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And don't let anyone play tricks with you. I - er - gather that discipline was not always your strong point at Melbury?

This text is from Good Bye Mr. Chips (Novel, first chapter). Can anyone explain the use of punctuation and interruption I - er - gather including the question mark in the end of the sentence?

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The speaker is hinting delicately that the person he is addressing (Mr. Chips?) had a reputation at Melbury (his previous school?) for not being able to keep his class in order. I gather means I believe, I have heard, and the hesitation (er) adds to the tentative nature of the statement, as does the question mark - it's true, isn't it?

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