The old man was up, betimes, next morning, and waited impatiently for th_ppearance of his new associate, who after a delay that seemed interminable, at length presented himself, and commenced a voracious assault on th_reakfast.
'Bolter,' said Fagin, drawing up a chair and seating himself opposite Morri_olter.
'Well, here I am,' returned Noah. 'What's the matter? Don't yer ask me to d_nything till I have done eating. That's a great fault in this place. Ye_ever get time enough over yer meals.'
'You can talk as you eat, can't you?' said Fagin, cursing his dear youn_riend's greediness from the very bottom of his heart.
'Oh yes, I can talk. I get on better when I talk,' said Noah, cutting _onstrous 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 ha_vidently sat down with a determination to do a great deal of business.
'You did well yesterday, my dear,' said Fagin. 'Beautiful! Six shillings an_inepence halfpenny on the very first day! The kinchin lay will be a fortun_o 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-ca_as a perfect masterpiece.'
'Pretty well, I think, for a beginner,' remarked Mr. Bolter complacently. 'Th_ots I took off airy railings, and the milk-can was standing by itself outsid_ public-house. I thought it might get rusty with the rain, or catch cold, ye_now. Eh? Ha! ha! ha!'
Fagin affected to laugh very heartily; and Mr. Bolter having had his laug_ut, took a series of large bites, which finished his first hunk of bread an_utter, and assisted himself to a second.
'I want you, Bolter,' said Fagin, leaning over the table, 'to do a piece o_ork for me, my dear, that needs great care and caution.'
'I say,' rejoined Bolter, 'don't yer go shoving me into danger, or sending m_ny more o' yer police-offices. That don't suit me, that don't; and so I tel_er.'
'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 cunnin_neak 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, i_ossible, what she says; to remember the street, if it is a street, or th_ouse, 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 hi_mployer, eagerly, in the face.
'If you do it well, a pound, my dear. One pound,' said Fagin, wishing t_nterest him in the scent as much as possible. 'And that's what I never gav_et, for any job of work where there wasn't valuable consideration to b_ained.'
'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,'
'I see,' said Noah. 'Just to have the pleasure of knowing them, if they'r_espectable 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 fo_er? Where am I to go?'
'All that, my dear, you shall hear from me. I'll point her out at the prope_ime,' 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 equippe_n his carter's dress: ready to turn out at a word from Fagin. Six night_assed—six long weary nights—and on each, Fagin came home with a disappointe_ace, and briefly intimated that it was not yet time. On the seventh, h_eturned 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 bac_uch before daybreak. Come with me. Quick!'
Noah started up without saying a word; for the Jew was in a state of suc_ntense excitement that it infected him. They left the house stealthily, an_urrying 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 nigh_f his arrival in London.
It was past eleven o'clock, and the door was closed. It opened softly on it_inges as Fagin gave a low whistle. They entered, without noise; and the doo_as 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 t_oah, and signed to him to climb up and observe the person in the adjoinin_oom.
'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 th_andle is behind her.
'Stay there,' whispered Fagin. He signed to Barney, who withdrew. In a_nstant, the lad entered the room adjoining, and, under pretence of snuffin_he 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. Fagi_rew him behind a small partition which was curtained off, and they held thei_reaths as she passed within a few feet of their place of concealment, an_merged by the door at which they had entered.
'Hist!' cried the lad who held the door. 'Dow.'
Noah exchanged a look with Fagin, and darted out.
'To the left,' whispered the lad; 'take the left had, and keep od the othe_ide.'
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 considere_rudent, and kept on the opposite side of the street, the better to observ_er motions. She looked nervously round, twice or thrice, and once stopped t_et two men who were following close behind her, pass on. She seemed to gathe_ourage as she advanced, and to walk with a steadier and firmer step. The sp_reserved the same relative distance between them, and followed: with his ey_pon her.