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‘Has he though?’ asked Smike, bending eagerly forward. ‘What
is his name? Tell me his name.’
‘Ralph--Ralph Nickleby.’
‘Ralph Nickleby,’ repeated Smike. ‘Ralph. I’ll get that name by

He had muttered it over to himself some twenty times, when a
loud knock at the door disturbed him from his occupation. Before
he could open it, Mr Folair, the pantomimist, thrust in his head.

Mr Folair’s head was usually decorated with a very round hat,
unusually high in the crown, and curled up quite tight in the
brims. On the present occasion he wore it very much on one side,
with the back part forward in consequence of its being the least
rusty; round his neck he wore a flaming red worsted comforter,
whereof the straggling ends peeped out beneath his threadbare
Newmarket coat, which was very tight and buttoned all the way
up. He carried in his hand one very dirty glove, and a cheap dress
cane with a glass handle; in short, his whole appearance was
unusually dashing, and demonstrated a far more scrupulous
attention to his toilet than he was in the habit of bestowing upon

‘Good-evening, sir,’ said Mr Folair, taking off the tall hat, and
running his fingers through his hair. ‘I bring a communication.

‘From whom and what about?’ inquired Nicholas. ‘You are
unusually mysterious tonight.’

‘Cold, perhaps,’ returned Mr Folair; ‘cold, perhaps. That is the
fault of my position--not of myself, Mr Johnson. My position as a
mutual friend requires it, sir.’ Mr Folair paused with a most
impressive look, and diving into the hat before noticed, drew from

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