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they had washed off all effaceable marks of the late accident, the
room was warm and light, which was a most agreeable exchange
for the cold and darkness out of doors.

‘Well, Mr Nickleby,’ said Squeers, insinuating himself into the
warmest corner, ‘you did very right to catch hold of them horses. I
should have done it myself if I had come to in time, but I am very
glad you did it. You did it very well; very well.’

‘So well,’ said the merry-faced gentleman, who did not seem to
approve very much of the patronising tone adopted by Squeers,
‘that if they had not been firmly checked when they were, you
would most probably have had no brains left to teach with.’

This remark called up a discourse relative to the promptitude
Nicholas had displayed, and he was overwhelmed with
compliments and commendations.

‘I am very glad to have escaped, of course,’ observed Squeers:
‘every man is glad when he escapes from danger; but if any one of
my charges had been hurt--if I had been prevented from restoring
any one of these little boys to his parents whole and sound as I
received him--what would have been my feelings? Why the wheel
a-top of my head would have been far preferable to it.’

‘Are they all brothers, sir?’ inquired the lady who had carried
the ‘Davy’ or safety-lamp.

‘In one sense they are, ma’am,’ replied Squeers, diving into his
greatcoat pocket for cards. ‘They are all under the same parental
and affectionate treatment. Mrs Squeers and myself are a mother
and father to every one of ’em. Mr Nickleby, hand the lady them
cards, and offer these to the gentleman. Perhaps they might know
of some parents that would be glad to avail themselves of the

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