The Good Thief: A Novel

by Hannah Tinti
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What is a summary of chapter 7 of The Good Thief?

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Having just robbed a horse and cart from the farm family that had taken them in, Ren and Benjamin arrive at Granston. Although Benjamin tries to hide his face from the soldiers as he passes them by, Ren is enamored with the hustle and bustle of the place. Granston has many sights that Ren had never been exposed to before: the view of the ocean, the chaotic hubbub of seaside merchants doing business, the advances of the town’s prostitutes onto the salacious soldiers, and more. It appears to be a degenerate place, but one that holds much fascination for the young Ren.

Ren and Benjamin arrive at a run-down building, where they meet Tom, who is apparently a former associate of Benjamin’s. Initially worried that Benjamin plans on leaving him there, Ren tries to show off his ability to read to Tom, whom Ren believes is a teacher. Benjamin, however, quickly reveals the real reason he has been escorting the young man all over England:

“This isn’t a child,” he says, “This is a gold mine.”

“He’s going to open doors, enough for us to get in.”

It suddenly becomes apparent that Benjamin had been using Ren’s boyish innocence as a way to trick others into thinking that Ren was his son. Once gaining their trust, Benjamin had been using people’s sympathy for Ren to rob them when they were not looking.

Tom, a heavy alcoholic, has empty bottles scattered all over his room. Ren, however, still did not grasp the gravity of the situation he had been thrust into. Benjamin discusses the possibility of removing the labels from the empty liquor bottles and filling them with watered-down alcohol so that the duo could sell them as fake elixirs to people in the city. To do this, though, they need extra money. Benjamin suggests that they go “fishing” and asks Tom if he still has his shovel, to which Tom says no.

Ren clearly does not understand what the two are talking about, and naively asks,

“Why do you need a shovel to go fishing?”

Tom reacts suspiciously, but Benjamin brushes the question off, explaining that they use the shovels to find worms. Little does Ren know that Benjamin and Tom actually intend to use the shovel to go grave robbing. The chapter ends with the hungry men looking around the apartment for a bite of food, only to be disappointed.

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