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'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, he had 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 most insinuating grin.

'He hasn't as good a one as himself anywhere.' 'Except sometimes,' replied Morris Bolter, assuming the air of a man of the world.

'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 only because he's too much his own friend; not because he's careful for everybody but 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 magic number, and some say number seven.

It's neither, my friend, neither.

It's number one. 'Ha! ha!' cried Mr. Bolter.

'Number one for ever.' 'In a little community like ours, my dear,' said Fagin, who felt it necessary to qualify this position, 'we have a general number one, without considering me 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 so mixed up together, and identified in our interests, that it must be so.

For instance, 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 the quality of selfishness. 'No, I don't!' retorted Fagin.

'I'm of the same importance to you, as you are to yourself.' 'I say,' interrupted Mr. Bolter, 'yer a very nice man, and I'm very fond of yer; but we ain't quite so thick together, as all that comes to.' 'Only think,' said Fagin, shrugging his shoulders, and stretching out his hands; 'only consider.

You've done what's a very pretty thing, and what I love you for doing; but what at the same time would put the cravat round your throat, that's so very easily tied and so very difficult to unloose--in plain English, the halter!' Mr. Bolter put his hand to his neckerchief, as if he felt it inconveniently tight; 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 bold fellow's career on the broad highway.

To keep in the easy road, and keep it at a distance, is object number one with you.' 'Of course it is,' replied Mr. Bolter.

'What do yer talk about such things for?' 'Only to show you my meaning clearly,' said the Jew, raising his eyebrows.

'To be able to do that, you depend upon me. To keep my little business all snug, I depend upon you. The first is your number one, the second my number one.

The more you value your number one, the more careful you must be of mine; so we come at last to what I told you at first--that a regard for number one holds us all 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 old codger!' Mr. Fagin saw, with delight, that this tribute to his powers was no mere compliment, but that he had really impressed his recruit with a sense of his wily genius, which it was most important that he should entertain in the outset of their acquaintance.

To strengthen an impression so desirable and useful, he followed up the blow by acquainting him, in some detail, with the magnitude and extent of his operations; blending truth and fiction together, as best served his purpose; and bringing both to bear, with so much art, that Mr. 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 heavy losses,' 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 a pocket, 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, and I'd give the price of as many to have him back.

You should have known the Dodger, 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 any fresh evidence, it'll only be a summary conviction, and we shall have him back again after six weeks or so; but, if they do, it's a case of lagging.

They know what a clever lad he is; he'll be a lifer.

They'll make the Artful nothing less than a lifer.' 'What do you mean by lagging and a lifer?' demanded Mr. Bolter. 'What's the good of talking in that way to me; why don't yer speak so as I can understand yer?' Fagin was about to translate these mysterious expressions into the vulgar tongue; and, being interpreted, Mr. Bolter would have been informed that they represented that combination of words, 'transportation for life,' when the dialogue was cut short by the entry of Master Bates, with his hands in his breeches-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 been made 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 Master Bates.

'I must have a full suit of mourning, Fagin, and a hatband, to wisit him in, afore he sets out upon his travels.

To think of Jack Dawkins--lummy Jack--the Dodger--the Artful Dodger--going abroad for a common twopenny-halfpenny sneeze-box!

I never thought he'd a done it under a gold watch, chain, and seals, at the lowest.

Oh, why didn't he rob some rich old gentleman of all his walables, and go out as a gentleman, and not like a common prig, without no honour nor glory!' With this expression of feeling for his unfortunate friend, Master Bates sat himself on the nearest chair with an aspect of chagrin and despondency. 'What do you talk about his having neither honour nor glory for!' exclaimed Fagin, darting an angry look at his pupil. 'Wasn't he always the top-sawyer among you all!

Is there one of you that could touch him or come near him on any scent!

Eh?' 'Not one,' replied Master Bates, in a voice rendered husky by regret; 'not one.' 'Then what do you talk of?' replied Fagin angrily; 'what are you blubbering for?' ''Cause it isn't on the rec-ord, is it?' said Charley, chafed into perfect defiance of his venerable friend by the current of his regrets; ''cause it can't come 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, my eye, my eye, wot a blow it is!' 'Ha! ha!' cried Fagin, extending his right hand, and turning to Mr. Bolter in a fit of chuckling which shook him as though he had the palsy; 'see what a pride they take in their profession, my dear.

Ain't it beautiful?' Mr. Bolter nodded assent, and Fagin, after contemplating the grief of Charley Bates for some seconds with evident satisfaction, stepped up to that young gentleman and patted him on the shoulder. 'Never mind, Charley,' said Fagin soothingly; 'it'll come out, it'll be sure to come out.

They'll all know what a clever fellow he was; he'll show it himself, and not disgrace his old pals and teachers.

Think how young he is too!

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 the Stone Jug, Charley, like a gentleman.

Like a gentleman!

With his beer every day, 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:

one that's got the greatest gift of the gab:

to carry on his defence; and he shall make a speech for himself too, if he likes; and we'll read it all in the papers--"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-wigs trying to look solemn, and Jack Dawkins addressing of 'em as intimate and comfortable as if he was the judge's own son making a speech arter dinner--ha! ha! ha!' In fact, Mr. Fagin had so well humoured his young friend's eccentric disposition, that Master Bates, who had at first been disposed to consider the imprisoned Dodger rather in the light of a victim, now looked upon him as the chief actor in a scene of most uncommon and exquisite humour, and felt quite impatient for the arrival of the time when his old companion should have so favourable an opportunity of displaying his abilities. 'We must know how he gets on to-day, by some handy means or other,' said Fagin.

'Let me think.' 'Shall I go?' asked Charley. 'Not for the world,' replied Fagin.

'Are you mad, my dear, stark mad, that you'd walk into the very place where--No, Charley, no. One is enough to lose at 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 hand on 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, 'really nothing.' 'Oh, I dare say about that, yer know,' observed Noah, backing towards the door, 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's lank 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 his branch?' 'Never mind,' retorted Mr. Bolter; 'and don't yer take liberties with yer superiors, little boy, or yer'll find yerself in the wrong shop.' Master Bates laughed so vehemently at this magnificent threat, that it was some time before Fagin could interpose, and represent to Mr. Bolter that he incurred no possible danger in visiting the police-office; that, inasmuch as no account of the little affair in which he had engaged, nor any description of his person, had yet been forwarded to the metropolis, it was very probable that 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 as any in London, inasmuch as it would be, of all places, the very last, to which he could be supposed likely to resort of his own free will. Persuaded, in part, by these representations, but overborne in a much greater degree by his fear of Fagin, Mr. Bolter at length consented, with a very bad grace, to undertake the expedition. By Fagin's directions, he immediately substituted for his own attire, a waggoner's frock, velveteen breeches, and leather leggings:

all of which articles the Jew had at hand.

He was likewise furnished with a felt hat well garnished with turnpike tickets; and a carter's whip.

Thus equipped, he was to saunter into the office, as some country fellow from Covent Garden market might be supposed to do for the gratification of his curiousity; and as he was as awkward, ungainly, and raw-boned a fellow as need be, Mr. Fagin had no fear but that he would look the part to perfection. These arrangements completed, he was informed of the necessary signs and tokens by which to recognise the Artful Dodger, and was conveyed by Master Bates through dark and winding ways to within a very short distance of Bow Street. Having described the precise situation of the office, and accompanied it with copious directions how he was to walk straight up the passage, and when 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 the spot of their parting. Noah Claypole, or Morris Bolter as the reader pleases, punctually followed the directions he had received, which--Master Bates being pretty well acquainted with the locality--were so exact that he was enabled to gain the magisterial presence without asking any question, or meeting with any interruption by the way. He found himself jostled among a crowd of people, chiefly women, who were huddled together in a dirty frowsy room, at the upper end of which was a raised platform railed off from the rest, with a dock for the prisoners on the left hand against the wall, a box for the witnesses in the middle, and a desk for the magistrates on the right; the awful locality last named, being screened 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 their admiring friends, while the clerk read some depositions to a couple of policemen and a man in plain clothes who leant over the table.

A jailer stood reclining 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 baby out,' when the gravity of justice was disturbed by feeble cries, half-smothered in the mother's shawl, from some meagre infant.

The room smelt close and 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 the dock--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 the animate matter, hardly less unpleasant than the thick greasy scum on every inamimate object that frowned upon it. Noah looked eagerly about him for the Dodger; but although there were several women who would have done very well for that distinguished character's mother or sister, and more than one man who might be supposed to bear a strong resemblance to his father, nobody at all answering the description given him of Mr. Dawkins was to be seen.

He waited in a state of much suspense and uncertainty until the women, being committed for trial, went flaunting out; and then was quickly relieved by the appearance of another prisoner who he felt 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 coat sleeves tucked up as usual, his left hand in his pocket, and his hat in his right hand, preceded the jailer, with a rolling gait altogether indescribable, and, taking his place in the dock, requested in an audible voice to know what he 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 pepper with 'em.' 'We'll see wot the Secretary of State for the Home Affairs has got to say to the beaks, if I don't,' replied Mr. Dawkins.

'Now then!

Wot is this here business?

I shall thank the madg'strates to dispose of this here little affair, and not to keep me while they read the paper, for I've got an appointment with a genelman in the City, and as I am a man of my word and wery punctual in business matters, he'll go away if I ain't there to my time, and then pr'aps ther won't be an action for damage against them as kep me away.

Oh no, certainly not!' At this point, the Dodger, with a show of being very particular with a view to proceedings to be had thereafter, desired the jailer to communicate 'the names of them two files as was on the bench.'

Which so tickled the spectators, that they laughed almost as heartily as Master Bates could have done if he had heard 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 pretty well 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 'em.' This wish was immediately gratified, for a policeman stepped forward who had seen the prisoner attempt the pocket of an unknown gentleman in a crowd, and indeed take a handkerchief therefrom, which, being a very old one, he deliberately put back again, after trying it on his own countenance.

For this reason, he took the Dodger into custody as soon as he could get near him, and the said Dodger, being searched, had upon his person a silver snuff-box, with the owner's name engraved upon the lid.

This gentleman had been discovered on reference to the Court Guide, and being then and there present, swore that the snuff-box was his, and that he had missed it on the previous day, the moment he had disengaged himself from the crowd before referred to.

He had also remarked a young gentleman in the throng, particularly active in making his way 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 the officer 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 Wice President of the House of Commons; but I shall have something to say elsewhere, and so will he, and so will a wery numerous and 'spectable circle of acquaintance as'll make them beaks wish they'd never been born, or that they'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 of his hand.

'Ah! (to the Bench) it's no use your looking frightened; I won't show you no mercy, not a ha'porth of it.

_You'll_ pay for this, my fine fellers.

I wouldn't be you for something!

I wouldn't go free, now, if you was to fall down on your knees and ask me.

Here, carry me off to prison!

Take me away!' With these last words, the Dodger suffered himself to be led off by the collar; threatening, till he got into the yard, to make a parliamentary business of it; and then grinning in the officer's face, with great glee and self-approval. Having seen him locked up by himself in a little cell, Noah made the best of his 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 from showing himself until he had looked carefully abroad from a snug retreat, and ascertained that his new friend had not been followed by any impertinent person. The two hastened back together, to bear to Mr. Fagin the animating news that the Dodger was doing full justice to his bringing-up, and establishing for himself a glorious reputation.

(本章讲述逮不着的机灵鬼如何落难。)

“原来你朋友就是你自个儿呀,是不是?”克雷波尔先生,也就是波尔特,向费金问道,根据双方达成的协议,他第二天便搬进了费金先生的住所。“天啦,我昨晚上也想到过。”

“每个人都是他自己的朋友,亲爱的,”费金脸上堆满谄媚笑容,答道。“在任何地方都找不出一个和他自个儿一样的好朋友。”

“有时候也不一定,”莫里斯·波尔特装出一副城府很深的样子回答。“你知道,有些人不跟别人作对,专跟他们自己过不去。”

“别信那一套。”费金说,“一个人跟自己过不去,那只是因为他和自己作朋友作过头了,不是因为他什么人都挂在心上,就是不关心他自己。呸,呸!天下没有这种事。”

“就是有,也不应该。”波尔特先生回答。

“那才在理。有些魔术师说三号是一个神奇的数字,还有的说是七号。都不是,我的朋友,不是。一号才是哩。”

“哈哈!”波尔特先生大叫起来,“永远是一号。”

“在一个像我们这样的小团体里边,我亲爱的,”费金感到有必要对这种观点作一个说明,“我们有一个笼统的一号,就是说,你不能把自己当成一号来考虑,要想一想我,加上所有其他的年轻人也是。”

“噢,鬼东西。”波尔特先生骂了一句。

“你想,”费金装出没有留意这句插话的样子,继续说道,“我们现在难分彼此,有共同的利益,非得这样不可啊。比方说吧,你的目标是关心一号——就是关心你自己。”

“当然啦,”波尔特先生回答,“你这话有道理。”

“对呀。你不能只关心自己这个一号,就不管我这个一号了。”

“你说的是二号吧?”波尔特先生颇有自爱的美德。

“不,我不是这个意思。”费金反驳道,“我对于你是同等重要的,就和你对你自己一样。”

“我说,”波尔特先生插嘴说,“你可真逗,我非常欣赏你,不过,我们的交情还没达到那么深。”

“只是琢磨琢磨,考虑一下而已,”费金说着耸了耸肩,摊开双手。“你办了一件非常漂亮的事,就冲你办的事,我喜欢你。可同时,这事儿也在你脖子上系了一条领圈,拴上去轻而易举,解下来可就难了——说得明白点,就是绞索。”

波尔特先生用手摸了摸围巾,像是感到围得太紧,不怎么舒服似的,他嘟嘟哝哝,用声调而不是用语言表示同意。

“什么是绞架?”费金继续说道,“绞架,我亲爱的,是一块丑恶的路标,它那个急转直下的箭头断送了多少好汉的远大前程。始终走在平路上,远远地避开绞架,这就是你的一号目的。”

“这还用说,”波尔特先生回答,“你干吗说这些?”

“无非是让你明白我的意思,”老犹太扬起眉梢,说道,“要做到这一点,你必须依靠我,要把我的这份小买卖做得顺顺当当,就要靠你了。首先是你这个一号,其次才是我这个一号。你越是看重你这个一号,就越要关心我。说来说去,我们还是回到我开初跟你说的那句话了——以一号为重,我们大家才能抱成一团,我们必须这样做,否则只有各奔东西。”

“这倒是真的,”波尔特先生若有所思地答道,“噢!你这个老滑头。”

费金先生高兴地看到,这样赞美他的才能,绝不是一般的恭维话,自己确实已经在这个新徒弟心中留下了足智多谋的印象,在两人交往之初就建立这种印象是至关紧要的。为了加深这个必要而又有用的印象,他趁热打铁,将业务的规模、范畴相当详尽地介绍了一番,把事实与虚构揉和在一起,尽量使之适合自己的用意。他将二者运用得非常娴熟,波尔特先生的敬意显然有所增强,同时又带有一点有益的畏惧,唤起这种畏惧是非常理想的。

“正是由于你我之间这种相互信赖,我才能在蒙受重大损失的时候得到安慰,”费金说道,“昨天上午我失去了一个最好的帮手。”

“你该不是说他死啦?”波尔特先生叫了起来。

“不,不,”费金回答,“还没有糟糕成那样。绝对没那么糟。”

“哦,我想他是——”

“嫌疑,”费金插了一句,“没错,他成了嫌疑犯。”

“特别严重?”波尔特先生问。

“不,” 费金答道,“不太严重,控告他企图扒窃钱包。他们在他身上搜出一个银质鼻烟盒——是他自己的,亲爱的,是他自个的,他自个吸鼻烟,很喜欢吸。他们要把他关押到今天,认为他们知道东西是谁的。啊!他值得上五十个鼻烟盒,我愿意出那个价把他赎回来。可惜你没见过机灵鬼,亲爱的,可惜你没见过机灵鬼。”

“唔,我往后会见到他的,我想,你不这样认为?”波尔特先生说。

“这事我放不下,”费金叹了口气,回答,“如果他们没什么新的证据,就只是一个即决裁判而已,过六个星期左右,我们再把他接回来就是了。可是,如果他们有新证据,那就成累积案了。他们现在知道那小伙子有多机灵了。他会得一张永久票,他们会给机灵鬼弄张永久票。”

“你说那个累积跟永久票是什么意思?”波尔特先生刨根问底,“你这样对我说话有什么好处,你干吗不用我能听明白的话来说呢?”

费金正打算把这两个神秘的词语翻译成通俗的语言,这样经过解释,波尔特先生就可以明白了,两个词合在一起的意思是“终身流放”。就在这时,贝兹少爷突然走了进来,打断了他俩的谈话,贝兹两手插在裤兜里,扭歪了脸,那副愁眉苦脸的样子反倒让人觉得有些滑稽。

“全完了,费金。”查理和新伙伴相互认识之后,说道。

“你说什么?”

“他们把盒子的失主给找到了,还有两三个人要来指认他,机灵鬼免不了要出去走一趟了。”贝兹少爷回答,“我得穿一身丧服,费金,扎上一条帽带,在他动身出去以前去看看他。想想,杰克·达金斯——幸运的杰克——机灵鬼——这不着的机灵鬼——为了普普通通一个喷嚏盒子,只值两便上半,就要放洋出国。我一直以为,要让他放洋出国,顶起码也是为一块带链子和戳子的金表。噢,他干吗不去把一位有钱老绅士的贵重东西偷个精光,要走也要走得像有身份的人,不能像个普普通通的扒手,既不体面又不光彩。”

贝兹少爷对倒霉的朋友深表同情,说罢在离得最近的椅子上坐下来,一脸懊恼沮丧的神色。

“你唠叨他既不体面又不光彩干什么。”费金嚷了起来,朝徒弟投过去一道愤怒的眼色。“他一直不就是你们当中的头儿吗?你们有谁能在嗅觉方面跟他比比或者赶上他的。嗯?”

“一个也没有,”贝兹少爷感到有些后悔,声音也变得干巴巴的了。“一个也没有。”

“那你还说什么?”费金依旧怒不可遏,“你哭的哪门子丧?”

“因为这种事不会记录——在案的,对不对?”查理按捺不住一肚子的懊恼,公然顶撞起自己的老恩师来了。“因为不会写在起诉书上,因为大家连他为人的一半都不了解。他怎么能收进新门一览呢?兴许压根儿就不在那儿。呵,天啦,天啦,这个打击太大了。”

“哈哈!”费金摊开右手,朝波尔特先生转过身来,发出一阵怪笑,身子晃来晃去,像是在抽风。“瞧瞧,他们对自己的本行看得多自豪,亲爱的,这还不漂亮吗?”

波尔特先生点头称是。费金朝伤心的查理·贝兹端详了几秒钟,显然感到满意,这才走上前去,拍了拍那位小绅士的肩膀。

“别发愁,查理,”费金哄着他说,“会登出来的,肯定会登出来。将来人人都会知道他是一个多么聪明的人,他自己会露脸的,不会给老伙计、老师傅丢脸。你想想,他又是多么年轻。在他那个岁数就给请去,查理,多有面子啊。”

“唔,这是一种面子,是啊。”查理说道,他心头略微感到宽慰了一点。

“他要什么就会有什么,”老犹太继续说,“他在那个石瓮里,查理呀,应当过得像一位绅士,像一位绅士那样。每天有他的啤酒喝,口袋里有钱让他玩玩掷钱游戏,如果他花不出去的话。”

“不,要是他花得出去呢?”查理·贝兹嚷道。

“嗳,那就花呗,”老犹太回答,“我们要找一个大人物,查理,找一个口才最好的人,为他辩护。他也可以自己辩护,要是他高兴的话,我们会在报纸上读到这一切——逮不着的机灵鬼——数次引起哄堂大笑——此间法官均捧住肚子——嗯,查理,嗯?”

“哈哈!”贝兹少爷大笑,“那才好玩呢,对不对,费金?我说,机灵鬼八成要给他们添麻烦了,是不是?”

“八成?”费金大叫一声,“十成——他一定会的。”

“啊,没错,他一定会的。”查理搓着手重复了一遍。

“我眼下好像看见了他一样呢。”老犹太将目光转向徒弟,高声说道。

“我也看见了,”查理·贝兹嚷道,“哈哈哈!这一切好像全在我面前,看得真真切切,费金,真有趣。非常非常有趣。那些带假发的大人物全都装出一本正经的样子,杰克·达金斯跟他们谈得又亲热又愉快,就好像他是法官的儿子,正在宴会上发表演讲似的——哈哈哈!”

说真的,贝兹少爷的脾气的确与众不同,经过费金先生的一番细细调理,这位年轻朋友一开始倾向于把关在狱中的机灵鬼看成是牺牲品,这时转而认为他是一出极不寻常、极为优雅的滑稽戏中的主角,巴不得那一天早日到来,好让自己的老伙计有机会大显身手。

“我们必须了解一下他今天过得如何,找个什么方便的办法,”费金说道,“让我想想。”

“要不要我去?”查理问。

“不行不行,”老犹太回答,“你疯了吗,亲爱的?简直是发疯,你也会进去的,那儿——不,查理,不行。一次损失一个已经够了。”

“你该不会打算亲自出马,我想?”查理风趣地挤了挤眼,说。

“那也不太合适。”费金一边摇头,一边回答。

“那你干吗不派这位新来的伙计去呢?”贝兹少爷伸出一只手搭在诺亚肩上,问道。“谁也不认识他。”

“哦,如果他不反对——”费金说道。

“反对?”查理插了上去,“他有什么好反对的?”

“倒真是没什么好反对的,亲爱的,”费金说道,朝波尔特先生转过身去。“真的没什么。”

“噢,这事我得说两句,你知道,”诺亚说着,连连摇头,往门口退去,露出一种神志清醒的恐慌。“不,不——我不干,这种事不属于我的部门,这不行。”

“他进了哪个部门,费金?”贝兹少爷极其厌恶地打量着诺亚细长的身板,问道。“一出乱子就溜之大吉,一切顺利的时候就海吃海喝,他的分内事就是这个?”

“得了吧你,”波尔特先生反唇相讥,“不许你这样目无尊长,小子,小心找错了地方。”

听到这一番堂而皇之的恐吓,贝兹少爷放声大笑。费金过了好一阵子才找着机会从中排解,向波尔特先生说明,他到轻罪法庭走一趟不可能招来危险。他参与的那件小事的通报连同他个人的相貌说明都还没有转到首都来,甚至很可能没有人怀疑他躲到大都会来了。况且,只要他适当地换一身打扮,到局子里走一趟与到伦敦的任何一个地方去一样安全,因为人家最想不到他会自愿前去的就是那个地方。

波尔特先生多少有几分让这些解释说服了,但更大程度上是屈服于对费金的恐惧,最终还是勉强答应去作这一次探险。依照费金的吩咐,他当即换了一身装束,穿上一件车把式的上衣,平绒短裤,裹上皮绑腿:这些物品在老犹太这里都是现成的。他还备了一顶上边插着好几张过路税票的毡帽和一根车夫的鞭子。有了这身披挂,他就可以像一个考文特花市来的乡巴佬,上局子里逛逛去了,别人一看都会以为他是去满足好奇心的。他本来就长得土里土气,骨瘦如柴,正好符合要求,费金先生相信,他扮演这个角色真是再恰当不过了,完全没有什么可担心的。

一切安排停当,他记熟了辨认逮不着的机灵鬼所需要的外貌特征,由贝兹少爷陪着穿过昏暗、曲折的小路,来到离波雾街不远的地方。查理·贝兹把轻罪法庭的准确位置作了介绍,并且详细说明如何穿过走廊,进了院子如何上楼走到右边的一道门前,如何先摘下帽子再进入法庭,说完便嘱咐他快去快回,答应在两人分手的地方等他回来。

诺亚·克雷波尔,读者如果高兴也可以叫他莫里斯·波尔特,分毫不差地按照得到的指示行事——贝兹少爷对那个场所了如指掌,指示十分精确,所以他一路上无需发问,也没有遇上什么障碍,便走进了法庭。他挤进一个肮脏、闷热的房间,混在多半是妇女的人群中。法庭前边有一个用栏杆隔开的台子,左边靠墙的地方是替囚犯安排的被告席,证人席在中间,右边是几位治安推事坐的审判席,这个令人肃然起敬的场所的前面这着一道帏幕,这样一来审判席便不至于处在众目睽睽之下,任凭庶民百姓去想像司法的全副尊严,要是他们想像得出来的话。

被告席上只有两个女人,她们向各自的崇拜者频频点头致意,书记员正在向两名警察和一个俯在桌上的便衣宣读几份供词,一名看守依着被告席栏杆站在那里,无精打采地用一把大钥匙在鼻子上拍打着,有时停下来叫一声 “肃静”,以制止一班闲杂人等不成体统的高声交谈,有时又神色严厉地抬起头,吩咐某个女人“把孩子弄出去”,这种情况往往是某个营养不良的婴儿发出微弱的哭声,而母亲的技巾又没有完全捂住,从而打破了司法的庄重性。屋子里散发着闷热的臭味,墙壁脏得要命,天花板变成了黑色。壁炉架上放着一尊陈旧的、让烟熏黑了的胸像,被告席的上方有一只挂满灰尘的挂钟——看来这是全场唯一正常运转的东西。每一样有生命的东西都带有罪恶或者贫穷的痕迹,要不就是与二者时有接触,一些没有生命的物体则在一旁皱眉观望,上边积了一层油腻腻的污垢,二者相比,差不多同样令人不快。

诺亚急切地向用眼睛搜寻机灵鬼,虽然有几个女人尽可胜任这位名角的母亲或者姐姐,一看就很像他父亲的男人也不止一个,却看不到一个人符合他所得到的达金斯先生的相貌说明。他疑虑重重,忐忑不安,直等到那两个被判收监再审的妇人昂首阔步地走出去,接着又出来一名囚犯,他立刻意识到出来的不是别人,正是自己要打听的对象,才很快走下心来。

来者果真是达金斯先生,他拖着鞋底走进法庭,宽大的外套衣袖和往常一样卷了起来,左手插在衣袋里,右手拿着帽子,身后跟着看守,那种摇摇摆摆的步伐简直难以描摹。到了被告席上,他用大家都能听见的声音问,为什么要把他安排在这么一个丢人现眼的位置。

“住嘴,听见没有?”看守说道。

“我是一个英国人,不是吗?”机灵鬼答道,“我的权利到哪儿去了?”

“要不了多久你就会得到你的权利了,”看守反驳道,“还要撒点胡椒。”

“我要是得不到我的权利的话,咱们看内政大臣对这些个铁嘴怎么说吧,”达金斯先生回答,“喂喂,这地方是怎么回事啊?我真要劳驾治安推事大人处置一下这件小事,他们看报纸也别耽搁我呀,我约了一位绅士在老城会面,我可是说话算话的人,而且在正经事上头非常守时,要是到时候我没在那儿,他会走掉的,那功夫兴许没法打官司,叫他们赔偿耽搁我的损失费了。噢,不,绝对不行!”

这当儿,机灵电煞有介事地摆出一副决心已定,马上就要打一场官司的样子,要求看守通报一下“坐在审判席的那两个滑头的名字”,逗得旁听的群众哄堂大笑,贝兹少爷如果听到他这样问笑起来也不过如此。

“肃静!”看守喝道。

“怎么回事?”一位治安推事问。

“一件扒窃钱包案子,大人。”

“这小孩从前来过这儿没有?”

“他照理来过多次了,”看守回答,“别处他也都去过。我对他非常了解,大人。”

“哦。你认识我,是吗?”机灵鬼嚷嚷起来,立刻抓住这句话不放。“很好。不管怎么说,这属于诽谤罪。”

又是一阵笑声,又响起一声“肃静”。

“哎,证人在哪儿?”书记员说道。

“啊。说的可也是,”机灵鬼加了一句,“证人在哪儿呢?我想见见他们。”

这一愿望立刻得到了满足,一个警察走上前来,他亲眼看见被告在人群中窥伺一位不知道姓名的绅士的衣袋,并且的的确确从该绅士衣袋里掏出了一张手巾,是一张很旧的手巾,在自己脸上指了一下,然后又不慌不忙地放回去了。鉴于这个原因,他一有机会走到近旁便立即拘留了机灵鬼。搜身的结果是查出银质鼻烟盒一只,盒盖上刻有物主的姓名。该绅士经查询《名绅录》业已找到,他当场宣誓鼻烟盒是他的,他昨天从前述人群中挤出来,一眨眼鼻烟盒就不见了。他曾注意到,人群中有一位小绅士挤来挤去特别卖力,而那位小绅士就是自己面前的这名被告。

“小孩,你有什么要问这位证人的吗?”治安推事说道。

“我不愿意降低身份跟他说什么话。”机灵鬼回答。

“你到底有没有什么要说的?”

“听见没有,大人问你有什么要说的?”看守用胳膊肘捅了一下默不作声的机灵鬼,问道。

“对不起,”机灵鬼心不在焉地抬起头来,“你是在跟我说话吗,哥们?”

“大人。我从来没见过这样十足的小无赖,”警察苦笑着说。“你就没什么要说的,小伙子?”

“不,” 机灵鬼回答,“不在这儿说,这儿不是讲公道的地方。再说了,我的律师今天早上要和下院副议长共进早餐,我有话可以上别处说去,他也一样,还有许许多多很有名望的熟人也是这样,管保会叫那帮铁嘴巴不得自己压根没有生下来,要不就是怪他们跟班今天早上出门之前没把自个儿挂在帽钉上,才整到我头上来了。我要—— ”

“好啦,可以收监了。”书记员没让他把话说完。“带下去。”

“走。”看守说道。

“哦哟。走就走,”机灵鬼用手掌掸了掸帽子,回答。“啊(面朝审判席),瞧你们那副熊样,怕也没用,我不会饶了你们的,半个子儿也不饶,你们会付出代价的,哥们。我才不跟你们一般见识。眼下你们就是跪下来求我,我也不走了。得了,带我上监狱去!把我带走吧!”

说完最后这几句话,机灵鬼给人揪住衣领带下去了,走到院子里,一路上还在扬言要告到议会去,随后,他又自我批准,当着看守的面,得意忘形地咧着嘴直笑。

诺亚亲眼看着他给单独关进一间小小的囚室,才铆足了劲朝与贝兹少爷分手的地方赶去。他在原地等了一会儿,才跟那位小绅士会合了。贝兹少爷躲在一个进退两便的处所,仔细地观察着四外,直到确信自己这位新朋友没有被什么不相干的人盯上,才小心翼翼地露面了。

他俩一块儿匆匆离去,替费金先生带去了令人鼓舞的消息,机灵鬼丝毫没有辜负师傅的栽培,正在为他自己创立辉煌的名声。