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While these things were passing in the country workhouse, Mr. Fagin sat in the old den--the same from which Oliver had been removed by the girl--brooding over a dull, smoky fire.

He held a pair of bellows upon his knee, with which he had apparently been endeavouring to rouse it into more cheerful action; but he had fallen into deep thought; and with his arms folded on them, and his chin resting on his thumbs, fixed his eyes, abstractedly, on the rusty bars. At a table behind him sat the Artful Dodger, Master Charles Bates, and Mr. Chitling: all intent upon a game of whist; the Artful taking dummy against Master Bates and Mr. Chitling.

The countenance of the first-named gentleman, peculiarly intelligent at all times, acquired great additional interest from his close observance of the game, and his attentive perusal of Mr. Chitling's hand; upon which, from time to time, as occasion served, he bestowed a variety of earnest glances: wisely regulating his own play by the result of his observations upon his neighbour's cards.

It being a cold night, the Dodger wore his hat, as, indeed, was often his custom within doors.

He also sustained a clay pipe between his teeth, which he only removed for a brief space when he deemed it necessary to apply for refreshment to a quart pot upon the table, which stood ready filled with gin-and-water for the accommodation of the company. Master Bates was also attentive to the play; but being of a more excitable nature than his accomplished friend, it was observable that he more frequently applied himself to the gin-and-water, and moreover indulged in many jests and irrelevant remarks, all highly unbecoming a scientific rubber.

Indeed, the Artful, presuming upon their close attachment, more than once took occasion to reason gravely with his companion upon these improprieties; all of which remonstrances, Master Bates received in extremely good part; merely requesting his friend to be 'blowed,' or to insert his head in a sack, or replying with some other neatly-turned witticism of a similar kind, the happy application of which, excited considerable admiration in the mind of Mr. Chitling.

It was remarkable that the latter gentleman and his partner invariably lost; and that the circumstance, so far from angering Master Bates, appeared to afford him the highest amusement, inasmuch as he laughed most uproariously at the end of every deal, and protested that he had never seen such a jolly game in all his born days. 'That's two doubles and the rub,' said Mr. Chitling, with a very long face, as he drew half-a-crown from his waistcoat-pocket.

'I never see such a feller as you, Jack; you win everything.

Even when we've good cards, Charley and I can't make nothing of 'em.' Either the master or the manner of this remark, which was made very ruefully, delighted Charley Bates so much, that his consequent shout of laughter roused the Jew from his reverie, and induced him to inquire what was the matter. 'Matter, Fagin!' cried Charley.

'I wish you had watched the play.

Tommy Chitling hasn't won a point; and I went partners with him against the Artfull and dumb.' 'Ay, ay!' said the Jew, with a grin, which sufficiently demonstrated that he was at no loss to understand the reason. 'Try 'em again, Tom; try 'em again.' 'No more of it for me, thank 'ee, Fagin,' replied Mr. Chitling; 'I've had enough.

That 'ere Dodger has such a run of luck that there's no standing again' him.' 'Ha! ha! my dear,' replied the Jew, 'you must get up very early in the morning, to win against the Dodger.' 'Morning!' said Charley Bates; 'you must put your boots on over-night, and have a telescope at each eye, and a opera-glass between your shoulders, if you want to come over him.' Mr. Dawkins received these handsome compliments with much philosophy, and offered to cut any gentleman in company, for the first picture-card, at a shilling at a time.

Nobody accepting the challenge, and his pipe being by this time smoked out, he proceeded to amuse himself by sketching a ground-plan of Newgate on the table with the piece of chalk which had served him in lieu of counters; whistling, meantime, with peculiar shrillness. 'How precious dull you are, Tommy!' said the Dodger, stopping short when there had been a long silence; and addressing Mr. Chitling.

'What do you think he's thinking of, Fagin?' 'How should I know, my dear?' replied the Jew, looking round as he plied the bellows.

'About his losses, maybe; or the little retirement in the country that he's just left, eh?

Ha! ha!

Is that it, my dear?' 'Not a bit of it,' replied the Dodger, stopping the subject of discourse as Mr. Chitling was about to reply.

'What do _you_ say, Charley?' '_I_ should say,' replied Master Bates, with a grin, 'that he was uncommon sweet upon Betsy.

See how he's a-blushing!

Oh, my eye! here's a merry-go-rounder!

Tommy Chitling's in love!

Oh, Fagin, Fagin! what a spree!' Thoroughly overpowered with the notion of Mr. Chitling being the victim of the tender passion, Master Bates threw himself back in his chair with such violence, that he lost his balance, and pitched over upon the floor; where (the accident abating nothing of his merriment) he lay at full length until his laugh was over, when he resumed his former position, and began another laugh. 'Never mind him, my dear,' said the Jew, winking at Mr. Dawkins, and giving Master Bates a reproving tap with the nozzle of the bellows.

'Betsy's a fine girl.

Stick up to her, Tom.

Stick up to her.' 'What I mean to say, Fagin,' replied Mr. Chitling, very red in the face, 'is, that that isn't anything to anybody here.' 'No more it is,' replied the Jew; 'Charley will talk.

Don't mind him, my dear; don't mind him.

Betsy's a fine girl.

Do as she bids you, Tom, and you will make your fortune.' 'So I _do_ do as she bids me,' replied Mr. Chitling; 'I shouldn't have been milled, if it hadn't been for her advice.

But it turned out a good job for you; didn't it, Fagin!

And what's six weeks of it?

It must come, some time or another, and why not in the winter time when you don't want to go out a-walking so much; eh, Fagin?' 'Ah, to be sure, my dear,' replied the Jew. 'You wouldn't mind it again, Tom, would you,' asked the Dodger, winking upon Charley and the Jew, 'if Bet was all right?' 'I mean to say that I shouldn't,' replied Tom, angrily. 'There, now.

Ah!

Who'll say as much as that, I should like to know; eh, Fagin?' 'Nobody, my dear,' replied the Jew; 'not a soul, Tom.

I don't know one of 'em that would do it besides you; not one of 'em, my dear.' 'I might have got clear off, if I'd split upon her; mightn't I, Fagin?' angrily pursued the poor half-witted dupe.

'A word from me would have done it; wouldn't it, Fagin?' 'To be sure it would, my dear,' replied the Jew. 'But I didn't blab it; did I, Fagin?' demanded Tom, pouring question upon question with great volubility. 'No, no, to be sure,' replied the Jew; 'you were too stout-hearted for that.

A deal too stout, my dear!' 'Perhaps I was,' rejoined Tom, looking round; 'and if I was, what's to laugh at, in that; eh, Fagin?' The Jew, perceiving that Mr. Chitling was considerably roused, hastened to assure him that nobody was laughing; and to prove the gravity of the company, appealed to Master Bates, the principal offender.

But, unfortunately, Charley, in opening his mouth to reply that he was never more serious in his life, was unable to prevent the escape of such a violent roar, that the abused Mr. Chitling, without any preliminary ceremonies, rushed across the room and aimed a blow at the offender; who, being skilful in evading pursuit, ducked to avoid it, and chose his time so well that it lighted on the chest of the merry old gentleman, and caused him to stagger to the wall, where he stood panting for breath, while Mr. Chitling looked on in intense dismay. 'Hark!' cried the Dodger at this moment, 'I heard the tinkler.' Catching up the light, he crept softly upstairs. The bell was rung again, with some impatience, while the party were in darkness.

After a short pause, the Dodger reappeared, and whispered Fagin mysteriously. 'What!' cried the Jew, 'alone?' The Dodger nodded in the affirmative, and, shading the flame of the candle with his hand, gave Charley Bates a private intimation, in dumb show, that he had better not be funny just then.

Having performed this friendly office, he fixed his eyes on the Jew's face, and awaited his directions. The old man bit his yellow fingers, and meditated for some seconds; his face working with agitation the while, as if he dreaded something, and feared to know the worst.

At length he raised his head. 'Where is he?' he asked. The Dodger pointed to the floor above, and made a gesture, as if to leave the room. 'Yes,' said the Jew, answering the mute inquiry; 'bring him down. Hush!

Quiet, Charley!

Gently, Tom!

Scarce, scarce!' This brief direction to Charley Bates, and his recent antagonist, was softly and immediately obeyed.

There was no sound of their whereabout, when the Dodger descended the stairs, bearing the light in his hand, and followed by a man in a coarse smock-frock; who, after casting a hurried glance round the room, pulled off a large wrapper which had concealed the lower portion of his face, and disclosed: all haggard, unwashed, and unshorn: the features of flash Toby Crackit. 'How are you, Faguey?' said this worthy, nodding to the Jew. 'Pop that shawl away in my castor, Dodger, so that I may know where to find it when I cut; that's the time of day!

You'll be a fine young cracksman afore the old file now.' With these words he pulled up the smock-frock; and, winding it round his middle, drew a chair to the fire, and placed his feet upon the hob. 'See there, Faguey,' he said, pointing disconsolately to his top boots; 'not a drop of Day and Martin since you know when; not a bubble of blacking, by Jove!

But don't look at me in that way, man.

All in good time.

I can't talk about business till I've eat and drank; so produce the sustainance, and let's have a quiet fill-out for the first time these three days!' The Jew motioned to the Dodger to place what eatables there were, upon the table; and, seating himself opposite the housebreaker, waited his leisure. To judge from appearances, Toby was by no means in a hurry to open the conversation.

At first, the Jew contented himself with patiently watching his countenance, as if to gain from its expression some clue to the intelligence he brought; but in vain. He looked tired and worn, but there was the same complacent repose upon his features that they always wore:

and through dirt, and beard, and whisker, there still shone, unimpaired, the self-satisfied smirk of flash Toby Crackit. Then the Jew, in an agony of impatience, watched every morsel he put into his mouth; pacing up and down the room, meanwhile, in irrepressible excitement.

It was all of no use.

Toby continued to eat with the utmost outward indifference, until he could eat no more; then, ordering the Dodger out, he closed the door, mixed a glass of spirits and water, and composed himself for talking. 'First and foremost, Faguey,' said Toby. 'Yes, yes!' interposed the Jew, drawing up his chair. Mr. Crackit stopped to take a draught of spirits and water, and to declare that the gin was excellent; then placing his feet against the low mantelpiece, so as to bring his boots to about the level of his eye, he quietly resumed. 'First and foremost, Faguey,' said the housebreaker, 'how's Bill?' 'What!' screamed the Jew, starting from his seat. 'Why, you don't mean to say--' began Toby, turning pale. 'Mean!' cried the Jew, stamping furiously on the ground. 'Where are they?

Sikes and the boy!

Where are they?

Where have they been?

Where are they hiding?

Why have they not been here?' 'The crack failed,' said Toby faintly. 'I know it,' replied the Jew, tearing a newspaper from his pocket and pointing to it.

'What more?' 'They fired and hit the boy.

We cut over the fields at the back, with him between us--straight as the crow flies--through hedge and ditch.

They gave chase.

Damme! the whole country was awake, and the dogs upon us.' 'The boy!' 'Bill had him on his back, and scudded like the wind.

We stopped to take him between us; his head hung down, and he was cold. They were close upon our heels; every man for himself, and each from the gallows!

We parted company, and left the youngster lying in a ditch.

Alive or dead, that's all I know about him.' The Jew stopped to hear no more; but uttering a loud yell, and twining his hands in his hair, rushed from the room, and from the house.



 

(在本章中,这部传记要回过头去讲费金先生以及他的同伴了。)

当某镇济贫院里发生上述这些事情的时候,费金先生正坐守在老巢里——奥立弗就是从这儿被南希姑娘领走的——他低低地笼着一雄烟雾凫凫的微火,膝盖上放着一只携带式风箱,看样子他早就打算把火拨得旺一些,不曾想自己倒陷入了沉思。他双臂交叉,两个大拇指顶住下巴,神不守舍地注视着锈迹斑斑的铁栅。

机灵鬼、查理·贝兹少爷和基特宁先生坐在他身后的一张桌子旁边,他们正在聚精会神地玩惠斯特牌戏,机灵鬼和明手,对贝兹少爷和基特宁先生。首先提到名字的那位绅士无论什么时候都显得聪明过人,此时脸上又多了一分微妙的表情,一方面专心打牌,一方面紧盯着基特宁先生的手,只要机会合适,就敏锐地看一眼基特宁先生手上的牌,根据对邻居的观测结果,巧妙地变换自己的打法。这是一个寒冷的夜晚,机灵鬼戴着帽子,一点不假,这本来就是他在室内的习惯。他牙缝里照例叼着一根陶制烟斗,偶尔把烟斗移开片刻,这也只是在他认为有必要从桌上放着的一只酒壶里喝两口提提精神的时候,这只容量一夸脱的壶里盛着供大家享用的掺水杜松子酒。

贝兹少爷玩得也很专心,可是由于天性比起他那位技艺娴熟的同伴更容易激动,看得出他品尝掺水杜松子酒的次数比较频繁,外加一个劲地打哈哈,牛头不对马嘴地瞎扯一气,跟一副讲究学问的牌局很不相称。的的确确,机灵鬼本着为朋友两肋插刀的精神,不止一次借机向同伴严肃指出,这种举止很不得体。贝兹少爷对绝大部分忠告都没有计较,只是请同伴“识相些”,否则干脆把脑袋伸进一个麻袋里去得了,要不就是用这一类巧妙的俏皮话来回敬对方,基特宁先生听了这些妙语佩服得不得了。值得注意的是,后一位绅士和他的搭挡老是输,这种情况非但没有惹恼贝兹少爷,反倒好像替他提供了极大的乐趣,他每打完一局都要喧闹不堪地大笑一阵,发誓说有生以来从未见过这样有趣的游戏。

“再加倍,一盘就完了,”基特宁先生拉长了脸,从背心口袋里掏出半个克朗,说道。“我从来没见过你这样的家伙,杰克,全是你赢。我跟查理拿到好牌也不顶事。”

不知道是这句话本身还是他说话时那副哭丧着脸的样子逗得查理·贝兹大为开心,查理立刻发出一阵狂笑,老犹太从冥想中惊醒过来,不禁问了一声怎么回事。

“怎么回事,费金,”查理嚷道,“你来看看牌局就好了。汤米·基特宁连一个点都没赢到,我跟他搭档对机灵鬼和明手。”

“嗳,嗳。”费金笑嘻嘻地说,表明其中妙处他心中有数。“再打几把,汤姆,再打几把。”

“谢谢,费金,我才不打了呢,”基特宁先生回答,“我受够了。机灵鬼一路交好运,谁也不是他的对手。”

“哈哈!我亲爱的,”老犹太答道,“你非得起个大早,才赢得过机灵鬼呢。”

“起个大早!”查理·贝兹说,“你要是想赢他的话,一定得头天晚上就穿好鞋,两只眼睛上各放一架望远镜,两个肩膀中间再挂一个看戏用的眼镜才行。”

达金斯先生不动声色地接受了这些赞美之辞,提出要和在座的哪一位绅士玩两把,每次一先令,谁先摸到有人头的牌为胜。由于无人应战,碰巧这时他的烟斗又抽完了,他拾起凑合着当筹码用的一段粉笔,自得其乐地在桌子上画了一张新门监狱的示意图聊以自娱,一边格外刺耳地打着口哨。

“你这人真没劲,汤米。”机灵鬼见大伙老是不吭声,便点着基特宁先生说了一句,又顿了顿,问道,“费金,你猜他在想什么?”

“我怎么猜得出来呢,亲爱的?”老犹太使劲地鼓动风箱,回头看了一眼,答道。“大概在想输了多少钱吧,可能,要不就是在想他刚刚离开的那所乡间小别墅,唔?哈哈!是不是,我亲爱的?”

“根本不是那么回事,”基恃宁先生正想开口,机灵鬼抢先说道,从而打住了这个话题。“你说他在想什么,查理?”

“我说,”贝兹少爷咧着嘴笑了笑,“他对蓓特甜得可不一般。瞧他脸有多红。呃,我的天啦。这下有好戏看了。汤姆,咱们基特宁害了相思病了。呃,费金,费金。笑死我了。”

想到基特宁先生成了爱情的牺牲品,贝兹少爷简直乐疯了,他腾地往椅子上一靠,一时用力过猛,身体失去平衡,一个倒栽葱摔倒在地板上,他直挺挺地躺在地上(这一意外事故并没有使他感到扫兴),直到再也笑不出来才重新坐好,又开始笑起来。

“别理他,我亲爱的,”老犹太说着,朝达金斯先生挤了挤眼,一边惩戒性地用风箱喷嘴敲了贝兹少爷一下。“蓓特是个好姑娘。你只管追,汤姆,你只管追。”

“我想说的是,费金,”基特宁先生面红耳赤地答道,“这事你们谁也管不着。”

“你尽管放心,”费金答道,“查理是喜欢说三道四,别理他,我亲爱的,别理他。蓓特是个好姑娘。她要你干什么你就干什么,汤姆,你准会发财的。”

“我就是她要我干什么我就干什么,要不是听她的话,我也不会给关进去了,到头来还不是便宜了你,对不对,费金。六个礼拜又怎么样?反正总会进去的,不是现在就是将来,你冬天不怎么想上外边溜达的时候,干吗不呆在里边,唔,费金?”

“嗨,是那么回事,我亲爱的。”老犹太回答。

“你就是再进去一回也不在乎,汤姆,是吧?”机灵鬼向查理和费金使了个眼色,问道,“只要蓓特不说什么?”

“我就是想说我不在乎,”汤姆愤愤不平地回答,“行了,行了。啊,你们谁敢这么说,我倒想知道,晤,费金?”

“没有人敢,亲爱的,”老犹太答道,“汤姆,谁也不敢。除了你,我不知道他们哪一个有这个胆子,没有一个,我亲爱的。”

“我当初要是把她供出来,自个儿就可以脱身,不是吗,费金?”可怜的冤大头怒气冲冲,穷追不舍。“我只消说一个字就了结了,不是吗,费金?”

“是啊,一点没错,亲爱的。”老犹太回答。

“但我也没把事情抖出去,对不对,费金?”汤姆的问题一个接一个抛了出来。

“没有,没有,绝对没有,”老犹太答道,“你真有种,绝不会漏出一句话,就是莽撞了点,我亲爱的。”

“也许是吧,”汤姆扭头看了看,回答道,“就算是吧,那有什么好笑的,嗯,费金?”

老犹太听出基特宁先生火气相当地大,赶紧向他担保没有人在笑,为了证明在座各位都很严肃,便问罪魁祸首贝兹少爷是不是这样。然而不幸的是,查理刚开口回答,说他一辈子从来不像现在这样严肃,又忍不住前仰后合地放声大笑起来。备受羞辱的基特宁先生二话不说,冲过去对准肇事者就是一拳。贝兹少爷躲避打击向来就很老练,猛一低头躲开了,时机又选得恰到好处,结果这一拳落到了那位快活老绅士的胸日上,打得他摇摇晃晃,直退到墙边,站在那里拚命喘气,基特宁先生失魂落魄地望着他。

“听。”就在这时,机灵鬼叫了起来,“我听到拉铃的声音。”他抓起蜡烛,轻手轻脚地上楼去了。

这帮人正搞不清是怎么回事的时候,铃声又颇不耐烦地响了起来。过了一会儿,机灵鬼又回来了,神秘兮兮地跟费金嚼咕了几句。

“哦。”老犹太嚷道,“一个人?”

机灵鬼肯定地点了点头,他用手挡住蜡烛火苗,一声不响地给了查理·贝兹一个暗示,要他眼下最好别再开玩笑了。机灵鬼尽到了朋友的责任,他目不转睛地看着老犹太的脸,听候吩咐。

老头儿咬着蜡黄的手指,盘算了几秒钟,面孔急剧地抽动着,似乎正担心着什么,害怕得知最坏的情形。末了,他终于抬起头来。

“他在哪儿?”他问。

机灵鬼指了指楼上,做了一个离开这个房间的动作。

“好吧,”费金对这无声的询问作了答复。“带他下来。嘘!别出声了,查理。斯文点,汤姆。避一避,避一避。”

查理·贝兹和他新结下的对头乖乖地服从了向他俩下达的这一番简短的指示。四下里没有一点声音表明他们到哪儿去了,机灵鬼举着蜡烛走下楼来,后边跟着一个身穿粗布罩衫的男人。这人仓惺地扫了周围一眼,把遮住自己下半张脸的大披巾扯下来,露出了花花公子托比·格拉基特的一张脸——十分憔悴,不知多少天没洗脸,没刮胡子了。

“你好吗,费金?”这位可敬的绅士朝老犹太点点头,说道。“机灵鬼,把这张围巾掼到我帽子里边,剃头的时候我好知道上哪儿找去,没错。你将来会出落成一个年轻有为的江洋大盗,比眼下这个老油子高明得多。”

说着,他把罩衫撩起来,系在腰上,扯过一张椅子放在炉旁,坐了下来,两腿搭在保温架上。

“瞅瞅,费金;”他满腹牢骚地指着长统马靴说道,“从你知道的那个时候算起,连一滴戴伊马丁①都没碰,一次都没擦过,天啦。喂,你别那样看着我。不要着急,我不吃饱喝足了,也没力气跟你谈正经事。拿点吃的来,我们先把三天没进的货来个一次补齐。”

①指伦敦有名的戴伊马丁公司出品的鞋油。狄更斯少年时代在这家公司干过活。

老犹太打了个手势,要机灵鬼把能吃的东西都放到桌上去,自己在这个强盗的对面坐下来,等着他开口说话。

从外表上看,托比丝毫也不打算马上开口。一开始老犹太还沉得住气,观察着他的脸色,似乎想从表情上看出他到底带来了什么消息,然而毫无效果。托比虽然显得疲惫不堪,但眉宇之间仍保持着那种一贯的怡然自得的神气,真是没得治了,透过油泥污垢、胡须鬓角显现出来的仍旧是花花公子托比·格拉基特那一副自鸣得意的傻笑。老犹太焦躁地站起来,一边盯着托比一点一点把食物送进嘴里,一边激动难忍在屋里踱来踱去。这一招也完全不起作用。托比摆足了旁若无人的派头,一直吃到再也吃不下去,这才吩咐机灵鬼出去,关上门,兑了一杯酒,定了定神,准备发话。

“首先,费金。”托比说道。

“对呀,对呀。”老犹太挪了一下椅子,插嘴说。

格拉基特先生停下来,呷了一口酒,直夸掺水杜松子酒真是好极了,接着又把双脚蹬在壁炉上,以便使靴子和自己的视线大致处于水平的位置,又若无其事地捡起了话题。

“首先,费金,”这位入室抢劫的老手说道,“比尔怎么了?”

“啊!”老犹太一声惊叫,从座位上跳了起来。

“嗳,你该不会是想说——”说话时托比的脸唰地变白了。

“想说!”费金叫喊着,怒不可遏地跺着地面。“他们哪儿去了?赛克斯跟那孩子。他们哪儿去了?到什么地方去了?”

“买卖搞砸了。”托比有气无力地说。

“我就知道,”老犹太从衣袋里扯出一张报纸,指着报纸说。“还有呢?”

“他们开了枪,打中了那孩子。我们俩架着他穿过野地——直端端的,就像乌鸦飞过一样——翻过篱笆,水沟,他们还在追。妈的。全国的人都醒过来了,狗也在后边撵。”

“说那个孩子。”

“比尔把他背在背上,跑得飞快,跟一阵风似的。后来我们停下来,把他放在我们中间,他脑袋搭拉着,身上冷冰冰的。那些人眼看着就要追上我们了,人人为自已,谁都不想上绞刑架。我们就散伙了,把小家伙丢在一个水沟里,也不知道是死是活,我知道的就这些了。”

费金没再听他说下去一只是大吼一声,双手扯着头发,冲出房间,跑出大门去了。