Page:Oliver Twist (1838) vol. 1.djvu/295

This page has been proofread, but needs to be validated.
271
OLIVER TWIST.

CHAPTER XVII.

Oliver's destiny continuing unpropitious, brings a great man to London to injure his reputation.

It is the custom on the stage in all good, murderous melodramas, to present the tragic and the comic scenes in as regular alternation as the layers of red and white in a side of streaky, well-cured bacon. The hero sinks upon his straw bed, weighed down by fetters and misfortunes; and, in the next scene, his faithful but unconscious squire regales the audience with a comic song. We behold with throbbing bosoms the heroine in the grasp of a proud and ruthless baron, her virtue and her life alike in danger, drawing forth her dagger to preserve the one at the cost of the other; and, just as our expectations are wrought up to the highest pitch, a whistle is heard, and we