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CHAPTER 41: Containing some Romantic Passages... (continued)
One of the hands being then cautiously unclasped, the old gentleman dropped into a sitting posture, and was looking round to smile and bow to Mrs Nickleby, when he disappeared with some precipitation, as if his legs had been pulled from below.
Very much relieved by his disappearance, Kate was turning to speak to her mama, when the dirty hands again became visible, and were immediately followed by the figure of a coarse squat man, who ascended by the steps which had been recently occupied by their singular neighbour.
'Beg your pardon, ladies,' said this new comer, grinning and touching his hat. 'Has he been making love to either of you?'
'Yes,' said Kate.
'Ah!' rejoined the man, taking his handkerchief out of his hat and wiping his face, 'he always will, you know. Nothing will prevent his making love.'
'I need not ask you if he is out of his mind, poor creature,' said Kate.
'Why no,' replied the man, looking into his hat, throwing his handkerchief in at one dab, and putting it on again. 'That's pretty plain, that is.'
'Has he been long so?' asked Kate.
'A long while.'
'And is there no hope for him?' said Kate, compassionately
'Not a bit, and don't deserve to be,' replied the keeper. 'He's a deal pleasanter without his senses than with 'em. He was the cruellest, wickedest, out-and-outerest old flint that ever drawed breath.'
'Indeed!' said Kate.
'By George!' replied the keeper, shaking his head so emphatically that he was obliged to frown to keep his hat on. 'I never come across such a vagabond, and my mate says the same. Broke his poor wife's heart, turned his daughters out of doors, drove his sons into the streets; it was a blessing he went mad at last, through evil tempers, and covetousness, and selfishness, and guzzling, and drinking, or he'd have drove many others so. Hope for HIM, an old rip! There isn't too much hope going' but I'll bet a crown that what there is, is saved for more deserving chaps than him, anyhow.'
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