Oliver Twist
Oliver Twist
by Charles Dickens
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Oliver Twist Chapter 42 Summary

"An Old Acquaintance of Oliver’s, Exhibiting Decided Marks of Genius, Becomes a Public Character in the Metropolis"

  • The same night Nancy drugs Sikes and goes to see Rose Maylie, a man and woman are walking towards London along the Great North Road.
  • The man is tall and lanky, and the woman is sturdy, and carrying a huge bag.
  • The man keeps urging her to hurry up, even though he’s not carrying anything himself.
  • It’s our old friends, Noah Claypole and Charlotte, from the Sowerberry’s house.
  • Charlotte asks Noah how much further it is, and he tells her it’s still plenty far, and to stop resting and hurry up.
  • Charlotte wants to stop at the first inn or public house they can find, but Noah says that that won’t do – they’ll stop at an out-of-the-way place, and not somewhere on the main road into London, in case they’re pursued.
  • Charlotte says that if she’s caught and locked up, he will be, too.
  • He says that she’s the one who took the money.
  • But she took it for him, she says, and carries it for him because he trusts her.
  • He doesn’t argue with her – really, though, he made her take it, and carry it, so that if they were caught he’d be able to blame it all on her.
  • They make their way into London, and don’t stop until they see a very dirty public house called the "Three Cripples."
  • They go on in, and the only person is a young Jewish man behind the bar.
  • Noah asks if they can stay there the night, and Barney (our old friend) says he’ll go and ask.
  • Meanwhile, Noah asks for some dinner and ale, which they’re given in a backroom a few steps down behind the bar.
  • What Noah doesn’t know is that there’s a small opening behind the bar so that people can spy on the backroom from the bar.
  • Fagin comes into the bar, and Barney has him listen in on their conversation.
  • Fagin likes what he hears: they’re discussing the stolen money, of course, and what they plan on doing with it, and how they plan on stealing more.
  • They say that they’ll need to find a good gang to get on the right track, especially since the money they stole is in a large banknote that they don’t know how to dispose of.
  • So without further ado, Fagin walks in on their conversation.
  • He sits at the table next to theirs, and orders a drink.
  • He makes chitchat with them for a moment about their arrival in the city from the country, and then repeats some of their conversation back to them.
  • Noah’s alarmed, and ready to blame everything on Charlotte.
  • Fagin tells him to chill, since he’s in the business (of theft) himself, and can get them in with a "friend" who will put them on the right track.
  • Noah sends Charlotte upstairs with the bundles, and has another word in private with Fagin.
  • He asks Fagin if his "friend" is at the top of his business – of course, Fagin says yes.
  • Fagin says that he’d have to "hand over" – i.e., give up the money he’s already stolen.
  • Noah’s reluctant to do that, but asks what he’d be paid by Fagin’s "friend."
  • Fagin replies that the wages include room and board, tobacco, liquor, and half all he and Charlotte both earn.
  • Of course, Noah realizes that if he says no, Fagin knows enough to have him arrested and hanged, so he says yes. The wages seem pretty good, anyway.
  • Noah says that Charlotte will be able to work a lot for them both, so he’d like to do something easy, and not too dangerous.
  • Fagin suggests stealing purses from old ladies, but that’s too dangerous for Noah.
  • Finally, Fagin suggests stealing from little kids who are sent out on errands.
  • Noah gives Fagin fake names – Mr. and Mrs. Morris Bolter.
  • Of course, Charlotte immediately blows their cover by calling him "Noah" in front of Fagin.
  • Fagin doesn’t really care, and tells them good night.

Next Page: Chapter 43
Previous Page: Chapter 41

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