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Oliver Twist by Charles Dickens

Part 8 out of 10

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word. 'If it hadn't been for the girl! Who but poor ould Fagin
was the means of your having such a handy girl about you?'

'He says true enough there!' said Nancy, coming hastily forward.
'Let him be; let him be.'

Nancy's appearance gave a new turn to the conversation; for the
boys, receiving a sly wink from the wary old Jew, began to ply
her with liquor: of which, however, she took very sparingly;
while Fagin, assuming an unusual flow of spirits, gradually
brought Mr. Sikes into a better temper, by affecting to regard
his threats as a little pleasant banter; and, moreover, by
laughing very heartily at one or two rough jokes, which, after
repeated applications to the spirit-bottle, he condescended to

'It's all very well,' said Mr. Sikes; 'but I must have some blunt
from you to-night.'

'I haven't a piece of coin about me,' replied the Jew.

'Then you've got lots at home,' retorted Sikes; 'and I must have
some from there.'

'Lots!' cried Fagin, holding up is hands. 'I haven't so much as

'I don't know how much you've got, and I dare say you hardly know
yourself, as it would take a pretty long time to count it,' said
Sikes; 'but I must have some to-night; and that's flat.'

'Well, well,' said Fagin, with a sigh, 'I'll send the Artful
round presently.'

'You won't do nothing of the kind,' rejoined Mr. Sikes. 'The
Artful's a deal too artful, and would forget to come, or lose his
way, or get dodged by traps and so be perwented, or anything for
an excuse, if you put him up to it. Nancy shall go to the ken
and fetch it, to make all sure; and I'll lie down and have a
snooze while she's gone.'

After a great deal of haggling and squabbling, Fagin beat down
the amount of the required advance from five pounds to three
pounds four and sixpence: protesting with many solemn
asseverations that that would only leave him eighteen-pence to
keep house with; Mr. Sikes sullenly remarking that if he couldn't
get any more he must accompany him home; with the Dodger and
Master Bates put the eatables in the cupboard. The Jew then,
taking leave of his affectionate friend, returned homeward,
attended by Nancy and the boys: Mr. Sikes, meanwhile, flinging
himself on the bed, and composing himself to sleep away the time
until the young lady's return.

In due course, they arrived at Fagin's abode, where they found
Toby Crackit and Mr. Chitling intent upon their fifteenth game at
cribbage, which it is scarcely necessary to say the latter
gentleman lost, and with it, his fifteenth and last sixpence:
much to the amusement of his young friends. Mr. Crackit,
apparently somewhat ashamed at being found relaxing himself with
a gentleman so much his inferior in station and mental
endowments, yawned, and inquiring after Sikes, took up his hat to

'Has nobody been, Toby?' asked Fagin.

'Not a living leg,' answered Mr. Crackit, pulling up his collar;
'it's been as dull as swipes. You ought to stand something
handsome, Fagin, to recompense me for keeping house so long.
Damme, I'm as flat as a juryman; and should have gone to sleep,
as fast as Newgate, if I hadn't had the good natur' to amuse this
youngster. Horrid dull, I'm blessed if I an't!'

With these and other ejaculations of the same kind, Mr. Toby
Crackit swept up his winnings, and crammed them into his
waistcoat pocket with a haughty air, as though such small pieces
of silver were wholly beneath the consideration of a man of his
figure; this done, he swaggered out of the room, with so much
elegance and gentility, that Mr. Chitling, bestowing numerous
admiring glances on his legs and boots till they were out of
sight, assured the company that he considered his acquaintance
cheap at fifteen sixpences an interview, and that he didn't value
his losses the snap of his little finger.

'Wot a rum chap you are, Tom!' said Master Bates, highly amused
by this declaration.

'Not a bit of it,' replied Mr. Chitling. 'Am I, Fagin?'

'A very clever fellow, my dear,' said Fagin, patting him on the
shoulder, and winking to his other pupils.

'And Mr. Crackit is a heavy swell; an't he, Fagin?' asked Tom.

'No doubt at all of that, my dear.'

'And it is a creditable thing to have his acquaintance; an't it,
Fagin?' pursued Tom.

'Very much so, indeed, my dear. They're only jealous, Tom,
because he won't give it to them.'

'Ah!' cried Tom, triumphantly, 'that's where it is! He has
cleaned me out. But I can go and earn some more, when I like;
can't I, Fagin?'

'To be sure you can, and the sooner you go the better, Tom; so
make up your loss at once, and don't lose any more time. Dodger!
Charley! It's time you were on the lay. Come! It's near ten,
and nothing done yet.'

In obedience to this hint, the boys, nodding to Nancy, took up
their hats, and left the room; the Dodger and his vivacious
friend indulging, as they went, in many witticisms at the expense
of Mr. Chitling; in whose conduct, it is but justice to say,
there was nothing very conspicuous or peculiar: inasmuch as
there are a great number of spirited young bloods upon town, who
pay a much higher price than Mr. Chitling for being seen in good
society: and a great number of fine gentlemen (composing the
good society aforesaid) who established their reputation upon
very much the same footing as flash Toby Crackit.

'Now,' said Fagin, when they had left the room, 'I'll go and get
you that cash, Nancy. This is only the key of a little cupboard
where I keep a few odd things the boys get, my dear. I never
lock up my money, for I've got none to lock up, my dear--ha! ha!
ha!--none to lock up. It's a poor trade, Nancy, and no thanks;
but I'm fond of seeing the young people about me; and I bear it
all, I bear it all. Hush!' he said, hastily concealing the key
in his breast; 'who's that? Listen!'

The girl, who was sitting at the table with her arms folded,
appeared in no way interested in the arrival: or to care whether
the person, whoever he was, came or went: until the murmur of a
man's voice reached her ears. The instant she caught the sound,
she tore off her bonnet and shawl, with the rapidity of
lightning, and thrust them under the table. The Jew, turning
round immediately afterwards, she muttered a complaint of the
heat: in a tone of languor that contrasted, very remarkably,
with the extreme haste and violence of this action: which,
however, had been unobserved by Fagin, who had his back towards
her at the time.

'Bah!' he whispered, as though nettled by the interruption; 'it's
the man I expected before; he's coming downstairs. Not a word
about the money while he's here, Nance. He won't stop long. Not
ten minutes, my dear.'

Laying his skinny forefinger upon his lip, the Jew carried a
candle to the door, as a man's step was heard upon the stairs
without. He reached it, at the same moment as the visitor, who,
coming hastily into the room, was close upon the girl before he
observed her.

It was Monks.

'Only one of my young people,' said Fagin, observing that Monks
drew back, on beholding a stranger. 'Don't move, Nancy.'

The girl drew closer to the table, and glancing at Monks with an
air of careless levity, withdrew her eyes; but as he turned
towards Fagin, she stole another look; so keen and searching, and
full of purpose, that if there had been any bystander to observe
the change, he could hardly have believed the two looks to have
proceeded from the same person.

'Any news?' inquired Fagin.


'And--and--good?' asked Fagin, hesitating as though he feared to
vex the other man by being too sanguine.

'Not bad, any way,' replied Monks with a smile. 'I have been
prompt enough this time. Let me have a word with you.'

The girl drew closer to the table, and made no offer to leave the
room, although she could see that Monks was pointing to her. The
Jew: perhaps fearing she might say something aloud about the
money, if he endeavoured to get rid of her: pointed upward, and
took Monks out of the room.

'Not that infernal hole we were in before,' she could hear the
man say as they went upstairs. Fagin laughed; and making some
reply which did not reach her, seemed, by the creaking of the
boards, to lead his companion to the second story.

Before the sound of their footsteps had ceased to echo through
the house, the girl had slipped off her shoes; and drawing her
gown loosely over her head, and muffling her arms in it, stood at
the door, listening with breathless interest. The moment the
noise ceased, she glided from the room; ascended the stairs with
incredible softness and silence; and was lost in the gloom above.

The room remained deserted for a quarter of an hour or more; the
girl glided back with the same unearthly tread; and, immediately
afterwards, the two men were heard descending. Monks went at
once into the street; and the Jew crawled upstairs again for the
money. When he returned, the girl was adjusting her shawl and
bonnet, as if preparing to be gone.

'Why, Nance!' exclaimed the Jew, starting back as he put down
the candle, 'how pale you are!'

'Pale!' echoed the girl, shading her eyes with her hands, as if
to look steadily at him.

'Quite horrible. What have you been doing to yourself?'

'Nothing that I know of, except sitting in this close place for I
don't know how long and all,' replied the girl carelessly.
'Come! Let me get back; that's a dear.'

With a sigh for every piece of money, Fagin told the amount into
her hand. They parted without more conversation, merely
interchanging a 'good-night.'

When the girl got into the open street, she sat down upon a
doorstep; and seemed, for a few moments, wholly bewildered and
unable to pursue her way. Suddenly she arose; and hurrying on,
in a direction quite opposite to that in which Sikes was awaiting
her returned, quickened her pace, until it gradually resolved
into a violent run. After completely exhausting herself, she
stopped to take breath: and, as if suddenly recollecting
herself, and deploring her inability to do something she was bent
upon, wrung her hands, and burst into tears.

It might be that her tears relieved her, or that she felt the
full hopelessness of her condition; but she turned back; and
hurrying with nearly as great rapidity in the contrary direction;
partly to recover lost time, and partly to keep pace with the
violent current of her own thoughts: soon reached the dwelling
where she had left the housebreaker.

If she betrayed any agitation, when she presented herself to Mr.
Sikes, he did not observe it; for merely inquiring if she had
brought the money, and receiving a reply in the affirmative, he
uttered a growl of satisfaction, and replacing his head upon the
pillow, resumed the slumbers which her arrival had interrupted.

It was fortunate for her that the possession of money occasioned
him so much employment next day in the way of eating and
drinking; and withal had so beneficial an effect in smoothing
down the asperities of his temper; that he had neither time nor
inclination to be very critical upon her behaviour and
deportment. That she had all the abstracted and nervous manner
of one who is on the eve of some bold and hazardous step, which
it has required no common struggle to resolve upon, would have
been obvious to the lynx-eyed Fagin, who would most probably have
taken the alarm at once; but Mr. Sikes lacking the niceties of
discrimination, and being troubled with no more subtle misgivings
than those which resolve themselves into a dogged roughness of
behaviour towards everybody; and being, furthermore, in an
unusually amiable condition, as has been already observed; saw
nothing unusual in her demeanor, and indeed, troubled himself so
little about her, that, had her agitation been far more
perceptible than it was, it would have been very unlikely to have
awakened his suspicions.

As that day closed in, the girl's excitement increased; and, when
night came on, and she sat by, watching until the housebreaker
should drink himself asleep, there was an unusual paleness in her
cheek, and a fire in her eye, that even Sikes observed with

Mr. Sikes being weak from the fever, was lying in bed, taking hot
water with his gin to render it less inflammatory; and had pushed
his glass towards Nancy to be replenished for the third or fourth
time, when these symptoms first struck him.

'Why, burn my body!' said the man, raising himself on his hands
as he stared the girl in the face. 'You look like a corpse come
to life again. What's the matter?'

'Matter!' replied the girl. 'Nothing. What do you look at me so
hard for?'

'What foolery is this?' demanded Sikes, grasping her by the arm,
and shaking her roughly. 'What is it? What do you mean? What
are you thinking of?'

'Of many things, Bill,' replied the girl, shivering, and as she
did so, pressing her hands upon her eyes. 'But, Lord! What odds
in that?'

The tone of forced gaiety in which the last words were spoken,
seemed to produce a deeper impression on Sikes than the wild and
rigid look which had preceded them.

'I tell you wot it is,' said Sikes; 'if you haven't caught the
fever, and got it comin' on, now, there's something more than
usual in the wind, and something dangerous too. You're not
a-going to--. No, damme! you wouldn't do that!'

'Do what?' asked the girl.

'There ain't,' said Sikes, fixing his eyes upon her, and
muttering the words to himself; 'there ain't a stauncher-hearted
gal going, or I'd have cut her throat three months ago. She's
got the fever coming on; that's it.'

Fortifying himself with this assurance, Sikes drained the glass
to the bottom, and then, with many grumbling oaths, called for
his physic. The girl jumped up, with great alacrity; poured it
quickly out, but with her back towards him; and held the vessel
to his lips, while he drank off the contents.

'Now,' said the robber, 'come and sit aside of me, and put on
your own face; or I'll alter it so, that you won't know it agin
when you do want it.'

The girl obeyed. Sikes, locking her hand in his, fell back upon
the pillow: turning his eyes upon her face. They closed; opened
again; closed once more; again opened. He shifted his position
restlessly; and, after dozing again, and again, for two or three
minutes, and as often springing up with a look of terror, and
gazing vacantly about him, was suddenly stricken, as it were,
while in the very attitude of rising, into a deep and heavy
sleep. The grasp of his hand relaxed; the upraised arm fell
languidly by his side; and he lay like one in a profound trance.

'The laudanum has taken effect at last,' murmured the girl, as
she rose from the bedside. 'I may be too late, even now.'

She hastily dressed herself in her bonnet and shawl: looking
fearfully round, from time to time, as if, despite the sleeping
draught, she expected every moment to feel the pressure of
Sikes's heavy hand upon her shoulder; then, stooping softly over
the bed, she kissed the robber's lips; and then opening and
closing the room-door with noiseless touch, hurried from the

A watchman was crying half-past nine, down a dark passage through
which she had to pass, in gaining the main thoroughfare.

'Has it long gone the half-hour?' asked the girl.

'It'll strike the hour in another quarter,' said the man:
raising his lantern to her face.

'And I cannot get there in less than an hour or more,' muttered
Nancy: brushing swiftly past him, and gliding rapidly down the

Many of the shops were already closing in the back lanes and
avenues through which she tracked her way, in making from
Spitalfields towards the West-End of London. The clock struck
ten, increasing her impatience. She tore along the narrow
pavement: elbowing the passengers from side to side; and darting
almost under the horses' heads, crossed crowded streets, where
clusters of persons were eagerly watching their opportunity to do
the like.

'The woman is mad!' said the people, turning to look after her as
she rushed away.

When she reached the more wealthy quarter of the town, the
streets were comparatively deserted; and here her headlong
progress excited a still greater curiosity in the stragglers whom
she hurried past. Some quickened their pace behind, as though to
see whither she was hastening at such an unusual rate; and a few
made head upon her, and looked back, surprised at her
undiminished speed; but they fell off one by one; and when she
neared her place of destination, she was alone.

It was a family hotel in a quiet but handsome street near Hyde
Park. As the brilliant light of the lamp which burnt before its
door, guided her to the spot, the clock struck eleven. She had
loitered for a few paces as though irresolute, and making up her
mind to advance; but the sound determined her, and she stepped
into the hall. The porter's seat was vacant. She looked round
with an air of incertitude, and advanced towards the stairs.

'Now, young woman!' said a smartly-dressed female, looking out
from a door behind her, 'who do you want here?'

'A lady who is stopping in this house,' answered the girl.

'A lady!' was the reply, accompanied with a scornful look. 'What

'Miss Maylie,' said Nancy.

The young woman, who had by this time, noted her appearance,
replied only by a look of virtuous disdain; and summoned a man to
answer her. To him, Nancy repeated her request.

'What name am I to say?' asked the waiter.

'It's of no use saying any,' replied Nancy.

'Nor business?' said the man.

'No, nor that neither,' rejoined the girl. 'I must see the

'Come!' said the man, pushing her towards the door. 'None of
this. Take yourself off.'

'I shall be carried out if I go!' said the girl violently; 'and I
can make that a job that two of you won't like to do. Isn't
there anybody here,' she said, looking round, 'that will see a
simple message carried for a poor wretch like me?'

This appeal produced an effect on a good-tempered-faced man-cook,
who with some of the other servants was looking on, and who
stepped forward to interfere.

'Take it up for her, Joe; can't you?' said this person.

'What's the good?' replied the man. 'You don't suppose the young
lady will see such as her; do you?'

This allusion to Nancy's doubtful character, raised a vast
quantity of chaste wrath in the bosoms of four housemaids, who
remarked, with great fervour, that the creature was a disgrace to
her sex; and strongly advocated her being thrown, ruthlessly,
into the kennel.

'Do what you like with me,' said the girl, turning to the men
again; 'but do what I ask you first, and I ask you to give this
message for God Almighty's sake.'

The soft-hearted cook added his intercession, and the result was
that the man who had first appeared undertook its delivery.

'What's it to be?' said the man, with one foot on the stairs.

'That a young woman earnestly asks to speak to Miss Maylie
alone,' said Nancy; 'and that if the lady will only hear the
first word she has to say, she will know whether to hear her
business, or to have her turned out of doors as an impostor.'

'I say,' said the man, 'you're coming it strong!'

'You give the message,' said the girl firmly; 'and let me hear
the answer.'

The man ran upstairs. Nancy remained, pale and almost
breathless, listening with quivering lip to the very audible
expressions of scorn, of which the chaste housemaids were very
prolific; and of which they became still more so, when the man
returned, and said the young woman was to walk upstairs.

'It's no good being proper in this world,' said the first

'Brass can do better than the gold what has stood the fire,' said
the second.

The third contented herself with wondering 'what ladies was made
of'; and the fourth took the first in a quartette of 'Shameful!'
with which the Dianas concluded.

Regardless of all this: for she had weightier matters at heart:
Nancy followed the man, with trembling limbs, to a small
ante-chamber, lighted by a lamp from the ceiling. Here he left
her, and retired.



The girl's life had been squandered in the streets, and among the
most noisome of the stews and dens of London, but there was
something of the woman's original nature left in her still; and
when she heard a light step approaching the door opposite to that
by which she had entered, and thought of the wide contrast which
the small room would in another moment contain, she felt burdened
with the sense of her own deep shame, and shrunk as though she
could scarcely bear the presence of her with whom she had sought
this interview.

But struggling with these better feelings was pride,--the vice of
the lowest and most debased creatures no less than of the high
and self-assured. The miserable companion of thieves and
ruffians, the fallen outcast of low haunts, the associate of the
scourings of the jails and hulks, living within the shadow of the
gallows itself,--even this degraded being felt too proud to
betray a feeble gleam of the womanly feeling which she thought a
weakness, but which alone connected her with that humanity, of
which her wasting life had obliterated so many, many traces when
a very child.

She raised her eyes sufficiently to observe that the figure which
presented itself was that of a slight and beautiful girl; then,
bending them on the ground, she tossed her head with affected
carelessness as she said:

'It's a hard matter to get to see you, lady. If I had taken
offence, and gone away, as many would have done, you'd have been
sorry for it one day, and not without reason either.'

'I am very sorry if any one has behaved harshly to you,' replied
Rose. 'Do not think of that. Tell me why you wished to see me.
I am the person you inquired for.'

The kind tone of this answer, the sweet voice, the gentle manner,
the absence of any accent of haughtiness or displeasure, took the
girl completely by surprise, and she burst into tears.

'Oh, lady, lady!' she said, clasping her hands passionately
before her face, 'if there was more like you, there would be
fewer like me,--there would--there would!'

'Sit down,' said Rose, earnestly. 'If you are in poverty or
affliction I shall be truly glad to relieve you if I can,--I
shall indeed. Sit down.'

'Let me stand, lady,' said the girl, still weeping, 'and do not
speak to me so kindly till you know me better. It is growing
late. Is--is--that door shut?'

'Yes,' said Rose, recoiling a few steps, as if to be nearer
assistance in case she should require it. 'Why?'

'Because,' said the girl, 'I am about to put my life and the
lives of others in your hands. I am the girl that dragged little
Oliver back to old Fagin's on the night he went out from the
house in Pentonville.'

'You!' said Rose Maylie.

'I, lady!' replied the girl. 'I am the infamous creature you
have heard of, that lives among the thieves, and that never from
the first moment I can recollect my eyes and senses opening on
London streets have known any better life, or kinder words than
they have given me, so help me God! Do not mind shrinking openly
from me, lady. I am younger than you would think, to look at me,
but I am well used to it. The poorest women fall back, as I make
my way along the crowded pavement.'

'What dreadful things are these!' said Rose, involuntarily
falling from her strange companion.

'Thank Heaven upon your knees, dear lady,' cried the girl, 'that
you had friends to care for and keep you in your childhood, and
that you were never in the midst of cold and hunger, and riot and
drunkenness, and--and--something worse than all--as I have been
from my cradle. I may use the word, for the alley and the gutter
were mine, as they will be my deathbed.'

'I pity you!' said Rose, in a broken voice. 'It wrings my heart
to hear you!'

'Heaven bless you for your goodness!' rejoined the girl. 'If you
knew what I am sometimes, you would pity me, indeed. But I have
stolen away from those who would surely murder me, if they knew I
had been here, to tell you what I have overheard. Do you know a
man named Monks?'

'No,' said Rose.

'He knows you,' replied the girl; 'and knew you were here, for it
was by hearing him tell the place that I found you out.'

'I never heard the name,' said Rose.

'Then he goes by some other amongst us,' rejoined the girl,
'which I more than thought before. Some time ago, and soon after
Oliver was put into your house on the night of the robbery,
I--suspecting this man--listened to a conversation held between
him and Fagin in the dark. I found out, from what I heard, that
Monks--the man I asked you about, you know--'

'Yes,' said Rose, 'I understand.'

'--That Monks,' pursued the girl, 'had seen him accidently with
two of our boys on the day we first lost him, and had known him
directly to be the same child that he was watching for, though I
couldn't make out why. A bargain was struck with Fagin, that if
Oliver was got back he should have a certain sum; and he was to
have more for making him a thief, which this Monks wanted for
some purpose of his own.'

'For what purpose?' asked Rose.

'He caught sight of my shadow on the wall as I listened, in the
hope of finding out,' said the girl; 'and there are not many
people besides me that could have got out of their way in time to
escape discovery. But I did; and I saw him no more till last

'And what occurred then?'

'I'll tell you, lady. Last night he came again. Again they went
upstairs, and I, wrapping myself up so that my shadow would not
betray me, again listened at the door. The first words I heard
Monks say were these: "So the only proofs of the boy's identity
lie at the bottom of the river, and the old hag that received
them from the mother is rotting in her coffin." They laughed,
and talked of his success in doing this; and Monks, talking on
about the boy, and getting very wild, said that though he had got
the young devil's money safely now, he'd rather have had it the
other way; for, what a game it would have been to have brought
down the boast of the father's will, by driving him through every
jail in town, and then hauling him up for some capital felony
which Fagin could easily manage, after having made a good profit
of him besides.'

'What is all this!' said Rose.

'The truth, lady, though it comes from my lips,' replied the
girl. 'Then, he said, with oaths common enough in my ears, but
strange to yours, that if he could gratify his hatred by taking
the boy's life without bringing his own neck in danger, he would;
but, as he couldn't, he'd be upon the watch to meet him at every
turn in life; and if he took advantage of his birth and history,
he might harm him yet. "In short, Fagin," he says, "Jew as you
are, you never laid such snares as I'll contrive for my young
brother, Oliver."'

'His brother!' exclaimed Rose.

'Those were his words,' said Nancy, glancing uneasily round, as
she had scarcely ceased to do, since she began to speak, for a
vision of Sikes haunted her perpetually. 'And more. When he
spoke of you and the other lady, and said it seemed contrived by
Heaven, or the devil, against him, that Oliver should come into
your hands, he laughed, and said there was some comfort in that
too, for how many thousands and hundreds of thousands of pounds
would you not give, if you had them, to know who your two-legged
spaniel was.'

'You do not mean,' said Rose, turning very pale, 'to tell me that
this was said in earnest?'

'He spoke in hard and angry earnest, if a man ever did,' replied
the girl, shaking her head. 'He is an earnest man when his
hatred is up. I know many who do worse things; but I'd rather
listen to them all a dozen times, than to that Monks once. It is
growing late, and I have to reach home without suspicion of
having been on such an errand as this. I must get back quickly.'

'But what can I do?' said Rose. 'To what use can I turn this
communication without you? Back! Why do you wish to return to
companions you paint in such terrible colors? If you repeat this
information to a gentleman whom I can summon in an instant from
the next room, you can be consigned to some place of safety
without half an hour's delay.'

'I wish to go back,' said the girl. 'I must go back,
because--how can I tell such things to an innocent lady like
you?--because among the men I have told you of, there is one:
the most desperate among them all; that I can't leave: no, not
even to be saved from the life I am leading now.'

'Your having interfered in this dear boy's behalf before,' said
Rose; 'your coming here, at so great a risk, to tell me what you
have heard; your manner, which convinces me of the truth of what
you say; your evident contrition, and sense of shame; all lead me
to believe that you might yet be reclaimed. Oh!' said the
earnest girl, folding her hands as the tears coursed down her
face, 'do not turn a deaf ear to the entreaties of one of your
own sex; the first--the first, I do believe, who ever appealed to
you in the voice of pity and compassion. Do hear my words, and
let me save you yet, for better things.'

'Lady,' cried the girl, sinking on her knees, 'dear, sweet, angel
lady, you _are_ the first that ever blessed me with such words as
these, and if I had heard them years ago, they might have turned
me from a life of sin and sorrow; but it is too late, it is too

'It is never too late,' said Rose, 'for penitence and atonement.'

'It is,' cried the girl, writhing in agony of her mind; 'I cannot
leave him now! I could not be his death.'

'Why should you be?' asked Rose.

'Nothing could save him,' cried the girl. 'If I told others what
I have told you, and led to their being taken, he would be sure
to die. He is the boldest, and has been so cruel!'

'Is it possible,' cried Rose, 'that for such a man as this, you
can resign every future hope, and the certainty of immediate
rescue? It is madness.'

'I don't know what it is,' answered the girl; 'I only know that
it is so, and not with me alone, but with hundreds of others as
bad and wretched as myself. I must go back. Whether it is God's
wrath for the wrong I have done, I do not know; but I am drawn
back to him through every suffering and ill usage; and I should
be, I believe, if I knew that I was to die by his hand at last.'

'What am I to do?' said Rose. 'I should not let you depart from
me thus.'

'You should, lady, and I know you will,' rejoined the girl,
rising. 'You will not stop my going because I have trusted in
your goodness, and forced no promise from you, as I might have

'Of what use, then, is the communication you have made?' said
Rose. 'This mystery must be investigated, or how will its
disclosure to me, benefit Oliver, whom you are anxious to serve?'

'You must have some kind gentleman about you that will hear it as
a secret, and advise you what to do,' rejoined the girl.

'But where can I find you again when it is necessary?' asked
Rose. 'I do not seek to know where these dreadful people live,
but where will you be walking or passing at any settled period
from this time?'

'Will you promise me that you will have my secret strictly kept,
and come alone, or with the only other person that knows it; and
that I shall not be watched or followed?' asked the girl.

'I promise you solemnly,' answered Rose.

'Every Sunday night, from eleven until the clock strikes twelve,'
said the girl without hesitation, 'I will walk on London Bridge
if I am alive.'

'Stay another moment,' interposed Rose, as the girl moved
hurriedly towards the door. 'Think once again on your own
condition, and the opportunity you have of escaping from it. You
have a claim on me: not only as the voluntary bearer of this
intelligence, but as a woman lost almost beyond redemption. Will
you return to this gang of robbers, and to this man, when a word
can save you? What fascination is it that can take you back, and
make you cling to wickedness and misery? Oh! is there no chord
in your heart that I can touch! Is there nothing left, to which
I can appeal against this terrible infatuation!'

'When ladies as young, and good, and beautiful as you are,'
replied the girl steadily, 'give away your hearts, love will
carry you all lengths--even such as you, who have home, friends,
other admirers, everything, to fill them. When such as I, who
have no certain roof but the coffinlid, and no friend in sickness
or death but the hospital nurse, set our rotten hearts on any
man, and let him fill the place that has been a blank through all
our wretched lives, who can hope to cure us? Pity us, lady--pity
us for having only one feeling of the woman left, and for having
that turned, by a heavy judgment, from a comfort and a pride,
into a new means of violence and suffering.'

'You will,' said Rose, after a pause, 'take some money from me,
which may enable you to live without dishonesty--at all events
until we meet again?'

'Not a penny,' replied the girl, waving her hand.

'Do not close your heart against all my efforts to help you,'
said Rose, stepping gently forward. 'I wish to serve you

'You would serve me best, lady,' replied the girl, wringing her
hands, 'if you could take my life at once; for I have felt more
grief to think of what I am, to-night, than I ever did before,
and it would be something not to die in the hell in which I have
lived. God bless you, sweet lady, and send as much happiness on
your head as I have brought shame on mine!'

Thus speaking, and sobbing aloud, the unhappy creature turned
away; while Rose Maylie, overpowered by this extraordinary
interview, which had more the semblance of a rapid dream than an
actual occurrence, sank into a chair, and endeavoured to collect
her wandering thoughts.



Her situation was, indeed, one of no common trial and difficulty.
While she felt the most eager and burning desire to penetrate the
mystery in which Oliver's history was enveloped, she could not
but hold sacred the confidence which the miserable woman with
whom she had just conversed, had reposed in her, as a young and
guileless girl. Her words and manner had touched Rose Maylie's
heart; and, mingled with her love for her young charge, and
scarcely less intense in its truth and fervour, was her fond wish
to win the outcast back to repentance and hope.

They purposed remaining in London only three days, prior to
departing for some weeks to a distant part of the coast. It was
now midnight of the first day. What course of action could she
determine upon, which could be adopted in eight-and-forty hours?
Or how could she postpone the journey without exciting suspicion?

Mr. Losberne was with them, and would be for the next two days;
but Rose was too well acquainted with the excellent gentleman's
impetuosity, and foresaw too clearly the wrath with which, in the
first explosion of his indignation, he would regard the
instrument of Oliver's recapture, to trust him with the secret,
when her representations in the girl's behalf could be seconded
by no experienced person. These were all reasons for the
greatest caution and most circumspect behaviour in communicating
it to Mrs. Maylie, whose first impulse would infallibly be to
hold a conference with the worthy doctor on the subject. As to
resorting to any legal adviser, even if she had known how to do
so, it was scarcely to be thought of, for the same reason. Once
the thought occurred to her of seeking assistance from Harry; but
this awakened the recollection of their last parting, and it
seemed unworthy of her to call him back, when--the tears rose to
her eyes as she pursued this train of reflection--he might have
by this time learnt to forget her, and to be happier away.

Disturbed by these different reflections; inclining now to one
course and then to another, and again recoiling from all, as each
successive consideration presented itself to her mind; Rose
passed a sleepless and anxious night. After more communing with
herself next day, she arrived at the desperate conclusion of
consulting Harry.

'If it be painful to him,' she thought, 'to come back here, how
painful it will be to me! But perhaps he will not come; he may
write, or he may come himself, and studiously abstain from
meeting me--he did when he went away. I hardly thought he would;
but it was better for us both.' And here Rose dropped the pen,
and turned away, as though the very paper which was to be her
messenger should not see her weep.

She had taken up the same pen, and laid it down again fifty
times, and had considered and reconsidered the first line of her
letter without writing the first word, when Oliver, who had been
walking in the streets, with Mr. Giles for a body-guard, entered
the room in such breathless haste and violent agitation, as
seemed to betoken some new cause of alarm.

'What makes you look so flurried?' asked Rose, advancing to meet

'I hardly know how; I feel as if I should be choked,' replied the
boy. 'Oh dear! To think that I should see him at last, and you
should be able to know that I have told you the truth!'

'I never thought you had told us anything but the truth,' said
Rose, soothing him. 'But what is this?--of whom do you speak?'

'I have seen the gentleman,' replied Oliver, scarcely able to
articulate, 'the gentleman who was so good to me--Mr. Brownlow,
that we have so often talked about.'

'Where?' asked Rose.

'Getting out of a coach,' replied Oliver, shedding tears of
delight, 'and going into a house. I didn't speak to him--I
couldn't speak to him, for he didn't see me, and I trembled so,
that I was not able to go up to him. But Giles asked, for me,
whether he lived there, and they said he did. Look here,' said
Oliver, opening a scrap of paper, 'here it is; here's where he
lives--I'm going there directly! Oh, dear me, dear me! What
shall I do when I come to see him and hear him speak again!'

With her attention not a little distracted by these and a great
many other incoherent exclamations of joy, Rose read the address,
which was Craven Street, in the Strand. She very soon determined
upon turning the discovery to account.

'Quick!' she said. 'Tell them to fetch a hackney-coach, and be
ready to go with me. I will take you there directly, without a
minute's loss of time. I will only tell my aunt that we are
going out for an hour, and be ready as soon as you are.'

Oliver needed no prompting to despatch, and in little more than
five minutes they were on their way to Craven Street. When they
arrived there, Rose left Oliver in the coach, under pretence of
preparing the old gentleman to receive him; and sending up her
card by the servant, requested to see Mr. Brownlow on very
pressing business. The servant soon returned, to beg that she
would walk upstairs; and following him into an upper room, Miss
Maylie was presented to an elderly gentleman of benevolent
appearance, in a bottle-green coat. At no great distance from
whom, was seated another old gentleman, in nankeen breeches and
gaiters; who did not look particularly benevolent, and who was
sitting with his hands clasped on the top of a thick stick, and
his chin propped thereupon.

'Dear me,' said the gentleman, in the bottle-green coat, hastily
rising with great politeness, 'I beg your pardon, young lady--I
imagined it was some importunate person who--I beg you will
excuse me. Be seated, pray.'

'Mr. Brownlow, I believe, sir?' said Rose, glancing from the
other gentleman to the one who had spoken.

'That is my name,' said the old gentleman. 'This is my friend,
Mr. Grimwig. Grimwig, will you leave us for a few minutes?'

'I believe,' interposed Miss Maylie, 'that at this period of our
interview, I need not give that gentleman the trouble of going
away. If I am correctly informed, he is cognizant of the
business on which I wish to speak to you.'

Mr. Brownlow inclined his head. Mr. Grimwig, who had made one
very stiff bow, and risen from his chair, made another very stiff
bow, and dropped into it again.

'I shall surprise you very much, I have no doubt,' said Rose,
naturally embarrassed; 'but you once showed great benevolence and
goodness to a very dear young friend of mine, and I am sure you
will take an interest in hearing of him again.'

'Indeed!' said Mr. Brownlow.

'Oliver Twist you knew him as,' replied Rose.

The words no sooner escaped her lips, than Mr. Grimwig, who had
been affecting to dip into a large book that lay on the table,
upset it with a great crash, and falling back in his chair,
discharged from his features every expression but one of
unmitigated wonder, and indulged in a prolonged and vacant stare;
then, as if ashamed of having betrayed so much emotion, he jerked
himself, as it were, by a convulsion into his former attitude,
and looking out straight before him emitted a long deep whistle,
which seemed, at last, not to be discharged on empty air, but to
die away in the innermost recesses of his stomach.

Mr. Browlow was no less surprised, although his astonishment was
not expressed in the same eccentric manner. He drew his chair
nearer to Miss Maylie's, and said,

'Do me the favour, my dear young lady, to leave entirely out of
the question that goodness and benevolence of which you speak,
and of which nobody else knows anything; and if you have it in
your power to produce any evidence which will alter the
unfavourable opinion I was once induced to entertain of that poor
child, in Heaven's name put me in possession of it.'

'A bad one! I'll eat my head if he is not a bad one,' growled
Mr. Grimwig, speaking by some ventriloquial power, without moving
a muscle of his face.

'He is a child of a noble nature and a warm heart,' said Rose,
colouring; 'and that Power which has thought fit to try him
beyond his years, has planted in his breast affections and
feelings which would do honour to many who have numbered his days
six times over.'

'I'm only sixty-one,' said Mr. Grimwig, with the same rigid face.
'And, as the devil's in it if this Oliver is not twelve years old
at least, I don't see the application of that remark.'

'Do not heed my friend, Miss Maylie,' said Mr. Brownlow; 'he does
not mean what he says.'

'Yes, he does,' growled Mr. Grimwig.

'No, he does not,' said Mr. Brownlow, obviously rising in wrath
as he spoke.

'He'll eat his head, if he doesn't,' growled Mr. Grimwig.

'He would deserve to have it knocked off, if he does,' said Mr.

'And he'd uncommonly like to see any man offer to do it,'
responded Mr. Grimwig, knocking his stick upon the floor.

Having gone thus far, the two old gentlemen severally took snuff,
and afterwards shook hands, according to their invariable custom.

'Now, Miss Maylie,' said Mr. Brownlow, 'to return to the subject
in which your humanity is so much interested. Will you let me
know what intelligence you have of this poor child: allowing me
to promise that I exhausted every means in my power of
discovering him, and that since I have been absent from this
country, my first impression that he had imposed upon me, and had
been persuaded by his former associates to rob me, has been
considerably shaken.'

Rose, who had had time to collect her thoughts, at once related,
in a few natural words, all that had befallen Oliver since he
left Mr. Brownlow's house; reserving Nancy's information for that
gentleman's private ear, and concluding with the assurance that
his only sorrow, for some months past, had been not being able to
meet with his former benefactor and friend.

'Thank God!' said the old gentleman. 'This is great happiness to
me, great happiness. But you have not told me where he is now,
Miss Maylie. You must pardon my finding fault with you,--but why
not have brought him?'

'He is waiting in a coach at the door,' replied Rose.

'At this door!' cried the old gentleman. With which he hurried
out of the room, down the stairs, up the coachsteps, and into the
coach, without another word.

When the room-door closed behind him, Mr. Grimwig lifted up his
head, and converting one of the hind legs of his chair into a
pivot, described three distinct circles with the assistance of
his stick and the table; sitting in it all the time. After
performing this evolution, he rose and limped as fast as he could
up and down the room at least a dozen times, and then stopping
suddenly before Rose, kissed her without the slightest preface.

'Hush!' he said, as the young lady rose in some alarm at this
unusual proceeding. 'Don't be afraid. I'm old enough to be your
grandfather. You're a sweet girl. I like you. Here they are!'

In fact, as he threw himself at one dexterous dive into his
former seat, Mr. Brownlow returned, accompanied by Oliver, whom
Mr. Grimwig received very graciously; and if the gratification of
that moment had been the only reward for all her anxiety and care
in Oliver's behalf, Rose Maylie would have been well repaid.

'There is somebody else who should not be forgotten, by the bye,'
said Mr. Brownlow, ringing the bell. 'Send Mrs. Bedwin here, if
you please.'

The old housekeeper answered the summons with all dispatch; and
dropping a curtsey at the door, waited for orders.

'Why, you get blinder every day, Bedwin,' said Mr. Brownlow,
rather testily.

'Well, that I do, sir,' replied the old lady. 'People's eyes, at
my time of life, don't improve with age, sir.'

'I could have told you that,' rejoined Mr. Brownlow; 'but put on
your glasses, and see if you can't find out what you were wanted
for, will you?'

The old lady began to rummage in her pocket for her spectacles.
But Oliver's patience was not proof against this new trial; and
yielding to his first impulse, he sprang into her arms.

'God be good to me!' cried the old lady, embracing him; 'it is my
innocent boy!'

'My dear old nurse!' cried Oliver.

'He would come back--I knew he would,' said the old lady, holding
him in her arms. 'How well he looks, and how like a gentleman's
son he is dressed again! Where have you been, this long, long
while? Ah! the same sweet face, but not so pale; the same soft
eye, but not so sad. I have never forgotten them or his quiet
smile, but have seen them every day, side by side with those of
my own dear children, dead and gone since I was a lightsome young
creature.' Running on thus, and now holding Oliver from her to
mark how he had grown, now clasping him to her and passing her
fingers fondly through his hair, the good soul laughed and wept
upon his neck by turns.

Leaving her and Oliver to compare notes at leisure, Mr. Brownlow
led the way into another room; and there, heard from Rose a full
narration of her interview with Nancy, which occasioned him no
little surprise and perplexity. Rose also explained her reasons
for not confiding in her friend Mr. Losberne in the first
instance. The old gentleman considered that she had acted
prudently, and readily undertook to hold solemn conference with
the worthy doctor himself. To afford him an early opportunity
for the execution of this design, it was arranged that he should
call at the hotel at eight o'clock that evening, and that in the
meantime Mrs. Maylie should be cautiously informed of all that
had occurred. These preliminaries adjusted, Rose and Oliver
returned home.

Rose had by no means overrated the measure of the good doctor's
wrath. Nancy's history was no sooner unfolded to him, than he
poured forth a shower of mingled threats and execrations;
threatened to make her the first victim of the combined ingenuity
of Messrs. Blathers and Duff; and actually put on his hat
preparatory to sallying forth to obtain the assistance of those
worthies. And, doubtless, he would, in this first outbreak, have
carried the intention into effect without a moment's
consideration of the consequences, if he had not been restrained,
in part, by corresponding violence on the side of Mr. Brownlow,
who was himself of an irascible temperament, and party by such
arguments and representations as seemed best calculated to
dissuade him from his hotbrained purpose.

'Then what the devil is to be done?' said the impetuous doctor,
when they had rejoined the two ladies. 'Are we to pass a vote of
thanks to all these vagabonds, male and female, and beg them to
accept a hundred pounds, or so, apiece, as a trifling mark of our
esteem, and some slight acknowledgment of their kindness to

'Not exactly that,' rejoined Mr. Brownlow, laughing; 'but we must
proceed gently and with great care.'

'Gentleness and care,' exclaimed the doctor. 'I'd send them one
and all to--'

'Never mind where,' interposed Mr. Brownlow. 'But reflect
whether sending them anywhere is likely to attain the object we
have in view.'

'What object?' asked the doctor.

'Simply, the discovery of Oliver's parentage, and regaining for
him the inheritance of which, if this story be true, he has been
fraudulently deprived.'

'Ah!' said Mr. Losberne, cooling himself with his
pocket-handkerchief; 'I almost forgot that.'

'You see,' pursued Mr. Brownlow; 'placing this poor girl entirely
out of the question, and supposing it were possible to bring
these scoundrels to justice without compromising her safety, what
good should we bring about?'

'Hanging a few of them at least, in all probability,' suggested
the doctor, 'and transporting the rest.'

'Very good,' replied Mr. Brownlow, smiling; 'but no doubt they
will bring that about for themselves in the fulness of time, and
if we step in to forestall them, it seems to me that we shall be
performing a very Quixotic act, in direct opposition to our own
interest--or at least to Oliver's, which is the same thing.'

'How?' inquired the doctor.

'Thus. It is quite clear that we shall have extreme difficulty
in getting to the bottom of this mystery, unless we can bring
this man, Monks, upon his knees. That can only be done by
stratagem, and by catching him when he is not surrounded by these
people. For, suppose he were apprehended, we have no proof
against him. He is not even (so far as we know, or as the facts
appear to us) concerned with the gang in any of their robberies.
If he were not discharged, it is very unlikely that he could
receive any further punishment than being committed to prison as
a rogue and vagabond; and of course ever afterwards his mouth
would be so obstinately closed that he might as well, for our
purposes, be deaf, dumb, blind, and an idiot.'

'Then,' said the doctor impetuously, 'I put it to you again,
whether you think it reasonable that this promise to the girl
should be considered binding; a promise made with the best and
kindest intentions, but really--'

'Do not discuss the point, my dear young lady, pray,' said Mr.
Brownlow, interrupting Rose as she was about to speak. 'The
promise shall be kept. I don't think it will, in the slightest
degree, interfere with our proceedings. But, before we can
resolve upon any precise course of action, it will be necessary
to see the girl; to ascertain from her whether she will point out
this Monks, on the understanding that he is to be dealt with by
us, and not by the law; or, if she will not, or cannot do that,
to procure from her such an account of his haunts and description
of his person, as will enable us to identify him. She cannot be
seen until next Sunday night; this is Tuesday. I would suggest
that in the meantime, we remain perfectly quiet, and keep these
matters secret even from Oliver himself.'

Although Mr. Losberne received with many wry faces a proposal
involving a delay of five whole days, he was fain to admit that
no better course occurred to him just then; and as both Rose and
Mrs. Maylie sided very strongly with Mr. Brownlow, that
gentleman's proposition was carried unanimously.

'I should like,' he said, 'to call in the aid of my friend
Grimwig. He is a strange creature, but a shrewd one, and might
prove of material assistance to us; I should say that he was bred
a lawyer, and quitted the Bar in disgust because he had only one
brief and a motion of course, in twenty years, though whether
that is recommendation or not, you must determine for

'I have no objection to your calling in your friend if I may call
in mine,' said the doctor.

'We must put it to the vote,' replied Mr. Brownlow, 'who may he

'That lady's son, and this young lady's--very old friend,' said
the doctor, motioning towards Mrs. Maylie, and concluding with an
expressive glance at her niece.

Rose blushed deeply, but she did not make any audible objection
to this motion (possibly she felt in a hopeless minority); and
Harry Maylie and Mr. Grimwig were accordingly added to the

'We stay in town, of course,' said Mrs. Maylie, 'while there
remains the slightest prospect of prosecuting this inquiry with a
chance of success. I will spare neither trouble nor expense in
behalf of the object in which we are all so deeply interested,
and I am content to remain here, if it be for twelve months, so
long as you assure me that any hope remains.'

'Good!' rejoined Mr. Brownlow. 'And as I see on the faces about
me, a disposition to inquire how it happened that I was not in
the way to corroborate Oliver's tale, and had so suddenly left
the kingdom, let me stipulate that I shall be asked no questions
until such time as I may deem it expedient to forestall them by
telling my own story. Believe me, I make this request with good
reason, for I might otherwise excite hopes destined never to be
realised, and only increase difficulties and disappointments
already quite numerous enough. Come! Supper has been announced,
and young Oliver, who is all alone in the next room, will have
begun to think, by this time, that we have wearied of his
company, and entered into some dark conspiracy to thrust him
forth upon the world.'

With these words, the old gentleman gave his hand to Mrs. Maylie,
and escorted her into the supper-room. Mr. Losberne followed,
leading Rose; and the council was, for the present, effectually
broken up.



Upon the night when Nancy, having lulled Mr. Sikes to sleep,
hurried on her self-imposed mission to Rose Maylie, there
advanced towards London, by the Great North Road, two persons,
upon whom it is expedient that this history should bestow some

They were a man and woman; or perhaps they would be better
described as a male and female: for the former was one of those
long-limbed, knock-kneed, shambling, bony people, to whom it is
difficult to assign any precise age,--looking as they do, when
they are yet boys, like undergrown men, and when they are almost
men, like overgrown boys. The woman was young, but of a robust
and hardy make, as she need have been to bear the weight of the
heavy bundle which was strapped to her back. Her companion was
not encumbered with much luggage, as there merely dangled from a
stick which he carried over his shoulder, a small parcel wrapped
in a common handkerchief, and apparently light enough. This
circumstance, added to the length of his legs, which were of
unusual extent, enabled him with much ease to keep some
half-dozen paces in advance of his companion, to whom he
occasionally turned with an impatient jerk of the head: as if
reproaching her tardiness, and urging her to greater exertion.

Thus, they had toiled along the dusty road, taking little heed of
any object within sight, save when they stepped aside to allow a
wider passage for the mail-coaches which were whirling out of
town, until they passed through Highgate archway; when the
foremost traveller stopped and called impatiently to his

'Come on, can't yer? What a lazybones yer are, Charlotte.'

'It's a heavy load, I can tell you,' said the female, coming up,
almost breathless with fatigue.

'Heavy! What are yer talking about? What are yer made for?'
rejoined the male traveller, changing his own little bundle as he
spoke, to the other shoulder. 'Oh, there yer are, resting again!
Well, if yer ain't enough to tire anybody's patience out, I don't
know what is!'

'Is it much farther?' asked the woman, resting herself against a
bank, and looking up with the perspiration streaming from her

'Much farther! Yer as good as there,' said the long-legged
tramper, pointing out before him. 'Look there! Those are the
lights of London.'

'They're a good two mile off, at least,' said the woman

'Never mind whether they're two mile off, or twenty,' said Noah
Claypole; for he it was; 'but get up and come on, or I'll kick
yer, and so I give yer notice.'

As Noah's red nose grew redder with anger, and as he crossed the
road while speaking, as if fully prepared to put his threat into
execution, the woman rose without any further remark, and trudged
onward by his side.

'Where do you mean to stop for the night, Noah?' she asked, after
they had walked a few hundred yards.

'How should I know?' replied Noah, whose temper had been
considerably impaired by walking.

'Near, I hope,' said Charlotte.

'No, not near,' replied Mr. Claypole. 'There! Not near; so
don't think it.'

'Why not?'

'When I tell yer that I don't mean to do a thing, that's enough,
without any why or because either,' replied Mr. Claypole with

'Well, you needn't be so cross,' said his companion.

'A pretty thing it would be, wouldn't it to go and stop at the
very first public-house outside the town, so that Sowerberry, if
he come up after us, might poke in his old nose, and have us
taken back in a cart with handcuffs on,' said Mr. Claypole in a
jeering tone. 'No! I shall go and lose myself among the
narrowest streets I can find, and not stop till we come to the
very out-of-the-wayest house I can set eyes on. 'Cod, yer may
thanks yer stars I've got a head; for if we hadn't gone, at
first, the wrong road a purpose, and come back across country,
yer'd have been locked up hard and fast a week ago, my lady. And
serve yer right for being a fool.'

'I know I ain't as cunning as you are,' replied Charlotte; 'but
don't put all the blame on me, and say I should have been locked
up. You would have been if I had been, any way.'

'Yer took the money from the till, yer know yer did,' said Mr.

'I took it for you, Noah, dear,' rejoined Charlotte.

'Did I keep it?' asked Mr. Claypole.

'No; you trusted in me, and let me carry it like a dear, and so
you are,' said the lady, chucking him under the chin, and drawing
her arm through his.

This was indeed the case; but as it was not Mr. Claypole's habit
to repose a blind and foolish confidence in anybody, it should be
observed, in justice to that gentleman, that he had trusted
Charlotte to this extent, in order that, if they were pursued,
the money might be found on her: which would leave him an
opportunity of asserting his innocence of any theft, and would
greatly facilitate his chances of escape. Of course, he entered
at this juncture, into no explanation of his motives, and they
walked on very lovingly together.

In pursuance of this cautious plan, Mr. Claypole went on, without
halting, until he arrived at the Angel at Islington, where he
wisely judged, from the crowd of passengers and numbers of
vehicles, that London began in earnest. Just pausing to observe
which appeared the most crowded streets, and consequently the
most to be avoided, he crossed into Saint John's Road, and was
soon deep in the obscurity of the intricate and dirty ways,
which, lying between Gray's Inn Lane and Smithfield, render that
part of the town one of the lowest and worst that improvement has
left in the midst of London.

Through these streets, Noah Claypole walked, dragging Charlotte
after him; now stepping into the kennel to embrace at a glance
the whole external character of some small public-house; now
jogging on again, as some fancied appearance induced him to
believe it too public for his purpose. At length, he stopped in
front of one, more humble in appearance and more dirty than any
he had yet seen; and, having crossed over and surveyed it from
the opposite pavement, graciously announced his intention of
putting up there, for the night.

'So give us the bundle,' said Noah, unstrapping it from the
woman's shoulders, and slinging it over his own; 'and don't yer
speak, except when yer spoke to. What's the name of the
house--t-h-r--three what?'

'Cripples,' said Charlotte.

'Three Cripples,' repeated Noah, 'and a very good sign too. Now,
then! Keep close at my heels, and come along.' With these
injunctions, he pushed the rattling door with his shoulder, and
entered the house, followed by his companion.

There was nobody in the bar but a young Jew, who, with his two
elbows on the counter, was reading a dirty newspaper. He stared
very hard at Noah, and Noah stared very hard at him.

If Noah had been attired in his charity-boy's dress, there might
have been some reason for the Jew opening his eyes so wide; but
as he had discarded the coat and badge, and wore a short
smock-frock over his leathers, there seemed no particular reason
for his appearance exciting so much attention in a public-house.

'Is this the Three Cripples?' asked Noah.

'That is the dabe of this 'ouse,' replied the Jew.

'A gentleman we met on the road, coming up from the country,
recommended us here,' said Noah, nudging Charlotte, perhaps to
call her attention to this most ingenious device for attracting
respect, and perhaps to warn her to betray no surprise. 'We want
to sleep here to-night.'

'I'b dot certaid you cad,' said Barney, who was the attendant
sprite; 'but I'll idquire.'

'Show us the tap, and give us a bit of cold meat and a drop of
beer while yer inquiring, will yer?' said Noah.

Barney complied by ushering them into a small back-room, and
setting the required viands before them; having done which, he
informed the travellers that they could be lodged that night, and
left the amiable couple to their refreshment.

Now, this back-room was immediately behind the bar, and some
steps lower, so that any person connected with the house,
undrawing a small curtain which concealed a single pane of glass
fixed in the wall of the last-named apartment, about five feet
from its flooring, could not only look down upon any guests in
the back-room without any great hazard of being observed (the
glass being in a dark angle of the wall, between which and a
large upright beam the observer had to thrust himself), but
could, by applying his ear to the partition, ascertain with
tolerable distinctness, their subject of conversation. The
landlord of the house had not withdrawn his eye from this place
of espial for five minutes, and Barney had only just returned
from making the communication above related, when Fagin, in the
course of his evening's business, came into the bar to inquire
after some of his young pupils.

'Hush!' said Barney: 'stradegers id the next roob.'

'Strangers!' repeated the old man in a whisper.

'Ah! Ad rub uds too,' added Barney. 'Frob the cuttry, but
subthig in your way, or I'b bistaked.'

Fagin appeared to receive this communication with great interest.

Mounting a stool, he cautiously applied his eye to the pane of
glass, from which secret post he could see Mr. Claypole taking
cold beef from the dish, and porter from the pot, and
administering homeopathic doses of both to Charlotte, who sat
patiently by, eating and drinking at his pleasure.

'Aha!' he whispered, looking round to Barney, 'I like that
fellow's looks. He'd be of use to us; he knows how to train the
girl already. Don't make as much noise as a mouse, my dear, and
let me hear 'em talk--let me hear 'em.'

He again applied his eye to the glass, and turning his ear to the
partition, listened attentively: with a subtle and eager look
upon his face, that might have appertained to some old goblin.

'So I mean to be a gentleman,' said Mr. Claypole, kicking out his
legs, and continuing a conversation, the commencement of which
Fagin had arrived too late to hear. 'No more jolly old coffins,
Charlotte, but a gentleman's life for me: and, if yer like, yer
shall be a lady.'

'I should like that well enough, dear,' replied Charlotte; 'but
tills ain't to be emptied every day, and people to get clear off
after it.'

'Tills be blowed!' said Mr. Claypole; 'there's more things
besides tills to be emptied.'

'What do you mean?' asked his companion.

'Pockets, women's ridicules, houses, mail-coaches, banks!' said
Mr. Claypole, rising with the porter.

'But you can't do all that, dear,' said Charlotte.

'I shall look out to get into company with them as can,' replied
Noah. 'They'll be able to make us useful some way or another.
Why, you yourself are worth fifty women; I never see such a
precious sly and deceitful creetur as yer can be when I let yer.'

'Lor, how nice it is to hear yer say so!' exclaimed Charlotte,
imprinting a kiss upon his ugly face.

'There, that'll do: don't yer be too affectionate, in case I'm
cross with yer,' said Noah, disengaging himself with great
gravity. 'I should like to be the captain of some band, and have
the whopping of 'em, and follering 'em about, unbeknown to
themselves. That would suit me, if there was good profit; and if
we could only get in with some gentleman of this sort, I say it
would be cheap at that twenty-pound note you've got,--especially
as we don't very well know how to get rid of it ourselves.'

After expressing this opinion, Mr. Claypole looked into the
porter-pot with an aspect of deep wisdom; and having well shaken
its contents, nodded condescendingly to Charlotte, and took a
draught, wherewith he appeared greatly refreshed. He was
meditating another, when the sudden opening of the door, and the
appearance of a stranger, interrupted him.

The stranger was Mr. Fagin. And very amiable he looked, and a
very low bow he made, as he advanced, and setting himself down at
the nearest table, ordered something to drink of the grinning

'A pleasant night, sir, but cool for the time of year,' said
Fagin, rubbing his hands. 'From the country, I see, sir?'

'How do yer see that?' asked Noah Claypole.

'We have not so much dust as that in London,' replied Fagin,
pointing from Noah's shoes to those of his companion, and from
them to the two bundles.

'Yer a sharp feller,' said Noah. 'Ha! ha! only hear that,

'Why, one need be sharp in this town, my dear,' replied the Jew,
sinking his voice to a confidential whisper; 'and that's the

Fagin followed up this remark by striking the side of his nose
with his right forefinger,--a gesture which Noah attempted to
imitate, though not with complete success, in consequence of his
own nose not being large enough for the purpose. However, Mr.
Fagin seemed to interpret the endeavour as expressing a perfect
coincidence with his opinion, and put about the liquor which
Barney reappeared with, in a very friendly manner.

'Good stuff that,' observed Mr. Claypole, smacking his lips.

'Dear!' said Fagin. 'A man need be always emptying a till, or a
pocket, or a woman's reticule, or a house, or a mail-coach, or a
bank, if he drinks it regularly.'

Mr. Claypole no sooner heard this extract from his own remarks
than he fell back in his chair, and looked from the Jew to
Charlotte with a countenance of ashy paleness and excessive

'Don't mind me, my dear,' said Fagin, drawing his chair closer.
'Ha! ha! it was lucky it was only me that heard you by chance.
It was very lucky it was only me.'

'I didn't take it,' stammered Noah, no longer stretching out his
legs like an independent gentleman, but coiling them up as well
as he could under his chair; 'it was all her doing; yer've got it
now, Charlotte, yer know yer have.'

'No matter who's got it, or who did it, my dear,' replied Fagin,
glancing, nevertheless, with a hawk's eye at the girl and the two
bundles. 'I'm in that way myself, and I like you for it.'

'In what way?' asked Mr. Claypole, a little recovering.

'In that way of business,' rejoined Fagin; 'and so are the people
of the house. You've hit the right nail upon the head, and are
as safe here as you could be. There is not a safer place in all
this town than is the Cripples; that is, when I like to make it
so. And I have taken a fancy to you and the young woman; so I've
said the word, and you may make your minds easy.'

Noah Claypole's mind might have been at ease after this
assurance, but his body certainly was not; for he shuffled and
writhed about, into various uncouth positions: eyeing his new
friend meanwhile with mingled fear and suspicion.

'I'll tell you more,' said Fagin, after he had reassured the
girl, by dint of friendly nods and muttered encouragements. 'I
have got a friend that I think can gratify your darling wish, and
put you in the right way, where you can take whatever department
of the business you think will suit you best at first, and be
taught all the others.'

'Yer speak as if yer were in earnest,' replied Noah.

'What advantage would it be to me to be anything else?' inquired
Fagin, shrugging his shoulders. 'Here! Let me have a word with
you outside.'

'There's no occasion to trouble ourselves to move,' said Noah,
getting his legs by gradual degrees abroad again. 'She'll take
the luggage upstairs the while. Charlotte, see to them bundles.'

This mandate, which had been delivered with great majesty, was
obeyed without the slightest demur; and Charlotte made the best
of her way off with the packages while Noah held the door open
and watched her out.

'She's kept tolerably well under, ain't she?' he asked as he
resumed his seat: in the tone of a keeper who had tamed some
wild animal.

'Quite perfect,' rejoined Fagin, clapping him on the shoulder.
'You're a genius, my dear.'

'Why, I suppose if I wasn't, I shouldn't be here,' replied Noah.
'But, I say, she'll be back if yer lose time.'

'Now, what do you think?' said Fagin. 'If you was to like my
friend, could you do better than join him?'

'Is he in a good way of business; that's where it is!' responded
Noah, winking one of his little eyes.

'The top of the tree; employs a power of hands; has the very best
society in the profession.'

'Regular town-maders?' asked Mr. Claypole.

'Not a countryman among 'em; and I don't think he'd take you,
even on my recommendation, if he didn't run rather short of
assistants just now,' replied Fagin.

'Should I have to hand over?' said Noah, slapping his

'It couldn't possibly be done without,' replied Fagin, in a most
decided manner.

'Twenty pound, though--it's a lot of money!'

'Not when it's in a note you can't get rid of,' retorted Fagin.
'Number and date taken, I suppose? Payment stopped at the Bank?
Ah! It's not worth much to him. It'll have to go abroad, and he
couldn't sell it for a great deal in the market.'

'When could I see him?' asked Noah doubtfully.

'To-morrow morning.'



'Um!' said Noah. 'What's the wages?'

'Live like a gentleman--board and lodging, pipes and spirits
free--half of all you earn, and half of all the young woman
earns,' replied Mr. Fagin.

Whether Noah Claypole, whose rapacity was none of the least
comprehensive, would have acceded even to these glowing terms,
had he been a perfectly free agent, is very doubtful; but as he
recollected that, in the event of his refusal, it was in the
power of his new acquaintance to give him up to justice
immediately (and more unlikely things had come to pass), he
gradually relented, and said he thought that would suit him.

'But, yer see,' observed Noah, 'as she will be able to do a good
deal, I should like to take something very light.'

'A little fancy work?' suggested Fagin.

'Ah! something of that sort,' replied Noah. 'What do you think
would suit me now? Something not too trying for the strength,
and not very dangerous, you know. That's the sort of thing!'

'I heard you talk of something in the spy way upon the others, my
dear,' said Fagin. 'My friend wants somebody who would do that
well, very much.'

'Why, I did mention that, and I shouldn't mind turning my hand to
it sometimes,' rejoined Mr. Claypole slowly; 'but it wouldn't pay
by itself, you know.'

'That's true!' observed the Jew, ruminating or pretending to
ruminate. 'No, it might not.'

'What do you think, then?' asked Noah, anxiously regarding him.
'Something in the sneaking way, where it was pretty sure work,
and not much more risk than being at home.'

'What do you think of the old ladies?' asked Fagin. 'There's a
good deal of money made in snatching their bags and parcels, and
running round the corner.'

'Don't they holler out a good deal, and scratch sometimes?' asked
Noah, shaking his head. 'I don't think that would answer my
purpose. Ain't there any other line open?'

'Stop!' said Fagin, laying his hand on Noah's knee. 'The kinchin

'What's that?' demanded Mr. Claypole.

'The kinchins, my dear,' said Fagin, 'is the young children
that's sent on errands by their mothers, with sixpences and
shillings; and the lay is just to take their money away--they've
always got it ready in their hands,--then knock 'em into the
kennel, and walk off very slow, as if there were nothing else the
matter but a child fallen down and hurt itself. Ha! ha! ha!'

'Ha! ha!' roared Mr. Claypole, kicking up his legs in an ecstasy.
'Lord, that's the very thing!'

'To be sure it is,' replied Fagin; 'and you can have a few good
beats chalked out in Camden Town, and Battle Bridge, and
neighborhoods like that, where they're always going errands; and
you can upset as many kinchins as you want, any hour in the day.
Ha! ha! ha!'

With this, Fagin poked Mr. Claypole in the side, and they joined
in a burst of laughter both long and loud.

'Well, that's all right!' said Noah, when he had recovered
himself, and Charlotte had returned. 'What time to-morrow shall
we say?'

'Will ten do?' asked Fagin, adding, as Mr. Claypole nodded
assent, 'What name shall I tell my good friend.'

'Mr. Bolter,' replied Noah, who had prepared himself for such
emergency. 'Mr. Morris Bolter. This is Mrs. Bolter.'

'Mrs. Bolter's humble servant,' said Fagin, bowing with grotesque
politeness. 'I hope I shall know her better very shortly.'

'Do you hear the gentleman, Charlotte?' thundered Mr. Claypole.

'Yes, Noah, dear!' replied Mrs. Bolter, extending her hand.

'She calls me Noah, as a sort of fond way of talking,' said Mr.
Morris Bolter, late Claypole, turning to Fagin. 'You

'Oh yes, I understand--perfectly,' replied Fagin, telling the
truth for once. 'Good-night! Good-night!'

With many adieus and good wishes, Mr. Fagin went his way. Noah
Claypole, bespeaking his good lady's attention, proceeded to
enlighten her relative to the arrangement he had made, with all
that haughtiness and air of superiority, becoming, not only a
member of the sterner sex, but a gentleman who appreciated the
dignity of a special appointment on the kinchin lay, in London
and its vicinity.



'And so it was you that was your own friend, was it?' asked Mr.
Claypole, otherwise Bolter, when, by virtue of the compact
entered into between them, he had removed next day to Fagin's
house. ''Cod, I thought as much last night!'

'Every man's his own friend, my dear,' replied Fagin, with his
most insinuating grin. 'He hasn't as good a one as himself

'Except sometimes,' replied Morris Bolter, assuming the air of a
man of the world. 'Some people are nobody's enemies but their
own, yer know.'

'Don't believe that,' said Fagin. 'When a man's his own enemy,
it's only because he's too much his own friend; not because he's
careful for everybody but himself. Pooh! pooh! There ain't such
a thing in nature.'

'There oughn't to be, if there is,' replied Mr. Bolter.

'That stands to reason. Some conjurers say that number three is
the magic number, and some say number seven. It's neither, my
friend, neither. It's number one.

'Ha! ha!' cried Mr. Bolter. 'Number one for ever.'

'In a little community like ours, my dear,' said Fagin, who felt
it necessary to qualify this position, 'we have a general number
one, without considering me too as the same, and all the other
young people.'

'Oh, the devil!' exclaimed Mr. Bolter.

'You see,' pursued Fagin, affecting to disregard this
interruption, 'we are so mixed up together, and identified in our
interests, that it must be so. For instance, it's your object to
take care of number one--meaning yourself.'

'Certainly,' replied Mr. Bolter. 'Yer about right there.'

'Well! You can't take care of yourself, number one, without
taking care of me, number one.'

'Number two, you mean,' said Mr. Bolter, who was largely endowed
with the quality of selfishness.

'No, I don't!' retorted Fagin. 'I'm of the same importance to
you, as you are to yourself.'

'I say,' interrupted Mr. Bolter, 'yer a very nice man, and I'm
very fond of yer; but we ain't quite so thick together, as all
that comes to.'

'Only think,' said Fagin, shrugging his shoulders, and stretching
out his hands; 'only consider. You've done what's a very pretty
thing, and what I love you for doing; but what at the same time
would put the cravat round your throat, that's so very easily
tied and so very difficult to unloose--in plain English, the

Mr. Bolter put his hand to his neckerchief, as if he felt it
inconveniently tight; and murmured an assent, qualified in tone
but not in substance.

'The gallows,' continued Fagin, 'the gallows, my dear, is an ugly
finger-post, which points out a very short and sharp turning that
has stopped many a bold fellow's career on the broad highway. To
keep in the easy road, and keep it at a distance, is object
number one with you.'

'Of course it is,' replied Mr. Bolter. 'What do yer talk about
such things for?'

'Only to show you my meaning clearly,' said the Jew, raising his
eyebrows. 'To be able to do that, you depend upon me. To keep my
little business all snug, I depend upon you. The first is your
number one, the second my number one. The more you value your
number one, the more careful you must be of mine; so we come at
last to what I told you at first--that a regard for number one
holds us all together, and must do so, unless we would all go to
pieces in company.'

'That's true,' rejoined Mr. Bolter, thoughtfully. 'Oh! yer a
cunning old codger!'

Mr. Fagin saw, with delight, that this tribute to his powers was
no mere compliment, but that he had really impressed his recruit
with a sense of his wily genius, which it was most important that
he should entertain in the outset of their acquaintance. To
strengthen an impression so desirable and useful, he followed up
the blow by acquainting him, in some detail, with the magnitude
and extent of his operations; blending truth and fiction
together, as best served his purpose; and bringing both to bear,
with so much art, that Mr. Bolter's respect visibly increased,
and became tempered, at the same time, with a degree of wholesome
fear, which it was highly desirable to awaken.

'It's this mutual trust we have in each other that consoles me
under heavy losses,' said Fagin. 'My best hand was taken from
me, yesterday morning.'

'You don't mean to say he died?' cried Mr. Bolter.

'No, no,' replied Fagin, 'not so bad as that. Not quite so bad.'

'What, I suppose he was--'

'Wanted,' interposed Fagin. 'Yes, he was wanted.'

'Very particular?' inquired Mr. Bolter.

'No,' replied Fagin, 'not very. He was charged with attempting
to pick a pocket, and they found a silver snuff-box on him,--his
own, my dear, his own, for he took snuff himself, and was very
fond of it. They remanded him till to-day, for they thought they
knew the owner. Ah! he was worth fifty boxes, and I'd give the
price of as many to have him back. You should have known the
Dodger, my dear; you should have known the Dodger.'

'Well, but I shall know him, I hope; don't yer think so?' said
Mr. Bolter.

'I'm doubtful about it,' replied Fagin, with a sigh. 'If they
don't get any fresh evidence, it'll only be a summary conviction,
and we shall have him back again after six weeks or so; but, if
they do, it's a case of lagging. They know what a clever lad he
is; he'll be a lifer. They'll make the Artful nothing less than
a lifer.'

'What do you mean by lagging and a lifer?' demanded Mr. Bolter.
'What's the good of talking in that way to me; why don't yer
speak so as I can understand yer?'

Fagin was about to translate these mysterious expressions into
the vulgar tongue; and, being interpreted, Mr. Bolter would have
been informed that they represented that combination of words,
'transportation for life,' when the dialogue was cut short by the
entry of Master Bates, with his hands in his breeches-pockets,
and his face twisted into a look of semi-comical woe.

'It's all up, Fagin,' said Charley, when he and his new companion
had been made known to each other.

'What do you mean?'

'They've found the gentleman as owns the box; two or three more's
a coming to 'dentify him; and the Artful's booked for a passage
out,' replied Master Bates. 'I must have a full suit of
mourning, Fagin, and a hatband, to wisit him in, afore he sets
out upon his travels. To think of Jack Dawkins--lummy Jack--the
Dodger--the Artful Dodger--going abroad for a common
twopenny-halfpenny sneeze-box! I never thought he'd a done it
under a gold watch, chain, and seals, at the lowest. Oh, why
didn't he rob some rich old gentleman of all his walables, and go
out as a gentleman, and not like a common prig, without no honour
nor glory!'

With this expression of feeling for his unfortunate friend,
Master Bates sat himself on the nearest chair with an aspect of
chagrin and despondency.

'What do you talk about his having neither honour nor glory for!'
exclaimed Fagin, darting an angry look at his pupil. 'Wasn't he
always the top-sawyer among you all! Is there one of you that
could touch him or come near him on any scent! Eh?'

'Not one,' replied Master Bates, in a voice rendered husky by
regret; 'not one.'

'Then what do you talk of?' replied Fagin angrily; 'what are you
blubbering for?'

''Cause it isn't on the rec-ord, is it?' said Charley, chafed
into perfect defiance of his venerable friend by the current of
his regrets; ''cause it can't come out in the 'dictment; 'cause
nobody will never know half of what he was. How will he stand in
the Newgate Calendar? P'raps not be there at all. Oh, my eye,
my eye, wot a blow it is!'

'Ha! ha!' cried Fagin, extending his right hand, and turning to
Mr. Bolter in a fit of chuckling which shook him as though he had
the palsy; 'see what a pride they take in their profession, my
dear. Ain't it beautiful?'

Mr. Bolter nodded assent, and Fagin, after contemplating the
grief of Charley Bates for some seconds with evident
satisfaction, stepped up to that young gentleman and patted him
on the shoulder.

'Never mind, Charley,' said Fagin soothingly; 'it'll come out,
it'll be sure to come out. They'll all know what a clever fellow
he was; he'll show it himself, and not disgrace his old pals and
teachers. Think how young he is too! What a distinction,
Charley, to be lagged at his time of life!'

'Well, it is a honour that is!' said Charley, a little consoled.

'He shall have all he wants,' continued the Jew. 'He shall be
kept in the Stone Jug, Charley, like a gentleman. Like a
gentleman! With his beer every day, and money in his pocket to
pitch and toss with, if he can't spend it.'

'No, shall he though?' cried Charley Bates.

'Ay, that he shall,' replied Fagin, 'and we'll have a big-wig,
Charley: one that's got the greatest gift of the gab: to carry
on his defence; and he shall make a speech for himself too, if he
likes; and we'll read it all in the papers--"Artful
Dodger--shrieks of laughter--here the court was convulsed"--eh,
Charley, eh?'

'Ha! ha!' laughed Master Bates, 'what a lark that would be,
wouldn't it, Fagin? I say, how the Artful would bother 'em
wouldn't he?'

'Would!' cried Fagin. 'He shall--he will!'

'Ah, to be sure, so he will,' repeated Charley, rubbing his

'I think I see him now,' cried the Jew, bending his eyes upon his

'So do I,' cried Charley Bates. 'Ha! ha! ha! so do I. I see it
all afore me, upon my soul I do, Fagin. What a game! What a
regular game! All the big-wigs trying to look solemn, and Jack
Dawkins addressing of 'em as intimate and comfortable as if he
was the judge's own son making a speech arter dinner--ha! ha!

In fact, Mr. Fagin had so well humoured his young friend's
eccentric disposition, that Master Bates, who had at first been
disposed to consider the imprisoned Dodger rather in the light of
a victim, now looked upon him as the chief actor in a scene of
most uncommon and exquisite humour, and felt quite impatient for
the arrival of the time when his old companion should have so
favourable an opportunity of displaying his abilities.

'We must know how he gets on to-day, by some handy means or
other,' said Fagin. 'Let me think.'

'Shall I go?' asked Charley.

'Not for the world,' replied Fagin. 'Are you mad, my dear, stark
mad, that you'd walk into the very place where--No, Charley, no.
One is enough to lose at a time.'

'You don't mean to go yourself, I suppose?' said Charley with a
humorous leer.

'That wouldn't quite fit,' replied Fagin shaking his head.

'Then why don't you send this new cove?' asked Master Bates,
laying his hand on Noah's arm. 'Nobody knows him.'

'Why, if he didn't mind--' observed Fagin.

'Mind!' interposed Charley. 'What should he have to mind?'

'Really nothing, my dear,' said Fagin, turning to Mr. Bolter,
'really nothing.'

'Oh, I dare say about that, yer know,' observed Noah, backing
towards the door, and shaking his head with a kind of sober
alarm. 'No, no--none of that. It's not in my department, that

'Wot department has he got, Fagin?' inquired Master Bates,
surveying Noah's lank form with much disgust. 'The cutting away
when there's anything wrong, and the eating all the wittles when
there's everything right; is that his branch?'

'Never mind,' retorted Mr. Bolter; 'and don't yer take liberties
with yer superiors, little boy, or yer'll find yerself in the
wrong shop.'

Master Bates laughed so vehemently at this magnificent threat,
that it was some time before Fagin could interpose, and represent
to Mr. Bolter that he incurred no possible danger in visiting the
police-office; that, inasmuch as no account of the little affair
in which he had engaged, nor any description of his person, had
yet been forwarded to the metropolis, it was very probable that

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