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Offering no further observation, Nicholas huddled on his
clothes. Squeers, meanwhile, opened the shutters and blew the
candle out; when the voice of his amiable consort was heard in the
passage, demanding admittance.

‘Come in, my love,’ said Squeers.
Mrs Squeers came in, still habited in the primitive night-jacket
which had displayed the symmetry of her figure on the previous
night, and further ornamented with a beaver bonnet of some
antiquity, which she wore, with much ease and lightness, on the
top of the nightcap before mentioned.

‘Drat the things,’ said the lady, opening the cupboard; ‘I can’t
find the school spoon anywhere.’

‘Never mind it, my dear,’ observed Squeers in a soothing
manner; ‘it’s of no consequence.’

‘No consequence, why how you talk!’ retorted Mrs Squeers
sharply; ‘isn’t it brimstone morning?’

‘I forgot, my dear,’ rejoined Squeers; ‘yes, it certainly is. We
purify the boys’ bloods now and then, Nickleby.’

‘Purify fiddlesticks’ ends,’ said his lady. ‘Don’t think, young
man, that we go to the expense of flower of brimstone and
molasses, just to purify them; because if you think we carry on the
business in that way, you’ll find yourself mistaken, and so I tell you

‘My dear,’ said Squeers frowning. ‘Hem!’
‘Oh! nonsense,’ rejoined Mrs Squeers. ‘If the young man comes
to be a teacher here, let him understand, at once, that we don’t
want any foolery about the boys. They have the brimstone and
treacle, partly because if they hadn’t something or other in the
way of medicine they’d be always ailing and giving a world of

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