Oliver Twist is unfortunate enough to have his mother expire while giving birth to him in a workhouse towards the middle of the nineteenth century. A ward of the Parish orphanage, he is transferred back to the workhouse when he is almost ten years old. After casting lots with the rest of the starving boys, Oliver is chosen to ask for more gruel. Desperate from hunger and reckless with misery, Oliver keeps his end of the deal and asks for more. Oliver is ejected from the workhouse by his 'kind' benefactors, taking up service as an undertaker's apprentice. Oliver resolves to run away after further cruel treatment, finding himself on the long and hard road to London. Oliver considers himself fluky to meet a stranger along the way, Jack Dawkins, who offers him food and a place to stay in London. Jack informs Oliver that he is better known as 'the Artful Dodger', a protégé of an elderly, Jewish gentleman known as Fagin. Oliver falls foul of the law when accompanying two of his new colleagues while they relieve a respectable, old gentleman of his handkerchief, realizing with horror that he has naively fallen in with a gang of pick-pockets. Deserted at high speed by the real culprits, then captured and assumed to be the thief, he is brought before the magistrate. The victim of the theft, a Mr. Brownlow, takes pity on Oliver and is not altogether sure that Oliver took his handkerchief in the first place. Unwilling to press charges, Mr. Brownlow eventually persuades the magistrate to release Oliver. The night spent in the cell and the trauma of the hearing prove too much for Oliver's frail constitution and he takes a fever. Oliver wakes up many days later to find himself in a comfortable bed, in the very comfortable residence of Mr. Brownlow at Penton Ville. Oliver's situation is clearly much improved, but the old Jew, Fagin, worried about information regarding the nature and whereabouts of his operation being relayed to the police, plots to steal Oliver away from his new home.