Chapter 24Of the great bespeak for Miss Snevellicci, and the first appearance of Nicholas upon any stage
NICHOLAS was up betimes in the morning; but he had scarcely begun to dress, notwithstanding, when he heard footsteps ascending the stairs, and was presently saluted by the voices of Mr Folair the pantomimist, and Mr Lenville, the tragedian.
`House, house, house!' cried Mr Folair.
`What, ho! within there" said Mr Lenville, in a deep voice.
`Confound these fellows!' thought Nicholas; `they have come to breakfast, I suppose. I'll open the door directly, if you'll wait an instant.'
The gentlemen entreated him not to hurry himself; and, to beguile the interval, had a fencing bout with their walking-sticks on the very small landing-place: to the unspeakable discomposure of all the other lodgers downstairs.
`Here, come in,' said Nicholas, when he had completed his toilet. `In the name of all that's horrible, don't make that noise outside.'
`An uncommon snug little box this,' said Mr Lenville, stepping into the front room, and taking his hat off, before he could get in at all. `Pernicious snug.'
`For a man at all particular in such matters, it might be a trifle too snug,' said Nicholas; `for, although it is, undoubtedly, a great convenience to be able to reach anything you want from the ceiling or the floor, or either side of the room, without having to move from your chair, still these advantages can only be had in an apartment of the most limited size.'
`It isn't a bit too confined for a single man,' returned Mr Lenville. `That reminds me,--my wife, Mr Johnson,-- I hope she'll have some good part in this piece of yours?'
`I glanced at the French copy last night,' said Nicholas. `It looks very good, I think.'
`What do you mean to do for me, old fellow?' asked Mr Lenville, poking the struggling fire with his walking- stick, and afterwards wiping it on the skirt of his coat. `Anything in the gruff and grumble way?'
`You turn your wife and child out of doors,' said Nicholas; `and, in a fit of rage and jealousy, stab your eldest son in the library.'
`Do I though!' exclaimed Mr Lenville. `That's very good business.'
`After which,' said Nicholas, `you are troubled with remorse till the last act, and then you make up your mind to destroy yourself. But, just as you are raising the pistol to your head, a clock strikes--ten.'
`I see,' cried Mr Lenville. `Very good.'
`You pause,' said Nicholas; `you recollect to have heard a clock strike ten in your infancy. The pistol falls from your hand--you are overcome--you burst into tears, and become a virtuous and exemplary character for ever afterwards.'
`Capital!' said Mr Lenville: `that's a sure card, a sure card. Get the curtain down with a touch of nature like that, and it'll be a triumphant success.'
`Is there anything good for me?' inquired Mr Folair, anxiously.
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