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which filled him with honest disgust and indignation, he loathed
himself, and felt, for the moment, as though the mere
consciousness of his present situation must, through all time to
come, prevent his raising his head again.

But, for the present, his resolve was taken, and the resolution
he had formed on the preceding night remained undisturbed. He
had written to his mother and sister, announcing the safe
conclusion of his journey, and saying as little about Dotheboys
Hall, and saying that little as cheerfully, as he possibly could. He
hoped that by remaining where he was, he might do some good,
even there; at all events, others depended too much on his uncle’s
favour, to admit of his awakening his wrath just then.

One reflection disturbed him far more than any selfish
considerations arising out of his own position. This was the
probable destination of his sister Kate. His uncle had deceived
him, and might he not consign her to some miserable place where
her youth and beauty would prove a far greater curse than
ugliness and decrepitude? To a caged man, bound hand and foot,
this was a terrible idea--but no, he thought, his mother was by;
there was the portrait-painter, too--simple enough, but still living
in the world, and of it. He was willing to believe that Ralph
Nickleby had conceived a personal dislike to himself. Having
pretty good reason, by this time, to reciprocate it, he had no great
difficulty in arriving at this conclusion, and tried to persuade
himself that the feeling extended no farther than between them.

As he was absorbed in these meditations, he all at once
encountered the upturned face of Smike, who was on his knees
before the stove, picking a few stray cinders from the hearth and
planting them on the fire. He had paused to steal a look at

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