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Dombey and Son

by Charles Dickens

CONTENTS

1. Dombey and Son
2. In which Timely Provision is made for an Emergency that
will sometimes arise in the best-regulated Families
3. In which Mr Dombeyas a Man and a Fatheris seen at the
Head of the Home-Department
4. In which some more First Appearances are made on the
Stage of these Adventures
5. Paul's Progress and Christening
6. Paul's Second Deprivation
7. A Bird's-eye Glimpse of Miss Tox's Dwelling-place; also
of the State of Miss Tox's Affections
8. Paul's further ProgressGrowthand Character
9. In which the Wooden Midshipman gets into Trouble
10. Containing the Sequel of the Midshipman's Disaster
11. Paul's Introduction to a New Scene
12. Paul's Education
13. Shipping Intelligence and Office Business
14. Paul grows more and more Old-fashionedand goes Home
for the holidays
15. Amazing Artfulness of Captain Cuttleand a new Pursuit
for Walter Gay
16. What the Waves were always saying
17. Captain Cuttle does a little Business for the Young people
18. Father and Daughter
19. Walter goes away
20. Mr Dombey goes upon a journey
21. New Faces
22. A Trifle of Management by Mr Carker the Manager
23. Florence solitaryand the Midshipman mysterious
24. The Study of a Loving Heart
25. Strange News of Uncle Sol
26. Shadows of the Past and Future
27. Deeper shadows
28. Alterations
29. The Opening of the Eyes of Mrs Chick
30. The Interval before the Marriage
31. The Wedding
32. The Wooden Midshipman goes to Pieces
33. Contrasts
34. Another Mother and Daughter
35. The Happy Pair
36. Housewarming
37. More Warnings than One
38. Miss Tox improves an Old Acquaintance
39. Further Adventures of Captain Edward CuttleMariner

40. Domestic Relations
41. New Voices in the Waves
42. Confidential and Accidental
43. The Watches of the Night
44. A Separation
45. The Trusty Agent
46. Recognizant and Reflective
47. The Thunderbolt
48. The Flight of Florence
49. The Midshipman makes a Discovery
50. Mr Toots's Complaint
51. Mr Dombey and the World
52. Secret Intelligence
53. More Intelligence
54. The Fugitives
55. Rob the Grinder loses his Place
56. Several People delightedand the Game Chicken disgusted
57. Another Wedding
58. After a Lapse
59. Retribution
60. Chiefly Matrimonial
61. Relenting
62. Final
CHAPTER 1.

Dombey and Son

Dombey sat in the corner of the darkened room in the great
arm-chair by the bedsideand Son lay tucked up warm in a little
basket bedsteadcarefully disposed on a low settee immediately in
front of the fire and close to itas if his constitution were
analogous to that of a muffinand it was essential to toast him brown
while he was very new.

Dombey was about eight-and-forty years of age. Son about
eight-and-forty minutes. Dombey was rather baldrather redand
though a handsome well-made mantoo stern and pompous in appearance
to be prepossessing. Son was very baldand very redand though (of
course) an undeniably fine infantsomewhat crushed and spotty in his
general effectas yet. On the brow of DombeyTime and his brother
Care had set some marksas on a tree that was to come down in good
time - remorseless twins they are for striding through their human
forestsnotching as they go - while the countenance of Son was
crossed with a thousand little creaseswhich the same deceitful Time
would take delight in smoothing out and wearing away with the flat
part of his scytheas a preparation of the surface for his deeper
operations.

Dombeyexulting in the long-looked-for eventjingled and jingled
the heavy gold watch-chain that depended from below his trim blue
coatwhereof the buttons sparkled phosphorescently in the feeble rays
of the distant fire. Sonwith his little fists curled up and
clenchedseemedin his feeble wayto be squaring at existence for
having come upon him so unexpectedly.

'The House will once againMrs Dombey' said Mr Dombey'be not
only in name but in fact Dombey and Son;' and he addedin a tone of
luxurious satisfactionwith his eyes half-closed as if he were


reading the name in a device of flowersand inhaling their fragrance
at the same time; 'Dom-bey and Son!'

The words had such a softening influencethat he appended a term
of endearment to Mrs Dombey's name (though not without some
hesitationas being a man but little used to that form of address):
and said'Mrs Dombeymy - my dear.'

A transient flush of faint surprise overspread the sick lady's face
as she raised her eyes towards him.

'He will be christened Paulmy - Mrs Dombey - of course.'

She feebly echoed'Of course' or rather expressed it by the
motion of her lipsand closed her eyes again.

'His father's nameMrs Dombeyand his grandfather's! I wish his
grandfather were alive this day! There is some inconvenience in the
necessity of writing Junior' said Mr Dombeymaking a fictitious
autograph on his knee; 'but it is merely of a private and personal
complexion. It doesn't enter into the correspondence of the House. Its
signature remains the same.' And again he said 'Dombey and Sonin
exactly the same tone as before.

Those three words conveyed the one idea of Mr Dombey's life. The
earth was made for Dombey and Son to trade inand the sun and moon
were made to give them light. Rivers and seas were formed to float
their ships; rainbows gave them promise of fair weather; winds blew
for or against their enterprises; stars and planets circled in their
orbitsto preserve inviolate a system of which they were the centre.
Common abbreviations took new meanings in his eyesand had sole
reference to them. A. D. had no concern with Anno Dominibut stood
for anno Dombey - and Son.

He had risenas his father had before himin the course of life
and deathfrom Son to Dombeyand for nearly twenty years had been
the sole representative of the Firm. Of those years he had been
marriedten - marriedas some saidto a lady with no heart to give
him; whose happiness was in the pastand who was content to bind her
broken spirit to the dutiful and meek endurance of the present. Such
idle talk was little likely to reach the ears of Mr Dombeywhom it
nearly concerned; and probably no one in the world would have received
it with such utter incredulity as heif it had reached him. Dombey
and Son had often dealt in hidesbut never in hearts. They left that
fancy ware to boys and girlsand boarding-schools and books. Mr
Dombey would have reasoned: That a matrimonial alliance with himself
mustin the nature of thingsbe gratifying and honourable to any
woman of common sense. That the hope of giving birth to a new partner
in such a Housecould not fail to awaken a glorious and stirring
ambition in the breast of the least ambitious of her sex. That Mrs
Dombey had entered on that social contract of matrimony: almost
necessarily part of a genteel and wealthy stationeven without
reference to the perpetuation of family Firms: with her eyes fully
open to these advantages. That Mrs Dombey had had daily practical
knowledge of his position in society. That Mrs Dombey had always sat
at the head of his tableand done the honours of his house in a
remarkably lady-like and becoming manner. That Mrs Dombey must have
been happy. That she couldn't help it.

Orat all eventswith one drawback. Yes. That he would have
allowed. With only one; but that one certainly involving much. With
the drawback of hope deferred. That hope deferredwhich(as the
Scripture very correctly tells usMr Dombey would have added in a
patronising way; for his highest distinct idea even of Scriptureif


examinedwould have been found to be; that as forming part of a
general wholeof which Dombey and Son formed another partit was
therefore to be commended and upheld) maketh the heart sick. They had
been married ten yearsand until this present day on which Mr Dombey
sat jingling and jingling his heavy gold watch-chain in the great
arm-chair by the side of the bedhad had no issue.

-To speak of; none worth mentioning. There had been a girl some
six years beforeand the childwho had stolen into the chamber
unobservedwas now crouching timidlyin a corner whence she could
see her mother's face. But what was a girl to Dombey and Son! In the
capital of the House's name and dignitysuch a child was merely a
piece of base coin that couldn't be invested - a bad Boy - nothing
more.
Mr Dombey's cup of satisfaction was so full at this moment
howeverthat he felt he could afford a drop or two of its contents
even to sprinkle on the dust in the by-path of his little daughter.

So he said'Florenceyou may go and look at your pretty brother
if you lIkeI daresay. Don't touch him!'

The child glanced keenly at the blue coat and stiff white cravat
whichwith a pair of creaking boots and a very loud ticking watch
embodied her idea of a father; but her eyes returned to her mother's
face immediatelyand she neither moved nor answered.

'Her insensibility is as proof against a brother as against every
thing else' said Mr Dombey to himself He seemed so confirmed in a
previous opinion by the discoveryas to be quite glad of it'

Next momentthe lady had opened her eyes and seen the child; and
the child had run towards her; andstanding on tiptoethe better to
hide her face in her embracehad clung about her with a desperate
affection very much at variance with her years.

'Oh Lord bless me!' said Mr Dombeyrising testily. 'A very
illadvised and feverish proceeding thisI am sure. Please to ring
there for Miss Florence's nurse. Really the person should be more
care-'

'Wait! I - had better ask Doctor Peps if he'll have the goodness to
step upstairs again perhaps. I'll go down. I'll go down. I needn't beg
you' he addedpausing for a moment at the settee before the fire
'to take particular care of this young gentlemanMrs - '

'BlockittSir?' suggested the nursea simpering piece of faded
gentilitywho did not presume to state her name as a factbut merely
offered it as a mild suggestion.

'Of this young gentlemanMrs Blockitt.'

'NoSirindeed. I remember when Miss Florence was born - '

'Ayayay' said Mr Dombeybending over the basket bedsteadand
slightly bending his brows at the same time. 'Miss Florence was all
very wellbut this is another matter. This young gentleman has to
accomplish a destiny. A destinylittle fellow!' As he thus
apostrophised the infant he raised one of his hands to his lipsand
kissed it; thenseeming to fear that the action involved some
compromise of his dignitywentawkwardly enoughaway.

Doctor Parker Pepsone of the Court Physiciansand a man of
immense reputation for assisting at the increase of great families


was walking up and down the drawing-room with his hands behind himto
the unspeakable admiration of the family Surgeonwho had regularly
puffed the case for the last six weeksamong all his patients
friendsand acquaintancesas one to which he was in hourly
expectation day and night of being summonedin conjunction with
Doctor Parker Pep.

'WellSir' said Doctor Parker Peps in a rounddeepsonorous
voicemuffled for the occasionlike the knocker; 'do you find that
your dear lady is at all roused by your visit?'

'Stimulated as it were?' said the family practitioner faintly:
bowing at the same time to the Doctoras much as to say'Excuse my
putting in a wordbut this is a valuable connexion.'

Mr Dombey was quite discomfited by the question. He had thought so
little of the patientthat he was not in a condition to answer it. He
said that it would be a satisfaction to himif Doctor Parker Peps
would walk upstairs again.

'Good! We must not disguise from youSir' said Doctor Parker
Peps'that there is a want of power in Her Grace the Duchess - I beg
your pardon; I confound names; I should sayin your amiable lady.
That there is a certain degree of languorand a general absence of
elasticitywhich we would rather - not


'See' interposed the family practitioner with another inclination
of the head.

'Quite so' said Doctor Parker Peps' which we would rather not
see. It would appear that the system of Lady Cankaby - excuse me: I
should say of Mrs Dombey: I confuse the names of cases - '

'So very numerous' murmured the family practitioner - 'can't be
expected I'm sure - quite wonderful if otherwise - Doctor Parker
Peps's West-End practice - '

'Thank you' said the Doctor'quite so. It would appearI was
observingthat the system of our patient has sustained a shockfrom
which it can only hope to rally by a great and strong - '

'And vigorous' murmured the family practitioner.

'Quite so' assented the Doctor - 'and vigorous effort. Mr Pilkins
herewho from his position of medical adviser in this family - no one
better qualified to fill that positionI am sure.'

'Oh!' murmured the family practitioner. '"Praise from Sir Hubert
Stanley!"'

'You are good enough' returned Doctor Parker Peps'to say so. Mr
Pilkins whofrom his positionis best acquainted with the patient's
constitution in its normal state (an acquaintance very valuable to us
in forming our opinions in these occasions)is of opinionwith me
that Nature must be called upon to make a vigorous effort in this
instance; and that if our interesting friend the Countess of Dombey I
beg your pardon; Mrs Dombey - should not be - '

'Able' said the family practitioner.

'To make' said Doctor Parker Peps.

'That effort' said the family practitioner.


'Successfully' said they both together.

'Then' added Doctor Parker Pepsalone and very gravelya crisis
might arisewhich we should both sincerely deplore.'

With thatthey stood for a few seconds looking at the ground.
Thenon the motion - made in dumb show - of Doctor Parker Pepsthey
went upstairs; the family practitioner opening the room door for that
distinguished professionaland following him outwith most
obsequious politeness.

To record of Mr Dombey that he was not in his way affected by this
intelligencewould be to do him an injustice. He was not a man of
whom it could properly be said that he was ever startledor shocked;
but he certainly had a sense within himthat if his wife should
sicken and decayhe would be very sorryand that he would find a
something gone from among his plate and furnitureand other household
possessionswhich was well worth the havingand could not be lost
without sincere regret. Though it would be a cool. business-like
gentlemanlyself-possessed regretno doubt.

His meditations on the subject were soon interruptedfirst by the
rustling of garments on the staircaseand then by the sudden whisking
into the room of a lady rather past the middle age than otherwise but
dressed in a very juvenile mannerparticularly as to the tightness of
her bodicewhorunning up to him with a kind of screw in her face
and carriageexpressive of suppressed emotionflung her arms around
his neckand saidin a choking voice

'My dear Paul! He's quite a Dombey!'

'Wellwell!' returned her brother - for Mr Dombey was her brother

-'I think he is like the family. Don't agitate yourselfLouisa.'
'It's very foolish of me' said Louisasitting downand taking
out her pocket~handkerchief'but he's - he's such a perfect Dombey!'

Mr Dombey coughed.

'It's so extraordinary' said Louisa; smiling through her tears
which indeed were not overpowering'as to be perfectly ridiculous. So
completely our family. I never saw anything like it in my life!'

'But what is this about Fannyherself?' said Mr Dombey. 'How is
Fanny?'

'My dear Paul' returned Louisa'it's nothing whatever. Take my
wordit's nothing whatever. There is exhaustioncertainlybut
nothing like what I underwent myselfeither with George or Frederick.
An effort is necessary. That's all. If dear Fanny were a Dombey! - But
I daresay she'll make it; I have no doubt she'll make it. Knowing it
to be required of heras a dutyof course she'll make it. My dear
Paulit's very weak and silly of meI knowto be so trembly and
shaky from head to foot; but I am so very queer that I must ask you
for a glass of wine and a morsel of that cake.'

Mr Dombey promptly supplied her with these refreshments from a tray
on the table.

'I shall not drink my love to youPaul' said Louisa: 'I shall
drink to the little Dombey. Good gracious me! - it's the most
astonishing thing I ever knew in all my dayshe's such a perfect
Dombey.'


Quenching this expression of opinion in a short hysterical laugh
which terminated in tearsLouisa cast up her eyesand emptied her
glass.

'I know it's very weak and silly of me' she repeated'to be so
trembly and shaky from head to footand to allow my feelings so
completely to get the better of mebut I cannot help it. I thought I
should have fallen out of the staircase window as I came down from
seeing dear Fannyand that tiddy ickle sing.' These last words
originated in a sudden vivid reminiscence of the baby.

They were succeeded by a gentle tap at the door.

'Mrs Chick' said a very bland female voice outside'how are you
nowmy dear friend?'

'My dear Paul' said Louisa in a low voiceas she rose from her
seat'it's Miss Tox. The kindest creature! I never could have got
here without her! Miss Toxmy brother Mr Dombey. Paulmy dearmy
very particular friend Miss Tox.'

The lady thus specially presentedwas a long lean figurewearing
such a faded air that she seemed not to have been made in what
linen-drapers call 'fast colours' originallyand to haveby little
and littlewashed out. But for this she might have been described as
the very pink of general propitiation and politeness. From a long
habit of listening admiringly to everything that was said in her
presenceand looking at the speakers as if she were mentally engaged
in taking off impressions of their images upon her soulnever to part
with the same but with lifeher head had quite settled on one side.
Her hands had contracted a spasmodic habit of raising themselves of
their own accord as in involuntary admiration. Her eyes were liable to
a similar affection. She had the softest voice that ever was heard;
and her nosestupendously aquilinehad a little knob in the very
centre or key-stone of the bridgewhence it tended downwards towards
her faceas in an invincible determination never to turn up at
anything.

Miss Tox's dressthough perfectly genteel and goodhad a certain
character of angularity and scantiness. She was accustomed to wear odd
weedy little flowers in her bonnets and caps. Strange grasses were
sometimes perceived in her hair; and it was observed by the curious
of all her collarsfrillstuckerswristbandsand other gossamer
articles - indeed of everything she wore which had two ends to it
intended to unite - that the two ends were never on good termsand
wouldn't quite meet without a struggle. She had furry articles for
winter wearas tippetsboasand muffswhich stood up on end in
rampant mannerand were not at all sleek. She was much given to the
carrying about of small bags with snaps to themthat went off like
little pistols when they were shut up; and when full-dressedshe wore
round her neck the barrenest of locketsrepresenting a fishy old eye
with no approach to speculation in it. These and other appearances of
a similar naturehad served to propagate the opinionthat Miss Tox
was a lady of what is called a limited independencewhich she turned
to the best account. Possibly her mincing gait encouraged the belief
and suggested that her clipping a step of ordinary compass into two or
threeoriginated in her habit of making the most of everything.

'I am sure' said Miss Toxwith a prodigious curtsey'that to
have the honour of being presented to Mr Dombey is a distinction which
I have long soughtbut very little expected at the present moment. My
dear Mrs Chick - may I say Louisa!'

Mrs Chick took Miss Tox's hand in hersrested the foot of her


wine-glass upon itrepressed a tearand said in a low voice'God
bless you!'

'My dear Louisa then' said Miss Tox'my sweet friendhow are you
now?'

'Better' Mrs Chick returned. 'Take some wine. You have been almost
as anxious as I have beenand must want itI am sure.'

Mr Dombey of course officiatedand also refilled his sister's
glasswhich she (looking another wayand unconscious of his
intention) held straight and steady the whileand then regarded with
great astonishmentsaying'My dear Paulwhat have you been doing!'

'Miss ToxPaul' pursued Mrs Chickstill retaining her hand
'knowing how much I have been interested in the anticipation of the
event of to-dayand how trembly and shaky I have been from head to
foot in expectation of ithas been working at a little gift for
Fannywhich I promised to present. Miss Tox is ingenuity itself.'

'My dear Louisa' said Miss Tox. 'Don't say so.

'It is only a pincushion for the toilette tablePaul' resumed his
sister; 'one of those trifles which are insignificant to your sex in
generalas it's very natural they should be - we have no business to
expect they should be otherwise - but to which we attach some
interest.

'Miss Tox is very good' said Mr Dombey.

'And I do sayand will sayand must say' pursued his sister
pressing the foot of the wine-glass on Miss Tox's handat each of the
three clauses'that Miss Tox has very prettily adapted the sentiment
to the occasion. I call "Welcome little Dombey" Poetrymyself!'

'Is that the device?' inquired her brother.

'That is the device' returned Louisa.

'But do me the justice to remembermy dear Louisa' said Miss
Toxin a tone of low and earnest entreaty'that nothing but the - I
have some difficulty in expressing myself - the dubiousness of the
result would have induced me to take so great a liberty: "Welcome
Master Dombey would have been much more congenial to my feelings, as
I am sure you know. But the uncertainty attendant on angelic
strangers, will, I hope, excuse what must otherwise appear an
unwarrantable familiarity.' Miss Tox made a graceful bend as she
spoke, in favour of Mr Dombey, which that gentleman graciously
acknowledged. Even the sort of recognition of Dombey and Son, conveyed
in the foregoing conversation, was so palatable to him, that his
sister, Mrs Chick - though he affected to consider her a weak
good-natured person - had perhaps more influence over him than anybody
else.

'My dear Paul,' that lady broke out afresh, after silently
contemplating his features for a few moments, 'I don't know whether to
laugh or cry when I look at you, I declare, you do so remind me of
that dear baby upstairs.'

'Well!' said Mrs Chick, with a sweet smile, 'after this, I forgive
Fanny everything!'

It was a declaration in a Christian spirit, and Mrs Chick felt that
it did her good. Not that she had anything particular to forgive in


her sister-in-law, nor indeed anything at all, except her having
married her brother - in itself a species of audacity - and her
having, in the course of events, given birth to a girl instead of a
boy: which, as Mrs Chick had frequently observed, was not quite what
she had expected of her, and was not a pleasant return for all the
attention and distinction she had met with.

Mr Dombey being hastily summoned out of the room at this moment,
the two ladies were left alone together. Miss Tox immediately became
spasmodic.

'I knew you would admire my brother. I told you so beforehand, my
dear,' said Louisa. Miss Tox's hands and eyes expressed how much. 'And
as to his property, my dear!'

'Ah!' said Miss Tox, with deep feeling. 'Im-mense!'

'But his deportment, my dear Louisa!' said Miss Tox. 'His presence!
His dignity! No portrait that I have ever seen of anyone has been half
so replete with those qualities. Something so stately, you know: so
uncompromising: so very wide across the chest: so upright! A pecuniary
Duke of York, my love, and nothing short of it!' said Miss Tox.
'That's what I should designate him.'

'Why, my dear Paul!' exclaimed his sister, as he returned, 'you
look quite pale! There's nothing the matter?'

'I am sorry to say, Louisa, that they tell me that Fanny - '

'Now, my dear Paul,' returned his sister rising, 'don't believe it.
Do not allow yourself to receive a turn unnecessarily. Remember of
what importance you are to society, and do not allow yourself to be
worried by what is so very inconsiderately told you by people who
ought to know better. Really I'm surprised at them.'

'I hope I know, Louisa,' said Mr Dombey, stiffly, 'how to bear
myself before the world.'

'Nobody better, my dear Paul. Nobody half so well. They would be
ignorant and base indeed who doubted it.'

'Ignorant and base indeed!' echoed Miss Tox softly.

'But,' pursued Louisa, 'if you have any reliance on my experience,
Paul, you may rest assured that there is nothing wanting but an effort
on Fanny's part. And that effort,' she continued, taking off her
bonnet, and adjusting her cap and gloves, in a business-like manner,
'she must be encouraged, and really, if necessary, urged to make. Now,
my dear Paul, come upstairs with me.'

Mr Dombey, who, besides being generally influenced by his sister
for the reason already mentioned, had really faith in her as an
experienced and bustling matron, acquiesced; and followed her, at
once, to the sick chamber.

The lady lay upon her bed as he had left her, clasping her little
daughter to her breast. The child clung close about her, with the same
intensity as before, and never raised her head, or moved her soft
cheek from her mother's face, or looked on those who stood around, or
spoke, or moved, or shed a tear.

'Restless without the little girl,' the Doctor whispered Mr Dombey.
'We found it best to have her in again.'


'Can nothing be done?' asked Mr Dombey.

The Doctor shook his head. 'We can do no more.'

The windows stood open, and the twilight was gathering without.

The scent of the restoratives that had been tried was pungent in
the room, but had no fragrance in the dull and languid air the lady
breathed.

There was such a solemn stillness round the bed; and the two
medical attendants seemed to look on the impassive form with so much
compassion and so little hope, that Mrs Chick was for the moment
diverted from her purpose. But presently summoning courage, and what
she called presence of mind, she sat down by the bedside, and said in
the low precise tone of one who endeavours to awaken a sleeper:

'Fanny! Fanny!'

There was no sound in answer but the loud ticking of Mr Dombey's
watch and Doctor Parker Peps's watch, which seemed in the silence to
be running a race.

'Fanny, my dear,' said Mrs Chick, with assumed lightness, 'here's
Mr Dombey come to see you. Won't you speak to him? They want to lay
your little boy - the baby, Fanny, you know; you have hardly seen him
yet, I think - in bed; but they can't till you rouse yourself a
little. Don't you think it's time you roused yourself a little? Eh?'

She bent her ear to the bed, and listened: at the same time looking
round at the bystanders, and holding up her finger.

'Eh?' she repeated, 'what was it you said, Fanny? I didn't hear
you.'

No word or sound in answer. Mr Dombey's watch and Dr Parker Peps's
watch seemed to be racing faster.

'Now, really, Fanny my dear,' said the sister-in-law, altering her
position, and speaking less confidently, and more earnestly, in spite
of herself, 'I shall have to be quite cross with you, if you don't
rouse yourself. It's necessary for you to make an effort, and perhaps
a very great and painful effort which you are not disposed to make;
but this is a world of effort you know, Fanny, and we must never
yield, when so much depends upon us. Come! Try! I must really scold
you if you don't!'

The race in the ensuing pause was fierce and furious. The watches
seemed to jostle, and to trip each other up.

'Fanny!' said Louisa, glancing round, with a gathering alarm. 'Only
look at me. Only open your eyes to show me that you hear and
understand me; will you? Good Heaven, gentlemen, what is to be done!'

The two medical attendants exchanged a look across the bed; and the
Physician, stooping down, whispered in the child's ear. Not having
understood the purport of his whisper, the little creature turned her
perfectly colourless face and deep dark eyes towards him; but without
loosening her hold in the least

The whisper was repeated.

'Mama!' said the child.


The little voice, familiar and dearly loved, awakened some show of
consciousness, even at that ebb. For a moment, the closed eye lids
trembled, and the nostril quivered, and the faintest shadow of a smile
was seen.

'Mama!' cried the child sobbing aloud. 'Oh dear Mama! oh dear
Mama!'

The Doctor gently brushed the scattered ringlets of the child,
aside from the face and mouth of the mother. Alas how calm they lay
there; how little breath there was to stir them!

Thus, clinging fast to that slight spar within her arms, the mother
drifted out upon the dark and unknown sea that rolls round all the
world.

CHAPTER 2.

In which Timely Provision is made for an Emergency that
will sometimes arise in the best-regulated Families

'I shall never cease to congratulate myself,' said Mrs Chick,' on
having said, when I little thought what was in store for us, - really
as if I was inspired by something, - that I forgave poor dear Fanny
everything. Whatever happens, that must always be a comfort to me!'

Mrs Chick made this impressive observation in the drawing-room,
after having descended thither from the inspection of the
mantua-makers upstairs, who were busy on the family mourning. She
delivered it for the behoof of Mr Chick, who was a stout bald
gentleman, with a very large face, and his hands continually in his
pockets, and who had a tendency in his nature to whistle and hum
tunes, which, sensible of the indecorum of such sounds in a house of
grief, he was at some pains to repress at present.

'Don't you over-exert yourself, Loo,' said Mr Chick, 'or you'll be
laid up with spasms, I see. Right tol loor rul! Bless my soul, I
forgot! We're here one day and gone the next!'

Mrs Chick contented herself with a glance of reproof, and then
proceeded with the thread of her discourse.

'I am sure,' she said, 'I hope this heart-rending occurrence will
be a warning to all of us, to accustom ourselves to rouse ourselves,
and to make efforts in time where they're required of us. There's a
moral in everything, if we would only avail ourselves of it. It will
be our own faults if we lose sight of this one.'

Mr Chick invaded the grave silence which ensued on this remark with
the singularly inappropriate air of 'A cobbler there was;' and
checking himself, in some confusion, observed, that it was undoubtedly
our own faults if we didn't improve such melancholy occasions as the
present.

'Which might be better improved, I should think, Mr C.,' retorted
his helpmate, after a short pause, 'than by the introduction, either
of the college hornpipe, or the equally unmeaning and unfeeling remark
of rump-te-iddity, bow-wow-wow!' - which Mr Chick had indeed indulged
in, under his breath, and which Mrs Chick repeated in a tone of
withering scorn.


'Merely habit, my dear,' pleaded Mr Chick.


'Nonsense! Habit!' returned his wife. 'If you're a rational being,
don't make such ridiculous excuses. Habit! If I was to get a habit (as
you call it) of walking on the ceiling, like the flies, I should hear
enough of it, I daresay.


It appeared so probable that such a habit might be attended with
some degree of notoriety, that Mr Chick didn't venture to dispute the
position.


'Bow-wow-wow!' repeated Mrs Chick with an emphasis of blighting
contempt on the last syllable. 'More like a professional singer with
the hydrophobia, than a man in your station of life!'


'How's the Baby, Loo?' asked Mr Chick: to change the subject.


'What Baby do you mean?' answered Mrs Chick.


'The poor bereaved little baby,' said Mr Chick. 'I don't know of
any other, my dear.'


'You don't know of any other,'retorted Mrs Chick. 'More shame for
you, I was going to say.


Mr Chick looked astonished.


'I am sure the morning I have had, with that dining-room
downstairs, one mass of babies, no one in their senses would believe.'


'One mass of babies!' repeated Mr Chick, staring with an alarmed
expression about him.


'It would have occurred to most men,' said Mrs Chick, 'that poor
dear Fanny being no more, - those words of mine will always be a balm
and comfort to me,' here she dried her eyes; 'it becomes necessary to
provide a Nurse.'


'Oh! Ah!' said Mr Chick. 'Toor-ru! - such is life, I mean. I hope
you are suited, my dear.'


'Indeed I am not,' said Mrs Chick; 'nor likely to be, so far as I
can see, and in the meantime the poor child seems likely to be starved
to death. Paul is so very particular - naturally so, of course, having
set his whole heart on this one boy - and there are so many objections
to everybody that offers, that I don't see, myself, the least chance
of an arrangement. Meanwhile, of course, the child is - '


'Going to the Devil,' said Mr Chick, thoughtfully, 'to be sure.'


Admonished, however, that he had committed himself, by the
indignation expressed in Mrs Chick's countenance at the idea of a
Dombey going there; and thinking to atone for his misconduct by a
bright suggestion, he added:


'Couldn't something temporary be done with a teapot?'


If he had meant to bring the subject prematurely to a close, he
could not have done it more effectually. After looking at him for some
moments in silent resignation, Mrs Chick said she trusted he hadn't
said it in aggravation, because that would do very little honour to
his heart. She trusted he hadn't said it seriously, because that would
do very little honour to his head. As in any case, he couldn't,



however sanguine his disposition, hope to offer a remark that would be
a greater outrage on human nature in general, we would beg to leave
the discussion at that point.

Mrs Chick then walked majestically to the window and peeped through
the blind, attracted by the sound of wheels. Mr Chick, finding that
his destiny was, for the time, against him, said no more, and walked
off. But it was not always thus with Mr Chick. He was often in the
ascendant himself, and at those times punished Louisa roundly. In
their matrimonial bickerings they were, upon the whole, a
well-matched, fairly-balanced, give-and-take couple. It would have
been, generally speaking, very difficult to have betted on the winner.
Often when Mr Chick seemed beaten, he would suddenly make a start,
turn the tables, clatter them about the ears of Mrs Chick, and carry
all before him. Being liable himself to similar unlooked for checks
from Mrs Chick, their little contests usually possessed a character of
uncertainty that was very animating.

Miss Tox had arrived on the wheels just now alluded to, and came
running into the room in a breathless condition. 'My dear Louisa,'said
Miss Tox, 'is the vacancy still unsupplied?'

'You good soul, yes,' said Mrs Chick.

'Then, my dear Louisa,' returned Miss Tox, 'I hope and believe but
in one moment, my dear, I'll introduce the party.'

Running downstairs again as fast as she had run up, Miss Tox got
the party out of the hackney-coach, and soon returned with it under
convoy.

It then appeared that she had used the word, not in its legal or
business acceptation, when it merely expresses an individual, but as a
noun of multitude, or signifying many: for Miss Tox escorted a plump
rosy-cheeked wholesome apple-faced young woman, with an infant in her
arms; a younger woman not so plump, but apple-faced also, who led a
plump and apple-faced child in each hand; another plump and also
apple-faced boy who walked by himself; and finally, a plump and
apple-faced man, who carried in his arms another plump and apple-faced
boy, whom he stood down on the floor, and admonished, in a husky
whisper, to 'kitch hold of his brother Johnny.'

'My dear Louisa,' said Miss Tox, 'knowing your great anxiety, and
wishing to relieve it, I posted off myself to the Queen Charlotte's
Royal Married Females,' which you had forgot, and put the question,
Was there anybody there that they thought would suit? No, they said
there was not. When they gave me that answer, I do assure you, my
dear, I was almost driven to despair on your account. But it did so
happen, that one of the Royal Married Females, hearing the inquiry,
reminded the matron of another who had gone to her own home, and who,
she said, would in all likelihood be most satisfactory. The moment I
heard this, and had it corroborated by the matron - excellent
references and unimpeachable character - I got the address, my dear,
and posted off again.'

'Like the dear good Tox, you are!' said Louisa.

'Not at all,' returned Miss Tox. 'Don't say so. Arriving at the
house (the cleanest place, my dear! You might eat your dinner off the
floor), I found the whole family sitting at table; and feeling that no
account of them could be half so comfortable to you and Mr Dombey as
the sight of them all together, I brought them all away. This
gentleman,' said Miss Tox, pointing out the apple-faced man, 'is the
father. Will you have the goodness to come a little forward, Sir?'


The apple-faced man having sheepishly complied with this request,
stood chuckling and grinning in a front row.

'This is his wife, of course,' said Miss Tox, singling out the
young woman with the baby. 'How do you do, Polly?'

'I'm pretty well, I thank you, Ma'am,' said Polly.

By way of bringing her out dexterously, Miss Tox had made the
inquiry as in condescension to an old acquaintance whom she hadn't
seen for a fortnight or so.

'I'm glad to hear it,' said Miss Tox. 'The other young woman is her
unmarried sister who lives with them, and would take care of her
children. Her name's Jemima. How do you do, Jemima?'

'I'm pretty well, I thank you, Ma'am,' returned Jemima.

'I'm very glad indeed to hear it,' said Miss Tox. 'I hope you'll
keep so. Five children. Youngest six weeks. The fine little boy with
the blister on his nose is the eldest The blister, I believe,' said
Miss Tox, looking round upon the family, 'is not constitutional, but
accidental?'

The apple-faced man was understood to growl, 'Flat iron.

'I beg your pardon, Sir,' said Miss Tox, 'did you?

'Flat iron,' he repeated.

'Oh yes,' said Miss Tox. 'Yes! quite true. I forgot. The little
creature, in his mother's absence, smelt a warm flat iron. You're
quite right, Sir. You were going to have the goodness to inform me,
when we arrived at the door that you were by trade a - '

'Stoker,' said the man.

'A choker!' said Miss Tox, quite aghast.

'Stoker,' said the man. 'Steam ingine.'

'Oh-h! Yes!' returned Miss Tox, looking thoughtfully at him, and
seeming still to have but a very imperfect understanding of his
meaning.

'And how do you like it, Sir?'

'Which, Mum?' said the man.

'That,' replied Miss Tox. 'Your trade.'

'Oh! Pretty well, Mum. The ashes sometimes gets in here;' touching
his chest: 'and makes a man speak gruff, as at the present time. But
it is ashes, Mum, not crustiness.'

Miss Tox seemed to be so little enlightened by this reply, as to
find a difficulty in pursuing the subject. But Mrs Chick relieved her,
by entering into a close private examination of Polly, her children,
her marriage certificate, testimonials, and so forth. Polly coming out
unscathed from this ordeal, Mrs Chick withdrew with her report to her
brother's room, and as an emphatic comment on it, and corroboration of
it, carried the two rosiest little Toodles with her. Toodle being the
family name of the apple-faced family.


Mr Dombey had remained in his own apartment since the death of his
wife, absorbed in visions of the youth, education, and destination of
his baby son. Something lay at the bottom of his cool heart, colder
and heavier than its ordinary load; but it was more a sense of the
child's loss than his own, awakening within him an almost angry
sorrow. That the life and progress on which he built such hopes,
should be endangered in the outset by so mean a want; that Dombey and
Son should be tottering for a nurse, was a sore humiliation. And yet
in his pride and jealousy, he viewed with so much bitterness the
thought of being dependent for the very first step towards the
accomplishment of his soul's desire, on a hired serving-woman who
would be to the child, for the time, all that even his alliance could
have made his own wife, that in every new rejection of a candidate he
felt a secret pleasure. The time had now come, however, when he could
no longer be divided between these two sets of feelings. The less so,
as there seemed to be no flaw in the title of Polly Toodle after his
sister had set it forth, with many commendations on the indefatigable
friendship of Miss Tox.

'These children look healthy,' said Mr Dombey. 'But my God, to
think of their some day claiming a sort of relationship to Paul!'

' But what relationship is there!' Louisa began


'Is there!' echoed Mr Dombey, who had not intended his sister to
participate in the thought he had unconsciously expressed. 'Is there,
did you say, Louisa!'

'Can there be, I mean - '

'Why none,' said Mr Dombey, sternly. 'The whole world knows that, I
presume. Grief has not made me idiotic, Louisa. Take them away,
Louisa! Let me see this woman and her husband.'

Mrs Chick bore off the tender pair of Toodles, and presently
returned with that tougher couple whose presence her brother had
commanded.

'My good woman,' said Mr Dombey, turning round in his easy chair,
as one piece, and not as a man with limbs and joints, 'I understand
you are poor, and wish to earn money by nursing the little boy, my
son, who has been so prematurely deprived of what can never be
replaced. I have no objection to your adding to the comforts of your
family by that means. So far as I can tell, you seem to be a deserving
object. But I must impose one or two conditions on you, before you
enter my house in that capacity. While you are here, I must stipulate
that you are always known as - say as Richards - an ordinary name, and
convenient. Have you any objection to be known as Richards? You had
better consult your husband.'

'Well?' said Mr Dombey, after a pretty long pause. 'What does your
husband say to your being called Richards?'

As the husband did nothing but chuckle and grin, and continually
draw his right hand across his mouth, moistening the palm, Mrs Toodle,
after nudging him twice or thrice in vain, dropped a curtsey and
replied 'that perhaps if she was to be called out of her name, it
would be considered in the wages.'

'Oh, of course,' said Mr Dombey. 'I desire to make it a question of
wages, altogether. Now, Richards, if you nurse my bereaved child, I
wish you to remember this always. You will receive a liberal stipend
in return for the discharge of certain duties, in the performance of


which, I wish you to see as little of your family as possible. When
those duties cease to be required and rendered, and the stipend ceases
to be paid, there is an end of all relations between us. Do you
understand me?'

Mrs Toodle seemed doubtful about it; and as to Toodle himself, he
had evidently no doubt whatever, that he was all abroad.

'You have children of your own,' said Mr Dombey. 'It is not at all
in this bargain that you need become attached to my child, or that my
child need become attached to you. I don't expect or desire anything
of the kind. Quite the reverse. When you go away from here, you will
have concluded what is a mere matter of bargain and sale, hiring and
letting: and will stay away. The child will cease to remember you; and
you will cease, if you please, to remember the child.'

Mrs Toodle, with a little more colour in her cheeks than she had
had before, said 'she hoped she knew her place.'

'I hope you do, Richards,' said Mr Dombey. 'I have no doubt you
know it very well. Indeed it is so plain and obvious that it could
hardly be otherwise. Louisa, my dear, arrange with Richards about
money, and let her have it when and how she pleases. Mr what's-your
name, a word with you, if you please!'

Thus arrested on the threshold as he was following his wife out of
the room, Toodle returned and confronted Mr Dombey alone. He was a
strong, loose, round-shouldered, shuffling, shaggy fellow, on whom his
clothes sat negligently: with a good deal of hair and whisker,
deepened in its natural tint, perhaps by smoke and coal-dust: hard
knotty hands: and a square forehead, as coarse in grain as the bark of
an oak. A thorough contrast in all respects, to Mr Dombey, who was one
of those close-shaved close-cut moneyed gentlemen who are glossy and
crisp like new bank-notes, and who seem to be artificially braced and
tightened as by the stimulating action of golden showerbaths.

'You have a son, I believe?' said Mr Dombey.

'Four on 'em, Sir. Four hims and a her. All alive!'

'Why, it's as much as you can afford to keep them!' said Mr Dombey.

'I couldn't hardly afford but one thing in the world less, Sir.'

'What is that?'

'To lose 'em, Sir.'

'Can you read?' asked Mr Dombey.

'Why, not partick'ler, Sir.'

'Write?'

'With chalk, Sir?'

'With anything?'

'I could make shift to chalk a little bit, I think, if I was put to
it,' said Toodle after some reflection.

'And yet,' said Mr Dombey, 'you are two or three and thirty, I
suppose?'


'Thereabouts, I suppose, Sir,' answered Toodle, after more
reflection

'Then why don't you learn?' asked Mr Dombey.

'So I'm a going to, Sir. One of my little boys is a going to learn
me, when he's old enough, and been to school himself.'

'Well,' said Mr Dombey, after looking at him attentively, and with
no great favour, as he stood gazing round the room (principally round
the ceiling) and still drawing his hand across and across his mouth.
'You heard what I said to your wife just now?'

'Polly heerd it,' said Toodle, jerking his hat over his shoulder in
the direction of the door, with an air of perfect confidence in his
better half. 'It's all right.'

'But I ask you if you heard it. You did, I suppose, and understood
it?' pursued Mr Dombey.

'I heerd it,' said Toodle, 'but I don't know as I understood it
rightly Sir, 'account of being no scholar, and the words being - ask
your pardon - rayther high. But Polly heerd it. It's all right.'

'As you appear to leave everything to her,' said Mr Dombey,
frustrated in his intention of impressing his views still more
distinctly on the husband, as the stronger character, 'I suppose it is
of no use my saying anything to you.'

'Not a bit,' said Toodle. 'Polly heerd it. She's awake, Sir.'

'I won't detain you any longer then,' returned Mr Dombey,
disappointed. 'Where have you worked all your life?'

'Mostly underground, Sir, 'till I got married. I come to the level
then. I'm a going on one of these here railroads when they comes into
full play.'

As he added in one of his hoarse whispers, 'We means to bring up
little Biler to that line,' Mr Dombey inquired haughtily who little
Biler was.

'The eldest on 'em, Sir,' said Toodle, with a smile. 'It ain't a
common name. Sermuchser that when he was took to church the gen'lm'n
said, it wam't a chris'en one, and he couldn't give it. But we always
calls him Biler just the same. For we don't mean no harm. Not we.

'Do you mean to say, Man,' inquired Mr Dombey; looking at him with
marked displeasure, 'that you have called a child after a boiler?'

'No, no, Sir,' returned Toodle, with a tender consideration for his
mistake. 'I should hope not! No, Sir. Arter a BILER Sir. The
Steamingine was a'most as good as a godfather to him, and so we called
him Biler, don't you see!'

As the last straw breaks the laden camel's back, this piece of
information crushed the sinking spirits of Mr Dombey. He motioned his
child's foster-father to the door, who departed by no means
unwillingly: and then turning the key, paced up and down the room in
solitary wretchedness.

It would be harsh, and perhaps not altogether true, to say of him
that he felt these rubs and gratings against his pride more keenly
than he had felt his wife's death: but certainly they impressed that


event upon him with new force, and communicated to it added weight and
bitterness. It was a rude shock to his sense of property in his child,
that these people - the mere dust of the earth, as he thought them should
be necessary to him; and it was natural that in proportion as
he felt disturbed by it, he should deplore the occurrence which had
made them so. For all his starched, impenetrable dignity and
composure, he wiped blinding tears from his eyes as he paced up and
down his room; and often said, with an emotion of which he would not,
for the world, have had a witness, 'Poor little fellow!'

It may have been characteristic of Mr Dombey's pride, that he
pitied himself through the child. Not poor me. Not poor widower,
confiding by constraint in the wife of an ignorant Hind who has been
working 'mostly underground' all his life, and yet at whose door Death
had never knocked, and at whose poor table four sons daily sit - but
poor little fellow!

Those words being on his lips, it occurred to him - and it is an
instance of the strong attraction with which his hopes and fears and
all his thoughts were tending to one centre - that a great temptation
was being placed in this woman's way. Her infant was a boy too. Now,
would it be possIble for her to change them?

Though he was soon satisfied that he had dismissed the idea as
romantic and unlikely - though possible, there was no denying - he
could not help pursuing it so far as to entertain within himself a
picture of what his condition would be, if he should discover such an
imposture when he was grown old. Whether a man so situated would be
able to pluck away the result of so many years of usage, confidence,
and belief, from the impostor, and endow a stranger with it?

But it was idle speculating thus. It couldn't happen. In a moment
afterwards he determined that it could, but that such women were
constantly observed, and had no opportunity given them for the
accomplishment of such a design, even when they were so wicked as to
entertain it. In another moment, he was remembering how few such cases
seemed to have ever happened. In another moment he was wondering
whether they ever happened and were not found out.

As his unusual emotion subsided, these misgivings gradually melted
away, though so much of their shadow remained behind, that he was
constant in his resolution to look closely after Richards himself,
without appearing to do so. Being now in an easier frame of mind, he
regarded the woman's station as rather an advantageous circumstance
than otherwise, by placing, in itself, a broad distance between her
and the child, and rendering their separation easy and natural. Thence
he passed to the contemplation of the future glories of Dombey and
Son, and dismissed the memory of his wife, for the time being, with a
tributary sigh or two.

Meanwhile terms were ratified and agreed upon between Mrs Chick and
Richards, with the assistance of Miss Tox; and Richards being with
much ceremony invested with the Dombey baby, as if it were an Order,
resigned her own, with many tears and kisses, to Jemima. Glasses of
wine were then produced, to sustain the drooping spirits of the
family; and Miss Tox, busying herself in dispensing 'tastes' to the
younger branches, bred them up to their father's business with such
surprising expedition, that she made chokers of four of them in a
quarter of a minute.

'You'll take a glass yourself, Sir, won't you?' said Miss Tox, as
Toodle appeared.

'Thankee, Mum,' said Toodle, 'since you are suppressing.'


'And you're very glad to leave your dear good wife in such a
comfortable home, ain't you, Sir?'said Miss Tox, nodding and winking
at him stealthily.

'No, Mum,' said Toodle. 'Here's wishing of her back agin.'

Polly cried more than ever at this. So Mrs Chick, who had her
matronly apprehensions that this indulgence in grief might be
prejudicial to the little Dombey ('acid, indeed,' she whispered Miss
Tox), hastened to the rescue.

'Your little child will thrive charmingly with your sister Jemima,
Richards,' said Mrs Chick; 'and you have only to make an effort - this
is a world of effort, you know, Richards - to be very happy indeed.
You have been already measured for your mourning, haven't you,
Richards?'

'Ye - es, Ma'am,' sobbed Polly.

'And it'll fit beautifully. I know,' said Mrs Chick, 'for the same
young person has made me many dresses. The very best materials, too!'

'Lor, you'll be so smart,' said Miss Tox, 'that your husband won't
know you; will you, Sir?'

'I should know her,' said Toodle, gruffly, 'anyhows and anywheres.'

Toodle was evidently not to be bought over.

'As to living, Richards, you know,' pursued Mrs Chick, 'why, the
very best of everything will be at your disposal. You will order your
little dinner every day; and anything you take a fancy to, I'm sure
will be as readily provided as if you were a Lady.'

'Yes to be sure!' said Miss Tox, keeping up the ball with great
sympathy. 'And as to porter! - quite unlimited, will it not, Louisa?'

'Oh, certainly!' returned Mrs Chick in the same tone. 'With a
little abstinence, you know, my dear, in point of vegetables.'

'And pickles, perhaps,' suggested Miss Tox.

'With such exceptions,' said Louisa, 'she'll consult her choice
entirely, and be under no restraint at all, my love.'

'And then, of course, you know,' said Miss Tox, 'however fond she
is of her own dear little child - and I'm sure, Louisa, you don't
blame her for being fond of it?'

'Oh no!' cried Mrs Chick, benignantly.

'Still,' resumed Miss Tox, 'she naturally must be interested in her
young charge, and must consider it a privilege to see a little cherub
connected with the superior classes, gradually unfolding itself from
day to day at one common fountain- is it not so, Louisa?'

'Most undoubtedly!' said Mrs Chick. 'You see, my love, she's
already quite contented and comfortable, and means to say goodbye to
her sister Jemima and her little pets, and her good honest husband,
with a light heart and a smile; don't she, my dear?'

'Oh yes!' cried Miss Tox. 'To be sure she does!'


Notwithstanding which, however, poor Polly embraced them all round
in great distress, and coming to her spouse at last, could not make up
her mind to part from him, until he gently disengaged himself, at the
close of the following allegorical piece of consolation:

'Polly, old 'ooman, whatever you do, my darling, hold up your head
and fight low. That's the only rule as I know on, that'll carry anyone
through life. You always have held up your head and fought low, Polly.
Do it now, or Bricks is no longer so. God bless you, Polly! Me and
J'mima will do your duty by you; and with relating to your'n, hold up
your head and fight low, Polly, and you can't go wrong!'

Fortified by this golden secret, Folly finally ran away to avoid
any more particular leave-taking between herself and the children. But
the stratagem hardly succeeded as well as it deserved; for the
smallest boy but one divining her intent, immediately began swarming
upstairs after her - if that word of doubtful etymology be admissible
- on his arms and legs; while the eldest (known in the family by the
name of Biler, in remembrance of the steam engine) beat a demoniacal
tattoo with his boots, expressive of grief; in which he was joined by
the rest of the family.

A quantity of oranges and halfpence thrust indiscriminately on each
young Toodle, checked the first violence of their regret, and the
family were speedily transported to their own home, by means of the
hackney-coach kept in waiting for that purpose. The children, under
the guardianship of Jemima, blocked up the window, and dropped out
oranges and halfpence all the way along. Mr Toodle himself preferred
to ride behind among the spikes, as being the mode of conveyance to
which he was best accustomed.

CHAPTER 3.

In which Mr Dombey, as a Man and a Father, is seen at the
Head of the Home-Department

The funeral of the deceased lady having been 'performed to the
entire satisfaction of the undertaker, as well as of the neighbourhood
at large, which is generally disposed to be captious on such a point,
and is prone to take offence at any omissions or short-comings in the
ceremonies, the various members of Mr Dombey's household subsided into
their several places in the domestic system. That small world, like
the great one out of doors, had the capacity of easily forgetting its
dead; and when the cook had said she was a quiet-tempered lady, and
the house-keeper had said it was the common lot, and the butler had
said who'd have thought it, and the housemaid had said she couldn't
hardly believe it, and the footman had said it seemed exactly like a
dream, they had quite worn the subject out, and began to think their
mourning was wearing rusty too.

On Richards, who was established upstairs in a state of honourable
captivity, the dawn of her new life seemed to break cold and grey. Mr
Dombey's house was a large one, on the shady side of a tall, dark,
dreadfully genteel street in the region between Portland Place and
Bryanstone Square.' It was a corner house, with great wide areas
containing cellars frowned upon by barred windows, and leered at by
crooked-eyed doors leading to dustbins. It was a house of dismal
state, with a circular back to it, containing a whole suite of
drawing-rooms looking upon a gravelled yard, where two gaunt trees,
with blackened trunks and branches, rattled rather than rustled, their


leaves were so smoked-dried. The summer sun was never on the street,
but in the morning about breakfast-time, when it came with the
water-carts and the old clothes men, and the people with geraniums,
and the umbrella-mender, and the man who trilled the little bell of
the Dutch clock as he went along. It was soon gone again to return no
more that day; and the bands of music and the straggling Punch's shows
going after it, left it a prey to the most dismal of organs, and white
mice; with now and then a porcupine, to vary the entertainments; until
the butlers whose families were dining out, began to stand at the
house-doors in the twilight, and the lamp-lighter made his nightly
failure in attempting to brighten up the street with gas.

It was as blank a house inside as outside. When the funeral was
over, Mr Dombey ordered the furniture to be covered up - perhaps to
preserve it for the son with whom his plans were all associated - and
the rooms to be ungarnished, saving such as he retained for himself on
the ground floor. Accordingly, mysterious shapes were made of tables
and chairs, heaped together in the middle of rooms, and covered over
with great winding-sheets. Bell-handles, window-blinds, and
looking-glasses, being papered up in journals, daily and weekly,
obtruded fragmentary accounts of deaths and dreadful murders. Every
chandelier or lustre, muffled in holland, looked like a monstrous tear
depending from the ceiling's eye. Odours, as from vaults and damp
places, came out of the chimneys. The dead and buried lady was awful
in a picture-frame of ghastly bandages. Every gust of wind that rose,
brought eddying round the corner from the neighbouring mews, some
fragments of the straw that had been strewn before the house when she
was ill, mildewed remains of which were still cleaving to the
neighbourhood: and these, being always drawn by some invisible
attraction to the threshold of the dirty house to let immediately
opposite, addressed a dismal eloquence to Mr Dombey's windows.

The apartments which Mr Dombey reserved for his own inhabiting,
were attainable from the hall, and consisted of a sitting-room; a
library, which was in fact a dressing-room, so that the smell of
hot-pressed paper, vellum, morocco, and Russia leather, contended in
it with the smell of divers pairs of boots; and a kind of conservatory
or little glass breakfast-room beyond, commanding a prospect of the
trees before mentioned, and, generally speaking, of a few prowling
cats. These three rooms opened upon one another. In the morning, when
Mr Dombey was at his breakfast in one or other of the two
first-mentioned of them, as well as in the afternoon when he came home
to dinner, a bell was rung for Richards to repair to this glass
chamber, and there walk to and fro with her young charge. From the
glimpses she caught of Mr Dombey at these times, sitting in the dark
distance, looking out towards the infant from among the dark heavy
furniture - the house had been inhabited for years by his father, and
in many of its appointments was old-fashioned and grim - she began to
entertain ideas of him in his solitary state, as if he were a lone
prisoner in a cell, or a strange apparition that was not to be
accosted or understood. Mr Dombey came to be, in the course of a few
days, invested in his own person, to her simple thinking, with all the
mystery and gloom of his house. As she walked up and down the glass
room, or sat hushing the baby there - which she very often did for
hours together, when the dusk was closing in, too - she would
sometimes try to pierce the gloom beyond, and make out how he was
looking and what he was doing. Sensible that she was plainly to be
seen by him' however, she never dared to pry in that direction but
very furtively and for a moment at a time. Consequently she made out
nothing, and Mr Dombey in his den remained a very shade.

Little Paul Dombey's foster-mother had led this life herself, and
had carried little Paul through it for some weeks; and had returned
upstairs one day from a melancholy saunter through the dreary rooms of


state (she never went out without Mrs Chick, who called on fine
mornings, usually accompanied by Miss Tox, to take her and Baby for an
airing - or in other words, to march them gravely up and down the
pavement, like a walking funeral); when, as she was sitting in her own
room, the door was slowly and quietly opened, and a dark-eyed little
girl looked in.

'It's Miss Florence come home from her aunt's, no doubt,' thought
Richards, who had never seen the child before. 'Hope I see you well,
Miss.'

'Is that my brother?' asked the child, pointing to the Baby.

'Yes, my pretty,' answered Richards. 'Come and kiss him.'

But the child, instead of advancing, looked her earnestly in the
face, and said:

'What have you done with my Mama?'

'Lord bless the little creeter!' cried Richards, 'what a sad
question! I done? Nothing, Miss.'

'What have they done with my Mama?' inquired the child, with
exactly the same look and manner.

'I never saw such a melting thing in all my life!' said Richards,
who naturally substituted 'for this child one of her own, inquiring
for herself in like circumstances. 'Come nearer here, my dear Miss!
Don't be afraid of me.'

'I am not afraid of you,' said the child, drawing nearer. 'But I
want to know what they have done with my Mama.'

Her heart swelled so as she stood before the woman, looking into
her eyes, that she was fain to press her little hand upon her breast
and hold it there. Yet there was a purpose in the child that prevented
both her slender figure and her searching gaze from faltering.

'My darling,' said Richards, 'you wear that pretty black frock in
remembrance of your Mama.'

'I can remember my Mama,' returned the child, with tears springing
to her eyes, 'in any frock.'

'But people put on black, to remember people when they're gone.'

'Where gone?' asked the child.

'Come and sit down by me,' said Richards, 'and I'll tell you a
story.'

With a quick perception that it was intended to relate to what she
had asked, little Florence laid aside the bonnet she had held in her
hand until now, and sat down on a stool at the Nurse's feet, looking
up into her face.

'Once upon a time,' said Richards, 'there was a lady - a very good
lady, and her little daughter dearly loved her.'

'A very good lady and her little daughter dearly loved her,'
repeated the child.

'Who, when God thought it right that it should be so, was taken ill


and died.'

The child shuddered.

'Died, never to be seen again by anyone on earth, and was buried in
the ground where the trees grow.

'The cold ground?' said the child, shuddering again. 'No! The warm
ground,' returned Polly, seizing her advantage, 'where the ugly little
seeds turn into beautiful flowers, and into grass, and corn, and I
don't know what all besides. Where good people turn into bright
angels, and fly away to Heaven!'

The child, who had dropped her head, raised it again, and sat
looking at her intently.

'So; let me see,' said Polly, not a little flurried between this
earnest scrutiny, her desire to comfort the child, her sudden success,
and her very slight confidence in her own powers.' So, when this lady
died, wherever they took her, or wherever they put her, she went to
GOD! and she prayed to Him, this lady did,' said Polly, affecting
herself beyond measure; being heartily in earnest, 'to teach her
little daughter to be sure of that in her heart: and to know that she
was happy there and loved her still: and to hope and try - Oh, all her
life - to meet her there one day, never, never, never to part any
more.'

'It was my Mama!' exclaimed the child, springing up, and clasping
her round the neck.

'And the child's heart,' said Polly, drawing her to her breast:
'the little daughter's heart was so full of the truth of this, that
even when she heard it from a strange nurse that couldn't tell it
right, but was a poor mother herself and that was all, she found a
comfort in it - didn't feel so lonely - sobbed and cried upon her
bosom - took kindly to the baby lying in her lap - and - there, there,
there!' said Polly, smoothing the child's curls and dropping tears
upon them. 'There, poor dear!'

'Oh well, Miss Floy! And won't your Pa be angry neither!' cried a
quick voice at the door, proceeding from a short, brown, womanly girl
of fourteen, with a little snub nose, and black eyes like jet beads.
'When it was 'tickerlerly given out that you wasn't to go and worrit
the wet nurse.

'She don't worry me,' was the surprised rejoinder of Polly. 'I am
very fond of children.'

'Oh! but begging your pardon, Mrs Richards, that don't matter, you
know,' returned the black-eyed girl, who was so desperately sharp and
biting that she seemed to make one's eyes water. 'I may be very fond
of pennywinkles, Mrs Richards, but it don't follow that I'm to have
'em for tea. 'Well, it don't matter,' said Polly. 'Oh, thank'ee, Mrs
Richards, don't it!' returned the sharp girl. 'Remembering, however,
if you'll be so good, that Miss Floy's under my charge, and Master
Paul's under your'n.'

'But still we needn't quarrel,' said Polly.

'Oh no, Mrs Richards,' rejoined Spitfire. 'Not at all, I don't wish
it, we needn't stand upon that footing, Miss Floy being a permanency,
Master Paul a temporary.' Spitfire made use of none but comma pauses;
shooting out whatever she had to say in one sentence, and in one
breath, if possible.


'Miss Florence has just come home, hasn't she?' asked Polly.

'Yes, Mrs Richards, just come, and here, Miss Floy, before you've
been in the house a quarter of an hour, you go a smearing your wet
face against the expensive mourning that Mrs Richards is a wearing for
your Ma!' With this remonstrance, young Spitfire, whose real name was
Susan Nipper, detached the child from her new friend by a wrench - as
if she were a tooth. But she seemed to do it, more in the excessively
sharp exercise of her official functions, than with any deliberate
unkindness.

'She'll be quite happy, now she has come home again,' said Polly,
nodding to her with an encouraging smile upon her wholesome face, 'and
will be so pleased to see her dear Papa to-night.'

'Lork, Mrs Richards!' cried Miss Nipper, taking up her words with a
jerk. 'Don't. See her dear Papa indeed! I should like to see her do
it!'

'Won't she then?' asked Polly.

'Lork, Mrs Richards, no, her Pa's a deal too wrapped up in somebody
else, and before there was a somebody else to be wrapped up in she
never was a favourite, girls are thrown away in this house, Mrs
Richards, I assure you.

The child looked quickly from one nurse to the other, as if she
understood and felt what was said.

'You surprise me!' cried Folly. 'Hasn't Mr Dombey seen her since '


'No,' interrupted Susan Nipper. 'Not once since, and he hadn't
hardly set his eyes upon her before that for months and months, and I
don't think he'd have known her for his own child if he had met her in
the streets, or would know her for his own child if he was to meet her
in the streets to-morrow, Mrs Richards, as to me,' said Spitfire, with
a giggle, 'I doubt if he's aweer of my existence.'

'Pretty dear!' said Richards; meaning, not Miss Nipper, but the
little Florence.

'Oh! there's a Tartar within a hundred miles of where we're now in
conversation, I can tell you, Mrs Richards, present company always
excepted too,' said Susan Nipper; 'wish you good morning, Mrs
Richards, now Miss Floy, you come along with me, and don't go hanging
back like a naughty wicked child that judgments is no example to,
don't!'

In spite of being thus adjured, and in spite also of some hauling
on the part of Susan Nipper, tending towards the dislocation of her
right shoulder, little Florence broke away, and kissed her new friend,
affectionately.

'Oh dear! after it was given out so 'tickerlerly, that Mrs Richards
wasn't to be made free with!' exclaimed Susan. 'Very well, Miss Floy!'

'God bless the sweet thing!' said Richards, 'Good-bye, dear!'

'Good-bye!' returned the child. 'God bless you! I shall come to see
you again soon, and you'll come to see me? Susan will let us. Won't
you, Susan?'


Spitfire seemed to be in the main a good-natured little body,
although a disciple of that school of trainers of the young idea which
holds that childhood, like money, must be shaken and rattled and
jostled about a good deal to keep it bright. For, being thus appealed
to with some endearing gestures and caresses, she folded her small
arms and shook her head, and conveyed a relenting expression into her
very-wide-open black eyes.

'It ain't right of you to ask it, Miss Floy, for you know I can't
refuse you, but Mrs Richards and me will see what can be done, if Mrs
Richards likes, I may wish, you see, to take a voyage to Chaney, Mrs
Richards, but I mayn't know how to leave the London Docks.'

Richards assented to the proposition.

'This house ain't so exactly ringing with merry-making,' said Miss
Nipper, 'that one need be lonelier than one must be. Your Toxes and
your Chickses may draw out my two front double teeth, Mrs Richards,
but that's no reason why I need offer 'em the whole set.'

This proposition was also assented to by Richards, as an obvious
one.

'So I'm able, I'm sure,'said Susan Nipper, 'to live friendly, Mrs
Richards, while Master Paul continues a permanency, if the means can
be planned out without going openly against orders, but goodness
gracious Miss Floy, you haven't got your things off yet, you naughty
child, you haven't, come along!'

With these words, Susan Nipper, in a transport of coercion, made a
charge at her young ward, and swept her out of the room.

The child, in her grief and neglect, was so gentle, so quiet, and
uncomplaining; was possessed of so much affection that no one seemed
to care to have, and so much sorrowful intelligence that no one seemed
to mind or think about the wounding of, that Polly's heart was sore
when she was left alone again. In the simple passage that had taken
place between herself and the motherless little girl, her own motherly
heart had been touched no less than the child's; and she felt, as the
child did, that there was something of confidence and interest between
them from that moment.

Notwithstanding Mr Toodle's great reliance on Polly, she was
perhaps in point of artificial accomplishments very little his
superior. She had been good-humouredly working and drudging for her
life all her life, and was a sober steady-going person, with
matter-of-fact ideas about the butcher and baker, and the division of
pence into farthings. But she was a good plain sample of a nature that
is ever, in the mass, better, truer, higher, nobler, quicker to feel,
and much more constant to retain, all tenderness and pity, self-denial
and devotion, than the nature of men. And, perhaps, unlearned as she
was, she could have brought a dawning knowledge home to Mr Dombey at
that early day, which would not then have struck him in the end like
lightning.

But this is from the purpose. Polly only thought, at that time, of
improving on her successful propitiation of Miss Nipper, and devising
some means of having little Florence aide her, lawfully, and without
rebellion. An opening happened to present itself that very night.

She had been rung down into the glass room as usual, and had walked
about and about it a long time, with the baby in her arms, when, to
her great surprise and dismay, Mr Dombey - whom she had seen at first
leaning on his elbow at the table, and afterwards walking up and down


the middle room, drawing, each time, a little nearer, she thought, to
the open folding doors - came out, suddenly, and stopped before her.

'Good evening, Richards.'

Just the same austere, stiff gentleman, as he had appeared to her
on that first day. Such a hard-looking gentleman, that she
involuntarily dropped her eyes and her curtsey at the same time.

'How is Master Paul, Richards?'

'Quite thriving, Sir, and well.'

'He looks so,' said Mr Dombey, glancing with great interest at the
tiny face she uncovered for his observation, and yet affecting to be
half careless of it. 'They give you everything you want, I hope?'

'Oh yes, thank you, Sir.'

She suddenly appended such an obvious hesitation to this reply,
however, that Mr Dombey, who had turned away; stopped, and turned
round again, inquiringly.

'If you please, Sir, the child is very much disposed to take notice
of things,' said Richards, with another curtsey, 'and - upstairs is a
little dull for him, perhaps, Sir.'

'I begged them to take you out for airings, constantly,' said Mr
Dombey. 'Very well! You shall go out oftener. You're quite right to
mention it.'

'I beg your pardon, Sir,' faltered Polly, 'but we go out quite
plenty Sir, thank you.'

'What would you have then?' asked Mr Dombey.

'Indeed Sir, I don't exactly know,' said Polly, 'unless - '

'Yes?'

'I believe nothing is so good for making children lively and
cheerful, Sir, as seeing other children playing about 'em,' observed
Polly, taking courage.

'I think I mentioned to you, Richards, when you came here,' said Mr
Dombey, with a frown, 'that I wished you to see as little of your
family as possible.'

'Oh dear yes, Sir, I wasn't so much as thinking of that.'

'I am glad of it,' said Mr Dombey hastily. 'You can continue your
walk if you please.'

With that, he disappeared into his inner room; and Polly had the
satisfaction of feeling that he had thoroughly misunderstood her
object, and that she had fallen into disgrace without the least
advancement of her purpose.

Next night, she found him walking about the conservatory when she
came down. As she stopped at the door, checked by this unusual sight,
and uncertain whether to advance or retreat, he called her in. His
mind was too much set on Dombey and Son, it soon appeared, to admit of
his having forgotten her suggestion.


'If you really think that sort of society is good for the child,'
he said sharply, as if there had been no interval since she proposed
it, 'where's Miss Florence?'

'Nothing could be better than Miss Florence, Sir,' said Polly
eagerly, 'but I understood from her maid that they were not to - '

Mr Dombey rang the bell, and walked till it was answered.

'Tell them always to let Miss Florence be with Richards when she
chooses, and go out with her, and so forth. Tell them to let the
children be together, when Richards wishes it.'

The iron was now hot, and Richards striking on it boldly - it was a
good cause and she bold in it, though instinctively afraid of Mr
Dombey - requested that Miss Florence might be sent down then and
there, to make friends with her little brother.

She feigned to be dandling the child as the servant retired on this
errand, but she thought that she saw Mr Dombey's colour changed; that
the expression of his face quite altered; that he turned, hurriedly,
as if to gainsay what he had said, or she had said, or both, and was
only deterred by very shame.

And she was right. The last time he had seen his slighted child,
there had been that in the sad embrace between her and her dying
mother, which was at once a revelation and a reproach to him. Let him
be absorbed as he would in the Son on whom he built such high hopes,
he could not forget that closing scene. He could not forget that he
had had no part in it. That, at the bottom of its clear depths of
tenderness and truth' lay those two figures clasped in each other's
arms, while he stood on the bank above them, looking down a mere
spectator - not a sharer with them - quite shut out.

Unable to exclude these things from his remembrance, or to keep his
mind free from such imperfect shapes of the meaning with which they
were fraught, as were able to make themselves visible to him through
the mist of his pride, his previous feeling of indifference towards
little Florence changed into an uneasiness of an extraordinary kind.
Young as she was, and possessing in any eyes but his (and perhaps in
his too) even more than the usual amount of childish simplicity and
confidence, he almost felt as if she watched and distrusted him. As if
she held the clue to something secret in his breast, of the nature of
which he was hardly informed himself. As if she had an innate
knowledge of one jarring and discordant string within him, and her
very breath could sound it.

His feeling about the child had been negative from her birth. He
had never conceived an aversion to her: it had not been worth his
while or in his humour. She had never been a positively disagreeable
object to him. But now he was ill at ease about her. She troubled his
peace. He would have preferred to put her idea aside altogether, if he
had known how. Perhaps - who shall decide on such mysteries! - he was
afraid that he might come to hate her.

When little Florence timidly presented herself, Mr Dombey stopped
in his pacing up and down and looked towards her. Had he looked with
greater interest and with a father's eye, he might have read in her
keen glance the impulses and fears that made her waver; the passionate
desire to run clinging to him, crying, as she hid her face in his
embrace, 'Oh father, try to love me! there's no one else!' the dread
of a repulse; the fear of being too bold, and of offending him; the
pitiable need in which she stood of some assurance and encouragement;
and how her overcharged young heart was wandering to find some natural


resting-place, for its sorrow and affection.

But he saw nothing of this. He saw her pause irresolutely at the
door and look towards him; and he saw no more.

'Come in,' he said, 'come in: what is the child afraid of?'

She came in; and after glancing round her for a moment with an
uncertain air, stood pressing her small hands hard together, close
within the door.

'Come here, Florence,' said her father, coldly. 'Do you know who I
am?'

'Yes, Papa.'

'Have you nothing to say to me?'

The tears that stood in her eyes as she raised them quickly to his
face, were frozen by the expression it wore. She looked down again,
and put out her trembling hand.

Mr Dombey took it loosely in his own, and stood looking down upon
her for a moment, as if he knew as little as the child, what to say or
do.

'There! Be a good girl,' he said, patting her on the head, and
regarding her as it were by stealth with a disturbed and doubtful
look. 'Go to Richards! Go!'

His little daughter hesitated for another instant as though she
would have clung about him still, or had some lingering hope that he
might raise her in his arms and kiss her. She looked up in his face
once more. He thought how like her expression was then, to what it had
been when she looked round at the Doctor - that night - and
instinctively dropped her hand and turned away.

It was not difficult to perceive that Florence was at a great
disadvantage in her father's presence. It was not only a constraint
upon the child's mind, but even upon the natural grace and freedom of
her actions. As she sported and played about her baby brother that
night, her manner was seldom so winning and so pretty as it naturally
was, and sometimes when in his pacing to and fro, he came near her
(she had, perhaps, for the moment, forgotten him) it changed upon the
instant and became forced and embarrassed.

Still, Polly persevered with all the better heart for seeing this;
and, judging of Mr Dombey by herself, had great confidence in the mute
appeal of poor little Florence's mourning dress.' It's hard indeed,'
thought Polly, 'if he takes only to one little motherless child, when
he has another, and that a girl, before his eyes.'

So, Polly kept her before his eyes, as long as she could, and
managed so well with little Paul, as to make it very plain that he was
all the livelier for his sister's company. When it was time to
withdraw upstairs again, she would have sent Florence into the inner
room to say good-night to her father, but the child was timid and drew
back; and when she urged her again, said, spreading her hands before
her eyes, as if to shut out her own unworthiness, 'Oh no, no! He don't
want me. He don't want me!'

The little altercation between them had attracted the notice of Mr
Dombey, who inquired from the table where he was sitting at his wine,
what the matter was.


'Miss Florence was afraid of interrupting, Sir, if she came in to
say good-night,' said Richards.

'It doesn't matter,' returned Mr Dombey. 'You can let her come and
go without regarding me.'

The child shrunk as she listened - and was gone, before her humble
friend looked round again.

However, Polly triumphed not a little in the success of her
well-intentioned scheme, and in the address with which she had brought
it to bear: whereof she made a full disclosure to Spitfire when she
was once more safely entrenched upstairs. Miss Nipper received that
proof of her confidence, as well as the prospect of their free
association for the future, rather coldly, and was anything but
enthusiastic in her demonstrations of joy.

'I thought you would have been pleased,' said Polly.

'Oh yes, Mrs Richards, I'm very well pleased, thank you,' returned
Susan, who had suddenly become so very upright that she seemed to have
put an additional bone in her stays.

'You don't show it,' said Polly.

'Oh! Being only a permanency I couldn't be expected to show it like
a temporary,' said Susan Nipper. 'Temporaries carries it all before
'em here, I find, but though there's a excellent party-wall between
this house and the next, I mayn't exactly like to go to it, Mrs
Richards, notwithstanding!'

CHAPTER 4.

In which some more First Appearances are made on the Stage of these
Adventures

Though the offices of Dombey and Son were within the liberties of
the City of London, and within hearing of Bow Bells, when their
clashing voices were not drowned by the uproar in the streets, yet
were there hints of adventurous and romantic story to be observed in
some of the adjacent objects. Gog and Magog held their state within
ten minutes' walk; the Royal Exchange was close at hand; the Bank of
England, with its vaults of gold and silver 'down among the dead men'
underground, was their magnificent neighbour. Just round the corner
stood the rich East India House, teeming with suggestions of precious
stuffs and stones, tigers, elephants, howdahs, hookahs, umbrellas,
palm trees, palanquins, and gorgeous princes of a brown complexion
sitting on carpets, with their slippers very much turned up at the
toes. Anywhere in the immediate vicinity there might be seen pictures
of ships speeding away full sail to all parts of the world; outfitting
warehouses ready to pack off anybody anywhere, fully equipped in half
an hour; and little timber midshipmen in obsolete naval uniforms,
eternally employed outside the shop doors of nautical
Instrument-makers in taking observations of the hackney carriages.

Sole master and proprietor of one of these effigies - of that which
might be called, familiar!y, the woodenest - of that which thrust
itself out above the pavement, right leg foremost, with a suavity the
least endurable, and had the shoe buckles and flapped waistcoat the


least reconcileable to human reason, and bore at its right eye the
most offensively disproportionate piece of machinery - sole master and
proprietor of that Midshipman, and proud of him too, an elderly
gentleman in a Welsh wig had paid house-rent, taxes, rates, and dues,
for more years than many a full-grown midshipman of flesh and blood
has numbered in his life; and midshipmen who have attained a pretty
green old age, have not been wanting in the English Navy.

The stock-in-trade of this old gentleman comprised chronometers,
barometers, telescopes, compasses, charts, maps, sextants, quadrants,
and specimens of every kind of instrument used in the working of a
ship's course, or the keeping of a ship's reckoning, or the
prosecuting of a ship's discoveries. Objects in brass and glass were
in his drawers and on his shelves, which none but the initiated could
have found the top of, or guessed the use of, or having once examined,
could have ever got back again into their mahogany nests without
assistance. Everything was jammed into the tightest cases, fitted into
the narrowest corners, fenced up behind the most impertinent cushions,
and screwed into the acutest angles, to prevent its philosophical
composure from being disturbed by the rolling of the sea. Such
extraordinary precautions were taken in every instance to save room,
and keep the thing compact; and so much practical navigation was
fitted, and cushioned, and screwed into every box (whether the box was
a mere slab, as some were, or something between a cocked hat and a
star-fish, as others were, and those quite mild and modest boxes as
compared with others); that the shop itself, partaking of the general
infection, seemed almost to become a snug, sea-going, ship-shape
concern, wanting only good sea-room, in the event of an unexpected
launch, to work its way securely to any desert island in the world.

Many minor incidents in the household life of the Ships'

Instrument-maker who was proud of his little Midshipman, assisted
and bore out this fancy. His acquaintance lying chiefly among
ship-chandlers and so forth, he had always plenty of the veritable
ships' biscuit on his table. It was familiar with dried meats and
tongues, possessing an extraordinary flavour of rope yarn. Pickles
were produced upon it, in great wholesale jars, with 'dealer in all
kinds of Ships' Provisions' on the label; spirits were set forth in
case bottles with no throats. Old prints of ships with alphabetical
references to their various mysteries, hung in frames upon the walls;
the Tartar Frigate under weigh, was on the plates; outlandish shells,
seaweeds, and mosses, decorated the chimney-piece; the little
wainscotted back parlour was lighted by a sky-light, like a cabin.

Here he lived too, in skipper-like state, all alone with his nephew
Walter: a boy of fourteen who looked quite enough like a midshipman,
to carry out the prevailing idea. But there it ended, for Solomon
Gills himself (more generally called old Sol) was far from having a
maritime appearance. To say nothing of his Welsh wig, which was as
plain and stubborn a Welsh wig as ever was worn, and in which he
looked like anything but a Rover, he was a slow, quiet-spoken,
thoughtful old fellow, with eyes as red as if they had been small suns
looking at you through a fog; and a newly-awakened manner, such as he
might have acquired by having stared for three or four days
successively through every optical instrument in his shop, and
suddenly came back to the world again, to find it green. The only
change ever known in his outward man, was from a complete suit of
coffee-colour cut very square, and ornamented with glaring buttons, to
the same suit of coffee-colour minus the inexpressibles, which were
then of a pale nankeen. He wore a very precise shirt-frill, and
carried a pair of first-rate spectacles on his forehead, and a
tremendous chronometer in his fob, rather than doubt which precious
possession, he would have believed in a conspiracy against it on part


of all the clocks and watches in the City, and even of the very Sun
itself. Such as he was, such he had been in the shop and parlour
behind the little Midshipman, for years upon years; going regularly
aloft to bed every night in a howling garret remote from the lodgers,
where, when gentlemen of England who lived below at ease had little or
no idea of the state of the weather, it often blew great guns.

It is half-past five o'clock, and an autumn afternoon, when the
reader and Solomon Gills become acquainted. Solomon Gills is in the
act of seeing what time it is by the unimpeachable chronometer. The
usual daily clearance has been making in the City for an hour or more;
and the human tide is still rolling westward. 'The streets have
thinned,' as Mr Gills says, 'very much.' It threatens to be wet
to-night. All the weatherglasses in the shop are in low spirits, and
the rain already shines upon the cocked hat of the wooden Midshipman.

'Where's Walter, I wonder!' said Solomon Gills, after he had
carefully put up the chronometer again. 'Here's dinner been ready,
half an hour, and no Walter!'

Turning round upon his stool behind the counter, Mr Gills looked
out among the instruments in the window, to see if his nephew might be
crossing the road. No. He was not among the bobbing umbrellas, and he
certainly was not the newspaper boy in the oilskin cap who was slowly
working his way along the piece of brass outside, writing his name
over Mr Gills's name with his forefinger.

'If I didn't know he was too fond of me to make a run of it, and go
and enter himself aboard ship against my wishes, I should begin to be
fidgetty,' said Mr Gills, tapping two or three weather-glasses with
his knuckles. 'I really should. All in the Downs, eh! Lots of
moisture! Well! it's wanted.'

I believe,' said Mr Gills, blowing the dust off the glass top of a
compass-case, 'that you don't point more direct and due to the back
parlour than the boy's inclination does after all. And the parlour
couldn't bear straighter either. Due north. Not the twentieth part of
a point either way.'

'Halloa, Uncle Sol!'

'Halloa, my boy!' cried the Instrument-maker, turning briskly
round. 'What! you are here, are you?'

A cheerful looking, merry boy, fresh with running home in the rain;
fair-faced, bright-eyed, and curly-haired.

'Well, Uncle, how have you got on without me all day? Is dinner
ready? I'm so hungry.'

'As to getting on,' said Solomon good-naturedly, 'it would be odd
if I couldn't get on without a young dog like you a great deal better
than with you. As to dinner being ready, it's been ready this half
hour and waiting for you. As to being hungry, I am!'

'Come along then, Uncle!' cried the boy. 'Hurrah for the admiral!'

'Confound the admiral!' returned Solomon Gills. 'You mean the Lord
Mayor.'

'No I don't!' cried the boy. 'Hurrah for the admiral! Hurrah for
the admiral! For-ward!'

At this word of command, the Welsh wig and its wearer were borne


without resistance into the back parlour, as at the head of a boarding
party of five hundred men; and Uncle Sol and his nephew were speedily
engaged on a fried sole with a prospect of steak to follow.

'The Lord Mayor, Wally,' said Solomon, 'for ever! No more admirals.
The Lord Mayor's your admiral.'

'Oh, is he though!' said the boy, shaking his head. 'Why, the Sword
Bearer's better than him. He draws his sword sometimes.

'And a pretty figure he cuts with it for his pains,' returned the
Uncle. 'Listen to me, Wally, listen to me. Look on the mantelshelf.'

'Why who has cocked my silver mug up there, on a nail?' exclaimed
the boy.

I have,' said his Uncle. 'No more mugs now. We must begin to drink
out of glasses to-day, Walter. We are men of business. We belong to
the City. We started in life this morning.

'Well, Uncle,' said the boy, 'I'll drink out of anything you like,
so long as I can drink to you. Here's to you, Uncle Sol, and Hurrah
for the

'Lord Mayor,' interrupted the old man.

'For the Lord Mayor, Sheriffs, Common Council, and Livery,' said
the boy. 'Long life to 'em!'

The uncle nodded his head with great satisfaction. 'And now,' he
said, 'let's hear something about the Firm.'

'Oh! there's not much to be told about the Firm, Uncle,' said the
boy, plying his knife and fork.' It's a precious dark set of offices,
and in the room where I sit, there's a high fender, and an iron safe,
and some cards about ships that are going to sail, and an almanack,
and some desks and stools, and an inkbottle, and some books, and some
boxes, and a lot of cobwebs, and in one of 'em, just over my head, a
shrivelled-up blue-bottle that looks as if it had hung there ever so
long.'

'Nothing else?' said the Uncle.

'No, nothing else, except an old birdcage (I wonder how that ever
came there!) and a coal-scuttle.'

'No bankers' books, or cheque books, or bills, or such tokens of
wealth rolling in from day to day?' said old Sol, looking wistfully at
his nephew out of the fog that always seemed to hang about him, and
laying an unctuous emphasis upon the words.

'Oh yes, plenty of that I suppose,' returned his nephew carelessly;
'but all that sort of thing's in Mr Carker's room, or Mr Morfin's, or
MR Dombey's.'

'Has Mr Dombey been there to-day?' inquired the Uncle.

'Oh yes! In and out all day.'

'He didn't take any notice of you, I suppose?'.

'Yes he did. He walked up to my seat, - I wish he wasn't so solemn
and stiff, Uncle, - and said, Oh! you are the son of Mr Gills the
Ships' Instrument-maker." "NephewSir I said. I said nephewboy


said he. But I could take my oath he said son, Uncle.'

'You're mistaken I daresay. It's no matter.

'No, it's no matter, but he needn't have been so sharp, I thought.
There was no harm in it though he did say son. Then he told me that
you had spoken to him about me, and that he had found me employment in
the House accordingly, and that I was expected to be attentive and
punctual, and then he went away. I thought he didn't seem to like me
much.'

'You mean, I suppose,' observed the Instrument-maker, 'that you
didn't seem to like him much?'

'Well, Uncle,' returned the boy, laughing. 'Perhaps so; I never
thought of that.'

Solomon looked a little graver as he finished his dinner, and
glanced from time to time at the boy's bright face. When dinner was
done, and the cloth was cleared away (the entertainment had been
brought from a neighbouring eating-house), he lighted a candle, and
went down below into a little cellar, while his nephew, standing on
the mouldy staircase, dutifully held the light. After a moment's
groping here and there, he presently returned with a very
ancient-looking bottle, covered with dust and dirt.

'Why, Uncle Sol!' said the boy, 'what are you about? that's the
wonderful Madeira! - there's only one more bottle!'

Uncle Sol nodded his head, implying that he knew very well what he
was about; and having drawn the cork in solemn silence, filled two
glasses and set the bottle and a third clean glass on the table.

'You shall drink the other bottle, Wally,' he said, 'when you come
to good fortune; when you are a thriving, respected, happy man; when
the start in life you have made to-day shall have brought you, as I
pray Heaven it may! - to a smooth part of the course you have to run,
my child. My love to you!'

Some of the fog that hung about old Sol seemed to have got into his
throat; for he spoke huskily. His hand shook too, as he clinked his
glass against his nephew's. But having once got the wine to his lips,
he tossed it off like a man, and smacked them afterwards.

'Dear Uncle,' said the boy, affecting to make light of it, while
the tears stood in his eyes, 'for the honour you have done me, et
cetera, et cetera. I shall now beg to propose Mr Solomon Gills with
three times three and one cheer more. Hurrah! and you'll return
thanks, Uncle, when we drink the last bottle together; won't you?'

They clinked their glasses again; and Walter, who was hoarding his
wine, took a sip of it, and held the glass up to his eye with as
critical an air as he could possibly assume.

His Uncle sat looking at him for some time in silence. When their
eyes at last met, he began at once to pursue the theme that had
occupied his thoughts, aloud, as if he had been speaking all the time.

'You see, Walter,' he said, 'in truth this business is merely a
habit with me. I am so accustomed to the habit that I could hardly
live if I relinquished it: but there's nothing doing, nothing doing.
When that uniform was worn,' pointing out towards the little
Midshipman, 'then indeed, fortunes were to be made, and were made. But
competition, competition - new invention, new invention - alteration,


alteration - the world's gone past me. I hardly know where I am
myself, much less where my customers are.

'Never mind 'em, Uncle!'

'Since you came home from weekly boarding-school at Peckham, for
instance - and that's ten days,' said Solomon, 'I don't remember more
than one person that has come into the shop.'

'Two, Uncle, don't you recollect? There was the man who came to ask
for change for a sovereign - '

'That's the one,' said Solomon.

'Why Uncle! don't you call the woman anybody, who came to ask the
way to Mile-End Turnpike?'

'Oh! it's true,' said Solomon, 'I forgot her. Two persons.'

'To be sure, they didn't buy anything,' cried the boy.

'No. They didn't buy anything,' said Solomon, quietly.

'Nor want anything,' cried the boy.

'No. If they had, they'd gone to another shop,' said Solomon, in
the same tone.

'But there were two of 'em, Uncle,' cried the boy, as if that were
a great triumph. 'You said only one.'

'Well, Wally,' resumed the old man, after a short pause: 'not being
like the Savages who came on Robinson Crusoe's Island, we can't live
on a man who asks for change for a sovereign, and a woman who inquires
the way to Mile-End Turnpike. As I said just now, the world has gone
past me. I don't blame it; but I no longer understand it. Tradesmen
are not the same as they used to be, apprentices are not the same,
business is not the same, business commodities are not the same.
Seven-eighths of my stock is old-fashioned. I am an old-fashioned man
in an old-fashioned shop, in a street that is not the same as I
remember it. I have fallen behind the time, and am too old to catch it
again. Even the noise it makes a long way ahead, confuses me.'

Walter was going to speak, but his Uncle held up his hand.

'Therefore, Wally - therefore it is that I am anxious you should be
early in the busy world, and on the world's track. I am only the ghost
of this business - its substance vanished long ago; and when I die,
its ghost will be laid. As it is clearly no inheritance for you then,
I have thought it best to use for your advantage, almost the only
fragment of the old connexion that stands by me, through long habit.
Some people suppose me to be wealthy. I wish for your sake they were
right. But whatever I leave behind me, or whatever I can give you, you
in such a House as Dombey's are in the road to use well and make the
most of. Be diligent, try to like it, my dear boy, work for a steady
independence, and be happy!'

'I'll do everything I can, Uncle, to deserve your affection. Indeed
I will,' said the boy, earnestly

'I know it,' said Solomon. 'I am sure of it,' and he applied
himself to a second glass of the old Madeira, with increased relish.
'As to the Sea,' he pursued, 'that's well enough in fiction, Wally,
but it won't do in fact: it won't do at all. It's natural enough that


you should think about it, associating it with all these familiar
things; but it won't do, it won't do.'

Solomon Gills rubbed his hands with an air of stealthy enjoyment,
as he talked of the sea, though; and looked on the seafaring objects
about him with inexpressible complacency.

'Think of this wine for instance,' said old Sol, 'which has been to
the East Indies and back, I'm not able to say how often, and has been
once round the world. Think of the pitch-dark nights, the roaring
winds, and rolling seas:'

'The thunder, lightning, rain, hail, storm of all kinds,' said the
boy.

'To be sure,' said Solomon, - 'that this wine has passed through.
Think what a straining and creaking of timbers and masts: what a
whistling and howling of the gale through ropes and rigging:'

'What a clambering aloft of men, vying with each other who shall
lie out first upon the yards to furl the icy sails, while the ship
rolls and pitches, like mad!' cried his nephew.

'Exactly so,' said Solomon: 'has gone on, over the old cask that
held this wine. Why, when the Charming Sally went down in the - '

'In the Baltic Sea, in the dead of night; five-and-twenty minutes
past twelve when the captain's watch stopped in his pocket; he lying
dead against the main-mast - on the fourteenth of February, seventeen
forty-nine!' cried Walter, with great animation.

'Ay, to be sure!' cried old Sol, 'quite right! Then, there were
five hundred casks of such wine aboard; and all hands (except the
first mate, first lieutenant, two seamen, and a lady, in a leaky boat)
going to work to stave the casks, got drunk and died drunk, singing
Rule Britannia"when she settled and went downand ending with one
awful scream in chorus.'

'But when the George the Second drove ashoreUncleon the coast
of Cornwallin a dismal galetwo hours before daybreakon the
fourth of March'seventy-oneshe had near two hundred horses aboard;
and the horses breaking loose down belowearly in the galeand
tearing to and froand trampling each other to deathmade such
noisesand set up such human criesthat the crew believing the ship
to be full of devilssome of the best menlosing heart and head
went overboard in despairand only two were left aliveat lastto
tell the tale.'

'And when' said old Sol'when the Polyphemus - '

'Private West India Traderburden three hundred and fifty tons
CaptainJohn Brown of Deptford. OwnersWiggs and Co.' cried Walter.

'The same' said Sol; 'when she took firefour days' sail with a
fair wind out of Jamaica Harbourin the night - '

'There were two brothers on board' interposed his nephewspeaking
very fast and loud'and there not being room for both of them in the
only boat that wasn't swampedneither of them would consent to go
until the elder took the younger by the waistand flung him in. And
then the youngerrising in the boatcried outDear Edward, think
of your promised wife at home. I'm only a boy. No one waits at home
for me. Leap down into my place!and flung himself in the sea!'


The kindling eye and heightened colour of the boywho had risen
from his seat in the earnestness of what he said and feltseemed to
remind old Sol of something he had forgottenor that his encircling
mist had hitherto shut out. Instead of proceeding with any more
anecdotesas he had evidently intended but a moment beforehe gave a
short dry coughand said'Well! suppose we change the subject.'

The truth wasthat the simple-minded Uncle in his secret
attraction towards the marvellous and adventurous - of which he was
in some sorta distant relationby his trade - had greatly
encouraged the same attraction in the nephew; and that everything that
had ever been put before the boy to deter him from a life of
adventurehad had the usual unaccountable effect of sharpening his
taste for it. This is invariable. It would seem as if there never was
a book writtenor a story toldexpressly with the object of keeping
boys on shorewhich did not lure and charm them to the oceanas a
matter of course.

But an addition to the little party now made its appearancein the
shape of a gentleman in a wide suit of bluewith a hook instead of a
hand attached to his right wrist; very bushy black eyebrows; and a
thick stick in his left handcovered all over (like his nose) with
knobs. He wore a loose black silk handkerchief round his neckand
such a very large coarse shirt collarthat it looked like a small
sail. He was evidently the person for whom the spare wine-glass was
intendedand evidently knew it; for having taken off his rough outer
coatand hung upon a particular peg behind the doorsuch a hard
glazed hat as a sympathetic person's head might ache at the sight of
and which left a red rim round his own forehead as if he had been
wearing a tight basinhe brought a chair to where the clean glass
wasand sat himself down behind it. He was usually addressed as
Captainthis visitor; and had been a pilotor a skipperor a
privateersmanor all three perhaps; and was a very salt-looking man
indeed.

His faceremarkable for a brown soliditybrightened as he shook
hands with Uncle and nephew; but he seemed to be of a laconic
dispositionand merely said:

'How goes it?'

'All well' said Mr Gillspushing the bottle towards him.

He took it upand having surveyed and smelt itsaid with
extraordinary expression:

'The?'

'The' returned the Instrument-maker.

Upon that he whistled as he filled his glassand seemed to think
they were making holiday indeed.

'Wal'r!' he saidarranging his hair (which was thin) with his
hookand then pointing it at the Instrument-maker'Look at him!
Love! Honour! And Obey! Overhaul your catechism till you find that
passageand when found turn the leaf down. Successmy boy!'

He was so perfectly satisfied both with his quotation and his
reference to itthat he could not help repeating the words again in a
low voiceand saying he had forgotten 'em these forty year.

'But I never wanted two or three words in my life that I didn't
know where to lay my hand upon 'emGills' he observed. 'It comes of


not wasting language as some do.'

The reflection perhaps reminded him that he had betterlike young
Norval's father'"ncrease his store." At any rate he became silent
and remained sountil old Sol went out into the shop to light it up
when he turned to Walterand saidwithout any introductory remark:

'I suppose he could make a clock if he tried?'

'I shouldn't wonderCaptain Cuttle' returned the boy.

'And it would go!' said Captain Cuttlemaking a species of serpent
in the air with his hook. 'Lordhow that clock would go!'

For a moment or two he seemed quite lost in contemplating the pace
of this ideal timepieceand sat looking at the boy as if his face
were the dial.

'But he's chockful of science' he observedwaving his hook
towards the stock-in-trade. 'Look'ye here! Here's a collection of 'em.
Earthairor water. It's all one. Only say where you'll have it. Up
in a balloon? There you are. Down in a bell? There you are. D'ye want
to put the North Star in a pair of scales and weigh it? He'll do it
for you.'

It may be gathered from these remarks that Captain Cuttle's
reverence for the stock of instruments was profoundand that his
philosophy knew little or no distinction between trading in it and
inventing it.

'Ah!' he saidwith a sigh'it's a fine thing to understand 'em.
And yet it's a fine thing not to understand 'em. I hardly know which
is best. It's so comfortable to sit here and feel that you might be
weighedmeasuredmagnifiedelectrifiedpolarizedplayed the very
devil with: and never know how.'

Nothing short of the wonderful Madeiracombined with the occasion
(which rendered it desirable to improve and expand Walter's mind)
could have ever loosened his tongue to the extent of giving utterance
to this prodigious oration. He seemed quite amazed himself at the
manner in which it opened up to view the sources of the taciturn
delight he had had in eating Sunday dinners in that parlour for ten
years. Becoming a sadder and a wiser manhe mused and held his peace.

'Come!' cried the subject of this admirationreturning. 'Before
you have your glass of grogNedwe must finish the bottle.'

'Stand by!' said Nedfilling his glass. 'Give the boy some more.'

'No morethank'eUncle!'

'Yesyes' said Sol'a little more. We'll finish the bottleto
the HouseNed - Walter's House. Why it may be his House one of these
daysin part. Who knows? Sir Richard Whittington married his master's
daughter.'

'"Turn again WhittingtonLord Mayor of Londonand when you are
old you will never depart from it' interposed the Captain. 'Wal'r!
Overhaul the book, my lad.'

'And although Mr Dombey hasn't a daughter,' Sol began.

'Yes, yes, he has, Uncle,' said the boy, reddening and laughing.


'Has he?' cried the old man. 'Indeed I think he has too.

'Oh! I know he has,' said the boy. 'Some of 'em were talking about
it in the office today. And they do say, Uncle and Captain Cuttle,'
lowering his voice, 'that he's taken a dislike to her, and that she's
left, unnoticed, among the servants, and that his mind's so set all
the while upon having his son in the House, that although he's only a
baby now, he is going to have balances struck oftener than formerly,
and the books kept closer than they used to be, and has even been seen
(when he thought he wasn't) walking in the Docks, looking at his ships
and property and all that, as if he was exulting like, over what he
and his son will possess together. That's what they say. Of course, I
don't know.

'He knows all about her already, you see,' said the
instrument-maker.

'Nonsense, Uncle,' cried the boy, still reddening and laughing,
boy-like. 'How can I help hearing what they tell me?'

'The Son's a little in our way at present, I'm afraid, Ned,' said
the old man, humouring the joke.

'Very much,' said the Captain.

'Nevertheless, we'll drink him,' pursued Sol. 'So, here's to Dombey
and Son.'

'Oh, very well, Uncle,' said the boy, merrily. 'Since you have
introduced the mention of her, and have connected me with her and have
said that I know all about her, I shall make bold to amend the toast.
So here's to Dombey - and Son - and Daughter!'

CHAPTER 5.

Paul's Progress and Christening

Little Paul, suffering no contamination from the blood of the
Toodles, grew stouter and stronger every day. Every day, too, he was
more and more ardently cherished by Miss Tox, whose devotion was so
far appreciated by Mr Dombey that he began to regard her as a woman of
great natural good sense, whose feelings did her credit and deserved
encouragement. He was so lavish of this condescension, that he not
only bowed to her, in a particular manner, on several occasions, but
even entrusted such stately recognitions of her to his sister as 'pray
tell your friend, Louisa, that she is very good,' or 'mention to Miss
Tox, Louisa, that I am obliged to her;'specialities which made a deep
impression on the lady thus distinguished.

Whether Miss Tox conceived that having been selected by the Fates
to welcome the little Dombey before he was born, in Kirby, Beard and
Kirby's Best Mixed Pins, it therefore naturally devolved upon her to
greet him with all other forms of welcome in all other early stages of
his existence - or whether her overflowing goodness induced her to
volunteer into the domestic militia as a substitute in some sort for
his deceased Mama - or whether she was conscious of any other motives

-are questions which in this stage of the Firm's history herself only
could have solved. Nor have they much bearing on the fact (of which
there is no doubt), that Miss Tox's constancy and zeal were a heavy
discouragement to Richards, who lost flesh hourly under her patronage,

and was in some danger of being superintended to death.

Miss Tox was often in the habit of assuring Mrs Chick, that nothing
could exceed her interest in all connected with the development of
that sweet child;' and an observer of Miss Tox's proceedings might
have inferred so much without declaratory confirmation. She would
preside over the innocent repasts of the young heir, with ineffable
satisfaction, almost with an air of joint proprietorship with Richards
in the entertainment. At the little ceremonies of the bath and
toilette, she assisted with enthusiasm. The administration of
infantine doses of physic awakened all the active sympathy of her
character; and being on one occasion secreted in a cupboard (whither
she had fled in modesty), when Mr Dombey was introduced into the
nursery by his sister, to behold his son, in the course of preparation
for bed, taking a short walk uphill over Richards's gown, in a short
and airy linen jacket, Miss Tox was so transported beyond the ignorant
present as to be unable to refrain from crying out, 'Is he not
beautiful Mr Dombey! Is he not a Cupid, Sir!' and then almost sinking
behind the closet door with confusion and blushes.

'Louisa,' said Mr Dombey, one day, to his sister, 'I really think I
must present your friend with some little token, on the occasion of
Paul's christening. She has exerted herself so warmly in the child's
behalf from the first, and seems to understand her position so
thoroughly (a very rare merit in this world, I am sorry to say), that
it would really be agreeable to me to notice her.'

Let it be no detraction from the merits of Miss Tox, to hint that
in Mr Dombey's eyes, as in some others that occasionally see the
light, they only achieved that mighty piece of knowledge, the
understanding of their own position, who showed a fitting reverence
for his. It was not so much their merit that they knew themselves, as
that they knew him, and bowed low before him.

'My dear Paul,' returned his sister, 'you do Miss Tox but justice,
as a man of your penetration was sure, I knew, to do. I believe if
there are three words in the English language for which she has a
respect amounting almost to veneration, those words are, Dombey and
Son.'

'Well,' said Mr Dombey, 'I believe it. It does Miss Tox credit.'

'And as to anything in the shape of a token, my dear Paul,' pursued
his sister, 'all I can say is that anything you give Miss Tox will be
hoarded and prized, I am sure, like a relic. But there is a way, my
dear Paul, of showing your sense of Miss Tox's friendliness in a still
more flattering and acceptable manner, if you should be so inclined.'

'How is that?' asked Mr Dombey.

'Godfathers, of course,' continued Mrs Chick, 'are important in
point of connexion and influence.'

'I don't know why they should be, to my son, said Mr Dombey,
coldly.

'Very true, my dear Paul,' retorted Mrs Chick, with an
extraordinary show of animation, to cover the suddenness of her
conversion; 'and spoken like yourself. I might have expected nothing
else from you. I might have known that such would have been your
opinion. Perhaps;' here Mrs Chick faltered again, as not quite
comfortably feeling her way; 'perhaps that is a reason why you might
have the less objection to allowing Miss Tox to be godmother to the
dear thing, if it were only as deputy and proxy for someone else. That


it would be received as a great honour and distinction, Paul, I need
not say.

'Louisa,' said Mr Dombey, after a short pause, 'it is not to be
supposed - '

'Certainly not,' cried Mrs Chick, hastening to anticipate a
refusal, 'I never thought it was.'

Mr Dombey looked at her impatiently.

'Don't flurry me, my dear Paul,' said his sister; 'for that
destroys me. I am far from strong. I have not been quite myself, since
poor dear Fanny departed.'

Mr Dombey glanced at the pocket-handkerchief which his sister
applied to her eyes, and resumed:

'It is not be supposed, I say 'And I say,' murmured Mrs Chick,
'that I never thought it was.'

'Good Heaven, Louisa!' said Mr Dombey.

'No, my dear Paul,' she remonstrated with tearful dignity, 'I must
really be allowed to speak. I am not so clever, or so reasoning, or so
eloquent, or so anything, as you are. I know that very well. So much
the worse for me. But if they were the last words I had to utter - and
last words should be very solemn to you and me, Paul, after poor dear
Fanny - I would still say I never thought it was. And what is more,'
added Mrs Chick with increased dignity, as if she had withheld her
crushing argument until now, 'I never did think it was.' Mr Dombey
walked to the window and back again.

'It is not to be supposed, Louisa,' he said (Mrs Chick had nailed
her colours to the mast, and repeated 'I know it isn't,' but he took
no notice of it), 'but that there are many persons who, supposing that
I recognised any claim at all in such a case, have a claim upon me
superior to Miss Tox's. But I do not. I recognise no such thing. Paul
and myself will be able, when the time comes, to hold our own - the
House, in other words, will be able to hold its own, and maintain its
own, and hand down its own of itself, and without any such
common-place aids. The kind of foreign help which people usually seek
for their children, I can afford to despise; being above it, I hope.
So that Paul's infancy and childhood pass away well, and I see him
becoming qualified without waste of time for the career on which he is
destined to enter, I am satisfied. He will make what powerful friends
he pleases in after-life, when he is actively maintaining - and
extending, if that is possible - the dignity and credit of the Firm.
Until then, I am enough for him, perhaps, and all in all. I have no
wish that people should step in between us. I would much rather show
my sense of the obliging conduct of a deserving person like your
friend. Therefore let it be so; and your husband and myself will do
well enough for the other sponsors, I daresay.'

In the course of these remarks, delivered with great majesty and
grandeur, Mr Dombey had truly revealed the secret feelings of his
breast. An indescribable distrust of anybody stepping in between
himself and his son; a haughty dread of having any rival or partner in
the boy's respect and deference; a sharp misgiving, recently acquired,
that he was not infallible in his power of bending and binding human
wills; as sharp a jealousy of any second check or cross; these were,
at that time the master keys of his soul. In all his life, he had
never made a friend. His cold and distant nature had neither sought
one, nor found one. And now, when that nature concentrated its whole


force so strongly on a partial scheme of parental interest and
ambition, it seemed as if its icy current, instead of being released
by this influence, and running clear and free, had thawed for but an
instant to admit its burden, and then frozen with it into one
unyielding block.

Elevated thus to the godmothership of little Paul, in virtue of her
insignificance, Miss Tox was from that hour chosen and appointed to
office; and Mr Dombey further signified his pleasure that the
ceremony, already long delayed, should take place without further
postponement. His sister, who had been far from anticipating so signal
a success, withdrew as soon as she could, to communicate it to her
best of friends; and Mr Dombey was left alone in his library. He had
already laid his hand upon the bellrope to convey his usual summons to
Richards, when his eye fell upon a writing-desk, belonging to his
deceased wife, which had been taken, among other things, from a
cabinet in her chamber. It was not the first time that his eye had
lighted on it He carried the key in his pocket; and he brought it to
his table and opened it now - having previously locked the room door with
a well-accustomed hand.

From beneath a leaf of torn and cancelled scraps of paper, he took
one letter that remained entire. Involuntarily holding his breath as
he opened this document, and 'bating in the stealthy action something
of his arrogant demeanour, he s at down, resting his head upon one
hand, and read it through.

He read it slowly and attentively, and with a nice particularity to
every syllable. Otherwise than as his great deliberation seemed
unnatural, and perhaps the result of an effort equally great, he
allowed no sign of emotion to escape him. When he had read it through,
he folded and refolded it slowly several times, and tore it carefully
into fragments. Checking his hand in the act of throwing these away,
he put them in his pocket, as if unwilling to trust them even to the
chances of being re-united and deciphered; and instead of ringing, as
usual, for little Paul, he sat solitary, all the evening, in his
cheerless room.

There was anything but solitude in the nursery; for there, Mrs
Chick and Miss Tox were enjoying a social evening, so much to the
disgust of Miss Susan Nipper, that that young lady embraced every
opportunity of making wry faces behind the door. Her feelings were so
much excited on the occasion, that she found it indispensable to
afford them this relief, even without having the comfort of any
audience or sympathy whatever. As the knight-errants of old relieved
their minds by carving their mistress's names in deserts, and
wildernesses, and other savage places where there was no probability
of there ever being anybody to read them, so did Miss Susan Nipper
curl her snub nose into drawers and wardrobes, put away winks of
disparagement in cupboards, shed derisive squints into stone pitchers,
and contradict and call names out in the passage.

The two interlopers, however, blissfully unconscious of the young
lady's sentiments, saw little Paul safe through all the stages of
undressing, airy exercise, supper and bed; and then sat down to tea
before the fire. The two children now lay, through the good offices of
Polly, in one room; and it was not until the ladies were established
at their tea-table that, happening to look towards the little beds,
they thought of Florence.

'How sound she sleeps!' said Miss Tox.

'Why, you know, my dear, she takes a great deal of exercise in the
course of the day,' returned Mrs Chick, 'playing about little Paul so


much.'

'She is a curious child,' said Miss Tox.

'My dear,' retorted Mrs Chick, in a low voice: 'Her Mama, all
over!'

'In deed!' said Miss Tox. 'Ah dear me!'

A tone of most extraordinary compassion Miss Tox said it in, though
she had no distinct idea why, except that it was expected of her.

'Florence will never, never, never be a Dombey,'said Mrs Chick,
'not if she lives to be a thousand years old.'

Miss Tox elevated her eyebrows, and was again full of

commiseration.

'I quite fret and worry myself about her,' said Mrs Chick, with a
sigh of modest merit. 'I really don't see what is to become of her
when she grows older, or what position she is to take. She don't gain
on her Papa in the least. How can one expect she should, when she is
so very unlike a Dombey?'

Miss Tox looked as if she saw no way out of such a cogent argument
as that, at all.

'And the child, you see,' said Mrs Chick, in deep confidence, 'has
poor dear Fanny's nature. She'll never make an effort in after-life,
I'll venture to say. Never! She'll never wind and twine herself about
her Papa's heart like - '

'Like the ivy?' suggested Miss Tox.

'Like the ivy,' Mrs Chick assented. 'Never! She'll never glide and
nestle into the bosom of her Papa's affections like - the - '

'Startled fawn?' suggested Miss Tox.

'Like the startled fawn,' said Mrs Chick. 'Never! Poor Fanny! Yet,
how I loved her!'

'You must not distress yourself, my dear,' said Miss Tox, in a
soothing voice. 'Now really! You have too much feeling.'

'We have all our faults,' said Mrs Chick, weeping and shaking her
head. 'I daresay we have. I never was blind to hers. I never said I
was. Far from it. Yet how I loved her!'

What a satisfaction it was to Mrs Chick - a common-place piece of
folly enough, compared with whom her sister-in-law had been a very
angel of womanly intelligence and gentleness - to patronise and be
tender to the memory of that lady: in exact pursuance of her conduct
to her in her lifetime: and to thoroughly believe herself, and take
herself in, and make herself uncommonly comfortable on the strength of
her toleration! What a mighty pleasant virtue toleration should be
when we are right, to be so very pleasant when we are wrong, and quite
unable to demonstrate how we come to be invested with the privilege of
exercising it!

Mrs Chick was yet drying her eyes and shaking her head, when
Richards made bold to caution her that Miss Florence was awake and
sitting in her bed. She had risen, as the nurse said, and the lashes


of her eyes were wet with tears. But no one saw them glistening save
Polly. No one else leant over her, and whispered soothing words to
her, or was near enough to hear the flutter of her beating heart.

'Oh! dear nurse!' said the child, looking earnestly up in her face,
'let me lie by my brother!'

'Why, my pet?' said Richards.

'Oh! I think he loves me,' cried the child wildly. 'Let me lie by
him. Pray do!'

Mrs Chick interposed with some motherly words about going to sleep
like a dear, but Florence repeated her supplication, with a frightened
look, and in a voice broken by sobs and tears.

'I'll not wake him,' she said, covering her face and hanging down
her head. 'I'll only touch him with my hand, and go to sleep. Oh,
pray, pray, let me lie by my brother to-night, for I believe he's fond
of me!'

Richards took her without a word, and carrying her to the little
bed in which the infant was sleeping, laid her down by his side. She
crept as near him as she could without disturbing his rest; and
stretching out one arm so that it timidly embraced his neck, and
hiding her face on the other, over which her damp and scattered hair
fell loose, lay motionless.

'Poor little thing,' said Miss Tox; 'she has been dreaming, I
daresay.'

Dreaming, perhaps, of loving tones for ever silent, of loving eyes
for ever closed, of loving arms again wound round her, and relaxing in
that dream within the dam which no tongue can relate. Seeking, perhaps

-in dreams - some natural comfort for a heart, deeply and sorely
wounded, though so young a child's: and finding it, perhaps, in
dreams, if not in waking, cold, substantial truth. This trivial
incident had so interrupted the current of conversation, that it was
difficult of resumption; and Mrs Chick moreover had been so affected
by the contemplation of her own tolerant nature, that she was not in
spirits. The two friends accordingly soon made an end of their tea,
and a servant was despatched to fetch a hackney cabriolet for Miss
Tox. Miss Tox had great experience in hackney cabs, and her starting
in one was generally a work of time, as she was systematic in the
preparatory arrangements.
'Have the goodness, if you please, Towlinson,' said Miss Tox,
'first of all, to carry out a pen and ink and take his number
legibly.'

'Yes, Miss,' said Towlinson.

'Then, if you please, Towlinson,'said Miss Tox, 'have the goodness

to turn the cushion. Which,' said Miss Tox apart to Mrs Chick, 'is
generally damp, my dear.'

'Yes, Miss,' said Towlinson.

'I'll trouble you also, if you please, Towlinson,' said Miss Tox,
'with this card and this shilling. He's to drive to the card, and is
to understand that he will not on any account have more than the
shilling.'


'No, Miss,' said Towlinson.

'And - I'm sorry to give you so much trouble, Towlinson,' said Miss
Tox, looking at him pensively.

'Not at all, Miss,' said Towlinson.

'Mention to the man, then, if you please, Towlinson,' said Miss
Tox, 'that the lady's uncle is a magistrate, and that if he gives her
any of his impertinence he will be punished terribly. You can pretend
to say that, if you please, Towlinson, in a friendly way, and because
you know it was done to another man, who died.'

'Certainly, Miss,' said Towlinson.

'And now good-night to my sweet, sweet, sweet, godson,' said Miss
Tox, with a soft shower of kisses at each repetition of the adjective;
'and Louisa, my dear friend, promise me to take a little something
warm before you go to bed, and not to distress yourself!'

It was with extreme difficulty that Nipper, the black-eyed, who
looked on steadfastly, contained herself at this crisis, and until the
subsequent departure of Mrs Chick. But the nursery being at length
free of visitors, she made herself some recompense for her late
restraint.

'You might keep me in a strait-waistcoat for six weeks,' said
Nipper, 'and when I got it off I'd only be more aggravated, who ever
heard the like of them two Griffins, Mrs Richards?'

'And then to talk of having been dreaming, poor dear!' said Polly.

'Oh you beauties!' cried Susan Nipper, affecting to salute the door
by which the ladies had departed. 'Never be a Dombey won't she? It's
to be hoped she won't, we don't want any more such, one's enough.'

'Don't wake the children, Susan dear,' said Polly.

'I'm very much beholden to you, Mrs Richards,' said Susan, who was
not by any means discriminating in her wrath, 'and really feel it as a
honour to receive your commands, being a black slave and a mulotter.
Mrs Richards, if there's any other orders, you can give me, pray
mention 'em.'

'Nonsense; orders,' said Polly.

'Oh! bless your heart, Mrs Richards,' cried Susan, 'temporaries
always orders permanencies here, didn't you know that, why wherever
was you born, Mrs Richards? But wherever you was born, Mrs Richards,'
pursued Spitfire, shaking her head resolutely, 'and whenever, and
however (which is best known to yourself), you may bear in mind,
please, that it's one thing to give orders, and quite another thing to
take 'em. A person may tell a person to dive off a bridge head
foremost into five-and-forty feet of water, Mrs Richards, but a person
may be very far from diving.'

'There now,' said Polly, 'you're angry because you're a good little
thing, and fond of Miss Florence; and yet you turn round on me,
because there's nobody else.'

'It's very easy for some to keep their tempers, and be soft-spoken,
Mrs Richards,' returned Susan, slightly mollified, 'when their child's
made as much of as a prince, and is petted and patted till it wishes
its friends further, but when a sweet young pretty innocent, that


never ought to have a cross word spoken to or of it, is rundown, the
case is very different indeed. My goodness gracious me, Miss Floy, you
naughty, sinful child, if you don't shut your eyes this minute, I'll
call in them hobgoblins that lives in the cock-loft to come and eat
you up alive!'

Here Miss Nipper made a horrible lowing, supposed to issue from a
conscientious goblin of the bull species, impatient to discharge the
severe duty of his position. Having further composed her young charge
by covering her head with the bedclothes, and making three or four
angry dabs at the pillow, she folded her arms, and screwed up her
mouth, and sat looking at the fire for the rest of the evening.

Though little Paul was said, in nursery phrase, 'to take a deal of
notice for his age,' he took as little notice of all this as of the
preparations for his christening on the next day but one; which
nevertheless went on about him, as to his personal apparel, and that
of his sister and the two nurses, with great activity. Neither did he,
on the arrival of the appointed morning, show any sense of its
importance; being, on the contrary, unusually inclined to sleep, and
unusually inclined to take it ill in his attendants that they dressed
him to go out.

It happened to be an iron-grey autumnal day, with a shrewd east
wind blowing - a day in keeping with the proceedings. Mr Dombey
represented in himself the wind, the shade, and the autumn of the
christening. He stood in his library to receive the company, as hard
and cold as the weather; and when he looked out through the glass
room, at the trees in the little garden, their brown and yellow leaves
came fluttering down, as if he blighted them.

Ugh! They were black, cold rooms; and seemed to be in mourning,
like the inmates of the house. The books precisely matched as to size,
and drawn up in line, like soldiers, looked in their cold, hard,
slippery uniforms, as if they had but one idea among them, and that
was a freezer. The bookcase, glazed and locked, repudiated all
familiarities. Mr Pitt, in bronze, on the top, with no trace of his
celestial origin' about him, guarded the unattainable treasure like an
enchanted Moor. A dusty urn at each high corner, dug up from an
ancient tomb, preached desolation and decay, as from two pulpits; and
the chimney-glass, reflecting Mr Dombey and his portrait at one blow,
seemed fraught with melancholy meditations.

The stiff and stark fire-irons appeared to claim a nearer
relationship than anything else there to Mr Dombey, with his buttoned
coat, his white cravat, his heavy gold watch-chain, and his creaking
boots.

But this was before the arrival of Mr and Mrs Chick, his lawful
relatives, who soon presented themselves.

'My dear Paul,' Mrs Chick murmured, as she embraced him, 'the
beginning, I hope, of many joyful days!'

'Thank you, Louisa,' said Mr Dombey, grimly. 'How do you do, Mr
John?'

'How do you do, Sir?' said Chick.

He gave Mr Dombey his hand, as if he feared it might electrify him.
Mr Dombey tool: it as if it were a fish, or seaweed, or some such
clammy substance, and immediately returned it to him with exalted
politeness.


'Perhaps, Louisa,' said Mr Dombey, slightly turning his head in his
cravat, as if it were a socket, 'you would have preferred a fire?'


'Oh, my dear Paul, no,' said Mrs Chick, who had much ado to keep
her teeth from chattering; 'not for me.'


'Mr John,' said Mr Dombey, 'you are not sensible of any chill?'


Mr John, who had already got both his hands in his pockets over the
wrists, and was on the very threshold of that same canine chorus which
had given Mrs Chick so much offence on a former occasion, protested
that he was perfectly comfortable.


He added in a low voice, 'With my tiddle tol toor rul' - when he
was providentially stopped by Towlinson, who announced:


'Miss Tox!'


And enter that fair enslaver, with a blue nose and indescribably
frosty face, referable to her being very thinly clad in a maze of
fluttering odds and ends, to do honour to the ceremony.


'How do you do, Miss Tox?' said Mr Dombey.


Miss Tox, in the midst of her spreading gauzes, went down
altogether like an opera-glass shutting-up; she curtseyed so low, in
acknowledgment of Mr Dombey's advancing a step or two to meet her.


'I can never forget this occasion, Sir,' said Miss Tox, softly.
''Tis impossible. My dear Louisa, I can hardly believe the evidence of
my senses.'


If Miss Tox could believe the evidence of one of her senses, it was
a very cold day. That was quite clear. She took an early opportunity
of promoting the circulation in the tip of her nose by secretly
chafing it with her pocket handkerchief, lest, by its very low
temperature, it should disagreeably astonish the baby when she came to
kiss it.


The baby soon appeared, carried in great glory by Richards; while
Florence, in custody of that active young constable, Susan Nipper,
brought up the rear. Though the whole nursery party were dressed by
this time in lighter mourning than at first, there was enough in the
appearance of the bereaved children to make the day no brighter. The
baby too - it might have been Miss Tox's nose - began to cry. Thereby,
as it happened, preventing Mr Chick from the awkward fulfilment of a
very honest purpose he had; which was, to make much of Florence. For
this gentleman, insensible to the superior claims of a perfect Dombey
(perhaps on account of having the honour to be united to a Dombey
himself, and being familiar with excellence), really liked her, and
showed that he liked her, and was about to show it in his own way now,
when Paul cried, and his helpmate stopped him short


'Now Florence, child!' said her aunt, briskly, 'what are you doing,
love? Show yourself to him. Engage his attention, my dear!'


The atmosphere became or might have become colder and colder, when
Mr Dombey stood frigidly watching his little daughter, who, clapping
her hands, and standing On tip-toe before the throne of his son and
heir, lured him to bend down from his high estate, and look at her.
Some honest act of Richards's may have aided the effect, but he did
look down, and held his peace. As his sister hid behind her nurse, he
followed her with his eyes; and when she peeped out with a merry cry
to him, he sprang up and crowed lustily - laughing outright when she



ran in upon him; and seeming to fondle her curls with his tiny hands,
while she smothered him with kisses.

Was Mr Dombey pleased to see this? He testified no pleasure by the
relaxation of a nerve; but outward tokens of any kind of feeling were
unusual with him. If any sunbeam stole into the room to light the
children at their play, it never reached his face. He looked on so
fixedly and coldly, that the warm light vanished even from the
laughing eyes of little Florence, when, at last, they happened to meet
his.

It was a dull, grey, autumn day indeed, and in a minute's pause and
silence that took place, the leaves fell sorrowfully.

'Mr John,' said Mr Dombey, referring to his watch, and assuming his
hat and gloves. 'Take my sister, if you please: my arm today is Miss
Tox's. You had better go first with Master Paul, Richards. Be very
careful.'

In Mr Dombey's carriage, Dombey and Son, Miss Tox, Mrs Chick,
Richards, and Florence. In a little carriage following it, Susan
Nipper and the owner Mr Chick. Susan looking out of window, without
intermission, as a relief from the embarrassment of confronting the
large face of that gentleman, and thinking whenever anything rattled
that he was putting up in paper an appropriate pecuniary compliment
for herself.

Once upon the road to church, Mr Dombey clapped his hands for the
amusement of his son. At which instance of parental enthusiasm Miss
Tox was enchanted. But exclusive of this incident, the chief
difference between the christening party and a party in a mourning
coach consisted in the colours of the carriage and horses.

Arrived at the church steps, they were received by a portentous
beadle.' Mr Dombey dismounting first to help the ladies out, and
standing near him at the church door, looked like another beadle. A
beadle less gorgeous but more dreadful; the beadle of private life;
the beadle of our business and our bosoms.

Miss Tox's hand trembled as she slipped it through Mr Dombey's arm,
and felt herself escorted up the steps, preceded by a cocked hat and a
Babylonian collar. It seemed for a moment like that other solemn
institution, 'Wilt thou have this man, Lucretia?' 'Yes, I will.'

'Please to bring the child in quick out of the air there,'
whispered the beadle, holding open the inner door of the church.

Little Paul might have asked with Hamlet 'into my grave?' so chill
and earthy was the place. The tall shrouded pulpit and reading desk;
the dreary perspective of empty pews stretching away under the
galleries, and empty benches mounting to the roof and lost in the
shadow of the great grim organ; the dusty matting and cold stone
slabs; the grisly free seats' in the aisles; and the damp corner by
the bell-rope, where the black trestles used for funerals were stowed
away, along with some shovels and baskets, and a coil or two of
deadly-looking rope; the strange, unusual, uncomfortable smell, and
the cadaverous light; were all in unison. It was a cold and dismal
scene.

'There's a wedding just on, Sir,' said the beadle, 'but it'll be
over directly, if you'll walk into the westry here.

Before he turned again to lead the way, he gave Mr Dombey a bow and
a half smile of recognition, importing that he (the beadle) remembered


to have had the pleasure of attending on him when he buried his wife,
and hoped he had enjoyed himself since.

The very wedding looked dismal as they passed in front of the
altar. The bride was too old and the bridegroom too young, and a
superannuated beau with one eye and an eyeglass stuck in its blank
companion, was giving away the lady, while the friends were shivering.
In the vestry the fire was smoking; and an over-aged and over-worked
and under-paid attorney's clerk, 'making a search,' was running his
forefinger down the parchment pages of an immense register (one of a
long series of similar volumes) gorged with burials. Over the
fireplace was a ground-plan of the vaults underneath the church; and
Mr Chick, skimming the literary portion of it aloud, by way of
enlivening the company, read the reference to Mrs Dombey's tomb in
full, before he could stop himself.

After another cold interval, a wheezy little pew-opener afflicted
with an asthma, appropriate to the churchyard, if not to the church,
summoned them to the font - a rigid marble basin which seemed to have
been playing a churchyard game at cup and ball with its matter of fact
pedestal, and to have been just that moment caught on the top of it.
Here they waited some little time while the marriage party enrolled
themselves; and meanwhile the wheezy little pew-opener - partly in
consequence of her infirmity, and partly that the marriage party might
not forget her - went about the building coughing like a grampus.

Presently the clerk (the only cheerful-looking object there, and he
was an undertaker) came up with a jug of warm water, and said
something, as he poured it into the font, about taking the chill off;
which millions of gallons boiling hot could not have done for the
occasion. Then the clergyman, an amiable and mild-looking young
curate, but obviously afraid of the baby, appeared like the principal
character in a ghost-story, 'a tall figure all in white;' at sight of
whom Paul rent the air with his cries, and never left off again till
he was taken out black in the face.

Even when that event had happened, to the great relief of
everybody, he was heard under the portico, during the rest of the
ceremony, now fainter, now louder, now hushed, now bursting forth
again with an irrepressible sense of his wrongs. This so distracted
the attention of the two ladies, that Mrs Chick was constantly
deploying into the centre aisle, to send out messages by the
pew-opener, while Miss Tox kept her Prayer-book open at the Gunpowder
Plot, and occasionally read responses from that service.

During the whole of these proceedings, Mr Dombey remained as
impassive and gentlemanly as ever, and perhaps assisted in making it
so cold, that the young curate smoked at the mouth as he read. The
only time that he unbent his visage in the least, was when the
clergyman, in delivering (very unaffectedly and simply) the closing
exhortation, relative to the future examination of the child by the
sponsors, happened to rest his eye on Mr Chick; and then Mr Dombey
might have been seen to express by a majestic look, that he would like
to catch him at it.

It might have been well for Mr Dombey, if he had thought of his own
dignity a little less; and had thought of the great origin and purpose
of the ceremony in which he took so formal and so stiff a part, a
little more. His arrogance contrasted strangely with its history.

When it was all over, he again gave his arm to Miss Tox, and
conducted her to the vestry, where he informed the clergyman how much
pleasure it would have given him to have solicited the honour of his
company at dinner, but for the unfortunate state of his household


affairs. The register signed, and the fees paid, and the pew-opener
(whose cough was very bad again) remembered, and the beadle gratified,
and the sexton (who was accidentally on the doorsteps, looking with
great interest at the weather) not forgotten, they got into the
carriage again, and drove home in the same bleak fellowship.

There they found Mr Pitt turning up his nose at a cold collation,
set forth in a cold pomp of glass and silver, and looking more like a
dead dinner lying in state than a social refreshment. On their arrival
Miss Tox produced a mug for her godson, and Mr Chick a knife and fork
and spoon in a case. Mr Dombey also produced a bracelet for Miss Tox;
and, on the receipt of this token, Miss Tox was tenderly affected.

'Mr John,' said Mr Dombey, 'will you take the bottom of the table,
if you please? What have you got there, Mr John?'

'I have got a cold fillet of veal here, Sir,' replied Mr Chick,
rubbing his numbed hands hard together. 'What have you got there,
Sir?'

'This,' returned Mr Dombey, 'is some cold preparation of calf's
head, I think. I see cold fowls - ham - patties - salad - lobster.
Miss Tox will do me the honour of taking some wine? Champagne to Miss
Tox.'

There was a toothache in everything. The wine was so bitter cold
that it forced a little scream from Miss Tox, which she had great
difficulty in turning into a 'Hem!' The veal had come from such an
airy pantry, that the first taste of it had struck a sensation as of
cold lead to Mr Chick's extremities. Mr Dombey alone remained unmoved.
He might have been hung up for sale at a Russian fair as a specimen of
a frozen gentleman.

The prevailing influence was too much even for his sister. She made
no effort at flattery or small talk, and directed all her efforts to
looking as warm as she could.

'Well, Sir,' said Mr Chick, making a desperate plunge, after a long
silence, and filling a glass of sherry; 'I shall drink this, if you'll
allow me, Sir, to little Paul.'

'Bless him!' murmured Miss Tox, taking a sip of wine.

'Dear little Dombey!' murmured Mrs Chick.

'Mr John,' said Mr Dombey, with severe gravity, 'my son would feel
and express himself obliged to you, I have no doubt, if he could
appreciate the favour you have done him. He will prove, in time to
come, I trust, equal to any responsibility that the obliging
disposition of his relations and friends, in private, or the onerous
nature of our position, in public, may impose upon him.'

The tone in which this was said admitting of nothing more, Mr Chick
relapsed into low spirits and silence. Not so Miss Tox, who, having
listened to Mr Dombey with even a more emphatic attention than usual,
and with a more expressive tendency of her head to one side, now leant
across the table, and said to Mrs Chick softly:

'Louisa!'

'My dear,' said Mrs Chick.

'Onerous nature of our position in public may - I have forgotten


the exact term.'

'Expose him to,' said Mrs Chick.

'Pardon me, my dear,' returned Miss Tox, 'I think not. It was more
rounded and flowing. Obliging disposition of relations and friends in
private, or onerous nature of position in public - may - impose upon
him!'

'Impose upon him, to be sure,' said Mrs Chick.

Miss Tox struck her delicate hands together lightly, in triumph;
and added, casting up her eyes, 'eloquence indeed!'

Mr Dombey, in the meanwhile, had issued orders for the attendance
of Richards, who now entered curtseying, but without the baby; Paul
being asleep after the fatigues of the morning. Mr Dombey, having
delivered a glass of wine to this vassal, addressed her in the
following words: Miss Tox previously settling her head on one side,
and making other little arrangements for engraving them on her heart.

'During the six months or so, Richards, which have seen you an
inmate of this house, you have done your duty. Desiring to connect
some little service to you with this occasion, I considered how I
could best effect that object, and I also advised with my sister, Mrs

-'
'Chick,' interposed the gentleman of that name.

'Oh, hush if you please!' said Miss Tox.

'I was about to say to you, Richards,' resumed Mr Dombey, with an
appalling glance at Mr John, 'that I was further assisted in my
decision, by the recollection of a conversation I held with your
husband in this room, on the occasion of your being hired, when he
disclosed to me the melancholy fact that your family, himself at the
head, were sunk and steeped in ignorance.

Richards quailed under the magnificence of the reproof.

'I am far from being friendly,' pursued Mr Dombey, 'to what is
called by persons of levelling sentiments, general education. But it
is necessary that the inferior classes should continue to be taught to
know their position, and to conduct themselves properly. So far I
approve of schools. Having the power of nominating a child on the
foundation of an ancient establishment, called (from a worshipful
company) the Charitable Grinders; where not only is a wholesome
education bestowed upon the scholars, but where a dress and badge is
likewise provided for them; I have (first communicating, through Mrs
Chick, with your family) nominated your eldest son to an existing
vacancy; and he has this day, I am informed, assumed the habit. The
number of her son, I believe,' said Mr Dombey, turning to his sister
and speaking of the child as if he were a hackney-coach, is one
hundred and forty-seven. Louisa, you can tell her.'

'One hundred and forty-seven,' said Mrs Chick 'The dress, Richards,
is a nice, warm, blue baize tailed coat and cap, turned up with orange
coloured binding; red worsted stockings; and very strong leather
small-clothes. One might wear the articles one's self,' said Mrs
Chick, with enthusiasm, 'and be grateful.'

'There, Richards!' said Miss Tox. 'Now, indeed, you may be proud.
The Charitable Grinders!'


'I am sure I am very much obliged, Sir,' returned Richards faintly,
'and take it very kind that you should remember my little ones.' At
the same time a vision of Biler as a Charitable Grinder, with his very
small legs encased in the serviceable clothing described by Mrs Chick,
swam before Richards's eyes, and made them water.

'I am very glad to see you have so much feeling, Richards,' said
Miss Tox.

'It makes one almost hope, it really does,' said Mrs Chick, who
prided herself on taking trustful views of human nature, 'that there
may yet be some faint spark of gratitude and right feeling in the
world.'

Richards deferred to these compliments by curtseying and murmuring

her thanks; but finding it quite impossible to recover her spirits
from the disorder into which they had been thrown by the image of her
son in his precocious nether garments, she gradually approached the
door and was heartily relieved to escape by it.

Such temporary indications of a partial thaw that had appeared with
her, vanished with her; and the frost set in again, as cold and hard
as ever. Mr Chick was twice heard to hum a tune at the bottom of the
table, but on both occasions it was a fragment of the Dead March in
Saul. The party seemed to get colder and colder, and to be gradually
resolving itself into a congealed and solid state, like the collation
round which it was assembled. At length Mrs Chick looked at Miss Tox,
and Miss Tox returned the look, and they both rose and said it was
really time to go. Mr Dombey receiving this announcement with perfect
equanimity, they took leave of that gentleman, and presently departed
under the protection of Mr Chick; who, when they had turned their
backs upon the house and left its master in his usual solitary state,
put his hands in his pockets, threw himself back in the carriage, and
whistled 'With a hey ho chevy!' all through; conveying into his face
as he did so, an expression of such gloomy and terrible defiance, that
Mrs Chick dared not protest, or in any way molest him.

Richards, though she had little Paul on her lap, could not forget
her own first-born. She felt it was ungrateful; but the influence of
the day fell even on the Charitable Grinders, and she could hardly
help regarding his pewter badge, number one hundred and forty-seven,
as, somehow, a part of its formality and sternness. She spoke, too, in
the nursery, of his 'blessed legs,' and was again troubled by his
spectre in uniform.

'I don't know what I wouldn't give,' said Polly, 'to see the poor
little dear before he gets used to 'em.'

'Why, then, I tell you what, Mrs Richards,' retorted Nipper, who
had been admitted to her confidence, 'see him and make your mind
easy.'

'Mr Dombey wouldn't like it,' said Polly.

'Oh, wouldn't he, Mrs Richards!' retorted Nipper, 'he'd like it
very much, I think when he was asked.'

'You wouldn't ask him, I suppose, at all?' said Polly.

'No, Mrs Richards, quite contrairy,' returned Susan, 'and them two
inspectors Tox and Chick, not intending to be on duty tomorrow, as I
heard 'em say, me and Mid Floy will go along with you tomorrow
morning, and welcome, Mrs Richards, if you like, for we may as well


walk there as up and down a street, and better too.'

Polly rejected the idea pretty stoutly at first; but by little and
little she began to entertain it, as she entertained more and more
distinctly the forbidden pictures of her children, and her own home.
At length, arguing that there could be no great harm in calling for a
moment at the door, she yielded to the Nipper proposition.

The matter being settled thus, little Paul began to cry most
piteously, as if he had a foreboding that no good would come of it.

'What's the matter with the child?' asked Susan.

'He's cold, I think,' said Polly, walking with him to and fro, and
hushing him.

It was a bleak autumnal afternoon indeed; and as she walked, and
hushed, and, glancing through the dreary windows, pressed the little
fellow closer to her breast, the withered leaves came showering down.

CHAPTER 6.

Paul's Second Deprivation

Polly was beset by so many misgivings in the morning, that but for
the incessant promptings of her black-eyed companion, she would have
abandoned all thoughts of the expedition, and formally petitioned for
leave to see number one hundred and forty-seven, under the awful
shadow of Mr Dombey's roof. But Susan who was personally disposed in
favour of the excursion, and who (like Tony Lumpkin), if she could
bear the disappointments of other people with tolerable fortitude,
could not abide to disappoint herself, threw so many ingenious doubts
in the way of this second thought, and stimulated the original
intention with so many ingenious arguments, that almost as soon as Mr
Dombey's stately back was turned, and that gentleman was pursuing his
daily road towards the City, his unconscious son was on his way to
Staggs's Gardens.

This euphonious locality was situated in a suburb, known by the
inhabitants of Staggs's Gardens by the name of Camberling Town; a
designation which the Strangers' Map of London, as printed (with a
view to pleasant and commodious reference) on pocket handkerchiefs,
condenses, with some show of reason, into Camden Town. Hither the two
nurses bent their steps, accompanied by their charges; Richards
carrying Paul, of course, and Susan leading little Florence by the
hand, and giving her such jerks and pokes from time to time, as she
considered it wholesome to administer.

The first shock of a great earthquake had, just at that period,
rent the whole neighbourhood to its centre. Traces of its course were
visible on every side. Houses were knocked down; streets broken
through and stopped; deep pits and trenches dug in the ground;
enormous heaps of earth and clay thrown up; buildings that were
undermined and shaking, propped by great beams of wood. Here, a chaos
of carts, overthrown and jumbled together, lay topsy-turvy at the
bottom of a steep unnatural hill; there, confused treasures of iron
soaked and rusted in something that had accidentally become a pond.
Everywhere were bridges that led nowhere; thoroughfares that were
wholly impassable; Babel towers of chimneys, wanting half their
height; temporary wooden houses and enclosures, in the most unlikely


situations; carcases of ragged tenements, and fragments of unfinished
walls and arches, and piles of scaffolding, and wildernesses of
bricks, and giant forms of cranes, and tripods straddling above
nothing. There were a hundred thousand shapes and substances of
incompleteness, wildly mingled out of their places, upside down,
burrowing in the earth, aspiring in the air, mouldering in the water,
and unintelligible as any dream. Hot springs and fiery eruptions, the
usual attendants upon earthquakes, lent their contributions of
confusion to the scene. Boiling water hissed and heaved within
dilapidated walls; whence, also, the glare and roar of flames came
issuing forth; and mounds of ashes blocked up rights of way, and
wholly changed the law and custom of the neighbourhood.

In short, the yet unfinished and unopened Railroad was in progress;
and, from the very core of all this dire disorder, trailed smoothly
away, upon its mighty course of civilisation and improvement.

But as yet, the neighbourhood was shy to own the Railroad. One or
two bold speculators had projected streets; and one had built a
little, but had stopped among the mud and ashes to consider farther of
it. A bran-new Tavern, redolent of fresh mortar and size, and fronting
nothing at all, had taken for its sign The Railway Arms; but that
might be rash enterprise - and then it hoped to sell drink to the
workmen. So, the Excavators' House of Call had sprung up from a
beer-shop; and the old-established Ham and Beef Shop had become the
Railway Eating House, with a roast leg of pork daily, through
interested motives of a similar immediate and popular description.
Lodging-house keepers were favourable in like manner; and for the like
reasons were not to be trusted. The general belief was very slow.
There were frowzy fields, and cow-houses, and dunghills, and
dustheaps, and ditches, and gardens, and summer-houses, and
carpet-beating grounds, at the very door of the Railway. Little tumuli
of oyster shells in the oyster season, and of lobster shells in the
lobster season, and of broken crockery and faded cabbage leaves in all
seasons, encroached upon its high places. Posts, and rails, and old
cautions to trespassers, and backs of mean houses, and patches of
wretched vegetation, stared it out of countenance. Nothing was the
better for it, or thought of being so. If the miserable waste ground
lying near it could have laughed, it would have laughed it to scorn,
like many of the miserable neighbours.

Staggs's Gardens was uncommonly incredulous. It was a little row of
houses, with little squalid patches of ground before them, fenced off
with old doors, barrel staves, scraps of tarpaulin, and dead bushes;
with bottomless tin kettles and exhausted iron fenders, thrust into
the gaps. Here, the Staggs's Gardeners trained scarlet beans, kept
fowls and rabbits, erected rotten summer-houses (one was an old boat),
dried clothes, and smoked pipes. Some were of opinion that Staggs's
Gardens derived its name from a deceased capitalist, one Mr Staggs,
who had built it for his delectation. Others, who had a natural taste
for the country, held that it dated from those rural times when the
antlered herd, under the familiar denomination of Staggses, had
resorted to its shady precincts. Be this as it may, Staggs's Gardens
was regarded by its population as a sacred grove not to be withered by
Railroads; and so confident were they generally of its long outliving
any such ridiculous inventions, that the master chimney-sweeper at the
corner, who was understood to take the lead in the local politics of
the Gardens, had publicly declared that on the occasion of the
Railroad opening, if ever it did open, two of his boys should ascend
the flues of his dwelling, with instructions to hail the failure with
derisive cheers from the chimney-pots.

To this unhallowed spot, the very name of which had hitherto been
carefully concealed from Mr Dombey by his sister, was little Paul now


borne by Fate and Richards

'That's my house, Susan,' said Polly, pointing it out.

'Is it, indeed, Mrs Richards?' said Susan, condescendingly.

'And there's my sister Jemima at the door, I do declare' cried
Polly, 'with my own sweet precious baby in her arms!'

The sight added such an extensive pair of wings to Polly's
impatience, that she set off down the Gardens at a run, and bouncing
on Jemima, changed babies with her in a twinkling; to the unutterable
astonishment of that young damsel, on whom the heir of the Dombeys
seemed to have fallen from the clouds.

'Why, Polly!' cried Jemima. 'You! what a turn you have given me!
who'd have thought it! come along in Polly! How well you do look to be
sure! The children will go half wild to see you Polly, that they
will.'

That they did, if one might judge from the noise they made, and the
way in which they dashed at Polly and dragged her to a low chair in
the chimney corner, where her own honest apple face became immediately
the centre of a bunch of smaller pippins, all laying their rosy cheeks
close to it, and all evidently the growth of the same tree. As to
Polly, she was full as noisy and vehement as the children; and it was
not until she was quite out of breath, and her hair was hanging all
about her flushed face, and her new christening attire was very much
dishevelled, that any pause took place in the confusion. Even then,
the smallest Toodle but one remained in her lap, holding on tight with
both arms round her neck; while the smallest Toodle but two mounted on
the back of the chair, and made desperate efforts, with one leg in the
air, to kiss her round the corner.

'Look! there's a pretty little lady come to see you,' said Polly;
'and see how quiet she is! what a beautiful little lady, ain't she?'

This reference to Florence, who had been standing by the door not
unobservant of what passed, directed the attention of the younger
branches towards her; and had likewise the happy effect of leading to
the formal recognition of Miss Nipper, who was not quite free from a
misgiving that she had been already slighted.

'Oh do come in and sit down a minute, Susan, please,' said Polly.
'This is my sister Jemima, this is. Jemima, I don't know what I should
ever do with myself, if it wasn't for Susan Nipper; I shouldn't be
here now but for her.'

'Oh do sit down, Miss Nipper, if you please,' quoth Jemima.

Susan took the extreme corner of a chair, with a stately and
ceremonious aspect.

'I never was so glad to see anybody in all my life; now really I
never was, Miss Nipper,' said Jemima.

Susan relaxing, took a little more of the chair, and smiled
graciously.

'Do untie your bonnet-strings, and make yourself at home, Miss
Nipper, please,' entreated Jemima. 'I am afraid it's a poorer place
than you're used to; but you'll make allowances, I'm sure.'

The black-eyed was so softened by this deferential behaviour, that


she caught up little Miss Toodle who was running past, and took her to
Banbury Cross immediately.


'But where's my pretty boy?' said Polly. 'My poor fellow? I came
all this way to see him in his new clothes.'


'Ah what a pity!' cried Jemima. 'He'll break his heart, when he
hears his mother has been here. He's at school, Polly.'


'Gone already!'


'Yes. He went for the first time yesterday, for fear he should lose
any learning. But it's half-holiday, Polly: if you could only stop
till he comes home - you and Miss Nipper, leastways,' said Jemima,
mindful in good time of the dignity of the black-eyed.


'And how does he look, Jemima, bless him!' faltered Polly.


'Well, really he don't look so bad as you'd suppose,' returned
Jemima.


'Ah!' said Polly, with emotion, 'I knew his legs must be too
short.'


His legs is short,' returned Jemima; 'especially behind; but
they'll get longer, Polly, every day.'


It was a slow, prospective kind of consolation; but the
cheerfulness and good nature with which it was administered, gave it a
value it did not intrinsically possess. After a moment's silence,
Polly asked, in a more sprightly manner:


'And where's Father, Jemima dear?' - for by that patriarchal
appellation, Mr Toodle was generally known in the family.


'There again!' said Jemima. 'What a pity! Father took his dinner
with him this morning, and isn't coming home till night. But he's
always talking of you, Polly, and telling the children about you; and
is the peaceablest, patientest, best-temperedest soul in the world, as
he always was and will be!'


'Thankee, Jemima,' cried the simple Polly; delighted by the speech,
and disappointed by the absence.


'Oh you needn't thank me, Polly,' said her sister, giving her a
sounding kiss upon the cheek, and then dancing little Paul cheerfully.
'I say the same of you sometimes, and think it too.'


In spite of the double disappointment, it was impossible to regard
in the light of a failure a visit which was greeted with such a
reception; so the sisters talked hopefully about family matters, and
about Biler, and about all his brothers and sisters: while the
black-eyed, having performed several journeys to Banbury Cross and
back, took sharp note of the furniture, the Dutch clock, the cupboard,
the castle on the mantel-piece with red and green windows in it,
susceptible of illumination by a candle-end within; and the pair of
small black velvet kittens, each with a lady's reticule in its mouth;
regarded by the Staggs's Gardeners as prodigies of imitative art. The
conversation soon becoming general lest the black-eyed should go off
at score and turn sarcastic, that young lady related to Jemima a
summary of everything she knew concerning Mr Dombey, his prospects,
family, pursuits, and character. Also an exact inventory of her
personal wardrobe, and some account of her principal relations and
friends. Having relieved her mind of these disclosures, she partook of



shrimps and porter, and evinced a disposition to swear eternal
friendship.

Little Florence herself was not behind-hand in improving the
occasion; for, being conducted forth by the young Toodles to inspect
some toad-stools and other curiosities of the Gardens, she entered
with them, heart and soul, on the formation of a temporary breakwater
across a small green pool that had collected in a corner. She was
still busily engaged in that labour, when sought and found by Susan;
who, such was her sense of duty, even under the humanizing influence
of shrimps, delivered a moral address to her (punctuated with thumps)
on her degenerate nature, while washing her face and hands; and
predicted that she would bring the grey hairs of her family in
general, with sorrow to the grave. After some delay, occasioned by a
pretty long confidential interview above stairs on pecuniary subjects,
between Polly and Jemima, an interchange of babies was again effected

-for Polly had all this timeretained her own child, and Jemima little
Paul - and the visitors took leave.
But first the young Toodles, victims of a pious fraud, were deluded
into repairing in a body to a chandler's shop in the neighbourhood,
for the ostensible purpose of spending a penny; and when the coast was
quite clear, Polly fled: Jemima calling after her that if they could
only go round towards the City Road on their way back, they would be
sure to meet little Biler coming from school.

'Do you think that we might make time to go a little round in that
direction, Susan?' inquired Polly, when they halted to take breath.

'Why not, Mrs Richards?' returned Susan.

'It's getting on towards our dinner time you know,' said Polly.

But lunch had rendered her companion more than indifferent to this
grave consideration, so she allowed no weight to it, and they resolved
to go 'a little round.'

Now, it happened that poor Biler's life had been, since yesterday
morning, rendered weary by the costume of the Charitable Grinders. The
youth of the streets could not endure it. No young vagabond could be
brought to bear its contemplation for a moment, without throwing
himself upon the unoffending wearer, and doing him a mischief. His
social existence had been more like that of an early Christian, than
an innocent child of the nineteenth century. He had been stoned in the
streets. He had been overthrown into gutters; bespattered with mud;
violently flattened against posts. Entire strangers to his person had
lifted his yellow cap off his head, and cast it to the winds. His legs
had not only undergone verbal criticisms and revilings, but had been
handled and pinched. That very morning, he had received a perfectly
unsolicited black eye on his way to the Grinders' establishment, and
had been punished for it by the master: a superannuated old Grinder of
savage disposition, who had been appointed schoolmaster because he
didn't know anything, and wasn't fit for anything, and for whose cruel
cane all chubby little boys had a perfect fascination.'

Thus it fell out that Biler, on his way home, sought unfrequented
paths; and slunk along by narrow passages and back streets, to avoid
his tormentors. Being compelled to emerge into the main road, his ill
fortune brought him at last where a small party of boys, headed by a
ferocious young butcher, were lying in wait for any means of
pleasurable excitement that might happen. These, finding a Charitable
Grinder in the midst of them - unaccountably delivered over, as it
were, into their hands - set up a general yell and rushed upon him.


But it so fell out likewise, that, at the same time, Polly, looking
hopelessly along the road before her, after a good hour's walk, had
said it was no use going any further, when suddenly she saw this
sight. She no sooner saw it than, uttering a hasty exclamation, and
giving Master Dombey to the black-eyed, she started to the rescue of
her unhappy little son.

Surprises, like misfortunes, rarely come alone. The astonished
Susan Nipper and her two young charges were rescued by the bystanders
from under the very wheels of a passing carriage before they knew what
had happened; and at that moment (it was market day) a thundering
alarm of 'Mad Bull!' was raised.

With a wild confusion before her, of people running up and down,
and shouting, and wheels running over them, and boys fighting, and mad
bulls coming up, and the nurse in the midst of all these dangers being
torn to pieces, Florence screamed and ran. She ran till she was
exhausted, urging Susan to do the same; and then, stopping and
wringing her hands as she remembered they had left the other nurse
behind, found, with a sensation of terror not to be described, that
she was quite alone.

'Susan! Susan!' cried Florence, clapping her hands in the very
ecstasy of her alarm. 'Oh, where are they? where are they?'

'Where are they?' said an old woman, coming hobbling across as fast
as she could from the opposite side of the way. 'Why did you run away
from 'em?'

'I was frightened,' answered Florence. 'I didn't know what I did. I
thought they were with me. Where are they?'

The old woman took her by the wrist, and said, 'I'll show you.'

She was a very ugly old woman, with red rims round her eyes, and a
mouth that mumbled and chattered of itself when she was not speaking.
She was miserably dressed, and carried some skins over her arm. She
seemed to have followed Florence some little way at all events, for
she had lost her breath; and this made her uglier still, as she stood
trying to regain it: working her shrivelled yellow face and throat
into all sorts of contortions.

Florence was afraid of her, and looked, hesitating, up the street,
of which she had almost reached the bottom. It was a solitary place more
a back road than a street - and there was no one in it but herself
and the old woman.

'You needn't be frightened now,' said the old woman, still holding
her tight. 'Come along with me.'

'I - I don't know you. What's your name?' asked Florence.

'Mrs Brown,' said the old woman. 'Good Mrs Brown.'

'Are they near here?' asked Florence, beginning to be led away.

'Susan ain't far off,' said Good Mrs Brown; 'and the others are
close to her.'

'Is anybody hurt?' cried Florence.

'Not a bit of it,' said Good Mrs Brown.

The child shed tears of delight on hearing this, and accompanied


the old woman willingly; though she could not help glancing at her
face as they went along - particularly at that industrious mouth - and
wondering whether Bad Mrs Brown, if there were such a person, was at
all like her.

They had not gone far, but had gone by some very uncomfortable
places, such as brick-fields and tile-yards, when the old woman turned
down a dirty lane, where the mud lay in deep black ruts in the middle
of the road. She stopped before a shabby little house, as closely shut
up as a house that was full of cracks and crevices could be. Opening
the door with a key she took out of her bonnet, she pushed the child
before her into a back room, where there was a great heap of rags of
different colours lying on the floor; a heap of bones, and a heap of
sifted dust or cinders; but there was no furniture at all, and the
walls and ceiling were quite black.

The child became so terrified the she was stricken speechless, and
looked as though about to swoon.

'Now don't be a young mule,' said Good Mrs Brown, reviving her with
a shake. 'I'm not a going to hurt you. Sit upon the rags.'

Florence obeyed her, holding out her folded hands, in mute
supplication.

'I'm not a going to keep you, even, above an hour,' said Mrs Brown.
'D'ye understand what I say?'

The child answered with great difficulty, 'Yes.'

'Then,' said Good Mrs Brown, taking her own seat on the bones,
'don't vex me. If you don't, I tell you I won't hurt you. But if you
do, I'll kill you. I could have you killed at any time - even if you
was in your own bed at home. Now let's know who you are, and what you
are, and all about it.'

The old woman's threats and promises; the dread of giving her
offence; and the habit, unusual to a child, but almost natural to
Florence now, of being quiet, and repressing what she felt, and
feared, and hoped; enabled her to do this bidding, and to tell her
little history, or what she knew of it. Mrs Brown listened
attentively, until she had finished.

'So your name's Dombey, eh?' said Mrs Brown.

'I want that pretty frock, Miss Dombey,' said Good Mrs Brown, 'and
that little bonnet, and a petticoat or two, and anything else you can
spare. Come! Take 'em off.'

Florence obeyed, as fast as her trembling hands would allow;
keeping, all the while, a frightened eye on Mrs Brown. When she had
divested herself of all the articles of apparel mentioned by that
lady, Mrs B. examined them at leisure, and seemed tolerably well
satisfied with their quality and value.

'Humph!' she said, running her eyes over the child's slight figure,
'I don't see anything else - except the shoes. I must have the shoes,
Miss Dombey.'

Poor little Florence took them off with equal alacrity, only too
glad to have any more means of conciliation about her. The old woman
then produced some wretched substitutes from the bottom of the heap of
rags, which she turned up for that purpose; together with a girl's
cloak, quite worn out and very old; and the crushed remains of a


bonnet that had probably been picked up from some ditch or dunghill.
In this dainty raiment, she instructed Florence to dress herself; and
as such preparation seemed a prelude to her release, the child
complied with increased readiness, if possible.

In hurriedly putting on the bonnet, if that may be called a bonnet
which was more like a pad to carry loads on, she caught it in her hair
which grew luxuriantly, and could not immediately disentangle it. Good
Mrs Brown whipped out a large pair of scissors, and fell into an
unaccountable state of excitement.

'Why couldn't you let me be!' said Mrs Brown, 'when I was
contented? You little fool!'

'I beg your pardon. I don't know what I have done,' panted
Florence. 'I couldn't help it.'

'Couldn't help it!' cried Mrs Brown. 'How do you expect I can help
it? Why, Lord!' said the old woman, ruffling her curls with a furious
pleasure, 'anybody but me would have had 'em off, first of all.'
Florence was so relieved to find that it was only her hair and not her
head which Mrs Brown coveted, that she offered no resistance or
entreaty, and merely raised her mild eyes towards the face of that
good soul.

'If I hadn't once had a gal of my own - beyond seas now- that was
proud of her hair,' said Mrs Brown, 'I'd have had every lock of it.
She's far away, she's far away! Oho! Oho!'

Mrs Brown's was not a melodious cry, but, accompanied with a wild
tossing up of her lean arms, it was full of passionate grief, and
thrilled to the heart of Florence, whom it frightened more than ever.
It had its part, perhaps, in saving her curls; for Mrs Brown, after
hovering about her with the scissors for some moments, like a new kind
of butterfly, bade her hide them under the bonnet and let no trace of
them escape to tempt her. Having accomplished this victory over
herself, Mrs Brown resumed her seat on the bones, and smoked a very
short black pipe, mowing and mumbling all the time, as if she were
eating the stem.

When the pipe was smoked out, she gave the child a rabbit-skin to
carry, that she might appear the more like her ordinary companion, and
told her that she was now going to lead her to a public street whence
she could inquire her way to her friends. But she cautioned her, with
threats of summary and deadly vengeance in case of disobedience, not
to talk to strangers, nor to repair to her own home (which may have
been too near for Mrs Brown's convenience), but to her father's office
in the City; also to wait at the street corner where she would be
left, until the clock struck three. These directions Mrs Brown
enforced with assurances that there would be potent eyes and ears in
her employment cognizant of all she did; and these directions Florence
promised faithfully and earnestly to observe.

At length, Mrs Brown, issuing forth, conducted her changed and
ragged little friend through a labyrinth of narrow streets and lanes
and alleys, which emerged, after a long time, upon a stable yard, with
a gateway at the end, whence the roar of a great thoroughfare made
itself audible. Pointing out this gateway, and informing Florence that
when the clocks struck three she was to go to the left, Mrs Brown,
after making a parting grasp at her hair which seemed involuntary and
quite beyond her own control, told her she knew what to do, and bade
her go and do it: remembering that she was watched.

With a lighter heart, but still sore afraid, Florence felt herself


released, and tripped off to the corner. When she reached it, she
looked back and saw the head of Good Mrs Brown peeping out of the low
wooden passage, where she had issued her parting injunctions; likewise
the fist of Good Mrs Brown shaking towards her. But though she often
looked back afterwards - every minute, at least, in her nervous
recollection of the old woman - she could not see her again.

Florence remained there, looking at the bustle in the street, and
more and more bewildered by it; and in the meanwhile the clocks
appeared to have made up their minds never to strike three any more.
At last the steeples rang out three o'clock; there was one close by,
so she couldn't be mistaken; and - after often looking over her
shoulder, and often going a little way, and as often coming back
again, lest the all-powerful spies of Mrs Brown should take offence she
hurried off, as fast as she could in her slipshod shoes, holding
the rabbit-skin tight in her hand.

All she knew of her father's offices was that they belonged to
Dombey and Son, and that that was a great power belonging to the City.
So she could only ask the way to Dombey and Son's in the City; and as
she generally made inquiry of children - being afraid to ask grown
people - she got very little satisfaction indeed. But by dint of
asking her way to the City after a while, and dropping the rest of her
inquiry for the present, she really did advance, by slow degrees,
towards the heart of that great region which is governed by the
terrible Lord Mayor.

Tired of walking, repulsed and pushed about, stunned by the noise
and confusion, anxious for her brother and the nurses, terrified by
what she had undergone, and the prospect of encountering her angry
father in such an altered state; perplexed and frightened alike by
what had passed, and what was passing, and what was yet before her;
Florence went upon her weary way with tearful eyes, and once or twice
could not help stopping to ease her bursting heart by crying bitterly.
But few people noticed her at those times, in the garb she wore: or if
they did, believed that she was tutored to excite compassion, and
passed on. Florence, too, called to her aid all the firmness and
self-reliance of a character that her sad experience had prematurely
formed and tried: and keeping the end she had in view steadily before
her, steadily pursued it.

It was full two hours later in the afternoon than when she had
started on this strange adventure, when, escaping from the clash and
clangour of a narrow street full of carts and waggons, she peeped into
a kind of wharf or landing-place upon the river-side, where there were
a great many packages, casks, and boxes, strewn about; a large pair of
wooden scales; and a little wooden house on wheels, outside of which,
looking at the neighbouring masts and boats, a stout man stood
whistling, with his pen behind his ear, and his hands in his pockets,
as if his day's work were nearly done.

'Now then! 'said this man, happening to turn round. 'We haven't got
anything for you, little girl. Be off!'

'If you please, is this the City?' asked the trembling daughter of
the Dombeys.

'Ah! It's the City. You know that well enough, I daresay. Be off!
We haven't got anything for you.'

'I don't want anything, thank you,' was the timid answer. 'Except
to know the way to Dombey and Son's.'

The man who had been strolling carelessly towards her, seemed


surprised by this reply, and looking attentively in her face,
rejoined:

'Why, what can you want with Dombey and Son's?'

'To know the way there, if you please.'

The man looked at her yet more curiously, and rubbed the back of
his head so hard in his wonderment that he knocked his own hat off.

'Joe!' he called to another man - a labourer- as he picked it up
and put it on again.

'Joe it is!' said Joe.

'Where's that young spark of Dombey's who's been watching the
shipment of them goods?'

'Just gone, by t'other gate,' said Joe.

'Call him back a minute.'

Joe ran up an archway, bawling as he went, and very soon returned

with a blithe-looking boy.

'You're Dombey's jockey, ain't you?' said the first man.

'I'm in Dombey's House, Mr Clark,' returned the boy.

'Look'ye here, then,' said Mr Clark.

Obedient to the indication of Mr Clark's hand, the boy approached
towards Florence, wondering, as well he might, what he had to do with
her. But she, who had heard what passed, and who, besides the relief
of so suddenly considering herself safe at her journey's end, felt
reassured beyond all measure by his lively youthful face and manner,
ran eagerly up to him, leaving one of the slipshod shoes upon the
ground and caught his hand in both of hers.

'I am lost, if you please!' said Florence.

'Lost!' cried the boy.

'Yes, I was lost this morning, a long way from here - and I have
had my clothes taken away, since - and I am not dressed in my own now
- and my name is Florence Dombey, my little brother's only sister and,
oh dear, dear, take care of me, if you please!' sobbed Florence,
giving full vent to the childish feelings she had so long suppressed,
and bursting into tears. At the same time her miserable bonnet falling
off, her hair came tumbling down about her face: moving to speechless
admiration and commiseration, young Walter, nephew of Solomon Gills,
Ships' Instrument-maker in general.

Mr Clark stood rapt in amazement: observing under his breath, I
never saw such a start on this wharf before. Walter picked up the
shoe, and put it on the little foot as the Prince in the story might
have fitted Cinderella's slipper on. He hung the rabbit-skin over his
left arm; gave the right to Florence; and felt, not to say like
Richard Whittington - that is a tame comparison - but like Saint
George of England, with the dragon lying dead before him.

'Don't cry, Miss Dombey,' said Walter, in a transport of


enthusiasm.

'What a wonderful thing for me that I am here! You are as safe now
as if you were guarded by a whole boat's crew of picked men from a
man-of-war. Oh, don't cry.'

'I won't cry any more,' said Florence. 'I am only crying for joy.'

'Crying for joy!' thought Walter, 'and I'm the cause of it! Come
along, Miss Dombey. There's the other shoe off now! Take mine, Miss
Dombey.'

'No, no, no,' said Florence, checking him in the act of impetuously

pulling off his own. 'These do better. These do very well.'

'Why, to be sure,' said Walter, glancing at her foot, 'mine are a
mile too large. What am I thinking about! You never could walk in
mine! Come along, Miss Dombey. Let me see the villain who will dare
molest you now.'

So Walter, looking immensely fierce, led off Florence, looking very
happy; and they went arm-in-arm along the streets, perfectly
indifferent to any astonishment that their appearance might or did
excite by the way.

It was growing dark and foggy, and beginning to rain too; but they
cared nothing for this: being both wholly absorbed in the late
adventures of Florence, which she related with the innocent good faith
and confidence of her years, while Walter listened as if, far from the
mud and grease of Thames Street, they were rambling alone among the
broad leaves and tall trees of some desert island in the tropics - as
he very likely fancied, for the time, they were.

'Have we far to go?' asked Florence at last, lilting up her eyes to
her companion's face.

'Ah! By-the-bye,' said Walter, stopping, 'let me see; where are we?
Oh! I know. But the offices are shut up now, Miss Dombey. There's
nobody there. Mr Dombey has gone home long ago. I suppose we must go
home too? or, stay. Suppose I take you to my Uncle's, where I live it's
very near here - and go to your house in a coach to tell them you
are safe, and bring you back some clothes. Won't that be best?'

'I think so,' answered Florence. 'Don't you? What do you think?'

As they stood deliberating in the street, a man passed them, who
glanced quickly at Walter as he went by, as if he recognised him; but
seeming to correct that first impression, he passed on without
stopping.

'Why, I think it's Mr Carker,' said Walter. 'Carker in our House.
Not Carker our Manager, Miss Dombey - the other Carker; the Junior -
Halloa! Mr Carker!'

'Is that Walter Gay?' said the other, stopping and returning. 'I
couldn't believe it, with such a strange companion.

As he stood near a lamp, listening with surprise to Walter's
hurried explanation, he presented a remarkable contrast to the two
youthful figures arm-in-arm before him. He was not old, but his hair
was white; his body was bent, or bowed as if by the weight of some
great trouble: and there were deep lines in his worn and melancholy
face. The fire of his eyes, the expression of his features, the very


voice in which he spoke, were all subdued and quenched, as if the
spirit within him lay in ashes. He was respectably, though very
plainly dressed, in black; but his clothes, moulded to the general
character of his figure, seemed to shrink and abase themselves upon
him, and to join in the sorrowful solicitation which the whole man
from head to foot expressed, to be left unnoticed, and alone in his
humility.

And yet his interest in youth and hopefulness was not extinguished
with the other embers of his soul, for he watched the boy's earnest
countenance as he spoke with unusual sympathy, though with an
inexplicable show of trouble and compassion, which escaped into his
looks, however hard he strove to hold it prisoner. When Walter, in
conclusion, put to him the question he had put to Florence, he still
stood glancing at him with the same expression, as if he had read some
fate upon his face, mournfully at variance with its present
brightness.

'What do you advise, Mr Carker?' said Walter, smiling. 'You always
give me good advice, you know, when you do speak to me. That's not
often, though.'

'I think your own idea is the best,' he answered: looking from
Florence to Walter, and back again.

'Mr Carker,' said Walter, brightening with a generous thought,
'Come! Here's a chance for you. Go you to Mr Dombey's, and be the
messenger of good news. It may do you some good, Sir. I'll remain at
home. You shall go.'

'I!' returned the other.

'Yes. Why not, Mr Carker?' said the boy.

He merely shook him by the hand in answer; he seemed in a manner
ashamed and afraid even to do that; and bidding him good-night, and
advising him to make haste, turned away.

'Come, Miss Dombey,' said Walter, looking after him as they turned
away also, 'we'll go to my Uncle's as quick as we can. Did you ever
hear Mr Dombey speak of Mr Carker the Junior, Miss Florence?'

'No,' returned the child, mildly, 'I don't often hear Papa speak.'

'Ah! true! more shame for him,' thought Walter. After a minute's
pause, during which he had been looking down upon the gentle patient
little face moving on at his side, he said, 'The strangest man, Mr
Carker the Junior is, Miss Florence, that ever you heard of. If you
could understand what an extraordinary interest he takes in me, and
yet how he shuns me and avoids me; and what a low place he holds in
our office, and how he is never advanced, and never complains, though
year after year he sees young men passed over his head, and though his
brother (younger than he is), is our head Manager, you would be as
much puzzled about him as I am.'

As Florence could hardly be expected to understand much about it,
Walter bestirred himself with his accustomed boyish animation and
restlessness to change the subject; and one of the unfortunate shoes
coming off again opportunely, proposed to carry Florence to his
uncle's in his arms. Florence, though very tired, laughingly declined
the proposal, lest he should let her fall; and as they were already
near the wooden Midshipman, and as Walter went on to cite various
precedents, from shipwrecks and other moving accidents, where younger
boys than he had triumphantly rescued and carried off older girls than


Florence, they were still in full conversation about it when they
arrived at the Instrument-maker's door.

'Holloa, Uncle Sol!' cried Walter, bursting into the shop, and
speaking incoherently and out of breath, from that time forth, for the
rest of the evening. 'Here's a wonderful adventure! Here's Mr Dombey's
daughter lost in the streets, and robbed of her clothes by an old
witch of a woman - found by me - brought home to our parlour to rest look
here!'

'Good Heaven!' said Uncle Sol, starting back against his favourite
compass-case. 'It can't be! Well, I - '

'No, nor anybody else,' said Walter, anticipating the rest. 'Nobody
would, nobody could, you know. Here! just help me lift the little sofa
near the fire, will you, Uncle Sol - take care of the plates - cut
some dinner for her, will you, Uncle - throw those shoes under the
grate. Miss Florence - put your feet on the fender to dry - how damp
they are - here's an adventure, Uncle, eh? - God bless my soul, how
hot I am!'

Solomon Gills was quite as hot, by sympathy, and in excessive
bewilderment. He patted Florence's head, pressed her to eat, pressed
her to drink, rubbed the soles of her feet with his
pocket-handkerchief heated at the fire, followed his locomotive nephew
with his eyes, and ears, and had no clear perception of anything
except that he was being constantly knocked against and tumbled over
by that excited young gentleman, as he darted about the room
attempting to accomplish twenty things at once, and doing nothing at
all.

'Here, wait a minute, Uncle,' he continued, catching up a candle,
'till I run upstairs, and get another jacket on, and then I'll be off.
I say, Uncle, isn't this an adventure?'

'My dear boy,' said Solomon, who, with his spectacles on his
forehead and the great chronometer in his pocket, was incessantly
oscillating between Florence on the sofa, and his nephew in all parts
of the parlour, 'it's the most extraordinary - '

'No, but do, Uncle, please - do, Miss Florence - dinner, you know,
Uncle.'

'Yes, yes, yes,' cried Solomon, cutting instantly into a leg of
mutton, as if he were catering for a giant. 'I'll take care of her,
Wally! I understand. Pretty dear! Famished, of course. You go and get
ready. Lord bless me! Sir Richard Whittington thrice Lord Mayor of
London.'

Walter was not very long in mounting to his lofty garret and
descending from it, but in the meantime Florence, overcome by fatigue,
had sunk into a doze before the fire. The short interval of quiet,
though only a few minutes in duration, enabled Solomon Gills so far to
collect his wits as to make some little arrangements for her comfort,
and to darken the room, and to screen her from the blaze. Thus, when
the boy returned, she was sleeping peacefully.

'That's capital!' he whispered, giving Solomon such a hug that it
squeezed a new expression into his face. 'Now I'm off. I'll just take
a crust of bread with me, for I'm very hungry - and don't wake her,
Uncle Sol.'

'No, no,' said Solomon. 'Pretty child.'


'Pretty, indeed!' cried Walter. 'I never saw such a face, Uncle
Sol. Now I'm off.'

'That's right,' said Solomon, greatly relieved.

'I say, Uncle Sol,' cried Walter, putting his face in at the door.

'Here he is again,' said Solomon.

'How does she look now?'

'Quite happy,' said Solomon.

'That's famous! now I'm off.'

'I hope you are,' said Solomon to himself.

'I say, Uncle Sol,' cried Walter, reappearing at the door.

'Here he is again!' said Solomon.

'We met Mr Carker the Junior in the street, queerer than ever. He
bade me good-bye, but came behind us here - there's an odd thing! for
when we reached the shop door, I looked round, and saw him going
quietly away, like a servant who had seen me home, or a faithful dog.
How does she look now, Uncle?'

'Pretty much the same as before, Wally,' replied Uncle Sol.

'That's right. Now I am off!'

And this time he really was: and Solomon Gills, with no appetite
for dinner, sat on the opposite side of the fire, watching Florence in
her slumber, building a great many airy castles of the most fantastic
architecture; and looking, in the dim shade, and in the close vicinity
of all the instruments, like a magician disguised in a Welsh wig and a
suit of coffee colour, who held the child in an enchanted sleep.

In the meantime, Walter proceeded towards Mr Dombey's house at a
pace seldom achieved by a hack horse from the stand; and yet with his
head out of window every two or three minutes, in impatient
remonstrance with the driver. Arriving at his journey's end, he leaped
out, and breathlessly announcing his errand to the servant, followed
him straight into the library, we there was a great confusion of
tongues, and where Mr Dombey, his sister, and Miss Tox, Richards, and
Nipper, were all congregated together.

'Oh! I beg your pardon, Sir,' said Walter, rushing up to him, 'but
I'm happy to say it's all right, Sir. Miss Dombey's found!'

The boy with his open face, and flowing hair, and sparkling eyes,
panting with pleasure and excitement, was wonderfully opposed to Mr
Dombey, as he sat confronting him in his library chair.

'I told you, Louisa, that she would certainly be found,' said Mr
Dombey, looking slightly over his shoulder at that lady, who wept in
company with Miss Tox. 'Let the servants know that no further steps
are necessary. This boy who brings the information, is young Gay, from
the office. How was my daughter found, Sir? I know how she was lost.'
Here he looked majestically at Richards. 'But how was she found? Who
found her?'

'Why, I believe I found Miss Dombey, Sir,' said Walter modestly,
'at least I don't know that I can claim the merit of having exactly


found her, Sir, but I was the fortunate instrument of - '

'What do you mean, Sir,' interrupted Mr Dombey, regarding the boy's
evident pride and pleasure in his share of the transaction with an
instinctive dislike, 'by not having exactly found my daughter, and by
being a fortunate instrument? Be plain and coherent, if you please.'

It was quite out of Walter's power to be coherent; but he rendered
himself as explanatory as he could, in his breathless state, and
stated why he had come alone.

'You hear this, girl?' said Mr Dombey sternly to the black-eyed.
'Take what is necessary, and return immediately with this young man to
fetch Miss Florence home. Gay, you will be rewarded to-morrow.

'Oh! thank you, Sir,' said Walter. 'You are very kind. I'm sure I
was not thinking of any reward, Sir.'

'You are a boy,' said Mr Dombey, suddenly and almost fiercely; 'and
what you think of, or affect to think of, is of little consequence.
You have done well, Sir. Don't undo it. Louisa, please to give the lad
some wine.'

Mr Dombey's glance followed Walter Gay with sharp disfavour, as he
left the room under the pilotage of Mrs Chick; and it may be that his
mind's eye followed him with no greater relish, as he rode back to his
Uncle's with Miss Susan Nipper.

There they found that Florence, much refreshed by sleep, had dined,
and greatly improved the acquaintance of Solomon Gills, with whom she
was on terms of perfect confidence and ease. The black-eyed (who had
cried so much that she might now be called the red-eyed, and who was
very silent and depressed) caught her in her arms without a word of
contradiction or reproach, and made a very hysterical meeting of it.
Then converting the parlour, for the nonce, into a private tiring
room, she dressed her, with great care, in proper clothes; and
presently led her forth, as like a Dombey as her natural
disqualifications admitted of her being made.

'Good-night!' said Florence, running up to Solomon. 'You have been
very good to me.

Old Sol was quite delighted, and kissed her like her grand-father.

'Good-night, Walter! Good-bye!' said Florence.

'Good-bye!' said Walter, giving both his hands.

'I'll never forget you,' pursued Florence. 'No! indeed I never
will. Good-bye, Walter!' In the innocence of her grateful heart, the
child lifted up her face to his. Walter, bending down his own, raised
it again, all red and burning; and looked at Uncle Sol, quite
sheepishly.

'Where's Walter?' 'Good-night, Walter!' 'Good-bye, Walter!' 'Shake
hands once more, Walter!' This was still Florence's cry, after she was
shut up with her little maid, in the coach. And when the coach at
length moved off, Walter on the door-step gaily turned the waving of
her handkerchief, while the wooden Midshipman behind him seemed, like
himself, intent upon that coach alone, excluding all the other passing
coaches from his observation.

In good time Mr Dombey's mansion was gained again, and again there
was a noise of tongues in the library. Again, too, the coach was


ordered to wait - 'for Mrs Richards,' one of Susan's fellow-servants
ominously whispered, as she passed with Florence.

The entrance of the lost child made a slight sensation, but not
much. Mr Dombey, who had never found her, kissed her once upon the
forehead, and cautioned her not to run away again, or wander anywhere
with treacherous attendants. Mrs Chick stopped in her lamentations on
the corruption of human nature, even when beckoned to the paths of
virtue by a Charitable Grinder; and received her with a welcome
something short of the reception due to none but perfect Dombeys. Miss
Tox regulated her feelings by the models before her. Richards, the
culprit Richards, alone poured out her heart in broken words of
welcome, and bowed herself over the little wandering head as if she
really loved it.

'Ah, Richards!' said Mrs Chick, with a sigh. 'It would have been
much more satisfactory to those who wish to think well of their fellow
creatures, and much more becoming in you, if you had shown some proper
feeling, in time, for the little child that is now going to be
prematurely deprived of its natural nourishment.

'Cut off,' said Miss Tox, in a plaintive whisper, 'from one common
fountain!'

'If it was ungrateful case,' said Mrs Chick, solemnly, 'and I had
your reflections, Richards, I should feel as if the Charitable
Grinders' dress would blight my child, and the education choke him.'

For the matter of that - but Mrs Chick didn't know it - he had been
pretty well blighted by the dress already; and as to the education,
even its retributive effect might be produced in time, for it was a
storm of sobs and blows.

'Louisa!' said Mr Dombey. 'It is not necessary to prolong these
observations. The woman is discharged and paid. You leave this house,
Richards, for taking my son - my son,' said Mr Dombey, emphatically
repeating these two words, 'into haunts and into society which are not
to be thought of without a shudder. As to the accident which befel
Miss Florence this morning, I regard that as, in one great sense, a
happy and fortunate circumstance; inasmuch as, but for that
occurrence, I never could have known - and from your own lips too - of
what you had been guilty. I think, Louisa, the other nurse, the young
person,' here Miss Nipper sobbed aloud, 'being so much younger, and
necessarily influenced by Paul's nurse, may remain. Have the goodness
to direct that this woman's coach is paid to' - Mr Dombey stopped and
winced - 'to Staggs's Gardens.'

Polly moved towards the door, with Florence holding to her dress,
and crying to her in the most pathetic manner not to go away. It was a
dagger in the haughty father's heart, an arrow in his brain, to see
how the flesh and blood he could not disown clung to this obscure
stranger, and he sitting by. Not that he cared to whom his daughter
turned, or from whom turned away. The swift sharp agony struck through
him, as he thought of what his son might do.

His son cried lustily that night, at all events. Sooth to say, poor
Paul had better reason for his tears than sons of that age often have,
for he had lost his second mother - his first, so far as he knew - by
a stroke as sudden as that natural affliction which had darkened the
beginning of his life. At the same blow, his sister too, who cried
herself to sleep so mournfully, had lost as good and true a friend.
But that is quite beside the question. Let us waste no words about it.


CHAPTER 7.

A Bird's-eye Glimpse of Miss Tox's Dwelling-place: also
of the State of Miss Tox's Affections

Miss Tox inhabited a dark little house that had been squeezed, at
some remote period of English History, into a fashionable
neighbourhood at the west end of the town, where it stood in the shade
like a poor relation of the great street round the corner, coldly
looked down upon by mighty mansions. It was not exactly in a court,
and it was not exactly in a yard; but it was in the dullest of
No-Thoroughfares, rendered anxious and haggard by distant double
knocks. The name of this retirement, where grass grew between the
chinks in the stone pavement, was Princess's Place; and in Princess's
Place was Princess's Chapel, with a tinkling bell, where sometimes as
many as five-and-twenty people attended service on a Sunday. The
Princess's Arms was also there, and much resorted to by splendid
footmen. A sedan chair was kept inside the railing before the
Princess's Arms, but it had never come out within the memory of man;
and on fine mornings, the top of every rail (there were
eight-and-forty, as Miss Tox had often counted) was decorated with a
pewter-pot.

There was another private house besides Miss Tox's in Princess's
Place: not to mention an immense Pair of gates, with an immense pair
of lion-headed knockers on them, which were never opened by any
chance, and were supposed to constitute a disused entrance to
somebody's stables. Indeed, there was a smack of stabling in the air
of Princess's Place; and Miss Tox's bedroom (which was at the back)
commanded a vista of Mews, where hostlers, at whatever sort of work
engaged, were continually accompanying themselves with effervescent
noises; and where the most domestic and confidential garments of
coachmen and their wives and families, usually hung, like Macbeth's
banners, on the outward walls.'

At this other private house in Princess's Place, tenanted by a
retired butler who had married a housekeeper, apartments were let
Furnished, to a single gentleman: to wit, a wooden-featured,
blue-faced Major, with his eyes starting out of his head, in whom Miss
Tox recognised, as she herself expressed it, 'something so truly
military;' and between whom and herself, an occasional interchange of
newspapers and pamphlets, and such Platonic dalliance, was effected
through the medium of a dark servant of the Major's who Miss Tox was
quite content to classify as a 'native,' without connecting him with
any geographical idea whatever.

Perhaps there never was a smaller entry and staircase, than the
entry and staircase of Miss Tox's house. Perhaps, taken altogether,
from top to bottom, it was the most inconvenient little house in
England, and the crookedest; but then, Miss Tox said, what a
situation! There was very little daylight to be got there in the
winter: no sun at the best of times: air was out of the question, and
traffic was walled out. Still Miss Tox said, think of the situation!
So said the blue-faced Major, whose eyes were starting out of his
head: who gloried in Princess's Place: and who delighted to turn the
conversation at his club, whenever he could, to something connected
with some of the great people in the great street round the corner,
that he might have the satisfaction of saying they were his
neighbours.

In short, with Miss Tox and the blue-faced Major, it was enough for


Princess's Place - as with a very small fragment of society, it is
enough for many a little hanger-on of another sort - to be well
connected, and to have genteel blood in its veins. It might be poor,
mean, shabby, stupid, dull. No matter. The great street round the
corner trailed off into Princess's Place; and that which of High
Holborn would have become a choleric word, spoken of Princess's Place
became flat blasphemy.

The dingy tenement inhabited by Miss Tox was her own; having been
devised and bequeathed to her by the deceased owner of the fishy eye
in the locket, of whom a miniature portrait, with a powdered head and
a pigtail, balanced the kettle-holder on opposite sides of the parlour
fireplace. The greater part of the furniture was of the powdered-head
and pig-tail period: comprising a plate-warmer, always languishing and
sprawling its four attenuated bow legs in somebody's way; and an
obsolete harpsichord, illuminated round the maker's name with a
painted garland of sweet peas. In any part of the house, visitors were
usually cognizant of a prevailing mustiness; and in warm weather Miss
Tox had been seen apparently writing in sundry chinks and crevices of
the wainscoat with the the wrong end of a pen dipped in spirits of
turpentine.

Although Major Bagstock had arrived at what is called in polite
literature, the grand meridian of life, and was proceeding on his
journey downhill with hardly any throat, and a very rigid pair of
jaw-bones, and long-flapped elephantine ears, and his eyes and
complexion in the state of artificial excitement already mentioned, he
was mightily proud of awakening an interest in Miss Tox, and tickled
his vanity with the fiction that she was a splendid woman who had her
eye on him. This he had several times hinted at the club: in connexion
with little jocularities, of which old Joe Bagstock, old Joey
Bagstock, old J. Bagstock, old Josh Bagstock, or so forth, was the
perpetual theme: it being, as it were, the Major's stronghold and
donjon-keep of light humour, to be on the most familiar terms with his
own name.

'Joey B., Sir,'the Major would say, with a flourish of his
walking-stick, 'is worth a dozen of you. If you had a few more of the
Bagstock breed among you, Sir, you'd be none the worse for it. Old
Joe, Sir, needn't look far for a wile even now, if he was on the
look-out; but he's hard-hearted, Sir, is Joe - he's tough, Sir, tough,
and de-vilish sly!' After such a declaration, wheezing sounds would be
heard; and the Major's blue would deepen into purple, while his eyes
strained and started convulsively.

Notwithstanding his very liberal laudation of himself, however, the
Major was selfish. It may be doubted whether there ever was a more
entirely selfish person at heart; or at stomach is perhaps a better
expression, seeing that he was more decidedly endowed with that latter
organ than with the former. He had no idea of being overlooked or
slighted by anybody; least of all, had he the remotest comprehension
of being overlooked and slighted by Miss Tox.

And yet, Miss Tox, as it appeared, forgot him - gradually forgot
him. She began to forget him soon after her discovery of the Toodle
family. She continued to forget him up to the time of the christening.
She went on forgetting him with compound interest after that.
Something or somebody had superseded him as a source of interest.

'Good morning, Ma'am,' said the Major, meeting Miss Tox in
Princess's Place, some weeks after the changes chronicled in the last
chapter.

'Good morning, Sir,' said Miss Tox; very coldly.


'Joe Bagstock, Ma'am,' observed the Major, with his usual
gallantry, 'has not had the happiness of bowing to you at your window,
for a considerable period. Joe has been hardly used, Ma'am. His sun
has been behind a cloud.'


Miss Tox inclined her head; but very coldly indeed.


'Joe's luminary has been out of town, Ma'am, perhaps,' inquired the
Major.


'I? out of town? oh no, I have not been out of town,' said Miss
Tox. 'I have been much engaged lately. My time is nearly all devoted
to some very intimate friends. I am afraid I have none to spare, even
now. Good morning, Sir!'


As Miss Tox, with her most fascinating step and carriage,
disappeared from Princess's Place, the Major stood looking after her
with a bluer face than ever: muttering and growling some not at all
complimentary remarks.


'Why, damme, Sir,' said the Major, rolling his lobster eyes round
and round Princess's Place, and apostrophizing its fragrant air, 'six
months ago, the woman loved the ground Josh Bagstock walked on. What's
the meaning of it?'


The Major decided, after some consideration, that it meant
mantraps; that it meant plotting and snaring; that Miss Tox was
digging pitfalls. 'But you won't catch Joe, Ma'am,' said the Major.
'He's tough, Ma'am, tough, is J.B. Tough, and de-vilish sly!' over
which reflection he chuckled for the rest of the day.


But still, when that day and many other days were gone and past, it
seemed that Miss Tox took no heed whatever of the Major, and thought
nothing at all about him. She had been wont, once upon a time, to look
out at one of her little dark windows by accident, and blushingly
return the Major's greeting; but now, she never gave the Major a
chance, and cared nothing at all whether he looked over the way or
not. Other changes had come to pass too. The Major, standing in the
shade of his own apartment, could make out that an air of greater
smartness had recently come over Miss Tox's house; that a new cage
with gilded wires had been provided for the ancient little canary
bird; that divers ornaments, cut out of coloured card-boards and
paper, seemed to decorate the chimney-piece and tables; that a plant
or two had suddenly sprung up in the windows; that Miss Tox
occasionally practised on the harpsichord, whose garland of sweet peas
was always displayed ostentatiously, crowned with the Copenhagen and
Bird Waltzes in a Music Book of Miss Tox's own copying.


Over and above all this, Miss Tox had long been dressed with
uncommon care and elegance in slight mourning. But this helped the
Major out of his difficulty; and be determined within himself that she
had come into a small legacy, and grown proud.


It was on the very next day after he had eased his mind by arriving
at this decision, that the Major, sitting at his breakfast, saw an
apparition so tremendous and wonderful in Miss Tox's little
drawing-room, that he remained for some time rooted to his chair;
then, rushing into the next room, returned with a double-barrelled
opera-glass, through which he surveyed it intently for some minutes.


'It's a Baby, Sir,' said the Major, shutting up the glass again,
'for fifty thousand pounds!'



The Major couldn't forget it. He could do nothing but whistle, and
stare to that extent, that his eyes, compared with what they now
became, had been in former times quite cavernous and sunken. Day after
day, two, three, four times a week, this Baby reappeared. The Major
continued to stare and whistle. To all other intents and purposes he
was alone in Princess's Place. Miss Tox had ceased to mind what he
did. He might have been black as well as blue, and it would have been
of no consequence to her.

The perseverance with which she walked out of Princess's Place to
fetch this baby and its nurse, and walked back with them, and walked
home with them again, and continually mounted guard over them; and the
perseverance with which she nursed it herself, and fed it, and played
with it, and froze its young blood with airs upon the harpsichord, was
extraordinary. At about this same period too, she was seized with a
passion for looking at a certain bracelet; also with a passion for
looking at the moon, of which she would take long observations from
her chamber window. But whatever she looked at; sun, moon, stars, or
bracelet; she looked no more at the Major. And the Major whistled, and
stared, and wondered, and dodged about his room, and could make
nothing of it.

'You'll quite win my brother Paul's heart, and that's the truth, my
dear,' said Mrs Chick, one day.

Miss Tox turned pale.

'He grows more like Paul every day,' said Mrs Chick.

Miss Tox returned no other reply than by taking the little Paul in
her arms, and making his cockade perfectly flat and limp with her
caresses.

'His mother, my dear,' said Miss Tox, 'whose acquaintance I was to
have made through you, does he at all resemble her?'

'Not at all,' returned Louisa

'She was - she was pretty, I believe?' faltered Miss Tox.

'Why, poor dear Fanny was interesting,' said Mrs Chick, after some
judicial consideration. 'Certainly interesting. She had not that air
of commanding superiority which one would somehow expect, almost as a
matter of course, to find in my brother's wife; nor had she that
strength and vigour of mind which such a man requires.'

Miss Tox heaved a deep sigh.

'But she was pleasing:' said Mrs Chick: 'extremely so. And she
meant! - oh, dear, how well poor Fanny meant!'

'You Angel!' cried Miss Tox to little Paul. 'You Picture of your
own Papa!'

If the Major could have known how many hopes and ventures, what a
multitude of plans and speculations, rested on that baby head; and
could have seen them hovering, in all their heterogeneous confusion
and disorder, round the puckered cap of the unconscious little Paul;
he might have stared indeed. Then would he have recognised, among the
crowd, some few ambitious motes and beams belonging to Miss Tox; then
would he perhaps have understood the nature of that lady's faltering
investment in the Dombey Firm.

If the child himself could have awakened in the night, and seen,


gathered about his cradle-curtains, faint reflections of the dreams
that other people had of him, they might have scared him, with good
reason. But he slumbered on, alike unconscious of the kind intentions
of Miss Tox, the wonder of the Major, the early sorrows of his sister,
and the stern visions of his father; and innocent that any spot of
earth contained a Dombey or a Son.

CHAPTER 8.

Paul's Further Progress, Growth and Character

Beneath the watching and attentive eyes of Time - so far another
Major - Paul's slumbers gradually changed. More and more light broke
in upon them; distincter and distincter dreams disturbed them; an
accumulating crowd of objects and impressions swarmed about his rest;
and so he passed from babyhood to childhood, and became a talking,
walking, wondering Dombey.

On the downfall and banishment of Richards, the nursery may be said
to have been put into commission: as a Public Department is sometimes,
when no individual Atlas can be found to support it The Commissioners
were, of course, Mrs Chick and Miss Tox: who devoted themselves to
their duties with such astonishing ardour that Major Bagstock had
every day some new reminder of his being forsaken, while Mr Chick,
bereft of domestic supervision, cast himself upon the gay world, dined
at clubs and coffee-houses, smelt of smoke on three different
occasions, went to the play by himself, and in short, loosened (as Mrs
Chick once told him) every social bond, and moral obligation.

Yet, in spite of his early promise, all this vigilance and care
could not make little Paul a thriving boy. Naturally delicate,
perhaps, he pined and wasted after the dismissal of his nurse, and,
for a long time, seemed but to wait his opportunity of gliding through
their hands, and seeking his lost mother. This dangerous ground in his
steeple-chase towards manhood passed, he still found it very rough
riding, and was grievously beset by all the obstacles in his course.
Every tooth was a break-neck fence, and every pimple in the measles a
stone wall to him. He was down in every fit of the hooping-cough, and
rolled upon and crushed by a whole field of small diseases, that came
trooping on each other's heels to prevent his getting up again. Some
bird of prey got into his throat instead of the thrush; and the very
chickens turning ferocious - if they have anything to do with that
infant malady to which they lend their name - worried him like
tiger-cats.

The chill of Paul's christening had struck home, perhaps to some
sensitive part of his nature, which could not recover itself in the
cold shade of his father; but he was an unfortunate child from that
day. Mrs Wickam often said she never see a dear so put upon.

Mrs Wickam was a waiter's wife - which would seem equivalent to
being any other man's widow - whose application for an engagement in
Mr Dombey's service had been favourably considered, on account of the
apparent impossibility of her having any followers, or anyone to
follow; and who, from within a day or two of Paul's sharp weaning, had
been engaged as his nurse. Mrs Wickam was a meek woman, of a fair
complexion, with her eyebrows always elevated, and her head always
drooping; who was always ready to pity herself, or to be pitied, or to
pity anybody else; and who had a surprising natural gift of viewing
all subjects in an utterly forlorn and pitiable light, and bringing


dreadful precedents to bear upon them, and deriving the greatest
consolation from the exercise of that talent.

It is hardly necessary to observe, that no touch of this quality
ever reached the magnificent knowledge of Mr Dombey. It would have
been remarkable, indeed, if any had; when no one in the house - not
even Mrs Chick or Miss Tox - dared ever whisper to him that there had,
on any one occasion, been the least reason for uneasiness in reference
to little Paul. He had settled, within himself, that the child must
necessarily pass through a certain routine of minor maladies, and that
the sooner he did so the better. If he could have bought him off, or
provided a substitute, as in the case of an unlucky drawing for the
militia, he would have been glad to do so, on liberal terms. But as
this was not feasible, he merely wondered, in his haughty-manner, now
and then, what Nature meant by it; and comforted himself with the
reflection that there was another milestone passed upon the road, and
that the great end of the journey lay so much the nearer. For the
feeling uppermost in his mind, now and constantly intensifying, and
increasing in it as Paul grew older, was impatience. Impatience for
the time to come, when his visions of their united consequence and
grandeur would be triumphantly realized.

Some philosophers tell us that selfishness is at the root of our
best loves and affections.' Mr Dombey's young child was, from the
beginning, so distinctly important to him as a part of his own
greatness, or (which is the same thing) of the greatness of Dombey and
Son, that there is no doubt his parental affection might have been
easily traced, like many a goodly superstructure of fair fame, to a
very low foundation. But he loved his son with all the love he had. If
there were a warm place in his frosty heart, his son occupied it; if
its very hard surface could receive the impression of any image, the
image of that son was there; though not so much as an infant, or as a
boy, but as a grown man - the 'Son' of the Firm. Therefore he was
impatient to advance into the future, and to hurry over the
intervening passages of his history. Therefore he had little or no
anxiety' about them, in spite of his love; feeling as if the boy had a
charmed life, and must become the man with whom he held such constant
communication in his thoughts, and for whom he planned and projected,
as for an existing reality, every day.

Thus Paul grew to be nearly five years old. He was a pretty little
fellow; though there was something wan and wistful in his small face,
that gave occasion to many significant shakes of Mrs Wickam's head,
and many long-drawn inspirations of Mrs Wickam's breath. His temper
gave abundant promise of being imperious in after-life; and he had as
hopeful an apprehension of his own importance, and the rightful
subservience of all other things and persons to it, as heart could
desire. He was childish and sportive enough at times, and not of a
sullen disposition; but he had a strange, old-fashioned, thoughtful
way, at other times, of sitting brooding in his miniature arm-chair,
when he looked (and talked) like one of those terrible little Beings
in the Fairy tales, who, at a hundred and fifty or two hundred years
of age, fantastically represent the children for whom they have been
substituted. He would frequently be stricken with this precocious mood
upstairs in the nursery; and would sometimes lapse into it suddenly,
exclaiming that he was tired: even while playing with Florence, or
driving Miss Tox in single harness. But at no time did he fall into it
so surely, as when, his little chair being carried down into his
father's room, he sat there with him after dinner, by the fire. They
were the strangest pair at such a time that ever firelight shone upon.
Mr Dombey so erect and solemn, gazing at the blare; his little image,
with an old, old face, peering into the red perspective with the fixed
and rapt attention of a sage. Mr Dombey entertaining complicated
worldly schemes and plans; the little image entertaining Heaven knows


what wild fancies, half-formed thoughts, and wandering speculations.
Mr Dombey stiff with starch and arrogance; the little image by
inheritance, and in unconscious imitation. The two so very much alike,
and yet so monstrously contrasted.

On one of these occasions, when they had both been perfectly quiet
for a long time, and Mr Dombey only knew that the child was awake by
occasionally glancing at his eye, where the bright fire was sparkling
like a jewel, little Paul broke silence thus:

'Papa! what's money?'

The abrupt question had such immediate reference to the subject of
Mr Dombey's thoughts, that Mr Dombey was quite disconcerted.

'What is money, Paul?' he answered. 'Money?'

'Yes,' said the child, laying his hands upon the elbows of his
little chair, and turning the old face up towards Mr Dombey's; 'what
is money?'

Mr Dombey was in a difficulty. He would have liked to give him some
explanation involving the terms circulating-medium, currency,
depreciation of currency', paper, bullion, rates of exchange, value of
precious metals in the market, and so forth; but looking down at the
little chair, and seeing what a long way down it was, he answered:
'Gold, and silver, and copper. Guineas, shillings, half-pence. You
know what they are?'

'Oh yes, I know what they are,' said Paul. 'I don't mean that,
Papa. I mean what's money after all?'

Heaven and Earth, how old his face was as he turned it up again
towards his father's!

'What is money after all!' said Mr Dombey, backing his chair a
little, that he might the better gaze in sheer amazement at the
presumptuous atom that propounded such an inquiry.

'I mean, Papa, what can it do?' returned Paul, folding his arms
(they were hardly long enough to fold), and looking at the fire, and
up at him, and at the fire, and up at him again.

Mr Dombey drew his chair back to its former place, and patted him
on the head. 'You'll know better by-and-by, my man,' he said. 'Money,
Paul, can do anything.' He took hold of the little hand, and beat it
softly against one of his own, as he said so.

But Paul got his hand free as soon as he could; and rubbing it
gently to and fro on the elbow of his chair, as if his wit were in the
palm, and he were sharpening it - and looking at the fire again, as
though the fire had been his adviser and prompter - repeated, after a
short pause:

'Anything, Papa?'

'Yes. Anything - almost,' said Mr Dombey.

'Anything means everything, don't it, Papa?' asked his son: not
observing, or possibly not understanding, the qualification.

'It includes it: yes,' said Mr Dombey.

'Why didn't money save me my Mama?' returned the child. 'It isn't


cruel, is it?'

'Cruel!' said Mr Dombey, settling his neckcloth, and seeming to
resent the idea. 'No. A good thing can't be cruel.'

'If it's a good thing, and can do anything,' said the little
fellow, thoughtfully, as he looked back at the fire, 'I wonder why it
didn't save me my Mama.'

He didn't ask the question of his father this time. Perhaps he had
seen, with a child's quickness, that it had already made his father
uncomfortable. But he repeated the thought aloud, as if it were quite
an old one to him, and had troubled him very much; and sat with his
chin resting on his hand, still cogitating and looking for an
explanation in the fire.

Mr Dombey having recovered from his surprise, not to say his alarm
(for it was the very first occasion on which the child had ever
broached the subject of his mother to him, though he had had him
sitting by his side, in this same manner, evening after evening),
expounded to him how that money, though a very potent spirit, never to
be disparaged on any account whatever, could not keep people alive
whose time was come to die; and how that we must all die,
unfortunately, even in the City, though we were never so rich. But how
that money caused us to be honoured, feared, respected, courted, and
admired, and made us powerful and glorious in the eyes of all men; and
how that it could, very often, even keep off death, for a long time
together. How, for example, it had secured to his Mama the services of
Mr Pilkins, by which be, Paul, had often profited himself; likewise of
the great Doctor Parker Peps, whom he had never known. And how it
could do all, that could be done. This, with more to the same purpose,
Mr Dombey instilled into the mind of his son, who listened
attentively, and seemed to understand the greater part of what was
said to him.

'It can't make me strong and quite well, either, Papa; can it?'
asked Paul, after a short silence; rubbing his tiny hands.

'Why, you are strong and quite well,' returned Mr Dombey. 'Are you
not?'

Oh! the age of the face that was turned up again, with an
expression, half of melancholy, half of slyness, on it!

'You are as strong and well as such little people usually are? Eh?'
said Mr Dombey.

'Florence is older than I am, but I'm not as strong and well as
Florence, 'I know,' returned the child; 'and I believe that when
Florence was as little as me, she could play a great deal longer at a
time without tiring herself. I am so tired sometimes,' said little
Paul, warming his hands, and looking in between the bars of the grate,
as if some ghostly puppet-show were performing there, 'and my bones
ache so (Wickam says it's my bones), that I don't know what to do.'

'Ay! But that's at night,' said Mr Dombey, drawing his own chair
closer to his son's, and laying his hand gently on his back; 'little
people should be tired at night, for then they sleep well.'

'Oh, it's not at night, Papa,' returned the child, 'it's in the
day; and I lie down in Florence's lap, and she sings to me. At night I
dream about such cu-ri-ous things!'

And he went on, warming his hands again, and thinking about them,


like an old man or a young goblin.

Mr Dombey was so astonished, and so uncomfortable, and so perfectly
at a loss how to pursue the conversation, that he could only sit
looking at his son by the light of the fire, with his hand resting on
his back, as if it were detained there by some magnetic attraction.
Once he advanced his other hand, and turned the contemplative face
towards his own for a moment. But it sought the fire again as soon as
he released it; and remained, addressed towards the flickering blaze,
until the nurse appeared, to summon him to bed.

'I want Florence to come for me,' said Paul.

'Won't you come with your poor Nurse Wickam, Master Paul?' inquired
that attendant, with great pathos.

'No, I won't,' replied Paul, composing himself in his arm-chair
again, like the master of the house.

Invoking a blessing upon his innocence, Mrs Wickam withdrew, and
presently Florence appeared in her stead. The child immediately
started up with sudden readiness and animation, and raised towards his
father in bidding him good-night, a countenance so much brighter, so
much younger, and so much more child-like altogether, that Mr Dombey,
while he felt greatly reassured by the change, was quite amazed at it.

After they had left the room together, he thought he heard a soft
voice singing; and remembering that Paul had said his sister sung to
him, he had the curiosity to open the door and listen, and look after
them. She was toiling up the great, wide, vacant staircase, with him
in her arms; his head was lying on her shoulder, one of his arms
thrown negligently round her neck. So they went, toiling up; she
singing all the way, and Paul sometimes crooning out a feeble
accompaniment. Mr Dombey looked after them until they reached the top
of the staircase - not without halting to rest by the way - and passed
out of his sight; and then he still stood gazing upwards, until the
dull rays of the moon, glimmering in a melancholy manner through the
dim skylight, sent him back to his room.

Mrs Chick and Miss Tox were convoked in council at dinner next day;
and when the cloth was removed, Mr Dombey opened the proceedings by
requiring to be informed, without any gloss or reservation, whether
there was anything the matter with Paul, and what Mr Pilkins said
about him.

'For the child is hardly,' said Mr Dombey, 'as stout as I could
wish.'

'My dear Paul,' returned Mrs Chick, 'with your usual happy
discrimination, which I am weak enough to envy you, every time I am in
your company; and so I think is Miss Tox

'Oh my dear!' said Miss Tox, softly, 'how could it be otherwise?
Presumptuous as it is to aspire to such a level; still, if the bird of
night may - but I'll not trouble Mr Dombey with the sentiment. It
merely relates to the Bulbul.'

Mr Dombey bent his head in stately recognition of the Bulbuls as an
old-established body.

'With your usual happy discrimination, my dear Paul,' resumed Mrs
Chick, 'you have hit the point at once. Our darling is altogether as
stout as we could wish. The fact is, that his mind is too much for
him. His soul is a great deal too large for his frame. I am sure the


way in which that dear child talks!'said Mrs Chick, shaking her head;
'no one would believe. His expressions, Lucretia, only yesterday upon
the subject of Funerals!

'I am afraid,' said Mr Dombey, interrupting her testily, 'that some
of those persons upstairs suggest improper subjects to the child. He
was speaking to me last night about his - about his Bones,' said Mr
Dombey, laying an irritated stress upon the word. 'What on earth has
anybody to do with the - with the - Bones of my son? He is not a
living skeleton, I suppose.

'Very far from it,' said Mrs Chick, with unspeakable expression.

'I hope so,' returned her brother. 'Funerals again! who talks to
the child of funerals? We are not undertakers, or mutes, or
grave-diggers, I believe.'

'Very far from it,' interposed Mrs Chick, with the same profound
expression as before.

'Then who puts such things into his head?' said Mr Dombey. 'Really
I was quite dismayed and shocked last night. Who puts such things into
his head, Louisa?'

'My dear Paul,' said Mrs Chick, after a moment's silence, 'it is of
no use inquiring. I do not think, I will tell you candidly that Wickam
is a person of very cheerful spirit, or what one would call a - '

'A daughter of Momus,' Miss Tox softly suggested.

'Exactly so,' said Mrs Chick; 'but she is exceedingly attentive and
useful, and not at all presumptuous; indeed I never saw a more
biddable woman. I would say that for her, if I was put upon my trial
before a Court of Justice.'

'Well! you are not put upon your trial before a Court of Justice,
at present, Louisa,' returned Mr Dombey, chafing,' and therefore it
don't matter.

'My dear Paul,' said Mrs Chick, in a warning voice, 'I must be
spoken to kindly, or there is an end of me,' at the same time a
premonitory redness developed itself in Mrs Chick's eyelids which was
an invariable sign of rain, unless the weather changed directly.

'I was inquiring, Louisa,' observed Mr Dombey, in an altered voice,
and after a decent interval, 'about Paul's health and actual state.

'If the dear child,' said Mrs Chick, in the tone of one who was
summing up what had been previously quite agreed upon, instead of
saying it all for the first time, 'is a little weakened by that last
attack, and is not in quite such vigorous health as we could wish; and
if he has some temporary weakness in his system, and does occasionally
seem about to lose, for the moment, the use of his - '

Mrs Chick was afraid to say limbs, after Mr Dombey's recent
objection to bones, and therefore waited for a suggestion from Miss
Tox, who, true to her office, hazarded 'members.'

'Members!' repeated Mr Dombey.

'I think the medical gentleman mentioned legs this morning, my dear
Louisa, did he not?' said Miss Tox.

'Why, of course he did, my love,' retorted Mrs Chick, mildly


reproachful. 'How can you ask me? You heard him. I say, if our dear
Paul should lose, for the moment, the use of his legs, these are
casualties common to many children at his time of life, and not to be
prevented by any care or caution. The sooner you understand that,
Paul, and admit that, the better. If you have any doubt as to the
amount of care, and caution, and affection, and self-sacrifice, that
has been bestowed upon little Paul, I should wish to refer the
question to your medical attendant, or to any of your dependants in
this house. Call Towlinson,' said Mrs Chick, 'I believe he has no
prejudice in our favour; quite the contrary. I should wish to hear
what accusation Towlinson can make!'

'Surely you must know, Louisa,' observed Mr Dombey, 'that I don't
question your natural devotion to, and regard for, the future head of
my house.'

'I am glad to hear it, Paul,' said Mrs Chick; 'but really you are
very odd, and sometimes talk very strangely, though without meaning
it, I know. If your dear boy's soul is too much for his body, Paul,
you should remember whose fault that is - who he takes after, I mean and
make the best of it. He's as like his Papa as he can be. People
have noticed it in the streets. The very beadle, I am informed,
observed it, so long ago as at his christening. He's a very
respectable man, with children of his own. He ought to know.'

'Mr Pilkins saw Paul this morning, I believe?' said Mr Dombey.

'Yes, he did,' returned his sister. 'Miss Tox and myself were
present. Miss Tox and myself are always present. We make a point of
it. Mr Pilkins has seen him for some days past, and a very clever man
I believe him to be. He says it is nothing to speak of; which I can
confirm, if that is any consolation; but he recommended, to-day,
sea-air. Very wisely, Paul, I feel convinced.'

'Sea-air,' repeated Mr Dombey, looking at his sister.

'There is nothing to be made uneasy by, in that,'said Mrs Chick.
'My George and Frederick were both ordered sea-air, when they were
about his age; and I have been ordered it myself a great many times. I
quite agree with you, Paul, that perhaps topics may be incautiously
mentioned upstairs before him, which it would be as well for his
little mind not to expatiate upon; but I really don't see how that is
to be helped, in the case of a child of his quickness. If he were a
common child, there would be nothing in it. I must say I think, with
Miss Tox, that a short absence from this house, the air of Brighton,
and the bodily and mental training of so judicious a person as Mrs
Pipchin for instance - '

'Who is Mrs Pipchin, Louisa?' asked Mr Dombey; aghast at this
familiar introduction of a name he had never heard before.

'Mrs Pipchin, my dear Paul,' returned his sister, 'is an elderly
lady - Miss Tox knows her whole history - who has for some time
devoted all the energies of her mind, with the greatest success, to
the study and treatment of infancy, and who has been extremely well
connected. Her husband broke his heart in - how did you say her
husband broke his heart, my dear? I forget the precise circumstances.

'In pumping water out of the Peruvian Mines,' replied Miss Tox.

'Not being a Pumper himself, of course,' said Mrs Chick, glancing
at her brother; and it really did seem necessary to offer the
explanation, for Miss Tox had spoken of him as if he had died at the
handle; 'but having invested money in the speculation, which failed. I


believe that Mrs Pipchin's management of children is quite
astonishing. I have heard it commended in private circles ever since I
was - dear me - how high!' Mrs Chick's eye wandered about the bookcase
near the bust of Mr Pitt, which was about ten feet from the ground.

'Perhaps I should say of Mrs Pipchin, my dear Sir,' observed Miss
Tox, with an ingenuous blush, 'having been so pointedly referred to,
that the encomium which has been passed upon her by your sweet sister
is well merited. Many ladies and gentleman, now grown up to be
interesting members of society, have been indebted to her care. The
humble individual who addresses you was once under her charge. I
believe juvenile nobility itself is no stranger to her establishment.'

'Do I understand that this respectable matron keeps an
establishment, Miss Tox?' the Mr Dombey, condescendingly.

'Why, I really don't know,' rejoined that lady, 'whether I am
justified in calling it so. It is not a Preparatory School by any
means. Should I express my meaning,' said Miss Tox, with peculiar
sweetness,'if I designated it an infantine Boarding-House of a very
select description?'

'On an exceedingly limited and particular scale,' suggested Mrs
Chick, with a glance at her brother.

'Oh! Exclusion itself!' said Miss Tox.

There was something in this. Mrs Pipchin's husband having broken
his heart of the Peruvian mines was good. It had a rich sound.
Besides, Mr Dombey was in a state almost amounting to consternation at
the idea of Paul remaining where he was one hour after his removal had
been recommended by the medical practitioner. It was a stoppage and
delay upon the road the child must traverse, slowly at the best,
before the goal was reached. Their recommendation of Mrs Pipchin had
great weight with him; for he knew that they were jealous of any
interference with their charge, and he never for a moment took it into
account that they might be solicitous to divide a responsibility, of
which he had, as shown just now, his own established views. Broke his
heart of the Peruvian mines, mused Mr Dombey. Well! a very respectable
way of doing It.

'Supposing we should decide, on to-morrow's inquiries, to send Paul
down to Brighton to this lady, who would go with him?' inquired Mr
Dombey, after some reflection.

'I don't think you could send the child anywhere at present without
Florence, my dear Paul,' returned his sister, hesitating. 'It's quite
an infatuation with him. He's very young, you know, and has his
fancies.'

Mr Dombey turned his head away, and going slowly to the bookcase,
and unlocking it, brought back a book to read.

'Anybody else, Louisa?' he said, without looking up, and turning
over the leaves.

'Wickam, of course. Wickam would be quite sufficient, I should
say,' returned his sister. 'Paul being in such hands as Mrs Pipchin's,
you could hardly send anybody who would be a further check upon her.
You would go down yourself once a week at least, of course.'

'Of course,' said Mr Dombey; and sat looking at one page for an
hour afterwards, without reading one word.


This celebrated Mrs Pipchin was a marvellous ill-favoured,
ill-conditioned old lady, of a stooping figure, with a mottled face,
like bad marble, a hook nose, and a hard grey eye, that looked as if
it might have been hammered at on an anvil without sustaining any
injury. Forty years at least had elapsed since the Peruvian mines had
been the death of Mr Pipchin; but his relict still wore black
bombazeen, of such a lustreless, deep, dead, sombre shade, that gas
itself couldn't light her up after dark, and her presence was a
quencher to any number of candles. She was generally spoken of as 'a
great manager' of children; and the secret of her management was, to
give them everything that they didn't like, and nothing that they did

-which was found to sweeten their dispositions very much. She was
such a bitter old lady, that one was tempted to believe there had been
some mistake in the application of the Peruvian machinery, and that
all her waters of gladness and milk of human kindness, had been pumped
out dry, instead of the mines.
The Castle of this ogress and child-queller was in a steep
by-street at Brighton; where the soil was more than usually chalky,
flinty, and sterile, and the houses were more than usually brittle and
thin; where the small front-gardens had the unaccountable property of
producing nothing but marigolds, whatever was sown in them; and where
snails were constantly discovered holding on to the street doors, and
other public places they were not expected to ornament, with the
tenacity of cupping-glasses. In the winter time the air couldn't be
got out of the Castle, and in the summer time it couldn't be got in.
There was such a continual reverberation of wind in it, that it
sounded like a great shell, which the inhabitants were obliged to hold
to their ears night and day, whether they liked it or no. It was not,
naturally, a fresh-smelling house; and in the window of the front
parlour, which was never opened, Mrs Pipchin kept a collection of
plants in pots, which imparted an earthy flavour of their own to the
establishment. However choice examples of their kind, too, these
plants were of a kind peculiarly adapted to the embowerment of Mrs
Pipchin. There were half-a-dozen specimens of the cactus, writhing
round bits of lath, like hairy serpents; another specimen shooting out
broad claws, like a green lobster; several creeping vegetables,
possessed of sticky and adhesive leaves; and one uncomfortable
flower-pot hanging to the ceiling, which appeared to have boiled over,
and tickling people underneath with its long green ends, reminded them
of spiders - in which Mrs Pipchin's dwelling was uncommonly prolific,
though perhaps it challenged competition still more proudly, in the
season, in point of earwigs.

Mrs Pipchin's scale of charges being high, however, to all who
could afford to pay, and Mrs Pipchin very seldom sweetening the
equable acidity of her nature in favour of anybody, she was held to be
an old 'lady of remarkable firmness, who was quite scientific in her
knowledge of the childish character.' On this reputation, and on the
broken heart of Mr Pipchin, she had contrived, taking one year with
another, to eke out a tolerable sufficient living since her husband's
demise. Within three days after Mrs Chick's first allusion to her,
this excellent old lady had the satisfaction of anticipating a
handsome addition to her current receipts, from the pocket of Mr
Dombey; and of receiving Florence and her little brother Paul, as
inmates of the Castle.

Mrs Chick and Miss Tox, who had brought them down on the previous
night (which they all passed at an Hotel), had just driven away from
the door, on their journey home again; and Mrs Pipchin, with her back
to the fire, stood, reviewing the new-comers, like an old soldier. Mrs
Pipchin's middle-aged niece, her good-natured and devoted slave, but
possessing a gaunt and iron-bound aspect, and much afflicted with
boils on her nose, was divesting Master Bitherstone of the clean


collar he had worn on parade. Miss Pankey, the only other little
boarder at present, had that moment been walked off to the Castle
Dungeon (an empty apartment at the back, devoted to correctional
purposes), for having sniffed thrice, in the presence of visitors.

'Well, Sir,' said Mrs Pipchin to Paul, 'how do you think you shall
like me?'

'I don't think I shall like you at all,' replied Paul. 'I want to
go away. This isn't my house.'

'No. It's mine,' retorted Mrs Pipchin.

'It's a very nasty one,' said Paul.

'There's a worse place in it than this though,' said Mrs Pipchin,
'where we shut up our bad boys.'

'Has he ever been in it?' asked Paul: pointing out Master
Bitherstone.

Mrs Pipchin nodded assent; and Paul had enough to do, for the rest
of that day, in surveying Master Bitherstone from head to foot, and
watching all the workings of his countenance, with the interest
attaching to a boy of mysterious and terrible experiences.

At one o'clock there was a dinner, chiefly of the farinaceous and
vegetable kind, when Miss Pankey (a mild little blue-eyed morsel of a
child, who was shampoo'd every morning, and seemed in danger of being
rubbed away, altogether) was led in from captivity by the ogress
herself, and instructed that nobody who sniffed before visitors ever
went to Heaven. When this great truth had been thoroughly impressed
upon her, she was regaled with rice; and subsequently repeated the
form of grace established in the Castle, in which there was a special
clause, thanking Mrs Pipchin for a good dinner. Mrs Pipchin's niece,
Berinthia, took cold pork. Mrs Pipchin, whose constitution required
warm nourishment, made a special repast of mutton-chops, which were
brought in hot and hot, between two plates, and smelt very nice.

As it rained after dinner, and they couldn't go out walking on the
beach, and Mrs Pipchin's constitution required rest after chops, they
went away with Berry (otherwise Berinthia) to the Dungeon; an empty
room looking out upon a chalk wall and a water-butt, and made ghastly
by a ragged fireplace without any stove in it. Enlivened by company,
however, this was the best place after all; for Berry played with them
there, and seemed to enjoy a game at romps as much as they did; until
Mrs Pipchin knocking angrily at the wall, like the Cock Lane Ghost'
revived, they left off, and Berry told them stories in a whisper until
twilight.

For tea there was plenty of milk and water, and bread and butter,
with a little black tea-pot for Mrs Pipchin and Berry, and buttered
toast unlimited for Mrs Pipchin, which was brought in, hot and hot,
like the chops. Though Mrs Pipchin got very greasy, outside, over this
dish, it didn't seem to lubricate her internally, at all; for she was
as fierce as ever, and the hard grey eye knew no softening.

After tea, Berry brought out a little work-box, with the Royal
Pavilion on the lid, and fell to working busily; while Mrs Pipchin,
having put on her spectacles and opened a great volume bound in green
baize, began to nod. And whenever Mrs Pipchin caught herself falling
forward into the fire, and woke up, she filliped Master Bitherstone on
the nose for nodding too.


At last it was the children's bedtime, and after prayers they went
to bed. As little Miss Pankey was afraid of sleeping alone in the
dark, Mrs Pipchin always made a point of driving her upstairs herself,
like a sheep; and it was cheerful to hear Miss Pankey moaning long
afterwards, in the least eligible chamber, and Mrs Pipchin now and
then going in to shake her. At about half-past nine o'clock the odour
of a warm sweet-bread (Mrs Pipchin's constitution wouldn't go to sleep
without sweet-bread) diversified the prevailing fragrance of the
house, which Mrs Wickam said was 'a smell of building;' and slumber
fell upon the Castle shortly after.

The breakfast next morning was like the tea over night, except that
Mrs Pipchin took her roll instead of toast, and seemed a little more
irate when it was over. Master Bitherstone read aloud to the rest a
pedigree from Genesis judiciously selected by Mrs Pipchin), getting
over the names with the ease and clearness of a person tumbling up the
treadmill. That done, Miss Pankey was borne away to be shampoo'd; and
Master Bitherstone to have something else done to him with salt water,
from which he always returned very blue and dejected. Paul and
Florence went out in the meantime on the beach with Wickam - who was
constantly in tears - and at about noon Mrs Pipchin presided over some
Early Readings. It being a part of Mrs Pipchin's system not to
encourage a child's mind to develop and expand itself like a young
flower, but to open it by force like an oyster, the moral of these
lessons was usually of a violent and stunning character: the hero - a
naughty boy - seldom, in the mildest catastrophe, being finished off
anything less than a lion, or a bear.

Such was life at Mrs Pipchin's. On Saturday Mr Dombey came down;
and Florence and Paul would go to his Hotel, and have tea They passed
the whole of Sunday with him, and generally rode out before dinner;
and on these occasions Mr Dombey seemed to grow, like Falstaff's
assailants, and instead of being one man in buckram, to become a
dozen. Sunday evening was the most melancholy evening in the week; for
Mrs Pipchin always made a point of being particularly cross on Sunday
nights. Miss Pankey was generally brought back from an aunt's at
Rottingdean, in deep distress; and Master Bitherstone, whose relatives
were all in India, and who was required to sit, between the services,
in an erect position with his head against the parlour wall, neither
moving hand nor foot, suffered so acutely in his young spirits that he
once asked Florence, on a Sunday night, if she could give him any idea
of the way back to Bengal.

But it was generally said that Mrs Pipchin was a woman of system
with children; and no doubt she was. Certainly the wild ones went home
tame enough, after sojourning for a few months beneath her hospitable
roof. It was generally said, too, that it was highly creditable of Mrs
Pipchin to have devoted herself to this way of life, and to have made
such a sacrifice of her feelings, and such a resolute stand against
her troubles, when Mr Pipchin broke his heart in the Peruvian mines.

At this exemplary old lady, Paul would sit staring in his little
arm-chair by the fire, for any length of time. He never seemed to know
what weariness was, when he was looking fixedly at Mrs Pipchin. He was
not fond of her; he was not afraid of her; but in those old, old moods
of his, she seemed to have a grotesque attraction for him. There he
would sit, looking at her, and warming his hands, and looking at her,
until he sometimes quite confounded Mrs Pipchin, Ogress as she was.
Once she asked him, when they were alone, what he was thinking about.

'You,' said Paul, without the least reserve.

'And what are you thinking about me?' asked Mrs Pipchin.


'I'm thinking how old you must be,' said Paul.

'You mustn't say such things as that, young gentleman,' returned
the dame. 'That'll never do.'

'Why not?' asked Paul.

'Because it's not polite,' said Mrs Pipchin, snappishly.

'Not polite?' said Paul.

'No.'

'It's not polite,' said Paul, innocently, 'to eat all the mutton
chops and toast, Wickam says.

'Wickam,' retorted Mrs Pipchin, colouring, 'is a wicked, impudent,
bold-faced hussy.'

'What's that?' inquired Paul.

'Never you mind, Sir,' retorted Mrs Pipchin. 'Remember the story of
the little boy that was gored to death by a mad bull for asking
questions.'

'If the bull was mad,' said Paul, 'how did he know that the boy had
asked questions? Nobody can go and whisper secrets to a mad bull. I
don't believe that story.

'You don't believe it, Sir?' repeated Mrs Pipchin, amazed.

'No,' said Paul.

'Not if it should happen to have been a tame bull, you little
Infidel?' said Mrs Pipchin.

As Paul had not considered the subject in that light, and had
founded his conclusions on the alleged lunacy of the bull, he allowed
himself to be put down for the present. But he sat turning it over in
his mind, with such an obvious intention of fixing Mrs Pipchin
presently, that even that hardy old lady deemed it prudent to retreat
until he should have forgotten the subject.

From that time, Mrs Pipchin appeared to have something of the same
odd kind of attraction towards Paul, as Paul had towards her. She
would make him move his chair to her side of the fire, instead of
sitting opposite; and there he would remain in a nook between Mrs
Pipchin and the fender, with all the light of his little face absorbed
into the black bombazeen drapery, studying every line and wrinkle of
her countenance, and peering at the hard grey eye, until Mrs Pipchin
was sometimes fain to shut it, on pretence of dozing. Mrs Pipchin had
an old black cat, who generally lay coiled upon the centre foot of the
fender, purring egotistically, and winking at the fire until the
contracted pupils of his eyes were like two notes of admiration. The
good old lady might have been - not to record it disrespectfully - a
witch, and Paul and the cat her two familiars, as they all sat by the
fire together. It would have been quite in keeping with the appearance
of the party if they had all sprung up the chimney in a high wind one
night, and never been heard of any more.

This, however, never came to pass. The cat, and Paul, and Mrs
Pipchin, were constantly to be found in their usual places after dark;
and Paul, eschewing the companionship of Master Bitherstone, went on
studying Mrs Pipchin, and the cat, and the fire, night after night, as


if they were a book of necromancy, in three volumes.

Mrs Wickam put her own construction on Paul's eccentricities; and
being confirmed in her low spirits by a perplexed view of chimneys
from the room where she was accustomed to sit, and by the noise of the
wind, and by the general dulness (gashliness was Mrs Wickam's strong
expression) of her present life, deduced the most dismal reflections
from the foregoing premises. It was a part of Mrs Pipchin's policy to
prevent her own 'young hussy' - that was Mrs Pipchin's generic name
for female servant - from communicating with Mrs Wickam: to which end
she devoted much of her time to concealing herself behind doors, and
springing out on that devoted maiden, whenever she made an approach
towards Mrs Wickam's apartment. But Berry was free to hold what
converse she could in that quarter, consistently with the discharge of
the multifarious duties at which she toiled incessantly from morning
to night; and to Berry Mrs Wickam unburdened her mind.

'What a pretty fellow he is when he's asleep!' said Berry, stopping
to look at Paul in bed, one night when she took up Mrs Wickam's
supper.

'Ah!' sighed Mrs Wickam. 'He need be.'

'Why, he's not ugly when he's awake,' observed Berry.

'No, Ma'am. Oh, no. No more was my Uncle's Betsey Jane,' said Mrs
Wickam.

Berry looked as if she would like to trace the connexion of ideas
between Paul Dombey and Mrs Wickam's Uncle's Betsey Jane

'My Uncle's wife,' Mrs Wickam went on to say, 'died just like his
Mama. My Uncle's child took on just as Master Paul do.'

'Took on! You don't think he grieves for his Mama, sure?' argued
Berry, sitting down on the side of the bed. 'He can't remember
anything about her, you know, Mrs Wickam. It's not possible.'

'No, Ma'am,' said Mrs Wickam 'No more did my Uncle's child. But my
Uncle's child said very strange things sometimes, and looked very
strange, and went on very strange, and was very strange altogether. My
Uncle's child made people's blood run cold, some times, she did!'

'How?' asked Berry.

'I wouldn't have sat up all night alone with Betsey Jane!' said Mrs
Wickam, 'not if you'd have put Wickam into business next morning for
himself. I couldn't have done it, Miss Berry.

Miss Berry naturally asked why not? But Mrs Wickam, agreeably to
the usage of some ladies in her condition, pursued her own branch of
the subject, without any compunction.

'Betsey Jane,' said Mrs Wickam, 'was as sweet a child as I could
wish to see. I couldn't wish to see a sweeter. Everything that a child
could have in the way of illnesses, Betsey Jane had come through. The
cramps was as common to her,' said Mrs Wickam, 'as biles is to
yourself, Miss Berry.' Miss Berry involuntarily wrinkled her nose.

'But Betsey Jane,' said Mrs Wickam, lowering her voice, and looking
round the room, and towards Paul in bed, 'had been minded, in her
cradle, by her departed mother. I couldn't say how, nor I couldn't say
when, nor I couldn't say whether the dear child knew it or not, but
Betsey Jane had been watched by her mother, Miss Berry!' and Mrs


Wickam, with a very white face, and with watery eyes, and with a
tremulous voice, again looked fearfully round the room, and towards
Paul in bed.

'Nonsense!' cried Miss Berry - somewhat resentful of the idea.

'You may say nonsense! I ain't offended, Miss. I hope you may be
able to think in your own conscience that it is nonsense; you'll find
your spirits all the better for it in this - you'll excuse my being so
free - in this burying-ground of a place; which is wearing of me down.
Master Paul's a little restless in his sleep. Pat his back, if you
please.'

'Of course you think,' said Berry, gently doing what she was asked,
'that he has been nursed by his mother, too?'

'Betsey Jane,' returned Mrs Wickam in her most solemn tones, 'was
put upon as that child has been put upon, and changed as that child
has changed. I have seen her sit, often and often, think, think,
thinking, like him. I have seen her look, often and often, old, old,
old, like him. I have heard her, many a time, talk just like him. I
consider that child and Betsey Jane on the same footing entirely, Miss
Berry.'

'Is your Uncle's child alive?' asked Berry.

'Yes, Miss, she is alive,' returned Mrs Wickam with an air of
triumph, for it was evident. Miss Berry expected the reverse; 'and is
married to a silver-chaser. Oh yes, Miss, SHE is alive,' said Mrs
Wickam, laying strong stress on her nominative case.

It being clear that somebody was dead, Mrs Pipchin's niece inquired
who it was.

'I wouldn't wish to make you uneasy,' returned Mrs Wickam, pursuing
her supper. Don't ask me.'

This was the surest way of being asked again. Miss Berry repeated
her question, therefore; and after some resistance, and reluctance,
Mrs Wickam laid down her knife, and again glancing round the room and
at Paul in bed, replied:

'She took fancies to people; whimsical fancies, some of them;
others, affections that one might expect to see - only stronger than
common. They all died.'

This was so very unexpected and awful to Mrs Pipchin's niece, that
she sat upright on the hard edge of the bedstead, breathing short, and
surveying her informant with looks of undisguised alarm.

Mrs Wickam shook her left fore-finger stealthily towards the bed
where Florence lay; then turned it upside down, and made several
emphatic points at the floor; immediately below which was the parlour
in which Mrs Pipchin habitually consumed the toast.

'Remember my words, Miss Berry,' said Mrs Wickam, 'and be thankful
that Master Paul is not too fond of you. I am, that he's not too fond
of me, I assure you; though there isn't much to live for - you'll
excuse my being so free - in this jail of a house!'

Miss Berry's emotion might have led to her patting Paul too hard on
the back, or might have produced a cessation of that soothing
monotony, but he turned in his bed just now, and, presently awaking,
sat up in it with his hair hot and wet from the effects of some


childish dream, and asked for Florence.

She was out of her own bed at the first sound of his voice; and
bending over his pillow immediately, sang him to sleep again. Mrs
Wickam shaking her head, and letting fall several tears, pointed out
the little group to Berry, and turned her eyes up to the ceiling.

'He's asleep now, my dear,' said Mrs Wickam after a pause, 'you'd
better go to bed again. Don't you feel cold?'

'No, nurse,' said Florence, laughing. 'Not at all.'

'Ah!' sighed Mrs Wickam, and she shook her head again, expressing
to the watchful Berry, 'we shall be cold enough, some of us, by and
by!'

Berry took the frugal supper-tray, with which Mrs Wickam had by
this time done, and bade her good-night.

'Good-night, Miss!' returned Wickam softly. 'Good-night! Your aunt
is an old lady, Miss Berry, and it's what you must have looked for,
often.'

This consolatory farewell, Mrs Wickam accompanied with a look of
heartfelt anguish; and being left alone with the two children again,
and becoming conscious that the wind was blowing mournfully, she
indulged in melancholy - that cheapest and most accessible of luxuries

-until she was overpowered by slumber.
Although the niece of Mrs Pipchin did not expect to find that
exemplary dragon prostrate on the hearth-rug when she went downstairs,
she was relieved to find her unusually fractious and severe, and with
every present appearance of intending to live a long time to be a
comfort to all who knew her. Nor had she any symptoms of declining, in
the course of the ensuing week, when the constitutional viands still
continued to disappear in regular succession, notwithstanding that
Paul studied her as attentively as ever, and occupied his usual seat
between the black skirts and the fender, with unwavering constancy.

But as Paul himself was no stronger at the expiration of that time
than he had been on his first arrival, though he looked much healthier
in the face, a little carriage was got for him, in which he could lie
at his ease, with an alphabet and other elementary works of reference,
and be wheeled down to the sea-side. Consistent in his odd tastes, the
child set aside a ruddy-faced lad who was proposed as the drawer of
this carriage, and selected, instead, his grandfather - a weazen, old,
crab-faced man, in a suit of battered oilskin, who had got tough and
stringy from long pickling in salt water, and who smelt like a weedy
sea-beach when the tide is out.

With this notable attendant to pull him along, and Florence always
walking by his side, and the despondent Wickam bringing up the rear,
he went down to the margin of the ocean every day; and there he would
sit or lie in his carriage for hours together: never so distressed as
by the company of children - Florence alone excepted, always.

'Go away, if you please,' he would say to any child who came to
bear him company. Thank you, but I don't want you.'

Some small voice, near his ear, would ask him how he was, perhaps.

'I am very well, I thank you,' he would answer. 'But you had better
go and play, if you please.'


Then he would turn his head, and watch the child away, and say to
Florence, 'We don't want any others, do we? Kiss me, Floy.'

He had even a dislike, at such times, to the company of Wickam, and
was well pleased when she strolled away, as she generally did, to pick
up shells and acquaintances. His favourite spot was quite a lonely
one, far away from most loungers; and with Florence sitting by his
side at work, or reading to him, or talking to him, and the wind
blowing on his face, and the water coming up among the wheels of his
bed, he wanted nothing more.

'Floy,' he said one day, 'where's India, where that boy's friends
live?'

'Oh, it's a long, long distance off,' said Florence, raising her
eyes from her work.

'Weeks off?' asked Paul.

'Yes dear. Many weeks' journey, night and day.'

'If you were in India, Floy,' said Paul, after being silent for a
minute, 'I should - what is it that Mama did? I forget.'

'Loved me!' answered Florence.

'No, no. Don't I love you now, Floy? What is it? - Died. in you
were in India, I should die, Floy.'

She hurriedly put her work aside, and laid her head down on his
pillow, caressing him. And so would she, she said, if he were there.
He would be better soon.

'Oh! I am a great deal better now!' he answered. 'I don't mean
that. I mean that I should die of being so sorry and so lonely, Floy!'

Another time, in the same place, he fell asleep, and slept quietly
for a long time. Awaking suddenly, he listened, started up, and sat
listening.

Florence asked him what he thought he heard.

'I want to know what it says,' he answered, looking steadily in her
face. 'The sea' Floy, what is it that it keeps on saying?'

She told him that it was only the noise of the rolling waves.

'Yes, yes,' he said. 'But I know that they are always saying
something. Always the same thing. What place is over there?' He rose
up, looking eagerly at the horizon.

She told him that there was another country opposite, but he said
he didn't mean that: he meant further away - farther away!

Very often afterwards, in the midst of their talk, he would break
off, to try to understand what it was that the waves were always
saying; and would rise up in his couch to look towards that invisible
region, far away.

CHAPTER 9.

In which the Wooden Midshipman gets into Trouble


That spice of romance and love of the marvellous, of which there
was a pretty strong infusion in the nature of young Walter Gay, and
which the guardianship of his Uncle, old Solomon Gills, had not very
much weakened by the waters of stern practical experience, was the
occasion of his attaching an uncommon and delightful interest to the
adventure of Florence with Good Mrs Brown. He pampered and cherished
it in his memory, especially that part of it with which he had been
associated: until it became the spoiled child of his fancy, and took
its own way, and did what it liked with it.

The recollection of those incidents, and his own share in them, may
have been made the more captivating, perhaps, by the weekly dreamings
of old Sol and Captain Cuttle on Sundays. Hardly a Sunday passed,
without mysterious references being made by one or other of those
worthy chums to Richard Whittington; and the latter gentleman had even
gone so far as to purchase a ballad of considerable antiquity, that
had long fluttered among many others, chiefly expressive of maritime
sentiments, on a dead wall in the Commercial Road: which poetical
performance set forth the courtship and nuptials of a promising young
coal-whipper with a certain 'lovely Peg,' the accomplished daughter of
the master and part-owner of a Newcastle collier. In this stirring
legend, Captain Cuttle descried a profound metaphysical bearing on the
case of Walter and Florence; and it excited him so much, that on very
festive occasions, as birthdays and a few other non-Dominical
holidays, he would roar through the whole song in the little back
parlour; making an amazing shake on the word Pe-e-eg, with which every
verse concluded, in compliment to the heroine of the piece.

But a frank, free-spirited, open-hearted boy, is not much given to
analysing the nature of his own feelings, however strong their hold
upon him: and Walter would have found it difficult to decide this
point. He had a great affection for the wharf where he had encountered
Florence, and for the streets (albeit not enchanting in themselves) by
which they had come home. The shoes that had so often tumbled off by
the way, he preserved in his own room; and, sitting in the little back
parlour of an evening, he had drawn a whole gallery of fancy portraits
of Good Mrs Brown. It may be that he became a little smarter in his
dress after that memorable occasion; and he certainly liked in his
leisure time to walk towards that quarter of the town where Mr
Dombey's house was situated, on the vague chance of passing little
Florence in the street. But the sentiment of all this was as boyish
and innocent as could be. Florence was very pretty, and it is pleasant
to admire a pretty face. Florence was defenceless and weak, and it was
a proud thought that he had been able to render her any protection and
assistance. Florence was the most grateful little creature in the
world, and it was delightful to see her bright gratitude beaming in
her face. Florence was neglected and coldly looked upon, and his
breast was full of youthful interest for the slighted child in her
dull, stately home.

Thus it came about that, perhaps some half-a-dozen times in the
course of the year, Walter pulled off his hat to Florence in the
street, and Florence would stop to shake hands. Mrs Wickam (who, with
a characteristic alteration of his name, invariably spoke of him as
'Young Graves') was so well used to this, knowing the story of their
acquaintance, that she took no heed of it at all. Miss Nipper, on the
other hand, rather looked out for these occasions: her sensitive young
heart being secretly propitiated by Walter's good looks, and inclining
to the belief that its sentiments were responded to.

In this way, Walter, so far from forgetting or losing sight of his


acquaintance with Florence, only remembered it better and better. As
to its adventurous beginning, and all those little circumstances which
gave it a distinctive character and relish, he took them into account,
more as a pleasant story very agreeable to his imagination, and not to
be dismissed from it, than as a part of any matter of fact with which
he was concerned. They set off Florence very much, to his fancy; but
not himself. Sometimes he thought (and then he walked very fast) what
a grand thing it would have been for him to have been going to sea on
the day after that first meeting, and to have gone, and to have done
wonders there, and to have stopped away a long time, and to have come
back an Admiral of all the colours of the dolphin, or at least a
Post-Captain with epaulettes of insupportable brightness, and have
married Florence (then a beautiful young woman) in spite of Mr
Dombey's teeth, cravat, and watch-chain, and borne her away to the
blue shores of somewhere or other, triumphantly. But these flights of
fancy seldom burnished the brass plate of Dombey and Son's Offices
into a tablet of golden hope, or shed a brilliant lustre on their
dirty skylights; and when the Captain and Uncle Sol talked about
Richard Whittington and masters' daughters, Walter felt that he
understood his true position at Dombey and Son's, much better than
they did.

So it was that he went on doing what he had to do from day to day,
in a cheerful, pains-taking, merry spirit; and saw through the
sanguine complexion of Uncle Sol and Captain Cuttle; and yet
entertained a thousand indistinct and visionary fancies of his own, to
which theirs were work-a-day probabilities. Such was his condition at
the Pipchin period, when he looked a little older than of yore, but
not much; and was the same light-footed, light-hearted, light-headed
lad, as when he charged into the parlour at the head of Uncle Sol and
the imaginary boarders, and lighted him to bring up the Madeira.

'Uncle Sol,' said Walter, 'I don't think you're well. You haven't
eaten any breakfast. I shall bring a doctor to you, if you go on like
this.'

'He can't give me what I want, my boy,' said Uncle Sol. 'At least
he is in good practice if he can - and then he wouldn't.'

'What is it, Uncle? Customers?'

'Ay,' returned Solomon, with a sigh. 'Customers would do.'

'Confound it, Uncle!' said Walter, putting down his breakfast cup
with a clatter, and striking his hand on the table: 'when I see the
people going up and down the street in shoals all day, and passing and
re-passing the shop every minute, by scores, I feel half tempted to
rush out, collar somebody, bring him in, and make him buy fifty
pounds' worth of instruments for ready money. What are you looking in
at the door for? - ' continued Walter, apostrophizing an old gentleman
with a powdered head (inaudibly to him of course), who was staring at
a ship's telescope with all his might and main. 'That's no use. I
could do that. Come in and buy it!'

The old gentleman, however, having satiated his curiosity, walked
calmly away.

'There he goes!' said Walter. 'That's the way with 'em all. But,
Uncle - I say, Uncle Sol' - for the old man was meditating and had not
responded to his first appeal. 'Don't be cast down. Don't be out of
spirits, Uncle. When orders do come, they'll come in such a crowd, you
won't be able to execute 'em.'

'I shall be past executing 'em, whenever they come, my boy,'


returned Solomon Gills. 'They'll never come to this shop again, till I
am out of t.'

'I say, Uncle! You musn't really, you know!' urged Walter. 'Don't!'

Old Sol endeavoured to assume a cheery look, and smiled across the
little table at him as pleasantly as he could.

'There's nothing more than usual the matter; is there, Uncle?' said
Walter, leaning his elbows on the tea tray, and bending over, to speak
the more confidentially and kindly. 'Be open with me, Uncle, if there
is, and tell me all about it.'

'No, no, no,' returned Old Sol. 'More than usual? No, no. What
should there be the matter more than usual?'

Walter answered with an incredulous shake of his head. 'That's what
I want to know,' he said, 'and you ask me! I'll tell you what, Uncle,
when I see you like this, I am quite sorry that I live with you.'

Old Sol opened his eyes involuntarily.

'Yes. Though nobody ever was happier than I am and always have been
with you, I am quite sorry that I live with you, when I see you with
anything in your mind.'

'I am a little dull at such times, I know,' observed Solomon,
meekly rubbing his hands.

'What I mean, Uncle Sol,' pursued Walter, bending over a little
more to pat him on the shoulder, 'is, that then I feel you ought to
have, sitting here and pouring out the tea instead of me, a nice
little dumpling of a wife, you know, - a comfortable, capital, cosy
old lady, who was just a match for you, and knew how to manage you,
and keep you in good heart. Here am I, as loving a nephew as ever was
(I am sure I ought to be!) but I am only a nephew, and I can't be such
a companion to you when you're low and out of sorts as she would have
made herself, years ago, though I'm sure I'd give any money if I could
cheer you up. And so I say, when I see you with anything on your mind,
that I feel quite sorry you haven't got somebody better about you than
a blundering young rough-and-tough boy like me, who has got the will
to console you, Uncle, but hasn't got the way - hasn't got the way,'
repeated Walter, reaching over further yet, to shake his Uncle by the
hand.

'Wally, my dear boy,' said Solomon, 'if the cosy little old lady
had taken her place in this parlour five and forty years ago, I never
could have been fonder of her than I am of you.'

'I know that, Uncle Sol,' returned Walter. 'Lord bless you, I know
that. But you wouldn't have had the whole weight of any uncomfortable
secrets if she had been with you, because she would have known how to
relieve you of 'em, and I don't.'

'Yes, yes, you do,' returned the Instrument-maker.

'Well then, what's the matter, Uncle Sol?' said Walter, coaxingly.
'Come! What's the matter?'

Solomon Gills persisted that there was nothing the matter; and
maintained it so resolutely, that his nephew had no resource but to
make a very indifferent imitation of believing him.

'All I can say is, Uncle Sol, that if there is - '


'But there isn't,' said Solomon.

'Very well,, said Walter. 'Then I've no more to say; and that's
lucky, for my time's up for going to business. I shall look in
by-and-by when I'm out, to see how you get on, Uncle. And mind, Uncle!
I'll never believe you again, and never tell you anything more about
Mr Carker the Junior, if I find out that you have been deceiving me!'

Solomon Gills laughingly defied him to find out anything of the
kind; and Walter, revolving in his thoughts all sorts of impracticable
ways of making fortunes and placing the wooden Midshipman in a
position of independence, betook himself to the offices of Dombey and
Son with a heavier countenance than he usually carried there.

There lived in those days, round the corner - in Bishopsgate Street
Without - one Brogley, sworn broker and appraiser, who kept a shop
where every description of second-hand furniture was exhibited in the
most uncomfortable aspect, and under circumstances and in combinations
the most completely foreign to its purpose. Dozens of chairs hooked on
to washing-stands, which with difficulty poised themselves on the
shoulders of sideboards, which in their turn stood upon the wrong side
of dining-tables, gymnastic with their legs upward on the tops of
other dining-tables, were among its most reasonable arrangements. A
banquet array of dish-covers, wine-glasses, and decanters was
generally to be seen, spread forth upon the bosom of a four-post
bedstead, for the entertainment of such genial company as half-a-dozen
pokers, and a hall lamp. A set of window curtains with no windows
belonging to them, would be seen gracefully draping a barricade of
chests of drawers, loaded with little jars from chemists' shops; while
a homeless hearthrug severed from its natural companion the fireside,
braved the shrewd east wind in its adversity, and trembled in
melancholy accord with the shrill complainings of a cabinet piano,
wasting away, a string a day, and faintly resounding to the noises of
the street in its jangling and distracted brain. Of motionless clocks
that never stirred a finger, and seemed as incapable of being
successfully wound up, as the pecuniary affairs of their former
owners, there was always great choice in Mr Brogley's shop; and
various looking-glasses, accidentally placed at compound interest of
reflection and refraction, presented to the eye an eternal perspective
of bankruptcy and ruin.

Mr Brogley himself was a moist-eyed, pink-complexioned,
crisp-haired man, of a bulky figure and an easy temper - for that
class of Caius Marius who sits upon the ruins of other people's
Carthages, can keep up his spirits well enough. He had looked in at
Solomon's shop sometimes, to ask a question about articles in
Solomon's way of business; and Walter knew him sufficiently to give
him good day when they met in the street. But as that was the extent
of the broker's acquaintance with Solomon Gills also, Walter was not a
little surprised when he came back in the course of the forenoon,
agreeably to his promise, to find Mr Brogley sitting in the back
parlour with his hands in his pockets, and his hat hanging up behind
the door.

'Well, Uncle Sol!' said Walter. The old man was sitting ruefully on
the opposite side of the table, with his spectacles over his eyes, for
a wonder, instead of on his forehead. 'How are you now?'

Solomon shook his head, and waved one hand towards the broker, as
introducing him.

'Is there anything the matter?' asked Walter, with a catching in
his breath.


'No, no. There's nothing the matter, said Mr Brogley. 'Don't let it
put you out of the way.' Walter looked from the broker to his Uncle in
mute amazement. 'The fact is,' said Mr Brogley, 'there's a little
payment on a bond debt - three hundred and seventy odd, overdue: and
I'm in possession.'

'In possession!' cried Walter, looking round at the shop.

'Ah!' said Mr Brogley, in confidential assent, and nodding his head
as if he would urge the advisability of their all being comfortable
together. 'It's an execution. That's what it is. Don't let it put you
out of the way. I come myself, because of keeping it quiet and
sociable. You know me. It's quite private.'

'Uncle Sol!' faltered Walter.

'Wally, my boy,' returned his uncle. 'It's the first time. Such a
calamity never happened to me before. I'm an old man to begin.'
Pushing up his spectacles again (for they were useless any longer to
conceal his emotion), he covered his face with his hand, and sobbed
aloud, and his tears fell down upon his coffee-coloured waistcoat.

'Uncle Sol! Pray! oh don't!' exclaimed Walter, who really felt a
thrill of terror in seeing the old man weep. 'For God's sake don't do
that. Mr Brogley, what shall I do?'

'I should recommend you looking up a friend or so,' said Mr
Brogley, 'and talking it over.'

'To be sure!' cried Walter, catching at anything. 'Certainly!
Thankee. Captain Cuttle's the man, Uncle. Wait till I run to Captain
Cuttle. Keep your eye upon my Uncle, will you, Mr Brogley, and make
him as comfortable as you can while I am gone? Don't despair, Uncle
Sol. Try and keep a good heart, there's a dear fellow!'

Saying this with great fervour, and disregarding the old man's
broken remonstrances, Walter dashed out of the shop again as hard as
he could go; and, having hurried round to the office to excuse himself
on the plea of his Uncle's sudden illness, set off, full speed, for
Captain Cuttle's residence.

Everything seemed altered as he ran along the streets. There were
the usual entanglement and noise of carts, drays, omnibuses, waggons,
and foot passengers, but the misfortune that had fallen on the wooden
Midshipman made it strange and new. Houses and shops were different
from what they used to be, and bore Mr Brogley's warrant on their
fronts in large characters. The broker seemed to have got hold of the
very churches; for their spires rose into the sky with an unwonted
air. Even the sky itself was changed, and had an execution in it
plainly.

Captain Cuttle lived on the brink of a little canal near the India
Docks, where there was a swivel bridge which opened now and then to
let some wandering monster of a ship come roamIng up the street like a
stranded leviathan. The gradual change from land to water, on the
approach to Captain Cuttle's lodgings, was curious. It began with the
erection of flagstaffs, as appurtenances to public-houses; then came
slop-sellers' shops, with Guernsey shirts, sou'wester hats, and canvas
pantaloons, at once the tightest and the loosest of their order,
hanging up outside. These were succeeded by anchor and chain-cable
forges, where sledgehammers were dinging upon iron all day long. Then
came rows of houses, with little vane-surmounted masts uprearing
themselves from among the scarlet beans. Then, ditches. Then, pollard


willows. Then, more ditches. Then, unaccountable patches of dirty
water, hardly to be descried, for the ships that covered them. Then,
the air was perfumed with chips; and all other trades were swallowed
up in mast, oar, and block-making, and boatbuilding. Then, the ground
grew marshy and unsettled. Then, there was nothing to be smelt but rum
and sugar. Then, Captain Cuttle's lodgings - at once a first floor and
a top storey, in Brig Place - were close before you.

The Captain was one of those timber-looking men, suits of oak as
well as hearts, whom it is almost impossible for the liveliest
imagination to separate from any part of their dress, however
insignificant. Accordingly, when Walter knocked at the door, and the
Captain instantly poked his head out of one of his little front
windows, and hailed him, with the hard glared hat already on it, and
the shirt-collar like a sail, and the wide suit of blue, all standing
as usual, Walter was as fully persuaded that he was always in that
state, as if the Captain had been a bird and those had been his
feathers.

'Wal'r, my lad!'said Captain Cuttle. 'Stand by and knock again.
Hard! It's washing day.'

Walter, in his impatience, gave a prodigious thump with the
knocker.

'Hard it is!' said Captain Cuttle, and immediately drew in his
head, as if he expected a squall.

Nor was he mistaken: for a widow lady, with her sleeves rolled up
to her shoulders, and her arms frothy with soap-suds and smoking with
hot water, replied to the summons with startling rapidity. Before she
looked at Walter she looked at the knocker, and then, measuring him
with her eyes from head to foot, said she wondered he had left any of
it.

'Captain Cuttle's at home, I know,' said Walter with a conciliatory
smile.

'Is he?' replied the widow lady. 'In-deed!'

'He has just been speaking to me,' said Walter, in breathless
explanation.

'Has he?' replied the widow lady. 'Then p'raps you'll give him Mrs
MacStinger's respects, and say that the next time he lowers himself
and his lodgings by talking out of the winder she'll thank him to come
down and open the door too.' Mrs MacStinger spoke loud, and listened
for any observations that might be offered from the first floor.

'I'll mention it,' said Walter, 'if you'll have the goodness to let
me in, Ma'am.'

For he was repelled by a wooden fortification extending across the
doorway, and put there to prevent the little MacStingers in their
moments of recreation from tumbling down the steps.

'A boy that can knock my door down,' said Mrs MacStinger,
contemptuously, 'can get over that, I should hope!' But Walter, taking
this as a permission to enter, and getting over it, Mrs MacStinger
immediately demanded whether an Englishwoman's house was her castle or
not; and whether she was to be broke in upon by 'raff.' On these
subjects her thirst for information was still very importunate, when
Walter, having made his way up the little staircase through an
artificial fog occasioned by the washing, which covered the banisters


with a clammy perspiration, entered Captain Cuttle's room, and found
that gentleman in ambush behind the door.

'Never owed her a penny, Wal'r,' said Captain Cuttle, in a low
voice, and with visible marks of trepidation on his countenance. 'Done
her a world of good turns, and the children too. Vixen at times,
though. Whew!'

'I should go away, Captain Cuttle,' said Walter.

'Dursn't do it, Wal'r,' returned the Captain. 'She'd find me out,
wherever I went. Sit down. How's Gills?'

The Captain was dining (in his hat) off cold loin of mutton,
porter, and some smoking hot potatoes, which he had cooked himself,
and took out of a little saucepan before the fire as he wanted them.
He unscrewed his hook at dinner-time, and screwed a knife into its
wooden socket instead, with which he had already begun to peel one of
these potatoes for Walter. His rooms were very small, and strongly
impregnated with tobacco-smoke, but snug enough: everything being
stowed away, as if there were an earthquake regularly every half-hour.

'How's Gills?' inquired the Captain.

Walter, who had by this time recovered his breath, and lost his
spirits - or such temporary spirits as his rapid journey had given him

-looked at his questioner for a moment, said 'Oh, Captain Cuttle!'
and burst into tears.
No words can describe the Captain's consternation at this sight Mrs
MacStinger faded into nothing before it. He dropped the potato and the
fork - and would have dropped the knife too if he could - and sat
gazing at the boy, as if he expected to hear next moment that a gulf
had opened in the City, which had swallowed up his old friend,
coffee-coloured suit, buttons, chronometer, spectacles, and all.


But when Walter told him what was really the matter, Captain
Cuttle, after a moment's reflection, started up into full activity. He
emptied out of a little tin canister on the top shelf of the cupboard,
his whole stock of ready money (amounting to thirteen pounds and
half-a-crown), which he transferred to one of the pockets of his
square blue coat; further enriched that repository with the contents
of his plate chest, consisting of two withered atomies of tea-spoons,
and an obsolete pair of knock-knee'd sugar-tongs; pulled up his
immense double-cased silver watch from the depths in which it reposed,
to assure himself that that valuable was sound and whole; re-attached
the hook to his right wrist; and seizing the stick covered over with
knobs, bade Walter come along.


Remembering, however, in the midst of his virtuous excitement, that
Mrs MacStinger might be lying in wait below, Captain Cuttle hesitated
at last, not without glancing at the window, as if he had some
thoughts of escaping by that unusual means of egress, rather than
encounter his terrible enemy. He decided, however, in favour of
stratagem.


'Wal'r,' said the Captain, with a timid wink, 'go afore, my lad.
Sing out, good-byeCaptain Cuttle when you're in the passage, and
shut the door. Then wait at the corner of the street 'till you see me.


These directions were not issued without a previous knowledge of
the enemy's tactics, for when Walter got downstairs, Mrs MacStinger
glided out of the little back kitchen, like an avenging spirit. But
not gliding out upon the Captain, as she had expected, she merely made



a further allusion to the knocker, and glided in again.

Some five minutes elapsed before Captain Cuttle could summon
courage to attempt his escape; for Walter waited so long at the street
corner, looking back at the house, before there were any symptoms of
the hard glazed hat. At length the Captain burst out of the door with
the suddenness of an explosion, and coming towards him at a great
pace, and never once looking over his shoulder, pretended, as soon as
they were well out of the street, to whistle a tune.

'Uncle much hove down, Wal'r?' inquired the Captain, as they were
walking along.

'I am afraid so. If you had seen him this morning, you would never
have forgotten it.'

'Walk fast, Wal'r, my lad,' returned the Captain, mending his pace;
'and walk the same all the days of your life. Overhaul the catechism
for that advice, and keep it!'

The Captain was too busy with his own thoughts of Solomon Gills,
mingled perhaps with some reflections on his late escape from Mrs
MacStinger, to offer any further quotations on the way for Walter's
moral improvement They interchanged no other word until they arrived
at old Sol's door, where the unfortunate wooden Midshipman, with his
instrument at his eye, seemed to be surveying the whole horizon in
search of some friend to help him out of his difficulty.

'Gills!' said the Captain, hurrying into the back parlour, and
taking him by the hand quite tenderly. 'Lay your head well to the
wind, and we'll fight through it. All you've got to do,' said the
Captain, with the solemnity of a man who was delivering himself of one
of the most precious practical tenets ever discovered by human wisdom,
'is to lay your head well to the wind, and we'll fight through it!'

Old Sol returned the pressure of his hand, and thanked him.

Captain Cuttle, then, with a gravity suitable to the nature of the
occasion, put down upon the table the two tea-spoons and the
sugar-tongs, the silver watch, and the ready money; and asked Mr
Brogley, the broker, what the damage was.

'Come! What do you make of it?' said Captain Cuttle.

'Why, Lord help you!' returned the broker; 'you don't suppose that
property's of any use, do you?'

'Why not?' inquired the Captain.

'Why? The amount's three hundred and seventy, odd,' replied the
broker.

'Never mind,' returned the Captain, though he was evidently
dismayed by the figures: 'all's fish that comes to your net, I
suppose?'

'Certainly,' said Mr Brogley. 'But sprats ain't whales, you know.'

The philosophy of this observation seemed to strike the Captain. He
ruminated for a minute; eyeing the broker, meanwhile, as a deep
genius; and then called the Instrument-maker aside.

'Gills,' said Captain Cuttle, 'what's the bearings of this
business? Who's the creditor?'


'Hush!' returned the old man. 'Come away. Don't speak before Wally.
It's a matter of security for Wally's father - an old bond. I've paid
a good deal of it, Ned, but the times are so bad with me that I can't
do more just now. I've foreseen it, but I couldn't help it. Not a word
before Wally, for all the world.'

'You've got some money, haven't you?' whispered the Captain.

'Yes, yes - oh yes- I've got some,' returned old Sol, first putting
his hands into his empty pockets, and then squeezing his Welsh wig
between them, as if he thought he might wring some gold out of it;
'but I - the little I have got, isn't convertible, Ned; it can't be
got at. I have been trying to do something with it for Wally, and I'm
old fashioned, and behind the time. It's here and there, and - and, in
short, it's as good as nowhere,' said the old man, looking in
bewilderment about him.

He had so much the air of a half-witted person who had been hiding
his money in a variety of places, and had forgotten where, that the
Captain followed his eyes, not without a faint hope that he might
remember some few hundred pounds concealed up the chimney, or down in
the cellar. But Solomon Gills knew better than that.

'I'm behind the time altogether, my dear Ned,' said Sol, in
resigned despair, 'a long way. It's no use my lagging on so far behind
it. The stock had better be sold - it's worth more than this debt and
I had better go and die somewhere, on the balance. I haven't any
energy left. I don't understand things. This had better be the end of
it. Let 'em sell the stock and take him down,' said the old man,
pointing feebly to the wooden Midshipman, 'and let us both be broken
up together.'

'And what d'ye mean to do with Wal'r?'said the Captain. 'There,
there! Sit ye down, Gills, sit ye down, and let me think o' this. If I
warn't a man on a small annuity, that was large enough till to-day, I
hadn't need to think of it. But you only lay your head well to the
wind,' said the Captain, again administering that unanswerable piece
of consolation, 'and you're all right!'

Old Sol thanked him from his heart, and went and laid it against
the back parlour fire-place instead.

Captain Cuttle walked up and down the shop for some time,
cogitating profoundly, and bringing his bushy black eyebrows to bear
so heavily on his nose, like clouds setting on a mountain, that Walter
was afraid to offer any interruption to the current of his
reflections. Mr Brogley, who was averse to being any constraint upon
the party, and who had an ingenious cast of mind, went, softly
whistling, among the stock; rattling weather-glasses, shaking
compasses as if they were physic, catching up keys with loadstones,
looking through telescopes, endeavouring to make himself acquainted
with the use of the globes, setting parallel rulers astride on to his
nose, and amusing himself with other philosophical transactions.

'Wal'r!' said the Captain at last. 'I've got it.'

'Have you, Captain Cuttle?' cried Walter, with great animation.

'Come this way, my lad,' said the Captain. 'The stock's the
security. I'm another. Your governor's the man to advance money.'

'Mr Dombey!' faltered Walter.


The Captain nodded gravely. 'Look at him,' he said. 'Look at Gills.
If they was to sell off these things now, he'd die of it. You know he
would. We mustn't leave a stone unturned - and there's a stone for
you.'

'A stone! - Mr Dombey!' faltered Walter.

'You run round to the office, first of all, and see if he's there,'
said Captain Cuttle, clapping him on the back. 'Quick!'

Walter felt he must not dispute the command - a glance at his Uncle
would have determined him if he had felt otherwise - and disappeared
to execute it. He soon returned, out of breath, to say that Mr Dombey
was not there. It was Saturday, and he had gone to Brighton.

'I tell you what, Wal'r!' said the Captain, who seemed to have
prepared himself for this contingency in his absence. 'We'll go to
Brighton. I'll back you, my boy. I'll back you, Wal'r. We'll go to
Brighton by the afternoon's coach.'

If the application must be made to Mr Dombey at all, which was
awful to think of, Walter felt that he would rather prefer it alone
and unassisted, than backed by the personal influence of Captain
Cuttle, to which he hardly thought Mr Dombey would attach much weight.
But as the Captain appeared to be of quite another opinion, and was
bent upon it, and as his friendship was too zealous and serious to be
trifled with by one so much younger than himself, he forbore to hint
the least objection. Cuttle, therefore, taking a hurried leave of
Solomon Gills, and returning the ready money, the teaspoons, the
sugar-tongs, and the silver watch, to his pocket - with a view, as
Walter thought, with horror, to making a gorgeous impression on Mr
Dombey - bore him off to the coach-office, with- out a minute's delay,
and repeatedly assured him, on the road, that he would stick by him to
the last.

CHAPTER 10.

Containing the Sequel of the Midshipman's Disaster

Major Bagstock, after long and frequent observation of Paul, across
Princess's Place, through his double-barrelled opera-glass; and after
receiving many minute reports, daily, weekly, and monthly, on that
subject, from the native who kept himself in constant communication
with Miss Tox's maid for that purpose; came to the conclusion that
Dombey, Sir, was a man to be known, and that J. B. was the boy to make
his acquaintance.

Miss Tox, however, maintaining her reserved behaviour, and frigidly
declining to understand the Major whenever he called (which he often
did) on any little fishing excursion connected with this project, the
Major, in spite of his constitutional toughness and slyness, was fain
to leave the accomplishment of his desire in some measure to chance,
'which,' as he was used to observe with chuckles at his club, 'has
been fifty to one in favour of Joey B., Sir, ever since his elder
brother died of Yellow Jack in the West Indies.'

It was some time coming to his aid in the present instance, but it
befriended him at last. When the dark servant, with full particulars,
reported Miss Tox absent on Brighton service, the Major was suddenly
touched with affectionate reminiscences of his friend Bill Bitherstone


of Bengal, who had written to ask him, if he ever went that way, to
bestow a call upon his only son. But when the same dark servant
reported Paul at Mrs Pipchin's, and the Major, referring to the letter
favoured by Master Bitherstone on his arrival in England - to which he
had never had the least idea of paying any attention - saw the opening
that presented itself, he was made so rabid by the gout, with which he
happened to be then laid up, that he threw a footstool at the dark
servant in return for his intelligence, and swore he would be the
death of the rascal before he had done with him: which the dark
servant was more than half disposed to believe.

At length the Major being released from his fit, went one Saturday
growling down to Brighton, with the native behind him; apostrophizing
Miss Tox all the way, and gloating over the prospect of carrying by
storm the distinguished friend to whom she attached so much mystery,
and for whom she had deserted him,

'Would you, Ma'am, would you!' said the Major, straining with
vindictiveness, and swelling every already swollen vein in his head.
'Would you give Joey B. the go-by, Ma'am? Not yet, Ma'am, not yet!
Damme, not yet, Sir. Joe is awake, Ma'am. Bagstock is alive, Sir. J.

B. knows a move or two, Ma'am. Josh has his weather-eye open, Sir.
You'll find him tough, Ma'am. Tough, Sir, tough is Joseph. Tough, and
de-vilish sly!'
And very tough indeed Master Bitherstone found him, when he took
that young gentleman out for a walk. But the Major, with his
complexion like a Stilton cheese, and his eyes like a prawn's, went
roving about, perfectly indifferent to Master Bitherstone's amusement,
and dragging Master Bitherstone along, while he looked about him high
and low, for Mr Dombey and his children.


In good time the Major, previously instructed by Mrs Pipchin, spied
out Paul and Florence, and bore down upon them; there being a stately
gentleman (Mr Dombey, doubtless) in their company. Charging with
Master Bitherstone into the very heart of the little squadron, it fell
out, of course, that Master Bitherstone spoke to his fellow-sufferers.
Upon that the Major stopped to notice and admire them; remembered with
amazement that he had seen and spoken to them at his friend Miss Tox's
in Princess's Place; opined that Paul was a devilish fine fellow, and
his own little friend; inquired if he remembered Joey B. the Major;
and finally, with a sudden recollection of the conventionalities of
life, turned and apologised to Mr Dombey.


'But my little friend here, Sir,' said the Major, 'makes a boy of
me again: An old soldier, Sir - Major Bagstock, at your service - is
not ashamed to confess it.' Here the Major lifted his hat. 'Damme,
Sir,' cried the Major with sudden warmth, 'I envy you.' Then he
recollected himself, and added, 'Excuse my freedom.'


Mr Dombey begged he wouldn't mention it.


'An old campaigner, Sir,' said the Major, 'a smoke-dried,
sun-burnt, used-up, invalided old dog of a Major, Sir, was not afraid
of being condemned for his whim by a man like Mr Dombey. I have the
honour of addressing Mr Dombey, I believe?'


'I am the present unworthy representative of that name, Major,'
returned Mr Dombey.


'By G-, Sir!' said the Major, 'it's a great name. It's a name,
Sir,' said the Major firmly, as if he defied Mr Dombey to contradict
him, and would feel it his painful duty to bully him if he did, 'that
is known and honoured in the British possessions abroad. It is a name,



Sir, that a man is proud to recognise. There is nothing adulatory in
Joseph Bagstock, Sir. His Royal Highness the Duke of York observed on
more than one occasion, there is no adulation in Joey. He is a plain
old soldier is Joe. He is tough to a fault is Joseph:" but it's a
great nameSir. By the Lordit's a great name!' said the Major
solemnly.

'You are good enough to rate it higher than it deservesperhaps
Major' returned Mr Dombey.

'NoSir' said the Majorin a severe tone. NoMr Dombeylet us
understand each other. That is not the Bagstock veinSir. You don't
know Joseph B. He is a blunt old blade is Josh. No flattery in him
Sir. Nothing like it.'

Mr Dombey inclined his headand said he believed him to be in
earnestand that his high opinion was gratifying.

'My little friend hereSir' croaked the Majorlooking as amiably
as he couldon Paul'will certify for Joseph Bagstock that he is a
thorough-goingdown-rightplain-spokenold TrumpSirand nothing
more. That boySir' said the Major in a lower tone'will live in
history. That boySiris not a common production. Take care of him
Mr Dombey.'

Mr Dombey seemed to intimate that he would endeavour to do so.

'Here is a boy hereSir' pursued the Majorconfidentiallyand
giving him a thrust with his cane. 'Son of Bitherstone of Bengal. Bill
Bitherstone formerly of ours. That boy's father and myselfSirwere
sworn friends. Wherever you wentSiryou heard of nothing but Bill
Bitherstone and Joe Bagstock. Am I blind to that boy's defects? By no
means. He's a foolSir.'

Mr Dombey glanced at the libelled Master Bitherstoneof whom he
knew at least as much as the Major didand saidin quite a
complacent manner'Really?'

'That is what he issir' said the Major. 'He's a fool. Joe
Bagstock never minces matters. The son of my old friend Bill
Bitherstoneof Bengalis a born foolSir.' Here the Major laughed
till he was almost black. 'My little friend is destined for a public
school' I' presumeMr Dombey?' said the Major when he had recovered.

'I am not quite decided' returned Mr Dombey. 'I think not. He is
delicate.'

'If he's delicateSir' said the Major'you are right. None but
the tough fellows could live through itSirat Sandhurst. We put
each other to the torture thereSir. We roasted the new fellows at a
slow fireand hung 'em out of a three pair of stairs windowwith
their heads downwards. Joseph BagstockSirwas held out of the
window by the heels of his bootsfor thirteen minutes by the college
clock'

The Major might have appealed to his countenance in corroboration
of this story. It certainly looked as if he had hung out a little too
long.

'But it made us what we wereSir' said the Majorsettling his
shirt frill. 'We were ironSirand it forged us. Are you remaining
hereMr Dombey?'

'I generally come down once a weekMajor' returned that


gentleman. 'I stay at the Bedford.'

'I shall have the honour of calling at the BedfordSirif you'll
permit me' said the Major. 'Joey B.Siris not in general a calling
manbut Mr Dombey's is not a common name. I am much indebted to my
little friendSirfor the honour of this introduction.'

Mr Dombey made a very gracious reply; and Major Bagstockhaving
patted Paul on the headand said of Florence that her eyes would play
the Devil with the youngsters before long - 'and the oldsters too
Sirif you come to that' added the Majorchuckling very much stirred
up Master Bitherstone with his walking-stickand departed
with that young gentlemanat a kind of half-trot; rolling his head
and coughing with great dignityas he staggered awaywith his legs
very wide asunder.

In fulfilment of his promisethe Major afterwards called on Mr
Dombey; and Mr Dombeyhaving referred to the army listafterwards
called on the Major. Then the Major called at Mr Dombey's house in
town; and came down againin the same coach as Mr Dombey. In short
Mr Dombey and the Major got on uncommonly well togetherand
uncommonly fast: and Mr Dombey observed of the Majorto his sister
that besides being quite a military man he was really something more
as he had a very admirable idea of the importance of things
unconnected with his own profession.

At length Mr Dombeybringing down Miss Tox and Mrs Chick to see
the childrenand finding the Major again at Brightoninvited him to
dinner at the Bedfordand complimented Miss Tox highlybeforehand
on her neighbour and acquaintance.

'My dearest Louisa' said Miss Tox to Mrs Chickwhen they were
alone togetheron the morning of the appointed day'if I should seem
at all reserved to Major Bagstockor under any constraint with him
promise me not to notice it.'

'My dear Lucretia' returned Mrs Chick'what mystery is involved
in this remarkable request? I must insist upon knowing.'

'Since you are resolved to extort a confession from meLouisa'
said Miss Tox instantly'I have no alternative but to confide to you
that the Major has been particular.'

'Particular!' repeated Mrs Chick.

'The Major has long been very particular indeedmy lovein his
attentions' said Miss Tox'occasionally they have been so very
markedthat my position has been one of no common difficulty.'

'Is he in good circumstances?' inquired Mrs Chick.

'I have every reason to believemy dear - indeed I may say I
know' returned Miss Tox'that he is wealthy. He is truly military
and full of anecdote. I have been informed that his valourwhen he
was in active serviceknew no bounds. I am told that he did all sorts
of things in the Peninsulawith every description of fire-arm; and in
the East and West Indiesmy loveI really couldn't undertake to say
what he did not do.'

'Very creditable to him indeed' said Mrs Chick'extremely so; and
you have given him no encouragementmy dear?'

'If I were to sayLouisa' replied Miss Toxwith every
demonstration of making an effort that rent her soul'that I never


encouraged Major Bagstock slightlyI should not do justice to the
friendship which exists between you and me. It isperhapshardly in
the nature of woman to receive such attentions as the Major once
lavished upon myself without betraying some sense of obligation. But
that is past - long past. Between the Major and me there is now a
yawning chasmand I will not feign to give encouragementLouisa
where I cannot give my heart. My affections' said Miss Tox - 'but
Louisathis is madness!' and departed from the room.

All this Mrs Chick communicated to her brother before dinner: and
it by no means indisposed Mr Dombey to receive the Major with unwonted
cordiality. The Majorfor his partwas in a state of plethoric
satisfaction that knew no bounds: and he coughedand chokedand
chuckledand gaspedand swelleduntil the waiters seemed positively
afraid of him.

'Your family monopolises Joe's lightSir' said the Majorwhen he
had saluted Miss Tox. 'Joe lives in darkness. Princess's Place is
changed into Kamschatka in the winter time. There is no ray of sun
Sirfor Joey B.now.'

'Miss Tox is good enough to take a great deal of interest in Paul
Major' returned Mr Dombey on behalf of that blushing virgin.

'Damme Sir' said the Major'I'm jealous of my little friend. I'm
pining away Sir. The Bagstock breed is degenerating in the forsaken
person of old Joe.' And the Majorbecoming bluer and bluer and
puffing his cheeks further and further over the stiff ridge of his
tight cravatstared at Miss Toxuntil his eyes seemed as if he were
at that moment being overdone before the slow fire at the military
college.

Notwithstanding the palpitation of the heart which these allusions
occasioned herthey were anything but disagreeable to Miss Toxas
they enabled her to be extremely interestingand to manifest an
occasional incoherence and distraction which she was not at all
unwilling to display. The Major gave her abundant opportunities of
exhibiting this emotion: being profuse in his complaintsat dinner
of her desertion of him and Princess's Place: and as he appeared to
derive great enjoyment from making themthey all got on very well.

None the worse on account of the Major taking charge of the whole
conversationand showing as great an appetite in that respect as in
regard of the various dainties on the tableamong which he may be
almost said to have wallowed: greatly to the aggravation of his
inflammatory tendencies. Mr Dombey's habitual silence and reserve
yielding readily to this usurpationthe Major felt that he was coming
out and shining: and in the flow of spirits thus engenderedrang such
an infinite number of new changes on his own name that he quite
astonished himself. In a wordthey were all very well pleased. The
Major was considered to possess an inexhaustible fund of conversation;
and when he took a late farewellafter a long rubberMr Dombey again
complimented the blushing Miss Tox on her neighbour and acquaintance.

But all the way home to his own hotelthe Major incessantly said
to himselfand of himself'SlySir - slySir - de-vil-ish sly!'
And when he got theresat down in a chairand fell into a silent fit
of laughterwith which he was sometimes seizedand which was always
particularly awful. It held him so long on this occasion that the dark
servantwho stood watching him at a distancebut dared not for his
life approachtwice or thrice gave him over for lost. His whole form
but especially his face and headdilated beyond all former
experience; and presented to the dark man's viewnothing but a
heaving mass of indigo. At length he burst into a violent paroxysm of


coughingand when that was a little better burst into such
ejaculations as the following:

'Would youMa'amwould you? Mrs DombeyehMa'am? I think not
Ma'am. Not while Joe B. can put a spoke in your wheelMa'am. J. B.'s
even with you nowMa'am. He isn't altogether bowled outyetSir
isn't Bagstock. She's deepSirdeepbut Josh is deeper. Wide awake
is old Joe - broad awakeand staringSir!' There was no doubt of
this last assertion being trueand to a very fearful extent; as it
continued to be during the greater part of that nightwhich the Major
chiefly passed in similar exclamationsdiversified with fits of
coughing and choking that startled the whole house.

It was on the day after this occasion (being Sunday) whenas Mr
DombeyMrs Chickand Miss Tox were sitting at breakfaststill
eulogising the MajorFlorence came running in: her face suffused with
a bright colourand her eyes sparkling joyfully: and cried

'Papa! Papa! Here's Walter! and he won't come in.'

'Who?' cried Mr Dombey. 'What does she mean? What is this?'

'WalterPapa!' said Florence timidly; sensible of having
approached the presence with too much familiarity. 'Who found me when
I was lost.'

'Does she mean young GayLouisa?' inquired Mr Dombeyknitting his
brows. 'Reallythis child's manners have become very boisterous. She
cannot mean young GayI think. See what it iswill you?'

Mrs Chick hurried into the passageand returned with the
information that it was young Gayaccompanied by a very
strange-looking person; and that young Gay said he would not take the
liberty of coming inhearing Mr Dombey was at breakfastbut would
wait until Mr Dombey should signify that he might approach.

'Tell the boy to come in now' said Mr Dombey. 'NowGaywhat is
the matter? Who sent you down here? Was there nobody else to come?'

'I beg your pardonSir' returned Walter. 'I have not been sent. I
have been so bold as to come on my own accountwhich I hope you'll
pardon when I mention the cause.

But Mr Dombeywithout attending to what he saidwas looking
impatiently on either side of him (as if he were a pillar in his way)
at some object behind.

'What's that?' said Mr Dombey. 'Who is that? I think you have made
some mistake in the doorSir.'

'OhI'm very sorry to intrude with anyoneSir' cried Walter
hastily: 'but this is - this is Captain CuttleSir.'

'Wal'rmy lad' observed the Captain in a deep voice: 'stand by!'

At the same time the Captaincoming a little further inbrought
out his wide suit of bluehis conspicuous shirt-collarand his
knobby nose in full reliefand stood bowing to Mr Dombeyand waving
his hook politely to the ladieswith the hard glazed hat in his one
handand a red equator round his head which it had newly imprinted
there.

Mr Dombey regarded this phenomenon with amazement and indignation
and seemed by his looks to appeal to Mrs Chick and Miss Tox against


it. Little Paulwho had come in after Florencebacked towards Miss
Tox as the Captain waved his bookand stood on the defensive.

'NowGay' said Mr Dombey. 'What have you got to say to me?'

Again the Captain observedas a general opening of the
conversation that could not fail to propitiate all parties'Wal'r
standby!'

'I am afraidSir' began Waltertremblingand looking down at
the ground'that I take a very great liberty in coming - indeedI am
sure I do. I should hardly have had the courage to ask to see you
Sireven after coming downI am afraidif I had not overtaken Miss
Dombeyand - '

'Well!' said Mr Dombeyfollowing his eyes as he glanced at the
attentive Florenceand frowning unconsciously as she encouraged him
with a smile. 'Go onif you please.'

'Ayay' observed the Captainconsidering it incumbent on himas
a point of good breedingto support Mr Dombey. 'Well said! Go on
Wal'r.'

Captain Cuttle ought to have been withered by the look which Mr
Dombey bestowed upon him in acknowledgment of his patronage. But quite
innocent of thishe closed one eye in replyand gave Mr Dombey to
understandby certain significant motions of his hookthat Walter
was a little bashful at firstand might be expected to come out
shortly.

'It is entirely a private and personal matterthat has brought me
hereSir' continued Walterfaltering'and Captain Cuttle

'Here!' interposed the Captainas an assurance that he was at
handand might be relied upon.

'Who is a very old friend of my poor Uncle'sand a most excellent
manSir' pursued Walterraising his eyes with a look of entreaty in
the Captain's behalf'was so good as to offer to come with mewhich
I could hardly refuse.'

'Nonono;' observed the Captain complacently. 'Of course not. No
call for refusing. Go onWal'r.'

'And thereforeSir' said Walterventuring to meet Mr Dombey's
eyeand proceeding with better courage in the very desperation of the
casenow that there was no avoiding it'therefore I have comewith
himSirto say that my poor old Uncle is in very great affliction
and distress. Thatthrough the gradual loss of his businessand not
being able to make a paymentthe apprehension of which has weighed
very heavily upon his mindmonths and monthsas indeed I knowSir
he has an execution in his houseand is in danger of losing all he
hasand breaking his heart. And that if you wouldin your kindness
and in your old knowledge of him as a respectable mando anything to
help him out of his difficultySirwe never could thank you enough
for it.'

Walter's eyes filled with tears as he spoke; and so did those of
Florence. Her father saw them glisteningthough he appeared to look
at Walter only.

'It is a very large sumSir' said Walter. 'More than three
hundred pounds. My Uncle is quite beaten down by his misfortuneit
lies so heavy on him; and is quite unable to do anything for his own


relief. He doesn't even know yetthat I have come to speak to you.
You would wish me to saySir' added Walterafter a moment's
hesitation'exactly what it is I want. I really don't knowSir.
There is my Uncle's stockon which I believe I may sayconfidently
there are no other demandsand there is Captain Cuttlewho would
wish to be security too. I - I hardly like to mention' said Walter
'such earnings as mine; but if you would allow them - accumulate payment
- advance - Uncle - frugalhonourableold man.' Walter
trailed offthrough these broken sentencesinto silence: and stood
with downcast headbefore his employer.

Considering this a favourable moment for the display of the
valuablesCaptain Cuttle advanced to the table; and clearing a space
among the breakfast-cups at Mr Dombey's elbowproduced the silver
watchthe ready moneythe teaspoonsand the sugar-tongs; and piling
them up into a heap that they might look as precious as possible
delivered himself of these words:

'Half a loaf's better than no breadand the same remark holds good
with crumbs. There's a few. Annuity of one hundred pound premium also
ready to be made over. If there is a man chock full of science in the
worldit's old Sol Gills. If there is a lad of promise - one
flowing' added the Captainin one of his happy quotations'with
milk and honey - it's his nevy!'

The Captain then withdrew to his former placewhere he stood
arranging his scattered locks with the air of a man who had given the
finishing touch to a difficult performance.

When Walter ceased to speakMr Dombey's eyes were attracted to
little Paulwhoseeing his sister hanging down her head and silently
weeping in her commiseration for the distress she had heard described
went over to herand tried to comfort her: looking at Walter and his
father as he did sowith a very expressive face. After the momentary
distraction of Captain Cuttle's addresswhich he regarded with lofty
indifferenceMr Dombey again turned his eyes upon his sonand sat
steadily regarding the childfor some momentsin silence.

'What was this debt contracted for?' asked Mr Dombeyat length.
'Who is the creditor?'

'He don't know' replied the Captainputting his hand on Walter's
shoulder. 'I do. It came of helping a man that's dead nowand that's
cost my friend Gills many a hundred pound already. More particulars in
privateif agreeable.'

'People who have enough to do to hold their own way' said Mr
Dombeyunobservant of the Captain's mysterious signs behind Walter
and still looking at his son'had better be content with their own
obligations and difficultiesand not increase them by engaging for
other men. It is an act of dishonesty and presumptiontoo' said Mr
Dombeysternly; 'great presumption; for the wealthy could do no more.
Paulcome here!'

The child obeyed: and Mr Dombey took him on his knee.

'If you had money now - ' said Mr Dombey. 'Look at me!'

Paulwhose eyes had wandered to his sisterand to Walterlooked
his father in the face.

'If you had money now' said Mr Dombey; 'as much money as young Gay
has talked about; what would you do?'


'Give it to his old Uncle' returned Paul.


'Lend it to his old Uncleeh?' retorted Mr Dombey. 'Well! When you
are old enoughyou knowyou will share my moneyand we shall use it
together.'


'Dombey and Son' interrupted Paulwho had been tutored early in
the phrase.


'Dombey and Son' repeated his father. 'Would you like to begin to
be Dombey and Sonnowand lend this money to young Gay's Uncle?'


'Oh! if you pleasePapa!' said Paul: 'and so would Florence.'


'Girls' said Mr Dombey'have nothing to do with Dombey and Son.
Would you like it?'


'YesPapayes!'


'Then you shall do it' returned his father. 'And you seePaul'
he addeddropping his voice'how powerful money isand how anxious
people are to get it. Young Gay comes all this way to beg for money
and youwho are so grand and greathaving got itare going to let
him have itas a great favour and obligation.'


Paul turned up the old face for a momentin which there was a
sharp understanding of the reference conveyed in these words: but it
was a young and childish face immediately afterwardswhen he slipped
down from his father's kneeand ran to tell Florence not to cry any
morefor he was going to let young Gay have the money.


Mr Dombey then turned to a side-tableand wrote a note and sealed
it. During the intervalPaul and Florence whispered to Walterand
Captain Cuttle beamed on the threewith such aspiring and ineffably
presumptuous thoughts as Mr Dombey never could have believed in. The
note being finishedMr Dombey turned round to his former placeand
held it out to Walter.


'Give that' he said'the first thing to-morrow morningto Mr
Carker. He will immediately take care that one of my people releases
your Uncle from his present positionby paying the amount at issue;
and that such arrangements are made for its repayment as may be
consistent with your Uncle's circumstances. You will consider that
this is done for you by Master Paul.'


Walterin the emotion of holding in his hand the means of
releasing his good Uncle from his troublewould have endeavoured to
express something of his gratitude and joy. But Mr Dombey stopped him
short.


'You will consider that it is done' he repeated'by Master Paul.
I have explained that to himand he understands it. I wish no more to
be said.'


As he motioned towards the doorWalter could only bow his head and
retire. Miss Toxseeing that the Captain appeared about to do the
sameinterposed.


'My dear Sir' she saidaddressing Mr Dombeyat whose munificence
both she and Mrs Chick were shedding tears copiously; 'I think you
have overlooked something. Pardon meMr DombeyI thinkin the
nobility of your characterand its exalted scopeyou have omitted a
matter of detail.'



'IndeedMiss Tox!' said Mr Dombey.

'The gentleman with the - Instrument' pursued Miss Toxglancing
at Captain Cuttle'has left upon the tableat your elbow - '

'Good Heaven!' said Mr Dombeysweeping the Captain's property from
himas if it were so much crumb indeed. 'Take these things away. I am
obliged to youMiss Tox; it is like your usual discretion. Have the
goodness to take these things awaySir!'

Captain Cuttle felt he had no alternative but to comply. But he was
so much struck by the magnanimity of Mr Dombeyin refusing treasures
lying heaped up to his handthat when he had deposited the teaspoons
and sugar-tongs in one pocketand the ready money in anotherand had
lowered the great watch down slowly into its proper vaulthe could
not refrain from seizing that gentleman's right hand in his own
solitary leftand while he held it open with his powerful fingers
bringing the hook down upon its palm in a transport of admiration. At
this touch of warm feeling and cold ironMr Dombey shivered all over.

Captain Cuttle then kissed his hook to the ladies several times
with great elegance and gallantry; and having taken a particular leave
of Paul and Florenceaccompanied Walter out of the room. Florence was
running after them in the earnestness of her heartto send some
message to old Solwhen Mr Dombey called her backand bade her stay
where she was.

'Will you never be a Dombeymy dear child!' said Mrs Chickwith
pathetic reproachfulness.

'Dear aunt' said Florence. 'Don't be angry with me. I am so
thankful to Papa!'

She would have run and thrown her arms about his neck if she had
dared; but as she did not dareshe glanced with thankful eyes towards
himas he sat musing; sometimes bestowing an uneasy glance on her
butfor the most partwatching Paulwho walked about the room with
the new-blown dignity of having let young Gay have the money.

And young Gay - Walter- what of him?

He was overjoyed to purge the old man's hearth from bailiffs and
brokersand to hurry back to his Uncle with the good tidings. He was
overjoyed to have it all arranged and settled next day before noon;
and to sit down at evening in the little back parlour with old Sol and
Captain Cuttle; and to see the Instrument-maker already revivingand
hopeful for the futureand feeling that the wooden Midshipman was his
own again. But without the least impeachment of his gratitude to Mr
Dombeyit must be confessed that Walter was humbled and cast down. It
is when our budding hopes are nipped beyond recovery by some rough
windthat we are the most disposed to picture to ourselves what
flowers they might have borneif they had flourished; and nowwhen
Walter found himself cut off from that great Dombey heightby the
depth of a new and terrible tumbleand felt that all his old wild
fancies had been scattered to the winds in the fallhe began to
suspect that they might have led him on to harmless visions of
aspiring to Florence in the remote distance of time.

The Captain viewed the subject in quite a different light. He
appeared to entertain a belief that the interview at which he had
assisted was so very satisfactory and encouragingas to be only a
step or two removed from a regular betrothal of Florence to Walter;
and that the late transaction had immensely forwardedif not
thoroughly establishedthe Whittingtonian hopes. Stimulated by this


convictionand by the improvement in the spirits of his old friend
and by his own consequent gaietyhe even attemptedin favouring them
with the ballad of 'Lovely Peg' for the third time in one eveningto
make an extemporaneous substitution of the name 'Florence;' but
finding this difficulton account of the word Peg invariably rhyming
to leg (in which personal beauty the original was described as having
excelled all competitors)he hit upon the happy thought of changing
it to Fle-e-eg; which he accordingly didwith an archness almost
supernaturaland a voice quite vociferousnotwithstanding that the
time was close at band when he must seek the abode of the dreadful Mrs
MacStinger.

That same evening the Major was diffuse at his clubon the subject
of his friend Dombey in the City. 'DammeSir' said the Major'he's
a princeis my friend Dombey in the City. I tell you whatSir. If
you had a few more men among you like old Joe Bagstock and my friend
Dombey in the CitySiryou'd do!'

CHAPTER 11.

Paul's Introduction to a New Scene

Mrs Pipchin's constitution was made of such hard metalin spite of
its liability to the fleshly weaknesses of standing in need of repose
after chopsand of requiring to be coaxed to sleep by the soporific
agency of sweet-breadsthat it utterly set at naught the predictions
of Mrs Wickamand showed no symptoms of decline. Yetas Paul's rapt
interest in the old lady continued unbatedMrs Wickam would not budge
an inch from the position she had taken up. Fortifying and entrenching
herself on the strong ground of her Uncle's Betsey Janeshe advised
Miss Berryas a friendto prepare herself for the worst; and
forewarned her that her aunt mightat any timebe expected to go off
suddenlylike a powder-mill.

'I hopeMiss Berry' Mrs Wickam would observe'that you'll come
into whatever little property there may be to leave. You deserve itI
am surefor yours is a trying life. Though there don't seem much
worth coming into - you'll excuse my being so open - in this dismal
den.'

Poor Berry took it all in good partand drudged and slaved away as
usual; perfectly convinced that Mrs Pipchin was one of the most
meritorious persons in the worldand making every day innumerable
sacrifices of herself upon the altar of that noble old woman. But all
these immolations of Berry were somehow carried to the credit of Mrs
Pipchin by Mrs Pipchin's friends and admirers; and were made to
harmonise withand carry outthat melancholy fact of the deceased Mr
Pipchin having broken his heart in the Peruvian mines.

For examplethere was an honest grocer and general dealer in the
retail line of businessbetween whom and Mrs Pipchin there was a
small memorandum bookwith a greasy red coverperpetually in
questionand concerning which divers secret councils and conferences
were continually being held between the parties to that registeron
the mat in the passageand with closed doors in the parlour. Nor were
there wanting dark hints from Master Bitherstone (whose temper had
been made revengeful by the solar heats of India acting on his blood)
of balances unsettledand of a failureon one occasion within his
memoryin the supply of moist sugar at tea-time. This grocer being a
bachelor and not a man who looked upon the surface for beautyhad


once made honourable offers for the hand of Berrywhich Mrs Pipchin
hadwith contumely and scornrejected. Everybody said how laudable
this was in Mrs Pipchinrelict of a man who had died of the Peruvian
mines; and what a staunchhighindependent spirit the old lady had.
But nobody said anything about poor Berrywho cried for six weeks
(being soundly rated by her good aunt all the time)and lapsed into a
state of hopeless spinsterhood.

'Berry's very fond of youain't she?' Paul once asked Mrs Pipchin
when they were sitting by the fire with the cat.

'Yes' said Mrs Pipchin.

'Why?' asked Paul.

'Why!' returned the disconcerted old lady. 'How can you ask such
thingsSir! why are you fond of your sister Florence?'

'Because she's very good' said Paul. 'There's nobody like
Florence.'

'Well!' retorted Mrs Pipchinshortly'and there's nobody like me
I suppose.'

'Ain't there really though?' asked Paulleaning forward in his
chairand looking at her very hard.

'No' said the old lady.

'I am glad of that' observed Paulrubbing his hands thoughtfully.
'That's a very good thing.'

Mrs Pipchin didn't dare to ask him whylest she should receive
some perfectly annihilating answer. But as a compensation to her
wounded feelingsshe harassed Master Bitherstone to that extent until
bed-timethat he began that very night to make arrangements for an
overland return to Indiaby secreting from his supper a quarter of a
round of bread and a fragment of moist Dutch cheeseas the beginning
of a stock of provision to support him on the voyage.

Mrs Pipchin had kept watch and ward over little Paul and his sister
for nearly twelve months. They had been home twicebut only for a few
days; and had been constant in their weekly visits to Mr Dombey at the
hotel. By little and little Paul had grown strongerand had become
able to dispense with his carriage; though he still looked thin and
delicate; and still remained the same oldquietdreamy child that he
had been when first consigned to Mrs Pipchin's care. One Saturday
afternoonat duskgreat consternation was occasioned in the Castle
by the unlooked-for announcement of Mr Dombey as a visitor to Mrs
Pipchin. The population of the parlour was immediately swept upstairs
as on the wings of a whirlwindand after much slamming of bedroom
doorsand trampling overheadand some knocking about of Master
Bitherstone by Mrs Pipchinas a relief to the perturbation of her
spiritsthe black bombazeen garments of the worthy old lady darkened
the audience-chamber where Mr Dombey was contemplating the vacant
arm-chair of his son and heir.

'Mrs Pipchin' said Mr Dombey'How do you do?'

'Thank youSir' said Mrs Pipchin'I am pretty well
considering.'

Mrs Pipchin always used that form of words. It meantconsidering
her virtuessacrificesand so forth.


'I can't expectSirto be very well' said Mrs Pipchintaking a
chair and fetching her breath; 'but such health as I haveI am
grateful for.'

Mr Dombey inclined his head with the satisfied air of a patronwho
felt that this was the sort of thing for which he paid so much a
quarter. After a moment's silence he went on to say:

'Mrs PipchinI have taken the liberty of callingto consult you
in reference to my son. I have had it in my mind to do so for some
time past; but have deferred it from time to timein order that his
health might be thoroughly re-established. You have no misgivings on
that subjectMrs Pipchin?'

'Brighton has proved very beneficialSir' returned Mrs Pipchin.
'Very beneficialindeed.'

'I purpose' said Mr Dombey'his remaining at Brighton.'

Mrs Pipchin rubbed her handsand bent her grey eyes on the fire.

'But' pursued Mr Dombeystretching out his forefinger'but
possibly that he should now make a changeand lead a different kind
of life here. In shortMrs Pipchinthat is the object of my visit.
My son is getting onMrs Pipchin. Reallyhe is getting on.'

There was something melancholy in the triumphant air with which Mr
Dombey said this. It showed how long Paul's childish life had been to
himand how his hopes were set upon a later stage of his existence.
Pity may appear a strange word to connect with anyone so haughty and
so coldand yet he seemed a worthy subject for it at that moment.

'Six years old!' said Mr Dombeysettling his neckcloth - perhaps
to hide an irrepressible smile that rather seemed to strike upon the
surface of his face and glance awayas finding no resting-placethan
to play there for an instant. 'Dear mesix will be changed to
sixteenbefore we have time to look about us.'

'Ten years' croaked the unsympathetic Pipchinwith a frosty
glistening of her hard grey eyeand a dreary shaking of her bent
head'is a long time.'

'It depends on circumstancesreturned Mr Dombey; 'at all events
Mrs Pipchinmy son is six years oldand there is no doubtI fear
that in his studies he is behind many children of his age - or his
youth' said Mr Dombeyquickly answering what he mistrusted was a
shrewd twinkle of the frosty eye'his youth is a more appropriate
expression. NowMrs Pipchininstead of being behind his peersmy
son ought to be before them; far before them. There is an eminence
ready for him to mount upon. There is nothing of chance or doubt in
the course before my son. His way in life was clear and preparedand
marked out before he existed. The education of such a young gentleman
must not be delayed. It must not be left imperfect. It must be very
steadily and seriously undertakenMrs Pipchin.'

'WellSir' said Mrs Pipchin'I can say nothing to the contrary.'

'I was quite sureMrs Pipchin' returned Mr Dombeyapprovingly
'that a person of your good sense could notand would not.'

'There is a great deal of nonsense - and worse - talked about young
people not being pressed too hard at firstand being tempted onand
all the rest of itSir' said Mrs Pipchinimpatiently rubbing her


hooked nose. 'It never was thought of in my timeand it has no
business to be thought of now. My opinion is "keep 'em at it".'

'My good madam' returned Mr Dombey'you have not acquired your
reputation undeservedly; and I beg you to believeMrs Pipchinthat I
am more than satisfied with your excellent system of managementand
shall have the greatest pleasure in commending it whenever my poor
commendation - ' Mr Dombey's loftiness when he affected to disparage
his own importancepassed all bounds - 'can be of any service. I have
been thinking of Doctor Blimber'sMrs Pipchin.'

'My neighbourSir?' said Mrs Pipchin. 'I believe the Doctor's is
an excellent establishment. I've heard that it's very strictly
conductedand there is nothing but learning going on from morning to
night.'

'And it's very expensive' added Mr Dombey.

'And it's very expensiveSir' returned Mrs Pipchincatching at
the factas if in omitting thatshe had omitted one of its leading
merits.

'I have had some communication with the DoctorMrs Pipchin' said
Mr Dombeyhitching his chair anxiously a little nearer to the fire
'and he does not consider Paul at all too young for his purpose. He
mentioned several instances of boys in Greek at about the same age. If
I have any little uneasiness in my own mindMrs Pipchinon the
subject of this changeit is not on that head. My son not having
known a mother has gradually concentrated much - too much - of his
childish affection on his sister. Whether their separation - ' Mr
Dombey said no morebut sat silent.

'Hoity-toity!' exclaimed Mrs Pipchinshaking out her black
bombazeen skirtsand plucking up all the ogress within her. 'If she
don't like itMr Dombeyshe must be taught to lump it.' The good
lady apologised immediately afterwards for using so common a figure of
speechbut said (and truly) that that was the way she reasoned with
'em.

Mr Dombey waited until Mrs Pipchin had done bridling and shaking
her headand frowning down a legion of Bitherstones and Pankeys; and
then said quietlybut correctively'Hemy good madamhe.'

Mrs Pipchin's system would have applied very much the same mode of
cure to any uneasiness on the part of Paultoo; but as the hard grey
eye was sharp enough to see that the recipehowever Mr Dombey might
admit its efficacy in the case of the daughterwas not a sovereign
remedy for the sonshe argued the point; and contended that change
and new societyand the different form of life he would lead at
Doctor Blimber'sand the studies he would have to masterwould very
soon prove sufficient alienations. As this chimed in with Mr Dombey's
own hope and beliefit gave that gentleman a still higher opinion of
Mrs Pipchin's understanding; and as Mrs Pipchinat the same time
bewailed the loss of her dear little friend (which was not an
overwhelming shock to heras she had long expected itand had not
lookedin the beginningfor his remaining with her longer than three
months)he formed an equally good opinion of Mrs Pipchin's
disinterestedness. It was plain that he had given the subject anxious
considerationfor he had formed a planwhich he announced to the
ogressof sending Paul to the Doctor's as a weekly boarder for the
first half yearduring which time Florence would remain at the
Castlethat she might receive her brother thereon Saturdays. This
would wean him by degreesMr Dombey said; possibly with a
recollection of his not having been weaned by degrees on a former


occasion.

Mr Dombey finished the interview by expressing his hope that Mrs
Pipchin would still remain in office as general superintendent and
overseer of his sonpending his studies at Brighton; and having
kissed Pauland shaken hands with Florenceand beheld Master
Bitherstone in his collar of stateand made Miss Pankey cry by
patting her on the head (in which region she was uncommonly tenderon
account of a habit Mrs Pipchin had of sounding it with her knuckles
like a cask)he withdrew to his hotel and dinner: resolved that Paul
now that he was getting so old and wellshould begin a vigorous
course of education forthwithto qualify him for the position in
which he was to shine; and that Doctor Blimber should take him in hand
immediately.

Whenever a young gentleman was taken in hand by Doctor Blimberhe
might consider himself sure of a pretty tight squeeze. The Doctor only
undertook the charge of ten young gentlemenbut he hadalways ready
a supply of learning for a hundredon the lowest estimate; and it was
at once the business and delight of his life to gorge the unhappy ten
with it.

In factDoctor Blimber's establishment was a great hot-housein
which there was a forcing apparatus incessantly at work. All the boys
blew before their time. Mental green-peas were produced at Christmas
and intellectual asparagus all the year round. Mathematical
gooseberries (very sour ones too) were common at untimely seasonsand
from mere sprouts of bushesunder Doctor Blimber's cultivation. Every
description of Greek and Latin vegetable was got off the driest twigs
of boysunder the frostiest circumstances. Nature was of no
consequence at all. No matter what a young gentleman was intended to
bearDoctor Blimber made him bear to patternsomehow or other.

This was all very pleasant and ingeniousbut the system of forcing
was attended with its usual disadvantages. There was not the right
taste about the premature productionsand they didn't keep well.
Moreoverone young gentlemanwith a swollen nose and an excessively
large head (the oldest of the ten who had 'gone through' everything)
suddenly left off blowing one dayand remained in the establishment a
mere stalk. And people did say that the Doctor had rather overdone it
with young Tootsand that when he began to have whiskers he left off
having brains.

There young Toots wasat any rate; possessed of the gruffest of
voices and the shrillest of minds; sticking ornamental pins into his
shirtand keeping a ring in his waistcoat pocket to put on his little
finger by stealthwhen the pupils went out walking; constantly
falling in love by sight with nurserymaidswho had no idea of his
existence; and looking at the gas-lighted world over the little iron
bars in the left-hand corner window of the front three pairs of
stairsafter bed-timelike a greatly overgrown cherub who had sat up
aloft much too long.

The Doctor was a portly gentleman in a suit of blackwith strings
at his kneesand stockings below them. He had a bald headhighly
polished; a deep voice; and a chin so very doublethat it was a
wonder how he ever managed to shave into the creases. He had likewise
a pair of little eyes that were always half shut upand a mouth that
was always half expanded into a grinas if he hadthat momentposed
a boyand were waiting to convict him from his own lips. Insomuch
that when the Doctor put his right hand into the breast of his coat
and with his other hand behind himand a scarcely perceptible wag of his
headmade the commonest observation to a nervous strangerit was
like a sentiment from the sphynxand settled his business.


The Doctor's was a mighty fine housefronting the sea. Not a
joyful style of house withinbut quite the contrary. Sad-coloured
curtainswhose proportions were spare and leanhid themselves
despondently behind the windows. The tables and chairs were put away
in rowslike figures in a sum; fires were so rarely lighted in the
rooms of ceremonythat they felt like wellsand a visitor
represented the bucket; the dining-room seemed the last place in the
world where any eating or drinking was likely to occur; there was no
sound through all the house but the ticking of a great clock in the
hallwhich made itself audible in the very garrets; and sometimes a
dull cooing of young gentlemen at their lessonslike the murmurings
of an assemblage of melancholy pigeons.

Miss Blimbertooalthough a slim and graceful maiddid no soft
violence to the gravity of the house. There was no light nonsense
about Miss Blimber. She kept her hair short and crispand wore
spectacles. She was dry and sandy with working in the graves of
deceased languages. None of your live languages for Miss Blimber. They
must be dead - stone dead - and then Miss Blimber dug them up like a
Ghoul.

Mrs Blimberher Mamawas not learned herselfbut she pretended
to beand that did quite as well. She said at evening partiesthat
if she could have known Ciceroshe thought she could have died
contented. It was the steady joy of her life to see the Doctor's young
gentlemen go out walkingunlike all other young gentlemenin the
largest possible shirt-collarsand the stiffest possible cravats. It
was so classicalshe said.

As to Mr FeederB.A.Doctor Blimber's assistanthe was a kind of
human barrel-organwith a little list of tunes at which he was
continually workingover and over againwithout any variation. He
might have been fitted up with a change of barrelsperhapsin early
lifeif his destiny had been favourable; but it had not been; and he
had only onewith whichin a monotonous roundit was his occupation
to bewilder the young ideas of Doctor Blimber's young gentlemen. The
young gentlemen were prematurely full of carking anxieties. They knew
no rest from the pursuit of stony-hearted verbssavage
noun-substantivesinflexible syntactic passagesand ghosts of
exercises that appeared to them in their dreams. Under the forcing
systema young gentleman usually took leave of his spirits in three
weeks. He had all the cares of the world on his head in three months.
He conceived bitter sentiments against his parents or guardians in
four; he was an old misanthropein five; envied Curtius that blessed
refuge in the earthin six; and at the end of the first twelvemonth
had arrived at the conclusionfrom which he never afterwards
departedthat all the fancies of the poetsand lessons of the sages
were a mere collection of words and grammarand had no other meaning
in the world.

But he went on blowblowblowingin the Doctor's hothouseall
the time; and the Doctor's glory and reputation were greatwhen he
took his wintry growth home to his relations and friends.

Upon the Doctor's door-steps one dayPaul stood with a fluttering
heartand with his small right hand in his father's. His other hand
was locked in that of Florence. How tight the tiny pressure of that
one; and how loose and cold the other!

Mrs Pipchin hovered behind the victimwith her sable plumage and
her hooked beaklike a bird of ill-omen. She was out of breath - for
Mr Dombeyfull of great thoughtshad walked fast - and she croaked
hoarsely as she waited for the opening of the door.


'NowPaul' said Mr Dombeyexultingly. 'This is the way indeed to
be Dombey and Sonand have money. You are almost a man already.'

'Almost' returned the child.

Even his childish agitation could not master the sly and quaint yet
touching lookwith which he accompanied the reply.

It brought a vague expression of dissatisfaction into Mr Dombey's
face; but the door being openedit was quickly gone

'Doctor Blimber is at homeI believe?' said Mr Dombey.

The man said yes; and as they passed inlooked at Paul as if he
were a little mouseand the house were a trap. He was a weak-eyed
young manwith the first faint streaks or early dawn of a grin on his
countenance. It was mere imbecility; but Mrs Pipchin took it into her
head that it was impudenceand made a snap at him directly.

'How dare you laugh behind the gentleman's back?' said Mrs Pipchin.
'And what do you take me for?'

'I ain't a laughing at nobodyand I'm sure I don't take you for
nothingMa'am' returned the young manin consternation.

'A pack of idle dogs!' said Mrs Pipchin'only fit to be turnspits.
Go and tell your master that Mr Dombey's hereor it'll be worse for
you!'

The weak-eyed young man wentvery meeklyto discharge himself of
this commission; and soon came back to invite them to the Doctor's
study.

'You're laughing againSir' said Mrs Pipchinwhen it came to her
turnbringing up the rearto pass him in the hall.

'I ain't' returned the young mangrievously oppressed. 'I never
see such a thing as this!'

'What is the matterMrs Pipchin?' said Mr Dombeylooking round.
'Softly! Pray!'

Mrs Pipchinin her deferencemerely muttered at the young man as
she passed onand said'Oh! he was a precious fellow' - leaving the
young manwho was all meekness and incapacityaffected even to tears
by the incident. But Mrs Pipchin had a way of falling foul of all meek
people; and her friends said who could wonder at itafter the
Peruvian mines!

The Doctor was sitting in his portentous studywith a globe at
each kneebooks all round himHomer over the doorand Minerva on
the mantel-shelf. 'And how do you doSir?' he said to Mr Dombey'and
how is my little friend?' Grave as an organ was the Doctor's speech;
and when he ceasedthe great clock in the hall seemed (to Paul at
least) to take him upand to go on saying'howismylittle
friend? howismylittlefriend?' over and over and over again.

The little friend being something too small to be seen at all from
where the Doctor satover the books on his tablethe Doctor made
several futile attempts to get a view of him round the legs; which Mr
Dombey perceivingrelieved the Doctor from his embarrassment by
taking Paul up in his armsand sitting him on another little table
over against the Doctorin the middle of the room.


'Ha!' said the Doctorleaning back in his chair with his hand in
his breast. 'Now I see my little friend. How do you domy little
friend?'

The clock in the hall wouldn't subscribe to this alteration in the
form of wordsbut continued to repeat howismylittlefriend?
howismylittlefriend?'

'Very wellI thank youSir' returned Paulanswering the clock
quite as much as the Doctor.

'Ha!' said Doctor Blimber. 'Shall we make a man of him?'

'Do you hearPaul?' added Mr Dombey; Paul being silent.

'Shall we make a man of him?' repeated the Doctor.

'I had rather be a child' replied Paul.

'Indeed!' said the Doctor. 'Why?'

The child sat on the table looking at himwith a curious
expression of suppressed emotion in his faceand beating one hand
proudly on his knee as if he had the rising tears beneath itand
crushed them. But his other hand strayed a little way the whilea
little farther - farther from him yet - until it lighted on the neck
of Florence. 'This is why' it seemed to sayand then the steady look
was broken up and gone; the working lip was loosened; and the tears
came streaming forth.

'Mrs Pipchin' said his fatherin a querulous manner'I am really
very sorry to see this.'

'Come away from himdoMiss Dombey' quoth the matron.

'Never mind' said the Doctorblandly nodding his headto keep
Mrs Pipchin back. 'Never mind; we shall substitute new cares and new
impressionsMr Dombeyvery shortly. You would still wish my little
friend to acquire - '

'Everythingif you pleaseDoctor' returned Mr Dombeyfirmly.

'Yes' said the Doctorwhowith his half-shut eyesand his usual
smileseemed to survey Paul with the sort of interest that might
attach to some choice little animal he was going to stuff. 'Yes
exactly. Ha! We shall impart a great variety of information to our
little friendand bring him quickly forwardI daresay. I daresay.
Quite a virgin soilI believe you saidMr Dombey?'

'Except some ordinary preparation at homeand from this lady'
replied Mr Dombeyintroducing Mrs Pipchinwho instantly communicated
a rigidity to her whole muscular systemand snorted defiance
beforehandin case the Doctor should disparage her; 'except so far
Paul hasas yetapplied himself to no studies at all.'

Doctor Blimber inclined his headin gentle tolerance of such
insignificant poaching as Mrs Pipchin'sand said he was glad to hear
it. It was much more satisfactoryhe observedrubbing his handsto
begin at the foundation. And again he leered at Paulas if he would
have liked to tackle him with the Greek alphabeton the spot.

'That circumstanceindeedDoctor Blimber' pursued Mr Dombey
glancing at his little son'and the interview I have already had the


pleasure of holding with yourenders any further explanationand
consequentlyany further intrusion on your valuable timeso
unnecessarythat - '

'NowMiss Dombey!' said the acid Pipchin.

'Permit me' said the Doctor'one moment. Allow me to present Mrs
Blimber and my daughter; who will be associated with the domestic life
of our young Pilgrim to Parnassus Mrs Blimber' for the ladywho had
perhaps been in waitingopportunely enteredfollowed by her
daughterthat fair Sexton in spectacles'Mr Dombey. My daughter
CorneliaMr Dombey. Mr Dombeymy love' pursued the Doctorturning
to his wife'is so confiding as to - do you see our little friend?'

Mrs Blimberin an excess of politenessof which Mr Dombey was the
objectapparently did notfor she was backing against the little
friendand very much endangering his position on the table. Buton
this hintshe turned to admire his classical and intellectual
lineamentsand turning again to Mr Dombeysaidwith a sighthat
she envied his dear son.

'Like a beeSir' said Mrs Blimberwith uplifted eyes'about to
plunge into a garden of the choicest flowersand sip the sweets for
the first time VirgilHoraceOvidTerencePlautusCicero. What a
world of honey have we here. It may appear remarkableMr Dombeyin
one who is a wife - the wife of such a husband - '

'Hushhush' said Doctor Blimber. 'Fie for shame.'

'Mr Dombey will forgive the partiality of a wife' said Mrs
Blimberwith an engaging smile.

Mr Dombey answered 'Not at all:' applying those wordsit is to be
presumedto the partialityand not to the forgiveness.

'And it may seem remarkable in one who is a mother also' resumed
Mrs Blimber.

'And such a mother' observed Mr Dombeybowing with some confused
idea of being complimentary to Cornelia.

'But really' pursued Mrs Blimber'I think if I could have known
Ciceroand been his friendand talked with him in his retirement at
Tusculum (beau-ti-ful Tusculum!)I could have died contented.'

A learned enthusiasm is so very contagiousthat Mr Dombey half
believed this was exactly his case; and even Mrs Pipchinwho was not
as we have seenof an accommodating disposition generallygave
utterance to a little sound between a groan and a sighas if she
would have said that nobody but Cicero could have proved a lasting
consolation under that failure of the Peruvian MInesbut that he
indeed would have been a very Davy-lamp of refuge.

Cornelia looked at Mr Dombey through her spectaclesas if she
would have liked to crack a few quotations with him from the authority
in question. But this designif she entertained itwas frustrated by
a knock at the room-door.

'Who is that?' said the Doctor. 'Oh! Come inToots; come in. Mr
DombeySir.' Toots bowed. 'Quite a coincidence!' said Doctor Blimber.
'Here we have the beginning and the end. Alpha and Omega Our head boy
Mr Dombey.'

The Doctor might have called him their head and shoulders boyfor


he was at least that much taller than any of the rest. He blushed very
much at finding himself among strangersand chuckled aloud.

'An addition to our little PorticoToots' said the Doctor; 'Mr
Dombey's son.'

Young Toots blushed again; and findingfrom a solemn silence which
prevailedthat he was expected to say somethingsaid to Paul'How
are you?' in a voice so deepand a manner so sheepishthat if a lamb
had roared it couldn't have been more surprising.

'Ask Mr Feederif you pleaseToots' said the Doctor'to prepare
a few introductory volumes for Mr Dombey's sonand to allot him a
convenient seat for study. My dearI believe Mr Dombey has not seen
the dormitories.'

'If Mr Dombey will walk upstairs' said Mrs Blimber'I shall be
more than proud to show him the dominions of the drowsy god.'

With thatMrs Blimberwho was a lady of great suavityand a wiry
figureand who wore a cap composed of sky-blue materialspied
upstairs with Mr Dombey and Cornelia; Mrs Pipchin followingand
looking out sharp for her enemy the footman.

While they were gonePaul sat upon the tableholding Florence by
the handand glancing timidly from the Doctor round and round the
roomwhile the Doctorleaning back in his chairwith his hand in
his breast as usualheld a book from him at arm's lengthand read.
There was something very awful in this manner of reading. It was such
a determinedunimpassionedinflexiblecold-blooded way of going to
work. It left the Doctor's countenance exposed to view; and when the
Doctor smiled suspiciously at his authoror knit his browsor shook
his head and made wry faces at himas much as to say'Don't tell me
Sir; I know better' it was terrific.

Tootstoohad no business to be outside the doorostentatiously
examining the wheels in his watchand counting his half-crowns. But
that didn't last long; for Doctor Blimberhappening to change the
position of his tight plump legsas if he were going to get upToots
swiftly vanishedand appeared no more.

Mr Dombey and his conductress were soon heard coming downstairs
againtalking all the way; and presently they re-entered the Doctor's
study.

'I hopeMr Dombey' said the Doctorlaying down his book'that
the arrangements meet your approval.'

'They are excellentSir' said Mr Dombey.

'Very fairindeed' said Mrs Pipchinin a low voice; never
disposed to give too much encouragement.

'Mrs Pipchin' said Mr Dombeywheeling round'willwith your
permissionDoctor and Mrs Blimbervisit Paul now and then.'

'Whenever Mrs Pipchin pleases' observed the Doctor.

'Always happy to see her' said Mrs Blimber.

'I think' said Mr Dombey'I have given all the trouble I need
and may take my leave. Paulmy child' he went close to himas he
sat upon the table. 'Good-bye.'


'Good-byePapa.'

The limp and careless little hand that Mr Dombey took in hiswas
singularly out of keeping with the wistful face. But he had no part in
its sorrowful expression. It was not addressed to him. Nono. To
Florence - all to Florence.

If Mr Dombey in his insolence of wealthhad ever made an enemy
hard to appease and cruelly vindictive in his hateeven such an enemy
might have received the pang that wrung his proud heart thenas
compensation for his injury.

He bent downover his boyand kissed him. If his sight were
dimmed as he did soby something that for a moment blurred the little
faceand made it indistinct to himhis mental vision may have been
for that short timethe clearer perhaps.

'I shall see you soonPaul. You are free on Saturdays and Sundays
you know.'

'YesPapa' returned Paul: looking at his sister. 'On Saturdays
and Sundays.'

'And you'll try and learn a great deal hereand be a clever man'
said Mr Dombey; 'won't you?'

'I'll try' returned the childwearily.

'And you'll soon be grown up now!' said Mr Dombey.

'Oh! very soon!' replied the child. Once more the oldold look
passed rapidly across his features like a strange light. It fell on
Mrs Pipchinand extinguished itself in her black dress. That
excellent ogress stepped forward to take leave and to bear off
Florencewhich she had long been thirsting to do. The move on her
part roused Mr Dombeywhose eyes were fixed on Paul. After patting
him on the headand pressing his small hand againhe took leave of
Doctor BlimberMrs Blimberand Miss Blimberwith his usual polite
frigidityand walked out of the study.

Despite his entreaty that they would not think of stirringDoctor
BlimberMrs Blimberand Miss Blimber all pressed forward to attend
him to the hall; and thus Mrs Pipchin got into a state of entanglement
with Miss Blimber and the Doctorand was crowded out of the study
before she could clutch Florence. To which happy accident Paul stood
afterwards indebted for the dear remembrancethat Florence ran back
to throw her arms round his neckand that hers was the last face in
the doorway: turned towards him with a smile of encouragementthe
brighter for the tears through which it beamed.

It made his childish bosom heave and swell when it was gone; and
sent the globesthe booksblind Homer and Minervaswimming round
the room. But they stoppedall of a sudden; and then he heard the
loud clock in the hall still gravely inquiring 'howismylittle
friend? howismylittlefriend?' as it had done before.

He satwith folded handsupon his pedestalsilently listening.
But he might have answered 'wearyweary! very lonelyvery sad!' And
therewith an aching void in his young heartand all outside so
coldand bareand strangePaul sat as if he had taken life
unfurnishedand the upholsterer were never coming.


CHAPTER 12.

Paul's Education

After the lapse of some minuteswhich appeared an immense time to
little Paul Dombey on the tableDoctor Blimber came back. The
Doctor's walk was statelyand calculated to impress the juvenile mind
with solemn feelings. It was a sort of march; but when the Doctor put
out his right foothe gravely turned upon his axiswith a
semi-circular sweep towards the left; and when he put out his left
foothe turned in the same manner towards the right. So that he
seemedat every stride he tookto look about him as though he were
saying'Can anybody have the goodness to indicate any subjectin any
directionon which I am uninformed? I rather think not'

Mrs Blimber and Miss Blimber came back in the Doctor's company; and
the Doctorlifting his new pupil off the tabledelivered him over to
Miss Blimber.

'Cornelia' said the Doctor'Dombey will be your charge at first.
Bring him onCorneliabring him on.'

Miss Blimber received her young ward from the Doctor's hands; and
Paulfeeling that the spectacles were surveying himcast down his
eyes.

'How old are youDombey?' said Miss Blimber.

'Six' answered Paulwonderingas he stole a glance at the young
ladywhy her hair didn't grow long like Florence'sand why she was
like a boy.

'How much do you know of your Latin GrammarDombey?' said Miss
Blimber.

'None of it' answered Paul. Feeling that the answer was a shock to
Miss Blimber's sensibilityhe looked up at the three faces that were
looking down at himand said:

'I have'n't been well. I have been a weak child. I couldn't learn a
Latin Grammar when I was outevery daywith old Glubb. I wish you'd
tell old Glubb to come and see meif you please.'

'What a dreadfully low name' said Mrs Blimber. 'Unclassical to a
degree! Who is the monsterchild?'

'What monster?' inquired Paul.

'Glubb' said Mrs Blimberwith a great disrelish.

'He's no more a monster than you are' returned Paul.

'What!' cried the Doctorin a terrible voice. 'Ayayay? Aha!
What's that?'

Paul was dreadfully frightened; but still he made a stand for the
absent Glubbthough he did it trembling.

'He's a very nice old manMa'am' he said. 'He used to draw my
couch. He knows all about the deep seaand the fish that are in it
and the great monsters that come and lie on rocks in the sunand dive
into the water again when they're startledblowing and splashing so


that they can be heard for miles. There are some creaturessaid Paul
warming with his subject'I don't know how many yards longand I
forget their namesbut Florence knowsthat pretend to be in
distress; and when a man goes near themout of compassionthey open
their great jawsand attack him. But all he has got to do' said
Paulboldly tendering this information to the very Doctor himself
'is to keep on turning as he runs awayand thenas they turn slowly
because they are so longand can't bendhe's sure to beat them. And
though old Glubb don't know why the sea should make me think of my
Mama that's deador what it is that it is always saying - always
saying! he knows a great deal about it. And I wish' the child
concludedwith a sudden falling of his countenanceand failing in
his animationas he looked like one forlornupon the three strange
faces'that you'd let old Glubb come here to see mefor I know him
very welland he knows me.

'Ha!' said the Doctorshaking his head; 'this is badbut study
will do much.'

Mrs Blimber opinedwith something like a shiverthat he was an
unaccountable child; andallowing for the difference of visage
looked at him pretty much as Mrs Pipchin had been used to do.

'Take him round the houseCornelia' said the Doctor'and
familiarise him with his new sphere. Go with that young ladyDombey.'

Dombey obeyed; giving his hand to the abstruse Corneliaand
looking at her sidewayswith timid curiosityas they went away
together. For her spectaclesby reason of the glistening of the
glassesmade her so mysteriousthat he didn't know where she was
lookingand was not indeed quite sure that she had any eyes at all
behind them.

Cornelia took him first to the schoolroomwhich was situated at
the back of the halland was approached through two baize doors
which deadened and muffled the young gentlemen's voices. Herethere
were eight young gentlemen in various stages of mental prostration
all very hard at workand very grave indeed. Tootsas an old hand
had a desk to himself in one corner: and a magnificent manof immense
agehe lookedin Paul's young eyesbehind it.

Mr FeederB.A.who sat at another little deskhad his Virgil
stop onand was slowly grinding that tune to four young gentlemen. Of
the remaining fourtwowho grasped their foreheads convulsively
were engaged in solving mathematical problems; one with his face like
a dirty windowfrom much cryingwas endeavouring to flounder through
a hopeless number of lines before dinner; and one sat looking at his
task in stony stupefaction and despair - which it seemed had been his
condition ever since breakfast time.

The appearance of a new boy did not create the sensation that might
have been expected. Mr FeederB.A. (who was in the habit of shaving
his head for coolnessand had nothing but little bristles on it)
gave him a bony handand told him he was glad to see him - which Paul
would have been very glad to have told himif he could have done so
with the least sincerity. Then Paulinstructed by Corneliashook
hands with the four young gentlemen at Mr Feeder's desk; then with the
two young gentlemen at work on the problemswho were very feverish;
then with the young gentleman at work against timewho was very inky;
and lastly with the young gentleman in a state of stupefactionwho
was flabby and quite cold.

Paul having been already introduced to Tootsthat pupil merely
chuckled and breathed hardas his custom wasand pursued the


occupation in which he was engaged. It was not a severe one; for on
account of his having 'gone through' so much (in more senses than
one)and also of his havingas before hintedleft off blowing in
his primeToots now had licence to pursue his own course of study:
which was chiefly to write long letters to himself from persons of
distinctionadds 'P. TootsEsquireBrightonSussex' and to
preserve them in his desk with great care.

These ceremonies passedCornelia led Paul upstairs to the top of
the house; which was rather a slow journeyon account of Paul being
obliged to land both feet on every stairbefore he mounted another.
But they reached their journey's end at last; and therein a front
roomlooking over the wild seaCornelia showed him a nice little bed
with white hangingsclose to the windowon which there was already
beautifully written on a card in round text - down strokes very thick
and up strokes very fine - DOMBEY; while two other little bedsteads in
the same room were announcedthrough like meansas respectively
appertaining unto BRIGGS and TOZER.

Just as they got downstairs again into the hallPaul saw the
weak-eyed young man who had given that mortal offence to Mrs Pipchin
suddenly seize a very large drumstickand fly at a gong that was
hanging upas if he had gone mador wanted vengeance. Instead of
receiving warninghoweveror being instantly taken into custodythe
young man left off uncheckedafter having made a dreadful noise. Then
Cornelia Blimber said to Dombey that dinner would be ready in a
quarter of an hourand perhaps he had better go into the schoolroom
among his 'friends.'

So Dombeydeferentially passing the great clock which was still as
anxious as ever to know how he found himselfopened the schoolroom
door a very little wayand strayed in like a lost boy: shutting it
after him with some difficulty. His friends were all dispersed about
the room except the stony friendwho remained immoveable. Mr Feeder
was stretching himself in his grey gownas ifregardless of expense
he were resolved to pull the sleeves off.

'Heigh ho hum!' cried Mr Feedershaking himself like a cart-horse.
'Oh dear medear me! Ya-a-a-ah!'

Paul was quite alarmed by Mr Feeder's yawning; it was done on such
a great scaleand he was so terribly in earnest. All the boys too
(Toots excepted) seemed knocked upand were getting ready for dinner

-some newly tying their neckclothswhich were very stiff indeed; and
others washing their hands or brushing their hairin an adjoining
ante-chamber - as if they didn't think they should enjoy it at all.
Young Toots who was ready beforehandand had therefore nothing to
doand had leisure to bestow upon Paulsaidwith heavy good nature:

'Sit downDombey.'

'Thank youSir' said Paul.

His endeavouring to hoist himself on to a very high window-seat
and his slipping down againappeared to prepare Toots's mind for the
reception of a discovery.

'You're a very small chap;' said Mr Toots.

'YesSirI'm small' returned Paul. 'Thank youSir.'

For Toots had lifted him into the seatand done it kindly too.


'Who's your tailor?' inquired Tootsafter looking at him for some
moments.

'It's a woman that has made my clothes as yet' said Paul. 'My
sister's dressmaker.'

'My tailor's Burgess and Co.' said Toots. 'Fash'nable. But very
dear.'

Paul had wit enough to shake his headas if he would have said it
was easy to see that; and indeed he thought so.

'Your father's regularly richain't he?' inquired Mr Toots.

'YesSir' said Paul. 'He's Dombey and Son.'

'And which?' demanded Toots.

'And SonSir' replied Paul.

Mr Toots made one or two attemptsin a low voiceto fix the Firm
in his mind; but not quite succeedingsaid he would get Paul to
mention the name again to-morrow morningas it was rather important.
And indeed he purposed nothing less than writing himself a private and
confidential letter from Dombey and Son immediately.

By this time the other pupils (always excepting the stony boy)
gathered round. They were politebut pale; and spoke low; and they
were so depressed in their spiritsthat in comparison with the
general tone of that companyMaster Bitherstone was a perfect Miller
or complete Jest Book.' And yet he had a sense of injury upon him
toohad Bitherstone.

'You sleep in my roomdon't you?' asked a solemn young gentleman
whose shirt-collar curled up the lobes of his ears.

'Master Briggs?' inquired Paul.

'Tozer' said the young gentleman.

Paul answered yes; and Tozer pointing out the stony pupilsaid
that was Briggs. Paul had already felt certain that it must be either
Briggs or Tozerthough he didn't know why.

'Is yours a strong constitution?' inquired Tozer.

Paul said he thought not. Tozer replied that he thought not also
judging from Paul's looksand that it was a pityfor it need be. He
then asked Paul if he were going to begin with Cornelia; and on Paul
saying 'yes' all the young gentlemen (Briggs excepted) gave a low
groan.

It was drowned in the tintinnabulation of the gongwhich sounding
again with great furythere was a general move towards the
dining-room; still excepting Briggs the stony boywho remained where
he wasand as he was; and on its way to whom Paul presently
encountered a round of breadgenteelly served on a plate and napkin
and with a silver fork lying crosswise on the top of it.

Doctor Blimber was already in his place in the dining-roomat the
top of the tablewith Miss Blimber and Mrs Blimber on either side of
him. Mr Feeder in a black coat was at the bottom. Paul's chair was
next to Miss Blimber; but it being foundwhen he sat in itthat his
eyebrows were not much above the level of the table-clothsome books


were brought in from the Doctor's studyon which he was elevatedand
on which he always sat from that time - carrying them in and out
himself on after occasionslike a little elephant and castle.'

Grace having been said by the Doctordinner began. There was some
nice soup; also roast meatboiled meatvegetablespieand cheese.
Every young gentleman had a massive silver forkand a napkin; and all
the arrangements were stately and handsome. In particularthere was a
butler in a blue coat and bright buttonswho gave quite a winey
flavour to the table beer; he poured it out so superbly.

Nobody spokeunless spoken toexcept Doctor BlimberMrs Blimber
and Miss Blimberwho conversed occasionally. Whenever a young
gentleman was not actually engaged with his knife and fork or spoon
his eyewith an irresistible attractionsought the eye of Doctor
BlimberMrs Blimberor Miss Blimberand modestly rested there.
Toots appeared to be the only exception to this rule. He sat next Mr
Feeder on Paul's side of the tableand frequently looked behind and
before the intervening boys to catch a glimpse of Paul.

Only once during dinner was there any conversation that included
the young gentlemen. It happened at the epoch of the cheesewhen the
Doctorhaving taken a glass of port wineand hemmed twice or thrice
said:

'It is remarkableMr Feederthat the Romans - '

At the mention of this terrible peopletheir implacable enemies
every young gentleman fastened his gaze upon the Doctorwith an
assumption of the deepest interest. One of the number who happened to
be drinkingand who caught the Doctor's eye glaring at him through
the side of his tumblerleft off so hastily that he was convulsed for
some momentsand in the sequel ruined Doctor Blimber's point.

'It is remarkableMr Feeder' said the Doctorbeginning again
slowly'that the Romansin those gorgeous and profuse entertainments
of which we read in the days of the Emperorswhen luxury had attained
a height unknown before or sinceand when whole provinces were
ravaged to supply the splendid means of one Imperial Banquet - '

Here the offenderwho had been swelling and strainingand waiting
in vain for a full stopbroke out violently.

'Johnson' said Mr Feederin a low reproachful voice'take some
water.'

The Doctorlooking very sternmade a pause until the water was
broughtand then resumed:

'And whenMr Feeder - '

But Mr Feederwho saw that Johnson must break out againand who
knew that the Doctor would never come to a period before the young
gentlemen until he had finished all he meant to saycouldn't keep his
eye off Johnson; and thus was caught in the fact of not looking at the
Doctorwho consequently stopped.

'I beg your pardonSir' said Mr Feederreddening. 'I beg your
pardonDoctor Blimber.'

'And when' said the Doctorraising his voice'whenSiras we
readand have no reason to doubt - incredible as it may appear to the
vulgar - of our time - the brother of Vitellius prepared for him a
feastin which were servedof fishtwo thousand dishes - '


'Take some waterJohnson - dishesSir' said Mr Feeder.

'Of various sorts of fowlfive thousand dishes.'

'Or try a crust of bread' said Mr Feeder.

'And one dish' pursued Doctor Blimberraising his voice still
higher as he looked all round the table'calledfrom its enormous
dimensionsthe Shield of Minervaand madeamong other costly
ingredientsof the brains of pheasants - '

'Owowow!' (from Johnson.)

'Woodcocks - '

'Owowow!'

'The sounds of the fish called scari - '

'You'll burst some vessel in your head' said Mr Feeder. 'You had
better let it come.'

'And the spawn of the lampreybrought from the Carpathian Sea'
pursued the Doctorin his severest voice; 'when we read of costly
entertainments such as theseand still rememberthat we have a Titus

-'
'What would be your mother's feelings if you died of apoplexy!'
said Mr Feeder.

'A Domitian - '

'And you're blueyou know' said Mr Feeder.

'A Neroa Tiberiusa Caligulaa Heliogabalusand many more
pursued the Doctor; 'it isMr Feeder - if you are doing me the honour
to attend - remarkable; VERY remarkableSir - '

But Johnsonunable to suppress it any longerburst at that moment
into such an overwhelming fit of coughingthat although both his
immediate neighbours thumped him on the backand Mr Feeder himself
held a glass of water to his lipsand the butler walked him up and
down several times between his own chair and the sideboardlike a
sentryit was a full five minutes before he was moderately composed.
Then there was a profound silence.

'Gentlemen' said Doctor Blimber'rise for Grace! Cornelialift
Dombey down' - nothing of whom but his scalp was accordingly seen
above the tablecloth. 'Johnson will repeat to me tomorrow morning
before breakfastwithout bookand from the Greek Testamentthe
first chapter of the Epistle of Saint Paul to the Ephesians. We will
resume our studiesMr Feederin half-an-hour.'

The young gentlemen bowed and withdrew. Mr Feeder did likewise.
During the half-hourthe young gentlemenbroken into pairsloitered
arm-in-arm up and down a small piece of ground behind the houseor
endeavoured to kindle a spark of animation in the breast of Briggs.
But nothing happened so vulgar as play. Punctually at the appointed
timethe gong was soundedand the studiesunder the joint auspices
of Doctor Blimber and Mr Feederwere resumed.

As the Olympic game of lounging up and down had been cut shorter
than usual that dayon Johnson's accountthey all went out for a


walk before tea. Even Briggs (though he hadn't begun yet) partook of
this dissipation; in the enjoyment of which he looked over the cliff
two or three times darkly. Doctor Blimber accompanied them; and Paul
had the honour of being taken in tow by the Doctor himself: a
distinguished state of thingsin which he looked very little and
feeble.

Tea was served in a style no less polite than the dinner; and after
teathe young gentlemen rising and bowing as beforewithdrew to
fetch up the unfinished tasks of that dayor to get up the already
looming tasks of to-morrow. In the meantime Mr Feeder withdrew to his
own room; and Paul sat in a corner wondering whether Florence was
thinking of himand what they were all about at Mrs Pipchin's.

Mr Tootswho had been detained by an important letter from the
Duke of Wellingtonfound Paul out after a time; and having looked at
him for a long whileas beforeinquired if he was fond of
waistcoats.

Paul said 'YesSir.'

'So am I' said Toots.

No word more spoke Toots that night; but he stood looking at Paul
as if he liked him; and as there was company in thatand Paul was not
inclined to talkit answered his purpose better than conversation.

At eight o'clock or sothe gong sounded again for prayers in the
dining-roomwhere the butler afterwards presided over a side-table
on which bread and cheese and beer were spread for such young
gentlemen as desired to partake of those refreshments. The ceremonies
concluded by the Doctor's saying'Gentlemenwe will resume our
studies at seven to-morrow;' and thenfor the first timePaul saw
Cornelia Blimber's eyeand saw that it was upon him. When the Doctor
had said these words'Gentlemenwe will resume our studies at seven
tomorrow' the pupils bowed againand went to bed.

In the confidence of their own room upstairsBriggs said his head
ached ready to splitand that he should wish himself dead if it
wasn't for his motherand a blackbird he had at home Tozer didn't say
muchbut he sighed a good dealand told Paul to look outfor his
turn would come to-morrow. After uttering those prophetic wordshe
undressed himself moodilyand got into bed. Briggs was in his bed
tooand Paul in his bed toobefore the weak-eyed young man appeared
to take away the candlewhen he wished them good-night and pleasant
dreams. But his benevolent wishes were in vainas far as Briggs and
Tozer were concerned; for Paulwho lay awake for a long whileand
often woke afterwardsfound that Briggs was ridden by his lesson as a
nightmare: and that Tozerwhose mind was affected in his sleep by
similar causesin a minor degree talked unknown tonguesor scraps of
Greek and Latin - it was all one to Paul- whichin the silence of
nighthad an inexpressibly wicked and guilty effect.

Paul had sunk into a sweet sleepand dreamed that he was walking
hand in hand with Florence through beautiful gardenswhen they came
to a large sunflower which suddenly expanded itself into a gongand
began to sound. Opening his eyeshe found that it was a darkwindy
morningwith a drizzling rain: and that the real gong was giving
dreadful note of preparationdown in the hall.

So he got up directlyand found Briggs with hardly any eyesfor
nightmare and grief had made his face puffyputting his boots on:
while Tozer stood shivering and rubbing his shoulders in a very bad
humour. Poor Paul couldn't dress himself easilynot being used to it


and asked them if they would have the goodness to tie some strings for
him; but as Briggs merely said 'Bother!' and Tozer'Oh yes!' he went
down when he was otherwise readyto the next storeywhere he saw a
pretty young woman in leather glovescleaning a stove. The young
woman seemed surprised at his appearanceand asked him where his
mother was. When Paul told her she was deadshe took her gloves off
and did what he wanted; and furthermore rubbed his hands to warm them;
and gave him a kiss; and told him whenever he wanted anything of that
sort - meaning in the dressing way - to ask for 'Melia; which Paul
thanking her very muchsaid he certainly would. He then proceeded
softly on his journey downstairstowards the room in which the young
gentlemen resumed their studieswhenpassing by a door that stood
ajara voice from within cried'Is that Dombey?' On Paul replying
'YesMa'am:' for he knew the voice to be Miss Blimber's: Miss Blimber
said'Come inDombey.' And in he went. Miss Blimber presented
exactly the appearance she had presented yesterdayexcept that she
wore a shawl. Her little light curls were as crisp as everand she
had already her spectacles onwhich made Paul wonder whether she went
to bed in them. She had a cool little sitting-room of her own up
therewith some books in itand no fire But Miss Blimber was never
coldand never sleepy.

NowDombey' said Miss Blimber'I am going out for a
constitutional.'

Paul wondered what that wasand why she didn't send the footman
out to get it in such unfavourable weather. But he made no observation
on the subject: his attention being devoted to a little pile of new
bookson which Miss Blimber appeared to have been recently engaged.

'These are yoursDombey' said Miss Blimber.

'All of 'emMa'am?' said Paul.

'Yes' returned Miss Blimber; 'and Mr Feeder will look you out some
more very soonif you are as studious as I expect you will be
Dombey.'

'Thank youMa'am' said Paul.

'I am going out for a constitutional' resumed Miss Blimber; 'and
while I am gonethat is to say in the interval between this and
breakfastDombeyI wish you to read over what I have marked in these
booksand to tell me if you quite understand what you have got to
learn. Don't lose timeDombeyfor you have none to sparebut take
them downstairsand begin directly.'

'YesMa'am' answered Paul.

There were so many of themthat although Paul put one hand under
the bottom book and his other hand and his chin on the top bookand
hugged them all closelythe middle book slipped out before he reached
the doorand then they all tumbled down on the floor. Miss Blimber
said'OhDombeyDombeythis is really very careless!' and piled
them up afresh for him; and this timeby dint of balancing them with
great nicetyPaul got out of the roomand down a few stairs before
two of them escaped again. But he held the rest so tightthat he only
left one more on the first floorand one in the passage; and when he
had got the main body down into the schoolroomhe set off upstairs
again to collect the stragglers. Having at last amassed the whole
libraryand climbed into his placehe fell to workencouraged by a
remark from Tozer to the effect that he 'was in for it now;' which was
the only interruption he received till breakfast time. At that meal
for which he had no appetiteeverything was quite as solemn and


genteel as at the others; and when it was finishedhe followed Miss
Blimber upstairs.

'NowDombey' said Miss Blimber. 'How have you got on with those
books?'

They comprised a little Englishand a deal of Latin - names of
thingsdeclensions of articles and substantivesexercises thereon
and preliminary rules - a trifle of orthographya glance at ancient
historya wink or two at modern dittoa few tablestwo or three
weights and measuresand a little general information. When poor Paul
had spelt out number twohe found he had no idea of number one;
fragments whereof afterwards obtruded themselves into number three
which slided into number fourwhich grafted itself on to number two.
So that whether twenty Romuluses made a Remusor hic haec hoc was
troy weightor a verb always agreed with an ancient Britonor three
times four was Taurus a bullwere open questions with him.

'OhDombeyDombey!' said Miss Blimber'this is very shocking.'

'If you please' said Paul'I think if I might sometimes talk a
little to old GlubbI should be able to do better.'

'NonsenseDombey' said Miss Blimber. 'I couldn't hear of it. This
is not the place for Glubbs of any kind. You must take the books down
I supposeDombeyone by oneand perfect yourself in the day's
instalment of subject Abefore you turn at all to subject B. I am
sorry to sayDombeythat your education appears to have been very
much neglected.'

'So Papa says' returned Paul; 'but I told you - I have been a weak
child. Florence knows I have. So does Wickam.'

'Who is Wickam?' asked Miss Blimber.

'She has been my nurse' Paul answered.

'I must beg you not to mention Wickam to methen' said Miss
Blimber.'I couldn't allow it'.

'You asked me who she was' said Paul.

'Very well' returned Miss Blimber; 'but this is all very different
indeed from anything of that sortDombeyand I couldn't think of
permitting it. As to having been weakyou must begin to be strong.
And now take away the top bookif you pleaseDombeyand return when
you are master of the theme.'

Miss Blimber expressed her opinions on the subject of Paul's
uninstructed state with a gloomy delightas if she had expected this
resultand were glad to find that they must be in constant
communication. Paul withdrew with the top taskas he was toldand
laboured away at itdown below: sometimes remembering every word of
itand sometimes forgetting it alland everything else besides:
until at last he ventured upstairs again to repeat the lessonwhen it
was nearly all driven out of his head before he beganby Miss
Blimber's shutting up the bookand saying'GoodDombey!' a
proceeding so suggestive of the knowledge inside of herthat Paul
looked upon the young lady with consternationas a kind of learned
Guy Fauxor artificial Boglestuffed full of scholastic straw.

He acquitted himself very wellnevertheless; and Miss Blimber
commending him as giving promise of getting on fastimmediately
provided him with subject B; from which he passed to Cand even D


before dinner. It was hard workresuming his studiessoon after
dinner; and he felt giddy and confused and drowsy and dull. But all
the other young gentlemen had similar sensationsand were obliged to
resume their studies tooif there were any comfort in that. It was a
wonder that the great clock in the hallinstead of being constant to
its first inquirynever said'Gentlemenwe will now resume our
studies' for that phrase was often enough repeated in its
neighbourhood. The studies went round like a mighty wheeland the
young gentlemen were always stretched upon it.

After tea there were exercises againand preparations for next day
by candlelight. And in due course there was bed; wherebut for that
resumption of the studies which took place in dreamswere rest and
sweet forgetfulness.

Oh Saturdays! Oh happy Saturdayswhen Florence always came at
noonand never wouldin any weatherstay awaythough Mrs Pipchin
snarled and growledand worried her bitterly. Those Saturdays were
Sabbaths for at least two little Christians among all the Jewsand
did the holy Sabbath work of strengthening and knitting up a brother's
and a sister's love.

Not even Sunday nights - the heavy Sunday nightswhose shadow
darkened the first waking burst of light on Sunday mornings - could
mar those precious Saturdays. Whether it was the great sea-shore
where they satand strolled together; or whether it was only Mrs
Pipchin's dull back roomin which she sang to him so softlywith his
drowsy head upon her arm; Paul never cared. It was Florence. That was
all he thought of. Soon Sunday nightswhen the Doctor's dark door
stood agape to swallow him up for another weekthe time was come for
taking leave of Florence; no one else.

Mrs Wickam had been drafted home to the house in townand Miss
Nippernow a smart young womanhad come down. To many a single
combat with Mrs Pipchindid Miss Nipper gallantly devote herselfand
if ever Mrs Pipchin in all her life had found her matchshe had found
it now. Miss Nipper threw away the scabbard the first morning she
arose in Mrs Pipchin's house. She asked and gave no quarter. She said
it must be warand war it was; and Mrs Pipchin lived from that time
in the midst of surprisesharassingsand defiancesand skirmishing
attacks that came bouncing in upon her from the passageeven in
unguarded moments of chopsand carried desolation to her very toast.

Miss Nipper had returned one Sunday night with Florencefrom
walking back with Paul to the Doctor'swhen Florence took from her
bosom a little piece of paperon which she had pencilled down some
words.

'See hereSusan' she said. 'These are the names of the little
books that Paul brings home to do those long exercises withwhen he
is so tired. I copied them last night while he was writing.'

'Don't show 'em to meMiss Floyif you please' returned Nipper
'I'd as soon see Mrs Pipchin.'

'I want you to buy them for meSusanif you willtomorrow
morning. I have money enough' said Florence.

'Whygoodness gracious meMiss Floy' returned Miss Nipper'how
can you talk like thatwhen you have books upon books alreadyand
masterses and mississes a teaching of you everything continualthough
my belief is that your PaMiss Dombeynever would have learnt you
nothingnever would have thought of itunless you'd asked him - when
he couldn't well refuse; but giving consent when askedand offering


when unaskedMissis quite two things; I may not have my objections
to a young man's keeping company with meand when he puts the
questionmay say "yes but that's not saying would you be so kind
as like me."'

'But you can buy me the booksSusan; and you willwhen you know
why I want them.'

'WellMissand why do you want 'em?' replied Nipper; addingin a
lower voice'If it was to fling at Mrs Pipchin's headI'd buy a
cart-load.'

'Paul has a great deal too much to doSusan' said Florence'I am
sure of it.'

'And well you may beMiss' returned her maid'and make your mind
quite easy that the willing dear is worked and worked away. If those
is Latin legs' exclaimed Miss Nipperwith strong feeling - in
allusion to Paul's; 'give me English ones.'

'I am afraid he feels lonely and lost at Doctor Blimber'sSusan'
pursued Florenceturning away her face.

'Ah' said Miss Nipperwith great sharpness'Ohthem "Blimbers"'

'Don't blame anyone' said Florence. 'It's a mistake.'

'I say nothing about blameMiss' cried Miss Nipper'for I know
that you objectbut I may wishMissthat the family was set to work
to make new roadsand that Miss Blimber went in front and had the
pickaxe.'

After this speechMiss Nipperwho was perfectly seriouswiped
her eyes.

'I think I could perhaps give Paul some helpSusanif I had these
books' said Florence'and make the coming week a little easier to
him. At least I want to try. So buy them for medearand I will
never forget how kind it was of you to do it!'

It must have been a harder heart than Susan Nipper's that could
have rejected the little purse Florence held out with these wordsor
the gentle look of entreaty with which she seconded her petition.
Susan put the purse in her pocket without replyand trotted out at
once upon her errand.

The books were not easy to procure; and the answer at several shops
waseither that they were just out of themor that they never kept
themor that they had had a great many last monthor that they
expected a great many next week But Susan was not easily baffled in
such an enterprise; and having entrapped a white-haired youthin a
black calico apronfrom a library where she was knownto accompany
her in her questshe led him such a life in going up and downthat
he exerted himself to the utmostif it were only to get rid of her;
and finally enabled her to return home in triumph.

With these treasures thenafter her own daily lessons were over
Florence sat down at night to track Paul's footsteps through the
thorny ways of learning; and being possessed of a naturally quick and
sound capacityand taught by that most wonderful of mastersloveit
was not long before she gained upon Paul's heelsand caught and
passed him.

Not a word of this was breathed to Mrs Pipchin: but many a night


when they were all in bedand when Miss Nipperwith her hair in
papers and herself asleep in some uncomfortable attitudereposed
unconscious by her side; and when the chinking ashes in the grate were
cold and grey; and when the candles were burnt down and guttering out;

-Florence tried so hard to be a substitute for one small Dombeythat
her fortitude and perseverance might have almost won her a free right
to bear the name herself.
And high was her rewardwhen one Saturday eveningas little Paul
was sitting down as usual to 'resume his studies' she sat down by his
sideand showed him all that was so roughmade smoothand all that
was so darkmade clear and plainbefore him. It was nothing but a
startled look in Paul's wan face - a flush - a smile - and then a
close embrace - but God knows how her heart leapt up at this rich
payment for her trouble.

'OhFloy!' cried her brother'how I love you! How I love you
Floy!'

'And I youdear!'

'Oh! I am sure of thatFloy.'

He said no more about itbut all that evening sat close by her
very quiet; and in the night he called out from his little room within
hersthree or four timesthat he loved her.

Regularlyafter thatFlorence was prepared to sit down with Paul
on Saturday nightand patiently assist him through so much as they
could anticipate together of his next week's work. The cheering
thought that he was labouring on where Florence had just toiled before
himwouldof itselfhave been a stimulant to Paul in the perpetual
resumption of his studies; but coupled with the actual lightening of
his loadconsequent on this assistanceit saved himpossiblyfrom
sinking underneath the burden which the fair Cornelia Blimber piled
upon his back.

It was not that Miss Blimber meant to be too hard upon himor that
Doctor Blimber meant to bear too heavily on the young gentlemen in
general. Cornelia merely held the faith in which she had been bred;
and the Doctorin some partial confusion of his ideasregarded the
young gentlemen as if they were all Doctorsand were born grown up.
Comforted by the applause of the young gentlemen's nearest relations
and urged on by their blind vanity and ill-considered hasteit would
have been strange if Doctor Blimber had discovered his mistakeor
trimmed his swelling sails to any other tack.

Thus in the case of Paul. When Doctor Blimber said he made great
progress and was naturally cleverMr Dombey was more bent than ever
on his being forced and crammed. In the case of Briggswhen Doctor
Blimber reported that he did not make great progress yetand was not
naturally cleverBriggs senior was inexorable in the same purpose. In
shorthowever high and false the temperature at which the Doctor kept
his hothousethe owners of the plants were always ready to lend a
helping hand at the bellowsand to stir the fire.

Such spirits as he had in the outsetPaul soon lost of course. But
he retained all that was strangeand oldand thoughtful in his
character: and under circumstances so favourable to the development of
those tendenciesbecame even more strangeand oldand thoughtful
than before.

The only difference wasthat he kept his character to himself. He
grew more thoughtful and reservedevery day; and had no such


curiosity in any living member of the Doctor's householdas he had
had in Mrs Pipchin. He loved to be alone; and in those short intervals
when he was not occupied with his booksliked nothing so well as
wandering about the house by himselfor sitting on the stairs
listening to the great clock in the hall. He was intimate with all the
paperhanging in the house; saw things that no one else saw in the
patterns; found out miniature tigers and lions running up the bedroom
wallsand squinting faces leering in the squares and diamonds of the
floor-cloth.

The solitary child lived onsurrounded by this arabesque work of
his musing fancyand no one understood him. Mrs Blimber thought him
'odd' and sometimes the servants said among themselves that little
Dombey 'moped;' but that was all.

Unless young Toots had some idea on the subjectto the expression
of which he was wholly unequal. Ideaslike ghosts (according to the
common notion of ghosts)must be spoken to a little before they will
explain themselves; and Toots had long left off asking any questions
of his own mind. Some mist there may have beenissuing from that
leaden caskethis craniumwhichif it could have taken shape and
formwould have become a genie; but it could not; and it only so far
followed the example of the smoke in the Arabian storyas to roll out
in a thick cloudand there hang and hover. But it left a little
figure visible upon a lonely shoreand Toots was always staring at
it.

'How are you?' he would say to Paulfifty times a day. 'Quite
wellSirthank you' Paul would answer. 'Shake hands' would be
Toots's next advance.

Which Paulof coursewould immediately do. Mr Toots generally
said againafter a long interval of staring and hard breathing'How
are you?' To which Paul again replied'Quite wellSirthank you.'

One evening Mr Toots was sitting at his deskoppressed by
correspondencewhen a great purpose seemed to flash upon him. He laid
down his penand went off to seek Paulwhom he found at lastafter
a long searchlooking through the window of his little bedroom.

'I say!' cried Tootsspeaking the moment he entered the roomlest
he should forget it; 'what do you think about?'

'Oh! I think about a great many things' replied Paul.

'Do youthough?' said Tootsappearing to consider that fact in
itself surprising. 'If you had to die' said Paullooking up into his
face - Mr Toots startedand seemed much disturbed.

'Don't you think you would rather die on a moonlight nightwhen
the sky was quite clearand the wind blowingas it did last night?'

Mr Toots saidlooking doubtfully at Pauland shaking his head
that he didn't know about that.

'Not blowingat least' said Paul'but sounding in the air like
the sea sounds in the shells. It was a beautiful night. When I had
listened to the water for a long timeI got up and looked out. There
was a boat over therein the full light of the moon; a boat with a
sail.'

The child looked at him so steadfastlyand spoke so earnestly
that Mr Tootsfeeling himself called upon to say something about this
boatsaid'Smugglers.' But with an impartial remembrance of there


being two sides to every questionhe added'or Preventive.'

'A boat with a sail' repeated Paul'in the full light of the
moon. The sail like an armall silver. It went away into the
distanceand what do you think it seemed to do as it moved with the
waves?'

'Pitch' said Mr Toots.

'It seemed to beckon' said the child'to beckon me to come! -
There she is! There she is!'

Toots was almost beside himself with dismay at this sudden
exclamationafter what had gone beforeand cried 'Who?'

'My sister Florence!' cried Paul'looking up hereand waving her
hand. She sees me - she sees me! Good-nightdeargood-night
good-night.'

His quick transition to a state of unbounded pleasureas he stood
at his windowkissing and clapping his hands: and the way in which
the light retreated from his features as she passed out of his view
and left a patient melancholy on the little face: were too remarkable
wholly to escape even Toots's notice. Their interview being
interrupted at this moment by a visit from Mrs Pipchinwho usually
brought her black skirts to bear upon Paul just before duskonce or
twice a weekToots had no opportunity of improving the occasion: but
it left so marked an impression on his mind that he twice returned
after having exchanged the usual salutationsto ask Mrs Pipchin how
she did. This the irascible old lady conceived to be a deeply devised
and long-meditated insultoriginating in the diabolical invention of
the weak-eyed young man downstairsagainst whom she accordingly
lodged a formal complaint with Doctor Blimber that very night; who
mentioned to the young man that if he ever did it againhe should be
obliged to part with him.

The evenings being longer nowPaul stole up to his window every
evening to look out for Florence. She always passed and repassed at a
certain timeuntil she saw him; and their mutual recognition was a
gleam of sunshine in Paul's daily life. Often after darkone other
figure walked alone before the Doctor's house. He rarely joined them
on the Saturdays now. He could not bear it. He would rather come
unrecognisedand look up at the windows where his son was qualifying
for a man; and waitand watchand planand hope.

Oh! could he but have seenor seen as others didthe slight spare
boy abovewatching the waves and clouds at twilightwith his earnest
eyesand breasting the window of his solitary cage when birds flew
byas if he would have emulated themand soared away!

CHAPTER 13.

Shipping Intelligence and Office Business

Mr Dombey's offices were in a court where there was an
old-established stall of choice fruit at the corner: where
perambulating merchantsof both sexesoffered for sale at any time
between the hours of ten and fiveslipperspocket-bookssponges
dogs' collarsand Windsor soap; and sometimes a pointer or an
oil-painting.


The pointer always came that waywith a view to the Stock
Exchangewhere a sporting taste (originating generally in bets of new
hats) is much in vogue. The other commodities were addressed to the
general public; but they were never offered by the vendors to Mr
Dombey. When he appearedthe dealers in those wares fell off
respectfully. The principal slipper and dogs' collar man - who
considered himself a public characterand whose portrait was screwed
on to an artist's door in Cheapside - threw up his forefinger to the
brim of his hat as Mr Dombey went by. The ticket-porterif he were
not absent on a jobalways ran officiously beforeto open Mr
Dombey's office door as wide as possibleand hold it openwith his
hat offwhile he entered.

The clerks within were not a whit behind-hand in their
demonstrations of respect. A solemn hush prevailedas Mr Dombey
passed through the outer office. The wit of the Counting-House became
in a moment as mute as the row of leathern fire-buckets hanging up
behind him. Such vapid and flat daylight as filtered through the
ground-glass windows and skylightsleaving a black sediment upon the
panesshowed the books and papersand the figures bending over them
enveloped in a studious gloomand as much abstracted in appearance
from the world withoutas if they were assembled at the bottom of the
sea; while a mouldy little strong room in the obscure perspective
where a shaded lamp was always burningmight have represented the
cavern of some ocean monsterlooking on with a red eye at these
mysteries of the deep.

When Perch the messengerwhose place was on a little bracketlike
a timepiecesaw Mr Dombey come in - or rather when he felt that he
was comingfor he had usually an instinctive sense of his approach he
hurried into Mr Dombey's roomstirred the firecarried fresh
coals from the bowels of the coal-boxhung the newspaper to air upon
the fenderput the chair readyand the screen in its placeand was
round upon his heel on the instant of Mr Dombey's entranceto take
his great-coat and hatand hang them up. Then Perch took the
newspaperand gave it a turn or two in his hands before the fireand
laid itdeferentiallyat Mr Dombey's elbow. And so little objection
had Perch to being deferential in the last degreethat if he might
have laid himself at Mr Dombey's feetor might have called him by
some such title as used to be bestowed upon the Caliph Haroun
Alraschidhe would have been all the better pleased.

As this honour would have been an innovation and an experiment
Perch was fain to content himself by expressing as well as he could
in his mannerYou are the light of my Eyes. You are the Breath of my
Soul. You are the commander of the Faithful Perch! With this imperfect
happiness to cheer himhe would shut the door softlywalk away on
tiptoeand leave his great chief to be stared atthrough a
dome-shaped window in the leadsby ugly chimney-pots and backs of
housesand especially by the bold window of a hair-cutting saloon on
a first floorwhere a waxen effigybald as a Mussulman in the
morningand coveredafter eleven o'clock in the daywith luxuriant
hair and whiskers in the latest Christian fashionshowed him the
wrong side of its head for ever.

Between Mr Dombey and the common worldas it was accessible
through the medium of the outer office - to which Mr Dombey's presence
in his own room may be said to have struck like dampor cold air there
were two degrees of descent. Mr Carker in his own office was the
first step; Mr Morfinin his own officewas the second. Each of
these gentlemen occupied a little chamber like a bath-roomopening
from the passage outside Mr Dombey's door. Mr Carkeras Grand Vizier
inhabited the room that was nearest to the Sultan. Mr Morfinas an


officer of inferior stateinhabited the room that was nearest to the
clerks.

The gentleman last mentioned was a cheerful-lookinghazel-eyed
elderly bachelor: gravely attiredas to his upper manin black; and
as to his legsin pepper-and-salt colour. His dark hair was just
touched here and there with specks of grayas though the tread of
Time had splashed it; and his whiskers were already white. He had a
mighty respect for Mr Dombeyand rendered him due homage; but as he
was of a genial temper himselfand never wholly at his ease in that
stately presencehe was disquieted by no jealousy of the many
conferences enjoyed by Mr Carkerand felt a secret satisfaction in
having duties to dischargewhich rarely exposed him to be singled out
for such distinction. He was a great musical amateur in his way after
business; and had a paternal affection for his violoncello
which was once in every week transported from Islingtonhis place of
abodeto a certain club-room hard by the Bankwhere quartettes of
the most tormenting and excruciating nature were executed every
Wednesday evening by a private party.

Mr Carker was a gentleman thirty-eight or forty years oldof a
florid complexionand with two unbroken rows of glistening teeth
whose regularity and whiteness were quite distressing. It was
impossible to escape the observation of themfor he showed them
whenever he spoke; and bore so wide a smile upon his countenance (a
smilehoweververy rarelyindeedextending beyond his mouth)that
there was something in it like the snarl of a cat. He affected a stiff
white cravatafter the example of his principaland was always
closely buttoned up and tightly dressed. His manner towards Mr Dombey
was deeply conceived and perfectly expressed. He was familiar with
himin the very extremity of his sense of the distance between them.
'Mr Dombeyto a man in your position from a man in minethere is no
show of subservience compatible with the transaction of business
between usthat I should think sufficient. I frankly tell youSirI
give it up altogether. I feel that I could not satisfy my own mind;
and Heaven knowsMr Dombeyyou can afford to dispense with the
endeavour.' If he had carried these words about with him printed on a
placardand had constantly offered it to Mr Dombey's perusal on the
breast of his coathe could not have been more explicit than he was.

This was Carker the Manager. Mr Carker the JuniorWalter's friend
was his brother; two or three years older than hebut widely removed
in station. The younger brother's post was on the top of the official
ladder; the elder brother's at the bottom. The elder brother never
gained a staveor raised his foot to mount one. Young men passed
above his headand rose and rose; but he was always at the bottom. He
was quite resigned to occupy that low condition: never complained of
it: and certainly never hoped to escape from it.

'How do you do this morning?' said Mr Carker the Managerentering
Mr Dombey's room soon after his arrival one day: with a bundle of
papers in his hand.

'How do you doCarker?' said Mr Dombey.

'Coolish!' observed Carkerstirring the fire.

'Rather' said Mr Dombey.

'Any news of the young gentleman who is so important to us all?'
asked Carkerwith his whole regiment of teeth on parade.

'Yes - not direct news- I hear he's very well' said Mr Dombey. Who
had come from Brighton over-night. But no one knew It.


'Very welland becoming a great scholarno doubt?' observed the
Manager.

'I hope so' returned Mr Dombey.

'Egad!' said Mr Carkershaking his head'Time flies!'

'I think sosometimes' returned Mr Dombeyglancing at his
newspaper.

'Oh! You! You have no reason to think so' observed Carker. 'One
who sits on such an elevation as yoursand can sit thereunmovedin
all seasons - hasn't much reason to know anything about the flight of
time. It's men like myselfwho are low down and are not superior in
circumstancesand who inherit new masters in the course of Timethat
have cause to look about us. I shall have a rising sun to worship
soon.'

'Time enoughtime enoughCarker!' said Mr Dombeyrising from his
chairand standing with his back to the fire. 'Have you anything
there for me?'

'I don't know that I need trouble you' returned Carkerturning
over the papers in his hand. 'You have a committee today at threeyou
know.'

'And one at threethree-quarters' added Mr Dombey.

'Catch you forgetting anything!' exclaimed Carkerstill turning
over his papers. 'If Mr Paul inherits your memoryhe'll be a
troublesome customer in the House. One of you is enough'

'You have an accurate memory of your own' said Mr Dombey.

'Oh! I!' returned the manager. 'It's the only capital of a man like
me.'

Mr Dombey did not look less pompous or at all displeasedas he
stood leaning against the chimney-piecesurveying his (of course
unconscious) clerkfrom head to foot. The stiffness and nicety of Mr
Carker's dressand a certain arrogance of mannereither natural to
him or imitated from a pattern not far offgave great additional
effect to his humility. He seemed a man who would contend against the
power that vanquished himif he couldbut who was utterly borne down
by the greatness and superiority of Mr Dombey.

'Is Morfin here?' asked Mr Dombey after a short pauseduring which
Mr Carker had been fluttering his papersand muttering little
abstracts of their contents to himself.

'Morfin's here' he answeredlooking up with his widest and almost
sudden smile; 'humming musical recollections - of his last night's
quartette partyI suppose - through the walls between usand driving
me half mad. I wish he'd make a bonfire of his violoncelloand burn
his music-books in it.'

'You respect nobodyCarkerI think' said Mr Dombey.

'No?' inquired Carkerwith another wide and most feline show of
his teeth. 'Well! Not many peopleI believe. I wouldn't answer
perhaps' he murmuredas if he were only thinking it'for more than
one.'


A dangerous qualityif real; and a not less dangerous oneif
feigned. But Mr Dombey hardly seemed to think soas he still stood
with his back to the firedrawn up to his full heightand looking at
his head-clerk with a dignified composurein which there seemed to
lurk a stronger latent sense of power than usual.

'Talking of Morfin' resumed Mr Carkertaking out one paper from
the rest'he reports a junior dead in the agency at Barbadosand
proposes to reserve a passage in the Son and Heir - she'll sail in a
month or so - for the successor. You don't care who goesI suppose?
We have nobody of that sort here.'

Mr Dombey shook his head with supreme indifference.

'It's no very precious appointment' observed Mr Carkertaking up
a penwith which to endorse a memorandum on the back of the paper. 'I
hope he may bestow it on some orphan nephew of a musical friend. It
may perhaps stop his fiddle-playingif he has a gift that way. Who's
that? Come in!'

'I beg your pardonMr Carker. I didn't know you were hereSir'
answered Walter; appearing with some letters in his handunopened
and newly arrived. 'Mr Carker the juniorSir - '

At the mention of this nameMr Carker the Manager was or affected
to betouched to the quick with shame and humiliation. He cast his
eyes full on Mr Dombey with an altered and apologetic lookabased
them on the groundand remained for a moment without speaking.

'I thoughtSir' he said suddenly and angrilyturning on Walter
'that you had been before requested not to drag Mr Carker the Junior
into your conversation.'

'I beg your pardon' returned Walter. 'I was only going to say that
Mr Carker the Junior had told me he believed you were gone outor I
should not have knocked at the door when you were engaged with Mr
Dombey. These are letters for Mr DombeySir.'

'Very wellSir' returned Mr Carker the Managerplucking them
sharply from his hand. 'Go about your business.'

But in taking them with so little ceremonyMr Carker dropped one
on the floorand did not see what he had done; neither did Mr Dombey
observe the letter lying near his feet. Walter hesitated for a moment
thinking that one or other of them would notice it; but finding that
neither didhe stoppedcame backpicked it upand laid it himself
on Mr Dombey's desk. The letters were post-letters; and it happened
that the one in question was Mrs Pipchin's regular reportdirected as
usual - for Mrs Pipchin was but an indifferent penwoman - by Florence.
Mr Dombeyhaving his attention silently called to this letter by
Walterstartedand looked fiercely at himas if he believed that he
had purposely selected it from all the rest.

'You can leave the roomSir!' said Mr Dombeyhaughtily.

He crushed the letter in his hand; and having watched Walter out at
the doorput it in his pocket without breaking the seal.

'These continual references to Mr Carker the Junior' Mr Carker the
Manager beganas soon as they were alone'areto a man in my
positionuttered before one in yoursso unspeakably distressing - '

'NonsenseCarker' Mr Dombey interrupted. 'You are too sensitive.'


'I am sensitive' he returned. 'If one in your position could by
any possibility imagine yourself in my place: which you cannot: you
would be so too.'

As Mr Dombey's thoughts were evidently pursuing some other subject
his discreet ally broke off hereand stood with his teeth ready to
present to himwhen he should look up.

'You want somebody to send to the West Indiesyou were saying'
observed Mr Dombeyhurriedly.

'Yes' replied Carker.

'Send young Gay.'

'Goodvery good indeed. Nothing easier' said Mr Carkerwithout
any show of surpriseand taking up the pen to re-endorse the letter
as coolly as he had done before. '"Send young Gay."'

'Call him back' said Mr Dombey.

Mr Carker was quick to do soand Walter was quick to return.

'Gay' said Mr Dombeyturning a little to look at him over his
shoulder. 'Here is a


'An opening' said Mr Carkerwith his mouth stretched to the
utmost.

'In the West Indies. At Barbados. I am going to send you' said Mr
Dombeyscorning to embellish the bare truth'to fill a junior
situation in the counting-house at Barbados. Let your Uncle know from
methat I have chosen you to go to the West Indies.'

Walter's breath was so completely taken away by his astonishment
that he could hardly find enough for the repetition of the words 'West
Indies.'

'Somebody must go' said Mr Dombey'and you are young and healthy
and your Uncle's circumstances are not good. Tell your Uncle that you
are appointed. You will not go yet. There will be an interval of a
month - or two perhaps.'

'Shall I remain thereSir?' inquired Walter.

'Will you remain thereSir!' repeated Mr Dombeyturning a little
more round towards him. 'What do you mean? What does he meanCarker?'

'Live thereSir' faltered Walter.

'Certainly' returned Mr Dombey.

Walter bowed.

'That's all' said Mr Dombeyresuming his letters. 'You will
explain to him in good time about the usual outfit and so forth
Carkerof course. He needn't waitCarker.'

'You needn't waitGay' observed Mr Carker: bare to the gums.

'Unless' said Mr Dombeystopping in his reading without looking
off the letterand seeming to listen. 'Unless he has anything to
say.'


'NoSir' returned Walteragitated and confusedand almost
stunnedas an infinite variety of pictures presented themselves to
his mind; among which Captain Cuttlein his glazed hattransfixed
with astonishment at Mrs MacStinger'sand his uncle bemoaning his
loss in the little back parlourheld prominent places. 'I hardly know

-I - I am much obligedSir.'
'He needn't waitCarker' said Mr Dombey.

And as Mr Carker again echoed the wordsand also collected his
papers as if he were going away tooWalter felt that his lingering
any longer would be an unpardonable intrusion - especially as he had
nothing to say - and therefore walked out quite confounded.

Going along the passagewith the mingled consciousness and
helplessness of a dreamhe heard Mr Dombey's door shut againas Mr
Carker came out: and immediately afterwards that gentleman called to
him.

'Bring your friend Mr Carker the Junior to my roomSirif you
please.'

Walter went to the outer office and apprised Mr Carker the Junior
of his errandwho accordingly came out from behind a partition where
he sat alone in one cornerand returned with him to the room of Mr
Carker the Manager.

That gentleman was standing with his back to the fireand his
hands under his coat-tailslooking over his white cravatas
unpromisingly as Mr Dombey himself could have looked. He received them
without any change in his attitude or softening of his harsh and black
expression: merely signing to Walter to close the door.

'John Carker' said the Managerwhen this was doneturning
suddenly upon his brotherwith his two rows of teeth bristling as if
he would have bitten him'what is the league between you and this
young manin virtue of which I am haunted and hunted by the mention
of your name? Is it not enough for youJohn Carkerthat I am your
near relationand can't detach myself from that - '

'Say disgraceJames' interposed the other in a low voicefinding
that he stammered for a word. 'You mean itand have reasonsay
disgrace.'

'From that disgrace' assented his brother with keen emphasis'but
is the fact to be blurted out and trumpetedand proclaimed
continually in the presence of the very House! In moments of
confidence too? Do you think your name is calculated to harmonise in
this place with trust and confidenceJohn Carker?'

'No' returned the other. 'NoJames. God knows I have no such
thought.'

'What is your thoughtthen?' said his brother'and why do you
thrust yourself in my way? Haven't you injured me enough already?'

'I have never injured youJameswilfully.'

'You are my brother' said the Manager. 'That's injury enough.'

'I wish I could undo itJames.'

'I wish you could and would.'


During this conversationWalter had looked from one brother to the
otherwith pain and amazement. He who was the Senior in yearsand
Junior in the Housestoodwith his eyes cast upon the groundand
his head bowedhumbly listening to the reproaches of the other.
Though these were rendered very bitter by the tone and look with which
they were accompaniedand by the presence of Walter whom they so much
surprised and shockedhe entered no other protest against them than
by slightly raising his right hand in a deprecatory manneras if he
would have said'Spare me!' Sohad they been blowsand he a brave
manunder strong constraintand weakened by bodily sufferinghe
might have stood before the executioner.

Generous and quick in all his emotionsand regarding himself as
the innocent occasion of these tauntsWalter now struck inwith all
the earnestness he felt.

'Mr Carker' he saidaddressing himself to the Manager. 'Indeed
indeedthis is my fault solely. In a kind of heedlessnessfor which
I cannot blame myself enoughI haveI have no doubtmentioned Mr
Carker the Junior much oftener than was necessary; and have allowed
his name sometimes to slip through my lipswhen it was against your
expressed wish. But it has been my own mistakeSir. We have never
exchanged one word upon the subject - very fewindeedon any
subject. And it has not been' added Walterafter a moment's pause
'all heedlessness on my partSir; for I have felt an interest in Mr
Carker ever since I have been hereand have hardly been able to help
speaking of him sometimeswhen I have thought of him so much!'

Walter said this from his souland with the very breath of honour.
For he looked upon the bowed headand the downcast eyesand upraised
handand thought'I have felt it; and why should I not avow it in
behalf of this unfriendedbroken man!'

Mr Carker the Manager looked at himas he spokeand when he had
finished speakingwith a smile that seemed to divide his face into
two parts.

'You are an excitable youthGay' he said; 'and should endeavour
to cool down a little nowfor it would be unwise to encourage
feverish predispositions. Be as cool as you canGay. Be as cool as
you can. You might have asked Mr John Carker himself (if you have not
done so) whether he claims to beor isan object of such strong
interest.'

'Jamesdo me justice' said his brother. 'I have claimed nothing;
and I claim nothing. Believe meon my


'Honour?' said his brotherwith another smileas he warmed
himself before the fire.

'On my Me - on my fallen life!' returned the otherin the same low
voicebut with a deeper stress on his words than he had yet seemed
capable of giving them. 'Believe meI have held myself aloofand
kept alone. This has been unsought by me. I have avoided him and
everyone.

'Indeedyou have avoided meMr Carker' said Walterwith the
tears rising to his eyes; so true was his compassion. 'I know itto
my disappointment and regret. When I first came hereand ever since
I am sure I have tried to be as much your friendas one of my age
could presume to be; but it has been of no use.

'And observe' said the Managertaking him up quickly'it will be
of still less useGayif you persist in forcing Mr John Carker's


name on people's attention. That is not the way to befriend Mr John
Carker. Ask him if he thinks it is.'

'It is no service to me' said the brother. 'It only leads to such
a conversation as the presentwhich I need not say I could have well
spared. No one can be a better friend to me:' he spoke here very
distinctlyas if he would impress it upon Walter: 'than in forgetting
meand leaving me to go my wayunquestioned and unnoticed.'

'Your memory not being retentiveGayof what you are told by
others' said Mr Carker the Managerwarming himself with great and
increased satisfaction'I thought it well that you should be told
this from the best authority' nodding towards his brother. 'You are
not likely to forget it nowI hope. That's allGay. You can go.

Walter passed out at the doorand was about to close it after him
whenhearing the voices of the brothers againand also the mention
of his own namehe stood irresolutelywith his hand upon the lock
and the door ajaruncertain whether to return or go away. In this
position he could not help overhearing what followed.

'Think of me more lenientlyif you canJames' said John Carker
'when I tell you I have had - how could I help havingwith my
historywritten here' - striking himself upon the breast - 'my whole
heart awakened by my observation of that boyWalter Gay. I saw in him
when he first came herealmost my other self.'

'Your other self!' repeated the Managerdisdainfully.

'Not as I ambut as I was when I first came here too; as sanguine
giddyyouthfulinexperienced; flushed with the same restless and
adventurous fancies; and full of the same qualitiesfraught with the
same capacity of leading on to good or evil.'

'I hope not' said his brotherwith some hidden and sarcastic
meaning in his tone.

'You strike me sharply; and your hand is steadyand your thrust is
very deep' returned the otherspeaking (or so Walter thought) as if
some cruel weapon actually stabbed him as he spoke. 'I imagined all
this when he was a boy. I believed it. It was a truth to me. I saw him
lightly walking on the edge of an unseen gulf where so many others
walk with equal gaietyand from which

'The old excuse' interrupted his brotheras he stirred the fire.
'So many. Go on. Sayso many fall.'

'From which ONE traveller fell' returned the other'who set
forwardon his waya boy like himand missed his footing more and
moreand slipped a little and a little lower; and went on stumbling
stilluntil he fell headlong and found himself below a shattered man.
Think what I sufferedwhen I watched that boy.'

'You have only yourself to thank for it' returned the brother.

'Only myself' he assented with a sigh. 'I don't seek to divide the
blame or shame.'

'You have divided the shame' James Carker muttered through his
teeth. Andthrough so many and such close teethhe could mutter
well.

'AhJames' returned his brotherspeaking for the first time in
an accent of reproachand seemingby the sound of his voiceto have


covered his face with his hands'I have beensince thena useful
foil to you. You have trodden on me freely in your climbing up. Don't
spurn me with your heel!'

A silence ensued. After a timeMr Carker the Manager was heard
rustling among his papersas if he had resolved to bring the
interview to a conclusion. At the same time his brother withdrew
nearer to the door.

'That's all' he said. 'I watched him with such trembling and such
fearas was some little punishment to meuntil he passed the place
where I first fell; and thenthough I had been his fatherI believe
I never could have thanked God more devoutly. I didn't dare to warn
himand advise him; but if I had seen direct causeI would have
shown him my example. I was afraid to be seen speaking with himlest
it should be thought I did him harmand tempted him to eviland
corrupted him: or lest I really should. There may be such contagion in
me; I don't know. Piece out my historyin connexion with young Walter
Gayand what he has made me feel; and think of me more leniently
Jamesif you can.

With these words he came out to where Walter was standing. He
turned a little paler when he saw him thereand paler yet when Walter
caught him by the handand said in a whisper:

'Mr Carkerpray let me thank you! Let me say how much I feel for
you! How sorry I amto have been the unhappy cause of all this! How I
almost look upon you now as my protector and guardian! How veryvery
muchI feel obliged to you and pity you!' said Waltersqueezing both
his handsand hardly knowingin his agitationwhat he did or said.

Mr Morfin's room being close at hand and emptyand the door wide
openthey moved thither by one accord: the passage being seldom free
from someone passing to or fro. When they were thereand Walter saw
in Mr Carker's face some traces of the emotion withinhe almost felt
as if he had never seen the face before; it was so greatly changed.

'Walter' he saidlaying his hand on his shoulder. 'I am far
removed from youand may I ever be. Do you know what I am?'

'What you are!' appeared to hang on Walter's lipsas he regarded
him attentively.

'It was begun' said Carker'before my twenty-first birthday - led
up tolong beforebut not begun till near that time. I had robbed
them when I came of age. I robbed them afterwards. Before my
twenty-second birthdayit was all found out; and thenWalterfrom
all men's societyI died.'

Again his last few words hung trembling upon Walter's lipsbut he
could neither utter themnor any of his own.

'The House was very good to me. May Heaven reward the old man for
his forbearance! This onetoohis sonwho was then newly in the
Firmwhere I had held great trust! I was called into that room which
is now his - I have never entered it since - and came outwhat you
know me. For many years I sat in my present seatalone as nowbut
then a known and recognised example to the rest. They were all
merciful to meand I lived. Time has altered that part of my poor
expiation; and I thinkexcept the three heads of the Housethere is
no one here who knows my story rightly. Before the little boy grows
upand has it told to himmy corner may be vacant. I would rather
that it might be so! This is the only change to me since that day
when I left all youthand hopeand good men's companybehind me in


that room. God bless youWalter! Keep youand all dear to youin
honestyor strike them dead!'

Some recollection of his trembling from head to footas if with
excessive coldand of his bursting into tearswas all that Walter
could add to thiswhen he tried to recall exactly what had passed
between them.

When Walter saw him nexthe was bending over his desk in his old
silentdroopinghumbled way. Thenobserving him at his workand
feeling how resolved he evidently was that no further intercourse
should arise between themand thinking again and again on all he had
seen and heard that morning in so short a timein connexion with the
history of both the CarkersWalter could hardly believe that he was
under orders for the West Indiesand would soon be lost to Uncle Sol
and Captain Cuttleand to glimpses few and far between of Florence
Dombey - nohe meant Paul - and to all he lovedand likedand
looked forin his daily life.

But it was trueand the news had already penetrated to the outer
office; for while he sat with a heavy heartpondering on these
thingsand resting his head upon his armPerch the messenger
descending from his mahogany bracketand jogging his elbowbegged
his pardonbut wished to say in his earDid he think he could
arrange to send home to England a jar of preserved Gingercheapfor
Mrs Perch's own eatingin the course of her recovery from her next
confinement?

CHAPTER 14.

Paul grows more and more Old-fashionedand goes Home for the Holidays

When the Midsummer vacation approachedno indecent manifestations
of joy were exhibited by the leaden-eyed young gentlemen assembled at
Doctor Blimber's. Any such violent expression as 'breaking up' would
have been quite inapplicable to that polite establishment. The young
gentlemen oozed awaysemi-annuallyto their own homes; but they
never broke up. They would have scorned the action.

Tozerwho was constantly galled and tormented by a starched white
cambric neckerchiefwhich he wore at the express desire of Mrs Tozer
his parentwhodesigning him for the Churchwas of opinion that he
couldn't be in that forward state of preparation too soon - Tozer
saidindeedthat choosing between two evilshe thought he would
rather stay where he wasthan go home. However inconsistent this
declaration might appear with that passage in Tozer's Essay on the
subjectwherein he had observed 'that the thoughts of home and all
its recollectionsawakened in his mind the most pleasing emotions of
anticipation and delight' and had also likened himself to a Roman
Generalflushed with a recent victory over the Icenior laden with
Carthaginian spoiladvancing within a few hours' march of the
Capitolpresupposedfor the purposes of the simileto be the
dwelling-place of Mrs Tozerstill it was very sincerely made. For it
seemed that Tozer had a dreadful Unclewho not only volunteered
examinations of himin the holidayson abstruse pointsbut twisted
innocent events and thingsand wrenched them to the same fell
purpose. So that if this Uncle took him to the Playoron a similar
pretence of kindnesscarried him to see a Giantor a Dwarfor a
Conjuroror anythingTozer knew he had read up some classical
allusion to the subject beforehandand was thrown into a state of


mortal apprehension: not foreseeing where he might break outor what
authority he might not quote against him.

As to Briggshis father made no show of artifice about it. He
never would leave him alone. So numerous and severe were the mental
trials of that unfortunate youth in vacation timethat the friends of
the family (then resident near BayswaterLondon) seldom approached
the ornamental piece of water in Kensington Gardens' without a vague
expectation of seeing Master Briggs's hat floating on the surfaceand
an unfinished exercise lying on the bank. Briggsthereforewas not
at all sanguine on the subject of holidays; and these two sharers of
little Paul's bedroom were so fair a sample of the young gentlemen in
generalthat the most elastic among them contemplated the arrival of
those festive periods with genteel resignation.

It was far otherwise with little Paul. The end of these first
holidays was to witness his separation from Florencebut who ever
looked forward to the end of holidays whose beginning was not yet
come! Not Paulassuredly. As the happy time drew nearthe lions and
tigers climbing up the bedroom walls became quite tame and frolicsome.
The grim sly faces in the squares and diamonds of the floor-cloth
relaxed and peeped out at him with less wicked eyes. The grave old
clock had more of personal interest in the tone of its formal inquiry;
and the restless sea went rolling on all nightto the sounding of a
melancholy strain - yet it was pleasant too - that rose and fell with
the wavesand rocked himas it wereto sleep.

Mr FeederB.A.seemed to think that hetoowould enjoy the
holidays very much. Mr Toots projected a life of holidays from that
time forth; foras he regularly informed Paul every dayit was his
'last half' at Doctor Blimber'sand he was going to begin to come
into his property directly.

It was perfectly understood between Paul and Mr Tootsthat they
were intimate friendsnotwithstanding their distance in point of
years and station. As the vacation approachedand Mr Toots breathed
harder and stared oftener in Paul's societythan he had done before
Paul knew that he meant he was sorry they were going to lose sight of
each otherand felt very much obliged to him for his patronage and
good opinion.

It was even understood by Doctor BlimberMrs Blimberand Miss
Blimberas well as by the young gentlemen in generalthat Toots had
somehow constituted himself protector and guardian of Dombeyand the
circumstance became so notoriouseven to Mrs Pipchinthat the good
old creature cherished feelings of bitterness and jealousy against
Toots; andin the sanctuary of her own homerepeatedly denounced him
as a 'chuckle-headed noodle.' Whereas the innocent Toots had no more
idea of awakening Mrs Pipchin's wraththan he had of any other
definite possibility or proposition. On the contraryhe was disposed
to consider her rather a remarkable characterwith many points of
interest about her. For this reason he smiled on her with so much
urbanityand asked her how she didso oftenin the course of her
visits to little Paulthat at last she one night told him plainly
she wasn't used to itwhatever he might think; and she could notand
she would not bear iteither from himself or any other puppy then
existing: at which unexpected acknowledgment of his civilitiesMr
Toots was so alarmed that he secreted himself in a retired spot until
she had gone. Nor did he ever again face the doughty Mrs Pipchin
under Doctor Blimber's roof.

They were within two or three weeks of the holidayswhenone day
Cornelia Blimber called Paul into her roomand said'DombeyI am
going to send home your analysis.'


'Thank youMa'am' returned Paul.

'You know what I meando youDombey?' inquired Miss Blimber
looking hard at himthrough the spectacles.

'NoMa'am' said Paul.

'DombeyDombey' said Miss Blimber'I begin to be afraid you are
a sad boy. When you don't know the meaning of an expressionwhy don't
you seek for information?'

'Mrs Pipchin told me I wasn't to ask questions' returned Paul.

'I must beg you not to mention Mrs Pipchin to meon any account
Dombey' returned Miss Blimber. 'I couldn't think of allowing it. The
course of study hereis very far removed from anything of that sort.
A repetition of such allusions would make it necessary for me to
request to hearwithout a mistakebefore breakfast-time to-morrow
morningfrom Verbum personale down to simillimia cygno.'

'I didn't meanMa'am - ' began little Paul.

'I must trouble you not to tell me that you didn't meanif you
pleaseDombey' said Miss Blimberwho preserved an awful politeness
in her admonitions. 'That is a line of argument I couldn't dream of
permitting.'

Paul felt it safest to say nothing at allso he only looked at
Miss Blimber's spectacles. Miss Blimber having shaken her head at him
gravelyreferred to a paper lying before her.

'"Analysis of the character of P. Dombey." If my recollection
serves me' said Miss Blimber breaking off'the word analysis as
opposed to synthesisis thus defined by Walker. "The resolution of an
objectwhether of the senses or of the intellectinto its first
elements." As opposed to synthesisyou observe. Now you know what
analysis isDombey.'

Dombey didn't seem to be absolutely blinded by the light let in
upon his intellectbut he made Miss Blimber a little bow.

'"Analysis' resumed Miss Blimber, casting her eye over the paper,
'of the character of P. Dombey." I find that the natural capacity of
Dombey is extremely good; and that his general disposition to study
may be stated in an equal ratio. Thustaking eight as our standard
and highest numberI find these qualities in Dombey stated each at
six three-fourths!'

Miss Blimber paused to see how Paul received this news. Being
undecided whether six three-fourths meant six pounds fifteenor
sixpence three farthingsor six foot threeor three quarters past
sixor six somethings that he hadn't learnt yetwith three unknown
something elses overPaul rubbed his hands and looked straight at
Miss Blimber. It happened to answer as well as anything else he could
have done; and Cornelia proceeded.

'"Violence two. Selfishness two. Inclination to low companyas
evinced in the case of a person named Glubboriginally sevenbut
since reduced. Gentlemanly demeanour fourand improving with
advancing years." Now what I particularly wish to call your attention
toDombeyis the general observation at the close of this analysis.'

Paul set himself to follow it with great care.


'"It may be generally observed of Dombey' said Miss Blimber,
reading in a loud voice, and at every second word directing her
spectacles towards the little figure before her: 'that his abilities
and inclinations are goodand that he has made as much progress as
under the circumstances could have been expected. But it is to be
lamented of this young gentleman that he is singular (what is usually
termed old-fashioned) in his character and conductand thatwithout
presenting anything in either which distinctly calls for reprobation
he is often very unlike other young gentlemen of his age and social
position." NowDombey' said Miss Blimberlaying down the paper'do
you understand that?'

'I think I doMa'am' said Paul.

'This analysisyou seeDombey' Miss Blimber continued'is going
to be sent home to your respected parent. It will naturally be very
painful to him to find that you are singular in your character and
conduct. It is naturally painful to us; for we can't like youyou
knowDombeyas well as we could wish.'

She touched the child upon a tender point. He had secretly become
more and more solicitous from day to dayas the time of his departure
drew more nearthat all the house should like him. From some hidden
reasonvery imperfectly understood by himself - if understood at all

-he felt a gradually increasing impulse of affectiontowards almost
everything and everybody in the place. He could not bear to think that
they would be quite indifferent to him when he was gone. He wanted
them to remember him kindly; and he had made it his business even to
conciliate a great hoarse shaggy dogchained up at the back of the
housewho had previously been the terror of his life: that even he
might miss him when he was no longer there.
Little thinking that in thishe only showed again the difference
between himself and his compeerspoor tiny Paul set it forth to Miss
Blimber as well as he couldand begged herin despite of the
official analysisto have the goodness to try and like him. To Mrs
Blimberwho had joined themhe preferred the same petition: and when
that lady could not forbeareven in his presencefrom giving
utterance to her often-repeated opinionthat he was an odd child
Paul told her that he was sure she was quite right; that he thought it
must be his bonesbut he didn't know; and that he hoped she would
overlook itfor he was fond of them all.

'Not so fond' said Paulwith a mixture of timidity and perfect
franknesswhich was one of the most peculiar and most engaging
qualities of the child'not so fond as I am of Florenceof course;
that could never be. You couldn't expect thatcould youMa'am?'

'Oh! the old-fashioned little soul!' cried Mrs Blimberin a
whisper.

'But I like everybody here very much' pursued Paul'and I should
grieve to go awayand think that anyone was glad that I was goneor
didn't care.'

Mrs Blimber was now quite sure that Paul was the oddest child in
the world; and when she told the Doctor what had passedthe Doctor
did not controvert his wife's opinion. But he saidas he had said
beforewhen Paul first camethat study would do much; and he also
saidas he had said on that occasion'Bring him onCornelia! Bring
him on!'

Cornelia had always brought him on as vigorously as she could; and


Paul had had a hard life of it. But over and above the getting through
his taskshe had long had another purpose always present to himand
to which he still held fast. It wasto be a gentleusefulquiet
little fellowalways striving to secure the love and attachment of
the rest; and though he was yet often to be seen at his old post on
the stairsor watching the waves and clouds from his solitary window
he was oftener foundtooamong the other boysmodestly rendering
them some little voluntary service. Thus it came to passthat even
among those rigid and absorbed young anchoriteswho mortified
themselves beneath the roof of Doctor BlimberPaul was an object of
general interest; a fragile little plaything that they all likedand
that no one would have thought of treating roughly. But he could not
change his natureor rewrite the analysis; and so they all agreed
that Dombey was old-fashioned.

There were some immunitieshoweverattaching to the character
enjoyed by no one else. They could have better spared a
newer-fashioned childand that alone was much. When the others only
bowed to Doctor Blimber and family on retiring for the nightPaul
would stretch out his morsel of a handand boldly shake the Doctor's;
also Mrs Blimber's; also Cornelia's. If anybody was to be begged off
from impending punishmentPaul was always the delegate. The weak-eyed
young man himself had once consulted himin reference to a little
breakage of glass and china. And it was darKly rumoured that the
butlerregarding him with favour such as that stern man had never
shown before to mortal boyhad sometimes mingled porter with his
table-beer to make him strong.

Over and above these extensive privilegesPaul had free right of
entry to Mr Feeder's roomfrom which apartment he had twice led Mr
Toots into the open air in a state of faintnessconsequent on an
unsuccessful attempt to smoke a very blunt cigar: one of a bundle
which that young gentleman had covertly purchased on the shingle from
a most desperate smugglerwho had acknowledgedin confidencethat
two hundred pounds was the price set upon his headdead or aliveby
the Custom House. It was a snug roomMr Feeder'swith his bed in
another little room inside of it; and a flutewhich Mr Feeder
couldn't play yetbut was going to make a point of learninghe said
hanging up over the fireplace. There were some books in ittooand a
fishing-rod; for Mr Feeder said he should certainly make a point of
learning to fishwhen he could find time. Mr Feeder had amassedwith
similar intentionsa beautiful little curly secondhand key-buglea
chess-board and mena Spanish Grammara set of sketching materials
and a pair of boxing-gloves. The art of self-defence Mr Feeder said he
should undoubtedly make a point of learningas he considered it the
duty of every man to do; for it might lead to the protection of a
female in distress. But Mr Feeder's great possession was a large green
jar of snuffwhich Mr Toots had brought down as a presentat the
close of the last vacation; and for which he had paid a high price
having been the genuine property of the Prince Regent. Neither Mr
Toots nor Mr Feeder could partake of this or any other snuffeven in
the most stinted and moderate degreewithout being seized with
convulsions of sneezing. Nevertheless it was their great delight to
moisten a box-full with cold teastir it up on a piece of parchment
with a paper-knifeand devote themselves to its consumption then and
there. In the course of which cramming of their nosesthey endured
surprising torments with the constancy of martyrs: anddrinking
table-beer at intervalsfelt all the glories of dissipation.

To little Paul sitting silent in their companyand by the side of
his chief patronMr Tootsthere was a dread charm in these reckless
occasions: and when Mr Feeder spoke of the dark mysteries of London
and told Mr Toots that he was going to observe it himself closely in
all its ramifications in the approaching holidaysand for that


purpose had made arrangements to board with two old maiden ladies at
PeckhamPaul regarded him as if he were the hero of some book of
travels or wild adventureand was almost afraid of such a slashing
person.

Going into this room one eveningwhen the holidays were very near
Paul found Mr Feeder filling up the blanks in some printed letters
while some othersalready filled up and strewn before himwere being
folded and sealed by Mr Toots. Mr Feeder said'AhaDombeythere you
areare you?' - for they were always kind to himand glad to see him

-and then saidtossing one of the letters towards him'And there
you aretooDombey. That's yours.'
'MineSir?' said Paul.

'Your invitation' returned Mr Feeder.

Paullooking at itfoundin copper-plate printwith the
exception of his own name and the datewhich were in Mr Feeder's
penmanshipthat Doctor and Mrs Blimber requested the pleasure of Mr

P. Dombey's company at an early party on Wednesday Evening the
Seventeenth Instant; and that the hour was half-past seven o'clock;
and that the object was Quadrilles. Mr Toots also showed himby
holding up a companion sheet of paperthat Doctor and Mrs Blimber
requested the pleasure of Mr Toots's company at an early party on
Wednesday Evening the Seventeenth Instantwhen the hour was half-past
seven o'clockand when the object was Quadrilles. He also foundon
glancing at the table where Mr Feeder satthat the pleasure of Mr
Briggs's companyand of Mr Tozer's companyand of every young
gentleman's companywas requested by Doctor and Mrs Blimber on the
same genteel Occasion.
Mr Feeder then told himto his great joythat his sister was
invitedand that it was a half-yearly eventand thatas the
holidays began that dayhe could go away with his sister after the
partyif he likedwhich Paul interrupted him to say he would like
very much. Mr Feeder then gave him to understand that he would be
expected to inform Doctor and Mrs Blimberin superfine small-hand
that Mr P. Dombey would be happy to have the honour of waiting on
themin accordance with their polite invitation. LastlyMr Feeder
saidhe had better not refer to the festive occasionin the hearing
of Doctor and Mrs Blimber; as these preliminariesand the whole of
the arrangementswere conducted on principles of classicality and
high breeding; and that Doctor and Mrs Blimber on the one handand
the young gentlemen on the otherwere supposedin their scholastic
capacitiesnot to have the least idea of what was in the wind.

Paul thanked Mr Feeder for these hintsand pocketing his
invitationsat down on a stool by the side of Mr Tootsas usual. But
Paul's headwhich had long been ailing more or lessand was
sometimes very heavy and painfulfelt so uneasy that nightthat he
was obliged to support it on his hand. And yet it dropped sothat by
little and little it sunk on Mr Toots's kneeand rested thereas if
it had no care to be ever lifted up again.

That was no reason why he should be deaf; but he must have beenhe
thoughtforby and byhe heard Mr Feeder calling in his earand
gently shaking him to rouse his attention. And when he raised his
headquite scaredand looked about himhe found that Doctor Blimber
had come into the room; and that the window was openand that his
forehead was wet with sprinkled water; though how all this had been
done without his knowledgewas very curious indeed.

'Ah! Comecome! That's well! How is my little friend now?' said


Doctor Blimberencouragingly.

'Ohquite wellthank youSir' said Paul.

But there seemed to be something the matter with the floorfor he
couldn't stand upon it steadily; and with the walls toofor they were
inclined to turn round and roundand could only be stopped by being
looked at very hard indeed. Mr Toots's head had the appearance of
being at once bigger and farther off than was quite natural; and when
he took Paul in his armsto carry him upstairsPaul observed with
astonishment that the door was in quite a different place from that in
which he had expected to find itand almost thoughtat firstthat
Mr Toots was going to walk straight up the chimney.

It was very kind of Mr Toots to carry him to the top of the house
so tenderly; and Paul told him that it was. But Mr Toots said he would
do a great deal more than thatif he could; and indeed he did more as
it was: for he helped Paul to undressand helped him to bedin the
kindest manner possibleand then sat down by the bedside and chuckled
very much; while Mr FeederB.A.leaning over the bottom of the
bedsteadset all the little bristles on his head bolt upright with
his bony handsand then made believe to spar at Paul with great
scienceon account of his being all right againwhich was so
uncommonly facetiousand kind too in Mr Feederthat Paulnot being
able to make up his mind whether it was best to laugh or cry at him
did both at once.

How Mr Toots melted awayand Mr Feeder changed into Mrs Pipchin
Paul never thought of asking; neither was he at all curious to know;
but when he saw Mrs Pipchin standing at the bottom of the bedinstead
of Mr Feederhe cried out'Mrs Pipchindon't tell Florence!'

'Don't tell Florence whatmy little Paul?' said Mrs Pipchin
coming round to the bedsideand sitting down in the chair.

'About me' said Paul.

'Nono' said Mrs Pipchin.

'What do you think I mean to do when I grow upMrs Pipchin?'
inquired Paulturning his face towards her on his pillowand resting
his chin wistfully on his folded hands.

Mrs Pipchin couldn't guess.

'I mean' said Paul'to put my money all together in one Bank
never try to get any morego away into the country with my darling
Florencehave a beautiful gardenfieldsand woodsand live there
with her all my life!'

'Indeed!' cried Mrs Pipchin.

'Yes' said Paul. 'That's what I mean to dowhen I - ' He stopped
and pondered for a moment.

Mrs Pipchin's grey eye scanned his thoughtful face.

'If I grow up' said Paul. Then he went on immediately to tell Mrs
Pipchin all about the partyabout Florence's invitationabout the
pride he would have in the admiration that would be felt for her by
all the boysabout their being so kind to him and fond of himabout
his being so fond of themand about his being so glad of it. Then he
told Mrs Pipchin about the analysisand about his being certainly
old-fashionedand took Mrs Pipchin's opinion on that pointand


whether she knew why it wasand what it meant. Mrs Pipchin denied the
fact altogetheras the shortest way of getting out of the difficulty;
but Paul was far from satisfied with that replyand looked so
searchingly at Mrs Pipchin for a truer answerthat she was obliged to
get up and look out of the window to avoid his eyes.

There was a certain calm Apothecary'who attended at the
establishment when any of the young gentlemen were illand somehow he
got into the room and appeared at the bedsidewith Mrs Blimber. How
they came thereor how long they had been therePaul didn't know;
but when he saw themhe sat up in bedand answered all the
Apothecary's questions at full lengthand whispered to him that
Florence was not to know anything about itif he pleasedand that he
had set his mind upon her coming to the party. He was very chatty with
the Apothecaryand they parted excellent friends. Lying down again
with his eyes shuthe heard the Apothecary sayout of the room and
quite a long way off - or he dreamed it - that there was a want of
vital power (what was thatPaul wondered!) and great constitutional
weakness. That as the little fellow had set his heart on parting with
his school-mates on the seventeenthit would be better to indulge the
fancy if he grew no worse. That he was glad to hear from Mrs Pipchin
that the little fellow would go to his friends in London on the
eighteenth. That he would write to Mr Dombeywhen he should have
gained a better knowledge of the caseand before that day. That there
was no immediate cause for - what? Paul lost that word And that the
little fellow had a fine mindbut was an old-fashioned boy.

What old fashion could that bePaul wondered with a palpitating
heartthat was so visibly expressed in him; so plainly seen by so
many people!

He could neither make it outnor trouble himself long with the
effort. Mrs Pipchin was again beside himif she had ever been away
(he thought she had gone out with the Doctorbut it was all a dream
perhaps)and presently a bottle and glass got into her hands
magicallyand she poured out the contents for him. After thathe had
some real good jellywhich Mrs Blimber brought to him herself; and
then he was so wellthat Mrs Pipchin went homeat his urgent
solicitationand Briggs and Tozer came to bed. Poor Briggs grumbled
terribly about his own analysiswhich could hardly have discomposed
him more if it had been a chemical process; but he was very good to
Pauland so was Tozerand so were all the restfor they every one
looked in before going to bedand said'How are you nowDombey?'
'Cheer uplittle Dombey!' and so forth. After Briggs had got into
bedhe lay awake for a long timestill bemoaning his analysisand
saying he knew it was all wrongand they couldn't have analysed a
murderer worseand - how would Doctor Blimber like it if his
pocket-money depended on it? It was very easyBriggs saidto make a
galley-slave of a boy all the half-yearand then score him up idle;
and to crib two dinners a-week out of his boardand then score him up
greedy; but that wasn't going to be submitted tohe believedwas it?
Oh! Ah!

Before the weak-eyed young man performed on the gong next morning
he came upstairs to Paul and told him he was to lie stillwhich Paul
very gladly did. Mrs Pipchin reappeared a little before the
Apothecaryand a little after the good young woman whom Paul had seen
cleaning the stove on that first morning (how long ago it seemed now!)
had brought him his breakfast. There was another consultation a long
way offor else Paul dreamed it again; and then the Apothecary
coming back with Doctor and Mrs Blimbersaid:

'YesI thinkDoctor Blimberwe may release this young gentleman
from his books just now; the vacation being so very near at hand.'


'By all means' said Doctor Blimber. 'My loveyou will inform
Corneliaif you please.'

'Assuredly' said Mrs Blimber.

The Apothecary bending downlooked closely into Paul's eyesand
felt his headand his pulseand his heartwith so much interest and
carethat Paul said'Thank youSir.'

'Our little friend' observed Doctor Blimber'has never
complained.'

'Oh no!' replied the Apothecary. 'He was not likely to complain.'

'You find him greatly better?' said Doctor Blimber.

'Oh! he is greatly betterSir' returned the Apothecary.

Paul had begun to speculatein his own odd wayon the subject
that might occupy the Apothecary's mind just at that moment; so
musingly had he answered the two questions of Doctor Blimber. But the
Apothecary happening to meet his little patient's eyesas the latter
set off on that mental expeditionand coming instantly out of his
abstraction with a cheerful smilePaul smiled in return and abandoned
it.

He lay in bed all that daydozing and dreamingand looking at Mr
Toots; but got up on the nextand went downstairs. Lo and behold
there was something the matter with the great clock; and a workman on
a pair of steps had taken its face offand was poking instruments
into the works by the light of a candle! This was a great event for
Paulwho sat down on the bottom stairand watched the operation
attentively: now and then glancing at the clock faceleaning all
askewagainst the wall hard byand feeling a little confused by a
suspicion that it was ogling him.

The workman on the steps was very civil; and as he saidwhen he
observed Paul'How do you doSir?' Paul got into conversation with
himand told him he hadn't been quite well lately. The ice being thus
brokenPaul asked him a multitude of questions about chimes and
clocks: aswhether people watched up in the lonely church steeples by
night to make them strikeand how the bells were rung when people
diedand whether those were different bells from wedding bellsor
only sounded dismal in the fancies of the living. Finding that his new
acquaintance was not very well informed on the subject of the Curfew
Bell of ancient daysPaul gave him an account of that institution;
and also asked himas a practical manwhat he thought about King
Alfred's idea of measuring time by the burning of candles; to which
the workman repliedthat he thought it would be the ruin of the clock
trade if it was to come up again. In finePaul looked onuntil the
clock had quite recovered its familiar aspectand resumed its sedate
inquiry; when the workmanputting away his tools in a long basket
bade him good dayand went away. Though not before he had whispered
somethingon the door-matto the footmanin which there was the
phrase 'old-fashioned' - for Paul heard it. What could that old
fashion bethat seemed to make the people sorry! What could it be!

Having nothing to learn nowhe thought of this frequently; though
not so often as he might have doneif he had had fewer things to
think of. But he had a great many; and was always thinkingall day
long.

Firstthere was Florence coming to the party. Florence would see


that the boys were fond of him; and that would make her happy. This
was his great theme. Let Florence once be sure that they were gentle
and good to himand that he had become a little favourite among them
and then the would always think of the time he had passed there
without being very sorry. Florence might be all the happier too for
thatperhapswhen he came back.

When he came back! Fifty times a dayhis noiseless little feet
went up the stairs to his own roomas he collected every bookand
scrapand trifle that belonged to himand put them all together
theredown to the minutest thingfor taking home! There was no shade
of coming back on little Paul; no preparation for itor other
reference to itgrew out of anything he thought or didexcept this
slight one in connexion with his sister. On the contraryhe had to
think of everything familiar to himin his contemplative moods and in
his wanderings about the houseas being to be parted with; and hence
the many things he had to think ofall day long.

He had to peep into those rooms upstairsand think how solitary
they would be when he was goneand wonder through how many silent
daysweeksmonthsand yearsthey would continue just as grave and
undisturbed. He had to think - would any other child (old-fashioned
like himself stray there at any timeto whom the same grotesque
distortions of pattern and furniture would manifest themselves; and
would anybody tell that boy of little Dombeywho had been there once?
He had to think of a portrait on the stairswhich always looked
earnestly after him as he went awayeyeing it over his shoulder; and
whichwhen he passed it in the company of anyonestill seemed to
gaze at himand not at his companion. He had much to think ofin
association with a print that hung up in another placewherein the
centre of a wondering groupone figure that he knewa figure with a
light about its head - benignantmildand merciful - stood pointing
upward.

At his own bedroom windowthere were crowds of thoughts that mixed
with theseand came onone upon anotherlike the rolling waves.
Where those wild birds livedthat were always hovering out at sea in
troubled weather; where the clouds rose and first began; whence the
wind issued on its rushing flightand where it stopped; whether the
spot where he and Florence had so often satand watchedand talked
about these thingscould ever be exactly as it used to be without
them; whether it could ever be the same to Florenceif he were in
some distant placeand she were sitting there alone.

He had to thinktooof Mr Tootsand Mr FeederB.A.of all the
boys; and of Doctor BlimberMrs Blimberand Miss Blimber; of home
and of his aunt and Miss Tox; of his father; Dombey and SonWalter
with the poor old Uncle who had got the money he wantedand that
gruff-voiced Captain with the iron hand. Besides all thishe had a
number of little visits to payin the course of the day; to the
schoolroomto Doctor Blimber's studyto Mrs Blimber's private
apartmentto Miss Blimber'sand to the dog. For he was free of the
whole house nowto range it as he chose; andin his desire to part
with everybody on affectionate termshe attendedin his wayto them
all. Sometimes he found places in books for Briggswho was always
losing them; sometimes he looked up words in dictionaries for other
young gentlemen who were in extremity; sometimes he held skeins of
silk for Mrs Blimber to wind; sometimes he put Cornelia's desk to
rights; sometimes he would even creep into the Doctor's studyand
sitting on the carpet near his learned feetturn the globes softly
and go round the worldor take a flight among the far-off stars.

In those days immediately before the holidaysin shortwhen the
other young gentlemen were labouring for dear life through a general


resumption of the studies of the whole half-yearPaul was such a
privileged pupil as had never been seen in that house before. He could
hardly believe it himself; but his liberty lasted from hour to hour
and from day to day; and little Dombey was caressed by everyone.
Doctor Blimber was so particular about himthat he requested Johnson
to retire from the dinner-table one dayfor having thoughtlessly
spoken to him as 'poor little Dombey;' which Paul thought rather hard
and severethough he had flushed at the momentand wondered why
Johnson should pity him. It was the more questionable justicePaul
thoughtin the Doctorfrom his having certainly overheard that great
authority give his assent on the previous eveningto the proposition
(stated by Mrs Blimber) that poor dear little Dombey was more
old-fashioned than ever. And now it was that Paul began to think it
must surely be old-fashioned to be very thinand lightand easily
tiredand soon disposed to lie down anywhere and rest; for he
couldn't help feeling that these were more and more his habits every
day.

At last the party-day arrived; and Doctor Blimber said at
breakfast'Gentlemenwe will resume our studies on the twenty-fifth
of next month.' Mr Toots immediately threw off his allegianceand put
on his ring: and mentioning the Doctor in casual conversation shortly
afterwardsspoke of him as 'Blimber'! This act of freedom inspired
the older pupils with admiration and envy; but the younger spirits
were appalledand seemed to marvel that no beam fell down and crushed
him.

Not the least allusion was made to the ceremonies of the evening
either at breakfast or at dinner; but there was a bustle in the house
all dayand in the course of his perambulationsPaul made
acquaintance with various strange benches and candlesticksand met a
harp in a green greatcoat standing on the landing outside the
drawing-room door. There was something queertooabout Mrs Blimber's
head at dinner-timeas if she had screwed her hair up too tight; and
though Miss Blimber showed a graceful bunch of plaited hair on each
templeshe seemed to have her own little curls in paper underneath
and in a play-bill too; for Paul read 'Theatre Royal' over one of her
sparkling spectaclesand 'Brighton' over the other.

There was a grand array of white waistcoats and cravats in the
young gentlemen's bedrooms as evening approached; and such a smell of
singed hairthat Doctor Blimber sent up the footman with his
complimentsand wished to know if the house was on fire. But it was
only the hairdresser curling the young gentlemenand over-heating his
tongs in the ardour of business.

When Paul was dressed - which was very soon donefor he felt
unwell and drowsyand was not able to stand about it very long - he
went down into the drawing-room; where he found Doctor Blimber pacing
up and down the room full dressedbut with a dignified and
unconcerned demeanouras if he thought it barely possible that one or
two people might drop in by and by. Shortly afterwardsMrs Blimber
appearedlooking lovelyPaul thought; and attired in such a number
of skirts that it was quite an excursion to walk round her. Miss
Blimber came down soon after her Mama; a little squeezed in
appearancebut very charming.

Mr Toots and Mr Feeder were the next arrivals. Each of these
gentlemen brought his hat in his handas if he lived somewhere else;
and when they were announced by the butlerDoctor Blimber said'Ay
ayay! God bless my soul!' and seemed extremely glad to see them. Mr
Toots was one blaze of jewellery and buttons; and he felt the
circumstance so stronglythat when he had shaken hands with the
Doctorand had bowed to Mrs Blimber and Miss Blimberhe took Paul


asideand said'What do you think of thisDombey?'

But notwithstanding this modest confidence in himselfMr Toots
appeared to be involved in a good deal of uncertainty whetheron the
wholeit was judicious to button the bottom button of his waistcoat
and whetheron a calm revision of all the circumstancesit was best
to wear his waistbands turned up or turned down. Observing that Mr
Feeder's were turned upMr Toots turned his up; but the waistbands of
the next arrival being turned downMr Toots turned his down. The
differences in point of waistcoat-buttoningnot only at the bottom
but at the top toobecame so numerous and complicated as the arrivals
thickenedthat Mr Toots was continually fingering that article of
dressas if he were performing on some instrument; and appeared to
find the incessant execution it demandedquite bewildering. All the
young gentlementightly cravattedcurledand pumpedand with their
best hats in their handshaving been at different times announced and
introducedMr Bapsthe dancing-mastercameaccompanied by Mrs
Bapsto whom Mrs Blimber was extremely kind and condescending. Mr
Baps was a very grave gentlemanwith a slow and measured manner of
speaking; and before he had stood under the lamp five minuteshe
began to talk to Toots (who had been silently comparing pumps with
him) about what you were to do with your raw materials when they came
into your ports in return for your drain of gold. Mr Tootsto whom
the question seemed perplexingsuggested 'Cook 'em.' But Mr Baps did
not appear to think that would do.

Paul now slipped away from the cushioned corner of a sofawhich
had been his post of observationand went downstairs into the
tea-room to be ready for Florencewhom he had not seen for nearly a
fortnightas he had remained at Doctor Blimber's on the previous
Saturday and Sundaylest he should take cold. Presently she came:
looking so beautiful in her simple ball dresswith her fresh flowers
in her handthat when she knelt down on the ground to take Paul round
the neck and kiss him (for there was no one therebut his friend and
another young woman waiting to serve out the tea)he could hardly
make up his mind to let her go againor to take away her bright and
loving eyes from his face.

'But what is the matterFloy?' asked Paulalmost sure that he saw
a tear there.

'Nothingdarling; nothing' returned Florence.

Paul touched her cheek gently with his finger - and it was a tear!
'WhyFloy!' said he.

'We'll go home togetherand I'll nurse youlove' said Florence.

'Nurse me!' echoed Paul.

Paul couldn't understand what that had to do with itnor why the
two young women looked on so seriouslynor why Florence turned away
her face for a momentand then turned it backlighted up again with
smiles.

'Floy' said Paulholding a ringlet of her dark hair in his hand.
'Tell medearDo you think I have grown old-fashioned?'

His sister laughedand fondled himand told him 'No.'

'Because I know they say so' returned Paul'and I want to know
what they meanFloy.' But a loud double knock coming at the doorand
Florence hurrying to the tablethere was no more said between them.
Paul wondered again when he saw his friend whisper to Florenceas if


she were comforting her; but a new arrival put that out of his head
speedily.

It was Sir Barnet SkettlesLady Skettlesand Master Skettles.
Master Skettles was to be a new boy after the vacationand Fame had
been busyin Mr Feeder's roomwith his fatherwho was in the House
of Commonsand of whom Mr Feeder had said that when he did catch the
Speaker's eye (which he had been expected to do for three or four
years)it was anticipated that he would rather touch up the Radicals.

'And what room is this nowfor instance?' said Lady Skettles to
Paul's friend'Melia.

'Doctor Blimber's studyMa'am' was the reply.

Lady Skettles took a panoramic survey of it through her glassand
said to Sir Barnet Skettleswith a nod of approval'Very good.' Sir
Barnet assentedbut Master Skettles looked suspicious and doubtful.

'And this little creaturenow' said Lady Skettlesturning to
Paul. 'Is he one of the

'Young gentlemenMa'am; yesMa'am' said Paul's friend.

'And what is your namemy pale child?' said Lady Skettles.

'Dombey' answered Paul.

Sir Barnet Skettles immediately interposedand said that he had
had the honour of meeting Paul's father at a public dinnerand that
he hoped he was very well. Then Paul heard him say to Lady Skettles
'City - very rich - most respectable - Doctor mentioned it.' And then
he said to Paul'Will you tell your good Papa that Sir Barnet
Skettles rejoiced to hear that he was very welland sent him his best
compliments?'

'YesSir' answered Paul.

'That is my brave boy' said Sir Barnet Skettles. 'Barnet' to
Master Skettleswho was revenging himself for the studies to comeon
the plum-cake'this is a young gentleman you ought to know. This is a
young gentleman you may knowBarnet' said Sir Barnet Skettleswith
an emphasis on the permission.

'What eyes! What hair! What a lovely face!' exclaimed Lady Skettles
softlyas she looked at Florence through her glass. 'My sister' said
Paulpresenting her.

The satisfaction of the Skettleses was now complex And as Lady
Skettles had conceivedat first sighta liking for Paulthey all
went upstairs together: Sir Barnet Skettles taking care of Florence
and young Barnet following.

Young Barnet did not remain long in the background after they had
reached the drawing-roomfor Dr Blimber had him out in no time
dancing with Florence. He did not appear to Paul to be particularly
happyor particularly anything but sulkyor to care much what he was
about; but as Paul heard Lady Skettles say to Mrs Blimberwhile she
beat time with her fanthat her dear boy was evidently smitten to
death by that angel of a childMiss Dombeyit would seem that
Skettles Junior was in a state of blisswithout showing it.

Little Paul thought it a singular coincidence that nobody had
occupied his place among the pillows; and that when he came into the


room againthey should all make way for him to go back to it
remembering it was his. Nobody stood before him eitherwhen they
observed that he liked to see Florence dancingbut they left the
space in front quite clearso that he might follow her with his eyes.
They were so kindtooeven the strangersof whom there were soon a
great manythat they came and spoke to him every now and thenand
asked him how he wasand if his head achedand whether he was tired.
He was very much obliged to them for all their kindness and attention
and reclining propped up in his cornerwith Mrs Blimber and Lady
Skettles on the same sofaand Florence coming and sitting by his side
as soon as every dance was endedhe looked on very happily indeed.

Florence would have sat by him all nightand would not have danced
at all of her own accordbut Paul made herby telling her how much
it pleased him. And he told her the truthtoo; for his small heart
swelledand his face glowedwhen he saw how much they all admired
herand how she was the beautiful little rosebud of the room.

From his nest among the pillowsPaul could see and hear almost
everything that passed as if the whole were being done for his
amusement. Among other little incidents that he observedhe observed
Mr Baps the dancing-master get into conversation with Sir Barnet
Skettlesand very soon ask himas he had asked Mr Tootswhat you
were to do with your raw materialswhen they came into your ports in
return for your drain of gold - which was such a mystery to Paul that
he was quite desirous to know what ought to be done with them. Sir
Barnet Skettles had much to say upon the questionand said it; but it
did not appear to solve the questionfor Mr Baps retortedYesbut
supposing Russia stepped in with her tallows; which struck Sir Barnet
almost dumbfor he could only shake his head after thatand sayWhy
then you must fall back upon your cottonshe supposed.

Sir Barnet Skettles looked after Mr Baps when he went to cheer up
Mrs Baps (whobeing quite desertedwas pretending to look over the
music-book of the gentleman who played the harp)as if he thought him
a remarkable kind of man; and shortly afterwards he said so in those
words to Doctor Blimberand inquired if he might take the liberty of
asking who he wasand whether he had ever been in the Board of Trade.
Doctor Blimber answered nohe believed not; and that in fact he was a
Professor of - '

'Of something connected with statisticsI'll swear?' observed Sir
Barnet Skettles.

'Why noSir Barnet' replied Doctor Blimberrubbing his chin.
'Nonot exactly.'

'Figures of some sortI would venture a bet' said Sir Barnet
Skettles.

'Why yes' said Doctor Blimberyesbut not of that sort. Mr Baps
is a very worthy sort of manSir Barnetand - in fact he's our
Professor of dancing.'

Paul was amazed to see that this piece of information quite altered
Sir Barnet Skettles's opinion of Mr Bapsand that Sir Barnet flew
into a perfect rageand glowered at Mr Baps over on the other side of
the room. He even went so far as to D Mr Baps to Lady Skettlesin
telling her what had happenedand to say that it was like his most
con-sum-mate and con-foun-ded impudence.

There was another thing that Paul observed. Mr Feederafter
imbibing several custard-cups of negusbegan to enjoy himself. The
dancing in general was ceremoniousand the music rather solemn - a


little like church music in fact - but after the custard-cupsMr
Feeder told Mr Toots that he was going to throw a little spirit into
the thing. After thatMr Feeder not only began to dance as if he
meant dancing and nothing elsebut secretly to stimulate the music to
perform wild tunes. Furtherhe became particular in his attentions to
the ladies; and dancing with Miss Blimberwhispered to her whispered
to her! - though not so softly but that Paul heard him say
this remarkable poetry

'Had I a heart for falsehood framed

I ne'er could injure You!'
ThisPaul heard him repeat to four young ladiesin succession. Well
might Mr Feeder say to Mr Tootsthat he was afraid he should be the
worse for it to-morrow!

Mrs Blimber was a little alarmed by this - comparatively speaking profligate
behaviour; and especially by the alteration in the
character of the musicwhichbeginning to comprehend low melodies
that were popular in the streetsmight not unnaturally be supposed to
give offence to Lady Skettles. But Lady Skettles was so very kind as
to beg Mrs Blimber not to mention it; and to receive her explanation
that Mr Feeder's spirits sometimes betrayed him into excesses on these
occasionswith the greatest courtesy and politeness; observingthat
he seemed a very nice sort of person for his situationand that she
particularly liked the unassuming style of his hair - which (as
already hinted) was about a quarter of an inch long.

Oncewhen there was a pause in the dancingLady Skettles told
Paul that he seemed very fond of music. Paul repliedthat he was; and
if she was tooshe ought to hear his sisterFlorencesing. Lady
Skettles presently discovered that she was dying with anxiety to have
that gratification; and though Florence was at first very much
frightened at being asked to sing before so many peopleand begged
earnestly to be excusedyeton Paul calling her to himand saying
'DoFloy! Please! For memy dear!' she went straight to the piano
and began. When they all drew a little awaythat Paul might see her;
and when he saw her sitting there all aloneso youngand goodand
beautifuland kind to him; and heard her thrilling voiceso natural
and sweetand such a golden link between him and all his life's love
and happinessrising out of the silence; he turned his face awayand
hid his tears. Notas he told them when they spoke to himnot that
the music was too plaintive or too sorrowfulbut it was so dear to
him.

They all loved Florence. How could they help it! Paul had known
beforehand that they must and would; and sitting in his cushioned
cornerwith calmly folded hands; and one leg loosely doubled under
himfew would have thought what triumph and delight expanded his
childish bosom while he watched heror what a sweet tranquillity he
felt. Lavish encomiums on 'Dombey's sister' reached his ears from all
the boys: admiration of the self-possessed and modest little beauty
was on every lip: reports of her intelligence and accomplishments
floated past himconstantly; andas if borne in upon the air of the
summer nightthere was a half intelligible sentiment diffused around
referring to Florence and himselfand breathing sympathy for both
that soothed and touched him.

He did not know why. For all that the child observedand feltand
thoughtthat night - the present and the absent; what was then and
what had been - were blended like the colours in the rainbowor in
the plumage of rich birds when the sun is shining on themor in the
softening sky when the same sun is setting. The many things he had had
to think of latelypassed before him in the music; not as claiming


his attention over againor as likely evermore to occupy itbut as
peacefully disposed of and gone. A solitary windowgazed through
years agolooked out upon an oceanmiles and miles away; upon its
watersfanciesbusy with him only yesterdaywere hushed and lulled
to rest like broken waves. The same mysterious murmur he had wondered
atwhen lying on his couch upon the beachhe thought he still heard
sounding through his sister's songand through the hum of voicesand
the tread of feetand having some part in the faces flitting byand
even in the heavy gentleness of Mr Tootswho frequently came up to
shake him by the hand. Through the universal kindness he still thought
he heard itspeaking to him; and even his old-fashioned reputation
seemed to be allied to ithe knew not how. Thus little Paul sat
musinglisteninglooking onand dreaming; and was very happy.

Until the time arrived for taking leave: and thenindeedthere
was a sensation in the party. Sir Barnet Skettles brought up Skettles
Junior to shake hands with himand asked him if he would remember to
tell his good Papawith his best complimentsthat heSir Barnet
Skettleshad said he hoped the two young gentlemen would become
intimately acquainted. Lady Skettles kissed himand patted his hair
upon his browand held him in her arms; and even Mrs Baps - poor Mrs
Baps! Paul was glad of that - came over from beside the music-book of
the gentleman who played the harpand took leave of him quite as
heartily as anybody in the room.

'Good-byeDoctor Blimber' said Paulstretching out his hand.

'Good-byemy little friend' returned the Doctor.

'I'm very much obliged to youSir' said Paullooking innocently
up into his awful face. 'Ask them to take care of Diogenesif you
please.'

Diogenes was the dog: who had never in his life received a friend
into his confidencebefore Paul. The Doctor promised that every
attention should he paid to Diogenes in Paul's absenceand Paul
having again thanked himand shaken hands with himbade adieu to Mrs
Blimber and Cornelia with such heartfelt earnestness that Mrs Blimber
forgot from that moment to mention Cicero to Lady Skettlesthough she
had fully intended it all the evening. Corneliataking both Paul's
hands in herssaid'DombeyDombeyyou have always been my favourite
pupil. God bless you!' And it showedPaul thoughthow easily one
might do injustice to a person; for Miss Blimber meant it - though she
was a Forcer - and felt it.

A boy then went round among the young gentlemenof 'Dombey's
going!' 'Little Dombey's going!' and there was a general move after
Paul and Florence down the staircase and into the hallin which the
whole Blimber family were included. Such a circumstanceMr Feeder
said aloudas had never happened in the case of any former young
gentleman within his experience; but it would be difficult to say if
this were sober fact or custard-cups. The servantswith the butler at
their headhad all an interest in seeing Little Dombey go; and even
the weak-eyed young mantaking out his books and trunks to the coach
that was to carry him and Florence to Mrs Pipchin's for the night
melted visibly.

Not even the influence of the softer passion on the young gentlemen

-and they allto a boydoted on Florence - could restrain them from
taking quite a noisy leave of Paul; waving hats after himpressing
downstairs to shake hands with himcrying individually 'Dombeydon't
forget me!' and indulging in many such ebullitions of feeling
uncommon among those young Chesterfields. Paul whispered Florenceas
she wrapped him up before the door was openedDid she hear them?

Would she ever forget it? Was she glad to know it? And a lively
delight was in his eyes as he spoke to her.


Oncefor a last lookhe turned and gazed upon the faces thus
addressed to himsurprised to see how shining and how brightand
numerous they wereand how they were all piled and heaped upas
faces are at crowded theatres. They swam before him as he lookedlike
faces in an agitated glass; and next moment he was in the dark coach
outsideholding close to Florence. From that timewhenever he
thought of Doctor Blimber'sit came back as he had seen it in this
last view; and it never seemed to be a real place againbut always a
dreamfull of eyes.


This was not quite the last of Doctor Blimber'showever. There was
something else. There was Mr Toots. Whounexpectedly letting down one
of the coach-windowsand looking insaidwith a most egregious
chuckle'Is Dombey there?' and immediately put it up againwithout
waiting for an answer. Nor was this quite the last of Mr Tootseven;
for before the coachman could drive offhe as suddenly let down the
other windowand looking in with a precisely similar chucklesaid in
a precisely similar tone of voice'Is Dombey there?' and disappeared
precisely as before.


How Florence laughed! Paul often remembered itand laughed himself
whenever he did so.


But there was muchsoon afterwards - next dayand after that -
which Paul could only recollect confusedly. Aswhy they stayed at Mrs
Pipchin's days and nightsinstead of going home; why he lay in bed
with Florence sitting by his side; whether that had been his father in
the roomor only a tall shadow on the wall; whether he had heard his
doctor sayof someonethat if they had removed him before the
occasion on which he had built up fanciesstrong in proportion to his
own weaknessit was very possible he might have pined away.


He could not even remember whether he had often said to Florence
'Oh Floytake me homeand never leave me!' but he thought he had. He
fancied sometimes he had heard himself repeating'Take me homeFloy!
take me home!'


But he could rememberwhen he got homeand was carried up the
well-remembered stairsthat there had been the rumbling of a coach
for many hours togetherwhile he lay upon the seatwith Florence
still beside himand old Mrs Pipchin sitting opposite. He remembered
his old bed toowhen they laid him down in it: his auntMiss Tox
and Susan: but there was something elseand recent toothat still
perplexed him.


'I want to speak to Florenceif you please' he said. 'To Florence
by herselffor a moment!'


She bent down over himand the others stood away.


'Floymy petwasn't that Papa in the hallwhen they brought me
from the coach?'


'Yesdear.'


'He didn't cryand go into his roomFloydid hewhen he saw me
coming in?'


Florence shook her headand pressed her lips against his cheek.


'I'm very glad he didn't cry' said little Paul. 'I thought he did.



Don't tell them that I asked.'

CHAPTER 15.

Amazing Artfulness of Captain Cuttleand a new Pursuit for Walter Gay

Walter could notfor several daysdecide what to do in the
Barbados business; and even cherished some faint hope that Mr Dombey
might not have meant what he had saidor that he might change his
mindand tell him he was not to go. But as nothing occurred to give
this idea (which was sufficiently improbable in itself) any touch of
confirmationand as time was slipping byand he had none to losehe
felt that he must actwithout hesitating any longer.

Walter's chief difficulty washow to break the change in his
affairs to Uncle Solto whom he was sensible it would he a terrible
blow. He had the greater difficulty in dashing Uncle Sol's spirits
with such an astounding piece of intelligencebecause they had lately
recovered very muchand the old man had become so cheerfulthat the
little back parlour was itself again. Uncle Sol had paid the first
appointed portion of the debt to Mr Dombeyand was hopeful of working
his way through the rest; and to cast him down afreshwhen he had
sprung up so manfully from his troubleswas a very distressing
necessity.

Yet it would never do to run away from him. He must know of it
beforehand; and how to tell him was the point. As to the question of
going or not goingWalter did not consider that he had any power of
choice in the matter. Mr Dombey had truly told him that he was young
and that his Uncle's circumstances were not good; and Mr Dombey had
plainly expressedin the glance with which he had accompanied that
reminderthat if he declined to go he might stay at home if he chose
but not in his counting-house. His Uncle and he lay under a great
obligation to Mr Dombeywhich was of Walter's own soliciting. He
might have begun in secret to despair of ever winning that gentleman's
favourand might have thought that he was now and then disposed to
put a slight upon himwhich was hardly just. But what would have been
duty without thatwas still duty with it - or Walter thought so- and
duty must be done.

When Mr Dombey had looked at himand told him he was youngand
that his Uncle's circumstances were not goodthere had been an
expression of disdain in his face; a contemptuous and disparaging
assumption that he would be quite content to live idly on a reduced
old manwhich stung the boy's generous soul. Determined to assure Mr
Dombeyin so far as it was possible to give him the assurance without
expressing it in wordsthat indeed he mistook his natureWalter had
been anxious to show even more cheerfulness and activity after the
West Indian interview than he had shown before: if that were possible
in one of his quick and zealous disposition. He was too young and
inexperienced to thinkthat possibly this very quality in him was not
agreeable to Mr Dombeyand that it was no stepping-stone to his good
opinion to be elastic and hopeful of pleasing under the shadow of his
powerful displeasurewhether it were right or wrong. But it may have
been - it may have been- that the great man thought himself defied in
this new exposition of an honest spiritand purposed to bring it
down.

'Well! at last and at leastUncle Sol must be told' thought
Walterwith a sigh. And as Walter was apprehensive that his voice


might perhaps quaver a littleand that his countenance might not be
quite as hopeful as he could wish it to beif he told the old man
himselfand saw the first effects of his communication on his
wrinkled facehe resolved to avail himself of the services of that
powerful mediatorCaptain Cuttle. Sunday coming roundhe set off
thereforeafter breakfastonce more to beat up Captain Cuttle's
quarters.

It was not unpleasant to rememberon the way thitherthat Mrs
MacStinger resorted to a great distance every Sunday morningto
attend the ministry of the Reverend Melchisedech Howlerwhohaving
been one day discharged from the West India Docks on a false suspicion
(got up expressly against him by the general enemy) of screwing
gimlets into puncheonsand applying his lips to the orificehad
announced the destruction of the world for that day two yearsat ten
in the morningand opened a front parlour for the reception of ladies
and gentlemen of the Ranting persuasionupon whomon the first
occasion of their assemblagethe admonitions of the Reverend
Melchisedech had produced so powerful an effectthatin their
rapturous performance of a sacred jigwhich closed the servicethe
whole flock broke through into a kitchen belowand disabled a mangle
belonging to one of the fold.

This the Captainin a moment of uncommon convivialityhad
confided to Walter and his Unclebetween the repetitions of lovely
Pegon the night when Brogley the broker was paid out. The Captain
himself was punctual in his attendance at a church in his own
neighbourhoodwhich hoisted the Union Jack every Sunday morning; and
where he was good enough - the lawful beadle being infirm - to keep an
eye upon the boysover whom he exercised great powerin virtue of
his mysterious hook. Knowing the regularity of the Captain's habits
Walter made all the haste he couldthat he might anticipate his going
out; and he made such good speedthat he had the pleasureon turning
into Brig Placeto behold the broad blue coat and waistcoat hanging
out of the Captain's oPen windowto air in the sun.

It appeared incredible that the coat and waistcoat could be seen by
mortal eyes without the Captain; but he certainly was not in them
otherwise his legs - the houses in Brig Place not being lofty- would
have obstructed the street doorwhich was perfectly clear. Quite
wondering at this discoveryWalter gave a single knock.

'Stinger' he distinctly heard the Captain sayup in his roomas
if that were no business of his. Therefore Walter gave two knocks.

'Cuttle' he heard the Captain say upon that; and immediately
afterwards the Captainin his clean shirt and braceswith his
neckerchief hanging loosely round his throat like a coil of ropeand
his glazed hat onappeared at the windowleaning out over the broad
blue coat and waistcoat.

'Wal'r!' cried the Captainlooking down upon him in amazement.

'AyayCaptain Cuttle' returned Walter'only me'

'What's the mattermy lad?' inquired the Captainwith great
concern. 'Gills an't been and sprung nothing again?'

'Nono' said Walter. 'My Uncle's all rightCaptain Cuttle.'

The Captain expressed his gratificationand said he would come
down below and open the doorwhich he did.

'Though you're earlyWal'r' said the Captaineyeing him still


doubtfullywhen they got upstairs:

'Whythe fact isCaptain Cuttle' said Waltersitting down'I
was afraid you would have gone outand I want to benefit by your
friendly counsel.'

'So you shall' said the Captain; 'what'll you take?'

'I want to take your opinionCaptain Cuttle' returned Walter
smiling. 'That's the only thing for me.'

'Come on then' said the Captain. 'With a willmy lad!'

Walter related to him what had happened; and the difficulty in
which he felt respecting his Uncleand the relief it would be to him
if Captain Cuttlein his kindnesswould help him to smooth it away;
Captain Cuttle's infinite consternation and astonishment at the
prospect unfolded to himgradually swallowing that gentleman up
until it left his face quite vacantand the suit of bluethe glazed
hatand the hookapparently without an owner.

'You seeCaptain Cuttle' pursued Walter'for myselfI am young
as Mr Dombey saidand not to be considered. I am to fight my way
through the worldI know; but there are two points I was thinkingas
I came alongthat I should be very particular aboutin respect to my
Uncle. I don't mean to say that I deserve to be the pride and delight
of his life - you believe meI know - but I am. Nowdon't you think
I am?'

The Captain seemed to make an endeavour to rise from the depths of
his astonishmentand get back to his face; but the effort being
ineffectualthe glazed hat merely nodded with a muteunutterable
meaning.

'If I live and have my health' said Walter'and I am not afraid
of thatstillwhen I leave England I can hardly hope to see my Uncle
again. He is oldCaptain Cuttle; and besideshis life is a life of
custom - '

'SteadyWal'r! Of a want of custom?' said the Captainsuddenly
reappearing.

'Too true' returned Waltershaking his head: 'but I meant a life
of habitCaptain Cuttle - that sort of custom. And if (as you very
truly saidI am sure) he would have died the sooner for the loss of
the stockand all those objects to which he has been accustomed for
so many yearsdon't you think he might die a little sooner for the
loss of - '

'Of his Nevy' interposed the Captain. 'Right!'

'Well then' said Waltertrying to speak gaily'we must do our
best to make him believe that the separation is but a temporary one
after all; but as I know betteror dread that I know betterCaptain
Cuttleand as I have so many reasons for regarding him with
affectionand dutyand honourI am afraid I should make but a very
poor hand at thatif I tried to persuade him of it. That's my great
reason for wishing you to break it out to him; and that's the first
point.'

'Keep her off a point or so!' observed the Captainin a
comtemplative voice.

'What did you sayCaptain Cuttle?' inquired Walter.


'Stand by!' returned the Captainthoughtfully.

Walter paused to ascertain if the Captain had any particular
information to add to thisbut as he said no morewent on.

'Nowthe second pointCaptain Cuttle. I am sorry to sayI am not
a favourite with Mr Dombey. I have always tried to do my bestand I
have always done it; but he does not like me. He can't help his
likings and dislikingsperhaps. I say nothing of that. I only say
that I am certain he does not like me. He does not send me to this
post as a good one; he disclaims to represent it as being better than
it is; and I doubt very much if it will ever lead me to advancement in
the House - whether it does noton the contrarydispose of me for
everand put me out of the way. Nowwe must say nothing of this to
my UncleCaptain Cuttlebut must make it out to be as favourable and
promising as we can; and when I tell you what it really isI only do
sothat in case any means should ever arise of lending me a handso
far offI may have one friend at home who knows my real situation.

'Wal'rmy boy' replied the Captain'in the Proverbs of Solomon
you will find the following wordsMay we never want a friend in
need, nor a bottle to give him!When foundmake a note of.'

Here the Captain stretched out his hand to Walterwith an air of
downright good faith that spoke volumes; at the same time repeating
(for he felt proud of the accuracy and pointed application of his
quotation)'When foundmake a note of.'

'Captain Cuttle' said Waltertaking the immense fist extended to
him by the Captain in both his handswhich it completely fillednext
to my Uncle SolI love you. There is no one on earth in whom I can
more safely trustI am sure. As to the mere going awayCaptain
CuttleI don't care for that; why should I care for that! If I were
free to seek my own fortune - if I were free to go as a common sailor

-if I were free to venture on my own account to the farthest end of
the world - I would gladly go! I would have gladly goneyears ago
and taken my chance of what might come of it. But it was against my
Uncle's wishesand against the plans he had formed for me; and there
was an end of that. But what I feelCaptain Cuttleis that we have
been a little mistaken all alongand thatso far as any improvement
in my prospects is concernedI am no better off now than I was when I
first entered Dombey's House - perhaps a little worsefor the House
may have been kindly inclined towards me thenand it certainly is not
now.'
'Turn againWhittington' muttered the disconsolate Captainafter
looking at Walter for some time.

'Ay' replied Walterlaughing'and turn a great many timestoo
Captain CuttleI'm afraidbefore such fortune as his ever turns up
again. Not that I complain' he addedin his livelyanimated
energetic way. 'I have nothing to complain of. I am provided for. I
can live. When I leave my UncleI leave him to you; and I can leave
him to no one betterCaptain Cuttle. I haven't told you all this
because I despairnot I; it's to convince you that I can't pick and
choose in Dombey's Houseand that where I am sentthere I must go
and what I am offeredthat I must take. It's better for my Uncle that
I should be sent away; for Mr Dombey is a valuable friend to himas
he proved himselfyou know whenCaptain Cuttle; and I am persuaded
he won't be less valuable when he hasn't me thereevery dayto
awaken his dislike. So hurrah for the West IndiesCaptain Cuttle! How
does that tune go that the sailors sing?


'For the Port of BarbadosBoys!

Cheerily!

Leaving old England behind usBoys!

Cheerily!'
Here the Captain roared in chorus


'Oh cheerilycheerily!

Oh cheer-i-ly!'

The last line reaching the quick ears of an ardent skipper not
quite soberwho lodged oppositeand who instantly sprung out of bed
threw up his windowand joined inacross the streetat the top of
his voiceproduced a fine effect. When it was impossible to sustain
the concluding note any longerthe skipper bellowed forth a terrific
'ahoy!' intended in part as a friendly greetingand in part to show
that he was not at all breathed. That donehe shut down his window
and went to bed again.

'And nowCaptain Cuttle' said Walterhanding him the blue coat
and waistcoatand bustling very much'if you'll come and break the
news to Uncle Sol (which he ought to have knowndays upon days ago
by rights)I'll leave you at the dooryou knowand walk about until
the afternoon.'

The Captainhoweverscarcely appeared to relish the commission
or to be by any means confident of his powers of executing it. He had
arranged the future life and adventures of Walter so very differently
and so entirely to his own satisfaction; he had felicitated himself so
often on the sagacity and foresight displayed in that arrangementand
had found it so complete and perfect in all its parts; that to suffer
it to go to pieces all at onceand even to assist in breaking it up
required a great effort of his resolution. The Captaintoofound it
difficult to unload his old ideas upon the subjectand to take a
perfectly new cargo on boardwith that rapidity which the
circumstances requiredor without jumbling and confounding the two.
Consequentlyinstead of putting on his coat and waistcoat with
anything like the impetuosity that could alone have kept pace with
Walter's moodhe declined to invest himself with those garments at
all at present; and informed Walter that on such a serious matterhe
must be allowed to 'bite his nails a bit'

'It's an old habit of mineWal'r' said the Captain'any time
these fifty year. When you see Ned Cuttle bite his nailsWal'rthen
you may know that Ned Cuttle's aground.'

Thereupon the Captain put his iron hook between his teethas if it
were a hand; and with an air of wisdom and profundity that was the
very concentration and sublimation of all philosophical reflection and
grave inquiryapplied himself to the consideration of the subject in
its various branches.

'There's a friend of mine' murmured the Captainin an absent
manner'but he's at present coasting round to Whitbythat would
deliver such an opinion on this subjector any other that could be
namedas would give Parliament six and beat 'em. Been knocked
overboardthat man' said the Captain'twiceand none the worse for
it. Was beat in his apprenticeshipfor three weeks (off and on)
about the head with a ring-bolt. And yet a clearer-minded man don't
walk.'


Despite of his respect for Captain CuttleWalter could not help
inwardly rejoicing at the absence of this sageand devoutly hoping
that his limpid intellect might not be brought to bear on his
difficulties until they were quite settled.

'If you was to take and show that man the buoy at the Nore' said
Captain Cuttle in the same tone'and ask him his opinion of it
Wal'rhe'd give you an opinion that was no more like that buoy than
your Uncle's buttons are. There ain't a man that walks - certainly not
on two legs - that can come near him. Not near him!'

'What's his nameCaptain Cuttle?' inquired Walterdetermined to
be interested in the Captain's friend.

'His name's Bunsbysaid the Captain. 'But Lordit might be
anything for the matter of thatwith such a mind as his!'

The exact idea which the Captain attached to this concluding piece
of praisehe did not further elucidate; neither did Walter seek to
draw it forth. For on his beginning to reviewwith the vivacity
natural to himself and to his situationthe leading points in his own
affairshe soon discovered that the Captain had relapsed into his
former profound state of mind; and that while he eyed him steadfastly
from beneath his bushy eyebrowshe evidently neither saw nor heard
himbut remained immersed in cogitation.

In factCaptain Cuttle was labouring with such great designsthat
far from being agroundhe soon got off into the deepest of waterand
could find no bottom to his penetration. By degrees it became
perfectly plain to the Captain that there was some mistake here; that
it was undoubtedly much more likely to be Walter's mistake than his;
that if there were really any West India scheme afootit was a very
different one from what Walterwho was young and rashsupposed; and
could only be some new device for making his fortune with unusual
celerity. 'Or if there should be any little hitch between 'em'
thought the Captainmeaning between Walter and Mr Dombey'it only
wants a word in season from a friend of both partiesto set it right
and smoothand make all taut again.' Captain Cuttle's deduction from
these considerations wasthat as he already enjoyed the pleasure of
knowing Mr Dombeyfrom having spent a very agreeable half-hour in his
company at Brighton (on the morning when they borrowed the money); and
thatas a couple of men of the worldwho understood each otherand
were mutually disposed to make things comfortablecould easily
arrange any little difficulty of this sortand come at the real
facts; the friendly thing for him to do would bewithout saying
anything about it to Walter at presentjust to step up to Mr Dombey's
house - say to the servant 'Would ye be so goodmy ladas report
Cap'en Cuttle here?' - meet Mr Dombey in a confidential spirit- hook
him by the button-hole - talk it over - make it all right - and come
away triumphant!

As these reflections presented themselves to the Captain's mind
and by slow degrees assumed this shape and formhis visage cleared
like a doubtful morning when it gives place to a bright noon. His
eyebrowswhich had been in the highest degree portentoussmoothed
their rugged bristling aspectand became serene; his eyeswhich had
been nearly closed in the severity of his mental exerciseopened
freely; a smile which had been at first but three specks - one at the
right-hand corner of his mouthand one at the corner of each eye gradually
overspread his whole faceandrippling up into his
foreheadlifted the glazed hat: as if that too had been aground with
Captain Cuttleand were nowlike himhappily afloat again.

Finallythe Captain left off biting his nailsand said'Now


Wal'rmy boyyou may help me on with them slops.' By which the
Captain meant his coat and waistcoat.

Walter little imagined why the Captain was so particular in the
arrangement of his cravatas to twist the pendent ends into a sort of
pigtailand pass them through a massive gold ring with a picture of a
tomb upon itand a neat iron railingand a treein memory of some
deceased friend. Nor why the Captain pulled up his shirt-collar to the
utmost limits allowed by the Irish linen belowand by so doing
decorated himself with a complete pair of blinkers; nor why he changed
his shoesand put on an unparalleled pair of ankle-jackswhich he
only wore on extraordinary occasions. The Captain being at length
attired to his own complete satisfactionand having glanced at
himself from head to foot in a shaving-glass which he removed from a
nail for that purposetook up his knotted stickand said he was
ready.

The Captain's walk was more complacent than usual when they got out
into the street; but this Walter supposed to be the effect of the
ankle-jacksand took little heed of. Before they had gone very far
they encountered a woman selling flowers; when the Captain stopping
shortas if struck by a happy ideamade a purchase of the largest
bundle in her basket: a most glorious nosegayfan-shapedsome two
feet and a half roundand composed of all the jolliest-looking
flowers that blow.

Armed with this little token which he designed for Mr Dombey
Captain Cuttle walked on with Walter until they reached the
Instrument-maker's doorbefore which they both paused.

'You're going in?' said Walter.

'Yes' returned the Captainwho felt that Walter must be got rid
of before he proceeded any furtherand that he had better time his
projected visit somewhat later in the day.

'And you won't forget anything?'

'No' returned the Captain.

'I'll go upon my walk at once' said Walter'and then I shall be
out of the wayCaptain Cuttle.'

'Take a good long 'unmy lad!' replied the Captaincalling after
him. Walter waved his hand in assentand went his way.

His way was nowhere in particular; but he thought he would go out
into the fieldswhere he could reflect upon the unknown life before
himand resting under some treeponder quietly. He knew no better
fields than those near Hampsteadand no better means of getting at
them than by passing Mr Dombey's house.

It was as stately and as dark as everwhen he went by and glanced
up at its frowning front. The blinds were all pulled downbut the
upper windows stood wide openand the pleasant air stirring those
curtains and waving them to and fro was the only sign of animation in
the whole exterior. Walter walked softly as he passedand was glad
when he had left the house a door or two behind.

He looked back then; with the interest he had always felt for the
place since the adventure of the lost childyears ago; and looked
especially at those upper windows. While he was thus engageda
chariot drove to the doorand a portly gentleman in blackwith a
heavy watch-chainalightedand went in. When he afterwards


remembered this gentleman and his equipage togetherWalter had no
doubt be was a physician; and then he wondered who was ill; but the
discovery did not occur to him until he had walked some distance
thinking listlessly of other things.

Though stillof what the house had suggested to him; for Walter
pleased hImself with thinking that perhaps the time might comewhen
the beautiful child who was his old friend and had always been so
grateful to him and so glad to see him sincemight interest her
brother in his behalf and influence his fortunes for the better. He
liked to imagine this - moreat that momentfor the pleasure of
imagining her continued remembrance of himthan for any worldly
profit he might gain: but another and more sober fancy whispered to
him that if he were alive thenhe would be beyond the sea and
forgotten; she marriedrichproudhappy. There was no more reason
why she should remember him with any interest in such an altered state
of thingsthan any plaything she ever had. Nonot so much.

Yet Walter so idealised the pretty child whom he had found
wandering in the rough streetsand so identified her with her
innocent gratitude of that night and the simplicity and truth of its
expressionthat he blushed for himself as a libeller when he argued
that she could ever grow proud. On the other handhis meditations
were of that fantastic order that it seemed hardly less libellous in
him to imagine her grown a woman: to think of her as anything but the
same artlessgentlewinning little creaturethat she had been in
the days of Good Mrs Brown. In a wordWalter found out that to reason
with himself about Florence at allwas to become very unreasonable
indeed; and that he could do no better than preserve her image in his
mind as something preciousunattainableunchangeableand indefinite

-indefinite in all but its power of giving him pleasureand
restraining him like an angel's hand from anything unworthy.
It was a long stroll in the fields that Walter took that day
listening to the birdsand the Sunday bellsand the softened murmur
of the town - breathing sweet scents; glancing sometimes at the dim
horizon beyond which his voyage and his place of destination lay; then
looking round on the green English grass and the home landscape. But
he hardly once thoughteven of going awaydistinctly; and seemed to
put off reflection idlyfrom hour to hourand from minute to minute
while he yet went on reflecting all the time.

Walter had left the fields behind himand was plodding homeward in
the same abstracted moodwhen he heard a shout from a manand then a
woman's voice calling to him loudly by name. Turning quickly in his
surprisehe saw that a hackney-coachgoing in the contrary
directionhad stopped at no great distance; that the coachman was
looking back from his box and making signals to him with his whip; and
that a young woman inside was leaning out of the windowand beckoning
with immense energy. Running up to this coachhe found that the young
woman was Miss Nipperand that Miss Nipper was in such a flutter as
to be almost beside herself.

'Staggs's GardensMr Walter!' said Miss Nipper; 'if you pleaseoh
do!'

'Eh?' cried Walter; 'what is the matter?'

'OhMr WalterStaggs's Gardensif you please!' said Susan.

'There!' cried the coachmanappealing to Walterwith a sort of
exalting despair; 'that's the way the young lady's been a goin' on for
up'ards of a mortal hourand me continivally backing out of no
thoroughfareswhere she would drive up. I've had a many fares in this


coachfirst and lastbut never such a fare as her.'

'Do you want to go to Staggs's GardensSusan?' inquired Walter.

'Ah! She wants to go there! WHERE IS IT?' growled the coachman.

'I don't know where it is!' exclaimed Susanwildly. 'Mr WalterI
was there once myselfalong with Miss Floy and our poor darling
Master Paulon the very day when you found Miss Floy in the Cityfor
we lost her coming homeMrs Richards and meand a mad bulland Mrs
Richards's eldestand though I went there afterwardsI can't
remember where it isI think it's sunk into the ground. OhMr
Walterdon't desert meStaggs's Gardensif you please! Miss Floy's
darling - all our darlings - littlemeekmeek Master Paul! Oh Mr
Walter!'

'Good God!' cried Walter. 'Is he very ill?'

'The pretty flower!' cried Susanwringing her hands'has took the
fancy that he'd like to see his old nurseand I've come to bring her
to his bedsideMrs Staggsof Polly Toodle's Gardenssomeone pray!'

Greatly moved by what he heardand catching Susan's earnestness
immediatelyWalternow that he understood the nature of her errand
dashed into it with such ardour that the coachman had enough to do to
follow closely as he ran beforeinquiring here and there and
everywherethe way to Staggs's Gardens.

There was no such place as Staggs's Gardens. It had vanished from
the earth. Where the old rotten summer-houses once had stoodpalaces
now reared their headsand granite columns of gigantic girth opened a
vista to the railway world beyond. The miserable waste groundwhere
the refuse-matter had been heaped of yorewas swallowed up and gone;
and in its frowsy stead were tiers of warehousescrammed with rich
goods and costly merchandise. The old by-streets now swarmed with
passengers and vehicles of every kind: the new streets that had
stopped disheartened in the mud and waggon-rutsformed towns within
themselvesoriginating wholesome comforts and conveniences belonging
to themselvesand never tried nor thought of until they sprung into
existence. Bridges that had led to nothingled to villasgardens
churcheshealthy public walks. The carcasses of housesand
beginnings of new thoroughfareshad started off upon the line at
steam's own speedand shot away into the country in a monster train.'

As to the neighbourhood which had hesitated to acknowledge the
railroad in its straggling daysthat had grown wise and penitentas
any Christian might in such a caseand now boasted of its powerful
and prosperous relation. There were railway patterns in its drapers'
shopsand railway journals in the windows of its newsmen. There were
railway hotelsoffice-houseslodging-housesboarding-houses;
railway plansmapsviewswrappersbottlessandwich-boxesand
time-tables; railway hackney-coach and stands; railway omnibuses
railway streets and buildingsrailway hangers-on and parasitesand
flatterers out of all calculation. There was even railway time
observed in clocksas if the sun itself had given in. Among the
vanquished was the master chimney-sweeperwhilom incredulous at
Staggs's Gardenswho now lived in a stuccoed house three stories
highand gave himself outwith golden flourishes upon a varnished
boardas contractor for the cleansing of railway chimneys by
machinery.

To and from the heart of this great changeall day and night
throbbing currents rushed and returned incessantly like its life's
blood. Crowds of people and mountains of goodsdeparting and arriving


scores upon scores of times in every four-and-twenty hoursproduced a
fermentation in the place that was always in action. The very houses
seemed disposed to pack up and take trips. Wonderful Members of
Parliamentwholittle more than twenty years beforehad made
themselves merry with the wild railroad theories of engineersand
given them the liveliest rubs in cross-examinationwent down into the
north with their watches in their handsand sent on messages before
by the electric telegraphto say that they were coming. Night and day
the conquering engines rumbled at their distant workoradvancing
smoothly to their journey's endand gliding like tame dragons into
the allotted corners grooved out to the inch for their reception
stood bubbling and trembling theremaking the walls quakeas if they
were dilating with the secret knowledge of great powers yet
unsuspected in themand strong purposes not yet achieved.

But Staggs's Gardens had been cut up root and branch. Oh woe the
day when 'not a rood of English ground' - laid out in Staggs's Gardens

-is secure!
At lastafter much fruitless inquiryWalterfollowed by the
coach and Susanfound a man who had once resided in that vanished
landand who was no other than the master sweep before referred to
grown stoutand knocking a double knock at his own door. He knowed
Toodlehe saidwell. Belonged to the Railroaddidn't he?

'Yes' siryes!' cried Susan Nipper from the coach window.

Where did he live now? hastily inquired Walter.

He lived in the Company's own Buildingssecond turning to the
rightdown the yardcross overand take the second on the right
again. It was number eleven; they couldn't mistake it; but if they
didthey had only to ask for ToodleEngine Firemanand any one
would show them which was his house. At this unexpected stroke of
success Susan Nipper dismounted from the coach with all speedtook
Walter's armand set off at a breathless pace on foot; leaving the
coach there to await their return.

'Has the little boy been long illSusan?' inquired Walteras they
hurried on.

'Ailing for a deal of timebut no one knew how much' said Susan;
addingwith excessive sharpness'Ohthem Blimbers!'

'Blimbers?' echoed Walter.

'I couldn't forgive myself at such a time as thisMr Walter' said
Susan'and when there's so much serious distress to think aboutif I
rested hard on anyoneespecially on them that little darling Paul
speaks well ofbut I may wish that the family was set to work in a
stony soil to make new roadsand that Miss Blimber went in frontand
had the pickaxe!'

Miss Nipper then took breathand went on faster than beforeas if
this extraordinary aspiration had relieved her. Walterwho had by
this time no breath of his own to sparehurried along without asking
any more questions; and they soonin their impatienceburst in at a
little door and came into a clean parlour full of children.

'Where's Mrs Richards?' exclaimed Susan Nipperlooking round. 'Oh
Mrs RichardsMrs Richardscome along with memy dear creetur!'

'Whyif it ain't Susan!' cried Pollyrising with her honest face
and motherly figure from among the groupin great surprIse.


'YesMrs Richardsit's me' said Susan'and I wish it wasn't
though I may not seem to flatter when I say sobut little Master Paul
is very illand told his Pa today that he would like to see the face
of his old nurseand him and Miss Floy hope you'll come along with me

-and Mr WalterMrs Richards - forgetting what is pastand do a
kindness to the sweet dear that is withering away. OhMrs Richards
withering away!' Susan Nipper cryingPolly shed tears to see herand
to hear what she had said; and all the children gathered round
(including numbers of new babies); and Mr Toodlewho had just come
home from Birminghamand was eating his dinner out of a basinlaid
down his knife and forkand put on his wife's bonnet and shawl for
herwhich were hanging up behind the door; then tapped her on the
back; and saidwith more fatherly feeling than eloquence'Polly! cut
away!'
So they got back to the coachlong before the coachman expected
them; and Walterputting Susan and Mrs Richards insidetook his seat
on the box himself that there might be no more mistakesand deposited
them safely in the hall of Mr Dombey's house - whereby the byehe
saw a mighty nosegay lyingwhich reminded him of the one Captain
Cuttle had purchased in his company that morning. He would have
lingered to know more of the young invalidor waited any length of
time to see if he could render the least service; butpainfully
sensible that such conduct would be looked upon by Mr Dombey as
presumptuous and forwardhe turned slowlysadlyanxiouslyaway.

He had not gone five minutes' walk from the doorwhen a man came
running after himand begged him to return. Walter retraced his steps
as quickly as he couldand entered the gloomy house with a sorrowful
foreboding.

CHAPTER 16.

What the Waves were always saying

Paul had never risen from his little bed. He lay therelistening
to the noises in the streetquite tranquilly; not caring much how the
time wentbut watching it and watching everything about him with
observing eyes.

When the sunbeams struck into his room through the rustling blinds
and quivered on the opposite wall like golden waterhe knew that
evening was coming onand that the sky was red and beautiful. As the
reflection died awayand a gloom went creeping up the wallhe
watched it deependeependeepeninto night. Then he thought how the
long streets were dotted with lampsand how the peaceful stars were
shining overhead. His fancy had a strange tendency to wander to the
riverwhich he knew was flowing through the great city; and now he
thought how black it wasand how deep it would lookreflecting the
hosts of stars - and more than allhow steadily it rolled away to
meet the sea.

As it grew later in the nightand footsteps in the street became
so rare that he could hear them comingcount them as they passedand
lose them in the hollow distancehe would lie and watch the
many-coloured ring about the candleand wait patiently for day. His
only trouble wasthe swift and rapid river. He felt forced
sometimesto try to stop it - to stem it with his childish hands - or
choke its way with sand - and when he saw it coming onresistlesshe


cried out! But a word from Florencewho was always at his side
restored him to himself; and leaning his poor head upon her breasthe
told Floy of his dreamand smiled.

When day began to dawn againhe watched for the sun; and when its
cheerful light began to sparkle in the roomhe pictured to himself pictured!
he saw - the high church towers rising up into the morning
skythe town revivingwakingstarting into life once morethe
river glistening as it rolled (but rolling fast as ever)and the
country bright with dew. Familiar sounds and cries came by degrees
into the street below; the servants in the house were roused and busy;
faces looked in at the doorand voices asked his attendants softly
how he was. Paul always answered for himself'I am better. I am a
great deal betterthank you! Tell Papa so!'

By little and littlehe got tired of the bustle of the daythe
noise of carriages and cartsand people passing and repassing; and
would fall asleepor be troubled with a restless and uneasy sense
again - the child could hardly tell whether this were in his sleeping
or his waking moments - of that rushing river. 'Whywill it never
stopFloy?' he would sometimes ask her. 'It is bearing me awayI
think!'

But Floy could always soothe and reassure him; and it was his daily
delight to make her lay her head down on his pillowand take some
rest.

'You are always watching meFloylet me watch younow!' They
would prop him up with cushions in a corner of his bedand there he
would recline the while she lay beside him: bending forward oftentimes
to kiss herand whispering to those who were near that she was tired
and how she had sat up so many nights beside him.

Thusthe flush of the dayin its heat and lightwould gradually
decline; and again the golden water would be dancing on the wall.

He was visited by as many as three grave doctors - they used to
assemble downstairsand come up together - and the room was so quiet
and Paul was so observant of them (though he never asked of anybody
what they said)that he even knew the difference in the sound of
their watches. But his interest centred in Sir Parker Pepswho always
took his seat on the side of the bed. For Paul had heard them say long
agothat that gentleman had been with his Mama when she clasped
Florence in her armsand died. And he could not forget itnow. He
liked him for it. He was not afraid.

The people round him changed as unaccountably as on that first
night at Doctor Blimber's - except Florence; Florence never changed and
what had been Sir Parker Pepswas now his fathersitting with
his head upon his hand. Old Mrs Pipchin dozing in an easy chairoften
changed to Miss Toxor his aunt; and Paul was quite content to shut
his eyes againand see what happened nextwithout emotion. But this
figure with its head upon its hand returned so oftenand remained so
longand sat so still and solemnnever speakingnever being spoken
toand rarely lifting up its facethat Paul began to wonder
languidlyif it were real; and in the night-time saw it sitting
therewith fear.

'Floy!' he said. 'What is that?'

'Wheredearest?'

'There! at the bottom of the bed.'


'There's nothing thereexcept Papa!'

The figure lifted up its headand roseand coming to the bedside
said:

'My own boy! Don't you know me?'

Paul looked it in the faceand thoughtwas this his father? But
the face so altered to his thinkingthrilled while he gazedas if it
were in pain; and before he could reach out both his hands to take it
between themand draw it towards himthe figure turned away quickly
from the little bedand went out at the door.

Paul looked at Florence with a fluttering heartbut he knew what
she was going to sayand stopped her with his face against her lips.
The next time he observed the figure sitting at the bottom of the bed
he called to it.

'Don't be sorry for medear Papa! Indeed I am quite happy!'

His father coming and bending down to him - which he did quickly
and without first pausing by the bedside - Paul held him round the
neckand repeated those words to him several timesand very
earnestly; and Paul never saw him in his room again at any time
whether it were day or nightbut he called out'Don't be sorry for
me! Indeed I am quite happy!' This was the beginning of his always
saying in the morning that he was a great deal betterand that they
were to tell his father so.

How many times the golden water danced upon the wall; how many
nights the darkdark river rolled towards the sea in spite of him;
Paul never countednever sought to know. If their kindnessor his
sense of itcould have increasedthey were more kindand he more
grateful every day; but whether they were many days or fewappeared
of little moment nowto the gentle boy.

One night he had been thinking of his motherand her picture in
the drawing-room downstairsand thought she must have loved sweet
Florence better than his father didto have held her in her arms when
she felt that she was dying - for even heher brotherwho had such
dear love for hercould have no greater wish than that. The train of
thought suggested to him to inquire if he had ever seen his mother?
for he could not remember whether they had told himyes or nothe
river running very fastand confusing his mind.

'Floydid I ever see Mama?'

'Nodarlingwhy?'

'Did I ever see any kind facelike Mama'slooking at me when I
was a babyFloy?'

He askedincredulouslyas if he had some vision of a face before
him.

'Oh yesdear!'

'WhoseFloy?'

'Your old nurse's. Often.'

'And where is my old nurse?' said Paul. 'Is she dead too? Floyare
we all deadexcept you?'


There was a hurry in the roomfor an instant - longerperhaps;
but it seemed no more - then all was still again; and Florencewith
her face quite colourlessbut smilingheld his head upon her arm.
Her arm trembled very much.


'Show me that old nurseFloyif you please!'


'She is not heredarling. She shall come to-morrow.'


'Thank youFloy!'


Paul closed his eyes with those wordsand fell asleep. When he
awokethe sun was highand the broad day was clear and He lay a
littlelooking at the windowswhich were openand the curtains
rustling in the airand waving to and fro: then he said'Floyis it
tomorrow? Is she come?'


Someone seemed to go in quest of her. Perhaps it was Susan. Paul
thought he heard her telling him when he had closed his eyes again
that she would soon be back; but he did not open them to see. She kept
her word - perhaps she had never been away - but the next thing that
happened was a noise of footsteps on the stairsand then Paul woke -
woke mind and body - and sat upright in his bed. He saw them now about
him. There was no grey mist before themas there had been sometimes
in the night. He knew them every oneand called them by their names.


'And who is this? Is this my old nurse?' said the childregarding
with a radiant smilea figure coming in.


Yesyes. No other stranger would have shed those tears at sight of
himand called him her dear boyher pretty boyher own poor
blighted child. No other woman would have stooped down by his bedand
taken up his wasted handand put it to her lips and breastas one
who had some right to fondle it. No other woman would have so
forgotten everybody there but him and Floyand been so full of
tenderness and pity.


'Floy! this is a kind good face!' said Paul. 'I am glad to see it
again. Don't go awayold nurse! Stay here.'


His senses were all quickenedand he heard a name he knew.


'Who was thatwho said "Walter"?' he askedlooking round.
'Someone said Walter. Is he here? I should like to see him very much.'


Nobody replied directly; but his father soon said to Susan'Call
him backthen: let him come up!' Alter a short pause of expectation
during which he looked with smiling interest and wonderon his nurse
and saw that she had not forgotten FloyWalter was brought into the
room. His open face and mannerand his cheerful eyeshad always made
him a favourite with Paul; and when Paul saw him' he stretched Out his
handand said 'Good-bye!'


'Good-byemy child!' said Mrs Pipchinhurrying to his bed's head.
'Not good-bye?'


For an instantPaul looked at her with the wistful face with which
he had so often gazed upon her in his corner by the fire. 'Yes' he
said placidly'good-bye! Walter deargood-bye!' - turning his head
to where he stoodand putting out his hand again. 'Where is Papa?'


He felt his father's breath upon his cheekbefore the words had
parted from his lips.



'Remember Walterdear Papa' he whisperedlooking in his face.
'Remember Walter. I was fond of Walter!' The feeble hand waved in the
airas if it cried 'good-bye!' to Walter once again.

'Now lay me down' he said'andFloycome close to meand let
me see you!'

Sister and brother wound their arms around each otherand the
golden light came streaming inand fell upon themlocked together.

'How fast the river runsbetween its green banks and the rushes
'Floy! But it's very near the sea. I hear the waves! They always said
so!'

Presently he told her the motion of the boat upon the stream was
lulling him to rest. How green the banks were nowhow bright the
flowers growing on themand how tall the rushes! Now the boat was out
at seabut gliding smoothly on. And now there was a shore before him.
Who stood on the bank! -

He put his hands togetheras he had been used to do at his
prayers. He did not remove his arms to do it; but they saw him fold
them sobehind her neck.

'Mama is like youFloy. I know her by the face! But tell them that
the print upon the stairs at school is not divine enough. The light
about the head is shining on me as I go!'

The golden ripple on the wall came back againand nothing else
stirred in the room. The oldold fashion! The fashion that came in
with our first garmentsand will last unchanged until our race has
run its courseand the wide firmament is rolled up like a scroll. The
oldold fashion - Death!

Oh thank GODall who see itfor that older fashion yetof
Immortality! And look upon usangels of young childrenwith regards
not quite estrangedwhen the swift river bears us to the ocean!

'Dear medear me! To think' said Miss Toxbursting out afresh
that nightas if her heart were broken'that Dombey and Son should
be a Daughter after all!'

CHAPTER 17.

Captain Cuttle does a little Business for the Young People

Captain Cuttlein the exercise of that surprising talent for
deep-laid and unfathomable schemingwith which (as is not unusual in
men of transparent simplicity) he sincerely believed himself to be
endowed by naturehad gone to Mr Dombey's house on the eventful
Sundaywinking all the way as a vent for his superfluous sagacity
and had presented himself in the full lustre of the ankle-jacks before
the eyes of Towlinson. Hearing from that individualto his great
concernof the impending calamityCaptain Cuttlein his delicacy
sheered off again confounded; merely handing in the nosegay as a small
mark of his solicitudeand leaving his respectful compliments for the
family in generalwhich he accompanied with an expression of his hope
that they would lay their heads well to the wind under existing
circumstancesand a friendly intimation that he would 'look up again'
to-morrow.


The Captain's compliments were never heard of any more. The
Captain's nosegayafter lying in the hall all nightwas swept into
the dust-bin next morning; and the Captain's sly arrangementinvolved
in one catastrophe with greater hopes and loftier designswas crushed
to pieces. Sowhen an avalanche bears down a mountain-foresttwigs
and bushes suffer with the treesand all perish together.

When Walter returned home on the Sunday evening from his long walk
and its memorable closehe was too much occupied at first by the
tidings he had to give themand by the emotions naturally awakened in
his breast by the scene through which he had passedto observe either
that his Uncle was evidently unacquainted with the intelligence the
Captain had undertaken to impartor that the Captain made signals
with his hookwarning him to avoid the subject. Not that the
Captain's signals were calculated to have proved very comprehensible
however attentively observed; forlike those Chinese sages who are
said in their conferences to write certain learned words in the air
that are wholly impossible of pronunciationthe Captain made such
waves and flourishes as nobody without a previous knowledge of his
mysterywould have been at all likely to understand.

Captain Cuttlehoweverbecoming cognisant of what had happened
relinquished these attemptsas he perceived the slender chance that
now existed of his being able to obtain a little easy chat with Mr
Dombey before the period of Walter's departure. But in admitting to
himselfwith a disappointed and crestfallen countenancethat Sol
Gills must be toldand that Walter must go - taking the case for the
present as he found itand not having it enlightened or improved
beforehand by the knowing management of a friend - the Captain still
felt an unabated confidence that heNed Cuttlewas the man for Mr
Dombey; and thatto set Walter's fortunes quite squarenothing was
wanted but that they two should come together. For the Captain never
could forget how well he and Mr Dombey had got on at Brighton; with
what nicety each of them had put in a word when it was wanted; how
exactly they had taken one another's measure; nor how Ned Cuttle had
pointed out that resources in the first extremityand had brought the
interview to the desired termination. On all these grounds the Captain
soothed himself with thinking that though Ned Cuttle was forced by the
pressure of events to 'stand by' almost useless for the presentNed
would fetch up with a wet sail in good timeand carry all before him.

Under the influence of this good-natured delusionCaptain Cuttle
even went so far as to revolve in his own bosomwhile he sat looking
at Walter and listening with a tear on his shirt-collar to what he
relatedwhether it might not be at once genteel and politic to give
Mr Dombey a verbal invitationwhenever they should meetto come and
cut his mutton in Brig Place on some day of his own namingand enter
on the question of his young friend's prospects over a social glass.
But the uncertain temper of Mrs MacStingerand the possibility of her
setting up her rest in the passage during such an entertainmentand
there delivering some homily of an uncomplimentary natureoperated as
a check on the Captain's hospitable thoughtsand rendered him timid
of giving them encouragement.

One fact was quite clear to the Captainas Waltersitting
thoughtfully over his untasted dinnerdwelt on all that had happened;
namelythat however Walter's modesty might stand in the way of his
perceiving it himselfhe wasas one might saya member of Mr
Dombey's family. He had beenin his own personconnected with the
incident he so pathetically described; he had been by name remembered
and commended in close association with it; and his fortunes must have
a particular interest in his employer's eyes. If the Captain had any
lurking doubt whatever of his own conclusionshe had not the least


doubt that they were good conclusions for the peace of mind of the
Instrument-maker. Therefore he availed himself of so favourable a
moment for breaking the West Indian intelligence to his friendas a
piece of extraordinary preferment; declaring that for his part he
would freely give a hundred thousand pounds (if he had it) for
Walter's gain in the long-runand that he had no doubt such an
investment would yield a handsome premium.

Solomon Gills was at first stunned by the communicationwhich fell
upon the little back-parlour like a thunderboltand tore up the
hearth savagely. But the Captain flashed such golden prospects before
his dim sight: hinted so mysteriously at 'Whittingtonian consequences;
laid such emphasis on what Walter had just now told them: and appealed
to it so confidently as a corroboration of his predictionsand a
great advance towards the realisation of the romantic legend of Lovely
Peg: that he bewildered the old man. Walterfor his partfeigned to
be so full of hope and ardourand so sure of coming home again soon
and backed up the Captain with such expressive shakings of his head
and rubbings of his handsthat Solomonlooking first at him then at
Captain Cuttlebegan to think he ought to be transported with joy.

'But I'm behind the timeyou understand' he observed in apology
passing his hand nervously down the whole row of bright buttons on his
coatand then up againas if they were beads and he were telling
them twice over: 'and I would rather have my dear boy here. It's an
old-fashioned notionI daresay. He was always fond of the sea He's' and
he looked wistfully at Walter - 'he's glad to go.'

'Uncle Sol!' cried Walterquickly'if you say thatI won't go.
NoCaptain CuttleI won't. If my Uncle thinks I could be glad to
leave himthough I was going to be made Governor of all the Islands
in the West Indiesthat's enough. I'm a fixture.'

'Wal'rmy lad' said the Captain. 'Steady! Sol Gillstake an
observation of your nevy.

Following with his eyes the majestic action of the Captain's hook
the old man looked at Walter.

'Here is a certain craft' said the Captainwith a magnificent
sense of the allegory into which he was soaring'a-going to put out
on a certain voyage. What name is wrote upon that craft indelibly? Is
it The Gay? or' said the Captainraising his voice as much as to
sayobserve the point of this'is it The Gills?'

'Ned' said the old mandrawing Walter to his sideand taking his
arm tenderly through his'I know. I know. Of course I know that Wally
considers me more than himself always. That's in my mind. When I say
he is glad to goI mean I hope he is. Eh? look youNed and you too
Wallymy dearthis is new and unexpected to me; and I'm afraid my
being behind the timeand pooris at the bottom of it. Is it really
good fortune for himdo you tell menow?' said the old manlooking
anxiously from one to the other. 'Really and truly? Is it? I can
reconcile myself to almost anything that advances Wallybut I won't
have Wally putting himself at any disadvantage for meor keeping
anything from me. YouNed Cuttle!' said the old manfastening on the
Captainto the manifest confusion of that diplomatist; 'are you
dealing plainly by your old friend? Speak outNed Cuttle. Is there
anything behind? Ought he to go? How do you know it firstand why?'

As it was a contest of affection and self-denialWalter struck in
with infinite effectto the Captain's relief; and between them they
tolerably reconciled old Sol Gillsby continued talkingto the
project; or rather so confused himthat nothingnot even the pain of


separationwas distinctly clear to his mind.

He had not much time to balance the matter; for on the very next
dayWalter received from Mr Carker the Managerthe necessary
credentials for his passage and outfittogether with the information
that the Son and Heir would sail in a fortnightor within a day or
two afterwards at latest. In the hurry of preparation: which Walter
purposely enhanced as much as possible: the old man lost what little
selfpossession he ever had; and so the time of departure drew on
rapidly.

The Captainwho did not fail to make himself acquainted with all
that passedthrough inquiries of Walter from day to dayfound the
time still tending on towards his going awaywithout any occasion
offering itselfor seeming likely to offer itselffor a better
understanding of his position. It was after much consideration of this
factand much pondering over such an unfortunate combination of
circumstancesthat a bright idea occurred to the Captain. Suppose he
made a call on Mr Carkerand tried to find out from him how the land
really lay!

Captain Cuttle liked this idea very much. It came upon him in a
moment of inspirationas he was smoking an early pipe in Brig Place
after breakfast; and it was worthy of the tobacco. It would quiet his
consciencewhich was an honest oneand was made a little uneasy by
what Walter had confided to himand what Sol Gills had said; and it
would be a deepshrewd act of friendship. He would sound Mr Carker
carefullyand say much or littlejust as he read that gentleman's
characterand discovered that they got on well together or the
reverse.

Accordinglywithout the fear of Walter before his eyes (who he
knew was at home packing)Captain Cuttle again assumed his
ankle-jacks and mourning broochand issued forth on this second
expedition. He purchased no propitiatory nosegay on the present
occasionas he was going to a place of business; but he put a small
sunflower in his button-hole to give himself an agreeable relish of
the country; and with thisand the knobby stickand the glazed hat
bore down upon the offices of Dombey and Son.

After taking a glass of warm rum-and-water at a tavern close byto
collect his thoughtsthe Captain made a rush down the courtlest its
good effects should evaporateand appeared suddenly to Mr Perch.

'Matey' said the Captainin persuasive accents. 'One of your
Governors is named Carker.' Mr Perch admitted it; but gave him to
understandas in official duty boundthat all his Governors were
engagedand never expected to be disengaged any more.

'Look'ee heremate' said the Captain in his ear; 'my name's
Cap'en Cuttle.'

The Captain would have hooked Perch gently to himbut Mr Perch
eluded the attempt; not so much in designas in starting at the
sudden thought that such a weapon unexpectedly exhibited to Mrs Perch
mightin her then conditionbe destructive to that lady's hopes.

'If you'll be so good as just report Cap'en Cuttle herewhen you
get a chance' said the Captain'I'll wait.'

Saying whichthe Captain took his seat on Mr Perch's bracketand
drawing out his handkerchief from the crown of the glazed hat which he
jammed between his knees (without injury to its shapefor nothing
human could bend it)rubbed his head well all overand appeared


refreshed. He subsequently arranged his hair with his hookand sat
looking round the officecontemplating the clerks with a serene
respect.

The Captain's equanimity was so impenetrableand he was altogether
so mysterious a beingthat Perch the messenger was daunted.

'What name was it you said?' asked Mr Perchbending down over him
as he sat on the bracket.

'Cap'en' in a deep hoarse whisper.

'Yes' said Mr Perchkeeping time with his head.

'Cuttle.'

'Oh!' said Mr Perchin the same tonefor he caught itand
couldn't help it; the Captainin his diplomacywas so impressive.
'I'll see if he's disengaged now. I don't know. Perhaps he may be for
a minute.'

'Ayaymy ladI won't detain him longer than a minute' said the
Captainnodding with all the weighty importance that he felt within
him. Perchsoon returningsaid'Will Captain Cuttle walk this way?'

Mr Carker the Managerstanding on the hearth-rug before the empty
fireplacewhich was ornamented with a castellated sheet of brown
paperlooked at the Captain as he came inwith no very special
encouragement.

'Mr Carker?' said Captain Cuttle.

'I believe so' said Mr Carkershowing all his teeth.

The Captain liked his answering with a smile; it looked pleasant.
'You see' began the Captainrolling his eyes slowly round the little
roomand taking in as much of it as his shirt-collar permitted; 'I'm
a seafaring man myselfMr Carkerand Wal'ras is on your books
hereis almost a son of mine.'

'Walter Gay?' said Mr Carkershowing all his teeth again.

'Wal'r Gay it is' replied the Captain'right!' The Captain's
manner expressed a warm approval of Mr Carker's quickness of
perception. 'I'm a intimate friend of his and his Uncle's. Perhaps'
said the Captain'you may have heard your head Governor mention my
name? - Captain Cuttle.'

'No!' said Mr Carkerwith a still wider demonstration than before.

'Well' resumed the Captain'I've the pleasure of his
acquaintance. I waited upon him down on the Sussex coast therewith
my young friend Wal'rwhen - in shortwhen there was a little
accommodation wanted.' The Captain nodded his head in a manner that
was at once comfortableeasyand expressive. 'You rememberI
daresay?'

'I think' said Mr Carker'I had the honour of arranging the
business.'

'To be sure!' returned the Captain. 'Right again! you had. Now I've
took the liberty of coming here


'Won't you sit down?' said Mr Carkersmiling.


'Thank'ee' returned the Captainavailing himself of the offer. 'A
man does get more way upon himselfperhapsin his conversationwhen
he sits down. Won't you take a cheer yourself?'

'No thank you' said the Managerstandingperhaps from the force
of winter habitwith his back against the chimney-pieceand looking
down upon the Captain with an eye in every tooth and gum. 'You have
taken the libertyyou were going to say - though it's none - '

'Thank'ee kindlymy lad' returned the Captain: 'of coming here
on account of my friend Wal'r. Sol Gillshis Uncleis a man of
scienceand in science he may be considered a clipper; but he ain't
what I should altogether call a able seaman - not man of practice.
Wal'r is as trim a lad as ever stepped; but he's a little down by the
head in one respectand that ismodesty. Now what I should wish to
put to you' said the Captainlowering his voiceand speaking in a
kind of confidential growl'in a friendly wayentirely between you
and meand for my own private reckoning'till your head Governor has
wore round a bitand I can come alongside of himis this - Is
everything right and comfortable hereand is Wal'r out'ard bound with
a pretty fair wind?'

'What do you think nowCaptain Cuttle?' returned Carkergathering
up his skirts and settling himself in his position. 'You are a
practical man; what do you think?'

The acuteness and the significance of the Captain's eye as he
cocked it in replyno words short of those unutterable Chinese words
before referred to could describe.

'Come!' said the Captainunspeakably encouraged'what do you say?
Am I right or wrong?'

So much had the Captain expressed in his eyeemboldened and
incited by Mr Carker's smiling urbanitythat he felt himself in as
fair a condition to put the questionas if he had expressed his
sentiments with the utmost elaboration.

'Right' said Mr Carker'I have no doubt.'

'Out'ard bound with fair weatherthenI say' cried Captain
Cuttle.

Mr Carker smiled assent.

'Wind right astarnand plenty of it' pursued the Captain.

Mr Carker smiled assent again.

'Ayay!' said Captain Cuttlegreatly relieved and pleased. 'I
know'd how she headedwell enough; I told Wal'r so. Thank'ee
thank'ee.'

'Gay has brilliant prospects' observed Mr Carkerstretching his
mouth wider yet: 'all the world before him.'

'All the world and his wife tooas the saying is' returned the
delighted Captain.

At the word 'wife' (which he had uttered without design)the
Captain stoppedcocked his eye againand putting the glazed hat on
the top of the knobby stickgave it a twirland looked sideways at
his always smiling friend.


'I'd bet a gill of old Jamaica' said the Captaineyeing him
attentively'that I know what you're a smiling at.'

Mr Carker took his cueand smiled the more.

'It goes no farther?' said the Captainmaking a poke at the door
with the knobby stick to assure himself that it was shut.

'Not an inch' said Mr Carker.

'You're thinking of a capital F perhaps?' said the Captain.

Mr Carker didn't deny it.

'Anything about a L' said the Captain'or a O?'

Mr Carker still smiled.

'Am I rightagain?' inquired the Captain in a whisperwith the
scarlet circle on his forehead swelling in his triumphant joy.

Mr Carkerin replystill smilingand now nodding assentCaptain
Cuttle rose and squeezed him by the handassuring himwarmlythat
they were on the same tackand that as for him (Cuttle) he had laid
his course that way all along. 'He know'd her first' said the
Captainwith all the secrecy and gravity that the subject demanded
'in an uncommon manner - you remember his finding her in the street
when she was a'most a babby - he has liked her ever sinceand she
himas much as two youngsters can. We've always saidSol Gills and
methat they was cut out for each other.'

A cator a monkeyor a hyenaor a death's-headcould not have
shown the Captain more teeth at one timethan Mr Carker showed him at
this period of their interview.

'There's a general indraught that way' observed the happy Captain.
'Wind and water sets in that directionyou see. Look at his being
present t'other day!'

'Most favourable to his hopes' said Mr Carker.

'Look at his being towed along in the wake of that day!' pursued
the Captain. 'Why what can cut him adrift now?'

'Nothing' replied Mr Carker.

'You're right again' returned the Captaingiving his hand another
squeeze. 'Nothing it is. So! steady! There's a son gone: pretty little
creetur. Ain't there?'

'Yesthere's a son gone' said the acquiescent Carker.

'Pass the wordand there's another ready for you' quoth the
Captain. 'Nevy of a scientific Uncle! Nevy of Sol Gills! Wal'r! Wal'r
as is already in your business! And' - said the Captainrising
gradually to a quotation he was preparing for a final burst'who comes
from Sol Gills's dailyto your businessand your buzzums.' The
Captain's complacency as he gently jogged Mr Carker with his elbowon
concluding each of the foregoing short sentencescould be surpassed
by nothing but the exultation with which he fell back and eyed him
when he had finished this brilliant display of eloquence and sagacity;
his great blue waistcoat heaving with the throes of such a
masterpieceand his nose in a state of violent inflammation from the


same cause.

'Am I right?' said the Captain.

'Captain Cuttle' said Mr Carkerbending down at the kneesfor a
momentin an odd manneras if he were falling together to hug the
whole of himself at once'your views in reference to Walter Gay are
thoroughly and accurately right. I understand that we speak together
in confidence.

'Honour!' interposed the Captain. 'Not a word.'

'To him or anyone?' pursued the Manager.

Captain Cuttle frowned and shook his head.

'But merely for your own satisfaction and guidance - and guidance
of course' repeated Mr Carker'with a view to your future
proceedings.'

'Thank'ee kindlyI am sure' said the Captainlistening with
great attention.

'I have no hesitation in sayingthat's the fact. You have hit the
probabilities exactly.'

'And with regard to your head Governor' said the Captain'why an
interview had better come about nat'ral between us. There's time
enough.'

Mr Carkerwith his mouth from ear to earrepeated'Time enough.'
Not articulating the wordsbut bowing his head affablyand forming
them with his tongue and lips.

'And as I know - it's what I always said- that Wal'r's in a way to
make his fortune' said the Captain.

'To make his fortune' Mr Carker repeatedin the same dumb manner.

'And as Wal'r's going on this little voyage isas I may sayin
his day's workand a part of his general expectations here' said the
Captain.

'Of his general expectations here' assented Mr Carkerdumbly as
before.

'Whyso long as I know that' pursued the Captain'there's no
hurryand my mind's at ease.

Mr Carker still blandly assenting in the same voiceless manner
Captain Cuttle was strongly confirmed in his opinion that he was one
of the most agreeable men he had ever metand that even Mr Dombey
might improve himself on such a model. With great heartiness
thereforethe Captain once again extended his enormous hand (not
unlike an old block in colour)and gave him a grip that left upon his
smoother flesh a proof impression of the chinks and crevices with
which the Captain's palm was liberally tattooed.

'Farewell!' said the Captain. 'I ain't a man of many wordsbut I
take it very kind of you to be so friendlyand above-board. You'll
excuse me if I've been at all intrudingwill you?' said the Captain.

'Not at all' returned the other.


'Thank'ee. My berth ain't very roomy' said the Captainturning
back again'but it's tolerably snug; and if you was to find yourself
near Brig Placenumber nineat any time - will you make a note of
it? - and would come upstairswithout minding what was said by the
person at the doorI should be proud to see you.

With that hospitable invitationthe Captain said 'Good day!' and
walked out and shut the door; leaving Mr Carker still reclining
against the chimney-piece. In whose sly look and watchful manner; in
whose false mouthstretched but not laughing; in whose spotless
cravat and very whiskers; even in whose silent passing of his soft
hand over his white linen and his smooth face; there was something
desperately cat-like.

The unconscious Captain walked out in a state of self-glorification
that imparted quite a new cut to the broad blue suit. 'Stand byNed!'
said the Captain to himself. 'You've done a little business for the
youngsters todaymy lad!'

In his exultationand in his familiaritypresent and prospective
with the Housethe Captainwhen he reached the outer officecould
not refrain from rallying Mr Perch a littleand asking him whether he
thought everybody was still engaged. But not to be bitter on a man who
had done his dutythe Captain whispered in his earthat if he felt
disposed for a glass of rum-and-waterand would followhe would be
happy to bestow the same upon him.

Before leaving the premisesthe Captainsomewhat to the
astonishment of the clerkslooked round from a central point of view
and took a general survey of the officers part and parcel of a project
in which his young friend was nearly interested. The strong-room
excited his especial admiration; butthat he might not appear too
particularhe limited himself to an approving glanceandwith a
graceful recognition of the clerks as a bodythat was full of
politeness and patronagepassed out into the court. Being promptly
joined by Mr Perchhe conveyed that gentleman to the tavernand
fulfilled his pledge - hastilyfor Perch's time was precious.

'I'll give you for a toast' said the Captain'Wal'r!'

'Who?' submitted Mr Perch.

'Wal'r!' repeated the Captainin a voice of thunder.

Mr Perchwho seemed to remember having heard in infancy that there
was once a poet of that namemade no objection; but he was much
astonished at the Captain's coming into the City to propose a poet;
indeedif he had proposed to put a poet's statue up - say
Shakespeare's for example - in a civic thoroughfarehe could hardly
have done a greater outrage to Mr Perch's experience. On the wholehe
was such a mysterious and incomprehensible characterthat Mr Perch
decided not to mention him to Mrs Perch at allin case of giving rise
to any disagreeable consequences.

Mysterious and incomprehensiblethe Captainwith that lively
sense upon him of having done a little business for the youngsters
remained all dayeven to his most intimate friends; and but that
Walter attributed his winks and grinsand other such pantomimic
reliefs of himselfto his satisfaction in the success of their
innocent deception upon old Sol Gillshe would assuredly have
betrayed himself before night. As it washoweverhe kept his own
secret; and went home late from the Instrument-maker's housewearing
the glazed hat so much on one sideand carrying such a beaming
expression in his eyesthat Mrs MacStinger (who might have been


brought up at Doctor Blimber'sshe was such a Roman matron) fortified
herselfat the first glimpse of himbehind the open street doorand
refused to come out to the contemplation of her blessed infantsuntil
he was securely lodged in his own room.

CHAPTER 18.

Father and Daughter

There is a hush through Mr Dombey's house. Servants gliding up and
down stairs rustlebut make no sound of footsteps. They talk together
constantlyand sit long at mealsmaking much of their meat and
drinkand enjoying themselves after a grim unholy fashion. Mrs
Wickamwith her eyes suffused with tearsrelates melancholy
anecdotes; and tells them how she always said at Mrs Pipchin's that it
would be soand takes more table-ale than usualand is very sorry
but sociable. Cook's state of mind is similar. She promises a little
fry for supperand struggles about equally against her feelings and
the onions. Towlinson begins to think there's a fate in itand wants
to know if anybody can tell him ofany good that ever came of living in
a corner house. It seems to all of them as having happened a long time
ago; though yet the child liescalm and beautifulupon his little
bed.

After dark there come some visitors - noiseless visitorswith
shoes of felt - who have been there before; and with them comes that
bed of rest which is so strange a one for infant sleepers. All this
timethe bereaved father has not been seen even by his attendant; for
he sits in an inner corner of his own dark room when anyone is there
and never seems to move at other timesexcept to pace it to and fro.
But in the morning it is whispered among the household that he was
heard to go upstairs in the dead nightand that he stayed there - in
the room - until the sun was shining.

At the offices in the Citythe ground-glass windows are made more
dim by shutters; and while the lighted lamps upon the desks are half
extinguished by the day that wanders inthe day is half extinguished
by the lampsand an unusual gloom prevails. There is not much
business done. The clerks are indisposed to work; and they make
assignations to eat chops in the afternoonand go up the river.
Perchthe messengerstays long upon his errands; and finds himself
in bars of public-housesinvited thither by friendsand holding
forth on the uncertainty of human affairs. He goes home to Ball's Pond
earlier in the evening than usualand treats Mrs Perch to a veal
cutlet and Scotch ale. Mr Carker the Manager treats no one; neither is
he treated; but alone in his own room he shows his teeth all day; and
it would seem that there is something gone from Mr Carker's path some
obstacle removed - which clears his way before him.

Now the rosy children living opposite to Mr Dombey's housepeep
from their nursery windows down into the street; for there are four
black horses at his doorwith feathers on their heads; and feathers
tremble on the carriage that they draw; and theseand an array of men
with scarves and stavesattract a crowd. The juggler who was going to
twirl the basinputs his loose coat on again over his fine dress; and
his trudging wifeone-sided with her heavy baby in her armsloiters
to see the company come out. But closer to her dingy breast she
presses her babywhen the burden that is so easily carried is borne
forth; and the youngest of the rosy children at the high window
oppositeneeds no restraining hand to check her in her gleewhen


pointing with her dimpled fingershe looks into her nurse's faceand
asks 'What's that?'

And nowamong the knot of servants dressed in mourningand the
weeping womenMr Dombey passes through the hall to the other carriage
that is waiting to receive him. He is not 'brought down' these
observers thinkby sorrow and distress of mind. His walk is as erect
his bearing is as stiff as ever it has been. He hides his face behind
no handkerchiefand looks before him. But that his face is something
sunk and rigidand is paleit bears the same expression as of old.
He takes his place within the carriageand three other gentlemen
follow. Then the grand funeral moves slowly down the street. The
feathers are yet nodding in the distancewhen the juggler has the
basin spinning on a caneand has the same crowd to admire it. But the
juggler's wife is less alert than usual with the money-boxfor a
child's burial has set her thinking that perhaps the baby underneath
her shabby shawl may not grow up to be a manand wear a sky-blue
fillet round his headand salmon-coloured worsted drawersand tumble
in the mud.

The feathers wind their gloomy way along the streetsand come
within the sound of a church bell. In this same churchthe pretty boy
received all that will soon be left of him on earth - a name. All of
him that is deadthey lay therenear the perishable substance of his
mother. It is well. Their ashes lie where Florence in her walks - oh
lonelylonely walks! - may pass them any day.

The service overand the clergyman withdrawnMr Dombey looks
rounddemanding in a low voicewhether the person who has been
requested to attend to receive instructions for the tabletis there?

Someone comes forwardand says 'Yes.'

Mr Dombey intimates where he would have it placed; and shows him
with his hand upon the wallthe shape and size; and how it is to
follow the memorial to the mother. Thenwith his pencilhe writes
out the inscriptionand gives it to him: adding'I wish to have it
done at once.

'It shall be done immediatelySir.'

'There is really nothing to inscribe but name and ageyou see.'

The man bowsglancing at the paperbut appears to hesitate. Mr
Dombey not observing his hesitationturns awayand leads towards the
porch.

'I beg your pardonSir;' a touch falls gently on his mourning
cloak; 'but as you wish it done immediatelyand it may be put in hand
when I get back - '

'Well?'

'Will you be so good as read it over again? I think there's a
mistake.'

'Where?'

The statuary gives him back the paperand points outwith his
pocket rulethe words'beloved and only child.'

'It should beson,I thinkSir?'

'You are right. Of course. Make the correction.'


The fatherwith a hastier steppursues his way to the coach. When
the other threewho follow closelytake their seatshis face is
hidden for the first time - shaded by his cloak. Nor do they see it
any more that day. He alights firstand passes immediately into his
own room. The other mourners (who are only Mr Chickand two of the
medical attendants) proceed upstairs to the drawing-roomto be
received by Mrs Chick and Miss Tox. And what the face isin the
shut-up chamber underneath: or what the thoughts are: what the heart
iswhat the contest or the suffering: no one knows.

The chief thing that they knowbelow stairsin the kitchenis
that 'it seems like Sunday.' They can hardly persuade themselves but
that there is something unbecomingif not wickedin the conduct of
the people out of doorswho pursue their ordinary occupationsand
wear their everyday attire. It is quite a novelty to have the blinds
upand the shutters open; and they make themselves dismally
comfortable over bottles of winewhich are freely broached as on a
festival. They are much inclined to moralise. Mr Towlinson proposes
with a sigh'Amendment to us all!' for whichas Cook says with
another sigh'There's room enoughGod knows.' In the eveningMrs
Chick and Miss Tox take to needlework again. In the evening alsoMr
Towlinson goes out to take the airaccompanied by the housemaidwho
has not yet tried her mourning bonnet. They are very tender to each
other at dusky street-cornersand Towlinson has visions of leading an
altered and blameless existence as a serious greengrocer in Oxford
Market.

There is sounder sleep and deeper rest in Mr Dombey's house
tonightthan there has been for many nights. The morning sun awakens
the old householdsettled down once more in their old ways. The rosy
children opposite run past with hoops. There is a splendid wedding in
the church. The juggler's wife is active with the money-box in another
quarter of the town. The mason sings and whistles as he chips out
P-A-U-L in the marble slab before him.

And can it be that in a world so full and busythe loss of one
weak creature makes a void in any heartso wide and deep that nothing
but the width and depth of vast eternity can fill it up! Florencein
her innocent afflictionmight have answered'Oh my brotheroh my
dearly loved and loving brother! Only friend and companion of my
slighted childhood! Could any less idea shed the light already dawning
on your early graveor give birth to the softened sorrow that is
springing into life beneath this rain of tears!'

'My dear child' said Mrs Chickwho held it as a duty incumbent on
herto improve the occasion'when you are as old as I am - '

'Which will be the prime of life' observed Miss Tox.

'You will then' pursued Mrs Chickgently squeezing Miss Tox's
hand in acknowledgment of her friendly remark'you will then know
that all grief is unavailingand that it is our duty to submit.'

'I will trydear aunt I do try' answered Florencesobbing.

'I am glad to hear it' said Mrs Chick'because; my loveas our
dear Miss Tox - of whose sound sense and excellent judgmentthere
cannot possibly be two opinions - '

'My dear LouisaI shall really be proudsoon' said Miss Tox

-'will tell youand confirm by her experience' pursued Mrs
Chick'we are called upon on all occasions to make an effort It is

required of us. If any - my dear' turning to Miss Tox'I want a
word. Mis- Mis-'

'Demeanour?' suggested Miss Tox.

'Nonono' said Mrs Chic 'How can you! Goodness meit's onthe
end of my tongue. Mis-'

Placed affection?' suggested Miss Toxtimidly.

'Good graciousLucretia!' returned Mrs Chick 'How very monstrous!
Misanthropeis the word I want. The idea! Misplaced affection! I say
if any misanthrope were to putin my presencethe question "Why were
we born?" I should replyTo make an effort'

'Very good indeed' said Miss Toxmuch impressed by the
originality of the sentiment 'Very good.'

'Unhappily' pursued Mrs Chick'we have a warning under our own
eyes. We have but too much reason to supposemy dear childthat if
an effort had been made in timein this familya train of the most
trying and distressing circumstances might have been avoided. Nothing
shall ever persuade me' observed the good matronwith a resolute
air'but that if that effort had been made by poor dear Fannythe
poor dear darling child would at least have had a stronger
constitution.'

Mrs Chick abandoned herself to her feelings for half a moment; but
as a practical illustration of her doctrinebrought herself up short
in the middle of a soband went on again.

'ThereforeFlorencepray let us see that you have some strength
of mindand do not selfishly aggravate the distress in which your
poor Papa is plunged.'

'Dear aunt!' said Florencekneeling quickly down before herthat
she might the better and more earnestly look into her face. 'Tell me
more about Papa. Pray tell me about him! Is he quite heartbroken?'

Miss Tox was of a tender natureand there was something in this
appeal that moved her very much. Whether she saw it in a succession
on the part of the neglected childto the affectionate concern so
often expressed by her dead brother - or a love that sought to twine
itself about the heart that had loved himand that could not bear to
be shut out from sympathy with such a sorrowin such sad community of
love and grief - or whether the only recognised the earnest and
devoted spirit whichalthough discarded and repulsedwas wrung with
tenderness long unreturnedand in the waste and solitude of this
bereavement cried to him to seek a comfort in itand to give someby
some small response - whatever may have been her understanding of it
it moved Miss Tox. For the moment she forgot the majesty of Mrs Chick
andpatting Florence hastily on the cheekturned aside and suffered
the tears to gush from her eyeswithout waiting for a lead from that
wise matron.

Mrs Chick herself lostfor a momentthe presence of mind on which
she so much prided herself; and remained mutelooking on the
beautiful young face that had so longso steadilyand patiently
been turned towards the little bed. But recovering her voice - which
was synonymous with her presence of mindindeed they were one and the
same thing - she replied with dignity:

'Florencemy dear childyour poor Papa is peculiar at times; and
to question me about himis to question me upon a subject which I


really do not pretend to understand. I believe I have as much
influence with your Papa as anybody has. Stillall I can say isthat
he has said very little to me; and that I have only seen him once or
twice for a minute at a timeand indeed have hardly seen him then
for his room has been dark. I have said to your PapaPaul!- that
is the exact expression I used - "Paul! why do you not take something
stimulating?" Your Papa's reply has always beenLouisa, have the
goodness to leave me. I want nothing. I am better by myself.If I was
to be put upon my oath to-morrowLucretiabefore a magistrate' said
Mrs Chick'I have no doubt I could venture to swear to those
identical words.'

Miss Tox expressed her admiration by saying'My Louisa is ever
methodical!'

'In shortFlorence' resumed her aunt'literally nothing has
passed between your poor Papa and myselfuntil to-day; when I
mentioned to your Papa that Sir Barnet and Lady Skettles had written
exceedingly kind notes - our sweet boy! Lady Skettles loved him like a

-where's my pocket handkerchief?'
Miss Tox produced one.

'Exceedingly kind notesproposing that you should visit them for
change of scene. Mentioning to your Papa that I thought Miss Tox and
myself might now go home (in which he quite agreed)I inquired if he
had any objection to your accepting this invitation. He saidNo,
Louisa, not the least!' Florence raised her tearful eye

'At the same timeif you would prefer staying hereFlorenceto
paying this visit at presentor to going home with me - '

'I should much prefer itaunt' was the faint rejoinder.

'Why thenchild'said Mrs Chick'you can. It's a strange choice
I must say. But you always were strange. Anybody else at your time of
lifeand after what has passed - my dear Miss ToxI have lost my
pocket handkerchief again - would be glad to leave hereone would
suppose.

'I should not like to feel' said Florence'as if the house was
avoided. I should not like to think that the - his - the rooms
upstairs were quite empty and drearyaunt. I would rather stay here
for the present. Oh my brother! oh my brother!'

It was a natural emotionnot to be suppressed; and it would make
way even between the fingers of the hands with which she covered up
her face. The overcharged and heavy-laden breast must some times have
that ventor the poor wounded solitary heart within it would have
fluttered like a bird with broken wingsand sunk down in the dust'

'Wellchild!' said Mrs Chickafter a pause 'I wouldn't on any
account say anything unkind to youand that I'm sure you know. You
will remain herethenand do exactly as you like. No one will
interfere with youFlorenceor wish to interfere with youI'm sure.

Florence shook her head in sad assent'

'I had no sooner begun to advise your poor Papa that he really
ought to seek some distraction and restoration in a temporary change'
said Mrs Chick'than he told me he had already formed the intention
of going into the country for a short time. I'm sure I hope he'll go
very soon. He can't go too soon. But I suppose there are some
arrangements connected with his private papers and so forth


consequent on the affliction that has tried us all so much - I can't
think what's become of mine: Lucretialend me yoursmy dear - that
may occupy him for one or two evenings in his own room. Your Papa's a
Dombeychildif ever there was one' said Mrs Chickdrying both her
eyes at once with great care on opposite corners of Miss Tox's
handkerchief 'He'll make an effort. There's no fear of him.'

'Is there nothingaunt' said Florencetrembling'I might do to
-

'Lordmy dear child' interposed Mrs Chickhastily'what are you
talking about? If your Papa said to Me - I have given you his exact
wordsLouisa, I want nothing; I am better by myself- what do you
think he'd say to you? You mustn't show yourself to himchild. Don't
dream of such a thing.'

'Aunt' said Florence'I will go and lie down on my bed.'

Mrs Chick approved of this resolutionand dismissed her with a
kiss. But Miss Toxon a faint pretence of looking for the mislaid
handkerchiefwent upstairs after her; and tried in a few stolen
minutes to comfort herin spite of great discouragement from Susan
Nipper. For Miss Nipperin her burning zealdisparaged Miss Tox as a
crocodile; yet her sympathy seemed genuineand had at least the
vantage-ground of disinterestedness - there was little favour to be
won by it.

And was there no one nearer and dearer than Susanto uphold the
striving heart in its anguish? Was there no other neck to clasp; no
other face to turn to? no one else to say a soothing word to such deep
sorrow? Was Florence so alone in the bleak world that nothing else
remained to her? Nothing. Stricken motherless and brotherless at once

-for in the loss of little Paulthat first and greatest loss fell
heavily upon her - this was the only help she had. Ohwho can tell
how much she needed help at first!
At firstwhen the house subsided into its accustomed courseand
they had all gone awayexcept the servantsand her father shut up in
his own roomsFlorence could do nothing but weepand wander up and
downand sometimesin a sudden pang of desolate remembrancefly to
her own chamberwring her handslay her face down on her bedand
know no consolation: nothing but the bitterness and cruelty of grief.
This commonly ensued upon the recognition of some spot or object very
tenderly dated with him; and it made the ale houseat firsta place
of agony.

But it is not in the nature of pure love to burn so fiercely and
unkindly long. The flame that in its grosser composition has the taint
of earth may prey upon the breast that gives it shelter; but the fire
from heaven is as gentle in the heartas when it rested on the heads
of the assembled twelveand showed each man his brotherbrightened
and unhurt. The image conjured upthere soon returned the placid
facethe softened voicethe loving looksthe quiet trustfulness and
peace; and Florencethough she wept stillwept more tranquillyand
courted the remembrance.

It was not very long before the golden waterdancing on the wall
in the old placeat the old serene timehad her calm eye fixed upon
it as it ebbed away. It was not very long before that room again knew
heroften; sitting there aloneas patient and as mild as when she
had watched beside the little bed. When any sharp sense of its being
empty smote upon hershe could kneel beside itand pray GOD - it was
the pouring out of her full heart - to let one angel love her and
remember her.


It was not very long beforein the midst of the dismal house so
wide and drearyher low voice in the twilightslowly and stopping
sometimestouched the old air to which he had so often listenedwith
his drooping head upon her arm. And after thatand when it was quite
darka little strain of music trembled in the room: so softly played
and sungthat it was more lIke the mournful recollection of what she
had done at his request on that last nightthan the reality repeated.
But it was repeatedoften - very oftenin the shadowy solitude; and
broken murmurs of the strain still trembled on the keyswhen the
sweet voice was hushed in tears.

Thus she gained heart to look upon the work with which her fingers
had been busy by his side on the sea-shore; and thus it was not very
long before she took to it again - with something of a human love for
itas if it had been sentient and had known him; andsitting in a
windownear her mother's picturein the unused room so long
desertedwore away the thoughtful hours.

Why did the dark eyes turn so often from this work to where the
rosy children lived? They were not immediate!y suggestive of her loss;
for they were all girls: four little sisters. But they were motherless
like her - and had a father.

It was easy to know when he had gone out and was expected homefor
the elder child was always dressed and waiting for him at the
drawing-room windowor n the balcony; and when he appearedher
expectant face lighted up with joywhile the others at the high
windowand always on the watch tooclapped their handsand drummed
them on the silland called to him. The elder child would come down
to the halland put her hand in hisand lead him up the stairs; and
Florence would see her afterwards sitting by his sideor on his knee
or hanging coaxingly about his neck and talking to him: and though
they were always gay togetherhe would often watch her face as if he
thought her like her mother that was dead. Florence would sometimes
look no more at thisand bursting into tears would hide behind the
curtain as if she were frightenedor would hurry from the window. Yet
she could not help returning; and her work would soon fall unheeded
from her hands again.

It was the house that had been emptyyears ago. It had remained so
for a long time. At lastand while she had been away from homethis
family had taken it; and it was repaired and newly painted; and there
were birds and flowers about it; and it looked very different from its
old self. But she never thought of the house. The children and their
father were all in all.

When he had dinedshe could see themthrough the open windowsgo
down with their governess or nurseand cluster round the table; and
in the still summer weatherthe sound of their childish voices and
clear laughter would come ringing across the streetinto the drooping
air of the room in which she sat. Then they would climb and clamber
upstairs with himand romp about him on the sofaor group themselves
at his kneea very nosegay of little faceswhile he seemed to tell
them some story. Or they would come running out into the balcony; and
then Florence would hide herself quicklylest it should check them in
their joyto see her in her black dresssitting there alone.

The elder child remained with her father when the rest had gone
awayand made his tea for him - happy little house-keeper she was
then! - and sat conversing with himsometimes at the window
sometimes in the roomuntil the candles came. He made her his
companionthough she was some years younger than Florence; and she
could be as staid and pleasantly demurewith her little book or


work-boxas a woman. When they had candlesFlorence from her own
dark room was not afraid to look again. But when the time came for the
child to say 'Good-nightPapa' and go to bedFlorence would sob and
tremble as she raised her face to himand could look no more.

Though still she would turnagain and againbefore going to bed
herself from the simple air that had lulled him to rest so oftenlong
agoand from the other low soft broken strain of musicback to that
house. But that she ever thought of itor watched itwas a secret
which she kept within her own young breast.

And did that breast of Florence - Florenceso ingenuous and true so
worthy of the love that he had borne herand had whispered in his
last faint words - whose guileless heart was mirrored in the beauty of
her faceand breathed in every accent of her gentle voice - did that
young breast hold any other secret? Yes. One more.

When no one in the house was stirringand the lights were all
extinguishedshe would softly leave her own roomand with noiseless
feet descend the staircaseand approach her father's door. Against
itscarcely breathingshe would rest her face and headand press
her lipsin the yearning of her love. She crouched upon the cold
stone floor outside itevery nightto listen even for his breath;
and in her one absorbing wish to be allowed to show him some
affectionto be a consolation to himto win him over to the
endurance of some tenderness from herhis solitary childshe would
have knelt down at his feetif she had daredin humble supplication.

No one knew it' No one thought of it. The door was ever closedand
he shut up within. He went out once or twiceand it was said in the
house that he was very soon going on his country journey; but he lived
in those roomsand lived aloneand never saw heror inquired for
her. Perhaps he did not even know that she was in the house.

One dayabout a week after the funeralFlorence was sitting at
her workwhen Susan appearedwith a face half laughing and half
cryingto announce a visitor.

'A visitor! To meSusan!' said Florencelooking up in
astonishment.

'Wellit is a wonderain't it nowMiss Floy?' said Susan; 'but I
wish you had a many visitorsI doindeedfor you'd be all the
better for itand it's my opinion that the sooner you and me goes
even to them old SkettlesesMissthe better for bothI may not wish
to live in crowdsMiss Floybut still I'm not a oyster.'

To do Miss Nipper justiceshe spoke more for her young mistress
than herself; and her face showed it.

'But the visitorSusan' said Florence.

Susanwith an hysterical explosion that was as much a laugh as a
soband as much a sob as a laughanswered

'Mr Toots!'

The smile that appeared on Florence's face passed from it in a
momentand her eyes filled with tears. But at any rate it was a
smileand that gave great satisfaction to Miss Nipper.

'My own feelings exactlyMiss Floy' said Susanputting her apron
to her eyesand shaking her head. 'Immediately I see that Innocent in
the HallMiss FloyI burst out laughing firstand then I choked.'


Susan Nipper involuntarily proceeded to do the like again on the
spot. In the meantime Mr Tootswho had come upstairs after herall
unconscious of the effect he producedannounced himself with his
knuckles on the doorand walked in very brisKly.

'How d'ye doMiss Dombey?' said Mr Toots. 'I'm very wellI thank
you; how are you?'

Mr Toots - than whom there were few better fellows in the world
though there may have been one or two brighter spirits - had
laboriously invented this long burst of discourse with the view of
relieving the feelings both of Florence and himself. But finding that
he had run through his propertyas it werein an injudicious manner
by squandering the whole before taking a chairor before Florence had
uttered a wordor before he had well got in at the doorhe deemed it
advisable to begin again.

'How d'ye doMiss Dombey?' said Mr Toots. 'I'm very wellI thank
you; how are you?'

Florence gave him her handand said she was very well.

'I'm very well indeed' said Mr Tootstaking a chair. 'Very well
indeedI am. I don't remember' said Mr Tootsafter reflecting a
little'that I was ever betterthank you.'

'It's very kind of you to come' said Florencetaking up her work
'I am very glad to see you.'

Mr Toots responded with a chuckle. Thinking that might be too
livelyhe corrected it with a sigh. Thinking that might be too
melancholyhe corrected it with a chuckle. Not thoroughly pleasing
himself with either mode of replyhe breathed hard.

'You were very kind to my dear brother' said Florenceobeying her
own natural impulse to relieve him by saying so. 'He often talked to
me about you.'

'Oh it's of no consequence' said Mr Toots hastily. 'Warmain't
it?'

'It is beautiful weather' replied Florence.

'It agrees with me!' said Mr Toots. 'I don't think I ever was so
well as I find myself at presentI'm obliged to you.

After stating this curious and unexpected factMr Toots fell into
a deep well of silence.

'You have left Dr Blimber'sI think?' said Florencetrying to
help him out.

'I should hope so' returned Mr Toots. And tumbled in again.

He remained at the bottomapparently drownedfor at least ten
minutes. At the expiration of that periodhe suddenly floatedand
said

'Well! Good morningMiss Dombey.'

'Are you going?' asked Florencerising.

'I don't knowthough. Nonot just at present' said Mr Toots


sitting down againmost unexpectedly. 'The fact is - I sayMiss
Dombey!'

'Don't be afraid to speak to me' said Florencewith a quiet
smile'I should he very glad if you would talk about my brother.'

'Would youthough?' retorted Mr Tootswith sympathy in every
fibre of his otherwise expressionless face. 'Poor Dombey! I'm sure I
never thought that Burgess and Co. - fashionable tailors (but very
dear)that we used to talk about - would make this suit of clothes
for such a purpose.' Mr Toots was dressed in mourning. 'Poor Dombey! I
say! Miss Dombey!' blubbered Toots.

'Yes' said Florence.

'There's a friend he took to very much at last. I thought you'd
lIke to have himperhapsas a sort of keepsake. You remember his
remembering Diogenes?'

'Oh yes! oh yes' cried Florence.

'Poor Dombey! So do I' said Mr Toots.

Mr Tootsseeing Florence in tearshad great difficulty in getting
beyond this pointand had nearly tumbled into the well again. But a
chucKle saved him on the brink.

'I say' he proceeded'Miss Dombey! I could have had him stolen
for ten shillingsif they hadn't given him up: and I would: but they
were glad to get rid of himI think. If you'd like to have himhe's
at the door. I brought him on purpose for you. He ain't a lady's dog
you know' said Mr Toots'but you won't mind thatwill you?'

In factDiogenes was at that momentas they presently ascertained
from looking down into the streetstaring through the window of a
hackney cabrioletinto whichfor conveyance to that spothe had
been ensnaredon a false pretence of rats among the straw. Sooth to
sayhe was as unlike a lady's dog as might be; and in his gruff
anxiety to get outpresented an appearance sufficiently unpromising
as he gave short yelps out of one side of his mouthand overbalancing
himself by the intensity of every one of those effortstumbled down
into the strawand then sprung panting up againputting out his
tongueas if he had come express to a Dispensary to be examined for
his health.

But though Diogenes was as ridiculous a dog as one would meet with
on a summer's day; a blunderingill-favouredclumsybullet-headed
dogcontinually acting on a wrong idea that there was an enemy in the
neighbourhoodwhom it was meritorious to bark at; and though he was
far from good-temperedand certainly was not cleverand had hair all
over his eyesand a comic noseand an inconsistent tailand a gruff
voice; he was dearer to Florencein virtue of that parting
remembrance of himand that request that he might be taken care of
than the most valuable and beautiful of his kind. So dearindeedwas
this same ugly Diogenesand so welcome to herthat she took the
jewelled hand of Mr Toots and kissed it in her gratitude. And when
Diogenesreleasedcame tearing up the stairs and bouncing into the
room (such a business as there wasfirstto get him out of the
cabriolet!)dived under all the furnitureand wound a long iron
chainthat dangled from his neckround legs of chairs and tables
and then tugged at it until his eyes became unnaturally visiblein
consequence of their nearly starting out of his head; and when he
growled at Mr Tootswho affected familiarity; and went pell-mell at
Towlinsonmorally convinced that he was the enemy whom he had barked


at round the corner all his life and had never seen yet; Florence was
as pleased with him as if he had been a miracle of discretion.

Mr Toots was so overjoyed by the success of his presentand was so
delighted to see Florence bending down over Diogenessmoothing his
coarse back with her little delicate hand - Diogenes graciously
allowing it from the first moment of their acquaintance - that he felt
it difficult to take leaveand wouldno doubthave been a much
longer time in making up his mind to do soif he had not been
assisted by Diogenes himselfwho suddenly took it into his head to
bay Mr Tootsand to make short runs at him with his mouth open. Not
exactly seeing his way to the end of these demonstrationsand
sensible that they placed the pantaloons constructed by the art of
Burgess and Co. in jeopardyMr Tootswith chuckleslapsed out at
the door: by whichafter looking in again two or three timeswithout
any object at alland being on each occasion greeted with a fresh run
from Diogeneshe finally took himself off and got away.

'ComethenDi! Dear Di! Make friends with your new mistress. Let
us love each otherDi!'said Florencefondling his shaggy head. And
Dithe rough and gruffas if his hairy hide were pervious to the
tear that dropped upon itand his dog's heart melted as it fellput
his nose up to her faceand swore fidelity.

Diogenes the man did not speak plainer to Alexander the Great than
Diogenes the dog spoke to Florence.' He subscribed to the offer of his
little mistress cheerfullyand devoted himself to her service. A
banquet was immediately provided for him in a corner; and when he had
eaten and drunk his fillhe went to the window where Florence was
sittinglooking onrose up on his hind legswith his awkward fore
paws on her shoulderslicked her face and handsnestled his great
head against her heartand wagged his tail till he was tired.
FinallyDiogenes coiled himself up at her feet and went to sleep.

Although Miss Nipper was nervous in regard of dogsand felt it
necessary to come into the room with her skirts carefully collected
about heras if she were crossing a brook on stepping-stones; also to
utter little screams and stand up on chairs when Diogenes stretched
himselfshe was in her own manner affected by the kindness of Mr
Tootsand could not see Florence so alive to the attachment and
society of this rude friend of little Paul'swithout some mental
comments thereupon that brought the water to her eyes. Mr Dombeyas a
part of her reflectionsmay have beenin the association of ideas
connected with the dog; butat any rateafter observing Diogenes and
his mistress all the eveningand after exerting herself with much
good-will to provide Diogenes a bed in an ante-chamber outside his
mistress's doorshe said hurriedly to Florencebefore leaving her
for the night:

'Your Pa's a going offMiss Floytomorrow morning.'

'To-morrow morningSusan?'

'YesMiss; that's the orders. Early.'

'Do you know' asked Florencewithout looking at her'where Papa
is goingSusan?'

'Not exactlyMiss. He's going to meet that precious Major first
and I must say if I was acquainted with any Major myself (which
Heavens forbid)it shouldn't be a blue one!'

'HushSusan!' urged Florence gently.


'WellMiss Floy' returned Miss Nipperwho was full of burning
indignationand minded her stops even less than usual. 'I can't help
itblue he isand while I was a Christianalthough humbleI would
have natural-coloured friendsor none.'

It appeared from what she added and had gleaned downstairsthat
Mrs Chick had proposed the Major for Mr Dombey's companionand that
Mr Dombeyafter some hesitationhad invited him.

'Talk of him being a changeindeed!' observed Miss Nipper to
herself with boundless contempt. 'If he's a changegive me a
constancy.

'Good-nightSusan' said Florence.

'Good-nightmy darling dear Miss Floy.'

Her tone of commiseration smote the chord so often roughly touched
but never listened to while she or anyone looked on. Florence left
alonelaid her head upon her handand pressing the other over her
swelling heartheld free communication with her sorrows.

It was a wet night; and the melancholy rain fell pattering and
dropping with a weary sound. A sluggish wind was blowingand went
moaning round the houseas if it were in pain or grief. A shrill
noise quivered through the trees. While she sat weepingit grew late
and dreary midnight tolled out from the steeples.

Florence was little more than a child in years - not yet fourteenand
the loneliness and gloom of such an hour in the great house where
Death had lately made its own tremendous devastationmight have set
an older fancy brooding on vague terrors. But her innocent imagination
was too full of one theme to admit them. Nothing wandered in her
thoughts but love - a wandering loveindeedand castaway - but
turning always to her father. There was nothing in the dropping of the
rainthe moaning of the windthe shuddering of the treesthe
striking of the solemn clocksthat shook this one thoughtor
diminished its interest' Her recollections of the dear dead boy - and
they were never absent - were itselfthe same thing. And ohto be
shut out: to be so lost: never to have looked into her father's face
or touched himsince that hour!

She could not go to bedpoor childand never had gone yetsince
thenwithout making her nightly pilgrimage to his door. It would have
been a strange sad sightto see her' nowstealing lightly down the
stairs through the thick gloomand stopping at it with a beating
heartand blinded eyesand hair that fell down loosely and unthought
of; and touching it outside with her wet cheek. But the night covered
itand no one knew.

The moment that she touched the door on this nightFlorence found
that it was open. For the first time it stood openthough by but a
hair's-breadth: and there was a light within. The first impulse of the
timid child - and she yielded to it - was to retire swiftly. Her next
to go backand to enter; and this second impulse held her in
irresolution on the staircase.

In its standing openeven by so much as that chinkthere seemed
to be hope. There was encouragement in seeing a ray of light from
withinstealing through the dark stern doorwayand falling in a
thread upon the marble floor. She turned backhardly knowing what she
didbut urged on by the love within herand the trial they had
undergone togetherbut not shared: and with her hands a little raised
and tremblingglided in.


Her father sat at his old table in the middle room. He had been
arranging some papersand destroying othersand the latter lay in
fragile ruins before him. The rain dripped heavily upon the glass
panes in the outer roomwhere he had so often watched poor Paula
baby; and the low complainings of the wind were heard without.

But not by him. He sat with his eyes fixed on the tableso
immersed in thoughtthat a far heavier tread than the light foot of
his child could makemight have failed to rouse him. His face was
turned towards her. By the waning lampand at that haggard hourit
looked worn and dejected; and in the utter loneliness surrounding him
there was an appeal to Florence that struck home.

'Papa! Papa! speak to medear Papa!'

He started at her voiceand leaped up from his seat. She was close
before him' with extended armsbut he fell back.

'What is the matter?' he saidsternly. 'Why do you come here? What
has frightened you?'

If anything had frightened herit was the face he turned upon her.
The glowing love within the breast of his young daughter froze before
itand she stood and looked at him as if stricken into stone.

There was not one touch of tenderness or pity in it. There was not
one gleam of interestparental recognitionor relenting in it. There
was a change in itbut not of that kind. The old indifference and
cold constraint had given place to something: whatshe never thought
and did not dare to thinkand yet she felt it in its forceand knew
it well without a name: that as it looked upon herseemed to cast a
shadow on her head.

Did he see before him the successful rival of his sonin health
and life? Did he look upon his own successful rival in that son's
affection? Did a mad jealousy and withered pridepoison sweet
remembrances that should have endeared and made her precious to him?
Could it be possible that it was gall to him to look upon her in her
beauty and her promise: thinking of his infant boy!

Florence had no such thoughts. But love is quick to know when it is
spurned and hopeless: and hope died out of hersas she stood looking
in her father's face.

'I ask youFlorenceare you frightened? Is there anything the
matterthat you come here?'

'I camePapa - '

'Against my wishes. Why?'

She saw he knew why: it was written broadly on his face: and
dropped her head upon her hands with one prolonged low cry.

Let him remember it in that roomyears to come. It has faded from
the airbefore he breaks the silence. It may pass as quickly from his
brainas he believesbut it is there. Let him remember it in that
roomyears to come!

He took her by the arm. His hand was coldand looseand scarcely
closed upon her.

'You are tiredI daresay' he saidtaking up the lightand


leading her towards the door'and want rest. We all want rest. Go
Florence. You have been dreaming.'

The dream she had hadwas over thenGod help her! and she felt
that it could never more come back

'I will remain here to light you up the stairs. The whole house is
yours above there' said her fatherslowly. 'You are its mistress
now. Good-night!'

Still covering her faceshe sobbedand answered 'Good-nightdear
Papa' and silently ascended. Once she looked back as if she would
have returned to himbut for fear. It was a mommentary thoughttoo
hopeless to encourage; and her father stood there with the light hard
unresponsivemotionless - until the fluttering dress of his
fair child was lost in the darkness.

Let him remember it in that roomyears to come. The rain that
falls upon the roof: the wind that mourns outside the door: may have
foreknowledge in their melancholy sound. Let him remember it in that
roomyears to come!

The last time he had watched herfrom the same placewinding up
those stairsshe had had her brother in her arms. It did not move his
heart towards her nowit steeled it: but he went into his roomand
locked his doorand sat down in his chairand cried for his lost
boy.

Diogenes was broad awake upon his postand waiting for his little
mistress.

'OhDi! Ohdear Di! Love me for his sake!'

Diogenes already loved her for her ownand didn't care how much he
showed it. So he made himself vastly ridiculous by performing a
variety of uncouth bounces in the ante-chamberand concludedwhen
poor Florence was at last asleepand dreaming of the rosy children
oppositeby scratching open her bedroom door: rolling up his bed into
a pillow: lying down on the boardsat the full length of his tether
with his head towards her: and looking lazily at herupside downout
of the tops of his eyesuntil from winking and winking he fell asleep
himselfand dreamedwith gruff barksof his enemy.

CHAPTER 19.

Walter goes away

The wooden Midshipman at the Instrument-maker's doorlike the
hard-hearted little Midshipman he wasremained supremely indifferent
to Walter's going awayeven when the very last day of his sojourn in
the back parlour was on the decline. With his quadrant at his round
black knob of an eyeand his figure in its old attitude of
indomitable alacritythe Midshipman displayed his elfin small-clothes
to the best advantageandabsorbed in scientific pursuitshad no
sympathy with worldly concerns. He was so far the creature of
circumstancesthat a dry day covered him with dustand a misty day
peppered him with little bits of sootand a wet day brightened up his
tarnished uniform for the momentand a very hot day blistered him;
but otherwise he was a callousobdurateconceited Midshipmanintent
on his own discoveriesand caring as little for what went on about


himterrestriallyas Archimedes at the taking of Syracuse.

Such a Midshipman he seemed to beat leastin the then position
of domestic affairs. Walter eyed him kindly many a time in passing in
and out; and poor old Solwhen Walter was not therewould come and
lean against the doorpostresting his weary wig as near the
shoe-buckles of the guardian genius of his trade and shop as he could.
But no fierce idol with a mouth from ear to earand a murderous
visage made of parrot's featherswas ever more indifferent to the
appeals of its savage votariesthan was the Midshipman to these marks
of attachment.

Walter's heart felt heavy as he looked round his old bedroomup
among the parapets and chimney-potsand thought that one more night
already darkening would close his acquaintance with itperhaps for
ever. Dismantled of his little stock of books and picturesit looked
coldly and reproachfully on him for his desertionand had already a
foreshadowing upon it of its coming strangeness. 'A few hours more'
thought Walter'and no dream I ever had here when I was a schoolboy
will be so little mine as this old room. The dream may come back in my
sleepand I may return waking to this placeit may be: but the dream
at least will serve no other masterand the room may have a score
and every one of them may changeneglectmisuse it.'

But his Uncle was not to be left alone in the little back parlour
where he was then sitting by himself; for Captain Cuttleconsiderate
in his roughnessstayed away against his willpurposely that they
should have some talk together unobserved: so Walternewly returned
home from his last day's bustledescended brisklyto bear him
company.

'Uncle' he said gailylaying his hand upon the old man's
shoulder'what shall I send you home from Barbados?'

'Hopemy dear Wally. Hope that we shall meet againon this side
of the grave. Send me as much of that as you can.'

'So I willUncle: I have enough and to spareand I'll not be
chary of it! And as to lively turtlesand limes for Captain Cuttle's
punchand preserves for you on Sundaysand all that sort of thing
why I'll send you ship-loadsUncle: when I'm rich enough.'

Old Sol wiped his spectaclesand faintly smiled.

'That's rightUncle!' cried Waltermerrilyand clapping him half
a dozen times more upon the shoulder. 'You cheer up me! I'll cheer up
you! We'll be as gay as larks to-morrow morningUncleand we'll fly
as high! As to my anticipationsthey are singing out of sight now.

'Wallymy dear boy' returned the old man'I'll do my bestI'll
do my best.'

'And your bestUncle' said Walterwith his pleasant laugh'is
the best best that I know. You'll not forget what you're to send me
Uncle?'

'NoWallyno' replied the old man; 'everything I hear about Miss
Dombeynow that she is left alonepoor lambI'll write. I fear it
won't be much thoughWally.'

'WhyI'll tell you whatUncle' said Walterafter a moment's
hesitation'I have just been up there.'

'Ayayay?' murmured the old manraising his eyebrowsand his


spectacles with them.

'Not to see her' said Walter'though I could have seen herI
daresayif I had askedMr Dombey being out of town: but to say a
parting word to Susan. I thought I might venture to do thatyou know
under the circumstancesand remembering when I saw Miss Dombey last.'

'Yesmy boyyes' replied his Unclerousing himself from a
temporary abstraction.

'So I saw her' pursued Walter'SusanI mean: and I told her I
was off and away to-morrow. And I saidUnclethat you had always had
an interest in Miss Dombey since that night when she was hereand
always wished her well and happyand always would be proud and glad
to serve her in the least: I thought I might say thatyou knowunder
the circumstances. Don't you think so ?'

'Yesmy boyyes' replied his Unclein the tone as before.

'And I added' pursued Walter'that if she - SusanI mean - could
ever let you knoweither through herselfor Mrs Richardsor anybody
else who might be coming this waythat Miss Dombey was well and
happyyou would take it very kindlyand would write so much to me
and I should take it very kindly too. There! Upon my wordUncle'
said Walter'I scarcely slept all last night through thinking of
doing this; and could not make up my mind when I was outwhether to
do it or not; and yet I am sure it is the true feeling of my heart
and I should have been quite miserable afterwards if I had not
relieved it.'

His honest voice and manner corroborated what he saidand quite
established its ingenuousness.

'Soif you ever see herUncle' said Walter'I mean Miss Dombey
now - and perhaps you maywho knows! - tell her how much I felt for
her; how much I used to think of her when I was here; how I spoke of
herwith the tears in my eyesUncleon this last night before I
went away. Tell her that I said I never could forget her gentle
manneror her beautiful faceor her sweet kind disposition that was
better than all. And as I didn't take them from a woman's feetor a
young lady's: only a little innocent child's' said Walter: 'tell her
if you don't mindUnclethat I kept those shoes - she'll remember
how often they fell offthat night - and took them away with me as a
remembrance!'

They were at that very moment going out at the door in one of
Walter's trunks. A porter carrying off his baggage on a truck for
shipment at the docks on board the Son and Heirhad got possession of
them; and wheeled them away under the very eye of the insensible
Midshipman before their owner had well finished speaking.

But that ancient mariner might have been excused his insensibility
to the treasure as it rolled away. Forunder his eye at the same
momentaccurately within his range of observationcoming full into
the sphere of his startled and intensely wide-awake look-outwere
Florence and Susan Nipper: Florence looking up into his face half
timidlyand receiving the whole shock of his wooden ogling!

More than thisthey passed into the shopand passed in at the
parlour door before they were observed by anybody but the Midshipman.
And Walterhaving his back to the doorwould have known nothing of
their apparition even thenbut for seeing his Uncle spring out of his
own chairand nearly tumble over another.


'WhyUncle!' exclaimed Walter. 'What's the matter?'

Old Solomon replied'Miss Dombey!'

'Is it possible?' cried Walterlooking round and starting up in
his turn. 'Here!'

WhyIt was so possible and so actualthatwhile the words were
on his lipsFlorence hurried past him; took Uncle Sol's
snuff-coloured lapelsone in each hand; kissed him on the cheek; and
turninggave her hand to Walter with a simple truth and earnestness
that was her ownand no one else's in the world!

'Going awayWalter!' said Florence.

'YesMiss Dombey' he repliedbut not so hopefully as he
endeavoured: 'I have a voyage before me.'

'And your Uncle' said Florencelooking back at Solomon. 'He is
sorry you are goingI am sure. Ah! I see he is! Dear WalterI am
very sorry too.'

'Goodness knows' exclaimed Miss Nipper'there's a many we could
spare insteadif numbers is a objectMrs Pipchin as a overseer would
come cheap at her weight in goldand if a knowledge of black slavery
should be requiredthem Blimbers is the very people for the
sitiwation.'

With that Miss Nipper untied her bonnet stringsand alter looking
vacantly for some moments into a little black teapot that was set
forth with the usual homely service on the tableshook her head and a
tin canisterand began unasked to make the tea.

In the meantime Florence had turned again to the Instrument-maker
who was as full of admiration as surprise. 'So grown!' said old Sol.
'So improved! And yet not altered! Just the same!'

'Indeed!' said Florence.

'Ye - yes' returned old Solrubbing his hands slowlyand
considering the matter half aloudas something pensive in the bright
eyes looking at him arrested his attention. 'Yesthat expression was
in the younger facetoo!'

'You remember me' said Florence with a smile'and what a little
creature I was then?'

'My dear young lady' returned the Instrument-maker'how could I
forget youoften as I have thought of you and heard of you since! At
the very momentindeedwhen you came inWally was talking about you
to meand leaving messages for youand - '

'Was he?' said Florence. 'Thank youWalter! Oh thank youWalter!
I was afraid you might be going away and hardly thinking of me;' and
again she gave him her little hand so freely and so faithfully that
Walter held it for some moments in his ownand could not bear to let
it go.

Yet Walter did not hold it as he might have held it oncenor did
its touch awaken those old day-dreams of his boyhood that had floated
past him sometimes even latelyand confused him with their indistinct
and broken shapes. The purity and innocence of her endearing manner
and its perfect trustfulnessand the undisguised regard for him that
lay so deeply seated in her constant eyesand glowed upon her fair


face through the smile that shaded - for alas! it was a smile too sad
to brighten - itwere not of their romantic race. They brought back
to his thoughts the early death-bed he had seen her tendingand the
love the child had borne her; and on the wings of such remembrances
she seemed to rise upfar above his idle fanciesinto clearer and
serener air.

'I - I am afraid I must call you Walter's UncleSir' said
Florence to the old man'if you'll let me.'

'My dear young lady' cried old Sol. 'Let you! Good gracious!'

'We always knew you by that nameand talked of you' said
Florenceglancing roundand sighing gently. 'The nice old parlour!
Just the same! How well I recollect it!'

Old Sol looked first at herthen at his nephewand then rubbed
his handsand rubbed his spectaclesand said below his breath'Ah!
timetimetime!'

There was a short silence; during which Susan Nipper skilfully
impounded two extra cups and saucers from the cupboardand awaited
the drawing of the tea with a thoughtful air.

'I want to tell Walter's Uncle' said Florencelaying her hand
timidly upon the old man's as it rested on the tableto bespeak his
attention'something that I am anxious about. He is going to be left
aloneand if he will allow me - not to take Walter's placefor that
I couldn't dobut to be his true friend and help him if I ever can
while Walter is awayI shall be very much obliged to him indeed. Will
you? May IWalter's Uncle?'

The Instrument-makerwithout speakingput her hand to his lips
and Susan Nipperleaning back with her arms crossedin the chair of
presidency into which she had voted herselfbit one end of her bonnet
stringsand heaved a gentle sigh as she looked up at the skylight.

'You will let me come to see you' said Florence'when I can; and
you will tell me everything about yourself and Walter; and you will
have no secrets from Susan when she comes and I do notbut will
confide in usand trust usand rely upon us. And you'll try to let
us be a comfort to you? Will youWalter's Uncle?'

The sweet face looking into histhe gentle pleading eyesthe soft
voiceand the light touch on his arm made the more winning by a
child's respect and honour for his agethat gave to all an air of
graceful doubt and modest hesitation - theseand her natural
earnestnessso overcame the poor old Instrument-makerthat he only
answered:

'Wally! say a word for memy dear. I'm very grateful.'

'NoWalter' returned Florence with her quiet smile. 'Say nothing
for himif you please. I understand him very welland we must learn
to talk together without youdear Walter.'

The regretful tone in which she said these latter wordstouched
Walter more than all the rest.

'Miss Florence' he repliedwith an effort to recover the cheerful
manner he had preserved while talking with his Uncle'I know no more
than my Unclewhat to say in acknowledgment of such kindnessI am
sure. But what could I sayafter allif I had the power of talking
for an hourexcept that it is like you?'


Susan Nipper began upon a new part of her bonnet stringand nodded
at the skylightin approval of the sentiment expressed.

'Oh! butWalter' said Florence'there is something that I wish
to say to you before you go awayand you must call me Florenceif
you pleaseand not speak like a stranger.'

'Like a stranger!' returned Walter'No. I couldn't speak so. I am
sureat leastI couldn't feel like one.'

'Aybut that is not enoughand is not what I mean. ForWalter'
added Florencebursting into tears'he liked you very muchand said
before he died that he was fond of youand said "Remember Walter!"
and if you'll be a brother to meWalternow that he is gone and I
have none on earthI'll be your sister all my lifeand think of you
like one wherever we may be! This is what I wished to saydear
Walterbut I cannot say it as I wouldbecause my heart is full.'

And in its fulness and its sweet simplicityshe held out both her
hands to him. Walter taking themstooped down and touched the tearful
face that neither shrunk nor turned awaynor reddened as he did so
but looked up at him with confidence and truth. In that one moment
every shadow of doubt or agitation passed away from Walter's soul. It
seemed to him that he responded to her innocent appealbeside the
dead child's bed: andin the solemn presence he had seen there
pledged himself to cherish and protect her very imagein his
banishmentwith brotherly regard; to garner up her simple faith
inviolate; and hold himself degraded if he breathed upon it any
thought that was not in her own breast when she gave it to him.

Susan Nipperwho had bitten both her bonnet strings at onceand
imparted a great deal of private emotion to the skylightduring this
transactionnow changed the subject by inquiring who took milk and
who took sugar; and being enlightened on these pointspoured out the
tea. They all four gathered socially about the little tableand took
tea under that young lady's active superintendence; and the presence
of Florence in the back parlourbrightened the Tartar frigate on the
wall.

Half an hour ago Walterfor his lifewould have hardly called her
by her name. But he could do so now when she entreated him. He could
think of her being therewithout a lurking misgiving that it would
have been better if she had not come. He could calmly think how
beautiful she washow full of promisewhat a home some happy man
would find in such a heart one day. He could reflect upon his own
place in that heartwith pride; and with a brave determinationif
not to deserve it - he still thought that far above him - never to
deserve it less

Some fairy influence must surely have hovered round the hands of
Susan Nipper when she made the teaengendering the tranquil air that
reigned in the back parlour during its discussion. Some
counter-influence must surely have hovered round the hands of Uncle
Sol's chronometerand moved them faster than the Tartar frigate ever
went before the wind. Be this as it maythe visitors had a coach in
waiting at a quiet corner not far off; and the chronometeron being
incidentally referred togave such a positive opinion that it had
been waiting a long timethat it was impossible to doubt the fact
especially when stated on such unimpeachable authority. If Uncle Sol
had been going to be hanged by his own timehe never would have
allowed that the chronometer was too fastby the least fraction of a
second.


Florence at parting recapitulated to the old man all that she had
said beforeand bound him to the compact. Uncle Sol attended her
lovingly to the legs of the wooden Midshipmanand there resigned her
to Walterwho was ready to escort her and Susan Nipper to the coach.

'Walter' said Florence by the way'I have been afraid to ask
before your Uncle. Do you think you will be absent very long?'

'Indeed' said Walter'I don't know. I fear so. Mr Dombey
signified as muchI thoughtwhen he appointed me.'

'Is it a favourWalter?' inquired Florenceafter a moment's
hesitationand looking anxiously in his face.

'The appointment?' returned Walter.

'Yes.'

Walter would have given anything to have answered in the
affirmativebut his face answered before his lips couldand Florence
was too attentive to it not to understand its reply.

'I am afraid you have scarcely been a favourite with Papa' she
saidtimidly.

'There is no reason' replied Waltersmiling'why I should be.'

'No reasonWalter!'

'There was no reason' said Walterunderstanding what she meant.
'There are many people employed in the House. Between Mr Dombey and a
young man like methere's a wide space of separation. If I do my
dutyI do what I oughtand do no more than all the rest.'

Had Florence any misgiving of which she was hardly conscious: any
misgiving that had sprung into an indistinct and undefined existence
since that recent night when she had gone down to her father's room:
that Walter's accidental interest in herand early knowledge of her
might have involved him in that powerful displeasure and dislike? Had
Walter any such ideaor any sudden thought that it was in her mind at
that moment? Neither of them hinted at it. Neither of them spoke at
allfor some short time. Susanwalking on the other side of Walter
eyed them both sharply; and certainly Miss Nipper's thoughts travelled
in that directionand very confidently too.

'You may come back very soon' said Florence'perhapsWalter.'

'I may come back' said Walter'an old manand find you an old
lady. But I hope for better things.'

'Papa' said Florenceafter a moment'will - will recover from
his griefand - speak more freely to me one dayperhaps; and if he
shouldI will tell him how much I wish to see you back againand ask
him to recall you for my sake.'

There was a touching modulation in these words about her father
that Walter understood too well.

The coach being close at handhe would have left her without
speakingfor now he felt what parting was; but Florence held his hand
when she was seatedand then he found there was a little packet in
her own.

'Walter' she saidlooking full upon him with her affectionate


eyes'like youI hope for better things. I will pray for themand
believe that they will arrive. I made this little gift for Paul. Pray
take it with my loveand do not look at it until you are gone away.
And nowGod bless youWalter! never forget me. You are my brother
dear!'

He was glad that Susan Nipper came between themor he might have
left her with a sorrowful remembrance of him. He was glad too that she
did not look out of the coach againbut waved the little hand to him
insteadas long as he could see it.

In spite of her requesthe could not help opening the packet that
night when he went to bed. It was a little purse: and there was was
money in it.

Bright rose the sun next morningfrom his absence in strange
countries and up rose Walter with it to receive the Captainwho was
already at the door: having turned out earlier than was necessaryin
order to get under weigh while Mrs MacStinger was still slumbering.
The Captain pretended to be in tip-top spiritsand brought a very
smoky tongue in one of the pockets of the of the broad blue coat for
breakfast.

'AndWal'r' said the Captainwhen they took their seats at
tableif your Uncle's the man I think himhe'll bring out the last
bottle of the Madeira on the present occasion.'

'NonoNed' returned the old man. 'No! That shall be opened when
Walter comes home again.'

'Well said!' cried the Captain. 'Hear him!'

'There it lies' said Sol Gills'down in the little cellar
covered with dirt and cobwebs. There may be dirt and cobwebs over you
and me perhapsNedbefore it sees the light.'

'Hear him! 'cried the Captain. 'Good morality! Wal'rmy lad. Train
up a fig-tree in the way it should goand when you are old sit under
the shade on it. Overhaul the - Well' said the Captain on second
thoughts'I ain't quite certain where that's to be foundbut when
foundmake a note of. Sol Gillsheave ahead again!'

'But there or somewhereit shall lieNeduntil Wally comes back
to claim it' said the old man. 'That's all I meant to say.'

'And well said too' returned the Captain; 'and if we three don't
crack that bottle in companyI'll give you two leave to.'

Notwithstanding the Captain's excessive jovialityhe made but a
poor hand at the smoky tonguethough he tried very hardwhen anybody
looked at himto appear as if he were eating with a vast apetite. He
was terribly afraidlikewiseof being left alone with either Uncle
or nephew; appearing to consider that his only chance of safety as to
keeping up appearanceswas in there being always three together. This
terror on the part of the Captainreduced him to such ingenious
evasions as running to the doorwhen Solomon went to put his coat on
under pretence of having seen an extraordinary hackney-coach pass: and
darting out into the road when Walter went upstairs to take leave of
the lodgerson a feint of smelling fire in a neighbouring chimney.
These artifices Captain Cuttle deemed inscrutable by any uninspired
observer.

Walter was coming down from his parting expedition upstairsand
was crossing the shop to go back to the little parlourwhen he saw a


faded face he knewlooking in at the doorand darted towards it.

'Mr Carker!' cried Walterpressing the hand of John Carker the
Junior. 'Pray come in! This is kind of youto be here so early to say
good-bye to me. You knew how glad it would make me to shake hands with
youoncebefore going away. I cannot say how glad I am to have this
opportunity. Pray come in.'

'It is not likely that we may ever meet againWalter' returned
the othergently resisting his invitation'and I am glad of this
opportunity too. I may venture to speak to youand to take you by the
handon the eve of separation. I shall not have to resist your frank
approachesWalterany more.

There was a melancholy in his smile as he said itthat showed he
had found some company and friendship for his thoughts even in that.

'AhMr Carker!' returned Walter. 'Why did you resist them? You
could have done me nothing but goodI am very sure.

He shook his head. 'If there were any good' he said'I could do
on this earthI would do itWalterfor you. The sight of you from
day to dayhas been at once happiness and remorse to me. But the
pleasure has outweighed the pain. I know thatnowby knowing what I
lose.'

'Come inMr Carkerand make acquaintance with my good old Uncle'
urged Walter. 'I have often talked to him about youand he will be
glad to tell you all he hears from me. I have not' said Walter
noticing his hesitationand speaking with embarrassment himself: 'I
have not told him anything about our last conversationMr Carker; not
even himbelieve me.

The grey Junior pressed his handand tears rose in his eyes.

'If I ever make acquaintance with himWalter' he returned'it
will be that I may hear tidings of you. Rely on my not wronging your
forbearance and consideration. It would be to wrong itnot to tell
him all the truthbefore I sought a word of confidence from him. But
I have no friend or acquaintance except you: and even for your sake
am little likely to make any.'

'I wish' said Walter'you had suffered me to be your friend
indeed. I always wished itMr Carkeras you know; but never half so
much as nowwhen we are going to part'

'It is enough replied the other'that you have been the friend of
my own breastand that when I have avoided you mostmy heart
inclined the most towards youand was fullest of you. Walter
good-bye!'

'Good-byeMr Carker. Heaven be with youSir!' cried Walter with
emotion.

'If' said the otherretaining his hand while he spoke; 'if when
you come backyou miss me from my old cornerand should hear from
anyone where I am lyingcome and look upon my grave. Think that I
might have been as honest and as happy as you! And let me thinkwhen
I know time is coming onthat some one like my former self may stand
therefor a momentand remember me with pity and forgiveness!
Waltergood-bye!'

His figure crept like a shadow down the brightsun-lighted street
so cheerful yet so solemn in the early summer morning; and slowly


passed away.


The relentless chronometer at last announced that Walter must turn
his back upon the wooden Midshipman: and away they wenthimselfhis
Uncleand the Captainin a hackney-coach to a wharfwhere they were
to take steam-boat for some Reach down the riverthe name of which
as the Captain gave it outwas a hopeless mystery to the ears of
landsmen. Arrived at this Reach (whither the ship had repaired by last
night's tide)they were boarded by various excited watermenand
among others by a dirty Cyclops of the Captain's acquaintancewho
with his one eyehad made the Captain out some mile and a half off
and had been exchanging unintelligible roars with him ever since.
Becoming the lawful prize of this personagewho was frightfully
hoarse and constitutionally in want of shavingthey were all three
put aboard the Son and Heir. And the Son and Heir was in a pretty
state of confusionwith sails lying all bedraggled on the wet decks
loose ropes tripping people upmen in red shirts running barefoot to
and frocasks blockading every foot of spaceandin the thickest of
the fraya black cook in a black caboose up to his eyes in vegetables
and blinded with smoke.


The Captain immediately drew Walter into a cornerand with a great
effortthat made his face very redpulled up the silver watchwhich
was so bigand so tight in his pocketthat it came out like a bung.


'Wal'r' said the Captainhanding it overand shaking him
heartily by the hand'a parting giftmy lad. Put it back half an
hour every morningand about another quarter towards the arternoon
and it's a watch that'll do you credit.'


'Captain Cuttle! I couldn't think of it!' cried Walterdetaining
himfor he was running away. 'Pray take it back. I have one already.'


'ThenWal'r' said the Captainsuddenly diving into one of his
pockets and bringing up the two teaspoons and the sugar-tongswith
which he had armed himself to meet such an objection'take this here
trifle of plateinstead.'


'NonoI couldn't indeed!' cried Walter'a thousand thanks!
Don't throw them awayCaptain Cuttle!' for the Captain was about to
jerk them overboard. 'They'll be of much more use to you than me. Give
me your stick. I have often thought I should like to have it. There!
Good-byeCaptain Cuttle! Take care of my Uncle! Uncle SolGod bless
you!'


They were over the side in the confusionbefore Walter caught
another glimpse of either; and when he ran up to the sternand looked
after themhe saw his Uncle hanging down his head in the boatand
Captain Cuttle rapping him on the back with the great silver watch (it
must have been very painful)and gesticulating hopefully with the
teaspoons and sugar-tongs. Catching sight of WalterCaptain Cuttle
dropped the property into the bottom of the boat with perfect
unconcernbeing evidently oblivious of its existenceand pulling off
the glazed hat hailed him lustily. The glazed hat made quite a show in
the sun with its glisteningand the Captain continued to wave it
until he could be seen no longer. Then the confusion on boardwhich
had been rapidly increasingreached its height; two or three other
boats went away with a cheer; the sails shone bright and full above
as Walter watched them spread their surface to the favourable breeze;
the water flew in sparkles from the prow; and off upon her voyage went
the Son and Heiras hopefully and trippingly as many another son and
heirgone downhad started on his way before her.


Day after dayold Sol and Captain Cuttle kept her reckoning in the



little hack parlour and worked out her coursewith the chart spread
before them on the round table. At nightwhen old Sol climbed
upstairsso lonelyto the attic where it sometimes blew great guns
he looked up at the stars and listened to the windand kept a longer
watch than would have fallen to his lot on board the ship. The last
bottle of the old Madeirawhich had had its cruising daysand known
its dangers of the deeplay silently beneath its dust and cobwebsin
the meanwhileundisturbed.


CHAPTER 20.


Mr Dombey goes upon a Journey


'Mr DombeySir' said Major Bagstock'Joee' B. is not in general
a man of sentimentfor Joseph is tough. But Joe has his feelings
Sirand when they are awakened - DammeMr Dombey? cried the Major
with sudden ferocity'this is weaknessand I won't submit to it]'


Major Bagstock delivered himself of these expressions on receiving
Mr Dombey as his guest at the head of his own staircase in Princess's
Place. Mr Dombey had come to breakfast with the Majorprevious to
their setting forth on their trip; and the ill-starved Native had
already undergone a world of misery arising out of the muffinswhile
in connexion with the general question of boiled eggslife was a
burden to him.


'It is not for an old soldier of the Bagstock breed' observed the
Majorrelapsing into a mild state'to deliver himself upa prey to
his own emotions; but - dammeSir' cried the Majorin another spasm
of ferocity'I condole with you!'


The Major's purple visage deepened in its hueand the Major's
lobster eyes stood out in bolder reliefas he shook Mr Dombey by the
handimparting to that peaceful action as defiant a character as if
it had been the prelude to his immediately boxing Mr Dombey for a
thousand pounds a side and the championship of England. With a
rotatory motion of his headand a wheeze very like the cough of a
horsethe Major then conducted his visitor to the sitting-roomand
there welcomed him (having now composed his feelings) with the freedom
and frankness ofa travelling companion.


'Dombey' said the Major'I'm glad to see you. I'm proud to see
you. There are not many men in Europe to whom J. Bagstock would say
that - for Josh is blunt. Sir: it's his nature - but Joey B. is proud
to see youDombey.'


'Major' returned Mr Dombey'you are very obliging.'


'NoSir' said the Major'Devil a bit! That's not my character.
If that had been Joe's characterJoe might have beenby this time
Lieutenant-General Sir Joseph BagstockK.C.B.and might have
received you in very different quarters. You don't know old Joe yetI
find. But this occasionbeing specialis a source of pride to me. By
the LordSir' said the Major resolutely'it's an honour to me!'


Mr Dombeyin his estimation of himself and his moneyfelt that
this was very trueand therefore did not dispute the point. But the
instinctive recognition of such a truth by the Majorand his plain
avowal of itwere very able. It was a confirmation to Mr Dombeyif
he had required anyof his not being mistaken in the Major. It was an



assurance to him that his power extended beyond his own immediate
sphere; and that the Majoras an officer and a gentlemanhad a no
less becoming sense of itthan the beadle of the Royal Exchange.

And if it were ever consolatory to know thisor the like of this
it was consolatory thenwhen the impotence of his willthe
instability of his hopesthe feebleness of wealthhad been so
direfully impressed upon him. What could it dohis boy had asked him.
Sometimesthinking of the baby questionhe could hardly forbear
inquiringhimselfwhat could it do indeed: what had it done?

But these were lonely thoughtsbred late at night in the sullen
despondency and gloom of his retirementand pride easily found its
reassurance in many testimonies to the truthas unimpeachable and
precious as the Major's. Mr Dombeyin his friendlessnessinclined to
the Major. It cannot be said that he warmed towards himbut he thawed
a littleThe Major had had some part - and not too much - in the days
by the seaside. He was a man of the worldand knew some great people.
He talked muchand told stories; and Mr Dombey was disposed to regard
him as a choice spirit who shone in societyand who had not that
poisonous ingredient of poverty with which choice spirits in general
are too much adulterated. His station was undeniable. Altogether the
Major was a creditable companionwell accustomed to a life of
leisureand to such places as that they were about to visitand
having an air of gentlemanly ease about him that mixed well enough
with his own City characterand did not compete with it at all. If Mr
Dombey had any lingering idea that the Majoras a man accustomedin
the way of his callingto make light of the ruthless hand that had
lately crushed his hopesmight unconsciously impart some useful
philosophy to himand scare away his weak regretshe hid it from
himselfand left it lying at the bottom of his prideunexamined.

'Where is my scoundrel?' said the Majorlooking wrathfully round
the room.

The Nativewho had no particular namebut answered to any
vituperative epithetpresented himself instantly at the door and
ventured to come no nearer.

'You villain!' said the choleric Major'where's the breakfast?'

The dark servant disappeared in search of itand was quickly heard
reascending the stairs in such a tremulous statethat the plates and
dishes on the tray he carriedtrembling sympathetically as he came
rattled againall the way up.

'Dombey' said the Majorglancing at the Native as he arranged the
tableand encouraging him with an awful shake of his fist when he
upset a spoon'here is a devilled grilla savoury piea dish of
kidneysand so forth. Pray sit down. Old Joe can give you nothing but
camp fareyou see.

'Very excellent fareMajor' replied his guest; and not in mere
politeness either; for the Major always took the best possible care of
himselfand indeed ate rather more of rich meats than was good for
himinsomuch that his Imperial complexion was mainly referred by the
faculty to that circumstance.

'You have been looking over the waySir' observed the Major.
'Have you seen our friend?'

'You mean Miss Tox' retorted Mr Dombey. 'No.'

'Charming womanSir' said the Majorwith a fat laugh rising in


his short throatand nearly suffocating him.

'Miss Tox is a very good sort of personI believe' replied Mr
Dombey.

The haughty coldness of the reply seemed to afford Major Bagstock
infinite delight. He swelled and swelledexceedingly: and even laid
down his knife and fork for a momentto rub his hands.

'Old JoeSir' said the Major'was a bit ofa favourite in that
quarter once. But Joe has had his day. J. Bagstock is extinguished outrivalled
- flooredSir.'

'I should have supposed' Mr Dombey replied'that the lady's day
for favourites was over: but perhaps you are jestingMajor.'

'Perhaps you are jestingDombey?' was the Major's rejoinder.

There never was a more unlikely possiblity. It was so clearly
expressed in Mr Dombey's facethat the Major apologised.

'I beg your pardon' he said. 'I see you are in earnest. I tell you
whatDombey.' The Major paused in his eatingand looked mysteriously
indignant. 'That's a de-vilish ambitious womanSir.'

Mr Dombey said 'Indeed?' with frigid indifference: mingled perhaps
with some contemptuous incredulity as to Miss Tox having the
presumption to harbour such a superior quality.

'That womanSir' said the Major'isin her waya Lucifer. Joey

B. has had his daySirbut he keeps his eyes. He seesdoes Joe. His
Royal Highness the late Duke of York observed of Joeyat a levee
that he saw.'
The Major accompanied this with such a lookandbetween eating
drinkinghot teadevilled grillmuffinsand meaningwas
altogether so swollen and inflamed about the headthat even Mr Dombey
showed some anxiety for him.

'That ridiculous old spectacleSir' pursued the Major'aspires.
She aspires sky-highSir. MatrimoniallyDombey.'

'I am sorry for her' said Mr Dombey.

'Don't say thatDombey' returned the Major in a warning voice.

'Why should I notMajor?' said Mr Dombey.

The Major gave no answer but the horse's coughand went on eating
vigorously.

'She has taken an interest in your household' said the Major
stopping short again'and has been a frequent visitor at your house
for some time now.'

'Yes' replied Mr Dombey with great stateliness'Miss Tox was
originally received thereat the time of Mrs Dombey's deathas a
friend of my sister's; and being a well-behaved personand showing a
liking for the poor infantshe was permitted - may I say encouraged to
repeat her visits with my sisterand gradually to occupy a kind of
footing of familiarity in the family. I have' said Mr Dombeyin the
tone of a man who was making a great and valuable concession'I have
a respect for Miss Tox. She his been so obliging as to render many
little services in my house: trifling and insignificant services


perhapsMajorbut not to be disparaged on that account: and I hope I
have had the good fortune to be enabled to acknowledge them by such
attention and notice as it has been in my power to bestow. I hold
myself indebted to Miss ToxMajor' added Mr Dombeywith a slight
wave of his hand'for the pleasure of your acquaintance.'


'Dombey' said the Majorwarmly: 'no! NoSir! Joseph Bagstock can
never permit that assertion to pass uncontradicted. Your knowledge of
old JoeSirsuch as he isand old Joe's knowledge of youSirhad
its origin in a noble fellowSir - in a great creatureSir. Dombey!'
said the Majorwith a struggle which it was not very difficult to
paradehis whole life being a struggle against all kinds of
apoplectic symptoms'we knew each other through your boy.'


Mr Dombey seemed touchedas it is not improbable the Major
designed he should beby this allusion. He looked down and sighed:
and the Majorrousing himself fiercelyagain saidin reference to
the state of mind into which he felt himself in danger of falling
that this was weaknessand nothing should induce him to submit to it.


'Our friend had a remote connexion with that event' said the
Major'and all the credit that belongs to herJ. B. is willing to
give herSir. Notwithstanding whichMa'am' he addedraising his
eyes from his plateand casting them across Princess's Placeto
where Miss Tox was at that moment visible at her window watering her
flowers'you're a scheming jadeMa'amand your ambition is a piece
of monstrous impudence. If it only made yourself ridiculousMa'am'
said the Majorrolling his head at the unconscious Miss Toxwhile
his starting eyes appeared to make a leap towards her'you might do
that to your heart's contentMa'amwithout any objectionI assure
youon the part of Bagstock.' Here the Major laughed frightfully up
in the tips of his ears and in the veins of his head. 'But when
Ma'am' said the Major'you compromise other peopleand generous
unsuspicious people tooas a repayment for their condescensionyou
stir the blood of old Joe in his body.'


'Major' said Mr Dombeyreddening'I hope you do not hint at
anything so absurd on the part of Miss Tox as - '


'Dombey' returned the Major'I hint at nothing. But Joey B. has
lived in the worldSir: lived in the world with his eyes openSir
and his ears cocked: and Joe tells youDombeythat there's a
devilish artful and ambitious woman over the way.'


Mr Dombey involuntarily glanced over the way; and an angry glance
he sent in that directiontoo.


'That's all on such a subject that shall pass the lips of Joseph
Bagstock' said the Major firmly. 'Joe is not a tale-bearerbut there
are times when he must speakwhen he will speak! - confound your
artsMa'am' cried the Majoragain apostrophising his fair
neighbourwith great ire- 'when the provocation is too strong to
admit of his remaining silent.'


The emotion of this outbreak threw the Major into a paroxysm of
horse's coughswhich held him for a long time. On recovering he
added:


'And nowDombeyas you have invited Joe - old Joewho has no
other meritSirbut that he is tough and hearty - to be your guest
and guide at Leamingtoncommand him in any way you pleaseand he is
wholly yours. I don't knowSir' said the Majorwagging his double
chin with a jocose air'what it is you people see in Joe to make you
hold him in such great requestall of you; but this I knowSirthat



if he wasn't pretty toughand obstinate in his refusalsyou'd kill
him among you with your invitations and so forthin double-quick
time.'

Mr Dombeyin a few wordsexpressed his sense of the preference he
received over those other distinguished members of society who were
clamouring for the possession of Major Bagstock. But the Major cut him
short by giving him to understand that he followed his own
inclinationsand that they had risen up in a body and said with one
accord'J. B.Dombey is the man for you to choose as a friend.'

The Major being by this time in a state of repletionwith essence
of savoury pie oozing out at the corners of his eyesand devilled
grill and kidneys tightening his cravat: and the time moreover
approaching for the departure of the railway train to Birminghamby
which they were to leave town: the Native got him into his great-coat
with immense difficultyand buttoned him up until his face looked
staring and gaspingover the top of that garmentas if he were in a
barrel. The Native then handed him separatelyand with a decent
interval between each supplyhis washleather gloveshis thick stick
and his hat; which latter article the Major wore with a rakish air on
one side of his headby way of toning down his remarkable visage. The
Native had previously packedin all possible and impossible parts of
Mr Dombey's chariotwhich was in waitingan unusual quantity of
carpet-bags and small portmanteausno less apoplectic in appearance
than the Major himself: and having filled his own pockets with Seltzer
waterEast India sherrysandwichesshawlstelescopesmapsand
newspapersany or all of which light baggage the Major might require
at any instant of the journeyhe announced that everything was ready.
To complete the equipment of this unfortunate foreigner (currently
believed to be a prince in his own country)when he took his seat in
the rumble by the side of Mr Towlinsona pile of the Major's cloaks
and great-coats was hurled upon him by the landlordwho aimed at him
from the pavement with those great missiles like a Titanand so
covered him upthat he proceededin a living tombto the railroad
station.

But before the carriage moved awayand while the Native was in the
act of sepultureMiss Tox appearing at her windowwaved a lilywhite
handkerchief. Mr Dombey received this parting salutation very coldly very
coldly even for him - and honouring her with the slightest
possible inclination of his headleaned back in the carriage with a
very discontented look. His marked behaviour seemed to afford the
Major (who was all politeness in his recognition of Miss Tox)
unbounded satisfaction; and he sat for a long time afterwards
leeringand chokinglike an over-fed Mephistopheles.

During the bustle of preparation at the railwayMr Dombey and the
Major walked up and down the platform side by side; the former
taciturn and gloomyand the latter entertaining himor entertaining
himselfwith a variety of anecdotes and reminiscencesin most of
which Joe Bagstock was the principal performer. Neither of the two
observed that in the course of these walksthey attracted the
attention of a working man who was standing near the engineand who
touched his hat every time they passed; for Mr Dombey habitually
looked over the vulgar herdnot at them; and the Major was looking
at the timeinto the core of one of his stories. At lengthhowever
this man stepped before them as they turned roundand pulling his hat
offand keeping it offducked his head to Mr Dombey.

'Beg your pardonSir' said the man'but I hope you're a doin'
pretty wellSir.'

He was dressed in a canvas suit abundantly besmeared with coal-dust


and oiland had cinders in his whiskersand a smell of half-slaked
ashes all over him. He was not a bad-looking fellownor even what
could be fairly called a dirty-looking fellowin spite of this; and
in shorthe was Mr Toodleprofessionally clothed.

'I shall have the honour of stokin' of you downSir' said Mr
Toodle. 'Beg your pardonSir. - I hope you find yourself a coming
round?'

Mr Dombey looked at himin return for his tone of interestas if
a man like that would make his very eyesight dirty.

''Scuse the libertySir' said Toodleseeing he was not clearly
remembered'but my wife Pollyas was called Richards in your family

-'
A change in Mr Dombey's facewhich seemed to express recollection
of himand so it didbut it expressed in a much stronger degree an
angry sense of humiliationstopped Mr Toodle short.

'Your wife wants moneyI suppose' said Mr Dombeyputting his
hand in his pocketand speaking (but that he always did) haughtily.

'No thank'eeSir' returned Toodle'I can't say she does. I
don't.'

Mr Dombey was stopped short now in his turn: and awkwardly: with
his hand in his pocket.

'NoSir' said Toodleturning his oilskin cap round and round;
'we're a doin' pretty wellSir; we haven't no cause to complain in
the worldly waySir. We've had four more since thenSirbut we rubs
on.'

Mr Dombey would have rubbed on to his own carriagethough in so
doing he had rubbed the stoker underneath the wheels; but his
attention was arrested by something in connexion with the cap still
going slowly round and round in the man's hand.

'We lost one babby' observed Toodle'there's no denyin'.'

'Lately' added Mr Dombeylooking at the cap.

'NoSirup'ard of three years agobut all the rest is hearty.
And in the matter o readin'Sir' said Toodleducking againas if
to remind Mr Dombey of what had passed between them on that subject
long ago'them boys o' minethey learned meamong 'emarter all.
They've made a wery tolerable scholar of meSirthem boys.'

'ComeMajor!' said Mr Dombey.

'Beg your pardonSir' resumed Toodletaking a step before them
and deferentially stopping them againstill cap in hand: 'I wouldn't
have troubled you with such a pint except as a way of gettin' in the
name of my son Biler - christened Robin - him as you was so good as to
make a Charitable Grinder on.'

'Wellman' said Mr Dombey in his severest manner. 'What about
him?'

'WhySir' returned Toodleshaking his head with a face of great
anxiety and distress'I'm forced to saySirthat he's gone wrong.

'He has gone wronghas he?' said Mr Dombeywith a hard kind of


satisfaction.

'He has fell into bad companyyou seegenelmen' pursued the
fatherlooking wistfully at bothand evidently taking the Major into
the conversation with the hope of having his sympathy. 'He has got
into bad ways. God send he may come to againgenelmenbut he's on
the wrong track now! You could hardly be off hearing of it somehow
Sir' said Toodleagain addressing Mr Dombey individually; 'and it's
better I should out and say my boy's gone rather wrong. Polly's
dreadful down about itgenelmen' said Toodle with the same dejected
lookand another appeal to the Major.

'A son of this man's whom I caused to be educatedMajor' said Mr
Dombeygiving him his arm. 'The usual return!'

'Take advice from plain old Joeand never educate that sort of
peopleSir' returned the Major. 'DammeSirit never does! It
always fails!'

The simple father was beginning to submit that he hoped his son
the quondam Grinderhuffed and cuffedand flogged and badgedand
taughtas parrots areby a brute jobbed into his place of
schoolmaster with as much fitness for it as a houndmight not have
been educated on quite a right plan in some undiscovered respectwhen
Mr Dombey angrily repeating 'The usual return!' led the Major away.
And the Major being heavy to hoist into Mr Dombey's carriageelevated
in mid-airand having to stop and swear that he would flay the Native
aliveand break every bone in his skinand visit other physical
torments upon himevery time he couldn't get his foot on the step
and fell back on that dark exilehad barely time before they started
to repeat hoarsely that it would never do: that it always failed: and
that if he were to educate 'his own vagabond' he would certainly be
hanged.

Mr Dombey assented bitterly; but there was something more in his
bitternessand in his moody way of falling back in the carriageand
looking with knitted brows at the changing objects withoutthan the
failure of that noble educational system administered by the Grinders'
Company. He had seen upon the man's rough cap a piece of new crape
and he had assured himselffrom his manner and his answersthat he
wore it for his son.

So] from high to lowat home or abroadfrom Florence in his great
house to the coarse churl who was feeding the fire then smoking before
themeveryone set up some claim or other to a share in his dead boy
and was a bidder against him! Could he ever forget how that woman had
wept over his pillowand called him her own child! or how hewaking
from his sleephad asked for herand had raised himself in his bed
and brightened when she carne in!

To think of this presumptuous raker among coals and ashes going on
before therewith his sign of mourning! To think that he dared to
entereven by a common show like thatinto the trial and
disappointrnent of a proud gentleman's secret heart! To think that
this lost childwho was to have divided with him his richesand his
projectsand his powerand allied with whom he was to have shut out
all the world as with a double door of goldshould have let in such a
herd to insult him with their knowledge of his defeated hopesand
their boasts of claiming community of feeling with himselfso far
removed: if not of having crept into the place wherein he would have
lorded italone!

He found no pleasure or relief in the journey. Tortured by these
thoughts he carried monotony with himthrough the rushing landscape


and hurried headlongnot through a rich and varied countrybut a
wilderness of blighted plans and gnawing jealousies. The very speed at
which the train was whirled alongmocked the swift course of the
young life that had been borne away so steadily and so inexorably to
its foredoomed end. The power that forced itself upon its iron way its
own - defiant of all paths and roadspiercing through the heart
of every obstacleand dragging living creatures of all classesages
and degrees behind itwas a type of the triumphant monsterDeath.

Awaywith a shriekand a roarand a rattlefrom the town
burrowmg among the dwellings of men and making the streets hum
flashing out into the meadows for a momentmining in through the damp
earthbooming on in darkness and heavy airbursting out again into
the sunny day so bright and wide; awaywith a shriekand a roarand
a rattlethrough the fieldsthrough the woodsthrough the corn
through the haythrough the chalkthrough the mouldthrough the
claythrough the rockamong objects close at hand and almost in the
graspever flying from the travellerand a deceitful distance ever
moving slowly within him: like as in the track of the remorseless
monsterDeath!

Through the hollowon the heightby the heathby the orchardby
the parkby the gardenover the canalacross the riverwhere the
sheep are feedingwhere the mill is goingwhere the barge is
floatingwhere the dead are lyingwhere the factory is smoking
where the stream is runningwhere the village clusterswhere the
great cathedral riseswhere the bleak moor liesand the wild breeze
smooths or ruffles it at its inconstant will; awaywith a shriekand
a roarand a rattleand no trace to leave behind but dust and
vapour: like as in the track of the remorseless monsterDeath!

Breasting the wind and lightthe shower and sunshineawayand
still awayit rolls and roarsfierce and rapidsmooth and certain
and great works and massive bridges crossing up abovefall like a
beam of shadow an inch broadupon the eyeand then are lost. Away
and still awayonward and onward ever: glimpses of cottage-homesof
housesmansionsrich estatesof husbandry and handicraftof
peopleof old roads and paths that look desertedsmalland
insignificant as they are left behind: and so they doand what else
is there but such glimpsesin the track of the indomitable monster
Death!

Awaywith a shriekand a roarand a rattleplunging down into
the earth againand working on in such a storm of energy and
perseverancethat amidst the darkness and whirlwind the motion seems
reversedand to tend furiously backwarduntil a ray of light upon
the Wet wall shows its surface flying past like a fierce streamAway
once more into the dayand through the daywith a shrill yell of
exultationroaringrattlingtearing onspurning everything with
its dark breathsometimes pausing for a minute where a crowd of faces
arethat in a minute more are not; sometimes lapping water greedily
and before the spout at which it drinks' has ceased to drip upon the
groundshriekingroaringrattling through the purple distance!

Louder and louder yetit shrieks and cries as it comes tearing on
resistless to the goal: and now its waystill like the way of Death
is strewn with ashes thickly. Everything around is blackened. There
are dark pools of watermuddy lanesand miserable habitations far
below. There are jagged walls and falling houses close at handand
through the battered roofs and broken windowswretched rooms are
seenwhere 'want and fever hide themselves in many wretched shapes
while smoke and crowded gablesand distorted chimneysand deformity
of brick and mortar penning up deformity of mind and bodychoke the
murky distance. As Mr Dombey looks out of his carriage windowit is


never in his thoughts that the monster who has brought him there has
let the light of day in on these things: not made or caused them. It
was the journey's fitting endand might have been the end of
everything; it was so ruinous and dreary.'

Sopursuing the one course of thoughthe had the one relentless
monster still before him. All things looked blackand coldand
deadly upon himand he on them. He found a likeness to his misfortune
everywhere. There was a remorseless triumph going on about himand it
galled and stung him in his pride and jealousywhatever form it took:
though most of all when it divided with him the love and memory of his
lost boy.

There was a face - he had looked upon iton the previous night
and it on him with eyes that read his soulthough they were dim with
tearsand hidden soon behind two quivering hands - that often had
attended him in fancyon this ride. He had seen itwith the
expression of last nighttimidly pleading to him. It was not
reproachfulbut there was something of doubtalmost of hopeful
incredulity in itwhichas he once more saw that fade away into a
desolate certainty of his dislikewas like reproach. It was a trouble
to him to think of this face of Florence.

Because he felt any new compunction towards it? No. Because the
feeling it awakened in him - of which he had had some old
foreshadowing in older times - was full-formed nowand spoke out
plainlymoving him too muchand threatening to grow too strong for
his composure. Because the face was abroadin the expression of
defeat and persecution that seemed to encircle him like the air.
Because it barbed the arrow of that cruel and remorseless enemy on
which his thoughts so ranand put into its grasp a double-handed
sword. Because he knew full wellin his own breastas he stood
theretinging the scene of transition before him with the morbid
colours of his own mindand making it a ruin and a picture of decay
instead of hopeful changeand promise of better thingsthat life had
quite as much to do with his complainings as death. One child was
goneand one child left. Why was the object of his hope removed
instead of her?

The sweetcalmgentle presence in his fancymoved him to no
reflection but that. She had been unwelcome to him from the first; she
was an aggravation of his bitterness now. If his son had been his only
childand the same blow had fallen on himit would have been heavy
to bear; but infinitely lighter than nowwhen it might have fallen on
her (whom he could have lostor he believed itwithout a pang)and
had not. Her loving and innocent face rising before himhad no
softening or winning influence. He rejected the angeland took up
with the tormenting spirit crouching in his bosom. Her patience
goodnessyouthdevotionlovewere as so many atoms in the ashes
upon which he set his heel. He saw her image in the blight and
blackness all around himnot irradiating but deepening the gloom.
More than once upon this journeyand now again as he stood pondering
at this journey's endtracing figures in the dust with his stickthe
thought came into his mindwhat was there he could interpose between
himself and it?

The Majorwho had been blowing and panting all the way downlike
another engineand whose eye had often wandered from his newspaper to
leer at the prospectas if there were a procession of discomfited
Miss Toxes pouring out in the smoke of the trainand flying away over
the fields to hide themselves in any place of refugearoused his
friends by informing him that the post-horses were harnessed and the
carriage ready.


'Dombey' said the Majorrapping him on the arm with his cane
'don't be thoughtful. It's a bad habitOld JoeSirwouldn't be as
tough as you see himif he had ever encouraged it. You are too great
a manDombeyto be thoughtful. In your positionSiryou're far
above that kind of thing.'

The Major even in his friendly remonstrrncesthus consulting the
dignity and honour of Mr Dombeyand showing a lively sense of their
importanceMr Dombey felt more than ever disposed to defer to a
gentleman possessing so much good sense and such a well-regulated
mind; acoordingly he made an effort to listen to the Major's stories
as they trotted along the turnpike road; and the Majorfinding both
the pace and the road a great deal better adapted to his
conversational powers than the mode of travelling they had just
relinquishedcame out of his entertainment

But still the Majorblunt and tough as he wasand as he so very
often said he wasadministered some palatable catering to his
companion's appetite. He relatedor rather suffered it to escape him
accidentallyand as one might saygrudgingly and against his will
how there was great curiosity and excitement at the clubin regard of
his friend Dombey. How he was suffocated with questionsSir. How old
Joe Bagstock was a greater man than everthereon the strength of
Dombey. How they said'Bagstockyour friend Dombey nowwhat is the
view he takes of such and such a question? Thoughby the RoodSir'
said the Majorwith a broad stare'how they discovered that J. B.
ever came to know youis a mystery!'

In this flow of spirits and conversationonly interrupted by his
usual plethoric symptomsand by intervals of lunchand from time to
time by some violent assault upon the Nativewho wore a pair of
ear-rings in his dark-brown earsand on whom his European clothes sat
with an outlandish impossibility of adjustment - beingof their own
accordand without any reference to the tailor's artlong where they
ought to be shortshort where they ought to be longtight where they
ought to be looseand loose where they ought to be tight - and to
which he imparted a new gracewhenever the Major attacked himby
shrinking into them like a shrivelled nutor a cold monkey - in this
flow of spirits and conversationthe Major continued all day: so that
when evening came onand found them trotting through the green and
leafy road near Leamingtonthe Major's voicewhat with talking and
eating and chuckling and chokingappeared to be in the box under the
rumbleor in some neighbouring hay-stack. Nor did the Major improve
it at the Royal Hotelwhere rooms and dinner had been orderedand
where he so oppressed his organs of speech by eating and drinking
that when he retired to bed he had no voice at allexcept to cough
withand could only make himself intelligible to the dark servant by
gasping at him.

He not only rose next morninghoweverlike a giant refreshedbut
conducted himselfat breakfast like a giant refreshing. At this meal
they arranged their daily habits. The Major was to take the
responsibility of ordering evrything to eat and drink; and they were
to have a late breakfast together every morningand a late dinner
together every day. Mr Dombey would prefer remaining in his own room
or walking in the country by himselfon that first day of their
sojourn at Leamington; but next morning he would be happy to accompany
the Major to the Pump-roomand about the town. So they parted until
dinner-time. Mr Dombey retired to nurse his wholesome thoughts in his
own way. The Majorattended by the Native carrying a camp-stoola
great-coatand an umbrellaswaggered up and down through all the
public places: looking into subscription books to find out who was
therelooking up old ladies by whom he was much admiredreporting J.

B. tougher than everand puffing his rich friend Dombey wherever he

went. There never was a man who stood by a friend more staunchly than
the Majorwhen in puffing himhe puffed himself.

It was surprising how much new conversation the Major had to let
off at dinner-timeand what occasion he gave Mr Dombey to admire his
social qualities. At breakfast next morninghe knew the contents of
the latest newspapers received; and mentioned several subjects in
connexion with themon which his opinion had recently been sought by
persons of such power and mightthat they were only to be obscurely
hinted at. Mr Dombeywho had been so long shut up within himselfand
who had rarelyat any timeoverstepped the enchanted circle within
which the operations of Dombey and Son were conductedbegan to think
this an improvement on his solitary life; and in place of excusing
himself for another dayas he had thought of doing when alonewalked
out with the Major arm-in-arm.

CHAPTER 21.

New Faces

The MAJORmore blue-faced and staring - more over-ripeas it
werethan ever - and giving ventevery now and thento one of the
horse's coughsnot so much of necessity as in a spontaneous explosion
of importancewalked arm-in-arm with Mr Dombey up the sunny side of
the waywith his cheeks swelling over his tight stockhis legs
majestically wide apartand his great head wagging from side to side
as if he were remonstrating within himself for being such a
captivating object. They had not walked many yardsbefore the Major
encountered somebody he knewnor many yards farther before the Major
encountered somebody else he knewbut he merely shook his fingers at
them as he passedand led Mr Dombey on: pointing out the localities
as they wentand enlivening the walk with any current scandal
suggested by them.

In this manner the Major and Mr Dombey were walking arm-in-arm
much to their own satisfactionwhen they beheld advancing towards
thema wheeled chairin which a lady was seatedindolently steering
her carriage by a kind of rudder in frontwhile it was propelled by
some unseen power in the rear. Although the lady was not youngshe
was very blooming in the face - quite rosy- and her dress and attitude
were perfectly juvenile. Walking by the side of the chairand
carrying her gossamer parasol with a proud and weary airas if so
great an effort must be soon abandoned and the parasol dropped
sauntered a much younger ladyvery handsomevery haughtyvery
wilfulwho tossed her head and drooped her eyelidsas thoughif
there were anything in all the world worth looking intosave a
mirrorit certainly was not the earth or sky.

'Whywhat the devil have we hereSir!' cried the Majorstopping
as this little cavalcade drew near.

'My dearest Edith!' drawled the lady in the chair'Major
Bagstock!'

The Major no sooner heard the voicethan he relinquished Mr
Dombey's armdarted forwardtook the hand of the lady in the chair
and pressed it to his lips. With no less gallantrythe Major folded
both his gloves upon his heartand bowed low to the other lady. And
nowthe chair having stoppedthe motive power became visible in the
shape of a flushed page pushing behindwho seemed to have in part


outgrown and in part out-pushed his strengthfor when he stood
upright he was talland wanand thinand his plight appeared the
more forlorn from his having injured the shape of his hatby butting
at the carriage with his head to urge it forwardas is sometimes done
by elephants in Oriental countries.

'Joe Bagstock' said the Major to both ladies'is a proud and
happy man for the rest of his life.'

'You false creature! said the old lady in the chairinsipidly.
'Where do you come from? I can't bear you.'

'Then suffer old Joe to present a friendMa'am' said the Major
promptly'as a reason for being tolerated. Mr DombeyMrs Skewton.'
The lady in the chair was gracious. 'Mr DombeyMrs Granger.' The lady
with the parasol was faintly conscious of Mr Dombey's taking off his
hatand bowing low. 'I am delightedSir' said the Major'to have
this opportunity.'

The Major seemed in earnestfor he looked at all the threeand
leered in his ugliest manner.

'Mrs SkewtonDombey' said the Major'makes havoc in the heart of
old Josh.'

Mr Dombey signified that he didn't wonder at it.

'You perfidious goblin' said the lady in the chair'have done!
How long have you been herebad man?'

'One day' replied the Major.

'And can you be a dayor even a minute' returned the lady
slightly settling her false curls and false eyebrows with her fanand
showing her false teethset off by her false complexion'in the
garden of what's-its-name

'EdenI supposeMama' interrupted the younger ladyscornfully.

'My dear Edith' said the other'I cannot help it. I never can
remember those frightful names - without having your whole Soul and
Being inspired by the sight of Nature; by the perfume' said Mrs
Skewtonrustling a handkerchief that was faint and sickly with
essences'of her artless breathyou creature!'

The discrepancy between Mrs Skewton's fresh enthusiasm of words
and forlornly faded mannerwas hardly less observable than that
between her agewhich was about seventyand her dresswhich would
have been youthful for twenty-seven. Her attitude in the wheeled chair
(which she never varied) was one in which she had been taken in a
barouchesome fifty years beforeby a then fashionable artist who
had appended to his published sketch the name of Cleopatra: in
consequence of a discovery made by the critics of the timethat it
bore an exact resemblance to that Princess as she reclined on board
her galley. Mrs Skewton was a beauty thenand bucks threw
wine-glasses over their heads by dozens in her honour. The beauty and
the barouche had both passed awaybut she still preserved the
attitudeand for this reason expresslymaintained the wheeled chair
and the butting page: there being nothing whateverexcept the
attitudeto prevent her from walking.

'Mr Dombey is devoted to NatureI trust?' said Mrs Skewton
settling her diamond brooch. And by the wayshe chiefly lived upon
the reputation of some diamondsand her family connexions.


'My friend DombeyMa'am' returned the Major'may be devoted to
her in secretbut a man who is paramount in the greatest city in the
universe


'No one can be a stranger' said Mrs Skewton'to Mr Dombey's
immense influence.'

As Mr Dombey acknowledged the compliment with a bend of his head
the younger lady glancing at himmet his eyes.

'You reside hereMadam?' said Mr Dombeyaddressing her.

'Nowe have been to a great many places. To Harrogate and
Scarboroughand into Devonshire. We have been visitingand resting
here and there. Mama likes change.'

'Edith of course does not' said Mrs Skewtonwith a ghastly
archness.

'I have not found that there is any change in such places' was the
answerdelivered with supreme indifference.

'They libel me. There is only one changeMr Dombey' observed Mrs
Skewtonwith a mincing sigh'for which I really careand that I
fear I shall never be permitted to enjoy. People cannot spare one. But
seclusion and contemplation are my what-his-name - '

'If you mean ParadiseMamayou had better say soto render
yourself intelligible' said the younger lady.

'My dearest Edith' returned Mrs Skewton'you know that I am
wholly dependent upon you for those odious names. I assure youMr
DombeyNature intended me for an Arcadian. I am thrown away in
society. Cows are my passion. What I have ever sighed forhas been to
retreat to a Swiss farmand live entirely surrounded by cows - and
china.'

This curious association of objectssuggesting a remembrance of
the celebrated bull who got by mistake into a crockery shopwas
received with perfect gravity by Mr Dombeywho intimated his opinion
that Nature wasno doubta very respectable institution.

'What I want' drawled Mrs Skewtonpinching her shrivelled throat
'is heart.' It was frightfully true in one senseif not in that in
which she used the phrase. 'What I wantis franknessconfidence
less conventionalityand freer play of soul. We are so dreadfully
artificial.'

We wereindeed.

'In short' said Mrs Skewton'I want Nature everywhere. It would
be so extremely charming.'

'Nature is inviting us away nowMamaif you are ready' said the
younger ladycurling her handsome lip. At this hintthe wan page
who had been surveying the party over the top of the chairvanished
behind itas if the ground had swallowed him up.

'Stop a momentWithers!' said Mrs Skewtonas the chair began to
move; calling to the page with all the languid dignity with which she
had called in days of yore to a coachman with a wigcauliflower
nosegayand silk stockings. 'Where are you stayingabomination?' The
Major was staying at the Royal Hotelwith his friend Dombey.


'You may come and see us any evening when you are good' lisped Mrs
Skewton. 'If Mr Dombey will honour uswe shall be happy. Withersgo
on!'

The Major again pressed to his blue lips the tips of the fingers
that were disposed on the ledge of the wheeled chair with careful
carelessnessafter the Cleopatra model: and Mr Dombey bowed. The
elder lady honoured them both with a very gracious smile and a girlish
wave of her hand; the younger lady with the very slightest inclination
of her head that common courtesy allowed.

The last glimpse of the wrinkled face of the motherwith that
patched colour on it which the sun made infinitely more haggard and
dismal than any want of colour could have beenand of the proud
beauty of the daughter with her graceful figure and erect deportment
engendered such an involuntary disposition on the part of both the
Major and Mr Dombey to look after themthat they both turned at the
same moment. The Pagenearly as much aslant as his own shadowwas
toiling after the chairuphilllike a slow battering-ram; the top of
Cleopatra's bonnet was fluttering in exactly the same corner to the
inch as before; and the Beautyloitering by herself a little in
advanceexpressed in all her elegant formfrom head to footthe
same supreme disregard of everything and everybody.

'I tell you whatSir' said the Majoras they resumed their walk
again. 'If Joe Bagstock were a younger manthere's not a woman in the
world whom he'd prefer for Mrs Bagstock to that woman. By George
Sir!' said the Major'she's superb!'

'Do you mean the daughter?' inquired Mr Dombey.

'Is Joey B. a turnipDombey' said the Major'that he should mean
the mother?'

'You were complimentary to the mother' returned Mr Dombey.

'An ancient flameSir' chuckled Major Bagstock. 'Devilish
ancient. I humour her.'

'She impresses me as being perfectly genteel' said Mr Dombey.

'GenteelSir' said the Majorstopping shortand staring in his
companion's face. 'The Honourable Mrs SkewtonSiris sister to the
late Lord Feenixand aunt to the present Lord. The family are not
wealthy - they're poorindeed - and she lives upon a small jointure;
but if you come to bloodSir!' The Major gave a flourish with his
stick and walked on againin despair of being able to say what you
came toif you came to that.

'You addressed the daughterI observed' said Mr Dombeyafter a
short pause'as Mrs Granger.'

'Edith SkewtonSir' returned the Majorstopping short againand
punching a mark in the ground with his caneto represent her
'married (at eighteen) Granger of Ours;' whom the Major indicated by
another punch. 'GrangerSir' said the Majortapping the last ideal
portraitand rolling his head emphatically'was Colonel of Ours; a
de-vilish handsome fellowSirof forty-one. He diedSirin the
second year of his marriage.' The Major ran the representative of the
deceased Granger through and through the body with his walking-stick
and went on againcarrying his stick over his shoulder.

'How long is this ago?' asked Mr Dombeymaking another halt.


'Edith GrangerSir' replied the Majorshutting one eyeputting
his head on one sidepassing his cane into his left handand
smoothing his shirt-frill with his right'isat this present time
not quite thirty. And dammeSir' said the Majorshouldering his
stick once moreand walking on again'she's a peerless woman!'

'Was there any family?' asked Mr Dombey presently.

'YesSir' said the Major. 'There was a boy.'

Mr Dombey's eyes sought the groundand a shade came over his face.

'Who was drownedSir' pursued the Major. 'When a child of four or
five years old.'

'Indeed?' said Mr Dombeyraising his head.

'By the upsetting of a boat in which his nurse had no business to
have put him' said the Major. 'That's his history. Edith Granger is
Edith Granger still; but if tough old Joey B.Sirwere a little
younger and a little richerthe name of that immortal paragon should
be Bagstock.'

The Major heaved his shouldersand his cheeksand laughed more
like an over-fed Mephistopheles than everas he said the words.

'Provided the lady made no objectionI suppose?' said Mr Dombey
coldly.

'By GadSir' said the Major'the Bagstock breed are not
accustomed to that sort of obstacle. Though it's true enough that
Edith might have married twenty timesbut for being proudSir
proud.'

Mr Dombey seemedby his faceto think no worse of her for that.

'It's a great quality after all' said the Major. 'By the Lord
it's a high quality! Dombey! You are proud yourselfand your friend
Old Joerespects you for itSir.'

With this tribute to the character of his allywhich seemed to be
wrung from him by the force of circumstances and the irresistible
tendency of their conversationthe Major closed the subjectand
glided into a general exposition of the extent to which he had been
beloved and doted on by splendid women and brilliant creatures.

On the next day but oneMr Dombey and the Major encountered the
Honourable Mrs Skewton and her daughter in the Pump-room; on the day
afterthey met them again very near the place where they had met them
first. After meeting them thusthree or four times in allit became
a point of mere civility to old acquaintances that the Major should go
there one evening. Mr Dombey had not originally intended to pay
visitsbut on the Major announcing this intentionhe said he would
have the pleasure of accompanying him. So the Major told the Native to
go round before dinnerand saywith his and Mr Dombey's compliments
that they would have the honour of visiting the ladies that same
eveningif the ladies were alone. In answer to which messagethe
Native brought back a very small note with a very large quantity of
scent about itindited by the Honourable Mrs Skewton to Major
Bagstockand briefly saying'You are a shocking bear and I have a
great mind not to forgive youbut if you are very good indeed' which
was underlined'you may come. Compliments (in which Edith unites) to
Mr Dombey.'


The Honourable Mrs Skewton and her daughterMrs Grangerresided
while at Leamingtonin lodgings that were fashionable enough and dear
enoughbut rather limited in point of space and conveniences; so that
the Honourable Mrs Skewtonbeing in bedhad her feet in the window
and her head in the fireplacewhile the Honourable Mrs Skewton's maid
was quartered in a closet within the drawing-roomso extremely small
thatto avoid developing the whole of its accommodationsshe was
obliged to writhe in and out of the door like a beautiful serpent.
Withersthe wan pageslept out of the house immediately under the
tiles at a neighbouring milk-shop; and the wheeled chairwhich was
the stone of that young Sisyphuspassed the night in a shed belonging
to the same dairywhere new-laid eggs were produced by the poultry
connected with the establishmentwho roosted on a broken donkey-cart
persuadedto all appearancethat it grew thereand was a species of
tree.

Mr Dombey and the Major found Mrs Skewton arrangedas Cleopatra
among the cushions of a sofa: very airily dressed; and certainly not
resembling Shakespeare's Cleopatrawhom age could not wither. On
their way upstairs they had heard the sound of a harpbut it had
ceased on their being announcedand Edith now stood beside it
handsomer and haughtier than ever. It was a remarkable characteristic
of this lady's beauty that it appeared to vaunt and assert itself
without her aidand against her will. She knew that she was
beautiful: it was impossible that it could be otherwise: but she
seemed with her own pride to defy her very self.

Whether she held cheap attractions that could only call forth
admiration that was worthless to heror whether she designed to
render them more precious to admirers by this usage of themthose to
whom they were precious seldom paused to consider.

'I hopeMrs Granger' said Mr Dombeyadvancing a step towards
her'we are not the cause of your ceasing to play?'

'You! oh no!'

'Why do you not go on thenmy dearest Edith?' said Cleopatra.

'I left off as I began - of my own fancy.'

The exquisite indifference of her manner in saying this: an
indifference quite removed from dulness or insensibilityfor it was
pointed with proud purpose: was well set off by the carelessness with
which she drew her hand across the stringsand came from that part of
the room.

'Do you knowMr Dombey' said her languishing motherplaying with
a hand-screen'that occasionally my dearest Edith and myself actually
almost differ - '

'Not quitesometimesMama?' said Edith.

'Oh never quitemy darling! Fiefieit would break my heart'
returned her mothermaking a faint attempt to pat her with the
screenwhich Edith made no movement to meet' - about these old
conventionalities of manner that are observed in little things? Why
are we not more natural? Dear me! With all those yearningsand
gushingsand impulsive throbbings that we have implanted in our
soulsand which are so very charmingwhy are we not more natural?'

Mr Dombey said it was very truevery true.


'We could be more natural I suppose if we tried?' said Mrs Skewton.

Mr Dombey thought it possible.

'Devil a bitMa'am' said the Major. 'We couldn't afford it.
Unless the world was peopled with J.B.'s - tough and blunt old Joes
Ma'amplain red herrings with hard roesSir - we couldn't afford it.
It wouldn't do.'


'You naughty Infidel' said Mrs Skewton'be mute.'


'Cleopatra commands' returned the Majorkissing his hand'and
Antony Bagstock obeys.'


'The man has no sensitiveness' said Mrs Skewtoncruelly holding
up the hand-screen so as to shut the Major out. 'No sympathy. And what
do we live for but sympathy! What else is so extremely charming!
Without that gleam of sunshine on our cold cold earth' said Mrs
Skewtonarranging her lace tuckerand complacently observing the
effect of her bare lean armlooking upward from the wrist'how could
we possibly bear it? In shortobdurate man!' glancing at the Major
round the screen'I would have my world all heart; and Faith is so
excessively charmingthat I won't allow you to disturb itdo you
hear?'


The Major replied that it was hard in Cleopatra to require the
world to be all heartand yet to appropriate to herself the hearts of
all the world; which obliged Cleopatra to remind him that flattery was
insupportable to herand that if he had the boldness to address her
in that strain any moreshe would positively send him home.


Withers the Wanat this periodhanding round the teaMr Dombey
again addressed himself to Edith.


'There is not much company hereit would seem?' said Mr Dombeyin
his own portentous gentlemanly way.


'I believe not. We see none.'


'Why really' observed Mrs Skewton fom her couch'there are no
people here just now with whom we care to associate.'


'They have not enough heart' said Edithwith a smile. The very
twilight of a smile: so singularly were its light and darkness
blended.


'My dearest Edith rallies meyou see!' said her mothershaking
her head: which shook a little of itself sometimesas if the palsy
Bed now and then in opposition to the diamonds. 'Wicked one!'


'You have been here beforeif I am not mistaken?' said Mr Dombey.
Still to Edith.


'Ohseveral times. I think we have been everywhere.'


'A beautiful country!'


'I suppose it is. Everybody says so.'


'Your cousin Feenix raves about itEdith' interposed her mother
from her couch.


The daughter slightly turned her graceful headand raising her
eyebrows by a hair's-breadthas if her cousin Feenix were of all the



mortal world the least to be regardedturned her eyes again towards
Mr Dombey.

'I hopefor the credit of my good tastethat I am tired of the
neighbourhood' she said.

'You have almost reason to beMadam' he repliedglancing at a
variety of landscape drawingsof which he had already recognised
several as representing neighbouring points of viewand which were
strewn abundantly about the room'if these beautiful productions are
from your hand.'

She gave him no replybut sat in a disdainful beautyquite
amazing.

'Have they that interest?' said Mr Dombey. 'Are they yours?'

'Yes.'

'And you playI already know.'

'Yes.'

'And sing?'

'Yes.'

She answered all these questions with a strange reluctance; and
with that remarkable air of opposition to herselfalready noticed as
belonging to her beauty. Yet she was not embarrassedbut wholly
self-possessed. Neither did she seem to wish to avoid the
conversationfor she addressed her faceand - so far as she could her
manner alsoto him; and continued to do sowhen he was silent.

'You have many resources against weariness at least' said Mr
Dombey.

'Whatever their efficiency may be' she returned'you know them
all now. I have no more.

'May I hope to prove them all?' said Mr Dombeywith solemn
gallantrylaying down a drawing he had heldand motioning towards
the harp.

'Oh certainly] If you desire it!'

She rose as she spokeand crossing by her mother's couchand
directing a stately look towards herwhich was instantaneous in its
durationbut inclusive (if anyone had seen it) of a multitude of
expressionsamong which that of the twilight smilewithout the smile
itselfovershadowed all the restwent out of the room.

The Majorwho was quite forgiven by this timehad wheeled a
little table up to Cleopatraand was sitting down to play picquet
with her. Mr Dombeynot knowing the gamesat down to watch them for
his edification until Edith should return.

'We are going to have some musicMr DombeyI hope?' said
Cleopatra.

'Mrs Granger has been kind enough to promise so' said Mr Dombey.

'Ah! That's very nice. Do you proposeMajor?'


'NoMa'am' said the Major. 'Couldn't do it.'

'You're a barbarous being' replied the lady'and my hand's
destroyed. You are fond of musicMr Dombey?'

'Eminently so' was Mr Dombey's answer.

'Yes. It's very nice' said Cleopatralooking at her cards. 'So
much heart in it - undeveloped recollections of a previous state of
existence' - and all that - which is so truly charming. Do you know'
simpered Cleopatrareversing the knave of clubswho had come into
her game with his heels uppermost'that if anything could tempt me to
put a period to my lifeit would be curiosity to find out what it's
all aboutand what it means; there are so many provoking mysteries
reallythat are hidden from us. Majoryou to play.'

The Major played; and Mr Dombeylooking on for his instruction
would soon have been in a state of dire confusionbut that he gave no
attention to the game whateverand sat wondering instead when Edith
would come back.

She came at lastand sat down to her harpand Mr Dombey rose and
stood beside herlistening. He had little taste for musicand no
knowledge of the strain she playedbut he saw her bending over it
and perhaps he heard among the sounding strings some distant music of
his ownthat tamed the monster of the iron roadand made it less
inexorable.

Cleopatra had a sharp eyeverilyat picquet. It glistened like a
bird'sand did not fix itself upon the gamebut pierced the room
from end to endand gleamed on harpperformerlistenereverything.

When the haughty beauty had concludedshe aroseand receiving Mr
Dombey's thanks and compliments in exactly the same manner as before
went with scarcely any pause to the pianoand began there.

Edith Grangerany song but that! Edith Grangeryou are very
handsomeand your touch upon the keys is brilliantand your voice is
deep and rich; but not the air that his neglected daughter sang to his
dead son]

Alashe knows it not; and if he didwhat air of hers would stir
himrigid man! Sleeplonely Florencesleep! Peace in thy dreams
although the night has turned darkand the clouds are gatheringand
threaten to discharge themselves in hail!

CHAPTER 22.

A Trifle of Management by Mr Carker the Manager

Mr Carker the Manager sat at his desksmooth and soft as usual
reading those letters which were reserved for him to openbacking
them occasionally with such memoranda and references as their business
purport requiredand parcelling them out into little heaps for
distribution through the several departments of the House. The post
had come in heavy that morningand Mr Carker the Manager had a good
deal to do.

The general action of a man so engaged - pausing to look over a
bundle of papers in his handdealing them round in various portions


taking up another bundle and examining its contents with knitted brows
and pursed-out lips - dealingand sortingand pondering by turns would
easily suggest some whimsical resemblance to a player at cards.
The face of Mr Carker the Manager was in good keeping with such a
fancy. It was the face of a man who studied his playwarily: who made
himself master of all the strong and weak points of the game: who
registered the cards in his mind as they fell about himknew exactly
what was on themwhat they missedand what they made: who was crafty
to find out what the other players heldand who never betrayed his
own hand.

The letters were in various languagesbut Mr Carker the Manager
read them all. If there had been anything in the offices of Dombey and
Son that he could readthere would have been a card wanting in the
pack. He read almost at a glanceand made combinations of one letter
with another and one business with another as he went onadding new
matter to the heaps - much as a man would know the cards at sightand
work out their combinations in his mind after they were turned.
Something too deep for a partnerand much too deep for an adversary
Mr Carker the Manager sat in the rays of the sun that came down
slanting on him through the skylightplaying his game alone.

And although it is not among the instincts wild or domestic of the
cat tribe to play at cardsfeline from sole to crown was Mr Carker
the Manageras he basked in the strip of summer-light and warmth that
shone upon his table and the ground as if they were a crooked
dial-plateand himself the only figure on it. With hair and whiskers
deficient in colour at all timesbut feebler than common in the rich
sunshineand more like the coat of a sandy tortoise-shell cat; with
long nailsnicely pared and sharpened; with a natural antipathy to
any speck of dirtwhich made him pause sometimes and watch the
falling motes of dustand rub them off his smooth white hand or
glossy linen: Mr Carker the Managersly of mannersharp of tooth
soft of footwatchful of eyeoily of tonguecruel of heartnice of
habitsat with a dainty steadfastness and patience at his workas if
he were waiting at a mouse's hole.

At length the letters were disposed ofexcepting one which he
reserved for a particular audience. Having locked the more
confidential correspondence in a drawerMr Carker the Manager rang
his bell.

'Why do you answer it?' was his reception of his brother.

'The messenger is outand I am the next' was the submissive
reply.

'You are the next?' muttered the Manager. 'Yes! Creditable to me!
There!'

Pointing to the heaps of opened lettershe turned disdainfully
awayin his elbow-chairand broke the seal of that one which he held
in his hand.

'I am sorry to trouble youJames' said the brothergathering
them up'but - '

'Oh! you have something to say. I knew that. Well?'

Mr Carker the Manager did not raise his eyes or turn them on his
brotherbut kept them on his letterthough without opening it.

'Well?' he repeated sharply.


'I am uneasy about Harriet.'

'Harriet who? what Harriet? I know nobody of that name.'

'She is not welland has changed very much of late.'

'She changed very mucha great many years ago' replied the
Manager; 'and that is all I have to say.

'I think if you would hear me


'Why should I hear youBrother John?' returned the Managerlaying
a sarcastic emphasis on those two wordsand throwing up his headbut
not lifting his eyes. 'I tell youHarriet Carker made her choice many
years ago between her two brothers. She may repent itbut she must
abide by it.'

'Don't mistake me. I do not say she does repent it. It would be
black ingratitude in me to hint at such a thing' returned the other.
'Though believe meJamesI am as sorry for her sacrifice as you.'

'As I?' exclaimed the Manager. 'As I?'

'As sorry for her choice - for what you call her choice - as you
are angry at it' said the Junior.

'Angry?' repeated the otherwith a wide show of his teeth.

'Displeased. Whatever word you like best. You know my meaning.
There is no offence in my intention.'

'There is offence in everything you do' replied his brother
glancing at him with a sudden scowlwhich in a moment gave place to a
wider smile than the last. 'Carry those papers awayif you please. I
am busy.

His politeness was so much more cutting than his wraththat the
Junior went to the door. But stopping at itand looking roundhe
said:

'When Harriet tried in vain to plead for me with youon your first
just indignationand my first disgrace; and when she left youJames
to follow my broken fortunesand devote herselfin her mistaken
affectionto a ruined brotherbecause without her he had no oneand
was lost; she was young and pretty. I think if you could see her now if
you would go and see her - she would move your admiration and
compassion.'

The Manager inclined his headand showed his teethas who should
sayin answer to some careless small-talk'Dear me! Is that the
case?' but said never a word.

'We thought in those days: you and I both: that she would marry
youngand lead a happy and light-hearted life' pursued the other.
'Oh if you knew how cheerfully she cast those hopes away; how
cheerfully she has gone forward on the path she tookand never once
looked back; you never could say again that her name was strange in
your ears. Never!'

Again the Manager inclined his head and showed his teethand
seemed to say'Remarkable indeed! You quite surprise me!' And again
he uttered never a word.

'May I go on?' said John Carkermildly.


'On your way?' replied his smiling brother. 'If you will have the
goodness.


John Carkerwith a sighwas passing slowly out at the doorwhen
his brother's voice detained him for a moment on the threshold.


'If she has goneand goesher own way cheerfully' he said
throwing the still unfolded letter on his deskand putting his hands
firmly in his pockets'you may tell her that I go as cheerfully on
mine. If she has never once looked backyou may tell her that I have
sometimesto recall her taking part with youand that my resolution
is no easier to wear away;' he smiled very sweetly here; 'than
marble.'


'I tell her nothing of you. We never speak about you. Once a year
on your birthdayHarriet says alwaysLet us remember James by name,
and wish him happy,but we say no more'


'Tell it thenif you please' returned the other'to yourself.
You can't repeat it too oftenas a lesson to you to avoid the subject
in speaking to me. I know no Harriet Carker. There is no such person.
You may have a sister; make much of her. I have none.'


Mr Carker the Manager took up the letter againand waved it with a
smile of mock courtesy towards the door. Unfolding it as his brother
withdrewand looking darkly aiter him as he left the roomhe once
more turned round in his elbow-chairand applied himself to a
diligent perusal of its contents.


It was in the writing of his great chiefMr Dombeyand dated from
Leamington. Though he was a quick reader of all other lettersMr
Carker read this slowly; weighing the words as he wentand bringing
every tooth in his head to bear upon them. When he had read it through
oncehe turned it over againand picked out these passages. 'I find
myself benefited by the changeand am not yet inclined to name any
time for my return.' 'I wishCarkeryou would arrange to come down
once and see me hereand let me know how things are going onin
person.' 'I omitted to speak to you about young Gay. If not gone per
Son and Heiror if Son and Heir still lying in the Docksappoint
some other young man and keep him in the City for the present. I am
not decided.' 'Now that's unfortunate!' said Mr Carker the Manager
expanding his mouthas if it were made of India-rubber: 'for he's far
away.'


Still that passagewhich was in a postscriptattracted his
attention and his teethonce more.


'I think' he said'my good friend Captain Cuttle mentioned
something about being towed along in the wake of that day. What a pity
he's so far away!'


He refolded the letterand was sitting trifling with itstanding
it long-wise and broad-wise on his tableand turning it over and over
on all sides - doing pretty much the same thingperhapsby its
contents - when Mr Perch the messenger knocked softly at the doorand
coming in on tiptoebending his body at every step as if it were the
delight of his life to bowlaid some papers on the table.


'Would you please to be engagedSir?' asked Mr Perchrubbing his
handsand deferentially putting his head on one sidelike a man who
felt he had no business to hold it up in such a presenceand would
keep it as much out of the way as possible.



'Who wants me?'

'WhySir' said Mr Perchin a soft voice'really nobodySirto
speak of at present. Mr Gills the Ship's Instrument-makerSirhas
looked inabout a little matter of paymenthe says: but I mentioned
to himSirthat you was engaged several deep; several deep.'

Mr Perch coughed once behind his handand waited for further
orders.

'Anybody else?'

'WellSir' said Mr Perch'I wouldn't of my own self take the
liberty of mentioningSirthat there was anybody else; but that same
young lad that was here yesterdaySirand last weekhas been
hanging about the place; and it looksSir' added Mr Perchstopping
to shut the door'dreadful unbusiness-like to see him whistling to
the sparrows down the courtand making of 'em answer him.'

'You said he wanted something to dodidn't youPerch?' asked Mr
Carkerleaning back in his chair and looking at that officer.

'WhySir' said Mr Perchcoughing behind his hand again'his
expression certainly were that he was in wants of a sitiwationand
that he considered something might be done for him about the Docks
being used to fishing with a rod and line: but - ' Mr Perch shook his
head very dubiously indeed.

'What does he say when he comes?' asked Mr Carker.

'IndeedSir' said Mr Perchcoughing another cough behind his
handwhich was always his resource as an expression of humility when
nothing else occurred to him'his observation generally air that he
would humbly wish to see one of the gentlemenand that he wants to
earn a living. But you seeSir' added Perchdropping his voice to a
whisperand turningin the inviolable nature of his confidenceto
give the door a thrust with his hand and kneeas if that would shut
it any more when it was shut already'it's hardly to be boreSir
that a common lad like that should come a prowling hereand saying
that his mother nursed our House's young gentlemanand that he hopes
our House will give him a chance on that account. I am sureSir'
observed Mr Perch'that although Mrs Perch was at that time nursing
as thriving a little girlSiras we've ever took the liberty of
adding to our familyI wouldn't have made so free as drop a hint of
her being capable of imparting nourishmentnot if it was never so!'

Mr Carker grinned at him like a sharkbut in an absentthoughtful
manner.

'Whether' submitted Mr Perchafter a short silenceand another
cough'it mightn't be best for me to tell himthat if he was seen
here any more he would be given into custody; and to keep to it! With
respect to bodily fear' said Mr Perch'I'm so timidmyselfby
natureSirand my nerves is so unstrung by Mrs Perch's statethat I
could take my affidavit easy.'

'Let me see this fellowPerch' said Mr Carker. 'Bring him in!'

'YesSir. Begging your pardonSir' said Mr Perchhesitating at
the door'he's roughSirin appearance.'

'Never mind. If he's therebring him in. I'll see Mr Gills
directly. Ask him to wait.'


Mr Perch bowed; and shutting the dooras precisely and carefully
as if he were not coming back for a weekwent on his quest among the
sparrows in the court. While he was goneMr Carker assumed his
favourite attitude before the fire-placeand stood looking at the
door; presentingwith his under lip tucked into the smile that showed
his whole row of upper teetha singularly crouching apace.

The messenger was not long in returningfollowed by a pair of
heavy boots that came bumping along the passage like boxes. With the
unceremonious words 'Come along with you!' - a very unusual form of
introduction from his lips - Mr Perch then ushered into the presence a
strong-built lad of fifteenwith a round red facea round sleek
headround black eyesround limbsand round bodywhoto carry out
the general rotundity of his appearancehad a round hat in his hand
without a particle of brim to it.

Obedient to a nod from Mr CarkerPerch had no sooner confronted
the visitor with that gentleman than he withdrew. The moment they were
face to face aloneMr Carkerwithout a word of preparationtook him
by the throatand shook him until his head seemed loose upon his
shoulders.

The boywho in the midst of his astonishment could not help
staring wildly at the gentleman with so many white teeth who was
choking himand at the office wallsas though determinedif he were
chokedthat his last look should be at the mysteries for his
intrusion into which he was paying such a severe penaltyat last
contrived to utter


'ComeSir! You let me alonewill you!'

'Let you alone!' said Mr Carker. 'What! I have got youhave I?'
There was no doubt of thatand tightly too. 'You dog' said Mr
Carkerthrough his set jaws'I'll strangle you!'

Biler whimperedwould he though? oh no he wouldn't - and what was
he doing of - and why didn't he strangle some- body of his own size
and not him: but Biler was quelled by the extraordinary nature of his
receptionandas his head became stationaryand he looked the
gentleman in the faceor rather in the teethand saw him snarling at
himhe so far forgot his manhood as to cry.

'I haven't done nothing to youSir' said Bilerotherwise Rob
otherwise Grinderand always Toodle.

'You young scoundrel!' replied Mr Carkerslowly releasing himand
moving back a step into his favourite position. 'What do you mean by
daring to come here?'

'I didn't mean no harmSir' whimpered Robputting one hand to
his throatand the knuckles of the other to his eyes. 'I'll never
come againSir. I only wanted work.'

'Workyoung Cain that you are!' repeated Mr Carkereyeing him
narrowly. 'Ain't you the idlest vagabond in London?'

The impeachmentwhile it much affected Mr Toodle Juniorattached
to his character so justlythat he could not say a word in denial. He
stood looking at the gentlemanthereforewith a frightened
self-convictedand remorseful air. As to his looking at himit may
be observed that he was fascinated by Mr Carkerand never took his
round eyes off him for an instant.

'Ain't you a thief?' said Mr Carkerwith his hands behind him in


his pockets.

'Nosir' pleaded Rob.

'You are!' said Mr Carker.

'I ain't indeedSir' whimpered Rob. 'I never did such a thing as
thieveSirif you'll believe me. I know I've been a going wrong
Sirever since I took to bird-catching' and walking-matching. I'm
sure a cove might think' said Mr Toodle Juniorwith a burst of
penitence'that singing birds was innocent companybut nobody knows
what harm is in them little creeturs and what they brings you down
to.'

They seemed to have brought him down to a velveteen jacket and
trousers very much the worse for weara particularly small red
waistcoat like a gorgetan interval of blue checkand the hat before
mentioned.

'I ain't been home twenty times since them birds got their will of
me' said Rob'and that's ten months. How can I go home when
everybody's miserable to see me! I wonder' said Bilerblubbering
outrightand smearing his eyes with his coat-cuff'that I haven't
been and drownded myself over and over again.'

All of whichincluding his expression of surprise at not having
achieved this last scarce performancethe boy saidjust as if the
teeth of Mr Carker drew it out ofhimand he had no power of
concealing anything with that battery of attraction in full play.

'You're a nice young gentleman!' said Mr Carkershaking his head
at him. 'There's hemp-seed sown for youmy fine fellow!'

'I'm sureSir' returned the wretched Bilerblubbering againand
again having recourse to his coat-cuff: 'I shouldn't caresometimes
if it was growed too. My misfortunes all began in waggingSir; but
what could I doexceptin' wag?'

'Excepting what?' said Mr Carker.

'WagSir. Wagging from school.'

'Do you mean pretending to go thereand not going?' said Mr
Carker.

'YesSirthat's waggingSir' returned the quondam Grindermuch
affected. 'I was chivied through the streetsSirwhen I went there
and pounded when I got there. So I waggedand hid myselfand that
began it.'

'And you mean to tell me' said Mr Carkertaking him by the throat
againholding him out at arm's-lengthand surveying him in silence
for some moments'that you want a placedo you?'

'I should be thankful to be triedSir' returned Toodle Junior
faintly.

Mr Carker the Manager pushed him backward into a corner - the boy
submitting quietlyhardly venturing to breatheand never once
removing his eyes from his face - and rang the bell.

'Tell Mr Gills to come here.'

Mr Perch was too deferential to express surprise or recognition of


the figure in the corner: and Uncle Sol appeared immediately.

'Mr Gills!' said Carkerwith a smile'sit down. How do you do?
You continue to enjoy your healthI hope?'

'Thank youSir' returned Uncle Soltaking out his pocket-book
and handing over some notes as he spoke. 'Nothing ails me in body but
old age. Twenty-fiveSir.'

'You are as punctual and exactMr Gills' replied the smiling
Managertaking a paper from one of his many drawersand making an
endorsement on itwhile Uncle Sol looked over him'as one of your
own chronometers. Quite right.'

'The Son and Heir has not been spokenI find by the listSir'
said Uncle Solwith a slight addition to the usual tremor in his
voice.

'The Son and Heir has not been spoken' returned Carker. 'There
seems to have been tempestuous weatherMr Gillsand she has probably
been driven out of her course.'

'She is safeI trust in Heaven!' said old Sol.

'She is safeI trust in Heaven!' assented Mr Carker in that
voiceless manner of his: which made the observant young Toodle
trernble again. 'Mr Gills' he added aloudthrowing himself back in
his chair'you must miss your nephew very much?'

Uncle Solstanding by himshook his head and heaved a deep sigh.

'Mr Gills' said Carkerwith his soft hand playing round his
mouthand looking up into the Instrument-maker's face'it would be
company to you to have a young fellow in your shop just nowand it
would be obliging me if you would give one house-room for the present.
Noto be sure' he added quicklyin anticipation of what the old man
was going to say'there's not much business doing thereI know; but
you can make him clean the place outpolish up the instruments;
drudgeMr Gills. That's the lad!'

Sol Gills pulled down his spectacles from his forehead to his eyes
and looked at Toodle Junior standing upright in the corner: his head
presenting the appearance (which it always did) of having been newly
drawn out of a bucket of cold water; his small waistcoat rising and
falling quickly in the play of his emotions; and his eyes intently
fixed on Mr Carkerwithout the least reference to his proposed
master.

'Will you give him house-roomMr Gills?' said the Manager.

Old Solwithout being quite enthusiastic on the subjectreplied
that he was glad of any opportunityhowever slightto oblige Mr
Carkerwhose wish on such a point was a command: and that the wooden
Midshipman would consider himself happy to receive in his berth any
visitor of Mr Carker's selecting.

Mr Carker bared himself to the tops and bottoms of his gums: making
the watchful Toodle Junior tremble more and more: and acknowledged the
Instrument-maker's politeness in his most affable manner.

'I'll dispose of him sothenMr Gills' he answeredrisingand
shaking the old man by the hand'until I make up my mind what to do
with himand what he deserves. As I consider myself responsible for
himMr Gills' here he smiled a wide smile at Robwho shook before


it: 'I shall be glad if you'll look sharply after himand report his
behaviour to me. I'll ask a question or two of his parents as I ride
home this afternoon - respectable people - to confirm some particulars
in his own account of himself; and that doneMr GillsI'll send him
round to you to-morrow morning. Goodbye!'

His smile at parting was so full of teeththat it confused old
Soland made him vaguely uncomfortable. He went homethinking of
raging seasfoundering shipsdrowning menan ancient bottle of
Madeira never brought to lightand other dismal matters.

'Nowboy!' said Mr Carkerputting his hand on young Toodle's
shoulderand bringing him out into the middle of the room. 'You have
heard me?'

Rob said'YesSir.'

'Perhaps you understand' pursued his patron'that if you ever
deceive or play tricks with meyou had better have drowned yourself
indeedonce for allbefore you came here?'

There was nothing in any branch of mental acquisition that Rob
seemed to understand better than that.

'If you have lied to me' said Mr Carker'in anythingnever come
in my way again. If notyou may let me find you waiting for me
somewhere near your mother's house this afternoon. I shall leave this
at five o'clockand ride there on horseback. Nowgive me the
address.'

Rob repeated it slowlyas Mr Carker wrote it down. Rob even spelt
it over a second timeletter by letteras if he thought that the
omission of a dot or scratch would lead to his destruction. Mr Carker
then handed him out of the room; and Robkeeping his round eyes fixed
upon his patron to the lastvanished for the time being.

Mr Carker the Manager did a great deal of business in the course of
the dayand stowed his teeth upon a great many people. In the office
in the courtin the streetand on 'Changethey glistened and
bristled to a terrible extent. Five o'clock arrivingand with it Mr
Carker's bay horsethey got on horsebackand went gleaming up
Cheapside.

As no one can easily ride fasteven if inclined to do sothrough
the press and throng of the City at that hourand as Mr Carker was
not inclinedhe went leisurely alongpicking his way among the carts
and carriagesavoiding whenever he could the wetter and more dirty
places in the over-watered roadand taking infinite pains to keep
himself and his steed clean. Glancing at the passersby while he was
thus ambling on his wayhe suddenly encountered the round eyes of the
sleek-headed Rob intently fixed upon his face as if they had never
been taken offwhile the boy himselfwith a pocket-handkerchief
twisted up like a speckled eel and girded round his waistmade a very
conspicuous demonstration of being prepared to attend upon himat
whatever pace he might think proper to go.

This attentionhowever flatteringbeing one of an unusual kind
and attracting some notice from the other passengersMr Carker took
advantage of a clearer thoroughfare and a cleaner roadand broke into
a trot. Rob immediately did the same. Mr Carker presently tried a
canter; Rob Was still in attendance. Then a short gallop; it Was all
one to the boy. Whenever Mr Carker turned his eyes to that side of the
roadhe still saw Toodle Junior holding his courseapparently
without distressand working himself along by the elbows after the


most approved manner of professional gentlemen who get over the ground
for wagers.

Ridiculous as this attendance wasit was a sign of an influence
established over the boyand therefore Mr Carkeraffecting not to
notice itrode away into the neighbourhood of Mr Toodle's house. On
his slackening his pace hereRob appeared before him to point out the
turnings; and when he called to a man at a neighbouring gateway to
hold his horsepending his visit to the buildings that had succeeded
Staggs's GardensRob dutifully held the stirrupwhile the Manager
dismounted.

'NowSir' said Mr Carkertaking him by the shoulder'come
along!'

The prodigal son was evidently nervous of visiting the parental
abode; but Mr Carker pushing him on beforehe had nothing for it but
to open the right doorand suffer himself to be walked into the midst
of his brothers and sistersmustered in overwhelming force round the
family tea-table. At sight of the prodigal in the grasp of a stranger
these tender relations united in a general howlwhich smote upon the
prodigal's breast so sharply when he saw his mother stand up among
thempale and tremblingwith the baby in her armsthat he lent his
own voice to the chorus.

Nothing doubting now that the strangerif not Mr Ketch' in person
was one of that companythe whole of the young family wailed the
louderwhile its more infantine membersunable to control the
transports of emotion appertaining to their time of lifethrew
themselves on their backs like young birds when terrified by a hawk
and kicked violently. At lengthpoor Polly making herself audible
saidwith quivering lips'Oh Robmy poor boywhat have you done at
last!'

'Nothingmother' cried Robin a piteous voice'ask the
gentleman!'

'Don't be alarmed' said Mr Carker'I want to do him good.'

At this announcementPollywho had not cried yetbegan to do so.
The elder Toodleswho appeared to have been meditating a rescue
unclenched their fists. The younger Toodles clustered round their
mother's gownand peeped from under their own chubby arms at their
desperado brother and his unknown friend. Everybody blessed the
gentleman with the beautiful teethwho wanted to do good.

'This fellow' said Mr Carker to Pollygiving him a gentle shake
'is your sonehMa'am?'

'YesSir' sobbed Pollywith a curtsey; 'yesSir.'

'A bad sonI am afraid?' said Mr Carker.

'Never a bad son to meSir' returned Polly.

'To whom then?' demanded Mr Carker.

'He has been a little wildSir' returned Pollychecking the
babywho was making convulsive efforts with his arms and legs to
launch himself on Bilerthrough the ambient air'and has gone with
wrong companions: but I hope he has seen the misery of thatSirand
will do well again.'

Mr Carker looked at Pollyand the clean roomand the clean


childrenand the simple Toodle facecombined of father and mother
that was reflected and repeated everywhere about him - and seemed to
have achieved the real purpose of his visit.

'Your husbandI take itis not at home?' he said.

'NoSir' replied Polly. 'He's down the line at present.'

The prodigal Rob seemed very much relieved to hear it: though still
in the absorption of all his faculties in his patronhe hardly took
his eyes from Mr Carker's faceunless for a moment at a time to steal
a sorrowful glance at his mother.

'Then' said Mr Carker'I'll tell you how I have stumbled on this
boy of yoursand who I amand what I am going to do for him.'

This Mr Carker didin his own way; saying that he at first
intended to have accumulated nameless terrors on his presumptuous
headfor coming to the whereabout of Dombey and Son. That he had
relentedin consideration of his youthhis professed contritionand
his friends. That he was afraid he took a rash step in doing anything
for the boyand one that might expose him to the censure of the
prudent; but that he did it of himself and for himselfand risked the
consequences single-handed; and that his mother's past connexion with
Mr Dombey's family had nothing to do with itand that Mr Dombey had
nothing to do with itbut that heMr Carkerwas the be-all and the
end-all of this business. Taking great credit to himself for his
goodnessand receiving no less from all the family then presentMr
Carker signifiedindirectly but still pretty plainlythat Rob's
implicit fidelityattachmentand devotionwere for evermore his
dueand the least homage he could receive. And with this great truth
Rob himself was so impressedthatstanding gazing on his patron with
tears rolling down his cheekshe nodded his shiny head until it
seemed almost as loose as it had done under the same patron's hands
that morning.

Pollywho had passed Heaven knows how many sleepless nights on
account of this her dissipated firstbornand had not seen him for
weeks and weekscould have almost kneeled to Mr Carker the Manager
as to a Good Spirit - in spite of his teeth. But Mr Carker rising to
departshe only thanked him with her mother's prayers and blessings;
thanks so rich when paid out of the Heart's mintespecially for any
service Mr Carker had renderedthat he might have given back a large
amount of changeand yet been overpaid.

As that gentleman made his way among the crowding children to the
doorRob retreated on his motherand took her and the baby in the
same repentant hug.

'I'll try harddear mothernow. Upon my soul I will!' said Rob.

'Oh domy dear boy! I am sure you willfor our sakes and your
own!' cried Pollykissing him. 'But you're coming back to speak to
mewhen you have seen the gentleman away?'

'I don't knowmother.' Rob hesitatedand looked down. 'Father when's
he coming home?'

'Not till two o'clock to-morrow morning.'

'I'll come backmother dear!' cried Rob. And passing through the
shrill cry of his brothers and sisters in reception of this promise
he followed Mr Carker out.


'What!' said Mr Carkerwho had heard this. 'You have a bad father
have you?'

'NoSir!' returned Robamazed. 'There ain't a better nor a kinder
father goingthan mine is.'

'Why don't you want to see him then?' inquired his patron.

'There's such a difference between a father and a motherSir'
said Robafter faltering for a moment. 'He couldn't hardly believe
yet that I was doing to do better - though I know he'd try to but a
mother - she always believes what's' goodSir; at least I know my
mother doesGod bless her!'

Mr Carker's mouth expandedbut he said no more until he was
mounted on his horseand had dismissed the man who held itwhen
looking down from the saddle steadily into the attentive and watchful
face of the boyhe said:

'You'll come to me tomorrow morningand you shall be shown where
that old gentleman lives; that old gentleman who was with me this
morning; where you are goingas you heard me say.'

'YesSir' returned Rob.

'I have a great interest in that old gentlemanand in serving him
you serve meboydo you understand? Well' he addedinterrupting
himfor he saw his round face brighten when he was told that: 'I see
you do. I want to know all about that old gentlemanand how he goes
on from day to day - for I am anxious to be of service to him - and
especially who comes there to see him. Do you understand?'

Rob nodded his steadfast faceand said 'YesSir' again.

'I should like to know that he has friends who are attentive to
himand that they don't desert him - for he lives very much alone
nowpoor fellow; but that they are fond of himand of his nephew who
has gone abroad. There is a very young lady who may perhaps come to
see him. I want particularly to know all about her.'

'I'll take careSir' said the boy.

'And take care' returned his patronbending forward to advance
his grinning face closer to the boy'sand pat him on the shoulder
with the handle of his whip: 'take care you talk about affairs of mine
to nobody but me.'

'To nobody in the worldSir' replied Robshaking his head.

'Neither there' said Mr CarHerpointing to the place they had
just left'nor anywhere else. I'll try how true and grateful you can
be. I'll prove you!' Making thisby his display of teeth and by the
action of his headas much a threat as a promisehe turned from
Rob's eyeswhich were nailed upon him as if he had won the boy by a
charmbody and souland rode away. But again becoming conscious
after trotting a short distancethat his devoted henchmangirt as
beforewas yielding him the same attendanceto the great amusement
of sundry spectatorshe reined upand ordered him off. To ensure his
obediencehe turned in the saddle and watched him as he retired. It
was curious to see that even then Rob could not keep his eyes wholly
averted from his patron's facebutconstantly turning and turning
again to look after him' involved himself in a tempest of buffetings
and jostlings from the other passengers in the street: of whichin
the pursuit of the one paramount ideahe was perfectly heedless.


Mr Carker the Manager rode on at a foot-pacewith the easy air of
one who had performed all the business of the day in a satisfactory
mannerand got it comfortably off his mind. Complacent and affable as
man could beMr Carker picked his way along the streets and hummed a
soft tune as he went He seemed to purrhe was so glad.

And in some sortMr Carkerin his fancybasked upon a hearth
too. Coiled up snugly at certain feethe was ready for a springOr
for a tearor for a scratchor for a velvet touchas the humour
took him and occasion served. Was there any bird in a cagethat came
in for a share ofhis regards?

'A very young lady!' thought Mr Carker the Managerthrough his
song. 'Ay! when I saw her lastshe was a little child. With dark eyes
and hairI recollectand a good face; a very good face! I daresay
she's pretty.'

More affable and pleasant yetand humming his song until his many
teeth vibrated to itMr Carker picked his way alongand turned at
last into the shady street where Mr Dombey's house stood. He had been
so busywinding webs round good facesand obscuring them with
meshesthat he hardly thought of being at this point of his ride
untilglancing down the cold perspective of tall houseshe reined in
his horse quickly within a few yards of the door. But to explain why
Mr Carker reined in his horse quicklyand what he looked at in no
small surprisea few digressive words are necessary.

Mr Tootsemancipated from the Blimber thraldom and coming into the
possession of a certain portion of his wordly wealth'which' as he
had been wontduring his last half-year's probationto communicate
to Mr Feeder every evening as a new discovery'the executors couldn't
keep him out of' had applied himself with great diligenceto the
science of Life. Fired with a noble emulation to pursue a brilliant
and distinguished careerMr Toots had furnished a choice set of
apartments; had established among them a sporting bowerembellished
with the portraits of winning horsesin which he took no particle of
interest; and a divanwhich made him poorly. In this delicious abode
Mr Toots devoted himself to the cultivation of those gentle arts which
refine and humanise existencehis chief instructor in which was an
interesting character called the Game Chickenwho was always to be
heard of at the bar of the Black Badgerwore a shaggy white
great-coat in the warmest weatherand knocked Mr Toots about the head
three times a weekfor the small consideration of ten and six per
visit.

The Game Chickenwho was quite the Apollo of Mr Toots's Pantheon
had introduced to him a marker who taught billiardsa Life Guard who
taught fencinga jobmaster who taught ridinga Cornish gentleman who
was up to anything in the athletic lineand two or three other
friends connected no less intimately with the fine arts. Under whose
auspices Mr Toots could hardly fail to improve apaceand under whose
tuition he went to work.

But however it came aboutit came to passeven while these
gentlemen had the gloss of novelty upon themthat Mr Toots felthe
didn't know howunsettled and uneasy. There were husks in his corn
that even Game Chickens couldn't peck up; gloomy giants in his
leisurethat even Game Chickens couldn't knock down. Nothing seemed
to do Mr Toots so much good as incessantly leaving cards at Mr
Dombey's door. No taxgatherer in the British Dominions - that
wide-spread territory on which the sun never setsand where the
tax-gatherer never goes to bed - was more regular and persevering in
his calls than Mr Toots.


Mr Toots never went upstairs; and always performed the same
ceremoniesrichly dressed for the purposeat the hall door.

'Oh! Good morning!' would be Mr Toots's first remark to the
servant. 'For Mr Dombey' would be Mr Toots's next remarkas he
handed in a card. 'For Miss Dombey' would be his nextas he handed
in another.

Mr Toots would then turn round as if to go away; but the man knew
him by this timeand knew he wouldn't.

'OhI beg your pardon' Mr Toots would sayas if a thought had
suddenly descended on him. 'Is the young woman at home?'

The man would rather think she was;but wouldn't quite know. Then
he would ring a bell that rang upstairsand would look up the
staircaseand would sayyesshe was at homeand was coming down.
Then Miss Nipper would appearand the man would retire.

'Oh! How de do?' Mr Toots would saywith a chuckle and a blush.

Susan would thank himand say she was very well.

'How's Diogenes going on?' would be Mr Toots's second
interrogation.

Very well indeed. Miss Florence was fonder and fonder of him every
day. Mr Toots was sure to hail this with a burst of chuckleslike the
opening of a bottle of some effervescent beverage.

'Miss Florence is quite wellSir' Susan would add.

Ohit's of no consequencethank'ee' was the invariable reply of
Mr Toots; and when he had said sohe always went away very fast.

Now it is certain that Mr Toots had a filmy something in his mind
which led him to conclude that if he could aspire successfully in the
fulness of timeto the hand of Florencehe would be fortunate and
blest. It is certain that Mr Tootsby some remote and roundabout
roadhad got to that pointand that there he made a stand. His heart
was wounded; he was touched; he was in love. He had made a desperate
attemptone nightand had sat up all night for the purposeto write
an acrostic on Florencewhich affected him to tears in the
conception. But he never proceeded in the execution further than the
words 'For when I gaze' - the flow of imagination in which he had
previously written down the initial letters of the other seven lines
deserting him at that point.

Beyond devising that very artful and politic measure of leaving a
card for Mr Dombey dailythe brain of Mr Toots had not worked much in
reference to the subject that held his feelings prisoner. But deep
consideration at length assured Mr Toots that an important step to
gainwasthe conciliation of Miss Susan Nipperpreparatory to
giving her some inkling of his state of mind.

A little light and playful gallantry towards this lady seemed the
means to employ in that early chapter of the historyfor winning her
to his interests. Not being able quite to make up his mind about it
he consulted the Chicken - without taking that gentleman into his
confidence; merely informing him that a friend in Yorkshire had
written to him (Mr Toots) for his opinion on such a question. The
Chicken replying that his opinion always was'Go in and win' and
further'When your man's before you and your work cut outgo in and


do it' Mr Toots considered this a figurative way of supporting his
own view of the caseand heroically resolved to kiss Miss Nipper next
day.

Upon the next daythereforeMr Tootsputting into requisition
some of the greatest marvels that Burgess and Co. had ever turned out
went off to Mr Dotnbey's upon this design. But his heart failed him so
much as he approached the scene of actionthatalthough he arrived
on the ground at three o'clock in the afternoonit was six before he
knocked at the door.

Everything happened as usualdown to the point where Susan said
her young mistress was welland Mr Toots said it was ofno
consequence. To her amazementMr Tootsinstead of going offlike a
rocketafter that observationlingered and chuckled.

'Perhaps you'd like to walk upstairsSir!' said Susan.

'WellI think I will come in!' said Mr Toots.

But instead of walking upstairsthe bold Toots made an awkward
plunge at Susan when the door was shutand embracing that fair
creaturekissed her on the cheek

'Go along with you!~ cried Susan'or Ill tear your eyes out.'

'Just another!' said Mr Toots.

'Go along with you!' exclaimed Susangiving him a push 'Innocents
like youtoo! Who'll begin next? Go alongSir!'

Susan was not in any serious straitfor she could hardly speak for
laughing; but Diogeneson the staircasehearing a rustling against
the walland a shuffling of feetand seeing through the banisters
that there was some contention going onand foreign invasion in the
houseformed a different opiniondashed down to the rescueand in
the twinkling of an eye had Mr Toots by the leg.

Susan screamedlaughedopened the street-doorand ran
downstairs; the bold Toots tumbled staggering out into the street
with Diogenes holding on to one leg of his pantaioonsas if Burgess
and Co. were his cooksand had provided that dainty morsel for his
holiday entertainment; Diogenes shaken offrolled over and over in
the dustgot up' againwhirled round the giddy Toots and snapped at
him: and all this turmoil Mr Carkerreigning up his horse and sitting
a little at a distancesaw to his amazementissue from the stately
house of Mr Dombey.

Mr Carker remained watching the discomfited Tootswhen Diogenes
was called inand the door shut: and while that gentlemantaking
refuge in a doorway near at handbound up the torn leg of his
pantaloons with a costly silk handkerchief that had formed part of his
expensive outfit for the advent

'I beg your pardonSir' said Mr Carkerriding upwith his most
propitiatory smile. 'I hope you are not hurt?'

'Oh nothank you' replied Mr Tootsraising his flushed face
'it's of no consequence' Mr Toots would have signifiedif he could
that he liked it very much.

'If the dog's teeth have entered the legSir - ' began Carker
with a display of his own'


'Nothank you' said Mr Toots'it's all quite right. It's very
comfortablethank you.'

'I have the pleasure of knowing Mr Dombey' observed Carker.

'Have you though?' rejoined the blushing Took

'And you will allow meperhapsto apologisein his absence'
said Mr Carkertaking off his hat'for such a misadventureand to
wonder how it can possibly have happened.'

Mr Toots is so much gratified by this politenessand the lucky
chance of making frends with a friend of Mr Dombeythat he pulls out
his card-case which he never loses an opportunity of usingand hands
his name and address to Mr Carker: who responds to that courtesy by
giving him his ownand with that they part.

As Mr Carker picks his way so softly past the houselooking up at
the windowsand trying to make out the pensive face behind the
curtain looking at the children oppositethe rough head of Diogenes
came clambering up close by itand the dogregardless of all
soothingbarks and growlsand makes at him from that heightas ifhe
would spring down and tear him limb from limb.

Well spokenDiso near your Mistress! Anotherand another with
your head upyour eyes flashingand your vexed mouth worrying
itselffor want of him! Anotheras he picks his way along! You have
a good scentDi- catsboycats!

CHAPTER 23.

Florence solitaryand the Midshipman mysterious

Florence lived alone in the great dreary houseand day succeeded
dayand still she lived alone; and the blank walls looked down upon
her with a vacant stareas if they had a Gorgon-like mind to stare
her youth and beauty into stone.

No magic dwelling-place in magic storyshut up in the heart of a
thick woodwas ever more solitary and deserted to the fancythan was
her father's mansion in its grim realityas it stood lowering on the
street: always by nightwhen lights were shining from neighbouring
windowsa blot upon its scanty brightness; always by daya frown
upon its never-smiling face.

There were not two dragon sentries keeping ward before the gate of
this aboveas in magic legend are usually found on duty over the
wronged innocence imprisoned; but besides a glowering visagewith its
thin lips parted wickedlythat surveyed all comers from above the
archway of the doorthere was a monstrous fantasy of rusty iron
curling and twisting like a petrifaction of an arbour over threshold
budding in spikes and corkscrew pointsand bearingone on either
sidetwo ominous extinguishersthat seemed to say'Who enter here
leave light behind!' There were no talismanic characters engraven on
the portalbut the house was now so neglected in appearancethat
boys chalked the railings and the pavement - particularly round the
corner where the side wall was - and drew ghosts on the stable door;
and being sometimes driven off by Mr Towlinsonmade portraits of him
in returnwith his ears growing out horizontally from under his hat.
Noise ceased to bewithin the shadow of the roof. The brass band that


came into the street once a weekin the morningnever brayed a note
in at those windows; but all such companydown to a poor little
piping organ of weak intellectwith an imbecile party of automaton
dancerswaltzing in and out at folding-doorsfell off from it with
one accordand shunned it as a hopeless place.

The spell upon it was more wasting than the spell that used to set
enchanted houses sleeping once upon a timebut left their waking
freshness unimpaired. The passive desolation of disuse was everywhere
silently manifest about it. Within doorscurtainsdrooping heavily
lost their old folds and shapesand hung like cumbrous palls.
Hecatombs of furniturestill piled and covered upshrunk like
imprisoned and forgotten menand changed insensibly. Mirrors were dim
as with the breath of years. Patterns of carpets faded and became
perplexed and faintlike the memory of those years' trifling
incidents. Boardsstarting at unwonted footstepscreaked and shook.
Keys rusted in the locks of doors. Damp started on the wallsand as
the stains came outthe pictures seemed to go in and secrete
themselves. Mildew and mould began to lurk in closets. Fungus trees
grew in corners of the cellars. Dust accumulatednobody knew whence
nor how; spidersmothsand grubs were heard of every day. An
exploratory blackbeetle now and then was found immovable upon the
stairsor in an upper roomas wondering how he got there. Rats began
to squeak and scuffle in the night timethrough dark galleries they
mined behind the panelling.

The dreary magnificence of the state roomsseen imperfectly by the
doubtful light admitted through closed shutterswould have answered
well enough for an enchanted abode. Such as the tarnished paws of
gilded lionsstealthily put out from beneath their wrappers; the
marble lineaments of busts on pedestalsfearfully revealing
themselves through veils; the clocks that never told the timeorif
wound up by any chancetold it wrongand struck unearthly numbers
which are not upon the dial; the accidental tinklings among the
pendant lustresmore startling than alarm-bells; the softened sounds
and laggard air that made their way among these objectsand a phantom
crowd of othersshrouded and hoodedand made spectral of shape. But
besidesthere was the great staircasewhere the lord of the place so
rarely set his footand by which his little child had gone up to
Heaven. There were other staircases and passages where no one went for
weeks together; there were two closed rooms associated with dead
members of the familyand with whispered recollections of them; and
to all the house but Florencethere was a gentle figure moving
through the solitude and gloomthat gave to every lifeless thing a
touch of present human interest and wonder

For Florence lived alone in the deserted houseand day succeeded
dayand still she lived aloneand the cold walls looked down upon
her with a vacant stareas if they had a Gorgon-like mind to stare
her youth and beauty into stone

The grass began to grow upon the roofand in the crevices of the
basement paving. A scaly crumbling vegetation sprouted round the
window-sills. Fragments of mortar lost their hold upon the insides of
the unused chimneysand came dropping down. The two trees with the
smoky trunks were blighted high upand the withered branches
domineered above the leavesThrough the whole building white had
turned yellowyellow nearly black; and since the time when the poor
lady diedit had slowly become a dark gap in the long monotonous
street.

But Florence bloomed therelike the king's fair daughter in the
story. Her booksher musicand her daily teacherswere her only
real companionsSusan Nipper and Diogenes excepted: of whom the


formerin her attendance on the studies of her young mistressbegan
to grow quite learned herselfwhile the lattersoftened possibly by
the same influenceswould lay his head upon the window-ledgeand
placidly open and shut his eyes upon the streetall through a summer
morning; sometimes pricking up his head to look with great
significance after some noisy dog in a cartwho was barking his way
alongand sometimeswith an exasperated and unaccountable
recollection of his supposed enemy in the neighbourhoodrushing to
the doorwhenceafter a deafening disturbancehe would come jogging
back with a ridiculous complacency that belonged to himand lay his
jaw upon the window-ledge againwith the air of a dog who had done a
public service.

So Florence lived in her wilderness of a homewithin the circle of
her innocent pursuits and thoughtsand nothing harmed her. She could
go down to her father's rooms nowand think of himand suffer her
loving heart humbly to approach himwithout fear of repulse. She
could look upon the objects that had surrounded him in his sorrowand
could nestle near his chairand not dread the glance that she so well
remembered. She could render him such little tokens of her duty and
service' as putting everything in order for him with her own hands
binding little nosegays for tablechanging them as one by one they
withered and he did not come backpreparing something for him every'
dayand leaving some timid mark of her presence near his usual seat.
To-dayit was a little painted stand for his watch; tomorrow she
would be afraid to leave itand would substitute some other trifle of
her making not so likely to attract his eye. Waking in the night
perhapsshe would tremble at the thought of his coming home and
angrily rejecting itand would hurry down with slippered feet and
quickly beating heartand bring it away. At another timeshe would
only lay her face upon his deskand leave a kiss thereand a tear.

Still no one knew of this. Unless the household found it out when
she was not there - and they all held Mr Dombey's rooms in awe - it
was as deep a secret in her breast as what had gone before it.
Florence stole into those rooms at twilightearly in the morningand
at times when meals were served downstairs. And although they were in
every nook the better and the brighter for her careshe entered and
passed out as quietly as any sunbeamopting that she left her light
behind.

Shadowy company attended Florence up and down the echoing house
and sat with her in the dismantled rooms. As if her life were an
enchanted visionthere arose out of her solitude ministering
thoughtsthat made it fanciful and unreal. She imagined so often what
her life would have been if her father could have loved her and she
had been a favourite childthat sometimesfor the momentshe almost
believed it was soandborne on by the current of that pensive
fictionseemed to remember how they had watched her brother in his
grave together; how they had freely shared his heart between them; how
they were united in the dear remembrance of him; how they often spoke
about him yet; and her kind fatherlooking at her gentlytold her of
their common hope and trust in God. At other times she pictured to
herself her mother yet alive. And oh the happiness of falling on her
neckand clinging to her with the love and confidence of all her
soul! And oh the desolation of the solitary house againwith evening
coming onand no one there!

But there was one thoughtscarcely shaped out to herselfyet
fervent and strong within herthat upheld Florence when she strove
and filled her true young heartso sorely triedwith constancy of
purpose. Into her mindas 'into all others contending with the great
affliction of our mortal naturethere had stolen solemn wonderings
and hopesarising in the dim world beyond the present lifeand


murmuringlike faint musicof recognition in the far-off land
between her brother and her mother: of some present consciousness in
both of her: some love and commiseration for her: and some knowledge
of her as she went her way upon the earth. It was a soothing
consolation to Florence to give shelter to these thoughtsuntil one
day - it was soon after she had last seen her father in his own room
late at night - the fancy came upon herthatin weeping for his
alienated heartshe might stir the spirits of the dead against him'
Wildweakchildishas it may have been to think soand to tremble
at the half-formed thoughtit was the impulse of her loving nature;
and from that hour Florence strove against the cruel wound in her
breastand tried to think of him whose hand had made itonly with
hope.

Her father did not know - she held to it from that time - how much
she loved him. She was very youngand had no motherand had never
learnedby some fault or misfortunehow to express to him that she
loved him. She would be patientand would try to gain that art in
timeand win him to a better knowledge of his only child.

This became the purpose of her life. The morning sun shone down
upon the faded houseand found the resolution bright and fresh within
the bosom of its solitary mistressThrough all the duties of the day
it animated her; for Florence hoped that the more she knewand the
more accomplished she becamethe more glad he would be when he came
to know and like her. Sometimes she wonderedwith a swelling heart
and rising tearwhether she was proficient enough in anything to
surprise him when they should become companions. Sometimes she tried
to think if there were any kind of knowledge that would bespeak his
interest more readily than another. Always: at her booksher music
and her work: in her morning walksand in her nightly prayers: she
had her engrossing aim in view. Strange study for a childto learn
the road to a hard parent's heart!

There were many careless loungers through the streetas the summer
evening deepened into nightwho glanced across the road at the sombre
houseand saw the youthful figure at the windowsuch a contrast to
itlooking upward at the stars as they began to shinewho would have
slept the worse if they had known on what design she mused so steady.
The reputation of the mansion as a haunted housewould not have been
the gayer with some humble dwellers elsewherewho were struck by its
external gloom in passing and repassing on their daily avocationsand
so named itif they could have read its story in the darkening face.
But Florence held her sacred purposeunsuspected and unaided: and
studied only how to bring her father to the understanding that she
loved himand made no appeal against him in any wandering thought.

Thus Florence lived alone in the deserted houseand day succeeded
dayand still she lived aloneand the monotonous walls looked down
upon her with a stareas if they had a Gorgon-like intent to stare
her youth and beauty into stone.

Susan Nipper stood opposite to her young mistress one morningas
she folded and sealed a note she had been writing: and showed in her
looks an approving knowledge of its contents.

'Better late than neverdear Miss Floy' said Susan'and I do
saythat even a visit to them old Skettleses will be a Godsend.'

'It is very good of Sir Barnet and Lady SkettlesSusan' returned
Florencewith a mild correction of that young lady's familiar mention
of the family in question'to repeat their invitation so kindly.'

Miss Nipperwho was perhaps the most thoroughgoing partisan on the


face of the earthand who carried her partisanship into all matters
great or smalland perpetually waged war with it against society
screwed up her lips and shook her headas a protest against any
recognition of disinterestedness in the Skettlesesand a plea in bar
that they would have valuable consideration for their kindnessin the
company of Florence.

'They know what they're aboutif ever people did' murmured Miss
Nipperdrawing in her breath 'oh! trust them Skettleses for that!'

'I am not very anxious to go to FulhamSusanI confess' said
Florence thoughtfully: 'but it will be right to go. I think it will be
better.'

'Much better' interposed Susanwith another emphatic shake of her
head.

'And so' said Florence'though I would prefer to have gone when
there was no one thereinstead of in this vacation timewhen it
seems there are some young people staying in the houseI have
thankfully said yes.'

'For which I sayMiss FloyOh be joyful!' returned Susan'Ah!

This last ejaculationwith which Miss Nipper frequently wound up a
sentenceat about that epoch of timewas supposed below the level of
the hall to have a general reference to Mr Dombeyand to be
expressive of a yearning in Miss Nipper to favour that gentleman with
a piece of her mind. But she never explained it; and it hadin
consequencethe charm of mysteryin addition to the advantage of the
sharpest expression.

'How long it is before we have any news of WalterSusan!' observed
Florenceafter a moment's silence.

'Long indeedMiss Floy!' replied her maid. 'And Perch saidwhen
he came just now to see for letters - but what signifies what he
says!' exclaimed Susanreddening and breaking off. 'Much he knows
about it!'

Florence raised her eyes quicklyand a flush overspread her face.

'If I hadn't' said Susan Nipperevidently struggling with some
latent anxiety and alarmand looking full at her young mistress
while endeavouring to work herself into a state of resentment with the
unoffending Mr Perch's image'if I hadn't more manliness than that
insipidest of his sexI'd never take pride in my hair againbut turn
it up behind my earsand wear coarse capswithout a bit of border
until death released me from my insignificance. I may not be a Amazon
Miss Floyand wouldn't so demean myself by such disfigurementbut
anyways I'm not a giver upI hope'

'Give up! What?' cried Florencewith a face of terror.

'WhynothingMiss' said Susan. 'Good graciousnothing! It's
only that wet curl-paper of a manPerchthat anyone might almost
make away withwith a touchand really it would be a blessed event
for all parties if someone would take pity on himand would have the
goodness!'

'Does he give up the shipSusan?' inquired Florencevery pale.

'NoMiss' returned Susan'I should like to see' him make so bold
as do it to my face! NoMissbut he goes 'on about some bothering


ginger that Mr Walter was to send to Mrs Perchand shakes his dismal
headand says he hopes it may be coming; anyhowhe saysit can't
come now in time for the intended occasionbut may do for nextwhich
really' said Miss Nipperwith aggravated scorn'puts me out of
patience with the manfor though I can bear a great dealI am not a
camelneither am I' added Susanafter a moment's consideration'if
I know myselfa dromedary neither.'

'What else does he saySusan?' inquired Florenceearnestly.
'Won't you tell me?'

'As if I wouldn't tell you anythingMiss Floyand everything!'
said Susan. 'Whynothing Misshe says that there begins to be a
general talk about the shipand that they have never had a ship on
that voyage half so long unheard ofand that the Captain's wife was
at the office yesterdayand seemed a little put out about itbut
anyone could say thatwe knew nearly that before.'

'I must visit Walter's uncle' said Florencehurriedly'before I
leave home. I will go and see him this morning. Let us walk there
directlySusan.

Miss Nipper having nothing to urge against the proposalbut being
perfectly acquiescentthey were soon equippedand in the streets
and on their way towards the little Midshipman.

The state of mind in which poor Walter had gone to Captain
Cuttle'son the day when Brogley the broker came into possessionand
when there seemed to him to be an execution in the very steepleswas
pretty much the same as that in which Florence now took her way to
Uncle Sol's; with this differencethat Florence suffered the added
pain of thinking that she had beenperhapsthe innocent occasion of
involving Walter in periland all to whom he was dearherself
includedin an agony of suspense. For the restuncertainty and
danger seemed written upon everything. The weathercocks on spires and
housetops were mysterious with hints of stormy windand pointedlike
so many ghostly fingersout to dangerous seaswhere fragments of
great wrecks were driftingperhapsand helpless men were rocked upon
them into a sleep as deep as the unfathomable waters. When Florence
came into the Cityand passed gentlemen who were talking together
she dreaded to hear them speaking of the shipan'd saying it was
lost. Pictures and prints of vessels fighting with the rolling waves
filled her with alarm. The smoke and cloudsthough moving gently
moved too fast for her apprehensionsand made her fear there was a
tempest blowing at that moment on the ocean.

Susan Nipper may or may not have been affected similarlybut
having her attention much engaged in struggles with boyswhenever
there was any press of people - forbetween that grade of human kind
and herselfthere was some natural animosity that invariably broke
outwhenever they came together - it would seem that she had not much
leisure on the road for intellectual operations

Arriving in good time abreast of the wooden Midshipman on the
opposite side of the wayand waiting for an opportunity to cross the
streetthey were a little surprised at first to seeat the
Instrument-maker's doora round-headed ladwith his chubby face
addressed towards the skywhoas they looked at himsuddenly thrust
into his capacious mouth two fingers of each handand with the
assistance of that machinery whistledwith astonishing shrillnessto
some pigeons at a considerable elevation in the air.

'Mrs Richards's eldestMiss!' said Susan'and the worrit of Mrs
Richards's life!'


As Polly had been to tell Florence of the resuscitated prospects of
her son and heirFlorence was prepared for the meeting: soa
favourable moment presenting itselfthey both hastened across
without any further contemplation of Mrs Richards's bane' That
sporting characterunconscious of their approachagain whistled with
his utmost mightand then yelled in a rapture of excitement'Strays!
Whip! Strays!' which identification had such an effect upon the
conscience-stricken pigeonsthat instead of going direct to some town
in the North of Englandas appeared to have been their original
intentionthey began to wheel and falter; whereupon Mrs Richards's
first born pierced them with another whistleand again yelledin a
voice that rose above the turmoil of the street'Strays! Who~oop!
Strays!'

From this transporthe was abruptly recalled to terrestrial
objectsby a poke from Miss Nipperwhich sent him into the shop

'Is this the way you show your penitencewhen Mrs Richards has
been fretting for you months and months?' said Susanfollowing the
poke. 'Where's Mr Gills?'

Robwho smoothed his first rebellious glance at Miss Nipper when
he saw Florence followingput his knuckles to his hairin honour of
the latterand said to the formerthat Mr Gills was out'

Fetch him home' said Miss Nipperwith authority'and say that my
young lady's here.'

'I don't know where he's gone' said Rob.

'Is that your penitence?' cried Susanwith stinging sharpness.

'Why how can I go and fetch him when I don't know where to go?'
whimpered the baited Rob. 'How can you be so unreasonable?'

'Did Mr Gills say when he should be home?' asked Florence.

'YesMiss' replied Robwith another application of his knuckles
to his hair. 'He said he should be home early in the afternoon; in
about a couple of hours from nowMiss.'

'Is he very anxious about his nephew?' inquired Susan.

'YesMiss' returned Robpreferring to address himself to
Florence and slighting Nipper; 'I should say he wasvery much so. He
ain't indoorsMissnot a quarter of an hour together. He can't
settle in one place five minutes. He goes aboutlike a - just like a
stray' said Robstooping to get a glimpse of the pigeons through the
windowand checking himselfwith his fingers half-way to his mouth
on the verge of another whistle.

'Do you know a friend of Mr Gillscalled Captain Cuttle?' inquired
Florenceafter a moment's reflection.

'Him with a hookMiss?' rejoined Robwith an illustrative twist
of his left hand. YesMiss. He was here the day before yesterday.'

'Has he not been here since?' asked Susan.

'NoMiss' returned Robstill addressing his reply to Florence.

'Perhaps Walter's Uncle has gone thereSusan' observed Florence
turning to her.


'To Captain Cuttle'sMiss?' interposed Rob; 'nohe's not gone
thereMiss. Because he left particular word that if Captain Cuttle
calledI should tell him how surprised he wasnot to have seen him
yesterdayand should make him stop till he came back'

'Do you know where Captain Cuttle lives?' asked Florence.

Rob replied in the affirmativeand turning to a greasy parchment
book on the shop deskread the address aloud.

Florence again turned to her maid and took counsel with her in a
low voicewhile Rob the round-eyedmindful of his patron's secret
chargelooked on and listened. Florence proposed that they kould go
to Captain Cuttle's house; hear from his own lipswhat he thought of
the absence of any tidings ofthe Son and Heir; and bring himif they
couldto comfort Uncle Sol. Susan at first objected slightlyon the
score of distance; but a hackney-coach being mentioned by her
mistresswithdrew that oppositionand gave in her assent. There were
some minutes of discussion between them before they came to this
conclusionduring which the staring Rob paid close attention to both
speakersand inclined his ear to each by turnsas if he were
appointed arbitrator of the argument.

In timeRob was despatched for a coachthe visitors keeping shop
meanwhile; and when he brought itthey got into itleaving word for
Uncle Sol that they would be sure to call againon their way back.
Rob having stared after the coach until it was as invisible as the
pigeons had now becomesat down behind the desk with a most assiduous
demeanour; and in order that he might forget nothing of what had
transpiredmade notes of it on various small scraps of paperwith a
vast expenditure of ink. There was no danger of these documents
betraying anythingif accidentally lost; for long before a word was
dryit became as profound a mystery to Robas if he had had no part
whatever in its production.

While he was yet busy with these laboursthe hackney-coachafter
encountering unheard-of difficulties from swivel-bridgessoft roads
impassable canalscaravans of caskssettlements of scarlet-beans and
little wash-housesand many such obstacles abounding in that country
stopped at the corner of Brig Place. Alighting hereFlorence and
Susan Nipper walked down the streetand sought out the abode of
Captain Cuttle.

It happened by evil chance to be one of Mrs MacStinger's great
cleaning days. On these occasionsMrs MacStinger was knocked up by
the policeman at a quarter before three in the morningand rarely
such before twelve o'clock next night. The chief object of this
institution appeared to bethat Mrs MacStinger should move all the
furniture into the back garden at early dawnwalk about the house in
pattens all dayand move the furniture back again after dark. These
ceremonies greatly fluttered those doves the young MacStingerswho
were not only unable at such times to find any resting-place for the
soles of their feetbut generally came in for a good deal of pecking
from the maternal bird during the progress of the solemnities.

At the moment when Florence and Susan Nipper presented themselves
at Mrs MacStinger's doorthat worthy but redoubtable female was in
the act of conveying Alexander MacStingeraged two years and three
monthsalong the passagefor forcible deposition in a sitting
posture on the street pavement: Alexander being black in the face with
holding his breath after punishmentand a cool paving-stone being
usually found to act as a powerful restorative in such cases.


The feelings of Mrs MacStingeras a woman and a motherwere
outraged by the look of pity for Alexander which she observed on
Florence's face. ThereforeMrs MacStinger asserting those finest
emotions of our naturein preference to weakly gratifying her
curiosityshook and buffeted Alexander both before and during the
application of the paving-stoneand took no further notice of the
strangers.

'I beg your pardonMa'am' said Florencewhen the child had found
his breath againand was using it. 'Is this Captain Cuttle's house?'

'No' said Mrs MacStinger.

'Not Number Nine?' asked Florencehesitating.

'Who said it wasn't Number Nine?' said Mrs MacStinger.

Susan Nipper instantly struck inand begged to inquire what Mrs
MacStinger meant by thatand if she knew whom she was talking to.

Mrs MacStinger in retortlooked at her all over. 'What do you want
with Captain CuttleI should wish to know?' said Mrs MacStinger.

'Should you? Then I'm sorry that you won't be satisfied' returned
Miss Nipper.

'HushSusan! If you please!' said Florence. 'Perhaps you can have
the goodness to tell us where Captain Cutlle livesMa'am as he don't
live here.'

'Who says he don't live here?' retorted the implacable MacStinger.
'I said it wasn't Cap'en Cuttle's house - and it ain't his house -and
forbid itthat it ever should be his house - for Cap'en Cuttle don't
know how to keep a house - and don't deserve to have a house - it's my
house - and when I let the upper floor to Cap'en Cuttleoh I do a
thankless thingand cast pearls before swine!'

Mrs MacStinger pitched her voice for the upper windows in offering
these remarksand cracked off each clause sharply by itself as if
from a rifle possessing an infinity of barrels. After the last shot
the Captain's voice was heard to sayin feeble remonstrance from his
own room'Steady below!'

'Since you want Cap'en Cuttlethere he is!' said Mrs MacStinger
with an angry motion of her hand. On Florence making bold to enter
without any more parleyand on Susan followingMrs MacStinger
recommenced her pedestrian exercise in pattensand Alexander
MacStinger (still on the paving-stone)who had stopped in his crying
to attend to the conversationbegan to wail againentertaining
himself during that dismal performancewhich was quite mechanical
with a general survey of the prospectterminating in the
hackney-coach.

The Captain in his own apartment was sitting with his hands in his
pockets and his legs drawn up under his chairon a very small
desolate islandlying about midway in an ocean of soap and water. The
Captain's windows had been cleanedthe walls had been cleanedthe
stove had been cleanedand everything the stove exceptedwas wet
and shining with soft soap and sand: the smell of which dry-saltery
impregnated the air. In the midst of the dreary scenethe Captain
cast away upon his islandlooked round on the waste of waters with a
rueful countenanceand seemed waiting for some friendly bark to come
that wayand take him off.


But when the Captaindirecting his forlorn visage towards the
doorsaw Florence appear with her maidno words can describe his
astonishment. Mrs MacStinger's eloquence having rendered all other
sounds but imperfectly distinguishablehe had looked for no rarer
visitor than the potboy or the milkman; whereforewhen Florence
appearedand coming to the confines of the islandput her hand in
histhe Captain stood upaghastas if he supposed herfor the
momentto be some young member of the Flying Dutchman's family.'

Instantly recovering his self-possessionhoweverthe Captain's
first care was to place her on dry landwhich he happily
accomplishedwith one motion of his arm. Issuing forththenupon
the mainCaptain Cuttle took Miss Nipper round the waistand bore
her to the island also. Captain Cuttlethenwith great respect and
admirationraised the hand of Florence to his lipsand standing off
a little(for the island was not large enough for three)beamed on her
from the soap and water like a new description of Triton.

'You are amazed to see usI am sure'said Florencewith a smile.

The inexpressibly gratified Captain kissed his hook in replyand
growledas if a choice and delicate compliment were included in the
words'Stand by! Stand by!'

'But I couldn't rest' said Florence'without coming to ask you
what you think about dear Walter - who is my brother now- and whether
there is anything to fearand whether you will not go and console his
poor Uncle every dayuntil we have some intelligence of him?'

At these words Captain Cuttleas by an involuntary gesture
clapped his hand to his headon which the hard glazed hat was not
and looked discomfited.

'Have you any fears for Walter's safety?' inquired Florencefrom
whose face the Captain (so enraptured he was with it) could not take
his eyes: while shein her turnlooked earnestly at himto be
assured of the sincerity of his reply.

'NoHeart's-delight' said Captain Cuttle'I am not afeard. Wal'r
is a lad as'll go through a deal o' hard weather. Wal'r is a lad as'll
bring as much success to that 'ere brig as a lad is capable on.
Wal'r' said the Captainhis eyes glistening with the praise of his
young friendand his hook raised to announce a beautiful quotation
'is what you may call a out'ard and visible sign of an in'ard and
spirited graspand when found make a note of.'

Florencewho did not quite understand thisthough the Captain
evidentllty thought it full of meaningand highly satisfactory
mildly looked to him for something more.

'I am not afeardmy Heart's-delight' resumed the Captain
'There's been most uncommon bad weather in them latitudesthere's no
denyin'and they have drove and drove and been beat offmay be
t'other side the world. But the ship's a good shipand the lad's a
good lad; and it ain't easythank the Lord' the Captain made a
little bow'to break up hearts of oakwhether they're in brigs or
buzzums. Here we have 'em both wayswhich is bringing it up with a
round turnand so I ain't a bit afeard as yet.'

'As yet?' repeated Florence.

'Not a bit' returned the Captainkissing his iron hand; 'and
afore I begin to bemy Hearts-delightWal'r will have wrote home
from the islandor from some port or anotherand made all taut and


shipsahape'And with regard to old Sol Gillshere the Captain became
solemn'who I'll stand byand not desert until death do us partand
when the stormy winds do blowdo blowdo blow - overhaul the
Catechism' said the Captain parenthetically'and there you'll find
them expressions - if it would console Sol Gills to have the opinion
of a seafaring man as has got a mind equal to any undertaking that he
puts it alongside ofand as was all but smashed in his'prenticeship
and of which the name is Bunsbythat 'ere man shall give him such an
opinion in his own parlour as'll stun him. Ah!' said Captain Cuttle
vauntingly'as much as if he'd gone and knocked his head again a
door!'

'Let us take this ~gentleman to see himand let us hear what he
says' cried Florence. 'Will you go with us now? We have a coach
here.'

Again the Captain clapped his hand to his headon which the hard
glazed hat was notand looked discomfited. But at this instant a most
remarkable phenomenon occurred. The door openingwithout any note of
preparationand apparently of itselfthe hard glazed hat in question
skimmed into the room like a birdand alighted heavily at the
Captain's feet. The door then shut as violently as it had openedand
nothIng ensued in explanation of the prodigy.

Captain Cuttle picked up his hatand having turned it over with a
look of interest and welcomebegan to polish it on his sleeve' While
doing sothe Captain eyed his visitors intentlyand said in a low
voice

'You see I should have bore down on Sol Gills yesterdayand this
morningbut she - she took it away and kep it. That's the long and
short ofthe subject.'

'Who didfor goodness sake?' asked Susan Nipper.

'The lady of the housemy dear'returned the Captainin a gruff
whisperand making signals of secrecy.'We had some words about the
swabbing of these here planksand she - In short' said the Captain
eyeing the doorand relieving himself with a long breath'she
stopped my liberty.'

'Oh! I wish she had me to deal with!' said Susanreddening with
the energy of the wish. 'I'd stop her!'

'Would youdo youmy dear?' rejoined the Captainshaking his
head doubtfullybut regarding the desperate courage of the fair
aspirant with obvious admiration. 'I don't know. It's difficult
navigation. She's very hard to carry on withmy dear. You never can
tell how she'll headyou see. She's full one minuteand round upon
you next. And when she in a tartar' said the Captainwith the
perspiration breaking out upon his forehead. There was nothing but a
whistle emphatic enough for the conclusion of the sentenceso the
Captain whistled tremulously. After which he again shook his headand
recurring to his admiration of Miss Nipper's devoted braverytimidly
repeated'Would youdo you thinkmy dear?'

Susan only replied with a bridling smilebut that was so very full
of defiancethat there is no knowing how long Captain Cuttle might
have stood entranced in its contemplationif Florence in her anxiety
had not again proposed their immediately resorting to the oracular
Bunsby. Thus reminded of his dutyCaptain Cuttle Put on the glazed
hat firmlytook up another knobby stickwith which he had supplied
the place of that one given to Walterand offering his arm to
Florenceprepared to cut his way through the enemy.


It turned outhoweverthat Mrs MacStinger had already changed her
courseand that she headedas the Captain had remarked she often
didin quite a new direction. For when they got downstairsthey
found that exemplary woman beating the mats on the doorstepswith
Alexanderstill upon the paving-stonedimly looming through a fog of
dust; and so absorbed was Mrs MacStinger in her household occupation
that when Captain Cuttle and his visitors passedshe beat the harder
and neither by word nor gesture showed any consciousness of their
vicinity. The Captain was so well pleased with this easy escape although
the effect of the door-mats on him was like a copious
administration of snuffand made him sneeze until the tears ran down
his face - that he could hardly believe his good fortune; but more
than oncebetween the door and the hackney-coachlooked over his
shoulderwith an obvious apprehension of Mrs MacStinger's giving
chase yet.

Howeverthey got to the corner of Brig Place without any
molestation from that terrible fire-ship; and the Captain mounting the
coach-box - for his gallantry would not allow him to ride inside with
the ladiesthough besought to do so - piloted the driver on his
course for Captain Bunsby's vesselwhich was called the Cautious
Claraand was lying hard by Ratcliffe.

Arrived at the wharf off which this great commander's ship was
jammed in among some five hundred companionswhose tangled rigging
looked like monstrous cobwebs half swept downCaptain Cuttle appeared
at the coach-windowand invited Florence and Miss Nipper to accompany
him on board; observing that Bunsby was to the last degree
soft-hearted in respect of ladiesand that nothing would so much tend
to bring his expansive intellect into a state of harmony as their
presentation to the Cautious Clara.

Florence readily consented; and the Captaintaking her little hand
in his prodigious palmled herwith a mixed expression of patronage
paternityprideand ceremonythat was pleasant to seeover several
very dirty decksuntilcoming to the Clarathey found that cautious
craft (which lay outside the tier) with her gangway removedand
half-a-dozen feet of river interposed between herself and her nearest
neighbour. It appearedfrom Captain Cuttle's explanationthat the
great Bunsbylike himselfwas cruelly treated by his landladyand
that when her usage of him for the time being was so hard that he
could bear it no longerhe set this gulf between them as a last
resource.

'Clara a-hoy!' cried the Captainputting a hand to each side of
his mouth.

'A-hoy!' cried a boylike the Captain's echotumbling up from
below.

'Bunsby aboard?' cried the Captainhailing the boy in a stentorian
voiceas if he were half-a-mile off instead of two yards.

'Ayay!' cried the boyin the same tone.

The boy then shoved out a plank to Captain Cuttlewho adjusted it
carefullyand led Florence across: returning presently for Miss
Nipper. So they stood upon the deck of the Cautious Clarain whose
standing riggingdivers fluttering articles of dress were curingin
company with a few tongues and some mackerel.

Immediately there appearedcoming slowly up above the bulk-head of
the cabinanother bulk-head 'humanand very large - with one


stationary eye in the mahogany faceand one revolving oneon the
principle of some lighthouses. This head was decorated with shaggy
hairlike oakum' which had no governing inclination towards the
northeastwestor southbut inclined to all four quarters of the
compassand to every point upon it. The head was followed by a
perfect desert of chinand by a shirt-collar and neckerchiefand by
a dreadnought pilot-coatand by a pair of dreadnought pilot-trousers
whereof the waistband was so very broad and highthat it became a
succedaneum for a waistcoat: being ornamented near the wearer's
breastbone with some massive wooden buttonslike backgammon men. As
the lower portions of these pantaloons became revealedBunsby stood
confessed; his hands in their pocketswhich were of vast size; and
his gaze directednot to Captain Cuttle or the ladiesbut the
mast-head.

The profound appearance of this philosopherwho was bulky and
strongand on whose extremely red face an expression of taciturnity
sat enthronednot inconsistent with his characterin which that
quality was proudly conspicuousalmost daunted Captain Cuttlethough
on familiar terms with him. Whispering to Florence that Bunsby had
never in his life expressed surpriseand was considered not to know
what it meantthe Captain watched him as he eyed his mast-headand
afterwards swept the horizon; and when the revolving eye seemed to be
coming round in his directionsaid:

'Bunsbymy ladhow fares it?'

A deepgruffhusky utterancewhich seemed to have no connexion
with Bunsbyand certainly had not the least effect upon his face
replied'Ayayshipmethow goes it?' At the same time Bunsby's
right hand and armemerging from a pocketshook the Captain'sand
went back again.

'Bunsby' said the Captainstriking home at once'here you are; a
man of mindand a man as can give an opinion. Here's a young lady as
wants to take that opinionin regard of my friend Wal'r; likewise my
t'other friendSol Gillswhich is a character for you to come within
hail ofbeing a man of sciencewhich is the mother of inwentionand
knows no law. Bunsbywill you wearto oblige meand come along with
us?'

The great commanderwho seemed by expression of his visage to be
always on the look-out for something in the extremest distance' and to
have no ocular knowledge of any anng' within ten milesmade no reply
whatever.

'Here is a man' said the Captainaddressing himself to his fair
auditorsand indicating the commander with his outstretched hook
'that has fell downmore than any man alive; that has had more
accidents happen to his own self than the Seamen's Hospital to all
hands; that took as many spars and bars and bolts about the outside of
his head when he was youngas you'd want a order for on Chatham-yard
to build a pleasure yacht with; and yet that his opinions in that way
it's my belieffor there ain't nothing like 'em afloat or ashore.'

The stolid commander appeared by a very slight vibration in his
elbowsto express some satisfitction in this encomium; but if his
face had been as distant as his gaze wasit could hardIy have
enlightened the beholders less in reference to anything that was
passing in his thoughts.

'Shipmate' said Bunsbyall of a suddenand stooping down to look
out under some interposing spar'what'll the ladies drink?'


Captain Cuttlewhose delicacy was shocked by such an inquiry in
connection with Florencedrew the sage asideand seeming to explain
in his earaccompanied him below; wherethat he might not take
offencethe Captain drank a dram himself' which Florence and Susan
glancing down the open skylightsaw the sagewith difficulty finding
room for himself between his berth and a very little brass fireplace
serve out for self and friend. They soon reappeared on deckand
Captain Cuttletriumphing in the success of his enterpriseconducted
Florence back to the coachwhile Bunsby followedescorting Miss
Nipperwhom he hugged upon the way (much to that young lady's
indignation) with his pilot-coated armlike a blue bear.

The Captain put his oracle insideand gloried so much in having
secured himand having got that mind into a hackney-coachthat he
could not refrain from often peeping in at Florence through the little
window behind the driverand testifiing his delight in smilesand
also in taps upon his foreheadto hint to her that the brain of
Bunsby was hard at it' In the meantimeBunsbystill hugging Miss
Nipper (for his friendthe Captainhad not exaggerated the softness
of his heart)uniformily preserved his gravity of deportmentand
showed no other consciousness of her or anything.

Uncle Solwho had come homereceived them at the doorand
ushered them immediately into the little back parlour: strangely
altered by the absence of Walter. On the tableand about the room
were the charts and maps on which the heavy-hearted Instrument-maker
had again and again tracked the missing vessel across the seaand on
whichwith a pair of compasses that he still had in his handhe had
been measuringa minute beforehow far she must have drivento have
driven here or there: and trying to demonstrate that a long time must
elapse before hope was exhausted.

'Whether she can have run' said Uncle Sollooking wistfully over
the chart; 'but nothat's almost impossible or whether she can have
been forced by stress of weather- but that's not reasonably likely.
Or whether there is any hope she so far changed her course as - but
even I can hardly hope that!' With such broken suggestionspoor old
Uncle Sol roamed over the great sheet before himand could not find a
speck of hopeful probability in it large enough to set one small point
of the compasses upon.

Florence saw immediately - it would have been difficult to help
seeing - that there was a singularindescribable change in the old
manand that while his manner was far more restless and unsettled
than usualthere was yet a curiouscontradictory decision in it
that perplexed her very much. She fancied once that he spoke wildly
and at random; for on her saying she regretted not to have seen him
when she had been there before that morninghe at first replied that
he had been to see herand directly afterwards seemed to wish to
recall that answer.

'You have been to see me?' said Florence. 'To-day?'

'Yesmy dear young lady' returned Uncle Sollooking at her and
away from her in a confused manner. 'I wished to see you with my own
eyesand to hear you with my own earsonce more before - ' There he
stopped.

'Before when? Before what?' said Florenceputting her hand upon
his arm.

'Did I say "before?"' replied old Sol. 'If I didI must have meant
before we should have news of my dear boy.'


'You are not well' said Florencetenderly. 'You have been so very
anxious I am sure you are not well.'

'I am as well' returned the old manshutting up his right hand
and holding it out to show her: 'as well and firm as any man at my
time of life can hope to be. See! It's steady. Is its master not as
capable of resolution and fortitude as many a younger man? I think so.
We shall see.'

There was that in his manner more than in his wordsthough they
remained with her toowhich impressed Florence so muchthat she
would have confided her uneasiness to Captain Cuttle at that moment
if the Captain had not seized that moment for expounding the state of
circumstanceon which the opinion of the sagacious Bunsby was
requestedand entreating that profound authority to deliver the same.

Bunsbywhose eye continued to be addressed to somewhere about the
half-way house between London and Gravesendtwo or three times put
out his rough right armas seeking to wind it for inspiration round
the fair form of Miss Nipper; but that young female having withdrawn
herselfin displeasureto the opposite side of the tablethe soft
heart of the Commander of the Cautious Clara met with no response to
its impulses. After sundry failures in this wisethe Commander
addressing himself to nobodythus spake; or rather the voice within
him said of its own accordand quite independent of himselfas if he
were possessed by a gruff spirit:

'My name's Jack Bunsby!'

'He was christened John' cried the delighted Captain Cuttle. 'Hear
him!'

'And what I says' pursued the voiceafter some deliberation'I
stands to.

The Captainwith Florence on his armnodded at the auditoryand
seemed to say'Now he's coming out. This is what I meant when I
brought him.'

'Whereby' proceeded the voice'why not? If sowhat odds? Can any
man say otherwise? No. Awast then!'

When it had pursued its train of argument to this pointthe voice
stoppedand rested. It then proceeded very slowlythus:

'Do I believe that this here Son and Heir's gone downmy lads?
Mayhap. Do I say so? Which? If a skipper stands out by Sen' George's
Channelmaking for the Downswhat's right ahead of him? The
Goodwins. He isn't foroed to run upon the Goodwinsbut he may. The
bearings of this observation lays in the application on it. That ain't
no part of my duty. Awast thenkeep a bright look-out for'ardand
good luck to you!'

The voice here went out of the back parlour and into the street
taking the Commander of the Cautious Clara with itand accompanying
him on board again with all convenient expeditionwhere he
immediately turned inand refreshed his mind with a nap.

The students of the sage's preceptsleft to their own application
of his wisdom - upon a principle which was the main leg of the Bunsby
tripodas it is perchance of some other oracular stools - looked upon
one another in a little uncertainty; while Rob the Grinderwho had
taken the innocent freedom of peering inand listeningthrough the
skylight in the roofcame softly down from the leadsin a state of


very dense confusion. Captain Cuttlehoweverwhose admiration of
Bunsby wasif possibleenhanced by the splendid manner in which he
had justified his reputation and come through this solemn reference
proceeded to explain that Bunsby meant nothing but confidence; that
Bunsby had no misgivings; and that such an opinion as that man had
givencoming from such a mind as hiswas Hope's own anchorwith
good roads to cast it in. Florence endeavoured to believe that the
Captain was right; but the Nipperwith her arms tight foldedshook
her head in resolute denialand had no more trust m Bunsby than in Mr
Perch himself.

The philosopher seemed to have left Uncle Sol pretty much where he
had found himfor he still went roaming about the watery world
compasses in handand discovering no rest for them. It was in
pursuance of a whisper in his ear from Florencewhile the old man was
absorbed in this pursuitthat Captain Cuttle laid his heavy hand upon
his shoulder.

'What cheerSol Gills?' cried the Captainheartily.

'But so-soNed' returned the Instrument-maker. 'I have been
rememberingall this afternoonthat on the very day when my boy
entered Dombey's Houseand came home late to dinnersitting just
there where you standwe talked of storm and shipwreckand I could
hardly turn him from the subject'

But meeting the eyes of Florencewhich were fixed with earnest
scrutiny upon his facethe old man stopped and smiled.

'Stand byold friend!' cried the Captain. 'Look alive! I tell you
whatSol Gills; arter I've convoyed Heart's-delight safe home' here
the Captain kissed his hook to Florence'I'll come back and take you
in tow for the rest of this blessed day. You'll come and eat your
dinner along with meSolsomewheres or another.'

'Not to-dayNed!' said the old man quicklyand appearing to be
unaccountably startled by the proposition. 'Not to-day. I couldn't do
it!'

'Why not?' returned the Captaingazing at him in astonishment.

'I - I have so much to do. I - I mean to think ofand arrange. I
couldn't do itNedindeed. I must go out againand be aloneand
turn my mind to many things to-day.'

The Captain looked at the Instrument-makerand looked at Florence
and again at the Instrument-maker. 'To-morrowthen' he suggestedat
last.

'Yesyes. To-morrow' said the old man. 'Think of me to-morrow.
Say to-morrow.'

'I shall come here earlymindSol Gills' stipulated the Captain.

'Yesyes. The first thing tomorrow morning' said old Sol; 'and
now good-byeNed Cuttleand God bless you!'

Squeezing both the Captain's handswith uncommon fervouras he
said itthe old man turned to Florencefolded hers in his ownand
put them to his lips; then hurried her out to the coach with very
singular precipitation. Altogetherhe made such an effect on Captain
Cuttle that the Captain lingered behindand instructed Rob to be
particularly gentle and attentive to his master until the morning:
which injunction he strengthened with the payment of one shilling


downand the promise of another sixpence before noon next day. This
kind office performedCaptain Cuttlewho considered himself the
natural and lawful body-guard of Florencemounted the box with a
mighty sense of his trustand escorted her home. At partinghe
assured her that he would stand by Sol Gillsclose and true; and once
again inquired of Susan Nipperunable to forget her gallant words in
reference to Mrs MacStinger'Would youdo you think my dear
though?'

When the desolate house had closed upon the twothe Captain's
thoughts reverted to the old Instrument-makerand he felt
uncomfortable. Thereforeinstead of going homehe walked up and down
the street several timesandeking out his leisure until evening
dined late at a certain angular little tavern in the Citywith a
public parlour like a wedgeto which glazed hats much resorted. The
Captain's principal intention was to pass Sol Gills'safter darkand
look in through the window: which he didThe parlour door stood open
and he could see his old friend writing busily and steadily at the
table withinwhile the little Midshipmanalready sheltered from the
night dewswatched him from the counter; under which Rob the Grinder
made his own bedpreparatory to shutting the shop. Reassured by the
tranquillity that reigned within the precincts of the wooden mariner
the Captain headed for Brig Placeresolving to weigh anchor betimes
in the morning.

CHAPTER 24.

The Study of a Loving Heart

Sir Barnet and Lady Skettlesvery good peopleresided in a pretty
villa at Fulhamon the banks of the Thames; which was one of the most
desirable residences in the world when a rowing-match happened to be
going pastbut had its little inconveniences at other timesamong
which may be enumerated the occasional appearance of the river in the
drawing-roomand the contemporaneous disappearance of the lawn and
shrubbery.

Sir Barnet Skettles expressed his personal consequence chiefly
through an antique gold snuffboxand a ponderous silk
pocket-kerchiefwhich he had an imposing manner of drawing out of his
pocket like a banner and using with both hands at once. Sir Barnet's
object in life was constantly to extend the range of his acquaintance.
Like a heavy body dropped into water - not to disparage so worthy a
gentleman by the comparison - it was in the nature of things that Sir
Barnet must spread an ever widening circle about himuntil there was
no room left. Orlike a sound in airthe vibration of which
according to the speculation of an ingenious modern philosophermay
go on travelling for ever through the interminable fields of space
nothing but coming to the end of his moral tether could stop Sir
Barnet Skettles in his voyage of discovery through the social system.

Sir Barnet was proud of making people acquainted with people. He
liked the thing for its own sakeand it advanced his favourite object
too. For exampleif Sir Barnet had the good fortune to get hold of a
law recruitor a country gentlemanand ensnared him to his
hospitable villaSir Barnet would say to himon the morning after
his arrival'Nowmy dear Siris there anybody you would like to
know? Who is there you would wish to meet? Do you take any interest in
writing peopleor in painting or sculpturing peopleor in acting
peopleor in anything of that sort?' Possibly the patient answered


yesand mentioned somebodyof whom Sir Barnet had no more personal
knowledge than of Ptolemy the Great. Sir Barnet repliedthat nothing
on earth was easieras he knew him very well: immediately called on
the aforesaid somebodyleft his cardwrote a short note- 'My dear
Sir - penalty of your eminent position - friend at my house naturally
desirous - Lady Skettles and myself participate - trust that genius
being superior to ceremoniesyou will do us the distinguished favour
of giving us the pleasure' etcetc. - and so killed a brace of birds
with one stonedead as door-nails.

With the snuff-box and banner in full forceSir Barnet Skettles
propounded his usual inquiry to Florence on the first morning of her
visit. When Florence thanked himand said there was no one in
particular whom she desired to seeit was natural she should think
with a pangof poor lost Walter. When Sir Barnet Skettlesurging his
kind offersaid'My dear Miss Dombeyare you sure you can remember
no one whom your good Papa - to whom I beg you present the best
compliments of myself and Lady Skettles when you write - might wish
you to know?' it was naturalperhapsthat her poor head should droop
a littleand that her voice should tremble as it softly answered in
the negative.

Skettles Juniormuch stiffened as to his cravatand sobered down
as to his spirits' was at home for the holidaysand appeared to feel
himself aggrieved by the solicitude of his excellent mother that he
should be attentive to Florence. Another and a deeper injury under
which the soul of young Barnet chafedwas the company of Dr and Mrs
Blimberwho had been invited on a visit to the paternal roof-tree
and of whom the young gentleman often said he would have preferred
their passing the vacation at Jericho.

'Is there anybody you can suggest nowDoctor Blimber?' said Sir
Barnet Skettlesturning to that gentleman.

'You are very kindSir Barnet' returned Doctor Blimber. 'Really I
am not aware that there isin particular. I like to know my
fellow-men in generalSir Barnet. What does Terence say? Anyone who
is the parent of a son is interesting to me.

'Has Mrs Blimber any wish to see any remarkable person?' asked Sir
Barnetcourteously.

Mrs Blimber repliedwith a sweet smile and a shake of her sky-blue
capthat if Sir Barnet could have made her known to Ciceroshe would
have troubled him; but such an introduction not being feasibleand
she already enjoying the friendship of himself and his amiable lady
and possessing with the Doctor her husband their joint confidence in
regard to their dear son - here young Barnet was observed to curl his
nose - she asked no more.

Sir Barnet was fainunder these circumstancesto content himself
for the time with the company assembled. Florence was glad of that;
for she had a study to pursue among themand it lay too near her
heartand was too precious and momentousto yield to any other
interest.

There were some children staying in the house. Children who were as
frank and happy with fathers and with mothers as those rosy faces
opposite home. Children who had no restraint upon their love. and
freely showed it. Florence sought to learn their secret; sought to
find out what it was she had missed; what simple art they knewand
she knew not; how she could be taught by them to show her father that
she loved himand to win his love again.


Many a day did Florence thoughtfully observe these children. On
many a bright morning did she leave her bed when the glorious sun
roseand walking up and down upon the river's bank' before anyone in
the house was stirringlook up at the windows of their roomsand
think of themasleepso gently tended and affectionately thought of.
Florence would feel more lonely thenthan in the great house all
alone; and would think sometimes that she was better there than here
and that there was greater peace in hiding herself than in mingling
with others of her ageand finding how unlike them all she was. But
attentive to her studythough it touched her to the quick at every
little leaf she turned in the hard bookFlorence remained among them
and tried with patient hopeto gain the knowledge that she wearied
for.

Ah! how to gain it! how to know the charm in its beginning! There
were daughters herewho rose up in the morningand lay down to rest
at nightpossessed of fathers' hearts already. They had no repulse to
overcomeno coldness to dreadno frown to smooth away. As the
morning advancedand the windows opened one by oneand the dew began
to dry upon the flowers and and youthful feet began to move upon the
lawnFlorenceglancing round at the bright facesthought what was
there she could learn from these children? It was too late to learn
from them; each could approach her father fearlesslyand put up her
lips to meet the ready kissand wind her arm about the neck that bent
down to caress her. She could not begin by being so bold. Oh! could it
be that there was less and less hope as she studied more and more!

She remembered wellthat even the old woman who had robbed her
when a little child - whose image and whose houseand all she had
said and donewere stamped upon her recollectionwith the enduring
sharpness of a fearful impression made at that early period of life had
spoken fondly of her daughterand how terribly even she had cried
out in the pain of hopeless separation from her child But her own
mothershe would think againwhen she recalled thishad loved her
well. Thensometimeswhen her thoughts reverted swiftly to the void
between herself and her fatherFlorence would trembleand the tears
would start upon her faceas she pictured to herself her mother
living onand coming also to dislike herbecause of her wanting the
unknown grace that should conciliate that father naturallyand had
never done so from her cradle She knew that this imagination did wrong
to her mother's memoryand had no truth in itor base to rest upon;
and yet she tried so hard to justify himand to find the whole blame
in herselfthat she could not resist its passinglike a wild cloud
through the distance of her mind.

There came among the other visitorssoon after Florenceone
beautiful girlthree or four years younger than shewho was an
orphan childand who was accompanied by her aunta grey-haired lady
who spoke much to Florenceand who greatly liked (but that they all
did) to hear her sing of an eveningand would always sit near her at
that timewith motherly interest. They had only been two days in the
housewhen Florencebeing in an arbour in the garden one warm
morningmusingly observant of a youthful group upon the turfthrough
some intervening boughs- and wreathing flowers for the head of one
little creature among them who was the pet and plaything of the rest
heard this same lady and her niecein pacing up and down a sheltered
nook close byspeak of herself.

'Is Florence an orphan like meaunt?' said the child.

'Nomy love. She has no motherbut her father is living.'

'Is she in mourning for her poor Mamanow?' inquired the child
quickly.


'No; for her only brother.'

'Has she no other brother?'

'None.'

'No sister?'

'None'

'I am veryvery sorry!' said the little girL

As they stopped soon afterwards to watch some boatsand had been
silent in the meantimeFlorencewho had risen when she heard her
nameand had gathered up her flowers to go and meet themthat they
might know of her being within hearingresumed her seat and work
expecting to hear no more; but the conversation recommenced next
moment.

'Florence is a favourite with everyone hereand deserves to beI
am sure' said the childearnestly. 'Where is her Papa?'

The aunt repliedafter a moment's pausethat she did not know.
Her tone of voice arrested Florencewho had started from her seat
again; and held her fastened to the spotwith her work hastily caught
up to her bosomand her two hands saving it from being scattered on
the ground.

'He is in EnglandI hopeaunt?' said the child.

'I believe so. Yes; I know he isindeed.'

'Has he ever been here?'

'I believe not. No.'

'Is he coming here to see her?'

'I believe not.

'Is he lameor blindor illaunt?' asked the child.

The flowers that Florence held to her breast began to fall when she
heard those wordsso wonderingly spoke She held them closer; and her
face hung down upon them'

'Kate' said the ladyafter another moment of silence'I will
tell you the whole truth about Florence as I have heard itand
believe it to be. Tell no one elsemy dearbecause it may be little
known hereand your doing so would give her pain.'

'I never will!' exclaimed the child.

'I know you never will' returned the lady. 'I can trust you as
myself. I fear thenKatethat Florence's father cares little for
hervery seldom sees hernever was kind to her in her lifeand now
quite shuns her and avoids her. She would love him dearly if he would
suffer herbut he will not - though for no fault of hers; and she is
greatly to be loved and pitied by all gentle hearts.'

More of the flowers that Florence held fell scattering on the
ground; those that remained were wetbut not with dew; and her face
dropped upon her laden hands.


'Poor Florence! Deargood Florence!' cried the child.

'Do you know why I have told you thisKate?' said the lady.

'That I may be very kind to herand take great care to try to
please her. Is that the reasonaunt?'

'Partly' said the lady'but not all. Though we see her so
cheerful; with a pleasant smile for everyone; ready to oblige us all
and bearing her part in every amusement here: she can hardly be quite
happydo you think she canKate?'

'I am afraid not' said the little girl.

'And you can understand' pursued the lady'why her observation of
children who have parents who are fond of themand proud of them like
many herejust now - should make her sorrowful in secret?'

'Yesdear aunt' said the child'I understand that very well.
Poor Florence!'

More flowers strayed upon the groundand those she yet held to her
breast trembled as if a wintry wind were rustling them.

'My Kate' said the ladywhose voice was seriousbut very calm
and sweetand had so impressed Florence from the first moment of her
hearing it'of all the youthful people hereyou are her natural and
harmless friend; you have not the innocent meansthat happier
children have - '

'There are none happieraunt!' exclaimed the childwho seemed to
cling about her.

'As other children havedear Kateof reminding her of her
misfortune. Therefore I would have youwhen you try to be her little
friendtry all the more for thatand feel that the bereavement you
sustained - thank Heaven! before you knew its weight- gives you claim
and hold upon poor Florence.'

'But I am not without a parent's loveauntand I never have
been' said the child'with you.'

'However that may bemy dear' returned the lady'your misfortune
is a lighter one than Florence's; for not an orphan in the wide world
can be so deserted as the child who is an outcast from a living
parent's love.'

The flowers were scattered on the ground like dust; the empty hands
were spread upon the face; and orphaned Florenceshrinking down upon
the groundwept long and bitterly.

But true of heart and resolute in her good purposeFlorence held
to it as her dying mother held by her upon the day that gave Paul
life. He did not know how much she loved him. However long the time in
comingand however slow the intervalshe must try to bring that
knowledge to her father's heart one day or other. Meantime she must be
careful in no thoughtless wordor lookor burst of feeling awakened
by any chance circumstanceto complain against himor to give
occasion for these whispers to his prejudice.

Even in the response she made the orphan childto whom she was
attracted stronglyand whom she had such occasion to remember
Florence was mindful of him' If she singled her out too plainly


(Florence thought) from among the restshe would confirm - in one
mind certainly: perhaps in more - the belief that he was cruel and
unnatural. Her own delight was no set-off to this'What she had
overheard was a reasonnot for soothing herselfbut for saving him;
and Florence did itin pursuance of the study of her heart.

She did so always. If a book were read aloudand there were
anything in the story that pointed at an unkind fathershe was in
pain for their application of it to him; not for herself. So with any
trifle of an interlude that was actedor picture that was shownor
game that was playedamong them. The occasions for such tenderness
towards him were so manythat her mind misgave her oftenit would
indeed be better to go back to the old houseand live again within
the shadow of its dull wallsundisturbed. How few who saw sweet
Florencein her spring of womanhoodthe modest little queen of those
small revelsimagined what a load of sacred care lay heavy in her
breast! How few of those who stiffened in her father's freezing
atmospheresuspected what a heap of fiery coals was piled upon his
head!

Florence pursued her study patientlyandfailing to acquire the
secret of the nameless grace she soughtamong the youthful company
who were assembled in the houseoften walked out alonein the early
morningamong the children of the poor. But still she found them all
too far advanced to learn from. They had won their household places
long agoand did not stand withoutas she didwith a bar across the
door.

There was one man whom she several times observed at work very
earlyand often with a girl of about her own age seated near him' He
was a very poor manwho seemed to have no regular employmentbut now
went roaming about the banks of the river when the tide was low
looking out for bits and scraps in the mud; and now worked at the
unpromising little patch of garden-ground before his cottage; and now
tinkered up a miserable old boat that belonged to him; or did some job
of that kind for a neighbouras chance occurred. Whatever the man's
labourthe girl was never employed; but satwhen she was with him
in a listlessmoping stateand idle.

Florence had often wished to speak to this man; yet she had never
taken courage to do soas he made no movement towards her. But one
morning when she happened to come upon him suddenlyfrom a by-path
among some pollard willows which terminated in the little shelving
piece of stony ground that lay between his dwelling and the water
where he was bending over a fire he had made to caulk the old boat
which was lying bottom upwardsclose byhe raised his head at the
sound of her footstepand gave her Good morning.

'Good morning' said Florenceapproaching nearer'you are at work
early.'

'I'd be glad to be often at work earlierMissif I had work to
do.'

'Is it so hard to get?' asked Florence.

'I find it so' replied the man.

Florence glanced to where the girl was sittingdrawn together
with her elbows on her kneesand her chin on her handsand said:

'Is that your daughter?'

He raised his head quicklyand looking towards the girl with a


brightened facenodded to herand said 'Yes' Florence looked
towards her tooand gave her a kind salutation; the girl muttered
something in returnungraciously and sullenly.

'Is she in want of employment also?' said Florence.

The man shook his head. 'NoMiss' he said. 'I work for both'

'Are there only you twothen?' inquired Florence.

'Only us two' said the man. 'Her mother his been dead these ten
year. Martha!' lifted up his head againand whistled to her) 'won't
you say a word to the pretty young lady?'

The girl made an impatient gesture with her cowering shouldersand
turned her head another way. Uglymisshapenpeevish
ill-conditionedraggeddirty - but beloved! Oh yes! Florence had
seen her father's look towards herand she knew whose look it had no
likeness to.

'I'm afraid she's worse this morningmy poor girl!' said the man
suspending his workand contemplating his ill-favoured childwith a
compassion that was the more tender for being rougher.

'She is illthen!' said Florence

The man drew a deep sigh 'I don't believe my Martha's had five
short days' good health' he answeredlooking at her still'in as
many long years'

'Ay! and more than thatJohn' said a neighbourwho had come down
to help him with the boat.

'More than thatyou saydo you?' cried the otherpushing back
his battered hatand drawing his hand across his forehead. 'Very
like. It seems a longlong time.'

'And the more the time' pursued the neighbour'the more you've
favoured and humoured herJohntill she's got to be a burden to
herselfand everybody else'

'Not to me' said her fatherfalling to his work. 'Not to me.'

Florence could feel - who better? - how truly he spoke. She drew a
little closer to himand would have been glad to touch his rugged
handand thank him for his goodness to the miserable object that he
looked upon with eyes so different from any other man's.

'Who would favour my poor girl - to call it favouring - if I
didn't?' said the father.

'Ayay' cried the neighbour. 'In reasonJohn. But you! You rob
yourself to give to her. You bind yourself hand and foot on her
account. You make your life miserable along of her. And what does she
care! You don't believe she knows it?'

The father lifted up his head againand whistled to her. Martha
made the same impatient gesture with her crouching shouldersin
reply; and he was glad and happy.

'Only for thatMiss' said the neighbourwith a smilein which
there was more of secret sympathy than he expressed; 'only to get
thathe never lets her out of his sight!'


'Because the day'll comeand has been coming a long while'
observed the otherbending low over his work'when to get half as
much from that unfort'nate child of mine - to get the trembling of a
fingeror the waving of a hair - would be to raise the dead.'

Florence softly put some money near his hand on the old boatand
left him.

And now Florence began to thinkif she were to fall illif she
were to fade like her dear brotherwould he then know that she had
loved him; would she then grow dear to him; would he come to her
bedsidewhen she was weak and dim of sightand take her into his
embraceand cancel all the past? Would he so forgive herin that
changed conditionfor not having been able to lay open her childish
heart to himas to make it easy to relate with what emotions she had
gone out of his room that night; what she had meant to say if she had
had the courage; and how she had endeavouredafterwardsto learn the
way she never knew in infancy?

Yesshe thought if she were dyinghe would relent. She thought
that if she layserene and not unwilling to departupon the bed that
was curtained round with recollections of their darling boyhe would
be touched homeand would say'Dear Florencelive for meand we
will love each other as we might have doneand be as happy as we
might have been these many years!' She thought that if she heard such
words from himand had her arms clasped round him' she could answer
with a smile'It is too late for anything but this; I never could be
happierdear father!' and so leave himwith a blessing on her lips.

The golden water she remembered on the wallappeared to Florence
in the light of such reflectionsonly as a current flowing on to
restand to a region where the dear onesgone beforewere waiting
hand in hand; and often when she looked upon the darker river rippling
at her feetshe thought with awful wonderbut not terrorof that
river which her brother had so often said was bearing him away.

The father and his sick daughter were yet fresh in Florence's mind
andindeedthat incident was not a week oldwhen Sir Barnet and his
lady going out walking in the lanes one afternoonproposed to her to
bear them company. Florence readily consentingLady Skettles ordered
out young Barnet as a matter of course. For nothing delighted Lady
Skettles so muchas beholding her eldest son with Florence on his
arm.

Barnetto say the truthappeared to entertain an opposite
sentiment on the subjectand on such occasions frequently expressed
himself audiblythough indefinitelyin reference to 'a parcel of
girls.' As it was not easy to ruffle her sweet temperhowever
Florence generally reconciled the young gentleman to his fate after a
few minutesand they strolled on amicably: Lady Skettles and Sir
Barnet followingin a state of perfect complacency and high
gratification.

This was the order of procedure on the afternoon in question; and
Florence had almost succeeded in overruling the present objections of
Skettles Junior to his destinywhen a gentleman on horseback came
riding bylooked at them earnestly as he passeddrew in his rein
wheeled roundand came riding back againhat in hand.

The gentleman had looked particularly at Florence; and when the
little party stoppedon his riding backhe bowed to herbefore
saluting Sir Barnet and his lady. Florence had no remembrance of
having ever seen himbut she started involuntarily when he came near
herand drew back.


'My horse is perfectly quietI assure you' said the gentleman.

It was not thatbut something in the gentleman himself - Florence
could not have said what - that made her recoil as if she had been
stung.

'I have the honour to address Miss DombeyI believe?' said the
gentlemanwith a most persuasive smile. On Florence inclining her
headhe added'My name is Carker. I can hardly hope to be remembered
by Miss Dombeyexcept by name. Carker.'

Florencesensible of a strange inclination to shiverthough the
day was hotpresented him to her host and hostess; by whom he was
very graciously received.

'I beg pardon' said Mr Carker'a thousand times! But I am going
down tomorrow morning to Mr Dombeyat Leamingtonand if Miss Dombey
can entrust me with any commissionneed I say how very happy I shall
be?'

Sir Barnet immediately divining that Florence would desire to write
a letter to her fatherproposed to returnand besought Mr Carker to
come home and dine in his riding gear. Mr Carker had the misfortune to
be engaged to dinnerbut if Miss Dombey wished to writenothing
would delight him more than to accompany them backand to be her
faithful slave in waiting as long as she pleased. As he said this with
his widest smileand bent down close to her to pat his horse's neck
Florence meeting his eyessawrather than heard him say'There is
no news of the ship!'

Confusedfrightenedshrinking from himand not even sure that he
had said those wordsfor he seemed to have shown them to her in some
extraordinary manner through his smileinstead of uttering them
Florence faintly said that she was obliged to himbut she would not
write; she had nothing to say.

'Nothing to sendMiss Dombey?' said the man of teeth.

'Nothing' said Florence'but my - but my dear love- if you
please.'

Disturbed as Florence wasshe raised her eyes to his face with an
imploring and expressive lookthat plainly besought himif he knew which
he as plainly did - that any message between her and her father
was an uncommon chargebut that one most of allto spare her. Mr
Carker smiled and bowed lowand being charged by Sir Barnet with the
best compliments of himself and Lady Skettlestook his leaveand
rode away: leaving a favourable impression on that worthy couple.
Florence was seized with such a shudder as he wentthat Sir Barnet
adopting the popular superstitionsupposed somebody was passing over
her grave. Mr Carker turning a corneron the instantlooked back
and bowedand disappearedas if he rode off to the churchyard
straightto do it.

CHAPTER 25.

Strange News of Uncle Sol

Captain Cuttlethough no sluggarddid not turn out so early on
the morning after he had seen Sol Gillsthrough the shop-window


writing in the parlourwith the Midshipman upon the counterand Rob
the Grinder making up his bed below itbut that the clocks struck six
as he raised himself on his elbowand took a survey of his little
chamber. The Captain's eyes must have done severe dutyif he usually
opened them as wide on awaking as he did that morning; and were but
roughly rewarded for their vigilanceif he generally rubbed them half
as hard. But the occasion was no common onefor Rob the Grinder had
certainly never stood in the doorway of Captain Cuttle's room before
and in it he stood thenpanting at the Captainwith a flushed and
touzled air of Bed about himthat greatly heightened both his colour
and expression.

'Holloa!' roared the Captain. 'What's the matter?'

Before Rob could stammer a word in answerCaptain Cuttle turned
outall in a heapand covered the boy's mouth with his hand.

'Steadymy lad' said the Captain'don't ye speak a word to me as
yet!'

The Captainlooking at his visitor in great consternationgently
shouldered him into the next roomafter laying this injunction upon
him; and disappearing for a few momentsforthwith returned in the
blue suit. Holding up his hand in token of the injunction not yet
being taken offCaptain Cuttle walked up to the cupboardand poured
himself out a dram; a counterpart of which he handed to the messenger.
The Captain then stood himself up in a corneragainst the wallas if
to forestall the possibility of being knocked backwards by the
communication that was to be made to him; and having swallowed his
liquorwith his eyes fixed on the messengerand his face as pale as
his face could berequested him to 'heave ahead.'

'Do you meantell youCaptain?' asked Robwho had been greatly
impressed by these precautions

'Ay!' said the Captain.

'WellSir' said Rob'I ain't got much to tell. But look here!'

Rob produced a bundle of keys. The Captain surveyed themremained
in his cornerand surveyed the messenger.

'And look here!' pursued Rob.

The boy produced a sealed packetwhich Captain Cuttle stared at as
he had stared at the keys.

'When I woke this morningCaptain' said Rob'which was about a
quarter after fiveI found these on my pillow. The shop-door was
unbolted and unlockedand Mr Gills gone.'

'Gone!' roared the Captain.

'FlowedSir' returned Rob.

The Captain's voice was so tremendousand he came out of his
corner with such way on himthat Rob retreated before him into
another corner: holding out the keys and packetto prevent himself
from being run down.

'"For Captain Cuttle Sir,' cried Rob, 'is on the keys, and on the
packet too. Upon my word and honour, Captain Cuttle, I don't know
anything more about it. I wish I may die if I do! Here's a sitiwation
for a lad that's just got a sitiwation,' cried the unfortunate


Grinder, screwing his cuff into his face: 'his master bolted with his
place, and him blamed for it!'

These lamentations had reference to Captain Cuttle's gaze, or
rather glare, which was full of vague suspicions, threatenings, and
denunciations. Taking the proffered packet from his hand, the Captain
opened it and read as follows:


'My dear Ned Cuttle. Enclosed is my will!' The Captain turned it
over, with a doubtful look - 'and Testament - Where's the Testament?'
said the Captain, instantly impeaching the ill-fated Grinder. 'What
have you done with that, my lad?'

'I never see it,' whimpered Rob. 'Don't keep on suspecting an
innocent lad, Captain. I never touched the Testament.'

Captain Cuttle shook his head, implying that somebody must be made
answerable for it; and gravely proceeded:

'Which don't break open for a year, or until you have decisive
intelligence of my dear Walter, who is dear to you, Ned, too, I am
sure.' The Captain paused and shook his head in some emotion; then, as
a re-establishment of his dignity in this trying position, looked with
exceeding sternness at the Grinder. 'If you should never hear of me,
or see me more, Ned, remember an old friend as he will remember you to
the last - kindly; and at least until the period I have mentioned has
expired, keep a home in the old place for Walter. There are no debts,
the loan from Dombey's House is paid off and all my keys I send with
this. Keep this quiet, and make no inquiry for me; it is useless. So
no more, dear Ned, from your true friend, Solomon Gills.' The Captain
took a long breath, and then read these words written below: 'The boy
Robwell recommendedas I told youfrom Dombey's House. If all else
should come to the hammertake careNedof the little Midshipman."'

To convey to posterity any idea of the manner in which the Captain
after turning this letter over and overand reading it a score of
timessat down in his chairand held a court-martial on the subject
in his own mindwould require the united genius of all the great men
whodiscarding their own untoward dayshave determined to go down to
posterityand have never got there. At first the Captain was too much
confounded and distressed to think of anything but the letter itself;
and even when his thoughts began to glance upon the various attendant
factsthey mightperhapsas well have occupied themselves with
their former themefor any light they reflected on them. In this
state of mindCaptain Cuttle having the Grinder before the courtand
no one elsefound it a great relief to decidegenerallythat he was
an object of suspicion: which the Captain so clearly expressed in his
visagethat Rob remonstrated.

'Ohdon'tCaptain!' cried the Grinder. 'I wonder how you can!
what have I done to be looked atlike that?'

'My lad' said Captain Cuttle'don't you sing out afore you're
hurt. And don't you commit yourselfwhatever you do.'

'I haven't been and committed nothingCaptain!' answered Rob.

'Keep her freethen' said the Captainimpressively'and ride
easy.

With a deep sense of the responsibility imposed upon him' and the
necessity of thoroughly fathoming this mysterious affair as became a
man in his relations with the partiesCaptain Cuttle resolved to go
down and examine the premisesand to keep the Grinder with him.


Considering that youth as under arrest at presentthe Captain was in
some doubt whether it might not be expedient to handcuff himor tie
his ankles togetheror attach a weight to his legs; but not being
clear as to the legality of such formalitiesthe Captain decided
merely to hold him by the shoulder all the wayand knock him down if
he made any objection.

Howeverhe made noneand consequently got to the
Instrument-maker's house without being placed under any more stringent
restraint. As the shutters were not yet taken downthe Captain's
first care was to have the shop opened; and when the daylight was
freely admittedhe proceededwith its aidto further investigation.

The Captain's first care was to establish himself in a chair in the
shopas President of the solemn tribunal that was sitting within him;
and to require Rob to lie down in his bed under the countershow
exactly where he discovered the keys and packet when he awokehow he
found the door when he went to try ithow he started off to Brig
Place - cautiously preventing the latter imitation from being carried
farther than the threshold - and so on to the end of the chapter. When
all this had been done several timesthe Captain shook his head and
seemed to think the matter had a bad look.

Nextthe Captainwith some indistinct idea of finding a body
instituted a strict search over the whole house; groping in the
cellars with a lighted candlethrusting his hook behind doors
bringing his head into violent contact with beamsand covering
himself with cobwebs. Mounting up to the old man's bed-roomthey
found that he had not been in bed on the previous nightbut had
merely lain down on the coverletas was evident from the impression
yet remaining there.

'And I thinkCaptain' said Roblooking round the room'that
when Mr Gills was going in and out so oftenthese last few dayshe
was taking little things awaypiecemealnot to attract attention.'

'Ay!' said the Captainmysteriously. 'Why somy lad?'

'Why' returned Roblooking about'I don't see his shaving
tackle. Nor his brushesCaptain. Nor no shirts. Nor yet his shoes.'

As each of these articles was mentionedCaptain Cuttle took
particular notice of the corresponding department of the Grinderlest
he should appear to have been in recent useor should prove to be in
present possession thereof. But Rob had no occasion to shavewas not
brushedand wore the clothes he had on for a long time pastbeyond
all possibility of a mistake.

'And what should you say' said the Captain - 'not committing
yourself - about his time of sheering off? Hey?'

'WhyI thinkCaptain' returned Rob'that he must have gone
pretty soon after I began to snore.'

'What o'clock was that?' said the Captainprepared to be very
particular about the exact time.

'How can I tellCaptain!' answered Rob. 'I only know that I'm a
heavy sleeper at firstand a light one towards morning; and if Mr
Gills had come through the shop near daybreakthough ever so much on
tiptoeI'm pretty sure I should have heard him shut the door at all
events.

On mature consideration of this evidenceCaptain Cuttle began to


think that the Instrument-maker must have vanished of his own accord;
to which logical conclusion he was assisted by the letter addressed to
himselfwhichas being undeniably in the old man's handwriting
would seemwith no great forcingto bear the constructionthat he
arranged of his own will to goand so went. The Captain had next to
consider where and why? and as there was no way whatsoever that he saw
to the solution of the first difficultyhe confined his meditations
to the second.

Remembering the old man's curious mannerand the farewell he had
taken of him; unaccountably fervent at the timebut quite
intelligible now: a terrible apprehension strengthened on the Captain
thatoverpowered by his anxieties and regrets for Walterhe had been
driven to commit suicide. Unequal to the wear and tear of daily life
as he had often professed himself to beand shaken as he no doubt was
by the uncertainty and deferred hope he had undergoneit seemed no
violently strained misgivingbut only too probable. Free from debt
and with no fear for his personal libertyor the seizure of his
goodswhat else but such a state of madness could have hurried him
away alone and secretly? As to his carrying some apparel with himif
he had really done so - and they were not even sure of that - he might
have done sothe Captain arguedto prevent inquiryto distract
attention from his probable fateor to ease the very mind that was
now revolving all these possibilities. Suchreduced into plain
languageand condensed within a small compasswas the final result
and substance of Captain Cuttle's deliberations: which took a long
time to arrive at this passand werelike some more public
deliberationsvery discursive and disorderly.

Dejected and despondent in the extremeCaptain Cuttle felt it just
to release Rob from the arrest in which he had placed himand to
enlarge himsubject to a kind of honourable inspection which he still
resolved to exercise; and having hired a manfrom Brogley the Broker
to sit in the shop during their absencethe Captaintaking Rob with
himissued forth upon a dismal quest after the mortal remains of
Solomon Gills.

Not a station-houseor bone-houseor work-house in the metropolis
escaped a visitation from the hard glazed hat. Along the wharves
among the shipping on the bank-sideup the riverdown the river
herethereeverywhereit went gleaming where men were thickest
like the hero's helmet in an epic battle. For a whole week the Captain
read of all the found and missing people in all the newspapers and
handbillsand went forth on expeditions at all hours of the day to
identify Solomon Gillsin poor little ship-boys who had fallen
overboardand in tall foreigners with dark beards who had taken
poison - 'to make sure' Captain Cuttle said'that it wam't him.' It
is a sure thing that it never wasand that the good Captain had no
other satisfaction.

Captain Cuttle at last abandoned these attempts as hopelessand
set himself to consider what was to be done next. After several new
perusals of his poor friend's letterhe considered that the
maintenance of' a home in the old place for Walter' was the primary
duty imposed upon him. Thereforethe Captain's decision wasthat he
would keep house on the premises of Solomon Gills himselfand would
go into the instrument-businessand see what came of it.

But as this step involved the relinquishment of his apartments at
Mrs MacStinger'sand he knew that resolute woman would never hear of
his deserting themthe Captain took the desperate determination of
running away.

'Nowlook ye heremy lad' said the Captain to Robwhen he had


matured this notable scheme'to-morrowI shan't be found in this
here roadstead till night - not till arter midnight p'rhaps. But you
keep watch till you hear me knockand the moment you doturn-toand
open the door.'

'Very goodCaptain' said Rob.

'You'll continue to be rated on these here books' pursued the
Captain condescendingly'and I don't say but what you may get
promotionif you and me should pull together with a will. But the
moment you hear me knock to-morrow nightwhatever time it isturn-to
and show yourself smart with the door.'

'I'll be sure to do itCaptain' replied Rob.

'Because you understand' resumed the Captaincoming back again to
enforce this charge upon his mind'there may befor anything I can
saya chase; and I might be took while I was waitingif you didn't
show yourself smart with the door.'

Rob again assured the Captain that he would be prompt and wakeful;
and the Captain having made this prudent arrangementwent home to Mrs
MacStinger's for the last time.

The sense the Captain had of its being the last timeand of the
awful purpose hidden beneath his blue waistcoatinspired him with
such a mortal dread of Mrs MacStingerthat the sound of that lady's
foot downstairs at any time of the daywas sufficient to throw him
into a fit of trembling. It fell outtoothat Mrs MacStinger was in
a charming temper - mild and placid as a house- lamb; and Captain
Cuttle's conscience suffered terrible twingeswhen she came up to
inquire if she could cook him nothing for his dinner.

'A nice small kidney-pudding nowCap'en Cuttle' said his
landlady: 'or a sheep's heart. Don't mind my trouble.'

'No thank'eeMa'am' returned the Captain.

'Have a roast fowl' said Mrs MacStinger'with a bit of weal
stuffing and some egg sauce. ComeCap'en Cuttle! Give yourself a
little treat!'

'No thank'eeMa'am' returned the Captain very humbly.

'I'm sure you're out of sortsand want to be stimulated' said Mrs
MacStinger. 'Why not havefor once in a waya bottle of sherry
wine?'

'WellMa'am' rejoined the Captain'if you'd be so good as take a
glass or twoI think I would try that. Would you do me the favour
Ma'am' said the Captaintorn to pieces by his conscience'to accept
a quarter's rent ahead?'

'And why soCap'en Cuttle?' retorted Mrs MacStinger - sharplyas
the Captain thought.

The Captain was frightened to dead 'If you would Ma'am' he said
with submission'it would oblige me. I can't keep my money very well.
It pays itself out. I should take it kind if you'd comply.'

'WellCap'en Cuttle' said the unconscious MacStingerrubbing her
hands'you can do as you please. It's not for mewith my familyto
refuseno more than it is to ask'


'And would youMa'am' said the Captaintaking down the tin
canister in which he kept his cash' from the top shelf of the
cupboard'be so good as offer eighteen-pence a-piece to the little
family all round? If you could make it convenientMa'amto pass the
word presently for them children to come for'ardin a bodyI should
be glad to see 'em'

These innocent MacStingers were so many daggers to the Captain's
breastwhen they appeared in a swarmand tore at him with the
confiding trustfulness he so little deserved. The eye of Alexander
MacStingerwho had been his favouritewas insupportable to the
Captain; the voice of Juliana MacStingerwho was the picture of her
mothermade a coward of him.

Captain Cuttle kept up appearancesneverthelesstolerably well
and for an hour or two was very hardly used and roughly handled by the
young MacStingers: who in their childish frolicsdid a little damage
also to the glazed hatby sitting in ittwo at a timeas in a nest
and drumming on the inside of the crown with their shoes. At length
the Captain sorrowfully dismissed them: taking leave of these cherubs
with the poignant remorse and grief of a man who was going to
execution.

In the silence of nightthe Captain packed up his heavier property
in a chestwhich he lockedintending to leave it therein all
probability for everbut on the forlorn chance of one day finding a
man sufficiently bold and desperate to come and ask for it. Of his
lighter necessariesthe Captain made a bundle; and disposed his plate
about his personready for flight. At the hour of midnightwhen Brig
Place was buried in slumberand Mrs MacStinger was lulled in sweet
oblivionwith her infants around herthe guilty Captainstealing
down on tiptoein the darkopened the doorclosed it softly after
himand took to his heels

Pursued by the image of Mrs MacStinger springing out of bedand
regardless of costumefollowing and bringing him back; pursued also
by a consciousness of his enormous crime; Captain Cuttle held on at a
great paceand allowed no grass to grow under his feetbetween Brig
Place and the Instrument-maker's door. It opened when he knocked - for
Rob was on the watch - and when it was bolted and locked behind him
Captain Cuttle felt comparatively safe.

'Whew!' cried the Captainlooking round him. 'It's a breather!'

'Nothing the matteris thereCaptain?' cried the gaping Rob.

'Nono!' said Captain Cuttleafter changing colourand listening
to a passing footstep in the street. 'But mind yemy lad; if any
ladyexcept either of them two as you see t'other dayever comes and
asks for Cap'en Cuttlebe sure to report no person of that name
knownnor never heard of here; observe them orderswill you?'

'I'll take careCaptain' returned Rob.

'You might say - if you liked' hesitated the Captain'that you'd
read in the paper that a Cap'en of that name was gone to Australia
emigratingalong with a whole ship's complement of people as had all
swore never to come back no more.

Rob nodded his understanding of these instructions; and Captain
Cuttle promising to make a man of himif he obeyed ordersdismissed
himyawningto his bed under the counterand went aloft to the
chamber of Solomon Gills.


What the Captain suffered next daywhenever a bonnet passedor
how often he darted out of the shop to elude imaginary MacStingers
and sought safety in the atticcannot be told. But to avoid the
fatigues attendant on this means of self-preservationthe Captain
curtained the glass door of communication between the shop and
parlouron the inside; fitted a key to it from the bunch that had
been sent to him; and cut a small hole of espial in the wall. The
advantage of this fortification is obvious. On a bonnet appearingthe
Captain instantly slipped into his garrisonlocked himself upand
took a secret observation of the enemy. Finding it a false alarmthe
Captain instantly slipped out again. And the bonnets in the street
were so very numerousand alarms were so inseparable from their
appearancethat the Captain was almost incessantly slipping in and
out all day long.

Captain Cuttle found timehoweverin the midst of this fatiguing
service to inspect the stock; in connexion with which he had the
general idea (very laborious to Rob) that too much friction could not
be bestowed upon itand that it could not be made too bright. He also
ticketed a few attractive-looking articles at a ventureat prices
ranging from ten shillings to fifty poundsand exposed them in the
window to the great astonishment of the public.

After effecting these improvementsCaptain Cuttlesurrounded by
the instrumentsbegan to feel scientific: and looked up at the stars
at nightthrough the skylightwhen he was smoking his pipe in the
little back parlour before going to bedas if he had established a
kind of property in them. As a tradesman in the Citytoohe began to
have an interest in the Lord Mayorand the Sheriffsand in Public
Companies; and felt bound to read the quotations of the Funds every
daythough he was unable to make outon any principle of navigation
what the figures meantand could have very well dispensed with the
fractions. Florencethe Captain waited onwith his strange news of
Uncle Solimmediately after taking possession of the Midshipman; but
she was away from home. So the Captain sat himself down in his altered
station of lifewith no company but Rob the Grinder; and losing count
of timeas men do when great changes come upon themthought musingly
of Walterand of Solomon Gillsand even of Mrs MacStinger herself
as among the things that had been.

CHAPTER 26.

Shadows of the Past and Future

'Your most obedientSir' said the Major. 'DammeSira friend of
my friend Dombey's is a friend of mineand I'm glad to see you!'

'I am infinitely obligedCarker' explained Mr Dombey'to Major
Bagstockfor his company and conversation. 'Major Bagstock has
rendered me great serviceCarker.'

Mr Carker the Managerhat in handjust arrived at Leamingtonand
just introduced to the Majorshowed the Major his whole double range
of teethand trusted he might take the liberty of thanking him with
all his heart for having effected so great an Improvement in Mr
Dombey's looks and spirits'

'By GadSir' said the Majorin reply'there are no thanks due
to mefor it's a give and take affair. A great creature like our
friend DombeySir' said the Majorlowering his voicebut not


lowering it so much as to render it inaudible to that gentleman
'cannot help improving and exalting his friends. He strengthens and
invigorates a manSirdoes Dombeyin his moral nature.'

Mr Carker snapped at the expression. In his moral nature. Exactly.
The very words he had been on the point of suggesting.

'But when my friend DombeySir' added the Major'talks to you of
Major BagstockI must crave leave to set him and you right. He means
plain JoeSir - Joey B. - Josh. Bagstock - Joseph- rough and tough
Old J.Sir. At your service.'

Mr Carker's excessively friendly inclinations towards the Major
and Mr Carker's admiration of his roughnesstoughnessand plainness
gleamed out of every tooth in Mr Carker's head.

'And nowSir' said the Major'you and Dombey have the devil's
own amount of business to talk over.'

'By no meansMajor' observed Mr Dombey.

'Dombey' said the Majordefiantly'I know better; a man of your
mark - the Colossus of commerce - is not to be interrupted. Your
moments are precious. We shall meet at dinner-time. In the interval
old Joseph will be scarce. The dinner-hour is a sharp sevenMr
Carker.'

With thatthe Majorgreatly swollen as to his facewithdrew; but
immediately putting in his head at the door againsaid:

'I beg your pardon. Dombeyhave you any message to 'em?'

Mr Dombey in some embarrassmentand not without a glance at the
courteous keeper of his business confidenceentrusted the Major with
his compliments.

'By the LordSir' said the Major'you must make it something
warmer than thator old Joe will be far from welcome.'

'Regards thenif you willMajor' returned Mr Dombey.

'DammeSir' said the Majorshaking his shoulders and his great
cheeks jocularly: 'make it something warmer than that.'

'What you pleasethenMajor' observed Mr Dombey.

'Our friend is slySirslySirde-vilish sly' said the Major
staring round the door at Carker. 'So is Bagstock.' But stopping in
the midst of a chuckleand drawing himself up to his full heightthe
Major solemnly exclaimedas he struck himself on the chest'Dombey!
I envy your feelings. God bless you!' and withdrew.

'You must have found the gentleman a great resource' said Carker
following him with his teeth.

'Very great indeed' said Mr Dombey.

'He has friends hereno doubt' pursued Carker. 'I perceivefrom
what he has saidthat you go into society here. Do you know' smiling
horribly'I am so very glad that you go into society!'

Mr Dombey acknowledged this display of interest on the part of his
second in commandby twirling his watch-chainand slightly moving
his head.


'You were formed for society' said Carker. 'Of all the men I know
you are the best adaptedby nature and by positionfor society. Do
you know I have been frequently amazed that you should have held it at
arm's length so long!'

'I have had my reasonsCarker. I have been aloneand indifferent
to it. But you have great social qualifications yourselfand are the
more likely to have been surprised.'

'Oh! I!' returned the otherwith ready self-disparagement. 'It's
quite another matter in the case of a man like me. I don't come into
comparison with you.'

Mr Dombey put his hand to his neckclothsettled his chin in it
coughedand stood looking at his faithful friend and servant for a
few moments in silence.

'I shall have the pleasureCarker' said Mr Dombey at length:
making as if he swallowed something a little too large for his throat:
'to present you to my - to the Major's friends. Highly agreeable
people.'

'Ladies among themI presume?' insinuated the smooth Manager.

'They are all - that is to saythey are both - ladies' replied Mr
Dombey.

'Only two?' smiled Carker.

'They are only two. I have confined my visits to their residence
and have made no other acquaintance here.'

'Sistersperhaps?' quoth Carker.

'Mother and daughter' replied Mr Dombey.

As Mr Dombey dropped his eyesand adjusted his neckcloth again
the smiling face of Mr Carker the Manager became in a momentand
without any stage of transitiontransformed into a most intent and
frowning facescanning his closelyand with an ugly sneer. As Mr
Dombey raised his eyesit changed backno less quicklyto its old
expressionand showed him every gum of which it stood possessed.

'You are very kind' said Carker'I shall be delighted to know
them. Speaking of daughtersI have seen Miss Dombey.'

There was a sudden rush of blood to Mr Dombey's face.

'I took the liberty of waiting on her' said Carker'to inquire if
she could charge me with any little commission. I am not so fortunate
as to be the bearer of any but her - but her dear love.'

Wolf's face that it was thenwith even the hot tongue revealing
itself through the stretched mouthas the eyes encountered Mr
Dombey's!

'What business intelligence is there?' inquired the latter
gentlemanafter a silenceduring which Mr Carker had produced some
memoranda and other papers.

'There is very little' returned Carker. 'Upon the whole we have
not had our usual good fortune of latebut that is of little moment
to you. At Lloyd'sthey give up the Son and Heir for lost. Wellshe


was insuredfrom her keel to her masthead.'

'Carker' said Mr Dombeytaking a chair near him'I cannot say
that young manGayever impressed me favourably

'Nor me' interposed the Manager.

'But I wish' said Mr Dombeywithout heeding the interruption'he
had never gone on board that ship. I wish he had never been sent out.

'It is a pity you didn't say soin good timeis it not?' retorted
Carkercoolly. 'HoweverI think it's all for the best. I really
think it's all for the best. Did I mention that there was something
like a little confidence between Miss Dombey and myself?'

'No' said Mr Dombeysternly.

'I have no doubt' returned Mr Carkerafter an impressive pause
'that wherever Gay ishe is much better where he isthan at home
here. If I wereor could bein your placeI should be satisfied of
that. I am quite satisfied of it myself. Miss Dombey is confiding and
young - perhaps hardly proud enoughfor your daughter - if she have a
fault. Not that that is much thoughI am sure. Will you check these
balances with me?'

Mr Dombey leaned back in his chairinstead of bending over the
papers that were laid before himand looked the Manager steadily in
the face. The Managerwith his eyelids slightly raisedaffected to
be glancing at his figuresand to await the leisure of his principal.
He showed that he affected thisas if from great delicacyand with a
design to spare Mr Dombey's feelings; and the latteras he looked at
himwas cognizant of his intended considerationand felt that but
for itthis confidential Carker would have said a great deal more
which heMr Dombeywas too proud to ask for. It was his way in
businessoften. Little by littleMr Dombey's gaze relaxedand his
attention became diverted to the papers before him; but while busy
with the occupation they afforded himhe frequently stoppedand
looked at Mr Carker again. Whenever he did soMr Carker was
demonstrativeas beforein his delicacyand impressed it on his
great chief more and more.

While they were thus engaged; and under the skilful culture of the
Managerangry thoughts in reference to poor Florence brooded and bred
in Mr Dombey's breastusurping the place of the cold dislike that
generally reigned there; Major Bagstockmuch admired by the old
ladies of Leamingtonand followed by the Nativecarrying the usual
amount of light baggagestraddled along the shady side of the wayto
make a morning call on Mrs Skewton. It being midday when the Major
reached the bower of Cleopatrahe had the good fortune to find his
Princess on her usual sofalanguishing over a cup of coffeewith the
room so darkened and shaded for her more luxurious reposethat
Witherswho was in attendance on herloomed like a phantom page.

'What insupportable creature is thiscoming in?' said Mrs Skewton
'I cannot hear it. Go awaywhoever you are!'

'You have not the heart to banish J. B.Ma'am!' said the Major
halting midwayto remonstratewith his cane over his shoulder.

'Oh it's youis it? On second thoughtsyou may enter' observed
Cleopatra.

The Major entered accordinglyand advancing to the sofa pressed
her charming hand to his lips.


'Sit down' said Cleopatralistlessly waving her fan'a long way
off. Don't come too near mefor I am frightfully faint and sensitive
this morningand you smell of the Sun. You are absolutely tropical.'

'By GeorgeMa'am' said the Major'the time has been when Joseph
Bagstock has been grilled and blistered by the Sun; then time was
when he was forcedMa'aminto such full blowby high hothouse heat
in the West Indiesthat he was known as the Flower. A man never heard
of BagstockMa'amin those days; he heard of the Flower - the Flower
of Ours. The Flower may have fadedmore or lessMa'am' observed the
Majordropping into a much nearer chair than had been indicated by
his cruel Divinity'but it is a tough plant yetand constant as the
evergreen.'

Here the Majorunder cover of the dark roomshut up one eye
rolled his head like a Harlequinandin his great self-satisfaction
perhaps went nearer to the confines of apoplexy than he had ever gone
before.

'Where is Mrs Granger?' inquired Cleopatra of her page.

Withers believed she was in her own room.

'Very well' said Mrs Skewton. 'Go awayand shut the door. I am
engaged.'

As Withers disappearedMrs Skewton turned her head languidly
towards the Majorwithout otherwise movingand asked him how his
friend was.

'DombeyMa'am' returned the Majorwith a facetious gurgling in
his throat'is as well as a man in his condition can be. His
condition is a desperate oneMa'am. He is touchedis Dombey!
Touched!' cried the Major. 'He is bayonetted through the body.'

Cleopatra cast a sharp look at the Majorthat contrasted forcibly
with the affected drawl in which she presently said:

'Major Bagstockalthough I know but little of the world- nor can
I really regret my experiencefor I fear it is a false placefull of
withering conventionalities: where Nature is but little regardedand
where the music of the heartand the gushing of the souland all
that sort of thingwhich is so truly poeticalis seldom heard- I
cannot misunderstand your meaning. There is an allusion to Edith - to
my extremely dear child' said Mrs Skewtontracing the outline of her
eyebrows with her forefinger'in your wordsto which the tenderest
of chords vibrates excessively.'

'BluntnessMa'am' returned the Major'has ever been the
characteristic of the Bagstock breed. You are right. Joe admits it.'

'And that allusion' pursued Cleopatra'would involve one of the
most - if not positively the most - touchingand thrillingand
sacred emotions of which our sadly-fallen nature is susceptibleI
conceive.'

The Major laid his hand upon his lipsand wafted a kiss to
Cleopatraas if to identify the emotion in question.

'I feel that I am weak. I feel that I am wanting in that energy
which should sustain a Mama: not to say a parent: on such a subject'
said Mrs Skewtontrimming her lips with the laced edge of her
pocket-handkerchief; 'but I can hardly approach a topic so excessively


momentous to my dearest Edith without a feeling of faintness.
Neverthelessbad manas you have boldly remarked upon itand as it
has occasioned me great anguish:' Mrs Skewton touched her left side
with her fan: 'I will not shrink from my duty.'

The Majorunder cover of the dimnessswelledand swelledand
rolled his purple face aboutand winked his lobster eyeuntil he
fell into a fit of wheezingwhich obliged him to rise and take a turn
or two about the roombefore his fair friend could proceed.

'Mr Dombey' said Mrs Skewtonwhen she at length resumed'was
obliging enoughnow many weeks agoto do us the honour of visiting
us here; in companymy dear Majorwith yourself. I acknowledge - let
me be open - that it is my failing to be the creature of impulseand
to wear my heart as it wereoutside. I know my failing full well. My
enemy cannot know it better. But I am not penitent; I would rather not
be frozen by the heartless worldand am content to bear this
imputation justly.'

Mrs Skewton arranged her tuckerpinched her wiry throat to give it
a soft surfaceand went onwith great complacency.

'It gave me (my dearest Edith tooI am sure) infinite pleasure to
receive Mr Dombey. As a friend of yoursmy dear Majorwe were
naturally disposed to be prepossessed in his favour; and I fancied
that I observed an amount of Heart in Mr Dombeythat was excessively
refreshing.'

'There is devilish little heart in Dombey nowMa'am' said the
Major.

'Wretched man!' cried Mrs Skewtonlooking at him languidly'pray
be silent.'

'J. B. is dumbMa'am' said the Major.

'Mr Dombey' pursued Cleopatrasmoothing the rosy hue upon her
cheeks'accordingly repeated his visit; and possibly finding some
attraction in the simplicity and primitiveness of our tastes - for
there is always a charm in nature - it is so very sweet - became one
of our little circle every evening. Little did I think of the awful
responsibility into which I plunged when I encouraged Mr Dombey - to


'To beat up these quartersMa'am' suggested Major Bagstock.

'Coarse person! 'said Mrs Skewton'you anticipate my meaning
though in odious language.

Here Mrs Skewton rested her elbow on the little table at her side
and suffering her wrist to droop in what she considered a graceful and
becoming mannerdangled her fan to and froand lazily admired her
hand while speaking.

'The agony I have endured' she said mincingly'as the truth has
by degrees dawned upon mehas been too exceedingly terrific to dilate
upon. My whole existence is bound up in my sweetest Edith; and to see
her change from day to day - my beautiful petwho has positively
garnered up her heart since the death of that most delightful
creatureGranger - is the most affecting thing in the world.'

Mrs Skewton's world was not a very trying oneif one might judge
of it by the influence of its most affecting circumstance upon her;
but this by the way.


'Edith' simpered Mrs Skewton'who is the perfect pearl of my
lifeis said to resemble me. I believe we are alike.'

'There is one man in the world who never will admit that anyone
resembles youMa'am' said the Major; 'and that man's name is Old Joe
Bagstock.'

Cleopatra made as if she would brain the flatterer with her fan
but relentingsmiled upon him and proceeded:

'If my charming girl inherits any advantages from mewicked one!':
the Major was the wicked one: 'she inherits also my foolish nature.
She has great force of character - mine has been said to be immense
though I don't believe it - but once movedshe is susceptible and
sensitive to the last extent. What are my feelings when I see her
pining! They destroy me.

The Major advancing his double chinand pursing up his blue lips
into a soothing expressionaffected the profoundest sympathy.

'The confidence' said Mrs Skewton'that has subsisted between us

-the free development of souland openness of sentiment - is
touching to think of. We have been more like sisters than Mama and
child.'
'J. B.'s own sentiment' observed the Major'expressed by J. B.
fifty thousand times!'

'Do not interruptrude man!' said Cleopatra. 'What are my
feelingsthenwhen I find that there is one subject avoided by us!
That there is a what's-his-name - a gulf - opened between us. That my
own artless Edith is changed to me! They are of the most poignant
descriptionof course.'

The Major left his chairand took one nearer to the little table.

'From day to day I see thismy dear Major' proceeded Mrs Skewton.
'From day to day I feel this. From hour to hour I reproach myself for
that excess of faith and trustfulness which has led to such
distressing consequences; and almost from minute to minuteI hope
that Mr Dombey may explain himselfand relieve the torture I undergo
which is extremely wearing. But nothing happensmy dear Major; I am
the slave of remorse - take care of the coffee-cup: you are so very
awkward - my darling Edith is an altered being; and I really don't see
what is to be doneor what good creature I can advise with.'

Major Bagstockencouraged perhaps by the softened and confidential
tone into which Mrs Skewtonafter several times lapsing into it for a
momentseemed now to have subsided for goodstretched out his hand
across the little tableand said with a leer

'Advise with JoeMa'am.'

'Thenyou aggravating monster' said Cleopatragiving one hand to
the Majorand tapping his knuckles with her fanwhich she held in
the other: 'why don't you talk to me? you know what I mean. Why don't
you tell me something to the purpose?'

The Major laughedand kissed the hand she had bestowed upon him
and laughed again immensely.

'Is there as much Heart in Mr Dombey as I gave him credit for?'
languished Cleopatra tenderly. 'Do you think he is in earnestmy dear
Major? Would you recommend his being spoken toor his being left


alone? Now tell melike a dear manwhat would you advise.'

'Shall we marry him to Edith GrangerMa'am?' chuckled the Major
hoarsely.

'Mysterious creature!' returned Cleopatrabringing her fan to bear
upon the Major's nose. 'How can we marry him?'

'Shall we marry him to Edith GrangerMa'amI say?' chuckled the
Major again.

Mrs Skewton returned no answer in wordsbut smiled upon the Major
with so much archness and vivacitythat that gallant officer
considering himself challengedwould have imprinted a kiss on her
exceedingly red lipsbut for her interposing the fan with a very
winning and juvenile dexterity. It might have been in modesty; it
might have been in apprehension of some danger to their bloom.

'DombeyMa'am' said the Major'is a great catch.'

'Ohmercenary wretch!' cried Cleopatrawith a little shriek'I
am shocked.'

'And DombeyMa'am' pursued the Majorthrusting forward his head
and distending his eyes'is in earnest. Joseph says it; Bagstock
knows it; J. B. keeps him to the mark. Leave Dombey to himselfMa'am.
Dombey is safeMa'am. Do as you have done; do no more; and trust to

J. B. for the end.'
'You really think somy dear Major?' returned Cleopatrawho had
eyed him very cautiouslyand very searchinglyin spite of her
listless bearing.

'Sure of itMa'am' rejoined the Major. 'Cleopatra the peerless
and her Antony Bagstockwill often speak of thistriumphantlywhen
sharing the elegance and wealth of Edith Dombey's establishment.
Dombey's right-hand manMa'am' said the Majorstopping abruptly in
a chuckleand becoming serious'has arrived.'

'This morning?' said Cleopatra.

'This morningMa'am' returned the Major. 'And Dombey's anxiety
for his arrivalMa'amis to be referred - take J. B.'s word for
this; for Joe is devilish sly' - the Major tapped his noseand
screwed up one of his eyes tight: which did not enhance his native
beauty - 'to his desire that what is in the wind should become known
to him' without Dombey's telling and consulting him. For Dombey is as
proudMa'am' said the Major'as Lucifer.'

'A charming quality' lisped Mrs Skewton; 'reminding one of dearest
Edith.'

'WellMa'am' said the Major. 'I have thrown out hints already
and the right-hand man understands 'em; and I'll throw out more
before the day is done. Dombey projected this morning a ride to
Warwick Castleand to Kenilworthto-morrowto be preceded by a
breakfast with us. I undertook the delivery of this invitation. Will
you honour us so farMa'am?' said the Majorswelling with shortness
of breath and slynessas he produced a noteaddressed to the
Honourable Mrs Skewtonby favour of Major Bagstockwherein hers ever
faithfullyPaul Dombeybesought her and her amiable and accomplished
daughter to consent to the proposed excursion; and in a postscript
unto whichthe same ever faithfully Paul Dombey entreated to be
recalled to the remembrance of Mrs Granger.


'Hush!' said Cleopatrasuddenly'Edith!'

The loving mother can scarcely be described as resuming her insipid
and affected air when she made this exclamation; for she had never
cast it off; nor was it likely that she ever would or couldin any
other place than in the grave. But hurriedly dismissing whatever
shadow of earnestnessor faint confession of a purposelaudable or
wickedthat her faceor voiceor manner: hadfor the moment
betrayedshe lounged upon the couchher most insipid and most
languid self againas Edith entered the room.

Edithso beautiful and statelybut so cold and so repelling. Who
slightly acknowledging the presence of Major Bagstockand directing a
keen glance at her motherdrew back the from a windowand sat down
therelooking out.

'My dearest Edith' said Mrs Skewton'where on earth have you
been? I have wanted youmy lovemost sadly.'

'You said you were engagedand I stayed away' she answered
without turning her head.

'It was cruel to Old JoeMa'am' said the Major in his gallantry.

'It was very cruelI know' she saidstill looking out - and said
with such calm disdainthat the Major was discomfitedand could
think of nothing in reply.

'Major Bagstockmy darling Edith' drawled her mother'who is
generally the most useless and disagreeable creature in the world: as
you know - '

'It is surely not worthwhileMama' said Edithlooking round'to
observe these forms of speech. We are quite alone. We know each
other.'

The quiet scorn that sat upon her handsome face - a scorn that
evidently lighted on herselfno less than them - was so intense and
deepthat her mother's simperfor the instantthough of a hardy
constitutiondrooped before it.

'My darling girl' she began again.

'Not woman yet?' said Edithwith a smile.

'How very odd you are to-daymy dear! Pray let me saymy love
that Major Bagstock has brought the kindest of notes from Mr Dombey
proposing that we should breakfast with him to-morrowand ride to
Warwick and Kenilworth. Will you goEdith?'

'Will I go!' she repeatedturning very redand breathing quickly
as she looked round at her mother.

'I knew you wouldmy ownobserved the latter carelessly. 'It is
as you sayquite a form to ask. Here is Mr Dombey's letterEdith.'

'Thank you. I have no desire to read it' was her answer.

'Then perhaps I had better answer it myself' said Mrs Skewton
'though I had thought of asking you to be my secretarydarling.' As
Edith made no movementand no answerMrs Skewton begged the Major to
wheel her little table nearerand to set open the desk it contained
and to take out pen and paper for her; all which congenial offices of


gallantry the Major dischargedwith much submission and devotion.

'Your regardsEdithmy dear?' said Mrs Skewtonpausingpen in
handat the postscript.

'What you willMama' she answeredwithout turning her headand
with supreme indifference.

Mrs Skewton wrote what she wouldwithout seeking for any more
explicit directionsand handed her letter to the Majorwho receiving
it as a precious chargemade a show of laying it near his heartbut
was fain to put it in the pocket of his pantaloons on account of the
insecurity of his waistcoat The Major then took a very polished and
chivalrous farewell of both ladieswhich the elder one acknowledged
in her usual mannerwhile the youngersitting with her face
addressed to the windowbent her head so slightly that it would have
been a greater compliment to the Major to have made no sign at all
and to have left him to infer that he had not been heard or thought
of.

'As to alteration in herSir' mused the Major on his way back; on
which expedition - the afternoon being sunny and hot - he ordered the
Native and the light baggage to the frontand walked in the shadow of
that expatriated prince: 'as to alterationSirand piningand so
forththat won't go down with Joseph BagstockNone of thatSir. It
won't do here. But as to there being something of a division between
'em - or a gulf as the mother calls it - dammeSirthat seems true
enough. And it's odd enough! WellSir!' panted the Major'Edith
Granger and Dombey are well matched; let 'em fight it out! Bagstock
backs the winner!'

The Majorby saying these latter words aloudin the vigour of his
thoughtscaused the unhappy Native to stopand turn roundin the
belief that he was personally addressed. Exasperated to the last
degree by this act of insubordinationthe Major (though he was
swelling with enjoyment of his own humourat the moment of its
occurrence instantly thrust his cane among the Native's ribsand
continued to stir him upat short intervalsall the way to the
hotel.

Nor was the Major less exasperated as he dressed for dinnerduring
which operation the dark servant underwent the pelting of a shower of
miscellaneous objectsvarying in size from a boot to a hairbrushand
including everything that came within his master's reach. For the
Major plumed himself on having the Native in a perfect state of drill
and visited the least departure from strict discipline with this kind
of fatigue duty. Add to thisthat he maintained the Native about his
person as a counter-irritant against the goutand all other
vexationsmental as well as bodily; and the Native would appear to
have earned his pay - which was not large.

At lengththe Major having disposed of all the missiles that were
convenient to his handand having called the Native so many new names
as must have given him great occasion to marvel at the resources of
the English languagesubmitted to have his cravat put on; and being
dressedand finding himself in a brisk flow of spirits after this
exercisewent downstairs to enliven 'Dombey' and his right-hand man.

Dombey was not yet in the roombut the right-hand man was there
and his dental treasures wereas usualready for the Major.

'WellSir!' said the Major. 'How have you passed the time since I
had the happiness of meeting you? Have you walked at all?'


'A saunter of barely half an hour's duration' returned Carker. 'We
have been so much occupied.'

'Businesseh?' said the Major.

'A variety of little matters necessary to be gone through' replied
Carker. 'But do you know - this is quite unusual with meeducated in
a distrustful schooland who am not generally disposed to be
communicative' he saidbreaking offand speaking in a charming tone
of frankness - 'but I feel quite confidential with youMajor
Bagstock.'

'You do me honourSir' returned the Major. 'You may be.'

'Do you knowthen' pursued Carker'that I have not found my
friend - our friendI ought rather to call him - '

'Meaning DombeySir?' cried the Major. 'You see meMr Carker
standing here! J. B.?'

He was puffy enough to seeand blue enough; and Mr Carker
intimated the he had that pleasure.

'Then you see a manSirwho would go through fire and water to
serve Dombey' returned Major Bagstock.

Mr Carker smiledand said he was sure of it. 'Do you knowMajor'
he proceeded: 'to resume where I left off' that I have not found our
friend so attentive to business todayas usual?'

'No?' observed the delighted Major.

'I have found him a little abstractedand with his attention
disposed to wander' said Carker.

'By JoveSir' cried the Major'there's a lady in the case.'

'IndeedI begin to believe there really is' returned Carker; 'I
thought you might be jesting when you seemed to hint at it; for I know
you military men -

The Major gave the horse's coughand shook his head and shoulders
as much as to say'Well! we are gay dogsthere's no denying.' He
then seized Mr Carker by the button-holeand with starting eyes
whispered in his earthat she was a woman of extraordinary charms
Sir. That she was a young widowSir. That she was of a fine family
Sir. That Dombey was over head and ears in love with herSirand
that it would be a good match on both sides; for she had beauty
bloodand talentand Dombey had fortune; and what more could any
couple have? Hearing Mr Dombey's footsteps withoutthe Major cut
himself short by sayingthat Mr Carker would see her tomorrow
morningand would judge for himself; and between his mental
excitementand the exertion of saying all this in wheezy whispers
the Major sat gurgling in the throat and watering at the eyesuntil
dinner was ready.

The Majorlike some other noble animalsexhibited himself to
great advantage at feeding-time. On this occasionhe shone
resplendent at one end of the tablesupported by the milder lustre of
Mr Dombey at the other; while Carker on one side lent his ray to
either lightor suffered it to merge into bothas occasion arose.

During the first course or twothe Major was usually grave; for
the Nativein obedience to general orderssecretly issuedcollected


every sauce and cruet round himand gave him a great deal to doin
taking out the stoppersand mixing up the contents in his plate.
Besides whichthe Native had private zests and flavours on a
side-tablewith which the Major daily scorched himself; to say
nothing of strange machines out of which he spirited unknown liquids
into the Major's drink. But on this occasionMajor Bagstockeven
amidst these many occupationsfound time to be social; and his
sociality consisted in excessive slyness for the behoof of Mr Carker
and the betrayal of Mr Dombey's state of mind.

'Dombey' said the Major'you don't eat; what's the matter?'

'Thank you' returned the gentleman'I am doing very well; I have
no great appetite today.'

'WhyDombeywhat's become of it?' asked the Major. 'Where's it
gone? You haven't left it with our friendsI'll swearfor I can
answer for their having none to-day at luncheon. I can answer for one
of 'emat least: I won't say which.'

Then the Major winked at Carkerand became so frightfully sly
that his dark attendant was obliged to pat him on the backwithout
ordersor he would probably have disappeared under the table.

In a later stage of the dinner: that is to saywhen the Native
stood at the Major's elbow ready to serve the first bottle of
champagne: the Major became still slyer.

'Fill this to the brimyou scoundrel' said the Majorholding up
his glass. 'Fill Mr Carker's to the brim too. And Mr Dombey's too. By
Gadgentlemen' said the Majorwinking at his new friendwhile Mr
Dombey looked into his plate with a conscious air'we'll consecrate
this glass of wine to a Divinity whom Joe is proud to knowand at a
distance humbly and reverently to admire. Edith' said the Major'is
her name; angelic Edith!'

'To angelic Edith!' cried the smiling Carker.

'Edithby all means' said Mr Dombey.

The entrance of the waiters with new dishes caused the Major to be
slyer yetbut in a more serious vein. 'For though among ourselves
Joe Bagstock mingles jest and earnest on this subjectSir' said the
Majorlaying his finger on his lipsand speaking half apart to
Carker'he holds that name too sacred to be made the property of
these fellowsor of any fellows. Not a word!Sir' while they are
here!'

This was respectful and becoming on the Major's partand Mr Dombey
plainly felt it so. Although embarrassed in his own frigid wayby the
Major's allusionsMr Dombey had no objection to such rallyingit was
clearbut rather courted it. Perhaps the Major had been pretty near
the truthwhen he had divined that morning that the great man who was
too haughty formally to consult withor confide in his prime
ministeron such a matteryet wished him to be fully possessed of
it. Let this be how it mayhe often glanced at Mr Carker while the
Major plied his light artilleryand seemed watchful of its effect
upon him.

But the Majorhaving secured an attentive listenerand a smiler
who had not his match in all the world - 'in shorta devilish
intelligent and able fellow' as he often afterwards declared - was
not going to let him off with a little slyness personal to Mr Dombey.
Thereforeon the removal of the cloththe Major developed himself as


a choice spirit in the broader and more comprehensive range of
narrating regimental storiesand cracking regimental jokeswhich he
did with such prodigal exuberancethat Carker was (or feigned to be)
quite exhausted with laughter and admiration: while Mr Dombey looked
on over his starched cravatlike the Major's proprietoror like a
stately showman who was glad to see his bear dancing well.

When the Major was too hoarse with meat and drinkand the display
of his social powersto render himself intelligible any longerthey
adjourned to coffee. After whichthe Major inquired of Mr Carker the
Managerwith little apparent hope of an answer in the affirmativeif
he played picquet.

'YesI play picquet a little' said Mr Carker.

'Backgammonperhaps?' observed the Majorhesitating.

'YesI play backgammon a little too' replied the man of teeth.

'Carker plays at all gamesI believe' said Mr Dombeylaying
himself on a sofa like a man of woodwithout a hinge or a joint in
him; 'and plays them well.'

In soothhe played the two in questionto such perfectionthat
the Major was astonishedand asked himat randomif he played
chess.

'YesI play chess a little' answered Carker. 'I have sometimes
playedand won a game - it's a mere trick - without seeing the
board.'

'By GadSir!' said the Majorstaring'you are a contrast to
Dombeywho plays nothing.'

'Oh! He!' returned the Manager. 'He has never had occasion to
acquire such little arts. To men like methey are sometimes useful.
As at presentMajor Bagstockwhen they enable me to take a hand with
you.'

It might be only the false mouthso smooth and wide; and yet there
seemed to lurk beneath the humility and subserviency of this short
speecha something like a snarl; andfor a momentone might have
thought that the white teeth were prone to bite the hand they fawned
upon. But the Major thought nothing about it; and Mr Dombey lay
meditating with his eyes half shutduring the whole of the play
which lasted until bed-time.

By that timeMr Carkerthough the winnerhad mounted high into
the Major's good opinioninsomuch that when he left the Major at his
own room before going to bedthe Major as a special attentionsent
the Native - who always rested on a mattress spread upon the ground at
his master's door - along the galleryto light him to his room in
state.

There was a faint blur on the surface of the mirror in Mr Carker's
chamberand its reflection wasperhapsa false one. But it showed
that nightthe image of a manwho sawin his fancya crowd of
people slumbering on the ground at his feetlike the poor Native at
his master's door: who picked his way among them: looking down
maliciously enough: but trod upon no upturned face - as yet.

CHAPTER 27.


Deeper Shadows

Mr Carker the Manager rose with the larkand went outwalking in
the summer day. His meditations - and he meditated with contracted
brows while he strolled along - hardly seemed to soar as high as the
larkor to mount in that direction; rather they kept close to their
nest upon the earthand looked aboutamong the dust and worms. But
there was not a bird in the airsinging unseenfarther beyond the
reach of human eye than Mr Carker's thoughts. He had his face so
perfectly under controlthat few could say morein distinct terms
of its expressionthan that it smiled or that it pondered. It
pondered nowintently. As the lark rose higherhe sank deeper in
thought. As the lark poured out her melody clearer and strongerhe
fell into a graver and profounder silence. At lengthwhen the lark
came headlong downwith an accumulating stream of songand dropped
among the green wheat near himrippling in the breath of the morning
like a riverhe sprang up from his reverieand looked round with a
sudden smileas courteous and as soft as if he had had numerous
observers to propitiate; nor did he relapseafter being thus
awakened; but clearing his facelike one who bethought himself that
it might otherwise wrinkle and tell taleswent smiling onas if for
practice.

Perhaps with an eye to first impressionsMr Carker was very
carefully and trimly dressedthat morning. Though always somewhat
formalin his dressin imitation of the great man whom he servedhe
stopped short of the extent of Mr Dombey's stiffness: at once perhaps
because he knew it to be ludicrousand because in doing so he found
another means of expressing his sense of the difference and distance
between them. Some people quoted him indeedin this respectas a
pointed commentaryand not a flattering oneon his icy patron - but
the world is prone to misconstructionand Mr Carker was not
accountable for its bad propensity.

Clean and florid: with his light complexionfading as it werein
the sunand his dainty step enhancing the softness of the turf: Mr
Carker the Manager strolled about meadowsand green lanesand glided
among avenues of treesuntil it was time to return to breakfast.
Taking a nearer way backMr Carker pursued itairing his teethand
said aloud as he did so'Now to see the second Mrs Dombey!'

He had strolled beyond the townand re-entered it by a pleasant
walkwhere there was a deep shade of leafy treesand where there
were a few benches here and there for those who chose to rest. It not
being a place of general resort at any hourand wearing at that time
of the still morning the air of being quite deserted and retiredMr
Carker had itor thought he had itall to himself. Sowith the whim
of an idle manto whom there yet remained twenty minutes for reaching
a destination easily able in tenMr Carker threaded the great boles
of the treesand went passing in and outbefore this one and behind
thatweaving a chain of footsteps on the dewy ground.

But he found he was mistaken in supposing there was no one in the
grovefor as he softly rounded the trunk of one large treeon which
the obdurate bark was knotted and overlapped like the hide of a
rhinoceros or some kindred monster of the ancient days before the
Floodhe saw an unexpected figure sitting on a bench near at hand
about whichin another momenthe would have wound the chain he was
making.

It was that of a ladyelegantly dressed and very handsomewhose
dark proud eyes were fixed upon the groundand in whom some passion


or struggle was raging. For as she sat looking downshe held a corner
of her under lip within her mouthher bosom heavedher nostril
quiveredher head trembledindignant tears were on her cheekand
her foot was set upon the moss as though she would have crushed it
into nothing. And yet almost the self-same glance that showed him
thisshowed him the self-same lady rising with a scornful air of
weariness and lassitudeand turning away with nothing expressed in
face or figure but careless beauty and imperious disdain.

A withered and very ugly old womandressed not so much like a
gipsy as like any of that medley race of vagabonds who tramp about the
countrybeggingand stealingand tinkeringand weaving rushesby
turnsor all togetherhad been observing the ladytoo; foras she
rosethis second figure strangely confronting the firstscrambled up
from the ground - out of itit almost appeared - and stood in the
way.

'Let me tell your fortunemy pretty lady' said the old woman
munching with her jawsas if the Death's Head beneath her yellow skin
were impatient to get out.

'I can tell it for myself' was the reply.

'Ayaypretty lady; but not right. You didn't tell it right when
you were sitting there. I see you! Give me a piece of silverpretty
ladyand I'll tell your fortune true. There's richespretty ladyin
your face.'

'I know' returned the ladypassing her with a dark smileand a
proud step. 'I knew it before.

'What! You won't give me nothing?' cried the old woman. 'You won't
give me nothing to tell your fortunepretty lady? How much will you
give me to tell itthen? Give me somethingor I'll call it after
you!' croaked the old womanpassionately.

Mr Carkerwhom the lady was about to pass closeslinking against
his tree as she crossed to gain the pathadvanced so as to meet her
and pulling off his hat as she went bybade the old woman hold her
peace. The lady acknowledged his interference with an inclination of
the headand went her way.

'You give me something thenor I'll call it after her!' screamed
the old womanthrowing up her armsand pressing forward against his
outstretched hand. 'Or come' she addeddropping her voice suddenly
looking at him earnestlyand seeming in a moment to forget the object
of her wrath'give me somethingor I'll call it after you! '

'After meold lady!' returned the Managerputting his hand in his
pocket.

'Yes' said the womansteadfast in her scrutinyand holding out
her shrivelled hand. 'I know!'

'What do you know?' demanded Carkerthrowing her a shilling. 'Do
you know who the handsome lady is?'

Munching like that sailor's wife of yorewho had chestnuts In her
lapand scowling like the witch who asked for some in vainthe old
woman picked the shilling upand going backwardslike a crabor
like a heap of crabs: for her alternately expanding and contracting
hands might have represented two of that speciesand her creeping
facesome half-a-dozen more: crouched on the veinous root of an old
treepulled out a short black pipe from within the crown of her


bonnetlighted it with a matchand smoked in silencelooking
fixedly at her questioner.

Mr Carker laughedand turned upon his heel.

'Good!' said the old woman. 'One child deadand one child living:
one wife deadand one wife coming. Go and meet her!'

In spite of himselfthe Manager looked round againand stopped.
The old womanwho had not removed her pipeand was munching and
mumbling while she smokedas if in conversation with an invisible
familiarpointed with her finger in the direction he was goingand
laughed.

'What was that you saidBeldamite?' he demanded.

The woman mumbledand chatteredand smokedand still pointed
before him; but remained silent Muttering a farewell that was not
complimentaryMr Carker pursued his way; but as he turned out of that
placeand looked over his shoulder at the root of the old treehe
could yet see the finger pointing before himand thought he heard the
woman screaming'Go and meet her!'

Preparations for a choice repast were completedhe foundat the
hotel; and Mr Dombeyand the Majorand the breakfastwere awaiting
the ladies. Individual constitution has much to do with the
development of such factsno doubt; but in this caseappetite
carried it hollow over the tender passion; Mr Dombey being very cool
and collectedand the Major fretting and fuming in a state of violent
heat and irritation. At length the door was thrown open by the Native
andafter a pauseoccupied by her languishing along the gallerya
very bloomingbut not very youthful ladyappeared.

'My dear Mr Dombey' said the lady'I am afraid we are latebut
Edith has been out already looking for a favourable point of view for
a sketchand kept me waiting for her. Falsest of Majors' giving him
her little finger'how do you do?'

'Mrs Skewton' said Mr Dombey'let me gratify my friend Carker:'
Mr Dombey unconsciously emphasised the word friendas saying "no
really; I do allow him to take credit for that distinction:" 'by
presenting him to you. You have heard me mention Mr Carker.'

'I am charmedI am sure' said Mrs Skewtongraciously.

Mr Carker was charmedof course. Would he have been more charmed
on Mr Dombey's behalfif Mrs Skewton had been (as he at first
supposed her) the Edith whom they had toasted overnight?

'Whywherefor Heaven's sakeis Edith?' exclaimed Mrs Skewton
looking round. 'Still at the doorgiving Withers orders about the
mounting of those drawings! My dear Mr Dombeywill you have the
kindness -

Mr Dombey was already gone to seek her. Next moment he returned
bearing on his arm the same elegantly dressed and very handsome lady
whom Mr Carker had encountered underneath the trees.

'Carker - ' began Mr Dombey. But their recognition of each other
was so manifestthat Mr Dombey stopped surprised.

'I am obliged to the gentleman' said Edithwith a stately bend
'for sparing me some annoyance from an importunate beggar just now.'


'I am obliged to my good fortune' said Mr Carkerbowing low'for
the opportunity of rendering so slight a service to one whose servant
I am proud to be.'

As her eye rested on him for an instantand then lighted on the
groundhe saw in its bright and searching glance a suspicion that he
had not come up at the moment of his interferencebut had secretly
observed her sooner. As he saw thatshe saw in his eye that her
distrust was not without foundation.

'Really' cried Mrs Skewtonwho had taken this opportunity of
inspecting Mr Carker through her glassand satisfying herself (as she
lisped audibly to the Major) that he was all heart; 'really nowthis
is one of the most enchanting coincidences that I ever heard of. The
idea! My dearest Ediththere is such an obvious destiny in itthat
really one might almost be induced to cross one's arms upon one's
frockand saylike those wicked Turksthere is no What's-his-name
but Thingummyand What-you-may-call-it is his prophet!'

Edith designed no revision of this extraordinary quotation from the
Koranbut Mr Dombey felt it necessary to offer a few polite remarks.

'It gives me great pleasure' said Mr Dombeywith cumbrous
gallantry'that a gentleman so nearly connected with myself as Carker
isshould have had the honour and happiness of rendering the least
assistance to Mrs Granger.' Mr Dombey bowed to her. 'But it gives me
some painand it occasions me to be really envious of Carker;' he
unconsciously laid stress on these wordsas sensible that they must
appear to involve a very surprising proposition; 'envious of Carker
that I had not that honour and that happiness myself.' Mr Dombey bowed
again. Edithsaving for a curl of her lipwas motionless.

'By the LordSir' cried the Majorbursting into speech at sight
of the waiterwho was come to announce breakfast'it's an
extraordinary thing to me that no one can have the honour and
happiness of shooting all such beggars through the head without being
brought to book for it. But here's an arm for Mrs Granger if she'll do

J. B. the honour to accept it; and the greatest service Joe can render
youMa'amjust nowisto lead you into table!'
With thisthe Major gave his arm to Edith; Mr Dombey led the way
with Mrs Skewton; Mrs Carker went lastsmiling on the party.

'I am quite rejoicedMr Carker' said the lady-motherat
breakfastafter another approving survey of him through her glass
'that you have timed your visit so happilyas to go with us to-day.
It is the most enchanting expedition!'

'Any expedition would be enchanting in such society' returned
Carker; 'but I believe it isin itselffull of interest.'

'Oh!' cried Mrs Skewtonwith a faded little scream of rapture
'the Castle is charming! - associations of the Middle Ages - and all
that - which is so truly exquisite. Don't you dote upon the Middle
AgesMr Carker?'

'Very muchindeed' said Mr Carker.

'Such charming times!' cried Cleopatra. 'So full of faith! So
vigorous and forcible! So picturesque! So perfectly removed from
commonplace! Oh dear! If they would only leave us a little more of the
poetry of existence in these terrible days!'

Mrs Skewton was looking sharp after Mr Dombey all the time she said


thiswho was looking at Edith: who was listeningbut who never
lifted up her eyes.

'We are dreadfully realMr Carker' said Mrs Skewton; 'are we
not?'

Few people had less reason to complain of their reality than
Cleopatrawho had as much that was false about her as could well go
to the composition of anybody with a real individual existence. But Mr
Carker commiserated our reality neverthelessand agreed that we were
very hardly used in that regard.

'Pictures at the Castlequite divine!' said Cleopatra. 'I hope you
dote upon pictures?'

'I assure youMrs Skewton' said Mr Dombeywith solemn
encouragement of his Manager'that Carker has a very good taste for
pictures; quite a natural power of appreciating them. He is a very
creditable artist himself. He will be delightedI am surewith Mrs
Granger's taste and skill.'

'DammeSir!' cried Major Bagstock'my opinion isthat you're the
admirable Carkerand can do anything.'

'Oh!' smiled Carkerwith humility'you are much too sanguine
Major Bagstock. I can do very little. But Mr Dombey is so generous in
his estimation of any trivial accomplishment a man like myself may
find it almost necessary to acquireand to whichin his very
different spherehe is far superiorthat - ' Mr Carker shrugged his
shouldersdeprecating further praiseand said no more.

All this timeEdith never raised her eyesunless to glance
towards her mother when that lady's fervent spirit shone forth in
words. But as Carker ceasedshe looked at Mr Dombey for a moment. For
a moment only; but with a transient gleam of scornful wonder on her
facenot lost on one observerwho was smiling round the board.

Mr Dombey caught the dark eyelash in its descentand took the
opportunity of arresting it.

'You have been to Warwick oftenunfortunately?' said Mr Dombey.

'Several times.'

'The visit will be tedious to youI am afraid.'

'Oh no; not at all.'

'Ah! You are like your cousin Feenixmy dearest Edith' said Mrs
Skewton. 'He has been to Warwick Castle fifty timesif he has been
there once; yet if he came to Leamington to-morrow - I wish he would
dear angel! - he would make his fifty-second visit next day.'

'We are all enthusiasticare we notMama?' said Edithwith a
cold smile.

'Too much sofor our peaceperhapsmy dear' returned her
mother; 'but we won't complain. Our own emotions are our recompense.
Ifas your cousin Feenix saysthe sword wears out the
what's-its-name

'The scabbardperhaps' said Edith.

'Exactly - a little too fastit is because it is bright and


glowingyou knowmy dearest love.'

Mrs Skewton heaved a gentle sighsupposed to cast a shadow on the
surface of that dagger of lathwhereof her susceptible bosom was the
sheath: and leaning her head on one sidein the Cleopatra manner
looked with pensive affection on her darling child.

Edith had turned her face towards Mr Dombey when he first addressed
herand had remained in that attitudewhile speaking to her mother
and while her mother spoke to heras though offering him her
attentionif he had anything more to say. There was something in the
manner of this simple courtesy: almost defiantand giving it the
character of being rendered on compulsionor as a matter of traffic
to which she was a reluctant party again not lost upon that same
observer who was smiling round the board. It set him thinking of her
as he had first seen herwhen she had believed herself to be alone
among the trees.

Mr Dombey having nothing else to sayproposed - the breakfast
being now finishedand the Major gorgedlike any Boa Constrictor that
they should start. A barouche being in waitingaccording to the
orders of that gentlemanthe two ladiesthe Major and himselftook
their seats in it; the Native and the wan page mounted the boxMr
Towlinson being left behind; and Mr Carkeron horsebackbrought up
the rear. Mr Carker cantered behind the carriage. at the distance of a
hundred yards or soand watched itduring all the rideas if he
were a catindeedand its four occupantsmice. Whether he looked to
one side of the roador to the other - over distant landscapewith
its smooth undulationswind-millscorngrassbean fields
wild-flowersfarm-yardshayricksand the spire among the wood - or
upwards in the sunny airwhere butterflies were sporting round his
headand birds were pouring out their songs - or downwardwhere the
shadows of the branches interlacedand made a trembling carpet on the
road - or onwardwhere the overhanging trees formed aisles and
archesdim with the softened light that steeped through leaves - one
corner of his eye was ever on the formal head of Mr Dombeyaddressed
towards himand the feather in the bonnetdrooping so neglectfully
and scornfully between them; much as he had seen the haughty eyelids
droop; not least sowhen the face met that now fronting it. Onceand
once onlydid his wary glance release these objects; and that was
when a leap over a low hedgeand a gallop across a fieldenabled him
to anticipate the carriage coming by the roadand to be standing
readyat the journey's endto hand the ladies out. Thenand but
thenhe met her glance for an instant in her first surprise; but when
he touched herin alightingwith his soft white handit overlooked
him altogether as before.

Mrs Skewton was bent on taking charge of Mr Carker herselfand
showing him the beauties of the Castle. She was determined to have his
armand the Major's too. It would do that incorrigible creature: who
was the most barbarous infidel in point of poetry: good to be in such
company. This chance arrangement left Mr Dombey at liberty to escort
Edith: which he did: stalking before them through the apartments with
a gentlemanly solemnity.

'Those darling byegone timesMr Carker' said Cleopatra'with
their delicious fortressesand their dear old dungeonsand their
delightful places of tortureand their romantic vengeancesand their
picturesque assaults and siegesand everything that makes life truly
charming! How dreadfully we have degenerated!'

'Yeswe have fallen off deplorably' said Mr Carker.

The peculiarity of their conversation wasthat Mrs Skewtonin


spite of her ecstasiesand Mr Carkerin spite of his urbanitywere
both intent on watching Mr Dombey and Edith. With all their
conversational endowmentsthey spoke somewhat distractedlyand at
randomin consequence.

'We have no Faith leftpositively' said Mrs Skewtonadvancing
her shrivelled ear; for Mr Dombey was saying something to Edith. 'We
have no Faith in the dear old Baronswho were the most delightful
creatures - or in the dear old Priestswho were the most warlike of
men - or even in the days of that inestimable Queen Bessupon the
wall therewhich were so extremely golden. Dear creature! She was all
Heart And that charming father of hers! I hope you dote on Harry the
Eighth!'

'I admire him very much' said Carker.

'So bluff!' cried Mrs Skewton'wasn't he? So burly. So truly
English. Such a picturetoohe makeswith his dear little peepy
eyesand his benevolent chin!'

'AhMa'am!' said Carkerstopping short; 'but if you speak of
picturesthere's a composition! What gallery in the world can produce
the counterpart of that?'

As the smiling gentleman thus spakehe pointed through a doorway
to where Mr Dombey and Edith were standing alone in the centre of
another room.

They were not interchanging a word or a look. Standing together
arm in armthey had the appearance of being more divided than if seas
had rolled between them. There was a difference even in the pride of
the twothat removed them farther from each otherthan if one had
been the proudest and the other the humblest specimen of humanity in
all creation. Heself-importantunbendingformalaustere. She
lovely and gracefulin an uncommon degreebut totally regardless of
herself and him and everything aroundand spurning her own
attractions with her haughty brow and lipas if they were a badge or
livery she hated. So unmatched were theyand opposedso forced and
linked together by a chain which adverse hazard and mischance had
forged: that fancy might have imagined the pictures on the walls
around themstartled by the unnatural conjunctionand observant of
it in their several expressions. Grim knights and warriors looked
scowling on them. A churchmanwith his hand upraiseddenounced the
mockery of such a couple coming to God's altar. Quiet waters in
landscapeswith the sun reflected in their depthsaskedif better
means of escape were not at handwas there no drowning left? Ruins
cried'Look hereand see what We arewedded to uncongenial Time!'
Animalsopposed by natureworried one anotheras a moral to them.
Loves and Cupids took to flight afraidand Martyrdom had no such
torment in its painted history of suffering.

NeverthelessMrs Skewton was so charmed by the sight to which Mr
Carker invoked her attentionthat she could not refraIn from saying
half aloudhow sweethow very full of soul it was! Edith
overhearinglooked roundand flushed indignant scarlet to her hair.

'My dearest Edith knows I was admiring her!' said Cleopatra
tapping heralmost timidlyon the back with her parasol. 'Sweet
pet!'

Again Mr Carker saw the strife he had witnessed so unexpectedly
among the trees. Again he saw the haughty languor and indifference
come over itand hide it like a cloud.


She did not raise her eyes to him; but with a slight peremptory
motion of themseemed to bid her mother come near. Mrs Skewton
thought it expedient to understand the hintand advancing quickly
with her two cavalierskept near her daughter from that time

Mr Carker nowhaving nothing to distract his attentionbegan to
discourse upon the pictures and to select the bestand point them out
to Mr Dombey: speaking with his usual familiar recognition of Mr
Dombey's greatnessand rendering homage by adjusting his eye-glass
for himor finding out the right place in his catalogueor holding
his stickor the like. These services did not so much originate with
Mr Carkerin truthas with Mr Dombey himselfwho was apt to assert
his chieftainship by sayingwith subdued authorityand in an easy
way - for him - 'HereCarkerhave the goodness to assist mewill
you?' which the smiling gentleman always did with pleasure.

They made the tour of the picturesthe wallscrow's nestand so
forth; and as they were still one little partyand the Major was
rather in the shade: being sleepy during the process of digestion: Mr
Carker became communicative and agreeable. At firsthe addressed
himself for the most part to Mrs Skewton; but as that sensitive lady
was in such ecstasies with the works of artafter the first quarter
of an hourthat she could do nothing but yawn (they were such perfect
inspirationsshe observed as a reason for that mark of rapture)he
transferred his attentions to Mr Dombey. Mr Dombey said little beyond
an occasional 'Very trueCarker' or 'IndeedCarker' but he tacitly
encouraged Carker to proceedand inwardly approved of his behaviour
very much: deeming it as well that somebody should talkand thinking
that his remarkswhich wereas one might saya branch of the parent
establishmentmight amuse Mrs Granger. Mr Carkerwho possessed an
excellent discretionnever took the liberty of addressing that lady
direct; but she seemed to listenthough she never looked at him; and
once or twicewhen he was emphatic in his peculiar humilitythe
twilight smile stole over her facenot as a lightbut as a deep
black shadow.

Warwick Castle being at length pretty well exhaustedand the Major
very much so: to say nothing of Mrs Skewtonwhose peculiar
demonstrations of delight had become very frequent Indeed: the
carriage was again put In requisitionand they rode to several
admired points of view In the neighbourhood. Mr Dombey ceremoniously
observed of one of thesethat a sketchhowever slightfrom the fair
hand of Mrs Grangerwould be a remembrance to him of that agreeable
day: though he wanted no artificial remembrancehe was sure (here Mr
Dombey made another of his bows)which he must always highly value.
Withers the lean having Edith's sketch-book under his armwas
immediately called upon by Mrs Skewton to produce the same: and the
carriage stoppedthat Edith might make the drawingwhich Mr Dombey
was to put away among his treasures.

'But I am afraid I trouble you too much' said Mr Dombey.

'By no means. Where would you wish it taken from?' she answered
turning to him with the same enforced attention as before.

Mr Dombeywith another bowwhich cracked the starch in his
cravatwould beg to leave that to the Artist.

'I would rather you chose for yourself' said Edith.

'Suppose then' said Mr Dombey'we say from here. It appears a
good spot for the purposeor - Carkerwhat do you think?'

There happened to be in the foregroundat some little distancea


grove of treesnot unlike that In which Mr Carker had made his chain
of footsteps in the morningand with a seat under one treegreatly
resemblingin the general character of its situationthe point where
his chain had broken.

'Might I venture to suggest to Mrs Granger' said Carker'that
that is an interesting - almost a curious - point of view?'

She followed the direction of his riding-whip with her eyesand
raised them quickly to his face. It was the second glance they had
exchanged since their introduction; and would have been exactly like
the firstbut that its expression was plainer.

'Will you like that?' said Edith to Mr Dombey.

'I shall be charmed' said Mr Dombey to Edith.

Therefore the carriage was driven to the spot where Mr Dombey was
to be charmed; and Edithwithout moving from her seatand openIng
her sketch-book with her usual proud indifferencebegan to sketch.

'My pencils are all pointless' she saidstopping and turning them
over.

'Pray allow me' said Mr Dombey. 'Or Carker will do it betteras
he understands these things. Carkerhave the goodness to see to these
pencils for Mrs Granger.

Mr Carker rode up close to the carriage-door on Mrs Granger's side
and letting the rein fall on his horse's necktook the pencils from
her hand with a smile and a bowand sat in the saddle leisurely
mending them. Having done sohe begged to be allowed to hold them
and to hand them to her as they were required; and thus Mr Carker
with many commendations of Mrs Granger's extraordinary skill especially
in trees - remained - close at her sidelooking over the
drawing as she made it. Mr Dombey in the meantime stood bolt upright
in the carriage like a highly respectable ghostlooking on too; while
Cleopatra and the Major dallied as two ancient doves might do.

'Are you satisfied with thator shall I finish it a little more?'
said Edithshowing the sketch to Mr Dombey.

Mr Dombey begged that it might not be touched; it was perfection.

'It is most extraordinary' said Carkerbringing every one of his
red gums to bear upon his praise. 'I was not prepared for anything so
beautifuland so unusual altogether.'

This might have applied to the sketcher no less than to the sketch;
but Mr Carker's manner was openness itself - not as to his mouth
alonebut as to his whole spirit. So it continued to be while the
drawing was laid aside for Mr Dombeyand while the sketching
materials were put up; then he handed in the pencils (which were
received with a distant acknowledgment of his helpbut without a
look)and tightening his reinfell backand followed the carriage
again.

Thinkingperhapsas he rodethat even this trivial sketch had
been made and delivered to its owneras if it had been bargained for
and bought. Thinkingperhapsthat although she had assented with
such perfect readiness to his requesther haughty facebent over the
drawingor glancing at the distant objects represented in ithad
been the face of a proud womanengaged in a sordid and miserable
transaction. Thinkingperhapsof such things: but smiling certainly


and while he seemed to look about him freelyin enjoyment of the air
and exercisekeeping always that sharp corner of his eye upon the
carriage.

A stroll among the haunted ruins of Kenilworthand more rides to
more points of view: most of whichMrs Skewton reminded Mr Dombey
Edith had already sketchedas he had seen in looking over her
drawings: brought the day's expedition to a close. Mrs Skewton and
Edith were driven to their own lodgings; Mr Carker was graciously
invited by Cleopatra to return thither with Mr Dombey and the Major
in the eveningto hear some of Edith's music; and the three gentlemen
repaired to their hotel to dinner.

The dinner was the counterpart of yesterday'sexcept that the
Major was twenty-four hours more triumphant and less mysterious. Edith
was toasted again. Mr Dombey was again agreeably embarrassed. And Mr
Carker was full of interest and praise.

There were no other visitors at Mrs Skewton's. Edith's drawings
were strewn about the rooma little more abundantly than usual
perhaps; and Withersthe wan pagehanded round a little stronger
tea. The harp was there; the piano was there; and Edith sang and
played. But even the music was played by Edith to Mr Dombey's order
as it werein the same uncompromising way. As thus.

'Edithmy dearest love' said Mrs Skewtonhalf an hour after tea
'Mr Dombey is dying to hear youI know.'

'Mr Dombey has life enough left to say so for himselfMamaI have
no doubt.'

'I shall be immensely obliged' said Mr Dombey.

'What do you wish?'

'Piano?' hesitated Mr Dombey.

'Whatever you please. You have only to choose.

Accordinglyshe began with the piano. It was the same with the
harp; the same with her singing; the same with the selection of the
pieces that she sang and played. Such frigid and constrainedyet
prompt and pointed acquiescence with the wishes he imposed upon her
and on no one elsewas sufficiently remarkable to penetrate through
all the mysteries of picquetand impress itself on Mr Carker's keen
attention. Nor did he lose sight of the fact that Mr Dombey was
evidently proud of his powerand liked to show it.

NeverthelessMr Carker played so well - some games with the Major
and some with Cleopatrawhose vigilance of eye in respect of Mr
Dombey and Edith no lynx could have surpassed - that he even
heightened his position in the lady-mother's good graces; and when on
taking leave he regretted that he would be obliged to return to London
next morningCleopatra trusted: community of feeling not being met
with every day: that it was far from being the last time they would
meet.

'I hope so' said Mr Carkerwith an expressive look at the couple
in the distanceas he drew towards the doorfollowing the Major. 'I
think so.'

Mr Dombeywho had taken a stately leave of Edithbentor made
some approach to a bendover Cleopatra's couchand saidin a low
voice:


'I have requested Mrs Granger's permission to call on her to-morrow
morning - for a purpose - and she has appointed twelve o'clock. May I
hope to have the pleasure of finding you at homeMadamafterwards?'

Cleopatra was so much fluttered and movedby hearing thisof
courseincomprehensible speechthat she could only shut her eyes
and shake her headand give Mr Dombey her hand; which Mr Dombeynot
exactly knowing what to do withdropped.

'Dombeycome along!' cried the Majorlooking in at the door.
'DammeSirold Joe has a great mind to propose an alteration in the
name of the Royal Hoteland that it should be called the Three Jolly
Bachelorsin honour of ourselves and Carker.' With thisthe Major
slapped Mr Dombey on the backand winking over his shoulder at the
ladieswith a frightful tendency of blood to the headcarried him
off.

Mrs Skewton reposed on her sofaand Edith sat apartby her harp
in silence. The mothertrifling with her fanlooked stealthily at
the daughter more than oncebut the daughterbrooding gloomily with
downcast eyeswas not to be disturbed.

Thus they remained for a long hourwithout a worduntil Mrs
Skewton's maid appearedaccording to customto prepare her gradually
for night. At nightshe should have been a skeletonwith dart and
hour-glassrather than a womanthis attendant; for her touch was as
the touch of Death. The painted object shrivelled underneath her hand;
the form collapsedthe hair dropped offthe arched dark eyebrows
changed to scanty tufts of grey; the pale lips shrunkthe skin became
cadaverous and loose; an oldwornyellownodding womanwith red
eyesalone remained in Cleopatra's placehuddled uplike a slovenly
bundlein a greasy flannel gown.

The very voice was changedas it addressed Edithwhen they were
alone again.

'Why don't you tell me' it said sharply'that he is coming here
to-morrow by appointment?'

'Because you know it' returned Edith'Mother.'

The mocking emphasis she laid on that one word!

'You know he has bought me' she resumed. 'Or that he will
to-morrow. He has considered of his bargain; he has shown it to his
friend; he is even rather proud of it; he thinks that it will suit
himand may be had sufficiently cheap; and he will buy to-morrow.
Godthat I have lived for thisand that I feel it!'

Compress into one handsome face the conscious self-abasementand
the burning indignation of a hundred womenstrong in passion and in
pride; and there it hid itself with two white shuddering arms.

'What do you mean?' returned the angry mother. 'Haven't you from a
child - '

'A child!' said Edithlooking at her'when was I a child? What
childhood did you ever leave to me? I was a woman - artfuldesigning
mercenarylaying snares for men - before I knew myselfor youor
even understood the base and wretched aim of every new display I
learnt You gave birth to a woman. Look upon her. She is in her pride
tonight'


And as she spokeshe struck her hand upon her beautiful bosomas
though she would have beaten down herself

'Look at me' she said'who have never known what it is to have an
honest heartand love. Look at metaught to scheme and plot when
children play; and married in my youth - an old age of design - to one
for whom I had no feeling but indifference. Look at mewhom he left a
widowdying before his inheritance descended to him - a judgment on
you! well deserved! - and tell me what has been my life for ten years
since.'

'We have been making every effort to endeavour to secure to you a
good establishment' rejoined her mother. 'That has been your life.
And now you have got it.'

'There is no slave in a market: there is no horse in a fair: so
shown and offered and examined and paradedMotheras I have been
for ten shameful years' cried Edithwith a burning browand the
same bitter emphasis on the one word. 'Is it not so? Have I been made
the bye-word of all kinds of men? Have foolshave profligateshave
boyshave dotardsdangled after meand one by one rejected meand
fallen offbecause you were too plain with all your cunning: yesand
too truewith all those false pretences: until we have almost come to
be notorious? The licence of look and touch' she saidwith flashing
eyes'have I submitted to itin half the places of resort upon the
map of England? Have I been hawked and vended here and thereuntil
the last grain of self-respect is dead within meand I loathe myself?
Has been my late childhood? I had none before. Do not tell me that I
hadtonight of all nights in my life!'

'You might have been well married' said her mother'twenty times
at leastEdithif you had given encouragement enough.'

'No! Who takes merefuse that I amand as I well deserve to be'
she answeredraising her headand trembling in her energy of shame
and stormy pride'shall take meas this man doeswith no art of
mine put forth to lure him. He sees me at the auctionand he thinks
it well to buy me. Let him! When he came to view me - perhaps to bid he
required to see the roll of my accomplishments. I gave it to him.
When he would have me show one of themto justify his purchase to his
menI require of him to say which he demandsand I exhibit it. I
will do no more. He makes the purchase of his own willand with his
own sense of its worthand the power of his money; and I hope it may
never disappoint him. I have not vaunted and pressed the bargain;
neither have youso far as I have been able to prevent you.

'You talk strangely to-nightEdithto your own Mother.'

'It seems so to me; stranger to me than you' said Edith. 'But my
education was completed long ago. I am too old nowand have fallen
too lowby degreesto take a new courseand to stop yoursand to
help myself. The germ of all that purifies a woman's breastand makes
it true and goodhas never stirred in mineand I have nothing else
to sustain me when I despise myself.' There had been a touching
sadness in her voicebut it was gonewhen she went on to saywith a
curled lip'Soas we are genteel and poorI am content that we
should be made rich by these means; all I say isI have kept the only
purpose I have had the strength to form - I had almost said the power
with you at my sideMother - and have not tempted this man on.'

'This man! You speak' said her mother'as if you hated him.'

'And you thought I loved himdid you not?' she answeredstopping
on her way across the roomand looking round. 'Shall I tell you' she


continuedwith her eyes fixed on her mother'who already knows us
thoroughlyand reads us rightand before whom I have even less of
self-respect or confidence than before my own inward self; being so
much degraded by his knowledge of me?'

'This is an attackI suppose' returned her mother coldly'on
poorunfortunate what's-his-name - Mr Carker! Your want of
self-respect and confidencemy dearin reference to that person (who
is very agreeableit strikes me)is not likely to have much effect
on your establishment. Why do you look at me so hard? Are you ill?'

Edith suddenly let fall her faceas if it had been stungand
while she pressed her hands upon ita terrible tremble crept over her
whole frame. It was quickly gone; and with her usual stepshe passed
out of the room.

The maid who should have been a skeletonthen reappearedand
giving one arm to her mistresswho appeared to have taken off her
manner with her charmsand to have put on paralysis with her flannel
gowncollected the ashes of Cleopatraand carried them away in the
otherready for tomorrow's revivification.

CHAPTER 28.

Alterations

'So the day has come at lengthSusan' said Florence to the
excellent Nipper'when we are going back to our quiet home!'

Susan drew in her breath with an amount of expression not easily
describedfurther relieving her feelings with a smart cough
answered'Very quiet indeedMiss Floyno doubt. Excessive so.'

'When I was a child' said Florencethoughtfullyand after musing
for some moments'did you ever see that gentleman who has taken the
trouble to ride down here to speak to menow three times - three
timesI thinkSusan?'

'Three timesMiss' returned the Nipper. 'Once when you was out a
walking with them Sket- '

Florence gently looked at herand Miss Nipper checked herself.

'With Sir Barnet and his ladyI mean to sayMissand the young
gentleman. And two evenings since then.'

'When I was a childand when company used to come to visit Papa
did you ever see that gentleman at homeSusan?' asked Florence.

'WellMiss' returned her maidafter considering'I really
couldn't say I ever did. When your poor dear Ma diedMiss FloyI was
very new in the familyyou seeand my element:' the Nipper bridled
as opining that her merits had been always designedly extinguished by
Mr Dombey: 'was the floor below the attics.'

'To be sure' said Florencestill thoughtfully; 'you are not
likely to have known who came to the house. I quite forgot.'

'NotMissbut what we talked about the family and visitors' said
Susan'and but what I heard much saidalthough the nurse before Mrs
Richards make unpleasant remarks when I was in companyand hint at


little Pitchersbut that could only be attributedpoor thing'
observed Susanwith composed forbearance'to habits of intoxication
for which she was required to leaveand did.'

Florencewho was seated at her chamber windowwith her face
resting on her handsat looking outand hardly seemed to hear what
Susan saidshe was so lost in thought.

'At all eventsMiss' said Susan'I remember very well that this
same gentlemanMr Carkerwas almostif not quiteas great a
gentleman with your Papa thenas he is now. It used to be said in the
house thenMissthat he was at the head of all your Pa's affairs in
the Cityand managed the wholeand that your Pa minded him more than
anybodywhichbegging your pardonMiss Floyhe might easy dofor
he never minded anybody else. I knew thatPitcher as I might have
been.'

Susan Nipperwith an injured remembrance of the nurse before Mrs
Richardsemphasised 'Pitcher' strongly.

'And that Mr Carker has not fallen offMiss' she pursued'but
has stood his groundand kept his credit with your PaI know from
what is always said among our people by that Perchwhenever he comes
to the house; and though he's the weakest weed in the worldMiss
Floyand no one can have a moment's patience with the manhe knows
what goes on in the City tolerable welland says that your Pa does
nothing without Mr Carkerand leaves all to Mr Carkerand acts
according to Mr Carkerand has Mr Carker always at his elbowand I
do believe that he believes (that washiest of Perches!) that after
your Pathe Emperor of India is the child unborn to Mr Carker.'

Not a word of this was lost on Florencewhowith an awakened
interest in Susan's speechno longer gazed abstractedly on the
prospect withoutbut looked at herand listened with attention.

'YesSusan' she saidwhen that young lady had concluded. 'He is
in Papa's confidenceand is his friendI am sure.'

Florence's mind ran high on this themeand had done for some days.
Mr Carkerin the two visits with which he had followed up his first
onehad assumed a confidence between himself and her - a right on his
part to be mysterious and stealthyin telling her that the ship was
still unheard of - a kind of mildly restrained power and authority
over her - that made her wonderand caused her great uneasiness. She
had no means of repelling itor of freeing herself from the web he
was gradually winding about her; for that would have required some art
and knowledge of the worldopposed to such address as his; and
Florence had none. Truehe had said no more to her than that there
was no news of the shipand that he feared the worst; but how he came
to know that she was interested in the shipand why he had the right
to signify his knowledge to herso insidiously and darklytroubled
Florence very much.

This conduct on the part of Mr Carkerand her habit of often
considering it with wonder and uneasinessbegan to invest him with an
uncomfortable fascination in Florence's thoughts. A more distinct
remembrance of his featuresvoiceand manner: which she sometimes
courtedas a means of reducing him to the level of a real personage
capable of exerting no greater charm over her than another: did not
remove the vague impression. And yet he never frownedor looked upon
her with an air of dislike or animositybut was always smiling and
serene.

AgainFlorencein pursuit of her strong purpose with reference to


her fatherand her steady resolution to believe that she was herself
unwittingly to blame for their so cold and distant relationswould
recall to mind that this gentleman was his confidential friendand
would thinkwith an anxious heartcould her struggling tendency to
dislike and fear him be a part of that misfortune in herwhich had
turned her father's love adriftand left her so alone? She dreaded
that it might be; sometimes believed it was: then she resolved that
she would try to conquer this wrong feeling; persuaded herself that
she was honoured and encouraged by the notice of her father's friend;
and hoped that patient observation of him and trust in him would lead
her bleeding feet along that stony road which ended in her father's
heart.

Thuswith no one to advise her - for she could advise with no one
without seeming to complain against him - gentle Florence tossed on an
uneasy sea of doubt and hope; and Mr Carkerlike a scaly monster of
the deepswam down belowand kept his shining eye upon her. Florence
had a new reason in all this for wishing to be at home again. Her
lonely life was better suited to her course of timid hope and doubt;
and she feared sometimesthat in her absence she might miss some
hopeful chance of testifying her affection for her father. Heaven
knowsshe might have set her mind at restpoor child! on this last
point; but her slighted love was fluttering within herandeven in
her sleepit flew away in dreamsand nestledlike a wandering bird
come homeupon her father's neck.

Of Walter she thought often. Ah! how oftenwhen the night was
gloomyand the wind was blowing round the house! But hope was strong
in her breast. It is so difficult for the young and ardenteven with
such experience as hersto imagine youth and ardour quenched like a
weak flameand the bright day of life merging into nightat noon
that hope was strong yet. Her tears fell frequently for Walter's
sufferings; but rarely for his supposed deathand never long.

She had written to the old Instrument-makerbut had received no
answer to her note: which indeed required none. Thus matters stood
with Florence on the morning when she was going homegladlyto her
old secluded life.

Doctor and Mrs Blimberaccompanied (much against his will) by
their valued chargeMaster Barnetwere already gone back to
Brightonwhere that young gentleman and his fellow-pilgrims to
Parnassus were thenno doubtin the continual resumption of their
studies. The holiday time was past and over; most of the juvenile
guests at the villa had taken their departure; and Florence's long
visit was come to an end.

There was one guesthoweveralbeit not resident within the house
who had been very constant in his attentions to the familyand who
still remained devoted to them. This was Mr Tootswho after renewing
some weeks agothe acquaintance he had had the happiness of forming
with Skettles Junioron the night when he burst the Blimberian bonds
and soared into freedom with his ring oncalled regularly every other
dayand left a perfect pack of cards at the hall-door; so many
indeedthat the ceremony was quite a deal on the part of Mr Toots
and a hand at whist on the part of the servant.

Mr Tootslikewisewith the bold and happy idea of preventing the
family from forgetting him (but there is reason to suppose that this
expedient originated in the teeming brain of the Chicken)had
established a six-oared cuttermanned by aquatic friends of the
Chicken's and steered by that illustrious character in personwho
wore a bright red fireman's coat for the purposeand concealed the
perpetual black eye with which he was afflictedbeneath a green


shade. Previous to the institution of this equipageMr Toots sounded
the Chicken on a hypothetical caseassupposing the Chicken to be
enamoured of a young lady named Maryand to have conceived the
intention of starting a boat of his ownwhat would he call that boat?
The Chicken repliedwith divers strong asseverationsthat he would
either christen it Poll or The Chicken's Delight. Improving on this
ideaMr Tootsafter deep study and the exercise of much invention
resolved to call his boat The Toots's Joyas a delicate compliment to
Florenceof which no man knowing the partiescould possibly miss the
appreciation.

Stretched on a crimson cushion in his gallant barkwith his shoes
in the airMr Tootsin the exercise of his projecthad come up the
riverday after dayand week after weekand had flitted to and fro
near Sir Barnet's gardenand had caused his crew to cut across and
across the river at sharp anglesfor his better exhibition to any
lookers-out from Sir Barnet's windowsand had had such evolutions
performed by the Toots's Joy as had filled all the neighbouring part
of the water-side with astonishment. But whenever he saw anyone in Sir
Barnet's garden on the brink of the riverMr Toots always feigned to
be passing thereby a combination of coincidences of the most
singular and unlikely description.

'How are youToots?' Sir Barnet would saywaving his hand from
the lawnwhile the artful Chicken steered close in shore.

'How de doSir Barnet?' Mr Toots would answerWhat a surprising
thing that I should see you here!'

Mr Tootsin his sagacityalways said thisas ifinstead of that
being Sir Barnet's houseit were some deserted edifice on the banks
of the Nileor Ganges.

'I never was so surprised!' Mr Toots would exclaim. - 'Is Miss
Dombey there?'

Whereupon Florence would appearperhaps.

'OhDiogenes is quite wellMiss Dombey' Toots would cry. 'I
called to ask this morning.'

'Thank you very much!' the pleasant voice of Florence would reply.

'Won't you come ashoreToots?' Sir Barnet would say then. 'Come!
you're in no hurry. Come and see us.'

'Ohit's of no consequencethank you!' Mr Toots would blushingly
rejoin. 'I thought Miss Dombey might like to knowthat's all.
Good-bye!' And poor Mr Tootswho was dying to accept the invitation
but hadn't the courage to do itsigned to the Chickenwith an aching
heartand away went the Joycleaving the water like an arrow.

The Joy was lying in a state of extraordinary splendourat the
garden stepson the morning of Florence's departure. When she went
downstairs to take leaveafter her talk with Susanshe found Mr
Toots awaiting her in the drawing-room.

'Ohhow de doMiss Dombey?' said the stricken Tootsalways
dreadfully disconcerted when the desire of his heart was gainedand
he was speaking to her; 'thank youI'm very well indeedI hope
you're the sameso was Diogenes yesterday.'

'You are very kind' said Florence.


'Thank youit's of no consequence' retorted Mr Toots. 'I thought
perhaps you wouldn't mindin this fine weathercoming home by water
Miss Dombey. There's plenty of room in the boat for your maid.'

'I am very much obliged to you' said Florencehesitating. 'I
really am - but I would rather not.'

'Ohit's of no consequence' retorted Mr Toots. 'Good morning.'

'Won't you wait and see Lady Skettles?' asked Florencekindly.

'Oh nothank you' returned Mr Toots'it's of no consequence at
all.'

So shy was Mr Toots on such occasionsand so flurried! But Lady
Skettles entering at the momentMr Toots was suddenly seized with a
passion for asking her how she didand hoping she was very well; nor
could Mr Toots by any possibility leave off shaking hands with her
until Sir Barnet appeared: to whom he immediately clung with the
tenacity of desperation.

'We are losingtodayToots' said Sir Barnetturning towards
Florence'the light of our houseI assure you'

'Ohit's of no conseq - I mean yesto be sure' faltered the
embarrassed Mr Toots. 'Good morning!'

Notwithstanding the emphatic nature of this farewellMr Toots
instead of going awaystood leering about himvacantly. Florenceto
relieve himbade adieuwith many thanksto Lady Skettlesand gave
her arm to Sir Barnet.

'May I beg of youmy dear Miss Dombey' said her hostas he
conducted her to the carriage'to present my best compliments to your
dear Papa?'

It was distressing to Florence to receive the commissionfor she
felt as if she were imposing on Sir Barnet by allowing him to believe
that a kindness rendered to herwas rendered to her father. As she
could not explainhowevershe bowed her head and thanked him; and
again she thought that the dull homefree from such embarrassments
and such reminders of her sorrowwas her natural and best retreat.

Such of her late friends and companions as were yet remaining at
the villacame running from withinand from the gardento say
good-bye. They were all attached to herand very earnest in taking
leave of her. Even the household were sorry for her goingand the
servants came nodding and curtseying round the carriage door. As
Florence looked round on the kind facesand saw among them those of
Sir Barnet and his ladyand of Mr Tootswho was chuckling and
staring at her from a distanceshe was reminded of the night when
Paul and she had come from Doctor Blimber's: and when the carriage
drove awayher face was wet with tears.

Sorrowful tearsbut tears of consolationtoo; for all the softer
memories connected with the dull old house to which she was returning
made it dear to heras they rose up. How long it seemed since she had
wandered through the silent rooms: since she had last creptsoftly
and afraidinto those her father occupied: since she had felt the
solemn but yet soothing influence of the beloved dead in every action
of her daily life! This new farewell reminded herbesidesof her
parting with poor Walter: of his looks and words that night: and of
the gracious blending she had noticed in himof tenderness for those
he left behindwith courage and high spirit. His little history was


associated with the old house tooand gave it a new claim and hold
upon her heart. Even Susan Nipper softened towards the home of so many
yearsas they were on their way towards it. Gloomy as it wasand
rigid justice as she rendered to its gloomshe forgave it a great
deal. 'I shall be glad to see it againI don't denyMiss' said the
Nipper. 'There ain't much in it to boast ofbut I wouldn't have it
burnt or pulled downneither!'

'You'll be glad to go through the old roomswon't youSusan?'
said Florencesmiling.

'WellMiss' returned the Nippersoftening more and more towards
the houseas they approached it nearer'I won't deny but what I
shallthough I shall hate 'em againto-morrowvery likely.'

Florence felt thatfor herthere was greater peace within it than
elsewhere. It was better and easier to keep her secret shut up there
among the tall dark wallsthan to carry it abroad into the lightand
try to hide it from a crowd of happy eyes. It was better to pursue the
study of her loving heartaloneand find no new discouragements in
loving hearts about her. It was easier to hopeand prayand love on
all uncared foryet with constancy and patiencein the tranquil
sanctuary of such remembrances: although it moulderedrustedand
decayed about her: than in a new scenelet its gaiety be what it
would. She welcomed back her old enchanted dream of lifeand longed
for the old dark door to close upon heronce again.

Full of such thoughtsthey turned into the long and sombre street.
Florence was not on that side of the carriage which was nearest to her
homeand as the distance lessened between them and itshe looked out
of her window for the children over the way.

She was thus engagedwhen an exclamation from Susan caused her to
turn quickly round.

'WhyGracious me!' cried Susanbreathless'where's our house!'

'Our house!' said Florence.

Susandrawing in her head from the windowthrust it out again
drew it in again as the carriage stoppedand stared at her mistress
in amazement.

There was a labyrinth of scaffolding raised all round the house
from the basement to the roof. Loads of bricks and stonesand heaps
of mortarand piles of woodblocked up half the width and length of
the broad street at the side. Ladders were raised against the walls;
labourers were climbing up and down; men were at work upon the steps
of the scaffolding; painters and decorators were busy inside; great
rolls of ornamental paper were being delivered from a cart at the
door; an upholsterer's waggon also stopped the way; no furniture was
to be seen through the gaping and broken windows in any of the rooms;
nothing but workmenand the implements of their several trades
swarming from the kitchens to the garrets. Inside and outside alike:
bricklayerspainterscarpentersmasons: hammerhodbrush
pickaxesawand trowel: all at work togetherin full chorus!

Florence descended from the coachhalf doubting if it wereor
could be the right houseuntil she recognised Towlinsonwith a
sun-burnt facestanding at the door to receive her.

'There is nothing the matter?' inquired Florence.

'Oh noMiss.'


'There are great alterations going on.'

'YesMissgreat alterations' said Towlinson.

Florence passed him as if she were in a dreamand hurried
upstairs. The garish light was in the long-darkened drawing-room and
there were steps and platformsand men In paper capsin the high
places. Her mother's picture was gone with the rest of the moveables
and on the mark where it had beenwas scrawled in chalk'this room
in panel. Green and gold.' The staircase was a labyrinth of posts and
planks like the outside of the houseand a whole Olympus of plumbers
and glaziers was reclining in various attitudeson the skylight. Her
own room was not yet touched withinbut there were beams and boards
raised against it withoutbaulking the daylight. She went up swiftly
to that other bedroomwhere the little bed was; and a dark giant of a
man with a pipe in his mouthand his head tied up in a
pocket-handkerchiefwas staring in at the window.

It was here that Susan Nipperwho had been in quest of Florence
found herand saidwould she go downstairs to her Papawho wished
to speak to her.

'At home! and wishing to speak to me!' cried Florencetrembling.

Susanwho was infinitely more distraught than Florence herself
repeated her errand; and Florencepale and agitatedhurried down
againwithout a moment's hesitation. She thought upon the way down
would she dare to kiss him? The longing of her heart resolved herand
she thought she would.

Her father might have heard that heart beatwhen it came into his
presence. One instantand it would have beat against his breast.

But he was not alone. There were two ladies there; and Florence
stopped. Striving so hard with her emotionthat if her brute friend
Di had not burst in and overwhelmed her with his caresses as a welcome
home - at which one of the ladies gave a little screamand that
diverted her attention from herself - she would have swooned upon the
floor.

'Florence' said her fatherputting out his hand: so stiffly that
it held her off: 'how do you do?'

Florence took the hand between her ownand putting it timidly to
her lipsyielded to its withdrawal. It touched the door in shutting
itwith quite as much endearment as it had touched her.

'What dog is that?' said Mr Dombeydispleased.

'It is a dogPapa - from Brighton.'

'Well!' said Mr Dombey; and a cloud passed over his facefor he
understood her.

'He is very good-tempered' said Florenceaddressing herself with
her natural grace and sweetness to the two lady strangers. 'He is only
glad to see me. Pray forgive him.'

She saw in the glance they interchangedthat the lady who had
screamedand who was seatedwas old; and that the other ladywho
stood near her Papawas very beautifuland of an elegant figure.

'Mrs Skewton' said her fatherturning to the firstand holding


out his hand'this is my daughter Florence.'

'CharmingI am sure' observed the ladyputting up her glass. 'So
natural! My darling Florenceyou must kiss meif you please.'

Florence having done soturned towards the other ladyby whom her
father stood waiting.

'Edith' said Mr Dombey'this is my daughter Florence. Florence
this lady will soon be your Mama.'

Florence startedand looked up at the beautiful face in a conflict
of emotionsamong which the tears that name awakenedstruggled for a
moment with surpriseinterestadmirationand an indefinable sort of
fear. Then she cried out'OhPapamay you be happy! may you be
veryvery happy all your life!' and then fell weeping on the lady's
bosom.

There was a short silence. The beautiful ladywho at first had
seemed to hesitate whether or no she should advance to Florenceheld
her to her breastand pressed the hand with which she clasped her
close about her waistas if to reassure her and comfort her. Not one
word passed the lady's lips. She bent her head down over Florenceand
she kissed her on the cheekbut she said no word.

'Shall we go on through the rooms' said Mr Dombey'and see how
our workmen are doing? Pray allow memy dear madam.'

He said this in offering his arm to Mrs Skewtonwho had been
looking at Florence through her glassas though picturing to herself
what she might be madeby the infusion - from her own copious
storehouseno doubt - of a little more Heart and Nature. Florence was
still sobbing on the lady's breastand holding to herwhen Mr Dombey
was heard to say from the Conservatory:

'Let us ask Edith. Dear mewhere is she?'

'Edithmy dear!' cried Mrs Skewton'where are you? Looking for Mr
Dombey somewhereI know. We are heremy love.'

The beautiful lady released her hold of Florenceand pressing her
lips once more upon her facewithdrew hurriedlyand joined them.
Florence remained standing In the same place: happysorryjoyful
and in tearsshe knew not howor how longbut all at once: when her
new Mama came backand took her in her arms again.

'Florence' said the ladyhurriedlyand looking into her face
with great earnestness. 'You will not begin by hating me?'

'By hating youMama?' cried Florencewinding her arm round her
neckand returning the look.

'Hush! Begin by thinking well of me' said the beautiful lady.
'Begin by believing that I will try to make you happyand that I am
prepared to love youFlorence. Good-bye. We shall meet again soon.
Good-bye! Don't stay herenow.'

Again she pressed her to her breast she had spoken in a rapid
mannerbut firmly - and Florence saw her rejoin them in the other
room. And now Florence began to hope that she would learn from her new
and beautiful Mamahow to gaIn her father's love; and in her sleep
that nightin her lost old homeher own Mama smiled radiantly upon
the hopeand blessed it. Dreaming Florence!


CHAPTER 29.

The Opening of the Eyes of Mrs Chick

Miss Toxall unconscious of any such rare appearances in connexion
with Mr Dombey's houseas scaffoldings and laddersand men with
their heads tied up in pocket-handkerchiefsglaring in at the windows
like flying genii or strange birds- having breakfasted one morning
at about this eventful period of timeon her customary viands; to
witone French roll raspedone egg new laid (or warranted to be)
and one little pot of teawherein was infused one little silver
scoopful of that herb on behalf of Miss Toxand one little silver
scoopful on behalf of the teapot - a flight of fancy in which good
housekeepers delight; went upstairs to set forth the bird waltz on the
harpsichordto water and arrange the plantsto dust the nick-nacks
andaccording to her daily customto make her little drawing-room
the garland of Princess's Place.

Miss Tox endued herself with a pair of ancient gloveslike dead
leavesin which she was accustomed to perform these avocations hidden
from human sight at other times in a table drawer - and went
methodically to work; beginning with the bird waltz; passingby a
natural association of ideasto her bird - a very high-shouldered
canarystricken in yearsand much rumpledbut a piercing singeras
Princess's Place well knew; takingnext in orderthe little china
ornamentspaper fly-cagesand so forth; and coming roundin good
timeto the plantswhich generally required to be snipped here and
there with a pair of scissorsfor some botanical reason that was very
powerful with Miss Tox. Miss Tox was slow in coming to the plants
this morning. The weather was warmthe wind southerly; and there was
a sigh of the summer-time In Princess's Placethat turned Miss Tox's
thoughts upon the country. The pot-boy attached to the Princess's Arms
had come out with a can and trickled waterin a flowering pattern
all over Princess's Placeand it gave the weedy ground a fresh scent

-quite a growing scentMiss Tox said. There was a tiny blink of sun
peeping in from the great street round the cornerand the smoky
sparrows hopped over it and back againbrightening as they passed: or
bathed in itlike a streamand became glorified sparrows
unconnected with chimneys. Legends in praise of Ginger-Beerwith
pictorial representations of thirsty customers submerged in the
effervescenceor stunned by the flying corkswere conspicuous in the
window of the Princess's Arms. They were making late haysomewhere
out of town; and though the fragrance had a long way to comeand many
counter fragrances to contend with among the dwellings of the poor
(may God reward the worthy gentlemen who stickle for the Plague as
part and parcel of the wisdom of our ancestorsand who do their
little best to keep those dwellings miserable!)yet it was wafted
faintly into Princess's Placewhispering of Nature and her wholesome
airas such things willeven unto prisoners and captivesand those
who are desolate and oppressedin very spite of aldermen and knights
to boot: at whose sage nod - and how they nod! - the rolling world
stands still!
Miss Tox sat down upon the window-seatand thought of her good
Papa deceased - Mr Toxof the Customs Department of the public
service; and of her childhoodpassed at a seaportamong a
considerable quantity of cold tarand some rusticity. She fell into a
softened remembrance of meadowsin old timegleaming with
buttercupslike so many inverted firmaments of golden stars; and how
she had made chains of dandelion-stalks for youthful vowers of eternal


constancydressed chiefly in nankeen; and how soon those fetters had
withered and broken.

Sitting on the window-seatand looking out upon the sparrows and
the blink of sunMiss Tox thought likewise of her good Mama deceased

-sister to the owner of the powdered head and pigtail - of her
virtues and her rheumatism. And when a man with bulgy legsand a
rough voiceand a heavy basket on his head that crushed his hat into
a mere black muffincame crying flowers down Princess's Placemaking
his timid little roots of daisies shudder in the vibration of every
yell he gaveas though he had been an ogrehawking little children
summer recollections were so strong upon Miss Toxthat she shook her
headand murmured she would be comparatively old before she knew it which
seemed likely.
In her pensive moodMiss Tox's thoughts went wandering on Mr
Dombey's track; probably because the Major had returned home to his
lodgings oppositeand had just bowed to her from his window. What
other reason could Miss Tox have for connecting Mr Dombey with her
summer days and dandelion fetters? Was he more cheerful? thought Miss
Tox. Was he reconciled to the decrees of fate? Would he ever marry
again? and if yeswhom? What sort of person now!

A flush - it was warm weather - overspread Miss Tox's faceas
while entertaining these meditationsshe turned her headand was
surprised by the reflection of her thoughtful image In the
chimney-glass. Another flush succeeded when she saw a little carriage
drive into Princess's Placeand make straight for her own door. Miss
Tox arosetook up her scissors hastilyand so comingat lastto
the plantswas very busy with them when Mrs Chick entered the room.

'How is my sweetest friend!' exclaimed Miss Toxwith open arms.

A little stateliness was mingled with Miss Tox's sweetest friend's
demeanourbut she kissed Miss Toxand said'Lucretiathank youI
am pretty well. I hope you are the same. Hem!'

Mrs Chick was labouring under a peculiar little monosyllabic cough;
a sort of primeror easy introduction to the art of coughing.

'You call very earlyand how kind that ismy dear!' pursued Miss
Tox. 'Nowhave you breakfasted?'

'Thank youLucretia' said Mrs Chick'I have. I took an early
breakfast' - the good lady seemed curious on the subject of Princess's
Placeand looked all round it as she spoke - 'with my brotherwho
has come home.'

'He is betterI trustmy love' faltered Miss Tox.

'He is greatly betterthank you. Hem!'

'My dear Louisa must be careful of that cough' remarked Miss Tox.

'It's nothing' returned Mrs Chic 'It's merely change of weather.
We must expect change.'

'Of weather?' asked Miss Toxin her simplicity.

'Of everything' returned Mrs Chick 'Of course we must. It's a world
of change. Anyone would surprise me very muchLucretiaand would
greatly alter my opinion of their understandingif they attempted to
contradict or evade what is so perfectly evident. Change!' exclaimed
Mrs Chickwith severe philosophy. 'Whymy gracious mewhat is there


that does not change! even the silkwormwho I am sure might be
supposed not to trouble itself about such subjectschanges into all
sorts of unexpected things continually.'

'My Louisa' said the mild Miss Tox'is ever happy in her
illustrations.'

'You are so kindLucretia' returned Mrs Chicka little softened
'as to say soand to think soI believe. I hope neither of us may
ever have any cause to lessen our opinion of the otherLucretia.'

'I am sure of it' returned Miss Tox.

Mrs Chick coughed as beforeand drew lines on the carpet with the
ivory end of her parasol. Miss Toxwho had experience of her fair
friendand knew that under the pressure of any slight fatigue or
vexation she was prone to a discursive kind of irritabilityavailed
herself of the pauseto change the subject.

'Pardon memy dear Louisa' said Miss Tox'but have I caught
sight of the manly form of Mr Chick in the carriage?'

'He is there' said Mrs Chick'but pray leave him there. He has
his newspaperand would be quite contented for the next two hours. Go
on with your flowersLucretiaand allow me to sit here and rest.'

'My Louisa knows' observed Miss Tox'that between friends like
ourselvesany approach to ceremony would be out of the question.
Therefore - ' Therefore Miss Tox finished the sentencenot in words
but action; and putting on her gloves againwhich she had taken off
and arming herself once more with her scissorsbegan to snip and clip
among the leaves with microscopic industry.

'Florence has returned home also' said Mrs Chickafter sitting
silent for some timewith her head on one sideand her parasol
sketching on the floor; 'and really Florence is a great deal too old
nowto continue to lead that solitary life to which she has been
accustomed. Of course she is. There can be no doubt about it. I should
have very little respectindeedfor anybody who could advocate a
different opinion. Whatever my wishes might beI could not respect
them. We cannot command our feelings to such an extent as that.'

Miss Tox assentedwithout being particular as to the
intelligibility of the proposition.

'If she's a strange girl' said Mrs Chick'and if my brother Paul
cannot feel perfectly comfortable in her societyafter all the sad
things that have happenedand all the terrible disappointments that
have been undergonethenwhat is the reply? That he must make an
effort. That he is bound to make an effort. We have always been a
family remarkable for effort. Paul is at the head of the family;
almost the only representative of it left - for what am I - I am of no
consequence - '

'My dearest love' remonstrated Miss Tox.

Mrs Chick dried her eyeswhich werefor the momentoverflowing;
and proceeded:

'And consequently he is more than ever bound to make an effort. And
though his having done socomes upon me with a sort of shock - for
mine is a very weak and foolish nature; which is anything but a
blessing I am sure; I often wish my heart was a marble slabor a
paving-stone



'My sweet Louisa' remonstrated Miss Tox again.

'Stillit is a triumph to me to know that he is so true to
himselfand to his name of Dombey; althoughof courseI always knew
he would be. I only hope' said Mrs Chickafter a pause'that she
may be worthy of the name too.

Miss Tox filled a little green watering-pot from a jugand
happening to look up when she had done sowas so surprised by the
amount of expression Mrs Chick had conveyed into her faceand was
bestowing upon herthat she put the little watering-pot on the table
for the presentand sat down near it.

'My dear Louisa' said Miss Tox'will it be the least satisfaction
to youif I venture to observe in reference to that remarkthat I
as a humble individualthink your sweet niece in every way most
promising?~ 'What do you meanLucretia?' returned Mrs Chickwith
increased stateliness of manner. 'To what remark of minemy deardo
you refer?'

'Her being worthy of her namemy love' replied Miss Tox.

'If' said Mrs Chickwith solemn patience'I have not expressed
myself with clearnessLucretiathe fault of course is mine. There
isperhapsno reason why I should express myself at allexcept the
intimacy that has subsisted between usand which I very much hope
Lucretia - confidently hope - nothing will occur to disturb. Because
why should I do anything else? There is no reason; it would be absurd.
But I wish to express myself clearlyLucretia; and therefore to go
back to that remarkI must beg to say that it was not intended to
relate to Florencein any way.'

'Indeed!' returned Miss Tox.

'No' said Mrs Chick shortly and decisively.

'Pardon memy dear' rejoined her meek friend; 'but I cannot have
understood it. I fear I am dull.'

Mrs Chick looked round the room and over the way; at the plantsat
the birdat the watering-potat almost everything within view
except Miss Tox; and finally dropping her glance upon Miss Toxfor a
momenton its way to the groundsaidlooking meanwhile with
elevated eyebrows at the carpet:

'When I speakLucretiaof her being worthy of the nameI speak
of my brother Paul's second wife. I believe I have already saidin
effectif not in the very words I now usethat it is his intention
to marry a second wife.'

Miss Tox left her seat in a hurryand returned to her plants;
clipping among the stems and leaveswith as little favour as a barber
working at so many pauper heads of hair.

'Whether she will be fully sensible of the distinction conferred
upon her' said Mrs Chickin a lofty tone'is quite another
question. I hope she may be. We are bound to think well of one another
in this worldand I hope she may be. I have not been advised with
myself If I had been advised withI have no doubt my advice would
have been cavalierly receivedand therefore it is infinitely better
as it is. I much prefer it as it is.'

Miss Toxwith head bent downstill clipped among the plants. Mrs


Chickwith energetic shakings of her own head from time to time
continued to hold forthas if in defiance of somebody. 'If my brother
Paul had consulted with mewhich he sometimes does - or rather
sometimes used to do; for he will naturally do that no more nowand
this is a circumstance which I regard as a relief from
responsibility' said Mrs Chickhysterically'for I thank Heaven I
am not jealous - ' here Mrs Chick again shed tears: 'if my brother
Paul had come to meand had saidLouisa, what kind of qualities
would you advise me to look out for, in a wife?I should certainly
have answeredPaul, you must have family, you must have beauty, you
must have dignity, you must have connexion.Those are the words I
should have used. You might have led me to the block immediately
afterwards' said Mrs Chickas if that consequence were highly
probable'but I should have used them. I should have saidPaul! You
to marry a second time without family! You to marry without beauty!
You to marry without dignity! You to marry without connexion! There is
nobody in the world, not mad, who could dream of daring to entertain
such a preposterous idea!'

Miss Tox stopped clipping; and with her head among the plants
listened attentively. Perhaps Miss Tox thought there was hope in this
exordiumand the warmth of Mrs Chick.

I should have adopted this course of argument' pursued the
discreet lady'because I trust I am not a fool. I make no claim to be
considered a person of superior intellect - though I believe some
people have been extraordinary enough to consider me so; one so little
humoured as I amwould very soon be disabused of any such notion; but
I trust I am not a downright fool. And to tell ME' said Mrs Chick
with ineffable disdain'that my brother Paul Dombey could ever
contemplate the possibility of uniting himself to anybody - I don't
care who' - she was more sharp and emphatic in that short clause than
in any other part of her discourse - 'not possessing these requisites
would be to insult what understanding I have gotas much as if I was
to be told that I was born and bred an elephantwhich I may be told
next' said Mrs Chickwith resignation. 'It wouldn't surprise me at
all. I expect it.'

In the moment's silence that ensuedMiss Tox's scissors gave a
feeble clip or two; but Miss Tox's face was still invisibleand Miss
Tox's morning gown was agitated. Mrs Chick looked sideways at her
through the intervening plantsand went on to sayin a tone of bland
convictionand as one dwelling on a point of fact that hardly
required to be stated:

'Thereforeof course my brother Paul has done what was to be
expected of himand what anybody might have foreseen he would doif
he entered the marriage state again. I confess it takes me rather by
surprisehowever gratifying; because when Paul went out of town I had
no idea at all that he would form any attachment out of townand he
certainly had no attachment when he left here. Howeverit seems to be
extremely desirable in every point of view. I have no doubt the mother
is a most genteel and elegant creatureand I have no right whatever
to dispute the policy of her living with them: which is Paul's affair
not mine - and as to Paul's choiceherselfI have only seen her
picture yetbut that is beautiful indeed. Her name is beautiful too'
said Mrs Chickshaking her head with energyand arranging herself in
her chair; 'Edith is at once uncommonas it strikes meand
distinguished. ConsequentlyLucretiaI have no doubt you will be
happy to hear that the marriage is to take place immediately - of
courseyou will:' great emphasis again: 'and that you are delighted
with this change in the condition of my brotherwho has shown you a
great deal of pleasant attention at various times.'


Miss Tox made no verbal answerbut took up the little watering-pot
with a trembling handand looked vacantly round as if considering
what article of furniture would be improved by the contents. The room
door opening at this crisis of Miss Tox's feelingsshe started
laughed aloudand fell into the arms of the person entering; happily
insensible alike of Mrs Chick's indignant countenance and of the Major
at his window over the waywho had his double-barrelled eye-glass in
full actionand whose face and figure were dilated with
Mephistophelean joy.

Not so the expatriated Nativeamazed supporter of Miss Tox's
swooning formwhocoming straight upstairswith a polite inquiry
touching Miss Tox's health (in exact pursuance of the Major's
malicious instructions)had accidentally arrived in the very nick of
time to catch the delicate burden in his armsand to receive the
content' of the little watering-pot in his shoe; both of which
circumstancescoupled with his consciousness of being closely watched
by the wrathful Majorwho had threatened the usual penalty in regard
of every bone in his skin in case of any failurecombined to render
him a moving spectacle of mental and bodily distress.

For some momentsthis afflicted foreigner remained clasping Miss
Tox to his heartwith an energy of action in remarkable opposition to
his disconcerted facewhile that poor lady trickled slowly down upon
him the very last sprinklings of the little watering-potas if he
were a delicate exotic (which indeed he was)and might be almost
expected to blow while the gentle rain descended. Mrs Chickat length
recovering sufficient presence of mind to interposecommanded him to
drop Miss Tox upon the sofa and withdraw; and the exile promptly
obeyingshe applied herself to promote Miss Tox's recovery.

But none of that gentle concern which usually characterises the
daughters of Eve in their tending of each other; none of that
freemasonry in faintingby which they are generally bound together In
a mysterious bond of sisterhood; was visible in Mrs Chick's demeanour.
Rather like the executioner who restores the victim to sensation
previous to proceeding with the torture (or was wont to do soin the
good old times for which all true men wear perpetual mourning)did
Mrs Chick administer the smelling-bottlethe slapping on the hands
the dashing of cold water on the faceand the other proved remedies.
And whenat lengthMiss Tox opened her eyesand gradually became
restored to animation and consciousnessMrs Chick drew off as from a
criminaland reversing the precedent of the murdered king of Denmark
regarded her more in anger than In sorrow.'

'Lucretia!' said Mrs Chick 'I will not attempt to disguise what I
feel. My eyes are openedall at once. I wouldn't have believed this
if a Saint had told it to me.

'I am foolish to give way to faintness' Miss Tox faltered. 'I
shall be better presently.'

'You will be better presentlyLucretia!' repeated Mrs Chickwith
exceeding scorn. 'Do you suppose I am blind? Do you imagine I am in my
second childhood? NoLucretia! I am obliged to you!'

Miss Tox directed an imploringhelpless kind of look towards her
friendand put her handkerchief before her face.

'If anyone had told me this yesterday' said Mrs Chickwith
majesty'or even half-an-hour agoI should have been temptedI
almost believeto strike them to the earth. Lucretia Toxmy eyes are
opened to you all at once. The scales:' here Mrs Chick cast down an
imaginary pairsuch as are commonly used in grocers' shops: 'have


fallen from my sight. The blindness of my confidence is past
Lucretia. It has been abused and playeduponand evasion is quite
out of the question nowI assure you.

'Oh! to what do you allude so cruellymy love?' asked Miss Tox
through her tears.

'Lucretia' said Mrs Chick'ask your own heart. I must entreat you
not to address me by any such familiar term as you have just usedif
you please. I have some self-respect leftthough you may think
otherwise.'

'OhLouisa!' cried Miss Tox. 'How can you speak to me like that?'

'How can I speak to you like that?' retorted Mrs Chickwhoin
default of having any particular argument to sustain herself upon
relied principally on such repetitions for her most withering effects.
'Like that! You may well say like thatindeed!'

Miss Tox sobbed pitifully.

'The idea!' said Mrs Chick'of your having basked at my brother's
firesidelike a serpentand wound yourselfthrough mealmost into
his confidenceLucretiathat you mightin secretentertain designs
upon himand dare to aspire to contemplate the possibility of his
uniting himself to you! Whyit is an idea' said Mrs Chickwith
sarcastic dignity'the absurdity of which almost relieves its
treachery.'

'PrayLouisa' urged Miss Tox'do not say such dreadful things.'

'Dreadful things!' repeated Mrs Chick. 'Dreadful things! Is it not
a factLucretiathat you have just now been unable to command your
feelings even before mewhose eyes you had so completely closed?'

'I have made no complaint' sobbed Miss Tox. 'I have said nothing.
If I have been a little overpowered by your newsLouisaand have
ever had any lingering thought that Mr Dombey was inclined to be
particular towards mesurely you will not condemn me.'

'She is going to say' said Mrs Chickaddressing herself to the
whole of the furniturein a comprehensive glance of resignation and
appeal'She is going to say - I know it - that I have encouraged
her!'

'I don't wish to exchange reproachesdear Louisa' sobbed Miss Tox
'Nor do I wish to complain. Butin my own defence - '

'Yes' cried Mrs Chicklooking round the room with a prophetic
smile'that's what she's going to say. I knew it. You had better say
it. Say it openly! Be openLucretia Tox' said Mrs Chickwith
desperate sternness'whatever you are.'

'In my own defence' faltered Miss Tox'and only In my own defence
against your unkind wordsmy dear LouisaI would merely ask you if
you haven't often favoured such a fancyand even said it might
happenfor anything we could tell?'

'There is a point' said Mrs Chickrisingnot as if she were
going to stop at the floorbut as if she were about to soar uphigh
into her native skies'beyond which endurance becomes ridiculousif
not culpable. I can bear much; but not too much. What spell was on me
when I came into this house this dayI don't know; but I had a
presentiment - a dark presentiment' said Mrs Chickwith a shiver


'that something was going to happen. Well may I have had that
forebodingLucretiawhen my confidence of many years is destroyed in
an instantwhen my eyes are opened all at onceand when I find you
revealed in your true colours. LucretiaI have been mistaken in you.
It is better for us both that this subject should end here. I wish you
welland I shall ever wish you well. Butas an individual who
desires to be true to herself in her own poor positionwhatever that
position may beor may not be - and as the sister of my brother - and
as the sister-in-law of my brother's wife - and as a connexion by
marriage of my brother's wife's mother - may I be permitted to addas
a Dombey? - I can wish you nothing else but good morning.'

These wordsdelivered with cutting suavitytempered and chastened
by a lofty air of moral rectitudecarried the speaker to the door.
There she inclined her head in a ghostly and statue-like mannerand
so withdrew to her carriageto seek comfort and consolation in the
arms of Mr Chickher lord.

Figuratively speakingthat is to say; for the arms of Mr Chick
were full of his newspaper. Neither did that gentleman address his
eyes towards his wife otherwise than by stealth. Neither did he offer
any consolation whatever. In shorthe sat readingand humming fag
ends of tunesand sometimes glancing furtively at her without
delivering himself of a wordgoodbador indifferent.

In the meantime Mrs Chick sat swelling and bridlingand tossing
her headas if she were still repeating that solemn formula of
farewell to Lucretia Tox. At lengthshe said aloud'Oh the extent to
which her eyes had been opened that day!'

'To which your eyes have been openedmy dear!' repeated Mr Chick.

'Ohdon't talk to me!' said Mrs Chic 'if you can bear to see me in
this stateand not ask me what the matter isyou had better hold
your tongue for ever.'

'What is the mattermy dear?' asked Mr Chick

'To think' said Mrs Chickin a state of soliloquy'that she
should ever have conceived the base idea of connecting herself with
our family by a marriage with Paul! To think that when she was playing
at horses with that dear child who is now in his grave - I never liked
it at the time - she should have been hiding such a double-faced
design! I wonder she was never afraid that something would happen to
her. She is fortunate if nothing does.'

'I really thoughtmy dear' said Mr Chick slowlyafter rubbing
the bridge of his nose for some time with his newspaper'that you had
gone on the same tack yourselfall alonguntil this morning; and had
thought it would be a convenient thing enoughif it could have been
brought about.'

Mrs Chick instantly burst into tearsand told Mr Chick that if he
wished to trample upon her with his bootshe had better do It.

'But with Lucretia Tox I have done' said Mrs Chickafter
abandoning herself to her feelings for some minutesto Mr Chick's
great terror. 'I can bear to resign Paul's confidence in favour of one
whoI hope and trustmay be deserving of itand with whom he has a
perfect right to replace poor Fanny if he chooses; I can bear to be
informedIn Paul's cool mannerof such a change in his plansand
never to be consulted until all is settled and determined; but deceit
I can not bearand with Lucretia Tox I have done. It is better as it
is' said Mrs Chickpiously; 'much better. It would have been a long


time before I could have accommodated myself comfortably with her
after this; and I really don't knowas Paul is going to be very
grandand these are people of conditionthat she would have been
quite presentableand might not have compromised myself. There's a
providence in everything; everything works for the best; I have been
tried today but on the whole I do not regret it.'

In which Christian spiritMrs Chick dried her eyes and smoothed
her lapand sat as became a person calm under a great wrong. Mr Chick
feeling his unworthiness no doubttook an early opportunity of being
set down at a street corner and walking away whistlingwith his
shoulders very much raisedand his hands in his pockets.

While poor excommunicated Miss Toxwhoif she were a fawner and
toad-eaterwas at least an honest and a constant oneand had ever
borne a faithful friendship towards her impeacher and had been truly
absorbed and swallowed up in devotion to the magnificence of Mr Dombey

-while poor excommunicated Miss Tox watered her plants with her
tearsand felt that it was winter in Princess's Place.
CHAPTER 30.

The interval before the Marriage

Although the enchanted house was no moreand the working world had
broken into itand was hammering and crashing and tramping up and
down stairs all day long keeping Diogenes in an incessant paroxysm of
barkingfrom sunrise to sunset - evidently convinced that his enemy
had got the better of him at lastand was then sacking the premises
in triumphant defiance - there wasat firstno other great change in
the method of Florence's life. At nightwhen the workpeople went
awaythe house was dreary and deserted again; and Florencelistening
to their voices echoing through the hall and staircase as they
departedpictured to herself the cheerful homes to which the were
returningand the children who were waiting for themand was glad to
think that they were merry and well pleased to go.

She welcomed back the evening silence as an old friendbut it came
now with an altered faceand looked more kindly on her. Fresh hope
was in it. The beautiful lady who had soothed and carressed herin
the very room in which her heart had been so wrungwas a spirit of
promise to her. Soft shadows of the bright life dawningwhen her
father's affection should be gradually wonand allor much should be
restoredof what she had lost on the dark day when a mother's love
had faded with a mother's last breath on her cheekmoved about her in
the twilight and were welcome company. Peeping at the rosy children
her neighboursit was a new and precious sensation to think that they
might soon speak together and know each other; when she would not
fearas of oldto show herself before themlest they should be
grieved to see her in her black dress sitting there alone!

In her thoughts of her new motherand in the love and trust
overflowing her pure heart towards herFlorence loved her own dead
mother more and more. She had no fear of setting up a rival in her
breast. The new flower sprang from the deep-planted and long-cherished
rootshe knew. Every gentle word that had fallen from the lips of the
beautiful ladysounded to Florence like an echo of the voice long
hushed and silent. How could she love that memory less for living
tendernesswhen it was her memory of all parental tenderness and
love!


Florence wasone daysitting reading in her roomand thinking of
the lady and her promised visit soon - for her book turned on a
kindred subject - whenraising her eyesshe saw her standing in the
doorway.

'Mama!' cried Florencejoyfully meeting her. 'Come again!'

'Not Mama yet' returned the ladywith a serious smileas she
encircled Florence's neck with her arm.

'But very soon to be' cried Florence.

'Very soon nowFlorence: very soon.

Edith bent her head a littleso as to press the blooming cheek of
Florence against her ownand for some few moments remained thus
silent. There was something so very tender in her mannerthat
Florence was even more sensible of it than on the first occasion of
their meeting.

She led Florence to a chair beside herand sat down: Florence
looking in her facequite wondering at its beautyand willingly
leaving her hand In hers.

'Have you been aloneFlorencesince I was here last?'

'Oh yes!' smiled Florencehastily.

She hesitated and cast down her eyes; for her new Mama was very
earnest in her lookand the look was intently and thoughtfully fixed
upon her face.

'I - I- am used to be alone' said Florence. 'I don't mind it at
all. Di and I pass whole days togethersometimes.' Florence might
have saidwhole weeks and months.

'Is Di your maidlove?'

'My dogMama' said Florencelaughing. 'Susan is my maid.'

'And these are your rooms' said Edithlooking round. 'I was not
shown these rooms the other day. We must have them improvedFlorence.
They shall be made the prettiest in the house.'

'If I might change themMama' returned Florence; 'there is one
upstairs I should like much better.'

'Is this not high enoughdear girl?' asked Edithsmiling.

'The other was my brother's room' said Florence'and I am very
fond of it. I would have spoken to Papa about it when I came homeand
found the workmen hereand everything changing; but - '

Florence dropped her eyeslest the same look should make her
falter again.

'but I was afraid it might distress him; and as you said you would
be here again soonMamaand are the mistress of everythingI
determined to take courage and ask you.'

Edith sat looking at herwith her brilliant eyes intent upon her
faceuntil Florence raising her ownshein her turnwithdrew her
gazeand turned it on the ground. It was then that Florence thought


how different this lady's beauty wasfrom what she had supposed. She
had thought it of a proud and lofty kind; yet her manner was so
subdued and gentlethat if she had been of Florence's own age and
characterit scarcely could have invited confidence more.

Except when a constrained and singular reserve crept over her; and
then she seemed (but Florence hardly understood thisthough she could
not choose but notice itand think about it) as if she were humbled
before Florenceand ill at ease. When she had said that she was not
her Mama yetand when Florence had called her the mistress of
everything therethis change in her was quick and startling; and now
while the eyes of Florence rested on her faceshe sat as though she
would have shrunk and hidden from herrather than as one about to
love and cherish herin right of such a near connexion.

She gave Florence her ready promiseabout her new roomand said
she would give directions about it herself. She then asked some
questions concerning poor Paul; and when they had sat in conversation
for some timetold Florence she had come to take her to her own home.

'We have come to London nowmy mother and I' said Edith'and you
shall stay with us until I am married. I wish that we should know and
trust each otherFlorence.'

'You are very kind to me' said Florence'dear Mama. How much I
thank you!'

'Let me say nowfor it may be the best opportunity' continued
Edithlooking round to see that they were quite aloneand speaking
in a lower voice'that when I am marriedand have gone away for some
weeksI shall be easier at heart if you will come home here. No
matter who invites you to stay elsewhere. Come home here. It is better
to be alone than - what I would say is' she addedchecking herself
'that I know well you are best at homedear Florence.'

'I will come home on the very dayMama'

'Do so. I rely on that promise. Nowprepare to come with medear
girl. You will find me downstairs when you are ready.'

Slowly and thoughtfully did Edith wander alone through the mansion
of which she was so soon to be the lady: and little heed took she of
all the elegance and splendour it began to display. The same
indomitable haughtiness of soulthe same proud scorn expressed in eye
and lipthe same fierce beautyonly tamed by a sense of its own
little worthand of the little worth of everything around itwent
through the grand saloons and hallsthat had got loose among the
shady treesand raged and rent themselves. The mimic roses on the
walls and floors were set round with sharp thornsthat tore her
breast; in every scrap of gold so dazzling to the eyeshe saw some
hateful atom of her purchase-money; the broad high mirrors showed her
at full lengtha woman with a noble quality yet dwelling in her
naturewho was too false to her better selfand too debased and
lostto save herself. She believed that all this was so plainmore
or lessto all eyesthat she had no resource or power of
self-assertion but in pride: and with this pridewhich tortured her
own heart night and dayshe fought her fate outbraved itand
defied it.

Was this the woman whom Florence - an innocent girlstrong only in
her earnestness and simple truth - could so impress and quellthat by
her side she was another creaturewith her tempest of passion hushed
and her very pride itself subdued? Was this the woman who now sat
beside her in a carriagewith her arms entwinedand whowhile she


courted and entreated her to love and trust herdrew her fair head to
nestle on her breastand would have laid down life to shield it from
wrong or harm?

OhEdith! it were well to dieindeedat such a time! Better and
happier farperhapsto die soEdiththan to live on to the end!

The Honourable Mrs Skewtonwho was thinking of anything rather
than of such sentiments - forlike many genteel persons who have
existed at various timesshe set her face against death altogether
and objected to the mention o