Chapter 34

Wherein Mr Ralph Nickleby is visited by persons with whom the reader has been already made acquainted

`WHAT a demnition long time you have kept me ringing at this confounded old cracked tea-kettle of a bell, every tinkle of which is enough to throw a strong man into blue convulsions, upon my life and soul, oh demmit,'--said Mr Mantalini to Newman Noggs, scraping his boots, as he spoke, on Ralph Nickleby's scraper.

`I didn't hear the bell more than once,' replied Newman.

`Then you are most immensely and outrigeously deaf,' said Mr Mantalini, `as deaf as a demnition post.'

Mr Mantalini had got by this time into the passage, and was making his way to the door of Ralph's office with very little ceremony, when Newman interposed his body; and hinting that Mr Nickleby was unwilling to be disturbed, inquired whether the client's business was of a pressing nature.

`It is most demnebly particular,' said Mr Mantalini. `It is to melt some scraps of dirty paper into bright, shining, chinking, tinkling, demd mint sauce.'

Newman uttered a significant grunt, and taking Mr Mantalini's proffered card, limped with it into his master's office. As he thrust his head in at the door, he saw that Ralph had resumed the thoughtful posture into which he had fallen after perusing his nephew's letter, and that he seemed to have been reading it again, as he once more held it open in his hand. The glance was but momentary, for Ralph, being disturbed, turned to demand the cause of the interruption.

As Newman stated it, the cause himself swaggered into the room, and grasping Ralph's horny hand with uncommon affection, vowed that he had never seen him looking so well in all his life.

`There is quite a bloom upon your demd countenance,' said Mr Mantalini, seating himself unbidden, and arranging his hair and whiskers. `You look quite juvenile and jolly, demmit!'

`We are alone,' returned Ralph, tartly. `What do you want with me?'

`Good!' cried Mr Mantalini, displaying his teeth. `What did I want! Yes. Ha, ha! Very good. What did I want. Ha, ha. Oh dem!'

`What do you want, man?' demanded Ralph, sternly.

`Demnition discount,' returned Mr Mantalini, with a grin, and shaking his head waggishly.

`Money is scarce,' said Ralph.

`Demd scarce, or I shouldn't want it,' interrupted Mr Mantalini.

`The times are bad, and one scarcely knows whom to trust,' continued Ralph. `I don't want to do business just now, in fact I would rather not; but as you are a friend--how many bills have you there?'

`Two,' returned Mr Mantalini.

`What is the gross amount?'

`Demd trifling--five-and-seventy.'

`And the dates?'

`Two months, and four.'

  By PanEris using Melati.

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