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all she knows. Mrs Crummles was the original Blood Drinker.’

‘Was she, indeed?’
‘Yes. She was obliged to give it up though.’
‘Did it disagree with her?’ asked Nicholas.
‘Not so much with her, as with her audiences,’ replied Mr
Crummles. ‘Nobody could stand it. It was too tremendous. You
don’t quite know what Mrs Crummles is yet.’

Nicholas ventured to insinuate that he thought he did.
‘No, no, you don’t,’ said Mr Crummles; ‘you don’t, indeed. I
don’t, and that’s a fact. I don’t think her country will, till she is
dead. Some new proof of talent bursts from that astonishing
woman every year of her life. Look at her--mother of six
children--three of ’em alive, and all upon the stage!’

‘Extraordinary!’ cried Nicholas.
‘Ah! extraordinary indeed,’ rejoined Mr Crummles, taking a
complacent pinch of snuff, and shaking his head gravely. ‘I pledge
you my professional word I didn’t even know she could dance, till
her last benefit, and then she played Juliet, and Helen Macgregor,
and did the skipping-rope hornpipe between the pieces. The very
first time I saw that admirable woman, Johnson,’ said Mr
Crummles, drawing a little nearer, and speaking in the tone of
confidential friendship, ‘she stood upon her head on the butt-end
of a spear, surrounded with blazing fireworks.’

‘You astonish me!’ said Nicholas.
‘SHE astonished ME!’ returned Mr Crummles, with a very
serious countenance. ‘Such grace, coupled with such dignity! I
adored her from that moment!’

The arrival of the gifted subject of these remarks put an abrupt
termination to Mr Crummles’s eulogium. Almost immediately

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