by Charles Dickens
Oliver Twist Chapter 49 Summary
READ THE BOOK: Chapter 49
"Monks and Mr. Brownlow at Length Meet. Their Conversation, and the Intelligence that Interrupts it"
- Mr. Brownlow gets out of a hired coach (a cab, essentially) at his own house, and knocks on the door.
- After the front door is opened, two other men get out of the cab, and help a third man climb out.
- It’s Monks.
- Monks is obviously hesitant to enter the house.
- Brownlow says that if Monks refuses to go in, the other two men should drag him into the street, call for the police, and have him arrested as a felon in Brownlow’s name.
- Monks is indignant at having been kidnapped in the street, and Brownlow invites him to appeal to the police—if he does so, Brownlow will have him accused of robbery and fraud.
- Given the alternatives, Monks goes inside.
- Once they’re alone in Brownlow’s study, Monks takes off his hat and cloak, and complains at his treatment at the hands of "my father’s oldest friend" (49.18).
- Brownlow says that he takes particular interest in what Monks does because he was his father’s oldest friend, and would have married his father’s sister, if she hadn’t died the morning of their wedding day.
- And then he calls Monks by his real name (Edward Leeford), and says that he’s unworthy of that name.
- Brownlow then tells Monks that he knows about his younger brother.
- Monks plays dumb, forcing Brownlow to tell him the whole story (which is good, because even if Monks already knows it, we don’t).
- Brownlow’s best friend, Edward Leeford, was forced by his family into an early marriage to an older and awful woman.
- The young Edward Leeford, whom we know as Monks, was their only son.
- His parents hated each other, and were miserable.
- They were separated (but not divorced. Divorces were difficult to arrange, even in Anglican families, in those days).
- Monks’s mother went to "the continent" (i.e., Europe) with their son, and blew all her money on entertainment and clothes.
- Monks’s father stayed in England, and made friends with a retired navy officer and his two children.
- One of the children was a beautiful daughter.
- And as the navy officer grew to like Monks’s father and to love him as a friend, the daughter likewise fell in love with him.
- At the end of a year, they were engaged.
- Monks, meanwhile, is acting very skeptical about all of this.
- But Brownlow continues the story, anyway.
- Around the time that Monks’s father fell in love with his friends’ daughter, a rich relative died and left him a lot of money, but required him to travel to Rome to deal with the will.
- Monks’s mother was in Paris, and traveled to Rome with Monks (who was then only a boy) to meet him there.
- Monks’s father got sick and died in Rome just a day after his wife and son arrived, leaving no will, so the whole of the estate—including the money the rich relative had just left him—went to his wife and son.
- Monks gets very eager at this point in the story.
- Brownlow tells him that, before his father had left for Rome, he’d gone through London to see his old friend, Brownlow, and had left a few things with him that he couldn’t take abroad.
- Monks is unpleasantly surprised.
- One of the things Monks’s father left was a portrait he’d made of the girl he was in love with.
- He told Brownlow that he was planning on selling everything he’d inherited, taking the money, and leaving England forever.
- He didn’t tell Brownlow that he was planning on leaving with a girl, but Brownlow was smart enough to guess that much.
- But he never saw his friend again, because he died when he arrived in Rome.
- After his friend died, Brownlow went to visit the girl, and the scene of his friend’s "guilty love," as he put it (because Monks’s father was still married, and couldn’t legitimately engage himself to this other girl).
- But the family had left the neighborhood, and no one could tell him why or where they had gone.
- Monks looks pleased at this.
- Then Brownlow tells Monks that he had rescued his brother (Oliver) from a life of crime when Oliver had been cast into his life as if by fate.
- Monks is surprised and less pleased about this.
- Brownlow tells Monks how startled he’d been by the resemblance between Oliver and the portrait his dead friend had made of his special lady.
- However, Oliver had been stolen away before he was able to tell Brownlow his story—but then, Brownlow tells Monks, you knew that.
- Monks denies it.
- Brownlow is unimpressed with his denial, and says that, since Monks’s mother was dead, he knew that only Monks could clear up the mystery, so he left London for the West Indies, which was the last place where he’d heard Monks was living.
- But Monks had long since left, and had come back to London.
- So Brownlow had returned to London, looking for Monks, and had only just found him.
- Monks still denies everything. He says that a resemblance between some orphan boy and a dead man’s painting of his old lover doesn’t prove a thing, especially given that Brownlow has no proof that a baby was ever born to his father and his second lover.
- Brownlow admits that he didn’t have proof, but that he has gotten all the proof he needed within the last couple of weeks.
- Brownlow continues his narrative as a string of accusations against Monks: there was a will that Monks’s father left, but that his mother had destroyed, that made reference to the child of the young lady.
- Monks accidentally ran into the child, whose resemblance to his father caught his attention. So Monks went to the place where the child was born, to discover—and destroy—the proofs of his parentage.
- Brownlow then quotes Monks’s own words back at him (words that had been overheard and repeated by Nancy), and tells him that not a single word or action was unknown to him.
- Monks is pretty terrified by this point, especially when Brownlow tells him that he was indirectly responsible for the murder of Nancy by Sikes.
- Monks is terrified by all these accusations, and agrees to tell the whole story, sign his name to it in front of witnesses, and fulfill the provisions of his father’s will to Oliver.
- Just as all this has been agreed to, Mr. Losberne bursts in, and tells them that the murderer is going to be arrested that very night – his dog had been seen lurking around a house by the river, and the government is offering a reward of a hundred pounds.
- Brownlow offers fifty more.
- He tells Monks to stay where he is until they get back, or they’ll go to the police with the whole story.
- They lock him in, and agree on meeting the day after tomorrow to write the whole thing down in front of witnesses.
- Brownlow takes off for the police office so that he’ll be in time to see Sikes caught, and Losberne stays behind to look after Monks.
READ THE BOOK: Chapter 49
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