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Expressing himself to this effect, Mr Squeers, who lost no
opportunity of advertising gratuitously, placed his hands upon his
knees, and looked at the pupils with as much benignity as he could
possibly affect, while Nicholas, blushing with shame, handed
round the cards as directed.

‘I hope you suffer no inconvenience from the overturn, ma’am?’
said the merry-faced gentleman, addressing the fastidious lady, as
though he were charitably desirous to change the subject.

‘No bodily inconvenience,’ replied the lady.
‘No mental inconvenience, I hope?’

‘The subject is a very painful one to my feelings, sir,’ replied the
lady with strong emotion; ‘and I beg you as a gentleman, not to
refer to it.’

‘Dear me,’ said the merry-faced gentleman, looking merrier
still, ‘I merely intended to inquire--’

‘I hope no inquiries will be made,’ said the lady, ‘or I shall be
compelled to throw myself on the protection of the other
gentlemen. Landlord, pray direct a boy to keep watch outside the
door--and if a green chariot passes in the direction of Grantham,
to stop it instantly.’

The people of the house were evidently overcome by this
request, and when the lady charged the boy to remember, as a
means of identifying the expected green chariot, that it would have
a coachman with a gold-laced hat on the box, and a footman, most
probably in silk stockings, behind, the attentions of the good
woman of the inn were redoubled. Even the box-passenger caught
the infection, and growing wonderfully deferential, immediately
inquired whether there was not very good society in that
neighbourhood, to which the lady replied yes, there was: in a

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