possibility of scientific improvements being ever brought to that pass which will enable a gentleman to eat his own head in the event of his being so disposed, Mr. Grimwig's head was such a particularly large one, that the most sanguine man alive could hardly entertain a hope of being able to get through it at a sitting to put entirely out of the question, a very thick coating of powder.
I'll eat my head, sir, repeated Mr. Grimwig, striking his stick upon the ground. Hallo! what's that! looking at Oliver, and retreating a pace or two.
This is young Oliver Twist, whom we were speaking about, said Mr. Brownlow.
You don't mean to say that's the boy who had the fever, I hope? said Mr. Grimwig, recoiling a little more. Wait, a minute! Don't speak! Stop continued Mr. Grimwig, abruptly, losing all dread of the fever in his triumph at the discovery; that's the boy who had the orange! If that's not the boy, sir, who had the orange, and threw this bit of peel upon the staircase, I'll eat my head, and his too.
No, no, he has not had one, said Mr. Brownlow, laughing. Come! Put down your hat; and speak to my young friend.
I feel strongly on this subject, sir, said the irritable old gentleman, drawing off his gloves. There's always more or less orange-peel on the pavement in our street; and I know it's put there by the surgeon's boy at the corner. A young woman stumbled over a bit last night, and fell against my garden-railings; directly she got up I saw her look towards his infernal red lamp with the pantomime-light. 'Don't go to him,' I called out of the window, 'he's an assassin! A man-trap!' So he is. If he is not Here the irascible old gentleman gave a great knock on the ground with his stick; which was always understood, by his friends, to imply the customary offer, whenever it was not expressed in words. Then, still keeping his stick in his hand, he sat down; and, opening a double eye-glass, which he wore attached to a broad black riband, took a view of Oliver: who, seeing that he was the object of inspection, coloured, and bowed again.
That's the boy, is it? said Mr. Grimwig, at length.
That is the boy, replied Mr. Brownlow.
How are you, boy? said Mr. Grimwig.
A great deal better, thank you, sir, replied Oliver.
Mr. Brownlow, seeming to apprehend that his singular friend was about to say something disagreeable, asked Oliver to step down stairs and tell Mrs. Bedwin they were ready for tea; which, as he did not half like the visitor's manner, he was very happy to do.
He is a nice-looking boy, is he not? inquired Mr. Brownlow.
I don't know, replied Mr. Grimwig, pettishly.
No. I don't know. I never see any difference in boys. I only know two sorts of boys. Mealy boys, and beef-faced boys.
And which is Oliver?
Mealy. I know a friend who has a beef-faced boy; a fine boy, they call him; with a round head, and red cheeks, and glaring eyes; a horrid boy; with a body and limbs that appear to be swelling out of the seams of his blue clothes; with the voice of a pilot, and the appetite of a wolf. I know him! The wretch!
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