`But now,' said the first gentleman, `now we have the happiness we have pined and languished for. Have we pined and languished for this happiness, Pyke, or have we not?'

`You know we have, Pluck,' said Pyke, reproachfully.

`You hear him, ma'am?' said Mr Pluck, looking round; `you hear the unimpeachable testimony of my friend Pyke--that reminds me,--formalities, formalities, must not be neglected in civilised society. Pyke--Mrs Nickleby.'

Mr Pyke laid his hand upon his heart, and bowed low.

`Whether I shall introduce myself with the same formality,' said Mr Pluck--`whether I shall say myself that my name is Pluck, or whether I shall ask my friend Pyke (who being now regularly introduced, is competent to the office) to state for me, Mrs Nickleby, that my name is Pluck; whether I shall claim your acquaintance on the plain ground of the strong interest I take in your welfare, or whether I shall make myself known to you as the friend of Sir Mulberry Hawk--these, Mrs Nickleby, are considerations which I leave to you to determine.'

`Any friend of Sir Mulberry Hawk's requires no better introduction to me,' observed Mrs Nickleby, graciously.

`It is delightful to hear you say so,' said Mr Pluck, drawing a chair close to Mrs Nickleby, and sitting himself down. `It is refreshing to know that you hold my excellent friend, Sir Mulberry, in such high esteem. A word in your ear, Mrs Nickleby. When Sir Mulberry knows it, he will be a happy man--I say, Mrs Nickleby, a happy man. Pyke, be seated.'

`My good opinion,' said Mrs Nickleby, and the poor lady exulted in the idea that she was marvellously sly,--`my good opinion can be of very little consequence to a gentleman like Sir Mulberry.'

`Of little consequence!' exclaimed Mr Pluck. `Pyke, of what consequence to our friend, Sir Mulberry, is the good opinion of Mrs Nickleby?'

`Of what consequence?' echoed Pyke.

`Ay,' repeated Pluck; `is it of the greatest consequence?'

`Of the very greatest consequence,' replied Pyke.

`Mrs Nickleby cannot be ignorant,' said Mr Pluck, `of the immense impression which that sweet girl has--'

`Pluck!' said his friend, `beware!'

`Pyke is right,' muttered Mr Pluck, after a short pause; `I was not to mention it. Pyke is very right. Thank you, Pyke.'

`Well now, really,' thought Mrs Nickleby within herself. `Such delicacy as that, I never saw!'

Mr Pluck, after feigning to be in a condition of great embarrassment for some minutes, resumed the conversation by entreating Mrs Nickleby to take no heed of what he had inadvertently said--to consider him imprudent, rash, injudicious. The only stipulation he would make in his own favour was, that she should give him credit for the best intentions.

`But when,' said Mr Pluck, `when I see so much sweetness and beauty on the one hand, and so much ardour and devotion on the other, I--pardon me, Pyke, I didn't intend to resume that theme. Change the subject, Pyke.'

  By PanEris using Melati.

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