Hallo! cried a loud, hoarse voice, as soon as they set foot in the passage.
Don't make such a row, said Sykes, bolting the door. Show a glim, Toby.
Aha! my pal! cried the same voice. A glim, Barney, a glim! Show the gentleman in, Barney; wake up first, if convenient.
The speaker appeared to throw a boot-jack, or some such article, at the person he addressed, to rouse him from his slumbers: for the noise of a wooden body, falling violently, was heard; and then an indistinct muttering, as of a man between asleep and awake.
Do you hear? cried the same voice. There's Bill Sikes in the passage with nobody to do the civil to him; and you sleeping there, as if you took laudanum with your meals, and nothing stronger. Are you any fresher now, or do you want the iron candlestick to wake you thoroughly?
A pair of slipshod feet shuffled, hastily, accross the bare floor of the room, as this interrogatory was put; and there issued, from a door on the right hand: first, a feeble candle: and next, the form of the same individual who has been heretofore described as labouring under the infirmity of speaking through his nose, and officiating as waiter at the public-house on Saffron Hill.
Bister Sikes! exclaimed Barney, with real or counterfeit joy; cub id, sir; cub id.
Here! you get on first, said Sikes, putting Oliver in front of him. Quicker! or I shall tread upon your heels.
Muttering a curse upon his tardiness, Sikes pushed Oliver before him; and they entered a low dark room with a smoky fire, two or three broken chairs, a table, and a very old couch: on which, with his legs much higher than his head, a man was reposing at full length, smoking a long clay pipe. He was dressed in a smartly-cut snuff-coloured coat, with large brass buttons; an orange neckerchief; a coarse, staring, shawlpattern waistcoat; and drab breeches. Mr. Crackit (for he it was) had no very great quantity of hair, either upon his head or face; but what he had, was of a reddish dye, and tortured into long corkscrew curls, through which he occasionally thrust some very dirty fingers, ornamented with large common rings. He was a trifle above the middle size, and apparently rather weak in the legs; but this circumstance by no means detracted from his own admiration of his top-boots, which he contemplated, in their elevated situation, with lively satisfaction.
Bill, my boy! said this figure, turning his head towards the door, I'm glad to see you. I was almost afraid you'd given it up: in which case I should have made a personal wentur. Hallo!
Uttering this exclamation in a tone of great surprise, as his eye rested on Oliver, Mr. Toby Crackit brought himself into a sitting posture, and demanded who that was.
The boy. Only the boy! replied Sikes, drawing a chair towards the fire.
Wud of Bister Fagin's lads, exclaimed Barney, with a grin.
Fagin's, eh! exclaimed Toby, looking at Oliver. Wot an inwalable boy that'll make, for the old ladies' pockets in chapels! His mug is a fortun' to him.
There there's enough of that, interposed Sikes, impatiently; and stooping over his recumbent friend, he whispered a few words in his ear: at which Mr. Crackit laughed immensely, and honoured Oliver with a long stare of astonishment.
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