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Kate was confused; she toyed with some trifle on the table,
looked up and smiled, looked down and dropped a tear.
‘Why, Kate,’ said Nicholas, drawing his sister towards him and
kissing her, ‘let me see your face. No? Ah! that was but a glimpse;
that’s scarcely fair. A longer look than that, Kate. Come--and I’ll
read your thoughts for you.’
There was something in this proposition, albeit it was said
without the slightest consciousness or application, which so
alarmed his sister, that Nicholas laughingly changed the subject to
domestic matters, and thus gathered, by degrees, as they left the
room and went upstairs together, how lonely Smike had been all
night--and by very slow degrees, too; for on this subject also, Kate
seemed to speak with some reluctance.
‘Poor fellow,’ said Nicholas, tapping gently at his door, ‘what
can be the cause of all this?’
Kate was hanging on her brother’s arm. The door being quickly
opened, she had not time to disengage herself, before Smike, very
pale and haggard, and completely dressed, confronted them.
‘And have you not been to bed?’ said Nicholas.
‘N-n-no,’ was the reply.
Nicholas gently detained his sister, who made an effort to
retire; and asked, ‘Why not?’
‘I could not sleep,’ said Smike, grasping the hand which his
friend extended to him.
‘You are not well?’ rejoined Nicholas.
‘I am better, indeed. A great deal better,’ said Smike quickly.
‘Then why do you give way to these fits of melancholy?’
inquired Nicholas, in his kindest manner; ‘or why not tell us the
cause? You grow a different creature, Smike.’