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Morleena Kenwigs
by [?]

Miss Morleena, approaching to do homage, was summarily caught up and kissed by Mr. Lillyvick, and thereupon Mrs. Kenwigs herself darted forward and kissed the collector, and all was forgiven and forgotten.

No further wave of trouble ruffled the feelings of the party until suddenly there came shrill and piercing screams from an upper room in which the infant Kenwigs was enshrined, guarded by a small girl hired for the purpose. Rushing to the door, Mrs. Kenwigs began to wring her hands and shriek dismally, amid which cries, and the wails of the four little girls, a stranger ran downstairs with the baby in his arms, explaining hastily that, visiting a friend in a room above, he had heard the cries, and found the baby’s guardian asleep with her hair on fire. This explanation over, the baby, who was unhurt, and who rejoiced in the name of Lillyvick Kenwigs, was instantly almost suffocated under the caresses of the audience, and squeezed to his mother’s bosom until he roared again. Then, after drinking the health of the child’s preserver, the company made the discovery that it was nigh two o’clock, whereat they took their leave, with flattering expressions of the pleasure they had enjoyed, to which Mr. and Mrs. Kenwigs replied by thanking them, and hoping they had enjoyed themselves only half as well as they said they had.

The young man, Nicholas Nickleby by name, who had rescued the baby, made such an impression upon Mrs. Kenwigs that she felt impelled to propose through the friend whom he had been visiting, that he should instruct the four little Kenwigses in the French language at the weekly stipend of five shillings; being at the rate of one shilling per week, per each Miss Kenwigs, and one shilling over until such time as the baby might be able to take it out in grammar.

This proposition was accepted with alacrity by Nicholas, who betook himself to the Kenwigs’ apartment with all speed. Here he found the four Miss Kenwigses on their form of audience, and the baby in a dwarf porter’s chair, with a deal tray before it, amusing himself with a toy horse, while Mrs. Kenwigs spoke to the little girls of the superior advantages they enjoyed above other children. “But I hope,” she said, “that that will not make them proud; but that they will bless their own good fortune which has born them superior to common people’s children. And when you go out in the streets, or elsewhere, I desire that you don’t boast of it to the other children,” continued Mrs. Kenwigs, “and that if you must say anything about it, you don’t say no more than ‘we’ve got a private master comes to teach us at home, but we ain’t proud, because Ma says its sinful,’ Do you hear, Morleena?”

Upon the eldest Miss Kenwigs replying meekly that she did, permission was conceded for the lesson to commence, and accordingly the four Miss Kenwigses again arranged themselves upon their form, in a row, with their tails all one way, while Nicholas Nickleby began his preliminary explanations.

Some months after this, the Kenwigses were thrown into a fever of rage and disappointment, by receiving the cruel news of their Uncle Lillyvick’s marriage, which blow was a terrible one to Mrs. Kenwigs, blighting her hopes for her children’s future. After weeping and wailing in the most agonized fashion, Mrs. Kenwigs drew herself up in proud defiance, and denounced her uncle in terms direct and plain, stating that he should never again darken her doors. In this terrible state of affairs, it remained for Morleena of the flaxen tails, to bring about a family re-union, and in this way:

It had come to pass that she had received an invitation to repair next day, per steamer from Westminster bridge, unto the Eel-Pie Island at Twickenham, there to make merry upon a cold collation, and to dance in the open air to the music of a locomotive band; the steamer having been engaged by a dancing-master for his numerous pupils, one of whom had extended an invitation to Miss Morleena, and Mrs. Kenwigs rightly deemed the honor of the family was involved in her daughter making the most splendid appearance possible. Now, between the Italian-ironing of frills, the flouncing of trousers, the trimming of frocks, the faintings from overwork and the comings-to again, incidental to the occasion, Mrs. Kenwigs had been so entirely occupied, that she had not observed, until within half an hour before, that the flaxen tails of Miss Morleena were in a manner, run to seed; and that unless she were put under the hands of a skilful hairdresser she never could achieve that signal triumph over the daughters of all other people, anything less than which would be tantamount to defeat. This discovery drove Mrs. Kenwigs to despair, for the hairdresser lived three streets and eight dangerous crossings off, and there was nobody to take her. So Mrs. Kenwigs first slapped Miss Kenwigs for being the cause of her vexation, and then shed tears.