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Nicholas waited to the last to give his little presents. When he
had said goodbye all round and came to Mr Crummles, he could
not but mark the difference between their present separation and
their parting at Portsmouth. Not a jot of his theatrical manner
remained; he put out his hand with an air which, if he could have
summoned it at will, would have made him the best actor of his
day in homely parts, and when Nicholas shook it with the warmth
he honestly felt, appeared thoroughly melted.

‘We were a very happy little company, Johnson,’ said poor
Crummles. ‘You and I never had a word. I shall be very glad
tomorrow morning to think that I saw you again, but now I almost
wish you hadn’t come.’

Nicholas was about to return a cheerful reply, when he was
greatly disconcerted by the sudden apparition of Mrs Grudden,
who it seemed had declined to attend the supper in order that she
might rise earlier in the morning, and who now burst out of an
adjoining bedroom, habited in very extraordinary white robes; and
throwing her arms about his neck, hugged him with great

‘What! Are you going too?’ said Nicholas, submitting with as
good a grace as if she had been the finest young creature in the

‘Going?’ returned Mrs Grudden. ‘Lord ha’ mercy, what do you
think they’d do without me?’

Nicholas submitted to another hug with even a better grace
than before, if that were possible, and waving his hat as cheerfully
as he could, took farewell of the Vincent Crummleses.

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