FAGIN RETURNS: a sequel to Oliver Twist
Fagin Does Not Try to Explain His Miraculous Resurrection
1. INT: A Victorian drawing room, well furnished.
FAGIN is seated in a spoon-backed chair, smoking a cigar. He speaks direct to camera.
The question you are asking, my dears, is did I escape the rope, and if so, how did this miracle come about?
A series of Victorian-style engravings, while Fagin continues to speak, starting with Cruikshank’s drawing of Fagin in the condemned cell. A cutter being rowed towards a ship at anchor. The ship in full sail. Slaves working in a plantation. Fagin at the Governor’s ball. Ship entering Harbour. Fagin and the Artful Dodger coming down the gangplank.
Well as to the first, my dears, ain’t I here before you, large as life and twice as natural, as my old friend and colleague the Artful Dodger would have it.
He that was awaiting me at the gates of Newgate with a suitable disguise to spirit me off to the Indies for a new life, that started in conditions worse than slavery. But didn’t I end up here, a prosperous merchant, back in the capital city, breathing in the noxious fumes of successful industry, after years of labouring in God’s fresh air.
But still you ask, how did I escape the noose? Indeed I ask it too, for that is the purpose of my return to the place of my rise and fall, to seek out those who caused my downfall, if such be still living, as well as whoever opened up the prison gates.
So, first, I must seek out young ‘Nolly, to see if the name of Oliver Twist the man be known upon ‘Change, and if the times have smiled or frowned upon him, with good fortune or bad.
But there is one abroad in the land who means me ill, and him a belted earl, dressed in scarlet and ermine and not the arrowed garb of a transported convict, which would be his apparel if justice were truly done.
He thinks Fagin’s dead, for he sailed to the Indies on the eve of my supposed execution, and by the time we met in the governor’s mansion so many years had passed that he never recognised me.
2. EXT. on board ship approaching tilbury
Fagin and JACK DAWKINS (AKA the Artful Dodger) stand together on deck, waiting to disembark. Behind them stands SOLOMOUGOU, Fagin’s black servant.
Yes, Fagin is dead, my dears, dead long since. The one you see before you, dressed in silks rather than the ragged gabardine you last saw me in, is the prosperous Mr Cohen, a Jewish trader from the Indies, master of the sugar trade.
And this middle-aged gent you see along of me you might think once went by the sobriquet of the Artful Dodger, but you’d be wrong, my dears. It’s true I sometimes calls him Dodge, when we’re closeted at home, remembering old times. But that’s an old friend’s privilege.
To the world he now goes by his given moniker, so he’s plain Jack Dawkins from daybreak to sunset. What the doxies call him outside the waking hours is not for polite company to enquire, still less to know.
And so, as honest Abe Cohen and his partner, Jack, arrive at Tilbury Dock and need to find themselves lodgings, it’s time our tale to begin.
I am developing the script alongside completing the novel, and you can read this work in progress here: