The Artful Dodger’s back,
and this time he might turn out to be the hero!
“This is a cracking, good read that evokes the spirit of Charles Dickens. Everyone will know someone who will love this book. Highly recommended.” – Barry Peter Dicks
After Oliver Twist intervenes to save Jack Dawkins – the legendary Artful Dodger – from transportation to Botany Bay, Jack embarks on what proves to be a perilous quest to discover his roots. Before he can say ‘Fagin!’ he’s battling to survive a devastating flood and rescue beautiful black-haired, green-eyed Lysette Godden, the girl of his dreams, from the hands of murderous villains.
Jack and Lysette, searching for Jack’s parents, head to France and have an adventure there which tests their mettle and mutual love to the utmost and changes their lives forever.
Brilliantly and evocatively written, Jack Dawkins is a worthy sequel to Charles Dickens’s immortal masterpiece Oliver Twist.
“JACK DAWKINS is a marvelous adventure with dramatic twists and turns. I loved the good humour that runs through the whole book. It has somehow inspired me!”
Owen, a precocious young reader
“A rattling good yarn and the author deserves every success with it. Well done!”
Lt. Col. John Landau
“Some typical Dickensian themes, the misery of Newgate Prison, the natural mystery of the marshes, the pursuit of criminals, the role of women in society, bondage and freedom, corruption and justice, ambition and greed, personal integrity and honesty… a great story, with plenty of amusing and heart-warming twists and turns, most worthy of Dickens.”
John Thornewell, retired FL teacher, formerly of Sir Joseph Williamson’s Math School, Rochester, Kent
About the Author
Terry Ward, author of Jack Dawkins – being the further adventures of the Artful Dodger, is a prolific poet and storyteller. He took early retirement from his position as head of a university’s hospitality services to achieve his long-held ambition of becoming a published author; succeeding when The Conrad Press took on his brilliant sequel to Oliver Twist.
Terry’s adventurous early life is related in his self-published autobiography, As Far as I Can Remember’. Having served with the elite Trucial Oman Scouts and subsequently become chairman of their association, he has also put together a unique collection of rare photographs and reminiscences, published as Are You the Man?
Terry is currently re-structuring his historical drama, The Levelling Dust, now called, Between Cancer and Capricorn. It is set in the 1950’s and was inspired by poet James Shirley’s premise that there is no armour against fate. Terry agrees wholeheartedly with that!
Terry is married, with two sons and three grandchildren.
“This is a well-written story that reaches into the fundamentally good character described by Dickens in ‘Oliver Twist’ without destroying Jack Dawkins’ spontaneity and ready wit Terry Ward’s characterisation is superb, as is the dialogue which benefits from frequent use of the vernacular of the day… I can thoroughly recommend it to anyone with a sense of humour and a fondness for excitement.”
Bruce Brislin, author of ‘The Wanderers’
“A damned good read! This is an entertaining and absorbing story with the “What happens next’’ factor. Will he, won’t he? or, ‘’Can they do it!? Very descriptive of the period and environmental settings. Very enjoyable.”
From Chapter Two – Mutton chops for breakfast, courtesy of Mr Brownlow
I could have turned somersaults. No transportation. No prison hulk!
“I’m ready when you are, Mr Brownlow, sir.”
Brownlow turns a bit snappy. “Not so fast, sir; you shall not be leaving here today. A police officer shall collect you tomorrow morning. He shall escort you to Gravesend where you will be met by a very good friend of mine. His name is Mr Gilbert Godden. He shall conduct you to Shippenden Farm, a place he now owns on Romney Marsh. You will be out of harm’s way down there. I must warn you that should you attempt to abscond or commit any sort of offence whilst you are bonded to me, the consequences for you will be severe; which reminds me that, under the terms of agreement, you are obliged to report yourself to the local magistrate upon arrival, and once every three months, thereafter. Do you understand and agree to these conditions?”
“Yes, I understand, all right, but how will I live, guv’nor?” What’ll I do with myself all day?”
“You shall work for a living, sir. That is what people do.”
That sets me back on my heels. “What, me – work?”
“Farming, Dawkins, farming! Plenty of exercise and fresh, country air will do you the world of good. In the meantime you may wish to spend the next twenty-four hours contemplating your good fortune and giving thanks to the Almighty for His mercy. We shall not meet again until I visit Shippenden to see how you are faring. That is all I have to say to you at the moment, sir. I bid you good day.”
The thought of becoming a work slave has got my full attention, so Borwnlow’s departure takes me by surprise.
“Mr Brownlow, sir, Mr Brownlow…”
He ignores me. Twitching his top hat, held in both hands behind his frock-coated back, he’s gone.
Ryan gives me an almighty smack round the head before taking me back to my mattress, or where I’d left it. Somebody has helped himself to it. As I said, you can’t trust anybody. Still, I’d picked Ryan’s pocket again, so at least I had a twist of tobacco. I tamped half of it in to the bowl of a clay pipe I had stowed away. In exchange for the other half, I got a light from a skinflint crouched over a small fire he’d made out of I don’t know what. You get nothing for nothing in Newgate.
Then I sit with my back against the wall, smoke my pipe and try to get used to the idea that I’ll soon be free, after a fashion. Whatever happens to me from tomorrow on, will be better than travelling to a land I’ve been told is full of cannibals and monstrous beasts.
* * *
It was a long night. I slept for a while, tough, and had a dream. My mother was laughing and holding her arms out:
“Come to me, Jack. You can do it, darling child; just a few more steps.”
I was a babe, learning to walk, and she was very pretty.
It depends on my mood, but mostly, I don’t believe in other worlds, and stuff like that, but that dream has left me feeling as though my mother’s still calling out to me from – somewhere. I expect my empty stomach’s making me a bit light headed.
I was wide awake long before daylight crept in through those barred windows set high on the walls. I watch the bread stealers, bawdy-house keepers, footpads and fraudsters as they lie like corpses all over the floor. The only way you can tell they ain’t dead is by the noises they are making. Coughing, snorting, gurgling, and calling out in their sleep. It’s Newgate’s dawn chorus and I can’t wait to get out of here.
“There’s a Runner come for you.” It’s Ryan, my favourite gaoler.
With my heart thumping away in my chest, I jump a foot in the air and click my heels together. It would have been two feet, but I’m in a weakened condition.
“That’s me out o’ here!”
Ryan’s most put out at the thought of losing me. “You’ve had a stroke of luck,” he jeers, “but I’ll be seeing you again, and next time you’ll be here for the drop.” He draws his dirty finger across his dirty throat then makes a grab hold of my spare rags.
After that I swagger along behind Ryan, acting like I’m the cock of the walk. That’s the Dodger in me. Another part of my brain is wondering what my life will be like without having the dark cloak of London covering me.
The Bow Street Runner waiting for me in the turnkeys’ office is a tall streak, about thirty years old. His jaw is shaved clean and, judging from the trim of his black hair, he’s just paid a visit to a barber’s shop. He’s dressed in one of those new blue uniforms, but I can see he’s hung on to the red waistcoat left over from the days when the Runners were known as ‘Redbreasts’. Us young ‘uns would catcall and shout ‘Redtits’ at them from a safe distance, then run off, busting our sides with laughter. This one’s sheathed cutlass and the stave he’s leaning on, helps me keep my mouth shut. He’s twirling a top hat on his free hand and doesn’t bother introducing himself before telling me,
“There’s a parcel of Ede and Ravenscroft’s finest apparel waiting to you there on the desk, me lad. Clean that carapace of prison filth off your vile body and get changed in to it, tout suite.”
I take offence at that. “Hey! Who are you to call me vile?”
“My name, sir, is Martin Hawke, and I can tell at a glance that there’s enough dirt between your toes to grow a row of turnips.”
He turns to Ryan. “Can you oblige with soap and water, Mr Ryan?”
“There’s soap, basin and a jug of water right there.” Ryan nods in the direction of a table standing hard by the back wall, right next to where those keys I don’t need any more are hanging. “He can pour it himself. I’m not here to wait on the likes of him.”
Ryan’s a laugh a minute.
All I have to wash with is cold water and hard, lye soap, so I don’t go to a lot of trouble.
My hair’s like a rat’s nest, I can see that when I look at myself in a piece of mirror glass. ‘m not a great admirer of y own phizog. My nose is crooked and my ears stick out – but I’ve seen worse. I give myself a wink, saying hello to a face I haven’t laid eyes on for weeks.
“I’ve always thought the Artful Dodger to be one of the most fun and most memorable of all of Dickens creations and so I approached this book with some intrigue and trepidation as to whether anyone could really pull off any sort of sequel. I was not disappointed in the end. This was a rollicking read that smacked of authenticity in period and language, introduced some great eccentric characters and an instantly recognisable Jack…cheeky, confident, roguish…but with the same good heart and that irrepressible instinct for survival.”
“I am no book worm but this one kept me intrigued all the way to the end. Now I want to read it again. A GREAT READ”
Mick, a young reader