Charles Dickens’ popular classic. Oliver Twist, is excellently read by Mill Nicholson.
There is a companion website that supplements this YouTube channel at —
Mill Nicholson read this work for Librivox. Gary and Mill Nicholson have a web page at
The image I used for the cover is by Nestor Taylor, whose work can be found at nestortaylor.blogspot.com
chapter 18 of Oliver Twist recorded by mill Nicholson how Oliver passed his time in the improving Society of his reputable friends about known next day when the Dodger and master Bates had gone out to pursue their customary avocations mr. Fagin took the opportunity of reading Oliver a long lecture on the crying sin of ingratitude of which he clearly demonstrated he had been guilty to no ordinary extent and wilfully absent in himself from the Society of his anxious friends and still more in endeavouring to escape from them after so much trouble and expense had been incurred in his recovery mr. Fagin laid great stress on the fact of his having taken Oliver in and cherished him when without his timely aid he might have perished with hunger and he related the dismal and affecting history of a young lad whom in his philanthropy he had suffered under parallel circumstances but who proving unworthy of his confidence and evincing a desire to communicate with the police had unfortunately come to be hanged at the Old Bailey one morning mr. Fagin did not seek to conceal his share in the catastrophe but lamented with tears in his eyes at the wrongheaded and treacherous behavior of the young person in question had rendered it necessary that he should become the victim of certain evidence for the crown which if it were not precisely true was indispensably necessary for the safety of him mr. Fagin and a few select friends mr. Fagin concluded by drawing a rather disagreeable picture of the discomforts of hanging and with great friendliness and politeness of manner expressed his anxious hopes that he might never be obliged to submit Oliver Twist to that unpleasant operation little Oliver's blood ran cold as he listened to the Jews words and imperfectly comprehended the dark threats conveyed in them that it was possible even for justice itself to confound the innocent with the guilty when there were an accidental companionship he knew already and the deeply laid plans on the destruction of inconveniently knowing or the communicative persons had been really devised and carried out by the Jew on more occasions than one he thought by no means unlikely when he recollected the general nature of the altercations between that gentleman and mr. Sikes which seemed to bear reference to some foregone conspiracy of the kind as he glanced timidly up and met the Jews search and look he felt that his pale face and trembling limbs were neither unnoticed nor unrushed by that weary old gentleman the Jew smiling hideously patted Oliver on the head and said that if he kept himself quiet and applied himself to business he saw they would be very good friends yet then taking his hat and covering himself with an old patched great coat he went out and locked the room door behind him and so Oliver remained all that day and for the greater part of many subsequent days seeing nobody between early morning and midnight and left during the long hours to commune with his own thoughts which never failing to revert to his kind friends and the opinion they must long ago are formed of him were sad indeed after the lapse of a weaker cell the Jew left the room door unlocked and he was at liberty to wander about the house it was a very dirty place the rooms upstairs had great high wooden chimney pieces and large doors with paneled walls and cornices to the ceiling which although they were black with neglect and dust were ornamented in various ways from all of these tokens oliver concluded that a long time ago before the old jew was born it had belonged to better people and had perhaps been quite gay and handsome dismal and dreary as it looked now spiders had built their webs and the angles of the walls and ceilings and sometimes when Oliver walked softly into a room the mice was scamper across the floor and run back terrified to their holes with these exceptions there was neither sight nor sound of any living thing and often when it grew dark and he was tired of wandering from room to room he would crouch in the corner of the passage by the street door to be as near living people as he could and would remain there listening and counting the hours until the Jew or the boys returned in all the rooms the moldering shutters were fast closed the bars which held them were screwed tight into the wood the only light which was admitted stealing its way through round holes at the top which made the rooms more gloomy and filled them with strange shadows there was a back Garret window with rusty bars outside which had no shutter and out of this Oliver often gazed for The Melancholy face for hours together but nothing was to be displayed from it but a confused and crowded massive house tops blackened chimneys and gable ends sometimes indeed at grisly head might be seen appearing over the parapet wall of a distant house but it was quickly withdrawn again and as the window of Oliver's observatory was nailed down and dimmed with the rain and smoke of years it was as much as he could do to make out the forms of the different objects beyond without making any attempt to be seen or heard which he had as much chance of being as if he had lived inside the ball of st. Paul's Cathedral one afternoon the Dodger and master Bates being engaged out that evening the first named young gentlemen took it into his head to evinced some anxiety regarding the decoration of his person to do him justice this is by no means an habitual weakness with him and with this end and aim he condescendingly commanded oliver to assist him in his toilet straightway oliver was but too glad to make himself useful too happy to have some faces however bared to look upon too desirous to conciliate those about him when he could honestly do so to throw any objection in the way of this proposal so he had once expressed his readiness and kneeling on the floor while the dodger sat upon the table so that he could take his foot in his laps he applied himself to a process which mr. Dawkins designated as Japan in his Trotter cases the phrase rendered into plain English signify of cleaning his boots whether it was the sense of freedom and independence which a rational animal maybe supposed to feel when he sits on a table in an easy attitude smoking a pipe swinging one leg carelessly to and fro and having his boots cleaned all the time without even the past trouble of having taken them off or the prospective mystery of putting them on to disturb his reflections or whether it was the goodness of the tobacco that Seward the feelings of the Dodger or the mildness of the beer that mollified his thoughts he was evidently tinctured for the nonce for the spice of romance at enthusiasm foreign to his general nature he looked down on Oliver with a thoughtful countenance for a brief space and then raising his head and heaving a gentle sigh said half an abstraction and half to masturbates what a pity it is he isn't a prig ah said master Charles Bates he doesn't know what's good for him the Dodger sighed again and resumed his pipe as did Charley Bates they both smoked for some seconds in silence I'm surprised you don't even know what a prig is said the Dodger mournfully I think I know that provide Oliver looking up it's a you're one are you not and cried Oliver checking himself oh I am replied the Dodger oh it's got to be anything else mr. Dawkins gave his hat a ferocious cock after delivering this sentiment and looked at master Bates as if to denote that he would feel obliged by his saying anything to the contrary I am repeated the Dodger sorrows Charley satisfied and so Sikes so Nancy sounds bit so we all are down at the dog and he's the downest one of the lot and at least given to peach in added Charley Bates he wouldn't so much as bark in a witness box for fear of committing himself no not if you're tired he might been warned and left him there without whittles for a fortnight said the Dodger got a bit of it observed Charley he's a rum dog don't look fierce at any strange Co that laughs Orson when he's in company pursued the Dodger but we growl all when he is a fiddle playing and only eight other dog does eight of his breed oh no he's an out-and-out Christian said Charlie this is merely intended as a tribute to the animals abilities but it was an appropriate remark in another sense if master bates had only known it there are a good many ladies and gentlemen claiming to be out-and-out Christians between whom and mr. Sykes's dog there exists strong and singular points of resemblance well-well to the Dodger recurring to the point from which they had strayed with that mindfulness of his profession which influenced all his proceedings this hasn't got anything to do with young green here now Maureen has said Charlie why don't you put yourself under Fagin Oliver and mate your fortune out of and out of the Dodger with the grin and so be able to retire on your property and do the genteel as I mean to in the very next leap year but for whoever comes and the forty second Tuesday infinity week said Charley Bates I don't like it rejoined Oliver timidly I wish they would let me go I would rather girl and Fagin would rather not for join Charlie Oliver knew this too well but thinking it might be dangerous to express his feelings more openly he only sighed and went on with his boot cleaning girl exclaimed the Dodger why where's your spirit don't you take any pride out of yourself would you go and be dependent on your friends they'll know that said master Bates joined two or three silk handkerchief from his pocket and tossing them into a cupboard that's to mean that is oh I couldn't do it said the Dodger with an air of haughty disgust you can leave your friends though said Oliver with a half smile and let them be punished for what you did their hat rejoined the Dodger for the wave of his pipe that was all wear of consideration for Phaethon calls the traps know that we work together and he might have got into trouble if we hadn't made our lucky that was a move wasn't it charlie master bates nodded assent and would have spoken but the recollection of Oliver's flight came so suddenly upon him that the smoke he was inhaling but entangled with a laugh and went up into his head and down into his throat and brought on a fit of coughing and stamping about five minutes long look here said the Dodger joined for the handful of shillings and havens he is a jolly life horsey odds where he comes from here catch old there's plenty more where they were took from you won't won't you now you precious fret it's naughty ain't it Oliver inquired Charley Bates you come to be scraggly I don't know what that means replied Oliver something in this way old fella said Charley as he said it master Bates caught up an end of his neckerchief and holding it erect in the air dropped his head on his shoulder and jerked a curious sound through his teeth thereby indicating by a lively pantomimic representation the scratching and hanging were one and the same thing that's what it means said Charley look how he stays Jack I never did see such prime company is that he a boy he be the death of me I know you will master Charley Bates having laughed heartily again resumed his pipe with tears in his eyes he had been brought up bad said the Dodger surveying his boots with much satisfaction when Oliver had polished them Fagin will make something of you though or you'll be the first he ever had that turn now unprofitable you better begin it wants for you captain the tray long before you think of it and you're only losing time Oliver masturbates back to this advice with sundry moral admonitions of his own which being exhausted he and his friend mr. Dawkins launched into a glowing description of the numerous pleasures incidental to the life they led interspersed with a variety of hints Tolliver at the best thing he could do would be to secure a Fagin's favour without more delay by the means which they themselves had employed to gain it and always put this in your part nollie said the dodger as a Jew was heard unlocking the door above if you don't take phone calls and tickers or so good of talking in that way interposed masturbates II don't know what you mean if you don't take pocket-handkerchief and Watchers said the Dodger reducing this conversation to the level of Oliver's capacity some other Cove will sell that the codes that lose him will be all the worse and you'd be all the worse too and nobody half I hate with the better except the chaps what gets him and you've just as good a right to them as they have she'll be sure to be sure said the Jew who had entered unseen by Oliver it all lies in a nutshell my dear in a nutshell take the Dodgers word for it he understands the Catechism of his trade the old man rubbed his hands briefly together as he corroborated the Dodgers reasoning in these terms and chuckled with delight at his pupils proficiency the conversation proceeded no father at this time for the Jew had returned home accompanied by Miss Betsy and a gentleman whom Oliver never seen before but who was accosted by the Dodger as Tom chitling and who having lingered on the stairs to exchange a few guarantees of the lady now made his appearance mr. chitling was older in years than the Dodger having perhaps numbered eighteen winters but there was a degree of deference in his deportment towards young gentlemen which seemed to indicate that he felt himself conscious of a slight inferiority in point of genius and professional requirements he had small twinkling eyes and a pockmarked face or a fur cap a dark corduroy jacket greasy fustian trousers and an apron his wardrobe was in truth rather out of repair but he excused himself to the company by stating that his time was only out an hour before and that in consequence of having worn the regimentals for six weeks past he had not been able to bestow any attention on his private clothes mr. chitling added the strong marks of irritation that the new way of fumigating clothes up yonder was infirm or unconstitutional for it burnt holes in them and there was no remedy against the county the same remark he considered to apply to the regulation mode of cutting the hair which he held to be decidedly unlawful mr. chitling bound up his observations by stating that he had not touched a drop of anything for forty to moral long hard working days and that he wished he might be busted if he want as dry as a lime basket where do you think the gentleman has come from Oliver inquired the Jew with the grin as the other boys put a bottle of spirits on the table I don't know sir replied Oliver knows that and quiet Tom chitling casting a contemptuous look at Oliver a young friend of mine my dear replied the Jew asiak then said the young man for the meaning look at Fagin never mind where I came from youngin you'll find your way there soon enough I bet a crown at this Sally the boys laughed after some more jokes on the same subject they exchanged a few short whispers with Fagin and withdrew after some words apart between the last comer and Fagin they drew their chairs towards the fire and the Jew telling Oliver to come and sit by him led the conversation to the topics most calculated to interest his IRA's these were the great advantages of the trade the proficiency of the dodger the ami ability of Charley Bates and the liberality of the Jew himself at length these subjects displayed signs of being thoroughly exhausted and mr. chitling did the same for the house of Correction becomes fatiguing after a week or two miss Betsy accordingly withdrew and left the party to their repose from this day Oliver was seldom left alone but was placed in almost constant communication with the two boys who played the old game with the Jew every day whether for their own improvement or Oliver's mr. Fagin best knew at other times the old man would tell them stories of robberies he had committed in his younger days mixed up with so much that was droll and curious that Oliver could not help laughing heartily and showing that he was amused in spite of all his better feelings in short the wily old Jew had the boy in his toils having prepared his mind by solitude and gloom to prefer any society to the companionship of his own sad thoughts in such a dreary place he was now slowly instilling into his soul the poison which he hoped would blacken it and change its hue forever chapter 19 in which a notable plan is discussed and determined on it was a chill damp windy night when the Jew buttoning his greatcoat tight around his shriveled body and pulling the collar up over his ears so as completely to obscure the lower part of his face emerge from his den he paused on the step as the door was locked and chained behind him and having listened while the boys made all secure and until they were treating footsteps were no longer audible slumped down the street as quickly as he could the house to which Oliver had been conveyed was in the neighbourhood of Whitechapel the Jew stopped for an instant at the corner of the street and glancing suspiciously round crossed the road and struck off in the direction of Spitalfields the mud lay thick upon the stones and a black mist hung over the streets the rain fell sluggishly down and everything felt cold and clammy to the touch it seemed just the night when it be fitted such a being as the Jew to be abroad as he glided stealthily along clipping beneath the shelter of the walls and doorways the hideous old man seemed like some loathsome reptile engendered in the slime and darkness through which he moved crawling forth by night and search of some rich awful for a meal he kept on his course through many winding and narrow ways until he reached Bethnal Green then turning suddenly off to the left he soon became involved in a maze of the mean and dirty streets which abound in that close and densely populated quarter the Jew was evidently too familiar with the ground he traversed to be at all bewildered either by the darkness of the night or the intricacies of the way he hurried through several alleys and streets and at length turned into one lighted only by a single lamp at the farther end at the door of a house in the street he knocked having exchanged a few muttered words of the person who opened it he walked upstairs a dog growled as he touched the handle of a room door and a man's voice demanded who was there only maybe oh oh they may my dear said the Jew looking in bring in your body then said Sikes lie down your stupid brute don't you know the devil when he's got a great coat on apparently the dog had been somewhat deceived by mr. Fagin's outer garment for as the Jew unbuttoned it and threw it over the back of a chair he retired to the corner from which he had risen racking his tail as he went to show that he was as well satisfied as it was in his nature to be well said Sikes well my dear replied the Jew ah Nancy the letter recognition respected was just enough of embarrassment to imply a doubt of its reception for mr. Fagin and his young friend not met since she had interfered in behalf of Oliver all doubts upon the subject if he had any was speedily removed by the young lady's behavior she took her feet off the fender pushed back her chair and bade Fagin draw appears without saying more about it for it was a cold night and no mistake yet in his car or Nancy dear said the Jew as he warmed her skinny hands over the fire it seems to go right fill one out of the old man touching his side it must be a piercer if it finds his way through your heart said Mr Sikes give him something to drink Nancy burn my body make haste it's enough to turn a man ill to see his Lee now caught the shivering in that way like ugly ghosts just rose from the grave Nancy quickly brought a bottle from a cupboard and which there were many which she judge from the diversity of their appearance were filled with several kinds of liquids Sikes pouring out a glass of brandy made the Jew drink it off quite enough quite hanky Bill replied the Jew putting down the glass after just setting his lips to it what you're afraid of are getting the better of your ire inquired Sikes fixing his eye on the Jew if the horse grunt of contempt mr. Sikes seized the glass and threw the remainder of its contents into the ashes as a preparatory ceremony to filling it again for himself which he did at once the Jew glanced round the room as his companion tossed down the second glassful not in curiosity for he had seen it often before but an arrest us and suspicious manner had bit your to him it was a meanly furnished apartment with nothing but the contents of the closet to induce the belief that his occupier was anything but a working man and with no more suspicious articles displayed to view than two or three heavy bludgeons which stood in a corner in a life-preserver that hung over the chimney-piece said sikes smacking his lips now I'm ready for business and card the jewel for business replied sikes Sal say what you got to say and routes the crib at Chertsey bill said the Jew drawing us chair forward and speaking in a very low voice yes or about it inquired Sikes ah you know what I mean my dear said the Jew in hoser our main Hennessy Tony no you don't sneered mr. Sikes War II won't and that's the same thing speak out and call things by their right names don't sit there winking and bringing and talking to me and hints as if you want the very first that thought about the robbery what do you mean oh hush said the Jew who had in vain attempted to stop this burst of indignation somebody will hear us my dear somebody will hear us let him hear said Sikes I don't care but as mr. Sikes did occur on reflection he dropped his voice as he said the words and grew calmer hey said the Jew coaxingly it was only my caution nothing more now my dear about that crib at Chertsey when is it to be done bill hey when is it to be done such plates My dear such plate said the Jew rubbing his hands and elevating his eyebrows and a rapture of anticipation watch all replied Sikes coldly nah juh beat down it all echoed the Jew leaning back in his chair no not at all for join Sikes at least it can't be a put up job as we expect it and it hasn't been properly gone about said the Jew turning pale with anger don't tell me but I will tell you retorted Sikes who are you it's not to be told oh I tell you the Toby crackit has been hanging about a place for a fortnight and he can't get one of the servants in line Dan you mean to tell me bill said the Jew softening as the other grew heated that neither the two men and a house can be got over yes I do mean to tell you so replied sikes the old lady is at him these twenty years and if you were to give him five hundred pounds they wouldn't be in it do you mean to say my dear remonstrate of the Jew the women can't be got over not a bit of it replied sikes not by flash Toby crackit said the Jew incredulously think what women are bill now not even by flesh Toby crackit replied sikes he says he's worn sham whiskers and a canary waistcoat the old breasted time he'd be loitering down there and it's all on no use he said they tried mustachios and a pair of military trousers my dear said the Jew so he did rejoined Sikes and they want or no more use and the other plant the Jew looked blank of this information after ruminating for some minutes for this chin sunk on his breast he raised his head and said for the deep sigh but if fresh Toby crackit reported a right he feared the game was up and yet said the old man dropping his hands on his knees it's and thing my dear to lose so much Hamid said hours upon it so it is said Mr Sikes Lewis luck a long silence ensued during which the Jew was punished and deep thought with his face wrinkled in an expression of villainy perfectly demoniacal Sikes item furtively from time to time Nancy apparently fearful of irritating the housebreaker set forth at eyes fixed upon the fire as if she had been deaf to all the past dragon said Sikes abruptly breaking the stillness that prevailed easy worth fifty shiners extra if he safely done from the outside yes said the Jew are suddenly rousing himself is it a bargain inquired Sikes yes my dear yes four joined the Jew his eyes listening and every muscle in his face working with the excitement of the enquiry had awakened then said Sikes thrusting aside the Jews hand with some disdain let it come off as soon as you like Toby and me or over the garden wall anarta for last sounding the panel's the door and shutters The Cribs barred up a night light to jail but there's one part we can crack safe and softly which is that bill asked the Jew eagerly why whispered Sikes and you crossed the lawn yes said the Jew bending his head forward with his eyes almost starting out of it her cried Sikes stopping short as the girl scarcely moving her head looked suddenly round and pointed for an instant to the Jews face never mind which part it is you can't do it without me I know but it's best to be on the safe side when one deals with you and you like my dear as you like replied the Jew is in Hell help-wanted but yours and Toby's nan said sikes sent a bit and a boy the first we both got a second you must find us and boy exclaimed the Jew oh then it's a panel I never mind what it is replied sikes I want the boy and he mustn't be a bigan Lord said Mr Sikes reflectively if I'd only got that young boy undead the chimbley sweepers he kept him small on purpose and let me out by the job but the father gets lagged and then the juvenile delinquent society comes and takes the boy away from a trade where he was earning money teaches him to read and write and in time makes a print assignment and so they go on said Mr Sikes his wrath rising with the recollection of his wrongs Sal they go on and if they haven't got enough money which it's a Providence they haven't we shouldn't have our fur dozen boys left in the old trade in a year or two now more we should acquiesce the Jew who had been considering during her speech and had only caught the last sentence there what now inquired Sikes the Jew nodded his head towards Nancy who was still gazing at the fire and intimated by a sign that he would have her told to leave the room Sikes shrugged his shoulders impatiently as if he thought the precaution unnecessary but complied nevertheless by requesting Miss Nancy to fetch him a jug of beer you don't want any beer said Nancy folding her arms and retaining her seat very composedly I tell you I do replied Sikes not since returned the girl coolly tell on Fagin I know what he's going to say bill he needn't mind me the Jew still hesitated Sikes looked from one to the other in some sort why you don't mind the old girl do you Fagin he asked at length you've known her long enough to trust her well the Devils in it she how you want a blab oh yeah Nancy harsh you think not replied the young lady drawing her chair up to the table and putting her elbows upon it no no idea I know you're not said the Jew that and again the old man paused but what inquired Sikes I didn't know whether she Martin perhaps we had a thoughts you know my dear as she was the other night replied the Jew at this confession Miss Nancy burst into a loud laugh and swallowing a glass of brandy shook her head with an air of defiance and burst into central exclamations of keep the gamer going never say die and the like they seemed to have the effect of reassuring both gentlemen for the Jew nodded his head with the satisfied air and resumed his seat as did mr. Sikes likewise now Fagin said Nancy of the left tell bill at once about Oliver ah you're a clever one my dear the sharpest girl I ever saw said the Jew patting her on the neck it was about Oliver I was going to speak sure enough what about him demanded Sikes he's the boy for you my dear replied the Jew in a hoarse whisper laying his finger on the side of his nose and grinning frightfully eh exclaimed Sikes having bill said Nancy I would far was in your place he might be so much up as any of the others but that's not what you want he was only you open a door for you depend upon it he's a safe one bill I know he is for joining Fagen he's been in good training these last few weeks and it's time he began to work for his bread besides the others are all too big well he is just the size I want said Mr Sikes ruminating and will do everything you once bill my dear interposed the Jew he can't help himself that is if you frightened him enough frightened him echoed Sikes it'll be no sham frightening mind you it was anything queer about him I mean what's getting to the work in for a penny in for a pound you won't see him alive again Fagin think of that before yes send him mark my words said the robber poising a crowbar which he had drawn from under the bedstead I thought of it all said the Jew with energy I've had my eye upon him my dears close close once let him feel that he is one of us once valise behind with the idea that he has been a thief and he's ours ours for joy oh he couldn't care about better the old man crossed his arms upon his breast and draw his head and shoulders into a heap literally hugged himself for joy Ana's said Sikes yours you mean their abs I do my dear said the Jew with a shrill chuckle mine if you like bill and what Sir Sikes scowling fiercely on his agreeable friend what makes you take so much pains about one chalk faced kid when you know there are fifty boys snoozing about common garden every night as you might pick and choose from become us they're of no use to me my dear replied the Jew with some confusion not worth the taking their looks convicted when they get into trouble and hollows are more when this boy properly managed my dears I did what I couldn't with 20 of them besides said the Jew recovering his self-possession he has us now if he could only give us leg bail again and he must be in the same boat with us never mind how he came there is quite enough for my power over him that was in a robbery that's all I want now how much better this is and being obliged to put the poor little boy out of the way which would be dangerous and we should lose by it besides when is it to be done asked Nancy stopping some turbulent exclamation on the part of mr. Sikes expressive of the disgust or that she received Bacon's affectation of humanity ah to be sure said the Jew when is it to be done mill our plan was Toby and I are tomorrow for joint Sykes and a surly voice every year nothing from me to the contrary good said the Jew there's no moon no rejoined Sikes it's a wall arranged about bringing off the swag is it asked the Jew Sikes nodded and about oh ah it's all planned rejoined Sikes interrupting him never mind particulars you better bring the boy you tomorrow night I should get off the stone an hour are a daybreak and you rolled your tongue I'll keep the melting-pot ready and that's all you left to do after some discussion in which all three took an active part it was decided that Nancy should repair to the Jews next evening when the night had set in and bring Oliver away with her Fagin carefully observing that if he evinced any disinclination to the task he would be more willing to accompany the girl who had so recently interfered in his behalf than anybody else it was all so solemnly arranged that poor Oliver should for the purposes of the contemplated expedition be unreservedly consigned to the care and custody of mr. William Sikes and further of the said Sykes should deal with him as he thought fit and should not be held responsible by the Jew for any miss chance or evil that might be necessary to visit him it being understood that to render the compact in this respect binding any representations made by mr. Sykes on his return should be required to be confirmed and corroborated in all important particulars by the testimony of flash Toby crackit these preliminaries adjusted mr. Sykes proceeded to drink brandy at a furious rate and to flourish the crowbar in an alarming manner yelling forth at the same time most unmusical snatches of song mingled with wild execrations at length in a fit of professional enthusiasm he insisted upon producing his box of housebreaking tools which he had no sooner stumbled in with and opened for the purpose of explaining the nature and properties of the various implements it contained and the peculiar beauties of their construction then he fell over the Box upon the floor and went to sleep where he fell gay night Nancy said the Jew muffling himself up as before goodnight their eyes met and the Jew scrutinized her narrowly there was no flinching about the girl she was a true and earnest in the matter as Toby crackit himself could be the Jew again bade her goodnight and bestowing a slight kick upon the prostrate form of mr. Sikes on her back was turned groped downstairs always the way what did the Jew to himself as he turned homeward their worst of the his womenís and a very little thing serves to call up some long-forgotten feeling and the best of them is never lost the man against the child for a bag of gold beguiling the time with these peasant reflections mr. Fagin wended his way through mud and mire to his gloomy abode where the Dodger was sitting up impatiently awaiting his return he's Oliver event I want to speak to him was his first remark as they descended the stairs eras ago replied the Dodger throwing open a door here he is the boy was lying fast asleep on a rude bed upon the floor so payer with anxiety and sadness and the closeness of his prison that he looked like death not death as it chosen shroud and coffin but in the guys at wares when life has just departed when a young and gentle spirit has but an instant fled to heaven and the gross air of the world has not had time to breathe upon the changing dust at hallowed gnats now said the Jew turning softly away tomorrow tomorrow chapter 20 wherein Oliver is delivered over to mr. William Sikes when Oliver awoke in the morning he was a good deal surprised to find that a new pair of shoes with strong thick soles had been placed at his bedside and that his old shoes had been removed at first he was pleased with the discovery hoping that it might be the forerunner of his release but such thoughts were quickly dispelled I was sitting down to breakfast along with the Jew who told him in a tone and manner which increased his alarm that he was to be taken to the residence of Bill Sikes that night stop there sir I stalled about anxiously no no my dear not to stop there replied the Jew we shouldn't like to lose you don't be afraid Oliver you should come back to us again we won't be so cruel as to send you away my dear oh no no the old man who was stooping over the fire toasting a piece of bread but ground as he bantered all of earth us and chuckled as if to show that he knew he would still be very glad to get away if he could Isuprel was said the Jew fixing his eyes on Oliver he want to know what you're going to bills for hey my dear Oliver coloured involuntarily to find that the old thief had been reading his thoughts but boldly said yes he did want to know why do you think inquired Fagin parrying the question indeed I don't know sir replied Oliver ah said the Jew turning away for the disappointed countenance from a close perusal of the boys face wait till bill tells you then the do seem much vexed by Oliver's not expressing any greater curiosity on the subject but the truth is that although Oliver felt very anxious he was too much confused by the earnest cunning of Fagin's looks and his own speculations to make any further inquiries just then he had no other opportunity for the Jew remained very surly and silent till night when he prepared to go abroad you may burn a candle said the Jew putting one upon the table and he has a book for you to read till they come to fetch you good night good night replied Oliver softly the Jew walked to the door looking over his shoulder at the boy as he went suddenly stopping he called him by his name Oliver looked up the Jew pointed to the candle motioned him delighted he did so and as he placed the candlestick upon the table saw that the Jew was gazing fixedly at him with lowering and contracted brows from the dark end of the room take heed take heed said the old man shaking his right hand before him in a warning manner he's an RAF man and thinks nothing of blood when his own is up whatever falls out say nothing and do what he bids you mind placing a strong emphasis on the last word he suffered his features gradually to resolve themselves into a ghastly grin and nodding his head left the room Oliver leaned his head upon his hand when the old man disappeared and pondered with the trembling heart on the words he had just heard the more he thought of the Jews admonition the more he was at a loss to divine it's real purpose and meaning he could think of no bad object to be attained by sending him to Sikes which would not be equally well answered by his remaining with Fagin and after meditating for a long time concluded that he had been selected to perform some ordinary menial offices for the housebreaker until another boy better suited for his purpose could be engaged he was too well accustomed to suffering and had suffered too much where he was to be well a prospect of change very severely he remained lost in thought for some minutes and then with a heavy sigh snuffed the candle and taking up the book which the Jew had left with him began to read he turned over the leaves carelessly at first but lighting on a passage which attracted his attention he soon became intent upon the volume it was a history of the lives and trials a great criminals and the pages were soiled and thumbed with use here he read of dreadful crimes have made the blood run cold of secret murders that have been committed by the lonely wayside a bodies hidden from the eye of man in deep pits and wells which would not keep them down deep as they were but had healed of them up at last after many years and so maddened the murderers with the sight that in their horror they had confessed their guilt and yelled for the Jew 'but to end their agony here – he read of men who lie in their beds at dead of night had been tempted so they said and led on by their own bad thoughts to such dreadful bloodshed as it made the flesh creep and the limbs quail to think of the terrible descriptions were so real and vivid that the sallow pages seemed to turn red with gore and the words upon them to be sounded in his ears as if they were whispered in hollow murmurs by the spirits of the dead in a paroxysm of fear the boy closed the book and thrust it from him then falling upon his knees he prayed heaven to spare him from such deeds and rather to will that he should die at once and be reserved for crimes so fearful and appalling by degrees he grew more calm and besought in a low and broken voice that he might be rescued from his present dangers and that if any aid were to be raised up for a poor outcast boy who had never known the love of friends or kindred it might come to him now when desolate and deserted he stood alone in the midst of wickedness and guilt he had concluded his prayer but still remained with his head buried in his hands when a rustling noise aroused him what's that he cried starting up and catching sight of a figure standing by the door who's there me only me replied a tremulous voice Oliver raised the candle above his head and looked towards the door it was Nancy put down the light said the girl turning away her head it hurts my eyes Oliver saw that she was very pale and gently inquired if she were ill the girl threw herself into a chair with her back towards him and wrung her hands but made no reply God forgive me she cried after a while I never thought of this has anything happened asked Oliver do they help you I will if I can I will indeed she wrapped herself to and fro quarter throat and uttering a gurgling sound gasped for breath ten she cried what is it the girl beats her hands upon her knees and her feet upon the ground and suddenly stopping drew her sure closer found her and shivered with cold Oliver stirred the fire drawing her chair close to it she sat there for a little time without speaking but at length she raised her head and looked round I don't know what comes over me sometimes said she affecting to busy herself and arranging her dress it's this attempt dirty room I think now no Lidia huh are you ready am I to go with you asked Oliver yes I've come from bill replied the girl you had to go with me what for asked Oliver recoiling what for echoed the girl bracing her eyes and averting them again the moment they encountered the boy's face Oh for now on I took believe it said Oliver who had watched her closely have it your own way we joined the girl affecting to laugh for no good then Oliver could see they had some power over the girls better feelings and for an instant thought of appealing to her compassion for his hopeless state but then the thought darted across his mind that was barely eleven o'clock and that many people were still in the streets of whom surely some might be found to give credence to his tale as the reflection occurred to him he stepped forward and said somewhat hastily that he was ready neither his brief consideration nor its purport were lost on his companion she eyed him narrowly while he spoke and cast upon him a look of intelligence which sufficiently showed that she guessed what had been passing in his thoughts hush said the girl stooping over him and pointing to the door as she looked cautiously around you can't help yourself harsh tried odd for you but all to no purpose you are hedged round and round if ever you are to get loose from here this is not the time struck by the energy of her manner Oliver looked up in her face with great surprise she seemed to speak the truth her countenance was white and agitated and she trembled with very earnestness I've saved you from being ill used once and I will again I do now continue the girl allowed for those who would have fetched you if I had not would have been far more roughing me I promised for your being quiet and silent if you're not you will only do harm yourself and me too and perhaps be my death see here I have borne all this for you already as to as God sees me show it she pointed hastily to some livid bruises on her neck and arms and continued with great rapidity remember this and don't let me suffer more for you just now if I can help you I would but I've got the power they tell me no harm you whatever they make you do is no fault of yours ash every word from you is a blow for me it could be around I cased your end she caught the hand which Oliver instinctively placed in hers and blowing out the light drew him after her up the stairs the door was opened quickly by someone shrouded in the darkness and was quickly closed when they had passed out a hackneyed Cabriolet was in waiting with the same vehement switch he had exhibited in addressing Oliver the girl pulled him in with her and drew the curtains closed the driver wanted no directions but lashed his horse into full speed without the delay of an instant the girl still held Oliver fast by the hand and continued to pour into his ear the warnings and assurances he had already imparted or was so quick and hurried that he had scarcely time to recollect where he was or how he came there when the carriage stopped at the house to which the Jews steps had been directed on the previous evening for one brief moment Oliver cast a hurried glance along the empty street and a cry for help hung upon his lips but the girl's voice was in his ear beseeching him in such tones of agony to remember her that he had not the heart to utter it while he hesitated the opportunity was gone he was already in the house and shut this way said the girl releasing her hold for the first time bill hello replied sikes appearing at the head of the stairs for the candle ah that's its armor day come on this was a very strong expression of approbation an uncommon ly hearty welcome from a person of mr. Sykes's temperament Nancy appearing much gratified thereby saluted him cordially bull's-eyes gone on with Tom observe Sikes as he lighted them up either being in the way that's right for join Nancy Sal yo got there kid said Sikes and they had all reached the room closing the door as he spoke yes here he is replied Nancy Diddy can't quiet inquired Sikes like a lamb for join Nancy I'm glad to hear it said Sikes looking grimly at Oliver or the sight of his young heartless as would otherwise have suffered for it carry a youngin and let me read you elector which is as well brought over at once thus addressing his new pupil mr. Sikes pulled off all of his cap and threw it into a corner and then taking him by the shoulder sat himself down by the table and stood the boy in front of him now first do you know what this is inquired Sikes taking up a pocket pistol which lay on the table Oliver replied in the affirmative well then look here continued Sikes this is powder that is a bullet and this is a little bit of an old hat for modern Oliver moment his comprehension of the different bodies referred to and mr. Sikes proceeded to load the pistol with great nicety and deliberation now it's loaded said Mr Sikes when he had finished yes I see it is provide Oliver well said the robber grasping all of his wrists and putting the barrel so close to his temple had they touched at which moment the boy could not repress a start if you speak a word when you're out the doors with me except when I speak to you that Loudoun will be in your head without notice so if you do make up your mind to speak without leave say your prayers first having bestowed a scowl upon the object of this warning to increase its effect mr. Sikes continued as near as I know there isn't anybody as will be asked in very particular are to you if you was disposed off so I needn't take this devil Anora trouble to explain matters to you if it weren't for your own good da mãe the short and long of what you mean said Nancy speaking very emphatically and slightly frowning and Oliver as if to bespeak his serious attention to her words is that if your cross by him in this job you have on hand you'll prevent is ever telling tales afterwards by shooting him through the head and will take your chance of swinging for it as you do for a great many other things in the way of business every month of your life that's it observe mr. Sonic's approvingly women can always put things in fewest words except when he's blowing up and then they lengthens it out and now he's thoroughly up to it they serve some supper and get a snooze before starting in pursuance of this request Nancy quickly laid the cloth disappearing for a few minutes she presently returned with a pot of Porter and a dish of sheeps heads which gave occasion to several pleasant witticisms on the part of mr. Sikes founded upon the singular coincidence of Jimmy's being a can name common to them and also to an ingenious implement much used in his profession indeed the worthy gentleman stimulated perhaps by the immediate prospect of being on active service was in great spirits and good humor in proof wear of it maybe he remarked that he humorously drank all the beer at a draught and did not utter on a rough calculation more than four skoros during the whole progress of the meal supper being ended it may be easily conceived that Oliver had no great appetite for it mr. Sikes disposed of a couple of glasses of spirits and water and threw himself on the bed altering Nancy with many implications in case of failure to call him at 5:00 precisely Oliver stretched himself in his clothes by command of the same authority on a mattress upon the floor and the girl mended the fire sat before it in readiness to rouse them at the appointed time for a long time Oliver lay awake thinking not impossible that Nancy might seek that opportunity of whispering some further advice but the girl sat brooding over the fire without moving save now and then to trim the light weary with watching and anxiety hid length fell asleep when he awoke the table was covered with tea things and Sikes was thrusting various articles into the pockets of his greatcoat which hung over the back of a chair Nancy was busily engaged in preparing breakfast it was not yet daylight for the candle was still burning and it was quite dark outside a sharp rain too was beating against the window panes the sky looked black and cloudy now then growled Sikes as Oliver started up off past five look sharp or you'll get no breakfast for its light as it is Oliver was not long in making his toilet having taken some breakfast he replied to a surly enquiry from Sikes by saying that he was quite ready Nancy scarcely looking at the boy threw him a handkerchief to tie round his throat Sikes gave him a large rough cape to button over his shoulders thus attired he gave his hand to the robber who merely pausing to show him for the menacing gesture that he had that same pistol in a side pocket of his greatcoat clasp it firmly in his and in a farewell with Nancy led him away Oliver turned for an instant when they reached the door in the hope of meeting a look from the girl but she had resumed her old seat in front of the fire and sat perfectly motionless before it chapter 21 the expedition it was a cheerless morning when they got into the street blowing and raining hard and the clouds looking dull and stormy the night had been very wet large pools of water had collected in the road and the kennels were overflowing there was a faint glimmering of the coming day in the sky but it rather aggravated than relieved the gloom of the scene the sunlight only serving to pale that which the street lamps afforded without shedding any warmer or brighter tints upon the wet house tops and dreary streets there appeared to be nobody staring in that quarter of the town the windows of the houses were all closely shut and the streets through which they passed when noiseless and empty by the time they had turned into the Bethnal Green Road the day had fairly begun to break many of the lamps were already extinguished a few country wagons were slowly toiling on towards London now and then a stagecoach covered with mud rattled briskly by the driver bestowing as he passed and admonitory lash upon the heavy Wagoner who by keeping on the wrong side of the road had endangered his arriving at the office a quarter of a minute after his time the public houses that gas lights burning inside were already open by degrees other shops began to be unclosed and a few scattered people were met with then came straggling groups of labourers going to their work and men and women with fish baskets on their heads donkey carts laden with vegetables Shay's carts filled with livestock or whole carcasses of meat milk women with pails an unbroken concourse of people trudging out with various supplies to the eastern suburbs of the town as they approached the city the noise and traffic gradually increased when they threaded the streets between Shoreditch and Smithfield it had swelled into a roar of sound and bustle it was as light as it was likely to be tonight came on again and the busy morning of half of the London population had begun turning down some Street and Crown Street and crossing Finsbury square mr. Sikes struck by way of Chi's Royal Street into Barbican thence into Long Lane and so into Smithfield from which latter place arose a tumult of discordant sounds had filled Oliver Twist with amazement it was market morning the ground was covered nearly ankle deep with filth and mire a thick steam perpetually rising from the reeking bodies of the cattle and mingling with the fog which seemed to rest upon the chimney tops hung heavily above all the pens in the centre of the large area and as many temporary pens as could be crowded into the vacant space were filled with sheep tied up to posts by the gutter side were long lines of beasts and oxen three or four deep countryman butchers drovers hawkers boys thieves idlers and vagabonds of every low grade were mingled together in a mass the whistling of drovers the barking dogs the bellowing and plunging of the oxen the bleating of sheep the grunting and squeaking of pigs the cries of hawkers the shouts oohs and quarreling on all sides the ringing of bells and raw of voices that issued from every public house the crowding and pushing driving beating whooping and yelling the hideous and discordant dim that resounded from every corner of the market and the unwashed unshaven squalid and dirty figures constantly running to and fro and bursting in and out of the throng rendered it a stunning and bewildering scene which quite confounded the censors mr. Sikes bagging Oliver after him elbowed his way through the thickest of the crowd and bestowed very little attention on the numerous sights and sounds which so astonished the boy he nodded twice or thrice to a passing friend and resisting as many invitation to take a morning DRAM pressed steadily onward until they were clear of the turmoil and have made their way through hozier lane into Hoban now youngin said Sikes looking up the clock of st. Andrew's Church hard upon seven you must step out come don't lag behind already lazy legs mr. Sikes accompanied the speech with a jerk at his little companions wrist Oliver quickening up his pace into a kind of trot between a fast walk and a run kept up with the rapid strides of the housebreaker as well as he could they held their course at this rate until they had passed Hyde Park Corner and were on their way to Kensington when Sikes relaxed his pace until an empty cart which was at some little distance behind came up seeing Hounslow written on it he asked the driver with as much civility as he could assume if he would give them a lift as far as Isles worth jump up said the man is that your boy yes he's my boy replied Sikes looking hard at Oliver and putting his hand abstractedly into the pocket where the pistol was your father walks rather too quick for you'd only marry man enquired the driver seeing that Oliver was out of breath not a bit of it replied Sikes interposing he's used to it yeah take alderman my hand Ned in with you that's addressing Oliver he helped him into the cart and the driver pointing to a heap of sex told him to lie down there and rest himself as they pass the different milestones Oliver wondered more and more where his companion meant to take him Kensington Hammersmith Chizik Kew bridge Brentford were all past and yet they went on steadily as if they had only just begun their journey at length they came to a public house called the Coach and Horses a little way beyond which another Road appeared to run off and here the cart stopped Sikes dismounted with great precipitation holding Oliver by the hand all the while and lifting him down directly bestowed a furious look upon him and wrapped the side pocket with his fist in a significant manner gabbar boy said the man a sulky replied Sikes giving him a shake a sulky a young dog don't mind him not I rejoined the other getting into his cart it's a fine day after all and he drove away Sikes waited until he had fairly gone and then telling Oliver he might look about him if he wanted once again led him onward on his journey they turned round to the left a short way past the public house and then taking a right-hand Road walked on for a long time passing many large Gardens and gentlemen's houses on both sides of the way and stopping for nothing but a little beer until they reached a town here against the wall of a house all of us all written up in pretty large letters Hampton they lingered about in the fields for some hours at length they came back into the town and turned me into an old public house with defaced signboard ordered some dinner by the kitchen fire the kitchen was an old low-roofed room with a great beam across the middle of the ceiling and benches with high backs to them by the fire on which were seated several rough men and smoke frogs drinking and smoking they took no notice of Oliver and very little of Sikes and a Sikes took very little notice of them he and his young comrade sat in a corner by themselves without being much troubled by their company they had some cold wheat for dinner and sat so long after it or mr. Sikes indulged himself with three or four pipes the Danaher began to feel quite certain they were not going any further being much tired with the walk and getting up so early he dozed a little at first then quite overpowered by fatigue and the fumes of the tobacco fell asleep it was quite dark when he was awakened by a push from Sikes rousing himself sufficiently to sit up and look about him he found that worthy in close fellowship and communication with a laboring man over a pint of ale Sal you're going on a lower Aleph ed are you inquired Sikes yes I am replied a man who seemed a little the worse or better as the case might be for drinking and not slow about it neither my walks hasn't got a load behind him going back as he had coming up in a morning and he won't be long they're doing of it he is luck to him he could he's a good'n could give me and my boy a lift as far as they're demanded Sikes pushing the Ale towards his new friend if you're going there art directly I can replied the man looking out of the pot are you going to a Leaford you're not a Shepperton replied Sikes I'm your man as far as I go replied the other he's all paid Becky yes the other gentleman's paid replied the girl hi say said the man with tipsy gravity that won't do yeah why not rejoined Sikes you're a gang to accommodate us and what's to prevent my standing treat for a point or so in return the stranger reflected upon this argument with a very profound face having done so he seized Sikes by the hand and declared he was a real good fellow to which mr. Sikes replied he was joking as if he had been sober it would have been strong reason to suppose he was after the exchange of a few more compliments they bade the company goodnight and went out the girl gathering up the pots and glasses as they did so and lounging out to the door of the hands full to see the party start the horse whose health had been drunk in his absence was standing outside ready harnessed to the cart Oliver and Sikes got in without any further ceremony and the man to whom he belonged having lingered for a minute or two to bear him up and to defy the hustler and the world to produce his equal mounted also then the hustler was told to give the horse's head and his head being given him he made a very unpleasant use of it tossing it into the air with great disdain and running into the parlour windows over the way after performing those feats and supporting himself for a short time on his hind legs he started off at great speed and rattled out of the town right gallantly the night was very dark a damp mist rose from the river and the marshy ground about and spread itself over the dreary fields it was piercingly cold – always gloomy and black not a word was spoken for the driver had grown sleepy and Sikes was in no mood to lead him into conversation Oliver sat huddled together in a corner of the cart bewildered with alarm and apprehension and figuring strange objects and the gaunt trees whose branches waved grimly to and fro as if in some fantastic joy at the desolation of the scene as they passed Sunbury church the clock struck seven there was a light and the fairy house window opposite which streamed across the road and through into more sombre shadow a dark yew tree with graves beneath it there was a dull sound of falling water not far off and the leaves of the old tree stirred gently in the night wind it seemed like quiet music for the repose of the dead son Barry was passed through and they came again into the lonely road two or three miles more and the cart stopped Sikes alighted took Oliver by the hand and they once again walked on they turned in to no house at Shepperton as the weary boy had expected but still kept walking on in mud and darkness through gloomy lanes and over cold open wastes until they came within sight of the lights of a town at no great distance on looking intently forward Oliver saw that the water was just below them and that they were coming to the foot of a bridge Sikes kept straight on until they were close upon the bridge then turned suddenly down a bank upon the left the water thought Oliver turning sick with fear he has brought me to this lonely place to murder me he was about to throw himself on the ground and make one struggle for his young life when he saw that they stood before a solitary house all ruinous and decayed there was a window on each side of the dilapidated entrance and one storey above but no light was visible the house was dark dismantled and the all appearance uninhabited Sikes with Oliver's hands still in his softly approached the low porch and raised the latch the door yielded to the pressure and they passed in together chapter 22 the burglary ll cried aloud hoarse voice as soon as they set foot in the passage don't make such a rail said Sikes bolting the door show a glim Toby my pal guide the same voice a gleam Barney a glim show the gentleman in Barney wake up first if convenient the speaker appeared to throw a boot Jack or some such article at the person he addressed to rouse him from his slumbers for the noise of a wooden body falling violently was heard and then an indistinct muttering as of a man between sleep and awake daa cried the same voice there is Bill Sikes in the passage with nobody to do the civil with him and you sleep in there as if you took laudanum with your meals are nothing stronger are you any fresher now or do you what the iron candlestick to wait you thoroughly a pair of slipshod feet shuffled hastily across the bare floor of the room as this interrogatory was put and there issued a module on the right hand first a feeble candle and next the form of the same individual who has been heretofore described as laboring under the infirmity of speaking through his nose and officiating as waiter at the public house on saffron Hill Beastie Sykes exclaim Barney with regular counterfeit joy cupboard sir got bid here you get on first said Sikes putting Oliver in front of him quickly or I shall tread upon your heels muttering a curse upon his tardiness Sikes pushed Oliver before him and they entered a low dark room with a smoky fire two or three broken chairs a table and a very old couch on which with his legs much higher than his head a man was reposing at full length smoking a long clay pipe he was dressed in a smartly cut snuff colored coat with large brass buttons an orange neckerchief a coarse staring shawl pattern race cot and drab breeches mr. crackit for he it was had no very great quantity of hair either upon his head or face but what he had was of a reddish dye and tortured into long corkscrew curls to which he occasionally thrust some very dirty fingers ornamented with large common rings he was a trifle above the middle size and apparently rather weak in the legs but this circumstance by no means detracted from his own admiration of his top boots which he contemplated in their elevated situation with lively satisfaction veal my boy said this finger turning his head towards the door oh I'm glad to see you I was almost afraid you've given it up in which case I should have made a personal winter hello uttering this exclamation and tone of great surprise as his eyes rested on Oliver mr. Toby crackit bought himself into a sitting posture and abandoned who that was the boy only the boy replied Sikes drawing a chair towards the fire what of mr. Fayed's lads exclaim Barney with a grin Huygens I exclaimed Toby looking at Oliver Apple boy that Oh Mike for the old lady's pockets in chapels his Maggie's have Orton to him there there is enough of that interpose Sikes impatiently and stooping over his recumbent friend he whispered a few words in his ear at which mr. crackit laughed immensely and honored Oliver with a long stare of astonishment now said Sikes as he resumed his seat if you'll give us something to eat and drink while I whitened you put some art in us or in me all events sit down by the fire Janka arrest yourself for you'll have to go out with us again tonight though not very far off Oliver looked at Sikes in mutant timid wonder and drawing the stool to the fire sat with his aching head upon his hands scarcely knowing where he was or what was passing around him he said Toby as the young Jew placed some fragments of food and a bottle upon the table success to the crack he roasts honor the toast and carefully depositing his empty pipe in a corner advanced to the table filled a glass with spirits and drank off its contents mr. Sikes did the same hey Jane for the boy sir Toby half filling a wineglass down with it innocence indeed said Oliver looking prettiest Lee upward to the man's face indeed I dare with it echoed Toby do you think I doubt now what's good for you tell him to drink it bill he had better said Sikes clapping his hand upon his pocket burn my body if he isn't all trouble an old family at Dodgers drink it you poor simp thinking frightened by the menacing gestures of the two men Oliver hastily swallowed the contents of the glass and immediately fell into a violent fit of coughing which delighted Toby crackit and Barney and even do a smile from the surly mr. Sikes this done and Sikes having satisfied his appetite Oliver could eat nothing but a small crust of bread which they made him swallow the two men laid themselves down on chairs for a short nap Oliver retained his stool by the fire Barney wrapped in a blanket stretched himself on the floor close outside the fender they slept or appeared to sleep for some time nobody's staring but Barney who rose once or twice to throw coals on the fire Oliver fell into a heavy doze imagining himself straying along the gloomy lanes are wondering about the dark churchyard or tracing some one or other of the scenes of the past day when he was roused by Toby crackit jumping up and declaring it was half-past one in an instant the other two were on their legs and all were actively engaged in busy preparation Sikes and his companion and fellip their necks and Chin's in large dark shawls and do on their greatcoats Barney opening a cupboard brought forth several articles which he hastily crammed into the pockets vile kiss for me Barney said Toby crackit here they are replied Barney producing a pair of pistols you loaded deb yourself all right replied Toby stowing them away their vests waders I've got him replied Sikes pipe keys scent of its door keys nothing forgotten inquired Toby fastening a small crowbar to a loop inside the skirt of his coat all right four joined his companion bring them bits of timber Barney half sitamma day with these words he took a thick stick from Barney's hens who having delivered another to Toby visit himself in fastening on Oliver's cape now then said sikes holding out his hand Oliver who was completely stupefied by the unwonted exercise and the air and the drink which had been forced upon him but his hand mechanically into that which Sikes extended for the purpose tie his other hand Toby said Sikes look out Barney the man went to the door and returned to announce that all was quiet the two robbers issued forth with Oliver between them Barney having made all fast rolled himself up as before and was soon asleep again it was now intensely dark the fog was much heavier than it had been in the early part of the night and the atmosphere was so damp that although no rain fell Oliver's hair and eyebrows within a few minutes after leaving the house had become stiff with the half frozen moisture that was floating about they crossed the bridge and kept on towards the lights which he had seen before they were at no great distance off and as they walked pretty briskly they soon arrived at Chertsey slap through the town whispered Sikes there will be nobody in the white and height to see us Toby acquiesced and they hurried through the main street of the little town which of that late hour was wholly deserted a dim light shone at intervals from some bedroom window and the hoarse barking of dogs occasionally broke the Silence of the night but there was nobody abroad they had cleared the town as the church bells struck two quickening their pace they turned up a road upon the left hand after walking about a quarter of a mile he stopped before a detached house surrounded by a wall to the top of which Toby crackit scarcely pausing to take breath climbed in a twinkling there boy next said Toby hoist him up I'll catch hold of him before Oliver had time to look round Sikes had caught him under the arms and in three or four seconds he and Toby were lying on the grass on the other side Sikes followed directly and they still cautiously too towards a house and now for the first time Oliver well-nigh mad with grief and terror saw that housebreaking and robbery if not murder for the objects of the expedition he clasped his hands together and involuntarily uttered a subdued exclamation of horror a mist came before his eyes the cold sweat stood upon his ashy face his limbs failed him and he sank upon his knees gained him up murmured Sikes trembling with rage and drawing the pistol from his pocket get up or I'll show your brains upon the grass right Oliver let me run away you die in the fields I will never come near London never never how pray have mercy on me I do not make me steel but a love of all a bright angels has rested heaven have mercy upon me the man to whom this appeal was made swore a dreadful oath and had cocked the pistol when Toby striking it from his grasp placed his hand upon the boy's mouth and dragged him to the house hush cried the man say another word and I'll do your business myself with a crippled head that makes no noise and he saw a certain and more genteel ear bill reach the shutter open he's game enough now I'll engage I've seen older hands of his age took the same way from in a two on a cold night Sikes invoking terrific implications upon Fagin's head for sending Oliver on such an errand plied the crowbar vigorously but with little noise after some delay and some assistance from Toby the shutter to which he had referred swung open on its hinges it was a little lattice window about five feet and a half above the ground at the back of the house which belonged to a scullery or small brewing place at the end of the passage the aperture was so small that the inmates had probably not thought it worth while to offend it more securely but it was large enough to admit a boy of Oliver's size nevertheless a very brief exercise of mr. Sikes art suffice to overcome the fastening of the lettuce and it soon stood wide open also now listen you young limb whispered Sikes drawing a dark Lantern from his pocket and throwing the glare full on Oliver's face I'm going to put you through there take this light go softly up the step straight before you and long the little Hall to the street door unfasten it and let us in there's a bolt at top you might be able to reach interposed Toby stand upon one of the all cheers there are three there bill with a jolly large blue unicorn and gold pitchfork on him which is the old lady's arms keep quiet can't you replied Sikes with the threatening look the rule door is open is it wide replied Toby after peeping in to satisfy himself a game of that is they always leave it open with a catch so a dog who's got a bed in here they walk up and down the passage when he feels wakeful Barney ties him away tonight so neat although mr. crackit spoke in a scarcely audible whisper and laughed without noise Sikes imperiously commanded him to be silent and to get to work Toby complied by first producing his lantern and placing it on the ground then by panting himself firmly with his head against the wall beneath the window and his hands upon his knees so as to make a step of his back this was no sooner done than Sikes mounting upon him but Oliver gently through the window with his feet first and without leaving hold of his collar planted him safely on the floor inside take this Lenten said Sikes looking into the room you see the stairs are for you Oh more dead than alive gasp out yes Sykes pointed to the street door with a pistol barrel briefly advised him to take notice that he was within shot all the way and that if he faltered he would fall dead that incident it's done in a minute said Sykes and the same low whisper directly I leave go of you do your work Huck what's that whispered the other man they listened intently nothing said Sikes releasing his hold of Oliver now in the short time he had had to collect his senses the boy had firmly resolved that whether he died in the attempt or not he would make one effort to dart upstairs from the hall and alarm the family filled with this idea he advanced at once but stealthily come back suddenly cried Sikes aloud back back scared by the sudden breaking of the dead stillness of the place and by a loud cry which followed it Oliver letters Lantern fall and knew not whether to advance or fly the cry was repeated a light appeared a vision of two terrified half dressed men at the top of the stairs swam before his eyes a flash alive noise a smoke a crash somewhere but where he knew not and he staggered back Sikes had disappeared for an instant but he was up again and had him by the collar before the smoke had cleared away he fired his own pistol after the men who were already retreating and dragged the boy up gillaspie arrived tied said Sikes as he drew him through the window give me a surely like hit him quick how the boy bleeds then came the loud ringing of a bell mingled with the noise of firearms and the shouts of men and the sensation of being carried over uneven ground at a rapid pace and then the noises grew confused in the distance and a cold deadly feeling crept over the boy's heart and he saw or heard no more chapter 23 which contains the substance of a pleasant conversation between mr. bumble and a lady and shows that even a beetle may be susceptible on some points the night was bitter cold a snow lay on the ground frozen into a hard thick crust so that only the heaps that had drifted into byways and corners were affected by the sharp wind that howled abroad which as if expending increased fury on such prey as it found caught its savagely up in clouds and whirling it into a thousand misty Eddie's scattered it in air bleak dark and piercing cold it was a night for the well housed and bed to draw around the bright fire and thank God they were at home and for the homeless starving wretch to lay him down and die many hunger worn outcasts closed their eyes in our bare streets at such times who that the crimes have been what they may can hardly open them in a more bitter world such as the aspect of out-of-doors affairs on mrs. Corney the matron of the workhouse to which our readers have been already introduced as the birthplace of Oliver Twist set us off down before a cheerful fire in her own little room and glanced with no small degree of complacency at a small round table on which stood a tray of corresponding size furnished with all necessary materials for the most grateful meal that matrons enjoy in fact mrs. Corney was about to solace herself for the cup of tea as she glanced from the table to the fireplace where the smallest of all possible kettles was singing a small song in a small voice her inward satisfaction evidently increased so much so indeed that mrs. Corney smiled well said the matron leaning her elbow on the table and looking reflectively at the fire I'm sure we have all unless a great deal to be grateful for a great deal if we did but know it haha mrs. Corney shook her head mournfully as if deploring the mental blindness of those paupers who did not know it and trusting a silver boom private property into the inmost recesses of a two-ounce tin tea caddy proceeded to make the tea house light a thing will disturb the equanimity of our frail minds the black teapot being very small and easily filled ran over while mrs. Corney was moralizing and the water slightly scalded mrs. corney's hand have drifted apart said the worthy matron setting it down very hastily on the hob a little stupid thing it only holds a couple of cups what uses Adolphe to anybody except said mrs. corney pausing except to a poor desolate creature like me oh dear with these words the matron dropped into her chair and whatsmore resting her elbow on the table thought of her solitary fate a small teapot and the single cup had awakened in her mind sad recollections of mr. corny who had not been dead more than five and twenty years and she was overpowered I shall never get another said mrs. corney pettishly I shall never get another like him where this remark bore reference to the husband or the teapot is uncertain it might have been the latter for mrs. Corney looked at it as she spoke and took it up afterwards she had just tasted her first cup when she was disturbed by a soft tap at the room door how come in with you said mrs. corney sharply some of the old women died I suppose they always die why at meals don't stand there letting the cold air in don't want to miss now away nothing mum nothing replied a man's voice didn't me he exclaimed the matron in a much sweeter tone he said to be stip humble at your service mom said Mr bumble who had been stopping outside to rub his shoes clean and to shake the snow off his coat and who now made his appearance bearing the cocked hat in one hand and a bundle in the other shall I shut the door mum the lady modestly hesitated to reply lest there should be any impropriety in holding an interview with mr. bumble with closed doors mr. bumble taking advantage of the hesitation and being very cold himself shut it without permission hard weather mr. bumble said the matron hard indeed mom replied the beadle and the parochial weather this mom we have given away mrs. Corney we have given away a matter of 20 quarter loaves and the cheese and a half is very blessed afternoon and yet them paupers are not contented of course not when would they be mr. bumble said the matron sipping her tea when indeed mom rejoined mr. bumble why he is one man that in consideration of his wife and large family as a quart urn loaf and a good pound of cheese full weight is he grateful mom is he grateful not a copper farthings worth of it what does he do mom but asked for a few coals if it's only a pocket-handkerchief full he says coals what would he do with coals toast his cheese with them and then come back for more that's the way were these people mom give him an apron full of coals today and they'll come back for another the day after tomorrow as brazen as alabaster the matron expressed her entire concurrence in this intelligible simile and the beetle went on I never said mr. bumble see anything like the pictures got to the Daiya for yesterday a man you have been a married woman mom and I may mention it to you a man with oddly a rag upon his back here mrs. Corney looked at the floor goes to our overseers door when he has got company coming to dinner and says he must be relieved mrs. Corney as he wouldn't go away and shocked a company very much our overseer sent him out a pound of potatoes and half a pint of oatmeal my aunt the ungrateful villain what's the use of this to me you might as well give me a pair of iron spectacles very good says our overseer taking them away again you won't get anything else here in our die in the streets says the vagrant oh no you won't says our overseer good so like mr. Granick wasn't it interposed the matron well mr. Popple well mom rejoined the Beadle he went away and he did die in the streets there's an obstinate port before you it beats anything I could have believed observed the matron emphatically but don't you think out-of-door relief a very bad thing anyway mr. bumble you're a gentleman of experience in ought to know come mrs. Corney said the Beadle smiling as men smile who are conscious of superior information out-of-door relief properly managed properly managed mom is the parochial safeguard the great principle of outer door relief is to give the paupers exactly what they don't want and then they get tired of coming dear me exclaimed mrs. Corney well that is a good one too yes betwixt you and me mam returned mr. bumble that's a great principle and that's the reason why if you look at any cases that get into them I would Asia's newspapers you're always observed as sick families have been relieved with slices of cheese that's the rule now mrs. Corney all over the country but however said the Beadle stopping to unpack his bundle these are official secrets mom not to be spoken off except as I may say among the parochial officers such as ourselves this is the port wine man at the board ordered for the infirmary real fresh genuine port wine only out of the cast this forenoon clear as a bell no sediment having held the first bottle up to the light and shakin it well to test its excellence mr. bumble placed them both on top of a chest of drawers folded the handkerchief in which they had been wrapped put it carefully in his pocket and took up his hat as if to go he'll have a very cold walk mr. bumble said the matron it blows mom replied mr. bumble turning up his coat-collar enough to cut one's ears off the matron looked from the little kettle to the Beadle who was moving towards the door and as the Beadle coughed preparatory to bidding her goodnight bashfully inquired whether whether he wouldn't take a cup of tea mr. bumble instantaneously turned back his collar again laid his hat and stick upon a chair and drew another chair up to the table as he slowly seated himself he looked at the lady she fixed her eyes upon the little teapot mr. bumble coughed again and slightly smiled mrs. Corney rose to get another cup and saucer from the closet as she sat down her eyes once again encountered those of the gallant Beadle she coloured and applied herself to the task of making his tea again mr. bumble coughed louder this time that he had coughed yet sweet mr. bamboo inquired the matron taking up the sugar basin very sweet indeed mom replied mr. bumble he fixed his eyes on mrs. Corney has he said this and if ever a beetle looked tender mr. bumble was that Beadle at that moment the tea was made and handed in silence mr. bumble having spread a handkerchief over his knees to prevent the crumbs from sullying the splendor of his shorts began to eat and drink varying these amusements occasionally by fetching a deep sigh which however had no injurious effect upon his appetite but on the contrary father seemed to facilitate his operations in the tea and toast department here ever kept Mamma I see said Mr bumble glancing at one who in the centre of her family was basking before the fire and kittens to our declare oh I'm so fond of their mr. bumble you can't think replied the matron they're so happy so full examine so cheerful that they're quite companions for me marry nice animals mom replied mr. bumble approvingly so very domestic oh yes rejoined the matron with enthusiasm self-formed of their home – it's quite a pleasure I'm sure mrs. Corney mom said Mr bumble slowly and marking the time of the spoon I mean to say this mom that any cat or kitten that could live with you mom and not be fond of its home must be asked mom mr. Popple remin stated mrs. Corney it serve no use disguise in fact mom said mr. bumble slowly flourishing the tea spoon with a kind of amorous dignity which made him doubly impressive I would drown it myself with pleasure then you're a cruel man said the matron vivaciously as she held out her hand for the beetles cup and a very hard-hearted man besides hard-hearted mom said mr. bumble hard mr. bumble resigned his cap without another word squeezed mrs. corney's little finger as she took it and inflicting to open handed slaps upon his laced waistcoat give a mighty sigh and hitched his chair a very little morsel father from the fire it was a round table and as mrs. Corney and mr. bumble had been sitting opposite each other was no great space between them and fronting the fire it will be seen that mr. bumble in receding from the fire and still keeping at the table increased the distance between himself and mrs. Corney which proceeding some prudent readers will doubtless be disposed to admire and to consider an act of great heroism a mr. bumbles part he being in some sort tempted by time place and opportunity to give utterance to certain soft nothings which however well they may have become the lips of the light and thoughtless do seem immeasurably beneath the dignity of judges of the land members of parliament ministers of state lord mayors and other great public functionaries but more particularly beneath the stateliness and gravity of a Beadle who as his well known should be the sternest and most inflexible among them all whatever were mr. bumbles intentions however and no doubt they were of the best it unfortunately happened as has been twice before remarked at the table was a round one consequently mr. bumble moving his chair by little and little soon began to diminish the distance between himself in the matron and continuing to travel round the outer edge of the circle brought his chair in time close to that in which the matron was seated indeed the two chairs touched and when they did so mr. bumble stopped now if the matron had moved her chair to the right she would have been scorched by the fire and if to the left she must have fallen into mr. bumbles arms so being a discreet matron and no doubt for seeing these consequences at a glance she remained where she was and handed mr. bumble another cup of tea hard-hearted mrs. Corney said Mr bumble stirring his tea and looking up into the matrons face ah you hard-hearted mrs. Corney it's even me exclaimed the matron what a very curious pressed him from a single man what can you want to know for mr. bumble the Beadle drank his tea to the last drop finished a piece of toast whisked the crumbs off his knees wiped his lips and deliberately kissed the matron miss step cried that discreet lady in a whisper for the fight was so great that she'd quite lost her voice mr. bumble I shall scream mr. bumble made no reply but in slow and dignified manner put his arm round the matrons waist as the lady had stated her intention of screaming of course she would have screamed at this additional boldness but that the exertion was rendered unnecessary by a hasty knocking at the door which was no sooner heard and mr. bumble darted with much agility to the wine bottles and began dusting them with great violence while the matron sharply demanded who was there it is worthy of remark as a curious physical instance of the efficacy of a sudden surprise in counteracting the effects of extreme fear at her voice had quite recovered all its official asperity if he plays mistress said a withered old female pauper hideously ugly putting her head in the door Oh is it going fast well what's there to me angrily demanded the matron I can't keep her alive can I no no mistress replied the old woman how bored he can he's far beyond the reach of help I've seen a many people die the or babes in great strong men and I know when death succumb in well enough but she's troubled in her mind and when the fits are not honor and that's not often for she is dying very hard she says she has got something to tell which you must hear she'll never die quiet till you come mistress at this intelligence the worthy mrs. Corney muttered a variety of invectives against old women who couldn't even die without purposely annoying their betters and muffling herself in a thick shawl which he hastily caught up briefly requested mr. bumble to state or she came back as to anything particular should occur but in the messenger walk fast and not be all-night hobbling up the stairs she followed her from the room with a very ill grace scolding all the way mr. bumbles conduct on being left to himself was rather inexplicable he opened the closet count on the teaspoons weighed the sugar tongs closely inspected a silver milk pot to ascertain that it was of the genuine metal and having satisfied his curiosity on these points but on his cocked hat corner wise and danced with much gravity four distinct times round the table having gone through this very extraordinary performance he took off the cocked hat again and spreading himself before the fire with his back towards it seemed to be mentally engaged in taking an exact inventory of the furniture