"Hello" I said, but she didn't listen. I said it again, she didn't answer. I was beginning to wonder whether she was deaf, when she turned to face me and abruptly asked if I knew of a place to stay. When my reply came she was fast to say "take me there quick". so I did.
It was only when we were properly in the place, did I then ask her name and why she was in a rush. I found out that her name was Alice, she had run away from the workhouse and as a result was attempting to hide. I liked her from then on, I admired her bravery to find the means to escape , seemingly unnoticed. I was so glad when she was put with me and Charlie on the rounds, it gave me a chance to get to know her more.
I taught her all I know, (which is more then Charlie knows.) she got better and better, although I told no one, but I thought Alice would make a brilliant Artful Dodger. I didn't let on because;
No.1: that was my title and I wasn't prepared to give it up that easily, and
No.2: I didn't want her to change rounds.
Then things changed. That day Charlie was not with us, he was ill, it was quite a good round, we managed to get more then usual. Alice was just finishing the last job of the day, when I noticed a fair-haired boy staring at me. I tried to avoid his eye contact, so when he didn't go I asked " what do you want?" he looked at me, head titled looking as innocent as innocent can be.
" I was only wondering if you knew of somewhere to stay"
For a moment I had a flashback, I saw Alice when I first met her using similar words to what this boy had just spoken. This vision was momentarily broken when Alice jumped on my back and as usual I caught her.
" who's this Jack?" (I let her call me Jack , everyone else called me Dodger.)
When the boy told us his name Alice went white, as white as a ghost. I didn't see any significance in the name 'Oliver Twist' but Alice did. I wouldn't pry I'd wait till she told me.
We took Oliver back to Fagin's place. I asked Oliver a few questions on the way but stopped because it was making Alice go whiter.
We entered, trying to be as inconspicuous as possible but we arrived at dinner time and everyone had heard the door creaking open, as a consequence, ran to great us, tearing Oliver's small bag of belongings away from him. Alice shouted and the boys hesitated; no one had heard Alice shout before.
Fagin, after hearing all the commotion, had come out from cooking the sausages , he bellow at the boys and they scarpered back to their seats. I helped Alice gather up Oliver's belongings and took him to an empty seat next to me.
We ate dinner with no more questions asked apart from the obvious 'what's your name?'. Fagin agreed to let him stay and supplied him with a large basket for a bed.(this was usually Alice's bed but she gave it up for Oliver and slept on the floor.)
During the night Alice got cold and she came into my bed, taking this opportunity to explain her reason for going ghost white earlier in the day. I was quite shocked as she told me that she believed that Oliver was her younger brother but it all fitted; his age, his name, the place he came from. I promised I wouldn't tell anyone until Alice was certain that he was her brother and when she felt the time was right.
In the morning, Fagin got frightened because of Alice's moving from the floor during the night, he had thought she had disappeared. We were sent on the usual round with one addition, Oliver, it was rather a large number for one round but Charlie still wasn't quite up to scratch and I was the top man so to speak so it seemed right to add him to the team.
It was Alice's turn to go last, mine to go first. The gentleman was very rich, his clothes told me that. A man that's bound to have lots of money. Anyway, I took the wallet, Charlie snatched it out of my hand and thrust it into Oliver's hands. The gentleman turned noticing the wallet was gone and seeing Oliver holding it, politely asked if he could have it back.
Oliver not knowing what to do, ran for it. I must admit this is what I would have done if I had been in the same situation. (although, I probably won't be innocent in the matter) Alice ran after him, I shouted after her telling her to stop but she was gone out of sight. After hitting Charlie hard on the arm, I told him that we had better directed the police. Charlie didn't understand at first partly because he was still dazed at me hitting his arm so hard (but I wasn't going to say sorry he deserved it, getting Oliver in trouble like that and endangering Alice.) what I meant by that was to direct the oncoming policeman in the opposite direction so Alice and Oliver had a chance of escaping.
We managed this quite well, held them up 'till the square, by then everyone could see them, and Oliver had the stupidity to go up the ladder which lead to the railway. I noticed Alice had halted at thought of following him up there. The sound of the trundling wheels made the crowd gasp, only then did Alice make her move. I wish she hadn't, it would have saved a lot of bother in then long run, then so would it have been if Charlie had not given the wallet in the first place- Charlie can be a nuisance at the best of times but this had to be the worst of it. I knew that Alice had a slight worry that Oliver wouldn't know what to do if the train caught up with him, so I suppose she did the right thing.
I could see Alice telling Oliver something, I had a pretty good guess at what; her voice seemed to linger just enough for me to hear 'when the train comes, keep to the side and duck'
This reassured me that she would be alright, that they'd be alright.
The train passed, gasps from the spectators could be heard from everyone around me, even I held my breath, it was as though the whole world had paused for that brief moment. Then, action! A policeman ran up the ladder and grabbed Oliver and Alice at the same time. I grabbed Charlie and gestured for him to leave, not wishing to see any more.
All the way back I was thinking hard on what I would tell Fagin, it was all Charlie's fault but would Fagin buy that? I hoped so, he knew I never normally let Alice get into trouble, so he probably would. I was quite relieved when all he did was knock my hat off, (disrespectful to an Artful Dodger, but nevertheless I was glad it was merely that- although I felt I deserved more) After I told him that Charlie was the main culprit and that I would collect them tomorrow, after all they where both innocent this time so it should be easy to get them of any charges.
I kept on at Fagin that I would get them from the trail, but when Nancy offered to go instead, Fagin said it would be easier if she went and with Fagin's mind set and Nancy prepared to go, I didn't bother trying for I knew I wouldn't have a chance.
The next day, Nancy came back empty- handed. To prevent me from flying at her for not bringing Alice back, I made my bed, for once! I found Alice's hair ribbon which she had forgotten to put on the previous day. I sat there, on my newly made bed, holding the blue ribbon in my hand, hoping that Alice and Oliver would be alright with this gentleman.
I was thinking that I would never see them again, when I heard Bill shouting that they should get them back somehow, for they might tell about this place and the people in here. It angered me , that Bill, even Fagin, was agreeing that they might tell.
Arising from my perch on the bed, I made myself visible as I shouted:
"Alice wouldn't tell and she would make sure Oliver didn't!"
Bill asked me what made think that she wouldn't; at the same time Fagin told me 'to get out of it'. I ignored Fagin and answered Bill. My answer made everyone in the room fall silent and I was made to repeat it, as if they hadn't heard, I sighed repeating; 'Oliver's Alice's brother.'
" and how long have you know that?"
I didn't know who had said that, though I tried to ignore it, someone else asked the same question.
"since Oliver first came here"
I walked back towards my bed, hoping to leave the subject, when I was abruptly asked when I thought I was going to tell them about it. My anger was rising almost to the point of boiling, I shouted; "Alice didn't want anyone to know until she could be certain and I wasn't going show any disrespect to her wishes!" The day ended on my note. We had no dinner- not that I was hungry after the events of the day.