IN WHICH OLIVER IS TAKEN BETTER CARE OF THAN HE EVER WAS
BEFORE. AND IN WHICH THE NARRATIVE REVERTS TO THE MERRY
OLD GENTLEMAN AND HIS YOUTHFUL FRIENDS.
The coach rattled away, over nearly the same ground as that which Oliver had traversed
when he first entered London in company with the Dodger; and, turning 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 that knew no bounds.
But, for many days, Oliver remained insensible to all the goodness of his new friends.
The sun rose and sank, and rose and sank again, and many times after that; and still the
boy lay stretched on his uneasy bed, dwindling away beneath the dry and wasting heat of
fever. The worm does not 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. Feebly raising himself in the bed, with his head resting on his trembling
arm, he looked anxiously around.
'What 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. 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 those words, the old lady very gently placed Oliver's head upon the pillow;
and, smoothing back his hair from his forehead, looked so kindly and loving in his face,
that he could not help placing his little withered hand in hers, and drawing it round his
'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
'Perhaps she does see me,' whispered Oliver, folding his hands together; 'perhaps she has
sat by me. I almost feel as if she had.'
'That was the fever, my dear,' said the old lady mildly.