WHEREIN THIS HISTORY REVERTS TO MR. FAGIN AND COMPANY
While these things were passing in
the country workhouse, Mr. Fagin sat in the old den the
same from which Oliver had been removed by the girl brooding
over a dull, smoky fire. He held a pair of bellows
upon his knee, with which he had apparently been endeavouring
to rouse it into more cheerful action; but he had
fallen into deep thought; and with his arms folded
on them, and his chin resting on his thumbs, fixed
his eyes, abstractedly, on the rusty bars.
At a table behind him sat the Artful
Dodger, Master Charles Bates, and Mr. Chitling:
all intent upon a game of whist; the Artful taking
dummy against Master Bates and Mr. Chitling.
The countenance of the first-named gentleman, peculiarly
intelligent at all times, acquired great additional
interest from his close observance of the game, and
his attentive perusal of Mr. Chitling’s hand;
upon which, from time to time, as occasion served,
he bestowed a variety of earnest glances: wisely
regulating his own play by the result of his observations
upon his neighbour’s cards. It being a
cold night, the Dodger wore his hat, as, indeed, was
often his custom within doors. He also sustained
a clay pipe between his teeth, which he only removed
for a brief space when he deemed it necessary to apply
for refreshment to a quart pot upon the table, which
stood ready filled with gin-and-water for the accommodation
of the company.
Master Bates was also attentive to
the play; but being of a more excitable nature than
his accomplished friend, it was observable that he
more frequently applied himself to the gin-and-water,
and moreover indulged in many jests and irrelevant
remarks, all highly unbecoming a scientific rubber.
Indeed, the Artful, presuming upon their close attachment,
more than once took occasion to reason gravely with
his companion upon these improprieties; all of which
remonstrances, Master Bates received in extremely
good part; merely requesting his friend to be ‘blowed,’
or to insert his head in a sack, or replying with some
other neatly-turned witticism of a similar kind, the
happy application of which, excited considerable admiration
in the mind of Mr. Chitling. It was remarkable
that the latter gentleman and his partner invariably
lost; and that the circumstance, so far from angering
Master Bates, appeared to afford him the highest amusement,
inasmuch as he laughed most uproariously at the end
of every deal, and protested that he had never seen
such a jolly game in all his born days.
‘That’s two doubles and
the rub,’ said Mr. Chitling, with a very long
face, as he drew half-a-crown from his waistcoat-pocket.
’I never see such a feller as you, Jack; you
win everything. Even when we’ve good cards,
Charley and I can’t make nothing of ’em.’
Either the master or the manner of
this remark, which was made very ruefully, delighted
Charley Bates so much, that his consequent shout of
laughter roused the Jew from his reverie, and induced
him to inquire what was the matter.
‘Matter, Fagin!’ cried
Charley. ’I wish you had watched the play.
Tommy Chitling hasn’t won a point; and I went
partners with him against the Artfull and dumb.’
‘Ay, ay!’ said the Jew,
with a grin, which sufficiently demonstrated that
he was at no loss to understand the reason. ’Try
’em again, Tom; try ’em again.’
’No more of it for me, thank
‘ee, Fagin,’ replied Mr. Chitling; ’I’ve
had enough. That ’ere Dodger has such a
run of luck that there’s no standing again’
‘Ha! ha! my dear,’ replied
the Jew, ’you must get up very early in the
morning, to win against the Dodger.’
‘Morning!’ said Charley
Bates; ’you must put your boots on over-night,
and have a telescope at each eye, and a opera-glass
between your shoulders, if you want to come over him.’
Mr. Dawkins received these handsome
compliments with much philosophy, and offered to cut
any gentleman in company, for the first picture-card,
at a shilling at a time. Nobody accepting the
challenge, and his pipe being by this time smoked
out, he proceeded to amuse himself by sketching a
ground-plan of Newgate on the table with the piece
of chalk which had served him in lieu of counters;
whistling, meantime, with peculiar shrillness.
‘How precious dull you are,
Tommy!’ said the Dodger, stopping short when
there had been a long silence; and addressing Mr. Chitling.
’What do you think he’s thinking of,
‘How should I know, my dear?’
replied the Jew, looking round as he plied the bellows.
’About his losses, maybe; or the little retirement
in the country that he’s just left, eh?
Ha! ha! Is that it, my dear?’
‘Not a bit of it,’ replied
the Dodger, stopping the subject of discourse as Mr.
Chitling was about to reply. ’What do you
‘I should say,’
replied Master Bates, with a grin, ’that he was
uncommon sweet upon Betsy. See how he’s
a-blushing! Oh, my eye! here’s a merry-go-rounder!
Tommy Chitling’s in love! Oh, Fagin,
Fagin! what a spree!’
Thoroughly overpowered with the notion
of Mr. Chitling being the victim of the tender passion,
Master Bates threw himself back in his chair with
such violence, that he lost his balance, and pitched
over upon the floor; where (the accident abating nothing
of his merriment) he lay at full length until his
laugh was over, when he resumed his former position,
and began another laugh.
‘Never mind him, my dear,’
said the Jew, winking at Mr. Dawkins, and giving Master
Bates a reproving tap with the nozzle of the bellows.
‘Betsy’s a fine girl. Stick up to
her, Tom. Stick up to her.’
‘What I mean to say, Fagin,’
replied Mr. Chitling, very red in the face, ‘is,
that that isn’t anything to anybody here.’
‘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; eh, Fagin?’
‘Ah, to be sure, my dear,’ replied the
‘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, Fagin?’
‘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 dear.’
‘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,
‘To be sure it would, my dear,’ replied
‘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
‘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
‘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
‘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
The Jew motioned to the Dodger to
place what eatables there were, upon the table; and,
seating himself opposite the housebreaker, waited his
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 Bill?’
‘What!’ screamed the Jew, starting from
‘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 house.