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CHAPTER 19: Descriptive of a Dinner at Mr Ralph Nickleby's...
Descriptive of a Dinner at Mr Ralph Nickleby's, and of the Manner in which the Company entertained themselves, before Dinner, at Dinner, and after Dinner.
The bile and rancour of the worthy Miss Knag undergoing no diminution during the remainder of the week, but rather augmenting with every successive hour; and the honest ire of all the young ladies rising, or seeming to rise, in exact proportion to the good spinster's indignation, and both waxing very hot every time Miss Nickleby was called upstairs; it will be readily imagined that that young lady's daily life was none of the most cheerful or enviable kind. She hailed the arrival of Saturday night, as a prisoner would a few delicious hours' respite from slow and wearing torture, and felt that the poor pittance for her first week's labour would have been dearly and hardly earned, had its amount been trebled.
When she joined her mother, as usual, at the street corner, she was not a little surprised to find her in conversation with Mr Ralph Nickleby; but her surprise was soon redoubled, no less by the matter of their conversation, than by the smoothed and altered manner of Mr Nickleby himself.
'Ah! my dear!' said Ralph; 'we were at that moment talking about you.'
'Indeed!' replied Kate, shrinking, though she scarce knew why, from her uncle's cold glistening eye.
'That instant,' said Ralph. 'I was coming to call for you, making sure to catch you before you left; but your mother and I have been talking over family affairs, and the time has slipped away so rapidly--'
'Well, now, hasn't it?' interposed Mrs Nickleby, quite insensible to the sarcastic tone of Ralph's last remark. 'Upon my word, I couldn't have believed it possible, that such a--Kate, my dear, you're to dine with your uncle at half-past six o'clock tomorrow.'
Triumphing in having been the first to communicate this extraordinary intelligence, Mrs Nickleby nodded and smiled a great many times, to impress its full magnificence on Kate's wondering mind, and then flew off, at an acute angle, to a committee of ways and means.
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