Chapter 63

The brothers Cheeryble make various declarations for themselves and others. Tim Linkinwater makes a declaration for himself

SOME WEEKS had passed, and the first shock of these events had subsided. Madeline had been removed; Frank had been absent; and Nicholas and Kate had begun to try in good earnest to stifle their own regrets, and to live for each other and for their mother--who, poor lady, could in nowise be reconciled to this dull and altered state of affairs--when there came one evening, per favour of Mr Linkinwater, an invitation from the brothers to dinner on the next day but one: comprehending, not only Mrs Nickleby, Kate, and Nicholas, but little Miss La Creevy, who was most particularly mentioned.

`Now, my dears,' said Mrs Nickleby, when they had rendered becoming honour to the bidding, and Tim had taken his departure, `what does this mean?'

`What do you mean, mother?' asked Nicholas, smiling.

`I say, my dear,' rejoined that lady, with a face of unfathomable mystery, `what does this invitation to dinner mean,--what is its intention and object?'

`I conclude it means, that on such a day we are to eat and drink in their house, and that its intent and object is to confer pleasure upon us,' said Nicholas.

`And that's all you conclude it is, my dear?'

`I have not yet arrived at anything deeper, mother.'

`Then I'll just tell you one thing,' said Mrs Nickleby, you'll find yourself a little surprised; that's all. You may depend upon it that this means something besides dinner.'

`Tea and supper, perhaps,' suggested Nicholas.

`I wouldn't be absurd, my dear, if I were you,' replied Mrs Nickleby, in a lofty manner, `because it's not by any means becoming, and doesn't suit you at all. What I mean to say is, that the Mr Cheerybles don't ask us to dinner with all this ceremony for nothing. Never mind; wait and see. You won't believe anything I say, of course. It's much better to wait; a great deal better; it's satisfactory to all parties, and there can be no disputing. All I say is, remember what I say now, and when I say I said so, don't say I didn't.'

With this stipulation, Mrs Nickleby, who was troubled, night and day, with a vision of a hot messenger tearing up to the door to announce that Nicholas had been taken into partnership, quitted that branch of the subject, and entered upon a new one.

`It's a very extraordinary thing,' she said, `a most extraordinary thing, that they should have invited Miss La Creevy. It quite astonishes me, upon my word it does. Of course it's very pleasant that she should be invited, very pleasant, and I have no doubt that she'll conduct herself extremely well; she always does. It's very gratifying to think that we should have been the means of introducing her into such society, and I'm quite glad of it--quite rejoiced--for she certainly is an exceedingly well-behaved and good-natured little person. I could wish that some friend would mention to her how very badly she has her cap trimmed, and what very preposterous bows those are, but of course that's impossible, and if she likes to make a fright of herself, no doubt she has a perfect right to do so. We never see ourselves -- never do, and never did -- and I suppose we never shall.'

This moral reflection reminding her of the necessity of being peculiarly smart on the occasion, so as to counterbalance Miss La Creevy, and be herself an effectual set-off and atonement, led Mrs Nickleby into a consultation with her daughter relative to certain ribbons, gloves, and trimmings: which, being a

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