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"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.