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ILLTJSTRATED FROM DRAWINGS BY F. 0. C. DARLEY
AND JOHN GILBERT.
JAMES G. GREGORY, PUBLISHER,
46 WALKER STREET.
Entered according to Act of Congress, in the year 1861, by
W. A. TOWNSEND AND COMPANT,
in the Clerk's Office of the District Court for the Southern District of
STEREOTYPED AND PRINTED BY H. 0. HOUGHTON.
"Some of the author's friends cried, 'Lookee, gentlemen, the man
is a villain; but it is Nature for all that; ' and the young critics of the
age, the clerks, apprentices, &;c., called it low, and fell a-groaning." —
The greater part of this Tale was originally published
in a magazine. When I completed it, and put it forth
in its present form, it was objected to on some high
moral grounds in some high moral quarters.
It was, it seemed, a coarse and shocking circum-
stance, that some of the characters in these pages are
chosen from the most criminal and degraded of Lon-
don's population ; that Sikes is a thief, and Fagin a
receiver of stolen goods ; that the boys are pickpockets,
and the girl is a prostitute.
I have yet to learn that a lesson of the purest good
may not be drawn from the vilest evil. I have always
beheved this to be a recognized and established truth,
laid down by the greatest men the world has ever seen,
constantly acted upon by the best and wisest natures,
and confirmed by the reason and experience of every
thinking mind. I saw no reason, when I wrote this
book, why the dregs of life, so long as their speech
did not offend the ear, should not serve the purpose
of a moral, at least as well as its froth and cream.
Nor did I doubt tliat there lay festering in Saint
Giles's as good materials towards the truth as any to
be found in Saint James's.
In this spirit, when I wished to show, in little Oliver,
the principle of Good surviving through every adverse
circumstance, and triumphing at last ; and when I con-
sidered among what companions I could try him best,
having regard to that kind of men into whose hand,
he would most naturally fall; I bethought myself of
those who figure in these volumes. When I came to
discuss the subject more maturely with myself, I saw
many strong reasons for pursuing the course to which
I was inchned. I had read of thieves by scores —
seductive fellows (amiable for the most part), faultless
in dress, plump in pocket, choice in horseflesh, bold in
bearing, fortunate in gallantry, great at a song, a bottle,
pack of cards or dice-box, and fit companions for the
bravest. But I had never met (except in Hogarth)
with the miserable reality. It appeared to me that to
draw a knot of such associates in crime as really do
exist ; to paint them in all their deformity, in all their
wretchedness, in all the squalid poverty of their lives ;
to show them as they really are, forever skulking un-
easily through the dirtiest paths of life, with the great,
black, ghastly gallows closing up their prospect, turn
them where they may ; — it appeared to rae that to do
this would be to attempt a something which was greatly
needed, and which would be a service to society. And
therefore I did it as I best could.
In every book I know, where such characters are
treated of at all, certain allurements and fascinations
are thrown around them. Even in the Beggar's Opera,
the thieves are represented as leading a life which is
rather to be envied than otherwise ; while Macheath,
with all the captivations of command, and the devotion
of the most beautiful girl and only pure character in
the piece, is as much to be admired and emulated by
weak beholders, as any iSne gentleman in a red coat
who has purchased, as Voltaire says, the right to
command a couple of thousand men, or so, and to af-
front death at their head. Johnson's question, whether
any man will turn thief because Macheath is reprieved,
seems to me beside the matter. I ask myself, whether
any man will be deterred from turning thief because
of his being sentenced to death, and because of the
existence of Peachum and Lockit; and remembering
the captain's roaring life, great appearance, vast suc-
cess, and strong advantages, I feel assured that nobody
having a bent that way will take any warning from
him, or will see anything in the play but a very flowery
and pleasant road, conducting an honorable ambition,
in course of time, to Tyburn Tree.
In fact, Gay's witty satire on society had a general
object, which made him careless of example in this
respect, and gave him other aims. The same may be
said of Sir Edward Bulwer's admirable and powerful
novel of Paul Clifford, which cannot be fairly con-
sidered as having, or being intended to have, any
bearing on this part of the subject, one way or other.
What manner of life is that which is described in
these pages, as the every-day existence of a Thief?
What charms has it for the young and ill-disposed,
what allurements for the most jolter-headed of juve-
niles? Here are no canterings on moonlit heaths, no
merry-makings in the snuggest of all possible caverns,
none of the attractions of dress, no embroidery, no lace,
no jack-boots, no crimson coats and ruffles, none of the
dash and freedom with which " the road " has been,
time out of mind, invested. The cold, wet, shelterless
midnight streets of London ; the foul and frowzy dens,
where vice is closely packed and lacks the room to
turn ; the haunts of hunger and disease, the shabby rags
that scarcely hold together ; — where are the attractions
of these things ? Have they no lesson, and do they
not whisper something beyond the little-regarded warn-
ing of an abstract moral precept ?
But, there are people of so refined and delicate a
nature, that they cannot bear the contemplation of these
horrors. Not that they turn instmctively from crime ;
but that criminal characters, to suit them, must be, hke
their meat, in delicate disguise. A Massaroni in green
velvet is an enchanting creature ; but a Sikes in fustian
is insupportable. A Mrs. Massaroni, being a lady in
short petticoats and a fancy dress, is a thing to imitate
in tableaux and have in lithograph on pretty songs ;
but a Nancy, being a creature in a cotton gown and
cheap shawl, is not to be thought of. It is wonderful
how Virtue turns from dirty stockings ; and how Vice,
married to ribbons and a little gay attire, changes her
name, as wedded ladies do, and becomes Romance.
Now, as the stern and plain truth, even in the dress
of this (in novels) much exalted race, was a part of the
purpose of this book, I will not, for these readers, abate
one hole in the Dodger's coat, or one scrap of curl-
paper in the girl's dishevelled hair. I have no faith in
the delicacy which cannot bear to look upon them. I
have no desire to make proselytes among such people.
I have no respect for their opinion, good or bad ; do
not covet their approval; and do not write for their
amusement. I venture to say this without reserve ;
for I am not aware of any writer in our language hav-
ing a respect for himself, or held in any respect by
his posterity, who ever has descended to the taste of
this fastidious class.
On the other hand, if I look for examples, and for
precedents, I find them in the noblest range of English
literature. Fielding, De Foe, Goldsmith, Smollett,
Richardson, Mackenzie, — all these, for wise purposes,
and especially the two first, brought upon the scene the
very scum and refuse of the land. Hogarth, the mor-
alist and censor of his age, — in whose great works
the times in which he lived, and the characters of every
time, will never cease to be reflected, — did the like,
without the compromise of a hair's breadth. Where does
this giant stand now, in the estimation of his country-
men ? And yet, if I turn back to the days in which
he or any of these men flourished, I find the same re-
proach levelled against them every one, each in his
turn, by the insects of the hour, who raised their little
hum, and died and were forgotten.
Cervantes laughed Spain's chivalry away, by showing
Spain its impossible and wild absurdity. It was my
attempt, in my humble and far-distant sphere, to dim
the false glitter surrounding something which really
did exist, by showing it in its unattractive and repul-
sive truth. No less consulting my own taste than the
manners of the age, I endeavored, while I painted it
in all its fallen and degraded aspect, to banish from the
lips of the lowest character I introduced any expression
that could by possibihty offend; and rather to lead to
the unavoidable inference that its existence was of the
most debased and vicious kind, than to prove it elabo-
rately by words and deeds. In the case of the girl,
in particular, I kept this intention constantly in view.
Whether it is apparent in the narrative, and how it is
executed, I leave my readers to determine.
It has been observed of this girl, that her devotion
to the brutal house-breaker does not seem natural, and
it has been objected to Sikes in the same breath — with
some inconsistency, as I venture to think — that he is
surely overdrawn, because in him there would appear
to be none of those redeeming traits which are objected
to as unnatural in his mistress. Of the latter objection
I will merely say, that I fear there are in the world
some insensible and callous natures, that do become, at
last, utterly and irredeemably bad. But whether this
be so or not, of one thing I am certain : that there are
such men as Sikes, who, being closely followed through
the same space of time, and through the same current
of circumstances, would not give, by one look or action
of a moment, the faintest indication of a better nature.
Whether every gentler human feeling is dead within
such bosoms, or the proper chord to strike has rusted
and is hard to find, I do not know ; but that the fact is
so, I am sure.
It is useless to discuss whether the conduct and char-
acter of the gh'l seems natural or unnatural, probable
or improbable, right or wrong. It is true. Every
man who has watched these melancholy shades of life
knows it to be so. Suggested to my mind long ago, by
what I often saw and read of, in actual life around me,
I have tracked it through many profligate and noisome
ways, and found it still the same. From the first in-
troduction of that poor wretch, to her laying her bloody
head upon the robber's breast, there is not one word ex-
aggerated or overwrought. It is emphatically God's
truth, for it is the truth He leaves in such depraved
and miserable breasts ; the hope yet lingering behind ;
the last fair drop of water at the bottom of the dried-
up, weed-choked well. It involves the best and worst
shades of our common nature ; much of its ugliest hues,
and something of its most beautiful ; it is a contradic-
tion, an anomaly, an apparent impossibility, but it is a
truth. I am glad to have had it doubted, for in that cir-
cumstance I find a sufficient assurance that it needed
to be told.
CONTENTS OF VOLUME I.
Treats of the Place where Oliver Twist was Born ; and of the
Circumstances attending his Birth 17
Treats of Oliver Twist's Growth, Education, and Board . . 22
Relates how Oliver Twist was very near getting a Place, which
would not have been a Sinecure 36
Oliver, being offered another Place, makes his first Entry into
Public Life 48
Oliver mingles with new Associates. Going to a Funeral for the
first Time, he forms an unfavorable Notion of his Master's
Oliver, being goaded by the Taunts of Noah, rouses into Action,
and rather astonishes him 73
Oliver continues refractory 80
Oliver walks to London. He encounters on the Road a Strange
sort of young Gentleman 89
Containing further Particulars concerning the pleasant old Gen-
tleman, and his hopeful Pupils 101
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 . . 110
Treats of Mr. Fang the Police Magistrate ; and furnishes a slight
Specimen of his Mode of administering Justice . . . 117
In which Oliver is taken better Care of than he ever was before.
And in which the Narrative reverts to the merry old Gentle-
man and his youthful Friends 127
Some new Acquaintances are introduced to the intelligent Reader;
connected with whom, various pleasant Matters are related,
appertaining to this History 140
Comprising further Particulars of Oliver's stay at Mr. Brown-
low's, with the remarkable Prediction which one Mr. Grim-
wig uttered concerning him, when he went out on an Errand. 151
Showing how very fond of OUver Twist, the merry old Jew and
Miss Nancy were 165
Relates what became of Ohver Twist, after he had been claimed
by Nancy 174
Oliver's Destiny, continuing unpropitious, brings a Great Man to
London to injure his Reputation 187
How Oliver passed his Time in the improving Society of his
reputable Friends 200
In which a notable Plan is discussed and determined on . . 211
Wherein Oliver is delivered over to Mr. William Sikes . . 224
The Expedition 235
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 253
Treats of a very poor Subject. But is a short one; and may be
found of Importance in this History 263
Wherein this History reverts to jMr. Fagin and Company . . 271
In which a mysterious Character appears upon the Scene; and
many Things, inseparable from this History, are done and
Atones for the unpoliteness of a former Chapter; which deserted
a Lady, most unceremoniously 296
Looks after Oliver, and proceeds with his Adventures . . .306
TREATS OF THE PLACE WHERE OLIVER TWIST WAS
BORN ; AND OF THE CIRCUMSTANCES ATTENDING
Among other public buildings in a certain town, which
for many reasons it will be prudent to refrain from men-
tioning, 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 my-
self to repeat, inasmuch as it can be of no possible con-
sequence 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 com-
prised within a couple of pages, they would have pos-
sessed the inestimable merit of being the most concise
VOL. I. 2
18 OLIVER TWIST.
and faithful specimen of biography extant in the litera-
ture 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 pos-
sibility have occurred. The fact is, that there was con-
siderable difficulty in inducing Oliver to take upon him-
self 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
favor of the latter. Now, if, during this brief period,
Oliver had been sun-ounded by careful grandmothers,
anxious aunts, experienced nurses, and doctors of pro-
found wisdom, he would most inevitably and indubita-
bly 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 appen-
dage, 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
OLIVER TWIST. 19
carelessly flung over the iron bedstead, rustled ; the pale
face of a young woman was raised feebly from the pil-
low ; 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 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
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
The surgeon deposited it in her arras. She imprinted
her cold white lips passionately on its forehead ; passed
her hands over her face ; gazed wildly round ; shud-
dered ; fell back — and died. They chafed her breast,
hands, and temples ; but the blood had stopped forever.
They talked of hope and comfort. They had been stran-
gers too long.
" It's all over, Mrs. Thingummy ! " said the surgeon
20 OLIVER TWIST.
" 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 ? "
" She was brought here last night," replied the old
woman, " by the overseer's order. She was found ly-
ing 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 pro-
ceeded to dress the infant.
What an excellent example of the power of dress
young Oliver Twist was ! 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 hum-
OLIVER TWIST. 21
ble, half-starved drudge — to be cuffed and buffeted
through the world — despised by all, and pitied by
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
TREATS OF OLIVER TWIST's GROWTH, EDUCATION, AND
For the next eight or ten months, Oliver was the
victim of a systematic course of treachery and decep-
tion. He was brought up by hand. The hungry and
destitute situation of the infant orphan was duly re-
ported by the workhouse authorities to the parish author-
ities. 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 nourish-
ment of which he stood in need. The workhouse au-
thorities 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 work-
house 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
OLIVER TWIST. 23
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 per-
ception of what was good for herself. So, she appropri-
ated 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
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, just four-and-twenty hours before he
was to have had his first comfortable bait of air. Un-
fortunately for the experimental philosophy of the fe-
male to whose protecting care Oliver Twist was deliv-
ered 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
24 OLIVER TWIST.
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 affix their signatures to a remonstrance.
But these impertinences were speedily checked by the
e^'idence of the surgeon, and the testimony of the bea-
dle ; the former of whom had always opened the body
and found nothing inside (which was very probable in-
deed), and the latter of whom invariably swore what-
ever 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 circum-
stance may be attributed his having any ninth birth-
day 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 threshing, had been
locked up therein for atrociously presuming to be hun-
gry, when Mrs. Mann, the good lady of the house, was
OLIVER TWIST. 25
unexpectedly startled by the apparition of Mr. Bumble,
the beadle, striving to undo the wicket of the garden-
" Goodness gracious ! is that you, Mr. Bumble, sir ? "
said Mrs. Mann, thrusting her head out of the window
in well-affected ecstasies of joy. " (Susan, take Oliver
and them two brats up-stairs, and wash 'em directly.) —
My heart alive ! Mr. Bumble, how glad I am to see
you, sure-ly ! "
Now, Mr. Bumble was a fat man, and a choleric ; so,
instead of responding to this open-hearted salutation in a
kindred spirit, he gave the little wicket a tremendous
shake, and then bestowed upon it a kick which could
have emanated from no leg but a beadle's.
" Lor', only think," said Mrs. Mann, running out, —
for the three boys had been removed by this time,
— " only think of that ! That I should have forgotten
that the gate was bolted 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 cour-
tesy that might have softened the heart of a churchwar-
den, it by no means mollified the beadle.
" Do you think this respectful or proper conduct, Mrs.
IMann," inquired Mr. Bumble, grasping his cane, " to
keep the parish-officers awaiting 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.
26 OLIVER TWIST.
Mr. Bumble had a great idea of his oratorical powers
and his importance. He had displayed the one, and vin-
dicated 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
Mrs. Mann ushered the beadle into a small parlor
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 per-
spiration which his walk had engendered, glanced com-
placently 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 men-
tion it. Now, will you take a little drop of somethink,
" 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 accom-
panied 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 per-
" 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
a'n't well, Mr. Bumble," replied Mrs. Mann as she
opened a corner cupboard, and took down a bottle and
OLIVER TWIST. 27
glass. " It's gin. I'll not deceive you, Mr. B. It's
" Do you give the children Daffy, Mrs. Mann ? " in-
quired 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 IMr. Bumble approvingly ; " no, you could
not. You are a humane woman, INIrs. Mann." (Here
she set down the glass.) " I shall take an early oppor-
tunity 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-bap-
tized ' Oliver Twist,' is nine year old to-day."
" Bless him !" interposed Mrs. Mann, inflaming her left
eye wnth the corner of her apron.
" And notwithstanding a offered reward of ten pound,
which was afterwards increased to twenty pound. Not-
withstanding the most superlative, and, I may say, super-
nat'ral exertions on the part of this parish," said Bumble,
" we have never been able to discover who is his father,
or what was his mother's settlement, name, or con — di-
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."
28 OLIVER TWIST.
« You, Mr. Bumble ! "
" I, Mrs. Mann. We name our foundlings in alpha-
betical order. The last was a S, — ' Swubble ' I named
him. This was a 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
" Well, well," said the beadle, evidently gratified with
the compliment ; " perhaps I may be. Perhaps I may
be, Mrs. Mann." He finished the gin-and-water, and
added, " Oliver being now too old to remain here, the
board have determined to have him back into the house.
I have come out myself to take him there. So let me
see him at once."
" 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 encrusted his
face and hands, removed, as could be scrubbed off in one
washing, was led into the room by his benevolent pro-
" Make a bow to the gentleman, Oliver," said Mrs.
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. Bum-
ble, 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
OLIVER TWIST. 29
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 Oliver wanted a great deal more,
a piece of bread and butter, lest he should seem too hun-
gry 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 cot-
tage-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-and-water awakens
in some bosoms had by this time evaporated : and he
was once again a beadle.
30 OLIVER TWIST.
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. Bum-
ble, 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 mat-
ter, however ; for Mr. Bumble gave him a tap on the
head with his cane, to wake him up ; and another on the
back to make him lively ; and bidding him follow, con-
ducted 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. Ohver 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
Oliver was frightened at the sight of so many gentle-
men, 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, " Hsten
to me. You know you're an orphan, I suppose ? "
OLIVER TWIST. 31
" What's that, sir ? " inquired poor Oliver.
" The boy is a fool — I thought he was," said the gen-
tleman 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
ill 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 an-
other gentleman in a gruff voice ; " and pray for the
people who feed you, and take care of you — like a
" Yes, sir," stammered the boy. The gentleman who
spoke last was unconsciously right. It would have been
veri/ 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
" 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 to-morrow 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 happy unconsciousness of all around him, that the
32 OLIVER TWIST.
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 like it ! It was a regular place of public enter-
tainment for the poorer classes; a tavern where there
was nothing to pay ; a public breakfast, dinner, tea, and
supper all the year round ; a brick and mortar elysium,
where it was all play and no work. " Oho ! " said the
board, looking very knowing ; " we are the fellows to set
this to rights ; we'll stop it all, in no time." So, they
estabhshed the rule, that all 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 con-
tracted with the waterworks to lay on an unlimited sup-
ply of water ; and with a corn-factor to supply period-
ically 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, in-
stead 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 clashes of society, if it had
not been coupled with the workhouse; but the board
OLIVER TWIST. 33
were long-headed men, and had provided for this diffi-
culty. The relief was inseparable from the workhouse
and the gruel ; and that frightened people.
For the first six months after Oliver Twist was re-
moved, the system was in full operation. It was rather
expei ?i e 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
taeir wasted, shrunken forms, after a w^eek 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 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 re-
joicing, 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
34 OLIVER TWIST.
cook's shop,) hinted darkly to his companions, that un-
less lie 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 im-
plicitly 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 ui;iform, stationed himself at the
copper ; his pauper assistants ranged themselves behind
him ; the gruel was served out ; and a long grace was
said over the short commons. The gruel disappeared ;
the boys whispered each other, and winked at Oliver;
while his next neighbors 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 paralyzed with won-
der ; 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 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, —
OLIVER TWIST. 35
" Mr. Limbkins, I beg your pardon, sir ! Oliver Twist
has asked for more ! "
There was a general start. Horror was depicted on
" For more ! " said Mr. Limbkins. " Compose your-
self Bumble, and answer me distinctly. Do I under-
stand that he asked for more, after he had eaten the sup-
per 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 opin-
ion. An animated discussion took place. Oliver was
ordered into instant confinement : and a bill was next
morning pasted on the outside of 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 Ohver Twist were offered to any man or
woman who wanted an apprentice to any trade, business,
'• I never was more convinced of anything in my hfe,"
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.
36 OLIVEK TWIST.
RELATES HOW OLIVER TWIST WAS VERY NEAR GET-
TING A PLACE, WHICH WOULD NOT HAVE BEEN A
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 gentleman in the
white waistcoat, he would have established that sage
individual's prophetic character, once and forever, 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 ob-
stacle : 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, dis-
mal night came on, he spread his little hands before his
eyes to shut out the darkness, and crouching in the
OLIVER TWIST. 37
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 pro-
tection in the gloom and loneliness which surrounded him.
Let it not be supposed by the enemies of " the sys-
tem," that, 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 bis 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 sensa-
tion 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 consola-
tion, he was kicked into the same apartment every even-
ing 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 sup-
plication 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
It chanced one morning, while Oliver's affairs were in
this auspicious and comfortable state, that Mr. Gamfield,
chimney-sweeper, 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
38 OLIVER TWIST.
had become rather pressing. Mr. Gamfield's most san-
guine 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.
"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 dis-
posed 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
The gentleman with the white waistcoat was standing
at the gate, with his hands behind him, after having de-
livered himself of some profound sentiments in the board-
room. Having witnessed the little dispute between Mr.
Gamfield and the donkey, he smiled joyously when tliat
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
OLIVER TWIST. 39
been wisliing for ; and, as to 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, ac-
costed the gentleman in the white waistcoat.
" This here boy, sir, wot the parish wants to 'prentis,"
said INIr. Gamfield.
" Ay, my man," said the gentleman in the white waist-
coat, with a condescending smile. " What of him ? "
" If the parish vould like him to learn a light pleasant
trade, in a good 'spectable chimbley-sweepin' bis'ness,"
said Mr. Gamfield, "I wants a 'prentis, and I'm 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, fol-
lowed the gentleman with the white waistcoat into the
room where Oliver had first seen him.
" It's a nasty trade," said Mr. Limbkins when Gamfield
had again stated his wish.
" Young boys have been smothered in chimneys before
now," said another gentleman.
" That's acause they damped the straw afore they lit
it in the chimbley to make 'em come down agin," said
Gamfield ; " that's all smoke, and no blaze ; vereas smoke
a'n't o' no use at all in makin' 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'l'men, and there's
nothink like a good hot blaze to make 'em come down
vith a run. It's humane too, gen'l'men, acause, even if
40 OLIVER TWIST.
they've stuck in the chimbley, roasting their feet makes
'em struggle to hextricate theirselves."
The gentleman in the white waistcoat appeared very
much amused by this explanation; but his mirth was
speedily checked by a look from Mr. Limbkins. The
board then proceeded to converse among themselves for
a few minutes, but in so low a tone, that the words
" saving of expenditure," " look 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 so-
lemnity, Mr. Limbkins said :
" We have considered your proposition, and we don't
approve of it."
" Not at all," said the gentleman in the white waist-
" Decidedly not," added the other members.
As Mr. Gamfield did happen to labor 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 par-
ticular wish to revive the rumor, he twisted his cap in
his hands, and walked slowly from the table.
" So you won't let me have him, gen'l'men ? " 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."
OLIVER TWIST. 41
Mr. Gamfield's countenance brightened, as, with a
quick step, he returned to the table, and said, —
" "SVhat'll you give, genTmen ? Come ! Don't be too
hard on a poor man. What'U you give ?"
" I should say, three pound ten was plenty," said Mr.
" Ten shillings too much," said the gentleman in the
" Come ! " said Gamfield ; " say four pound, gen'l'men.
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'l'men," urged
Gamfield. " Three pound fifteen."
" Not a farthing more," was the firm reply of Mr.
"You're desperate hard upon me, gen'l'men," said
" 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 ex-
pensive, 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, grad-
ually 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 after-
In pursuance of this determination, little Oliver, to his
42 OLIVER TWIST.
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, Ohver be-
gan to cry very piteously: thinking, not unnaturally, that
the board must have determined to kill him for some
useful purpose, or they never would have begun to fatten
him up in that way.
" Don't make your eyes red, Oliver, but eat your food
and be thankful," said Mr. Bumble, in a tone of impres-
sive pomposity. '' You're a-going to be made a 'prentice
" 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 shil-
lin's — one hundred and forty sixpences ! — and all for a
naughty orphan which nobody can't love."
As Mr. Bumble paused to take breath, after deliver-
ing 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 30ur gruel ; that's a very foolish action, Oliver." It
certainly was, for there was quite enough water in it
OLIVER TWIST. 43
On their wrj to the magistrate, Mr. Bumble instructed
OHver 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.
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 :
" Xow, 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 gen-
tleman prevented his offering any remark thereupon, by
leading him at once into an adjoining room : the door
of which was open. It was a large room, with a great
window. Behind a desk sat two old gentlemen with
powdered heads : one of whom was reading the news-
paper ; while the other was perusing, with the aid of a
pair of tortoise-shell spectacles, a small piece of parch-
ment 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
44 OLIVER TWIST.
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 mag-
istrates' powder, whether all boards were born with that
white stuff on their heads, and were boards from thence-
forth on that account.
" Well," said the old gentleman, " I suppose he's fond
of chimney-sweeping ? "
" He doats on it, your worship," replied Bumble : giv-
ing 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
" If we was to bind him to any other trade to-mor-
row, he'd run away simultaneous, your worship," replied
" 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.
" You're a rough speaker, my friend, but you look an
honest, open-hearted man," said the old gentleman, turn-
OLIVER TWIST. 45
ing Ills spectacles in the direction of the candidate for
Oliver's premium, whose villanous countenance was a
regular stamped receipt for cruelty. But, the magistrate
was half blind and half childish, so he couldn't reasona-
bly be expected to discern what other people did.
"I hope I am, sir," said Mr. Gamfield, with an ugly leer.
" I liave no doubt you are, my friend," replied the old
gentleman : fixing his spectacles more firmly on his nose,
and looking about him for the inkstand.
It was the critical moment of Oliver's fate. If the
inkstand 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 straight-
way hurried off. But, as it chanced to be immediately
under his nose, it followed, as a matter of course, that
he looked all over his desk for it, without finding it ;
and happening in the course of his search to look
straight before him, his gaze encountered the pale and
terrified face of Oliver Twist : who, despite all the ad-
monitory 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. OHver started at the sound. He might be ex-
cused 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?"
46 OLIVER TWIST.
" 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 clasping his hands to-
gether, 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 gen-
tleman, when ]Mr. Bumble had given vent to this com-
" I beg your worship's pardon," said Mr. Bumble, in-
credulous of his having heard aright. " Did your wor-
ship speak to me ? "
" Yes. Hold your tongue."
Mr. Bumble was stupefied with astonishment. A bea-
dle 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
" 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 unsup-
ported testimony of a mere child."
" The magistrates are not called upon to pronounce
any opinion on the matter," said the second old gentle-
OLIVER TWIST. 47
man 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 waist-
coat 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 pubhc were once more in-
formed that Oliver Twist was again To Let ; and that
five pounds would be paid to anybody who would take
possession of him.
48 OLIVER TWIST.
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 Oli-
ver 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 prob-
ability 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 favorite and common recrea-
tions among gentlemen of that class. The more the case
presented itself to the board, in this point of view, the
more manifold the advantages of the step appeared ; so,
they came to the conclusion, that the only way of pro-
viding for Oliver effectually, was to send him to sea
Mr. Bumble had been despatched to make various pre-
liminary inquiries, with the view of finding out some cap-
tain or other who wanted a cabin-boy without any friends;
OLIVER TWIST. 49
and was returning to the workhouse to communicate the
result of his mission ; when he encountered, just at the
gate, no less a person than Mr. Sowerberry, the parochial
IVlr. Sowerberry was a tall, gaunt, large-jointed man,
attired in a suit of threadbare black, with darned cotton
stockings of the same color, 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, IVIr. Bumble," said the undertaker.
" You'll make your fortune, Mr. Sowerberry," said the
beadle, as he thrust his thumb and forefinger into the
proffered snuflP-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. Bum-
ble, 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.
" So are the coffins," replied the beadle ; with precisely
as near an approach to a laugh as a great official ought
to indulge in.
Mr. Sowerberry was much tickled at this : as of
course he ought to be ; and laughed a long time with-
out 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
VOL. I. 4
50 OLIYER TWIST.
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."
" 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 !
" Just so," said Mr. Bumble.
" Though I must say," continued the undertaker, re-
suming 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 indig-
nation of an ill-used man ; and as ]Mr. Bumble felt that
it rather tended to convey a reflection on the honor 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-by," said Mr. Bumble, " you don't know any-
body who wants a boy, do you ? A porochial 'prentice,
who is at present a deadweight ; a millstone as I may
say ; round the porochial throat ? Liberal terms, Mr.
Sowerberry, liberal terms ! " As Mr. Bumble spoke, he
OLIVER TWIST. 51
raised his cane to the bill above him, and gave three dis-
tinct raps upon the words " five pounds : " which were
printed thereon in Roman capitals of gigantic size.
" Gadso ! " said the undertaker, taking Mr. Bumble
by the gilt-edged lappel of his official coat ; " 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."
" 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 mid-
" 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 in-
" 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.
J, OF iLi— u.ib.
52 OLIVER TWIST.
" They haven't no more philosophy nor political econ-
omy about 'em than that," said the beadle, snapping his
" No more they have," acquiesced the undertaker.
" I despise 'em," said the beadle, growing very red in
" So do I," rejoined the undertaker.
" And I only wish we'd a jury of the independent
sort, in the 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 hand-
kerchief from the inside of the crown ; wiped from his
forehead the perspiration which his rage had engen-
dered ; 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 hking," —
a phrase which means, in the case of a parish appren-
tice, that if the master find, upon a short trial, that he
OLIVER TWIST. 53
can get enougli 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 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 Ufe, 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, hav-
ing 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, with-
out 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
54 OLIVER TWIST.
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 accord-
ingly did : with a fit and becoming air of gracious
" Oliver ! " said Mr. Bumble.
" Yes, sir," replied Oliver, in a low, tremulous voice.
" Pull that cap off your eyes, and hold up your head,
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 un-
til the tears sprung out, from between his thin and bony
" 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
OLIVER TWIST. 55
cross to me ! " The child beat his hand upon his heart ;
and looked in his companion's face, with tears of real
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 mut-
tering 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 si-
The undertaker, who had just put up the shutters of
his shop, was making some entries in his day-book by
the light of a most appropriate dismal candle, when Mr.
" 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" Ol-
iver bowed again.
" Dear me ! " said the undertaker's wife, " he's very
" Why, he is rather small," replied Mr. Bumble: look-
ing at Oliver as if it were his fault that he was no bigger;
56 OLIVER TWIST.
"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 par-
ish children, not I ; for they always cost more to keep,
than they're worth. However, men always think they
know best. There ! Get down-stairs, little bag o' bones."
With this, the undertaker's wife opened a side-door and
pushed Oliver down a steep flight of stairs into a stone
cell, damp and dark : forming the anteroom to the coal-
cellar, and denominated " the kitchen : " wherein sat a
slatternly girl, in shoes down at heel, and blue worsted
stockings very much out of repair.
" Here, Charlotte," said Mrs. Sowerberry, who had
followed Oliver down, " give this boy some of the cold
bits that were put by for Trip. He hasn't come home
since the morning, so he may go without 'em. I dare
say the boy isn't too dainty to eat 'em, — are you, boy?"
Oliver, whose eyes had ghstened 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 Ol-
iver 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
OLIVER TWIST. 57
horror, and with fearful auguries of his future appetite :
" have you done ? "
There being nothing eatable within his reach, Oliver
replied in the affirmative.
" Then come with me," said Mrs. Sowerberry : taking
up a dim and dirty lamp, and leading the way up-stairs ;
" your bed's under the counter. You don't mind sleeping
among the coffins, I suppose ? But it doesn't much mat-
ter 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
58 OLIVER TWIST.
OLIVER MINGLES WITH NEW ASSOCIATES. GOING TO
A FUNERAL FOR THE FIRST TIME, HE FORMS AN
UNFAVORABLE NOTION OF HIS MASTER'S BUSINESS.
Oliver being left to himself in the undertaker's shop,
set the lamp down on a workman's bench, and gazed
timidly about him with a feeling of 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 deathlike 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 pri-
vate door, with a hearse di-awn by four black steeds,
approaching in the distance. The shop was close and
hot ; and the atmosphere seemed tainted with the smell
OLIVER TWIST. 59
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 de-
pressed Oliver. He was alone in a strange place ; and
we all know how chilled and desolate the best of us will
sometimes feel in such a situation. 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 sunk 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 laid in a calm
and lasting sleep in the churchyard ground, with the tall
grass Avaving 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 kick-
ing 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
" Open the door, will yer ? " cried the voice which be-
longed to the legs which had kicked at the door.
" I will, directly, sir," replied Oliver : undoing the
chain, and turning the key.
"I suppose yer the new boy, aVt yer?" said the
voice through the keyhole.
" 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
60 OLIVER TWIST.
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 honorably. 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 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 but-
ter; 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 ; see-
ing that no other visitor made his appearance ; " did you
" I kicked," rephed the charity-boy.
*' Did you want a coffin, sir ? " inquired Oliver, inno-
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 : descendmg 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 adminis-
tered 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
OLIVER TWIST. 61
and heavy countenance, to look dignified under any cir-
cumstances ; but it is more especially so, when super-
added to these personal attractions are a red nose and
Oliver, having taken down the shutters, and broken a
pane of glass in his efforts to stagger away beneath the
weight of the first one to a small court at the side of the
house in which they were kept during the day, was
graciously assisted by Noah : who having 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 pre-
diction, followed that young gentleman down-stairs to
" Come near the fire, Noah," said Charlotte. " I saved
a nice little bit of bacon for you from master's breakfast.
OHver, 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,
b2 OLIVER TWIST.
as he sat shivering on the box in the coldest corner of
the room, and ate the stale pieces which had been spe-
cially 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 washer-woman, and his father a drunken
soldier, discharged with a wooden leg, and a diurnal pen-
sion of twopence half-penny and an unstateable fraction.
The shop-boys in the neighborhood had long been in the
habit of branding Noah, in the public streets, with the
ignominious epithets of " leathers," " charity," and the
like; and Noah had borne them without reply. But,
now that fortune had cast in his way a nameless orphan,
at whom even the meanest could point the finger of
scorn, he retorted on him with interest. This affords
charming food for contemplation. It shows us what a
beautiful thing human nature may be made 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-parlor, when Mr. Sowerberry, after sev-
eral 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. Sower-
" Ugh, you brute ! " said Mrs. Sowerberry.
" Not at all, my dear," said Mr. Sowerberry humbly.
OLIVER TWIST. 63
"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," inter-
posed Mrs. Sowerberry. "I am nobody; don't consult
me, pray. / 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 Sowerberry, " I want to ask
" No, no, don't ask mine," replied Mrs. Sowerberry, in
an affecting manner : " ask somebody else's." Here
there was another hysterical laugh, wliich 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. Sower-
berry to begging, as a special favor, 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
" 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 inter-
esting. 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
64 OLIVER TWIST.
dear. You may depend upon it, it would have a superb
Mrs. Sowerbeny, 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 dig-
nity to have said so, under existing circumstances, she
merely inquired, with much sharpness, why such an ob-
vious 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 ini-
tiated into the mysteries of the trade ; and, with this
view, that he should accompany his master on the very
next occasion of his services being required.
The occasion was not long in coming. Half an hour
after breakfast next morning, Mr. Bumble entered the
shop ; and supporting his cane against the counter, drew
forth his large leathern pocket-book : from which he
selected a small scrap of paper, which he handed over
" 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
pocket-book : which, like himself, was very corpulent.
" Bay ton," said the undertaker, looking from the scrap
of paper to Mr. Bumble. " I never heard the name
Bumble shook his head, as he replied, " Obstinate peo-
ple, Mr. Sowerberry ; very obstinate. Proud, too, I'm
" Proud, eh ? " exclaimed Mr. Sowerberry with a sneer.
" Come, that's too much."
OLIVER TWIST. 65
" 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 any-
thing about them then, only a woman who lodges in the
same house made an application to the porochial commit-
tee 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, oflP-hand."
" Ah, there's promptness," said the undertaker.
" Promptness, indeed ! " replied the beadle. " But
what's the consequence ; what's the ungrateful behavior
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 suc-
cess to two Irish laborers 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, "Ine — ver — did"
" Never did, sir ! " ejaculated the beadle. " No, nor
nobody never did ; but, now she's dead, we've got to bury
her ; and that's the direction ; and the sooner it's done,
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
66 OLIVER TWIST.
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 him-
self 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, how-
ever ; 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 returned upon the hands of
the parish should be thus effectually and legally over-
" 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 profes-
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 mis-
erable 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
OLIVER TWIST. 67
rooms being inhabited. Some houses wliicli had become
insecure from age and decay, were prevented from fall-
ing 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 supphed the place of door and win-
dow, were wrenched from their positions, to afford an
apertuie 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 where Oliver and his master stopped ; so, groping
his way cautiously through the dark passage, and bid-
ding 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 crouch-
ing, 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 comer ; 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 to-
wards the place, and crept involuntarily closer to his
master ; for though it was covered up, the boy felt that
it was a corpse.
68 OLIVER TWIST.
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 underlip ; 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
" Nobody shall go near her," said the man, starting
fiercely up, as the undertaker approached the recess.
" Keep back ! d — n 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. " Non-
" I tell you," said the man : clenching his hands, and
stamping 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
The undertaker offered no reply to this raving ; but,
producing a tape from his pocket, knelt down for a mo-
ment 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
OLIVER TWIST. 69
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 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
" Stop, stop ! " said the old woman in a loud whisper.
" Will she be buried to-morrow, or next day, or to-night ?
I laid her out ; and I must walk, you know. Send me a
large cloak : a good waim 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. Any-
thing you like I " He disengaged himself from the old
70 OLIVER TWIST.
woman's grasp : and, drawing Oliver after him, hurried
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 bear-
ers, and carried into the street.
" Now, you must put your best leg foremost, old lady ! "
whispered Sowerberry in the old woman's ear ; " we are
rather late ; and it won't do to keep the clergyman
waiting. Move on, my men, — as quick as you like ! "
Thus directed, the bearers trotted on under their light
burden ; and the two mourners kept as near them as they
could. Mr. Bumble and Sowerberry walked at a good
smart pace in front ; and Oliver, whose legs were not so
long as his master's, ran by the side.
There ^vas not so great a necessity for hurrying as
Mr. Sowerberry had anticipated, however; for when
they reached the obscure corner of the churchyard in
w^hich the nettles grew, and w'here 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
OLIVER TWIST. 71
hide-and-seek among the tombstones : or varied their
amusements hj 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
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 after-
wards 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 gen-
tleman, 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,
It was no very difficult task ; for the grave was so
full, that the uppermost coffin was within a few feet of
the surface. The grave-digger shovelled in the earth;
stamped it loosely down with his feet : shouldered his
spade, and walked off, followed by the boys : who mur-
mured very loud complaints at the fiin being over so
" Come, my good fellow ! " said Bumble, tapping the
man on the back. " They want to shut up the yard."
The man, who had never once moved, since he had
taken his station by the grave-side, started, raised his
head, stared at the person who had addressed him, walked
forward for a few paces, and fell down in a swoon. The
crazy old woman was too much occupied in bewailing
the loss of her cloak (which the undertaker had taken
off), to pay him any attention ; so they threw a can of
cold water over him ; and when he came to, saw him
72 OLIVER TWIST.
safely out of the churchyard, locked the gate, and de-
parted 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 con-
siderable hesitation. " Not very much, sir."
" Ah, you'll get used to it in time, Oliver," said Sower-
berry. " 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
OLIVER TWIST. 73
OLIVER, BEING GOADED BY THE TAUNTS OF NOAH,
ROUSES INTO ACTION, AND RATHER ASTONISHES
The montli's trial over, Oliver was form all v appren-
ticed. It was a nice sickly season just at this time. In
commercial phrase, coffins were looking np ; and, in the
course of a few weeks, Oliver had acquired a great deal
of experience. The success of Mr. Sowerberry's in-
genious speculation, exceeded even his most sanguine
hopes. The oldest inhabitants recollected no period at
which measles had been so prevalent, or so fatal to in-
fant 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 demeanor and full
command of nerve which are so 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 sur-
rounded by a great number of nephews and nieces, who
74 OLIVER TWIST.
had been perfectly inconsolable during the previous ill-
ness, 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 gayety, 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 inter-
ment, recovered almost as soon as they reached home,
and became quite composed before the tea-drinking was
over. All this was very pleasant and improving to see ;
and Oliver beheld it with great admiration.
That Oliver Twist was moved to resignation by the
example of these good people, I cannot, although I am
his biographer, undertake to affirm with any degree of
confidence ; but I can most distinctly say, that for many
months he continued meekly to submit to the domination
and ill-treatment of Noah Claypole : who used him far
worse than before, now that his jealousy was roused by
seeing the new boy promoted to the black stick and hat-
band, while he, the old one, remained stationary in the
muffin-cap and leathers. Charlotte treated him badly,
because Noah did ; and Mrs. Sowerberry was his de-
cided 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 alto-
gether as comfortable as the hungry pig was when he
was shut up, by mistake, in the grain department of a
OLIVER TWIST. 75
And now, I come to a very important passage in Ol-
iver's history ; for I have to record an act, slight and
unimportant perhaps in appearance, but which indirectly
produced a most material change in all his future pros-
pects and proceedings.
One day, Oliver and Noah had descended into the
kitchen at the usual dinner-hour, to banquet upon a
small joint of mutton — a pound and a half of the
worst end of the neck — when Charlotte being called
out of the way, there ensued a brief interval of time,
which Noah Claypole, being hungry and vicious, con-
sidered he could not possibly devote to a worthier
purpose than aggravating and tantalizing young Oliver
Intent upon this innocent amusement, Noah put his
feet on the table-cloth; and pulled Oliver's hair; and
twitched his ears; and expressed his opinion that he
was a " sneak ; " and furthermore announced his inten-
tion of coming to see him hanged, whenever that desir-
able event should take place ; and entered upon various
other topics of petty annoyance, like a malicious and
ill-conditioned charity-boy as he was. But, none of
these taunts producing the desired effect of making Ol-
iver 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
" Work'us," said Noah, " how's your mother ? "
" She's dead," replied Oliver ; " don't you say any-
thing about her to me ! "
Oliver's color rose as he said this ; he breathed quick-
ly ; and there was a curious working of the mouth and
76 OLIVER TWIST.
nostrils, which Mr. Claypole thought must be the imme-
diate precursor of a violent fit of crying. Under this
impression he returned to the charge.
" What did she die of, Work'us ? " said Noah.
" Of a broken heart, some of our old nurses told me,"
replied Oliver: more as if he were talking to himself,
than answering Noah. " I think I know what it must
be to die of that ! "
"Tol de rol lol lol, right fol lairy, Work'us," said
Noah, as a tear rolled down Oliver's cheek. " What's
set you a-snivelling now?"
" Not you,'' replied Oliver, hastily brushing the tear
away. " Don't think it."
" Oh, not me, eh ? " sneered Noah.
"No, not you," replied OHver, 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 hi& 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 carn'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
OLIVER TWIST. 77
"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
laboring in Bridewell, or transported, or hung : which is
more likely than either, isn't it ? "
Crimson with fury, Oliver started up ; overthrew the
chair and table ; seized Noah by the throat ; shook him,
in the violence of his rage, till his teeth chattered in his
head; and, collecting his whole force into one heavy
blow, felled him to the ground.
A minute ago, the boy had looked the quiet, mild,
dejected creature that harsh treatment had made him.
But his spirit was roused at last ; the cruel insult to his
dead mother had set his blood on fire. His breast
heaved ; his attitude was erect ; his eye bright and vivid ;
his whole person changed, as he stood glaring over the
cowardly tormentor who now lay crouching at his feet ;
and defied him with an energy he had never known
" He'll murder me ! " blubbered Noah. " Charlotte !
missis ! Here's the new boy a-murdering of me ! Help !
help ! Oliver's gone mad ! Char — lotte ! "
Noah's shouts were responded to, by a loud scream
from 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 httle 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 un-grate-ful, mur-de-rous, hor-
rid villain ! " And between every syllable, Charlotte
78 OLIVER TWIST.
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 favorable 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 three wearied out, and could tear
and beat no longer, they dragged Oliver, struggling and
shouting, but nothing daunted, into the dust-cellar, and
there locked him up. This being done, Mrs. Sowerberry
sunk into a chair, and burst into tears.
"Bless her, she's going off!" said Charlotte. "A
glass of water, Noah, dear. Make haste ! "
" Oh ! Charlotte," said Mrs. Sowerberry : speaking as
well as she could, through a deficiency of breath, and a
sufficiency of cold water, which Noah had poured over
her head and shoulders. " Oh ! Charlotte, what a mercy
we have not all been murdered in our beds ! "
" Ah ! mercy indeed, ma'am," was the reply. " I only
hope this '11 teach master not to have any more of
these dreadful creatur's, 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 pite-
ously 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.
OLIVER TWIST. 79
" "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 millingtarj," suggested Mr. Claypole.
" No, no," said Mrs. Sowerberrj ; 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 haste ! You can hold a
knife to that black eye, as you run along. It '11 keep the
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.
80 OLIVER TWIST.
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
" 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 momen-
tary 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
OLIVER TWIST. 81
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 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 commu-
nicated perfectly paralyzed Mr. Bumble, he imparted
additional effect thereunto, by bewailing his dreadful
wounds ten times louder than before ; and, when he
observed a gentleman in a white waistcoat crossing the
yard, he was more tragic in his lamentations than ever :
rightly conceiving it highly expedient to attract the no-
tice, 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 favor him with some-
thing which would render the series of vocular exclama-
tions 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 mur-
dered, 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!"
82 OLIVER TWIST.
" He has likewise attempted, sir, to murder the female
servant," said Mr. Bumble, with a face of ashy paleness.
" And his missis," interposed Mr. Claypole.
"And his master, too, I think you said, Noah?"
added Mr. Bumble.
" No ; he's out, or he would have murdered him," re-
plied Noah. " He said he wanted to."
" Ah ! Said he wanted to : did he, my boy ? " in-
quired 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 Clay-
pole betook themselves with all speed to the undertaker's
Here, the position of affairs had not at all improved.
Sowerberry had not yet returned, and Oliver continued
to kick, with undiminished vigor, at the cellar-door. The
OLIVER TWIST. 83
accounts of his ferocity, as related by Mrs. Sowerberry
and Charlotte, were of so startling a nature, that Mr.
Bumble judged it prudent to parley, before opening the
door. With this view, he gave a kick at the outside, by
way of prelude ; and then, applying his mouth to the
key-hole, said, in a deep and impressive tone :
" Oliver ! "
" Come ; you let me out ! " repHed Oliver, from the
" Do you know this here voice, Oliver ? " said Mr.
" Yes," replied Oliver.
" A'n't you afraid of it, sir ? A'n't you a-trembling
while I speak, sir ? " said Mr. Bumble.
" No," replied Oliver boldly.
An answer so different from the one he had expected
to elicit, and was in the habit of receiving, staggered Mr.
Bumble not a httle. He stepped back from the key-
hole; drew himself up to his full height; and looked from
one to another of the three bystanders, in mute astonish-
" Oh, you know, Mr. Bumble, he must be mad," said
Mrs. Sowerberry. " No boy in half his senses 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 em-
phasis, " 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. Sower-
berry, who are practical philosophers, will tell you.
What have paupers to do with soul or spirit ? It's quite
84 OLIVER TWIST.
enough that we let 'em have live bodies. If you had
kept the boy on gruel, ma'am, this would never have
" Dear, dear ! " ejaculated Mrs. Sowerberry, piously
raising her eyes to the kitchen ceiling : '' this comes of
being liberal ! "
The liberality of Mrs. Sowerberry to Oliver, had con-
sisted 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 accu-
sation : of which, to do her justice, she was wholly in-
nocent, 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 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-dis-
posed woman, weeks before."
At this point of Mr. Bumble's discourse, OHver, 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
OLIVER TWIST. 85
received ; his face was bruised and scratched ; and his
hair scattered over his forehead. The angry flash had
not disappeared, however ; and when he was pulled out
of his prison, he scowled boldly on Noah, and looked
" Now, you are a nice young fellow, a'n't you ? "
said Sowerberry j giving OUver a shake, and a box on
" He called my mother names," rephed 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 prece-
dents in disputes of matrimony established, a brute, an
unnatural husband, an insulting creature, a base imi-
tation of a man, and various other agreeable characters
too numerous for recital within the limits of this chap-
ter. 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 inter-
est to be 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 un-
necessary. For the rest of the day, he was shut up in
86 OLIVER TWIST.
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 compli-
mentary to the memory of his mother, looked into the
room, and, amidst the jeers and pointings of Noah and
Charlotte, ordered him up-stairs to his dismal bed.
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 treat-
ment may be supposed likely to have awakened in a
mere child. He had listened to their taunts with a look
of contempt ; he had borne the lash without a cry : for
he felt that pride swelling in his heart which would have
kept down a shriek to the last, though they had roasted
him alive. But now, when there were none to see or
hear him, he fell upon his knees on the floor ; and,
hiding his face in his hands, wept such tears as, God
send for the credit of our nature, few so young may ever
have cause to pour out before him !
For a long time, Oliver remained motionless in this
attitude. The candle was burning low in the socket
when he rose to his feet. Having gazed cautiously
round him, and listened intently, he gently undid the
fastenings of the door, and looked abroad.
It was a cold, dark night. The stars seemed, to the
boy's eyes, farther from the earth than he had ever seen
them before ; there was no wind ; and the sombre shad-
ows thrown by the trees upon the ground, looked sepul-
chral and deathlike, from being so still. He softly
reclosed the door. Having availed himself of the ex-
piring 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.
OLIVER TWIST. 87
With the first ray of Hght 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 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 this same footpath, Oliver well remembered he
had trotted beside INIr. 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 httle beds ; as he stopped, he raised his pale face
and disclosed the features of one of his former com-
panions. 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 OUver, 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.
88 OLIVER TWIST.
" 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," repHed
the child with a faint smile. " I am very glad to see
you, dear ; but don't stop, don't stop ! "
" Yes, yes, I will, to say good-b'ye to you," replied
Oliver. " I shall see you again, Dick. I know I shall !
You will be well and happy ! "
" 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 fling-
ing his little arms round Oliver's neck : " Good-b'ye,
dear ! God bless you ! "
The blessing was from a young child's lips, but it was
the first that OHver had ever heard invoked upon his
head ; and through the struggles and sufferings, and
troubles and changes, of his after-Hfe, he never once
OLIVER TWIST. 89
OLIVER WALKS TO LONDON. HE ENCOUNTERS ON
THE ROAD A STRANGE SORT OF YOUNG GENTLE-
Oliver reached the stile at which the by-path termi-
mated ; 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 a
mile-stone, 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 home-
less 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
90 OLIVER TWIST.
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 medi-
tated upon his means of getting there. He had a crust
of bread, a coarse shirt, and two pairs of stockings in
his bundle. He had a penny too — a gift of Sower-
berry'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 winter time." But Oliver's thoughts,
like those of most other peoj)le, although they were ex-
tremely ready and active to point out his difficulties, were
wholly at a loss to suggest any feasible mode of sur-
mounting 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 hayrick, 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, how-
ever, 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
OLIYEK TWIST. 91
he passed. He had walked no more than twelve miles,
when night closed in again. His feet were sore, and his
legs so weak that they trembled beneath him. Another
night passed in the bleak damp air, made him worse ;
when he set forward on his journey next morning, he
could hardly crawl along.
He waited at the bottom of a steep hill till a stage-
coach came up, and then begged of the outside passen-
gers ; 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 outsides saw
this, they put their halfpence back into their pockets
again : declaring that he was an idle young dog, and
didn't deserve anything ; and the coach rattled away and
left only a cloud of dust behind.
In some villages, large painted boards were fixed up ;
warning all persons who begged within the district, that
they would be sent to jail. This frightened Oliver very
much, and made him glad to get out of those villages
with all possible expedition. In others, he would stand
about the inn-yards, and look mournfully at every one
who passed : a proceeding which generally terminated in
the landlady's ordering one of the post-boys who were
lounging about, to drive that strange boy out of the
place, for she was sure he had come to steal something.
If he begged at a farmer's house, ten to one but they
threatened to set the dog on him ; and when he showed
his nose in a shop, they talked about the beadle : which
brought Ohver's heart into his mouth, — very often the
only thing he had there, for many hours together.
92 OLIVER TWIST.
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 i3rocess which
had put an end to his mother's ; in other words, he
would most assuredly have fallen dead upon the king's
highway. But the turnpike-man gave him a meal of
bread and cheese ; and the old lady, who had a ship-
wrecked grandson wandering barefooted 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 his splendid beauty ;
but the light only served to show the boy his own lone-
someness and desolation, as he sat, with bleeding feet
and covered with dust, upon a cold door-step.
By degrees, the shutters were opened; the window-
blinds were drawn up ; and people began passing to and
fro. Some few stopped to gaze at Oliver for a moment
or two, or turned round to stare at him as they hurried
by; but none relieved him, or troubled themselves to
inquire how he came there. He had no heart to beg.
And there he sat.
He had been crouching on the step for some time :
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 through :
and thinking how strange it seemed that they could do,
OLIVER TWIST. 93
with ease, in a few hours, what it had taken him a whole
week of courage and determination beyond his years to
accomphsh : 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 httle heed of this
at first ; but, the boy remained in the same attitude of
close observation so long, that OHver raised his head,
and returned his steady look. Upon this, the boy crossed
over ; and, walking close up to Oliver, said,
" Hullo ! 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 of 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.
" Hullo, my covey, what's the row ? " said this strange
young gentleman to OHver.
94 OLIVER TWIST.
" 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
" Walking for sivin days ! " said the young gentleman.
" Oh, I see. Beak's order, eh ? But," he added, notic-
ing Oliver's look of surprise, " I suppose you don't know
what a beak is, my flash com-pan-i-on."
Oliver mildly replied, that he had always heard a bird's
mouth described by the term in question.
" My eyes, how green ! " exclaimed the young gentle-
man. " Why a beak's a madgst'rate ; and when you
walk by a beak's order, it's not straight forerd, but al-
ways a-going up, and niver 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 al-
ways goes better when the wind's low with people, than
when it's high ; acos then they can't get workmen. But
come," said the young gentleman ; " you want grub, and
you shall have it. I'm at low-water-mark myself — only
one bob and a magpie ; but, as far as it goes, I'll fork
out and stump. Up with you on your pins. There !
Now then ! Morrice ! "
Assisting Oliver to rise, the young gentleman took
him to 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 expedient of making a hole in the loaf by
pulHng out a portion of the crumb, and stuffing it therein.
Taking the bread under his arm, the young gentleman
OLIVER TWIST. 95
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 Ohver, 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
" Going to London ? " said the strange boy, when
Oliver had at length concluded.
" Got any lodgings ? "
« Money ? "
The strange boy whistled ; and put his arms into
his pockets, as far as the big coat-sleeves would let
" Do you live in London ? " inquired Oliver.
" Yes. I do, when I'm at home," replied the boy.
"I suppose you want some place to sleep in to-night,
" I do indeed," answered Oliver. " I have not slept
under a roof since I left the country."
" Don't fret your eyelids on that score," said the young
gentleman. " I've got to be in London to-night ; and I
know a 'spectable old genelman as lives there, wot '11 give
you lodgings for nothink, and never ask for the change
— that is, if any genelman he knows interduces you.
And don't he know me? Oh, no! Not in the least !
By no means. Certainly not ! "
The young gentleman smiled, as if to intimate that the
latter fragments of discourse were playfully -ironical ; and
finished the beer as he did so.
96 OLIVER TWIST.
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 already
referred to, would doubtless provide Oliver with a com-
fortable place, without loss of time. This led to a more
friendly and confidential dialogue ; from which Oliver
discovered that his friend's name was Jack Dawkins, and
that he was a peculiar pet and protege of the elderly
gentleman before mentioned.
Mr. Dawkins's appearance did not say a vast deal in
favor of the comforts which his patron's interest obtained
for those whom he took under his protection ; but, as he
had a rather flighty and dissolute mode of conversing,
and furthermore avowed that among his intimate friends
he was better known by the sobriquet of " The artful
Dodger," Oliver concluded that, being of a dissipated
and careless turn, the moral precepts of his benefactor
had hitherto been thrown away upon him. Under this
impression, he secretly resolved to cultivate the good opin-
ion 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 honor of his further
As John Dawkins objected to their entering London
before nightfall, it was nearly eleven o'clock when they
reached the turnpike at Islington. They crossed from
the Angel into St. John's road ; struck down the small
street which 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
OLIVEK TWIST. 97
at a rapid pace, directing Oliver to follow close at his
Although Oliver had enough to occupy his attentiou
in keeping sight of his leader, he could not help bestow-
ing 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 odors. 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 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, which here and there diverged from
the main street, disclosed httle knots of houses, where
drunken men and women were positively wallowing
in filth ; and from several of the door-ways, great ill-
looking fellows were cautiously emerging : bound, to
all appearance, on no very well-disposed or harmless
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
98 OLIVER TWIST.
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
" Where did he come from ? "
" Greenland. Is Fagin up-stairs ? "
" 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 firmly grasped by his companion, ascended
with much difficulty the dark and broken stairs : which
his conductor mounted with an ease and expedition that
showed he was well acquainted with them. He threw
open the door of a back-room, and drew Oliver in after
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 villanous-looking and repulsive face was obscured
by a quantity of matted red hair. He was dressed in a
greasy flannel gown, with his throat bare ; and seemed
to be dividing his attention between the frying-pan and a
clothes-horse, over which a great number of silk hand-
kerchiefs were hanging. Several rough beds made of
old sacks, were huddled side by side on the floor. Seated
OLIVER TWIST. 99
round the table were four or five boys : none older than
the Dodger : smoking long clay pipes, and drinking spir-
its 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
The Jew grinned ; and, making a low obeisance to
Oliver, took him by the hand, and hoped he should have
the honor of his intimate acquaintance. Upon this, the
young gentlemen with the pipes came round him, and
shook both his hands very hard — especially the one in
which he held his little bundle. One young gentleman
was very anxious to hang up his cap for him ; and
another was so obliging as to put his hands in his pock-
ets, in order that, as he was very tired, he might not have
the trouble of emptying them, himself, when he went to
bed. These civilities would probably have been extended
much farther, but for ^ liberal exercise of the Jew's toast-
ing-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, a'n'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 boister-
ous 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
100 OLIVER TWIST.
glass of hot gin and water : telling him he must drink it
off directly, because another gentleman wanted the tum-
bler. Oliver did as he was desired. Immediately after-
wards, he felt himself gently lifted on to one of the sacks;
and then he sunk into a deep sleep.
OLIVER TWIST. lUi
COXTAIXIXG FURTHER PARTICULARS CONCERNING THE
PLEASANT OLD GENTLEMAN, AND HIS HOPEFUL
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 him-
self, he would go on, whistling and stirring again, as
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 wrapt in perfect unconsciousness. At such
times, a mortal knows just enough of what his mind is
doing, to form some ghmmering conception of its mighty
powers, its bounding from earth and spurning time and
space, when freed from the restraint of its corporeal
102 OLIVER TWIST.
Oliver was precisely in this condition. He saw the
Jew with his half-closed eyes ; heard his low whistling ;
and recognized 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 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
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, spark-
ling with jewels.
" Aha ! " said the Jew, shrugging up his shoulders, and
distorting every feature with a hideous grin. " Clever
dogs ! clever dogs ! Stanch 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 sev-
erally drawn forth from the same box, and surveyed with
equal pleasure ; besides rings, brooches, bracelets, and
other articles of jewelry, of such magnificent materials,
OLIVER TWIST. 103
and costly workmanship, that OHver 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,
" What a fine thing capital punishment is ! Dead men
never repent ; dead men never bring awkward stories to
light. Ah, it's a fine thing for the trade ! Five of 'em
strung up in a row, and none left to play booty, or turn
white livered ! "
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 trem-
bled very much though ; for even in his terror, Oliver
could see that the knife quivered in the air.
" Wiiat's that ? " said the Jew. " What do you watch
me for ? Why are you awake ? Wliat have you seen ?
Speak out, boy ! Quick — quick ! for your life ! "
" I wasn't able to sleep any longer, sir," replied Oli-
ver, meekly. " I am very sorry if I have disturbed you,
" You were not aw^ake an hour ago ? " said the Jew,
scowling fiercely on the boy.
104 OLIVER TWIST.
" 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 ear-
nestly. " I was not, indeed, sir."
" Tush, tush, my dear ! " said the Jew, abruptly re-
suming his old manner, and playing with the knife a
little, before he laid it down : as if to induce the belief
that he had caught it up, in mere sport. " Of course I
know that, my dear. I only tried to frighten you. You're
a brave boy. Ha ! ha ! you're a brave boy, Oliver ! " The
Jew rubbed his hands with a chuckle, but glanced un-
easily 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 Ohver.
" 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 gen-
tleman. " 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.
OLIVER TWIST. 105
He had scarcely washed himself, and made everything
tidy, by emptying the basin out of the window, agree-
ably 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.
" 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 gen-
" 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, a'n'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
" Wipes," replied Master Bates ; at the same time
producing four pocket-handkerchiefs.
" Well," said the Jew, inspecting them closely ; they're
106 OLIVER TWIST.
very good ones — very. You haven't marked tliem 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
" Very much indeed, if you'll teach me, sir," replied
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 re-
covered : as an apology to the company for his unpolite
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 color
mounting, changed the subject by asking whether there
had been much of a crowd at the execution that morn-
ing. 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
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
OLIVER TWIST. 107
watch in his waistcoat-pocket : with a guard-chain round
his neck : and sticking a mock diamond pin in his shirt :
buttoned his coat tight round him, and putting his spec-
tacle-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
fire-place, and sometimes at the door, making belief
that he was staring with all his might into shop-win-
dows. At such times, he would look constantly round
him, for fear of thieves, and keep slapping all his pock-
ets in turn, to see that he hadn't lost anything, in such
a very funny and natural manner, that Oliver laughed
till the tears ran down his face. All this time, the two
boys followed him closely about ; getting out of his
sight, so nimbly, every time he turned round, that it
was impossible to follow their motions. At last, the
Dodger trod upon his toes, or ran upon his boot acci-
dentally, 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-handker-
chief — even the spectacle-case. If the old gentleman
felt a hand in any one of his pockets, he cried out where
it was ; and then the game began all over again.
"When this game had been played a great many times,
a couple of young ladles called to see the young gentle-
men ; 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 color in their
faces, and looked quite stout and hearty. Being re-
108 OLIVER TWIST.
markably 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 pro-
duced, in consequence of one of the young ladies com-
plaining of a coldness in her inside ; and the conversation
took a very convivial and improving turn. At length,
Charley Bates expressed his opinion that it was time
to pad the hoof This, it occurred to Oliver, must be
French for going out ; for, directly afterwards, the
Dodger, and Charley, and the two young ladies, went
away together, having been kindly furnished by the
amiable old Jew with money to spend.
" There, my dear," said Fagin. " That's a pleasant
life, isn't it? They have gone out for the day."
" Have they done work, sir ? " inquired Oliver.
" Yes," said the Jew ; " that is, unless they should
unexpectedly come across any, when they are out ; and
they won't neglect it, if they do, my dear : depend upon
" Make 'em your models, my dear. Make 'em your
models," said the Jew, tapping the fire-shovel on the
hearth to add force to his words ; " do everything they
bid you, and take their advice in all matters — espe-
cially 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 Ohver.
" See if you can take it out, without my feeling
it: as you saw them do, when we were at play this
Oliver held up the bottom of the pocket with one
OLIVER TWIST. 109
hand, as he had seen the Dodger hold it, and drew the
handkerchief hghtly out of it with the other.
" Is it gone ? " cried the Jew.
" Here it is, sir," said Ohver, 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."
OHver 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
110 OLIVER TWIST.
OLIVER BECOMES BETTER ACQUAINTED WITH THE
CHARACTERS OF HIS NEW ASSOCIATES ; AND PUR-
CHASES EXPERIENCE AT A HIGH PRICE. BEING A
SHORT, BUT VERY IMPORTANT CHAPTER, IN THIS
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 some-
times taking part in the game already described : which
the two boys and the Jew played, regularly, every morn-
ing. At length, he began to languish for fresh air ; and
took many occasions of earnestly entreating the old gen-
tleman to allow him to go out to work, with his two com-
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
OLIVER TWIST. Ill
At length, one morning, Oliver obtained the permis-
sion he had so eagerly sought. There had been no hand-
kerchiefs 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 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 in-
structed in, first.
The pace at which they went, was such a very lazy,
ill-looking saunter, that Oliver soon began to think his
comj^anions 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 behavior on the part of the
They were just emerging from a narrow court not far
from the open square in Clerkenwell, which is yet called,
112 OLIVER TWIST.
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 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 in-
quiries ; 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 utter abstraction, that he saw not the
book-stall, nor the street, nor the boys, nor, in short, any-
thing but the book itself: which he was reading straight
through : turning over the leaf when he got to the bot-
tom of a page, beginning at the top line of the next one,
and going regularly on, with the greatest interest and
OLIVER TWIST. 113
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 di'aw 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!
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
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 handker-
chief, 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 door-
way 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
114 OLIVER TWIST.
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 be-
"Stop thief! Stop thief!" There is a magic in the
sound. The tradesman leaves his counter, and the car-
man his wagon ; the butcher throws down his tray ; the
baker his basket ; the milkman his pail ; the errand-boy
his parcels ; the school-boy his marbles ; the pavior his
pickaxe ; the child his battledore. Away they run,
pell-mell, helter-skelter, slap-dash : tearing, yelling, and
screaming : knocking down the passengers as they turn
the corners : rousing up the dogs, and astonishing the
fowls : and streets, squares, and courts, reecho with the
"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 audi-
ence desert Punch in the very thickest of the plot, and,
joining the rushing throng, swell the shout, and lend
fresh vigor 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 eye ; large drops of per-
spiration 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
OLIVER TWIST. 115
whoop and scream with joj. " 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 new-comer, jostling and struggling with the others
to catch a glimpse. " Stand aside ! " " Give him a
little air!" "Nonsense! he don'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 mouth, looking wildly round upon 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
" Afraid ! " murmured the crowd. " That's a good
" Poor fellow ! " said the gentleman, " he has hurt him-
" / did that, sir," said a great lubberly fellow, stepping
forward ; " and preciously I cut my knuckle ag'in' his
mouth. / 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 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.
116 OLIVER TWIST.
" Come, get up," said the man, roughly.
" It wasn't me indeed, sir. Indeed, indeed, it was two
other boys," said Ohver, clasping his hands passionately,
and looking round. " They are here somewhere."
" Oh no, they a'n'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 conven-
ient court they came to. " Come, get up ! "
" Don't hurt him," said the old gentleman, compassion-
" Oh no, I won't hurt him," replied the officer, tear-
ing his jacket half off bis back, in proof thereof.
" Come, I know you ; it won't do. Will you stand
upon your legs, you young devil ? "
Oliver, who could hardly stand, made a shift to raise
himself on his feet, and was at once lugged along the
street by the jacket-collar, at a rapid pace. The gentle-
man 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.
OLIVER TWIST. 117
TREATS OF ME. FAXG THE POLICE MAGISTRATE; AND
FURNISHES A SLIGHT SPECIMEN OF HIS MODE OF
The offence had been committed within the district,
and indeed in the immediate neighborhood 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
" 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 wiU be disengaged in half a min-
ute. Now, young gallows ! "
118 OLIVER TWIST.
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 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, else-
where, since Saturday night. But this is httle. 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
" 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 man-
ner ; " something that touches and interests me. Can
he be innocent ? He looked like. — By-the-by," ex-
claimed 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."
OLIVER TWIST. 119
He wandered over them again. He had called them
into view ; and it was not easy to replace the shroud that
had so long concealed them. There were the faces of
friends, and foes, and of many that had been almost stran-
gers, 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 set up
as a light, to shed a soft and gentle glow upon the path
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 re-
quest 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.
The office was a front parlor, with a panelled wall.
Mr. Fang sat behind a bar, at the upper end ; and on
one side the door was a sort of wooden pen in which
poor little Oliver was already deposited ; trembling very
much at the awfulness of the scene.
Mr. Fang was a lean, long-backed, stiff-necked, mid-
dle-sized man, with no great quantity of hair, and what
he had, orrowinor on the back and sides of his head. His
120 OLIVER TWIST.
face was stern, and much flushed. If he were really not
in the habit of drinking rather more than was exactly
good for him, he might have brought an action against
his countenance for libel, and have recovered heavy
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, awaited to be ques-
Now, it so happened that Mr. Fang was at that mo-
ment 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 tem-
per ; and he looked up with an angry scowl.
" Who are you ? " said Mr. Fang.
The old gentleman pointed, with some surprise, to his
" Ofiicer ! " said Mr. Fang, tossing the card contempt-
uously away with the newspaper, " who is this fellow ? "
" My name, sir," said the old gentleman, speaking lihe
a gentleman, " my name, sir, is Brownlow. Permit me
to inquire the name of the magistrate who offers a gra-
tuitous 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 infor-
" Officer ! " said Mr. Fang, throwing the paper on one
side, " what's this fellow charged with ? "
OLIVER TWIST. 121
" He's not charged at all, your worship," replied the
officer. " He appears against the boy, your worship."
His worship knew this perfectly well; but it was a
good annoyance, and a safe one.
" Appears against the boy, does he ? " said Fang, sur-
veying 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 gentlemen, 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 submit-
ted 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 book-stall " — Mr. Brownlow
'* Hold your tongue, sir ! " said Mr. Fang. " Police-
man ! Where's the policeman ? Here, swear this police-
man. 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.
122 OLIVER TWIST.
" Are there any witnesses ? " inquired Mr. Fang.
" None, your worship," replied the policeman.
Mr. Fang sat silent for some minutes, and then, turn-
ing round to the prosecutor, said in a towering passion,
" Do you mean to state what your complaint against
this boy is, man, or do you not? You have been sworn.
Now, if you stand there, refusing to give evidence, I'll
punish you for disrespect to the bench ; I will, by — "
By what, or by whom, nobody knows ; for the clerk
and 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 — acciden-
tally, 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 en-
ergy, looking towards the bar, " I really fear that he is
" 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 ? " de-
manded Mr. Fang. " Officer, what's his name ? "
This was addressed to a bluff old fellow, in a striped
OLIVER TWIST. 123
waistcoat, who was standing bj the bar. He bent over
Oliver, and repeated the inquiry ; but finding him really
incapable of understanding the question ; and knowing
that his not replying would only infuriate the magistrate
the more, and add to the severity of his sentence, he
hazarded a guess.
" He says his name's Tom White, your worship," said
this kind-hearted thief-taker.
" Oh, he won't speak out, won't he ? " said Fang.
" Very well, very well. Where does he live ? "
" Where he can, your worship," replied the ofiicer :
again pretending to receive Oliver's answer.
" Has he any parents ? " inquired Mr. Fang.
" He says they died in his infancy, your worship," re-
plied the officer : hazarding the usual reply.
At this point of the inquiry, Oliver raised his head ;
and, looking round with imploring eyes, murmured a
feeble prayer for a draught of water.
" Stuff and nonsense ! " said Mr. Fang : " don't try to
make a fool of me."
" I think he really is ill, your worship," remonstrated
" 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
Oliver availed himself of the kind permission, and
fell to the floor in a fainting fit. The men in the ofiice
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."
124 OLIVER TWIST.
" How do you propose to deal with the case, sir ? " in-
quired the clerk in a low voice.
" Summarily," replied Mr. Fang. " He stands com-
mitted for three months — hard labor of course. Clear
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 appear-
ance, clad in an old suit of black, rushed hastily into the
office, and advanced towards the bench.
" Stop, stop ! Don't take him away ! For Heaven's
sake stop a moment ! " cried the new-comer, breathless
Although the presiding Genii in such an office as this,
exercise a summary and arbitrary power over the hber-
ties, 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
"What is this? Who is this? Turn this man out.
Clear the office ! " cried Mr. Fang.
" I will speak," cried the man ; " I will not be turned
out. I saw it all. I keep the book-stall. I demand to
be sworn. I will not be put down. Mr. Fang, you
must hear me. You must not refuse, sir."
The man was right. His manner was determined ;
and the matter was growing rather too serious to be
* Or were virtually, then.
OLIVER TWIST. 125
" 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 rob-
bery was committed by another boy. I saw it done :
and I saw that this boy was perfectly amazed and stu-
pefied by it." Having by this time recovered a little
breath, the worthy book-stall keeper proceeded to relate,
in a more coherent manner, the exact circumstances of
" Why didn't you come here before ? " said Fang, after
" 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
« Oh, that book, eh ? " said Fang. " Is it paid for ? "
" No, it is not," replied the man, with a smile.
" Dear me I forgot all about it ! " exclaimed the absent
old gentleman, innocently.
" A nice person to prefer a charge against a poor
boy ! " said Fang, with a comical effort to look humane.
" I consider, sir, that you have obtained possession of
that book, under very suspicious and disreputable cir-
cumstances ; 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
126 OLIVER TWTST.
" D — n me ! " cried the old gentleman, bursting out
with the rage he had kept down so long, " d — me !
" 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 in a moment. Little Oliver Twist
lay on his back on the pavement, with his shirt unbut-
toned, and his temples bathed with water ; his face a
deadly white ; and a cold tremble convulsing his whole
" Poor boy, poor boy ! " said Mr. Brownlow, bending
over him. " Call a coach, somebody, pray. Directly ! "
A coach was obtained, and Ohver, having been care-
fully laid on one seat, the old gentleman got in and sat
himself on the other.
" May I accompany you ? " said the book-stall keeper,
" Bless me, yes, my dear sir," said Mr. Brownlow
quickly. " I forgot you. Dear, dear ! I have this un-
happy book still ! Jump in. Poor fellow ! there's no
time to lose."
The book-stall keeper got into the coach ; and away
OLIVER TWIST. 127
IN WHICH OLIVER IS TAKEN BETTER CARE OF THAN
HE EVER WAS BEFORE. AND IN WHICH THE NAR-
RATIVE 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 with-
out 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
But, for many days, Oliver remained insensible to all
the goodness of his new friends. The sun rose and sunk,
and rose and sunk 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.
128 OLIVER TWIST.
Feebly raising himself in the bed, with his head resting
on his trembling arm, he looked anxiously around.
" What room is this ? Where have I been brought
to ? " said Oliver. " This is not the place I went to
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 needle-work.
" Hush, my dear," said the old lady softly. " You must
be very quiet, or you will be ill again ; and you have
been very bad, — as bad as bad could be, pretty nigh.
Lie down again : there's a dear." With these words,
the old lady very gently placed Oliver's head upon the
pillow ; and smoothing back his hair from his forehead,
looked so kindly and lovingly in his face, that he could
not help placing his little withered hand in hers, and
drawing it round his neck.
" Save us ! " said the old lady, with tears in her eyes,
" what a grateful little dear it is. Pretty creetur' ! what
would his mother feel if she had sat by him as I have,
and could see him now ! "
" Perhaps she does see me," whispered Oliver, folding
his hands together; "perhaps she has sat by me. I
almost feel as if she had."
" That was the fever, my dear," said the old lady
" 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
OLIVER TWIST. 129
was very ill herself before she died. She can't know
anything about me though," added Oliver after a mo-
ment'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 counter-
pane, afterwards, as if they were part and parcel of those
features, brought some cool stuflf 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 hidy in all things; and
partly, to tell the truth, because he was completely ex-
hausted with what he had already said. He soon fell
into 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 very large and loud-
ticking gold watch in his hand, who felt his pulse, and
said he was a great deal better.
" You are a great deal better, are you not, my dear ? "
said the gentleman.
" Yes, thank you, sir," replied Oliver.
" Yes, I know you are," said the gentleman : " You're
hungry too, a'n't you ? "
" No, sir," answered Oliver.
" Hem ! " said the gentleman. " No, I know you're
not. He is not hungry, Mrs. Bedwin," said the gentle-
man : 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.
130 OLIVER TWIST.
" You feel sleepy, don't you, my dear ? " said the
" No, sir," replied Oliver.
" No," said the doctor with a very shrewd and satisfied
look. " You're not sleej)y. 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 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 courtesy. The doctor, after
tasting the cool stuff, and expressing a qualified approval
thereof, hurried away : his boots cracking in a very im-
portant and wealthy manner as he went down-stairs.
Oliver dozed off again, soon after this ; when he
awoke, it was nearly twelve o'clock. The old lady ten-
derly bade him good-night shortly afterwards, and left
him in charge of a fat old woman who had just come :
bringing with her, in a little bundle, a small Prayer Book
and a large nightcap. Putting the latter on her head
and the former on the table, the old woman, after telling
Oliver that she had come to sit up with him, drew her
chair close to the fire and went off into a series of short
naps, checkered at frequent intervals with sundry tum-
blings 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
OLIVER TWIST. 131
pattern of the paper on the wall. The darkness and the
deep stillness of the room were very solemn ; and as they
brought into the boy's mind the thought that death had
been hovering there, for many days and nights, and
might jet fill it with the gloom and dread of his awful
presence, he turned his face upon the pillow, and fer-
vently 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 again to all the strug-
gles and turmoils of Hfe ; to all its cares for the present ;
its anxieties for the future; more than all, its weary
recollections of the past !
It had been bright day for hours when Oliver opened
his eyes ; 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 down-
stairs into the little housekeeper's room, which belonged
to her. Having him sat 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, forth-
with began to cry most violently.
" Never mind me, my dear," said 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. Brown-
132 OLIVER TWIST.
low 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 ap-
plied herself to warming up, in a little saucepan, a basin
full 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 com-
" 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
"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-humored manner. " It's not a like-
ness 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.
OLIVER TWIST. 133
" 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,
" Lord save us ! " exclaimed the old lady, starting ;
" don't talk in that way, child. You're weak and ner-
vous 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 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 ex-
traordinary 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
Now, the old gentleman came in as brisk as need be ;
but, he had no sooner raised his spectacles on his fore-
head, and thrust his hands behind the skirts of his
dressing-gown to take a good long look at Oliver, than
his countenance underwent a very great variety of odd
contortions. Oliver looked very worn and shadowy
from sickness, and made an ineffectual attempt to stand
ap, 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
134 OLIVER TWIST.
of humane disposition, forced a supply of tears into his
eyes, by some hydraulic process which we are not suffi-
ciently philosophical to be in a condition to explain.
" Poor boy, poor boy ! " said Mr. Bro.wnlow, clearing
his throat. " I'm rather hoarse this morning, Mrs. Bed-
win. I'm afraid I have caught cold."
" I hope not, sir,'* says Mrs. Bedwin. " Everything
you have had, has been well aired, sir."
" I don't know, Bedwin. I don't know," said Mr.
Brownlow ; " I rather think I had a damp napkin at
dinner-time yesterday ; but never mind that. How do
you feel, my dear?"
" Very happy, sir," replied Oliver. " And very grate-
ful indeed, sir, for your goodness to me."
" Good boy," said Mr. Brownlow, stoutly. " Have
you given him any nourishment, Bedwin? Any slops,
" He has just had a basin of beautiful strong broth,
sir," replied Mrs. Bedwin : drawing herself up slightly,
and laying a strong emphasis on the last word : to inti-
mate 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,
" 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, Ohver Twist."
" Queer name ! " said the old gentleman. " What
made you tell the magistrate your name was White?"
OLIVER TWIST. 135
" I never told him so, sir," returned Oliver in amaze-
This sounded so like a falsehood, that the old gentle-
man 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 ex-
isted, the old idea of the resemblance between his fea-
tures 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 ? 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 in-
stant, so precisely alike, that the minutest line seemed
copied with a startling accuracy!
Oliver knew not the cause of this sudden exclama-
tion ; 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 record-
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 execut-
ing an illegal conveyance of Mr. Brownlow's personal
property, as has been already described, they were actu-
136 OLIVER TWIST.
ated by a very laudable and becoming regard for them-
selves ; and forasmuch 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 ac-
tion 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 mat-
ters of maxim and theory : and, by a very neat and
pretty compliment to her exalted wisdom and under-
standing, putting entirely out of sight any considerations
of heart, or generous impulse and feeling. For, these
are matters totally beneath a female who is acknowl-
edged by universal admission to be far above the numer-
ous little foibles and weaknesses of her sex.
If I wanted any further proof of the strictly philo-
sophical 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 gen-
eral attention was fixed upon Oliver ; and making im-
mediately 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 circumlocu-
tions and discursive staggerings, like unto those in which
drunken men under the pressure of a too mighty flow
OLIVER TWIST. 137
of ideas, are prone to indulge ; still, I do mean to say,
and do saj distinctly, that it is the invariable practice
of many mighty philosophers, in carrying out their
theories, to evince great wisdom and foresight in pro-
viding 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 impar-
tial 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 by one consent,
beneath a low and dark archway. Having remained
silent here, just long enough to recover breath to speak,
Master Bates uttered an exclamation of amusement and
dehght ; and bursting into an uncontrollable fit of laugh-
ter, 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, look-
ing 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 start-
ing 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
138 OLIVER TWIST.
Master Bates, presented the scene before him in too
strong colors. As he arrived at this apostrophe, he
again rolled upon the door-step, and laughed louder
" What '11 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 : stop-
ping rather suddenly in his merriment ; for the Dodger's
manner was impressive. " What should he say ? "
Mr. Dawkins whistled for a couple of minutes ; then,
taking off his hat, scratched his head, and nodded thrice.
" What do you mean ? " said Charley.
" Toor rul lol loo, gammon and spinnage, the frog he
wouldn't, and high cockolorum," said the Dodger : with
a slight sneer on his intellectual countenance.
This was explanatory, but not satisfactory. Master
Bates felt it so ; and again said, " What do you mean ? "
The Dodger made no reply; but putting his hat on
again and gathering the skirts of his long-tailed coat
under his arm, thrust his tongue into his cheek, slapped
the bridge of his nose some half-dozen times in a familiar
but expressive manner ; and turning on his heel slunk
down the court. Master Bates followed, with a thought-
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 ra^^cally smile on his white face as he turned round ;
OLIVER TWIST. 139
and, looking sharply out from under his thick red eye-
brows, bent his ear towards the door, and listened in-
" 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.
140 OLIVER TWIST.
SOME NEW ACQUAINTANCES ARE INTRODUCED TO THE
INTELLIGENT READER ; CONNECTED WITH WHOM,
VARIOUS PLEASANT MATTERS ARE RELATED, AP-
PERTAINING TO THIS HISTORY.
" Where's Oliver ? " said the furious 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
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 im-
probable 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
OLIVER TWIST. 141
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 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 in a month or two.
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 ter-
rific 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-handker-
cher a'n't lined with beer ! Come in, you sneaking war-
mint ; wot are you stopping outside for, as if you was
ashamed of your master ! Come in ! "
The man who growled out these words, was a stoutly-
built fellow of about five-and-thirty, in a black velveteen
coat, very soiled drab breeches, lace-up half boots, and
gray cotton stockings, which enclosed 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
142 OLIVER TWIST.
handkercliief 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 coun-
tenance with a beard of three days' growth, and two
scowling eyes ; one of which, displayed various parti-
colored symptoms of having been recently damaged by
" 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 ap-
peared 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 about twenty times
in a minute, appeared to occupy himself in taking a sur-
vey 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 ! /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, though, for you're fit for noth-
ing but keeping as a curiosity of ugliness in a glass
bottle, and I suppose they don't blow glass bottles large
" 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
OLIVER TWIST. 143
mj name : out with it ! I shan't disgrace it when the
"Well, well, then — Bill Sikes," said the Jew, with
abject humility. "You seem out of humor, Bill."
" Perhaps I am," replied Sikes ; " I should think you
was rather out of sorts too, unless you mean as little
harm when you throw pewter pots about, as you do when
you blab and " —
" Are you mad ? " said the Jew, catching the man by
the sleeve, and pointing towards the boys.
Mr. Sikes contented himself with tying an imaginary
knot under his left ear, and jerking his head over on the
right shoulder ; a piece of dumb show which the Jew
appeared to understand perfectly. He then, in cant
terms with which his whole conversation was plenti-
fully besprinkled, but which would be quite unintelli-
gible if they were recorded here, demanded a glass of
" And mind you don't poison it," said Mr. Sikes, lay-
ing 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 turned 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 im-
provements on the truth, as to the Dodger appeared
most advisable under the circumstances.
144 OLIVER TWIST.
" I'm afraid," said the Jew, " that he may say some-
thing 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 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
There was a long pause. Every member of the re-
spectable coterie appeared i^lunged 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,
Again the Jew nodded.
The prudence of this line of action, indeed, was
obvious; but, unfortunately, there was one very strong
objection to its being adopted. This was, that the
Dodger, and Charley Bates, and Fagin, and Mr. Wil-
OLIVER TWIST. 145
liam 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 sud-
den entrance of the two young ladies whom Oliver had
seen on a former occasion, caused the conversation to
" 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
It is due to the young lady to say that she did not pos-
itively affirm that she would not, but that she merely
expressed an emphatic and earnest desire to be "blessed"
if she would ; a polite and dehcate 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
The Jew's countenance fell. He turned from this
young lady, who was gayly, not to say gorgeously attired,
in a red gown, green boots, and yellow curl-papers, to the
" Nancy, my dear," said the Jew in a soothing man-
ner, " what do you say ? "
" That it won't do ! so it's no use a-trying it on, Fagin,"
" What do you mean by that ? " said Mr. Sikes, look-
ing up in a surly manner.
VOL. I. 10
146 OLIVER TWIST.
" 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.
'* 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 very recently removed into
the neighborhood of Field-lane from the remote but gen-
teel suburb of Ratcliffe, she was not under the same
apprehension of being recognized by any of her numer-
Accordingly, with a clean white apron tied over her
gown, and her curl-papers tucked up under a straw bon-
net, — both articles of dress being provided from the
Jew's inexhaustible stock, — Miss Nancy prepared to
issue forth on her errand.
" Stop a minute, my dear," said the Jew, producing a
little covered basket. " Carry that in one hand. It
looks more respectable, my dear."
" Give her a door-key to carry in her t'other one,
Fagin," said Sikes ; " it looks real and genivine like."
" Yes, yes, my dear, so it does," said the Jew, hanging
a large street-door key on the forefinger of the young
lady's right hand. " There ; very good ! Very good
indeed, my dear ! " said the Jew, rubbing his hands.
" Oh, my brother ! My poor, dear, sweet, innocent
OLIVER TWIST. 147
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, gentle-
men ; do, gentlemen, if you please, gentlemen ! "
Having uttered these words in a most lamentable and
heart-broken tone : to the immeasurable delight of her
hearers : Miss Nancy paused, winked to the company,
nodded smilingly round, and disappeared.
" Ah ! she's a clever girl, my dears," said the Jew,
turning round to his young friends, and shaking his head
gravely, as if in mute admonition to them to follow the
bright example they had just beheld.
" She's an honor 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, notwith-
standing 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 crim-
inal, 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
148 OLIVER TWIST.
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 bewail-
ing the loss of the flute, which had been confiscated for
the use of the county ; so Nancy passed on to the next
cell, and knocked there.
" Well ! " cried a faint and feeble voice.
" Is there a little boy here ? " inquired Nancy, with a
" 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 liveli-
hood. In the next cell, was another man, who was going
to the same prison for hawking tin saucepans without a
license ; thereby doing something for his living, in defiance
of the Stamp-ofiice.
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 waist-
coat ; and with the most piteous wailings and lamenta-
tions, rendered more piteous by a prompt and efficient
use of the street-door key and the little basket, demanded
her own dear brother.
" / haven't got him, my dear," said the old man.
" Where is he ? " screamed Nancy, in a distracted man-
" Why, the gentleman's got him," replied the officer.
" What gentleman ? Oh, gracious heavens ! what gen-
tleman ? " exclaimed Nancy.
In reply to this incoherent questioning, the old man
OLIVER TWIST. 149
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 com-
mitted by another boy, not in custody ; and that the pros-
ecutor 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 Penton-
ville, he having heard that word mentioned in the direc-
tions to the coachman.
In a dreadful state of doubt and uncertainty, the ago-
nized young woman staggered to the gate, and then, ex-
changing 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 de-
parted : 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 every-
thing ! Stay, stay," added the Jew, unlocking a drawer
with a shaking hand ; " there's money, my dears. I
shall shut up this shop to-night. You'll know where to
find me ! Don't stop here a minute. Not an instant,
my dears ! "
With these words, he pushed them from the room;
and carefully double-locking and barring the door behind
them, drew from its place of concealment the box which
he had unintentionally disclosed to Oliver. Then, he
150 OLIVER TWIST.
hastily proceeded to dispose the watches and jewelry
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
" What now ? " cried the Jew impatiently.
" Is he to be kidnapped to the other ken, Nancy says ? "
inquired 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 hur-
ried down-stairs after his companions.
" He has not peached so far," said the Jew as he pur-
sued his occupation. " If he means to blab us among his
new friends, we may stop his mouth yet."
OLIVER TWIST. 151
COMPEISrS'G FURTHER PARTICULARS OF OLIVER'S STAY
AT MR. BROWNLOVS, WITH THE REMARKABLE PRE-
DICTION WHICH ONE MR. GRIMWIG UTTERED CON-
CERNING HIM, WHEN HE WENT OUT ON AN ERRAND.
Oliver soon recovering from the fainting-fit into
which Mr. Brownlow's abrupt exclamation had thrown
him, the subject of the picture was carefully avoided,
both by the old gentleman and Mrs. Bedwin, in the
conversation that ensued : which indeed bore no refer-
ence 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 pic-
ture 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. Brown-
low said, that as it seemed to worry you, perhaps it
might prevent your getting well, you know," rejoined
the old lady.
152 OLIVER TWIST.
" 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-humoredly ;
" you get well 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 could obtain about
the picture at that time. As the old lady had been so
kind to him in his illness, he endeavored to think no
more of the subject just then ; so he listened at-
tentively, 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 ex-
patiated, 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 teaph Oliver cribbage : which he learnt as
quickly as she could teach : and at which game they
played, with great interest and gravity, until it was
time for the invalid to have some warm wine and
water, with a slice of dry toast, and then to go coseyly
They were happy days, those of Oliver's recovery.
Everything was so quiet, and neat, and orderly ; every-
body so kind and gentle ; that after the noise and tur-
bulence in the midst of which he had always lived, it
seemed like Heaven itself. He was no sooner strong
OLIVER TWIST. 153
enough to put his clothes on, properly, than Mr. Brown-
low caused a complete new suit, and a new cap, and a
new pair of shoes, to be provided for him. As Oliver
was told that he might do what he liked with the old
clothes, he gave them to a servant who had been very-
kind to him, and asked her to sell them to a Jew, and
keep the money for herself. This she very readily did ;
and, as Oliver looked out of the parlor window, and saw
the Jew roll them up in his bag and walk away, he felt
quite dehghted 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 be-
One evening, about a week after the affair of the pic-
ture, 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. Bed-
win. " Dear heart alive ! If we had known he would
have asked for you, we would have put you a clean col-
lar 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 differ-
ence in him for the better.
J.54 OLIVER TWIST.
Thus encouraged, Oliver tapped at the study door.
On Mr. Brownlow calling to him to come in, he found
himself in a little back room, quite full of books : with a
window, looking into some pleasant little gardens. There
was a table drawn up before the window, at which Mr.
Brownlow was seated reading. When he saw Oliver,
he pushed the book away from him, and told him to
come near the table, and sit down. Oliver complied ;
marvelling where the people could be found to read
such a great number of books as seemed to be written
to make the world wiser. Which is still a marvel to
more experienced people than Oliver Twist, every day
of their lives.
" There are a good many books, are there not, my
boy ? " said Mr. Brownlow : observing the curiosity with
which Oliver surveyed the shelves that reached from the
floor to the ceiling.
'' A great number, sir," replied Oliver. " I never saw
" 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 hke to grow up a clever man, and write
" I think I would rather read them, sir," replied OHver.
OLIVER TWIST. 155
" 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 bookseller ; 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 honest trade to be learnt, or
brick-making to turn to."
" Thank you, sir," said Oliver. At the earnest man-
ner 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
maiyier, 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 re-
serve ; because I am sure you are as well able to under-
stand 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."
156 OLIVER TWIST.
" 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 endeavored to benefit; but I
feel strongly disposed to trust you, nevertheless ; and I
am more interested in your behalf than I can well ac-
count 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, forever, on my best affections. Deep af-
fliction 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, with-
out a friend in the world ; all the inquiries I have been
able to make, confirm the statement. Let me hear your
story ; where you came 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
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 ser-
vant, running up-stairs, announced Mr. Grimwig.
" Is he coming up ? " inquired Mr. Brownlow.
OLIVER TWIST. 157
" Yes, sir," replied the servant. " He asked if there
were any muflans 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
" Shall I go down-stairs, sir ? " inquired Oliver.
" No," replied Mr. Brownlow, " I would rather you
At this moment, there walked into the room : supporting
himself by a thick stick : a stout old gentleman, rather
lame in one leg, who was dressed in a blue coat, striped
waistcoat, nankeen breeches and gaiters, and a broad-
brimmed white hat, with the sides turned up with green.
A very small-plaited shirt-frill stuck out from his waist-
coat ; 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 Avere 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,
" Look here ! do you see this ! Isn't it a most won-
derful 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,
158 OLIVER TWIST.
and I know orange-peel will be my death at last. It
will, sir ; orange-peel will be my death, or I'll be eon-
tent 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 so disposed ; Mr. Grimwig's head
was such a particularly large one, that the most sanguine
man alive could hardly entertain a hope of being able to
get through it at a sitting — to put entirely out of the
question, a very thick coating of powder.
" I'll eat my head, sir," repeated Mr. Grimwig, striking
his stick upon the ground. " Hallo ; what's that ! " look-
ing at Oliver, and retreating a pace or two.
" This is young Oliver Twist, whom we were speaking
about," said Mr. Brownlow.
" 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 " — con-
tinued 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
OLIVER TWIST. 159
more or less orange-peel on the pavement in our street ;
and I hiow 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 man-trap ! ' So he is. If
he is not " Here the irascible old gentleman gave
a great knock on the ground with his stick ; which was
always understood, by his friends, to imply the customary
offer, whenever it was not expressed in words. Then, still
keeping his stick in his hand, he sat down ; and, opening
a double eye-glass, which he wore attached to a broad
black ribbon, took a view of Oliver : who, seeing that he
was the object of inspection, colored, and bowed again.
" That's the boy, is it ? " said Mr. Grimwig, at length.
" That is the boy," replied Mr. Brownlow.
" How are you, boy ? " said Mr. Grimwig.
"A great deal better, thank you, sir," replied Oliver.
Mr. Brownlow, seeming to apprehend that his singular
friend was about to say something disagreeable, asked
Oliver to step down-stairs and tell Mrs. Bedwin they
were ready for tea ; which, as he did not half like the
visitor's manner, he was very happy to do.
" He is a nice-looking boy, is he not ? " inquired Mr.
" 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
" And which is Oliver ? "
" Mealy. I know a friend who has a beef-faced boy ;
160 OLIVER TWIST.
a fine boy, they call liim ; 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 appe-
tite of a wolf. I know him ! The wretch ! "
" Come," said Mr. Brownlow, " these are not the char-
acteristics of young Oliver Twist ; so he needn't excite
^'They are not," replied Mr. Grimwig. "He may
Here, Mr. Brownlow coughed impatiently ; which ap-
peared to afford Mr. Grimwig the most exquisite delight.
" He may have worse, I say," repeated Mr. Grimwig.
" Where does he come from ? Who is he ? What is
he ? He has had a fever. What of that ? Fevers are
not peculiar to good people ; are they ? Bad people
have fevers 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 contra-
diction : 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 an-
swer ; 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 ma-
OLIVER TWIST. 161
liciouslj. 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 con-
tent to — and so forth.
All this, Mr. Brownlow, although himself somewhat
of an impetuous gentleman : knowing his friend's pecu-
Harities : bore with great good-humor ; as Mr. Grimwig,
at tea, was graciously pleased to express his entire ap-
proval 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
" And when are you going to hear a full, true, and
particular account of the life and adventures of Oliver
Twist ? " asked Grimwig of Mr. Brownlow, at the con-
clusion of the meal : looking sideways at Oliver, as he
resumed the subject.
" To-morrow morning," replied Mr. Brownlow. " I
would rather he was alone with me at the time. Come
up to me to-morrow morning at ten o'clock, my dear."
" Yes, sir," replied Oliver. He answered with some
hesitation, because he was confused by Mr. Grimwig's
looking so hard at him.
" ril tell you what," whispered that gentleman to Mr.
Brownlow ; " he won't come up to you to-morrow morn-
ing. I saw him hesitate. He is deceiving you, my
" 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 hfe ! " said
Mr. Brownlow, knocking the table.
VOL. I. 11
162 OLIVER TWIST.
" And I for his falsehood with my head ! " rejoined
Mr. Grimwig, knocking the table also.
" We shall see," said Mr. Brownlow, checking his ris-
" We will," replied Mr. Grimwig, with a provoking
smile ; " we will."
As fate would have it, Mrs. Bed win chanced to bring
in, at this moment, a small parcel of books : which Mr.
Brownlow had that morning purchased of the identical
bookstall-keeper, who has abeady figured in this his-
tory ; having laid them on the table, she prepared to
leave the room.
" Stop the boy, INIi's. Bedwin ! " said Mr. Brownlow ;
" there is something to go back."
" He has gone, sir," replied Mrs. Bedwin.
" Call after him," said JNIr. Brownlow ; " it's particular.
He is a poor man, and they are not paid for. There
are some books to be taken back, too."
The street-door was opened. Oliver ran one way ;
and the girl ran another ; and Mrs. Bedwin stood on
the step and screamed for the boy ; but there was no
boy in sight. Oliver and the girl returned, in a
breathless state, to report that there were no tidings
" Dear me, I am very sorry for that," exclaimed
Mr. Brownlow ; " I particularly wished those books to
be returned to-night."
" Send Oliver with them," said Mr. Grimwig, with an
ironical smile ; " he will be sure to deliver them safely,
" 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 OHver
OLIVER TWIST. 163
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
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 stead-
ily at Grimwig ; you are to say that you have brought
those books back ; and that you have come to pay the
four pound ten I owe him. This is a five-pound note,
so you will have to bring me back ten shillings change."
" I won't be ten minutes, sir," replied Oliver, eagerly.
Having buttoned up the bank-note in his jacket-pocket,
and placed the books carefully under his arm, he made
a respectful bow, and left the room. Mrs. Bedwin fol-
lowed 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 injunc-
tions 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 gayly round, and nodded
before he turned the corner. The old lady smilingly re-
turned his salutation, and, closing the door, went back to
her own room.
164 OLIVER TWIST.
" 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. Grim-
wig's breast, at the moment ; and it was rendered stronger
by his friend's confident smile.
" No," he said, smiting the table with his fist, " I do
not. The boy has a new suit of clothes on his back ; a
set of valuable books under his arm ; and a five-pound
note in his pocket. He'll join his old friends the thieves,
and laugh at you. If ever that boy returns to this house,
sir, I'll eat my head."
With these words, he drew his chair closer to the table ;
and there the two friends sat, in silent expectation, with
the watch between them.
It is worthy of remark : as illustrating the importance
we attach to our own judgments, and the pride with
which we put forth our most rash and hasty conclusions :
that, although Mr. Grimwig was not by any means a
bad-hearted man ; and though he would have been un-
feignedly 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
It grew so dark, that the figures on the dial-plate
were scarcely discernible; but there the two old gentle-
men continued to sit, in silence : with the watch between
OLIVER TWIST. 165
SHOWING HOW VERY FOND OF OLIVER TWIST, THE
3IERRT OLD JEW AND MISS NANCY WERE.
In the obscure parlor of a low public-house, situate
in the filthiest part of Little Saffron-hill ; a dark and
gloomy den, where a flaring gas-light burnt all day in
the winter-time : 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 for one instant to recognize 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 warmint ! keep quiet ! " said Mr.
Sikes, suddenly breaking silence. Whether his medi-
tations 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 de-
rivable from kicking an unoffending animal to allay
them, is matter for argument and consideration. What-
166 OLIVER TWIST.
ever was the cause, the effect was a kick and a curse
bestowed upon the dog simuUaneously.
Dogs are not generally apt to revenge injuries inflicted
upon them by their masters ; but Mr. Sikes's dog, having
faults of temper in common with his owner : and labor-
ing, 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 escap-
ing the pewter measure which Mr. Sikes levelled at his
" 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 !
The dog no doubt heard ; because Mr. Sikes spoke in
the very harshest key of a very harsh voice ; but, ap-
pearing 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
OLIVER TWIST. 167
the old adage. jVIr. Sikes, being disappointed of the
dog's participation, at once transferred his share in the
quarrel to the new-comer.
" 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 — for the Jew was the new-comer.
" 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
" 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 v/ith 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
'• Humph," said Sikes, as if he thought the interest
168 OLIVER TWIST.
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 "
" 'Stow that gammon," interposed the robber, impa-
tiently. " 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 sov-
ereigns 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, sus-
piciously. " Don't put on an injured look at the ques-
tion ; 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
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
OLIVER TWIST. 169
torn. Possibly, if lie had observed the brief interchange
of signals, he might have thought that it boded no good
" Is anybody here, Barney ? " inquired Fagin ; speak-
ing : now that Sikes was looking on : without raising his
eyes from the ground.
" Dot a shoul," replied Barney ; whose words : whether
they came from the heart or not : made their way through
" 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
bhnd, if I don't honor that 'ere girl, for her native tal-
" She's bid havid a plate of boiled beef id the bar,"
" 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,
170 OLIVER TWIST.
warned Miss Nancy that she was disposed to be too com-
municative, 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 conversa-
tion to other matters. In about ten minutes' time, Mr.
Fagin was seized with a fit of coughing ; upon which
Nancy pulled her shawl over her shoulders, and declared
it was time to go. Mr. Sikes, finding that he was walk-
ing a short part of her way himself, expressed his inten-
tion 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 gentle-
man, was on his way to the book-stall. When he got
into Clerkenwell, he accidentally turned down a by-
street, which was not exactly in his way ; but not dis-
covering 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 con-
tented 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
OLIVER TWIST. 171
very loud, " Oh, my dear brother ! " And he had hardly
looked up to see what the matter was, when he was
stopped by having a pair of arms thrown tight round his
" 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 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 sich distress on your account !
Come home, dear, come. Oh, I've found him. Thank
gracious goodness heavins, I've found him ! " With
these incoherent exclamations, the young woman burst
into another fit of crying, and got so dreadfully hysteri-
cal, 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
" 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
172 OLIVER TWIST.
" Young wretch ! " said one woman.
" Go home, do, you httle brute," said the other.
" I'm not," rephed Oliver, gi-eatly alarmed. " I don't
know her. I haven't any sister, or father and mother
either. I'm an orphan ; I live at Pentonville."
" Oh, only hear him, how he braves it out ! " cried the
" Why, it's Nancy ! " exclaimed Oliver ; who now saw
her face for the first time ; and started back, in irrepres-
" You see he knows me ! " cried Nancy, appealing to
the bystanders. " He can't help himself. Make him
come home, there's good people, or he'll kill his dear
mother and father, and break my heart ! "
" What the devil's this ? " 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
" Help ! " repeated the man. " Yes ; I'll help you,
you young rascal ! What books are these ? You've
been a-stealing '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-win-
dow. " 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, admin-
OLIVER TWIST. 173
istering 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 ; and
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 neighborhood ; no help was near ; resist-
ance was useless. In another moment, he was dragged
into a labyrinth of dark narrow courts : and forced along
them, at a pace which rendered the few cries he dared
to give utterance to, wholly 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 wait-
ing 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, perse-
veringly, in the dark parlor : with the watch between
174 OLIVER TWIST.
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
" 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 un-
occupied hand. '' Here, Bull's-eye ! "
The dog looked up and growled.
" See here, boy ! " said Sikes, putting his other hand
to OHver's throat ; " if he speaks ever so soft a word,
hold him ! D'ye mind ? "
The dog growled again ; and Hcking his lips, eyed
Oliver as if he were anxious to attach himself to his
windpipe without delay.
OLIVER TWIST. 175
" 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, jou know what
you've got to expect, master, so call away as quick as
you like ; the dog will soon stop that game. Get on,
young 'un ! "
Bull's-eye wagged his tail in acknowledgment 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 con-
ductors 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 Bartle-
my time when I w^as 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 out-
side made the thundering old jail so silent, that I could
almost have beat my head out against the iron plates of
176 OLIVER TWIST.
" Poor fellows ! " said Nancy, who still had her face
turned towards the quarter in which the bell had sounded.
" Oh, Bill, such fine young chaps as them ! "
"Yes; that's all you women think of," answered
Sikes. " Fine young chaps ! Well, they're as good as
dead, so it don't much matter."
With this consolation, Mr. Sikes appeared to repress
a rising tendency to jealousy; and, clasping Ohver's
wrist more firmly, told him to step out again.
" Wait a minute ! " said the girl : " I wouldn't hurry
by, if it was you that was coming out to be hung, the
next time eight o'clock struck, Bill. I'd walk round and
round the place till I dropped, if the snow was on the
ground, and I hadn't a shawl to cover me."
" And what good would that do ? " inquired the un-
sentimental 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, will you, 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
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 posi-
tion 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
OLIVER TWIST. 177
and apparently untenanted. The house was in a ruinous
condition ; and on the door was nailed a board, intimat-
ing that it was to let : which looked as if it had hung
there for many years.
" All right," cried Sikes, glancing cautiously about.
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 w^indow w^ere gently raised, was
heard ; and soon afterwards the door softly opened. Mr.
Sikes then seized the ten-ified boy by the collar with
very little ceremony ; and all three were quickly inside
The passage was perfectly dark. They waited, while
the person who had let them in, chained and barred the
" Anybody here ? " inquired Sikes.
" No," replied a voice, which Oliver thought he had
" Is the old 'un here ? " asked the robber.
" Yes," replied the voice ; " and precious down in the
moutli he has been. Won't he be glad to see you ? Oh,
The style of this reply, as well as the voice which de-
livered it, seemed familiar to Oliver's ears : but it was
impossible to distinguish even the form of the sj)eaker in
" 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
VOL. I. 12
178 OLIVER TWIST.
Dawkins, otherwise the artful Dodger, appeared. He
bore in his right hand a tallow-candle stuck in the end
of a cleft stick.
The young gentleman did not stop to bestow any other
mark of recognition upon Oliver than a humorous grin ;
but, turning away, beckoned the visitors to follow him
down a flight of stairs. They crossed an empty kitchen ;
and, opening the door of a low earthy-smelling room,
which seemed to have been built in a small back-yard,
were received with a shout of laughter.
" Oh, my wig, my wig ! " cried Master Charles Bates,
from whose lungs the laughter had proceeded ; " here
he is ! oh, cry, here he is ! Oh, Fagin, look at him ;
Fagin, do look at him ! I can't bear it ; it is such a
jolly game, I can't bear it. Hold me, somebody, while
I laugh it out."
"With this irrepressible ebullition of mirth, Master
Bates laid himself flat on the floor : and kicked convul-
sively 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 Jcav, taking off his night-
cap, made a great number of low bow^s to the bewildered
boy. The Artful, meantime, who was of a rather satur-
nine disposition, and seldom gave way to merriment when
it interfered with business, rifled Oliver's pockets with
" 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
OLIVER TWIST. 179
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
At this, Master Bates roared again ; so loud, that Fa-
gin himself relaxed : and even the Dodger smiled ; but
as the Ai'tful drew forth the five-pound note at that in-
stant, it is doubtful whether the sally or the discovery
awakened his merriment.
" Hallo ! what's that ? " inquired Sikes, stepping forward
as the Jew seized the note. " That's mine, Fagin."
" No, no, my dear," said the Jew. " Mine, Bill, mine.
You shall have the books."
" If that a'n'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.
180 OLIVER TWIST.
" That's for our share of the trouble," said Sikes :
" and not half enough, neither. You may keep the
books, if you're fond of reading. If you a'n't, sell
" They're very pretty," said Charley Bates : who with
sundry grimaces had been affecting to read one of the
volumes in question; "beautiful writing, isn't it, Oliver?"
At sight of the dismayed look with which Oliver regarded
his tormentors, Master Bates, who was blessed with a
lively sense of the ludicrous, fell into another ecstasy,
more boisterous than the first.
" They belong to the old gentleman," said Oliver,
wringing his hands ; " to the good, kind, old gentleman
who took me into his house, and had me nursed, when
I was near dying of the fever. Oh, pray send them
back ; send him back the books and money. Keep me
here all my life long ; but pray, pray send them back.
He'll think I stole them ; the old lady : all of them who
were so kind to me : will think I stole them. Oh, do
have mercy upon me, and send them back ! "
With these words, which were uttered with all the
energy of passionate grief, Oliver fell upon his knees at
the Jew's feet ; and beat his hands together, in perfect
" 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.
OLIVER TWIST. 181
They're soft-hearted psalm-singers, or they wouldn't have
taken him in at all ; and they'll ask no questions after
him, for fear they should be obliged to prosecute, and so
get him lagged. He's safe enough."
Oliver had looked from one to the other, while these
words were being spoken, as if he were bewildered,
and could scarcely understand what passed ; but when
Bill Sikes concluded, he jumped suddenly to his feet,
and tore wildly from the room : uttering shrieks for
help, which made the bare old house echo to the roof.
" Keep back the dog, Bill ! " 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 disen-
gage 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 fiercely.
''I'll soon do that, if you don't keep off."
The housebreaker flung the girl from him to the far-
ther 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, sav-
" 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
182 OLIVER TWIST.
" No, I won't do that, neither," replied Nancy, speak-
ing 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 hu-
manity to which Nancy belonged, to feel tolerably cer-
tain 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
" So you wanted to get away, my dear, did you ? "
said the Jew, taking up a jagged and knotted club which
lay in a corner of the fireplace ; " eh ? "
Oliver made no 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 coals 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 colorless from the
passion of rage into which she had gradually worked
OLIVER TWIST. 183
" Why, Nancy ! " said the Jew. in a soothing tone ;
after a pause, during which he and Mr. Sikes had stared
at one another in a disconcerted manner ; you — you're
more clever than ever to-night. Ha ! ha ! my dear, you
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 im-
pulses of recklessness 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 redaction 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 dis-
charged, 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 com-
mon a disorder as measles ; '' what do you mean by it ?
Burn my body ! Do you know who you are, and what
you are ? "
184 OLIVER TWIST.
" Oh, yes, I know all about it," replied the girl, laugh-
ing hysterically ; and shaking her head from side to side,
with a poor assumption of indifference.
" Well, then, keep quiet," rejoined Sikes, with a growl
like that he was accustomed to use when addressing his
dog, " or I'll quiet you for a good long time to come."
The girl laughed again : even less composedly than
before; and, darting a hasty look at Sikes, turned her
face aside, and bit her lip till the blood came.
" You're a nice one," added Sikes, as he surveyed her
with a contemptuous air, " to take up the humane and
gen — teel side ! A pretty subject for the child, as you
call him, to make a friend of ! "
" God Almighty help me, I am ! " cried the girl pas-
sionately ; " and I wish I had been struck dead in the
street, or had changed places with them we passed so
near to-night, before I had lent a hand in bringing him
here. He's a thief, a liar, a devil ; all that's bad from
this night forth. Isn't that enough for the old wretch
without blows ? "
" Come, come, Sikes," said the Jew, appealing to him
in a remonstratory tone, and motioning towards the boys,
who were eagerly attentive to all that passed ; " 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 pac-
ification ; " and if you have, it's your living ! "
OLIVER TTVIST. 185
"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 '11 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 more ; but tearing her hair and
dress in a 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 con-
sider 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 to-
morrow, 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
186 OLIVER TWIST.
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. Brown-
low's ; and the accidental display of which, to Fagin, by
the Jew who purchased them, had been the very first
clue received, of his whereabout.
" Pull off the smart ones," said Charley, " and I'll
give 'em to Fagin to take care of. "What fun it is ! "
Poor Oliver unwillingly complied. Master Bates,
rolling up the 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.
OLR-ER TWIST. 187
Oliver's destiny coxtixuixg rxpROPiTiors, brings
A GREAT MAX TO LOXDOX TO IXJURE HIS REPU-
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, well-cured bacon. The hero sinks
upon his straw bed, weighed down by fetters and mis-
fortunes ; and, in the next scene, his faithful but uncon-
scious 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 pre-
serve 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 gray-headed senes-
chal sings a funny chorus with a funnier body of vassals,
w^ho are free of all sorts of places from church-vaults to
palaces, and roam about in company, carolling perpet-
Such changes appear absurd ; but they are not so un-
natural as they would seem at first sight. The transitions
in real life from well-spread boards to death-beds, and
168 OLIVER TWIST.
from mourning weeds to holiday garments, are not a
whit less startling ; only, there, we are busy actors, in-
stead of jDassive lookers-on ; which makes a vast differ-
ence. 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 spec-
tators, are at once condemned as outrageous and prepos-
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 chap-
ter : this brief introduction to the present one may per-
haps 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 expe-
dition, on any account.
Mr. Bumble emerged at early morning from the work-
house gate ; and walked, with portly carriage and com-
manding 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 ; and 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 ab-
straction 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.
OLIVER TWIST. 189
Mr. Bumble stopped not to converse with the small
shop-keepers and others who spoke to him, deferentially
as he passed along. He merely returned their saluta-
tions with a wave of his hand ; and relaxed not in his
dignified pace, until he reached the farm where IMrs.
Mann tended the infant paupers with parochial care.
" Drat that beadle ! " said Mrs. Mann, hearing the
well-known shaking at the garden-gate. " If it isn't him
at this time in the morning ! Lauk, Mr. Bumble, only
think of its being you ! Well, dear me, it is a pleas-
ure, this is ! Come into the parlor, 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 yoii, sir," replied Mrs.
Mann, with many smiles ; " and hoping you find your-
self 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 cho-
russed the rejoinder with great propriety, if they had
"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
190 OLIVER TWIST.
meant, raised lier hands with a look of sympathy ; and
" Ah ! You may well sigh, Mrs. Mann ! " said the
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
" Mrs. Mann, I am a-going to London."
" Lauk, Mr. Bumble ! " cried Mrs. Mann, starting
" 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 depose to the
matter before the quarter-sessions at Clerkinwell. And
I very much question," added Mr. Bumble, drawing him-
self up, " whether the Clerkinwell Sessions will not find
themselves in the wrong box before they have done
" Oh ! you mustn't be too hard upon them, sir," said
Mrs. Mann, coaxingly.
"The Clerkinwell Sessions have brought it upon them-
selves, ma'am," replied Mr. Bumble ; " and if the Clerkin-
well Sessions find that they come otf rather worse than
they expected, the Clerkinwell Sessions have only them-
selves to thank."
There was so much determination and depth of pur-
pose about the menacing manner in which Mr. Bumble
delivered himself of these words, that Mrs. Mann ap-
peared quite awed by them. At length, she said :
" You're going by coach, sir ? I thought it was al-
ways usual to send them paupers in carts."
OLR'ER TWIST. 191
" 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 jMr. 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 i?,
if we can throw 'em upon another parish, which I think
we shall be able to do, if they don't die upon the road to
spite us. Ha ! ha ! ha ! "
When Mr. Bumble had laughed a little while, his
eyes again encountered the cocked-hat ; and he became
" We are forgetting business, ma'am," said the beadle ;
" here is your porochial stipend for the month."
Mr. Bumble produced some silver money roUed 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 in-
fants ; " but it's formal enough, I dare say. Thank you,
Mr. Bumble, sir, I am very much obliged to you, I'm
Mr. Bumble nodded, blandly, in acknowledgment of
Mrs. Mann's courtesy ; and inquired how the children
" 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
" Isn't that boy no better ? " inquired Mr. Bumble.
Mrs. Mann shook her head.
" He's a ill-conditioned, wicious, bad-disposed poro-
192 OLIVER TWIST.
chial child, that," said Mr. Bumble, angrily. " Where
is lie ? "
" 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 child was pale and thin ; his cheeks were sunken ;
and his eyes large and bright. The scanty parish-dress :
the livery of his misery : hung loosely on his feeble body ;
and his young limbs had wasted away, like those of an
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 liisi eyes, and encountered
those of Mr. Bumble.
" What's the matter with you, porochial Dick ? " in-
quired 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 humor.
" You want for nothing, I'm sure."
" I should like " — faltered the child.
" Hey-day!" 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
OLIVER TWIST. 193
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 asp(!ct
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 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 fervor,
" 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 out-dacious OUver has demogalized 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, impe-
riously. " This must be stated to the board, Mrs. Mann."
" I hope the gentlemen w411 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."
VOL. I. 13
194 OLIVER TWIST.
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 ex-
changed his cocked-hat for a round one, and encased his
person in a blue great-coat with a cape to it : took his
place on the outside of the coach, accompanied by the
criminals whose settlement was disputed ; with whom, in
due course of time, he arrived in London. He expe-
rienced no other crosses, on the way, than those which
originated in the perverse behavior 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 great-coat on.
Having disposed of these evil-minded persons for the
night, Mr. Bumble sat himself down in the house at
which the coach stopped : and took a temperate dinner
of steaks, oyster-sauce, and porter. Putting a glass of
hot gin-and-water on the chimney-piece, he drew his
chair to the fire ; and, with sundry moral reflections on
the too-prevalent sin of discontent and complaining, com-
posed himself to read the paper.
The very first paragraph upon which Mr. Bumble's
eyes rested, was the following advertisement.
" FIVE GUINEAS REWARD.
"Whereas a young boy, named Oliver Twist, ab-
sconded, 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
OLIVER TWIST. 195
his previous history, in which the advertiser is, for many
reasons, warmly interested."
And then followed a full description of Oliver's dress,
person, appearance, and disappearance : with the name
and address of Mr. Brownlow at full length.
Mr. Bumble opened his eyes ; read the advertisement,
slowly and carefully, three several times ; and in some-
thing more than five minutes was on his way to Penton-
ville : 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 Ohver's name, in expla-
nation of his errand, than Mrs. Bedwin, who had been
listening at the parlor-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
Having said this, the worthy old lady hurried back
into the parlor again ; and seating herself on a sofa,
burst into tears. The girl, who was not quite so sus-
ceptible, had run up-stairs meanwhile ; and now returned
with a request that Mr. Bumble would follow her imme-
diately : which he did.
He was shown into the little back study, where sat
Mr. Brownlow and his friend Mr. Grimwig, with decan-
ters and glasses before them. The latter gentleman at
once burst into the exclamation :
196 OLIVER TWIST.
" A beadle ! A parish beadle, or I'll eat my head."
" Pray don't interrupt just now," said Mr. Brownlow.
" Take a seat, will you ? "
Mr. Bumble sat himself down : quite confounded by
the oddity of Mr. Grimwig's manner. Mr. Brownlow
moved the lamp, so as to obtain an uninterrupted view
of the Beadle's countenance ; and said, with a little
" 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.
" I am a porochial beadle, gentlemen," rejoined Mr.
" 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 any-
thing 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 commu-
OLIVER TWIST. 197
nicate what he knew regarding Oliver, in as few words
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, com-
menced his story.
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 ter-
minated his brief career in the place of his birth, by
making a sanguinary and cowardly attack on an unof-
fending 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 ob-
" I fear it is all too true," said the old gentleman sor-
rowfully, 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 favorable to
It is not at all improbable, that if Mr. Bumble had
been possessed of this information at an earlier period
of the interview, he might have imparted a very dif-
ferent coloring 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
198 OLIVER TWIST.
tale, that even Mr. Grimwig forbore to vex him fur-
At length he stopped, and rang the bell violently.
" Mrs. Bedwin," said Mr. Brownlow, when the house-
keeper appeared ; " that boy, Oliver, is an impostor."
" It can't be, sir. It cannot be," said the old lady
" I tell you he is," retorted the old gentleman. " What
do you mean by can't be ? We have just heard a full
account of him from his birth ; and he has been a
thorough-paced little villain all his life."
" I never will believe it, sir," replied the old lady
firmly. *' Never ! "
" You old women never believe anything but quack-
doctors, and lying story-books," growled Mr. Grimwig.
" I knew it all along. Why didn't you take my advice
in the beginning ; you would, if he hadn't had a fever,
I suppose, eh ? He was interesting, wasn't he ? Inter-
esting ! Bah ! " And Mr. Grimwig poked the fire with
" 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 bach-
elor. 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,
OLIVER TWIST. 199
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
200 OLIVER TWIST.
now 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 OHver 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 endeavoring 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 phi-
lanthropy, he had succored under parallel circumstances,
but who, proving unworthy of liis confidence, and evinc-
ing a desire to communicate with the police, had unfor-
tunately 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 behavior of the
young person in question, had rendered it necessary
that he should become the victim of certain evidence
OLIVER TWIST. 201
for the crown : which, if it were not precisely true, was
indispensably necessary for the safety of him (Mr. Fa-
gin) and a few select friends. Mr. Fagin concluded by
drawing a rather disagreeable picture of the discomforts
of hanging ; and, with great friendliness and politeness
of manner, expressed his anxious hopes that he might
never be obliged to submit Oliver Twist to that un-
Little OHver'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, per-
sons, 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 fore-
gone 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 apjDlied
himself to business, he saw they would be very good
friends yet. Then, taking his hat ; and covering him-
self with an old patched great-coat ; 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
202 OLIVER TWIST.
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 unlocked ; and he was at liberty to wander
about the house.
It was a very dirty place. The rooms up-stairs had
great high wooden chimney-pieces and large doors, with
panelled walls and cornices to the ceilings : which, al-
though they were black with neglect and dust, were
ornamented in various ways ; from all of which 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 hving people as he could ; and would remain there,
li-stening and counting the hours, until the Jew or the
In all the rooms, the mouldering shutters were fast
closed : and 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 wmdow,
OLIVER TWIST. 203
with rusty bars outside, which had no shutter ; and out
of this, Oliver often gazed with a melancholy face for
hours together ; but nothing was to be descried from it
but a confused and crowded mass of house-tops, black-
ened chimneys, and gable-ends. Sometimes, indeed, a
ragged grizzly head might be seen, peering over the
parapet-wall of a distant house : but it was quickly
withdrawn again ; and as the window of Oliver's observ-
atory was nailed down, and dimmed with the rain and
smoke of years, it was as much as he could do to make
out the forms of the different objects beyond, without
making any attempt to be seen or heard, — which he had
as much chance of being, as if he had lived inside the
ball of St. Paul's Cathedral.
One afternoon: the Dodger and Master Bates being
engaged out that evening : the first-named young gentle-
man took it into his head to evince some anxiety re-
garding 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, straight-
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 desig-
nated as "japanning his trotter-cases." Which phrase,
rendered into plain English, signifieth, cleaning his
204 OLIVER TWIST,
Whether it was the sense of freedom and indepen-
dence 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 tinctui-ed,
for the nonce, with a spice of romance and enthusiasm,
foreign to his general nature. He looked down on
Oliver, with a thoughtful countenance, for a brief space ;
and then, raising his head, and heaving a gentle sigh,
said, half in abstraction, and half to Master Bates :
" What a pity it is he isn't a prig ! "
" Ah ! " said Master Charles Bates ; " he don't know
what's good for him."
The Dodger sighed again, and resumed his pipe :
as did Charley Bates. They both smoked, for some
seconds, in silence.
" I suppose you don't even know what a prig is ? " said
the Dodger mournfully.
" I think I know that," replied Oliver, looking up.
It's a th — ; you're one, are you not ? " inquired Oliver,
" I am," replied the Dodger. " I'd scorn to be any-
think 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
OLIVER TWIST. 205
all are, down to the dog. And he's the downiest one of
the lot ! "
" And the least given to peaching," added Charley-
" He wouldn't so much as bark in a witness-box, for
fear of committing himself; no, not if jou 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 jQerce at any strange
cove that laughs or sings when he's in company ! " pur-
sued the Dodger. " Won't he growl at all, when he
hears a fiddle playing ! And don't he hate other dogs
as a'n*t of his breed ! — Oh, no ! "
" 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 great many ladies and gentlemen, claiming to be
out-and-out Christians, between whom, and Mr. Sikes's
dog, there exist very strong and singular points of re-
" 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
" 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 gen-teel : as I mean to, in the very next leap-year
206 OLIVER TWIST.
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 handkerchiefs from his pocket and tossing them
into a cupboard, " that's too mean ; that is."
" / couldn't do it," said the Dodger, with an air of
" You can leave your friends, though," said Oliver
with a half smile ; " and let them be punished for what
" 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 OHver's Jflight 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 stamp-
ing, about five minutes long.
" Look here," said the Dodger, drawing forth a hand-
ful of shillings and halfpence. " Here's a jolly life !
What's the odds where it comes from ? Here, catch
OLIVER TWIST. 207
hold ; there's plenty more where they were took from.
You won't, won't you ? Oh, you precious flat ! "
" It's naughty, a'n'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 necker-
chief; 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 repre-
sentation, that scragging and hanging were one and the
"That's what it means," said Charley. "Look how
he stares. Jack ! I never did see such prime company
as that 'ere boy ; he'll be the death of me, I know he
will." Master Charles Bates, having laughed heartily
again, resumed his pipe with tears in his eyes.
" You've been brought up bad," said the Dodger, sur-
veying 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 descrip-
tion 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 favor
without more delay, by the means which they themselves
had employed to gain it.
"And always put this in your pipe, Nolly," said the
208 OLIVER TWIST.
Dodger, as the Jew was heard unlocking the door above,
" if you don't take fogies and tickers "
" What's the good of talking in that way ? " interposed
Master Bates : " he don't know what you mean."
"If you don't take pocket-hankechers 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 en-
tered, unsepn by Oliver. " It all lies in a nutshell, my
dear ; in a nutshell, take the Dodger's word for it. 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 farther at this time,
for the Jew had returned home accompanied by Miss
Betsy, and a gentleman whom Oliver had never seen
before, but who was accosted by the Dodger as Tom
Chitling ; and who, having lingered on the stairs to ex-
change a few gallantries with the lady, now made his
Mr. Chitling was older in years than the Dodger :
having perhaps numbered eighteen winters; but there
was a degree of deference in his deportment towards
that young gentleman which seemed to indicate that he
felt himself conscious of a slight inferiority in point of
genius and professional acquirements. He had small
twinkling eyes, and a pock-marked face ; wore a fur cap,
a dark corduroy jacket, greasy fustian trousers, and an
OLIYER TWIST. 209
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 con-
sequence of having worn the regimentals for six weeks
past, he had not been able to bestow any attention on his
private clothes. iVIr. Chitling added, with strong marks
of irritation, that the new way of fumigating clothes up
yonder was infernal unconstitutional, for it burnt holes
in them, and there was no remedy against the County.
The same remark he considered to apply to the regulation
mode of cutting the hair : which he held to be decidedly
unlawful. Mr. Chitling wound up his observations by
stating that he had not touched a drop of anything for
forty-two mortal long hard-working days : and that he
"wished he might be busted if he warn't as dry as a
" Where do you think the gentleman has come from,
Ohver ? " 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 Ohver.
" Who's that ? " inquired Tom Chithng, casting a con-
temptuous look at Ohver.
" A young friend of mine, my dear," rephed the Jew.
" He's in luck then," said the young man, with a mean-
ing look at Fagin. " Never mind where I came from,
young 'un ; you'll find your way there, soon enough, I'll
bet a crown ! "
At this sally, the boys laughed. After some more
jokes on the same subject, they exchanged a few short
whispers 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 Ohver to come and sit by him, led the con-
VOL. I. 14
210 OLIVER TWIST.
versation to the topics most calculated to interest his
hearers. These were, the great advantages of the trade,
the proficiency of the Dodger, the amiability of Charley
Bates, and the liberality of the Jew himself. At length
these subjects displayed signs of being thoroughly ex-
hausted ; 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
From this day, Oliver was seldom left alone ; but was
placed in almost constant communication with the two
boys, who played the old game with the Jew every day :
whether for their own improvement or Oliver's, Mr.
Fagin best knew. At other times the old man would
tell them stories of 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
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
thouglits in such a dreary place, was now slowly instilling
into his soul the poison which he hoped would blacken it,
and change its hue forever.
OLIVER TWIST. 211
IN WHICH A NOTABLE PLAN IS DISCUSSED AND DE-
It was a cliill, damp, windy night, when the Jew : but-
toning his great-coat tight round his shrivelled body, and
pulling the collar up over his ears so as completely to
obscure the lower part of his face : emerged from his
den. He paused on the step as the door was locked
and chained behind him ; and having listened while the
boys made all secure, and until their retreating footsteps
were no longer audible, slunk down the street as quickly
as he could.
The house to which Oliver had been conveyed, was in
the neighborhood of Whitechapel. The Jew stopped for
an instant at the corner of the street ; and, glancing sus-
piciously 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 hid-
eous old man seemed like some loathsome reptile, engen-
dered in the slime and darkness through which he moved :
212 OLIVER TWIST.
crawling forth, by night, in search of some rich offal for
He kept on his course, through many winding and nar-
row ways, until he reached Bethnal Green ; then, turn-
ing suddenly off to the left, he soon became involved in
a maze of the mean and dirty streets which abound in
that close and densely populated quarter.
The Jew was evidently too familiar with the ground
he traversed, however, 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, walked up-stairs.
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,
" Bring in your body then," said Sikes. " Lie down,
you stupid brute ! Don't you know the devil when he's
got a great-coat on ? "
Apparently, the dog had been somewhat deceived by
Mr. Fagin's outer garment ; for as the Jew unbuttoned
it, and threw it over the back of a chair, he retired to
the corner from which he had risen : wagging his tail as
he went, to show that he was as well satisfied as it was
in his nature to be.
« Well ! " said Sikes.
" Well, my dear," replied the Jew. " Ah ! Nancy."
The latter recognition was uttered with just enough
of embarrassment to imply a doubt of its reception ; for
Mr. Fagin and his young friend had not met, since she
OLIVER TWIST. 213
had interfered in behalf of OHver. All doubts upon the
subject, if he had any, were speedily removed by the
young lady's behavior. 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.
" 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 carcase 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 diver-
sity of their appearance, were filled with several kinds
of liquids. Sikes, pouring out a glass of brandy, bade
the Jew drink it off.
" Quite enough, quite, thankye. Bill," replied the Jew,
putting down the glass, after just setting his lips to it.
" "What ! you're afraid of our getting the better of you,
are you ? " inquked Sikes, fixing his eyes on the Jew.
« Ugh ! "
With a hoarse grunt of contempt, Mr. Sikes seized
the glass, and threw ^he 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 which was habitual to him. It was a meanly
furnished apartment, with nothing but the contents of the
214 OLIVER TWIST.
closet to induce the belief that its occupier was anything
but a working man ; and with no more suspicious arti-
cles 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
" For business ? " inquired the Jew.
" For business," replied Sikes ; " so say what you've
got to say."
" About the crib at Chertsey, Bill ? " said the Jew,
drawing his chair forward, and speaking in a very low
" 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 blink-
ing, 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, upon reflectiom 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 eye-
brows in a rapture of anticipation.
OLIVER TWIST. 215
" Not at all," replied Sikes coldly.
" Not to be done at all ! " echoed the Jew, leaning back
in his chair.
" No, not at all," rejoined Sikes. " At least it can't
be a put-up job, as we expected."
" Then it hasn't been properly gone about," said the
Jew, turning pale with anger. " Don't tell me."
" But I will tell you," retorted Sikes. " Who are you
that's not to be told ? I tell you that Toby Crackit has
been hanging about the place for a fortnight ; and he
can't get one of the servants into a line."
" Do you mean to tell me, Bill," said the Jew ; soften-
ing 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
" 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 incredu-
lously. " Think what women are. Bill."
" No ; not even by flash Toby Crackit," replied Sikes.
" He says he's worn sham whiskers, and a canary waist-
coat, 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 mil-
itary 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 very blank at this information. After
ruminating for some minutes with his chin sunk on his
216 OLIVER TWIST.
breast, he raised his head, and said, with a deep sigh,
that if flash Toby Crackit reported aright, he feared the
game was up.
" And yet," said the old man, dropping his hands on
his knees, " it's a sad thing, my dear, to lose so much
when we had set our hearts upon it."
" So it is," said Mr. Sikes. " Worse luck ! "
A long silence ensued ; during which, the Jew was
plunged in deep thought : with his face wrinkled into an
expression of villany perfectly demoniacal. Sikes eyed
him furtively from time to time ; Nancy, apparently fear-
ful of irritating the house-breaker, 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 ghs-
tening, 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 starting out of it.
" Umph ! " cried Sikes, stopping short, as the girl :
scarcely moving her head : looked suddenly round, and
OLIVER TWIST. 217
pointed for an instant to the Jew's face. " Never mind
which part it is. You can't do it without me, I know ;
but it's best to be on the safe side when one deals with
" 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
" 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 musn't be a big un. Lord ! " said Mr.
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 arning money : teaches him to read and write :
and in time makes a 'prentice of him. And so they
go on," said Mr. Sikes, his wrath rising with the recol-
lection of his wrongs, " so they go on ; and, if they'd
got money enough, (which it's a Providence they have
not,) 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
218 OLIVER TWIST.
unnecessary ; but complied, nevertheless, by requesting
Miss Nancy to fetch him a jug of beer.
"You don't want any beer," said Nancy, folding her
arms, and retaining her seat very composedly.
" I tell you I do ! " replied Sikes.
" Nonsense," rejoined the girl coolly. " Go on, Fagin.
I know what he's going to say. Bill ; he needn't mind
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 a'n't one to blab. Are
you, Nancy ? "
" / should think not ! " replied the young lady : draw-
ing her chair up to the table, and putting her elbows
" 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 at once to have the effect of reas-
suring both gentlemen ; for the Jew nodded his head
with a satisfied air, and resumed his seat ; as did Mr.
" Now, Fagin," said Nancy with a laugh. " Tell Bill
at once, about Oliver ! "
OLIVER TWIST. 219
" 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 !
" 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.
" 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,
" 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,
" 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 '11 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 di^awn
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
220 OLIVER TWIST.
his mind with the idea that he has been a thief; and he's
ours ! Ours for his Hfe. 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 agree-
able friend, " 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, " 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 danger-
ous : 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, expres-
sive of the disgust with which he received Fagin's affec-
tation of humanity.
" Ah, to be sure," said the Jew, " when is it to be
" I planned with Toby, the night arter to-morrow,"
OLIVER TWIST. 221
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.
" And about "
" Oh, ah, it's all planned," rejoined Sikes, interrupting
him. " Never mind particulars. You'd better bring
the boy here, to-morrow night ; I shall get off the stones
an hour arter daybreak. Then you hold your tongue,
and keep the melting-pot ready ; and that's all you'll
have to do."
After some discussion, in which all three took an active
part, it was decided that Nancy should repair to the Jew's
next evening^ when the nisfht had set in : and brino- 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 inter-
fered in his behalf, than anybody else. It was also sol-
emnly arranged that poor Oliver should, for the purposes
of the contemplated expedition, be unreservedly con-
signed 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 the
boy, or any punishment with which it might be necessary
to visit him : it being understood that, to render the com-
pact in this respect binding, any representations made by
]\Ir. Sikes on his return should be required to be con-
firmed and corroborated, in all important particulars, by
the testimony of flash Toby Crackit.
222 OLIVER TWIST.
These preliminaries adjusted, Mr. Sikes proceeded to
drink brandy at a furious rate ; and to flourish the crow-
bar 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 enthu-
siasm, he insisted upon producing his box of housebreak-
ing 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
it upon the floor, and went to sleep where he fell.
" Good-night, Nancy," said the Jew, mufiling himself
up as before.
Their eyes met ; and the Jew scrutinized her, nar-
rowly. There was no flinching about the girl. She
was as true and earnest in the matter as Toby Crackit
himself could be.
The Jew again bade her good-night ; and, bestowing
a sly kick upon the prostrate form of Mr. Sikes, while
her back was turned, groped down-stairs.
" Always the way ! " muttered the Jew to himself as
he turned homewards. " The worst of these women is,
that a very little thing serves to call up some long-for-
gotten 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, impa-
tiently awaiting his return.
" Is Oliver a-bed ? I want to speak to him," was his
first remark as they descended the stairs.
OLIVEK TWIST. 223
" 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 weai's when Hfe 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 chano-inor dust it hallowed.
" Not now," said the Jew, turning softly away. " To-
224 OLIVER TWIST.
WHEREIN OLIVER IS DELIVERED OVER TO MR. WIL-
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 ones had been removed. At first, he was pleased
with the discovery : hoping that it might be the forerun-
ner of his release ; but such thoughts were quickly dis-
pelled, 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 I 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 TWIST. 225
Oliver colored, involuntarily, to find that the old thief
had been reading his thoughts ; but boldly said, Yes, he
did want to know.
" Why, do you think ? " inquired Fagin, parrying the
'• Indeed I don't know, sir," replied Oliver.
" Bah ! " said the Jew, turning away with a disap-
pointed 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 express-
ing any greater curiosity on the subject ; but the truth
is, that, although he 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 re-
mained very surly and silent till night : when he pre-
pared 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.
OHver 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, saAv that the Jew was gaz-
ing fixedly at hin[% 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
VOL. I. 15
226 OLIVER TWIST.
what he bids you. Mmd ! " 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.
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 obtained by sending him to Sikes :
which would not be equally well answered by his remain-
ing with Fagin ; and after meditating for a long time,
concluded that he had been selected to perform some
ordinary menial offices for the house-breaker, until an-
other 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 can-
dle : 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 tjhe lonely wayside :
and 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
OLIVER TWIST. 227
the gibbet to end tbeir 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 de-
scriptions were so real and vivid, that the sallow 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 out-
cast boy, who had never known the love of friends or
kmdred, it might come to liim now : when, desolate and
deserted, he stood alone in the midst of wickedness and
He had concluded his prayer, but still remained with
his head buried in his hands, when a rustling noise
" What's that ! " he cried, starting up, and catchuig
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 in-
quired if she were ill. The girl threw herself into a
228 OLIVER TWIST.
chair, with her back towards him : and wrung her hands ;
but made no re^^ly.
" 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."
She rocked herself to and fro ; caught her throat ;
and, uttering a gurgling sound, struggled and gasped for
"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 ? " said 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
" 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 ap-
OLIVER TWIST. 229
pealing 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 liis tale. As the reflection occurred
to him, he stepped forward : and said, somewhat hastily,
that he was 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 point-
ing 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 ; and
if ever you are to get loose from here, this is not the
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 per-
haps 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
230 OLIVER TWIST.
you, just now. If I could help you, I would; but I
have not the power. They don't mean to harm you ;
and whatever they make you do, is no fault of yours.
Hush ! every word from you is a blow for me. Give
me your hand. Make haste ! Your hand ! "
She caught the hand which Oliver instinctively placed
in hers ; and, blowing out the light, drew him after her
up the stairs. The door was opened, quickly, by some
one shrouded in the darkness; and was as quickly closed,
when they had passed out. A hackney-cabriolet was in
waiting; with the same vehemence which she had ex-
hibited 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, with-
out the delay of an instant.
The girl still held Oliver fast by the hand ; and con-
tinued to pour into his ear, the warnings and assurances
she had already imparted. All was so quick and hur-
ried, 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
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 caudle. " Oh ! that's the time of day.
OLIVER TWIST. 231
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.
" Bullseye 's gone home with Tom," observed Sikes, as
he Hghted them up. "He'd have been in the way."
" That's right," rejoined Nancy.
" So you've got the kid," said Sikes, when they had
all reached the room : closing the door as he spoke.
" Yes, here he is," replied Nancy.
" Did he come quiet ? " inquired Sikes.
" Like a lamb," rejoined Nancy.
" I'm glad to hear it," said Sikes, looking grimly at
Oliver ; " for the sake of his young carcase : as would
otherways have suffered for it. Come here, young un ;
and let me read you a lectur', which is as well got over
Thus addressing his new pupil, Mr. Sikes pulled off
Ohver'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 afiirmative.
" 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
" Yes, I see it is, sir," replied Oliver.
232 OLIVER TWIST.
" 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 load-
ing will be in your head without notice. So, if you do
make up your mind to speak without leave, say your
Having bestowed a scowl upon the object of this warn-
ing, 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 Nan-
cy: 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. Ex-
cept 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 re-
turned with a pot of porter and a dish of sheep's heads :
which gave occasion to several pleasant witticisms on the
OLIVEK TWIST. 233
part of Mr. Sikes : founded upon the singular coinci-
dence of " jemmies " being a cant name, common to
them : and also to an ingenious implement much used
in his profession. Indeed, the worthy gentleman, stim-
ulated perhaps by the immediate prospect of being in
active service, was in great spirits and good humor ; in
proof whereof, it may be here remarked, that he humor-
ously di'ank all the beer at a draught ; and did not utter,
on a rough calculation, more than fourscore oaths during
the whole progress of the meal.
Supper being ended — it may be easily conceived that
Oliver had no great appetite for it — Mr. Sikes disposed
of a couple of glasses of spirits and water : and threw
himself upon the bed ; ordering Nancy, with many im-
precations 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 brood-
ing 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 great-coat, 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 burn-
ing ; and it was quite dark outside. A sharp rain, too,
was beating against the window-panes ; and the sky
looked black and cloudy.
234 OLIVER TWIST.
" 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, replied to a surly inquiry from
Sikes by saying that he was quite ready.
Nancy, scarcely looking at the boy, threw him a hand-
kerchief 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 robber, who, merely
pausing to show him, with a menacing gesture, that he
had the pistol in a side-pocket of his great-coat, 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.
OLIVER TWIST. 235
It was a cheerless morning when they got into the
street ; blowing and raining hard ; and the clouds look-
ing 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 glimmer-
ing of the coming day in the sky ; but it rather aggra-
vated 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 house-tops, and dreary streets. There ap-
peared 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
By the time they had turned into the Bethnal Green-
road, the day had fairly begun to break. Many of the
lamps were already extinguished ; a few country wagons
were slowly toiling on, towards London ; and now and
then, a stage-coach, covered with mud, rattled briskly by:
the driver bestowing, as he passed, an admonitory lash
upon the heavy wagoner, 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 gas-lights burning inside, were already open.
236 OLIVER TWIST.
By degrees other shops began to be unclosed ; and a few
scattered people were met with. Then, came straggling
groups of laborers going to their work ; then, men and
women with fish-baskets on their heads ; donkey-carts
laden with vegetables ; chaise-carts filled with live-stock
or whole carcasses of meat ; milkwomen with pails ; and
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 ; and 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 cross-
ing Finsbury-square, Mr. Sikes struck, by way of Chis-
well-street, into Barbican ; thence into Long-lane ; and
so into Smithfield ; from which latter place, arose a
tumult of discordant sounds that filled Oliver Twist with
surprise and amazement.
It was market-morning. The ground was covered,
nearly ankle-deep, with filth and mire ; and 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 tem-
porary ones 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 dense mass ; the whistling of
drovers, the barking of dogs, the bellowing and plung-
OLIVER TWIST. 237
ing of oxen, the bleating of sheep, the grunting and
squeaking of pigs ; the cries of hawkers, the shouts,
oaths, and quarrelling on all sides ; the ringing of bells
and roar of voices, that issued from every public-house ;
the crowding, pushing, driving, beating, whooping, and
yelling ; the hideous and discordant din that resounded
from every comer of the market ; and the unwashed,
unshaven, squalid, and dirty figures constantly running
to and fro, and bursting in and out of the throng ; ren-
dered 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.
" 'Now, young un ! " said Sikes, looking up at the
clock of St. Andrew's church, " hard upon seven ! you
must step out. Come, don't lag behind already. Lazy-
legs ! "
Mr. Sikes accompanied this speech with a jerk at bis
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 house-breaker as well as he
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
238 OLIVER TWIST.
the driver with as much civility as he could assume, if
he would give them a lift as far as Isleworth.
" Jump up," said the man. " Is that your boy ? "
" Yes ; he's my boy," replied Sikes, looking hard at
Oliver, and putting his hand abstractedly into the pocket
where the pistol was.
"Your father walks rather too quick for you, don't
he, my man ? " inquired the driver : seeing that Oliver
was out of breath.
" Not a bit of it," repHed Sikes, interposing. " He's
used to it. Here, take hold of my hand, Ned. In with
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 won-
dered, 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 jour-
ney. At length, they came to a public-house called the
Coach and Horses : a httle 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 very significant man-
" Good-by, 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.
OLIVER TWIST. 239
Sikes waited until he had fairly gone ; and then, tell-
ing 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 stop-
ping for nothing but a little beer, until they reached a
town. Here against the wall of a house, Oliver saw,
written up in pretty large letters, " Hampton." They
lingered about, in the fields, for some hours. At length,
they came back into the town ; and turning into an old
public-house with a defaced sign-board, ordered some
dinner by the kitchen-fire.
The kitchen was an old, low-roofed room ; with a great
beam across the middle of the ceiling : and benches, with
high backs to them, by the fire ; on which were seated
several rough men in smock-frocks, drinking and smok-
ing. 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 here so
long after it, while Mr. Sikes indulged himself with three
or four pipes, that Ohver 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 ;
and 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 laboring man, over a pint of
240 OLIVER TWIST.
" So, you're going on to Lower Halliford, are you ? "
" Yes, I am," replied the man, who seemed a httle the
worse: or better, as the case might be: for drinking;
" and not slow about it neither. My horse hasn't got a
load behind him going back, as he had coming up in the
mornin' ; and he won't be long a-doing of it. Here's
luck to him ! Ecod ! he's a good un ! "
" Could yo-u give my boy and me a lift as far as
there ? " demanded Sikes, pushing the ale towards his
"If you're going directly, I can," replied the man,
looking out of the pot. " Are you going to Halhford ? "
" Going on to Shepperton," rephed Sikes.
'*I'm your man, as far as I go," replied the other.
"Is all paid, Becky?"
" Yes, the other gentleman's paid," replied the girl.
" I say ! " said the man, with tipsy gravity ; " that
won't do, you know."
" Why not ? " rejoined Sikes. " You're a-going to ac-
commodate 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
OLIVER TWIST. 241
The horse, whose health had been drunk in his ab-
sence, was standing outside : ready harnessed to the cart.
OHver 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 run-
ning into the parlor windows over the way ; after perform-
ing these 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 it-
self 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 to-
gether, 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 re-
pose of the dead.
Sunbury was passed through ; and they came again
into the lonely road. Two or three miles more ; and the
VOL. I. 16
242 OLIVER TWIST.
cart stopped. Sikes alighted ; and, taking Oliver by the
hand, 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 for-
ward, 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; and then turned suddenly down a bank upon
" The water ! " thought Oliver, turning sick with fear.
^*He has brought me to this lonely place to murder
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 de-
cayed. There was a window on each side of the dilapi-
dated entrance ; and one story above ; but no light was
visible. It was dark, dismantled : and, to all appearance,
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.
OLIVER TWIST. 243
"Hallo!" cried aloud, hoarse voice, directly they
had 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, Bar-
ney, a glim ! Show the gentleman in, Barney ; and
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, fall-
ing violently, was heard ; and then an indistinct mutter-
ing, 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 fee-
ble candle : and next, the form of the same individual
who has been heretofore described as laboring under the
244 OLIVER TWIST.
infirmity of speaking through his nose, and officiating as
waiter at the pubHc-house on Saffron Hill.
" Bister Sikes ! " exclaimed Barney, with real or coun-
terfeit joy ; " cub id, sir ; cub id."
" Here ! you get on first," said Sikes, putting Oliver
in front of him. " Quicker ! or I shall tread upon your
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-colored coat, with large brass buttons ; an or-
ange neckerchief; a coarse, staring, shawl-pattern waist-
coat ; 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 tor-
tured into long corkscrew curls, through which he occa-
sionally 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 admi-
ration 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 eye rested on Oliver, Mr. Toby Crackit brought
himself into a sitting posture, and demanded who that
OLIVER TWIST. 245
" The boy. Only tlie boy ! " replied Sikes, drawing a
chair towards the fire.
" "Wud of Bister Fagid's lads," exclaimed Barney, with
'• Fagin's, eh ! " exclaimed Toby, looking at Oliver.
" Wot an inwalable boy that'll make, for the old ladies'
pockets in chapels. His mug is a fortun' to him."
" There — there'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 honored Oliver with a long stare
" 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 to-night, though not very
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 w^as, 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 honor the toast ; and, care-
fully 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
246 OLIVER TWIST.
don't know what's good for you ? Tell him to drink it,
" 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 into a violent fit of coughing : which de-
lighted Toby Crackit and Barney, and even drew a smile
from the surly Mr. Sikes.
This done, and Sikes having satisfied his appetite
(Oliver could eat nothing but a small crust of bread
which they made him swallow), the two men laid them-
selves 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
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 through the gloomy
lanes, or wandering about the dark church-yard, or re-
tracing 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 great-coats ; while Bar-
ney, opening a cupboard, brought forth several articles,
which he hastily crammed into the pockets.
" Barkers for me, Barney," said Toby Crackit.
OLIVER TWIST. 247
" 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 forgot-
ten ? " inquired Toby : fastening a small crowbar to a
loop inside the skirt of his coat.
" All right," rejoined his companion. " Bring them
bits of timber, Barney. That's the time of day."
With these words, he took a thick stick from Barney's
hands, who, having delivered another to Toby, busied
himself in fastening on Oliver's cape.
" Now then ! " said Sikes, holding out his hand.
Oliver : who was completely 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
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
It was now intensely dark. The fog was much heav-
ier than it had been in the early part of the night ;
and the atmosphere was so damp, that, although no rain
fell, OHver's hair and eyebrows, within a few minutes
after leaving the house, had become stiiF 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.
248 OLIVER TWIST.
as they walked pretty briskly, they soon arrived at
" Slap through the town," whispered Sikes ; " there'll
be nobody in the way, to-night, to see us."
Toby acquiesced ; and they hurried through the main
street of the little town, which at that late hour was
wholly deserted. A dim light shone at intervals from
some bed-room window ; and the hoarse barking of
dogs occasionally broke the silence of the night. But
there was nobody abroad ; and they had cleared the
town, as the church-bell struck two.
Quickening their pace, they turned up a road upon the
left hand. After walking about a quarter of a mile,
they stopped before a detached house surrounded by a
wall : to the top of which Toby Crackit, scarcely paus-
ing to take breath, climbed in a twinkling.
" The boy next," said Toby. " Hoist him up ; I'll
catch hold of him."
Before Ohver 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 to-
wards the house.
And now, for the first time, Oliver, well-nigh mad with
grief and terror, saw that house-breaking 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 sunk 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."
OLH^ER TWIST. 249
" 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 gra?p, placed his hand upon the boy's
mouth, and dragged him to the house.
" 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 de-
fend it more securely ; but it was large enough to admit
a boy of Oliver's size, nevertheless. A very brief ex-
ercise of Mr. Sikes's art, sufiiced to overcome the fasten-
ing of the lattice ; and it soon stood wide open also.
" Now listen, you young limb," whispered Sikes, draw-
ing a dark lantern from his pocket, and throwing the
250 OLIVER TWIST.
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.
Tliere are three there, Bill, with a jolly large blue uni-
corn and a gold pitchfork on 'em : which is the old lady's
" Keep quiet, can't you ?" replied Sikes, with a threat-
ening look. " The room-door is open, is it ? "
" Wide," replied Toby, after peeping in to satisfy him-
self. " The game of that, is, that they always leave it
open with a catch, so that the dog, who's got a bed in
here, may walk up and down the passage when he feels
wakeful. Ha ! ha ! Barney 'ticed him away to-night.
So neat ! "
Although Mr. Crackit spoke in a scarcely audible
whisper, and laughed without noise, Sikes imperiously
commanded him to be silent, and to get to work. Toby
complied, by first producing his lantern, and placing it
on the ground ; 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
OLIYER TWIST. 251
the way ; and that if he faltered, he would fall dead that
" 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.
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 up-
stairs from the hall, and alarm the family. Filled with
this idea, he advanced at once, but stealthily.
" Come back ! " suddenly cried Sikes aloud. " Back !
back ! "
Scared by the sudden breaking of the dead stillness
of the place, and by a loud cry which followed it, Oliver
let his lantern fall and knew not whether to advance or
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
Sikes had disappeared for an instant ; but he was up
again, and had him by the collar before the smoke had
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 ! "
252 OLIVER TWIST.
Then came the loud ringing of a bell : mingled with
the noise of fire-arms, and the shouts of men, and the
sensation of being carried over uneven ground at a rapid
pace. And then, the noises grew confused in the dis-
tance ; and a cold deadly feeling crept over the boy's
heart: and he saw or heard no more.
OLIVER TWIST. 253
WHICH CONTAINS THE SUBSTANCE OF A PLEAS-
ANT CONVERSATION BETWEEN MR. BUMBLE AND
A LADY ; AND SHOWS THAT EVEN A BEADLE MAY
BE SUSCEPTIBLE ON SOME POINTS.
The night was bitter cold. The snow lay on the
ground, frozen into a hard thick crust ; so that only the
heaps that had drifted into by-ways and 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 read-
ers have been already introduced as the birthplace of
Ohver 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
254 OLIVER TWIST.
materials for the most grateful meal that matrons enjoy.
In foct, Mrs. Corney was about to solace herself with a
cup of tea. As she glanced from the table to the fire-
place, where the smallest of all possible kettles was sing-
ing a small song in a small voice, her inward satisfaction
evidently increased, — so much so, indeed, that Mrs. Cor-
" 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 deplor-
ing the 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 w^as moralizing;
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, pet-
tishly ; " I shall never get another — like him."
OLR^ER TWIST. 255
"Whether this remark bore reference to the husband,
or the teapot, is uncertain. It might have been the lat-
ter ; 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 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 appear-
ance, 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 advan-
tage of the hesitation, and being very cold himself, shut
it without further permission.
" Hard weather, Mr. Bumble," said the matron.
" Hard, indeed, ma'am," replied the beadle. " Anti-
porochial weather this, ma'am. We have given away,
Mrs. Corney, 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 con-
" 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
256 OLIVER TWIST.
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 it ! What
does he do, ma'am, but ask for a few coals ; if it's only
a pocket handkerchief full, he says ! Coals ! "What
would he do with coals ? Toast his cheese with 'em,
and then come back for more. That's the way with
these people, ma'am ; give 'em a apron full of coals
to-day, and they'll come back for another, the day after
to-morrow, as brazen as alabaster."
The matron expressed her entire concurrence in this
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 over-
seer'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 vil-
lain, ' 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 Hke Mr. Gran-
nett, wasn't it ? " interposed the matron. " Well, Mr.
" Well, ma'am," rejoined the beadle, '' he went away ;
and he did die in the streets. There's a obstinate pau-
per for you ! "
OLIVER TWIST. 257
" It beats anything I could have believed," observed
the matron emphatically. " But don't you think out-of-
door relief a very bad thing, any way, Mr. Bumble ?
You're a gentleman of experience, and ought to know.
" Mrs. Comey," said the beadle, smiling as men smile
who are conscious of superior information, " out-of-door
relief, properly managed : properly managed, ma'am : is
the porochial safeguard. The great principle of out-of-
door relief, is, to give the paupers exactly what they
don't want ; and then they get tired of coming."
" Dear me ! " exclaimed Mrs. 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, stooping to unpack his bundle,
" these are official secrets, ma'am ; not to be spoken of :
except, as I may say, among the porochial officers, such
as ourselves. This is the port-wine, ma'am, that the
board ordered for the infirmary ; real, fresh, genuine
port-wine ; only out of the cask this forenoon ; clear as
a bell ; and no sediment ! "
Having held the first bottle up to the light, and shaken
it well to test its excellence, Mr. Bumble placed them
both on the top of a chest of drawers ; folded the hand-
kerchief in which they had been wrapped ; put it care-
fully in his pocket ; and took up his hat, as if to go.
'' You'll have a very cold walk, Mr. Bumble," said the
VOL. I. 17
258 OLIVER TWIST.
" 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 bea-
dle, who was moving towards the door; and as the beadle
coughed, preparatory to bidding her good-night, bashfully
inquired whether — whether he wouldn't take a cup of
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 en-
countered those of the gallant beadle; she colored, and
applied herself to the task of making his tea. Again
Mr. Bumble coughed, — louder this time than he had
" 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. Bum-
ble, having spread a handkerchief over his knees to
prevent the crumbs from sullying the splendor of his
shorts, began to eat and drink ; varying these amuse-
ments, 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.
OLIVER TWIST. 259
" 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 are so happy, so frohcsome,
and so cheerful, that they are quite companions for me."
" 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,
" 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. Bum-
ble, slowly flourishing the teaspoon with a kind of amo-
rous dignity which made him doubly impressive ; " I
would drown it myself, with pleasure."
" Then you're a cruel man," said the matron viva-
ciously, 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
260 OLIVER TWIST.
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 ad-
mire, and to consider an act of great heroism on Mr.
Bumble's part : he being in some sort tempted by time,
place, and opportunity, to give utterance to certain soft
nothmgs, which however well they may become the lips
of the light and thoughtless, do seem immeasurably be-
neath 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
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, mov-
ing his chair by little and little, soon began to diminish
the distance between himself and the matron ; and, con-
tinuing to travel round the outer edge of the circle,
brought his chair, in time, close to that in which the
matron was seated. Indeed, the two chairs touched ;
and when they did so, Mr. Bumble stopped.
Now, if the matron had moved her chair to the right,
she would have been scorched by the fire ; and if to the
left, she must have fallen into Mr. Bumble's arms ; so
(being a discreet matron, and no doubt foreseeing these
consequences at a glance) she remained where she was,
and handed Mr. Bumble another cup of tea.
" Hard-hearted, Mrs. Corney ? " said Mr. Bumble,
stirring his tea, and looking up into the matron's face ;
" are you hard-hearted, Mrs. Corney ? "
OLRTER TWIST. 261
" Dear me ! " exclaimed tlie 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 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 unneces-
sary by a hasty knocking at the door : which was no
sooner heard, than Mr. Bumble darted, with much agil-
ity, 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 phys-
ical instance of the efficacy of a sudden surprise in
counteracting the effects of extreme fear, that her voice
had quite recovered all its official asperity.
'•' If you please, mistress," said a withered old female
pauper, hideously ugly : putting her head in at the door,
" Old Sally is a-going fast."
" Well, what's that to me ? " angrily demanded the
matron. " I can't keep her alive, can I ? "
" No, no, mistress," replied the old woman, " nobody
can ; she's far beyond the reach of help. I've seen a
many people die ; little babes and great strong men ;
and I know 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
262 OLIVER TWIST.
hard, — she says she has got something to tell, which
you must hear. She'll never die quiet till you come,
At this intelligence, the worthy Mrs. Corney muttered
a variety of invectives against old women who couldn't
even die without purposely annoying their betters ; and,
muffling herself in a thick shawl which she hastily caught
up, briefly requested Mr. Bumble to stay till she came
back, lest anything particular should occur ; and, bidding
the messenger walk fast, and not be all night hobbling
up the stairs, 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 en-
gaged in taking an exact inventory of the furniture.
OLIYER TWIST. 263
TEEATS OF A VERY POOR SUBJECT. BUT IS A SHORT
ONE ; AND MAT BE FOUND OF lilPORTANCE IN
It was no unfit messenger of death, that had dis-
turbed the quiet of the matron's room. Her body was
bent by age ; her limbs trembled with palsy ; and her
face, distorted into a mumbling leer, resembled more the
grotesque shaping of some wild pencil, than the work of
Alas ! how few of Nature's faces are left to gladden
us with their beauty ! The cares, and sorrows, and hun-
gerings, of the world, change them as they change hearts ;
and it is only when those passions sleep, and have lost
their hold forever, 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
264 OLIVER TWrST.
pause for breath, gave the light into her hand, and re-
mained 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 farther end. There was another old woman watch-
ing by the bed ; and the parish apothecary's apprentice
was standing by the fire, making a toothpick out of a
" Cold night, Mrs. Corney," said this young gentle-
man, as the matron entered.
" Very cold indeed, sir," replied the mistress in her
most civil tones, and dropping a courtesy 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 thinoj for a cold night."
" They're the board's choosing, sir," returned the mat-
ron. " 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 pa-
tient, " 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 tooth-
pick'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
OLIVER TWIST. 265
make a row," said the young man. " Put the light on
the floor. She won't see it there."
The attendant did as she was told ; shaking her head
meanwhile, to intimate that the woman would not die so
easily ; having done so, she resumed her seat by the side
of the other nurse, who had by this time returned. The
mistress, with an expression of impatience, wrapped her-
self 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 perfectly terrible, as, in
this position, they began to converse in a low voice.
" Did she say any more, Anny dear, while I was
gone ? " inquired the messenger.
" Not a word," replied the other. " She plucked and
tore at her arms for a little time ; but I held her hands,
and she soon dropped off. She hasn't much strength in
her, so I easily kept her quiet. I a'n't so weak for an
old woman, although I am on parish allowance ; — no,
" Did she drink the hot wine the doctor said she was
to have ? " demanded the first.
" I tried to get it down," rejoined the other. " But
her teeth were tight set ; and she clenched the mug so
hard that it was as much as I could do, to get it back
again. So /drank it ; and it did me good ! "
266 OLIVER TWIST.
Looking cautiously round, to ascertain that they were
not overheard, the two hags cowered nearer to the fire,
and chuckled heartily.
" I mind the time," said the first speaker, " when she
would have done the same, and made rare fun of it after-
" 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 waxwork. 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-dis-
colored 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
" Not long, mistress," replied the second woman, look-
ing 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 mat-
ron, 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
OLIVER TWIST. 267
won't find me here when she does wake ; and 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 impu-
dent old harridans. If you make a fool of me again, I'll
soon cure you, I warrant you ! "
She was bouncing away, when a cry from the two
women, who had turned towards the bed, caused her to
look round. The patient had raised herself upright, and
was stretching her 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 he 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 hsteners.
" Turn them away," said the woman, drowsily ; " make
haste ! make haste ! "
The two old crones, chiming in together, began pour-
ing 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 key -hole 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 laboring under the effects of a final taste of gin-
268 OLIVER TWIST.
and-water which had been privily administered, in the
openness of their hearts, by the worthy old ladies them-
" Now listen to me," said the dying woman, aloud, as
if making a great effort to revive one latent spark of
energy. " In this very room — in this very bed — I
once nursed a pretty young creetur', that was brought
into the house with her feet cut and bruised with walk-
ing, 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.
OLIVER TWIST. 269
is on me besides ! They would have treated him better,
if they had known it all ! "
" Known what ? " asked the other. " Speak ! "
" The boy grew so like his mother," said the woman,
rambling on, and not heeding the question, " that I could
never forget it when I saw his face. Poor girl ! poor
girl ! She was so young, too ! Such a gentle lamb !
Wait ; there's more to tell. I have not told you all,
have I ? "
" No, no," replied the matron, inclining her head to
catch the words, as they came more faintly from the
dying woman. " Be quick, or it may be too late ! "
" The mother," said the woman, making a more violent
effort than before; " the mother, when the pains of death
first came upon her, whispered in my ear that if her
baby was born alive, and thrived, the day might come
when it would not feel so much disgraced to hear its
poor young mother named. ' And oh, kind Heaven ! *
she said, folding her thin hands together, ' whether it be
boy or girl, raise up some friends for it in this troubled
world ; and take pity upon a lonely, desolate child, aban-
doned 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
270 OLIVER TWIST.
" Stone dead ! " said one of the old women, hurrying
in as soon as the door was opened.
" And nothing to tell, after all," rejoined the matron,
walking carelessly away.
The two crones, to all appearance, too busily occupied
in the preparations for their dreadful duties to make any
reply, were left alone ; hovering about the body.
OLIYEPw TWIST. 271
WHEREIN THIS HISTORY REVERTS TO MR. FAGIN AND
While these things were passing in the country work-
house, 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 endeavor-
ing 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, pecuUarly intelligent at all times, ac-
quired 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 regulat-
ing his own play, by the result of his observations upon
his neighbor'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,
272 OLIVER TWIST.
which he only removed for a brief space when he deemed
it necessary to apply for refreshment to a quart-pot upon
the table, which stood ready filled with gin and water
for the accommodation of the company.
Master Bates was also attentive to the play ; but being
of a more excitable nature than his accomplished friend,
it was observable that he more frequently applied him-
self to the gin and water ; and moreover indulged in
many jests and irrelevant remarks, all highly unbecom-
ing a scientific rubber. Indeed, the Artful, presuming
upon their close attachment, more than once took occa-
sion 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 high-
est 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.
OLIVER TWIST. 273
" Matter, Fagin ! " cried Charley. " I wish you had
watched the play. Tommy ChitHng hasn't won a point ;
and I went partners with him against the Artful and
" Ay, ay ! " said the Jew, with a grin, which sufficiently
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'
" Ha ! ha ! my dear," replied the Jew, " you must get
up very early in the morning, to win against the
" 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
the piece of chalk which had served him in lieu of count-
ers ; 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
VOL. I. 18
274 OLIVER TWIST.
that he's just left, eh ? Ha ! ha ! Is that it, my
" Not a bit of it," replied the Dodger, stopping the
subject of discourse as Mr. Chitling was about to reply.
" What do you say, Charley ? "
" I should say," replied Master Bates, with a grin,
" that he was uncommon sweet upon Betsy. See how
he's a-blushing ! Oh, my eye ! here's a merry-go-round-
er ! Tommy Chitling's in love ! Oh, Fagin, Fagin !
what a spree ! "
Thoroughly overpowered with the notion of Mr. Chit-
ling 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.
" 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 any-
" No more it is," replied tlie 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
" So I c?a 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,
sometime or another ; and why not in the winter-time
OLIVER TWIST. 275
when you don't want to go out a-walking so much ; eh,
Fagin ? "
" Ah, to be sure, my dear," replied the Jew.
" You wouldn't mind it again, Tom, would you ? ^
asked the Dodger, winking upon Charley and the Jew,
" if Bet was all right ? "
" I mean to say that I shouldn't," replied Tom, angrily.
" There, now. Ah ! Who'll say as much as that, I
should like to know ; eh, Fagin ? "
" Nobody, my dear," replied the Jew ; " not a soul,
Tom. I don't know one of 'em that would do it besides
you ; not one of 'em, my dear."
" I might have got clear off, if I'd split upon her ;
mightn't I, Fagin ? " angrily pursued the poor half-witted
dupe. " A word from me would have done it ; wouldn't
it, Fagin ? "
" To be sure it would, my dear," replied the Jew.
" But I didn't blab it ; did I, Fagin?" demanded Tom,
pouring question upon question with great volubility.
" No, no, to be sure," replied the Jew ; " you were
too stout-hearted for that. A deal too stout, my dear ! "
" Perhaps I was," rejoined Tom, looking round ; " and
if I was, what's to laugh at, in that ; eh, Fagin ? "
The Jew, perceiving that Mr. Chitling was considera-
bly roused, hastened to assure him that nobody was
laughing ; and to prove the gravity of the company, ap-
pealed 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
jVIi'. Chitling, without any preliminary ceremonies,
rushed across the room, and aimed a blow at the of-
fender, who, being skilful in evading pursuit, ducked to
276 OLIVER TWIST.
avoid it ; and chose his time so well that it lighted on
the chest of the meriy old gentleman, and caused him to
stagger to the wall, where he stood panting for breath,
while Mr. Chitling looked on, in intense dismay.
" Hark ! " cried the Dodger at this moment, " I heard
the tinkler." Catching up the light, he crept softly up-
The bell was rung again, with some impatience, while
the party were in darkness. After a short pause, the
Dodger reappeared ; and whispered Fagin mysteriously.
« What ! " cried the Jew, " alone ? "
The Dodger nodded in the affirmative ; and, shading
the flame of the candle with his hand, gave Charley
Bates a private intimation, in dumb show, that he had
better not be funny just then. Having performed this
friendly office, he fixed his eyes on the Jew's face, and
awaited his directions.
The old man bit his yellow fingers, and meditated for
some seconds ; his face working with agitation, the while,
as if he dreaded something, and feared to know the worst.
At length he raised his head.
" Where is he ? " he asked.
The Dodger pointed to the floor above ; and made a
gesture, as if to leave the room.
" Yes," said the Jew, answering the mute inquiry ;
" bring him down. Hush ! Quiet, Charley ! Gently,
Tom ! Scarce, scarce ! "
This brief direction to Charley Bates, and his recent
antagonist, was softly and immediately obeyed. There
was no sound of their whereabout, when the Dodger
descended the stairs, bearing the light in his hand, and
followed by a man in a coarse smock-frock ; who, after
casting a hurried glance round the room, pulled off a
OLIVER TWIST. 277
large wrapper which had concealed the lower portion of
his face, and disclosed : all haggard, unwashed, and un-
shorn : the features of flash Toby Crackit.
" How are you, Fagey ? " said this worthy, nodding to
the Jew. " Pop that shawl away in my castor, Dodger,
so that I may know where to find it when I cut ; that's
the time of day ! You'll be a fine young cracksman afore
the old file now."
With these words he pulled up the smock-frock ; and,
winding it round his middle, drew a chair to the fire, and
placed his feet upon the hob.
" See there, Fagey," 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 ! 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 pro-
duce the sustainance, and let's have a quiet fill-out for
the first time these three days ! "
The Jew motioned to the Dodger to place what eata-
bles there were, upon the table ; and, seating himself
opposite the house-breaker, waited his leisure.
To judge from appearances, Toby was by no means in
a hurry to open the conversation. At first, the Jew con-
tented himself with patiently watching his countenance,
as if to gain from its expression some clue to the intelli-
gence 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, mean-
while, in in'epressible excitement. It was all of no use.
278 OLIVER TWIST.
Toby continued to eat with the utmost outward indiffer-
ence, until he could eat no more ; then, ordering the
Dodger out, he closed the door, mixed a glass of spirits
and water, and composed himself for talking.
" First and foremost, Fagey," 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 ; and
then placing his feet against the low mantel-piece, so as
to bring his boots to about the level of his eye, quietly
" First and foremost, Fagey," said the house-breaker,
'' how's Bill ? "
" What ! " screamed the Jew, starting from his seat.
" Why, you don't mean to say " began Tobey,
" 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 Tobey, 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.
D — me ! the whole country was awake, and the dogs
" 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 gal-
OLIVER TWIST. 279
lows ! "We parted company, and left the youngster
lying in a ditch. Alive or dead, that's all I know about
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.
280 OLIVER TWIST.
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 intelli-
gence. He had relaxed nothing of his unusual speed;
but was still pressing onward, in the same wild and dis-
ordered manner, when the sudden dashing past of a car-
riage : 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 by-ways 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 fqll 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 dang-
OLrV'ER TWIST. 281
ling from pegs outside the windows or flaunting from the
door-post ; and the shelves, within, are piled with them.
Confined as the limits of Field Lane are, it has its bar-
ber, its coffee-shop, its beer-shop, and its fried-fish ware-
house. 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-
parlors ; and who go as strangely as they come. Here,
the clothes-man, the shoe-vamper, and the rag-merchant,
display their goods, as sign-boards to the petty thief;
here, stores of old iron and bones, and heaps of mildewy
fragments of woollen-stuff and linen, rust and rot in the
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 salu-
tations in the same way ; but bestowed no closer recog-
nition 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 acknowledg-
ment of the Jew's inquiry after his health.
" The neighborhood was a Httle 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 aflirmative. Pointing in the
282 OLIVER TWIST.
direction of Saffron Hill, lie inquired whether any one
was up yonder to-night.
" At the Cripples ? " inquired the man.
The Jew nodded.
" Let me see," pursued the merchant reflecting. " Yes,
there's some half-dozen of 'em gone in, that I knows. I
don't think your friend 's there."
" Sikes is not, I suppose ? " inquired the Jew, with a
" Non istwentus, as the lawyers say," replied the little
man, shaking his head, and looking amazingly sly. " Have
you got anything in my line to-night ? "
" Nothing to-night," said the Jew, turning away.
" Are you going up to the Cripples, 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 inti-
mate 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
The Three Cripples, or rather the Cripples : which
was the sign by which the establishment was familiarly
known to its patrons : was the same public-house in
which Mr. Sikes and his dog have already figured.
Merely making a sign to a man at the bar, Fagin
OLIVER TWIST. 283
walked straight up-stairs ; and opening tlie door of a
room, and softly insinuating himself into the chamber,
looked anxiously about : shading his eyes with his hand,
as if in search of some particular person.
The room was illuminated by two gas-lights ; the glare
of which was prevented by the barred shutters, and
closely-drawn curtains of faded red, from being visible
outside. The ceihng was blackened, to prevent its color
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 de-
grees, 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 ham-
mer of office in his hand ; while a professional gentle-
man, with a bluish nose, and his face tied up for the
benefit of a toothache, presided at a jingling piano in a
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 sub-
sided, a young lady proceeded to entertain the company
with a ballad in four verses, between each of which the
accompanyist played the melody, all through, as loud as
he could. When this was over, the chairman gave a sen-
timent; after which, the professional gentlemen 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
284 OLIVER TWIST.
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 pro-
ceeding, 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 : re-
ceiving, 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, ex-
pressive of almost every vice in almost every grade, irre-
sistibly 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
Fagin, troubled by no grave emotions, looked eagerly
from face to face while these proceedings were in prog-
ress ; 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 ? "
OLIVER T^YIST. 285
" No," replied the man.
" And no news of Barney ? " inquired Fagin.
" None," replied the landlord of The Cripples ; for it
was he. " He won't stir till it's all safe. Depend on it,
they're on the scent down there ; and that if he moved,
he'd blow upon the thing at once. He's all right enough,
Barney is, else I should have heard of him. I'll pound
it, that Barney's managing properly. Let him alone for
" Will he be here to-night ? " asked the Jew, laying the
same emphasis on the pronoun as before.
" Monks, do you mean ? " inquired the landlord, hesi-
" Hush ! " said the Jew. « Yes.''
" Certain," replied the man, drawing a gold watch from
his fob ; " I expected him here, before now. If you'll
wait ten minutes, he'll be "
" No, no," said the Jew, hastily ; as though, however
desirous he might be to see the person in question, he
was nevertheless relieved by his absence. " Tell him I
came here to see him ; and that he must come to me to-
night. No, say to-morrow. As he is not here, to-morrow
will be time enough."
" Good ! " said the man. " Nothing more ? "
" Not a word now," said the Jew, descending the
" 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,
286 OLIVER TWIST.
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 Beth-
nal Green. He dismissed him within some quarter of a
mile of Mr. Sikes's residence ; and performed the short
remainder of the distance on foot.
" Now," muttered the Jew, as he knocked at the door,
" if there is any deep play here, I shall have it out of
you, my girl, cunning as you are."
She was in her room, the woman said. Fagin crept
softly up-stairs, and entered it without any previous cer-
emony. 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 ; and the noise thus occasioned, roused the
girl. She eyed his crafty face narrowly, as she inquired
whether there was any news, and 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 all.
During this silence, the Jew looked restlessly about
the room, as if to assure himself that there were no
appearances of Sikes having covertly returned. Ap-
parently satisfied with his inspection, he coughed twice
or thrice, and made as many efforts to open a conversa-
OLIVER TWIST. 287
tion ; but the girl heeded him no more than if he had
been made of stone. At length he made another at-
tempt ; and, rubbing his hands together, said, in his
most conciliatory tone,
" And where should you think Bill was now, my
dear ? "
The girl moaned out some half intelligible reply, that
she could not tell ; and seemed, from the smothered noise
that escaped her, to be crying.
" And the boy, too," said the Jew, straining his eyes to
catch a glimpse of her face. " Poor leetle child ! Left
in a ditch, Nance ; only think ! "
" The child," said the girl, suddenly looking up, " is
better where he is, than among us ; and if no harm
comes to Bill from it, I hope he lies dead in the ditch,
and that his young bones may rot there."
'• TVhat ! " 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 humor 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,
288 OLIVER TWIST.
can strangle Sikes as surely as if I had his bull's throat
between my fingers now. If he comes back, and leaves
that 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 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
Panting for breath, the old man stammered for a
word ; and in that instant checked the torrent of his
wrath, and changed his whole demeanor. A moment
before, his clenched hands had grasped the air ; his
eyes had dilated ; and his face grown livid with pas-
sion ; but now, he shrunk into a chair, and, cowering
together, trembled with the apprehension of having
himself disclosed some hidden villany. After a short si-
lence, 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, rais-
ing 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."
OLIVER TWIST. 289
" Regarding this boy, my dear ? " said the Jew, rub-
bing the pahns of his hands nervously together.
" The boy must take his chance with the rest," inter-
rupted 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, he's pretty sure to be safe ; for he's worth two of
him 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 to-morrow. You put me up for a minute ;
but now I'm stupid again."
Fagin put several other questions : all with the same
drift of ascertaining whether the girl had profited by his
unguarded hints ; but, she answered them so readily, and
was withal so utterly unmoved by his searching looks,
that his original impression of her being more than a
trifle in liquor, was confirmed. Nancy, indeed, was not
exempt from a failing which was very common among
the Jew's female pupils ; and in which, in their tenderer
years, they were rather encouraged than checked. Her
disordered appearance, and a wholesale perfume of
Geneva which pervaded the apartment, afforded strong
confirmatory evidence of the justice of the Jew's supposi-
tion ; and when, after indulging in the temporary display
of violence above described, she subsided, first into dul-
ness, 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
VOL. I. 19
290 OLIVER TWIST.
gentleman was happy, Mr. Fagin, who had had con-
siderable experience of such matters in his time, saw,
with great satisfaction, that she was very far gone in-
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 tempta-
tion to loiter. The sharp wind that scoured the streets,
seemed to have cleared them of passengers, as of dust
and mud, for few people were abroad, and they were to
all appearance hastening ffist 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
" Fagin ! " whispered a voice close to his ear.
" Ah ! " said the Jew, turning quickly round, " is
" 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, glanc-
ing uneasily at his companion, and slackening his pace
as he spoke. " On your business all night."
OLIVER TWIST. 291
" 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 : re-
marking, 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 door, and requested
him to close it softly, while he got a hght.
" It's as dark as the grave," said the man, groping for-
ward 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
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 the boys in the front one. Beckoning
the man to follow him, he led the way up-stairs.
" We can say the few words we've got to say in here,
my dear," said the Jew, throwing open a door on the
292 OLIVER TWIST.
fii'st floor ; " and as there are holes in the shutters, and
we never show Hghts to our neighbors, we'll set the can-
dle on the stairs. There ! "
With these 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 arm-chair, and an old couch or sofa without cov-
ering, which stood behind the door. Upon this piece of
furniture, the stranger sat himself with the air of a weary
man ; and the Jew, drawing up the arm-chair opposite,
they sat face to face. It was not quite dark, 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 words here and there, a hstener might
easily have perceived that Fagin appeared to be defend-
ing 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 the 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 sneak-
ing, snivelling pickpocket of him at once ? "
" Only hear him ! " exclaimed the Jew, shrugging his
" 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,
OLIVER TWIST. 293
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 ? " in-
quired the Jew, humbly.
" Mine," rephed 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 inter-
ests of both should be consulted ; is it, my good friend ? "
" What then ? " demanded Monks.
" I saw it was not easy to train him to the business,"
replied the Jew ; " he was not like other boys in the
" 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," pur-
sued the Jew, anxiously watching the countenance of his
companion. " His hand was not in. I had nothing to
frighten him with ; which we always must have in the
beginning, or we labor 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 favor 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
294 OLIVER TWIST.
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 ! " cried the Jew, grasping the coward round
the body, with both arms, as he sprung to his feet.
« Where ? "
" Yonder ! " replied the man, glaring at the opposite
wall. " The shadow ! I saw the shadow of a woman,
in a cloak and bonnet, pass along the wainscot like a
The Jew released his hold ; and they rushed tumultu-
ously 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."
OLIVER TWIST. 295
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 de-
scended into the passage, and thence into the cellars
below. The green damp hung upon the low walls ; and
the tracks of the snail and slug glistened in the light of
the candle ; but all was still as death.
" What do you think now ? " said the Jew, when they
had regained the passage. "Besides ourselves, there's not
a creature in the house except Toby and the boys ; and
they're safe enough. See here ! "
As a proof of the fact, the Jew drew forth two keys
from his pocket ; and explained, that when he first went
down-stairs, he had locked them in, to prevent any in-
trusion 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, now, he gave vent
to several very grim laughs, and confessed it could only
have been his excited imagination. He declined any re-
newal of the conversation, however, for that night : sud-
denly remembering that it was past one o'clock. And
so the amiable couple parted.
296 OLIVER TWIST.
ATONES FOR THE UNPOLITENESS OF A FORMER CHAP-
TER ; WHICH DESERTED A LADY, MOST UNCEREMO-
As it would be by no means seemly in a humble au-
thor to keep so mighty a personage as a beadle waiting,
with his back to the fire, and the skirts of his coat gath-
ered up under his arms, until such time as it might suit
his pleasure to reheve him ; and as it would still less be-
come 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 quar-
ter, 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 — has-
tens to pay them that respect which their position de-
mands, 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
elucidative of the position, that a beadle can do no
OLIVER TWIST. 297
wrong : which could not fail to have been both pleas-
urable 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 pre-
pared to show, that a beadle properly constituted : that
is to say, a parochial beadle, attached to a parochial work-
house, 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 in-
ferior degree), lay the remotest sustainable claim.
Mr. Bumble had re-counted the tea-spoons, re-weighed
the sugar-tongs, made a closer inspection of the milk-pot,
and ascertained to a nicety the exact condition of the
furniture, doAvn 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. Cor-
ney 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. Cor-
ney's chest of drawers.
Having listened at the key-hole, to assure himself that
nobody was approaching the chamber, Mr. Bumble, be-
ginning at the bottom, proceeded to make himself ac-
quainted 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
298 OLIVER TWIST.
yield him exceeding satisfaction. Arriving, in course of
time, at the right-hand corner drawer (in which was the
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, 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 pleas-
ant 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 her-
self 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. Bum-
ble, in his alarm, could not immediately think of the
word " tenter-hooks," 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 him-
self, 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
OLIVER TWIST. 299
couldn't, — oil ! The top shelf in the right-hand corner
— oh ! " Uttering these words, the good lady pointed,
distractedly, to the cupboard, and underwent a convul-
sion from internal spasms. Mr. Bumble rushed to the
closet ; and, snatching a pint green-glass bottle from the
shelf thus incoherently indicated, filled a teacup 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
" 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.
" 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. Bum-
ble had illustrated the position by removing his left arm
300 OLIVER TWIST.
from the "back of Mrs. Cornej's chair, where it had
previously rested, to Mrs. Corney's apron-string, round
which it gradually became entwined.
" We are all weak creeturs," said Mr. Bumble.
Mrs. Corney sighed.
" Don't sigh, Mrs. Corney," said Mr. Bumble.
" I can't help it," said Mrs. Corney. And she sighed
" 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," rejoined 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. Cor-
ney'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 return-
ing the pressure.
" Coals, candles, and house-rent free," said Mr. Bum-
ble. " Oh, Mrs. Corney, Avhat a Angel you are ! "
The lady was not proof against this burst of feeling.
She sunk into Mr. Bumble's arms ; and that gentleman,
in his agitation, imprinted a passionate kiss upon her
" Such porochial perfection ! " exclaimed Mr. Bumble,
rapturously. " You know that Mr. Slout is worse to-
night, my fascinator ? "
OLIVER TWIST. oOl
" Yes," replied Mrs. Corney, bashfully.
" He can't live a week, the doctor says," pursued Mr.
Bumble. " He is the master of this establishment ; his
death will cause a wacancy ; that wacancy must be filled
up. Oh, Mrs. Corney, what a prospect this opens ! What
a opportunity for a joining of hearts and house-keepings !"
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 dar-
ling 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 teacupful 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. Bum-
ble with the old woman's decease.
" Very good," said that gentleman, sipping his pepper-
mint. " I'll call at Sowerberry's as I go home, and tell
him to send to-morrow morning. Was it that as fright-
ened you, love ? "
" It wasn't anything particular, dear," said the lady,
" It must have been something, love," urged Mr. Bum-
ble. " Won't you tell your own B. ? "
" Not now," rejoined the lady ; " one of these days.
After we're married, dear."
302 OLIVER TWIST.
" After we're married ! " exclaimed Mr. Bumble. " It
wasn't any impudence from any of them male paupers
" No, no, love ! " interposed tlie lady, hastily.
" If I thought it was," continued Mr. Bumble ; " if I
thought as any one of 'em had dared to lift his wulgar
eyes to that lovely countenance "
" They wouldn't have dared to do it, love," responded
"■ They had better not ! " said Mr. Bumble, clenching
his fist. " Let me see any man, porochial, or extra-poro-
chial, 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 ou
his cocked-hat ; and, having exchanged a long and affec-
tionate 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 oJEfice of workhouse-master with needful acerbity.
Assured of his qualifications, Mr. Bumble left the build-
ing 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
OLR'ER TWIST. 303
physical exertion than is necessary to a convenient per-
formance of the two functions of eating and drinking,
the shop was not closed, although it was past the usual
hour of shutting up. Mr. Bumble tapped with his cane
on the counter several times ; but, attracting no atten-
tion, and beholding a light shining through the glass-win-
dow of the little parlor at the back of the shop, he made
bold to peep in and see what was going forward ; and,
when he saw what ivas going forward, he w^as not a little
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, IVIr.
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 oys-
ters from a barrel : which Mr. Claypole condescended to
swallow, with remarkable avidity. A more than ordi-
nary redness in the region of the young gentleman's
nose, and a kind of fixed wink in his right eye, denoted
that he was in a slight degree intoxicated ; these symp-
toms were confirmed by the intense relish with which he
took his oysters, for which nothing but a strong apprecia-
tion of their cooling properties, in cases of internal fever,
could have sufiiciently accounted.
" Here's a delicious fat one, Noah, dear ! " said Char-
lotte ; " 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 'era should ever make you feel uncom-
fortable ; isn't it, Charlotte ? "
" It's quite a cruelty," said Charlotte.
304 OLIVER TWIST.
" So it is," acquiesced Mr. Claypole. " A'n't yer fond
of oysters ? "
" Not overmuch," replied Charlotte. " I like to see
you eat 'em, Noah dear, better than eating 'em myself."
" Lor' ! " said Noah, reflectively ; " how queer ! "
" Have another," said Charlotte. " Here's one with
such a beautiful, delicate beard ! "
" I can't manage any more," said Noah. " I'm very
sorry. Come here, Charlotte, and I'll kiss yer."
" What ! " said Mr. Bumble, bursting into the room.
" Say that again, sir."
Charlotte uttered a scream, and hid her face in her
apron. Mr. Claypole, without making any further change
in his 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 indigna-
tion. " Faugh ! "
" I didn't mean to do it ! " said Noah, blubbering.
" She's always a-kissing of me, whether I like it, or not."
" Oh, Noah," cried Charlotte, reproachfully.
" Yer are ; yer know yer are ! " retorted Noah. " She's
always a-doing 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 your-
self down-stairs, ma'am. Noah, you shut up the shop ;
say another word till your master comes home, at your
peril ; and, when he does come home, tell him that Mr.
Bumble said he was to send a old woman's shell after
breakfast to-morrow morning. Do you hear, sir ? Kiss-
OLIVER TWIST. 305
ing ! " 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 abom-
inable courses under consideration, this country's ruined,
and the character of the peasantry gone forever ! " 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.
306 OLIVER TWIST.
LOOKS AFTER OLIVER, AND PROCEEDS WITH HIS AD-
" Wolves tear your throats ! " muttered Sikes, grind-
ing 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 neighboring dogs, roused
by the sound of the alarm-bell, resounded in every direc-
"Stop, you white-livered hound!" cried the robber,
shouting after Toby Crackit, who, making the best use
of his long legs, was already ahead. " Stop ! "
The repetition of the word, brought Toby to a dead
stand-still. For he was not quite satisfied that he was
beyond the range of pistol-shot ; and Sikes was in no
mood to be played with.
" Bear a hand with the boy," cried Sikes, beckoning
furiously to his confederate. " Come back ! "
Toby made a show of returning ; but ventured, in a
OLIVER TWIST. 307
low voice, broken for want of breath, to intimate consid-
erable reluctance as he came slowly along.
" Quicker ! " cried Sikes^ laying the boy in a dry ditch
at his feet, 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 round ; threw over
the prostrate form of Oliver, the cape in which he had
been hurriedly muffled ; ran along the front of the
hedge, as if to distract the attention of those behind,
from the spot where the boy lay ; paused, for a second,
before another hedge which met it at right angles ; and
whirling his pistol high into the air, cleared it at a
bound, and was gone.
" Ho, ho, there ! " cried a tremulous voice in the
rear. " 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 'medi-
ately go home again."
308 OLIVER TWIST.
" I am agreeable to anything which is agreeable to
Mr. Giles," said a shorter man ; who was by no means
of a slim figure, and who was very pale in the face, and
very polite : as frightened men frequently are.
" I shouldn't wish to appear ill-mannered, gentlemen,"
said the third, who had called the dogs back, " Mr. Giles
ought to know."
" 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 a'n'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
" 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, /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
OLIVER TWIST. 309
once owned that he was afraid ; upon which, they all
three faced ai)out, and ran back again with the complet-
est unanimity, until Mr. Giles (who had the shortest
wind of the party, and was encumbered with a pitch-
fork) 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 pre-
sentiment; 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
" 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 sud-
denly 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 pre-
cise moment. It was quite obvious, therefore, that it
was the gate ; especially as there was no doubt regard-
ing the time at which the change had taken place, be-
cause 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 out-house, and who had been roused,
together with his two mongrel curs, to join in the pursuit.
ISIr. Giles acted in the double capacity of butler and
310 OLIVER TWIST.
steward to the old ladj of the mansion ; and Brittles
was a lad of all-work : who, having entered her service
a mere child, was treated as a promising young boy
still, though he was something past thirty.
Encouraging each other with such converse as this ;
but, keeping very close together, notwithstanding, and
looking apprehensively 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, it 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 unwhole-
some 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 grad-
ually 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.
OLITEPw TWIST. 311
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 use-
less at his side : and the bandage was saturated with
blood. He was so weak, that he could scarcely raise
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 sick-
ness 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, never-
theless, 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 fall-
ing, he found that he was talking to them. Then he
was alone with Sikes, plodding on, as they had done, the
previous day ; and as shadowy people passed them, he
felt the robber's grasp upon his wrist. Suddenly, he
started back at the report of fire-arms ; and there rose
into the air, loud cries and shouts ; hghts gleamed before
bis eyes ; and all was noise and tumult, as some unseen
hand bore him hurriedly away. Through all these
rapid visions, there ran an undefined, uneasy conscious-
312 OLIVER TWIST.
ness of pain, which wearied and tormented him, in-
Thus he staggered on, creeping, almost mechanically,
between the bars of gates, or through hedge-gaps as they
came in his way, until he reached a road. Here the
rain began to fall, so heavily, that it roused him.
He looked about, and saw that at no great distance
there was a house, which perhaps he could reach. Pity-
ing 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 same house they had attempted to rob.
Oliver felt such fear come over him when he recog-
nized the place, that, for the instant, he forgot the agony
of his wound, and thought only of flight. Fhght ! 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 ; chmbed the steps ; knocked
faintly at the door ; and, his whole strength failing him,
sunk down against one of the pillars of the little portico.
It happened that about this time, Mr. Giles, Brittles,
and the tinker, were recruiting themselves, after the
fatigues and terrors of the night, with tea and sundries,
OLIVER TWIST. 313
in the kitchen. Not that it was Mr. Giles's habit to
admit to too great famiharity the humbler servants : tow-
ards whom it was rather his wont to deport himself with
a lofty affability, which, while it gratified, could not fail
to remind them of his superior position in society. But
death, fires, and burglary, make all men equals ; so Mr.
Giles sat with his legs stretched out before the kitchen
fender, leaning his left arm on the table, while, with his
right, he illustrated a circumstantial and minute account
of the robbery, to which his hearers (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 comer of the table-cloth over him
to imitate bedclothes,) 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 Brit-
tles, 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
" More like the noise of powdering an 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
table-cloth, " sat up in bed ; and listened."
314 OLIVER TWIST.
The cook and housemaid simultaneously ejaculated
" Lor' ! " and drew their chairs closer together.
" I heerd it now, quite apparent," resumed Mr. Giles.
" ' Somebody,' I says, ' is forcing of a door, or window ;
what's to be done ? 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 unmiti-
" I tossed off the clothes," said Giles, throwing away
the table-cloth, and looking very hard at the cook
and housemaid, " got softly out of bed ; drew on a pair
" 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 up-stairs with the plate-basket ;
and walked on tiptoes to his room. 'Brittles,' I says,
when I had woke him, ' don't be frightened ! ' "
" So you did," observed Brittles, in a low voice.
" ' We're dead men, I think, Brittles,' I says," con-
tinued 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
" Brittles is right," said Mr. Giles, nodding his head,
OLIVER TWIST. 315
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
down-stairs in the pitch dark, — as it might be so."
Mr. Giles had risen from his seat, and taken two steps
with his eyes shut, to accompany his description with
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."
" 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 pres-
ence 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 up-stairs ; with the dogs in front ; and
316 OLIVER TWIST.
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 out-
side, that they were strong in numbers ; and by a mas-
ter-stroke of policy, 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, speech-
less 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
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 (fortu-
nately not the broken limb) lugged him straight into
the hall, and deposited him at full length on the floor
" 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 his
hand to the side of his mouth, so that his voice might
travel the better.
The two women-servants ran up- stairs to carry the
OLIVER TWIST. 317
intelligence that Mr. Giles had captured a robber ; and
the tinker busied himself in endeavoring 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
" Giles ! " whispered the voice from the stair-head.
" I'm here, miss," replied Mr. Giles. " Don't be
frightened, miss ; I a'n't much injured. He didn't make
a very desperate resistance, miss ! I was soon too many
" Hush ! " rephed 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 inde-
" 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
young lady. " Wait quietly one instant, while I speak
With a footstep as soft and gentle as the voice, the
speaker tripped away. She soon returned, with the
direction that the wounded person was to be carried,
carefully, up-stairs to Mr. Giles's room ; and that Brit-
tles 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 ? "
318 OLIVER TWIST.
" Not now for the world," replied the young ladj.
" Poor fellow ! Oh ! treat him kindly, Giles, for my
The old servant looked up at the speaker as she turned
away, with a glance as proud and admiring as if she had
been his own child. Then, bending over Oliver, he
helped to carry him up-stairs, with the care and solici-
tude of a woman.
END OF VOL. I.