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3  O liver goes to London

 

O liver was now officially an undertaker’s assistantIt was a goodsickly time of yearand coffins were selling well. O liver gained a lot of experience in a short timeand was interested to see how brave some people were after a death in the family. During funerals for some rich people for examplehe saw that the people who had cried the loudest in church usually recovered the fastest afterwardsHe noticed how in other wealthy families the wife or the husband often seemed quite cheerful and calm despite the recent death-just as if nothing had happenedO liver was very surprised to see all this and greatly admired the m for controlling their sadness so well.

He was treated badly by most of the people around himNoah was jealous because O liver went out to burials while he was left back in the shopso he treated him even worse than beforeCharlotte treated him badly because Noah did. And Mrs Sowerberry was his enemy because Mr Sowerberry was supposed to be his friend.

One day something happened which might seem unimportantbut which had a great effect on O liver’s future. Noah was in a particularly bad mood one dinner-timeand so he tried to make O liver cry by hitting himpulling his hairand calling him horrible names. This was all unsuccessful so he tried personal insults

 ‘Workhouse how’s your mother’ he asked

 ‘She’s dead’replied O liverhis face going red with emotion

Noah hoped that O liver was going to cry so he continued

 ‘What  did  she  die  of Workhouse

 ‘Of a broken heart I was told’And a tear rolled down O liver’s  cheek.

 ‘Why  are  you  cryingWorkhouse

O liver remained silentand Noah grew braver ‘You knowI feel very sorry for youWorkhousebut the truth is your mother  was  a  wicked  woman

O liver seemed suddenly to wake up. ‘What did you say

 ‘She was so bad it was lucky she died or she would have ended up in prisonor hung.’

His face bright red with angerO liver jumped up seized Noah’s throat and shook the older boy so violently that his teeth nearly fell out. The n he hit him with all his strength and knocked him to the ground

 ‘He’ll murder me’screamed Noah ‘Charlotte HelpO liver’s gone mad

Charlotte and Mrs Sowerberry ran in and screamed in horrorThey took hold of O liver and began to heat him The n Noah got up and started to kick him from behindWhen They were all tired They forced O liver who was still fighting and shouting into  the  cellar  and  locked  it

Mrs Sowerberry sat down breathing heavily ‘He’s like a wild animal’she said ‘We could all have been murdered in our beds

 ‘I hope Mr Sowerberry doesn’t take any more of the se dreadful creatures from the workhouse’said Charlotte ‘Poor Noah was nearly killed’Mrs Sowerberry looked at Noah sympathetically.

Noah who was twice O liver’s size pretended to rub tears from his eyes

 ‘What shall we do’ cried Mrs Sowerberry ‘He’ll kick that door down in ten minutes.’ They could hear O liver banging and kicking at the cellar door ‘Noah-run and get Mr Bumble

So Noah ran through the streets as quickly as he could to fetch the beadle When he reached the workhouse he waited for a minute to make sure his face was suitably tearful and frightened.

As soon as Mr Bumble came outNoah cried ‘Mr BumbleMr Bumble It’s O liver TwistsirHe’s become violentHe tried to murder me sir And Charlotte and Mrs Sowerberry as well.’

Mr Bumble was shocked and angry ‘Did heI’ll come up the re immediately and beat him with my stick

When he arrived at the shopO liver was still kicking wildly at the cellar door.

 ‘Let me out’he shouted from the cellarwhen he heard Mr Bumble’s voice ‘I’m not afraid of you

Mr Bumble stopped for a momentamazed and even rather frightened by this change in O liver The n he said to Mrs Sowerberry ‘It’s the meat that’s caused this you know.’

 ‘What

 ‘Meat madam. You’ve fed him too well here. Back in the workhouse this would never have happened.’

 ‘I knew I was too generous to him’said Mrs Sowerberryraising her eyes to the ceiling

At that moment Mr Sowerberry returned andhearing what had happenedaccording to the ladies), he beat O liver so hard that even Mr Bumble and Mrs Sowerberry were satisfied Mr Sowerberry was not a cruel manbut he had no choice. He knew that if he didn’t punish O liver his wife would never forgive him

That night alone in the room with the coffinsO liver cried bitter lonely tears He did not sleep and very early in the morning before anyone was awake he quietly unlocked the shop door and left the house He ran up the street and through the town as far as the main roadwhere he saw a sign that told him it was just seventy miles from the re to London. The name London gave the boy an ideaThat huge place Nobody  not even Mr Bumble could ever find him the reHe had heard old men in the workhouse say it was a good place for brave boysand  that  the re  was always work  the re  for  those  that  wanted  itIt would be the best place for himHe jumped to his feet and walked forward again

But after only four miles he began to realize just how far he would have to walk He stopped to think about it He had a piece of bread a rough shirt two pairs of socks and a penny. But he could not see how the se would help him get to London any faster so he continued walking

He walked twenty miles that day The only thing he had to eat was his piece of bread and some water which he begged from houses near the road. He slept the first night in a fieldfeeling lonely tired cold and hungry. He was even hungrier the next morning when he woke up and he had to buy some more bread with his pennyThat day he walked only twelve miles His legs were so weak that They shook beneath him

The next day he tried to beg for money but large signs in some villages warned him that anyone caught begging would be sent to prison. Travellers on the road refused to give him money They said he was a lazy young dog and didn’t deserve anything. Farmers threatened to send their dogs after himWhen he waited outside pubsthe pubowners chased him away because They thought he had come to steal somethingOnly  two  people  were  kind  enough  to  feed  him an old  woman and a gatekeeper on the road. If They had not given him some food he surely would have died like his mother.

Early on the seventh morning of his journey O liver finally reached the little town of Barnetjust outside London. Exhaustedhe sat down at the side of the road. His feet were bleeding and he was covered in dust He was too tired even to begThe n he noticed that a boy who had passed him a few minutes beforehad returned and was now looking at him carefully from the opposite side of the road After a long time the boy crossed the road and said to O liver

 ‘Hello What’s the  matter the n

The boy was about O liver’s age but was one of the strangest-looking people he had ever seen. He had a dirtyordinary boy’s face but he behaved as if he were an adult He was short for his age and had little sharpugly eyes. His hat was stuck on top of his head but it looked as though it would blow off at any minute He wore a man’s coat which reached almost down to his feet with sleeves so long that his hands were completely covered.

 ‘I’m very tired and hungry’answered O liver almost crying ‘I’ve been walking for a week

 ‘A week The magistrate’s order was it

 ‘The magistrateWhat’s that

 ‘A magistrate’s a kind of judge’explained the surprised young gentleman. He realized O liver did not have much experience of the world ‘Never mind thatYou want some food’ he went on. ‘I haven’t got much money but don’t worryI’ll pay

The boy helped O liver to his feet and took him to a pub. Meat bread and beer  were placed before O liver and his new friend urged him to  satisfy his hunger While O liver was eating the strange boy looked at him from time to time with great attention

 ‘Going  to  London’ he  asked  him  finally

 ‘Yes.’

 ‘Got anywhere to live

 ‘No

 ‘Money

 ‘No

The strange boy whistled and put his arms into his pockets as far as the big coat sleeves would allow him ‘I suppose you want to sleep somewhere tonight don’t you

 ‘I do’ replied O liver ‘I haven’t slept under a roof since I started my journey

 ‘Well don’t worryI’ve got to be in London tonight and I know a very nice old gentleman the re who’ll let you live in his place and not even ask you for money

O liver was deeply grateful for this offer of shelter and talked for a long time with his new friend His name was Jack Dawkins but he was usually called ‘The Artful Dodger’ ‘Artful’ because he was very clever at getting what he wantedand ‘Dodger’ because he was very good at not getting caught when he did something wrongWhen he heard thisO liver felt rather doubtful about having such a friendHoweverhe wanted first to meet the kind old gentleman in Londonwho would help himAfter thathe could decide whether to continue the friendship with the Artful Dodger


 

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