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    Chapter 13

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    Chapter 13
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    CHAPTER 13

    Nicholas varies the Monotony of Dothebys Hall by a most vigorous and
    remarkable proceeding, which leads to Consequences of some

    The cold, feeble dawn of a January morning was stealing in at the
    windows of the common sleeping-room, when Nicholas, raising himself
    on his arm, looked among the prostrate forms which on every side
    surrounded him, as though in search of some particular object.

    It needed a quick eye to detect, from among the huddled mass of
    sleepers, the form of any given individual. As they lay closely
    packed together, covered, for warmth's sake, with their patched and
    ragged clothes, little could be distinguished but the sharp outlines
    of pale faces, over which the sombre light shed the same dull heavy
    colour; with, here and there, a gaunt arm thrust forth: its thinness
    hidden by no covering, but fully exposed to view, in all its
    shrunken ugliness. There were some who, lying on their backs with
    upturned faces and clenched hands, just visible in the leaden light,
    bore more the aspect of dead bodies than of living creatures; and
    there were others coiled up into strange and fantastic postures,
    such as might have been taken for the uneasy efforts of pain to gain
    some temporary relief, rather than the freaks of slumber. A few--
    and these were among the youngest of the children--slept peacefully
    on, with smiles upon their faces, dreaming perhaps of home; but ever
    and again a deep and heavy sigh, breaking the stillness of the room,
    announced that some new sleeper had awakened to the misery of
    another day; and, as morning took the place of night, the smiles
    gradually faded away, with the friendly darkness which had given
    them birth.

    Dreams are the bright creatures of poem and legend, who sport on
    earth in the night season, and melt away in the first beam of the
    sun, which lights grim care and stern reality on their daily
    pilgrimage through the world.

    Nicholas looked upon the sleepers; at first, with the air of one who
    gazes upon a scene which, though familiar to him, has lost none of
    its sorrowful effect in consequence; and, afterwards, with a more
    intense and searching scrutiny, as a man would who missed something
    his eye was accustomed to meet, and had expected to rest upon. He
    was still occupied in this search, and had half risen from his bed
    in the eagerness of his quest, when the voice of Squeers was heard,
    calling from the bottom of the stairs.

    'Now then,' cried that gentleman, 'are you going to sleep all day,
    up there--'

    'You lazy hounds?' added Mrs Squeers, finishing the sentence, and
    producing, at the same time, a sharp sound, like that which is
    occasioned by the lacing of stays.

    'We shall be down directly, sir,' replied Nicholas.

    'Down directly!' said Squeers. 'Ah! you had better be down
    directly, or I'll be down upon some of you in less. Where's that

    Nicholas looked hurriedly round again, but made no answer.

    'Smike!' shouted Squeers.

    'Do you want your head broke in a fresh place, Smike?' demanded his
    amiable lady in the same key.

    Still there was no reply, and still Nicholas stared about him, as
    did the greater part of the boys, who were by this time roused.

    'Confound his impudence!' muttered Squeers, rapping the stair-rail
    impatiently with his cane. 'Nickleby!'

    'Well, sir.'

    'Send that obstinate scoundrel down; don't you hear me calling?'

    'He is not here, sir,' replied Nicholas.

    'Don't tell me a lie,' retorted the schoolmaster. 'He is.'

    'He is not,' retorted Nicholas angrily, 'don't tell me one.'

    'We shall soon see that,' said Mr Squeers, rushing upstairs. 'I'll
    find him, I warrant you.'

    With which assurance, Mr Squeers bounced into the dormitory, and,
    swinging his cane in the air ready for a blow, darted into the
    corner where the lean body of the drudge was usually stretched at
    night. The cane descended harmlessly upon the ground. There was
    nobody there.

    'What does this mean?' said Squeers, turning round with a very pale
    face. 'Where have you hid him?'

    'I have seen nothing of him since last night,' replied Nicholas.

    'Come,' said Squeers, evidently frightened, though he endeavoured to
    look otherwise, 'you won't save him this way. Where is he?'

    'At the bottom of the nearest pond for aught I know,' rejoined
    Nicholas in a low voice, and fixing his eyes full on the master's

    'Damn you, what do you mean by that?' retorted Squeers in great
    perturbation. Without waiting for a reply, he inquired of the boys
    whether any one among them knew anything of their missing

    There was a general hum of anxious denial, in the midst of which,
    one shrill voice was heard to say (as, indeed, everybody thought):

    'Please, sir, I think Smike's run away, sir.'

    'Ha!' cried Squeers, turning sharp round. 'Who said that?'

    'Tomkins, please sir,' rejoined a chorus of voices. Mr Squeers made
    a plunge into the crowd, and at one dive, caught a very little boy,
    habited still in his night-gear, and the perplexed expression of
    whose countenance, as he was brought forward, seemed to intimate
    that he was as yet uncertain whether he was about to be punished or
    rewarded for the suggestion. He was not long in doubt.

    'You think he has run away, do you, sir?' demanded Squeers.

    'Yes, please sir,' replied the little boy.

    'And what, sir,' said Squeers, catching the little boy suddenly by
    the arms and whisking up his drapery in a most dexterous manner,
    'what reason have you to suppose that any boy would want to run away
    from this establishment? Eh, sir?'

    The child raised a dismal cry, by way of answer, and Mr Squeers,
    throwing himself into the most favourable attitude for exercising
    his strength, beat him until the little urchin in his writhings
    actually rolled out of his hands, when he mercifully allowed him to
    roll away, as he best could.

    'There,' said Squeers. 'Now if any other boy thinks Smike has run
    away, I shall be glad to have a talk with him.'

    There was, of course, a profound silence, during which Nicholas
    showed his disgust as plainly as looks could show it.

    'Well, Nickleby,' said Squeers, eyeing him maliciously. 'YOU think
    he has run away, I suppose?'

    'I think it extremely likely,' replied Nicholas, in a quiet manner.

    'Oh, you do, do you?' sneered Squeers. 'Maybe you know he has?'

    'I know nothing of the kind.'

    'He didn't tell you he was going, I suppose, did he?' sneered

    'He did not,' replied Nicholas; 'I am very glad he did not, for it
    would then have been my duty to have warned you in time.'

    'Which no doubt you would have been devilish sorry to do,' said
    Squeers in a taunting fashion.

    'I should indeed,' replied Nicholas. 'You interpret my feelings
    with great accuracy.'

    Mrs Squeers had listened to this conversation, from the bottom of
    the stairs; but, now losing all patience, she hastily assumed her
    night-jacket, and made her way to the scene of action.

    'What's all this here to-do?' said the lady, as the boys fell off
    right and left, to save her the trouble of clearing a passage with
    her brawny arms. 'What on earth are you a talking to him for,

    'Why, my dear,' said Squeers, 'the fact is, that Smike is not to be

    'Well, I know that,' said the lady, 'and where's the wonder? If you
    get a parcel of proud-stomached teachers that set the young dogs a
    rebelling, what else can you look for? Now, young man, you just
    have the kindness to take yourself off to the schoolroom, and take
    the boys off with you, and don't you stir out of there till you have
    leave given you, or you and I may fall out in a way that'll spoil
    your beauty, handsome as you think yourself, and so I tell you.'

    'Indeed!' said Nicholas.

    'Yes; and indeed and indeed again, Mister Jackanapes,' said the
    excited lady; 'and I wouldn't keep such as you in the house another
    hour, if I had my way.'

    'Nor would you if I had mine,' replied Nicholas. 'Now, boys!'

    'Ah! Now, boys,' said Mrs Squeers, mimicking, as nearly as she
    could, the voice and manner of the usher. 'Follow your leader,
    boys, and take pattern by Smike if you dare. See what he'll get for
    himself, when he is brought back; and, mind! I tell you that you
    shall have as bad, and twice as bad, if you so much as open your
    mouths about him.'

    'If I catch him,' said Squeers, 'I'll only stop short of flaying him
    alive. I give you notice, boys.'

    'IF you catch him,' retorted Mrs Squeers, contemptuously; 'you are
    sure to; you can't help it, if you go the right way to work. Come!
    Away with you!'

    With these words, Mrs Squeers dismissed the boys, and after a little
    light skirmishing with those in the rear who were pressing forward
    to get out of the way, but were detained for a few moments by the
    throng in front, succeeded in clearing the room, when she confronted
    her spouse alone.

    'He is off,' said Mrs Squeers. 'The cow-house and stable are locked
    up, so he can't be there; and he's not downstairs anywhere, for the
    girl has looked. He must have gone York way, and by a public road

    'Why must he?' inquired Squeers.

    'Stupid!' said Mrs Squeers angrily. 'He hadn't any money, had he?'

    'Never had a penny of his own in his whole life, that I know of,'
    replied Squeers.

    'To be sure,' rejoined Mrs Squeers, 'and he didn't take anything to
    eat with him; that I'll answer for. Ha! ha! ha!'

    'Ha! ha! ha!' laughed Squeers.

    'Then, of course,' said Mrs S., 'he must beg his way, and he could
    do that, nowhere, but on the public road.'

    'That's true,' exclaimed Squeers, clapping his hands.

    'True! Yes; but you would never have thought of it, for all that,
    if I hadn't said so,' replied his wife. 'Now, if you take the
    chaise and go one road, and I borrow Swallow's chaise, and go the
    other, what with keeping our eyes open, and asking questions, one or
    other of us is pretty certain to lay hold of him.'

    The worthy lady's plan was adopted and put in execution without a
    moment's delay. After a very hasty breakfast, and the prosecution
    of some inquiries in the village, the result of which seemed to show
    that he was on the right track, Squeers started forth in the pony-
    chaise, intent upon discovery and vengeance. Shortly afterwards,
    Mrs Squeers, arrayed in the white top-coat, and tied up in various
    shawls and handkerchiefs, issued forth in another chaise and another
    direction, taking with her a good-sized bludgeon, several odd pieces
    of strong cord, and a stout labouring man: all provided and carried
    upon the expedition, with the sole object of assisting in the
    capture, and (once caught) insuring the safe custody of the
    unfortunate Smike.

    Nicholas remained behind, in a tumult of feeling, sensible that
    whatever might be the upshot of the boy's flight, nothing but
    painful and deplorable consequences were likely to ensue from it.
    Death, from want and exposure to the weather, was the best that
    could be expected from the protracted wandering of so poor and
    helpless a creature, alone and unfriended, through a country of
    which he was wholly ignorant. There was little, perhaps, to choose
    between this fate and a return to the tender mercies of the
    Yorkshire school; but the unhappy being had established a hold upon
    his sympathy and compassion, which made his heart ache at the
    prospect of the suffering he was destined to undergo. He lingered
    on, in restless anxiety, picturing a thousand possibilities, until
    the evening of next day, when Squeers returned, alone, and

    'No news of the scamp!' said the schoolmaster, who had evidently
    been stretching his legs, on the old principle, not a few times
    during the journey. 'I'll have consolation for this out of
    somebody, Nickleby, if Mrs Squeers don't hunt him down; so I give
    you warning.'

    'It is not in my power to console you, sir,' said Nicholas. 'It is
    nothing to me.'

    'Isn't it?' said Squeers in a threatening manner. 'We shall see!'

    'We shall,' rejoined Nicholas.

    'Here's the pony run right off his legs, and me obliged to come home
    with a hack cob, that'll cost fifteen shillings besides other
    expenses,' said Squeers; 'who's to pay for that, do you hear?'

    Nicholas shrugged his shoulders and remained silent.

    'I'll have it out of somebody, I tell you,' said Squeers, his usual
    harsh crafty manner changed to open bullying 'None of your whining
    vapourings here, Mr Puppy, but be off to your kennel, for it's past
    your bedtime! Come! Get out!'

    Nicholas bit his lip and knit his hands involuntarily, for his
    fingerends tingled to avenge the insult; but remembering that the
    man was drunk, and that it could come to little but a noisy brawl,
    he contented himself with darting a contemptuous look at the tyrant,
    and walked, as majestically as he could, upstairs: not a little
    nettled, however, to observe that Miss Squeers and Master Squeers,
    and the servant girl, were enjoying the scene from a snug corner;
    the two former indulging in many edifying remarks about the
    presumption of poor upstarts, which occasioned a vast deal of
    laughter, in which even the most miserable of all miserable servant
    girls joined: while Nicholas, stung to the quick, drew over his head
    such bedclothes as he had, and sternly resolved that the outstanding
    account between himself and Mr Squeers should be settled rather more
    speedily than the latter anticipated.

    Another day came, and Nicholas was scarcely awake when he heard the
    wheels of a chaise approaching the house. It stopped. The voice of
    Mrs Squeers was heard, and in exultation, ordering a glass of
    spirits for somebody, which was in itself a sufficient sign that
    something extraordinary had happened. Nicholas hardly dared to look
    out of the window; but he did so, and the very first object that met
    his eyes was the wretched Smike: so bedabbled with mud and rain, so
    haggard and worn, and wild, that, but for his garments being such as
    no scarecrow was ever seen to wear, he might have been doubtful,
    even then, of his identity.

    'Lift him out,' said Squeers, after he had literally feasted his
    eyes, in silence, upon the culprit. 'Bring him in; bring him in!'

    'Take care,' cried Mrs Squeers, as her husband proffered his
    assistance. 'We tied his legs under the apron and made'em fast to
    the chaise, to prevent his giving us the slip again.'

    With hands trembling with delight, Squeers unloosened the cord; and
    Smike, to all appearance more dead than alive, was brought into the
    house and securely locked up in a cellar, until such time as Mr
    Squeers should deem it expedient to operate upon him, in presence of
    the assembled school.

    Upon a hasty consideration of the circumstances, it may be matter of
    surprise to some persons, that Mr and Mrs Squeers should have taken
    so much trouble to repossess themselves of an incumbrance of which
    it was their wont to complain so loudly; but their surprise will
    cease when they are informed that the manifold services of the
    drudge, if performed by anybody else, would have cost the
    establishment some ten or twelve shillings per week in the shape of
    wages; and furthermore, that all runaways were, as a matter of
    policy, made severe examples of, at Dotheboys Hall, inasmuch as, in
    consequence of the limited extent of its attractions, there was but
    little inducement, beyond the powerful impulse of fear, for any
    pupil, provided with the usual number of legs and the power of using
    them, to remain.

    The news that Smike had been caught and brought back in triumph, ran
    like wild-fire through the hungry community, and expectation was on
    tiptoe all the morning. On tiptoe it was destined to remain,
    however, until afternoon; when Squeers, having refreshed himself
    with his dinner, and further strengthened himself by an extra
    libation or so, made his appearance (accompanied by his amiable
    partner) with a countenance of portentous import, and a fearful
    instrument of flagellation, strong, supple, wax-ended, and new,--in
    short, purchased that morning, expressly for the occasion.

    'Is every boy here?' asked Squeers, in a tremendous voice.

    Every boy was there, but every boy was afraid to speak, so Squeers
    glared along the lines to assure himself; and every eye drooped, and
    every head cowered down, as he did so.

    'Each boy keep his place,' said Squeers, administering his favourite
    blow to the desk, and regarding with gloomy satisfaction the
    universal start which it never failed to occasion. 'Nickleby! to
    your desk, sir.'

    It was remarked by more than one small observer, that there was a
    very curious and unusual expression in the usher's face; but he took
    his seat, without opening his lips in reply. Squeers, casting a
    triumphant glance at his assistant and a look of most comprehensive
    despotism on the boys, left the room, and shortly afterwards
    returned, dragging Smike by the collar--or rather by that fragment
    of his jacket which was nearest the place where his collar would
    have been, had he boasted such a decoration.

    In any other place, the appearance of the wretched, jaded,
    spiritless object would have occasioned a murmur of compassion and
    remonstrance. It had some effect, even there; for the lookers-on
    moved uneasily in their seats; and a few of the boldest ventured to
    steal looks at each other, expressive of indignation and pity.

    They were lost on Squeers, however, whose gaze was fastened on the
    luckless Smike, as he inquired, according to custom in such cases,
    whether he had anything to say for himself.

    'Nothing, I suppose?' said Squeers, with a diabolical grin.

    Smike glanced round, and his eye rested, for an instant, on
    Nicholas, as if he had expected him to intercede; but his look was
    riveted on his desk.

    'Have you anything to say?' demanded Squeers again: giving his right
    arm two or three flourishes to try its power and suppleness. 'Stand
    a little out of the way, Mrs Squeers, my dear; I've hardly got room

    'Spare me, sir!' cried Smike.

    'Oh! that's all, is it?' said Squeers. 'Yes, I'll flog you within
    an inch of your life, and spare you that.'

    'Ha, ha, ha,' laughed Mrs Squeers, 'that's a good 'un!'

    'I was driven to do it,' said Smike faintly; and casting another
    imploring look about him.

    'Driven to do it, were you?' said Squeers. 'Oh! it wasn't your
    fault; it was mine, I suppose--eh?'

    'A nasty, ungrateful, pig-headed, brutish, obstinate, sneaking dog,'
    exclaimed Mrs Squeers, taking Smike's head under her arm, and
    administering a cuff at every epithet; 'what does he mean by that?'

    'Stand aside, my dear,' replied Squeers. 'We'll try and find out.'

    Mrs Squeers, being out of breath with her exertions, complied.
    Squeers caught the boy firmly in his grip; one desperate cut had
    fallen on his body--he was wincing from the lash and uttering a
    scream of pain--it was raised again, and again about to fall--when
    Nicholas Nickleby, suddenly starting up, cried 'Stop!' in a voice
    that made the rafters ring.

    'Who cried stop?' said Squeers, turning savagely round.

    'I,' said Nicholas, stepping forward. 'This must not go on.'

    'Must not go on!' cried Squeers, almost in a shriek.

    'No!' thundered Nicholas.

    Aghast and stupefied by the boldness of the interference, Squeers
    released his hold of Smike, and, falling back a pace or two, gazed
    upon Nicholas with looks that were positively frightful.

    'I say must not,' repeated Nicholas, nothing daunted; 'shall not. I
    will prevent it.'

    Squeers continued to gaze upon him, with his eyes starting out of
    his head; but astonishment had actually, for the moment, bereft him
    of speech.

    'You have disregarded all my quiet interference in the miserable
    lad's behalf,' said Nicholas; 'you have returned no answer to the
    letter in which I begged forgiveness for him, and offered to be
    responsible that he would remain quietly here. Don't blame me for
    this public interference. You have brought it upon yourself; not I.'

    'Sit down, beggar!' screamed Squeers, almost beside himself with
    rage, and seizing Smike as he spoke.

    'Wretch,' rejoined Nicholas, fiercely, 'touch him at your peril! I
    will not stand by, and see it done. My blood is up, and I have the
    strength of ten such men as you. Look to yourself, for by Heaven I
    will not spare you, if you drive me on!'

    'Stand back,' cried Squeers, brandishing his weapon.

    'I have a long series of insults to avenge,' said Nicholas, flushed
    with passion; 'and my indignation is aggravated by the dastardly
    cruelties practised on helpless infancy in this foul den. Have a
    care; for if you do raise the devil within me, the consequences
    shall fall heavily upon your own head!'

    He had scarcely spoken, when Squeers, in a violent outbreak of
    wrath, and with a cry like the howl of a wild beast, spat upon him,
    and struck him a blow across the face with his instrument of
    torture, which raised up a bar of livid flesh as it was inflicted.
    Smarting with the agony of the blow, and concentrating into that one
    moment all his feelings of rage, scorn, and indignation, Nicholas
    sprang upon him, wrested the weapon from his hand, and pinning him
    by the throat, beat the ruffian till he roared for mercy.

    The boys--with the exception of Master Squeers, who, coming to his
    father's assistance, harassed the enemy in the rear--moved not, hand
    or foot; but Mrs Squeers, with many shrieks for aid, hung on to the
    tail of her partner's coat, and endeavoured to drag him from his
    infuriated adversary; while Miss Squeers, who had been peeping
    through the keyhole in expectation of a very different scene, darted
    in at the very beginning of the attack, and after launching a shower
    of inkstands at the usher's head, beat Nicholas to her heart's content;
    animating herself, at every blow, with the recollection of his
    having refused her proffered love, and thus imparting additional
    strength to an arm which (as she took after her mother in this
    respect) was, at no time, one of the weakest.

    Nicholas, in the full torrent of his violence, felt the blows no
    more than if they had been dealt with feathers; but, becoming tired
    of the noise and uproar, and feeling that his arm grew weak besides,
    he threw all his remaining strength into half-a-dozen finishing
    cuts, and flung Squeers from him with all the force he could muster.
    The violence of his fall precipitated Mrs Squeers completely over an
    adjacent form; and Squeers striking his head against it in his
    descent, lay at his full length on the ground, stunned and

    Having brought affairs to this happy termination, and ascertained,
    to his thorough satisfaction, that Squeers was only stunned, and not
    dead (upon which point he had had some unpleasant doubts at first),
    Nicholas left his family to restore him, and retired to consider
    what course he had better adopt. He looked anxiously round for
    Smike, as he left the room, but he was nowhere to be seen.

    After a brief consideration, he packed up a few clothes in a small
    leathern valise, and, finding that nobody offered to oppose his
    progress, marched boldly out by the front-door, and shortly
    afterwards, struck into the road which led to Greta Bridge.

    When he had cooled sufficiently to be enabled to give his present
    circumstances some little reflection, they did not appear in a very
    encouraging light; he had only four shillings and a few pence in his
    pocket, and was something more than two hundred and fifty miles from
    London, whither he resolved to direct his steps, that he might
    ascertain, among other things, what account of the morning's
    proceedings Mr Squeers transmitted to his most affectionate uncle.

    Lifting up his eyes, as he arrived at the conclusion that there was
    no remedy for this unfortunate state of things, he beheld a horseman
    coming towards him, whom, on nearer approach, he discovered, to his
    infinite chagrin, to be no other than Mr John Browdie, who, clad in
    cords and leather leggings, was urging his animal forward by means
    of a thick ash stick, which seemed to have been recently cut from
    some stout sapling.

    'I am in no mood for more noise and riot,' thought Nicholas, 'and
    yet, do what I will, I shall have an altercation with this honest
    blockhead, and perhaps a blow or two from yonder staff.'

    In truth, there appeared some reason to expect that such a result
    would follow from the encounter, for John Browdie no sooner saw
    Nicholas advancing, than he reined in his horse by the footpath, and
    waited until such time as he should come up; looking meanwhile, very
    sternly between the horse's ears, at Nicholas, as he came on at his

    'Servant, young genelman,' said John.

    'Yours,' said Nicholas.

    'Weel; we ha' met at last,' observed John, making the stirrup ring
    under a smart touch of the ash stick.

    'Yes,' replied Nicholas, hesitating. 'Come!' he said, frankly,
    after a moment's pause, 'we parted on no very good terms the last
    time we met; it was my fault, I believe; but I had no intention of
    offending you, and no idea that I was doing so. I was very sorry
    for it, afterwards. Will you shake hands?'

    'Shake honds!' cried the good-humoured Yorkshireman; 'ah! that I
    weel;' at the same time, he bent down from the saddle, and gave
    Nicholas's fist a huge wrench: 'but wa'at be the matther wi' thy
    feace, mun? it be all brokken loike.'

    'It is a cut,' said Nicholas, turning scarlet as he spoke,--'a blow;
    but I returned it to the giver, and with good interest too.'

    'Noa, did 'ee though?' exclaimed John Browdie. 'Well deane! I
    loike 'un for thot.'

    'The fact is,' said Nicholas, not very well knowing how to make the
    avowal, 'the fact is, that I have been ill-treated.'

    'Noa!' interposed John Browdie, in a tone of compassion; for he was
    a giant in strength and stature, and Nicholas, very likely, in his
    eyes, seemed a mere dwarf; 'dean't say thot.'

    'Yes, I have,' replied Nicholas, 'by that man Squeers, and I have
    beaten him soundly, and am leaving this place in consequence.'

    'What!' cried John Browdie, with such an ecstatic shout, that the
    horse quite shied at it. 'Beatten the schoolmeasther! Ho! ho! ho!
    Beatten the schoolmeasther! who ever heard o' the loike o' that noo!
    Giv' us thee hond agean, yoongster. Beatten the schoolmeasther!
    Dang it, I loov' thee for't.'

    With these expressions of delight, John Browdie laughed and laughed
    again--so loud that the echoes, far and wide, sent back nothing but
    jovial peals of merriment--and shook Nicholas by the hand meanwhile,
    no less heartily. When his mirth had subsided, he inquired what
    Nicholas meant to do; on his informing him, to go straight to
    London, he shook his head doubtfully, and inquired if he knew how
    much the coaches charged to carry passengers so far.

    'No, I do not,' said Nicholas; 'but it is of no great consequence to
    me, for I intend walking.'

    'Gang awa' to Lunnun afoot!' cried John, in amazement.

    'Every step of the way,' replied Nicholas. 'I should be many steps
    further on by this time, and so goodbye!'

    'Nay noo,' replied the honest countryman, reining in his impatient
    horse, 'stan' still, tellee. Hoo much cash hast thee gotten?'

    'Not much,' said Nicholas, colouring, 'but I can make it enough.
    Where there's a will, there's a way, you know.'

    John Browdie made no verbal answer to this remark, but putting his
    hand in his pocket, pulled out an old purse of solid leather, and
    insisted that Nicholas should borrow from him whatever he required
    for his present necessities.

    'Dean't be afeard, mun,' he said; 'tak' eneaf to carry thee whoam.
    Thee'lt pay me yan day, a' warrant.'

    Nicholas could by no means be prevailed upon to borrow more than a
    sovereign, with which loan Mr Browdie, after many entreaties that he
    would accept of more (observing, with a touch of Yorkshire caution,
    that if he didn't spend it all, he could put the surplus by, till he
    had an opportunity of remitting it carriage free), was fain to
    content himself.

    'Tak' that bit o' timber to help thee on wi', mun,' he added,
    pressing his stick on Nicholas, and giving his hand another squeeze;
    'keep a good heart, and bless thee. Beatten the schoolmeasther!
    'Cod it's the best thing a've heerd this twonty year!'

    So saying, and indulging, with more delicacy than might have been
    expected from him, in another series of loud laughs, for the purpose
    of avoiding the thanks which Nicholas poured forth, John Browdie set
    spurs to his horse, and went off at a smart canter: looking back,
    from time to time, as Nicholas stood gazing after him, and waving
    his hand cheerily, as if to encourage him on his way. Nicholas
    watched the horse and rider until they disappeared over the brow of
    a distant hill, and then set forward on his journey.

    He did not travel far that afternoon, for by this time it was nearly
    dark, and there had been a heavy fall of snow, which not only
    rendered the way toilsome, but the track uncertain and difficult to
    find, after daylight, save by experienced wayfarers. He lay, that
    night, at a cottage, where beds were let at a cheap rate to the more
    humble class of travellers; and, rising betimes next morning, made
    his way before night to Boroughbridge. Passing through that town in
    search of some cheap resting-place, he stumbled upon an empty barn
    within a couple of hundred yards of the roadside; in a warm corner
    of which, he stretched his weary limbs, and soon fell asleep.

    When he awoke next morning, and tried to recollect his dreams, which
    had been all connected with his recent sojourn at Dotheboys Hall, he
    sat up, rubbed his eyes and stared--not with the most composed
    countenance possible--at some motionless object which seemed to be
    stationed within a few yards in front of him.

    'Strange!' cried Nicholas; 'can this be some lingering creation of
    the visions that have scarcely left me! It cannot be real--and yet
    I--I am awake! Smike!'

    The form moved, rose, advanced, and dropped upon its knees at his
    feet. It was Smike indeed.

    'Why do you kneel to me?' said Nicholas, hastily raising him.

    'To go with you--anywhere--everywhere--to the world's end--to the
    churchyard grave,' replied Smike, clinging to his hand. 'Let me, oh
    do let me. You are my home--my kind friend--take me with you,

    'I am a friend who can do little for you,' said Nicholas, kindly.
    'How came you here?'

    He had followed him, it seemed; had never lost sight of him all the
    way; had watched while he slept, and when he halted for refreshment;
    and had feared to appear before, lest he should be sent back. He
    had not intended to appear now, but Nicholas had awakened more
    suddenly than he looked for, and he had had no time to conceal

    'Poor fellow!' said Nicholas, 'your hard fate denies you any friend
    but one, and he is nearly as poor and helpless as yourself.'

    'May I--may I go with you?' asked Smike, timidly. 'I will be your
    faithful hard-working servant, I will, indeed. I want no clothes,'
    added the poor creature, drawing his rags together; 'these will do
    very well. I only want to be near you.'

    'And you shall,' cried Nicholas. 'And the world shall deal by you
    as it does by me, till one or both of us shall quit it for a better.

    With these words, he strapped his burden on his shoulders, and,
    taking his stick in one hand, extended the other to his delighted
    charge; and so they passed out of the old barn, together.
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    Chapter 13
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