Now, do, my dear!'
Five minutes after this honest and straightforward speech, little Miss La Creevy and Tim were talking as pleasantly as if they had been married for a score of years, and had never once quarrelled all the time; and five minutes after that, when Miss La Creevy had bustled out to see if her eyes were red and put her hair to rights, Tim moved with a stately step towards the drawing-room, exclaiming as he went, 'There an't such another woman in all London! I KNOW there an't!'
By this time, the apoplectic butler was nearly in fits, in consequence of the unheard-of postponement of dinner. Nicholas, who had been engaged in a manner in which every reader may imagine for himself or herself, was hurrying downstairs in obedience to his angry summons, when he encountered a new surprise.
On his way down, he overtook, in one of the passages, a stranger genteelly dressed in black, who was also moving towards the dining-room. As he was rather lame, and walked slowly, Nicholas lingered behind, and was following him step by step, wondering who he was, when he suddenly turned round and caught him by both hands.
'Newman Noggs!' cried Nicholas joyfully
'Ah! Newman, your own Newman, your own old faithful Newman! My dear boy, my dear Nick, I give you joy--health, happiness, every blessing! I can't bear it--it's too much, my dear boy--it makes a child of me!'
'Where have you been?' said Nicholas. 'What have you been doing? How often have I inquired for you, and been told that I should hear before long!'
'I know, I know!' returned Newman. 'They wanted all the happiness to come together. I've been helping 'em. I--I--look at me, Nick, look at me!'
'You would never let ME do that,' said Nicholas in a tone of gentle reproach.
'I didn't mind what I was, then. I shouldn't have had the heart to put on gentleman's clothes. They would have reminded me of old times and made me miserable. I am another man now, Nick. My dear boy, I can't speak. Don't say anything to me. Don't think the worse of me for these tears. You don't know what I feel today; you can't, and never will!'
They walked in to dinner arm-in-arm, and sat down side by side.
Never was such a dinner as that, since the world began. There was the superannuated bank clerk, Tim Linkinwater's friend; and there was the chubby old lady, Tim Linkinwater's sister; and there was so much attention from Tim Linkinwater's sister to Miss La Creevy, and there were so many jokes from the superannuated bank clerk, and Tim Linkinwater himself was in such tiptop spirits, and little Miss La Creevy was in such a comical state, that of themselves they would have composed the pleasantest party conceivable. Then, there was Mrs Nickleby, so grand and complacent; Madeline and Kate, so blushing and beautiful; Nicholas and Frank, so devoted and proud; and all four so silently and tremblingly happy; there was Newman so subdued yet so overjoyed, and there were the twin brothers so delighted and interchanging such looks, that the old servant stood transfixed behind his master's chair, and felt his eyes grow dim as they wandered round the table.
When the first novelty of the meeting had worn off, and they began truly to feel how happy they were, the conversation became more general, and the harmony and pleasure if possible increased. The brothers were in a perfect ecstasy; and their insisting on saluting the ladies all round, before they would permit them to retire, gave occasion to the superannuated bank clerk to say so many good things, that he quite outshone himself, and was looked upon as a prodigy of humour.
'Kate, my dear,' said Mrs Nickleby, taking her daughter aside, as soon as they got upstairs, 'you don't really mean to tell me that this is actually true about Miss La Creevy and Mr Linkinwater?'
'Indeed it is, mama.