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strong man in particularly good training. 'Oh, you little
un-grate-ful, mur-de-rous, hor-rid villain!' And between every
syllable, Charlotte gave Oliver a blow with all her might:
accompanying it with a scream, for the benefit of society.
Charlotte's fist was by no means a light one; but, lest it should
not be effectual in calming Oliver's wrath, Mrs. Sowerberry
plunged into the kitchen, and assisted to hold him with one hand,
while she scratched his face with the other. In this favourable
position of affairs, Noah rose from the ground, and pommelled him
This was rather too violent exercise to last long. When they
were all wearied out, and could tear and beat no longer, they
dragged Oliver, struggling and shouting, but nothing daunted,
into the dust-cellar, and there locked him up. This being done,
Mrs. Sowerberry sunk into a chair, and burst into tears.
'Bless her, she's going off!' said Charlotte. 'A glass of water,
Noah, dear. Make haste!'
'Oh! Charlotte,' said Mrs. Sowerberry: speaking as well as she
could, through a deficiency of breath, and a sufficiency of cold
water, which Noah had poured over her head and shoulders. 'Oh!
Charlotte, what a mercy we have not all been murdered in our
'Ah! mercy indeed, ma'am,' was the reply. I only hope this'll
teach master not to have any more of these dreadful creatures,
that are born to be murderers and robbers from their very cradle.
Poor Noah! He was all but killed, ma'am, when I come in.'
'Poor fellow!' said Mrs. Sowerberry: looking piteously on the
Noah, whose top waistcoat-button might have been somewhere on a
level with the crown of Oliver's head, rubbed his eyes with the
inside of his wrists while this commiseration was bestowed upon
him, and performed some affecting tears and sniffs.
'What's to be done!' exclaimed Mrs. Sowerberry. 'Your master's
not at home; there's not a man in the house, and he'll kick that
door down in ten minutes.' Oliver's vigorous plunges against the
bit of timber in question, rendered this occurance highly
'Dear, dear! I don't know, ma'am,' said Charlotte, 'unless we
send for the police-officers.'
'Or the millingtary,' suggested Mr. Claypole.
'No, no,' said Mrs. Sowerberry: bethinking herself of Oliver's
old friend. 'Run to Mr. Bumble, Noah, and tell him to come here
directly, and not to lose a minute; never mind your cap! Make
haste! You can hold a knife to that black eye, as you run along.
It'll keep the swelling down.'
Noah stopped to make no reply, but started off at his fullest
speed; and very much it astonished the people who were out
walking, to see a charity-boy tearing through the streets
pell-mell, with no cap on his head, and a clasp-knife at his eye.
OLIVER CONTINUES REFRACTORY
Noah Claypole ran along the streets at his swiftest pace, and
paused not once for breath, until he reached the workhouse-gate.
Having rested here, for a minute or so, to collect a good burst
of sobs and an imposing show of tears and terror, he knocked
loudly at the wicket; and presented such a rueful face to the
aged pauper who opened it, that even he, who saw nothing but
rueful faces about him at the best of times, started back in
'Why, what's the matter with the boy!' said the old pauper.
'Mr. Bumble! Mr. Bumble!' cried Noah, wit well-affected dismay:
and in tones so loud and agitated, that they not only caught the
ear of Mr. Bumble himself, who happened to be hard by, but
alarmed him so much that he rushed into the yard without his
cocked hat, --which is a very curious and remarkable
circumstance: as showing that even a beadle, acted upon a sudden
and powerful impulse, may be afflicted with a momentary
visitation of loss of self-possession, and forgetfulness of
'Oh, Mr. Bumble, sir!' said Noah: 'Oliver, sir, --Oliver has--'
'What? What?' interposed Mr. Bumble: with a gleam of pleasure
in his metallic eyes. 'Not run away; he hasn't run away, has he,
'No, sir, no. Not run away, sir, but he's turned wicious,'
replied Noah. 'He tried to murder me, sir; and then he tried to
murder Charlotte; and then missis. Oh! what dreadful pain it is!
Such agony, please, sir!' And here, Noah writhed and twisted his
body into an extensive variety of eel-like positions; thereby
giving Mr. Bumble to understand that, from the violent and
sanguinary onset of Oliver Twist, he had sustained severe
internal injury and damage, from which he was at that moment
suffering the acutest torture.
When Noah saw that the intelligence he communicated perfectly
paralysed Mr. Bumble, he imparted additional effect thereunto, by
bewailing his dreadful wounds ten times louder than before; and
when he observed a gentleman in a white waistcoat crossing the
yard, he was more tragic in his lamentations than ever: rightly
conceiving it highly expedient to attract the notice, and rouse
the indignation, of the gentleman aforesaid.
The gentleman's notice was very soon attracted; for he had not
walked three paces, when he turned angrily round, and inquired
what that young cur was howling for, and why Mr. Bumble did not
favour him with something which would render the series of
vocular exclamations so designated, an involuntary process?
'It's a poor boy from the free-school, sir,' replied Mr. Bumble,
'who has been nearly murdered--all but murdered, sir, --by young
'By Jove!' exclaimed the gentleman in the white waistcoat,
stopping short. 'I knew it! I felt a strange presentiment from
the very first, that that audacious young savage would come to be
'He has likewise attempted, sir, to murder the female servant,'
said Mr. Bumble, with a face of ashy paleness.
'And his missis,' interposed Mr. Claypole.
'And his master, too, I think you said, Noah?' added Mr. Bumble.
'No! he's out, or he would have murdered him,' replied Noah. 'He
said he wanted to.'
'Ah! Said he wanted to, did he, my boy?' inquired the gentleman
in the white waistcoat.
'Yes, sir,' replied Noah. 'And please, sir, missis wants to know
whether Mr. Bumble can spare time to step up there, directly, and
flog him-- 'cause master's out.'
'Certainly, my boy; certainly,' said the gentleman in the white
waistcoat: smiling benignly, and patting Noah's head, which was
about three inches higher than his own. 'You're a good boy--a
very good boy. Here's a penny for you. Bumble, just step up to
Sowerberry's with your cane, and seed what's best to be done.
Don't spare him, Bumble.'
'No, I will not, sir,' replied the beadle. And the cocked hat
and cane having been, by this time, adjusted to their owner's
satisfaction, Mr. Bumble and Noah Claypole betook themselves with
all speed to the undertaker's shop.
Here the position of affairs had not at all improved. Sowerberry
had not yet returned, and Oliver continued to kick, with
undiminished vigour, at the cellar-door. The accounts of his
ferocity as related by Mrs. Sowerberry and Charlotte, were of so
startling a nature, that Mr. Bumble judged it prudent to parley,
before opening the door. With this view he gave a kick at the
outside, by way of prelude; and, then, applying his mouth to the
keyhole, said, in a deep and impressive tone:
'Come; you let me out!' replied Oliver, from the inside.
'Do you know this here voice, Oliver?' said Mr. Bumble.
'Yes,' replied Oliver.
'Ain't you afraid of it, sir? Ain't you a-trembling while I
speak, sir?' said Mr. Bumble.
'No!' replied Oliver, boldly.
An answer so different from the one he had expected to elicit,
and was in the habit of receiving, staggered Mr. Bumble not a
little. He stepped back from the keyhole; drew himself up to his
full height; and looked from one to another of the three
bystanders, in mute astonishment.
'Oh, you know, Mr. Bumble, he must be mad,' said Mrs. Sowerberry.
'No boy in half his senses could venture to speak so to you.'
'It's not Madness, ma'am,' replied Mr. Bumble, after a few
moments of deep meditation. 'It's Meat.'
'What?' exclaimed Mrs. Sowerberry.
'Meat, ma'am, meat,' replied Bumble, with stern emphasis.
'You've over-fed him, ma'am. You've raised a artificial soul and
spirit in him, ma'am unbecoming a person of his condition: as the
board, Mrs. Sowerberry, who are practical philosophers, will tell
you. What have paupers to do with soul or spirit? It's quite