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poppet come in and talk?’

‘Certainly not,’ replied Madame: ‘you know I never allow you
here. Go along!’

The poppet, however, encouraged perhaps by the relenting
tone of this reply, ventured to rebel, and, stealing into the room,
made towards Madame Mantalini on tiptoe, blowing her a kiss as
he came along.

‘Why will it vex itself, and twist its little face into bewitching
nutcrackers?’ said Mantalini, putting his left arm round the waist
of his life and soul, and drawing her towards him with his right.

‘Oh! I can’t bear you,’ replied his wife.
‘Not--eh, not bear me!’ exclaimed Mantalini. ‘Fibs, fibs. It
couldn’t be. There’s not a woman alive, that could tell me such a
thing to my face--to my own face.’ Mr Mantalini stroked his chin,
as he said this, and glanced complacently at an opposite mirror.

‘Such destructive extravagance,’ reasoned his wife, in a low

‘All in its joy at having gained such a lovely creature, such a
little Venus, such a demd, enchanting, bewitching, engrossing,
captivating little Venus,’ said Mantalini.

‘See what a situation you have placed me in!’ urged Madame.
‘No harm will come, no harm shall come, to its own darling,’
rejoined Mr Mantalini. ‘It is all over; there will be nothing the
matter; money shall be got in; and if it don’t come in fast enough,
old Nickleby shall stump up again, or have his jugular separated if
he dares to vex and hurt the little--’

‘Hush!’ interposed Madame. ‘Don’t you see?’
Mr Mantalini, who, in his eagerness to make up matters with
his wife, had overlooked, or feigned to overlook, Miss Nickleby

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