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Chapter 13

Nicholas varies the Monotony of Dothebys Hall by a
most vigorous and remarkable proceeding, which
leads to Consequences of some Importance.

The cold, feeble dawn of a January morning was stealing in
at the windows of the common sleeping-room, when
Nicholas, raising himself on his arm, looked among the
prostrate forms which on every side surrounded him, as though in
search of some particular object.

It needed a quick eye to detect, from among the huddled mass
of sleepers, the form of any given individual. As they lay closely
packed together, covered, for warmth’s sake, with their patched
and ragged clothes, little could be distinguished but the sharp
outlines of pale faces, over which the sombre light shed the same
dull heavy colour; with, here and there, a gaunt arm thrust forth:
its thinness hidden by no covering, but fully exposed to view, in all
its shrunken ugliness. There were some who, lying on their backs
with upturned faces and clenched hands, just visible in the leaden
light, bore more the aspect of dead bodies than of living creatures;
and there were others coiled up into strange and fantastic
postures, such as might have been taken for the uneasy efforts of
pain to gain some temporary relief, rather than the freaks of
slumber. A few--and these were among the youngest of the
children--slept peacefully on, with smiles upon their faces,
dreaming perhaps of home; but ever and again a deep and heavy
sigh, breaking the stillness of the room, announced that some new

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