Nicholas Nickleby HTML version

Chapter 26
Is fraught with some Danger to Miss Nickleby's Peace of Mind
The place was a handsome suite of private apartments in Regent Street; the time
was three o'clock in the afternoon to the dull and plodding, and the first hour of
morning to the gay and spirited; the persons were Lord Frederick Verisopht, and
his friend Sir Mulberry Hawk.
These distinguished gentlemen were reclining listlessly on a couple of sofas, with
a table between them, on which were scattered in rich confusion the materials of
an untasted breakfast. Newspapers lay strewn about the room, but these, like the
meal, were neglected and unnoticed; not, however, because any flow of
conversation prevented the attractions of the journals from being called into
request, for not a word was exchanged between the two, nor was any sound
uttered, save when one, in tossing about to find an easier resting-place for his
aching head, uttered an exclamation of impatience, and seemed for a moment to
communicate a new restlessness to his companion.
These appearances would in themselves have furnished a pretty strong clue to
the extent of the debauch of the previous night, even if there had not been other
indications of the amusements in which it had been passed. A couple of billiard
balls, all mud and dirt, two battered hats, a champagne bottle with a soiled glove
twisted round the neck, to allow of its being grasped more surely in its capacity of
an offensive weapon; a broken cane; a card-case without the top; an empty
purse; a watch-guard snapped asunder; a handful of silver, mingled with
fragments of half-smoked cigars, and their stale and crumbled ashes;--these, and
many other tokens of riot and disorder, hinted very intelligibly at the nature of last
night's gentlemanly frolics.
Lord Frederick Verisopht was the first to speak. Dropping his slippered foot on
the ground, and, yawning heavily, he struggled into a sitting posture, and turned
his dull languid eyes towards his friend, to whom he called in a drowsy voice.
'Hallo!' replied Sir Mulberry, turning round.
'Are we going to lie here all da-a-y?' said the lord.
'I don't know that we're fit for anything else,' replied Sir Mulberry; 'yet awhile, at
least. I haven't a grain of life in me this morning.'
'Life!' cried Lord Verisopht. 'I feel as if there would be nothing so snug and
comfortable as to die at once.'
'Then why don't you die?' said Sir Mulberry.
With which inquiry he turned his face away, and seemed to occupy himself in an
attempt to fall asleep.
His hopeful fiend and pupil drew a chair to the breakfast-table, and essayed to
eat; but, finding that impossible, lounged to the window, then loitered up and
down the room with his hand to his fevered head, and finally threw himself again
on his sofa, and roused his friend once more.
'What the devil's the matter?' groaned Sir Mulberry, sitting upright on the couch.
Although Sir Mulberry said this with sufficient ill-humour, he did not seem to feel
himself quite at liberty to remain silent; for, after stretching himself very often, and