。， 'Bless us, and save us! Wash your hands, and let me part yourhair nicely for you, child,' said Mrs. Bedwin. 'Dear heartalive! If we had known he would have asked for you, we wouldhave put you a clean collar on, and made you as smart assixpence!'
'I'm afraid,' said the Jew, 'that he may say something which willget us into trouble.'。， This was a vagrant of sixty-five, who was going to prison for NOTplaying the flute; or, in other words, for begging in thestreets, and doing nothing for his livelihood. In the next cellwas another man, who was going to the same prison for hawking tinsaucepans without license; thereby doing something for hisliving, in defiance of the Stamp-office.
The old gentleman was a very respectable-looking personage, witha powdered head and gold spectacles. He was dressed in abottle-green coat with a black velvet collar; wore whitetrousers; and carried a smart bamboo cane under his arm. He hadtaken up a book from the stall, and there he stood, reading away,as hard as if he were in his elbow-chair, in his own study. Itis very possible that he fancied himself there, indeed; for itwas plain, from his abstraction, that he saw not the book-stall,nor the street, nor the boys, nor, in short, anything but thebook itself: which he was reading straight through: turningover the leaf when he got to the bottom of a page, beginning atthe top line of the next one, and going regularly on, with thegreatest interest and eagerness.。，
'Is there a little boy here?' inquired Nancy, with a preliminarysob.。， 'I'll eat my head, sir,' repeated Mr. Grimwig, striking his stickupon the ground. 'Hallo! what's that!' looking at Oliver, andretreating a pace or two.
Oliver soon recovering from the fainting-fit into which Mr.Brownlow's abrupt exclamation had thrown him, the subject of thepicture was carefully avoided, both by the old gentleman and Mrs.Bedwin, in the conversation that ensued: which indeed bore noreference to Oliver's history or prospects, but was confined tosuch topics as might amuse without exciting him. He was stilltoo weak to get up to breakfast; but, when he came down into thehousekeeper's room next day, his first act was to cast an eagerglance at the wall, in the hope of again looking on the face ofthe beautiful lady. His expectations were disappointed, however,for the picture had been removed.。，
It was not until the two boys had scoured, with great rapidity,through a most intricate maze of narrow streets and courts, thatthey ventured to halt beneath a low and dark archway. Havingremained silent here, just long enough to recover breath tospeak, Master Bates uttered an exclamation of amusement anddelight; and, bursting into an uncontrollable fit of laughter,flung himself upon a doorstep, and rolled thereon in a transportof mirth.。， 'Grin away,' said Sikes, replacing the poker, and surveying himwith savage contempt; 'grin away. You'll never have the laugh atme, though, unless it's behind a nightcap. I've got the upperhand over you, Fagin; and, d--me, I'll keep it. There! If I go,you go; so take care of me.'
'Do you mean to state what your complaint against this boy is,man, or do you not? You have been sworn. Now, if you standthere, refusing to give evidence, I'll punish you for disrespectto the bench; I will, by--'。，
。， 'You're a clever boy, my dear,' said the playful old gentleman,patting Oliver on the head approvingly. 'I never saw a sharperlad. Here's a shilling for you. If you go on, in this way,you'll be the greatest man of the time. And now come here, andI'll show you how to take the marks out of the handkerchiefs.'
，。， When this game had been played a great many times, a couple ofyoung ladies called to see the young gentleman; one of whom wasnamed Bet, and the other Nancy. They wore a good deal of hair,not very neatly turned up behind, and were rather untidy aboutthe shoes and stockings. They were not exactly pretty, perhaps;but they had a great deal of colour in their faces, and lookedquite stout and hearty. Being remarkably free and agreeable intheir manners, Oliver thought them very nice girls indeed. Asthere is no doubt they were.