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seemed meekly to compassionate the wickedness of mankind.

The attendants were not slow to echo the sigh, and Miss Knag
was apparently on the eve of favouring them with some further
moral reflections, when the voice of Madame Mantalini, conveyed
through the speaking-tube, ordered Miss Nickleby upstairs to
assist in the arrangement of the show-room; a distinction which
caused Miss Knag to toss her head so much, and bite her lips so
hard, that her powers of conversation were, for the time,

‘Well, Miss Nickleby, child,’ said Madame Mantalini, when Kate
presented herself; ‘are you quite well again?’

‘A great deal better, thank you,’ replied Kate.
‘I wish I could say the same,’ remarked Madame Mantalini,
seating herself with an air of weariness.

‘Are you ill?’ asked Kate. ‘I am very sorry for that.’
‘Not exactly ill, but worried, child--worried,’ rejoined Madame.
‘I am still more sorry to hear that,’ said Kate, gently. ‘Bodily
illness is more easy to bear than mental.’

‘Ah! and it’s much easier to talk than to bear either,’ said
Madame, rubbing her nose with much irritability of manner.
‘There, get to your work, child, and put the things in order, do.’

While Kate was wondering within herself what these symptoms
of unusual vexation portended, Mr Mantalini put the tips of his
whiskers, and, by degrees, his head, through the half-opened door,
and cried in a soft voice--

‘Is my life and soul there?’
‘No,’ replied his wife.
‘How can it say so, when it is blooming in the front room like a
little rose in a demnition flower-pot?’ urged Mantalini. ‘May its

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