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should like a glass of water. You have that in the house, I

‘You shall have a glass of--of anything you like,’ answered
Gride, with a groan. ‘It’s no use knocking, coachman. Ring the

The man rang, and rang, and rang again; then, knocked until
the street re-echoed with the sounds; then, listened at the keyhole
of the door. Nobody came. The house was silent as the grave.

‘How’s this?’ said Ralph impatiently.
‘Peg is so very deaf,’ answered Gride with a look of anxiety and
alarm. ‘Oh dear! Ring again, coachman. She sees the bell.’

Again the man rang and knocked, and knocked and rang again.
Some of the neighbours threw up their windows, and called across
the street to each other that old Gride’s housekeeper must have
dropped down dead. Others collected round the coach, and gave
vent to various surmises; some held that she had fallen asleep;
some, that she had burnt herself to death; some, that she had got
drunk; and one very fat man that she had seen something to eat
which had frightened her so much (not being used to it) that she
had fallen into a fit. This last suggestion particularly delighted the
bystanders, who cheered it rather uproariously, and were, with
some difficulty, deterred from dropping down the area and
breaking open the kitchen door to ascertain the fact. Nor was this
all. Rumours having gone abroad that Arthur was to be married
that morning, very particular inquiries were made after the bride,
who was held by the majority to be disguised in the person of Mr
Ralph Nickleby, which gave rise to much jocose indignation at the
public appearance of a bride in boots and pantaloons, and called
forth a great many hoots and groans. At length, the two money-

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