by Charles Dickens
Oliver Twist Chapter 42 Summary
READ THE BOOK: Chapter 42
"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.
READ THE BOOK: Chapter 42