Nicholas Nickleby HTML version

Chapter 39
In which another old Friend encounters Smike, very opportunely and to some
The night, fraught with so much bitterness to one poor soul, had given place to a
bright and cloudless summer morning, when a north- country mail-coach
traversed, with cheerful noise, the yet silent streets of Islington, and, giving brisk
note of its approach with the lively winding of the guard's horn, clattered onward
to its halting-place hard by the Post Office.
The only outside passenger was a burly, honest-looking countryman on the box,
who, with his eyes fixed upon the dome of St Paul's Cathedral, appeared so
wrapt in admiring wonder, as to be quite insensible to all the bustle of getting out
the bags and parcels, until one of the coach windows being let sharply down, he
looked round, and encountered a pretty female face which was just then thrust
'See there, lass!' bawled the countryman, pointing towards the object of his
admiration. 'There be Paul's Church. 'Ecod, he be a soizable 'un, he be.'
'Goodness, John! I shouldn't have thought it could have been half the size. What
a monster!'
'Monsther!--Ye're aboot right theer, I reckon, Mrs Browdie,' said the countryman
good-humouredly, as he came slowly down in his huge top-coat; 'and wa'at dost
thee tak yon place to be noo--thot'un owor the wa'? Ye'd never coom near it 'gin
you thried for twolve moonths. It's na' but a Poast Office! Ho! ho! They need to
charge for dooble-latthers. A Poast Office! Wa'at dost thee think o' thot? 'Ecod, if
thot's on'y a Poast Office, I'd loike to see where the Lord Mayor o' Lunnun lives.'
So saying, John Browdie--for he it was--opened the coach-door, and tapping Mrs
Browdie, late Miss Price, on the cheek as he looked in, burst into a boisterous fit
of laughter.
'Weel!' said John. 'Dang my bootuns if she bean't asleep agean!'
'She's been asleep all night, and was, all yesterday, except for a minute or two
now and then,' replied John Browdie's choice, 'and I was very sorry when she
woke, for she has been SO cross!'
The subject of these remarks was a slumbering figure, so muffled in shawl and
cloak, that it would have been matter of impossibility to guess at its sex but for a
brown beaver bonnet and green veil which ornamented the head, and which,
having been crushed and flattened, for two hundred and fifty miles, in that
particular angle of the vehicle from which the lady's snores now proceeded,
presented an appearance sufficiently ludicrous to have moved less risible
muscles than those of John Browdie's ruddy face.
'Hollo!' cried John, twitching one end of the dragged veil. 'Coom, wakken oop, will
After several burrowings into the old corner, and many exclamations of
impatience and fatigue, the figure struggled into a sitting posture; and there,
under a mass of crumpled beaver, and surrounded by a semicircle of blue curl-
papers, were the delicate features of Miss Fanny Squeers.