Oliver Twist Chapter 24 Summary
"Treats of a Very Poor Subject, but is a Short One, and May be Found of Importance in this History"
- The old lady who came to get Mrs. Corney is withered and ugly, but Dickens launches into a long explanation of why so many people are withered and ugly – it’s because they have so much to stress about, but no worries – everyone’s face looks better (i.e., less anxious) when they’re dead!
- When Mrs. Corney gets to the room where the sick woman is, she meets with a young man who is the apothecary’s apprentice [note that they didn’t call a doctor, or even the real apothecary (apothecaries were the ones who mixed up medicines) – they called the apothecary’s apprentice. He’s not even licensed yet.].
- Mrs. Corney and the apothecary’s apprentice exchange pleasantries – they seem to know each other well.
- They hear the old lady moan, which reminds them to check on her. The apothecary’s apprentice thinks she’s almost dead, and Mrs. Corney sits on the foot of the bed to wait it out.
- The apothecary’s apprentice, meanwhile, has been making a toothpick, and starts using it. Then he gets bored, and leaves.
- The old lady who had gone to get Mrs. Corney starts speaking in a low voice with the other old woman – who was also helping with the sick woman – about how "old Sally" was doing.
- Mrs. Corney gets impatient, and tells the two old women not to bother her for nothing.
- Just as she’s about to leave, old Sally sits up in bed and grabs hold of her arm, and says she has to tell her something, and that it’s for her ears alone (the other two women complain a lot, but finally leave the room).
- Old Sally confesses that, many years ago (she doesn’t remember the year), she had attended a sick pretty young woman who had given birth to a baby and then died, and that she had robbed the woman of some gold ornament she’d had hanging around her neck.
- Old Sally said that the mother told her that a day might come when her baby wouldn’t be ashamed to hear her name mentioned, and would find some friends in the world.
- Mrs. Corney of course wants to know the boy’s name, and old Sally says that they called him Oliver.
- And old Sally dies before she can say what the gold was, or any more about it.
- Mrs. Corney leaves casually, without indicating to the two old women (who have come back in to deal with the corpse) that old Sally had said anything at all important.