Nicholas Nickleby HTML version

Chapter 38
Comprises certain Particulars arising out of a Visit of Condolence, which may
prove important hereafter. Smike unexpectedly encounters a very old Friend,
who invites him to his House, and will take no Denial
Quite unconscious of the demonstrations of their amorous neighbour, or their
effects upon the susceptible bosom of her mama, Kate Nickleby had, by this
time, begun to enjoy a settled feeling of tranquillity and happiness, to which, even
in occasional and transitory glimpses, she had long been a stranger. Living under
the same roof with the beloved brother from whom she had been so suddenly
and hardly separated: with a mind at ease, and free from any persecutions which
could call a blush into her cheek, or a pang into her heart, she seemed to have
passed into a new state of being. Her former cheerfulness was restored, her step
regained its elasticity and lightness, the colour which had forsaken her cheek
visited it once again, and Kate Nickleby looked more beautiful than ever.
Such was the result to which Miss La Creevy's ruminations and observations led
her, when the cottage had been, as she emphatically said, 'thoroughly got to
rights, from the chimney- pots to the street-door scraper,' and the busy little
woman had at length a moment's time to think about its inmates.
'Which I declare I haven't had since I first came down here,' said Miss La Creevy;
'for I have thought of nothing but hammers, nails, screwdrivers, and gimlets,
morning, noon, and night.'
'You never bestowed one thought upon yourself, I believe,' returned Kate,
'Upon my word, my dear, when there are so many pleasanter things to think of, I
should be a goose if I did,' said Miss La Creevy. 'By-the-bye, I HAVE thought of
somebody too. Do you know, that I observe a great change in one of this family--
a very extraordinary change?'
'In whom?' asked Kate, anxiously. 'Not in--'
'Not in your brother, my dear,' returned Miss La Creevy, anticipating the close of
the sentence, 'for he is always the same affectionate good-natured clever
creature, with a spice of the--I won't say who--in him when there's any occasion,
that he was when I first knew you. No. Smike, as he WILL be called, poor fellow!
for he won't hear of a MR before his name, is greatly altered, even in this short
'How?' asked Kate. 'Not in health?'
'N--n--o; perhaps not in health exactly,' said Miss La Creevy, pausing to consider,
'although he is a worn and feeble creature, and has that in his face which it would
wring my heart to see in yours. No; not in health.'
'How then?'
'I scarcely know,' said the miniature painter. 'But I have watched him, and he has
brought the tears into my eyes many times. It is not a very difficult matter to do
that, certainly, for I am easily melted; still I think these came with good cause and
reason. I am sure that since he has been here, he has grown, from some strong
cause, more conscious of his weak intellect. He feels it more. It gives him greater