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‘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

‘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.

‘Let me see,’ said the good lady. ‘Your black silk frock will be
quite dress enough, my dear, with that pretty little scarf, and a
plain band in your hair, and a pair of black silk stock--Dear, dear,’
cried Mrs Nickleby, flying off at another angle, ‘if I had but those
unfortunate amethysts of mine--you recollect them, Kate, my
love--how they used to sparkle, you know--but your papa, your
poor dear papa--ah! there never was anything so cruelly
sacrificed as those jewels were, never!’ Overpowered by this
agonising thought, Mrs Nickleby shook her head, in a melancholy
manner, and applied her handkerchief to her eyes.

I don’t want them, mama, indeed,’ said Kate. ‘Forget that you
ever had them.’

‘Lord, Kate, my dear,’ rejoined Mrs Nickleby, pettishly, ‘how
like a child you talk! Four-and-twenty silver tea-spoons, brother-
in-law, two gravies, four salts, all the amethysts--necklace, brooch,
and ear-rings--all made away with, at the same time, and I saying,

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