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CHAPTER 23: Treats of the Company of Mr Vincent Crummles... (continued)
'Certainly,' replied Nicholas: devoutly hoping that it would be a very long time before he was honoured with this distinction.
'Then I'll tell you what we'll do,' said Mr Crummles. 'You shall study Romeo when you've done that piece--don't forget to throw the pump and tubs in by-the-bye--Juliet Miss Snevellicci, old Grudden the nurse.--Yes, that'll do very well. Rover too;--you might get up Rover while you were about it, and Cassio, and Jeremy Diddler. You can easily knock them off; one part helps the other so much. Here they are, cues and all.'
With these hasty general directions Mr Crummles thrust a number of little books into the faltering hands of Nicholas, and bidding his eldest son go with him and show where lodgings were to be had, shook him by the hand, and wished him good night.
There is no lack of comfortable furnished apartments in Portsmouth, and no difficulty in finding some that are proportionate to very slender finances; but the former were too good, and the latter too bad, and they went into so many houses, and came out unsuited, that Nicholas seriously began to think he should be obliged to ask permission to spend the night in the theatre, after all.
Eventually, however, they stumbled upon two small rooms up three pair of stairs, or rather two pair and a ladder, at a tobacconist's shop, on the Common Hard: a dirty street leading down to the dockyard. These Nicholas engaged, only too happy to have escaped any request for payment of a week's rent beforehand.
'There! Lay down our personal property, Smike,' he said, after showing young Crummles downstairs. 'We have fallen upon strange times, and Heaven only knows the end of them; but I am tired with the events of these three days, and will postpone reflection till tomorrow--if I can.'
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