NOAH CLAYPOLE IS EMPLOYED BY FAGIN ON A SECRET MISSION
The old man was up, betimes, next
morning, and waited impatiently for the appearance
of his new associate, who after a delay that seemed
interminable, at length presented himself, and commenced
a voracious assault on the breakfast.
‘Bolter,’ said Fagin,
drawing up a chair and seating himself opposite Morris
‘Well, here I am,’ returned
Noah. ’What’s the matter? Don’t
yer ask me to do anything till I have done eating.
That’s a great fault in this place. Yer
never get time enough over yer meals.’
‘You can talk as you eat, can’t
you?’ said Fagin, cursing his dear young friend’s
greediness from the very bottom of his heart.
‘Oh yes, I can talk. I
get on better when I talk,’ said Noah, cutting
a monstrous slice of bread. ‘Where’s
‘Out,’ said Fagin.
’I sent her out this morning with the other
young woman, because I wanted us to be alone.’
‘Oh!’ said Noah.
’I wish yer’d ordered her to make some
buttered toast first. Well. Talk away.
Yer won’t interrupt me.’
There seemed, indeed, no great fear
of anything interrupting him, as he had evidently
sat down with a determination to do a great deal of
‘You did well yesterday, my
dear,’ said Fagin. ’Beautiful!
Six shillings and ninepence halfpenny on the very
first day! The kinchin lay will be a fortune
‘Don’t you forget to add
three pint-pots and a milk-can,’ said Mr. Bolter.
’No, no, my dear. The
pint-pots were great strokes of genius: but the
milk-can was a perfect masterpiece.’
‘Pretty well, I think, for a
beginner,’ remarked Mr. Bolter complacently.
’The pots I took off airy railings, and the
milk-can was standing by itself outside a public-house.
I thought it might get rusty with the rain, or catch
cold, yer know. Eh? Ha! ha! ha!’
Fagin affected to laugh very heartily;
and Mr. Bolter having had his laugh out, took a series
of large bites, which finished his first hunk of bread
and butter, and assisted himself to a second.
‘I want you, Bolter,’
said Fagin, leaning over the table, ’to do a
piece of work for me, my dear, that needs great care
‘I say,’ rejoined Bolter,
’don’t yer go shoving me into danger, or
sending me any more o’ yer police-offices.
That don’t suit me, that don’t; and so
I tell yer.’
‘That’s not the smallest
danger in it not the very smallest,’
said the Jew; ‘it’s only to dodge a woman.’
‘An old woman?’ demanded Mr. Bolter.
‘A young one,’ replied Fagin.
‘I can do that pretty well,
I know,’ said Bolter. ’I was a regular
cunning sneak when I was at school. What am I
to dodge her for? Not to ’
’Not to do anything, but to
tell me where she goes, who she sees, and, if possible,
what she says; to remember the street, if it is a street,
or the house, if it is a house; and to bring me back
all the information you can.’
‘What’ll yer give me?’
asked Noah, setting down his cup, and looking his
employer, eagerly, in the face.
‘If you do it well, a pound,
my dear. One pound,’ said Fagin, wishing
to interest him in the scent as much as possible.
’And that’s what I never gave yet, for
any job of work where there wasn’t valuable
consideration to be gained.’
‘Who is she?’ inquired Noah.
‘One of us.’
‘Oh Lor!’ cried Noah,
curling up his nose. ’Yer doubtful of her,
’She has found out some new
friends, my dear, and I must know who they are,’
‘I see,’ said Noah.
’Just to have the pleasure of knowing them,
if they’re respectable people, eh? Ha!
ha! ha! I’m your man.’
‘I knew you would be,’
cried Fagin, elated by the success of his proposal.
‘Of course, of course,’
replied Noah. ’Where is she? Where
am I to wait for her? Where am I to go?’
’All that, my dear, you shall
hear from me. I’ll point her out at the
proper time,’ said Fagin. ‘You keep
ready, and leave the rest to me.’
That night, and the next, and the
next again, the spy sat booted and equipped in his
carter’s dress: ready to turn out at a
word from Fagin. Six nights passed six
long weary nights and on each, Fagin came
home with a disappointed face, and briefly intimated
that it was not yet time. On the seventh, he
returned earlier, and with an exultation he could
not conceal. It was Sunday.
‘She goes abroad to-night,’
said Fagin, ’and on the right errand, I’m
sure; for she has been alone all day, and the man she
is afraid of will not be back much before daybreak.
Come with me. Quick!’
Noah started up without saying a word;
for the Jew was in a state of such intense excitement
that it infected him. They left the house stealthily,
and hurrying through a labyrinth of streets, arrived
at length before a public-house, which Noah recognised
as the same in which he had slept, on the night of
his arrival in London.
It was past eleven o’clock,
and the door was closed. It opened softly on
its hinges as Fagin gave a low whistle. They entered,
without noise; and the door was closed behind them.
Scarcely venturing to whisper, but
substituting dumb show for words, Fagin, and the young
Jew who had admitted them, pointed out the pane of
glass to Noah, and signed to him to climb up and observe
the person in the adjoining room.
‘Is that the woman?’ he asked, scarcely
above his breath.
Fagin nodded yes.
‘I can’t see her face
well,’ whispered Noah. ’She is looking
down, and the candle is behind her.
‘Stay there,’ whispered
Fagin. He signed to Barney, who withdrew.
In an instant, the lad entered the room adjoining,
and, under pretence of snuffing the candle, moved
it in the required position, and, speaking to the
girl, caused her to raise her face.
‘I see her now,’ cried the spy.
‘I should know her among a thousand.’
He hastily descended, as the room-door
opened, and the girl came out. Fagin drew him
behind a small partition which was curtained off, and
they held their breaths as she passed within a few
feet of their place of concealment, and emerged by
the door at which they had entered.
‘Hist!’ cried the lad who held the door.
Noah exchanged a look with Fagin, and darted out.
‘To the left,’ whispered
the lad; ’take the left had, and keep öd
the other side.’
He did so; and, by the light of the
lamps, saw the girl’s retreating figure, already
at some distance before him. He advanced as near
as he considered prudent, and kept on the opposite
side of the street, the better to observe her motions.
She looked nervously round, twice or thrice, and once
stopped to let two men who were following close behind
her, pass on. She seemed to gather courage as
she advanced, and to walk with a steadier and firmer
step. The spy preserved the same relative distance
between them, and followed: with his eye upon