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本周熱門小說

Oliver Twist(霧都孤兒(孤星血淚))

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ELECBOOK CLASSICS 
OLIVER
TWIST


Charles Dickens 



ELECBOOK CLASSICS


ebc0012. Charles Dickens: Oliver Twist


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. The Electric Book Co 1998 

The Electric Book Company Ltd 

20 Cambridge Drive, London SE12 8AJ, UK 
+44 (0)181 488 3872 www.elecbook.com 


OLIVER TWIST


Charles Dickens



Oliver Twist 

Contents 

Click on number to go to chapter 

Chapter 1. Treats Of The Place Where Oliver Twist 
Was Born; And Of The Circumstances Attending His 
Birth..........................................................................................................9 

Chapter 2. Treats Of Oliver Twist』s Growth, 

Education, And Board..........................................................................13 
Chapter 3. Relates How Oliver Twist Was Very Near 
Getting A Place, Which Would Not Have Been A 
Sinecure. ................................................................................................27 

Chapter 4. Oliver, Being Offered Another Place, 

Makes His First Entry Into Public Life.............................................38 
Chapter 5. Oliver Mingles With New Associates— 
Going To A Funeral For The First Time, He Forms An 
Unfavourable Notion Of His Master』s Business...............................47 

Chapter 6. Oliver, Being Goaded By The Taunts Of 
Noah, Rouses Into Action, And Rather Astonishes Him. ...............61 

Chapter 7. Oliver Continues Refractory. .........................................68 
Chapter 8. Oliver Walks To London—He Encounters 
On The Road A Strange Sort Of Young Gentleman........................77 

Chapter 9. Containing Further Particulars Concerning 

The Pleasant Old Gentleman, And His Hopeful Pupils..................88 
Chapter 10. Oliver Becomes Better Acquainted With 
The Characters Of His New Associates; And Purchases 
Experience At A High Price—Being A Short But Very 

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Oliver Twist 

Important Chapter In This History....................................................96 
Chapter 11. Treats Of Mr. Fang The Police Magistrate; 

And Furnishes A Slight Specimen Of His Mode Of 

Administering Justice. .......................................................................103


Chapter 12. In Which Oliver Is Taken Better Care Of 

Than He Ever Was Before—And In Which The 

Narrative Reverts To The Merry Old Gentleman And 

His Youthful Friends..........................................................................113


Chapter 13. Some New Acquaintances Are Introduced 
To The Intelligent Reader, Connected With Whom, 
Various Pleasant Matters Are Related, Appertaining To 
This History. ........................................................................................125 

Chapter 14. 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...................136 

Chapter 15. Showing How Very Fond Of Oliver Twist, 

The Merry Old Jew And Miss Nancy Were. ...................................150


Chapter 16. Relates What Became Of Oliver Twist, 

After He Had Been Claimed By Nancy...........................................159


Chapter 17. Oliver』s destiny continuing unpropitious, 

brings a great man to London to injure his reputation.................172


Chapter 18. How Oliver Passed His Time In The 

Improving Society Of His Reputable Friends................................184


Chapter 19. In Which A Notable Plan Is Discussed 
And Determined On...........................................................................195 

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Oliver Twist 

Chapter 20. Wherein Oliver Is Delivered Over To Mr. 
William Sikes.......................................................................................208 
Chapter 21. The Expedition.............................................................219 

Chapter 22. The Burglary. ...............................................................227 
Chapter 23. Which Contains The Substance Of A 
Pleasant Conversation Between Mr. Bumble And A 
Lady; And Shows That Even A Beadle May Be 
Susceptible On Some Points.............................................................236 

Chapter 24. Treats Of A Very Poor Subject—But Is A 
Short One, And May Be Found Of Importance In This 
History. .................................................................................................246 

Chapter 25. Wherein This History Reverts To Mr. 

Fagin And Company...........................................................................254 
Chapter 26. In Which A Mysterious Character Appears 
Upon The Scene; And Many Things, Inseparable From 
This History, Are Done And Performed..........................................262 

Chapter 27. Atones For The Unpoliteness Of A Former 
Chapter, Which Deserted A Lady Most 
Unceremoniously................................................................................278 

Chapter 28. Looks After Oliver, And Proceeds With 

His Adventures....................................................................................288 
Chapter 29. Has An Introductory Account Of The 
Inmates Of The House, To WhichOliver Resorted.......................301 

Chapter 30. Relates What Oliver』s New Visitors 
Thought Of Him..................................................................................306 
Chapter 31. Involves A Critical Position........................................315 

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Chapter 32. Of The Happy Life Oliver Began To Lead 

With His Kind Friends.......................................................................329 
Chapter 33. Wherein The Happiness Of Oliver And His 
Friends, Experiences A Sudden Check...........................................341 

Chapter 34. Contains Some Introductory Particulars 
Relative To A Young Gentleman Who Now Arrives 
Upon The Scene; And A New Adventure Which 
Happened ToOliver...........................................................................352 

Chapter 35. Containing The Unsatisfactory Result Of 
Oliver』s Adventure; And A Conversation Of Some 
Importance Between Harry Maylie And Rose. ..............................365 

Chapter 36. 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. ......................................375 

Chapter 37. In Which The Reader May Perceive A 

Contrast, Not Uncommon In Matrimonial Cases. .........................379 
Chapter 38. Containing An Account Of What Passed 
Between Mr. And Mrs. Bumble, And Mr. Monks, At 
Their Nocturnal Interview. ...............................................................392 

Chapter 39. Introduces Some Respectable Characters 
With Whom The Reader Is Already Acquainted, And 
Shows How Monks And The Jew Laid Their Worthy 
Heads Together...................................................................................405 

Chapter 40. A Strange Interview, Which Is A Sequel 
To The Last Chapter. .........................................................................424 
Chapter 41. Containing Fresh Discoveries, And 

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Oliver Twist 

Showing That Surprises, Like Misfortunes, Seldom 

Come Alone..........................................................................................433 
Chapter 42. An Old Acquaintance Of Oliver』s, 
Exhibiting Decided Marks Of Genius, Becomes A 
Public Character In The Metropolis................................................446 

Chapter 43. Wherein Is Shown How The Artful 

Dodger Got Into Trouble...................................................................460 
Chapter 44. The Time Arrives For Nancy To Redeem 
Her Pledge To Rose Maylie—She Fails...........................................474 

Chapter 45. Noah Claypole Is Employed By Fagin On 
A Secret Mission. ................................................................................483 
Chapter 46. The Appointment Kept...............................................488 
Chapter 47. Fatal Consequences.....................................................501 

Chapter 48. The Flight Of Sikes......................................................510 
Chapter 49. Monks And Mr. Brownlow At Length 
Meet—Their Conversation, And The Intelligence That 
Interrupts It.........................................................................................522 

Chapter 50. The Pursuit And Escape.............................................535 
Chapter 51. Affording an explanation of more 

mysteries than one, and comprehending a proposal of 
marriage with no word of settlement or pin-money......................550 
Chapter 52. Fagin』s Last Night Alive .............................................567 
Chapter 53. And Last........................................................................578 

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Chapter 1 

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 born in a 
workhouse, is in itself the most fortunate and enviable 
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 

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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 first proof of the free and proper action of 
his lungs, the patchwork coverlet which was carelessly flung over 
the iron bedstead rustled; the pale face of a young woman was 
raised feebly from the pillow; and a faint voice imperfectly 
articulated the words, 「Let me see the child, and die.」 

The surgeon had been sitting with his face turned towards the 
fire, giving the palms of his hands a warm and a rub alternately. 
As the young woman spoke, he rose, and advancing to the bed』s 
head, said, with more kindness than might have been expected of 

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him: 

「Oh, you must not talk about dying yet.」 

「Lor bless 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 satisfaction. 「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, she』ll 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 prospects 
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 
chafed 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 bedside on his way to the 
door, added, 「She was a good-looking girl, too; where did she 
come from?」 

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「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. 
「The old story,」 he said, shaking his head: 「no wedding ring, I see. 
Ah! Good-night!」 

The medical gentleman walked away to dinner; and the nurse, 
having once more applied herself to the green bottle, sat down on 
a low chair before the fire, and proceeded to dress the infant. 

What an excellent example of the power of dress young Oliver 
Twist was I Wrapped in the blanket which had hitherto formed his 
only covering, he might have been the 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 church-wardens and 
overseers, perhaps he would have cried the louder. 

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Chapter 2 

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 off, 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 uncomfortable. The elderly female was a woman of 
wisdom and experience; she knew what was good for children; 
and she had a very accurate perception of what was good for 

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herself. So, she appropriated the greater part of the weekly 
stipend to her own 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 most 
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 overlooked 
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 

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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 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 birthday found him a pale, thin child, somewhat diminutive 
in stature, and decidedly small in circumference. 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 birthday at all. Be this as it may, 
however, it was his ninth birthday; 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 upstairs, 
and wash 』em directly.) My heart alive! Mr. Bumble, how glad I am 

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to see you, surely!」 

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 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 church-warden, 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?」 

「I』m 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.」 

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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 I』m 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 something, 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. 「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 

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shall take an 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-baptised, Oliver 
Twist, is nine year old today.」 

「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. Notwithstanding the 
most superlative, and, I may say, supernat』ral exertions on the 
part of this parish,」 said Bumble, awe have never been able to 
discover who is his father, or what was his mother』s settlement, 
name, or condition.」 

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

The beadle drew himself up with great pride, and said, 「I 
inwented it.」 

「You, Mr. Bumble!」 

「I, Mrs. Mann. We name our fondlings in alphabetical order. 
The last was a S—Swubble, I named him. This was T—Twist, I 
named him. The next one as comes will be Unwin, and the next 
Vilkins. I have got names ready-made to the end of the alphabet, 
and all the way through it again, when we come to Z.」 

「Why, you』re quite a literary 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.」 

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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.」 

「I』ll 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 incrusted 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 anybody 
with great readiness, when, glancing upwards, 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.」 

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 the 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 

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Oliver wanted a great deal more, a piece of bread-and-butter, lest 
he should seem too hungry when he got to the workhouse. With 
the slice of bread in 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, they 
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-andwater 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 certain whether he ought to laugh or cry. He had no time to 
think about the matter, however; for Mr. Bumble gave him a tap 
on the head with his cane, to wake him up, and another on the 

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back to make him lively, and bidding him follow, conducted him 
into a large, whitewashed room, where eight or ten fat gentlemen 
were sitting round a table. At the top of the table, seated in an 
arm-chair rather higher than the rest, was a particularly fat 
gentleman with a very round, red face. 

「Bow to the Board,」 said Bumble. Oliver brushed away two or 
three tears that were lingering in his eyes; and seeing no board 
but the table, fortunately bowed to that. 

「What』s your name, boy?」 said the gentleman in the high chair. 

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, 

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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 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 a useful 
trade,」 said the red-faced gentleman in the high chair. 

「So you』ll begin to pick oakum tomorrow morning at six 
o』clock,」 added the surly one in the white waistcoat. 

For the combination of both these blessings in the one simple 
process of picking oakum, Oliver bowed low by the direction of the 
beadle, and was then hurried away to a large ward; where, on a 
rough, hard bed, he sobbed himself to sleep. What a noble 
illustration of the tender laws of England! They let the paupers go 
to sleep! 

Poor Oliver! He little thought, as he lay sleeping in a 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 

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very knowing; 「we are the fellows to set this to rights; we』ll stop it 
all, in no time.」 So, they established the rule, that all the poor 
people should have 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 
waterworks 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 onion twice a week, 
and half a roll on Sundays. They made 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 consequence 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 applicants 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; 
but 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 inmates 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 

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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 bowls never wanted washing. The boys polished them with 
their spoons till they shone again; and when they had performed 
this operation (which never took very long, the spoons being 
nearly as large as the bowls), they would sit staring at the copper, 
with such eager eyes, as if they could have devoured the very 
bricks of which it was composed; employing themselves, 
meanwhile, in sucking their fingers most assiduously, with the 
view of catching up any stray splashes of gruel that 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; 

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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, 「I 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: 

「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 more!」 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 

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the gate, offering 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. 

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Chapter 3 

Relates How Oliver Twist Was Very Near Getting A
Place, Which Would Not Have Been A Sinecure.


For a week after the commission of the impious and profane 
offence of asking for more, Oliver remained a close 
prisoner in the dark and solitary room to which he had 
been consigned by the wisdom and mercy of the Board. It appears, 
at first sight, not unreasonable to suppose, that, if he had 
entertained a becoming feeling of respect for the prediction of the 
gentle. man in the white waistcoat, he would have established that 
sage individual』s prophetic character, once and for ever, by tying 
one end of his pocket handkerchief to a hook in the wall, and 
attaching himself to the other. To the performance of this feat, 
however, there was one obstacle, namely, that pocket 
handkerchiefs being decided articles of luxury, had been for all 
future times and ages, removed from the noses of paupers by the 
express order of the Board, in council assembled: solemnly given 
and pronounced under their hands and seals. There was a still 
greater obstacle in Oliver』s youth and childishness. He only cried 
bitterly all day; and, when the long, dismal night came on, spread 
his little hands before his eyes to shut out the darkness, and 
crouching in the corner, tried to sleep: ever and anon waking with 
a start and tremble, and drawing himself closer and closer to the 
wall, as if to feel even its cold, hard surface were a protection in 
the gloom and loneliness which surrounded him. 
Let it not be supposed by the enemies of 「the system,」 that, 

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during the period of his solitary incarceration, Oliver was denied 
the benefit of exercise, the pleasure of society, or the advantages of 
religious consolation. As for exercise, it was nice cold weather, and 
he was allowed to perform his ablutions every morning under the 
pump, in a stone yard, in the presence of Mr. Bumble, who 
prevented his catching cold, and caused a tingling sensation to 
pervade his frame, by repeated applications of the cane. As for 
society, he was carried every other day into the hall where the 
boys dined, and there sociably flogged as a public warning and 
example. And so far from being denied the advantages of religious 
consolation, he was kicked into the same apartment every evening 
at prayer-time, and there permitted to listen to, and console his 
mind with, a general supplication of the boys, containing a special 
clause, therein inserted by authority of the Board, in which they 
entreated to be made good, virtuous, contented, and obedient, and 
to be guarded from the sins and vices of Oliver Twist: whom the 
supplication distinctly set forth to be under the exclusive 
patronage and protection of the powers of wickedness, and an 
article direct from the manufactory of the very devil himself. 

It chanced one morning, while Oliver』s affairs were in this 
auspicious and comfortable state, that Mr. Gamfield, chimney-
sweep, was wending his way down the High Street, deeply 
cogitating in his mind his ways and means of paying certain 
arrears of rent, for which his landlord had become rather pressing. 
Mr. Gamfield』s most sanguine estimate of his finances could not 
raise them within full five pounds of the desired amount; and, in a 
species of arithmetical desperation, he was alternately cudgelling 
his brains and his donkey, when, passing the workhouse, his eyes 
encountered the bill on the gate. 

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「Wo-o!」 said Mr. Gamfield to the donkey. 

The donkey was in a state of profound abstraction: wondering, 
probably, whether he was destined to be regaled with a cabbage-
stalk or two when he had disposed of the two sacks 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 more 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 the 
boy with which it was encumbered, Mr. Gamfield, knowing what 
the dietary of the workhouse was, well 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. 

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「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 would 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. 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 』cause 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 

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words 「saving of expenditure,」 「looked well in the accounts,」 
「have a printed report published,」 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 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 Mr. 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 pounds ten was plenty,」 said Mr. Limbkins. 

「Ten shillings too much,」 said the gentleman in the white 
waistcoat. 

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Oliver Twist 

「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,」 said 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 overfed since he was born. Ha! ha! 
ha!」 

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

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Oliver Twist 

「Don』t make your eyes red, Oliver, but eat your food and be 
thankful,」 said Mr. Bumble, in a tone of impressive pomposity. 
「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 orphan 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. 

On their way to the magistrate, Mr. Bumble instructed Oliver 
that 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. 

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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 somewhat 
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 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 by the 
sleeve; whereupon, the last-mentioned old gentleman woke up. 

「Oh, is this the boy?」 said the old gentleman. 

「This is him, sir,」 replied Mr. Bumble. 「Bow to the magistrate, 
my dear.」 

Oliver roused himself, and made his best obeisance. He had 
been wondering, with his eyes fixed on the magistrates』 powder, 

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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 dotes 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 tomorrow, 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, will 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 
villainous 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 ink-stand. 

It was the critical moment of Oliver』s fate. If the ink-stand had 
been where the old gentleman thought』 it was, he would have 
dipped his pen into it, and signed the indentures; and Oliver 
would have been straightway hurried off. But, as it chanced to be 
immediately under his nose, it followed, as a matter of course, that 

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he looked all over his desk for it, without finding it; and happening 
in the course of his speech 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 clasped 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. 「Well! of all the artful and designing 
orphans that ever I see, Oliver, you are one of the most barefacedest.」 

「Hold your tongue, beadle,」 said the second old gentleman, 

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when Mr. Bumble had given vent to this compound adjective. 

「I beg your worship』s pardon,」 said Mr. Bumble, incredulous of 
his having heard aright. 「Did your worship speak to me? 

「Yes. Hold your tongue.」 

Mr. Bumble was stupefied with astonishment. A beadle ordered 
to hold his tongue! A moral revolution! The old gentleman in the 
tortoise-shell spectacles looked at his companion; he nodded 
significantly. 

「We refuse to sanction these indentures,」 said the old 
gentleman, tossing aside the piece of parchment as he spoke. 

「I hope,」 stammered Mr. Limbkins, 「I hope the magistrates 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; whereunto 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. 

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Chapter 4 

Oliver, Being Offered Another Place, Makes His
First Entry Into Public Life.


In great families, when an advantageous place cannot be 
obtained, either in possession, reversion, remainder, or 
expectancy, 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; which 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 come 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 returning 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. 

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Mr Sowerberry 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, with precisely as near 
the 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 drawbacks. 
A fair profit is, of course, allowable.」 

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「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!」 

「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 
dead-weight; 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 lapel of his official coat; 「that』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.」 

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「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. Sowerberry. I put 
it on, I remember, for the first time, to attend the inquest on that 
reduced tradesman, who died in a doorway at midnight.」 

「I recollect,」 said the undertaker. 「The jury brought it in, 『Died 
from exposure to the cold, and want of the common necessaries 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 ineddicated, 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 
contemptuously. 

「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 

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house for a week or two,」 said the beadle; 「the rules and 
regulations of the Board would 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: 

「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, 「I 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 complained of his 
situation, or ever came back to the parish again, he would be sent 

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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 forthwith. 

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 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. 

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「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. Withdrawing his other hand from Mr. Bumble』s, 
he covered his face with both; and wept until the tears sprang out 
from between his chin and bony fingers. 

「Well!」 exclaimed Mr. Bumble, stopping short, and darting 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. 

「So lonely, sir! So very lonely!」 cried the child. 「Everybody 
hates me. Oh! sir, don』t, don』t pray be cross with 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 something 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, 

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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. Sowerberry—he』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 they』re worth. However, men 
always think they know best. There! Get downstairs, little bag o』 
bones.」 With this, the undertaker』s wife opened a side door, and 
pushed Oliver down a steep flight of stairs into a stone cell, damp 
and dark, forming the ante-room to the coal-cellar, and 
denominated 「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 

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Oliver down, 「give the 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 upstairs; 「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. 

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Chapter 5 

Oliver Mingles With New Associates—Going To A
Funeral For The First Time, He Forms An
Unfavourable Notion Of His Master』s Business.


O liver, 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 awe and dread, which many 
people a good deal older than he will be at no loss to understand. 
An unfinished coffin on black trestles, 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 
was close and hot; and the atmosphere seemed tainted with the 
smell of coffins. The recess beneath the counter in which his flock 
mattress was thrust, looked like a grave. 

Nor were these the only dismal feelings which depressed 
Oliver. He was alone in a strange place; and we all know how 

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chilled and desolate the best of us will sometimes feel in such a 
situation. The 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 
churchyard 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 angry 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. 

「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 of the voice, whoever 
he might be, would redeem his pledge, most honourably. He drew 
back the bolts with a trembling hand, and opened the door. 

For a second or two, Oliver glanced up the street, and down the 

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street, and over the way, impressed with the belief that the 
unknown who had addressed him through the keyhole, 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. 

「I』m Mister Noah Claypole,」 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 

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kept during the day, was graciously assisted by Noah, who, having 
consoled him with the assurance that 「he』d catch it,」 
condescended to help him. Mr. Sowerberry came down soon after. 
Shortly afterwards, Mrs. Sowerberry appeared; and Oliver having 
「caught it,」 in fulfilment of Noah』s 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, Work』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 was 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 

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unstateable fraction. 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 has 
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 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 Mrs. 
Sowerberry. 「I am nobody; don』t consult me, pray. I don』t want to 
intrude upon your secrets.」 As Mrs. Sowerberry said this, she gave 
an hysterical laugh, which threatened violent consequences. 

「But, my dear,」 said Mr. 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 

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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. Sowerberry. 
「A very good-looking boy, that, my dear.」 

「He need be, for he eats enough,」 observed the lady. 

「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 considerable 
wonderment. Mr. Sowerberry remarked it; and without allowing 
time for any observation on the good lady』s part, proceeded. 

「I 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 the 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. Sowerberry rightly 
construed this, as an acquiescence in his proposition; it was 
speedily determined, therefore, that Oliver should be at once 
initiated into the mysteries of the trade; and, with this view, that 

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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 Sowerberry. 

「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 afterwards,」 replied 
Mr. Bumble, fastening the strap of the leathern pocketbook: 
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, Mr. 
Sowerberry; very obstinate. Proud, too, I』m afraid, sir.」 

「Proud, eh?」 exclaimed Mr. Sowerberry, with a sneer. 「Come, 
that』s too 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, offhand.」 

「Ah, there』s promptness,」 said the undertaker. 

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「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, wholesome medicine, as was given with 
great success to two Irish labourers and a coal-heaver, 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 anybody 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.」 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. 

「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 recollection 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 functionary, 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 

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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 door 
and window, were wrenched from their positions, to afford an 
aperture wide enough for the passage of a human body. The 
kennel was stagnant and filthy. The very rats, which here and 
there lay putrefying in its rottenness, were hideous with famine. 

There was neither knocker nor bell-handle at the open door 

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where Oliver and his master stopped; so, groping his way 
cautiously through the dark passage, and bidding Oliver keep 
close to him and not be afraid, the undertaker mounted to the top 
of the first flight of stairs. Stumbling against a door on the landing, 
he rapped at it with his knuckles. 

It was opened by a young girl of thirteen or fourteen. The 
undertaker at once saw enough of what the room contained, to 
know it was the apartment to which he had been directed. He 
stepped in; Oliver followed him. 

There was no fire in the room; but a man was crouching 
mechanically over the empty stove. An old woman, too, had drawn 
a low stool to the cold hearth, and was sitting beside him. There 
were some ragged children in another corner; and in a small 
recess, opposite the door, there lay upon the ground, something 
covered with an old blanket. Oliver shuddered as he cast his eyes 
towards the place, and crept involuntary closer to his master; for 
though it was covered up, the boy felt that it was a corpse. 

The man』s face was thin and very pale; his hair and beard were 
grizzly; his eyes were bloodshot. The old woman』s face was 
wrinkled; her two remaining teeth protruded over her under lip; 
and her eyes were bright and piercing. Oliver was afraid to look at 
either her or the man. They seemed 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 

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furiously on the floor—「I tell you I won』t have her put into the 
ground. She couldn』t rest there. The worms would worry her—not 
eat her—she is so worn away.」 

The undertaker offered no reply to this raving; but, producing 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 bones 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. Having unloosed the 
cravat of the man who still remained 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! Well, it is strange that I who gave birth to her, and 

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was a woman then, should be alive and merry now, and she lying 
there, so cold and stiff! Lord, Lord!—to think of it; it』s as good as a 
play—as good as a play!」 

As the wretched creature mumbled and chuckled in her 
hideous merriment, the undertaker turned to go away. 

「Stop, stop!」 said the old woman, in a loud whisper. 「Will she 
be buried tomorrow, or next day, or tonight? 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; 

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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 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 

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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 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 attention; 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?」 

「Pretty well, thank you, sir,」 replied Oliver, with considerable 
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. 

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Chapter 6 

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 cheerful and 
contented—conversing together with as much freedom and gaiety, 

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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 sorrow, 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 internment, 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 routed 
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 Oliver』s history; 
for I have to record an act, slight and unimportant 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 

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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 of time, 
which Noah Claypole, being hungry 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 
tablecloth; 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 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 

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rolled down Oliver』s cheek. 「What』s set you a-snivelling now?」 

「Not you,」 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 about her; you』d better not!」 

「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 

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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! 
Charlotte!」 

Noah』s shouts were responded to, by a loud scream from 
Charlotte, and a louder from Mrs. Sowerberry; the former of 
whom rushed into the kitchen by a side-door, while the latter 
paused on the staircase till she was quite certain that it was 
consistent with the preservation of human life, to come farther 
down. 

「Oh, you little wretch!」 screamed Charlotte, seizing Oliver with 
her utmost force, which was about equal to that of a moderately 
strong man in particularly good training. 「Oh, you little 
ungrateful, 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. Sowerberry 
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. 

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Sowerberry sank 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 born to be murderers and robbers from their very cradle; Poor 
Noah! He was all but killed, ma』am, when I come in. 

「Poor fellow!」 said Mrs. Sowerberry, looking piteously on the 
charity-boy. 

Noah, whose top waistcoat button might have been somewhere 
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 sniffs. 

「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 him to come here 
directly, and not to lose a minute; never mind your cap! Make 

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haste! You can hold a knife to that black eye, as you run along. It』ll 
keep the swelling down.」 

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. 

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Chapter 7 

Oliver Continues Refractory. 

Noah Claypole ran along the streets at his swiftest pace, 
and paused not once for breath, until he reached the 
workhouse 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, who 
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?」 

「No, 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 

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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 understand 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 wound ten times louder than 
before; and, when he observed a gentleman in a white waistcoat 
crossing the yard, he was more tragic in his lamentations than 
ever; rightly conceiving it highly expedient to attract the notice, 
and rouse the indignation, of the gentleman 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. 

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「And his master, too, I think you say, Noah?」 added Mr. 
Bumble. 

「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 Mr. Sowerberry and Charlotte, were of so 
startling a nature, that Mr. Bumble judged it prudent to parley, 

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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. 

「Ain』t you afraid of it, sir? Ain』t you a-trembling while 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 bystanders, in mute astonishment. 

「Oh, you know, Mr. Bumble, he must be mad,」 said Mrs. 
Sowerberry. 「No boy in half his sense could venture to speak 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 overfed 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 

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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 down 
to earth again; 「the only thing that can be done now, that I know 
of, is to leave him in the cellar for a day or so, till he』s a little 
starved down; and then to take him out, and to keep him on gruel 
all through his apprenticeship. He comes of a bad family. 
Excitable natures, Mrs. Sowerberry! Both the nurse and doctor 
said, that that mother of his made her way here, against difficulties 
and pain that would have killed any well-disposed woman, weeks 
before.」 

At this point of Mr. Bumble』s discourse, Oliver, just 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 a twinkling, and dragged his 
rebellious apprentice out, by the 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 disappeared, however; and when he was pulled out 
of his prison, he scowled boldly on Noah, and looked quite 
undismayed. 

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「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 various other agreeable characters too 
numerous for recital within the limits of this chapter. To do him 
justice, he was, as far as his power went—it was not very 
extensive—kindly disposed towards the boy; perhaps, because it 
was his interest to do so; perhaps, because his wife disliked him. 
The flood of tears, however, left him no resource; so he at once 
gave him a drubbing, which satisfied even Mrs. Sowerberry 
herself, and rendered Mr. Bumble』s subsequent application of the 
parochial cane, rather unnecessary. For the rest of the day, he was 
shut up in the back kitchen, in company with a pump and a slice of 
bread; and, at night, Mrs. Sowerberry, after making various 
remarks outside the door, by no means complimentary to the 
memory of his mother, looked into the room, and, amidst the jeers 
and pointings of Noah and Charlotte, ordered him upstairs to his 
dismal bed. 

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It was not until he was left alone in the silence and stillness of 
the gloomy workshop 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 curiously 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 availed himself of the expiring 
light of the candle to tie up in a handkerchief the few articles of 
wearing apparel he had, sat himself down upon a bench, to wait 
for morning. 

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 the open street. 

He looked to the right and to the left, uncertain whither to fly. 
He remembered to have seen the wagons, as they went out, toiling 

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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 
into the road, struck into it, and walked quickly on. 

Along the 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 disclosed 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 am running 
away. They beat and ill-use me, Dick; and I am going to seek my 
fortune, some long way off. I don』t know where. How pale you 
are!」 

「I heard the doctor tell them I was dying,」 replied the child, 
with a faint smile. 「I am very glad to see you, dear; but don』t stop, 
don』t stop!」 

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「Yes, yes, I will, to say good-bye to you,」 replied Oliver. 「I shall 
see you again, Dick. I know I shall! You will be well and happy!」 

「I 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-bye, 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 sufferings, and troubles and changes, of his after 
life, he never once forgot it. 

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Chapter 8 

Oliver Walks To London—He Encounters On The
Road A Strange Sort Of Young Gentleman.


O liver 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 how 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 

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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 
comfortable thing, very; 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 wintertime.」 But Oliver』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 roadside. 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 empty 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. 

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He waited at the bottom of a steep hill till a stage-coach came 
up, and then begged of the outside passengers; but 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 outsiders 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 pathway. But the turnpike-man gave him a meal of bread 
and cheese; and the 『old lady, who had a shipwrecked grandson 

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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. 

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 doorstep. 

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, wondering 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 trough, 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 determination 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 

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head, and returned his steady look. Upon this, the boy crossed 

over; and, walking close up to Oliver, said: 

「Hollo, my covey! What』s 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 manners of a man. He was 
short for his age; with rather bow-legs, and little, sharp, ugly eyes. 
His hat was 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. 

「Hollo, my covey! What』s the row?」 said this strange young 
gentleman to Oliver. 

「I am very hungry and tired,」 replied Oliver, the tears 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 compan-i-on.」 

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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 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; a-cos 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 an 
adjacent chandler』s shop, where he purchased a sufficiency of 
ready-dressed ham and a half-quartern loaf, or, as he himself 
expressed it, 「a fourpenny bran;」 the ham being kept clean and 
preserved from dust, by the ingenious expedience 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. 

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「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 tonight, 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 tonight; and I know a 
』spectable old gentleman as lives there, wot』ll give you lodgings for 
nothink, and never ask for the change—that is, if any gentleman 
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 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』 appearance did not say a vast deal in favour of the 

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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 precept 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 further acquaintance. 

As John Dawkins objected to their entering London before 
nightfall, it was nearly seven 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 terminates at Sadler』s 
Wells Theatre; through Exmouth 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 few hasty glances 
on either side of the 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 screaming from the 

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inside. The sole places that seemed to prosper amid the general 
blight of the place, were the public-houses; and in them, the lowest 
orders of Irish were wrangling with might and main. Covered 
ways and yards, where here and there diverged from the main 
street, disclosed little knots of houses, where drunken men and 
women were positively wallowing in filth; and from several of the 
doorways, great ill-looking fellows were cautiously emerging, 
bound, to all appearance, on no very well-disposed or harmless 
errands. 

Oliver was just considering whether he hadn』t better run away, 
when they reached the bottom of the hill. His conductor, 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, thrusting 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 upstairs?」 

「Yes, he』s a-sortin』 the wipes. Up with you!」 The candle was 
drawn back, and the face disappeared. 

Oliver, groping his way with one hand, and having the other 

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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 that he was well acquainted with 
them. He threw open the door of a back room, and drew Oliver in 
after him. 

The walls and ceiling of the room were perfectly black, with age 
and dirt. There was a deal table before the fire: upon which were a 
candle, stuck in a ginger-beer bottle, two or three pewter pots, a 
loaf and butter, and a plate. In a frying-pan, which was on the fire, 
and which was secured to the mantel-shelf by a string, some 
sausages were cooking; and standing over them, with a toasting-
fork in his hand, was a very old, shrivelled Jew, whose villainous-
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 the 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 gentlemen with the 
pipes came round him, and shook both his hands very hard— 

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especially the one in which he held his little bundle. One young 
gentleman was very anxious to 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 further, 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, you』re a-staring at the pocket-handkerchiefs! 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 speech 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 sank into a deep sleep. 

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Chapter 9 

Containing Further Particulars Concerning The
Pleasant Old Gentleman, And His Hopeful Pupils.


It was late next morning when Oliver awoke, from a sound, 
long sleep. There was no other person in the room but the old 
Jew, who was boiling some coffee in a saucepan for breakfast, 
and whistling softly to himself as he stirred it round 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 everything that is passing 
around you, than you would in five nights with your eyes fast 
closed, and your senses wrapped 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 saucepan』s sides; and yet 
the self-same senses were mentally engaged, at the same time, in 
busy action with almost everybody he had ever known. 

When the coffee was done, the Jew drew the saucepan to the 

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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 workmanship, 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: 

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「What a line 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!」 

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. 

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「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. 

「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 gentleman. 

「Stay. There』s a pitcher of water in the corner by the door. 
Bring it here: and I』ll 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, agreeable to the Jew』s 
directions, when the Dodger returned, accompanied by a very 
sprightly young friend, whom Oliver had seen smoking on the 
previous night, and who was now formally introduced to him as 
Charley Bates. The four sat down, to breakfast, on the coffee, and 
some hot rolls and ham which the Dodger had brought home in 
the crown of his hat. 

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「Well,」 said the Jew, glancing slyly at Oliver, and addressing 
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 you got, 
Dodger?」 

「A couple of pocket-books,」 replied that young gentleman. 

「Lined?」 inquired the Jew, with eagerness. 

「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?」 

「Very, 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. 

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Master Bates saw something so exquisitely ludicrous in this 
reply, that he burst into another laugh; which laugh, meeting the 
coffee he was drinking, and carrying it down some wrong channel, 
very nearly terminated in his premature suffocation. 

「He is so jolly green!」 said Charley when he recovered, as an 
apology to the company for his unpolite behaviour. 

The Dodger said nothing, but he smoothed Oliver』s hair over 
his eyes, and said he』d know better, by and by; upon which the old 
gentleman, observing Oliver』s colour mounting, changed the 
subject by asking whether there had been much of a crowd at the 
execution that morning. This made him wonder more and more; 
for it was plain from the replies of the two boys that they had both 
been there; and Oliver 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 tightly round him, and putting his spectacle-case 
and handkerchief 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 fireplace, 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 

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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 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 were rather untidy 
about the shoes and stockings. They were not exactly pretty, 
perhaps; but they had a great deal 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? 

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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 everything they bid you, and take their 
advice in all manners—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 handkerchief 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 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 I』ll 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 
his new study. 

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Chapter 10 

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, with 
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 would 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 permission he had 
so eagerly sought. There had been no handkerchiefs to work upon, 
for two or three days, and the dinners had been rather meagre. 
Perhaps these were reasons for the old gentleman』s giving his 

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assent; but, whether they were or no, he told Oliver he might go, 
and placed him under the joint guardianship of Charley Bates, and 
his friend the Dodger. 

The three boys sallied out; the Dodger with his coat sleeves 
tucked up, and his hat cocked, as usual; Master Bates sauntering 
along with his hands in his pockets; and Oliver between them, 
wondering where they were going, and what branch of 
manufacture he would be instructed in, first. 

The pace at which they went, was such a very lazy, ill-looking 
saunter, that Oliver soon began to think his companions were 
going to deceive the old gentleman, by not going to work at all. 
The Dodger had a vicious propensity, too, of pulling the caps from 
the heads of small boys and tossing them down areas; while 
Charley Bates exhibited some very loose notions concerning the 
rights of property, by pilfering divers apples and onions from the 
stalls at the kennel sides, and thrusting them into pockets which 
were so surprisingly capacious, that they seemed to undermine his 
whole suit of clothes in every direction. These things looked so 
bad, that Oliver was on the point of declaring his intention of 
seeking his way back, in the best way he could; when his thoughts 
were suddenly directed into another channel, by a very mysterious 
change of behaviour on the part of the Dodger. 

They were just emerging from a narrow court not far from the 
open square in Clerkenwell, which is yet called, by some strange 
perversion of terms. 「The Green,」 when the Dodger made a 
sudden stop; and, laying his finger on his lip, drew his companions 
back again, with the greatest caution and circumspection. 

「What』s the matter?」 demanded Oliver. 

「Hush!」 replied the Dodger. 「Do you see that old cove at the 

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book-stall?」 

「The old gentleman over the way?」 said Oliver. 「Yes, I see 
him.」 

「He』ll do,」 said the Dodger. 

「A prime plant,」 observed Master Charley Bates. 

Oliver looked from one to the other, with the greatest surprise; 
but he was not permitted to make any inquiries; for the two boys 
walked stealthily across the road, and slunk close behind the old 
gentleman towards whom his attention had been directed. Oliver 
walked a few paces after them; and, not knowing whether to 
advance or retire, stood looking on in silent amazement. 

The old gentleman was a very respectable-looking personage, 
with a powdered head and gold spectacles. He was dressed in a 
bottle-green coat with a black velvet collar; wore white trousers; 
and carried a smart bamboo cane under his arm. He had taken up 
a book from the stall, and there he stood, reading away, as hard as 
if he were in his elbow-chair, in his own study. It is very possible 
that he fancied himself there, indeed; for it was plain, from his 
abstraction, that he saw not the bookstall, nor the street, nor the 
boys, nor, in short, anything but the book itself; which he was 
reading straight through, turning over the leaf when he got to the 
bottom of a page, beginning at the top line of the next one, and 
going regularly on, with the greatest interest and eagerness. 

What was Oliver』s horror and alarm as he stood a few paces off, 
looking on with his eyelids as wide open as they would possibly go, 
to see the Dodger plunge his hand into the old gentleman』s pocket, 
and draw from thence a handkerchief! To see him hand the same 
to Charley Bates; and finally to behold them, both, running away 
round the corner at full speed! 

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In an instant the whole mystery of the handkerchiefs, and the 
watches, and the jewels, and the Jew, rushed upon the boy』s mind. 
He stood, for a moment, with the blood so tingling through all his 
veins from terror, that he felt as if he were in a burning fire; then, 
confused and frightened, he took to his heels; and, not knowing 
what he did, made off as fast as he could lay his feet to the ground. 

This was all done in a minute』s space. In the very instant when 
Oliver began to run, the old gentleman, putting his hand to his 
pocket, and missing his handkerchief, turned sharp round. Seeing 
the boy scudding away at such a rapid pace, he very naturally 
concluded him to be the depredator; and, shouting 「Stop thief!」 
with all his might, made off after him, book in hand. 

But the old gentleman was not the only person who raised the 
hue-and-cry. The Dodger and Master Bates, unwilling to attract 
public attention by running down the open street, had merely 
retired into the very first doorway round the corner. They no 
sooner heard the cry, and saw Oliver running, than, guessing 
exactly how the matter stood, they issued forth with great 
promptitude; and, shouting 「Stop thief!」 too, joined in the pursuit 
like good citizens. 

Although Oliver had been brought up by philosophers, he was 
not theoretically acquainted with the beautiful axiom that self-
preservation is the first law of nature. If he had been, perhaps he 
would have been prepared for this. Not being prepared, however, 
it alarmed him the more; so away he went like the wind, with the 
old gentleman and the two boys roaring and shouting behind him. 

「Stop thief! Stop thief!」 There is magic in the sound. The 
tradesman leaves his counter, and the carman his wagon; the 
butcher throws down his tray; the baker his basket; the milkman 

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his pail; the errand-boy his parcels; the schoolboy his marbles; the 
pavior his pickaxe; the child his battledore. Away they run, pellmell, helter-skelter, slap-dash; tearing, yelling, screaming, 
knocking down the passengers, as they turn the corners, rousing 
up the dogs, and astonishing the fowls; and streets, squares, and 
courts re-echo with the sound. 

「Stop thief! Stop thief!」 The cry is taken up by a hundred 
voices, and the crowd accumulate at every turning. Away they fly, 
splashing through the mud, and rattling along the pavements; up 
go the windows, out run the people, onward bear the mob, a whole 
audience desert Punch in the very thickest of the plot, and, joining 
the rushing throng, swell the shout, and lend fresh vigour to the 
cry, 「Stop thief! Stop thief!」 

「Stop thief! Stop thief!」 There is a passion for hunting 
something deeply implanted in the human breast. One wretched 
breathless child, panting with exhaustion, terror in his looks, 
agony in his eyes, large drops of perspiration streaming down his 
face, strains every nerve to make head upon his pursuers; and as 
they follow on his track, and gain upon him every instant, they hail 
his decreasing strength with still louder shouts, and whoop and 
scream for joy. 「Stop thief!」 Ay, stop him for God』s sake, were it 
only in mercy! 

Stopped at last! A clever blow! He is down upon the pavement; 
and the crowd eagerly gather round him: each newcomer, jostling 
and struggling with the others to catch a glimpse. 「Stand aside!」 
「Give him a little air!」 「Nonsense! he doesn』t deserve it.」 「Where』s 
the gentleman?」 「Here he is, coming down the street.」 「Make 
room there for the gentleman!」 「Is this the boy, sir?」 「Yes.」 

Oliver lay, covered with mud and dust, and bleeding from the 

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mouth, looking wildly round the heap of faces that surrounded 
him, when the old gentleman was officiously dragged and pushed 
into the circle by the foremost of the pursuers. 

「Yes,」 said the gentleman, 「I am afraid it is the boy.」 

「Afraid!」 murmured the crowd. 「That』s a good 』un!」 

「Poor fellow!」 said the gentleman, 「he has hurt himself.」 

「I did that, sir,」 said a great, lubberly fellow, stepping forward; 
「and preciously I cut my knuckle agin』 his mouth. I stopped him, 
sir.」 

The fellow touched his hat with a grin, expecting something for 
his pains; but the old gentleman, eyeing him with an expression of 
dislike, looked anxiously round, as if he contemplated running 
away himself; which it is very possible he might have attempted to 
do, and thus have afforded 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 was 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?」 

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Oliver, who could hardly stand, made a shift to raise himself 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 ahead, and stared back at Oliver from time to time. The 
boys shouted in triumph; and on they went. 

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Chapter 11 

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 satisfaction 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 court, 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. 

「What』s 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 through a door which 
he unlocked as he spoke, and which led into a stone cell. Here he 

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

This cell was 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 women 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 which 
had been the innocent cause of all this disturbance. 

「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 which a dusky curtain had 
hung for many years. 「No,」 said the old gentleman, shaking his 
head; 「it must be imagination.」 

He wandered over them again. He had called them into view, 
and it was not easy to replace the shroud that had so long 

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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 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 sent 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 of 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 

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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 
perusing a leading article in a newspaper of the morning, 
adverting to some recent decision of his, and commending him, for 
the three hundred and fiftieth time, to the special, and particular 
notice of the 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,」 said 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. 

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「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 Mr. 
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.」 

Mr. Brownlow』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: 

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「Do you mean to state what your complaint against this boy is, 
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 jailer 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. Brownlow 
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.」 

「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. 

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「He says his name』s Tom White, your Worship,」 said the kindhearted 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,」 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 the 
floor in a fainting fit. The men in the office looked at each other, 
but no one dared to stir. 

「I knew he was shamming,」 said Fang, as if this were 
incontestable proof of the fact. 「Let him 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.」 

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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 newcomer, 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 bookstall. 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?」 

「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 committed 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, 

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the worthy bookstall 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 absentminded 
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 bamboo cane in 
the other, in a perfect frenzy of rage and defiance. He reached the 
yard; and his passion vanished for a moment. Little Oliver Twist 
lay on his back on the pavement, with his shirt unbuttoned, and 

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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 bookstall 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 bookstall keeper got into the coach; and away they drove. 

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Chapter 12 

In Which Oliver Is Taken Better 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, down Mount Pleasant and up 
Exmouth Street, 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 

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Oliver. 「This is not the place I went to sleep in.」 

He uttered these words in a feeble voice, being very faint and 
weak; but they were overheard at once; for 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 needlework. 

「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 loving 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 the 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, afterwards, as if 

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they were part and parcel of those features, brought some cool 
stuff for Oliver to drink; and then, patting 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 
in a gentle doze, from which he was awakened by the light of a 
candle; which, being brought near the bed, showed him a 
gentleman with a 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, 
ain』t you?」 

「No, sir!」 answered Oliver. 

「Hem!」 said the gentleman. 「No, I know you』re not. He is not 
hungry, Mrs. Bedwin,」 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,」 said 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. Bedwin,」 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 

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warm, ma』am; but be careful that you don』t let him be too cold; 
will you have the goodness?」 

The 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 wealthy manner as he 
went downstairs. 

Oliver dozed 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 night-cap. 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 fire, and 
went off into a series of short naps, chequered at frequent 
intervals with sundry tumblings forward, and divers moans and 
chokings, which, 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 tracing 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 suffering alone imparts; that calm and peaceful rest which 
it is pain to wake from. Who, if this were death, would be roused 

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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 
recollection of the past! 

It had been bright day, for hours, when Oliver opened his eyes; 
and when he did so, 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 downstairs into the little 
housekeeper』s room, which belonged to her. Having him set, here, 
by the fireside, the good old lady sat herself down too; and, being 
in a state of considerable delight at seeing him so much better, 
forthwith began to cry most violently. 

「Never mind me, my dear,」 cried the old lady. 「I』m only having 
a regular good cry. There; it』s all over now; and I』m 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 basinful of 
broth, strong enough, Oliver thought, to furnish an ample dinner, 
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. 

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「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. 

「Yes,」 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 lady, in 
a good-humoured manner. 「It』s not a likeness of anybody that you 
or I know, I expect. It seems to strike your fancy, dear. 

「It is so very pretty,」 replied Oliver. 

「Why, sure you』re not afraid of it?」 said the old lady, observing, 
in great surprise, the look of awe with which the child regarded 
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; 「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 

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altered his position; but he thought it better not to worry the kind 
old lady; so he smiled gently when she looked at him; and Mrs. 
Bedwin, satisfied that he felt more comfortable, 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 tap 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 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 benefactor, which terminated in his sinking back 
into the chair again; and the fact is, if the truth must be told, that 
Mr. Brownlow』s heart, being large enough for any six ordinary old 
gentlemen of humane disposition, forced a supply of tears into his 
eyes, by some hydraulic process which we are not sufficiently 
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?」 

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『「Very happy, sir,」 replied Oliver. 「And very grateful indeed, 
sir, for your goodness to me.」 

「Good boy,」 said Mr. Brownlow stoutly. 「Have you given him 
any nourishment, Bedwin? Any slops, eh?」 

「He had 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 connection 
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 his motive 
for looking steadily at Oliver no longer existed, the old idea of the 
resemblance between his features and some familiar face came 
upon him so strongly, that he could not withdraw his gaze. 

「I hope you are not angry with me, sir?」 said Oliver, raising his 
eyes beseechingly. 

「No, no,」 replied the old gentleman. 「Why! what』s this? 

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Oliver Twist 121 

Bedwin, look there!」 

As he spoke, he pointed hastily to the picture above Oliver』s 
head, and then to the boy』s face. There was its living copy. The 
eyes, the head, the mouth; every feature was the same. The 
expression was, for the instant, so precisely alike, that the 
minutest line seemed copied with startling accuracy! 

Oliver knew not the cause of this sudden exclamation; for, not 
being strong enough to bear the start it gave him, he fainted away. 
A weakness on his part, which affords the narrative an 
opportunity of relieving the reader from suspense in behalf of the 
two young pupils of the merry old gentleman; and of recording. 

That when the Dodger, and his accomplished friend Master 
Bates, joined in the hue-and-cry which was raised at Oliver』s 
heels, in consequence of their executing an illegal conveyance of 
Mr. Brownlow』s personal property, as has been already described, 
they were actuated by a very laudable and becoming regard for 
themselves; and for as much as the freedom of the subject and the 
liberty of the individual are among the first and proudest boasts of 
a true-hearted Englishman, so I need hardly beg the reader to 
observe, that this action should tend to exalt them in the opinion 
of all public and patriotic men in almost as great a degree as this 
strong proof of their anxiety, for their own preservation and safety 
goes to corroborate and confirm the little code of laws which 
certain profound and sound-judging philosophers have laid down 
as the mainsprings of all Nature』s deeds and actions—the said 
philosophers very wisely reducing the good lady』s proceedings to 
matters of maxim and theory, and, by a very neat and pretty 
compliment to her exalted wisdom and understanding, putting 
entirely out of sight any considerations of heart, or generous 

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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, 

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Master Bates uttered an exclamation of amusement and delight; 
and, bursting into an uncontrollable fit of laughter, flung himself 
upon a door-step, and rolled thereon in a transport of mirth. 

「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 advantage 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 

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Oliver Twist 124 

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 
after the occurrence of this conversation, roused the merry 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 countenance; 「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. 

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Chapter 13 

Some New Acquaintances Are Introduced To The
Intelligent Reader, Connected With Whom, Various
Pleasant Matters Are Related, Appertaining To This
History.


「W here』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 throttle 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 about it,」 said the 
Dodger sullenly. 「Come, let go o』 me, will you!」 And swinging 
himself, at one jerk, clean out of the big coat, which he left in the 
Jew』s hands, the Dodger snatched up the toasting-fork, and made 

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a pass at the merry old gentleman』s waistcoat; which, if it had 
taken effect, would have let a little more merriment out, than 
could have been easily replaced. 

The Jew stepped back, in this emergency, with more agility 
than could have been anticipated in a man of his apparent 
decrepitude; and, seizing up the pot, prepared to hurl it at 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 gentleman. 

「Why, what the blazes is in the wind now!」 growled a deep 
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 somebody. 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 ain』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 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 

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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 torn in twenty 
different places, skulked into the room. 

「Why didn』t you come in afore?」 said the man. 「You』re getting 
too proud to own me afore company, are you? Lie down!」 

This command was accompanied with a kick, which sent the 
animal to the other end of the room. He appeared well used to it, 
however, for he coiled himself up in a corner very quietly, without 
uttering a sound, and, winking his very ill-looking eyes twenty 
times in a minute, appeared to occupy himself in taking a survey 
of the apartment. 

「What are you up to? Ill-treating the boys, you covetous, 
avaricious, in-sa-ti-a-ble old fence?」 said the man, seating himself 
deliberately. 「I wonder they don』t murder you! I would if I was 
them. If I』d been your 』prentice, I』d have done it long ago, and— 
no, I couldn』t have sold you afterwards, 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 disgrace 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—」 

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「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 cant terms, with which his whole 
conversation v. as plentifully besprinkled, but which would be 
quite unintelligible if they were recorded here, demanded a glass 
of liquor. 

「And mind you don』t poison it,」 said Mr. Sikes, laying his hat 
upon the table. 

This was said in jest; but if the speaker could have seen the evil 
leer with which the Jew bit his pale lip as he turns round to the 
cupboard, he might have thought the caution not wholly 
unnecessary, or the wish (at all events) to improve upon the 
distiller』s ingenuity not very far from the old gentleman』s merry 
heart. 

After swallowing two or three glasses of spirits, Mr. Sikes 
condescended to take some notice of the young gentlemen; which 
gracious act led to a conversation, in which the cause and manner 
of Oliver』s capture were circumstantially detailed, with such 
alterations and improvements on the truth, as to the Dodger 
appeared most advisable under the circumstances. 

「I』m afraid,」 said the Jew, 「that he may say something which 
will get us into trouble.」 

「That』s very likely,」 returned Sikes, with a malicious grin. 
「You』re blowed 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 

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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 rather worse 
for you than it would for me, my dear.」 

The man started, and turned round upon the Jew. But the old 
gentleman』s shoulders were shrugged 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 gentleman or lady 
he might encounter in the streets when he went out. 

「Somebody must find out wot』s been done at the office,」 said 
Mr. Sikes, in a much lower tone than he had taken since he came 
in. 

The Jew nodded assent. 

「If he hasn』t peached, and is committed, there』s no fear till he 
comes out again,」 said Mr. Sikes, 「and then he must be taken care 
on. You must get hold of him somehow.」 

Again the Jew nodded. 

The prudence of this line of action, indeed, was obvious; but, 
unfortunately, there was one very strong objection to it being 
adopted. This was, that the Dodger, and Charley Bates, and Fagin, 
and Mr. William Sikes, happened, one and all, to entertain a 
violent and deeply-rooted antipathy to going near a police-office 
on any ground or pretext whatever. 

How long they might have sat and looked at each other, in a 
state of uncertainty not the most pleasant of its kind, it is difficult 
to guess. It is not necessary to make any guesses on the subject, 
however; for the sudden entrance of the two young ladies whom 

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Oliver had seen on a former occasion, caused the conversation to 
flow afresh. 

「The very thing!」 said the Jew. 「Bet will go; won』t you, my 
dear?」 

「Wheres?」 inquired the young lady. 

「Only just up to the office, my dear,」 said the Jew coaxingly. 

It is due to the young lady to say that she did not positively 
affirm that she would not, but that she merely expressed an 
emphatic and earnest desire to be 「blessed」 if she would; a polite 
and delicate evasion of the request which shows the young lady to 
have been possessed of that natural good-breeding which cannot 
bear to inflict upon a fellow-creature, the pain of a direct and 
pointed refusal. 

The Jew』s countenance fell. He turned from this young lady, 
who was gaily, not to say gorgeously, attired, in a red gown, green 
boots, and yellow curl-papers, to the other female. 

「Nancy, my dear,」 said the Jew, in a soothing manner, 「what do 
you say?」 

「That it won』t do; so it』s no use a-trying it on, Fagin,」 replied 
Nancy. 

「What do you mean by that?」 said Mr. Sikes, looking up in a 
surly manner. 

「What I say, Bill,」 replied the lady collectedly. 

「Why, you』re 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. 

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Oliver Twist 131 

「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 agreeable 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 
acquaintances. 

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 genuine 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. 「What has 
become of him! Where have they taken him to! Oh, do have pity, 
and tell me what』s been done with the dear boy, gentlemen; do, 
gentlemen, if you please, gentlemen!」 

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Having uttered these words in a most lamentable and heartbroken 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 an 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 

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to the next cell, and knocked there. 

「Well!」 cried a faint and feeble voice. 

「Is 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, another man, who 
was going to the same prison for hawking tin saucepans without a 
licence; 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. 

「I 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 gentleman?」 
exclaimed Nancy. 

In reply to this incoherent questioning, 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 

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Oliver Twist 134 

Pentonville, he having heard that word mentioned in the 
directions to the coachman. 

In a dreadful state of doubt and uncertainty, the agonised 
young woman staggered to the gate, and then, exchanging her 
faltering walk for a good, swift, steady run, returned by the most 
devious and complicated route she could think of, to the domicile 
of the Jew. 

Mr. Bill Sikes no sooner heard the account of the expedition 
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 his shop 
tonight. 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 keyhole. 

「What now?」 cried the Jew impatiently. 

「Is he to be kidnapped to the other ken, Nancy says?」 inquired 

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Oliver Twist 135 

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 
downstairs 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.」 

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Oliver Twist 136 

Chapter 14 

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.


O liver 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 gentleman 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.」 

「Well, well!」 said the old lady good-humouredly; 「you get well 

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Oliver Twist 137 

as fast as ever you can, dear, and it shall be hung up 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 handsome 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 learned 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. 

These were happy days, those of Oliver』s recovery. Everything 
was so quiet, and neat, and orderly; everybody so kind and gentle; 
that after the noise and turbulence in the midst of which he had 
always lived, it seemed like heaven itself. He was 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 

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Oliver Twist 138 

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 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 

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Oliver Twist 139 

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 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.」 

「I suppose they are those heavy ones, sir,」 said Oliver, pointing 
to some large quartos, with a good deal of gilding about 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?」 

「I 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 you, while there』s an 

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Oliver Twist 140 

honest trade to be learned, 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 known him assume yet, 「I want you to pay 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 came 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.」 

「I never, never will, sir,」 interposed Oliver. 

「I hope not,」 rejoined the old gentleman. 「I 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 

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Oliver Twist 141 

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. 

「Well, 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—where you come from; who brought you up; and how you 
got into the company in which I found you. Speak the truth; and 
you shall not be friendless while I live.」 

Oliver』s sobs checked his utterance for some minutes; when he 
was on the point of beginning to relate how he had been brought 
up at the farm, and carried to the workhouse by Mr. Bumble, a 
peculiarly impatient little double-knock was heard at the street 
door; and the servant, running upstairs, 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 said 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 mind 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 downstairs, sir?」 inquired Oliver. 

「No,」 replied Mr. Brownlow, 「I would rather you remained At 
this moment, there walked into the room, supporting himself by a 

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Oliver Twist 142 

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 hat, with the sides turned up 
with green. A very small-plated 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: 

「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 staircase? 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 improvements being ever 
brought to that pass which will enable a gentleman to eat his own 
head in the event of his being go 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 

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Oliver Twist 143 

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 young 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 strongly 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 know it』s put 
there by the surgeon』s boy at the corner. 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 mantrap!』 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 friend, 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 eyeglass, which he wore attached to a broad, 

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Oliver Twist 144 

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 
downstairs 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! The wretch!」 

「Come,」 said Mr. Brownlow, 「these are not the characteristics 
of young Oliver Twist; so he needn』t excite your wrath.」 

「They are not,」 replied Mr. Grimwig. 「He may have worse.」 

Here, 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? 

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Bad people have fevers sometimes; 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 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 particular 
account of the life and adventures of Oliver Twist?」 asked Mr. 
Grimwig of Mr. Brownlow, at the conclusion of the meal, looking 

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sideways at Oliver, as he resumed the subject. 

「Tomorrow morning,」 replied Mr. Brownlow. 「I would rather 
he was alone with me at the time. Come up to me tomorrow 
morning at ten o』clock, my dear.」 

「Yes, sir,」 replied Oliver. He answered with some hesitation 
because he was confused by Mr. Grimwig』s looking so hard at 
hum. 

「I』ll tell you what,」 whispered that gentleman to Mr. Brownlow; 
「he won』t come up to you tomorrow 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 book-stall 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. 
Brownlow; 「there is something to go back.」 

「He has gone, sir,」 replied Mrs. Bedwin. 

「Call after him,」 said Mr. Brownlow; 「it』s particular. He is a 
poor man, and they are not paid for. There are some books to be 

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taken back, too.」 

The street door was opened. Oliver ran one way; and the girl 
ran another; and Mr. 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. Brownlow; 
「I particularly wished those books to be returned tonight.」 

「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 

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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 which Oliver said he 
clearly understood, and having 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 was worthy of remark, as illustrating the importance we 

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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 unfeignedly 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 old gentlemen continued to sit, in 
silence, with the watch between them. 

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Chapter 15 

Showing How Very Fond Of Oliver Twist, The
Merry Old Jew And Miss Nancy Were.


In the obscure parlour of a low public-house, situated in the 
filthiest part of Little Saffron Hill—a dark and gloomy den, 
where a flaring gas-light burned all day in the wintertime, and 
where no ray of sun ever shone in the summer—there sat, 
brooding over a little pewter measure and a small glass, strongly 
impregnated with the smell of liquor, a man in a velveteen coat, 
drab shorts, half-boots and stockings, whom even by that dim light 
no experienced agent of police would have hesitated to recognise 
as Mr. William Sikes. At his feet sat a white-coated, red-eyed dog, 
who occupied himself, alternately, in winking at his master with 
both eyes at the same time, and in licking a large, fresh cut on one 
side of his mouth, which appeared to be the result of some recent 
conflict. 

「Keep quiet, you varmint! Keep quiet!」 said Mr. Sikes, 
suddenly breaking silence. Whether his meditations were so 
intense as to be disturbed by the dog』s winking, or whether his 
feelings were so wrought upon by his reflections that they 
required all the relief derivable from kicking an unoffending 
animal to allay them, is matter for argument and consideration. 
Whatever was the cause, the effect was a kick and a curse 
bestowed upon the dog simultaneously. 

Dogs are not generally apt to revenge injuries inflicted upon 
them by their masters; but Mr. Sikes』s dog, having faults of temper 

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in common with his owner, and labouring, perhaps, at this 
moment, under a powerful sense of injury, made no more ado but 
at once fixed his teeth in one of the half-boots. Having given it a 
hearty shake, he retired, growling, under a form; thereby just 
escaping the pewter measure which Mr. Sikes levelled at his head. 

「You would, would you—?」 said Sikes, seizing the poker in one 
hand, and deliberately opening with the other a large clasp-knife, 
which he drew from his pocket. 「Come here, you born devil! Come 
here! D』ye hear?」 

The dog no doubt heard, because Mr. Sikes spoke in the very 
harshest key of a very harsh voice; but, appearing to entertain 
some unaccountable objection to having his throat cut, he 
remained where he was and growled more fiercely than before, at 
the same time grasping the end of the poker between his teeth, 
and biting at it like a wild beast. 

This resistance only infuriated Mr. Sikes the more; who, 
dropping on his knees, began to assail the animal most furiously. 
The dog jumped from right to left, and from left to right— 
snapping, growling, and barking; the man thrust and swore, and 
struck and blasphemed; and the struggle was reaching a most 
critical point for one or other, when the door suddenly opening, 
the dog darted out; leaving Bill Sikes with the poker and the clasp-
knife in his hands. 

There must always be two parties to a quarrel, says the old 
adage. Mr. Sikes, being disappointed of the dog』s participation, at 
once transferred his share in the quarrel to the newcomer. 

「What the devil do you come in between me and my dog for?」 
said Sikes, with a fierce gesture. 

「I didn』t know, my dear, I didn』t know,」 replied Fagin humbly; 

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for the Jew was the newcomer. 

「Didn』t know, you white-livered thief!」 growled Sikes. 
「Couldn』t you hear the noise?」 

「Not a sound of it, as I』m a living man, Bill,」 replied the Jew. 

「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, Fagin, half a minute 
ago.」 

「Why?」 inquired the Jew, with a forced smile. 

「』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, 
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! If I go, 
you go; so take care of me.」 

「Well, well, my dear,」 said the Jew. I know all that; we—we— 
have a mutual interest, Bill—a mutual interest.」 

「Humph,」 said Sikes, as if he thought the interest lay rather 
more on the Jew』s side than on his. 「Well, what have you got to say 
to me?」 

「It』s all passed safe through the melting-pot,」 replied Fagin, 
「and this is your share. It』s rather more than it ought to be my 
dear; but as I know you』ll do me a good turn another time, and—」 

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Oliver Twist 153 

「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; and 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 it contained. 

「This is all, is it?」 inquired Sikes. 

「All,」 replied the Jew. 

「You haven』t opened the parcel and swallowed one or two as 
you come along, have you?」 inquired Sikes suspiciously 「Don』t 
put on an injured look at the question; you』ve done it many a time. 
Jerk the tinkler.」 

These words, in plain English, conveyed an injunction to ring 
the bell. It was answered by another Jew, younger than Fagin, but 
nearly as vile and repulsive in appearance. 

Bill Sikes merely pointed to the empty measure. The Jew, 
perfectly understanding the hint, retired to fill it; previously 
exchanging a remarkable look with Fagin, who raised his eyes for 
an instant, as if in expectation of it, and 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 was looking on, without raising his eyes from the ground. 

「Dot a shoul,」 replied Barney; whose words, whether they 

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Oliver Twist 154 

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 tell the truth. 

「Dobody but Biss Dadsy,」 replied Barney. 

「Nancy!」 exclaimed Sikes. 「Where? Strike me blind, if I don』t 
honour that 』ere girl, for her native talents.」 

「She』s bid havid a plate of boiled beef id the bar,」 replied 
Barney. 

「Send her here,」 said Sikes, pouring out a glass of liquor. 
「Send her here.」 

Barney looked timidly at Fagin, as if for permission; the Jew 
remaining silent, and not lifting his eyes from the ground, 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 Fagin, looking up. 

Now, whether a peculiar contraction of the Jew』s red eyebrows, 
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, 

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and declared it was time to go. Mr. Sikes, finding that he was 
walking a short part of her way himself, expressed his intention of 
accompanying her; and 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, reseated 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 bookstall. When he got into Clerkenwell, he accidentally 
turned down a by-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 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 right 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 lamentations 
from the young woman who had embraced him, and who had a 

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little basket and a street door key in her hand. 

「Oh, my gracious!」 said the young woman. 「I』ve found him! Oh! 
Oliver! Oliver! Oh, you naughty boy, to make me suffer such 
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 of the women. 

「Oh, ma』am,」 replied the young woman, 「he ran away, near a 
month ago, from his parents, who are hard-working and 
respectable people, and went and joined a set of thieves and bad 
characters, and almost broke his mother』s heart.」 

「Young wretch!」 said the woman. 

「Go home, do, you little brute,」 said the other. 

「I』m 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 

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Oliver Twist 157 

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?」 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! 
What books are these? You』ve been a-stealin』 』em, have you? Give 
』em here.」 With these words, 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, administering 
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 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, wholly 

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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. 

***** 

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, with the 
watch between them. 

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Chapter 16 

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!」 said 
Sikes, regarding the animal with a kind of grim and ferocious 
approval. 「Now, you know what you』ve got to expect, master, so 
call away as quick as you like; the dog will soon stop that game. 

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Oliver Twist 160 

Get on, young 』un!」 

Bull』s-eye wagged his tail in acknowledgement of this unusually 
endearing form of speech; and, giving vent to another admonitory 
growl for the benefit of Oliver, led the way onward. 

It was Smithfield 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 

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Oliver Twist 161 

young chaps! Well, they』re as good as dead, so it don』t matter 
much.」 

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 haven』t a shawl to cover me.」 

「And what good would that do?」 inquired the unsentimental 
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. 

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Oliver Twist 162 

Nancy stooped below the shutters; and Oliver heard the sound 
of a bell. They crossed to the opposite side of the street and stood 
for a few moments under a lamp. A noise, as if a sash-window 
were gently raised, was heard; and soon afterwards the door softly 
opened. Mr. Sikes then seized the terrified boy by the collar with 
very little ceremony; and all three were quickly inside the house. 

The passage was perfectly dark. They waited, while the person 
who had let him in chained and barred the door. 

「Anybody 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 you do! 
That』s all.」 

「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-

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smelling room, which seemed to have been built in a small backyard 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 the Jew, taking off his nightcap, made a great number of low bows to the bewildered boy. The 
Artful, meantime, who 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. 

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「Hallo! What』s this?」 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 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 ain』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 

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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 Jews 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 happened 
better, if we had chosen our time!」 

「Of course it couldn』t,」 replied Sikes; 「I know』d that, directly I 
see him coming through Clerkenwell, with the books under his 
arm. It』s all right enough. They』re 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. 

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「Keep back the dog, Bill!」 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 housekeeper flung the girl from him to the farther 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 threatening 
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 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 

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fireplace; 「eh?」 

Oliver made no reply. 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. 「We』ll 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 glowing coal whirling out into the 
room. 

「I won』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 tonight. 
Ha! ha! my dear, you are 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, especially if she add 
to all her other strong passions, the fierce impulses of recklessness 

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and despair, which 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. 

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「You』re a nice one,」 added Sikes, as he surveyed her with a 
contemptuous air, 「to take up the humane and genteel 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 changed places 
with them we passed so near tonight, 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; 「we 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 pacification 
「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 worse than that, if you say much more!」 

The girl said nothing; but, tearing her hair and dress in a 

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transport of frenzy, 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 if it were a relief to 
have the disturbance over; but neither he, nor Sikes nor the dog, 
nor the boys, seemed to consider it in any other light than a 
common occurrence incidental to business. 

「It』s the worst of having to do with women,」 said the Jew, 
replacing his club; 「but they』re clever and we can』t get on, in our 
line, without 』em. Charley, show Oliver to bed.」 

「I suppose he』d better not wear his best clothes tomorrow, 
Fagin, had he?」 inquired Charley Bates. 

「Certainly not,」 replied the Jew, reciprocating the grin with 
which Charley put the question. 

Master Bates, apparently much delighted with his commission, 
took the cleft stick, and led Oliver into an adjacent kitchen, where 
there were two or three of the beds on which he had slept before; 
and here, with many uncontrollable bursts of laughter, he 
produced the identical old suit of clothes which Oliver had so 
much congratulated himself upon leaving off at Mr. Brownlow』s; 
and the accidental display of which, to Fagin, by the Jew who 
purchased them, had been the very first clue received of his 
whereabouts. 

「Pull off the smart ones,」 said Charles, 「and I』ll give 』em to 
Fagin to take care of. What fun it is!」 

Poor Oliver unwillingly complied. Master Bates, rolling up the 

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new clothes under his arm, departed from the room, leaving Oliver 
in the dark, and locking the door behind him. 

The noise of Charley』s laughter, and the voice of Miss Betsy, 
who opportunely arrived to throw water over her friend, and 
perform other feminine offices for the promotion of her recovery, 
might have kept many people awake under more happy 
circumstances than those in which Oliver was placed. But he was 
sick and weary; and he soon fell sound asleep. 

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Oliver Twist 172 

Chapter 17 

Oliver』s destiny continuing unpropitious, brings a 
great man to London to injure his reputation. 

It is the custom on the stage, in all good murderous 
melodramas, to present the tragic and the comic scenes in as 
regular alternation, as the layers of red and white in a side of 
streaky bacon. The hero sinks upon his straw bed, weighed down 
by fetters and misfortunes; in the next scene, his faithful but 
unconscious squire regales the audience with a comic song. We 
behold, with throbbing bosoms, the heroine in the grasp of a 
proud and ruthless baron, her virtue and her life alike in danger, 
drawing forth her dagger to preserve the one at the cost of the 
other; and, just as our expectations are wrought up to the highest 
pitch, a whistle is heard, and we are straightway transported to 
the great hall of the castle, where a grey-headed seneschal sings a 
funny chorus with a funnier body of vassals, who are free of all 
sorts of places, from church vaults to palaces, and roam about in 
company, carolling perpetually. 

Such changes appear absurd; but they are not so unnatural as 
they would seem at first sight. The transitions in real life from 
well-spread boards to deathbeds, and from mourning weeds to 
holiday garments, are not a whit less startling; only, there, we are 
busy actors, instead of passive lookers-on, which makes a vast 
difference. The actors in the mimic life of the theatre, are blind to 
violent transitions and abrupt impulses of passion or feeling, 
which, presented before the eyes of mere spectators, are at once 

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Oliver Twist 173 

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 
directly 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 would 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 shopkeepers and others who spoke to him, deferentially, as he passed 
along. He 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. 

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「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.」 

The first sentence was addressed to Susan; and the 
exclamations 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. 「A 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. 

「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: 

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「Mrs. Mann, I am a-going to London.」 

「Lauk, Mr. Bumble!」 cried Mrs. Mann, starting back. 

「To London, ma』am,」 resumed the inflexible beadle, 「by 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 dispose to the matter before the quarter-sessions at 
Clerkinwell. And I very much question,」 added Mr. Bumble, 
drawing himself up, 「whether the Clerkenwell Sessions will not 
find themselves in the wrong box before they have done with me.」 

「Oh! you mustn』t be too hard upon them, sir,」 said Mrs. Mann 
coaxingly. 

「The Clerkinwell Sessions have brought it upon themselves, 
ma』am,」 replied Mr. Bumble; 「and if the Clerkinwell Sessions find 
that they come off rather worse than they expected, the 
Clerkenwell Sessions have only themselves to thank.」 

There was so much determination and depth of purpose about 
the menacing manner 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 

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I think we shall be able to do, if they don』t die upon the road to 
spite us. Ha! ha! ha!」 

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 very 
much obliged to you, I』m sure.」 

Mr. Bumble nodded, blandly, in acknowledgement of Mrs. 
Mann』s curtsey; and inquired how the children were. 

「Bless their dear little hearts!」 said Mrs. Mann, with 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 

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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 somebody that can write, 
would put a few words down for me on a piece of paper, and fold it 
up and seal it, and keep it for me, after I am laid in the ground.」 

「Why, what does the boy mean?」 exclaimed Mr. Bumble, on 
whom the earnest manner and wan aspect of the child had made 
some impression, accustomed as he was to such things. 「What do 
you mean, sir?」 

「I should like,」 said the child, 「to leave my dear love to poor 
Oliver Twist; and to let him know how often I have sat by myself 

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and cried to think of his wandering about in the dark nights with 
nobody to help him. And I should like to tell him,」 said the child, 
pressing his small hands together, and speaking with great 
fervour, 「that I was glad to die when I was very young; for, 
perhaps, if I had lived to be a man, and had grown old, my little 
sister, who is in heaven, might forget me, or be unlike me; and it 
would be so much happier if we were both children there 
together.」 

Mr. Bumble surveyed the little speaker from head to foot, with 
indescribable astonishment; and, turning to his companion, said, 
「They』re all in one story, Mrs. Mann. That outdacious Oliver has 
demogalised them all!」 

「I couldn』t have believed it, sir!」 said Mrs. Mann, holding up 
her hands, and looking malignantly at Dick. 「I never see such a 
hardened little wretch!」 

「Take him away, ma』am!」 said Mr. Bumble imperiously. 「This 
must be stated to the Board, Mrs. Mann.」 

「I hope the gentlemen will understand that it isn』t my fault, 
sir?」 said Mrs. Mann, whimpering pathetically. 

「They shall understand that, ma』am; they shall be acquainted 
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 
greatcoat with a cape to it, took his place on the outside of the 
coach, accompanied by the criminals whose settlement was 

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disputed; with whom, in due course of time, he arrived in London. 
He experienced no other crosses on the way, than those which 
originated in the perverse behaviour of the two paupers, who 
persisted 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 
greatcoat 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 not since been heard of. The above reward will be paid to 
any person who will give such information 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. 

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Oliver Twist 180 

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. 

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 upstairs 
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 

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Oliver Twist 181 

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,」 observed Mr Grimwig, aside to his friend; 「I knew 
he was. A beadle all over!」 

Mr Brownlow gently shook his head to impose silence on his 
friend, and resumed: 

「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 words 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. 

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Oliver Twist 182 

It would be tedious if given in the beadle』s words, occupying 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; and folding 
his arms again, awaited Mr. Brownlow』s observations. 

「I fear it is all too true,」 said the old gentleman sorrowfully, 
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 boy.」 

It is not improbable that if Mr. Bumble had been possessed of 
this information at an earlier period of the interview, he 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 energetically. 

「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 

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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, who 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 pretence, mind! You may leave 
the room, Mrs. Bedwin. Remember! I am in earnest.」 

There were sad hearts at Mr. Brownlow』s that night. 

Oliver』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. 

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Oliver Twist 184 

Chapter 18 

How Oliver Passed His Time In The Improving
Society Of His Reputable Friends.


About noon next day, when the Dodger and Master Bates 
had gone out to pursue their customary avocations, Mr. 
Fagin took the opportunity of reading Oliver a long 
lecture on the crying sin of ingratitude; of which he clearly 
demonstrated he had been guilty, to no ordinary extent, in wilfully 
absenting himself from the society of his anxious friends; and, still 
more, in endeavouring to escape from them after so much trouble 
and expense had been incurred in his recovery. Mr. Fagin laid 
great stress on the fact of his having taken Oliver in, and cherished 
him, when, without his timely aid, he might have perished with 
hunger; and he related the dismal and affecting history of a young 
lad whom, in his philanthropy, he had succoured under parallel 
circumstances, but who, proving unworthy of his confidence and 
evincing a desire to communicate with the police, had 
unfortunately come to be hanged at the Old Bailey one morning. 
Mr. Fagin did not seek to conceal his share in the catastrophe, but 
lamented, with tears in his eyes, that the wrong-headed and 
treacherous behaviour of the young person in question, had 
rendered it necessary that he should become the victim of certain 
evidence for the Crown; which, if it were not precisely true, was 
indispensably necessary for the safety of him (Mr. Fagin) and a 
few select friends. Mr. Fagin concluded by drawing a rather 
disagreeable picture of the discomforts of hanging; and, with great 

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Oliver Twist 185 

friendliness and politeness of manner, expressed his anxious 
hopes that he might never be obliged to submit Oliver Twist to 
that unpleasant operation. 

Little Oliver』s blood ran cold, as he listened to the Jew』s words, 
and imperfectly comprehended the dark threats conveyed in 
them. That it was possible even for justice itself to confound the 
innocent with the guilty when they were in accidental 
companionship, he knew already; and that deeply-laid plans for 
the destruction of inconveniently knowing or over-communicative 
persons, had been really devised and carried out by the old Jew on 
more occasions than one, he thought by no means unlikely, when 
he recollected the general nature of the altercations between that 
gentleman and Mr. Sikes: which seemed to bear reference to some 
foregone conspiracy of the kind. As he glanced timidly up, and met 
the Jew』s searching look, he felt that his pale face and trembling 
limbs were neither unnoticed nor unrelished by that wary old 
gentleman. 

The Jew smiled hideously; and patting Oliver on the head, said, 
that if he kept himself quiet, and applied himself to business, he 
saw they would be very good friends yet. Then, taking his hat, and 
covering himself with an old patched greatcoat, he went out, and 
locked the room door behind him. 

And so Oliver remained all that day, and for the greater part of 
many subsequent days, seeing nobody, between early morning 
and midnight, and left during the long hours to commune with his 
own thoughts: which, never failing to revert to his kind friends, 
and the opinion they must long ago have formed of him, were sad 
indeed. 

After the lapse of a week or so, the Jew left the room door 

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unlocked; and he was at liberty to wander about the house. 

It was a very dirty place. The rooms upstairs had great high 
wooden chimney-pieces and large doors, with panelled walls, and 
cornices to the ceilings; which, although they were black with 
neglect and dust, were ornamented in various ways; from 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 
described 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 a parapet-wall of a distant 
house: but it was quickly withdrawn again; and as the window of 
Oliver』s observation was nailed down, and dimmed with the rain 

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Oliver Twist 187 

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 (which to do him justice, was by no means an 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, and 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.」 Which 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 off, 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 tinctured, for the nonce, with a spice of romance and 

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Oliver Twist 188 

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 
abstractions, and half to Mr. 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 a th— 
You』re one, are you not?」 inquired Oliver, checking himself. 

「I am,」 replied the Dodger. 「I』d 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 preaching,」 added Charley Bates. 

「He wouldn』t so much as bark in a witness-box, for fear of 
committing himself; no, nor 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!」 

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Oliver Twist 189 

「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』s 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 profession 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. 

「And so be able to retire on your property, and do the genteel, 
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 spirit? 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 

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Oliver Twist 190 

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 halfpence; 「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!」 

「It』s 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, 

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Oliver Twist 191 

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 eves. 

「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 
admonitions 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 
fogles 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-handkerchiefs 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 』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 

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Oliver Twist 192 

Dodger』s word for it. Ha! ha! ha! He understands the catechism of 
his trade.」 

The old man rubbed his hands gleefully together, as he 
corroborated the Dodger』s reasoning in these terms; and chuckled 
with delight at his pupil』s proficiency. 

The conversation proceeded no further 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 the young gentleman which 
seemed to indicate that he felt himself conscious of a slight 
inferiority in point of genius and professional acquirements. 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 burned 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 had not touched a drop of anything 

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Oliver Twist 193 

for forty-two mortal long hard-working 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 contemptuous 
look at Oliver. 

「A 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 come 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 with Fagin, 
and withdrew. 

After some words apart between the last comer 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, and 
amiability of Charles 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 

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Oliver Twist 194 

old man would tell them stories of robberies he had committed in 
his younger days; mixed up with so much that was droll and 
curious, that Oliver could not help laughing heartily, and showing 
that he was amused in spite of all his better feelings. 

In short, the wily old Jew had the boy in his toils; and having 
prepared his mind, by solitude and gloom, to prefer any society to 
the companionship of his own sad thoughts in such a dreary place, 
was now slowly instilling into his soul the poison which he hoped 
would blacken it, and change its hue for ever. 

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Oliver Twist 195 

Chapter 19 

In Which A Notable Plan Is Discussed And
Determined On.


It was a chill, damp, windy night, when the Jew, buttoning his 
greatcoat 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 off 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 
ways, until he reached Bethnal Green; then, turning suddenly off 
to the left, he soon became involved in a maze of the mean and 

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dirty streets which abound in that close and densely populated 
quarter. 

The Jew was evidently too familiar with the ground he 
traversed to be at all bewildered, either by the darkness of the 
night, or the intricacies of the way. He hurried through several 
alleys and streets, and at length turned into one, lighted only by a 
single lamp at the farther end. At the door of a house in this street, 
he knocked; and having exchanged a few muttered words with the 
person who opened it, he walked upstairs. 

A dog growled as he touched the handle of a room door; and a 
man』s voice demanded who was there. 

「Only me, Bill; only me, my dear,」 said the Jew, looking in. 

「Bring in your body then,」 said Sikes. 「Lie down, you stupid 
brute! Don』t you know the devil when he』s got a greatcoat 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 its reception; for Mr. Fagin 
and his young friend had not met, since she had interfered 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 
off 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. 

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Oliver Twist 197 

「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. 

「It must be a piercer, if it finds its way through your 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 
carcass shivering in that way, like a ugly ghost just rose from the 
grave.」 

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, thank ye, 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. 

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「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 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 voice 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!」 

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「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; and, if you were to give 』em five 
hundred pound, they wouldn』t be in it.」 

「But do you mean to say, my dear,」 remonstrated the Jew, 
「that the women can』t be got over?」 

「Not a bit of it,」 replied Sikes. 

「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 moustachios 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 ruminating 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, 
ait』s a sad thing, my dear, to lose so much when we had set our 
hearts upon it.」 

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「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 villainy 
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 I were over 
the garden wall the night afore last, sounding the panels of the 
door and shutters. The crib』s barred up 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, yes,」 said the Jew, bending his head forward with his eyes 
almost staring 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 what 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.」 

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「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 a panel, eh?」 

「Never mind wot it is!」 replied Sikes. 「I want a boy, and he 
mustn』t be a big 』un. Lord!」 said Sikes reflectively, 「if I』d 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 earning money, teaches him 
to read and write, and in times makes 』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 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 

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what he is 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?」 

「I 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,」 replied the Jew. 

At this confession, Miss Nancy burst into a loud laugh; and, 
swallowing a glass of brandy, shook her head with 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 reassuring 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!」 

「What about him?」 demanded Sikes. 

「He』s the boy for you, my dear,」 replied the Jew, in a hoarse 
whisper, laying his finger on the side of his nose, and grinning 
frightfully. 

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「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 it』s 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,」 interposed 
the Jew; 「he can』t help himself. That is, if you frighten him 
enough.」 

「Frighten him!」 echoed Sikes. 「It』ll be no sham frightening, 
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, 

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「wot makes you take so much pains about one chalk-faced kid, 
when you know there are fifty boys snoozing about Common 
Garden every night, as you might pick and choose from?」 

「Because they』re of no use to me, my dear,」 replied the Jew, 
with some confusion, a 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 tomorrow,」 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 

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tomorrow 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 evening 
when the night had set in, and bring Oliver away with her; Fagin 
craftily observing, that, if he evinced any disinclination 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 (If 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, any 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 implements 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. 

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「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 downstairs. 

「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 wears when 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 away. 「Tomorrow. 

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Tomorrow.」 

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Chapter 20 

Wherein Oliver Is Delivered Over To Mr. William
Sikes.


When Oliver awoke in the morning, he was a good deal 
surprised to find that a new pair of shoes, with strong, 
thick soles, had been placed at his bedside, and that his 
old shoes had been removed. At first, he was pleased with the 
discovery, hoping that it might be the forerunner of his release; 
but such thoughts were quickly dispelled, on his sitting down to 
breakfast along with the Jew, who told him, in a tone and manner 
which increased his alarm, that he was to be taken to the 
residence of Bill Sikes that night. 

「To—to—stop there, sir?」 asked Oliver anxiously. 

「No, no, my dear. Not to stop there,」 replied the Jew. 「We 
shouldn』t like to lose you. Don』t be afraid, Oliver, you shall come 
back to us again. Ha! ha! ha! We won』t be so cruel as to send you 
away, my dear. Oh, no no!」 

The old man, who was stooping over the fire toasting a piece of 
bread, looked round as he bantered Oliver thus; and chuckled as if 
to show that he knew he would still be very glad to get away if he 
could. 

「I suppose,」 said the Jew, fixing his eyes on Oliver, 「you want 
to know what you』re going to Bill』s for—eh, my dear?」 

Oliver coloured, involuntarily, to find that the old thief had 
been reading his thoughts; but boldly said, Yes, he did want to 
know. 

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「Why, do you think?」 inquired Fagin, parrying the question. 

「Indeed I don』t know, sir,」 replied Oliver. 

「Bah!」 said the Jew, turning away with a disappointed 
countenance from a close perusal of the boy』s face. 「Wait till Bill 
tells you, then.」 

The Jew seemed much vexed by Oliver』s not expressing any 
greater curiosity on the subject; but the truth is, that, although 
Oliver felt very anxious, he was too much confused by the earnest 
cunning of Fagin』s looks, and his own speculations, to make any 
further inquiries just then. He had no other opportunity, for the 
Jew remained very surly and silent till night, when he prepared to 
go abroad. 

「You may burn a candle,」 said the Jew, putting one upon the 
table. 「And here』s a book for you to read, till they come to fetch 
you. Good-night!」 

「Good-night!」 replied Oliver softly. 

The Jew walked to the door, looking over his shoulder at the 
boy as he went. Suddenly stopping, he called him by his name. 

Oliver looked up; the Jew, pointing to the candle, motioned him 
to light it. He did so; and, as he placed the candlestick upon the 
table, saw that the Jew was gazing fixedly at him, with lowering 
and contracted brows, from the dark end of the room. 

「Take heed, Oliver! take heed!」 said the old man, shaking his 
right hand before him in a warning manner. 「He』s a rough man, 
and thinks nothing of blood when his Own is up. Whatever falls 
out, say nothing; and do what he bids you. Mind!」 Placing a strong 
emphasis on the last word, he suffered his features gradually to 
resolve themselves into a ghastly grin, and, nodding his head, left 
the room. 

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Oliver leaned his head upon his hand when the old man 
disappeared, and pondered, with a trembling heart, on the words 
he had just heard. The more he thought of the Jew』s admonition, 
the more he was at a loss to divine its real purpose and meaning. 
He could think of no bad object to be attained by sending him to 
Sikes, which would not be equally well answered by his remaining 
with Fagin; and after meditating for a long time, concluded that he 
had been selected to perform some ordinary menial offices for the 
housebreaker, until another boy, better suited for his purpose, 
could be engaged. He was too well accustomed to suffering, and 
had suffered too much where he was, to bewail the prospect of 
change very severely. He remained lost in thought for some 
minutes; and then, with a heavy sigh, snuffed the candle, and, 
taking up the book which the Jew had left with him, began to read. 

He turned over the leaves carelessly at first; but, lighting on a 
passage which attracted his attention he soon became intent upon 
the volume. It was a history of the lives and trials of great 
criminals; and the pages were soiled and thumbed with use. Here, 
he read of dreadful crimes that made the blood run cold; of secret 
murders that had been committed by the lonely wayside; of bodies 
hidden from the eye of man in deep pits and wells: which would 
not keep them down, deep as they were, but had yielded them up 
at last, after many years, and so maddened the murderers with the 
sight, that in their horror they had confessed their guilt, and yelled 
for the gibbet to end their agony. Here, too, he read of men who, 
lying in their beds at dead of night, had been tempted (as they 
said) and led on, by their own bad thoughts, to such dreadful 
bloodshed as it made the flesh creep, and the limbs quail, to think 
of. The terrible descriptions were so real and vivid, that the sallow 

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pages seemed to turn red with gore; and the words upon them, to 
be sounded in his ears, as if they were whispered, in hollow 
murmurs, by the spirits of the dead. 

In a paroxysm of fear, the boy closed the book, and thrust it 
from him. Then, falling upon his knees, he prayed Heaven to spare 
him from such deeds; and rather to will that he should die at once, 
than be reserved for crimes so fearful and appalling. By degrees, 
he grew more calm, and besought in a low and broken voice, that 
he might be rescued from his present dangers; and that if any aid 
were to』 be raised up for a poor, outcast boy, who had never 
known the love of friends or kindred, it might come to him now, 
when, desolate and deserted, he stood alone in the midst of 
wickedness and guilt. 

He had concluded his prayer, but still remained with his head 
buried in his hands, when a rustling noise aroused him. 

「What』s that?」 he cried, starting up, and catching sight of a 
figure standing by the door. 「Who』s there?」 

「Me. Only me,」 replied a tremulous voice. 

Oliver raised the candle above his head, and looked towards the 
door. It was Nancy. 

「Put down the light,」 said the girl, turning away her head; 「it 
hurts my eyes.」 

Oliver saw that she was very pale, and gently inquired if she 
were ill. The girl threw herself into a chair, with her back towards 
him, and wrung her hands; but made no reply. 

「God forgive me!」 she cried, after a while; 「I never thought of 
this.」 

「Has anything happened?」 asked Oliver. 「Can I help you? I will 
if I can. I will, indeed. 

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She rocked herself to and fro; caught her throat; and, uttering a 
gurgling sound, gasped for breath. 

「Nancy!」 cried Oliver, 「what is it?」 

The girl beat her hands upon her knees, and her feet upon the 
ground; and, suddenly stopping, drew her shawl close round her, 
and shivered with cold. 

Oliver stirred the fire. Drawing her chair close to it, she sat 
there, for a little time, without speaking; but at length she raised 
her head, and looked round. 

「I don』t know what comes over me sometimes,」 said she, 
affecting 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 are to go 
with me.」 

「What for?」 asked Oliver, recoiling. 

「What for?」 echoed the girl, raising her eyes, and averting them 
again, the moment they encountered the boy』s face. 「Oh! For no 
harm.」 

「I don』t believe it,」 said Oliver, who had watched her closely. 

「Have it your own way,」 rejoined the girl, affecting to laugh. 
「For no good, then.」 

Oliver could see that he had some power over the girl』s better 
feelings, and, for an instant, thought of appealing to her 
compassion for his helpless state. But, then, the thought darted 
across his mind that it was barely eleven o』clock; and that many 
people were still in the streets, of whom surely some might be 
found to give credence to his tale. As the reflection occurred to 
him, he stepped forward; and said, somewhat hastily, that he was 

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ready. 

Neither his brief consideration, nor its purport, was lost on his 
companion. She eyed him narrowly, while he spoke and cast upon 
him a look of intelligence which sufficiently showed that she 
guessed what had been passing in his thoughts. 

「Hush!」 said the girl, stooping over him, and pointing to the 
door as she looked cautiously round. 「You can』t help yourself. I 
have tried hard for you, but all to no purpose. You are hedged 
round and round. If ever you are to get loose from here, this is not 
the time.」 

Struck by the energy of her manner, Oliver looked up in her 
face with great surprise. She seemed to speak the truth; her 
countenance was white and agitated; and she trembled with very 
earnestness. 

「I have saved you from being ill-used once, and I will again, and 
I do now,」 continued the girl aloud; 「for those who would have 
fetched you, if I had not, would have been far more rough than me. 
I have promised for your being quiet and silent; if 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.」 

She pointed, hastily, to some livid bruises 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, 

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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; for 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 Mr. Sikes』s 
temperament. Nancy, appearing much gratified thereby, saluted 
him cordially. 

「Bull』s-eye』s gone home with Tom,」 observed Sikes, as he 
lighted them up. 「He』d have been in the way.」 

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「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 carcass, as would otherways have suffered 
for it. Come here, young 』un, and let me read you a lecture, 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 tightly, 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.」 

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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; and, 
disappearing for a few minutes, 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 ingenious implement 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 fourscore oaths 

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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 himself on the bed; 
ordering Nancy, with many imprecations in case of failure, 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 opportunity of whispering some further 
advice; but the girl sat brooding over the fire, without moving, 
save now and then to trim the light. Weary with watching and 
anxiety, he at length fell asleep. 

When he awoke, the table was covered with tea-things, and 
Sikes was thrusting various articles into the pockets of his 
greatcoat, which hung over the back of a chair; while Nancy was 
busily engaged in preparing breakfast. It was not yet daylight; for 
the candle was still burning, and it was quite dark outside. A sharp 
rain, too, was beating against the window-panes; and the sky 
looked black and cloudy. 

「Now, then!」 growled Sikes, as Oliver started up; 「half-past 
five! Look sharp, or you』ll get no breakfast; for it』s late as it is.」 

Oliver was not long in making his toilet; and having taken some 
breakfast, he replied to a surly inquiry from Sikes, by saying that 
he was quite ready. 

Nancy, scarcely looked at the boy, threw him a handkerchief to 
tie round his throat, and Sikes gave him a large, rough cape to 
button over his shoulders. Thus attired, he gave his hand to the 

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robber, who, merely pausing to show him with a menacing gesture 
that he had that same pistol in a side-pocket of his greatcoat, 
clasped it firmly in his, and, exchanging a farewell with Nancy, led 
him away. 

Oliver turned, for an instant, when they reached the door, in 
the hope of meeting a look from the girl. But she had resumed her 
old seat in front of the fire, and sat, perfectly motionless, before it. 

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Chapter 21 

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; for 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; for 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 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; and now and then, a stagecoach, covered with 
mud, rattled briskly by; the driver bestowing, as he passed, an 
admonitory lash upon the heavy waggoner who, by keeping on the 
wrong side of the road, had endangered his arriving at the office, a 
quarter of a minute after his time. The public-houses, with gaslights 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 with fish-baskets on their heads; donkey

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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 are 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 together 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 

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discordant din that resounded from every corner of the market; 
and the unwashed, unshaven, squalid, and dirty figures constantly 
running to and fro, and bursting in and out of the throng, 
rendered it a stunning and bewildering scene, which quite 
confounded the senses. 

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. 

「No, 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 beyind 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?」 

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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, 
were all passed; and yet they went on as steadily as if they had 
only just begun their journey. At length they came to a public-
house called the Coach and Horses: a little way beyond which 
another road appeared to turn off. And here, the cart stopped. 

Sikes dismounted with great precipitation, holding Oliver by 
the hand all the while; and lifting him down directly, bestowed a 
furious look upon him, and rapped the side-pocket 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 

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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 
signboard, 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 it, 
while Mr. Sikes indulged himself with three or four pipes, that 
Oliver began to feel quite certain they were not going any farther. 
Being much tired with the walk, and getting up so early, he dozed 
a little at first; then, quite overpowered by fatigue and the fumes of 
the tobacco, fell asleep. 

It was quite dark when 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 communication with a 
labouring man, over a pint of ale. 

「So, you』re 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.」 

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「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 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 accommodate 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 
profound face; and having done so, seized Sikes by the hand, and 
declared he was a real good fellow. To which Mr. Sikes replied, he 
was joking; as, if he had been sober, there would have been strong 
reason to suppose he was. 

After the exchange of a few more compliments, they bade the 
company good-night, and went out; the girl gathering up the pots 
and glasses as they did so, and lounging out to the door, with her 
hands full, to see the party start. 

The horse, whose health had been drunk in his absence, was 
standing outside, ready harnessed to the cart. Oliver and Sikes got 
in without any further ceremony; and the man to whom he 
belonged, having lingered for a minute or two to bear him up,」 
and to defy the hostler and the world to produce his equal, 
mounted also. Then, the hostler was told to give the horse his 
head; and, his head being given to him, he made a very unpleasant 
use of it, tossing it into the air with great disdain, and running into 

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the parlour windows over the way; after performing those feats, 
and supporting himself for a short time on his hind legs, he started 
off at great speed, and rattled out of the town right gallantly. 

The night was very dark. A damp mist rose from the river and 
the marshy ground about, and spread itself over the dreary fields. 
It was piercing cold, too; all was gloomy and black. Not a word was 
spoken, for the driver had grown sleepy; and Sikes was in no 
mood to lead him into conversation. 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 Shepperton, as the weary boy 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. 

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「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 storey above; but no 
light was visible. The building was dark, dismantled, and to, all 
appearance, uninhabited. Sikes, with Oliver』s hand still in his, 
softly approached the low porch, and raised the latch. The door 
yielded to the pressure, and they passed in together. 

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Chapter 22 

The Burglary. 

「H ollo!」 cried a loud, hoarse voice, as soon as they set 
foot in the passage. 
「Don』t make such a row,」 said Sikes, 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 want 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. 

「Bister Sikes!」 exclaimed Barney, with real or counterfeit joy; 
「cub id, sir; cub id.」 

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「Here! you get on first,」 said Sikes, putting Oliver in front of 
him. 「Quicker! or I shall tread 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 thrust 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 satisfaction. 

「Bill, my boy!」 said this figure, turning his head towards the 
door, 「I』m 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 eyes 
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 Fagid』s lads,」 exclaimed Barney, with a grin. 

「Fagin』s, eh!」 exclaimed Toby, looking at Oliver. 「Wot an 
inwalable boy that』ll make, for the old ladies』 pockets in chapels! 

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His mug is a fortun』 to him.」 

「There—that』s enough of that,」 interposed Sikes impatiently; 
and stooping over his recumbent friend, he whispered 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』ll give us 
something to eat and drink while we』re waiting, you』ll 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 tonight, 
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 
off 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 than a whole family of 
Dodgers. Drink it, you perwerse imp; drink it!」 

Frightened by the menacing gestures of the two men, Oliver 
hastily swallowed the contents of the glass, and immediately fell 

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into a violent fit of coughing; which delighted Toby Crackit and 
Barney, and even drew a smile from the surly Mr. Sikes. 

This done, and Sikes having finished his appetite (Oliver could 
eat nothing but a small crust of bread which they made him 
swallow), the two men laid themselves down on chairs for a short 
nap. Oliver retained his stool by the fire; and 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 himself 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 companion 
enveloped their necks and chins in large, dark shawls, and drew 
on their greatcoats; while 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?」 
「I』ve 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, 

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Oliver Twist 231 

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 
Oliver』s cape. 

「Now then!」 said Sikes, holding out his hand. 

Oliver, who was completely stupefied 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. 

「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 atmosphere 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, tonight, 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 bedroom 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 

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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 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 exclamation 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! 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. 

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「Hush!」 cried the man; 「it won』t answer here. Say another 
word, and I』ll 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, I』ll 
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. A very brief exercise of Mr. Sikes』s 
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 
lamp from his pocket, and throwing the glare full on Oliver』s face; 
「I』m 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. 

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「The room door is open, is it?」 

「Wide,」 replied Toby, after peeping into to satisfy himself. 
「That 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 tonight. 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; and 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. 

「It』s done in a minute,」 said Sikes, in the same low whisper. 
「Directly I leave go of you, do your work. Hark!」 

「What』s that?」 whispered the other man. 

They listened intently. 

「Nothing,」 said Sikes, releasing his hold of Oliver. 「Now!」 

In the short time he had had to collect his senses, the boy had 
firmly resolved that, whether he died in the attempt or not, he 
would make one effort to dart upstairs from the hall, and alarm 

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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! 
Damnation, how the boy bleeds!」 

Then came the loud ringing of a bell, mingled with the noise of 
firearms, 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. 

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Chapter 23 

Which Contains The Substance Of 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 byways and corners 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 misty eddies, 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 workhouse 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 table to the fireplace, where the smallest 

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of all possible kettles was singing a small song in a small voice, her 
inward satisfaction evidently increased—so much so, indeed, that 
Mrs. Corney smiled. 

「Well!」 said the matron, leaning her elbow on the table, and 
looking reflectively at the fire; 「I』m sure we have all on us a great 
deal to be grateful for! A great deal, if we did but know it. Ah!」 

Mrs. Corney shook her head mournfully, as if deploring he 
mental blindness of those paupers who did not know it; and 
thrusting a silver spoon (private property) into the inmost recesses 
of a two-ounce tin tea-caddy, proceeded to make the tea. 

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. Corney』s hand. 

「Drat the pot!」 said the worthy matron, setting it down very 
hastily on the hob; 「a little stupid thing, that only holds a couple of 
cups! What use is it of, to anybody! Except,」 said Mrs. Corney, 
pausing—「except to a poor, desolate creature like me. Oh, dear!」 

With these words, the matron dropped into her chair, and, once 
more resting her elbow on the table, thought of her solitary fate. 
The small teapot, and the single cup, had awakened in her mind 
sad recollections of Mr. Corney (who had not been dead more than 
five-and-twenty years); and she 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 afterwards. She had just 
tasted her first cup, when she was disturbed by a soft tap at the 

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room door. 

「Oh, come in with you!」 said Mrs. Corney sharply. 「Some of the 
old women dying, I suppose. They always die when I』m at meals. 
Don』t stand there, letting the cold air in, don』t. What』s amiss now, 
eh?」 

「Nothing, ma』am, nothing,」 replied a man』s voice. 

「Dear me!」 exclaimed the matron, in a much sweeter tone, 「is 
that Mr. Bumble?」 

「At your service, ma』am,」 said Mr. Bumble, who had been 
stopping outside to rub his shoes clean, and to shake the snow off 
his coat: and who now made his appearance, bearing the cocked 
hat in one hand and a bundle in the other. 「Shall I shut the door, 
ma』am?」 

The lady modestly hesitated to reply, lest there should be any 
impropriety in holding an interview with Mr. Bumble, with closed 
doors. Mr. Bumble taking advantage of the hesitation, and being 
very cold himself, shut it without permission. 

「Hard weather, Mr. Bumble,」 said the matron. 

「Hard, indeed, ma』am,」 replied the beadle. 「Anti-parochial 
weather, this, ma』am. We have given away, Mrs. Corney, we have 
given away a matter of twenty quartern loaves and a cheese and a 
half, this very blessed afternoon; and yet them paupers are not 
contented.」 

「Of course not. When would they be, Mr. Bumble?」 said the 
matron, sipping her tea. 

「When, indeed, ma』am!」 rejoined Mr. Bumble. 「Why, here』s 
one man that, in consideration of his wife and large family, has a 
quartern loaf and a good pound of cheese, full weight. Is he 
grateful, ma』am? Is he grateful? Not a copper farthing』s worth of 

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Oliver Twist 239 

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 today, and they』ll come back for another, the day after 
tomorrow, as brazen as alabaster.」 

The matron expressed her entire concurrence in this 
intelligible simile; and the beadle went on. 

「I never,」 said Mr. Bumble, 「see anything like the pitch it』s got 
to. The day afore yesterday, a man—you 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. Corney 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! 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, anyway, Mr. Bumble? You』re a gentleman of experience, 
and ought to know. Come.」 

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「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 parochial 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. Corney. 「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 with slices of cheese. 
That』s the rule now, Mrs. Corney, all over the country. But, 
however,」 said the beadle, stopping to unpack his bundle, 「these 
are official secrets, ma』am; not to be spoken of; except, as I may 
say, among the parochial 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 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 

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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 teapot. 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. Corney 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, having 
spread a handkerchief over his knees to prevent the crumbs from 
sullying the splendour of his shorts, began to eat and drink; 
varying these amusements, occasionally, by fetching a deep sigh; 
which, however, had no injurious effect upon 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.」 

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「Very nice animals, ma』am,」 replied Mr. Bumble approvingly; 
「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 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 

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utterance to certain soft nothings, which, however well they may 
become the lips of the light and thoughtless, so seem 
immeasurably beneath the dignity of judges of the land, members 
of parliament, ministers of state, lord mayors, and other great 
public functionaries 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 himself 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 hardhearted, 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 of 
toast; whisked the crumbs off his knees; wiped his lips; and 

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Oliver Twist 244 

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 
babies and great strong men; and I know when 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 

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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 anything particular should occur; 
and bidding the messenger walk 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 extraordinary 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. 

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Oliver Twist 246 

Chapter 24 

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 
mumbling 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 childhood, 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 
companion; and being at length compelled to pause for breath, 
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. 

It was a bare garret-room, with a dim light burning at the 

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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 mean 

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while, 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. 

The apothecary』s apprentice, having completed the 
manufacture 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, my 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 I drank it; and it did me good!」 

Looking cautiously round, to ascertain that they were not 
overheard, the two hags cowered nearer the fire, and chuckled 

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Oliver Twist 249 

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 corpses 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 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 own. 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! He』ll 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 

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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 arms 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, struggling. 「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 
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. 

「Turn them away,」 said the 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 protestations 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 

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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. 

「It!」 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, 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? Who 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 

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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 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 

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carelessly away. 

The two crones, to all appearances, too busily occupied in the 
preparations for their dreadful duties to make any reply, were left 
alone, hovering about the body. 

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Chapter 25 

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 neighbour』s 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. 

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Master Bates was also attentive to his play; but being of a more 
excitable nature than his accomplished friend, it was observable 
that he more frequently applied himself to the gin-and-water, and 
moreover indulged in many jests and irrelevant remarks, all highly 
unbecoming a scientific rubber. Indeed, the Artful, presuming 
upon their close attachment, more than once took occasion to 
reason gravely with his companion upon these improprieties; all of 
which remonstrances Master Bates received in extremely good 
part; merely requesting his friend to be 「blowed,」 or to insert his 
head in a sack, or replying with some other neatly-turned 
witticism of a similar kind, the happy application of which, excited 
considerable admiration in the mind of Mr. Chitling. It was 
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 two doubles and the rub,」 said Mr. Chitling, with a very 
long face, as he drew half a crown from his waistcoat pocket. 「I 
never see such a feller as you, Jack; you win everything. Even 
when 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 Jew from his reverie, and 
induced him to inquire what was the matter. 

「Matter, Fagin!」 cried Charley. 「I wish you had watched the 
play. Tommy Chitling hasn』t won a point; and I went partners with 
him against the Artful and him.」 

「Ay, ay!」 said the Jew, with a grin, which sufficiently 

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demonstrated that he was 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.」 

「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 
overnight, and have a telescope at each eye, and a opera-glass 
between your shoulders, if you want to come over him.」 

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 a 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! 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 

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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. 

「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 do 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 

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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 stouthearted 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?」 

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 upstairs. 

The bell was rung again, with some impatience, while the party 
were in darkness. After a short pause, the Dodger reappeared, and 
whispered to Fagin mysteriously. 

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「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 I Gently, Tom! Scarce, scarce!」 

This brief direction to Charley Bates, and his recent antagonist, 
was softly and immediately obeyed. There was no sound of their 
whereabouts, 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 I 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. 

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「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 sustenance, 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 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 spirit-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 

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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?」 gasped the Jew. 

「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. 

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Chapter 26 

In Which A Mysterious Character Appears Upon
The Scene; And Many Things, Inseparable From
This History, Are 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 pick-pockets. 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 limits of Field Lane are, it has its 
barber, its coffee-shop, its beer-shop, and its fried-fish warehouse. 

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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 signboards 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, familiarly, as he passed along. He 
replied to their salutations in the same way; but bestowed no 
closer recognition until he reached the farther 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 acknowledgement 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 tonight. 

「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』t think your 

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friend』s there.」 

「Sikes is not, I suppose?」 inquired the Jew, with a disappointed 
countenance. 

「Non istwentus, as the lawyers say,」 replied the little man, 
shaking his head, and looking amazingly sly. 「Have you got 
anything in my line tonight?」 

「Nothing tonight,」 said the Jew, turning away. 

「Are you going up to the Cripples, Fagin?」 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 was 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 upstairs, 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 

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was prevented by the barred shutters, and closely-drawn curtains 
of faded red, from being visible outside. The ceiling was 
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 of heads, as confused as the noises 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 chairman 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. 

As Fagin stepped softly in, the professional gentleman, running 
over the keys by way of prelude, occasioned a general cry of order 
for a song; which, having subsided, a young lady proceeded to 
entertain the company with a ballad in four verses, between each 
of which the accompanist played the melody all through, as loud 
as he could. When this was over, the chairman gave a sentiment, 
after which, the professional gentleman on the chairman』s right 
and left volunteered a duet, and sang it, with great applause. 

It was curious to observe some faces which stood out 
prominently from among the group. There was the chairman 
himself (the landlord of the house), a coarse, rough, heavy-built 
fellow, who, while the songs were proceeding, rolled his eyes 
hither and thither, and, seeming to give himself up to joviality, had 
an eye for everything that was done, and an ear for everything that 
was said—and sharp ones, too. Near him were the singers, 

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receiving, with professional indifference, the compliments of the 
company, and applying themselves, in turn, to a dozen proffered 
glasses of spirits-and-water, tendered by their more boisterous 
admirers; whose countenances, expressive of almost every vice in 
almost every grade, irresistibly attracted the attention, by their 
very repulsiveness. Cunning, ferocity, and drunkenness in all its 
stages, were there, in their strongest aspects; and women, some 
with the last lingering tinge of their early freshness almost fading 
as you looked, others with every mark and stamp of their sex 
utterly beaten out, and presenting but one loathsome blank 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 of 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 
he 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 

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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 tonight?」 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 tonight. No, say tomorrow. As he is not here, 
tomorrow will be time enough.」 

「Good!」 said the man. 「Nothing more?」 

「Not 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! I』ve 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—while 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 

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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 
upstairs, 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. When 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 During the silence, the Jew looked restlessly 
about the room, as if to assure himself that there were no 
appearances of Sikes having covertly returned. Apparently 
satisfied with his inspection, he coughed twice or thrice, and made 
as many efforts to open a conversation; but the girl heeded him no 
more than if he had been made 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. 

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「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. 「I 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 will, except 
now—the humour doesn』t suit you, doesn』t it?」 

「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 the 
night, 「I WILL change it! Listen to me, you drab. Listen to me, 
who with six words, can strangle Sikes as surely as if I had his 
bull』s throat between my fingers now. If he comes back, and leaves 
the boy behind him; if he gets off free, and, dead or alive, fails to 
restore him to me; murder him yourself if you would have him 
escape Jack Ketch. And do it the moment he sets foot 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 

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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 shrank into a chair, and, cowering together, trembled 
with the apprehension of having himself disclosed some hidden 
villainy. 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!」 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, and will do many more when he 
can; and when he can』t he won』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 with the rest,」 interrupted 
Nancy hastily; 「and I say again, I hope he is dead, and out of 
harm』s way, and out of yours—that is, if Bill comes to no harm. 
And if Toby got clear off, Bill』s pretty sure to be safe; for Bill』s 
worth two of Toby any time.」 

「And about what I was saying, my dear?」 observed the Jew, 
keeping his glistening eye steadily upon her. 

「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 

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tomorrow. 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 dullness, 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, heard, and of ascertaining, with his own eyes, that 
Sikes had not returned, Mr. Fagin again turned his face 
homeward; leaving 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 

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passengers, as of dust and mud, for few people were abroad, and 
they were to all appearance hastening fast 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. 「Well; 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 at that unseasonable hour; and, indeed, 
muttered something about having no fire; but, his companion 
repeating his request in a peremptory manner, he unlocked the 

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door, and requested him to close it softly, while 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. 

「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 upstairs. 

「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 
movables save a broken armchair, 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 armchair opposite, they sat face to face. It 
was not quite dark; for 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 

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Oliver Twist 274 

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: 

「I tell you again, it was badly planned. Why not have kept him 
here among the rest, and made a sneaking, snivelling pick-pocket 
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 him 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 
not, 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 the other boys in the same circumstances.」 

「Curse him, no!」 muttered the man, 「or he would have been a 
thief, long ago.」 

「I had no hold upon him to make him worse,」 pursued the Jew, 

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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? We 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 quarrel 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 were looking 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, 

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with both arms, as he sprang 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; but 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.」 

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, 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 downstairs, he had 
locked them in, to prevent any intrusion on the conference. 

This accumulated testimony effectually staggered Mr. Monks. 
His protestations had gradually become less and less vehement as 
they proceeded in their search without making any discovery; and, 

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Oliver Twist 277 

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. 

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Chapter 27 

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 affection, 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 upon earth to whom high and 
important authority is delegated—hastens to pay them that 
respect which their position demands, and to treat them with all 
that duteous ceremony which their exalted rank, and (by 
consequence) great virtues, imperatively claim at his hands. 
Towards this end, indeed, he had purposed to introduce, in this 
place, a dissertation touching the divine right of beadles, and 
elusidative of the position, that a beadle can do no wrong; which 
could not fail to have been both pleasurable and profitable to the 
right-minded reader, but which he is unfortunately compelled, by 
want of time and space, to postpone to some more convenient and 
fitting opportunity; on the arrival of which, he will be prepared to 

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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 recounted the teaspoons, reweighed 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; and, 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 at the interior of Mrs. Corney』s chest of drawers. 

Having listened at the keyhole, to assure himself that nobody 
was approaching the chamber, Mr. Bumble beginning at the 
bottom, proceeded to make himself acquainted with the contents 
of the three long drawers; which, being filled with various 
garments of good fashion and texture, carefully preserved 
between two layers of old newspapers, speckled with dried 
lavender, seemed to yield him exceeding satisfaction. Arriving, in 
course of time, at the right-hand corner drawer (in which was a 
key), and beholding therein a small padlocked box, which, being 
shaken, gave forth a pleasant sound, as of the chinking of coin, Mr. 
Bumble returned with a stately walk to the fireplace, and, 

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resuming his old attitude, said, with a grave and determined air, 
「I』ll do it!」 He followed up this remarkable declaration, by shaking 
his head in a waggish manner for ten minutes, as 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 breath. 

「Mrs. Corney,」 said Mr. Bumble, stooping over the matron, 
「what is this, ma』am? Has anything happened, ma』am? Pray 
answer me; I』m on—on—」 Mr. Bumble, in his alarm, could not 
immediately think of the word 「tenterhooks,」 so he said 「broken 
bottles.」 

「Oh, 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!」 said Mr. Bumble, checking himself, with native majesty, 
「this is them wicious paupers!」 

「It』s dreadful to think of!」 said the lady, shuddering. 

「Then don』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; 

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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 
thankfulness; and, bringing them down again to the brim of the 
cup, lifted it to his nose. 

「Peppermint,」 exclaimed Mrs. Corney, in a faint voice, smiling 
gently on the beadle as she spoke. 「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. 

「Nothing,」 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. 

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「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. 

「But not for two, ma』am,」 replied 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. Mrs. 
Corney, with great propriety, turned her head away, and released 
her hand to get at her pocket-handkerchief; but insensibly 
replaced it in that of Mr. Bumble. 

「The Board allow you coals, don』t they, Mrs. Corney?」 inquired 
the beadle, affectionately pressing her hand. 

「And candles,」 replied Mrs. Corney, slightly returning the 
pressure. 

「Coals, candle, and house-rent free,」 said Mr. Bumble. 「Oh, 
Mrs. Corney, what an angel you are!」 

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 tonight, my 
fascinator?」 

「Yes,」 replied Mrs. Corney bashfully. 

「He can』t live a week, the doctor says,」 pursued Mr. Bumble. 

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Oliver Twist 283 

「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 opportunity 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 arranged, the 
contract was solemnly ratified in another tea-cupful of the 
peppermint mixture; which was rendered the more necessary, by 
the flutter and agitation of the lady』s spirits. While it was being 
disposed of, she acquainted Mr. Bumble with the old woman』s 
decease. 

「Very good,」 said that gentleman, sipping his peppermint; 「I』ll 
call at Sowerberry』s as I go home, and tell him to send tomorrow 
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 

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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 of 』em dared to lift his wulgar 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 paupers』 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 visions of his future promotion, which 
served to occupy his 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 

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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 
man』s 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; 「try 
him, do; only this one.」 

「What a delicious thing is a oyster!」 remarked Mr. Claypole, 
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. 

「So it is,」 acquiesced Mr. Claypole. 「Ain』t yer fond of oysters?」 

「Not overmuch,」 replied Charlotte. 「I like to see you eat 』em, 
Noah, dear, better than eating 』em myself.」 

「Lord!」 said Noah reflectively; 「how queer!」 

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「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 position 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 adoin』 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 downstairs, 
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 tomorrow 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 

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peasantry gone for ever!」 With these words, the beadle 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. 

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Chapter 28 

Looks After Oliver, And Proceeds With His
Adventures.


「W olves 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 standstill. 
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 his feet, 

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and drawing a pistol from his pocket. 「Don』t play booty with me.」 

At this moment the noise grew louder. Sikes, again looking 
round, could discern that the men who had given chase were 
already climbing the gate of the field in which he stood; and that a 
couple of dogs were some paces in advance 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 in the air, cleared it at a bound, and was 
gone. 

「Ho, ho, there!」 cried a tremulous voice in the rear. 「Pincher! 
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. 

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「I shouldn』t wish to appear ill-mannered, gentlemen,」 said the 
third, who had called the dogs back, 「Mr. Giles ought to know.」 

「Certainly,」 replied the shorter man; 「and whatever Mr. Giles 
says, it isn』t our place to contradict him. No, no, I know my 
sitiwation! Thank my stars, I know my sitiwation.」 To tell the 
truth, the little man did seem to know his situation, and to know 
perfectly well that it was by no means a desirable one; for his teeth 
chattered in his head as he spoke. 

「You are afraid, Brittles,」 said Mr. Giles. 

「I ain』t,」 said Brittles. 

「You are,」 said Giles. 

「You』re a falsehood, Mr. Giles,」 said Brittles. 

「You』re 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. 

「I』ll 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 

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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.」 

As the other two were impressed with a similar presentiment; 
and as their blood, like his, had all gone down again; some 
speculation ensued upon the cause of this sudden change in their 
temperament. 

「I know what it was,」 said Mr. Giles; 「it was the gate.」 

「I shouldn』t wonder if it was,」 exclaimed Brittles, catching at 
the idea. 

「You may depend upon it,」 said Giles, 「that that gate stopped 
the flow of the excitement. I felt all mine suddenly going away, as I 
was climbing over it.」 

By a remarkable coincidence, the other two had been visited 
with the same unpleasant sensation at that precise moment. It was 
quite obvious, therefore, that it was the gate; especially as there 
was no doubt regarding the time at which the change had taken 
place, because all 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 travelling tinker who had been 
sleeping in an outhouse, and who had been roused, together with 
his two mongrel curs, to join the pursuit. Mr. Giles acted in the 
double capacity of butler and steward to the old lady of the 
mansion; Brittles was a lad of all work, who, having entered her 
service a mere child, was treated as a promising young boy still, 

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though he was something past thirty. 

Encouraging each other with such converse as this; but, 
keeping very close together, notwithstanding, and looking 
furtively round, whenever a fresh gust rattled through the boughs; 
the three men hurried back to a tree, behind which they had left 
their lantern, lest its light should inform the thieves in what 
direction to fire. Catching up the light, they made the best of their 
way home, at a good round trot; and long after their dusky forms 
had ceased to be discernible, the light might have been seen 
twinkling and dancing in the distance, like some exhalation of the 
damp and gloomy atmosphere through which it was swiftly borne. 

The air grew colder, as day came slowly on; and the mist rolled 
along the ground like a dense cloud of smoke. The grass was wet; 
the pathways, and low places were all mire and water; and the 
damp breath of an unwholesome wind went languidly by, with a 
hollow moaning. Still, Oliver lay motionless and insensible on the 
spot where Sikes had left him. 

Morning drew on apace. The air became more sharp and 
piercing, as its first dull hue—the death of night, rather than the 
birth of day—glimmered faintly in the sky. The objects which had 
looked dim and terrible in the darkness, grew more and more 
defined, and gradually resolved into their familiar shapes. The 
rain came down, thick and fast, and pattered noisily among the 
leafless bushes. But Oliver felt it not, as it beat against him; for he 
still lay stretched, helpless and unconscious, on his bed of clay. 

At length, a low cry of pain broke the stillness that prevailed; 
and uttering it, the boy awoke. His left arm, rudely bandaged in a 
shawl, hung heavy and useless at his side; the bandage was 
saturated with blood. He was so weak, that he could scarcely raise 

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himself into a sitting posture; when he had done so, he looked 
feebly round for help, and groaned with pain. Trembling in every 
joint, from cold and exhaustion, he made an effort to stand 
upright; but, shuddering from head to foot, fell prostrate on the 
ground. 

After a short return of the stupor in which he had been so long 
plunged, Oliver, urged by a creeping sickness at his heart, which 
seemed to warn him that if he lay there, he must surely die, got 
upon his feet, and essayed to walk. His head was dizzy, and he 
staggered to and fro like a drunken man. But he kept up, 
nevertheless, and, with his head drooping languidly on his breast, 
went stumbling onward, he knew not whither. 

And now hosts of bewildering and confused ideas came 
crowding on his mind. He seemed to be still walking 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 firearms; there 
rose in 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 

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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 he fly? He pushed against the 
garden gate; it was unlocked, and swung open on its hinges. He 
tottered across the lawn; climbed the steps; knocked faintly at the 
door; and, his whole strength failing him, sank 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. 
Giles』s 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, 

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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 (but especially the cook and 
housemaid, who were of the party) listened with breathless 
interest. 

「It 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, and asked 
the housemaid to shut the door; who asked Brittles, who asked the 
tinker, who pretended not to hear. 

「—Heerd a noise,」 continued Mr. Giles. 「I says, at first, 『This is 
illusion』; and was composing myself off to sleep, when I heerd the 
noise again, distinct.」 

「What sort of a noise?」 asked the cook. 

「A kind of a busting noise,」 replied Mr. Giles, looking round 
him. 

「More like the noise of powdering a iron bar on a nutmeg-
grater,」 suggested Brittles. 

「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 tablecloth, 「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. 

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「『Somebody,』 I says, 『is forcing of a door, or window; what』s to be 
done? I』ll 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 tablecloth, 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 shoes, sir,」 said Giles, turning upon him, and laying great 
emphasis on the word; 「seized the loaded pistol that always goes 
upstairs 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. 

「『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 approvingly; 
「from a woman, nothing else was to be expected. We, being men, 
took a dark lantern that was standing on Brittles』s hob, and 
groped our way downstairs in the pitch dark—as it might be so.」 

Mr. Giles had risen from his seat, and taken two steps with his 

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eyes shut, to accompany his description with appropriate 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 reassured by the discovery (made on throwing open the 
shutters) that it was now broad day, took their way upstairs, with 
the dogs in front, and the two women, who were afraid to stay 
below, bringing 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, 

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originating in the brain of the same 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 upstairs to carry the intelligence 
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 

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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?」 

「Wounded desperate, miss,」 replied Giles, with indescribable 
complacency. 

「He looks as if he was a-going, miss,」 bawled Brittles, in the 
same manner as before. 「Wouldn』t 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, upstairs 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 down. 「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 upstairs, 

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with the care and solicitude of a woman. 

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Chapter 29 

Has An Introductory Account Of The Inmates Of
The House, To Which Oliver Resorted.


In a handsome room, though its furniture had rather the air of 
old-fashioned comfort, than of modern 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 halfway 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 bygone 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 in the lovely bloom and springtime of 
womanhood; at that age, when, if ever angels be for God』s good 
purposes enthroned in mortal forms, they may be, without 

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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, not 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 bye, 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. 

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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 gentleman, 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 gentleman. 
「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 drawing 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 upstairs, whom aunt wishes you to see.」 

「Ah! to be sure,」 replied the doctor, 「so there is. That was your 
handiwork, Giles, I understand.」 

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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 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 got in at, eh? Well, I couldn』t have believed 
it!」 

Talking all the way, he followed Mr. Giles upstairs; and while he 
is going upstairs, 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 eccentric 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 
bedroom bell was rung very often; and the servants ran up and 
downstairs 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 

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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 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. Maylie, 「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!」 

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Chapter 30 

Relates What Oliver』s New Visitors Thought Of
Him.


With many loquacious assurances that they would be 
agreeably 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, upstairs. 

「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. 

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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!」 

「Vice,」 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 

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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 
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. Losberne 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 「I』ve got it now,」 and 「no, I haven』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.」 

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「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 today, 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 might avail myself, on the spot, of such 
a favourable opportunity 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 
downstairs 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 further 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 thereunto 

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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. 

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 recounting 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 men』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 

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condemning them for being weak all at once, betook himself 
downstairs 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 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. 「Missis wished some ale to be 
given out, sir; and as I felt no ways inclined for my 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 gratification 
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 tonight, sir?」 asked Giles. 

「So-so;」 returned the doctor. 「I am afraid you have got yourself 
into a scrape there, Mr. Giles.」 

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「I hope you don』t mean to say, sir,」 said Mr. Giles, trembling, 
「that 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,」 said 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 you, boy?」 said the doctor, turning sharply upon 
Brittles. 

「Lord bless me, sir!」 replied Brittles, starting violently; 「I』m— 
the same as Mr. Giles, sir.」 

「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 
upstairs 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 
dreadful tone of anger, that Giles and Brittles, who were 
considerably muddled by ale and excitement, stared at each other 
in a state of stupefaction. 

「Pay attention to the reply, constable, will you?」 said the 
doctor, shaking his forefinger with great solemnity of manner, and 
tapping the bridge of his nose with it, to bespeak the exercise of 
that worthy』s utmost acuteness. 「Something may come of this 
before long.」 

The constable looked as wise as he could, and took up his staff 
of office, which had been reclining indolently in the chimney-
corner. 

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「It』s a simple question of identity, you will observe,」 said the 
doctor. 

「That』s what it is, sir,」 replied the constable, coughing with a 
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 around; when a ring was heard at 
the gate, and at the same moment, the sound of wheels. 

「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 Mr. Giles sent for 』em this morning.」 

「What?」 cried the doctor. 

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「Yes,」 replied Brittles; 「I sent a message up by the coachman, 
and I only wonder they weren』t here before, sir.」 

「You did, did you? Then confound your slow coaches down 
here; that』s all,」 said the doctor, walking away. 

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Chapter 31 

Involves A Critical Position. 

「W ho』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, today.」 

Much comforted by this assurance, Brittles opened the door to 
its full width, and confronted a portly man in a greatcoat; 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 
greatcoats 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, 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. 

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「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, motioning 
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 circumlocution. 
Messrs. Blathers and Duff looked very knowing meanwhile, and 
occasionally exchanged a nod. 

「I 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. 

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「That』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.」 

「Very 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 afterwards. 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 

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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 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 runaway. Judged by mere worldly 
considerations and probabilities, his story is a very doubtful one.」 

「You believe it, surely?」 interrupted 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 

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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 had been carried to a police-office, on a charge of 
picking a gentleman』s pocket; he has been taken away, forcibly, 
from that gentleman』s house, to a place which he cannot describe 
or point out, and of the situation Of which he has not the remotest 
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 doctor』s 
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 

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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 the best of it; and if bad be the best, it is no fault of ours. 
Come in!」 

「Well, master,」 said Blathers, entering the room, followed by 
his colleague, and making the door fast, before he said any more. 
「This warn』t a put-up thing.」 

「And what the devil』s a put-up thing?」 demanded the doctor 
impatiently. 

「We call it a put-up robbery, ladies,」 said Blathers, turning to 
them, as if he pitied their ignorance, but had a contempt for the 
doctor』s, 「when the servants is in it.」 

「Nobody suspected them, in this case,」 said Mrs. Maylie. 

「Wery likely not, ma』am,」 replied Blathers; 「but they might 
have been in it, for all that.」 

「More likely on that wery account,」 said Duff. 

「We find it was a town hand,」 said Blathers, continuing his 
report; 「for the style of work is first-rate.」 

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「Wery pretty indeed, it is,」 remarked Duff, in an undertone. 

「There was two of 』em in it,」 continued Blathers; 「and they had 
a boy with 』em; that』s plain from the size of the window. That』s all 
to be said at present. We』ll see this lad that you』ve got upstairs at 
once, if you please.」 

「Perhaps they will take something to drink first, Mrs. Maylie?」 
said the doctor, his face brightening, as if some new thought had 
occurred to him. 

「Oh! to be sure!」 exclaimed Rose eagerly. 「You shall have it 
immediately, if you will.」 

「Why, thank you, miss!」 said Blathers, drawing his coat-sleeve 
across his mouth; 「it』s dry work, this sort of duty. Anythink that』s 
handy, miss; don』t put yourself out of the way, on our accounts.」 

「What shall it be?」 asked the doctor, following the young lady 
to the sideboard. 

「A little drop of spirits, master, if it』s all the same,」 replied 
Blathers. 「It』s a cold ride from London, ma』am; and I always find 
that spirits comes home warmer to the feelings.」 

This interesting communication was addressed to Mrs. Maylie, 
who received it very graciously. While it was being conveyed to 
her, the doctor slipped out of the room. 

「Ah!」 said Mr. Blathers, not holding his wineglass by the stem, 
but grasping the bottom between the thumb and forefinger of his 
left hand, and placing it in front of his chest; 「I have seen a good 
many pieces of business like this, in my time, ladies.」 

「That crack down in the back lane at Edmonton, Blathers,」 
said Mr. Duff, assisting his colleague』s memory. 

「That was something in this way, warn』t it?」 rejoined Mr. 
Blathers; 「that was done by Conkey Chickweed, that was.」 

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「You always gave that to him,」 replied Duff. 「It was the Family 
Pet, I tell you. Conkey hadn』t any more to do with it than I had.」 

「Get out!」 retorted Mr. Blathers; 「I know better. Do you mind 
that time when Conkey was robbed of his money, though? What a 
start that was! Better than any novel-book I ever see!」 

「What was that?」 inquired Rose, anxious to encourage any 
symptoms of good-humour in the unwelcome visitors. 

「It was a robbery, miss, that hardly anybody would have been 
down upon,」 said Blathers. 「This here Conkey Chickweed—」 

「Conkey means Nosey, ma』am,」 interposed Duff. 

「Of course the lady knows that, don』t she?」 demanded Mr. 
Blathers. 「Always interrupting, you are, partner! This here 
Conkey Chickweed, miss, kept a public-house over Battlebridge 
way, and he had a cellar, where a good many young lords went to 
see cock-fighting, and badger-drawing, and that; and a wery 
intellectual manner the sports was conducted in, for I』ve seen 』em 
often. He warn』t one of the family at that time; and one night he 
was robbed of three hundred and twenty-seven guineas in a 
canvas bag, that was stole out of his bedroom in the dead of night, 
by a tall man with a black patch over his eye, who had concealed 
himself under the bed, and after committing the robbery, jumped 
slap out of window, which was only a storey 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 neighbourhood. 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. 
However, he had made off with the blunt; and, consequently, the 

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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 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, 『I』ve lost him again!』 It was a remarkable 

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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 eyes, 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 heard 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 was 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 have 
found it out, if he hadn』t been so precious anxious to keep up 
appearances, that』s more!」 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 upstairs.」 

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「If you please, sir,」 returned 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, who, being 
accidentally wounded by a spring-gun in some boyish trespass on 
Mr. What-d』ye-call-him』s grounds, at the back here, comes to the 
house for assistance this morning, and is immediately laid hold of 
and maltreated, by that ingenious gentleman with the candle in 
his hand; who had 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. 

「I 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.」 

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「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. 

「I don』t know what to think,」 replied poor Giles. 「I 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 Duff, 
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 neighbouring 
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 

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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 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 
overnight 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 discovered 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 
punishment of death; Messrs. Blathers and Duff came back again, 
as wise as they went. 

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In short, after some more examination, and a great deal more 
conversation, a neighbouring magistrate was readily induced to 
take the joint bail of Mrs. Maylie 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 Chickweed. 

Meanwhile, 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, sank into their souls, diffusing peace and happiness 

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Chapter 32 

Of The Happy Life Oliver Began To Lead With His
Kind Friends.


O liver』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.」 

「The trouble!」 cried Oliver. 「Oh! dear lady, if I could but work 

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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 compassion was 
sincerely grateful and attached, in consequence, would delight me 
more than you can well imagine. Do you understand me?」 she 
inquired, watching Oliver』s 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!」 

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In a short time Oliver was sufficiently recovered to undergo the 
fatigue of this expedition. One morning he and Mr. Losberne set 
out, accordingly, in a little carriage which belonged to Mrs. Maylie. 
When they came to Chertsey Bridge, Oliver turned very pale, and 
uttered a loud exclamation. 

「What』s 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. 「Hallo, 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. 

「Hallo!」 said a little, ugly, humpbacked man, opening the door 
so suddenly, that the doctor, from the very impetus of his last kick, 
nearly fell 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 humpbacked 
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 humpbacked man stared, as if in excess of amazement and 

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indignation; then, twisting himself, dextrously, 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, not a vestige of 
anything, animate or inanimate; not even the position of the 
cupboards, answered Oliver』s description? 

「Now!」 said the humpbacked 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. Losberne, 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-andtwenty years, to be scared by you. You shall pay for this; you shall 
pay for this.」 And so saying, the misshapen 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 

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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 afterwards. 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 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 

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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 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 overjoyed 
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?」 

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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 day,」 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. 

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 

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so far, and carried with them the belief that he was an impostor 
and 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 warm 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 into 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 had 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 known to yearn at 
last for one short glimpse of Nature』s face; and, carried far from 
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 

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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 
light! 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 consciousness 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 
hum 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 without pain. 

It was a happy time. The days were peaceful and serene; the 
nights brought with them neither fear nor care; no languishing in 
a wretched prison, or associating with wretched men; nothing but 
pleasant and happy thoughts. Every morning he went to a white-

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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. 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 a 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 

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least) than any he had ever heard in church before. 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 two 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 afoot by six o』clock, roaming 
the fields, and plundering the hedges, far and wide, for nosegays 
of wild flowers, with which he would 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, with which 
Oliver, who 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 were made all spruce and smart 
for the day, there was usually some little commission of charity to 
execute in the village; or, failing that, there was rare cricket-
playing, sometimes, on the green; or, failing that, there was always 
something to do in the garden, or about the plants, to which Oliver 
(who had studied this science also, under the same master, who 
was a gardener by trade) applied himself with hearty goodwill, 
until Miss Rose made her appearance, when there were a 
thousand commendations to be bestowed on all he had done. 

So three months glided away; three months which, 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, warmest, soul-felt gratitude on the other; it is no wonder 
that, by the end of that short time, Oliver Twist had become 

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completely domesticated with the old lady and her niece, and that 
the fervent attachment of his young and sensitive heart, was 
repaid by their pride in, and attachment to, himself. 

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Chapter 33 

Wherein The Happiness Of Oliver And His Friends,
Experiences A Sudden Check.


S pring 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 difference 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 warm, and 
there was a brilliant moon, and a light wind had sprung up, which 

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was unusually refreshing. Rose had been in high spirits, too, and 
they had walked on, in merry conversation, 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, 

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aunt.」 

She was, indeed; for, when candles were brought, they saw that 
in the very short time which had elapsed since 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 tonight, 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. 

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「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 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 knows how well!」 

Oliver was surprised to see that as Mrs. Maylie said these 
words, she checked her lamentations as though by one effort; and 

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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. 

「We 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 despatched, 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 with 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, impatient 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 Harry Maylie, 

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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 tomorrow.」 

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, where the mowers 
and hay-makers 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 marketplace of the market-town. 

Here he paused, and looked about for the inn. There 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 
hostler; 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 

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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 
injunctions 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 
turnpike-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 with 
his large dark eyes. 「Who would have thought it? Grind him to 
ashes! He』d start up from a stone coffin, to come in my way!」 

「I am sorry,」 stammered Oliver, confused by the strange man』s 
wild look. 「I hope I have not hurt you!」 

「Rot you!」 murmured the man, in a horrible passion, between 
his clenched teeth; 「if I had only the courage to say the word, I 
might have been free of you in a night. Curses on your head, and 
black death on your heart, you 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 

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in a fit. 

Oliver gazed, for a moment, at the struggle of the madman (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 extraordinary 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-
complacency 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 footsteps, to the staircase, listen for the 
slightest sound from the sick chamber! How often did a tremble 
shake his frame, and cold drops of terror start upon his brow, 
when a sudden tramping 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 
supplication 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 

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by while the life of one we dearly love, is trembling in the balance! 
Oh! the racking thoughts that crowd upon the mind, 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 we have 
no power to alleviate; the sinking of soul and spirit, which the sad 
remembrance of our helplessness produces; what tortures can 
equal these; what 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 went away in tears. All the livelong 
day, and for hours after it had grown dark, Oliver 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 away 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, with every leaf and flower in 
full bloom about her, with life, and—health, and sounds and sights 
of joys 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 green mounds, wept and prayed for her, in 
silence. 

There was such peace and beauty in the scene; so much of 
brightness and mirth in the sunny landscape; such blithsome 
music in the songs of the summer birds; such freedom in the rapid 
flight of the rook, careering overhead; so much of life and 

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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 little 
parlour. Oliver』s heart sank at sight of her; for she had never left 
the bedside of her niece; and he trembled to think what change 

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could have driven her away. He learned 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; and 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!」 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. 

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Chapter 34 

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 
night-cap, 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 night-cap was thrust out of the chaise window, 
and a stentorian voice bellowed to the driver to stop; which he did, 

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as soon as he could pull up his horses. Then, the night-cap once 
again appeared, and the same voice called Oliver by his name. 

「Here!」 cried the voice. 「Oliver, what』s the news? Miss Rose! 
Master O-li-ver!」 

「Is it you, Giles?」 cried Oliver, running up to the chaise door. 

Giles popped out his night-cap 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 did not say 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 

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his feelings were—and so stood apart, feigning to be occupied with 
his nosegay. 

All this time, Mr. Giles, with the white night-cap 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 Harry Maylie, smiling, 「you can do as you like. 
Let him go on with the luggage, if you wish it, and do you follow 
with us. Only first exchange that night-cap for some more 
appropriate covering, or we shall be taken for madmen.」 

Mr. Giles, reminded of his unbecoming costume, snatched off 
and pocketed his night-cap; 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 newcomer. He seemed about 
five-and-twenty years of age, and was of the middle height; his 

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countenance was frank and handsome; and his demeanour easy 
and prepossessing. Notwithstanding the difference between youth 
and age, he bore so strong a likeness 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. 

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 determined to 
keep back the letter until I had heard Mr. Losberne』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 wonder if it be so, mother?」 rejoined the young 
man; 「or why should I say, if?—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, 

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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. 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 
connection 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 

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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 disregard 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 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 productive 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 

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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 tonight?」 said the young ma eagerly. 

「By and by,」 replied the lady; 「when I leave Rose.」 

「You will tell her I am here?」 said Harry. 

「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 pressing her 
son』s hand affectionately, she hastened from the room. 

Mr. Losberne and Oliver had remained at another end of the 
apartment while this hurried conversation was proceeding. 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 
affected to be busy about the luggage, listened with greedy ears. 

「Have you shot anything particular, lately, Giles?」 inquired the 
doctor, when he had concluded. 

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「Nothing particular, sir,」 replied Mr. Giles, colouring up to the 
eyes. 

「Nor catching any thieves, nor identifying any housebreakers?」 
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 walked straight thither, and having called for a mug 
of ale, announced, with an air of majesty, which was highly 
effective, that it had pleased his mistress, in consideration of his 
gallant behaviour on the occasion of the attempted robbery to 
deposit, in the local savings-bank, the sum of five-and-twenty 
pounds, for his sole use and benefit. At this, the two women-
servants lifted up their hands and eyes, and supposed that Mr. 
Giles would begin to be quite proud now; whereunto Mr. Giles, 
pulling out his shirt frill, replied, 「No, no」; and that if they 

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observed that he was at all haughty to his inferiors, he would 
thank them to tell him so. And then he made a great many other 
remarks, no less illustrative of his humility, which were received 
with equal favour and applause, and were, withal, 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 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 

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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 no 

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evening walks, save now and then, for a short distance, with Mrs. 
Maylie. He applied himself, with redoubled assiduity, to the 
instructions of the white-headed old gentleman, 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 unexpected 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 meadowland 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 of power of 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, 

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accommodate themselves with surprising readiness to our visions, 
until reality and imagination become so strangely blended that it 
is afterwards almost a matter of impossibility to separate the two. 
Nor is this, the most striking phenomenon, 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!」 he 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 

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his heart, and deprived him of his choice, 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. 

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. 

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Chapter 35 

Containing The Unsatisfactory Result Of Oliver』s
Adventure; 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 corner. 

「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 more agility than he could have 
been supposed to possess, struck into the same course at no 

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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 meadowland in another direction; 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 

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cottage garden from the meadow. 「The tall man leaped 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 dishes 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 with 
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 

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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 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. Mr. 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 was 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 breakfast-
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. ought to have left here, before,」 said 

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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, too often fade in blooming.」 

There were tears in the eyes of the gentle girl, as these words 
were spoken; and when one fell upon the flower over which she 
bent, and glistened brightly in its cup, making it more beautiful, it 
seemed as though the out-pouring of her fresh young heart, 
claimed kindred naturally, with the loveliest things in nature. 

「A 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 consolations, 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 

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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. 「Rose, my own dear 
Rose! For 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 with 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.」 

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「It is, that I may endeavour to deserve you; is it, 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 decision. 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, portion less 
girl, with a blight upon my name, should not give your friends 
reason to suspect that I had sordidly yielded 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!」 

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「If I could have done so, without doing heavy wrong to him I 
loved,」 rejoined Rose, 「I could have—」 

「Have received this declaration very indifferently?」 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 today, 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!」 

「Another word, Rose,」 said Harry. 「Your reason in your own 
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 
connections can help men in public life, are in store for you. But 
those connections 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 had so well supplied that 
mother』s place. In a word,」 said 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, 

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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 you 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 
stronger,」 said Rose, extending her hand. 「I must leave you now, 
indeed.」 

「I 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 

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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. 

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Chapter 36 

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. 

「A nd so you are resolved to be my travelling 
companion this morning; eh?」 said the doctor, as 
Harry Maylie 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. 

「I 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 
have made up your mind, in a great hurry, to stay here, and to 
accompany your mother, like a dutiful son, to the seaside. 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 went away, sir,」 rejoined Oliver. 

「That』s a fine fellow,」 said the doctor; 「you shall come and see 

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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 designation 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 further. The post-chaise drove up 
to the door shortly afterwards; and Giles coming in for the 
baggage, the good doctor bustled out, to see it packed. 

「Oliver,」 said Harry Maylie, in a low voice, 「let 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 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 

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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. 

「I should like to know—how my mother and Miss Maylie 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— 
they, 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 importance, 
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, today.」 

「Hallo!」 cried the doctor, letting down the front glass in a great 
hurry, and shouting to the postillion; 「something very short of 
flying will keep pace with me. Do you hear?」 

Jingling and clattering, till distance rendered its noise 
inaudible, and its progress only perceptible to the eye, the vehicle 
wound its way along the road, almost hidden in a cloud of dust, 

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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 had 
shrouded her from view when Harry raised 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. 

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Chapter 37 

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 
network, 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 modest round one. Mr. Bumble was no longer a beadle. 

There are some promotions in life, which, independent of the 
more substantial rewards they offer, acquire peculiar value and 

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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 tomorrow 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 tea-spoons, a pair of sugar-tongs, and, a milk-
pot; with a small quantity of second-hand furniture and twenty 
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 enough I paid for you, Lord 
above knows that!」 

Mr. Bumble turned, and encountered the face of his 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 

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eyes upon her. (「If she stands such a eye as that,」 said Mr. Bumble 
to himself, 「she can stand anything. It 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 was 
in no way overpowered by Mr. Bumble』s scowl, but, on the 
contrary, treated it with great disdain, and even raised 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 snoring 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!」 sneered Mrs. Bumble, with ineffable 
contempt. 

「I said the word, ma』am,」 said Mr. Bumble. 「The prerogative 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!」 

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Mrs. Bumble, seeing at a glance, that the decisive moment had 
now arrived, 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. Bumble was a hard-hearted 
brute, fell into a paroxysm of tears. 

But tears were not the things to find their way to Mr. Bumble』s 
soul; his heart was waterproof. they were less troublesome than a 
manual assault; but she was quite prepared to make trial of the 
latter mode of proceeding, as Mr. Bumble was 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. This preliminary 
proceeding lay 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. 「And take 
yourself away from here, unless you want me to do something 
desperate.」 

Mr. Bumble rose with a very rueful countenance—wondering 
much what something desperate might be. Picking up his hat, he 
looked towards the door. 

「Are you going?」 demanded Mrs. Bumble. 

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「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. Corney 
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 inconsiderable 
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 admiration, 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 dignity. 
「These women at least shall continue to respect the prerogative. 
Hollo! hollo, there! What do you mean by this noise, you hussies?」 

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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!」 repeated Mrs. Bumble. 「What do you 
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 delights 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 instantly to depart, on pain of receiving the 

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contents upon his portly person. 

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 henpeckery. 

「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 revulsion of 
feeling made him thirsty. He passed a great many public-houses; 
but, at length paused before one in a byway, 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 acknowledgement 

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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-andwater in silence, and read the paper with great show of pomp and 
circumstance. 

It so happened, however, as it will happen very often, 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 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 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 encouraging 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 

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Oliver Twist 387 

eyes, and softens down the temper,」 said Mr. Bumble. 「So cry 
away.」 

As he discharged himself of his 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 
stranger』s name, and thought in his impatience, he might supply 
the blank. 

「I see you were not,」 said the stranger; an expression of 
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 mean 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; were you 
not?」 

「I was,」 said Mr. Bumble, in some surprise; 「porochial beadle.」 

「Just so,」 rejoined the other, nodding his head. 「It was in that 
character I saw you. What are you now?」 

「Master of the workhouse,」 rejoined Mr. Bumble, slowly and 
impressively, to check any undue familiarity the stranger might 

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otherwise assume. 「Master of the workhouse, young man!」 

「You have the same eye to your own interest, that you always 
had, I doubt not?」 resumed the stranger, looking keenly into Mr. 
Bumble』s eyes, as he raised them in astonishment 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 「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?」 a 
Not too strong,」 replied Mr. Bumble, with a delicate cough. 

「You understand what that means, landlord!」 said the stranger 
dryly. 

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, today, 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.」 

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As he spoke, he pushed a couple of sovereigns across the table, 
to his companion, carefully, as though unwilling that the clinking 
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 satisfaction in his waistcoat 
pocket, he went on: 

「Carry your memory back—let me see—twelve years, last 
winter.」 

「It』s a long time,」 said Mr. Bumble. 「Very good. I』ve 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!」 

「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 afterwards ran away to London, 
as it was supposed.」 

「Why, you mean Oliver! Young Twist!」 said Mr. Bumble; 「I 
remember him, of course. There wasn』t an obstinater young 

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Oliver Twist 390 

rascal—」 

「It』s not of him I want to hear; I』ve heard enough of him,」 said 
the stranger, stopping Mr. Bumble in the very 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, whom the gin-and-water had 
rendered facetious. 「It would be hard to tell. There』s no midwifery 
there, whichever place she』s gone to; so I suppose 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 occurrences 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 disclosure 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 

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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. 

「Tomorrow,」 rejoined Bumble. 

「At nine in the evening,」 said the stranger, producing a scrap of 
paper, and writing down upon it, an obscure address by the waterside, 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 without 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. 

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Chapter 38 

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 miles 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 observation. 
The husband carried a lantern, from which, however, no light yet 
shone; and trudged a few paces in front as though—the way being 
dirty—to give his wife the benefit of treading in his heavy 
footprints. 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. 

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, 

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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 of 
their being actually employed. 

In the heart of this cluster of huts, and skirting the river, which 
its upper storey 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. 

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「Hollo, there!」 cried a voice from above. 

Following the sound, Mr. Bumble raised his head, and descried 
a man looking out of a door, breast-high, on the second storey. 
「Stand still a minute,」 cried the voice; 「I』ll 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 enterprise 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 woman, who had hesitated at first, walked boldly in, 
without any other invitation. Mr. Bumble, who was ashamed or 
afraid to lay 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 

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man can carry about with him. You won』t cool yourself so easily; 
don』t think it!」 

With 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 turn them 
towards the ground. 

「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 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, leading 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. 

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「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, 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 themselves, 
「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 
his 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 communication?」 
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 

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is?」 asked Monks. 

「Nobody better than you, I am persuaded,」 answered Mrs. 
Bumble, who did not want for spirit, as her yoke-fellow 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,」 interrupted 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 Monks, by 
turns, in undisguised astonishment—increased, if possible, when 
the latter sternly demanded what sum was required for the 
disclosure. 

「What』s 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-andtwenty 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.」 

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「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 hesitatingly. 

「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; 「I am here, my dear. And 
besides,」 said Mr. Bumble, his teeth chattering 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.」 

As Mr. Bumble spoke, he made a melancholy feint of grasping 
his lantern with fierce determination; and plainly showed, by the 
alarmed expression of every feature, that he did want a little 
rousing, and not a little, prior to making any very warlike 
demonstration—unless, indeed, against paupers, or other person 
or persons trained down for the purpose. 

「You are a fool,」 said Mrs. Bumble, in reply; 「and had better 
hold your tongue.」 

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「He had better have cut it out, before he came, 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 leaned over the small table in their eagerness to hear, 
and the woman also leaned 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. 

「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 

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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. I』ll 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 I saw that she 
was dead, and so removed the hand by force, I found it clasped a 

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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 it 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 woman. 

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-

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twenty pounds back again; and now he took courage to wipe off 
the perspiration which had been trickling over his nose, 
unchecked, during the whole of the previous dialogue. 

「I know nothing of the story, beyond what I can guess at,」 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 I?」 

「You may ask,」 said Monks, with some show of surprise; 「but 
whether I answer or not is another question.」 

「Which 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 do 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 trapdoor 
which opened close at Mr. Bumble』s feet, and caused that 
gentleman to retire several paces backward, 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 

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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 which had unavailingly attempted to stem its 
headlong course. 

「If you flung a man』s body down there, where would it be by 
tomorrow 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 

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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 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 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; and, 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. 

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Chapter 39 

Introduces Some Respectable Characters With
Whom The Reader Is Already Acquainted, And
Shows How Monks And The Jew Laid Their Worthy
Heads Together


O n the evening following that upon which the three 
worthies 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 gentleman』s having 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 
movables as spare clothes and linen, bespoke a state of extreme 
poverty; while the meagre and attenuated condition of Mr. Sikes 
himself would have fully confirmed these symptoms, if they had 
stood in any need of corroboration. 

The housebreaker was lying on the bed, wrapped in his white 

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waistcoat, 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 night-cap, 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 tonight, 
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.」 

This 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 
awkwardness, 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 head now?」 

「Oh! you』ve thought better of it, have you?」 growled Sikes, 
marking the tear which trembled in her eye. 「All the better for 
you, you have.」 

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「Why, you don』t mean to say, you』d be hard upon me tonight, 
Bill,」 said the girl, laying her hand upon his shoulder. 

「No!」 cried Sikes. 「Why not?」 

「Such a number of nights,」 said the girl, with a touch of 
woman』s tenderness, which communicated something like 
sweetness of tone, even to her voice—「such a number of nights as 
I』ve been patient with you, nursing and caring for you, as if you 
had been a child; and this the first that I』ve 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, without 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. 

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「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 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 newcomers, in some astonishment at their 
unlooked-for appearance. 

「Why, what evil wind has blowed you here?」 he asked Fagin. 

「No evil wind at all, my dear, for evil winds blow nobody any 
good; and I』ve 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 tablecloth; 
and handed the articles it contained, one by one, to Charley Bates; 

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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-andsixpenny 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, before 
they got it up to sitch a pitch of goodness—oh no! Two halfquartern brans; pound of best fresh; piece of double Glo』ster; and, 
to wind up all, some of the richest sort you ever lushed!」 

Uttering this last panegyric, Master Bates produced, 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 carried, which the invalid tossed 
down his throat without a moment』s hesitation. 

「Ah!」 said Fagin, rubbing his hands with great satisfaction. 
「You』ll do, Bill; you』ll do now.」 

「So!」 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, boy!」 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, 
「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 

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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,」 replied Fagin, 「I can』t go into a long 
explanation before company; but I couldn』t help it, upon my 
honour.」 

「Upon your what?」 growled Sikes, with excessive disgust. 
「Here! Cut me off a piece of that pie, one of you boys, to take the 
taste of that out of my mouth, or it』ll choke me dead.」 

「Don』t be out of temper, my dear,」 urged Fagin submissively. 「I 
have never forgot you, Bill; never once.」 

「No! I』ll pound it that you ha』n』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 

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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 tonight.」 

「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 to count it,」 said 
Sikes; 「but I must have some tonight; 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 prewented, 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 

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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 
asservations that would only leave eighteenpence to keep house 
with; Mr. Sikes sullenly remarking 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 
cupboard. 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 house so long. 
Damme, I』m 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, I』m blessed if I ain』t!」 

With these and other ejaculations of the same kind, Mr. Toby 

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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; ain』t he, Fagin?」 asked Tom. 

「No doubt at all of that, my dear.」 

「And it is a creditable thing to have his acquaintance; ain』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!」 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,」 replied Fagin; 「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 vivacious friend 

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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 about 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, 「I』ll 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 I』ve got none to lock up, my dear—ha! ha! ha!— 
none to lock up. It』s 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 off her bonnet and shawl, with the rapidity of lightning, 
and thrust them under 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 
haste and violence of this action, which, however, had been 
unobserved by Fagin, who had his back towards her at the time. 

「Bah!」 whispered the Jew, as though nettled by the 
interruption; 「it』s the man I expected before; he』s coming 
downstairs. Not a word about the money while he』s here, Nance. 

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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 was heard upon the stairs 
without. He reached it, at the same moment as the visitor, who, 
coming 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, anyway,」 replied Monks, with a smile. 「I 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 upstairs. Fagin laughed; and making some 
reply which did not reach her, seemed, by the creaking of the 

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Oliver Twist 416 

boards, to lead his companion to the second storey. 

Before the sound of their footsteps had ceased to echo through 
the house, the girl had slipped off her shoes; and drawing her 
gown 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; 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 descending. 
Monks went at once into the street; and the Jew crawled upstairs 
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, staring 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 conversation, 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 

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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 housebreaker. 

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 

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nothing unusual in her demeanour, and indeed, troubled himself 
so little about her, that, had her agitation been or 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 housebreaker 
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 his 
hands as he stared the girl in the face. 「You look like 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?」 

The 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 comin』 on, now, there』s something more than usual in 

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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 won』t know it again when 
you do want it.」 

The girl obeyed. Sikes, locking her hand in his, fell back upon 
the pillow, turning his eyes upon her face. They closed; opened 
again; closed once more; again opened. He shifted his position 
restlessly; and, after dozing again, 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』 

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heavy hand upon her shoulders; 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 
the 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 
Spitalfields 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 watching 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, the 
streets were comparatively deserted; and here her headlong 
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 off 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 

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Park. As the brilliant light of the lamp which burned 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 determined 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 want 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 
make that a job that two of you won』t like to do. Isn』t there 
anybody here,」 she said, looking round, 「that will see a simple 
message carried for a poor wretch like me?」 

This appeal produced an effect on a good-tempered-faced man-
cook, who with some other of the servants was looking on, and 
who stepped forward to interfere. 

「Take it up for her, Joe; can』t you?」 said this person. 

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Oliver Twist 422 

「What』s the good?」 replied the man. 「You don』t suppose the 
young lady will see such as her, do you?」 

This allusion to Nancy』s doubtful character, raised a vast 
quantity of chaste wrath in the bosoms of four housemaids, who 
remarked, with great fervour, that the creature was a disgrace to 
her sex; and strongly advocated her being thrown, ruthlessly, into 
the kennel. 

「Do what you like with me,」 said the girl, turning to the men 
again; 「but do what I ask you first, and I ask you to give this 
message for God Almighty』s sake.」 

The soft-hearted cook added his intercession, and the result 
was that the man who had first appeared undertook its delivery. 

「What』s it to be?」 said the man, with one foot on the stairs. 

「That a young woman earnestly asks to speak to Miss Maylie 
alone,」 said Nancy; 「and that if the lady will only hear the first 
word she has to say, she will know whether to hear her business, 
or to have her turned out of doors as an impostor.」 

「I say,」 said the man, 「you』re coming it strong!」 

「You give the message,」 said the girl firmly; 「and let me hear 
the answer.」 

The man ran upstairs. Nancy remained, pale and almost 
breathless, listening with quivering lip to the very audible 
expressions of scorn, of which the chaste housemaids were very 
prolific; and of which they became still more so, when the man 
returned, and said the young woman was to walk upstairs. 

「It』s no good being proper in this world,」 said the first 
housemaid. 

「Brass can do better than the gold what has stood the fire,」 said 
the second. 

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Oliver Twist 423 

The third contented herself with wondering 「what ladies was 
made of;」 and the fourth took the first in a quartet of 「Shameful!」 
with which the Dianas concluded. 

Regardless of all this, for she had weightier matters at heart, 
Nancy followed the man, with trembling limbs, to a small 
antechamber, lighted by a lamp from the ceiling. Here he left her, 
and retired. 

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Chapter 40 

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 thought 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 shrank 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 affected 
carelessness as she said: 

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「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 displeasure, 
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.」 

「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 

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they have given me, so help me God! Do 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.」 

「What dreadful things are these!」 said Rose, involuntarily 
falling from her strange companion. 

「Thank Heaven upon your knees, dear lady,」 cried the girl, 
「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 you,」 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 conversation 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—」 

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「Yes,」 said Rose, 「I understand.」 

「That Monks,」 pursued the girl, 「had seen him accidentally 
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 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?」 

「I』ll tell you, lady. Last night he came again. Again they went 
upstairs, 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 felony which Fagin could easily manage, 
after having made a good profit of him besides.」 

「What is all this?」 said Rose. 

「The truth, lady, though it comes from my lips,」 replied the girl. 

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「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 his words,」 said Nancy, glancing uneasily 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 thousand 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 I』d 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 

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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 as the tears coursed down her face, 「do 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 atonement.」 

「It is,」 cried the girl, writhing in the agony of her mind; 「I 
cannot leave him now! I 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 

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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 know 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?」 said 
Rose. 「This mystery must be investigated, or how will its 
disclosure to me benefit Oliver, whom you are anxious to serve?」 

「You must have some kind of 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 
thus 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.」 

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「Stay another moment,」 interposed Rose, as the girl moved 
hurriedly 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 wickedness 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 carry you 
all lengths—even such as you, who have a 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 has 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 judgement, from a comfort and a pride, into a new means of 
violence and suffering.」 

「You will,」 said Rose, after a pause, 「take 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,」 said 
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 grief 

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to think of what I am, tonight, 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 
extraordinary interview, which had more the semblance of a rapid 
dream than an actual occurrence, sank into a chair and 
endeavoured to collect her wandering 

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Chapter 41 

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 Oliver』s 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 Maylie』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 recapture, to trust him with the secret, 
when her representations in the girl』s behalf could be seconded by 
no experienced person. These were all reasons for the greatest 

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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 
learned 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 bodyguard, entered the 
room in such breathless haste and violent agitation, as seemed to 
betoken some new cause of alarm. 

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「What makes you look so hurried?」 asked Rose, advancing to 
meet him. 

「I hardly know how; I feel as if I should be choked,」 replied the 
boy. 「Oh, dear! To think that I should see 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, and 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 
moment』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 

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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. Brownlow on very 
pressing business. The servant soon returned, to beg that she 
would walk upstairs; and following him into an upper room, Miss 
Maylie was presented to an elderly gentleman of benevolent 
appearance, 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. Grimwig, will you leave us for a few minutes?」 

「I believe,」 interposed Miss Maylie, 「that at this period of our 
interview, I need not give the gentleman the trouble of going away. 
If I am correctly informed, he is cognisant 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 

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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 into his former attitude, 
and looking out straight before him emitted a long, deep whistle, 
which seemed, at last, not to be discharged on empty air, but to die 
away in the innermost recesses of his stomach. 

Mr. Brownlow was no less surprised, although his astonishment 
was not expressed in the same eccentric manner. He drew his 
chair nearer to Miss Maylie』s, and said: 

「Do me the favour, my dear young lady, to leave entirely out of 
the question that goodness and benevolence of which you speak, 
and of which nobody else knows anything; and if you have it in 
your power to produce any evidence which will alter the 
unfavourable opinion I was once induced to entertain of that poor 
child, in Heaven』s name put me in possession of it.」 

「A bad one! I』ll eat my head if he is not a bad one,」 growled Mr. 
Grimwig, speaking by some ventriloquial power, without moving a 
muscle of his face. 

「He is a child of a noble nature and a warm heart,」 said Rose, 
colouring; 「and that Power which has thought fit to try him 
beyond his years, has planted in his breast affections and feelings 
which would do honour to many who have numbered his days six 

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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.」 

「Do not heed my friend, Miss Maylie,」 said Mr. Brownlow; 「he 
does not mean what he says.」 

「Yes, he does,」 growled Mr. Grimwig. 

「No, he does not,」 said Mr. Brownlow, obviously rising in wrath 
as he spoke. 

「He』ll eat his head, if he doesn』t,」 growled Mr. Grimwig. 

「He would deserve to have it knocked off, if he does,」 said Mr. 
Brownlow. 

「And he』d uncommonly like to see any man offer to do it,」 
responded Mr. Grimwig, knocking his stick upon the floor. 

Having gone thus far, the two old gentleman severally took 
snuff, and afterwards shook hands, according to their invariable 
custom. 

「Now, Miss Maylie,」 said Mr. Brownlow, 「to return to the 
subject in which your humanity is so much interested. Will you let 
me know what intelligence you have of this poor child; allowing 
me to premise that I exhausted every means in my power of 
discovering 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 her thoughts, at once related, 
in a few natural words, all that had befallen Oliver since he left Mr. 
Brownlow』s house; reserving Nancy』s information for that 
gentleman』s private ear, and concluding with the assurance that 

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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. 「This is great happiness 
to me—great happiness. But you have not told me where he is 
now, Miss Maylie. You must pardon my finding fault with you— 
but why not have brought him?」 

「He is waiting in a coach at the door,」 replied Rose. 

「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. Grimwig 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 it all the time. After performing this 
evolution, he rose and limped as fast as he could up and down the 
room at least a dozen times, and then stopping before Rose, 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』m old enough to be your 
grandfather. You』re a sweet girl. I like you. Here they are!」 

In fact, as he threw himself at one dextrous dive into his former 
seat, Mr. Brownlow returned, accompanied by Oliver, whom Mr. 
Grimwig received very graciously; and if the gratification of that 
moment had been the only reward for all her anxiety and care in 
Oliver』s behalf, Rose Maylie would have been well repaid. 

「There is somebody else who should not be forgotten, by the 
bye,」 said Mr. Brownlow, ringing the bell. 「Send Mrs. Bedwin 
here, if you please.」 

The old housekeeper answered the summons with all despatch; 

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and dropping a curtsey at the door, waited for orders. 

「Why, you get blinder every day, Bedwin,」 said Mr. Brownlow, 
rather testily. 

「Well, that I do, sir,」 replied the old lady. 「People』s eyes, at my 
time of life, don』t improve with age, sir.」 

「I could have told you that,」 rejoined Mr. Brownlow; 「but put 
on your glasses, and see if you can』t find out what you were 
wanted for, will you?」 

The old lady began to rummage in her pocket for her 
spectacles. But Oliver』s patience was not proof against this new 
trial; and yielding to his first impulse, he sprang into her arms. 

「God be good to me!」 cried the old lady, embracing him; 「it is 
my innocent boy!」 

「My dear old nurse!」 cried Oliver. 

「He would come back—I knew he would,」 said the old lady, 
holding him in her arms. 「How well he looks, and how like a 
gentleman』s son he is dressed again! Where have you been, this 
long, long while? Ah! the same sweet face, but not so pale; the 
same soft eye, but not so sad. I have never forgotten them, or his 
quiet smile, but have seen them every day, side by side with those 
of my own dear children, dead and gone since I was a lightsome 
young creature.」 Running on thus, and now holding Oliver from 
her to mark how he had grown, now clasping him to her and 
passing her fingers fondly through his hair, the good soul laughed 
and wept upon his neck by turns. 

Leaving her and Oliver to compare notes at leisure, Mr. 
Brownlow led the way into another room, and there heard from 
Rose a full narration of her interview with Nancy, which 
occasioned him no little surprise and perplexity. Rose also 

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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 hold solemn conference 
with the worthy doctor himself. To afford 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 hot-brained 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 and female, and beg them to 
accept a hundred pounds, or so, apiece, as a trifling mark of our 
esteem, and some slight acknowledgement of their kindness to 
Oliver?」 

「Not exactly that,」 rejoined Mr. Brownlow, laughing; 「but we 

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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 parentage, and regaining for 
him the inheritance of which, if this story be true, he has been 
fraudulently deprived.」 

「Ah!」 said Mr. Losberne, 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 compromising 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; abut no doubt 
they will bring that about for themselves in the fulness of time, 
and if we step in to forestall them, it seems to me that we shall be 
performing a very quixotic act, in direct opposition to our own 
interest—or at least Oliver』s, which is the same thing.」 

「How?」 inquired the doctor. 

「Thus. It is quite clear that we shall have extreme difficulty in 
getting to the bottom of this mystery, unless we can bring this 
man, Monks, upon his knees. That can only be done by stratagem, 
and by catching him when he is not surrounded by these people. 
For, suppose he were apprehended, we have no proof against him. 

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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 rogue and 
vagabond; and of course ever afterwards his mouth would be so 
obstinately closed that he might as well, for our purpose, 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 Mrs. Maylie sided very strongly with Mr. Brownlow, that 
gentleman』s proposition was carried unanimously. 

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「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. 

「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 concluding 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 accordingly added to the 
committee. 

「We stay in town, of course,」 said Mr. 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 forestall them by 
telling my own story. Believe me, I make this request with good 

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reason, for I might otherwise excite hopes destined never to be 
realised, and only increase difficulties and disappointments 
already 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 Mrs. 
Maylie, and escorted her into the supper-room. Mr. Losberne 
followed, leading Rose; and the council was, for the present, 
effectually broken up. 

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Chapter 42 

An Old Acquaintance Of Oliver』s, Exhibiting
Decided Marks Of 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 a 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 heed of 

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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 ye are, Charlotte.」 

「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 anybody』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 streaming 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, 

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Oliver Twist 448 

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.」 

「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. Claypole, 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 
came 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, anyway.」 

「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 

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Oliver Twist 449 

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 explanation of his motives, and they walked 
on very leisurely 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 St. 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; 
and 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 

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Oliver Twist 450 

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—th-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 
entered the house, followed by his companion. 

There was nobody in the bar but a young Jew, who, with his 
two elbows on the counter, was reading a dirty newspaper. He 
stared very hard at Noah, and Noah stared very hard at him. 

If Noah had been attired in his charity-boy』s dress, there 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 attention 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 sleep here tonight.」 

「I』b dot certaid you cad,」 said Barney, who was the attendant 
sprite; 「but I』ll 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 

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Oliver Twist 451 

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. 

「Hush!」 said Barney; 「stradegers id the next roob.」 

「Strangers!」 repeated the old man in a whisper. 

「Ah! Ad rud uds too,」 added Barney. 「Frob the cuttry, but 
subthig in your way, or I』b 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 homeopathic 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 

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Oliver Twist 452 

fellow』s looks. He』d be of use to us; he knows how to train the girl 
already. Don』t 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 commencement 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.」 

「I 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 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 on 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 

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Oliver Twist 453 

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 gentleman 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. Claypole looked into the 
porter-pot with an aspect of deep wisdom; and having well 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 that 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 his nose 
with his right forefinger—a gesture which Noah attempted to 
imitate, though not with complete success, in consequence of his 

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Oliver Twist 454 

own nose not being large enough for the purpose. However, Mr. 
Fagin seemed to interpret the endeavour as expressing a perfect 
coincidence with his opinion, and put about the liquor which 
Barney reappeared 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. You』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.」 

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Oliver Twist 455 

Noah Claypole』s mind might have been at ease after this 
assurance, but his body certainly was not; for he snuffled and 
writhed about, into various uncouth positions, eyeing his new 
friend meanwhile with mingled fear and suspicion. 

「I』ll tell you more,」 said Fagin, after he had reassured the girl, 
by dint of friendly nods and muttered encouragements. 「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 upstairs 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 

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Oliver Twist 456 

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,」 said Fagin; 「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 take you, 
even on my recommendation, if he didn』t 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 Fagin. 
「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. 

「Tomorrow 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 

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Oliver Twist 457 

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!」 

「I heard you talk of something in the spy way upon the 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 corner.」 

「Don』t they holler out a good deal, and scratch sometimes?」 
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.」 

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Oliver Twist 458 

「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 a 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. 

「Well, that』s all right!」 said Noah, when he had recovered 
himself, and Charlotte had returned. 「What time tomorrow shall 
we say?」 

「Will ten do?」 asked Fagin, adding, as Mr. Claypole nodded 
assent, 「What name shall I tell my good friend?」 

「Mr. Bolter,」 replied Noah, who had prepared himself for such 
an emergency. 「Mr. Morris Bolter. This is Mrs. 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. 

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Oliver Twist 459 

Morris Bolter, late Claypole, turning to Fagin. 「You understand?」 

「Oh, yes, I understand—perfectly,」 replied Fagin, telling the 
truth for once. 「Good-night! Good-night!」 

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 gentleman who appreciated the 
dignity of a special appointment on the kinchin lay, in London and 
its vicinity. 

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Oliver Twist 460 

Chapter 43 

Wherein Is Shown How The Artful Dodger Got Into
Trouble.


 「A nd 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,」 said Fagin. 「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 his position, 「we have a general number 
one; that is, you can』t consider yourself as number one, without

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considering me too as the same, and all the other young people.」 

「Oh, the devil!」 exclaimed Mr. Bolter. 

「You see,」 pursued Fagin, affecting to disregard this 
interruption, awe 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.」 

「Certainly,」 replied Mr. Bolter. 「Yer about right there.」 

「Well! You can』t take care of yourself, number one, without 
taking care of me, number one.」 

「Number two, you mean,」 said Mr. Bolter, who was largely 
endowed with the quality of selfishness. 

「No, I don』t!」 retorted Fagin. 「I』m of the same importance to 
you, as you are to yourself.」 

「I say,」 interrupted Mr. Bolter, 「yer a very nice man, and I』m 
very fond of yer; but we ain』t quite so thick together, as all that 
comes to.」 

「Only think,」 said Fagin, shrugging his shoulders, and 
stretching out his hands; 「only consider. You』ve done what』s a 
very pretty thing, and what I love you for doing; but what at the 
same time would put the cravat round your throat, that』s so very 
easily tied and so very difficult to unloose—in plain English, the 
halter!」 

Mr. Bolter put his hand to his neckerchief, as if he felt it 
inconveniently tight; and murmured an assent, qualified in tone 
but not in substance. 

「The gallows,」 continued Fagin—「the gallows, my dear, is an 
ugly finger-post, which points out a very short and sharp turning 
that has stopped many a bold fellow』s career on the broad 
highway. To keep in the easy road, and keep it at a distance, is 

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object number one with you.」 

「Of course it is,」 replied Mr. Bolter. 「What do yer talk about 
such things for?」 

「Only to show you my meaning clearly,」 said the Jew, raising 
his eyebrows. 「To be able to do that, you depend upon me. To 
keep my little business all snug, I depend upon you. The first is 
your number one, the second my number one. The more you value 
your number one, the more careful you must be of mine; so we 
come at last to 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.」 

「That』s 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. Bolter』s respect visibly increased, and became 
tempered at the same time, with a degree of wholesome fear, 
which it was highly desirable to awaken. 

「It』s 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.」 

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「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—his 
own, my dear, his own, for he took snuff himself, and was very 
fond of it. They remanded him till today, 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. 

「I』m 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 Mr. 
Bolter. 「What』s the good of talking in that way to me; why don』t 
yer speak so as I can understand yer?」 

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 combination 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 all up, Fagin,」 said Charley, when he and his new 
companion had been made known to each other. 

「What do you mean?」 

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「They』ve 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—going abroad for a common 
twopenny-halfpenny sneeze-box! I never thought he』d 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 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 record, 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 be stand in the 
Newgate Calendar? P』r』aps 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 

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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 bigwig, 
Charley—one that』s got the greatest gift of the gab—to carry on his 
defence; and he shall make a speech for 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. 

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「I 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! What a regular 
game! All the bigwigs 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 bad 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 today, 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. 

「Then why don』t you send this new cove?」 asked Master Bates, 
laying his hand on Noah』s arm. 「Nobody knows him.」 

「Why, if he didn』t mind—」 observed Fagin. 

「Mind!」 interposed Charley. 「What should he have to mind?」 

「Really nothing, my dear,」 said Fagin, turning to Mr. Bolter, 
「really nothing.」 

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「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 was 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 well garnished with turnpike tickets, and a carter』s 
whip. Thus equipped, he was to saunter into the office, as some 

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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 questions, 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 

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depositions to a couple of policemen and a man in plain 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 conversation 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 smelled close and unwholesome; the 
walls were dirt-coloured; 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 acquaintance 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. 

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 description given him of Mr. Dawkins 
was to be seen. He waited 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 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, 

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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.」 

「We』ll see wot the Secretary of State for the Home Affairs 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 I』ve got an appointment with a gentleman in the 
city, and as I』m 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 p』r』aps 
there won』t be an action for damage against them as kept 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 「the 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 jailer. 「He 
has been pretty well everywhere else. I know him well, your 
Worship.」 

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「Oh! you know me, do you?」 cried the Artful, making a note of 
the statement. 「Wery good. That』s a case of deformation of 
character, anyway.」 Here 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? I should 
like to see 』em.」 

This wish was immediately gratified, for a policeman stepped 
forward who had seen the prisoner attempt the pocket of an 
unknown gentleman in a crowd, and indeed take a handkerchief 
therefrom, which, being a very old one, he deliberately put back 
again, after trying it on his own countenance. For this reason, he 
took the Dodger into custody as soon as he 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 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 conversation 
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. 

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「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. It』ll—」 

「There! He』s fully committed!」 interposed the clerk. 「Take him 
away.」 

「Come on,」 said the jailer. 

「Oh, ah! I』ll come on,」 replied the Dodger, brushing his hat 
with the palm of his hand. 「Ah! (to the Bench) it』s no use your 
looking frightened; I won』t show you no mercy, not a ha』porth of it. 
You』ll 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 

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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. 

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Chapter 44 

The Time Arrives For Nancy To Redeem Her
Pledge To Rose Maylie—She Fails.


Adept as she was, in all the arts of cunning and 
dissimulation, the girl Nancy could not wholly conceal the 
effect which the knowledge of the step she had taken, 
worked 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 originators, and bitter as 
were her feelings towards Fagin, who had led her, step by step, 
deeper and deeper down 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 that encompassed her—and what more could she 

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do! She was resolved. 

Though all her mental struggles terminated in this conclusion, 
they forced themselves upon her, again and again, and left their 
traces too. She grew pale and thin, even within a few days. 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—often 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 thoughts 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 struck 
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.」 

Fagin 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 

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pat him on the shoulder. 「It 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 even this 
concession. 「You』re like yourself tonight, Bill! Quite like yourself.」 

「I don』t feel like myself when you lay that withered old claw on 
my shoulder, so take it away,」 said Sikes, casting off 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 her bonnet, and 
was now leaving the room. 

「Hallo!」 cried Sikes. 「Nance. Where』s the gal going 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.」 

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「I』m not well. I told you that before,」 rejoined the girl. 「I want a 
breath of air.」 

「Put your head out of the winder,」 replied Sikes. 

「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 
girl, turning very pale. 「What do you mean, Bill? Do you know 
what you』re doing?」 

「Know what I』m—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 

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only one hour—do—do!」 

「Cut my limbs off one by one!」 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!」 
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. 

「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 tonight 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 won』t come out—eh?」 

「Like enough.」 

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「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 black-hearted 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 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 sightseers. Show him a light.」 

Nancy followed the old man downstairs, with a candle. When 
they reached the passage, he laid his finger on his lips, 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. 

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「The reason of all this,」 replied Fagin. 「If he」—he pointed with 
his skinny forefinger up the stairs—「is so hard with you (he』s a 
brute, Nance, a brute-beast), why don』t you—」 

「Well?」 said the girl, as Fagin paused, with his mouth almost 
touching her ear, and his eyes looking into hers. 

「No matter just now,」 said Fagin. 「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 manner, her repeated absences from 
home alone, her comparative 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 

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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 persuasion,」 thought Fagin, 「what more likely than 
that she would consent to poison him? 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 homewards, 「can I increase my 
influence with her? what new power can I acquire?」 

Such brains are fertile in expedients. If, without extracting a 
confession from herself, he laid a watch, discovered 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 

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into his designs, could he not secure her compliance?」 

「I 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. 

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Chapter 45 

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 bottom 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 women, 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 
him, as he had evidently sat down with a determination to do a 
great deal of business. 

「You did well yesterday, my dear,」 said Fagin. 「Beautiful! Six 
shillings and nine-pence-halfpenny on the very first day! The 
kinchin lay will be a fortune to you.」 

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「Don』t 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 milkcan 
was standing by itself outside a public-house. I thought it might 
get rusty with 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 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 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. 

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「If you do it well, a pound, my dear. One pound,」 said Fagin, 
wishing to interest him in the scent as much as 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?」 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 I ha! 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 at 
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 tonight,」 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, 

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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 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 here,」 whispered Fagin. He signed to Barney, who 
withdrew. In an instant, the lad entered the room adjoining, and, 
under pretence of snuffling 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 

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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 on 
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. 

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Chapter 46 

The 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, 
accommodated 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 footsteps. 
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 by 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 stopped. 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 
were, hurried quickly past; very possibly without seeing, but 
certainly without noticing, either the woman, or the man who kept 
her in view. Their appearance was not calculated to attract the 

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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, by any one 
who passed. 

A mist hung over the river, deepening the red glare of the fires 
that burned upon the small craft moored off the different wharves, 
and rendering darker and more indistinct the murky 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 St. Saviour』s Church, and the 
spire of St. 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. Midnight 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. 

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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 joined by 
this new associate. They halted with an exclamation 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 countryman 
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 St. 
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 down, 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 

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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. He was on the point of 
emerging from his hiding-place, and regaining the road above, 
when he heard the sound of footsteps, and directly afterwards of 
voices almost close to 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 a 
gentleman. 「I will not suffer the young lady to go any further. 
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 tonight that I can hardly 

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stand.」 

「A fear of what?」 asked the gentleman, who seemed to pity her. 

「I scarcely know 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 burn as if I was on fire, have been upon me all 
day. I was reading a book tonight, 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 
tonight.」 

「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 companion. 
「Poor creature! She seems to need it.」 

「Your haughty religious people would have held their heads up 
to see me as I am tonight, 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.」 

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「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 tonight, I 
hope?」 asked the old gentleman. 

「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 gentleman. 

「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 

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firmly believe you are.」 

「I am,」 replied 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 gentleman. 

「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 prepared 
for this answer. 

「Never!」 returned the girl. 

「Tell me why?」 

「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 together, and I』ll 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 that he had been aiming to attain, 「put Monks into my 
hands, and leave him to me to deal with.」 

「What if he turned against the others?」 

「I promise you that in that case, if the truth is forced from him, 

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there the matter will rest; there must be circumstances in Oliver』s 
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, 「this 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 know 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.」 

「I 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 import 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 information 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 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 

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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—」 

「A 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 
carelessness, he took a step or two nearer the concealed spy, as 
the latter could tell from the distinctness with which he heard him 

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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 gentleman, 
with a voice and emphasis of kindness that might have touched a 
much harder and more obdurate heart. 「Think 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 
misspent, 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 

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hesitates, I am sure.」 

「I fear not, my dear,」 said the gentleman. 

「No, sir, I do not,」 replied the girl, after a short struggle. 「I am 
chained to my old life. I loathe and hate it now, 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!」 repeated 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 girl. 「Good-night, good-night!」 

The gentleman turned away. 

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「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, no, 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! 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 sank 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 

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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 Claypole darted away at his 
utmost speed, and made for the Jew』s house as fast as his legs 
would carry him. 

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 Chapter 47 

Fatal Consequences. 

It was nearly two hours before daybreak; 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 candle; which 
was 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 refusal to yield him up; 
bitter disappointment at the loss of his revenge on Sikes; the fear 

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of detection, and ruin, and death; 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 last,」 he muttered, wiping his dry and fevered mouth. 「At 
last!」 

The bell rang gently as he spoke. He crept upstairs 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. It』s 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 speaking. But he did not take 
his eyes off the robber, for an instant, during this action; and now 
that they sat over against each other, face to face, he looked fixedly 
at him, with his lips quivering so violently, and his face so altered 
by the emotions which had mastered him, that the housebreaker 
involuntarily drew back his chair, and surveyed him with a look of 
real affright. 

「Wot now?」 cried Sikes. 「Wot do you look at a man so for?」 

Fagin raised his right hand, and shook his trembling forefinger 
in the air; but his passion was so great, that the power of speech 

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was for the moment gone. 

「Damme!」 said Sikes, feeling in his breast with a look of alarm. 
「He』s gone mad. I must look to myself here.」 

「No, no,」 rejoined Fagin, finding his voice. 「It』s not—You』re not 
the person, Bill. I』ve no—no fault to find with you.」 

「Oh, you haven』t, haven』t you?」 said Sikes, looking sternly at 
him, and ostentatiously passing a pistol into a more convenient 
pocket. 「That』s lucky—for one of us. Which one that is, don』t 
matter.」 

「I』ve got that to tell you, Bill,」 said Fagin, drawing his chair 
nearer, 「will make you worse than me.」 

「Aye?」 returned the robber, with an incredulous air. 「Tell 
away! Look sharp, or Nance will think I』m lost.」 

「Lost!」 cried Fagin. 「She has pretty well settled that, in her 
own mind, already.」 

Sikes looked with an aspect of great perplexity into the Jew』s 
face, and reading no satisfactory explanation of the riddle there, 
clenched his coat collar in his huge hand and shook him soundly. 

「Speak, will you!」 he said; 「or if you won』t, it shall be for want 
of breath. Open your mouth and say wot you』ve got to say in plain 
words Out with it, you thundering old cur, out with it!」 

「Suppose that lad that』s lying there—」 Fagin began. 

Sikes turned round to where Noah was sleeping, as if he had 
not previously observed him. 「Well?」 he said, resuming his former 
position. 

「Suppose that lad,」 pursued Fagin, 「was to peach—to blow 
upon us all—first seeking out the right folks for the purpose, and 
then having a meeting with 』em in the street to paint our 
likenesses, describe every mark that they might know us by, and 

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the crib where we might be most easily taken. Suppose he was to 
do all this, and besides to blow upon a plant we』ve all been in, 
more or less—of his own fancy; not grabbed, trapped, tried, ear-
wigged by the parson and brought to it on bread and water—but 
of his own fancy; to please his own taste; stealing out at nights to 
find those most interested against us, and peaching to them. Do 
you hear 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. 「I, that know so 
much, and could hang so many besides myself!」 

「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 wagon 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. 「Whoever it was, 
I』d serve them the same.」 

Fagin looked hard at the robber; and, motioning him to be 
silent, stooped over the bed upon the floor, and shook the sleeper 
to rouse him. Sikes leaned forward in his chair, looking on with his 
hands upon his knees, as if wondering much what all this 

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questioning and preparation was to end in. 

「Bolter, Bolter! Poor lad!」 said Fagin, looking up with an 
expression of devilish anticipation, and speaking slowly and with 
marked emphasis. 「He』s tired—tired with watching 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 time, Noah rubbed his eyes, and, giving a 
heavy yawn, looked sleepily about him. 

「Tell me that again—once again, just for him to hear,」 said the 
Jew, pointing to Sikes as he spoke. 

「Tell yer what?」 asked the sleepy Noah, shaking himself 
pettishly. 

「That about—NANCY,」 said Fagin, clutching Sikes by the 
wrist, as if to prevent his leaving the house before he had heard 
enough. 「You followed her?」 

「Yes.」 

「To London Bridge?」 

「Yes.」 

「Where she met two people?」 

「So she did.」 

「A gentleman and a lady that she had gone to of her own accord 
before, who asked her to give up all her pals, and Monks first, 
which she did—and to describe him, which she did—and to tell 
her what house it was that we meet at, and go to, which she did— 
and where it could be best watched from, which she did—and 
what time the people went there, which she did. She did all this. 
She told it all every word without a threat, without a murmur— 

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she did—did she not?」 cried Fagin, half-mad with fury. 

「All right,」 replied Noah, scratching his head. 「That』s just what 
it was!」 

「What did they say about last Sunday?」 

「About last Sunday!」 replied Noah, considering. 「Why, I told 
yer that before.」 

「Again. Tell it again!」 cried Fagin, tightening his grasp on 
Sikes, and brandishing his other hand aloft, as the foam flew from 
his lips. 

「They asked her,」 said Noah, who, as he grew more wakeful, 
seemed to have a dawning perception who Sikes was—「they 
asked her why she didn』t come last Sunday, as she promised. She 
said she couldn』t.」 

「Why—why? Tell him that.」 

「Because she was forcibly kept at home by Bill, the man she 
had told them of before,」 replied Noah. 

「What more of him?」 cried Fagin. 「What more of the man she 
had told them of before? Tell him that, tell him that.」 

「Why, that she couldn』t very easily get out of doors unless he 
knew where she was going to,」 said Noah; 「and so the first time 
she went to see the lady, she—ha! ha! ha! it made me laugh when 
she said it, that it did— she gave him a drink of laudanum.」 

「Hell』s fire!」 cried Sikes, breaking fiercely from Fagin. 「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 

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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 hand 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. 「I 
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 which Fagin 
had turned the lock, dashed into the silent streets. 

Without one pause, or moment』s consideration, without once 
turning his head to the right or left, or raising his eyes to the sky, 
or lowering them to the ground, but looking 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 his 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. 

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「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. 

「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—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, suppressing 
his breath. 「You were watched tonight; 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, you cannot have 
the heart to kill me. Oh! think of all I have given up, only this one 
night, for you. You shall have time to think, and save yourself this 
crime; I will not loose my hold, you cannot throw me off. Bill, Bill, 
for dear God』s sake, for your own, for mine, stop before you spill 
my blood! I have been true to you, upon my guilty soul I have!」 

The man struggled violently to release his arms; but those of 

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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 tonight 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 heavy club and struck her down. 

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Chapter 48 

The Flight Of Sikes. 

O f all bad deeds that, under cover of the darkness, had been 
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 sight had been a ghastly one in the dull 
morning, what was it now, in all that brilliant light! 

He had not moved; he had been afraid to stir. There had been a 
moan and motion of the hand; and, with terror added to rage, he 
had struck and struck again. Once he threw a rug over it; but it 
was worse to fancy the eyes, and imagine them moving towards 
him, than to see them glaring upward, as if watching the reflection 
of the pool of gore that quivered and danced in the sunlight on the 
ceiling. He had plucked it off again. And there was the body— 
mere flesh and blood, no more—but such flesh, and so much 
blood! 

He struck a light, kindled a fire, and thrust the club into it. 
There was hair upon the edge, which blazed and shrank into a 

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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 burn 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 
burned 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 
which stands the stone in honour of Whittington; turned down to 
Highgate Hill, unsteady of purpose, and uncertain where to go; 
struck off to the right again, almost as soon as he began to descend 
it; and taking the footpath 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 which joins the villages of Hampstead and Highgate, 
made along the remaining portion of the heath to the fields at 

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North End, in one of which he laid himself down under a hedge, 
and slept. 

Soon he was up again, and away—not far into the country, but 
backwards towards London by the highroad—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 passed, 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 church 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 taproom, and some country labourers were drinking before 

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it. They made room for the stranger, but he sat down in the 
farthest corner, 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 
exhausted, upon the age of some old man who had been buried on 
the previous Sunday; 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 
the corner, and had almost dropped asleep, when he was half-
awakened by the noisy entrance of a newcomer. 

This was an antic fellow, half-pedlar and half-mountebank, who 
travelled about the country on foot to vend hones, strops, razors, 
wash-balls, 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 supper, 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 

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woollen stuff. Wine-stains, fruit-stains, beer-stains, water-stains, 
paint-stains, pitch-stains, any stains, all come out at one rub with 
the infallible and invaluable composition. If a lady stains her 
honour, she has only need to swallow one cake and she』s cured at 
once—for it』s poison. If a gentleman wants to prove this, he has 
only need to bolt one little square, and he has put it beyond 
question—for it』s quite as satisfactory as a pistol-bullet, and a 
great deal nastier in the flavour, consequently the more credit in 
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. 

「It』s 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 can』t 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.」 

「Ah!」 cried Sikes, starting up. 「Give that back.」 

「I』ll 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, 

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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 imprecation 
overthrew the table, and tearing the hat from him, burst out of the 
house. 

With the same perversity of feeling and irresolution that has 
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 stagecoach that was 
standing in the street, was walking past, when he recognised the 
mail from London, and saw 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 don』t 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.」 

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「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, but I don』t know 
when. Here, give hold. All ri-right!」 

The horn sounded a few cheerful notes, and the coach was 
gone. 

Sikes remained standing in the street, apparently unmoved by 
what he had just heard, and agitated by no stronger feeling than a 
doubt where to go. At length he went back again, and took the 
road which leads from Hatfield to St. Albans. 

He went on doggedly; but as he left the town behind him, and 
plunged into the solitude and darkness of the road, he felt a dread 
and awe creeping upon him which shook him 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 

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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 
gravestone, 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 midst of the 
darkness—light in themselves, but giving 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, 

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and rushed into the field without. The figure was behind him. He 
re-entered the shed, and shrank 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 around, 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 yard and outhouses, 
and others coming laden from the burning pile, amidst a shower of 
falling sparks, and the tumbling down of red-hot beams. The 

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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 spurting 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 tomorrow night there』ll be a cry all through 

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the country.」 

He hurried off, and walked till he almost dropped upon the 
ground; then lay down in a lane, and had a long, but broken and 
uneasy sleep. He wandered on again, irresolute and undecided, 
and oppressed with the fear of another 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. They』ll never expect to nab me there, 
after this country scent. Why can』t I lay by for a week or so, and, 
forcing blunt from Fagin, get abroad to France? Damme, I』ll 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 description 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 for 
a pond, and 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; and, 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, 

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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 robber. 

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. 

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Chapter 49 

Monks And Mr. Brownlow At Length Meet—Their
Conversation, 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, dismounted 
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 set foot in the street, that 

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instant will I have you apprehended on a charge of fraud and 
robbery. I am resolute and immovable. 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 t 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. Brownlow, 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. 

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「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?」 

「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. Brownlow; 「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 deathbed 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 

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contemplating, half in silence, and half in dogged wonder, the 
agitation of his companion. 「What is the name to me?」 

「Nothing,」 replied Mr. Brownlow—「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 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.」 

「I don』t care for hard names,」 interrupted 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 

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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 years.」 

「Well, they were separated,」 said Monks, 「and what of that?」 

「When they had been separated for some time,」 returned Mr. 
Brownlow, 「and your mother, wholly given up to 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 away 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. 「I speak of fifteen years ago, when you 
were not more than eleven years old, and your father but one-andthirty—for he was, I repeat, a boy, when his father ordered him to 
marry. Must I go back to events which cast a shade upon the 
memory of your parent, or will you spare it, and disclose to me the 
truth?」 

「I have nothing to disclose,」 rejoined Monks. 「You must talk on 
if you will.」 

「These new friends, then,」 said Mr. Brownlow, 「were a naval 
officer retired from active service, whose wife had died some half a 

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year before, and left him with two children—there had been more, 
but, of all their family, happily but two survived. They were both 
daughters; one a beautiful creature of nineteen, and the other a 
mere child of two or three years old.」 

「What』s this to me?」 asked Monks. 

「They resided,」 said Mr. Brownlow, without seeming to hear 
the interruption, 「in a part of the country to which your father in 
his wanderings had repaired, and where he had taken up his 
abode. Acquaintance, intimacy, friendship, fast followed on each 
other. Your father was gifted as few men are. He had his sister』s 
soul and person. As the old officer knew him more and more, he 
grew to love him. I would that it had ended there. His daughter did 
the same.」 

The old gentleman paused; Monks was biting his lips, with his 
eyes fixed upon the floor; seeing this, he immediately resumed: 

「The end of a year found him contracted, solemnly contracted, 
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 

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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—no will—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 worn by anxiety and 
remorse almost to a shadow; talked in a wild, distracted way, of 
ruin and dishonour worked by himself; confided in 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 and 
covered one most dear to both—even from me he withheld any 
more particular confession, promising to write and tell me all, and 

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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. 

「I 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 her fears were 
realised, that erring child should find one heart and home to 
shelter and compassionate her. The family had left that part 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 your cunning associate 
suppressed my name, although for aught he knew, it would be 
quite strange to your ears. When he was rescued by me, then, and 
lay recovering from sickness in my house, his strong resemblance 
to this picture I have 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. 

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「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—you—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 had 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 saw 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 dead man』s. Brother! You don』t even know that a child was 
born of this maudlin pair; you don』t even known that.」 

「I did not,」 replied Mr. Brownlow, rising too; 「but within the 

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last fortnight I have learned 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 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.』 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 
profligacy, 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 virtue. 
Murder has been done, to which you were morally if not really a 
party.」 

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「No, no,」 interposed Monks. 「I—I know nothing of that; I was 
going to inquire the truth of the story when you overtook me. I 
didn』t know the cause. I thought it was a common quarrel.」 

「It was the partial disclosure of your secrets,」 replied Mr. 
Brownlow. 「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 drawn 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 disposal 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 gentleman (Mr. Losberne) 
entered the room in violent agitation. 

「The man will be taken,」 he cried. 「He will be taken tonight!」 

「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 darkness. Spies are 

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hovering about in every direction. I have spoken to the men who 
are charged with his capture, and they tell me he can never 
escape. A reward of a hundred pounds is proclaimed by 
Government tonight.」 

「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 had seen your friend here, safe 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 villainy which by these lights 
became plain as day. Write and appoint the evening after 
tomorrow, at seven, for the meeting. We shall be down there, a few 
hours before, but shall require rest; especially the young lady, who 
may have greater need of firmness than either you or I can quite 
foresee just now. But my blood boils to avenge this poor murdered 

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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. 

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Chapter 50 

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 woman, 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 off on the 
right and left, and deafened by the clash of ponderous wagons 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 projecting over the pavement, 
dismantled walls that seem to totter as he passes, chimneys half-

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crushed, half-hesitating to fall, windows guarded by rusty iron 
bars that time and dirt have almost eaten away, and every 
imaginable sign of. desolation 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, and 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 

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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 was a thriving place; but now it is a 
desolate island indeed. 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 seeks 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』ee, young gentleman,」 said Toby, 「when a man 
keeps himself so very exclusive as I have done, and by that means 
has a snug house over his head with nobody a-prying and smelling 

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about it, it』s rather a startling thing to have the honour of a visit 
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 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 o』clock this afternoon. Charley and I 
made our lucky up the wash』us chimney, and Bolter got into the 
empty water-butt, head downwards; but his legs were 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 

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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 people jumping up, one behind another, and snarling with 
their 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, downstairs, 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.」 

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Oliver Twist 540 

「If he was coming here, he』d have come with the dog,」 said 
Kags stooping down 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 watching 
the dog some time in silence. 「Covered with mud—lame—halfblind—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 away 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.」 

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 close 
together, starting at every sound. They spoke little, and that in 
whispers, and were as silent and awe-stricken as if the remains of 

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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 handkerchief, and 
another tied over his head under his hat. He drew them softly off. 
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 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 

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in silence. If an eye were furtively raised and met his, it was 
instantly averted. Then his hollow voice broke silence, they all 
three started. They seemed never to have heard its tones before. 

「How came that dog here?」 

「Alone. Three hours ago.」 

「Tonight』s 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 the 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. 

「Toby,」 said the boy, falling back, as Sikes turned his eyes 

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Oliver Twist 543 

towards him, 「why didn』t you tell me this downstairs?」 

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 near 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 sank gradually to the ground. 

「Witness you three,」 cried the boy, shaking his clenched fist, 
and becoming more and more excited as he spoke. 「Witness you 
three—I』m not afraid of him—if they come here after him I』ll give 
him up; I will. I tell you 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! Help! 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 

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murderer』s breast, and never ceasing to call for help with all his 
might. 

The contest, however, 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 footsteps 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 screeching 
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 

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downstairs 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, throwing up the sash 
and menacing the crowd. 「Do your worst! I』ll cheat you yet!」 

Of all the terrific yells that ever fell on mortal ears, none could 
exceed the cry of the infuriated throng. Some shouted to those 
who were nearest to set the house on fire; others roared to the 
officers to shoot him dead. Among them 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, 「Twenty 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 with 
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 

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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 was 
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 
without to guard the back; and 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 

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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. 
「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 for it.」 

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 narrow ways were completely blocked up; and at this 

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Oliver Twist 548 

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 murder, 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 over his 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 

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Oliver Twist 549 

tumbled over the parapet. The noose was on his neck. It ran up 
with his weight, tight as a bowstring, and swift 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, with 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 went; 
and striking his head against a stone, dashed out his brains. 

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Chapter 51 

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 effect on his companions, who 
shared it, in at least an equal degree. He and the two ladies had 
been very carefully made acquainted by Mr. 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 occurrences that 
had so recently taken place. 「It was quite true,」 he said, 「that they 

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must know them before long, but it might be at a better time than 
the present, and it could not be at a worse.」 So they travelled on in 
silence; each busied with reflections on the object which had 
brought them together; and no one disposed to give utterance to 
the thoughts which crowded upon all. 

But 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 awakened 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 of 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 grow 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,」 

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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 『God bless you』 to me when I ran away,」 
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 through its 
narrow streets, it became matter of no small difficulty 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 Gamfield』s 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 shrank 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 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 off 
in grandeur and size); and here was Mr. Grimwig 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 

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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 
bedrooms ready, and everything was arranged as if by magic. 

Notwithstanding all this, when the hurry of the first half-hour 
was over, the same silence and constraint prevailed that had 
marred their journey down. Mr. Brownlow did not join them at 
dinner, 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 away, 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. 
Grimwig entered the room, followed by Mr. Brownlow 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 

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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 beating of 
whose heart he might have heard. 「That is their bastard child.」 

「The term you use,」 said Mr. Brownlow sternly, 「is a reproach 
to those who have 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 inclosed in a few short lines to you, 

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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 paper 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 in him, until she trusted too 
far, and lost what none could ever give her back. She was, at that 
time, within a few months of her confinement. He told her all he 
had meant to do, to hide her shame, if he had lived, and prayed 
her, if he died, not to curse his memory, or think the consequences 
of their sin would be visited on her or their young child; for all the 
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 talked 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 

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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 confidence 
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 burned 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 that her violent hate—I love her for it 
now—could add. Goaded by shame and dishonour he fled with his 
children into a remote corner of Wales, changing his very name 
that his friends might never know of his retreat; and here, no great 
while afterwards, he was found dead in his bed. The girl had left 
her home, in secret, some weeks before; he had searched for her, 
on foot, in every town and village near; it was on the night when 
he returned home, assured that she had destroyed herself? to hide 
her shame and his, that his old heart broke.」 

There was a short silence here, until Mr. Brownlow took up the 
thread of the narrative. 

「Years after this,」 he said, 「this man』s—Edward Leeford』s— 

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mother came to me. He had left her, when only eighteen; 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 successful; and he went back with her to 
France.」 

「There she died,」 said Monks, 「after a lingering illness; and, on 
her deathbed, 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 animosity; to vent upon it 
the hatred that I deeply felt, and to spit upon the empty vaunt of 
that insulting will by dragging it, if I could, to the very gallows-
foot. She was right. He came in my way at last. I began well; and, 
but for babbling drabs, I would have finished as I began!」 

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 houses for 
the purpose of identifying hum. 

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「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 
disappearing 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, O-li-ver, if you know』d 
how I』ve 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 affablest 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. Grimwig 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 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. 

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「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 Mr. 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 jaw. 「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 knew 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. 

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Grimwig, with a motion towards the door. 

「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 woman— 
」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 downstairs. 

「Young lady,」 said Mr. Brownlow, turning to Rose, 「give me 

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your hand. Do not tremble. You need not fear to hear the few 
remaining words I 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.」 

「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, sighing 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 
promising more, which she never meant to send. She didn』t quite 

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rely, however, on their discontent and poverty for the child』s 
unhappiness, but told the history of her 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 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. Maylie, 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!」 

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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 Harry 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 
silence; 「nor have I heard all this tonight, but I knew it 
yesterday—only yesterday. Do you guess that I have come to 
remind you of a promise?」 

「Stay,」 said Rose. 「You do know all.」 

「All. You gave me leave, at any time within a year, to renew the 
subject of our last discourse.」 

「I did.」 

「Not to press you to alter your determination,」 pursued 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 determination, 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 tonight? It is a 

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struggle,」 said Rose, 「but one I am proud to make; it is a pang, but 

one my heart shall bear.」 

「The disclosure of tonight—」 Harry began. 

「The disclosure of tonight,」 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 tonight.」 

「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, detaining her as she 
rose. 「My hopes, my wishes, prospects, feeling—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. 

「I 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 

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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!」 

***** 

「It』s a trying time waiting supper for lovers,」 said Mr. Grimwig, 
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 tonight,」 said Mr. 
Grimwig, 「for I began to think I should get nothing else. I』ll take 
the liberty, if you』ll allow me, of saluting the bride that is to be.」 

Mr. Grimwig lost no time in carrying this notice into effect upon 
the blushing girl; and the example, being contagious, was followed 
both by the doctor and Mr. Brownlow. Some people affirm that 
Harry Maylie had been observed to set it, originally, in a dark 
room adjoining; but the best authorities consider this downright 
scandal, he being young 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?」 

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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! 

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Chapter 52 

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 distinctness, 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 gallery, he could see the 

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people rising above each other to see his face—some hastily 
applying their glasses to their eyes—and others whispering to 
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 by 
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 jurymen 
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 
leaned; 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 

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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. 

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. 

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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 underjaw hanging down, 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, where 
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 bloodshot eyes upon the 
ground, tried to collect his thoughts. After a while, 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 

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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 vigorous men to dangling heaps of clothes! 

Some of them 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 this church clock 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. 

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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 o£ 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 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, but 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 burned him up. 

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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 own 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 
tomorrow, 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 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 to the lodge. 

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「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 
the child has seen him in the full career of his success and villainy, 
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—「this 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 with a row of strong doors on the left 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 

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follow the jailer into the cell. They did so. 

The condemned criminal was seated on his bed, rocking 
himself 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 the 
boy away to bed!」 

The jailer took the disengaged hand of Oliver; and, whispering 
to 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. It』s 
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 Fagin, 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! Are you a man?」 

「I shan』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 farthest corner of the seat, he demanded to know 

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what they wanted there. 

「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 Monks 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.」 

「I 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 tears. 

「That』s right, that』s right,」 said Fagin. 「That』ll help us on. This 

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Oliver Twist 577 

door first. If I shake and tremble, as we pass the gallows, don』t you 

mind, but hurry on. Now, now, now!」 

「Have you nothing else to ask him, sir?」 inquired the turnkey. 

「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. 

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Chapter 53 

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 henceforth 
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-inlaw, to enjoy, during the tranquil remainder of her days, the 
greatest felicity that age and worth can know—the contemplation 
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 distribution, to which his young 
charge joyfully acceded. 

Monks, still bearing that assumed name, retired with his 

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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 sank 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 temperament had 
admitted of such a feeling; and would have turned quite peevish if 
he had known 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』s 
cottage outside the village of which his young friend was pastor, 
and instantaneously recovered. Here, he took to gardening, 
planting, fishing, carpentering, and various other pursuits of a 
similar kind, all undertaken with his characteristic impetuosity, 
and 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 

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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 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. 
Losberne, 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 not come back, 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 burdened 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 accommodated 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, deprived of their situations, were 

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Oliver Twist 581 

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, and Mr. Brownlow, and Mr. 
Losberne, that to this day the villagers have never been able to 
discover to which establishment 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 threads 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 endeavouring 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 fireside circle 

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Oliver Twist 582 

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. 

How Mr. Brownlow 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 remembrances, 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 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 

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Oliver Twist 583 

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. 

The End 

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