by Charles Dickens
Oliver Twist Chapter 19 Summary
READ THE BOOK: Chapter 19
"In Which a Notable Plan is Discussed and Determined On."
- Fagin is walking through the streets in a seedy neighborhood of London, and walks up the steps to a house there.
- Bill Sikes meets him at the door, along with the growling dog.
- Fagin seems nervous when he sees Nancy—he’s afraid she’ll still be mad about Oliver, and he hasn’t seen her since.
- Sikes offers Fagin a drink, but Fagin hardly touches it.
- Sikes assumes it’s because Fagin doesn’t want to be tipsy when they talk business, because that could give Sikes the upper hand.
- Sikes glugs the brandy for him, and declares that he, at least, is now ready to talk shop.
- Fagin wants to know if everything’s all set to rob a house in Chertsey (a cute little village at that time that was just outside of London).
- Sikes says sorry, but nope.
- Fagin’s shocked—he assumes they haven’t gone about it properly.
- Sikes explains that Toby Crackit has been hanging around the place for two weeks wearing fancy clothes, trying to seduce one of the servants, but it hasn’t worked. He even tried wearing a fake mustache and military trousers. No dice.
- Fagin’s disappointed, and says so.
- After a few minutes’ pause, Sikes says that there’s still a way to break into the house from the outside (the Toby Crackit method would be to let Sikes in from the inside, after smooching with the servants), but he’d need to borrow a small boy.
- Fagin guesses at the method Sikes has in mind—there must be some panel that’s easily lifted off the outside of the house, through which a small boy could fit and then open up the house for the men.
- It’s on the tip of his tongue to suggest Oliver, but then Fagin remembers how upset Nancy got the last time she was around for part of Oliver’s "miseducation."
- Nancy insists that she’s fine with it, and glugs a glass of brandy and laughs really loudly to prove it.
- Sikes isn’t so sure about Oliver, since he’s so inexperienced, but he is just the right size (Charley and the Dodger are too big).
- Fagin is excited—he thinks Oliver’s ready, and that helping to commit this one crime will make him "ours—ours for his life!" (19.83).
- Nancy and Sikes wonder why Fagin is so obsessed with corrupting Oliver, when there are so many boys out there who would be easier to corrupt.
- Fagin seems "confused" at how to answer this question—he stammers out that other boys’ "looks convict ’em when they get in trouble, and I lose ’em all" (19.87).
- Fagin quickly gets himself together, and insists that Oliver’s in it for good, now, because if he got caught in the act while robbing the house, he’d be in the same boat with the rest of them.
- Nancy asks when it’s to be done, and Sikes says the day after tomorrow.
- Fagin asks a few more logistical questions about how they’re going to carry off the swag, and Sikes reassures him that it’s all taken care of.
- It’s agreed upon that Nancy will be the one to pick Oliver up before his mission, because he’s more likely to trust her.
- It’s also agreed upon that Sikes will be in total control of Oliver during the robbery, and if he decides to shoot Oliver, or if Oliver gets "lost" on the way, well, that’s his call.
- Now that it’s all arranged, Sikes starts drinking hard.
- Fagin says good night to Nancy, and gives her a hard look—he clearly doesn’t trust her, but she seems in perfect earnest.
- Fagin heads home, and asks if Oliver is in bed—he is, and Fagin decides not to wake him up, and the chapter ends ominously, as usual, with Fagin standing creepily over the sleeping Oliver.
READ THE BOOK: Chapter 19