Oliver Twist HTML version

Chapter 8
Oliver reached the stile at which the by-path terminated; and once more gained the high-
road. It was eight o'clock now. Though he was nearly five miles away from the town, he
ran, and hid behind the hedges, by turns, till noon: fearing that he might be pursued and
overtaken. Then he sat down to rest by the side of the milestone, and began to think, for
the first time, where he had better go and try to live.
The stone by which he was seated, bore, in large characters, an intimation that it was just
seventy miles from that spot to London. The name awakened a new train of ideas in the
boy's mind.
London!--that great place!--nobody--not even Mr. Bumble--could ever find him there! He
had often heard the old men in the workhouse, too, say that no lad of spirit need want in
London; and that there were ways of living in that vast city, which those who had been
bred up in country parts had no idea of. It was the very place for a homeless boy, who
must die in the streets unless some one helped him. As these things passed through his
thoughts, he jumped upon his feet, and again walked forward.
He had diminished the distance between himself and London by full four miles more,
before he recollected how much he must undergo ere he could hope to reach his place of
destination. As this consideration forced itself upon him, he slackened his pace a little,
and meditated upon his means of getting there. He had a crust of bread, a coarse shirt, and
two pairs of stockings, in his bundle. He had a penny too--a gift of Sowerberry's after
some funeral in which he had acquitted himself more than ordinarily well--in his pocket.
'A clean shirt,' thought Oliver, 'is a very comfortable thing; and so are two pairs of darned
stockings; and so is a penny; but they small helps to a sixty-five miles' walk in winter
time.' But Oliver's thoughts, like those of most other people, although they were
extremely ready and active to point out his difficulties, were wholly at a loss to suggest
any feasible mode of surmounting them; so, after a good deal of thinking to no particular
purpose, he changed his little bundle over to the other shoulder, and trudged on.
Oliver walked twenty miles that day; and all that time tasted nothing but the crust of dry
bread, and a few draughts of water, which he begged at the cottage-doors by the road-
side. When the night came, he turned into a meadow; and, creeping close under a hay-
rick, determined to lie there, till morning. He felt frightened at first, for the wind moaned
dismally over the empty fields: and he was cold and hungry, and more alone than he had
ever felt before. Being very tired with his walk, however, he soon fell asleep and forgot
his troubles.
He felt cold and stiff, when he got up next morning, and so hungry that he was obliged to
exchange the penny for a small loaf, in the very first village through which he passed. He
had walked no more than twelve miles, when night closed in again. His feet were sore,