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than one of them at least had derived from many a better meal.
They then drew near the fire, which Newman Noggs had made
up as well as he could, after the inroads of Crowl upon the fuel;
and Nicholas, who had hitherto been restrained by the extreme
anxiety of his friend that he should refresh himself after his
journey, now pressed him with earnest questions concerning his
mother and sister.
‘Well,’ replied Newman, with his accustomed taciturnity; ‘both
‘They are living in the city still?’ inquired Nicholas.
‘They are,’ said Newman.
‘And my sister,’--added Nicholas. ‘Is she still engaged in the
business which she wrote to tell me she thought she should like so
Newman opened his eyes rather wider than usual, but merely
replied by a gasp, which, according to the action of the head that
accompanied it, was interpreted by his friends as meaning yes or
no. In the present instance, the pantomime consisted of a nod, and
not a shake; so Nicholas took the answer as a favourable one.
‘Now listen to me,’ said Nicholas, laying his hand on Newman’s
shoulder. ‘Before I would make an effort to see them, I deemed it
expedient to come to you, lest, by gratifying my own selfish desire,
I should inflict an injury upon them which I can never repair.
What has my uncle heard from Yorkshire?’
Newman opened and shut his mouth, several times, as though
he were trying his utmost to speak, but could make nothing of it,
and finally fixed his eyes on Nicholas with a grim and ghastly
‘What has he heard?’ urged Nicholas, colouring. ‘You see that I