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CHAPTER 8: Of the Internal Economy of Dotheboys Hall (continued)
Mrs Squeers came in, still habited in the primitive night-jacket which had displayed the symmetry of her figure on the previous night, and further ornamented with a beaver bonnet of some antiquity, which she wore, with much ease and lightness, on the top of the nightcap before mentioned.
'Drat the things,' said the lady, opening the cupboard; 'I can't find the school spoon anywhere.'
'Never mind it, my dear,' observed Squeers in a soothing manner; 'it's of no consequence.'
'No consequence, why how you talk!' retorted Mrs Squeers sharply; 'isn't it brimstone morning?'
'I forgot, my dear,' rejoined Squeers; 'yes, it certainly is. We purify the boys' bloods now and then, Nickleby.'
'Purify fiddlesticks' ends,' said his lady. 'Don't think, young man, that we go to the expense of flower of brimstone and molasses, just to purify them; because if you think we carry on the business in that way, you'll find yourself mistaken, and so I tell you plainly.'
'My dear,' said Squeers frowning. 'Hem!'
'Oh! nonsense,' rejoined Mrs Squeers. 'If the young man comes to be a teacher here, let him understand, at once, that we don't want any foolery about the boys. They have the brimstone and treacle, partly because if they hadn't something or other in the way of medicine they'd be always ailing and giving a world of trouble, and partly because it spoils their appetites and comes cheaper than breakfast and dinner. So, it does them good and us good at the same time, and that's fair enough I'm sure.'
Having given this explanation, Mrs Squeers put her head into the closet and instituted a stricter search after the spoon, in which Mr Squeers assisted. A few words passed between them while they were thus engaged, but as their voices were partially stifled by the cupboard, all that Nicholas could distinguish was, that Mr Squeers said what Mrs Squeers had said, was injudicious, and that Mrs Squeers said what Mr Squeers said, was 'stuff.'
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