LOOKS AFTER OLIVER, AND PROCEEDS WITH HIS ADVENTURES
'Wolves tear your throats!' muttered Sikes, grinding his teeth. 'I wish I was among some
of you; you'd howl the hoarser for it.'
As Sikes growled forth this imprecation, with the most desperate ferocity that his
desperate nature was capable of, he rested the body of the wounded boy across his
bended knee; and turned his head, for an instant, to look back at his pursuers.
There was little to be made out, in the mist and darkness; but the loud shouting of men
vibrated through the air, and the barking of the neighbouring dogs, roused by the sound
of the alarm bell, resounded in every direction.
'Stop, you white-livered hound!' cried the robber, shouting after Toby Crackit, who,
making the best use of his long legs, was already ahead. 'Stop!'
The repetition of the word, brought Toby to a dead stand-still. For he was not quite
satisfied that he was beyond the range of pistol-shot; and Sikes was in no mood to be
'Bear a hand with the boy,' cried Sikes, beckoning furiously to his confederate. 'Come
Toby made a show of returning; but ventured, in a low voice, broken for want of breath,
to intimate considerable reluctance as he came slowly along.
'Quicker!' cried Sikes, laying the boy in a dry ditch at his feet, and drawing a pistol from
his pocket. 'Don't play booty with me.'
At this moment the noise grew louder. Sikes, again looking round, could discern that the
men who had given chase were already climbing the gate of the field in which he stood;
and that a couple of dogs were some paces in advance of them.
'It's all up, Bill!' cried Toby; 'drop the kid, and show 'em your heels.' With this parting
advice, Mr. Crackit, preferring the chance of being shot by his friend, to the certainty of
being taken by his enemies, fairly turned tail, and darted off at full speed. Sikes clenched
his teeth; took one look around; threw over the prostrate form of Oliver, the cape in
which he had been hurriedly muffled; ran along the front of the hedge, as if to distract the
attention of those behind, from the spot where the boy lay; paused, for a second, before
another hedge which met it at right angles; and whirling his pistol high into the air,
cleared it at a bound, and was gone.
'Ho, ho, there!' cried a tremulous voice in the rear. 'Pincher! Neptune! Come here, come