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other out of blue and brown skies, and an elegantly written card of
terms with an embossed border.

Mr Nickleby glanced at these frivolities with great contempt,
and gave a double knock, which, having been thrice repeated, was
answered by a servant girl with an uncommonly dirty face.

‘Is Mrs Nickleby at home, girl?’ demanded Ralph sharply.
‘Her name ain’t Nickleby,’ said the girl, ‘La Creevy, you mean.’
Mr Nickleby looked very indignant at the handmaid on being
thus corrected, and demanded with much asperity what she
meant; which she was about to state, when a female voice
proceeding from a perpendicular staircase at the end of the
passage, inquired who was wanted.

‘Mrs Nickleby,’ said Ralph.
‘It’s the second floor, Hannah,’ said the same voice; ‘what a
stupid thing you are! Is the second floor at home?’

‘Somebody went out just now, but I think it was the attic which
had been a cleaning of himself,’ replied the girl.

‘You had better see,’ said the invisible female. ‘Show the
gentleman where the bell is, and tell him he mustn’t knock double
knocks for the second floor; I can’t allow a knock except when the
bell’s broke, and then it must be two single ones.’

‘Here,’ said Ralph, walking in without more parley, ‘I beg your
pardon; is that Mrs La what’s-her-name?’

‘Creevy--La Creevy,’ replied the voice, as a yellow head-dress
bobbed over the banisters.

‘I’ll speak to you a moment, ma’am, with your leave,’ said

The voice replied that the gentleman was to walk up; but he
had walked up before it spoke, and stepping into the first floor,

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