OLIVER BECOMES BETTER ACQUAINTED WITH THE CHARACTERS OF HIS NEW
ASSOCIATES; AND PURCHASES EXPERIENCE AT A HIGH PRICE. BEING A
SHORT, BUT VERY IMPORTANT CHAPTER, IN THIS HISTORY
For many days, Oliver remained in the Jew’s room, picking the
Marks out of the pocket-handkerchief, (of which a great number
Were brought home,) and sometimes taking part in the game already
Described: which the two boys and the Jew played, regularly,
Every morning. At length, he began to languish for fresh air, and
Took many occasions of earnestly entreating the old gentleman to
Allow him to go out to work with his two companions.
Oliver was rendered the more anxious to be actively employed, by
What he had seen of the stern morality of the old gentleman’s
Character. Whenever the Dodger or Charley Bates came home at
Night, empty-handed, he would expatiate with great vehemence on
The misery of idle
and lazy habits; and would enforce upon them
The necessity of an active life, by sending them supperless to
Bed. On one occasion, indeed, he even went so far as to knock
Them both down a flight of stairs; but this was carrying out his
Virtuous precepts to an unusual extent.
At length, one morning, Oliver obtained the permission he had so
Eagerly sought. There had been no handkerchiefs to work upon,
For two or three days, and the dinners had been rather meagre.
Perhaps these were reasons for the old gentleman’s giving his
Assent; but, whether they were or no, he told Oliver he might go,
And placed him under the joint guardianship of Charley Bates, and
His friend the Dodger.
The three boys sallied out; the Dodger with his coat-sleeves
Tucked up, and his hat cocked, as usual; Master Bates sauntering
Along with his hands in his pockets; and Oliver between them,
Wondering where they were going, and what branch of manufacture
He would be instructed in, first.
The pace at which they went, was such a very lazy, ill-looking
Saunter, that Oliver soon began to think his companions were
Going to deceive the old gentleman, by not going to work at all.
The Dodger had a vicious propensity, too, of pulling the caps
From the heads of small boys and tossing them down areas; while
Charley Bates exhibited some very loose notions concerning the
Rights of property, by pilfering divers apples and onions from
The stalls at the kennel sides, and thrusting them into pockets
Which were so surprisingly capacious, that they seemed to
Undermine his whole suit of clothes in every direction. These
Things looked so bad, that Oliver was on the point of declaring
His intention of seeking his way back, in the best way he could;
When his thoughts were suddenly directed into another channel, by
A very mysterious change of behaviour on the part of the Dodger.
They were just emerging from a narrow court not far from the open
Square in Clerkenwell, which is yet called, by some strange
Perversion of terms, ‘The Green’: when the Dodger made a sudden
Stop; and, laying his finger on his lip, drew his companions back
Again, with the greatest caution and circumspection.
‘What’s the matter?’ demanded Oliver.
‘Hush!’ replied the Dodger. ‘Do you see that old cove at the
‘The old gentleman over the way?’ said Oliver. ‘Yes, I see him.’
‘He’ll do,’ said the Doger.
‘A prime plant,’ observed Master Charley Bates.
Oliver looked from one to the other, with the greatest surprise;
But he was not permitted to make any inquiries; for the two boys
Walked stealthily across the road, and slunk close behind the old