Oliver Twist – Day 92 of 173

‘It’s the runners!’ cried Brittles, to all appearance much relieved.

‘The what?’ exclaimed the doctor, aghast in his turn.

‘The Bow Street officers, sir,’ replied Brittles, taking up a candle; ‘me and Mr. Giles sent for ’em this morning.’

‘What?’ cried the doctor.

‘Yes,’ replied Brittles; ‘I sent a message up by the coachman, and I only wonder they weren’t here before, sir.’

‘You did, did you? Then confound your–slow coaches down here; that’s all,’ said the doctor, walking away.

Chapter XXXI: Involves A Critical Position

‘Who’s that?’ inquired Brittles, opening the door a little way, with the chain up, and peeping out, shading the candle with his hand.

‘Open the door,’ replied a man outside; ‘it’s the officers from Bow Street, as was sent to to-day.’

Much comforted by this assurance, Brittles opened the door to its full width, and confronted a portly man in a great-coat; who walked in, without saying anything more, and wiped his shoes on the mat, as coolly as if he lived there.

‘Just send somebody out to relieve my mate, will you, young man?’ said the officer; ‘he’s in the gig, a-minding the prad. Have you got a coach ’us here, that you could put it up in, for five or ten minutes?’

Brittles replying in the affirmative, and pointing out the building, the portly man stepped back to the garden-gate, and helped his companion to put up the gig: while Brittles lighted them, in a state of great admiration. This done, they returned to the house, and, being shown into a parlour, took off their great-coats and hats, and showed like what they were.

The man who had knocked at the door, was a stout personage of middle height, aged about fifty: with shiny black hair, cropped pretty close; half-whiskers, a round face, and sharp eyes. The other was a red-headed, bony man, in top-boots; with a rather ill-favoured countenance, and a turned-up sinister-looking nose.

‘Tell your governor that Blathers and Duff is here, will you?’ said the stouter man, smoothing down his hair, and laying a pair of handcuffs on the table. ‘Oh! Good-evening, master. Can I have a word or two with you in private, if you please?’

This was addressed to Mr. Losberne, who now made his appearance; that gentleman, motioning Brittles to retire, brought in the two ladies, and shut the door.

‘This is the lady of the house,’ said Mr. Losberne, motioning towards Mrs. Maylie.

Mr. Blathers made a bow. Being desired to sit down, he put his hat on the floor, and taking a chair, motioned to Duff to do the same. The latter gentleman, who did not appear quite so much accustomed to good society, or quite so much at his ease in it–one of the two–seated himself, after undergoing several muscular affections of the limbs, and the head of his stick into his mouth, with some embarrassment.

‘Now, with regard to this here robbery, master,’ said Blathers. ‘What are the circumstances?’

Mr. Losberne, who appeared desirous of gaining time, recounted them at great length, and with much circumlocution. Messrs. Blathers and Duff looked very knowing meanwhile, and occasionally exchanged a nod.

‘I can’t say, for certain, till I see the work, of course,’ said Blathers; ‘but my opinion at once is,–I don’t mind committing myself to that extent,–that this wasn’t done by a yokel; eh, Duff?’

‘Certainly not,’ replied Duff.

‘And, translating the word yokel for the benefit of the ladies, I apprehend your meaning to be, that this attempt was not made by a countryman?’ said Mr. Losberne, with a smile.

‘That’s it, master,’ replied Blathers. ‘This is all about the robbery, is it?’

‘All,’ replied the doctor.

‘Now, what is this, about this here boy that the servants are a-talking on?’ said Blathers.

‘Nothing at all,’ replied the doctor. ‘One of the frightened servants chose to take it into his head, that he had something to do with this attempt to break into the house; but it’s nonsense: sheer absurdity.’

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