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'What'll you give, gen'l'men? Come! Don't be too hard on a poor
man. What'll you give?'
'I should say, three pound ten was plenty,' said Mr. Limbkins.
'Ten shillings too much,' said the gentleman in the white
'Come!' said Gamfield; 'say four pound, gen'l'men. Say four
pound, and you've got rid of him for good and all. There!'
'Three pound ten,' repeated Mr. Limbkins, firmly.
'Come! I'll split the diff'erence, gen'l'men, urged Gamfield.
'Three pound fifteen.'
'Not a farthing more,' was the firm reply of Mr. Limbkins.
'You're desperate hard upon me, gen'l'men, said Gamfield,
'Pooh! pooh! nonsense!' said the gentleman in the white
waistcoat. 'He'd be cheap with nothing at all, as a premium.
Take him, you silly fellow! He's just the boy for you. He wants
the stick, now and then: it'll do him good; and his board
needn't come very expensive, for he hasn't been overfed since he
was born. Ha! ha! ha!'
Mr. Gamfield gave an arch look at the faces round the table, and,
observing a smile on all of them, gradually broke into a smile
himself. The bargain was made. Mr. Bumble, was at once
instructed that Oliver Twist and his indentures were to be
conveyed before the magistrate, for signature and approval, that
In pursuance of this determination, little Oliver, to his
excessive astonishment, was released from bondage, and ordered to
put himself into a clean shirt. He had hardly achieved this very
unusual gymnastic performance, when Mr. Bumble brought him, with
his own hands, a basin of gruel, and the holiday allowance of two
ounces and a quarter of bread. At this tremendous sight, Oliver
began to cry very piteously: thinking, not unaturally, that the
board must have determined to kill him for some useful purpose,
or they never would have begun to fatten him up in that way.
'Don't make your eyes red, Oliver, but eat your food and be
thankful,' said Mr. Bumble, in a tone of impressive pomposity.
'You're a going to be made a 'prentice of, Oliver.'
'A prentice, sir!' said the child, trembling.
'Yes, Oliver,' said Mr. Bumble. 'The kind and blessed gentleman
which is so amny parents to you, Oliver, when you have none of
your own: are a going to 'prentice you: and to set you up in
life, and make a man of you: although the expense to the parish
is three pound ten!--three pound ten, Oliver!--seventy
shillins--one hundred and forty sixpences!--and all for a naughty
orphan which noboday can't love.'
As Mr. Bumble paused to take breath, after delivering this
address in an awful voice, the tears rolled down the poor child's
face, and he sobbed bitterly.
'Come,' said Mr. Bumble, somewhat less pompously, for it was
gratifying to his feelings to observe the effect his eloquence
had produced; 'Come, Oliver! Wipe your eyes with the cuffs of
your jacket, and don't cry into your gruel; that's a very foolish
action, Oliver.' It certainly was, for there was quite enough
water in it already.
On their way to the magistrate, Mr. Bumble instructed Oliver that
all he would have to do, would be to look very happy, and say,
when the gentleman asked him if he wanted to be apprenticed, that
he should like it very much indeed; both of which injunctions
Oliver promised to obey: the rather as Mr. Bumble threw in a
gentle hint, that if he failed in either particular, there was no
telling what would be done to him. When they arrived at the
office, he was shut up in a little room by himself, and
admonished by Mr. Bumble to stay there, until he came back to
There the boy remained, with a palpitating heart, for half an
hour. At the expiration of which time Mr. Bumble thrust in his
head, unadorned with the cocked hat, and said aloud:
'Now, Oliver, my dear, come to the gentleman.' As Mr. Bumble
said this, he put on a grim and threatening look, and added, in a
low voice, 'Mind what I told you, you young rascal!'
Oliver stared innocently in Mr. Bumble's face at this somewhat
contradictory style of address; but that gentleman prevented his
offering any remark thereupon, by leading him at once into an
adjoining room: the door of which was open. It was a large room,
with a great window. Behind a desk, sat two old gentleman with
powdered heads: one of whom was reading the newspaper; while the
other was perusing, with the aid of a pair of tortoise-shell
spectacles, a small piece of parchment which lay before him. Mr.
Limbkins was standing in front of the desk on one side; and Mr.
Gamfield, with a partially washed face, on the other; while two
or three bluff-looking men, in top-boots, were lounging about.
The old gentleman with the spectacles gradually dozed off, over
the little bit of parchment; and there was a short pause, after
Oliver had been stationed by Mr. Bumble in front of the desk.
'This is the boy, your worship,' said Mr. Bumble.
The old gentleman who was reading the newspaper raised his head
for a moment, and pulled the other old gentleman by the sleeve;
whereupon, the last-mentioned old gentleman woke up.
'Oh, is this the boy?' said the old gentleman.
'This is him, sir,' replied Mr. Bumble. 'Bow to the magistrate,
Oliver roused himself, and made his best obeisance. He had been
wondering, with his eyes fixed on the magistrates' powder,
whether all boards were born with that white stuff on their
heads, and were boards from thenceforth on that account.
'Well,' said the old gentleman, 'I suppose he's fond of
'He doats on it, your worship,' replied Bumble; giving Oliver a
sly pinch, to intimate that he had better not say he didn't.
'And he WILL be a sweep, will he?' inquired the old gentleman.
'If we was to bind him to any other trade to-morrow, he'd run
away simultaneous, your worship,' replied Bumble.
'And this man that's to be his master--you, sir--you'll treat him
well, and feed him, and do all that sort of thing, will you?'
said the old gentleman.
'When I says I will, I means I will,' replied Mr. Gamfield
'You're a rough speaker, my friend, but you look an honest,
open-hearted man,' said the old gentleman: turning his
spectacles in the direction of the candidate for Oliver's
premium, whose villainous countenance was a regular stamped
receipt for cruelty. But the magistrate was half blind and half
childish, so he couldn't reasonably be expected to discern what
other people did.
'I hope I am, sir,' said Mr. Gamfield, with an ugly leer.
'I have no doubt you are, my friend,' replied the old gentleman:
fixing his spectacles more firmly on his nose, and looking about
him for the inkstand.
It was the critical moment of Oliver's fate. If the inkstand had
been where the old gentleman though it was, he would have dipped
his pen into it, and signed the indentures, and Oliver would have
been straightway hurried off. But, as it chanced to be
immediately under his nose, it followed, as a matter of course,
that he looked all over his desk for it, without finding it; and
happening in the course of his search to look straight before
him, his gaze encountered the pale and terrified face of Oliver
Twist: who, despite all the admonitory looks and pinches of
Bumble, was regarding the repulsive countenance of his future
master, with a mingled expression of horror and fear, too
palpable to be mistaken, even by a half-blind magistrate.
The old gentleman stopped, laid down his pen, and looked from
Oliver to Mr. Limbkins; who attempted to take snuff with a
cheerful and unconcerned aspect.
'My boy!' said the old gentleman, 'you look pale and alarmed.
What is the matter?'
'Stand a little away from him, Beadle,' said the other
magistrate: laying aside the paper, and leaning forward with an
expression of interest. 'Now, boy, tell us what's the matter:
don't be afraid.'
Oliver fell on his knees, and clasping his hands together, prayed
that they would order him back to the dark room-- that they would
starve him--beat him--kill him if they pleased--rather than send
him away with that dreadful man.
'Well!' said Mr. Bumble, raising his hands and eyes with most
impressive solemnite. 'Well! of all the artful and designing
orphans that ever I see, Oliver, you are one of the most
'Hold your tongue, Beadle,' said the second old gentleman, when
Mr. Bumble had given vent to this compound adjective.
'I beg your worship's pardon,' said Mr. Bumble, incredulous of
having heard aright. 'Did your worship speak to me?'
'Yes. Hold your tongue.'
Mr. Bumble was stupefied with astonishment. A beadle ordered to
hold his tongue! A moral revolution!