Oliver Twist HTML version

Chapter 11
The offence had been committed within the district, and indeed in the immediate
neighborhood of, a very notorious metropolitan police office. The crowd had only the
satisfaction of accompanying Oliver through two or three streets, and down a place called
Mutton Hill, when he was led beneath a low archway, and up a dirty court, into this
dispensary of summary justice, by the back way. It was a small paved yard into which
they turned; and here they encountered a stout man with a bunch of whiskers on his face,
and a bunch of keys in his hand.
'What's the matter now?' said the man carelessly.
'A young fogle-hunter,' replied the man who had Oliver in charge.
'Are you the party that's been robbed, sir?' inquired the man with the keys.
'Yes, I am,' replied the old gentleman; 'but I am not sure that this boy actually took the
handkerchief. I--I would rather not press the case.'
'Must go before the magistrate now, sir,' replied the man. 'His worship will be disengaged
in half a minute. Now, young gallows!'
This was an invitation for Oliver to enter through a door which he unlocked as he spoke,
and which led into a stone cell. Here he was searched; and nothing being found upon him,
locked up.
This cell was in shape and size something like an area cellar, only not so light. It was
most intolably dirty; for it was Monday morning; and it had been tenanted by six drunken
people, who had been locked up, elsewhere, since Saturday night. But this is little. In our
station-houses, men and women are every night confined on the most trivial charges--the
word is worth noting--in dungeons, compared with which, those in Newgate, occupied by
the most atrocious felons, tried, found guilty, and under sentence of death, are palaces.
Let any one who doubts this, compare the two.
The old gentleman looked almost as rueful as Oliver when the key grated in the lock. He
turned with a sigh to the book, which had been the innocent cause of all this disturbance.
'There is something in that boy's face,' said the old gentleman to himself as he walked
slowly away, tapping his chin with the cover of the book, in a thoughtful manner;
'something that touches and interests me. CAN he be innocent? He looked like--Bye the
bye,' exclaimed the old gentleman, halting very abruptly, and staring up into the sky,
'Bless my soul!--where have I seen something like that look before?'