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himself--which it is quite frightful to think of. Somehow or other,’
added Mrs Nickleby, after a momentary pause, ‘they always are
journeyman shoemakers who do these things in France, according
to the papers. I don’t know how it is--something in the leather, I

‘But this man, who is not a shoemaker--what has he done,
mother, what has he said?’ inquired Nicholas, fretted almost
beyond endurance, but looking nearly as resigned and patient as
Mrs Nickleby herself. ‘You know, there is no language of
vegetables, which converts a cucumber into a formal declaration
of attachment.’

‘My dear,’ replied Mrs Nickleby, tossing her head and looking at
the ashes in the grate, ‘he has done and said all sorts of things.’

‘Is there no mistake on your part?’ asked Nicholas.
‘Mistake!’ cried Mrs Nickleby. ‘Lord, Nicholas my dear, do you
suppose I don’t know when a man’s in earnest?’

‘Well, well!’ muttered Nicholas.
‘Every time I go to the window,’ said Mrs Nickleby, ‘he kisses
one hand, and lays the other upon his heart--of course it’s very
foolish of him to do so, and I dare say you’ll say it’s very wrong,
but he does it very respectfully--very respectfully indeed--and
very tenderly, extremely tenderly. So far, he deserves the greatest
credit; there can be no doubt about that. Then, there are the
presents which come pouring over the wall every day, and very
fine they certainly are, very fine; we had one of the cucumbers at
dinner yesterday, and think of pickling the rest for next winter.
And last evening,’ added Mrs Nickleby, with increased confusion,
‘he called gently over the wall, as I was walking in the garden, and
proposed marriage, and an elopement. His voice is as clear as a

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