12 Nancy keeps an appointment


¡¡¡¡On exactly the same night as Nancy had met Rose May lie£¬two people from O liver's home town were making their way towards London£®Their progress was slow£¬since they travelled on foot£¬and in addition£¬the girl was carrying a heavy bag on her back£®The young man carried nothing£®From time to time he turned to shout at the girl behind him£® 'Hurry up£¡What a lazy creature you are£¬Charlotte£¡I'll come and give you a kick if you don't move faster£¡'

¡¡¡¡The young man was Noah Claypole£¬who had made O liver's life so miserable at Mr Sowerberry's house£®He was now taller and uglier but otherwise little changed£®He and Charlotte had grown tired of the undertaking business and had set off to London to start a new life-with all the money from Mr So wer berry's shop in their pockets£®

¡¡¡¡Eventually£¬They entered London£¬and Noah began to look for a quiet£¬cheap pub where They could spend the night£®Charlotte followed obediently at his heels as They walked through a district of narrow£¬dirty streets£®

¡¡¡¡At last Noah found a pub that he thought was suitable£®It was dark and dirty£¬with a few rough-looking men in the bar£®They entered and asked for a room for the night and a meal of cold meat and beer£¬which They ate in the bar£®The beer madeNoah talkative and he began to boast£® 'So it's no more coffins for us£¬my girl£®We can do better than just robbing Mr So wer berry£®In London the re are pockets£¬houses£¬coaches-even banks£¡'

¡¡¡¡'I like the sound of it£¬Noah£¬but how are we going to do all this£¿'asked Charlotte£®

¡¡¡¡'We can meet people who know about the se things£®I'd like to be the leader of some gang£¬if the re's a good profit to be made in that kind of work£®'Noah felt very pleased with himself£¬and looked forward to an easy life of crime in the capital£®

¡¡¡¡They talked about their plans for a few minutes£®The n astranger£¬who had been sitting unseen round the corner£¬cameup to the m£®The stranger was Fagin£®He greeted the m in avery friendly and cheerful way£¬sat down with the m£¬and immediately ordered more beer for Noah£®

¡¡¡¡'That's good beer£¬'said Noah£¬already a little drunk£®He thanked the stranger for the drink£®

¡¡¡¡'Expensive£¬too£¬'said Fagin£® 'If you drink that everyday£¬my dear£¬you'll need to empty pockets£¬houses£¬coaches£¬even banks£®'

¡¡¡¡When he heard his own words repeated£¬Noah went pale with terror£®The stranger must have heard everything£¬even how They had robbed Mr So wer berry£¡

¡¡¡¡'Don't worry£¬'laughed Fagin£¬pulling his chair closer£® 'You're lucky it was only me who heard you£®'

¡¡¡¡'I didn't take it£¬'said Noah quickly£® 'It was the woman who did it£¡'

¡¡¡¡'It does n't matter who did it£¬my dear£¬replied Fagin£¬looking quickly at Charlotte£® 'Because I'm in that business myself£®And the people in my house as well£®I can in trod uce you to the right people£¬if you're interested£®You both look like good workers£®'

¡¡¡¡Charlotte and Noah felt a mixture of fear and pleasure£® 'What would you want me to do£¿'asked Noah£® 'Some thing light£¬if possible£¬'he added£®

¡¡¡¡'What about spying on people£¿'asked Fagin£® 'Or robbing young children who are going shopping for their mothers£¿That's light work£¬and easy£®'

¡¡¡¡Noah laughed£® 'That sounds like just the thing for me£¡And what will I earn for this work£¿'

¡¡¡¡'You can live free in my house£¬and give me half of what you earn£®

¡¡¡¡After fur the r discussion£¬and the transfer of Mr So wer berry's money from Noah's pocket to Fagin's£¬agreement was reached£®The next day Noah and Charlotte went to live in Fagin's house and began to be instructed in their new profession£®

¡¡¡¡Although training and experience had made Nancy an exper tliar£¬she could not completely hide the fear in her mind£®She knew she had taken an enormous risk in going to see RoseMay lie£®If Fagin or Sikes ever found out¡­But she pushed the se fears away£®She was determined to keep her promise to Rose May lie£¬and meet her as arranged£®

¡¡¡¡On the first Sunday night after her meeting with Rose£¬she was in Sikes' room when the clock struck eleven£®Fagin was the re£¬too£¬discussing some business with Sikes£®Nancy stood up and put on her coat£®Sikes watched her£¬surprised£®

¡¡¡¡'Nancy£¡Where are you going at this time of night£¿'

¡¡¡¡'Not far£®'

¡¡¡¡'What kind of answer is that£¿Where are you going£¿'

¡¡¡¡'I don't know£¬'replied the girl£®

¡¡¡¡'The n I do£®Nowhere£®Sit down£®'

¡¡¡¡'I'm not well£®I want a breath of air£®'

¡¡¡¡Sikes got up and locked the door£®

¡¡¡¡'Let me go£¡'said the girl with great force£® 'Just for one hour-let me go£¡'

¡¡¡¡Sikes seized her arms roughly£® 'The girl's gone mad£¡'

¡¡¡¡Nancy fought wildly£¬and Sikes had to hold her down in a chair£®She continued to scream and fight until midnight£¬when£¬exhausted and tearful£¬she stopped struggling£®She went into another room and threw herself on a bed£®

¡¡¡¡'She's a strange girl£¬'Sikes said to Fagin£¬shaking his head£® 'Why did she suddenly decide to go out tonight£¿It hought that after all the se years I'd finally tamed her£®She must be ill-perhaps she's still got a bit of fever£®'

¡¡¡¡'That must be it£¬'said Fagin£¬nodding thoughtfully£®

¡¡¡¡As he walked home£¬Fagin's eyes were sharp with suspicion£®He had suspected for a while that Nancy had become tired of Bill Sikes' brutality and violence£¬and that she had found a new friend to take his place£®Her manner was different£»she often left home alone£¬and she seemed lessinterested in the gang£®And tonight£¬her desperate impatience to go out at a particular hour¡­He was certain he was right£®He began to make plans£®

¡¡¡¡First£¬he wanted to know who Nancy's new friend was£®He could make him a valuable new member of the gang£¬with Nancy as his assistant£®But the re was another£¬darker reason£®Fagin£¬too£¬had become tired of Sikes£®Sikes knew too much-too many dangerous secrets about Fagin himself£®Fagin distrusted everybody£¬but he hated and distrusted Sikes most of all£®It would be very convenient if Sikes could be¡­removed£®

¡¡¡¡'With a little persuasion£¬'Fagin thought£¬ 'perhaps the girl would poison Sikes£®'Suddenly£¬his eyes narrowed in delight£® 'Yes£¡First£¬I must have her watched£¬and find out who her new man is£®The n I shall threaten to tell Sikes everything£®She knows that neither she nor her new man will ever be safe from Sikes' violent jealousy£®She will have no choice except to do as I ask her-and the n£¬once the murder is done£¬she will be in my power for ever£¡'

¡¡¡¡Early next morning Fagin called the newest member of his gang£®Noah was doing very well£®He had already broughthome quite a lot of money£®He had found that robbing small children was indeed light£¬easy work£¬and he was proud of his success£®

¡¡¡¡'I have another job for you now£¬'Fagin told him£® 'It needs great care and secrecy£®I want you to follow a woman£®I want to know where she goes£¬who she sees£¬and if possible£¬what she says£®I will pay you a pound for this information£®'

¡¡¡¡Noah's eyes were wide with greed£® 'I'm the right man forthis job£®Who is she£¿'

¡¡¡¡'One of us£®'

¡¡¡¡'What£¿You don't trust her£¬the n£¿'

¡¡¡¡'Exactly so£¬my dear£®Exactly so£¬'smiled Fagin£®The following Sunday£¬soon after eleven o'clock£¬a woman walked quickly through the dark streets towards Lond on Bridge£®A mist hung over the river£¬and the buildings on the far bank could hardly be seen£®A man followed some distance behind her£¬keeping to the darkest shadows£®It was a cold£¬damp night£¬and the re were very few people on the streets at this late hour£®

¡¡¡¡When the woman reached the centre of the bridge£¬she stopped and looked around anxiously£®The man following hers topped too£®The heavy bell of St Paul's cathe dral rang out£¬announcing the death of another day£®Just as it finished£¬agrey haired man and a young woman got out of a coach and walked across the bridge£®They met the woman£¬who tookthe m down some steps leading to the river bank£®They stood indeep shadow by the wall of the bridge£®The man hurried down some other steps£¬crept up to the corner of the wall£¬and listened£®

¡¡¡¡Nancy spoke first£® 'I'm so frightened tonight I can hardly breathe £®'

¡¡¡¡'Frightened of what£¿'asked Mr Brown low £®He seemed topity her£®

¡¡¡¡'I wish I knew£®Horrible thoughts of death£¬and blood£¬have been with me all day£®I don't know why£®'

¡¡¡¡'Speak to her kindly£¬'said Rose to Mr Brown low £® 'Poorgirl£¡She seems to need it£®'

¡¡¡¡'I could n't come last Sunday£¬'continued the girl£® 'I was kept in by force£®But tonight he'll be out all night untilday light£®Now£¬before I tell rou anything else£¬I must tell you that I don't want Fagin£¬or any of the other members of the gang£¬to be hand ed to the police£®'

¡¡¡¡'Why not£¿'

¡¡¡¡'Because I couldn't betray the m£®They've been loyal to me£¬and I'll stay loyal to the m£®'

¡¡¡¡'The n just tell us how we can get Monks£¬and I promisen one of your friends will be harmed£¬'said Mr Brown low £®

¡¡¡¡'And Monks will never know how you found out about him£¿'she asked£®

¡¡¡¡'We promise£¬'said Rose gently£®

¡¡¡¡Nancy the n told the m£¬in so low a voice that the listenerround the corner could hardly hear her£¬where Monks often went for a drink£¬and what he looked like£®She finished by saying£¬ 'On his throat£¬high up£¬the re is¡ª'

¡¡¡¡'A bright red mark£¿'asked Mr Brown low £®

¡¡¡¡'Do you know him£¿'asked Nancy in surprise£®

¡¡¡¡'I think I do£®'Mr Brown low murmured to himself£¬ 'It must be him£¡'The n more loudly£¬he said to Nancy£¬ 'Thank you for everything you've told us£®But now-how can you go back to the se people£¿Come with us now£¬tonight£®We canarr ange for you to be hidden from the m all forever£¬if you want us to£®'

¡¡¡¡The girl shook her head£® 'I'm chained to him£¬bad as Theyare£®I've gone too far to change my life now£®'She looked nervously over her shoulder£® 'I can feel those dreadful terrors again-visions of blood and death£®I must go home£®'

¡¡¡¡Mr Brown low and Rose could not persuade her to change her mind Sadly£¬They turned to leave£¬and when They had gone£¬Nancy fell to the ground in a storm of tears£®Meanwhile£¬Noah Claypole£¬amazed by all that he had heard£¬crept up the steps and ran for Fagin's house as fast as his legs could carry him£®Some hours later£¬nearly two hours before dawn£¬Noah laya sleep in Fagin's house£®But Fagin sat silently by a dead fire£¬staring at the flame of a candle on tne table beside him£®With his pale£¬wrinkled face and his red£¬staring eyes£¬he looked like a devil out of hell£®Hatred ran like poison through hisevery thought£®Hatred for the girl who had dared to talk to strangers£¬who had ruined his plan to get rid of Sikes£®He did not believe her promise not to betray him£¬and he feared that he would now be caught£¬and hung£®

¡¡¡¡Just before dawn Sikes entered the room£¬carrying a bundle which contained the results of his night's work£®Fagin took what Sikes gave him£¬the n stared at the robber for a long time with out speaking£®

¡¡¡¡'Why are you looking at me like that£¿'asked Sikes£¬uneasy at the old man's strange expression£®

¡¡¡¡Fagin raised his hand £¬but his passion was so great that hecould not speak£®

¡¡¡¡'Say something£¬will you£¡'shouted Sikes£¬placing his huge hand on Fagin's collar and shaking him in his anger and fear£®

¡¡¡¡'Open your mouth and say what you've got to say£¡'

¡¡¡¡Eventually Fagin found his voice£® 'Bill£¬what would you do if one of the gang went out at night and told someone all about us£¬and what we'd done£¿What would you do to him£¿'

¡¡¡¡'I'd smash his head into little pieces£¬'said the robber£¬swearing violently£®

¡¡¡¡'And what if it was me£¬who knows so much about all ofus£¬and could put us all in prison and get us all hanged£¿'whispered Fagin£¬his eyes flashing with hate£®

¡¡¡¡'I'd beat your brains out in public£®Even in the law-court£¬I'd run over and kill you with my bare hand s£¬'said Sikes£¬showing his teeth in his anger£® 'I don't care who it was£¬that's what I'd do£®'

¡¡¡¡Fagin woke Noah£® 'Tell Bill what you told me£¬what you saw£¬what she did£®Tell him£¡'

¡¡¡¡Noah rubbed the sleep from his eyes and told Sikes every thing His face white with passion£¬Sikes listened to the end£¬the n£¬swearing furioustly£¬he rushed from the room and down the stairs£®

¡¡¡¡'Bill£¡'Fagin called after him£® 'You won't be¡­too violent£¿'

¡¡¡¡Sikes made no reply£¬but£¬pulling open the door£¬ran out into the silent streets£®He did not turn his head to right or left£¬but looked straight in front of him with wild determination£®He ran at great speed£¬his eyes on fire£¬his teeth tight together£¬and did not pause until he reached his own door£®He ran up to his room£¬entered and locked the door£¬put a table against it£¬the n woke Nancy£®

¡¡¡¡'Bill£¡'she said£¬pleased to see him£®But when she saw his expression£¬the colour went out of her face£® 'What's the matter£¿'she said in alarm£®

¡¡¡¡'You know what£®'Sikes took out his gun£¬but realizing£¬even in his madness£¬that a shot might be heard£¬he beat her twice across the face with it as hard as he could£®She fell£¬with low cry of pain and terror£¬almost blinded by the blood that flowed from the cut on her forehead£®The murderer staggered to a corner£¬seized a heavy stick and struck her down£®