'Past seven, Nickleby,' said Mr Squeers on the first cold morning after Nicholas' arrival at Dotheboys Hall.
'Come, tumble up. The pump's frozen. You can't wash yourself this morning, so you must be happy giving yourself a dry polish till we break the ice in the well, and can get a bucketful out for the boys.'
Nicholas put on his clothes and was about to leave, when Mrs Squeers, came into the room. She wore her night clothes and an ancient beaver bonnet
'I can't find the school spoon anywhere. And it's brimstone morning today!' she complained.
'We purify the boys' blood with it now and then, Nickleby,' Squeers explained.
'Let me tell you plainly: we don't do it just for the good of it,' Mrs Squeers said. 'They have brimstone and treacle because they would always be ailing and giving a world of trouble if they didn't have something by the way of medicine. Also, it reduces their appetite and is cheaper than breakfast and dinner. So, it does them good and us good at the same time'.
As Nicholas digested this information, Mrs Squeers went back to looking for the spoon in the closet, with Mr Squeers helping. After a great deal of fruitless rummaging, a boarder named Smike was called in. Mr Squeers boxed his ears and asked him about the spoon.