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‘Pray,’ interrupted Ralph, motioning her to be silent. ‘I spoke to
my niece.’

‘I shall be very glad, of course, uncle,’ replied Kate; ‘but I am
afraid you will find me awkward and embarrassed.’

‘Oh no,’ said Ralph; ‘come when you like, in a hackney coach--
I’ll pay for it. Good-night--a--a--God bless you.’

The blessing seemed to stick in Mr Ralph Nickleby’s throat, as
if it were not used to the thoroughfare, and didn’t know the way
out. But it got out somehow, though awkwardly enough; and
having disposed of it, he shook hands with his two relatives, and
abruptly left them.

‘What a very strongly marked countenance your uncle has!’
said Mrs Nickleby, quite struck with his parting look. ‘I don’t see
the slightest resemblance to his poor brother.’

‘Mama!’ said Kate reprovingly. ‘To think of such a thing!’
‘No,’ said Mrs Nickleby, musing. ‘There certainly is none. But
it’s a very honest face.’

The worthy matron made this remark with great emphasis and
elocution, as if it comprised no small quantity of ingenuity and
research; and, in truth, it was not unworthy of being classed
among the extraordinary discoveries of the age. Kate looked up
hastily, and as hastily looked down again.

‘What has come over you, my dear, in the name of goodness?’
asked Mrs Nickleby, when they had walked on, for some time, in

‘I was only thinking, mama,’ answered Kate.
‘Thinking!’ repeated Mrs Nickleby. ‘Ay, and indeed plenty to
think about, too. Your uncle has taken a strong fancy to you, that’s
quite clear; and if some extraordinary good fortune doesn’t come

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