。， They walked on, for some time, through the most crowded anddensely inhabited part of the town; and then, striking down anarrow street more dirty and miserable than any they had yetpassed through, paused to look for the house which was the objectof their search. The houses on either side were high and large,but very old, and tenanted by people of the poorest class: astheir neglected appearance would have sufficiently dentoed,without the concurrent testimony afforded by the squalid looks ofthe few men and women who, with folded arms and bodies halfdoubled, occasionally skulked along. A great many of thetenements had shop-fronts; but these were fast closed, andmouldering away; only the upper rooms being inhabited. Somehouses which had become insecure from age and decay, wereprevented from falling into the street, by huge beams of woodreared against the walls, and firmly planted in the road; buteven these crazy dens seemed to have been selected as the nightlyhaunts of some houseless wretches, for many of the rough boardswhich supplied the place of door and window, were wrenched fromtheir positions, to afford an aperture wide enough for thepassage of a human body. The kennel was stagnant and filthy.The very rats, which here and there lay putrefying in itsrottenness, were hideous with famine.
'No, no, sir,' sobbed Oliver, clinging to the hand which held thewell-known cane; 'no, no, sir; I will be good indeed; indeed,indeed I will, sir! I am a very little boy, sir; and it isso--so--'。， The month's trial over, Oliver was formally apprenticed. It wasa nice sickly season just at this time. In commercial phrase,coffins were looking up; and, in the course of a few weeks,Oliver acquired a great deal of experience. The success of Mr.Sowerberry's ingenious speculation, exceeded even his mostsanguine hopes. The oldest inhabitants recollected no period atwhich measles had been so prevalent, or so fatal to infantexistence; and many were the mournful processions which littleOliver headed, in a hat-band reaching down to his knees, to theindescribable admiration and emotion of all the mothers in thetown. As Oliver accompanied his master in most of his adultexpeditions too, in order that he might acquire that equanimityof demeanour and full command of nerve which was essential to afinished undertaker, he had many opportunities of observing thebeautiful resignation and fortitude with which some strong-mindedpeople bear their trials and losses.
。， It was a cold, dark night. The stars seemed, to the boy's eyes,farther from the earth than he had ever seen them before; therewas no wind; and the sombre shadows thrown by the trees upon theground, looked sepulchral and death-like, from being so still.He softly reclosed the door. Having availed himself of theexpiring light of the candle to tie up in a handkerchief the fewarticles of wearing apparel he had, sat himself down upon abench, to wait for morning.
，。， The members of this board were very sage, deep, philosophicalmen; and when they came to turn their attention to the workhouse,they found out at once, what ordinary folks would nver havediscovered--the poor people liked it! It was a regular place ofpublic entertainment for the poorer classes; a tavern where therewas nothing to pay; a public breakfast, dinner, tea, and supperall the year round; a brick and mortar elysium, where it was allplay and no work. 'Oho!' said the board, looking very knowing;'we are the fellows to set this to rights; we'll stop it all, inno time.' So, they established the rule, that all poor peopleshould have the alternative (for they would compel nobody, notthey), of being starved by a gradual process in the house, or bya quick one out of it. With this view, they contracted with thewater-works to lay on an unlimited supply of water; and with acorn-factor to supply periodically small quantities of oatmeal;and issued three meals of thin gruel a day, with an onion twice aweek, and half a roll of Sundays. They made a great many otherwise and humane regulations, having reference to the ladies,which it is not necessary to repeat; kindly undertook to divorcepoor married people, in consequence of the great expense of asuit in Doctors' Commons; and, instead of compelling a man tosupport his family, as they had theretofore done, took his familyaway from him, and made him a bachelor! There is no saying howmany applicants for relief, under these last two heads, mighthave started up in all classes of society, if it had not beencoupled with the workhouse; but the board were long-headed men,and had provided for this difficulty. The relief was inseparablefrom the workhouse and the gruel; and that frightened people.