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Chapter 51

The Project of Mr Ralph Nickleby and his Friend
approaching a successful Issue, becomes
unexpectedly known to another Party, not admitted
into their Confidence.

In an old house, dismal dark and dusty, which seemed to have
withered, like himself, and to have grown yellow and
shrivelled in hoarding him from the light of day, as he had in
hoarding his money, lived Arthur Gride. Meagre old chairs and
tables, of spare and bony make, and hard and cold as misersí
hearts, were ranged, in grim array, against the gloomy walls;
attenuated presses, grown lank and lantern-jawed in guarding the
treasures they enclosed, and tottering, as though from constant
fear and dread of thieves, shrunk up in dark corners, whence they
cast no shadows on the ground, and seemed to hide and cower
from observation. A tall grim clock upon the stairs, with long lean
hands and famished face, ticked in cautious whispers; and when it
struck the time, in thin and piping sounds, like an old manís voice,
rattled, as if it were pinched with hunger.

No fireside couch was there, to invite repose and comfort.
Elbow-chairs there were, but they looked uneasy in their minds,
cocked their arms suspiciously and timidly, and kept upon their
guard. Others, were fantastically grim and gaunt, as having drawn
themselves up to their utmost height, and put on their fiercest
looks to stare all comers out of countenance. Others, again,
knocked up against their neighbours, or leant for support against

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