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Chapter 4

Nicholas and his Uncle (to secure the Fortune
without loss of time) wait upon Mr Wackford
Squeers, the Yorkshire Schoolmaster.

Snow Hill! What kind of place can the quiet townspeople
who see the words emblazoned, in all the legibility of gilt
letters and dark shading, on the north-country coaches,
take Snow Hill to be? All people have some undefined and
shadowy notion of a place whose name is frequently before their
eyes, or often in their ears. What a vast number of random ideas
there must be perpetually floating about, regarding this same
Snow Hill. The name is such a good one. Snow Hill--Snow Hill
too, coupled with a Saracenís Head: picturing to us by a double
association of ideas, something stern and rugged! A bleak desolate
tract of country, open to piercing blasts and fierce wintry storms--
a dark, cold, gloomy heath, lonely by day, and scarcely to be
thought of by honest folks at night--a place which solitary
wayfarers shun, and where desperate robbers congregate;--this,
or something like this, should be the prevalent notion of Snow
Hill, in those remote and rustic parts, through which the Saracenís
Head, like some grim apparition, rushes each day and night with
mysterious and ghost-like punctuality; holding its swift and
headlong course in all weathers, and seeming to bid defiance to
the very elements themselves.

The reality is rather different, but by no means to be despised
notwithstanding. There, at the very core of London, in the heart of

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