In Charles Dickens's novel Oliver Twist, the title character is a nine-year-old boy who lives in a workhouse. He and the other children at the workhouse are given very little to eat. Each of the boys are fed thin gruel three times a day, one onion two times a week, and half of a roll every Sunday. Needless to say, the boys are starving and malnourished.
As the children's hunger becomes unbearable, one of the boys says that he is afraid that he will eat one of his companions if he is not given more food. The children draw straws to decide which unlucky boy will be tasked with asking the master for more food. Oliver draws the shortest straw.
That evening, after dinner, Oliver approaches the master and says, "Please, sir, I want some more." The master is shocked and angered by Oliver's request. He hits the young boy on the head with a ladle and holds him by the arm while calling for the beadle.
The beadle informs the board of Oliver's request, and they are all aghast. Mr. Limbkins says that Oliver will be hung. Oliver is immediately confined, and the next morning, a flyer is posted to the gate outside, offering Oliver and a five-pound reward to anyone willing to take the boy.