Chapter 25

Concerning a young lady from London, who joins the company, and an elderly admirer who follows in her train; with an affecting ceremony consequent on their arrival

THE NEW PIECE being a decided hit, was announced for every evening of performance until further notice, and the evenings when the theatre was closed, were reduced from three in the week to two. Nor were these the only tokens of extraordinary success; for, on the succeeding Saturday, Nicholas received, by favour of the indefatigable Mrs Grudden, no less a sum than thirty shillings; besides which substantial reward, he enjoyed considerable fame and honour: having a presentation copy of Mr Curdle's pamphlet forwarded to the theatre, with that gentleman's own autograph (in itself an inestimable treasure) on the fly-leaf, accompanied with a note, containing many expressions of approval, and an unsolicited assurance that Mr Curdle would be very happy to read Shakespeare to him for three hours every morning before breakfast during his stay in the town.

`I've got another novelty, Johnson,' said Mr Crummles one morning in great glee.

`What's that?' rejoined Nicholas. `The pony?'

`No, no, we never come to the pony till everything else has failed,' said Mr Crummles. `I don't think we shall come to the pony at all, this season. No, no, not the pony.'

`A boy phenomenon, perhaps?' suggested Nicholas.

`There is only one phenomenon, sir,' replied Mr Crummles impressively, `and that's a girl.'

`Very true,' said Nicholas. `I beg your pardon. Then I don't know what it is, I am sure.'

`What should you say to a young lady from London?' inquired Mr Crummles. `Miss So-and-so, of the Theatre Royal, Drury Lane?'

`I should say she would look very well in the bills,' said Nicholas.

`You're about right there,' said Mr Crummles; `and if you had said she would look very well upon the stage too, you wouldn't have been far out. Look here; what do you think of this?'

With this inquiry Mr Crummles unfolded a red poster, and a blue poster, and a yellow poster, at the top of each of which public notification was inscribed in enormous characters -- `First appearance of the unrivalled Miss Petowker of the Theatre Royal, Drury Lane!'

`Dear me!' said Nicholas, `I know that lady.'

`Then you are acquainted with as much talent as was ever compressed into one young person's body,' retorted Mr Crummles, rolling up the bills again; `that is, talent of a certain sort -- of a certain sort. "The Blood Drinker,"' added Mr Crummles with a prophetic sigh, `"The Blood Drinker" will die with that girl; and she's the only sylph I ever saw, who could stand upon one leg, and play the tambourine on her other knee, like a sylph.'

`When does she come down?' asked Nicholas.

`We expect her today,' replied Mr Crummles. `She is an old friend of Mrs Crummles's. Mrs Crummles saw what she could do -- always knew it from the first. She taught her, indeed, nearly all she knows. Mrs Crummles was the original Blood Drinker.'

`Was she, indeed?'

`Yes. She was obliged to give it up though.'

  By PanEris using Melati.

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