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books shut up, still listening to the doleful performance of Mr.
Mell, and listening through it to what used to be at home, and to
the blowing of the wind on Yarmouth flats, and feeling very sad and
solitary. I picture myself going up to bed, among the unused
rooms, and sitting on my bed-side crying for a comfortable word
from Peggotty. I picture myself coming downstairs in the morning,
and looking through a long ghastly gash of a staircase window at
the school-bell hanging on the top of an out-house with a
weathercock above it; and dreading the time when it shall ring J.
Steerforth and the rest to work: which is only second, in my
foreboding apprehensions, to the time when the man with the wooden
leg shall unlock the rusty gate to give admission to the awful Mr.
Creakle. I cannot think I was a very dangerous character in any of
these aspects, but in all of them I carried the same warning on my

Mr. Mell never said much to me, but he was never harsh to me. I
suppose we were company to each other, without talking. I forgot
to mention that he would talk to himself sometimes, and grin, and
clench his fist, and grind his teeth, and pull his hair in an
unaccountable manner. But he had these peculiarities: and at first
they frightened me, though I soon got used to them.


I HAD led this life about a month, when the man with the wooden leg
began to stump about with a mop and a bucket of water, from which
I inferred that preparations were making to receive Mr. Creakle and
the boys. I was not mistaken; for the mop came into the schoolroom
before long, and turned out Mr. Mell and me, who lived where we
could, and got on how we could, for some days, during which we were
always in the way of two or three young women, who had rarely shown
themselves before, and were so continually in the midst of dust
that I sneezed almost as much as if Salem House had been a great

One day I was informed by Mr. Mell that Mr. Creakle would be home
that evening. In the evening, after tea, I heard that he was come.
Before bedtime, I was fetched by the man with the wooden leg to
appear before him.
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