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setting a proper example of neatness and decorum to her
blooming daughter. Considerations of duty and responsibility
apart, the change might have taken its rise in feelings of the purest
and most disinterested charity. The gentleman next door had been
vilified by Nicholas; rudely stigmatised as a dotard and an idiot;
and for these attacks upon his understanding, Mrs Nickleby was,
in some sort, accountable. She might have felt that it was the act of
a good Christian to show by all means in her power, that the
abused gentleman was neither the one nor the other. And what
better means could she adopt, towards so virtuous and laudable an
end, than proving to all men, in her own person, that his passion
was the most rational and reasonable in the world, and just the
very result, of all others, which discreet and thinking persons
might have foreseen, from her incautiously displaying her
matured charms, without reserve, under the very eye, as it were,
of an ardent and too-susceptible man?

‘Ah!’ said Mrs Nickleby, gravely shaking her head; ‘if Nicholas
knew what his poor dear papa suffered before we were engaged,
when I used to hate him, he would have a little more feeling. Shall
I ever forget the morning I looked scornfully at him when he
offered to carry my parasol? Or that night, when I frowned at
him? It was a mercy he didn’t emigrate. It very nearly drove him
to it.’

Whether the deceased might not have been better off if he had
emigrated in his bachelor days, was a question which his relict did
not stop to consider; for Kate entered the room, with her workbox,
in this stage of her reflections; and a much slighter interruption, or
no interruption at all, would have diverted Mrs Nickleby’s
thoughts into a new channel at any time.

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