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'What'll be over?' demanded Mr. Sikes in a savage voice. 'What
foolery are you up to, now, again? Get up and bustle about, and
don't come over me with your woman's nonsense.'
At any other time, this remonstrance, and the tone in which it
was delivered, would have had the desired effect; but the girl
being really weak and exhausted, dropped her head over the back
of the chair, and fainted, before Mr. Sikes could get out a few
of the appropriate oaths with which, on similar occasions, he was
accustomed to garnish his threats. Not knowing, very well, what
to do, in this uncommon emergency; for Miss Nancy's hysterics
were usually of that violent kind which the patient fights and
struggles out of, without much assistance; Mr. Sikes tried a
little blasphemy: and finding that mode of treatment wholly
ineffectual, called for assistance.
'What's the matter here, my dear?' said Fagin, looking in.
'Lend a hand to the girl, can't you?' replied Sikes impatiently.
'Don't stand chattering and grinning at me!'
With an exclamation of surprise, Fagin hastened to the girl's
assistance, while Mr. John Dawkins (otherwise the Artful Dodger),
who had followed his venerable friend into the room, hastily
deposited on the floor a bundle with which he was laden; and
snatching a bottle from the grasp of Master Charles Bates who
came close at his heels, uncorked it in a twinkling with his
teeth, and poured a portion of its contents down the patient's
throat: previously taking a taste, himself, to prevent mistakes.
'Give her a whiff of fresh air with the bellows, Charley,' said
Mr. Dawkins; 'and you slap her hands, Fagin, while Bill undoes
These united restoratives, administered with great energy:
especially that department consigned to Master Bates, who
appeared to consider his share in the proceedings, a piece of
unexampled pleasantry: were not long in producing the desired
effect. The girl gradually recovered her senses; and, staggering
to a chair by the bedside, hid her face upon the pillow: leaving
Mr. Sikes to confront the new comers, in some astonishment at
their unlooked-for appearance.
'Why, what evil wind has blowed you here?' he asked Fagin.
'No evil wind at all, my dear, for evil winds blow nobody any
good; and I've brought something good with me, that you'll be
glad to see. Dodger, my dear, open the bundle; and give Bill the
little trifles that we spent all our money on, this morning.'
In compliance with Mr. Fagin's request, the Artful untied this
bundle, which was of large size, and formed of an old
table-cloth; and handed the articles it contained, one by one, to
Charley Bates: who placed them on the table, with various
encomiums on their rarity and excellence.
'Sitch a rabbit pie, Bill,' exclaimed that young gentleman,
disclosing to view a huge pasty; 'sitch delicate creeturs, with
sitch tender limbs, Bill, that the wery bones melt in your mouth,
and there's no occasion to pick 'em; half a pound of seven and
six-penny green, so precious strong that if you mix it with
biling water, it'll go nigh to blow the lid of the tea-pot off; a
pound and a half of moist sugar that the niggers didn't work at
all at, afore they got it up to sitch a pitch of goodness,--oh
no! Two half-quartern brans; pound of best fresh; piece of
double Glo'ster; and, to wind up all, some of the richest sort
you ever lushed!'
Uttering this last panegyrie, Master Bates produced, from one of
his extensive pockets, a full-sized wine-bottle, carefully
corked; while Mr. Dawkins, at the same instant, poured out a
wine-glassful of raw spirits from the bottle he carried: which
the invalid tossed down his throat without a moment's hesitation.
'Ah!' said Fagin, rubbing his hands with great satisfaction.
'You'll do, Bill; you'll do now.'
'Do!' exclaimed Mr. Sikes; 'I might have been done for, twenty
times over, afore you'd have done anything to help me. What do
you mean by leaving a man in this state, three weeks and more,
you false-hearted wagabond?'
'Only hear him, boys!' said Fagin, shrugging his shoulders. 'And
us come to bring him all these beau-ti-ful things.'
'The things is well enough in their way,' observed Mr. Sikes: a
little soothed as he glanced over the table; 'but what have you
got to say for yourself, why you should leave me here, down in
the mouth, health, blunt, and everything else; and take no more
notice of me, all this mortal time, than if I was that 'ere
dog.--Drive him down, Charley!'
'I never see such a jolly dog as that,' cried Master Bates, doing
as he was desired. 'Smelling the grub like a old lady a going to
market! He'd make his fortun' on the stage that dog would, and
rewive the drayma besides.'
'Hold your din,' cried Sikes, as the dog retreated under the bed:
still growling angrily. 'What have you got to say for yourself,
you withered old fence, eh?'
'I was away from London, a week and more, my dear, on a plant,'
replied the Jew.
'And what about the other fortnight?' demanded Sikes. 'What
about the other fortnight that you've left me lying here, like a
sick rat in his hole?'
'I couldn't help it, Bill. I can't go into a long explanation
before company; but I couldn't help it, upon my honour.'
'Upon your what?' growled Sikes, with excessive disgust. 'Here!
Cut me off a piece of that pie, one of you boys, to take the
taste of that out of my mouth, or it'll choke me dead.'
'Don't be out of temper, my dear,' urged Fagin, submissively. 'I
have never forgot you, Bill; never once.'
'No! I'll pound it that you han't,' replied Sikes, with a bitter
grin. 'You've been scheming and plotting away, every hour that I
have laid shivering and burning here; and Bill was to do this;
and Bill was to do that; and Bill was to do it all, dirt cheap,
as soon as he got well: and was quite poor enough for your work.
If it hadn't been for the girl, I might have died.'
'There now, Bill,' remonstrated Fagin, eagerly catching at the
word. 'If it hadn't been for the girl! Who but poor ould Fagin
was the means of your having such a handy girl about you?'
'He says true enough there!' said Nancy, coming hastily forward.
'Let him be; let him be.'
Nancy's appearance gave a new turn to the conversation; for the
boys, receiving a sly wink from the wary old Jew, began to ply
her with liquor: of which, however, she took very sparingly;
while Fagin, assuming an unusual flow of spirits, gradually
brought Mr. Sikes into a better temper, by affecting to regard
his threats as a little pleasant banter; and, moreover, by
laughing very heartily at one or two rough jokes, which, after
repeated applications to the spirit-bottle, he condescended to
'It's all very well,' said Mr. Sikes; 'but I must have some blunt
from you to-night.'
'I haven't a piece of coin about me,' replied the Jew.
'Then you've got lots at home,' retorted Sikes; 'and I must have
some from there.'
'Lots!' cried Fagin, holding up is hands. 'I haven't so much as
'I don't know how much you've got, and I dare say you hardly know
yourself, as it would take a pretty long time to count it,' said
Sikes; 'but I must have some to-night; and that's flat.'
'Well, well,' said Fagin, with a sigh, 'I'll send the Artful
'You won't do nothing of the kind,' rejoined Mr. Sikes. 'The
Artful's a deal too artful, and would forget to come, or lose his
way, or get dodged by traps and so be perwented, or anything for
an excuse, if you put him up to it. Nancy shall go to the ken
and fetch it, to make all sure; and I'll lie down and have a
snooze while she's gone.'
After a great deal of haggling and squabbling, Fagin beat down
the amount of the required advance from five pounds to three
pounds four and sixpence: protesting with many solemn
asseverations that that would only leave him eighteen-pence to
keep house with; Mr. Sikes sullenly remarking that if he couldn't
get any more he must accompany him home; with the Dodger and
Master Bates put the eatables in the cupboard. The Jew then,
taking leave of his affectionate friend, returned homeward,
attended by Nancy and the boys: Mr. Sikes, meanwhile, flinging
himself on the bed, and composing himself to sleep away the time
until the young lady's return.
In due course, they arrived at Fagin's abode, where they found
Toby Crackit and Mr. Chitling intent upon their fifteenth game at
cribbage, which it is scarcely necessary to say the latter
gentleman lost, and with it, his fifteenth and last sixpence:
much to the amusement of his young friends. Mr. Crackit,
apparently somewhat ashamed at being found relaxing himself with
a gentleman so much his inferior in station and mental
endowments, yawned, and inquiring after Sikes, took up his hat to
'Has nobody been, Toby?' asked Fagin.
'Not a living leg,' answered Mr. Crackit, pulling up his collar;
'it's been as dull as swipes. You ought to stand something
handsome, Fagin, to recompense me for keeping house so long.
Damme, I'm as flat as a juryman; and should have gone to sleep,
as fast as Newgate, if I hadn't had the good natur' to amuse this
youngster. Horrid dull, I'm blessed if I an't!'