by Charles Dickens
Oliver Twist Chapter 31 Summary
READ THE BOOK: Chapter 31
"Involves a Critical Position"
- Brittles answers the door, and the two Bow-street officers, named Duff and Blathers, come right on in and make themselves at home. Well—Blathers makes himself at home. Duff doesn’t seem to be all that comfortable in such fancy surroundings, so he’s a little more awkward.
- They sit down with Mrs. Maylie, Rose, and Mr. Losberne, and Mr. Losberne tells them the whole story of the attempted robbery, and really draws it out because he’s trying to buy time.
- Blathers and Duff believe that the robbery wasn’t committed by a "yokel"—i.e., it must have been someone from the city.
- Then they ask about the boy, because the servants had mentioned him in connection with the robbery.
- Mr. Losberne says that the boy had had nothing to do with the robbery, but that "one of the frightened servants" started the rumor that he had.
- Mr. Blathers asks where the boy came from, then.
- Mr. Losberne tries not to look nervous, and offers to show the officers the place where the robbers had tried to break in.
- The officers agree that they had better check out the place first.
- Then they ask Mr. Giles and Brittles to go through the events of the night before about six times each, and they start contradicting each other more and more, with each repetition.
- Blathers and Duff deliberate for a while by themselves.
- While they’re alone, Rose, Mrs. Maylie, and Mr. Losberne discuss whether or not to repeat Oliver’s story to the officers. Rose is certain that the truth of the story will get Oliver off, but Mr. Losberne isn’t convinced—he thinks that they’d arrest him because there’s no proof for any of it, except for the bad stuff.
- Blathers and Duff return from inspecting the premises, and announce that the robbers had done a good job, and obviously had had a boy with them, based on the size of the window.
- So of course they want to see the boy upstairs.
- Mr. Losberne offers them a drink first, which they gladly accept.
- As they drink, they launch into a story about a burglary their friend, Jem Spyers, had investigated.
- So Blathers starts telling the story about Conkey Chickweed, and how he’d had his life savings stolen out from under his nose—
- Meanwhile, Mr. Losberne steps out of the room briefly, and then returns.
- —and so Chickweed was so upset he ranted for days and then hired an investigator, just to keep up appearances, but in reality (as Jem Spyers discovered), he’d robbed himself.
- At the end of the story, Mr. Losberne invites them upstairs.
- Oliver is too feverish at this point to answer any questions, so Mr. Losberne just points him out to the officers, and says that he was a boy who was accidentally shot by a hunting gun while trespassing on some neighbor’s property, and came to their house for help, only to be jumped on by Mr. Giles and the others because they mistook him for one of the robbers.
- Mr. Giles is very confused, and ends up saying that he couldn’t swear it was the same boy, after all —in fact, he’s almost certain it isn’t.
- Duff and Blathers think Giles is an idiot, so they ask Brittles. Poor Brittles has no idea anymore.
- The question actually gets raised whether Mr. Giles shot anyone at all, and so they inspect his gun.
- They find that it’s got powder and wadding in it, but no bullet.
- (That’s what Mr. Losberne was doing when he left the room during the Jem Spyers/Conkey Chickweed story)
- Finally Blathers and Duff leave, fully convinced that Oliver had nothing to do with the attempted burglary.
- The chapter ends with Oliver in the "united care of Mrs. Maylie, Rose, and the kind-hearted Mr. Losberne."
READ THE BOOK: Chapter 31