‘He doats on it, your worship,’ replied Bumble; giving Oliver a sly pinch, to intimate that he had
better not say he didn’t.
‘And he will be a sweep, will he?’ inquired the old gentleman.
‘If we were to bind him to any other trade to-morrow, he’d run away simultaneous, your worship,’ replied Bumble.
‘And this man that’s to be his master—you, sir—you’ll treat him well, and feed him, and do all that sort of thing, will you?’ said the old gentleman.
‘When I says I will, I means I will,’ replied Mr Gamfield doggedly.
‘You’re a rough speaker, my friend, but you look an honest, open-hearted man,’ said the old gentleman: turning his spectacles in the direction of the candidate for Oliver’s premium, whose villainous countenance was a regular stamped receipt for cruelty. But the magistrate was half blind and half childish, so he couldn’t reasonably be expected to discern what other people did.
‘I hope I am, sir,’ said Mr Gamfield, with an ugly leer.
‘I have no doubt you are, my friend,’ replied the old gentleman: fixing his spectacles more firmly on his nose, and looking about him for the inkstand.
It was the critical moment of Oliver’s fate. If the inkstand had been where the old gentleman thought it was, he would have dipped his pen into it, and signed the indentures, and Oliver would have been straightway hurried off.