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corks to be fitted to them, or seals to be put upon the corks, or
finished bottles to be packed in casks. All this work was my work,
and of the boys employed upon it I was one.

There were three or four of us, counting me. My working place was
established in a corner of the warehouse, where Mr. Quinion could
see me, when he chose to stand up on the bottom rail of his stool
in the counting-house, and look at me through a window above the
desk. Hither, on the first morning of my so auspiciously beginning
life on my own account, the oldest of the regular boys was summoned
to show me my business. His name was Mick Walker, and he wore a
ragged apron and a paper cap. He informed me that his father was
a bargeman, and walked, in a black velvet head-dress, in the Lord
Mayor's Show. He also informed me that our principal associate
would be another boy whom he introduced by the - to me -
extraordinary name of Mealy Potatoes. I discovered, however, that
this youth had not been christened by that name, but that it had
been bestowed upon him in the warehouse, on account of his
complexion, which was pale or mealy. Mealy's father was a
waterman, who had the additional distinction of being a fireman,
and was engaged as such at one of the large theatres; where some
young relation of Mealy's - I think his little sister - did Imps in
the Pantomimes.

No words can express the secret agony of my soul as I sunk into
this companionship; compared these henceforth everyday associates
with those of my happier childhood - not to say with Steerforth,
Traddles, and the rest of those boys; and felt my hopes of growing
up to be a learned and distinguished man, crushed in my bosom. The
deep remembrance of the sense I had, of being utterly without hope
now; of the shame I felt in my position; of the misery it was to my
young heart to believe that day by day what I had learned, and
thought, and delighted in, and raised my fancy and my emulation up
by, would pass away from me, little by little, never to be brought
back any more; cannot be written. As often as Mick Walker went
away in the course of that forenoon, I mingled my tears with the
water in which I was washing the bottles; and sobbed as if there
were a flaw in my own breast, and it were in danger of bursting.

The counting-house clock was at half past twelve, and there was
general preparation for going to dinner, when Mr. Quinion tapped at
the counting-house window, and beckoned to me to go in. I went in,
and found there a stoutish, middle-aged person, in a brown surtout
and black tights and shoes, with no more hair upon his head (which
was a large one, and very shining) than there is upon an egg, and
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