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‘I shall be driven to that at last!’ said Nicholas. ‘The world is
before me, after all.’

‘Tell me,’ urged Smike, ‘is the world as bad and dismal as this

‘Heaven forbid,’ replied Nicholas, pursuing the train of his own
thoughts; ‘its hardest, coarsest toil, were happiness to this.’

‘Should I ever meet you there?’ demanded the boy, speaking
with unusual wildness and volubility.

‘Yes,’ replied Nicholas, willing to soothe him.
‘No, no!’ said the other, clasping him by the hand. ‘Should I--
should I--tell me that again. Say I should be sure to find you.’

‘You would,’ replied Nicholas, with the same humane intention,
‘and I would help and aid you, and not bring fresh sorrow on you
as I have done here.’

The boy caught both the young man’s hands passionately in his,
and, hugging them to his breast, uttered a few broken sounds
which were unintelligible. Squeers entered at the moment, and he
shrunk back into his old corner.

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