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dingy. As they by no means improved on better acquaintance, and
as familiarity breeds contempt, he resolved to banish them from
his thoughts by dint of hard walking. So, taking up his hat, and
leaving poor Smike to arrange and rearrange the room with as
much delight as if it had been the costliest palace, he betook
himself to the streets, and mingled with the crowd which thronged

Although a man may lose a sense of his own importance when
he is a mere unit among a busy throng, all utterly regardless of
him, it by no means follows that he can dispossess himself, with
equal facility, of a very strong sense of the importance and
magnitude of his cares. The unhappy state of his own affairs was
the one idea which occupied the brain of Nicholas, walk as fast as
he would; and when he tried to dislodge it by speculating on the
situation and prospects of the people who surrounded him, he
caught himself, in a few seconds, contrasting their condition with
his own, and gliding almost imperceptibly back into his old train of
thought again.

Occupied in these reflections, as he was making his way along
one of the great public thoroughfares of London, he chanced to
raise his eyes to a blue board, whereon was inscribed, in
characters of gold, ‘General Agency Office; for places and
situations of all kinds inquire within.’ It was a shop-front, fitted up
with a gauze blind and an inner door; and in the window hung a
long and tempting array of written placards, announcing vacant
places of every grade, from a secretary’s to a foot-boy’s.

Nicholas halted, instinctively, before this temple of promise,
and ran his eye over the capital-text openings in life which were so
profusely displayed. When he had completed his survey he walked

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