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Miss Squeers had been spending a few days with a
neighbouring friend, and had only just returned to the parental
roof. To this circumstance may be referred, her having heard
nothing of Nicholas, until Mr Squeers himself now made him the
subject of conversation.

‘Well, my dear,’ said Squeers, drawing up his chair, ‘what do
you think of him by this time?’

‘Think of who?’ inquired Mrs Squeers; who (as she often
remarked) was no grammarian, thank Heaven.

‘Of the young man--the new teacher--who else could I mean?’
‘Oh! that Knuckleboy,’ said Mrs Squeers impatiently. ‘I hate

‘What do you hate him for, my dear?’ asked Squeers.
‘What’s that to you?’ retorted Mrs Squeers. ‘If I hate him, that’s
enough, ain’t it?’

‘Quite enough for him, my dear, and a great deal too much I
dare say, if he knew it,’ replied Squeers in a pacific tone. ‘I only
ask from curiosity, my dear.’

‘Well, then, if you want to know,’ rejoined Mrs Squeers, ‘I’ll tell
you. Because he’s a proud, haughty, consequential, turned-up-
nosed peacock.’

Mrs Squeers, when excited, was accustomed to use strong
language, and, moreover, to make use of a plurality of epithets,
some of which were of a figurative kind, as the word peacock, and
furthermore the allusion to Nicholas’s nose, which was not
intended to be taken in its literal sense, but rather to bear a
latitude of construction according to the fancy of the hearers.

Neither were they meant to bear reference to each other, so
much as to the object on whom they were bestowed, as will be

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