In which Mr Ralph Nickleby is relieved, by a very expeditious Process, from all
Commerce with his Relations
Smike and Newman Noggs, who in his impatience had returned home long
before the time agreed upon, sat before the fire, listening anxiously to every
footstep on the stairs, and the slightest sound that stirred within the house, for
the approach of Nicholas. Time had worn on, and it was growing late. He had
promised to be back in an hour; and his prolonged absence began to excite
considerable alarm in the minds of both, as was abundantly testified by the blank
looks they cast upon each other at every new disappointment.
At length a coach was heard to stop, and Newman ran out to light Nicholas up
the stairs. Beholding him in the trim described at the conclusion of the last
chapter, he stood aghast in wonder and consternation.
'Don't be alarmed,' said Nicholas, hurrying him back into the room. 'There is no
harm done, beyond what a basin of water can repair.'
'No harm!' cried Newman, passing his hands hastily over the back and arms of
Nicholas, as if to assure himself that he had broken no bones. 'What have you
'I know all,' interrupted Nicholas; 'I have heard a part, and guessed the rest. But
before I remove one jot of these stains, I must hear the whole from you. You see
I am collected. My resolution is taken. Now, my good friend, speak out; for the
time for any palliation or concealment is past, and nothing will avail Ralph
'Your dress is torn in several places; you walk lame, and I am sure you are
suffering pain,' said Newman. 'Let me see to your hurts first.'
'I have no hurts to see to, beyond a little soreness and stiffness that will soon
pass off,' said Nicholas, seating himself with some difficulty. 'But if I had fractured
every limb, and still preserved my senses, you should not bandage one till you
had told me what I have the right to know. Come,' said Nicholas, giving his hand
to Noggs. 'You had a sister of your own, you told me once, who died before you
fell into misfortune. Now think of her, and tell me, Newman.'
'Yes, I will, I will,' said Noggs. 'I'll tell you the whole truth.'
Newman did so. Nicholas nodded his head from time to time, as it corroborated
the particulars he had already gleaned; but he fixed his eyes upon the fire, and
did not look round once.
His recital ended, Newman insisted upon his young friend's stripping off his coat
and allowing whatever injuries he had received to be properly tended. Nicholas,
after some opposition, at length consented, and, while some pretty severe
bruises on his arms and shoulders were being rubbed with oil and vinegar, and
various other efficacious remedies which Newman borrowed from the different
lodgers, related in what manner they had been received. The recital made a
strong impression on the warm imagination of Newman; for when Nicholas came
to the violent part of the quarrel, he rubbed so hard, as to occasion him the most
exquisite pain, which he would not have exhibited, however, for the world, it