“He was a dear, grateful, gentle child, sir,” retorted Mrs. Bedwin, indignantly. “I know what children are, sir; and have done these forty years; and people who can’t say the same, shouldn’t say anything about them.”
“You’ve been brought up bad,” said the Dodger, surveying his boots with much satisfaction when Oliver had polished them. “Fagin will make something of you, though, or you’ll be the first he ever had that turned out unprofitable. You’d better begin at once; for you’ll come to the trade long before you think of it; and you’re only losing time, Oliver.”
It was also solemnly arranged that poor Oliver should, for the purposes of the contemplated expedition, be unreservedly consigned to the care and custody of Mr. William Sikes; and further, that the said Sikes should deal with him as he thought fit; and should not be held responsible by the Jew for any mischance or evil that might befall him, or any punishment with which it might be necessary to visit him[.]
“Well,” said the robber, grasping Oliver’s wrist, and putting the barrel so close to his temple that they touched; at which moment the boy could not repress a start; “if you speak a word when you’re out o’ doors with me, except when I speak to you, that loading will be in your head without notice. So, if youdo make up your mind to speak without leave, say your prayers first.”
And now, for the first time, Oliver, well-nigh mad with grief and terror, saw that housebreaking and robbery, if not murder, were the objects of the expedition. He clasped his hands together, and involuntarily uttered a subdued exclamation of horror. A mist came before his eyes; the cold sweat stood upon his ash face; his limbs failed him; and he sank upon his knees.