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almost on my bended knees, to that poor good soul, “Why don’t
you do something, Nicholas? Why don’t you make some
arrangement?” I am sure that anybody who was about us at that
time, will do me the justice to own, that if I said that once, I said it
fifty times a day. Didn’t I, Kate, my dear? Did I ever lose an
opportunity of impressing it on your poor papa?’

‘No, no, mama, never,’ replied Kate. And to do Mrs Nickleby
justice, she never had lost--and to do married ladies as a body
justice, they seldom do lose--any occasion of inculcating similar
golden percepts, whose only blemish is, the slight degree of
vagueness and uncertainty in which they are usually enveloped.

‘Ah!’ said Mrs Nickleby, with great fervour, ‘if my advice had
been taken at the beginning--Well, I have always done MY duty,
and that’s some comfort.’

When she had arrived at this reflection, Mrs Nickleby sighed,
rubbed her hands, cast up her eyes, and finally assumed a look of
meek composure; thus importing that she was a persecuted saint,
but that she wouldn’t trouble her hearers by mentioning a
circumstance which must be so obvious to everybody.

‘Now,’ said Ralph, with a smile, which, in common with all
other tokens of emotion, seemed to skulk under his face, rather
than play boldly over it--’ to return to the point from which we
have strayed. I have a little party of--of--gentlemen with whom I
am connected in business just now, at my house tomorrow; and
your mother has promised that you shall keep house for me. I am
not much used to parties; but this is one of business, and such
fooleries are an important part of it sometimes. You don’t mind
obliging me?’

‘Mind!’ cried Mrs Nickleby. ‘My dear Kate, why--’

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