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Oliver Twist

Chapter 18
HOW OLIVER PASSED HIS TIME IN THE IMPROVING SOCIETY OF HIS
REPUTABLE FRIENDS
About noon next day, when the Dodger and Master Bates had gone out to pursue their
customary avocations, Mr. Fagin took the opportunity of reading Oliver a long lecture on
the crying sin of ingratitude; of which he clearly demonstrated he had been guilty, to no
ordinary extent, in wilfully absenting himself from the society of his anxious friends; and,
still more, in endeavouring to escape from them after so much trouble and expense had
been incurred in his recovery. Mr. Fagin laid great stress on the fact of his having taken
Oliver in, and cherished him, when, without his timely aid, he might have perished with
hunger; and he related the dismal and affecting history of a young lad whom, in his
philanthropy, he had succoured under parallel circumstances, but who, proving unworthy
of his confidence and evincing a desire to communicate with the police, had
unfortunately come to be hanged at the Old Bailey one morning. Mr. Fagin did not seek
to conceal his share in the catastrophe, but lamented with tears in his eyes that the wrong-
headed and treacherous behaviour of the young person in question, had rendered it
necessary that he should become the victim of certain evidence for the crown: which, if it
were not precisely true, was indispensably necessary for the safety of him (Mr. Fagin)
and a few select friends. Mr. Fagin concluded by drawing a rather disagreeable picture of
the discomforts of hanging; and, with great friendliness and politeness of manner,
expressed his anxious hopes that he might never be obliged to submit Oliver Twist to that
unpleasant operation.
Little Oliver's blood ran cold, as he listened to the Jew's words, and imperfectly
comprehended the dark threats conveyed in them. That it was possible even for justice
itself to confound the innocent with the guilty when they were in accidental
companionship, he knew already; and that deeply-laid plans for the destruction of
inconveniently knowing or over-communicative persons, had been really devised and
carried out by the Jew on more occasions than one, he thought by no means unlikely,
when he recollected the general nature of the altercations between that gentleman and Mr.
Sikes: which seemed to bear reference to some foregone conspiracy of the kind. As he
glanced timidly up, and met the Jew's searching look, he felt that his pale face and
trembling limbs were neither unnoticed nor unrelished by that wary old gentleman.
The Jew, smiling hideously, patted Oliver on the head, and said, that if he kept himself
quiet, and applied himself to business, he saw they would be very good friends yet. Then,
taking his hat, and covering himself with an old patched great-coat, he went out, and
locked the room-door behind him.
And so Oliver remained all that day, and for the greater part of many subsequent days,
seeing nobody, between early morning and midnight, and left during the long hours to
commune with his own thoughts. Which, never failing to revert to his kind friends, and
the opinion they must long ago have formed of him, were sad indeed.
 
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