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Chapter 65

CHAPTER 65

Conclusion


When her term of mourning had expired, Madeline gave her hand and
fortune to Nicholas; and, on the same day and at the same time, Kate
became Mrs Frank Cheeryble. It was expected that Tim Linkinwater
and Miss La Creevy would have made a third couple on the occasion,
but they declined, and two or three weeks afterwards went out
together one morning before breakfast, and, coming back with merry
faces, were found to have been quietly married that day.

The money which Nicholas acquired in right of his wife he invested
in the firm of Cheeryble Brothers, in which Frank had become a
partner. Before many years elapsed, the business began to be
carried on in the names of 'Cheeryble and Nickleby,' so that Mrs
Nickleby's prophetic anticipations were realised at last.

The twin brothers retired. Who needs to be told that THEY were
happy? They were surrounded by happiness of their own creation, and
lived but to increase it.

Tim Linkinwater condescended, after much entreaty and brow-beating,
to accept a share in the house; but he could never be prevailed upon
to suffer the publication of his name as a partner, and always
persisted in the punctual and regular discharge of his clerkly
duties.

He and his wife lived in the old house, and occupied the very
bedchamber in which he had slept for four-and-forty years. As his
wife grew older, she became even a more cheerful and light-hearted
little creature; and it was a common saying among their friends,
that it was impossible to say which looked the happier, Tim as he
sat calmly smiling in his elbow-chair on one side of the fire, or
his brisk little wife chatting and laughing, and constantly bustling
in and out of hers, on the other.

Dick, the blackbird, was removed from the counting-house and
promoted to a warm corner in the common sitting-room. Beneath his
cage hung two miniatures, of Mrs Linkinwater's execution; one
representing herself, and the other Tim; and both smiling very hard
at all beholders. Tim's head being powdered like a twelfth cake,
and his spectacles copied with great nicety, strangers detected a
close resemblance to him at the first glance, and this leading them
to suspect that the other must be his wife, and emboldening them to
say so without scruple, Mrs Linkinwater grew very proud of these
achievements in time, and considered them among the most successful
likenesses she had ever painted. Tim had the profoundest faith in
them, likewise; for on this, as on all other subjects, they held but
one opinion; and if ever there were a 'comfortable couple' in the
world, it was Mr and Mrs Linkinwater.

Ralph, having died intestate, and having no relations but those with
whom he had lived in such enmity, they would have become in legal
course his heirs. But they could not bear the thought of growing
rich on money so acquired, and felt as though they could never hope
to prosper with it. They made no claim to his wealth; and the
riches for which he had toiled all his days, and burdened his soul
with so many evil deeds, were swept at last into the coffers of the
state, and no man was the better or the happier for them.

Arthur Gride was tried for the unlawful possession of the will,
which he had either procured to be stolen, or had dishonestly
acquired and retained by other means as bad. By dint of an
ingenious counsel, and a legal flaw, he escaped; but only to undergo
a worse punishment; for, some years afterwards, his house was broken
open in the night by robbers, tempted by the rumours of his great
wealth, and he was found murdered in his bed.

Mrs Sliderskew went beyond the seas at nearly the same time as Mr
Squeers, and in the course of nature never returned. Brooker died
penitent. Sir Mulberry Hawk lived abroad for some years, courted
and caressed, and in high repute as a fine dashing fellow.
Ultimately, returning to this country, he was thrown into jail for
debt, and there perished miserably, as such high spirits generally
do.

The first act of Nicholas, when he became a rich and prosperous
merchant, was to buy his father's old house. As time crept on, and
there came gradually about him a group of lovely children, it was
altered and enlarged; but none of the old rooms were ever pulled
down, no old tree was ever rooted up, nothing with which there was
any association of bygone times was ever removed or changed.

Within a stone's throw was another retreat, enlivened by children's
pleasant voices too; and here was Kate, with many new cares and
occupations, and many new faces courting her sweet smile (and one so
like her own, that to her mother she seemed a child again), the same
true gentle creature, the same fond sister, the same in the love of
all about her, as in her girlish days.

Mrs Nickleby lived, sometimes with her daughter, and sometimes with
her son, accompanying one or other of them to London at those
periods when the cares of business obliged both families to reside
there, and always preserving a great appearance of dignity, and
relating her experiences (especially on points connected with the
management and bringing-up of children) with much solemnity and
importance. It was a very long time before she could be induced to
receive Mrs Linkinwater into favour, and it is even doubtful whether
she ever thoroughly forgave her.

There was one grey-haired, quiet, harmless gentleman, who, winter
and summer, lived in a little cottage hard by Nicholas's house, and,
when he was not there, assumed the superintendence of affairs. His
chief pleasure and delight was in the children, with whom he was a
child himself, and master of the revels. The little people could do
nothing without dear Newman Noggs.

The grass was green above the dead boy's grave, and trodden by feet
so small and light, that not a daisy drooped its head beneath their
pressure. Through all the spring and summertime, garlands of fresh
flowers, wreathed by infant hands, rested on the stone; and, when
the children came to change them lest they should wither and be
pleasant to him no longer, their eyes filled with tears, and they
spoke low and softly of their poor dead cousin.

Charles Dickens