فصل 07

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فصل 07

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Chapter seven

A Change of Luck

‘But I am looking for work,’ Nicholas replied.

‘What?’ the old man said with surprise.

Two days later, Ralph Nickleby learnt about Nicholas’s attack on Sir Mulberry Hawk. He sat in his office and wondered what to do about the boy. While he was thinking, he received an unexpected visit from Wackford Squeers. Squeers had come to London to find more pupils for Dotheboys Hall, and he also wanted to talk to Ralph about his nephew. The two men sat together, planning their revenge.

Meanwhile, Mrs Nickleby and Kate were back in their old rooms in Miss La Creevy’s house, and Nicholas decided to introduce them to Smike. Smike was shy at first, but Kate and Miss La Creevy were very kind to him. They soon persuaded Mrs Nickleby, who was unsure of him, to let him stay.

The next day, Nicholas returned to the job agency near Oxford Street.

Before he went in, he looked at the advertisements in the window. While he was looking, an old gentleman in a blue coat and white hat walked towards the window and stood in the street next to him. Nicholas looked at him out of the corner of his eye.

The old gentleman suddenly looked at Nicholas, and Nicholas looked away.

‘I’m sorry,’ he said, his face red with embarrassment. ‘I didn’t mean to be rude.’

‘I’m not offended,’ the man said with a smile.

There was something so friendly about the man’s smile, his round face and the warm look in his eyes, that Nicholas spoke again.

‘There are a lot of jobs here, sir,’ he said, half-smiling.

‘There are,’ the man agreed. ‘I feel so sorry for the people who have to come here.’ He began to move away, but then noticed Nicholas’s expression. ‘You wanted to say something, young man?’ he said.

‘I was wondering why you were looking at these advertisements,’ Nicholas replied.

‘Did you think I was looking for work?’ Nicholas shook his head. ‘Ha! Ha!’ laughed the old gentleman. ‘A very natural thought, I suppose. I thought the same about you.’

‘But I am looking for work,’ Nicholas replied.

‘What?’ the old man said with surprise. ‘A well-behaved, polite young gentleman like you? I don’t believe it.’

Nicholas told him about the death of his father and the unhappy situation of his poor mother and sister. Before he realized it, he had told the kind old man almost everything about his life. He did not, however, say much about his uncle.

The old man listened with great attention. When Nicholas had finished his story, he said, ‘Come along with me. We mustn’t lose a minute.’

The old gentleman took Nicholas across London to a quiet square in East London, near the Bank of England, and led him into the oldest, cleanest-looking house in the square. The name Cheeryble Brothers was above the door.

Nicholas followed the old gentleman across a large, busy hall that was filled with boxes of cotton and other material. They went across a yard and into another building. Inside this building, which was the counting-house, an old, large-faced man with silver glasses was sitting at a desk.

‘Is my brother in his room, Tim?’ asked the old gentleman.

‘Yes, he is, Mr Cheeryble,’ replied the old clerk, looking at Nicholas over the top of his glasses.

Mr Cheeryble led Nicholas into another office. Nicholas couldn’t believe his eyes when he saw Mr Cheeryble’s brother - the two gentlemen looked exactly the same!

‘Brother Ned, I’d like you to meet a young friend of mine who needs our help.’

‘What does he need, Brother Charles?’ the other man asked, looking at Nicholas with a kind smile.

Charles told his brother the details of Nicholas’s situation and, after a long conversation, Ned went next door to speak to the old clerk, Tim Linkinwater. When he returned, he brought Tim Linkinwater with him.

‘We’ve decided,’ Ned told Nicholas, ‘that you can work in the counting-house with Mr Linkinwater. Would you like that?’

Nicholas’s eyes filled with tears of happiness. He did not know what to say. ‘No, no, not a word now,’ Charles said as Nicholas tried to thank him. ‘You must return home. Your mother and sister will be worried about you. After we have checked a few details about you, Tim Linkinwater will visit you tonight.’ Nicholas returned home and told everybody his good news. That evening, Tim Linkinwater arrived and invited Nicholas to start work the next morning.

‘The brothers will pay you 120 pounds a year,’ Tim informed him. ‘In addition to this, you and your family are welcome to move into a small cottage that belongs to them. It’s not far from the office, the rent is very low, and they will also lend you the money to buy furniture.’

One week later, Mrs Nickleby, Kate, Smike and Nicholas moved into their new home.

Meanwhile, several miles away, Ralph Nickleby was still busy planning his revenge.

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