attention, had made no friends, though brimful of the friendliest feelings to all mankind. There are many warm hearts in the same solitary guise as poor little Miss La Creevy's.
However, that's neither here nor there, just now. She went home to breakfast, and had scarcely caught the full flavour of her first sip of tea, when the servant announced a gentleman, whereat Miss La Creevy, at once imagining a new sitter transfixed by admiration at the street-door case, was in unspeakable consternation at the presence of the tea-things.
`Here, take 'em away; run with 'em into the bedroom; anywhere,' said Miss La Creevy. `Dear, dear; to think that I should be late on this particular morning, of all others, after being ready for three weeks by half- past eight o'clock, and not a soul coming near the place!'
`Don't let me put you out of the way,' said a voice Miss La Creevy knew. `I told the servant not to mention my name, because I wished to surprise you.'
`Mr Nicholas!' cried Miss La Creevy, starting in great astonishment.
`You have not forgotten me, I see,' replied Nicholas, extending his hand.
`Why, I think I should even have known you if I had met you in the street,' said Miss La Creevy, with a smile. `Hannah, another cup and saucer. Now, I'll tell you what, young man; I'll trouble you not to repeat the impertinence you were guilty of, on the morning you went away.'
`You would not be very angry, would you?' asked Nicholas.
`Wouldn't I!' said Miss La Creevy. `You had better try; that's all!'
Nicholas, with becoming gallantry, immediately took Miss La Creevy at her word, who uttered a faint scream and slapped his face; but it was not a very hard slap, and that's the truth.
`I never saw such a rude creature!' exclaimed Miss La Creevy.
`You told me to try,' said Nicholas.
`Well; but I was speaking ironically,' rejoined Miss La Creevy.
`Oh! that's another thing,' said Nicholas; `you should have told me that, too.'
`I dare say you didn't know, indeed!' retorted Miss La Creevy. `But, now I look at you again, you seem thinner than when I saw you last, and your face is haggard and pale. And how come you to have left Yorkshire?'
She stopped here; for there was so much heart in her altered tone and manner, that Nicholas was quite moved.
`I need look somewhat changed,' he said, after a short silence; `for I have undergone some suffering, both of mind and body, since I left London. I have been very poor, too, and have even suffered from want.'
`Good Heaven, Mr Nicholas!' exclaimed Miss La Creevy, `what are you telling me?'
`Nothing which need distress you quite so much,' answered Nicholas, with a more sprightly air; `neither did I come here to bewail my lot, but on matter more to the purpose. I wish to meet my uncle face to face. I should tell you that first.'
`Then all I have to say about that is,' interposed Miss La Creevy, `that I don't envy you your taste; and that sitting in the same room with his very boots, would put me out of humour for a fortnight.'
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