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Kit Nubbles
by [?]

Christopher, or Kit Nubbles, as he was commonly called, was not handsome in the estimation of anyone except his mother, and mothers are apt to be partial. He was a shock-headed, shambling, awkward lad, with an uncommonly wide mouth, very red cheeks, a turned-up nose, and certainly the most comical expression of face I ever saw.

He was errand-boy at the Old Curiosity Shop, and deeply attached to both little Nell Trent and her grandfather, his employer. And just here let me explain that Nell’s grandfather led a curious sort of double life; his days were spent in the shop, but when night fell, he invariably took his cloak, his hat, and his stick, and kissing the child, passed out, leaving her alone through the long hours of the night, and Nell had no knowledge that in those nightly absences he was haunting the gaming table; risking large sums, and ever watching with feverish anticipation for the time when he should win a vast fortune to lay by for the child, his pet and darling, to keep her from want if death should take him away. But of this little Nell knew nothing, or she would have implored him to give up the wicked and dangerous pastime.

Nor did she know that it was from Quilp, a strange, rich, little dwarf, who had many trades and callings, that her grandfather was borrowing the money which he staked nightly in hopes of winning more, pledging his little stock as security for the debt.

It was a lonely life that Nell led, with only the old man for companion, so she had a genuine affection for the awkward errand-boy, Christopher, who was one of the few bits of comedy in her days, and his devotion to her verged on worship. One morning Nell’s grandfather sent her with a note to the little dwarf, Quilp; and Kit, who escorted her, while he waited for her, got into a tussle with Quilp’s boy, who asserted that Nell was ugly, and that she and her grandfather were entirely in Quilp’s power.

That was too much for Kit to bear in silence, and he retorted that Quilp was the ugliest dwarf that could be seen anywheres for a penny.

This enraged Quilp’s boy, who sprang upon Kit, and the two were engaged in a hand-to-hand fight, when Quilp appeared and separated them, asking the cause of the quarrel, and was told that Kit had called him, “The ugliest dwarf that could be seen anywheres for a penny.” Poor Kit never dreamed that his unguarded remark was to be treasured up against him in the mind of the jealous, vindictive, little dwarf, and used to separate him from his idolised mistress and her grandfather, but it was even so, for there was a power of revenge, a hatred, in the tiny body of the dwarf, entirely out of proportion to his size.

Quilp at this time desired to injure the old man and his grandchild, and soon made several discoveries in a secret way, which, added to what he found out from little Nell’s own artless words about her home life, and her grandfather’s habits, enabled him to put two and two together, and guess correctly for what purpose the old man borrowed such large sums from him, and he refused him further loans. More than this, he told the old man that he (Quilp) held a bill of sale on his stock and property, and that he and little Nell would be henceforth homeless and penniless.

The old man pleaded, with agony in his face and voice for one more advance,–one more trial,–but Quilp was firm.

“Who is it?” retorted the old man, desperately, “that, notwithstanding all my caution, told you? Come, let me know the name,–the person.”

The crafty dwarf stopped short in his answer, and said,—-

“Now, who do you think?”

“It was Kit. It must have been the boy. He played the spy, and you tampered with him.”