Chapters 42–46 Summary
The narrative backtracks to the moment when Nancy goes to speak to Rose at the hotel. At the same time, Noah Claypole and Charlotte are making their way to London on foot. Charlotte has taken money from Sowerberry’s till, and the two have run away, because Noah wants to try to become rich and make himself a gentleman in London. They stop at the Three Cripples to seek food, drink, and lodging for the night. Barney provides them with lodging and brings meat and a porter.
As Noah and Charlotte talk, Fagin happens to come in and overhear their conversation. Noah tells Charlotte he wants to rob people and lead a band of thieves. Fagin approaches the two and says he is involved in the kind of “work” he has overheard Noah praising. Fagin admires the control Noah has over Charlotte and offers the two runaways a place in his crime ring. Noah reveals that he wants a job that is not too difficult and turns down several options before settling on one that appeals to him: stealing money from children who are running errands for their mothers. Noah tells Fagin his name is Morris Bolter, and after Fagin leaves, Noah proudly tells Charlotte about his new line of work.
Noah, in the guise of “Morris,” goes to meet Fagin and realizes that Fagin is in charge of the operation. The two have a circuitous conversation wherein Fagin tells Noah to look out “for number one,” himself, but also that Fagin is “number one.” Bolter is impressed when he learns the extent of Fagin’s business. Fagin reveals that his “best hand,” the Artful Dodger, has been arrested, and Fagin is concerned he will get a life sentence. Charley informs Fagin that the owner of the stolen snuff box will testify against Jack and worries Jack’s life will end without glory. Fagin reminds Charley that Jack was always considered the best thief among them, a fact that should count toward his honor. Fagin and Charley lighten the mood by imagining Jack’s likely misbehavior in court, and Charley laughs hysterically as usual.
Fagin decides they need more information on how Jack is doing, so he sends a hesitant Noah to the jail. Noah is able to witness Jack as he is being brought into court. Jack acts disrespectfully toward the officials and the plaintiff and claims he won’t receive proper justice there. Noah returns to tell Fagin about how Jack is making them proud by remaining his mischievous self.
Fagin, Sikes, and Nancy are gathered at Sikes’s abode, and Nancy awaits the time when she must depart for London Bridge to meet Rose Maylie. Nancy has been brooding since her meeting with Rose at the hotel, and when she tries to leave on Sunday night, Sikes forbids her. She says she needs air, and he tells her to put her head out of the window to get air. He keeps her there by force, so she misses her appointment. Nancy becomes exuberant and moody, and she begins to laugh loudly and rock herself.
Fagin decides to leave, and Nancy is ordered to walk down with him to light his way with a candle. Fagin takes the opportunity to question her behavior, to inquire whether there is something he can help her with that Sikes cannot know. Nancy does not confess, leaving Fagin to imagine a complex scenario in which Nancy has found a new male friend with whom she hopes to replace Sikes. He thinks maybe Nancy will agree to poison Sikes, which would get him out of Fagin’s way as well.
Suspicious of Nancy’s behavior and eager to learn her secret, Fagin sends Noah to follow her and bring back information about where she goes and to whom she speaks. He promises more information later. On Sunday, Fagin approaches Noah and excitedly tells him that Nancy will be going out. Fagin’s intensity inspires Noah, who is enthusiastic to begin his mission. Around eleven that night, Fagin points Nancy out to Noah in the pub. Soon, Nancy exits the pub, and Fagin makes sure Noah can identify her. Fagin runs off and leaves Noah to the business. Noah...
(The entire section is 1,139 words.)