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drowned or hanged, and the mother dead, this house should be
her home. I wish they were, with all my soul.

Notwithstanding the deadly hatred which Ralph felt towards
Nicholas, and the bitter contempt with which he sneered at poor
Mrs Nickleby--notwithstanding the baseness with which he had
behaved, and was then behaving, and would behave again if his
interest prompted him, towards Kate herself--still there was,
strange though it may seem, something humanising and even
gentle in his thoughts at that moment. He thought of what his
home might be if Kate were there; he placed her in the empty
chair, looked upon her, heard her speak; he felt again upon his
arm the gentle pressure of the trembling hand; he strewed his
costly rooms with the hundred silent tokens of feminine presence
and occupation; he came back again to the cold fireside and the
silent dreary splendour; and in that one glimpse of a better nature,
born as it was in selfish thoughts, the rich man felt himself
friendless, childless, and alone. Gold, for the instant, lost its lustre
in his eyes, for there were countless treasures of the heart which it
could never purchase.

A very slight circumstance was sufficient to banish such
reflections from the mind of such a man. As Ralph looked vacantly
out across the yard towards the window of the other office, he
became suddenly aware of the earnest observation of Newman
Noggs, who, with his red nose almost touching the glass, feigned to
be mending a pen with a rusty fragment of a knife, but was in
reality staring at his employer with a countenance of the closest
and most eager scrutiny.

Ralph exchanged his dreamy posture for his accustomed
business attitude: the face of Newman disappeared, and the train

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