‘Three pound ten,’ repeated Mr Limbkins, firmly.
‘Come! I’ll split the diff’erence, gen’l’men,’ urged Gamfield. ‘Three pound fifteen.’
‘Not a farthing more,’ was the firm reply of Mr Limbkins.
‘You’re desperate hard upon me, gen’l’men,’ said Gamfield, wavering.
‘Pooh! pooh! nonsense!’ said the gentleman in the white waistcoat. ‘He’d be cheap with nothing at all, as a premium. Take him, you silly fellow! He’s just the boy for you. He wants the stick, now and then: it’ll do him good; and his board needn’t come very expensive, for he hasn’t been overfed since he was born. Ha ha ha’
Mr Gamfield gave an arch look at the faces round the table, and, observing a smile on all of them, gradually broke into a smile himself. The bargain was made. Mr Bumble, was at once instructed that Oliver Twist and his indentures were to be conveyed before the magistrate, for signature and approval, that very afternoon. In pursuance of this determination, little Oliver, to his excessive astonishment, was released from bondage, and ordered to put himself into a clean shirt. He had hardly achieved this very unusual gymnastic performance, when Mr Bumble brought him, with his own hands, a basin of gruel, and the holiday allowance of two ounces and a quarter of bread. At this tremendous sight, Oliver began to cry very piteously: thinking, not unnaturally, that the board must have determined to kill him for some useful purpose, or they never would have begun to fatten him up in that way.
‘Don’t make your eyes red, Oliver, but eat your food and be thankful,’ said Mr Bumble, in a tone of impressive pomposity. ‘You’re a going to be made a ‘prentice of, Oliver.’
‘A prentice, sir!’ said the child, trembling.