Summary and Analysis
Returning to Mr. Bumble, we find him still waiting in Mrs. Corney's room. To occupy the time, he repeats his survey of the widow's property. Since no one is approaching, Bumble extends his investigation to a chest of drawers. Among the good quality contents, there is a locked box that, when shaken, emits a comforting monetary sound. Bumble resumes his stance before the hearth and announces to himself: "I'll do it!"
Mrs. Corney returns, behaving in a flustered manner. She refuses some of the wine that Bumble has brought but takes a draught of her own stock, of which Bumble so sagely approves that he drains her cup. The hardheadedness of paupers is dismissed as Bumble earnestly resumes the business of courtship.
"Coals, candles, and house-rent free," says Bumble; "Oh, Mrs. Corney, what an Angel you are!" On his own behalf, the unselfish lover mentions the imminent death of Mr. Slout, the workhouse master, and hints that the vacancy must fall to him. Over another cupful of medicinal beverage, Bumble's fiancée tells him that Sally is dead and says that she will give him the full particulars after they are married. Bumble leaves to inform Sowerberry that he has work to do.
The undertaker and his wife are not at home, so the shop is neglected. Noah Claypole and Charlotte are improving the occasion by enjoying a private feast. At the moment that Noah asks his adoring companion for a kiss, Bumble walks in, becomes outraged, and gives way to moral indignation as he states the purpose of his call.
The dimensions of Bumble's petty character are unmercifully laid bare, and Mrs. Corney proves herself to be a suitable candidate for his bride. She is in no way offended by the beadle's frank admission that he is attracted by her material charms. The man then promptly flaunts his nauseous hypocrisy by loftily upbraiding Noah and Charlotte for their tête-à-tête when he has just come from his own avaricious wooing.
This chapter concludes the episode of Chapters 23 and 24 and follows them in unbroken time-sequence. After Oliver arrived in London, the place of his origin seemed to sink into the past, seemingly without continued significance. We are later reminded of the boy's backgrounds by Bumble's London journey that went against Oliver's interests. Now, however, attention has been shifting back and forth between the village and the metropolis. The death of Sally in the workhouse has been an item of considerable interest, and it is possible that there will be more developments in the orphan's home parish with future bearing on his fortunes.