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Chapter 57

How Ralph Nickleby’s Auxiliary went about his
Work, and how he prospered with it.

It was a dark, wet, gloomy night in autumn, when in an upper
room of a mean house situated in an obscure street, or rather
court, near Lambeth, there sat, all alone, a one-eyed man
grotesquely habited, either for lack of better garments or for
purposes of disguise, in a loose greatcoat, with arms half as long
again as his own, and a capacity of breadth and length which
would have admitted of his winding himself in it, head and all,
with the utmost ease, and without any risk of straining the old and
greasy material of which it was composed.

So attired, and in a place so far removed from his usual haunts
and occupations, and so very poor and wretched in its character,
perhaps Mrs Squeers herself would have had some difficulty in
recognising her lord: quickened though her natural sagacity
doubtless would have been by the affectionate yearnings and
impulses of a tender wife. But Mrs Squeers’s lord it was; and in a
tolerably disconsolate mood Mrs Squeers’s lord appeared to be, as,
helping himself from a black bottle which stood on the table
beside him, he cast round the chamber a look, in which very slight
regard for the objects within view was plainly mingled with some
regretful and impatient recollection of distant scenes and persons.

There were, certainly, no particular attractions, either in the
room over which the glance of Mr Squeers so discontentedly
wandered, or in the narrow street into which it might have

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