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The old man was up, betimes, next morning, and waited impatiently for the appearance of his new associate, who after a delay that seemed interminable, at length presented himself, and commenced a voracious assault on the breakfast. 'Bolter,' said Fagin, drawing up a chair and seating himself opposite Morris Bolter. 'Well, here I am,' returned Noah.

'What's the matter?

Don't yer ask me to do anything till I have done eating. That's a great fault in this place.

Yer never get time enough over yer meals.' 'You can talk as you eat, can't you?' said Fagin, cursing his dear young friend's greediness from the very bottom of his heart. 'Oh yes, I can talk.

I get on better when I talk,' said Noah, cutting a monstrous 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 had evidently sat down with a determination to do a great deal of business. 'You did well yesterday, my dear,' said Fagin.

'Beautiful!

Six shillings and ninepence halfpenny on the very first day!

The kinchin lay will be a fortune to 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-can was a perfect masterpiece.' 'Pretty well, I think, for a beginner,' remarked Mr. Bolter complacently.

'The pots I took off airy railings, and the milk-can was standing by itself outside a public-house.

I thought it might get rusty with the rain, or catch cold, yer know.

Eh?

Ha! ha! ha!' Fagin affected to laugh very heartily; and Mr. Bolter having had his laugh out, took a series of large bites, which finished his first hunk of bread and butter, and assisted himself to a second. 'I want you, Bolter,' said Fagin, leaning over the table, 'to do a piece of work for me, my dear, that needs great care and caution.' 'I say,' rejoined Bolter, 'don't yer go shoving me into danger, or sending me any more o' yer police-offices. That don't suit me, that don't; and so I tell yer.' '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 cunning sneak 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, if possible, what she says; to remember the street, if it is a street, or the house, 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 his employer, eagerly, in the face. 'If you do it well, a pound, my dear.

One pound,' said Fagin, wishing to interest him in the scent as much as possible.

'And that's what I never gave yet, for any job of work where there wasn't valuable consideration to be gained.' '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,' replied Fagin. 'I see,' said Noah.

'Just to have the pleasure of knowing them, if they're respectable 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 for her?

Where am I to go?' 'All that, my dear, you shall hear from me.

I'll point her out at the proper time,' 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 equipped in his carter's dress:

ready to turn out at a word from Fagin.

Six nights passed--six long weary nights--and on each, Fagin came home with a disappointed face, and briefly intimated that it was not yet time.

On the seventh, he returned 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 back much before daybreak.

Come with me. Quick!' Noah started up without saying a word; for the Jew was in a state of such intense excitement that it infected him.

They left the house stealthily, and hurrying 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 night of his arrival in London. It was past eleven o'clock, and the door was closed.

It opened softly on its hinges as Fagin gave a low whistle. They entered, without noise; and the door was 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 to Noah, and signed to him to climb up and observe the person in the adjoining room. '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 the candle is behind her. 'Stay there,' whispered Fagin.

He signed to Barney, who withdrew.

In an instant, the lad entered the room adjoining, and, under pretence of snuffing the 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. 'Plainly?' 'I should know her among a thousand.' He hastily descended, as the room-door opened, and the girl came out.

Fagin drew him behind a small partition which was curtained off, and they held their breaths as she passed within a few feet of their place of concealment, and emerged 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 other side.' 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 considered prudent, and kept on the opposite side of the street, the better to observe her motions. She looked nervously round, twice or thrice, and once stopped to let two men who were following close behind her, pass on.

She seemed to gather courage as she advanced, and to walk with a steadier and firmer step.

The spy preserved the same relative distance between them, and followed:

with his eye upon her.

(诺亚·克雷波尔受雇为费金执行一项秘密使命。)

第二天,费金老头儿一清早就起来了。他焦躁地等候着自己的新伙计露面,左等右等,也不知等了多久,新伙计才来,并当即开始狼吞虎咽地吃早餐。

“波尔特。”费金拉过来一把椅子,在莫里斯·波尔特对面坐了下来,开口说道。

“唔,我在这儿呢,”诺亚回答,“什么事?我吃完东西以前,任你什么事儿也别叫我做。你们这个地方就这点不好,吃顿饭的时间都不给够。”

“你可以边吃边谈嘛,对不对?”费金嘴里这么说,心底深处却在咒骂这位可爱的年轻朋友也太能吃了。

“噢,行啊,可以。我边吃边谈还更舒服一些,”诺亚说着,切下一片大得吓人的面包。“夏洛蒂呢?”

“没在,”费金说道,“我今儿早上打发她和另一个小娘们上街去了,我想单独跟你谈谈。”

“噢。”诺亚说道,“你该叫她先做一些黄油面包。唔,说吧,你不会妨碍我的。”

看起来的确无需过分担心有什么东西会妨碍他的胃口,他刚才坐下来的时候就明摆着要大干一番。

“昨天你干得不赖,亲爱的,”费金说道,“真棒。头天开张就是六先令九个半便士。收娃娃税会让你发财的。”

“你别忘了,还有三只耳锅,一把牛奶壶。”波尔特先生声明。

“忘不了,忘不了,亲爱的。耳锅都是些天才大手笔,牛奶壶也算得上十全十美的杰作。”

“对于一位生手来说,我认为已经很不错了,”波尔特先生大言不惭,“锅子是我从晾杆上取下来的,那把奶壶自个儿站在一家小酒馆外边。我心想碰上下雨它可要长锈或者着凉什么的,这你知道,哦?哈哈哈!”

费金装出笑得非常开心的样子,波尔特先生大笑之余,一连咬了几大口,把第一块黄油面包给解决掉了,又开始对付第二块。

“我找你,波尔特,”费金往桌上俯下身来,说道,“替我办件事,亲爱的,这事需要非常小心谨慎。”

“我说,”波尔特回答,“你就别支着我去冒险,或者派我上你那个什么轻罪法庭了吧。那种事对我不合适,不合适,我先跟你说一声。”

“这事一点危险也没有——连最小最小的危险也没有,”老犹太说,“不就是和个女人玩玩捉迷藏。”

“是个老婆子?”波尔特先生问道。

“年轻的。”费金回答。

“这可是我的拿手好戏,我有数。”波尔特说道,“我在学校里就是公认的告密老手。我干吗要盯她的梢?要不要——”

“什么事也不用做,只要告诉我,她去了什么地方,碰见谁来着,如果可能的话,她说了些什么。如果是在街上,就把那条街记住,如果是一户人家,就记住那家人,把你探听到的情况统统给我带回来。”

“你付我多少钱?”诺亚放下杯子,眼睛紧盯着自己的雇主。

“只要你干得好,我付你一个英镑,亲爱的,一英镑。”费金说道,一心指望尽量把他的兴趣引过来。“为了办一件也没什么油水的事,我还从来没给过这个数呢。”

“她是什么人?”诺亚问道。

“我们的人。”

“哦哟。”诺亚把鼻子一皱,嚷道,“你疑心她了吧,是不?”

“她交了些个新朋友,亲爱的,我必须弄清楚他们是什么人。”费金回答。

“明白了,”诺亚说道,“纯粹是为了了解他们,看他们是不是正派人,啊?哈哈哈!愿为阁下效劳。”

“我知道你会的。”费金见自己的计划成功了,大为高兴,不由得大叫起来。

“当然,当然,”诺亚回答,“她在什么地方?我上哪儿等她?我得上哪儿去?”

“那些事,亲爱的,你就听我的好了。我会在适当的时候把她交待给你,”费金说道,“你做好准备,其余的事交给我来办。”

当天夜里,以及第二天,第三天的晚上,这名密探坐在家里,他穿好靴子,浑身车夫打扮,只等费金一声令下立刻出动。六个晚上过去了——六个漫长难熬的夜晚—— 每天夜里,费金回来的时候都带着一脸的沮丧,说一句时候未到。第七天夜里,他回来得早一些,满脸掩饰不住的狂喜。这天是星期天。

“今天晚上她出来了,”费金说道,“肯定是同一件差使,错不了。她整天只身一人,而她害怕的那个人天亮前是回不来的了。跟我来。快!”

诺亚二话不说,拔腿就走,因为老犹太处于极度兴奋的状态,连他也受到感染。两人蹑手蹑脚地离开住所,匆匆穿过一大片错综复杂的街巷,最后来到一家客店门前,诺亚认出来了,这就是自己初到伦敦住过一晚的那家客店。

已经十一点过了,店门关闭着。费金轻轻吹了一声口哨,门缓缓打开,他们悄没声地走进去,门又在他们身后关上了。

费金和替他们开门的那个年轻的犹太人简直连低声说话也不敢,两人打了几句哑语,向诺亚指了一下那块玻璃,打着手势要他爬上去,看清隔壁房间里那个人。

“是不是那个女的?”他问,声音几乎和呼吸一样轻。

费金点头称是。

“我看不清她的脸,”诺亚低声说道,“她埋着头,蜡烛又在她身子后边。”

“呆着别动。”费金打着耳语,朝巴尼做了个手势,那人退了出去。转眼间,小伙子走进了隔壁房间,以剪烛花为幌子,将蜡烛移到所需要的位置,一边与那姑娘搭讪,有意引她扬起脸来。

“这下我瞧见她了。”暗探叫道。

“看清楚了?”

“一千个人里边我也认得出她。”

房门开了,姑娘走了出来,他赶紧退下去。费金拽着他躲到一块挂着帘子的小隔板后边,两个人屏住呼吸,姑娘从离他们的藏身之处只有几步的地方走过去,又从他们进来的那道门出去了。

“嘘!”小伙子打开门,叫道,“是时候了。”

诺亚与费金交换了一个眼色,便冲了出去。

“往左,”小伙子低声说道,“向左拐弯,走马路对面。”

他照着做了,借着路灯认出了姑娘渐渐远去的身影,她已经走了一段距离。诺亚在他认为不失谨慎的限度内尽量靠近对方,一直走在街的对面,这样更便于观察她的举动。姑娘紧张地接连回头看去,还停下来了一次,让两个紧紧跟在她身后的男人走过去。看来她一边走一边在替自己鼓劲,步子变得更沉稳更坚定了。那个包打听一直与她保持着这样的距离,目光盯在她身上,尾随在后。