And it was necessary indeed. From one end of the room to the other end, over the table, over the chairs and the beds Jack run and jumped, with Nancy at his heals.
„Stop running away!" She was getting desperate.
The other boys cheered the chase on till Fagin put an end to it by sending them out to work.
Exasperated, he turned to the remaining girl and boy „And you two get done with it!" he ordered before vanishing into his room to rummage through a chest full of old clothes trying to find something suitable for the little lad to wear once he was washed.
Finally Nancy had managed to tackle Jack and was busy peeling him out of the grimy and soiled rags he wore . . . under his loudest protests and a few exclamations of disgust from her side.
Plopping him into the water she scrubbed him with a brush held in one hand, while holding him in place with the other. Jack was crying and struggling and the soon dirty water splashed in every direction, leaving Nancy soaking wet. The girl was cursing all the while in colourful terms, grumbling and complaining about the role she had in the gang just because she was a girl.
When Nancy decided Jack was clean enough she lifted him out of the water and wrapped him in a towel. The boy was silent now, having tired himself out. He just stood there drowsy and sullen, sucking his thumb, and let Nancy dry him off. He didn't even move when Fagin neared with the clothes.
Before dressing him, Nancy pointed out to Fagin that Jack's backside and the inside of his thighs were chafed with open sores in some places and asked him what they should do. Fagin, of course, wouldn´t be Fagin if he didn´t know at once the right thing to do. He got his special ointment and rubbed it on the damaged skin. Jack squirmed and whimpered, for the ointment burned fiercly.
After his tears were dried, Nancy dressed him in a pair of old trousers and a shirt that were both too big for him, but were the smallest clothes Fagin could find.
Then came another ordial. It was time to comb through his thick, messy hair. Nancy used her own comb, to her displeassure, for she was the only one in the den who owned one. She did her best, but it was a difficult task with the boy struggling and trying to get away from her. In the end she threw the comb aside frustrated and called out:
„This ain´t working Fagin!"
Fagin, of course, once again knew what to do and got out some scissors to cut away the worst knots. This plan also did not agree with Jack, but he wasn't strong enough to free himself from Nancys arms, while the man found delight in his new occupation as a barber. An occupation he would never be successful at, judging by the looks of Jack's hair after this procedure.
„It´ll grow again, my dear." Fagin looked over his results with a smile. „Don´t fret."
When they finally let Jack free, he withdrew into a corner of the room to sulk, thumb in his mouth again, and hitting himself repeatedly.
Fagin glanced at the boy and wondered if he might have made a mistake with taking him in. He thought that the younger a child was the easier it would be to influence, but he had never tried to train such a young one before. The youngest he had ever had was Nancy, who was but six years old, when he had found her wandering alone and aimlessly around the streets of London, after her whole family had fallen victim to a measles epidemic that had been rampant at that time. And the truth was, while all of his pickpockets carried one or another trauma with them, none of them behaved in such a strange manner as this one.
„No piece of cake, this one. No piece of cake…" he mumbled, when he noticed Nancy's eyes on him. „What is it my dear?"
„Don´t ya give me a shillin' for me ´ard work and me ruined dress?" The girl demanded, holding out her open hand.
Grumbling Fagin groped about in his pocket till he found the small piece of silver and handed it to Nancy who gave him her sweetest smile in return.
„Now get to work!" he bellowed at her and shoved her to the door.
„Sure ya get around with ´im alone?" she said looking into Jacks direction.
Fagin laughed. „´E is just a little boy. Now be off with ya!"
When Nancy had left, Fagin glanced at Jack, whose bright little eyes bore into his.
„Now then, let the training begin." Fagin stated cheerfuly, just to hear Jack mumble a sullen „no" in response.
With a sigh he let himself sink down on a chair. No piece of cake indeed.