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Chapter 56

Ralph Nickleby, baffled by his Nephew in his late
Design, hatches a Scheme of Retaliation which

Accident suggests to him, and takes into his
Counsels a tried Auxiliary.

The course which these adventures shape out for
themselves, and imperatively call upon the historian to
observe, now demands that they should revert to the point
they attained previously to the commencement of the last chapter,
when Ralph Nickleby and Arthur Gride were left together in the
house where death had so suddenly reared his dark and heavy

With clenched hands, and teeth ground together so firm and
tight that no locking of the jaws could have fixed and riveted them
more securely, Ralph stood, for some minutes, in the attitude in
which he had last addressed his nephew: breathing heavily, but as
rigid and motionless in other respects as if he had been a brazen
statue. After a time, he began, by slow degrees, as a man rousing
himself from heavy slumber, to relax. For a moment he shook his
clasped fist towards the door by which Nicholas had disappeared;
and then thrusting it into his breast, as if to repress by force even
this show of passion, turned round and confronted the less hardy
usurer, who had not yet risen from the ground.

The cowering wretch, who still shook in every limb, and whose
few grey hairs trembled and quivered on his head with abject
dismay, tottered to his feet as he met Ralph’s eye, and, shielding

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