`I'll do them for you--mind, for you; I wouldn't for many people--for five-and-twenty pounds,' said Ralph, deliberately.
`Oh demmit!' cried Mr Mantalini, whose face lengthened considerably at this handsome proposal.
`Why, that leaves you fifty,' retorted Ralph. `What would you have? Let me see the names.'
`You are so demd hard, Nickleby,' remonstrated Mr Mantalini.
`Let me see the names,' replied Ralph, impatiently extending his hand for the bills. `Well! They are not sure, but they are safe enough. Do you consent to the terms, and will you take the money? I don't want you to do so. I would rather you didn't.'
`Demmit, Nickleby, can't you--' began Mr Mantalini.
`No,' replied Ralph, interrupting him. `I can't. Will you take the money--down, mind; no delay, no going into the City and pretending to negotiate with some other party who has no existence, and never had. Is it a bargain, or is it not?'
Ralph pushed some papers from him as he spoke, and carelessly rattled his cash-box, as though by mere accident. The sound was too much for Mr Mantalini. He closed the bargain directly it reached his ears, and Ralph told the money out upon the table.
He had scarcely done so, and Mr Mantalini had not yet gathered it all up, when a ring was heard at the bell, and immediately afterwards Newman ushered in no less a person than Madame Mantalini, at sight of whom Mr Mantalini evinced considerable discomposure, and swept the cash into his pocket with remarkable alacrity.
`Oh, you are here,' said Madame Mantalini, tossing her head.
`Yes, my life and soul, I am,' replied her husband, dropping on his knees, and pouncing with kitten-like playfulness upon a stray sovereign. `I am here, my soul's delight, upon Tom Tidler's ground, picking up the demnition gold and silver.'
`I am ashamed of you,' said Madame Mantalini, with much indignation.
`Ashamed--of me, my joy? It knows it is talking demd charming sweetness, but naughty fibs,' returned Mr Mantalini. `It knows it is not ashamed of its own popolorum tibby.'
Whatever were the circumstances which had led to such a result, it certainly appeared as though the popolorum tibby had rather miscalculated, for the nonce, the extent of his lady's affection. Madame Mantalini only looked scornful in reply; and, turning to Ralph, begged him to excuse her intrusion.
`Which is entirely attributable,' said Madame, `to the gross misconduct and most improper behaviour of Mr Mantalini.'
`Of me, my essential juice of pineapple!'
`Of you,' returned his wife. `But I will not allow it. I will not submit to be ruined by the extravagance and profligacy of any man. I call Mr Nickleby to witness the course I intend to pursue with you.'
`Pray don't call me to witness anything, ma'am,' said Ralph. `Settle it between yourselves, settle it between yourselves.'
|Copyright: All texts on Bibliomania are © Bibliomania.com Ltd, and may not be reproduced in any form without our written permission. See our FAQ for more details.|