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accept a hundred pounds, or so, apiece, as a trifling mark of our
esteem, and some slight acknowledgment of their kindness to
'Not exactly that,' rejoined Mr. Brownlow, laughing; 'but we must
proceed gently and with great care.'
'Gentleness and care,' exclaimed the doctor. 'I'd send them one
and all to--'
'Never mind where,' interposed Mr. Brownlow. 'But reflect
whether sending them anywhere is likely to attain the object we
have in view.'
'What object?' asked the doctor.
'Simply, the discovery of Oliver's parentage, and regaining for
him the inheritance of which, if this story be true, he has been
'Ah!' said Mr. Losberne, cooling himself with his
pocket-handkerchief; 'I almost forgot that.'
'You see,' pursued Mr. Brownlow; 'placing this poor girl entirely
out of the question, and supposing it were possible to bring
these scoundrels to justice without compromising her safety, what
good should we bring about?'
'Hanging a few of them at least, in all probability,' suggested
the doctor, 'and transporting the rest.'
'Very good,' replied Mr. Brownlow, smiling; 'but no doubt they
will bring that about for themselves in the fulness of time, and
if we step in to forestall them, it seems to me that we shall be
performing a very Quixotic act, in direct opposition to our own
interest--or at least to Oliver's, which is the same thing.'
'How?' inquired the doctor.
'Thus. It is quite clear that we shall have extreme difficulty
in getting to the bottom of this mystery, unless we can bring
this man, Monks, upon his knees. That can only be done by
stratagem, and by catching him when he is not surrounded by these
people. For, suppose he were apprehended, we have no proof
against him. He is not even (so far as we know, or as the facts
appear to us) concerned with the gang in any of their robberies.
If he were not discharged, it is very unlikely that he could
receive any further punishment than being committed to prison as
a rogue and vagabond; and of course ever afterwards his mouth
would be so obstinately closed that he might as well, for our
purposes, be deaf, dumb, blind, and an idiot.'
'Then,' said the doctor impetuously, 'I put it to you again,
whether you think it reasonable that this promise to the girl
should be considered binding; a promise made with the best and
kindest intentions, but really--'
'Do not discuss the point, my dear young lady, pray,' said Mr.
Brownlow, interrupting Rose as she was about to speak. 'The
promise shall be kept. I don't think it will, in the slightest
degree, interfere with our proceedings. But, before we can
resolve upon any precise course of action, it will be necessary
to see the girl; to ascertain from her whether she will point out
this Monks, on the understanding that he is to be dealt with by
us, and not by the law; or, if she will not, or cannot do that,
to procure from her such an account of his haunts and description
of his person, as will enable us to identify him. She cannot be
seen until next Sunday night; this is Tuesday. I would suggest
that in the meantime, we remain perfectly quiet, and keep these
matters secret even from Oliver himself.'
Although Mr. Loseberne received with many wry faces a proposal
involving a delay of five whole days, he was fain to admit that
no better course occurred to him just then; and as both Rose and
Mrs. Maylie sided very strongly with Mr. Brownlow, that
gentleman's proposition was carried unanimously.
'I should like,' he said, 'to call in the aid of my friend
Grimwig. He is a strange creature, but a shrewd one, and might
prove of material assistance to us; I should say that he was bred
a lawyer, and quitted the Bar in disgust because he had only one
brief and a motion of course, in twenty years, though whether
that is recommendation or not, you must determine for
'I have no objection to your calling in your friend if I may call
in mine,' said the doctor.
'We must put it to the vote,' replied Mr. Brownlow, 'who may he
'That lady's son, and this young lady's--very old friend,' said
the doctor, motioning towards Mrs. Maylie, and concluding with an
expressive glance at her niece.
Rose blushed deeply, but she did not make any audible objection
to this motion (possibly she felt in a hopeless minority); and
Harry Maylie and Mr. Grimwig were accordingly added to the
'We stay in town, of course,' said Mrs. Maylie, 'while there
remains the slightest prospect of prosecuting this inquiry with a
chance of success. I will spare neither trouble nor expense in
behalf of the object in which we are all so deeply interested,
and I am content to remain here, if it be for twelve months, so
long as you assure me that any hope remains.'
'Good!' rejoined Mr. Brownlow. 'And as I see on the faces about
me, a disposition to inquire how it happened that I was not in
the way to corroborate Oliver's tale, and had so suddenly left
the kingdom, let me stipulate that I shall be asked no questions
until such time as I may deem it expedient to forestall them by
telling my own story. Believe me, I make this request with good
reason, for I might otherwise excite hopes destined never to be
realised, and only increase difficulties and disappointments
already quite numerous enough. Come! Supper has been announced,
and young Oliver, who is all alone in the next room, will have
begun to think, by this time, that we have wearied of his
company, and entered into some dark conspiracy to thrust him
forth upon the world.'
With these words, the old gentleman gave his hand to Mrs. Maylie,
and escorted her into the supper-room. Mr. Losberne followed,
leading Rose; and the council was, for the present, effectually
AN OLD ACQUAINTANCE OF OLIVER'S, EXHIBITING DECIDED MARKS OF
GENIUS, BECOMES A PUBLIC CHARACTER IN THE METROPOLIS
Upon the night when Nancy, having lulled Mr. Sikes to sleep,
hurried on her self-imposed mission to Rose Maylie, there
advanced towards London, by the Great North Road, two persons,
upon whom it is expedient that this history should bestow some
They were a man and woman; or perhaps they would be better
described as a male and female: for the former was one of those
long-limbed, knock-kneed, shambling, bony people, to whom it is
difficult to assign any precise age,--looking as they do, when
they are yet boys, like undergrown men, and when they are almost
men, like overgrown boys. The woman was young, but of a robust
and hardy make, as she need have been to bear the weight of the
heavy bundle which was strapped to her back. Her companion was
not encumbered with much luggage, as there merely dangled from a
stick which he carried over his shoulder, a small parcel wrapped
in a common handkerchief, and apparently light enough. This
circumstance, added to the length of his legs, which were of
unusual extent, enabled him with much ease to keep some
half-dozen paces in advance of his companion, to whom he
occasionally turned with an impatient jerk of the head: as if
reproaching her tardiness, and urging her to greater exertion.
Thus, they had toiled along the dusty road, taking little heed of
any object within sight, save when they stepped aside to allow a
wider passage for the mail-coaches which were whirling out of
town, until they passed through Highgate archway; when the
foremost traveller stopped and called impatiently to his
'Come on, can't yer? What a lazybones yer are, Charlotte.'
'It's a heavy load, I can tell you,' said the female, coming up,
almost breathless with fatigue.
'Heavy! What are yer talking about? What are yer made for?'
rejoined the male traveller, changing his own little bundle as he
spoke, to the other shoulder. 'Oh, there yer are, resting again!
Well, if yer ain't enough to tire anybody's patience out, I don't
know what is!'
'Is it much farther?' asked the woman, resting herself against a
bank, and looking up with the perspiration streaming from her
'Much farther! Yer as good as there,' said the long-legged
tramper, pointing out before him. 'Look there! Those are the
lights of London.'
'They're a good two mile off, at least,' said the woman
'Never mind whether they're two mile off, or twenty,' said Noah
Claypole; for he it was; 'but get up and come on, or I'll kick
yer, and so I give yer notice.'
As Noah's red nose grew redder with anger, and as he crossed the
road while speaking, as if fully prepared to put his threat into
execution, the woman rose without any further remark, and trudged
onward by his side.
'Where do you mean to stop for the night, Noah?' she asked, after
they had walked a few hundred yards.
'How should I know?' replied Noah, whose temper had been
considerably impaired by walking.
'Near, I hope,' said Charlotte.