Newman stopped; not at all disconcerted.

`I did ring.'

`I knew you did.'

`Then why do you offer to go if you know that?'

`I thought you rang to say you didn't ring" replied Newman. `You often do.'

`How dare you pry, and peer, and stare at me, sirrah?' demanded Ralph.

`Stare!' cried Newman, `at you! Ha, ha!' which was all the explanation Newman deigned to offer.

`Be careful, sir,' said Ralph, looking steadily at him. `Let me have no drunken fooling here. Do you see this parcel?'

`It's big enough,' rejoined Newman.

`Carry it into the City; to Cross, in Broad Street, and leave it there -- quick. Do you hear?'

Newman gave a dogged kind of nod to express an affirmative reply, and, leaving the room for a few seconds, returned with his hat. Having made various ineffective attempts to fit the parcel (which was some two feet square) into the crown thereof, Newman took it under his arm, and after putting on his fingerless gloves with great precision and nicety, keeping his eyes fixed upon Mr Ralph Nickleby all the time, he adjusted his hat upon his head with as much care, real or pretended, as if it were a bran-new one of the most expensive quality, and at last departed on his errand.

He executed his commission with great promptitude and dispatch, only calling at one public-house for half a minute, and even that might be said to be in his way, for he went in at one door and came out at the other; but as he returned and had got so far homewards as the Strand, Newman began to loiter with the uncertain air of a man who has not quite made up his mind whether to halt or go straight forwards. After a very short consideration, the former inclination prevailed, and making towards the point he had had in his mind, Newman knocked a modest double knock, or rather a nervous single one, at Miss La Creevy's door.

It was opened by a strange servant, on whom the odd figure of the visitor did not appear to make the most favourable impression possible, inasmuch as she no sooner saw him than she very nearly closed it, and placing herself in the narrow gap, inquired what he wanted. But Newman merely uttering the monosyllable `Noggs,' as if it were some cabalistic word, at sound of which bolts would fly back and doors open, pushed briskly past and gained the door of Miss La Creevy's sitting-room, before the astonished servant could offer any opposition.

`Walk in if you please,' said Miss La Creevy in reply to the sound of Newman's knuckles; and in he walked accordingly.

`Bless us!' cried Miss La Creevy, starting as Newman bolted in; `what did you want, sir?'

`You have forgotten me,' said Newman, with an inclination of the head. `I wonder at that. That nobody should remember me who knew me in other days, is natural enough; but there are few people who, seeing me once, forget me now.' He glanced, as he spoke, at his shabby clothes and paralytic limb, and slightly shook his head.

`I did forget you, I declare,' said Miss La Creevy, rising to receive Newman, who met her half-way, `and I am ashamed of myself for doing so; for you are a kind, good creature, Mr Noggs. Sit down and tell me all about Miss Nickleby. Poor dear thing! I haven't seen her for this many a week.'

  By PanEris using Melati.

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