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Chapter 15 Acquaints the Reader with the Cause and Origin of th_nterruption described in the last Chapter, and with some other Matter_ecessary to be known

  • Newman Noggs scrambled in violent haste upstairs with the steaming beverage, which he had so unceremoniously snatched from the table of Mr Kenwigs, an_ndeed from the very grasp of the water-rate collector, who was eyeing th_ontents of the tumbler, at the moment of its unexpected abstraction, wit_ively marks of pleasure visible in his countenance. He bore his priz_traight to his own back- garret, where, footsore and nearly shoeless, wet, dirty, jaded, and disfigured with every mark of fatiguing travel, sat Nichola_nd Smike, at once the cause and partner of his toil; both perfectly worn ou_y their unwonted and protracted exertion.
  • Newman's first act was to compel Nicholas, with gentle force, to swallow hal_f the punch at a breath, nearly boiling as it was; and his next, to pour th_emainder down the throat of Smike, who, never having tasted anything stronge_han aperient medicine in his whole life, exhibited various odd manifestation_f surprise and delight, during the passage of the liquor down his throat, an_urned up his eyes most emphatically when it was all gone.
  • 'You are wet through,' said Newman, passing his hand hastily over the coa_hich Nicholas had thrown off; 'and I—I—haven't even a change,' he added, wit_ wistful glance at the shabby clothes he wore himself.
  • 'I have dry clothes, or at least such as will serve my turn well, in m_undle,' replied Nicholas. 'If you look so distressed to see me, you will ad_o the pain I feel already, at being compelled, for one night, to cast mysel_pon your slender means for aid and shelter.'
  • Newman did not look the less distressed to hear Nicholas talking in thi_train; but, upon his young friend grasping him heartily by the hand, an_ssuring him that nothing but implicit confidence in the sincerity of hi_rofessions, and kindness of feeling towards himself, would have induced him, on any consideration, even to have made him acquainted with his arrival i_ondon, Mr Noggs brightened up again, and went about making such arrangement_s were in his power for the comfort of his visitors, with extreme alacrity.
  • These were simple enough; poor Newman's means halting at a very considerabl_istance short of his inclinations; but, slight as they were, they were no_ade without much bustling and running about. As Nicholas had husbanded hi_canty stock of money, so well that it was not yet quite expended, a supper o_read and cheese, with some cold beef from the cook's shop, was soon place_pon the table; and these viands being flanked by a bottle of spirits and _ot of porter, there was no ground for apprehension on the score of hunger o_hirst, at all events. Such preparations as Newman had it in his power t_ake, for the accommodation of his guests during the night, occupied no ver_reat time in completing; and as he had insisted, as an express preliminary, that Nicholas should change his clothes, and that Smike should invest himsel_n his solitary coat (which no entreaties would dissuade him from strippin_ff for the purpose), the travellers partook of their frugal fare, with mor_atisfaction than one of them at least had derived from many a better meal.
  • They then drew near the fire, which Newman Noggs had made up as well as h_ould, after the inroads of Crowl upon the fuel; and Nicholas, who ha_itherto been restrained by the extreme anxiety of his friend that he shoul_efresh himself after his journey, now pressed him with earnest question_oncerning his mother and sister.
  • 'Well,' replied Newman, with his accustomed taciturnity; 'both well.'
  • 'They are living in the city still?' inquired Nicholas.
  • 'They are,' said Newman.
  • 'And my sister,'—added Nicholas. 'Is she still engaged in the business whic_he wrote to tell me she thought she should like so much?'
  • Newman opened his eyes rather wider than usual, but merely replied by a gasp, which, according to the action of the head that accompanied it, wa_nterpreted by his friends as meaning yes or no. In the present instance, th_antomime consisted of a nod, and not a shake; so Nicholas took the answer a_ favourable one.
  • 'Now listen to me,' said Nicholas, laying his hand on Newman's shoulder.
  • 'Before I would make an effort to see them, I deemed it expedient to come t_ou, lest, by gratifying my own selfish desire, I should inflict an injur_pon them which I can never repair. What has my uncle heard from Yorkshire?'
  • Newman opened and shut his mouth, several times, as though he were trying hi_tmost to speak, but could make nothing of it, and finally fixed his eyes o_icholas with a grim and ghastly stare.
  • 'What has he heard?' urged Nicholas, colouring. 'You see that I am prepared t_ear the very worst that malice can have suggested. Why should you conceal i_rom me? I must know it sooner or later; and what purpose can be gained b_rifling with the matter for a few minutes, when half the time would put me i_ossession of all that has occurred? Tell me at once, pray.'
  • 'Tomorrow morning,' said Newman; 'hear it tomorrow.'
  • 'What purpose would that answer?' urged Nicholas.
  • 'You would sleep the better,' replied Newman.
  • 'I should sleep the worse,' answered Nicholas, impatiently. 'Sleep! Exhauste_s I am, and standing in no common need of rest, I cannot hope to close m_yes all night, unless you tell me everything.'
  • 'And if I should tell you everything,' said Newman, hesitating.
  • 'Why, then you may rouse my indignation or wound my pride,' rejoined Nicholas;
  • 'but you will not break my rest; for if the scene were acted over again, _ould take no other part than I have taken; and whatever consequences ma_ccrue to myself from it, I shall never regret doing as I have done—never, i_ starve or beg in consequence. What is a little poverty or suffering, to th_isgrace of the basest and most inhuman cowardice! I tell you, if I had stoo_y, tamely and passively, I should have hated myself, and merited the contemp_f every man in existence. The black-hearted scoundrel!'
  • With this gentle allusion to the absent Mr Squeers, Nicholas repressed hi_ising wrath, and relating to Newman exactly what had passed at Dotheboy_all, entreated him to speak out without more pressing. Thus adjured, Mr Nogg_ook, from an old trunk, a sheet of paper, which appeared to have bee_crawled over in great haste; and after sundry extraordinary demonstrations o_eluctance, delivered himself in the following terms.
  • 'My dear young man, you mustn't give way to—this sort of thing will never do, you know—as to getting on in the world, if you take everybody's part that'_ll-treated—Damn it, I am proud to hear of it; and would have done it myself!'
  • Newman accompanied this very unusual outbreak with a violent blow upon th_able, as if, in the heat of the moment, he had mistaken it for the chest o_ibs of Mr Wackford Squeers. Having, by this open declaration of his feelings, quite precluded himself from offering Nicholas any cautious worldly advice (which had been his first intention), Mr Noggs went straight to the point.
  • 'The day before yesterday,' said Newman, 'your uncle received this letter. _ook a hasty copy of it, while he was out. Shall I read it?'
  • 'If you please,' replied Nicholas. Newman Noggs accordingly read as follows:
  • 'DOTHEBOYS HALL, 'THURSDAY MORNING.
  • 'SIR,
  • 'My pa requests me to write to you, the doctors considering it doubtfu_hether he will ever recuvver the use of his legs which prevents his holding _en.
  • 'We are in a state of mind beyond everything, and my pa is one mask of broose_oth blue and green likewise two forms are steepled in his Goar. We wer_impelled to have him carried down into the kitchen where he now lays. Yo_ill judge from this that he has been brought very low.
  • 'When your nevew that you recommended for a teacher had done this to my pa an_umped upon his body with his feet and also langwedge which I will not pollew_y pen with describing, he assaulted my ma with dreadful violence, dashed he_o the earth, and drove her back comb several inches into her head. A ver_ittle more and it must have entered her skull. We have a medical certifike_hat if it had, the tortershell would have affected the brain.
  • 'Me and my brother were then the victims of his feury since which we hav_uffered very much which leads us to the arrowing belief that we have receive_ome injury in our insides, especially as no marks of violence are visibl_xternally. I am screaming out loud all the time I write and so is my brothe_hich takes off my attention rather and I hope will excuse mistakes.
  • 'The monster having sasiated his thirst for blood ran away, taking with him _oy of desperate caracter that he had excited to rebellyon, and a garnet rin_elonging to my ma, and not having been apprehended by the constables i_upposed to have been took up by some stage-coach. My pa begs that if he come_o you the ring may be returned, and that you will let the thief and assassi_o, as if we prosecuted him he would only be transported, and if he is let g_e is sure to be hung before long which will save us trouble and be much mor_atisfactory. Hoping to hear from you when convenient
  • 'I remain 'Yours and cetrer 'FANNY SQUEERS.
  • 'P.S. I pity his ignorance and despise him.'
  • A profound silence succeeded to the reading of this choice epistle, durin_hich Newman Noggs, as he folded it up, gazed with a kind of grotesque pity a_he boy of desperate character therein referred to; who, having no mor_istinct perception of the matter in hand, than that he had been th_nfortunate cause of heaping trouble and falsehood upon Nicholas, sat mute an_ispirited, with a most woe-begone and heart-stricken look.
  • 'Mr Noggs,' said Nicholas, after a few moments' reflection, 'I must go out a_nce.'
  • 'Go out!' cried Newman.
  • 'Yes,' said Nicholas, 'to Golden Square. Nobody who knows me would believ_his story of the ring; but it may suit the purpose, or gratify the hatred o_r Ralph Nickleby to feign to attach credence to it. It is due—not to him, bu_o myself—that I should state the truth; and moreover, I have a word or two t_xchange with him, which will not keep cool.'
  • 'They must,' said Newman.
  • 'They must not, indeed,' rejoined Nicholas firmly, as he prepared to leave th_ouse.
  • 'Hear me speak,' said Newman, planting himself before his impetuous youn_riend. 'He is not there. He is away from town. He will not be back for thre_ays; and I know that letter will not be answered before he returns.'
  • 'Are you sure of this?' asked Nicholas, chafing violently, and pacing th_arrow room with rapid strides.
  • 'Quite,' rejoined Newman. 'He had hardly read it when he was called away. It_ontents are known to nobody but himself and us.'
  • 'Are you certain?' demanded Nicholas, precipitately; 'not even to my mother o_ister? If I thought that they—I will go there—I must see them. Which is th_ay? Where is it?'
  • 'Now, be advised by me,' said Newman, speaking for the moment, in hi_arnestness, like any other man—'make no effort to see even them, till h_omes home. I know the man. Do not seem to have been tampering with anybody.
  • When he returns, go straight to him, and speak as boldly as you like. Guessin_t the real truth, he knows it as well as you or I. Trust him for that.'
  • 'You mean well to me, and should know him better than I can,' replie_icholas, after some consideration. 'Well; let it be so.'
  • Newman, who had stood during the foregoing conversation with his back plante_gainst the door, ready to oppose any egress from the apartment by force, i_ecessary, resumed his seat with much satisfaction; and as the water in th_ettle was by this time boiling, made a glassful of spirits and water fo_icholas, and a cracked mug-full for the joint accommodation of himself an_mike, of which the two partook in great harmony, while Nicholas, leaning hi_ead upon his hand, remained buried in melancholy meditation.
  • Meanwhile, the company below stairs, after listening attentively and no_earing any noise which would justify them in interfering for th_ratification of their curiosity, returned to the chamber of the Kenwigses, and employed themselves in hazarding a great variety of conjectures relativ_o the cause of Mr Noggs' sudden disappearance and detention.
  • 'Lor, I'll tell you what,' said Mrs Kenwigs. 'Suppose it should be an expres_ent up to say that his property has all come back again!'
  • 'Dear me,' said Mr Kenwigs; 'it's not impossible. Perhaps, in that case, we'_etter send up and ask if he won't take a little more punch.'
  • 'Kenwigs!' said Mr Lillyvick, in a loud voice, 'I'm surprised at you.'
  • 'What's the matter, sir?' asked Mr Kenwigs, with becoming submission to th_ollector of water-rates.
  • 'Making such a remark as that, sir,' replied Mr Lillyvick, angrily. 'He ha_ad punch already, has he not, sir? I consider the way in which that punch wa_ut off, if I may use the expression, highly disrespectful to this company; scandalous, perfectly scandalous. It may be the custom to allow such things i_his house, but it's not the kind of behaviour that I've been used to se_isplayed, and so I don't mind telling you, Kenwigs. A gentleman has a glas_f punch before him to which he is just about to set his lips, when anothe_entleman comes and collars that glass of punch, without a "with your leave", or "by your leave", and carries that glass of punch away. This may be goo_anners—I dare say it is—but I don't understand it, that's all; and what'_ore, I don't care if I never do. It's my way to speak my mind, Kenwigs, an_hat is my mind; and if you don't like it, it's past my regular time for goin_o bed, and I can find my way home without making it later.'
  • Here was an untoward event! The collector had sat swelling and fuming i_ffended dignity for some minutes, and had now fairly burst out. The grea_an—the rich relation—the unmarried uncle— who had it in his power to mak_orleena an heiress, and the very baby a legatee—was offended. Graciou_owers, where was this to end!
  • 'I am very sorry, sir,' said Mr Kenwigs, humbly.
  • 'Don't tell me you're sorry,' retorted Mr Lillyvick, with much sharpness. 'Yo_hould have prevented it, then.'
  • The company were quite paralysed by this domestic crash. The back- parlour sa_ith her mouth wide open, staring vacantly at the collector, in a stupor o_ismay; the other guests were scarcely less overpowered by the great man'_rritation. Mr Kenwigs, not being skilful in such matters, only fanned th_lame in attempting to extinguish it.
  • 'I didn't think of it, I am sure, sir,' said that gentleman. 'I didn't suppos_hat such a little thing as a glass of punch would have put you out o_emper.'
  • 'Out of temper! What the devil do you mean by that piece of impertinence, M_enwigs?' said the collector. 'Morleena, child— give me my hat.'
  • 'Oh, you're not going, Mr Lillyvick, sir,' interposed Miss Petowker, with he_ost bewitching smile.
  • But still Mr Lillyvick, regardless of the siren, cried obdurately, 'Morleena, my hat!' upon the fourth repetition of which demand, Mrs Kenwigs sunk back i_er chair, with a cry that might have softened a water-butt, not to say _ater-collector; while the four little girls (privately instructed to tha_ffect) clasped their uncle's drab shorts in their arms, and prayed him, i_mperfect English, to remain.
  • 'Why should I stop here, my dears?' said Mr Lillyvick; 'I'm not wanted here.'
  • 'Oh, do not speak so cruelly, uncle,' sobbed Mrs Kenwigs, 'unless you wish t_ill me.'
  • 'I shouldn't wonder if some people were to say I did,' replied Mr Lillyvick, glancing angrily at Kenwigs. 'Out of temper!'
  • 'Oh! I cannot bear to see him look so, at my husband,' cried Mrs Kenwigs.
  • 'It's so dreadful in families. Oh!'
  • 'Mr Lillyvick,' said Kenwigs, 'I hope, for the sake of your niece, that yo_on't object to be reconciled.'
  • The collector's features relaxed, as the company added their entreaties t_hose of his nephew-in-law. He gave up his hat, and held out his hand.
  • 'There, Kenwigs,' said Mr Lillyvick; 'and let me tell you, at the same time, to show you how much out of temper I was, that if I had gone away withou_nother word, it would have made no difference respecting that pound or tw_hich I shall leave among your children when I die.'
  • 'Morleena Kenwigs,' cried her mother, in a torrent of affection. 'Go down upo_our knees to your dear uncle, and beg him to love you all his life through, for he's more a angel than a man, and I've always said so.'
  • Miss Morleena approaching to do homage, in compliance with this injunction, was summarily caught up and kissed by Mr Lillyvick; and thereupon Mrs Kenwig_arted forward and kissed the collector, and an irrepressible murmur o_pplause broke from the company who had witnessed his magnanimity.
  • The worthy gentleman then became once more the life and soul of the society; being again reinstated in his old post of lion, from which high station th_emporary distraction of their thoughts had for a moment dispossessed him.
  • Quadruped lions are said to be savage, only when they are hungry; biped lion_re rarely sulky longer than when their appetite for distinction remain_nappeased. Mr Lillyvick stood higher than ever; for he had shown his power; hinted at his property and testamentary intentions; gained great credit fo_isinterestedness and virtue; and, in addition to all, was finall_ccommodated with a much larger tumbler of punch than that which Newman Nogg_ad so feloniously made off with.
  • 'I say! I beg everybody's pardon for intruding again,' said Crowl, looking i_t this happy juncture; 'but what a queer business this is, isn't it? Nogg_as lived in this house, now going on for five years, and nobody has ever bee_o see him before, within the memory of the oldest inhabitant.'
  • 'It's a strange time of night to be called away, sir, certainly,' said th_ollector; 'and the behaviour of Mr Noggs himself, is, to say the least of it, mysterious.'
  • 'Well, so it is,' rejoined Growl; 'and I'll tell you what's more—I think thes_wo geniuses, whoever they are, have run away from somewhere.'
  • 'What makes you think that, sir?' demanded the collector, who seemed, by _acit understanding, to have been chosen and elected mouthpiece to th_ompany. 'You have no reason to suppose that they have run away from anywher_ithout paying the rates and taxes due, I hope?'
  • Mr Crowl, with a look of some contempt, was about to enter a general protes_gainst the payment of rates or taxes, under any circumstances, when he wa_hecked by a timely whisper from Kenwigs, and several frowns and winks fro_rs K., which providentially stopped him.
  • 'Why the fact is,' said Crowl, who had been listening at Newman's door wit_ll his might and main; 'the fact is, that they have been talking so loud, that they quite disturbed me in my room, and so I couldn't help catching _ord here, and a word there; and all I heard, certainly seemed to refer t_heir having bolted from some place or other. I don't wish to alarm Mr_enwigs; but I hope they haven't come from any jail or hospital, and brough_way a fever or some unpleasantness of that sort, which might be catching fo_he children.'
  • Mrs Kenwigs was so overpowered by this supposition, that it needed all th_ender attentions of Miss Petowker, of the Theatre Royal, Drury Lane, t_estore her to anything like a state of calmness; not to mention the assiduit_f Mr Kenwigs, who held a fat smelling- bottle to his lady's nose, until i_ecame matter of some doubt whether the tears which coursed down her face wer_he result of feelings or SAL VOLATILE.
  • The ladies, having expressed their sympathy, singly and separately, fell, according to custom, into a little chorus of soothing expressions, amon_hich, such condolences as 'Poor dear!'—'I should feel just the same, if I wa_er'—'To be sure, it's a very trying thing'—and 'Nobody but a mother know_hat a mother's feelings is,' were among the most prominent, and mos_requently repeated. In short, the opinion of the company was so clearl_anifested, that Mr Kenwigs was on the point of repairing to Mr Noggs's room, to demand an explanation, and had indeed swallowed a preparatory glass o_unch, with great inflexibility and steadiness of purpose, when the attentio_f all present was diverted by a new and terrible surprise.
  • This was nothing less than the sudden pouring forth of a rapid succession o_he shrillest and most piercing screams, from an upper story; and to al_ppearance from the very two-pair back, in which the infant Kenwigs was a_hat moment enshrined. They were no sooner audible, than Mrs Kenwigs, opinin_hat a strange cat had come in, and sucked the baby's breath while the gir_as asleep, made for the door, wringing her hands, and shrieking dismally; t_he great consternation and confusion of the company.
  • 'Mr Kenwigs, see what it is; make haste!' cried the sister, laying violen_ands upon Mrs Kenwigs, and holding her back by force. 'Oh don't twist abou_o, dear, or I can never hold you.'
  • 'My baby, my blessed, blessed, blessed, blessed baby!' screamed Mrs Kenwigs, making every blessed louder than the last. 'My own darling, sweet, innocen_illyvick—Oh let me go to him. Let me go- o-o-o!'
  • Pending the utterance of these frantic cries, and the wails and lamentation_f the four little girls, Mr Kenwigs rushed upstairs to the room whence th_ounds proceeded; at the door of which, he encountered Nicholas, with th_hild in his arms, who darted out with such violence, that the anxious fathe_as thrown down six stairs, and alighted on the nearest landing-place, befor_e had found time to open his mouth to ask what was the matter.
  • 'Don't be alarmed,' cried Nicholas, running down; 'here it is; it's all out, it's all over; pray compose yourselves; there's no harm done;' and with these, and a thousand other assurances, he delivered the baby (whom, in his hurry, h_ad carried upside down), to Mrs Kenwigs, and ran back to assist Mr Kenwigs, who was rubbing his head very hard, and looking much bewildered by his tumble.
  • Reassured by this cheering intelligence, the company in some degree recovere_rom their fears, which had been productive of some most singular instances o_ total want of presence of mind; thus, the bachelor friend had, for a lon_ime, supported in his arms Mrs Kenwigs's sister, instead of Mrs Kenwigs; an_he worthy Mr Lillyvick had been actually seen, in the perturbation of hi_pirits, to kiss Miss Petowker several times, behind the room-door, as calml_s if nothing distressing were going forward.
  • 'It is a mere nothing,' said Nicholas, returning to Mrs Kenwigs; 'the littl_irl, who was watching the child, being tired I suppose, fell asleep, and se_er hair on fire.'
  • 'Oh you malicious little wretch!' cried Mrs Kenwigs, impressively shaking he_orefinger at the small unfortunate, who might be thirteen years old, and wa_ooking on with a singed head and a frightened face.
  • 'I heard her cries,' continued Nicholas, 'and ran down, in time to prevent he_etting fire to anything else. You may depend upon it that the child is no_urt; for I took it off the bed myself, and brought it here to convince you.'
  • This brief explanation over, the infant, who, as he was christened after th_ollector! rejoiced in the names of Lillyvick Kenwigs, was partiall_uffocated under the caresses of the audience, and squeezed to his mother'_osom, until he roared again. The attention of the company was then directed, by a natural transition, to the little girl who had had the audacity to bur_er hair off, and who, after receiving sundry small slaps and pushes from th_ore energetic of the ladies, was mercifully sent home: the ninepence, wit_hich she was to have been rewarded, being escheated to the Kenwigs family.
  • 'And whatever we are to say to you, sir,' exclaimed Mrs Kenwigs, addressin_oung Lillyvick's deliverer, 'I am sure I don't know.'
  • 'You need say nothing at all,' replied Nicholas. 'I have done nothing to foun_ny very strong claim upon your eloquence, I am sure.'
  • 'He might have been burnt to death, if it hadn't been for you, sir,' simpere_iss Petowker.
  • 'Not very likely, I think,' replied Nicholas; 'for there was abundance o_ssistance here, which must have reached him before he had been in an_anger.'
  • 'You will let us drink your health, anyvays, sir!' said Mr Kenwigs motionin_owards the table.
  • '—In my absence, by all means,' rejoined Nicholas, with a smile. 'I have had _ery fatiguing journey, and should be most indifferent company—a far greate_heck upon your merriment, than a promoter of it, even if I kept awake, whic_ think very doubtful. If you will allow me, I'll return to my friend, M_oggs, who went upstairs again, when he found nothing serious had occurred.
  • Good-night.'
  • Excusing himself, in these terms, from joining in the festivities, Nichola_ook a most winning farewell of Mrs Kenwigs and the other ladies, and retired, after making a very extraordinary impression upon the company.
  • 'What a delightful young man!' cried Mrs Kenwigs.
  • 'Uncommon gentlemanly, really,' said Mr Kenwigs. 'Don't you think so, M_illyvick?'
  • 'Yes,' said the collector, with a dubious shrug of his shoulders, 'He i_entlemanly, very gentlemanly—in appearance.'
  • 'I hope you don't see anything against him, uncle?' inquired Mrs Kenwigs.
  • 'No, my dear,' replied the collector, 'no. I trust he may not turn out—well—n_atter—my love to you, my dear, and long life to the baby!'
  • 'Your namesake,' said Mrs Kenwigs, with a sweet smile.
  • 'And I hope a worthy namesake,' observed Mr Kenwigs, willing to propitiate th_ollector. 'I hope a baby as will never disgrace his godfather, and as may b_onsidered, in arter years, of a piece with the Lillyvicks whose name h_ears. I do say—and Mrs Kenwigs is of the same sentiment, and feels it a_trong as I do—that I consider his being called Lillyvick one of the greates_lessings and Honours of my existence.'
  • 'THE greatest blessing, Kenwigs,' murmured his lady.
  • 'THE greatest blessing,' said Mr Kenwigs, correcting himself. 'A blessing tha_ hope, one of these days, I may be able to deserve.'
  • This was a politic stroke of the Kenwigses, because it made Mr Lillyvick th_reat head and fountain of the baby's importance. The good gentleman felt th_elicacy and dexterity of the touch, and at once proposed the health of th_entleman, name unknown, who had signalised himself, that night, by hi_oolness and alacrity.
  • 'Who, I don't mind saying,' observed Mr Lillyvick, as a great concession, 'i_ good-looking young man enough, with manners that I hope his character may b_qual to.'
  • 'He has a very nice face and style, really,' said Mrs Kenwigs.
  • 'He certainly has,' added Miss Petowker. 'There's something in his appearanc_uite—dear, dear, what's that word again?'
  • 'What word?' inquired Mr Lillyvick.
  • 'Why—dear me, how stupid I am,' replied Miss Petowker, hesitating. 'What d_ou call it, when Lords break off door-knockers and beat policemen, and pla_t coaches with other people's money, and all that sort of thing?'
  • 'Aristocratic?' suggested the collector.
  • 'Ah! aristocratic,' replied Miss Petowker; 'something very aristocratic abou_im, isn't there?'
  • The gentleman held their peace, and smiled at each other, as who should say,
  • 'Well! there's no accounting for tastes;' but the ladies resolved unanimousl_hat Nicholas had an aristocratic air; and nobody caring to dispute th_osition, it was established triumphantly.
  • The punch being, by this time, drunk out, and the little Kenwigses (who ha_or some time previously held their little eyes open with their littl_orefingers) becoming fractious, and requesting rather urgently to be put t_ed, the collector made a move by pulling out his watch, and acquainting th_ompany that it was nigh two o'clock; whereat some of the guests wer_urprised and others shocked, and hats and bonnets being groped for under th_ables, and in course of time found, their owners went away, after a vast dea_f shaking of hands, and many remarks how they had never spent such _elightful evening, and how they marvelled to find it so late, expecting t_ave heard that it was half-past ten at the very latest, and how they wishe_hat Mr and Mrs Kenwigs had a wedding-day once a week, and how they wondere_y what hidden agency Mrs Kenwigs could possibly have managed so well; and _reat deal more of the same kind. To all of which flattering expressions, M_nd Mrs Kenwigs replied, by thanking every lady and gentleman, SERIATIM, fo_he favour of their company, and hoping they might have enjoyed themselve_nly half as well as they said they had.
  • As to Nicholas, quite unconscious of the impression he had produced, he ha_ong since fallen asleep, leaving Mr Newman Noggs and Smike to empty th_pirit bottle between them; and this office they performed with such extrem_ood-will, that Newman was equally at a loss to determine whether he himsel_as quite sober, and whether he had ever seen any gentleman so heavily, drowsily, and completely intoxicated as his new acquaintance.