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would be keeping my house, and--and marry her, eh! uncle? Who

‘Who, indeed!’ snarled Ralph.
‘How happy we should be!’ cried Nicholas with enthusiasm.
‘The pain of parting is nothing to the joy of meeting again. Kate
will be a beautiful woman, and I so proud to hear them say so, and
mother so happy to be with us once again, and all these sad times
forgotten, and--’ The picture was too bright a one to bear, and
Nicholas, fairly overpowered by it, smiled faintly, and burst into

This simple family, born and bred in retirement, and wholly
unacquainted with what is called the world--a conventional
phrase which, being interpreted, often signifieth all the rascals in
it--mingled their tears together at the thought of their first
separation; and, this first gush of feeling over, were proceeding to
dilate with all the buoyancy of untried hope on the bright
prospects before them, when Mr Ralph Nickleby suggested, that if
they lost time, some more fortunate candidate might deprive
Nicholas of the stepping-stone to fortune which the advertisement
pointed out, and so undermine all their air-built castles. This
timely reminder effectually stopped the conversation. Nicholas,
having carefully copied the address of Mr Squeers, the uncle and
nephew issued forth together in quest of that accomplished
gentleman; Nicholas firmly persuading himself that he had done
his relative great injustice in disliking him at first sight; and Mrs
Nickleby being at some pains to inform her daughter that she was
sure he was a much more kindly disposed person than he seemed;
which, Miss Nickleby dutifully remarked, he might very easily be.

To tell the truth, the good lady’s opinion had been not a little

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