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Charles Dickens >> Oliver Twist (page 64)


Soon after the marriage of the young people, the worthy doctorreturned to Chertsey, where, bereft of the presence of his oldfriends, he would have been discontented if his temperament hadadmitted of such a feeling; and would have turned quite peevishif he had known how. For two or three months, he contentedhimself with hinting that he feared the air began to disagreewith him; then, finding that the place really no longer was, tohim, what it had been, he settled his business on his assistant,took a bachelor's cottage outside the village of which his youngfriend was pastor, and instantaneously recovered. Here he tookto gardening, planting, fishing, carpentering, and various otherpursuits of a similar kind: all undertaken with hischaracteristic impetuosity. In each and all he has since becomefamous throughout the neighborhood, as a most profound authority.

Before his removal, he had managed to contract a strongfriendship for Mr. Grimwig, which that eccentric gentlemancordially reciprocated. He is accordingly visited by Mr. Grimwiga great many times in the course of the year. On all suchoccasions, Mr. Grimwig plants, fishes, and carpenters, with greatardour; doing everything in a very singular and unprecedentedmanner, but always maintaining with his favourite asseveration,that his mode is the right one. On Sundays, he never fails tocriticise the sermon to the young clergyman's face: alwaysinforming Mr. Losberne, in strict confidence afterwards, that heconsiders it an excellent performance, but deems it as well notto say so. It is a standing and very favourite joke, for Mr.Brownlow to rally him on his old prophecy concerning Oliver, andto remind him of the night on which they sat with the watchbetween them, waiting his return; but Mr. Grimwig contends thathe was right in the main, and, in proof thereof, remarks thatOliver did not come back after all; which always calls forth alaugh on his side, and increases his good humour.

Mr. Noah Claypole: receiving a free pardon from the Crown inconsequence of being admitted approver against Fagin: andconsidering his profession not altogether as safe a one as hecould wish: was, for some little time, at a loss for the meansof a livelihood, not burdened with too much work. After someconsideration, he went into business as an Informer, in whichcalling he realises a genteel subsistence. His plan is, to walkout once a week during church time attended by Charlotte inrespectable attire. The lady faints away at the doors ofcharitable publicans, and the gentleman being accommodated withthree-penny worth of brandy to restore her, lays an informationnext day, and pockets half the penalty. Sometimes Mr. Claypolefaints himself, but the result is the same.

Mr. and Mrs. Bumble, deprived of their situations, were graduallyreduced to great indigence and misery, and finally became paupersin that very same workhouse in which they had once lorded it overothers. Mr. Bumble has been heard to say, that in this reverseand degradation, he has not even spirits to be thankful for beingseparated from his wife.

As to Mr. Giles and Brittles, they still remain in their oldposts, although the former is bald, and the last-named boy quitegrey. They sleep at the parsonage, but divide their attentionsso equally among its inmates, and Oliver and Mr. Brownlow, andMr. Losberne, that to this day the villagers have never been ableto discover to which establishment they properly belong.

Master Charles Bates, appalled by Sikes's crime, fell into atrain of reflection whether an honest life was not, after all,the best. Arriving at the conclusion that it certainly was, heturned his back upon the scenes of the past, resolved to amend itin some new sphere of action. He struggled hard, and sufferedmuch, for some time; but, having a contented disposition, and agood purpose, succeeded in the end; and, from being a farmer'sdrudge, and a carrier's lad, he is now the merriest young grazierin all Northamptonshire.

And now, the hand that traces these words, falters, as itapproaches the conclusion of its task; and would weave, for alittle longer space, the thread of these adventures.

I would fain linger yet with a few of those among whom I have solong moved, and share their happiness by endeavouring to depictit. I would show Rose Maylie in all the bloom and grace of earlywomanhood, shedding on her secluded path in life soft and gentlelight, that fell on all who trod it with her, and shone intotheir hearts. I would paint her the life and joy of thefire-side circle and the lively summer group; I would follow herthrough the sultry fields at noon, and hear the low tones of hersweet voice in the moonlit evening walk; I would watch her in allher goodness and charity abroad, and the smiling untiringdischarge of domestic duties at home; I would paint her and herdead sister's child happy in their love for one another, andpassing whole hours together in picturing the friends whom theyhad so sadly lost; I would summon before me, once again, thosejoyous little faces that clustered round her knee, and listen totheir merry prattle; I would recall the tones of that clearlaugh, and conjure up the sympathising tear that glistened in thesoft blue eye. These, and a thousand looks and smiles, and turnsfo thought and speech--I would fain recall them every one.

How Mr. Brownlow went on, from day to day, filling the mind ofhis adopted child with stores of knowledge, and becoming attachedto him, more and more, as his nature developed itself, and showedthe thriving seeds of all he wished him to become--how he tracedin him new traits of his early friend, that awakened in his ownbosom old remembrances, melancholy and yet sweet andsoothing--how the two orphans, tried by adversity, remembered itslessons in mercy to others, and mutual love, and fervent thanksto Him who had protected and preserved them--these are allmatters which need not to be told. I have said that they weretruly happy; and without strong affection and humanity of heart,and gratitude to that Being whose code is Mercy, and whose greatattribute is Benevolence to all things that breathe, happinesscan never be attained.

Within the altar of the old village church there stands a whitemarble tablet, which bears as yet but one word: 'AGNES.' Thereis no coffin in that tomb; and may it be many, many years, beforeanother name is placed above it! But, if the spirits of the Deadever come back to earth, to visit spots hallowed by the love--thelove beyond the grave--of those whom they knew in life, I believethat the shade of Agnes sometimes hovers round that solemn nook.I believe it none the less because that nook is in a Church, andshe was weak and erring.

Title: Oliver Twist
Author: Charles Dickens
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