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looking up into the face of Ralph Nickleby, who, lounging upon the
tall office stool, with his arms upon his knees, looked down into
his; a match for him on whatever errand he had come.

‘And how have you been?’ said Gride, feigning great interest in
Ralph’s state of health. ‘I haven’t seen you for--oh! not for--’

‘Not for a long time,’ said Ralph, with a peculiar smile,
importing that he very well knew it was not on a mere visit of
compliment that his friend had come. ‘It was a narrow chance that
you saw me now, for I had only just come up to the door as you
turned the corner.’

‘I am very lucky,’ observed Gride.
‘So men say,’ replied Ralph, drily.
The older money-lender wagged his chin and smiled, but he
originated no new remark, and they sat for some little time
without speaking. Each was looking out to take the other at a

‘Come, Gride,’ said Ralph, at length; ‘what’s in the wind today?’
‘Aha! you’re a bold man, Mr Nickleby,’ cried the other,
apparently very much relieved by Ralph’s leading the way to
business. ‘Oh dear, dear, what a bold man you are!’

‘Why, you have a sleek and slinking way with you that makes
me seem so by contrast,’ returned Ralph. ‘I don’t know but that
yours may answer better, but I want the patience for it.’

‘You were born a genius, Mr Nickleby,’ said old Arthur. ‘Deep,
deep, deep. Ah!’

‘Deep enough,’ retorted Ralph, ‘to know that I shall need all the
depth I have, when men like you begin to compliment. You know I
have stood by when you fawned and flattered other people, and I
remember pretty well what that always led to.’

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