by Charles Dickens
Oliver Twist Chapter 22 Summary
READ THE BOOK: Chapter 22
- Bill Sikes and Oliver walk into the old house, and are greeted in the dark by Toby Crackit, who throws things at the sleeping Barney until he wakes up enough to light a candle.
- Toby is wearing fancy-looking but cheaply-made clothes, and is stretched out on a table, smoking a long pipe.
- Oliver is quickly introduced to Toby.
- The men sit down to a small supper, and have a drink of some liquor to toast success to their plan.
- Toby and Sikes make Oliver have half a glass, too, which makes him cough terribly.
- The three men stretch out for a short nap before they go to work, but Oliver can’t really sleep.
- They get up at about 1:30 a.m., and put on heavy, long coats and shawls that partially hide their faces, and load up their gear—most of which is listed in thieves’ cant, so it’s hard to tell exactly what they’re taking. Some of it Dickens translates, though—"barkers" are the pistols, and "bits of timber" are thick sticks.
- Oliver’s pretty out of it with the all the walking and the booze they made him drink, so he hardly knows what’s going on as they take him out between them.
- They hurry through the main street of the town, even though it’s unlikely anyone would be awake to see them (it’s foggy and dark).
- They go up to a house about a quarter mile outside of the town.
- Toby climbs over the wall quickly, and then Sikes hands Oliver over the wall before climbing over himself.
- Now Oliver realizes for the first time (he’s not very quick) that they’re about to rob the house, if not murder people.
- Oliver’s horrified, and cries out to Sikes to let him run off, and promises that he’ll never go back to London.
- Sikes is about to shoot him, when Toby knocks the pistol out of his hand and slaps a hand over Oliver’s mouth to keep him quiet, and tells him to hush, or he’ll kill him by bopping him on the head, which is a quieter way to do the same thing.
- Most of the windows of the house are barred, but there’s one in a back kitchen that isn’t—Sikes and Toby pull off its shutter with the crowbar, and then the lattice so that the window is wide open.
- Sikes gives Oliver a "dark lantern" (one that doesn’t throw light very far, or very brightly), and tells Oliver what he has to do: go straight up the stairs in the room, down the hall to the front door, and unlock it.
- They pass him through the window, and Sikes points the pistol at Oliver’s head.
- They think they hear something, but Sikes sends Oliver ahead anyway.
- Oliver’s decided that he’s going to make an effort to wake the family up to warn them, so he starts sneaking forward.
- Just then, Sikes calls him to come back.
- Oliver drops his lantern, and another light appears in the hallway ahead of him.
- There’s a loud noise and a flash (that’s how Oliver perceives it) and he staggers backward.
- (Check out the Cruikshank illustration to this scene.)
- Sikes shoots his pistol from the window after the men (who are already retreating back up the stairs), and then drags Oliver back out the window.
- He realizes that Oliver’s been hit, so he wraps him in a shawl and runs off with him.
READ THE BOOK: Chapter 22