Oliver Twist HTML version

Chapter 16
The narrow streets and courts, at length, terminated in a large open space; scattered about
which, were pens for beasts, and other indications of a cattle-market. Sikes slackened his
pace when they reached this spot: the girl being quite unable to support any longer, the
rapid rate at which they had hitherto walked. Turning to Oliver, he roughly commanded
him to take hold of Nancy's hand.
'Do you hear?' growled Sikes, as Oliver hesitated, and looked round.
They were in a dark corner, quite out of the track of passengers.
Oliver saw, but too plainly, that resistance would be of no avail. He held out his hand,
which Nancy clasped tight in hers.
'Give me the other,' said Sikes, seizing Oliver's unoccupied hand. 'Here, Bull's-Eye!'
The dog looked up, and growled.
'See here, boy!' said Sikes, putting his other hand to Oliver's throat; 'if he speaks ever so
soft a word, hold him! D'ye mind!'
The dog growled again; and licking his lips, eyed Oliver as if he were anxious to attach
himself to his windpipe without delay.
'He's as willing as a Christian, strike me blind if he isn't!' said Sikes, regarding the animal
with a kind of grim and ferocious approval. 'Now, you know what you've got to expect,
master, so call away as quick as you like; the dog will soon stop that game. Get on,
Bull's-eye wagged his tail in acknowledgment of this unusually endearing form of
speech; and, giving vent to another admonitory growl for the benefit of Oliver, led the
way onward.
It was Smithfield that they were crossing, although it might have been Grosvenor Square,
for anything Oliver knew to the contrary. The night was dark and foggy. The lights in the
shops could scarecely struggle through the heavy mist, which thickened every moment
and shrouded the streets and houses in gloom; rendering the strange place still stranger in
Oliver's eyes; and making his uncertainty the more dismal and depressing.
They had hurried on a few paces, when a deep church-bell struck the hour. With its first
stroke, his two conductors stopped, and turned their heads in the direction whence the
sound proceeded.