Chapter 30

Festivities are held in honour of Nicholas, who suddenly withdraws himself from the society of Mr Vincent Crummles and his theatrical companions

MR VINCENT CRUMMLES was no sooner acquainted with the public announcement which Nicholas had made relative to the probability of his shortly ceasing to be a member of the company, than he evinced many tokens of grief and consternation; and, in the extremity of his despair, even held out certain vague promises of a speedy improvement not only in the amount of his regular salary, but also in the contingent emoluments appertaining to his authorship. Finding Nicholas bent upon quitting the society -- for he had now determined that, even if no further tidings came from Newman, he would, at all hazards, ease his mind by repairing to London and ascertaining the exact position of his sister -- Mr Crummles was fain to content himself by calculating the chances of his coming back again, and taking prompt and energetic measures to make the most of him before he went away.

`Let me see,' said Mr Crummles, taking off his outlaw's wig, the better to arrive at a cool-headed view of the whole case. `Let me see. This is Wednesday night. We'll have posters out the first thing in the morning, announcing positively your last appearance for tomorrow.'

`But perhaps it may not be my last appearance, you know,' said Nicholas. `Unless I am summoned away, I should be sorry to inconvenience you by leaving before the end of the week.'

`So much the better,' returned Mr Crummles. `We can have positively your last appearance, on Thursday -- re-engagement for one night more, on Friday -- and, yielding to the wishes of numerous influential patrons, who were disappointed in obtaining seats, on Saturday. That ought to bring three very decent houses.'

`Then I am to make three last appearances, am I?' inquired Nicholas, smiling.

`Yes,' rejoined the manager, scratching his head with an air of some vexation; `three is not enough, and it's very bungling and irregular not to have more, but if we can't help it we can't, so there's no use in talking. A novelty would be very desirable. You couldn't sing a comic song on the pony's back, could you?'

`No,' replied Nicholas, `I couldn't indeed.'

`It has drawn money before now,' said Mr Crummles, with a look of disappointment. `What do you think of a brilliant display of fireworks?'

`That it would be rather expensive,' replied Nicholas, drily.

`Eighteen-pence would do it,' said Mr Crummles. `You on the top of a pair of steps with the phenomenon in an attitude; "Farewell!" on a transparency behind; and nine people at the wings with a squib in each hand -- all the dozen and a half going off at once -- it would be very grand -- awful from the front, quite awful.'

As Nicholas appeared by no means impressed with the solemnity of the proposed effect, but, on the contrary, received the proposition in a most irreverent manner, and laughed at it very heartily, Mr Crummles abandoned the project in its birth, and gloomily observed that they must make up the best bill they could with combats and hornpipes, and so stick to the legitimate drama.

For the purpose of carrying this object into instant execution, the manager at once repaired to a small dressing-room, adjacent, where Mrs Crummles was then occupied in exchanging the habiliments of a melodramatic empress for the ordinary attire of matrons in the nineteenth century. And with the assistance of this lady, and the accomplished Mrs Grudden (who had quite a genius for making out bills, being a great hand at throwing in the notes of admiration, and knowing from long experience exactly where the largest capitals ought to go), he seriously applied himself to the composition of the poster.

  By PanEris using Melati.

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