by Charles Dickens
Oliver Twist Chapter 40 Summary
READ THE BOOK: Chapter 40
"A Strange Interview, which is a Sequel to the Last Chapter"
- The next day, Sikes is too busy eating and drinking with the money Fagin had sent to notice anything unusual about Nancy’s behavior.
- Nancy is waiting for Sikes to drink himself asleep when he finally asks her what she’s thinking to make her eyes all wild and her skin so flushed.
- He wants to know if she’s caught his fever, or if she’s agitated.
- Finally he falls into a heavy sleep, and Nancy is relieved—the laudanum has finally kicked in (apparently she put laudanum—a mixture of opium and alcohol—into his drink).
- She hurries out of the house, and books it across London in record time.
- She arrives at a family hotel in a street near Hyde Park (in the fancy west end of London), hesitates a bit, and then goes inside to ask to speak with Miss Maylie—alone.
- The servants are skeptical—what could this girl want with a sweet young lady like Miss Maylie?
- One of the servants feels sorry for her, and agrees to send the message to Miss Maylie.
- The other servants mumble and grumble self-righteously about it, loudly enough for Nancy to hear, but otherwise leave her alone.
- Miss Maylie comes down, and is so sweet that Nancy immediately bursts into tears.
- Of course Rose offers to help her in any way she can, even before knowing why Nancy’s there.
- Nancy tells her to hold off on offering to help before knowing who and what she is.
- She admits, first off, that she’s the one who helped to drag Oliver back to Fagin’s house from Mr. Brownlow’s.
- Rose is obviously surprised, and can’t help being horrified.
- Nancy says she doesn’t mind—she’s used to good women being horrified by her, and tells Rose to thank Heaven that she had people to bring her up and keep her from the streets, and that she (Nancy) was raised in the gutter.
- Rose pities her. Of course. She pities everybody.
- Nancy asks if she knows a man named Monks. Rose doesn’t.
- Nancy figures Monks must be a fake name, and goes on with her story.
- From what she overheard between Monks and Fagin, Monks had seen Oliver out with the Dodger and Charley on the day he was picked up by Brownlow. Monks offered Fagin a large sum of money if he could get Oliver back again, and make him a thief.
- That’s all Nancy overheard the first time, because Monks saw her shadow on the wall and she had to go hide.
- Then, the night before, Nancy heard Monks telling Fagin about how the proof of Oliver’s identity (the necklace and the ring) were at the bottom of the river.
- She also heard him mention Oliver’s father’s will, and how putting Oliver in jail would make a mockery of it, and finally, she heard Monks refer to his "young brother, Oliver."
- Rose is obviously surprised (aren’t we all), and asks whether Monks could have been serious.
- Nancy is convinced that he was, but says that she has to get back.
- Rose tries to convince her to stay, and offers to protect her from the thieves, and give her a quiet home somewhere far away.
- Nancy says it’s too late, and that she can’t be the death of "him" (Bill Sikes).
- Rose tries again to persuade Nancy to stay, but Nancy won’t.
- Nancy gets Rose to promise not to use the information she’s given her to arrest any of Fagin’s gang, and Rose agrees.
- Rose doesn’t know what to do with the information, anyway—and Nancy suggests that she tell some "kind gentleman" and ask his advice (provided, always, that Rose keeps her promise and doesn’t use the information to get any of the gang arrested).
- They make an arrangement that every Sunday, Nancy will walk on London Bridge between 11pm and midnight, and that if Rose needs to consult her about anything, she’ll look for her there.
- Rose tries one more time to convince Nancy to stay—she appeals to her as one woman to another.
- Nancy says that it’s love that makes her go, and asks for Rose’s pity, but nothing else.
- Nancy leaves, and Rose feels like it’s been all a bizarre dream.
READ THE BOOK: Chapter 40