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brought an action against his countenance for libel, and have recovered heavy damages.
The old gentleman bowed respectfully, and, advancing to the magistrate's desk, said, suiting the action to the word, " That is my name and address, sir.” He then withdrew a pace or two; and, with another polite and gentlemanly inclination of the head, waited to be questioned.
Now, it so happened that Mr. Fang was at that moment perusing a leading article in a newspaper of the morning, adverting to some recent decision of his, and commending him, for the three hundred and fiftieth time, to the special and particular notice of the Secretary of State for the Home Department. He was out of temper, and he looked up with an angry scowl.
“ Who are you ?" said Mr. Fang.
Officer?" said Mr. Fang, tossing the card contemptuously away with the newspaper, “who is this fellow ?"
“My name, sir.” said the old gentleman, speaking like a gentleman, and consequently in strong contrast to Mr. Fang,-“my name, sir, is Brownlow. Permit me to inquire the name of the magistrate who offers a gratuitous and unprovoked insult to a respectable man, under the protection of the bench ?" Saying this, Mr. Brownlow looked round the office, as if in search of some person who would afford him the required information.
“Officer!" said Mr. Fang, throwing the paper on one side, “what's this fellow charged with ?” “He's not charged at all, your worship," replied the officer.
“ He appears against the boy, your worship.”
His worship knew this perfectly well; but it was a good annoyance and a safe one.
“ Appears against the boy, does he ?'' said Fang, surveying Mr. Brownlow contemptuously, from head to foot. “Swear him." ”
“ Before I am sworn, I beg to say one word,” said Mr. Brownlow; " and that is, that I never, without actual experience, could have be. lieved”
“ Hold your tongue, sir!" said Mr. Fang peremptorily. “I will not, sir!" replied the spirited old gentleman.
“ Hold your tongue this instant, or I'll have you turned out of the office !” said Mr. Fang. "You're an insolent, impertinent fellow. How dare you bully a magistrate !"
“What?” exclaimed the old gentieman, reddening.
“Swear this person!” said Fang to the clerk. • I'll not hear an. other word. Swear him!”
Mr. Brownlow's indignation was greatly roused; but, reflecting that he might only icjure the boy by giving vent to it, he suppressed his feelings, and submitted to be sworn at once.
Now," said Fang, “what's the charge against this boy? What have you got to say, sir !"
"I was standing at a book stall -" Mr. Brownlow began.
“ Hold your tongue, sir!" said Mr. Fang. "Policeman !—where's the policeman ? Here, swear this man. Now, policeman, what is this ?”
The policeman, with becoming humility, related how he had taken VOL. I.
the charge, how he had searched Oliver and found nothing on his person; and how that was all he knew about it.
" Are there any witnesses ?" inquired Mr. Fang. “ None, your worship,” replied the policeman.
Mr. Fang sat silent for some minutes, and then, turning round to the prosecutor, said, in a towering passion,
“Do you mean to state what your complaint against this boy is, fellow, or do you not? You have been sworn. Now, if you stand there, refusing to give evidence, I'll punish you for disrespect to the bench; I will, by
By what, or by whom, nobody knows, for the clerk and jailer coughed very loud, just at the right moment, and the former dropped a heavy book on the floor ; thus preventing the word from being heard-acci. dentally, of course.
With many interruptions, and repeated insults, Mr. Brownlow con. trived to state his case ; observing that, in the surprise of the moment, he had run after the boy because he saw him running away, and ex. pressing his hope that, if the magistrate should believe him, although not actually the thief, to be connected with thieves, he would deal as leniently with him as justice would allow.
“ He has been hurt already," said the old gentleman in conclusion. “ And I fear,” he added, with great energy, looking towards the bar, I really fear that he is
i!l.” “Oh! yes; I dare say!" said Mr. Fang, with a sneer. none of your tricks here, you young vagabond ; they won't do. What's
Oliver tried to reply, but his tongue failed him. He was deadly pale, and the whole place seemed turning round and round.
“What's your name, you hardened scoundrel ?" thundered Mr. Fang. " Oficer, what's his name ?"
This was addressed to a bluff old fellow in a striped waistcoat, who was standing by the bar. He bent over Oliver, and repeated the in. quiry ; but finding him really incapable of understanding the question, and knowing that his not replying would only infuriate the magistrate the more, and add to the severity of his sentence, he hazarded a guess.
“He says his name's Tom White, your worship," said this kind. hearted thief-taker.
“Oh, he won't speak out, won't he ?" said Fang. “Very well, very well. Where does he live ?"
" Where he can, your worship,” replied the officer, again pretend. ing to receive Oliver's answer.
“ Has he any parents ?" inquired Mr. Fang.
“ He says they died in his infancy, your worship,” replied the officer, hazarding the usual reply:
At this point of the inquiry Oliver raised his head, and, looking round with imploring eyes, murmured a feeble prayer for a draught of water.
“Stuff and nonsense !" said Mr. Fang ; “ don't try to make a fool of me.”
“ I think he really is ill, your worship,” remonstrated the officer. “I know better," said Mr. Fang.
u Take care of him, officer," said the old gentleman, raising his hands instinctively; "he'll fall down."
“ Stand away, officer," cried Fang savagely ; " let him if he likes."
Oliver availed himself of the kind permission, and fell heavily to the floor in a fainting fit. The men in the office looked at each other, but no one dared to stir.
“I knew he was shamming,” said Fang, as if this were incontestable proof of the fact. “Let him lie; he'll soon be tired of that."
“How do you propose to deal with the case, sir ?" inquired the clerk in a low voice.
“Summarily," replied Mr. Fang. "He stands committed for three months,-hard labor, of course. Clear the office."
The door was opened for this purpose, and a couple of men were preparing to carry the insensible boy to his cell
, when an elderly man of decent but poor appearance, clad in an old suit of black, rushed has. tily into the office, and advanced to the bench.
“Stop, stop—don't take him away,—for Heaven's sake, stop a mo. ment," cried the new.comer, breathless with haste.
Although the presiding geniuses in such an office as this, exercise a summary and arbitrary power over the liberties, the good name, the character, almost the lives of his Majesty's subjects, especially of the poorer class, and'although within such walls, enough fantastic tricks are daily played to make the angels weep thick tears of blood, they are clo. sed to the public, save through the medium of the daily press. Mr. Fang was consequently not a little indignant to see an unbidden guest enter in such irreverent disorder.
“ What is this? Who is this? Turn this man out. Clear the office," cried Mr. Fang.
" I will speak,” cried the man ; "I will not be turned out, I saw it all. I keep the book-stall. I demand to be sworn. I will not be put down. Mr. Fang, you must hear me. You dare not refuse, sir."
The man was right. His manner was bold and determined, and the matter was growing rather too serious to be hushed up.
“Swear the fellow,” growled Fang with a very ill grace. man, what have you got to say ?''
“This," said the man : “ I saw three boys—two others and the prisoner here-loitering on the opposite side of the way, when this gentle. man was reading. The robbery was committed by another boy. I saw it done, and I saw that this boy was perfectly amazed and stupified by it." Having by this time recovered a little breath, the worthy book-stall keeper proceeded to relate in a more coherent manner the exact cir. cumstances of the robbery.
Why didn't you come here before ?" said Fang after a pause. “ I hadn't a soul to mind the shop," replied the man; "everybody that could have helped me had joined in the pursuit
. I could get nobody till five minutes ago, and I've run here all the way.'
“The prosecutor was reading, was he?" inquired Fang, after another pause.
“ Yes," replied the man, “ the very book he has got in his hand." "Oh, that book, eh ?'' said Fang. " Is it paid for ?"
No, it is not," replied the man with a smile. “ Dear me, I forgot all about it!" exclaimed the absent old gentle. man, innocently.
" A nice person to prefer a charge against a poor boy!" said Fang, with a comical effort to look humane. " I consider, sir, that you have obtained possession of that book under very suspicious and disreputable circumstances, and you may think yourself very fortunate that the owner
of the property declines to prosecute. Let this be a lesson to you, my man, or the law will overtake you yet. The boy is discharged.
Clear the office!"
“ D-me!" cried the old gentleman, bursting out with the rage he had kept down so long, d-me! I'll
“Clear the office!" roared the magistrate. Officers, do you hear ? Clear the office !"
The mandate was obeyed, and the indignant Mr. Brownlow was conveyed out, with the book in one hand and the bamboo cane in the other, in a perfect phrenzy of rage and defiance. He reached the yard, and it vanished in a moment.
Little Oliver Twist lay on his back on the pavement, with his shirt unbuttoned and his temples bathed with water : his face a deadly white, and a cold tremble convulsing his whole frame.
“ Poor boy, poor boy!" said Mr. Brownlow bending over him.* Call a coach, somebody, pray, directly !"
A coach was ob:ained, and Oliver, having been carefully laid on one seat, the old gentleman got in and sat himself on the other.
May I accompany you ?" said the book-stall keeper looking in. “ Bless me, yes, my dear friend,” said Mr. Brownlow quickly. “I forgot you. Dear, dear! I've got this unhappy book stili. Jump in Poor fellow! there's no time to lose.":
The book-stall keeper got into the coach, and away they drove.
CHAPTER THE TWELFTH.
IN WHICH OLIVER IS TAKEN BETTER CARE OF, THAN HE EVER WAS BEFORE.
SOME PARTICULARS CONCERNING A CERTAIN PICTURE,
The coach rattled away down Mount Pleasant and up Exmouth. street-over nearly the sanie ground as that which Oliver had traversed when he first entered London in company with the Dodger,-and, turn. ing a different way when it reached the Angel at Islington, stopped at length before a neat house in a quiet shady street near Pentonville. Here a bed was prepared without loss of time, in which Mr. Brownlow saw his young charge carefully and comfortably deposited ; and here he was tended with a kindness and solicitude which knew no bounds.
But for many days Oliver remained insensible to all the goodness of his new friends; the sun rose and sunk, and rose and sunk again, and many times after that, and still the boy lay stretched upon his uneasy bed, dwindling away beneath the dry and wasting heat of fever—that heat which, like the subtle acid that gnaws into the very heart of hardest iron, burns only to corrode and to destroy. The worm does not his work more surely on the dead body, than does this slow, creeping fire upon the living frame.
Weak and thin, and pallid, he awoke at last from what seemed to have been a long and troubled dream. Peebly raising himself in the bed, with his head resting on his trembling arm, he looked anxiously round.
“ Whai room is this ?—where have I been brought to ?' said Oliver. « This is not the place I went to sleep in.'
He uttered these words in a feeble voice, being very faint and weak; but they were overheard at once, for the curtain at the bed's head was
hastily drawn back, and a motherly old lady, very neatly and precisely dressed, rose as she undrew it, from an arm.chair close by, in which she had been sitting at needle.work. “Hush, my dear,'' said the old lady softly. “ You must be
very quiet, or you will be ill again, and you have been very bad, -as bad as bad could be, pretty nigh. Lie down again, there's a dear.” With these words the old lady very gently placed Oliver's head upon the pillow, and, smoothing back his hair from his forehead, looked so kind and lov. ingly in his face, that he could not help placing his little withered hand upon her's and drawing it round his neck.
« Save us !" said the old lady with tears in her eyes, "what a grateful little dear it is. Pretty creetur, what would his mother feel if she had sat by him as I have, and could see him now !"
* Perhaps she does see me," whispered Oliver, folding his hands to. gether; “perhaps she has set by me, ma'am. I almost ieel as if she had.”
" That was the fever, my dear,” said the old lady mildly.
" I suppose it was,” replied Oliver thoughtfully,“ because Heaven is a long way off, and they are too happy there, to come down to the bed. side of a poor boy. But if she knew I was ill, she must have pitied me even there, for she was very ill herself, before she died. She can't know anything about me though," added Oliver after a moment's silence, “ for if she had seen me beat, it would have made her sorrowful, and her face has always looked sweet and happy when I have dreamt of her.”
The old lady made no reply to this, but wiping her eyes first, and her spectacles, which lay on the counterpane, afterwards, as if they were part and parcel of those features, brought some cool stuff for Oliver to drink, and then, patting him on the cheek, told him he must lie very qui. et, or he would be ill again.
So Oliver kept very still, partly because he was anxious to obey the kind old lady in all things, and partly, to tell the truth, because he was completely exhausted with what he had already said. He soon fell into a gentle doze, from which he was awakened by the light of a candle, which, being brought near the bed, showed him a geotlenian, with a very large and loud-ticking gold watch in his hand, who felt his pulse, and said he was a great deal better.
“ You are a great deal better, are you not, my dear ?" said the gen. tleman.
“ Yes, thank you, sir," replied Oliver.
“ Yes, I know you are," said the gentleman: "you're hungry, too, ain't you ?"
"No sir,” answered Oliver.
“ Hem !” said the gentleman. “ No, I know you're not. He is not hungry, Mrs. Bedwin," said the gentleman, looking very wise.
The old lady made a respectful inclination of the head, which seemed to say that she thought the doctor was a very clever man. The doctor appeared very much of the same opinion himself.
6 You feel sleepy, don't you, my dear?" said the doctor. · No, sir,” replied Oliver.
“ No," said the doctor, with a very shrewd and satisfied look.– “You're not sleepy. Nor thirsty, are you
“ Yes, sir, rather thirsty," answered Oliver. “ Just as I expected, Mrs. Bedwin," said the doctor. "It's very