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‘The fact is, it ain’t a Hall,’ observed Squeers drily.
‘Oh, indeed!’ said Nicholas, whom this piece of intelligence
much astonished.

‘No,’ replied Squeers. ‘We call it a Hall up in London, because it
sounds better, but they don’t know it by that name in these parts.
A man may call his house an island if he likes; there’s no act of
Parliament against that, I believe?’

‘I believe not, sir,’ rejoined Nicholas.
Squeers eyed his companion slyly, at the conclusion of this little
dialogue, and finding that he had grown thoughtful and appeared
in nowise disposed to volunteer any observations, contented
himself with lashing the pony until they reached their journey’s

‘Jump out,’ said Squeers. ‘Hallo there! Come and put this horse
up. Be quick, will you!’

While the schoolmaster was uttering these and other impatient
cries, Nicholas had time to observe that the school was a long,
cold-looking house, one storey high, with a few straggling out-
buildings behind, and a barn and stable adjoining. After the lapse
of a minute or two, the noise of somebody unlocking the yard-gate
was heard, and presently a tall lean boy, with a lantern in his
hand, issued forth.

‘Is that you, Smike?’ cried Squeers.
‘Yes, sir,’ replied the boy.

‘Then why the devil didn’t you come before?’
‘Please, sir, I fell asleep over the fire,’ answered Smike, with

‘Fire! what fire? Where’s there a fire?’ demanded the
schoolmaster, sharply.

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