'And so it was you that was your own friend, was it?' asked Mr. Claypole, otherwise Bolter, when, by virtue of the compact entered into between them, h_ad removed next day to Fagin's house. Cod, I thought as much last night!'
'Every man's his own friend, my dear,' replied Fagin, with his mos_nsinuating grin. 'He hasn't as good a one as himself anywhere.'
'Except sometimes,' replied Morris Bolter, assuming the air of a man of th_orld. 'Some people are nobody's enemies but their own, yer know.'
'Don't believe that,' said Fagin. 'When a man's his own enemy, it's onl_ecause he's too much his own friend; not because he's careful for everybod_ut himself. Pooh! pooh! There ain't such a thing in nature.'
'There oughn't to be, if there is,' replied Mr. Bolter.
'That stands to reason. Some conjurers say that number three is the magi_umber, and some say number seven. It's neither, my friend, neither. It'_umber one.
'Ha! ha!' cried Mr. Bolter. 'Number one for ever.'
'In a little community like ours, my dear,' said Fagin, who felt it necessar_o qualify this position, 'we have a general number one, without considerin_e too as the same, and all the other young people.'
'Oh, the devil!' exclaimed Mr. Bolter.
'You see,' pursued Fagin, affecting to disregard this interruption, 'we are s_ixed up together, and identified in our interests, that it must be so. Fo_nstance, it's your object to take care of number one—meaning yourself.'
'Certainly,' replied Mr. Bolter. 'Yer about right there.'
'Well! You can't take care of yourself, number one, without taking care of me, number one.'
'Number two, you mean,' said Mr. Bolter, who was largely endowed with th_uality of selfishness.
'No, I don't!' retorted Fagin. 'I'm of the same importance to you, as you ar_o yourself.'
'I say,' interrupted Mr. Bolter, 'yer a very nice man, and I'm very fond o_er; but we ain't quite so thick together, as all that comes to.'
'Only think,' said Fagin, shrugging his shoulders, and stretching out hi_ands; 'only consider. You've done what's a very pretty thing, and what I lov_ou for doing; but what at the same time would put the cravat round you_hroat, that's so very easily tied and so very difficult to unloose—in plai_nglish, the halter!'
Mr. Bolter put his hand to his neckerchief, as if he felt it inconvenientl_ight; and murmured an assent, qualified in tone but not in substance.
'The gallows,' continued Fagin, 'the gallows, my dear, is an ugly finger-post, which points out a very short and sharp turning that has stopped many a bol_ellow's career on the broad highway. To keep in the easy road, and keep it a_ distance, is object number one with you.'
'Of course it is,' replied Mr. Bolter. 'What do yer talk about such thing_or?'
'Only to show you my meaning clearly,' said the Jew, raising his eyebrows. 'T_e able to do that, you depend upon me. To keep my little business all snug, _epend upon you. The first is your number one, the second my number one. Th_ore you value your number one, the more careful you must be of mine; so w_ome at last to what I told you at first—that a regard for number one holds u_ll together, and must do so, unless we would all go to pieces in company.'
'That's true,' rejoined Mr. Bolter, thoughtfully. 'Oh! yer a cunning ol_odger!'
Mr. Fagin saw, with delight, that this tribute to his powers was no mer_ompliment, but that he had really impressed his recruit with a sense of hi_ily genius, which it was most important that he should entertain in th_utset of their acquaintance. To strengthen an impression so desirable an_seful, he followed up the blow by acquainting him, in some detail, with th_agnitude and extent of his operations; blending truth and fiction together, as best served his purpose; and bringing both to bear, with so much art, tha_r. Bolter's respect visibly increased, and became tempered, at the same time, with a degree of wholesome fear, which it was highly desirable to awaken.
'It's this mutual trust we have in each other that consoles me under heav_osses,' said Fagin. 'My best hand was taken from me, yesterday morning.'
'You don't mean to say he died?' cried Mr. Bolter.
'No, no,' replied Fagin, 'not so bad as that. Not quite so bad.'
'What, I suppose he was—'
'Wanted,' interposed Fagin. 'Yes, he was wanted.'
'Very particular?' inquired Mr. Bolter.
'No,' replied Fagin, 'not very. He was charged with attempting to pick _ocket, and they found a silver snuff-box on him,—his own, my dear, his own, for he took snuff himself, and was very fond of it. They remanded him till to- day, for they thought they knew the owner. Ah! he was worth fifty boxes, an_'d give the price of as many to have him back. You should have known th_odger, my dear; you should have known the Dodger.'
'Well, but I shall know him, I hope; don't yer think so?' said Mr. Bolter.
'I'm doubtful about it,' replied Fagin, with a sigh. 'If they don't get an_resh evidence, it'll only be a summary conviction, and we shall have him bac_gain after six weeks or so; but, if they do, it's a case of lagging. The_now what a clever lad he is; he'll be a lifer. They'll make the Artfu_othing less than a lifer.'
'What do you mean by lagging and a lifer?' demanded Mr. Bolter. 'What's th_ood of talking in that way to me; why don't yer speak so as I can understan_er?'
Fagin was about to translate these mysterious expressions into the vulga_ongue; and, being interpreted, Mr. Bolter would have been informed that the_epresented that combination of words, 'transportation for life,' when th_ialogue was cut short by the entry of Master Bates, with his hands in hi_reeches-pockets, and his face twisted into a look of semi-comical woe.
'It's all up, Fagin,' said Charley, when he and his new companion had bee_ade known to each other.
'What do you mean?'
'They've found the gentleman as owns the box; two or three more's a coming to
'dentify him; and the Artful's booked for a passage out,' replied Maste_ates. 'I must have a full suit of mourning, Fagin, and a hatband, to wisi_im in, afore he sets out upon his travels. To think of Jack Dawkins—lumm_ack—the Dodger—the Artful Dodger—going abroad for a common twopenny-halfpenn_neeze-box! I never thought he'd a done it under a gold watch, chain, an_eals, at the lowest. Oh, why didn't he rob some rich old gentleman of all hi_alables, and go out as a gentleman, and not like a common prig, without n_onour nor glory!'
With this expression of feeling for his unfortunate friend, Master Bates sa_imself on the nearest chair with an aspect of chagrin and despondency.
'What do you talk about his having neither honour nor glory for!' exclaime_agin, darting an angry look at his pupil. 'Wasn't he always the top-sawye_mong you all! Is there one of you that could touch him or come near him o_ny scent! Eh?'
'Not one,' replied Master Bates, in a voice rendered husky by regret; 'no_ne.'
'Then what do you talk of?' replied Fagin angrily; 'what are you blubberin_or?'
Cause it isn't on the rec-ord, is it?' said Charley, chafed into perfec_efiance of his venerable friend by the current of his regrets; cause it can'_ome out in the 'dictment; 'cause nobody will never know half of what he was.
How will he stand in the Newgate Calendar? P'raps not be there at all. Oh, m_ye, my eye, wot a blow it is!'
'Ha! ha!' cried Fagin, extending his right hand, and turning to Mr. Bolter i_ fit of chuckling which shook him as though he had the palsy; 'see what _ride they take in their profession, my dear. Ain't it beautiful?'
Mr. Bolter nodded assent, and Fagin, after contemplating the grief of Charle_ates for some seconds with evident satisfaction, stepped up to that youn_entleman and patted him on the shoulder.
'Never mind, Charley,' said Fagin soothingly; 'it'll come out, it'll be sur_o come out. They'll all know what a clever fellow he was; he'll show i_imself, and not disgrace his old pals and teachers. Think how young he i_oo! What a distinction, Charley, to be lagged at his time of life!'
'Well, it is a honour that is!' said Charley, a little consoled.
'He shall have all he wants,' continued the Jew. 'He shall be kept in th_tone Jug, Charley, like a gentleman. Like a gentleman! With his beer ever_ay, and money in his pocket to pitch and toss with, if he can't spend it.'
'No, shall he though?' cried Charley Bates.
'Ay, that he shall,' replied Fagin, 'and we'll have a big-wig, Charley: on_hat's got the greatest gift of the gab: to carry on his defence; and he shal_ake a speech for himself too, if he likes; and we'll read it all in th_apers—"Artful Dodger—shrieks of laughter—here the court was convulsed"—eh, Charley, eh?'
'Ha! ha!' laughed Master Bates, 'what a lark that would be, wouldn't it, Fagin? I say, how the Artful would bother 'em wouldn't he?'
'Would!' cried Fagin. 'He shall—he will!'
'Ah, to be sure, so he will,' repeated Charley, rubbing his hands.
'I think I see him now,' cried the Jew, bending his eyes upon his pupil.
'So do I,' cried Charley Bates. 'Ha! ha! ha! so do I. I see it all afore me, upon my soul I do, Fagin. What a game! What a regular game! All the big-wig_rying to look solemn, and Jack Dawkins addressing of 'em as intimate an_omfortable as if he was the judge's own son making a speech arter dinner—ha!
In fact, Mr. Fagin had so well humoured his young friend's eccentri_isposition, that Master Bates, who had at first been disposed to consider th_mprisoned Dodger rather in the light of a victim, now looked upon him as th_hief actor in a scene of most uncommon and exquisite humour, and felt quit_mpatient for the arrival of the time when his old companion should have s_avourable an opportunity of displaying his abilities.
'We must know how he gets on to-day, by some handy means or other,' sai_agin. 'Let me think.'
'Shall I go?' asked Charley.
'Not for the world,' replied Fagin. 'Are you mad, my dear, stark mad, tha_ou'd walk into the very place where—No, Charley, no. One is enough to lose a_ time.'
'You don't mean to go yourself, I suppose?' said Charley with a humorous leer.
'That wouldn't quite fit,' replied Fagin shaking his head.
'Then why don't you send this new cove?' asked Master Bates, laying his han_n Noah's arm. 'Nobody knows him.'
'Why, if he didn't mind—' observed Fagin.
'Mind!' interposed Charley. 'What should he have to mind?'
'Really nothing, my dear,' said Fagin, turning to Mr. Bolter, 'reall_othing.'
'Oh, I dare say about that, yer know,' observed Noah, backing towards th_oor, and shaking his head with a kind of sober alarm. 'No, no—none of that.
It's not in my department, that ain't.'
'Wot department has he got, Fagin?' inquired Master Bates, surveying Noah'_ank form with much disgust. 'The cutting away when there's anything wrong, and the eating all the wittles when there's everything right; is that hi_ranch?'
'Never mind,' retorted Mr. Bolter; 'and don't yer take liberties with ye_uperiors, little boy, or yer'll find yerself in the wrong shop.'
Master Bates laughed so vehemently at this magnificent threat, that it wa_ome time before Fagin could interpose, and represent to Mr. Bolter that h_ncurred no possible danger in visiting the police-office; that, inasmuch a_o account of the little affair in which he had engaged, nor any descriptio_f his person, had yet been forwarded to the metropolis, it was very probabl_hat he was not even suspected of having resorted to it for shelter; and that, if he were properly disguised, it would be as safe a spot for him to visit a_ny in London, inasmuch as it would be, of all places, the very last, to whic_e could be supposed likely to resort of his own free will.
Persuaded, in part, by these representations, but overborne in a much greate_egree by his fear of Fagin, Mr. Bolter at length consented, with a very ba_race, to undertake the expedition. By Fagin's directions, he immediatel_ubstituted for his own attire, a waggoner's frock, velveteen breeches, an_eather leggings: all of which articles the Jew had at hand. He was likewis_urnished with a felt hat well garnished with turnpike tickets; and a carter'_hip. Thus equipped, he was to saunter into the office, as some country fello_rom Covent Garden market might be supposed to do for the gratification of hi_uriousity; and as he was as awkward, ungainly, and raw-boned a fellow as nee_e, Mr. Fagin had no fear but that he would look the part to perfection.
These arrangements completed, he was informed of the necessary signs an_okens by which to recognise the Artful Dodger, and was conveyed by Maste_ates through dark and winding ways to within a very short distance of Bo_treet. Having described the precise situation of the office, and accompanie_t with copious directions how he was to walk straight up the passage, an_hen he got into the side, and pull off his hat as he went into the room, Charley Bates bade him hurry on alone, and promised to bide his return on th_pot of their parting.
Noah Claypole, or Morris Bolter as the reader pleases, punctually followed th_irections he had received, which—Master Bates being pretty well acquainte_ith the locality—were so exact that he was enabled to gain the magisteria_resence without asking any question, or meeting with any interruption by th_ay.
He found himself jostled among a crowd of people, chiefly women, who wer_uddled together in a dirty frowsy room, at the upper end of which was _aised platform railed off from the rest, with a dock for the prisoners on th_eft hand against the wall, a box for the witnesses in the middle, and a des_or the magistrates on the right; the awful locality last named, bein_creened off by a partition which concealed the bench from the common gaze, and left the vulgar to imagine (if they could) the full majesty of justice.
There were only a couple of women in the dock, who were nodding to thei_dmiring friends, while the clerk read some depositions to a couple o_olicemen and a man in plain clothes who leant over the table. A jailer stoo_eclining against the dock-rail, tapping his nose listlessly with a large key, except when he repressed an undue tendency to conversation among the idlers, by proclaiming silence; or looked sternly up to bid some woman 'Take that bab_ut,' when the gravity of justice was disturbed by feeble cries, half- smothered in the mother's shawl, from some meagre infant. The room smelt clos_nd unwholesome; the walls were dirt-discoloured; and the ceiling blackened.
There was an old smoky bust over the mantel-shelf, and a dusty clock above th_ock—the only thing present, that seemed to go on as it ought; for depravity, or poverty, or an habitual acquaintance with both, had left a taint on all th_nimate matter, hardly less unpleasant than the thick greasy scum on ever_namimate object that frowned upon it.
Noah looked eagerly about him for the Dodger; but although there were severa_omen who would have done very well for that distinguished character's mothe_r sister, and more than one man who might be supposed to bear a stron_esemblance to his father, nobody at all answering the description given hi_f Mr. Dawkins was to be seen. He waited in a state of much suspense an_ncertainty until the women, being committed for trial, went flaunting out; and then was quickly relieved by the appearance of another prisoner who h_elt at once could be no other than the object of his visit.
It was indeed Mr. Dawkins, who, shuffling into the office with the big coa_leeves tucked up as usual, his left hand in his pocket, and his hat in hi_ight hand, preceded the jailer, with a rolling gait altogether indescribable, and, taking his place in the dock, requested in an audible voice to know wha_e was placed in that 'ere disgraceful sitivation for.
'Hold your tongue, will you?' said the jailer.
'I'm an Englishman, ain't I?' rejoined the Dodger. 'Where are my priwileges?'
'You'll get your privileges soon enough,' retorted the jailer, 'and peppe_ith 'em.'
'We'll see wot the Secretary of State for the Home Affairs has got to say t_he beaks, if I don't,' replied Mr. Dawkins. 'Now then! Wot is this her_usiness? I shall thank the madg'strates to dispose of this here littl_ffair, and not to keep me while they read the paper, for I've got a_ppointment with a genelman in the City, and as I am a man of my word and wer_unctual in business matters, he'll go away if I ain't there to my time, an_hen pr'aps ther won't be an action for damage against them as kep me away. O_o, certainly not!'
At this point, the Dodger, with a show of being very particular with a view t_roceedings to be had thereafter, desired the jailer to communicate 'the name_f them two files as was on the bench.' Which so tickled the spectators, tha_hey laughed almost as heartily as Master Bates could have done if he ha_eard the request.
'Silence there!' cried the jailer.
'What is this?' inquired one of the magistrates.
'A pick-pocketing case, your worship.'
'Has the boy ever been here before?'
'He ought to have been, a many times,' replied the jailer. 'He has been prett_ell everywhere else. _I_ know him well, your worship.'
'Oh! you know me, do you?' cried the Artful, making a note of the statement.
'Wery good. That's a case of deformation of character, any way.'
Here there was another laugh, and another cry of silence.
'Now then, where are the witnesses?' said the clerk.
'Ah! that's right,' added the Dodger. 'Where are they? I should like to see
This wish was immediately gratified, for a policeman stepped forward who ha_een the prisoner attempt the pocket of an unknown gentleman in a crowd, an_ndeed take a handkerchief therefrom, which, being a very old one, h_eliberately put back again, after trying it on his own countenance. For thi_eason, he took the Dodger into custody as soon as he could get near him, an_he said Dodger, being searched, had upon his person a silver snuff-box, wit_he owner's name engraved upon the lid. This gentleman had been discovered o_eference to the Court Guide, and being then and there present, swore that th_nuff-box was his, and that he had missed it on the previous day, the momen_e had disengaged himself from the crowd before referred to. He had als_emarked a young gentleman in the throng, particularly active in making hi_ay about, and that young gentleman was the prisoner before him.
'Have you anything to ask this witness, boy?' said the magistrate.
'I wouldn't abase myself by descending to hold no conversation with him,'
replied the Dodger.
'Have you anything to say at all?'
'Do you hear his worship ask if you've anything to say?' inquired the jailer, nudging the silent Dodger with his elbow.
'I beg your pardon,' said the Dodger, looking up with an air of abstraction.
'Did you redress yourself to me, my man?'
'I never see such an out-and-out young wagabond, your worship,' observed th_fficer with a grin. 'Do you mean to say anything, you young shaver?'
'No,' replied the Dodger, 'not here, for this ain't the shop for justice: besides which, my attorney is a-breakfasting this morning with the Wic_resident of the House of Commons; but I shall have something to sa_lsewhere, and so will he, and so will a wery numerous and 'spectable circl_f acquaintance as'll make them beaks wish they'd never been born, or tha_hey'd got their footmen to hang 'em up to their own hat-pegs, afore they let
'em come out this morning to try it on upon me. I'll—'
'There! He's fully committed!' interposed the clerk. 'Take him away.'
'Come on,' said the jailer.
'Oh ah! I'll come on,' replied the Dodger, brushing his hat with the palm o_is hand. 'Ah! (to the Bench) it's no use your looking frightened; I won'_how you no mercy, not a ha'porth of it. _You'll_ pay for this, my fin_ellers. I wouldn't be you for something! I wouldn't go free, now, if you wa_o fall down on your knees and ask me. Here, carry me off to prison! Take m_way!'
With these last words, the Dodger suffered himself to be led off by th_ollar; threatening, till he got into the yard, to make a parliamentar_usiness of it; and then grinning in the officer's face, with great glee an_elf-approval.
Having seen him locked up by himself in a little cell, Noah made the best o_is way back to where he had left Master Bates. After waiting here some time, he was joined by that young gentleman, who had prudently abstained fro_howing himself until he had looked carefully abroad from a snug retreat, an_scertained that his new friend had not been followed by any impertinen_erson.
The two hastened back together, to bear to Mr. Fagin the animating news tha_he Dodger was doing full justice to his bringing-up, and establishing fo_imself a glorious reputation.