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upon his breast; and, drawing his head and shoulders into a heap,
literally hugged himself for joy.
'Ours!' said Sikes. 'Yours, you mean.'
'Perhaps I do, my dear,' said the Jew, with a shrill chuckle.
'Mine, if you like, Bill.'
'And wot,' said Sikes, scowling fiercely on his agreeable friend,
'wot 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?'
'Because they're of no use to me, my dear,' replied the Jew, with
some confusion, 'not worth the taking. Their looks convict 'em
when they get into trouble, and I lose 'em all. With this boy,
properly managed, my dears, I could do what I couldn't with
twenty 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; it's quite enough for my power over him that he
was in a robbery; that's all I want. Now, how much better this
is, than being obliged to put the poor leetle 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
with which he received Fagin's affectation of humanity.
'Ah, to be sure,' said the Jew; 'when is it to be done, Bill?'
'I planned with Toby, the night arter to-morrow,' rejoined Sikes
in a surly voice, 'if he heerd nothing from me to the contrairy.'
'Good,' said the Jew; 'there's no moon.'
'No,' rejoined Sikes.
'It's all arranged about bringing off the swag, is it?' asked the
'Oh, ah, it's all planned,' rejoined Sikes, interrupting him.
'Never mind particulars. You'd better bring the boy here
to-morrow night. I shall get off the stone an hour arter
daybreak. Then you hold your tongue, and keep the melting-pot
ready, and that's all you'll have to do.'
After some discussion, in which all three took an active part, it
was decided that Nancy should repair to the Jew's next evening
when the night had set in, and bring Oliver away with her; Fagin
craftily 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
also 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, that the said
Sikes should deal with him as he thought fit; and should not be
held responsible by the Jew for any mischance 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. Sikes 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. Sikes 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, than he fell over the
box upon the floor, and went to sleep where he fell.
'Good-night, Nancy,' said the Jew, muffling himself up as before.
Their eyes met, and the Jew scrutinised her, narrowly. There was
no flinching about the girl. She was as true and earnest in the
matter as Toby Crackit himself could be.
The Jew again bade her good-night, and, bestowing a sly kick upon
the prostrate form of Mr. Sikes while her back was turned, groped
'Always the way!' muttered the Jew to himself as he turned
homeward. 'The worst of these women is, that a very little thing
serves to call up some long-forgotten feeling; and, the best of
them is, that it never lasts. Ha! ha! The man against the
child, for a bag of gold!'
Beguiling the time with these pleasant reflections, Mr. Fagin
wended his way, through mud and mire, to his gloomy abode: where
the Dodger was sitting up, impatiently awaiting his return.
'Is Oliver a-bed? I want to speak to him,' was his first remark
as they descended the stairs.
'Hours ago,' replied the Dodger, throwing open a door. 'Here he
The boy was lying, fast asleep, on a rude bed upon the floor; so
pale with anxiety, and sadness, and the closeness of his prison,
that he looked like death; not death as it shows in shroud and
coffin, but in the guise it wears 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 it hallowed.
'Not now,' said the Jew, turning softly away. 'To-morrow.
WHEREIN OLVER 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, on his 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
'To--to--stop there, sir?' asked Oliver, 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 shall
come back to us again. Ha! ha! ha! 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, looked round as he bantered Oliver thus; and chuckled as
if to show that he knew he would still be very glad to get away
if he could.
'I suppose,' said the Jew, fixing his eyes on Oliver, 'you want
to know what you're going to Bill's for---eh, my dear?'
Oliver coloured, involuntarily, to find that the old thief had
been reading his thoughts; but boldly said, Yes, he did want to
'Why, do you think?' inquired Fagin, parrying the question.
'Indeed I don't know, sir,' replied Oliver.
'Bah!' said the Jew, turning away with a disappointed countenance
from a close perusal of the boy's face. 'Wait till Bill tells
The Jew seemed 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 here's 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, pointing to the candle, motioned him
to light it. 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, Oliver! take heed!' said the old man, shaking his
right hand before him in a warning manner. 'He's a rough man,
and thinks nothing of blood when his own is up. W hatever 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 a trembling heart, on the words
he had just heard. The more he thought of the Jew's admonition,
the more he was at a loss to divine its 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