Oliver Twist HTML version

Chapter 19
It was a chill, damp, windy night, when the Jew: buttoning his great-coat tight round his
shrivelled body, and pulling the collar up over his ears so as completely to obscure the
lower part of his face: emerged from his den. He paused on the step as the door was
locked and chained behind him; and having listened while the boys made all secure, and
until their retreating footsteps were no longer audible, slunk down the street as quickly as
he could.
The house to which Oliver had been conveyed, was in the neighborhood of Whitechapel.
The Jew stopped for an instant at the corner of the street; and, glancing suspiciously
round, crossed the road, and struck off in the direction of the Spitalfields.
The mud lay thick upon the stones, and a black mist hung over the streets; the rain fell
sluggishly down, and everything felt cold and clammy to the touch. It seemed just the
night when it befitted such a being as the Jew to be abroad. As he glided stealthily along,
creeping beneath the shelter of the walls and doorways, the hideous old man seemed like
some loathsome reptile, engendered in the slime and darkness through which he moved:
crawling forth, by night, in search of some rich offal for a meal.
He kept on his course, through many winding and narrow ways, until he reached Bethnal
Green; then, turning suddenly off to the left, he soon became involved in a maze of the
mean and dirty streets which abound in that close and densely-populated quarter.
The Jew was evidently too familiar with the ground he traversed to be at all bewildered,
either by the darkness of the night, or the intricacies of the way. He hurried through
several alleys and streets, and at length turned into one, lighted only by a single lamp at
the farther end. At the door of a house in this street, he knocked; having exchanged a few
muttered words with the person who opened it, he walked upstairs.
A dog growled as he touched the handle of a room-door; and a man's voice demanded
who was there.
'Only me, Bill; only me, my dear,' said the Jew looking in.
'Bring in your body then,' said Sikes. 'Lie down, you stupid brute! Don't you know the
devil when he's got a great-coat on?'
Apparently, the dog had been somewhat deceived by Mr. Fagin's outer garment; for as
the Jew unbuttoned it, and threw it over the back of a chair, he retired to the corner from
which he had risen: wagging his tail as he went, to show that he was as well satisfied as it
was in his nature to be.
'Well!' said Sikes.