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pleased herself, and did no harm. If she indulged in scandal,
nobody’s reputation suffered; and if she enjoyed a little bit of
revenge, no living soul was one atom the worse. One of the many
to whom, from straitened circumstances, a consequent inability to
form the associations they would wish, and a disinclination to mix
with the society they could obtain, London is as complete a
solitude as the plains of Syria, the humble artist had pursued her
lonely, but contented way for many years; and, until the peculiar
misfortunes of the Nickleby family attracted her attention, had
made no friends, though brimful of the friendliest feelings to all
mankind. There are many warm hearts in the same solitary guise
as poor little Miss La Creevy’s.

However, that’s neither here nor there, just now. She went
home to breakfast, and had scarcely caught the full flavour of her
first sip of tea, when the servant announced a gentleman, whereat
Miss La Creevy, at once imagining a new sitter transfixed by
admiration at the street-door case, was in unspeakable
consternation at the presence of the tea-things.

‘Here, take ’em away; run with ’em into the bedroom;
anywhere,’ said Miss La Creevy. ‘Dear, dear; to think that I should
be late on this particular morning, of all others, after being ready
for three weeks by half-past eight o’clock, and not a soul coming
near the place!’

‘Don’t let me put you out of the way,’ said a voice Miss La
Creevy knew. ‘I told the servant not to mention my name, because
I wished to surprise you.’

‘Mr Nicholas!’ cried Miss La Creevy, starting in great
astonishment. ‘You have not forgotten me, I see,’ replied Nicholas,
extending his hand.

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