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Charles Dickens: The Life and Adventures of Nicholas Nickleby
CHAPTER 41: Containing some Romantic Passages... (continued)
With which confession of his faith, the keeper shook his head again, as much as to say that nothing short of this would do, if things were to go on at all; and touching his hat sulkily--not that he was in an ill humour, but that his subject ruffled him--descended the ladder, and took it away.
During this conversation, Mrs Nickleby had regarded the man with a severe and steadfast look. She now heaved a profound sigh, and pursing up her lips, shook her head in a slow and doubtful manner.
'Poor creature!' said Kate.
'Ah! poor indeed!' rejoined Mrs Nickleby. 'It's shameful that such things should be allowed. Shameful!'
'How can they be helped, mama?' said Kate, mournfully. 'The infirmities of nature--'
'Nature!' said Mrs Nickleby. 'What! Do YOU suppose this poor gentleman is out of his mind?'
'Can anybody who sees him entertain any other opinion, mama?'
'Why then, I just tell you this, Kate,' returned Mrs Nickleby, 'that, he is nothing of the kind, and I am surprised you can be so imposed upon. It's some plot of these people to possess themselves of his property--didn't he say so himself? He may be a little odd and flighty, perhaps, many of us are that; but downright mad! and express himself as he does, respectfully, and in quite poetical language, and making offers with so much thought, and care, and prudence--not as if he ran into the streets, and went down upon his knees to the first chit of a girl he met, as a madman would! No, no, Kate, there's a great deal too much method in HIS madness; depend upon that, my dear.'
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