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Chapter 15

CHAPTER 15

Acquaints the Reader with the Cause and Origin of the Interruption
described in the last Chapter, and with some other Matters necessary
to be known


Newman Noggs scrambled in violent haste upstairs with the steaming
beverage, which he had so unceremoniously snatched from the table of
Mr Kenwigs, and indeed from the very grasp of the water-rate
collector, who was eyeing the contents of the tumbler, at the moment
of its unexpected abstraction, with lively marks of pleasure visible
in his countenance. He bore his prize straight to his own back-
garret, where, footsore and nearly shoeless, wet, dirty, jaded, and
disfigured with every mark of fatiguing travel, sat Nicholas and
Smike, at once the cause and partner of his toil; both perfectly
worn out by their unwonted and protracted exertion.

Newman's first act was to compel Nicholas, with gentle force, to
swallow half of the punch at a breath, nearly boiling as it was; and
his next, to pour the remainder down the throat of Smike, who, never
having tasted anything stronger than aperient medicine in his whole
life, exhibited various odd manifestations of surprise and delight,
during the passage of the liquor down his throat, and turned up his
eyes most emphatically when it was all gone.

'You are wet through,' said Newman, passing his hand hastily over
the coat which Nicholas had thrown off; 'and I--I--haven't even a
change,' he added, with a wistful glance at the shabby clothes he
wore himself.

'I have dry clothes, or at least such as will serve my turn well, in
my bundle,' replied Nicholas. 'If you look so distressed to see me,
you will add to the pain I feel already, at being compelled, for one
night, to cast myself upon your slender means for aid and shelter.'

Newman did not look the less distressed to hear Nicholas talking in
this strain; but, upon his young friend grasping him heartily by the
hand, and assuring him that nothing but implicit confidence in the
sincerity of his professions, and kindness of feeling towards
himself, would have induced him, on any consideration, even to have
made him acquainted with his arrival in London, Mr Noggs brightened
up again, and went about making such arrangements as were in his
power for the comfort of his visitors, with extreme alacrity.

These were simple enough; poor Newman's means halting at a very
considerable distance short of his inclinations; but, slight as they
were, they were not made without much bustling and running about.
As Nicholas had husbanded his scanty stock of money, so well that it
was not yet quite expended, a supper of bread and cheese, with some
cold beef from the cook's shop, was soon placed upon the table; and
these viands being flanked by a bottle of spirits and a pot of
porter, there was no ground for apprehension on the score of hunger
or thirst, at all events. Such preparations as Newman had it in his
power to make, for the accommodation of his guests during the night,
occupied no very great time in completing; and as he had insisted,
as an express preliminary, that Nicholas should change his clothes,
and that Smike should invest himself in his solitary coat (which no
entreaties would dissuade him from stripping off for the purpose),
the travellers partook of their frugal fare, with more satisfaction
than one of them at least had derived from many a better meal.

They then drew near the fire, which Newman Noggs had made up as well
as he could, after the inroads of Crowl upon the fuel; and Nicholas,
who had hitherto been restrained by the extreme anxiety of his
friend that he should refresh himself after his journey, now pressed
him with earnest questions concerning his mother and sister.

'Well,' replied Newman, with his accustomed taciturnity; 'both
well.'

'They are living in the city still?' inquired Nicholas.

'They are,' said Newman.

'And my sister,'--added Nicholas. 'Is she still engaged in the
business which she wrote to tell me she thought she should like so
much?'

Newman opened his eyes rather wider than usual, but merely replied
by a gasp, which, according to the action of the head that
accompanied it, was interpreted by his friends as meaning yes or no.
In the present instance, the pantomime consisted of a nod, and not a
shake; so Nicholas took the answer as a favourable one.

'Now listen to me,' said Nicholas, laying his hand on Newman's
shoulder. 'Before I would make an effort to see them, I deemed it
expedient to come to you, lest, by gratifying my own selfish desire,
I should inflict an injury upon them which I can never repair. What
has my uncle heard from Yorkshire?'

Newman opened and shut his mouth, several times, as though he were
trying his utmost to speak, but could make nothing of it, and
finally fixed his eyes on Nicholas with a grim and ghastly stare.

'What has he heard?' urged Nicholas, colouring. 'You see that I am
prepared to hear the very worst that malice can have suggested. Why
should you conceal it from me? I must know it sooner or later; and
what purpose can be gained by trifling with the matter for a few
minutes, when half the time would put me in possession of all that
has occurred? Tell me at once, pray.'

'Tomorrow morning,' said Newman; 'hear it tomorrow.'

'What purpose would that answer?' urged Nicholas.

'You would sleep the better,' replied Newman.

'I should sleep the worse,' answered Nicholas, impatiently. 'Sleep!
Exhausted as I am, and standing in no common need of rest, I cannot
hope to close my eyes all night, unless you tell me everything.'

'And if I should tell you everything,' said Newman, hesitating.

'Why, then you may rouse my indignation or wound my pride,' rejoined
Nicholas; 'but you will not break my rest; for if the scene were
acted over again, I could take no other part than I have taken; and
whatever consequences may accrue to myself from it, I shall never
regret doing as I have done--never, if I starve or beg in
consequence. What is a little poverty or suffering, to the disgrace
of the basest and most inhuman cowardice! I tell you, if I had
stood by, tamely and passively, I should have hated myself, and
merited the contempt of every man in existence. The black-hearted
scoundrel!'

With this gentle allusion to the absent Mr Squeers, Nicholas
repressed his rising wrath, and relating to Newman exactly what had
passed at Dotheboys Hall, entreated him to speak out without more
pressing. Thus adjured, Mr Noggs took, from an old trunk, a sheet
of paper, which appeared to have been scrawled over in great haste;
and after sundry extraordinary demonstrations of reluctance,
delivered himself in the following terms.

'My dear young man, you mustn't give way to--this sort of thing will
never do, you know--as to getting on in the world, if you take
everybody's part that's ill-treated--Damn it, I am proud to hear of
it; and would have done it myself!'

Newman accompanied this very unusual outbreak with a violent blow
upon the table, as if, in the heat of the moment, he had mistaken it
for the chest or ribs of Mr Wackford Squeers. Having, by this open
declaration of his feelings, quite precluded himself from offering
Nicholas any cautious worldly advice (which had been his first
intention), Mr Noggs went straight to the point.

'The day before yesterday,' said Newman, 'your uncle received this
letter. I took a hasty copy of it, while he was out. Shall I read
it?'

'If you please,' replied Nicholas. Newman Noggs accordingly read as
follows:

'DOTHEBOYS HALL,
'THURSDAY MORNING.

'SIR,

'My pa requests me to write to you, the doctors considering it
doubtful whether he will ever recuvver the use of his legs which
prevents his holding a pen.

'We are in a state of mind beyond everything, and my pa is one mask
of brooses both blue and green likewise two forms are steepled in
his Goar. We were kimpelled to have him carried down into the
kitchen where he now lays. You will judge from this that he has
been brought very low.

'When your nevew that you recommended for a teacher had done this to
my pa and jumped upon his body with his feet and also langwedge
which I will not pollewt my pen with describing, he assaulted my ma
with dreadful violence, dashed her to the earth, and drove her back
comb several inches into her head. A very little more and it must
have entered her skull. We have a medical certifiket that if it
had, the tortershell would have affected the brain.

'Me and my brother were then the victims of his feury since which we
have suffered very much which leads us to the arrowing belief that
we have received some injury in our insides, especially as no marks
of violence are visible externally. I am screaming out loud all the
time I write and so is my brother which takes off my attention
rather and I hope will excuse mistakes.

'The monster having sasiated his thirst for blood ran away, taking
with him a boy of desperate caracter that he had excited to
rebellyon, and a garnet ring belonging to my ma, and not having been
apprehended by the constables is supposed to have been took up by
some stage-coach. My pa begs that if he comes to you the ring may
be returned, and that you will let the thief and assassin go, as if
we prosecuted him he would only be transported, and if he is let go
he is sure to be hung before long which will save us trouble and be
much more satisfactory. Hoping to hear from you when convenient

'I remain
'Yours and cetrer
'FANNY SQUEERS.

'P.S. I pity his ignorance and despise him.'

A profound silence succeeded to the reading of this choice epistle,
during which Newman Noggs, as he folded it up, gazed with a kind of
grotesque pity at the boy of desperate character therein referred
to; who, having no more distinct perception of the matter in hand,
than that he had been the unfortunate cause of heaping trouble and
falsehood upon Nicholas, sat mute and dispirited, with a most
woe-begone and heart-stricken look.

'Mr Noggs,' said Nicholas, after a few moments' reflection, 'I must
go out at once.'

'Go out!' cried Newman.

'Yes,' said Nicholas, 'to Golden Square. Nobody who knows me would
believe this story of the ring; but it may suit the purpose, or
gratify the hatred of Mr Ralph Nickleby to feign to attach credence
to it. It is due--not to him, but to myself--that I should state
the truth; and moreover, I have a word or two to exchange with him,
which will not keep cool.'

'They must,' said Newman.

'They must not, indeed,' rejoined Nicholas firmly, as he prepared to
leave the house.

'Hear me speak,' said Newman, planting himself before his impetuous
young friend. 'He is not there. He is away from town. He will not
be back for three days; and I know that letter will not be answered
before he returns.'

'Are you sure of this?' asked Nicholas, chafing violently, and
pacing the narrow room with rapid strides.

'Quite,' rejoined Newman. 'He had hardly read it when he was called
away. Its contents are known to nobody but himself and us.'

'Are you certain?' demanded Nicholas, precipitately; 'not even to my
mother or sister? If I thought that they--I will go there--I must
see them. Which is the way? Where is it?'

'Now, be advised by me,' said Newman, speaking for the moment, in
his earnestness, like any other man--'make no effort to see even
them, till he comes home. I know the man. Do not seem to have been
tampering with anybody. When he returns, go straight to him, and
speak as boldly as you like. Guessing at the real truth, he knows
it as well as you or I. Trust him for that.'

'You mean well to me, and should know him better than I can,'
replied Nicholas, after some consideration. 'Well; let it be so.'

Newman, who had stood during the foregoing conversation with his
back planted against the door, ready to oppose any egress from the
apartment by force, if necessary, resumed his seat with much
satisfaction; and as the water in the kettle was by this time
boiling, made a glassful of spirits and water for Nicholas, and a
cracked mug-full for the joint accommodation of himself and Smike,
of which the two partook in great harmony, while Nicholas, leaning
his head upon his hand, remained buried in melancholy meditation.

Meanwhile, the company below stairs, after listening attentively and
not hearing any noise which would justify them in interfering for
the gratification of their curiosity, returned to the chamber of the
Kenwigses, and employed themselves in hazarding a great variety of
conjectures relative to the cause of Mr Noggs' sudden disappearance
and detention.

'Lor, I'll tell you what,' said Mrs Kenwigs. 'Suppose it should be
an express sent up to say that his property has all come back
again!'

'Dear me,' said Mr Kenwigs; 'it's not impossible. Perhaps, in that
case, we'd better send up and ask if he won't take a little more
punch.'

'Kenwigs!' said Mr Lillyvick, in a loud voice, 'I'm surprised at
you.'

'What's the matter, sir?' asked Mr Kenwigs, with becoming submission
to the collector of water-rates.

'Making such a remark as that, sir,' replied Mr Lillyvick, angrily.
'He has had punch already, has he not, sir? I consider the way in
which that punch was cut off, if I may use the expression, highly
disrespectful to this company; scandalous, perfectly scandalous. It
may be the custom to allow such things in this house, but it's not
the kind of behaviour that I've been used to see displayed, and so I
don't mind telling you, Kenwigs. A gentleman has a glass of punch
before him to which he is just about to set his lips, when another
gentleman comes and collars that glass of punch, without a "with
your leave", or "by your leave", and carries that glass of punch
away. This may be good manners--I dare say it is--but I don't
understand it, that's all; and what's more, I don't care if I never
do. It's my way to speak my mind, Kenwigs, and that is my mind; and
if you don't like it, it's past my regular time for going to bed,
and I can find my way home without making it later.'

Here was an untoward event! The collector had sat swelling and
fuming in offended dignity for some minutes, and had now fairly
burst out. The great man--the rich relation--the unmarried uncle--
who had it in his power to make Morleena an heiress, and the very
baby a legatee--was offended. Gracious Powers, where was this to
end!

'I am very sorry, sir,' said Mr Kenwigs, humbly.

'Don't tell me you're sorry,' retorted Mr Lillyvick, with much
sharpness. 'You should have prevented it, then.'

The company were quite paralysed by this domestic crash. The back-
parlour sat with her mouth wide open, staring vacantly at the
collector, in a stupor of dismay; the other guests were scarcely
less overpowered by the great man's irritation. Mr Kenwigs, not
being skilful in such matters, only fanned the flame in attempting
to extinguish it.

'I didn't think of it, I am sure, sir,' said that gentleman. 'I
didn't suppose that such a little thing as a glass of punch would
have put you out of temper.'

'Out of temper! What the devil do you mean by that piece of
impertinence, Mr Kenwigs?' said the collector. 'Morleena, child--
give me my hat.'

'Oh, you're not going, Mr Lillyvick, sir,' interposed Miss Petowker,
with her most bewitching smile.

But still Mr Lillyvick, regardless of the siren, cried obdurately,
'Morleena, my hat!' upon the fourth repetition of which demand, Mrs
Kenwigs sunk back in her chair, with a cry that might have softened
a water-butt, not to say a water-collector; while the four little
girls (privately instructed to that effect) clasped their uncle's
drab shorts in their arms, and prayed him, in imperfect English, to
remain.

'Why should I stop here, my dears?' said Mr Lillyvick; 'I'm not
wanted here.'

'Oh, do not speak so cruelly, uncle,' sobbed Mrs Kenwigs, 'unless
you wish to kill me.'

'I shouldn't wonder if some people were to say I did,' replied Mr
Lillyvick, glancing angrily at Kenwigs. 'Out of temper!'

'Oh! I cannot bear to see him look so, at my husband,' cried Mrs
Kenwigs. 'It's so dreadful in families. Oh!'

'Mr Lillyvick,' said Kenwigs, 'I hope, for the sake of your niece,
that you won't object to be reconciled.'

The collector's features relaxed, as the company added their
entreaties to those of his nephew-in-law. He gave up his hat, and
held out his hand.

'There, Kenwigs,' said Mr Lillyvick; 'and let me tell you, at the
same time, to show you how much out of temper I was, that if I had
gone away without another word, it would have made no difference
respecting that pound or two which I shall leave among your children
when I die.'

'Morleena Kenwigs,' cried her mother, in a torrent of affection.
'Go down upon your knees to your dear uncle, and beg him to love you
all his life through, for he's more a angel than a man, and I've
always said so.'

Miss Morleena approaching to do homage, in compliance with this
injunction, was summarily caught up and kissed by Mr Lillyvick; and
thereupon Mrs Kenwigs darted forward and kissed the collector, and
an irrepressible murmur of applause broke from the company who had
witnessed his magnanimity.

The worthy gentleman then became once more the life and soul of the
society; being again reinstated in his old post of lion, from which
high station the temporary distraction of their thoughts had for a
moment dispossessed him. Quadruped lions are said to be savage,
only when they are hungry; biped lions are rarely sulky longer than
when their appetite for distinction remains unappeased. Mr
Lillyvick stood higher than ever; for he had shown his power; hinted
at his property and testamentary intentions; gained great credit for
disinterestedness and virtue; and, in addition to all, was finally
accommodated with a much larger tumbler of punch than that which
Newman Noggs had so feloniously made off with.

'I say! I beg everybody's pardon for intruding again,' said Crowl,
looking in at this happy juncture; 'but what a queer business this
is, isn't it? Noggs has lived in this house, now going on for five
years, and nobody has ever been to see him before, within the memory
of the oldest inhabitant.'

'It's a strange time of night to be called away, sir, certainly,'
said the collector; 'and the behaviour of Mr Noggs himself, is, to
say the least of it, mysterious.'

'Well, so it is,' rejoined Growl; 'and I'll tell you what's more--I
think these two geniuses, whoever they are, have run away from
somewhere.'

'What makes you think that, sir?' demanded the collector, who
seemed, by a tacit understanding, to have been chosen and elected
mouthpiece to the company. 'You have no reason to suppose that they
have run away from anywhere without paying the rates and taxes due,
I hope?'

Mr Crowl, with a look of some contempt, was about to enter a general
protest against the payment of rates or taxes, under any
circumstances, when he was checked by a timely whisper from Kenwigs,
and several frowns and winks from Mrs K., which providentially
stopped him.

'Why the fact is,' said Crowl, who had been listening at Newman's
door with all his might and main; 'the fact is, that they have been
talking so loud, that they quite disturbed me in my room, and so I
couldn't help catching a word here, and a word there; and all I
heard, certainly seemed to refer to their having bolted from some
place or other. I don't wish to alarm Mrs Kenwigs; but I hope they
haven't come from any jail or hospital, and brought away a fever or
some unpleasantness of that sort, which might be catching for the
children.'

Mrs Kenwigs was so overpowered by this supposition, that it needed
all the tender attentions of Miss Petowker, of the Theatre Royal,
Drury Lane, to restore her to anything like a state of calmness; not
to mention the assiduity of Mr Kenwigs, who held a fat smelling-
bottle to his lady's nose, until it became matter of some doubt
whether the tears which coursed down her face were the result of
feelings or SAL VOLATILE.

The ladies, having expressed their sympathy, singly and separately,
fell, according to custom, into a little chorus of soothing
expressions, among which, such condolences as 'Poor dear!'--'I
should feel just the same, if I was her'--'To be sure, it's a very
trying thing'--and 'Nobody but a mother knows what a mother's
feelings is,' were among the most prominent, and most frequently
repeated. In short, the opinion of the company was so clearly
manifested, that Mr Kenwigs was on the point of repairing to Mr
Noggs's room, to demand an explanation, and had indeed swallowed a
preparatory glass of punch, with great inflexibility and steadiness
of purpose, when the attention of all present was diverted by a new
and terrible surprise.

This was nothing less than the sudden pouring forth of a rapid
succession of the shrillest and most piercing screams, from an upper
story; and to all appearance from the very two-pair back, in which
the infant Kenwigs was at that moment enshrined. They were no
sooner audible, than Mrs Kenwigs, opining that a strange cat had
come in, and sucked the baby's breath while the girl was asleep,
made for the door, wringing her hands, and shrieking dismally; to
the great consternation and confusion of the company.

'Mr Kenwigs, see what it is; make haste!' cried the sister, laying
violent hands upon Mrs Kenwigs, and holding her back by force. 'Oh
don't twist about so, dear, or I can never hold you.'

'My baby, my blessed, blessed, blessed, blessed baby!' screamed Mrs
Kenwigs, making every blessed louder than the last. 'My own
darling, sweet, innocent Lillyvick--Oh let me go to him. Let me go-
o-o-o!'

Pending the utterance of these frantic cries, and the wails and
lamentations of the four little girls, Mr Kenwigs rushed upstairs to
the room whence the sounds proceeded; at the door of which, he
encountered Nicholas, with the child in his arms, who darted out
with such violence, that the anxious father was thrown down six
stairs, and alighted on the nearest landing-place, before he had
found time to open his mouth to ask what was the matter.

'Don't be alarmed,' cried Nicholas, running down; 'here it is; it's
all out, it's all over; pray compose yourselves; there's no harm
done;' and with these, and a thousand other assurances, he delivered
the baby (whom, in his hurry, he had carried upside down), to Mrs
Kenwigs, and ran back to assist Mr Kenwigs, who was rubbing his head
very hard, and looking much bewildered by his tumble.

Reassured by this cheering intelligence, the company in some degree
recovered from their fears, which had been productive of some most
singular instances of a total want of presence of mind; thus, the
bachelor friend had, for a long time, supported in his arms Mrs
Kenwigs's sister, instead of Mrs Kenwigs; and the worthy Mr
Lillyvick had been actually seen, in the perturbation of his
spirits, to kiss Miss Petowker several times, behind the room-door,
as calmly as if nothing distressing were going forward.

'It is a mere nothing,' said Nicholas, returning to Mrs Kenwigs;
'the little girl, who was watching the child, being tired I suppose,
fell asleep, and set her hair on fire.'

'Oh you malicious little wretch!' cried Mrs Kenwigs, impressively
shaking her forefinger at the small unfortunate, who might be
thirteen years old, and was looking on with a singed head and a
frightened face.

'I heard her cries,' continued Nicholas, 'and ran down, in time to
prevent her setting fire to anything else. You may depend upon it
that the child is not hurt; for I took it off the bed myself, and
brought it here to convince you.'

This brief explanation over, the infant, who, as he was christened
after the collector! rejoiced in the names of Lillyvick Kenwigs, was
partially suffocated under the caresses of the audience, and
squeezed to his mother's bosom, until he roared again. The
attention of the company was then directed, by a natural transition,
to the little girl who had had the audacity to burn her hair off,
and who, after receiving sundry small slaps and pushes from the more
energetic of the ladies, was mercifully sent home: the ninepence,
with which she was to have been rewarded, being escheated to the
Kenwigs family.

'And whatever we are to say to you, sir,' exclaimed Mrs Kenwigs,
addressing young Lillyvick's deliverer, 'I am sure I don't know.'

'You need say nothing at all,' replied Nicholas. 'I have done
nothing to found any very strong claim upon your eloquence, I am
sure.'

'He might have been burnt to death, if it hadn't been for you, sir,'
simpered Miss Petowker.

'Not very likely, I think,' replied Nicholas; 'for there was
abundance of assistance here, which must have reached him before he
had been in any danger.'

'You will let us drink your health, anyvays, sir!' said Mr Kenwigs
motioning towards the table.

'--In my absence, by all means,' rejoined Nicholas, with a smile.
'I have had a very fatiguing journey, and should be most indifferent
company--a far greater check upon your merriment, than a promoter of
it, even if I kept awake, which I think very doubtful. If you will
allow me, I'll return to my friend, Mr Noggs, who went upstairs
again, when he found nothing serious had occurred. Good-night.'

Excusing himself, in these terms, from joining in the festivities,
Nicholas took a most winning farewell of Mrs Kenwigs and the other
ladies, and retired, after making a very extraordinary impression
upon the company.

'What a delightful young man!' cried Mrs Kenwigs.

'Uncommon gentlemanly, really,' said Mr Kenwigs. 'Don't you think
so, Mr Lillyvick?'

'Yes,' said the collector, with a dubious shrug of his shoulders,
'He is gentlemanly, very gentlemanly--in appearance.'

'I hope you don't see anything against him, uncle?' inquired Mrs
Kenwigs.

'No, my dear,' replied the collector, 'no. I trust he may not turn
out--well--no matter--my love to you, my dear, and long life to the
baby!'

'Your namesake,' said Mrs Kenwigs, with a sweet smile.

'And I hope a worthy namesake,' observed Mr Kenwigs, willing to
propitiate the collector. 'I hope a baby as will never disgrace his
godfather, and as may be considered, in arter years, of a piece with
the Lillyvicks whose name he bears. I do say--and Mrs Kenwigs is of
the same sentiment, and feels it as strong as I do--that I consider
his being called Lillyvick one of the greatest blessings and Honours
of my existence.'

'THE greatest blessing, Kenwigs,' murmured his lady.

'THE greatest blessing,' said Mr Kenwigs, correcting himself. 'A
blessing that I hope, one of these days, I may be able to deserve.'

This was a politic stroke of the Kenwigses, because it made Mr
Lillyvick the great head and fountain of the baby's importance. The
good gentleman felt the delicacy and dexterity of the touch, and at
once proposed the health of the gentleman, name unknown, who had
signalised himself, that night, by his coolness and alacrity.

'Who, I don't mind saying,' observed Mr Lillyvick, as a great
concession, 'is a good-looking young man enough, with manners that I
hope his character may be equal to.'

'He has a very nice face and style, really,' said Mrs Kenwigs.

'He certainly has,' added Miss Petowker. 'There's something in his
appearance quite--dear, dear, what's that word again?'

'What word?' inquired Mr Lillyvick.

'Why--dear me, how stupid I am,' replied Miss Petowker, hesitating.
'What do you call it, when Lords break off door-knockers and beat
policemen, and play at coaches with other people's money, and all
that sort of thing?'

'Aristocratic?' suggested the collector.

'Ah! aristocratic,' replied Miss Petowker; 'something very
aristocratic about him, isn't there?'

The gentleman held their peace, and smiled at each other, as who
should say, 'Well! there's no accounting for tastes;' but the ladies
resolved unanimously that Nicholas had an aristocratic air; and
nobody caring to dispute the position, it was established
triumphantly.

The punch being, by this time, drunk out, and the little Kenwigses
(who had for some time previously held their little eyes open with
their little forefingers) becoming fractious, and requesting rather
urgently to be put to bed, the collector made a move by pulling out
his watch, and acquainting the company that it was nigh two o'clock;
whereat some of the guests were surprised and others shocked, and
hats and bonnets being groped for under the tables, and in course of
time found, their owners went away, after a vast deal of shaking of
hands, and many remarks how they had never spent such a delightful
evening, and how they marvelled to find it so late, expecting to
have heard that it was half-past ten at the very latest, and how
they wished that Mr and Mrs Kenwigs had a wedding-day once a week,
and how they wondered by what hidden agency Mrs Kenwigs could
possibly have managed so well; and a great deal more of the same
kind. To all of which flattering expressions, Mr and Mrs Kenwigs
replied, by thanking every lady and gentleman, SERIATIM, for the
favour of their company, and hoping they might have enjoyed
themselves only half as well as they said they had.

As to Nicholas, quite unconscious of the impression he had produced,
he had long since fallen asleep, leaving Mr Newman Noggs and Smike
to empty the spirit bottle between them; and this office they
performed with such extreme good-will, that Newman was equally at a
loss to determine whether he himself was quite sober, and whether he
had ever seen any gentleman so heavily, drowsily, and completely
intoxicated as his new acquaintance.


Charles Dickens