Oliver Twist by Charles Dickens



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Brownlow; 'and that is, that I really never, without actual
experience, could have believed--'

'Hold your tongue, sir!' said Mr. Fang, peremptorily.

'I will not, sir!' replied the old gentleman.

'Hold your tongue this instant, or I'll have you turned out of


the office!' said Mr. Fang. 'You're an insolent impertinent
fellow. How dare you bully a magistrate!'

'What!' exclaimed the old gentleman, reddening.

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

Mr. Brownlow's indignaton was greatly roused; but reflecting


perhaps, that he might only injure the boy by giving vent to it,
he suppressed his feelings and submitted to be sworn at once.

'Now,' said Fang, 'what's the charge against this boy? What have


you got to say, sir?'

'I was standing at a bookstall--' Mr. Brownlow began.

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

The policeman, with becoming humility, related how he had taken


the charge; how he had searched Oliver, and found nothing on his
person; and how that was all he knew about it.

'Are there any witnesses?' inquired Mr. Fang.

'None, your worship,' replied the policeman.

Mr. Fang sat silent for some minutes, and then, turning round to


the prosecutor, said in a towering passion.

'Do you mean to state what your complaint against this boy is,


man, or do you not? You have been sworn. Now, if you stand
there, refusing to give evidence, I'll punish you for disrespect
to the bench; I will, by--'

By what, or by whom, nobody knows, for the clerk and jailor


coughed very loud, just at the right moment; and the former
dropped a heavy book upon the floor, thus preventing the word
from being heard--accidently, 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 had saw him
running away; and expressing his hope that, if the magistrate
should believe him, although not actually the thief, to be
connected with the thieves, he would deal as leniently with him
as justice would allow.

'He has been hurt already,' said the old gentleman in conclusion.

'And I fear,' he added, with great energy, looking towards the
bar, 'I really fear that he is ill.'

'Oh! yes, I dare say!' said Mr. Fang, with a sneer. 'Come, none


of your tricks here, you young vagabond; they won't do. What's
your name?'

Oliver tried to reply but his tongue failed him. He was deadly


pale; and the whole place seemed turning round and round.

'What's your name, you hardened scoundrel?' demanded Mr. Fang.


'Officer, what's his name?'

This was addressed to a bluff old fellow, in a striped waistcoat,


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

'He says his name's Tom White, your worship,' said the


kind-hearted thief-taker.

'Oh, he won't speak out, won't he?' said Fang. 'Very well, very


well. Where does he live?'

'Where he can, your worship,' replied the officer; again


pretending to receive Oliver's answer.

'Has he any parents?' inquired Mr. Fang.

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

At this point of the inquiry, Oliver raised his head; and,


looking round with imploring eyes, murmured a feeble prayer for a
draught of water.

'Stuff and nonsense!' said Mr. Fang: 'don't try to make a fool


of me.'

'I think he really is ill, your worship,' remonstrated the


officer.

'I know better,' said Mr. Fang.

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

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

Oliver availed himself of the kind permission, and fell to the
floor in a fainting fit. The men in the office looked at each
other, but no one dared to stir.

'I knew he was shamming,' said Fang, as if this were


incontestable proof of the fact. 'Let him lie there; he'll soon
be tired of that.'

'How do you propose to deal with the case, sir?' inquired the


clerk in a low voice.

'Summarily,' replied Mr. Fang. 'He stands committed for three


months--hard labour of course. Clear the office.'

The door was opened for this purpose, and a couple of men were


preparing to carry the insensible boy to his cell; when an
elderly man of decent but poor appearance, clad in an old suit of
black, rushed hastily into the office, and advanced towards the
bench.

'Stop, stop! don't take him away! For Heaven's sake stop a


moment!' cried the new comer, breathless with haste.

Although the presiding Genii in such an office as this, exercise


a summary and arbitrary power over the liberties, the good name,
the character, almost the lives, of Her Majesty's subjects,
expecially 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.(Footnote: Or were virtually, then.)
Mr. Fang was consequently not a little indignant to see an
unbidden guest enter in such irreverent disorder.

'What is this? Who is this? Turn this man out. Clear the


office!' cried Mr. Fang.

'I WILL speak,' cried the man; 'I will not be turned out. I saw


it all. I keep the book-stall. I demand to be sworn. I will not
be put down. Mr. Fang, you must hear me. You must not refuse,
sir.'

The man was right. His manner was determined; and the matter was


growing rather too serious to be hushed up.

'Swear the man,' growled Mr. Fang. with a very ill grace. 'Now,


man, what have you got to say?'

'This,' said the man: 'I saw three boys: two others and the


prisoner here: loitering on the opposite side of the way, when
this gentleman was reading. The robbery was committed by another
boy. I saw it done; and I saw that this boy was perfectly amazed
and stupified by it.' Having by this time recovered a little
breath, the worthy book-stall keeper proceeded to relate, in a
more coherent manner the exact circumstances of the robbery.

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

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

'The prosecutor was reading, was he?' inquired Fang, after


another pause.

'Yes,' replied the man. 'The very book he has in his hand.'

'Oh, that book, eh?' said Fang. 'Is it paid for?'

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

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

'A nice person to prefer a charge against a poor boy!' said Fang,


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

'D--n me!' cried the old gentleman, bursting out with the rage he


had kept down so long, 'd--n me! I'll--'

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

Clear the office!'

The mandate was obeyed; and the indignant Mr. Brownlow was


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

'Poor boy, poor boy!' said Mr. Brownlow, bending over him. 'Call


a coach, somebody, pray. Directly!'

A coach was obtained, and Oliver having been carefully laid on


the seat, the old gentleman got in and sat himself on the other.

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

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

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


CHAPTER XII

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

The coach rattled away, over nearly the same ground as that which


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

But, for many days, Oliver remained insensible to all the


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

Weak, and thin, and pallid, he awoke at last from what seemed to


have been a long and troubled dream. Feebly raising himself in
the bed, with his head resting on his trembling arm, he looked
anxiously around.

'What room is this? Where have I been brought to?' said Oliver.


'This is not the place I went to sleep in.'

He uttered these words in a feeble voice, being very faint and


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

'Hush, my dear,' said the old lady softly. 'You must be very


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

'Save us!' said the old lady, with tears in her eyes. 'What a


grateful little dear it is. Pretty creetur! What would his
mother feel if she had sat by him as I have, and could see him
now!'

'Perhaps she does see me,' whispered Oliver, folding his hands


together; 'perhaps she has sat by me. I almost feel as if she
had.'

'That was the fever, my dear,' said the old lady mildly.

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

The old lady made no reply to this; but wiping her eyes first,


and her spectacles, which lay on the counterpane, afterwards, as
if they were part and parcel of those features, brought some cool
stuff for Oliver to drink; and then, patting him on the cheek,
told him he must lie very quiet, or he would be ill again.

So, Oliver kept very still; partly because he was anxious to obey


the kind old lady in all things; and partly, to tell the truth,
because he was completely exhausted with what he had already
said. He soon fell 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,
an't you?'

'No, sir,' answered Oliver.

'Hem!' said the gentleman. 'No, I know you're not. He is not
hungry, Mrs. Bedwin,' said the gentleman: looking very wise.

The old lady made a respectful inclination of the head, which


seemed to say that she thought the doctor was a very clever man.
The doctor appeared much of the same opinion himself.

'You feel sleepy, don't you, my dear?' said the doctor.

'No, sir,' replied Oliver.

'No,' said the doctor, with a very shrewd and satisfied look.


'You're not sleepy. Nor thirsty. Are you?'

'Yes, sir, rather thirsty,' answered Oliver.

'Just as I expected, Mrs. 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 curtsey. The doctor, after tasting the


cool stuff, and expressing a qualified approval of it, hurried
away: his boots creaking in a very important and wealthy manner
as he went downstairs.

Oliver dozed off again, soon after this; when he awoke, it was


nearly twelve o'clock. The old lady tenderly bade him good-night
shortly afterwards, and left him in charge of a fat old woman who
had just come: bringing with her, in a little bundle, a small
Prayer Book and a large 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, chequered at
frequent intervals with sundry tumblings forward, and divers
moans and chokings. These, however, had no worse effect than
causing her to rub her nose very hard, and then fall asleep
again.

And thus the night crept slowly on. Oliver lay awake for some


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

Gradually, he fell into that deep tranquil sleep which ease from


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

It had been bright day, for hours, when Oliver opened his eyes;


he felt cheerful and happy. The crisis of the disease was safely
past. He belonged to the world again.

In three days' time he was able to sit in an easy-chair, well


propped up with pillows; and, as he was still too weak to walk,
Mrs. Bedwin had him carried downstairs into the little
housekeeper's room, which belonged to her. Having him set, here,
by the fire-side, the good old lady sat herself down too; and,
being in a state of considerable delight at seeing him so much
better, forthwith began to cry most violently.

'Never mind me, my dear,' 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. Brownlow may come in to see you this
morning; and we must get up our best looks, because the better we
look, the more he'll be pleased.' And with this, the old lady
applied herself to warming up, in a little saucepan, a basin full
of broth: strong enough, Oliver thought, to furnish an ample
dinner, when reduced to the regulation strength, for three
hundred and fifty paupers, at the lowest computation.

'Are you fond of pictures, dear?' inquired the old lady, seeing


that Oliver had fixed his eyes, most intently, on a portrait
which hung against the wall; just opposite his chair.

'I don't quite know, ma'am,' said Oliver, without taking his eyes


from the canvas; 'I have seen so few that I hardly know. What a
beautiful, mild face that lady's is!'

'Ah!' said the old lady, 'painters always make ladies out


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

'Is--is that a likeness, ma'am?' said Oliver.

'Yes,' said the old lady, looking up for a moment from the broth;
'that's a portrait.'

'Whose, ma'am?' asked Oliver.

'Why, really, my dear, I don't know,' answered the old lady in a
good-humoured manner. 'It's not a likeness of anybody that you
or I know, I expect. It seems to strike your fancy, dear.'

'It is so pretty,' replied Oliver.

'Why, sure you're not afraid of it?' said the old lady: observing
in great surprise, the look of awe with which the child regarded
the painting.

'Oh no, no,' returned Oliver quickly; 'but the eyes look so


sorrowful; and where I sit, they seem fixed upon me. It makes my
heart beat,' added Oliver in a low voice, 'as if it was alive,
and wanted to speak to me, but couldn't.'

'Lord save us!' exclaimed the old lady, starting; 'don't talk in


that way, child. You're weak and nervous after your illness.
Let me wheel your chair round to the other side; and then you
won't see it. There!' said the old lady, suiting the action to
the word; 'you don't see it now, at all events.'

Oliver DID see it in his mind's eye as distinctly as if he had


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

Now, the old gentleman came in as brisk as need be; but, he had


no sooner raised his spectacles on his forehead, and thrust his
hands behind the skirts of his dressing-gown to take a good long
look at Oliver, than his countenance underwent a very great
variety of odd contortions. Oliver looked very worn and shadowy
from sickness, and made an ineffectual attempt to stand up, out
of respect to his benefactor, which terminated in his sinking
back into the chair again; and the fact is, if the truth must be
told, that Mr. Brownlow's heart, being large enough for any six
ordinary old gentlemen of humane disposition, forced a supply of
tears into his eyes, by some hydraulic process which we are not
sufficiently philosophical to be in a condition to explain.

'Poor boy, poor boy!' said Mr. Brownlow, clearing his throat.


'I'm rather hoarse this morning, Mrs. Bedwin. I'm afraid I have
caught cold.'

'I hope not, sir,' said Mrs. Bedwin. 'Everything you have had,


has been well aired, sir.'

'I don't know, Bedwin. I don't know,' said Mr. Brownlow; 'I


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

'Very happy, sir,' replied Oliver. 'And very grateful indeed,


sir, for your goodness to me.'

'Good by,' said Mr. Brownlow, stoutly. 'Have you given him any


nourishment, Bedwin? Any slops, eh?'

'He has just had a basin of beautiful strong broth, sir,' replied


Mrs. Bedwin: drawing herself up slightly, and laying strong
emphasis on the last word: to intimate that between slops, and
broth will compounded, there existed no affinity or connection
whatsoever.

'Ugh!' said Mr. Brownlow, with a slight shudder; 'a couple of


glasses of port wine would have done him a great deal more good.
Wouldn't they, Tom White, eh?'

'My name is Oliver, sir,' replied the little invalid: with a


look of great astonishment.

'Oliver,' said Mr. Brownlow; 'Oliver what? Oliver White, eh?'

'No, sir, Twist, Oliver Twist.'

'Queer name!' said the old gentleman. 'What made you tell the


magistrate your name was White?'

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

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

'Some mistake,' said Mr. Brownlow. But, although his motive for


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

'I hope you are not angry with me, sir?' said Oliver, raising his


eyes beseechingly.

'No, no,' replied the old gentleman. 'Why! what's this? Bedwin,


look there!'

As he spoke, he pointed hastily to the picture over Oliver's


head, and then to the boy's face. There was its living copy. The
eyes, the head, the mouth; every feature was the same. The
expression was, for the instant, so precisely alike, that the
minutest line seemed copied with startling accuracy!

Oliver knew not the cause of this sudden exclamation; for, not


being strong enough to bear the start it gave him, he fainted
away. A weakness on his part, which affords the narrative an
opportunity of relieving the reader from suspense, in behalf of
the two young pupils of the Merry Old Gentleman; and of
recording--

That when the Dodger, and his accomplished friend Master Bates,


joined in the hue-and-cry which was raised at Oliver's heels, in
consequence of their executing an illegal conveyance of Mr.
Brownlow's personal property, as has been already described, they
were actuated by a very laudable and becoming regard for
themselves; and 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 action should tend to exalt them in the
opinion of all public and patriotic men, in almost as great a
degree as this strong proof of their anxiety for their own
preservation and safety goes to corroborate and confirm the
little code of laws which certain profound and sound-judging
philosophers have laid down as the main-springs of all Nature's
deeds and actions: the said philosophers very wisely reducing
the good lady's proceedings to matters of maxim and theory: and,
by a very neat and pretty compliment to her exalted wisdom and
understanding, putting entirely out of sight any considerations
of heart, or generous impulse and feeling. For, these are matters
totally beneath a female who is acknowledged by universal
admission to be far above the numerous little foibles and
weaknesses of her sex.

If I wanted any further proof of the strictly philosophical


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

It was not until the two boys had scoured, with great rapidity,


through a most intricate maze of narrow streets and courts, that
they ventured to halt beneath a low and dark archway. Having
remained silent here, just long enough to recover breath to
speak, Master Bates uttered an exclamation of amusement and
delight; and, bursting into an uncontrollable fit of laughter,
flung himself upon a doorstep, and rolled thereon in a transport
of mirth.

'What's the matter?' inquired the Dodger.

'Ha! ha! ha!' roared Charley Bates.

'Hold your noise,' remonstrated the Dodger, looking cautiously


round. 'Do you want to be grabbed, stupid?'

'I can't help it,' said Charley, 'I can't help it! To see him


splitting away at that pace, and cutting round the corners, and
knocking up again' the posts, and starting on again as if he was
made of iron as well as them, and me with the wipe in my pocket,
singing out arter him--oh, my eye!' The vivid imagination of
Master Bates presented the scene before him in too strong
colours. As he arrived at this apostrophe, he again rolled upon
the door-step, and laughed louder than before.

'What'll Fagin say?' inquired the Dodger; taking advantage of the


next interval of breathlessness on the part of his friend to
propound the question.

'What?' repeated Charley Bates.

'Ah, what?' said the Dodger.

'Why, what should he say?' inquired Charley: stopping rather


suddenly in his merriment; for the Dodger's manner was
impressive. 'What should he say?'

Mr. Dawkins whistled for a couple of minutes; then, taking off


his hat, scratched his head, and nodded thrice.

'What do you mean?' said Charley.

'Toor rul lol loo, gammon and spinnage, the frog he wouldn't, and
high cockolorum,' said the Dodger: with a slight sneer on his
intellectual countenance.

This was explanatory, but not satisfactory. Master Bates felt it


so; and again said, 'What do you mean?'

The Dodger made no reply; but putting his hat on again, and


gathering the skirts of his long-tailed coat under his arm,
thrust his tongue into his cheek, slapped the bridge of his nose
some half-dozen times in a familiar but expressive manner, and
turning on his heel, slunk down the court. Master Bates
followed, with a thoughtful countenance.

The noise of footsteps on the creaking stairs, a few minutes


after the occurrence of this conversation, roused the merry old
gentleman as he sat over the fire with a saveloy and a small loaf
in his hand; a pocket-knife in his right; and a pewter pot on the
trivet. There was a rascally smile on his white face as he
turned round, and looking sharply out from under his thick red
eyebrows, bent his ear towards the door, and listened.

'Why, how's this?' muttered the Jew: changing countenance; 'only


two of 'em? Where's the third? They can't have got into
trouble. Hark!'

The footsteps approached nearer; they reached the landing. The


door was slowly opened; and the Dodger and Charley Bates entered,
closing it behind them.

CHAPTER XIII

SOME NEW ACQUAINTANCES ARE INTRODUCED TO THE INTELLIGENT READER,
CONNECTED WITH WHOM VARIOUS PLEASANT MATTERS ARE RELATED,
APPERTAINING TO THIS HISTORY

'Where's Oliver?' said the Jew, rising with a menacing look.


'Where's the boy?'

The young thieves eyed their preceptor as if they were alarmed at


his violence; and looked uneasily at each other. But they made
no reply.

'What's become of the boy?' said the Jew, seizing the Dodger


tightly by the collar, and threatening him with horrid
imprecations. 'Speak out, or I'll throttle you!'

Mr. Fagin looked so very much in earnest, that Charley Bates, who


deemed it prudent in all cases to be on the safe side, and who
conceived it by no means improbable that it might be his turn to
be throttled second, dropped upon his knees, and raised a loud,
well-sustained, and continuous roar--something between a mad bull
and a speaking trumpet.

'Will you speak?' thundered the Jew: shaking the Dodger so much


that his keeping in the big coat at all, seemed perfectly
miraculous.

'Why, the traps have got him, and that's all about it,' said the


Dodger, sullenly. 'Come, let go o' me, will you!' And,
swinging himself, at one jerk, clean out of the big coat, which
he left in the Jew's hands, the Dodger snatched up the toasting
fork, and made a pass at the merry old gentleman's waistcoat;
which, if it had taken effect, would have let a little more
merriment out, than could have been easily replaced.

The Jew stepped back in this emergency, with more agility than


could have been anticipated in a man of his apparent decrepitude;
and, seizing up the pot, prepared to hurl it at his assailant's
head. But Charley Bates, at this moment, calling his attention
by a perfectly terrific howl, he suddenly altered its
destination, and flung it full at that young gentleman.

'Why, what the blazes is in the wind now!' growled a deep voice.


'Who pitched that 'ere at me? It's well it's the beer, and not
the pot, as hit me, or I'd have settled somebody. I might have
know'd, as nobody but an infernal, rich, plundering, thundering
old Jew could afford to throw away any drink but water--and not
that, unless he done the River Company every quarter. Wot's it
all about, Fagin? D--me, if my neck-handkercher an't lined with
beer! Come in, you sneaking warmint; wot are you stopping
outside for, as if you was ashamed of your master! Come in!'

The man who growled out these words, was a stoutly-built fellow


of about five-and-thirty, in a black velveteen coat, very soiled
drab breeches, lace-up half boots, and grey cotton stockings
which inclosed a bulky pair of legs, with large swelling
calves;--the kind of legs, which in such costume, always look in
an unfinished and incomplete state without a set of fetters to
garnish them. He had a brown hat on his head, and a dirty
belcher handkerchief round his neck: with the long frayed ends
of which he smeared the beer from his face as he spoke. He
disclosed, when he had done so, a broad heavy countenance with a
beard of three days' growth, and two scowling eyes; one of which
displayed various parti-coloured symptoms of having been recently
damaged by a blow.

'Come in, d'ye hear?' growled this engaging ruffian.

A white shaggy dog, with his face scratched and torn in twenty
different places, skulked into the room.

'Why didn't you come in afore?' said the man. 'You're getting


too proud to own me afore company, are you? Lie down!'

This command was accompanied with a kick, which sent the animal


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

'What are you up to? Ill-treating the boys, you covetous,


avaricious, in-sa-ti-a-ble old fence?' said the man, seating
himself deliberately. 'I wonder they don't murder you! I would
if I was them. If I'd been your 'prentice, I'd have done it long
ago, and--no, I couldn't have sold you afterwards, for you're fit
for nothing but keeping as a curiousity of ugliness in a glass
bottle, and I suppose they don't blow glass bottles large
enough.'

'Hush! hush! Mr. Sikes,' said the Jew, trembling; 'don't speak so


loud!'

'None of your mistering,' replied the ruffian; 'you always mean


mischief when you come that. You know my name: out with it! I
shan't disgrace it when the time comes.'

'Well, well, then--Bill Sikes,' said the Jew, with abject


humility. 'You seem out of humour, Bill.'

'Perhaps I am,' replied Sikes; 'I should think you was rather out


of sorts too, unless you mean as little harm when you throw
pewter pots about, as you do when you blab and--'

'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 plentifully besprinkled, but which would be
quite unintelligible if they were recorded here, demanded a glass
of liquor.

'And mind you don't poison it,' said Mr. Sikes, laying his hat


upon the table.

This was said in jest; but if the speaker could have seen the


evil leer with which the Jew bit his pale lip as he 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 of three glasses of spirits, Mr. Sikes


condescended to take some notice of the young gentlemen; which
gracious act led to a conversation, in which the cause and manner
of Oliver's capture were circumstantially detailed, with such
alterations and improvements on the truth, as to the Dodger
appeared most advisable under the circumstances.

'I'm afraid,' said the Jew, 'that he may say something which will


get us into trouble.'

'That's very likely,' returned Sikes with a malicious grin.


'You're blowed upon, Fagin.'

'And I'm afraid, you see, added the Jew, speaking as if he had


not noticed the interruption; and regarding the other closely as
he did so,--'I'm afraid that, if the game was up with us, it
might be up with a good many more, and that it would come out
rather worse for you than it would for me, my dear.'

The man started, and turned round upon the Jew. But the old


gentleman's shoulders were shrugged up to his ears; and his eyes
were vacantly staring on the opposite wall.

There was a long pause. Every member of the respectable coterie


appeared plunged in his own reflections; not excepting the dog,
who by a certain malicious licking of his lips seemed to be
meditating an attack upon the legs of the first gentleman or lady
he might encounter in the streets when he went out.

'Somebody must find out wot's been done at the office,' said Mr.


Sikes in a much lower tone than he had taken since he came in.

The Jew nodded assent.

'If he hasn't peached, and is committed, there's no fear till he
comes out again,' said Mr. Sikes, 'and then he must be taken care
on. You must get hold of him somehow.'

Again the Jew nodded.

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

How long they might have sat and looked at each other, in a state


of uncertainty not the most pleasant of its kind, it is difficult
to guess. It is not necessary to make any guesses on the
subject, however; for the sudden entrance of the two young ladies
whom Oliver had seen on a former occasion, caused the
conversation to flow afresh.

'The very thing!' said the Jew. 'Bet will go; won't you, my


dear?'

'Wheres?' inquired the young lady.

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

It is due to the young lady to say that she did not positively


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

The Jew's countenance fell. He turned from this young lady, who


was gaily, not to say gorgeously attired, in a red gown, green
boots, and yellow curl-papers, to the other female.

'Nancy, my dear,' said the Jew in a soothing manner, 'what do YOU


say?'

'That it won't do; so it's no use a-trying it on, Fagin,' replied


Nancy.

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


manner.

'What I say, Bill,' replied the lady collectedly.

'Why, you're just the very person for it,' reasoned Mr. Sikes:
'nobody about here knows anything of you.'

'And as I don't want 'em to, neither,' replied Nancy in the same


composed manner, 'it's rather more no than yes with me, Bill.'

'She'll go, Fagin,' said Sikes.

'No, she won't, Fagin,' said Nancy.

'Yes, she will, Fagin,' said Sikes.

And Mr. Sikes was right. By dint of alternate threats, promises,
and bribes, the lady in question was ultimately prevailed upon to
undertake the commission. She was not, indeed, withheld by the
same considerations as her agreeable friend; for, having recently
removed into the neighborhood of Field Lane from the remote but
genteel suburb of Ratcliffe, she was not under the same
apprehension of being recognised by any of her numerous
acquaintance.

Accordingly, with a clean white apron tied over her gown, and her


curl-papers tucked up under a straw bonnet,--both articles of
dress being provided from the Jew's inexhaustible stock,--Miss
Nancy prepared to issue forth on her errand.

'Stop a minute, my dear,' said the Jew, producing, a little


covered basket. 'Carry that in one hand. It looks more
respectable, my dear.'

'Give her a door-key to carry in her t'other one, Fagin,' said


Sikes; 'it looks real and genivine like.'

'Yes, yes, my dear, so it does,' said the Jew, hanging a large


street-door key on the forefinger of the young lady's right hand.

'There; very good! Very good indeed, my dear!' said the Jew,


rubbing his hands.

'Oh, my brother! My poor, dear, sweet, innocent little brother!'


exclaimed Nancy, bursting into tears, and wringing the little
basket and the street-door key in an agony of distress. 'What
has become of him! Where have they taken him to! Oh, do have
pity, and tell me what's been done with the dear boy, gentlemen;
do, gentlemen, if you please, gentlemen!'

Having uttered those words in a most lamentable and heart-broken


tone: to the immeasurable delight of her hearers: Miss Nancy
paused, winked to the company, nodded smilingly round, and
disappeared.

'Ah, she's a clever girl, my dears,' said the Jew, turning round


to his young friends, and shaking his head gravely, as if in mute
admonition to them to follow the bright example they had just
beheld.

'She's a honour to her sex,' said Mr. Sikes, filling his glass,


and smiting the table with his enormous fist. 'Here's her
health, and wishing they was all like her!'

While these, and many other encomiums, were being passed on the


accomplished Nancy, that young lady made the best of her way to
the police-office; whither, notwithstanding a little natural
timidity consequent upon walking through the streets alone and
unprotected, she arrived in perfect safety shortly afterwards.

Entering by the back way, she tapped softly with the key at one


of the cell-doors, and listened. There was no sound within: so
she coughed and listened again. Still there was no reply: so
she spoke.

'Nolly, dear?' murmured Nancy in a gentle voice; 'Nolly?'

There was nobody inside but a miserable shoeless criminal, who
had been taken up for playing the flute, and who, the offence
against society having been clearly proved, had been very
properly committed by Mr. Fang to the House of Correction for one
month; with the appropriate and amusing remark that since he had
so much breath to spare, it would be more wholesomely expended on
the treadmill than in a musical instrument. He made no answer:
being occupied mentally bewailing the loss of the flute, which
had been confiscated for the use of the county: so Nancy passed
on to the next cell, and knocked there.

'Well!' cried a faint and feeble voice.

'Is there a little boy here?' inquired Nancy, with a preliminary
sob.

'No,' replied the voice; 'God forbid.'

This was a vagrant of sixty-five, who was going to prison for NOT
playing the flute; or, in other words, for begging in the
streets, and doing nothing for his livelihood. In the next cell
was another man, who was going to the same prison for hawking tin
saucepans without license; thereby doing something for his
living, in defiance of the Stamp-office.

But, as neither of these criminals answered to the name of


Oliver, or knew anything about him, Nancy made straight up to the
bluff officer in the striped waistcoat; and with the most piteous
wailings and lamentations, rendered more piteous by a prompt and
efficient use of the street-door key and the little basket,
demanded her own dear brother.

'I haven't got him, my dear,' said the old man.

'Where is he?' screamed Nancy, in a distracted manner.

'Why, the gentleman's got him,' replied the officer.

'What gentleman! Oh, gracious heavens! What gentleman?'
exclaimed Nancy.

In reply to this incoherent questioning, the old man informed the


deeply affected sister that Oliver had been taken ill in the
office, and discharged in consequence of a witness having proved
the robbery to have been committed by another boy, not in
custody; and that the prosecutor had carried him away, in an
insensible condition, to his own residence: of and concerning
which, all the informant knew was, that it was somewhere in
Pentonville, he having heard that word mentioned in the
directions to the coachman.

In a dreadful state of doubt and uncertainty, the agonised young


woman staggered to the gate, and then, exchanging her faltering
walk for a swift run, returned by the most devious and
complicated route she could think of, to the domicile of the Jew.

Mr. Bill Sikes no sooner heard the account of the expedition


delivered, than he very hastily called up the white dog, and,
putting on his hat, expeditiously departed: without devoting any
time to the formality of wishing the company good-morning.

'We must know where he is, my dears; he must be found,' said the


Jew greatly excited. 'Charley, do nothing but skulk about, till
you bring home some news of him! Nancy, my dear, I must have him
found. I trust to you, my dear,--to you and the Artful for
everything! Stay, stay,' added the Jew, unlocking a drawer with
a shaking hand; 'there's money, my dears. I shall shut up this
shop to-night. You'll know where to find me! Don't stop here a
minute. Not an instant, my dears!'

With these words, he pushed them from the room: and carefully


double-locking and barring the door behind them, drew from its
place of concealment the box which he had unintentionally
disclosed to Oliver. Then, he hastily proceeded to dispose the
watches and jewellery beneath his clothing.

A rap at the door startled him in this occupation. 'Who's


there?' he cried in a shrill tone.

'Me!' replied the voice of the Dodger, through the key-hole.

'What 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 hurried downstairs


after his companions.

'He has not peached so far,' said the Jew as he pursued his


occupation. 'If he means to blab us among his new friends, we
may stop his mouth yet.'

CHAPTER XIV

COMPRISING FURTHER PARTICULARS OF OLIVER'S STAY AT MR.
BROWNLOW'S, WITH THE REMARKABLE PREDICTION WHICH ONE MR. GRIMWIG
UTTERED CONCERNING HIM, WHEN HE WENT OUT ON AN ERRAND

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
reference to Oliver's history or prospects, but was confined to
such topics as might amuse without exciting him. He was still
too weak to get up to breakfast; but, when he came down into the
housekeeper's room next day, his first act was to cast an eager
glance at the wall, in the hope of again looking on the face of
the beautiful lady. His expectations were disappointed, however,
for the picture had been removed.

'Ah!' said the housekeeper, watching the direction of Oliver's


eyes. 'It is gone, you see.'

'I see it is ma'am,' replied Oliver. 'Why have they taken it


away?'

'It has been taken down, child, because Mr. Brownlow said, that


as it seemed to worry you, perhaps it might prevent your getting
well, you know,' rejoined the old lady.

'Oh, no, indeed. It didn't worry me, ma'am,' said Oliver. 'I


liked to see it. I quite loved it.'

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


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 endeavoured to think no more of the subject just
then; so he listened attentively to a great many stories she told
him, about an amiable and handsome daughter of hers, who was
married to an amiable and handsome man, and lived in the country;
and about a son, who was clerk to a merchant in the West Indies;
and who was, also, such a good young man, and wrote such dutiful
letters home four times a-year, that it brought the tears into
her eyes to talk about them. When the old lady had expatiated, a
long time, on the excellences of her children, and the merits of
her kind good husband besides, who had been dead and gone, poor
dear soul! just six-and-twenty years, it was time to have tea.
After tea she began to teach Oliver cribbage: which he learnt as
quickly as she could teach: and at which game they played, with
great interest and gravity, until it was time for the invalid to
have some warm wine and water, with a slice of dry toast, and
then to go cosily to bed.

They were happy days, those of Oliver's recovery. Everything was


so quiet, and neat, and orderly; everybody so kind and gentle;
that after the noise and turbulence in the midst of which he had
always lived, it seemed like Heaven itself. He was no sooner
strong enough to put his clothes on, properly, than Mr. Brownlow
caused a complete new suit, and a new cap, and a new pair of
shoes, to be provided for him. As Oliver was told that he might
do what he liked with the old clothes, he gave them to a servant
who had been very kind to him, and asked her to sell them to a
Jew, and keep the money for herself. This she very readily did;
and, as Oliver looked out of the parlour window, and saw the Jew
roll them up in his bag and walk away, he felt quite delighted to
think that they were safely gone, and that there was now no
possible danger of his ever being able to wear them again. They
were sad rags, to tell the truth; and Oliver had never had a new
suit before.

One evening, about a week after the affair of the picture, as he


was sitting talking to Mrs. Bedwin, there came a message down
from Mr. Brownlow, that if Oliver Twist felt pretty well, he
should like to see him in his study, and talk to him a little
while.

'Bless us, and save us! Wash your hands, and let me part your


hair nicely for you, child,' said Mrs. Bedwin. 'Dear heart
alive! If we had known he would have asked for you, we would
have put you a clean collar on, and made you as smart as
sixpence!'

Oliver did as the old lady bade him; and, although she lamented


grievously, meanwhile, that there was not even time to crimp the
little frill that bordered his shirt-collar; he looked so
delicate and handsome, despite that important personal advantage,
that she went so far as to say: looking at him with great
complacency from head to foot, that she really didn't think it
would have been possible, on the longest notice, to have made
much difference in him for the better.

Thus encouraged, Oliver tapped at the study door. On Mr.


Brownlow calling to him to come in, he found himself in a little
back room, quite full of books, with a window, looking into some
pleasant little gardens. There was a table drawn up before the
window, at which Mr. Brownlow was seated reading. When he saw
Oliver, he pushed the book away from him, and told him to come
near the table, and sit down. Oliver complied; marvelling where
the people could be found to read such a great number of books as
seemed to be written to make the world wiser. Which is still a
marvel to more experienced people than Oliver Twist, every day of
their lives.

'There are a good many books, are there not, my boy?' said Mr.


Brownlow, observing the curiosity with which Oliver surveyed the
shelves that reached from the floor to the ceiling.

'A great number, sir,' replied Oliver. 'I never saw so many.'

'You shall read them, if you behave well,' said the old gentleman
kindly; 'and you will like that, better than looking at the
outsides,--that is, some cases; because there are books of which
the backs and covers are by far the best parts.'

'I suppose they are those heavy ones, sir,' said Oliver, pointing


to some large quartos, with a good deal of gilding about the
binding.

'Not always those,' said the old gentleman, patting Oliver on the


head, and smiling as he did so; 'there are other equally heavy
ones, though of a much smaller size. How should you like to grow
up a clever man, and write books, eh?'

'I think I would rather read them, sir,' replied Oliver.

'What! wouldn't you like to be a book-writer?' said the old
gentleman.

Oliver considered a little while; and at last said, he should


think it would be a much better thing to be a book-seller; upon
which the old gentleman laughed heartily, and declared he had
said a very good thing. Which Oliver felt glad to have done,
though he by no means knew what it was.

'Well, well,' said the old gentleman, composing his features.


'Don't be afraid! We won't make an author of you, while there's
an honest trade to be learnt, or brick-making to turn to.'

'Thank you, sir,' said Oliver. At the earnest manner of his


reply, the old gentleman laughed again; and said something about
a curious instinct, which Oliver, not understanding, paid no very
great attention to.

'Now,' said Mr. Brownlow, speaking if possible in a kinder, but


at the same time in a much more serious manner, than Oliver had
ever known him assume yet, 'I want you to pay great attention, my
boy, to what I am going to say. I shall talk to you without any
reserve; because I am sure you are well able to understand me, as
many older persons would be.'

'Oh, don't tell you are going to send me away, sir, pray!'


exclaimed Oliver, alarmed at the serious tone of the old
gentleman's commencement! 'Don't turn me out of doors to wander
in the streets again. Let me stay here, and be a servant. Don't
send me back to the wretched place I came from. Have mercy upon
a poor boy, sir!'

'My dear child,' said the old gentleman, moved by the warmth of


Oliver's sudden appeal; 'you need not be afraid of my deserting
you, unless you give me cause.'

'I never, never will, sir,' interposed Oliver.

'I hope not,' rejoined the old gentleman. 'I do not think you
ever will. I have been deceived, before, in the objects whom I
have endeavoured to benefit; but I feel strongly disposed to
trust you, nevertheless; and I am more interested in your behalf
than I can well account for, even to myself. The persons on whom
I have bestowed my dearest love, lie deep in their graves; but,
although the happiness and delight of my life lie buried there
too, I have not made a coffin of my heart, and sealed it up,
forever, on my best affections. Deep affliction has but
strengthened and refined them.'

As the old gentleman said this in a low voice: more to himself


than to his companion: and as he remained silent for a short
time afterwards: Oliver sat quite still.

'Well, well!' said the old gentleman at length, in a more


cheerful tone, 'I only say this, because you have a young heart;
and knowing that I have suffered great pain and sorrow, you will
be more careful, perhaps, not to wound me again. You say you are
an orphan, without a friend in the world; all the inquiries I
have been able to make, confirm the statement. Let me hear your
story; where you come from; who brought you up; and how you got
into the company in which I found you. Speak the truth, and you
shall not be friendless while I live.'

Oliver's sobs checked his utterance for some minutes; when he was


on the point of beginning to relate how he had been brought up at
the farm, and carried to the workhouse by Mr. Bumble, a
peculiarly impatient little double-knock was heard at the
street-door: and the servant, running upstairs, announced Mr.
Grimwig.

'Is he coming up?' inquired Mr. Brownlow.

'Yes, sir,' replied the servant. 'He asked if there were any
muffins in the house; and, when I told him yes, he said he had
come to tea.'

Mr. Brownlow smiled; and, turning to Oliver, said that Mr.


Grimwig was an old friend of his, and he must not mind his being
a little rough in his manners; for he was a worthy creature at
bottom, as he had reason to know.

'Shall I go downstairs, sir?' inquired Oliver.

'No,' replied Mr. Brownlow, 'I would rather you remained here.'

At this moment, there walked into the room: supporting himself


by a thick stick: a stout old gentleman, rather lame in one leg,
who was dressed in a blue coat, striped waistcoat, nankeen
breeches and gaiters, and a broad-brimmed white hat, with the
sides turned up with green. A very small-plaited shirt frill
stuck out from his waistcoat; and a very long steel watch-chain,
with nothing but a key at the end, dangled loosely below it. The
ends of his white neckerchief were twisted into a ball about the
size of an orange; the variety of shapes into which his
countenance was twisted, defy description. He had a manner of
screwing his head on one side when he spoke; and of looking out
of the corners of his eyes at the same time: which irresistibly
reminded the beholder of a parrot. In this attitude, he fixed
himself, the moment he made his appearance; and, holding out a
small piece of orange-peel at arm's length, exclaimed, in a
growling, discontented voice.

'Look here! do you see this! Isn't it a most wonderful and


extraordinary thing that I can't call at a man's house but I find
a piece of this poor surgeon's friend on the staircase? I've been
lamed with orange-peel once, and I know orange-peel will be my
death, or I'll be content to eat my own head, sir!'

This was the handsome offer with which Mr. Grimwig backed and


confirmed nearly every assertion he made; and it was the more
singular in his case, because, even admitting for the sake of
argument, the possibility of scientific improvements being
brought to that pass which will enable a gentleman to eat his own
head in the event of his being so disposed, Mr. Grimwig's head
was such a particularly large one, that the most sanguine man
alive could hardly entertain a hope of being able to get through
it at a sitting--to put entirely out of the question, a very
thick coating of powder.

'I'll eat my head, sir,' repeated Mr. Grimwig, striking his stick


upon the ground. 'Hallo! what's that!' looking at Oliver, and
retreating a pace or two.

'This is young Oliver Twist, whom we were speaking about,' said


Mr. Brownlow.

Oliver bowed.

'You don't mean to say that's the boy who had the fever, I hope?'
said Mr. Grimwig, recoiling a little more. 'Wait a minute!
Don't speak! Stop--' continued Mr. Grimwig, abruptly, losing all
dread of the fever in his triumph at the discovery; 'that's the
boy who had the orange! If that's not the boy, sir, who had the
orange, and threw this bit of peel upon the staircase, I'll eat
my head, and his too.'

'No, no, he has not had one,' said Mr. Brownlow, laughing.


'Come! Put down your hat; and speak to my young friend.'

'I feel strongly on this subject, sir,' said the irritable old


gentleman, drawing off his gloves. 'There's always more or less
orange-peel on the pavement in our street; and I KNOW it's put
there by the surgeon's boy at the corner. A young woman stumbled
over a bit last night, and fell against my garden-railings;
directly she got up I saw her look towards his infernal red lamp
with the pantomime-light. "Don't go to him," I called out of the
window, "he's an assassin! A man-trap!" So he is. If he is
not--' Here the irascible old gentleman gave a great knock on
the ground with his stick; which was always understood, by his
friends, to imply the customary offer, whenever it was not
expressed in words. Then, still keeping his stick in his hand, he
sat down; and, opening a double eye-glass, which he wore attached
to a broad black riband, took a view of Oliver: who, seeing that
he was the object of inspection, coloured, and bowed again.

'That's the boy, is it?' said Mr. Grimwig, at length.

'That's the boy,' replied Mr. Brownlow.

'How are you, boy?' said Mr. Grimwig.

'A great deal better, thank you, sir,' replied Oliver.

Mr Brownlow, seeming to apprehend that his singular friend was


about to say something disagreeable, asked Oliver to step
downstairs and tell Mrs. Bedwin they were ready for tea; which,
as he did not half like the visitor's manner, he was very happy
to do.

'He is a nice-looking boy, is he not?' inquired Mr. Brownlow.

'I don't know,' replied Mr. Grimwig, pettishly.

'Don't know?'

'No. I don't know. I never see any difference in boys. I only
knew two sort of boys. Mealy boys, and beef-faced boys.'

'And which is Oliver?'

'Mealy. I know a friend who has a beef-faced boy; a fine boy,
they call him; with a round head, and red cheeks, and glaring
eyes; a horrid boy; with a body and limbs that appear to be
swelling out of the seams of his blue clothes; with the voice of
a pilot, and the appetite of a wolf. I know him! The wretch!'

'Come,' said Mr. Brownlow, 'these are not the characteristics of


young Oliver Twist; so he needn't excite your wrath.'

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

Here, Mr. Brownlow coughed impatiently; which appeared to afford
Mr. Grimwig the most exquisite delight.

'He may have worse, I say,' repeated Mr. Grimwig. 'Where does he


come from! Who is he? What is he? He has had a fever. What of
that? Fevers are not peculiar to good peope; 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 contradiction, sharpened on this occasion by
the finding of the orange-peel; and, inwardly determining that no
man should dictate to him whether a boy was well-looking or not,
he had resolved, from the first, to oppose his friend. When Mr.
Brownlow admitted that on no one point of inquiry could he yet
return a satisfactory answer; and that he had postponed any
investigation into Oliver's previous history until he thought the
boy was strong enough to hear it; Mr. Grimwig chuckled
maliciously. And he demanded, with a sneer, whether the
housekeeper was in the habit of counting the plate at night;
because if she didn't find a table-spoon or two missing some
sunshiny morning, why, he would be content to--and so forth.

All this, Mr. Brownlow, although himself somewhat of an impetuous


gentleman: knowing his friend's peculiarities, bore with great
good humour; as Mr. Grimwig, at tea, was graciously pleased to
express his entire approval of the muffins, matters went on very
smoothly; and Oliver, who made one of the party, began to feel
more at his ease than he had yet done in the fierce old
gentleman's presence.

'And when are you going to hear at full, true, and particular


account of the life and adventures of Oliver Twist?' asked
Grimwig of Mr. Brownlow, at the conclusion of the meal; looking
sideways at Oliver, as he resumed his 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.

'I'll tell you what,' whispered that gentleman to Mr. Brownlow;


'he won't come up to you to-morrow morning. I saw him hesitate.
He is deceiving you, my good friend.'

'I'll swear he is not,' replied Mr. Brownlow, warmly.

'If he is not,' said Mr. Grimwig, 'I'll--' and down went the
stick.

'I'll answer for that boy's truth with my life!' said Mr.


Brownlow, knocking the table.

'And I for his falsehood with my head!' rejoined Mr. Grimwig,


knocking the table also.

'We shall see,' said Mr. Brownlow, checking his rising anger.

'We will,' replied Mr. Grimwig, with a provoking smile; 'we
will.'

As fate would have it, Mrs. Bedwin chanced to bring in, at this


moment, a small parcel of books, which Mr. Brownlow had that
morning purchased of the identical bookstall-keeper, who has
already figured in this history; having laid them on the table,
she prepared to leave the room.

'Stop the boy, Mrs. Bedwin!' said Mr. Brownlow; 'there is


something to go back.'

'He has gone, sir,' replied Mrs. Bedwin.

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

'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, you know.'

'Yes; do let me take them, if you please, sir,' said Oliver.


'I'll run all the way, sir.'

The old gentleman was just going to say that Oliver should not go


out on any account; when a most malicious cough from Mr. Grimwig
determined him that he should; and that, by his prompt discharge
of the commission, he should prove to him the injustice of his
suspicions: on this head at least: at once.

'You SHALL go, my dear,' said the old gentleman. 'The books are


on a chair by my table. Fetch them down.'

Oliver, delighted to be of use, brought down the books under his


arm in a great bustle; and waited, cap in hand, to hear what
message he was to take.

'You are to say,' said Mr. Brownlow, glancing steadily at


Grimwig; 'you are to say that you have brought those books back;
and that you have come to pay the four pound ten I owe him. This
is a five-pound note, so you will have to bring me back, ten
shillings change.'

'I won't be ten minutes, sir,' said Oliver, eagerly. Having


buttoned up the bank-note in his jacket pocket, and placed the
books carefully under his arm, he made a respectful bow, and left
the room. Mrs. Bedwin followed him to the street-door, giving
him many directions about the nearest way, and the name of the
bookseller, and the name of the street: all of which Oliver said
he clearly understood. Having superadded many injunctions to be
sure and not take cold, the old lady at length permitted him to
depart.

'Bless his sweet face!' said the old lady, looking after him. 'I


can't bear, somehow, to let him go out of my sight.'

At this moment, Oliver looked gaily round, and nodded before he


turned the corner. The old lady smilingly returned his
salutation, and, closing the door, went back, to her own room.

'Let me see; he'll be back in twenty minutes, at the longest,'


said Mr. Brownlow, pulling out his watch, and placing it on the
table. 'It will be dark by that time.'

'Oh! you really expect him to come back, do you?' inquired Mr.


Grimwig.

'Don't you?' asked Mr. Brownlow, smiling.

The spirit of contradiction was strong in Mr. Grimwig's breast,
at the moment; and it was rendered stronger by his friend's
confident smile.

'No,' he said, smiting the table with his fist, 'I do not. The


boy has a new suit of clothes on his back, a set of valuable
books under his arm, and a five-pound note in his pocket. He'll
join his old friends the thieves, and laugh at you. If ever that
boy returns to this house, sir, I'll eat my head.'

With these words he drew his chair closer to the table; and there


the two friends sat, in silent expectation, with the watch
between them.

It 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
unfeignedly sorry to see his respected friend duped and deceived,
he really did most earnestly and strongly hope at that moment,
that Oliver Twist might not come back.

It grew so dark, that the figures on the dial-plate were scarcely


discernible; but there the two old gentlemen continued to sit, in
silence, with the watch between them.

CHAPTER XV

SHOWING HOW VERY FOND OF OLIVER TWIST, THE MERRY OLD JEW AND MISS
NANCY WERE

In the obscure parlour of a low public-house, in the filthiest


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