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after a pause, and taking his hand as he spoke. ‘I have made head
against many trials; but the misery of another, and such misery, is
involved in this one, that I declare to you I am rendered desperate,
and know not how to act.’

In truth, it did seem a hopeless case. It was impossible to make
any use of such intelligence as Newman Noggs had gleaned, when
he lay concealed in the closet. The mere circumstance of the
compact between Ralph Nickleby and Gride would not invalidate
the marriage, or render Bray averse to it, who, if he did not
actually know of the existence of some such understanding,
doubtless suspected it. What had been hinted with reference to
some fraud on Madeline, had been put, with sufficient obscurity
by Arthur Gride, but coming from Newman Noggs, and obscured
still further by the smoke of his pocket-pistol, it became wholly
unintelligible, and involved in utter darkness.

‘There seems no ray of hope,’ said Nicholas.
‘The greater necessity for coolness, for reason, for
consideration, for thought,’ said Newman, pausing at every
alternate word, to look anxiously in his friend’s face. ‘Where are
the brothers?’

‘Both absent on urgent business, as they will be for a week to

‘Is there no way of communicating with them? No way of
getting one of them here by tomorrow night?’

‘Impossible!’ said Nicholas, ‘the sea is between us and them.
With the fairest winds that ever blew, to go and return would take
three days and nights.’

‘Their nephew,’ said Newman, ‘their old clerk.’
‘What could either do, that I cannot?’ rejoined Nicholas. ‘With

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