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'and, if you have, it's your living!'
'Aye, it is!' returned the girl; not speaking, but pouring out
the words in one continuous and vehement scream. 'It is my
living; and the cold, wet, dirty streets are my home; and you're
the wretch that drove me to them long ago, and that'll keep me
there, day and night, day and night, till I die!'
'I shall do you a mischief!' interposed the Jew, goaded by these
reproaches; 'a mischief worse than that, if you say much more!'
The girl said nothing more; but, tearing her hair and dress in a
transport of passion, made such a rush at the Jew as would
probably have left signal marks of her revenge upon him, had not
her wrists been seized by Sikes at the right moment; upon which,
she made a few ineffectual struggles, and fainted.
'She's all right now,' said Sikes, laying her down in a corner.
'She's uncommon strong in the arms, when she's up in this way.'
The Jew wiped his forehead: and smiled, as if it were a relief to
have the disturbance over; but neither he, nor Sikes, nor the
dog, nor the boys, seemed to consider it in any other light than
a common occurance incidental to business.
'It's the worst of having to do with women,' said the Jew,
replacing his club; 'but they're clever, and we can't get on, in
our line, without 'em. Charley, show Oliver to bed.'
'I suppose he'd better not wear his best clothes tomorrow, Fagin,
had he?' inquired Charley Bates.
'Certainly not,' replied the Jew, reciprocating the grin with
which Charley put the question.
Master Bates, apparently much delighted with his commission, took
the cleft stick: and led Oliver into an adjacent kitchen, where
there were two or three of the beds on which he had slept before;
and here, with many uncontrollable bursts of laughter, he
produced the identical old suit of clothes which Oliver had so
much congratulated himself upon leaving off at Mr. Brownlow's;
and the accidental display of which, to Fagin, by the Jew who
purchased them, had been the very first clue received, of his
'Put off the smart ones,' said Charley, 'and I'll give 'em to
Fagin to take care of. What fun it is!'
Poor Oliver unwillingly complied. Master Bates rolling up the
new clothes under his arm, departed from the room, leaving Oliver
in the dark, and locking the door behind him.
The noise of Charley's laughter, and the voice of Miss Betsy, who
opportunely arrived to throw water over her friend, and perform
other feminine offices for the promotion of her recovery, might
have kept many people awake under more happy circumstances than
those in which Oliver was placed. But he was sick and weary; and
he soon fell sound asleep.
OLIVER'S DESTINY CONTINUING UNPROPITIOUS, BRINGS A GREAT MAN TO
LONDON TO INJURE HIS REPUTATION
It is the custom on the stage, in all good murderous melodramas,
to present the tragic and the comic scenes, in as regular
alternation, as the layers of red and white in a side of streaky
bacon. The hero sinks upon his straw bed, weighed down by
fetters and misfortunes; in the next scene, his faithful but
unconscious squire regales the audience with a comic song. We
behold, with throbbing bosoms, the heroine in the grasp of a
proud and ruthless baron: her virtue and her life alike in
danger, drawing forth her dagger to preserve the one at the cost
of the other; and just as our expectations are wrought up to the
highest pitch, a whistle is heard, and we are straightway
transported to the great hall of the castle; where a grey-headed
seneschal sings a funny chorus with a funnier body of vassals,
who are free of all sorts of places, from church vaults to
palaces, and roam about in company, carolling perpetually.
Such changes appear absurd; but they are not so unnatural as they
would seem at first sight. The transitions in real life from
well-spread boards to death-beds, and from mourning-weeds to
holiday garments, are not a whit less startling; only, there, we
are busy actors, instead of passive lookers-on, which makes a
vast difference. The actors in the mimic life of the theatre,
are blind to violent transitions and abrupt impulses of passion
or feeling, which, presented before the eyes of mere spectators,
are at once condemned as outrageous and preposterous.
As sudden shiftings of the scene, and rapid changes of time and
place, are not only sanctioned in books by long usage, but are by
many considered as the great art of authorship: an author's skill
in his craft being, by such critics, chiefly estimated with
relation to the dilemmas in which he leaves his characters at the
end of every chapter: this brief introduction to the present one
may perhaps be deemed unnecessary. If so, let it be considered a
delicate intimation on the part of the historian that he is going
back to the town in which Oliver Twist was born; the reader
taking it for granted that there are good and substantial reasons
for making the journey, or he would not be invited to proceed
upon such an expedition.
Mr. Bumble emerged at early morning from the workhouse-gate, and
walked with portly carriage and commanding steps, up the High
Street. He was in the full bloom and pride of beadlehood; his
cocked hat and coat were dazzling in the morning sun; he clutched
his cane with the vigorous tenacity of health and power. Mr.
Bumble always carried his head high; but this morning it was
higher than usual. There was an abstraction in his eye, an
elevation in his air, which might have warned an observant
stranger that thoughts were passing in the beadle's mind, too
great for utterance.
Mr. Bumble stopped not to converse with the small shopkeepers and
others who spoke to him, deferentially, as he passed along. He
merely returned their salutations with a wave of his hand, and
relaxed not in his dignified pace, until he reached the farm
where Mrs. Mann tended the infant paupers with parochial care.
'Drat that beadle!' said Mrs. Mann, hearing the well-known
shaking at the garden-gate. 'If it isn't him at this time in the
morning! Lauk, Mr. Bumble, only think of its being you! Well,
dear me, it IS a pleasure, this is! Come into the parlour, sir,
The first sentence was addressed to Susan; and the exclamations
of delight were uttered to Mr. Bumble: as the good lady unlocked
the garden-gate: and showed him, with great attention and
respect, into the house.
'Mrs. Mann,' said Mr. Bumble; not sitting upon, or dropping
himself into a seat, as any common jackanapes would: but letting
himself gradually and slowly down into a chair; 'Mrs. Mann,
ma'am, good morning.'
'Well, and good morning to YOU, sir,' replied Mrs. Mann, with
many smiles; 'and hoping you find yourself well, sir!'
'So-so, Mrs. Mann,' replied the beadle. 'A porochial life is not
a bed of roses, Mrs. Mann.'
'Ah, that it isn't indeed, Mr. Bumble,' rejoined the lady. And
all the infant paupers might have chorussed the rejoinder with
great propriety, if they had heard it.
'A porochial life, ma'am,' continued Mr. Bumble, striking the
table with his cane, 'is a life of worrit, and vexation, and
hardihood; but all public characters, as I may say, must suffer
Mrs. Mann, not very well knowing what the beadle meant, raised
her hands with a look of sympathy, and sighed.
'Ah! You may well sigh, Mrs. Mann!' said the beadle.
Finding she had done right, Mrs. Mann sighed again: evidently to
the satisfaction of the public character: who, repressing a
complacent smile by looking sternly at his cocked hat, said,
'Mrs. Mann, I am going to London.'
'Lauk, Mr. Bumble!' cried Mrs. Mann, starting back.
'To London, ma'am,' resumed the inflexible beadle, 'by coach. I
and two paupers, Mrs. Mann! A legal action is a coming on, about
a settlement; and the board has appointed me--me, Mrs. Mann--to
dispose to the matter before the quarter-sessions at Clerkinwell.
And I very much question,' added Mr. Bumble, drawing himself up,
'whether the Clerkinwell Sessions will not find themselves in the
wrong box before they have done with me.'
'Oh! you mustn't be too hard upon them, sir,' said Mrs. Mann,
'The Clerkinwell Sessions have brought it upon themselves,
ma'am,' replied Mr. Bumble; 'and if the Clerkinwell Sessions find
that they come off rather worse than they expected, the
Clerkinwell Sessions have only themselves to thank.'
There was so much determination and depth of purpose about the
menacing manner in which Mr. Bumble delivered himself of these
words, that Mrs. Mann appeared quite awed by them. At length she
'You're going by coach, sir? I thought it was always usual to
send them paupers in carts.'
'That's when they're ill, Mrs. Mann,' said the beadle. 'We put
the sick paupers into open carts in the rainy weather, to prevent
their taking cold.'
'Oh!' said Mrs. Mann.
'The opposition coach contracts for these two; and takes them
cheap,' said Mr. Bumble. 'They are both in a very low state, and
we find it would come two pound cheaper to move 'em than to bury
'em--that is, if we can throw 'em upon another parish, which I
think we shall be able to do, if they don't die upon the road to