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“I’m a bachelor--no friends--no relations, Peg.” Lies! And now
he’s to bring home a new mistress, a baby-faced chit of a girl! If he
wanted a wife, the fool, why couldn’t he have one suitable to his
age, and that knew his ways? She won’t come in my way, he says.
No, that she won’t, but you little think why, Arthur boy!’

While Mrs Sliderskew, influenced possibly by some lingering
feelings of disappointment and personal slight, occasioned by her
old master’s preference for another, was giving loose to these
grumblings below stairs, Arthur Gride was cogitating in the
parlour upon what had taken place last night.

‘I can’t think how he can have picked up what he knows,’ said
Arthur, ‘unless I have committed myself--let something drop at
Bray’s, for instance--which has been overheard. Perhaps I may. I
shouldn’t be surprised if that was it. Mr Nickleby was often angry
at my talking to him before we got outside the door. I mustn’t tell
him that part of the business, or he’ll put me out of sorts, and
make me nervous for the day.’

Ralph was universally looked up to, and recognised among his
fellows as a superior genius, but upon Arthur Gride his stern
unyielding character and consummate art had made so deep an
impression, that he was actually afraid of him. Cringing and
cowardly to the core by nature, Arthur Gride humbled himself in
the dust before Ralph Nickleby, and, even when they had not this
stake in common, would have licked his shoes and crawled upon
the ground before him rather than venture to return him word for
word, or retort upon him in any other spirit than one of the most
slavish and abject sycophancy.

To Ralph Nickleby’s, Arthur Gride now betook himself
according to appointment; and to Ralph Nickleby he related how,

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