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The old butler received them with profound respect and many
smiles, and ushered them into the drawing-room, where they were
received by the brothers with so much cordiality and kindness
that Mrs Nickleby was quite in a flutter, and had scarcely presence
of mind enough, even to patronise Miss La Creevy. Kate was still
more affected by the reception: for, knowing that the brothers
were acquainted with all that had passed between her and Frank,
she felt her position a most delicate and trying one, and was
trembling on the arm of Nicholas, when Mr Charles took her in
his, and led her to another part of the room.
‘Have you seen Madeline, my dear,’ he said, ‘since she left your
‘No, sir!’ replied Kate. ‘Not once.’
‘And not heard from her, eh? Not heard from her?’
‘I have only had one letter,’ rejoined Kate, gently. ‘I thought she
would not have forgotten me quite so soon.’
‘Ah,’ said the old man, patting her on the head, and speaking as
affectionately as if she had been his favourite child. ‘Poor dear!
what do you think of this, brother Ned? Madeline has only written
to her once, only once, Ned, and she didn’t think she would have
forgotten her quite so soon, Ned.’
‘Oh! sad, sad; very sad!’ said Ned.
The brothers interchanged a glance, and looking at Kate for a
little time without speaking, shook hands, and nodded as if they
were congratulating each other on something very delightful.
‘Well, well,’ said brother Charles, ‘go into that room, my dear--
that door yonder--and see if there’s not a letter for you from her. I
think there’s one upon the table. You needn’t hurry back, my love,