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general entertainment, Mr Crowl drew a chair to the table as he
spoke, and helping himself plentifully to the cold meat, invited
Nicholas and Smike to follow his example.
Disappointed and uneasy, Nicholas could touch no food, so,
after he had seen Smike comfortably established at the table, he
walked out (despite a great many dissuasions uttered by Mr Crowl
with his mouth full), and left Smike to detain Newman in case he
As Miss La Creevy had anticipated, Nicholas betook himself
straight to her house. Finding her from home, he debated within
himself for some time whether he should go to his mother’s
residence, and so compromise her with Ralph Nickleby. Fully
persuaded, however, that Newman would not have solicited him to
return unless there was some strong reason which required his
presence at home, he resolved to go there, and hastened eastwards
with all speed.
Mrs Nickleby would not be at home, the girl said, until past
twelve, or later. She believed Miss Nickleby was well, but she
didn’t live at home now, nor did she come home except very
seldom. She couldn’t say where she was stopping, but it was not at
Madame Mantalini’s. She was sure of that.
With his heart beating violently, and apprehending he knew not
what disaster, Nicholas returned to where he had left Smike.
Newman had not been home. He wouldn’t be, till twelve o’clock;
there was no chance of it. Was there no possibility of sending to
fetch him if it were only for an instant, or forwarding to him one
line of writing to which he might return a verbal reply? That was
quite impracticable. He was not at Golden Square, and probably
had been sent to execute some commission at a distance.