Oliver Twist 111


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‚Oh yes, I can talk. I get on better when I talk,‘ said Noah, cutting a monstrous slice of bread. ‚Where’s Charlotte?‘

‚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 business.

‚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 to you.‘

‚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 and caution.‘

‚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, are yer?‘

‚She has found out some new friends, my dear, and I must know who they are,‘ replied Fagin.

‚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.


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