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be more careful, perhaps, not to wound me again. You say you are
an orphan, without a friend in the world; all the inquiries I
have been able to make, confirm the statement. Let me hear your
story; where you come from; who brought you up; and how you got
into the company in which I found you. Speak the truth, and you
shall not be friendless while I live.'
Oliver's sobs checked his utterance for some minutes; when he was
on the point of beginning to relate how he had been brought up at
the farm, and carried to the workhouse by Mr. Bumble, a
peculiarly impatient little double-knock was heard at the
street-door: and the servant, running upstairs, announced Mr.
'Is he coming up?' inquired Mr. Brownlow.
'Yes, sir,' replied the servant. 'He asked if there were any
muffins in the house; and, when I told him yes, he said he had
come to tea.'
Mr. Brownlow smiled; and, turning to Oliver, said that Mr.
Grimwig was an old friend of his, and he must not mind his being
a little rough in his manners; for he was a worthy creature at
bottom, as he had reason to know.
'Shall I go downstairs, sir?' inquired Oliver.
'No,' replied Mr. Brownlow, 'I would rather you remained here.'
At this moment, there walked into the room: supporting himself
by a thick stick: a stout old gentleman, rather lame in one leg,
who was dressed in a blue coat, striped waistcoat, nankeen
breeches and gaiters, and a broad-brimmed white hat, with the
sides turned up with green. A very small-plaited shirt frill
stuck out from his waistcoat; and a very long steel watch-chain,
with nothing but a key at the end, dangled loosely below it. The
ends of his white neckerchief were twisted into a ball about the
size of an orange; the variety of shapes into which his
countenance was twisted, defy description. He had a manner of
screwing his head on one side when he spoke; and of looking out
of the corners of his eyes at the same time: which irresistibly
reminded the beholder of a parrot. In this attitude, he fixed
himself, the moment he made his appearance; and, holding out a
small piece of orange-peel at arm's length, exclaimed, in a
growling, discontented voice.
'Look here! do you see this! Isn't it a most wonderful and
extraordinary thing that I can't call at a man's house but I find
a piece of this poor surgeon's friend on the staircase? I've been
lamed with orange-peel once, and I know orange-peel will be my
death, or I'll be content to eat my own head, sir!'
This was the handsome offer with which Mr. Grimwig backed and
confirmed nearly every assertion he made; and it was the more
singular in his case, because, even admitting for the sake of
argument, the possibility of scientific improvements being
brought to that pass which will enable a gentleman to eat his own
head in the event of his being so disposed, Mr. Grimwig's head
was such a particularly large one, that the most sanguine man
alive could hardly entertain a hope of being able to get through
it at a sitting--to put entirely out of the question, a very
thick coating of powder.
'I'll eat my head, sir,' repeated Mr. Grimwig, striking his stick
upon the ground. 'Hallo! what's that!' looking at Oliver, and
retreating a pace or two.
'This is young Oliver Twist, whom we were speaking about,' said
'You don't mean to say that's the boy who had the fever, I hope?'
said Mr. Grimwig, recoiling a little more. 'Wait a minute!
Don't speak! Stop--' continued Mr. Grimwig, abruptly, losing all
dread of the fever in his triumph at the discovery; 'that's the
boy who had the orange! If that's not the boy, sir, who had the
orange, and threw this bit of peel upon the staircase, I'll eat
my head, and his too.'
'No, no, he has not had one,' said Mr. Brownlow, laughing.
'Come! Put down your hat; and speak to my young friend.'
'I feel strongly on this subject, sir,' said the irritable old
gentleman, drawing off his gloves. 'There's always more or less
orange-peel on the pavement in our street; and I KNOW it's put
there by the surgeon's boy at the corner. A young woman stumbled
over a bit last night, and fell against my garden-railings;
directly she got up I saw her look towards his infernal red lamp
with the pantomime-light. "Don't go to him," I called out of the
window, "he's an assassin! A man-trap!" So he is. If he is
not--' Here the irascible old gentleman gave a great knock on
the ground with his stick; which was always understood, by his
friends, to imply the customary offer, whenever it was not
expressed in words. Then, still keeping his stick in his hand, he
sat down; and, opening a double eye-glass, which he wore attached
to a broad black riband, took a view of Oliver: who, seeing that
he was the object of inspection, coloured, and bowed again.
'That's the boy, is it?' said Mr. Grimwig, at length.
'That's the boy,' replied Mr. Brownlow.
'How are you, boy?' said Mr. Grimwig.
'A great deal better, thank you, sir,' replied Oliver.
Mr Brownlow, seeming to apprehend that his singular friend was
about to say something disagreeable, asked Oliver to step
downstairs and tell Mrs. Bedwin they were ready for tea; which,
as he did not half like the visitor's manner, he was very happy
'He is a nice-looking boy, is he not?' inquired Mr. Brownlow.
'I don't know,' replied Mr. Grimwig, pettishly.
'No. I don't know. I never see any difference in boys. I only
knew two sort of boys. Mealy boys, and beef-faced boys.'
'And which is Oliver?'
'Mealy. I know a friend who has a beef-faced boy; a fine boy,
they call him; with a round head, and red cheeks, and glaring
eyes; a horrid boy; with a body and limbs that appear to be
swelling out of the seams of his blue clothes; with the voice of
a pilot, and the appetite of a wolf. I know him! The wretch!'
'Come,' said Mr. Brownlow, 'these are not the characteristics of
young Oliver Twist; so he needn't excite your wrath.'
'They are not,' replied Mr. Grimwig. 'He may have worse.'
Here, Mr. Brownlow coughed impatiently; which appeared to afford
Mr. Grimwig the most exquisite delight.
'He may have worse, I say,' repeated Mr. Grimwig. 'Where does he
come from! Who is he? What is he? He has had a fever. What of
that? Fevers are not peculiar to good peope; are they? Bad
people have fevers sometimes; haven't they, eh? I knew a man who
was hung in Jamaica for murdering his master. He had had a fever
six times; he wasn't recommended to mercy on that account. Pooh!
Now, the fact was, that in the inmost recesses of his own heart,
Mr. Grimwig was strongly disposed to admit that Oliver's
appearance and manner were unusually prepossessing; but he had a
strong appetite for contradiction, sharpened on this occasion by
the finding of the orange-peel; and, inwardly determining that no
man should dictate to him whether a boy was well-looking or not,
he had resolved, from the first, to oppose his friend. When Mr.
Brownlow admitted that on no one point of inquiry could he yet
return a satisfactory answer; and that he had postponed any
investigation into Oliver's previous history until he thought the
boy was strong enough to hear it; Mr. Grimwig chuckled
maliciously. And he demanded, with a sneer, whether the
housekeeper was in the habit of counting the plate at night;
because if she didn't find a table-spoon or two missing some
sunshiny morning, why, he would be content to--and so forth.
All this, Mr. Brownlow, although himself somewhat of an impetuous
gentleman: knowing his friend's peculiarities, bore with great
good humour; as Mr. Grimwig, at tea, was graciously pleased to
express his entire approval of the muffins, matters went on very
smoothly; and Oliver, who made one of the party, began to feel
more at his ease than he had yet done in the fierce old
'And when are you going to hear at full, true, and particular
account of the life and adventures of Oliver Twist?' asked
Grimwig of Mr. Brownlow, at the conclusion of the meal; looking
sideways at Oliver, as he resumed his subject.
'To-morrow morning,' replied Mr. Brownlow. 'I would rather he
was alone with me at the time. Come up to me to-morrow morning
at ten o'clock, my dear.'
'Yes, sir,' replied Oliver. He answered with some hesitation,
because he was confused by Mr. Grimwig's looking so hard at him.
'I'll tell you what,' whispered that gentleman to Mr. Brownlow;
'he won't come up to you to-morrow morning. I saw him hesitate.
He is deceiving you, my good friend.'
'I'll swear he is not,' replied Mr. Brownlow, warmly.
'If he is not,' said Mr. Grimwig, 'I'll--' and down went the
'I'll answer for that boy's truth with my life!' said Mr.
Brownlow, knocking the table.
'And I for his falsehood with my head!' rejoined Mr. Grimwig,
knocking the table also.
'We shall see,' said Mr. Brownlow, checking his rising anger.
'We will,' replied Mr. Grimwig, with a provoking smile; 'we