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‘How do you do, sir?’ said Mr Lillyvick--rather sharply; for he
had not known what Nicholas was, on the previous night, and it
was rather an aggravating circumstance if a tax collector had been
too polite to a teacher.

‘Mr Johnson is engaged as private master to the children,
uncle,’ said Mrs Kenwigs.

‘So you said just now, my dear,’ replied Mr Lillyvick.
‘But I hope,’ said Mrs Kenwigs, drawing herself up, ‘that that
will not make them proud; but that they will bless their own good
fortune, which has born them superior to common people’s
children. Do you hear, Morleena?’

‘Yes, ma,’ replied Miss Kenwigs.
‘And when you go out in the streets, or elsewhere, I desire that
you don’t boast of it to the other children,’ said Mrs Kenwigs; ‘and
that if you must say anything about it, you don’t say no more than
“We’ve got a private master comes to teach us at home, but we
ain’t proud, because ma says it’s sinful.” Do you hear, Morleena?’

‘Yes, ma,’ replied Miss Kenwigs again.
‘Then mind you recollect, and do as I tell you,’ said Mrs
Kenwigs. ‘Shall Mr Johnson begin, uncle?’

‘I am ready to hear, if Mr Johnson is ready to commence, my
dear,’ said the collector, assuming the air of a profound critic.
‘What sort of language do you consider French, sir?’

‘How do you mean?’ asked Nicholas.
‘Do you consider it a good language, sir?’ said the collector; ‘a
pretty language, a sensible language?’

‘A pretty language, certainly,’ replied Nicholas; ‘and as it has a
name for everything, and admits of elegant conversation about
everything, I presume it is a sensible one.’

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