Oliver Twist: Story Book - Chapter 1-2, A Lonesome Childhood

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A Lonesome Childhood

      In the workhouse of a parish in England, on a date long forgotten, a baby boy was born. His mother died in childbirth.

      "The mother was so young and pretty! Who was she?" asked the doctor.

      "I don't know," replied the nurse. "Someone found her lying in the street last night and brought her inside. She must have walked a long way because her shoes are all worn out. But no one knows where she came from."

"I don't know," replied the nurse. "Someone found her lying in the street last night and brought her inside. She must have walked a long way because her shoes are all worn out. But no one knows where she came from."
A Lonesome Childhood

      "I guess she wasn't married," said the doctor. "There's no wedding ring on her finger." With that, the doctor left the baby in the care of the workhouse people who looked after orphans such as that baby who was named Oliver Twist.

      Before he was a year old, Oliver was sent to another workhouse. He spent the next eight years there with 25 other children. Some were troublemakers and some, like Oliver, simply had no parents to take care of them. Mrs. Mann, who ran the workhouse, received money from the parish to buy food and clothes for the children. However, she kept most of the money for herself. The only time she bathed the children and gave them enough to eat was when an official from the parish church came to inspect the workhouse.

Money for Food and Clothes.....

      Such an inspection took place on Oliver's ninth birthday. The child was thin and pale and always hungry and unhappy. The parish official, Mr. Bumble, came to see Mrs. Mann about him. Mr. Bumble was a fat, middle-aged man with a bad temper.

      "So Oliver Twist is nine years old today?"

      "Yes," replied Mrs. Mann.

      "Do you know that the parish offered a big reward for information leading to his father or some other family member? We never discovered to whom he belongs."

      "Where did he get the name Oliver Twist?" asked Mrs. Mann.

      "I made it up myself," said Mr. Bumble. "I name all our orphans in alphabetical order. The one before him was 'S,' so I called him Swubble. This one was "T,' so he was Twist. I have names picked out all the way to Z."

      Well, Mr. Bumble, why do you ask about Oliver today?"

      "He is too old to stay here, Mrs. Mann. I have come to take him back to the workhouse where he was born."

      So Oliver was given a slice of bread, then dressed in a simple outfit and a brown cloth cap. He followed Mr. Bumble to the new workhouse. There, Oliver was brought before a committee of ten men.

      "What's your name, boy?" growled the chairman of the committee.

      "Oliver Twist, sir."

      "I guess you know that you're an orphan."

      "What's that, Sir?

Off to Another Workhouse.....

      "That means that you have no mother or father and have been raised by the parish."

      Oliver began to cry.

      "Stop crying!" ordered the chairman. "You should say your prayers and thank the good people of the church who feed you!"

      "But I don't know how to pray."

      "What you need, boy, is a good trade!"

You're an Orphan.....

      Oliver cried himself to sleep that night on a hard, narrow bed. The next day, he had his first meal with the other children in the workhouse. Not only did the food taste terrible, but it never filled the children's stomachs. They had nothing but thin soup three times a day, with an onion twice a week and half a rool on Sunday. After three months of near-starvation, the children drew lots to decide who would ask for a second helping. Oliver Twist was chosen.

Oliver Asks For a Second Helping.....

      Oliver picked up his empty bowl and went up to Mr. Limbkins, who was serving supper.

      "Please, sir, may I have some more?" the boy whispered.

      "What did you say?" roared Mr. Limbkins, who could hardly believe his ears.

      "I would like some more supper."

      Mr. Limbkins screamed for Mr. Bumble.

      "That child will come to no good!" said Mr. Bumble. "Put him in a room by himself. That will teach him to ask for too much to eat!"

      The next morning, Mr. Bumble posted a sign of five outside the workhouse. It offered a sum of five pounds to anyone who would take Oliver away and teach him a trade.

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