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‘Oh demmit!’ cried Mr Mantalini, whose face lengthened
considerably at this handsome proposal.

‘Why, that leaves you fifty,’ retorted Ralph. ‘What would you
have? Let me see the names.’

‘You are so demd hard, Nickleby,’ remonstrated Mr Mantalini.
‘Let me see the names,’ replied Ralph, impatiently extending
his hand for the bills. ‘Well! They are not sure, but they are safe
enough. Do you consent to the terms, and will you take the
money? I don’t want you to do so. I would rather you didn’t.’

‘Demmit, Nickleby, can’t you--’ began Mr Mantalini.
‘No,’ replied Ralph, interrupting him. ‘I can’t. Will you take the
money--down, mind; no delay, no going into the city and
pretending to negotiate with some other party who has no
existence, and never had. Is it a bargain, or is it not?’

Ralph pushed some papers from him as he spoke, and
carelessly rattled his cash-box, as though by mere accident. The
sound was too much for Mr Mantalini. He closed the bargain
directly it reached his ears, and Ralph told the money out upon
the table.

He had scarcely done so, and Mr Mantalini had not yet
gathered it all up, when a ring was heard at the bell, and
immediately afterwards Newman ushered in no less a person than
Madame Mantalini, at sight of whom Mr Mantalini evinced
considerable discomposure, and swept the cash into his pocket
with remarkable alacrity.

‘Oh, you are here,’ said Madame Mantalini, tossing her head.
‘Yes, my life and soul, I am,’ replied her husband, dropping on
his knees, and pouncing with kitten-like playfulness upon a stray
sovereign. ‘I am here, my soul’s delight, upon Tom Tiddler’s

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