The boy who addressed this inquiry to the young wayfarer, was about his own age: but one of the queerest looking boys that Oliver had even seen.
You say you are an orphan, without a friend in the world; all the inquiries I have been able to make, confirm the statement.
At this point of the inquiry, Oliver raised his head; and, looking round with imploring eyes, murmured a feeble prayer for a draught of water.
To this inquiry the girl returned the not uncommon, but rather evasive reply of ’I don’t know; where do you come from?’
Mr. Bumble, catching at the inquiry very quickly, shook his head with portentous solemnity.
Oliver looked from one to the other, with the greatest surprise; but he was not permitted to make any inquiries; for the two boys walked stealthily across the road, and slunk close behind the old gentleman towards whom his attention had been directed.
He bent over Oliver, and repeated the inquiry; but finding him really incapable of understanding the question; and knowing that his not replying would only infuriate the magistrate the more, and add to the severity of his sentence; he hazarded a guess.
On the next day, fresh search was made, and the inquiries renewed; but with no better success.
’Yes, my dear, yes,’ rejoined the Jew; his eyes glistening, and every muscle in his face working, with the excitement that the inquiry had awakened.
Oliver was not long in making his toilet; having taken some breakfast, he replied to a surly inquiry from Sikes, by saying that he was quite ready.
’Yes,’ said the Jew, answering the mute inquiry; ’bring him down.
’Why, the sight of you, Mr. Fagin, would cure the hoptalmy!’ said this respectable trader, in acknowledgment of the Jew’s inquiry after his health.
At length he returned; and in reply to an anxious inquiry after his patient; looked very mysterious, and closed the door, carefully.
When Mr. Brownlow admitted that on no one point of inquiry could he yet return a satisfactory answer; and that he had postponed any investigation into Oliver’s previous history until he thought the boy was strong enough to hear it; Mr. Grimwig chuckled maliciously.
Mr. Bumble had been despatched to make various preliminary inquiries, with the view of finding out some captain or other who wanted a cabin-boy without any friends; and was returning to the workhouse to communicate the result of his mission; when he encountered at the gate, no less a person than Mr. Sowerberry, the parochial undertaker.
’What do you mean by this?’ said Sikes; backing the inquiry with a very common imprecation concerning the most beautiful of human features: which, if it were heard above, only once out of every fifty thousand times that it is uttered below, would render blindness as common a disorder as measles: ’what do you mean by it?
Mr. Giles, as he spoke, looked at Brittles; but that young man, being naturally modest, probably considered himself nobody, and so held that the inquiry could not have any application to him; at all events, he tendered no reply.
Inquiries were set on foot, and strict searches made.
’Humph!’ said Monks significantly, and with a look of eager inquiry; ’there may be money’s worth to get, eh?’
’We stay in town, of course,’ said Mrs. Maylie, ’while there remains the slightest prospect of prosecuting this inquiry with a chance of success.
Hastily calling this circumstance to mind, he informed the stranger, with an air of mystery, that one woman had been closeted with the old harridan shortly before she died; and that she could, as he had reason to believe, throw some light on the subject of his inquiry.
The Jew seemed much vexed by Oliver’s not expressing any greater curiosity on the subject; but the truth is, that, although Oliver felt very anxious, he was too much confused by the earnest cunning of Fagin’s looks, and his own speculations, to make any further inquiries just then.
Coupling the poor girl’s intelligence with my previous knowledge, and the result of our good friend’s inquiries on the spot, I left him no loophole of escape, and laid bare the whole villainy which by these lights became plain as day.
CHAPTER XXXIX INTRODUCES SOME RESPECTABLE CHARACTERS WITH WHOM THE READER IS ALREADY ACQUAINTED, AND SHOWS HOW MONKS AND THE JEW LAID THEIR WORTHY HEADS TOGETHER On the evening following that upon which the three worthies mentioned in the last chapter, disposed of their little matter of business as therein narrated, Mr. William Sikes, awakening from a nap, drowsily growled forth an inquiry what time of night it was.
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They created a commission of inquiry to look into the matter.
The official inquiry has ended, but the press continues to ask questions.