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Charles Dickens > Oliver Twist > Chapter LIII

Oliver Twist

Chapter LIII


The fortunes of those who have figured in this tale are nearly
closed. The little that remains to their historian to relate, is
told in few and simple words.

Before three months had passed, Rose Fleming and Harry Maylie
were married in the village church which was henceforth to be the
scene of the young clergyman's labours; on the same day they
entered into possession of their new and happy home.

Mrs. Maylie took up her abode with her son and daughter-in-law,
to enjoy, during the tranquil remainder of her days, the greatest
felicity that age and worth can know--the contemplation of the
happiness of those on whom the warmest affections and tenderest
cares of a well-spent life, have been unceasingly bestowed.

It appeared, on full and careful investigation, that if the wreck
of property remaining in the custody of Monks (which had never
prospered either in his hands or in those of his mother) were
equally divided between himself and Oliver, it would yield, to
each, little more than three thousand pounds. By the provisions
of his father's will, Oliver would have been entitled to the
whole; but Mr. Brownlow, unwilling to deprive the elder son of
the opportunity of retrieving his former vices and pursuing an
honest career, proposed this mode of distribution, to which his
young charge joyfully acceded.

Monks, still bearing that assumed name, retired with his portion
to a distant part of the New World; where, having quickly
squandered it, he once more fell into his old courses, and, after
undergoing a long confinement for some fresh act of fraud and
knavery, at length sunk under an attack of his old disorder, and
died in prison. As far from home, died the chief remaining
members of his friend Fagin's gang.

Mr. Brownlow adopted Oliver as his son. Removing with him and
the old housekeeper to within a mile of the parsonage-house,
where his dear friends resided, he gratified the only remaining
wish of Oliver's warm and earnest heart, and thus linked together
a little society, whose condition approached as nearly to one of
perfect happiness as can ever be known in this changing world.

Soon after the marriage of the young people, the worthy doctor
returned to Chertsey, where, bereft of the presence of his old
friends, he would have been discontented if his temperament had
admitted of such a feeling; and would have turned quite peevish
if he had known how. For two or three months, he contented
himself with hinting that he feared the air began to disagree
with him; then, finding that the place really no longer was, to
him, what it had been, he settled his business on his assistant,
took a bachelor's cottage outside the village of which his young
friend was pastor, and instantaneously recovered. Here he took
to gardening, planting, fishing, carpentering, and various other
pursuits of a similar kind: all undertaken with his
characteristic impetuosity. In each and all he has since become
famous throughout the neighborhood, as a most profound authority.

Before his removal, he had managed to contract a strong
friendship for Mr. Grimwig, which that eccentric gentleman
cordially reciprocated. He is accordingly visited by Mr. Grimwig
a great many times in the course of the year. On all such
occasions, Mr. Grimwig plants, fishes, and carpenters, with great
ardour; doing everything in a very singular and unprecedented
manner, but always maintaining with his favourite asseveration,
that his mode is the right one. On Sundays, he never fails to
criticise the sermon to the young clergyman's face: always
informing Mr. Losberne, in strict confidence afterwards, that he
considers it an excellent performance, but deems it as well not
to say so. It is a standing and very favourite joke, for Mr.
Brownlow to rally him on his old prophecy concerning Oliver, and
to remind him of the night on which they sat with the watch
between them, waiting his return; but Mr. Grimwig contends that
he was right in the main, and, in proof thereof, remarks that
Oliver did not come back after all; which always calls forth a
laugh on his side, and increases his good humour.

Mr. Noah Claypole: receiving a free pardon from the Crown in
consequence of being admitted approver against Fagin: and
considering his profession not altogether as safe a one as he
could wish: was, for some little time, at a loss for the means
of a livelihood, not burdened with too much work. After some
consideration, he went into business as an Informer, in which
calling he realises a genteel subsistence. His plan is, to walk
out once a week during church time attended by Charlotte in
respectable attire. The lady faints away at the doors of
charitable publicans, and the gentleman being accommodated with
three-penny worth of brandy to restore her, lays an information
next day, and pockets half the penalty. Sometimes Mr. Claypole
faints himself, but the result is the same.

Mr. and Mrs. Bumble, deprived of their situations, were gradually
reduced to great indigence and misery, and finally became paupers
in that very same workhouse in which they had once lorded it over
others. Mr. Bumble has been heard to say, that in this reverse
and degradation, he has not even spirits to be thankful for being
separated from his wife.

As to Mr. Giles and Brittles, they still remain in their old
posts, although the former is bald, and the last-named boy quite
grey. They sleep at the parsonage, but divide their attentions
so equally among its inmates, and Oliver and Mr. Brownlow, and
Mr. Losberne, that to this day the villagers have never been able
to discover to which establishment they properly belong.

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

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

I would fain linger yet with a few of those among whom I have so
long moved, and share their happiness by endeavouring to depict
it. I would show Rose Maylie in all the bloom and grace of early
womanhood, shedding on her secluded path in life soft and gentle
light, that fell on all who trod it with her, and shone into
their hearts. I would paint her the life and joy of the
fire-side circle and the lively summer group; I would follow her
through the sultry fields at noon, and hear the low tones of her
sweet voice in the moonlit evening walk; I would watch her in all
her goodness and charity abroad, and the smiling untiring
discharge of domestic duties at home; I would paint her and her
dead sister's child happy in their love for one another, and
passing whole hours together in picturing the friends whom they
had so sadly lost; I would summon before me, once again, those
joyous little faces that clustered round her knee, and listen to
their merry prattle; I would recall the tones of that clear
laugh, and conjure up the sympathising tear that glistened in the
soft blue eye. These, and a thousand looks and smiles, and turns
fo thought and speech--I would fain recall them every one.

How Mr. Brownlow went on, from day to day, filling the mind of
his adopted child with stores of knowledge, and becoming attached
to him, more and more, as his nature developed itself, and showed
the thriving seeds of all he wished him to become--how he traced
in him new traits of his early friend, that awakened in his own
bosom old remembrances, melancholy and yet sweet and
soothing--how the two orphans, tried by adversity, remembered its
lessons in mercy to others, and mutual love, and fervent thanks
to Him who had protected and preserved them--these are all
matters which need not to be told. I have said that they were
truly happy; and without strong affection and humanity of heart,
and gratitude to that Being whose code is Mercy, and whose great
attribute is Benevolence to all things that breathe, happiness
can never be attained.

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

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