Chapter 29

Of the proceedings of Nicholas, and certain internal divisions in the company of Mr Vincent Crummles

THE UNEXPECTED success and favour with which his experiment at Portsmouth had been received, induced Mr Crummles to prolong his stay in that town for a fortnight beyond the period he had originally assigned for the duration of his visit, during which time Nicholas personated a vast variety of characters with undiminished success, and attracted so many people to the theatre who had never been seen there before, that a benefit was considered by the manager a very promising speculation. Nicholas assenting to the terms proposed, the benefit was had, and by it he realised no less a sum than twenty pounds.

Possessed of this unexpected wealth, his first act was to enclose to honest John Browdie the amount of his friendly loan, which he accompanied with many expressions of gratitude and esteem, and many cordial wishes for his matrimonial happiness. To Newman Noggs he forwarded one half of the sum he had realised, entreating him to take an opportunity of handing it to Kate in secret, and conveying to her the warmest assurances of his love and affection. He made no mention of the way in which he had employed himself; merely informing Newman that a letter addressed to him under his assumed name at the Post Office, Portsmouth, would readily find him, and entreating that worthy friend to write full particulars of the situation of his mother and sister, and an account of all the grand things that Ralph Nickleby had done for them since his departure from London.

`You are out of spirits,' said Smike, on the night after the letter had been dispatched.

`Not I!' rejoined Nicholas, with assumed gaiety, for the confession would have made the boy miserable all night; `I was thinking about my sister, Smike.'



`Is she like you?' inquired Smike.

`Why, so they say,' replied Nicholas, laughing, `only a great deal handsomer.'

`She must be very beautiful,' said Smike, after thinking a little while with his hands folded together, and his eyes bent upon his friend.

`Anybody who didn't know you as well as I do, my dear fellow, would say you were an accomplished courtier,' said Nicholas.

`I don't even know what that is,' replied Smike, shaking his head. `Shall I ever see your sister?'

`To be sure,' cried Nicholas; `we shall all be together one of these days--when we are rich, Smike.'

`How is it that you, who are so kind and good to me, have nobody to be kind to you?' asked Smike. `I cannot make that out.'

`Why, it is a long story,' replied Nicholas, `and one you would have some difficulty in comprehending, I fear. I have an enemy--you understand what that is?'

`Oh, yes, I understand that,' said Smike.

`Well, it is owing to him,' returned Nicholas. `He is rich, and not so easily punished as your old enemy, Mr Squeers. He is my uncle, but he is a villain, and has done me wrong.'

`Has he though?' asked Smike, bending eagerly forward. `What is his name? Tell me his name.'

`Ralph--Ralph Nickleby.'

  By PanEris using Melati.

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