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PinkMonkey.com-Nicholas Nickelby by Charles Dickens




1059

the bolt had no hasp--but warily, and with noiseless footsteps,
advanced into the room.

As they stole farther and farther in by slight and scarcely
perceptible degrees, and with such caution that they scarcely
seemed to breathe, the old hag and Squeers little dreaming of any
such invasion, and utterly unconscious of there being any soul
near but themselves, were busily occupied with their tasks. The
old woman, with her wrinkled face close to the bars of the stove,
puffing at the dull embers which had not yet caught the wood;
Squeers stooping down to the candle, which brought out the full
ugliness of his face, as the light of the fire did that of his
companion; both intently engaged, and wearing faces of exultation
which contrasted strongly with the anxious looks of those behind,
who took advantage of the slightest sound to cover their advance,
and, almost before they had moved an inch, and all was silent,
stopped again. This, with the large bare room, damp walls, and
flickering doubtful light, combined to form a scene which the most
careless and indifferent spectator (could any have been present)
could scarcely have failed to derive some interest from, and would
not readily have forgotten.

Of the stealthy comers, Frank Cheeryble was one, and Newman
Noggs the other. Newman had caught up, by the rusty nozzle, an
old pair of bellows, which were just undergoing a flourish in the
air preparatory to a descent upon the head of Mr Squeers, when
Frank, with an earnest gesture, stayed his arm, and, taking
another step in advance, came so close behind the schoolmaster
that, by leaning slightly forward, he could plainly distinguish the
writing which he held up to his eye.

Mr Squeers, not being remarkably erudite, appeared to be


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PinkMonkey.com-Nicholas Nickelby by Charles Dickens



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