Oliver Twist HTML version

Chapter 27
As it would be, by no means, seemly in a humble author to keep so mighty a personage as
a beadle waiting, with his back to the fire, and the skirts of his coat gathered up under his
arms, until such time as it might suit his pleasure to relieve him; and as it would still less
become his station, or his gallentry to involve in the same neglect a lady on whom that
beadle had looked with an eye of tenderness and affection, and in whose ear he had
whispered sweet words, which, coming from such a quarter, might well thrill the bosom
of maid or matron of whatsoever degree; the historian whose pen traces these words--
trusting that he knows his place, and that he entertains a becoming reverence for those
upon earth to whom high and important authority is delegated--hastens to pay them that
respect which their position demands, and to treat them with all that duteous ceremony
which their exalted rank, and (by consequence) great virtues, imperatively claim at his
hands. Towards this end, indeed, he had purposed to introduce, in this place, a
dissertation touching the divine right of beadles, and elucidative of the position, that a
beadle can do no wrong: which could not fail to have been both pleasurable and
profitable to the right-minded reader but which he is unfortunately compelled, by want of
time and space, to postpone to some more convenient and fitting opportunity; on the
arrival of which, he will be prepared to show, that a beadle properly constituted: that is to
say, a parochial beadle, attached to a parochail workhouse, and attending in his official
capacity the parochial church: is, in right and virtue of his office, possessed of all the
excellences and best qualities of humanity; and that to none of those excellences, can
mere companies' beadles, or court-of-law beadles, or even chapel-of-ease beadles (save
the last, and they in a very lowly and inferior degree), lay the remotest sustainable claim.
Mr. Bumble had re-counted the teaspoons, re-weighed the sugar-tongs, made a closer
inspection of the milk-pot, and ascertained to a nicety the exact condition of the furniture,
down to the very horse-hair seats of the chairs; and had repeated each process full half a
dozen times; before he began to think that it was time for Mrs. Corney to return. Thinking
begets thinking; as there were no sounds of Mrs. Corney's approach, it occured to Mr.
Bumble that it would be an innocent and virtuous way of spending the time, if he were
further to allay his curiousity by a cursory glance at the interior of Mrs. Corney's chest of
Having listened at the keyhole, to assure himself that nobody was approaching the
chamber, Mr. Bumble, beginning at the bottom, proceeded to make himself acquainted
with the contents of the three long drawers: which, being filled with various garments of
good fashion and texture, carefully preserved between two layers of old newspapers,
speckled with dried lavender: seemed to yield him exceeding satisfaction. Arriving, in
course of time, at the right-hand corner drawer (in which was the key), and beholding
therein a small padlocked box, which, being shaken, gave forth a pleasant sound, as of
the chinking of coin, Mr. Bumble returned with a stately walk to the fireplace; and,
resuming his old attitude, said, with a grave and determined air, 'I'll do it!' He followed