Oliver Twist HTML version

Chapter 25
While these things were passing in the country workhouse, Mr. Fagin sat in the old den--
the same from which Oliver had been removed by the girl--brooding over a dull, smoky
fire. He held a pair of bellows upon his knee, with which he had apparently been
endeavouring to rouse it into more cheerful action; but he had fallen into deep thought;
and with his arms folded on them, and his chin resting on his thumbs, fixed his eyes,
abstractedly, on the rusty bars.
At a table behind him sat the Artful Dodger, Master Charles Bates, and Mr. Chitling: all
intent upon a game of whist; the Artful taking dummy against Master Bates and Mr.
Chitling. The countenance of the first-named gentleman, peculiarly intelligent at all
times, acquired great additional interest from his close observance of the game, and his
attentive perusal of Mr. Chitling's hand; upon which, from time to time, as occasion
served, he bestowed a variety of earnest glances: wisely regulating his own play by the
result of his observations upon his neighbour's cards. It being a cold night, the Dodger
wore his hat, as, indeed, was often his custom within doors. He also sustained a clay pipe
between his teeth, which he only removed for a brief space when he deemed it necessary
to apply for refreshment to a quart pot upon the table, which stood ready filled with gin-
and-water for the accommodation of the company.
Master Bates was also attentive to the play; but being of a more excitable nature than his
accomplished friend, it was observable that he more frequently applied himself to the gin-
and-water, and moreover indulged in many jests and irrelevant remarks, all highly
unbecoming a scientific rubber. Indeed, the Artful, presuming upon their close
attachment, more than once took occasion to reason gravely with his companion upon
these improprieties; all of which remonstrances, Master Bates received in extremely good
part; merely requesting his friend to be 'blowed,' or to insert his head in a sack, or
replying with some other neatly-turned witticism of a similar kind, the happy application
of which, excited considerable admiration in the mind of Mr. Chitling. It was remarkable
that the latter gentleman and his partner invariably lost; and that the circumstance, so far
from angering Master Bates, appeared to afford him the highest amusement, inasmuch as
he laughed most uproariously at the end of every deal, and protested that he had never
seen such a jolly game in all his born days.
'That's two doubles and the rub,' said Mr. Chitling, with a very long face, as he drew half-
a-crown from his waistcoat-pocket. 'I never see such a feller as you, Jack; you win
everything. Even when we've good cards, Charley and I can't make nothing of 'em.'
Either the master or the manner of this remark, which was made very ruefully, delighted
Charley Bates so much, that his consequent shout of laughter roused the Jew from his
reverie, and induced him to inquire what was the matter.