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Oliver Twist

Oliver Twist

by Charles Dickens

Oliver Twist Chapter 14 Summary

"Comprising Further Particulars of Oliver’s Stay at Mr. Brownlow’s, with the Remarkable Prediction which one Mr. Grimwig Uttered Concerning him, When He Went Out on an Errand"

  • We’re back with Oliver at Mr. Brownlow’s house, now. Oliver has recovered from his fainting-fit, and wakes to see that Mr. Brownlow has taken the portrait out of his room entirely. Mrs. Bedwin explains that it’s because seeing the portrait got him over-excited, and Oliver doesn’t argue.
  • To avoid talking about the portrait, Mrs. Bedwin launches into a looooong description of her children, and their children, and how dutiful they all are. Then she teaches him how to play cribbage (it’s a board game – you move little pegs around the board. People still play it, believe it or not, and it’s actually kind of fun).
  • Now that Oliver’s better, Mr. Brownlow thinks it’s time for Oliver to have a new suit of clothes. Oliver takes his old clothes and sells them to a used-clothing salesman (like taking them to Goodwill, or selling them to a resale shop), and gives the money to a servant who’s been nice to him.
  • Mr. Brownlow asks to see Oliver in his study, and after Mrs. Bedwin has fussed over his collar for a few minutes, Oliver goes.
  • Mr. Brownlow sees how curious Oliver is about all of the books in his study, so they have a brief conversation about whether Oliver might want to read them all (Mr. Brownlow says some of them aren’t worth the effort), or whether Oliver would want to write a book himself one day. Oliver says he’d much rather be a book-seller than an author.
  • Mr. Brownlow then turns more serious, and basically tells Oliver that he’s been disappointed in people many, many times, but that he trusts Oliver. He hopes that telling Oliver how many times he’s been crushed by disappointment will keep Oliver from hurting him again. No pressure, Oliver!
  • Just as Oliver has finished crying (Mr. Brownlow’s speech was, after all, a tearjerker), and is just starting to tell his story to Mr. Brownlow, they are interrupted by a servant, who announces that Mr. Grimwig has arrived.
  • Mr. Grimwig comes into the room and is clearly in a bad mood – he says it’s because he tripped on some orange peel in the stairway, and says that orange peel will be the death of him, or he’ll "eat his own head." That seems to be a favorite expression of his.
  • Mr. Brownlow calms Mr. Grimwig down on the subject of orange peels, and introduces him to Oliver.
  • Mr. Grimwig might have been inclined to like Oliver, but the orange peel has put him out and he refuses to acknowledge anything good about Oliver until Oliver has proven himself.
  • An opportunity for Oliver to prove himself presents itself almost immediately: a pile of books is delivered from the bookseller we met in chapter ten, but not all of them were paid for, and some need to be returned.
  • Mr. Brownlow is just as eager for Oliver to prove himself to Mr. Grimwig as Oliver is, so he sends Oliver out on the errand, with a stack of books to return, and a five pound note (quite a lot of money) and instructions to bring back the change.
  • Mr. Grimwig bets that Oliver won’t come back, but will make off with the books and the money and go back to the thieves, and Mr. Brownlow insists that he’ll be back within twenty minutes.
  • They set the watch on the table and watch the minutes tick by, but Oliver doesn’t come back.

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