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'No more it is,' replied the Jew; 'Charley will talk. Don't mind
him, my dear; don't mind him. Betsy's a fine girl. Do as she
bids you, Tom, and you will make your fortune.'
'So I DO do as she bids me,' replied Mr. Chitling; 'I shouldn't
have been milled, if it hadn't been for her advice. But it
turned out a good job for you; didn't it, Fagin! And what's six
weeks of it? It must come, some time or another, and why not in
the winter time when you don't want to go out a-walking so much;
'Ah, to be sure, my dear,' replied the Jew.
'You wouldn't mind it again, Tom, would you,' asked the Dodger,
winking upon Charley and the Jew, 'if Bet was all right?'
'I mean to say that I shouldn't,' replied Tom, angrily. 'There,
now. Ah! Who'll say as much as that, I should like to know; eh,
'Nobody, my dear,' replied the Jew; 'not a soul, Tom. I don't
know one of 'em that would do it besides you; not one of 'em, my
'I might have got clear off, if I'd split upon her; mightn't I,
Fagin?' angrily pursued the poor half-witted dupe. 'A word from
me would have done it; wouldn't it, Fagin?'
'To be sure it would, my dear,' replied the Jew.
'But I didn't blab it; did I, Fagin?' demanded Tom, pouring
question upon question with great volubility.
'No, no, to be sure,' replied the Jew; 'you were too
stout-hearted for that. A deal too stout, my dear!'
'Perhaps I was,' rejoined Tom, looking round; 'and if I was,
what's to laugh at, in that; eh, Fagin?'
The Jew, perceiving that Mr. Chitling was considerably roused,
hastened to assure him that nobody was laughing; and to prove the
gravity of the company, appealed to Master Bates, the principal
offender. But, unfortunately, Charley, in opening his mouth to
reply that he was never more serious in his life, was unable to
prevent the escape of such a violent roar, that the abused Mr.
Chitling, without any preliminary ceremonies, rushed across the
room and aimed a blow at the offender; who, being skilful in
evading pursuit, ducked to avoid it, and chose his time so well
that it lighted on the chest of the merry old gentleman, and
caused him to stagger to the wall, where he stood panting for
breath, while Mr. Chitling looked on in intense dismay.
'Hark!' cried the Dodger at this moment, 'I heard the tinkler.'
Catching up the light, he crept softly upstairs.
The bell was rung again, with some impatience, while the party
were in darkness. After a short pause, the Dodger reappeared,
and whispered Fagin mysteriously.
'What!' cried the Jew, 'alone?'
The Dodger nodded in the affirmative, and, shading the flame of
the candle with his hand, gave Charley Bates a private
intimation, in dumb show, that he had better not be funny just
then. Having performed this friendly office, he fixed his eyes
on the Jew's face, and awaited his directions.
The old man bit his yellow fingers, and meditated for some
seconds; his face working with agitation the while, as if he
dreaded something, and feared to know the worst. At length he
raised his head.
'Where is he?' he asked.
The Dodger pointed to the floor above, and made a gesture, as if
to leave the room.
'Yes,' said the Jew, answering the mute inquiry; 'bring him down.
Hush! Quiet, Charley! Gently, Tom! Scarce, scarce!'
This brief direction to Charley Bates, and his recent antagonist,
was softly and immediately obeyed. There was no sound of their
whereabout, when the Dodger descended the stairs, bearing the
light in his hand, and followed by a man in a coarse smock-frock;
who, after casting a hurried glance round the room, pulled off a
large wrapper which had concealed the lower portion of his face,
and disclosed: all haggard, unwashed, and unshorn: the features
of flash Toby Crackit.
'How are you, Faguey?' said this worthy, nodding to the Jew. 'Pop
that shawl away in my castor, Dodger, so that I may know where to
find it when I cut; that's the time of day! You'll be a fine
young cracksman afore the old file now.'
With these words he pulled up the smock-frock; and, winding it
round his middle, drew a chair to the fire, and placed his feet
upon the hob.
'See there, Faguey,' he said, pointing disconsolately to his top
boots; 'not a drop of Day and Martin since you know when; not a
bubble of blacking, by Jove! But don't look at me in that way,
man. All in good time. I can't talk about business till I've
eat and drank; so produce the sustainance, and let's have a quiet
fill-out for the first time these three days!'
The Jew motioned to the Dodger to place what eatables there were,
upon the table; and, seating himself opposite the housebreaker,
waited his leisure.
To judge from appearances, Toby was by no means in a hurry to
open the conversation. At first, the Jew contented himself with
patiently watching his countenance, as if to gain from its
expression some clue to the intelligence he brought; but in vain.
He looked tired and worn, but there was the same complacent
repose upon his features that they always wore: and through
dirt, and beard, and whisker, there still shone, unimpaired, the
self-satisfied smirk of flash Toby Crackit. Then the Jew, in an
agony of impatience, watched every morsel he put into his mouth;
pacing up and down the room, meanwhile, in irrepressible
excitement. It was all of no use. Toby continued to eat with
the utmost outward indifference, until he could eat no more;
then, ordering the Dodger out, he closed the door, mixed a glass
of spirits and water, and composed himself for talking.
'First and foremost, Faguey,' said Toby.
'Yes, yes!' interposed the Jew, drawing up his chair.
Mr. Crackit stopped to take a draught of spirits and water, and
to declare that the gin was excellent; then placing his feet
against the low mantelpiece, so as to bring his boots to about
the level of his eye, he quietly resumed.
'First and foremost, Faguey,' said the housebreaker, 'how's
'What!' screamed the Jew, starting from his seat.
'Why, you don't mean to say--' began Toby, turning pale.
'Mean!' cried the Jew, stamping furiously on the ground. 'Where
are they? Sikes and the boy! Where are they? Where have they
been? Where are they hiding? Why have they not been here?'
'The crack failed,' said Toby faintly.
'I know it,' replied the Jew, tearing a newspaper from his pocket
and pointing to it. 'What more?'
'They fired and hit the boy. We cut over the fields at the back,
with him between us--straight as the crow flies--through hedge
and ditch. They gave chase. Damme! the whole country was awake,
and the dogs upon us.'
'Bill had him on his back, and scudded like the wind. We stopped
to take him between us; his head hung down, and he was cold.
They were close upon our heels; every man for himself, and each
from the gallows! We parted company, and left the youngster
lying in a ditch. Alive or dead, that's all I know about him.'
The Jew stopped to hear no more; but uttering a loud yell, and
twining his hands in his hair, rushed from the room, and from the
IN WHICH A MYSTERIOUS CHARACTER APPEARS UPON THE SCENE; AND MANY
THINGS, INSEPARABLE FROM THIS HISTORY, ARE DONE AND PERFORMED
The old man had gained the street corner, before he began to
recover the effect of Toby Crackit's intelligence. He had
relaxed nothing of his unusual speed; but was still pressing
onward, in the same wild and disordered manner, when the sudden
dashing past of a carriage: and a boisterous cry from the foot
passengers, who saw his danger: drove him back upon the
pavement. Avoiding, as much as was possible, all the main
streets, and skulking only through the by-ways and alleys, he at
length emerged on Snow Hill. Here he walked even faster than
before; nor did he linger until he had again turned into a court;
when, as if conscious that he was now in his proper element, he
fell into his usual shuffling pace, and seemed to breathe more
Near to the spot on which Snow Hill and Holborn Hill meet, opens,
upon the right hand as you come out of the City, a narrow and
dismal alley, leading to Saffron Hill. In its filthy shops are
exposed for sale huge bunches of second-hand silk handkerchiefs,
of all sizes and patterns; for here reside the traders who
purchase them from pick-pockets. Hundreds of these handkerchiefs
hang dangling from pegs outside the windows or flaunting from the
door-posts; and the shelves, within, are piled with them.
Confined as the limits of Field Lane are, it has its barber, its
coffee-shop, its beer-shop, and its fried-fish warehouse. It is
a commercial colony of itself: the emporium of petty larceny:
visited at early morning, and setting-in of dusk, by silent
merchants, who traffic in dark back-parlours, and who go as