It was late next morning when Oliver awoke, from a sound, long sleep. Ther_as no other person in the room but the old Jew, who was boiling some coffe_n a saucepan for breakfast, and whistling softly to himself as he stirred i_ound and round, with an iron spoon. He would stop every now and then t_isten when there was the least noise below: and when he had satistifie_imself, he would go on whistling and stirring again, as before.
Although Oliver had roused himself from sleep, he was not thoroughly awake.
There is a drowsy state, between sleeping and waking, when you dream more i_ive minutes with your eyes half open, and yourself half conscious o_verything that is passing around you, than you would in five nights with you_yes fast closed, and your senses wrapt in perfect unconsciousness. At suc_ime, a mortal knows just enough of what his mind is doing, to form som_limmering conception of its mighty powers, its bounding from earth an_purning time and space, when freed from the restraint of its corporea_ssociate.
Oliver was precisely in this condition. He saw the Jew with his half-close_yes; heard his low whistling; and recognised the sound of the spoon gratin_gainst the saucepan's sides: and yet the self-same senses were mentall_ngaged, at the same time, in busy action with almost everybody he had eve_nown.
When the coffee was done, the Jew drew the saucepan to the hob. Standing, the_n an irresolute attitude for a few minutes, as if he did not well know how t_mploy himself, he turned round and looked at Oliver, and called him by hi_ame. He did not answer, and was to all appearances asleep.
After satisfying himself upon this head, the Jew stepped gently to the door: which he fastened. He then drew forth: as it seemed to Oliver, from some tra_n the floor: a small box, which he placed carefully on the table. His eye_listened as he raised the lid, and looked in. Dragging an old chair to th_able, he sat down; and took from it a magnificent gold watch, sparkling wit_ewels.
'Aha!' said the Jew, shrugging up his shoulders, and distorting every featur_ith a hideous grin. 'Clever dogs! Clever dogs! Staunch to the last! Neve_old the old parson where they were. Never poached upon old Fagin! And wh_hould they? It wouldn't have loosened the knot, or kept the drop up, a minut_onger. No, no, no! Fine fellows! Fine fellows!'
With these, and other muttered reflections of the like nature, the Jew onc_ore deposited the watch in its place of safety. At least half a dozen mor_ere severally drawn forth from the same box, and surveyed with equa_leasure; besides rings, brooches, bracelets, and other articles of jewellery, of such magnificent materials, and costly workmanship, that Oliver had n_dea, even of their names.
Having replaced these trinkets, the Jew took out another: so small that it la_n the palm of his hand. There seemed to be some very minute inscription o_t; for the Jew laid it flat upon the table, and shading it with his hand, pored over it, long and earnestly. At length he put it down, as if despairin_f success; and, leaning back in his chair, muttered:
'What a fine thing capital punishment is! Dead men never repent; dead me_ever bring awkward stories to light. Ah, it's a fine thing for the trade!
Five of 'em strung up in a row, and none left to play booty, or turn white- livered!'
As the Jew uttered these words, his bright dark eyes, which had been starin_acantly before him, fell on Oliver's face; the boy's eyes were fixed on hi_n mute curiousity; and although the recognition was only for an instant—fo_he briefest space of time that can possibly be conceived—it was enough t_how the old man that he had been observed.
He closed the lid of the box with a loud crash; and, laying his hand on _read knife which was on the table, started furiously up. He trembled ver_uch though; for, even in his terror, Oliver could see that the knife quivere_n the air.
'What's that?' said the Jew. 'What do you watch me for? Why are you awake?
What have you seen? Speak out, boy! Quick—quick! for your life.
'I wasn't able to sleep any longer, sir,' replied Oliver, meekly. 'I am ver_orry if I have disturbed you, sir.'
'You were not awake an hour ago?' said the Jew, scowling fiercely on the boy.
'No! No, indeed!' replied Oliver.
'Are you sure?' cried the Jew: with a still fiercer look than before: and _hreatening attitude.
'Upon my word I was not, sir,' replied Oliver, earnestly. 'I was not, indeed, sir.'
'Tush, tush, my dear!' said the Jew, abruptly resuming his old manner, an_laying with the knife a little, before he laid it down; as if to induce th_elief that he had caught it up, in mere sport. 'Of course I know that, m_ear. I only tried to frighten you. You're a brave boy. Ha! ha! you're a brav_oy, Oliver.' The Jew rubbed his hands with a chuckle, but glanced uneasily a_he box, notwithstanding.
'Did you see any of these pretty things, my dear?' said the Jew, laying hi_and upon it after a short pause.
'Yes, sir,' replied Oliver.
'Ah!' said the Jew, turning rather pale. 'They—they're mine, Oliver; my littl_roperty. All I have to live upon, in my old age. The folks call me a miser, my dear. Only a miser; that's all.'
Oliver thought the old gentleman must be a decided miser to live in such _irty place, with so many watches; but, thinking that perhaps his fondness fo_he Dodger and the other boys, cost him a good deal of money, he only cast _eferential look at the Jew, and asked if he might get up.
'Certainly, my dear, certainly,' replied the old gentleman. 'Stay. There's _itcher of water in the corner by the door. Bring it here; and I'll give you _asin to wash in, my dear.'
Oliver got up; walked across the room; and stooped for an instant to raise th_itcher. When he turned his head, the box was gone.
He had scarcely washed himself, and made everything tidy, by emptying th_asin out of the window, agreeably to the Jew's directions, when the Dodge_eturned: accompanied by a very sprightly young friend, whom Oliver had see_moking on the previous night, and who was now formally introduced to him a_harley Bates. The four sat down, to breakfast, on the coffee, and some ho_olls and ham which the Dodger had brought home in the crown of his hat.
'Well,' said the Jew, glancing slyly at Oliver, and addressing himself to th_odger, 'I hope you've been at work this morning, my dears?'
'Hard,' replied the Dodger.
'As nails,' added Charley Bates.
'Good boys, good boys!' said the Jew. 'What have you got, Dodger?'
'A couple of pocket-books,' replied that young gentlman.
'Lined?' inquired the Jew, with eagerness.
'Pretty well,' replied the Dodger, producing two pocket-books; one green, an_he other red.
'Not so heavy as they might be,' said the Jew, after looking at the inside_arefully; 'but very neat and nicely made. Ingenious workman, ain't he, Oliver?'
'Very indeed, sir,' said Oliver. At which Mr. Charles Bates laughe_proariously; very much to the amazement of Oliver, who saw nothing to laug_t, in anything that had passed.
'And what have you got, my dear?' said Fagin to Charley Bates.
'Wipes,' replied Master Bates; at the same time producing four pocket- handkerchiefs.
'Well,' said the Jew, inspecting them closely; 'they're very good ones, very.
You haven't marked them well, though, Charley; so the marks shall be picke_ut with a needle, and we'll teach Oliver how to do it. Shall us, Oliver, eh?
Ha! ha! ha!'
'If you please, sir,' said Oliver.
'You'd like to be able to make pocket-handkerchiefs as easy as Charley Bates, wouldn't you, my dear?' said the Jew.
'Very much, indeed, if you'll teach me, sir,' replied Oliver.
Master Bates saw something so exquisitely ludicrous in this reply, that h_urst into another laugh; which laugh, meeting the coffee he was drinking, an_arrying it down some wrong channel, very nearly terminated in his prematur_uffocation.
'He is so jolly green!' said Charley when he recovered, as an apology to th_ompany for his unpolite behaviour.
The Dodger said nothing, but he smoothed Oliver's hair over his eyes, and sai_e'd know better, by and by; upon which the old gentleman, observing Oliver'_olour mounting, changed the subject by asking whether there had been much o_ crowd at the execution that morning? This made him wonder more and more; fo_t was plain from the replies of the two boys that they had both been there; and Oliver naturally wondered how they could possibly have found time to be s_ery industrious.
When the breakfast was cleared away; the merry old gentlman and the two boy_layed at a very curious and uncommon game, which was performed in this way.
The merry old gentleman, placing a snuff-box in one pocket of his trousers, _ote-case in the other, and a watch in his waistcoat pocket, with a guard- chain round his neck, and sticking a mock diamond pin in his shirt: buttone_is coat tight round him, and putting his spectacle-case and handkerchief i_is pockets, trotted up and down the room with a stick, in imitation of th_anner in which old gentlemen walk about the streets any hour in the day.
Sometimes he stopped at the fire-place, and sometimes at the door, makin_elieve that he was staring with all his might into shop-windows. At suc_imes, he would look constantly round him, for fear of thieves, and would kee_lapping all his pockets in turn, to see that he hadn't lost anything, in suc_ very funny and natural manner, that Oliver laughed till the tears ran dow_is face. All this time, the two boys followed him closely about: getting ou_f his sight, so nimbly, every time he turned round, that it was impossible t_ollow their motions. At last, the Dodger trod upon his toes, or ran upon hi_oot accidently, while Charley Bates stumbled up against him behind; and i_hat one moment they took from him, with the most extraordinary rapidity, snuff-box, note-case, watch-guard, chain, shirt-pin, pocket-handkerchief, eve_he spectacle-case. If the old gentlman felt a hand in any one of his pockets, he cried out where it was; and then the game began all over again.
When this game had been played a great many times, a couple of young ladie_alled to see the young gentleman; one of whom was named Bet, and the othe_ancy. They wore a good deal of hair, not very neatly turned up behind, an_ere rather untidy about the shoes and stockings. They were not exactl_retty, perhaps; but they had a great deal of colour in their faces, an_ooked quite stout and hearty. Being remarkably free and agreeable in thei_anners, Oliver thought them very nice girls indeed. As there is no doubt the_ere.
The visitors stopped a long time. Spirits were produced, in consequence of on_f the young ladies complaining of a coldness in her inside; and th_onversation took a very convivial and improving turn. At length, Charle_ates expressed his opinion that it was time to pad the hoof. This, i_ccurred to Oliver, must be French for going out; for directly afterwards, th_odger, and Charley, and the two young ladies, went away together, having bee_indly furnished by the amiable old Jew with money to spend.
'There, my dear,' said Fagin. 'That's a pleasant life, isn't it? They hav_one out for the day.'
'Have they done work, sir?' inquired Oliver.
'Yes,' said the Jew; 'that is, unless they should unexpectedly come acros_ny, when they are out; and they won't neglect it, if they do, my dear, depen_pon it. Make 'em your models, my dear. Make 'em your models,' tapping th_ire-shovel on the hearth to add force to his words; 'do everything they bi_ou, and take their advice in all matters—especially the Dodger's, my dear.
He'll be a great man himself, and will make you one too, if you take patter_y him.—Is my handkerchief hanging out of my pocket, my dear?' said the Jew, stopping short.
'Yes, sir,' said Oliver.
'See if you can take it out, without my feeling it; as you saw them do, whe_e were at play this morning.'
Oliver held up the bottom of the pocket with one hand, as he had seen th_odger hold it, and drew the handkerchief lightly out of it with the other.
'Is it gone?' cried the Jew.
'Here it is, sir,' said Oliver, showing it in his hand.
'You're a clever boy, my dear,' said the playful old gentleman, patting Olive_n the head approvingly. 'I never saw a sharper lad. Here's a shilling fo_ou. If you go on, in this way, you'll be the greatest man of the time. An_ow come here, and I'll show you how to take the marks out of th_andkerchiefs.'
Oliver wondered what picking the old gentleman's pocket in play, had to d_ith his chances of being a great man. But, thinking that the Jew, being s_uch his senior, must know best, he followed him quietly to the table, and wa_oon deeply involved in his new study.