man fell through the cellar-flap of an empty house nearly a week before the quarter-day, and wasn't found till the new tenant went in--and we had roast pig there. It must be that, I think, that reminds me of it, especially as there was a little bird in the room that would keep on singing all the time of dinner--at least, not a little bird, for it was a parrot, and he didn't sing exactly, for he talked and swore dreadfully: but I think it must be that. Indeed I am sure it must. Shouldn't you say so, my dear?'
`I should say there was not a doubt about it, mamma,' returned Kate, with a cheerful smile.
`No; but do you think so, Kate?' said Mrs Nickleby, with as much gravity as if it were a question of the most imminent and thrilling interest. `If you don't, say so at once, you know; because it's just as well to be correct, particularly on a point of this kind, which is very curious and worth settling while one thinks about it.'
Kate laughingly replied that she was quite convinced; and as her mamma still appeared undetermined whether it was not absolutely essential that the subject should be renewed, proposed that they should take their work into the summer-house, and enjoy the beauty of the afternoon. Mrs Nickleby readily assented, and to the summer-house they repaired, without further discussion.
`Well, I will say,' observed Mrs Nickleby, as she took her seat, `that there never was such a good creature as Smike. Upon my word, the pains he has taken in putting this little arbour to rights, and training the sweetest flowers about it, are beyond anything I could have--I wish he wouldn't put all the gravel on your side, Kate, my dear, though, and leave nothing but mould for me.'
`Dear mamma,' returned Kate, hastily, `take this seat--do--to oblige me, mamma.'
`No, indeed, my dear. I shall keep my own side,' said Mrs Nickleby. `Well! I declare!'
Kate looked up inquiringly.
`If he hasn't been,' said Mrs Nickleby, `and got, from somewhere orother, a couple of roots of those flowers that I said I was so fond of, the other night, and asked you if you were not--no, that you said you were so fond of, the other night, and asked me if I wasn't--it's the same thing. Now, upon my word, I take that as very kind and attentive indeed! I don't see,' added Mrs Nickleby, looking narrowly about her, `any of them on my side, but I suppose they grow best near the gravel. You may depend upon it they do, Kate, and that's the reason they are all near you, and he has put the gravel there, because it's the sunny side. Upon my word, that's very clever now! I shouldn't have had half as much thought myself!'
`Mamma,' said Kate, bending over her work so that her face was almost hidden, `before you were married-- '
`Dear me, Kate,' interrupted Mrs Nickleby, `what in the name of goodness graciousness makes you fly off to the time before I was married, when I'm talking to you about his thoughtfulness and attention to me? You don't seem to take the smallest interest in the garden.'
`Oh! mamma,' said Kate, raising her face again, `you know I do.'
`Well then, my dear, why don't you praise the neatness and prettiness with which it's kept?' said Mrs Nickleby. `How very odd you are, Kate!'
`I do praise it, mamma,' answered Kate, gently. `Poor fellow!'
`I scarcely ever hear you, my dear,' retorted Mrs Nickleby; `that's all I've got to say.' By this time the good lady had been a long while upon one topic, so she fell at once into her daughter's little trap--if trap it were--and inquired what she had been going to say.
`About what, mamma?' said Kate, who had apparently quite forgotten her diversion.
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