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‘What else?’ demanded the master, sternly.
‘This,’ said Newman, drawing a sealed letter slowly from his
pocket. ‘Post-mark, Strand, black wax, black border, woman’s
hand, C. N. in the corner.’

‘Black wax?’ said Mr Nickleby, glancing at the letter. ‘I know
something of that hand, too. Newman, I shouldn’t be surprised if
my brother were dead.’

‘I don’t think you would,’ said Newman, quietly.
‘Why not, sir?’ demanded Mr Nickleby.

‘You never are surprised,’ replied Newman, ‘that’s all.’
Mr Nickleby snatched the letter from his assistant, and fixing a
cold look upon him, opened, read it, put it in his pocket, and
having now hit the time to a second, began winding up his watch.

‘It is as I expected, Newman,’ said Mr Nickleby, while he was
thus engaged. ‘He is dead. Dear me! Well, that’s sudden thing. I
shouldn’t have thought it, really.’ With these touching expressions
of sorrow, Mr Nickleby replaced his watch in his fob, and, fitting
on his gloves to a nicety, turned upon his way, and walked slowly
westward with his hands behind him.

‘Children alive?’ inquired Noggs, stepping up to him.
‘Why, that’s the very thing,’ replied Mr Nickleby, as though his
thoughts were about them at that moment. ‘They are both alive.’

‘Both!’ repeated Newman Noggs, in a low voice.
‘And the widow, too,’ added Mr Nickleby, ‘and all three in
London, confound them; all three here, Newman.’

Newman fell a little behind his master, and his face was
curiously twisted as by a spasm; but whether of paralysis, or grief,
or inward laughter, nobody but himself could possibly explain.
The expression of a man’s face is commonly a help to his thoughts,

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