Hard Times Book 1 Chapter 4 Page 5

I was so ragged and dirty, that you wouldn’t have touched me with a pair of tongs.’

Mrs. Gradgrind faintly looked at the tongs, as the most appropriate thing her imbecility could think of doing.

‘How I fought through it, I don’t know,’ said Bounderby. ‘I was determined, I suppose. I have been a determined character in later life, and I suppose I was then. Here I am, Mrs. Gradgrind, anyhow, and nobody to thank for my being here, but myself.’

Mrs. Gradgrind meekly and weakly hoped that his mother —

‘My mother? Bolted, ma’am!’ said Bounderby.

Mrs. Gradgrind, stunned as usual, collapsed and gave it up.