Pages: 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 26 27 28 29 30 31 32 33 34 35 36 37 38 39 40 41 42 43 44 45 46 47 48 49 50 51 52 53 54 55 56 57 58 59 60 61 62 63 64 65 66 67 68 69 70 71 72 73 74 75 76 77 78 79 80 81 82 83 84 85 86 87 88 89 90 91 92 93 94 95 96 97 98 99 100 Next page
impressive. 'What should he say?'
Mr. Dawkins whistled for a couple of minutes; then, taking off
his hat, scratched his head, and nodded thrice.
'What do you mean?' said Charley.
'Toor rul lol loo, gammon and spinnage, the frog he wouldn't, and
high cockolorum,' said the Dodger: with a slight sneer on his
This was explanatory, but not satisfactory. Master Bates felt it
so; and again said, 'What do you mean?'
The Dodger made no reply; but putting his hat on again, and
gathering the skirts of his long-tailed coat under his arm,
thrust his tongue into his cheek, slapped the bridge of his nose
some half-dozen times in a familiar but expressive manner, and
turning on his heel, slunk down the court. Master Bates
followed, with a thoughtful countenance.
The noise of footsteps on the creaking stairs, a few minutes
after the occurrence of this conversation, roused the merry old
gentleman as he sat over the fire with a saveloy and a small loaf
in his hand; a pocket-knife in his right; and a pewter pot on the
trivet. There was a rascally smile on his white face as he
turned round, and looking sharply out from under his thick red
eyebrows, bent his ear towards the door, and listened.
'Why, how's this?' muttered the Jew: changing countenance; 'only
two of 'em? Where's the third? They can't have got into
The footsteps approached nearer; they reached the landing. The
door was slowly opened; and the Dodger and Charley Bates entered,
closing it behind them.
SOME NEW ACQUAINTANCES ARE INTRODUCED TO THE INTELLIGENT READER,
CONNECTED WITH WHOM VARIOUS PLEASANT MATTERS ARE RELATED,
APPERTAINING TO THIS HISTORY
'Where's Oliver?' said the Jew, rising with a menacing look.
'Where's the boy?'
The young thieves eyed their preceptor as if they were alarmed at
his violence; and looked uneasily at each other. But they made
'What's become of the boy?' said the Jew, seizing the Dodger
tightly by the collar, and threatening him with horrid
imprecations. 'Speak out, or I'll throttle you!'
Mr. Fagin looked so very much in earnest, that Charley Bates, who
deemed it prudent in all cases to be on the safe side, and who
conceived it by no means improbable that it might be his turn to
be throttled second, dropped upon his knees, and raised a loud,
well-sustained, and continuous roar--something between a mad bull
and a speaking trumpet.
'Will you speak?' thundered the Jew: shaking the Dodger so much
that his keeping in the big coat at all, seemed perfectly
'Why, the traps have got him, and that's all about it,' said the
Dodger, sullenly. 'Come, let go o' me, will you!' And,
swinging himself, at one jerk, clean out of the big coat, which
he left in the Jew's hands, the Dodger snatched up the toasting
fork, and made a pass at the merry old gentleman's waistcoat;
which, if it had taken effect, would have let a little more
merriment out, than could have been easily replaced.
The Jew stepped back in this emergency, with more agility than
could have been anticipated in a man of his apparent decrepitude;
and, seizing up the pot, prepared to hurl it at his assailant's
head. But Charley Bates, at this moment, calling his attention
by a perfectly terrific howl, he suddenly altered its
destination, and flung it full at that young gentleman.
'Why, what the blazes is in the wind now!' growled a deep voice.
'Who pitched that 'ere at me? It's well it's the beer, and not
the pot, as hit me, or I'd have settled somebody. I might have
know'd, as nobody but an infernal, rich, plundering, thundering
old Jew could afford to throw away any drink but water--and not
that, unless he done the River Company every quarter. Wot's it
all about, Fagin? D--me, if my neck-handkercher an't lined with
beer! Come in, you sneaking warmint; wot are you stopping
outside for, as if you was ashamed of your master! Come in!'
The man who growled out these words, was a stoutly-built fellow
of about five-and-thirty, in a black velveteen coat, very soiled
drab breeches, lace-up half boots, and grey cotton stockings
which inclosed a bulky pair of legs, with large swelling
calves;--the kind of legs, which in such costume, always look in
an unfinished and incomplete state without a set of fetters to
garnish them. He had a brown hat on his head, and a dirty
belcher handkerchief round his neck: with the long frayed ends
of which he smeared the beer from his face as he spoke. He
disclosed, when he had done so, a broad heavy countenance with a
beard of three days' growth, and two scowling eyes; one of which
displayed various parti-coloured symptoms of having been recently
damaged by a blow.
'Come in, d'ye hear?' growled this engaging ruffian.
A white shaggy dog, with his face scratched and torn in twenty
different places, skulked into the room.
'Why didn't you come in afore?' said the man. 'You're getting
too proud to own me afore company, are you? Lie down!'
This command was accompanied with a kick, which sent the animal
to the other end of the room. He appeared well used to it,
however; for he coiled himself up in a corner very quietly,
without uttering a sound, and winking his very ill-looking eyes
twenty times in a minute, appeared to occupy himself in taking a
survey of the apartment.
'What are you up to? Ill-treating the boys, you covetous,
avaricious, in-sa-ti-a-ble old fence?' said the man, seating
himself deliberately. 'I wonder they don't murder you! I would
if I was them. If I'd been your 'prentice, I'd have done it long
ago, and--no, I couldn't have sold you afterwards, for you're fit
for nothing but keeping as a curiousity of ugliness in a glass
bottle, and I suppose they don't blow glass bottles large
'Hush! hush! Mr. Sikes,' said the Jew, trembling; 'don't speak so
'None of your mistering,' replied the ruffian; 'you always mean
mischief when you come that. You know my name: out with it! I
shan't disgrace it when the time comes.'
'Well, well, then--Bill Sikes,' said the Jew, with abject
humility. 'You seem out of humour, Bill.'
'Perhaps I am,' replied Sikes; 'I should think you was rather out
of sorts too, unless you mean as little harm when you throw
pewter pots about, as you do when you blab and--'
'Are you mad?' said the Jew, catching the man by the sleeve, and
pointing towards the boys.
Mr. Sikes contented himself with tying an imaginary knot under
his left ear, and jerking his head over on the right shoulder; a
piece of dumb show which the Jew appeared to understand
perfectly. He then, in cant terms, with which his whole
conversation was plentifully besprinkled, but which would be
quite unintelligible if they were recorded here, demanded a glass
'And mind you don't poison it,' said Mr. Sikes, laying his hat
upon the table.
This was said in jest; but if the speaker could have seen the
evil leer with which the Jew bit his pale lip as he turned round
to the cupboard, he might have thought the caution not wholly
unnecessary, or the wish (at all events) to improve upon the
distiller's ingenuity not very far from the old gentleman's merry
After swallowing two of three glasses of spirits, Mr. Sikes
condescended to take some notice of the young gentlemen; which
gracious act led to a conversation, in which the cause and manner
of Oliver's capture were circumstantially detailed, with such
alterations and improvements on the truth, as to the Dodger
appeared most advisable under the circumstances.
'I'm afraid,' said the Jew, 'that he may say something which will
get us into trouble.'
'That's very likely,' returned Sikes with a malicious grin.
'You're blowed upon, Fagin.'
'And I'm afraid, you see, added the Jew, speaking as if he had
not noticed the interruption; and regarding the other closely as
he did so,--'I'm afraid that, if the game was up with us, it
might be up with a good many more, and that it would come out
rather worse for you than it would for me, my dear.'
The man started, and turned round upon the Jew. But the old
gentleman's shoulders were shrugged up to his ears; and his eyes
were vacantly staring on the opposite wall.
There was a long pause. Every member of the respectable coterie
appeared plunged in his own reflections; not excepting the dog,
who by a certain malicious licking of his lips seemed to be
meditating an attack upon the legs of the first gentleman or lady
he might encounter in the streets when he went out.
'Somebody must find out wot's been done at the office,' said Mr.
Sikes in a much lower tone than he had taken since he came in.
The Jew nodded assent.
'If he hasn't peached, and is committed, there's no fear till he
comes out again,' said Mr. Sikes, 'and then he must be taken care
on. You must get hold of him somehow.'