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better come down.’

‘Well,’ said the man on the other side, ‘I think you had,

One of the hands being then cautiously unclasped, the old
gentleman dropped into a sitting posture, and was looking round
to smile and bow to Mrs Nickleby, when he disappeared with some
precipitation, as if his legs had been pulled from below.

Very much relieved by his disappearance, Kate was turning to
speak to her mama, when the dirty hands again became visible,
and were immediately followed by the figure of a coarse squat
man, who ascended by the steps which had been recently
occupied by their singular neighbour.

‘Beg your pardon, ladies,’ said this new comer, grinning and
touching his hat. ‘Has he been making love to either of you?’

‘Yes,’ said Kate.
‘Ah!’ rejoined the man, taking his handkerchief out of his hat
and wiping his face, ‘he always will, you know. Nothing will
prevent his making love.’

‘I need not ask you if he is out of his mind, poor creature,’ said

‘Why no,’ replied the man, looking into his hat, throwing his
handkerchief in at one dab, and putting it on again. ‘That’s pretty
plain, that is.’

‘Has he been long so?’ asked Kate.
‘A long while.’

‘And is there no hope for him?’ said Kate, compassionately
‘Not a bit, and don’t deserve to be,’ replied the keeper. ‘He’s a
deal pleasanter without his senses than with ’em. He was the
cruellest, wickedest, out-and-outerest old flint that ever drawed

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