Chapter 43 Officiates as a kind of Gentleman Usher, in bringing variou_eople together
The storm had long given place to a calm the most profound, and the evenin_as pretty far advanced—indeed supper was over, and the process of digestio_roceeding as favourably as, under the influence of complete tranquillity, cheerful conversation, and a moderate allowance of brandy-and-water, most wis_en conversant with the anatomy and functions of the human frame will conside_hat it ought to have proceeded, when the three friends, or as one might say, both in a civil and religious sense, and with proper deference and regard t_he holy state of matrimony, the two friends, (Mr and Mrs Browdie counting a_o more than one,) were startled by the noise of loud and angry threatening_elow stairs, which presently attained so high a pitch, and were conveye_esides in language so towering, sanguinary, and ferocious, that it coul_ardly have been surpassed, if there had actually been a Saracen's head the_resent in the establishment, supported on the shoulders and surmounting th_runk of a real, live, furious, and most unappeasable Saracen.
This turmoil, instead of quickly subsiding after the first outburst, (a_urmoils not unfrequently do, whether in taverns, legislative assemblies, o_lsewhere,) into a mere grumbling and growling squabble, increased ever_oment; and although the whole din appeared to be raised by but one pair o_ungs, yet that one pair was of so powerful a quality, and repeated such word_s 'scoundrel,' 'rascal,' 'insolent puppy,' and a variety of expletives n_ess flattering to the party addressed, with such great relish and strength o_one, that a dozen voices raised in concert under any ordinary circumstance_ould have made far less uproar and created much smaller consternation.
'Why, what's the matter?' said Nicholas, moving hastily towards the door.
John Browdie was striding in the same direction when Mrs Browdie turned pale, and, leaning back in her chair, requested him with a faint voice to tak_otice, that if he ran into any danger it was her intention to fall int_ysterics immediately, and that the consequences might be more serious than h_hought for. John looked rather disconcerted by this intelligence, thoug_here was a lurking grin on his face at the same time; but, being quite unabl_o keep out of the fray, he compromised the matter by tucking his wife's ar_nder his own, and, thus accompanied, following Nicholas downstairs with al_peed.
The passage outside the coffee-room door was the scene of disturbance, an_ere were congregated the coffee-room customers and waiters, together with tw_r three coachmen and helpers from the yard. These had hastily assembled roun_ young man who from his appearance might have been a year or two older tha_icholas, and who, besides having given utterance to the defiances just no_escribed, seemed to have proceeded to even greater lengths in hi_ndignation, inasmuch as his feet had no other covering than a pair o_tockings, while a couple of slippers lay at no great distance from the hea_f a prostrate figure in an opposite corner, who bore the appearance of havin_een shot into his present retreat by means of a kick, and complimented b_aving the slippers flung about his ears afterwards.
The coffee-room customers, and the waiters, and the coachmen, and th_elpers—not to mention a barmaid who was looking on from behind an open sas_indow—seemed at that moment, if a spectator might judge from their winks, nods, and muttered exclamations, strongly disposed to take part against th_oung gentleman in the stockings. Observing this, and that the young gentlema_as nearly of his own age and had in nothing the appearance of an habitua_rawler, Nicholas, impelled by such feelings as will influence young me_ometimes, felt a very strong disposition to side with the weaker party, an_o thrust himself at once into the centre of the group, and in a more emphati_one, perhaps, than circumstances might seem to warrant, demanded what al_hat noise was about.
'Hallo!' said one of the men from the yard, 'this is somebody in disguise, this is.'
'Room for the eldest son of the Emperor of Roosher, gen'l'men!' cried anothe_ellow.
Disregarding these sallies, which were uncommonly well received, as sallies a_he expense of the best-dressed persons in a crowd usually are, Nichola_lanced carelessly round, and addressing the young gentleman, who had by thi_ime picked up his slippers and thrust his feet into them, repeated hi_nquiries with a courteous air.
'A mere nothing!' he replied.
At this a murmur was raised by the lookers-on, and some of the boldest cried,
'Oh, indeed!—Wasn't it though?—Nothing, eh?—He called that nothing, did he?
Lucky for him if he found it nothing.' These and many other expressions o_ronical disapprobation having been exhausted, two or three of the out-of-doo_ellows began to hustle Nicholas and the young gentleman who had made th_oise: stumbling against them by accident, and treading on their toes, and s_orth. But this being a round game, and one not necessarily limited to thre_r four players, was open to John Browdie too, who, bursting into the littl_rowd—to the great terror of his wife—and falling about in all directions, no_o the right, now to the left, now forwards, now backwards, and accidentall_riving his elbow through the hat of the tallest helper, who had bee_articularly active, speedily caused the odds to wear a very differen_ppearance; while more than one stout fellow limped away to a respectfu_istance, anathematising with tears in his eyes the heavy tread and ponderou_eet of the burly Yorkshireman.
'Let me see him do it again,' said he who had been kicked into the corner, rising as he spoke, apparently more from the fear of John Browdie'_nadvertently treading upon him, than from any desire to place himself o_qual terms with his late adversary. 'Let me see him do it again. That's all.'
'Let me hear you make those remarks again,' said the young man, 'and I'l_nock that head of yours in among the wine-glasses behind you there.'
Here a waiter who had been rubbing his hands in excessive enjoyment of th_cene, so long as only the breaking of heads was in question, adjured th_pectators with great earnestness to fetch the police, declaring tha_therwise murder would be surely done, and that he was responsible for all th_lass and china on the premises.
'No one need trouble himself to stir,' said the young gentleman, 'I am goin_o remain in the house all night, and shall be found here in the morning i_here is any assault to answer for.'
'What did you strike him for?' asked one of the bystanders.
'Ah! what did you strike him for?' demanded the others.
The unpopular gentleman looked coolly round, and addressing himself t_icholas, said:
'You inquired just now what was the matter here. The matter is simply this.
Yonder person, who was drinking with a friend in the coffee-room when I too_y seat there for half an hour before going to bed, (for I have just come of_ journey, and preferred stopping here tonight, to going home at this hour, where I was not expected until tomorrow,) chose to express himself in ver_isrespectful, and insolently familiar terms, of a young lady, whom _ecognised from his description and other circumstances, and whom I have th_onour to know. As he spoke loud enough to be overheard by the other guest_ho were present, I informed him most civilly that he was mistaken in hi_onjectures, which were of an offensive nature, and requested him to forbear.
He did so for a little time, but as he chose to renew his conversation whe_eaving the room, in a more offensive strain than before, I could not refrai_rom making after him, and facilitating his departure by a kick, which reduce_im to the posture in which you saw him just now. I am the best judge of m_wn affairs, I take it,' said the young man, who had certainly not quit_ecovered from his recent heat; 'if anybody here thinks proper to make thi_uarrel his own, I have not the smallest earthly objection, I do assure him.'
Of all possible courses of proceeding under the circumstances detailed, ther_as certainly not one which, in his then state of mind, could have appeare_ore laudable to Nicholas than this. There were not many subjects of disput_hich at that moment could have come home to his own breast more powerfully, for having the unknown uppermost in his thoughts, it naturally occurred to hi_hat he would have done just the same if any audacious gossiper durst hav_resumed in his hearing to speak lightly of her. Influenced by thes_onsiderations, he espoused the young gentleman's quarrel with great warmth, protesting that he had done quite right, and that he respected him for it; which John Browdie (albeit not quite clear as to the merits) immediatel_rotested too, with not inferior vehemence.
'Let him take care, that's all,' said the defeated party, who was being rubbe_own by a waiter, after his recent fall on the dusty boards. 'He don't knoc_e about for nothing, I can tell him that. A pretty state of things, if a ma_sn't to admire a handsome girl without being beat to pieces for it!'
This reflection appeared to have great weight with the young lady in the bar, who (adjusting her cap as she spoke, and glancing at a mirror) declared tha_t would be a very pretty state of things indeed; and that if people were t_e punished for actions so innocent and natural as that, there would be mor_eople to be knocked down than there would be people to knock them down, an_hat she wondered what the gentleman meant by it, that she did.
'My dear girl,' said the young gentleman in a low voice, advancing towards th_ash window.
'Nonsense, sir!' replied the young lady sharply, smiling though as she turne_side, and biting her lip, (whereat Mrs Browdie, who was still standing on th_tairs, glanced at her with disdain, and called to her husband to come away).
'No, but listen to me,' said the young man. 'If admiration of a pretty fac_ere criminal, I should be the most hopeless person alive, for I cannot resis_ne. It has the most extraordinary effect upon me, checks and controls me i_he most furious and obstinate mood. You see what an effect yours has had upo_e already.'
'Oh, that's very pretty,' replied the young lady, tossing her head, 'but—'
'Yes, I know it's very pretty,' said the young man, looking with an air o_dmiration in the barmaid's face; 'I said so, you know, just this moment. Bu_eauty should be spoken of respectfully— respectfully, and in proper terms, and with a becoming sense of its worth and excellence, whereas this fellow ha_o more notion—'
The young lady interrupted the conversation at this point, by thrusting he_ead out of the bar-window, and inquiring of the waiter in a shrill voic_hether that young man who had been knocked down was going to stand in th_assage all night, or whether the entrance was to be left clear for othe_eople. The waiters taking the hint, and communicating it to the hostlers, were not slow to change their tone too, and the result was, that th_nfortunate victim was bundled out in a twinkling.
'I am sure I have seen that fellow before,' said Nicholas.
'Indeed!' replied his new acquaintance.
'I am certain of it,' said Nicholas, pausing to reflect. 'Where can _ave—stop!—yes, to be sure—he belongs to a register-office up at the west en_f the town. I knew I recollected the face.'
It was, indeed, Tom, the ugly clerk.
'That's odd enough!' said Nicholas, ruminating upon the strange manner i_hich the register-office seemed to start up and stare him in the face ever_ow and then, and when he least expected it.
'I am much obliged to you for your kind advocacy of my cause when it mos_eeded an advocate,' said the young man, laughing, and drawing a card from hi_ocket. 'Perhaps you'll do me the favour to let me know where I can than_ou.'
Nicholas took the card, and glancing at it involuntarily as he returned th_ompliment, evinced very great surprise.
'Mr Frank Cheeryble!' said Nicholas. 'Surely not the nephew of Cheerybl_rothers, who is expected tomorrow!'
'I don't usually call myself the nephew of the firm,' returned Mr Frank, good- humouredly; 'but of the two excellent individuals who compose it, I am prou_o say I AM the nephew. And you, I see, are Mr Nickleby, of whom I have hear_o much! This is a most unexpected meeting, but not the less welcome, I assur_ou.'
Nicholas responded to these compliments with others of the same kind, and the_hook hands warmly. Then he introduced John Browdie, who had remained in _tate of great admiration ever since the young lady in the bar had been s_kilfully won over to the right side. Then Mrs John Browdie was introduced, and finally they all went upstairs together and spent the next half-hour wit_reat satisfaction and mutual entertainment; Mrs John Browdie beginning th_onversation by declaring that of all the made-up things she ever saw, tha_oung woman below-stairs was the vainest and the plainest.
This Mr Frank Cheeryble, although, to judge from what had recently take_lace, a hot-headed young man (which is not an absolute miracle and phenomeno_n nature), was a sprightly, good-humoured, pleasant fellow, with much both i_is countenance and disposition that reminded Nicholas very strongly of th_ind-hearted brothers. His manner was as unaffected as theirs, and hi_emeanour full of that heartiness which, to most people who have anythin_enerous in their composition, is peculiarly prepossessing. Add to this, tha_e was good-looking and intelligent, had a plentiful share of vivacity, wa_xtremely cheerful, and accommodated himself in five minutes' time to all Joh_rowdie's oddities with as much ease as if he had known him from a boy; and i_ill be a source of no great wonder that, when they parted for the night, h_ad produced a most favourable impression, not only upon the worth_orkshireman and his wife, but upon Nicholas also, who, revolving all thes_hings in his mind as he made the best of his way home, arrived at th_onclusion that he had laid the foundation of a most agreeable and desirabl_cquaintance.
'But it's a most extraordinary thing about that register-office fellow!'
thought Nicholas. 'Is it likely that this nephew can know anything about tha_eautiful girl? When Tim Linkinwater gave me to understand the other day tha_e was coming to take a share in the business here, he said he had bee_uperintending it in Germany for four years, and that during the last si_onths he had been engaged in establishing an agency in the north of England.
That's four years and a half—four years and a half. She can't be more tha_eventeen—say eighteen at the outside. She was quite a child when he wen_way, then. I should say he knew nothing about her and had never seen her, s_E can give me no information. At all events,' thought Nicholas, coming to th_eal point in his mind, 'there can be no danger of any prior occupation of he_ffections in that quarter; that's quite clear.'
Is selfishness a necessary ingredient in the composition of that passio_alled love, or does it deserve all the fine things which poets, in th_xercise of their undoubted vocation, have said of it? There are, no doubt, authenticated instances of gentlemen having given up ladies and ladies havin_iven up gentlemen to meritorious rivals, under circumstances of great high- mindedness; but is it quite established that the majority of such ladies an_entlemen have not made a virtue of necessity, and nobly resigned what wa_eyond their reach; as a private soldier might register a vow never to accep_he order of the Garter, or a poor curate of great piety and learning, but o_o family—save a very large family of children—might renounce a bishopric?
Here was Nicholas Nickleby, who would have scorned the thought of counting ho_he chances stood of his rising in favour or fortune with the brother_heeryble, now that their nephew had returned, already deep in calculation_hether that same nephew was likely to rival him in the affections of the fai_nknown—discussing the matter with himself too, as gravely as if, with tha_ne exception, it were all settled; and recurring to the subject again an_gain, and feeling quite indignant and ill-used at the notion of anybody els_aking love to one with whom he had never exchanged a word in all his life. T_e sure, he exaggerated rather than depreciated the merits of his ne_cquaintance; but still he took it as a kind of personal offence that h_hould have any merits at all—in the eyes of this particular young lady, tha_s; for elsewhere he was quite welcome to have as many as he pleased. Ther_as undoubted selfishness in all this, and yet Nicholas was of a most free an_enerous nature, with as few mean or sordid thoughts, perhaps, as ever fell t_he lot of any man; and there is no reason to suppose that, being in love, h_elt and thought differently from other people in the like sublime condition.
He did not stop to set on foot an inquiry into his train of thought or stat_f feeling, however; but went thinking on all the way home, and continued t_ream on in the same strain all night. For, having satisfied himself tha_rank Cheeryble could have no knowledge of, or acquaintance with, th_ysterious young lady, it began to occur to him that even he himself migh_ever see her again; upon which hypothesis he built up a very ingeniou_uccession of tormenting ideas which answered his purpose even better than th_ision of Mr Frank Cheeryble, and tantalised and worried him, waking an_leeping.
Notwithstanding all that has been said and sung to the contrary, there is n_ell-established case of morning having either deferred or hastened it_pproach by the term of an hour or so for the mere gratification of _plenetic feeling against some unoffending lover: the sun having, in th_ischarge of his public duty, as the books of precedent report, invariabl_isen according to the almanacs, and without suffering himself to be swayed b_ny private considerations. So, morning came as usual, and with it business- hours, and with them Mr Frank Cheeryble, and with him a long train of smile_nd welcomes from the worthy brothers, and a more grave and clerk-like, bu_carcely less hearty reception from Mr Timothy Linkinwater.
'That Mr Frank and Mr Nickleby should have met last night,' said Ti_inkinwater, getting slowly off his stool, and looking round the counting- house with his back planted against the desk, as was his custom when he ha_nything very particular to say: 'that those two young men should have me_ast night in that manner is, I say, a coincidence, a remarkable coincidence.
Why, I don't believe now,' added Tim, taking off his spectacles, and smilin_s with gentle pride, 'that there's such a place in all the world fo_oincidences as London is!'
'I don't know about that,' said Mr Frank; 'but—'
'Don't know about it, Mr Francis!' interrupted Tim, with an obstinate air.
'Well, but let us know. If there is any better place for such things, where i_t? Is it in Europe? No, that it isn't. Is it in Asia? Why, of course it'_ot. Is it in Africa? Not a bit of it. Is it in America? YOU know better tha_hat, at all events. Well, then,' said Tim, folding his arms resolutely,
'where is it?'
'I was not about to dispute the point, Tim,' said young Cheeryble, laughing.
'I am not such a heretic as that. All I was going to say was, that I hol_yself under an obligation to the coincidence, that's all.'
'Oh! if you don't dispute it,' said Tim, quite satisfied, 'that's anothe_hing. I'll tell you what though. I wish you had. I wish you or anybody would.
I would so put that man down,' said Tim, tapping the forefinger of his lef_and emphatically with his spectacles, 'so put that man down by argument—'
It was quite impossible to find language to express the degree of menta_rostration to which such an adventurous wight would be reduced in the kee_ncounter with Tim Linkinwater, so Tim gave up the rest of his declaration i_ure lack of words, and mounted his stool again.
'We may consider ourselves, brother Ned,' said Charles, after he had patte_im Linkinwater approvingly on the back, 'very fortunate in having two suc_oung men about us as our nephew Frank and Mr Nickleby. It should be a sourc_f great satisfaction and pleasure to us.'
'Certainly, Charles, certainly,' returned the other.
'Of Tim,' added brother Ned, 'I say nothing whatever, because Tim is a mer_hild—an infant—a nobody that we never think of or take into account at all.
Tim, you villain, what do you say to that, sir?'
'I am jealous of both of 'em,' said Tim, 'and mean to look out for anothe_ituation; so provide yourselves, gentlemen, if you please.'
Tim thought this such an exquisite, unparalleled, and most extraordinary joke, that he laid his pen upon the inkstand, and rather tumbling off his stool tha_etting down with his usual deliberation, laughed till he was quite faint, shaking his head all the time so that little particles of powder flew palpabl_bout the office. Nor were the brothers at all behind-hand, for they laughe_lmost as heartily at the ludicrous idea of any voluntary separation betwee_hemselves and old Tim. Nicholas and Mr Frank laughed quite boisterously, perhaps to conceal some other emotion awakened by this little incident, (an_o, indeed, did the three old fellows after the first burst,) so perhaps ther_as as much keen enjoyment and relish in that laugh, altogether, as th_olitest assembly ever derived from the most poignant witticism uttered at an_ne person's expense.
'Mr Nickleby,' said brother Charles, calling him aside, and taking him kindl_y the hand, 'I—I—am anxious, my dear sir, to see that you are properly an_omfortably settled in the cottage. We cannot allow those who serve us well t_abour under any privation or discomfort that it is in our power to remove. _ish, too, to see your mother and sister: to know them, Mr Nickleby, and hav_n opportunity of relieving their minds by assuring them that any triflin_ervice we have been able to do them is a great deal more than repaid by th_eal and ardour you display.—Not a word, my dear sir, I beg. Tomorrow i_unday. I shall make bold to come out at teatime, and take the chance o_inding you at home; if you are not, you know, or the ladies should feel _elicacy in being intruded on, and would rather not be known to me just now, why I can come again another time, any other time would do for me. Let i_emain upon that understanding. Brother Ned, my dear fellow, let me have _ord with you this way.'
The twins went out of the office arm-in-arm, and Nicholas, who saw in this ac_f kindness, and many others of which he had been the subject that morning, only so many delicate renewals on the arrival of their nephew of the kin_ssurance which the brothers had given him in his absence, could scarcely fee_ufficient admiration and gratitude for such extraordinary consideration.
The intelligence that they were to have visitor—and such a visitor— next day, awakened in the breast of Mrs Nickleby mingled feelings of exultation an_egret; for whereas on the one hand she hailed it as an omen of her speed_estoration to good society and the almost- forgotten pleasures of mornin_alls and evening tea-drinkings, she could not, on the other, but reflect wit_itterness of spirit on the absence of a silver teapot with an ivory knob o_he lid, and a milk-jug to match, which had been the pride of her heart i_ays of yore, and had been kept from year's end to year's end wrapped up i_ash-leather on a certain top shelf which now presented itself in livel_olours to her sorrowing imagination.
'I wonder who's got that spice-box,' said Mrs Nickleby, shaking her head. 'I_sed to stand in the left-hand corner, next but two to the pickled onions. Yo_emember that spice-box, Kate?'
'Perfectly well, mama.'
'I shouldn't think you did, Kate,' returned Mrs Nickleby, in a severe manner,
'talking about it in that cold and unfeeling way! If there is any one thin_hat vexes me in these losses more than the losses themselves, I do protes_nd declare,' said Mrs Nickleby, rubbing her nose with an impassioned air,
'that it is to have people about me who take things with such provokin_almness.'
'My dear mama,' said Kate, stealing her arm round her mother's neck, 'why d_ou say what I know you cannot seriously mean or think, or why be angry wit_e for being happy and content? You and Nicholas are left to me, we ar_ogether once again, and what regard can I have for a few trifling things o_hich we never feel the want? When I have seen all the misery and desolatio_hat death can bring, and known the lonesome feeling of being solitary an_lone in crowds, and all the agony of separation in grief and poverty when w_ost needed comfort and support from each other, can you wonder that I loo_pon this as a place of such delicious quiet and rest, that with you beside m_ have nothing to wish for or regret? There was a time, and not long since, when all the comforts of our old home did come back upon me, I own, ver_ften—oftener than you would think perhaps—but I affected to care nothing fo_hem, in the hope that you would so be brought to regret them the less. I wa_ot insensible, indeed. I might have felt happier if I had been. Dear mama,'
said Kate, in great agitation, 'I know no difference between this home an_hat in which we were all so happy for so many years, except that the kindes_nd gentlest heart that ever ached on earth has passed in peace to heaven.'
'Kate my dear, Kate,' cried Mrs Nickleby, folding her in her arms.
'I have so often thought,' sobbed Kate, 'of all his kind words—of the las_ime he looked into my little room, as he passed upstairs to bed, and said
"God bless you, darling." There was a paleness in his face, mama—the broke_eart—I know it was—I little thought so—then—'
A gush of tears came to her relief, and Kate laid her head upon her mother'_reast, and wept like a little child.
It is an exquisite and beautiful thing in our nature, that when the heart i_ouched and softened by some tranquil happiness or affectionate feeling, th_emory of the dead comes over it most powerfully and irresistibly. It woul_lmost seem as though our better thoughts and sympathies were charms, i_irtue of which the soul is enabled to hold some vague and mysteriou_ntercourse with the spirits of those whom we dearly loved in life. Alas! ho_ften and how long may those patient angels hover above us, watching for th_pell which is so seldom uttered, and so soon forgotten!
Poor Mrs Nickleby, accustomed to give ready utterance to whatever cam_ppermost in her mind, had never conceived the possibility of her daughter'_welling upon these thoughts in secret, the more especially as no hard tria_r querulous reproach had ever drawn them from her. But now, when th_appiness of all that Nicholas had just told them, and of their new an_eaceful life, brought these recollections so strongly upon Kate that sh_ould not suppress them, Mrs Nickleby began to have a glimmering that she ha_een rather thoughtless now and then, and was conscious of something lik_elf-reproach as she embraced her daughter, and yielded to the emotions whic_uch a conversation naturally awakened.
There was a mighty bustle that night, and a vast quantity of preparation fo_he expected visitor, and a very large nosegay was brought from a gardener'_ard by, and cut up into a number of very small ones, with which Mrs Nickleb_ould have garnished the little sitting-room, in a style that certainly coul_ot have failed to attract anybody's attention, if Kate had not offered t_pare her the trouble, and arranged them in the prettiest and neatest manne_ossible. If the cottage ever looked pretty, it must have been on such _right and sunshiny day as the next day was. But Smike's pride in the garden, or Mrs Nickleby's in the condition of the furniture, or Kate's in everything, was nothing to the pride with which Nicholas looked at Kate herself; an_urely the costliest mansion in all England might have found in her beautifu_ace and graceful form its most exquisite and peerless ornament.
About six o'clock in the afternoon Mrs Nickleby was thrown into a grea_lutter of spirits by the long-expected knock at the door, nor was thi_lutter at all composed by the audible tread of two pair of boots in th_assage, which Mrs Nickleby augured, in a breathless state, must be 'the tw_r Cheerybles;' as it certainly was, though not the two Mrs Nickleby expected, because it was Mr Charles Cheeryble, and his nephew, Mr Frank, who made _housand apologies for his intrusion, which Mrs Nickleby (having tea-spoon_nough and to spare for all) most graciously received. Nor did the appearanc_f this unexpected visitor occasion the least embarrassment, (save in Kate, and that only to the extent of a blush or two at first,) for the old gentlema_as so kind and cordial, and the young gentleman imitated him in this respec_o well, that the usual stiffness and formality of a first meeting showed n_igns of appearing, and Kate really more than once detected herself in th_ery act of wondering when it was going to begin.
At the tea-table there was plenty of conversation on a great variety o_ubjects, nor were there wanting jocose matters of discussion, such as the_ere; for young Mr Cheeryble's recent stay in Germany happening to be allude_o, old Mr Cheeryble informed the company that the aforesaid young M_heeryble was suspected to have fallen deeply in love with the daughter of _ertain German burgomaster. This accusation young Mr Cheeryble mos_ndignantly repelled, upon which Mrs Nickleby slyly remarked, that sh_uspected, from the very warmth of the denial, there must be something in it.
Young Mr Cheeryble then earnestly entreated old Mr Cheeryble to confess tha_t was all a jest, which old Mr Cheeryble at last did, young Mr Cheerybl_eing so much in earnest about it, that—as Mrs Nickleby said many thousan_imes afterwards in recalling the scene—he 'quite coloured,' which she rightl_onsidered a memorable circumstance, and one worthy of remark, young men no_eing as a class remarkable for modesty or self-denial, especially when ther_s a lady in the case, when, if they colour at all, it is rather thei_ractice to colour the story, and not themselves.
After tea there was a walk in the garden, and the evening being very fine the_trolled out at the garden-gate into some lanes and bye- roads, and sauntere_p and down until it grew quite dark. The time seemed to pass very quickl_ith all the party. Kate went first, leaning upon her brother's arm, an_alking with him and Mr Frank Cheeryble; and Mrs Nickleby and the elde_entleman followed at a short distance, the kindness of the good merchant, hi_nterest in the welfare of Nicholas, and his admiration of Kate, so operatin_pon the good lady's feelings, that the usual current of her speech wa_onfined within very narrow and circumscribed limits. Smike (who, if he ha_ver been an object of interest in his life, had been one that day) accompanied them, joining sometimes one group and sometimes the other, a_rother Charles, laying his hand upon his shoulder, bade him walk with him, o_icholas, looking smilingly round, beckoned him to come and talk with the ol_riend who understood him best, and who could win a smile into his carewor_ace when none else could.
Pride is one of the seven deadly sins; but it cannot be the pride of a mothe_n her children, for that is a compound of two cardinal virtues—faith an_ope. This was the pride which swelled Mrs Nickleby's heart that night, an_his it was which left upon her face, glistening in the light when the_eturned home, traces of the most grateful tears she had ever shed.
There was a quiet mirth about the little supper, which harmonised exactly wit_his tone of feeling, and at length the two gentlemen took their leave. Ther_as one circumstance in the leave-taking which occasioned a vast deal o_miling and pleasantry, and that was, that Mr Frank Cheeryble offered his han_o Kate twice over, quite forgetting that he had bade her adieu already. Thi_as held by the elder Mr Cheeryble to be a convincing proof that he wa_hinking of his German flame, and the jest occasioned immense laughter. S_asy is it to move light hearts.
In short, it was a day of serene and tranquil happiness; and as we all hav_ome bright day—many of us, let us hope, among a crowd of others—to which w_evert with particular delight, so this one was often looked back t_fterwards, as holding a conspicuous place in the calendar of those who share_t.
Was there one exception, and that one he who needed to have been most happy?
Who was that who, in the silence of his own chamber, sunk upon his knees t_ray as his first friend had taught him, and folding his hands and stretchin_hem wildly in the air, fell upon his face in a passion of bitter grief?