Oliver Twist HTML version

Chapter 42
Upon the night when Nancy, having lulled Mr. Sikes to sleep, hurried on her self-
imposed mission to Rose Maylie, there advanced towards London, by the Great North
Road, two persons, upon whom it is expedient that this history should bestow some
They were a man and woman; or perhaps they would be better described as a male and
female: for the former was one of those long-limbed, knock-kneed, shambling, bony
people, to whom it is difficult to assign any precise age,--looking as they do, when they
are yet boys, like undergrown men, and when they are almost men, like overgrown boys.
The woman was young, but of a robust and hardy make, as she need have been to bear
the weight of the heavy bundle which was strapped to her back. Her companion was not
encumbered with much luggage, as there merely dangled from a stick which he carried
over his shoulder, a small parcel wrapped in a common handkerchief, and apparently
light enough. This circumstance, added to the length of his legs, which were of unusual
extent, enabled him with much ease to keep some half-dozen paces in advance of his
companion, to whom he occasionally turned with an impatient jerk of the head: as if
reproaching her tardiness, and urging her to greater exertion.
Thus, they had toiled along the dusty road, taking little heed of any object within sight,
save when they stepped aside to allow a wider passage for the mail-coaches which were
whirling out of town, until they passed through Highgate archway; when the foremost
traveller stopped and called impatiently to his companion,
'Come on, can't yer? What a lazybones yer are, Charlotte.'
'It's a heavy load, I can tell you,' said the female, coming up, almost breathless with
'Heavy! What are yer talking about? What are yer made for?' rejoined the male traveller,
changing his own little bundle as he spoke, to the other shoulder. 'Oh, there yer are,
resting again!
Well, if yer ain't enough to tire anybody's patience out, I don't know what is!'
'Is it much farther?' asked the woman, resting herself against a bank, and looking up with
the perspiration streaming from her face.
'Much farther! Yer as good as there,' said the long-legged tramper, pointing out before
him. 'Look there! Those are the lights of London.'
'They're a good two mile off, at least,' said the woman despondingly.