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off and on), and presented himself in Mr Nickleby’s room. He was
a tall man of middle age, with two goggle eyes whereof one was a
fixture, a rubicund nose, a cadaverous face, and a suit of clothes (if
the term be allowable when they suited him not at all) much the
worse for wear, very much too small, and placed upon such a short
allowance of buttons that it was marvellous how he contrived to
keep them on.
‘Was that half-past twelve, Noggs?’ said Mr Nickleby, in a sharp
and grating voice.
‘Not more than five-and-twenty minutes by the--’ Noggs was
going to add public-house clock, but recollecting himself,
substituted ‘regular time.’
‘My watch has stopped,’ said Mr Nickleby; ‘I don’t know from
‘Not wound up,’ said Noggs.
‘Yes it is,’ said Mr Nickleby.
‘Over-wound then,’ rejoined Noggs.
‘That can’t very well be,’ observed Mr Nickleby.
‘Must be,’ said Noggs.
‘Well!’ said Mr Nickleby, putting the repeater back in his
pocket; ‘perhaps it is.’
Noggs gave a peculiar grunt, as was his custom at the end of all
disputes with his master, to imply that he (Noggs) triumphed; and
(as he rarely spoke to anybody unless somebody spoke to him) fell
into a grim silence, and rubbed his hands slowly over each other:
cracking the joints of his fingers, and squeezing them into all
possible distortions. The incessant performance of this routine on
every occasion, and the communication of a fixed and rigid look to
his unaffected eye, so as to make it uniform with the other, and to