Home / News
CHAPTER 38: Comprises certain Particulars arising out of a Visit... (continued)
'Never was such a thing known,' rejoined Squeers, taking a little roll of notes from his pocket-book, to see that they were all safe.
'I have been, Mr Snawley,' said Mr Squeers, when he had satisfied himself upon this point, 'I have been that chap's benefactor, feeder, teacher, and clother. I have been that chap's classical, commercial, mathematical, philosophical, and trigonomical friend. My son--my only son, Wackford--has been his brother; Mrs Squeers has been his mother, grandmother, aunt,--ah! and I may say uncle too, all in one. She never cottoned to anybody, except them two engaging and delightful boys of yours, as she cottoned to this chap. What's my return? What's come of my milk of human kindness? It turns into curds and whey when I look at him.'
'Well it may, sir,' said Mrs Snawley. 'Oh! Well it may, sir.'
'Where has he been all this time?' inquired Snawley. 'Has he been living with--?'
'Ah, sir!' interposed Squeers, confronting him again. 'Have you been a living with that there devilish Nickleby, sir?'
But no threats or cuffs could elicit from Smike one word of reply to this question; for he had internally resolved that he would rather perish in the wretched prison to which he was again about to be consigned, than utter one syllable which could involve his first and true friend. He had already called to mind the strict injunctions of secrecy as to his past life, which Nicholas had laid upon him when they travelled from Yorkshire; and a confused and perplexed idea that his benefactor might have committed some terrible crime in bringing him away, which would render him liable to heavy punishment if detected, had contributed, in some degree, to reduce him to his present state of apathy and terror.
Such were the thoughts--if to visions so imperfect and undefined as those which wandered through his enfeebled brain, the term can be applied--which were present to the mind of Smike, and rendered him deaf alike to intimidation and persuasion. Finding every effort useless, Mr Squeers conducted him to a little back room up-stairs, where he was to pass the night; and, taking the precaution of removing his shoes, and coat and waistcoat, and also of locking the door on the outside, lest he should muster up sufficient energy to make an attempt at escape, that worthy gentleman left him to his meditations.
This is page 577 of 952. [Mark this Page]
Mark any page to add this title to Your Bookshelf. (0 / 10 books on shelf)
Customize text appearance:
(c) 2003-2012 LiteraturePage.com and Michael Moncur.
For information about public domain texts appearing here, read the copyright information and disclaimer.