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she had scarcely done, and seated herself with looks as collected
as she could assume, when two gentlemen, both perfect strangers,
‘How do you do?’ said one gentleman, laying great stress on the
last word of the inquiry.
‘How do you do?’ said the other gentleman, altering the
emphasis, as if to give variety to the salutation.
Mrs Nickleby curtseyed and smiled, and curtseyed again, and
remarked, rubbing her hands as she did so, that she hadn’t the--
really--the honour to--
‘To know us,’ said the first gentleman. ‘The loss has been ours,
Mrs Nickleby. Has the loss been ours, Pyke?’
‘It has, Pluck,’ answered the other gentleman.
‘We have regretted it very often, I believe, Pyke?’ said the first
‘Very often, Pluck,’ answered the second.
‘But now,’ said the first gentleman, ‘now we have the happiness
we have pined and languished for. Have we pined and languished
for this happiness, Pyke, or have we not?’
‘You know we have, Pluck,’ said Pyke, reproachfully.
‘You hear him, ma’am?’ said Mr Pluck, looking round; ‘you
hear the unimpeachable testimony of my friend Pyke--that
reminds me,--formalities, formalities, must not be neglected in
civilised society. Pyke--Mrs Nickleby.’
Mr Pyke laid his hand upon his heart, and bowed low.
‘Whether I shall introduce myself with the same formality,’ said
Mr Pluck--‘whether I shall say myself that my name is Pluck, or
whether I shall ask my friend Pyke (who being now regularly
introduced, is competent to the office) to state for me, Mrs