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Oliver Twist

Chapter 10
OLIVER BECOMES BETTER ACQUAINTED WITH THE CHARACTERS OF
HIS NEW ASSOCIATES; AND PURCHASES EXPERIENCE AT A HIGH
PRICE. BEING A SHORT, BUT VERY IMPORTANT CHAPTER, IN THIS
HISTORY
For many days, Oliver remained in the Jew's room, picking the marks out of the pocket-
handkerchief, (of which a great number were brought home,) and sometimes taking part
in the game already described: which the two boys and the Jew played, regularly, every
morning. At length, he began to languish for fresh air, and took many occasions of
earnestly entreating the old gentleman to allow him to go out to work with his two
companions.
Oliver was rendered the more anxious to be actively employed, by what he had seen of
the stern morality of the old gentleman's character. Whenever the Dodger or Charley
Bates came home at night, empty-handed, he would expatiate with great vehemence on
the misery of idle and lazy habits; and would enforce upon them the necessity of an
active life, by sending them supperless to bed. On one occasion, indeed, he even went so
far as to knock them both down a flight of stairs; but this was carrying out his virtuous
precepts to an unusual extent.
At length, one morning, Oliver obtained the permission he had so eagerly sought. There
had been no handkerchiefs to work upon, for two or three days, and the dinners had been
rather meagre. Perhaps these were reasons for the old gentleman's giving his assent; but,
whether they were or no, he told Oliver he might go, and placed him under the joint
guardianship of Charley Bates, and his friend the Dodger.
The three boys sallied out; the Dodger with his coat-sleeves tucked up, and his hat
cocked, as usual; Master Bates sauntering along with his hands in his pockets; and Oliver
between them, wondering where they were going, and what branch of manufacture he
would be instructed in, first.
The pace at which they went, was such a very lazy, ill-looking saunter, that Oliver soon
began to think his companions were going to deceive the old gentleman, by not going to
work at all. The Dodger had a vicious propensity, too, of pulling the caps from the heads
of small boys and tossing them down areas; while Charley Bates exhibited some very
loose notions concerning the rights of property, by pilfering divers apples and onions
from the stalls at the kennel sides, and thrusting them into pockets which were so
surprisingly capacious, that they seemed to undermine his whole suit of clothes in every
direction. These things looked so bad, that Oliver was on the point of declaring his
intention of seeking his way back, in the best way he could; when his thoughts were
suddenly directed into another channel, by a very mysterious change of behaviour on the
part of the Dodger.
 
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