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Chapter 22

THE BURGLARY

'Hallo!' cried a loud, hoarse voice, as soon as they set foot in the passage.

'Don't make such a row,' said Sikes, bolting the door. 'Show a glim, Toby.'

'Aha! my pal!' cried the same voice. 'A glim, Barney, a glim! Show the gentleman in, Barney; wake up first, if convenient.'

The speaker appeared to throw a boot-jack, or some such article, at the person he addressed, to rouse him from his slumbers: for the noise of a wooden body, falling violently, was heard; and then an indistinct muttering, as of a man between sleep and awake.

'Do you hear?' cried the same voice. 'There's Bill Sikes in the passage with nobody to do the civil to him; and you sleeping there, as if you took laudanum with your meals, and nothing stronger. Are you any fresher now, or do you want the iron candlestick to wake you thoroughly?'

A pair of slipshod feet shuffled, hastily, across the bare floor of the room, as this interrogatory was put; and there issued, from a door on the right hand; first, a feeble candle: and next, the form of the same individual who has been heretofore described as labouring under the infirmity of speaking through his nose, and officiating as waiter at the public-house on Saffron Hill.

'Bister Sikes!' exclaimed Barney, with real or counterfeit joy; 'cub id, sir; cub id.'

'Here! you get on first,' said Sikes, putting Oliver in front of him. 'Quicker! or I shall tread upon your heels.'

Muttering a curse upon his tardiness, Sikes pushed Oliver before him; and they entered a low dark room with a smoky fire, two or three broken chairs, a table, and a very old couch: on which, with his legs much higher than his head, a man was reposing at full length, smoking a long clay pipe. He was dressed in a smartly-cut snuff-coloured coat, with large brass buttons; an orange neckerchief; a coarse, staring, shawl-pattern waistcoat; and drab breeches. Mr. Crackit (for he it was) had no very great quantity of hair, either upon his head or face; but what he had, was of a reddish dye, and tortured into long corkscrew curls, through which he occasionally thrust some very dirty fingers, ornamented with large common rings. He was a trifle above the middle size, and apparently rather weak in the legs; but this circumstance by no means detracted from his own admiration of his top-boots, which he contemplated, in their elevated situation, with lively satisfaction.

'Bill, my boy!' said this figure, turning his head towards the door, 'I'm glad to see you. I was almost afraid you'd given it up: in which case I should have made a personal wentur. Hallo!'

Uttering this exclamation in a tone of great surprise, as his eyes rested on Oliver, Mr. Toby Crackit brought himself into a sitting posture, and demanded who that was.

'The boy. Only the boy!' replied Sikes, drawing a chair towards the fire.

'Wud of Bister Fagid's lads,' exclaimed Barney, with a grin.

'Fagin's, eh!' exclaimed Toby, looking at Oliver. 'Wot an inwalable boy that'll make, for the old ladies' pockets in chapels! His mug is a fortin' to him.'

'There--there's enough of that,' interposed Sikes, impatiently; and stooping over his recumbant friend, he whispered a few words in his ear: at which Mr. Crackit laughed immensely, and honoured Oliver with a long stare of astonishment.

'Now,' said Sikes, as he resumed his seat, 'if you'll give us something to eat and drink while we're waiting, you'll put some heart in us; or in me, at all events. Sit down by the fire, younker, and rest yourself; for you'll have to go out with us again to-night, though not very far off.'

Oliver looked at Sikes, in mute and timid wonder; and drawing a stool to the fire, sat with his aching head upon his hands, scarecely knowing where he was, or what was passing around him.

'Here,' said Toby, as the young Jew placed some fragments of food, and a bottle upon the table, 'Success to the crack!' He rose to honour the toast; and, carefully depositing his empty pipe in a corner, advanced to the table, filled a glass with spirits, and drank off its contents. Mr. Sikes did the same.

'A drain for the boy,' said Toby, half-filling a wine-glass. 'Down with it, innocence.'

'Indeed,' said Oliver, looking piteously up into the man's face; 'indeed, I--'

'Down with it!' echoed Toby. 'Do you think I don't know what's good for you? Tell him to drink it, Bill.'

'He had better!' said Sikes clapping his hand upon his pocket. 'Burn my body, if he isn't more trouble than a whole family of Dodgers. Drink it, you perwerse imp; drink it!'

Frightened by the menacing gestures of the two men, Oliver hastily swallowed the contents of the glass, and immediately fell into a violent fit of coughing: which delighted Toby Crackit and Barney, and even drew a smile from the surly Mr. Sikes.

This done, and Sikes having satisfied his appetite (Oliver could eat nothing but a small crust of bread which they made him swallow), the two men laid themselves down on chairs for a short nap. Oliver retained his stool by the fire; Barney wrapped in a blanket, stretched himself on the floor: close outside the fender.

They slept, or appeared to sleep, for some time; nobody stirring but Barney, who rose once or twice to throw coals on the fire. Oliver fell into a heavy doze: imagining himself straying along the gloomy lanes, or wandering about the dark churchyard, or retracing some one or other of the scenes of the past day: when he was roused by Toby Crackit jumping up and declaring it was half-past one.

In an instant, the other two were on their legs, and all were actively engaged in busy preparation. Sikes and his companion enveloped their necks and chins in large dark shawls, and drew on their great-coats; Barney, opening a cupboard, brought forth several articles, which he hastily crammed into the pockets.

'Barkers for me, Barney,' said Toby Crackit.

'Here they are,' replied Barney, producing a pair of pistols. 'You loaded them yourself.'

'All right!' replied Toby, stowing them away. 'The persuaders?'

'I've got 'em,' replied Sikes.

'Crape, keys, centre-bits, darkies--nothing forgotten?' inquired Toby: fastening a small crowbar to a loop inside the skirt of his coat.

'All right,' rejoined his companion. 'Bring them bits of timber, Barney. That's the time of day.'

With these words, he took a thick stick from Barney's hands, who, having delivered another to Toby, busied himself in fastening on Oliver's cape.

'Now then!' said Sikes, holding out his hand.

Oliver: who was completely stupified by the unwonted exercise, and the air, and the drink which had been forced upon him: put his hand mechanically into that which Sikes extended for the purpose.

'Take his other hand, Toby,' said Sikes. 'Look out, Barney.'

The man went to the door, and returned to announce that all was quiet. The two robbers issued forth with Oliver between them. Barney, having made all fast, rolled himself up as before, and was soon asleep again.

It was now intensely dark. The fog was much heavier than it had been in the early part of the night; and the atmosphere was so damp, that, although no rain fell, Oliver's hair and eyebrows, within a few minutes after leaving the house, had become stiff with the half-frozen moisture that was floating about. They crossed the bridge, and kept on towards the lights which he had seen before. They were at no great distance off; and, as they walked pretty briskly, they soon arrived at Chertsey.

'Slap through the town,' whispered Sikes; 'there'll be nobody in the way, to-night, to see us.'

Toby acquiesced; and they hurried through the main street of the little town, which at that late hour was wholly deserted. A dim light shone at intervals from some bed-room window; and the hoarse barking of dogs occasionally broke the silence of the night. But there was nobody abroad. They had cleared the town, as the church-bell struck two.

Quickening their pace, they turned up a road upon the left hand. After walking about a quarter of a mile, they stopped before a detached house surrounded by a wall: to the top of which, Toby Crackit, scarcely pausing to take breath, climbed in a twinkling.

'The boy next,' said Toby. 'Hoist him up; I'll catch hold of him.'

Before Oliver had time to look round, Sikes had caught him under the arms; and in three or four seconds he and Toby were lying on the grass on the other side. Sikes followed directly. And they stole cautiously towards the house.

And now, for the first time, Oliver, well-nigh mad with grief and terror, saw that housebreaking and robbery, if not murder, were the objects of the expedition. He clasped his hands together, and involuntarily uttered a subdued exclamation of horror. A mist came before his eyes; the cold sweat stood upon his ashy face; his limbs failed him; and he sank upon his knees.

'Get up!' murmured Sikes, trembling with rage, and drawing the pistol from his pocket; 'Get up, or I'll strew your brains upon the grass.'

'Oh! for God's sake let me go!' cried Oliver; 'let me run away and die in the fields. I will never come near London; never, never! Oh! pray have mercy on me, and do not make me steal. For the love of all the bright Angels that rest in Heaven, have mercy upon me!'

The man to whom this appeal was made, swore a dreadful oath, and had cocked the pistol, when Toby, striking it from his grasp, placed his hand upon the boy's mouth, and dragged him to the house.

'Hush!' cried the man; 'it won't answer here. Say another word, and I'll do your business myself with a crack on the head. That makes no noise, and is quite as certain, and more genteel. Here, Bill, wrench the shutter open. He's game enough now, I'll engage. I've seen older hands of his age took the same way, for a minute or two, on a cold night.'

Sikes, invoking terrific imprecations upon Fagin's head for sending Oliver on such an errand, plied the crowbar vigorously, but with little noise. After some delay, and some assistance from Toby, the shutter to which he had referred, swung open on its hinges.

It was a little lattice window, about five feet and a half above the ground, at the back of the house: which belonged to a scullery, or small brewing-place, at the end of the passage. The aperture was so small, that the inmates had probably not thought it worth while to defend it more securely; but it was large enough to admit a boy of Oliver's size, nevertheless. A very brief exercise of Mr. Sike's art, sufficed to overcome the fastening of the lattice; and it soon stood wide open also.

'Now listen, you young limb,' whispered Sikes, drawing a dark lantern from his pocket, and throwing the glare full on Oliver's face; 'I'm a going to put you through there. Take this light; go softly up the steps straight afore you, and along the little hall, to the street door; unfasten it, and let us in.'

'There's a bolt at the top, you won't be able to reach,' interposed Toby. 'Stand upon one of the hall chairs. There are three there, Bill, with a jolly large blue unicorn and gold pitchfork on 'em: which is the old lady's arms.'

'Keep quiet, can't you?' replied Sikes, with a threatening look. 'The room-door is open, is it?'

'Wide,' replied Toby, after peeping in to satisfy himself. 'The game of that is, that they always leave it open with a catch, so that the dog, who's got a bed in here, may walk up and down the passage when he feels wakeful. Ha! ha! Barney 'ticed him away to-night. So neat!'

Although Mr. Crackit spoke in a scarcely audible whisper, and laughed without noise, Sikes imperiously commanded him to be silent, and to get to work. Toby complied, by first producing his lantern, and placing it on the ground; then by planting himself firmly with his head against the wall beneath the window, and his hands upon his knees, so as to make a step of his back. This was no sooner done, than Sikes, mounting upon him, put Oiver gently through the window with his feet first; and, without leaving hold of his collar, planted him safely on the floor inside.

'Take this lantern,' said Sikes, looking into the room. 'You see the stairs afore you?'

Oliver, more dead than alive, gasped out, 'Yes.' Sikes, pointing to the street-door with the pistol-barrel, briefly advised him to take notice that he was within shot all the way; and that if he faltered, he would fall dead that instant.

'It's done in a minute,' said Sikes, in the same low whisper. 'Directly I leave go of you, do your work. Hark!'

'What's that?' whispered the other man.

They listened intently.

'Nothing,' said Sikes, releasing his hold of Oliver. 'Now!'

In the short time he had had to collect his senses, the boy had firmly resolved that, whether he died in the attempt or not, he would make one effort to dart upstairs from the hall, and alarm the family. Filled with this idea, he advanced at once, but stealthily.

'Come back!' suddenly cried Sikes aloud. 'Back! back!'

Scared by the sudden breaking of the dead stillness of the place, and by a loud cry which followed it, Oliver let his lantern fall, and knew not whether to advance or fly.

The cry was repeated--a light appeared--a vision of two terrified half-dressed men at the top of the stairs swam before his eyes--a flash--a loud noise--a smoke--a crash somewhere, but where he knew not,--and he staggered back.

Sikes had disappeared for an instant; but he was up again, and had him by the collar before the smoke had cleared away. He fired his own pistol after the men, who were already retreating; and dragged the boy up.

'Clasp your arm tighter,' said Sikes, as he drew him through the window. 'Give me a shawl here. They've hit him. Quick! How the boy bleeds!'

Then came the loud ringing of a bell, mingled with the noise of fire-arms, and the shouts of men, and the sensation of being carried over uneven ground at a rapid pace. And then, the noises grew confused in the distance; and a cold deadly feeling crept over the boy's heart; and he saw or heard no more.


  “哈罗!”他们刚踏进过道,就听见一个沙哑的大嗓门嚷起来。

    “别那么瞎嚷嚷,”赛克斯一面说,一面闩门。“托比,给照个亮。”

    “啊哈!我的老伙计,”那声音嚷着说,“照个亮,巴尼,照个亮一把那位绅士领进来门尼德、阿那克萨戈拉、恩培多克勒等人的论自然,现仅存,巴尼,劳驾,醒醒吧。”

    说话人似乎把一只鞋拔子之类的物件朝自己所招呼的那个家伙扔了过去,要他从熟睡中醒过来,只听见一件木器哗啦一声掉到地上,接下来是一阵人们在半睡半醒时发出的那种含混不清的嘟哝声。

    “听见没有?”同一个嗓门嚷道,“比尔赛克斯在走廊里,连个招呼的人都没有,你倒睡在这儿,就好像是把鸦片丸子和在饭里吃下去了似的,真是再灵验不过了。现在清醒些了,要不要用铁烛台来一下,让你完全清醒过来?”

    这一番质问刚停,一双穿拖鞋的脚慌慌张张地擦着光溜溜的房间地板走了过去。从右边门里,先是闪出一道朦胧的烛光,接着出现了一个人影,这人在前边已有记载外化庄子用语。指外在形体的变化。与“内化”相对称。,就是那个在红花山酒馆里当侍者的家伙,他老是带着那么一个从鼻子里说话的毛病。

    “赛克斯先生。”巴尼叫道,那份高兴劲也不知是真是假,“进来,先生,进来吧。”

    “听着。你先穿好衣服,”赛克斯边说边把奥立弗拉到前边。“快点儿。小心我踩住你的脚后跟。”

    赛克斯嫌奥立弗动作迟缓,嘟嘟哝哝骂了一句,推着他朝前走去。他们走进一间低矮昏暗、烟雾弥漫的房间。屋里放着两三张破椅子,一张餐桌和一把非常破旧的长椅。一个男人直挺挺地躺在长椅上,两条腿跷得比头还高德学生。继承巴门尼德的存在学说,从逻辑上证明存在是,正在吸一根长长的陶制烟斗。那人穿一件做工考究的鼻烟色外套,铜纽扣,系着一条桔黄色的围巾,外带俗气而又刺眼的披肩背心和浅褐色厚呢马裤。格拉基特先生(原来是他)的脑袋或者说面部都没有多少毛发,仅有的一些染得带了点红色,卷成瓶塞锥那样长长的螺旋状,他时不时地将几个脏得出奇的手指插进鬈发,指头上戴满了不值钱的大戒指。他的身材比中等个子略高,两条腿明摆着相当成问题,不过这种情况丝毫无损于他对自己的马靴的赞赏,他此时正怡然自得地注视着高高在上的靴子。

    “比尔,老兄。”这个角色朝门口转过头去。“见到你真高兴。我简直担心你不干呢,那我只好单独冒这个险了。哦哟。”

    扎比格拉基特先生以颇感意外的口气发出这一番感叹,目光落到了奥立弗身上,他翻身坐起来,问那是什么人。

    “那个孩子,就是那个孩子啊。”赛克斯把一张椅子拉到火炉旁,答道。

    “笃定是费金先生的徒弟。”巴尼笑嘻嘻地大声宣布。

    “是费金的,哦。”托比打量着奥立弗,叫道。“要论清理小教堂里那班老太太的口袋,可是个顶个的宝贝儿哩。脸盘子就是他的摇钱树。”

    “别――别扯远了。”赛克斯不耐烦地接过话头,俯身凑近斜靠在睡椅上的朋友,在他耳边嘀咕了几句,格拉基特先生听罢放声大笑,又惊奇地盯着奥立弗看了老半天。

    “好了,”赛克斯重新在椅子上坐好,说道。“趁我们在这儿坐等的功夫,给我们点吃的喝的,就当是替我们,或者说我吧,提提精神。小老弟,坐下烤烤火,歇一会儿,今天晚上你还得跟我们出门,虽说路不算太远。”

    奥立弗没有出声,胆怯而又迷惑地看了看赛克斯,搬了一张凳子放在壁炉旁边,坐下来,双手支住发涨的脑袋。他一点不知道自己到了什么地方,也不知道身边发生了什么事。

    “来,”托比说道,那个年轻一点的犹太人已经把一些零七碎八的食物和一瓶酒放在了桌上。“祝马到成功。”为了祝酒,他特地站起来,小心翼翼地将空烟斗放在一旁,然后走到桌旁,斟满一杯酒,咕嘟咕嘟喝了下去,赛克斯先生也照样来了一杯。

    “给这孩子喝一口,”托比斟了半杯酒,说道。“把这喝下去,小天真。”

    “真的,”奥立弗抬起头,可怜巴巴地瞅着那个人的面孔。“我真的――”

    “喝下去。”托比应声说道,“你以为我不清楚什么对你有好处吗?比尔,叫他喝下去。”

    “他犟不过去。”赛克斯说道,一只手在衣袋上拍了拍。“妈的,这小子比一大帮机灵鬼都要麻烦,喝,你这个不识抬举的小鬼头,喝。”

    奥立弗叫这两个家伙凶神恶煞的样子吓坏了,赶紧把杯里的酒一口气吞了下去,随即拼命地咳嗽起来,逗得托比格拉基特和巴尼乐不可支,连绷着脸的赛克斯先生也带上了一丝笑容。

    这桩事了结了,赛克斯美美地吃了一顿(奥立弗什么也吃不下,他们逼着他咽了一小片面包),两个家伙便倒在椅子上打起盹来。奥立弗依旧坐在壁炉旁边的凳子上。巴尼裹上一床毯子,紧挨着挡灰板,直挺挺地在地板上躺了下来。

    他们睡着了,或者说表面上睡着了,好一阵子,除了巴尼爬起来往炉子里加了一两次煤,谁也没有动一动。奥立弗昏昏沉沉地打起瞌睡来,想像中仿佛自己是在黑洞洞的胡同里走迷了路,又像是在教堂墓地里游来荡去,过去一天中的这个那个场景又浮现在眼前,就在这时,托比格拉基特一跃而起,说已经一点半了。奥立弗被他搅醒了。

    眨眼间,另外两个人也站了起来,一齐风风火火地投入繁忙的准备。赛克斯和他那位搭档各自用黑色大披巾将脖子和下巴裹起来,穿上大衣。巴尼打开食橱,从里边摸出几样东西,急急忙忙地塞进他俩的口袋。

    “巴尼,把大嗓门给我。”扎比格拉基特说道。

    “在这儿呢,”巴尼一面回答,一面取出两把手枪。“你自个儿上的药。”

    “好哩。”托比应了一声,将手枪藏好。“你的家伙呢?”

    “我带着呢。”赛克斯回答。

    “面纱、钥匙、打眼锥黑灯――没落下什么吧?”托比把一根小铁撬绑在大衣内襟的一个套环上问道。

    “忘不了,”同伴答道,“给他们带几根木棒去,巴尼。时候到了。”

    说罢,他从巴尼手中接过一根大棒,巴尼已经把另一根递给了托比,自己正忙着替奥立弗戴斗篷。

    “走吧。”赛克斯说着,伸出一只手。

    少有的长途跋涉,周围的气氛,被迫喝下去的酒,奥立弗已经叫这一切弄得晕头转向,他机械地把手伸给赛克斯握住,他伸出手来就是这个目的。

    “托比,抓住他那一只手,”赛克斯说道,“巴尼,瞧瞧外边。”

    那家伙朝门口走去,回来报告说一点动静也没有。两个强盗一左一右把奥立弗夹在中间走出门去。巴尼关好大门,插上门闩,又跟先前一样将自己裹了个严严实实,不一会儿就睡着了。

    外边夜色正浓。雾比前半夜浓多了。尽管没下雨,空气却还是那样潮湿,出门没几分钟,奥立弗的头发、眉毛便叫四下里飘浮着的半凝结状的水汽弄得紧绷绷的了。他们过了桥,朝着他先前已经看见过的那一片灯火走去。路程井不太远,他们走得又相当快、不久便来到了杰茨。

    “从镇上穿过去,”赛克斯低声说,“今儿晚上路上不会有人看见我们。”

    托比同意了。他们急匆匆地走过这座小城的正街。夜静更深,街上一片寂寥冷落,间或一家住户卧室里闪出昏暗的灯光,偶尔几声嘎哑的狗叫划破黑夜的沉寂。街上音无人迹。他们出城的时候,正赶上教堂的钟敲两点。

    他们加快脚步,往左踏上一条大路。约莫走了四分之一英里,三个人在孤零零的一所四周有围墙的宅院前边停住脚步。托比格拉基特几乎没顾得上歇口气,一转眼就爬上了围墙。

    “先递那小子,”托比说道,“把他托上来,我抓住他。”

    奥立弗还来不及看看四周,赛克斯已经抓住他的两条胳臂,三四秒钟以后,他和托比已经躺在围墙里边的草地上了,紧跟着赛克斯也跳了进来。三个人蹑手蹑脚地朝那所房子走去。

    奥立弗这时才明白过来,这次远行的目的即便不是谋杀,也是入室抢劫,痛苦与恐惧交相袭来,使他几乎失去理智。他把双手合到一块儿一情不自禁地发出一声压抑的惊叫,眼前一阵发黑,惨白的脸上直冒冷汗,两条腿怎么也不听使唤,一下子跪倒在地_

    “起来。”赛克斯气得直哆嗦,从衣袋里拔出手枪,低声喝道。“起来,不然我叫你脑浆溅到草地上。”

    “啊。看在上帝的分上,放了我吧。”奥立弗哭叫着,“让我跑到一边去,死在野地里吧。我再也不到伦敦这边来了,再也不了,再也不了。啊。求你们可怜可怜我,别叫我去偷东西。看在天国所有光明天使的分上,饶了我吧。”

    那家伙听到这一番冲着自己发出的恳求,不由得恶狠狠地骂了一句,扣上了扳机,托比一把打掉他手中的枪,用一只手捂在孩子的嘴上,拖着他往那所房子走去。

    “嘘。”那家伙叫道,“这儿可不兴这一套。再说一个字,我也要收拾你,叫你脑袋开花。那样没一点响动,保准可靠,而且更文雅一些。喂,比尔,把窗板撬开。我敢发誓,他胆子大些了。我见过有些他这个年龄的老手在冷嗖嗖的晚上来这一套,一两分钟就没事了。”

    赛克斯一边把费金骂了个狗血喷头,居然派奥立弗来干这个差使,一边使足了劲,悄没声地用撬棍干了起来。折腾了一阵,托比又上前帮忙,他选中的那块窗板便摇摇晃晃地打开了。

    这一扇格子窗很小,离地面大约五英尺半,位于这所房子后部的走廊尽头,那里可能是洗碗间或者小作坊。窗洞很小,宅子里的人可能认为在这里严加防范没有什么价值,然而,这个窗子已经大得足以让一个像奥立弗这种个头的小孩钻进去。赛克斯先生略施小计便制服了紧闭着的窗格,窗子顷刻间也大打开来。

    “给我听着,小兔崽子,”赛克斯从日袋里掏出一盏可以避光的灯,将灯光对准奥立弗的脸,压低声音说道。“我把你从这儿送进去,你拿上这盏灯,悄悄地照直往面前的台阶走上去,穿过小门厅,到大门那儿去,把门打开,我们好进来。”

    “大门上头有个门闩,你够不着,”托比插嘴说,“门厅里有椅子,你弄一把站上去。那儿有三把椅子,比尔,上边画着一头挺大的蓝色独角兽和一把金色的草叉,是这家老太太的纹章。”

    “你就不能少说两句,嗯?”赛克斯瞪了他一眼。“通房间的门是不是开着的?”

    “大开着呢,”托比为了保险,往里边瞅了瞅,答道。“妙就妙在他们老是让门开着,用搭钩挂住,狗在那地方有个窝,这样一来它睡不着的时候可以在走廊里来回溜达。哈哈!巴尼今儿晚上把狗引开了。干得真漂亮。”

    尽管格拉基特说话时声音低得几乎听不见,也没笑出声来,赛克斯还是专横地要他把嘴闭上,动手干活。托比住嘴了。他把自己那盏灯掏出来,放在地上,然后用脑袋顶住窗户下边的墙,双手撑住膝盖,站得稳稳当当,用自己的背搭成一级台阶。台阶刚搭起来,赛克斯就爬了上去,光把奥立弗的双脚轻轻选进窗户,稳稳地将他放到地上,但却没有松开他的衣领。

    “拿上这盏灯,”赛克斯朝屋子里望了望说,“看见你面前的楼梯没有?”

    奥立弗吓得魂飞魄散,好容易说了一声“看见了”。赛克斯用枪口指了指当街的大门,简略地提醒奥立弗留神,他始终处于手枪射程之内,要是他畏缩不前,立刻就叫他送命。

    “这事一分钟就办妥了,”赛克斯的嗓门依然压得很低。“我一放手,你就去十。听!”

    “怎么啦?”另一个家伙打着耳语说。

    他们紧张地听了听。

    “没事,”赛克斯说着,放开了奥立弗。“去吧。”

    在这短短的时间里,奥立弗恢复了知觉。他拿定主意,一定要奋力从门厅冲上楼去,向这家人报警,就算自己这样做会迭命也不怕。主意已定,他立刻轻手轻脚地朝前走去。

    “回来。”赛克斯猝然大叫起来,“回来。回来。”

    四周死一般的寂静突然打破了,紧接着又是一声高喊,奥立弗手里的灯掉到地上,他不知道究竟应该上前,还是应该逃走。

    喊声又响了起来――前边显出一点光亮――他的眼前浮动着一团幻影,那是楼梯上边两个惊慌失措。衣冠不整的男人――火光一闪――一声巨响――烟雾――哗啦啦,不知什么地方有东西打碎了――他跌跌撞撞地退了回去。

    赛克斯已经不见了,但转瞬间又冒了出来,趁着烟雾还没消散,一把抓住奥立弗的衣领。他用自己的手枪对准后边的人开火,那两个人往后退去,他赶紧把奥立弗拖上去。

    “胳臂抱紧些,”赛克斯边说边把他从窗口往外拽。“给我一块围脖,他中了枪子了。快。这小子淌了那么多血。”

    一阵响亮的钟声混合着枪声。人的喊叫声传了过来,奥立弗感到有人扛着自己一阵风似的走在高低不平的地上。远外的喧闹声渐渐模糊,一种冰冷的感觉偷偷地爬上孩子的心头,他什么也看不清听不见了。



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