Mr Wackford Squeers, headmaster of Dotheboys Hall in Yorkshire, is in London looking for clients. He is approached at the Saracen’s Head by a Mr Snawley, step-father to two small boys, who is looking for a cheap, far-off boarding school with none of those ill-judged holidays ‘that unsettle children’s minds so’.
‘EACH boy is required to bring, sir, two suits of clothes, six shirts, six pair of stockings, two nightcaps, two pocket-handkerchiefs, two pair of shoes, two hats, and a razor.’
‘A razor!’ exclaimed Mr. Snawley, as they walked into the next box. ‘What for?’
‘To shave with,’ replied Squeers, in a slow and measured tone.
There was not much in these three words, but there must have been something in the manner in which they were said, to attract attention; for the schoolmaster and his companion looked steadily at each other for a few seconds, and then exchanged a very meaning smile.
‘Up to what age do you keep boys at your school then?’ Snawley asked at length.
‘Just as long as their friends make the quarterly payments to my agent in town, or until such time as they run away,’ replied Squeers.