Fandom: Oliver Twist
Disclaimer: property of Charles Dickens
The Artful Dodger from Oliver Twist, written for Literary Lads We Love, hosted by the wonderful lisal825. I am going to be away for the weekend so I wanted to get this done and posted early. The Artful Dodger speaks in a way in the novel - and in the movies - and I tried to write like that but let's be honest. There's only one Dickens!
The world had gone and changed and he didn’t know if he liked it.
More buildings, more people, even worse smells. He wasn’t used to any of it anymore.
The ten years he’s been gone, he had sweated alongside men but there hadn’t been that many of them. Here, everywhere he looked, there was people, knocking and bumping into each other and smelling something awful. The smell hit him square in the face like a punch to the jaw and for a second there, he almost wanted to get back on the boat and leave again.
One of the men down there with him had said Australia had been so hot because it was at the bottom of the world and that meant it was closer to hell. The air in London, it was cold and damp and he almost found himself wishing for the heat.
He wasn’t too sure where he was supposed to go. It’s not like he could walk down the street to his old place and pop in and Fagin would be there, yelling at Charley about burning the sausages. He had to find lodgings for the night because it was his first night back and he wasn’t going to spend it, sleeping out in damp weather, hunched in a doorway.
It’d been ten years. He wondered where Oliver was. Maybe he could help a chap out.
Street vendors called out, advertising their goods, and his stomach rumbled. He hadn’t eaten since long before the boat docked and that had been hours ago. So first he would get some food and then he would get some place to lay his head.
Problem with that though. He didn’t have the proper funds for either need.
His eyes started to dart around, taking a closer look at his surroundings. He may have been gone for a long time but some things never changed. Fagin had trained him well and he may not have exercised it for a few years but he still knew that he had it. And when he spotted an older gentleman talking to a vendor about some baubles the man was selling from his cart, he took another look around as he began to near, taking stock of all the people and making sure there wasn’t a bobby close by.
He still wore his black top hat – it fitting him a bit better now that he was a bit older – and he brought the brim down near his eyes. That man was bending into the cart, paying attention to nothing around him. No, sir. Some things never changed, no matter how long he’d been gone from London.
He came up to the man and pretended to look into the cart, too. Fans and ribbons and the man seemed to be looking for something specific. The vendor and the gentleman were exchanging conversation and no one paid any attention to him. He picked up one of the fans for show, acting as if he was truly interested in this junk.
So many people and not one was looking.
It was as smooth as a reflex. He lifted the gentleman’s coat and reached in, finding the leather wallet and slipping it out from his pocket without so much as ruffling the wind. Within seconds, he had slipped the wallet into his own pocket and was getting lost in the crowd, taking off his top hat just to be on the safe side.
He grinned to himself. That went better than he thought for not doing it for so long. Fagin would have been proud of him, clapping him on the back and saying “My dear” as he always did and offering him the prized chair next to the fire.
He didn’t want to think of that though. No point in it. Right now, he needed food and somewhere to sleep and now, he had some money to do both those things and maybe a bit more, too.
He hummed a tune to himself as he slipped down an alley, one he and Charley used to use all the time to run when they were trying to lose someone, and he returned the hat to his head. He pulled the wallet from his pocket to open it and take note of his winnings.
Maybe the world hadn’t changed that much. Maybe he was home again.