Relates what became of Oliver Twist, after he had been claimed by Nancy.
The narrow streets and courts, at length, terminated in a large open space; scattered about which, were pens for beasts, and other indications of a cattle-market. Sikes slackened his pace when they reached this spot: the girl being quite unable to support any longer, the rapid rate at which they had hitherto walked. Turning to Oliver, he roughly commanded him to take hold of Nancy's hand.
Do you hear? growled Sikes, as Oliver hesitated, and looked around.
They were in a dark corner, quite out of the track of passengers. Oliver saw, but too plainly, that resistance would be of no avail. He held out his hand, which Nancy clasped tight in hers.
Give me the other, said Sikes, seizing Oliver's unoccupied hand. Here, Bull's-eye!
The dog looked up, and growled.
See, here boy! said Sikes, putting his other hand to Oliver's throat; if he speaks ever so soft a word, hold him! D'ye mind!
The dog growled again; and licking his lips, eyed Oliver as if he were anxious to attach himself to his windpipe without delay.
He's as willing as a Christian, strike me blind if he isn't! aid Sikes, regarding the animal with a kind of grim and ferocious approval. Now, you know what you've got to expect, master, so call away as quick as you like; the dog will soon stop that game. Get on, young 'un!
Bull's-eye wagged his tail in acknowledgment of this unusually endearing form of speech; and, giving vent to another admonitory growl for the benefit of Oliver, led the way onward.
It was Smithfield that they were crossing, although it might have been Grosvenor Square, for anything Oliver knew to the contrary. The night was dark and foggy. The lights in the shops could scarcely struggle through the heavy mist, which thickened every moment and shrouded the streets and houses in gloom; rendering the strange place still stranger in Oliver's eyes; and making his uncertainty the more dismal and depressing.
They had hurried on a few paces, when a deep church-bell struck the hour. With its first stroke, his two conductors stopped, and turned their heads in the direction whence the sound proceeded.
Eight o'clock, Bill, said Nancy, when the bell ceased.
What's the good of telling me that; I can hear it, can't I! replied Sikes.
I wonder whether they can hear it, said Nancy.
Of course they can, replied Sikes. It was Bartlemy time when I was shopped; and there warn't a penny trumpet in the fair, as I couldn't hear the squeaking on. Arter I was locked up for the night, the row and din outside made the thundering old jail so silent, that I could almost have beat my brains out against the iron plates of the door.
Poor fellows! said Nancy, who still had her face turned towards the quarter in which the bell had sounded. Oh, Bill, such fine young chaps as them!
Yes; that's all you women think of, answered Sikes. Fine young chaps! Well, they're as good as dead, so it don't much matter.
With this consolation, Mr. Sikes appeared to repress a rising tendency to jealousy, and, clasping Oliver's wrist more firmly, told him to step out again.
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