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cramped direction; ‘it’s no easy matter to make his writing out. Let
me see--let me see.’

By dint of poring over the letter for half an hour, he contrived
to make himself master of the contents, which were certainly not
of a nature to set his mind at ease. Newman took upon himself to
send back the ten pounds, observing that he had ascertained that
neither Mrs Nickleby nor Kate was in actual want of money at the
moment, and that a time might shortly come when Nicholas might
want it more. He entreated him not to be alarmed at what he was
about to say;--there was no bad news--they were in good health--
but he thought circumstances might occur, or were occurring,
which would render it absolutely necessary that Kate should have
her brother’s protection, and if so, Newman said, he would write
to him to that effect, either by the next post or the next but one.

Nicholas read this passage very often, and the more he thought
of it the more he began to fear some treachery upon the part of
Ralph. Once or twice he felt tempted to repair to London at all
hazards without an hour’s delay, but a little reflection assured him
that if such a step were necessary, Newman would have spoken
out and told him so at once.

‘At all events I should prepare them here for the possibility of
my going away suddenly,’ said Nicholas; ‘I should lose no time in
doing that.’ As the thought occurred to him, he took up his hat and
hurried to the green-room.

‘Well, Mr Johnson,’ said Mrs Crummles, who was seated there
in full regal costume, with the phenomenon as the Maiden in her
maternal arms, ‘next week for Ryde, then for Winchester, then

‘I have some reason to fear,’ interrupted Nicholas, ‘that before

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