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assistance of Nicholas--and, taking his hand, led him through a
stone passage, profoundly dark, into a back-kitchen or cellar, of
the blackest and most pitchy obscurity, where they stopped.

‘Well!’ said Nicholas, in a discontented whisper, ‘this is not all, I
suppose, is it?’

‘No, no,’ rejoined Noggs; ‘they’ll be here directly. It’s all right.’
‘I am glad to hear it,’ said Nicholas. ‘I shouldn’t have thought it,
I confess.’

They exchanged no further words, and there Nicholas stood,
listening to the loud breathing of Newman Noggs, and imagining
that his nose seemed to glow like a red-hot coal, even in the midst
of the darkness which enshrouded them. Suddenly the sound of
cautious footsteps attracted his ear, and directly afterwards a
female voice inquired if the gentleman was there.

‘Yes,’ replied Nicholas, turning towards the corner from which
the voice proceeded. ‘Who is that?’

‘Only me, sir,’ replied the voice. ‘Now if you please, ma’am.’
A gleam of light shone into the place, and presently the servant
girl appeared, bearing a light, and followed by her young mistress,
who seemed to be overwhelmed by modesty and confusion.

At sight of the young lady, Nicholas started and changed colour;
his heart beat violently, and he stood rooted to the spot. At that
instant, and almost simultaneously with her arrival and that of the
candle, there was heard a loud and furious knocking at the street-
door, which caused Newman Noggs to jump up, with great agility,
from a beer-barrel on which he had been seated astride, and to
exclaim abruptly, and with a face of ashy paleness, ‘Bobster, by
the Lord!’

The young lady shrieked, the attendant wrung her hands,

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