, will you ? " 

“ It's not such a matter as a bonnet would keep me," said 


THE KEY TURNED ON NANCY. 417 

the girl turning very pale. “What do you mean, Bill 
Do you know what you’re doing 

“Know what Fm Oh!” cried Sikes turning to Fagin, 

“she’s out of her senses, you know, or she daren’t talk to 
me in that way.” 

“You’ll drive me on to something desperate,” muttered 
the girl placing both hands upon her breast, as though to 
keep down by force some violent outbreak. “Let me go, 
will you, — this minute — this instant.” 

“ No ! ” said Sikes. 

“Tell him to let me go, Fagin. He had better. It’ll be 
better for him. Do you hear me.^” cried Nancy stamping 
her foot upon the ground. 

“ Hear you ! ” repeated Sikes turning round in his chair to 
confront her. “ Aye ! And if I hear you for half a minute 
longer, the dog shall have such a grip on your throat as’ll 
tear some of that screaming voice out. Wot has come over 
you, you jade ! Wot is it.^” 

“Let me go,” said the girl with great earnestness; then 
sitting herself down on the floor, before the door, she said, 
“ Bill, let me go ; you don’t know what you are doing. You 
don’t, indeed. For only one hour — do — do ! ” 

“ Cut my limbs off one by one 1 ” cried Sikes, seizing her 
roughly by the arm, “ if I don’t think the gal’s stark raving 
mad. Get up.” 

“ Not till you let me go — not till you let me go — Never 
— never 1 ” screamed the girl. Sikes looked on, for a minute, 
watching his opportunity, and suddenly pinioning her hands 
dragged her, struggling and wrestling with him by the way, 
into a small room adjoining, where he sat himself on a bench, 
and thrusting her into a chair, held her down by force. She 
struggled and implored by turns until twelve o’clock had 
struck, and then, wearied and exhausted, ceased to contest 
the point any further. With a caution, backed by many 
oaths, to make no more efforts to go out that night, Sikes 
left her to recover at leisure and rejoined Fagin. 


418 


OLIVER TWIST. 


Whew ! ’’ said the housebreaker wiping the perspiration 
from his face. “ Wot a precious strange gal that is ! ” 

‘‘You may say that. Bill,*” replied Fagin thoughtfully. 
“You may say that.’’ 

“Wot did she take it into her head to go out to-night 
for, do you think ? ” asked Sikes. “ Come ; you should know 
her better than me. Wot does it mean ? ” 

“ Obstinacy ; woman’s obstinacy, I suppose, my dear.” 

“Well, I suppose it is,” growled Sikes. “I thought I 
had tamed her, but she’s as bad as ever.” 

“Worse,” said Fagin thoughtfully. “I never knew her 
like this, for such a little cause.” 

“Nor I,” said Sikes. “I think she’s got a touch of that 
fever in her blood yet, and it w^on’t come out — eh ? ” 

“Like enough.” 

“I’ll let her a little blood, without troubling the doctor, 
if she’s took that way again,” said Sikes. 

Fagin nodded an expressive approval of this mode of 
treatment. 

‘^She was hanging about me all day, and night too, when 
I was stretched on my back; and you, like a blackhearted 
wolf as you are, kept yourself aloof,” said Sikes. “We was 
very poor too, all the time, and I think, one way or other, 
it’s worried and fretted her; and that being shut up here so 
long has made her restless — eh ? ” 

“ That’s it, my dear,” replied the Jew in a whisper. 
“Hush!” 

As he uttered these words, the girl herself appeared and 
resumed her former seat. Her eyes were swollen and red ; 
she rocked herself to and fro ; tossed her head ; and, after a 
little time, burst out laughing. 

“Why, now she’s on the other tack!” exclaimed Sikes, 
turning a look of excessive surprise on his companion. 

Fagin nodded to him to take no further notice just then ; 
and, in a few minutes, the girl subsided into her accustomed 
demeanour. Whispering Sikes that there was no fear of her 


FAGIN AS A STAUNCH FRIEND. 


419 


relapsing, Fagin took up his hat and bade him good-night. 
He paused when he reached the room-door, and looking round, 
asked if somebody would light him down the dark stairs. 

‘‘Light him down,*’’ said Sikes, who was filling his pipe. 
“ It’s a pity he should break his neck himself, and disappoint 
the sight-seers. Show him a light.” 

Nancy followed the old man down stall's, with a candle. 
When they reached the passage, he laid his finger on* his lip, 
and drawing close to the girl, said, in a whisper, 

“ What is it, Nancy, dear ? ” 

“ What do you mean ? ” replied the girl, in the same tone. 

“The reason of all this,” replied Fagin. “If Ae” — ^he 
pointed with his skinny fore-finger up the stairs — “ is so 
hard with you (he’s a brute, Nance, a brute-beast), why don’t 
you—” 

“W'ell.^” said the girl, as Fagin paused, v/ith his mouth 
almost touching her ear, and his eyes looking into hers. 

“No matter just now. We’ll talk of this again. You 
have a friend in me, Nance ; a staunch friend. I have the 
means at hand, quiet and close. If you want revenge on 
those that treat you like a dog — like a dog! worse than 
his dog, for he humours him sometimes — come to me. I 
say, come to me. He is the mere hound of a day, but you 
know me of old, Nance.” 

“I know you well,” replied the girl, without manifesting 
the least emotion. “ Good night.” 

She shrank back, as Fagin offered to lay his hand on hers, 
but said good night again, in a steady voice, and, answering 
his parting look with a nod of intelligence, closed the door 
between them. 

Fagin walked towards his own home, intent upon the 
thoughts that were working within his brain. He had 
conceived the idea — not from what had just passed, though 
that had tended to confirm him, but slowly and by degrees 
— that Nancy, wearied of the housebreaker’s brutality, had 
conceived an attachment for some new friend. Her altered 


iao 


OLIVER TWIST. 


manner, her repeated absences from home alone, her Compara- 
tive indifference to the interests of the gang for which she 
had once been so zealous, and, added to these, her desperate 
impatience to leave home that night at a particular hour, 
all favoured the supposition, and rendered it, to him at least, 
almost matter of certainty. The object of this new liking 
was not among his myrmidons. He would be a valuable 
acquisition with such an assistant as Nancy, and must (thus 
Fagin argued) be secured without delay. 

There was another, and a darker object, to be gained. 
Sikes knew too much, and his ruffian taunts had not galled 
Fagin the less, because the wounds were hidden. The girl 
must know, well, that if she shook him off, she could never 
be safe from his fury, and that it would be surely wreaked 
— to the maiming of limbs, or perhaps the loss of life — on 
the object of her more recent fancy. ‘^With a little per- 
suasion,’’ thought Fagin, ‘^what more likely than that she 
would consent to poison hini? Women have done such 
things, and worse, to secure the same object before now. 
There would be the dangerous villain : the man I hate : gone ; 
another secured in his place ; and my influence over the girl, 
with a knowledge of this crime to back it, unlimited.” 

These things passed through the mind of Fagin, during 
the short time he sat alone, in the housebreaker’s room ; 
and with them uppermost in his thoughts, he had taken the 
opportunity afterwards afforded him, of sounding the girl in 
the broken hints he threw out at parting. There was no 
expression of surprise, no assumption of an inability to 
understand his meaning. The girl clearly comprehended it. 
Her glance at parting showed that. 

But perhaps she would recoil from a plot to take the life 
of Sikes, and that was one of the chief ends to be attained. 

How,” thought Fagin, as he crept homeward, “ can I increase 
my influence with her.^ what new power can I acquire 

Such brains are fertile in expedients. If, without extract- 
ing a confession from herself, he laid a watch, discovered 


DARK DESIGNS. 


m 


the object of her altered regard, and threatened to reveal the 
whole history to Sikes (of whom she stood in no common 
fear) unless she entered into his designs, could he not secure 
her compliance? 

can,**’ said Fagin, almost aloud. ‘^She durst not refuse 
me then. Not for her life, not for her life ! I have it all. 
The means are ready, and shall be set to work. I shall 
have you yet ! 

He cast back a dark look, and a threatening motion of 
the hand, towards the spot where he had left the bolder 
villain ; and went on his way : busying his bony hands in 
the folds of his tattered garment, which he wrenched tightly 
in his grasp, as though there were a hated enemy crushed 
with every motion of his fingers. 


CHAPTER XLV. 


NOAH CLAYPOLE IS EMPLOYED BY FAGIN ON A SECRET MISSION* 

The old man was up, betimes, next morning, and waited 
impatiently for the appearance of his new associate, who 
after a delay that seemed interminable, at length presented 
himself, and commenced a voracious assault on the breakfast. 

Bolter,’’ said Fagin, drawing up a chair and seating 
himself opposite Morris Bolter. 

‘‘Well, here I am,” returned Noah. “What’s the matter? 
Don’t yer ask me to do anything till I have done eating. 
That’s a great fault in this place. Yer never get time 
enough over yer meals.” 

“You can talk as you eat, can’t you?” said Fagin, cursing 
his dear young friend’s greediness from the very bc ttom of 
his heart. 

“Oh yes, I can talk. I get on better when I talk,” 
said Noah, cutting a monstrous slice of bread. “Where’s 
Charlotte ? ” 

“Out,” said Fagin. “I sent her out this morning with 
the other young woman, because I wanted us to be alone.” 

“ Oh ! ” said Noah. “ I wish yer’d ordered her to make 
some buttered toast first. Well. Talk away. Yer won’t 
interrupt me.” 

There seemed, indeed, no great fear of anything interrupting 
liim, as he had evidently sat down with a determination to 
do a great deal of business. 

“ You did well yesterday, my dear,” said Fagin. 


“ Beautifvl ! 


423 


BOLTER AGALNf IN REQUEST. 

Six shillings and ninepence halfpenny on the very first day ! 
The kinchin lay will be a fortune to you.^** 

DonT you forget to add three pint-pots and a milk-can,"’ 
said Mr. Bolter. 

^*^No, no, my dear. The pint-pots were great strokes of 
genius : but the milk-can was a perfect masterpiece.’ 

“Pretty well, I think, for a beginner,” remarked Mr. 
Bolter complacently. “The pots I took off airy railings, 
and the milk-can was standing by itself outside a public-house. 
I thought it might get rusty ^\ith the rain, or catch cold, 
yer know. Eh ? Ha ! ha ! ha ! ” 

Fagin affected to laugh very heartily; and Mr. Bolter 
having had his laugh out, took a series of large bites, which 
finished his first hunk of bread and butter, and assisted 
himself to a second. 

“ I want you, Bolter,” said Fagin, leaning over the table, 
“ to do a piece of work for me, my dear, that needs great 
care and caution.” 

“I say,” rejoined Bolter, “don’t yer go shoving me into 
danger, or sending me to any more o’ yer police-offices. 
That don’t suit me, that don’t ; and so I tell yer.” 

“There’s not the smallest danger in it — not the very 
smallest,” said the Jew ; “ it’s only to dodge a woman.” 

“ An old woman ? ” demanded Mr. Bolter. 

“ A young one,” replied Fagin. 

“ I can do that pretty well, I know,” said Bolter. “ I was 
a regular cunning sneak when I was at school. What am I 
to dodge her for.? Not to — ” 

“ Not to do anything, but to tell me where she goes, who 
she sees, and, if possible, what she says ; to remember the 
street, if it is a street, or the house, if it is a house ; and to 
bring me back all the information you can.” 

“ What’ll yer give me .? ” asked Noah, setting down his cup, 
and looking his employer, eagerly, in the face. 

“If you do it well, a pound, my dear. One pound,” said 
Fagin, wishing to interest him in th$ scent as much as 


im 


OLIVER TWIST. 


possible. “And that’s what I never gave yet, for any job of 
work where there wasn’t valuable consideration to be gained.” 

“Who is she.f^” inquired Noah. 

“One of us.” 

“Oh Lor!” cried Noah, curling up his nose. “Yer 
doubtful of her, are yer ? ” 

“She has found out some new friends, my dear, and I 
must know who they are,” replied Fagin. 

“ I see,” said Noah. “ Just to have the pleasure of knowing 
them, if they’re respectable people, eh ? Ha ! ha ! ha 1 I’m 
your man.” 

“ I knew you would be,” cried Fagin, elated by the success 
of his proposal. 

“ Of course, of course,” replied Noah. “ Where is she ? 
Where am I to wait for her ? Where am I to go ? ” 

“All that, my dear, you shall hear from me. I’ll point 
her out at the proper time,” said Fagin. “ You keep ready, 
and leave the rest to me.” 

That night, and the next, and the next again, the spy sat 
booted and equipped in his carter’s dress : ready to turn out 
at a word from Fagin. Six nights passed — six long weary 
nights— and on each, Fagin came home with a disappointed 
face, and briefly intimated that it was not yet time. On 
the seventh, he returned earlier, and with an exultation he 
could not conceal. It was Sunday. 

“She goes abroad to-night,” said Fagin, “and on the 
right errand. I’m sure ; for she has been alone all day, and 
the man she is afraid of, will not be back much before 
daybreak. Come with me. Quick ! ” 

Noah started up without saying a word ; for the Jew was 
in a state of such intense excitement that it infected him. 
They left the house stealthily, and, hurrying through a 
labyrinth of streets, arrived at length before a public-house, 
which Noah recognised as the same in which he had slept, 
on the night of his arrival in London. 

It was past eleven o’clock, and the door was closed. It 


THE SPY SET ON NANCY. 


425 


opened softly on its hinges as Fagin gave a low whistle. They 
entered, without noise ; and the door was closed behind them. 

Scarcely venturing to whisper, but substituting dumb show 
for words, Fagin, and the young Jew who had admitted them, 
pointed out the pane of glass to Noah, and signed to him to 
climb up and observe the person in the adjoining room. 

Is that the woman ? ’’ he asked, scarcely above his breath. 

Fagin nodded yes. 

‘‘I can't see her face well," whispered Noah. ‘^She is 
looking down, and the candle is behind her." 

Stay there," whispered Fagin. He signed to Barney, who 
withdrew. In an instant, the lad entered the room adjoining,, 
and, under pretence of snuffing the candle, moved it in the 
required position, and, speaking to the girl, caused her to 
raise her face. 

I see her now," cried the spy. 

^‘Plainly.?" 

I should know her among a thousand." 

He hastily descended, as the room-door opened, and the 
girl came out. Fagin drew him behind a small partition 
which was curtained off, and they held their breaths as she 
passed within a few feet of their place of concealment, and 
emerged by the door at which they had entered. 

“ Hist ! " cried the lad who held the door. “ Dow." 

Noah exchanged a look with Fagin, and darted out. 

To the left," whispered the lad ; take the left had, and 
keep od the other side." 

He did so ; and, by the light of the lamps, saw the girl's 
retreating figure, already at some distance before him. He 
advanced as near as he considered prudent, and kept on the 
opposite side of the street, the better to observe her motions. 
She looked nervously round, twice or thrice, and once stopped to 
let two men who were following close behind her, pass on. She 
seemed to gather courage as she advanced, and to walk with a 
steadier and firmer step. The spy preserved the same relative 
distance between them, and followed : with his eye upon her. 


CHAPTER XLVI. 


THK APPOINTMENT KEPT. 

The church clocks chimed three quarters past eleven, as two 
figures emerged on London Bridge. One, which advanced 
with a swift and rapid step, was that of a woman who looked 
eagerly about her as though in quest of some expected object ; 
the other figure was that of a man, who slunk along in the 
deepest shadow he could find, and, at some distance, accommo- 
dated his pace to hers : stopping when she stopped : and as 
she moved again, creeping stealthily on : but never allowing 
himself, in the ardour of his pursuit, to gain upon her foot- 
steps. Thus, they crossed the bridge, from the Middlesex 
to the Surrey shore, when the woman, apparently disappointed 
in her anxious scrutiny of the foot-passengers, turned back. 
The movement was sudden ; but he who watched her, was 
not thrown off his guard by it; for, shrinking into one of 
the recesses which surmount the piers of the bridge, and 
leaning over the parapet the better to conceal his figure, he 
suffered her to pass on the opposite pavement. When she 
was about the same distance in advance as she had been 
before, he slipped quietly down, and followed her again. 
At nearly the centre of the bridge, she stojiped. The man 
stopped too. 

It was a very dark night. The day had been unfavourable, 
and at that hour and place there were few people stirring. 
Such as there wei*e, hurried quickly past: very possibly 


THE MEETING ON THE BRIDGE. 


4ST 


without seeing, but certainly without noticing, eitiier the 
woman, or the man who kept her in view. Their appearance 
was not calculated to attract the importunate regards of 
such of London’s destitute population, as chanced to take 
their way over the bridge that night in search of some cold 
arch or doorless hovel wherein to lay their heads ; they stood 
there in silence : neither speaking nor spoken to, by any one 
who passed. 

A mist hung over the river, deepening the red glare of the 
fires that burnt upon the small craft moored oft* the different 
wharfs, and rendering darker and more indistinct the mirky 
buildings on the banks. The old smoke-stained storehouses 
on either side, rose heavy and dull from the dense mass of 
roofs and gables, and frowned sternly upon water too black 
to reflect even their lumbering shapes. The tower of old 
Saint Saviour’s Church, and the spire of Saint Magnus, so 
long the giant- warders of the ancient bridge, were visible in 
the gloom ; but the forest of shipping below bridge, and the 
thickly scattered spires of churches above, were nearly all 
hidden from the sight. 

The girl had taken a few restless turns to and fro — closely 
watched meanwhile by her hidden observer — when the heavy 
bell of St. Paul’s tolled for the death of another day. Mid- 
night had come upon the crowded city. The palace, the night- 
cellar, the jail, the madhouse: the chambers of birth and 
death, of health and sickness, the rigid face of the corpse and 
the calm sleep of the child : midnight was upon them all. 

The hour had not struck two minutes, when a young lady, 
accompanied by a grey-haired gentleman, alighted from a 
hackney-carriage within a short distance of the bridge, and, 
having dismissed the vehicle, walked straight towards it. 
They had scarcely set foot upon its pavement, when the girl 
started, and immediately made towards them. 

They walked onward, looking about them with the air of 
persons who entertained some very slight expectation which 
had little chance of being realised, when they were suddenly 


428 


OLIVER TWIST. 


joined by this new associate. They halted with an exclama- 
tion of surprise, but suppressed it immediately ; for a man in 
the garments of a countryman came close up — brushed against 
them, indeed — at that precise moment. 

‘^Not here,’’ said Nancy hurriedly, ‘^I am afraid to speak 
to you here. Come away — out of the public road — down the 
steps yonder!” 

As she uttered these words, and indicated, with her hand, 
the direction in which she wished them to proceed, the country- 
man looked round, and roughly asking what they took up the 
whole pavement for, passed on. 

The steps to which the girl had pointed, were those which, 
on the Surrey bank, and on the same side of the bridge as 
Saint Saviour’s Church, form a landing-stairs from the river. 
To this spot, the man bearing the appearance of a countryman, 
hastened unobserved; and after a moment’s survey of the 
place, he began to descend. 

These stairs are a part of the bridge ; they consist of three 
flights. Just below the end of the second, going do^vn, the 
stone wall on the left terminates in an ornamental pilaster 
facing towards the Thames. At this point the lower steps 
widen : so that a person turning that angle of the wall, is 
necessarily unseen by any others on the stairs who chance to 
be above him, if only a step. The countryman looked hastily 
round, when he reached this point ; and as there seemed no 
better place of concealment, and, the tide being out, there 
was plenty of room, he slipped aside, with his back to the 
pilaster, and there waited : pretty certain that they would 
come no lower, and that even if he could not hear what was 
said, he could follow them again, with safety. 

So tardily stole the time in this lonely place, and so eager 
was the spy to penetrate the motives of an interview so 
different from what he had been led to expect, that he more 
than once gave the matter up for lost, and persuaded himself, 
either that they had stopped far above, or had resorted to some 
entirely different spot to hold their mysterious conversation. 


THE SPY UNDER THE WALL. 


429 


He was on the point of emerging from his hiding-place, 
and reeainins: the road above, when he heard the sound 
of footsteps, and directly afterwards of voices almost close 
at his ear. 

He drew himself straight upright against the wall, and, 
scarcely breathing, listened attentively. 

“This is far enough,"’ said a voice, which was evidently 
that of the gentleman. “ I will not suffer the young lady 
to go any farther. Many people would have distrusted you 
too much to have come even so far, but you see I am willing 
to humour you."’ , 

“ To humour me ! ” cried the voice of the girl whom he 
had followed. “You’re considerate, indeed, sir. To humour 
me ! Well, well, it’s no matter.” 

“Why, for what,” said the gentleman in a kinder tone, 
“for what purpose can you have brought us to this strange 
place ? Why not have let me speak to you, above there, 
where it is light, and there is something stirring, instead of 
bringing us to this dark and dismal hole ? ” 

“ I told you before,” replied Nancy, “ that I was afraid 
to speak to you there. I don’t know why it is,” said the 
girl, shuddering, “but I have such a fear and dread upon 
me to-night that I can hardly stand.” 

“ A fear of what ? ” asked the gentleman, who seemed to 
pity her. 

“I scarcely know of what,” replied the girl. “I wish I 
did. Horrible thoughts of death, and shrouds with blood 
upon them, and a fear that has made me bum as if I was 
on fire, have been upon me all day. I was reading a book 
to-night, to wile the time away, and the same things came 
into the print.” 

“ Imagination,” said the gentleman, soothing her. 

“ No imagination,” replied the girl in a hoarse voice. “ I’ll 
swear I saw ^ coffin ’ written in every page of the book in 
large black letters, — aye, and they carried one close to me, 
in the streets to-night.” 


m 


OLIVER TWIST. 


There is nothing unusual in that,’’’ said the gentleman. 
‘^They have passed me often.” 

Real ones^"* rejoined the girl. ^^This was not.” 

There was something so uncommon in her manner, that 
the flesh of the concealed listener crept as he heard the girl 
utter these words, and the blood chilled within him. He 
had never experienced a greater relief than in hearing the 
sweet voice of the young lady as she begged her to be calm, 
and not allow herself to become the prey of such fearful 
fancies. 

Speak to her kindly,” said the young lady to her com- 
panion. ^^Poor creature! She seems to need it.*” 

^^Your haughty religious people would have held their 
heads up to see me as I am to-night, and preached of flames 
and vengeance,’’’’ cried the girl. ^‘Oh, dear lady, why ar‘’n‘’t 
those who claim to be God’’s own folks as gentle and’ as 
kind to us poor wretches as you, who, having youth, and 
beauty, and all that they have lost, might be a little proud 
instead of so much humbler ? ” 

Ah ! ’’’’ said the gentleman. A Turk turns his face, after 
washing it well, to the East, when he says his prayers ; these 
good people, after giving their faces such a rub against the 
World as to take the smiles off, turn with no less regularity, 
to the darkest side of Heaven. Between the Mussulman 
and the Pharisee, commend me to the first ! ” 

These words appeared to be addressed to the young lady, 
and were perhaps uttered with the view of affording Nancy 
time to recover herself. The gentleman, shortly afterwards, 
addressed himself to her. 

You were not here last Sunday night,” he said. 

I couldn’t come,” replied Nancy ; I was kept by force.” 

By whom ? ” 

Him that I told the young lady of before.” 

‘^You were not suspected of holding any communication 
with anybody on the subject which has brought us here to- 
night, I hope?” asked the old gentleman. 




■ UBKAHY 

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NANCY’S REFUSAL. 


431 


‘‘No,” replied the girl, shaking her head. “It’s not very 
easy for me to leave him unless he knows why; I couldn’t 
have seen the lady when I did, but that I gave him a drink 
of laudanum before I came away.” 

“Did he awake before you returned?” inquired the gentle- 
man. 

“ No ; and neither he nor any of them suspect me.” 

“ Good,” said the gentleman. “ Now listen to me.” 

“ I am ready,” replied the girl, as he paused for a moment. 

“ This young lady,” the gentleman began, “ has communicated 
to me, and to some other friends who can be safely trusted, 
what you told her nearly a fortnight since. I confess to you 
that I had doubts, at first, whether you were to be implicitly 
relied upon, but now I firmly believe you are.” 

“ I am,” said the girl earnestly. 

“I repeat that I firmly believe it. To prove to you that 
I am disposed to trust you, I tell you without reserve, that 
we propose to extort the secret, whatever it may be, from 
the fears of this man Monks. But if — ^if — ” said the 
gentleman, “he cannot be secured, or, if secured, cannot be 
acted upon as we wish, you must deliver up the Jew.” 

“Fagin,” cried the girl, recoiling. 

“ That man must be delivered up by you,” said the gentle- 
man. 

“ I will not do it ! I will never do it ! ” replied the girl. 
“Devil that he is, and worse than devil as he has been to 
me, I will never do that.” 

“You will not?” said the gentleman, who seemed fully 
j^repared for this answer. 

“Never!” returned the girl. 

“Tell me v/hy?” 

“ For one reason,” rejoined the girl firmly, “for one reason, 
that the lady knows and will stand by me in, I know she 
will, for I have her promise; and for this other reason, 
besides, that, bad life as he has led, I have led a bad life 
too; there are many of us who have kept the same courses 


432 


OLIVER TWIST. 


together, and Fll not turn upon them, who might — any of 
them — have turned upon me, but didn‘’t, bad as they are.*” 

‘^Then,’’’’ said the gentleman, quickly, as if this had been 
the point he had been aiming to attain ; put Monks' into 
my hands, and leave him to me to deal with.'” 

What if he turns against the others ? 

I promise you that in that case, if the truth is forced 
from him, there the matter will rest; there must be circum- 
stances in Olivers little history which it would be painful 
to drag before the public eye, and if the truth is once 
elicited, they shall go scot free.*” 

And if it is not ? suggested the girl. 

^‘Then,” pursued the gentleman, ‘Hhis Fagin shall not be 
brought to justice without your consent. In such a case I 
could show you reasons, I think, which would induce you to 
yield it."’ 

Have I the lady’s promise for that ? ” asked the girl. 

You have,” replied Rose. My true and faithful pledge.” 

Monks would never learn how you knew what you do ? ” 
said the girl, after a short pause. 

Never,” replied the gentleman. “ The intelligence should 
be so brought to bear upon him, that he could never even 
guess.” 

have been a liar, and among liars from a little child,” 
said the girl after another interval of silence, ‘^but I will 
take your words.” 

After receiving an assurance from- both, that she might 
safely do so, she proceeded in a voice so low that it was 
often difficult for the listener to discover even the purport of 
what she said, to describe, by name and situation, the public- 
house whence she had been followed that night. From the 
manner in which she occasionally paused, it appeared as if 
the gentleman were making some hasty notes of the informa- 
tion she communicated. When she had thoroughly explained 
the localities of the place, the best position from which to 
watch it without exciting observation, and the night and 


NANCY’S DISCLOSURE. 


433 


hour on which Monks was most in the habit of frequenting 
it, she seemed to consider for a few moments, for the purpose 
of recalling his features and appearance more forcibly to her 
recollection. 

“ He is tall,” said the girl, and a strongly made man, 
but not stout ; he has a lurking walk ; and as he walks, 
constantly looks over his shoulder, first on one side, and then 
on the other. Don’t forget that, for his eyes are sunk in 
his head so much deeper than any other man’s, that you 
might almost tell him by that alone. His face is dark, like 
his hair and eyes; and, although he can’t be more than six 
or eight and twenty, withered and haggard. His lips are 
often discoloured and disfigured with the marks of teeth ; for 
he has desperate fits, and sometimes even bites his hands 
and covers them with wounds — why did you start said 
the girl, stopping suddenly. . 

The gentleman replied, in a hurried manner, that he was 
not conscious of having done so, and begged her to proceed. 

Part of this,” said the girl, I’ve drawn out from other 
people at the house I tell you of, for I have only seen him 
twice, and both times he was covered up in a large cloak. 
I think that’s all I can give you to know him by. Stay 
though,” she added. ‘‘ Upon his throat : so high that you 
can see a part of it below his neckerchief when he turns his 
face : there is — ” 

broad red mark, like a burn or scald cried the 
gentleman. 

How’s this.^” said the girl. ^‘You know him!” 

The young lady uttered a cry of surprise, and for a few 
moments they were so still that the listener could distinctly 
hear them breathe. 

I think I do,” said the gentleman, breaking silence. I 
should by your description. We shall see. Many people 
are singularly like each other. It may not be the same.” 

As he expressed himself to this effect, with assumed care- 
1, lessness, he took a step or two nearer the concealed spy, as 
; -Sr 


OLIVER 


ST. 


4!‘M 

the latter could tell from th' stinctness with which he 
heard him mutter, “ It must be he ! ” 

“ Now,” he said, returning : so it seemed by the sound ; 
to the spot where he had stood before, “ you have given us 
most valuable assistance, young woman, and I wish you to 
be the better for it. What can I do to serve you ? ” 

“Nothing,” replied Nancy. 

“ You will not persist in saying that,” rejoined the gentle- 
man, with a voice and emphasis of kindness that might have 
touched a much harder and more obdurate heart. “ Tliink 
now. Tell me.” 

“Nothing, sir,” rejoined the girl, weeping. “You can do 
nothing to help me. I am past all hope, indeed.” 

“ You put yourself beyond its pale,” said the gentleman. 
“The past has been a dreary waste with you, of youthful 
energies mis-spent, and such priceless treasures lavished, as the 
Creator bestows but once and never grants again, but, for 
the future, you may hope. I do not say that it is in our 
power to offer you peace of heart and mind, for that must 
come as you seek it ; but a quiet asylum, either in England, 
or, if you fear to remain here, in some foreign country, it is 
not only within the compass of our ability but our most 
anxious wish to secure you. Before the dawn of morning, 
before this river wakes to the first glimpse of daylight, you 
shall be placed as entirely beyond the reach of your former 
associates, and leave as utter an absence of all trace behind 
you, as if you were to disappear from the earth this moment. 
Come ! I would not have you go back to exchange one 
word with any old companion, or take one look at any old 
haunt, or breathe the very air which is pestilence and 
death to you. Quit them all, while there is time and 
opportunity ! ” 

“ She will be persuaded now,” cried the young lady. “ She 
hesitates, I am sure.” 

“ I fear not, my dear,” said the gentleman. 

“ No, sir, I do not,” replied the girl, after a short struggle. 


A HOPELESS FUTURE. 




I am chained to my old life. I loathe and hate it 
but I cannot leave it. I must have gone too far to turn 
back, — and yet I don’t know, for if you had spoken to me 
so, some time ago, I should have laughed it off. But,” she 
said, looking hastily round, “this fear comes over me again. 
I must go home.’’ 

Home ! lepeated the young lady, with great stress 
upon the word. 

“Home, lady,” rejoined the girl. “To such a home as I 
have raised for myself with the work of my whole life. Let 
us part. I shall be watched or seen. Go ! Go ! If I have 
done you any service, all I ask is, that you leave me, and 
let me go my way alone.” 



“It is useless,” said the gentleman, with a sigh. “’We 


compromise her safety, perhaps, by staying here. We may 
have detained her longer than she expected already.” 

“ Yes, yes,” urged the girl. “ You have.” 

“ What,” cried the young lady, “ can be the end of this 
poor creature’s life ! ” 

''What!” repeated the girl. "Look before you, lady. 
Look at that dark water. How many times do you read of 
such as I who spring into the tide, and leave no living thing, 
to care for, or bewail them. It may be years hence, or it 
may be only months, but I shall come to that at last.” 

"Do not speak thus, pray,” returned the young lady, 
sobbing. 

" It will never reach your ears, dear lady, and God forbid 
such horrors should ! ” replied the gii'l. " Good night, good 
night!” 


The gentleman turned away. 

"This purse,” cried the young lady. "Take it for my 
sake, that you may have some resource in an hour of need 
“■and trouble.” 

" No ! ” replied the girl. " I have not done this for money. 
Let me have that to think of. And yet — give me something 
.that you have worn: I should like to have something — no, 


OLIVER TWIST. 


lo, not a ring — your gloves or handkerchief — anything that 
I can keep, as having belonged to you, sweet lady. There. 
Bless you ! God bless you. Good night, good night ! 


The violent agitation of the girl, and the apprehension of 
some discovery which would subject her to ill-usage and 
violence, seemed to determine the gentleman to leave her, as 
she requested. The sound of retreating footsteps were audible 
and the voices ceased. 

The two figures of the young lady and her companion soon 
afterwards appeared upon the bridge. They stopped at the 
summit of the stairs. 

Hark ! cried the young lady, listening. Did she call ! 
I thought I heard her voice.” 

‘‘No, my love,” replied Mr. Brownlow, looking sadly back. 
“ She has not moved, and will not till we are gone.” 

Rose Maylie lingered, but the old gentleman drew her 
arm through his, and led her, with gentle force, away. As 
they disappeared, the girl sunk down nearly at her full length 
upon one of the stone stairs, and vented the anguish of her 
heart in bitter tears. 

After a time she arose, and with feeble and tottering steps 
ascended to the street. The astonished listener remained 
motionless on his post for some minutes afterwards, and 
having ascertained, with many cautious glances round him, 
that he was again alone, crept slowly from his hiding-place, 
and returned, stealthily and in the shade of the wall, in the 
same manner as he had descended. 

Peeping out^ more than once, when he reached the top, 
to make sure that he was unobserved, Noah Clay pole darted 
away at his utmost speed, and made for the Jew's house as 
fast as his legs would carry him. 


CHAPTE [I. 

FATAL CONS ?. 

It was nearly two hours before day-break ; that time which 
in the autumn of the year, may be truly called the dead of 
night; when the streets are silent and deserted; when even; 
sounds appear to slumber, and profligacy and riot have 
staggered home to dream; it was at this still and silent 
hour, that Fagin sat watching in his old lair, with face so 
distorted and pale, and eyes so red and bloodshot, that he 
looked less like a man, than like some hideous phantom, 
moist from the grave, and worried by an evil spirit. 

He sat crouching over a cold hearth, wrapped in an old 
torn coverlet, with his face turned towards a wasting candle 
that stood upon a table by his side. His right hand was 
raised to his lips, and as, absorbed in thought, he bit his 
long black nails, he disclosed among his toothless gums a few 
such fangs as should have been a dog’s or rat’s. 

Stretched upon a mattress on the floor, lay Noah Claypole, 
fast asleep. Towards him the old man sometimes directed 
his eyes for an instant, and then brought them back again 
to the ca idle ; which with a long-burnt wick drooping almost 
double, and hot grease falling down in clots upon the table, 
plainly showed that his thoughts were busy elsewhere. 

Indeed they were. Mortification at the overthrow of his 
notable scheme; hatred of the girl who had dared to palter 
with strangers; an utter distrust of the sincerity of her 


8 


OLIVER TWIST. 


'efusal to yield him up; bitter disappointment at the loss 
of his revenge on Sikes; the fear of detection, and ruin, and 
vleath ; and a fierce and deadly rage kindled by all ; these 
were the passionate considerations which, following close upon 
each other with rapid and ceaseless whirl, shot through the 
brain of Fagin, as every evil thought and blackest purpose 
lay working at his heart. 

He sat without changing his attitude in the least, or 
appearing to take the smallest heed of time, until his quick 
ear seemed to be attracted by a footstep in the street. 

At lasV’ he muttered, wiping his dry and fevered mouth. 

At last ! ’’ 

The bell rang gently as he spoke. He crept up stairs to 
the door, and presently returned accompanied by a man 
muffled to the chin, who carried a bundle under one arm. 
Sitting down and throwing back his outer coat, the man 
displayed the burly frame of Sikes. 

There ! ’’ he said, laying the bundle on the table. Take 
care of that, and do the most you can with it. IFs been 
trouble enough to get; I thought I should have been here, 
three hours ago.**’ 

Fagin laid his hand upon the bundle, and locking it in 
the cupboard, sat down again without speakinp*. But he 
did not take his eyes off the robber, for r nt, during 

this action; and now that they sat over i ich other, 

face to face, he looked fixedly at him, with mivering 

so violently, and his face so altered by th is which 

had mastered him, that the housebreaker in ly drew 

back his chair, and surveyed him with a look i right. 

^^Wot now?” cried Sikes. ‘^Wot do you a man 

so for?” 

Fagin raised his right hand, and shook his t. fore- 
finger in the air; but his passion was so grt the 

power of speech v/as for the moment gone. 

“ Damme ! ” said Sikes, feeling in his breast lok 


of alarm. 


He’s gone mad. 


I must look to mys> 


GOAI 


vVILD BEAST. 


489 


“No, no,’’’ rei finding his voice. “It’s not — 


you’re not the 

I’ve no — no fault to find with 

you.” 


“ Oh, you } 

t you ? ” said Sikes, looking sternly 

at him, and 

/ passing a pistol into a more con- 

venient po^ 

s lucky — for one of us. Which one 

that is, d' 


“I’ve 

.ell you. Bill,” said Fagin, drawing his 

chair n^ 

*ake you worse than me.” 

“A' 

i the robber with an incredulous air. 

“Ter 

k sharp, or Nance will think I’m lost.” 


Fagin. “ She has pretty well settled that. 

in 

1 , already.” 


with an aspect of great perplexity info the 


' .id reading no satisfactory explanation of the 

clenched his coat collar in his huge hand and 
ioundly. 

will you ! ” he said ; “ or if you don’t, it shall be 
of breath. Open your mouth and say wot you’ve 
g y in plain words. Out wth it, you thundering old 

cu with it ! ” 

pose that lad that’s lying there Fagin began. 

turned round to where Noah was sleeping, as if he 
1 c previously observed him. “ Well ! ” he said, resuming 
mer position. 

appose that lad,” pursued Fagin, “was to peach — to 
upon us all — first seeking out the right folks for the 
ose, and then having a meeting with ’em in the street to 
it our likenesses, describe every mark that they might 
w us by, and the crib where we might be most easily 
.en. Suppose he was to do all this, and besides to blo^\ 
on a plant we’ve all been in, more or less — of his own fancy 
A grabbed, trapped, tried, earwigged by the parson anc 
>rought to it on bread and water, — but of his own fancy ; t« 
please his own taste ; stealing out at nights to find those mos 
interested against us, and peaching to them. Do you hea 


440 


1 


OLIVER TWIST. 


me?"’ cried the Jew, his eyes flashing with rage. ‘^Suppose 
he did all this, what then ? ” 

What then ! ” replied Sikes ; with a tremendous oath. 
“ If he was left alive till I came. I’d grind his skull under 
the iron heel of my boot into as many grains as there are 
hairs upon his head."’ 

What if I did it!” cried Fagin almost in a yell. 
that know so much, and could hang so many besides myself 1 ” 

‘^I don’t know,” replied Sikes, clenching , his teeth and 
turning white at the mere suggestion. “I’d do something 
in the jail that ’ud get me put in irons ; and if I was tried 
along with you. I’d fall upon you with them in the open 
court, and beat your brains out afore the people). I should 
have such strength,” muttered the robber, poising his brawny 
arm, “ that I could smash your head as if a loaded waggon 
had gone over it.” 

/ “You would?” 

“Would I !” said the housebreaker. “Try me.” 

“ If it was Charley, or the Dodger, or Bet, or ” 

“ I don’t care who,” replied Sikes impatiently. “ Wh oever 
it was. I’d serve them the same.” 

Fagin looked hard at the robber; and, motioning hii'u to 
be silent, stooped over the bed upon the floor, and stiook 
the sleeper to rouse him. Sikes leant forward in his cluair: 
looking on with his hands upon his knees, as if wonder- 
ing much what all this questioning and preparation wais to 
end in. 

“ Bolter, Bolter 1 Poor lad ! ” said Fagin, looking up w ith 
an expression of devilish anticipation, and speaking slo^v 'ly 
and with marked emphasis. “ He’s tired — tired with watchin g 
for her so long, — watching for her^ Bill.” 

“Wot d’ye mean?” asked Sikes, drawing back. 

Fagin made no answer, but bending over the sleeper again, 
hauled him into a sitting posture. When his assumed name 
had been repeated several times, Noah rubbed his eyes, and, 
giving a heavy yawn, looked sleepily about him. 


GOADED TO 


441 


me that again — once again, jus. to hear,*” 

Tew, pointing to Sikes as he spoke. 

yer what?*” asked the sleepy Noah, sha. ' df 


about — Nancy,” said Fagin, clutching Sikes 
if to prevent his leaving the house before he ha 
ugh. You followed her.^*” 


ondon Bridge.^” 


2 she met two people.^” 

- did.” 

atleman and a lady that she had gone to of her 
i before, who asked her to give up all her pals, and 
it, which she did — and to describe him, which she did 
tell her what house it was that we meet at, and go 
she did — and where it could be best watched from, 
. did — and what time the people went there, which 
She did all this. She told it all every word without 
without a murmur — she did— did she not.^” cried 
■ f mad with fury. 

^ht,” replied Noah, scratching his head. ‘^ThaFs 


it wa^ ! ” 

did they say, about last Sunday ? ” 
last Sunday ! ” replied Noah, considering. Why 
. that before.” 

Tell it again ! ” cried Fagin, tightening his 
Sikes, and brandishing his other hand aloft, as the 
from his lips. 

asked her,” said Noah, who, as he grew more 
emed to have a dawning perception who Sikes was, 
' ed her why she didn’t come, last Sunday, as she 
She said she couldn’t.” 

- -why ? Tell him that.” 

;^e she was forcibly kept at home by Bill, the man 
Id them of before,” replied Noah. 


442 ^JVER TWIST. 

Wh him cried Fagin. ^ ore of ihe 

cold them of before ? Tell , tell liim 

*iy, that she couldn’t very easily ^ of doors 

.ss he knew where she was going to,” sail and so 

vUe first time she went to see the lady, she- ! ha ! it 

made me laugh when she said it, that it di* ive him 

a drink of laudanum.” 


Hell’s fire ! ” cried Sikes, breaking fiercely from the Jew. 

Let me go ! ” 

Flinging the old man from him, he rushed from the room, 
and darted, wildly and furiously, up the stairs. 

“ Bill, Bill ! ” cried Fagin, following him hastily. A word. 
Only a word.” 

The word would not have been exchanged, but that the 
housebreaker was unable to open the door : on which he was 
expending fruitless oaths and violence, when the Jew came 
panting up. 

‘^Let me out,” said Sikes. Don’t speak to me; it’s not 
safe. Let me out, I say ! ” 

"^^Hear me speak a word,” rejoined Fagin, laying his band 
upon the lock. You won’t be — ” 

Well,” replied the other. 

^^You won’t be — ^too — violent, Bill.^” 

The day was breaking, and there was light enough for the 
men to see each other’s faces. They exchanged one brief 
glance ; there was a fire in the eyes of both, which could not 
be mistaken. 

^^1 mean,” said Fagin, showing that he felt all disguise 
was now useless, “ not too violent for safety. Be crafty, ^Bill, 
and not too bold.” 

Sikes made no reply ; but, pulling open the door, of wl iich 
Fagin had turned the lock, dashed into the silent streets. 

Without one pause, or moment’s consideration ; with .out 
once turning his head to the right or left, or raising his eyes 
to the sky, or lowering them to the ground, but lool dng 


THE WILD BEAST SPRINGS. 


straight before him with savage resolution : his teeth so 
tightly compressed that the strained jaw seemed starting 
through his skin ; the robber held on his headlong course, 
nor muttered a word, nor relaxed a muscle, until he reached 
fhis own door. He opened it, softly, with a key; strode 
lightly up the stairs; and entering his own room, double- 
locked the door, and lifting a heavy table against it, drew 
back the curtain of the bed. 

The girl was lying, half-dressed, upon it. He had roused 
her from her sleep, for she raised herself with a hurried and 
startled look. 

Get up ! said the man. 

It is you. Bill ! said the girl, with an expression of 
pleasure at his return. 

It is,’’ was the reply. “ Get up.” 

There was a candle burning, but the man hastily drew it 
from the candlestick, and hurled it under the grate. Seeing 
the faint light of early day without, the girl rose to undraw 
the curtain. 




44 


‘^Let it be,” said Sikes, thrusting his hand before her. 

There’s light enough for wot I’ve got to do.” 

“ Bill,” said the girl, in the low voice of alarm, why do 
you look like that at me ! ” 

The robber sat regarding her, for a few seconds, with 
dilated nostrils and heaving breast ; and then, grasping her' 
by the head and throat, dragged her into the middle of the 
room, and looking once towards the door, placed his heavy 
hand upon her mouth. 

Bill, Bill ! ” gasped the girl, wrestling with the strength 
of mortal fear,- — ^‘I — I won’t scream or cry — not once — hear 
me — speak to me — ^tell me what I have done ! ” 

‘^You know, you she devil!” returned the robber, sup- 
pressing his breath. “You were watched to-night; every 
word you said was heard.” 

“Then spare my life for the love of Heaven, as I spared 
yours,” rejoined the girl, clinging to him. “Bill, dear Bill, 


OLIVER TWIST. 


you cannot have the heart to kill me. hink of all I 

have given up, only this one night, for ; >u shall have 

time to think, and save yourself this ci dll not loose 

my hold, you cannot throw me off. Bill r dear God's 

sake, for your own, for mine, stop before 1 my blood ! 

I have been true to you, upon my guilt; biave ! 

The man struggled violently, to rel. arms; but 

those of the girl were clasped round his, and tear her as 
he would, he could not tear them away. 

“Bill," cried the girl, striving to lay her head upon his 
breast, “the gentleman and that dear lady, told me to-night 
of a home in some foreign country where I could end my 
days in solitude and peace. Let me see them again, and 
beg them, on my knees, to show the same mercy and goodness 
to you; and let us both leave this dreadful place, and far 
apart lead better lives, and forget how we have lived, except 
in prayers, and never see each other more. It is never too 
late to repent. They told me so — I feel it now — but we 
must have time — a little, little time ! " 

The housebreaker freed one arm, and grasped his pistol. 
The certainty of immediate detection if he fired, flashed across 
his mind even in the midst of his fury ; and he beat it twice 
with all the force he could summon, upon the upturned face 
that almost touched his own. 

She staggered and fell : nearly blinded with the blood 
that rained down from a deep gash in her forehead ; but 
raising herself, with difficulty, on her knees, drew from her 
bosom a white handkerchief — Rose Maylie's own — and holding 
it up, in her folded hands, as high towards Heaven as her 
feeble strength would allow, breathed one prayer for mercy 
to her Maker. 

It was a ghastly figure to look upon. The murderer 
staggering backward to the wall, and shutting out the sight 
with his hand, seized a hea\y club and struck her down. 


CHAPTER XLVIII. 


THE FLIGHT OF SIKES. 

Df all bad deeds that, under cover of the darkness, had 
oeen committed within wide London’s bounds since night 
hung over it, that was the worst. Of all the horrors that 
rose with an ill scent upon the morning air, that was the 
foulest and most cruel. 

The sun — the bright sun, that brings back, not light 
alone, but new life, and hope, and freshness to man— burst 
upon the crowded city in clear and radiant glory. Through 
costly-coloured glass and paper-mended window, through 
cathedral dome and rotten crevice, it shed its equal ray. It 
lighted up the room where the murdered woman lay. It did. 
He tried to shut it out, but it would stream in. If the 
Vjad been a ghastly one in the dull morning, what was 
: in all that brilliant light ! 

had not moved; he had been afraid to stir. There 
I ■ s m a moan and motion of the hand ; and, with terror 
a :o rage, he had struck and struck again. Once he 
t, rug over it ; but it was worse to fancy the eyes, and 

it’ it; them moving towards him, than to see them glaring 
u] as if watching the reflection of the pool of gore that 

qi and danced in the sunlight on the ceiling. He 

ha ked it off" again. And there was the body — mere 
fle; blood, no more — but such flesh, and so much blood ! 

1 ick a ligcht, kindled a fire, and thrust the club into 


44G 


OLIVER TWIST. 


it. There was hair upon the end, which blazed and shrunk 
into a light cinder, and, caught by the air, whirled up the 
chimney. Even that frightened him, sturdy as he was ; but 
he held the weapon till it broke, and then piled it on the 
coals to bum away, and smoulder into ashes. He washed 
himself, and rubbed his clothes ; there were spots that would 
not be removed, but he cut the pieces out, and burnt them. 
How those stains were dispersed about the room ! The very 
feet of the dog were bloody. 

All this time he had, never once, turned his back upon 
the corpse ; no, not for a moment. Such preparations 
completed, he moved, backward, towards the door : dragging 
the dog with him, lest he should soil his feet anew and carry 
out new evidences of the crime into the streets. He shut 
the door softly, locked it, took the key, and left the house. 

He crossed over, and glanced up at the window, to be 
sure that nothing was visible from the outside. There was 
the curtain still drawn, which she would have opened to 
admit the light she never saw again. It lay nearly under 
there. He knew that. God, how the sun poured down 
upon the very spot ! 

The glance was instantaneous. It was a relief to have got 
free of the room. He whistled on the dog, and walked 
rapidly away. 

He went through Islington ; strode up the hill at Highgate 
on v/hich stands the stone in honour of Whittington ; turned 
down to Highgate Hill, unsteady of purpose, and uncertain 
where to go ; struck oft* to the right again, almost as soon 
as he began to descend it ; and taking the foot-path across 
the fields, skirted Caen Wood, and so came out on Hampstead 
Heath. Traversing the hollow by the Vale of Health, he 
mounted the opposite bank, and crossing the road whiclji joins 
the villages of Hampstead and Highgate, made aloi^g the 
remaining portion of the heath to the fields at North End, 
in one of which he laid himself down vuider a hedge, and 


A RESTLESS WANDERER. ♦ 447 

Soon he was up again, and away, — not far into the 
country, but back towards London by the high-road — then 
back again — then over another part of the same ground as 
he already traversed — then wandering up and down in fields, 
and lying on ditches’ brinks to rest, and starting up to make 
for some other spot, and do the same, and ramble on again. 

Where could he go, that was near and not too public, to 
get some meat and drink? Hendon. That was a good 
place, not far off, and out of most people’s way. Thither 
he directed his steps, — running sometimes, and sometimes, 
with a strange perversity, loitering at a snail’s pace, or 
stopping altogether and idly breaking the hedges with his 
stick. But when he got there, all the people he met — the 
very children at the doors — seemed to view him with suspicion. 
Back he turned again, without the courage to purchase bit 
or drop, though he had tasted no food for many hours ; and 
once more he lingered on the Heath, uncertain where to go. 

He wandered over miles and miles of ground, and still 
came back to the old place. Morning and noon had j^assed, 
and the day was on the wane, and still he rambled to and 
fro, and up and down, and round and round, and still 
lingered about the same spot. At last he got away, and 
shaped his course for Hatfield. 

It was nine o’clock at night, when the man, quite tired 
out, and the dog, limping and lame from the unaccustomed 
exercise, turned down the hill by the chiu'ch of the quiet 
village, and plodding along the little street, crept into a 
small public-house, whose scanty light had guided them to 
the spot. There was a fire in the tap-room, and some 
country-labourers were drinking before it. They made room 
for the stranger, but he sat down in the ffirthest comer, and 
ate and drank alone, or rather with his dog : to whom he 
cast a morsel of food from time to time. 

The conversation of the men assembled here, turned upon 
the neighbouring land, and farmers;^ and when those topics 
were e^diausted, upon the age of some old man who had 


448 


OL 


’WIST. 


been buried on the pre\iv.^. day; the young men present 
considering him very old, and the old men present declaring 
him to have been quite young — not older, one white-haired 
grandfather said, than he was — with ten or fifteen year of 
life in him at least — if he had taken care ; if he had taken 
care. 

There was nothing to attract attention, or excite alarm 
in this. The robber, after paying his reckoning, sat silent 
and unnoticed in his corner, and had almost dropped asleep, 
when he was half wakened by the noisy entrance of a new- 
comer. 

This was an antic fellow, half pedlar and half mountebank, 
who travelled about the country on foot to vend hones, 
strops, razors, washballs, harness-paste, medicine for dogs and 
horses, cheap perfumery, cosmetics, and such-like wares, which 
he carried in a case slung to his back. His entrance was 
the signal for various homely jokes with the countrymen, 
which slackened not until he had made his suppex’, and 
opened his box of treasures, when he ingeniously contrived 
to unite business with amusement. 

‘^And what be that stoof.^ Good to eat, Harry asked 
a grinning countryman, pointing to some composition-cakes 
in one corner. 

This,’’ said the fellow, producing one, this is the infallible 
and invaluable composition for removing all sorts of stain, 
rust, dirt, mildew, spick, speck, spot, or spatter, from silk, 
satin, linen, cambric, cloth, crape, stuff, carpet, merino, muslin, 
bombazeen, or woollen stuff. Wine-stains, fruit-stains, beer- 
stains, water-stain.s paint-stains, pitch-stains, any stains, all 
come out at one rub with the infallible and invaluable r ’ 
position. If a lady stains her honour, she has only ne^ 
swallow one cake and she’s cured at once — for it’s ]' 

If a gentleman wants to prove this, he has only n 
bolt one little square, and he has put it beyond qu^ 
for it’s quite as satisfactory as a pistol-bullet, and 
deal nastier in the flavour, consequently the more 


STAINS OF BLOOD. 449 

taking it. One penny a square. With all these virtues, 
one penny a square ! 

There were two buyers directly, and more of the listeners 
plainly hesitated. The vendor observing this, increased in 
loquacity. 

IFs all bought up as fast as it can be made,"’’ said the 
fellow. There are fourteen water-mills, six steam-engines, 
and a galvanic battery, always a- working upon it, and they 
canT make it fast enough, though the men work so hard 
that they die off, and the widows is pensioned directly, with 
twenty pound a-year for each of the children, and a premium 
of fifty for twins. One penny a square ! Two halfpence is 
all the same, and four farthings is received with joy. One 
penny a square ! Wine-stains, fruit-stains, beer-stains, water- 
stains, paint-stains, pitch-stains, mud-stains, blood-stains ! 
Here is a stain upon the hat of a gentleman in company, 
that I’ll take clean out, before he can order me a pint 
of ale.” 

Hah ! ” cried Sikes starting up. Give that back.” 

^^ril take it clean out, sir,” replied the man, winking 
to the company, ‘‘before you can come across the room to 
get it. Gentlemen all, observe the dark stain upon this 
gentleman’s hat, no wider than a shilling, but thicker 
than a half-crown. Whether it is a wine-stain, fruit-stain, 
beer-stain, water-stain, paint-stain, pitch-stain, mud-stain, or 
blood-stain — ” 

The man got no further, for Sikes with a hideous impreca- 
tion overthrew the table, and tearing the hat from him, burst 
out of the house. 

With the same perversity of feeling and irresolution that 
had fastened upon him, despite himself, all day, the murderer, 
finding that he was not followed, and that they most probably 
considered him some drunken sullen fellow, turned back up 
the town, and getting out of the glare of the lamps of a 
stage-coach that was standing in the street, was walkings 
past, when he recognised the mail from London, and saw 

2 G 


450 


OLIVER TWIST. 


that it was standing at the little post-office. He almost 
knew what was to come ; but he crossed over, and listened. 

The guard was standing at the door, waiting for the letter- 
bag. A man, dressed like a gamekeeper, came up at the 
moment, and he handed him a basket which lay ready on 
the pavement. 

^‘That’s for your people,"’ said the guard. “Now, look 
alive in there, will you. Damn that "ere bag, it warn"t ready 
night afore last ; this won’t do, you know ! ” 

“ Anything new up in town, Ben ? ” asked the gamekeeper, 
drawing back to the window-shutters, the better to admire 
the horses. 

“No, nothing that I knows on,” replied the man, pulling 
on his gloves. “ Corn’s up a little. I heerd talk of a murder, 
too, down Spitalfields way, but I doirt reckon much upon it.” 

“ Oh, that’s quite true,” said a gentleman inside, who was 
looking out of the window. “ And a dreadful murder it was.” 

“Was it, sir.^” rejoined the guard, touching his hat. 
“ Man or woman, pray, sir ? ” 

“ A woman,” replied the gentleman. “ It is supposed ^ ” 

“Now, Ben,” replied the coachman impatiently. 

“ Damn that "ere bag,” said the guard ; “ are you gone to 
sleep in there ? ” 

“ Coming ! ” cried the office keeper, running out. 

“ Coming,” growled the guard. “ Ah, and so’s the young 
’ooman of property that’s going to take a fancy to me, bu^ 
I don’t know when. Here, give hold. All ri — ight ! ” 

The horn sounded a few cheerful notes, and the coach w, 
gone. 

Sikes remained standing in the street, apparently unmovc 
by what he had just heard, and agitated by no stronger feelin 
than a doubt where to go. At length he went back agaii 
and took the road which leads from Hatfield to St. Albans. 

He went on doggedly; but as he left the town behin 
him, and plunged into the solitude and darkness of the roac 
he felt a dread and awe creeping upon him >vhich shook hii 


THE CURSE OF CAIN. 


451 


to the core. Every object before him, substance or shadow, 
still or moving, took the semblance of some fearful thing; 
but these fears were nothing compared to the sense that 
haunted him of that morning‘’s ghastly figure following at 
his heels. He could trace its shadow in the gloom, supply 
the smallest item of the outline, and note how stiff and 
solemn it seemed to stalk along. He could hear its garments 
rustling in the leaves, and every breath of wind came laden 
with that last low cry. If he stopped it did the same. If 
he ran, it followed — not running too : that would have been 
a relief : but like a corpse endowed with the mere machinery 
of life, and borne on one slow melancholy wind that never 
rose or fell. 

At times, he turned, with desperate determination, resolved 
to beat this phantom off, though it should look him dead; 
but the hair rose on his head, and his blood stood still, for 
it had turned with him and was behind him then. He had 
kept it before him that morning, but it was behind now — 
always. He leaned his back against a bank, and felt that it 
stood above him, visibly out against the cold night-sky. He 
threw himself upon the road — on his back upon the road. 
At his head it stood, silent, erect, and still — a living grave- 
stone, with its epitaph in blood. 

Let no man talk of murderers escaping justice, and hint 
that Providence must sleep. There were twenty score of 
violent deaths in one long minute of that agony of fear. 

There was a shed in a field he passed, that offered shelter 
for the night. Before the door, were three tall poplar trees, 
which made it very dark within; and the wind moaned 
through them with a dismal wail. He could not walk on, 
till daylight came again ; and here he stretched himself close 
to the wall — to undergo new torture. 

For now, a vision came before him, as constant and more 
terrible than that from which he had escaped. Those widely 
staring eyes, so lustreless and so glassy, that he had better 
borne to see them than think upon them, appeared in the 


452 


OLIVER T\\^IST. 


midst of the darkness ; light in themselves, - ^ ^ ng light 
to nothing. There were but two, but they were everywhere. 
If he shut out the sight, there came the room with every 
well-known object — some, indeed, that he would have forgotten, 
if he had gone over its contents from memory — each in its 
accustomed place. The body was in its place, and its eyes 
were as he saw them when he stole away. He got up, and 
rushed into the field without. The figure was behind him. 
He re-entered the shed, and shrunk down once more. The 
eyes were there, before he had laid himself along. 

And here he remained in such terror as none but he can 
know, trembling in every limb, and the cold sweat starting 
from every pore, when suddenly there arose upon the night- 
wind the noise of distant shouting, and the roar of voices 
mingled in alarm and wonder. Any sound of men in that 
lonely place, even though it conveyed a real cause of alarm, 
was something to him. He regained his strength and energy 
at the prospect of personal danger; and springing to his 
feet, rushed into the open air. 

The broad sky seemed on fire. Rising into the air with 
showers of sparks, and rolling one above the other, were 
sheets of flame, lighting the atmosphere for miles round, 
and driving clouds of smoke in the direction where he stood. 
The shouts grew louder as new voices swelled the roar, and 
he could hear the cry of Fire ! mingled with the ringing of 
an alarm-bell, the fall of heavy bodies, and the crackling of 
flames as they twined round some new obstacle, and shot 
aloft as though refreshed by food. The noise increased as 
he looked. There were people there — men and women — 
light, bustle. It was like new life to him. He darted 
onward — straight, headlong — dashing through brier and 
brake, and leaping gate and fence as madly as his dog, who 
careered with loud and sounding bark before him. 

He came upon the spot. There were half-dressed figures 
tearing to and fro, some endeavouring to drag the frightened 
horses from the stables, others driving the cattle from the 


THE MURDER DISCUSSED. 


453 


yard and out-houses, and others coming laden from the 
burning pile, amidst a shower of falling sparks, and the 
tumbling down of red-hot beams. The apertures, where 
doors and windows stood an hour ago, disclosed a mass of 
raging fire; walls rocked and crumbled into the burning 
well ; the molten lead and iron poured down, white hot, 
upon the ground. Women and children shrieked, and men 
encouraged each other with noisy shouts and cheers. The 
clanking of the engine-pumps, and the spirting and hissing 
of the water as it fell upon the blazing wood, added to the 
tremendous roar. He shouted, too, till he was hoarse ; and 
flying from memory and himself, plunged into the thickest of 
the throng. 

Hither and thither he dived that night: now working 
at the pumps, and now hurrying through the smoke and 
flame, but never ceasing to engage himself wherever noise 
and men were thickest. Up and down the ladders, upon 
the roofs of buildings, over floors that quaked and trembled 
with his weight, under the lee of falling bricks and stones, in 
every part of that great fire was he ; but he bore a charmed 
life, and had neither scratch nor bruise, nor weariness nor 
thought, till morning dawned again, and only smoke and 
blackened ruins remained. 

This mad excitement over, there returned, with tenfold 
force, the dreadful consciousness of his ^ crime. He looked 
suspiciously about him, for the men were conversing in groups, 
and he feared to be the subject of their talk. The dog 
obeyed the significant beck of his finger, and they drew off*, 
stealthily, together. He passed near an engine where some 
men were seated, and they called to him to share in their 
refreshment. He took some bread and meat; and as he 
drank a draught of beer, heard the firemen, who were from 
London, talking about the murder. He has gone to 
Birmingham, they say,’’ said one : but they’ll have him yet, 
for the scouts are out, and by to-morrow night there’ll be 
a cry all through the country,” 


454 


OLIVER TWIST. 


He hurried off, and walked till he al pped upon 

the ground ; then lay down in a lane, i a long, but 

broken and uneasy sleep. He wandered i, irresolute 

and undecided, and oppressed with the fear Ox her solitary 
night. 

Suddenly, he took the desperate resolution of going back 
to London. 

^‘^There‘’s somebody to speak to there, at all events,*” he 
thought. “A good hiding-place, too. Theydl never expect 
to nab me there, after this country scent. Why cafft I lie 
by for a week or so, and, forcing blunt from Fagin, get 
abroad to France.^ Damme, Fll risk it.*” 

He acted upon this impulse without delay, and choosing 
the least frequented roads began his journey back, resolved 
to lie concealed within a short distance of the metropolis, 
and, entering it at dusk by a circuitous route, to proceed 
straight to that part of it which he had fixed on for his 
destination. 

The dog, though. If any descriptions of him were out, 
it would not be forgotten that the dog was missing, and had 
probably gone with him. This might lead to his apprehension 
as he passed along the streets. He resolved to drown him, 
and walked on, looking about for a pond : picking up a heavy 
stone and tying it to his handkerchief as he went. 

The animal looked up into his master’s face while these 
preparations were making; whether his instinct apprehended 
something of their purpose, or the robber’s sidelong look at 
him was sterner than ordinary, he skulked a little farther in 
the rear than usual, and cowered as he came more slowly 
along. When his master halted at the brink of a pool, and 
looked round to call him, he stopped outright. 

Do you hear me call ? Come here ! ” cried Sikes. 

The animal came up from the very force of habit ; but as 
Sikes stooped to attach the handkerchief to his throat, he 
uttered a low growl and started back. 

Come back !” said the robl.^r. 









FLIGHT OF THE DOG. 455 

The dog wagged his tail, but moved not. Sikes made a 
running noose and called him again. 

The dog advanced, retreated, paused an instant, turned, 
and scoured away at his hardest speed. 

The man whistled again and again, and sat down and 
waited in the expectation that he would return. But no 
dog appeared, and at length he resumed his journey. 


CHAPTER XLIX. 


MONKS AND MR. BROWNLOW AT LENGTH MEET. THEIR CON- 
VERSATION, AND THE INTELLIGENCE THAT INTERRUPTS IT. 

The twilight was beginning to close in, when Mr. Brownlow 
alighted from a hackney-coach at his own door, and knocked 
softly. The door being opened, a sturdy man got out of 
the coach and stationed himself on one side of the steps, 
while another man, who had been seated on the box, dis- 
mounted too, and stood upon the other side. At a sign from 
Mr. Brownlow, they helped out a third man, and taking him 
between them, hurried him into the house. This man was 
Monks. 

They walked in the same manner up the stairs without 
speaking, and Mr. Brownlow, preceding them, led the way 
into a back-room. At the door of this apartment, Monks, 
who had ascended with evident reluctance, stopped. The two 
men looked to the old gentleman as if for instructions. 

“ He knows the alternative,’’ said Mr. Brownlow. If he 
hesitates or moves a finger but as you bid him, drag him 
into the street, call for the aid of the police, and impeach 
him as a felon in my name.” 

How dare you say this of me ? ” asked Monks. 

How dare you urge me to it, young man ? ” replied Mr. 
Brownlow, confronting him with a steady look. ‘^Are you 
mad enough to leave this house ? Unhand him. There, sir. 
You are free to go, and we to follow. But I warn you, by 
all I hold most solemn and most sacred, that the instant you 


MONKS AT BAY. 


457 


set foot in the street, that instant will I have you apprehended 
on a charge of fraud and robbery. I am resolute and immove- 
able. If you are determined to be the same, your blood be 
upon your own head ! ’’’ 

^^By what authority am I kidnapped in the street, and 
brought here by these dogs ? ” asked Monks, looking from one 
to the other of the men who stood beside him. 

‘^By mine,’’ replied Mr. Brownlow. “Those persons are 
indemnified by me. If you complain of being deprived of 
your liberty — you had power and opportunity to retrieve 
it as you came along, but you deemed it advisable to remain 
quiet — I say again, throw yourself for protection on the law. 
I will appeal to the law too ; but when you have gone too 
far to recede, do not sue to me for leniency, when the power 
will have passed into other hands ; and do not say I plunged 
you down the gulf into which you rushed, yourself.” 

Monks was plainly disconcerted, and alarmed besides. He 
hesitated. 

“ You will decide quickly,” said Mr. Browmlow, with perfect 
firmness and composure. “If you wish me to prefer my 
charges publicly, and consign you to a punishment the extent 
of which, although I can, with a shudder, foresee, I cannot 
control, once more, I say, you know the way. If not, and 
you appeal to my forbearance, and the mercy of those you 
have deeply injured, seat yourself, without a word, in that 
chair. It has waited for you two whole days.” 

Monks muttered some unintelligible words, but wavered 
still. 

“ You will be prompt,” said Mr. Brownlow. “ A word 
from me, and the alternative has gone for ever.” 

Still the man hesitated. 

“ I have not the inclination to parley,” said Mr. Brownlow, 
“and, as I advocate the dearest interests of others, I have 
not the right.” 

“ Is there — ” demanded Monks with a faltering tongue,— 

^ “ is there — no middle course ? ” 


458 


OLIVER TWIST. 


None.'’ 

Monks looked at the old gentleman, with an anxious eye; 
but, reading in his countenance nothing but severity and 
determination, walked into the room, and, shrugging his 
shoulders, sat down. 

^‘Lock the door on the outside,” said Mr. Brownlow to 
the attendants, “and come when I ring.” 

The men obeyed, and the two were left alone together. 

“ This is pretty treatment, sir,” said Monks, throwing 
down his hat and cloak, “ from my father’s oldest friend.” 

“It is because I was your father’s oldest friend, young 
man,” returned Mr. Bro^vnlow ; “ it is because the hopes and 
wishes of young and happy years were bound up with him, 
and that fair creature of his blood and kindred who rejoined 
her God in youth, and left me here a solitary, lonely man : 
it is because he knelt with me beside his only sister’s death- 
bed when he was yet a boy, on the morning that would — 
but Heaven willed otherwise — have made her my young wife ; 
it is because my seared heart clung to him, from that time 
forth, through all his trials and errors, till he died; it is 
because old recollections and associations filled my heart, and 
even the sight of you brings with it old thoughts of him ; 
it is because of all these things that I am moved to treat 
you gently now — ^yes, Edward Leeford, even now — and blush 
for your unworthiness who bear the name.” 

“What has the name to do with it.^” asked the other, 
after contemplating, half in silence, and half in dogged 
wonder, the agitation of his companion. “ What is the name 
to me ? ” 

“Nothing,” replied Mr. Bro^vnlow, “nothing to you. But 
it was hers^ and even at this distance of time brings back 
to me, an old man, the glow and thrill which I once felt, 
only to hear it repeated by a stranger. I am very glad you 
have changed it — very — very.” 

“This is all mighty fine,” said Monks (to retain his 
assumed designation) after a long silence, during which he 


MR. BROWNLOW TELLS A TALE. 


459 


had jerked himself in sullen defiance to and fro, and Mr. 
Brownlow had sat, shading his face with his hand. ^^But 
what do you want with me ? ’’ 

You have a brother, said Mr. Brownlow, rousing himself: 
‘‘a brother, the whisper of whose name in your ear when I 
came behind you in the street, was, in itself, almost enough 
to make you accompany me hither, in wonder and alarm."’ 

I have no brother,” replied Monks. “ You know I was 
an only child. Why do you talk to me of brothers? You 
know that, as well as I.” 

Attend to what I do know, and you may not,” said Mr. 
Brownlow. I shall interest you by and by. I know that 
of the wretched marriage, into which family pride, and the 
most sordid and narrowest of all ambition, forced your unhappy 
father when a mere boy, you were the sole and most unnatural 
issue.” 

don’t care for hard names,” intermpted Monks with a 
jeering laugh. ‘^You know the fact, and that’s enough for 
me.” 

‘‘ But I also know,” pursued the old gentleman, the 
misery, the slow torture, the protracted anguish of that ill- 
assorted union. I know how listlessly and wearily each of 
that wretched pair dragged on their heavy chain through a 
world that was poisoned to them both. I know how cold 
formalities were succeeded by open taunts; how indifference 
gave place to dislike, dislike to hate, and hate to loathing, 
until at last they wrenched the clanking bond asunder, and 
retiring a wide space apart, carried each a galling fragment, 
of which nothing but death could break the rivets, to hide 
it in new society beneath the gayest looks they could assume. 
Your mother succeeded; she forgot it soon. But it rusted 
and cankered at your father’s heart for year’s.” 

‘‘Well, they were separated,” said Monks, “and what of 
that ? ” 

“ When the}^ had been separated for some time,” returned 
Mr. Brownlow, “and 3^our mother, wholly given up to 


460 


OLIVER TWIST. 


continental frivolities, had utterly forgotten the young 
husband ten good years her junior, who, with prospects 
blighted, lingered on at home, he fell among new friends. 
This circumstance, at least, you know already.’** 

‘^Not I,” said Monks, turning a"*fay his eyes and beating 
his foot upon the ground, as a man who is determined to 
deny everything. “ Not I.” 

‘‘Your manner, no less than your actions, assures me that 
you have never forgotten it, or ceased to think of it with 


bitterness,” returned Mr. Brownlow. ‘ 
ago, when you were not more than ele 
father but one-and- thirty — for he was 
his father ordered him to marry. Mi 
which cast a shade upon the memory 
you spare it, and disclose to me the tr 

“ I have nothing to disclose,” rejoinec 
talk on if you will.” 

“These new friends, then,” said M 
naval officer retired from active service 
some half-a-year before, and left him wii 
had been more, but, of all their fami 
survived. They were both daughters ; o 
of nineteen, and the other a mere child 
old.” 


of fifteen years 
old, and your 
b, a boy, when 
back to events 
oarent, or will 

“ You must 

low, “ were a 
vife had died 
ildren — there 
)ily but two 
tiful creature 
r three years 


“ What’s this to me ? ” asked Monks. 
“They resided,” said Mr. Brownlow, 
hear the interruption, “in a part of t 
your father in his wandering had repa 
had taken up his abode. Acquaintance, 
fast followed on each other. Your fathi 
men are. He had his sister’s soul and f 
officer knew him more and more, he gr 
would that it had ended there. His daug 
The old gentleman paused ; Monks 
with his eyes fixed upon the floor ; seeing tl 
resumed : 


seeming to 
ry to which 
1 where he 
friendship, 
fted as few 
A.S the old 
ve him. I 
the same.” 
g his lips, 
imediately 


MONKS IS DEEPLY INTERESTED. 


461 


‘^The end of a year found liim contracted, solemnly con- 
tracted, to that daughter; the object of the first, true, ardent, 
only passion of a guileless girl."’’ 

‘‘ Your tale is of the longest,"" observed Monks, moving 
restlessly in his chair. 

‘‘ It is a true tale of grief and trial, and sorrow, young 
man,"" returned Mr. Brownlow, and such tales usually are ; 
if it were one of unmixed joy and happiness, it would be very 
brief. At length one of those rich relations to strengthen 
whose interest and importance your father had been sacrificed, 
as others are often — it is no uncommon case — died, and to 
repair the misery he had been instrumental in occasioning, 
left him his panacea for all griefs — Money. It was necessary 
that he should immediately repair to Rome, whither this 
man had sped for health, and where he had died, leaving 
his affairs in great confusion. He went; was seized with 
mortal illness there ; was followed, the moment the intelligence 
reached Paris, by your mother who carried you with her; he 
died the day after her arrival, leaving no will — 7io ivill — so 
that the whole property fell to her and you."" 

At this part of the recital Monks held his breath, and 
listened with a face of intense eagerness, though his eyes 
were not directed towards the speaker. As Mr. Brownlow 
paused, he changed his position with the air of one who has 
experienced a sudden relief, and wiped his hot face and 
hands. 

Before he went abroad, and as -he passed through London 
on his way,"" said Mr. Brownlow, slowly, and fixing his eyes 
upon the other’s face, he came to me."" 

I never heard of that,” interrupted Monks in a tone 
intended to appear incredulous, but savouring more of 
disagreeable surprise. 

He came to me, and left with me, among some other 
things, a picture — a portrait painted by himself — a likeness 
of this poor girl — which he did not wish to leave behind, 
and could not carry forward on his hasty journey. He was 


OLIVER TWIST. 


worn by anxiety and remorse almost to a shadow ; talked in 
a wild, distracted way, of ruin and dishonour worked by 
himself; confided to me his intention to convert his whole 
property, at any loss, into money, and, having settled on his 
wife and you a portion of his recent acquisition, to fly the 
country — I guessed too well he would not fly alone — and 
never see it more. Even from me, his old and early friend, 
whose strong attachment had taken root in the earth that 
covered one most dear to both — even from me he withheld 
any more particular confession, promising to write and tell 
me all, and after that to see me once again, for the last time 
on earth. Alas! That was the last time. I had no letter, 
and I never saw him more. 

went,*” said Mr. Brownlow, after a short pause, ‘‘I 
went, when all was over, to the scene of his — I will use the 
term the world would freely use, for worldly harshness or 
favour are now alike to him — of his guilty love, resolved 
that if my fears were realised that erring child should find 
one heart and home to shelter and compassionate her. The 
family had left that pait a week before; they had called 
in such trifling debts as were outstanding, discharged them, 
and left the place by night. Why, or whither, none can 
tell.^’ 

Monks drew his breath yet more freely, and looked round 
with a smile of triumph. 

When your brother,” said Mr. Brownlow, drawing nearer 
to the other‘’s chair, When your brother : a feeble, ragged, 
neglected child : was cast in my way by a stronger hand than 
chance, and rescued by me from a life of vice and infamy — ” 

‘‘ What ? ” cried Monks. 

‘‘ By me,” said Mr. Brownlow. I told you I should 
interest you before long. I say by me — I see that youi’ 
cunning associate suppressed my name, although for aught 
he knew, it would be quite strange to )^our ears. When he 
was rescued by me, then, and lay recovering from sickness 
in my house, his strong resemblance to this picture I have 


THE TALE IS HIGHLY EFFECTIVE. 463 

spoken of, struck me with astonishment. Even when I first 
saw him in all his dirt and misery, there was a lingering 
expression in his face that came upon me like a glimpse of 
some old friend flashing on one in a vivid dream. I need 
not tell you he was snared away before I knew his history ” 

Why not ? asked Monks hastily. 

Because you know it well.*’’ 

I ! ” 

Denial to me is vain,’** replied Mr. Brownlow. I shall 
show you that I know more than that.” 

You — ^j'ou — can’t prove anything against me,” stammered 
Monks. I defy you to do it ! ” 

“ We shall see,” returned the old gentleman with a searching 
glance. I lost the boy, and no efforts of mine could recover 
him. Your mother being dead, I knew that you alone could 
solve the mystery if anybody could, and as when I liad last 
heard of you you were on your own estate in the West Indies 
whither, as you well know, you retired upon your mother’s 
death to escape the consequences of vicious courses here — I 
made the voyage. You had left it, months before, and were 
supposed to be in London, but no one could tell where. I 
returned. Your agents had no clue to your residence. You 
came and went, they said, as strangely as you had ever done : 
sometimes for days together and sometimes not for months : 
keeping to all appearance the same low haunts and mingling 
with the same infamous herd who had been your associates 
when a fierce ungovernable boy. I wearied them with new 
applications. I paced the streets by night and day, but 
until two hours ago, all my efforts were fruitless, and I 
never saAv you for an instant.” 

“And now you do see me,” said Monks, rising boldly, 

“ what then ? Fraud and robbery are high-sounding words 
justified, you think, by a fancied resemblance in some 
young imp to an idle daub of a deael man’s. Brother ! You 
don’t even know that a child was born of this maudlin pair ; 
you don’t even know that.” 


464 


OLIVER TWIST. 


I did not^'" replied Mr. Brownlow, rising too ; “ but 
within the last fortnight I have learnt it all. You have a 
brother ; you know it, and him. There was a will, which 
your mother destroyed, leaving the secret and the gain to 
you at her own death. It contained a reference to some 
child likely to be the result of this sad connection, which 
child was born, and accidentally encountered by you, when 
your suspicions were first awakened by his resemblance to his 
father. You repaired to the place of his birth. There 
existed proofs — proofs long suppressed — of his birth and 
parentage. Those proofs were destroyed by you, and now, 
in your own words to your accomplice the Jew, ^ the only 
proofs qf the hoy’^s identity lie at the bottom of the river ^ and 
the old hag that received them from the mother is rotting in 
her coffin,'' Unworthy son, coward, liar, — ^you, who hold your 
councils with thieves and murderers in dark rooms at night, 
— you, whose plots and wiles have brought a violent death 
upon the head of one worth millions such as you, — ^you, 
who from your cradle were gall and bitterness to your own 
father’s heart, and in whom all evil passions, vice, and pro- 
fligacy, festered, till they found a vent in a hideous disease 
which has made your face an index even to your mind — ^you, 
Edward Leeford, do you still brave me ! ” 

No, no, no ! ” returned the coward, overwhelmed by these 
accumulated charges. 

“ Every word ! ” cried the old gentleman, “ every word 
that has passed. between you and this detested villain, is known 
to me. Shadows on the wall have caught your whispers, 
and brought them to my ear; the sight of the persecuted 
child has turned vice itself, and given it the courage and 
almost the attributes of virt 
which you were morally if noi 
No, no,” interposed Mon 
that ; I was going to inquin 
you overtook me. I didn’t 1 
was a common quarrel.” 


Mi-^der has been done, to 
party.” 

-I — know nothing of 
ith of the story when 
cause. I thought it 


TIDINGS OF THE MURDERER. 


4 


« It was the partial disclosure- of your secrets,*” replied i\Ir. 
Browiilow. Will you disclose the whole ? ’’*’ 

Yes, I will.***' 

Set your hand to a statement of truth and facts, and 
repeat it before witnesses ? 

That I promise too."" 

Remain quietly here, until such a document is drawm 
up, and proceed with me to such a place as I may deem 
most advisable, for the purpose of attesting it ? *” 

If you insist upon that, I’ll do that also,” replied Monks. 

You must do more than that,” said Mr. Brownlow. 
‘‘ Make restitution to an innocent and unoffending child, 
for such he is, although the offspring of a guilty and most 
miserable love. You have not forgotten the provisions of 
the will. Carry them into execution so far as your brother 
is concerned, and then go where you please. In this world 
you need meet no more.” 

While Monks was pacing up and down, meditating with 
dark and evil looks on this proposal and the possibilities of 
evading it : torn by his fears on the one hand and his hatred 
on the other : the door was hurriedly unlocked, and a gentle- 
man (Mr. Losberne) entered the room in violent agitation. 

‘‘ The man will be taken,” he cried. He will be taken 
to-night ! ” 

The murderer ? ” asked Mr. Brownlow. 

^^Yes, yes,” replied the other. His dog has been seen 
lurking about some old haunt, and there seems little doubt 
that his master either is, or will be, there, under cover of 
the darkness. Spies are hovering about in every direction. 
I have spoken to the men who are charged with his capture, 
and they tell me he cannot escape. A reward of a hundred 
pounds is proclaimed by Government to-night.” 

I will give fifty more,” said Mr. Brownlow, and proclaim 
it with my own lips upon the spot, if I can reach it. Where 
is Mr. Maylie?” 

Harry ? As soon as he bad seen your friend here, safe 

2 H 


OLIVER TWIST. 


in a coach with you, he hurried off to where he heard this,’’ 
replied the doctor, ^^and mounting his horse sallied forth to 
join the first party at some place in the outskirts agreed 
upon between them.” 

Fagin,” said Mr. Brownlow ; what of him ? ” 

When I last heard, he had not been taken, but he will 
be, or is, by this time. They’re sure of him.” 

Have you made up your mind ? ” asked Mr. Brownlow, 
in a low voice, of Monks. 

Yes,” he replied. You — ^you — will be secret with me ? ” 

I will. Remain here till I return. It is your only hope 
of safety.” 

They left the room, and the door was again locked. 

What have you done ? ” asked the doctor in a whisper. 

‘^All that I could hope to do, and even more. Coupling 
the poor girl’s intelligence with my previous knowledge, and 
the result of our good friend’s inquiries on the spot, I left 
him no loophole of escape, and laid bare the whole villany 
which by these lights became plain as day. Write and 
appoint the evening after to-morrow, at seven, for the meeting. 
W e shall be down there, a few hours before, but shall require 
rest : especially the young lady, who ma^ have greater need 
of firmness than either you or I can quite foresee just now. 
But my blood boils to awenge this poor murdered creature. 
Which way have they taken ? ” 

Drive straight to the office and you will be in time,” 
replied Mr. Losberne. ^^I will remain here.” 

The two gentlemen hastily separated ; each in a fever of 
excitement wholly uncontrollable. 


CHAPTER L. 


THE PURSUIT AND ESCAPE. 

Near to that part of the Thames on which the church at 
Rotherhithe abuts, where the buildings on the banks are 
dirtiest and the vessels on the river blackest with the dust 
of colliers and the smoke of close-built low-roofed houses, 
there exists the filthiest, the strangest, the most extraordinary 
of the many localities that are hidden in London, wholly 
unknown, even by name, to the great mass of its inhabitants. 

To reach this place, the visitor has to penetrate through 
a maze of close, narrow, and muddy streets, thronged by the 
roughest and poorest of waterside people, and devoted to the 
traffic they may be supposed to occasion. The cheapest and ' 
least delicate provisions are heaped in the shops'; the coarsest 
and commonest articles of wearing apparel dangle at the 
salesman’s door, and stream from the house-parapet and 
windows. Jostling with unemployed labourers of the lowest 
class, ballast-heavers, coal-whippers, brazen ,women, ragged 
children, and the raff and refuse of the river, he makes his 
way with difficulty along, assailed by offensive sights and 
smells from the narrow alleys which branch ofi* on the right 
and left, and deafened by the clash of ponderous waggons 
that bear great piles of merchandise from the stacks of 
warehouses that rise from every corner. Arriving, at length,’ 
in streets remoter and less-frequented than those through 
which he has passed, he walks beneath tottering house-fronts 


468 


OLIVER TWIST. 


projecting over the pavement, dismantled walls that seem 
to totter as he passes, chimneys half crushed half hesitating 
to fall, windows guarded by rusty iron bars that time and 
dirt have almost eaten away, every imaginable sign of desola- 
tion and neglect. 

In such a neighbourhood, beyond Dockhead in the Borough 
of Southwark, stands Jacob’s Island, surrounded by a muddy 
ditch, six or eight feet deep and fifteen or twenty wide when 
the tide is in, once called Mill Pond, but known in the days 
of this story as Folly Ditch. It is a creek or inlet from the 
Thames, and can always be filled at high water by opening 
the sluices at the Lead Mills from which it took its old 
name. At such times, a stranger, looking from one of the 
wooden bridges thrown across it at Mill Lane, will see the 
inhabitants of the houses on either side lowering from their 
back doors and windows, buckets, pails, domestic utensils of 
all kinds, in which to haul the water up ; and when his eye 
is turned from these operations to the houses themselves, his 
utmost astonishment will be excited by the scene before him. 
Crazy wooden galleries common to the backs of half-a-dozen 
houses, with holes from which to look upon the slime beneath ; 
windows, broken and patched, with poles thrust out, on 
which to dry the linen that is never there ; rooms so small, 
so filthy, so confined, that the air would seem too tainted 
even for the dirt and squalor which they shelter ; wooden 
chambers thrusting themselves out above the mud, and 
threatening to fall into it — as some have done ; dirt-besmeared 
walls and decaying foundations ; every repulsive lineament of 
poverty, every loathsome indication of filth, rot, and garbage ; 
all these ornament the banks of Folly Ditch. 

In Jacob’s Island, the warehouses are roofless and empty ; 
the walls are crumbling down ; the windows are windows no 
more ; the doors are falling into the streets ; the chimneys 
are blackened, but they yield no smoke. Thirty or forty 
years ago, before losses and chancery suits came upon it, it 
\vas a thriving plac^ ; but now it is a desolate island indeed. 


JACOB’S ISLAND. 


169 


The houses have no owners ; they are broken open, and 
entered upon by those who have the courage ; and there 
they live, and there they die. They must have powerful 
motives for a secret residence, or be reduced to a destitute 
condition indeed, who seek a refuge in Jacob’s Island. 

In an upper room of one of these houses — a detached 
house of fair size, ruinous in other respects, but strongly 
defended at door and window : of which house the back 
commanded the ditch in manner already described — there 
were assembled three men, who, regarding each other every 
now and then with looks expressive of perplexity and 
expectation, sat for some time in profound and gloomy 
silence. One of these was Toby Crackit, another Mr. Chitling, 
and the third a robber of fifty years, whose nose had been 
almost beaten in, in some old scuffle, and whose face bore a 
frightful scar which might probably be traced to the same 
occasion. This man was a returned transport, and his name 
was Kags. 

I wish,” said Toby turning to Mr. Chitling, that you 
had picked out some other crib when the two old ones got 
too warm, and had not come here, my fine feller.” 

Why didn’t you, blunder-head ! ” said Kags. 

Well, I thought you’d have been a little more glad to 
see me than this,” replied Mr. Chitling, with a melancholy air. 

Why look’e, young gentleman,” said Toby, when a 
man keeps himself so very ex-clusive as I have done, and by 
that means has a snug house over his head with nobody a 
prying and smelling about it, it’s rather a startling thing to 
have the honour of a wisit from a young gentleman (however 
respectable and pleasant a person he may be to play cards 
with at conweniency) circumstanced as you are.” 

Especially, when the exclusive young man has got a 
friend stopping with him, that’s arrived sooner than was 
expected from foreign parts, and is too modest to want to 
be presented to the Judges on his return,” added Mr. Kags. 

There was a short silence, after which Toby Crackit, seeming 


OLIVER TWIST. 


470 

to abandon as hopeless any further effort to maintain his 
usual devil-may-care swagger, turned to Chitling and said, 

When was Fagin took then ? 

Just at dinner-time — two oVlock this afternoon. Charley 
and I made our lucky up the waslVus chimney, and Bolter 
got into the empty water-butt, head downwards ; but his 
legs v/ere so precious long that they stuck out at the top, 
and so they took him too.*” 

And Bet ? 

Poor Bet ! She went to see the Body, to speak to who 
it was,’’’ replied Chitling, his countenance falling more and 
more, “ and went off mad, screaming and raving, and beating 
her head against the boards ; so they put a strait-weskut 
on her and took her to the hospital — and there she is.’’ 

Wot’s come of young Bates?” demanded Kags. 

He hung about, not to come over here afore dark, but 
he’ll be here soon,” replied Chitling. There’s nowhere else 
to go to now, for the people at the Cripples are all in custody, 
and the bar of the ken — I went up there and see it with 
my own eyes — is filled with traps.” 

This is a smash,” observed Toby biting his lips. 
There’s more than one will go with this.” 

The sessions are on,” said Kags : if they get the inquest 
over, and Bolter turns King’s evidence : as of course he will, 
from what he’s said already : they can prove Fagin an 
accessory before the fact, and get the trial on on Friday, 
and he^ll swing in six days from this, by G — ! ” 

You should have heard the people groan,” said Chitling ; 
the officers fought like devils, or they’d have torn him 
away. He was down once, but they made a ring round him, 
and fought their way along. You should have seen how he 
looked about him, all muddy and bleeding, and clung to 
them as if they were his dearest friends. I can see ’em now, 
not able to stand upright with the pressing of the mob, and 
dragging him along amongst ’em ; I can see the peoj^le 
jumping up, one behind another, and snarling with their 


SIKES’S DOG CREATES A MYSTERY. 


471 


teeth and making at him ; I can see the blood upon his 
hair and beard, and hear the cries with which the women 
worked themselves into the centre of the crowd at the street 
corner, and swore they’d tear his heart out ! ” 

The horror-stricken witness of this scene pressed his hands 
upon his ears, and with his eyes closed got up and paced 
violently to and fro, like one distracted. 

While he was thus engaged, and the two men sat by in 
silence with their eyes fixed upon the floor, a pattering noise 
was heard upon the stairs, and Sikes’s dog bounded into 
the room. They ran to the window, down stairs, and into 
the street. The dog had jumped in at an open window ; 
he made no attempt to follow them, nor was his master to 
be seen. 

What’s the meaning of this ? ” said Toby when they had 
returned. He can’t be coming here. I — I — hope not.” 

If he v/as coming here, he’d have come with the dog,” 
said Kags, stooping dov/n to examine the animal, who lay 
panting on the floor. Here ! Give us some water for him ; 
he has run himself faint.” 

“ He’s drunk it all up, every drop,” said Chitling after 
watchinjQ^ the doo; some time in silence. Covered with mud 
— lame — half-blind — he must have come a long way.” 

Where can he have come from ! ” exclaimed Toby. He’s 
been to the other kens of course, and finding them filled with 
strangers come on here, where he’s been many a time and 
often. But where can he have come from first, and how 
comes he here alone without the other ! ” 

He ” — (none of them called the murderer by his old 
name) — He can’t have made aw^ay with himself. What 
do you think ? ” said Chitling. 

Toby shook his head. 

“ If he had,” said Kags, “ the dog ’ud want to lead us 
away to where he did it. No. I think he’s got out of the 
country, and left the dog behind. He must have given him 
the slip somehow, or he wouldn’t be so easy.” 


472 


OLIVER TWIST. 


This solution, appearing the most probable one, was 
adopted as the right ; the dog, creeping under a chair, coiled 
himself up to sleep, without more notice from anybody. 

It being now dark, the shutter was closed, and a candle 
lighted and placed upon the table. The terrible events of 
the last two days had made a deep impression on all three, 
increased by the danger and uncertainty of their own position. 
They drew their chairs closer together, starting at every 
sound. They spoke little, and that in whispers, and were 
as silent and awe-stricken as if the remains of the murdered 
woman lay in the next room. 

They had sat thus, some time, when suddenly was heard a 
hurried knocking at the door below. 

“Young Bates,*” said Kags, looking angrily round, to check 
the fear he felt himself. 

The knocking came again. No, it wasn‘’t he. He never 
knocked like that. 

Crackit went to the window, and shaking all over, drew in 
his head. There was no need to tell them who it was ; his 
pale face was enough. The dog too was on the alert in an 
instant, and ran whining to the door. 

“.We must let him in,*” he said, taking up the candle. 

“ Isn’t there any help for it ? ” asked the other man in a 
hoarse voice. 

“None. He must come in.” 

“Don’t leave us in the dark,” said Kags, taking down a 
candle from the chimney-piece, and lighting it, with such a 
trembling hand that the knocking was twice repeated before 
he had finished. 

Crackit went down to the door, and returned followed by 
a man with the lower part of his face buried in a handker- 
chief, and another tied over his head under his hat. He 
drew them slowly oft* Blanched face, sunken eyes, hollow 
cheeks, beard of three days’ growth, wasted flesh, short thick 
breath ; it was the very ghost of Sikes. 

He laid his hand upon a chair which stood in the middle 


THE RED FOOT APPEARS. 


473 


of the room, but shuddering as he was about to drop into 
it, and seeming to glance over his shoulder, dragged it back 
close to the wall — as close as it would go — ground it against 
it — and sat down. 

Not a word had been exchanged. He looked from one to 
another in silence. If an eye were furtively raised and met 
his, it was instantly averted. When his hollow voice broke 
silence, they all three started. They seemed never to have 
heard its tones before. 

Flow came that dog here ? he asked. 

Alone. Three hours ago.**’ 

To-nighPs paper says that Fagin’s took. Is it true, or 
a lie.?^’ 

« True.’^ 

They were silent again. 

Damn you all ! ’’ said Sikes, passing his hand across his 
forehead. Have you nothing to say to me ? ’’ 

There was an uneasy movement among them, but nobody 
spoke. 

You that keep this house,*’’ said Sikes, turning his face 
to Crackit, do you mean to sell me, or to let me lie here 
till this hunt is over ? ” 

You may stop here, if you think it safe,” returned the 
person addressed, after some hesitation. 

Sikes carried his eyes slowly up the wall behind him : rather 
trying to turn his head than actually doing it : and said, Is 
— it — the body— is it buried ? ” 

They shook their heads. 

Why isn’t it ! ” he retorted with the same glance behind 
him. Wot do they keep such ugly things above the ground 
for ? — Who’s that knocking ? ” 

Crackit intimated, by a motion of his hand as he left the 
room, that there was nothing to fear ; and directly came back 
with Charley Bates behind him. Sikes sat opposite the door, 
so that the moment the boy entered the room he encountered 
his figure. 


474 


OLIVER TWIST. 


‘‘Toby,'’ said the boy falling back, as Sikes turned his 
eyes towards him, “ why didn’t you tell me this, down 
stairs ? ” 

There had been something so tremendous in the shrinking 
off of the three, that the wretched man was willing to 
propitiate even this lad. Accordingly he nodded, and made 
as though he would shake hands with him. 

“ Let me go into some other room,” said the boy, retreating 
still farther. 

“ Charley ! ” said Sikes, stepping forward. “ Don’t you — 
don’t you know me ? ” 

“ Don’t come nearer me,” answered the boy, still retreating, 
and looking, with horror in his eyes, upon the murderer’s 
face. “ You monster ! ” 

The man stopped half-way, and they looked at each other; 
but Sikes’s eyes sunk gradually to the ground. 

“ Witness j^ou three,” cried the boy shaking his clenched 
list, and becoming more and more excited as he spoke. 
“Witness you three — Fm not afraid of *him — if they come 
here after him, I’ll give him up; I will. I tell you out at 
once. He may kill me for it if he likes, or if he dares, but 
if I am here I’ll give him up. I’d give him up if he was to 
be boiled alive. Murder! Flelp ! If there’s ,the pluck of a 
man among you three, you’ll help me. Murder ! Help ! 
Down with him ! ” 

Pouring out these cries, and accompanying them with 
violent gesticulation, the boy actually threw himself, single- 
handed, upon the strong man, and in the intensity of his 
energy and the suddenness of his surprise, brought him heavily 
to the ground. 

The three spectators seemed quite stupefied. They offered 
no interference, and the boy and man rolled on the ground 
together; the former, heedless of the blows that showered 
upon him, wrenching his hands tighter and tighter in the 
garments about the murderer’s breast, and never ceasing to 
call for help with all his might. 


1 ^ A FURIOUS CROWD. 475 

The contest, lioweve^ was too unequal to last long. Sikes 
had him down, and his knee was on his throat, when Crackit 
pulled him back with a look of alarm, and pointed to the 
window. There were lights gleaming below, voices in loud 
and earnest conversation, the tramp of hurried footsteps — 
endless they seemed in number — crossing the nearest wooden 
bridge. One man on horseback seemed to be among the 
crowd ; for there was the noise of hoofs rattling on the 
uneven pavement. The gleam of lights increased; the foot- 
steps came more thickly and noisily on. Then, came a loud 
knocking at the door, and then a hoarse murmur from 
such a multitude of angry voices as would have made the 
boldest quail. 

Help ! ’’ shrieked the boy in a voice that rent the air. 

He’s here ! Break down the door ! ” 

‘^In the King’s name,” cried the voices without; and the 
hoarse cry arose again, but louder. 

“Break down the door!” screamed the boy. “I tell you 
they’ll never open it. Run straight to the room where the 
light is. Break down the door!” 

Strokes, thick and heavy, rattled upon the door and lower 
window-shutters as he ceased to speak, and a loud huzzah 
burst from the crowd ; giving the listener, for the first time, 
some adequate idea of its immense extent. 

“ Open the door of some place where I can lock this screech- 
ing Hell-babe,” cried Sikes fiercely; running to and fro, and 
dragging the boy, now, as easily as if he were an empty sack. 
“ That door. Quick ! ” He flung him in, bolted it, and 
turned the key. “Is the down-stairs door fast.^” 

“ Double-locked and chained,” replied Crackit, who, with the 
other two men, still remained quite helpless and bewildered. 

“The panels — are they strong?” 

“Lined with sheet-iron.” 

“ And the windows too ? ” 

“Yes, and the windows.” 

“ Damn you ! ” cried the desperate ruffian, throwng up the 


OLIVER TWIST. 


/6 

sash and menacdng the crowd. Do your worst ^ ;at 

you yet ! 

Of all the terrific yells that ever fell on mort .one 

could exceed the cry of the infuriated throng. ' uted 

to those who were nearest to set the house l. thers 


roared to the officers to shoot him dead. Among tu m all, 
none showed such fury as the man on horseback, who, throwing 
himself out of the saddle, and bursting through the crowd 
as if he were parting water, cried, beneath the window^, in a 
voice that rose above all others, ‘^Tw^enty guineas to the 
man who brings a ladder ! 

The nearest voices took up the cry, and hundreds echoed 
it. Some called for ladders, some for sledge-hammers ; some 
ran wdth torches to and fro as if to seek them, and still 
came back and roared again ; some spent their breath in 
impotent curses and execrations ; some pressed forward with 
the ecstasy of madmen, and thus impeded the progress of 
those below; some among the boldest attempted to climb 
up by the water-spout and crevices in the wall ; and all 
waved to and fro, in the darkness beneath, like a field of 
corn moved by an angry wind : and joined from time to 
time in one loud furious roar. 

‘‘The tide,"’ cried the murderer, as he staggered back into 
the room, and shut the faces out, “ the tide was in as I came 
up. Give me a rope, a long rope. They’re all in front. I 
may drop into the Folly Ditch, and clear off that way. 
Give me a rope, or I shall do three more murders and kill 
myself.” 

The panic-stricken men pointed to where such articles 
were kept; the murderer, hastily selecting the longest and 
strongest cord, hurried up to the house-top. 

All the windows in the rear of the house had been long 
ago bricked up, except one small trap in the room where 
the boy w^as locked, and that was too small even for the 
passage of his body. But, from this aperture, he had never 
ceased to call on those wdthout, to guard the back ; and 


THE WILD BEAST HEMMED IN. 


477 


thus, when the murderer emerged at last on the house-top 
by the door in the roof, a loud shout proclaimed the fact to 
those in front, who immediately began to pour round, pressing 
upon each other in an unbroken stream. 

He planted a board, which he had carried up with him for 
the purpose, so firmly against the door that it must be matter 
of great difficulty to open it from the inside ; and creeping 
over the tiles, looked over the low parapet. 

The water was out, and the ditch a bed of mud. 

The crowd had been hushed during these few moments, 
watching his motions and doubtful of his purpose, but the 
instant they perceived it and knew it was defeated, they 
raised a cry of triumphant execration to which all their 
previous shouting had been whispers. Again and again it 
rose. Those who were at too great a distance to know its 
meaning, took up the sound ; it echoed and re-echoed ; it 
seemed as though the whole city had poured its population 
out to curse him. 

On pressed the people from the front — on, on, on, in a 
strong struggling current of angry faces, with here and there 
a glaring torch to light them up, and show them out in all 
their wrath and passion. The houses on the opposite side 
of the ditch had been entered by the mob ; sashes were thrown 
up, or torn bodily out ; there were tiers and tiers of faces in 
every window; cluster upon cluster of people clinging to 
every house-top. Each little bridge (and there were three in 
sight) bent beneath the weight of the crowd upon it. Still 
the current poured on to find some nook or hole from which 
to vent their shouts, and only for an instant see the wretch. 

^^They have him now,**** cried a man on the nearest bridge. 
46 Hurrah ! 

The crowd grew light with uncovered heads ; and again 
the shout uprose. 

‘^I will give fifty pounds,"*" cried an old gentleman from 
the same quarter, to the man who takes him alive, I will 
remain here, till he comes to ask me for it,"" 


478 


OLIVER TWIST. 


There was another roar. At this moment the word was 
passed among the crowd that the door was forced at last, and 
that he who had first called for the ladder had mounted into- 
the room. The stream abruptly turned, as this intelligence 
ran from mouth to mouth; and the people at the windows, 
seeing those upon the bridges pouring back, quitted their 
stations, and running into the street, joined the concourse 
that now thronged pell-mell to the spot they had left : each 
man crushing and striving with his neighbour, and all panting 
with impatience to get near the door, and look upon the 
criminal as the officers brought him out. The cries and 
shrieks of those who were pressed almost to suffocation, or 
trampled down and trodden under foot in the confusion, 
were dreadful ; the nan'ow ways were completely blocked up ; 
and at this time, between the rush of some to regain the 
space in front of the house, and the unavailing struggles of 
others to extricate themselves from the mass, the immediate 
attention was distracted from the murderer, although the 
universal eagerness for his capture was, if possible, increased. 

The man had shrunk down, thoroughly quelled by the 
ferocity of the crowd, and the impossibility of escape; but 
seeing this sudden change with no less rapidity than it had 
occurred, he sprang upon his feet, determined to make one 
last effort for his life by dropping into the ditch, and, at 
the risk of being stifled, endeavouring to creep away in the 
darkness and confusion. 

Roused into new strength and energy, and stimulated by 
the noise within the house which announced that an entrance 
had really been effected, he set his foot against the stack of 
chimneys, fastened one end of the rope tightly and firmly 
round it, and with the other made a strong running noose by 
the aid of his hands and teeth almost in a second. He could 
let himself down by the cord to within a less distance of the 
ground than his own height, and had his knife ready in his 
hand to cut it then and drop. 

At the very instant when he brought the loop His 









'■ i,' 



THE WILD BEAST LAID LOW. 


479 


head previous to slipping it beneath his arm-pits, and when 
the old gentleman before-mentioned (who had clung so tight 
to the railing of the bridge as to resist the force of the crowd, 
and retain his position) earnestly warned those about him 
that the man was about to lower himself down — at that 
very instant the murderer, looking behind him on the roof, 
threw his arms above his head, and uttered a yell of terror. 

The eyes again ! ” he cried in an unearthly screech. 

Staggering as if struck by lightning, he lost his balance 
and tumbled over the parapet. The noose w^as on his neck. 
It ran up with his weight, tight as a bow-string, and sw-ift as 
the arrow it speeds. He fell for five-and-thirty feet. There 
was a sudden jerk, a terrific convulsion of the limbs; and 
there he hung, with the open knife clenched in his stiffening 
hand. 

The old chimney quivered with the shock, but stood it 
bravely. The murderer swung lifeless against the wall ; and 
the boy, thrusting aside the dangling body which obscured 
his view^, called to the people to come and take him out, for 
God’s sake. 

A dog, which had lain concealed till now', ran backwards 
and forwards on the parapet w-ith a dismal howl, and collecting 
himself for a spring, jumped for the dead man^s shoulders. 
Missing his aim, he fell into the ditch, turning completely 
over as he w-ent; and striking his head against a stone, 
dashed out his brains. 


CHAPTER LL 


AFFORDING AN EXPLANATION OF MORE MYSTERIES THAN ONE, 
AND COMPREHENDING A PROPOSAL OF MARRIAGE WITH NO 
WORD OF SETTLEMENT OR PIN-MONEY.- 

The events narrated in the last chapter were yet but two 
days old, when Oliver found himself, at three o'clock in the 
afternoon, in a travelling-carriage rolling fast towards his 
native town. Mrs. Maylie, and Rose, and Mrs. Bedwin, and 
the good doctor, were with him : and Mr. Brownlow followed 
in a post-chaise, accompanied by one other person whose 
name had not been mentioned. 

They had not talked much upon the way ; for Oliver was 
in a flutter of agitation and uncertainty which deprived him 
of the power of collecting his thoughts, and almost of speech, 
and appeared to have scarcely less eft*ect on his companions, 
who shared it, in at least an equal degree. He and the two 
ladies had been very carefully made acquainted by Mi% 
Brownlow with the nature of the admissions which had been 
forced from Monks ; and although they knew that the object 
of their present journey was to complete the work which 
had been so well begun, still the whole matter was enveloped 
in enough of doubt and mystery to leave them in endurance 
of the most intense suspense. 

The same kind friend had, with Mr. Losberne's assistance, 
cautiously stopped all channels of communication through 
which they could receive intelligence of the dreadful occur- 
rences that had so recently taken place. It was quite true/’ 


OLIVER REVISITS HIS BIRTH-PLACE. 


481 


c Si lid, ^Hhat they must know them before long, but it 
igh t be at a better time than the present, and it could not 
at a worse.*” So, they travelled on in silence : each busied 
th retlections on the object which had brought them 
cv^gether: and no one disposed to give utterance to the 
thoughts which crowded upon all. 

Bub if Oliver, under these influences, had remained silent 
while they journeyed towards his birth-place by a road he 
had never seen, how the whole current of his recollections 
ran back to old times, and what a crowd of emotions were 
wakened up in his breast, when they turned into that which 
he had traversed on foot : a poor houseless, wandering boy, 
without a friend to help him, or a roof to shelter his head. 

See there, there ! ’’ cried Oliver, eagerly clasping the hand 
of Rose, and pointing out at the carriage window ; that’s 
the stile I came over; there are the hedges I crept behind, 
for fear any one should overtake me and force me back ! 
Yonder is the path across the fields, leading to the old house 
where I was a little child ! Oh Dick, Dick, my dear old 
friend, if I could only see you now ! ’’ 

‘^You will see him soon,” replied Rose, gently taking his 
folded hands between her own. ‘‘You shall tell him how 
happy you are, and how rich you have grown, and that in 
all your happiness you have none so great as the coming 
back to make him happy too.” 

“Yes, yes,” said Oliver, “and we’ll — we’ll take him away 
from here, and have him clothed and taught, and send him 
to some quiet country place where he may ptow strong and 
well,— shall we.?” 

Rose nodded “yes,” for the boy was smiling through such 
happy tears that she could not speak. 

“You will be kind and good to him, for you are to every 
one,” said Oliver. “ It will make you cry, I know, to hear 
what he can tell ; but never mind, never mind, it will be all 
over, and you will smile again — I know that too — to think 
how changed he is; you did the same with me. He said 

8 I 


OLIVER TWIST. 


48 ^ 

^ God bless you ' to me when I ran away 5'’ cried the boy with 
a burst of affectionate emotion ; and I will say ‘ God 'bless 
you'* now, and show him how I love him for it ! *” 

As they approached the town, and at length drove thi ough 
its narrow streets, it became matter of no small diflicmlty 
to restrain the boy within reasonable bounds. There was 
Sowerberry‘’s the undertaker'^s just as it used to be, only 
smaller and less imposing in appearance than he remembered 
it — there were all the well-known shops and houses, with 
almost every one of which he had some slight incident 
connected — there was Gamfiekfs cart, the very cart he used 
to have, standing at the old public-house door — there was 
the workhouse, the dreary prison of his youthful days, with 
its dismal windows frowning on the street — there was the 
same lean porter standing at the gate, at sight of whom 
Oliver involuntarily shrunk back, and then laughed at himself 
for being so foolish, then cried, then laughed again — there 
were scores of faces at the doors and windows that he knew 
quite well— there was nearly everything as if he had left it 
but yesterday, and all his recent life had been but a happy 
dream. 

But it was pure, earnest, joyful reality. They drove 
straight to the door of the chief hotel (which Oliver used to 
stare up at, with awe, and think a mighty palace, but which 
had somehow fallen oft* in grandeur and size) ; and hesre was 
Mr. Grim wig all ready to receive them, kissing the young 
lady, and the old one too, when they got out of the coach, 
as if he were the grandfather of the whole party, all smiles 
and kindness, and not offering to eat his head — no, not once ; 
not even when he contradicted a very old postboy about the 
nearest road to London, and maintained he knew it best, 
though he had only come that way once, and that time fast 
asleep. . There was dinner prepared, and there were bed-rooms 
ready, amd everything was arranged as if by magic. 

Notwithstanding all this, when the huny of the first half- 
hour was over, the same silence and constraint prevailed that 


483 


RELUCTANT ADMISSION^. 

had marked their journey down. Mr. Brownlow did not join 
them at iinner, but remained in a separate room. The two 
other gentlemen hurried in and out with anxious faces, and, 
during the short intervals when they were present, conversed 
apart. Once, Mrs. Maylie was called aAvay, and after being 
absent for nearly an hour, returned with eyes swollen with 
weeping. All these things made Rose and Oliver, who were 
not in any new secrets, nervous and uncomfortable. They 
sat wondering, in silence ; or, if they exchanged a few words, 
spoke in whispers, as if they were afraid to hear the sound 
of their own voices. 

At length, when nine o'’clock had come, and they began 
to think they were to hear no more that night, Mr. Losberne 
and Mr. Grim wig entered the room, followed by Mr. Brown- 
low and a man whom Oliver almost shrieked with surprise 
to see ; for they told him it was his brother, and it was the 
same man he had met at the market-town, and seen looking 
in with Fagin at the window of his little room. Monks 
cast a look of hate, which, even then, he could not dissemble, 
at the astonished boy, and sat down near the door. Mr. 
Brownlow, who had papers in his hand, walked to a table 
near which Rose and Oliver were seated. 

‘^This is a painful task,’’ said he, “but these declarations, 
which have been signed in London before many gentlemen, 
must be in substance repeated here. I would have spared 
you the degradation, but we must hear them from your own 
lips before we part, and you know why.” 

“ Go on,” said the person addressed, turning away his face. 
“ Quick. I have almost done enough, I think. Don’t keep 
me here.” 

“This child,” said Mr. Brownlow, drawing Oliver to him, 
and laying his hand upon his head, “ is your half-brother ; the 
illegitimate son of your father, my dear friend Edwin Leeford, 
by poor young Agnes Fleming, who died in giving him 
birth.” 

“Yes,” said Monks, scowling at the trembling boy: the 


484 


OLIVER T 


beating of whose heart he might havj heard. ‘‘That is 
their bastard child.*’’ 

“The term you use,” said Mr. Brownlow, sternly, “is a 
reproach to those who long since passed beyond the feeble 
censure of the world. It reflects disgrace on no one living, 
except you who use it. Let that pass. He was born in 
this town.” 

“In the workhouse of this town,” was the sullen reply. 
“ You have the story there,” He pointed impatiently to 
the papers as he spoke. 

“I must have it here, too,” said Mr. Brownlow, looking 
round upon the listeners. 

“Listen then! You!” returned Monks. “His father 
being taken ill at Rome, was joined by his wife, my mother, 
from whom he had been long separated, who went from Paris 
and took me with her — to look after his property, for what 
I know, for she had no great affection for him, nor he for 
her. He knew nothing of us, for his senses were gone, and 
he slumbered on till next day, when he died. Among the 
papers in his desk, were two, dated on the night his illness 
first came on, directed to yourself ; ” he addressed himself to 
Mr. Brownlow; “and enclosed in a few short lines to you, 
with an intimation on the cover of the package that it was 
not to be forwarded till after he was dead. One of these 
papers was a letter to this girl Agnes ; the other a will.” 

“What of the letter?” asked Mr. Brownlow. 

“ The letter ? — A sheet of paj^er crossed and crossed again, 
with a penitent confession, and prayers to God to help her. 
He had palmed a tale on the girl that some secret mystery 
— to be explained one day — prevented his marrying her just 
then ; and so she had gone on, trusting patiently to him, 
until she trusted too far, and lost what none could ever give 
her back. She was, at that time, a few months of 

her confinement. He told her all meant to do, to 

hide her shame, if he had lived, an her, if he died, 

not to curse his memory, or think quences of their 


PROVISIONS OP A WILL. 


sin would be visited on her or their young child ; for all t 
guilt was his. He reminded her of the day he had given 
her the little locket and the ring with her Christian name 
engraved upon it, and a blank left for that which he hoped 
one day to have bestowed upon her — prayed her yet to keep 
it, and wear it next her heart, as she had done before — and 
then ran on, wildly, in the same words, over and over again, 
as if he had gone distracted. I believe he had.*” 

The will,"’ said Mr. Brownlow, as Oliver s tears fell fast. 

Monks was silent. 

The will,” said Mr. Brownlow, speaking for him, was 
in the same spirit as the letter. He tMked of miseries which 
his wife had brought upon him ; of the rebellious disposition, 
vice, malice, and premature bad passions of you his only son, 
who had been trained to hate him; and left you, and your 
mother, each an annuity of eight hundred pounds. The 
bulk of his property he divided into two equal portions — one 
for Agnes Fleming, and the other for their child, if it should 
be born alive, and ever come of age. If it were a girl, it 
was to inherit the money unconditionally ; but if a boy, only 
on the stipulation that in his minority he should never have 
stained his name with any public act of dishonour, meanness, 
cowardice, or wrong. He did this, he said, to mark his con- 
fidence in the mother, and his conviction — only strengthened 
by approaching death — that the child would share her gentle 
heart, and noble nature. If he were disappointed in this 
expectation, then the money was to come to you : for then, 
and not till then, when both children were equal, would he 
recognise your prior claim upon his purse, who had none 
upon” his heart, but had, from an infant, repulsed him with 
coldness and aversion.” 

My mother,” said Monks, in a louder tone, did what a 
woman should have done. She burnt this will. The letter 
never reached its destination ; but that, and other proofs, 
she kept, in case they ever tried to lie away the blot. The 
girl’s father had the truth from her with every aggravation 


OLIVER TWIS" 


tv — could add. 
,h his children 
^ery name that 
and here, no 
his bed. The 
before ; he had 
village near; it 
^sured that she 
id his, that his 

Brownlow took 

Edward Leeford’s 
n only eighteen ; 


iier violent hate — love her fi 
xded by shame and dishonour he 
ito a remote corner of Wales, chanj 
his friends might never know of his 
great while afterwards, he was founc 
girl had left her home, in secret, son 
searched for her, on foot, in every t 
was on the night when he returned 
had destroyed herself, to hide her 
old heart broke.*'’ 

There was a short silence here, ^ 
up the thread of the narrative. 

Years after this,” he said, “ this 
—mother came to me. He had left 
robbed her of jewels and money ; gambled, squandered, forged, 
and fled to London : where for two years he had associated 
with the lowest outcasts. She was sinking under a painful 
and incurable disease, and wished to recover him before she 
died. Inquiries were set on foot, and strict searches made. 
They were unavailing for a long time, but ultimately success- 
ful ; and he went back with her to France.” 

There she died,” said Monks, after a lingering illness ; 
and, on her death-bed, she bequeathed these secrets to me, 
together with her unquenchable and deadly hatred of all 
whom they involved — though she need not have left me 
that, for I had inherited it long before. She would not 
believe that the girl had destroyed herself, and the child 
too, but was filled with the impression that a male child had 
been born, and was alive. I swore to her, if ever it crossed 
my path, to hunt it down ; never to let it rest ; to pursue 
it with the bitterest and most unrelenting ‘^^imosity; to 


vent upon it the hatred that I deeply felt, 
the empty vaunt of that insulting will by 
could, to the very gallows-foot. She was 
in my way at last. I began well , and 
drabs, I would have finished as I began 1 ” 


at upon 

it, if I 

He came 
babbling 


487 


ENTHUSIASM OF MR. BUMBLE. 

As the villain folded his arms tight together, and muttered 
curses on himself in the impotence of baffled malice, Mr. 
Brownlow turned to the terrified group beside him, and 
explained that the Jew, who had been his old accomplice and 
confidant, had a large reward for keeping Oliver ensnared : 
of which some part was to be given up, in the event of his 
being rescued : and that a dispute on this head had led to 
their visit to the country house for the purpose of identifying 
him. 

^^The locket and ring?*” said Mr. Brownlow,’ turning to 
Monks. 

“I bought them from the man and woman I told you of, 
who stole them from the nurse, who stole them from the 
corpse,*” answered Monks without raising his eyes. ‘^You 
know what became of them."*’ 

Mr. Brownlow merely nodded to Mr. Grimwig, who dis- 
appearing with great alacrity, shortly returned, pushing in 
Mrs. Bumble, and dragging her unwilling consort after him, 

“ Do my hi’s deceive me ! *’*' cried Mr. Bumble, with ill- 
feigned enthusiasm, or is that little Oliver ? Oh 0-li*ver, 
if you know’^d how Fve been a-grieving for you — *” 

Hold your tongue, fool,*” murmured Mrs. Bumble. 

^^Isn'^t natur, natur, Mrs. Bumble?*” remonstrated the 
workhouse master. ^‘Can*’t I be supposed to feel — I as 
brought him up porochially — when I see him a-setting here 
among ladies and gentlemen of the very aflablest description ! 
I always loved that boy as if he'^d been my — my — my own 
grandfather,*’*' said Mr. Bumble, halting for an appropriate 
comparison. ‘^Master Oliver, my dear, you remember the 
blessed gentleman in the white waistcoat ? Ah ! he went to 
heaven last week, in a oak coffin with plated handles, Oliver.^*' 

‘‘Come, sir,*’*’ said Mr. Crrimwig, tartly; “suppress your 
feelings.*’*’ 

“ I will do my endeavours, sir,*’*’ replied Mr, Bumble. 
“ How do you do, sir ? I hope you are very well.*” 

This salutation was addressed to Mr. Brownlow, who had 


488 


OLIVER TWIST. 


stepped up to within a short distance of the respectable 
couple. He inquired, as he pointed to Monks, 

Do you know that person ? 

‘‘No,"’ replied Mrs. Bumble flatly. 

“ Perhaps you don’t ” said Mr. Brownlow, addressing her 
spouse. 

“I never saw him in all my life,” said Mr. Bumble. 

“ Nor sold him anything, perhaps ” 

“No,” replied Mrs. Bumble. 

“You never had, perhaps, a certain gold locket and ring?” 
said Mr. Brownlow. 

“ Certainly not,” replied the matron. “ Why are we 
brought here to answer to such nonsense as this ? ” 

Again Mr. Brownlow nodded to Mr. Grimwig; and again 
that gentleman limped away with extraordinary readiness. 
But not again did he return with a stout man and wife ; for 
this time, he led in two palsied women, who shook and 
tottered as they walked. 

“You shut the door the night old Sally died,” said the 
foremost one, raising her shrivelled hand, “ but you couldn’t 
shut out the sound, nor stop the chinks.” 

“No, no,” said the other, looking round her and wagging 
her toothless jaws. “No, no, no.” 

“We heard her try to tell you what she’d done, and saw 
you take a paper from her hand, and watched you too, next 
day, to the pawnbroker’s shop,” said the first. 

“ Yes,” added the second, “ and it was a ‘ locket and gold 
ring.’ We found out that, and saw it given you. We were 
by. Oh ! we were by.” 

“And we know more than that,” resumed the first, “for 
she told us often, long ago, that the young mother had told 
her that, feeling she should never get over it, she was on 
her way, at the time that she was taken ill, to die near the 
grave of the father of the child.” 

“Would you like to see the pawnbroker himself?” asked 
Mr. Grimwig with a motion towards the door. 


MR. AND MRS. BUMBLE FOILED. 


489 


No,’’ replied the woman ; if he — she pointed to Monks 
— ‘^has been coward enough to confess, as I see he has, and 
you have sounded all these hags till you have found the 
right ones, I have nothing more to say. I did sell them, 
and they're where you'll never get them. What then ? " 

Nothing," replied Mr. Brownlow, except that it remains 
for us to take care that neither of you is employed in a 
situation of trust again. You may leave the room." 

I hope," said Mr. Bumble, looking about him with great 
ruefulness, as Mr. Grimwig disappeared with the two old 
women : I hope that this unfortunate little circumstance 

will not deprive me of my porochial office ? " 

Indeed it will," replied Mr. Brownlow. You may make 
up your mind to that, and think yourself well off* besides." 

It was all Mrs. Bumble. She would do it," urged Mr. 
Bumble ; first looking round to ascertain that his partner 
had left the room. 

‘‘That is no excuse," replied Mr. Brownlow. “You were 
present on the occasion of the destruction of these trinkets, 
and indeed are the more guilty of the two, in the eye of 
the law ; for the law supposes that your wife acts under your 
direction." 

“If the law supposes that," said Mr. Bumble, squeezing 
his hat emphatically in both hands, “the law is a ass — a 
idiot. If that's the eye of the law, the law is a bachelor; 
and the worst I wish the law is, that his eye may be opened 
by experience — by experience." 

Laying great stress on the repetition of these two words, 
Mr. Bumble fixed his hat on very tight, and putting his 
hands in his pockets, followed his helpmate down stairs. 

“Young lady," said Mr. Brownlow, turning to Rose, “give 
me your hand. Do not tremble. You need not fear to hear 
the few remaining words we have to say." 

“ If they have — I do not know how they can, but if they 
have — any reference to me," said Rose, “pray let me hear 
them at some other time. I have not strength or spirits now." 


490 


OLIVER TWIST. 


Nay,’’ returned the old gentleman, drawing her arm 
through his ; you have more fortitude than this, I am sure. 
Do you know this young lady, sir.'^ ” 

“Yes,” replied Monks. 

“ I never saw you before,” said Rose faintly. 

“ I have seen you often,” returned Monks. 

“The father of the unhappy Agnes had two daughters,” 
said Mr. Brownlow. “What was the fate of the other — the 
child?” 

“ The child,” replied Monks, “ when her father died in a 
strange place, in a strange name, without a letter, book, or 
scrap of paper that yielded the faintest clue by which his 
friends or relatives could be traced — the child was taken by 
some wretched cottagers, who reared it as their own.” 

“ Go on,” said Mr. Brownlow, signing to Mrs. Maylie to 
approach. “ Go on ! ” 

“You couldn’t find the spot to which these people had 
repaired,” said Monks, “but where friendship fails, hatred 
will often force a way. My mother found it, after a year of 
cunning search — ay, and found the child.” 

“ She took it, did she ? ” 

“ No. The people were poor and began to sicken — at 
least the man did — of their fine humanity; so she left it 
with them, giving them a small present of money which 
would not last long, and promised more, which she never 
meant to send. She didn’t quite rely, however, on their 
discontent and poverty for the child’s unhappiness, but told 
the history of the sister’s shame, with such alterations as 
suited her; bade them take good heed of the child, for she 
came of bad blood; and told them she was illegitimate, and 
sure to go wrong at one time or other. The circumstances 
countenanced all this; the people believed it; and there the 
child dragged on an existence, miserable enough even to 
satisfy us, until a widow lady, residing, then, at Chester, saw 
the girl by chance, pitied her, and took her home. There 
was some cursed spell, I think, against us; for in spite of 


OLIVER FINDS A NEW RELATION. 


491 


all our efforts she remained there and was happy. I lost 
sight of her, two or three years ago, and saw her no more 
until a few months back.^*' 

^^Do you see her now?’’ 

“ Yes. Leaning on your arm.” 

‘‘But not the less my niece,” cried Mrs. ]\Iaylie, folding 
the fainting girl in her arms ; “ not the less my dearest child. 
I would not lose her now, for all the treasures of the world. 
My sweet companion, my own dear girl ! ” 

“The only friend I ever had,” cried Rose, clinging to her. 
“ The kindest, best of friends. My heart will burst. I cannot 
bear all this.” 

“You have borne more, and have been, through all, the 
best and gentlest creature that ever shed happiness on every 
one she knew,” said Mrs. Maylie, embracing her tenderly. 
“Come, come, my love, remember who this is who waits to 
clasp you in his arms, poor child ! See here — look, look, my 
dear ! ” 

“Not aunt,” cried Oliver, throwing his arms about her 
neck; “I’ll never call her aunt — sister, my own dear sister, 
that something taught my heart to love so dearly from the 
first ! Rose, dear, darling Rose ! ” 

Let the tears which fell, and the broken words which were 
exchanged in the long close embrace between the orphans, be 
sacred. A father, sister, and mother, were gained, and lost, 
in that one moment. Joy and grief were mingled in the cup; 
but there were no bitter tears : for even grief itself arose so 
softened, and clothed in such sweet and tender recollections, 
that it became a solemn pleasure, and lost all character of 
pain. 

They were a long, long time alone. A soft tap at the 
door, at length announced that some one was without. Oliver 
opened it, glided away, and gave place to Hany Maylie. 

“I know it all,” he said, taking a seat beside the lovely 
girl. “ Dear Rose,^ I know it all.” 

“ I am not here by accident,” he added after a lengthened 


OLIVER TWIST. 


492 

silence; ^^nor have I heard all this to-night, for I i ^ 
yesterday — only yesterday. Do you guess that I hav 
to remind you of a promise ? 

Stay,’" said Rose. You do know all.” 

^^All. You gave me leave, at any time within a } 
renew the subject of our last discourse.” 

“I did.” 

^^Not to press you to alter your determination,” pcixi^aeu 
the young man, ‘^but to hear you repeat it, if you would. 
I was to lay whatever of station or fortune I might possess 
at your feet, and if you still adhered to your former deter- 
mination, I pledged myself, by no word or act, to seek to 
change it.” 

The same reasons which influenced me then, will influence 
me now,” said Rose firmly. ^‘If I ever owed a strict and 
rigid duty to her, whose goodness saved me from a life of 
indigence and suffering, when should I ever feel it, as I should 
to-night ? It is a struggle,” said Rose, but one I am proud 
to make; it is a pang, but one my heart shall bear.” 

The disclosure of to-night, — ” Harry began. 

^‘The disclosure of to-night,” replied Rose softly, ^‘leaves 
me in the same position, with reference to you, as that in 
which I stood before.” 

^^You harden your heart against me. Rose,” urged her 
lover. 

‘•^Oh, Harry, Harry,” said the young lady, bursting into 
tears ; I wish I could, and spare myself this pain.” 

‘^Then why inflict it on yourself.?” said Harry, taking 
her hand. “ Think, dear Rose, think what you have heard 
to-night.” 

And what have I heard ! What have I heard ! ” cried 
Rose. ‘‘That a sense of his deep disgrace so worked upon 
my own father that he shunned all — there, we have said 
enough, Harry, we have said enough.” 

“Not yet, not yet,” said the young man, det r 

as she rose. “ My hopes, my wishes, prospects. 


THE COURSE OF TRUE LOVE. 


493 


every thought in life except my love for you : have undergone 
a change. I offer you, now, no distinction among a bustling 
crowd ; no mingling with a world of malice and detraction, 
where the blood is called into honest cheeks by aught but 
real disgrace and shame ; but a home — a heart and home — 
yes, dearest Rose, and those, and those alone, are all I have 
to offer."” 

What do you mean ! she faltered. 

mean but this — that when I left you last, I left you 
with a firm determination to level all fancied barriers between 
yourself and me; resolved that if my world could not be 
yours, I would make yours mine; that no pride of birth 
should curl the lip at you, for I would turn from it. This 
I have done. Those who have shrunk from me because of 
this, have shrunk from you, and proved you so far right. 
Such power and patronage : such relatives of influence and 
rank : as smiled upon me then, look coldly now ; but there 
are smiling fields and waving trees in England'^s richest 
county ; and by one village church — mine. Rose, my own ! 
— there stands a rustic dwelling which you can make me 
prouder of, than all the hopes I have renounced, measured a 
thousandfold. This is my rank and station now, and here 
I lay it down ! 

Jit 

‘^IFs a trying thing waiting supper for lovers,""* said Mr. 
Grim wig, waking up, and pulling his pocket-handkerchief 
from over his head. 

Truth to tell, the supper had been waiting a most 
unreasonable time. Neither Mrs. Maylie, nor Harry, nor 
Rose (who all came in together), could offer a word in 
extenuation. 

I had serious thoughts of eating my head to-night,"” 
said Mr. Grimwig, ‘^for I began to think I should get 
nothing else. Fll take the liberty, if you"*!! allpw me, of 
saluting the bride that is to be."*"* 

Mr. Grimwig lost no time in carrying this notice into 


OLIVER TWIST. 


efTect upon the blushing girl ; and the example, being 
tagious, was followed both by the doctor and Mr. Brow 
some people affirm that Harry Maylie had been obser 
set it, originally, in a dark room adjoining; but th 
authorities consider this downright scandal : he being 
and a clergyman. 

Oliver, my child, said Mrs. Maylie, “ where have you been, 
and why do you look so sad ? There are tears stealing down 
your face at this moment. What is the matter 

It is a world of disappointment; often to the hopes we 
most cherish, and hopes that do our nature the greatest 
honour. 

Poor Dick was dead ! 


CHAPTER LIL 
fagin's last night alive. 


The court was paved, from floor to roof, with human faces. 
Inquisitive and eager eyes peered from every inch of space. 
From the rail before the dock, away into the sharpest angle 
of the smallest corner in the galleries, all looks were fixed 
upon one man — Fagin. Before him and behind : above, 
below, on the right and on the left: he seemed to stand 
surrounded by a firmament, all bright with gleaming eyes. 

He stood there, in all this glare of living light, with one 
hand resting on the wooden slab before him, the other held 
to his ear, and his head thrust forward to enable him to 
catch with greater distinctness every word that fell from the 
presiding judge, who was delivering his charge to the jury. 
At times, he turned his eyes sharply upon them to observe 
the effect of the slightest featherweight in his favour; and 
when the points against him were stated with terrible dis- 
tinctness, looked towards his counsel, in mute appeal that 
he would, even then, urge something in his behalf. Beyond 
these manifestations of anxiety, he stirred not hand or foot. 
He had scarcely moved since the trial began ; and now that 
the judge ceased to speak, he still remained in the same 
strained attitude of close attention, with his gaze bent on 
him, as though he listened still. 

A slight bustle in the court, recalled him to himself- 
Looking round, he saw that the jurymen had turned together, 
to consider of their verdict. As his eyes wandered to the 


496 


OLIVER TWIST. 


gallery, he could see the people rising above each other to 
see his face : some hastily applying their glasses to their 
eyes : and others whispering their neighbours with looks 
expressive of abhorrence. A few there were, who seemed 
unmindful of him, and looked only to the jury, in impatient 
wonder how they could delay. But in no one face — not 
even among the women, of whom there were many there — 
could he read the faintest sympathy with himself, or any 
feeling but one of all-absorbing interest that he should be 
condemned. 

As he saw all this in one bewildered glance, the death-like 
stillness came again, and looking back, he saw that the jury- 
men had turned towards the judge. Hush ! 

They only sought permission to retire. 

He looked, wistfully, into their faces, one by one, when 
they passed out, as though to see which way the greater 
number leant; but that was fruitless. The jailer touched 
him on the shoulder. He followed mechanically to the end 
of the dock, and sat down on a chair. The man pointed 
it out, or he would not have seen it. 

He looked up into the gallery again. Some of the people 
were eating, and some fanning themselves with handkerchiefs ; 
for the crowded place was very hot. There was one young 
man sketching his face in a little note-book. He wondered 
whether it was like, and looked on when the artist broke his 
pencil-point, and made another with his knife, as any idle 
spectator might have done. 

In the same way, when he turned his eyes towards the 
judge, his mind began to busy itself with the fashion of his 
dress, and what it cost, and how he put it on. There was an 
old fat gentleman on the bench, too, who had gone out, some 
half an hour before, and now come back. He wondered within 
himself whether this man had been to get his dinner, what 
he had had, and where he had had it ; and pursued this train 
of careless thought until some new object caught his eye and 
roused another. 


GUILTY. 


m 

Not that, all this time, his mind was, for an instant, free 
from one oppressive overwhelming sense of the grave that 
opened at his feet ; it was ever present to him, but in a vague 
and general way, and he could not fix his thoughts upon it. 
Thus, even while he trembled, and turned burning hot at 
the idea of speedy death, he fell to counting the iron spikes 
before him, and wondering how the head of one had been 
broken off, and whether they would mend it, or leave it as 
it was. Then, he thought of all the horrors of the gallows 
and the scaffold — and stopped to watch a man sprinkling 
the floor to cool it — and then went on to think again. 

At length there was a cry of silence, and a breathless look 
from all towards the door. The jury returned, and passed 
him close. He could glean nothing from their faces ; they 
might as well have been of stone. Perfect stillness ensued — 
not a rustle — not a breath — Guilty. 

The building rang with a tremendous shout, and another, 
and another, and then it echoed loud groans, that gathered 
strength as they swelled out, like angry thunder. It was a 
peal of joy from the populace outside, greeting the news 
that he would die on Monday. 

The noise subsided, and he was asked if he had anything 
to say why sentence of death should not be passed upon him. 
He had resumed his listening attitude, and looked intently at 
his questioner while the demand was made ; but it was twice 
repeated before he seemed to hear it, and then he only 
muttered that he was an old man — an old man — an old man 
— and so, dropping into a whisper, was silent again. 

The judge assumed the black cap, and the prisoner still 
stood with the same air and gesture. A woman in the gallery 
uttered some exclamation, called forth by this dread solemnity ; 
he looked hastily up as if angry at the interruption, and bent 
forward yet more attentively. The address was solemn and 
impressive; the sentence fearful to hear. But he stood, like 
a marble figure, without the motion of a nerve. His haggard 
face was still thrust forward, his under -jaw hanging down, 

2 K 


498 


OLIVER TWIST. 


and his eyes staring out before him, when the jailer put his 
hand upon his arm, and beckoned him away. He gazed 
stupidly about him for an instant, and obeyed. 

They led him through a paved room under the court, 
v/here some prisoners were waiting till their turns came, and 
others were talking to their friends, who crowded round a 
grate which looked into the open yard. There was nobody 
there, to speak to him ; but, as he passed, the prisoners fell 
back to render him more visible to the people who were 
clinging to the bars : and they assailed him with opprobrious 
names, and screeched and hissed. He shook his fist, and 
would have spat upon them ; but his conductors hurried him 
on, through a gloomy passage lighted by a few dim lamps, 
into the interior of the prison. 

Here, he was searched, that he might not have about him 
the means of anticipating the law; this ceremony performed, 
they led him to one of the condemned cells, and left him 
there — alone. 

He sat down on a stone bench opposite the door, which 
served for seat and bedstead; and casting his blood-shot 
eyes upon the ground, tried to collect his thoughts. After 
awhile, he began to remember a few disjointed fragments of 
what the judge had said : though it had seemed to him, at 
the time, that he could not hear a word. These gradually 
fell into their proper places, and by degrees suggested more : 
so that in a little time he had the whole, almost as it was 
delivered. To be hanged by the neck, till he was dead — that 
was the end. To be hanged by the neck till he was dead. 

As it came on very dark, he began to think of all the 
men he had known who had died upon the scaffold ; some 
of them through his means. They rose up, in such quick 
succession, that he could hardly count them. He had seen 
some of them die, — and had joked too, because they died 
with prayers upon their lips. With what a rattling noise 
the drop went down ; and how suddenly they changed, from 
strong and vigorous men to dangling heaps of clothes ! 


CLOSLNG IN. 


499 


Some of tliem might have inhabited that very cell — sat 
upon that very spot. It was very dark ; why didn’t they 
bring a light? The cell had been built for many years. 
Scores of men must have passed their last hours there. It was 
like sitting in a vault strewn with dead bodies — the cap, the 
noose, the pinioned arms, the faces that he knew, even beneath 
that hideous veil. — Light, light ! 

At length, when his hands were raw with beating against 
the heavy door and walls, two men appeared : one bearing a 
candle, which he thrust into an iron candlestick fixed against 
the wall : the other dragging in a mattress on which to pass 
the night; for the prisoner was to be left alone no more. 

Then came night — dark, dismal, silent night. Other 
watchers are glad to hear the church-clocks strike, for they 
tell of life and coming day. To him they brought despair. 
The boom of every iron bell came laden with the one, deep, 
hollow sound — Death. What availed the noise and bustle 
of cheerful morning, which penetrated even there, to him ? 
It was another form of knell, with mockery added to the 
warning. 

The day passed off. Day? There was no day; it was 
gone as soon as come — and night came on again; night so 
long, and yet so short; long in its dreadful silence, and short 
in its fleeting hours. At one time he raved and blasphemed ; 
and at another howled and tore his hair. Venerable men of 
his own persuasion had come to pray beside him, but he had 
driven them away with curses. They renewed their charitable 
efforts, and he beat them off 

Saturday night. He had only one night more to live. 
And as he thought of this, the day broke — Sunday. 

It was not until the night of this last awful day, that a 
withering sense of his helpless, desperate state came in its full 
intensity upon his blighted soul ; not that he had ever held 
any defined or positive hope of mercy, but that he had never 
been able to consider more than the dim probability of dying; 
so soon. He had spoken little to either of the two men, who 


500 


OLIVER TWIST. 


relieved each other in their attendance upon him ; and they, 
for their parts, made no effort to rouse his attention. He 
had sat there, awake, biit dreaming. Now, he started up, 
every minute, and with gasping mouth and burning skin, 
hurried to and fro, in such a paroxysm of fear and wrath 
that even they — used to such sights — recoiled from him with 
horror. He grew so terrible, at last, in all the tortures of 
his evil conscience, that one man could not bear to sit there, 
eyeing him alone ; and so the two kept watch together. 

He cowered down upon his stone bed, and thought of the 
past. He had been wounded with some missiles from the 
crowd on the day of his capture, and his head was bandaged 
with a linen cloth. His red hair hung down upon his bloodless 
face ; his beard was torn, and twisted into knots ; his eyes 
shone with a terrible light ; his unwashed flesh crackled with 
the fever that burnt him up. Eight — nine — ten. If it was 
not a trick to frighten him, and those were the real hours 
treading on each other'^s heels, where would he be, when they 
came round again ! Eleven ! Another struck, before the 
voice of the previous hour had ceased to vibrate. At eight, 
he would be the only mourner in his OAvn funeral train ; at 
eleven 

Those dreadful walls of Newgate, which have hidden so 
much misery and such unspeakable anguish, not only from 
the eyes, but, too often, and too long, from the thoughts, 
of men, never held so dread a spectacle as that. The few 
who lingered as they passed, and wondered what the man 
was doing who was to be hanged to-morrow, would have 
slept but ill that night, if they could have seen him. 

From early in the evening until nearly midnight, little 
groups of two and three presented themselves at the lodge- 
gate, and inquired, with anxious faces, whether any reprieve 
had been received. These being answered in the negative, 
communicated the welcome intelligence to clusters in the 
street, who pointed out to one another the door from which 
he must come out, and showed where the scaffold would be 


IVIR. BROWNLOW AND OLIVER AT NEWGATE. 501 


built, and, walking with unwilling steps away, turned back 
to conjure up the scene. By degrees they fell off‘, one by 
one; and, for an hour, in. the dead of night, the street was 
left to solitude and darkness. 

The space before the prison was cleared, and a few strong 
barriers, painted black, had been already thrown across the 
road to break the pressure of the expected crowd, when Mr. 
Brownlow and Oliver appeared at the wicket, and presented 
an order of admission to the prisoner, signed by one of the 
sheriffs. They were immediately admitted into the lodge. 

Is the young gentleman to come too, sir ? said the man 
whose duty it was to conduct them. It"s not a sight for 
children, sir."*’ 

^‘It is not indeed, my friend,"’ rejoined Mr. Brownlow; 
but my business with this man is intimately connected with 
him ; and as this child has seen him in the full career of his 
success and villany, I think it as well — even at the cost of 
some pain and fear — that he should see him now.” 

These few words had been said apart, so as to be inaudible 
to Oliver. The man touched his hat ; and glancing at Oliver 
with some curiosity, opened another gate, opposite to that 
by which they had entered, and led them on, through dark 
and winding ways, towards the cells. 

^^This,” said the man, stopping in a gloomy passage where 
a couple of workmen were making some preparations in 
profound silence — ‘Hhis is the place he passes through. If 
you step this way, you can see the door he goes out at.” 

He led them into a stone kitchen, fitted with coppers for 
dressing the prison food, and pointed to a door. There was 
an open grating above it, through which came the sound of 
men’s voices, mingled with the noise of hammering, and the 
throwing down of boards. They were putting up the scaffold. 

From this place, they passed through several strong gates, 
opened by other turnkeys from the inner side; and, having 
entered an open yard, ascended a flight of narrow steps, and 
came into a passage ^vith a row of strong doors on the left 


502 


OLIVER TWIST. 


hand. Motioning them to remain where they were, the 
turnkey knocked at one of these with his bunch of keys. 
The two attendants, after a little whispering, came out into 
the passage, stretching themselves as if glad of the temporary 
relief, and motioned the visitors to follow the jailer into the 
cell. They did so. 

The condemned criminal was seated on his bed, rocking 
hixnself from side to side, with a countenance more like that 
of a snared beast than the face of a man. His mind was 
evidently wandering to his old life, for he continued to mutter, 
without appearing conscious of their presence otherwise than 
as a part of his vision. 

Good boy, Charley — well done — he mumbled. Oliver, 
too, ha ! ha ! ha ! Oliver too — quite the gentleman now — 
quite the — take that boy away to bed ! 

The jailer took the disengaged hand of Oliver ; and, whisper- 
ing him not to be alarmed, looked on without speaking. 

‘‘'Take him away to bed!^’ cried Fagin. “Do you hear 
me, some of you ? He has been the — the — somehow the 
cause of all this. ICs worth the money to bring him up to 
it — Bolter’s throat, Bill ; never mind the girl — Bolter’s throat 
as deep as you can cut. Saw his head off*!’** 

“ Fagin,” said the jailer. 

“That’s me!” cried the Jew, falling, instantly, into the 
attitude of listening he had assumed upon his trial. “An 
old man, my Lord ; a very old, old man ! ” 

“ Here,” said the turnkey, laying his hand upon his breast 
to keep him down. “ Here’s somebody wants to see you, to 
ask you some questions, I suppose. Fagin, Fagin ! Afe 
you a man?” 

“ I vshan’t be one long,” he replied, looking up with a face 
retaining no human expression but rage and terror. “Strike 
them all dead! What right have they to butcher me?” 

As he spoke he caught sight of Oliver and Mr. Brownlow. 
Shrinking to the furthest corner of the seat, he demanded to 
know what they wanted there. 



: 06 trojy: 







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^Hl 








NO ESCAPE. 


503 


Steady,’’ said the turnkey, still holding him down. Now, 
sir, tell him what you want. Quick, if you please, for he 
grows worse as the time gets on.” 

^‘You have some papers,” said Mr. Brownlow advancing, 

which were placed in your hands, for better security, by a 
man called Monks.” 

“ It’s all a lie together,” replied Fagin. “ I haven’t one 
— not one.” 

^^For the love of God,” said Mr. Brownlow solemnly, ^^do 
not say that now, upon the very verge of death; but tell 
me where they are. You know that Sikes is dead; that 
Plonks has confessed; that there is no hope of any further 
gain. Where are those papers ? ” 

Oliver,” cried Fagin, beckoning to him. Here, here ! 
Let me whisper to you.” 

‘^1 am not afraid,” said Oliver in a low voice, as he 
relinquished Mr. Brownlow’s hand. 

^^The papers,” said Fagin, drawing Oliver towards him, 

are in a canvas bag, in a hole a little way up the chimney 
in the top front-room. I want to talk to you, my dear. I 
want to talk to you.” 

Yes, yes,” returned Oliver. ‘^Let me say a prayer. Do! 
Let me say one prayer. Say only one, upon your knees, 
with me, and we will talk till morning.” 

Outside, outside,” replied Fagin, pushing the boy before 
him towards the door, and looking vacantly over his head. 
^^Say I’ve gone to sleep — they’ll believe you. You can get 
me out, if you take me so. Now then, now then ! ” 

Oh ! God forgive this wretched man ! ” cried the boy 
with a burst of teal’s. 

‘^That’s right, that’s right,” said Fagin. That’ll help 
us on. This door first. If I shake and tremble, as we 
pass the gallows, don’t you mind, but hurry on. Noav, 
now, now 1 ” 

^Mlave you nothing else to ask him, sir.?” inquired the 
turnkey. 


504 


OLIVER TWIST. 


No other question, replied Mr. Brownlow. If I hoped 
we could recall him to a sense of his position — 

Nothing will do that, sir,**’ replied the man, shaking his 
head. ‘^You had better leave him.’’ 

The door of the cell opened, and the attendants returned. 

‘‘Press on, press on,” cried Fagin. “Softly, but not so 
slow. Faster, faster ! ” 

The men laid hands upon him, and disengaging Oliver 
from his grasp, held him back. He struggled with the 
power of desperation, for an instant ; and, then sent up cry 
upon cry that penetrated even those massive walls, and rang 
in their ears until they reached the open yard. 

It was some time before they left the prison. Oliver 
nearly swooned after this frightful scene, and was so weak 
that for an hour or more, he had not the strength to walk. 

Day was dawning when they again emerged. A great 
multitude had already assembled ; the windows were filled 
with people, smoking and playing cards to beguile the time ; 
the crowd were pushing, quarrelling, joking. Everything 
told of life and animation, but one dark cluster of objects in 
the centre of all — the black stage, the cross-beam, the rope, 
and all the hideous apparatus of death.*' 


CHAPTER LIIL 


AND LAST. 

The fortunes of those who have figured in this tale are 
nearly closed. The little that remains to their historian to 
relate, is told in few and simple words. 

Before three months had passed. Rose Fleming and Harry 
Maylie were married in the village church which was hence- 
forth to be the scene of the young clergyman's labours ; on 
the same day they entered into possession of their new and 
happy home. 

Mrs. Maylie took up her abode with her son and daughter- 
in-law, to enjoy, during the tranquil remainder of her days, 
the greatest felicity that age and worth can know — the con- 
templation of the happiness of those on whom the warmest 
affections and tenderest cares of a well-spent life, have been 
unceasingly bestowed. 

It appeared, on full and careful investigation, that if the 
'wreck of property remaining in the custody of Monks (which 
had never prospered either in his hands or in those of his 
mother) were equally divided between himself and Oliver, it 
would yield, to each, little more than three thousand pounds. 
By the provisions of his father's will, Oliver would have been 
entitled to the whole ; but Mr. Brownlow, unwilling to deprive 
the elder son of the opportunity of retrieving his former vices 
and pursuing an honest career, proposed this mode of distribu- 
tion, to which his young charge joyfully acceded, 


OLIVEB. TWIST. 


500 

Monks, still bearing that assumed name, retired with his 
portion to a distant part of the New World; where, having 
quickly squandered it, he once more fell into his old courses, 
and, after undergoing a long confinement for some fresh act 
of fraud and knavery, at length sunk under an attack of his 
old disorder, and died in prison. As far from home, died the 
chief remaining members of his friend Fagin’s gang. 

Mr. Brownlow adopted Oliver as his son. Removing with 
him and the old housekeeper to within a mile of the parsonage- 
house, where his dear friends resided, he gratified the only 
remaining wish of Oliver’s warm and earnest heart, and thus 
linked together a little society, whose condition approached 
as nearly to one of perfect happiness as can ever be known 
in this changing world. 

Soon after the marriage of the young people, the worthy 
doctor returned to Chertsey, where, bereft of the presence of 
his old friends, he would have been discontented if his tempera- 
ment had admitted of such a feeling ; and would have turned 
quite peevish if he had kno^vn how. For two or three months, 
he contented himself with hinting that he feared the air began 
to disagree with him ; then, finding that the place really no 
longer was, to him, what it had been, he settled his business 
on his assistant, took a bachelor’^ cottage outside the village 
of which his young friend was pastor, and instantaneously 
recovered. Here, he took to gardening, planting, fishing, 
caiq:)entering, and various other pursuits of a similar kind : all 
undertaken with his characteristic impetuosity. In each and 
all, he has since become famous throughout the neighbourhood, 
as a most profound authority. 

Before his removal, he had managed to contract a strong 
friendship for Mr. Grimwig, which that eccentric gentleman 
cordially reciprocated. He is accordingly visited by Mr. 
Grimwig a great many times in the course of the year. On 
all such occasions, Mr. Grimwig plants, fishes, and carpenters, 
with great ardour; doing everything in a very singular and 
unprecedented manner, but always maintaining with his 


SUPPLEMENTARY. 


507 


favourite asseveration, that his mode is the right one. On 
Sundays, he never fails to criticise the sermon to the young 
clergyman’s face: always informing Mr. Losbeme, in strict 
confidence afterwards, that he considers it an excellent 
performance, but deems it as well not to say so. It is a 
standing and very favourite joke, for Mr. Brownlow to rally 
him on his old prophecy concerning Oliver, and to remind 
him of the night on which they sat with the watch between 
them, waiting his return ; but Mr. Grimwig contends that he 
was right in the main, and, in proof thereof, remarks that 
Oliver did iiot come bacJi^ after all ; which always calls forth 
a laugh on his side, and increases his good humour. 

Mr. Noah Claypole : receiving a free pardon from the Crown 
in consequence of being admitted approver against Fagin : 
and considering his profession not altogether as safe a one as 
he could wish : was, for some little time, at a loss for the 
means of a livelihood, not burthened with too much work. 
After some consideration, he went into business as an Informer, 
in which calling he realises a genteel subsistence. His plan 
is, to walk out once a week during church time attended by 
Charlotte in respectable attire. The lady faints away at the 
doors of charitable publicans, and the gentleman being accom- 
modated with threepennyworth of brandy to restore her, 
lays an information next day, and pockets half the penalty. 
Sometimes Mr. Claypole faints himself, but the result is the 
same. 

Mr. and Mrs. Bumble, deyjrived of their situations, were 
gradually reduced to great indigence and misery, and finally 
became paupers in that very same workhouse in which they 
had once lorded it over others. Mr. Bumble has been heard 
to say, that in this reverse and degradation, he has not even 
spirits to be thankful for being separated from his wife. 

As to Mr. Giles and Brittles, they still remain in their 
old posts, although the former is bald, and the last-named 
boy quite grey. They sleep at the parsonage, but divide 
their attentions so equally among its inmates, and Oliver. 


508 


OLIVER TWIST. 


and Mr. Brownlow, and Mr. Losberne, that to this day the 
villagers have never been able to discover to which establish- 
ment they properly belong. 

Master Charles Bates, appalled by Sikes'^s crime, fell into 
a train of reflection whether an honest life was not, after all, 
the best. Arriving at the conclusion that it certainly was, 
he turned his back upon the scenes of the past, resolved to 
amend it in some new sphere of action. He struggled hard, 
and suffered much, for some time ; but, having a contented 
disposition, and a good purpose, succeeded in the end; and, 
from being a farmer’s drudge, and a carrier’s lad, he is now 
the merriest young grazier in all Northamptonshire. 

And now, the hand that traces these words, falters, as it 
approaches the conclusion of its task ; and would weave, for 
a little longer space, the thread of these adventures. 

I would fain linger yet with a few of those among whom I 
have so long moved, and share their happiness by endeavour- 
ing to depict it. I would show Rose Maylie in all the bloom 
and grace of early womanhood, shedding on her secluded 
path in life soft and gentle light, that fell on all who trod 
it with her, and shone into their hearts. I would paint her 
the life and joy of the fire-side circle and the lively summer 
group ; I would follow her through the sultry fields at noon, 
and hear the low tones of her sweet voice in the moonlit 
evening walk ; I would watch her in all her goodness and 
charity abroad, and the smiling untiring discharge of domestic 
duties at home ; I would paint her and her dead sister’s child 
happy in their love for one another, and passing whole hours 
together in picturing the friends whom they had so sadly 
lost; I would summon before me, once again, those joyous 
little faces that clustered round her knee, and listen to their 
merry prattle; I would recall the tones of that clear laugh, 
and conjure up the sympathising tear that glistened in the 
soft blue eye. These, and a thousand looks and smiles, and 
turns of thought and speech — I would fain recall them every 
one. 





f r? Vi ji-'-, f 


' f it \ H £' 

UNiVEHSH'y of klLlNOfS 


SUPPLEMENTARY. 


509 


How Mr. Browiilow went on, from day to day, filling the 
mind of his adopted child with stores of knowledge, and 
becoming attached to him, more and more, as his nature 
developed itself, and showed the thriving seeds of all he 
wished him to become — how he traced in him new traits of 
his early friend, that awakened in his own bosom old remem- 
brances, melancholy and yet sweet and soothing — how the 
two orphans, tried by adversity, remembered its lessons in 
mercy to others, and mutual love, and fervent thanks to Him 
who had protected and preserved them — these are all matters 
which need not to be told. I have said that they were truly 
happy ; and without strong affection and humanity of heart, 
and gratitude to that Being whose code is Mercy, and whose 
great attribute is Benevolence to all things that breathe, 
happiness can never be attained. 

Within the altar of the old village church there stands 
a white marble tablet, which bears as yet but one word : 

Agnes."” There is no coffin in that tomb ; and may it be 
many, many years, before another name is placed above it ! 
But, if the spirits of the Dead ever come back to earth, to 
visit spots hallowed by the love — the love beyond the grave 
— of those whom they knew in life, I believe that the shade 
of Agnes sometimes hovers round that solemn nook. I believe 
it none the less because that nook is in a Church, and she .!> 
was weak and erring. 


NOTES ON OLIVER TWIST. 


CHAPTER I. 

‘‘ To wit, a workhouse.” 

The discussion of tlie Poor Laws, the appointment of a Parliamentary 
Commission, and the consequent legislation, were aflairs of 1832-34, 
and therefore recent when Oliver Tivist was written. Much mal- 
administration was revealed, and the new measures, especially the 
restriction of “outdoor relief,” and the separation of old married 
couples in “The Bastille,” caused a great deal of indignation. By 
the end of 1837, Union workhouses were almost universally established 
in England, and it may be rather faintly hoped that Oliver Tivist had 
some effect in improving them. 

CHAPTER XI. 

“Mr. Fang.” 

This incredible magistrate was a Mr. Laing, at Hatton Garden. 
Dickens found an opportunity, through a press reporter, to see him at 
v/ork, and described his manner and personal aiipearance, scarcely 
changing his name, in which the English do not sound the i, Mr. 
Laing was soon afterwards removed from his office. 

CHAPTER XXX. 

“The constable’s staff of office.” 

Peel’s Commission on Police was formed in 1828, and in 1829 the New 
Police, or “Peelers,” in face of much opposition, were established in 
London. In Pickwick we see the old English and an)ateur character of 
Mr. Nupkins’s police, still on the model of Dogberry’s. The local con- 
stable, at the crib cracked by Mr. Sikes, is of the ancient species, with 
his staff* and scutcheon. Messrs. Blathers and Duff, from London, in 
top-boots and swallow* tailed coats, are not yet precisely of the new 
model. 


THE END. 


?t?TNTKD BV WILLIAM CLOWES AND SONS, LIMITED, LONDON AND BECCLES. 






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