'As we gang awa' fra' Lunnun tomorrow neeght, and as I dinnot know that I wa_'er so happy in a' my days, Misther Nickleby, Ding! but I WILL tak' anoothe_lass to our next merry meeting!'
So said John Browdie, rubbing his hands with great joyousness, and lookin_ound him with a ruddy shining face, quite in keeping with the declaration.
The time at which John found himself in this enviable condition was the sam_vening to which the last chapter bore reference; the place was the cottage; and the assembled company were Nicholas, Mrs Nickleby, Mrs Browdie, Kat_ickleby, and Smike.
A very merry party they had been. Mrs Nickleby, knowing of her son'_bligations to the honest Yorkshireman, had, after some demur, yielded he_onsent to Mr and Mrs Browdie being invited out to tea; in the way of whic_rrangement, there were at first sundry difficulties and obstacles, arisin_ut of her not having had an opportunity of 'calling' upon Mrs Browdie first; for although Mrs Nickleby very often observed with much complacency (as mos_unctilious people do), that she had not an atom of pride or formality abou_er, still she was a great stickler for dignity and ceremonies; and as it wa_anifest that, until a call had been made, she could not be (politel_peaking, and according to the laws of society) even cognisant of the fact o_rs Browdie's existence, she felt her situation to be one of peculiar delicac_nd difficulty.
'The call MUST originate with me, my dear,' said Mrs Nickleby, 'that'_ndispensable. The fact is, my dear, that it's necessary there should be _ort of condescension on my part, and that I should show this young perso_hat I am willing to take notice of her. There's a very respectable-lookin_oung man,' added Mrs Nickleby, after a short consideration, 'who is conducto_o one of the omnibuses that go by here, and who wears a glazed hat—you_ister and I have noticed him very often—he has a wart upon his nose, Kate, you know, exactly like a gentleman's servant.'
'Have all gentlemen's servants warts upon their noses, mother?' aske_icholas.
'Nicholas, my dear, how very absurd you are,' returned his mother; 'of cours_ mean that his glazed hat looks like a gentleman's servant, and not the war_pon his nose; though even that is not so ridiculous as it may seem to you, for we had a footboy once, who had not only a wart, but a wen also, and a ver_arge wen too, and he demanded to have his wages raised in consequence, because he found it came very expensive. Let me see, what was I—oh yes, _now. The best way that I can think of would be to send a card, and m_ompliments, (I've no doubt he'd take 'em for a pot of porter,) by this youn_an, to the Saracen with Two Necks. If the waiter took him for a gentleman'_ervant, so much the better. Then all Mrs Browdie would have to do would be t_end her card back by the carrier (he could easily come with a double knock), and there's an end of it.'
'My dear mother,' said Nicholas, 'I don't suppose such unsophisticated peopl_s these ever had a card of their own, or ever will have.'
'Oh that, indeed, Nicholas, my dear,' returned Mrs Nickleby, 'that's anothe_hing. If you put it upon that ground, why, of course, I have no more to say, than that I have no doubt they are very good sort of persons, and that I hav_o kind of objection to their coming here to tea if they like, and shall mak_ point of being very civil to them if they do.'
The point being thus effectually set at rest, and Mrs Nickleby duly placed i_he patronising and mildly-condescending position which became her rank an_atrimonial years, Mr and Mrs Browdie were invited and came; and as they wer_ery deferential to Mrs Nickleby, and seemed to have a becoming appreciatio_f her greatness, and were very much pleased with everything, the good lad_ad more than once given Kate to understand, in a whisper, that she though_hey were the very best-meaning people she had ever seen, and perfectly wel_ehaved.
And thus it came to pass, that John Browdie declared, in the parlour afte_upper, to wit, and twenty minutes before eleven o'clock p.m., that he ha_ever been so happy in all his days.
Nor was Mrs Browdie much behind her husband in this respect, for that youn_atron, whose rustic beauty contrasted very prettily with the more delicat_oveliness of Kate, and without suffering by the contrast either, for eac_erved as it were to set off and decorate the other, could not sufficientl_dmire the gentle and winning manners of the young lady, or the engagin_ffability of the elder one. Then Kate had the art of turning the conversatio_o subjects upon which the country girl, bashful at first in strange company, could feel herself at home; and if Mrs Nickleby was not quite so felicitous a_imes in the selection of topics of discourse, or if she did seem, as Mr_rowdie expressed it, 'rather high in her notions,' still nothing could b_inder, and that she took considerable interest in the young couple wa_anifest from the very long lectures on housewifery with which she was s_bliging as to entertain Mrs Browdie's private ear, which were illustrated b_arious references to the domestic economy of the cottage, in which (thos_uties falling exclusively upon Kate) the good lady had about as much share, either in theory or practice, as any one of the statues of the Twelve Apostle_hich embellish the exterior of St Paul's Cathedral.
'Mr Browdie,' said Kate, addressing his young wife, 'is the best- humoured, the kindest and heartiest creature I ever saw. If I were oppressed with _on't know how many cares, it would make me happy only to look at him.'
'He does seem indeed, upon my word, a most excellent creature, Kate,' said Mr_ickleby; 'most excellent. And I am sure that at all times it will give m_leasure—really pleasure now—to have you, Mrs Browdie, to see me in this plai_nd homely manner. We make no display,' said Mrs Nickleby, with an air whic_eemed to insinuate that they could make a vast deal if they were so disposed;
'no fuss, no preparation; I wouldn't allow it. I said, "Kate, my dear, yo_ill only make Mrs Browdie feel uncomfortable, and how very foolish an_nconsiderate that would be!" '
'I am very much obliged to you, I am sure, ma'am,' returned Mrs Browdie, gratefully. 'It's nearly eleven o'clock, John. I am afraid we are keeping yo_p very late, ma'am.'
'Late!' cried Mrs Nickleby, with a sharp thin laugh, and one little cough a_he end, like a note of admiration expressed. 'This is quite early for us. W_sed to keep such hours! Twelve, one, two, three o'clock was nothing to us.
Balls, dinners, card-parties! Never were such rakes as the people about wher_e used to live. I often think now, I am sure, that how we ever could g_hrough with it is quite astonishing, and that is just the evil of having _arge connection and being a great deal sought after, which I would recommen_ll young married people steadily to resist; though of course, and it'_erfectly clear, and a very happy thing too, I think, that very few youn_arried people can be exposed to such temptations. There was one family i_articular, that used to live about a mile from us—not straight down the road, but turning sharp off to the left by the turnpike where the Plymouth mail ra_ver the donkey—that were quite extraordinary people for giving the mos_xtravagant parties, with artificial flowers and champagne, and variegate_amps, and, in short, every delicacy of eating and drinking that the mos_ingular epicure could possibly require. I don't think that there ever wer_uch people as those Peltiroguses. You remember the Peltiroguses, Kate?'
Kate saw that for the ease and comfort of the visitors it was high time t_tay this flood of recollection, so answered that she entertained of th_eltiroguses a most vivid and distinct remembrance; and then said that M_rowdie had half promised, early in the evening, that he would sing _orkshire song, and that she was most impatient that he should redeem hi_romise, because she was sure it would afford her mama more amusement an_leasure than it was possible to express.
Mrs Nickleby confirming her daughter with the best possible grace— for ther_as patronage in that too, and a kind of implication that she had a discernin_aste in such matters, and was something of a critic—John Browdie proceeded t_onsider the words of some north- country ditty, and to take his wife'_ecollection respecting the same. This done, he made divers ungainly movement_n his chair, and singling out one particular fly on the ceiling from th_ther flies there asleep, fixed his eyes upon him, and began to roar a mee_entiment (supposed to be uttered by a gentle swain fast pining away with lov_nd despair) in a voice of thunder.
At the end of the first verse, as though some person without had waited unti_hen to make himself audible, was heard a loud and violent knocking at th_treet-door; so loud and so violent, indeed, that the ladies started as by on_ccord, and John Browdie stopped.
'It must be some mistake,' said Nicholas, carelessly. 'We know nobody wh_ould come here at this hour.'
Mrs Nickleby surmised, however, that perhaps the counting-house was burn_own, or perhaps 'the Mr Cheerybles' had sent to take Nicholas int_artnership (which certainly appeared highly probable at that time of night), or perhaps Mr Linkinwater had run away with the property, or perhaps Miss L_reevy was taken in, or perhaps—
But a hasty exclamation from Kate stopped her abruptly in her conjectures, an_alph Nickleby walked into the room.
'Stay,' said Ralph, as Nicholas rose, and Kate, making her way towards him, threw herself upon his arm. 'Before that boy says a word, hear me.'
Nicholas bit his lip and shook his head in a threatening manner, but appeare_or the moment unable to articulate a syllable. Kate clung closer to his arm, Smike retreated behind them, and John Browdie, who had heard of Ralph, an_ppeared to have no great difficulty in recognising him, stepped between th_ld man and his young friend, as if with the intention of preventing either o_hem from advancing a step further.
'Hear me, I say,' said Ralph, 'and not him.'
'Say what thou'st gotten to say then, sir,' retorted John; 'and tak' care tho_innot put up angry bluid which thou'dst betther try to quiet.'
'I should know YOU,' said Ralph, 'by your tongue; and HIM' (pointing to Smike)
'by his looks.'
'Don't speak to him,' said Nicholas, recovering his voice. 'I will not hav_t. I will not hear him. I do not know that man. I cannot breathe the air tha_e corrupts. His presence is an insult to my sister. It is shame to see him. _ill not bear it.'
'Stand!' cried John, laying his heavy hand upon his chest.
'Then let him instantly retire,' said Nicholas, struggling. 'I am not going t_ay hands upon him, but he shall withdraw. I will not have him here. John, John Browdie, is this my house, am I a child? If he stands there,' crie_icholas, burning with fury, 'looking so calmly upon those who know his blac_nd dastardly heart, he'll drive me mad.'
To all these exclamations John Browdie answered not a word, but he retaine_is hold upon Nicholas; and when he was silent again, spoke.
'There's more to say and hear than thou think'st for,' said John. 'I tell'ee _a' gotten scent o' thot already. Wa'at be that shadow ootside door there?
Noo, schoolmeasther, show thyself, mun; dinnot be sheame-feaced. Noo, aul_en'l'man, let's have schoolmeasther, coom.'
Hearing this adjuration, Mr Squeers, who had been lingering in the passag_ntil such time as it should be expedient for him to enter and he could appea_ith effect, was fain to present himself in a somewhat undignified an_neaking way; at which John Browdie laughed with such keen and heartfel_elight, that even Kate, in all the pain, anxiety, and surprise of the scene, and though the tears were in her eyes, felt a disposition to join him.
'Have you done enjoying yourself, sir?' said Ralph, at length.
'Pratty nigh for the prasant time, sir,' replied John.
'I can wait,' said Ralph. 'Take your own time, pray.'
Ralph waited until there was a perfect silence, and then turning to Mr_ickleby, but directing an eager glance at Kate, as if more anxious to watc_is effect upon her, said:
'Now, ma'am, listen to me. I don't imagine that you were a party to a ver_ine tirade of words sent me by that boy of yours, because I don't believ_hat under his control, you have the slightest will of your own, or that you_dvice, your opinion, your wants, your wishes, anything which in nature an_eason (or of what use is your great experience?) ought to weigh with him, ha_he slightest influence or weight whatever, or is taken for a moment int_ccount.'
Mrs Nickleby shook her head and sighed, as if there were a good deal in that, certainly.
'For this reason,' resumed Ralph, 'I address myself to you, ma'am. For thi_eason, partly, and partly because I do not wish to be disgraced by the act_f a vicious stripling whom I was obliged to disown, and who, afterwards, i_is boyish majesty, feigns to—ha! ha!—to disown ME, I present myself her_onight. I have another motive in coming: a motive of humanity. I come here,'
said Ralph, looking round with a biting and triumphant smile, and gloating an_welling upon the words as if he were loath to lose the pleasure of sayin_hem, 'to restore a parent his child. Ay, sir,' he continued, bending eagerl_orward, and addressing Nicholas, as he marked the change of his countenance,
'to restore a parent his child; his son, sir; trepanned, waylaid, and guarde_t every turn by you, with the base design of robbing him some day of an_ittle wretched pittance of which he might become possessed.'
'In that, you know you lie,' said Nicholas, proudly.
'In this, I know I speak the truth. I have his father here,' retorted Ralph.
'Here!' sneered Squeers, stepping forward. 'Do you hear that? Here! Didn't _ell you to be careful that his father didn't turn up and send him back to me?
Why, his father's my friend; he's to come back to me directly, he is. Now, what do you say—eh!—now— come—what do you say to that—an't you sorry you too_o much trouble for nothing? an't you? an't you?'
'You bear upon your body certain marks I gave you,' said Nicholas, lookin_uietly away, 'and may talk in acknowledgment of them as much as you please.
You'll talk a long time before you rub them out, Mr Squeers.'
The estimable gentleman last named cast a hasty look at the table, as if h_ere prompted by this retort to throw a jug or bottle at the head of Nicholas, but he was interrupted in this design (if such design he had) by Ralph, who, touching him on the elbow, bade him tell the father that he might now appea_nd claim his son.
This being purely a labour of love, Mr Squeers readily complied, and leavin_he room for the purpose, almost immediately returned, supporting a slee_ersonage with an oily face, who, bursting from him, and giving to view th_orm and face of Mr Snawley, made straight up to Smike, and tucking that poo_ellow's head under his arm in a most uncouth and awkward embrace, elevate_is broad- brimmed hat at arm's length in the air as a token of devou_hanksgiving, exclaiming, meanwhile, 'How little did I think of this her_oyful meeting, when I saw him last! Oh, how little did I think it!'
'Be composed, sir,' said Ralph, with a gruff expression of sympathy, 'you hav_ot him now.'
'Got him! Oh, haven't I got him! Have I got him, though?' cried Mr Snawley, scarcely able to believe it. 'Yes, here he is, flesh and blood, flesh an_lood.'
'Vary little flesh,' said John Browdie.
Mr Snawley was too much occupied by his parental feelings to notice thi_emark; and, to assure himself more completely of the restoration of hi_hild, tucked his head under his arm again, and kept it there.
'What was it,' said Snawley, 'that made me take such a strong interest in him, when that worthy instructor of youth brought him to my house? What was it tha_ade me burn all over with a wish to chastise him severely for cutting awa_rom his best friends, his pastors and masters?'
'It was parental instinct, sir,' observed Squeers.
'That's what it was, sir,' rejoined Snawley; 'the elevated feeling, th_eeling of the ancient Romans and Grecians, and of the beasts of the field an_irds of the air, with the exception of rabbits and tom-cats, which sometime_evour their offspring. My heart yearned towards him. I could have—I don'_now what I couldn't have done to him in the anger of a father.'
'It only shows what Natur is, sir,' said Mr Squeers. 'She's rum 'un, i_atur.'
'She is a holy thing, sir,' remarked Snawley.
'I believe you,' added Mr Squeers, with a moral sigh. 'I should like to kno_ow we should ever get on without her. Natur,' said Mr Squeers, solemnly, 'i_ore easier conceived than described. Oh what a blessed thing, sir, to be in _tate of natur!'
Pending this philosophical discourse, the bystanders had been quite stupefie_ith amazement, while Nicholas had looked keenly from Snawley to Squeers, an_rom Squeers to Ralph, divided between his feelings of disgust, doubt, an_urprise. At this juncture, Smike escaping from his father fled to Nicholas, and implored him, in most moving terms, never to give him up, but to let hi_ive and die beside him.
'If you are this boy's father,' said Nicholas, 'look at the wreck he is, an_ell me that you purpose to send him back to that loathsome den from which _rought him.'
'Scandal again!' cried Squeers. 'Recollect, you an't worth powder and shot, but I'll be even with you one way or another.'
'Stop,' interposed Ralph, as Snawley was about to speak. 'Let us cut thi_atter short, and not bandy words here with hare-brained profligates. This i_our son, as you can prove. And you, Mr Squeers, you know this boy to be th_ame that was with you for so many years under the name of Smike. Do you?'
'Do I!' returned Squeers. 'Don't I?'
'Good,' said Ralph; 'a very few words will be sufficient here. You had a so_y your first wife, Mr Snawley?'
'I had,' replied that person, 'and there he stands.'
'We'll show that presently,' said Ralph. 'You and your wife were separated, and she had the boy to live with her, when he was a year old. You received _ommunication from her, when you had lived apart a year or two, that the bo_as dead; and you believed it?'
'Of course I did!' returned Snawley. 'Oh the joy of—'
'Be rational, sir, pray,' said Ralph. 'This is business, and transport_nterfere with it. This wife died a year and a half ago, or thereabouts—no_ore—in some obscure place, where she was housekeeper in a family. Is that th_ase?'
'That's the case,' replied Snawley.
'Having written on her death-bed a letter or confession to you, about thi_ery boy, which, as it was not directed otherwise than in your name, onl_eached you, and that by a circuitous course, a few days since?'
'Just so,' said Snawley. 'Correct in every particular, sir.'
'And this confession,' resumed Ralph, 'is to the effect that his death was a_nvention of hers to wound you—was a part of a system of annoyance, in short, which you seem to have adopted towards each other—that the boy lived, but wa_f weak and imperfect intellect— that she sent him by a trusty hand to a chea_chool in Yorkshire— that she had paid for his education for some years, an_hen, being poor, and going a long way off, gradually deserted him, for whic_he prayed forgiveness?'
Snawley nodded his head, and wiped his eyes; the first slightly, the las_iolently.
'The school was Mr Squeers's,' continued Ralph; 'the boy was left there in th_ame of Smike; every description was fully given, dates tally exactly with M_queers's books, Mr Squeers is lodging with you at this time; you have tw_ther boys at his school: you communicated the whole discovery to him, h_rought you to me as the person who had recommended to him the kidnapper o_is child; and I brought you here. Is that so?'
'You talk like a good book, sir, that's got nothing in its inside but what'_he truth,' replied Snawley.
'This is your pocket-book,' said Ralph, producing one from his coat; 'th_ertificates of your first marriage and of the boy's birth, and your wife'_wo letters, and every other paper that can support these statements directl_r by implication, are here, are they?'
'Every one of 'em, sir.'
'And you don't object to their being looked at here, so that these people ma_e convinced of your power to substantiate your claim at once in law an_eason, and you may resume your control over your own son without more delay.
Do I understand you?'
'I couldn't have understood myself better, sir.'
'There, then,' said Ralph, tossing the pocket-book upon the table. 'Let the_ee them if they like; and as those are the original papers, I shoul_ecommend you to stand near while they are being examined, or you may chanc_o lose some.'
With these words Ralph sat down unbidden, and compressing his lips, which wer_or the moment slightly parted by a smile, folded his arms, and looked for th_irst time at his nephew.
Nicholas, stung by the concluding taunt, darted an indignant glance at him; but commanding himself as well as he could, entered upon a close examinatio_f the documents, at which John Browdie assisted. There was nothing about the_hich could be called in question. The certificates were regularly signed a_xtracts from the parish books, the first letter had a genuine appearance o_aving been written and preserved for some years, the handwriting of th_econd tallied with it exactly, (making proper allowance for its having bee_ritten by a person in extremity,) and there were several other corroborator_craps of entries and memoranda which it was equally difficult to question.
'Dear Nicholas,' whispered Kate, who had been looking anxiously over hi_houlder, 'can this be really the case? Is this statement true?'
'I fear it is,' answered Nicholas. 'What say you, John?'
'John scratched his head and shook it, but said nothing at all.
'You will observe, ma'am,' said Ralph, addressing himself to Mrs Nickleby,
'that this boy being a minor and not of strong mind, we might have come her_onight, armed with the powers of the law, and backed by a troop of it_yrmidons. I should have done so, ma'am, unquestionably, but for my regard fo_he feelings of yourself, and your daughter.'
'You have shown your regard for HER feelings well,' said Nicholas, drawing hi_ister towards him.
'Thank you,' replied Ralph. 'Your praise, sir, is commendation, indeed.'
'Well,' said Squeers, 'what's to be done? Them hackney-coach horses will catc_old if we don't think of moving; there's one of 'em a sneezing now, so tha_e blows the street door right open. What's the order of the day? Is Maste_nawley to come along with us?'
'No, no, no,' replied Smike, drawing back, and clinging to Nicholas.
'No. Pray, no. I will not go from you with him. No, no.'
'This is a cruel thing,' said Snawley, looking to his friends for support. 'D_arents bring children into the world for this?'
'Do parents bring children into the world for THOT?' said John Browdi_luntly, pointing, as he spoke, to Squeers.
'Never you mind,' retorted that gentleman, tapping his nose derisively.
'Never I mind!' said John, 'no, nor never nobody mind, say'st thou, schoolmeasther. It's nobody's minding that keeps sike men as thou afloat. No_hen, where be'est thou coomin' to? Dang it, dinnot coom treadin' ower me, mun.'
Suiting the action to the word, John Browdie just jerked his elbow into th_hest of Mr Squeers who was advancing upon Smike; with so much dexterity tha_he schoolmaster reeled and staggered back upon Ralph Nickleby, and bein_nable to recover his balance, knocked that gentleman off his chair, an_tumbled heavily upon him.
This accidental circumstance was the signal for some very decisiv_roceedings. In the midst of a great noise, occasioned by the prayers an_ntreaties of Smike, the cries and exclamations of the women, and th_ehemence of the men, demonstrations were made of carrying off the lost son b_iolence. Squeers had actually begun to haul him out, when Nicholas (who, until then, had been evidently undecided how to act) took him by the collar, and shaking him so that such teeth as he had, chattered in his head, politel_scorted him to the room-door, and thrusting him into the passage, shut i_pon him.
'Now,' said Nicholas to the other two, 'have the goodness to follow you_riend.'
'I want my son,' said Snawley.
'Your son,' replied Nicholas, 'chooses for himself. He chooses to remain here, and he shall.'
'You won't give him up?' said Snawley.
'I would not give him up against his will, to be the victim of such brutalit_s that to which you would consign him,' replied Nicholas, 'if he were a do_r a rat.'
'Knock that Nickleby down with a candlestick,' cried Mr Squeers, through th_eyhole, 'and bring out my hat, somebody, will you, unless he wants to stea_t.'
'I am very sorry, indeed,' said Mrs Nickleby, who, with Mrs Browdie, had stoo_rying and biting her fingers in a corner, while Kate (very pale, bu_erfectly quiet) had kept as near her brother as she could. 'I am very sorry, indeed, for all this. I really don't know what would be best to do, and that'_he truth. Nicholas ought to be the best judge, and I hope he is. Of course, it's a hard thing to have to keep other people's children, though young M_nawley is certainly as useful and willing as it's possible for anybody to be; but, if it could be settled in any friendly manner—if old Mr Snawley, fo_nstance, would settle to pay something certain for his board and lodging, an_ome fair arrangement was come to, so that we undertook to have fish twice _eek, and a pudding twice, or a dumpling, or something of that sort—I do thin_hat it might be very satisfactory and pleasant for all parties.'
This compromise, which was proposed with abundance of tears and sighs, no_xactly meeting the point at issue, nobody took any notice of it; and poor Mr_ickleby accordingly proceeded to enlighten Mrs Browdie upon the advantages o_uch a scheme, and the unhappy results flowing, on all occasions, from her no_eing attended to when she proffered her advice.
'You, sir,' said Snawley, addressing the terrified Smike, 'are an unnatural, ungrateful, unlovable boy. You won't let me love you when I want to. Won't yo_ome home, won't you?'
'No, no, no,' cried Smike, shrinking back.
'He never loved nobody,' bawled Squeers, through the keyhole. 'He never love_e; he never loved Wackford, who is next door but one to a cherubim. How ca_ou expect that he'll love his father? He'll never love his father, he won't.
He don't know what it is to have a father. He don't understand it. It an't i_im.'
Mr Snawley looked steadfastly at his son for a full minute, and then coverin_is eyes with his hand, and once more raising his hat in the air, appeare_eeply occupied in deploring his black ingratitude. Then drawing his ar_cross his eyes, he picked up Mr Squeers's hat, and taking it under one arm, and his own under the other, walked slowly and sadly out.
'Your romance, sir,' said Ralph, lingering for a moment, 'is destroyed, I tak_t. No unknown; no persecuted descendant of a man of high degree; but th_eak, imbecile son of a poor, petty tradesman. We shall see how your sympath_elts before plain matter of fact.'
'You shall,' said Nicholas, motioning towards the door.
'And trust me, sir,' added Ralph, 'that I never supposed you would give him u_onight. Pride, obstinacy, reputation for fine feeling, were all against it.
These must be brought down, sir, lowered, crushed, as they shall be soon. Th_rotracted and wearing anxiety and expense of the law in its most oppressiv_orm, its torture from hour to hour, its weary days and sleepless nights, wit_hese I'll prove you, and break your haughty spirit, strong as you deem i_ow. And when you make this house a hell, and visit these trials upon yonde_retched object (as you will; I know you), and those who think you now _oung-fledged hero, we'll go into old accounts between us two, and see wh_tands the debtor, and comes out best at last, even before the world.'
Ralph Nickleby withdrew. But Mr Squeers, who had heard a portion of thi_losing address, and was by this time wound up to a pitch of impoten_alignity almost unprecedented, could not refrain from returning to th_arlour door, and actually cutting some dozen capers with various wry face_nd hideous grimaces, expressive of his triumphant confidence in the downfal_nd defeat of Nicholas.
Having concluded this war-dance, in which his short trousers and large boot_ad borne a very conspicuous figure, Mr Squeers followed his friends, and th_amily were left to meditate upon recent occurrences.