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Oliver Twist

Oliver Twist

by Charles Dickens

Oliver Twist Chapter 47 Summary

"Fatal Consequences"

  • The chapter opens with Fagin looking like hell – bloodshot eyes and pale – sitting up in the middle of the night.
  • Noah is sleeping on the floor nearby.
  • He’s thinking about what Noah has told him, and is torn between rage at Nancy for daring to tell secrets to strangers, and distrust at her promise to them that she would never betray him.
  • Then the bell rings – it’s Sikes.
  • Fagin gives him a funny look, and Sikes asks what’s up.
  • Fagin breaks it to him slowly: first he asks Sikes what he’d do if Noah (who’s still sleeping at their feet) had betrayed them.
  • Sikes says (predictably) that he’d murder the kid.
  • Fagin then asks, what if he, Fagin, had betrayed them all?
  • Sikes gets enraged just from the suggestion, and says that he’d murder him, too, and describes how he’d do it in gory detail.
  • What if it were Charley, or the Dodger?
  • Sikes would treat them all the same.
  • Having gotten Sikes up to this pitch of rage, Fagin wakes up Noah (they’re still calling him by his fake name, Bolter), and asks him to tell Sikes what he’d heard by the bridge.
  • Before Noah can repeat it, Fagin sums it up, and Noah just has to confirm it.
  • Then Fagin gets Noah to repeat Nancy’s explanation of why she hadn’t come the week before – because Bill had kept her home by force, and that she’d only been able to get out before by drugging him with laudanum.
  • Noah thought that was the funniest part of the whole thing.
  • Bill Sikes isn’t so amused.
  • He’s in a total rage, and tries to break out of Fagin’s grasp.
  • Fagin stops him, and tells him not to be too violent for safety – they understand each other.
  • Sikes runs home, and bursts into the room.
  • Nancy is lying in the bed, half dressed.
  • She’s happy to see him back.
  • He tells her to get up, and throws the lit candle into the fire.
  • She starts to open the curtains, but he tells her not to bother – there’s enough light already for what he has to do.
  • Nancy starts to get alarmed, and Sikes grabs her and puts a hand over her mouth.
  • Nancy promises not to scream, and demands to know what she’s done.
  • Sikes tells her that she was watched, and that every word she said was overheard.
  • Nancy knows she’s in for it – she clings to him, and asks him to spare her life, since she refused to betray him. She swears up and down that she never betrayed him, and begs him not to kill her for the sake of his own soul.
  • She tells him about the little home, far away, that the young lady had offered her, but that she had refused for his sake, and asks that they both leave London, and live far away from each other and try to forget all their past crimes.
  • Sikes pulls his pistol out, and is about to shoot her when he realizes what a huge noise that would make.
  • So he beats her in the face with it as hard as he can.
  • Nancy falls to the ground, and pulls herself up on her knees, clutching Rose’s white handkerchief in her hands.
  • Sikes staggers back, grabs a heavy club, and strikes her to the ground.

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