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trouble, and partly because it spoils their appetites and comes
cheaper than breakfast and dinner. So, it does them good and us
good at the same time, and that’s fair enough I’m sure.’

Having given this explanation, Mrs Squeers put her head into
the closet and instituted a stricter search after the spoon, in which
Mr Squeers assisted. A few words passed between them while they
were thus engaged, but as their voices were partially stifled by the
cupboard, all that Nicholas could distinguish was, that Mr Squeers
said what Mrs Squeers had said, was injudicious, and that Mrs
Squeers said what Mr Squeers said, was ‘stuff.’

A vast deal of searching and rummaging ensued, and it proving
fruitless, Smike was called in, and pushed by Mrs Squeers, and
boxed by Mr Squeers; which course of treatment brightening his
intellects, enabled him to suggest that possibly Mrs Squeers might
have the spoon in her pocket, as indeed turned out to be the case.
As Mrs Squeers had previously protested, however, that she was
quite certain she had not got it, Smike received another box on the
ear for presuming to contradict his mistress, together with a
promise of a sound thrashing if he were not more respectful in
future; so that he took nothing very advantageous by his motion.

‘A most invaluable woman, that, Nickleby,’ said Squeers when
his consort had hurried away, pushing the drudge before her.

‘Indeed, sir!’ observed Nicholas.
‘I don’t know her equal,’ said Squeers; ‘I do not know her equal.
That woman, Nickleby, is always the same--always the same
bustling, lively, active, saving creetur that you see her now.’

Nicholas sighed involuntarily at the thought of the agreeable
domestic prospect thus opened to him; but Squeers was,
fortunately, too much occupied with his own reflections to

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