COMPRISING FURTHER PARTICULARS OF
OLIVER’S STAY AT MR. BROWNLOW’S, WITH
THE REMARKABLE PREDICTION WHICH ONE MR. GRIMWIG UTTERED
CONCERNING HIM, WHEN HE WENT OUT ON AN ERRAND
Oliver soon recovering from the fainting-fit
into which Mr. Brownlow’s abrupt exclamation
had thrown him, the subject of the picture was carefully
avoided, both by the old gentleman and Mrs. Bedwin,
in the conversation that ensued: which indeed
bore no reference to Oliver’s history or prospects,
but was confined to such topics as might amuse without
exciting him. He was still too weak to get up
to breakfast; but, when he came down into the housekeeper’s
room next day, his first act was to cast an eager
glance at the wall, in the hope of again looking on
the face of the beautiful lady. His expectations
were disappointed, however, for the picture had been
‘Ah!’ said the housekeeper,
watching the direction of Oliver’s eyes.
‘It is gone, you see.’
‘I see it is ma’am,’
replied Oliver. ‘Why have they taken it
’It has been taken down, child,
because Mr. Brownlow said, that as it seemed to worry
you, perhaps it might prevent your getting well, you
know,’ rejoined the old lady.
‘Oh, no, indeed. It didn’t
worry me, ma’am,’ said Oliver. ’I
liked to see it. I quite loved it.’
‘Well, well!’ said the
old lady, good-humouredly; ’you get well as fast
as ever you can, dear, and it shall be hung up again.
There! I promise you that! Now, let us
talk about something else.’
This was all the information Oliver
could obtain about the picture at that time.
As the old lady had been so kind to him in his illness,
he endeavoured to think no more of the subject just
then; so he listened attentively to a great many stories
she told him, about an amiable and handsome daughter
of hers, who was married to an amiable and handsome
man, and lived in the country; and about a son, who
was clerk to a merchant in the West Indies; and who
was, also, such a good young man, and wrote such dutiful
letters home four times a-year, that it brought the
tears into her eyes to talk about them. When
the old lady had expatiated, a long time, on the excellences
of her children, and the merits of her kind good husband
besides, who had been dead and gone, poor dear soul!
just six-and-twenty years, it was time to have tea.
After tea she began to teach Oliver cribbage:
which he learnt as quickly as she could teach:
and at which game they played, with great interest
and gravity, until it was time for the invalid to have
some warm wine and water, with a slice of dry toast,
and then to go cosily to bed.
They were happy days, those of Oliver’s
recovery. Everything was so quiet, and neat,
and orderly; everybody so kind and gentle; that after
the noise and turbulence in the midst of which he had
always lived, it seemed like Heaven itself.
He was no sooner strong enough to put his clothes
on, properly, than Mr. Brownlow caused a complete new
suit, and a new cap, and a new pair of shoes, to be
provided for him. As Oliver was told that he
might do what he liked with the old clothes, he gave
them to a servant who had been very kind to him, and
asked her to sell them to a Jew, and keep the money
for herself. This she very readily did; and,
as Oliver looked out of the parlour window, and saw
the Jew roll them up in his bag and walk away, he
felt quite delighted to think that they were safely
gone, and that there was now no possible danger of
his ever being able to wear them again. They
were sad rags, to tell the truth; and Oliver had never
had a new suit before.
One evening, about a week after the
affair of the picture, as he was sitting talking to
Mrs. Bedwin, there came a message down from Mr. Brownlow,
that if Oliver Twist felt pretty well, he should like
to see him in his study, and talk to him a little
’Bless us, and save us!
Wash your hands, and let me part your hair nicely
for you, child,’ said Mrs. Bedwin. ’Dear
heart alive! If we had known he would have asked
for you, we would have put you a clean collar on,
and made you as smart as sixpence!’
Oliver did as the old lady bade him;
and, although she lamented grievously, meanwhile,
that there was not even time to crimp the little frill
that bordered his shirt-collar; he looked so delicate
and handsome, despite that important personal advantage,
that she went so far as to say: looking at him
with great complacency from head to foot, that she
really didn’t think it would have been possible,
on the longest notice, to have made much difference
in him for the better.
Thus encouraged, Oliver tapped at
the study door. On Mr. Brownlow calling to him
to come in, he found himself in a little back room,
quite full of books, with a window, looking into some
pleasant little gardens. There was a table drawn
up before the window, at which Mr. Brownlow was seated
reading. When he saw Oliver, he pushed the book
away from him, and told him to come near the table,
and sit down. Oliver complied; marvelling where
the people could be found to read such a great number
of books as seemed to be written to make the world
wiser. Which is still a marvel to more experienced
people than Oliver Twist, every day of their lives.
‘There are a good many books,
are there not, my boy?’ said Mr. Brownlow, observing
the curiosity with which Oliver surveyed the shelves
that reached from the floor to the ceiling.
‘A great number, sir,’
replied Oliver. ‘I never saw so many.’
‘You shall read them, if you
behave well,’ said the old gentleman kindly;
’and you will like that, better than looking
at the outsides, that is, some cases; because
there are books of which the backs and covers are
by far the best parts.’
‘I suppose they are those heavy
ones, sir,’ said Oliver, pointing to some large
quartos, with a good deal of gilding about the binding.
‘Not always those,’ said
the old gentleman, patting Oliver on the head, and
smiling as he did so; ’there are other equally
heavy ones, though of a much smaller size. How
should you like to grow up a clever man, and write
‘I think I would rather read them, sir,’
‘What! wouldn’t you like to be a book-writer?’
said the old gentleman.
Oliver considered a little while;
and at last said, he should think it would be a much
better thing to be a book-seller; upon which the old
gentleman laughed heartily, and declared he had said
a very good thing. Which Oliver felt glad to
have done, though he by no means knew what it was.
‘Well, well,’ said the
old gentleman, composing his features. ’Don’t
be afraid! We won’t make an author of
you, while there’s an honest trade to be learnt,
or brick-making to turn to.’
‘Thank you, sir,’ said
Oliver. At the earnest manner of his reply, the
old gentleman laughed again; and said something about
a curious instinct, which Oliver, not understanding,
paid no very great attention to.
‘Now,’ said Mr. Brownlow,
speaking if possible in a kinder, but at the same
time in a much more serious manner, than Oliver had
ever known him assume yet, ’I want you to pay
great attention, my boy, to what I am going to say.
I shall talk to you without any reserve; because I
am sure you are well able to understand me, as many
older persons would be.’
‘Oh, don’t tell you are
going to send me away, sir, pray!’ exclaimed
Oliver, alarmed at the serious tone of the old gentleman’s
commencement! ’Don’t turn me out
of doors to wander in the streets again. Let
me stay here, and be a servant. Don’t send
me back to the wretched place I came from. Have
mercy upon a poor boy, sir!’
‘My dear child,’ said
the old gentleman, moved by the warmth of Oliver’s
sudden appeal; ’you need not be afraid of my
deserting you, unless you give me cause.’
‘I never, never will, sir,’ interposed
‘I hope not,’ rejoined
the old gentleman. ’I do not think you
ever will. I have been deceived, before, in
the objects whom I have endeavoured to benefit; but
I feel strongly disposed to trust you, nevertheless;
and I am more interested in your behalf than I can
well account for, even to myself. The persons
on whom I have bestowed my dearest love, lie deep
in their graves; but, although the happiness and delight
of my life lie buried there too, I have not made a
coffin of my heart, and sealed it up, forever, on
my best affections. Deep affliction has but
strengthened and refined them.’
As the old gentleman said this in
a low voice: more to himself than to his companion:
and as he remained silent for a short time afterwards:
Oliver sat quite still.
‘Well, well!’ said the
old gentleman at length, in a more cheerful tone,
’I only say this, because you have a young heart;
and knowing that I have suffered great pain and sorrow,
you will be more careful, perhaps, not to wound me
again. You say you are an orphan, without a
friend in the world; all the inquiries I have been
able to make, confirm the statement. Let me
hear your story; where you come from; who brought
you up; and how you got into the company in which I
found you. Speak the truth, and you shall not
be friendless while I live.’
Oliver’s sobs checked his utterance
for some minutes; when he was on the point of beginning
to relate how he had been brought up at the farm,
and carried to the workhouse by Mr. Bumble, a peculiarly
impatient little double-knock was heard at the street-door:
and the servant, running upstairs, announced Mr.
‘Is he coming up?’ inquired Mr. Brownlow.
‘Yes, sir,’ replied the
servant. ’He asked if there were any muffins
in the house; and, when I told him yes, he said he
had come to tea.’
Mr. Brownlow smiled; and, turning
to Oliver, said that Mr. Grimwig was an old friend
of his, and he must not mind his being a little rough
in his manners; for he was a worthy creature at bottom,
as he had reason to know.
‘Shall I go downstairs, sir?’ inquired
‘No,’ replied Mr. Brownlow, ‘I would
rather you remained here.’
At this moment, there walked into
the room: supporting himself by a thick stick:
a stout old gentleman, rather lame in one leg, who
was dressed in a blue coat, striped waistcoat, nankeen
breeches and gaiters, and a broad-brimmed white hat,
with the sides turned up with green. A very
small-plaited shirt frill stuck out from his waistcoat;
and a very long steel watch-chain, with nothing but
a key at the end, dangled loosely below it.
The ends of his white neckerchief were twisted into
a ball about the size of an orange; the variety of
shapes into which his countenance was twisted, defy
description. He had a manner of screwing his
head on one side when he spoke; and of looking out
of the corners of his eyes at the same time:
which irresistibly reminded the beholder of a parrot.
In this attitude, he fixed himself, the moment he
made his appearance; and, holding out a small piece
of orange-peel at arm’s length, exclaimed, in
a growling, discontented voice.
’Look here! do you see this!
Isn’t it a most wonderful and extraordinary
thing that I can’t call at a man’s house
but I find a piece of this poor surgeon’s friend
on the staircase? I’ve been lamed with
orange-peel once, and I know orange-peel will be my
death, or I’ll be content to eat my own head,
This was the handsome offer with which
Mr. Grimwig backed and confirmed nearly every assertion
he made; and it was the more singular in his case,
because, even admitting for the sake of argument, the
possibility of scientific improvements being brought
to that pass which will enable a gentleman to eat
his own head in the event of his being so disposed,
Mr. Grimwig’s head was such a particularly large
one, that the most sanguine man alive could hardly
entertain a hope of being able to get through it at
a sitting to put entirely out of the question,
a very thick coating of powder.
‘I’ll eat my head, sir,’
repeated Mr. Grimwig, striking his stick upon the
ground. ‘Hallo! what’s that!’
looking at Oliver, and retreating a pace or two.
‘This is young Oliver Twist,
whom we were speaking about,’ said Mr. Brownlow.
‘You don’t mean to say
that’s the boy who had the fever, I hope?’
said Mr. Grimwig, recoiling a little more. ’Wait
a minute! Don’t speak! Stop ’
continued Mr. Grimwig, abruptly, losing all dread of
the fever in his triumph at the discovery; ’that’s
the boy who had the orange! If that’s not
the boy, sir, who had the orange, and threw this bit
of peel upon the staircase, I’ll eat my head,
and his too.’
‘No, no, he has not had one,’
said Mr. Brownlow, laughing. ’Come!
Put down your hat; and speak to my young friend.’
‘I feel strongly on this subject,
sir,’ said the irritable old gentleman, drawing
off his gloves. ’There’s always more
or less orange-peel on the pavement in our street;
and I know it’s put there by the surgeon’s
boy at the corner. A young woman stumbled over
a bit last night, and fell against my garden-railings;
directly she got up I saw her look towards his infernal
red lamp with the pantomime-light. “Don’t
go to him,” I called out of the window, “he’s
an assassin! A man-trap!” So he is.
If he is not ’ Here the irascible
old gentleman gave a great knock on the ground with
his stick; which was always understood, by his friends,
to imply the customary offer, whenever it was not
expressed in words. Then, still keeping his stick
in his hand, he sat down; and, opening a double eye-glass,
which he wore attached to a broad black riband, took
a view of Oliver: who, seeing that he was the
object of inspection, coloured, and bowed again.
‘That’s the boy, is it?’ said Mr.
Grimwig, at length.
‘That’s the boy,’ replied Mr. Brownlow.
‘How are you, boy?’ said Mr. Grimwig.
‘A great deal better, thank you, sir,’
Mr. Brownlow, seeming to apprehend
that his singular friend was about to say something
disagreeable, asked Oliver to step downstairs and tell
Mrs. Bedwin they were ready for tea; which, as he did
not half like the visitor’s manner, he was very
happy to do.
‘He is a nice-looking boy, is he not?’
inquired Mr. Brownlow.
‘I don’t know,’ replied Mr. Grimwig,
’No. I don’t know.
I never see any difference in boys. I only knew
two sort of boys. Mealy boys, and beef-faced
‘And which is Oliver?’
’Mealy. I know a friend
who has a beef-faced boy; a fine boy, they call him;
with a round head, and red cheeks, and glaring eyes;
a horrid boy; with a body and limbs that appear to
be swelling out of the seams of his blue clothes;
with the voice of a pilot, and the appetite of a wolf.
I know him! The wretch!’
‘Come,’ said Mr. Brownlow,
’these are not the characteristics of young
Oliver Twist; so he needn’t excite your wrath.’
‘They are not,’ replied
Mr. Grimwig. ‘He may have worse.’
Here, Mr. Brownlow coughed impatiently;
which appeared to afford Mr. Grimwig the most exquisite
‘He may have worse, I say,’
repeated Mr. Grimwig. ’Where does he come
from! Who is he? What is he? He has
had a fever. What of that? Fevers are not
peculiar to good people; are they? Bad people
have fevers sometimes; haven’t they, eh?
I knew a man who was hung in Jamaica for murdering
his master. He had had a fever six times; he
wasn’t recommended to mercy on that account.
Now, the fact was, that in the inmost
recesses of his own heart, Mr. Grimwig was strongly
disposed to admit that Oliver’s appearance and
manner were unusually prepossessing; but he had a strong
appetite for contradiction, sharpened on this occasion
by the finding of the orange-peel; and, inwardly determining
that no man should dictate to him whether a boy was
well-looking or not, he had resolved, from the first,
to oppose his friend. When Mr. Brownlow admitted
that on no one point of inquiry could he yet return
a satisfactory answer; and that he had postponed any
investigation into Oliver’s previous history
until he thought the boy was strong enough to hear
it; Mr. Grimwig chuckled maliciously. And he
demanded, with a sneer, whether the housekeeper was
in the habit of counting the plate at night; because
if she didn’t find a table-spoon or two missing
some sunshiny morning, why, he would be content to and
All this, Mr. Brownlow, although himself
somewhat of an impetuous gentleman: knowing
his friend’s peculiarities, bore with great good
humour; as Mr. Grimwig, at tea, was graciously pleased
to express his entire approval of the muffins, matters
went on very smoothly; and Oliver, who made one of
the party, began to feel more at his ease than he
had yet done in the fierce old gentleman’s presence.
’And when are you going to hear
a full, true, and particular account of the life and
adventures of Oliver Twist?’ asked Grimwig of
Mr. Brownlow, at the conclusion of the meal; looking
sideways at Oliver, as he resumed his subject.
‘To-morrow morning,’ replied
Mr. Brownlow. ’I would rather he was alone
with me at the time. Come up to me to-morrow
morning at ten o’clock, my dear.’
‘Yes, sir,’ replied Oliver.
He answered with some hesitation, because he was
confused by Mr. Grimwig’s looking so hard at
‘I’ll tell you what,’
whispered that gentleman to Mr. Brownlow; ’he
won’t come up to you to-morrow morning.
I saw him hesitate. He is deceiving you, my
‘I’ll swear he is not,’ replied
Mr. Brownlow, warmly.
‘If he is not,’ said Mr. Grimwig, ‘I’ll ’
and down went the stick.
‘I’ll answer for that
boy’s truth with my life!’ said Mr. Brownlow,
knocking the table.
‘And I for his falsehood with
my head!’ rejoined Mr. Grimwig, knocking the
‘We shall see,’ said Mr.
Brownlow, checking his rising anger.
‘We will,’ replied Mr.
Grimwig, with a provoking smile; ‘we will.’
As fate would have it, Mrs. Bedwin
chanced to bring in, at this moment, a small parcel
of books, which Mr. Brownlow had that morning purchased
of the identical bookstall-keeper, who has already
figured in this history; having laid them on the table,
she prepared to leave the room.
‘Stop the boy, Mrs. Bedwin!’
said Mr. Brownlow; ’there is something to go
‘He has gone, sir,’ replied Mrs. Bedwin.
‘Call after him,’ said
Mr. Brownlow; ’it’s particular. He
is a poor man, and they are not paid for. There
are some books to be taken back, too.’
The street-door was opened.
Oliver ran one way; and the girl ran another; and
Mrs. Bedwin stood on the step and screamed for the
boy; but there was no boy in sight. Oliver and
the girl returned, in a breathless state, to report
that there were no tidings of him.
‘Dear me, I am very sorry for
that,’ exclaimed Mr. Brownlow; ’I particularly
wished those books to be returned to-night.’
‘Send Oliver with them,’
said Mr. Grimwig, with an ironical smile; ’he
will be sure to deliver them safely, you know.’
‘Yes; do let me take them, if
you please, sir,’ said Oliver. ’I’ll
run all the way, sir.’
The old gentleman was just going to
say that Oliver should not go out on any account;
when a most malicious cough from Mr. Grimwig determined
him that he should; and that, by his prompt discharge
of the commission, he should prove to him the injustice
of his suspicions: on this head at least:
‘You shall go, my dear,’
said the old gentleman. ’The books are
on a chair by my table. Fetch them down.’
Oliver, delighted to be of use, brought
down the books under his arm in a great bustle; and
waited, cap in hand, to hear what message he was to
‘You are to say,’ said
Mr. Brownlow, glancing steadily at Grimwig; ’you
are to say that you have brought those books back;
and that you have come to pay the four pound ten I
owe him. This is a five-pound note, so you will
have to bring me back, ten shillings change.’
‘I won’t be ten minutes,
sir,’ said Oliver, eagerly. Having buttoned
up the bank-note in his jacket pocket, and placed the
books carefully under his arm, he made a respectful
bow, and left the room. Mrs. Bedwin followed
him to the street-door, giving him many directions
about the nearest way, and the name of the bookseller,
and the name of the street: all of which Oliver
said he clearly understood. Having superadded
many injunctions to be sure and not take cold, the
old lady at length permitted him to depart.
‘Bless his sweet face!’
said the old lady, looking after him. ’I
can’t bear, somehow, to let him go out of my
At this moment, Oliver looked gaily
round, and nodded before he turned the corner.
The old lady smilingly returned his salutation, and,
closing the door, went back to her own room.
‘Let me see; he’ll be
back in twenty minutes, at the longest,’ said
Mr. Brownlow, pulling out his watch, and placing it
on the table. ’It will be dark by that
‘Oh! you really expect him to
come back, do you?’ inquired Mr. Grimwig.
‘Don’t you?’ asked Mr. Brownlow,
The spirit of contradiction was strong
in Mr. Grimwig’s breast, at the moment; and
it was rendered stronger by his friend’s confident
‘No,’ he said, smiting
the table with his fist, ’I do not. The
boy has a new suit of clothes on his back, a set of
valuable books under his arm, and a five-pound note
in his pocket. He’ll join his old friends
the thieves, and laugh at you. If ever that boy
returns to this house, sir, I’ll eat my head.’
With these words he drew his chair
closer to the table; and there the two friends sat,
in silent expectation, with the watch between them.
It is worthy of remark, as illustrating
the importance we attach to our own judgments, and
the pride with which we put forth our most rash and
hasty conclusions, that, although Mr. Grimwig was not
by any means a bad-hearted man, and though he would
have been unfeignedly sorry to see his respected friend
duped and deceived, he really did most earnestly and
strongly hope at that moment, that Oliver Twist might
not come back.
It grew so dark, that the figures
on the dial-plate were scarcely discernible; but there
the two old gentlemen continued to sit, in silence,
with the watch between them.