The Wedding

     Dawn with its  passionless blank face,  steals shivering  to the church
beneath which  lies the dust of little Paul and  his mother, and looks in at
the windows. It is cold and dark. Night crouches yet, upon the pavement, and
broods, sombre and  heavy,  in  nooks  and  corners  of  the  building.  The
steeple-clock, perched up above the houses, emerging from beneath another of
the  countless ripples  in the tide of time that regularly roll and break on
the eternal shore, is greyly visible, like a stone beacon, recording how the
sea flows on; but within doors, dawn, at first, can  only peep at night, and
see that it is there.
     Hovering feebly round the  church, and looking in, dawn moans and weeps
for  its short  reign, and  its tears  trickle on the  window-glass, and the
trees against the church-wall bow their heads, and wring their many hands in
sympathy. Night, growing  pale before it, gradually fades out of the church,
but lingers  in  the  vaults below, and sits upon the coffins. And now comes
bright  day,  burnishing  the steeple-clock,  and reddening  the spire,  and
drying  up the tears  of dawn, and stifling  its  complaining; and the dawn,
following the  night, and chasing it from its  last refuge, shrinks into the
vaults itself and hides, with a frightened face, among the dead, until night
returns, refreshed, to drive it out.
     And  now,  the mice, who  have been  busier with  the prayer-books than
their proper owners, and with the hassocks, more worn  by their little teeth
than by human knees, hide their bright eyes in their holes, and gather close
together in affright at  the resounding clashing of the church-door. For the
beadle, that man of power, comes early this morning with the sexton; and Mrs
Miff, the wheezy little pew-opener - a mighty dry old lady, sparely dressed,
with not an inch of fulness anywhere about  her - is also here, and has been
waiting at the church-gate half-an-hour, as her place is, for the beadle.
     A vinegary face has Mrs Miff, and a mortified bonnet, and eke a thirsty
soul for  sixpences and shillings. Beckoning  to stray people  to  come into
pews, has given Mrs Miff an air of mystery;  and there is reservation in the
eye  of  Mrs  Miff,  as  always  knowing  of a  softer  seat, but having her
suspicions of the fee. There is no such fact as Mr Miff, nor has there been,
these twenty  years,  and Mrs  Miff would rather  not allude to him. He held
some  bad  opinions,  it would  seem, about free seats;  and though Mrs Miff
hopes he may be gone upwards, she couldn't positively undertake to say so.
     Busy is Mrs  Miff  this morning at the church-door, beating and dusting
the altar-cloth, the carpet, and the cushions; and much has Mrs Miff to say,
about  the wedding  they are going to have. Mrs Miff  is told, that  the new
furniture and alterations in the house cost full five thousand pound if they
cost a penny; and Mrs Miff has heard, upon the best authority, that the lady
hasn't got a sixpence wherewithal to bless herself. Mrs Miff remembers, like
wise,  as if it had happened yesterday, the first  wife's  funeral, and then
the christening, and  then the other  funeral; and Mrs Miff says, by-the-bye
she'll  soap-and-water  that  'ere tablet  presently,  against  the  company
arrive. Mr  Sownds  the  Beadle, who is  sitting  in the sun upon the church
steps all this time (and seldom does anything else, except, in cold weather,
sitting by the fire), approves of Mrs Miff's discourse, and asks if Mrs Miff
has heard it said, that the  lady is uncommon handsome?  The information Mrs
Miff  has received, being of this  nature, Mr Sownds the Beadle, who, though
orthodox and corpulent, is still an admirer of female beauty, observes, with
unction, yes, he hears she is a spanker - an expression that  seems somewhat
forcible to Mrs Miff, or  would, from any lips but  those of  Mr Sownds  the
Beadle.
     In  Mr Dombey's  house, at this  same  time,  there  is  great stir and
bustle, more especially  among the  women: not one of whom has had a wink of
sleep since four o'clock, and all of  whom were fully dressed before six. Mr
Towlinson is an object of greater consideration than usual to the housemaid,
and  the cook  says at breakfast time that one wedding makes many, which the
housemaid can't believe,  and don't think true at all. Mr Towlinson reserves
his sentiments on  this question;  being  rendered  something gloomy by  the
engagement of  a  foreigner  with  whiskers  (Mr  Towlinson  is  whiskerless
himself), who has been hired to  accompany the happy  pair to Paris, and who
is busy packing the new chariot. In respect of this personage, Mr  Towlinson
admits,  presently,  that  he never  knew of  any  good  that ever  come  of
foreigners; and being  charged by  the ladies  with prejudice, says, look at
Bonaparte  who was at the head  of 'em,  and see what  he was always up  to!
Which the housemaid says is very true.
     The pastry-cook is hard at  work in the funereal  room in Brook Street,
and the very tall young men are busy looking on. One of the very tall  young
men already smells  of sherry, and his eyes have a tendency to become  fixed
in  his  head, and to  stare at objects without seeing  them. The very  tall
young  man is conscious of this failing in himself; and informs his  comrade
that it's his 'exciseman.' The very tall young man would say excitement, but
his speech is hazy.
     The men who play  the  bells have got  scent of the  marriage;  and the
marrow-bones and  cleavers  too; and  a  brass  band  too.  The  first,  are
practising  in  a  back  settlement   near  Battlebridge;  the  second,  put
themselves in communication, through their chief, with Mr Towlinson, to whom
they offer terms to be bought off; and the third, in the person of an artful
trombone,  lurks  and dodges  round the  corner,  waiting for  some  traitor
tradesman  to  reveal  the  place  and  hour  of  breakfast,  for  a  bribe.
Expectation and excitement extend further yet,  and take a wider range. From
Balls Pond,  Mr Perch brings Mrs  Perch to spend the  day with  Mr  Dombey's
servants, and accompany them,  surreptitiously, to  see the  wedding.  In Mr
Toots's lodgings,  Mr  Toots  attires  himself as if  he were at  least  the
Bridegroom; determined to behold the  spectacle in splendour  from a  secret
corner  of  the gallery, and thither  to convey  the Chicken:  for  it is Mr
Toots's desperate intent to point out  Florence to  the  Chicken,  then  and
there, and openly to  say, 'Now, Chicken, I will not deceive you any longer;
the friend I have  sometimes mentioned to you is myself;  Miss Dombey is the
object of my passion; what are your  opinions,  Chicken,  in  this  state of
things,  and what, on the spot, do you advise? The  so-much-to-be-astonished
Chicken,  in the meanwhile, dips his beak into a tankard  of strong beer, in
Mr Toots's  kitchen,  and pecks up two  pounds of beefsteaks.  In Princess's
Place, Miss Tox is  up and doing;  for she too, though  in sore distress, is
resolved  to put  a shilling in the  hands of Mrs Miff, and see the ceremony
which has a cruel fascination for her, from some lonely corner. The quarters
of  the  wooden  Midshipman  are  all  alive;  for  Captain Cuttle,  in  his
ankle-jacks  and  with  a  huge  shirt-collar, is  seated  at his breakfast,
listening  to  Rob  the Grinder as  he  reads  the  marriage service  to him
beforehand,  under  orders,  to the  end  that  the  Captain  may  perfectly
understand  the solemnity he  is about to  witness:  for  which purpose, the
Captain gravely lays injunctions on his chaplain, from time to time, to 'put
about,'  or  to  'overhaul that 'ere article again,' or  to stick to his own
duty, and leave  the Amens  to him, the  Captain;  one  of which he repeats,
whenever a pause is made by Rob the Grinder, with sonorous satisfaction.
     Besides all this,  and  much more,  twenty nursery-maids in Mr Dombey's
street   alone,  have  promised  twenty  families  of  little  women,  whose
instinctive interest in nuptials dates from their cradles,  that  they shall
go and see the marriage. Truly, Mr Sownds the Beadle has good reason to feel
himself in office, as he suns his portly figure on the church steps, waiting
for the marriage hour. Truly, Mrs  Miff has cause  to  pounce on  an unlucky
dwarf child, with a giant baby,  who  peeps in at the  porch, and drive  her
forth with indignation!
     Cousin  Feenix  has  come  over  from  abroad, expressly to  attend the
marriage. Cousin Feenix  was a man  about town, forty years  ago; but  he is
still  so  juvenile  in figure  and  in manner,  and  so  well got  up, that
strangers are amazed when they  discover  latent wrinkles  in his lordship's
face, and crows'  feet  in his eyes:  and  first  observe him,  not  exactly
certain when he walks across a  room, of  going  quite straight to where  he
wants to go. But Cousin Feenix, getting up at half-past seven o'clock or so,
is quite another thing from  Cousin  Feenix got up; and very dim, indeed, he
looks, while being shaved at Long's Hotel, in Bond Street.
     Mr  Dombey leaves his dressing-room, amidst a general  whisking away of
the women on the  staircase, who  disperse in  all  directions, with a great
rustling of skirts, except Mrs Perch, who, being (but that she always is) in
an interesting situation, is  not nimble, and is obliged to face him, and is
ready  to sink with confusion as she  curtesys; - may Heaven avert all  evil
consequences   from  the  house  of  Perch!  Mr   Dombey  walks  up  to  the
drawing-room, to bide  his  time.  Gorgeous are  Mr Dombey's new blue  coat,
fawn-coloured pantaloons, and  lilac waistcoat; and a whisper goes about the
house, that Mr Dombey's hair is curled.
     A double knock announces the arrival of the Major, who is gorgeous too,
and wears a whole geranium in his button-hole, and has his hair curled tight
and crisp, as well the Native knows.
     'Dombey!' says the Major, putting out both hands, 'how are you?'
     'Major,' says Mr Dombey, 'how are You?'
     'By Jove, Sir,' says the Major, 'Joey B. is in such  case this morning,
Sir,' - and  here he hits himself hard upon the breast - 'In such  case this
morning, Sir,  that, damme, Dombey,  he  has  half  a mind to make  a double
marriage of it, Sir, and take the mother.'
     Mr Dombey  smiles; but faintly,  even for him; for Mr Dombey feels that
he   is  going  to  be  related  to  the  mother,  and   that,  under  those
circumstances, she is not to be joked about.
     'Dombey,' says the Major, seeing this, 'I give you joy. I  congratulate
you, Dombey. By the Lord, Sir,' says the Major,  'you are more to be envied,
this day, than any man in England!'
     Here  again  Mr Dombey's assent is  qualified;  because he is  going to
confer a  great  distinction  on a lady; and, no doubt, she  is to be envied
most.
     'As to Edith Granger, Sir,' pursues the Major, 'there is not a woman in
all Europe but might - and would, Sir, you will allow  Bagstock to add - and
would- give her  ears,  and her  earrings,  too, to be  in  Edith  Granger's
place.'
     'You are good enough to say so, Major,' says Mr Dombey.
     'Dombey,'  returns  the  Major,  'you  know it. Let  us have  no  false
delicacy. You  know  it. Do you know  it, or  do you not, Dombey?' says  the
Major, almost in a passion.
     'Oh, really, Major - '
     'Damme, Sir,' retorts the Major, 'do you know that fact, or do you not?
Dombey!  Is  old  Joe  your  friend? Are we  on  that  footing of unreserved
intimacy, Dombey, that may  justify a man -  a blunt old Joseph B., Sir - in
speaking out; or am I to take open order,  Dombey, and  to keep my distance,
and to stand on forms?'
     'My  dear Major Bagstock,' says Mr Dombey,  with  a gratified air, 'you
are quite warm.'
     'By Gad,  Sir,' says the Major, 'I am warm. Joseph B. does not deny it,
Dombey.  He is warm. This is  an  occasion,  Sir,  that calls forth  all the
honest   sympathies  remaining  in  an  old,  infernal,  battered,  used-up,
invalided, J. B. carcase. And I tell you what, Dombey - at such a time a man
must blurt out what he feels, or put a muzzle on; and  Joseph Bagstock tells
you  to your face, Dombey,  as he tells his  club behind  your back, that he
never will be muzzled  when Paul  Dombey is  in question. Now,  damme, Sir,'
concludes the Major, with great firmness, 'what do you make of that?'
     'Major,' says Mr Dombey, 'I assure you that I am really obliged to you.
I had no idea of checking your too partial friendship.'
     'Not too partial, Sir!'  exclaims  the choleric Major. 'Dombey, I  deny
it.'
     'Your friendship I will say then,'  pursues Mr Dombey, 'on any account.
Nor can I  forget, Major,  on such an occasion as the present, how much I am
indebted to it.'
     'Dombey,' says the Major, with appropriate action, 'that is the hand of
Joseph Bagstock: of plain old Joey B., Sir, if you like that better! That is
the  hand, of which His Royal  Highness the  late Duke of York,  did me  the
honour to observe, Sir, to His Royal Highness the late Duke of Kent, that it
was the hand  of Josh: a  rough and  tough, and possibly an up-to-snuff, old
vagabond. Dombey, may the  present moment be the least unhappy of our lives.
God bless you!'
     Now  enters   Mr  Carker,  gorgeous  likewise,   and   smiling  like  a
wedding-guest indeed.  He can  scarcely let Mr Dombey's  hand go, he  is  so
congratulatory; and he shakes the Major's hand so heartily at the same time,
that his voice shakes too, in accord with his arms, as it comes sliding from
between his teeth.
     'The very  day  is auspicious,' says Mr Carker. 'The brightest and most
genial weather! I hope I am not a moment late?'
     'Punctual to your time, Sir,' says the Major.
     'I am  rejoiced, I am sure,' says Mr Carker. 'I was afraid I might be a
few seconds after  the appointed time, for I was delayed by  a procession of
waggons;  and I  took the liberty of riding round to Brook Street' - this to
Mr  Dombey - 'to leave a few poor rarities of flowers for Mrs Dombey. A  man
in my  position,  and so distinguished as to  be invited  here,  is proud to
offer some homage in acknowledgment of his vassalage: and as I have no doubt
Mrs  Dombey is overwhelmed with what  is  costly  and  magnificent;'  with a
strange glance at  his patron; 'I  hope the very poverty of my offering, may
find favour for it.'
     'Mrs Dombey, that is to be,' returns  Mr Dombey, condescendingly, 'will
be very sensible of your attention, Carker, I am sure.'
     'And  if she is to be Mrs  Dombey  this morning, Sir,'  says the Major,
putting down  his coffee-cup, and looking  at  his watch, 'it's high time we
were off!'
     Forth, in a barouche, ride Mr Dombey, Major Bagstock, and Mr Carker, to
the  church. Mr Sownds the Beadle  has long risen from the  steps, and is in
waiting  with his  cocked hat  in  his hand. Mrs  Miff curtseys and proposes
chairs in the vestry. Mr Dombey prefers remaining in the church. As he looks
up at the organ, Miss Tox in the  gallery shrinks  behind  the fat leg of  a
cherubim on a monument,  with  cheeks like a young  Wind. Captain Cuttle, on
the  contrary, stands  up  and  waves  his  hook, in  token  of welcome  and
encouragement.  Mr  Toots  informs the  Chicken, behind his  hand,  that the
middle gentleman, he in the fawn-coloured pantaloons, is  the  father of his
love.  The  Chicken hoarsely whispers Mr Toots that he's as stiff a  cove as
ever he see,  but that it is within  the resources  of Science to double him
up, with one blow in the waistcoat.
     Mr Sownds  and  Mrs Miff are eyeing Mr Dombey  from a  little distance,
when the noise  of approaching  wheels is heard, and Mr Sownds goes out. Mrs
Miff,  meeting Mr  Dombey's  eye  as  it is withdrawn  from the presumptuous
maniac upstairs, who salutes him with so much urbanity, drops a curtsey, and
informs him  that she  believes his 'good lady'  is  come. Then  there is  a
crowding and a whispering at  the  door, and the  good lady  enters,  with a
haughty step.
     There is no sign upon her face, of last  night's suffering; there is no
trace  in her manner, of the woman on  the  bended knees, reposing  her wild
head, in beautiful abandonment, upon the pillow  of the  sleeping girl. That
girl, all gentle and lovely, is at her side - a striking contrast to her own
disdainful and defiant figure, standing there, composed, erect,  inscrutable
of will,  resplendent and majestic in the zenith of  its charms, yet beating
down, and treading on, the admiration that it challenges.
     There is a pause while Mr Sownds the Beadle glides into the  vestry for
the clergyman and clerk. At this juncture, Mrs Skewton speaks to  Mr Dombey:
more distinctly and emphatically than  her custom is, and moving at the same
time, close to Edith.
     'My dear Dombey,' said the good Mama, 'I fear I must relinquish darling
Florence  after  all, and suffer her to go home,  as she  herself  proposed.
After my loss of to-day, my dear  Dombey, I feel I shall  not  have spirits,
even for her society.'
     'Had she not better stay with you?' returns the Bridegroom.
     'I think not, my dear Dombey. No, I think not. I shall be better alone.
Besides, my dearest Edith will be her natural and constant guardian when you
return, and I had better  not encroach upon her trust, perhaps. She might be
jealous. Eh, dear Edith?'
     The  affectionate  Mama presses  her daughter's arm,  as she says this;
perhaps entreating her attention earnestly.
     'To be  serious, my dear Dombey,'  she resumes, 'I will relinquish  our
dear child,  and not inflict my gloom upon  her. We have settled  that, just
now. She  fully  understands,  dear  Dombey.  Edith,  my  dear, -  she fully
understands.'
     Again, the good mother presses her  daughter's arm. Mr Dombey offers no
additional  remonstrance;  for the clergyman and clerk appear; and Mrs Miff,
and  Mr  Sownds the Beadle,  group  the party in their proper  places at the
altar rails.
     The  sun  is  shining   down,  upon  the  golden  letters  of  the  ten
commandments. Why does  the Bride's eye read them,  one by one? Which one of
all  the ten appears  the plainest to her in the glare of light? False Gods;
murder;  theft; the honour that  she owes  her mother;  -  which is it  that
appears to  leave the wall, and printing itself in glowing  letters,  on her
book!
     "Who giveth this woman to be married to this man?"'
     Cousin  Feenix  does that.  He  has come  from  Baden-Baden on purpose.
'Confound it,' Cousin  Feenix says  - good-natured creature, Cousin Feenix -
'when  we  do  get a rich City fellow into the family, let us show him  some
attention; let  us do something for him.' I give this woman to be married to
this man,' saith Cousin Feenix therefore. Cousin Feenix, meaning to go in  a
straight line, but turning off sideways by reason of his wilful  legs, gives
the wrong woman to be married to this man, at first - to wit, a brides- maid
of some condition, distantly connected with the family,  and  ten  years Mrs
Skewton's  junior  -  but  Mrs  Miff,  interposing   her  mortified  bonnet,
dexterously turns him back, and runs him, as on  castors, full at  the 'good
lady:' whom  Cousin Feenix giveth  to married to  this man accordingly.  And
will they in the sight of heaven - ? Ay, that  they  will: Mr Dombey says he
will. And what says Edith?  She will. So, from that day forward,  for better
for worse, for richer for poorer, in sickness and in health, to  love and to
cherish,  till death do them part, they  plight  their troth to one another,
and are  married. In a firm, free hand, the Bride subscribes her name in the
register, when  they adjourn to the vestry. 'There ain't a many ladies  come
here,' Mrs Miff says with a curtsey - to look at Mrs Miff, at such a season,
is to make her mortified bonnet go down with a dip - writes their names like
this  good  lady!'  Mr  Sownds  the Beadle  thinks  it is  a truly  spanking
signature,  and worthy of the writer  - this, however,  between  himself and
conscience. Florence signs too, but unapplauded,  for her  hand shakes.  All
the party sign; Cousin Feenix last;  who puts his  noble  name  into a wrong
place,  and  enrols himself  as having been born that morning. The Major now
salutes the Bride  right gallantly, and  carries out that branch of military
tactics in reference to  all the ladies: notwithstanding Mrs Skewton's being
extremely  hard to  kiss,  and squeaking  shrilly in the sacred edIfice. The
example  is followed by Cousin. Feenix and  even by  Mr  Dombey.  Lastly, Mr
Carker,  with  hIs white teeth glistening, approaches Edith, more  as if  he
meant to bite her, than to taste the sweets that linger on her lips.
     There is a  glow upon her proud cheek, and a flashing in her eyes, that
may be meant  to  stay him; but it does not, for he salutes her as  the rest
have done, and wishes her all happiness.
     'If  wishes,'  says he in a low voice, 'are not superfluous, applied to
such a union.'
     'I  thank you, Sir,' she  answers, with  a curled  lip, and  a  heaving
bosom.
     But, does  Edith  feel still, as on the night  when  she  knew  that Mr
Dombey would return to offer his alliance, that Carker knows her thoroughly,
and reads her right, and  that she is more degraded by his knowledge of her,
than  by aught else?  Is  it  for this reason that her  haughtiness  shrinks
beneath his smile, like  snow  within the hands  that  grasps it firmly, and
that her imperious glance droops In meeting his, and seeks the ground?
     'I am proud to see,' said  Mr Carker,  with  a  servile stooping of his
neck, which  the revelations  making by his eyes and teeth proclaim to be  a
lie,  'I am proud to see that  my  humble offering is graced by Mrs Dombey's
hand, and permitted to hold so favoured a place in so joyful an occasion.'
     Though  she  bends her  head,  in  answer, there  is something  in  the
momentary action of  her hand, as if she  would crush the  flowers it holds,
and  fling  them, with contempt, upon  the ground.  But, she  puts  the hand
through  the arm  of her new husband, who has been standing near, conversing
with the Major, and is proud again, and motionless, and silent.
     The carriages are once more at  the church  door.  Mr  Dombey, with his
bride upon his arm, conducts her through the twenty families of little women
who are on the steps,  and every one  of whom remembers the  fashion and the
colour of her every  article of dress from that moment, and reproduces it on
her doll, who  is for  ever being married. Cleopatra and Cousin Feenix enter
the same carriage. The Major hands into a second carriage, Florence, and the
bridesmaid who so  narrowly escaped being given away  by  mistake, and  then
enters it  himself, and is followed by Mr  Carker. Horses prance and  caper;
coachmen and  footmen  shine in  fluttering favours, flowers,  and  new-made
liveries. Away  they dash and  rattle through the streets; and as  they pass
along,  a thousand heads  are turned to look at them, and a  thousand  sober
moralists  revenge themselves  for not being married  too,  that morning, by
reflecting that these people little think such happiness can't last.
     Miss Tox emerges from behind the cherubim's leg, when all is quiet, and
comes  slowly down  from  the  gallery.  Miss Tox's  eyes  are  red, and her
pocket-handkerchief  is damp. She is wounded, but not exasperated,  and  she
hopes they may be  happy.  She quite  admits to  herself the  beauty of  the
bride,  and  her own  comparatively feeble and  faded  attractions; but  the
stately image  of  Mr Dombey in his  lilac waistcoat, and  his fawn-coloured
pantaloons,  is present to her mind, and  Miss Tox weeps  afresh, behind her
veil, on her way home to Princess's Place. Captain Cuttle, having  joined in
all the amens and responses, with a devout growl, feels much improved by his
religious  exercises; and in  a peaceful frame of  mind pervades the body of
the church, glazed hat in hand, and reads the tablet to the memory of little
Paul.  The gallant  Mr Toots,  attended by the faithful  Chicken, leaves the
building in torments  of love.  The Chicken is as yet  unable to elaborate a
scheme  for winning  Florence,  but his  first idea has gained possession of
him, and he thinks the doubling up of Mr Dombey would be a move in the right
direction. Mr Dombey's servants come out of their hiding-places, and prepare
to rush to Brook Street, when they are delayed by symptoms  of indisposition
on  the part  of Mrs Perch,  who  entreats  a  glass of water,  and  becomes
alarming; Mrs Perch gets better  soon, however, and  is borne away; and  Mrs
Miff,  and Mr Sownds the Beadle, sit upon the steps to count  what they have
gained by the affair, and talk it over, while the sexton tolls a funeral.
     Now,  the carriages arrive at the Bride's residence, and the players on
the bells begin to jingle, and the band strikes up, and Mr Punch, that model
of  connubial bliss,  salutes  his  wife. Now, the people run, and push, and
press  round in a gaping throng, while Mr  Dombey, leading Mrs Dombey by the
hand, advances solemnly into the  Feenix Halls. Now, the rest of the wedding
party alight, and enter after them. And why does  Mr Carker, passing through
the people to the hall-door, think of the old woman who called to him in the
Grove  that morning?  Or why does Florence,  as  she passes,  think, with  a
tremble, of her childhood,  when she was lost, and of the visage of Good Mrs
Brown?
     Now, there are more congratulations  on this happiest of days, and more
company,  though  not much; and now  they leave  the drawing-room, and range
themselves at table in the dark-brown dining-room, which no confectioner can
brighten  up, let him garnish the exhausted negroes with as many flowers and
love-knots as he will.
     The pastry-cook  has  done  his  duty  like  a man, though,  and a rich
breakfast  is  set  forth.  Mr and Mrs  Chick  have joined the party,  among
others. Mrs Chick admires that Edith should be,  by  nature,  such a perfect
Dombey;  and is  affable and confidential to  Mrs  Skewton,  whose  mind  is
relieved of a great load, and who takes her share of the champagne. The very
tall young man who  suffered  from excitement early, is better; but a  vague
sentiment  of  repentance has seized upon  him, and he hates  the other very
tall young man, and  wrests dishes from him  by violence, and  takes a  grim
delight in  disobliging the company. The  company are cool and calm, and  do
not outrage the black hatchments  of pictures looking down upon them, by any
excess of  mirth. Cousin Feenix and  the Major are the gayest there;  but Mr
Carker has a smile  for the  whole  table. He  has an especial smile for the
Bride, who very, very seldom meets it.
     Cousin  Feenix  rises, when  the  company  have  breakfasted,  and  the
servants have left the room; and wonderfully young he looks,  with his white
wristbands almost  covering his hands (otherwise rather bony), and the bloom
of the champagne in his cheeks.
     'Upon my honour,' says Cousin Feenix, 'although it's an unusual sort of
thing in a private gentleman's house, I must beg  leave to call  upon you to
drink what is usually called a - in fact a toast.
     The Major very hoarsely indicates his  approval. Mr Carker, bending his
head forward over the table in  the direction of Cousin  Feenix,  smiles and
nods a great many times.
     'A - in fact it's not a - ' Cousin  Feenix beginning again, thus, comes
to a dead stop.
     'Hear, hear!' says the Major, in a tone of conviction.
     Mr Carker softly  claps  his hands, and bending forward over the  table
again, smiles  and nods a great many more times than  before,  as if he were
particularly struck  by  this  last  observation, and desired personally  to
express his sense of the good it has done
     'It  is,' says Cousin  Feenix, 'an occasion in  fact, when the  general
usages of  life  may  be a  little  departed from, without impropriety;  and
although I never was an orator in  my life, and when I  was  in the House of
Commons, and had the  honour  of seconding  the  address, was - in fact, was
laid up for a fortnight with the consciousness of failure - '
     The Major  and Mr  Carker are  so  much delighted by  this  fragment of
personal  history,   that  Cousin  Feenix   laughs,  and   addressing   them
individually, goes on to say:
     'And in point  of fact,  when I was devilish  ill - still, you know,  I
feel  that  a  duty devolves upon  me.  And  when a duty  devolves  upon  an
Englishman, he is bound to get out of it, in my opinion, in  the best way he
can.  Well!  our  family  has had the gratification, to-day,  of  connecting
itself, in the person of my lovely and accomplished relative, whom I now see
- in point of fact, present - '
     Here there is general applause.
     'Present,' repeats Cousin Feenix, feeling that it is a neat point which
will bear repetition, - 'with one who - that is to say, with a  man, at whom
the finger of  scorn can never - in fact,  with my honourable friend Dombey,
if he will allow me to call him so.'
     Cousin  Feenix bows to  Mr Dombey; Mr Dombey  solemnly returns the bow;
everybody is more or less gratified and affected by  this extraordinary, and
perhaps unprecedented, appeal to the feelings.
     'I have not,'  says Cousin Feenix, 'enjoyed those opportunities which I
could have desired, of cultivating the acquaintance of my friend Dombey, and
studying those qualities which do equal honour to his head, and, in point of
fact, to his heart; for it has been my misfortune  to be,  as we used to say
in my time in the House of Commons, when it was not  the custom to allude to
the Lords, and  when  the  order of parliamentary  proceedings  was  perhaps
better observed than it is now - to be in - in  point of fact,' says  Cousin
Feenix, cherishing his joke, with great slyness, and finally bringing it out
with a jerk, "'in another place!"'
     The Major falls into convulsions, and is recovered with difficulty.
     'But I know sufficient of my friend Dombey,' resumes Cousin Feenix in a
graver tone, as if he had suddenly become  a sadder  and wiser man' 'to know
that he is, in point of fact, what may be emphatically called a - a merchant
- a British merchant - and a - and a man. And  although I have been resident
abroad, for some years (it would give me great pleasure to receive my friend
Dombey, and  everybody here, at Baden-Baden, and  to have  an opportunity of
making 'em  known to the Grand Duke), still I know enough, I flatter myself,
of my lovely  and accomplished  relative,  to know that she  possesses every
requisite  to make a man happy, and that her  marriage with my friend Dombey
is one of inclination and affection on both sides.'
     Many smiles and nods from Mr Carker.
     'Therefore,'  says Cousin Feenix, 'I congratulate the family of which I
am  a  member, on the  acquisition  of  my friend Dombey.  I congratulate my
friend Dombey  on his  union with  my lovely  and  accomplished relative who
possesses every requisite to make a  man  happy;  and I take  the liberty of
calling on you all, in  point of fact, to congratulate both my friend Dombey
and my lovely and accomplished relative, on the present occasion.'
     The speech  of Cousin Feenix is  received with great  applause,  and Mr
Dombey  returns thanks on behalf  of himself and  Mrs Dombey.  J. B. shortly
afterwards proposes Mrs Skewton. The breakfast languishes when that is done,
the  violated  hatchments  are  avenged,  and  Edith  rises  to  assume  her
travelling dress.
     All  the  servants  in  the  meantime, have  been  breakfasting  below.
Champagne has grown too common among them to be mentioned, and  roast fowls,
raised pies, and lobster-salad, have become mere drugs. The very tall  young
man  has recovered  his spirits, and  again alludes  to  the  exciseman. His
comrade's eye begins  to emulate his  own, and  he, too,  stares  at objects
without  taking cognizance thereof.  There is a general redness in the faces
of the ladies;  in the  face of  Mrs Perch  particularly, who is  joyous and
beaming, and lifted so far  above the cares of life, that  if she were asked
just now to direct a wayfarer to Ball's Pond, where her own cares lodge, she
would have some difficulty in  recalling the  way. Mr Towlinson has proposed
the happy pair; to which the silver-headed butler has  responded neatly, and
with  emotion; for  he  half begins  to  think he is an old retainer  of the
family,  and that  he is bound  to be  affected by these changes. The  whole
party, and especially the ladies, are very frolicsome. Mr Dombey's cook, who
generally takes  the lead in society,  has  said, it is impossible to settle
down after this, and why not  go, in a party,  to the  play? Everybody  (Mrs
Perch included) has agreed to  this; even the Native, who is tigerish in his
drink, and  who alarms the ladies (Mrs Perch particularly) by the rolling of
his eyes. One of the very tall young men has even proposed a ball  after the
play, and it  presents itself to no one (Mrs Perch included) in the light of
an impossibility. Words have arisen  between the housemaid and Mr Towlinson;
she,  on  the authority of an old  saw,  asserting  marriages to be made  in
Heaven: he, affecting to trace the manufacture elsewhere; he, supposing that
she says so, because she thinks of  being married her own self: she, saying,
Lord forbid, at  any  rate,  that  she should ever marry him. To  calm these
flying taunts, the  silver-headed butler rises to propose  the health  of Mr
Towlinson, whom to know is to esteem, and to  esteem is to wish well settled
in life  with  the  object of his choice,  wherever (here the  silver-headed
butler  eyes  the housemaid) she may be. Mr  Towlinson returns  thanks in  a
speech  replete  with  feeling, of which the peroration turns on foreigners,
regarding whom he  says  they may  find  favour, sometimes,  with  weak  and
inconstant intellects that can be led away by hair, but all he hopes, is, he
may never hear  of  no  foreigner  never boning nothing out of no travelling
chariot.  The eye  of Mr Towlinson is so severe and so expressive here, that
the housemaid is turning  hysterical, when  she and all  the rest, roused by
the intelligence that the Bride is going away, hurry upstairs to witness her
departure.
     The chariot is at the door; the Bride is  descending to the hall, where
Mr Dombey waits for  her. Florence  is ready on the staircase to depart too;
and Miss Nipper,  who has held a  middle state between  the parlour  and the
kitchen,  is  prepared to accompany her. As  Edith appears, Florence hastens
towards her, to bid her farewell.
     Is Edith cold, that she should tremble! Is there anything unnatural  or
unwholesome in the touch  of  Florence, that the beautiful form recedes  and
contracts, as if it could not bear  it! Is there so much hurry in this going
away, that Edith, with a wave of her hand, sweeps on, and is gone!
     Mrs Skewton, overpowered by her feelings as a mother, sinks on her sofa
in the Cleopatra  attitude, when the clatter of the chariot wheels  is lost,
and sheds several tears. The Major, coming with the rest of the company from
table,  endeavours to comfort  her; but  she  will  not be comforted on  any
terms,  and so the Major takes his leave. Cousin Feenix takes his leave, and
Mr Carker  takes  his leave. The guests all go away. Cleopatra, left  alone,
feels a little giddy from her strong emotion, and falls asleep.
     Giddiness prevails  below stairs too.  The  very tall  young man  whose
excitement came on so  soon, appears to have his  head glued to the table in
the pantry, and cannot be detached from - it. A violent  revulsion has taken
place in the  spirits of Mrs Perch, who is low  on account  of Mr Perch, and
tells cook that she fears he is not so much attached to his home, as he used
to be, when they were only nine in family. Mr Towlinson has a singing in his
ears and a large wheel going round and round inside his head.  The housemaid
wishes it wasn't wicked to wish that one was dead.
     There is  a general delusion likewise,  in these lower  regions, on the
subject  of time; everybody conceiving that it ought to be, at the earliest,
ten  o'clock at  night,  whereas it is  not yet three  in the  afternoon.  A
shadowy idea of wickedness  committed, haunts every individual in the party;
and  each one secretly thinks the other  a companion in guilt, whom it would
be  agreeable  to  avoid.  No  man or woman has the hardihood to hint at the
projected visit to the  play.  Anyone reviving the notion of the ball, would
be scouted as a malignant idiot.
     Mrs Skewton sleeps upstairs, two hours afterwards, and naps are not yet
over  in the kitchen. The hatchments in the dining-room look down on crumbs,
dirty  plates,  spillings  of  wine,  half-thawed   ice,  stale  discoloured
heel-taps, scraps  of  lobster,  drumsticks  of  fowls, and pensive jellies,
gradually  resolving themselves into a lukewarm gummy soup. The marriage is,
by this time, almost as denuded of its show and garnish as the breakfast. Mr
Dombey's servants moralise so much about it, and are so repentant over their
early tea,  at  home,  that by eight o'clock or so,  they settle  down  into
confirmed seriousness; and Mr  Perch, arriving at that time from  the  City,
fresh  and jocular, with  a white waistcoat and a comic song, ready to spend
the evening, and prepared  for any  amount of dissipation, is amazed to find
himself coldly received, and  Mrs Perch but poorly, and to have the pleasing
duty of escorting that lady home by the next omnibus.
     Night closes in. Florence, having rambled  through  the handsome house,
from room  to  room,  seeks her  own chamber,  where the  care  of Edith has
surrounded  her with luxuries  and  comforts; and  divesting herself  of her
handsome dress, puts on her old simple mourning for dear Paul, and sits down
to read,  with Diogenes winking and  blinking on the  ground beside her. But
Florence cannot read tonight. The house seems strange and new, and there are
loud  echoes in  it. There is a  shadow on  her heart: she  knows not why or
what:  but it  is heavy.  Florence  shuts  her book, and gruff Diogenes, who
takes that  for  a signal, puts his paws upon  her  lap,  and  rubs his ears
against her  caressing  hands.  But Florence  cannot see  him plainly,  in a
little time,  for  there is a mist  between her  eyes  and him, and her dead
brother and dead mother shine in it like angels. Walter, too, poor wandering
shipwrecked boy, oh, where is he?
     The  Major don't know; that's for  certain; and  don't care. The Major,
having choked and slumbered,  all the afternoon, has taken a late  dinner at
his  club, and now  sits over his pint of  wine, driving a modest young man,
with a fresh-coloured face, at the next table (who would give a handsome sum
to  be able to rise and go away,  but cannot do it) to the verge of madness,
by anecdotes of Bagstock, Sir,  at Dombey's wedding, and Old Joe's  devilish
gentle  manly friend, Lord Feenix. While  Cousin Feenix, who  ought to be at
Long's,  and  in bed, finds  himself, instead, at a  gaming-table, where his
wilful legs have taken him, perhaps, in his own despite.
     Night, like a giant, fills the church, from pavement to roof, and holds
dominion through the silent hours. Pale dawn again comes peeping through the
windows: and, giving place to  day, sees night withdraw into the vaults, and
follows it,  and  drives  it  out, and hides among the dead.  The timid mice
again  cower  close together, when the great door clashes, and Mr Sownds and
Mrs  Miff  treading the circle of their daily lives, unbroken as a  marriage
ring, come in. Again, the cocked hat and the mortified bonnet  stand in  the
background at the marriage hour;  and again this man  taketh this woman, and
this woman taketh this man, on the solemn terms:
     'To have and to hold,  from this day forward, for better for worse, for
richer for poorer, in sickness and in health, to love and to  cherish, until
death do them part.'
     The very words that Mr Carker rides into town repeating, with his mouth
stretched to the utmost, as he picks his dainty way.


     The Wooden Midshipman goes to Pieces

     Honest Captain Cuttle, as  the  weeks  flew over him in  his  fortified
retreat, by no means abated any of  his prudent provisions against surprise,
because of  the non-appearance of the  enemy.  The  Captain argued  that his
present  security was too  profound and wonderful  to endure much longer; he
knew that when the  wind stood in a fair quarter, the weathercock was seldom
nailed  there; and he  was  too  well  acquainted with  the  determined  and
dauntless character of Mrs MacStinger, to doubt that  that heroic  woman had
devoted  herself to the task of his discovery and capture. Trembling beneath
the  weight of these reasons, Captain Cuttle  lived a very close and retired
life; seldom stirring abroad until after dark; venturing even then only into
the obscurest streets; never going forth at  all on Sundays; and both within
and without the walls of his retreat, avoiding bonnets, as if they were worn
by raging lions.
     The Captain never dreamed  that  in the event of his being pounced upon
by  Mrs MacStinger, in his walks, it would be  possible to offer resistance.
He felt that it could not be done.  He saw himself,  in his mind's eye,  put
meekly in a hackney-coach, and carried  off to his  old lodgings. He foresaw
that,  once immured there, he was a lost man:  his hat gone; Mrs  MacStinger
watchful of him day and  night; reproaches  heaped upon his head, before the
infant family; himself the guilty object of suspicion and distrust;  an ogre
in the children's eyes, and in their mother's a detected traitor.
     A violent perspiration, and a  lowness of spirits, always came over the
Captain as this gloomy  picture  presented  itself  to his  imagination.  It
generally  did so previous to his stealing out of doors at night for air and
exercise. Sensible  of the  risk he ran, the  Captain took leave  of Rob, at
those  times, with the solemnity which became a man who  might never return:
exhorting him, in the event of his  (the Captain's) being lost sight of, for
a  time, to  tread  in  the paths of virtue, and keep the brazen instruments
well polished.
     But not  to throw away a chance; and to  secure to  himself a means, in
case of the worst, of holding communication with the external world; Captain
Cuttle soon conceived the happy idea of teaching Rob the Grinder some secret
signal, by which that adherent might make his presence and fidelity known to
his commander, in the hour of adversity. After much cogitation,  the Captain
decided  in  favour  of instructing  him  to whistle  the marine melody, 'Oh
cheerily,  cheerily!'  and  Rob  the  Grinder  attaining  a  point  as  near
perfection  in  that  accomplishment as a landsman  could hope to reach, the
Captain impressed these mysterious instructions on his mind:
     'Now, my lad, stand by! If ever I'm took - '
     'Took, Captain!' interposed Rob, with his round eyes wide open.
     'Ah!' said Captain Cuttle darkly, 'if ever I goes away, meaning to come
back to supper, and don't come within hail again, twenty-four hours arter my
loss, go you to Brig Place and whistle that 'ere tune near my old moorings -
not as if  you was a meaning of it, you understand, but as if  you'd drifted
there, promiscuous. If I answer in  that tune,  you sheer off,  my  lad, and
come back four-and-twenty hours arterwards; if I answer in another  tune, do
you stand  off and on,  and wait  till I throw out further  signals.  Do you
understand them orders, now?'
     'What  am  I  to stand  off  and  on  of, Captain?' inquired  Rob. 'The
horse-road?'
     'Here's a smart lad for you!' cried the Captain eyeing him sternly, 'as
don't  know  his own  native  alphabet! Go  away  a bit and come  back again
alternate - d'ye understand that?'
     'Yes, Captain,' said Rob.
     'Very good my lad, then,' said the Captain, relenting. 'Do it!'
     That  he might do it the better, Captain Cuttle sometimes condescended,
of an evening after the shop was shut, to rehearse this scene: retiring into
the  parlour  for  the purpose,  as  into the lodgings  of a  supposititious
MacStinger, and carefully observing the behaviour of his ally, from the hole
of espial he had  cut in the wall. Rob the Grinder discharged himself of his
duty with so much exactness and judgment,  when thus put to the  proof, that
the Captain  presented him, at divers  times, with seven sixpences, in token
of satisfaction; and gradually felt stealing over his spirit the resignation
of  a man who had made  provision for the worst, and taken every  reasonable
precaution against an unrelenting fate.
     Nevertheless, the Captain did not tempt ill-fortune, by  being  a  whit
more  venturesome than  before.  Though  he considered  it  a point  of good
breeding in  himself,  as  a  general  friend  of  the  family, to attend Mr
Dombey's wedding  (of which he  had heard from Mr Perch),  and  to show that
gentleman a  pleasant  and approving countenance  from  the gallery, he  had
repaired to  the church in a hackney cabriolet  with  both windows  up;  and
might  have  scrupled even  to  make  that  venture,  in his  dread  of  Mrs
MacStinger, but that the lady's  attendance on the ministry  of the Reverend
Melchisedech  rendered  it peculiarly  unlikely  that she would  be found in
communion with the Establishment.
     The Captain got safe home again, and fell into the  ordinary routine of
his  new life, without encountering  any  more direct alarm  from the enemy,
than  was suggested to him by  the  daily  bonnets in the  street. But other
subjects began to lay heavy  on the Captain's  mind. Walter's ship was still
unheard of. No news came of old Sol Gills. Florence did not even know of the
old man's  disappearance, and Captain Cuttle had not the heart to  tell her.
Indeed  the  Captain,   as  his  own  hopes   of   the  generous,  handsome,
gallant-hearted youth, whom  he  had loved,  according to  his rough manner,
from a child, began to fade, and faded more and more from day to day, shrunk
with instinctive pain from the thought of exchanging  a word  with Florence.
If  he had  had good news  to  carry  to her, the honest Captain would  have
braved  the newly  decorated house and  splendid furniture  -  though these,
connected with  the lady he had seen at church, were awful to him - and made
his way into her presence. With a dark horizon gathering around their common
hopes, however, that darkened  every hour, the Captain almost felt  as if he
were a new misfortune and affliction to her; and was scarcely less afraid of
a visit from Florence, than from Mrs MacStinger herself.
     It was a  chill dark autumn evening,  and Captain Cuttle  had ordered a
fire  to be kindled in the little back parlour, now more  than ever like the
cabin  of a ship. The rain fell fast,  and the wind blew  hard; and straying
out on the house-top by that stormy  bedroom of  his old friend,  to take an
observation of the weather, the Captain's heart died within him, when he saw
how wild and  desolate  it was. Not that  he associated the  weather of that
time with  poor  Walter's destiny, or  doubted that if Providence had doomed
him to  be lost and shipwrecked, it was over, long ago; but  that beneath an
outward  influence, quite distinct from  the subject-matter of his thoughts,
the Captain's spirits sank, and his hopes turned pale, as those of wiser men
had often done before him, and will often do again.
     Captain  Cuttle,  addressing his  face  to the sharp wind  and slanting
rain,  looked up at the heavy scud that was flying fast over  the wilderness
of house-tops, and looked for something  cheery there in  vain. The prospect
near at hand was  no better. In sundry tea-chests and  other rough  boxes at
his  feet, the  pigeons  of Rob the Grinder were cooing  like so many dismal
breezes getting up. A crazy weathercock of a midshipman, with a telescope at
his eye,  once visible  from the  street, but  long bricked out, creaked and
complained  upon his  rusty  pivot as the  shrill  blast  spun him round and
round, and sported with him cruelly. Upon the Captain's coarse blue vest the
cold  raindrops  started  like  steel beads;  and  he  could hardly maintain
himself aslant against the stiff Nor'-Wester that came pressing against him,
importunate to topple him over  the  parapet, and throw him on the  pavement
below. If there were any Hope alive that evening, the Captain thought, as he
held his hat  on, it certainly kept  house, and wasn't out of doors;  so the
Captain, shaking his head in a despondent manner, went in to look for it.
     Captain Cuttle descended slowly to the little back parlour, and, seated
in his accustomed chair,  looked for it in the  fire;  but it was not there,
though the  fire  was bright.  He took  out  his tobacco-box  and pipe,  and
composing himself to smoke, looked for it in the red glow from the bowl, and
in the wreaths of vapour that curled upward from his lips; but there was not
so much as an atom of  the rust of Hope's anchor in either. He tried a glass
of  grog;  but  melancholy  truth  was at  the  bottom of that  well, and he
couldn't finish it. He made a turn or two  in  the shop, and looked for Hope
among the  instruments;  but they  obstinately worked out reckonings for the
missing ship, in spite of any opposition he could  offer, that ended  at the
bottom of the lone sea.
     The wind  still rushing,  and  the rain  still pattering,  against  the
closed shutters, the Captain brought to before  the wooden  Midshipman  upon
the counter, and thought, as he dried  the little officer's uniform with his
sleeve, how many years the Midshipman had seen, during  which few changes  -
hardly  any - had transpired  among his  ship's company; how the changes had
come all together, one day, as it might be; and of what a sweeping kind they
web Here was the little society of the back parlour broken up, and scattered
far and wide. Here was no audience  for Lovely  Peg,  even if there had been
anybody  to sing  it, which  there was not;  for the  Captain was as morally
certain that nobody but he could execute that ballad, he was that he had not
the spirit, under existing circumstances, to attempt it. There was no bright
face of 'Wal'r' In the  house; - here the Captain transferred his sleeve for
a moment from the Midshipman's uniform to his  own cheek; - the familiar wig
and buttons of Sol  Gills were a vision of the past; Richard Whittington was
knocked  on  the head;  and  every plan and  project  in connexion  with the
Midshipman, lay drifting, without mast or rudder, on the waste of waters.
     As  the Captain, with a dejected face, stood revolving these  thoughts,
and polishing the Midshipman, partly in the tenderness of old  acquaintance,
and  partly  in  the absence  of  his mind,  a  knocking  at  the  shop-door
communicated a frightful  start to the frame  of Rob the  Grinder, seated on
the counter, whose large eyes had been intently fixed on the Captain's face,
and who  had  been debating  within  himself, for the five  hundredth  time,
whether  the Captain  could  have  done a  murder, that he had such  an evil
conscience, and was always running away.
     'What's that?' said Captain Cuttle, softly.
     'Somebody's knuckles, Captain,' answered Rob the Grinder.
     The Captain,  with an  abashed and  guilty  air, immediately walked  on
tiptoe to the little  parlour and locked himself in.  Rob, opening the door,
would  have  parleyed  with the visitor on the threshold if  the visitor had
come in female guise; but the figure being of the male sex, and Rob's orders
only applying to women, Rob  held  the door open and  allowed  it  to enter:
which it did very quickly, glad to get out of the driving rain.
     'A job for Burgess and Co. at any rate,' said the visitor, looking over
his  shoulder compassionately  at  his own legs,  which were  very  wet  and
covered with splashes. 'Oh, how-de-do, Mr Gills?'
     The salutation was addressed to the Captain, now emerging from the back
parlour with a most transparent and utterly futile affectation of coming out
by accidence.
     'Thankee,'  the gentleman went on to say  in the same breath; 'I'm very
well indeed, myself, I'm much obliged  to you. My name  is  Toots, -  Mister
Toots.'
     The  Captain  remembered  to  have  seen  this  young  gentleman at the
wedding,  and  made him  a bow. Mr Toots replied with a chuckle;  and  being
embarrassed, as  he  generally  was,  breathed  hard,  shook hands with  the
Captain for a long time, and then falling on Rob the Grinder, in the absence
of  any  other resource, shook hands with  him in  a most  affectionate  and
cordial manner.
     'I say! I should like to speak a word to you, Mr Gills, if you please,'
said Toots at length, with surprising presence of mind. 'I say! Miss  D.O.M.
you know!'
     The Captain, with responsive gravity and mystery, immediately waved his
hook towards the little parlour, whither Mr Toots followed him.
     'Oh!  I  beg  your  pardon  though,' said  Mr Toots, looking  up In the
Captain's face as he  sat  down in a chair by  the  fire, which the  Captain
placed  for him;  'you  don't happen to  know the Chicken at all; do you, Mr
Gills?'
     'The Chicken?' said the Captain.
     'The Game Chicken,' said Mr Toots.
     The Captain  shaking his head, Mr Toots explained  that the man alluded
to  was  the celebrated  public character who  had covered  himself and  his
country with glory in his  contest with  the Nobby  Shropshire One; but this
piece of information did not appear to enlighten the Captain very much.
     'Because  he's  outside:  that's  all,' said  Mr Toots. 'But it's of no
consequence; he won't get very wet, perhaps.'
     'I can pass the word for him in a moment,' said the Captain.
     'Well, if you  would have the goodness to let him  sit in the shop with
your  young  man,' chuckled  Mr Toots, 'I should be glad; because, you know,
he's easily offended, and the damp's rather bad for his  stamina. I'll  call
him in, Mr Gills.'
     With that, Mr Toots repairing to the shop-door, sent a peculiar whistle
into  the night, which  produced  a  stoical gentleman  in  a  shaggy  white
great-coat  and a flat-brimmed hat, with very short hair, a broken nose, and
a considerable tract of bare and sterile country behind each ear.
     'Sit down, Chicken,' said Mr Toots.
     The compliant Chicken spat out some small pieces of straw on  which  he
was  regaling himself, and took in a fresh supply from a  reserve he carried
in his hand.
     'There  ain't no  drain  of  nothing short handy, is  there?'  said the
Chicken, generally.  'This here sluicing night is  hard lines  to  a  man as
lives on his condition.
     Captain Cuttle  proffered  a glass of  rum, which the Chicken, throwing
back his head, emptied  into  himself, as into a  cask, after  proposing the
brief sentiment,  'Towards us!' Mr  Toots and the  Captain returning then to
the parlour, and taking their seats before the fire, Mr Toots began:
     'Mr Gills - '
     'Awast!' said the Captain. 'My name's Cuttle.'
     Mr  Toots  looked  greatly  disconcerted,  while the Captain  proceeded
gravely.
     'Cap'en Cuttle  is my name, and  England is  my nation, this here is my
dwelling-place, and  blessed be  creation - Job,' said the  Captain,  as  an
index to his authority.
     'Oh! I couldn't see Mr Gills, could I?' said Mr Toots; 'because - '
     'If  you  could  see  Sol Gills,  young  gen'l'm'n,' said  the Captain,
impressively, and laying  his heavy hand on  Mr Toots's knee, 'old Sol, mind
you - with your own eyes - as  you sit there - you'd be welcomer to me, than
a wind astern, to  a  ship becalmed. But  you can't  see Sol Gills.  And why
can't you see Sol Gills?' said the Captain, apprised by the face of Mr Toots
that he was  making a profound impression on that gentleman's mind. 'Because
he's inwisible.'
     Mr  Toots  in his  agitation was  going  to  reply that  it  was of  no
consequence at all. But he corrected himself, and said, 'Lor bless me!'
     'That there  man,' said the Captain,  'has left me in  charge here by a
piece of writing, but though  he was a'most  as  good as my sworn brother, I
know no more where he's gone, or why  he's gone; if so be to seek his  nevy,
or if  so be along of  being not quite settled in his mind; than you do. One
morning  at daybreak,  he went over the side,' said the Captain, 'without  a
splash, without a ripple I have looked for  that man high and low, and never
set eyes, nor ears, nor nothing else, upon him from that hour.'
     'But, good Gracious, Miss Dombey don't know - ' Mr Toots began.
     'Why, I ask you, as  a feeling heart,'  said the  Captain, dropping his
voice, 'why should she know? why should she be made to know, until such time
as  there wam't any help for it? She took to  old  Sol Gills, did that sweet
creetur, with a  kindness,  with a affability, with a -  what's the good  of
saying so? you know her.'
     'I  should  hope so,'  chuckled Mr Toots,  with a  conscious blush that
suffused his whole countenance.
     'And you come here from her?' said the Captain.
     'I should think so,' chuckled Mr Toots.
     'Then all I  need  observe,  is,' said the  Captain, 'that you  know  a
angel, and are chartered a angel.'
     Mr Toots  instantly seized the Captain's hand, and requested the favour
of his friendship.
     'Upon my word and honour,' said Mr Toots, earnestly, 'I should  be very
much obliged to you if you'd improve my  acquaintance I should like  to know
you, Captain,  very much. I really  am  In  want of a  friend, I am.  Little
Dombey was my friend at old Blimber's, and would have been now, if he'd have
lived. The  Chicken,'  said Mr Toots, in a forlorn whisper, 'is very well  -
admirable in his way - the sharpest man perhaps in  the world; there's not a
move he isn't  up to,  everybody  says so  - but  I don't  know  - he's  not
everything. So she is an angel, Captain. If there is an angel anywhere, it's
Miss Dombey. That's what I've always said. Really though, you know,' said Mr
Toots,  'I  should  be very  much  obliged  to  you  if  you'd  cultivate my
acquaintance.'
     Captain  Cuttle received this  proposal in a  polite manner,  but still
without committing himself to  its acceptance; merely observing, 'Ay, ay, my
lad. We  shall see,  we shall see;' and reminding Mr Toots of his  immediate
mission, by inquiring to what he was indebted for the honour of that visit.
     'Why the fact is,' replied Mr Toots,  'that it's the young woman I come
from. Not Miss Dombey - Susan, you know.
     The Captain  nodded  his head once,  with a  grave  expression  of face
indicative of his regarding that young woman with serious respect.
     'And I'll tell you how it  happens,' said Mr Toots. 'You know, I go and
call sometimes, on Miss Dombey. I don't go there on purpose, you know, but I
happen to  be in the neighbourhood very often; and when I find myself there,
why - why I call.'
     'Nat'rally,' observed the Captain.
     'Yes,' said  Mr Toots.  'I called  this afternoon.  Upon  my  word  and
honour, I don't think it's possible to form an idea of the angel Miss Dombey
was this afternoon.'
     The Captain answered  with a jerk  of his head,  implying that it might
not be easy to some people, but was quite so to him.
     'As I  was coming out,' said Mr Toots, 'the  young woman,  in the  most
unexpected manner, took me into the pantry.
     The Captain seemed, for the moment,  to object to this  proceeding; and
leaning  back in his chair,  looked at  Mr Toots with a distrustful, if  not
threatening visage.
     'Where  she brought out,' said Mr Toots,  'this newspaper. She  told me
that she  had kept it from Miss Dombey all day, on account of something that
was in it,  about somebody that she  and Dombey used  to know;  and then she
read  the passage to me. Very well. Then she said  - wait a minute; what was
it she said, though!'
     Mr  Toots,  endeavouring  to  concentrate  his  mental powers  on  this
question,  unintentionally  fixed  the  Captain's  eye,  and  was   so  much
discomposed by  its  stern  expression, that his difficulty  in resuming the
thread of his subject was enhanced to a painful extent.
     'Oh!' said Mr Toots after long  consideration. 'Oh,  ah! Yes! She  said
that she hoped  there was  a bare possibility  that it mightn't be true; and
that as  she  couldn't very well come  out herself,  without surprising Miss
Dombey, would I go down  to Mr Solomon  Gills the Instrument-maker's in this
street, who was the party's Uncle, and ask whether he believed it  was true,
or had heard anything else in the City. She said,  if he couldn't  speak  to
me,  no doubt  Captain Cuttle  could. By the  bye!'  said Mr Toots,  as  the
discovery flashed upon him, 'you, you know!'
     The  Captain  glanced at the newspaper in Mr Toots's hand, and breathed
short and hurriedly.
     'Well, pursued Mr Toots, 'the reason why I'm rather late  is, because I
went up as far as Finchley first, to get some uncommonly fine chickweed that
grows  there,  for  Miss  Dombey's  bird.  But  I  came  on  here,  directly
afterwards. You've seen the paper, I suppose?'
     The  Captain,  who had become  cautious  of reading  the news, lest  he
should find himself advertised at full length by  Mrs MacStinger,  shook his
head.
     'Shall I read the passage to you?' inquired Mr Toots.
     The Captain making a sign in the affirmative, Mr Toots read as follows,
from the Shipping Intelligence:
     '"Southampton. The barque  Defiance, Henry James, Commander, arrived in
this port to-day, with a cargo of sugar, coffee, and rum, reports that being
becalmed on  the sixth day of her passage home from  Jamaica,  in" - in such
and such a latitude, you know,' said Mr Toots, after making a feeble dash at
the figures, and tumbling over them.
     'Ay!'  cried the  Captain,  striking his  clenched hand on  the  table.
'Heave ahead, my lad!'
     '  -  latitude,'  repeated  Mr  Toots,  with  a startled  glance at the
Captain, 'and  longitude so-and-so, -  "the look-out observed, half  an hour
before sunset, some fragments of a wreck,  drifting at about the distance of
a  mile. The weather  being clear, and the  barque making no way, a boat was
hoisted  out, with  orders  to inspect  the same, when  they  were  found to
consist of sundry large spars, and a part of the main rigging of an  English
brig, of about five hundred tons burden, together with a portion of the stem
on which the words  and letters  'Son  and H-' were yet plainly legible.  No
vestige of any dead body was to be seen upon the floating fragments. Log  of
the Defiance states, that a breeze springing up in the night, the wreck  was
seen no more. There can be no  doubt that all surmises as to the fate of the
missing vessel, the  Son and Heir, port of London, bound  for Barbados,  are
now set at rest for ever; that she broke up in the last  hurricane; and that
every soul on board perished."'
     Captain  Cuttle, like  all  mankind,  little  knew  how  much  hope had
survived within him  under  discouragement, until  he felt  its death-shock.
During the reading of the paragraph, and for a minute  or two afterwards, he
sat with his gaze fixed on the modest Mr Toots, like  a man entranced; then,
suddenly rising, and putting  on  his glazed hat,  which,  in his  visitor's
honour, he had laid upon  the table, the Captain  turned his  back, and bent
his head down on the little chimneypiece.
     'Oh' upon my word and honour,'  cried Mr Toots, whose  tender heart was
moved by the Captain's unexpected distress, 'this is a most wretched sort of
affair this world is! Somebody's always dying,  or going and doing something
uncomfortable in it. I'm sure I never should have looked forward so much, to
coming into my property, if I had known this. I never saw such a world. It's
a great deal worse than Blimber's.'
     Captain  Cuttle, without  altering his position, signed to Mr Toots not
to  mind  him; and  presently turned  round, with his glazed hat thrust back
upon his ears, and his hand composing and smoothing his brown face.
     'Wal'r, my dear lad,' said the  Captain, 'farewell! Wal'r my  child, my
boy,  and man, I loved you! He warn't my flesh and blood,' said the Captain,
looking at the fire -  'I ain't got none  - but  something of what  a father
feels  when he  loses  a  son, I feel  in losing  Wal'r. For  why?' said the
Captain. 'Because it ain't  one loss, but a round  dozen. Where's that there
young school-boy with the rosy face and curly hair, that used to be as merry
in this here parlour,  come round every week, as a piece of music? Gone down
with Wal'r. Where's that there fresh lad, that nothing couldn't tire nor put
out, and that  sparkled up and  blushed so, when  we joked him about Heart's
Delight,  that he was beautiful to  look at? Gone  down  with Wal'r. Where's
that there man's spirit,  all afire, that wouldn't see the old man hove down
for a minute, and  cared nothing for itself? Gone down with  Wal'r. It ain't
one Wal'r. There  was a dozen  Wal'rs that  I know'd and  loved, all holding
round his neck when he went down, and they're a-holding round mine now!'
     Mr Toots sat silent: folding and refolding  the  newspaper  as small as
possible upon his knee.
     'And Sol  Gills,' said the Captain, gazing at the fire,  'poor nevyless
old Sol, where are you got to! you was left in charge of  me; his last words
was, "Take care  of my Uncle!" What came over you, Sol,  when  you went  and
gave the go-bye to Ned Cuttle; and what am I to put In my accounts that he's
a  looking  down  upon,  respecting  you!  Sol Gills,  Sol Gills!' said  the
Captain, shaking his head slowly, 'catch sight of that there newspaper, away
from home, with no one  as know'd  Wal'r by, to say a word; and broadside to
you broach, and down you pitch, head foremost!'
     Drawing  a  heavy sigh,  the  Captain turned  to  Mr Toots, and  roused
himself to a sustained consciousness of that gentleman's presence.
     'My lad,' said  the Captain, 'you  must tell the  young  woman honestly
that this  here  fatal news  is too correct. They don't romance, you see, on
such pints. It's entered  on the ship's log, and that's the truest book as a
man can write. To-morrow morning,' said the Captain, 'I'll step out and make
inquiries;  but they'll lead to no good. They can't do it. If you'll give me
a look-in  in the forenoon, you shall  know what I have heerd; but tell  the
young woman  from  Cap'en Cuttle,  that it's  over.  Over!' And the Captain,
hooking off his  glazed hat, pulled his handkerchief out of the crown, wiped
his grizzled head  despairingly, and tossed the handkerchief in again,  with
the indifference of deep dejection.
     'Oh! I assure you,'  said Mr Toots, 'really I am dreadfully sorry. Upon
my word I am, though I  wasn't  acquainted with the party. Do you think Miss
Dombey will be very much affected, Captain Gills - I mean Mr Cuttle?'
     'Why,  Lord  love  you,'  returned   the  Captain,  with  something  of
compassion for Mr  Toots's innocence. When  she warn't no  higher than that,
they were as fond of one another as two young doves.'
     'Were they though!' said Mr Toots, with a considerably lengthened face.
     'They were made for  one  another,' said the  Captain, mournfully; 'but
what signifies that now!'
     'Upon  my word  and honour,' cried Mr  Toots,  blurting out  his  words
through a singular combination  of awkward  chuckles and emotion, 'I'm  even
more  sorry than I  was before. You  know,  Captain Gills, I -  I positively
adore Miss  Dombey; - I -  I am perfectly sore  with loving her;'  the burst
with  which  this confession  forced  itself  out  of the  unhappy Mr Toots,
bespoke the  vehemence of his  feelings; 'but what would  be the good of  my
regarding her in this manner, if I  wasn't truly sorry for her feeling pain,
whatever  was the cause of it.  Mine ain't a  selfish  affection, you know,'
said Mr Toots, in the confidence engendered  by his having been a witness of
the Captain's  tenderness.  'It's the  sort of thing with me, Captain Gills,
that if I could be run over - or - or trampled upon  - or  - or thrown off a
very high place -or anything of that sort - for Miss Dombey's sake, it would
be the most delightful thing that could happen to me.
     All this, Mr Toots said in a  suppressed voice, to prevent its reaching
the jealous  ears of the Chicken, who objected to the softer emotions; which
effort of restraint,  coupled with the intensity  of his feelings,  made him
red to the tips of  his ears, and caused him  to  present such  an affecting
spectacle of disinterested love to the eyes of Captain Cuttle, that the good
Captain patted him consolingly on the back, and bade him cheer up.
     'Thankee,  Captain Gills,' said  Mr  Toots, 'it's  kind of you, in  the
midst of your own troubles,  to say so. I'm very  much obliged to  you. As I
said  before,  I  really  want a  friend, and  should be glad  to  have your
acquaintance. Although I am very well off,' said Mr Toots, with energy, 'you
can't  think what a miserable Beast  I am. The  hollow crowd, you know, when
they  see me with  the Chicken,  and characters  of distinction  like  that,
suppose me to be happy; but I'm wretched. I suffer for Miss Dombey,  Captain
Gills. I  can't get through  my meals;  I have no pleasure  in my  tailor; I
often cry when I'm alone. I assure you it'll be a satisfaction to me to come
back to-morrow, or to come back fifty times.'
     Mr  Toots, with  these  words, shook the Captain's hand; and disguising
such traces of his  agitation as  could be disguised  on so  short a notice,
before the Chicken's penetrating  glance, rejoined that eminent gentleman in
the  shop. The  Chicken, who was  apt  to be jealous of his ascendancy, eyed
Captain Cuttle with anything but favour as  he took  leave of Mr Toots,  but
followed his patron without  being otherwise demonstrative  of his ill-will:
leaving the Captain oppressed with sorrow; and Rob the Grinder elevated with
joy, on account of having had the  honour of staring for nearly half an hour
at the conqueror of the Nobby Shropshire One.
     Long  after  Rob  was fast asleep  in  his bed under  the counter,  the
Captain sat looking  at the fire;  and long after there was no fire  to look
at, the Captain sat gazing on the rusty  bars,  with unavailing thoughts  of
Walter  and old  Sol crowding through  his  mind. Retirement  to the  stormy
chamber at the top of  the house brought no rest with  it; and  the  Captain
rose up in the morning, sorrowful and unrefreshed.
     As soon as  the  City offices were opened,  the Captain issued forth to
the  counting-house  of Dombey  and  Son.  But  there was no opening of  the
Midshipman's windows that morning. Rob the Grinder, by the Captain's orders,
left the shutters closed, and the house was as a house of death.
     It chanced that  Mr Carker was entering  the office, as  Captain Cuttle
arrived at the door. Receiving the Manager's  benison  gravely and silently,
Captain Cuttle made bold to accompany him into his own room.
     'Well, Captain  Cuttle,'  said  Mr Carker, taking up his usual position
before the fireplace, and keeping on his hat, 'this is a bad business.'
     'You have received the news as  was in print  yesterday, Sir?' said the
Captain.
     'Yes,' said  Mr Carker, 'we have received it! It was accurately stated.
The  underwriters  suffer a considerable loss. We  are  very sorry. No help!
Such is life!'
     Mr Carker pared his nails delicately with a penknife, and smiled at the
Captain, who was standing by the door looking at him.
     'I  excessively  regret  poor  Gay,'  said  Carker, 'and  the  crew.  I
understand there were some of our very best men among 'em. It always happens
so.  Many men with families too. A comfort  to reflect that poor Gay had  no
family, Captain Cuttle!'
     The Captain  stood rubbing  his chin, and looking at  the Manager.  The
Manager glanced at the  unopened letters lying on his desk, and took up  the
newspaper.
     'Is there anything I can do for  you, Captain Cuttle?' he asked looking
off it, with a smiling and expressive glance at the door.
     'I wish you could set my mind  at rest, Sir,  on  something it's uneasy
about,' returned the Captain.
     'Ay!' exclaimed the Manager, 'what's that? Come, Captain Cuttle, I must
trouble you to be quick, if you please. I am much engaged.'
     'Lookee  here, Sir,'  said  the  Captain, advancing a step.  'Afore  my
friend Wal'r went on this here disastrous voyage -
     'Come, come, Captain Cuttle,' interposed the  smiling  Manager,  'don't
talk about  disastrous voyages  in  that way.  We  have nothing  to do  with
disastrous voyages  here, my good fellow.  You must have begun very early on
your  day's allowance, Captain, if you don't remember that there are hazards
in all  voyages,  whether  by sea  or land. You  are not made uneasy by  the
supposition that young what's-his-name was lost  in bad weather that was got
up  against  him  in these  offices  - are  you?  Fie,  Captain! Sleep,  and
soda-water, are the best cures for such uneasiness as that.
     'My lad,'  returned the Captain, slowly  - 'you are a'most a lad to me,
and so I  don't ask your pardon for that slip of a  word, - if you find  any
pleasure in  this here sport, you ain't the gentleman I took you for. And if
you  ain't the  gentleman I took you for, may  be  my mind  has  call to  be
uneasy. Now this is what it is, Mr Carker. - Afore  that poor lad went away,
according  to  orders,  he told me that he warn't  a going away  for his own
good, or for promotion, he know'd. It was my belief that he was wrong, and I
told him  so, and I come here, your head governor  being  absent,  to ask  a
question  or  two  of  you in a civil  way, for  my  own  satisfaction. Them
questions you answered - free. Now  it'll  ease my mind to know, when all is
over, as it is, and when what  can't be cured must be endoored  - for which,
as a scholar, you'll overhaul the book it's in, and thereof make a note - to
know once more, in a word, that I warn't mistaken; that I warn't back'ard in
my duty when I didn't tell the old man what Wal'r told me; and that the wind
was  truly in his  sail,  when he highsted  of it for Barbados  Harbour.  Mr
Carker,'  said the Captain, in the goodness of his nature,  'when I was here
last, we was very pleasant together. If I ain't been altogether so  pleasant
myself this morning, on account of this poor lad, and if I have chafed again
any observation  of yours that I  might  have fended off, my  name is Ed'ard
Cuttle, and I ask your pardon.'
     'Captain Cuttle,' returned  the Manager, with  all possible politeness,
'I must ask you to do me a favour.'
     'And what is it, Sir?' inquired the Captain.
     'To  have  the goodness  to  walk  off, if  you  please,' rejoined  the
Manager,  stretching  forth  his arm,  'and  to carry your  jargon somewhere
else.'
     Every knob in  the Captain's  face turned  white with  astonishment and
indignation;  even the red rim  on  his forehead faded, like a rainbow among
the gathering clouds.
     'I  tell  you  what, Captain  Cuttle,'  said the  Manager, shaking  his
forefinger at him, and showing him all his teeth, but still amiably smiling,
'I was much too lenient with you when you came here before. You belong to an
artful  and  audacious  set  of  people.   In   my  desire  to  save   young
what's-his-name from being kicked out of this place, neck and crop,  my good
Captain, I tolerated you; but for once, and only once. Now, go, my friend!'
     The Captain was absolutely rooted to the ground, and speechless -
     'Go,'  said  the  good-humoured Manager, gathering up his  skirts,  and
standing astride upon the hearth-rug, 'like  a sensible fellow,  and let  us
have no turning out, or any such violent measures.  If Mr Dombey  were here,
Captain,  you  might  be  obliged to  leave in a  more  ignominious  manner,
possibly. I merely say, Go!'
     The  Captain, laying  his  ponderous  hand  upon his  chest, to  assist
himself in  fetching a deep breath, looked at Mr Carker  from head to  foot,
and looked round the little room, as if he  did not clearly understand where
he was, or in what company.
     'You are deep,  Captain  Cuttle,'  pursued  Carker, with the  easy  and
vivacious frankness of a man of the world  who knew the world too well to be
ruffled  by any discovery of misdoing, when it did  not  immediately concern
himself,  'but you are not quite out of soundings, either -  neither you nor
your absent friend, Captain.  What have  you done  with your absent  friend,
hey?'
     Again  the Captain laid his hand upon his chest. After drawing  another
deep breath, he conjured himself to 'stand by!' But In a whisper.
     'You hatch nice little plots, and  hold nice  little councils, and make
nice little appointments,  and receive  nice  little visitors, too, Captain,
hey?' said Carker, bending his brows upon him, without showing his teeth any
the  less:  'but it's a bold measure to come  here afterwards. Not like your
discretion! You  conspirators, and hiders,  and  runners-away,  should  know
better than that. Will you oblige me by going?'
     'My lad,' gasped the Captain, in a choked and trembling voice, and with
a curious action going  on  in  the  ponderous fist; 'there's a many words I
could wish to say to you, but I don't rightly know where they're stowed just
at present. My young friend, Wal'r, was drownded  only last night, according
to my  reckoning,  and it puts  me out, you  see. But you  and  me will come
alongside o'one  another  again, my  lad,' said  the Captain, holding up his
hook, if we live.'
     'It  will  be  anything but shrewd in you,  my good fellow, if  we do,'
returned the Manager, with the same frankness; 'for you may rely, I give you
fair warning, upon  my detecting and exposing you.  I don't pretend to be  a
more moral man than my neighbours, my good  Captain;  but the  confidence of
this  House, or  of  any  member of  this  House,  is  not to be  abused and
undermined while I have eyes and  ears. Good day!' said Mr  Carker,  nodding
his head.
     Captain  Cuttle,  looking  at him  steadily  (Mr Carker looked full  as
steadily  at the Captain),  went out  of  the  office and left him  standing
astride before the fire, as calm and pleasant as if there were no more spots
upon his soul than on his pure white linen, and his smooth sleek skin.
     The  Captain glanced,  in  passing through the outer counting-house, at
the  desk where he  knew  poor Walter  had been used to sit, now occupied by
another young boy, with a face almost as fresh and hopeful as his on the day
when they tapped the famous last bottle but one of  the old  Madeira, in the
little back parlour. The nation of ideas, thus  awakened,  did the Captain a
great deal of good; it softened  him  in the  very  height of his anger, and
brought the tears into his eyes.
     Arrived  at the wooden Midshipman's again, and sitting down in a corner
of the dark shop, the Captain's indignation, strong as it was, could make no
head against his grief. Passion seemed not only to  do wrong and violence to
the memory  of  the dead,  but  to be  infected by death,  and to  droop and
decline  beside it.  All the  living knaves  and  liars in the  world,  were
nothing to the honesty and truth of one dead friend.
     The  only  thing the honest Captain made out clearly, in  this state of
mind, besides the loss of Walter, was, that  with him almost the whole world
of Captain  Cuttle had been drowned. If he reproached himself sometimes, and
keenly too, for having ever connived at Walter's innocent deceit, he thought
at least as often of the Mr Carker whom no sea could ever render up; and the
Mr Dombey, whom he now began to perceive was as far beyond human recall; and
the  'Heart's  Delight,' with whom he  must  never foregather again; and the
Lovely Peg, that  teak-built  and trim ballad,  that had gone  ashore upon a
rock, and split into mere planks and beams  of rhyme. The Captain sat in the
dark shop,  thinking of  these  things, to the entire  exclusion  of his own
injury;  and  looking  with  as  sad  an  eye  upon the  ground,  as  if  in
contemplation of their actual fragments, as they floated past
     But the  Captain was  not unmindful, for all that, of  such decent  and
rest observances  in memory  of  poor Walter,  as he felt within  his power.
Rousing himself, and rousing Rob the Grinder (who in the unnatural  twilight
was fast asleep), the Captain sallied forth with his attendant at his heels,
and  the  door-key  in  his pocket, and repairing to one of those convenient
slop-selling establishments of which there is abundant choice at the eastern
end of London, purchased on the spot two suits of mourning - one for Rob the
Grinder, which  was immensely  too  small, and  one for himself,  which  was
immensely too large. He also provided  Rob with a species of hat, greatly to
be admired for its symmetry  and usefulness, as well as for a happy blending
of the mariner with the coal-heaver; which  is  usually termed a sou'wester;
and  which was  something  of  a  novelty in connexion  with  the instrument
business. In their several garments, which the vendor declared  to be such a
miracle  in point of  fit as  nothing but  a  rare combination of fortuitous
circumstances ever brought about, and the fashion of which  was unparalleled
within  the memory  of  the  oldest  inhabitant,  the  Captain  and  Grinder
immediately  arrayed themselves: presenting a spectacle fraught with  wonder
to all who beheld it.
     In this altered form, the  Captain received Mr Toots. 'I'm took  aback,
my lad, at present,' said the Captain, 'and will only confirm that there ill
news. Tell the  young woman  to break it gentle to  the  young lady, and for
neither of 'em never to think of me no more - 'special, mind you, that  is -
though I will  think of them, when night comes  on  a hurricane and  seas is
mountains rowling, for which  overhaul your  Doctor Watts, brother, and when
found make a note on."
     The Captain  reserved, until  some fitter time, the consideration of Mr
Toots's  offer  of  friendship,  and  thus dismissed  him.  Captain Cuttle's
spirits were so low, in truth, that he half determined, that day, to take no
further precautions  against surprise from Mrs MacStinger,  but  to  abandon
himself  recklessly to  chance, and be indifferent to  what might happen. As
evening came on,  he  fell into a better frame of  mind,  however; and spoke
much of Walter to Rob the Grinder, whose attention and fidelity  he likewise
incidentally commended. Rob did not blush to hear the Captain earnest in his
praises, but sat staring  at him, and affecting to snivel with sympathy, and
making a feint of being virtuous, and treasuring up every word he said (like
a young spy as he was) with very promising deceit.
     When Rob had turned  in, and was fast asleep,  the Captain  trimmed the
candle,  put on his  spectacles  -  he  had felt it appropriate to  take  to
spectacles on entering into the Instrument Trade, though his  eyes were like
a  hawk's - and opened the prayer-book at  the Burial Service.  And  reading
softly to himself, in the little back parlour, and  stopping now and then to
wipe  his eyes, the Captain, In a true and simple spirit, committed Walter's
body to the deep.


     Contrasts

     Turn  we  our eyes upon two homes;  not lying side by  side,  but  wide
apart, though both within easy range and reach of the great city of London.
     The first is situated in the  green and wooded country near Norwood. It
is not a mansion; it is of  no pretensions as to size; but it is beautifully
arranged, and  tastefully  kept.  The lawn,  the  soft,  smooth  slope,  the
flower-garden,  the clumps of trees where graceful forms of ash  and  willow
are not wanting,  the conservatory,  the rustic verandah with sweet-smelling
creeping  plants entwined  about  the pillars,  the  simple  exterior of the
house, the well-ordered offices, though all upon the diminutive scale proper
to a mere cottage,  bespeak  an amount of elegant comfort within, that might
serve for a palace. This indication is  not without warrant; for, within, it
is a house of refinement and luxury. Rich colours, excellently blended, meet
the eye at every turn; in the furniture -  its proportions admirably devised
to  suit  the shapes and sizes  of the small rooms; on the  walls;  upon the
floors; tingeing and subduing the light that comes in through the odd  glass
doors and windows here and there. There are a few choice prints and pictures
too; in quaint nooks and recesses there is  no want of books;  and there are
games of  skill and chance set forth on  tables -  fantastic chessmen, dice,
backgammon, cards, and billiards.
     And  yet amidst this opulence  of  comfort, there  is something  in the
general  air that is  not well. Is  it that the carpets and the cushions are
too soft and noiseless, so that those  who move or repose among them seem to
act by stealth? Is it that the  prints and pictures do not commemorate great
thoughts  or  deeds, or render nature  in the Poetry  of landscape, hall, or
hut, but are of one voluptuous cast - mere shows of form and colour - and no
more?  Is it that the books have all their gold outside, and that the titles
of  the greater  part  qualify  them  to be  companions of  the  prints  and
pictures? Is it that the  completeness and  the beauty of the place are here
and  there belied  by an  affectation of  humility, in some unimportant  and
inexpensive  regard, which is as false as the face of the too truly  painted
portrait hanging  yonder,  or its original at breakfast  in his  easy  chair
below it? Or is  it that, with the daily breath  of that original and master
of all here, there issues forth some subtle portion of  himself, which gives
a vague expression of himself to everything about him?
     It is Mr Carker the Manager who  sits in the easy chair. A gaudy parrot
in a burnished  cage  upon the table tears at the wires with her  beak,  and
goes  walking,  upside  down,  in  its  dome-top,   shaking  her  house  and
screeching;  but  Mr Carker  is  indifferent to the bird, and  looks with  a
musing smile at a picture on the opposite wall.
     'A most extraordinary accidental likeness, certainly,' says he.
     Perhaps it is a Juno; perhaps a Potiphar's Wife'; perhaps some scornful
Nymph  -  according as  the  Picture Dealers  found  the  market, when  they
christened it. It is the figure of a woman, supremely handsome, who, turning
away, but with her face addressed to the spectator, flashes her proud glance
upon him.
     It is like Edith.
     With a passing gesture of his hand at the picture - what! a menace? No;
yet  something like  it. A wave as of  triumph?  No; yet more like that.  An
insolent salute wafted from his lips? No; yet like that too - he resumes his
breakfast, and calls to the chafing  and  imprisoned  bird,  who coming down
into  a pendant gilded  hoop within  the cage, like  a  great  wedding-ring,
swings in it, for his delight.
     The second home is on the  other side of London, near to where the busy
great  north road of bygone days  is  silent  and almost deserted, except by
wayfarers who toil  along  on foot. It  is  a  poor small house, barely  and
sparely furnished, but very clean;  and there is even an attempt to decorate
it,  shown  in the homely flowers trained about  the porch and in the narrow
garden. The neighbourhood in which it stands has as little of the country to
recommend'it, as it has of the  town. It is neither of the town nor country.
The former,  like the giant in his travelling boots, has  made a stride  and
passed it, and has set his brick-and-mortar heel  a long way in advance; but
the intermediate space between  the  giant's feet, as yet, is  only blighted
country, and not town; and, here, among a few tall chimneys  belching  smoke
all day and  night,  and among the  brick-fields and the lanes where turf is
cut, and where the fences tumble down, and where the dusty nettles grow, and
where a scrap  or  two of hedge may yet be seen, and where  the bird-catcher
still comes occasionally, though he swears every time to come no more - this
second home is to be found.'
     She who inhabits it, is she who left the first  in her devotion  to  an
outcast  brother. She withdrew from that home its redeeming spirit, and from
its master's  breast his solitary  angel: but though his liking  for  her is
gone, after  this  ungrateful  slight as he  considers  it;  and  though  he
abandons her altogether in return, an old idea of her is not quite forgotten
even by  him. Let her  flower-garden, in  which  he never sets his foot, but
which  is  yet maintained,  among  all his costly alterations, as if she had
quitted it but yesterday, bear witness!
     Harriet  Carker  has changed since  then,  and  on her beauty there has
fallen a heavier shade than Time of his unassisted self can cast, all-potent
as he is - the  shadow of anxiety and sorrow, and  the daily  struggle  of a
poor existence. But it is  beauty still;  and  still  a  gentle, quiet,  and
retiring beauty  that must  be sought out, for it cannot vaunt itself; if it
could, it would be what it is, no more.
     Yes.  This  slight, small,  patient figure,  neatly  dressed  in homely
stuffs, and indicating nothing but the dull, household virtues, that have so
little in  common with the  received idea of heroism  and greatness, unless,
indeed, any ray of them should shine through the  lives of the great ones of
the earth,  when  it becomes  a  constellation  and  is  tracked  in  Heaven
straightway - this slight, small, patient  figure, leaning  on the man still
young but  worn and grey, is  she,  his sister, who, of all the  world, went
over to him in his shame and put her hand in his, and with a sweet composure
and determination, led him hopefully upon his barren way.
     'It is early, John,' she said. 'Why do you go so early?'
     'Not many minutes earlier than  usual, Harriet.  If I have the time  to
spare, I  should like, I think -  it's  a fancy  - to walk once by the house
where I took leave of him.'
     'I wish I had ever seen or known him, John.'
     'It is better as it is, my dear, remembering his fate.'
     'But I could not regret  it  more, though I had known him. Is not  your
sorrow  mine?  And if  I had, perhaps you  would feel  that I  was a  better
companion to you in speaking about him, than I may seem now.
     'My dearest sister!  Is there anything within the range of rejoicing or
regret, in which I am not sure of your companionship?'
     'I hope you think not, John, for surely there is nothing!'
     'How could you be better to me, or  nearer to  me then, than you are in
this,  or  anything?' said her  brother.  'I feel  that  you did  know  him,
Harriet, and that you shared my feelings towards him.'
     She  drew the  hand which had been resting  on his shoulder, round  his
neck, and answered, with some hesitation:
     'No, not quite.'
     'True, true!' he said;  'you think I might  have done  him no harm if I
had allowed myself to know him better?'
     'Think! I know it.'
     'Designedly, Heaven  knows I would not,'  he replied,  shaking his head
mournfully;  'but  his  reputation was  too precious to be perilled  by such
association. Whether you share that knowledge, or do not, my dear - '
     'I do not,' she said quietly.
     'It is still the truth, Harriet, and my mind is lighter when I think of
him for that which made it so much heavier  then.' He checked himself in his
tone of melancholy, and smiled upon her as he said 'Good-bye!'
     'Good-bye,  dear John! In  the evening, at the  old time  and  place, I
shall meet you as usual on your way home. Good-bye.'
     The  cordial face  she lifted up to his to kiss him, was  his home, his
life, his universe, and yet  it was  a portion of  his punishment and grief;
for in  the cloud he  saw upon it -  though  serene and calm as any  radiant
cloud at sunset - and in the constancy and devotion of her life, and  in the
sacrifice she had  made of ease,  enjoyment,  and  hope, he  saw  the bitter
fruits of his old crime, for ever ripe and fresh.
     She stood at the door looking after him, with her hands loosely clasped
in each other, as he made his way over the frowzy and uneven patch of ground
which lay before their  house, which had  once (and  not  long ago)  been  a
pleasant  meadow,  and  was now  a very waste,  with a  disorderly  crop  of
beginnings of mean  houses,  rising out of the rubbish,  as if they had been
unskilfully sown there. Whenever he looked back  - as once or twice he did -
her cordial face shone like a  light upon his heart; but when he plodded  on
his way, and  saw her not, the tears were in her eyes as she stood  watching
him.
     Her pensive form was not long idle at the door. There was daily duty to
discharge, and daily work to do - for such  commonplace spirits that are not
heroic, often work hard  with  their hands -  and Harriet was soon busy with
her household  tasks. These  discharged,  and the poor house made quite neat
and orderly, she counted her  little  stock of money, with  an anxious face,
and went out thoughtfully to buy  some necessaries for their table, planning
and conniving, as  she went, how to save. So sordid are the lives of such lo
natures, who are not only not heroic to  their valets and waiting-women, but
have neither valets nor waiting-women to be heroic to withal!
     While  she  was absent,  and  there  was  no  one in  the house,  there
approached  it  by  a  different  way  from  that  the brother had taken,  a
gentleman, a very little  past his prime of life  perhaps, but  of a healthy
florid  hue, an upright  presence,  and  a  bright  clear aspect,  that  was
gracious and good-humoured. His eyebrows were still black, and so  was  much
of his hair; the sprinkling of grey observable among the latter, graced  the
former very much, and showed his broad frank brow and honest  eyes  to great
advantage.
     After  knocking once  at the  door, and  obtaining  no  response,  this
gentleman sat down on a bench in the little porch to wait. A certain skilful
action of his fingers  as  he  hummed some bars, and  beat time on  the seat
beside   him,  seemed  to  denote  the  musician;   and  the   extraordinary
satisfaction he derived from humming something very slow and long, which had
no recognisable tune, seemed to denote that he was a scientific one.
     The gentleman  was still twirlIng a theme, which seemed to go round and
round  and round,  and in and  in  and in,  and  to involve  itself  like  a
corkscrew twirled upon a table, without getting any nearer to anything, when
Harriet appeared  returning. He rose up as she advanced,  and stood with his
head uncovered.
     'You are come again, Sir!' she said, faltering.
     'I take that liberty,' he answered. 'May I ask for five minutes of your
leisure?'
     After  a  moment's  hesitation,  she  opened  the  door, and  gave  him
admission  to the little parlour.  The gentleman sat  down  there,  drew his
chair  to  the table over against her, and  said, in a voice  that perfectly
corresponded  to  his  appearance, and  with  a  simplicity  that  was  very
engaging:
     'Miss Harriet, you cannot be proud. You signified to me, when I  called
t'other morning,  that you were. Pardon me if I say that I looked into  your
face while you spoke, and that it contradicted  you. I look  into it again,'
he  added,  laying  his hand gently  on  her  arm,  for an  instant, 'and it
contradicts you more and more.'
     She was somewhat confused and agitated, and could make no ready answer.
     'It is the  mirror of truth,' said her visitor, 'and gentleness. Excuse
my trusting to it, and returning.'
     His  manner of  saying  these  words,  divested  them  entirely of  the
character of compliments. It  was so plain,  grave, unaffected, and sincere,
that she bent her head,  as if at  once  to thank him, and  acknowledge  his
sincerity.
     'The  disparity  between  our  ages,'  said  the  gentleman,  'and  the
plainness  of my purpose,  empower me, I am glad to think, to speak my mind.
That is my mind; and so you see me for the second time.'
     'There  is a  kind  of pride,  Sir,'  she  returned, after  a  moment's
silence, 'or what may be supposed to be pride, which  is mere duty. I hope I
cherish no other.'
     'For yourself,' he said.
     'For myself.'
     'But - pardon me - ' suggested the gentleman. 'For your brother John?'
     'Proud of his love, I am,' said Harriet, looking full upon her visitor,
and changing her manner on the  instant - not that it was less  composed and
quiet, but that there was a deep impassioned earnestness in it that made the
very tremble in her voice a part  of her firmness, 'and proud of  him.  Sir,
you who strangely know the story of his life, and repeated it to me when you
were here last - '
     'Merely to make my way into your confidence,' interposed the gentleman.
'For heaven's sake, don't suppose - '
     'I am sure,' she said, 'you revived it, in my hearing, with a kind  and
good purpose. I am quite sure of it.'
     'I  thank you,' returned her visitor, pressing her hand hastily. 'I  am
much obliged to you. You do me justice, I assure you. You were going to say,
that I, who know the story of John Carker's life - '
     'May think it pride in  me,' she continued, 'when I say that I am proud
of him! I am. You know the time was, when I was not - when I could not  be -
but that is past. The humility of  many  years, the uncomplaining expiation,
the true repentance,  the terrible regret, the pain I know he has even in my
affection, which he thinks has cost me dear, though Heaven knows I am happy,
but for his sorrow I - oh, Sir,  after what I have seen, let me conjure you,
if  you are  in any place of  power,  and  are ever wronged, never, for  any
wrong, inflict a  punishment that cannot be  recalled; while there is a  GOD
above us to work changes in the hearts He made.'
     'Your   brother   is  an   altered  man,'   returned   the   gentleman,
compassionately. 'I assure you I don't doubt it.'
     'He  was  an altered  man when he  did wrong,' said Harriet.  'He is an
altered man again, and is his true self now, believe me, Sir.'
     'But we  go on, said  her  visitor, rubbing his  forehead, in an absent
manner, with his  hand, and then drumming  thoughtfully on the table, 'we go
on in our clockwork routine, from day to day, and can't make out, or follow,
these  changes. They - they're a metaphysical sort of thing. We - we haven't
leisure for it. We - we haven't  courage.  They're not taught  at schools or
colleges, and  we  don't know  how to  set about it.  In short,  we  are  so
d-------d  business-like,' said the gentleman,  walking to the  window,  and
back, and  sitting  down  again, in a state of  extreme  dissatisfaction and
vexation.
     'I am  sure,'  said  the  gentleman, rubbing  his  forehead again;  and
drumming  on the table  as  before, 'I  have good reason to  believe that  a
jog-trot life,  the same  from day to day,  would reconcile one to anything.
One  don't see  anything, one don't hear anything, one don't know  anything;
that's  the fact. We go  on taking everything for granted, and  so we go on,
until whatever we do, good, bad, or  indifferent, we do from habit. Habit is
all I shall have to report, when I am called upon to plead to my conscience,
on my death-bed. ''Habit," says I; ''I was deaf, dumb, blind, and paralytic,
to   a  million  things,  from  habit."  ''Very  business-like   indeed,  Mr
What's-your-name,' says Conscience, ''but it won't do here!"'
     The gentleman got up and walked to the window again and back: seriously
uneasy, though giving his uneasiness this peculiar expression.
     'Miss  Harriet,' he said, resuming his chair, 'I wish you would let  me
serve  you.  Look  at me; I  ought  to look honest, for I know I  am  so, at
present. Do I?'
     'Yes,' she answered with a smile.
     'I believe  every  word  you  have  said,' he returned.  'I am full  of
self-reproach that I might have known this and  seen this, and known you and
seen you, any time  these dozen years, and that I never have. I hardly  know
how I ever got  here - creature that I am, not only of my own habit,  but of
other people'sl But having done  so, let me  do something. I  ask it  in all
honour and respect. You inspire me  with both, in the highest degree. Let me
do something.'
     'We are contented, Sir.'
     'No, no, not quite,' returned  the gentleman. 'I think not quite. There
are some little comforts that might smooth your life, and his. And  his!' he
repeated, fancying that had made some impression on her. 'I have been in the
habit of thinking that there was nothing wanting to be done for him; that it
was all  settled  and over;  in short, of not thinking at all about it. I am
different now. Let me do something for him. You too,' said the visitor, with
careful delicacy, 'have need to watch your health closely, for his sake, and
I fear it fails.'
     'Whoever  you may  be, Sir,' answered  Harriet, raising her eyes to his
face, 'I am deeply grateful to you. I feel certain that  in all you say, you
have no object in the world but  kindness to us. But years have passed since
we  began this life;  and to take  from my brother any  part  of what has so
endeared  him to me, and so proved his better  resolution - any fragment  of
the merit of his unassisted, obscure, and forgotten reparation - would be to
diminish the comfort it will  be to him and me, when that time comes to each
of us, of which you spoke just now. I thank you better with these tears than
any words. Believe it, pray.
     The gentleman  was moved, and put the hand she held  out,  to his lips,
much as a tender father might  kiss the hand  of  a dutiful child.  But more
reverently.
     'If the day should ever  come,  said  Harriet, 'when he is restored, in
part, to the position he lost - '
     'Restored!' cried the gentleman, quickly. 'How  can  that be hoped for?
In whose  hands  does the power of any restoration lie? It  is no mistake of
mine, surely, to  suppose that his  having gained the priceless blessing  of
his life, is one cause of the animosity shown to him by his brother.'
     'You  touch upon a subject  that is never breathed between us; not even
between us,' said Harriet.
     'I beg your forgiveness,' said  the visitor. 'I should have known it. I
entreat you to forget that I have done so, inadvertently. And now, as I dare
urge no more - as I am not sure that I have a right to do so - though Heaven
knows, even that doubt may be habit,' said the  gentleman, rubbing his head,
as despondently as before, 'let me; though a stranger, yet  no stranger; ask
two favours.'
     'What are they?' she inquired.
     'The first, that if you should see cause to change your resolution, you
will suffer me to be as  your  right  hand.  My name shall  then  be at your
service; it is useless now, and always insignificant.'
     'Our choice  of  friends,' she answered,  smiling faintly,  'is  not so
great, that I need any time for consideration. I can promise that.'
     'The  second,  that  you  will allow me  sometimes,  say  every  Monday
morning, at nine o'clock -  habit  again - I must be businesslike,' said the
gentleman,  with a whimsical  inclination to quarrel  with  himself  on that
head,  'in  walking  past,  to see you at the door or window. I don't ask to
come in, as your brother will be gone out at that hour. I don't ask to speak
to you. I merely ask to  see, for  the satisfaction of my own mind, that you
are well, and without intrusion to remind you, by  the sight of me, that you
have  a friend -  an  elderly  friend, grey-haired already, and fast growing
greyer - whom you may ever command.'
     The cordial face looked up in his; confided in it; and promised.
     'I  understand,  as  before,'  said the gentleman,  rising,  'that  you
purpose not to  mention my  visit  to  John Carker, lest he should be at all
distressed by my acquaintance with  his history. I am glad of  it, for it is
out of  the  ordinary  course of  things,  and  -  habit  again!'  said  the
gentleman, checking himself impatiently, 'as if there were no  better course
than the ordinary course!'
     With that  he turned to go, and walking, bareheaded, to the  outside of
the  little  porch,  took  leave  of  her  with  such  a  happy  mixture  of
unconstrained respect  and  unaffected  interest, as no  breeding could have
taught,  no  truth  mistrusted,  and  nothing  but  a  pure and single heart
expressed.
     Many half-forgotten emotions were awakened in the sister's mind by this
visit.  It was  so very  long  since any  other  visitor had  crossed  their
threshold; it was so very long  since any voice of apathy had made sad music
in  her  ears;  that  the  stranger's figure remained present  to her, hours
afterwards,  when  she sat at the window,  plying her  needle; and his words
seemed newly spoken, again and again. He had touched the spring  that opened
her whole life; and if she lost him for a short space, it was only among the
many shapes of the one great recollection of which that life was made.
     Musing  and working by  turns; now constraining herself to be steady at
her needle  for  a  long  time  together,  and  now letting  her work  fall,
unregarded, on her lap,  and straying wheresoever  her busier  thoughts led,
Harriet  Carker found the hours  glide by  her, and  the  day steal on.  The
morning, which had been bright and clear, gradually became overcast; a sharp
wind  set in;  the rain fell  heavily;  and  a dark  mist drooping  over the
distant town, hid it from the view.
     She  often looked with  compassion, at such a time, upon the stragglers
who came  wandering into  London,  by  the great  highway hard by,  and who,
footsore and weary, and gazing fearfully at the huge town before them, as if
foreboding that their misery  there would be but as a drop  of  water in the
sea,  or as  a grain of  sea-sand on the shore, went shrinking  on, cowering
before the angry weather, and looking as if the very elements rejected them.
Day  after day, such travellers  crept past, but always, as she  thought, In
one direction - always  towards the town. Swallowed up in one phase or other
of  its  immensity,  towards which  they  seemed  impelled  by  a  desperate
fascination,  they never returned. Food for the hospitals, the  churchyards,
the prisons, the river, fever, madness, vice, and death, - they passed on to
the monster, roaring in the distance, and were lost.
     The  chill wind was howling, and the rain  was falling, and the day was
darkening moodily, when Harriet, raising her eyes from the work on which she
had long  since been  engaged with unremitting constancy,  saw one  of these
travellers approaching.
     A  woman.  A  solitary  woman  of  some  thirty  years  of  age;  tall;
well-formed; handsome; miserably dressed; the soil of many country  roads in
varied weather -  dust, chalk,  clay, gravel - clotted  on her grey cloak by
the streaming wet;  no bonnet on her head, nothing to defend  her rich black
hair from  the  rain,  but a torn handkerchief; with the fluttering  ends of
which, and with her hair, the wind blinded her  so that she often stopped to
push them back, and look upon the way she was going.
     She was in the  act of  doing  so,  when  Harriet observed her.  As her
hands, parting on her  sunburnt forehead, swept across  her face,  and threw
aside the  hindrances  that encroached  upon  it,  there was a  reckless and
regardless beauty in it:  a dauntless and depraved indifference to more than
weather: a carelessness of what was cast upon her  bare head  from Heaven or
earth: that, coupled  with  her misery and loneliness, touched  the heart of
her fellow-woman. She thought of all that was perverted  and  debased within
her, no  less  than without:  of  modest graces of  the mind,  hardened  and
steeled,  like  these  attractions of the person; of the  many  gifts of the
Creator flung  to the  winds like the  wild hair; of all  the beautiful ruin
upon which the storm was beating and the night was coming.
     Thinking  of  this, she did not turn away with a delicate indignation -
too many of  her own compassionate and tender sex too often do - but  pitied
her.
     Her fallen sister came on,  looking far  before  her, trying  with  her
eager  eyes  to pierce  the mist  in  which  the  city  was  enshrouded, and
glancing, now and  then,  from side  to  side,  with  the  bewildered -  and
uncertain aspect of a  stranger. Though her  tread was bold and  courageous,
she was fatigued, and after a moment of irresolution, - sat down upon a heap
of stones; seeking  no shelter from the rain,  but letting it rain on her as
it would.
     She was now opposite the house; raising her head after resting it for a
moment on both hands, her eyes met those of Harriet.
     In  a  moment, Harriet was at  the door; and the other, rising from her
seat at her beck, came slowly, and with no conciliatory look, towards her.
     'Why do you rest in the rain?' said Harriet, gently.
     'Because I have no other resting-place,' was the reply.
     'But  there are many places of shelter  near here.  This,' referring to
the little porch, 'is better than where you  were. You  are very welcome  to
rest here.'
     The  wanderer looked  at  her,  in doubt and surprise, but without  any
expression of thankfulness; and sitting down, and taking off one of her worn
shoes to beat out the fragments  of stone and dust  that were inside, showed
that her foot was cut and bleeding.
     Harriet uttering an expression of pity, the  traveller looked up with a
contemptuous and incredulous smile.
     'Why, what's a torn foot to  such  as me?' she said. 'And what's a torn
foot in such as me, to such as you?'
     'Come  in and wash it,' answered Harriet, mildly, 'and  let me give you
something to bind it up.'
     The woman caught her arm, and drawing it before her  own eyes, hid them
against it, and wept. Not  like a woman, but like a stern man surprised into
that  weakness;  with  a  violent heaving  of  her breast, and  struggle for
recovery, that showed how unusual the emotion was with her.
     She submitted  to  be  led  into  the house,  and,  evidently  more  in
gratitude than in any care for herself, washed  and bound the injured place.
Harriet then put before her fragments of her own frugal dinner, and when she
had eaten of them, though sparingly, besought  her, before resuming her road
(which  she showed her anxiety to do), to dry  her clothes before the  fire.
Again, more in  gratitude than  with any  evidence of  concern  in  her  own
behalf,  she sat down in front of it, and  unbinding the handkerchief  about
her  head, and  letting  her thick wet  hair fall down below her waist,  sat
drying it with the palms of her hands, and looking at the blaze.
     'I  daresay you  are  thinking,' she  said,  lifting her head suddenly,
'that I  used to be handsome,  once. I believe I was  - I  know I was - Look
here!' She  held  up  her hair roughly with both hands; seizing it as if she
would have torn  it  out; then,  threw  it  down again, and flung it back as
though it were a heap of serpents.
     'Are you a stranger in this place?' asked Harriet.
     'A  stranger!'  she returned, stopping  between  each  short reply, and
looking at the  fire.  'Yes. Ten or a dozen years a stranger.  I have had no
almanack where I have been. Ten or a dozen years. I  don't  know this  part.
It's much altered since I went away.'
     'Have you been far?'
     'Very far. Months upon months over the sea,  and far away even then.  I
have been where convicts go,' she added, looking full upon  her entertainer.
'I have been one myself.'
     'Heaven help you and forgive you!' was the gentle answer.
     'Ah! Heaven help me and forgive me!' she returned, nodding  her head at
the fire. 'If man would help some  of us a little more, God would forgive us
all the sooner perhaps.'
     But she was softened by the  earnest  manner,  and the cordial  face so
full of mildness and so free from judgment, of her, and said, less hardily:
     'We may be  about the same age, you and me. If  I am older,  it is  not
above a year or two. Oh think of that!'
     She opened her arms, as though the exhibition of her outward form would
show the moral wretch she was; and letting them drop at her sides, hung down
her head.
     'There is nothing we  may not hope to repair;  it is never  too late to
amend,' said Harriet. 'You are penitent
     'No,' she answered.  'I  am not! I can't  be. I am  no such  thing. Why
should  I  be penitent, and  all the world go free? They  talk to  me  of my
penitence. Who's penitent for the wrongs that have been done to me?'
     She rose up, bound her handkerchief about  her head, and turned to move
away.
     'Where are you going?' said Harriet.
     'Yonder,' she answered, pointing with her hand. 'To London.'
     'Have you any home to go to?'
     'I think I have a mother. She's as much a mother, as her  dwelling is a
home,' she answered with a bitter laugh.
     'Take this,' cried Harriet, putting money in her hand. 'Try to do well.
It is very little, but for one day it may keep you from harm.'
     'Are you married?' said the other, faintly, as she took it.
     'No. I live here with my brother. We have not much to spare, or I would
give you more.'
     'Will you let me kiss you?'
     Seeing no scorn or repugnance  in her  face, the  object of her charity
bent  over  her as she asked the question,  and pressed her lips against her
cheek. Once more she caught her  arm, and covered her eyes with it; and then
was gone.
     Gone into the deepening night,  and  howling  wind,  and pelting  rain;
urging her way on  towards the mist-enshrouded city where the blurred lights
gleamed; and with her black hair, and disordered head-gear, fluttering round
her reckless face.


     Another Mother and Daughter

     In  an  ugly and dark  room, an  old  woman,  ugly and  dark  too,  sat
listening  to the  wind and  rain,  and crouching over a  meagre fire.  More
constant to the last-named occupation than  the first, she never changed her
attitude,  unless,  when  any  stray  drops of  rain  fell  hissing  on  the
smouldering embers,  to raise  her head  with an awakened  attention to  the
whistling  and  pattering outside, and gradually to let  it fall again lower
and  lower and lower as she sunk into a brooding state of  thought, in which
the noises of the night were as indistinctly regarded as  is  the monotonous
rolling of a sea by one who sits in contemplation on its shore.
     There was  no light  in  the room  save that which  the  fire afforded.
Glaring sullenly  from  time  to time  like  the eye of a  fierce beast half
asleep,  it  revealed  no objects  that  needed  to be  jealous of  a better
display. A heap of rags,  a  heap of  bones,  a wretched  bed,  two or three
mutilated chairs or  stools, the  black walls and  blacker ceiling, were all
its  winking brightness  shone upon. As the old woman,  with  a gigantic and
distorted image  of  herself thrown half upon the wall behind her, half upon
the roof above, sat bending over the few  loose bricks within  which  it was
pent,  on the damp hearth of the  chimney  - for there  was no  stove -  she
looked as if she were watching at some witch's altar for a favourable token;
and but that the movement of  her chattering jaws and trembling chin was too
frequent  and  too fast for  the slow flickering  of the fire, it would have
seemed an illusion wrought by the light, as it came and went, upon a face as
motionless as the form to which it belonged.
     If  Florence  could  have stood within  the  room and  looked  upon the
original of the shadow thrown upon the wall and roof as it cowered thus over
the  fire, a  glance might have  sufficed to recall  the figure of Good  Mrs
Brown;  notwithstanding that her childish  recollection of that terrible old
woman was as grotesque and exaggerated a  presentment of the truth, perhaps,
as the shadow on  the  wall. But Florence was not there to look on; and Good
Mrs Brown remained unrecognised, and sat staring at her fire, unobserved.
     Attracted by a louder sputtering than usual, as the rain  came  hissing
down  the  chimney in  a little  stream,  the  old  woman  raised  her head,
impatiently, to listen afresh. And this time  she did not drop it again; for
there was a hand upon the door, and a footstep in the room.
     'Who's that?' she said, looking over her shoulder.
     'One who brings you news, was the answer, in a woman's voice.
     'News? Where from?'
     'From abroad.'
     'From beyond seas?' cried the old woman, starting up.
     'Ay, from beyond seas.'
     The old woman raked  the fire together,  hurriedly, and going close  to
her visitor who had entered,  and shut  the door, and who now  stood in  the
middle  of the room, put her  hand upon  the drenched cloak,  and turned the
unresisting figure, so as  to have it in the full light of the fire. She did
not  find  what she  had  expected, whatever that might be; for she  let the
cloak go again, and uttered a querulous cry of disappointment and misery.
     'What is the matter?' asked her visitor.
     'Oho! Oho!'  cried the  old  woman,  turning her  face  upward, with  a
terrible howl.
     'What is the matter?' asked the visitor again.
     'It's not my  gal!'  cried  the  old  woman,  tossing up her  arms, and
clasping  her hands above her head.  'Where's my Alice? Where's my  handsome
daughter? They've been the death of her!'
     'They've  not been the death of her yet, if your name's  Marwood,' said
the visitor.
     'Have  you seen my gal, then?' cried the  old woman. 'Has she  wrote to
me?'
     'She said you couldn't read,' returned the other.
     'No more I can!' exclaimed the old woman, wringing her hands.
     'Have you no light here?' said the other, looking round the room.
     The old woman, mumbling and  shaking her head, and muttering to herself
about her handsome daughter, brought a candle from a cupboard in the corner,
and thrusting it into  the fire with a trembling hand, lighted  it with some
difficulty and  set it on the  table. Its dirty wick  burnt  dimly at first,
being choked in its own grease; and when the bleared  eyes and failing sight
of  the  old woman could distinguish anything by its  light, her visitor was
sitting with  her arms folded, her eyes turned downwards, and a handkerchief
she had worn upon her head lying on the table by her side.
     'She  sent to me by word of mouth then, my gal, Alice?' mumbled the old
woman, after waiting for some moments. 'What did she say?'
     'Look,' returned the visitor.
     The old woman repeated the word in a scared uncertain way; and, shading
her eyes, looked at  the speaker, round  the  room, and at the  speaker once
again.
     'Alice said look  again, mother;' and  the speaker fixed  her eyes upon
her.
     Again  the old woman looked  round  the  room, and  at her visitor, and
round the  room  once more. Hastily seizing the candle, and rising  from her
seat, she held it to  the visitor's face, uttered a loud  cry,  set down the
light, and fell upon her neck!
     'It's my gal! It's my Alice! It's my handsome daughter, living and come
back!'  screamed the  old woman, rocking herself to and fro upon the  breast
that coldly  suffered  her  embrace. 'It's my  gal!  It's  my Alice! It's my
handsome  daughter, living  and come back!' she  screamed again, dropping on
the floor before her, clasping her knees, laying her head against them,  and
still rocking herself to  and fro with every frantic demonstration of  which
her vitality was capable.
     'Yes,  mother,'  returned  Alice, stooping forward  for  a  moment  and
kissing her, but  endeavouring,  even in the act,  to disengage herself from
her embrace. 'I am here, at last. Let go, mother; let go. Get up, and sit in
your chair. What good does this do?'
     'She's come back harder than she went!' cried the mother, looking up in
her face, and still  holding to her knees. 'She don't care for me! after all
these years, and all the wretched life I've led!'
     'Why> mother!' said Alice, shaking her ragged  skirts to detach the old
woman from them: 'there are two sides to that. There have been  years for me
as  well as you,  and there has been wretchedness for me as well as you. Get
up, get up!'
     Her  mother rose, and cried, and wrung her hands, and stood at a little
distance gazing on her. Then she took the candle again, and going round her,
surveyed her from head to foot,  making a low moaning all the time. Then she
put the candle down,  resumed her chair, and beating her hands together to a
kind of weary tune, and rolling herself from side to side, continued moaning
and wailing to herself.
     Alice got up, took off her wet cloak, and laid it aside. That done, she
sat  down as  before, and with her arms  folded,  and her eyes gazing at the
fire,  remained  silently  listening  with a  contemptuous face to  her  old
mother's inarticulate complainings.
     'Did  you  expect to see me return as youthful as I went away, mother?'
she said  at length, turning her eyes upon the old woman.  'Did you think  a
foreign life,  like mine, was good for good looks? One would believe so,  to
hear you!'
     'It ain't that!' cried the mother. 'She knows it!'
     'What  is it  then?' returned  the daughter.  'It had best be something
that don't last, mother, or my way out is easier than my way in.
     'Hear that!' exclaimed the mother. 'After all these years she threatens
to desert me in the moment of her coming back again!'
     'I tell  you, mother, for the second time, there have been years for me
as  well as you,' said Alice. 'Come back harder? Of  course I have come back
harder. What else did you expect?'
     'Harder to me! To her own dear mother!' cried the old woman
     'I don't know  who  began to harden me, if my own dear mother  didn't,'
she  returned,  sitting  with  her  folded  arms,  and  knitted  brows,  and
compressed lips as if she  were bent  on  excluding, by force,  every softer
feeling from her breast. 'Listen, mother, to a word or two. If we understand
each other now, we shall not fall out any more, perhaps. I went away a girl,
and have come back a woman. I went away undutiful enough, and have come back
no better, you may swear. But have you been very dutiful to me?'
     'I!'  cried the old  woman.  'To  my  gal!  A mother dutiful to her own
child!'
     'It sounds  unnatural, don't it?' returned the daughter, looking coldly
on  her  with her stern,  regardless, hardy,  beautiful  face; 'but  I  have
thought of it sometimes,  in the course of  my lone  years, till I have  got
used to it.  I have  heard some  talk about duty first and  last; but it has
always been of  my duty to other people. I have wondered  now and then  - to
pass away the time - whether no one ever owed any duty to me.
     Her mother sat mowing, and mumbling, and shaking her head, but  whether
angrily or remorsefully,  or in  denial, or only in her  physical infirmity,
did not appear.
     'There was a  child called Alice  Marwood,' said  the daughter, with  a
laugh, and looking down at herself in terrible derision  of  herself, 'born,
among  poverty  and  neglect, and  nursed  in it. Nobody taught  her, nobody
stepped forward to help her, nobody cared for her.'
     'Nobody!'  echoed  the  mother,  pointing to  herself, and striking her
breast.
     'The only care she knew,' returned the daughter, 'was to be beaten, and
stinted, and abused sometimes; and she might have done  better without that.
She lived in homes  like this, and in  the streets, with a  crowd of  little
wretches like herself; and yet she brought good looks out of this childhood.
So  much the worse for  her. She had better have been  hunted and worried to
death for ugliness.'
     'Go on! go on!' exclaimed the mother.
     'I am going on,' returned the daughter. 'There  was a girl called Alice
Marwood. She was handsome.  She was taught too late,  and  taught all wrong.
She was too well cared  for, too well trained, too well helped  on, too much
looked after. You were very fond  of her  - you  were better off  then. What
came to that girl comes to  thousands every year.  It was only ruin, and she
was born to it.'
     'After  all  these years!' whined the  old woman. 'My  gal begins  with
this.'
     'She'll soon have  ended,'  said the daughter.  'There  was  a criminal
called Alice Marwood -  a girl still, but  deserted and an outcast.  And she
was tried, and she was sentenced. And  lord, how the gentlemen in the  Court
talked about it! and how grave the judge was on her  duty, and on her having
perverted  the  gifts of nature - as if he  didn't know better than  anybody
there,  that  they had been made curses to her!  - and how he preached about
the strong arm  of the  Law - so very strong to  save her, when she  was  an
innocent and helpless little wretch! -  and how solemn and religious it  all
was! I have thought of that, many times since, to be sure!'
     She  folded her arms tightly on her breast, and laughed in  a tone that
made the howl of the old woman musical.
     'So Alice Marwood  was transported, mother,' she pursued, 'and was sent
to  learn  her  duty,  where  there was  twenty  times  less duty, and  more
wickedness, and wrong, and infamy, than here. And Alice Marwood is come back
a woman. Such  a woman  as she  ought  to be, after all this. In good  time,
there will be more solemnity, and more fine  talk, and more strong arm, most
likely, and there will be an end of her; but the gentlemen needn't be afraid
of  being thrown  out of  work.  There's crowds of little  wretches, boy and
girl, growing up in any of the streets they live in, that'll keep them to it
till they've made their fortunes.'
     The old woman leaned her elbows on the table, and resting her face upon
her  two  hands,  made a  show  of being in great distress - or really  was,
perhaps.
     'There! I have  done, mother,' said the daughter, with a motion  of her
head, as if in dismissal of the  subject. 'I have said enough. Don't let you
and I talk of being dutiful, whatever we do. Your childhood was like mine, I
suppose. So much the worse for both of us. I don't want to blame you, or  to
defend myself; why should I? That's all over long ago. But I  am a  woman  -
not a girl, now - and you and I needn't make a show of our history, like the
gentlemen in the Court. We know all about it, well enough.'
     Lost and degraded as  she was, there  was a beauty in her, both of face
and form, which, even in  its  worst expression, could not but be recognised
as  such by anyone regarding her with the  least attention. As she  subsided
into silence, and her  face which had  been harshly  agitated, quieted down;
while  her dark eyes, fixed upon the fire, exchanged the reckless light that
had animated them, for one that was softened by something like sorrow; there
shone  through  all her wayworn misery and  fatigue,  a  ray of the departed
radiance of the fallen angel.'
     Her mother, after watching her for some time without speaking, ventured
to steal  her withered hand a little  nearer to her  across  the  table; and
finding that  she  permitted this,  to touch her face,  and smooth her hair.
With  the feeling, as it seemed, that the old woman was at least sincere  in
this show of interest, Alice made no movement to check her; so, advancing by
degrees, she bound up her daughter's hair afresh, took off her wet shoes, if
they deserved the name, spread something dry upon her shoulders, and hovered
humbly  about her, muttering to herself, as  she recognised her old features
and expression more and more.
     'You are very poor, mother, I see,' said Alice, looking round, when she
had sat thus for some time.
     'Bitter poor, my deary,' replied the old woman.
     She  admired  her  daughter,  and  was   afraid  of  her.  Perhaps  her
admiration, such  as it  was, had originated  long ago, when she first found
anything  that was beautiful appearing  in the midst of the squalid fight of
her  existence. Perhaps  her  fear was  referable,  in  some  sort,  to  the
retrospect  she had so  lately heard.  Be  this  as  it  might,  she  stood,
submissively and deferentially, before her child, and inclined her  head, as
if in a pitiful entreaty to be spared any further reproach.
     'How have you lived?'
     'By begging, my deary.
     'And pilfering, mother?'
     'Sometimes, Ally  - in a very  small  way. I am old and  timid.  I have
taken trifles from children now  and then, my deary, but not  often.  I have
tramped about the country, pet, and I know what I know. I have watched.'
     'Watched?' returned the daughter, looking at her.
     'I  have  hung about  a family, my deary,'  said the  mother, even more
humbly and submissively than before.
     'What family?'
     'Hush, darling. Don't be angry  with me. I did it for the love of  you.
In  memory of my poor gal beyond seas.'  She put out her hand deprecatingly,
and drawing it back again, laid it on her lips.
     'Years ago, my deary,' she  pursued, glancing timidly  at the attentive
and stem face opposed to her, 'I came across his little child, by chance.'
     'Whose child?'
     'Not  his, Alice deary; don't look at  me like that; not his. How could
it be his? You know he has none.'
     'Whose then?' returned the daughter. 'You said his.'
     'Hush, Ally;  you  frighten me, deary. Mr Dombey's -  only Mr Dombey's.
Since then, darling, I have seen them often. I have seen him.'
     In uttering this last word, the old  woman  shrunk and  recoiled, as if
with  sudden  fear  that  her daughter  would  strike  her. But  though  the
daughter's face was fixed upon her, and expressed the most vehement passion,
she  remained  still:  except that she clenched her arms tighter and tighter
within  each other, on her bosom, as if to restrain them by that  means from
doing an injury to herself, or someone  else, in the blind fury of the wrath
that suddenly possessed her.
     'Little he thought who I was!' said the old woman, shaking her clenched
hand.
     'And little he cared!' muttered her daughter, between her teeth.
     'But there we were, said the  old woman, 'face to face. I spoke to him,
and he spoke to me. I sat and watched him as he went away down a long  grove
of trees: and at every step he took, I cursed him soul and body.'
     'He will thrive in spite of that,' returned the daughter disdainfully.
     'Ay, he is thriving,' said the mother.
     She held her peace; for the  face and form before her were  unshaped by
rage. It seemed as if the bosom would  burst  with  the emotions that strove
within it. The  effort that  constrained  and held it  pent up, was  no less
formidable  than  the  rage  itself:  no  less  bespeaking  the  violent and
dangerous  character  of  the woman who made it.  But  it succeeded, and she
asked, after a silence:
     'Is he married?'
     'No, deary,' said the mother.
     'Going to be?'
     'Not that I  know of, deary.  But his master and friend is married. Oh,
we may give him joy! We may  give 'em all joy!' cried the old woman, hugging
herself with her lean arms  in  her  exultation. 'Nothing but joy to us will
come of that marriage. Mind met'
     The daughter looked at her for an explanation.
     'But  you are wet and tired; hungry and  thirsty,' said  the old woman,
hobbling to  the cupboard; 'and  there's  little  here, and little' - diving
down into her pocket, and jingling a few half- pence on the table -  'little
here. Have you any money, Alice, deary?'
     The covetous, sharp, eager face, with which she 'asked the question and
looked  on, as her daughter took out of her bosom the little gift she had so
lately received, told almost as much of the history of this parent and child
as the child herself had told in words.
     'Is that all?' said the mother.
     'I have no more. I should not have this, but for charity.'
     'But for charity, eh, deary?' said the old woman, bending greedily over
the  table to look  at the money,  which  she appeared  distrustful  of  her
daughter's still retaining in her  hand, and gazing on. 'Humph! six  and six
is twelve, and six eighteen -  so - we must make the most of it. I'll go buy
something to eat and drink.'
     With greater alacrity than  might  have been  expected  in  one of  her
appearance - for  age and misery seemed to have made her as decrepit as ugly
- she began  to occupy her trembling hands in  tying an  old  bonnet on  her
head, and folding a torn  shawl about herself: still eyeing the money in her
daughter's hand, with the same sharp desire.
     'What  joy  is to  come to  us of this  marriage,  mother?'  asked  the
daughter. 'You have not told me that.'
     'The joy,' she replied, attiring herself, with fumbling fingers, 'of no
love at all, and much pride  and  hate, my deary. The  joy  of confusion and
strife among 'em, proud as they are, and of danger - danger, Alice!'
     'What danger?'
     'I  have  seen  what I  have seen. I  know  what I  know!' chuckled the
mother. 'Let some look to it. Let  some be upon their guard. My gal may keep
good company yet!'
     Then, seeing that in the wondering  earnestness with which her daughter
regarded her, her hand  involuntarily  closed upon the money,  the old woman
made  more  speed  to  secure  it,  and  hurriedly added,  'but I'll  go buy
something; I'll go buy something.'
     As  she  stood  with her hand stretched out before  her  daughter,  her
daughter, glancing again at  the money, put  it  to her lips  before parting
with it.
     'What, Ally! Do you kiss it?' chuckled the old woman. 'That's like me -
I often do. Oh, it's so good  to us!' squeezing her own tarnished  halfpence
up to  her bag of a throat, 'so  good to us in everything but not coming  in
heaps!'
     'I kiss it, mother,' said the daughter,  'or I did then -  I don't know
that I ever did before - for the giver's sake.'
     'The  giver, eh, deary?'  retorted the  old woman,  whose  dimmed  eyes
glistened  as she took it. 'Ay! I'll kiss it for the giver's sake, too, when
the giver can make it go  farther. But I'll go spend it, deary. I'll be back
directly.'
     'You  seem to say you know  a  great deal, mother,'  said the daughter,
following her to the door with her eyes. 'You have grown  very wise since we
parted.'
     'Know!'  croaked the old woman, coming back a step or two, 'I know more
than you  think I know more than  he thinks, deary, as I'll tell you  by and
bye. I know all'
     The daughter smiled incredulously.
     'I know of his brother, Alice,' said the old woman,  stretching out her
neck with a leer of malice absolutely frightful, 'who might  have been where
you have  been - for  stealing money -  and who lives  with his sister, over
yonder, by the north road out of London.'
     'Where?'
     'By the north road out of London, deary. You shall see the house if you
like. It  ain't much to boast of, genteel as his own is. No, no, no,'  cried
the old woman, shaking her head and laughing; for her  daughter had  started
up, 'not now; it's too  far off; it's by the milestone, where the stones are
heaped; - to-morrow, deary, if it's fine,  and you are  in  the humour.  But
I'll go spend - '
     'Stop!'  and  the daughter  flung  herself  upon her, with  her  former
passion raging like a fire.  'The  sister is a fair-faced Devil,  with brown
hair?'
     The old woman, amazed and terrified, nodded her head.
     'I see  the  shadow  of him in her face!  It's a red house standing  by
itself. Before the door there is a small green porch.'
     Again the old woman nodded.
     'In which I sat to-day! Give me back the money.'
     'Alice! Deary!'
     'Give me back the money, or you'll be hurt.'
     She  forced it  from  the old  woman's  hand  as she spoke, and utterly
indifferent to  her complainings and  entreaties, threw on the garments  she
had taken off, and hurried out, with headlong speed.
     The mother followed, limping after her as she  could, and expostulating
with  no more effect upon her than upon the wind and rain  and darkness that
encompassed them. Obdurate and fierce in her own purpose, and indifferent to
all besides, the daughter defied the weather and the distance, as if she had
known  no travel  or  fatigue, and  made for  the  house where she  had been
relieved. After some quarter of an hour's walking, the old  woman, spent and
out of breath, ventured to hold by her skirts; but she ventured no more, and
they travelled on in silence through the wet  and gloom. If  the mother  now
and  then uttered a  word of  complaint,  she stifled  it  lest her daughter
should break away from her and leave her behind; and the daughter was dumb.
     It was within  an  hour or so of midnight, when  they  left the regular
streets  behind them, and entered on the deeper gloom of that neutral ground
where  the  house  was situated. The  town lay in the  distance,  lurid  and
lowering; the bleak wind howled over the open  space; all around was  black,
wild, desolate.
     'This is a fit place for me!' said the daughter, stopping to look back.
'I thought so, when I was here before, to-day.'
     'Alice, my deary,' cried the mother, pulling  her  gently by the skirt.
'Alice!'
     'What now, mother?'
     'Don't give  the money back, my darling; please  don't. We can't afford
it. We  want  supper, deary.  Money is money, whoever gives it. Say what you
will, but keep the money.'
     'See there!' was all the daughter's answer. 'That is the house I  mean.
Is that it?'
     The old  woman nodded in the affirmative; and  a few more paces brought
them to the threshold. There was the  light of  fire and candle  in the room
where  Alice had sat to dry her clothes; and on her  knocking  at  the door,
John Carker appeared from that room.
     He was surprised to see such visitors at such an  hour, and asked Alice
what she wanted.
     'I want your sister,' she said. 'The woman who gave me money to-day.'
     At the sound of her raised voice, Harriet came out.
     'Oh!' said Alice. 'You are here! Do you remember me?'
     'Yes,' she answered, wondering.
     The  face that had humbled  itself  before  her, looked on her now with
such invincible  hatred  and defiance; and the  hand that had gently touched
her arm,  was  clenched  with such  a show  of evil purpose, as if  it would
gladly strangle her; that she drew close to her brother for protection.
     'That I  could speak with you, and not know you! That I could come near
you, and  not feel what blood was running in your  veins, by the tingling of
my own!' said Alice, with a menacing gesture.
     'What do you mean? What have I done?'
     'Done!'  returned the other.  'You  have sat me by your fire;  you have
given me food and money; you have bestowed your compassion on me! You! whose
name I spit upon!'
     The old woman, with a malevolence  that made her uglIness  quite awful,
shook her withered  hand at  the brother and sister in  confirmation of  her
daughter, but  plucked her by the skirts  again, nevertheless, imploring her
to keep the money.
     'If I dropped a tear upon your hand, may it wither it up!  If I spoke a
gentle word  in  your hearing, may it deafen  you! If I touched you with  my
lips, may the  touch be poison  to you! A curse  upon this roof that gave me
shelter! Sorrow and shame upon your head! Ruin upon all belonging to you!'
     As she said  the words, she threw  the money down upon the  ground, and
spurned it with her foot.
     'I  tread it  in the  dust: I wouldn't  take  it  if it paved my way to
Heaven! I would the bleeding  foot  that brought  me here to-day, had rotted
off, before it led me to your house!'
     Harriet, pale and trembling, restrained  her brother, and  suffered her
to go on uninterrupted.
     'It was well that  I should be pitied and forgiven by you, or anyone of
your  name, in the first hour  of my return! It was well that you should act
the kind good lady to me! I'll thank  you when I die; I'll pray for you, and
all your race, you may be sure!'
     With a fierce  action  of her hand, as if she sprinkled  hatred  on the
ground, and with it  devoted those who were  standing there to  destruction,
she looked up once at the black sky, and strode out into the wild night.
     The mother, who had plucked at her skirts again and  again in vain, and
had eyed  the money  lying on the  threshold  with an  absorbing  greed that
seemed to concentrate her faculties upon it, would have prowled about, until
the  house  was  dark,  and  then  groped  in  the  mire on  the  chance  of
repossessing  herself of  it. But the daughter drew her away,  and  they set
forth, straight, on their return to their dwelling; the old woman whimpering
and bemoaning  their loss upon  the road, and fretfully bewailing, as openly
as she dared, the undutiful conduct of her handsome girl in depriving her of
a supper, on the very first night of their reunion.
     Supperless to bed she  went,  saving for a  few  coarse  fragments; and
those she sat  mumbling and  munching  over a scrap of fire,  long after her
undutiful daughter lay asleep.
     Were this  miserable mother,  and  this  miserable daughter,  only  the
reduction  to  their  lowest  grade,  of  certain   social  vices  sometimes
prevailing higher up? In this round world of many circles within circles, do
we make a weary journey from the high grade to the low, to find at last that
they lie close together, that the two extremes touch, and that our journey's
end is  but our starting-place? Allowing for  great difference  of stuff and
texture, was the pattern of this woof repeated among gentle blood at all?
     Say,  Edith Dombey!  And Cleopatra, best of mothers,  let us  have your
testimony!


     The Happy Pair

     The dark blot on  the street is gone. Mr  Dombey's  mansion, if it be a
gap among the other houses any longer, is only  so because it is not  to  be
vied  with in its brightness, and haughtily casts them off.  The  saying is,
that home is home,  be it never so homely.  If it hold good  in the opposite
contingency, and home is home be it never so stately, what  an altar  to the
Household Gods is raised up here!
     Lights are sparkling in the windows this evening, and the ruddy glow of
fires is warm and  bright upon the hangings and soft carpets, and the dinner
waits  to  be served, and the dinner-table is handsomely  set forth,  though
only for four persons, and the side board is cumbrous with  plate. It is the
first  time that the  house has been  arranged for occupation since its late
changes, and the happy pair are looked for every minute.
     Only  second to the wedding morning, in the interest and expectation it
engenders among the household, is this evening of the coming home. Mrs Perch
is in  the kitchen taking tea; and  has made the  tour of the establishment,
and  priced  the  silks  and  damasks  by  the  yard,  and  exhausted  every
interjection in the dictionary  and out  of it expressive of admiration  and
wonder.  The  upholsterer's  foreman,   who  has  left   his  hat,  with   a
pocket-handkerchief in it, both smelling strongly  of varnish, under a chair
in the hall, lurks about  the  house,  gazing  upwards at the  cornices, and
downward  at  the  carpets,  and  occasionally,  in  a  silent  transport of
enjoyment, taking  a  rule  out  of  his pocket, and skirmishingly measuring
expensive objects,  with  unutterable feelings. Cook is in high spirits, and
says  give her a place where  there's plenty  of  company (as she'll bet you
sixpence  there will  be now), for  she is  of a lively disposition, and she
always was from a child,  and she  don't mind who knows it;  which sentiment
elicits from  the  breast  of Mrs Perch a  responsive murmur of  support and
approbation. All the housemaid hopes is, happiness for 'em - but marriage is
a lottery,  and  the more  she  thinks  about it,  the more  she  feels  the
independence and the  safety of a single life. Mr Towlinson is saturnine and
grim'  and says that's his  opinion too, and give  him War besides, and down
with  the French - for this young  man has  a general impression  that every
foreigner is a Frenchman, and must be by the laws of nature.
     At each  new sound of wheels,  they all stop> whatever they are saying,
and listen; and more  than once there is  a general starting up and a cry of
'Here they are!'  But here they are not  yet; and Cook  begins to mourn over
the  dinner, which has  been put back  twice, and  the upholsterer's foreman
still goes lurking about the rooms, undisturbed in his blissful reverie!
     Florence is ready  to receive her father and  her new  Mama Whether the
emotions that are throbbing in her  breast originate In pleasure or in pain,
she hardly knows. But the fluttering heart sends added colour to her cheeks,
and  brightness to her  eyes; and they  say  downstairs, drawing their heads
together  -  for they  always speak  softly  when they speak  of  her  - how
beautiful Miss Florence looks to-night, and what a sweet young  lady she has
grown,  poor dear!  A pause  succeeds; and then Cook, feeling, as president,
that  her sentiments are waited for, wonders whether -  and there stops. The
housemaid  wonders too,  and so  does  Mrs  Perch, who has  the happy social
faculty of always  wondering when other people wonder, without  being at all
particular   what  she  wonders  at.  Mr  Towlinson,  who  now  descries  an
opportunity  of bringing down  the  spirits of the ladies to his  own level,
says wait and see; he wishes some people were well out of this. Cook leads a
sigh then, and  a murmur of 'Ah, it's a  strange  world,  it is indeed!' and
when it  has  gone  round the  table, adds persuasively,  'but Miss Florence
can't  well be  the worse for  any  change, Tom.' Mr Towlinson's  rejoinder,
pregnant  with  frightful meaning,  is 'Oh, can't  she though!' and sensible
that  a  mere man can  scarcely be more prophetic,  or improve upon that, he
holds his peace.
     Mrs Skewton, prepared to greet her darling daughter and dear son-in-law
with open arms, is appropriately attired for that purpose in a very youthful
costume,  with short  sleeves.  At  present,  however, her ripe  charms  are
blooming in the  shade of  her own  apartments,  whence she had not  emerged
since she took possession  of them a few  hours  ago,  and where she is fast
growing fretful,  on account of  the postponement  of  dinner. The maid  who
ought to be a skeleton, but  is in truth a  buxom damsel,  is,  on the other
hand,  In a most amiable state: considering her quarterly stipend much safer
than  heretofore, and  foreseeing  a great  improvement  in  her  board  and
lodging.
     Where are  the  happy  pair, for whom this brave  home  is waiting?  Do
steam, tide,  wind,  and horses,  all abate their speed,  to linger  on such
happiness? Does the swarm  of  loves and  graces hovering about them  retard
their progress  by  its numbers? Are there so  many  flowers in their  happy
path,  that they can scarcely move along, without entanglement  in thornless
roses, and sweetest briar?
     They are  here at last! The noise of wheels is heard, grows louder, and
a carriage  drives up to  the door!  A  thundering knock from  the obnoxious
foreigner anticipates the rush of Mr Towlinson  and party to open it; and Mr
Dombey and his bride alight, and walk in arm in arm.
     'My  sweetest  Edith!'  cries  an agitated voice upon  the stairs.  'My
dearest Dombey!'  and the short  sleeves  wreath themselves  about the happy
couple in turn, and embrace them.
     Florence had come down to the hall too, but did  not advance: reserving
her  timid  welcome until these nearer and dearer transports should subside.
But the eyes of Edith sought her out, upon the threshold; and dismissing her
sensitive parent with a slight kiss on the cheek, she hurried on to Florence
and embraced her.
     'How do you do, Florence?' said Mr Dombey, putting out his hand.
     As Florence, trembling, raised it to her lips, she met  his glance. The
look was cold and distant enough, but it stirred her heart to think that she
observed in it something more of interest than  he had ever shown before. It
even expressed a kind of faint surprise, and not a disagreeable surprise, at
sight  of  her. She  dared not raise her eyes to his any  more; but she felt
that he looked  at her once again, and not less favourably. Oh what a thrill
of  joy  shot through her, awakened by  even  this intangible  and  baseless
confirmation of her hope  that she would learn to  win him, through  her new
and beautiful Mama!
     'You will not be long dressing, Mrs Dombey, I presume?' said Mr Dombey.
     'I shall be ready immediately.'
     'Let them send up dinner in a quarter of an hour.'
     With  that Mr Dombey stalked away  to  his own  dressing-room,  and Mrs
Dombey  went upstairs to  hers.  Mrs  Skewton  and Florence  repaired to the
drawing-room, where that excellent mother considered it incumbent on her  to
shed a  few irrepressible  tears,  supposed  to  be forced from  her by  her
daughter's felicity; and  which she was still drying, very gingerly, with  a
laced corner of her pocket-handkerchief, when her son-in-law appeared.
     'And how, my  dearest  Dombey, did  you  find  that  delightfullest  of
cities, Paris?' she asked, subduing her emotion.
     'It was cold,' returned Mr Dombey.
     'Gay as ever,' said Mrs Skewton, 'of course.
     'Not particularly. I thought it dull,' said Mr Dombey.
     'Fie, my dearest Dombey!' archly; 'dull!'
     'It  made  that impression upon me, Madam,' said Mr Dombey,  with grave
politeness. 'I  believe Mrs Dombey  found it dull too. She mentioned once or
twice that she thought it so.'
     'Why, you  naughty  girl!' cried  Mrs Skewton, rallying her dear child,
who  now  entered,  'what dreadfully heretical  things have you  been saying
about Paris?'
     Edith raised her eyebrows  with  an air  of weariness; and passing  the
folding-doors which were thrown open to display the suite of rooms in  their
new  and handsome garniture, and barely glancing at them  as she passed, sat
down by Florence.
     'My dear Dombey,'  said Mrs Skewton,  'how charmingly these people have
carried  out every  idea that we hinted. They have  made a perfect palace of
the house, positively.'
     'It is  handsome,' said Mr  Dombey,  looking round. 'I directed that no
expense should  be spared;  and  all that  money could do,  has been done, I
believe.'
     'And what can it not do, dear Dombey?' observed Cleopatra.
     'It is powerful, Madam,' said Mr Dombey.
     He looked in his solemn way towards his wife, but not a word said she.
     'I  hope, Mrs Dombey,' addressing her after  a moment's  silence,  with
especial distinctness; 'that these alterations meet with your approval?'
     'They are  as  handsome as  they  can be,' she  returned, with  haughty
carelessness. 'They should be so, of' course. And I suppose they are.'
     An expression  of  scorn was  habitual to the  proud  face, and  seemed
inseparable from it; but the contempt  with  which it received any appeal to
admiration, respect, or consideration on the ground of his riches, no matter
how slight  or  ordinary in  itself, was  a  new  and different  expression,
unequalled  in  intensity by any other of which  it was  capable. Whether Mr
Dombey, wrapped in his own greatness, was at all aware of this, or no, there
had not been  wanting opportunities already for his  complete enlightenment;
and at that moment it might have been effected by the one glance of the dark
eye  that  lighted on him, after  it had rapidly and scornfully surveyed the
theme of his self-glorification. He might  have read in that one glance that
nothing that  his wealth  could do,  though  it were increased  ten thousand
fold, could win him for its own sake, one look of softened recognition  from
the  defiant woman,  linked to him, but arrayed with  her whole soul against
him.  He  might have  read in that one glance that even  for its sordid  and
mercenary  influence  upon herself,  she spurned  it,  while she claimed its
utmost  power  as  her  right,  her  bargain -  as the  base  and  worthless
recompense for which she had become his wife. He might have read in it that,
ever baring her own  head for the lightning of her own contempt and pride to
strike, the most innocent allusion to the power  of his riches degraded  her
anew, sunk her deeper  in  her  own respect,  and made  the blight and waste
within her more complete.
     But dinner was announced, and Mr Dombey led  down Cleopatra; Edith  and
his  daughter following. Sweeping  past the gold and silver demonstration on
the sideboard as if it were  heaped-up dirt, and deigning to bestow  no look
upon  the elegancies around her, she  took her  place  at his board for  the
first time, and sat, like a statue, at the feast.
     Mr Dombey, being a good deal in the statue way himself, was well enough
pleased  to  see  his  handsome  wife  immovable  and  proud  and  cold. Her
deportment being always elegant and graceful, this as  a  general  behaviour
was   agreeable  and  congenial  to  him.  Presiding,  therefore,  with  his
accustomed dignity, and not at all reflecting on  his wife by any warmth  or
hilarity of his own, he performed his share of the honours of the table with
a cool  satisfaction;  and  the  installation dinner,  though  not  regarded
downstairs as  a great success, or  very  promising beginning,  passed  oil,
above, in a sufficiently polite, genteel, and frosty manner.
     Soon after tea' Mrs Skewton, who affected to be quite overcome and worn
Out by her emotions of  happiness, arising in the contemplation of  her dear
child  united  to the man of her heart, but who, there is reason to suppose,
found  this  family  party  somewhat  dull,  as  she  yawned  for  one  hour
continually behind her fan, retired to bed. Edith,  also, silently  withdrew
and  came  back'  no more. Thus,  it  happened that  Florence, who had  been
upstairs  to  have  some  conversation  with  Diogenes,   returning  to  the
drawing-room with her little work-basket, found no one there but her father,
who was walking to and fro, in dreary magnificence.
     'I  beg your pardon.  Shall I go away,  Papa?' said  Florence  faintly,
hesitating at the door.
     'No,' returned Mr Dombey, looking round over his shoulder; you can come
and go here, Florence, as you please. This is not my private room.
     Florence entered, and sat down at a distant little table with her work:
finding herself for the first time  in her life -  for the  very  first time
within her memory from her infancy to  that hour - alone with her father, as
his companion. She, his natural companion, his only child, who in her lonely
life  and grief had  known  the suffering  of a breaking heart; who,  in her
rejected  love,  had  never breathed his name  to God at night,  but with  a
tearful blessing, heavier  on him than a curse; who had prayed to die young,
so she might only die in his arms; who had, all through, repaid the agony of
slight  and  coldness, and  dislike,  with patient unexacting love, excusing
him, and pleading for him, like his better angel!
     She  trembled,  and  her eyes were  dim. His figure  seemed  to grow in
height  and bulk before her as he paced the room: now it was all blurred and
indistinct; now clear  again, and  plain; and  now she  seemed to think that
this  had happened,  just the  same, a multitude  of years ago.  She yearned
towards him, and yet shrunk from his approach. Unnatural emotion in a child,
innocent  of wrong! Unnatural the hand that  had directed  the sharp plough,
which furrowed up her gentle nature for the sowing of its seeds!
     Bent upon not distressing  or offending  him  by her distress, Florence
controlled  herself, and  sat quietly at  her work.  After  a few more turns
across and across the  room, he  left off pacing it; and  withdrawing into a
shadowy corner at some distance, where there  was an easy chair, covered his
head with a handkerchief, and composed himself to sleep.
     It  was enough for Florence to sit there watching him; turning her eyes
towards his  chair from time to time;  watching him with  her thoughts, when
her face  was intent upon  her  work; and sorrowfully glad to think that  he
could sleep, while she was there, and  that he was not  made restless by her
strange and long-forbidden presence.
     What would have been her thoughts if she had known that he was steadily
regarding her; that the veil upon his face, by accident or by design, was so
adjusted  that his sight was free, and that itnever  wandered from  her face
face  an  instant  That when  she looked towards  him'  In the obscure  dark
corner,  her  speaking eyes,  more earnest  and pathetic  in their voiceless
speech than all the orators of all the world, and impeaching him more nearly
in their mute address, met his, and did not know  it! That when she bent her
head again over her work, he  drew his breath more easily, but with the same
attention looked  upon her still - upon her white brow and her falling hair,
and busy hands; and once attracted, seemed to have no power to turn his eyes
away!
     And what were his thoughts meanwhile? With what emotions did he prolong
the  attentive  gaze covertly directed on his unknown  daughter?  Was  there
reproach to him in the quiet figure and the mild  eyes? Had he begun  to her
disregarded claims  and did they  touch him  home at last, and waken  him to
some sense of his cruel injustice?
     There are yielding moments in  the lives of the  sternest  and harshest
men, though such men  often  keep their secret well. The sight ofher in  her
beauty, almost changed into  a woman without his knowledge, may  have struck
out  some such  moments even In his life of pride. Some passing thought that
he had had a happy home within  his reach-had had a household spirit bending
at has feet - had  overlooked  it in his  stiffnecked sullen arrogance,  and
wandered  away  and lost  himself,  may  have engendered  them.  Some simple
eloquence distinctly heard,  though only uttered in  her  eyes,  unconscious
that he  read them'  as'By the death-beds I have  tended, by the childhood I
have suffered, by our meeting in this dreary house at midnight,  by the  cry
wrung from me in the anguish of my heart, oh, father, turn  to me and seek a
refuge in my love before it is too late!' may have arrested them. Meaner and
lower thoughts,  as that his dead boy was now superseded by new ties, and he
could  forgive  the having  been  supplanted  in  his  affection,  may  have
occasioned them.  The  mere association of  her as an ornament, with all the
ornament and pomp about him, may have been sufficient. But as he  looked, he
softened to her, more and  more.  As he looked, she  became blended with the
child he had  loved, and he could hardly separate the  two. As he looked, he
saw her  for an instant by a clearer and a brighter light, not bending  over
that child's pillow as his rival - monstrous thought  - but as the spirit of
his home,  and  in the  action tending himself no less, as he sat once  more
with his  bowed-down  head upon his  hand at the  foot of the little bed. He
felt inclined  to  speak to her,  and call her to him. The words  'Florence,
come here!' were rising  to his lips - but slowly and with  difficulty, they
were so  very strange - when they were  checked and stifled by a footstep on
the stair.
     It was his wife's. She had exchanged her dinner dress for a loose robe,
and unbound her hair, which fell freely about her neck. But this was not the
change in her that startled him.
     'Florence, dear,' she said, 'I have been looking for you everywhere.'
     As she sat  down  by the  side of  Florence, she stooped and kissed her
hand.  He hardly knew his wife. She was  so changed. It  was not merely that
her smile was  new to him - though that  he had  never seen; but her manner,
the tone of her voice, the  light of her eyes, the interest, and confidence,
and winning wish to please, expressed in all-this was not Edith.
     'Softly, dear Mama. Papa is asleep.'
     It  was  Edith now. She looked towards the corner where he  was, and he
knew that face and manner very well.
     'I scarcely thought you could be here, Florence.'
     Again, how altered and how softened, in an instant!
     'I left here early,' pursued Edith, 'purposely to sit upstairs and talk
with you. But, going  to  your room, I  found my bird was  flown, and I have
been waiting there ever since, expecting its return.
     If  it had been  a  bird, indeed, she could  not  have  taken  it  more
tenderly and gently to her breast, than she did Florence.
     'Come, dear!'
     'Papa will not expect to find me, I suppose, when  he wakes,' hesitated
Florence.
     'Do you think he will, Florence?' said Edith, looking full upon her.
     Florence drooped her  head, and rose, and  put up her work-basket Edith
drew her hand through her arm,  and they went out of the room like  sisters.
Her very step  was different and new to him' Mr Dombey  thought, as his eyes
followed her to the door.
     He sat in his shadowy corner so long, that the church clocks struck the
hour three  times  before he  moved  that night. All that while his face was
still  intent upon the  spot where  Florence had been seated. The room  grew
darker,  as the candles waned  and  went out; but a darkness gathered on his
face, exceeding any that the night could cast, and rested there.
     Florence  and  Edith, seated  before the fire in the remote room  where
little Paul had died, talked together for a long time. Diogenes,  who was of
the  party,  had  at  first objected to the admission of Edith, and, even In
deference to  his  mistress's wish,  had only  permitted  it under  growling
protest. But, emerging  by little and  little from the ante-room, whither he
had retired in  dudgeon,  he soon appeared to comprehend, that with the most
amiable intentions he had made one of those mistakes which will occasionally
arise in the best-regulated dogs' minds; as a friendly apology for which  he
stuck himself up on end between the two, in a very hot place in front of the
fire,  and  sat panting at  it, with his  tongue  out,  and a  most imbecile
expression of countenance, listening to the conversation.
     It turned, at first, on Florence's books and favourite pursuits, and on
the manner  in which she had  beguiled  the interval since the marriage. The
last theme opened up to her a subject which lay very near her heart, and she
said, with the tears starting to her eyes:
     'Oh, Mama! I have had a great sorrow since that day.'
     'You a great sorrow, Florence!'
     'Yes. Poor Walter is drowned.'
     Florence spread her hands before her face, and wept with all her heart.
Many as were the secret  tears which Walter's fate had cost her, they flowed
yet, when she thought or spoke of him.
     'But tell me,  dear,' said Edith, soothing her. 'Who was  Walter?  What
was he to you?'
     'He  was my brother,  Mama. After dear Paul died, we said  we  would be
brother and sister. I had known  him a long  time - from a  little child. He
knew Paul, who  liked him very  much; Paul said, almost  at  the last, "Take
care of Walter, dear Papa! I was fond of him!" Walter had been brought in to
see him, and was there then - in this room.
     'And did he take care of Walter?' inquired Edith, sternly.
     'Papa? He  appointed  him  to go abroad. He was drowned in shipwreck on
his voyage,' said Florence, sobbing.
     'Does he know that he is dead?' asked Edith.
     'I  cannot tell,  Mama. I  have no  means of knowing. Dear Mama!' cried
Florence, clinging to  her as for help, and hiding her  face upon her bosom,
'I know that you have seen - '
     'Stay!  Stop, Florence.' Edith turned so  pale, and spoke so earnestly,
that Florence did not need her restraining hand upon her lips. 'Tell me  all
about Walter first; let me understand this history all through.'
     Florence related  it, and everything  belonging to it, even down to the
friendship of  Mr  Toots,  of whom  she could hardly speak  in her  distress
without a tearful smile, although she  was deeply grateful to him.  When she
had concluded her  account,  to the whole of which Edith, holding  her hand,
listened with close attention, and when a silence had succeeded, Edith said:
     'What is it that you know I have seen, Florence?'
     'That I am not,' said Florence, with the same mute appeal, and the same
quick concealment of her face  as before, 'that  I am not a favourite child,
Mama. I never have been.  I have  never  known how to be.  I have missed the
way, and  had no  one  to  show it to me.  Oh,  let me learn from you how to
become dearer to Papa Teach me! you,  who can so well!'  and clinging closer
to  her,  with  some  broken  fervent  words of  gratitude  and  endearment,
Florence, relieved  of her sad secret, wept long, but not as painfully as of
yore, within the encircling arms of her new mother.
     Pale even to her lips, and  with a face that strove for composure until
its proud beauty  was as fixed as death, Edith  looked down upon the weeping
girl, and once kissed  her.  Then gradually disengaging herself, and putting
Florence away, she said,  stately, and  quiet  as a marble  image, and in  a
voice that deepened as she spoke, but had no other token of emotion in it:
     'Florence, you do not know me! Heaven forbid that you should learn from
me!'
     'Not learn from you?' repeated Florence, in surprise.
     'That I should teach you how to love, or be loved, Heaven forbid!' said
Edith. 'If you could teach me, that were better; but it is too late. You are
dear to me, Florence. I did not think that anything could ever be so dear to
me, as you are in this little time.'
     She saw that Florence would  have spoken here, so checked her  with her
hand, and went on.
     'I will be your true friend always. I will cherish you, as much, if not
as well as anyone in this world could. You may trust in me - I know it and I
say it, dear, - with the whole confidence even of your pure heart. There are
hosts of  women  whom he might  have married, better and truer in  all other
respects than I  am, Florence; but there is not one who could come here, his
wife, whose heart could beat with greater truth to you than mine does.'
     'I know it, dear Mama!' cried Florence. 'From that first most happy day
I have known it.'
     'Most happy day!' Edith seemed  to repeat the  words involuntarily, and
went on. 'Though the  merit is not mine, for I thought little of you until I
saw  you, let  the undeserved  reward be mine in your trust and love. And in
this - in this, Florence; on the first night of my taking up  my abode here;
I am  led on as it is best I should  be, to  say it for  the  first and last
time.'
     Florence, without knowing why, felt almost  afraid to hear her proceed,
but kept her eyes riveted on the beautiful face so fixed upon her own.
     'Never  seek to  find in me,'  said Edith,  laying  her  hand upon  her
breast, 'what is not here. Never if you can help it, Florence, fall off from
me because it is not here. Little by little you will know me better, and the
time will come when you will know  me, as I know myself. Then, be as lenient
to me as you can, and do not turn to bitterness the only sweet remembrance I
shall have.
     The  tears  that  were visible in her  eyes as  she  kept them fixed on
Florence, showed that the composed face was but as a  handsome mask; but she
preserved it, and continued:
     'I have seen what you  say,  and know  how true it is. But believe me -
you  will  soon,  if you  cannot now - there is  no  one on this  earth less
qualified to  set it right or help you, Florence, than I. Never ask me  why,
or speak to me about  it or of my husband, more. There should be, so  far, a
division, and a silence between us two, like the grave itself.'
     She sat  for some time  silent;  Florence scarcely venturing to breathe
meanwhile,  as dim  and imperfect shadows  of  the truth,  and all its daily
consequences, chased  each  other  through  her  terrified, yet  incredulous
imagination. Almost as soon as  she had ceased to speak, Edith's face  began
to subside from its set composure to that quieter and more relenting aspect,
which it usually wore when she and Florence  were alone together. She shaded
it, after this  change,  with  her hands;  and  when she arose, and with  an
affectionate  embrace  bade Florence  good-night,  went quickly, and without
looking round.
     But when Florence was in bed, and the room was dark except for the glow
of the  fire,  Edith returned, and saying that she could not sleep, and that
her dressing-room was lonely, drew a  chair upon the hearth, and watched the
embers  as they died  away.  Florence  watched them too  from her bed, until
they, and the noble figure  before  them, crowned with its flowing hair, and
in its  thoughtful  eyes  reflecting  back their light,  became confused and
indistinct, and finally were lost in slumber.
     In her sleep, however,  Florence could not lose an undefined impression
of  what had so recently passed. It  formed the subject of her  dreams,  and
haunted her; now in one shape, now in another; but always oppressively;  and
with a sense of fear.  She dreamed of seeking her father in wildernesses, of
following  his  track up  fearful  heights, and  down into  deep  mines  and
caverns;  of  being  charged  with  something  that would  release him  from
extraordinary  suffering - she knew not what, or why -  yet never being able
to attain the  goal and set  him free. Then she saw him dead, upon that very
bed, and  in that very room, and knew that  he  had  never loved her to  the
last, and fell upon his  cold breast, passionately weeping. Then  a prospect
opened, and a river flowed,  and a plaintive voice  she knew,  cried, 'It is
running on, Floy! It has never stopped! You are moving with it!' And she saw
him at a distance stretching out his  arms towards her, while a figure  such
as Walter's used  to be,  stood near him, awfully serene and still. In every
vision, Edith came  and went, sometimes to her joy, sometimes to her sorrow,
until  they were  alone upon the brink of a dark  grave, and  Edith pointing
down, she looked and saw - what! - another Edith lying at the bottom.
     In  the terror of this dream, she  cried out and awoke, she thought.  A
soft  voice  seemed to  whisper in her ear, 'Florence, dear  Florence, it is
nothing but a dream!' and stretching out her arms,  she returned  the caress
of  her new Mama,  who then went out at the door  in the light  of  the grey
morning.  In a  moment, Florence  sat  up  wondering whether this had really
taken  place  or  not;  but she was only  certain  that it  was grey morning
indeed, and  that the blackened ashes  of the  fire were  on the hearth, and
that she was alone.
     So passed the night on which the happy pair came home.


     Housewarming

     Many succeeding  days  passed in  like manner; except that  there  were
numerous  visits received and paid, and that Mrs Skewton held little  levees
in her own apartments, at which Major Bagstock was a frequent attendant, and
that Florence encountered  no second  look from her father, although she saw
him every day.  Nor had she  much communication in  words with her new Mama,
who was imperious and proud  to all the house  but her - Florence  could not
but  observe that - and who, although she always sent for her or went to her
when  she  came home from visiting,  and would  always go into  her room  at
night,  before retiring to  rest,  however late the  hour, and never lost an
opportunity of being with her, was often her silent and thoughtful companion
for a long time together.
     Florence, who had hoped for  so much from this marriage, could not help
sometimes comparing  the  bright  house  with the faded dreary place out  of
which it had arisen, and wondering when, in any shape, it would begin  to be
a home;  for that it was no home then, for anyone, though everything went on
luxuriously and  regularly, she had always a secret misgiving. Many an  hour
of  sorrowful reflection by day and night, and many a tear of blighted hope,
Florence bestowed upon the assurance her new Mama had given her so strongly,
that there was no one on  the earth more powerless than herself to teach her
how to win her father's heart. And  soon Florence began to think -  resolved
to think would be the  truer  phrase  -  that as  no one knew  so well,  how
hopeless of being subdued or  changed  her  father's coldness to her was, so
she  had  given  her  this  warning,  and  forbidden  the  subject  in  very
compassion.  Unselfish  here, as  in  her  every  act  and  fancy,  Florence
preferred  to bear the pain  of this  new wound, rather  than  encourage any
faint foreshadowings of the truth as it concerned her father; tender of him,
even in her wandering thoughts. As for his home, she hoped it would become a
better one, when its state of novelty and transition should be over; and for
herself, thought little and lamented less.
     If none of the new family  were particularly at home in private, it was
resolved that  Mrs  Dombey  at least should  be  at home in public,  without
delay. A series of entertainments in celebration of  the late  nuptials, and
in  cultivation  of society, were  arranged,  chiefly by Mr  Dombey  and Mrs
Skewton; and it  was settled that the festive proceedings should commence by
Mrs  Dombey's  being  at home upon  a certain  evening, and by  Mr  and  Mrs
Dombey's requesting the honour  of the  company of a great many  incongruous
people to dinner on the same day.
     Accordingly, Mr Dombey produced a list of sundry  eastern  magnates who
were to be bidden  to this feast on his behalf; to which Mrs Skewton, acting
for her dearest child, who was  haughtily careless on the subject, subjoined
a western list, comprising Cousin  Feenix,  not yet returned to Baden-Baden,
greatly to the detriment of his  personal estate; and  a variety of moths of
various degrees and ages, who had,  at  various  times,  fluttered round the
light  of her fair daughter, or herself, without any lasting injury to their
wings.  Florence was  enrolled as a member of the dinner-party,  by  Edith's
command - elicited by  a  moment's  doubt and hesitation on the  part of Mrs
Skewton; and Florence, with a wondering  heart, and with a quick instinctive
sense of everything that grated  on her father in the least, took her silent
share in the proceedings of the day.
     The proceedings  commenced  by Mr Dombey,  in a cravat of extraordinary
height and stiffness, walking  restlessly about  the  drawing-room until the
hour appointed for dinner; punctual to which, an  East India  Director,'  of
immense wealth, in a waistcoat apparently constructed in serviceable deal by
some plain  carpenter, but  really  engendered  in  the  tailor's  art,  and
composed of  the  material called  nankeen,  arrived and was  received by Mr
Dombey alone. The next stage of  the proceedings was Mr Dombey's sending his
compliments to Mrs Dombey, with  a correct statement  of the  time;  and the
next, the East India Director's falling prostrate, in a conversational point
of view,  and as  Mr Dombey was not the man to pick  him up, staring at  the
fire until rescue appeared in the shape of  Mrs Skewton;  whom the director,
as  a  pleasant start in  life for the evening,  mistook for Mrs Dombey, and
greeted with enthusiasm.
     The next arrival was  a  Bank Director, reputed to  be able to  buy  up
anything -  human  Nature generally, if  he  should  take it in his  head to
influence  the  money market in that  direction -  but who was a wonderfully
modest-spoken man, almost boastfully so, and mentioned his 'little place' at
Kingston-upon-Thames, and its just being barely equal to giving Dombey a bed
and a chop, if he would come and visit it. Ladies, he said, it was not for a
man who lived in his quiet  way to take upon himself to invite  - but if Mrs
Skewton and  her daughter, Mrs Dombey, should  ever find themselves in  that
direction,  and  would do  him the honour  to  look  at  a  little  bit of a
shrubbery they would find there, and a poor little  flower-bed or so,  and a
humble apology for a pinery, and two or three little  attempts  of that sort
without  any pretension, they would distinguish him very much.  Carrying out
his character, this gentleman was very plainly dressed, in a wisp of cambric
for a neckcloth, big shoes, a coat that was too loose for him, and a pair of
trousers that were too spare; and  mention  being made of  the Opera by  Mrs
Skewton, he  said he very seldom went there, for  he couldn't afford  it. It
seemed greatly to delight and exhilarate him to say so: and he beamed on his
audience  afterwards,  with  his   hands  in  his  pockets,   and  excessive
satisfaction twinkling in his eyes.
     Now Mrs  Dombey appeared,  beautiful  and proud, and  as disdainful and
defiant of them all as if the bridal wreath upon her head had been a garland
of  steel spikes  put on  to force  concession from her which she  would die
sooner than yield. With her  was  Florence.  When they entered together, the
shadow  of  the  night  of the  return  again darkened Mr Dombey's face. But
unobserved;  for  Florence did not  venture to  raise her  eyes  to his, and
Edith's indifference was too supreme to take the least heed of him.
     The  arrivals  quickly became numerous.  More  directors,  chairmen  of
public  companies, elderly  ladies carrying  burdens on their heads for full
dress, Cousin Feenix, Major Bagstock, friends  of Mrs Skewton, with the same
bright  bloom  on  their  complexion, and  very  precious necklaces on  very
withered necks. Among  these, a young  lady of sixty-five, remarkably coolly
dressed as to  her back and shoulders, who spoke  with an engaging lisp, and
whose eyelids wouldn't keep up well, without a great deal of trouble on  her
part, and whose  manners had  that  indefinable  charm  which  so frequently
attaches to the  giddiness of youth. As the greater part of Mr Dombey's list
were disposed to be taciturn, and the greater part of Mrs Dombey's list were
disposed  to  be  talkative,  and  there  was  no sympathy between them, Mrs
Dombey's list, by magnetic  agreement, entered into a bond  of union against
Mr Dombey's  list, who, wandering about the  rooms in  a desolate manner, or
seeking refuge in corners,  entangled themselves with company coming in, and
became  barricaded behind sofas, and had doors  opened smartly from  without
against their heads, and underwent every sort of discomfiture.
     When dinner  was announced,  Mr Dombey  took  down an old  lady like  a
crimson velvet pincushion  stuffed with  bank notes, who might have been the
identical old  lady of Threadneedle  Street, she was  so rich, and looked so
unaccommodating; Cousin  Feenix took  down  Mrs Dombey; Major Bagstock  took
down  Mrs Skewton; the  young  thing  with the shoulders was bestowed, as an
extinguisher,  upon the East India Director; and  the remaining  ladies were
left on view in the drawing-room by the remaining gentlemen, until a forlorn
hope volunteered to conduct them  downstairs, and those  brave spirits  with
their captives blocked up the dining-room door,  shutting out seven mild men
in the stony-hearted hall.  When all  the rest were got in and  were seated,
one  of  these  mild  men still  appeared,  in  smiling  confusion,  totally
destitute and unprovided for, and, escorted by the butler, made the complete
circuit of the table twice before his chair could be found, which it finally
was,  on Mrs Dombey's left  hand; after which the mild man never held up his
head again.
     Now,  the spacious  dining-room,  with  the  company  seated round  the
glittering table, busy with their  glittering  spoons, and knives and forks,
and plates, might have been taken for a grown-up exposition of Tom Tiddler's
ground, where  children  pick up gold  and  silver.'  Mr Dombey, as Tiddler,
looked  his character to admiration; and the long plateau of precious  metal
frosted,  separating  him  from  Mrs Dombey, whereon  frosted Cupids offered
scentless flowers to each of them, was allegorical to see.
     Cousin Feenix was in  great  force, and looked astonishingly young. But
he was sometimes  thoughtless  in his good humour - his memory  occasionally
wandering  like  his  legs  - and  on  this occasion  caused the  company to
shudder. It happened thus. The young lady with the back, who regarded Cousin
Feenix with sentiments of tenderness, had entrapped the East India  Director
into leading her to the chair next him; in return for which good office, she
immediately abandoned the Director, who, being shaded on the other side by a
gloomy black velvet hat surmounting a bony and speechless female with a fan,
yielded to a depression  of spirits and withdrew into himself. Cousin Feenix
and the young lady were very lively and humorous, and the young lady laughed
so  much  at  something Cousin  Feenix  related  to her, that Major Bagstock
begged  leave to  inquire  on  behalf  of  Mrs Skewton  (they  were  sitting
opposite,  a little lower down), whether that might not be considered public
property.
     'Why, upon  my  life,' said Cousin Feenix,  'there's nothing  in it; it
really is not worth repeating: in point of  fact, it's merely an anecdote of
Jack  Adams.  I dare say my friend  Dombey;' for  the general attention  was
concentrated  on Cousin Feenix;  'may remember Jack Adams,  Jack Adams,  not
Joe;  that was his brother. Jack - little Jack - man with a cast in his eye,
and slight impediment in his speech - man who sat for somebody's borough. We
used to call him in my parliamentary time W. P. Adams, in consequence of his
being  Warming  Pan for a young fellow who  was in  his minority. Perhaps my
friend Dombey may have known the man?'
     Mr Dombey, who was as likely  to  have known Guy Fawkes, replied in the
negative.   But  one  of  the  seven  mild   men  unexpectedly  leaped  into
distinction, by saying  he had known him, and adding - 'always wore  Hessian
boots!'
     'Exactly,' said Cousin Feenix, bending forward to see the mild man, and
smile encouragement at him down the table. 'That was Jack. Joe wore - '
     'Tops!' cried the mild man, rising in public estimation every Instant.
     'Of course,' said Cousin Feenix, 'you were intimate with em?'
     'I knew them both,' said the mild man.  With whom Mr Dombey immediately
took wine.
     'Devilish  good  fellow,  Jack!'  said  Cousin  Feenix,  again  bending
forward, and smiling.
     'Excellent,' returned the mild man, becoming bold on his  success. 'One
of the best fellows I ever knew.'
     'No doubt you have heard the story?' said Cousin Feenix.
     'I  shall know,' replied the bold mild  man,  'when I  have heard  your
Ludship tell it.' With that, he leaned back in  his chair  and smiled at the
ceiling, as knowing it by heart, and being already tickled.
     'In  point  of  fact, it's nothing of a  story in itself,' said  Cousin
Feenix, addressing the table with a smile, and a gay shake of his head, 'and
not worth a word of preface. But it's illustrative of the neatness of Jack's
humour. The fact  is,  that  Jack  was invited down to a marriage - which  I
think took place in Berkshire?'
     'Shropshire,' said the bold mild man, finding himself appealed to.
     'Was it? Well! In point  of fact it might have been in any shire,' said
Cousin  Feenix.  'So  my  friend  being  invited down  to this  marriage  in
Anyshire,' with a pleasant sense of the readiness of this joke,  'goes. Just
as some of us, having had the honour  of being invited to the marriage of my
lovely and accomplished relative with my friend Dombey, didn't require to be
asked twice,  and were devilish  glad  to be  present  on so interesting  an
occasion. - Goes - Jack goes. Now, this marriage  was, in point of fact, the
marriage of  an uncommonly fine  girl with a man for whom  she didn't care a
button, but whom she accepted on account of his property, which was immense.
When Jack returned to town,  after the nuptials,  a man he knew, meeting him
in  the lobby  of  the  House  of  Commons, says,  "Well, Jack, how  are the
ill-matched  couple?" "Ill-matched," says Jack "Not at all. It's a perfectly
and equal  transaction. She is  regularly bought, and you may take your oath
he is as regularly sold!"'
     In his full  enjoyment of this culminating  point  of  his  story,  the
shudder, which had gone all  round the table like an  electric spark, struck
Cousin Feenix, and he  stopped. Not a smile occasioned  by  the only general
topic of conversation broached that day, appeared  on any  face. A  profound
silence ensued; and  the wretched mild man, who  had been as innocent of any
real foreknowledge of  the story  as  the  child unborn,  had  the exquisite
misery  of reading in every eye  that he was regarded as  the prime mover of
the mischief.
     Mr Dombey's face was  not a changeful  one, and being cast in its mould
of  state that day, showed little other apprehension  of the story,  if any,
than that which he expressed when he said solemnly, amidst the silence, that
it was 'Very  good.' There was a rapid  glance from  Edith towards Florence,
but otherwise she remained, externally, impassive and unconscious.
     Through the various stages of rich meats and wines, continual  gold and
silver, dainties of earth, air,  fire, and water, heaped-up fruits, and that
unnecessary article in Mr Dombey's  banquets - ice-  the dinner  slowly made
its way: the later stages being achieved to the sonorous  music of incessant
double  knocks, announcing the arrival  of  visitors,  whose  portion of the
feast was limited to the smell thereof. When Mrs Dombey rose, it was a sight
to see  her lord, with stiff throat and erect head, hold the door  open  for
the withdrawal  of the  ladies; and  to see how she swept past  him with his
daughter on her arm.
     Mr  Dombey was  a  grave sight, behind the  decanters,  in  a state  of
dignity; and the East India Director was a forlorn sight near the unoccupied
end  of the table, in a  state of solitude;  and the  Major  was  a military
sight, relating stories of the Duke of York  to  six of the seven  mild  men
(the ambitious one was utterly quenched); and the Bank  Director was a lowly
sight, making a plan of his little attempt at a pinery, with dessert-knives,
for a group  of  admirers; and Cousin Feenix  was a thoughtful sight, as  he
smoothed his long wristbands and  stealthily adjusted his wig. But all these
sights  were of short duration, being  speedily broken up by coffee, and the
desertion of the room.
     There  was  a  throng  in the  state-rooms  upstairs, increasing  every
minute; but still Mr Dombey's  list of visitors appeared to have some native
impossibility of amalgamation with Mrs Dombey's list, and no one  could have
doubted which was which. The  single exception  to this rule perhaps  was Mr
Carker, who now smiled among the company, and who, as he stood in the circle
that was gathered about Mrs Dombey -  watchful  of her, of them,  his chief,
Cleopatra and the Major,  Florence, and everything around - appeared at ease
with  both divisions of  guests, and  not marked as exclusively belonging to
either.
     Florence had a  dread of  him, which made  his presence in  the room  a
nightmare to her.  She could  not avoid the recollection of it, for her eyes
were  drawn  towards him every now and then, by an attraction of dislike and
distrust that  she could not resist.  Yet  her thoughts were busy with other
things;  for  as  she  sat apart  - not unadmired  or  unsought, but  in the
gentleness of her quiet spirit - she felt how little part  her father had in
what was  going on, and saw, with pain, how ill at ease he seemed to be, and
how little regarded  he was as  he  lingered about  near the door, for those
visitors whom he wished to  distinguish with  particular attention, and took
them  up  to  introduce  them to  his  wife, who  received them  with  proud
coldness, but showed  no interest or  wish to please, and never,  after  the
bare ceremony of reception, in consultation  of his wishes, or in welcome of
his friends, opened her lips. It  was not the less  perplexing or painful to
Florence,  that she who acted  thus, treated  her so  kindly  and  with such
loving consideration, that it almost seemed an ungrateful return on her part
even to know of what was passing before her eyes.
     Happy Florence would have been, might  she  have  ventured to  bear her
father company, by  so much as a look;  and  happy  Florence was, in  little
suspecting the main cause of  his  uneasiness. But afraid of seeming to know
that he was placed at any did advantage, lest he should be resentful of that
knowledge; and divided between her  impulse towards  him,  and her  grateful
affection for  Edith; she scarcely dared to  raise  her eyes towards either.
Anxious  and unhappy  for them both, the  thought stole on her  through  the
crowd, that it might have been better for them if this noise  of tongues and
tread of feet had never come there, - if the old dulness and decay had never
been replaced by novelty and  splendour,  - if the neglected child had found
no friend in Edith, but had lived her solitary life, unpitied and forgotten.
     Mrs Chick had  some such thoughts  too, but  they  were  not so quietly
developed in  her  mind. This good  matron  had  been outraged in the  first
instance  by  not  receiving an invitation  to  dinner. That blow  partially
recovered, she had  gone to a vast expense  to make such a figure before Mrs
Dombey  at  home,  as  should dazzle  the  senses  of  that lady,  and  heap
mortification, mountains high, on the head of Mrs Skewton.
     'But I am made,' said  Mrs Chick to Mr Chick, 'of no more account  than
Florence! Who takes the smallest notice of me? No one!'
     'No one, my dear,' assented Mr Chick, who was seated by the side of Mrs
Chick against  the wall, and  could console  himself, even  there, by softly
whistling.
     'Does it at  all appear  as if I was wanted here?' exclaimed Mrs Chick,
with flashing eyes.
     'No, my dear, I don't think it does,' said Mr Chic
     'Paul's mad!' said Mrs Chic
     Mr Chick whistled.
     'Unless you are  a monster, which I sometimes think you are,'  said Mrs
Chick with candour, 'don't sit there humming tunes. How anyone with the most
distant feelings of a man, can see that  mother-in-law of Paul's, dressed as
she  is,  going  on like  that, with  Major Bagstock,  for whom, among other
precious things, we are indebted to your Lucretia Tox
     'My Lucretia Tox, my dear!' said Mr Chick, astounded.
     'Yes,' retorted Mrs Chick, with great severity, 'your Lucretia Tox -  I
say how anybody can see that mother-in-law of Paul's, and  that haughty wife
of Paul's, and these indecent  old  frights with  their backs and shoulders,
and in short  this at  home generally, and hum - ' on which  word  Mrs Chick
laid  a scornful emphasis that  made Mr Chick start, 'is, I thank Heaven,  a
mystery to me!
     Mr Chick screwed his mouth  into a form irreconcilable with humming  or
whistling, and looked very contemplative.
     'But  I  hope I  know what is due to myself,'  said Mrs Chick, swelling
with  indignation, 'though Paul  has forgotten  what is due to me. I  am not
going to sit here, a member of this family, to be taken no  notice of. I  am
not the dirt under Mrs Dombey's feet, yet -  not quite yet,' said Mrs Chick,
as if she expected to become so, about the day after to-morrow. 'And I shall
go. I will not  say  (whatever I may think) that this affair has been got up
solely to degrade and insult me. I shall merely go. I shall not be missed!'
     Mrs Chick rose  erect  with  these words, and took the arm of Mr Chick,
who escorted her from the room,  after half  an hour's  shady sojourn there.
And it is  due  to  her penetration to  observe  that she  certainly was not
missed at all.
     But she was not the only indignant guest; for  Mr  Dombey's list (still
constantly in  difficulties) were, as  a  body, indignant  with Mrs Dombey's
list, for looking at them through eyeglasses, and audibly  wondering who all
those people were; while Mrs Dombey's list complained  of weariness, and the
young thing with the shoulders, deprived of the attentions of that gay youth
Cousin Feenix (who went away from  the dinner-table), confidentially alleged
to thirty or forty friends that  she was bored to death.  All the old ladies
with the burdens on  their heads, had  greater  or  less  cause of complaint
against Mr Dombey; and the Directors and Chairmen coincided in thinking that
if  Dombey must marry,  he had better have married somebody  nearer his  own
age, not  quite  so handsome,  and a little better  off. The general opinion
among this class of gentlemen was, that it was a weak thing in  Dombey,  and
he'd live  to repent it. Hardly  anybody there, except the mild men, stayed,
or went away, without considering himself or herself neglected and aggrieved
by Mr Dombey  or Mrs  Dombey; and the speechless female in the black  velvet
hat  was  found to have been stricken  mute, because the lady in the crimson
velvet had been handed down before her. The nature even of  the mild men got
corrupted, either from their curdling it with too much lemonade, or from the
general  inoculation  that  prevailed; and  they made sarcastic jokes to one
another, and  whispered  disparagement  on  stairs  and  in  bye-places. The
general  dissatisfaction  and  discomfort  so   diffused  itself,  that  the
assembled footmen in the hall were as well acquainted with it as the company
above. Nay,  the very linkmen outside got hold of it, and compared the party
to  a  funeral out of mourning, with  none of the company remembered  in the
will. At  last,  the  guests were all  gone, and the  linkmen too;  and  the
street, crowded so long  with  carriages, was clear; and  the  dying  lights
showed no one in  the rooms,  but Mr  Dombey and Mr Carker, who were talking
together apart, and Mrs  Dombey and  her  mother:  the former  seated  on an
ottoman;  the  latter  reclining  in  the Cleopatra attitude,  awaiting  the
arrival of her maid. Mr Dombey having finished his  communication to Carker,
the latter advanced obsequiously to take leave.
     'I trust,' he said, 'that the fatigues of this delightful evening  will
not inconvenience Mrs Dombey to-morrow.'
     'Mrs Dombey,'  said  Mr Dombey,  advancing,  'has  sufficiently  spared
herself fatigue, to  relieve you from any anxiety  of that kind. I regret to
say, Mrs Dombey, that I could have wished you had fatigued yourself a little
more on this occasion.
     She looked at him  with a supercilious glance, that it seemed not worth
her while to protract, and turned away her eyes without speaking.
     'I am  sorry, Madam,' said Mr Dombey, 'that you should not have thought
it your duty -
     She looked at him again.
     'Your  duty, Madam,' pursued  Mr Dombey,  'to have  received my friends
with a little more  deference. Some of  those whom you  have been pleased to
slight  to-night in a very marked manner,  Mrs Dombey,  confer a distinction
upon you, I must tell you, in any visit they pay you.
     'Do you know that there is someone  here?' she returned, now looking at
him steadily.
     'No! Carker! I beg that you do not. I insist that you do not,' cried Mr
Dombey,  stopping  that noiseless gentleman in his  withdrawal.  'Mr Carker,
Madam,  as  you know, possesses my confidence. He is  as well acquainted  as
myself  with the  subject on  which I speak. I beg  to  tell you,  for  your
information, Mrs Dombey, that I consider these wealthy and important persons
confer a distinction upon me:' and Mr Dombey drew himself up, as  having now
rendered them of the highest possible importance.
     'I  ask you,'  she  repeated,  bending her disdainful, steady gaze upon
him, 'do you know that there is someone here, Sir?'
     'I must entreat,' said Mr Carker, stepping forward, 'I must beg, I must
demand, to be released. Slight and unimportant as this difference is - '
     Mrs Skewton,  who had been intent upon her daughter's face, took him up
here.
     'My sweetest Edith,'  she said,  'and my dearest Dombey; our  excellent
friend Mr Carker, for so I am sure I ought to mention him - '
     Mr Carker murmured, 'Too much honour.'
     ' - has used the very words that were in my mind, and that I have  been
dying,   these   ages,  for  an  opportunity  of  introducing.   Slight  and
unimportant! My sweetest Edith, and  my dearest Dombey, do  we not know that
any difference between you two - No, Flowers; not now.
     Flowers was  the maid, who, finding gentlemen  present,  retreated with
precipitation.
     'That  any difference between you two,' resumed Mrs Skewton,  'with the
Heart  you possess in common, and  the excessively charming bond  of feeling
that there  is between you, must be slight and unimportant? What words could
better define the fact? None.  Therefore  I  am  glad  to  take this  slight
occasion - this trifling occasion, that is  so replete with Nature, and your
individual characters, and all that - so truly calculated to bring the tears
into a  parent's eyes -  to say that I attach no importance to  them  in the
least, except as developing these minor elements of  Soul; and that,  unlike
most Mamas-in-law  (that  odious phrase, dear  Dombey!)  as they  have  been
represented  to  me to exist in  this I  fear too artificial  world, I never
shall attempt to interpose between you,  at  such a time, and never can much
regret, after all, such little flashes of the torch of What's-his-name - not
Cupid, but the other delightful creature.
     There  was a sharpness in the good mother's glance at both her children
as she spoke, that may have been expressive  of a direct and well-considered
purpose hidden between these  rambling words. That  purpose, providently  to
detach herself in the beginning from  all the clankings of their chain  that
were to come, and to shelter herself with the fiction of her innocent belief
in their mutual affection, and their adaptation to each other.
     'I have pointed out to Mrs Dombey,' said Mr Dombey, in his most stately
manner, 'that in  her conduct thus  early in our  married life,  to which  I
object, and which, I  request,  may  be  corrected. Carker,' with  a  nod of
dismissal, 'good-night to you!'
     Mr Carker bowed to the imperious form of the Bride, whose sparkling eye
was  fixed  upon her husband; and stopping  at Cleopatra's couch  on his way
out,  raised  to his lips the hand she graciously extended to him, in  lowly
and admiring homage.
     If his handsome  wife had reproached him, or even changed  countenance,
or broken the silence in which she remained, by one word, now that they were
alone (for Cleopatra made  off with  all speed), Mr Dombey would  have  been
equal  to  some  assertion  of  his  case  against  her.  But  the  intense,
unutterable, withering  scorn,  with which,  after  looking  upon  him,  she
dropped her  eyes, as if he were too worthless and indifferent to  her to be
challenged with a syllable - the ineffable  disdain and haughtiness in which
she sat  before  him  - the cold inflexible  resolve  with  which  her every
feature seemed to bear him down, and put him  by - these, he had no resource
against; and he left her, with her whole overbearing beauty concentrated  on
despising him.
     Was he coward enough to watch her, an  hour afterwards, on the old well
staircase, where he had once seen Florence in the moonlight, toiling up with
Paul? Or  was he in  the dark  by  accident, when, looking  up, he  saw  her
coming, with a light, from the room where Florence lay, and marked again the
face so changed, which he could not subdue?
     But  it could  never alter as his own  did. It never,  in its uttermost
pride  and passion,  knew  the shadow  that had  fallen on his,  in the dark
corner, on  the night of the return; and often  since; and which deepened on
it now, as he looked up.


     More Warnings than One

     Florence,  Edith,  and  Mrs  Skewton  were together next day,  and  the
carriage  was  waiting at the door to  take  them out. For Cleopatra had her
galley  again now,  and  Withers, no  longer  the-wan,  stood upright  in  a
pigeon-breasted jacket and military trousers, behind her wheel-less chair at
dinner-time and  butted no  more.  The  hair of  Withers  was  radiant  with
pomatum,  in  these days  of down, and he  wore kid gloves  and smelt of the
water of Cologne.
     They were assembled in Cleopatra's room The Serpent of old Nile (not to
mention her  disrespectfully) was reposing on her sofa,  sipping her morning
chocolate  at  three  o'clock  in the afternoon, and  Flowers  the Maid  was
fastening on her youthful cuffs and frills, and performing a kind of private
coronation  ceremony  on  her,  with  a  peach-coloured velvet  bonnet;  the
artificial roses in which nodded to uncommon advantage, as the palsy trifled
with them, like a breeze.
     'I  think I  am  a  little  nervous this  morning,  Flowers,' said  Mrs
Skewton. 'My hand quite shakes.'
     'You were  the life of the party last night, Ma'am, you know,' returned
Flowers, ' and you suffer for it, to-day, you see.'
     Edith, who had  beckoned Florence  to the window, and was looking  out,
with her back turned on the toilet of her esteemed mother, suddenly withdrew
from it, as if it had lightened.
     'My darling  child,' cried Cleopatra, languidly, 'you are  not nervous?
Don't tell me,  my dear  Edith,  that you,  so  enviably self-possessed, are
beginning to be  a martyr too,  like your unfortunately constituted  mother!
Withers, someone at the door.'
     'Card, Ma'am,' said Withers, taking it towards Mrs Dombey.
     'I am going out,' she said without looking at it.
     'My dear love,' drawled Mrs Skewton, 'how very odd to send that message
without seeing the  name! Bring  it  here, Withers. Dear  me,  my  love;  Mr
Carker, too! That very sensible person!'
     'I am going out,' repeated Edith, in so imperious  a tone that Withers,
going to the door, imperiously informed the  servant  who was  waiting, 'Mrs
Dombey is going out. Get along with you,' and shut it on him.'
     But  the  servant came back  after  a  short absence, and whispered  to
Withers again,  who once more, and not  very  willingly,  presented  himself
before Mrs Dombey.
     'If you please, Ma'am, Mr Carker sends  his respectful compliments, and
begs you would spare him one minute, if you could - for business, Ma'am,  if
you please.'
     'Really, my  love,'  said  Mrs Skewton in  her mildest manner;  for her
daughter's  face was threatening; 'if you would allow me to  offer a word, I
should recommend - '
     'Show him this way,' said Edith. As Withers disappeared to execute  the
command,  she  added,  frowning  on  her  mother,  'As   he  comes  at  your
recommendation, let him come to your room.'
     'May I - shall I go away?' asked Florence, hurriedly.
     Edith  nodded yes,  but on her way to the door Florence met the visitor
coming   in.  With  the  same   disagreeable  mixture   of  familiarity  and
forbearance, with which he had first addressed her, he  addressed her now in
his softest manner - hoped she was quite well - needed not to ask, with such
looks to  anticipate the answer  - had scarcely had  the honour to know her,
last night, she was so greatly  changed - and held the door open  for her to
pass out; with a secret sense of power in  her shrinking  from him, that all
the deference and politeness of his manner could not quite conceal.
     He  then  bowed himself for  a moment  over Mrs Skewton's condescending
hand, and lastly bowed to Edith. Coldly returning his salute without looking
at  him, and  neither seating  herself  nor inviting him  to  be seated, she
waited for him to speak.
     Entrenched  in her pride and power, and  with all  the obduracy  of her
spirit summoned about her, still her old conviction that  she and her mother
had been  known  by  this  man in  their  worst  colours, from  their  first
acquaintance; that every degradation she had suffered in her own eyes was as
plain  to him as to herself; that he read her life as though it  were a vile
book, and fluttered the leaves before her in slight looks and tones of voice
which no one else could detect;  weakened and undermined her. Proudly as she
opposed herself to him,  with her commanding face exacting his humility, her
disdainful lip repulsing him, her bosom angry at his intrusion, and the dark
lashes of her eyes sullenly  veiling their light, that  no  ray  of it might
shine upon him - and submissively as he stood before her, with an entreating
injured manner, but with complete submission  to her will - she knew, in her
own soul, that the cases were reversed, and that the triumph and superiority
were his, and that he knew it full well.
     'I have presumed,' said Mr Carker, 'to solicit an interview, and I have
ventured to describe it as being one of business, because - '
     'Perhaps you  are charged by Mr Dombey with  some  message of reproof,'
said Edit 'You possess Mr  Dombey's  confidence  in such an  unusual degree,
Sir, that you would scarcely surprise me if that were your business.'
     'I have no message to the lady who sheds a lustre upon his  name,' said
Mr Carker. 'But I  entreat that lady, on my own  behalf to be just to a very
humble claimant for justice at her hands - a mere dependant of Mr Dombey's -
which is a position of humility; and to reflect upon my perfect helplessness
last  night, and  the impossibility of my avoiding the share that was forced
upon me in a very painful occasion.'
     'My dearest Edith,' hinted  Cleopatra in a low voice, as  she held  her
eye-glass aside,  'really  very charming of Mr What's-his-name. And full  of
heart!'
     'For I  do,'  said Mr Carker, appealing  to Mrs  Skewton with a look of
grateful deference, - 'I do  venture to call  it a  painful occasion, though
merely  because it was so to me,  who had  the misfortune to  be present. So
slight a difference, as between the principals - between those who love each
other with disinterested  devotion, and would make any  sacrifice of self in
such a cause -  is nothing. As Mrs  Skewton  herself expressed, with so much
truth and feeling last night, it is nothing.'
     Edith could not look at him, but she said after a few moments,
     'And your business, Sir - '
     'Edith,  my pet,' said  Mrs  Skewton,  'all  this  time  Mr  Carker  is
standing! My dear Mr Carker, take a seat, I beg.'
     He offered  no  reply to the  mother,  but fixed his eyes  on the proud
daughter, as though he  would only be bidden  by her, and was resolved to he
bidden by  her. Edith, in spite of herself sat  down,  and slightly motioned
with her hand to him to be seated too. No action could be colder, haughtier,
more insolent in its air of supremacy and disrespect, but  she had struggled
against  even  that concession  ineffectually, and it was wrested from  her.
That was enough! Mr Carker sat down.
     'May I be allowed,  Madam,' said Carker, turning his white teeth on Mrs
Skewton like  a light - 'a lady of your excellent  sense  and quick  feeling
will  give me credit, for good reason, I am sure - to address what I have to
say, to Mrs  Dombey, and  to leave her to impart it to you who  are her best
and dearest friend - next to Mr Dombey?'
     Mrs Skewton would have retired, but Edith stopped her. Edith would have
stopped him too, and indignantly ordered  him to speak openly or not at all,
but that he said, in a low  Voice -  'Miss Florence - the young lady who has
just left the room - '
     Edith  suffered  him  to  proceed.  She  looked at him now.  As he bent
forward, to be nearer,  with the utmost show  of delicacy and  respect,  and
with his teeth persuasively arrayed, in a  self-depreciating smile, she felt
as if she could have struck him dead.
     'Miss Florence's position,' he  began, 'has been an unfortunate  one. I
have a difficulty in alluding  to it to you,  whose attachment to her father
is naturally watchful and jealous of every word that applies to him.' Always
distinct  and soft in  speech, no language could describe the extent  of his
distinctness and softness, when he  said these words, or came to  any others
of  a  similar  import. 'But, as one who  is  devoted to  Mr Dombey  in  his
different  way,  and  whose life is  passed in  admiration  of  Mr  Dombey's
character, may I say, without offence  to  your tenderness as a  wife,  that
Miss Florence has unhappily been neglected - by her father. May I say by her
father?'
     Edith replied, 'I know it.'
     'You know it!' said Mr Carker, with a great  appearance of relief.  'It
removes  a mountain  from my breast. May  I hope you  know how  the  neglect
originated; in  what an amiable phase  of Mr  Dombey's pride -  character  I
mean?'
     'You may pass that by, Sir,' she returned,  'and come the sooner to the
end of what you have to say.'
     'Indeed,  I  am sensible,  Madam,' replied Carker,  -  'trust me,  I am
deeply sensible, that Mr Dombey can require  no justification in anything to
you.  But,  kindly judge  of my breast by your own, and you will  forgive my
interest in him, if in its excess, it goes at all astray.
     What a  stab to her  proud heart, to sit there, face to face  with him,
and have him tendering her false oath  at the altar again  and again for her
acceptance, and pressing it upon her  like the dregs of a sickening  cup she
could  not own  her loathing of  or turn away from'. How shame, remorse, and
passion  raged within her, when, upright and majestic  in her  beauty before
him, she knew that in her spirit she was down at his feet!
     'Miss Florence,' said  Carker, 'left to the  care - if one may call  it
care  -  of  servants  and mercenary  people,  in  every way  her inferiors,
necessarily  wanted  some  guide and  compass  in  her  younger  days,  and,
naturally, for  want  of them, has been  indiscreet, and  has in some degree
forgotten her station. There was some folly about one Walter,  a common lad,
who is fortunately dead now: and some very undesirable association, I regret
to say, with  certain coasting sailors,  of anything but  good repute, and a
runaway old bankrupt.'
     'I  have  heard  the circumstances,  Sir,'  said  Edith,  flashing  her
disdainful glance upon him, 'and I  know that  you pervert them. You may not
know it. I hope so.'
     'Pardon me,' said Mr Carker, 'I believe that nobody knows them so  well
as I. Your  generous and ardent nature, Madam - the same  nature which is so
nobly  imperative in vindication of  your  beloved and honoured husband, and
which has blessed him as even his merits deserve - I must respect, defer to,
bow before. But, as regards the circumstances, which is indeed the  business
I presumed to solicit your attention to, I can have no doubt, since, in  the
execution of  my  trust as  Mr Dombey's confidential  - I presume  to  say -
friend, I have fully ascertained them. In my execution  of that trust; in my
deep concern,  which  you can so well understand, for everything relating to
him, intensified, if you will (for I fear I labour under  your displeasure),
by  the lower motive of  desire to prove my  diligence, and make  myself the
more  acceptable;  I  have long  pursued these  circumstances  by myself and
trustworthy instruments, and have innumerable and most minute proofs.'
     She raised her eyes no higher than his mouth,  but she saw the means of
mischief vaunted in every tooth it contained.
     'Pardon  me, Madam,' he continued, 'if in my perplexity,  I presume  to
take counsel with you, and to consult your pleasure. I think I have observed
that you are greatly interested in Miss Florence?'
     What  was there in her he had not  observed, and did  not know? Humbled
and yet maddened by  the  thought, in  every new  presentment of it, however
faint, she pressed her teeth upon  her quivering lip to force  composure  on
it, and distantly inclined her head in reply.
     'This  interest,  Madam  -  so  touching   an  evidence  of  everything
associated with Mr Dombey being dear  to you - induces me  to pause before I
make him  acquainted with these  circumstances, which, as  yet, he does  not
know. It so shakes me, if I may make the confession,  in my allegiance, that
on the  intimation  of  the least desire to  that effect from  you,  I would
suppress them.'
     Edith raised her head quickly,  and starting back, bent her dark glance
upon him.  He met it with his blandest and most deferential  smile, and went
on.
     'You say  that as I describe them, they  are perverted. I fear  not - I
fear not: but let us assume that they  are. The  uneasiness I have for  some
time felt on the subject, arises in this: that the mere circumstance of such
association often repeated, on the part of Miss Florence, however innocently
and  confidingly, would be conclusive  with  Mr Dombey,  already predisposed
against her,  and  would  lead  him  to  take  some  step  (I  know  he  has
occasionally  contemplated it) of separation and  alienation of her from his
home. Madam, bear with me, and  remember my intercourse with  Mr Dombey, and
my knowledge of him, and my reverence for him, almost from childhood, when I
say that if he has a fault, it is a lofty stubbornness, rooted in that noble
pride  and sense  of  power which belong to him, and which we must all defer
to; which  is not  assailable  like  the obstinacy of other characters;  and
which grows upon itself from day to day, and year to year.
     She  bent her  glance upon him  still;  but, look as steadfast  as  she
would, her haughty nostrils dilated, and  her breath  came somewhat  deeper,
and her lip would slightly curl, as he described that in his patron to which
they must all bow down. He saw it; and though his expression did not change,
she knew he saw it.
     'Even  so  slight an incident  as  last night's,' he said, 'if I  might
refer to it once more, would serve  to illustrate my meaning,  better than a
greater one. Dombey and Son  know neither time, nor  place, nor  season, but
bear  them all down. But I rejoice in its occurrence, for  it has opened the
way for me to approach Mrs Dombey with this  subject to-day, even if  it has
entailed upon me  the  penalty of her temporary  displeasure. Madam,  in the
midst  of my uneasiness and apprehension on this  subject, I was summoned by
Mr Dombey  to Leamington.  There I saw you. There I  could  not help knowing
what relation  you would shortly  occupy  towards  him  -  to  his  enduring
happiness  and  yours.   There  I  resolved   to  await  the  time  of  your
establishment at home here, and to do as I have  now done. I have, at heart,
no fear that I  shall be wanting in my duty to Mr Dombey,  if I bury what  I
know in your breast; for where there is  but one  heart and mind between two
persons - as in such a  marriage -  one almost represents the  other.  I can
acquit  my  conscience therefore,  almost equally, by  confidence, on such a
theme, in you or him. For the  reasons I have mentioned I  would select you.
May I aspire to the distinction of believing that my confidence is accepted,
and that I am relieved from my responsibility?'
     He long remembered the look she gave him - who could see it, and forget
it? - and the struggle that ensued within her. At last she said:
     'I  accept  it, Sir You will please to  consider this matter at an end,
and that it goes no farther.'
     He bowed  low,  and  rose. She  rose too, and  he took  leave  with all
humility. But Withers, meeting him on the stairs, stood amazed at the beauty
of  his teeth,  and at his brilliant smile;  and  as he  rode  away upon his
white-legged horse, the people took him for a dentist, such was the dazzling
show  he made. The  people took  her,  when  she  rode out in  her  carriage
presently, for a great lady, as happy as she was rich and fine. But they had
not seen her,  just before, in her own room with no one by; and they had not
heard her utterance of the three words, 'Oh Florence, Florence!'
     Mrs Skewton, reposing on her sofa, and sipping her chocolate, had heard
nothing  but  the  low word  business, for which she had a  mortal aversion,
insomuch  that she  had  long banished it from her  vocabulary, and had gone
nigh, in  a  charming  manner and  with an immense  amount  of heart, to say
nothing  of soul,  to  ruin  divers  milliners and  others  in  consequence.
Therefore Mrs Skewton asked no questions,  and showed  no curiosity. Indeed,
the  peach-velvet bonnet  gave  her sufficient occupation out of  doors; for
being perched on the  back of her head, and the  day being rather windy,  it
was frantic to escape from Mrs Skewton's company, and  would be  coaxed into
no sort of compromise. When the carriage was closed, and the  wind shut out,
the palsy  played among the artificial roses again like an almshouse-full of
superannuated zephyrs; and altogether Mrs Skewton had enough to  do, and got
on but indifferently.
     She  got  on  no  better  towards night; for  when Mrs  Dombey, in  her
dressing-room, had been  dressed  and  waiting for  her half an hour, and Mr
Dombey, in  the drawing-room, had  paraded  himself into a  state of  solemn
fretfulness  (they  were  all three going  out to  dinner), Flowers the Maid
appeared with a pale face to Mrs Dombey, saying:
     'If you please, Ma'am, I beg  your pardon,  but I can't do nothing with
Missis!'
     'What do you mean?' asked Edith.
     'Well,  Ma'am,' replied  the  frightened  maid,  'I hardly  know. She's
making faces!'
     Edith hurried with her to her  mother's room. Cleopatra was arrayed  in
full dress, with the diamonds, short sleeves, rouge, curls, teeth, and other
juvenility all complete; but Paralysis was not to be deceived, had known her
for the object of its errand, and had struck her at her glass, where she lay
like a horrible doll that had tumbled down.
     They  took her to  pieces in very shame, and put the little of her that
was real on a bed. Doctors were sent  for, and  soon came. Powerful remedies
were  resorted to; opinions given that she would rally from this shock,  but
would not survive another; and  there she lay speechless, and staring at the
ceiling,  for days; sometimes  making inarticulate sounds in answer  to such
questions as  did she know who were present, and the like:  sometimes giving
no reply either by sign or gesture, or in her unwinking eyes.
     At length she began  to recover consciousness, and  in some degree  the
power of motion, though not yet of speech. One day the use of her right hand
returned; and  showing  it to her  maid who was in  attendance on  her,  and
appearing  very  uneasy  in her mind, she made  signs for a pencil and  some
paper. This the maid immediately provided, thinking she was going to  make a
will, or  write some last request; and Mrs  Dombey being from home, the maid
awaited the result with solemn feelings.
     After much painful  scrawling  and  erasing,  and  putting in  of wrong
characters, which seemed to tumble out of the  pencil of their  own  accord,
the old woman produced this document:
     'Rose-coloured curtains.'
     The  maid  being  perfectly  transfixed,  and  with  tolerable  reason,
Cleopatra  amended the manuscript by adding  two  words more, when  it stood
thus:
     'Rose-coloured curtains for doctors.'
     The maid now perceived  remotely that  she wished these articles  to be
provided for the better presentation  of her complexion to the  faculty; and
as those in the house who knew  her best, had no doubt of the correctness of
this  opinion,  which  she  was soon  able  to  establish  for  herself  the
rose-coloured curtains were  added to her bed, and she mended with increased
rapidity from that hour. She was soon able to sit up,  in curls and a  laced
cap and nightgown,  and to have a  little  artificial bloom dropped into the
hollow caverns of her cheeks.
     It was a tremendous sight to  see this  old woman in her finery leering
and mincing at Death,  and playing off her youthful tricks upon him as if he
had been  the  Major;  but  an alteration  in  her mind that  ensued on  the
paralytic stroke was  fraught with as  much  matter for reflection,  and was
quite as ghastly.
     Whether the weakening of her intellect made her more cunning and  false
than before, or whether it confused her between what  she  had assumed to be
and what she  really had been, or  whether it had awakened any glimmering of
remorse, which could neither struggle  into  light nor  get  back into total
darkness, or whether, in the jumble of her faculties, a combination of these
effects  had been shaken up, which  is perhaps the more  likely supposition,
the result was this: - That she became hugely exacting in respect of Edith's
affection and gratitude and attention to her; highly laudatory of herself as
a most  inestimable parent; and very jealous of  having any rival in Edith's
regard.  Further, in place of remembering that compact made between them for
an  avoidance  of the  subject, she  constantly  alluded  to her  daughter's
marriage as a proof of her being  an incomparable mother; and all this, with
the weakness and peevishness of such a state, always serving for a sarcastic
commentary on her levity and youthfulness.
     'Where is Mrs Dombey? she would say to her maid.
     'Gone out, Ma'am.'
     'Gone out! Does she go out to shun her Mama, Flowers?'
     'La bless you, no, Ma'am. Mrs Dombey has only gone  out for a ride with
Miss Florence.'
     'Miss Florence. Who's Miss Florence? Don't tell me about Miss Florence.
What's Miss Florence to her, compared to me?'
     The apposite display of the diamonds,  or  the peach-velvet bonnet (she
sat in the bonnet  to  receive visitors, weeks before she could stir  out of
doors), or the dressing of her up in some gaud or other, usually stopped the
tears that began to flow hereabouts; and  she  would remain  in a complacent
state until Edith came to see her; when,  at a glance of the proud face, she
would relapse again.
     'Well, I am sure, Edith!' she would cry, shaking her head.
     'What is the matter, mother?'
     'Matter! I really don't know what is the matter. The world is coming to
such  an  artificial and ungrateful state, that I begin  to think there's no
Heart - or anything of that sort - left in it, positively. Withers is more a
child to me than you are. He attends to me much more than my own daughter. I
almost wish  I didn't look so young - and all that  kind of thing - and then
perhaps I should be more considered.'
     'What would you have, mother?'
     'Oh, a great deal, Edith,' impatiently.
     'Is there anything you want  that you have not? It is your own fault if
there be.'
     'My  own  fault!' beginning to whimper. 'The parent I have been to you,
Edith: making you a companion from your cradle! And when you neglect me, and
have  no more  natural affection  for me than if I  was a  stranger  - not a
twentieth part of the affection  that you have for Florence -  but I am only
your mother, and should corrupt her in a day!  -  you  reproach me with  its
being my own fault.'
     'Mother, mother, I reproach you with nothing. Why will you always dwell
on this?'
     'Isn't it natural  that I should dwell on this, when I am all affection
and sensitiveness, and am wounded in the cruellest way, whenever you look at
me?'
     'I  do not mean  to wound you, mother.  Have you no remembrance of what
has been said between us? Let the Past rest.'
     'Yes,  rest!  And let gratitude to  me  rest; and let  affection for me
rest; and  let  me rest in my out-of-the-way  room,  with no society and  no
attention, while you find new relations to make much of, who have no earthly
claim  upon  you!  Good  gracious,  Edith,  do  you  know  what  an  elegant
establishment you are at the head of?'
     'Yes. Hush!'
     'And  that  gentlemanly  creature, Dombey? Do  you  know that  you  are
married to  him, Edith, and that you have a settlement and a position, and a
carriage, and I don't know what?'
     'Indeed, I know it, mother; well.'
     'As you would have had  with that delightful good soul - what  did they
call him?  - Granger -  if he hadn't died. And who have you to thank for all
this, Edith?'
     'You, mother; you.'
     'Then  put your arms round  my  neck, and  kiss me; and show me, Edith,
that you  know  there never was a better Mama than  I have been  to you. And
don't let me become a perfect fright with teasing and wearing myself at your
ingratitude, or when I'm out again in society no soul will know me, not even
that hateful animal, the Major.'
     But,  sometimes, when Edith  went nearer  to her, and bending down  her
stately  head, Put  her cold cheek to hers, the mother would draw back as If
she were afraid of her, and would fall  into a fit of trembling, and cry out
that there was a wandering in her wits. And sometimes she would entreat her,
with humility, to sit down on  the  chair beside her bed, and  would look at
her (as  she  sat  there brooding) with a face  that even the  rose-coloured
curtains could not make otherwise than scared and wild.
     The rose-coloured curtains  blushed, in course of  time, on Cleopatra's
bodily  recovery, and on her dress -  more juvenile than ever, to repair the
ravages of illness  - and on the rouge, and on the teeth,  and on the curls,
and on the  diamonds, and the short sleeves, and the  whole  wardrobe of the
doll that  had tumbled down  before  the mirror. They blushed,  too, now and
then, upon  an  indistinctness  in  her speech which  she  turned off with a
girlish giggle, and on an occasional failing In her memory, that had no rule
in it, but came  and  went  fantastically, as if in mockery of her fantastic
self.
     But they never  blushed upon a  change in the new manner of her thought
and speech towards her daughter.  And though that daughter often came within
their  influence, they never blushed upon  her  loveliness  irradiated by  a
smile, or softened by the light of filial love, in its stem beauty.


     Miss Tox improves an Old Acquaintance

     The forlorn Miss Tox, abandoned by her friend Louisa  Chick, and bereft
of Mr  Dombey's countenance  - for no delicate pair of wedding cards, united
by  a silver thread, graced the  chimney-glass in Princess's  Place,  or the
harpsichord, or any of those little posts of display which Lucretia reserved
for holiday  occupation - became depressed in her spirits, and suffered much
from melancholy. For a time the Bird Waltz was unheard in  Princess's Place,
the plants were neglected, and dust collected on the miniature of Miss Tox's
ancestor with the powdered head and pigtail.

     Miss Tox, however,  was  not  of  an age  or of  a disposition  long to
abandon herself to  unavailing regrets.  Only two notes  of  the harpsichord
were dumb  from disuse when the Bird Waltz again warbled and trilled in  the
crooked drawing-room: only one  slip of geranium fell a  victim to imperfect
nursing,  before she was gardening  at  her green  baskets again,  regularly
every  morning; the powdered-headed ancestor had  not been under a cloud for
more  than six  weeks, when Miss Tox breathed on his  benignant visage,  and
polished him up with a piece of wash-leather.
     Still, Miss  Tox  was  lonely,  and at a loss. Her attachments, however
ludicrously shown,  were  real and strong; and she was, as she expressed it,
'deeply hurt by the unmerited contumely  she  had met with from Louisa.' But
there was no  such  thing as anger  in Miss Tox's  composition.  If she  had
ambled on through life, in her soft spoken  way,  without  any opinions, she
had,  at least, got so far  without any  harsh passions.  The mere sight  of
Louisa Chick  in  the  street  one  day,  at  a  considerable  distance,  so
overpowered  her milky nature, that she was fain to seek immediate refuge in
a pastrycook's, and  there, in a  musty little back  room usually devoted to
the consumption of soups, and pervaded by an ox-tail atmosphere, relieve her
feelings by weeping plentifully.
     Against Mr Dombey  Miss Tox  hardly  felt  that  she had any  reason of
complaint. Her  sense of that  gentleman's magnificence was such,  that once
removed from him,  she felt as if her distance always had been immeasurable,
and as if  he had greatly condescended  in tolerating her  at all.  No  wife
could  be too  handsome  or  too  stately for  him, according to Miss  Tox's
sincere opinion. It was perfectly natural that in looking for one, he should
look  high. Miss  Tox  with  tears  laid  down this  proposition, and  fully
admitted  it, twenty  times  a  day. She  never recalled the lofty manner in
which Mr Dombey had made  her  subservient to his  convenience and caprices,
and had  graciously permitted her to be one of the nurses of his little son.
She only thought, in her own words,  'that she had passed a great many happy
hours in  that house, which she  must  ever remember with gratification, and
that she could never cease to regard Mr Dombey as one of the most impressive
and dignified of men.'
     Cut  off,  however,  from the implacable Louisa, and being shy  of  the
Major  (whom she  viewed with  some distrust  now),  Miss Tox found it  very
irksome to know nothing  of what was going on in Mr  Dombey's establishment.
And as she really had  got into the  habit of considering  Dombey and Son as
the pivot on which the world in general turned, she resolved, rather than be
ignorant of intelligence which so  strongly interested her, to cultivate her
old  acquaintance,  Mrs  Richards,  who she  knew,  since her last memorable
appearance  before  Mr  Dombey,  was  in  the  habit  of  sometimes  holding
communication with his servants. Perhaps Miss Tox, in seeking out the Toodle
family, had  the  tender motive  hidden in her breast of having  somebody to
whom  she  could  talk about  Mr Dombey, no matter how humble  that somebody
might be.
     At all events,  towards  the Toodle  habitation  Miss Tox directed  her
steps one evening,  what time Mr Toodle, cindery  and swart, was  refreshing
himself  with  tea,  in the  bosom of his family. Mr Toodle  had only  three
stages  of  existence. He  was either taking  refreshment  in the bosom just
mentioned, or he  was tearing  through  the country  at from twenty-five  to
fifty miles an hour, or he was sleeping after his fatigues. He was always in
a whirlwind or a calm, and a peaceable,  contented, easy-going man Mr Toodle
was in either state, who seemed to have made over all his own inheritance of
fuming  and  fretting  to the  engines with  which he  was  connected, which
panted, and gasped, and chafed, and wore themselves out, in a most unsparing
manner, while Mr Toodle led a mild and equable life.
     'Polly, my gal,' said Mr Toodle, with a young Toodle on each knee,  and
two more making tea for him, and plenty more scattered about - Mr Toodle was
never out  of children, but always kept  a good supply on  hand - 'you ain't
seen our Biler lately, have you?'
     'No,' replied Polly, 'but he's almost  certain to look in tonight. It's
his right evening, and he's very regular.'
     'I  suppose,' said  Mr Toodle, relishing his  meal infinitely,  'as our
Biler is a doin' now about as well as a boy can do, eh, Polly?'
     'Oh! he's a doing beautiful!' responded Polly.
     'He ain't got to be  at all secret-like -  has he, Polly?' inquired  Mr
Toodle.
     'No!' said Mrs Toodle, plumply.
     'I'm glad he ain't got to  be at  all secret-like, Polly,' observed  Mr
Toodle  in his slow and measured way, and shovelling in his bread and butter
with a clasp knife, as  if he were stoking himself, 'because that don't look
well; do it, Polly?'
     'Why, of course it don't, father. How can you ask!'
     'You see,  my  boys and gals,' said  Mr Toodle, looking round upon  his
family, 'wotever  you're up to in a honest way, it's my opinion as you can't
do better  than be open. If you find yourselves in  cuttings  or in tunnels,
don't you  play no secret  games.  Keep your whistles going, and  let's know
where you are.
     The  rising Toodles  set  up  a  shrill  murmur,  expressive  of  their
resolution to profit by the paternal advice.
     'But  what makes you say this along of  Rob, father?'  asked  his wife,
anxiously.
     'Polly,  old  ooman,'  said  Mr  Toodle,  'I  don't know as  I  said it
partickler along o' Rob, I'm sure. I starts light with Rob only; I  comes to
a branch;  I takes on what  I finds there; and a  whole train of  ideas gets
coupled on to him, afore I knows where I am, or where  they comes from. What
a Junction a man's thoughts is,' said Mr Toodle, 'to-be-sure!'
     This profound reflection Mr Toodle washed  down with a pint mug of tea,
and  proceeded to solidify with a great weight of bread and butter; charging
his young daughters meanwhile, to keep plenty of hot water in the pot, as he
was uncommon  dry,  and should take the  indefinite quantity of 'a  sight of
mugs,' before his thirst was appeased.
     In  satisfying himself, however,  Mr Toodle  was  not regardless of the
younger  branches about him, who, although they had made  their  own evening
repast, were on  the look-out for irregular morsels, as possessing a relish.
These he distributed now and  then to  the expectant circle, by holding  out
great wedges of bread and butter, to be bitten  at by the  family  in lawful
succession, and  by  serving  out small doses  of tea in like  manner with a
spoon; which snacks had such a relish in  the mouths of these young Toodles,
that, after partaking of  the same, they performed private dances of ecstasy
among  themselves, and stood on one leg apiece, and hopped,  and indulged in
other saltatory tokens of gladness.  These vents for their excitement found,
they gradually closed about  Mr Toodle  again, and eyed  him hard as  he got
through more bread  and  butter and  tea;  affecting,  however,  to have  no
further expectations of their own in  reference to  those viands,  but to be
conversing on foreign subjects, and whispering confidentially.
     Mr  Toodle,  in the  midst of this family group,  and setting  an awful
example to his children  in the way of appetite, was conveying the two young
Toodles on  his knees to Birmingham by special engine, and was contemplating
the rest over  a barrier of bread  and butter, when  Rob the Grinder, in his
sou'wester  hat and mourning slops, presented himself, and was received with
a general rush of brothers and sisters.
     'Well, mother!' said Rob, dutifully kissing her; 'how are you, mother?'
     'There's my boy!' cried Polly, giving him a hug and a pat  on the back.
'Secret! Bless you, father, not he!'
     This was intended for Mr  Toodle's  private  edification, but  Rob  the
Grinder,  whose withers  were not  unwrung, caught the  words as  they  were
spoken.
     'What! father's been a saying something more again  me, has he?'  cried
the injured innocent. 'Oh, what a hard thing it is that when a cove has once
gone a little wrong, a  cove's  own father should be always a throwing it in
his face  behind  his  back!  It's  enough,'  cried  Rob, resorting  to  his
coat-cuff in anguish of spirit, 'to make  a cove go and do something, out of
spite!'
     'My poor boy!' cried Polly, 'father didn't mean anything.'
     'If father  didn't  mean anything,' blubbered the injured Grinder, 'why
did he go and say  anything, mother?  Nobody thinks half so bad of me as  my
own father does. What a unnatural  thing! I wish somebody'd take and chop my
head off. Father wouldn't mind doing it, I  believe, and I'd much  rather he
did that than t'other.'
     At  these  desperate words all the young Toodles  shrieked;  a pathetic
effect,  which the Grinder  improved by ironically adjuring them not  to cry
for him, for they ought to hate him, they ought, if  they was good boys  and
girls;  and  this  so  touched the youngest Toodle  but one, who was  easily
moved,  that  it  touched  him not only in his spirit but in  his wind  too;
making him so purple  that Mr Toodle in consternation carried him out to the
water-butt,  and  would  have  put  him under  the  tap, but  for  his being
recovered by the sight of that instrument.
     Matters  having reached  this  point,  Mr  Toodle  explained,  and  the
virtuous  feelings of his  son  being  thereby calmed, they shook hands, and
harmony reigned again.
     'Will you do as I do, Biler, my boy?' inquired his father, returning to
his tea with new strength.
     'No, thank'ee, father. Master and I had tea together.'
     'And how is master, Rob?' said Polly.
     'Well, I  don't know, mother;  not  much  to boast on.  There  ain't no
bis'ness  done, you see. He don't know anything about it - the Cap'en don't.
There  was  a man come  into  the shop this  very  day, and says, "I want  a
so-and-so," he says - some hard name or another. "A which?" says the Cap'en.
"A  so-and-so,"  says the man. "Brother," says the Cap'en, "will you take  a
observation round the shop." "Well," says the man, "I've  done" "Do  you see
wot you want?" says  the Cap'en "No, I don't," says the man. "Do you know it
wen you do see it?" says the Cap'en. "No, I don't," says the man. "Why, then
I tell you wot, my lad," says the Cap'en, "you'd better go back and ask  wot
it's like, outside, for no more don't I!"'
     'That ain't the way to make money, though, is it?' said Polly.
     'Money,  mother!  He'll never make  money. He has  such ways as I never
see. He ain't  a  bad master though, I'll say that for him. But  that  ain't
much to me, for I don't think I shall stop with him long.'
     'Not stop in your place, Rob!' cried his mother; while Mr Toodle opened
his eyes.
     'Not in that place, p'raps,'  returned  the  Grinder,  with  a wink. 'I
shouldn't wonder - friends  at court you know -  but never you mind, mother,
just now; I'm all right, that's all.'
     The indisputable proof  afforded in  these  hints, and in the Grinder's
mysterious manner, of his not being subject to  that failing which Mr Toodle
had, by implication, attributed to  him, might have led to a renewal  of his
wrongs, and of the sensation in the family, but for the opportune arrival of
another  visitor,  who,  to Polly's  great  surprise, appeared  at the door,
smiling patronage and friendship on all there.
     'How do  you do, Mrs Richards?' said Miss Tox. 'I have come to see you.
May I come in?'
     The cheery face of Mrs Richards shone with a hospitable reply, and Miss
Tox, accepting the proffered chair, and grab fully recognising Mr Toodle  on
her way to  it, untied her bonnet strings,  and said that in the first place
she must beg the dear children, one and all, to come and kiss her.
     The  ill-starred  youngest  Toodle but one, who would appear, from  the
frequency  of his  domestic  troubles, to have  been  born  under an unlucky
planet, was prevented from performing his part in this general salutation by
having fixed the sou'wester hat (with which he had been previously trifling)
deep on his  head, hind side before, and being unable to get  it  off again;
which accident  presenting to his terrified imagination  a dismal picture of
his passing the rest of his days in darkness, and in hopeless seclusion from
his friends and family, caused him  to struggle with great violence,  and to
utter suffocating  cries. Being released, his face was discovered to be very
hot, and red, and damp; and Miss Tox took him on her lap, much exhausted.
     'You have almost  forgotten me,  Sir, I daresay,' said  Miss Tox  to Mr
Toodle.
     'No, Ma'am, no,'  said Toodle. 'But we've all on  us got a little older
since then.'
     'And how do you find yourself, Sir?' inquired Miss Tox, blandly.
     'Hearty,  Ma'am, thank'ee,' replied Toodle. 'How do  you find yourself,
Ma'am? Do the rheumaticks keep off pretty well, Ma'am? We must all expect to
grow into 'em, as we gets on.'
     'Thank you,' said Miss  Tox. 'I have  not  felt any  inconvenience from
that disorder yet.'
     'You're wery fortunate,  Ma'am,' returned  Mr  Toodle. 'Many  people at
your time of  life, Ma'am,  is martyrs to  it. There was my  mother  - ' But
catching his  wife's  eye here,  Mr Toodle judiciously  buried  the rest  in
another mug of tea
     'You  never mean to say, Mrs Richards,' cried Miss Tox, looking at Rob,
'that that is your - '
     'Eldest,  Ma'am,'  said Polly. 'Yes, indeed, it  is. That's the  little
fellow, Ma'am, that was the innocent cause of so much.'
     'This here, Ma'am,' said Toodle, 'is him with the short legs - and they
was,' said Mr Toodle, with a touch of poetry in his tone, 'unusual short for
leathers - as Mr Dombey made a Grinder on.'
     The recollection almost overpowered Miss Tox. The subject of it  had  a
peculiar interest  for  her  directly. She  asked  him  to shake hands,  and
congratulated his mother on his frank, ingenuous face. Rob, overhearing her,
called up a look, to justify the eulogium, but it was hardly the right look.
     'And  now,  Mrs  Richards,'  said  Miss  Tox,  -  'and  you  too, Sir,'
addressing Toodle - 'I'll tell you, plainly and truly, what I have come here
for. You  may be aware, Mrs Richards -  and, possibly, you may be aware too,
Sir - that a little distance has interposed itself between me and some of my
friends, and that where I used to visit a good deal, I do not visit now.'
     Polly, who, with a woman's tact, understood this at once, expressed  as
much in a little look. Mr Toodle, who had not the faintest idea of what Miss
Tox was talking about, expressed that also, in a stare.
     'Of course,'  said Miss Tox, 'how our little coolness has arisen  is of
no moment, and does not require to be discussed. It is sufficient  for me to
say, that  I have the  greatest  possible  respect for, and interest in,  Mr
Dombey;' Miss Tox's voice faltered; 'and everything that relates to him.'
     Mr Toodle,  enlightened, shook his head, and said he had heerd it said,
and, for his own part, he did think, as Mr Dombey was a difficult subject.
     'Pray don't say  so,  Sir, if you  please,' returned Miss  Tox. 'Let me
entreat you not to  say  so, Sir, either  now, or at  any  future time. Such
observations cannot but  be very painful to me;  and  to a gentleman,  whose
mind is constituted as, I am quite sure, yours  is, can afford no  permanent
satisfaction.'
     Mr Toodle, who had not entertained the least doubt of offering a remark
that would be received with acquiescence, was greatly confounded.
     'All  that I  wish to say, Mrs Richards,' resumed  Miss  Tox, -  'and I
address myself to  you too, Sir, -  is this. That  any intelligence  of  the
proceedings of the family,  of the  welfare of the family,  of the health of
the family, that reaches you, will be always  most  acceptable to me. That I
shall  be always very  glad  to chat with Mrs Richards about the family, and
about  old time And as  Mrs Richards  and I  never  had the least difference
(though I could wish now that we  had been better  acquainted, but I have no
one but myself to blame for that), I  hope she will not object  to our being
very good friends now, and to my coming backwards and forwards here,  when I
like, without being a stranger. Now, I really hope, Mrs Richards,' said Miss
Tox  -  earnestly,  'that  you  will  take  this,  as  I  mean  it,  like  a
good-humoured creature, as you always were.'
     Polly  was gratified,  and showed it. Mr Toodle  didn't know whether he
was gratified or not, and preserved a stolid calmness.
     'You see, Mrs Richards,' said Miss Tox - 'and I hope you see too, Sir -
there are many little ways in which I can be slightly useful to you,  if you
will make no stranger of me; and in which I shall be delighted to be so. For
instance, I can teach  your  children something. I shall bring  a few little
books,  if you'll  allow me, and some work, and of an  evening now and then,
they'll learn  - dear  me, they'll learn  a  great  deal, I  trust, and be a
credit to their teacher.'
     Mr  Toodle, who  had  a  great  respect  for learning, jerked his  head
approvingly at his wife, and moistened his hands with dawning satisfaction.
     'Then, not  being a  stranger, I  shall  be in nobody's way,' said Miss
Tox, 'and  everything  will go on just  as if I were  not here. Mrs Richards
will do her mending, or her ironing, or her nursing, whatever it is, without
minding me: and you'll  smoke your  pipe, too,  if you're so disposed,  Sir,
won't you?'
     'Thank'ee, Mum,' said Mr Toodle. 'Yes; I'll take my bit of backer.'
     'Very good of you  to say so, Sir,' rejoined Miss Tox, 'and I really do
assure you now, unfeignedly, that it will be a great comfort to me, and that
whatever good I may be fortunate  enough  to do the  children, you will more
than pay  back to me, if you'll  enter into this little bargain comfortably,
and easily, and good-naturedly, without another word about it.'
     The bargain was  ratified on the  spot; and  Miss  Tox found herself so
much  at  home  already,  that  without delay she instituted  a  preliminary
examination of the children all  round  - which Mr Toodle much admired - and
booked  their  ages, names, and  acquirements,  on  a  piece of paper.  This
ceremony,  and  a little  attendant  gossip, prolonged the time  until after
their  usual hour  of  going  to bed,  and detained  Miss Tox  at the Toodle
fireside until it  was too late for  her  to walk home  alone.  The  gallant
Grinder, however, being still  there, politely  offered to attend her to her
own door; and  as it was something to  Miss Tox  to be seen home  by a youth
whom Mr Dombey had first inducted into those manly garments which are rarely
mentioned by name,' she very readily accepted the proposal.
     After shaking  hands with Mr  Toodle  and  Polly,  and kissing  all the
children, Miss Tox left the house, therefore, with unlimited popularity, and
carrying away with her  so light a heart that it might have given Mrs  Chick
offence if that good lady could have weighed it.
     Rob the Grinder, in his modesty, would have walked behind, but Miss Tox
desired him to keep beside her, for  conversational  purposes;  and,  as she
afterwards expressed it to his mother, 'drew him out,' upon the road.
     He  drew  out  so  bright,  and clear, and  shining, that Miss Tox  was
charmed with him. The  more Miss Tox drew him out, the  finer he came - like
wire.  There   never  was  a  better  or  more  promising  youth  -  a  more
affectionate,  steady, prudent, sober, honest, meek, candid young man - than
Rob drew out, that night.
     'I  am quite glad,'  said Miss  Tox,  arrived at her own door, 'to know
you. I hope you'll consider me your  friend, and that you'll come and see me
as often as you like. Do you keep a money-box?'
     'Yes, Ma'am,' returned  Rob; 'I'm saving up, against I've got enough to
put in the Bank, Ma'am.
     'Very laudable  indeed,' said Miss Tox. 'I'm glad to  hear it. Put this
half-crown into it, if you please.'
     'Oh  thank you, Ma'am,' replied Rob, 'but  really  I  couldn't think of
depriving you.'
     'I commend  your  independent  spirit,' said  Miss Tox,  'but  it's  no
deprivation, I  assure you. I shall  be offended if you  don't take it, as a
mark of my good-will. Good-night, Robin.'
     'Good-night, Ma'am,' said Rob, 'and thank you!'
     Who ran sniggering off to get change, and tossed it away with a pieman.
But they never taught honour at the Grinders' School, where the  system that
prevailed was particularly strong in the engendering of hypocrisy. Insomuch,
that many of the friends and masters  of past Grinders  said,  if this  were
what  came of education for the common  people, let us have none. Some  more
rational  said,  let us have a better one. But the  governing  powers of the
Grinders' Company were always ready  for them, by picking out a few boys who
had turned out well in spite of the system,  and roundly asserting that they
could have only turned out well because of it. Which settled the business of
those objectors out  of  hand,  and established the glory of  the  Grinders'
Institution.


     Further Adventures of Captain Edward Cuttle, Mariner

     Time, sure of foot and strong of will, had  so pressed onward, that the
year  enjoined by  the  old Instrument-maker,  as  the term during which his
friend should refrain from opening the sealed packet accompanying the letter
he  had  left for him, was now nearly expired,  and Captain  Cuttle began to
look at it, of an evening, with feelings of mystery and uneasiness
     The  Captain, in his honour, would as soon have thought  of opening the
parcel one hour before the  expiration of the term, as he would have thought
of opening himself, to study his own anatomy. He merely brought it out, at a
certain stage  of his first  evening  pipe, laid  it on  the table,  and sat
gazing at the outside of it,  through  the smoke, in silent gravity, for two
or three hours at a spell. Sometimes, when he had contemplated it thus for a
pretty long  while, the Captain would  hitch his  chair, by degrees, farther
and  farther off, as  if to get beyond the range of its fascination; but  if
this were his design, he never succeeded: for even when he was brought up by
the  parlour  wall,  the packet  still  attracted  him; or if  his eyes,  in
thoughtful  wandering,  roved  to  the  ceiling  or   the  fire,  its  image
immediately followed, and posted itself  conspicuously  among the coals,  or
took up an advantageous position on the whitewash.
     In  respect of Heart's  Delight, the Captain's parental and  admiration
knew no change. But since his last interview with Mr Carker, Captain  Cuttle
had come to entertain  doubts whether his former  intervention in behalf  of
that young lady and his dear boy Wal'r, had  proved altogether so favourable
as  he could  have wished, and as  he at the time believed. The Captain  was
troubled with a  serious misgiving that he had done more harm than  good, in
short; and in his remorse  and modesty  he made  the best atonement he could
think of, by putting himself  out of  the way of  doing  any harm to anyone,
and, as it were, throwing himself overboard for a dangerous person.
     Self-buried, therefore, among  the  instruments, the Captain never went
near Mr Dombey's house, or reported himself  in any way  to Florence or Miss
Nipper. He  even severed himself from Mr  Perch, on the occasion of his next
visit, by dryly  informing  that  gentleman,  that  he thanked  him  for his
company, but had cut himself adrift from all such acquaintance, as he didn't
know  what magazine  he  mightn't blow up, without  meaning of  it. In  this
self-imposed  retirement, the Captain  passed  whole days and  weeks without
interchanging  a word with anyone but Rob the Grinder, whom he esteemed as a
pattern  of  disinterested attachment and fidelity. In  this retirement, the
Captain, gazing at the packet of an evening, would sit smoking, and thinking
of Florence and poor Walter, until  they  both seemed to his homely fancy to
be dead, and to  have  passed  away into eternal  youth, the  beautiful  and
innocent children of his first remembrance.
     The  Captain  did  not,  however,  in  his  musings,  neglect  his  own
improvement, or the  mental culture of Rob the  Grinder. That  young man was
generally required to read out  of some book  to the  Captain, for one hour,
every  evening; and as the  Captain implicitly believed that all  books were
true, he accumulated, by  this  means,  many  remarkable  facts.  On  Sunday
nights, the Captain always read for himself, before going to  bed, a certain
Divine Sermon once delivered on a Mount;  and although he was accustomed  to
quote the text, without book, after his own manner, he appeared to  read  it
with as  reverent an understanding  of its heavenly spirit, as if he had got
it  all by heart in Greek, and had  been able to write any number of  fierce
theological disquisitions on its every phrase.
     Rob the  Grinder, whose  reverence for the inspired writings, under the
admirable system of  the Grinders' School, had been developed by a perpetual
bruising of his intellectual shins against all  the proper  names of all the
tribes of Judah, and by the monotonous repetition of hard verses, especially
by way of punishment, and by the parading of him at six years old in leather
breeches, three times a Sunday, very  high up, in a  very hot church, with a
great organ  buzzing against his drowsy head, like an exceedingly busy bee -
Rob the Grinder made a mighty show of being  edified when the Captain ceased
to read,  and generally yawned and nodded while the reading was in progress.
The latter fact being never so much as suspected by the good Captain.
     Captain  Cuttle, also, as a man of business;  took to keeping books. In
these he  entered  observations on the weather,  and on  the currents of the
waggons  and other  vehicles:  which he  observed,  in that quarter, to  set
westward in the morning and during the greater part of the day, and eastward
towards  the  evening. Two  or three stragglers appearing in one  week,  who
'spoke him' - so the Captain entered it- on  the subject  of spectacles, and
who,  without positively  purchasing,  said they  would look in  again,  the
Captain decided that the  business was improving, and  made  an entry in the
day-book  to that effect:  the  wind  then blowing (which he first recorded)
pretty fresh, west and by north; having changed in the night.
     One  of the  Captain's  chief  difficulties  was  Mr  Toots, who called
frequently,  and who without  saying much seemed to have  an  idea that  the
little back parlour was an eligible room  to chuckle in, as he would sit and
avail  himself  of  its  accommodations  in  that  regard by  the  half-hour
together,  without  at all  advancing  in  intimacy  with  the Captain.  The
Captain, rendered  cautious  by his  late  experience,  was unable  quite to
satisfy his mind whether Mr Toots was the mild subject he appeared to be, or
was a profoundly artful and dissimulating hypocrite. His frequent  reference
to Miss Dombey was suspicious; but the  Captain had a secret kindness for Mr
Toots's  apparent reliance on him, and forbore to decide against him for the
present; merely eyeing him, with a sagacity not to be described, whenever he
approached the subject that was nearest to his heart.
     'Captain Gills,' blurted out Mr  Toots, one  day all at  once,  as  his
manner  was, 'do you think you could think favourably of that proposition of
mine, and give me the pleasure of your acquaintance?'
     'Why, I tell you  what it is, my lad,' replied  the Captain, who had at
length  concluded on a  course of  action;  'I've been  turning that  there,
over.'
     'Captain Gills, it's  very kind  of you,'  retorted Mr Toots. 'I'm much
obliged to  you. Upon  my word  and  honour, Captain  Gills, it  would  be a
charity to give me the pleasure of your acquaintance. It really would.'
     'You see, brother,' argued the Captain slowly, 'I don't know you.
     'But you never can know me, Captain Gills,' replied Mr Toots, steadfast
to his point, 'if you don't give me the pleasure of your acquaintance.
     The Captain seemed struck by the originality  and power of this remark,
and looked at Mr Toots  as if he  thought there was a great deal more in him
than he had expected.
     'Well   said,  my  lad,'  observed  the  Captain,   nodding   his  head
thoughtfully;  'and true. Now look'ee here: You've made some observations to
me, which gives  me to  understand as  you admire  a  certain sweet creetur.
Hey?'
     'Captain Gills,' said Mr  Toots, gesticulating violently with  the hand
in which he held his hat, 'Admiration is not  the word. Upon my honour,  you
have no  conception what my feelings are. If I could be dyed black, and made
Miss Dombey's slave, I should consider it a compliment. If, at the sacrifice
of all my property, I could get transmigrated into Miss Dombey's dog - I - I
really think I  should  never leave off  wagging  my  tail. I  should  be so
perfectly happy, Captain Gills!'
     Mr  Toots said it with watery  eyes,  and pressed his  hat against  his
bosom with deep emotion.
     'My lad,'  returned the Captain,  moved to  compassion, 'if  you're  in
arnest -
     'Captain Gills,' cried Mr Toots, 'I'm in such a  state of mind,  and am
so dreadfully in earnest, that if I  could  swear to  it upon a hot piece of
iron, or a live coal, or melted lead, or burning sealing-wax, Or anything of
that sort, I should be glad to hurt myself, as a relief to my feelings.' And
Mr  Toots  looked  hurriedly about the  room,  as  if  for some sufficiently
painful means of accomplishing his dread purpose.
     The Captain pushed his  glazed hat back upon his head, stroked his face
down with his heavy hand - making his nose more mottled in the process - and
planting himself before Mr Toots,  and hooking him by the lapel of his coat,
addressed him in these words,  while Mr Toots  looked up into his face, with
much attention and some wonder.
     'If you're in arnest, you  see,  my lad,' said the  Captain, 'you're  a
object  of clemency, and clemency  is the brightest jewel in  the crown of a
Briton's head, for which you'll overhaul the  constitution as  laid  down in
Rule Britannia, and, when found,  that  is the charter as them garden angels
was a singing of, so many times over. Stand by! This here proposal o' you'rn
takes  me  a  little aback.  And  why?  Because I  holds  my  own only,  you
understand, in these here waters, and haven't got  no  consort, and  may  be
don't  wish for none. Steady! You hailed me first,  along of a certain young
lady, as  you was chartered by. Now if  you and me is to  keep one another's
company  at all,  that  there young creetur's name must never  be named  nor
referred to. I  don't know what harm  mayn't have been done by naming of  it
too free, afore now, and thereby  I brings up short. D'ye make me out pretty
clear, brother?'
     'Well, you'll excuse me, Captain Gills,' replied  Mr Toots, 'if I don't
quite follow you sometimes. But upon my  word I - it's a hard thing, Captain
Gills,  not to be able  to mention Miss  Dombey.  I really have  got  such a
dreadful load here!' - Mr Toots  pathetically  touched  his shirt-front with
both hands  - 'that I feel night and day, exactly as if somebody was sitting
upon me.
     'Them,' said the Captain,  'is the terms I  offer. If they're hard upon
you, brother, as mayhap they are, give 'em a wide berth, sheer off, and part
company cheerily!'
     'Captain Gills,' returned Mr Toots, 'I hardly know how it is, but after
what you told me when I came  here, for the first time, I - I  feel that I'd
rather think about Miss Dombey in your society than talk about her in almost
anybody else's. Therefore, Captain Gills, if you'll give  me the pleasure of
your  acquaintance,  I  shall  be  very  happy  to  accept  it  on  your own
conditions. I wish to be honourable, Captain Gills,' said Mr Toots,  holding
back his extended hand for a moment, 'and therefore I am obliged to say that
I can not help thinking about Miss Dombey. It's impossible for me  to make a
promise not to think about her.'
     'My lad,' said the Captain, whose opinion of Mr Toots was much improved
by this candid avowal, 'a man's thoughts is like the winds, and nobody can't
answer for 'em for certain, any length  of time together. Is  it a treaty as
to words?'
     'As to words, Captain  Gills,' returned  Mr  Toots, 'I think I can bind
myself.'
     Mr Toots gave Captain Cuttle his hand upon it, then and  there; and the
Captain  with a pleasant  and  gracious show of  condescension, bestowed his
acquaintance  upon him formally. Mr Toots seemed much relieved and gladdened
by the acquisition,  and  chuckled  rapturously  during the remainder of his
visit.  The  Captain,  for his  part, was not  ill  pleased  to  occupy that
position  of  patronage,  and was  exceedingly well  satisfied  by  his  own
prudence and foresight.
     But  rich as Captain Cuttle was  in the  latter quality, he  received a
surprise that  same evening from a no less ingenuous and  simple youth, than
Rob  the  Grinder. That artless lad,  drinking  tea  at  the same table, and
bending  meekly over his cup and saucer, having taken sidelong  observations
of  his master for  some time,  who was  reading  the  newspaper  with great
difficulty, but much dignity, through his glasses, broke silence by saying -
     'Oh! I  beg  your  pardon,  Captain,  but you mayn't be in want of  any
pigeons, may you, Sir?'
     'No, my lad,' replied the Captain.
     'Because I was wishing to dispose of mine, Captain,' said Rob.
     'Ay, ay?' cried the Captain, lifting up his bushy eyebrows a little.
     'Yes; I'm going, Captain, if you please,' said Rob.
     'Going? Where are  you going?' asked  the Captain, looking round at him
over the glasses.
     'What? didn't you  know that I was  going to leave you, Captain?' asked
Rob, with a sneaking smile.
     The  Captain put  down  the paper, took off his spectacles, and brought
his eyes to bear on the deserter.
     'Oh yes, Captain, I am going to give you warning.  I thought you'd have
known that beforehand, perhaps,'  said Rob, rubbing his  hands, and  getting
up. 'If you could be so  good as provide yourself soon, Captain, it would be
a  great convenience  to  me. You  couldn't  provide yourself  by  to-morrow
morning, I am afraid, Captain: could you, do you think?'
     'And you're a going to desert your  colours, are you, my lad?' said the
Captain, after a long examination of his face.
     'Oh,  it's  very hard upon  a  cove,  Captain,' cried the  tender  Rob,
injured and  indignant in  a  moment, 'that he  can't  give lawful  warning,
without being frowned at in that way, and called a deserter. You haven't any
right to call a poor cove names, Captain. It ain't because I'm a servant and
you're  a master,  that  you're to go and libel me.  What wrong have I done?
Come, Captain, let me know what my crime is, will you?'
     The stricken Grinder wept, and put his coat-cuff in his eye.
     'Come,  Captain,'  cried the injured youth, 'give my crime a name! What
have  I been and done? Have  I stolen any  of the  property? have I set  the
house a-fire? If I have, why don't you give me in charge, and try it? But to
take away the character of a lad that's been a good servant  to you, because
he can't afford to stand  in his own light for  your good, what  a injury it
is, and what a bad return for faithful service! This is  the way young coves
is spiled and drove wrong. I wonder at you, Captain, I do.'
     All of  which  the Grinder  howled  forth  in  a lachrymose whine,  and
backing carefully towards the door.
     'And so you've got another berth, have you, my  lad?' said the Captain,
eyeing him intently.
     'Yes,  Captain, since  you  put it  in  that shape, I have  got another
berth,' cried Rob, backing more and more; 'a  better  berth  than  I've  got
here, and  one where I don't so much as want your good word,  Captain, which
is fort'nate for me,  after  all the dirt you've throw'd  at me, because I'm
poor, and can't afford to stand in my own  light for your  good. Yes, I have
got another berth; and if it wasn't for leaving you unprovided, Captain, I'd
go to it now,  sooner than I'd take them names  from  you, because I'm poor,
and can't afford to stand in my own light for your good. Why do you reproach
me for  being poor, and not standing in my own light for your good, Captain?
How can you so demean yourself?'
     'Look ye here, my boy,' replied the  peaceful Captain.  'Don't you  pay
out no more of them words.'
     'Well, then, don't you pay in no more of your words, Captain,' retorted
the roused innocent, getting louder in his whine, and backing into the shop.
'I'd sooner you took my blood than my character.'
     'Because,' pursued the Captain calmly, 'you have heerd, may be, of such
a thing as a rope's end.'
     'Oh,  have  I though,  Captain?' cried  the  taunting  Grinder.  'No  I
haven't. I never heerd of any such a article!'
     'Well,' said  the Captain, 'it's my belief as you'll know more about it
pretty soon,  if you don't keep  a bright look-out. I can read your signals,
my lad. You may go.'
     'Oh!  I  may go  at once, may I,  Captain?' cried  Rob, exulting in his
success. 'But  mind! I never asked to go at once,  Captain.  You  are not to
take  away my character  again,  because you send me off of your own accord.
And you're not to stop any of my wages, Captain!'
     His employer settled the last  point by producing the  tin canister and
telling  the Grinder's money out in full upon the table. Rob, snivelling and
sobbing, and  grievously wounded in his feelings, took up  the pieces one by
one, with a sob and a snivel for each, and tied them up separately in  knots
in  his pockethandkerchief; then he  ascended to the  roof  of the house and
filled  his  hat  and pockets with pigeons; then, came down to his bed under
the counter and made up his bundle, snivelling and  sobbing louder, as if he
were  cut to  the heart by old  associations;  then he  whined, 'Good-night,
Captain.  I  leave  you  without  malice!'  and then,  going  out  upon  the
door-step,  pulled the little Midshipman's nose as a  parting indignity, and
went away down the street grinning triumphantly.
     The Captain, left  to himself, resumed his  perusal  of the  news as if
nothing unusual or unexpected had taken place, and  went reading on with the
greatest assiduity. But never  a word did Captain Cuttle  understand, though
he read a vast  number, for Rob the Grinder was scampering up one column and
down another all through the newspaper.
     It  is doubtful whether the worthy Captain  had ever felt himself quite
abandoned until now; but now,  old  Sol  Gills,  Walter, and Heart's Delight
were lost to him indeed, and now Mr Carker deceived and jeered  him cruelly.
They were all represented in the false Rob, to whom he had held forth many a
time on the recollections that were warm within him; he had believed  in the
false Rob, and  had been glad to  believe in him; he had made a companion of
him as the last of the old ship's company; he had taken  the  command of the
little Midshipman with him at his right hand; he had meant to do his duty by
him,  and  had  felt almost  as  kindly towards the boy as  if they had been
shipwrecked and  cast upon a desert place together. And now, that  the false
Rob  had brought distrust, treachery,  and meanness  into  the very parlour,
which  was a  kind  of sacred  place, Captain Cuttle felt as  if the parlour
might have gone  down next, and not surprised him much  by  its sinking,  or
given him any very great concern.
     Therefore Captain Cuttle read the newspaper with profound attention and
no  comprehension, and therefore Captain  Cuttle said nothing whatever about
Rob  to  himself, or admitted  to himself that he was thinking about him, or
would recognise in the most distant manner that  Rob had anything to do with
his feeling as lonely as Robinson Crusoe.
     In the same composed,  business-like  way, the Captain stepped over  to
Leadenhall  Market in the dusk,  and effected  an arrangement with a private
watchman on duty there, to come and put up and take down the shutters of the
wooden  Midshipman  every  night  and  morning.  He  then called in  at  the
eating-house to diminish by one half  the daily rations theretofore supplied
to the Midshipman,  and at the  public-house to stop the traitor's beer. 'My
young  man,' said the Captain, in explanation to the young lady at  the bar,
'my  young man having bettered himself, Miss.' Lastly, the Captain  resolved
to take possession  of the  bed under  the counter, and to  turn in there o'
nights instead of upstairs, as sole guardian of the property.
     From this bed Captain Cuttle daily rose thenceforth, and clapped on his
glazed hat at six o'clock in the morning, with the  solitary air  of  Crusoe
finishing  his  toilet with his goat-skin cap;  and although his fears  of a
visitation  from the  savage  tribe, MacStinger,  were  somewhat cooled,  as
similar apprehensions on  the part  of that lone  mariner used to  be by the
lapse  of a  long interval without any symptoms of  the cannibals, he  still
observed a regular  routine of defensive operations, and never encountered a
bonnet without  previous survey from his castle of retreat.  In the meantime
(during which he received no call from Mr Toots, who wrote to say he was out
of town)  his own voice  began to  have  a strange sound in his ears; and he
acquired such habits of profound meditation from  much polishing and stowing
away  of the stock, and from much  sitting  behind the  counter reading,  or
looking  out of  window, that the red  rim made  on his forehead by the hard
glazed hat, sometimes ached again with excess of reflection.
     The year being now  expired, Captain Cuttle deemed it expedient to open
the packet; but as he had  always designed doing this in the presence of Rob
the Grinder, who had brought it to him, and as he  had an idea that it would
be regular  and ship-shape to open  it  in the presence  of somebody, he was
sadly put to it for want of a witness. In this difficulty, he hailed one day
with unusual  delight the announcement in  the Shipping Intelligence of  the
arrival of the  Cautious Clara, Captain John Bunsby, from a coasting voyage;
and  to that philosopher immediately  dispatched a letter by post, enjoining
inviolable  secrecy as  to his  place  of  residence, and  requesting  to be
favoured with an early visit, in the evening season.
     Bunsby, who was one  of those sages who act upon conviction,  took some
days to get the conviction thoroughly into his mind, that he  had received a
letter to this  effect. But when he had grappled with the fact, and mastered
it, he promptly sent his boy with the message, 'He's a coming to-night.' Who
being instructed to deliver those words and disappear, fulfilled his mission
like a tarry spirit, charged with a mysterious warning.
     The Captain, well pleased to receive it,  made preparation of pipes and
rum and water, and  awaited his visitor in the back parlour.  At the hour of
eight,  a  deep  lowing, as  of  a  nautical  Bull, outside  the  shop-door,
succeeded  by  the  knocking  of a  stick  on  the  panel, announced  to the
listening  ear  of Captain  Cuttle,  that  Bunsby  was  alongside;  whom  he
instantly admitted,  shaggy and  loose, and with his stolid mahogany visage,
as usual, appearing to have no consciousness of  anything before it,  but to
be attentively observing something that  was  taking  place in quite another
part of the world.
     'Bunsby,' said  the Captain, grasping him by the  hand, 'what cheer, my
lad, what cheer?'
     'Shipmet,'  replied the voice within Bunsby,  unaccompanied by any sign
on the part of the Commander himself, 'hearty, hearty.'
     'Bunsby!'  said the Captain,  rendering  irrepressible  homage  to  his
genius, 'here you  are! a  man as can give  an opinion  as  is brighter than
di'monds - and give me the lad with the  tarry trousers as shines to me like
di'monds bright, for which  you'll overhaul the Stanfell's  Budget, and when
found make a note.' Here you are, a man as gave an opinion in this here very
place, that has come true, every letter  on it,' which the Captain sincerely
believed.
     'Ay, ay?' growled Bunsby.
     'Every letter,' said the Captain.
     'For why?'  growled Bunsby,  looking at his  friend for the first time.
'Which  way? If so, why not? Therefore.'  With these  oracular  words - they
seemed almost to make the Captain giddy; they launched  him upon  such a sea
of speculation and conjecture - the sage submitted to be helped off with his
pilot-coat, and accompanied his friend into the back parlour, where his hand
presently alighted on the rum-bottle, from which he brewed a  stiff glass of
grog;  and presently afterwards on  a pipe,  which  he  filled, lighted, and
began to smoke.
     Captain  Cuttle,  imitating  his  visitor  in   the   matter  of  these
particulars, though the rapt and imperturbable manner of the great Commander
was  far above  his  powers, sat  in  the  opposite  corner of the fireside,
observing him respectfully, and as  if  he waited for some encouragement  or
expression of curiosity  on Bunsby's  part which  should lead him to his own
affairs. But  as the mahogany philosopher gave no evidence of being sentient
of anything but warmth and tobacco, except once, when taking his  pipe  from
his lips to make room for his glass, he incidentally remarked with exceeding
gruffness, that his name was  Jack Bunsby - a declaration that presented but
small opening for conversation  - the Captain  bespeaking his attention in a
short  complimentary exordium,  narrated  the  whole history of  Uncle Sol's
departure, with the change it had produced in his own life and fortunes; and
concluded by placing the packet on the table.
     After a long pause, Mr Bunsby nodded his head.
     'Open?' said the Captain.
     Bunsby nodded again.
     The Captain  accordingly  broke the  seal, and  disclosed to  view  two
folded papers, of which he severally read the endorsements, thus: 'Last Will
and Testament of Solomon Gills.' 'Letter for Ned Cuttle.'
     Bunsby, with  his  eye on the coast  of Greenland, seemed to listen for
the contents. The Captain therefore hemmed to clear his throat, and read the
letter aloud.
     '"My dear Ned Cuttle. When I left home for the West Indies" - '
     Here the Captain stopped, and looked hard at Bunsby, who looked fixedly
at the coast of Greenland.
     '  - "in forlorn search of intelligence of my dear boy, I knew that  if
you  were acquainted with  my design,  you would thwart it, or accompany me;
and  therefore  I  kept it secret.  If you ever read this letter,  Ned, I am
likely to be dead. You will easily forgive  an old  friend's folly then, and
will feel for the restlessness and uncertainty in which  he wandered away on
such a wild voyage. So no more  of that. I have little hope that my poor boy
will ever read these words, or gladden your eyes with the sight of his frank
face  any  more."  No,  no;  no  more,'  said  Captain  Cuttle,  sorrowfully
meditating; 'no more. There he lays, all his days - '
     Mr  Bunsby,  who  had a musical ear, suddenly bellowed, 'In the Bays of
Biscay, O!' which so affected the good Captain, as an appropriate tribute to
departed worth, that he shook him by  the  hand in  acknowledgment,  and was
fain to wipe his eyes.
     'Well, well!'  said the Captain with a  sigh,  as the Lament  of Bunsby
ceased  to ring and vibrate in the skylight. 'Affliction  sore, long time he
bore, and let us overhaul the wollume, and there find it.'
     'Physicians,' observed Bunsby, 'was in vain."
     'Ay, ay, to be sure,' said the Captain, 'what's the good o' them in two
or three  hundred fathoms o' water!' Then, returning to the letter, he  read
on:  -  '"But  if  he  should be  by,  when  it  is  opened;"'  the  Captain
involuntarily looked round,  and shook his head;  '"or should know  of it at
any other time;"' the Captain shook his head again; '"my blessing on him! In
case the accompanying paper  is not legally written, it matters very little,
for there is no one interested but you and he, and my plain wish is, that if
he is living he should  have what little there  may be,  and if  (as I fear)
otherwise, that you  should have it, Ned.  You will respect my wish, I know.
God bless you  for it, and for all  your  friendliness  besides,  to Solomon
Gills." Bunsby!' said the Captain, appealing to  him solemnly,  'what do you
make of  this? There you sit, a man as  has had  his head broke from infancy
up'ards, and has got a new opinion into it at every seam as has been opened.
Now, what do you make o' this?'
     'If  so be,'  returned Bunsby, with unusual promptitude, 'as he's dead,
my opinion is he won't come back no more. If so be as he's alive, my opinion
is he will. Do I say he will? No. Why  not?  Because  the  bearings  of this
obserwation lays in the application on it.'
     'Bunsby!'  said  Captain  Cuttle, who would seem to have  estimated the
value of his distinguished  friend's opinions in proportion to the immensity
of  the difficulty he experienced in making anything out of  them; 'Bunsby,'
said  the Captain, quite  confounded  by admiration, 'you carry  a weight of
mind easy, as would swamp one of my tonnage soon. But in regard o' this here
will, I don't  mean to take  no steps towards  the property - Lord forbid! -
except  to keep it for a more rightful owner; and I hope yet as the rightful
owner, Sol Gills, is living and'll come back, strange as it is that he ain't
forwarded no dispatches. Now, what is your opinion, Bunsby, as to stowing of
these here papers away again, and marking outside as they was opened, such a
day, in the presence of John Bunsby and Ed'ard Cuttle?'
     Bunsby, descrying no objection, on the coast of Greenland or elsewhere,
to this  proposal,  it  was carried  into execution;  and  that  great  man,
bringing his eye into the present  for a moment, affixed his  sign-manual to
the cover, totally abstaining, with characteristic modesty, from the  use of
capital  letters.  Captain  Cuttle,  having  attached  his  own  left-handed
signature, and locked up the packet in the iron safe, entreated his guest to
mix another glass and smoke another pipe; and doing the like himself, fell a
musing   over  the  fire  on  the   possible  fortunes  of   the  poor   old
Instrument-maker.
     And now  a surprise occurred, so overwhelming and terrific that Captain
Cuttle,  unsupported  by the  presence of Bunsby, must have sunk beneath it,
and been a lost man from that fatal hour.
     How the  Captain, even in the  satisfaction of  admitting such a guest,
could have only shut the door, and not locked it, of which negligence he was
undoubtedly guilty, is one of those questions that must for ever remain mere
points  of speculation,  or  vague  charges  against  destiny.  But by  that
unlocked  door, at this quiet moment, did  the fell MacStinger dash into the
parlour, bringing  Alexander  MacStinger in her parental arms, and confusion
and vengeance  (not  to  mention Juliana MacStinger, and the  sweet  child's
brother,  Charles  MacStinger,  popularly  known  about the  scenes  of  his
youthful  sports,  as Chowley) in  her train.  She  came  so swiftly  and so
silently, like a rushing air from the neighbourhood of the East India Docks,
that Captain Cuttle found himself in the very act of sitting looking at her,
before the calm face with which  he  had been meditating,  changed to one of
horror and dismay.
     But the  moment  Captain  Cuttle understood  the  full  extent  of  his
misfortune, self-preservation dictated an attempt at flight.  Darting at the
little  door which  opened from  the  parlour on the steep little  range  of
cellar-steps, the Captain made a rush, head-foremost, at the latter, like  a
man  indifferent to bruises and  contusions, who only sought to hide himself
in  the bowels  of the earth. In this gallant  effort he would probably have
succeeded, but for the affectionate dispositions of Juliana and Chowley, who
pinning  him by the legs - one of those dear  children holding on  to each -
claimed him as their friend, with  lamentable cries.  In  the  meantime, Mrs
MacStinger,  who  never  entered  upon  any  action  of  importance  without
previously inverting Alexander MacStinger, to bring him within  the range of
a brisk battery  of slaps, and then  sitting him down to cool  as the reader
first beheld him, performed that solemn rite, as if on this occasion it were
a  sacrifice  to the  Furies; and having deposited the victim  on the floor,
made at the Captain  with a strength of  purpose that  appeared  to threaten
scratches to the interposing Bunsby.
     The  cries of  the  two  elder MacStingers,  and the  wailing  of young
Alexander, who may be said to have passed a piebald  childhood, forasmuch as
he was black in the face during one half of that fairy period  of existence,
combined  to make this visitation the more awful.  But when  silence reigned
again,  and the Captain, in a violent perspiration,  stood meekly looking at
Mrs MacStinger, its terrors were at their height.
     'Oh,  Cap'en Cuttle, Cap'en Cuttle!' said  Mrs  MacStinger,  making her
chin rigid, and shaking it in unison with what, but for the weakness  of her
sex, might be described as her  fist. 'Oh, Cap'en Cuttle,  Cap'en Cuttle, do
you dare to look me in the face, and not be struck down in the herth!'
     The Captain, who looked anything but daring, feebly muttered 'Standby!'
     'Oh  I was  a weak and  trusting  Fool when I  took you under  my roof,
Cap'en Cuttle, I was!' cried Mrs MacStinger. 'To think of the benefits  I've
showered on that man, and  the way in which I brought my children up to love
and honour him as if he was a father to 'em, when there ain't a housekeeper,
no nor a lodger in our street, don't know that I lost money by that man, and
by his guzzlings and his muzzlings' - Mrs MacStinger used the  last word for
the  joint  sake  of  alliteration and  aggravation,  rather  than  for  the
expression  of any idea - 'and  when they cried out one  and all, shame upon
him for putting upon an industrious woman, up early and late for the good of
her young family,  and keeping her  poor  place so  clean that a  individual
might  have ate his dinner, yes, and his tea too, if he was so disposed, off
any  one of the  floors  or  stairs, in spite of all his guzzlings  and  his
muzzlings, such was the care and pains bestowed upon him!'
     Mrs MacStinger stopped to  fetch her breath; and her  face flushed with
triumph in this second happy introduction of Captain Cuttle's muzzlings.
     'And he runs awa-a-a-y!'cried Mrs MacStinger, with a lengthening out of
the  last  syllable that made the unfortunate Captain  regard himself as the
meanest of men; 'and keeps away a twelve-month! From  a woman!  Such  is his
conscience! He  hasn't the courage  to  meet  her hi-i-igh;'  long  syllable
again; 'but steals away, like a felion. Why, if that baby of mine,' said Mrs
MacStinger, with sudden rapidity, 'was to offer to go and steal away, I'd do
my duty as a mother by him, till he was covered with wales!'
     The young Alexander,  interpreting this into a positive  promise, to be
shortly redeemed, tumbled over with fear and grief, and  lay upon the floor,
exhibiting the soles of his shoes and making such  a deafening outcry,  that
Mrs MacStinger found it  necessary to take him up in  her  arms,  where  she
quieted him,  ever  and anon, as he broke out again, by  a shake that seemed
enough to loosen his teeth.
     'A pretty sort of a man is Cap'en  Cuttle,' said Mrs MacStinger, with a
sharp stress on the first  syllable of the Captain's name, 'to take on for -
and  to lose sleep for- and to faint along of-  and to think dead forsooth -
and  to go up  and down the blessed town like a madwoman,  asking  questions
after! Oh, a pretty sort of a man! Ha ha ha ha! He's worth all that  trouble
and distress of mind, and much more. That's nothing, bless you! Ha ha ha ha!
Cap'en  Cuttle,' said Mrs MacStinger, with severe reaction in her voice  and
manner, 'I wish to know if you're a-coming home.
     The frightened Captain looked into his hat, as if he saw nothing for it
but to put it on, and give himself up.
     'Cap'en Cuttle,'  repeated  Mrs  MacStinger,  in  the  same  determined
manner, 'I wish to know if you're a-coming home, Sir.'
     The  Captain seemed quite ready to go,  but faintly suggested something
to the effect of 'not making so much noise about it.'
     'Ay, ay, ay,' said Bunsby, in a soothing tone. 'Awast, my lass, awast!'
     'And  who  may  you be, if  you please!'  retorted Mrs MacStinger, with
chaste loftiness.  'Did you ever lodge at Number Nine, Brig  Place, Sir?  My
memory may be bad, but not with me, I think.  There was a Mrs  Jollson lived
at Number  Nine before me, and perhaps you're mistaking me for her.  That is
my only ways of accounting for your familiarity, Sir.'
     'Come, come, my lass, awast, awast!' said Bunsby.
     Captain Cuttle could hardly believe it, even of this great man,  though
he saw  it done with his waking eyes; but Bunsby, advancing boldly,  put his
shaggy blue  arm round Mrs MacStinger, and so  softened her by his magic way
of doing it, and by these few words - he said no more - that she melted into
tears, after looking upon him for a few  moments, and observed that a  child
might conquer her now, she was so low in her courage.
     Speechless and  utterly amazed, the Captain  saw him gradually persuade
this inexorable woman into the shop,  return for rum and water and a candle,
take  them to  her, and  pacify  her  without appearing to  utter  one word.
Presently  he  looked  in  with his  pilot-coat  on, and said, 'Cuttle,  I'm
a-going to  act as convoy home;' and  Captain  Cuttle, more to his confusion
than if he had been  put in irons himself, for safe transport to Brig Place,
saw the family pacifically filing off, with Mrs MacStinger at their head. He
had  scarcely  time  to take down his canister,  and stealthily convey  some
money  into  the  hands  of Juliana  MacStinger, his former  favourite,  and
Chowley,  who  had the  claim upon  him that he was naturally of a  maritime
build,  before  the  Midshipman  was  abandoned  by  them  all;  and  Bunsby
whispering that he'd carry  on  smart, and hail  Ned Cuttle  again before he
went aboard, shut the door upon himself, as the last member of the party.
     Some uneasy ideas that he must be walking in his  sleep, or that he had
been troubled with phantoms, and not a family of flesh and blood,  beset the
Captain at first, when he went back to the little parlour, and found himself
alone. Illimitable faith in, and  immeasurable  admiration of, the Commander
of the  Cautious Clara,  succeeded, and  threw the Captain into a  wondering
trance.
     Still,  as  time wore on,  and Bunsby failed to reappear,  the  Captain
began to  entertain uncomfortable doubts of another kind. Whether Bunsby had
been artfully decoyed to Brig Place, and was there detained  in safe custody
as hostage for  his friend; in which case it would become the  Captain, as a
man of honour, to  release him, by the sacrifice of his own liberty. Whether
he had been attacked and defeated by Mrs MacStinger, and was ashamed to show
himself  after his discomfiture. Whether Mrs MacStinger,  thinking better of
it,  in  the  uncertainty  of  her  temper, had  turned  back  to  board the
Midshipman again, and Bunsby, pretending to conduct her  by a short cut, was
endeavouring  to  lose  the family  amid the wilds  and savage places of the
City. Above all, what it would behove him, Captain Cuttle, to do, in case of
his hearing no more, either of the MacStingers or of Bunsby, which, in these
wonderful and unforeseen conjunctions of events, might possibly happen.
     He debated all this until he was tired; and still no Bunsby. He made up
his bed under the counter, all ready for turning in; and still no Bunsby. At
length, when  the Captain had given him up, for that night at least, and had
begun to undress, the sound of approaching  wheels was heard,  and, stopping
at the door, was succeeded by Bunsby's hail.
     The Captain trembled to think that Mrs MacStinger was not to be got rid
of, and had been brought back in a coach.
     But  no.  Bunsby was accompanied by nothing  but a large box,  which he
hauled  into the shop with  his own  hands, and as soon as he had hauled in,
sat  upon.  Captain  Cuttle knew  it  for  the  chest  he had  left  at  Mrs
MacStinger's house, and looking, candle in hand, at Bunsby more attentively,
believed that he was three sheets in the wind, or, in plain words, drunk. It
was difficult, however, to be sure of this; the Commander having no trace of
expression in his face when sober.
     'Cuttle,'  said the  Commander, getting off the chest,  and opening the
lid, 'are these here your traps?'
     Captain Cuttle looked in and identified his property.
     'Done pretty taut and trim, hey, shipmet?' said Bunsby.
     The grateful  and bewildered Captain grasped  him  by the hand, and was
launching  into a  reply expressive of his astonished feelings,  when Bunsby
disengaged  himself  by a jerk of his wrist, and seemed to make an effort to
wink  with  his revolving  eye, the only effect  of  which  attempt, in  his
condition, was nearly to over-balance him. He then abruptly opened the door,
and shot away to rejoin the Cautious  Clara  with all speed - supposed to be
his invariable custom, whenever he considered he had made a point.
     As it was not his humour to be often sought, Captain Cuttle decided not
to go or send to him next day, or until he should make his gracious pleasure
known in  such wise,  or failing that, until  some  little time should  have
lapsed. The Captain, therefore, renewed  his solitary life next morning, and
thought profoundly, many mornings, noons,  and nights, of old Sol Gills, and
Bunsby's sentiments concerning  him, and the hopes there were of his return.
Much of such thinking  strengthened  Captain Cuttle's hopes; and he humoured
them and  himself by watching for the Instrument-maker at the  door - as  he
ventured to do now, in  his strange liberty - and setting  his chair  in its
place, and arranging the little parlour as it used to be, in  case he should
come  home unexpectedly.  He likewise, in  his thoughtfulness,  took  down a
certain little miniature of Walter as a schoolboy, from its accustomed nail,
lest it should  shock  the old  man  on  his  return.  The Captain  had  his
presentiments,  too, sometimes, that  he would come on such  a day;  and one
particular  Sunday, even  ordered a  double  allowance of dinner, he  was so
sanguine.  But come,  old Solomon did  not; and still the neighbours noticed
how  the  seafaring man in  the  glazed hat,  stood at the shop-door  of  an
evening, looking up and down the street.


     Domestic Relations

     It was  not in  the  nature of things that a  man of Mr  Dombey's mood,
opposed  to such  a spirit  as  he  had  raised  against himself,  should be
softened in  the  imperious asperity  of his  temper; or  that the cold hard
armour of  pride in  which he lived encased, should be made more flexible by
constant  collision with haughty scorn and defiance. It is the curse of such
a nature - it is a main  part  of the heavy retribution  on itself it  bears
within  itself  -  that  while  deference  and  concession  swell  its  evil
qualities, and are the food  it grows upon, resistance and  a questioning of
its exacting claims, foster it  too, no less. The  evil that  is in it finds
equally its means of growth and propagation in opposites.  It draws  support
and life from sweets  and bitters; bowed down before,  or unacknowledged, it
still enslaves the breast in which it  has its  throne;  and,  worshipped or
rejected, is as hard a master as the Devil in dark fables.
     Towards his first wife, Mr Dombey, in his cold and lofty arrogance, had
borne himself  like the removed Being he almost conceived  himself to be. He
had been 'Mr Dombey' with her when she first saw him, and he was 'Mr Dombey'
when she died.  He  had asserted his  greatness during  their  whole married
life, and  she had  meekly recognised  it.  He had kept  his distant seat of
state  on the top of his throne,  and she her  humble station  on its lowest
step; and  much good it had done him, so to live  in solitary bondage to his
one idea. He had imagined that the proud character of  his second wife would
have  been  added to  his own  -  would have merged into it, and exalted his
greatness.  He  had  pictured  himself  haughtier  than  ever, with  Edith's
haughtiness subservient to his. He  had never entertained the possibility of
its arraying itself against him. And now,  when  he found it rising  in  his
path at every step and turn of his daily life, fixing its cold, defiant, and
contemptuous  face upon him, this pride  of his,  instead  of  withering, or
hanging down its  head beneath the shock, put forth new shoots,  became more
concentrated and intense, more gloomy, sullen, irksome, and unyielding, than
it had ever been before.
     Who  wears  such  armour,  too,  bears  with  him  ever  another  heavy
retribution.  It is of  proof  against conciliation, love,  and  confidence;
against  all  gentle  sympathy from  without, all trust, all tenderness, all
soft emotion; but to deep stabs in the self-love, it is as vulnerable as the
bare breast to steel; and such tormenting festers rankle there, as follow on
no other wounds, no, though  dealt with the mailed  hand of Pride itself, on
weaker pride, disarmed and thrown down.
     Such wounds were his. He felt them sharply, in the solitude  of his old
rooms; whither he  now  began often to retire again, and  pass long solitary
hours. It  seemed his  fate to be ever proud and powerful;  ever humbled and
powerless where he would be most strong. Who seemed fated  to work  out that
doom?
     Who? Who was it who could win his wife as she had won his boy?  Who was
it who had shown him that new victory, as he sat in the dark corner? Who was
it  whose least word did what his  utmost  means could not? Who was it  who,
unaided by his love, regard or notice, thrived and grew beautiful when those
so  aided  died? Who could it be, but  the same  child at whom he had  often
glanced uneasily in her motherless  infancy, with a kind of  dread, lest  he
might come to hate her; and of whom his foreboding was fulfilled, for he DID
hate her in his heart?
     Yes, and he  would have it hatred, and he made  it  hatred, though some
sparkles of the light in  which she had appeared before him on the memorable
night of his return home with his Bride, occasionally hung about  her still.
He knew now that she was beautiful; he did not dispute that she was graceful
and winning, and that in  the bright dawn of her womanhood she had come upon
him, a  surprise. But  he  turned even this against  her. In his  sullen and
unwholesome  brooding,  the  unhappy man,  with  a  dull  perception of  his
alienation from all  hearts, and  a vague  yearning for what he had  all his
life repelled, made  a  distorted  picture  of  his rights  and wrongs,  and
justified  himself with it against her. The worthier she promised  to be  of
him, the  greater claim  he  was  disposed  to  antedate  upon  her duty and
submission. When had she ever  shown  him duty and submission? Did she grace
his life - or Edith's? Had her attractions been manifested first to him - or
Edith?  Why, he  and she had  never been, from her  birth,  like  father and
child!  They  had always been  estranged. She had crossed him every way  and
everywhere. She  was  leagued against  him  now. Her  very  beauty  softened
natures that were  obdurate to  him, and  insulted  him  with  an  unnatural
triumph.
     It may have been that in all this there were mutterings of an  awakened
feeling  in  his breast,  however  selfishly  aroused  by  his  position  of
disadvantage, in comparison with what she might have made his life.  But  he
silenced the distant  thunder with the rolling of his sea of pride. He would
bear nothing  but his pride. And in  his pride, a heap of inconsistency, and
misery, and self-inflicted torment, he hated her.
     To  the moody,  stubborn, sullen  demon, that possessed him,  his  wife
opposed her different  pride in its full  force. They never could have led a
happy  life together;  but nothing could have made it more unhappy, than the
wilful and  determined  warfare of such  elements.  His pride was  set  upon
maintaining his magnificent  supremacy, and forcing  recognition  of it from
her. She would  have been racked to death, and turned but her haughty glance
of  calm inflexible  disdain  upon him, to the last.  Such recognition  from
Edith! He little knew through what a storm and  struggle she had been driven
onward to  the crowning honour  of his hand.  He little  knew how  much  she
thought she had conceded, when she suffered him to call her wife.
     Mr Dombey was resolved to show  her that he was supreme. There  must be
no will but his. Proud he desired that she should be, but she must be  proud
for, not against him. As he sat alone, hardening, he would often hear her go
out  and come home,  treading the round of London life with no more heed  of
his  liking or  disliking, pleasure or displeasure, than if  he had been her
groom.  Her  cold  supreme  indifference  -  his own  unquestioned attribute
usurped - stung him more than  any other  kind of treatment could have done;
and he determined to bend her to his magnificent and stately will.
     He  had  been  long communing with  these thoughts,  when  one night he
sought her in her own apartment,  after he  had heard her  return home late.
She was alone, in her brilliant dress, and had but that moment come from her
mother's  room. Her face was melancholy and pensive, when he  came upon her;
but it marked him at the door; for, glancing at the mirror before it, he saw
immediately,  as in a picture-frame,  the  knitted brow, and darkened beauty
that he knew so well.
     'Mrs Dombey,' he said, entering, 'I must beg leave to  have a few words
with you.'
     'To-morrow,' she replied.
     'There  is no time  like the present, Madam,' he returned. 'You mistake
your position. I am used to choose my own times; not to have them chosen for
me. I think you scarcely understand who and what I am, Mrs Dombey.
     'I think,' she answered, 'that I understand you very well.'
     She  looked upon  him  as  she  said so,  and  folding  her white arms,
sparkling  with gold  and gems, upon her swelling  breast,  turned away  her
eyes.
     If she  had been less handsome, and less stately in her cold composure,
she might  not have  had  the  power  of impressing  him with  the  sense of
disadvantage  that  penetrated  through his utmost pride.  But  she  had the
power, and he felt it  keenly.  He  glanced round  the  room:  saw  how  the
splendid  means  of personal  adornment,  and the  luxuries of  dress,  were
scattered  here  and  there,  and  disregarded;  not  in  mere  caprice  and
carelessness (or  so  he thought), but in  a steadfast haughty  disregard of
costly  things: and felt  it more and more. Chaplets of flowers,  plumes  of
feathers, jewels,  laces,  silks  and satins; look  where he  would, he  saw
riches, despised, poured out, and. made of no account. The very diamonds - a
marriage gift - that rose  and  fell  impatiently upon her bosom,  seemed to
pant to  break the chain that clasped them round her neck,  and roll down on
the floor where she might tread upon them.
     He  felt  his disadvantage, and  he showed it. Solemn and strange among
this  wealth of  colour  and  voluptuous  glitter, strange  and  constrained
towards  its  haughty  mistress, whose  repellent beauty  it  repeated,  and
presented all around him, as  in  so many  fragments of  a  mirror,  he  was
conscious of  embarrassment and awkwardness.  Nothing that ministered to her
disdainful self-possession could fail to gall him. Galled and irritated with
himself, he sat down, and went on, in no improved humour:
     'Mrs  Dombey,  it  is  very  necessary  that  there   should   be  some
understanding  arrived at  between  us. Your  conduct  does  not please  me,
Madam.'
     She merely glanced at him again,  and again  averted her  eyes; but she
might have spoken for an hour, and expressed less.
     'I repeat, Mrs  Dombey,  does  not please  me.  I  have  already  taken
occasion to request that it may be corrected. I now insist upon it.'
     'You chose a fitting occasion for your first remonstrance, Sir, and you
adopt a fitting manner, and a  fitting  word for your second. You insist! To
me!'
     'Madam,' said Mr Dombey, with his most offensive air of  state, 'I have
made you my wife. You bear my  name. You are associated with my position and
my reputation. I will not say that the world in general may be  disposed  to
think you  honoured by that association; but I will say that I am accustomed
to "insist," to my connexions and dependents.'
     'Which may you be pleased to consider me? she asked.
     'Possibly  I may think that  my wife should  partake - or does partake,
and cannot help herself - of both characters, Mrs Dombey.'
     She bent her eyes upon him steadily, and set her trembling lips. He saw
her bosom throb, and  saw her face  flush and turn  white. All this he could
know, and did: but he could not know that  one  word was  whispering in  the
deep recesses  of  her heart,  to keep  her quiet;  and  that  the word  was
Florence.
     Blind  idiot, rushing to a precipice!  He thought she  stood in awe  of
him.
     'You are too expensive,  Madam,' said Mr Dombey. 'You  are extravagant.
You waste a  great  deal of  money -  or  what would be a great deal in  the
pockets of most gentlemen - in cultivating a kind of society that is useless
to me,  and, indeed, that upon the whole  is  disagreeable to me. I  have to
insist upon a total change in all these respects. I know that in the novelty
of possessing a tithe of  such means as Fortune has placed at your disposal,
ladies are apt to run into a sudden extreme. There has been more than enough
of that extreme. I beg that Mrs Granger's very different experiences may now
come to the instruction of Mrs Dombey.'
     Still  the fixed look, the  trembling lips,  the  throbbing breast, the
face  now  crimson  and  now white;  and still  the  deep whisper  Florence,
Florence, speaking to her in the beating of her heart.
     His insolence of self-importance  dilated as he saw  this alteration in
her. Swollen no less by her past scorn of  him, and his so recent feeling of
disadvantage, than  by  her  present submission (as  he took  it to be),  it
became too mighty for his breast, and burst all bounds. Why,  who could long
resist his lofty will and pleasure! He had resolved to conquer her, and look
here!
     'You  will  further  please,  Madam,'  said Mr  Dombey,  in  a tone  of
sovereign  command, 'to understand distinctly, that I am to be  deferred  to
and  obeyed. That I must have  a positive  show and  confession of deference
before  the world,  Madam. I  am used to this. I require  it as my right. In
short I will have  it. I consider it no unreasonable return for  the worldly
advancement that  has befallen  you; and I believe nobody will be surprised,
either at its being required  from you, or at  your making  it. - To Me - To
Me!' he added, with emphasis.
     No word from her. No change in her. Her eyes upon him.
     'I have  learnt from your  mother,  Mrs Dombey,' said Mr  Dombey,  with
magisterial  importance,  what no doubt you  know,  namely, that Brighton is
recommended for her health. Mr Carker has been so good
     She changed suddenly. Her face and  bosom glowed as if the red light of
an angry sunset had been flung upon them. Not unobservant of the change, and
putting his own interpretation upon it, Mr Dombey resumed:
     'Mr Carker has been so good as to go down and secure a house there, for
a  time. On  the return of the  establishment  to London, I  shall take such
steps for its better management as I consider necessary.  One of these, will
be  the  engagement at  Brighton  (if  it  is to  be effected),  of  a  very
respectable reduced person there,  a  Mrs Pipchin,  formerly  employed in  a
situation of trust in my family,  to  act as  housekeeper. An  establishment
like  this, presided over but  nominally, Mrs Dombey, requires  a  competent
head.'
     She  had changed her attitude before he arrived at these words, and now
sat - still looking at him fixedly - turning a bracelet round and round upon
her arm; not winding it about with a light, womanly touch, but  pressing and
dragging it over the smooth skin, until the white limb showed a bar of red.
     'I  observed,'  said Mr Dombey  - 'and  this concludes  what I  deem it
necessary to say to you at present,  Mrs Dombey - I observed a  moment  ago,
Madam, that my  allusion to Mr Carker was  received in a peculiar manner. On
the occasion of my happening  to  point out to you, before that confidential
agent, the objection  I  had to your mode of receiving my visitors, you were
pleased to  object to his presence. You will have to get  the better of that
objection,  Madam,  and  to accustom yourself to it  very  probably on  many
similar occasions;  unless you adopt the remedy which is  in your own hands,
of giving  me no cause of complaint. Mr Carker,' said Mr  Dombey, who, after
the  emotion he had just seen, set great store by this means of reducing his
proud wife, and who was perhaps sufficiently willing to exhibit his power to
that  gentleman  in  a  new and triumphant  aspect, 'Mr  Carker  being in my
confidence, Mrs Dombey, may very well be in yours to such an extent. I hope,
Mrs  Dombey,'  he  continued,  after  a few  moments, during  which, in  his
increasing  haughtiness,  he had improved on his idea,  'I may not  find  it
necessary ever  to  entrust  Mr  Carker  with any message  of  objection  or
remonstrance  to  you;  but  as  it would  be derogatory to my  position and
reputation to be frequently holding trivial disputes with a lady upon whom I
have conferred  the  highest distinction that it is in my power to bestow, I
shall not scruple to avail myself of his services if I see occasion.'
     'And now,' he thought,  rising  in his moral magnificence, and rising a
stiffer  and  more  impenetrable  man  than  ever,  'she  knows  me  and  my
resolution.'
     The hand that had so  pressed the  bracelet was  laid heavily  upon her
breast, but she looked  at him  still, with an unaltered face, and said in a
low voice:
     'Wait! For God's sake! I must speak to you.'
     Why did  she not, and  what was the inward  struggle that  rendered her
incapable of doing so, for minutes, while, in the strong  constraint she put
upon  her face,  it was as fixed  as any  statue's  -  looking upon him with
neither yielding nor  unyielding, liking  nor  hatred,  pride  not humility:
nothing but a searching gaze?
     'Did I ever tempt  you to seek my hand? Did I  ever use any  art to win
you? Was  I  ever more conciliating to you when  you pursued me, than I have
been since our marriage? Was I ever other to you than I am?'
     'It is wholly  unnecessary, Madam,' said Mr Dombey, 'to enter upon such
discussions.'
     'Did you think I  loved you? Did you know I did not? Did you ever care,
Man! for my heart,  or propose to yourself to  win the worthless thing?  Was
there any poor pretence of any in our bargain? Upon your side, or on mine?'
     'These questions,'  said  Mr Dombey, 'are  all  wide  of  the  purpose,
Madam.'
     She  moved  between  him and the door to  prevent  his going  away, and
drawing her majestic figure to its height, looked steadily upon him still.
     'You answer each of them. You answer me before  I speak, I see. How can
you help it; you who know the miserable truth as well as I? Now, tell me. If
I  loved you to devotion, could I do more  than render up my  whole will and
being  to you,  as  you have just  demanded?  If my heart  were pure and all
untried, and you its idol, could you ask more; could you have more?'
     'Possibly not, Madam,' he returned coolly.
     'You know how  different I am. You  see me looking on you now,  and you
can read the warmth  of passion for you that is breathing in my face.' Not a
curl of  the proud lip, not a flash  of  the  dark eye, nothing but the same
intent and  searching look, accompanied  these  words. 'You  know my general
history. You have spoken of my mother. Do you think you can degrade, or bend
or break, me to submission and obedience?'
     Mr  Dombey  smiled, as he  might have smiled at an  inquiry whether  he
thought he could raise ten thousand pounds.
     'If there is anything unusual here,'  she said, with a slight motion of
her  hand  before her brow,  which  did not  for  a  moment  flinch from its
immovable and otherwise expressionless gaze, 'as  I know there  are  unusual
feelings  here,' raising  the hand she  pressed upon  her bosom, and heavily
returning it, 'consider that there is  no common  meaning in the appeal I am
going to make you. Yes, for I am  going;'  she said it as in prompt reply to
something in his face; 'to appeal to you.'
     Mr Dombey, with a slightly condescending bend of his  chin that rustled
and crackled his stiff cravat, sat down on a sofa that was near him, to hear
the appeal.
     'If you can believe that I am of  such a nature now,'  - he  fancied he
saw tears glistening in  her eyes, and he thought, complacently, that he had
forced them from her, though none fell on her cheek, and she regarded him as
steadily as  ever, -  'as would make  what  I now say  almost  incredible to
myself, said to any man  who had become my husband, but, above  all, said to
you, you may, perhaps,  attach  the greater weight to it. In the dark end to
which we are tending, and  may  come,  we shall not involve ourselves  alone
(that might not be much) but others.'
     Others! He knew at whom that word pointed, and frowned heavily.
     'I speak  to  you for the sake  of others. Also your  own sake; and for
mine. Since  our marriage, you have been arrogant to me;  and I have  repaid
you in  kind. You have shown to  me and  everyone  around us, every  day and
hour, that you think I am  graced and distinguished by  your alliance.  I do
not think  so,  and have shown that  too. It seems you do not understand, or
(so far as your power can  go) intend that each of  us shall take a separate
course; and you expect from me instead, a homage you will never have.'
     Although her face was still the  same, there  was emphatic confirmation
of this 'Never' in the very breath she drew.
     'I  feel  no  tenderness  towards you;  that  you  know. You would care
nothing for it, if I did or could. I know as well that you feel none towards
me. But we are linked together; and in the  knot that  ties us,  as  I  have
said, others are bound up. We must both die; we are  both connected with the
dead already, each by a little child. Let us forbear.'
     Mr Dombey took  a long respiration, as if  he  would have said, Oh! was
this all!
     'There is no wealth,' she went  on,  turning paler as she  watched him,
while her eyes grew yet more lustrous  in their earnestness, 'that could buy
these  words  of me, and the meaning that belongs to them. Once cast away as
idle breath, no wealth  or power  can bring them back. I mean  them; I  have
weighed them; and I will be true to what I undertake. If you will promise to
forbear on  your  part,  I will  promise to forbear on mine. We  are  a most
unhappy  pair, in whom, from different causes, every sentiment that  blesses
marriage, or justifies it, is rooted out; but in  the course of  time,  some
friendship, or some fitness for each other, may arise between us. I will try
to hope so, if you will make the endeavour too; and I will look forward to a
better and a happier use of age than I have made of youth or prime.
     Throughout she had spoken in  a low plain voice, that neither  rose nor
fell; ceasing, she  dropped  the hand with which she had enforced herself to
be  so passionless and  distinct, but  not  the  eyes  with which she had so
steadily observed him.
     'Madam,' said Mr Dombey,  with  his utmost dignity, 'I cannot entertain
any proposal of this extraordinary nature.
     She looked at him yet, without the least change.
     'I  cannot,'  said Mr Dombey, rising as he spoke, 'consent to temporise
or  treat with  you,  Mrs Dombey, upon  a subject  as to  which  you are  in
possession of my opinions  and  expectations. I  have stated  my  ultimatum,
Madam, and have only to request your very serious attention to it.'
     To see the face change to its old expression, deepened in intensity! To
see the eyes droop as from some mean and odious object! To see  the lighting
of the  haughty  brow!  To  see  scorn, anger, indignation,  and  abhorrence
starting into sight, and the pale  blank earnestness vanish like a  mist! He
could not choose but look, although he looked to his dismay.
     'Go, Sir!' she said, pointing with an imperious hand towards  the door.
'Our first and last confidence is at an end. Nothing can make us stranger to
each other than we are henceforth.'
     'I shall take my rightful  course, Madam,' said Mr Dombey, 'undeterred,
you may be sure, by any general declamation.'
     She turned  her back upon  him, and, without reply, sat down before her
glass.
     'I place my reliance on  your improved sense of  duty, and more correct
feeling, and better reflection, Madam,' said Mr Dombey.
     She  answered not one  word. He  saw no more expression of any  heed of
him, in the mirror,  than  if he had  been an unseen spider on the wall,  or
beetle on the floor, or rather, than if he had been  the  one or other, seen
and  crushed  when  she  last  turned from  him,  and  forgotten  among  the
ignominious and dead vermin of the ground.
     He looked back, as he  went out at the door, upon the well-lighted  and
luxurious room, the  beautiful and glittering objects  everywhere displayed,
the  shape of Edith  in its rich dress seated before her glass, and the face
of  Edith as  the  glass presented it to him;  and betook himself to his old
chamber of cogitation, carrying away with him a vivid picture in his mind of
all these  things,  and a rambling and unaccountable  speculation  (such  as
sometimes comes into a  man's head) how they would all look when he saw them
next.
     For the rest, Mr Dombey was very taciturn, and very dignified, and very
confident of carrying out his purpose; and remained so.
     He  did  not  design  accompanying  the  family  to  Brighton;  but  he
graciously  informed Cleopatra  at  breakfast, on the morning  of departure,
which arrived a day or two afterwards, that he might be expected down, soon.
There was no time  to be lost in getting Cleopatra to any place  recommended
as being salutary; for, indeed, she seemed upon the wane, and turning of the
earth, earthy.
     Without having undergone any  decided second attack of her malady,  the
old woman seemed to have crawled backward  in her  recovery  from the first.
She was more lean and shrunken,  more  uncertain in her imbecility, and made
stranger  confusions  in her mind  and  memory. Among other symptoms of this
last affliction, she fell into the habit of confounding the names of her two
sons-in-law, the living and the deceased;  and in general called  Mr Dombey,
either 'Grangeby,' or 'Domber,' or indifferently, both.
     But  she  was youthful,  very  youthful still; and  in her youthfulness
appeared at breakfast, before  going away, in a new bonnet made express, and
a travelling robe  that was embroidered  and braided like an old  baby's. It
was not easy to put her into a fly-away bonnet now, or to keep the bonnet in
its place on the back  of her poor nodding head, when it was got on. In this
instance, it had not only the extraneous effect of being always on one side,
but  of being  perpetually tapped  on the crown  by Flowers  the  maid,  who
attended in the background during breakfast to perform that duty.
     'Now, my dearest Grangeby,' said Mrs Skewton, 'you must posively prom,'
she cut some of her words  short, and cut out others altogether,  'come down
very soon.'
     'I said just now,  Madam,' returned  Mr Dombey, loudly and laboriously,
'that I am coming in a day or two.'
     'Bless you, Domber!'
     Here  the Major, who was come to take leave  of the ladies, and who was
staring  through  his  apoplectic  eyes  at  Mrs  Skewton's  face  with  the
disinterested composure of an immortal being, said:
     'Begad, Ma'am, you don't ask old Joe to come!'
     'Sterious  wretch, who's he?' lisped Cleopatra. But a tap on the bonnet
from Flowers seeming to jog her memory, she  added, 'Oh!  You mean yourself,
you naughty creature!'
     'Devilish queer,  Sir,' whispered  the Major to  Mr Dombey. 'Bad  case.
Never did wrap up  enough;'  the Major  being buttoned to the chin. 'Why who
should J. B. mean by Joe, but old Joe Bagstock - Joseph  - your slave - Joe,
Ma'am?  Here! Here's the  man! Here  are the Bagstock bellows, Ma'am!' cried
the Major, striking himself a sounding blow on the chest.
     'My  dearest  Edith -  Grangeby  -  it's most  trordinry  thing,'  said
Cleopatra, pettishly, 'that Major - '
     'Bagstock! J. B.!'  cried  the Major, seeing that she faltered for  his
name.
     'Well, it  don't  matter,' said Cleopatra. 'Edith,  my love, you know I
never could remember names - what was it? oh! - most trordinry thing that so
many people want to come down  to see me. I'm not going for long. I'm coming
back. Surely they can wait, till I come back!'
     Cleopatra looked all round the table as she said  it, and appeared very
uneasy.
     'I won't  have Vistors - really don't want visitors,' she said; 'little
repose - and all that sort of thing - is what I quire. No odious brutes must
proach me till I've shaken off this numbness;' and in a grisly resumption of
her coquettish ways, she made a  dab at the  Major with her fan, but overset
Mr Dombey's breakfast cup instead, which was in quite a different direction.
     Then she called  for Withers, and charged him to see  particularly that
word was  left about some trivial alterations in her room, which must be all
made before she came back, and which must be set about immediately, as there
was  no  saying how  soon she might come  back;  for  she  had  a great many
engagements, and all sorts  of  people  to call upon. Withers received these
directions with  becoming  deference,  and  gave  his  guarantee  for  their
execution; but when he  withdrew a pace or two behind her, it appeared as if
he couldn't help  looking strangely at the Major, who  couldn't help looking
strangely at Mr Dombey,  who  couldn't help looking strangely at  Cleopatra,
who  couldn't help nodding her bonnet  over one eye, and  rattling her knife
and fork upon her plate in using them, as if she were playing castanets.
     Edith alone never  lifted her eyes to any  face at the table, and never
seemed  dismayed by anything  her mother  said  or did.  She listened to her
disjointed talk, or  at least,  turned her head towards her when  addressed;
replied in a few low  words when necessary;  and sometimes  stopped her when
she was rambling,  or brought her  thoughts back with a monosyllable, to the
point  from  which they  had strayed. The mother, however  unsteady in other
things, was  constant  in  this - that she was  always observant of her. She
would look at the beautiful face,  in its marble stillness and severity, now
with a kind of fearful admiration;  now in a giggling foolish effort to move
it to a smile; now with capricious tears and jealous shakings  of her  head,
as imagining herself neglected by  it; always with an attraction towards it,
that never fluctuated like her  other ideas, but had constant possession  of
her. From  Edith she would  sometimes  look  at Florence, and back again  at
Edith, in a manner that was wild enough; and sometimes she would try to look
elsewhere, as if  to escape  from  her daughter's  face; but back to  it she
seemed  forced to  come,  although it never  sought hers  unless  sought, or
troubled her with one single glance.
     The  best concluded, Mrs Skewton, affecting to  lean girlishly upon the
Major's arm, but heavily supported  on the  other side by Flowers the  maid,
and propped up behind  by  Withers  the page, was conducted to the carriage,
which was to take her, Florence, and Edith to Brighton.
     'And is Joseph absolutely  banished?' said the  Major, thrusting in his
purple face over the steps. 'Damme,  Ma'am, is  Cleopatra so hard-hearted as
to forbid her faithful Antony Bagstock to approach the presence?'
     'Go along!' said Cleopatra, 'I can't bear you. You shall see me when  I
come back, if you are very good.'
     'Tell  Joseph, he may live in  hope,  Ma'am,' said the Major; 'or he'll
die in despair.'
     Cleopatra shuddered, and leaned back. 'Edith, my dear,' she said. 'Tell
him - '
     'What?'
     'Such dreadful words,' said Cleopatra. 'He uses such dreadful words!'
     Edith  signed to him to retire, gave  the word to  go  on, and left the
objectionable Major to Mr Dombey. To whom he returned, whistling.
     'I'll tell you what, Sir,'  said the Major, with his hands behind  him,
and his legs very wide asunder, 'a  fair friend of ours has removed to Queer
Street.'
     'What do you mean, Major?' inquired Mr Dombey.
     'I mean to say,  Dombey,' returned the Major,  'that you'll  soon be an
orphan-in-law.'
     Mr Dombey appeared  to relish  this  waggish description of  himself so
very  little,  that  the  Major wound  up  with  the horse's  cough,  as  an
expression of gravity.
     'Damme, Sir,'  said the  Major, 'there is  no use in disguising a fact.
Joe is blunt, Sir. That's  his nature. If you take old Josh at all, you take
him  as you find  him; and a devilish rusty, old rasper, of a close-toothed,
J. B. file, you do find him. Dombey,' said the Major, 'your wife's mother is
on the move, Sir.'
     'I fear,' returned Mr Dombey, with  much philosophy, 'that  Mrs Skewton
is shaken.'
     'Shaken, Dombey!' said the Major. 'Smashed!'
     'Change, however,' pursued Mr Dombey, 'and attention, may do much yet.'
     'Don't  believe it, Sir,'  returned the  Major. 'Damme,  Sir, she never
wrapped up  enough.  If  a  man don't  wrap  up,' said the  Major, taking in
another button of his buff waistcoat, 'he has nothing to fall back upon. But
some people  will die. They will do it. Damme, they will. They're obstinate.
I tell you what, Dombey, it may not be ornamental; it may not be refined; it
may  be rough and tough; but a little of the  genuine  old English  Bagstock
stamina, Sir, would do all the good in the world to the human breed.'
     After imparting this precious piece of information,  the Major, who was
certainly true-blue, whatever other  endowments he may  have had or  wanted,
coming within the 'genuine old English' classification, which has never been
exactly ascertained, took his lobster-eyes and his apoplexy to the club, and
choked there all day.
     Cleopatra,  at one time fretful, at another  self-complacent, sometimes
awake, sometimes  asleep, and at  all  times juvenile, reached Brighton  the
same night, fell to pieces as usual, and was put away in bed; where a gloomy
fancy might have pictured a more  potent skeleton than the maid,  who should
have been  one, watching at  the rose-coloured curtains, which were  carried
down to shed their bloom upon her.
     It  was  settled  in  high council of medical authority that she should
take a carriage airing every  day, and that it was important  she should get
out every day, and walk if she could. Edith was ready to attend her - always
ready to attend her, with the same mechanical attention and immovable beauty
- and they drove out alone; for Edith had an uneasiness  in  the presence of
Florence, now that her mother  was  worse, and  told Florence, with  a kiss,
that she would rather they two went alone.
     Mrs Skewton,  on one particular day,  was in  the irresolute, exacting,
jealous temper that  had developed  itself on  her recovery from  her  first
attack. After sitting silent  in the carriage watching Edith for  some time,
she took her hand and kissed it passionately. The hand was neither given nor
withdrawn, but  simply  yielded to  her  raising of it, and  being released,
dropped  down again, almost as if it were insensible. At  this she  began to
whimper  and moan,  and say  what a  mother  she  had been, and how she  was
forgotten!  This she continued to do at capricious intervals, even when they
had alighted:  when she herself was halting  along with the joint support of
Withers  and a  stick,  and Edith was walking by her side, and the  carriage
slowly following at a little distance.
     It was a bleak, lowering,  windy day, and they were out  upon the Downs
with nothing but a bare sweep of land between them and the  sky. The mother,
with a querulous satisfaction  in the  monotony  of her complaint, was still
repeating it in  a  low  voice from time to time, and the  proud form of her
daughter moved  beside  her  slowly, when there came  advancing over  a dark
ridge before them, two other figures, which in the distance, were so like an
exaggerated imitation of their own, that Edith stopped.
     Almost as she stopped, the  two  figures stopped; and that one which to
Edith's thinking  was like a  distorted shadow of her  mother, spoke to  the
other, earnestly, and with  a  pointing  hand towards them. That  one seemed
inclined to  turn back, but the other, in which Edith recognised enough that
was like herself  to strike her with an unusual feeling, not quite free from
fear, came on; and then they came on together.
     The greater part  of this observation,  she  made while walking towards
them,  for her stoppage  had been momentary. Nearer observation  showed  her
that  they  were poorly  dressed, as wanderers about the country;  that  the
younger woman carried knitted work or some such goods for sale; and that the
old one toiled on empty-handed.
     And yet, however far  removed  she was in dress, in dignity, in beauty,
Edith could not but compare  the younger  woman with herself, still.  It may
have  been  that  she saw  upon her  face some traces which  she  knew  were
lingering  in her own soul, if  not  yet written  on that index; but, as the
woman  came  on,  returning  her gaze,  fixing  her shining  eyes upon  her,
undoubtedly presenting something of  her own air and stature,  and appearing
to reciprocate her own thoughts,  she felt a chill creep over her, as if the
day were darkening, and the wind were colder.
     They  had   now   come  up.   The  old  woman,  holding  out  her  hand
importunately, stopped to beg  of Mrs Skewton. The  younger one stopped too,
and she and Edith looked in one another's eyes.
     'What is it that you have to sell?' said Edith.
     'Only this,' returned the woman, holding out her wares, without looking
at them. 'I sold myself long ago.'
     'My  Lady, don't believe her,' croaked the old woman  to  Mrs  Skewton;
'don't believe what she says. She loves to talk like that. She's my handsome
and  undutiful daughter. She gives me nothing but  reproaches, my  Lady, for
all  I  have done for her. Look at her now, my  Lady, how she turns upon her
poor old mother with her looks.'
     As  Mrs Skewton drew  her purse out with a trembling hand,  and eagerly
fumbled for  some money,  which the  other old  woman greedily watched for -
their heads all  but  touching,  in  their  hurry  and  decrepitude -  Edith
interposed:
     'I have seen you,' addressing the old woman, 'before.'
     'Yes,  my Lady,' with  a curtsey. 'Down in  Warwickshire.  The  morning
among the trees.  When you wouldn't give me nothing.  But  the gentleman, he
give me something! Oh, bless him, bless him!' mumbled the old woman, holding
up her skinny hand, and grinning frightfully at her daughter.
     'It's  of  no  use attempting to  stay  me, Edith!'  said  Mrs Skewton,
angrily  anticipating an  objection from her. 'You know nothing about it.  I
won't  be  dissuaded.  I am  sure  this is  an excellent woman, and  a  good
mother.'
     'Yes,  my  Lady,  yes,'  chattered  the  old  woman,  holding  out  her
avaricious hand. 'Thankee, my Lady. Lord bless you, my  Lady. Sixpence more,
my pretty Lady, as a good mother yourself.'
     'And treated undutifully enough,  too, my good old creature, sometimes,
I assure  you,' said Mrs Skewton, whimpering. 'There! Shake  hands  with me.
You're a  very good old creature - full  of what's-his-name - and all  that.
You're all affection and et cetera, ain't you?'
     'Oh, yes, my Lady!'
     'Yes, I'm sure you are; and  so's that gentlemanly creature Grangeby. I
must really shake hands with you again. And now you  can go, you know; and I
hope,'  addressing the  daughter,  'that  you'll  show more  gratitude,  and
natural what's-its-name, and all the rest of it - but I never remember names
- for there never was  a better  mother than the good old creature's been to
you. Come, Edith!'
     As  the  ruin of Cleopatra tottered off whimpering, and wiping its eyes
with a  gingerly remembrance of  rouge in their neighbourhood, the old woman
hobbled another way, mumbling and counting her money. Not one word more, nor
one other gesture, had been exchanged between Edith and  the younger  woman,
but  neither  had  removed her eyes  from the other  for a  moment. They had
remained confronted until now, when Edith, as awakening from a dream, passed
slowly on.
     'You're a handsome woman,' muttered her shadow, looking after her; 'but
good looks won't save us. And you're a proud woman; but pride won't save us.
We had need to know each other when we meet again!'


     New Voices in the Waves

     All is going on as it was wont. The waves are hoarse with repetition of
their mystery; the dust lies piled upon the shore;  the sea-birds  soar  and
hover; the winds and clouds go forth upon  their trackless flight; the white
arms beckon, in the moonlight, to the invisible country far away.

     With a tender melancholy pleasure, Florence finds herself again  on the
old ground  so sadly trodden, yet so happily, and thinks of him in the quiet
place, where  he and she have many  and many a time conversed together, with
the water  welling up  about his couch.  And now, as she sits pensive there,
she  hears in the wild low murmur of the  sea, his little story told  again,
his very words repeated; and finds  that all her life and hopes, and griefs,
since - in the solitary house, and in the pageant it has changed to - have a
portion in the burden of the marvellous song.
     And gentle Mr  Toots,  who  wanders at  a distance,  looking  wistfully
towards the figure that he dotes upon, and has followed there, but cannot in
his delicacy disturb  at such a time, likewise hears  the requiem  of little
Dombey on  the waters,  rising and falling in  the lulls  of  their  eternal
madrigal  in  praise of Florence. Yes! and  he faintly understands, poor  Mr
Toots,  that  they  are saying something of a  time when he was sensible  of
being brighter and  not addle-brained; and the tears rising in his eyes when
he  fears  that he  is  dull and stupid now, and  good  for little but to be
laughed at, diminish  his satisfaction in their soothing reminder that he is
relieved from present responsibility to the Chicken, by  the absence of that
game  head  of poultry in the country,  training (at  Toots's cost) for  his
great mill with the Larkey Boy.
     But Mr Toots  takes courage,  when they whisper a kind thought to  him;
and  by  slow  degrees  and  with  many  indecisive  stoppages  on  the way,
approaches Florence. Stammering and  blushing,  Mr Toots  affects  amazement
when he comes near her, and says  (having  followed close on the carriage in
which  she travelled, every  inch of the way from London,  loving even to be
choked by the dust  of its wheels) that he never was so surprised in all his
life.
     'And  you've  brought  Diogenes,  too,  Miss Dombey!'  says  Mr  Toots,
thrilled through and through by the  touch  of  the small hand so pleasantly
and frankly given him.
     No doubt Diogenes is there, and no doubt Mr Toots has reason to observe
him,  for he  comes straightway at Mr Toots's legs, and tumbles over himself
in the desperation with which he makes at him, like a very dog of Montargis.
But he is checked by his sweet mistress.
     'Down, Di,  down. Don't you remember who first made us friends, Di? For
shame!'
     Oh! Well may Di lay his loving cheek against her hand, and run off, and
run back, and run round her, barking, and run headlong at anybody coming by,
to show  his  devotion.  Mr  Toots  would  run  headlong at anybody,  too. A
military gentleman goes past, and Mr Toots would like nothing better than to
run at him, full tilt.
     'Diogenes is quite in his native  air, isn't  he, Miss Dombey?' says Mr
Toots.
     Florence assents, with a grateful smile.
     'Miss Dombey,'  says Mr Toots, 'beg your  pardon, but if you would like
to walk to Blimber's, I - I'm going there.'
     Florence puts her arm in that of Mr Toots without a word, and they walk
away  together, with Diogenes going on  before. Mr Toots's legs  shake under
him;  and  though  he  is splendidly  dressed,  he  feels  misfits, and sees
wrinkles, in the masterpieces of  Burgess and Co., and wishes he had put  on
that brightest pair of boots.
     Doctor Blimber's house, outside, has as  scholastic and studious an air
as ever;  and  up there is the window  where she used to look for  the  pale
face, and where the pale  face brightened when  it saw her, and  the  wasted
little hand  waved kisses  as she passed. The door  is  opened  by  the same
weak-eyed  young man, whose  imbecility of  grin  at sight  of  Mr Toots  is
feebleness of character personified. They are shown into the Doctor's study,
where blind Homer and  Minerva give them  audience as of yore, to the  sober
ticking of the great clock in the hall; and where  the globes stand still in
their accustomed places, as if the world were stationary too, and nothing in
it ever perished in obedience to  the universal law, that, while it keeps it
on the roll, calls everything to earth.
     And here is Doctor  Blimber, with his  learned  legs; and  here is  Mrs
Blimber, with her sky-blue cap; and here Cornelia, with her sandy little row
of curls, and her bright spectacles,  still  working like  a sexton  in  the
graves  of  languages.  Here  is the table  upon which  he  sat  forlorn and
strange, the 'new boy' of the school; and hither comes the distant cooing of
the old boys, at their old lives in the old room on the old principle!
     'Toots,' says Doctor Blimber, 'I am very glad to see you, Toots.'
     Mr Toots chuckles in reply.
     'Also to see you, Toots, in such good company,' says Doctor Blimber.
     Mr  Toots, with a scarlet visage, explains that he has met  Miss Dombey
by  accident,  and that  Miss Dombey wishing,  like himself,  to see the old
place, they have come together.
     'You will like,' says Doctor Blimber, 'to step among our young friends,
Miss Dombey, no doubt. All fellow-students of yours, Toots, once. I think we
have no new  disciples in our little portico, my dear,' says  Doctor Blimber
to Cornelia, 'since Mr Toots left us.'
     'Except Bitherstone,' returns Cornelia.
     'Ay, truly,' says the Doctor. 'Bitherstone is new to Mr Toots.'
     New to Florence, too, almost;  for, in the schoolroom, Bitherstone - no
longer  Master Bitherstone of  Mrs  Pipchin's  -  shows  in  collars  and  a
neckcloth, and wears a watch. But Bitherstone, born beneath some Bengal star
of ill-omen,  is extremely inky; and his Lexicon  has got so  dropsical from
constant reference, that it won't shut, and yawns as  if it really could not
bear to be so bothered.  So  does Bitherstone its master, forced  at  Doctor
Blimber's highest  pressure;  but in the yawn of Bitherstone there is malice
and snarl, and he  has been heard to say that he wishes he  could catch 'old
Blimber' in India. He'd precious soon find himself carried up the country by
a few of his (Bitherstone's) Coolies,  and handed over to the Thugs; he  can
tell him that.
     Briggs is still grinding in the mill of  knowledge; and Tozer, too; and
Johnson,  too; and  all the rest; the older pupils being principally engaged
in forgetting, with prodigious labour, everything  they knew when they  were
younger. All are as polite and as pale as ever;  and  among them, Mr Feeder,
B.A., with  his bony hand and bristly head, is  still  hard at  it; with his
Herodotus stop on  just at present, and his other barrels  on a shelf behind
him.
     A mighty sensation is created, even among these grave young  gentlemen,
by a  visit from the emancipated Toots; who is regarded with a  kind of awe,
as  one who has passed the Rubicon,  and is pledged never to come  back, and
concerning the  cut  of  whose  clothes,  and  fashion of  whose  jewellery,
whispers go about, behind hands;  the bilious Bitherstone, who is not  of Mr
Toots's  time,  affecting  to despise the latter  to  the  smaller boys, and
saying he knows better, and that he should like to  see him coming that sort
of  thing in Bengal,  where his mother had got an emerald  belonging  to him
that was taken out of the footstool of a Rajah. Come now!
     Bewildering emotions  are awakened also by the sight of  Florence, with
whom every young gentleman  immediately falls  in  love, again;  except,  as
aforesaid,  the  bilious  Bitherstone,  who  declines  to  do   so,  out  of
contradiction. Black jealousies of Mr Toots arise, and Briggs is of  opinion
that he  ain't so very old after all.  But  this  disparaging insinuation is
speedily made nought by Mr Toots saying aloud to Mr  Feeder, B.A., 'How  are
you,  Feeder?'  and asking  him  to  come and  dine  with him to-day at  the
Bedford; in right of  which feats he might set up as Old  Parr, if he chose,
unquestioned.
     There is much shaking of hands,  and much bowing, and a great desire on
the  part of each young gentleman  to take  Toots down in Miss Dombey's good
graces;  and  then,  Mr  Toots having bestowed a  chuckle on  his  old desk,
Florence and  he withdraw with  Mrs Blimber and Cornelia; and Doctor Blimber
is heard to observe behind them as he comes out last,  and shuts  the  door,
'Gentlemen,  we will  now resume our studies,'  For  that and little else is
what the Doctor hears the sea say, or has heard it saying all his life.
     Florence then steals away and goes upstairs to the old bedroom with Mrs
Blimber and Cornelia; Mr  Toots, who feels that neither he  nor anybody else
is wanted there,  stands talking to the  Doctor at the study-door, or rather
hearing the Doctor talk to him, and wondering how he  ever thought the study
a  great  sanctuary, and the Doctor,  with his  round  turned  legs,  like a
clerical pianoforte, an awful man. Florence soon comes down and takes leave;
Mr Toots  takes leave; and Diogenes,  who  has been  worrying  the weak-eyed
young man pitilessly all the time, shoots out at the door, and barks  a glad
defiance down the cliff; while Melia,  and another  of  the  Doctor's female
domestics, looks out of an upper window, laughing 'at that there Toots,' and
saying of Miss Dombey, 'But really though, now - ain't she like her brother,
only prettier?'
     Mr Toots, who  saw  when Florence came down that there were tears  upon
her face, is desperately anxious and uneasy, and at  first fears that he did
wrong  in proposing the visit. But he is  soon relieved by her saying she is
very glad  to have been there  again, and  by  her  talking quite cheerfully
about it all, as  they walked on by the sea. What with the voices there, and
her sweet voice,  when they  come near Mr Dombey's house, and Mr  Toots must
leave her, he is so enslaved that he has not a scrap of free-will left; when
she gives him her hand at parting, he cannot let it go.
     'Miss Dombey, I beg your pardon,' says Mr Toots, in a sad fluster, 'but
if you would allow me to - to -
     The smiling and unconscious look of Florence brings him to a dead stop.
     'If you  would allow  me  to -  if you would not consider it a liberty,
Miss Dombey, if  I  was  to - without any  encouragement at all, if I was to
hope, you know,' says Mr Toots.
     Florence looks at him inquiringly.
     'Miss  Dombey,' says Mr  Toots, who feels that he is in  for it now, 'I
really am in  that state of adoration of you that  I don't know what  to  do
with myself. I am the most deplorable wretch. If it wasn't at the  corner of
the Square at  present, I should go down on my knees, and beg and entreat of
you, without any encouragement at all, just to let me hope  that I may - may
think it possible that you -
     'Oh, if  you please,  don't!'  cries  Florence,  for  the moment  quite
alarmed and  distressed.  'Oh,  pray don't, Mr Toots. Stop,  if  you please.
Don't say any more. As a kindness and a favour to me, don't.'
     Mr Toots is dreadfully abashed, and his mouth opens.
     'You have been so good to me,' says Florence, 'I am so grateful to you,
I have such reason  to like you for being a kind friend to me, and I do like
you  so  much;'  and  here  the  ingenuous  face smiles  upon him  with  the
pleasantest look of honesty in the world; 'that I am sure you are only going
to say good-bye!'
     'Certainly, Miss Dombey,' says Mr Toots, 'I - I - that's exactly what I
mean. It's of no consequence.'
     'Good-bye!' cries Florence.
     'Good-bye,  Miss Dombey!' stammers Mr Toots.  'I  hope you  won't think
anything about it. It's - it's of no consequence, thank you. It's not of the
least consequence in the world.'
     Poor Mr Toots goes  home to his hotel in a state of desperation,  locks
himself into his bedroom, flings himself upon his bed, and lies  there for a
long time; as if it were of the  greatest consequence,  nevertheless. But Mr
Feeder, B.A., is coming to dinner, which happens well for Mr Toots, or there
is no knowing when he might get  up again. Mr Toots is obliged to  get up to
receive him, and to give him hospitable entertainment.
     And the generous influence  of that social virtue, hospitality (to make
no mention of wine and good cheer), opens Mr Toots's heart, and warms him to
conversation. He does not tell Mr Feeder, B.A., what passed at the corner of
the Square; but  when Mr Feeder asks him 'When  it is to come off?' Mr Toots
replies, 'that there are certain  subjects' - which brings Mr Feeder down  a
peg or two immediately. Mr Toots adds, that he don't know what right Blimber
had  to notice his being in Miss Dombey's company, and that if he thought he
meant impudence  by it,  he'd have him out, Doctor  or  no  Doctor;  but  he
supposes its only his ignorance. Mr Feeder says he has no doubt of it.
     Mr Feeder, however,  as an  intimate  friend, is not  excluded from the
subject. Mr Toots merely  requires that it should be mentioned mysteriously,
and  with feeling.  After  a  few  glasses  of  wine, he gives Miss Dombey's
health, observing, 'Feeder, you have no idea of the sentiments with which  I
propose that toast.' Mr Feeder replies, 'Oh, yes, I have, my dear Toots; and
greatly they redound to your honour, old boy.' Mr Feeder is then agitated by
friendship,  and shakes hands;  and says,  if ever Toots wants a brother, he
knows where to find him, either by post or parcel. Mr Feeder like-wise says,
that if he may advise, he would recommend Mr Toots to  learn the guitar, or,
at least the flute; for women like music, when you are paying your addresses
to 'em, and he has found the advantage of it himself.
     This brings Mr Feeder, B.A., to the confession that he has his eye upon
Cornelia Blimber.  He informs Mr Toots that he don't  object to  spectacles,
and that  if  the Doctor  were  to  do the  handsome thing  and give  up the
business, why, there they are - provided for. He says it's his  opinion that
when a man has made a handsome sum  by his business, he is bound to give  it
up; and that Cornelia would be an assistance  in it  which any  man might be
proud  of.  Mr  Toots  replies by  launching wildly out into  Miss  Dombey's
praises, and by insinuations that sometimes he thinks he should like to blow
his brains out. Mr Feeder strongly  urges  that  it would be a rash attempt,
and shows  him,  as  a  reconcilement  to  existence,  Cornelia's  portrait,
spectacles and all.
     Thus  these quiet spirits  pass the evening; and  when  it has  yielded
place  to night, Mr Toots walks home with Mr  Feeder, and parts  with him at
Doctor  Blimber's door. But  Mr Feeder  only goes up the  steps, and when Mr
Toots is gone, comes down again, to stroll  upon  the beach alone, and think
about his prospects. Mr  Feeder plainly hears the waves informing him, as he
loiters along, that Doctor Blimber will give up the business; and he feels a
soft romantic  pleasure in looking at the outside of the house, and thinking
that the Doctor will first paint it, and put it into thorough repair.
     Mr  Toots is likewise roaming up  and  down,  outside the  casket  that
contains  his  jewel;  and  in  a  deplorable  condition  of mind,  and  not
unsuspected  by the police, gazes  at a  window  where he sees a  light, and
which  he  has no  doubt  is Florence's.  But  it  is not, for  that  is Mrs
Skewton's room;  and while Florence,  sleeping  in  another  chamber, dreams
lovingly,  in the midst  of the old scenes, and their old  associations live
again, the figure which in grim reality is substituted for the patient boy's
on the same theatre,  once more to connect it  - but how differently! - with
decay  and  death, is  stretched there,  wakeful  and complaining. Ugly  and
haggard it lies upon its  bed of  unrest; and  by  it, in the terror  of her
unimpassioned loveliness - for it has terror in the sufferer's  failing eyes
- sits Edith. What do the waves say, in the stillness of the night, to them?
     'Edith, what is that stone arm raised to strike me? Don't you see it?'
     There is nothing, mother, but your fancy.'
     'But my fancy! Everything  is my  fancy. Look! Is it  possible that you
don't see it?'
     'Indeed, mother, there is nothing. Should I sit  unmoved, if there were
any such thing there?'
     'Unmoved?' looking wildly at her - 'it's gone now - and why are you  so
unmoved? That is not my fancy, Edith. It turns me cold to see you sitting at
my side.'
     'I am sorry, mother.'
     'Sorry! You seem always sorry. But it is not for me!'
     With that, she cries;  and tossing  her restless head from side to side
upon her pillow, runs on about neglect, and the mother she has been, and the
mother  the  good old creature was, whom they met,  and the cold  return the
daughters of such mothers make. In the midst  of her incoherence, she stops,
looks at her daughter, cries out that her wits are going, and hides her face
upon the bed.
     Edith, in compassion,  bends over her and speaks to her.  The sick  old
woman clutches her round the neck, and says, with a look of horror,
     'Edith! we are  going home soon;  going back. You mean  that I shall go
home again?'
     'Yes, mother, yes.'
     'And  what he said  - what's-his-name, I never could  remember names  -
Major - that dreadful word, when we came away -  it's not true? Edith!' with
a shriek and a stare, 'it's not that that is the matter with me.'
     Night  after night, the  lights burn in the window, and the figure lies
upon the bed, and Edith sits beside it, and  the restless  waves are calling
to them  both the whole night  long. Night after night, the waves are hoarse
with repetition of their  mystery;  the dust lies piled upon the  shore; the
sea-birds  soar  and  hover;  the  winds  and  clouds are on their trackless
flight; the white arms beckon, in the moonlight,  to the  invisible  country
far away.
     And still the sick old woman looks into the corner, where the stone arm
- part of a figure of some tomb, she says - is raised to strike her. At last
it  falls;  and then  a dumb old  woman lies upon the  the  bed,  and she is
crooked and shrunk up, and half of her is dead.
     Such is the figure, painted  and patched  for the sun to mock,  that is
drawn slowly through the crowd from day to day; looking, as it goes, for the
good old creature who was such a mother, and making mouths as it peers among
the  crowd in vain. Such  is the figure  that  is often wheeled  down to the
margin of the  sea,  and  stationed there; but  on which  no wind  can  blow
freshness, and for which the murmur of  the ocean has no soothing word.  She
lies  and listens to it by the hour;  but its speech  is dark and gloomy  to
her, and a dread is on her face, and when her eyes wander over the  expanse,
they see but a broad stretch of desolation between earth and heaven.
     Florence she seldom sees, and when she does, is angry with and mows at.
Edith is beside her  always, and  keeps  Florence away; and Florence, in her
bed at night,  trembles at the  thought of  death in such a shape, and often
wakes and listens, thinking it has come. No one attends on her but Edith. It
is better  that  few eyes  should see her; and her daughter watches alone by
the bedside.
     A shadow even on that shadowed face, a sharpening even of the sharpened
features,  and  a  thickening of the  veil before  the eyes into a pall that
shuts out the dim world, is come. Her wandering hands upon the coverlet join
feebly palm to palm, and  move towards her  daughter; and a  voice  not like
hers, not  like any voice that speaks our mortal  language  -  says,  'For I
nursed you!'
     Edith,  without a tear, kneels down  to bring  her voice  closer to the
sinking head, and answers:
     'Mother, can you hear me?'
     Staring wide, she tries to nod in answer.
     'Can you recollect the night before I married?'
     The head is motionless, but it expresses somehow that she does.
     'I  told you  then  that  I forgave  your part in it, and prayed God to
forgive my own. I told you that time past was at an end between us. I say so
now, again. Kiss me, mother.'
     Edith touches the white lips, and  for a moment all is still.  A moment
afterwards, her  mother,  with  her  girlish laugh, and  the skeleton of the
Cleopatra manner, rises in her bed.
     Draw  the  rose-coloured  curtains. There  is  something else  upon its
flight besides the wind and clouds. Draw the rose-coloured curtains close!

     Intelligence  of the event is sent to Mr Dombey in town, who waits upon
Cousin Feenix  (not yet able to  make up his  mind for Baden-Baden), who has
just received it too. A good-natured creature like Cousin Feenix is the very
man for a marriage  or a funeral, and his position in the family  renders it
right that he should be consulted.
     'Dombey,' said Cousin Feenix, 'upon my  soul, I am very much shocked to
see you  on such  a melancholy  occasion. My  poor aunt! She was  a devilish
lively woman.'
     Mr Dombey replies, 'Very much so.'
     'And   made   up,'  says  Cousin  Feenix,  'really   young,  you  know,
considering. I am sure, on the day of your marriage, I thought she  was good
for another twenty years. In point of fact, I said so to a man at Brooks's -
little Billy Joper - you know him, no doubt - man with a glass in his eye?'
     Mr Dombey bows  a negative. 'In reference to the obsequies,' he  hints,
'whether there is any suggestion - '
     'Well, upon  my life,'  says Cousin Feenix, stroking his chin, which he
has  just enough of hand below his wristbands  to do; 'I  really don't know.
There's  a  Mausoleum down at my place,  in the park, but I'm afraid it's in
bad  repair,  and, in point of fact, in  a devil of a state. But for being a
little out at elbows, I should have had it put to  rights; but I believe the
people come and make pic-nic parties there inside the iron railings.'
     Mr Dombey is clear that this won't do.
     'There's  an uncommon  good church in the village,' says Cousin Feenix,
thoughtfully; 'pure specimen of the Anglo-Norman style,  and  admirably well
sketched too by Lady  Jane Finchbury  - woman with tight stays - but they've
spoilt it with whitewash, I understand, and it's a long journey.
     'Perhaps Brighton itself,' Mr Dombey suggests.
     'Upon my honour, Dombey, I don't think we could do better,' says Cousin
Feenix. 'It's on the spot, you see, and a very cheerful place.'
     'And when,' hints Mr Dombey, 'would it be convenient?'
     'I shall make a point,' says Cousin Feenix, 'of pledging myself for any
day you  think best. I  shall have  great pleasure  (melancholy pleasure, of
course) in following my poor aunt to the confines of the - in point of fact,
to the grave,' says Cousin Feenix, failing in the other turn of speech.
     'Would Monday do for leaving town?' says Mr Dombey.
     'Monday would suit me to perfection,'  replies Cousin Feenix. Therefore
Mr Dombey arranges to  take Cousin Feenix down  on that  day, and  presently
takes  his  leave,  attended to the  stairs by Cousin Feenix, who  says,  at
parting, 'I'm really excessively sorry, Dombey, that you should have so much
trouble about it;' to which Mr Dombey answers, 'Not at all.'
     At the appointed time, Cousin Feenix and Mr Dombey meet, and go down to
Brighton, and representing, in their  two selves, all the other mourners for
the  deceased lady's loss, attend her remains to their place of rest. Cousin
Feenix, sitting in the mourning-coach, recognises innumerable  acquaintances
on the road, but takes no other notice of  them, in decorum,  than  checking
them off aloud, as they go by, for Mr Dombey's information, as 'Tom Johnson.
Man with cork leg, from White's. What, are you here, Tommy? Foley on a blood
mare. The Smalder girls' -  and so forth. At the ceremony  Cousin  Feenix is
depressed, observing,  that these are  the occasions to make a man think, in
point of fact,  that he is getting shaky; and his eyes are really moistened,
when it is over. But he soon recovers;  and so  do the rest of Mrs Skewton's
relatives and friends, of whom the Major continually tells the club that she
never did wrap up  enough; while the  young lady with  the  back, who has so
much trouble  with her  eyelids,  says, with a little scream, that  she must
have been enormously old, and that she died of all kinds of horrors, and you
mustn't mention it.
     So Edith's mother lies unmentioned of her dear friends, who are deaf to
the waves that are hoarse with repetition of their mystery, and blind to the
dust that is piled upon the shore, and to the white arms that are beckoning,
in the moonlight, to the  invisible country far away. But all goes on, as it
was wont,  upon  the  margin of  the unknown sea; and Edith  standing  there
alone,  and  listening to  its waves, has dank  weed cast up at her feet, to
strew her path in life withal.


     Confidential and Accidental

     Attired no  more in  Captain Cuttle's sable slops and sou'-wester  hat,
but dressed in a substantial suit of brown livery,  which, while it affected
to be a  very  sober and demure livery indeed, was  really as self-satisfied
and confident a one as tailor  need desire  to  make,  Rob the Grinder, thus
transformed as  to his  outer man, and all regardless  within of the Captain
and the Midshipman, except when he devoted a few minutes of his leisure time
to  crowing  over those  inseparable  worthies,  and  recalling,  with  much
applauding music from that brazen instrument, his conscience, the triumphant
manner in which he  had disembarrassed himself of their company,  now served
his patron, Mr Carker. Inmate of  Mr  Carker's house,  and serving about his
person, Rob kept his round eyes on the white  teeth with fear and trembling,
and felt that he had need to open them wider than ever.
     He could not  have quaked more, through  his  whole  being,  before the
teeth, though  he  had come into the service of some powerful enchanter, and
they had  been  his strongest spells.  The  boy  had a  sense of  power  and
authority  in  this patron of  his that engrossed  his  whole attention  and
exacted his  most  implicit submission  and obedience.  He hardly considered
himself safe in thinking about him when he was  absent, lest he  should feel
himself  immediately taken by the throat  again, as  on the morning when  he
first became bound to him, and should see every one of the teeth finding him
out, and taxing him with every fancy of his mind. Face to face with him, Rob
had no more doubt that Mr Carker read his secret thoughts, or that  he could
read them by the least exertion of his  will if he were so inclined, than he
had that Mr  Carker  saw him when he looked  at him.  The  ascendancy was so
complete, and held him in  such enthralment, that, hardly daring to think at
all, but with his  mind  filled with a constantly dilating impression of his
patron's irresistible command  over him, and  power of doing  anything  with
him, he  would  stand  watching his pleasure, and trying to  anticipate  his
orders, in a state of mental suspension, as to all other things.
     Rob  had not informed  himself perhaps - in  his then  state of mind it
would have been an act of no common temerity to inquire - whether he yielded
so  completely  to  this  influence  in  any  part, because he  had floating
suspicions  of his patron's being  a master of certain treacherous  arts  in
which he  had  himself  been a poor  scholar  at  the  Grinders' School. But
certainly Rob  admired him, as  well as feared  him. Mr Carker, perhaps, was
better acquainted with the sources of his power, which lost  nothing by  his
management of it.
     On  the  very  night  when he left the Captain's  service,  Rob,  after
disposing of  his pigeons, and even making  a  bad bargain in his hurry, had
gone straight down to Mr Carker's house, and hotly  presented himself before
his new master with a glowing face that seemed to expect commendation.
     'What, scapegrace!' said  Mr Carker, glancing at  his bundle  'Have you
left your situation and come to me?'
     'Oh if you please, Sir,' faltered Rob, 'you said, you know, when I come
here last - '
     'I said,' returned Mr Carker, 'what did I say?'
     'If you please, Sir, you didn't say nothing at all, Sir,' returned Rob,
warned by the manner of this inquiry, and very much disconcerted.
     His patron looked at  him with  a wide display of gums, and shaking his
forefinger, observed:
     'You'll come  to an evil  end, my vagabond friend,  I foresee.  There's
ruin in store for you.
     'Oh if you please,  don't,  Sir!' cried Rob,  with  his legs  trembling
under him.  ' I'm sure, Sir, I only want  to work for you, Sir,  and to wait
upon you, Sir, and to do faithful whatever I'm bid, Sir.'
     'You had  better do  faithfully  whatever you are  bid,'  returned  his
patron, 'if you have anything to do with me.'
     'Yes, I know that, Sir,' pleaded the submissive Rob; 'I'm sure of that,
SIr. If you'll only be so good as try me, Sir! And if ever  you find me out,
Sir, doing anything against your wishes, I give you leave to kill me.'
     'You  dog!'  said Mr Carker, leaning back in his chair, and smiling  at
him serenely. 'That's nothing to what I'd do to you, if you tried to deceive
me.'
     'Yes, Sir,' replied the abject  Grinder, 'I'm  sure you would  be  down
upon me dreadful, Sir. I wouldn't attempt for to go and do it, Sir, not if I
was bribed with golden guineas.'
     Thoroughly checked in his expectations of commendation, the crestfallen
Grinder stood looking at his patron, and vainly endeavouring not  to look at
him, with  the  uneasiness  which a  cur will  often  manifest in  a similar
situation.
     'So you have left your old service, and come here to ask me to take you
into mine, eh?' said Mr Carker.
     'Yes, if you please, Sir,' returned Rob, who, in doing so, had acted on
his patron's own instructions,  but dared  not justify himself  by the least
insinuation to that effect.
     'Well!' said Mr Carker. 'You know me, boy?'
     'Please, Sir, yes, Sir,' returned Rob, tumbling with his hat, and still
fixed by Mr Carker's eye, and fruitlessly endeavouring to unfix himself.
     Mr Carker nodded. 'Take care, then!'
     Rob expressed in  a number of  short  bows his lively understanding  of
this caution, and was bowing  himself back to the door,  greatly relieved by
the prospect of getting on the outside of it, when his patron stopped him.
     'Halloa!' he cried, calling him roughly back.  'You  have  been -  shut
that door.'
     Rob obeyed as if his life had depended on his alacrity.
     'You have been used to eaves-dropping. Do you know what that means?'
     'Listening, Sir?' Rob hazarded, after some embarrassed reflection.
     His patron nodded. 'And watching, and so forth.'
     'I wouldn't do such a thing here, Sir,' answered Rob; 'upon my word and
honour, I wouldn't, Sir, I wish I may die if I would, Sir, for anything that
could be promised  to me. I  should consider  it is as much as all the world
was worth, to offer to do such a thing, unless I was ordered, Sir.'
     'You  had  better  not'  You  have  been  used,  too, to  babbling  and
tattling,' said  his patron with perfect coolness.  'Beware of that here, or
you're a lost rascal,' and he smiled again, and again cautioned him with his
forefinger.
     The Grinder's breath came short and thick with consternation.  He tried
to protest the purity of his intentions, but could only stare at the smiling
gentleman in a stupor of submission, with which the smiling gentleman seemed
well enough  satisfied, for  he  ordered him downstairs, after observing him
for some moments in silence, and gave him to understand that he was retained
in his employment. This was the manner of Rob the Grinder's engagement by Mr
Carker, and his awe-stricken devotion to that gentleman had strengthened and
increased, if possible, with every minute of his service.
     It was a service of some months'  duration, when early one morning, Rob
opened the  garden gate to  Mr Dombey,  who was  come to breakfast  with his
master, by appointment. At the same moment his master himself came, hurrying
forth  to receive the distinguished guest, and give him welcome with all his
teeth.
     'I never thought,' said Carker, when he had assisted him to alight from
his horse, 'to see you here, I'm  sure. This  is  an extraordinary day in my
calendar. No  occasion  is very  special  to  a  man like  you,  who may  do
anything; but to a man like me, the case is widely different.
     'You have a tasteful place here, Carker,' said Mr Dombey, condescending
to stop upon the lawn, to look about him.
     'You can afford to say so,' returned Carker. 'Thank you.'
     'Indeed,' said Mr Dombey, in his lofty patronage, 'anyone might say so.
As  far as it goes, it is a  very commodious and well-arranged place - quite
elegant.'
     'As  far  as  it  goes,  truly,'  returned  Carker,  with  an  air   of
disparagement' 'It wants that qualification. Well! we have said enough about
it;  and though you  can afford to  praise it, I thank you nonetheless. Will
you walk in?'
     Mr  Dombey,  entering  the house, noticed,  as he had reason to do, the
complete arrangement of the rooms, and the numerous contrivances for comfort
and effect that abounded  there.  Mr Carker, in his ostentation of humility,
received this notice with a  deferential  smile, and said he understood  its
delicate  meaning, and  appreciated  it, but in  truth the cottage was  good
enough for one in  his position  - better,  perhaps, than such a man  should
occupy, poor as it was.
     'But perhaps to you, who are so far removed, it really does look better
than it is,' he said, with his false mouth distended to its fullest stretch.
'Just as monarchs imagine attractions in the lives of beggars.'
     He directed a sharp glance and a sharp smile at  Mr Dombey as he spoke,
and  a  sharper  glance, and  a sharper smile yet, when  Mr  Dombey, drawing
himself up before the fire, in the attitude so often copied by his second in
command,  looked round at  the pictures on the walls. Cursorily as his  cold
eye  wandered over them, Carker's keen glance accompanied his, and kept pace
with  his, marking exactly where  it went,  and what it saw. As it rested on
one  picture in  particular, Carker hardly seemed to  breathe, his  sidelong
scrutiny was so cat-like and vigilant, but the eye of his great chief passed
from  that, as from the others, and appeared no more impressed by it than by
the rest.
     Carker looked at it -  it  was the picture that resembled Edith - as if
it were a living thing; and with a wicked, silent laugh upon  his face, that
seemed in  part addressed to it, though it was all derisive of the great man
standing  so unconscious beside him. Breakfast  was soon set upon the table;
and, inviting Mr Dombey  to a chair which had its back towards this picture,
he took his own seat opposite to it as usual.
     Mr Dombey was  even graver than  it was his  custom to  be,  and  quite
silent. The parrot,  swinging  in the gilded  hoop  within  her  gaudy cage,
attempted in  vain to attract notice,  for  Carker was too observant  of his
visitor to  heed  her;  and  the visitor, abstracted  in meditation,  looked
fixedly, not to say sullenly, over  his stiff neckcloth, without raising his
eyes from  the table-cloth.  As  to  Rob, who  was in  attendance,  all  his
faculties and energies were so locked up in observation of his  master, that
he scarcely ventured to give shelter to the thought that the visitor was the
great gentleman  before  whom  he had been  carried as a  certificate of the
family health, in  his childhood, and to whom he  had been indebted  for his
leather smalls.
     'Allow me,' said Carker suddenly, 'to ask how Mrs Dombey is?'
     He  leaned forward obsequiously, as he made the inquiry,  with his chin
resting on his hand; and at  the same time  his eyes went up to the picture,
as if he said to it, 'Now, see, how I will lead him on!'
     Mr Dombey reddened as he answered:
     'Mrs Dombey is quite well.  You remind me, Carker, of some conversation
that I wish to have with you.'
     'Robin, you  can leave us,' said his master,  at whose mild tones Robin
started and disappeared, with his eyes fixed on his patron to the last. 'You
don't remember that boy, of course?' he added, when the enmeshed Grinder was
gone.
     'No,' said Mr Dombey, with magnificent indifference.
     'Not  likely  that  a man like  you would. Hardly  possible,'  murmured
Carker. 'But he is  one of that  family from whom you  took a nurse. Perhaps
you may remember having generously charged yourself with his education?'
     'Is it that boy?' said Mr Dombey, with a frown. 'He does little  credit
to his education, I believe.'
     'Why,  he is a young rip, I am afraid,' returned Carker,  with a shrug.
'He bears  that character.  But  the truth  is, I took him  into my  service
because,  being able  to get no  other employment, he  conceived  (had  been
taught at home, I daresay) that he had some sort of claim upon you, and  was
constantly  trying to  dog your heels  with his petition.  And  although  my
defined and recognised  connexion with your affairs is merely  of a business
character, still I have that spontaneous interest in everything belonging to
you, that - '
     He stopped again, as if to  discover whether he had led  Mr Dombey  far
enough yet. And again, with  his chin resting  on his hand, he leered at the
picture.
     'Carker,' said Mr Dombey, 'I am sensible that you do not limit your - '
     'Service,' suggested his smiling entertainer.
     'No; I prefer to  say  your regard,' observed Mr Dombey; very sensible,
as he said so, that he was paying him a handsome and flattering  compliment,
'to our mere business relations. Your consideration for my feelings,  hopes,
and disappointments, in the little instance you have just now mentioned,  is
an example in point. I I am obliged to you, Carker.'
     Mr Carker bent his head slowly, and very softly rubbed his hands, as if
he were  afraid  by any  action  to  disturb  the  current  of  Mr  Dombey's
confidence.
     'Your allusion to  it is opportune,'  said  Mr Dombey,  after  a little
hesitation; 'for it prepares the  way to what I was beginning to say to you,
and  reminds me that that  involves no absolutely new relations between  us,
although it  may involve  more personal  confidence on my  part than  I have
hitherto - '
     'Distinguished  me  with,' suggested Carker, bending his head again: 'I
will not say to you how honoured  I  am; for a man  like you well knows  how
much honour he has in his power to bestow at pleasure.'
     'Mrs  Dombey and myself,' said  Mr Dombey, passing this compliment with
august self-denial, 'are not quite agreed upon some points. We do not appear
to understand each other yet' Mrs Dombey has something to learn.'
     'Mrs Dombey  is distinguished  by  many  rare attractions; and has been
accustomed, no doubt, to  receive  much adulation,'  said the smooth,  sleek
watcher of his slightest look and tone. 'But where there is affection, duty,
and respect,  any  little  mistakes engendered by such causes  are soon  set
right.'
     Mr  Dombey's  thoughts  instinctively flew  back to  the face that  had
looked  at him  in  his wife's  dressing-room  when  an imperious  hand  was
stretched  towards  the  door;  and  remembering  the affection,  duty,  and
respect, expressed  in it, he felt the blood  rush to his own face quite  as
plainly as the watchful eyes upon him saw it there.
     'Mrs  Dombey  and myself,' he went  on to  say,  'had some  discussion,
before Mrs Skewton's death, upon  the causes of my dissatisfaction; of which
you will have  formed a general understanding from having been  a witness of
what passed between Mrs Dombey  and myself on  the evening when you  were at
our - at my house.'
     'When  I so much  regretted being present,'  said the  smiling  Carker.
'Proud as a man in my position nay must be  of your familiar notice - though
I give you no credit for it;  you may do anything you  please without losing
caste - and honoured as I was by an early presentation to Mrs Dombey, before
she was made eminent by bearing your name, I almost regretted that  night, I
assure you, that I had been the object of such especial good fortune'
     That any man could, under any possible circumstances, regret  the being
distinguished  by his condescension  and patronage,  was a  moral phenomenon
which  Mr Dombey  could  not  comprehend.  He  therefore  responded, with  a
considerable accession of dignity. 'Indeed! And why, Carker?'
     'I fear,' returned the confidential agent, 'that Mrs Dombey, never very
much  disposed to  regard me with  favourable interest  - one in my position
could not expect that, from a lady naturally proud,  and whose pride becomes
her so well -  may not easily forgive my innocent part in that conversation.
Your displeasure  is no light matter, you must remember;  and  to be visited
with it before a third party -
     'Carker,' said Mr Dombey, arrogantly; 'I  presume that I am  the  first
consideration?'
     'Oh!  Can  there  be  a  doubt about it?' replied  the other, with  the
impatience of a man admitting a notorious and incontrovertible fact'
     'Mrs  Dombey  becomes a  secondary  consideration, when we are  both in
question, I imagine,' said Mr Dombey. 'Is that so?'
     'Is it so?'  returned Carker. 'Do you know better than anyone, that you
have no need to ask?'
     'Then  I  hope,  Carker,' said Mr  Dombey,  'that  your regret  in  the
acquisition of  Mrs  Dombey's displeasure,  may be almost counterbalanced by
your satisfaction in retaining my confidence and good opinion.'
     'I  have the misfortune,  I  find,' returned  Carker, 'to have incurred
that displeasure. Mrs Dombey has expressed it to you?'
     'Mrs Dombey has  expressed  various opinions,'  said  Mr  Dombey,  with
majestic  coldness  and indifference, 'in  which  I do not  participate, and
which  I  am not  inclined to discuss,  or to  recall.  I made  Mr's  Dombey
acquainted, some time since, as I have already told you, with certain points
of domestic deference and submission on which I felt it necessary to insist.
I  failed  to  convince Mrs  Dombey of  the  expediency of  her  immediately
altering  her conduct in  those respects, with  a view to her own peace  and
welfare, and  my dignity; and I informed Mrs Dombey that if I should find it
necessary to object or remonstrate again, I should express my opinion to her
through yourself, my confidential agent.'
     Blended with the look that Carker bent upon him, was a devilish look at
the picture over his head, that struck upon it like a flash of lightning.
     'Now, Carker,' said Mr Dombey, 'I do not hesitate  to say to you that I
will carry my point. I am not to be trifled with. Mrs Dombey must understand
that my will is law, and  that  I cannot allow of one exception to the whole
rule of my life. You will have the goodness to undertake this charge, which,
coming from  me, is not unacceptable to you, I hope, whatever regret you may
politely  profess  - for  which I am obliged to you on behalf of Mrs Dombey;
and you  will have the goodness, I am persuaded, to discharge  it as exactly
as any other commission.'
     'You know,' said Mr Carker, 'that you have only to command me.
     'I know,' said Mr Dombey, with a majestic indication of assent, 'that I
have only to command you. It is necessary that I should proceed in this. Mrs
Dombey is a lady undoubtedly highly qualified, in many respects, to -
     'To do credit even to your  choice,'  suggested  Carker, with a yawning
show of teeth.
     'Yes;  if  you please to adopt that form of words,' said  Mr Dombey, in
his tone of state;  'and  at present I do not conceive that Mrs Dombey  does
that  credit to  it, to  which  it is  entitled.  There  is  a  principle of
opposition in Mrs Dombey that must be eradicated; that must be overcome: Mrs
Dombey does not  appear to understand,' said Mr Dombey, forcibly, 'that  the
idea of opposition to Me is monstrous and absurd.'
     'We, in  the  City, know you better,' replied Carker, with a smile from
ear to ear.
     'You know me better,' said Mr Dombey. 'I hope so.  Though, indeed, I am
bound to do Mrs Dombey the  justice of saying, however  inconsistent  it may
seem  with her  subsequent  conduct  (which remains  unchanged), that on  my
expressing  my disapprobation and determination to her, with some  severity,
on the occasion  to which I have referred, my admonition appeared to produce
a  very powerful effect.'  Mr Dombey  delivered himself  of those words with
most  portentous stateliness. 'I wish you  to have  the  goodness,  then, to
inform  Mrs  Dombey,  Carker,  from  me,  that  I  must  recall  our  former
conversation  to her remembrance, in some  surprise that it has not  yet had
its  effect.  That  I  must insist  upon  her regulating  her conduct by the
injunctions laid upon her in that conversation. That I am not satisfied with
her conduct.  That  I am greatly dissatisfied with it. And  that I  shall be
under the very disagreeable necessity of making  you the bearer  of yet more
unwelcome and explicit communications, if she has not the good sense and the
proper feeling to adapt herself  to my wishes, as the first Mrs  Dombey did,
and, I believe I may add, as any other lady in her place would.'
     'The first Mrs Dombey lived very happily,' said Carker.
     'The  first  Mrs Dombey  had great  good sense,'  said Mr Dombey,  in a
gentlemanly toleration of the dead, 'and very correct feeling.'
     'Is Miss Dombey like her mother, do you think?' said Carker.
     Swiftly  and darkly, Mr  Dombey's  face changed. His confidential agent
eyed it keenly.
     'I  have approached a painful  subject,'  he said, in a soft  regretful
tone of voice, irreconcilable with his eager eye. 'Pray forgive me. I forget
these chains of association in the interest I have. Pray forgive me.'
     But for  all he said,  his eager eye scanned Mr Dombey's downcast  face
none the less closely;  and then  it shot a  strange triumphant look  at the
picture,  as appealing  to  it to bear witness how he  led him on again, and
what was coming.
     Carker,' said  Mr  Dombey, looking here  and there upon  the table, and
saying in a somewhat altered  and more hurried voice, and  with a paler lip,
'there is no occasion  for apology. You mistake. The association is with the
matter in hand, and not with  any  recollection,  as you suppose.  I  do not
approve of Mrs Dombey's behaviour towards my daughter.'
     'Pardon me,' said Mr Carker, 'I don't quite understand.'
     'Understand then,' returned Mr Dombey, 'that you may  make that  - that
you will  make  that, if you please -  matter of direct objection from me to
Mrs  Dombey. You will please  to tell  her  that her show of devotion for my
daughter is disagreeable to me. It is likely to be noticed. It is  likely to
induce people  to contrast Mrs Dombey in her  relation towards my  daughter,
with Mrs Dombey in her relation towards myself.  You will have the  goodness
to let Mrs Dombey know,  plainly, that I object to it; and that I expect her
to defer, immediately, to my objection. Mrs Dombey may be in earnest, or she
may be pursuing a whim, or she may be opposing me; but I object to it in any
case,  and in  every  case. If Mrs  Dombey  is in earnest,  so much the less
reluctant should she be to desist; for she will not serve my daughter by any
such display.  If my wife  has any superfluous gentleness, and duty over and
above her proper submission  to me,  she may  bestow them where she pleases,
perhaps;  but  I will have submission first!  -  Carker,'  said  Mr  Dombey,
checking the unusual  emotion with which he had  spoken,  and falling into a
tone more like that in which he was accustomed to assert his greatness, 'you
will have the goodness not to omit or slur this point,  but to consider it a
very important part of your instructions.'
     Mr  Carker bowed  his  head,  and  rising from  the table, and standing
thoughtfully  before the fire, with his hand to his smooth chin, looked down
at Mr Dombey with the evil slyness of some  monkish  carving, half human and
half  brute;  or like  a  leering  face  on an old water-spout.  Mr  Dombey,
recovering his composure by  degrees, or cooling his emotion in his sense of
having taken a high position, sat gradually stiffening again, and looking at
the parrot as she swung to and fro, in her great wedding ring.
     'I beg your pardon,'  said Carker, after  a silence, suddenly  resuming
his chair,  and drawing it opposite to Mr Dombey's, 'but  let me understand.
Mrs Dombey is aware of the probability of your making me the organ  of  your
displeasure?'
     'Yes,' replied Mr Dombey. 'I have said so.'
     'Yes,' rejoined Carker, quickly; 'but why?'
     'Why!' Mr Dombey repeated,  not  without  hesitation. 'Because  I  told
her.'
     'Ay,' replied Carker. 'But why did you tell her? You see,' he continued
with a smile,  and  softly laying his  velvet hand, as a cat might have laid
its sheathed claws,  on Mr Dombey's arm;  'if I perfectly understand what is
in  your mind,  I  am so much  more  likely to  be  useful, and  to have the
happiness of being effectually employed. I think I do understand. I have not
the honour of Mrs Dombey's good opinion. In my position, I have no reason to
expect it; but I take the fact to be, that I have not got it?'
     'Possibly not,' said Mr Dombey.
     'Consequently,' pursued  Carker, 'your making the communications to Mrs
Dombey through me, is sure to be particularly unpalatable to that lady?'
     'It  appears to me,' said Mr Dombey, with haughty reserve, and yet with
some  embarrassment, 'that  Mrs Dombey's views upon the subject form no part
of it as it presents itself to you and me, Carker. But it may be so.'
     'And - pardon me -  do I  misconceive you,' said Carker,  'when I think
you descry in this, a  likely  means  of humbling Mrs Dombey's pride - I use
the word as expressive  of  a quality which,  kept within due bounds, adorns
and graces a lady so distinguished for her beauty and accomplishments - and,
not to say of punishing her,  but of reducing her  to  the submission you so
naturally and justly require?'
     'I am not accustomed, Carker, as you know,'  said Mr  Dombey, 'to  give
such close reasons for any course of  conduct I think proper to adopt, but I
will gainsay nothing of this. If you have  any  objection to found  upon it,
that is indeed another thing, and the mere statement that you  have one will
be sufficient. But  I have not supposed,  I  confess, that any confidence  I
could entrust to you, would be likely to degrade you - '
     'Oh! I degraded!' exclaimed Carker. 'In your service!'
     'or to place you,' pursued Mr Dombey, 'in a false position.'
     'I  in  a  false  position!' exclaimed  Carker. 'I  shall  be  proud  -
delighted - to execute your trust. I could have wished, I own, to have given
the lady at whose feet  I would lay my humble duty and devotion - for is she
not your wife! - no new cause of dislike; but a wish from you is, of course,
paramount to every other consideration on earth. Besides, when Mrs Dombey is
converted from  these little errors of judgment, incidental, I would presume
to say, to the novelty of her situation, I shall hope that she will perceive
in the slight part I  take, only a grain - my  removed  and different sphere
gives room for  little  more - of the  respect for you, and sacrifice of all
considerations  to you,  of which it will  be her  pleasure and privilege to
garner up a great store every day.'
     Mr  Dombey seemed,  at  the  moment,  again to see  her  with her  hand
stretched out towards the door, and again to hear through the mild speech of
his  confidential agent an echo of the words,  'Nothing can make us stranger
to  each other than we are henceforth!' But he shook  off the fancy, and did
not shake in his resolution, and said, 'Certainly, no doubt.'
     'There is nothing more,' quoth Carker, drawing his chair  back  to  its
old place -  for they had taken little breakfast as yet-  and pausing for an
answer before he sat down.
     'Nothing,'  said  Mr  Dombey,  'but  this. You will be  good  enough to
observe, Carker, that no message  to Mrs Dombey with which you are or may be
charged, admits of reply. You will be good enough to bring me no reply.  Mrs
Dombey is informed that it does not become me to temporise or treat upon any
matter that is at issue between us, and that what I say is final.'
     Mr Carker signIfied his understanding  of  these  credentials, and they
fell to breakfast with what  appetite  they might. The Grinder  also, in due
time  reappeared,  keeping  his  eyes upon  his  master without  a  moment's
respite, and passing the  time in  a reverie of worshipful tenor.  Breakfast
concluded, Mr Dombey's  horse  was ordered out again, and Mr Carker mounting
his own, they rode off for the City together.
     Mr Carker was in  capital spirits,  and talked much. Mr Dombey received
his conversation with  the  sovereign air of a man  who had  a  right  to be
talked to, and occasionally condescended to throw in a few words to carry on
the conversation. So they rode on characteristically  enough. But Mr Dombey,
in his dignity,  rode with  very long stirrups, and a very  loose  rein, and
very rarely deigned to look down to see where his horse went. In consequence
of which  it happened  that  Mr Dombey's horse, while going at a round trot,
stumbled on  some loose stones, threw him, rolled  over him, and lashing out
with his iron-shod feet, in his struggles to get up, kicked him.
     Mr Carker, quick of eye,  steady of  hand,  and  a good  horseman,  was
afoot, and  had the struggling  animal upon his legs and by the bridle, in a
moment.  Otherwise  that morning's confidence would have  been  Mr  Dombey's
last. Yet even with the flush and hurry of this action red upon him, he bent
over  his prostrate  chief with every  tooth  disclosed, and  muttered as he
stooped down, 'I have given good cause  of offence to Mrs Dombey now, if she
knew it!'
     Mr Dombey being insensible,  and bleeding from the  head and  face, was
carried  by  certain menders of  the road,  under Carker's direction, to the
nearest public-house, which was not far  off, and where he was soon attended
by divers surgeons,  who arrived in quick succession from all parts, and who
seemed  to come by  some mysterious instinct, as vultures are said to gather
about a camel who  dies in the desert. After being at some pains to  restore
him to consciousness,  these  gentlemen  examined into  the  nature  of  his
injuries.
     One surgeon who lived hard by was strong for a compound fracture of the
leg, which  was the landlord's opinion also; but two surgeons who lived at a
distance, and  were only in that neighbourhood  by  accident,  combated this
opinion so  disinterestedly, that it was  decided at last  that the patient,
though severely cut and bruised, had broken no bones but a lesser rib or so,
and might be  carefully  taken home before night. His injuries being dressed
and bandaged, which was  a long operation, and he at length left  to repose,
Mr Carker mounted  his horse again, and rode  away to carry the intelligence
home.
     Crafty and cruel as his face was at the best of times, though it was  a
sufficiently fair face as to form and  regularity of  feature, it was at its
worst when he set forth on this errand; animated by the craft and cruelty of
thoughts within him, suggestions of remote possibility rather than of design
or plot, that made him  ride as if he hunted men  and women. Drawing rein at
length, and slackening in his speed, as he came into the  more public roads,
he checked his  white-legged horse  into picking his way along as usual, and
hid himself beneath his sleek, hushed, crouched manner, and his ivory smile,
as he best could.
     He rode direct  to Mr Dombey's house,  alighted at the door, and begged
to see Mrs Dombey on an affair of importance. The servant who showed  him to
Mr Dombey's own room, soon returned to say that it was not Mrs Dombey's hour
for receiving visitors, and that he begged pardon for  not having  mentioned
it before.
     Mr Carker, who was quite prepared for  a cold  reception, wrote upon  a
card that he must take the liberty of pressing for an interview, and that he
would not be so bold as to do so,  for the second time (this he underlined),
if  he  were  not  equally sure  of  the occasion  being sufficient  for his
justification.  After  a trifling  delay, Mrs Dombey's  maid  appeared,  and
conducted him to  a morning room  upstairs, where  Edith and  Florence  were
together.
     He had never thought Edith half so beautiful before. Much as he admired
the  graces  of  her face and form, and  freshly  as  they dwelt  within his
sensual remembrance, he had never thought her half so beautiful.
     Her glance fell  haughtily  upon  him in the doorway; but  he looked at
Florence - though only in the  act of bending his head, as he came in - with
some irrepressible  expression  of  the new power  he  held; and it was  his
triumph to see the glance  droop and falter, and to see that Edith half rose
up to receive him.
     He  was very sorry,  he was  deeply grieved;  he couldn't say with what
unwillingness  he came to prepare  her for the intelligence of a very slight
accident. He entreated Mrs Dombey to  compose  herself. Upon his sacred word
of honour, there was no cause of alarm. But Mr Dombey -
     Florence uttered a  sudden cry.  He did not  look at her, but at Edith.
Edith composed and reassured her. She uttered no cry of distress. No, no.
     Mr  Dombey had met  with an accident in riding. His horse had  slipped,
and he had been thrown.
     Florence wildly exclaimed that he was badly hurt; that he was killed!
     No. Upon  his  honour,  Mr  Dombey, though  stunned at first, was  soon
recovered, and though certainly hurt was in no  kind of danger. If this were
not the truth, he, the distressed intruder, never could have had the courage
to present himself before Mrs Dombey. It  was the truth  indeed, he solemnly
assured her.
     All this he said as  if he were answering  Edith, and not Florence, and
with his eyes and his smile fastened on Edith.
     He  then went on to tell her where Mr Dombey was lying, and  to request
that a carriage might be placed at his disposal to bring him home.
     'Mama,' faltered Florence in tears, 'if I might venture to go!'
     Mr Carker, having his eyes on Edith when he heard these words, gave her
a  secret  look  and slightly shook  his head.  He saw how she  battled with
herself before  she answered  him with her handsome eyes, but he wrested the
answer from  her  - he  showed her that  he would have  it, or that he would
speak and cut Florence  to the  heart  -  and she gave  it to him. As he had
looked at the picture in  the morning, so  he looked at her afterwards, when
she turned her eyes away.
     'I  am directed to  request,'  he said, 'that the new housekeeper - Mrs
Pipchin, I think, is the name - '
     Nothing escaped him. He saw in an instant, that she  was another slight
of Mr Dombey's on his wife.
     ' -  may be informed that Mr Dombey  wishes to have his bed prepared in
his  own apartments downstairs,  as he prefers those rooms  to any other.  I
shall return to Mr Dombey almost  immediately. That every possible attention
has been paid to his  comfort, and that he  is the  object of every possible
solicitude,  I need not assure  you,  Madam.  Let me  again say, there is no
cause for the least alarm. Even you may be quite at ease, believe me.'
     He bowed  himself  out,  with  his  extremest  show  of  deference  and
conciliation; and having returned to  Mr  Dombey's room,  and there arranged
for a carriage being  sent after him  to the City,  mounted his horse again,
and rode slowly thither. He was very thoughtful  as he went along,  and very
thoughtful there, and very thoughtful in the carriage on his way back to the
place where  Mr Dombey  had  been left.  It  was  only when sitting by  that
gentleman's  couch  that he was  quite  himself  again, and conscious of his
teeth.
     About the time of twilight,  Mr Dombey, grievously afflicted with aches
and pains, was helped into his carriage, and propped with cloaks and pillows
on one side of it,  while his  confidential agent  bore him company upon the
other. As he  was not to be shaken, they moved at  little more  than  a foot
pace;  and hence it  was quite dark  when he was brought home. Mrs  Pipchin,
bitter   and  grim,  and  not  oblivious  of  the  Peruvian  mines,  as  the
establishment in general had good reason to know, received  him at the door,
and  freshened  the  domestics  with  several  little  sprinklings  of wordy
vinegar,  while they  assisted  in conveying  him  to  his  room. Mr  Carker
remained in attendance until he was safe in bed, and then, as he declined to
receive any  female visitor, but the  excellent Ogress who presided over his
household,  waited  on Mrs Dombey  once more,  with his report on her lord's
condition.
     He again found  Edith alone with Florence,  and he again addressed  the
whole  of  his  soothing speech to  Edith, as  if  she were  a  prey to  the
liveliest  and  most  affectionate  anxieties.  So earnest  he  was  in  his
respectful sympathy,  that  on  taking leave,  he  ventured -  with one more
glance towards Florence at  the moment - to take her hand, and  bending over
it, to touch it with his lips.
     Edith did not withdraw the hand, nor did  she strike his fair face with
it, despite the flush upon her cheek, the bright light in her eyes,  and the
dilation of  her whole form. But when she  was  alone in her  own room,  she
struck it on the marble chimney-shelf, so that, at one blow, it was bruised,
and bled; and held it from her, near the shining fire, as if she could  have
thrust it in and burned it'
     Far  into the  night she sat  alone, by the sinking blaze, in dark  and
threatening beauty, watching the murky  shadows looming on the  wall,  as if
her thoughts were tangible, and cast  them there. Whatever shapes of outrage
and  affront,  and  black  foreshadowings  of   things  that  might  happen,
flickered,  indistinct  and  giant-like, before  her,  one  resented  figure
marshalled them against her. And that figure was her husband.


     The Watches of the Night

     Florence, long  since awakened  from her dream, mournfully observed the
estrangement  between her father and Edith,  and saw it widen more and more,
and  knew that  there was greater  bitterness between  them  every day. Each
day's added  knowledge deepened the shade  upon her love and hope, roused up
the old sorrow  that had slumbered for  a  little  time, and  made  it  even
heavier to bear than it had been before.
     It had been hard - how hard  may none but Florence ever know! - to have
the natural affection of a  true and earnest  nature  turned to  agony;  and
slight, or stern repulse, substituted for the tenderest  protection and  the
dearest  care. It had been hard to feel in her deep heart what she had felt,
and never know the happiness of one touch of response. But it was much  more
hard to be compelled  to doubt  either  her father or Edith, so affectionate
and dear to her, and  to think of her love for each  of them, by turns, with
fear, distrust, and wonder.
     Yet Florence now began to do so; and the doing of it was a task imposed
upon her by the very purity of her soul, as one she  could not fly from. She
saw her father  cold and obdurate to  Edith,  as  to  her; hard, inflexible,
unyielding. Could it be, she asked herself with starting tears, that her own
dear mother had been made unhappy by such treatment, and had  pined away and
died?  Then she would think how proud and stately Edith was to  everyone but
her, with  what disdain she  treated him, how distantly  she kept apart from
him, and what she had said on the night when they came home; and  quickly it
would come on Florence, almost as a crime, that she loved one who was set in
opposition to her father, and that her father knowing of  it, must think  of
her in his solitary room as the unnatural child who  added this wrong to the
old fault, so much wept for, of never having won his fatherly affection from
her birth. The next kind word from Edith,  the next kind glance, would shake
these thoughts again, and make them seem like black ingratitude; for who but
she had cheered the drooping heart of  Florence, so lonely and  so hurt, and
been  its best of  comforters! Thus, with her gentle nature yearning to them
both, feeling for the misery of both, and whispering  doubts of her own duty
to both, Florence in her wider and expanded love,  and by the side of Edith,
endured  more than  when  she  had  hoarded up  her undivided secret  in the
mournful house, and her beautiful Mama had never dawned upon it.
     One exquisite unhappiness that would have far outweighed this, Florence
was spared.  She never had the least suspicion  that Edith by her tenderness
for her  widened the separation from her  father,  or gave him new cause  of
dislike. If  Florence had conceived the possIbility of such an effect  being
wrought  by such a cause, what grief she would have felt, what sacrifice she
would have  tried to  make, poor loving  girl,  how fast and sure her  quiet
passage might have been beneath it to the presence of that higher Father who
does not reject his children's love, or spurn their tried and broken hearts,
Heaven knows! But it was otherwise, and that was well.
     No  word  was  ever  spoken  between Florence  and Edith now, on  these
subjects. Edith  had said there  ought  to be between them,  in that wise, a
division  and  a silence like  the grave  itself: and Florence felt  she was
right'
     In this state of  affairs her  father was brought  home, suffering  and
disabled; and  gloomily  retired to his own rooms, where he  was  tended  by
servants, not approached  by Edith,  and had no  friend or companion  but Mr
Carker, who withdrew near midnight.
     'And nice company  he  is, Miss Floy,'  said Susan Nipper. 'Oh,  he's a
precious piece of goods! If ever he wants a character don't let him  come to
me whatever he does, that's all I tell him.'
     'Dear Susan,' urged Florence, 'don't!'
     'Oh, it's very  well  to  say "don't" Miss Floy,' returned  the Nipper,
much exasperated; 'but raly begging  your pardon we're coming to such passes
that it turns all the  blood in  a person's body into pins and needles, with
their  pints all ways.  Don't  mistake me, Miss Floy,  I don't mean  nothing
again your ma-in-law who has always treated me as  a lady should though  she
is rather  high  I must  say not that I  have any  right  to object  to that
particular,  but when we come to  Mrs Pipchinses and having them put over us
and keeping guard  at  your Pa's door like crocodiles (only make us thankful
that they lay no eggs!) we are a growing too outrageous!'
     'Papa thinks well of Mrs Pipchin, Susan,' returned Florence, 'and has a
right to choose his housekeeper, you know. Pray don't!'
     'Well Miss Floy,' returned the Nipper, 'when you say don't, I  never do
I  hope but  Mrs  Pipchin acts like  early  gooseberries upon  me Miss,  and
nothing less.'
     Susan  was  unusually  emphatic  and destitute of  punctuation  in  her
discourse  on this night, which was the night of  Mr  Dombey's being brought
home, because, having been sent downstairs by Florence to inquire after him,
she had been obliged to deliver her message to her mortal enemy Mrs Pipchin;
who, without carrying it in to  Mr Dombey, had taken upon herself  to return
what Miss  Nipper  called a huffish answer, on her own responsibility. This,
Susan  Nipper  construed  into presumption  on the  part of  that  exemplary
sufferer by  the Peruvian mines, and a deed of disparagement upon  her young
lady,  that  was  not  to be forgiven;  and so  far her  emphatic  state was
special.  But she had been in a condition of greatly increased suspicion and
distrust, ever since the marriage; for,  like most persons of her quality of
mind, who  form  a strong  and sincere attachment to  one in  the  different
station which  Florence occupied, Susan was  very  jealous, and her jealousy
naturally attached to Edith, who divided  her  old empire, and  came between
them. Proud  and  glad as Susan Nipper  truly was, that  her  young mistress
should be advanced towards her proper place in the scene of her old neglect,
and that  she should  have her father's handsome wife for  her companion and
protectress,  she  could not relinquish any  part of her own dominion to the
handsome  wife, without a grudge  and a vague feeling of ill-will, for which
she  did  not  fail  to  find  a disinterested  justification  in  her sharp
perception of  the  pride  and  passion  of  the lady's character.  From the
background  to  which  she  had  necessarily  retired  somewhat,  since  the
marriage, Miss Nipper looked  on, therefore, at domestic affairs in general,
with  a  resolute  conviction that no good would come of  Mrs Dombey: always
being  very  careful to  publish  on all  possible occasions,  that  she had
nothing to say against her.
     'Susan,' said  Florence, who was sitting thoughtfully at her table, 'it
is very late. I shall want nothing more to-night.'
     'Ah, Miss Floy!' returned the Nipper, 'I'm sure I  often wish for  them
old  times when  I sat  up with you  hours later than this  and  fell asleep
through being  tired out  when  you  was as  broad awake as spectacles,  but
you've ma's-in-law to come and  sit with you now Miss Floy and I'm  thankful
for it I'm sure. I've not a word to say against 'em.'
     'I shall not forget who was my old companion when  I  had none, Susan,'
returned  Florence, gently, 'never!'  And looking up, she put  her arm round
the neck of her humble friend, drew her face down to  hers, and  bidding her
good-night,  kissed  it;  which so  mollified Miss Nipper,  that  she fell a
sobbing.
     'Now my dear Miss Floy, said Susan, 'let me go downstairs again and see
how  your Pa is, I know you're wretched  about him, do let  me go downstairs
again and knock at his door my own self.'
     'No,' said Florence, 'go to bed. We shall hear  more in the  morning. I
will inquire myself in the morning. Mama has been down, I daresay;' Florence
blushed, for she had no such hope; 'or is there now, perhaps. Good-night!'
     Susan was  too much softened to express  her  private  opinion  on  the
probability of Mrs Dombey's being in attendance on her husband, and silently
withdrew. Florence left alone, soon hid her head upon her  hands  as she had
often done in  other days, and did not restrain the tears from coursing down
her face. The misery of this domestic discord and unhappiness; the  withered
hope she cherished now,  if hope it could  be called, of ever being taken to
her father's  heart;  her doubts and fears between the two;  the yearning of
her innocent breast to both; the heavy disappointment and regret of such  an
end as this, to  what had  been a vision of bright hope and  promise to her;
all crowded on  her mind and made her tears  flow fast.  Her mother and  her
brother  dead,  her father  unmoved towards her,  Edith opposed to  him  and
casting him away,  but loving her,  and loved by her,  it seemed as  if  her
affection  could  never prosper, rest where it would. That weak thought  was
soon hushed,  but  the thoughts  in which  it  had arisen were  too true and
strong to be dismissed with it; and they made the night desolate.
     Among such  reflections there rose up, as there  had  risen up all day,
the  image of her  father,  wounded and in  pain,  alone  in  his own  room,
untended by those who should  be nearest to him, and passing the tardy hours
in lonely suffering. A frightened thought which made her start and clasp her
hands  - though  it was not a new one  in her mind - that he might  die, and
never  see her  or  pronounce  her  name, thrilled her whole  frame. In  her
agitation she thought, and trembled while she thought, of once more stealing
downstairs, and venturing to his door.
     She listened at her  own. The house was  quiet, and all the lights were
out. It was  a  long, long  time,  she thought, since  she used  to make her
nightly pilgrimages  to his  door! It was  a long, long  time, she tried  to
think, since she had entered  his room at midnight, and he had led  her back
to the stair-foot!
     With  the same  child's heart  within  her,  as of old: even  with  the
child's  sweet  timid eyes and clustering hair: Florence, as  strange to her
father in  her  early maiden bloom, as in her nursery  time, crept  down the
staircase listening  as she  went, and  drew near to his room.  No  one  was
stirring in the house. The door was partly open to admit air; and all was so
still  within, that  she could hear the  burning of  the fire, and count the
ticking of the clock that stood upon the chimney-piece.
     She looked in.  In that room, the  housekeeper wrapped in a blanket was
fast asleep in an easy chair  before the fire. The doors between  it and the
next were partly closed, and a screen was drawn before them; but there was a
light there, and it shone upon the cornice of his bed. All was so very still
that she  could  hear from  his breathing that he  was asleep. This gave her
courage to pass round the screen, and look into his chamber.
     It was as great a start to come  upon his sleeping face as  if she  had
not  expected to  see it. Florence stood arrested on the spot, and if he had
awakened then, must have remained there.
     There was a cut  upon his forehead, and they had been wetting his hair,
which lay bedabbled  and entangled  on the pillow. One of his arms,  resting
outside  the  bed,  was bandaged up, and he was  very white. But it  was not
this, that after the first quick glance, and first assurance of his sleeping
quietly, held Florence rooted to the ground. It was something very different
from this, and more than this, that made him look so solemn in her eye
     She had never seen his face in all her life, but there had been upon it
- or she  fancied so  - some disturbing  consciousness of her. She had never
seen his face in all her life, but hope had sunk  within her, and her  timid
glance had dropped before its stern,  unloving, and repelling  harshness. As
she looked upon it now, she saw it, for the  first time, free from the cloud
that  had darkened  her childhood. Calm,  tranquil night was reigning in its
stead. He might  have gone  to sleep,  for anything she saw  there, blessing
her.
     Awake, unkind father! Awake, now,  sullen man! The time is flitting by;
the hour is coming with an angry tread. Awake!
     There was no change upon his face; and as she watched  it, awfully, its
motionless reponse recalled  the  faces that  were gone.  So they looked, so
would  he;  so she, his weeping child, who should say when! so all the world
of love and hatred and indifference around them! When that time should come,
it  would not be  the heavier to him, for this that she was going to do; and
it might fall something lighter upon her.
     She stole close to the bed,  and drawing  in her breath, bent down, and
softly kissed him on the face, and laid her own for one  brief moment by its
side, and put the  arm, with  which she dared not touch him, round about him
on the pillow.
     Awake, doomed man, while she is near! The time is flitting by; the hour
is coming with an angry tread; its foot is in the house. Awake!
     In her  mind, she prayed to God to bless her father, and to  soften him
towards her, if it might be so; and if not, to forgive him if he was  wrong,
and pardon her the prayer which almost seemed  impiety. And  doing  so,  and
looking back at him with blinded eyes, and stealing timidly away, passed out
of his room, and crossed the other, and was gone.
     He may sleep on now. He may sleep on while he may. But let him look for
that slight  figure when he wakes, and  find  it near him  when the  hour is
come!
     Sad and grieving  was the heart of Florence, as she crept upstairs. The
quiet house had grown  more  dismal  since  she came down. The sleep she had
been looking on, in the dead of night, had the solemnity to her of death and
life in  one. The secrecy  and  silence of her own proceeding made the night
secret, silent, and oppressive.  She felt unwilling, almost unable, to go on
to her  own chamber; and turnIng into the  drawing-rooms, where  the clouded
moon was shining through the blinds, looked out into the empty streets.
     The wind was blowing  drearily. The lamps looked  pale, and shook as if
they were cold. There was a distant glimmer of something that  was not quite
darkness,  rather  than of  light,  in  the  sky;  and foreboding  night was
shivering  and restless, as the dying are who make a troubled  end. Florence
remembered how, as a watcher, by a sick-bed, she had noted  this bleak time,
and felt  its influence, as  if in some hidden natural antipathy to  it; and
now it was very, very gloomy.
     Her Mama  had not come to her room that night, which  was  one cause of
her  having sat late out of her bed. In her general uneasiness, no less than
in her ardent longing to have somebody  to speak  to, and to break the spell
of gloom and silence, Florence directed her steps towards the  chamber where
she slept.
     The  door  was  not  fastened  within,  and  yielded  smoothly  to  her
hesitating  hand. She  was  surprised to find a bright light burning;  still
more  surprised,  on  looking  in,  to  see  that  her  Mama,  but partially
undressed, was sitting near  the ashes of the fire,  which had  crumbled and
dropped away. Her eyes were intently bent upon  the air; and in their light,
and in her face, and in her  form,  and in the grasp with which she held the
elbows of her  chair as  if  about  to start  up, Florence  saw such  fierce
emotion that it terrified her.
     'Mama!' she cried, 'what is the matter?'
     Edith  started; looking at her with such  a  strange dread in her face,
that Florence was more frightened than before.
     'Mama!' said Florence, hurriedly advancing.  'Dear  Mama! what  is  the
matter?'
     'I have  not been well,' said Edith, shaking, and still  looking at her
in the same strange way. 'I have had had dreams, my love.'
     'And not yet been to bed, Mama?'
     'No,' she returned. 'Half-waking dreams.'
     Her features gradually softened; and suffering Florence  to come closer
to her, within her embrace, she said  in a tender manner, 'But  what does my
bird do here? What does my bird do here?'
     'I have been  uneasy,  Mama, in  not  seeing you  to-night,  and in not
knowing how Papa was; and I - '
     Florence stopped there, and said no more.
     'Is it late?' asked Edith, fondly  putting back the curls that  mingled
with her own dark hair, and strayed upon her face.
     'Very late. Near day.'
     'Near day!' she repeated in surprise.
     'Dear Mama, what have you done to your hand?' said Florence.
     Edith drew it suddenly away, and, for a moment, looked at her  with the
same strange dread (there was a sort of wild avoidance in it) as before; but
she  presently said,  'Nothing,  nothing.  A  blow.' And  then she said, 'My
Florence!' and then her bosom heaved, and she was weeping passionately.
     'Mama!' said Florence. 'Oh Mama, what  can  I do, what should I  do, to
make us happier? Is there anything?'
     'Nothing,' she replied.
     'Are you sure of that? Can it never be? If I speak now of what is in my
thoughts,  in spite  of what we  have agreed,' said Florence,  'you will not
blame me, will you?'
     'It is useless,' she replied, 'useless. I  have told you,  dear, that I
have had bad dreams. Nothing can change them, or prevent them coming back.'
     'I do not understand,' said Florence, gazing on her agitated face which
seemed to darken as she looked.
     'I  have dreamed,' said  Edith in a low voice, 'of a  pride that is all
powerless  for good, all powerful for evil;  of a pride that has been galled
and goaded, through many shameful years, and has never recoiled except  upon
itself;  a pride that has debased its  owner  with the consciousness of deep
humiliation, and never helped its owner boldly to resent it or  avoid it, or
to  say,  "This  shall not be!" a pride that, rightly guided, might have led
perhaps to better things, but  which,  misdirected  and perverted,  like all
else belonging to the same possessor, has been self-contempt, mere hardihood
and ruin.'
     She neither looked  nor  spoke to Florence now, but went on  as  if she
were alone.
     'I  have dreamed,' she  said, 'of  such indifference  and  callousness,
arising  from  this  self-contempt;  this  wretched, inefficient,  miserable
pride; that it  has gone on with listless  steps even to the altar, yielding
to the old,  familiar, beckoning finger, -  oh mother, oh mother! - while it
spurned it; and willing to be hateful to itself for once and for all, rather
than to be stung daily in some new form. Mean, poor thing!'
     And  now with gathering and darkening  emotion, she  looked as  she had
looked when Florence entered.
     'And I have dreamed,' she said, 'that in a first late effort to achieve
a purpose,  it has been  trodden  on, and trodden down by  a base  foot, but
turns and looks upon him. I have dreamed  that it is  wounded,  hunted,  set
upon by  dogs, but that it stands at hay,  and will not yield;  no,  that it
cannot if it would; but that it is urged on to hate
     Her clenched hand tightened on the trembling  arm she had in hers,  and
as she looked  down on  the alarmed and  wondering face, frown subsided. 'Oh
Florence!' she said, 'I think  I have been nearly mad to-night!' and humbled
her proud head upon her neck and wept again.
     'Don't leave me! be near me! I have no hope but in you! These words she
said a score of times.
     Soon  she grew calmer, and was full of pity  for the tears of Florence,
and for  her  waking at such untimely hours.  And  the day now dawning, with
folded her in her arms and laid  her down  upon her bed, and, not lying down
herself, sat by her, and bade her try to sleep.
     'For you are weary, dearest, and unhappy, and should rest.'
     'I am indeed unhappy, dear Mama, tonight,' said  Florence. 'But you are
weary and unhappy, too.'
     'Not when you lie asleep so near me, sweet.'
     They  kissed each other,  and Florence, worn out, gradually fell into a
gentle slumber; but as her eyes closed on the face beside her, it was so sad
to think  upon the face downstairs, that her  hand  drew closer to Edith for
some comfort; yet, even in the act, it faltered, lest it should be deserting
him. So, in her sleep, she tried  to reconcile the two together, and to show
them that she loved them both, but could not do it, and her waking grief was
part of her dreams.
     Edith,  sitting by, looked down at the  dark eyelashes lying wet on the
flushed cheeks, and looked with gentleness and pity, for she knew the truth.
But  no sleep  hung  upon her own eyes.  As  the day came  on she  still sat
watching and waking, with the placid hand in hers, and  sometimes whispered,
as  she looked at the hushed face, 'Be near me, Florence. I have no hope but
in you!'


     A Separation

     With the day, though not so early as the sun, uprose Miss Susan Nipper.
There was a heaviness  in this young maiden's  exceedingly sharp black eyes,
that abated somewhat of their sparkling, and suggested - which was not their
usual character -  the possibility of their being sometimes  shut. There was
likewise a  swollen look about them, as if they had  been crying over-night.
But the Nipper, so far from being cast down, was singularly brisk and  bold,
and all her energies appeared to be braced  up for some great feat. This was
noticeable even in her dress, which was much more tight and trim than usual;
and in occasional twitches of  her head as she  went about  the house, which
were mightily expressive of determination.
     In a word,  she had  formed a  determination, and an  aspiring  one: it
being nothing less than this  - to  penetrate  to Mr Dombey's  presence, and
have  speech of  that  gentleman alone.  'I have often  said I  would,'  she
remarked,  in  a  threatening  manner, to  herself, that morning,  with many
twitches of her head, 'and now I will!'
     Spurring  herself on  to  the accomplishment of this desperate  design,
with a sharpness that was peculiar to herself, Susan Nipper haunted the hall
and  staircase  during  the  whole forenoon, without  finding  a  favourable
opportunity for the assault. Not at all  baffled by this discomfiture, which
indeed had a stimulating effect, and put her on  her mettle,  she diminished
nothing of her vigilance; and  at last discovered, towards evening, that her
sworn foe Mrs Pipchin, under pretence of having sat up all night, was dozing
in her own room, and that Mr Dombey was lying on his sofa, unattended.
     With a  twitch - not of her  head merely,  this  time, but of her whole
self  - the  Nipper  went on tiptoe to Mr  Dombey's door, and knocked. 'Come
in!' said Mr Dombey. Susan encouraged herself with a  final twitch, and went
in.
     Mr Dombey, who was eyeing the fire, gave an amazed look at his visitor,
and raised himself a little on his arm. The Nipper dropped a curtsey.
     'What do you want?' said Mr Dombey.
     'If you please, Sir, I wish to speak to you,' said Susan.
     Mr Dombey  moved  his lips as if he were repeating  the words,  but  he
seemed so lost in astonishment at the presumption of  the young woman  as to
be incapable of giving them utterance.
     'I have been  in your service, Sir,' said Susan  Nipper, with her usual
rapidity, 'now twelve  'year  a waiting  on  Miss Floy my own young lady who
couldn't speak plain when I first come here and I was old in this house when
Mrs  Richards was new, I may  not be  Meethosalem, but  I am  not a child in
arms.'
     Mr Dombey, raised upon his  arm and looking  at her, offered no comment
on this preparatory statement of fact.
     'There  never was a dearer or a blesseder young lady than is  my  young
lady, Sir,' said Susan, 'and  I  ought to know a great deal better than some
for I have seen her in her grief and I have seen her in her joy (there's not
been much of it) and I have seen her with her brother and I have seen her in
her loneliness and some have never seen her, and  I  say to some and all - I
do!' and here the black-eyed shook her head, and slightly stamped her  foot;
'that she's the blessedest and dearest angel is Miss Floy that ever drew the
breath of life, the  more that I was  torn to pieces Sir the more I'd say it
though I may not be a Fox's Martyr..'
     Mr Dombey turned yet paler than his fall had made him, with indignation
and astonishment; and kept  his eyes upon the speaker as if he accused them,
and his ears too, of playing him false.
     'No one  could  be anything but true  and faithful to  Miss Floy, Sir,'
pursued Susan,  'and I take no merit  for my  service of twelve year,  for I
love her - yes, I say to some and all I do!' - and here the black-eyed shook
her head again, and slightly stamped her foot again, and checked a sob; 'but
true and  faithful service  gives me right to speak I hope, and speak I must
and will now, right or wrong.
     'What do you mean, woman?' said Mr Dombey,  glaring at her. 'How do you
dare?'
     'What I mean, Sir, is to speak respectful and without offence, but out,
and how I dare I know not but I do!'said Susan. 'Oh! you don't know my young
lady Sir you don't indeed, you'd never know so little of her, if you did.'
     Mr Dombey, in a fury, put his hand out for the bell-rope; but there was
no bell-rope  on that side of the  fire,  and he could not rise and cross to
the  other  without assistance. The  quick eye of  the  Nipper  detected his
helplessness immediately, and now, as she afterwards observed, she felt  she
had got him.
     'Miss Floy,' said Susan Nipper, 'is the most devoted and  most  patient
and  most dutiful and beautiful  of daughters, there ain't no gentleman,  no
Sir, though as great and rich as all the greatest and richest of England put
together, but might be  proud of  her and  would and  ought. If he  knew her
value right, he'd rather lose his greatness  and his fortune piece by  piece
and beg his way in rags from door to door, I say to some and all, he would!'
cried  Susan  Nipper,  bursting into tears,  'than bring the sorrow  on  her
tender heart that I have seen it suffer in this house!'
     'Woman,' cried Mr Dombey, 'leave the room.
     'Begging  your pardon, not even  if  I am to leave the situation, Sir,'
replied the steadfast  Nipper, 'in which I have been  so many years and seen
so much  -  although I hope you'd never  have the heart to send me from Miss
Floy  for such a  cause - will I go now till I have said the rest, I may not
be a Indian widow Sir and I am not and I would  not so become but if I  once
made up my mind to burn myself alive, I'd do it! And I've made my mind up to
go on.'
     Which was rendered no  less clear by  the expression of Susan  Nipper's
countenance, than by her words.
     'There  ain't a  person in your service, Sir,' pursued the  black-eyed,
'that has always stood more in awe of you than me and you may think how true
it is when I make so bold as say that I have  hundreds and hundreds of times
thought of speaking to you and never been able to make my mind up to it till
last night, but last night decided of me.'
     Mr Dombey, in a paroxysm  of rage, made another grasp  at the bell-rope
that  was  not  there, and,  in its  absence,  pulled  his hair rather  than
nothing.
     'I have  seen,' said Susan Nipper,  'Miss Floy strive and  strive  when
nothing but a child so sweet and  patient that the best of  women might have
copied from  her,  I've  seen her  sitting  nights  together  half the night
through to  help  her delicate  brother  with  his learning,  I've seen  her
helping him  and watching  him at  other times - some well know when  - I've
seen  her, with no encouragement  and no help,  grow up to  be a lady, thank
God!  that is the  grace and pride of every company she  goes  in,  and I've
always seen her cruelly neglected and keenly feeling of it  - I say to  some
and all, I have!  - and never said one  word, but  ordering one's self lowly
and reverently towards one's betters, is  not  to  be a worshipper of graven
images, and I will and must speak!'
     'Is there  anybody there?' cried Mr Dombey, calling out. 'Where are the
men? where are the women? Is there no one there?'
     'I left  my  dear young lady out of bed  late last night,'  said Susan,
nothing checked, 'and  I knew why, for you was ill Sir and she  didn't  know
how ill and that was enough to make her wretched  as I saw it did. I may not
be  a  Peacock; but I have my eyes  - and  I sat up a little in  my own room
thinking she  might  be lonesome and might  want me,  and  I  saw her  steal
downstairs and come to this door as if it was a guilty  thing to look at her
own Pa,  and then steal back again and  go  into them lonely  drawing-rooms,
a-crying  so, that I could hardly  bear to hear  it. I can not bear  to hear
it,' said Susan  Nipper, wiping her black eyes, and fixing them undauntingly
on Mr  Dombey's infuriated face. 'It's not the first time  I have  heard it,
not by many and many a time you don't know your own daughter, Sir, you don't
know what you're doing,  Sir, I say to some and all,' cried Susan Nipper, in
a final burst, 'that it's a sinful shame!'
     'Why,  hoity  toity!' cried the  voice of  Mrs  Pipchin, as  the  black
bombazeen garments of that  fair Peruvian Miner swept into the room. 'What's
this, indeed?'
     Susan favoured  Mrs Pipchin with a look she  had invented expressly for
her when they first became acquainted, and resigned the reply to Mr Dombey.
     'What's this?' repeated Mr Dombey, almost foaming. 'What's this, Madam?
You who  are at the head of this household,  and bound to keep  it in order,
have reason to inquire. Do you know this woman?'
     'I know very  little  good of her, Sir,' croaked Mrs Pipchin. 'How dare
you come here, you hussy? Go along with you!'
     But the inflexible  Nipper,  merely honouring Mrs  Pipchin with another
look, remained.
     'Do you call it managing this  establishment, Madam,'  said Mr  Dombey,
'to leave a  person like this at liberty to come and talk to me! A gentleman
-  in  his own house - in his own room - assailed with  the impertinences of
women-servants!'
     'Well, Sir,' returned Mrs Pipchin, with vengeance in her hard grey eye,
'I exceedingly deplore it;  nothing can  be  more irregular; nothing  can be
more out of all bounds and reason; but I regret to say, Sir, that this young
woman is quite  beyond control. She  has been spoiled by Miss Dombey, and is
amenable to  nobody. You know  you're  not,' said  Mrs Pipchin, sharply, and
shaking her head at Susan Nipper. 'For shame, you hussy! Go along with you!'
     'If you find people  in my  service  who are  not to be controlled, Mrs
Pipchin,' said Mr  Dombey, turning back towards the  fire, 'you know what to
do with them, I presume. You know what you are here for? Take her away!'
     'Sir, I know what to do,' retorted Mrs Pipchin, 'and of course shall do
it'  Susan Nipper,'  snapping her up particularly short,  'a month's warning
from this hour.'
     'Oh indeed!' cried Susan, loftily.
     'Yes,' returned Mrs Pipchin, 'and  don't smile at me, you minx, or I'll
know the reason why! Go along with you this minute!'
     'I  intend to go this minute, you may  rely upon  it,' said the voluble
Nipper. 'I have been in this house waiting on my young lady a dozen year and
I won't stop in it one hour under notice from a person owning to the name of
Pipchin trust me, Mrs P.'
     'A  good riddance  of  bad rubbish!' said  that wrathful old lady. 'Get
along with you, or I'll have you carried out!'
     'My  comfort is,' said Susan, looking back at Mr  Dombey, 'that I  have
told a piece of truth this day which ought to have been told long before and
can't be told too  often or too plain  and that no amount  of Pipchinses - I
hope the number of 'em mayn't be  great' (here Mrs  Pipchin  uttered a  very
sharp 'Go  along with you!' and Miss  Nipper repeated  the  look) 'can unsay
what I have said, though they gave a whole year full  of  warnings beginning
at ten o'clock in  the forenoon  and  never leaving off till twelve at night
and died of the exhaustion which would be a Jubilee!'
     With  these words, Miss  Nipper  preceded her foe out of the  room; and
walking upstairs to  her  own  apartments  in great state,  to  the  choking
exasperation of  the  ireful Pipchin, sat down among her boxes and began  to
cry.
     From  this soft mood she  was soon  aroused,  with a very wholesome and
refreshing effect, by the voice of Mrs Pipchin outside the door.
     'Does that bold-faced slut,' said the fell Pipchin, 'intend to take her
warning, or does she not?'
     Miss  Nipper replied from within  that  the  person described  did  not
inhabit  that  part of the house, but that her name was Pipchin, and she was
to be found in the housekeeper's room.
     'You  saucy baggage!' retorted Mrs Pipchin,  rattling at  the handle of
the door. 'Go along with you this minute. Pack up your things directly!  How
dare you talk in this way to a gentle-woman who has seen better days?'
     To  which  Miss Nipper rejoined  from  her castle, that she  pitied the
better days that had seen Mrs Pipchin; and that for her part she  considered
the worst  days  in the year to  be about that lady's mark, except that they
were much too good for her.
     'But  you  needn't trouble yourself to make a noise  at my  door,' said
Susan Nipper, 'nor to contaminate the key-hole with your eye, I'm packing up
and going you may take your affidavit.'
     The Dowager expressed her lively satisfaction at this intelligence, and
with some general opinions upon young hussies as a race, and especially upon
their demerits after being spoiled  by Miss Dombey, withdrew to prepare  the
Nipper~s wages. Susan then bestirred  herself  to get  her  trunks in order,
that  she might take an immediate and dignified departure;  sobbing heartily
all the time, as she thought of Florence.
     The object of her regret was not long in  coming  to  her, for the news
soon spread over the house that  Susan Nipper had had a disturbance with Mrs
Pipchin,  and that they  had both appealed to Mr Dombey,  and that there had
been an unprecedented piece of work in Mr  Dombey's room, and that Susan was
going. The latter part  of this confused rumour,  Florence  found  to be  so
correct,  that Susan had locked the  last trunk and was sitting upon it with
her bonnet on, when she came into her room.
     'Susan!' cried Florence. 'Going to leave me! You!'
     'Oh for goodness gracious sake, Miss Floy,' said Susan, sobbing, 'don't
speak a word to me  or I shall demean myself before them'  Pipchinses, and I
wouldn't have 'em see me cry Miss Floy for worlds!'
     'Susan!' said Florence. 'My dear girl,  my  old friend! What shall I do
without you! Can you bear to go away so?'
     'No-n-o-o, my darling  dear Miss Floy, I can't indeed,'  sobbed  Susan.
'But it can't be helped,  I've  done my duty' Miss, I  have  indeed. It's no
fault  of mine.  I am quite resigned. I couldn't  stay my  month or  I could
never leave  you then my darling  and I  must at last  as well as at  first,
don't speak  to  me  Miss Floy, for though I'm  pretty firm I'm not a marble
doorpost, my own dear.'
     'What is it? Why is it?' said Florence, 'Won't you tell me?' For  Susan
was shaking her head.
     'No-n-no,  my  darling,' returned Susan. 'Don't ask me,  for I mustn't,
and whatever you  do don't put in a word  for me to stop, for it couldn't be
and you'd only wrong  yourself,  and  so God bless  you my  own precious and
forgive me any harm I have  done, or any temper  I have showed in  all these
many years!'
     With which entreaty, very heartily delivered, Susan hugged her mistress
in her arms.
     'My  darling there's a many that may  come to serve you and be glad  to
serve you and who'll  serve you well and true,' said Susan, 'but there can't
be one who'll serve you so affectionate as me  or  love you  half as dearly,
that's my comfort' Good-bye, sweet Miss Floy!'
     'Where will you go, Susan?' asked her weeping mistress.
     'I've got a brother down in the country Miss  - a farmer in  Essex said
the  heart-broken Nipper, 'that keeps ever so  many co-o-ows and pigs  and I
shall go down there by the coach and sto-op with him, and don't mind me, for
I've  got  money in  the  Savings  Banks my dear,  and needn't take  another
service  just yet, which I  couldn't, couldn't, couldn't  do, my heart's own
mistress!' Susan  finished  with  a  burst of sorrow, which was  opportunely
broken by the voice of Mrs Pipchin talking downstairs; on hearing which, she
dried  her  red and  swollen eyes, and made  a melancholy feint  of  calling
jauntily to Mr Towlinson to fetch a cab and carry down her boxes.
     Florence, pale and hurried and  distressed, but  withheld from  useless
interference even here, by her dread of causing any new division between her
father and his wife (whose stern, indignant face had been a warning to her a
few  moments  since),  and  by  her  apprehension  of  being   in  some  way
unconsciously connected  already  with  the dismissal of her old servant and
friend,  followed,  weeping,  downstairs to  Edith's dressing-room,  whither
Susan betook herself to make her parting curtsey.
     'Now,  here's  the  cab, and here's the boxes, get along with you, do!'
said Mrs Pipchin, presenting herself at the same moment. 'I beg your pardon,
Ma'am, but Mr Dombey's orders are imperative.'
     Edith,  sitting  under the hands of  her maid -  she was  going out  to
dinner - preserved her haughty face, and took not the least notice.
     'There's your money,' said Mrs Pipchin, who in pursuance of her system,
and in recollection of the Mines, was accustomed to rout the servants about,
as  she   had  routed  her  young  Brighton  boarders;  to  the  everlasting
acidulation of Master Bitherstone, 'and the sooner this house sees your back
the better.
     Susan had no spirits even for  the look that  belonged to Ma Pipchin by
right; so  she  dropped  her curtsey to Mrs  Dombey  (who  inclined her head
without one word, and whose eye avoided everyone but Florence), and gave one
last parting hug  to her young mistress, and received her parting embrace in
return.  Poor Susan's face at this crisis, in  the intensity of her feelings
and the  determined suffocation of her sobs, lest  one should become audible
and  be  a  triumph  to  Mrs  Pipchin,  presented  a  series  of   the  most
extraordinary physiognomical phenomena ever witnessed.
     'I beg your pardon, Miss, I'm sure,'  said Towlinson, outside the  door
with the  boxes,  addressing Florence, 'but Mr Toots is in the drawing-room,
and sends his compliments, and begs to know how Diogenes and Master is.'
     Quick as thought, Florence glided out and hastened downstairs, where Mr
Toots,  in the most  splendid vestments, was breathing very hard  with doubt
and agitation on the subject of her coming.
     'Oh, how de do, Miss Dombey,' said Mr Toots, 'God bless my soul!'
     This last ejaculation was occasioned by Mr  Toots's deep concern at the
distress he saw in Florence's  face; which caused him to stop short in a fit
of chuckles, and become an image of despair.
     'Dear  Mr Toots,'  said Florence, 'you are so friendly  to  me, and  so
honest, that I am sure I may ask a favour of you.
     'Miss Dombey,' returned Mr Toots, 'if  you'll only name  one, you'll  -
you'll  give me  an appetite. To which,' said Mr Toots, with some sentiment,
'I have long been a stranger.
     'Susan, who is an old friend of  mine, the oldest friend I  have,' said
Florence, 'is about to leave here suddenly, and quite alone,  poor girl. She
is going home, a little way into the country. Might I ask you to  take  care
of her until she is in the coach?'
     'Miss Dombey,'  returned  Mr Toots, 'you really do me an honour  and  a
kindness.  This proof  of your  confidence, after  the manner in which I was
Beast enough to conduct myself at Brighton - '
     'Yes,' said Florence, hurriedly - 'no - don't think of that. Then would
you have the kindness to - to go? and to be ready to meet her when she comes
out? Thank you a thousand times! You ease my mind so much.  She doesn't seem
so desolate. You  cannot think how grateful I  feel to you, or  what  a good
friend I am sure you are!' and Florence in her earnestness thanked him again
and again; and Mr  Toots, in his earnestness, hurried away -  but backwards,
that he might lose no glimpse of her.
     Florence  had not the courage to go out, when she saw poor Susan in the
hall, with Mrs Pipchin driving her forth,  and  Diogenes  jumping about her,
and  terrifying Mrs Pipchin to  the  last degree  by  making  snaps  at  her
bombazeen skirts, and howling with anguish at  the sound of her voice -  for
the good duenna  was the dearest and most cherished aversion of  his breast.
But she saw Susan shake hands with the servants all round,  and turn once to
look at her old home; and she saw Diogenes bound out after the cab, and want
to follow  it,  and testify an impossibility of conviction  that he  had  no
longer any  property in the fare; and the door was shut, and the hurry over,
and her tears flowed fast for  the loss of an old friend, whom no one  could
replace. No one. No one.
     Mr Toots, like the leal and trusty soul he was,  stopped the  cabriolet
in a twinkling, and told Susan Nipper of  his commission, at which she cried
more than before.
     'Upon my soul and body!' said Mr Toots, taking  his seat beside her. 'I
feel for you. Upon my word and honour  I think you  can hardly know your own
feelings  better than I imagine them. I  can  conceive nothing more dreadful
than to have to leave Miss Dombey.'
     Susan abandoned herself to her grief now, and it really was touching to
see her.
     'I say,' said Mr Toots, 'now, don't! at least I mean now do, you know!'
     'Do what, Mr Toots!' cried Susan.
     'Why, come home to my  place, and  have some  dinner before you start,'
said  Mr  Toots.  'My cook's  a most respectable woman  -  one  of  the most
motherly  people  I  ever  saw  -  and  she'll  be  delighted  to  make  you
comfortable. Her son,' said Mr Toots, as an additional  recommendation, 'was
educated in the Bluecoat School,' and blown up in a powder-mill.'
     Susan  accepting  this kind  offer,  Mr  Toots  conducted  her  to  his
dwelling, where  they were received  by  the  Matron in  question who  fully
justified his character of her, and by the Chicken who at first supposed, on
seeing a  lady in the vehicle, that Mr Dombey had  been  doubled up, ably to
his old recommendation, and Miss Dombey abducted. This gentleman awakened in
Miss Nipper some considerable astonishment; for, having been defeated by the
Larkey  Boy, his visage  was in a state of such great dilapidation, as to be
hardly  presentable in society with  comfort  to the beholders.  The Chicken
himself  attributed this punishment to his having had the  misfortune to get
into Chancery  early  in the proceedings, when he was severely fibbed by the
Larkey  one, and heavily grassed. But it appeared from the published records
of that  great  contest that the  Larkey Boy had had it all his own way from
the  beginning, and  that the Chicken had  been  tapped, and bunged, and had
received pepper, and  had been made groggy, and had come  up piping, and had
endured a complication of similar strange inconveniences, until  he had been
gone into and finished.
     After  a  good  repast,  and  much  hospitality, Susan  set out for the
coach-office in another cabriolet, with Mr Toots inside, as  before, and the
Chicken on the  box, who, whatever  distinction  he conferred on  the little
party by  the  moral  weight  and heroism of  his  character,  was  scarcely
ornamental to  it,  physically speaking,  on account  of his plasters; which
were numerous.  But the Chicken  had  registered a vow,  in  secret, that he
would never leave Mr Toots  (who was secretly pining to get rid of him), for
any less consideration than the  good-will and fixtures of  a  public-house;
and being ambitious to go into that line, and drink himself to death as soon
as possible, he felt it his cue to make his company unacceptable.
     The  night-coach  by  which  Susan  was  to go, was  on  the  point  of
departure.  Mr  Toots  having  put  her  inside,  lingered  by  the  window,
irresolutely,  until the driver  was about to  mount; when, standing  on the
step, and  putting in  a  face that by the light of the lamp was anxious and
confused, he said abruptly:
     'I say, Susan! Miss Dombey, you know - '
     'Yes, Sir.'
     'Do you think she could - you know - eh?'
     'I beg your pardon, Mr Toots,' said Susan, 'but I don't hear you.
     'Do you think she could be brought, you know - not exactly at once, but
in  time - in  a long time - to - to love me, you know? There!' said poor Mr
Toots.
     'Oh  dear  no!' returned Susan, shaking her head. 'I should say, never.
Never!'
     'Thank'ee!' said Mr Toots. 'It's of no consequence. Good-night. It's of
no consequence, thank'ee!'


     The Trusty Agent

     Edith  went out alone that day, and  returned  home early. It was but a
few minutes after ten o'clock,  when her carriage rolled along the street in
which she lived.
     There was the same enforced composure on  her face, that there had been
when  she was dressing; and the wreath upon her head encircled the same cold
and  steady brow. But  it would have been better to have seen its leaves and
flowers reft into fragments by her passionate hand, or rendered shapeless by
the   fitful  searches  of  a   throbbing  and  bewildered  brain  for   any
resting-place,  than   adorning   such   tranquillity.   So   obdurate,   so
unapproachable,  so  unrelenting, one  would have thought that nothing could
soften such a woman's nature, and that everything in life had hardened it.
     Arrived  at  her own  door, she  was alighting,  when some  one  coming
quietly from the hall, and standing bareheaded,  offered  her  his  arm. The
servant being thrust aside, she had no choice but to touch it;  and she then
knew whose arm it was.
     'How is your patient, Sir?' she asked, with a curled lip.
     'He is  better,' returned Carker. 'He is doing very  well.  I have left
him for the night.'
     She  bent her head,  and was passing up the staircase, when he followed
and said, speaking at the bottom:
     'Madam! May I beg the favour of a minute's audience?'
     She stopped and turned her  eyes back 'It is an unseasonable time, Sir,
and I am fatigued. Is your business urgent?'
     'It is very urgent, returned Carker. 'As  I  am so fortunate as to have
met you, let me press my petition.'
     She looked down for a moment at his glistening mouth;  and he looked up
at her, standing  above him  in her stately  dress, and thought,  again, how
beautiful she was.
     'Where is Miss Dombey?' she asked the servant, aloud.
     'In the morning room, Ma'am.'
     'Show the way there!' Turning her eyes again on the attentive gentleman
at the bottom of  the  stairs, and informing him with a slight motion of her
head, that he was at liberty to follow, she passed on.
     'I  beg your pardon!  Madam! Mrs  Dombey!' cried  the  soft and  nimble
Carker,  at her  side in  a moment. 'May I be permitted to entreat that Miss
Dombey is not present?'
     She  confronted   him,  with   a   quick  look,   but  with   the  same
self-possession and steadiness.
     'I  would  spare  Miss Dombey,'  said  Carker,  in a  low  voice,  'the
knowledge of what I have to say. At least, Madam, I would leave it to you to
decide whether  she shall  know of it or  not. I owe  that to  you. It is my
bounden duty to you. After our former interview, it would be monstrous in me
if I did otherwise.'
     She slowly withdrew her eyes from his face, and turning to the servant,
said, 'Some other room.' He led the way to a drawing-room, which he speedily
lighted up and then left them.  While  he remained,  not a word  was spoken.
Edith enthroned herself  upon a  couch  by the fire; and Mr Carker, with his
hat in his hand and his eyes bent upon the carpet, stood before her, at some
little distance.
     'Before I hear you, Sir,' said Edith, when the door was closed, 'I wish
you to hear me.'
     'To  be addressed by  Mrs  Dombey,'  he returned, 'even in  accents  of
unmerited reproach, is an honour  I so greatly esteem,  that although I were
not her servant in all things, I should defer to such a wish, most readily.'
     'If you are charged by the man  whom  you have just now  left, Sir;' Mr
Carker raised his eyes, as if he were going to counterfeit surprise, but she
met them, and stopped him, if such  were his intention; 'with any message to
me, do not attempt to deliver it, for I will not receive it. I need scarcely
ask you if you are come on such an errand. I have expected you some time.
     'It is my misfortune,' he replied, 'to be here, wholly against my will,
for such a purpose. Allow me to say that I am here for two purposes. That is
one.'
     'That one, Sir,' she returned, 'is ended. Or, if you return to it - '
     'Can  Mrs  Dombey believe,'  said Carker, coming nearer, 'that  I would
return to it in the face of her prohibition? Is it possible that Mrs Dombey,
having no regard to my unfortunate position, is so determined to consider me
inseparable from my instructor as to do me great and wilful injustice?'
     'Sir,'  returned Edith,  bending  her  dark  gaze full  upon  him,  and
speaking with a  rising passion that  inflated  her  proud  nostril and  her
swelling  neck, and  stirred the delicate white down  upon a robe she  wore,
thrown loosely over shoulders that could  hear its snowy neighbourhood. 'Why
do you present yourself to me, as you have done, and speak to me of love and
duty to my husband, and pretend to think that I am happily married, and that
I honour  him? How dare you venture  so to affront me, when you know - I  do
not know better, Sir: I  have seen it in your every glance, and heard  it in
your every word - that in place of affection between us  there  is  aversion
and contempt, and  that I  despise him hardly less than I despise myself for
being his! Injustice! If I had done justice to the  torment you have made me
feel, and  to my sense  of the insult you have  put upon  me, I should  have
slain you!'
     She  had  asked  him why he  did  this. Had she not been blinded by her
pride and wrath, and self-humiliation, - which she was, fiercely as she bent
her gaze upon  him, -  she would have seen  the answer in his face. To bring
her to this declaration.
     She saw it not, and cared not whether it  was there or no. She saw only
the indignities and struggles she had undergone and had to undergo,  and was
writhing under them. As she sat looking fixedly at them, rather than at him,
she plucked the  feathers  from a pinion of  some  rare and  beautiful bird,
which hung from her  wrist  by a golden thread, to serve  her as a  fan, and
rained them on the ground.
     He did not shrink beneath her gaze, but stood, until such outward signs
of her anger as had escaped her control subsided,  with the air of a man who
had his sufficient reply in reserve and would presently deliver  it. And  he
then spoke, looking straight into her kindling eyes.
     'Madam,' he said, 'I know, and knew before to-day, that I have found no
favour with  you; and I knew why. Yes. I knew why. You have spoken so openly
to me; I am so relieved by the possession of your confidence - '
     'Confidence!' she repeated, with disdain.
     He passed it over.
     ' - that I  will make no pretence  of concealment. I did  see  from the
first, that there was no affection on your part for Mr Dombey - how could it
possibly exist between such different subjects? And I have seen, since, that
stronger feelings  than  indifference have  been engendered in your breast -
how could that  possibly be  otherwise,  either, circumstanced as  you  have
been? But was it for me to presume to  avow this knowledge to you in so many
words?'
     'Was  it for you, Sir,' she replied, 'to  feign that other  belief, and
audaciously to thrust it on me day by day?'
     'Madam, it was,' he eagerly retorted.  'If I had done  less,  if  I had
done  anything but that, I should not be speaking to you thus; and I foresaw
- who  could better foresee, for who has had greater experience of Mr Dombey
than myself? - that unless your character should prove to be as yielding and
obedient as that of his first submissive lady, which I did not believe - '
     A haughty smile gave him reason to observe that he might repeat this.
     'I say, which I did not believe, -  the time was likely  to come,  when
such an understanding as we have now arrived at, would be serviceable.'
     'Serviceable to whom, Sir?' she demanded scornfully.
     'To you. I will not add  to  myself, as warning me to refrain even from
that limited commendation  of Mr Dombey, in which I can honestly indulge, in
order  that I may not have the misfortune of saying anything distasteful  to
one whose aversion and contempt,' with great expression, 'are so keen.'
     'Is  it honest in you, Sir,' said  Edith, 'to confess to your  "limited
commendation,"  and to  speak  in that tone of  disparagement, even  of him:
being his chief counsellor and flatterer!'
     'Counsellor,  -  yes,'  said  Carker.   'Flatterer,  -   no.  A  little
reservation  I  fear  I must confess to. But  our interest  and  convenience
commonly oblige many of us to make professions that we cannot  feel. We have
partnerships  of  interest  and  convenience,  friendships  of  interest and
convenience, dealings of interest and convenience, marriages of interest and
convenience, every day.'
     She  bit her blood-red  lip; but  without wavering in  the  dark, stern
watch she kept upon him.
     'Madam,' said Mr  Carker, sitting down in a  chair  that was  near her,
with an air of the most profound and most considerate respect, 'why should I
hesitate now, being altogether devoted to your service, to speak plainly? It
was natural that  a lady,  endowed as  you are,  should think it feasible to
change her husband's character in some respects, and mould  him to  a better
form.'
     'It  was  not  natural  to me, Sir,'  she  rejoined.  'I had never  any
expectation or intention of that kind.'
     The proud undaunted face showed him it was resolute  to wear no mask he
offered,  but was  set upon a reckless disclosure of itself,  indifferent to
any aspect in which it might present itself to such as he.
     'At  least it was natural,' he resumed, 'that  you should deem it quite
possible to live with Mr Dombey as his  wife, at once  without submitting to
him,  and  without coming into such violent collision  with him. But, Madam,
you did not know Mr Dombey (as you have since ascertained), when you thought
that. You did not know how exacting and how proud he  is, or how he is, if I
may  say  so,  the slave of  his own  greatness,  and goes yoked  to his own
triumphal car like a beast  of burden, with  no idea on earth but that it is
behind him and is to be drawn on, over everything and through everything.'
     His teeth  gleamed through  his malicious relish of this conceit, as he
went on talking:
     'Mr Dombey is  really capable of no  more  true consideration  for you,
Madam, than for me. The comparison is an extreme  one; I intend it to be so;
but quite just.  Mr Dombey, in the plenitude of  his power, asked me - I had
it  from his own  lips yesterday morning - to  be  his  go-between  to  you,
because he knows  I am not agreeable to you,  and because  he intends that I
shall  be  a punishment for  your  contumacy; and  besides  that, because he
really does consider, that I, his paid servant, am an  ambassador whom it is
derogatory to the dignity - not of the  lady to whom I have the happiness of
speaking; she has no  existence in  his mind -  but of  his wife, a  part of
himself, to receive. You may imagine how regardless of me, how obtuse to the
possibility of my having any individual sentiment or opinion he is,  when he
tells  me, openly, that I am so employed. You know how perfectly indifferent
to your feelings he is, when he threatens you with such a messenger. As you,
of course, have not forgotten that he did.'
     She watched  him still attentively. But he watched her too; and  he saw
that this indication  of a  knowledge  on his part,  of something  that  had
passed between herself  and her husband, rankled and smarted in her  haughty
breast, like a poisoned arrow.
     'I do not recall all this to widen the  breach between  yourself and Mr
Dombey, Madam - Heaven forbid! what would it  profit me? - but as an example
of the hopelessness of impressing Mr  Dombey with a sense that anybody is to
be considered when he is  in  question.  We who are about him, have, in  our
various positions, done our part, I  daresay,  to confirm him  in his way of
thinking; but if we had not done  so, others would - or they  would not have
been about him; and it has always been, from  the beginning, the very staple
of his  life. Mr  Dombey has had to deal, in short, with none but submissive
and dependent persons, who have bowed the knee,  and  bent  the neck, before
him. He has never known what it is to have angry pride and strong resentment
opposed to him.'
     'But  he will know it  now!' she seemed to say; though her lips did not
part,  nor her eyes falter. He saw the soft down  tremble once again, and he
saw her  lay  the plumage of the  beautiful  bird against  her bosom  for  a
moment; and he unfolded one more ring of the coil into which he had gathered
himself.
     'Mr  Dombey, though a most honourable gentleman,' he said, 'is so prone
to  pervert  even  facts to  his own view, when  he  is at  all  opposed, in
consequence of the warp in his mind, that he - can I give a  better instance
than this! - he sincerely believes (you  will  excuse the folly of what I am
about to say; it not being mine) that his severe  expression of  opinion  to
his present wife, on a certain special occasion she may remember, before the
lamented death  of  Mrs Skewton,  produced a withering  effect, and for  the
moment quite subdued her!'
     Edith laughed. How harshly and unmusically need not be described. It is
enough that he was glad to hear her.
     'Madam,'  he resumed, 'I have done  with this. Your own opinions are so
strong, and, I am persuaded, so unalterable,' he repeated those words slowly
and with great emphasis, 'that I am almost afraid to incur your  displeasure
anew, when I say that  in  spite of these defects  and my  full knowledge of
them, I have become habituated to Mr Dombey, and esteem him.  But when I say
so, it is not, believe  me, for the mere sake of vaunting a feeling  that is
so  utterly at variance  with your  own, and  for  which  you  can  have  no
sympathy' - oh how distinct and plain  and emphasized  this was! -  'but  to
give  you an assurance  of the zeal with which, in this unhappy matter, I am
yours, and the indignation with which I regard the part I am to fill!'
     She sat as if she were afraid to take her eyes from his face.
     And now to unwind the last ring of the coil!
     'It is growing late,' said Carker, after a pause, 'and you are, as  you
said, fatigued. But the second  object of this interview, I must not forget.
I  must recommend you, I  must entreat  you in the  most earnest manner, for
sufficient  reasons  that I have, to  be cautious in  your demonstrations of
regard for Miss Dombey.'
     'Cautious! What do you mean?'
     'To be careful how you exhibit too much affection for that young lady.'
     'Too much affection, Sir!'  said  Edith,  knitting her broad  brow  and
rising. 'Who judges my affection, or measures it out? You?'
     'It is not I who do so.' He was, or feigned to be, perplexed.
     'Who then?'
     'Can you not guess who then?'
     'I do not choose to guess,' she answered.
     'Madam,' he said after a little hesitation; meantime they had been, and
still were, regarding each other as before;  'I am in a difficulty here. You
have told me  you  will  receive no message,  and you  have  forbidden me to
return  to that  subject; but the two subjects are  so closely  entwined,  I
find, that unless you will accept this vague  caution  from one who  has now
the honour to possess your confidence, though the way to it has been through
your displeasure, I must violate the injunction you have laid upon me.'
     'You know that you are free to do so, Sir,' said Edith. 'Do it.'
     So pale,  so trembling,  so  impassioned!  He had not miscalculated the
effect then!
     'His instructions were,' he said, in a low voice, 'that I should inform
you that your demeanour towards Miss Dombey is not agreeable to him. That it
suggests comparisons  to him  which are not favourable to himself.  That  he
desires it may be wholly changed; and  that if you  are  in earnest,  he  is
confident it will be; for your  continued show of affection will not benefit
its object.'
     'That is a threat,' she said.
     'That is a  threat,'  he answered, in  his  voiceless manner of assent:
adding aloud, 'but not directed against you.'
     Proud, erect, and  dignified, as she stood confronting him; and looking
through  him as she did, with her  full bright flashing eye; and smiling, as
she  was, with scorn  and bitterness; she sunk as if the  ground had dropped
beneath her, and in an instant would have  fallen  on the floor, but that he
caught  her in his arms. As instantaneously  she threw him off,  the  moment
that he  touched  her,  and, drawing back, confronted him again, immoveable,
with her hand stretched out.
     'Please to leave me. Say no more to-night.'
     'I feel the urgency of this,' said Mr Carker, 'because it is impossible
to say  what unforeseen  consequences might  arise, or  how soon, from  your
being unacquainted  with his  state of  mind. I  understand Miss  Dombey  is
concerned, now, at the dismissal of her old servant, which is likely to have
been a minor consequence in  itself. You don't blame me  for requesting that
Miss Dombey might not be present. May I hope so?'
     'I do not. Please to leave me, Sir.'
     'I knew that your  regard for the young lady, which is very sincere and
strong,  I am well  persuaded, would render it  a great  unhappiness to you,
ever to be a prey  to the reflection  that you had  injured her position and
ruined her future hopes,' said Carker hurriedly, but eagerly.
     'No more to-night. Leave me, if you please.'
     'I  shall be here constantly in my  attendance upon  him,  and  in  the
transaction of business matters.  You will allow me to see you again, and to
consult what should be done, and learn your wishes?'
     She motioned him towards the door.
     'I cannot even decide whether to tell him I have spoken to you yet;  or
to  lead  him  to suppose  that  I have  deferred  doing  so,  for  want  of
opportunity,  or for any other reason. It will be  necessary that you should
enable me to consult with you very soon.
     'At any time but now,' she answered.
     'You will understand, when I wish to see you, that Miss  Dombey is  not
to be present; and that I seek an interview as one who has  the happiness to
possess your confidence, and who comes to render you every assistance in his
power, and, perhaps, on many occasions, to ward off evil from her?'
     Looking at him still  with the same apparent dread of releasing him for
a moment from the  influence of her steady gaze, whatever that might be, she
answered, 'Yes!' and once more bade him go.
     He bowed, as if in compliance; but  turning  back,  when he  had nearly
reached the door, said:
     'I am forgiven, and have explained my fault. May I -  for Miss Dombey's
sake, and for my own - take your hand before I go?'
     She gave him the gloved  hand she had maimed last night. He  took it in
one of his, and kissed it, and withdrew. And when he had closed the door, he
waved the hand with which he had taken hers, and thrust it in his breast.
     Edith saw no one that night, but locked her door, and kept herself
     alone.
     She did not weep; she showed no greater agitation, outwardly, than when
she  was  riding home. She  laid as proud  a head upon her pillow as she had
borne in her carriage; and her prayer ran thus:
     'May this man be a liar! For if he has spoken truth, she is lost to me,
and I have no hope left!'
     This man, meanwhile, went home  musing to bed,  thinking, with a dainty
pleasure, how imperious  her passion was, how she had sat before  him in her
beauty,  with  the dark  eyes that had never turned away  but once;  how the
white down had fluttered; how the bird's feathers had been  strewn upon  the
ground.


     Recognizant and Reflective

     Among  sundry minor  alterations  in Mr  Carker's life and habits  that
began to  take  place  at  this  time, none  was  more  remarkable than  the
extraordinary diligence with which he applied himself  to business, and  the
closeness with which  he investigated  every  detail that the affairs of the
House  laid open to him. Always active and penetrating in  such matters, his
lynx-eyed vigilance  now increased twenty-fold. Not only did his weary watch
keep pace  with every present point that every day presented  to him in some
new  form, but in the midst of these engrossing occupations he found leisure
- that is, he made it - to review the past transactions of the Firm, and his
share in them, during  a  long series  of years. Frequently when  the clerks
were all gone,  the  offices  dark and  empty,  and  all  similar  places of
business shut up, Mr  Carker,  with the whole anatomy of  the iron room laid
bare before him,  would  explore the mysteries of books and papers, with the
patient progress of a man who was  dissecting the minutest nerves and fibres
of  his  subject.  Perch, the  messenger,  who  usually  remained  on  these
occasions, to entertain himself with the perusal of the Price Current by the
light  of one candle, or to doze over the fire in  the outer office, at  the
imminent risk  every moment of diving head foremost into the coal-box, could
not  withhold the tribute  of  his  admiration  from  this zealous  conduct,
although  it  much contracted his domestic enjoyments; and again, and again,
expatiated to Mrs Perch (now nursing twins) on the industry and acuteness of
their managing gentleman in the City.
     The same increased and  sharp attention that Mr Carker bestowed  on the
business of the House, he  applied to his own personal affairs. Though not a
partner  in  the  concern  -  a  distinction  hitherto  reserved  solely  to
inheritors of the  great name of  Dombey -  he was  in  the receipt  of some
percentage on its dealings; and, participating in all its facilities for the
employment of money to advantage, was  considered, by  the minnows among the
tritons  of  the East, a rich  man. It began to be said, among  these shrewd
observers, that  Jem Carker, of Dombey's, was looking about him to  see what
he was worth; and that he was calling in his money at a good  time, like the
long-headed fellow he was; and bets  were even offered on the Stock Exchange
that Jem was going to marry a rich widow.
     Yet  these  cares did not  in  the least  interfere  with  Mr  Carker's
watching of his chief, or with  his cleanness,  neatness, sleekness, or  any
cat-like quality he possessed. It was not so much that there was a change in
him,  in reference  to  any  of  his habits,  as  that  the  whole  man  was
intensified.  Everything  that  had  been  observable  in  him  before,  was
observable  now,  but with a  greater amount  of concentration.  He did each
single thing, as  if he did nothing else - a  pretty certain indication in a
man of  that range of ability and purpose,  that he is doing something which
sharpens and keeps alive his keenest powers.
     The only decided alteration in him was,  that  as  he  rode to  and fro
along  the streets, he would  fall  into deep fits  of musing,  like that in
which he  had come away  from  Mr  Dombey's house,  on  the morning  of that
gentleman's disaster. At such times, he would keep clear of the obstacles in
his  way, mechanically; and  would  appear to  see  and  hear nothing  until
arrival at his destination, or some sudden chance or effort roused him.
     Walking his  white-legged horse thus, to  the counting-house of  Dombey
and Son  one  day, he  was as unconscious of the observation of two pairs of
women's eyes, as of the fascinated orbs of  Rob the Grinder, who, in waiting
a  street's   length  from  the  appointed  place,  as  a  demonstration  of
punctuality, vainly touched and retouched his hat to attract  attention, and
trotted along on foot, by  his master's  side, prepared to  hold his stirrup
when he should alight.
     'See where he goes!' cried one of these two women, an old creature, who
stretched out her  shrivelled arm to point him out to her companion, a young
woman, who stood close beside her, withdrawn like herself into a gateway.
     Mrs Brown's  daughter looked out, at this  bidding  on  the part of Mrs
Brown; and there were wrath and vengeance in her face.
     'I never  thought to look at him again,' she said, in a low voice; 'but
it's well I should, perhaps. I see. I see!'
     'Not changed!' said the old woman, with a look of eager malice.
     'He changed!' returned the  other.  'What for?  What  has  he suffered?
There is change enough for twenty in me. Isn't that enough?'
     'See where he goes!' muttered the old woman, watching her daughter with
her red eyes; 'so easy and so trim a-horseback, while we are in the mud.'
     'And of it,' said her daughter impatiently. 'We are mud, underneath his
horse's feet. What should we be?'
     In  the intentness with which she looked  after him  again, she made  a
hasty gesture with her  hand when the  old woman began to  reply, as if  her
view could  be obstructed by mere  sound. Her  mother  watching her, and not
him, remained silent;  until  her kindling  glance subsided, and she drew  a
long breath, as if in the relief of his being gone.
     'Deary!' said the old  woman  then.  'Alice! Handsome  gall Ally!'  She
gently shook her sleeve  to arouse her attention. 'Will you let him go  like
that,  when  you  can  wring money  from  him?  Why, it's  a  wickedness, my
daughter.'
     'Haven't  I  told you,  that  I  will  not have  money from  him?'  she
returned. 'And don't you  yet  believe  me? Did  I take his  sister's money?
Would I touch a penny, if I knew it, that had gone through his white hands -
unless  it was, indeed, that  I could  poison it, and send  it back to  him?
Peace, mother, and come away.
     'And him so rich?' murmured the old woman. 'And us so poor!'
     'Poor in not  being able  to  pay  him  any of the  harm we  owe  him,'
returned her daughter. 'Let him give me  that sort of  riches, and I'll take
them from him, and use them.  Come away.  Its  no good looking at his horse.
Come away, mother!'
     But the old woman, for whom  the spectacle of Rob the Grinder returning
down  the  street,  leading  the  riderless  horse,  appeared to  have  some
extraneous interest that it did not possess in itself,  surveyed  that young
man with the utmost earnestness; and  seeming to have  whatever  doubts  she
entertained,  resolved  as he  drew  nearer, glanced  at  her  daughter with
brightened  eyes  and  with  her finger  on her lip,  and emerging  from the
gateway at the moment of his passing, touched him on the shoulder.
     'Why, where's my  sprightly Rob been, all this time!' she  said,  as he
turned round.
     The  sprightly Rob, whose sprightliness was very much diminished by the
salutation, looked exceedingly  dismayed, and said, with the water rising in
his eyes:
     'Oh! why  can't you  leave a  poor cove alone, Misses Brown,  when he's
getting an honest livelihood and conducting himself respectable? What do you
come and deprive a cove of his  character  for,  by talking to  him  in  the
streets, when he's  taking his master's  horse to a honest stable - a  horse
you'd go and sell  for cats' and dogs' meat if  you  had your  way!  Why,  I
thought,' said the Grinder, producing his concluding remark  as  if it  were
the climax of all his injuries, 'that you was dead long ago!'
     'This  is  the way,' cried the  old woman, appealing  to her  daughter,
'that he talks to me, who knew  him weeks and months together, my deary, and
have stood his  friend many and many a time among the pigeon-fancying tramps
and bird-catchers.'
     'Let the  birds be, will you, Misses Brown?' retorted Rob, in a tone of
the acutest anguish. 'I think a cove had better  have to  do with lions than
them  little  creeturs, for they're always flying back in your face when you
least expect  it.  Well,  how  d'ye do and what do  you want?'  These polite
inquiries the Grinder uttered,  as  it were under  protest, and  with  great
exasperation and vindictiveness.
     'Hark  how he speaks to an old friend, my deary!' said Mrs Brown, again
appealing to  her  daughter. 'But  there's some of  his old  friends  not so
patient as me. If I  was  to tell  some that he knows, and  has  spotted and
cheated with, where to find him - '
     'Will you hold  your  tongue, Misses  Brown?' interrupted the miserable
Grinder, glancing quickly round, as  though he expected to see  his master's
teeth shining at his elbow.  'What do you  take a pleasure in ruining a cove
for? At your time of life too! when you ought to be thinking of a variety of
things!'
     'What a gallant horse!' said the old woman, patting the animal's neck.
     'Let him alone,  will you,  Misses  Brown?' cried Rob, pushing away her
hand. 'You're enough to drive a penitent cove mad!'
     'Why, what hurt do I do him, child?' returned the old woman.
     'Hurt?' said  Rob. 'He's got a master that would find it  out if he was
touched with a straw.' And he blew upon the place where the old woman's hand
had rested for a moment, and smoothed  it gently  with his finger, as  if he
seriously believed what he said.
     The old woman  looking back  to  mumble and mouth  at her daughter, who
followed, kept  close to Rob's  heels as he walked on with the bridle in his
hand; and pursued the conversation.
     'A good place, Rob, eh?' said she. 'You're in luck, my child.'
     'Oh  don't  talk  about  luck,  Misses  Brown,'  returned the  wretched
Grinder, facing  round and stopping. 'If you'd  never  come, or if you'd  go
away, then indeed a cove  might be considered tolerable lucky.  Can't you go
along,  Misses Brown,  and  not  foller  me!'  blubbered  Rob,  with  sudden
defiance.  'If the young woman's a friend of yours,  why don't  she take you
away, instead of letting you make yourself so disgraceful!'
     'What!' croaked  the  old woman, putting her face close to  his, with a
malevolent grin  upon it  that  puckered  up the loose skin down in her very
throat. 'Do you deny your old chum! Have you lurked to my house fifty times,
and slept sound in a corner when you had no other bed but the paving-stones,
and do you talk to me like this! Have I bought and sold with you, and helped
you in my way of business,  schoolboy, sneak, and what not, and  do you tell
me to  go  along? Could I raise a crowd of old company  about  you to-morrow
morning, that would  follow you to ruin like copies of your own shadow,  and
do you turn on me with your bold looks! I'll go. Come, Alice.'
     'Stop, Misses Brown!' cried the distracted Grinder. 'What are you doing
of? Don't put yourself  in  a  passion! Don't let her  go,  if you please. I
haven't meant any offence. I said "how d'ye do," at first, didn't I? But you
wouldn't answer. How  you do? Besides,'  said Rob piteously, 'look here! How
can a cove stand talking  in the street with  his master's prad a wanting to
be  took to be rubbed down, and his master up to every individgle thing that
happens!'
     The old woman  made a  show  of being partially appeased, but shook her
head, and mouthed and muttered still.
     'Come  along to the stables, and  have a glass of something that's good
for you,  Misses Brown,  can't you?'  said Rob, 'instead of  going  on, like
that, which is no good to you, nor anybody else. Come  along with  her, will
you be  so kind?' said Rob. 'I'm sure I'm delighted to see her, if it wasn't
for the horse!'
     With this apology, Rob turned  away, a rueful picture of  despair,  and
walked  his  charge  down  a bye street'  The old  woman,  mouthing  at  her
daughter, followed close upon him. The daughter followed.
     Turning  into a silent  little  square or court-yard  that had  a great
church tower rising above it, and a packer's warehouse, and a bottle-maker's
warehouse, for  its  places  of  business,  Rob  the  Grinder delivered  the
white-legged horse to  the  hostler of a  quaint stable at the  corner;  and
inviting Mrs Brown and her daughter to seat themselves upon a stone bench at
the  gate  of  that  establishment,  soon  reappeared  from  a  neighbouring
public-house with a pewter measure and a glass.
     'Here's  master - Mr Carker, child!' said the old woman, slowly, as her
sentiment before drinking. 'Lord bless him!'
     'Why, I didn't tell you who he was,' observed Rob, with staring eyes.
     'We know him by sight,' said Mrs Brown, whose working mouth and nodding
head stopped for the  moment, in the fixedness of her attention. 'We saw him
pass this morning,  afore he got off his horse; when you were  ready to take
it.'
     'Ay,  ay,'  returned  Rob,  appearing  to wish that  his readiness  had
carried  him to any  other place. - 'What's the matter with her?  Won't  she
drink?'
     This inquiry had reference to Alice,  who, folded in her cloak,  sat  a
little apart, profoundly inattentive to his offer of the replenished glass.
     The  old woman shook her head. 'Don't mind  her,'  she  said;  'she's a
strange creetur, if you know'd her, Rob. But Mr Carker
     'Hush!' said Rob,  glancing  cautiously up at  the packer's, and at the
bottle-maker's, as if,  from  any one of the tiers of warehouses, Mr  Carker
might be looking down. 'Softly.'
     'Why, he ain't here!' cried Mrs Brown.
     'I don't  know  that,' muttered Rob, whose glance  even wandered to the
church tower, as if he might be there, with a supernatural power of hearing.
     'Good master?' inquired Mrs Brown.
     Rob nodded; and added, in a low voice, 'precious sharp.'
     'Lives out of town, don't he, lovey?' said the old woman.
     'When he's  at  home,' returned Rob; 'but we don't  live  at  home just
now.'
     'Where then?' asked the old woman.
     'Lodgings; up near Mr Dombey's,' returned Rob.
     The younger  woman  fixed  her  eyes  so searchingly upon  him, and  so
suddenly, that Rob  was quite confounded, and  offered the  glass again, but
with no more effect upon her than before.
     'Mr Dombey - you  and I used to  talk about him, sometimes, you  know,'
said Rob to Mrs Brown. 'You used to get me to talk about him.'
     The old woman nodded.
     'Well,  Mr  Dombey,  he's  had  a  fall  from  his  horse,'  said  Rob,
unwillingly; 'and my master has to be up there, more than usual, either with
him, or Mrs Dombey, or some of 'em; and so we've come to town.'
     'Are they good friends, lovey?'asked the old woman.
     'Who?' retorted Rob.
     'He and she?'
     'What, Mr and Mrs Dombey?' said Rob. 'How should I know!'
     'Not  them  - Master  and Mrs Dombey, chick,'  replied  the  old woman,
coaxingly.
     'I don't know,' said Rob,  looking round him  again. 'I suppose so. How
curious you are, Misses Brown! Least said, soonest mended.'
     'Why there's no harm in it!' exclaimed the old woman, with a laugh, and
a clap of her hands.  'Sprightly Rob, has grown tame since he has been  well
off! There's no harm in It.
     'No, there's no  harm  in  it,  I  know,' returned  Rob, with the  same
distrustful glance  at the packer's  and the bottle-maker's, and the church;
'but blabbing, if it's only about the number of buttons on my master's coat,
won't do. I tell you it won't do with him. A cove had  better drown himself.
He  says so. I shouldn't have so much as told you what his name was, if  you
hadn't known it. Talk about somebody else.'
     As  Rob took another cautious survey of the yard, the  old woman made a
secret motion  to her daughter. It was momentary, but the  daughter,  with a
slight look of intelligence,  withdrew her eyes from the boy's face, and sat
folded in her cloak as before.
     'Rob, lovey!' said the old woman, beckoning him to the other end of the
bench. 'You were always a pet and favourite of mine. Now, weren't you? Don't
you know you were?'
     'Yes, Misses Brown,' replied the Grinder, with a very bad grace.
     'And you could leave  me!' said  the old woman, flinging her arms about
his neck.  'You could  go away,  and grow almost out of knowledge, and never
come  to tell  your poor old friend how  fortunate you were, proud lad! Oho,
Oho!'
     'Oh here's  a dreadful go for a  cove that's got a master wide awake in
the neighbourhood!' exclaimed the wretched Grinder. 'To  be howled over like
this here!'
     'Won't you  come and see me, Robby?' cried Mrs  Brown. 'Oho,  won't you
ever come and see me?'
     'Yes, I tell you! Yes, I will!' returned the Grinder.
     'That's my own Rob! That's  my lovey!' said Mrs Brown, drying the tears
upon  her  shrivelled  face, and  giving him a tender squeeze.  'At  the old
place, Rob?'
     'Yes,' replied the Grinder.
     'Soon, Robby dear?' cried Mrs Brown; 'and often?'
     'Yes. Yes. Yes,' replied Rob. 'I will indeed, upon my soul and body.'
     'And then,' said Mrs Brown, with her arms uplifted towards the sky, and
her head thrown back and shaking, 'if he's true to his word, I'll never come
a-near him though  I know where he is, and never breathe  a  syllable  about
him! Never!'
     This ejaculation seemed a drop of comfort to the miserable Grinder, who
shook Mrs  Brown  by  the hand upon it,  and implored her with tears in  his
eyes, to leave a cove and not destroy his prospects. Mrs Brown, with another
fond  embrace, assented; but in  the  act of  following her daughter, turned
back, with  her finger stealthily raised, and asked in  a hoarse whisper for
some money.
     'A  shilling, dear!' she  said,  with her  eager  avaricious  face, 'or
sixpence! For  old acquaintance sake. I'm so poor.  And my  handsome  gal' -
looking over her shoulder - 'she's my gal, Rob - half starves me.
     But  as the reluctant Grinder  put it in her hand, her daughter, coming
quietly back, caught the hand in hen, and twisted out the coin.
     'What,' she said, 'mother!  always money! money from the first,  and to
the last' Do you mind so little what I said but now? Here. Take it!'
     The old woman  uttered a moan as the money was restored, but without in
any other way opposing  its restoration, hobbled  at her daughter's side out
of the yard, and along the bye street upon  which  it opened. The astonished
and  dismayed  Rob staring  after  them, saw that they stopped,  and fell to
earnest  conversation  very  soon;  and more  than  once observed  a  darkly
threatening action of  the younger woman's hand (obviously  having reference
to someone of whom they spoke), and a crooning feeble imitation of it on the
part of Mrs Brown, that made him earnestly hope  he might not be the subject
of their discourse.
     With  the  present  consolation  that  they  were  gone, and  with  the
prospective comfort  that Mrs Brown could not  live  for  ever, and was  not
likely to live  long to  trouble him, the Grinder,  not otherwise regretting
his  misdeeds than  as they were  attended with such disagreeable incidental
consequences,  composed his ruffled features to a  more serene expression by
thinking of the admirable manner in which he had disposed of  Captain Cuttle
(a reflection  that seldom failed to put him in a flow of spirits), and went
to the Dombey Counting House to receive his master's orders.
     There his master, so subtle and vigilant of eye, that Rob quaked before
him, more than half expecting to be taxed with Mrs Brown, gave him the usual
morning's box  of papers for Mr Dombey,  and  a note  for Mrs Dombey: merely
nodding  his head as an enjoinder to be careful,  and to  use  dispatch  - a
mysterious  admonition,  fraught  in  the  Grinder's imagination with dismal
warnings and threats; and more powerful with him than any words.
     Alone again, in  his own room, Mr Carker applied himself  to work,  and
worked all day. He saw many visitors; overlooked a number of documents; went
in and out, to and from, sundry places of mercantile resort; and indulged in
no more  abstraction until the day's business was  done. But, when the usual
clearance of  papers from  his  table  was made at last,  he  fell into  his
thoughtful mood once more.
     He was  standing in his accustomed place  and attitude, with  his  eyes
intently fixed upon the ground, when his brother entered to bring  back some
letters  that had  been taken out in the  course of  the day.  He  put  them
quietly on the table, and was going immediately, when Mr Carker the Manager,
whose eyes had rested on him, on his entrance, as if they  had all this time
had him for the subject of their contemplation, instead of the office-floor,
said:
     'Well, John Carker, and what brings you here?'
     His brother pointed to the letters, and was again withdrawing.
     'I wonder,' said  the  Manager,  'that  you  can come  and go,  without
inquiring how our master is'.
     'We had word  this morning  in the Counting House, that  Mr  Dombey was
doing well,' replied his brother.
     'You are such a meek fellow,'  said the Manager, with a smile,  -  'but
you have grown so, in the  course of  years - that if any harm came  to him,
you'd be miserable, I dare swear now.'
     'I should be truly sorry, James,' returned the other.
     'He would be  sorry!'  said the Manager, pointing  at  him, as if there
were some other person present  to whom he was appealing. 'He would be truly
sorry! This brother of mine! This  junior  of the place, this slighted piece
of  lumber, pushed aside with  his face to the wall,  like a rotten picture,
and left so, for Heaven knows how many years he's all gratitude and respect,
and devotion too, he would have me believe!'
     'I  would have  you believe nothing, James,' returned the other. 'Be as
just to me as you  would to any other man below you. You ask a question, and
I answer it.'
     'And have  you  nothing,  Spaniel,'  said  the  Manager,  with  unusual
irascibility, 'to complain  of  in  him?  No  proud treatment  to resent, no
insolence, no foolery of state, no exaction of any sort! What the devil! are
you man or mouse?'
     'It would be strange if any  two persons could be  together for so many
years, especially as superior and inferior, without each having something to
complain  of  in  the  other -  as  he thought, at all  events, replied John
Carker. 'But apart from my history here - '
     'His history here!' exclaimed the Manager.  'Why, there it is. The very
fact that  makes him  an extreme  case, puts him out  of the  whole chapter!
Well?'
     'Apart from that, which, as you hint, gives me  a reason to be thankful
that  I alone (happily for all the rest) possess, surely there is no  one in
the House who would not say and feel at least as much. You do not think that
anybody here would be indifferent  to a mischance or misfortune happening to
the head of the House, or anything than truly sorry for it?'
     'You have  good  reason  to be  bound to  him too!' said  the  Manager,
contemptuously.  'Why, don't you  believe that you are kept here, as a cheap
example, and a famous instance of the clemency of Dombey and Son, redounding
to the credit of the illustrious House?'
     'No,' replied his brother, mildly, 'I have long believed that I am kept
here for more kind and disinterested reasons.
     'But you were going,'  said the Manager, with the snarl of a tiger-cat,
'to recite some Christian precept, I observed.'
     'Nay,  James,'  returned  the  other, 'though the  tie  of  brotherhood
between us has been long broken and thrown away - '
     'Who broke it, good Sir?' said the Manager.
     'I, by my misconduct. I do not charge it upon you.'
     The Manager replied, with that mute action of his bristling mouth, 'Oh,
you don't charge it upon me!' and bade him go on.
     'I  say,  though there  is not that tie between us, do not, I  entreat,
assail me with unnecessary taunts, or misinterpret what I say, or would say.
I was  only going to suggest to you that it would be  a  mistake to  suppose
that it is only  you,  who  have been selected  here,  above all others, for
advancement, confidence and distinction (selected, in the beginning, I know,
for  your great ability and  trustfulness), and who communicate  more freely
with  Mr Dombey than anyone,  and stand, it may be said, on equal terms with
him, and have been favoured and enriched by him - that it would be a mistake
to suppose that it is only you who are tender of his welfare and reputation.
There is no one  in the House, from yourself down to the lowest, I sincerely
believe, who does not participate in that feeling.'
     'You  lie!'  said  the  Manager,  red  with  sudden  anger.  'You're  a
hypocrite, John Carker, and you lie.'
     'James!'  cried the other, flushing in  his turn. 'What do  you mean by
these insulting words? Why do you so basely use them to me, unprovoked?'
     'I  tell you,'  said the Manager, 'that your hypocrisy  and  meekness -
that  all  the hypocrisy and meekness  of this  place - is not worth that to
me,' snapping his thumb and finger, 'and that I see through it as if it were
air! There  is  not a  man employed here, standing  between myself  and  the
lowest in place (of whom you are very considerate, and with  reason, for  he
is  not far off), who wouldn't be glad  at heart  to see his master humbled:
who  does  not  hate him,  secretly: who does not wish him evil  rather than
good: and who would not turn upon him, if he had the power and boldness. The
nearer to his favour, the nearer to  his insolence;  the closer to  him, the
farther from him. That's the creed here!'
     'I  don't  know,'  said  his brother,  whose  roused feelings had  soon
yielded   to   surprise,  'who   may  have  abused  your   ear   with   such
representations; or why you have chosen to try me, rather  than another. But
that you have been trying me, and tampering with me, I am now sure. You have
a different manner  and a different aspect from any that I ever saw m you. I
will only say to you, once more, you are deceived.'
     'I know I am,' said the Manager. 'I have told you so.'
     'Not by me,' returned his brother. 'By your informant, if you have one.
If not, by your own thoughts and suspicions.'
     'I have no suspicions,' said the  Manager.  'Mine are certainties.  You
pusillanimous, abject, cringing dogs! All making the same  show, all canting
the same story,  all whining the same  professions, all  harbouring the same
transparent secret.'
     His  brother withdrew, without  saying  more, and  shut  the door as he
concluded.  Mr Carker  the Manager  drew  a chair close before the fire, and
fell to beating the coals softly with the poker.
     'The faint-hearted, fawning knaves,' he muttered, with his  two shining
rows of teeth laid bare. 'There's  not one among them, who wouldn't feign to
be so  shocked  and outraged - ! Bah! There's not  one among them, but if he
had at once the  power, and  the wit  and  daring  to use it, would  scatter
Dombey's pride and lay it low, as ruthlessly as I rake out these ashes.'
     As he broke them  up and strewed them in the grate, he looked on with a
thoughtful  smile  at what  he was  doing. 'Without the same queen  beckoner
too!' he added presently;  'and there is  pride there, not to be forgotten -
witness our own acquaintance!' With  that he fell into a deeper reverie, and
sat pondering over the blackening grate, until he rose up like a man who had
been absorbed in a book, and looking round him took his hat and gloves, went
to where  his horse was waiting, mounted, and rode away  through the lighted
streets, for it was evening.
     He  rode  near  Mr  Dombey's  house;  and falling  into  a walk  as  he
approached it, looked  up at the windows The window  where he  had once seen
Florence sitting with  her dog attracted  his attention first, though  there
was  no light in it; but he smiled as he  carried his eyes up the tall front
of the house, and seemed to leave that object superciliously behind.
     'Time was,' he said, 'when it was well to watch even your rising little
star, and know in what  quarter there were clouds, to shadow you if needful.
But a planet has arisen, and you are lost in its light.'
     He turned the white-legged  horse round the street corner,  and  sought
one  shining window from among those at the  back of  the house.  Associated
with it was a certain stately presence, a  gloved hand,  the remembrance how
the  feathers of  a beautiful  bird's  wing had been showered down  upon the
floor, and how the light white down upon a robe had stirred and  rustled, as
in the rising of a distant storm. These were the things  he carried with him
as he turned away  again, and rode  through the darkening and deserted Parks
at a quick rate.
     In fatal truth, these  were associated with a woman, a proud woman, who
hated him, but who  by slow and sure degrees had been led on  by his  craft,
and her pride and resentment, to endure his company, and little by little to
receive him as one who had the privilege to  talk to  her of her own defiant
disregard of her own husband, and her abandonment of high consideration  for
herself. They were  associated with  a  woman who hated him  deeply, and who
knew him, and who mistrusted him because  she  knew him, and because he knew
her; but who fed her fierce resentment  by suffering him to draw  nearer and
yet  nearer to her every day, in spite of the hate she cherished for him. In
spite of it! For that very reason; since in its depths, too far down for her
threatening  eye to pierce, though she could see into  them  dimly, lay  the
dark  retaliation,  whose  faintest shadow seen once  and shuddered  at, and
never seen again, would have been sufficient stain upon her soul.
     Did the phantom of such a woman flit about him on his ride; true to the
reality, and obvious to him?
     Yes. He saw her in his mind, exactly  as she was.  She bore him company
with her pride, resentment, hatred, all as plain to him as her  beauty; with
nothing plainer to  him than her hatred of him. He saw her sometimes haughty
and  repellent at  his side, and  some times  down among  his horse's  feet,
fallen and in the dust.  But he always saw her as she was, without disguise,
and watched her on the dangerous way that she was going.
     And when his ride was over, and he was newly dressed, and came into the
light of her bright room with his bent head, soft voice, and soothing smile,
he saw her yet as plainly. He even suspected the mystery of the gloved hand,
and held it all the longer in his own for that suspicion. Upon the dangerous
way that she was going, he was, still; and not a footprint did she mark upon
it, but he set his own there, straight'


     The Thunderbolt

     The  barrier between Mr Dombey and his wife was  not weakened by  time.
Ill-assorted couple, unhappy in themselves and in each other, bound together
by no  tie but  the manacle that joined their fettered hands, and  straining
that so harshly, in their shrinking asunder, that it wore  and chafed to the
bone,  Time, consoler of affliction and softener  of anger, could do nothing
to help them. Their pride, however different in kind  and object, was  equal
in degree;  and, in their flinty  opposition, struck out fire  between  them
which might smoulder or might blaze, as  circumstances were,  but  burned up
everything  within their mutual reach, and made their marriage way a road of
ashes.
     Let us  be just to him. In the monstrous delusion of his life, swelling
with every grain of  sand  that shifted  in its  glass, he  urged her on, he
little thought to what,  or considered  how;  but still his feeling  towards
her,  such as it  was, remained  as at first.  She had the  grand demerit of
unaccountably putting  herself in opposition to  the recognition of his vast
importance, and to the acknowledgment of her complete  submission to it, and
so far  it  was necessary to correct and reduce her; but otherwise he  still
considered her,  in his  cold way,  a lady capable of  doing honour, if  she
would,  to  his   choice  and  name,  and   of  reflecting  credit  on   his
proprietorship.
     Now,  she, with all her might of  passionate and proud resentment, bent
her dark glance from day to day, and hour  to hour - from  that night in her
own chamber, when  she  had  sat gazing  at the shadows on the wall, to  the
deeper night fast coming - upon one figure directing a crowd of humiliations
and exasperations against her; and that figure, still her husband's.
     Was Mr Dombey's master-vice, that ruled him so inexorably, an unnatural
characteristic?  It might be worthwhile, sometimes,  to  inquire what Nature
is, and how men work to change her, and whether, in the enforced distortions
so produced, it is not natural to be unnatural. Coop any son or  daughter of
our mighty mother  within narrow range, and bind the prisoner to  one  idea,
and foster it  by servile worship  of it on the part  of  the  few  timid or
designing people  standing round, and what is Nature to the  willing captive
who has never risen up upon the wings of  a free mind - drooping and useless
soon - to see her in her comprehensive truth!
     Alas! are there so few  things in  the world, about us, most unnatural,
and yet most natural in  being so? Hear the magistrate or judge admonish the
unnatural outcasts of society; unnatural in brutal habits, unnatural in want
of  decency, unnatural in  losing  and confounding all distinctions  between
good  and  evil; unnatural  in  ignorance,  in  vice,  in  recklessness,  in
contumacy, in mind,  in looks, in everything. But follow the  good clergyman
or doctor, who, with his life imperilled at every breath he draws, goes down
into their dens, lying within the  echoes of  our  carriage wheels and daily
tread upon the pavement stones. Look round upon the world of odious sights -
millions  of immortal creatures have  no  other  world  on  earth  - at  the
lightest mention  of which humanity revolts,  and  dainty delicacy living in
the next street, stops her ears, and lisps 'I don't believe it!' Breathe the
polluted air, foul with every impurity that is poisonous to health and life;
and have every sense, conferred upon our race for its delight and happiness,
offended, sickened and  disgusted,  and made a  channel by which misery  and
death  alone can  enter.  Vainly  attempt  to think of any simple plant,  or
flower,  or wholesome weed,  that,  set  in this foetid  bed, could have its
natural growth, or put its  little leaves off to the sun as GOD designed it.
And then, calling up some ghastly  child, with stunted form and wicked face,
hold forth on  its unnatural sinfulness, and lament its being, so early, far
away from Heaven - but think a little of its having been conceived, and born
and bred, in Hell!
     Those who study the  physical sciences, and bring them to bear upon the
health of Man, tell us that if the noxious particles that rise from vitiated
air were palpable to the sight, we should see them lowering in a dense black
cloud  above  such haunts,  and  rolling slowly on  to  corrupt  the  better
portions of a town. But if the moral pestilence that rises with them, and in
the eternal  laws of  our  Nature,  is inseparable from them,  could be made
discernible too, how terrible the revelation! Then should we see  depravity,
impiety,  drunkenness,  theft,  murder,  and a  long train of nameless  sins
against the natural affections and  repulsions  of mankind,  overhanging the
devoted spots, and creeping on, to blight the innocent and spread  contagion
among the pure. Then should we see how the same poisoned fountains that flow
into  our hospitals  and lazar-houses,  inundate the  jails,  and  make  the
convict-ships  swim  deep,  and  roll  across  the  seas, and  over-run vast
continents with crime. Then should we stand appalled to  know, that where we
generate  disease  to strike our  children down and  entail itself on unborn
generations, there also  we breed, by the same certain process, infancy that
knows no innocence, youth without modesty or shame,  maturity that is mature
in nothing but in suffering and guilt, blasted old age that is  a scandal on
the  form  we  bear. unnatural humanity!  When we shall  gather  grapes from
thorns,  and  figs from thistles; when  fields of grain shall spring up from
the offal in the bye-ways of our wicked cities, and roses bloom in  the  fat
churchyards that they cherish;  then we  may look for natural  humanity, and
find it growing from such seed.
     Oh for a good spirit who  would take the house-tops  off,  with a  mole
potent and benignant  hand than  the  lame demon  in the tale,  and  show  a
Christian people what dark shapes issue  from  amidst  their homes, to swell
the retinue of the Destroying Angel as he moves forth  among  them! For only
one night's view of the pale phantoms rising from the scenes of our too-long
neglect;  and from the thick and sullen air where Vice and  Fever  propagate
together, raining the tremendous social retributions which are  ever pouring
down, and ever coming thicker! Bright and blest the morning that should rise
on  such a night: for men, delayed no more  by stumbling-blocks of their own
making,  which  are  but specks  of  dust upon  the  path  between  them and
eternity, would then apply themselves,  like creatures of one common origin,
owing  one  duty to the Father of one family, and tending to one common end,
to make the world a better place!
     Not the less bright  and blest would that day  be for  rousing some who
never  have  looked out upon the  world  of  human  life  around them, to  a
knowledge of their own relation to it, and for making them acquainted with a
perversion  of  nature in their  own contracted sympathies and estimates; as
great, and yet as natural in its development when  once begun, as the lowest
degradation known.'
     But no  such day had ever dawned  on  Mr Dombey, or his wife;  and  the
course of each was taken.
     Through  six months that ensued upon his accident, they  held  the same
relations  one towards  the other. A  marble rock could not have stood  more
obdurately in his  way than she;  and no chilled spring, lying  uncheered by
any ray of light in the depths of a  deep cave, could be more sullen or more
cold than he.
     The hope that had fluttered within her when the promise of her new home
dawned, was quite gone from the heart of Florence now. That home  was nearly
two years old; and even the patient trust that was in her, could not survive
the daily blight of such  experience. If she had  any lingering fancy in the
nature of hope left, that Edith and her father might be happier together, in
some distant  time, she had none,  now, that her father would ever love her.
The little  interval in which  she  had imagined  that  she  saw some  small
relenting in  him, was  forgotten in  the long  remembrance of his  coldness
since and before, or only remembered as a sorrowful delusion.
     Florence loved him still, but, by degrees,  had come to love him rather
as  some  dear one  who had been, or who might  have been, than  as the hard
reality before her eyes. Something  of  the softened sadness with  which she
loved the memory of little Paul, or of her mother, seemed to enter now  into
her  thoughts  of  him,  and to  make them, as it were,  a dear remembrance.
Whether  it was  that he was dead to  her, and that partly  for this reason,
partly for his share  in those old objects of her affection, and  partly for
the  long  association of him with hopes that were withered and tendernesses
he had frozen, she could not have told; but the father whom she  loved began
to  be a  vague and dreamy idea  to her: hardly more substantially connected
with her real  life, than  the image she would sometimes  conjure up, of her
dear brother  yet  alive,  and growing  to  be a man,  who would protect and
cherish her.
     The change, if it may be called one, had stolen on  her like the change
from  childhood to womanhood, and  had  come  with it.  Florence was  almost
seventeen,  when,  in  her  lonely  musings,  she  was  conscious  of  these
thoughts.'
     She was often alone now,  for the old association between her  and  her
Mama was  greatly changed. At the time of her father's accident, and when he
was lying  in his room  downstairs,  Florence had first observed  that Edith
avoided her. Wounded and shocked, and yet unable to reconcile  this with her
affection when they did meet,  she sought her in her own room at night, once
more.
     'Mama,' said Florence, stealing softly to  her side, 'have  I  offended
you?'
     Edith answered 'No.'
     'I must have done something,'  said Florence. 'Tell me what it is.  You
have changed your manner to me, dear Mama. I cannot say how instantly I feel
the least change; for I love you with my whole heart.'
     'As I do you,' said Edith.  'Ah,  Florence,  believe me never more than
now!'
     'Why do you go away from me so often,  and keep away?' asked  Florence.
'And why do you sometimes look so strangely on  me, dear Mama? You do so, do
you not?'
     Edith signified assent with her dark eyes.
     'Why?' returned Florence imploringly. 'Tell me why, that I may know how
to please you better; and tell me this shall not be so any more.
     'My Florence,' answered Edith, taking the hand  that embraced her neck,
and  looking into  the eyes that looked into hers  so  lovingly, as Florence
knelt  upon the ground before  her; 'why it is,  I cannot  tell you.  It  is
neither for me to say, nor you to hear; but that it is, and that it must be,
I know. Should I do it if I did not?'
     'Are we to be estranged, Mama?' asked Florence, gazing at her like  one
frightened.
     Edith's silent lips formed 'Yes.'
     Florence looked at her with increasing fear and wonder, until she could
see her no more through the blinding tears that ran down her face.
     'Florence! my life!' said  Edith, hurriedly, 'listen  to  me.  I cannot
bear to see this grief.  Be calmer. You  see  that I am composed, and is  it
nothing to me?'
     She resumed her  steady voice and manner as she said the  latter words,
and added presently:
     'Not  wholly  estranged.  Partially:  and  only  that,  in  appearance,
Florence, for in my own breast I am still the same to you, and ever will be.
But what I do is not done for myself.'
     'Is it for me, Mama?' asked Florence.
     'It is  enough,' said Edith,  after a pause,  'to know what it is; why,
matters little. Dear Florence, it is better - it is necessary - it must be -
that our association should be less frequent. The confidence there  has been
between us must be broken off.'
     'When?' cried Florence. 'Oh, Mama, when?'
     'Now,' said Edith.
     'For all time to come?' asked Florence.
     'I do not say  that,' answered Edith. 'I do not  know  that. Nor will I
say  that  companionship between us  is,  at the best, an  ill-assorted  and
unholy  union, of which I might have  known no good could come. My  way here
has been through paths that  you will never tread, and my way henceforth may
lie - God knows - I do not see it - '
     Her voice died away into silence; and she sat, looking at Florence, and
almost shrinking  from her, with the same  strange dread  and wild avoidance
that  Florence  had noticed  once before.  The  same  dark  pride  and  rage
succeeded, sweeping  over her form  and features  like an angry chord across
the strings of a wild harp. But no softness or  humility ensued on that. She
did not lay her head down now, and weep, and say that she had no hope but in
Florence. She held  it up as if she were a beautiful Medusa, looking on him,
face  to face, to strike  him dead. Yes, and she would have  done it, if she
had had the charm.
     'Mama,'  said Florence, anxiously, 'there is  a  change in you, in more
than what you say to me, which alarms me. Let me stay with you a little.'
     'No,' said Edith, 'no, dearest. I am best left alone now, and I do best
to keep apart  from you, of all  else. Ask me no questions, but believe that
what I am when I seem fickle or  capricious to you, I am not of my own will,
or  for myself. Believe, though  we are  stranger to each other than we have
been, that I am unchanged to you within. Forgive me for having ever darkened
your dark home - I am  a shadow on it, I know well  - and let us never speak
of this again.'
     'Mama,' sobbed Florence, 'we are not to part?'
     'We  do  this  that  we may not  part,' said  Edith. 'Ask  no more. Go,
Florence! My love and my remorse go with you!'
     She embraced her, and dismissed her; and as Florence passed  out of her
room, Edith looked on the retiring figure, as if her good  angel went out in
that form,  and  left her  to  the haughty  and indignant  passions that now
claimed her for their own, and set their seal upon her brow.
     From that hour, Florence and she were, as they had been,  no  more. For
days  together, they would seldom meet, except at table, and  when Mr Dombey
was present. Then  Edith, imperious, inflexible, and silent, never looked at
her.  Whenever  Mr  Carker  was of  the party, as he  often was, during  the
progress of  Mr Dombey's  recovery, and  afterwards, Edith held herself more
removed from her, and was more distant towards her, than at other times. Yet
she and Florence never encountered, when there was no  one by, but she would
embrace  her as affectionately as of old, though not with the same relenting
of her proud aspect; and often, when she had  been out late, she would steal
up to  Florence's room, as she had been used to do, in the dark, and whisper
'Good-night,' on  her  pillow.  When  unconscious, in her  slumber,  of such
visits, Florence  would  sometimes awake,  as from a dream of  those  words,
softly spoken, and would seem to feel the touch of  lips upon  her face. But
less and less often as the months went on.
     And now the void in Florence's own heart began again, indeed, to make a
solitude  around  her.  As the  image  of  the  father whom  she  loved  had
insensibly  become a mere abstraction, so Edith, following  the fate of  all
the rest about whom her affections  had  entwined  themselves, was fleeting,
fading, growing  paler  in the distance, every  day.  Little by  little, she
receded from Florence, like  the retiring ghost of what she had been; little
by  little, the  chasm  between them widened  and seemed deeper;  little  by
little,  all the  power of earnestness  and tenderness  she  had  shown, was
frozen up in the bold, angry hardihood with which she  stood, upon the brink
of a deep precipice unseen by Florence, daring to look down.
     There was but one consideration to set against the heavy loss of Edith,
and  though it was slight comfort to her burdened heart,  she tried to think
it some relief. No longer divided between her affection and duty to the two,
Florence could  love  both and do no injustice to either. As shadows of  her
fond  imagination,  she could give them equal place  in her own  bosom,  and
wrong them with no doubts
     So she tried to do. At times, and  often too, wondering speculations on
the  cause of this change  in Edith, would obtrude themselves  upon her mind
and frighten  her; but in the calm of its  abandonment  once more to  silent
grief and loneliness,  it  was not a  curious  mind.  Florence had  only  to
remember that her star of promise was clouded in the general gloom that hung
upon the house, and to weep and be resigned.
     Thus living, in a dream wherein the overflowing love of her young heart
expended itself on airy forms, and in a real world where she had experienced
little but the  rolling back of  that strong tide upon itself, Florence grew
to be seventeen.  Timid  and retiring as her solitary  life had made her, it
had not  embittered her  sweet temper,  or  her  earnest nature. A  child in
innocent simplicity; a  woman  m  her modest  self-reliance,  and  her  deep
intensity of feeling; both child and woman seemed at  once expressed  in her
face and fragile delicacy of shape, and gracefully to  mingle there; - as if
the spring should  be unwilling to depart when summer  came, and  sought  to
blend  the  earlier beauties of  the flowers with their  bloom.  But in  her
thrilling voice, in  her calm eyes, sometimes in a sage ethereal light  that
seemed to rest  upon her head, and always in a certain pensive air upon  her
beauty, there was an expression, such as had been seen in the dead  boy; and
the council in the Servants'  Hall whispered so  among themselves, and shook
their  heads,  and   ate  and  drank  the   more,   in  a  closer   bond  of
good-fellowship.
     This observant body had plenty to say of Mr and  Mrs Dombey, and  of Mr
Carker, who appeared to be a mediator between them, and who came and went as
if he  were  trying to make peace,  but never could. They  all  deplored the
uncomfortable  state  of affairs,  and all  agreed  that  Mrs Pipchin (whose
unpopularity was  not  to  be surpassed) had some hand in  it; but, upon the
whole, it was agreeable  to have so good a subject for a rallying point, and
they made a great deal of it, and enjoyed themselves very much.
     The general visitors who came to the house, and those among whom Mr and
Mrs Dombey  visited, thought it a pretty  equal match, as to haughtiness, at
all events, and thought nothing more about it. The young lady with  the back
did not  appear  for some time after Mrs Skewton's  death; observing to some
particular friends, with her usual engaging little scream, that she couldn't
separate the family from a  notion of tombstones, and horrors  of that sort;
but when  she did come, she saw nothing wrong, except Mr  Dombey's wearing a
bunch  of gold  seals to  his watch,  which  shocked  her very much,  as  an
exploded superstition. This youthful fascinator considered a daughter-in-law
objectionable in  principle;  otherwise,  she  had  nothing  to  say against
Florence,  but that  she sadly  wanted  'style' -  which  might  mean  back,
perhaps. Many, who only came to  the house  on state occasions,  hardly knew
who Florence was, and said, going  home, 'Indeed, was that Miss  Dombey,  in
the   corner?  Very  pretty,  but  a  little  delicate  and  thoughtful   in
appearance!'
     None the  less  so, certainly, for  her life of  the last  six  months.
Florence  took  her seat  at the dinner-table, on the day before  the second
anniversary of her  father's marriage to Edith  (Mrs Skewton had been  lying
stricken with paralysis  when  the first came  round),  with an  uneasiness,
amounting to dread. She had no other warrant  for it, than the occasion, the
expression of her  father's face, in the hasty glance she caught of it,  and
the presence of Mr  Carker, which, always unpleasant to her, was  more so on
this day, than she had ever felt it before.
     Edith was richly  dressed, for  she and Mr Dombey  were engaged  in the
evening to some  large  assembly, and the dinner-hour that day was late. She
did not appear until they were seated at table, when Mr  Carker rose and led
her to her chair. Beautiful and lustrous as she  was,  there was that in her
face and air which seemed to separate her hopelessly from Florence, and from
everyone,  for ever more. And  yet,  for an instant, Florence saw a beam  of
kindness in her eyes, when they were turned on  her, that  made the distance
to which  she had  withdrawn  herself, a  greater cause of sorrow and regret
than ever.
     There was very little said  at dinner. Florence  heard her father speak
to Mr Carker sometimes  on business matters, and heard him softly reply, but
she paid little attention  to what they said, and only wished the dinner  at
an  end. When the  dessert  was placed upon  the table, and they  were  left
alone, with  no servant in attendance, Mr Dombey, who had been several times
clearing his throat in a manner that augured no good, said:
     'Mrs  Dombey,   you  know,  I  suppose,  that  I  have  instructed  the
housekeeper that there will be some company to dinner here to-morrow.
     'I do not dine at home,' she answered.
     'Not a large party,' pursued  Mr Dombey, with an indifferent assumption
of  not having heard her; 'merely some twelve or fourteen. My sister,  Major
Bagstock, and some others whom you know but slightly.'
     I do not dine at home,' she repeated.
     'However doubtful reason I may have, Mrs Dombey,' said Mr Dombey, still
going majestically  on,  as if she had not spoken, 'to hold the occasion  in
very  pleasant remembrance just  now, there  are appearances in these things
which  must be maintained before the  world. If  you  have  no  respect  for
yourself, Mrs Dombey - '
     'I have none,' she said.
     'Madam,' cried Mr Dombey, striking his hand upon the table, 'hear me if
you please. I say, if you have no respect for yourself - '
     'And I say I have none,' she answered.
     He looked  at her; but the face she showed him in return would not have
changed, if death itself had looked.
     'Carker,'  said Mr Dombey, turning  more quietly to that gentleman, 'as
you  have  been  my  medium  of  communication  with  Mrs  Dombey  on former
occasions, and as I choose to preserve the decencies of life, so far as I am
individually concerned,  I  will  trouble you to have the goodness to inform
Mrs Dombey that if she has no  respect for herself,  I have some respect for
myself, and therefore insist on my arrangements for to-morrow.
     'Tell  your sovereign master, Sir,' said Edith, 'that I will take leave
to  speak  to  him on this subject by-and-bye, and  that I will speak to him
alone.'
     'Mr Carker,  Madam,'  said  her  husband, 'being in  possession of  the
reason which obliges me to refuse you that privilege, shall be absolved from
the delivery of any such message.' He saw her eyes move, while he spoke, and
followed them with his own.
     'Your daughter is present, Sir,' said Edith.
     'My daughter will remain present,' said Mr Dombey.
     Florence, who had risen, sat down again, hiding her  face in her hands,
and trembling.
     'My daughter, Madam' - began Mr Dombey.
     But Edith stopped  him,  in  a voice  which, although not raised in the
least, was so  clear, emphatic, and distinct,  that it might have been heard
in a whirlwind.
     'I tell  you I will speak to you alone,' she said. 'If you are not mad,
heed what I say.'
     'I have authority to speak to  you, Madam,' returned her husband, 'when
and where I please; and it is my pleasure to speak here and now.'
     She rose up as if to leave the room; but sat down again, and looking at
him with all outward composure, said, in the same voice:
     'You shall!'
     'I must tell you first, that there is a threatening  appearance in your
manner, Madam,' said Mr Dombey, 'which does not become you.
     She  laughed. The  shaken diamonds  in  her hair started and  trembled.
There are fables of precious stones that would turn pale, their wearer being
in danger. Had these been such,  their imprisoned  rays  of light would have
taken flight that moment, and they would have been as dull as lead.
     Carker listened, with his eyes cast down.
     'As to my daughter, Madam,'  said Mr Dombey, resuming the thread of his
discourse,  'it is by no means  inconsistent with her duty  to  me, that she
should know what conduct to avoid. At present  you are a very strong example
to her of this kind, and I hope she may profit by it.'
     'I would not stop you  now,' returned his wife,  immoveable in eye, and
voice,  and  attitude; 'I  would  not rise and  go  away, and save  you  the
utterance of one word, if the room were burning.'
     Mr Dombey moved his head,  as if  in  a sarcastic acknowledgment of the
attention, and resumed. But not with so much self-possession as before;  for
Edith's quick uneasiness in reference to Florence, and Edith's  indifference
to him and his censure, chafed and galled him like a stiffening wound.
     'Mrs Dombey,' said he, 'it may not be  inconsistent  with my daughter's
improvement to  know  how very much  to be lamented, and how necessary to be
corrected,  a stubborn disposition is, especially when  it is indulged in  -
unthankfully indulged  in, I  will add - after the gratification of ambition
and interest.  Both of which, I believe, had some share in inducing  you  to
occupy your present station at this board.'
     'No! I would not rise, and go away, and save  you the  utterance of one
word,' she repeated, exactly as before, 'if the room were burning.'
     'It may be natural enough, Mrs Dombey,' he pursued, 'that you should be
uneasy in the presence of any auditors of these disagreeable truths;  though
why'  - he could not hide  his  real feeling here,  or keep  his  eyes  from
glancing gloomily at  Florence - 'why anyone can give them greater force and
point  than  myself,  whom  they so  nearly concern,  I  do  not  pretend to
understand.  It may be  natural enough that you  should object  to  hear, in
anybody's presence, that  there  is a rebellious principle  within you which
you cannot  curb  too soon; which you must  curb,  Mrs Dombey;  and which, I
regret to say,  I remember  to  have seen manifested - with  some doubt  and
displeasure, on  more than one occasion before  our marriage  - towards your
deceased mother.  But you have the remedy  in your own hands. I  by no means
forgot,  when I began, that  my daughter was  present, Mrs Dombey. I beg you
will  not forget, to-morrow, that  there  are several persons  present;  and
that, with  some regard  to  appearances, you will receive your company in a
becoming manner.
     'So  it is  not enough,' said  Edith,  'that  you know what  has passed
between yourself and me; it is not enough that you  can look here,' pointing
at Carker,  who still listened, with his eyes cast down, 'and be reminded of
the affronts you have put upon me; it is not enough that you can look here,'
pointing to  Florence with a hand that slightly trembled for  the  first and
only time, 'and  think of what you  have  done, and  of the ingenious agony,
daily, hourly, constant, you have made me feel in doing it; it is not enough
that this day, of all  others in the year, is memorable to me for a struggle
(well-deserved, but  not  conceivable  by such as you) in which I wish I had
died! You add to all this,  do you, the last crowning meanness of making her
a witness of the depth to  which I have fallen; when you know that  you have
made  me sacrifice to her peace, the only gentle feeling and interest of  my
life,  when  you know that  for her sake, I would now if I could - but I can
not, my soul recoils from you too much  - submit myself wholly to your will,
and be the meekest vassal that you have!'
     This  was not  the  way to  minister to Mr Dombey's greatness.  The old
feeling was roused by what she said, into a stronger  and  fiercer existence
than  it had  ever had. Again, his neglected child, at this rough passage of
his life, put  forth by even this rebellious woman, as powerful where he was
powerless, and everything where he was nothing!
     He turned on  Florence, as if it were she who had  spoken, and bade her
leave the room. Florence with her covered face obeyed, trembling and weeping
as she went.
     'I understand, Madam,' said Mr Dombey, with an angry flush  of triumph,
'the spirit of  opposition  that turned your affections in that channel, but
they have been met, Mrs Dombey; they have been met, and turned back!'
     'The  worse for you!' she  answered,  with  her voice and  manner still
unchanged.  'Ay!' for he turned sharply when she said so, 'what is the worse
for me, is twenty million times the worse for  you. Heed  that, if  you heed
nothing else.'
     The arch of diamonds spanning her dark hair, flashed and glittered like
a starry  bridge. There was no warning in them, or they would have turned as
dull and dim as tarnished honour. Carker still sat and  listened,  with  his
eyes cast down.
     'Mrs Dombey,'  said  Mr Dombey, resuming  as  much  as he  could of his
arrogant  composure,  'you  will  not  conciliate  me, or turn  me from  any
purpose, by this course of conduct.'
     'It is the only true although  it  is  a  faint  expression of what  is
within me,' she replied. 'But if I thought it would conciliate  you, I would
repress it, if it were repressible by any  human  effort. I will  do nothing
that you ask.'
     'I am not accustomed to ask, Mrs Dombey,' he observed; 'I direct.'
     'I will hold no place in your house to-morrow, or on any recurrence  of
to-morrow.  I  will be  exhibited to  no one, as  the refractory  slave  you
purchased, such a time. If I kept my marriage  day, I would keep it as a day
of shame. Self-respect! appearances before the world! what are these  to me?
You have done all you can to make them nothing to me, and they are nothing.'
     'Carker,'  said Mr Dombey, speaking  with knitted  brows, and  after  a
moment's consideration, 'Mrs Dombey is so forgetful of herself and me in all
this, and places me  in a position so unsuited to  my character, that I must
bring this state of matters to a close.'
     'Release me,  then,'  said  Edith, immoveable  in voice, in  look,  and
bearing, as  she  had been throughout, 'from  the chain by which I am bound.
Let me go.'
     'Madam?' exclaimed Mr Dombey.
     'Loose me. Set me free!'
     'Madam?' he repeated, 'Mrs Dombey?'
     'Tell  him,' said Edith,  addressing her proud face  to Carker, 'that I
wish  for a separation  between  us, That  there had  better  be one. That I
recommend it to  him, Tell him  it  may take place on his  own terms  -  his
wealth is nothing to me - but that it cannot be too soon.'
     'Good Heaven,  Mrs  Dombey!' said  her husband, with supreme amazement,
'do you imagine it possible that  I could ever listen to such a proposition?
Do you know who I am, Madam? Do you know what I represent? Did you ever hear
of Dombey and Son? People to say that Mr Dombey - Mr Dombey! - was separated
from his wife! Common people to talk of Mr Dombey and his  domestic affairs!
Do you seriously think, Mrs Dombey, that I would permit my name to be banded
about in such connexion? Pooh,  pooh,  Madam! Fie for shame! You're absurd.'
Mr Dombey absolutely laughed.
     But not  as she did. She had  better  have been dead than laugh  as she
did, in reply, with her intent look fixed upon him.  He had better have been
dead, than sitting there, in his magnificence, to hear her.
     'No, Mrs Dombey,' he resumed. 'No, Madam.  There is  no  possibility of
separation  between you  and me, and therefore I the more  advise you to  be
awakened to a sense of duty. And, Carker, as I was about to say to you -
     Mr Carker, who had sat and listened all this time, now raised his eyes,
in which there was a bright unusual light'
     As I was about  to say to you, resumed Mr Dombey, 'I must  beg you, now
that  matters have  come to this, to  inform Mrs Dombey, that  it is not the
rule  of my life to allow myself to be thwarted by anybody - anybody, Carker
- or to suffer anybody to be  paraded as a stronger motive  for obedience in
those who  owe obedience to me than I am my self. The  mention that has been
made of my daughter, and the use  that is made of my daughter, in opposition
to  me,  are  unnatural. Whether my  daughter is in actual concert  with Mrs
Dombey, I do not  know, and do not care; but after  what Mrs Dombey has said
today, and  my daughter  has  heard  to-day, I beg you to  make known to Mrs
Dombey, that if  she continues to make this house the scene of contention it
has become, I shall consider my daughter responsible in some degree, on that
lady's own  avowal, and  shall  visit  her  with my severe  displeasure. Mrs
Dombey  has asked "whether it is not  enough,"  that  she  had done this and
that. You will please to answer no, it is not enough.'
     'A  moment!'  cried  Carker,  interposing,  'permit  me! painful as  my
position is, at the  best,  and unusually painful in seeming to  entertain a
different opinion from you,' addressing  Mr Dombey, 'I must ask, had you not
better reconsider the question of  a separation. I know how incompatible  it
appears with your high public position, and  I know  how determined  you are
when you give  Mrs Dombey to understand' - the  light  in his eyes fell upon
her as he separated his words each from  each, with  the distinctness of  so
many bells  - 'that nothing but death can ever  part  you. Nothing else. But
when you consider that Mrs Dombey, by living in this house, and making it as
you  have said,  a  scene  of  contention,  not only  has  her part in  that
contention, but compromises Miss Dombey every day (for I know how determined
you are), will you  not relieve her from a continual  irritation  of spirit,
and a continual  sense of being unjust to another, almost  intolerable? Does
this  not seem like - I do  not  say it is  - sacrificing Mrs Dombey  to the
preservation of your preeminent and unassailable position?'
     Again the light in his eyes fell upon her, as she stood looking  at her
husband: now with an extraordinary and awful smile upon her face.
     'Carker,' returned Mr Dombey, with a supercilious frown, and in  a tone
that was intended to be final, 'you mistake your position in offering advice
to me  on such a point, and you mistake  me (I am surprised to find) in  the
character of your advice. I have no more to say.
     'Perhaps,' said Carker,  with  an unusual and indefinable taunt in  his
air, 'you mistook my position, when you honoured me with the negotiations in
which  I have  been engaged  here'  - with a motion of his hand towards  Mrs
Dombey.
     'Not at all, Sir, not at all,'  returned the other haughtily. 'You were
employed - '
     'Being an inferior person, for the humiliation of Mrs Dombey. I forgot'
Oh, yes, it was expressly understood!' said Carker. 'I beg your pardon!'
     As  he  bent his  head to  Mr  Dombey, with an  air  of deference  that
accorded ill with  his  words, though they  were humbly spoken, he  moved it
round towards her, and kept his watching eyes that way.
     She had better have turned hideous and dropped dead, than have stood up
with such a smile upon her face, in such a fallen spirit's majesty  of scorn
and beauty. She lifted her hand to the tiara of bright jewels radiant on her
head, and,  plucking it off with a force that dragged and  strained her rich
black hair with  heedless  cruelty, and brought  it tumbling wildly  on  her
shoulders, cast the gems upon  the ground. From  each arm,  she unclasped  a
diamond bracelet, flung it  down, and trod upon the glittering heap. Without
a word, without a shadow on the fire of her bright eye, without abatement of
her awful smile, she looked on Mr Dombey to the last, in moving to the door;
and left him.
     Florence had heard enough before quitting the room,  to know that Edith
loved her yet; that she had suffered for her sake; and that she had kept her
sacrifices quiet, lest they should trouble her peace.  She  did  not want to
speak  to her of this - she could not, remembering to whom she was opposed -
but she wished, in  one silent and affectionate  embrace, to assure her that
she felt it all, and thanked her.
     Her father went out alone, that evening, and Florence issuing  from her
own chamber soon afterwards, went about the house in  search of. Edith,  but
unavailingly. She was in  her own rooms, where Florence  had long  ceased to
go, and did not  dare to venture now, lest she should unconsciously engender
new trouble. Still Florence hoping to meet  her before going to bed, changed
from room to room, and wandered through the house so splendid and so dreary,
without remaining anywhere.
     She was crossing a gallery  of communication that opened at some little
distance on the staircase, and was only lighted on great occasions, when she
saw, through the opening, which was an arch, the figure of a man coming down
some few stairs opposite. Instinctively apprehensive of her father, whom she
supposed it was, she stopped, in the dark, gazing through  the arch into the
light. But it was Mr Carker coming down alone, and looking  over the railing
into  the  hall. No bell was rung to  announce his departure, and no servant
was in attendance. He went down quietly, opened the door for himself, glided
out, and shut it softly after him.
     Her invincible repugnance  to this man, and perhaps the stealthy act of
watching anyone,  which,  even under such innocent  circumstances, is  in  a
manner guilty and  oppressive,  made Florence shake from  head to  foot. Her
blood seemed to run cold. As soon as  she could - for at first she  felt  an
insurmountable dread of moving - she went quickly to her own room and locked
her door; but even  then, shut in with her  dog  beside her,  felt  a  chill
sensation of horror, as if there were danger brooding somewhere near her.
     It  invaded her dreams and  disturbed the  whole  night. Rising  in the
morning,  unrefreshed,  and  with  a  heavy  recollection  of  the  domestic
unhappiness of the  preceding day, she sought Edith again  in all the rooms,
and did so, from time to time, all the morning. But she remained  in her own
chamber,  and Florence saw  nothing  of  her.  Learning,  however,  that the
projected  dinner at home  was  put off, Florence thought it likely that she
would go out in the evening  to fulfil the engagement she had spoken of; and
resolved to try and meet her, then, upon the staircase.
     When the  evening had set in, she heard, from the room in which she sat
on purpose,  a footstep  on  the  stairs that  she  thought to  be  Edith's.
Hurrying out, and up towards her room, Florence met  her immediately, coming
down alone.
     What was Florence's affright and wonder when, at sight of her, with her
tearful face, and outstretched arms, Edith recoiled and shrieked!
     'Don't come near me!' she cried. 'Keep away! Let me go by!'
     'Mama!' said Florence.
     'Don't  call  me by that name! Don't speak to me!  Don't look at  me! -
Florence!'  shrinking back, as Florence  moved  a step  towards  her, 'don't
touch me!'
     As Florence stood transfixed before the  haggard face and staring eyes,
she  noted,  as  in a  dream, that Edith  spread  her  hands over them,  and
shuddering  through all her  form,  and crouching  down  against  the  wall,
crawled by her like some lower animal, sprang up, and fled away.
     Florence dropped upon the stairs in a swoon; and was found there by Mrs
Pipchin, she supposed. She knew nothing more,  until she found herself lying
on her own bed, with Mrs Pipchin and some servants standing round her.
     'Where is Mama?' was her first question.
     'Gone out to dinner,' said Mrs Pipchin.
     'And Papa?'
     'Mr Dombey is in his own room, Miss Dombey,' said Mrs Pipchin, 'and the
best  thing you  can  do, is  to take  off  your things  and  go to bed this
minute.'  This  was  the  sagacious  woman's   remedy  for  all  complaints,
particularly lowness of spirits, and inability to sleep; for which offences,
many young victims in the days of the Brighton Castle  had been committed to
bed at ten o'clock in the morning.
     Without promising obedience,  but on the  plea  of desiring  to be very
quiet,  Florence  disengaged  herself,  as  soon  as  she  could,  from  the
ministration  of Mrs Pipchin and her attendants. Left alone,  she thought of
what had happened on the staircase, at  first in doubt  of its reality; then
with tears; then with an indescribable and terrible alarm, like that she had
felt the night before.
     She determined not to go to bed until Edith returned, and if  she could
not speak to  her,  at  least to  be sure  that she  was safe at  home. What
indistinct and shadowy dread moved Florence to this resolution, she  did not
know, and did not dare  to  think. She only knew that until Edith came back,
there was no repose for her aching head or throbbing heart.
     The evening deepened into night; midnight came; no Edith.
     Florence  could not read, or rest a moment.  She  paced her  own  room,
opened  the door  and paced the staircase-gallery  outside,  looked  out  of
window on the night, listened to the wind blowing and the  rain falling, sat
down and  watched  the faces in the fire, got up and watched the moon flying
like a storm-driven ship through the sea of clouds.
     All the house was gone to bed, except two servants who were waiting the
return of their mistress, downstairs.
     One o'clock.  The carriages that rumbled in the distance,  turned away,
or stopped short, or went past; the silence gradually deepened, and was more
and more  rarely  broken,  save  by a rush  of wind  or  sweep  of rain. Two
o'clock. No Edith!
     Florence, more agitated, paced her room; and paced the gallery outside;
and  looked out at  the night, blurred  and  wavy with the raindrops on  the
glass, and the tears in her own eyes; and looked up at the hurry in the sky,
so different from the repose  below, and yet so tranquil and solitary. Three
o'clock!  There  was a terror in every ash that  dropped out of the fire. No
Edith yet.
     More and more agitated, Florence paced her room, and paced the gallery,
and  looked out at  the moon with a  new  fancy  of  her likeness  to a pale
fugitive  hurrying away and hiding  her  guilty face. Four  struck! Five! No
Edith yet.
     But  now there  was some cautious stir in the house; and Florence found
that Mrs Pipchin had been awakened by one of those who sat up, had risen and
had  gone  down to her  father's door. Stealing lower down  the  stairs, and
observing  what passed, she saw her father come out in his morning gown, and
start when he was told his wife had not come home. He dispatched a messenger
to the stables to inquire whether the coachman was there; and while  the man
was gone, dressed himself very hurriedly.
     The man came back, in  great haste, bringing the coachman with him, who
said he  had been  at home and in  bed, since ten o'clock. He had driven his
mistress to  her old house in  Brook Street,  where  she had been  met by Mr
Carker -
     Florence stood upon the very spot where  she  had seen him coming down.
Again she shivered with the nameless terror  of that sight, and  had  hardly
steadiness enough to hear and understand what followed.
     - Who had told him, the man went on to say, that his mistress would not
want the carriage to go home in; and had dismissed him.
     She saw  her father turn  white  in  the face, and  heard  him ask in a
quick, trembling voice, for Mrs  Dombey's  maid. The whole house was roused;
for she was there, in a moment, very pale too, and speaking incoherently.
     She said she had dressed her mistress early - full two hours before she
went out - and had been told, as she often was, that she would not be wanted
at night. She had just come from her mistress's rooms, but -
     'But  what!  what  was it?'  Florence heard her  father  demand like  a
madman.
     'But the inner dressing-room was locked and the key gone.'
     Her father seized a candle that was flaming on the ground - someone had
put it  down there, and  forgotten it - and came  running upstairs with such
fury, that  Florence,  in her fear, had hardly time to  fly before him.  She
heard him striking in the door, as she ran on, with her hands widely spread,
and her hair streaming, and her face like a distracted person's, back to her
own room.
     When the door yielded, and he rushed in,  what did he see there? No one
knew. But thrown down in  a costly  mass upon the ground, was every ornament
she had  had,  since she had been his wife;  every dress  she had worn;  and
everything she had  possessed. This was  the room  in  which he had seen, in
yonder mirror, the proud face discard him. This was the room in which he had
wondered, idly, how these things would look when he should see them next!
     Heaping them  back into the drawers, and locking them up in a  rage  of
haste, he  saw  some papers  on the  table. The  deed of  settlement  he had
executed on their marriage, and a letter. He read that she was gone. He read
that  he was  dishonoured. He read  that  she  had fled,  upon  her shameful
wedding-day,  with  the man whom he  had chosen for her humiliation; and  he
tore  out of the room, and out  of the house, with a frantic idea of finding
her yet, at the place to which  she had been taken, and beating all trace of
beauty out of the triumphant face with his bare hand.
     Florence,  not knowing  what she did, put on a shawl and  bonnet, in  a
dream  of  running  through  the  streets  until she  found Edith,  and then
clasping her in her arms, to  save  and bring her back. But when she hurried
out  upon the staircase, and saw the frightened  servants going up and  down
with lights, and whispering together, and falling away from her father as he
passed  down,  she awoke to a sense  of her own powerlessness; and hiding in
one of the great rooms that had been made gorgeous for this, felt as if  her
heart would burst with grief.
     Compassion for her father was the first distinct emotion that made head
against the  flood  of  sorrow which  overwhelmed her.  Her constant  nature
turned to him in his  distress,  as fervently and faithfully, as if, in  his
prosperity,  he had been the  embodiment of that  idea which  had  gradually
become  so faint  and dim. Although she did not know, otherwise than through
the  suggestions of a shapeless fear,  the full extent  of his  calamity, he
stood before her, wronged and deserted; and again her yearning love impelled
her to his side.
     He was  not  long away; for Florence was yet weeping in the  great room
and nourishing these thoughts, when she heard him come  back. He ordered the
servants  to  set about their ordinary occupations,  and went  into  his own
apartment,  where he trod so heavily  that she could hear him walking up and
down from end to end.
     Yielding  at once  to the impulse of  her affection, timid at all other
times, but  bold in its truth to him in his adversity, and undaunted by past
repulse, Florence, dressed as  she was, hurried downstairs. As she  set  her
light foot in  the hall, he came out  of his  room. She hastened towards him
unchecked, with her arms stretched out, and crying 'Oh dear, dear Papa!'  as
if she would have clasped him round the neck.
     And so  she would have done. But in  his frenzy, he lifted up his cruel
arm, and struck her, crosswise, with that heaviness,  that  she tottered  on
the marble floor; and as  he dealt the blow, he told her what Edith was, and
bade her follow her, since they had always been in league.
     She  did not  sink  down at his feet; she did not shut out the sight of
him with her trembling hands; she did  not weep; she did  not utter one word
of reproach. But she looked at  him, and a cry of desolation issued from her
heart. For as she looked, she saw him murdering  that fond idea to which she
had held in spite of him. She saw  his cruelty, neglect, and hatred dominant
above it,  and stamping  it down. She saw she had no father upon  earth, and
ran out, orphaned, from his house.
     Ran out  of his house. A moment, and her hand was on the lock,  the cry
was  on  her  lips,  his face  was there,  made paler by  the yellow candles
hastily put down and guttering away, and by the daylight coming in above the
door. Another moment, and the close darkness of the shut-up house (forgotten
to be opened, though it was long since day) yielded to the unexpected  glare
and freedom of  the  morning; and Florence, with her head bent down to  hide
her agony of tears, was in the streets.


     The Flight of Florence

     In the  wildness of her sorrow,  shame, and  terror,  the  forlorn girl
hurried through the sunshine of a bright morning, as if it were the darkness
of  a winter night. Wringing her  hands and weeping bitterly,  insensible to
everything but the deep wound in  her breast, stunned by the loss of all she
loved, left  like the sole  survivor on a lonely shore  from the wreck  of a
great vessel, she fled without a thought, without a hope, without a purpose,
but to fly somewhere anywhere.
     The cheerful vista  of the long street, burnished by the morning light,
the sight  of the  blue sky and  airy clouds, the vigorous  freshness of the
day,  so  flushed  and  rosy  in its  conquest  of  the  night,  awakened no
responsive feelings in her so hurt bosom.  Somewhere, anywhere,  to hide her
head!  somewhere,  anywhere, for refuge,  never more  to look upon the place
from which she fled!
     But  there  were people going to and fro; there were opening shops, and
servants at the doors of houses; there  was the rising clash and roar of the
day's struggle. Florence saw surprise  and  curiosity in the faces  flitting
past her; saw long shadows  coming back upon the pavement; and  heard voices
that were strange to her asking her where she went, and what the matter was;
and though these frightened her the more at first, and made her hurry on the
faster,  they did her the good  service of recalling her  in  some degree to
herself, and reminding her of the necessity of greater composure.
     Where to go? Still somewhere, anywhere! still  going on; but where! She
thought of the only other time she had been lost  in the wild  wilderness of
London - though not lost as now - and went that way. To the home of Walter's
Uncle.
     Checking her sobs,  and drying  her swollen  eyes, and  endeavouring to
calm  the  agitation  of her manner,  so  as  to  avoid  attracting  notice,
Florence, resolving to keep to the more quiet streets as long  as she could,
was going on more quietly herself, when a familiar little shadow darted past
upon the sunny  pavement, stopped  short, wheeled about, came close to  her,
made off  again, bounded  round and  round her,  and  Diogenes,  panting for
breath, and yet making the street ring with his glad bark, was at her feet.
     'Oh, Di! oh, dear,  true, faithful Di, how did you come here? How could
I ever leave you, Di, who would never leave me?'
     Florence bent down on the  pavement,  and laid his rough, old,  loving,
foolish head  against her breast,  and they got  up together,  and  went  on
together;  Di  more off  the ground than  on  it, endeavouring to  kiss  his
mistress flying,  tumbling  over  and getting up  again  without  the  least
concern, dashing at big dogs in a jocose defiance of his species, terrifying
with touches  of his nose young housemaids who were  cleaning doorsteps, and
continually stopping, in the midst of a thousand extravagances, to look back
at  Florence, and bark  until all the  dogs within hearing answered, and all
the dogs who could come out, came out to stare at him.
     With this  last  adherent,  Florence  hurried  away  in  the  advancing
morning, and the  strengthening sunshine,  to the City. The roar  soon  grew
more loud, the passengers  more numerous, the shops more busy, until she was
carried  onward  in  a  stream  of  life  setting  that  way,  and  flowing,
indifferently, past marts and  mansions,  prisons,  churches, market-places,
wealth, poverty, good, and evil,  like the broad river side by side with it,
awakened from its dreams of rushes, willows, and green moss, and rolling on,
turbid and troubled, among the works and cares of men, to the deep sea.
     At length the quarters of  the little  Midshipman arose in view. Nearer
yet, and the little Midshipman  himself was  seen  upon his post, intent  as
ever on his observations.  Nearer yet, and the door stood open, inviting her
to enter. Florence, who had again quickened her pace, as  she approached the
end of her journey,  ran across the road (closely followed by Diogenes, whom
the  bustle  had somewhat confused), ran  in, and sank upon the threshold of
the well-remembered little parlour.
     The Captain,  in his glazed hat, was standing over the fire, making his
morning's   cocoa,   with   that  elegant  trifle,  his   watch,  upon   the
chimney-piece, for  easy  reference  during  the  progress of  the  cookery.
Hearing  a  footstep and  the  rustle of a dress, the Captain  turned with a
palpitating remembrance of the dreadful Mrs  MacStinger, at the instant when
Florence made a motion with her  hand towards him, reeled, and fell upon the
floor.
     The  Captain, pale  as Florence,  pale in  the very knobs upon his face
raised her like a baby, and laid her on the same old sofa upon which she had
slumbered long ago.
     'It's Heart's Delight!' said the Captain, looking intently in her face.
'It's the sweet creetur grow'd a woman!'
     Captain Cuttle was so respectful of her, and  had  such a reverence for
her,  in  this new character, that  he  would not have held her in his arms,
while she was unconscious, for a thousand pounds.
     'My  Heart's  Delight!'  said  the  Captain,  withdrawing  to a  little
distance, with the greatest alarm  and sympathy depicted on his countenance.
'If you can hail Ned Cuttle with a finger, do it!'
     But Florence did not stir.
     'My Heart's Delight!'  said  the trembling  Captain. 'For the  sake  of
Wal'r  drownded  in the  briny  deep, turn  to,  and  histe  up something or
another, if able!'
     Finding her  insensible  to  this impressive  adjuration also,  Captain
Cuttle snatched  from  his  breakfast-table  a  basin  of  cold  water,  and
sprinkled  some upon her  face.  Yielding to the  urgency of the  case,  the
Captain then, using his immense hand with extraordinary gentleness, relieved
her of her bonnet,  moistened  her lips  and  forehead, put back  her  hair,
covered her feet with his  own coat  which  he pulled off  for  the purpose,
patted her hand - so small in his,  that he was struck  with wonder  when he
touched it  - and seeing that her eyelids quivered, and  that her lips began
to move, continued these restorative applications with a better heart.
     'Cheerily,' said the Captain. 'Cheerily! Stand by, my pretty one, stand
by! There! You're better now. Steady's the  word, and steady it is. Keep her
so! Drink  a little drop  o' this  here,' said  the Captain. 'There you are!
What cheer now, my pretty, what cheer now?'
     At  this stage  of  her recovery, Captain  Cuttle,  with  an  imperfect
association  of a Watch with a Physician's treatment of a patient,  took his
own down from the mantel-shelf, and holding it out on his hook,  and  taking
Florence's hand in his, looked steadily from  one to the other, as expecting
the dial to do something.
     'What cheer, my pretty?' said the Captain. 'What cheer now? You've done
her some good, my  lad, I believe,' said  the Captain, under his breath, and
throwing an  approving glance  upon his watch.  'Put  you back  half-an-hour
every morning, and about another quarter towards the arternoon, and you're a
watch as can be ekalled by few  and  excelled by none.  What cheer, my  lady
lass!'
     'Captain Cuttle!  Is  it you?' exclaimed  Florence,  raising herself  a
little.
     'Yes, yes, my lady lass,' said the Captain, hastily deciding in his own
mind upon the superior elegance of that form of address, as the most courtly
he could think of.
     'Is Walter's Uncle here?' asked Florence.
     'Here, pretty?' returned the Captain. 'He  ain't been here this many  a
long day. He ain't been  heerd on,  since he sheered  off arter  poor Wal'r.
But,' said  the  Captain, as a  quotation, 'Though lost  to sight, to memory
dear, and England, Home, and Beauty!'
     'Do you live here?' asked Florence.
     'Yes, my lady lass,' returned the Captain.
     'Oh,  Captain Cuttle!'  cried Florence, putting her hands together, and
speaking wildly. 'Save me! keep me here!  Let no  one know  where I am! I'll
tell you what has happened by-and-by, when I can. I have no one in the world
to go to. Do not send me away!'
     'Send you away, my lady lass!' exclaimed the Captain. 'You, my  Heart's
Delight!  Stay a bit! We'll  put up this here deadlight, and  take  a double
turn on the key!'
     With these words, the Captain, using his one hand and his hook with the
greatest dexterity, got out  the shutter of the door, put it up, made it all
fast, and locked the door itself.
     When  he came back  to  the side of Florence, she  took  his hand,  and
kissed it. The helplessness of the action,  the appeal it  made  to him, the
confidence it expressed,  the  unspeakable sorrow  in her face,  the pain of
mind she had too plainly suffered, and was suffering then, his knowledge  of
her past history, her present  lonely, worn, and unprotected appearance, all
so rushed upon  the  good Captain together, that  he fairly overflowed  with
compassion and gentleness.
     'My lady lass,' said the Captain, polishing the bridge of his nose with
his  arm until it shone  like  burnished copper,  'don't  you say  a word to
Ed'ard Cuttle, until such times as  you finds  yourself a riding  smooth and
easy; which won't be to-day, nor yet to-morrow. And as to giving  of you up,
or  reporting  where you  are, yes  verily, and  by  God's help, so I won't,
Church catechism, make a note on!'
     This  the Captain said, reference and all, in one breath, and with much
solemnity; taking off his hat at 'yes verily,' and putting it on again, when
he had quite concluded.
     Florence could do but one thing more to thank him, and to show  him how
she  trusted in him; and she did  it' Clinging to this rough creature as the
last  asylum of  her bleeding heart,  she  laid  her  head  upon  his honest
shoulder, and clasped  him round his neck,  and would  have  kneeled down to
bless him, but that he divined her purpose, and held her up like a true man.
     'Steady!' said the Captain. 'Steady! You're too weak to stand, you see,
my pretty, and must lie down here again. There, there!'  To see the  Captain
lift her on the sofa, and cover her with his  coat, would have been  worth a
hundred state  sights.  'And now,'  said  the Captain,  'you must  take some
breakfast,  lady lass, and the dog  shall have some too.  And arter that you
shall  go  aloft  to  old  Sol Gills's room,  and fall asleep  there, like a
angel.'
     Captain  Cuttle  patted Diogenes  when  he made  allusion  to  him, and
Diogenes  met that overture graciously, half-way.  During the administration
of the restoratives  he  had clearly been in two minds whether to fly at the
Captain  or to offer him his friendship; and he had expressed  that conflict
of  feeling  by alternate waggings of his tail,  and displays of  his teeth,
with now and then a growl or  so.  But by  this  time,  his doubts were  all
removed. It was plain that he considered the Captain one of the most amiable
of men, and a man whom it was an honour to a dog to know.
     In  evidence of  these  convictions, Diogenes  attended  on the Captain
while he made  some tea  and  toast, and  showed a lively  interest  in  his
housekeeping. But  it  was  in vain  for  the  kind  Captain  to  make  such
preparations for Florence,  who sorely tried to do some honour to them,  but
could touch nothing, and could only weep and weep again.
     'Well, well!'  said the  compassionate Captain,  'arter turning in,  my
Heart's  Delight,  you'll get more  way upon you.  Now, I'll serve  out your
allowance, my lad.' To Diogenes. 'And you shall keep guard  on your mistress
aloft.'
     Diogenes,  however, although  he had been eyeing his intended breakfast
with  a  watering  mouth  and  glistening  eyes,  instead  of  falling   to,
ravenously, when it was  put before him, pricked  up his ears, darted to the
shop-door,  and  barked  there  furiously: burrowing with  his head  at  the
bottom, as if he were bent on mining his way out.
     'Can there be anybody there!' asked Florence, in alarm.
     'No, my  lady lass,' returned the  Captain. 'Who'd stay there,  without
making any noise! Keep up a good heart, pretty. It's only people going by.'
     But  for  all  that,  Diogenes  barked  and  barked,  and burrowed  and
burrowed,  with  pertinacious  fury;  and whenever  he  stopped  to  listen,
appeared  to receive  some new  conviction  into  his  mind,  for he set to,
barking  and burrowing again,  a dozen times. Even when  he was persuaded to
return to his breakfast, he came jogging back to  it, with  a  very doubtful
air; and was off again, in another paroxysm, before touching a morsel.
     'If   there  should  be  someone  listening  and  watching,'  whispered
Florence. 'Someone who saw me come - who followed me, perhaps.'
     'It ain't the young woman, lady lass,  is it?' said the Captain,  taken
with a bright idea
     'Susan?' said Florence, shaking  her head. 'Ah  no! Susan has been gone
from me a long time.'
     'Not  deserted, I  hope?' said the Captain. 'Don't say that  that there
young woman's run, my pretty!'
     'Oh, no, no!' cried Florence.  'She is  one of the truest hearts in the
world!'
     The  Captain was  greatly  relieved  by  this reply, and expressed  his
satisfaction by taking  off his  hard glazed  hat, and dabbing his  head all
over with his handkerchief, rolled up like a ball, observing several  times,
with  infinite complacency, and with a beaming countenance,  that he  know'd
it.
     'So you're quiet now, are you, brother?' said the Captain  to Diogenes.
'There warn't nobody there, my lady lass, bless you!'
     Diogenes was  not so sure of that. The door still had an attraction for
him at intervals; and he went snuffing about it,  and growling  to  himself,
unable to  forget  the  subject. This incident,  coupled  with the Captain's
observation of Florence's fatigue and faintness, decided him to  prepare Sol
Gills's chamber as a  place of retirement  for her immediately. He therefore
hastily  betook  himself to  the  top  of  the  house,  and  made  the  best
arrangement of it that his imagination and his means suggested.
     It was very clean  already;  and the Captain being an orderly man,  and
accustomed to make things ship-shape, converted  the  bed  into a  couch, by
covering it all over with  a clean white  drapery. By a similar contrivance,
the Captain converted the  little dressing-table into a species of altar, on
which he  set forth two  silver  teaspoons,  a flower-pot, a  telescope, his
celebrated watch,  a pocket-comb, and a song-book, as a  small collection of
rarities, that  made a choice appearance.  Having darkened the  window,  and
straightened the pieces of carpet  on  the floor, the Captain surveyed these
preparations with great delight, and descended to  the little parlour again,
to bring Florence to her bower.
     Nothing  would  induce the Captain to believe that  it was possible for
Florence to  walk upstairs. If he could have got the idea  into his head, he
would have considered it an outrageous breach of hospitality to allow her to
do so. Florence  was too  weak to dispute the point, and the Captain carried
her up out of hand, laid her down, and covered her with a great watch-coat.
     'My lady lass!' said the Captain, 'you're as safe here as if you was at
the top of St Paul's Cathedral, with the  ladder cast off. Sleep is what you
want, afore  all  other things, and may you be able  to show yourself  smart
with that there  balsam for the still small woice of  a  wounded  mind! When
there's anything you  want, my Heart's Delight, as this here humble house or
town  can offer, pass  the word to  Ed'ard Cuttle,  as'll  stand off  and on
outside that door, and that  there  man will wibrate  with joy.' The Captain
concluded by kissing  the hand that Florence  stretched out to him, with the
chivalry of any old knight-errant, and walking on tiptoe out of the room.
     Descending to the little parlour, Captain Cuttle, after holding a hasty
council  with himself, decided to open the shop-door for a few minutes,  and
satisfy himself that now, at all events,  there was no  one loitering  about
it. Accordingly he set it open,  and  stood upon  the threshold,  keeping  a
bright look-out, and sweeping the whole street with his spectacles.
     'How de  do,  Captain Gills?' said a  voice  beside him.  The  Captain,
looking down, found that he had been  boarded by Mr Toots while sweeping the
horizon.
     'How are, you, my lad?' replied the Captain.
     'Well, I m  pretty well, thank'ee, Captain Gills,'  said Mr Toots. 'You
know  I'm never quite what I  could wish to be, now. I  don't expect that  I
ever shall be any more.'
     Mr Toots never  approached any nearer than this  to the  great theme of
his life,  when in  conversation with  Captain  Cuttle, on  account  of  the
agreement between them.
     'Captain Gills,' said Mr Toots, 'if I could have the pleasure of a word
with you, it's - it's rather particular.'
     'Why, you see, my lad,'  replied the Captain, leading the way  into the
parlour, 'I ain't what you may call exactly free this morning; and therefore
if you can clap on a bit, I should take it kindly.'
     'Certainly, Captain Gills,' replied Mr Toots, who seldom had any notion
of the Captain's meaning. 'To  clap  on, is exactly what I could wish to do.
Naturally.'
     'If so be, my lad,' returned the Captain. 'Do it!'
     The Captain was so impressed by the possession of his tremendous secret
- by the fact of Miss Dombey  being at that moment under his roof, while the
innocent and unconscious Toots sat  opposite  to him - that  a  perspiration
broke out on his forehead, and he found  it impossible, while  slowly drying
the  same, glazed hat in hand,  to  keep his  eyes off Mr Toots's  face.  Mr
Toots, who himself  appeared to have  some secret  reasons  for  being  in a
nervous state,  was so unspeakably disconcerted by the Captain's stare, that
after  looking  at  him vacantly  for  some time  in silence,  and  shifting
uneasily on his chair, he said:
     'I beg your pardon, Captain Gills, but you don't happen to see anything
particular in me, do you?'
     'No, my lad,' returned the Captain. 'No.'
     'Because you know,' said Mr Toots  with a chuckle, 'I  kNOW I'm wasting
away. You needn't  at  all mind  alluding  to  that. I -  I should  like it.
Burgess and Co. have altered my measure, I'm in that state of thinness. It's
a  gratification  to me. I - I'm glad of it. I  - I'd a great deal rather go
into a  decline, if I could.  I'm  a  mere brute  you know, grazing upon the
surface of the earth, Captain Gills.'
     The more Mr Toots went on in this way, the more the Captain was weighed
down by his secret, and stared  at him. What with this cause  of uneasiness,
and his desire  to get rid of Mr Toots, the Captain was in such a scared and
strange condition, indeed, that if he had been in conversation with a ghost,
he could hardly have evinced greater discomposure.
     'But  I was going  to say, Captain Gills,' said Mr Toots. 'Happening to
be  this way early  this morning  - to tell you the  truth, I was coming  to
breakfast with you. As to sleep, you know,  I never sleep now. I  might be a
Watchman,  except  that  I  don't  get any pay, and he's got nothing on  his
mind.'
     'Carry on, my lad!' said the Captain, in an admonitory voice.
     'Certainly, Captain Gills,' said Mr  Toots. 'Perfectly true!  Happening
to be  this way early this morning (an hour or so ago), and finding the door
shut - '
     'What! were you waiting there, brother?' demanded the Captain.
     'Not  at all, Captain  Gills,'  returned  Mr Toots.  'I didn't  stop  a
moment. I thought you were out. But the person said - by the bye, you  don't
keep a dog, you, Captain Gills?'
     The Captain shook his head.
     'To be sure,' said Mr Toots,  'that's exactly what  I said. I  knew you
didn't. There is  a dog, Captain  Gills,  connected  with  - but excuse  me.
That's forbidden ground.'
     The Captain stared  at Mr Toots until he seemed to swell  to  twice his
natural  size;  and  again  the  perspiration  broke  out  on the  Captain's
forehead, when he thought of Diogenes taking it into  his head to come  down
and make a third in the parlour.
     'The person said,' continued Mr Toots, 'that he had heard a dog barking
in the shop: which I  knew couldn't  be,  and I told him so. But  he  was as
positive as if he had seen the dog.'
     'What person, my lad?' inquired the Captain.
     'Why,  you  see  there it  is, Captain  Gills,' said  Mr Toots,  with a
perceptible increase in the nervousness of  his manner.  'It's not for me to
say what may have taken place,  or what may not have taken  place. Indeed, I
don't  know. I get mixed up  with  all sorts of  things that  I  don't quite
understand, and I think there's something rather weak in my - in my head, in
short.'
     The Captain nodded his own, as a mark of assent.
     'But  the person  said, as we were walking away,'  continued  Mr Toots,
'that you knew what,  under  existing circumstances, might  occur -  he said
"might," very strongly - and that if you were requested to prepare yourself,
you would, no doubt, come prepared.'
     'Person, my lad' the Captain repeated.
     'I don't know  what person, I'm sure, Captain Gills,' replied Mr Toots,
'I  haven't the least  idea. But  coming to the  door, I  found  him waiting
there; and  he said was I coming back again, and I said yes; and he said did
I know  you, and I said, yes, I had the pleasure of your acquaintance  - you
had given  me the pleasure of your acquaintance,  after some persuasion; and
he said, if  that was the case, would  I say to you what  I have said, about
existing circumstances and coming prepared, and  as  soon as ever I saw you,
would I ask you to step round the corner, if  it was only for one minute, on
most important business, to Mr Brogley's the Broker's. Now, I tell you what,
Captain Gills -  whatever  it is, I am convinced it's very important; and if
you like to step round, now, I'll wait here till you come back.'
     The Captain, divided between his fear of compromising  Florence in some
way by not going, and his  horror of leaving Mr Toots in possession  of  the
house with a  chance of finding out the  secret, was a spectacle  of  mental
disturbance  that  even  Mr  Toots could not  be  blind  to. But  that young
gentleman,  considering  his  nautical  friend  as  merely  in  a  state  of
preparation for the interview he was going to have, was quite satisfied, and
did not review his own discreet conduct without chuckle
     At length the Captain decided, as the lesser of two evils, to run round
to Brogley's the  Broker's:  previously  locking the door that  communicated
with the upper part of the house, and putting the key in his  pocket. 'If so
be,' said the Captain to  Mr Toots, with  not a little shame and hesitation,
'as you'll excuse my doing of it, brother.'
     'Captain  Gills,'  returned Mr Toots, 'whatever you do, is satisfactory
to me.
     The Captain thanked him heartily, and promising  to  come back in  less
than five minutes,  went out in  quest of the  person  who had  entrusted Mr
Toots with this mysterious message. Poor Mr Toots, left to himself, lay down
upon the sofa, little thinking who had reclined there last, and,  gazing  up
at  the skylight and resigning  himself to visions of  Miss Dombey, lost all
heed of time and place.
     It was as  well that he did  so; for although the Captain  was not gone
long,  he was  gone much  longer than he had proposed. When he came back, he
was very  pale indeed,  and  greatly agitated, and even looked as  if he had
been shedding tears.  He seemed to have lost the faculty of speech, until he
had been to the cupboard and taken a  dram of rum from the case-bottle, when
he  fetched a deep breath, and  sat down in a chair with his hand before his
face.
     'Captain Gills,' said Toots,  kindly, 'I hope and trust there's nothing
wrong?'
     'Thank'ee, my lad, not a bit,' said the Captain. 'Quite contrairy.'
     'You have the appearance of being overcome, Captain Gills,' observed Mr
Toots.
     'Why, my lad, I am took aback,' the Captain admitted. 'I am.'
     'Is there  anything  I can do, Captain Gills?'  inquired  Mr Toots. 'If
there is, make use of me.'
     The  Captain removed his hand  from his  face, looked  at  him  with  a
remarkable expression of pity and tenderness, and took him by the hand,  and
shook it hard.
     'No, thank'ee,' said the Captain.  'Nothing.  Only  I'll  take it as  a
favour if you'll part company for the present. I believe, brother,' wringing
his hand again, 'that, after Wal'r, and on a different model, you're as good
a lad as ever stepped.'
     'Upon my word and honour, Captain Gills,' returned Mr Toots, giving the
Captain's hand a preliminary slap before shaking it  again, 'it's delightful
to me to possess your good opinion. Thank'ee.
     'And bear  a hand and cheer up,'  said  the Captain, patting him on the
back. 'What! There's more than one sweet creetur in the world!'
     'Not to  me, Captain  Gills,'  replied  Mr Toots gravely. 'Not to me, I
assure  you. The  state  of  my  feelings  towards  Miss Dombey is  of  that
unspeakable description, that my heart is a desert island, and she  lives in
it alone. I'm getting more used up every day, and I'm proud to be so. If you
could see  my legs  when I take my  boots off, you'd form some  idea of what
unrequited affection is. I have been prescribed  bark, but I  don't take it,
for  I don't  wish to have any  tone whatever given to my constitution.  I'd
rather not. This, however, is forbidden ground. Captain Gills, goodbye!'
     Captain  Cuttle  cordially  reciprocating  the  warmth  of  Mr  Toots's
farewell,  locked  the door behind him,  and  shaking his head with the same
remarkable expression of  pity and tenderness  as he  had regarded him  with
before, went up to see if Florence wanted him.
     There was an  entire change in the Captain's face as he  went upstairs.
He wiped his  eyes with his handkerchief, and  he polished the bridge of his
nose with his sleeve as he had done  already that morning, but his face  was
absolutely changed. Now, he might have been thought supremely happy; now, he
might have been  thought sad;  but  the  kind  of gravity that sat  upon his
features was quite new to  them, and was as great an  improvement to them as
if they had undergone some sublimating process.
     He knocked softly, with his hook, at Florence's  door, twice or thrice;
but, receiving  no  answer, ventured first  to  peep in, and then  to enter:
emboldened to take the  latter step, perhaps, by the familiar recognition of
Diogenes, who, stretched upon the ground  by the  side of her couch,  wagged
his tail, and winked his eyes at the Captain,  without  being at the trouble
of getting up.
     She was sleeping heavily, and moaning in her sleep; and Captain Cuttle,
with  a  perfect awe of  her youth,  and beauty, and her  sorrow, raised her
head, and adjusted the coat that covered her, where it had  fallen off,  and
darkened the  window a little more that she  might  sleep on,  and crept out
again,  and took his post  of watch upon  the stairs. All this, with a touch
and tread as light as Florence's own.
     Long  may it remain in this mixed  world a  point not easy of decision,
which  is the  more  beautiful  evidence  of  the  Almighty's goodness - the
delicate fingers  that  are formed for sensitiveness and sympathy of  touch,
and made to minister to pain  and grief, or  the  rough hard Captain  Cuttle
hand, that the heart teaches, guides, and softens in a moment!
     Florence  slept  upon  her  couch,  forgetful of  her  homelessness and
orphanage, and Captain Cuttle watched upon the stairs. A louder sob  or moan
than usual, brought him sometimes to her door; but by degrees she slept more
peacefully, and the Captain's watch was undisturbed.


     The Midshipman makes a Discovery

     It was long before Florence awoke.  The  day was in its  prime, the day
was in  its  wane,  and  still,  uneasy  in  mind and  body, she  slept  on;
unconscious of her strange bed, of the noise and turmoil in the  street, and
of the  light that shone outside  the shaded window. Perfect unconsciousness
of what had happened in the home that existed no more, even the deep slumber
of exhaustion could not produce. Some undefined and mournful recollection of
it,  dozing  uneasily but  never  sleeping, pervaded  all her  rest. A  dull
sorrow, like a half-lulled sense of pain, was always present to her; and her
pale cheek  was  oftener wet with  tears  than  the  honest Captain,  softly
putting in his head from time  to time at the  half-closed door,  could have
desired to see it.
     The sun was getting low in the west,  and, glancing out  of a red mist,
pierced with its  rays opposite  loopholes  and pieces  of fretwork  in  the
spires  of  city churches, as if  with golden arrows that struck through and
through  them - and far away athwart the river and  its  flat banks,  it was
gleaming like a path of  fire - and out at sea  it  was irradiating sails of
ships - and, looked towards, from quiet churchyards,  upon hill-tops  in the
country,  it was steeping distant prospects in a flush and  glow that seemed
to mingle earth and sky  together in one glorious suffusion - when Florence,
opening  her   heavy  eyes,  lay  at  first,  looking  without  interest  or
recognition  at  the unfamiliar walls  around her, and listening in the same
regardless manner to the noises in the street. But  presently she started up
upon  her  couch,  gazed  round  with  a  surprised  and  vacant  look,  and
recollected all.
     'My pretty,' said the Captain, knocking at the door, 'what cheer?'
     'Dear friend,' cried Florence, hurrying to him, 'is it you?'
     The Captain felt so  much pride in the  name, and was so pleased by the
gleam of pleasure in her face, when she saw him, that he kissed his hook, by
way of reply, in speechless gratification.
     'What cheer, bright di'mond?' said the Captain.
     'I have  surely slept very long,'  returned Florence. 'When  did I come
here? Yesterday?'
     'This here blessed day, my lady lass,' replied the Captain.
     'Has there been no night? Is it still day?' asked Florence.
     'Getting on for evening now, my pretty,' said the Captain, drawing back
the curtain of the window. 'See!'
     Florence, with her hand upon the Captain's arm, so sorrowful and timid,
and the Captain with his rough face and burly figure,  so quietly protective
of her, stood in  the rosy light of the bright evening sky, without saying a
word. However strange the form of speech into which he might have  fashioned
the  feeling, if  he had had  to give  it  utterance, the Captain  felt,  as
sensibly  as  the most  eloquent of  men could  have done,  that  there  was
something in  the tranquil time and in  its softened beauty  that would make
the  wounded  heart of Florence overflow;  and that it  was better that such
tears should have their way. So not a word spake Captain Cuttle. But when he
felt his arm clasped closer, and when he felt the lonely head come nearer to
it,  and  lay itself against  his homely  coarse blue  sleeve, he pressed it
gently with his rugged hand, and understood it, and was understood.
     'Better now, my pretty!' said the Captain. 'Cheerily, cheerily, I'll go
down below, and get some dinner ready. Will you come down of your own  self,
arterwards, pretty, or shall Ed'ard Cuttle come and fetch you?'
     As Florence assured him that she was quite able to walk downstairs, the
Captain, though evidently  doubtful of his own hospitality in permitting it,
left her to do  so, and immediately set about roasting a fowl at the fire in
the little parlour. To achieve his cookery with the greater skill, he pulled
off his coat, tucked  up his wristbands, and  put on his glazed hat, without
which  assistant  he  never  applied  himself   to  any  nice  or  difficult
undertaking.
     After cooling her aching head and burning face in the fresh water which
the  Captain's care had provided for  her while she slept, Florence  went to
the  little  mirror  to bind up her  disordered hair. Then she knew -  in  a
moment,  for she  shunned it  instantly,  that on her breast  there was  the
darkening mark of an angry hand.
     Her tears burst forth afresh  at the sight; she was ashamed  and afraid
of  it; but  it moved her to no anger against  him. Homeless and fatherless,
she forgave him everything; hardly thought that she had need to forgive him,
or that she did; but  she fled from the idea of him as she had fled from the
reality, and he was utterly gone  and lost. There was  no such Being in  the
world.
     What to do, or where to  live,  Florence - poor, inexperienced  girl! -
could not yet consider. She  had  indistinct dreams of  finding, a long  way
off, some  little sisters to instruct, who  would be gentle with her, and to
whom, under some feigned name,  she might attach herself, and who would grow
up in  their happy home, and marry, and be good to their old  governess, and
perhaps entrust her, in time, with the education of their own daughters. And
she  thought how  strange  and  sorrowful  it  would be,  thus  to  become a
grey-haired woman, carrying  her secret  to  the grave, when Florence Dombey
was forgotten. But it was all dim and clouded to her now. She only knew that
she  had  no  Father  upon earth,  and she said  so,  many  times,  with her
suppliant head hidden from all, but her Father who was in Heaven.
     Her little stock of money amounted to but a few guineas. With a part of
this, it would be necessary to buy  some clothes, for she had none but those
she wore. She  was too desolate  to think how soon her money would be gone -
too  much a child  in worldly matters to be  greatly troubled on  that score
yet, even if her other trouble had been less. She tried to calm her thoughts
and  stay  her tears; to  quiet  the hurry in her throbbing  head, and bring
herself to believe that what had happened were but the events of a few hours
ago, instead of weeks or months, as they appeared; and went down to her kind
protector.
     The Captain had spread the  cloth with great  care, and was making some
egg-sauce  in a  little saucepan: basting the fowl from time to time  during
the  process with a  strong interest, as it  turned and browned on  a string
before the fire. Having propped Florence up with cushions on the sofa, which
was already  wheeled into a warm corner for her greater comfort, the Captain
pursued  his cooking with extraordinary  skill, making hot gravy in a second
little saucepan, boiling a handful of potatoes in a third, never  forgetting
the  egg-sauce  in the first,  and making an impartial  round of basting and
stirring with  the most useful  of spoons every minute. Besides these cares,
the  Captain had to  keep his eye  on a diminutive frying-pan, in which some
sausages were hissing and bubbling in a most  musical manner; and there  was
never such a radiant cook as the Captain looked, in  the height and  heat of
these functions:  it being impossible to  say whether his face or his glazed
hat shone the brighter.
     The  dinner  being  at length quite  ready,  Captain  Cuttle dished and
served it up, with no less  dexterity than he had cooked it. He then dressed
for dinner, by taking off his glazed hat and putting on his coat. That done,
he  wheeled  the  table  close against  Florence on  the  sofa, said  grace,
unscrewed his hook, screwed his  fork into its place, and did the honours of
the table
     'My  lady lass,' said the  Captain, 'cheer up, and try  to eat a  deal.
Stand by,  my  deary! Liver  wing  it is. Sarse it is.  Sassage  it  is. And
potato!'  all which the Captain ranged symmetrically on a plate, and pouring
hot  gravy  on  the whole with the useful  spoon, set  before  his cherished
guest.
     'The whole  row o' dead lights is up, for'ard, lady lass,' observed the
Captain, encouragingly, 'and everythink is made snug. Try and pick a bit, my
pretty. If Wal'r was here - '
     'Ah! If I had him for my brother now!' cried Florence.
     'Don't! don't take on, my pretty!' said the Captain, 'awast, to obleege
me! He was your nat'ral born friend like, warn't he, Pet?'
     Florence had no words to answer with. She  only said,  'Oh, dear,  dear
Paul! oh, Walter!'
     'The  wery  planks she walked on,' murmured the Captain, looking at her
drooping face, 'was as high esteemed by Wal'r, as the water brooks is by the
hart which never  rejices! I see him now, the  wery day as  he was rated  on
them  Dombey books, a  speaking of her with his face a glistening with doo -
leastways with his modest sentiments  - like a new blowed  rose, at  dinner.
Well, well! If our poor Wal'r was here, my  lady  lass - or if he could be -
for he's drownded, ain't he?'
     Florence shook her head.
     'Yes,  yes; drownded,' said the Captain, soothingly; 'as I was  saying,
if he could be here he'd  beg and pray of you, my precious, to pick a leetle
bit, with  a look-out for your  own sweet health. Whereby, hold your own, my
lady lass,  as if it was  for Wal'r's sake, and lay  your pretty head to the
wind.'
     Florence essayed  to eat a  morsel,  for the  Captain's  pleasure.  The
Captain, meanwhile, who seemed to have quite forgotten his own dinner,  laid
down his knife and fork, and drew his chair to the sofa.
     'Wal'r was a trim  lad,  warn't he,  precious?' said the Captain, after
sitting  for some time  silently rubbing his chin, with his eyes fixed  upon
her, 'and a brave lad, and a good lad?'
     Florence tearfully assented.
     'And  he's drownded, Beauty, ain't he?' said the Captain, in a soothing
voice.
     Florence could not but assent again.
     'He  was  older  than you, my lady lass,' pursued the Captain, 'but you
was like two children together, at first; wam't you?'
     Florence answered 'Yes.'
     'And Wal'r's drownded,' said the Captain. 'Ain't he?'
     The repetition of this inquiry was a curious source of consolation, but
it  seemed to  be one to Captain  Cuttle, for  he came back  to it again and
again. Florence,  fain to push from her her untasted dinner, and to lie back
on her  sofa,  gave  him her  hand,  feeling that  she had disappointed him,
though truly wishing to have pleased him after all  his trouble, but he held
it  in his own (which shook as  he  held it), and appearing  to  have  quite
forgotten all about the dinner and her want of appetite, went on growling at
intervals, in a ruminating tone of sympathy, 'Poor Wal'r. Ay, ay!  Drownded.
Ain't he?' And always  waited for  her  answer, in which the great point  of
these singular reflections appeared to consist.
     The  fowl and  sausages  were  cold, and  the gravy  and the  egg-sauce
stagnant,  before the  Captain remembered that  they were  on the board, and
fell  to  with the assistance  of  Diogenes,  whose united  efforts  quickly
dispatched the  banquet.  The  Captain's delight  and  wonder  at  the quiet
housewifery  of  Florence  in  assisting  to  clear  the table, arrange  the
parlour, and sweep up the  hearth  - only  to be equalled by the fervency of
his protest when  she began to  assist  him - were gradually raised to  that
degree, that at last he could not  choose  but do nothing himself, and stand
looking  at her as if she were some Fairy, daintily performing these offices
for  him;  the red  rim on  his forehead glowing  again, in his  unspeakable
admiration.
     But when Florence, taking  down his  pipe from the mantel-shelf gave it
into  his  hand,  and  entreated him to smoke it, the  good Captain  was  so
bewildered by her attention that he held  it as if he had never held a pipe,
in all  his life. Likewise, when Florence, looking into the little cupboard,
took out the case-bottle and mixed a perfect glass of grog for him, unasked,
and  set  it  at his elbow, his ruddy nose turned  pale, he felt himself  so
graced and honoured. When he  had filled his pipe in an absolute reverie  of
satisfaction, Florence lighted it for  him - the Captain having no  power to
object, or to prevent her - and resuming her place  on the  old sofa, looked
at him with a smile  so loving and so  grateful,  a smile that showed him so
plainly how her forlorn heart turned to him, as her face did, through grief,
that the smoke of the pipe got into the Captain's throat and made him cough,
and got into the Captain's eyes, and made them blink and water.
     The manner in which the Captain tried to make believe that the cause of
these effects lay hidden in the pipe itself, and the way  in which he looked
into the bowl for it, and not finding it there, pretended to blow it out  of
the  stem, was  wonderfully  pleasant.  The pipe soon  getting  into  better
condition, he fell into that state of repose becoming a good smoker; but sat
with his  eyes  fixed on Florence, and, with  a  beaming placidity not to be
described, and stopping every  now and then to discharge a little cloud from
his lips, slowly puffed  it  forth, as if it were a scroll coming out of his
mouth, bearing  the legend  'Poor Wal'r, ay, ay. Drownded, ain't  he?' after
which he would resume his smoking with infinite gentleness.
     Unlike as they were externally -  and there  could  scarcely be a  more
decided contrast than between Florence in her delicate youth and beauty, and
Captain Cuttle with  his knobby face, his great broad weather-beaten person,
and  his  gruff voice -  in  simple innocence  of  the  world's ways and the
world's  perplexities and  dangers, they  were  nearly on  a level. No child
could have surpassed Captain Cuttle in  inexperience of everything but  wind
and weather;  in simplicity, credulity, and  generous  trustfulness.  Faith,
hope, and  charity, shared  his  whole nature  among them.  An  odd  sort of
romance,  perfectly unimaginative,  yet perfectly unreal,  and subject to no
considerations of  worldly prudence or practicability,  was the only partner
they had in his character. As the Captain  sat, and smoked,  and  looked  at
Florence, God knows what impossible pictures, in which she was the principal
figure, presented themselves  to  his  mind.  Equally  vague and  uncertain,
though  not so sanguine, were her own thoughts of the  life  before her; and
even  as her tears made  prismatic colours in  the  light  she gazed at, so,
through her new and heavy grief, she already saw a  rainbow  faintly shining
in the  far-off sky. A wandering princess and a good monster  in a storybook
might  have  sat by  the  fireside, and talked  as  Captain Cuttle  and poor
Florence talked - and not have looked very much unlike them.
     The Captain  was not troubled  with the faintest idea of any difficulty
in retaining Florence, or of any responsibility thereby incurred. Having put
up the shutters and locked the door, he was quite satisfied on this head. If
she had  been a Ward in Chancery, it would have made no difference at all to
Captain Cuttle. He  was the last man in the world to be troubled by any such
considerations.
     So  the Captain  smoked his pipe  very comfortably, and Florence and he
meditated after their own manner. When the pipe was out, they had some  tea;
and then Florence entreated him to take her to some neighbouring shop, where
she could buy  the few necessaries she immediately  wanted. It  being  quite
dark, the  Captain  consented:  peeping carefully  out first, as he had been
wont to do in his  time of  hiding  from  Mrs MacStinger; and arming himself
with his large  stick, in case of an appeal to arms being rendered necessary
by any unforeseen circumstance.
     The pride  Captain  Cuttle  had,  in  giving his arm to  Florence,  and
escorting her some two or three hundred yards, keeping a bright look-out all
the time, and attracting the attention of everyone who  passed them, by  his
great vigilance and numerous precautions, was extreme. Arrived at  the shop,
the Captain felt it a  point  of delicacy to retire during the making of the
purchases,  as they were to consist  of wearing apparel;  but  he previously
deposited his  tin canister on the  counter, and informing the young lady of
the establishment that it contained  fourteen pound  two,  requested her, in
case that amount of property should not be sufficient to defray the expenses
of  his niece's little outfit - at the  word  'niece,' he  bestowed  a  most
significant  look on  Florence, accompanied  with pantomime,  expressive  of
sagacity and mystery - to have the goodness to 'sing out,' and he would make
up the  difference from his pocket. Casually  consulting his big watch, as a
deep means  of dazzling the establishment, and impressing it with a sense of
property, the Captain then kissed his hook to his niece, and retired outside
the window, where  it was a choice sight to see  his great face  looking  in
from time to time, among the  silks  and ribbons,  with an obvious misgiving
that Florence had been spirited away by a back door.
     'Dear Captain Cuttle,' said  Florence, when she came out with a parcel,
the size of which  greatly disappointed the Captain, who had expected to see
a porter following with a bale of goods, 'I don't want this money, indeed. I
have not spent any of it. I have money of my own.'
     'My lady lass,' returned the baffled Captain, looking straight down the
street before them, 'take care on it for me, will  you be so good, till such
time as I ask ye for it?'
     'May I  put it back in its  usual place,' said  Florence,  'and keep it
there?'
     The Captain was not at all gratified by this proposal, but he answered,
'Ay, ay, put it anywheres, my lady lass,  so long as you know where  to find
it again. It ain't  o' no use  to me,' said the Captain. 'I wonder I haven't
chucked it away afore now.
     The Captain  was quite disheartened for the moment, but  he revived  at
the  first  touch  of Florence's  arm,  and  they  returned  with  the  same
precautions  as they  had come;  the Captain opening the  door of the little
Midshipman's  berth,  and  diving  in,  with a  suddenness which  his  great
practice  only  could have  taught  him.  During Florence's  slumber in  the
morning, he  had  engaged the daughter  of an  elderly lady who  usually sat
under a blue umbrella in Leadenhall Market, selling poultry, to come and put
her room in order, and render her any little services she required; and this
damsel now appearing, Florence found everything about  her as convenient and
orderly, if not as  handsome, as in  the terrible dream  she had once called
Home.
     When they were alone again,  the Captain insisted on her eating a slice
of  dry toast'  and  drinking a  glass of spiced  negus  (which he  made  to
perfection); and, encouraging her with every kind  word and  inconsequential
quotation be could possibly think of, led her upstairs to  her  bedroom. But
he too had something on his mind, and was not easy in his manner.
     'Good-night,  dear  heart,'   said   Captain   Cuttle  to  her  at  her
chamber-door.
     Florence raised her lips to his face, and kissed him.
     At  any other time  the Captain  would have been overbalanced by such a
token of her affection and gratitude; but now, although he was very sensible
of it, he looked in her face with even more uneasiness than he had testified
before, and seemed unwilling to leave her.
     'Poor Wal'r!' said the Captain.
     'Poor, poor Walter!' sighed Florence.
     'Drownded, ain't he?' said the Captain.
     Florence shook her head, and sighed.
     'Good-night, my lady lass!' said Captain Cuttle, putting out his hand.
     'God bless you, dear, kind friend!'
     But the Captain lingered still.
     'Is anything the  matter, dear Captain  Cuttle?'  said Florence, easily
alarmed in her then state of mind. 'Have you anything to tell me?'
     'To tell  you, lady lass!' replied  the  Captain,  meeting  her eyes in
confusion. 'No, no; what should I have to tell you, pretty! You don't expect
as I've got anything good to tell you, sure?'
     'No!' said Florence, shaking her head.
     The  Captain looked at  her wistfully, and  repeated 'No,'  -  '  still
lingering, and still showing embarrassment.
     'Poor Wal'r!' said the Captain. 'My Wal'r, as  I used to  call you! Old
Sol Gills's nevy! Welcome to all as knowed you, as the flowers in May! Where
are you got to, brave boy? Drownded, ain't he?'
     Concluding  his apostrophe  with  this  abrupt appeal to  Florence, the
Captain  bade  her  good-night,  and descended the  stairs,  while  Florence
remained at  the top, holding the candle out to light him down. He was  lost
in the obscurity, and, judging from the sound of his receding footsteps, was
in the act  of turning into the little parlour, when his head  and shoulders
unexpectedly emerged  again, as  from  the  deep, apparently  for  no  other
purpose  than to repeat, 'Drownded, ain't  he, pretty?' For when he had said
that in a tone of tender condolence, he disappeared.
     Florence was very sorry that she should unwittingly,  though naturally,
have  awakened these associations  in the  mind of her protector,  by taking
refuge there; and sitting down before the little table where the Captain had
arranged  the telescope and song-book, and  those other rarities, thought of
Walter, and  of all that was connected with him in the past, until she could
have almost wished to lie down on her bed  and fade away. But in  her lonely
yearning to the dead whom she had loved, no thought of home - no possibility
of going back - no  presentation of it as yet existing, or as sheltering her
father - once  entered her  thoughts. She  had seen the murder done.  In the
last lingering natural  aspect  in which  she had  cherished him through  so
much, he had been  torn out of her heart, defaced, and slain. The thought of
it was so appalling to her, that  she covered her eyes, and shrunk trembling
from the least remembrance of the deed, or of the cruel hand that did it. If
her fond  heart could  have held his image after that, it must  have broken;
but it could not; and the  void was filled with a wild dread  that fled from
all  confronting with its shattered fragments - with  such  a dread as could
have risen out of nothing but the depths of such a love, so wronged.
     She dared not look into the glass; for the sight of  the darkening mark
upon  her  bosom  made  her afraid of  herself, as  if she  bore  about  her
something wicked.  She covered it  up, with a hasty, faltering hand, and  in
the dark; and laid her weary head down, weeping.
     The  Captain did not go to bed for a long time. He walked to and fro in
the shop and in the little parlour, for  a full hour, and, appearing to have
composed  himself by that  exercise, sat  down with a  grave  and thoughtful
face, and read out of a Prayer-book the forms of prayer appointed to be used
at sea. These were not easily disposed of;  the good Captain being  a mighty
slow, gruff reader, and  frequently stopping at a hard word to give  himself
such encouragement as Now, my lad! With a will!' or, 'Steady, Ed'ard Cuttle,
steady!'  which  had a  great effect in helping  him  out of any difficulty.
Moreover, his spectacles greatly interfered with  his  powers of vision. But
notwithstanding  these drawbacks, the  Captain,  being heartily  in earnest,
read  the service to the very last line, and  with genuine  feeling too; and
approving  of it very  much  when he had done, turned in, under the  counter
(but not before he had been upstairs, and listened at Florence's door), with
a serene breast, and a most benevolent visage.
     The  Captain turned  out several times  in the  course of the night, to
assure himself that his charge  was  resting quietly; and once, at daybreak,
found that she was awake: for she called to know if it were  he, on  hearing
footsteps near her door.
     'Yes' my  lady lass,' replied the Captain, in a growling whisper.  'Are
you all right, di'mond?'
     Florence thanked him, and said 'Yes.'
     The Captain could not lose so favourable an opportunity of applying his
mouth  to the keyhole, and calling through it,  like a hoarse  breeze, 'Poor
Wal'r! Drownded, ain't he?' after which he withdrew, and turning  in  again,
slept till seven o'clock.
     Nor was he  free from  his uneasy  and embarrassed manner all that day;
though  Florence, being busy with her needle in the little parlour, was more
calm and tranquil than she had been on the day preceding. Almost always when
she raised her eyes from her  work, she observed the captain looking at her,
and  thoughtfully stroking his  chin; and he  so often hitched his arm-chair
close to  her, as if  he were going to say something very confidential,  and
hitched it away again, as not being able to make up  his mind how  to begin,
that in  the course  of the day  he cruised completely round the  parlour in
that  frail bark, and more than once went ashore against the wainscot or the
closet door, in a very distressed condition.
     It was  not until the twilight  that  Captain Cuttle,  fairly  dropping
anchor, at last, by  the side of Florence, began to talk at all connectedly.
But when the light of  the fire  was shining on the walls and ceiling of the
little room, and on the  tea-board and the cups and saucers that were ranged
upon the  table,  and  on  her  calm  face  turned  towards  the flame,  and
reflecting it in the tears  that filled  her eyes, the Captain  broke a long
silence thus:
     'You never was at sea, my own?'
     'No,' replied Florence.
     'Ay,'  said  the Captain,  reverentially;  'it's  a  almighty  element.
There's  wonders  in  the deep,  my pretty. Think on  it  when the  winds is
roaring and the waves is  rowling. Think on it when the  stormy nights is so
pitch dark,' said the Captain, solemnly holding up his  hook,  'as you can't
see  your hand  afore  you, excepting when the  wiwid lightning reweals  the
same; and when you drive, drive, drive through the storm and dark, as if you
was a driving, head on, to the world without end, evermore,  amen, and  when
found making a note of. Them's the  times, my beauty, when a  man may say to
his  messmate   (previously  a   overhauling  of   the  wollume),  "A  stiff
nor'wester's blowing, Bill; hark, don't you hear it roar now! Lord help 'em,
how I pitys all unhappy folks ashore now!"' Which quotation, as particularly
applicable to  the  terrors of the ocean,  the  Captain  delivered in a most
impressive manner, concluding with a sonorous 'Stand by!'
     'Were you ever in a dreadful storm?' asked Florence.
     'Why ay, my lady lass, I've  seen my share  of  bad weather,' said  the
Captain, tremulously wiping his  head, 'and  I've  had my share of  knocking
about; but - but it ain't  of myself as  I  was a meaning to speak. Our dear
boy,' drawing closer to her, 'Wal'r, darling, as was drownded.'
     The Captain  spoke in such a  trembling voice, and looked  at  Florence
with a face so pale and agitated, that she clung to his hand in affright.
     'Your  face is changed,' cried Florence. 'You are  altered in a moment.
What is it? Dear Captain Cuttle, it turns me cold to see you!'
     'What! Lady lass,' returned  the Captain, supporting her with his hand,
'don't  be took aback.  No, no! All's well, all's well, my  dear. As I was a
saying - Wal'r - he's - he's drownded. Ain't he?'
     Florence looked at him intently; her colour came and went; and she laid
her hand upon her breast.
     'There's perils and dangers on the deep, my beauty,' said  the Captain;
'and over many  a  brave ship, and many and  many a bould heart, the  secret
waters has closed up, and  never told no tales. But there's escapes upon the
deep,  too, and  sometimes one man  out  of  a score, - ah!  maybe out  of a
hundred, pretty, -  has been saved by  the mercy of God, and come home after
being given over  for dead, and told of all hands lost. I - I  know a story,
Heart's Delight,' stammered the  Captain, 'o' this natur, as was told to  me
once; and being on this here tack, and you and me sitting alone by the fire,
maybe you'd like to hear me tell it. Would you, deary?'
     Florence, trembling with an agitation which  she could  not control  or
understand, involuntarily  followed  his glance,  which went behind her into
the shop, where a lamp was  burning. The instant  that she turned  her head,
the Captain sprung out of his chair, and interposed his hand.
     'There's  nothing there, my beauty,'  said  the  Captain.  'Don't  look
there.'
     'Why not?' asked Florence.
     The Captain murmured something about its being dull that way, and about
the fire being cheerful. He drew the door ajar, which had been standing open
until now, and resumed his  seat.  Florence followed him  with her eyes, and
looked intently in his face.
     'The story was  about  a ship, my lady  lass,'  began the Captain,  'as
sailed  out of the Port  of  London, with  a fair wind and in fair  weather,
bound for - don't be took  aback,  my lady lass, she was only out'ard bound,
pretty, only out'ard bound!'
     The  expression on Florence's face alarmed the Captain, who was himself
very hot and flurried, and showed scarcely less agitation than she did.
     'Shall I go on, Beauty?' said the Captain.
     'Yes, yes, pray!' cried Florence.
     The  Captain made a gulp as  if to get down something that was sticking
in his throat, and nervously proceeded:
     'That there unfort'nate ship met with such foul weather, out at sea, as
don't blow once in twenty  year,  my darling. There was hurricanes ashore as
tore  up forests and blowed down towns, and there was gales  at sea  in them
latitudes, as not the stoutest wessel ever launched could live in. Day arter
day that  there unfort'nate  ship behaved noble, I'm told, and  did her duty
brave,  my  pretty, but at one  blow a'most her  bulwarks was stove  in, her
masts and rudder carved away, her best man swept overboard, and  she left to
the  mercy  of  the storm as  had no mercy but blowed harder and harder yet,
while the waves dashed over her, and beat her in, and every time they come a
thundering at  her, broke  her  like a  shell.  Every black  spot  in  every
mountain of water that rolled away was a bit o' the ship's life  or a living
man,  and  so  she went to pieces, Beauty, and no grass will never grow upon
the graves of them as manned that ship.'
     'They were not all lost!' cried Florence. 'Some were saved! - Was one?'
     'Aboard  o'  that there  unfort'nate wessel,' said the  Captain, rising
from   his  chair,  and  clenching  his  hand  with  prodigious  energy  and
exultation, 'was a lad, a gallant lad - as I've heerd tell - that had loved,
when he was a boy, to read and talk about brave actions in shipwrecks - I've
heerd him! I've heerd him! - and he remembered of  'em in his hour of  need;
for  when the  stoutest  and  oldest hands  was hove  down, he  was firm and
cheery. It warn't the want of  objects to like and love ashore that gave him
courage, it was his nat'ral mind. I've seen it  in his face, when he  was no
more than a child - ay, many a time! - and when I thought it nothing but his
good looks, bless him!'
     'And was he saved!' cried Florence. 'Was he saved!'
     'That brave  lad,' said the Captain, - 'look at me, pretty!  Don't look
round - '
     Florence had hardly power to repeat, 'Why not?'
     'Because there's nothing there, my deary,' said the Captain.  'Don't be
took aback, pretty creetur! Don't, for the sake of Wal'r, as was dear to all
on us! That there lad,' said  the Captain, 'arter working with the best, and
standing  by the  faint-hearted, and never making no complaint  nor  sign of
fear,  and keeping up a spirit in all hands that made 'em honour  him  as if
he'd been a admiral - that lad, along with the second-mate  and  one seaman,
was left,  of all the beatin' hearts  that went aboard  that ship, the  only
living creeturs  - lashed  to a fragment  of the wreck,  and driftin' on the
stormy sea.
     Were they saved?' cried Florence.
     'Days  and nights  they  drifted  on  them  endless  waters,'  said the
Captain,  'until at last - No!  Don't look that  way, pretty! - a  sail bore
down  upon 'em, and they was, by the Lord's  mercy, took aboard: two  living
and one dead.'
     'Which of them was dead?' cried Florence.
     'Not the lad I speak on,' said the Captain.
     'Thank God! oh thank God!'
     'Amen!' returned the  Captain hurriedly. 'Don't be took aback! A minute
more, my lady lass! with a good heart! - aboard that ship, they  went a long
voyage, right away across  the chart (for there warn't no touching nowhere),
and on  that voyage the  seaman as  was  picked up with him died. But he was
spared, and - '
     The Captain, without knowing what he did, had cut a slice of bread from
the loaf, and put  it on  his hook  (which  was his usual toasting-fork), on
which he now held it to the fire; looking behind Florence with great emotion
in his face, and suffering the bread to blaze and burn like fuel.
     'Was spared,' repeated Florence, 'and-?'
     'And  come home in that ship,' said the  Captain, still looking in  the
same direction, 'and  - don't be  frightened, pretty - and landed;  and  one
morning come cautiously  to his own door to take a obserwation, knowing that
his  friends would think him drownded, when he sheered off at the unexpected
- '
     'At the unexpected barking of a dog?' cried Florence, quickly.
     'Yes,' roared the Captain.  'Steady, darling! courage! Don't look round
yet. See there! upon the wall!'
     There  was  the shadow of a man upon the wall close to her. She started
up, looked round, and with a piercing cry, saw Walter Gay behind her!
     She had  no thought of him but as a brother, a brother rescued from the
grave;  a  shipwrecked brother  saved  and at  her side; and rushed into his
arms.  In  all the  world,  he seemed  to be her  hope, her comfort, refuge,
natural protector. 'Take care of Walter,  I was  fond of  Walter!'  The dear
remembrance of the plaintive voice that  said so, rushed upon her soul, like
music in the night. 'Oh welcome home, dear Walter! Welcome to  this stricken
breast!' She felt the words, although she could not utter them, and held him
in her pure embrace.
     Captain Cuttle, in  a fit  of delirium, attempted to wipe his head with
the blackened toast  upon his hook: and  finding it an uncongenial substance
for the purpose, put it into the crown of his glazed hat, put the glazed hat
on with some difficulty, essayed to sing  a  verse of Lovely Peg, broke down
at the first word,  and retired into the shop, whence he presently came back
express, with a face all  flushed  and besmeared,  and the starch completely
taken out of his shirt-collar, to say these words:
     'Wal'r,  my lad, here is a  little bit of property as I should  wish to
make over, jintly!'
     The  Captain  hastily  produced  the  big  watch,  the  teaspoons,  the
sugar-tongs, and the canister, and laying them on the table, swept them with
his great hand into Walter's hat; but in handing that singular strong box to
Walter,  he was so overcome  again, that he was fain to make another retreat
into the shop, and absent himself for a longer  space  of  time than  on his
first retirement.
     But Walter sought him out, and brought him back; and then the Captain's
great apprehension  was, that Florence would suffer from this new shock.  He
felt  it  so  earnestly,  that  he  turned quite  rational,  and  positively
interdicted any further allusion  to  Walter's adventures for  some days  to
come. Captain Cuttle then became sufficiently composed to relieve himself of
the toast in  his hat, and to take  his  place at the tea-board; but finding
Walter's grasp upon  his shoulder, on one  side, and Florence whispering her
tearful congratulations on the other, the Captain suddenly bolted again, and
was missing for a good ten minutes.
     But  never  in  all  his  life  had the  Captain's  face  so  shone and
glistened, as when,  at last, he  sat stationary  at the  tea-board, looking
from  Florence to Walter, and from  Walter to Florence.  Nor was this effect
produced or at all heightened by  the immense quantity of  polishing he  had
administered to his face with his coat-sleeve during  the last half-hour. It
was solely  the  effect  of his  internal  emotions. There  was  a glory and
delight within the  Captain that spread itself over his  whole  visage,  and
made a perfect illumination there.
     The pride with which the Captain looked upon  the bronzed cheek and the
courageous eyes of his recovered boy; with which he saw the generous fervour
of his youth, and all its frank and hopeful qualities, shining once more, in
the  fresh,  wholesome  manner,  and the  ardent  face,  would  have kindled
something of this light in his countenance. The admiration and sympathy with
which  he turned his eyes  on  Florence, whose beauty, grace,  and innocence
could have won  no truer or more zealous champion  than himself, would  have
had an equal influence upon him. But the  fulness of the glow he shed around
him  could  only  have been  engendered  in  his  contemplation  of the  two
together, and in all  the fancies  springing out of  that association,  that
came sparkling and beaming into his head, and danced about it.
     How  they  talked of  poor  old Uncle  Sol,  and dwelt on every  little
circumstance relating to his disappearance; how their joy was  moderated  by
the old man's absence and by the  misfortunes of Florence; how they released
Diogenes,  whom the  Captain had decoyed  upstairs some time before, lest he
should bark again; the Captain, though he was in one  continual flutter, and
made many more short plunges  into  the shop, fully comprehended.  But he no
more  dreamed  that Walter looked on  Florence, as it were,  from a  new and
far-off place; that while his eyes often sought the lovely face, they seldom
met its open glance of sisterly affection, but withdrew themselves when hers
were raised towards him; than he believed that it was Walter's ghost who sat
beside him. He saw them together in their youth and beauty, and he knew  the
story of  their younger days, and he had  no inch of room  beneath his great
blue  waistcoat for anything save admiration of  such a pair,  and gratitude
for their being reunited.
     They sat thus, until it grew late. The Captain would  have been content
to sit so for a week. But Walter rose, to take leave for the night.
     'Going, Walter!' said Florence. 'Where?'
     'He slings  his  hammock  for  the  present, lady  lass,'  said Captain
Cuttle, 'round at Brogley's. Within hail, Heart's Delight.'
     'I am the cause of your going away, Walter,' said Florence. 'There is a
houseless sister in your place.'
     'Dear Miss Dombey,' replied Walter, hesitating - 'if it is not too bold
to call you so!
     Walter!' she exclaimed, surprised.
     'If anything could make me happier in being allowed to see and speak to
you, would  it not be the discovery that I had any  means on  earth of doing
you a moment's service! Where would I not go, what would  I not do, for your
sake?'
     She smiled, and called him brother.
     'You are so changed,' said Walter -
     'I changed!' she interrupted.
     'To me,' said Walter, softly, as if he were thinking aloud, 'changed to
me. I left you such a child, and find you - oh! something so different - '
     'But  your sister, Walter. You have  not  forgotten what we promised to
each other, when we parted?'
     'Forgotten!' But he said no more.
     'And  if  you had - if  suffering  and danger  had driven it from  your
thoughts - which it has not - you would  remember  it now, Walter, when  you
find me poor and abandoned, with no home  but this, and no  friends but  the
two who hear me speak!'
     'I would! Heaven knows I would!' said Walter.
     'Oh, Walter,'  exclaimed  Florence,  through her  sobs and tears. 'Dear
brother! Show me  some  way through the  world - some humble path that I may
take  alone, and labour  in,  and sometimes think  of you as  one  who  will
protect  and  care  for  me as for a sister! Oh, help me, Walter, for I need
help so much!'
     'Miss Dombey!  Florence! I would die to help you. But your  friends are
proud and rich. Your father - '
     'No, no! Walter!' She shrieked, and put her hands up to her head, in an
attitude of  terror  that transfixed  him where he  stood.  'Don't say  that
word!'
     He  never, from that hour,  forgot the  voice and  look with which  she
stopped him at the name. He felt that if he were to live a hundred years, he
never could forget it.
     Somewhere - anywhere  - but  never  home! All past, all gone, all lost,
and broken up! The whole history of  her untold slight and suffering was  in
the cry and look; and he felt he never could forget it, and he never did.
     She laid her gentle face  upon the Captain's shoulder,  and related how
and why she had fled. If every sorrowing tear she shed in doing so, had been
a curse  upon the head of  him she never named or blamed, it would have been
better for him, Walter thought, with awe, than to be renounced out of such a
strength and might of love.
     'There,  precious!'  said  the  Captain,  when  she  ceased;  and  deep
attention  the  Captain had paid to her while she spoke; listening, with his
glazed hat all awry and his mouth wide open. 'Awast, awast, my  eyes! Wal'r,
dear lad, sheer off for to-night, and leave the pretty one to me!'
     Walter took her hand in both of his, and put it to his lips, and kissed
it. He  knew now that she was, indeed,  a  homeless wandering fugitive; but,
richer to him so, than in all the wealth and pride of her right station, she
seemed  farther off than  even on  the height that had made him giddy in his
boyish dreams.
     Captain Cuttle,  perplexed by no such meditations, guarded Florence  to
her room,  and watched at intervals upon the charmed ground outside her door
- for such it truly was to him - until he felt sufficiently easy in his mind
about  her, to turn  in under the  counter. On abandoning his watch for that
purpose, he could not help calling  once, rapturously, through the  keyhole,
'Drownded. Ain't he, pretty?'  - or, when  he got downstairs, making another
trial at that verse of Lovely Peg.  But it stuck in his  throat somehow, and
he  could  make nothing of it; so he went to bed, and  dreamed  that old Sol
Gills was  married  to Mrs MacStinger,  and kept prisoner by that lady  in a
secret chamber on a short allowance of victuals.


     Mr Toots's Complaint

     There was an empty room above-stairs at the wooden Midshipman's, which,
in days of yore, had been  Walter's bedroom. Walter, rousing up  the Captain
betimes  in the  morning,  proposed  that  they  should carry  thither  such
furniture out of the little parlour as would grace it best, so that Florence
might take possession  of  it  when  she  rose.  As  nothing could  be  more
agreeable to Captain Cuttle than making himself very red and short of breath
in  such  a cause, he turned  to (as he himself said) with a will; and, in a
couple of hours, this  garret was transformed into  a species of land-cabin,
adorned with all the  choicest moveables out of  the parlour, inclusive even
of the Tartar frigate, which the Captain hung up over the chimney-piece with
such  extreme delight, that he could do nothing  for half-an-hour afterwards
but walk backward from it, lost in admiration.
     The Captain could  be  indueed by no persuasion of Walter's  to wind up
the big watch, or to take back the canister, or to touch the sugar-tongs and
teaspoons.  'No,  no,  my lad;'  was the Captain's  invariable reply to  any
solicitation  of  the kind, 'I've  made  that  there  little property  over,
jintly.' These words he repeated with great  unction  and gravity, evidently
believing that they had the virtue of  an Act of Parliament, and that unless
he committed himself  by some  new admission of ownership,  no flaw could be
found in such a form of conveyance.
     It was  an advantage of the new arrangement, that  besides  the greater
seclusion it afforded Florence, it admitted of the Midshipman being restored
to his usual post of observation, and also of the shop shutters being  taken
down. The latter ceremony, however little importance the unconscious Captain
attached to  it, was  not wholly superfluous; for, on the previous  day,  so
much excitement had  been  occasioned in  the neighbourhood, by the shutters
remaining unopened, that the Instrument-maker's house had been honoured with
an unusual share of public observation, and had been intently stared at from
the opposite  side of  the way,  by  groups  of hungry gazers,  at any  time
between sunrise and sunset. The  idlers  and vagabonds had been particularly
interested in the Captain's fate; constantly grovelling in the  mud to apply
their  eyes to the  cellar-grating,  under the shop-window,  and  delighting
their imaginations with the fancy that they could see a piece of his coat as
he  hung in a corner; though this settlement  of him was stoutly disputed by
an opposite faction, who were of opinion that he lay murdered with a hammer,
on  the stairs. It was not without exciting some discontent, therefore, that
the subject  of these rumours was seen  early in the morning standing at his
shop-door as hale and hearty  as if  nothing had happened; and the beadle of
that quarter, a  man of an ambitious character, who had expected to have the
distinction of being present at the breaking open of the door, and of giving
evidence in  full uniform before  the coroner,  went so far as  to say to an
opposite neighbour, that the chap in the glazed hat had better not try it on
there  -  without more particularly mentioning what -  and further, that he,
the beadle, would keep his eye upon him.
     'Captain Cuttle,' said Walter,  musing, when  they  stood resting  from
their labours at  the shop-door, looking  down the old  familiar  street; it
being still early  in the morning; 'nothing at all of Uncle Sol, in all that
time!'
     'Nothing at all, my lad,' replied the Captain, shaking his head.
     'Gone in search  of  me, dear,  kind old man,'  said Walter: 'yet never
write to you! But  why not? He says, in effect, in this packet that you gave
me,' taking the paper from his pocket, which had been opened in the presence
of  the enlightened Bunsby,  'that if you never hear from him before opening
it,  you  may believe  him dead. Heaven forbid! But you would have  heard of
him,  even if he were  dead!  Someone would  have  written,  surely, by  his
desire,  if he could not; and have said, "on such a day,  there  died  in my
house," or "under  my  care," or  so forth, "Mr Solomon Gills of London, who
left this last remembrance and this last request to you".'
     The  Captain,  who  had  never  climbed  to  such  a  clear  height  of
probability before, was greatly  impressed by the  wide prospect  it opened,
and answered, with a thoughtful shake of his head,  'Well said, my lad; wery
well said.'
     'I have been thinking of this, or,  at least,'  said Walter, colouring,
'I  have been thinking of  one thing and  another,  all through  a sleepless
night, and I cannot believe,  Captain Cuttle,  but  that my Uncle  Sol (Lord
bless him!) is alive, and will  return. I don't so much  wonder at his going
away,  because,  leaving out of consideration that spice of  the  marvellous
which was  always in his character, and his  great affection for me,  before
which every other consideration of his life became nothing, as no one  ought
to know so well as I who  had  the best of fathers in him,' - Walter's voice
was indistinct  and  husky here, and he looked  away,  along  the  street, -
'leaving that out of consideration, I  say, I  have often  read and heard of
people  who, having some near and  dear  relative,  who  was supposed to  be
shipwrecked at  sea, have  gone  down to live on  that part of the sea-shore
where any tidings of the missing ship  might be  expected to  arrive, though
only an hour or two sooner  than elsewhere, or have even gone upon her track
to  the  place  whither  she was  bound,  as  if  their going  would  create
intelligence. I  think I should do such a thing myself, as soon as  another,
or sooner than many, perhaps. But why my  Uncle shouldn't write to you, when
he so clearly intended to do  so, or  how he should die abroad,  and you not
know it through some other hand, I cannot make out.'
     Captain  Cuttle observed, with a  shake of  his head, that  Jack Bunsby
himself hadn't  made it  out, and  that he was a man as could give  a pretty
taut opinion too.
     'If  my Uncle had  been a heedless young man, likely to be entrapped by
jovial company to some drinking-place, where he was to be got rid of for the
sake of what money he might have about him,' said Walter; 'or if he had been
a reckless sailor, going ashore with two or three months' pay in his pocket,
I could understand his disappearing, and leaving no trace behind. But, being
what he was - and is, I hope - I can't believe it.'
     'Wal'r,  my  lad,'  inquired the  Captain,  wistfully eyeing him  as he
pondered and pondered, 'what do you make of it, then?'
     'Captain Cuttle,' returned Walter, 'I don't know what to make  of it. I
suppose he never has written! There is no doubt about that?'
     'If  so  be  as  Sol   Gills  wrote,  my  lad,'  replied  the  Captain,
argumentatively, 'where's his dispatch?'
     'Say that he entrusted it to some private hand,' suggested Walter, 'and
that it has been  forgotten, or carelessly  thrown aside, or lost. Even that
is more probable to  me, than the other event. In short,  I not  only cannot
bear  to  contemplate that other  event,  Captain Cuttle, but I  can't,  and
won't.'
     'Hope, you  see, Wal'r,' said the Captain,  sagely, 'Hope. It's that as
animates you. Hope  is  a buoy,  for which you overhaul your Little Warbler,
sentimental diwision, but Lord, my lad, like any other buoy, it only floats;
it can't be steered nowhere. Along with the figure-head  of  Hope,' said the
Captain, 'there's a anchor; but what's the good of my having a anchor, if  I
can't find no bottom to let it go in?'
     Captain Cuttle said this rather in his character of a sagacious citizen
and householder, bound to impart a morsel  from his stores  of wisdom  to an
inexperienced  youth,  than  in his own proper person. Indeed,  his face was
quite  luminous  as  he spoke, with  new  hope, caught from Walter;  and  he
appropriately  concluded  by  slapping him on the  back;  and  saying,  with
enthusiasm,  'Hooroar, my lad! Indiwidually, I'm  o'  your opinion.' Walter,
with his cheerful laugh, returned the salutation, and said:
     'Only  one  word more  about  my  Uncle at  present' Captain  Cuttle. I
suppose it  is impossible  that he can have written in the ordinary course -
by mail packet, or ship letter, you understand - '
     'Ay, ay, my lad,' said the Captain approvingly.
     And that you have missed the letter, anyhow?'
     'Why, Wal'r,' said the Captain, turning his  eyes upon him with a faint
approach  to  a severe expression, 'ain't  I been  on  the look-out for  any
tidings  of  that man o' science, old Sol Gills,  your Uncle, day and night,
ever  since I lost him? Ain't my heart been heavy and watchful always, along
of him and you? Sleeping and waking, ain't I been upon my post, and wouldn't
I scorn to quit it while this here Midshipman held together!'
     'Yes, Captain Cuttle,'  replied Walter, grasping his hand, 'I know  you
would, and I know how  faithful and earnest all you  say and feel is.  I  am
sure of it. You don't doubt that I am as sure of it as I am  that my foot is
again upon this door-step, or that I  again have hold of this true  hand. Do
you?'
     'No, no, Wal'r,' returned the Captain, with his beaming
     'I'll  hazard no more conjectures,' said Walter, fervently shaking  the
hard hand of the Captain, who shook his with no less goodwill. 'All  I  will
add is, Heaven forbid  that I  should touch my Uncle's  possessions, Captain
Cuttle! Everything that he left here, shall remain in the care of the truest
of stewards and kindest of  men -  and if his name is  not Cuttle, he has no
name! Now, best of friends, about - Miss Dombey.'
     There was a change in Walter's  manner, as he came to these two  words;
and  when he uttered them, all his confidence and cheerfulness  appeared  to
have deserted him.
     'I thought, before Miss  Dombey stopped me when I spoke of  her  father
last night,' said Walter, ' - you remember how?'
     The Captain well remembered, and shook his head.
     'I thought,' said Walter,  'before that, that we had but  one hard duty
to perform,  and that it was,  to prevail upon her  to communicate with  her
friends, and to return home.'
     The Captain muttered a feeble 'Awast!' or a 'Stand by!' or something or
other,  equally pertinent to the occasion; but it was rendered  so extremely
feeble by the total discomfiture  with which he received this  announcement,
that what it was, is mere matter of conjecture.
     'But,'  said Walter,  'that is over.  I  think so,  no longer. I  would
sooner be  put back again upon that piece of wreck, on which I have so often
floated, since my preservation,  in my dreams, and there left  to drift, and
drive, and die!'
     'Hooroar, my  lad!' exclaimed the Captain, in a burst of uncontrollable
satisfaction. 'Hooroar! hooroar! hooroar!'
     'To think that she, so young, so good, and beautiful,' said Walter, 'so
delicately brought  up, and  born to such a different fortune, should strive
with the rough world! But we have seen  the  gulf  that cuts off all  behind
her,  though  no  one but herself can  know how  deep it is; and there is no
return.
     Captain Cuttle, without  quite understanding this, greatly  approved of
it, and observed in a tone of strong  corroboration, that the wind was quite
abaft.
     'She  ought not to  be  alone  here; ought  she,  Captain Cuttle?' said
Walter, anxiously.
     'Well,  my  lad,'   replied  the  Captain,  after  a  little  sagacious
consideration.  'I don't know. You being here to keep  her company, you see,
and you two being jintly - '
     'Dear Captain Cuttle!' remonstrated Walter. 'I being here! Miss Dombey,
in her guileless innocent heart, regards me as her adopted brother; but what
would the guile and guilt of my heart be,  if I  pretended to believe that I
had  any  right  to  approach  her, familiarly, in  that  character -  if  I
pretended to forget that I am bound, in honour, not to do it?'
     'Wal'r,  my  lad,'  hinted  the  Captain,  with  some  revival  of  his
discomfiture, 'ain't there no other character as - '
     'Oh!' returned Walter, 'would  you have me  die in her esteem - in such
esteem as  hers  -  and put a veil between myself and  her angel's face  for
ever, by taking advantage  of her being here  for refuge, so trusting and so
unprotected, to endeavour to exalt myself  into  her  lover?  What do I say?
There  is no one in the world  who would be more opposed to me if I could do
so, than you.'
     'Wal'r,  my lad,' said the Captain, drooping more and  more, 'prowiding
as there is any just cause or impediment why two persons should not be jined
together in the house of  bondage, for which you'll  overhaul the  place and
make a note, I hope I  should declare it as promised and wowed in the banns.
So there ain't no other character; ain't there, my lad?'
     Walter briskly waved his hand in the negative.
     'Well, my lad,' growled  the Captain slowly,  'I won't deny but what  I
find myself wery much down by the head, along o' this here, or but what I've
gone  clean about. But as to Lady lass, Wal'r,  mind you,  wot's respect and
duty to her, is respect and duty in my articles, howsumever disapinting; and
therefore  I follows  in your wake, my lad, and feel  as you  are, no doubt,
acting up to  yourself. And there  ain't no  other character, ain't  there?'
said  the Captain,  musing over the ruins of his  fallen castle, with a very
despondent face.
     'Now, Captain Cuttle,' said Walter, starting a fresh point with a gayer
air,  to cheer the Captain up - but nothing could  do that; he  was too much
concerned - 'I think we should exert  ourselves to find someone who would be
a proper attendant for  Miss Dombey while she remains here,  and  who may be
trusted. None of her relations may.  It's clear Miss Dombey feels  that they
are all subservient to her father. What has become of Susan?'
     'The  young woman?' returned  the Captain. 'It's  my belief as  she was
sent away again the will  of  Heart's Delight. I made a signal  for her when
Lady lass first come, and she rated  of her wery high, and said she had been
gone a long time.'
     'Then,' said Walter,  'do you ask  Miss  Dombey  where she's gone,  and
we'll try to find her.  The morning's getting on, and Miss Dombey will  soon
be rising. You are her best friend. Wait for  her upstairs, and leave me  to
take care of all down here.'
     The Captain,  very crest-fallen  indeed, echoed  the  sigh  with  which
Walter said this, and  complied. Florence was delighted with  her new  room,
anxious to see Walter, and overjoyed  at the prospect  of  greeting  her old
friend Susan. But Florence could not say  where  Susan was gone, except that
it was  in Essex, and no one  could say,  she  remembered, unless it were Mr
Toots.
     With  this  information  the melancholy Captain returned to Walter, and
gave him  to understand  that Mr Toots  was the young gentleman whom  he had
encountered on the  door-step, and  that he was a friend of his, and that he
was a  young gentleman  of  property, and  that  he hopelessly  adored  Miss
Dombey. The Captain also related how the  intelligence of Walter's  supposed
fate had first made him acquainted with Mr  Toots, and how there was  solemn
treaty  and compact between them,  that  Mr  Toots should be mute  upon  the
subject of his love.
     The  question  then  was, whether Florence  could trust  Mr Toots;  and
Florence saying,  with a smile, 'Oh, yes, with her  whole heart!' it  became
important  to find out where Mr Toots lived. This, Florence didn't know, and
the Captain had forgotten; and the Captain was telling Walter, in the little
parlour,  that Mr  Toots was  sure to  be there soon, when in came  Mr Toots
himself.
     'Captain  Gills,' said Mr Toots, rushing  into the parlour without  any
ceremony, 'I'm in a state of mind bordering on distraction!'
     Mr  Toots  had discharged  those words,  as  from  a mortar, before  he
observed Walter, whom he recognised with what  may be described as a chuckle
of misery.
     'You'll  excuse me, Sir,' said Mr Toots, holding his forehead, 'but I'm
at present  in that state that my brain is  going, if not gone, and anything
approaching to politeness  in  an individual  so situated would be  a hollow
mockery. Captain Gills, I beg to request the favour of a private interview.'
     'Why, Brother,' returned the Captain, taking him by  the hand, 'you are
the man as we was on the look-out for.'
     'Oh,  Captain Gills,' said Mr Toots, 'what a look-out that  must be, of
which I am the object!  I haven't dared to shave, I'm  in that rash state. I
haven't  had  my  clothes  brushed. My  hair is matted together. I  told the
Chicken  that  if he offered to  clean  my boots, I'd stretch  him a  Corpse
before me!'
     All these indications of a  disordered mind were verified in Mr Toots's
appearance, which was wild and savage.
     'See  here,  Brother,' said the Captain. 'This here's  old Sol  Gills's
nevy Wal'r. Him as was supposed to have perished at sea'
     Mr Toots took his hand from his forehead, and stared at Walter.
     'Good gracious me!' stammered Mr Toots. 'What a complication of misery!
How-de-do? I -  I - I'm afraid you must have got  very  wet.  Captain Gills,
will you allow me a word in the shop?'
     He took the Captain by the coat, and going out with him whispered:
     'That then, Captain  Gills,  is the party you spoke  of, when you  said
that he and Miss Dombey were made for one another?'
     'Why, ay,  my lad,' replied  the  disconsolate Captain;  'I was of that
mind once.'
     'And at this time!' exclaimed Mr Toots, with his hand  to his  forehead
again.  'Of all others! - a hated  rival! At least, he ain't a hated rival,'
said Mr Toots, stopping short, on second thoughts, and taking away his hand;
'what  should  I  hate   him  for?  No.  If  my  affection  has  been  truly
disinterested, Captain Gills, let me prove it now!'
     Mr Toots shot back abruptly into the parlour, and said, wringing Walter
by the hand:
     'How-de-do? I hope you didn't take  any cold. I - I shall  be very glad
if  you'll give me the pleasure of your acquaintance. I  wish you many happy
returns of the day. Upon my  word  and honour,' said Mr Toots, warming as he
became  better acquainted with Walter's  face and figure, 'I'm very glad  to
see you!'
     'Thank  you, heartily,' said Walter. 'I  couldn't desire a more genuine
and genial welcome.'
     'Couldn't you, though?' said  Mr Toots, still shaking  his  hand. 'It's
very kind  of you.  I'm much  obliged to  you.  How-de-do?  I hope  you left
everybody quite well over the - that is, upon the - I mean wherever you came
from last, you know.'
     All these  good wishes,  and  better  intentions, Walter  responded  to
manfully.
     'Captain  Gills,'  said  Mr  Toots,  'I  should  wish  to  be  strictly
honourable; but I trust I may be allowed now, to allude to a certain subject
that - '
     'Ay, ay, my lad,' returned the Captain. 'Freely, freely.'
     'Then, Captain Gills,' said Mr Toots, 'and Lieutenant Walters - are you
aware that  the  most  dreadful circumstances  have  been  happening  at  Mr
Dombey's house, and that Miss Dombey herself has left her father, who, in my
opinion,' said Mr Toots,  with great excitement,  'is a Brute, that it would
be  a flattery to call a -  a marble monument, or a bird of prey, - and that
she is not to be found, and has gone no one knows where?'
     'May I ask how you heard this?' inquired Walter.
     'Lieutenant  Walters,'   said  Mr  Toots,  who  had   arrived  at  that
appellation by a  process  peculiar to himself; probably by jumbling  up his
Christian   name  with  the  seafaring   profession,  and   supposing   some
relationship between him and the Captain, which would extend, as a matter of
course, to  their titles; 'Lieutenant Walters, I can  have  no objection  to
make a straightforward reply. The fact is, that feeling extremely interested
in everything  that  relates  to  Miss Dombey - not for any selfish  reason,
Lieutenant Walters, for I  am well aware that the most able thing I could do
for all parties would  be to put an end to my existence,  which can  only be
regarded as an inconvenience  -  I  have been in the  habit of  bestowing  a
trifle  now and then  upon a footman; a most  respectable  young man, of the
name of  Towlinson,  who has lived in the  family some  time;  and Towlinson
informed  me, yesterday evening,  that this was the  state of  things. Since
which,  Captain  Gills - and  Lieutenant  Walters -  I  have been  perfectly
frantic,  and  have  been  lying down  on the  sofa all  night, the Ruin you
behold.'
     'Mr Toots,'  said Walter, 'I am happy to be able to relieve  your mind.
Pray calm yourself. Miss Dombey is safe and well.'
     'Sir!' cried Mr  Toots, starting from his chair  and shaking hands with
him anew, 'the relief is so excessive, and unspeakable, that if you  were to
tell me now that Miss Dombey was married even, I could smile.  Yes,  Captain
Gills,' said  Mr Toots, appealing to  him, 'upon my soul and  body, I really
think, whatever I  might do to myself immediately  afterwards,  that I could
smile, I am so relieved.'
     'It will be a greater relief and delight still, to such a generous mind
as yours,' said Walter, not  at all slow in returning his greeting, 'to find
that you can  render service to Miss Dombey. Captain Cuttle,  will  you have
the kindness to take Mr Toots upstairs?'
     The Captain  beckoned to Mr Toots,  who followed  him with a bewildered
countenance, and, ascending to the top of the house, was introduced, without
a word of preparation from his conductor, into Florence's new retreat.
     Poor Mr  Toots's amazement and pleasure at sight of her were such, that
they could find a vent in nothing but extravagance. He ran up to her, seized
her  hand, kissed it, dropped  it, seized it again, fell upon one knee, shed
tears, chuckled, and was quite regardless of his danger of  being  pinned by
Diogenes, who, inspired  by the belief that there  was something hostile  to
his mistress in these demonstrations, worked round and round him, as if only
undecided  at  what particular point to  go  in  for the assault,  but quite
resolved to do him a fearful mischief.
     'Oh Di, you bad, forgetful dog! Dear Mr Toots, I am so rejoiced to  see
you!'
     'Thankee,' said Mr  Toots, 'I am pretty well,  I'm much obliged to you,
Miss Dombey. I hope all the family are the same.'
     Mr  Toots  said  this without  the least notion  of what he was talking
about,  and  sat down on  a chair,  staring at  Florence with the  liveliest
contention of delight and despair  going on  in his face that any face could
exhibit.
     'Captain  Gills  and Lieutenant  Walters have mentioned, Miss  Dombey,'
gasped Mr Toots, 'that  I can do you some  service. If I could by  any means
wash out the remembrance of that day  at Brighton, when I conducted myself -
much more like  a Parricide than a person of independent  property,' said Mr
Toots, with severe self-accusation, 'I should sink into the silent tomb with
a gleam of joy.'
     'Pray, Mr Toots,' said Florence, 'do not wish me  to forget anything in
our acquaintance. I  never can, believe me. You have been far too  kind  and
good to me always.'
     'Miss  Dombey,' returned Mr Toots,  'your consideration for my feelings
is a part of  your angelic character. Thank you a thousand times. It's of no
consequence at all.'
     'What  we  thought  of  asking  you,'  said Florence, 'is, whether  you
remember  where Susan,  whom  you  were  so  kind as  to  accompany  to  the
coach-office when she left me, is to be found.'
     'Why I do not  certainly, Miss Dombey,' said Mr Toots,  after a  little
consideration,  'remember the exact name of the place that was on the coach;
and I do recollect that she said she was not going  to stop  there, but  was
going farther on. But, Miss Dombey,  if  your object is to find  her, and to
have  her here, myself  and the Chicken will produce her with every dispatch
that devotion  on my  part, and  great  intelligence  on the Chicken's,  can
ensure.
     Mr Toots  was  so  manifestly  delighted and revived by the prospect of
being  useful, and  the  disinterested  sincerity of  his  devotion  was  so
unquestionable, that it would have been cruel to refuse  him. Florence, with
an instinctive delicacy, forbore to urge the least  obstacle, though she did
not  forbear  to  overpower him  with thanks; and Mr Toots proudly took  the
commission upon himself for immediate execution.
     'Miss Dombey,' said Mr Toots, touching  her proffered hand, with a pang
of hopeless love visibly shooting through him, and flashing out in his face,
'Good-bye!  Allow  me to take the liberty of saying, that  your  misfortunes
make me perfectly wretched, and that you may trust me, next to Captain Gills
himself. I am quite aware, Miss Dombey, of my own deficiencies - they're not
of the least consequence, thank you - but I am entirely to be relied upon, I
do assure you, Miss Dombey.'
     With  that  Mr  Toots came  out of the room,  again accompanied by  the
Captain, who, standing at a  little distance, holding his hat  under his arm
and arranging his scattered locks with his hook, had been a not uninterested
witness  of what passed. And when the  door closed behind them, the light of
Mr Toots's life was darkly clouded again.
     'Captain  Gills,' said that gentleman, stopping near the  bottom of the
stairs, and  turning round, 'to tell you the truth, I am not in  a frame  of
mind  at the present moment,  in  which  I could see Lieutenant Walters with
that  entirely friendly feeling towards him that I should wish to harbour in
my  breast. We  cannot always command  our  feelings,  Captain Gills, and  I
should  take  it as a particular favour if you'd let  me out at  the private
door.'
     'Brother,'  returned  the  Captain, 'you  shall  shape your own course.
Wotever course you take, is plain and seamanlike, I'm wery sure.
     'Captain  Gills,'  said  Mr  Toots, 'you're extremely  kind. Your  good
opinion is a consolation to me. There is one thing,' said Mr Toots, standing
in the passage, behind  the  half-opened door, 'that  I hope you'll bear  in
mind,  Captain  Gills, and that I should wish Lieutenant Walters to be  made
acquainted with. I have quite come into my property now, you know, and - and
I don't know what  to do with it. If I could be at all useful in a pecuniary
point  of  view,  I  should  glide  into  the  silent  tomb  with  ease  and
smoothness.'
     Mr Toots said no more, but  slipped out quietly and shut the  door upon
himself, to cut the Captain off from any reply.
     Florence thought of  this good  creature, long after  he had  left her,
with  mingled  emotions  of  pain   and  pleasure.  He  was  so  honest  and
warm-hearted, that to  see him again and be assured of his truth  to her  in
her distress, was a joy  and comfort beyond  all  price; but  for that  very
reason, it  was  so  affecting to  think  that  she  caused  him a  moment's
unhappiness, or ruffled, by a breath, the harmless current of his life, that
her eyes  filled  with tears,  and  her bosom  overflowed with pity. Captain
Cuttle,  in his different  way,  thought much of  Mr Toots too; and  so  did
Walter; and when  the evening came, and they were  all  sitting  together in
Florence's  new room, Walter  praised him in a most impassioned  manner, and
told  Florence what he  had  said on leaving  the house, with every graceful
setting-off in the way of comment and appreciation that  his own honesty and
sympathy could surround it with.
     Mr Toots did not return upon the next day, or the  next, or for several
days;  and  in the meanwhile Florence, without any new  alarm, lived  like a
quiet  bird in a  cage, at  the top of the old Instrument-maker's house. But
Florence drooped and hung her head more  and more  plainly, as the days went
on; and the expression that had been seen in the face of the dead child, was
often turned to the sky from her high window, as if it sought his angel out,
on the bright shore of which he had spoken: lying on his little bed.
     Florence  had been weak and delicate of late, and the agitation she had
undergone was not without its influences on her health. But it was no bodily
illness that affected her now. She was distressed in mind;  and the cause of
her distress was Walter.
     Interested in her, anxious  for her, proud and  glad to  serve her, and
showing all this with the  enthusiasm and  ardour of his character, Florence
saw that he avoided her. All the long day through, he  seldom approached her
room. If she asked for him, he came, again for the  moment as earnest and as
bright  as she  remembered  him  when she was a  lost  child in  the staring
streets; but  he  soon  became  constrained -  her quick  affection was  too
watchful not to know it - and  uneasy, and soon left her. Unsought, he never
came, all day,  between the morning and  the night. When the  evening closed
in, he  was always there, and that was her happiest time, for then  she half
believed  that the old  Walter of her childhood was not  changed.  But, even
then, some trivial word, look, or circumstance would show her that there was
an indefinable division between them which could not be passed.
     And  she could  not but see that these revealings of a great alteration
in  Walter  manifested themselves  in despite of  his utmost efforts to hide
them. In his  consideration for her, she thought, and in the  earnestness of
his  desire to spare  her  any wound  from  his kind hand,  he  resorted  to
innumerable little artifices  and  disguises. So much  the more did Florence
feel the greatness of the  alteration in him; so  much  the oftener did  she
weep at this estrangement of her brother.
     The good Captain - her untiring, tender, ever zealous friend  - saw it,
too, Florence thought, and it pained him. He  was less  cheerful and hopeful
than  he  had  been at  first, and would  steal looks at her and Walter,  by
turns,  when they were all  three  together of an evening,  with quite a sad
face.
     Florence  resolved, at last,  to speak to Walter. She believed she knew
now what the  cause of his estrangement was,  and she thought it would be  a
relief  to her full heart, and would set him more at ease,  if she told  him
she had found it out, and quite submitted to it, and did not reproach him.
     It  was  on  a  certain  Sunday  afternoon,  that  Florence  took  this
resolution. The faithful Captain, in an amazing shirt-collar, was sitting by
her, reading with his spectacles on, and she asked him where Walter was.
     'I think he's down below, my lady lass,' returned the Captain.
     'I should like to speak to him,'  said Florence, rising hurriedly as if
to go downstairs.
     'I'll rouse him up here, Beauty,' said the Captain, 'in a trice.'
     Thereupon the Captain, with much alacrity, shouldered his book - for he
made it  a point of  duty to read none  but very large books on a Sunday, as
having  a  more  staid appearance:  and  had  bargained,  years  ago, for  a
prodigious volume  at a book-stall, five lines of which  utterly  confounded
him at any time, insomuch that he had not yet ascertained of what subject it
treated - and withdrew. Walter soon appeared.
     'Captain Cuttle tells me, Miss Dombey,' he eagerly began on coming in -
but stopped when he saw her face.
     'You  are  not  so  well  to-day. You  look  distressed.  You have been
weeping.'
     He spoke so kindly,  and with such a fervent tremor in his voice,  that
the tears gushed into her eyes at the sound of his words.
     'Walter,' said Florence, gently, 'I am not  quite well, and I have been
weeping. I want to speak to you.'
     He  sat  down opposite to her, looking  at her  beautiful and  innocent
face; and his own turned pale, and his lips trembled.
     'You said, upon the night  when  I knew that you were saved  - and  oh!
dear Walter, what I felt that night, and what I hoped!' - '
     He put his trembling hand upon  the table between them, and sat looking
at her.
     -  'that  I was changed. I  was  surprised  to  hear you  say so, but I
understand, now,  that I am. Don't be angry with me, Walter. I was  too much
overjoyed to think of it, then.'
     She  seemed  a  child to  him again. It was  the  ingenuous, confiding,
loving child he saw and heard. Not  the dear woman, at whose feet  he  would
have laid the riches of the earth.
     'You remember the last time I saw you, Walter, before you went away?'
     He put his hand into his breast, and took out a little purse.
     'I have always worn it  round  my neck! If I had gone down in the deep,
it would have been with me at the bottom of the sea.'
     'And you will wear it still, Walter, for my old sake?'
     'Until I die!'
     She laid her hand on his, as fearlessly and simply, as if not a day had
intervened since she gave him the little token of remembrance.
     'I  am glad of that. I shall be always glad to think so, Walter. Do you
recollect that a thought of this change seemed to come into our minds at the
same time that evening, when we were talking together?'
     'No!' he answered, in a wondering tone.
     'Yes, Walter. I had been the means of injuring your hopes and prospects
even then. I feared  to think so, then, but I know it now. If you were able,
then, in your generosity, to hide from me that  you knew it  too, you cannot
do so now, although you try as generously as before. You do. I thank you for
it, Walter,  deeply, truly; but you  cannot succeed.  You have  suffered too
much in your own hardships, and in those of your dearest  relation, quite to
overlook  the  innocent  cause of  all the  peril  and  affliction that  has
befallen you. You cannot quite forget  me in that  character,  and we can be
brother and sister no longer. But, dear Walter, do not think that I complain
of you in this. I might have known it - ought  to have known it - but forgot
it  in my joy. All I hope is that you  may think of  me less  irksomely when
this feeling is no more a secret one; and all I ask  is, Walter, in the name
of the poor child who was your sister once, that you will not struggle  with
yourself, and pain yourself, for my sake, now that I know all!'
     Walter had looked upon her while she said this,  with a face so full of
wonder and  amazement, that  it had room for  nothing else. Now he caught up
the hand that touched his, so entreatingly, and held it between his own.
     'Oh, Miss Dombey,' he said,  'is  it possible that  while  I have  been
suffering so much, in striving with my sense of what is due to you, and must
be rendered to  you, I have  made you suffer what your words disclose to me?
Never, never, before Heaven,  have  I thought  of  you  but  as  the single,
bright, pure, blessed  recollection of my boyhood and my youth. Never have I
from the first, and never shall I to the last,  regard your part in my life,
but  as something sacred, never  to  be  lightly thought  of,  never  to  be
esteemed enough, never, until death, to be forgotten. Again to see you look,
and hear you speak, as you did on that night when we parted, is happiness to
me  that there are no words to utter;  and  to be loved  and trusted as your
brother, is the next gift I could receive and prize!'
     'Walter,' said Florence, looking at  him earnestly, but with a changing
face, 'what is that which is due to me,  and must be rendered  to me, at the
sacrifice of all this?'
     'Respect,' said Walter, in a low tone. 'Reverence.
     The  colour dawned  in  her  face,  and  she timidly  and  thoughtfully
withdrew her hand; still looking at him with unabated earnestness.
     'I have not a brother's right,' said  Walter. 'I  have  not a brother's
claim. I left a child. I find a woman.'
     The colour  overspread her face.  She  made a gesture as if of entreaty
that he would say no more, and her face dropped upon her hands.
     They were both silent for a time; she weeping.
     'I owe it  to a heart so trusting, pure, and  good,' said Walter, 'even
to  tear  myself  from  it, though  I rend my  own.  How dare I say it is my
sister's!'
     She was weeping still.
     'If you had  been  happy;  surrounded as you  should be  by loving  and
admiring friends, and  by  all that  makes  the  station  you  were born  to
enviable,'  said  Walter; 'and  if you had called me  brother, then, in your
affectionate remembrance of the past, I could have answered to the name from
my  distant place, with  no  inward assurance  that I wronged your  spotless
truth by doing so. But here - and now!'
     'Oh thank  you,  thank you, Walter! Forgive my having  wronged  you  so
much. I had no one to advise me. I am quite alone.'
     'Florence!' said Walter, passionately. 'I  am hurried on to say, what I
thought, but a few moments ago, nothing could have forced from my lips. If I
had been  prosperous; if I had any  means or hope of being  one day able  to
restore you to a station near your own; I would have told you that there was
one name you might bestow upon  - me - a right above all others,  to protect
and cherish you  - that  I  was worthy of in nothing but the love and honour
that I bore  you, and  in my whole heart being yours. I would have told  you
that it was the only claim that you could give me  to defend and guard  you,
which I dare accept  and dare assert; but that if I had  that right, I would
regard it as a trust so precious and so priceless,  that the undivided truth
and fervour of my life would poorly acknowledge its worth.'
     The head  was still bent down, the  tears still  falling, and the bosom
swelling with its sobs.
     'Dear  Florence! Dearest Florence!  whom  I  called  so in my  thoughts
before I could consider how presumptuous and  wild it was. One last time let
me call you by your own  dear  name, and touch this gentle hand  in token of
your sisterly forgetfulness of what I have said.'
     She raised her  head, and spoke to him with such a solemn sweetness  in
her eyes; with such a calm, bright, placid  smile shining on him through her
tears;  with such  a  low, soft  tremble  in her frame  and  voice; that the
innermost  chords  of his heart were  touched, and  his sight was  dim as he
listened.
     'No, Walter, I cannot forget it. I  would not forget it, for the world.
Are you - are you very poor?'
     'I am but a wanderer,' said Walter, 'making voyages to live, across the
sea. That is my calling now.
     'Are you soon going away again, Walter?'
     'Very soon.
     She sat  looking at him  for a moment;  then timidly  put her trembling
hand in his.
     'If you will take  me for your wife, Walter, I will love you dearly. If
you will let  me go with you, Walter, I  will go to the world's end  without
fear. I can give up nothing  for you - I have nothing to  resign, and no one
to forsake; but  all my love and life  shall be devoted to you, and  with my
last  breath I will  breathe your  name  to God if I have sense  and  memory
left.'
     He  caught  her  to his heart, and  laid her cheek against his own, and
now,  no more repulsed, no more forlorn, she wept indeed, upon the breast of
her dear lover.
     Blessed  Sunday Bells, ringing  so  tranquilly  in  their entranced and
happy ears! Blessed Sunday peace and quiet, harmonising with the calmness in
their souls, and making holy air around them! Blessed twilight  stealing on,
and  shading her so soothingly and gravely,  as  she  falls  asleep,  like a
hushed child, upon the bosom she has clung to!
     Oh load of love and trustfulness that lies to  lightly  there! Ay, look
down on the closed eyes, Walter, with a proudly  tender gaze; for in all the
wide wide world they seek but thee now - only thee!

     The Captain remained in the little parlour  until it was quite dark. He
took  the chair  on  which  Walter  had been sitting, and looked up  at  the
skylight, until  the day, by  little and little, faded  away,  and the stars
peeped down. He lighted  a  candle,  lighted  a pipe,  smoked  it  out,  and
wondered  what on  earth was going on upstairs, and why they didn't call him
to tea.
     Florence came to his side while he was in the height of his wonderment.
     'Ay! lady lass!' cried the Captain. 'Why, you and Wal'r have had a long
spell o' talk, my beauty.'
     Florence  put her  little hand  round one of the great  buttons of  his
coat, and said, looking down into his face:
     'Dear Captain, I want to tell you something, if you please.
     The Captain raised his  head  pretty  smartly,  to hear  what  it  was.
Catching by this means  a more distinct view of Florence, he pushed back his
chair, and himself with it, as far as they could go.
     'What!  Heart's  Delight!' cried the Captain,  suddenly elated,  'Is it
that?'
     'Yes!' said Florence, eagerly.
     'Wal'r!  Husband! THAT?' roared the Captain, tossing  up his glazed hat
into the skylight.
     'Yes!' cried Florence, laughing and crying together.
     The Captain immediately hugged her; and then, picking up the glazed hat
and  putting it  on, drew  her arm  through  his, and conducted her upstairs
again; where he felt that the great joke of his life was now to be made.
     'What, Wal'r  my lad!' said  the Captain, looking in at the  door, with
his face  like an  amiable warming-pan. 'So there  ain't NO other character,
ain't there?'
     He had like  to  have suffocated himself with this pleasantry, which he
repeated at least forty times during  tea;  polishing his  radiant face with
the  sleeve  of  his  coat,   and   dabbing  his  head  all  over  with  his
pocket-handkerchief, in  the  intervals.  But  he  was not  without a graver
source of  enjoyment  to fall  back upon,  when  so  disposed,  for  he  was
repeatedly heard to say in an undertone, as he looked with ineffable delight
at Walter and Florence:
     'Ed'ard Cuttle, my lad, you never  shaped a better course in your life,
than when you made that there little property over, jintly!'


     Mr Dombey and the World

     What is the proud man  doing, while the days go by? Does he  ever think
of his  daughter, or wonder where she is gone? Does  he suppose she has come
home, and is leading her old  life in the weary house? No one can answer for
him. He has never uttered her name, since. His household dread  him too much
to approach a subject on  which he is  resolutely dumb;  and the only person
who dares question him, he silences immediately.
     'My dear Paul!' murmurs his sister, sidling into  the room,  on the day
of Florence's departure, 'your wife! that upstart woman! Is it possible that
what  I hear confusedly,  is  true,  and that this is  her  return  for your
unparalleled devotion to her; extending, I am sure, even to the sacrifice of
your own relations, to her caprices and haughtiness? My poor brother!'
     With this speech feelingly  reminiscent of her not having been asked to
dinner  on the day  of the first  party,  Mrs Chick makes  great  use of her
pocket-handkerchief, and falls on Mr  Dombey's neck. But Mr Dombey  frigidly
lifts her off, and hands her to a chair.
     'I thank you, Louisa,' he says, 'for this mark of your  affection;  but
desire that our conversation may refer to  any  other subject. When I bewail
my fate, Louisa, or  express myself as being in want of consolation, you can
offer it, if you will have the goodness.'
     'My dear Paul,' rejoins his sister, with her handkerchief to her  face,
and shaking her head, 'I know your great spirit, and will say no more upon a
theme so painful and revolting;' on the heads of  which  two adjectives, Mrs
Chick visits scathing indignation; 'but pray let me ask you - though I dread
to hear something  that will shock  and distress me - that unfortunate child
Florence -
     'Louisa!'  says  her brother,  sternly, 'silence!  Not  another word of
this!'
     Mrs Chick can only shake  her  head, and use her handkerchief, and moan
over degenerate  Dombeys, who are no Dombeys. But  whether Florence has been
inculpated in the flight of  Edith,  or has  followed her,  or has  done too
much, or too little, or anything, or nothing, she has not the least idea.
     He goes on, without deviation, keeping his thoughts and feelings  close
within his  own breast, and imparting them to no one. He makes no search for
his daughter. He may think that she is with his sister, or that she is under
his own roof. He may think of  her constantly, or  he may never think  about
her. It is all one for any sign he makes.
     But this is sure; he  does  not  think that he has  lost her. He has no
suspicion  of  the truth. He  has lived too long  shut  up  in his  towering
supremacy, seeing her, a patient  gentle  creature, in the path below it, to
have  any  fear  of  that. Shaken as he is  by his disgrace,  he  is not yet
humbled to the level earth. The root is broad and deep, and in the course of
years  its  fibres have spread out and gathered nourishment from  everything
around it. The tree is struck, but not down.
     Though he hide the world within him from the world  without - which  he
believes  has but  one purpose  for the time, and that, to watch him eagerly
wherever he goes -  he cannot hide those rebel traces of it, which escape in
hollow eyes and  cheeks,  a haggard forehead,  and  a moody,  brooding  air.
Impenetrable as  before, he  is still an altered man; and, proud as ever, he
is humbled, or those marks would not be there.
     The world. What the world  thinks of him,  how it looks at him, what it
sees in him, and what it says - this is the haunting demon of his  mind.  It
is everywhere where he is; and, worse  than that, it is everywhere  where he
is not.  It comes out  with  him among his  servants,  and yet  he leaves it
whispering  behind;  he sees  it  pointing after him  in  the street; it  is
waiting for him in his counting-house; it leers over the shoulders  of  rich
men among the merchants; it goes beckoning and babbling among the  crowd; it
always anticipates  him, in  every place; and is  always busiest,  he knows,
when he has gone away. When he is shut up in his room at night, it is in his
house, outside it, audible  in footsteps on the pavement,  visible  in print
upon the table, steaming to and fro  on railroads and in ships; restless and
busy everywhere, with nothing else but him.
     It  is not  a phantom of  his  imagination. It  is  as active in  other
people's minds as in his. Witness Cousin Feenix, who comes from Baden-Baden,
purposely to  talk to him. Witness Major  Bagstock, who  accompanies  Cousin
Feenix on that friendly mission.
     Mr Dombey receives them with his  usual  dignity, and stands erect,  in
his old attitude, before the fire. He feels that the world is looking at him
out  of their eyes.  That it is in the stare of  the pictures. That Mr Pitt,
upon  the bookcase,  represents  it.  That  there are  eyes  in its own map,
hanging on the wall.
     'An unusually cold spring,' says Mr Dombey - to deceive the world.
     'Damme,  Sir,'  says the Major, in  the  warmth of friendship,  'Joseph
Bagstock is a  bad hand at  a counterfeit. If you want  to hold your friends
off, Dombey, and to  give them the cold shoulder, J.  B. is not the man  for
your  purpose. Joe is rough and  tough, Sir; blunt, Sir,  blunt, is Joe. His
Royal Highness the late Duke of York did me the honour to say, deservedly or
undeservedly - never mind that - "If there is a man in the service on whom I
can depend for coming to the point, that man is Joe - Joe Bagstock."'
     Mr Dombey intimates his acquiescence.
     'Now, Dombey,' says  the Major,  'I am  a  man of the world. Our friend
Feenix - if I may presume to - '
     'Honoured, I am sure,' says Cousin Feenix.
     ' - is,' proceeds the Major, with a wag of his head, 'also a man of the
world. Dombey, you are a  man of the world. Now, when three men of the world
meet together,  and are friends - as I believe - ' again appealing to Cousin
Feenix.
     'I am sure,' says Cousin Feenix, 'most friendly.'
     '  - and are friends,' resumes the  Major, 'Old Joe's opinion is (I may
be wrong), that the opinion of the world  on any particular subject, is very
easily got at.
     'Undoubtedly,'  says Cousin  Feenix.  'In point of  fact, it's quite  a
self-evident sort of thing. I  am extremely anxious,  Major, that  my friend
Dombey should hear me express my very great astonishment and regret, that my
lovely and accomplished relative,  who was possessed  of every qualification
to make a man happy, should have so far forgotten what was due to - in point
of fact,  to the  world - as to commit herself in such a very  extraordinary
manner. I have been in a devilish state of depression  ever since; and  said
indeed to  Long  Saxby last night - man of six foot ten, with whom my friend
Dombey  is probably acquainted  - that it had upset me in a  confounded way,
and made  me bilious. It  induces  a  man  to reflect,  this  kind of  fatal
catastrophe,'  says  Cousin  Feenix,  'that  events  do  occur  in  quite  a
providential manner; for if my Aunt had been living at the time, I think the
effect  upon  a  devilish   lively  woman  like  herself,  would  have  been
prostration, and that she would have fallen, in point of fact, a victim.'
     'Now,  Dombey!  -  ' says the Major, resuming  his discourse with great
energy.
     'I beg  your pardon,' interposes Cousin Feenix. 'Allow me another word.
My friend Dombey will permit me to say, that if any  circumstance could have
added to  the  most infernal state of pain in which  I find  myself  on this
occasion, it would be the  natural amazement of the  world at  my lovely and
accomplished relative (as I must still beg leave to call her) being supposed
to have so committed herself with a person - man with  white teeth, in point
of fact - of very inferior station  to her husband. But while I must, rather
peremptorily,  request  my  friend Dombey  not  to  criminate my  lovely and
accomplished relative until  her criminality is perfectly established, I beg
to  assure  my friend Dombey that  the family I represent, and which is  now
almost extinct  (devilish  sad  reflection  for  a man), will  interpose  no
obstacle in his way, and will be happy to assent to any honourable course of
proceeding, with  a  view to the future, that he may point out.  I trust  my
friend Dombey will give me credit for the intentions by which I am  animated
in this very  melancholy affair, and - a - in point of fact, I  am not aware
that I need trouble my friend Dombey with any further observations.'
     Mr Dombey bows, without raising his eyes, and is silent.
     'Now, Dombey,'  says  the  Major,  'our friend Feenix  having,  with an
amount of eloquence that Old Joe B.  has never heard surpassed - no, by  the
Lord,  Sir! never!' -  says the  Major, very blue, indeed,  and grasping his
cane in the middle  - 'stated the case  as regards the lady, I shall presume
upon our friendship, Dombey,  to offer a word on another aspect of it. Sir,'
says the Major, with  the horse's  cough, 'the  world  in  these things  has
opinions, which must be satisfied.'
     'I know it,' rejoins Mr Dombey.
     'Of  course you know  it, Dombey,' says the Major, 'Damme, Sir,  I know
you know it. A man of your calibre is not likely to be ignorant of it.'
     'I hope not,' replies Mr Dombey.
     'Dombey!'  says  the Major, 'you  will guess  the rest. I speak  out  -
prematurely, perhaps -  because  the Bagstock breed  have  always spoke out.
Little, Sir, have they ever got by doing it; but it's in the Bagstock blood.
A shot is to be  taken at this man.  You have J. B. at your elbow. He claims
the name of friend. God bless you!'
     'Major,' returns  Mr Dombey, 'I am  obliged. I shall put myself in your
hands when the time comes. The time not being come, I have forborne to speak
to you.'
     'Where is  the  fellow, Dombey?' inquires the Major,  after gasping and
looking at him, for a minute.
     'I don't know.'
     'Any intelligence of him?' asks the Major.
     'Yes.'
     'Dombey, I am rejoiced  to hear  it,' says the  Major. 'I  congratulate
you.'
     'You will excuse  -  even  you, Major,' replies Mr Dombey, 'my entering
into any further detail at  present. The intelligence is of a singular kind,
and singularly obtained. It may turn out to be valueless; it may turn out to
be true; I cannot say at present. My explanation must stop here.'
     Although this  is but a dry reply to the Major's purple enthusiasm, the
Major receives it graciously, and is delighted to think that  the world  has
such a  fair  prospect  of  soon  receiving its due.  Cousin Feenix  is then
presented  with his meed of acknowledgment by the husband of  his lovely and
accomplished  relative, and Cousin Feenix and Major Bagstock retire, leaving
that  husband  to  the  world  again,  and  to ponder  at  leisure  on their
representation of  its state of mind concerning his affairs, and on its just
and reasonable expectations.
     But who  sits in the housekeeper's room, shedding tears, and talking to
Mrs Pipchin  in a low tone, with uplifted hands? It is a lady with her  face
concealed in a very close  black bonnet, which appears not to belong to her.
It  is Miss Tox, who has borrowed this disguise from her servant,  and comes
from Princess's Place, thus secretly, to  revive her  old acquaintance  with
Mrs Pipchin, in order to get certain information of the state of Mr Dombey.
     'How does he bear it, my dear creature?' asks Miss Tox.
     'Well,' says  Mrs  Pipchin, in her snappish way,  'he's pretty  much as
usual.'
     'Externally,' suggests Miss Tox 'But what he feels within!'
     Mrs Pipchin's  hard grey eye  looks  doubtful as she  answers, in three
distinct jerks, 'Ah! Perhaps. I suppose so.'
     'To tell you my mind, Lucretia,' says Mrs Pipchin; she still calls Miss
Tox  Lucretia,  on  account  of  having  made her  first  experiments in the
child-quelling line of business on that lady, when an unfortunate and weazen
little girl of tender years; 'to tell you my  mind, Lucretia, I think it's a
good riddance. I don't want any of your brazen faces here, myself!'
     'Brazen indeed!  Well may you  say brazen, Mrs Pipchin!'  returned Miss
Tox.  'To  leave him!  Such  a noble figure of a man!' And  here Miss Tox is
overcome.
     'I  don't know about noble, I'm sure,'  observes Mrs Pipchin; irascibly
rubbing her nose. 'But I know this - that when people meet with trials, they
must bear  'em. Hoity, toity! I have had enough to bear myself, in my  time!
What  a  fuss  there is!  She's  gone, and well got rid of. Nobody wants her
back, I should  think!' This  hint of the Peruvian Mines, causes Miss Tox to
rise to go away; when  Mrs Pipchin rings  the bell for Towlinson to show her
out, Mr Towlinson, not having seen Miss Tox for ages, grins, and hopes she's
well; observing that he didn't know her at first, in that bonnet.
     'Pretty well, Towlinson, I  thank you,' says  Miss  Tox. 'I  beg you'll
have the goodness,  when you happen to  see  me here, not to mention  it. My
visits are merely to Mrs Pipchin.'
     'Very good, Miss,' says Towlinson.
     'Shocking circumstances occur, Towlinson,' says Miss Tox.
     'Very much so indeed, Miss,' rejoins Towlinson.
     'I  hope,  Towlinson,'  says  Miss Tox,  who, in her instruction of the
Toodle family, has acquired  an admonitorial  tone, and a habit of improving
passing occasions,  'that what  has happened here, will be a warning to you,
Towlinson.'
     'Thank you, Miss, I'm sure,' says Towlinson.
     He  appears  to be falling into a consideration  of the manner in which
this warning ought  to operate in his particular case, when the vinegary Mrs
Pipchin,  suddenly stirring him up with a 'What are you doing? Why don't you
show  the lady to the  door?' he ushers  Miss  Tox forth.  As she  passes Mr
Dombey's room,  she shrinks into the inmost depths of  the black bonnet, and
walks, on tip-toe;  and there is not  another atom in the world which haunts
him  so,  that feels such sorrow and solicitude about him, as Miss Tox takes
out under the black bonnet into the street, and tries to carry home shadowed
it from the newly-lighted lamps
     But Miss Tox is not a  part of  Mr Dombey's world. She comes back every
evening at  dusk; adding clogs and  an umbrella to the bonnet on wet nights;
and bears the grins of Towlinson, and the huffs and rebuffs  of Mrs Pipchin,
and all to  ask how he  does, and how he bears  his misfortune:  but she has
nothing to  do  with Mr Dombey's  world. Exacting and harassing as  ever, it
goes on without her; and she, a by no means bright or particular star, moves
in her  little  orbit in the corner of  another system, and knows  it  quite
well, and comes, and cries, and goes away, and is satisfied. Verily Miss Tox
is easier of satisfaction than the world that troubles Mr Dombey so much!
     At the Counting House, the clerks discuss the great disaster in all its
lights  and shades, but chiefly wonder  who will get Mr Carker's place. They
are  generally of opinion that it will be  shorn of some of its  emoluments,
and  made  uncomfortable by newly-devised checks and restrictions; and those
who are beyond all hope of it are quite sure  they would rather not have it,
and  don't at  all envy the person  for  whom  it may prove to  be reserved.
Nothing like the  prevailing sensation has existed  in  the  Counting  House
since Mr Dombey's little son died; but  all such  excitements there  take  a
social,  not  to  say a jovial turn,  and  lead to the  cultivation of  good
fellowship.  A reconciliation is established  on  this  propitious  occasion
between the acknowledged  wit of the Counting  House  and an aspiring rival,
with whom he has been at deadly feud  for months; and a little dinner  being
proposed, in commemoration of their happily restored amity, takes place at a
neighbouring   tavern;  the   wit   in   the  chair;  the  rival  acting  as
Vice-President. The orations  following the removal of the cloth are  opened
by the Chair, who says, Gentlemen,  he can't disguise from himself that this
is not  a time for private dissensions. Recent occurrences to which he  need
not more particularly allude, but  which  have not  been  altogether without
notice  in some Sunday Papers,' and in a daily paper which he need not  name
(here every other member of the company names it in an audible murmur), have
caused him to reflect;  and he  feels that for him and Robinson to have  any
personal differences at such a moment, would be  for ever to deny  that good
feeling in the general cause, for which he has reason to think and hope that
the  gentlemen in Dombey's  House have  always been  distinguished. Robinson
replies to this like a man  and a brother; and one gentleman who has been in
the office three  years, under continual notice to quit on account of lapses
in his arithmetic, appears in a perfectly new light, suddenly  bursting  out
with a thrilling speech, in which he  says, May their  respected chief never
again know the desolation which has fallen on  his hearth! and  says a great
variety of things, beginning with  'May he never again,'  which are received
with thunders  of applause. In  short,  a most delightful evening is passed,
only interrupted by a difference between two juniors, who, quarrelling about
the probable amount of Mr Carker's  late receipts per annum, defy each other
with decanters, and are taken out greatly excited.  Soda water is in general
request at  the  office next  day, and most  of the party deem  the  bill an
imposition.
     As to Perch,  the  messenger, he is in a fair  way of  being ruined for
life. He  finds  himself again constantly  in bars  of  public-houses, being
treated and lying  dreadfully. It appears that he met everybody concerned in
the late  transaction, everywhere, and  said to them,  'Sir,' or 'Madam,' as
the case  was, 'why do you  look so pale?' at which each shuddered from head
to foot, and said, 'Oh, Perch!'  and ran away.  Either  the consciousness of
these enormities, or the reaction  consequent on liquor, reduces Mr Perch to
an extreme state of low  spirits at that hour of the evening when he usually
seeks consolation  in the society of Mrs Perch at Balls Pond;  and Mrs Perch
frets a good deal,  for she fears his confidence in woman is shaken now, and
that he half expects on coming home at night to find  her gone off with some
Viscount - 'which,'  as  she observes to an intimate female friend, 'is what
these wretches in the form  of woman have to answer for, Mrs P. It ain't the
harm they  do themselves so  much as what they reflect upon us, Ma'am; and I
see it in Perch's eye.
     Mr Dombey's servants  are becoming, at the same time, quite dissipated,
and unfit for other service. They have hot suppers every night, and 'talk it
over' with smoking  drinks  upon the  board. Mr  Towlinson is always maudlin
after half-past ten, and frequently begs  to know whether he didn't say that
no good would ever come of living in a corner house? They whisper about Miss
Florence, and wonder where she is; but agree that if Mr  Dombey  don't know,
Mrs Dombey does. This brings them to the latter, of whom Cook  says, She had
a stately way though, hadn't she? But she was  too high! They all agree that
she was too high, and Mr  Towlinson's old  flame, the housemaid (who is very
virtuous), entreats that  you  will never talk to  her any more about people
who hold their heads up, as if the ground wasn't good enough for 'em.
     Everything that is said and done about it, except by Mr Dombey, is done
in chorus. Mr Dombey and the world are alone together.


     Secret Intelligence

     Good Mrs Brown and her daughter Alice kept silent company  together, in
their own dwelling. It was early in the evening, and late in the spring. But
a few days  had elapsed  since Mr  Dombey had  told  Major  Bagstock  of his
singular  intelligence, singularly obtained, which  might  turn  out  to  be
valueless, and might turn  out  to  be true; and the world was not satisfied
yet.
     The mother and  daughter sat  for a long time  without  interchanging a
word: almost without  motion.  The old woman's face was shrewdly anxious and
expectant;  that  of  her daughter  was  expectant too, but in  a less sharp
degree, and sometimes it darkened, as if  with gathering disappointment  and
incredulity. The old woman, without heeding these changes in its expression,
though her eyes were often turned towards it, sat mumbling and munching, and
listening confidently.
     Their abode, though poor and miserable,  was not so utterly wretched as
in  the  days when only Good Mrs Brown  inhabited  it. Some  few attempts at
cleanliness and order were  manifest, though made in a  reckless, gipsy way,
that  might have connected them,  at a glance, with the  younger woman.  The
shades of evening thickened and deepened as the two kept  silence, until the
blackened walls were nearly lost in the prevailing gloom.
     Then Alice broke the silence which had lasted so long, and said:
     'You may give him up, mother. He'll not come here.'
     'Death give him up!' returned the old woman, impatiently. 'He will come
here.'
     'We shall see,' said Alice.
     'We shall see him,' returned her mother.
     'And doomsday,' said the daughter.
     'You think I'm  in my second childhood, I know!' croaked the old woman.
'That's  the respect and duty that I get from my own gal, but I'm wiser than
you  take me  for.  He'll come. T'other day when  I touched his  coat in the
street, he looked round as if I was a toad. But Lord, to see him when I said
their names, and asked him if he'd like to find out where they was!'
     'Was it so angry?' asked her daughter, roused to interest in a moment.
     'Angry? ask if it was bloody. That's more like the word. Angry? Ha, ha!
To call that  only angry!' said the old woman, hobbling to the cupboard, and
lighting  a  candle,  which  displayed  the workings  of  her mouth  to ugly
advantage, as she brought it  to the  table. 'I might as well call your face
only angry, when you think or talk about 'em.'
     It was something different from that, truly, as she  sat as still as  a
crouched tigress, with her kindling eyes.
     'Hark!' said the old woman, triumphantly. 'I hear a  step coming.  It's
not the tread of anyone that lives about here, or comes this  way often.  We
don't  walk like that.  We should grow proud on such neighbours! Do you hear
him?'
     'I believe you are right, mother,'  replied  Alice,  in  a  low  voice.
'Peace! open the door.'
     As she drew herself within her shawl,  and gathered it  about  her, the
old woman  complied; and peering  out, and beckoning,  gave  admission to Mr
Dombey,  who  stopped  when he had set  his foot within the door, and looked
distrustfully around.
     'It's a poor  place  for a great gentleman like your worship,' said the
old woman, curtseying and chattering. 'I told you so, but there's no harm in
it.'
     'Who is that?' asked Mr Dombey, looking at her companion.
     'That's my handsome daughter,' said the  old woman. 'Your worship won't
mind her. She knows all about it.'
     A shadow fell  upon his face not less expressive than if he had groaned
aloud, 'Who does not know all about it!'  but he looked at her steadily, and
she, without any acknowledgment of  his presence, looked at him. The  shadow
on his face was  darker when he turned  his glance away from her;  and  even
then  it wandered back again, furtively, as if he were  haunted by her  bold
eyes, and some remembrance they inspired.
     'Woman,' said Mr Dombey to the  old witch who was chucKling and leering
close at  his  elbow,  and  who,  when  he  turned to  address  her, pointed
stealthily at her daughter, and rubbed her hands, and pointed again, 'Woman!
I believe that I am weak and forgetful of my station in coming here, but you
know why I come, and what you offered when  you stopped me in the street the
other  day. What  is it that you have to tell  me concerning  what I want to
know; and  how does it happen that I can  find voluntary intelligence  in  a
hovel like this,' with a disdainful glance about him,  'when  I have exerted
my power and means to obtain it in  vain? I do not think,' he said, after  a
moment's  pause, during which he had observed her, sternly, 'that you are so
audacious  as to mean to trifle with me, or endeavour to impose upon me. But
if  you  have  that purpose,  you had better stop on the threshold  of  your
scheme.  My humour is  not a trifling one,  and my  acknowledgment  will  be
severe.'
     'Oh a proud, hard gentleman!' chuckled the old woman, shaking her head,
and  rubbing her shrivelled hands, 'oh  hard, hard, hard!  But  your worship
shall  see with your  own eyes and hear with your own ears;  not with ours -
and if  your worship's put upon their track, you won't mind paying something
for it, will you, honourable deary?'
     'Money,' returned  Mr Dombey,  apparently relieved, and assured by this
inquiry, 'will bring about unlikely things, I know.  It  may turn even means
as unexpected and unpromising  as  these, to account. Yes. For any  reliable
information  I receive,  I will pay. But I must have the  information first,
and judge for myself of its value.'
     'Do  you know  nothing  more  powerful than  money?'  asked the younger
woman, without rising, or altering her attitude.
     'Not here, I should imagine,' said Mr Dombey.
     'You should know of something  that  is more  powerful elsewhere, as  I
judge,' she returned. 'Do you know nothing of a woman's anger?'
     'You have a saucy tongue, Jade,' said Mr Dombey.
     'Not  usually,' she answered, without any show of emotion:  'I speak to
you now, that you  may understand us better, and rely more on  us. A woman's
anger  is pretty  much the same here,  as in your fine house.  I am angry. I
have been so, many years. I have as good cause for my anger as you have  for
yours, and its object is the same man.'
     He started, in spite of himself, and looked at her with
     astonishment.
     'Yes,' she said, with a kind  of laugh. 'Wide as the distance  may seem
between us, it  is  so. How it is  so, is no matter; that is my story, and I
keep my story to myself. I would bring you and him together, because  I have
a rage against him. My mother there, is  avaricious and poor; and she  would
sell any  tidings she could glean, or anything, or anybody, for money. It is
fair  enough, perhaps, that you  should pay her some, if she can help you to
what you want to know. But  that is not my motive. I have told you what mine
is, and  it would be as strong and all-sufficient with me if you haggled and
bargained  with  her for a  sixpence. I  have done. My saucy  tongue says no
more, if you wait here till sunrise tomorrow.'
     The old woman, who had shown great uneasiness during this speech, which
had a tendency  to depreciate her expected gains, pulled Mr Dombey softly by
the sleeve, and whispered to him not to mind her. He glared at them both, by
turns, with a haggard look, and said, in a  deeper voice than was usual with
him:
     'Go on - what do you know?'
     'Oh, not so fast, your worship! we must wait for someone,' answered the
old woman. 'It's to  be got from  someone  else - wormed out  -  screwed and
twisted from him.'
     'What do you mean?' said Mr Dombey.
     'Patience,' she croaked, laying her  hand, like  a  claw, upon his arm.
'Patience. I'll get at it. I know I can! If he was to hold it back from me,'
said Good Mrs Brown, crooking her ten fingers, 'I'd tear it out of him!'
     Mr Dombey  followed her with his eyes as  she hobbled to the door,  and
looked out again: and then his glance sought her daughter;  but she remained
impassive, silent, and regardless of him.
     'Do you tell me,  woman,' he said, when  the  bent figure of  Mrs Brown
came back, shaking its head and chattering to itself, 'that there is another
person expected here?'
     'Yes!' said the old woman, looking up into his face, and nodding.
     'From whom you are to  exact  the intelligence  that is to be useful to
me?'
     'Yes,' said the old woman, nodding again.
     'A stranger?'
     'Chut!' said the old woman, with a shrill laugh. 'What signifies! Well,
well; no. No stranger  to your worship. But he won't see you. He'd be afraid
of you, and wouldn't talk. You'll stand behind that door, and judge  him for
yourself. We don't ask to be believed on trust What! Your worship doubts the
room behind the door? Oh the suspicion of you rich gentlefolks! Look  at it,
then.'
     Her sharp eye had detected an involuntary expression of this feeling on
his   part,  which  was  not   unreasonable   under  the  circumstances.  In
satisfaction of  it she  now took  the  candle to the door she spoke  of. Mr
Dombey looked in; assured himself  that  it was  an empty, crazy  room;  and
signed to her to put the light back in its place.
     'How long,' he asked, 'before this person comes?'
     'Not long,'  she  answered. 'Would your worship sit down for a few  odd
minutes?'
     He made no answer; but began pacing the room with an irresolute air, as
if he were  undecided whether  to remain or depart,  and as if  he  had some
quarrel with himself for being there at all. But soon his tread grew  slower
and heavier, and his face more sternly thoughtful!; as the object with which
he had come, fixed itself in his mind, and dilated there again.
     While  he  thus walked up and  down with his  eyes  on the ground,  Mrs
Brown, in  the chair  from which she had risen to receive him, sat listening
anew. The monotony of his step, or the  uncertainty of age, made her so slow
of hearing, that a  footfall without had sounded in her daughter's ears  for
some moments,  and she  had looked up  hastily  to warn  her  mother of  its
approach, before the  old woman was roused  by it. But then she started from
her seat,  and  whispering 'Here he is!' hurried her visitor to his place of
observation, and put a  bottle and glass upon the table, with such alacrity,
as  to be ready to fling her  arms  round the neck of Rob the Grinder on his
appearance at the door.
     'And  here's my bonny boy,'  cried Mrs  Brown,  'at last!  - oho,  oho!
You're like my own son, Robby!'
     'Oh! Misses Brown!' remonstrated the Grinder. 'Don't! Can't you be fond
of  a  cove  without  squeedging and throttling  of him?  Take  care  of the
birdcage in my hand, will you?'
     'Thinks of a birdcage, afore me!'  cried  the old woman, apostrophizing
the ceiling. 'Me that feels more than a mother for him!'
     'Well,  I'm sure I'm very much  obliged to you, Misses Brown,' said the
unfortunate youth, greatly aggravated; 'but you're so jealous of a cove. I'm
very fond of you myself,  and all that, of course; but I  don't smother you,
do I, Misses Brown?'
     He looked  and spoke as  if he wOuld have been far from objecting to do
so, however, on a favourable occasion.
     'And to talk about birdcages, too!' whimpered the Grinder. 'As  If that
was a crime! Why, look'ee here! Do you know who this belongs to?'
     'To Master, dear?' said the old woman with a grin.
     'Ah!' replied the Grinder, lifting  a  large cage tied up in a wrapper,
on the  table, and untying it  with his  teeth and  hands. 'It's our parrot,
this is.'
     'Mr Carker's parrot, Rob?'
     'Will you hold your tongue, Misses Brown?' returned the goaded Grinder.
'What  do you go naming names  for? I'm  blest,' said  Rob, pulling his hair
with both hands in the exasperation of his feelings, 'if she ain't enough to
make a cove run wild!'
     'What! Do you snub me, thankless boy!' cried  the old woman, with ready
vehemence.
     'Good gracious, Misses Brown, no!' returned  the Grinder, with tears in
his eyes. 'Was there ever such a - ! Don't I dote upon you, Misses Brown?'
     'Do you, sweet Rob? Do you truly,  chickabiddy?'  With that, Mrs  Brown
held him in her fond embrace once more; and did not release him until he had
made several violent and ineffectual struggles with  his legs,  and his hair
was standing on end all over his head.
     'Oh!' returned the Grinder, 'what a thing it is to be perfectly pitched
into with  affection like this  here.  I wish she was  - How  have you been,
Misses Brown?'
     'Ah! Not here since this night week!' said the old woman, contemplating
him with a look of reproach.
     'Good gracious, Misses Brown,' returned the Grinder, 'I  said tonight's
a week, that I'd come tonight, didn't  I? And here I am. How you do go on! I
wish you'd be a little rational, Misses Brown. I'm hoarse with saying things
in my defence, and  my very face is  shiny with being hugged!'  He rubbed it
hard with his sleeve, as if to remove the tender polish in question.
     'Drink a  little drop  to comfort you,  my  Robin,' said the old woman,
filling the glass from the bottle and giving it to him.
     'Thank'ee,  Misses  Brown,' returned the  Grinder. 'Here's your health.
And long may you - et ceterer.' Which, to judge from the expression  of  his
face,  did  not include any very choice blessings. 'And  here's her health,'
said the  Grinder,  glancing at Alice, who  sat with her eyes fixed,  as  it
seemed to him, on the wall behind him, but in reality on Mr Dombey's face at
the door, 'and wishing her the same and many of 'em!'
     He drained the glass to these two sentiments, and set it down.
     'Well, I  say, Misses Brown!' he proceeded. 'To go on a little rational
now. You're a judge of birds, and up to their ways, as I know to my cost.'
     'Cost!' repeated Mrs Brown.
     'Satisfaction,  I mean,' returned  the Grinder. 'How  you do take  up a
cove, Misses Brown! You've put it all out of my head again.'
     'Judge of birds, Robby,' suggested the old woman.
     'Ah!' said  the Grinder. 'Well, I've got to  take care of this parrot -
certain things being sold, and a certain establishment broke up -  and as  I
don't want no notice took at present, I wish  you'd attend to her for a week
or so, and give  her board and  lodging, will you? If I must come  backwards
and forwards,' mused the Grinder with a dejected  face, 'I may  as well have
something to come for.'
     'Something to come for?' screamed the old woman.
     'Besides you, I mean, Misses Brown,' returned the craven Rob. 'Not that
I want any  inducement  but yourself,  Misses Brown,  I'm  sure. Don't begin
again, for goodness' sake.'
     'He don't care for me! He don't care for me, as I care  for him!' cried
Mrs Brown, lifting up her skinny hands. 'But I'll take care of his bird.'
     'Take good care of it too, you know, Mrs Brown,' said Rob,  shaking his
head.  'If  you was so much as  to stroke its feathers once the wrong way, I
believe it would be found out.'
     'Ah, so sharp as that, Rob?' said Mrs Brown, quickly.
     'Sharp,  Misses  Brown!'  repeated  Rob. 'But this is  not to be talked
about.'
     Checking himself abruptly, and not without a fearful glance across  the
room,  Rob filled the glass again, and having slowly  emptied it, shook  his
head, and began  to draw  his  fingers across  and across the wires  of  the
parrot's cage by way  of a diversion from  the dangerous theme that had just
been broached.
     The old  woman eyed  him slily, and hitching her chair nearer his,  and
looking in  at the parrot, who  came down from the gilded  dome at her call,
said:
     'Out of place now, Robby?'
     'Never you mind, Misses Brown,' returned the Grinder, shortly.
     'Board wages, perhaps, Rob?' said Mrs Brown.
     'Pretty Polly!' said the Grinder.
     The old woman darted a  glance at him  that  might have  warned him  to
consider his ears in danger, but it was his turn to  look  in at the  parrot
now, and however expressive his imagination may have  made her angry  scowl,
it was unseen by his bodily eyes.
     'I wonder Master didn't take you with him, Rob,' said the old woman, in
a wheedling voice, but with increased malignity of aspect.
     Rob was so absorbed in contemplation of the parrot, and in trolling his
forefinger on the wires, that he made no answer.
     The old woman had  her clutch within a hair's breadth of  his shock  of
hair as it stooped over the table; but she restrained her fingers, and said,
in a voice that choked with its efforts to be coaxing:
     'Robby, my child.'
     'Well, Misses Brown,' returned the Grinder.
     'I say I wonder Master didn't take you with him, dear.'
     'Never you mind, Misses Brown,' returned the Grinder.
     Mrs Brown instantly directed the  clutch of her right hand at his hair,
and the clutch of her left hand at  his throat, and held on to the object of
her  fond affection  with such extraordinary fury,  that  his  face began to
blacken in a moment.
     'Misses Brown!' exclaimed the Grinder, 'let go, will  you? What are you
doing of? Help, young woman! Misses Brow- Brow- !'
     The young woman, however,  equally unmoved by his direct appeal to her,
and  by his  inarticulate utterance,  remained  quite neutral,  until, after
struggling  with his assailant  into a  corner, Rob disengaged himself,  and
stood  there panting and  fenced in by his  own elbows, while the old woman,
panting too, and stamping with rage and eagerness, appeared to be collecting
her energies for another swoop upon him. At this crisis Alice interposed her
voice, but not in the Grinder's favour, by saying,
     'Well done, mother. Tear him to pieces!'
     'What, young woman!' blubbered Rob; 'are you  against me too? What have
I been and done? What  am I to be tore to pieces for, I should like to know?
Why do you take and choke a cove who has never done you any harm, neither of
you?  Call  yourselves  females,  too!'  said the  frightened  and afflicted
Grinder, with his coat-cuff at his eye. 'I'm surprised at  you! Where's your
feminine tenderness?'
     'You thankless dog!' gasped Mrs Brown. 'You impudent insulting dog!'
     'What have I been and done to  go and  give you offence, Misses Brown?'
retorted the fearful Rob. 'You was very much attached to me a minute ago.'
     'To cut me off with  his  short answers and his sulky  words,' said the
old  woman. 'Me!  Because I  happen to  be curious to  have a  little bit of
gossip about Master and the lady, to dare to play at fast and loose with me!
But I'll talk to you no more, my lad. Now go!'
     'I'm  sure,  Misses  Brown,'  returned  the  abject Grinder,  'I  never
Insiniwated that I wished to  go. Don't talk like that, Misses Brown, if you
please.'
     'I  won't talk at all,' said  Mrs Brown, with an action of  her crooked
fingers that  made  him shrink into half his  natural compass in the corner.
'Not another word with him shall pass my lips. He's an  ungrateful  hound. I
cast him off. Now let him go! And I'll slip those  after him that shall talk
too  much; that won't be shook  away; that'll  hang to him like leeches, and
slink arter  him  like foxes. What! He knows 'em. He knows his old games and
his old ways.  If  he's forgotten 'em, they'll  soon remind him. Now let him
go, and see how he'll do Master's business,  and keep Master's secrets, with
such company always following him up and down. Ha, ha, ha! He'll find 'em  a
different sort  from you and  me, Ally;  Close as he is with you and me. Now
let him go, now let him go!'
     The old woman, to the  unspeakable  dismay  of the Grinder,  walked her
twisted figure round  and  round, in  a ring of  some four feet in diameter,
constantly repeating these words, and shaking her fist  above  her head, and
working her mouth about.
     'Misses Brown,'  pleaded  Rob, coming a little out of his corner,  'I'm
sure  you wouldn't  injure a cove,  on second thoughts, and  in cold  blood,
would you?'
     'Don't talk  to  me,'  said Mrs  Brown, still  wrathfully  pursuing her
circle. 'Now let him go, now let him go!'
     'Misses Brown,'  urged the  tormented Grinder, 'I didn't  mean to - Oh,
what a thing it is for a cove to get  into such a line as this! - I was only
careful of  talking, Misses  Brown,  because I always am, on  account of his
being up to everything; but I  might  have known it  wouldn't  have gone any
further.  I'm sure  I'm  quite  agreeable,'  with  a wretched face, 'for any
little  bit of  gossip, Misses Brown. Don't go on like this, if  you please.
Oh, couldn't you  have the goodness to put in a word  for a miserable  cove,
here?' said the Grinder, appealing in desperation to the daughter.
     'Come,  mother,  you hear what he says,' she  interposed, in her  stern
voice, and with an impatient  action of her head; 'try him once more, and if
you fall out with him again, ruin him, if you like, and have done with him.'
     Mrs  Brown,  moved  as  it  seemed  by  this  very  tender exhortation,
presently began  to  howl;  and softening by  degrees, took  the  apologetic
Grinder to  her arms, who embraced  her with a face of unutterable woe,  and
like a victim as he was, resumed his former seat,  close by the  side of his
venerable friend,  whom he suffered, not without  much constrained sweetness
of countenance, combating very expressive physiognomical revelations  of  an
opposite character to draw his arm through hers, and keep it there.
     'And how's  Master, deary dear?' said Mrs Brown,  when, sitting in this
amicable posture, they had pledged each other.
     'Hush! If you'd be so good, Misses Brown, as to speak a  little lower,'
Rob implored. 'Why, he's pretty well, thank'ee, I suppose.'
     'You're not out of place, Robby?' said Mrs Brown, in a wheedling tone.
     'Why,  I'm  not exactly out of place,  nor in,' faltered Rob. 'I -  I'm
still in pay, Misses Brown.'
     'And nothing to do, Rob?'
     'Nothing particular to do just now, Misses Brown, but to - keep my eyes
open, said the Grinder, rolling them in a forlorn way.
     'Master abroad, Rob?'
     'Oh,  for goodness' sake, Misses Brown, couldn't you gossip with a cove
about anything else?' cried the Grinder, in a burst of despair.
     The impetuous Mrs Brown  rising directly, the tortured Grinder detained
her,  stammering 'Ye-es,  Misses Brown,  I believe he's abroad.  What's  she
staring  at?' he added, in allusion  to the daughter, whose  eyes were fixed
upon the face that now again looked out behind
     'Don't  mind  her,  lad,' said  the  old woman, holding him  closer  to
prevent his  turning round. 'It's her way - her  way. Tell me, Rob. Did  you
ever see the lady, deary?'
     'Oh, Misses Brown,  what lady?'  cried the Grinder in a tone of piteous
supplication.
     'What lady?' she retorted. 'The lady; Mrs Dombey.'
     'Yes, I believe I see her once,' replied Rob.
     'The night she went away, Robby,  eh?' said the old woman  in his  ear,
and  taking note  of  every  change in  his  face. 'Aha!  I know it was that
night.'
     'Well, if you know it was that night, you know, Misses  Brown,' replied
Rob, 'it's no use putting pinchers into a cove to make him say so.
     'Where did  they go  that night, Rob?  Straight  away? How did they go?
Where did you see her? Did she  laugh? Did she cry? Tell  me  all about it,'
cried the  old hag, holding him closer yet, patting the hand that was  drawn
through his arm against her other hand, and searching every line in his face
with her  bleared eyes. 'Come! Begin!  I want to be told all about it. What,
Rob, boy!  You and  me can keep a secret together, eh? We've done so  before
now. Where did they go first, Rob?'
     The wretched Grinder made a gasp, and a pause.
     'Are you dumb?' said the old woman, angrily.
     'Lord, Misses  Brown, no! You expect a cove to be a flash of lightning.
I wish I was  the electric fluency,' muttered  the bewildered Grinder.  'I'd
have a shock at somebody, that would settle their business.'
     'What do you say?' asked the old woman, with a grin.
     'I'm  wishing my  love  to you, Misses  Brown,' returned the false Rob,
seeking consolation in  the glass. 'Where did they go to  first was  it? Him
and her, do you mean?'
     'Ah!' said the old woman, eagerly. 'Them two.'
     'Why, they didn't go nowhere - not together, I mean,' answered Rob.
     The old woman looked at  him, as though she had  a strong  impulse upon
her to make  another clutch at his  head and throat, but was restrained by a
certain dogged mystery in his face.
     'That was the  art of it,' said the reluctant Grinder;  'that's the way
nobody  saw  'em  go, or has been  able  to say  how they did  go. They went
different ways, I tell you Misses Brown.
     'Ay, ay, ay! To meet at an  appointed place,'  chuckled the  old woman,
after a moment's silent and keen scrutiny of his face.
     'Why, if they weren't a going to meet somewhere, I  suppose  they might
as well  have stayed at home, mightn't they, Brown?' returned the  unwilling
Grinder.
     'Well, Rob?  Well?'  said the  old woman,  drawing his  arm yet tighter
through her own,  as if, in  her eagerness,  she were afraid of his slipping
away.
     'What, haven't  we  talked  enough  yet,  Misses  Brown?'  returned the
Grinder, who, between his  sense of injury, his sense  of  liquor,  and  his
sense  of being  on the rack, had become so lachrymose, that at almost every
answer he scooped his coats into one or  other  of his eyes, and  uttered an
unavailing whine  of remonstrance. 'Did she laugh that night, was it? Didn't
you ask if she laughed, Misses Brown?'
     'Or cried?' added the old woman, nodding assent.
     'Neither,' said the Grinder. 'She kept as steady when  she and me - oh,
I see you  will have it  out of me, Misses Brown!  But take your solemn oath
now, that you'll never tell anybody.'
     This Mrs Brown very readily did: being naturally Jesuitical; and having
no other intention in the matter than that her concealed visitor should hear
for himself.
     'She kept  as steady, then, when she and me went down  to Southampton,'
said the Grinder, 'as a image. In the morning she  was just the same, Misses
Brown. And when she went away in the packet before daylight, by herself - me
pretending to be her servant, and seeing her safe aboard -  she was just the
same. Now, are you contented, Misses Brown?'
     'No, Rob. Not yet,' answered Mrs Brown, decisively.
     'Oh, here's a woman for you!' cried the unfortunate Rob, in an outburst
of feeble lamentation over his own helplessness.
     'What did you wish to know next, Misses Brown?'
     'What became of Master? Where did  he go?' she  inquired, still holding
hIm tight, and looking close into his face, with her sharp eyes.
     'Upon my soul, I don't know, Misses Brown,' answered Rob.
     'Upon my soul I don't know what he did, nor where he went, nor anything
about  him I only know what  he said to me as  a caution  to hold my tongue,
when we parted; and I tell you this, Misses  Brown, as a friend, that sooner
than ever repeat  a word of what we're saying now,  you had  better take and
shoot yourself, or shut  yourself up in this house, and  set it  a-fire, for
there's nothing he wouldn't do, to be revenged  upon you. You don't know him
half as well as I do, Misses Brown. You're never safe from him, I tell you.'
     'Haven't I taken  an  oath,' retorted the  old woman, 'and won't I keep
it?'
     'Well, I'm sure I hope you will, Misses  Brown,' returned Rob, somewhat
doubtfully, and not without a  latent threatening in his  manner. 'For  your
own sake, quite as much as mine'
     He  looked at her as he gave her  this friendly caution, and emphasized
it with a nodding of his head; but finding it uncomfortable to encounter the
yellow face with its  grotesque action, and the ferret  eyes with their keen
old  wintry gaze, so close  to  his  own, he looked down  uneasily  and  sat
skulking  in  his chair,  as if he were  trying to bring hImself to a sullen
declaration  that he would answer  no more questions.  The old woman,  still
holding  him  as before, took this opportunity of raising the  forefinger of
her right hand, in  the air,  as a stealthy signal to the concealed observer
to give particular attention to what was about to follow.
     'Rob,' she said, in her most coaxing tone.
     'Good  gracious, Misses  Brown,  what's the  matter now?'  returned the
exasperated Grinder.
     'Rob! where did the lady and Master appoint to meet?'
     Rob shuffled more  and more, and looked up and looked down, and bit his
thumb, and dried it on his waistcoat, and finally said, eyeing his tormentor
askance, 'How should I know, Misses Brown?'
     The old woman held up her finger again, as before, and replying, 'Come,
lad! It's no use leading me to  that, and  there leaving me. I want to know'
waited for his  answer. Rob, after  a discomfited pause, suddenly broke  out
with, 'How can I pronounce the names of foreign places,  Mrs Brown?  What an
unreasonable woman you are!'
     'But you have heard it said, Robby,' she retorted firmly, 'and you know
what it sounded like. Come!'
     'I never heard it said, Misses Brown,' returned the Grinder.
     'Then,' retorted the old woman quickly,  'you have seen it written, and
you can spell it.'
     Rob, with a petulant exclamation between laughing  and crying - for  he
was  penetrated  with some admiration of Mrs  Brown's cunning,  even through
this persecution -  after  some reluctant  fumbling in his waistcoat pocket,
produced from it a little piece of chalk. The old woman's eyes sparkled when
she saw it between his thumb and finger, and hastily clearing a space on the
deal  table, that  he might  write the  word there, she once  more  made her
signal with a shaking hand.
     'Now I tell you beforehand what  it is, Misses Brown,' said  Rob, 'it's
no use asking me  anything else. I won't answer anything else; I  can't. How
long it was to be  before they met, or whose plan it was that they was to go
away  alone, I don't know no more than you do. I don't  know any  more about
it. If  I was to tell  you how I  found out  this word, you'd believe  that.
Shall I tell you, Misses Brown?'
     'Yes, Rob.'
     'Well then,  Misses Brown. The  way - now you won't  ask  any more, you
know?'  said Rob, turning  his eyes, which were now fast getting  drowsy and
stupid, upon her.
     'Not another word,' said Mrs Brown.
     'Well then, the way was this. When a certain person  left the lady with
me, he put  a piece of  paper with a direction written on  it in  the lady's
hand, saying  it was  in  case  she  should  forget.  She  wasn't  afraid of
forgetting, for she tore  it  up as soon as his back was turned, and when  I
put up the carriage steps, I shook out one of the pieces - she sprinkled the
rest  out of the window, I  suppose,  for there was none  there  afterwards,
though  I looked for  'em. There was only one word on it, and that was this,
if you  must and  will know. But remember! You're  upon  your  oath,  Misses
Brown!'
     Mrs Brown knew  that, she said. Rob, having nothing more  to say, began
to chalk, slowly and laboriously, on the table.
     '"D,"' the old woman read aloud, when he had formed the letter.
     'Will you hold your tongue, Misses  Brown?' he  exclaimed, covering  it
with his hand, and turning impatiently upon her. 'I won't  have it read out.
Be quiet, will you!'
     'Then write  large,  Rob,' she returned, repeating  her  secret signal;
'for my eyes are not good, even at print.'
     Muttering to  himself, and returning to his work with  an ill will, Rob
went  on with the  word.  As he bent his  head  down, the  person for  whose
information he so unconsciously laboured, moved from the door behind  him to
within a  short stride of  his  shoulder,  and  looked  eagerly  towards the
creeping track of his hand upon the table. At the same time, Alice, from her
opposite chair, watched it  narrowly as it  shaped the letters, and repeated
each one  on her lips as he made it,  without articulating  it aloud. At the
end of every letter  her eyes and Mr Dombey's met, as if each of them sought
to be confirmed by the other; and thus they both spelt D.I.J.O.N.
     'There!' said the Grinder, moistening the palm of his hand hastily,  to
obliterate  the word; and not  content  with  smearing it  out,  rubbing and
planing all trace of it away with his coat-sleeve,  until the very colour of
the chalk  was gone  from the table. 'Now,  I hope you're  contented, Misses
Brown!'
     The old woman,  in token of  her being so,  released his arm and patted
his back; and the Grinder, overcome with  mortification,  cross-examination,
and  liquor, folded his arms on the table, laid his head upon them, and fell
asleep.
     Not  until  he  had  been heavily asleep  some  time,  and was  snoring
roundly, did  the old woman turn  towards the  door  where Mr  Dombey  stood
concealed, and beckon him to come through the room, and pass out. Even then,
she hovered over Rob, ready  to blind him with her hands, or strike his head
down,  if he should raise it while the secret step was crossing to the door.
But though her glance took sharp cognizance of the sleeper, it was sharp too
for the waking man; and when he  touched her hand with his, and in  spite of
all his caution, made a chinking,  golden sound, it was as bright and greedy
as a raven's.
     The  daughter's dark gaze followed him  to the door, and noted well how
pale he was, and how his hurried tread indicated that the least delay was an
insupportable  restraint upon him, and how he  was burning to be active  and
away. As  he closed the door behind him, she looked round at her mother. The
old woman  trotted  to her; opened her hand to  show  what was within;  and,
tightly closing it again in her jealousy and avarice, whispered:
     'What will he do, Ally?'
     'Mischief,' said the daughter.
     'Murder?' asked the old woman.
     'He's a madman,  in his wounded pride, and may do that, for anything we
can say, or he either.'
     Her glance was brighter  than her  mother's, and the fire that shone in
it was fiercer; but her face was colourless, even to her lips
     They  said no more, but sat apart; the mother communing with her money;
the daughter with her thoughts; the  glance of each, shining in the gloom of
the  feebly lighted room. Rob  slept and snored. The disregarded parrot only
was in  action.  It  twisted and pulled  at the wires of its  cage, with its
crooked beak, and crawled up to the dome, and along its roof like a fly, and
down again head foremost,  and shook, and  bit, and rattled at every slender
bar, as if it knew its master's danger, and was wild to force a passage out,
and fly away to warn him of it.


     More Intelligence

     There were two of  the traitor's own blood - his renounced  brother and
sister - on whom the weight of his guilt rested almost more heavily, at this
time, than on the man whom  he had so deeply  injured. Prying and tormenting
as the world was, it did Mr Dombey the service of nerving him to pursuit and
revenge. It roused his passion, stung his pride, twisted the one idea of his
life into a new shape, and made some gratification of  his wrath, the object
into which  his  whole  intellectual  existence  resolved  itself.  All  the
stubbornness and implacability  of his  nature,  all its  hard  impenetrable
quality, all its gloom and moroseness, all its exaggerated sense of personal
importance, all its jealous  disposition  to resent  the  least flaw in  the
ample recognition  of  his importance by  others,  set this  way  like  many
streams  united  into  one,  and bore  him on  upon  their  tide.  The  most
impetuously  passionate and violently impulsive of mankind would have been a
milder  enemy to encounter than the sullen Mr Dombey wrought to this. A wild
beast  would have been  easier  turned or  soothed than the  grave gentleman
without a wrinkle in his starched cravat.
     But  the very intensity of  his purpose became  almost a substitute for
action in it.  While  he  was yet  uninformed of the  traitor's  retreat, it
served to  divert his mind from  his own calamity, and to  entertain it with
another prospect. The  brother and sister of his false favourite had no such
relief; everything in their history, past and present, gave  his delinquency
a more afflicting meaning to them.
     The sister may have  sometimes sadly thought that if  she had  remained
with him, the companion and friend she had been once,  he might have escaped
the  crime into which he had fallen. If she ever  thought so,  it  was still
without regret for what she had done, without the least  doubt of her  duty,
without  any  pricing  or enhancing  of  her  self-devotion.  But  when this
possibility  presented itself to  the erring and  repentant  brother,  as it
sometimes did, it  smote upon his heart with such a keen,  reproachful touch
as he could hardly bear. No idea of retort upon his  cruel brother came into
his  mind. New accusation of himself,  fresh inward lamentings over  his own
unworthiness,  and the ruin in which it was at once his  consolation and his
self-reproach that he did not stand alone, were the sole kind of reflections
to which the discovery gave rise in him.
     It  was on the very same  day whose evening set upon the last  chapter,
and when Mr Dombey's world was busiest  with the elopement of his wife, that
the window  of the room in  which the brother and  sister sat at their early
breakfast, was darkened by  the  unexpected shadow of a man  coming  to  the
little porch: which man was Perch the Messenger.
     'I've  stepped over  from Balls Pond at a early hour,'  said  Mr Perch,
confidentially looking in  at the room door, and stopping on the mat to wipe
his  shoes  all  round,  which  had  no  mud  upon  them,  'agreeable to  my
instructions  last night. They was, to be  sure and bring  a note to you, Mr
Carker, before  you went out in the morning. I should have been  here a good
hour and a half ago,' said Mr Perch, meekly, 'but fOr the state of health of
Mrs P., who I thought I should have lost in the night, I do assure you, five
distinct times.'
     'Is your wife so ill?' asked Harriet.
     'Why, you see,' said Mr Perch, first turning  round to  shut  the  door
carefully, 'she takes what has happened in our House so much to heart, Miss.
Her nerves is so very delicate, you see, and soon unstrung. Not but what the
strongest nerves  had good need to be shook, I'm sure. You feel it very much
yourself, no doubts.
     Harriet repressed a sigh, and glanced at her brother.
     'I'm sure I feel it myself, in my humble way,' Mr Perch went on to say,
with  a shake of his head, 'in a manner I couldn't have believed if I hadn't
been called upon to  undergo. It has almost the  effect of drink upon  me. I
literally feels every morning as if I had been taking more than was good for
me over-night.'
     Mr Perch's appearance corroborated this recital of his symptoms.  There
was an air  of feverish  lassitude about it, that seemed referable to drams;
and, which,  in fact,  might  no doubt  have been traced  to  those numerous
discoveries of  himself in  the  bars of public-houses,  being  treated  and
questioned, which he was in the daily habit of making.
     'Therefore I  can judge,' said Mr Perch, shaking his  head and speaking
in  a  silvery murmur,  'of  the  feelings of such  as is at  all peculiarly
sitiwated in this most painful rewelation.'
     Here Mr Perch  waited to be confided in;  and receiving no  confidence,
coughed behind his hand. This leading to nothing, he coughed behind his hat;
and that leading to nothing, he put his hat on the ground and  sought in his
breast pocket for the letter.
     'If I rightly recollect, there was no  answer,' said  Mr Perch, with an
affable  smile; 'but  perhaps you'll  be so good  as cast your eye  over it,
Sir.'
     John Carker broke the  seal,  which  was  Mr Dombey's,  and  possessing
himself of the contents, which were very brief, replied,
     'No. No answer is expected.'
     'Then I shall  wish you good morning,  Miss,' said Perch, taking a step
toward the door, and hoping, I'm sure, that you'll not permit yourself to be
more reduced in  mind than you can help, by the late painful rewelation. The
Papers,'  said Mr  Perch, taking two  steps back again,  and comprehensively
addressing both the  brother and  sister in  a whisper of increased mystery,
'is more eager for news of it than you'd suppose possible. One of the Sunday
ones,  in a blue cloak  and a white hat, that had previously offered for  to
bribe me - need I  say with what success? - was dodging about our court last
night as late as twenty minutes after eight  o'clock. I see him myself, with
his  eye at the counting-house  keyhole,  which being patent  is impervious.
Another one,' said Mr  Perch, 'with military frogs, is in the parlour of the
King's  Arms all  the blessed day.  I  happened, last week, to let  a little
obserwation fall there, and next morning, which was Sunday, I see  it worked
up in print, in a most surprising manner.'
     Mr Perch resorted to his  breast pocket, as if to produce the paragraph
but receiving no encouragement, pulled out his beaver gloves,  picked up his
hat, and took his  leave; and before it was high noon, Mr Perch  had related
to  several select  audiences at  the  King's Arms and  elsewhere,  how Miss
Carker, bursting into tears, had  caught him by  both hands,  and said, 'Oh!
dear dear Perch, the sight of  you is all the comfort I have left!' and  how
Mr John Carker had said, in an awful voice, 'Perch, I disown him. Never  let
me hear hIm mentioned as a brother more!'
     'Dear John,' said  Harriet, when they were left alone, and had remained
silent for some few moments. 'There are bad tidings in that letter.'
     'Yes. But nothing unexpected,' he replied. 'I saw the writer
     yesterday.'
     'The writer?'
     'Mr  Dombey. He passed  twice through  the Counting House  while I  was
there. I had been able to avoid him before,  but of course could not hope to
do that long. I know how natural it was that he should regard my presence as
something offensive; I felt it must be so, myself.'
     'He did not say so?'
     'No; he  said nothing: but I saw that  his  glance  rested on me  for a
moment, and I was prepared for  what would happen - for what has happened. I
am dismissed!'
     She looked as  little shocked  and as  hopeful as she could, but it was
distressing news, for many reasons.
     '"I need not  tell you"' said John Carker,  reading the  letter,  '"why
your  name would  henceforth have an  unnatural  sound, in however remote  a
connexion with mine, or why the daily sight of anyone who bears it, would be
unendurable to me. I have to notify the cessation of all engagements between
us, from this date, and to request that no renewal of any communication with
me,  or  my  establishment,  be ever  attempted by you."  - Enclosed  is  an
equivalent in money to a generously  long notice, and this is my discharge."
Heaven knows, Harriet, it is a lenient and considerate one, when we remember
all!'
     'If it be lenient and considerate to punish you  at all, John, for  the
misdeed of another,' she replied gently, 'yes.'
     'We have been an ill-omened race  to  him,' said  John  Carker. 'He has
reason  to shrink from the sound of our name,  and  to  think  that there is
something cursed  and wicked in  our blood.  I  should  almost think it too,
Harriet, but for you.'
     'Brother, don't speak like this. If you have any special reason, as you
say you have, and  think  you have - though I say, No!- to love me, spare me
the hearing of such wild mad words!'
     He covered his face with both his hands; but soon permitted her, coming
near him, to take one in her own.
     'After so many years, this parting is a melancholy thing, I know,' said
his sister, 'and the cause  of  it is dreadful to us both. We  have to live,
too,  and must look  about  us  for  the  means. Well, well!  We can  do so,
undismayed. It is our pride, not our trouble, to strive, John, and to strive
together!'
     A  smile played on her lips, as she kissed his cheek, and entreated him
to be of of good cheer.
     'Oh, dearest sister! Tied,  of  your own  noble will, to a  ruined man!
whose reputation  is blighted; who  has no friend himself,  and  has  driven
every friend of yours away!'
     'John!' she  laid  her  hand hastily  upon his lips,  'for my sake!  In
remembrance of our long companionship!' He was silent 'Now, let me tell you,
dear,' quietly sitting by his side, 'I have, as you have, expected this; and
when  I  have been  thinking of it, and fearing that  it would  happen,  and
preparing myself for it, as well as I could, I have resolved to tell you, if
it  should be  so, that I have kept a  secret from you,  and  that we have a
friend.'
     'What's our friend's name, Harriet?' he answered with a sorrowful
     smile.
     'Indeed,  I don't know, but he once made a very earnest protestation to
me  of  his friendship and his wish to serve us: and to  this day I  believe
'him.'
     'Harriet!' exclaimed her wondering brother, 'where does this friend
     live?'
     'Neither do I know that,'  she returned. 'But he knows us both, and our
history - all our little history, John. That is  the  reason why, at his own
suggestion, I have kept  the secret of his coming, here,  from you, lest his
acquaintance with it should distress you.
     'Here! Has he been here, Harriet?'
     'Here, in this room. Once.'
     'What kind of man?'
     'Not young. "Grey-headed," as he said, "and fast  growing greyer."  But
generous, and frank, and good, I am sure.'
     'And only seen once, Harriet?'
     'In this room only once,' said his  sister, with the slightest and most
transient glow upon her cheek; 'but when here, he entreated me to suffer him
to see  me  once a week as  he passed  by, in token of  our being well,  and
continuing  to need nothing at his hands. For I told him, when he  proffered
us any service he could render - which was the object of his visit - that we
needed nothing.'
     'And once a week - '
     'Once every  week since  then,  and always on  the same day, and at the
same hour, he  his  gone past;  always on  foot;  always  going in  the same
direction  - towards London; and never pausing longer than to bow to me, and
wave  his  hand cheerfully, as a kind guardian might.  He made that  promise
when he proposed these curious interviews, and has kept it so faithfully and
pleasantly, that if I ever felt any  trifling uneasiness  about them  in the
beginning (which  I don't think I  did, John; his  manner was  so plain  and
true) It very soon vanished, and left me quite glad when the day was coming.
Last Monday - the first since this terrible event - he did not go by;  and I
have  wondered whether his absence  can have been in any  way connected with
what has happened.'
     'How?' inquired her brother.
     'I  don't know how. I  have only speculated  on the coincidence; I have
not tried to account for it. I feel sure he will return.  When he does, dear
John,  let me tell him that I have at last spoken to you,  and let  me bring
you together. He will certainly help  us  to a new livelihood. His  entreaty
was  that he might  do something to smooth my life and yours; and I gave him
my promise that if we ever wanted a friend, I would remember him.'
     'Then  his name was  to be no secret, 'Harriet,'  said her brother, who
had listened with close attention, 'describe this  gentleman to me. I surely
ought to know one who knows me so well.'
     His sister painted, as vividly as she could, the features, stature, and
dress  of her visitor; but John Carker, either from  having  no knowledge of
the  original,  or  from  some  fault  in  her  description,  or  from  some
abstraction  of his thoughts as he walked  to and fro, pondering, could  not
recognise the portrait she presented to him.
     However, it  was agreed between  them  that he  should see the original
when he next appeared. This concluded, the sister  applied herself,  with  a
less anxious breast, to her domestic  occupations; and the grey-haired  man,
late  Junior  of Dombey's, devoted the first day of  his unwonted liberty to
working in the garden.
     It was quite late at night, and the brother was reading aloud while the
sister  plied  her needle, when they  were  interrupted by a knocking at the
door. In the atmosphere of vague anxiety and dread  that lowered  about them
in connexion with their fugitive brother, this sound,  unusual there, became
almost alarming. The brother  going to the door, the sister sat and listened
timidly. Someone spoke  to  him,  and he replied and  seemed surprised;  and
after a few words, the two approached together.
     'Harriet,'  said  her brother,  lighting  in their  late  visitor,  and
speaking in a low  voice,  'Mr Morfin  - the gentleman  so long  in Dombey's
House with James.'
     His  sister started  back,  as if a  ghost had  entered. In the doorway
stood the  unknown friend, with the dark hair sprinkled with grey, the ruddy
face, the broad  clear brow, and hazel eyes, whose secret  she had  kept  so
long!
     'John!' she said, half-breathless. 'It is the gentleman I told you  of,
today!'
     'The gentleman, Miss Harriet,' said the visitor, coming in - for he had
stopped a moment in the doorway - 'is greatly relieved to hear you say that:
he  has been devising  ways  and  means, all  the  way  here,  of explaining
himself, and has  been satisfied  with  none. Mr  John, I  am  not  quite  a
stranger here. You were  stricken  with astonishment when you saw me at your
door just  now. I observe you are more  astonished at present. Well!  That's
reasonable  enough  under  existing  circumstances.  If  we  were  not  such
creatures of habit as we are, we shouldn't have reason to be astonished half
so often.'
     By  this  time, he  had greeted Harriet  with  that  able  mingling  of
cordiality and respect which she recollected so  well, and had sat down near
her, pulled off his gloves, and thrown them into his hat upon the table.
     'There's  nothing  astonishing,'  he  said, 'in  my  having conceived a
desire to see your sister,  Mr John,  or in my having gratified it in my own
way. As  to  the regularity of my visits since (which she may have mentioned
to you),  there is nothing  extraordinary  in  that. They  soon grew into  a
habit; and we are creatures of habit - creatures of habit!'
     Putting his hands  into his  pockets, and leaning back in his chair, he
looked  at  the brother and sister as if it were interesting to  him to  see
them together; and went on to say, with a kind of irritable thoughtfulness:
     'It's this same  habit  that confirms some  of us, who  are  capable of
better things, in Lucifer's own pride and stubbornness -  that confirms  and
deepens others of us in villainy - more of us in indifference - that hardens
us from day to day, according to  the temper of  our  clay, like images, and
leaves us as susceptible  as  images to new impressions and convictions. You
shall judge of its influence on me, John. For more years than I need name, I
had  my  small,  and  exactly defined  share, in the management  of Dombey's
House, and saw your brother (who has proved himself a scoundrel! Your sister
will forgive my being  obliged to mention it)  extending  and  extending his
influence, until the  business and its owner were  his football; and saw you
toiling  at  your obscure  desk  every day; and  was quite content  to be as
little troubled  as  I  might  be,  out of my own strip of  duty, and to let
everything about me go on, day by day, unquestioned, like a great machine  -
that was its habit and mine  - and to take it all  for granted, and consider
it  all  right.  My Wednesday nights  came  regularly round,  our  quartette
parties came regularly  off, my violoncello was  in good tune, and there was
nothing wrong in my  world - or if anything not much - or little or much, it
was no affair of mine.'
     'I can answer for your being more respected and beloved during all that
time than anybody in the House, Sir,' said John Carker.
     'Pooh! Good-natured and easy enough, I daresay,'returned the  other, 'a
habit I had. It suited the Manager;  it suited the man he managed: it suited
me best of all. I did what was allotted to me to do, made no court to either
of  them, and was glad to occupy a station in which  none was required. So I
should have gone on till now, but that my room had a thin wall. You can tell
your  sister  that  it was  divided  from the Manager's  room  by a wainscot
partition.'
     'They were adjoining rooms; had been one, Perhaps, originally; and were
separated, as Mr Morfin says,' said her brother, looking back to him for the
resumption of his explanation.
     'I  have whistled, hummed  tunes,  gone accurately through the whole of
Beethoven's Sonata  in  B,' to let him know that I was within hearing,' said
Mr  Morfin; 'but  he never heeded me. It happened  seldom enough  that I was
within hearing of anything of a private nature, certainly.  But when I  was,
and couldn't otherwise avoid knowing something of it, I walked out. I walked
out once, John, during a conversation between two brothers, to which, in the
beginning, young Walter Gay was a party. But I overheard some of it before I
left the  room. You remember it  sufficiently,  perhaps, to tell your sister
what its nature was?'
     'It referred,  Harriet,' said her brother in a low voice, 'to the past,
and to our relative positions in the House.'
     'Its  matter was  not new to me, but was presented in  a new aspect. It
shook me in my habit - the habit of nine-tenths of the world -  of believing
that all  was right about me, because I was used to it,' said their visitor;
'and induced me to recall the history of the  two brothers, and to ponder on
it. I think  it was almost the first time  in  my life when I fell into this
train  of reflection  -  how will many things that  are  familiar, and quite
matters  of course  to us now, look, when  we come to see them from that new
and distant point of view which we must all take up, one day or other? I was
something  less good-natured, as the phrase goes,  after that  morning, less
easy and complacent altogether.'
     He  sat  for a  minute or so, drumming with one  hand on the table; and
resumed in a hurry, as if he were anxious to get rid of his confession.
     'Before I knew what to do, or  whether I could do anything, there was a
second conversation between the same two brothers, in which their sister was
mentioned. I had no scruples  of conscience in  suffering all  the waifs and
strays of  that  conversation  to float  to me  as freely  as they would.  I
considered them mine by right. After that, I came here to see the sister for
myself.  The first time  I stopped at the garden  gate, I made a  pretext of
inquiring into the character of a poor neighbour; but I wandered out of that
tract, and I think Miss Harriet mistrusted me. The second time I asked leave
to come  in; came  in; and said what I wished to  say. Your sister showed me
reasons which I dared not dispute, for receiving no assistance from me then;
but  I established  a  means  of  communication  between us,  which remained
unbroken until  within these  few days, when  I was prevented,  by important
matters that have lately devolved upon me, from maintaining them'
     'How little I have suspected this,' said John Carker, 'when I have seen
you every day, Sir! If Harriet could have guessed your name - '
     'Why, to tell you the truth,  John,' interposed the visitor, 'I kept it
to myself  for two  reasons. I don't know that  the  first might  have  been
binding alone; but one has no business to take credit  for  good intentions,
and I made up my mind, at all events, not to  disclose myself until I should
be able to do you some real  service or other.  My second reason was, that I
always  hoped there  might  be some lingering possibility  of your brother's
relenting towards you both; and in that case,  I felt  that where  there was
the chance of a man of his suspicious, watchful character, discovering  that
you had  been secretly  befriended  by me, there was the chance of a new and
fatal cause of division. I  resolved, to be sure, at the risk of turning his
displeasure against myself - which would have  been no  matter - to watch my
opportunity of serving you with the head of the House; but the  distractions
of death, courtship,  marriage, and  domestic unhappiness,  have left  us no
head but  your brother for  this  long,  long  time. And it would  have been
better  for  us,'  said the visitor,  dropping  his voice,  'to have been  a
lifeless trunk.'
     He seemed conscious that these latter words had escaped hIm against his
will,  and stretching out  a hand to the brother, and  a hand to the sister,
continued: 'All I could desire to say, and more, I have now said. All I mean
goes beyond words, as I hope  you understand and believe. The time has come,
John - though  most unfortunately and  unhappily come - when I may  help you
without interfering with that redeeming  struggle,  which has lasted through
so many  years;  since you were discharged from  it today by  no act of your
own. It is late;  I need say  no  more to-night. You will guard the treasure
you have here, without advice or reminder from me.'
     With these words he rose to go.
     'But  go you  first,  John,'  he  said goodhumouredly,  'with  a light,
without saying  what  you want to say,  whatever that maybe;'  John Carker's
heart was full, and he would  have relieved it in speech,' if he could; 'and
let me  have  a word  with your sister.  We have talked alone before, and in
this room too; though it looks more natural with you here.'
     Following  him out with his eyes, he turned kindly to Harriet, and said
in a lower voice, and with an altered and graver manner:
     'You  wish to ask me  something of  the man whose  sister  it  is  your
misfortune to be.'
     'I dread to ask,' said Harriet.
     'You have  looked so earnestly  at  me  more than once,'  rejoined  the
visitor, 'that I think I can divine your question. Has he taken money? Is it
that?'
     'Yes.'
     'He has not.'
     'I thank Heaven!' said Harriet. 'For the sake of John.'
     'That he has abused his trust in many  ways,' said Mr  Morfin; 'that he
has  oftener dealt  and speculated to advantage  for himself,  than  for the
House he represented; that he has led the House on, to prodigious  ventures,
often resulting  in enormous losses;  that he has always pampered the vanity
and ambition of his employer,  when  it was  his duty to have  held  them in
check, and shown, as it was in his power to do, to what they tended here  or
there; will not,  perhaps, surprise you now. Undertakings have been  entered
on, to swell the reputation of the  House for vast resources, and to exhibit
it in magnificent contrast to other merchants' Houses,  of which it requires
a  steady  head  to contemplate  the possibly  - a few disastrous changes of
affairs might render them the probably - ruinous consequences.  In the midst
of the many transactions  of the House, in most parts  of the world: a great
labyrinth  of which only he has held the  clue: he has had  the opportunity,
and  he seems to  have used it, of keeping the various  results afloat, when
ascertained,  and  substituting estimates  and  generalities for  facts. But
latterly - you follow me, Miss Harriet?'
     'Perfectly, perfectly,' she answered, with her frightened face fixed on
his. 'Pray tell me all the worst at once.
     'Latterly, he appears  to have  devoted  the greatest pains  to  making
these  results  so  plain and  clear,  that reference to  the private  books
enables  one  to  grasp  them,  numerous  and  varying  as  they  are,  with
extraordinary ease. As if he had resolved to show his  employer at one broad
view what has  been brought upon him by ministration to  his ruling passion!
That it has been his constant practice to minister  to  that passion basely,
and to flatter it corruptly, is indubitable. In that, his criminality, as it
is connected with the affairs of the House, chiefly consists.'
     'One other word before you leave me, dear Sir,' said Harriet. 'There is
no danger in all this?'
     'How danger?' he returned, with a little hesitation.
     'To the credit of the House?'
     'I cannot help  answering you  plainly, and  trusting you  completely,'
said Mr Morfin, after a moment's survey of her face.
     'You may. Indeed you may!'
     'I am sure I may. Danger to the House's  credit? No; none There may  be
difficulty,  greater or less difficulty,  but  no danger, unless  -  unless,
indeed - the head of the House, unable to bring his mind to the reduction of
its enterprises, and positively  refusing to believe that it is, or can  be,
in  any position but the position in which he has always  represented it  to
himself, should urge it beyond its strength. Then it would totter.'
     'But there is no apprehension of that?' said Harriet.
     'There  shall  be no  half-confidence,' he  replied, shaking her  hand,
'between us. Mr Dombey is unapproachable by anyone, and his state of mind is
haughty, rash, unreasonable, and ungovernable, now. But he  is disturbed and
agitated  now beyond all common bounds, and it may pass. You  now  know all,
both worst and best. No more to-night, and good-night!'
     With  that he kissed her hand,  and,  passing out to the door where her
brother stood awaiting his coming, put him cheerfully aside when  he essayed
to  speak; told  him that, as  they would see each other soon and often,  he
might  speak at another  time, if he would, but there was no  leisure for it
then; and  went  away at a round pace,  in order that  no  word of gratitude
might follow him.
     The brother and  sister  sat  conversing  by the fireside, until it was
almost day; made  sleepless by this glimpse of  the  new  world that  opened
before  them,  and  feeling  like two people shipwrecked  long ago,  upon  a
solitary  coast, to  whom a  ship had  come at  last, when they  were old in
resignation, and had lost  all  thought of any other  home. But another  and
different kind of disquietude kept them  waking too.  The  darkness  out  of
which this light had broken on them gathered around; and the shadow of their
guilty brother was in the house where his foot had never trod.
     Nor  was it  to be  driven out, nor  did it fade before the  sun.  Next
morning it was there; at noon; at night Darkest and most  distinct at night,
as is now to be told.
     John Carker had gone  out, in pursuance of a letter of appointment from
their friend,  and Harriet was  left  in the house alone. She had been alone
some  hours. A  dull,  grave  evening, and  a  deepening twilight,  were not
favourable to the removal of the oppression on her spirits. The idea of this
brother, long  unseen and unknown, flitted about her in frightful  shapes He
was  dead,  dying,  calling  to her, staring at her,  frowning on  her.  The
pictures in  her mind  were  so obtrusive  and  exact that, as  the twilight
deepened, she dreaded  to raise her head and look at the dark corners of the
room, lest his wraith, the offspring of her excited imagination,  should  be
waiting there, to startle her. Once she had such a fancy of his being in the
next room, hiding - though she  knew  quite well what a distempered fancy it
was, and had no belief in  it - that she forced herself to go there, for her
own  conviction.  But  in  vain. The room resumed its  shadowy  terrors, the
moment she  left it; and  she had  no more  power to divest herself of these
vague impressions of  dread, than  if they had been stone giants, rooted  in
the solid earth.
     It was almost dark, and she was sitting near the window, with her  head
upon her hand, looking down,  when, sensible of a  sudden  increase  in  the
gloom of the apartment, she raised her eyes, and uttered an involuntary cry.
Close to the glass,  a pale scared face gazed in; vacantly,  for an instant,
as searching for an object; then the eyes rested on herself, and lighted up.
     'Let me in! Let me in! I want to speak to you!' and the hand rattled on
the glass.
     She recognised  immediately the woman with the long dark  hair, to whom
she had given warmth, food, and shelter, one wet  night. Naturally afraid of
her,  remembering her  violent behaviour, Harriet, retreating a little  from
the window, stood undecided and alarmed.
     'Let me in!  Let me  speak  to you!  I am  thankful  - quiet - humble -
anything you like. But let me speak to you.'
     The vehement manner  of  the  entreaty,  the earnest  expression of the
face, the trembling of the two hands that were raised imploringly, a certain
dread and  terror  in  the  voice akin to  her own condition at the  moment,
prevailed with Harriet. She hastened to the door and opened it.
     'May I come in, or shall I speak here?' said the woman, catching at her
hand.
     'What is it that you want? What is it that you have to say?'
     'Not much, but let me say it out, or I shall never say it. I am tempted
now to  go  away. There seem to be hands dragging  me from the door.  Let me
come in, if you can trust me for this once!'
     Her energy again prevailed,  and  they passed into the firelight of the
little kitchen, where she had before sat, and ate, and dried her clothes.
     'Sit there,' said Alice, kneeling down beside her, 'and look at me. You
remember me?'
     'I do.'
     'You remember what I told you I had been, and where I came from, ragged
and lame, with the fierce wind and weather beating on my head?'
     'Yes.'
     'You know how I came back that night, and threw your money in the dirt,
and you  and your race. Now, see me  here, upon my knees. Am l  less earnest
now, than I was then?'
     'If what you ask,' said Harriet, gently, 'is forgiveness - '
     'But it's  not!' returned the  other, with a proud, fierce look 'What I
ask is to be believed. Now you shall judge if I am worthy of belief, both as
I was, and as I am.'
     Still upon  her knees, and with her eyes  upon the fire, and  the  fire
shining  on her ruined  beauty and her wild black hair, one  long  tress  of
which  she  pulled  over  her  shoulder,  and  wound  about  her  hand,  and
thoughtfully bit and tore while speaking, she went on:
     'When I was young and pretty, and this,' plucking contemptuously at the
hair she held, was  only handled delicately, and couldn't be admired enough,
my mother,  who had  not been very  mindful of  me as a  child, found out my
merits, and was fond of me, and proud of me. She  was covetous and poor, and
thought to make a sort of property of me. No great lady ever thought that of
a daughter yet, I'm sure, or acted as if she did  - it's  never done, we all
know -  and that shows that the only instances of mothers bringing up  their
daughters wrong,  and  evil coming of  it, are among such miserable folks as
us.'
     Looking  at the  fire,  as  if  she were forgetful,  for the moment, of
having  any auditor, she continued in a  dreamy way,  as  she wound the long
tress of hair tight round and round her hand.
     'What  came of that, I  needn't say. Wretched marriages don't  come  of
such  things,  in our degree;  only wretchedness and  ruin. Wretchedness and
ruin came on me - came on me.
     Raising  her  eyes swiftly  from  their moody  gaze upon  the fire,  to
Harriet's face, she said:
     'I am wasting time, and there is none to spare; yet if I hadn't thought
of all, I shouldn't be here now. Wretchedness and  ruin came on me, I say. I
was made a short-lived toy, and flung aside more cruelly and carelessly than
even such things are. By whose hand do you think?'
     'Why do you ask me?' said Harriet.
     'Why do  you tremble?'  rejoined Alice, with an  eager look. 'His usage
made a Devil of me. I sunk in wretchedness and ruin,  lower and lower yet. I
was  concerned  in a robbery - in every  part of it but  the gains - and was
found out, and sent to be tried, without a friend, without a penny. Though I
was but a girl, I  would have gone to Death, sooner than ask him for a word,
if a word of  his could have saved me. I would! To any death that could have
been invented. But my mother,  covetous always, sent to him in my name, told
the true story of my case, and humbly prayed and petitioned for a small last
gift - for not so many pounds as I have fingers on this hand. Who was it, do
you  think,  who snapped  his  fingers at  me in my  misery,  lying,  as  he
believed,  at his  feet,  and  left  me  without  even  this  poor  sign  of
remembrance; well satisfied that I should  be sent abroad, beyond the  reach
of farther trouble to him, and  should die, and rot there? Who was  this, do
you think?'
     'Why do you ask me?' repeated Harriet.
     'Why do  you tremble?'  said Alice, laying  her hand upon  her arm' and
looking  in her face, 'but  that the  answer is  on your lips!  It  was your
brother James.
     Harriet trembled more and more,  but  did not avert  her eyes  from the
eager look that rested on them.
     'When I  knew you were  his sister  -  which was on that night - I came
back, weary  and  lame, to spurn your gift. I felt that night as if  I could
have travelled,  weary and  lame,  over  the whole world, to stab him, if  I
could have found him in a lonely place with no one near. Do you believe that
I was earnest in all that?'
     'I do! Good Heaven, why are you come again?'
     'Since  then,' said Alice, with the same grasp of her arm, and the same
look in her face, 'I have seen him! I have followed him with my eyes, In the
broad day. If  any  spark of my resentment slumbered in  my bosom, it sprung
into  a  blaze when my eyes rested on him.  You know he  has wronged a proud
man, and made  him his deadly enemy. What if I had given information  of him
to that man?'
     'Information!' repeated Harriet.
     'What if  I had found out one who  knew your brother's secret; who knew
the manner of his flight, who knew where he and the companion  of his flight
were gone?  What if I  had made  him utter all  his knowledge, word by word,
before his enemy,  concealed to hear it?  What  if I had sat by at the time,
looking into this  enemy's face, and seeing it change  till it  was scarcely
human? What if I had  seen  him rush away, mad, in pursuit? What if  I knew,
now, that  he was  on his road, more fiend than  man, and  must, in  so many
hours, come up with him?'
     'Remove  your hand!'  said Harriet, recoiling. 'Go  away! Your touch is
dreadful to me!'
     'I have done this,'  pursued the other, with her eager look, regardless
of the interruption. 'Do I speak and look as if I really had? Do you believe
what I am saying?'
     'I fear I must. Let my arm go!'
     'Not yet. A moment more. You can think  what my revengeful purpose must
have been, to last so long, and urge me to do this?'
     'Dreadful!' said Harriet.
     'Then when you see me now,' said Alice hoarsely, 'here again,  kneeling
quietly on the ground, with  my touch upon your  arm, with my eyes upon your
face, you may believe that there is no common earnestness in what I say, and
that no common  struggle has been  battling in  my breast. I am  ashamed  to
speak  the words, but I relent. I despise myself; I have  fought with myself
all day, and all last night; but I  relent  towards him without reason,  and
wish to repair what I have  done,  if it  is possible. I  wouldn't have them
come together while his  pursuer is  so blind  and headlong. If you had seen
him as he went out last night, you would know the danger better.
     'How can it be prevented? What can I do?' cried Harriet.
     'All night long,' pursued  the other, hurriedly, 'I had dreams of him -
and yet I didn't sleep - in his blood. All day, I have had him near me.
     'What can I do?' cried Harriet, shuddering at these words.
     'If there is anyone who'll  write, or send, or go to him, let them lose
no time. He is at Dijon. Do you know the name, and where it is?'
     'Yes.'
     'Warn him that the man he has made  his enemy is in a frenzy, and  that
he doesn't know him  if he makes light of  his approach. Tell him that he is
on the road - I  know he is! - and hurrying on. Urge him  to get  away while
there is  time - if there is time - and not  to meet him yet. A  month or so
will make years of difference. Let them not encounter,  through me. Anywhere
but  there! Any time but now!  Let  his  foe  follow  him, and find  him for
himself, but not through me! There is enough upon my head without.'
     The fire ceased to be reflected in  her  jet black hair, uplifted face,
and eager eyes; her  hand was gone  from Harriet's arm; and  the place where
she had been was empty.


     The Fugitives

     Tea-time,  an hour short of  midnight; the place,  a French  apartment,
comprising  some  half-dozen  rooms;  -  a  dull cold  hall  or corridor,  a
dining-room,  a  drawing-room,  a  bed-room, and an  inner  drawingroom,  or
boudoir,  smaller and more retired than the rest. All  these shut  in by one
large pair of  doors on the main  staircase, but each room provided with two
or  three  pairs  of  doors  of  its  own,  establishing  several  means  of
communication with the remaining portion of the apartment, or  with  certain
small passages within the  wall,  leading, as is not unusual in such houses,
to some back stairs with an  obscure outlet below. The whole situated on the
first  floor of so large an Hotel, that it did not absorb  one entire row of
windows upon one side of the square court-yard in the centre, upon which the
whole four sides of the mansion looked.
     An  air  of   splendour,  sufficiently  faded  to  be  melancholy,  and
sufficiently dazzling to clog and embarrass the details of life with a  show
of  state,  reigned in  these rooms The walls and  ceilings were gilded  and
painted;  the floors  were  waxed and  polished;  crimson  drapery  hung  in
festoons  from  window,  door,  and  mirror;  and  candelabra,  gnarled  and
intertwisted like the branches of trees, or horns of animals, stuck out from
the panels of  the wall. But in the day-time, when  the lattice-blinds  (now
closely  shut) were opened, and the  light let in, traces  were  discernible
among this finery, of wear and tear and dust, of sun and damp and smoke, and
lengthened intervals of want of use and habitation, when such shows and toys
of  life seem sensitive like life, and  waste as men shut up  in prison  do.
Even night, and clusters  of burning candles, could not  wholly efface them,
though the general glitter threw them in the shade.
     The glitter  of bright tapers, and their reflection in looking-glasses,
scraps of gilding and gay colours, were confined, on this night, to one room
- that smaller room within  the  rest, just now enumerated.  Seen  from  the
hall, where a lamp was feebly burning,  through the dark perspective of open
doors, it looked  as  shining and precious as a gem. In  the  heart  of  its
radiance sat a beautiful woman - Edith.
     She  was  alone. The  same  defiant, scornful woman still. The cheek  a
little worn, the eye a little larger  in appearance, and more  lustrous, but
the haughty  bearing just  the  same.  No  shame  upon  her  brow;  no  late
repentance bending her disdainful neck. Imperious and stately  yet, and  yet
regardless of herself and of all else, she sat wIth her dark eyes cast down,
waiting for someone.
     No  book,  no  work,  no occupation  of  any kind but her  own thought,
beguiled the tardy time. Some purpose, strong enough to fill  up any  pause,
possessed her. With her lips pressed together, and quivering if for a moment
she released  them from  her control; with  her  nostril inflated; her hands
clasped in one another; and her purpose swelling in her breast; she sat, and
waited.
     At  the  sound of a key in the outer door,  and a footstep in the hall,
she started up, and  cried  'Who's that?' The answer was in French, and  two
men came in with jingling trays, to make preparation for supper.
     'Who had bade them to do so?' she asked.
     'Monsieur  had  commanded  it, when it  was his  pleasure to  take  the
apartment.  Monsieur had said, when he stayed  there for  an hour, en route,
and left the letter for Madame - Madame had received it surely?'
     'Yes.'
     'A thousand pardons! The sudden apprehension  that it might  have  been
forgotten  had  struck  hIm;'  a  bald  man,  with  a  large  beard  from  a
neighbouring restaurant; 'with despair! Monsieur had said that supper was to
be ready at that hour: also that he had forewarned Madame of the commands he
had given, in  his letter.  Monsieur had done the Golden Head the  honour to
request  that the supper should be choice and  delicate. Monsieur would find
that his confidence in the Golden Head was not misplaced.'
     Edith  said no more, but looked on thoughtfully while they prepared the
table for two persons, and set the wine  upon it.  She arose before they had
finished,  and taking  a lamp,  passed  into  the  bed-chamber  and into the
drawing-room,  where  she  hurriedly but  narrowly  examined all  the doors;
particularly one in the former  room that opened on the passage in the wall.
From this  she took  the  key,  and put it on the outer side. She  then came
back.
     The men - the second of  whom was a dark, bilious subject, in a jacket,
close shaved, and  with a black head of hair close  cropped - had  completed
their preparation of the table, and were standing looking at  it. He who had
spoken before, inquired  whether  Madame  thought it  would  be long  before
Monsieur arrived?
     'She couldn't say. It was all one.'
     'Pardon!  There was  the supper! It  should  be eaten on  the  instant.
Monsieur (who  spoke French like an Angel - or a Frenchman -  it was all the
same) had spoken with  great emphasis of his  punctuality. But  the  English
nation had so grand a genius for punctuality.  Ah! what noise! Great Heaven,
here was Monsieur. Behold him!'
     In effect, Monsieur, admitted by the other of the two,  came,  with his
gleaming teeth, through the dark  rooms, like  a mouth; and arriving in that
sanctuary of light and colour, a figure at full length, embraced Madame, and
addressed her in the French tongue as his charming wife
     'My God! Madame is going to faint. Madame  is  overcome  with joy!' The
bald man with the beard observed it, and cried out.
     Madame had  only shrunk and shivered. Before the words were spoken, she
was standing with her hand upon the velvet back of a great chair; her figure
drawn up to its full height, and her face immoveable.
     'Francois  has flown over to  the  Golden Head for supper. He  flies on
these occasions like an angel or a bird. The baggage  of Monsieur is in  his
room. All is arranged. The supper will be here this moment.' These facts the
bald man notified with bows and smiles, and presently the supper came.
     The hot dishes were on a chafing-dish; the cold already set forth, with
the change  of service  on  a  sideboard. Monsieur was satisfied  with  this
arrangement.  The  supper table being  small, it pleased  him very well. Let
them set the chafing-dish upon the floor, and go. He would remove the dishes
with his own hands.
     'Pardon!' said the bald man, politely. 'It was impossible!'
     Monsieur was of another opinion. He required no further attendance that
night.
     'But Madame - ' the bald man hinted.
     'Madame,' replied Monsieur, 'had her own maid. It was enough.'
     'A million pardons! No! Madame had no maid!'
     'I came here alone,' said Edith 'It was  my choice  to do so. I am well
used to travelling; I want no attendance. They need send nobody to me.
     Monsieur  accordingly, persevering in his first proposed impossibility,
proceeded  to follow the two  attendants to the outer  door,  and secure  it
after them for the night. The bald man turning round to bow, as he went out,
observed that Madame still  stood with her hand upon the  velvet back of the
great chair,  and that  her face was quite regardless of him, though she was
looking straight before her.
     As the sound  of  Carker's  fastening the door  resounded  through  the
intermediate rooms, and seemed  to come  hushed  and stilled into that  last
distant one, the sound of  the Cathedral  clock striking twelve mingled with
it, in Edith's ears She heard him pause, as if he heard it too and listened;
and then came back towards her, laying a long train of footsteps through the
silence, and shutting all the doors  behind him as he  came along. Her hand,
for  a moment, left the velvet chair to  bring a knife within her reach upon
the table; then she stood as she had stood before.
     'How strange to come here by yourself, my love!' he said as he entered.
     'What?' she returned.
     Her  tone  was so  harsh; the quick  turn of her  head  so  fierce; her
attitude so repellent; and her  frown so black; that he stood, with the lamp
in his hand, looking at her, as if she had struck him motionless.
     'I say,' he at  length repeated, putting down the lamp, and smiling his
most  courtly  smile,  'how strange to come  here alone! It was unnecessarty
caution surely, and might have  defeated itself. You were to have engaged an
attendant at Havre or Rouen, and have had abundance of time for the purpose,
though  you had been the most capricious and difficult  (as you are the most
beautiful, my love) of women.'
     Her eyes gleamed strangely on him, but she stood with  her hand resting
on the chair, and said not a word.
     'I have  never,' resumed  Carker, 'seen you look so handsome, as you do
to-night.  Even  the  picture I have carried  in  my mind during this  cruel
probation,  and which I have contemplated night and day,  is exceeded by the
reality.'
     Not a word. Not a  look  Her  eyes completely  hidden by their drooping
lashes, but her head held up.
     'Hard, unrelenting  terms they were!'  said Carker, with a  smile, 'but
they are all  fulfilled and passed, and  make the present more delicious and
more safe. Sicily shall be  the  Place  of  our retreat. In  the  idlest and
easiest part  of the  world, my soul, we'll both seek  compensation for  old
slavery.'
     He was  coming gaily towards her, when, in an instant,  she  caught the
knife up from the table, and started one pace back.
     'Stand still!' she said, 'or I shall murder you!'
     The sudden change  in her,  the towering fury  and  intense  abhorrence
sparkling in her eyes and lighting  up her brow, made him stop as  if a fire
had stopped him.
     'Stand still!' she said, 'come no nearer me, upon your life!'
     They both stood looking  at each  other. Rage and astonishment were  in
his face, but he controlled them, and said lightly,
     'Come,  come! Tush,  we  are  alone, and out  of everybody's  sight and
hearing. Do you think to frighten me with these tricks of virtue?'
     'Do you think to frighten me,' she answered fiercely, 'from any purpose
that I  have, and any course  I am resolved  upon,  by reminding  me of  the
solitude of this place, and there being no help near? Me, who am here alone,
designedly? If I feared you, should I not have avoided you? If I feared you,
should I be here, in the  dead of night, telling  you to your face what I am
going to tell?'
     'And what  is that,' he said, 'you handsome shrew?  Handsomer so,  than
any other woman in her best humour?'
     'I tell you nothing,' she returned, until you go back to  that  chair -
except this, once again - Don't come near me! Not a step nearer. I tell you,
if you do, as Heaven sees us, I shall murder you!'
     'Do you mistake me for your husband?' he retorted, with a grin.
     Disdaining to reply, she stretched her arm out, pointing to  the chair.
He bit his  lip, frowned,  laughed, and  sat  down in  it, with  a  baffled,
irresolute, impatient  air, he  was  unable to conceal; and biting his  nail
nervously, and looking at her sideways, with bitter discomfiture, even while
he feigned to be amused by her caprice.
     She put the knife down upon the table, and touching her bosom  wIth her
hand, said:
     'I have something lying here that is  no  love trinket, and sooner than
endure your touch once more, I would use it on you - and  you know it, while
I speak - with less reluctance than I would on any other creeping thing that
lives.'
     He affected to laugh  jestingly, and entreated her  to act her play out
quickly, for the supper was growing cold. But the secret look with which  he
regarded her, was more sullen and lowering, and he struck his foot once upon
the floor with a muttered oath.
     'How many times,' said Edith, bending her darkest glance upon him' 'has
your  bold knavery  assailed me with outrage and insult?  How  many times in
your smooth manner, and mocking words and looks, have I been twitted with my
courtship and my  marriage?  How many times have you  laid bare  my wound of
love for that  sweet,  injured  girl and  lacerated  it? How  often have you
fanned  the fire on which, for two years,  I have writhed; and tempted me to
take a desperate revenge, when it has most tortured me?'
     'I  have  no doubt, Ma'am,'  he replied,  'that  you have  kept a  good
account, and that  it's pretty accurate. Come, Edith. To your  husband, poor
wretch, this was well enough - '
     'Why, if,' she said, surveying him with a haughty contempt and disgust,
that he shrunk under, let him brave it as he would, 'if all my other reasons
for  despising him could have been blown away like feathers, his  having you
for his counsellor  and favourite,  would have almost been  enough  to  hold
their place.'
     'Is  that  a  reason  why you  have  run away  with me?'  he asked her,
tauntingly.
     'Yes, and why we are  face to face  for the last time. Wretch! We  meet
tonight, and part tonight. For not  one moment after I have ceased to speak,
will I stay here!'
     He  turned upon her with  his ugliest look, and gripped the  table with
his hand; but neither rose, nor otherwise answered or threatened her.
     'I am  a woman,' she said,  confronting him steadfastly,  'who from her
childhood has been shamed and steeled. I have been offered and rejected, put
up  and appraised,  until my  very soul  has  sickened. I  have  not had  an
accomplishment or grace that might have been a resource  to  me, but it  has
been  paraded and vended to enhance  my value,  as  if the common  crier had
called  it through the streets.  My poor, proud  friends, have looked on and
approved; and every tie between us has been  deadened in my breast. There is
not  one  of them for whom  I  care, as I could care for a  pet dog. I stand
alone in the world, remembering  well what a hollow world it has been to me,
and what a hollow part of it I have been myself. You know this, and you know
that my fame with it is worthless to me.'
     'Yes; I imagined that,' he said.
     'And  calculated  on it,'  she rejoined, 'and so pursued me. Grown  too
indifferent for any opposition but indifference, to the daily working of the
hands  that had moulded  me  to this; and knowing that my marriage would  at
least prevent their hawking of me up and down; I suffered myself to be sold,
as  infamously  as  any  woman  with a halter round  her neck is sold in any
market-place. You know that.'
     'Yes,' he said, showing all his teeth 'I know that.'
     'And  calculated on  it,' she  rejoined once  more, 'and so pursued me.
From my marriage day, I found  myself  exposed to  such new shame - to  such
solicitation and pursuit (expressed as clearly as if it  had been written in
the coarsest words, and thrust  into my hand  at every turn)  from  one mean
villain, that I  felt as if  I  had never known  humiliation till that time.
This shame my husband fixed upon me; hemmed  me round with, himself; steeped
me in, with his own hands, and of his own  act, repeated hundreds of  times.
And thus - forced by the two from every point  of rest I had - forced by the
two to yield up the last retreat of love and gentleness within me,  or to be
a  new misfortune  on  its innocent object - driven  from  each to each, and
beset by one when I escaped the other - my  anger rose almost to distraction
against both I do  not know against which it rose higher - the master or the
man!'
     He watched her closely, as she stood before him  in the very triumph of
her indignant  beauty. She was resolute,  he saw;  undauntable; with no more
fear of him than of a worm.
     'What should I say of honour or of chastity to you!' she went on. 'What
meaning would it  have to you; what  meaning would it have from me! But if I
tell you  that the  lightest  touch of your hand  makes my  blood  cold with
antipathy; that from the hour when I first saw and hated  you, to now,  when
my instinctive repugnance is enhanced by every minute's knowledge  of you  I
have  since had, you have been a loathsome  creature to me which has not its
like on earth; how then?'
     He answered with a faint laugh, 'Ay! How then, my queen?'
     'On that night, when, emboldened by the scene you had assisted at,  you
dared come to my room and speak to me,' she said, 'what passed?'
     He shrugged his shoulders, and laughed
     'What passed?' she said.
     'Your  memory  is so distinct,'  he said, 'that I have no doubt you can
recall it.'
     'I  can,' she said. 'Hear it! Proposing then,  this  flight -  not this
flight, but the flight you thought it - you told me that in the having given
you that meeting, and leaving you to be discovered  there, if you so thought
fit; and in the having suffered you to be alone with me many times before, -
and  having made  the  opportunities, you  said, -  and in the having openly
avowed to you that I had no feeling for my husband but aversion, and no care
for myself - I was lost; I had given you the power to traduce my name; and I
lived, in virtuous reputation, at the pleasure of your breath'
     'All stratagems in love - ' he interrupted, smiling. 'The old adage - '
     'On that night,' said Edith, 'and then,  the struggle  that I long  had
had  with something that was not respect for my good fame - that was  I know
not what - perhaps the  clinging  to that last retreat- was ended.  On  that
night, and then, I  turned  from everything  but  passion and resentment.  I
struck a blow  that laid your  lofty master in the dust, and set you  there,
before me, looking at me now, and knowing what I mean.'
     He  sprung up from his chair with a great oath. She put  her hand  into
her bosom, and not a finger trembled, not a hair  upon her head was stirred.
He stood still: she too: the table and chair between them.~
     'When I forget that this  man put his lips to mine that night, and held
me in his arms as  he has done again to-night,' said Edith, pointing at him;
'when I forget the taint of his kiss upon my cheek - the cheek that Florence
would  have laid her guiltless  face against - when I forget my meeting with
her, while that taint  was hot upon me, and in  what a  flood the  knowledge
rushed upon me when I saw her, that in releasing her from the persecution  I
had caused by my love, I brought a shame and degradation on her name through
mine, and in all time to come should be the solitary figure  representing in
her mind her first avoidance of a guilty creature - then, Husband, from whom
I  stand divorced  henceforth, I will forget these last two years,  and undo
what I have done, and undeceive you!'
     Her flashing eyes, uplifted for  a moment, lighted again on Carker, and
she held some letters out in her left hand.
     'See these!' she said, contemptuously. 'You  have addressed these to me
in the false name you  go by; one here, some elsewhere on my road. The seals
are unbroken. Take them back!'
     She crunched them in  her hand, and tossed them to his feet. And as she
looked upon him now, a smile was on her face.
     'We  meet and part to-night,' she  said. 'You  have fallen  on Sicilian
days and sensual  rest,  too soon. You might  have  cajoled, and fawned, and
played your traitor's part, a little longer, and grown  richer. You purchase
your voluptuous retirement dear!'
     'Edith!' he retorted,  menacing her with his hand. 'Sit down! Have done
with this! What devil possesses you?'
     'Their name is Legion,' she replied, uprearing her proud form as if she
would have crushed him; 'you  and your master have raised them in a fruitful
house, and they shall tear you both. False to  him, false  to  his  innocent
child, false every way and everywhere,  go  forth and boast of me, and gnash
your teeth, for once, to know that you are lying!'
     He stood before her, muttering and menacing, and  scowling  round as if
for  something  that  would  help  him  to  conquer her; but with  the  same
indomitable spirit she opposed him, without faltering.
     'In every vaunt you make,' she said, 'I have my triumph I single out in
you the meanest man I know, the parasite and tool of the  proud tyrant, that
his  wound may go the  deeper, and may rankle more. Boast, and revenge me on
him! You know how  you  came here to-night; you  know how you stand cowering
there; you see yourself in colours quite as despicable, if not as odious, as
those in which I see you. Boast then, and revenge me on yourself.'
     The foam was  on his lips;  the wet stood on his forehead. If she would
have faltered once for only one half-moment, he would have pinioned her; but
she was as firm as rock, and her searching eyes never left him.
     'We don't part so,' he said.  'Do you think I am drivelling, to let you
go in your mad temper?'
     'Do you think,' she answered, 'that I am to be stayed?'
     'I'll try, my dear,' he said with a ferocious gesture of his head.
     'God's mercy on you, if you try by coming near me!' she replied.
     'And what,' he said, 'if there are none of these same boasts and vaunts
on my part?  What if I were to turn too? Come!' and his  teeth fairly  shone
again. 'We must make a treaty of this, or I may take some unexpected course.
Sit down, sit down!'
     'Too late!' she cried, with eyes that seemed to sparkle fire.  'I  have
thrown my fame and good name to the winds! I have resolved to bear the shame
that  will  attach to me - resolved to know that it attaches falsely  - that
you know it  too - and that  he does not, never  can, and never  shall. I'll
die, and  make no sign. For  this, I am here alone  with you, at the dead of
night. For  this, I have met  you here, in  a false  name, as your wife. For
this, I have been seen  here by those men, and left here. Nothing  can  save
you now.
     He would  have sold his soul to root her, in her beauty, to the  floor,
and make her arms drop at her sides, and have her at his mercy. But he could
not look at her, and not be afraid of her. He saw a strength within her that
was  resistless.  He  saw that she  was desperate, and that her unquenchable
hatred of him would stop at nothing. His eyes followed the hand that was put
with  such rugged  uncongenial purpose into  her white bosom, and he thought
that if it struck at hIm, and failed, it would strike there, just as soon.
     He did  not venture, therefore, to advance towards her; but the door by
which he had entered was behind him, and he stepped back to lock it.
     'Lastly, take  my  warning!  Look to yourself!'  she  said, and  smiled
again. 'You have been betrayed, as all betrayers are. It has been made known
that you are in this place, or were to be, or have been. If I live, I saw my
husband in a carriage in the street to-night!'
     'Strumpet, it's false!' cried Carker.
     At the moment, the bell rang  loudly in the hall. He turned  white,  as
she held her hand up like an enchantress,  at whose invocation the sound had
come.
     'Hark! do you hear it?'
     He  set his  back against  the  door; for  he  saw a change in her, and
fancied  she was  coming  on  to  pass him. But, in a moment,  she was  gone
through the opposite doors communicating with the bed-chamber, and they shut
upon her.
     Once turned, once changed in her  inflexible  unyielding look,  he felt
that he could cope with her. He thought  a sudden terror, occasioned by this
night-alarm, had  subdued her; not  the  less  readily,  for her overwrought
condition. Throwing open the doors, he followed, almost instantly.
     But  the  room was dark; and  as she made no answer to his call, he was
fain to  go back for the lamp. He held it  up, and looked round, everywhere,
expecting  to see her crouching in  some corner; but the room was empty. So,
into  the drawing-room  and  dining-room  he  went, in succession,  with the
uncertain steps  of a man in a strange  place; looking fearfully  about, and
prying behind  screens and couches; but she  was not there.  No,  nor in the
hall, which was so bare that he could see that, at a glance.
     All this time, the  ringing  at  the bell was  constantly  renewed, and
those without were beating at  the door. He put his lamp down at a distance,
and going near it, listened.  There were several voices talking together: at
least two of  them  in English; and though the door was thick, and there was
great confusion, he knew one of these too well to doubt whose voice it was.
     He took up his lamp again, and came back quickly through all the rooms,
stopping as  he quitted each,  and  looking round for her,  with  the  light
raised above  his  head. He was standing  thus in  the bed-chamber, when the
door, leading to  the little passage in the wall, caught his eye. He went to
it, and found it fastened on the other  side;  but she had dropped a veil in
going through, and shut it in the door.
     All this  time the people  on the stairs were ringing at the  bell, and
knocking with their hands and feet.
     He  was  not  a coward: but  these  sounds; what had gone  before;  the
strangeness of the place, which  had confused  him, even  in his return from
the hall; the frustration of his schemes (for, strange to say, he would have
been  much  bolder,  if they  had  succeeded);  the  unseasonable time;  the
recollection of having no  one near to whom he could appeal for any friendly
office; above all, the  sudden  sense, which made  even his heart beat  like
lead, that  the man  whose confidence he  had outraged,  and whom he  had so
treacherously deceived, was there  to recognise  and  challenge him with his
mask  plucked off his face; struck a panic through him. He tried the door in
which the  veil was  shut,  but  couldn't force it.  He  opened  one  of the
windows,  and  looked down  through  the  lattice  of  the  blind,  into the
court-yard; but it was a high leap, and the stones were pitiless.
     The ringing and knocking  still continuing -  his panic  too  - he went
back  to  the door  in the bed-chamber, and with some new efforts, each more
stubborn  than the last, wrenched it  open. Seeing  the little staircase not
far off,  and feeling the night-air coming up, he stole back for his hat and
coat, made the door as secure after  hIm as  he  could,  crept down  lamp in
hand, extinguished it on seeing the street,  and  having put it in a corner,
went out where the stars were shining.


     Rob the Grinder loses his Place

     The Porter at the iron gate which shut the court-yard from the  street,
had left the little wicket of his house open, and was gone away; no doubt to
mingle in the distant noise  at the door of the great staircase. Lifting the
latch  softly, Carker  crept  out, and shutting the jangling gate after  him
with as little noise as possible, hurried off.
     In the fever of  his mortification and  unavailing rage, the panic that
had seized upon him mastered him completely. It rose to  such  a height that
he would have blindly encountered almost any risk, rather than  meet the man
of whom, two hours ago, he  had been utterly regardless. His fierce arrival,
which he  had never expected; the sound  of  his voice; their having been so
near a meeting, face to face; he would have braved out this, after the first
momentary shock of alarm, and would have put as bold a front  upon his guilt
as any villain. But the springing of  his mine upon  himself, seemed to have
rent  and  shivered all his hardihood  and self-reliance.  Spurned  like any
reptile; entrapped and  mocked;  turned upon, and trodden  down by the proud
woman whose mind he had slowly poisoned, as  he thought, until  she had sunk
into the mere creature of his pleasure; undeceived in his  deceit,  and with
his fox's hide stripped off, he sneaked away, abashed, degraded, and afraid.
     Some  other  terror  came upon hIm  quite  removed from this  of  being
pursued, suddenly, like an  electric shock,  as he was creeping  through the
streets Some visionary terror, unintelligible and  inexplicable, asssociated
with a trembling of  the ground, - a rush and sweep of something through the
air, like Death upon the wing. He shrunk, as if  to let the thing  go by. It
was not gone, it never had  been there,  yet what a  startling horror it had
left behind.
     He raised  his wicked face so full of trouble, to  the night sky, where
the  stars, so full of peace, were shining on him as  they  had been when he
first stole out into the  air;  and stopped to  think what he should do. The
dread  of being hunted in  a strange remote place,  where the laws might not
protect  him  - the novelty  of  the feeling that it was strange and remote,
originating in  his being left alone so suddenly amid the ruins of his plans
- his greater dread of seeking refuge now, in  Italy or in Sicily, where men
might be hired to assissinate him, he thought, at any dark street corner-the
waywardness of guilt  and  fear - perhaps some sympathy  of  action with the
turning back of all his schemes - impelled  him to turn  back too, and go to
England.
     'I  am  safer there, in any case. If I  should not decide,' he thought,
'to give this  fool a meeting, I am  less likely to  be  traced there,  than
abroad here, now. And if I should (this cursed  fit being over), at  least I
shall not be alone, with out a soul to speak to, or advise with, or stand by
me. I shall not be run in upon and worried like a rat.'
     He muttered Edith's name,  and clenched his hand. As he crept along, in
the shadow of the massive buildings, he set his teeth, and muttered dreadful
imprecations on her head,  and looked from side  to side, as if in search of
her.  Thus, he stole on to the  gate of an inn-yard. The people were  a-bed;
but his  ringing at the bell  soon produced a man with a lantern, in company
with whom he was presently in a  dim coach-house, bargaining for the hire of
an old phaeton, to Paris.
     The bargain was a short one; and the horses were soon sent for. Leaving
word that  the  carriage was  to follow  him  when they  came, he stole away
again, beyond the town, past the old ramparts, out on  the open road,  which
seemed to glide away along the dark plain, like a stream.
     Whither did it  flow? What was the end of it? As  he paused, with  some
such suggestion within him, looking over the  gloomy flat where the  slender
trees marked out the way, again that flight of Death came rushing  up, again
went on, impetuous and  resistless, again  was nothing  but  a horror in his
mind, dark as the scene and undefined as its remotest verge.
     There was no wind; there was no passing shadow on the deep shade of the
night; there  was no noise. The city lay behind hIm, lighted here and there,
and starry  worlds were hidden by the masonry of  spire and roof that hardly
made out any shapes against the sky. Dark and lonely distance lay around him
everywhere, and the clocks were faintly striking two.
     He  went  forward for what appeared a long time, and a long  way; often
stopping to listen. At last the ringing of horses' bells greeted his anxious
ears. Now  softer, and now louder,  now inaudible,  now ringing very  slowly
over bad ground, now brisk and merry, it came on; until with a loud shouting
and  lashing,  a  shadowy postillion  muffled to the eyes, checked his  four
struggling horses at his side.
     'Who goes there! Monsieur?'
     'Yes.'
     'Monsieur has walked a long way in the dark midnight.'
     'No  matter. Everyone to his task. Were there any  other horses ordered
at the Post-house?'
     'A thousand devils! - and pardons! other horses? at this hour? No.'
     'Listen, my friend.  I  am much  hurried.  Let  us see  how fast we can
travel! The faster, the more money  there will be  to drink. Off we go then!
Quick!'
     'Halloa!  whoop!  Halloa!  Hi!'  Away,  at  a  gallop,  over the  black
landscape, scattering the dust and dirt like spray!
     The  clatter and commotion  echoed to the hurry  and discordance of the
fugitive's ideas.  Nothing clear  without, and nothing clear within. Objects
flitting  past, merging into  one another,  dimly descried,  confusedly lost
sight of, gone! Beyond the changing scraps of  fence and cottage immediately
upon the road, a lowering waste. Beyond the shifting  images that rose up in
his  mind and vanished as they  showed themselves, a black  expanse of dread
and rage  and baffled villainy. Occasionally,  a sigh of  mountain air  came
from the distant Jura, fading along the plain. Sometimes that rush which was
so furious and horrible, again came sweeping through his fancy, passed away,
and left a chill upon his blood.
     The  lamps,  gleaming  on the medley of horses' heads, jumbled with the
shadowy driver, and  the fluttering of his cloak, made a thousand indistinct
shapes, answering  to his thoughts.  Shadows of familiar people, stooping at
their desks and books, in their remembered attitudes; strange apparitions of
the man  whom  he was flying from, or  of  Edith; repetitions in the ringing
bells and rolling wheels, of words that  had been spoken; confusions of time
and place, making last night a month  ago, a month ago last night - home now
distant  beyond hope, now  instantly accessible;  commotion, discord, hurry,
darkness, and confusion in his  mind, and all around him. - Hallo! Hi!  away
at a  gallop over the black landscape; dust and dirt flying like  spray, the
smoking horses  snorting and  plunging  as if  each of them were ridden by a
demon, away in a frantic triumph on the dark road - whither?
     Again the nameless shock comes speeding up, and as it passes, the bells
ring in his ears 'whither?'  The wheels roar in his ears 'whither?' All  the
noise  and rattle shapes itself into that cry.  The lights and shadows dance
upon the horses'  heads like imps. No stopping now:  no slackening!  On,  on
Away with him upon the dark road wildly!
     He could not think to any purpose. He could not separate one subject of
reflection from  another, sufficiently to  dwell upon it, by  itself, for  a
minute  at a time. The crash of his project for  the gaining of a voluptuous
compensation for past restraint; the overthrow  of his treachery to one  who
had been true and  generous to him, but whose least proud word and  look  he
had  treasured up, at interest, for years -  for false and  subtle men  will
always  secretly  despise and dislike  the  object upon which  they fawn and
always  resent the  payment and  receipt  of  homage  that they know  to  be
worthless;  these  were  the  themes uppermost in  his  mind. A lurking rage
against the woman  who  had so  entrapped him and avenged herself was always
there; crude and misshapen schemes of retaliation  upon  her, floated in his
brain; but nothing was distinct. A hurry  and contradiction pervaded all his
thoughts. Even while he was so busy with this fevered, ineffectual thinking,
his one constant idea was,  that  he would  postpone reflection  until  some
indefinite time.
     Then,  the  old  days  before  the  second  marriage  rose  up  in  his
remembrance.  He thought how jealous he had been of the boy, how  jealous he
had been of the girl,  how artfully he had kept intruders at a distance, and
drawn a  circle round his dupe that none but himself  should cross; and then
he thought, had he done all this to be flying now, like a scared thief, from
only the poor dupe?
     He could have laid hands upon himself for his cowardice, but it was the
very shadow  of his defeat, and could not be separated from it. To  have his
confidence in his own knavery so shattered at a blow - to  be within his own
knowledge such a miserable tool - was like being paralysed. With an impotent
ferocity he raged at Edith, and hated Mr Dombey and hated himself, but still
he fled, and could do nothing else.
     Again and again he  listened for the  sound of wheels behind. Again and
again  his fancy heard it,  coming  on louder and louder. At last  he was so
persuaded  of this, that  he  cried out, 'Stop' preferring  even the loss of
ground to such uncertainty.
     The word soon brought carriage, horses, driver, all in a heap together,
across the road.
     'The  devil!' cried the  driver, looking over his shoulder, 'what's the
matter?'
     'Hark! What's that?'
     'What?'
     'That noise?'
     'Ah Heaven,  be quiet, cursed brigand!' to a  horse who shook his bells
'What noise?'
     'Behind. Is it not another  carriage  at a gallop? There! what's that?'
Miscreant  with  a  Pig's  head, stand  still!' to another  horse,  who  bit
another, who frightened  the other two, who plunged  and backed.  'There  is
nothing coming.'
     'Nothing.'
     'No, nothing but the day yonder.'
     'You are right, I think. I hear nothing now, indeed. Go on!'
     The  entangled  equipage, half  hidden in the  reeking cloud  from  the
horses, goes on  slowly at  first, for the  driver, checked unnecessarily in
his progress,  sulkily takes out a pocket-knife, and puts a new lash  to his
whip. Then 'Hallo, whoop! Hallo, hi!' Away once more, savagely.
     And now  the  stars faded, and  the day glimmered, and  standing in the
carriage, looking back, he could discern the track by which he had come, and
see  that there was no traveller within view,  on all the heavy expanse. And
soon it  was  broad  day, and  the  sun began to  shine  on  cornfields  and
vineyards; and solitary labourers, risen from little temporary huts by heaps
of  stones upon  the  road, were,  here  and  there,  at work repairing  the
highway, or  eating bread.  By and by, there were  peasants  going to  their
daily  labour,  or to  market, or  lounging  at the  doors of poor cottages,
gazing idly at  him as he  passed. And then there was a postyard, ankle-deep
in mud, with steaming dunghills and vast outhouses half ruined; and  looking
on this dainty prospect, an immense, old, shadeless, glaring, stone chateau,
with half its windows blinded, and  green damp crawling lazily over it, from
the  balustraded  terrace to  the  taper  tips of the extinguishers upon the
turrets.
     Gathered up  moodily in a  corner  of the  carriage, and only intent on
going fast - except  when he stood up, for a mile together, and looked back;
which he would do whenever there was a  piece of open country - he went  on,
still  postponing  thought  indefinitely, and still  always  tormented  with
thinking to no purpose.
     Shame, disappointment, and discomfiture gnawed at his heart; a constant
apprehension  of  being overtaken, or met  - for he was  groundlessly afraid
even of travellers, who came towards him by the way he was going - oppressed
him heavily. The same intolerable awe and dread  that  had come upon  him in
the  night, returned  unweakened in the  day. The monotonous ringing  of the
bells and tramping  of the horses; the  monotony of his anxiety, and useless
rage;  the monotonous  wheel of fear,  regret, and passion,  he kept turning
round and round; made the journey like a vision, in which  nothing was quite
real but his own torment.
     It  was  a vision of long roads,  that  stretched away  to an  horizon,
always  receding  and never gained; of  ill-paved  towns, up hill and  down,
where faces came to  dark doors and  ill-glazed windows, and  where rows  of
mudbespattered cows  and oxen  were tied  up  for sale  in the  long  narrow
streets, butting  and lowing, and receiving  blows on their blunt heads from
bludgeons that might  have beaten  them  in;  of bridges, crosses, churches,
postyards, new horses being  put in against their wills,  and  the horses of
the last  stage reeking, panting, and laying their  drooping heads  together
dolefully at  stable doors; of little cemeteries with black crosses  settled
sideways in the graves, and withered wreaths upon  them dropping away; again
of  long,  long roads, dragging  themselves  out, up hill and down,  to  the
treacherous horizon.
     Of morning,  noon, and sunset; night, and the rising  of an early moon.
Of long  roads temporarily left behind, and  a  rough pavement  reached;  of
battering and  clattering  over it,  and looking up, among house-roofs, at a
great church-tower; of getting out and eating hastily, and drinking draughts
of wine that  had no cheering influence; of coming forth afoot, among a host
of beggars - blind  men with quivering  eyelids,  led by  old  women holding
candles  to  their  faces; idiot  girls;  the lame,  the  epileptic, and the
palsied - of passing through the clamour, and  looking  from his seat at the
upturned  countenances  and  outstretched hands,  with a  hurried  dread  of
recognising  some pursuer pressing forward  - of galloping away again,  upon
the long, long road, gathered up, dull and stunned, in his corner, or rising
to see  where the moon  shone faintly on  a patch of  the same  endless road
miles away, or looking back to see who followed.
     Of never  sleeping,  but  sometimes  dozing  with  unclosed  eyes,  and
springing up with  a  start, and a reply  aloud  to an imaginary  voice.  Of
cursing himself for being there, for having fled, for having let her go, for
not  having confronted and defied him.  Of having a  deadly quarrel with the
whole world,  but chiefly  with himself. Of blighting  everything  with  his
black mood as he was carried on and away.
     It  was a  fevered  vision of things  past  and  present all confounded
together; of his life and journey blended  into one. Of  being madly hurried
somewhere, whither he must go. Of old scenes starting up among the novelties
through which  he  travelled. Of musing  and brooding over what was past and
distant, and seeming to take no notice of the actual objects he encountered,
but  with a wearisome exhausting consciousness  of being bewildered by them,
and having their images all crowded in his hot brain after they were gone.
     A vision  of change  upon change, and still  the same monotony of bells
and wheels, and  horses' feet, and no rest. Of  town and country, postyards,
horses, drivers,  hill and valley,  light and darkness, road  and  pavement,
height and hollow, wet weather and dry, and still the same monotony of bells
and wheels, and  horses' feet, and  no rest. A vision of tending on at last,
towards  the distant  capital, by busier roads, and sweeping  round,  by old
cathedrals,  and  dashing through  small towns  and  villages,  less  thinly
scattered on the  road  than  formerly,  and sitting shrouded in his corner,
with his cloak up to his face, as people passing by looked at him.
     Of rolling on and on, always postponing thought, and always racked with
thinking; of being unable to reckon up the  hours he had been upon the road,
or to  comprehend the  points of time and  place  in his journey.  Of  being
parched and giddy, and half mad. Of pressing on,  in spite of all, as  if he
could not stop, and coming into Paris, where the turbid river held its swift
course undisturbed, between two brawling streams of life and motion.
     A troubled vision, then, of bridges,  quays,  interminable  streets; of
wine-shops,  water-carriers,  great  crowds  of  people,  soldiers, coaches,
military  drums,  arcades. Of the  monotony  of bells and wheels and horses'
feet being at length lost in the universal din  and  uproar.  Of the gradual
subsidence of that noise as he passed out in another carriage by a different
barrier  from  that  by which  he  had entered. Of  the  restoration,  as he
travelled on towards the seacoast, of the monotony of bells and  wheels, and
horses' feet, and no rest.
     Of sunset once again,  and nightfall.  Of long roads again, and dead of
night, and  feeble  lights in  windows by the  roadside; and  still  the old
monotony of  bells and wheels, and horses' feet,  and  no rest. Of dawn, and
daybreak,  and  the rising of  the  sun.  Of  tolling slowly up  a hill, and
feeling on its top the fresh  sea-breeze; and  seeing the morning light upon
the edges of the distant waves. Of coming down into a harbour  when the tide
was at  its  full, and seeing  fishing-boats float on,  and  glad women  and
children  waiting  for them. Of nets and  seamen's clothes spread out to dry
upon the shore; of busy saIlors, and their voices  high among  ships'  masts
and  rigging; of the buoyancy and brightness of the water, and the universal
sparkling.
     Of receding from the coast, and looking back upon it from the deck when
it was a haze upon the water, with here and there a little opening of bright
land where the Sun struck.  Of the  swell, and flash, and murmur of the calm
sea. Of another  grey line on the ocean, on the vessel's track, fast growing
clearer and higher. Of cliffs and buildings, and a  windmill,  and a church,
becoming more and more  visible  upon it. Of steaming on at last into smooth
water, and mooring to a  pier whence groups of people  looked down, greeting
friends  on  board.  Of disembarking, passing among them  quickly,  shunning
every one; and of being at last again in England.
     He had thought, in his dream, of going down into a remote country-place
he knew, and lying  quiet there,  while he secretly informed himself of what
transpired,  and determined how to act, Still in the same stunned condition,
he  remembered  a  certain station  on the railway,  where he would  have to
branch off  to his place of destination, and where  there was a  quiet  Inn.
Here, he indistinctly resolved to tarry and rest.
     With this purpose  he  slunk into  a railway carriage as  quickly as he
could, and lying  there  wrapped in his cloak as if he were asleep, was soon
borne far away from the sea,  and deep into the inland green. Arrived at his
destination he looked out, and surveyed it carefully. He was not mistaken in
his  impression of the  place. It  was a  retired  spot, on the borders of a
little wood.  Only  one house, newly-built or altered for the purpose, stood
there,  surrounded by its neat garden; the small town that was nearest,  was
some miles away. Here he alighted  then; and going straight into the tavern,
unobserved  by anyone,  secured two  rooms upstairs  communicating with each
other, and sufficiently retired.
     His  object was  to rest, and recover the  command of himself, and  the
balance of his mind. Imbecile discomfiture and rage - so that, as  he walked
about his  room, he  ground his teeth - had complete possession  of him. His
thoughts, not  to be stopped or directed,  still wandered  where they would,
and dragged him after them. He was stupefied, and he was wearied to death.
     But, as if there were a curse upon him that he should never rest again,
his drowsy  senses  would  not  lose their  consciousness.  He had  no  more
influence with them, in this regard, than if they had been another man's. It
was not that they forced him to take note of present sounds and objects, but
that  they  would  not  be  diverted from  the  whole  hurried vision of his
journey. It was constantly before him all at once. She stood there, with her
dark disdainful eyes  again upon  him;  and he  was riding  on nevertheless,
through town and country, light and darkness, wet weather and dry, over road
and pavement,  hill  and valley, height and hollow, jaded and scared  by the
monotony of bells and wheels, and horses' feet, and no rest.
     'What day is this?' he asked of the waiter, who was making preparations
for his dinner.
     'Day, Sir?'
     'Is it Wednesday?'
     'Wednesday, Sir? No, Sir. Thursday, Sir.'
     'I forgot. How goes the time? My watch is unwound.'
     'Wants a few minutes of five o'clock, Sir. Been travelling a long time,
Sir, perhaps?'
     'Yes'
     'By rail, Sir?'
     'Yes'
     'Very  confusing, Sir.  Not  much in  the habit of  travelling  by rail
myself, Sir, but gentlemen frequently say so.'
     'Do many gentlemen come here?
     'Pretty well, Sir,  in general.  Nobody  here at present. Rather  slack
just now, Sir. Everything is slack, Sir.'
     He made no answer; but had risen  into a  sitting posture on  the  sofa
where  he  had  been  lying, and  leaned forward  with an arm on each  knee,
staring at the ground.  He could not  master his own attention  for a minute
together. It rushed away where it would, but it never, for an  instant, lost
itself in sleep.
     He drank  a quantity  of wine after dinner, in vain. No such artificial
means would bring sleep to his eyes.  His thoughts, more incoherent, dragged
him  more  unmercifully  after  them  -  as  if a wretch, condemned  to such
expiation, were drawn at the heels of wild horses. No oblivion, and no rest.
     How  long  he  sat,  drinking   and  brooding,  and  being  dragged  in
imagination hither and thither, no one could  have  told less correctly than
he.  But he knew that he had been sitting a long time by  candle-light, when
he started up and listened, in a sudden terror.
     For now, indeed, it was no fancy. The  ground shook, the house rattled,
the fierce impetuous rush was in the air! He felt it come up, and go darting
by; and  even when  he had hurried to the window, and saw what  it  was,  he
stood, shrinking from it, as if it were not safe to look.
     A  curse upon the fiery devil,  thundering  along so  smoothly, tracked
through the distant valley by a glare of light and lurid smoke, and gone! He
felt as if he had been plucked out  of its  path,  and saved from being torn
asunder. It  made him shrink and shudder even now, when its faintest hum was
hushed,  and  when  the lines of iron  road he could trace in the moonlight,
running to a point, were as empty and as silent as a desert.
     Unable to rest, and irresistibly attracted - or he thought so - to this
road, he went out, and lounged on the brink of it, marking the way the train
had gone, by the yet smoking cinders that  were  lying in its track. After a
lounge of some half  hour in  the  direction by which it had disappeared, he
turned  and walked the other way - still keeping  to the brink of the road -
past the inn garden, and a long way  down; looking curiously at the bridges,
signals, lamps, and wondering when another Devil would come by.
     A  trembling of the ground, and quick  vibration in his ears; a distant
shriek; a  dull  light  advancing, quickly changed to  two  red eyes, and  a
fierce fire, dropping glowing coals; an irresistible bearing on of  a  great
roaring and dilating mass; a  high  wind, and a rattle  - another  come  and
gone, and he holding to a gate, as if to save himself!
     He waited for  another, and for  another. He walked back to  his former
point,  and  back again to that,  and still, through the wearisome vision of
his journey,  looked for these approaching monsters. He  loitered  about the
station, waiting until one should stay to call there; and  when one did, and
was detached for water, he stood parallel with it, watching its heavy wheels
and brazen front, and thinking what  a cruel power and might it had. Ugh! To
see the great  wheels slowly turning,  and  to think of  being run  down and
crushed!
     Disordered  with wine and  want  of rest -  that  want  which  nothing,
although he was so weary, would appease - these ideas and  objects assumed a
diseased importance in his thoughts. When  he  went back  to his room, which
was not until  near  midnight, they still haunted him,  and he sat listening
for the coming of another.
     So in his bed, whither he repaired with no hope of  sleep. He still lay
listening; and when he felt the  trembling and vibration, got up and went to
the window, to watch (as he could from its position) the dull light changing
to  the two  red eyes, and the  fierce fire  dropping glowing coals, and the
rush of the giant  as it fled past, and the  track of glare  and smoke along
the valley.  Then he would  glance in the direction by which he intended  to
depart at sunrise,  as there was no  rest for him there; and would  lie down
again, to be troubled by the  vision of his journey, and the old monotony of
bells and  wheels  and  horses' feet,  until  another came. This lasted  all
night. So far from resuming the  mastery of himself, he seemed, if possible,
to lose it more and more, as the night crept on. When  the dawn appeared, he
was still tormented with thinking,  still postponing thought until he should
be in  a  better state; the past, present, and future all floated confusedly
before him, and he had  lost  all power of looking steadily  at  any one  of
them.
     'At what time,' he asked the man who had waited  on hIm over-night, now
entering with a candle, 'do I leave here, did you say?'
     'About a quarter after four, Sir. Express comes through at four, Sir. -
It don't stop.
     He passed his  hand across his throbbing head, and looked at his watch.
Nearly half-past three.
     'Nobody  going  with  you,  Sir,  probably,'  observed  the  man.  'Two
gentlemen here, Sir, but they're waiting for the train to London.'
     'I thought  you said there was nobody here,' said Carker, turning  upon
him with the ghost of his old smile, when he was angry or suspicious.
     'Not then, sir. Two gentlemen came in the night by the short train that
stops here, Sir. Warm water, Sir?'
     'No; and take away the candle. There's day enough for me.'
     Having thrown himself upon the bed, half-dressed he  was  at the window
as the man left  the room. The cold light of morning  had succeeded to night
and there was already, in the sky, the  red suffusion  of the coming sun. He
bathed  his head and face with  water - there was no cooling influence in it
for him - hurriedly put on his clothes, paid what he owed, and went out.
     The air struck chill and comfortless as it breathed upon him. There was
a heavy  dew; and, hot  as he was, it made him shiver. After a glance at the
place  where he had walked last night, and at the  signal-lights burning  in
the morning, and  bereft of their significance, he turned to  where the  sun
was rising, and beheld it, in its glory, as it broke upon the scene.
     So awful, so transcendent in its beauty, so divinely solemn. As he cast
his  faded eyes upon it, where it rose, tranquil and serene, unmoved by  all
the wrong and wickedness on which its beams had shone since the beginning of
the world, who shall say  that some weak sense of virtue upon Earth, and its
in Heaven,  did  not manifest  itself, even  to him? If  ever he  remembered
sister or  brother with a touch of  tenderness and remorse, who shall say it
was not then?
     He needed some such touch then. Death was  on  him. He was marked off -
the living world, and going down into his grave.
     He paid the  money for his journey to the country-place he  had thought
of;  and was  walking to and  fro, alone,  looking along the lines  of iron,
across the  valley in one direction, and towards  a dark bridge near at hand
in the other;  when, turning in his walk, where it was bounded by one end of
the wooden stage on which he paced up and down, he  saw the man from whom he
had fled, emerging from the door by which he himself had entered
     And their eyes met.
     In the quick unsteadiness of the surprise, he staggered, and slipped on
to the road below him. But recovering his feet  immediately, he stepped back
a pace or two  upon  that  road, to interpose some wider space between them,
and looked at his pursuer, breathing short and quick.
     He heard  a  shout - another - saw the  face change from its vindictive
passion to a faint sickness  and terror - felt the earth tremble - knew in a
moment that the rush was  come - uttered  a shriek - looked  round - saw the
red  eyes, bleared and  dim,  in the  daylight, close upon him  - was beaten
down, caught  up, and whirled away  upon a jagged mill, that spun  him round
and  round, and  struck him limb from limb, and licked his stream of life up
with its fiery heat, and cast his mutilated fragments in the air.
     When the traveller, who had been recognised, recovered from a swoon, he
saw  them  bringing  from  a  distance something covered, that lay heavy and
still,  upon a board, between four men,  and saw that others drove some dogs
away that sniffed  upon the road, and  soaked his blood up, with  a train of
ashes.


     Several People delighted, and the Game Chicken disgusted

     The Midshipman  was all alive. Mr Toots  and Susan had arrived at last.
Susan had run upstairs like a young woman bereft of her senses, and Mr Toots
and the Chicken had gone into the Parlour.
     'Oh my  own pretty darling sweet Miss Floy!'  cried the Nipper, running
into  Florence's room, 'to  think that it  should  come to this and I should
find you here  my own dear dove  with nobody to wait upon you and no home to
call your own but  never never will I go away  again Miss Floy for though  I
may not gather moss I'm not a rolling  stone nor is my heart a stone or else
it wouldn't bust as it is busting now oh dear oh dear!'
     Pouring out these words,  without the faintest indication of a stop, of
any sort, Miss Nipper, on her knees beside her mistress, hugged her close.
     'Oh love!' cried Susan, 'I know all that's past I know it all my tender
pet and I'm a choking give me air!'
     'Susan,  dear good Susan!' said Florence. 'Oh bless her! I that was her
little maid when  she  was  a little child! and is she  really, really truly
going to be married?'exclaimed Susan, in a burst of pain and pleasure, pride
and grief, and Heaven knows how many other conflicting feelings.
     'Who told you so?' said Florence.
     'Oh  gracious  me!  that innocentest  creetur  Toots,'  returned  Susan
hysterically. 'I knew he must be right my dear, because he took  on so. He's
the devotedest and innocentest infant!  And is my darling,'  pursued  Susan,
with another close embrace and burst  of  tears, 'really really going  to be
married!'
     The mixture of compassion, pleasure, tenderness, protection, and regret
with which the Nipper constantly recurred to this subject, and at every such
once,  raised her head to look in the young face and kiss it,  and then laid
her head again upon her mistress's shoulder, caressing  her and sobbing, was
as womanly and good a thing, in its way, as ever was seen in the world.
     'There,  there!' said  the soothing voice of  Florence  presently. 'Now
you're quite yourself, dear Susan!'
     Miss  Nipper,  sitting down  upon the floor, at  her  mistress's  feet,
laughing and sobbing, holding her pocket-handkerchief to  her  eyes with one
hand, and patting Diogenes  with the other as  he licked her face, confessed
to being more composed, and laughed and cried a little more in proof of it.
     'I-I-I never did see such a creetur as that Toots,' said Susan, 'in all
my born days never!'
     'So kind,' suggested Florence.
     'And so comic!' Susan sobbed. 'The way  he's been going  on inside with
me with that disrespectable Chicken on the box!'
     'About what, Susan?' inquired Florence, timidly.
     'Oh about Lieutenant Walters,  and Captain Gills, and you my dear  Miss
Floy, and the silent tomb,' said Susan.
     'The silent tomb!' repeated Florence.
     'He says,' here  Susan  burst  into a violent  hysterical laugh,  'that
he'll go down into it now immediately and quite comfortable, but bless  your
heart my  dear Miss Floy he  won't, he's a great  deal  too  happy in seeing
other people happy for that, he may not be a Solomon,' pursued  the  Nipper,
with her usual  volubility, 'nor do I say  he  is but this I do  say  a less
selfish human  creature human nature never  knew!' Miss  Nipper  being still
hysterical,  laughed immoderately after making this  energetic  declaration,
and then informed Florence that he was waiting below to see her; which would
be a rich repayment for the trouble he had had in his late expedition.
     Florence entreated Susan to beg of Mr Toots as a favour  that she might
have the pleasure  of thanking  him for  his kindness; and  Susan, in  a few
moments,  produced that young  gentleman, still  very  much  dishevelled  in
appearance, and stammering exceedingly.
     'Miss Dombey,' said Mr Toots. 'To be again permitted to  - to -  gaze -
at  least,  not to gaze, but - I don't exactly know what I was going to say,
but it's of no consequence.
     'I have to  thank you so often,' returned Florence, giving him both her
hands, with  all her innocent gratitude beaming in her face, 'that I have no
words left, and don't know how to do it.'
     'Miss Dombey,' said Mr  Toots, in  an awful voice, 'if  it was possible
that you could, consistently with your angelic nature, Curse me, you would -
if I may  be allowed  to say so  - floor me infinitely less, than  by  these
undeserved expressions of kindness Their effect upon me - is - but,' said Mr
Toots, abruptly, 'this is a digression, and of no consequence at all.'
     As there seemed to be no means of replying to this, but by thanking him
again, Florence thanked him again.
     'I could wish,'  said Mr Toots, 'to take this opportunity, Miss Dombey,
if I might, of entering into  a word of explanation. I  should  have had the
pleasure  of - of  returning with  Susan at an earlier period;  but, in  the
first place, we didn't know the name  of the relation to whose house she had
gone, and, in  the  second, as she had  left  that relation's  and  gone  to
another at a distance, I think that scarcely anything  short of the sagacity
of the Chicken, would have found her out in the time.'
     Florence was sure of it.
     'This, however,' said Mr Toots, 'is not the point. The company of Susan
has been,  I assure you, Miss Dombey,  a consolation and satisfaction to me,
in  my state of mind, more easily conceived than described. The  journey has
been its own reward. That, however,  still, is not the point. Miss Dombey, I
have before observed that I know I am not what is considered a quick person.
I  am  perfectly  aware of that.  I  don't  think  anybody  could  be better
acquainted with his own - if it  was not  too strong an expression, I should
say with the  thickness  of his own head - than  myself. But, Miss Dombey, I
do,  notwithstanding, perceive the state of -  of  things -  with Lieutenant
Walters. Whatever agony that state of things may have caused me (which is of
no  consequence at all), I  am bound  to say, that Lieutenant  Walters  is a
person who appears  to be worthy of the blessing that has fallen on his - on
his  brow. May he  wear it long, and appreciate it, as a very different, and
very  unworthy individual, that it is of no consequence to  name, would have
done! That, however, still, is not the point. Miss Dombey, Captain  Gills is
a friend of mine; and during the interval that is now elapsing, I believe it
would afford Captain Gills pleasure  to see me occasionally coming backwards
and  forwards here. It  would afford me  pleasure so to  come. But  I cannot
forget that I once committed myself, fatally, at the corner of the Square at
Brighton; and if my presence  will be, in  the  least  degree, unpleasant to
you, I only ask  you  to name it  to  me now,  and  assure you that I  shall
perfectly  understand you. I shall not consider it at all unkind,  and shall
only be too delighted and happy to be honoured with your confidence.'
     'Mr  Toots,' returned Florence, 'if you, who are  so  old  and  true  a
friend  of mine,  were to stay  away from this house now, you would make  me
very unhappy. It can  never, never, give me any feeling but  pleasure to see
you.
     'Miss Dombey,' said Mr Toots, taking out his pocket-handkerchief, 'if I
shed  a tear, it is  a tear of joy. It is of no  consequence, and I am  very
much obliged  to you.  I  may be  allowed to remark, after  what you have so
kindly said, that it is not my intention to neglect my person any longer.'
     Florence received this  intimation  with  the  prettiest expression  of
perplexity possible.
     'I  mean,'  said Mr Toots,  'that  I  shall consider it my  duty  as  a
fellow-creature generally, until I  am  claimed by the silent tomb,  to make
the best of myself, and to - to  have my boots as brightly polished, as - as
-circumstances  will  admit of. This is  the last  time, Miss  Dombey, of my
intruding any observation of a private and personal nature. I thank you very
much indeed.  if I am not, in a general way, as sensible as my friends could
wish  me  to be, or as I  could  wish myself,  I really am, upon my word and
honour, particularly sensible of what is considerate and kind. I feel,' said
Mr Toots, in an impassioned tone, 'as if I could express my feelings, at the
present moment, in a most  remarkable  manner,  if - if - I could only get a
start.'
     Appearing not to  get it, after waiting a minute  or  two  to see if it
would come, Mr Toots took a hasty leave, and went below to seek the Captain,
whom he found in the shop.
     'Captain Gills,' said Mr Toots,  'what is now to take place between us,
takes place under the sacred  seal of confidence.  It is the sequel, Captain
Gills, of what has taken place between myself and Miss Dombey, upstairs.'
     'Alow and aloft, eh, my lad?' murmured the Captain.
     'Exactly  so,  Captain  Gills,'  said  Mr  Toots,  whose   fervour   of
acquiescence was greatly heightened by his entire ignorance of the Captain's
meaning. 'Miss Dombey, I  believe, Captain Gills, is to be shortly united to
Lieutenant Walters?'
     'Why, ay, my lad.  We're  all shipmets  here, - Wal'r  and sweet- heart
will  be jined together in the house of bondage, as soon as  the askings  is
over,' whispered Captain Cuttle, in his ear.
     'The askings, Captain Gills!' repeated Mr Toots.
     'In the church, down yonder,' said the Captain, pointing his thumb over
his shoulder.
     'Oh! Yes!' returned Mr Toots.
     'And then,'  said the Captain, in his  hoarse whisper,  and  tapping Mr
Toots on  the chest with the back of his  hand,  and falling from him with a
look  of infinite admiration,  'what follers? That there pretty  creetur, as
delicately  brought up as a foreign  bird, goes away  upon the  roaring main
with Wal'r on a woyage to China!'
     'Lord, Captain Gills!' said Mr Toots.
     'Ay!' nodded the Captain. 'The ship as took him up, when he was wrecked
in the  hurricane  that had  drove  her clean out of her course, was a China
trader, and Wal'r made the woyage, and got into favour, aboard and  ashore -
being as smart and good a lad as ever stepped - and so, the supercargo dying
at  Canton,  he  got made  (having  acted  as clerk  afore),  and  now  he's
supercargo aboard another ship, same owners.  And so, you see,' repeated the
Captain,  thoughtfully, 'the pretty creetur goes away  upon the roaring main
with Wal'r, on a woyage to China.'
     Mr Toots and Captain Cuttle heaved a sigh in concert. 'What then?' said
the Captain.  'She loves  him true. He loves her  true.  Them as should have
loved and tended of her, treated of her like the beasts as perish. When she,
cast out of home, come here to me, and dropped upon them planks, her wownded
heart was broke. I know it. I, Ed'ard Cuttle, see it. There's nowt but true,
kind, steady love, as  can  ever piece it up again. If so  be I didn't  know
that, and  didn't know as Wal'r was her true love, brother, and she his, I'd
have these here blue arms and legs chopped off, afore  I'd let her go. But I
know it, and what then! Why, then, I say, Heaven go with 'em both, and so it
will! Amen!'
     'Captain Gills,' said  Mr Toots, 'let  me  have the pleasure of shaking
hands You've a way of saying  things, that gives me an agreeable warmth, all
up  my  back. I say Amen.  You  are aware, Captain  Gills, that I, too, have
adored Miss Dombey.'
     'Cheer up!' said the Captain,  laying  his hand on Mr Toots's shoulder.
'Stand by, boy!'
     'It is  my intention,  Captain Gills,' returned  the spirited Mr Toots,
'to  cheer up. Also to  standby,  as much as possible. When the  silent tomb
shall yawn, Captain Gills, I shall be ready for burial; not before.  But not
being certain, just at present, of my power over myself,  what I wish to say
to you, and  what I shall take it as a particular favour if you will mention
to Lieutenant Walters, is as follows.'
     'Is as follers,' echoed the Captain. 'Steady!'
     'Miss Dombey  being  so  inexpressably  kind,' continued Mr  Toots with
watery eyes, 'as to say that my  presence is  the reverse of disagreeable to
her,  and  you and  everybody  here  being no  less forbearing and  tolerant
towards one who  -  who certainly,' said Mr Toots, with momentary dejection,
'would  appear  to  have been born by mistake,  I shall  come  backwards and
forwards  of an evening, during the short time we can all  be  together. But
what  I  ask is this. If, at any moment, I  find  that  I cannot endure  the
contemplation  of Lieutenant Walters's bliss, and should  rush out, I  hope,
Captain Gills,  that you and he  will both consider it as  my misfortune and
not my  fault,  or the want of inward conflict. That you'll feel convinced I
bear no  malice  to any  living  creature-least of all to Lieutenant Walters
himself  - and that you'll casually remark  that I have gone out for a walk,
or probably to see what o'clock it is by the  Royal Exchange. Captain Gills,
if you  could enter into this arrangement,  and  could answer for Lieutenant
Walters, it would be a relief to my feelings  that I should  think cheap  at
the sacrifice of a considerable portion of my property.'
     'My lad,' returned the  Captain, 'say no more. There ain't a colour you
can run up, as won't be made out, and answered to, by Wal'r and self.'
     'Captain Gills,' said Mr Toots, 'my mind is greatly relieved. I wish to
preserve the good opinion of  all here. I  - I - mean well, upon  my honour,
however badly I  may show it. You know,' said Mr Toots, 'it's as exactly  as
Burgess and Co.  wished to oblige a customer  with a most extraordinary pair
of trousers, and could not cut out what they had in their minds.'
     With this apposite  illustration, of which he seemed a little Proud, Mr
Toots gave Captain Cuttle his blessing and departed.
     The honest Captain, with his  Heart's Delight in  the  house, and Susan
tending her, was a beaming  and a  happy  man. As  the days flew by, he grew
more beaming  and  more  happy, every day. After some conferences with Susan
(for  whose wisdom  the Captain  had  a profound respect, and whose  valiant
precipitation  of herself  on  Mrs  MacStinger he  could  never  forget), he
proposed to Florence that the daughter of  the elderly  lady who usually sat
under the blue umbrella in Leadenhall Market, should, for prudential reasons
and considerations of privacy, be superseded  in  the temporary discharge of
the household duties, by someone who was  not  unknown to them, and  in whom
they could safely confide. Susan, being present,  then named, in furtherance
of a suggestion she  had previously offered to  the Captain,  Mrs  Richards.
Florence brightened at the name. And Susan, setting off that very  afternoon
to the Toodle  domicile, to sound Mrs Richards, returned in triumph the same
evening, accompanied by the identical  rosy-cheeked apple-faced Polly, whose
demonstrations, when  brought  into  Florence's presence,  were  hardly less
affectionate than those of Susan Nipper herself.
     This  piece of generalship accomplished; from which the Captain derived
uncommon satisfaction, as  he did,  indeed, from everything  else  that  was
done,  whatever it happened to be;  Florence had next  to prepare  Susan for
their  approaching separation. This was  a much more difficult task, as Miss
Nipper was  of a resolute disposition, and  had fully made up her mind  that
she had come back never to be parted from her old mistress any more.
     'As to wages dear Miss Floy,' she said, 'you wouldn't hint and wrong me
so as think of naming them, for I've put money by and  wouldn't sell my love
and duty at a  time  like this even if the Savings' Banks and  me were total
strangers or  the Banks were broke to pieces, but you've never been  without
me darling  from the time your  poor dear Ma was  took away, and  though I'm
nothing to  be  boasted of you're  used to  me  and  oh my own dear mistress
through  so  many years  don't  think of  going anywhere without me,  for it
mustn't and can't be!'
     'Dear Susan, I am going on a long, long voyage.'
     'Well Miss Floy, and what of that?  the more you'll want me. Lengths of
voyages  ain't  an object in my eyes, thank  God!'  said the impetuous Susan
Nipper.
     'But,  Susan,  I  am  going  with Walter,  and  I would  go with Walter
anywhere - everywhere! Walter is poor, and I am very poor, and I must learn,
now, both to help myself, and help him.'
     'Dear Miss  Floy!'  cried Susan,  bursting out afresh, and  shaking her
head violently, 'it's nothing new to you to help yourself and others too and
be  the patientest and truest of noble hearts,  but let me talk to Mr Walter
Gay and settle it with him, for suffer you to go away across the world alone
I cannot, and I won't.'
     'Alone,  Susan?' returned Florence. 'Alone? and Walter  taking me  with
him!' Ah,  what  a bright, amazed,  enraptured smile was  on her  face! - He
should have seen it. 'I am sure you  will not  speak to Walter if I ask  you
not,' she added tenderly; 'and pray don't, dear.'
     Susan sobbed 'Why not, Miss Floy?'
     'Because,' said Florence, 'I am going to be his wife, to give him up my
whole heart, and to  live with him  and die with him. He might think, if you
said to him what you have said to me, that I am afraid of what is before me,
or that you have  some cause to  be  afraid for me. Why, Susan, dear, I love
him!'
     Miss Nipper  was so much  affected by the quiet fervour of these words,
and the  simple, heartfelt, all-pervading earnestness expressed in them, and
making  the speaker's face more beautiful and pure than ever, that she could
only  cling  to  her  again, crying. Was her little  mistress really, really
going  to be married, and pitying, caressing, and protecting her, as she had
done before.  But the Nipper, though  susceptible of womanly weaknesses, was
almost  as capable  of putting constraint upon  herself as of  attacking the
redoubtable MacStinger. From  that  time, she never returned to the subject,
but  was  always  cheerful, active, bustling, and  hopeful. She did, indeed,
inform Mr Toots privately, that she was only 'keeping  up' for the time, and
that when it was  all over, and Miss Dombey  was gone, she might be expected
to become a spectacle distressful; and Mr Toots did also express that it was
his case too, and that they would mingle their tears together; but she never
otherwise indulged  her  private feelings in  the presence  of  Florence  or
within the precincts of the Midshipman.
     Limited and plain as Florence's  wardrobe was - what a contrast to that
prepared  for  the last marriage in which she had taken part! - there  was a
good deal to  do  in getting it  ready, and Susan Nipper worked  away at her
side,  all day,  with  the  concentrated  zeal  of  fifty sempstresses.  The
wonderful contributions Captain Cuttle would have made to this branch of the
outfit, if he had been permitted - as pink parasols, tinted silk  stockings,
blue shoes, and other articles no less necessary on shipboard - would occupy
some space in  the recital. He was induced, however, by  various  fraudulent
representations, to limit his contributions to a work-box and dressing case,
of  each of which he  purchased the very largest  specimen that could be got
for money. For ten days or a fortnight  afterwards, he generally sat, during
the greater part of the day, gazing at these  boxes; divided between extreme
admiration  of them,  and dejected misgivings that  they  were  not gorgeous
enough,  and frequently diving out  into the  street to  purchase  some wild
article   that   he  deemed   necessary  to  their  completeness.   But  his
master-stroke was, the bearing of them both off,  suddenly, one morning, and
getting the  two  words FLORENCE GAY engraved upon a brass heart inlaid over
the lid of each. After this, he smoked four pipes successively in the little
parlour by himself, and was discovered chuckling, at the  expiration  of  as
many hours.
     Walter was busy and away all day, but came there every morning early to
see Florence, and always passed  the evening  with her. Florence  never left
her high rooms  but to steal downstairs to wait for him when it was his time
to come, or,  sheltered by his proud, encircling arm, to bear him company to
the  door again, and sometimes  peep into  the street. In  the twilight they
were always together.  Oh blessed time! Oh wandering heart at rest! Oh deep,
exhaustless, mighty well of love, in which so much was sunk!
     The cruel  mark was on her bosom  yet. It  rose against her father with
the breath she drew, it lay between her and her lover when he pressed her to
his heart. But she forgot it.  In  the beating of that heart for her, and in
the beating  of her own for him, all harsher  music was  unheard, all  stern
unloving hearts forgotten. Fragile and delicate she was, but with a might of
love within her that could, and did, create a world to fly to, and  to  rest
in, out of his one image.
     How often did the great house, and the old days, come before her in the
twilight time, when she was sheltered by the arm,  so proud,  so fond,  and,
creeping closer  to him, shrunk within  it  at the recollection! How  often,
from remembering  the  night when  she went down to  that  room and  met the
never-to-be forgotten look, did she raise her eyes to those that watched her
with such loving earnestness, and weep with happiness  in such a refuge! The
more she clung to it, the more the dear dead  child was in her thoughts: but
as if  the last time she had  seen her father, had been when he was sleeping
and  she kissed his face, she always left him  so,  and never, in her fancy,
passed that hour.
     'Walter, dear,' said Florence, one evening, when it was almost dark.'Do
you know what I have been thinking to-day?'
     'Thinking how the time  is flying on, and how soon we shall be upon the
sea, sweet Florence?'
     'I  don't mean that, Walter, though I think  of that  too.  I have been
thinking what a charge I am to you.
     'A precious, sacred charge, dear heart! Why, I think that sometimes.'
     'You  are laughing, Walter.  I  know that's  much more in your thoughts
than mine. But I mean a cost.
     'A cost, my own?'
     'In  money, dear. All  these preparations that Susan and I  are so busy
with  - I have been able to purchase very little  for myself.  You were poor
before. But how much poorer I shall make you, Walter!'
     'And how much richer, Florence!'
     Florence laughed, and shook her head.
     'Besides,'  said  Walter,  'long ago  -  before I went to sea - I had a
little purse presented to me, dearest, which had money in it.'
     'Ah!'  returned  Florence, laughing  sorrowfully,  'very  little!  very
little, Walter! But, you must not think,' and  here she laid her  light hand
on his shoulder, and looked into his face, 'that I regret  to be this burden
on you. No, dear love, I am glad of it. I am happy in it. I wouldn't have it
otherwise for all the world!'
     'Nor I, indeed, dear Florence.'
     'Ay! but, Walter, you can never feel it as  I do. I am so proud of you!
It makes  my heart  swell with such delight to know that  those who speak of
you must say you married a poor disowned girl, who had  taken  shelter here;
who had no  other home,  no other  friends;  who had nothing -  nothing! Oh,
Walter, if  I  could  have brought you millions, I never  could have been so
happy for your sake, as I am!'
     'And you, dear Florence? are you nothing?' he returned.
     'No,  nothing, Walter.  Nothing  but your wife.' The  light hand  stole
about his neck, and the voice came nearer - nearer. 'I am nothing any  more,
that is not  you. I  have no earthly hope any more, that is not  you. I have
nothing dear to me any more, that is not you.
     Oh! well  might  Mr Toots  leave the little  company that evening,  and
twice go out to correct his watch by the Royal Exchange, and once to keep an
appointment with a banker which he suddenly  remembered, and once to take  a
little turn to Aldgate Pump and back!
     But before he went upon these expeditions,  or indeed  before  he came,
and before lights were brought, Walter said:
     'Florence,  love,  the  lading  of  our  ship  is  nearly finished, and
probably on the very day of our marriage she will drop down the river. Shall
we go away that morning, and stay in Kent until we go on  board at Gravesend
within a week?'
     'If you please, Walter. I shall be happy anywhere. But - '
     'Yes, my life?'
     'You know,' said  Florence, 'that  we shall have no marriage party, and
that  nobody will distinguish us by our dress from other people. As we leave
the  same  day, will you - will you take me somewhere that morning, Walter -
early - before we go to church?'
     Walter  seemed  to  understand her,  as so true a  lover so truly loved
should,  and confirmed his ready promise with  a  kiss - with more than  one
perhaps,  or  two  or threes  or  five or six;  and in  the grave,  peaceful
evening, Florence was very happy.
     Then into the quiet  room  came Susan Nipper  and the candles;  shortly
afterwards, the tea, the Captain, and the  excursive Mr Toots, who, as above
mentioned, was frequently on the move afterwards,  and passed but a restless
evening.  This, however, was  not  his habit:  for he  generally got on very
well, by dint  of  playing at cribbage with the Captain under the advice and
guidance  of  Miss Nipper, and distracting  his  mind with the  calculations
incidental to the game; which  he found  to  be a  very  effectual means  of
utterly confounding himself.
     The Captain's visage on  these occasions presented one  of  the  finest
examples  of combination  and  succession  of expression ever observed.  His
instinctive delicacy and his chivalrous feeling towards Florence, taught him
that it was  not a time  for any boisterous jollity, or  violent display  of
satisfaction; floating  reminiscences of Lovely Peg, on the other hand, were
constantly struggling for a vent, and urging the  Captain to commit  himself
by some irreparable  demonstration. Anon,  his  admiration of  Florence  and
Walter - well-matched, truly, and full of grace and interest in their youth,
and love, and  good  looks,  as they sat  apart  - would  take such complete
possession of  hIm, that he would lay down  his cards,  and  beam upon them,
dabbing  his  head  all  over  with his  pockethandkerchief;  until  warned,
perhaps, by the sudden  rushing forth of Mr Toots, that he had unconsciously
been very  instrumental,  indeed,  in making that gentleman miserable.  This
reflection would make the Captain profoundly melancholy, until the return of
Mr Toots; when he  would fall to his cards  again, with many side winks  and
nods, and  polite waves of his hook at Miss Nipper, importing that he wasn't
going to do so any  more. The state that  ensued on  this, was, perhaps, his
best;  for then, endeavouring to discharge all  expression from his face, he
would sit staring round  the room,  with all these expressions conveyed into
it at  once,  and  each wrestling with the  other.  Delighted  admiration of
Florence and Walter always  overthrew the rest, and  remained victorious and
undisguised,  unless Mr Toots  made another rush into the air, and then  the
Captain  would  sit, like  a remorseful culprit, until he  came  back again,
occasionally  calling  upon himself,  in  a low reproachful voice, to 'Stand
by!' or growling some  remonstrance  to 'Ed'ard Cuttle, my lad,' on the want
of caution observabl in his behaviour.
     One of Mr Toots's hardest trials, however,  was of  his own seeking. On
the approach of the Sunday which was to witness the last of those askings in
church of which the Captain had spoken, Mr Toots thus stated his feelings to
Susan Nipper.
     'Susan,' said  Mr Toots, 'I am  drawn  towards the  building. The words
which cut me off from Miss Dombey for ever, will strike upon  my ears like a
knell you know, but upon my word  and  honour, I feel that I must hear them.
Therefore,' said Mr  Toots,  'will you accompany me to-morrow, to the sacred
edifice?'
     Miss Nipper expressed  her  readiness to  do so,  if that  would be any
satisfaction to Mr Toots, but besought him to abandon his idea of going.
     'Susan,'  returned Mr  Toots,  with much solemnity, 'before my whiskers
began to be observed by anybody but myself, I adored Miss  Dombey. While yet
a  victim to the thraldom  of Blimber, I adored Miss Dombey. When I could no
longer be  kept out  of my  property, in  a legal  point of  view, and - and
accordingly came into it - I adored Miss Dombey. The banns which consign her
to Lieutenant Walters, and me to - to Gloom, you know,' said Mr Toots, after
hesitating  for a strong expression, 'may be dreadful, will be dreadful; but
I feel that I  should wish to hear them spoken. I feel that I should wish to
know that the ground wascertainly cut from under me,  and  that  I  hadn't a
hope to cherish, or a - or a leg, in short, to - to go upon.'
     Susan  Nipper  could only commiserate Mr Toots's unfortunate condition,
and agree, under these circumstances,  to accompany him; which she  did next
morning.
     The church Walter had chosen for the  purpose,  was a mouldy old church
in a  yard,  hemmed in by a labyrinth  of back streets  and courts,  with  a
little burying-ground round it, and itself buried in a kind of vault, formed
by the  neighbouring  houses, and paved  with echoing stones It was  a great
dim, shabby  pile,  with high old oaken pews, among which  about a  score of
people lost  themselves  every Sunday; while  the clergyman's voice drowsily
resounded through the emptiness, and the organ rumbled  and rolled as if the
church  had got the colic, for want  of a congregation to keep  the wind and
damp out. But  so far was this city church  from languishing for the company
of  other churches, that spires were clustered round  it, as  the  masts  of
shipping  cluster on  the river. It would have been  hard to count them from
its steeple-top,  they  were so many.  In almost every yard  and blind-place
near, there was a  church. The confusion  of  bells when Susan  and Mr Toots
betook themselves towards it  on  the Sunday  morning,  was deafening. There
were twenty churches close together, clamouring for people to come in.
     The two stray sheep in question were penned by a beadle in a commodious
pew,  and,  being  early, sat  for  some  time  counting  the  congregation,
listening to the disappointed  bell  high up in the  tower, or looking at  a
shabby  little  old man in  the porch behind the screen, who was ringing the
same,  like the Bull in Cock Robin,'  with  his foot in a stirrup. Mr Toots,
after a lengthened survey of the large books on the  reading-desk, whispered
Miss  Nipper that he wondered where the banns were kept, but that young lady
merely shook her head and frowned; repelling for the time all approaches  of
a temporal nature.
     Mr  Toots,  however, appearing  unable  to keep his thoughts  from  the
banns, was  evidently  looking  out  for them  during the  whole preliminary
portion  of  the service. As the time for reading them  approached, the poor
young gentleman manifested  great  anxiety and  trepidation, which  was  not
diminished by the unexpected apparition of  the Captain in the  front row of
the gallery.  When the clerk handed  up  a list to the  clergyman, Mr Toots,
being  then  seated, held on by  the seat  of the pew; but when the names of
Walter Gay and Florence Dombey were  read aloud as being  in  the third  and
last stage of that association, he was so entirley conquered by his feelings
as to  rush  from the  church without  his  hat, followed by  the beadle and
pew-opener, and two  gentlemen of the medical profeesion, who happened to be
present;  of whom the  first-named  presently  returned  for  that  article,
informing Miss Nipper in a whisper that  she  was not to make herself uneasy
about  the  gentleman, as  the gentleman  said  his indisposition was  of no
consequence.
     Miss Nipper, feeling that the eyes  of that  integral portion of Europe
which lost itself weekly among the  high-backed pews, were  upon  her, would
have  been sufficient embarrassed by this incident, though it had terminated
here; the  more so, as the Captain in the front row of the gallery, was in a
state of unmitigated consciousness which could hardly fail to express to the
congregation that he had some mysterious connection with it. But the extreme
restlessness of Mr Toots painfully increased and protracted  the delicacy of
her situation. That young gentleman, incapable,  in his  state  of mind,  of
remaining alone  in the churchyard, a prey to solitary meditation, and  also
desirous, no doubt, of testifying his respect for the offices he had in some
measure interrupted,  suddenly returned -  not coming back to the  pew,  but
stationing himself on a free seat in the aisle,  between two elderly females
who were in the habit  of receiving  their portion of a weekly dole of bread
then  set  forth  on  a shelf  in  the porch. In  this  conjunction Mr Toots
remained, greatly  disturbing the congregation, who  felt  it  impossible to
avoid  looking  at him,  until  his  feelings  overcame him  again,  when he
departed silently and suddenly. Not venturing to trust himself in the church
any  more, and  yet wishing to  have  some social participation  in what was
going on there,  Mr Toots was, after  this, seen from time to  time, looking
in, with a lorn aspect, at one or  other of  the windows; and  as there were
several windows accessible to him from without, and as his  restlessness was
very  great, it  not  only became  difficult to conceive  at which window he
would  appear next, but likewise became necessary, as it were, for the whole
congregation to speculate upon  the chances of the different windows, during
the comparative leisure afforded them by the sermon. Mr Toots's movements in
the  churchyard  were so  eccentric,  that he seemed generally to defeat all
calculation,  and to appear, like the conjuror's figure, where he was  least
expected;  and  the  effect  of  these  mysterious  presentations  was  much
increased  by  its  being difficult to him to see in, and  easy to everybody
else to see  out: which  occasioned his remaining,  every time,  longer than
might have been expected, with his face  close to the glass, until he all at
once became aware that all eyes were upon him, and vanished.
     These proceedings on  the  part of  Mr Toots, and the strong individual
consciousness  of them that  was exhibited  by  the  Captain,  rendered Miss
Nipper's position  so responsible a one, that she was mightily  relieved  by
the  conclusion  of the  service; and was hardly  so affable to Mr Toots  as
usual,  when he  informed her and the Captain, on the way  back, that now he
was  sure he had no hope, you know, he felt more  comfortable - at least not
exactly more comfortable, but more comfortably and completely miserable.
     Swiftly now, indeed,  the time flew by until  it was the evening before
the day appointed  for  the marriage.  They were all assembled  in the upper
room at the Midshipman's, and had no fear of interruption; for there were no
lodgers  in  the house  now, and the Midshipman had it all  to himself. They
were  grave and quiet in the prospect of to-morrow, but moderately  cheerful
too. Florence, with Walter close beside her, was finishing a little piece of
work intended as a  parting gift  to the Captain.  The  Captain was  playing
cribbage with Mr Toots. Mr Toots was taking counsel as to his hand, of Susan
Nipper. Miss Nipper was giving it, with  all due secrecy and circumspection.
Diogenes  was  listening,  and  occasionally  breaking   out  into  a  gruff
half-smothered  fragment  of  a  bark,  of   which   he  afterwards   seemed
half-ashamed, as if he doubted having any reason for it.
     'Steady, steady!' said the Captain to Diogenes, 'what's amiss with you?
You don't seem easy in your mind to-night, my boy!'
     Diogenes  wagged  his  tail,  but   pricked  up  his  ears  immediately
afterwards, and gave utterance  to another fragment of  a bark; for which he
apologised to the Captain, by again wagging his tail.
     'It's  my opinion, Di,' said  the Captain, looking thoughtfully at  his
cards, and stroking his chin with his hook, 'as you  have your doubts of Mrs
Richards; but if you're the animal I  take you to be, you'll think better o'
that; for her looks is her commission. Now, Brother:' to Mr Toots: 'if so be
as you're ready, heave ahead.'
     The Captain  spoke with  all composure  and attention to the game,  but
suddenly his cards dropped out  of his hand, his mouth and eyes opened wide,
his legs drew themselves up and stuck out in front of  his chair, and he sat
staring at  the door  with  blank amazement. Looking round upon the company,
and seeing that none of them observed him  or the cause of his astonishment,
the  Captain  recovered  himself  with  a great  gasp,  struck  the table  a
tremendous  blow, cried in a  stentorian roar, 'Sol Gills ahoy!' and tumbled
into the arms of a weather-beaten pea-coat that had come with Polly into the
room.
     In  another moment,  Walter was  in  the  arms  of  the  weather-beaten
pea-coat. In another  moment, Florence was in the arms of the weather-beaten
pea-coat. In another moment, Captain Cuttle  had  embraced Mrs  Richards and
Miss Nipper,  and was violently shaking hands  with Mr Toots, exclaiming, as
he waved  his hook above his  head, 'Hooroar, my lad, hooroar!'  To which Mr
Toots, wholly at a loss to account for these proceedings, replied with great
politeness, 'Certainly, Captain Gills, whatever you think proper!'
     The  weather-beaten  pea-coat,  and  a  no less  weather-beaten cap and
comforter belonging to it, turned from the Captain and from Florence back to
Walter,   and  sounds  came  from  the  weather-beaten  pea-coat,  cap,  and
comforter, as of  an  old  man sobbing  underneath  them;  while  the shaggy
sleeves  clasped Walter tight. During  this pause,  there  was an  universal
silence, and the Captain polished  his  nose with great diligence.  But when
the pea-coat, cap, and comforter lifted themselves up again, Florence gently
moved towards them;  and she  and Walter taking  them off, disclosed the old
Instrument-maker, a little thinner and more careworn than of old, in his old
Welsh wig and his old coffee-coloured coat and basket buttons, with  his old
infallible chronometer ticking away in his pocket.
     'Chock full o' science,' said the radiant Captain, 'as ever he was! Sol
Gills, Sol Gills, what have  you been up to,  for this  many  a long day, my
ould boy?'
     'I'm half blind, Ned,' said the old man, 'and almost deaf and dumb with
joy.'
     'His wery woice,' said the Captain, looking round with an exultation to
which even his face could hardly render  justice - 'his wery woice as  chock
full o'  science as ever it was! Sol Gills, lay  to, my  lad, upon  your own
wines and fig-trees like a taut ould patriark as you are, and overhaul  them
there adwentures  o' yourn, in your  own formilior woice. 'Tis  the  woice,'
said the Captain, impressively,  and announcing  a  quotation with his hook,
'of the sluggard, I heerd him complain, you have woke  me too soon,  I  must
slumber again. Scatter his ene-mies, and make 'em fall!'
     The Captain  sat down with the air of a man  who  had happily expressed
the feeling  of everybody present,  and immediately rose again to present Mr
Toots, who  was  much  disconcerted  by the arrival of anybody, appearing to
prefer a claim to the name of Gills.
     'Although,'  stammered  Mr  Toots,  'I  had  not  the pleasure of  your
acquaintance, Sir, before you were - you were - '
     'Lost to sight, to memory dear,' suggested the Captain, in a low voice.
     Exactly  so, Captain Gills!' assented Mr Toots. 'Although I had not the
pleasure of your  acquaintance, Mr - Mr  Sols,' said Toots,  hitting on that
name in the  inspiration of a bright idea, 'before that happened, I have the
greatest  pleasure,  I assure you, in - you  know, in knowing you. I  hope,'
said Mr Toots, 'that you're as well as can be expected.'
     With these courteous words, Mr Toots sat down blushing and chuckling.
     The  old  Instrument-maker,  seated  in  a corner  between  Walter  and
Florence, and  nodding at Polly, who was looking on, all smiles and delight,
answered the Captain thus:
     'Ned  Cuttle,  my dear boy,  although  I have  heard  something of  the
changes of events here, from my pleasant friend there - what a pleasant face
she has to be sure, to welcome a wanderer home!' said the  old man, breaking
off, and rubbing his hands in his old dreamy way.
     'Hear  him!'  cried  the Captain  gravely.  ''Tis  woman as seduces all
mankind. For which,' aside to Mr Toots, 'you'll overhaul  your Adam and Eve,
brother.'
     'I shall make a point of doing so, Captain Gills,' said Mr Toots.
     'Although I have heard something of the changes of events,  from  her,'
resumed the Instrument-maker, taking his old spectacles from his pocket, and
putting  them  on his forehead  in his  old manner, 'they are  so  great and
unexpected, and I  am so overpowered by  the  sight  of my dear  boy, and by
the,' -  glancing  at  the downcast eyes of  Florence, and not attempting to
finish the sentence - 'that  I - I can't say  much to-night. But my dear Ned
Cuttle, why didn't you write?'
     The  astonishment   depicted  in  the  Captain's   features  positively
frightened Mr Toots, whose eyes were quite fixed by it, so that he could not
withdraw them from his face.
     'Write!' echoed the Captain. 'Write, Sol Gills?'
     'Ay,' said  the old man, 'either to Barbados, or Jamaica, or  Demerara,
That was what I asked.'
     'What you asked, Sol Gills?' repeated the Captain.
     'Ay,'  said  the  old  man.  'Don't you  know, Ned?  Sure  you have not
forgotten? Every time I wrote to you.'
     The Captain took off his glazed hat, hung it on his hook, and smoothing
his hair from behind  with his hand, sat gazing  at the group around him:  a
perfect image of wondering resignation.
     'You don't appear to understand me, Ned!' observed old Sol.
     'Sol  Gills,'  returned the Captain, after staring  at him and the rest
for a  long  time,  without speaking, 'I'm gone about and adrift.  Pay out a
word or two respecting  them adwenturs, will you! Can't I  bring up, nohows?
Nohows?' said the Captain, ruminating, and staring all round.
     'You  know,  Ned,' said  Sol  Gills, 'why I left  here. Did you open my
packet, Ned?'
     'Why, ay, ay,' said the Captain. 'To be sure, I opened the packet.'
     'And read it?' said the old man.
     'And read  it,'  answered  the Captain,  eyeing  him  attentively,  and
proceeding to quote  it from memory. '"My dear Ned Cuttle, when I  left home
for the West Indies  in forlorn search of intelligence of my dear-" There he
sits!  There's Wal'r!' said the  Captain, as if he were  relieved by getting
hold of anything that was real and indisputable.
     'Well, Ned. Now attend a moment!' said the old man. 'When I wrote first
- that was from Barbados - I said that though you would receive that  letter
long before the year was out, I should be glad if you would open the packet,
as it explained the  reason of my going away. Very good, Ned.  When  I wrote
the second, third, and perhaps  the fourth times - that was from Jamaica - I
said  I was in  just the same  state, couldn't rest, and  couldn't come away
from that part  of the world, without knowing that my boy was lost or saved.
When I wrote next - that, I think, was from Demerara, wasn't it?'
     'That  he  thinks  was  from  Demerara, warn't  it!' said  the Captain,
looking hopelessly round.
     'I  said,'  proceeded  old  Sol,  'that  still  there  was  no  certain
information got yet. That I  found many captains and others, in that part of
the world,  who had known me for years, and who assisted  me with a  passage
here and there, and for  whom I was able, now  and then, to do a  little  in
return, in my own craft. That everyone was sorry for me,  and seemed to take
a sort of interest  in my wanderings; and that  I began to think it would be
my fate to cruise about in search of tidings of my boy, until I died.'
     'Began  to think  as how he was a scientific Flying Dutchman!' said the
Captain, as before, and with great seriousness.
     'But when the news come one  day, Ned, - that was to Barbados, after  I
got back there, - that  a  China trader home'ard bound  had been spoke, that
had my boy aboard, then, Ned, I took passage in the next ship and came home;
arrived  at  home to-night  to find  it true, thank God!'  said the old man,
devoutly.
     The Captain, after  bowing  his  head with great  reverence, stared all
round   the   circle,   beginning  with  Mr  Toots,  and  ending  with   the
Instrument-maker; then gravely said:
     'Sol Gills!  The observation as  I'm a-going to make  is calc'lated  to
blow every stitch of sail as you can carry, clean out of the bolt-ropes, and
bring you  on your beam ends with a lurch. Not one  of them letters was ever
delivered to Ed'ard Cuttle. Not one o' them  letters,' repeated the Captain,
to make his declaration  the more solemn and impressive, 'was ever delivered
unto Ed'ard Cuttle, Mariner, of England,  as lives at home at ease, and doth
improve each shining hour!'
     'And posted by my own hand! And directed  by my own  hand, Number  nine
Brig Place!' exclaimed old Sol.
     The colour all went out  of the Captain's face and all  came back again
in a glow.
     'What do you  mean, Sol Gills, my  friend, by Number  nine Brig Place?'
inquired the Captain.
     'Mean? Your lodgings, Ned,' returned the old man. 'Mrs What's-her-name!
I shall forget my own name next, but I am behind the present time - I always
was, you recollect - and very much confused. Mrs - '
     'Sol  Gills!' said  the  Captain,  as  if  he  were  putting  the  most
improbable case in the world, 'it ain't  the name of MacStinger as you're  a
trying to remember?'
     'Of course it is!' exclaimed the Instrument-maker. 'To be sure Ned. Mrs
MacStinger!'
     Captain Cuttle, whose eyes were now  as wide open as they would be, and
the  knobs  upon  whose  face were  perfectly  luminous, gave  a long shrill
whistle of a most melancholy sound, and stood gazing at everybody in a state
of speechlessness.
     'Overhaul that there again, Sol Gills, will you be so kind?' he said at
last.
     'All  these  letters,'  returned  Uncle  Sol,  beating  time  with  the
forefinger of his right hand  upon the palm  of his  left, with a steadiness
and  distinctness  that  might  have  done  honour,  even  to the infallible
chronometer in his  pocket, 'I posted with my own hand, and directed with my
own hand, to Captain Cuttle, at Mrs MacStinger's, Number nine Brig Place.'
     The Captain took  his glazed  hat off his hook, looked into it,  put it
on, and sat down.
     'Why, friends all,' said the Captain,  staring round in the  last state
of discomfiture, 'I cut and run from there!'
     'And no  one  knew  where you were gone, Captain Cuttle?'  cried Walter
hastily.
     'Bless your heart, Wal'r,'  said the  Captain, shaking his head, 'she'd
never  have  allowed o'  my  coming  to take  charge o' this here  property.
Nothing  could be  done  but cut and run. Lord love  you,  Wal'r!' said  the
Captain, 'you've only  seen  her  in a  calm!  But  see  her when  her angry
passions rise - and make a note on!'
     'I'd give it her!' remarked the Nipper, softly.
     'Would you,  do you think, my dear?'  returned the Captain, with feeble
admiration. 'Well, my  dear,  it does  you  credit. But there ain't  no wild
animal I wouldn't sooner face myself. I only got my chest away by means of a
friend as nobody's a match for. It was no good sending any letter there. She
wouldn't take  in  any letter, bless  you,'  said  the Captain,  'under them
circumstances! Why,  you could hardly make it worth a man's while  to be the
postman!'
     'Then  it's pretty clear, Captain Cuttle,  that all of  us, and you and
Uncle Sol especially,' said Walter,  'may thank Mrs MacStinger  for no small
anxiety.'
     The  general obligation in this wise  to the determined  relict of  the
late Mr  MacStinger, was so  apparent, that  the Captain did not contest the
point; but  being  in some  measure ashamed  of  his position, though nobody
dwelt  upon the subject, and Walter  especially avoided it,  remembering the
last conversation  he and  the Captain had held  together respecting  it, he
remained under a cloud for nearly five minutes - an extraordinary period for
him when that sun, his  face, broke out once more, shining on all  beholders
with extraordinary brilliancy; and  he fell into a fit of shaking hands with
everybody over and over again.
     At an early hour, but not before Uncle  Sol  and  Walter had questioned
each other at some length about their voyages and dangers,  they all, except
Walter, vacated Florence's  room, and went  down  to the  parlour. Here they
were soon afterwards joined by Walter, who told them Florence  was a  little
sorrowful and heavy-hearted, and had gone to bed. Though they could not have
disturbed her  with their  voices  down there, they all  spoke in a  whisper
after this: and each,  in  his  different way, felt very lovingly and gently
towards Walter's fair  young  bride:  and  a  long explanation there was  of
everything  relating  to  her, for the satisfaction  of Uncle Sol;  and very
sensible Mr Toots  was of the delicacy with  which Walter made his name  and
services important, and his presence necessary to their little council.
     'Mr Toots,' said  Walter, on  parting with  him  at the house door, 'we
shall see each other to-morrow morning?'
     'Lieutenant Walters,' returned  Mr Toots, grasping  his hand fervently,
'I shall certainly be present.
     'This  is the last night we shall meet for a long time - the last night
we may ever meet,' said  Walter. 'Such a noble heart as  yours, must feel, I
think, when another heart  is bound to it. I  hope you know that  I  am very
grateful to you?'
     'Walters,' replied Mr  Toots, quite touched, 'I should be glad to  feel
that you had reason to be so.'
     'Florence,'  said Walter,  'on this last night of her  bearing  her own
name, has made me promise - it was only just now,  when you left us together
- that I would tell you - with her dear love - '
     Mr Toots laid his hand upon the doorpost, and his eyes upon his hand.
     - with her dear love,'  said Walter, 'that she  can never have a friend
whom  she  will  value  above  you.  That  the  recollection  of  your  true
consideration for  her always,  can  never  be forgotten  by  her.  That she
remembers  you in her prayers to-night, and hopes that you will think of her
when she is far away. Shall I say anything for you?'
     'Say,  Walter,' replied Mr  Toots indistinctly, 'that I shall think  of
her every day,  but never without feeling happy  to know that she is married
to the man  she loves, and who loves her. Say, if you please, that I am sure
her husband deserves her - even her!- and that I am glad of her choice.'
     Mr Toots got more distinct as he came to these last words, and  raising
his eyes  from the doorpost, said them  stoutly. He then shook Walter's hand
again  with  a  fervour that  Walter  was not slow  to  return  and  started
homeward.
     Mr Toots was accompanied by the Chicken, whom  he had  of late  brought
with him  every evening, and left in the shop, with an idea  that unforeseen
circumstances  might  arise  from  without,  in  which  the  prowess of that
distinguished character  would be of service to  the Midshipman. The Chicken
did not appear to be in a particularly good humour on this  occasion. Either
the gas-lamps were treacherous, or he cocked  his eye  in a  hideous manner,
and likewise distorted  his nose, when  Mr Toots, crossing the  road, looked
back over his shoulder  at the room where Florence slept.  On the road home,
he  was  more  demonstrative  of  aggressive intentions  against  the  other
foot-passengers, than  comported  with  a professor  of the  peaceful art of
self-defence. Arrived at home, instead of leaving Mr Toots in his apartments
when he  had escorted him thither, he remained before him weighing his white
hat  in both  hands by the brim,  and twitching his head  and  nose (both of
which had been many times broken, and but  indifferently repaired), with  an
air of decided disrespect.
     His patron being much engaged  with his own  thoughts, did  not observe
this  for  some  time,  nor indeed  until the Chicken,  determined not to be
overlooked,  had made divers clicking sounds  with his  tongue and teeth, to
attract attention.
     'Now, Master,' said  the Chicken, doggedly, when he, at length,  caught
Mr Toots's eye, 'I want to know whether this here gammon is to finish it, or
whether you're a going in to win?'
     'Chicken,' returned Mr Toots, 'explain yourself.'
     'Why then, here's all  about it, Master,' said the Chicken.  'I ain't a
cove to chuck a word away. Here's  wot it is.  Are any on 'em to  be doubled
up?'
     When the Chicken put this question he dropped his hat, made a dodge and
a  feint with his left  hand, hit a supposed enemy a  violent blow with  his
right, shook his head smartly, and recovered himself'
     'Come, Master,' said the Chicken. 'Is it to be gammon or pluck? Which?'
     Chicken,'  returned  Mr Toots,  'your expressions are coarse, and  your
meaning is obscure.'
     'Why, then, I  tell you what, Master,' said the Chicken. 'This is where
it is. It's mean.'
     'What is mean, Chicken?' asked Mr Toots.
     'It is,'  said  the Chicken, with a frightful corrugation of his broken
nose. 'There!  Now, Master! Wot!  When you  could go and  blow on this  here
match to the stiff'un;'  by which depreciatory appellation it has been since
supposed  that  the Game One  intended  to  signify Mr Dombey; 'and when you
could knock the winner and all the kit of 'em dead out o' wind and time, are
you  going  to give  in? To  give in? 'said the Chicken,  with  contemptuous
emphasis. 'Wy, it's mean!'
     'Chicken,'  said Mr  Toots, severely, 'you're a perfect  Vulture!  Your
sentiments are atrocious.'
     'My  sentiments is Game  and  Fancy,  Master,'  returned  the  Chicken.
'That's  wot my sentiments  is. I  can't  abear  a meanness. I'm  afore  the
public, I'm  to  be heerd on  at the  bar  of the Little  Helephant,  and no
Gov'ner o' mine mustn't go and do  what's  mean.  Wy,  it's  mean,' said the
Chicken, with increased expression. 'That's where it is. It's mean.'
     'Chicken,' said Mr Toots, 'you disgust me.'
     'Master,' returned the Chicken, putting on  his hat, 'there's a pair on
us,  then.  Come!  Here's  a offer!  You've spoke to  me more than once't or
twice't about the public line. Never mind! Give me a fi'typunnote to-morrow,
and let me go.'
     'Chicken,'  returned  Mr Toots, 'after the odious  sentiments you  have
expressed, I shall be glad to part on such terms.'
     'Done  then,' said the Chicken.  'It's a bargain. This here conduct  of
yourn  won't suit my book,  Master. Wy,  it's mean,'  said the  Chicken; who
seemed equally  unable to get beyond that  point, and to  stop short  of it.
'That's where it is; it's mean!'
     So Mr Toots and the  Chicken  agreed to part on this incompatibility of
moral perception;  and  Mr  Toots lying down  to  sleep, dreamed happily  of
Florence, who  had thought of him as her friend upon  the last night  of her
maiden life, and who had sent him her dear love.


     Another Wedding

     Mr Sownds the beadle, and Mrs Miff the  pew-opener, are early at  their
posts  in the fine church where Mr  Dombey  was  married. A yellow-faced old
gentleman  from  India,  is  going to take  unto himself  a  young wife this
morning,  and  six carriages full of company are expected, and Mrs  Miff has
been  informed that  the yellow-faced old gentleman could pave the  road  to
church with diamonds and hardly miss them. The  nuptial benediction is to be
a superior one, proceeding from a very reverend, a dean, and the  lady is to
be given away, as an extraordinary present,  by somebody  who comes  express
from the Horse Guards
     Mrs Miff  is  more intolerant of common  people  this morning, than she
generally is; and she  his always strong opinions on that subject, for it is
associated  with  free  sittings.  Mrs Miff  is  not a  student of political
economy (she thinks the science is  connected  with dissenters; 'Baptists or
Wesleyans, or some  o' them,' she  says), but she can never  understand what
business your common folks  have to be  married. 'Drat  'em,' says  Mrs Miff
'you  read  the  same  things  over  'em'  and  instead  of  sovereigns  get
sixpences!'
     Mr Sownds the beadle is more liberal than Mrs Miff - but then he is not
a pew-opener. 'It must be done, Ma'am,' he says. 'We must marry 'em. We must
have  our national  schools  to walk  at the head of, and  we must  have our
standing  armies. We must marry 'em,  Ma'am,'  says Mr Sownds, 'and keep the
country going.'
     Mr  Sownds  is sitting on  the steps and  Mrs  Miff is dusting  in  the
church, when a  young couple, plainly dressed, come in. The mortified bonnet
of Mrs Miff is  sharply  turned towards  them, for she espies in this  early
visit indications  of a runaway  match. But they don't want to be married  -
'Only,' says the gentleman,  'to walk round the church.'  And as he  slips a
genteel compliment into the palm of Mrs Miff, her vinegary face relaxes, and
her mortified bonnet and her spare dry figure dip and crackle.
     Mrs Miff  resumes her  dusting and plumps  up her  cushions  - for  the
yellow-faced old gentleman is  reported to have tender knees - but keeps her
glazed, pew-opening eye  on  the  young couple  who  are walking  round  the
church. 'Ahem,' coughs Mrs Miff whose cough is  drier than  the hay  in  any
hassock in her charge,  'you'll  come to us one of these mornings, my dears,
unless I'm much mistaken!'
     They  are looking  at a tablet  on  the  wall, erected to the memory of
someone dead. They are a long  way off  from  Mrs Miff, but Mrs Miff can see
with half an  eye  how  she is leaning on his arm, and how his head  is bent
down over her. 'Well, well,' says Mrs Miff, 'you might do  worse. For you're
a tidy pair!'
     There is  nothing personal in Mrs Miff's remark.  She  merely speaks of
stock-in-trade.  She is hardly more curious in couples than in  coffins. She
is such a spare, straight, dry  old lady - such a pew of a woman - that  you
should find as  many individual sympathies in a chip. Mr Sownds, now, who is
fleshy, and has scarlet in his coat, is of a different temperament. He says,
as they stand upon the steps watching the young couple  away, that she has a
pretty figure,  hasn't  she, and  as well as he could see (for she  held her
head down coming out), an uncommon pretty face. 'Altogether, Mrs Miff,' says
Mr Sownds with a relish, 'she is what you may call a rose-bud.'
     Mrs Miff assents with a spare nod of her mortified bonnet; but approves
of this so little, that she inwardly resolves she wouldn't be the wife of Mr
Sownds for any money he could give her, Beadle as he is.
     And  what are the young couple saying as  they leave the church, and go
out at the gate?
     'Dear Walter, thank you! I can go away, now, happy.'
     'And  when  we  come  back,  Florence,  we will come and see  his grave
again.'
     Florence  lifts her eyes,  so bright with tears, to his  kind face; and
clasps her disengaged hand on that other modest little hand which clasps his
arm.
     'It is very early, Walter, and the streets are almost empty yet. Let us
walk.'
     'But you will be so tired, my love.'
     'Oh no! I was  very tired the first time that  we ever walked together,
but  I shall  not be so  to-day.' And thus  -  not much  changed -  she,  as
innocent and earnest-hearted -  he, as frank,  as hopeful, and more proud of
her - Florence and Walter, on their bridal morning, walk through the streets
together.
     Not even in  that childish walk of long  ago, were  they so far removed
from all the world about them as to-day. The childish feet of  long ago, did
not tread such enchanted ground as theirs do now. The confidence and love of
children may be given many times, and will spring up in many places; but the
woman's heart of Florence, with its undivided treasure,  can be yielded only
once, and under slight or change, can only droop and die.
     They take the streets that are the quietest, and do not go near that in
which her  old  home stands. It is a fair, warm summer  morning, and the sun
shines on them, as they walk towards the darkening mist that overspreads the
City. Riches are uncovering in shops; jewels, gold,  and silver flash in the
goldsmith's sunny windows; and  great houses cast  a stately shade upon them
as they  pass. But  through the light, and through  the  shade, they  go  on
lovingly together, lost to everything around; thinking of  no other  riches,
and no prouder home, than they have now in one another.
     Gradually they come into the darker, narrower  streets, where  the sun,
now yellow, and now red, is seen through the  mist, only at street  corners,
and  in small open  spaces where there is a tree, or one of  the innumerable
churches, or a paved way and a flight of steps, or a curious little patch of
garden, or a burying-ground, where the few tombs and tombstones  are  almost
black. Lovingly and trustfully, through  all the narrow yards and alleys and
the shady streets, Florence goes, clinging to his arm, to be his wife.
     Her heart beats quicker now, for Walter tells her that their  church is
very near. They pass a few great  stacks of warehouses,  with waggons at the
doors, and busy carmen stopping  up the way - but Florence  does  not see or
hear them  - and  then the air is quiet, and the day is darkened, and she is
trembling in a church which has a strange smell like a cellar.
     The shabby little old man, ringer of the disappointed bell, is standing
in the porch,  and has put his hat  in the font  - for he is quite  at  home
there,  being  sexton. He ushers  them into  an  old  brown, panelled, dusty
vestry,  like  a corner-cupboard with the shelves taken out; where the wormy
registers diffuse a smell like faded snuff, which has set the tearful Nipper
sneezing.
     Youthful, and how beautiful, the young bride  looks,  in this old dusty
place, with no kindred object near her but her husband. There is a dusty old
clerk,  who keeps  a  sort  of  evaporated news  shop underneath an  archway
opposite,  behind  a perfect fortification  of posts.  There is a dusty  old
pew-opener who only keeps herself, and  finds that quite enough to do. There
is a dusty  old beadle (these are Mr Toots's beadle and pew-opener  of  last
Sunday), who  has something to  do with  a Worshipful Company who have got a
Hall in the next yard, with a stained-glass window in it that no mortal ever
saw.  There are  dusty  wooden ledges and cornices poked in and out over the
altar, and over the  screen and round the gallery, and over  the inscription
about  what  the Master  and Wardens  of the Worshipful  Company did  in one
thousand six hundred and ninety-four.  There  are  dusty old sounding-boards
over the  pulpit and  reading-desk, looking like lids to be let down on  the
officiating  ministers  in  case  of their giving offence.  There  is  every
possible provision for the accommodation of  dust, except in the churchyard,
where  the  facilities in that respect are  very limited. The Captain, Uncle
Sol, and Mr  Toots are come; the clergyman is putting on his surplice in the
vestry, while the clerk  walks round him, blowing  the dust  off it; and the
bride and bridegroom  stand before the altar. There is no bridesmaid, unless
Susan Nipper is one; and  no better father than Captain Cuttle. A man with a
wooden leg, chewing a faint apple and carrying a blue bag in has hand, looks
in to  see what is going on; but finding it nothing entertaining, stumps off
again, and pegs his way among the echoes out of doors.
     No gracious  ray of light is seen to fall on Florence, kneeling at  the
altar with her timid head bowed down. The morning luminary is built out, and
don't shine there.  There  is a meagre tree  outside, where the sparrows are
chirping  a  little; and  there is a blackbird in an eyelet-hole of sun in a
dyer's  garret,  over  against  the window,  who whistles  loudly whilst the
service  is performing; and  there is the  man with  the wooden leg stumping
away. The  amens of the dusty clerk appear, like Macbeth's,  to stick in his
throat a little'; but Captain Cuttle helps him out, and does it with so much
goodwill that  he interpolates  three entirely  new responses  of that word,
never introduced into the service before.
     They are married,  and have signed their names in one of the old sneezy
registers,  and  the  clergyman's surplice is restored to the dust, and  the
clergymam is gone home.  In  a  dark corner of the dark church, Florence has
turned to Susan Nipper, and is weeping in her arms. Mr Toots's eyes are red.
The  Captain lubricates his nose. Uncle Sol has  pulled down  his spectacles
from his forehead, and walked out to the door.
     'God bless you,  Susan; dearest Susan! If you ever  can bear witness to
the love I have for Walter, and the reason  that I have to  love  him, do it
for his sake. Good-bye! Good-bye!'
     They have thought it better  not  to go back to the Midshipman,  but to
part so; a coach is waiting for them, near at hand.
     Miss  Nipper  cannot speak; she  only  sobs and  chokes,  and hugs  her
mistress. Mr Toots advances, urges her to cheer up, and takes charge of her.
Florence gives him her hand - gives him,  in the fulness of  her heart,  her
lips - kisses  Uncle Sol, and Captain Cuttle, and is borne away by her young
husband.
     But  Susan  cannot bear  that  Florence should go away with  a mournful
recollection  of her.  She had meant to be so different, that she reproaches
herself bitterly. Intent on making one last effort to redeem her  character,
she breaks from Mr Toots and runs away to find the coach, and show a parting
smile. The Captain, divining her object, sets off after her; for he feels it
his duty also to dismiss  them with a cheer, if  possible.  Uncle Sol and Mr
Toots are left behind together, outside the church, to wait for them.
     The coach is gone, but the street is steep, and narrow, and blocked up,
and Susan can see it at a stand-still in the distance, she  is sure. Captain
Cuttle follows her as she flies down the hill, and waves his glazed hat as a
general signal, which may attract the right coach and which may not.
     Susan outstrips the Captain, and comes up  with it. She looks in at the
window, sees Walter, with the  gentle  face beside him, and claps  her hands
and screams:
     'Miss Floy, my darling!  look at me! We are all so happy now, dear! One
more good-bye, my precious, one more!'
     How  Susan does it, she don't know,  but  she reaches  to  the  window,
kisses her, and has her arms about her neck, in a moment.
     We are  all so  happy now,  my  dear  Miss  Floy!' says Susan,  with  a
suspicious catching in her breath. 'You, you won't be angry with me now. Now
will you?'
     'Angry, Susan!'
     'No,  no; I am  sure you  won't. I say  you won't, my pet, my dearest!'
exclaims Susan; 'and here's  the Captain  too - your friend the Captain, you
know - to say good-bye once more!'
     'Hooroar,  my  Heart's  Delight!'  vociferates  the   Captain,  with  a
countenance of strong emotion. 'Hooroar, Wal'r my lad. Hooroar! Hooroar!'
     What with the young husband at one window,  and the young wife  at  the
other; the Captain hanging on at this door, and Susan Nipper holding fast by
that;  the coach obliged to go on whether  it will or no,  and all the other
carts and coaches turbulent because it  hesitates;  there never  was so much
confusion on four  wheels. But Susan  Nipper gallantly  maintains her point.
She keeps a smiling face upon her mistress, smiling through her tears, until
the last. Even when she is left behind,  the Captain continues to appear and
disappear  at the  door,  crying  'Hooroar,  my  lad!  Hooroar,  my  Heart's
Delight!' with his shirt-collar in a violent state of agitation, until it is
hopeless to attempt to keep up with the coach any longer. Finally,  when the
coach is  gone, Susan Nipper, being  rejoined  by the Captain,  falls into a
state of insensibility, and is taken into a baker's shop to recover.
     Uncle Sol and Mr Toots wait patiently in the churchyard, sitting on the
coping-stone of  the railings, until  Captain  Cuttle  and Susan come  back,
Neither being  at  all  desirous to  speak,  or to  be  spoken to,  they are
excellent  company, and quite satisfied.  When they  all arrive again at the
little  Midshipman, and sit down to  breakfast,  nobody  can touch a morsel.
Captain Cuttle makes a feint of being voracious about toast, but gives it up
as  a  swindle.  Mr Toots says,  after breakfast, he  will come back  in the
evening; and  goes wandering about the town all  day, with a vague sensation
upon him as if he hadn't been to bed for a fortnight.
     There  is  a strange charm in the house, and in the room, in which they
have been used  to  be together,  and  out of  which  so much  is  gone.  It
aggravates, and yet it soothes, the sorrow of the separation. Mr Toots tells
Susan Nipper when he comes at night, that he hasn't been so wretched all day
long, and yet  he likes it. He confides in  Susan Nipper,  being  alone with
her,  and tells  her what his feelings were when she gave  him  that  candid
opinion as to the probability of  Miss Dombey's ever loving him. In the vein
of confidence engendered by these  common recollections, and their tears, Mr
Toots  proposes  that  they shall  go  out  together, and buy something  for
supper. Miss Nipper assenting, they buy a good many little things; and, with
the aid of Mrs Richards, set the supper out quite showily before the Captain
and old Sol came home.
     The  Captain and  old  Sol  have  been  on  board  the ship,  and  have
established Di there, and have seen the chests put aboard. They have much to
tell  about  the  popularity of Walter, and the  comforts he will have about
him, and the quiet way in which it seems he has been working early and late,
to make  his cabin what the Captain calls 'a picter,' to surprise his little
wife. 'A admiral's cabin, mind you,' says the Captain, 'ain't more trim.'
     But  one of  the  Captain's chief  delights is, that he  knows the  big
watch,  and  the  sugar-tongs, and tea-spoons, are  on board: and  again and
again he  murmurs  to  himself, 'Ed'ard Cuttle, my lad, you  never shaped  a
better  course in your life than  when you  made that there little  property
over  jintly. You see how the  land bore, Ed'ard,' says the Captain, 'and it
does you credit, my lad.'
     The  old Instrument-maker is more distraught and misty than  he used to
be,  and takes the  marriage and the parting very much  to heart. But  he is
greatly  comforted by having his  old ally,  Ned Cuttle, at his side; and he
sits down to supper with a grateful and contented face.
     'My boy has been preserved and thrives,'  says  old Sol  Gills, rubbing
his hands. 'What right have I to be otherwise than thankful and happy!'
     The Captain, who  has not yet taken his seat at the table, but  who has
been fidgeting about for some time, and now stands hesitating in  his place,
looks doubtfully at Mr Gills, and says:
     'Sol! There's the last bottle of the old  Madeira down below. Would you
wish to have it up to-night, my boy, and drink to Wal'r and his wife?'
     The Instrument-maker,  looking wistfully at the Captain, puts his  hand
into the  breast-pocket  of  his  coffee-coloured  coat,  brings  forth  his
pocket-book, and takes a letter out.
     'To Mr Dombey,'  says the old  man. 'From  Walter. To be  sent in three
weeks' time. I'll read it.'
     '"Sir.  I  am married  to your daughter. She  is gone  with  me  upon a
distant voyage. To be devoted to her is to have  no claim on her or you, but
God knows that I am.
     '"Why, loving  her  beyond  all  earthly things,  I  have  yet, without
remorse, united her to the uncertainties  and dangers of my life, I will not
say to you. You know why, and you are her father.
     '"Do not reproach her. She has never reproached you.
     '"I  do  not  think or  hope that  you will  ever forgive me. There  is
nothing  I expect less. But if an hour should come when it  will comfort you
to  believe that  Florence has someone ever near  her, the great  charge  of
whose life is  to cancel her  remembrance of past  sorrow, I solemnly assure
you, you may, in that hour, rest in that belief."'
     Solomon  puts back the letter carefully  in his  pocket-book,  and puts
back his pocket-book in his coat.
     'We won't drink the last bottle  of the old Madeira yet, Ned,' says the
old man thoughtfully. 'Not yet.
     'Not yet,' assents the Captain. 'No. Not yet.'
     Susan and Mr Toots are of the same opinion.  After a silence  they  all
sit down to supper, and drink  to the young  husband  and wife  in something
else; and the last  bottle of the old Madeira still  remains among its  dust
and cobwebs, undisturbed.

     A  few days have elapsed, and a stately  ship is out  at sea, spreading
its white wings to the favouring wind.
     Upon the deck, image to the roughest man  on board of something that is
graceful, beautiful, and harmless -  something that it is good  and pleasant
to have there, and that  should make the voyage prosperous - is Florence. It
is night, and she and Walter  sit  alone, watching  the solemn path of light
upon the sea between them and the moon.
     At  length she cannot see it plainly, for the tears that fill her eyes;
and then she lays her head down on his breast, and puts her  arms around his
neck, saying, 'Oh Walter, dearest love, I am so happy!'
     Her husband holds her to his  heart, and they are  very quiet, and  the
stately ship goes on serenely.
     'As I hear the sea,' says  Florence, 'and sit watching it, it brings so
many days into my mind. It makes me think so much - '
     'Of Paul, my love. I know it does.'
     Of Paul and Walter.  And the voices in the waves  are always whispering
to  Florence,  in their ceaseless murmuring, of love - of  love, eternal and
illimitable,  not bounded by  the confines of  this world, or by the end  of
time, but  ranging still, beyond  the sea, beyond the sky,  to the invisible
country far away!


     After a Lapse

     The sea  had ebbed  and flowed, through  a  whole year. Through a whole
year, the winds and clouds had come and gone; the ceaseless work of Time had
been performed, in storm and sunshine.  Through  a whole  year, the tides of
human chance and change  had set in their  allotted courses. Through a whole
year,  the  famous  House  of Dombey and  Son had  fought a fight for  life,
against   cross   accidents,  doubtful   rumours,   unsuccessful   ventures,
unpropitious times, and  most of all, against the infatuation  of its  head,
who  would not contract its enterprises by  a hair's breadth,  and would not
listen to a word of warning that the  ship  he strained  so hard against the
storm, was  weak, and  could not bear it. The  year was  out, and the  great
House was down.
     One summer afternoon; a year, wanting some odd days, after the marriage
in the City church;  there  was a  buzz  and whisper upon 'Change of a great
failure. A certain cold proud man, well known there, was not there,  nor was
he represented there. Next day  it was noised abroad that Dombey and Son had
stopped, and  next night there was  a List of Bankrupts published, headed by
that name.
     The world was very busy now, in sooth, and had a deal to say. It was an
innocently  credulous  and  a much ill-used world. It  was a world in  which
there was 'no other sort of bankruptcy  whatever. There were no  conspicuous
people  in it, trading far and wide on rotten banks of religion, patriotism,
virtue,  honour. There was no  amount  worth  mentioning  of  mere paper  in
circulation,  on which anybody  lived  pretty  handsomely, promising to  pay
great sums of goodness with no effects. There were no shortcomings anywhere,
in  anything but  money.  The world was  very angry indeed;  and  the people
especially,  who, in  a worse world,  might have  been  supposed  to be  apt
traders themselves in shows  and  pretences,  were  observed to  be mightily
indignant.
     Here was  a new inducement to dissipation, presented to  that sport  of
circumstances, Mr Perch the  Messenger!  It was  apparently the  fate  of Mr
Perch  to  be  always  waking  up,  and finding  himself famous. He had  but
yesterday,  as one  might say, subsided into private life from the celebrity
of the elopement and the events that followed it; and now he was made a more
important man than ever, by the bankruptcy.  Gliding from his bracket in the
outer office where he now sat, watching the strange faces of accountants and
others, who quickly superseded nearly all the  old clerks,  Mr Perch had but
to show  himself in the court  outside, or, at farthest, in  the bar of  the
King's Arms, to be asked a multitude of questions, almost certain to include
that interesting question, what would he take to  drink? Then would Mr Perch
descant upon the hours of acute uneasiness he and Mrs Perch had suffered out
at  Balls Pond, when  they first  suspected 'things  was  going wrong.' Then
would  Mr Perch relate to gaping listeners, in a low voice, as if the corpse
of the deceased House were  lying unburied  in the  next room, how Mrs Perch
had first come to surmise that things was going wrong by hearing him (Perch)
moaning  in  his  sleep,  'twelve  and ninepence in  the pound,  twelve  and
ninepence  in  the pound!'  Which act  of  somnambulism he supposed to  have
originated in  the  impression made upon him by  the  change in Mr  Dombey's
face. Then would he inform them how he had once said, 'Might I make so  bold
as ask, Sir, are you unhappy in your  mind?' and how Mr Dombey  had replied,
'My faithful  Perch  - but no, it cannot  be!' and with that had struck  his
hand upon his forehead, and said, 'Leave  me, Perch!' Then, in  short, would
Mr Perch, a  victim  to  his position, tell  all manner of  lies;  affecting
himself to tears by those that were of a moving nature, and really believing
that  the inventions  of yesterday had, on repetition, a sort of truth about
them to-day.
     Mr Perch always closed these conferences by meekly remarking, That,  of
course, whatever his suspicions might have been (as if he had ever had any!)
it wasn't for  him to betray his trust, was it? Which sentiment (there never
being  any  creditors  present) was  received as  doing great honour  to his
feelings. Thus, he generally  brought away a  soothed conscience and left an
agreeable impression  behind him, when he returned to  his bracket: again to
sit watching the strange faces of the accountants and others, making so free
with the great mysteries, the Books; or now and then to go on tiptoe into Mr
Dombey's empty room, and  stir the  fire; or to take an  airing at the door,
and have  a little more doleful chat with  any straggler whom he knew; or to
propitiate, with various small attentions, the head accountant: from whom Mr
Perch had expectations of a messengership in a Fire Office, when the affairs
of the House should be wound up.
     To Major Bagstock, the bankruptcy was quite  a calamity. The  Major was
not a sympathetic character - his attention being wholly concentrated  on J.
B. - nor was he  a man  subject to lively  emotions, except  in the physical
regards of  gasping and choking. But he had so paraded  his friend Dombey at
the club; had so flourished him at the heads  of the members in general, and
so  put them down by continual assertion of his riches; that the club, being
but human, was  delighted  to retort upon  the Major, by asking him, with  a
show of  great  concern,  whether  this  tremendous smash  had  been  at all
expected, and how his friend  Dombey bore it. To such questions,  the Major,
waxing very purple, would reply  that it was a bad world,  Sir,  altogether;
that Joey knew a thing or two, but had been done, Sir, done  like an infant;
that if you had foretold this, Sir, to J. Bagstock, when he went abroad with
Dombey  and was chasing that vagabond up and down France, J. Bagstock  would
have pooh-pooh'd you -  would have pooh- pooh'd you, Sir, by the  Lord! That
Joe had been deceived, Sir, taken in, hoodwinked, blindfolded, but was broad
awake again and staring; insomuch, Sir, that if Joe's father were to rise up
from  the grave  to-morrow, he  wouldn't  trust the old blade  with  a penny
piece, but would tell him that his son Josh was too old a soldier to be done
again,  Sir. That he  was a  suspicious,  crabbed, cranky,  used-up,  J.  B.
infidel, Sir; and that if it were consistent with the dignity of a rough and
tough  old  Major,  of the old school,  who  had  had  the  honour of  being
personally known to, and commended by, their late Royal Highnesses the Dukes
of Kent and York, to retire to a tub and  live in it, by Gad! Sir, he'd have
a tub in Pall Mall to-morrow, to show his contempt for mankind!'
     Of  all  this, and  many  variations  of the same tune, the Major would
deliver himself with so many apoplectic symptoms, such rollings of his head,
and  such  violent growls of  ill  usage  and resentment,  that  the younger
members  of the club surmised he  had invested money in his  friend Dombey's
House,  and lost it; though the older soldiers and deeper dogs, who knew Joe
better, wouldn't hear of such a thing. The unfortunate Native, expressing no
opinion, suffered dreadfully; not  merely in his moral feelings, which  were
regularly fusilladed by the Major every hour in the day, and riddled through
and through, but in his sensitiveness to bodily knocks and bumps, which  was
kept continually on the stretch. For  six entire weeks after the bankruptcy,
this miserable foreigner lived in a rainy season of boot-jacks and brushes.
     Mrs Chick had three ideas upon the subject of the terrible reverse. The
first was that she could not understand it. The second, that her brother had
not made an effort. The third, that if she had been invited to dinner on the
day of that first party, it never would have happened; and that she had said
so, at the time.
     Nobody's opinion stayed  the  misfortune,  lightened  it,  or  made  it
heavier. It was understood that the affairs of the House were to be wound up
as they best could be; that Mr Dombey freely resigned everything he had, and
asked for no favour from anyone. That any resumption of the business was out
of the question, as he  would listen to no friendly negotiation having  that
compromise  in  view;  that  he  had  relinquished  every  post  of trust or
distinction he had  held,  as a  man respected among  merchants; that he was
dying, according to some; that  he  was going  melancholy  mad, according to
others; that he was a broken man, according to all.
     The clerks dispersed after holding a little dinner  of condolence among
themselves, which  was enlivened by comic singing,  and went off  admirably.
Some took  places abroad, and some engaged  in  other Houses at  home;  some
looked up relations in the country,  for whom they suddenly  remembered they
had  a  particular  affection;  and  some advertised for  employment in  the
newspapers.  Mr Perch alone remained of all the  late establishment, sitting
on his bracket looking at the accountants, or starting off it, to propitiate
the head  accountant, who  was to get him into the Fire Office. The Counting
House soon got to be dirty and neglected.  The principal  slipper  and dogs'
collar seller, at the corner  of the court, would have doubted the propriety
of throwing up his forefinger to the brim of his hat, any more, if Mr Dombey
had  appeared there  now;  and the ticket porter, with  his hands  under his
white  apron,  moralised  good sound  morality  about  ambition,  which  (he
observed) was not, in his opinion, made to rhyme to perdition, for nothing.
     Mr  Morfin,  the  hazel-eyed  bachelor,  with  the  hair  and  whiskers
sprinkled with  grey, was perhaps  the only person within the  atmosphere of
the  House - its head, of course, excepted  - who  was heartily  and  deeply
affected by the disaster that had befallen it. He had treated Mr Dombey with
due respect and deference through many years, but he had never disguised his
natural character, or meanly truckled to him, or pampered his master passion
for   the  advancement   of  his  own  purposes.   He  had,   therefore,  no
self-disrespect to avenge; no long-tightened springs to release with a quick
recoil. He  worked early and late  to  unravel whatever  was complicated  or
difficult  in the  records  of the transactions of the House;  was always in
attendance to  explain  whatever required explanation;  sat in his  old room
sometimes  very late at  night, studying points by  his  mastery of which he
could  spare Mr Dombey  the pain of being personally  referred to;  and then
would go home to Islington, and  calm his mind  by producing the most dismal
and forlorn sounds out of his violoncello before going to bed.
     He was solacing himself with this  melodious grumbler one evening, and,
having  been much  dispirited by the proceedings  of  the day,  was scraping
consolation out of its deepest notes, when his landlady (who was fortunately
deaf, and had no other consciousness of these performances than a  sensation
of something rumbling in her bones) announced a lady.
     'In mourning,' she said.
     The  violoncello  stopped immediately; and the  performer, laying it on
the  sofa  with great tenderness and care, made a sign that the lady was  to
come in. He followed directly, and met Harriet Carker on the stair.
     'Alone!'  he said,  'and John  here this morning! Is there anything the
matter, my dear? But no,' he added, 'your face tells quite another story.'
     'I am afraid it is a selfish revelation that you see there, then,'  she
answered.
     'It is a  very pleasant one,' said he; 'and, if selfish, a novelty too,
worth seeing in you. But I don't believe that.'
     He had placed a chair for her by this time,  and sat down opposite; the
violoncello lying snugly on the sofa between them.
     'You will not be surprised at  my coming alone, or at John's not having
told you I was coming,' said Harriet;  'and  you will believe  that,  when I
tell you why I have come. May I do so now?'
     'You can do nothing better.'
     'You were not busy?'
     He pointed to the violoncello lying on the sofa, and said 'I have been,
all day. Here's my witness. I have been confiding all my cares to it. I wish
I had none but my own to tell.'
     'Is the House at an end?' said Harriet, earnestly.
     'Completely at an end.'
     'Will it never be resumed?'
     'Never.'
     The bright  expression of her face  was not  overshadowed  as  her lips
silently repeated  the  word.  He  seemed to observe this  with  some little
involuntary surprise: and said again:
     'Never.  You  remember  what  I  told  you.  It has  been,  all  along,
impossible to convince  him;  impossible  to  reason  with  him;  sometimes,
impossible even to approach him.  The worst has happened; and the  House has
fallen, never to be built up any more.'
     'And Mr Dombey, is he personally ruined?'
     'Ruined.'
     'Will he have no private fortune left? Nothing?'
     A certain eagerness in  her voice, and something that was almost joyful
in her look, seemed to surprise him  more and more;  to disappoint  him too,
and jar discordantly  against his own emotions. He drummed  with the fingers
of one hand  on  the table, looking wistfully at her, and shaking  his head,
said, after a pause:
     'The extent  of  Mr  Dombey's  resources  is  not accurately  within my
knowledge;  but though they  are doubtless very large,  his obligations  are
enormous. He  is a gentleman of  high honour and integrity. Any  man in  his
position could, and many a man in his position would, have saved himself, by
making  terms which would  have very  slightly, almost insensibly, increased
the losses of those who had had dealings with him, and left him a remnant to
live upon.  But he is resolved on payment to the last farthing of his means.
His own words  are, that they  will clear, or nearly clear,  the House,  and
that no  one can  lose much.  Ah, Miss  Harriet, it would  do  us no harm to
remember oftener than we do, that  vices are sometimes only virtues  carried
to excess! His pride shows well in this.'
     She  heard him with little or no  change in her  expression, and with a
divided attention that showed her to be busy with something in her own mind.
When he was silent, she asked him hurriedly:
     'Have you seen him lately?'
     'No one sees him. When this crisis of his affairs renders  it necessary
for him to  come out of his house, he comes out  for the occasion, and again
goes  home, and  shuts himself up, and will sea  no one. He has written me a
letter, acknowledging our past  connexion in  higher terms than it deserved,
and parting from me. I am delicate  of obtruding myself upon  him now, never
having had much intercourse with him in better times; but I have tried to do
so. I have written, gone there, entreated. Quite in vain.'
     He watched  her, as  in the hope  that  she  would testify some greater
concern than  she  had yet shown; and spoke  gravely and feelingly, as if to
impress her the more; but there was no change in her.
     'Well, well, Miss Harriet,' he  said, with a disappointed air, 'this is
not  to  the purpose.  You  have  not come here to hear this. Some other and
pleasanter theme is in your mind. Let it be in mine,  too, and we shall talk
upon more equal terms. Come!'
     'No,  it is the  same theme,' returned  Harriet, with frank  and  quick
surprise. 'Is it  not likely that it should  be? Is it not natural that John
and  I  should have been thinking and  speaking very much of late  of  these
great changes? Mr Dombey, whom he served so many years - you  know upon what
terms - reduced, as you describe; and we quite rich!'
     Good, true  face, as that face of hers was, and pleasant as it had been
to him, Mr Morfin, the hazel-eyed bachelor, since the first time he had ever
looked  upon it,  it pleased him less at that moment, lighted with a ray  of
exultation, than it had ever pleased him before.
     'I need not remind you,'  said Harriet, casting down  her eyes upon her
black dress,  'through what  means  our  circumstances changed. You have not
forgotten that our brother  James, upon that dreadful day,  left no will, no
relations but ourselves.'
     The face was pleasanter  to him now, though it was pale and melancholy,
than it had been a moment since. He seemed to breathe more cheerily.
     'You know,' she said, 'our history, the history of both my brothers, in
connexion with the unfortunate, unhappy gentleman, of whom  you have  spoken
so truly. You know how few our wants are - John's and mine - and what little
use we  have for  money, after the  life  we  have led together for so  many
years; and  now that  he  is earning an income that is ample for us, through
your kindness. You are not unprepared to hear what favour I have come to ask
of you?'
     'I hardly know. I was, a minute ago. Now, I think, I am not.'
     'Of my  dead brother I  say nothing. If  the dead know what we do - but
you understand  me.  Of my living brother I  could say much; but what need I
say more, than  that this act  of duty, in which  I have  come  to ask  your
indispensable assistance, is his own, and that  he  cannot  rest until it is
performed!'
     She raised  her eyes again;  and the  light of  exultation  in her face
began to appear beautiful, in the observant eyes that watched her.
     'Dear Sir,' she  went  on to say, 'it  must  be done very  quietly  and
secretly. Your experience and knowledge will point out a way of doing it. Mr
Dombey  may,  perhaps,  be  led  to believe  that  it  is  something  saved,
unexpectedly, from  the wreck  of his fortunes;  or that it  is  a voluntary
tribute to his honourable  and upright character,  from  some  of those with
whom he  has had great  dealings; or that  it is some old lost  debt repaid.
There must be many ways of  doing it.  I  know you will choose the best. The
favour I have  come to ask is, that you will do it for us in your  own kind,
generous, considerate manner. That you will never speak of it to John, whose
chief happiness in this  act of restitution  is  to do it secretly, unknown,
and  unapproved of:  that  only a  very small part of the inheritance may be
reserved to  us,  until  Mr Dombey shall have  possessed the interest of the
rest  for  the  remainder of  his  life;  that you  will  keep  our  secret,
faithfully  - but that I am sure you will; and that, from  this time, it may
seldom be whispered, even  between you and  me, but  may live in my thoughts
only  as a new reason for thankfulness to Heaven,  and  joy  and pride in my
brother.'
     Such a look of exultation there  may be on  Angels' faces  when the one
repentant  sinner enters Heaven,  among  ninety-nine  just men. It  was  not
dimmed or  tarnished by the joyful tears  that filled her eyes,  but was the
brighter for them.
     'My dear Harriet,' said Mr Morfin, after a silence, 'I was not prepared
for  this. Do I understand you that you  wish to make  your own part in  the
inheritance available for your good purpose, as well as John's?'
     'Oh, yes,' she returned 'When we have shared everything together for so
long a time, and have had no care, hope, or  purpose apart, could  I bear to
be excluded from my share in this? May I not urge a claim to be my brother's
partner and companion to the last?'
     'Heaven forbid that I should dispute it!' he replied.
     'We may rely on your friendly help?' she said. 'I knew we might!'
     'I should be  a worse man than, - than I hope I  am, or would willingly
believe myself,  if I  could  not give  you that assurance from my heart and
soul. You  may, implicitly. Upon my honour,  I will keep your secret. And if
it should be found that Mr Dombey is so reduced as I fear he will be, acting
on  a determination that there  seem to be no  means of influencing,  I will
assist  you to  accomplish the  design, on which  you  and John are  jointly
resolved.'
     She gave him her hand, and thanked him with a cordial, happy face.
     'Harriet,' he said, detaining it in his. 'To speak to  you of the worth
of any sacrifice that you can make now - above all, of any sacrifice of mere
money - would be idle and presumptuous.  To  put before  you  any appeal  to
reconsider your purpose or to set narrow limits to it, would be, I feel, not
less so. I have  no  right to mar the great end of a  great history,  by any
obtrusion of  my own weak self. I  have every right to bend my  head  before
what you confide to  me, satisfied that  it  comes from a higher and  better
source of inspiration than my poor worldly knowledge. I will say  only this:
I am  your  faithful  steward; and I  would  rather be so,  and  your chosen
friend, than I would be anybody in the world, except yourself.'
     She thanked him  again, cordially, and wished him good-night.  'Are you
going home?' he said. 'Let me go with you.'
     'Not to-night. I am  not going home now; I have  a visit to make alone.
Will you come to-morrow?'
     'Well,  well,'  said he,  'I'll come to-morrow. In  the meantime,  I'll
think  of this, and how  we can  best proceed. And perhaps I'll think of it,
dear Harriet, and - and - think of me a little in connexion with it.'
     He handed her down to a coach she  had  in waiting at the door;  and if
his landlady had  not been deaf,  she would have  heard him muttering as  he
went back upstairs, when the coach had driven off, that we were creatures of
habit, and it was a sorrowful habit to be an old bachelor.
     The violoncello lying  on the sofa between the two  chairs,  he took it
up, without putting away the vacant chair, and sat droning on it, and slowly
shaking his head at the vacant chair, for a long, long time. The  expression
he communicated to  the instrument at first, though monstrously pathetic and
bland, was nothing to the expression  he  communicated to his own  face, and
bestowed upon the empty chair: which  was so sincere, that he was obliged to
have recourse to Captain Cuttle's remedy more than once, and to rub his face
with  his sleeve. By degrees, however, the violoncello,  in unison with  his
own frame of  mind, glided melodiously into the Harmonious Blacksmith, which
he played  over and over again, until his ruddy and serene face gleamed like
true metal on  the anvil of a veritable blacksmith. In fine, the violoncello
and  the  empty  chair were the companions of his bachelorhood  until nearly
midnight; and when he took his supper, the violoncello set up  on end in the
sofa  corner,  big with  the  latent  harmony  of a whole  foundry  full  of
harmonious blacksmiths, seemed to  ogle the empty  chair  out of its crooked
eyes, with unutterable intelligence.
     When  Harriet left the house, the driver of  her hired  coach, taking a
course that  was evidently no new one  to him,  went in and out by bye-ways,
through  that part of  the suburbs,  until  he arrived at some  open ground,
where there were a few quiet little old  houses  standing among  gardens. At
the garden-gate of one of these he stopped, and Harriet alighted.
     Her gentle ringing at the bell was  responded  to by a dolorous-looking
woman,  of light complexion, with raised eyebrows, and head drooping on  one
side, who curtseyed at sight of her, and  conducted her across the garden to
the house.
     'How is your patient, nurse, to-night?' said Harriet.
     'In a poor way, Miss, I am afraid. Oh how  she do remind me, sometimes,
of my Uncle's Betsey Jane!' returned the woman of the light complexion, in a
sort of doleful rapture.
     'In what respect?' asked Harriet.
     'Miss, in all  respects,' replied the other, 'except that  she's  grown
up, and Betsey Jane, when at death's door, was but a child.'
     'But  you  have told  me she recovered,' observed  Harriet  mildly; 'so
there is the more reason for hope, Mrs Wickam.'
     'Ah, Miss, hope is  an  excellent thing for such  as has the spirits to
bear it!' said Mrs Wickam, shaking her head. 'My own spirits is not equal to
it, but I don't owe it any grudge. I envys them that is so blest!'
     'You should try to be more cheerful,' remarked Harriet.
     'Thank you,  Miss, I'm  sure,'  said  Mrs  Wickam grimly.  'If I was so
inclined,  the loneliness of  this  situation - you'll excuse my speaking so
free - would put it out  of my power, in four  and twenty hours; but I ain't
at all. I'd rather not.  The little spirits that  I ever had, I was bereaved
of at Brighton some few years ago, and I think I feel myself the  better for
it.'
     In truth, this was the very Mrs Wickam who had  superseded Mrs Richards
as the nurse of little Paul, and  who considered herself  to have gained the
loss  in question, under the roof of the amiable Pipchin. The excellent  and
thoughtful  old  system, hallowed  by long prescription,  which has  usually
picked out from the rest of mankind the most dreary and uncomfortable people
that  could  possibly be laid  hold  of, to  act  as  instructors  of youth,
finger-posts to the virtues, matrons, monitors, attendants on sick beds, and
the like,  had established Mrs Wickam in very good  business as a nurse, and
had led to her serious qualities being particularly commended by an admiring
and numerous connexion.
     Mrs Wickam, with  her  eyebrows elevated, and  her head  on  one  side,
lighted the  way  upstairs  to  a  clean, neat  chamber, opening  on another
chamber  dimly  lighted, where there was a bed.  In  the first  room, an old
woman sat mechanically staring  out at  the open window, on the darkness. In
the second, stretched  upon  the  bed, lay the  shadow of  a figure that had
spurned the  wind and  rain, one wintry night; hardly  to be recognised now,
but by the long black hair  that showed so very black against the colourless
face, and all the white things about it.
     Oh,  the  strong  eyes,  and  the weak frame! The eyes  that turned  so
eagerly  and brightly to the door when Harriet came in; the feeble head that
could not raise itself, and moved so slowly round upon its pillow!
     'Alice!' said the visitor's mild voice, 'am I late to-night?'
     'You always seem late, but are always early.'
     Harriet had sat down by the bedside now, and put her hand upon the thin
hand lying there.
     'You are better?'
     Mrs  Wickam, standing  at the  foot  of the  bed, like  a  disconsolate
spectre,  most  decidedly  and  forcibly  shook her  head to  negative  this
position.
     'It  matters very little!' said Alice, with a  faint smile. 'Better  or
worse to-day, is but a day's difference - perhaps not so much.'
     Mrs Wickam,  as  a  serious character,  expressed her  approval with  a
groan; and  having  made some cold dabs at  the bottom of the bedclothes, as
feeling  for  the patient's  feet  and expecting  to find  them stony;  went
clinking among the medicine bottles  on the table, as who should say, 'while
we are here, let us repeat the mixture as before.'
     'No,'  said  Alice,  whispering  to  her  visitor, 'evil  courses,  and
remorse, travel, want, and  weather, storm  within, and storm without,  have
worn my life away. It will not last much longer.
     She drew the hand up as she spoke, and laid her face against it.
     'I lie here, sometimes, thinking I should like to live until I  had had
a  little time to show you  how grateful I could be! It is  a  weakness, and
soon passes. Better for you as it is. Better for me!'
     How different  her hold upon the hand, from  what it had been when  she
took it by the fireside on the bleak winter evening! Scorn, rage,  defiance,
recklessness, look here! This is the end.
     Mrs Wickam having  clinked sufficiently among the bottles, now produced
the mixture. Mrs  Wickam looked hard at her patient in the act  of drinking,
screwed  her  mouth  up  tight,  her  eyebrows also,  and  shook  her  head,
expressing that tortures shouldn't make her  say it was a hopeless case. Mrs
Wickam then sprinkled a little cooling-stuff about the room, with the air of
a female grave-digger, who was  strewing ashes on ashes, dust on  dust - for
she was  a serious  character - and withdrew  to partake  of certain funeral
baked meats downstairs.
     'How long is it,' asked Alice, 'since I went to you and told you what I
had done, and when you were advised it was too late for anyone to follow?'
     'It is a year and more,' said Harriet.
     'A year and  more,'  said  Alice, thoughtfully  intent upon  her  face.
'Months upon months since you brought me here!'
     Harriet answered 'Yes.'
     'Brought me here, by force of gentleness and kindness. Me!' said Alice,
shrinking with her face behind her hand, 'and made me human by woman's looks
and words, and angel's deeds!'
     Harriet bending over her, composed and  soothed her. By and  bye, Alice
lying as before, with  the hand against  her face, asked to have  her mother
called.
     Harriet called to her more than once, but the old woman was so absorbed
looking  out at the open  window  on the darkness, that she did not hear. It
was not  until Harriet went to her and touched her,  that  she rose up,  and
came.
     'Mother,'  said  Alice, taking the hand again, and fixing  her lustrous
eyes  lovingly upon her visitor, while she merely addressed a motion  of her
finger to the old woman, 'tell her what you know.'
     'To-night, my deary?'
     'Ay, mother,' answered Alice, faintly and solemnly, 'to-night!'
     The old woman, whose wits  appeared disorderly  by  alarm, remorse,  or
grief,  came  creeping along the side of the bed,  opposite to that on which
Harriet  sat; and kneeling  down,  so as to  bring her  withered face upon a
level with the  coverlet, and stretching out her  hand, so as  to  touch her
daughter's arm, began:
     'My handsome gal - '
     Heaven, what a cry  was that,  with which she stopped there, gazing  at
the poor form lying on the bed!
     'Changed, long  ago, mother!  Withered, long ago,' said Alice,  without
looking at her. 'Don't grieve for that now.
     'My daughter,' faltered the old woman, 'my gal who'll  soon get better,
and shame 'em all with her good looks.'
     Alice  smiled mournfully  at Harriet,  and fondled  her hand  a  little
closer, but said nothing.
     'Who'll soon get  better, I say,' repeated the old woman, menacing  the
vacant air with her shrivelled fist, 'and who'll shame 'em all with her good
looks - she will. I say she will! she shall!' - as if she were in passionate
contention with some unseen opponent at the bedside, who contradicted her  -
'my  daughter has been turned away  from,  and cast out, but she could boast
relationship to proud folks too, if  she chose. Ah! To proud  folks! There's
relationship without your clergy and  your wedding rings - they may make it,
but they  can't  break  it  - and my daughter's well  related.  Show  me Mrs
Dombey, and I'll show you my Alice's first cousin.'
     Harriet glanced from the old woman to the lustrous eyes intent upon her
face, and derived corroboration from them.
     'What!' cried the old woman, her nodding  head  bridling with a ghastly
vanity. 'Though I am old and ugly now, - much older  by life  and habit than
years  though, - I was once as young as any.  Ah!  as pretty too, as many! I
was a fresh country  wench in my  time, darling,' stretching out her  arm to
Harriet,  across the  bed, 'and looked  it,  too. Down in  my  country,  Mrs
Dombey's father and his brother were the gayest gentlemen and the best-liked
that came a  visiting from London - they  have long been dead, though! Lord,
Lord, this long while! The brother, who was my Ally's father, longest of the
two.'
     She raised her head a little, and peered at her daughter's  face; as if
from the remembrance of her own youth, she  had flown  to the remembrance of
her child's. Then, suddenly, she laid her face down on the bed, and shut her
head up in her hands and arms.
     'They  were as  like,' said the old  woman, without  looking up, as you
could see  two brothers, so near an age - there wasn't much more than a year
between them, as I  recollect - and if you could have seen my gal, as I have
seen her once, side by side with the  other's daughter, you'd have seen, for
all the difference of dress and life, that they were like each other. Oh! is
the likeness gone, and is it my gal - only my gal - that's to change so!'
     'We shall all change, mother, in our turn,' said Alice.
     'Turn!' cried the old woman, 'but why not hers as soon as my gal's! The
mother  must have changed  - she  looked as old as  me, and full as wrinkled
through her paint - but she  was handsome. What have I  done, I, what have I
done worse than her, that only my gal  is to lie there fading!' With another
of those wild cries, she went running out into the room from which  she  had
come; but  immediately, in her uncertain  mood, returned, and creeping up to
Harriet, said:
     'That's what Alice bade me tell you, deary. That's all. I found it  out
when I  began  to  ask who  she was, and all about her, away in Warwickshire
there, one  summer-time. Such relations  was  no  good  to  me,  then.  They
wouldn't have owned me, and had nothing to give me. I should have asked 'em,
maybe, for a little money, afterwards, if it hadn't been for my Alice; she'd
a'most have killed me, if I had, I  think She was as proud as t'other in her
way,' said the old woman, touching the  face of  her daughter fearfully, and
withdrawing her hand, 'for all she's so quiet now; but she'll shame 'em with
her good looks yet. Ha, ha! She'll shame 'em, will my handsome daughter!'
     Her laugh,  as she retreated, was worse  than her  cry;  worse than the
burst of imbecile lamentation  in which it ended;  worse than the doting air
with which she sat down in her old seat, and stared out at the darkness.
     The  eyes of Alice  had all this time been fixed on Harriet, whose hand
she had never released. She said now:
     'I have felt, lying here, that I should like you to know this. It might
explain,  I have  thought,  something that used to help to  harden me. I had
heard so much, in  my wrongdoing, of  my neglected duty, that I took up with
the belief that duty had not been done to me, and that as the seed was sown,
the harvest  grew. I  somehow made it out that when ladies had bad homes and
mothers, they went wrong in their way, too; but  that  their  way was not so
foul  a one  as mine, and  they had need to bless God for it.'  That  is all
past. It is like a dream,  now, which I cannot quite remember or understand.
It  has been more and more  like  a dream, every day, since you began to sit
here, and to read to me. I only tell it you, as I can recollect it. Will you
read to me a little more?'
     Harriet was withdrawing her hand to  open the book, when Alice detained
it for a moment.
     'You  will  not forget my mother? I forgive her, if I have any cause. I
know that  she forgives me, and is  sorry in her heart. You  will not forget
her?'
     'Never, Alice!'
     'A moment yet. Lay your head so,  dear, that as you read  I may see the
words in your kind face.'
     Harriet complied and read - read  the eternal book  for all  the weary,
and the heavy-laden;  for all the wretched,  fallen,  and neglected  of this
earth  -  read  the blessed history, in which the blind lame palsied beggar,
the  criminal, the woman stained with shame, the  shunned of all  our dainty
clay, has each a portion, that no human pride,  indifference,  or sophistry,
through all the ages that this  world shall last,  can  take away, or by the
thousandth atom  of a grain reduce - read the ministry  of  Him who, through
the round of  human life, and all its hopes and griefs, from birth to death,
from infancy to age,  had sweet compassion for, and  interest in,  its every
scene and stage, its every suffering and sorrow.
     'I shall  come,' said  Harriet, when she shut the book, 'very early  in
the morning.'
     The  lustrous  eyes, yet fixed upon her face, closed for a moment, then
opened; and Alice kissed and blest her.
     The same eyes followed her to the door; and in their  light, and on the
tranquil face, there was a smile when it was closed.
     They never turned  away. She laid  her hand upon  her breast, murmuring
the  sacred name that  had been read  to her; and life passed from her face,
like light removed.
     Nothing  lay there,  any longer, but the ruin of  the  mortal  house on
which the rain had  beaten,  and  the black hair that had  fluttered  in the
wintry wind.


     Retribution

     Changes  have come again upon  the great house in the long dull street,
once the scene of  Florence's childhood  and loneliness. It is a great house
still, proof  against  wind  and weather, without breaches in  the roof,  or
shattered windows, or dilapidated walls; but it is a ruin none the less, and
the rats fly from it.
     Mr Towlinson and  company  are, at first, incredulous in respect of the
shapeless  rumours that they hear.  Cook says  our people's  credit ain't so
easy  shook as that comes to, thank God; and Mr Towlinson expects to hear it
reported next, that the Bank of England's a-going to break, or the jewels in
the  Tower  to be sold up. But, next come the  Gazette, and Mr Perch; and Mr
Perch brings Mrs  Perch  to  talk it  over  in  the kitchen, and to  spend a
pleasant evening.
     As soon as there  is no  doubt about it, Mr Towlinson's main anxiety is
that  the failure should be a  good  round one  - not  less than  a  hundred
thousand pound. Mr Perch don't think himself that  a  hundred thousand pound
will nearly cover  it. The women, led by Mrs Perch and Cook, often repeat 'a
hun-dred thou-sand pound!'  with awful satisfaction  - as  if  handling  the
words were like handling the money; and the housemaid, who has her eye on Mr
Towlinson, wishes she had only a hundredth part of the sum to  bestow on the
man of her choice. Mr Towlinson, still mindful of his old wrong, opines that
a foreigner would hardly know what to do with so much money, unless he spent
it on his whiskers; which bitter sarcasm causes the housemaid to withdraw in
tears.
     But not to remain  long absent; for  Cook,  who has  the  reputation of
being  extremely good-hearted,  says, whatever they do, let 'em stand by one
another now, Towlinson, for there's no telling how soon they may be divided.
They have been in that house (says Cook) through a funeral, a wedding, and a
running-away;  and let  it  not  be  said  that they  couldn't  agree  among
themselves at such a time as the present. Mrs Perch is immensely affected by
this moving address, and openly remarks that  Cook is an angel. Mr Towlinson
replies to Cook, far be it from him to stand in the way of that good feeling
which  he could wish to  see;  and adjourning in quest of the housemaid, and
presently  returning with  that young lady on his  arm,  informs the kitchen
that foreigners is only his fun, and that him and Anne have now resolved  to
take one another for better for worse, and to settle in Oxford Market in the
general  greengrocery and herb  and leech line,  where your  kind favours is
particular requested. This  announcement is received with  acclamation;  and
Mrs Perch, projecting her soul into futurity,  says, 'girls,' in Cook's ear,
in a solemn whisper.
     Misfortune in  the  family  without feasting, in these  lower  regions,
couldn't be. Therefore Cook tosses up a hot  dish or two for  supper, and Mr
Towlinson  compounds  a lobster salad to be devoted  to the  same hospitable
purpose. Even Mrs  Pipchin, agitated  by the occasion,  rings her bell,  and
sends down word that she requests to have that little bit of sweetbread that
was left, warmed up for her supper,  and sent to her on a tray with about  a
quarter of a tumbler-full of mulled sherry; for she feels poorly.
     There  is a little talk about Mr Dombey, but very little. It is chiefly
speculation  as to how long he has known that this was going to happen. Cook
says shrewdly,  'Oh a  long  time, bless  you! Take your  oath of that.' And
reference being made to Mr Perch, he confirms her view of the case. Somebody
wonders what  he'll  do,  and  whether  he'll go  out in any  situation.  Mr
Towlinson  thinks  not,  and hints  at  a  refuge in  one  of  them  genteel
almshouses of the better kind. 'Ah, where he'll have his little garden,  you
know,' says Cook  plaintively, 'and  bring  up  sweet  peas in the  spring.'
'Exactly so,' says Mr Towlinson, 'and be one of the Brethren of something or
another.' 'We are all  brethren,' says Mrs Perch,  in a pause of her  drink.
'Except the sisters,' says Mr Perch. 'How  are  the  mighty fallen!' remarks
Cook. 'Pride shall have a fall, and  it always was and will be so!' observes
the housemaid.
     It  is wonderful how good they feel,  in making these  reflections; and
what a Christian unanimity they are sensible of, in bearing the common shock
with  resignation. There is only one interruption to this excellent state of
mind,  which is occasioned  by a young kitchen-maid  of  inferior rank  - in
black  stockings  -  who,  having sat with  her mouth open for  a long time,
unexpectedly discharges  from it words  to this effect,  'Suppose  the wages
shouldn't be  paid!'  The  company sit  for a  moment  speechless; but  Cook
recovering first,  turns upon the young woman, and requests to know how  she
dares  insult  the  family,  whose  bread she  eats,  by  such  a  dishonest
supposition, and  whether  she thinks  that anybody,  with a scrap of honour
left, could deprive  poor servants of  their pittance? 'Because  if  that is
your religious feelings, Mary Daws,'  says Cook warmly, 'I don't know  where
you mean to go to.
     Mr  Towlinson   don't  know  either;  nor  anybody;   and   the   young
kitchen-maid, appearing not to  know  exactly, herself, and scouted  by  the
general voice, is covered with confusion, as with a garment.
     After a few days, strange people begin to  call  at  the  house, and to
make appointments with  one  another in  the dining-room, as if  they  lived
there. Especially,  there is  a  gentleman,  of a  Mosaic  Arabian  cast  of
countenance,  with  a   very   massive  watch-guard,  who  whistles  in  the
drawing-room, and, while he is waiting for  the other  gentleman, who always
has pen and ink in his  pocket, asks Mr Towlinson (by the easy name of  'Old
Cock,') if  he happens  to know  what  the  figure  of them crimson and gold
hangings might have been, when  new bought. The callers and appointments  in
the dining-room become more numerous every day, and every gentleman seems to
have pen and ink in his pocket, and to have some occasion to use it. At last
it is said  that  there is going to be a Sale; and  then more people arrive,
with  pen and  ink in  their pockets,  commanding a detachment  of  men with
carpet  caps,  who immediately begin  to pull up the  carpets, and knock the
furniture about,  and  to print off thousands of impressions of their  shoes
upon the hall and staircase.
     The  council downstairs are in full conclave all this time, and, having
nothing  to do, perform perfect feats of eating. At length, they are one day
summoned in a body to Mrs Pipchin's room, and  thus  addressed  by  the fair
Peruvian:
     'Your master's in difficulties,' says  Mrs  Pipchin, tartly. 'You  know
that, I suppose?'
     Mr Towlinson, as spokesman, admits a general knowledge of the fact.
     'And you're all on the look-out for yourselves, I warrant you, says Mrs
Pipchin, shaking her head at them.
     A shrill voice from the rear exclaims, 'No more than yourself!'
     'That's your opinion, Mrs  Impudence,  is it?' says the ireful Pipchin,
looking with a fiery eye over the intermediate heads.
     'Yes,  Mrs Pipchin, it  is,' replies  Cook,  advancing. 'And what then,
pray?'
     'Why,  then you  may go  as soon as  you like,'  says Mrs Pipchin. 'The
sooner the better; and I hope I shall never see your face again.'
     With this the doughty  Pipchin  produces a  canvas bag; and  tells  her
wages out to that day, and a month beyond it; and  clutches the money tight,
until a receipt for the same  is duly signed, to the last upstroke; when she
grudgingly  lets  it go.  This form of  proceeding Mrs Pipchin  repeats with
every member of the household, until all are paid.
     'Now those that choose, can go about their business,' says Mrs Pipchin,
'and those that choose can stay  here  on board wages for a week or  so, and
make themselves useful. Except,' says the inflammable Pipchin, 'that slut of
a cook, who'll go immediately.'
     'That,' says  Cook,  'she certainly  will!  I wish  you  good day,  Mrs
Pipchin, and  sincerely wish I could compliment you on the sweetness of your
appearance!'
     'Get along with you,' says Mrs Pipchin, stamping her foot.
     Cook sails off  with an  air of beneficent dignity, highly exasperating
to  Mrs  Pipchin, and is  shortly  joined  below stairs by the rest  of  the
confederation.
     Mr  Towlinson  then  says  that, in  the  first place,  he would beg to
propose a little snack of something to eat; and over that snack would desire
to offer a  suggestion which he thinks will  meet the position in which they
find themselves. The refreshment  being produced, and very heartily partaken
of, Mr Towlinson's suggestion is, in effect, that Cook is going, and that if
we are not true to ourselves, nobody will  be  true  to us. That  they  have
lived in that  house  a long  time,  and  exerted themselves very much to be
sociable together. (At this, Cook says, with  emotion, 'Hear, hear!' and Mrs
Perch, who is there again, and full to the throat, sheds tears.) And that he
thinks, at  the present time, the feeling ought to  be 'Go one, go all!' The
housemaid is much affected by  this generous sentiment,  and  warmly seconds
it.  Cook says  she feels  it's  right,  and only hopes it's not done  as  a
compliment  to her, but from a sense of duty. Mr Towlinson  replies, from  a
sense of duty; and that now he is  driven  to  express his opinions, he will
openly say, that he does not think it over-respectable to  remain in a house
where Sales  and  such-like are carrying forwards. The housemaid is  sure of
it;  and  relates,  in confirmation,  that a  strange man, in a  carpet cap,
offered, this  very  morning,  to  kiss  her  on the  stairs.  Hereupon,  Mr
Towlinson is starting from his chair, to seek and 'smash' the offender; when
he is laid  hold on by the ladies, who beseech  him to calm himself,  and to
reflect that  it is easier and wiser to leave the  scene of such indecencies
at once. Mrs Perch, presenting the  case  in  a new light, even  shows  that
delicacy towards Mr  Dombey, shut up in his  own rooms, imperatively demands
precipitate retreat. 'For what,' says the good woman, 'must his feelings be,
if he was to  come upon any of the poor servants that he once deceived  into
thinking him immensely rich!' Cook is so struck by this moral consideration,
that Mrs Perch improves it with several pious axioms, original and selected.
It  becomes  a  clear  case that  they  must all go. Boxes  are packed, cabs
fetched, and at dusk that evening there is not one member of the party left.
     The house stands, large and weather-proof, in the long dull street; but
it is a ruin, and the rats fly from it.
     The men in the carpet  caps go on tumbling the furniture about; and the
gentlemen  with the pens and  ink make out inventories  of it,  and sit upon
pieces of furniture never made to be sat upon, and eat bread and cheese from
the public-house on other pieces of furniture never made to be eaten on, and
seem to  have a  delight in appropriating precious articles to strange uses.
Chaotic  combinations of furniture  also take place. Mattresses and  bedding
appear  in the dining-room; the glass and  china get  into the conservatory;
the great dinner service is set out in heaps on the long divan in  the large
drawing-room; and the  stair-wires,  made  into fasces,  decorate the marble
chimneypieces. Finally, a rug, with a printed bill upon it, is hung out from
the balcony; and a similar appendage graces either side of the hall door.
     Then, all day long, there is a retinue of mouldy gigs  and chaise-carts
in the street; and herds of shabby vampires, Jew and Christian, over-run the
house,  sounding  the  plate-glass  minors  with  their  knuckles,  striking
discordant  octaves on the  Grand Piano,  drawing wet forefingers  over  the
pictures, breathing  on the blades of  the  best dinner-knives, punching the
squabs  of chairs and  sofas  with their dirty fists, touzling  the  feather
beds, opening  and shutting all the drawers, balancing the silver spoons and
forks,  looking  into  the very  threads  of  the  drapery  and  linen,  and
disparaging everything. There is not a  secret  place  in  the  whole house.
Fluffy and snuffy strangers stare  into  the kitchen-range as  curiously  as
into  the attic clothes-press. Stout men with napless  hats on,  look out of
the  bedroom windows,  and cut jokes  with  friends  in the  street.  Quiet,
calculating spirits  withdraw into the dressing-rooms with  catalogues,  and
make marginal notes  thereon, with stumps of pencils. Two brokers invade the
very fire-escape,  and take a panoramic survey of the neighbourhood from the
top  of the house. The swarm and  buzz, and  going  up and down, endure  for
days. The Capital Modern Household Furniture, &c., is on view.
     Then there  is a palisade of tables made in the best  drawing-room; and
on  the  capital,  french-polished,  extending, telescopic range  of Spanish
mahogany dining-tables  with turned  legs, the  pulpit of the Auctioneer  is
erected; and the herds of shabby vampires, Jew and  Christian, the strangers
fluffy and snuffy, and the stout men with the napless hats, congregate about
it and sit upon everything  within  reach, mantel-pieces included, and begin
to bid. Hot, humming, and dusty are the rooms all day; and - high above  the
heat,  hum,  and dust  - the head and  shoulders,  voice and  hammer, of the
Auctioneer, are  ever at  work. The men in the carpet caps get flustered and
vicious with tumbling the Lots about, and still the Lots  are going,  going,
gone; still  coming on. Sometimes there is joking and  a  general roar. This
lasts  all  day and  three  days  following. The  Capital  Modern  Household
Furniture, &c., is on sale.
     Then the mouldy gigs  and  chaise-carts reappear; and  with  them  come
spring-vans and waggons, and  an army of  porters with  knots. All day long,
the men with carpet caps are  screwing at screw-drivers and bed-winches,  or
staggering by the  dozen together on the  staircase under heavy burdens,  or
upheaving perfect rocks of Spanish mahogany, best rose-wood, or plate-glass,
into  the gigs and chaise-carts, vans and  waggons. All sorts of vehicles of
burden are in attendance, from a tilted waggon to a wheelbarrow. Poor Paul's
little bedstead  is carried off in a donkey-tandem. For nearly a whole week,
the Capital Modern Household Furniture, & c., is in course of removal.
     At last  it is all gone. Nothing is left about the  house but scattered
leaves  of catalogues, littered scraps of straw  and hay,  and a battery  of
pewter pots  behind the  hall-door. The  men with the carpet-caps gather  up
their screw-drivers and bed-winches into  bags, shoulder them, and walk off.
One of  the pen-and-ink gentlemen goes over the house as a  last  attention;
sticking  up bills in  the windows  respecting  the lease of this  desirable
family mansion, and shutting the shutters. At length he follows the men with
the carpet caps.  None of the invaders remain.  The house is a ruin, and the
rats fly from it.
     Mrs  Pipchin's apartments,  together with  those locked  rooms  on  the
ground-floor where the window-blinds  are drawn down close, have been spared
the general  devastation. Mrs Pipchin has remained  austere and stony during
the proceedings, in her own room; or has occasionally looked in  at the sale
to  see  what  the  goods are  fetching, and to  bid for one particular easy
chair. Mrs Pipchin has been the highest  bidder for the easy chair, and sits
upon her property when Mrs Chick comes to see her.
     'How is my brother, Mrs Pipchin?' says Mrs Chick.
     'I don't  know any more than the deuce,'  says  Mrs Pipchin.  'He never
does me the honour to speak to me. He has his meat and drink put in the next
room to  his own; and what  he  takes,  he comes  out and takes when there's
nobody there.  It's no use asking me. I know no more about  him than the man
in the south who burnt his mouth by eating cold plum porridge."
     This the acrimonious Pipchin says with a flounce.
     'But good  gracious me!' cries  Mrs Chick blandly. 'How long is this to
last! If my  brother will not make an effort, Mrs Pipchin, what is to become
of  him?  I  am  sure  I  should have thought  he had  seen  enough  of  the
consequences of  not  making an effort, by  this time, to be warned  against
that fatal error.'
     'Hoity toity!'  says Mrs  Pipchin,  rubbing her  nose. 'There's a great
fuss,  I think,  about  it.  It ain't so  wonderful a case. People  have had
misfortunes before now, and been obliged to  part with their furniture.  I'm
sure I have!'
     'My  brother,'  pursues  Mrs Chick  profoundly, 'is so  peculiar  -  so
strange a man. He is the most peculiar man I ever  saw. Would anyone believe
that when  he received news of the marriage and emigration of that unnatural
child - it's a comfort to me, now, to remember that I always  said there was
something  extraordinary  about  that child: but  nobody  minds me  -  would
anybody  believe, I say,  that he should then turn round upon me and say  he
had supposed,  from my  manner,  that  she  had come  to my  house?  Why, my
gracious! And would anybody  believe that when I merely say to him, "Paul, I
may be  very  foolish, and I have no doubt I am, but I cannot understand how
your affairs can  have got into this state," he should  actually fly  at me,
and request that I will come to see  him no  more until he asks me!  Why, my
goodness!'
     'Ah'!' says  Mrs Pipchin. 'It's a  pity he hadn't a little more  to  do
with mines. They'd have tried his temper for him.'
     'And what,'  resumes  Mrs  Chick, quite  regardless  of  Mrs  Pipchin's
observations, 'is it to  end in? That's what  I want to know. What  does  my
brother mean to do?  He must  do something. It's of no use remaining shut up
in his own rooms. Business won't come to him. No. He must go to it. Then why
don't  he go? He knows where to go, I suppose, having been a man of business
all his life. Very good. Then why not go there?'
     Mrs  Chick,  after forging  this powerful  chain  of reasoning, remains
silent for a minute to admire it.
     'Besides,' says the discreet lady, with an argumentative air, 'who ever
heard of  such  obstinacy as  his staying  shut up  here  through  all these
dreadful disagreeables? It's  not as if there was no place for him to go to.
Of course he could have come to our house. He knows  he is at home  there, I
suppose? Mr Chick has perfectly bored about it, and I said with my own lips,
"Why surely, Paul, you don't imagine that because your affairs have got into
this state, you are  the less at  home to such near relatives  as ourselves?
You don't imagine that we  are like the rest  of the world?" But no; here he
stays all through, and  here he is. Why, good gracious me, suppose the house
was  to be let!  What would he do then?  He couldn't remain here then. If he
attempted to  do so, there would be an ejectment, an action for Doe, and all
sorts of things; and then he must go. Then why not go at first instead of at
last? And that brings me back to  what I said  just now, and I naturally ask
what is to be the end of it?'
     'I know what's to be the end of it, as far  as I am concerned,' replies
Mrs  Pipchin,  'and that's enough for me. I'm  going to take myself off in a
jiffy.'
     'In a which, Mrs Pipchin,' says Mrs Chick.
     'In a jiffy,' retorts Mrs Pipchin sharply.
     'Ah, well! really I can't blame you, Mrs Pipchin,' says Mrs Chick, with
frankness.
     'It would  be  pretty much  the same to me, if  you could,' replies the
sardonic  Pipchin. 'At  any rate I'm going. I  can't stop here. I  should be
dead  in a week. I had  to cook my own pork chop yesterday, and I'm not used
to it.  My constitution will be giving way next. Besides, I  had a very fair
connexion at Brighton when I came here  - little Pankey's  folks alone  were
worth a  good eighty pounds a-year  to  me - and  I can't afford to throw it
away. I've written to my niece, and she expects me by this time.'
     'Have you spoken to my brother?' inquires Mrs Chick
     'Oh,  yes, it's very  easy  to say speak to him,' retorts  Mrs Pipchin.
'How is it done? I called out  to him yesterday, that I was no use here, and
that he had  better let me send  for Mrs  Richards. He  grunted something or
other that meant yes, and I sent. Grunt indeed! If he had  been  Mr Pipchin,
he'd have had some reason to grunt. Yah! I've no patience with it!'
     Here this exemplary female, who  has pumped up so  much  fortitude  and
virtue from the  depths  of  the Peruvian  mines, rises  from her  cushioned
property to see Mrs Chick to the door. Mrs Chick,  deploring to the last the
peculiar character of her brother, noiselessly retires,  much occupied  with
her own sagacity and clearness of head.
     In the  dusk  of the evening Mr Toodle, being  off duty,  arrives  with
Polly and a box,  and leaves them, with  a sounding kiss, in the hall of the
empty  house,  the retired character of which affects  Mr  Toodle's  spirits
strongly.
     'I tell  you  what, Polly,  me  dear,'  says Mr Toodle,  'being  now an
ingine-driver, and well to do in the world, I shouldn't allow of your coming
here, to be made dull-like, if it warn't for favours past. But favours past,
Polly,  is never to  be forgot. To them which is in adversity, besides, your
face is a  cord'l. So let's have another kiss  on  it, my dear. You  wish no
better than to do a right act,  I know; and my views is, that it's right and
dutiful to do this. Good-night, Polly!'
     Mrs  Pipchin by  this  time  looms dark in her black  bombazeen skirts,
black  bonnet, and  shawl; and has her  personal property packed up; and has
her chair (late a favourite chair of Mr Dombey's and the dead bargain of the
sale) ready  near the street door; and is only waiting for a  fly-van, going
to-night  to  Brighton on private service,  which  is to call  for  her,  by
private contract, and convey her home.
     Presently it  comes. Mrs Pipchin's wardrobe being handed in and  stowed
away, Mrs Pipchin's chair  is next  handed  in,  and  placed in a convenient
corner among certain trusses of hay;  it being  the intention of the amiable
woman  to  occupy the chair during her  journey. Mrs Pipchin herself is next
handed in, and grimly takes her seat. There  is  a snaky gleam  in her  hard
grey eye, as of anticipated rounds  of  buttered toast, relays of hot chops,
worryings and quellings  of  young children, sharp snappings  at poor Berry,
and all the other delights of her Ogress's castle. Mrs Pipchin almost laughs
as the fly-van drives off, and she composes her black bombazeen  skirts, and
settles herself among the cushions of her easy chair.
     The house is such a ruin that the rats have fled, and there is  not one
left.
     But  Polly,  though  alone in  the deserted mansion  - for  there is no
companionship in the shut-up rooms in which its late master hides his head -
is not  alone  long.  It  is  night;  and  she  is sitting  at  work in  the
housekeeper's room,  trying to forget what a lonely house it is, and what  a
history  belongs  to it; when there is a  knock  at the hall door,  as  loud
sounding as any knock can be, striking into such an empty place. Opening it,
she  returns across the echoing hall, accompanied by  a  female figure in  a
close black bonnet. It is Miss Tox, and Miss Tox's eyes are red.
     'Oh, Polly,' says Miss Tox, 'when I looked in to  have a little  lesson
with  the children  just now, I got the message that you left for me; and as
soon as I could recover my spirits at all, I came on  after you. Is there no
one here but you?'
     'Ah! not a soul,' says Polly.
     'Have you seen him?' whispers Miss Tox.
     'Bless  you,' returns Polly, 'no; he has not been seen this many a day.
They tell me he never leaves his room.'
     'Is he said to be ill?' inquires Miss Tox.
     'No, Ma'am, not that I know of,' returns Polly, 'except in his mind. He
must be very bad there, poor gentleman!'
     Miss Tox's  sympathy is  such  that she can scarcely  speak.  She is no
chicken, but she  has not grown tough with age  and  celibacy. Her  heart is
very tender, her  compassion very genuine, her homage very real. Beneath the
locket with the fishy eye in it, Miss Tox bears better qualities than many a
less whimsical outside; such qualities as  will  outlive, by many courses of
the  sun, the  best outsides and brightest husks that fall in the harvest of
the great reaper.
     It is long before  Miss Tox goes away,  and before Polly, with a candle
flaring on the  blank stairs, looks after her, for company, down the street,
and feels unwilling to go back into the dreary house, and  jar its emptiness
with the heavy fastenings of  the door, and glide away to bed. But  all this
Polly  does;  and in  the morning sets in  one of those darkened rooms  such
matters as she has been advised to prepare, and then retires and enters them
no more until next morning at the same hour. There are bells there, but they
never ring; and though she can sometimes hear  a footfall  going to and fro,
it never comes out.
     Miss Tox  returns early in  the day. It  then begins  to be Miss  Tox's
occupation to  prepare  little dainties - or what are  such to her -  to  be
carried into these rooms next morning. She derives so much satisfaction from
the pursuit, that  she  enters  on it  regularly from that time;  and brings
daily  in her little basket, various  choice  condiments  selected from  the
scanty  stores of the  deceased  owner of the powdered head and pigtail. She
likewise brings, in sheets  of curl-paper, morsels of cold meats, tongues of
sheep, halves  of fowls, for her own dinner;  and sharing  these  collations
with Polly, passes the greater part of her time in the ruined house that the
rats have fled from: hiding, in a fright at every sound, stealing in and out
like a  criminal;  only desiring  to  be true to the  fallen  object of  her
admiration,  unknown to him, unknown  to all the world  but  one poor simple
woman.
     The Major knows it; but no one is the wiser for that, though  the Major
is  much  the merrier. The Major,  in  a fit of curiosity,  has  charged the
Native  to watch the house sometimes, and find  out what  becomes of Dombey.
The Native has reported Miss Tox's fidelity, and the Major has nearly choked
himself dead with  laughter.  He  is permanently bluer from  that hour,  and
constantly wheezes to himself,  his  lobster eyes starting  out of his head,
'Damme, Sir, the woman's a born idiot!'
     And the ruined man. How does he pass the hours, alone?
     'Let him remember it in that room, years to come!' He did  remember it.
It was heavy on his mind now; heavier than all the rest.
     'Let him remember it in  that  room, years 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 room, years to come!'
     He  did remember it. In the miserable night he thought of  it;  in  the
dreary day, the  wretched dawn, the ghostly, memory-haunted twilight. He did
remember it. In agony, in sorrow, in remorse, in despair! 'Papa! Papa! Speak
to  me,  dear  Papa!' He heard the words  again, and saw the face. He saw it
fall upon the trembling  hands, and  heard  the  one prolonged  low  cry  go
upward.
     He was fallen, never to be  raised up any  more. For  the night of  his
worldly ruin there  was no to-morrow's sun;  for the  stain of his  domestic
shame there was no purification; nothing, thank Heaven, could bring his dead
child back to  life. But that  which he might have  made so different in all
the Past -  which might have made the  Past itself so different, though this
he hardly thought of now - that which was his own work, that which  he could
so easily have wrought into a blessing, and had set himself  so steadily for
years to form into a curse: that was the sharp grief of his soul.
     Oh! He did remember it! The rain that fell upon the roof, the wind that
mourned  outside  the door  that  night,  had  had  foreknowledge  in  their
melancholy sound. He knew, now, what he had done. He  knew, now, that he had
called  down  that  upon his head, which bowed  it  lower than the  heaviest
stroke of fortune. He knew, now, what  it was  to  be rejected and deserted;
now,  when every  loving blossom he had withered in his  innocent daughter's
heart was snowing down in ashes on him.
     He  thought of her, as she  had  been that night when he  and his bride
came home. He thought of her as she had  been, in all the home-events of the
abandoned house. He  thought,  now,  that of  all around him, she alone  had
never changed. His boy had faded  into dust,  his proud wife had sunk into a
polluted  creature,  his flatterer and friend had been transformed  into the
worst of villains, his riches had melted away, the very walls that sheltered
him  looked on him as  a stranger; she alone had turned the same mild gentle
look upon him always. Yes, to the latest and the last. She had never changed
to him - nor had he ever changed to her - and she was lost.
     As, one  by one, they fell  away before his  mind - his baby- hope, his
wife, his friend,  his fortune - oh how the mist, through which he  had seen
her, cleared, and showed him  her true self! Oh, how  much better than  this
that he had loved her as he had his boy, and lost her as he had his boy, and
laid them in their early grave together!
     In his  pride  -  for  he was  proud yet - he let the world go from him
freely.  As it fell away, he shook  it  off. Whether he imagined its face as
expressing pity for him, or indifference to him, he shunned it alike. It was
in the same degree to be avoided, in either aspect. He  had no  idea  of any
one companion in his misery, but the one  he had driven away. What he  would
have said to her,  or what  consolation submitted  to  receive from her,  he
never pictured to  himself. But he always knew  she would have been  true to
him, if he had suffered her. He  always knew she would have loved him better
now, than at any other time; he was as certain that it was in her nature, as
he  was that  there was a  sky  above  him; and he  sat thinking so, in  his
loneliness,  from hour to hour.  Day  after  day uttered this speech;  night
after night showed him this knowledge.
     It began, beyond all doubt (however slow it advanced for some time), in
the receipt of her young husband's  letter, and the certainty  that  she was
gone. And yet - so proud he  was in his ruin, or so reminiscent of  her only
as something that might have been his, but was lost beyond redemption - that
if  he  could have heard her  voice in  an adjoining room, he would not have
gone to her.  If he could have seen her in the street, and she had  done  no
more than  look at him as she had been used to look, he would have passed on
with his old  cold unforgiving face, and not addressed  her,  or relaxed it,
though his heart should  have broken soon  afterwards. However turbulent his
thoughts, or harsh his anger had been, at first, concerning her marriage, or
her husband,  that was all past now. He  chiefly thought of what  might have
been,  and what was not.  What was, was all summed up in this: that  she was
lost, and he bowed down with sorrow and remorse.
     And now he felt that he had had two children born to him in that house,
and  that  between  him and  the  bare  wide empty walls  there  was  a tie,
mournful, but hard to rend asunder, connected with a double childhood, and a
double loss. He  had thought to leave  the house - knowing he must  go,  not
knowing whither - upon  the evening of  the day on which this  feeling first
struck root in his breast; but he resolved to stay another night, and in the
night to ramble through the rooms once more.
     He came out of his  solitude when it was the dead of  night, and with a
candle  in  his hand went softly up  the stairs. Of all the footmarks there,
making  them as common  as the common street, there was not one, he thought,
but had  seemed at the time to set itself upon  his  brain while he had kept
close, listening. He looked at their number, and their hurry, and contention
- foot treading foot out, and upward track and downward jostling one another
-  and  thought, with  absolute dread  and  wonder,  how much he  must  have
suffered during that trial, and what a changed man  he  had  cause to be. He
thought,  besides, oh  was there,  somewhere in the  world, a light footstep
that might have worn out in a moment half those  marks! - and bent his head,
and wept as he went up.
     He almost saw it, going  on before.  He stopped, looking up towards the
skylight; and  a figure, childish  itself, but carrying a child, and singing
as it went,  seemed  to be there again. Anon, it was the same figure, alone,
stopping for an instant, with suspended breath;  the bright hair  clustering
loosely round its tearful face; and looking back at him.
     He wandered through the rooms: lately so luxurious;  now  so  bare  and
dismal and so changed, apparently, even  in  their shape and size. The press
of footsteps  was as thick here; and the same consideration of the suffering
he had  had, perplexed  and terrified  him. He began to fear that  all  this
intricacy in his brain  would  drive him  mad; and that his thoughts already
lost  coherence as the footprints  did, and were  pieced on to  one another,
with the same trackless involutions, and varieties of indistinct shapes.
     He did not  so much as know in which of these rooms she had lived, when
she  was  alone. He  was glad  to leave them,  and  go wandering higher  up.
Abundance of associations  were  here, connected  with  his false  wife, his
false friend and servant, his false grounds of pride; but he put them all by
now, and only recalled miserably, weakly, fondly, his two children.
     Everywhere, the  footsteps!  They had had no respect for  the  old room
high up, where the little  bed  had been; he could hardly find a clear space
there,  to  throw  himself down, on the floor, against the wall, poor broken
man, and let his tears flow  as they would. He  had shed so many tears here,
long ago, that he was less ashamed of his weakness in this place than in any
other  - perhaps, with  that consciousness, had made excuses to himself  for
coming here.  Here,  with stooping shoulders,  and  his chin dropped on  his
breast,  he  had come. Here,  thrown upon the bare  boards, in  the  dead of
night, he wept, alone - a  proud man, even  then; who, if  a kind hand could
have  been  stretched out,  or a  kind face could have looked in, would have
risen up, and turned away, and gone down to his cell.
     When the day broke he was shut  up  in his rooms again. He had meant to
go  away  to-day, but clung  to this tie  in the house as  the last and only
thing  left to  him.  He would go  to-morrow.  To-morrow  came. He would  go
to-morrow.  Every night, within the  knowledge of no human creature, he came
forth, and wandered through the despoiled house like a ghost. Many a morning
when the  day  broke, his altered face, drooping behind  the closed blind in
his window,  imperfectly  transparent  to the light as yet,  pondered on the
loss of his two children. It was one child no more. He reunited  them in his
thoughts, and they were never asunder. Oh, that he could have united them in
his past love, and  in  death, and that  one had not been so much worse than
dead!
     Strong  mental agitation and  disturbance was no novelty to  him,  even
before his late sufferings. It never  is,  to obstinate and  sullen natures;
for they struggle hard to be such. Ground,  long undermined, will often fall
down  in a moment; what was undermined here in so  many ways,  weakened, and
crumbled, little by little, more and more, as the hand moved on the dial.
     At last he began to think he need not go at all.  He might yet give  up
what his creditors had  spared him (that  they had  not spared him more, was
his own  act), and only  sever the tie  between him and the ruined house, by
severing that other link -
     It  was then that his footfall  was audible  in the late  housekeeper's
room,  as he walked to  and fro; but not audible in  its true meaning, or it
would have had an appalling sound.
     The world was very busy and restless about him. He became aware of that
again. It was  whispering and babbling. It  was never quiet.  This,  and the
intricacy and complication of the footsteps, harassed  him to death. Objects
began to take a bleared and russet colour in his eyes. Dombey and Son was no
more - his children no more. This must be thought of, well, to-morrow.
     He thought of it to-morrow; and sitting thinking in  his chair, saw  in
the glass, from time to time, this picture:
     A spectral, haggard,  wasted likeness of  himself, brooded  and brooded
over the empty fireplace. Now it lifted up its head, examining the lines and
hollows in its face; now hung it down again, and brooded afresh. Now it rose
and  walked about;  now  passed into  the  next  room,  and came  back  with
something from the dressing-table in  its breast. Now, it was looking at the
bottom of the door, and thinking.
     Hush! what? It was thinking that if blood were to trickle that way, and
to leak out  into the hall, it must be a long  time  going so far. It  would
move so stealthily and slowly, creeping on,  with  here a lazy little  pool,
and there a start, and then another little  pool, that a desperately wounded
man could only be discovered through its  means, either dead or dying.  When
it had  thought of this a long while, it got up again, and walked to and fro
with its hand in its breast. He glanced at it occasionally, very curious  to
watch its motions, and he marked how wicked and murderous that hand looked.
     Now it was thinking again! What was it thinking?
     Whether they would tread in the blood when  it crept so  far, and carry
it about  the  house among those many  prints of feet, or even out into  the
street.
     It sat down,  with  its eyes  upon the empty fireplace, and as  it lost
itself  in thought there shone into the room a gleam of light; a ray of sun.
It  was quite unmindful, and sat thinking. Suddenly it rose, with a terrible
face,  and that guilty  hand  grasping what was in its  breast.  Then it was
arrested by  a cry - a wild, loud, piercing, loving, rapturous  cry - and he
only saw his own reflection in the glass, and at his knees, his daughter!
     Yes. His  daughter!  Look  at her! Look  here! Down  upon  the  ground,
clinging to him, calling to him, folding her hands, praying to him.
     'Papa!  Dearest Papa!  Pardon me, forgive me! I have come back  to  ask
forgiveness on my knees. I never can be happy more, without it!'
     Unchanged still.  Of all the world, unchanged. Raising the same face to
his, as on that miserable night. Asking his forgiveness!
     'Dear Papa, oh don't look strangely on me! I never  meant to leave you.
I never thought of it, before or afterwards.  I was frightened when  I  went
away, and could not think.  Papa, dear, I am  changed. I am penitent. I know
my fault. I know my  duty  better now. Papa, don't cast  me off, or  I shall
die!'
     He tottered  to his chair. He felt her draw his arms about her neck; he
felt her put her own  round his; he felt her kisses on his face; he felt her
wet cheek laid against his own; he felt - oh, how deeply! -  all that he had
done.
     Upon  the  breast that he had bruised, against  the  heart that  he had
almost  broken,  she  laid  his face, now covered with his hands, and  said,
sobbing:
     'Papa, love, I am a mother. I have a child who will soon call Walter by
the name by which I call  you. When it was born, and when  I knew how much I
loved  it, I knew what I had done in leaving you. Forgive me, dear Papa!  oh
say God bless me, and my little child!'
     He  would have said it, if he could. He would have raised his hands and
besought her for pardon, but she caught  them in her own, and put them down,
hurriedly.
     'My little  child was  born  at sea, Papa I prayed to God  (and  so did
Walter for me) to spare me, that I might come home. The moment I could land,
I came back to you.  Never let us be parted any more, Papa. Never let us  be
parted any more!'
     His head, now grey, was  encircled by her arm; and he  groaned to think
that never, never, had it rested so before.
     'You  will come home with me, Papa,  and see my  baby. A boy, Papa. His
name is Paul. I think - I hope - he's like - '
     Her tears stopped her.
     'Dear Papa, for the sake of my child, for the  sake of the name we have
given him, for my sake, pardon Walter. He is so kind and  tender to me. I am
so happy with him. It was not his fault that we were married. It was mine. I
loved him so much.'
     She clung closer to him, more endearing and more earnest.
     'He is the darling of my heart, Papa I would  die for him. He will love
and honour you as  I will. We will teach our little child to love and honour
you; and we will tell him, when he can  understand, that  you  had a  son of
that  name once, and that he died,  and  you were very sorry; but that he is
gone to Heaven,  where we  all  hope to  see him  when  our time for resting
comes. Kiss me, Papa, as a promise  that you will  be reconciled to Walter -
to my dearest husband - to the father of the  little child who taught me  to
come back, Papa Who taught me to come back!'
     As she clung closer to him, in another burst of tears, he kissed her on
her lips, and, lifting up his eyes, said, 'Oh my God, forgive me, for I need
it very much!'
     With that he dropped his head again, lamenting over and  caressing her,
and  there  was  not a  sound in all the house for a long,  long time;  they
remaining  clasped in one another's arms, in the glorious sunshine that  had
crept in with Florence.
     He  dressed  himself for  going  out, with  a  docile submission to her
entreaty; and walking with a feeble gait, and looking  back, with a tremble,
at the room in which he had been so long shut up, and where he had seen  the
picture  in  the glass, passed out with  her into the hall. Florence, hardly
glancing round her, lest she should remind him freshly of their last parting
- for their  feet  were  on the very stones where he had  struck her  in his
madness - and keeping close to him, with her eyes upon his face, and his arm
about  her, led him out to a coach that was waiting at the door, and carried
him away.
     Then, Miss Tox and Polly came  out  of  their  concealment, and exulted
tearfully. And  then they packed his clothes, and books,  and so forth, with
great  care; and consigned  them  in due course  to certain persons sent  by
Florence, in the  evening, to fetch  them.  And then they took a last cup of
tea in the lonely house.
     'And so  Dombey  and  Son, as I observed upon a  certain sad occasion,'
said Miss Tox,  winding up a  host of recollections, 'is indeed a  daughter,
Polly, after all.'
     'And a good one!' exclaimed Polly.
     'You are right,' said  Miss Tox; 'and it's a credit to you, Polly, that
you were always her friend when she was a little child.  You were her friend
long before  I was,  Polly,' said Miss Tox;  'and you're  a  good  creature.
Robin!'
     Miss  Tox addressed herself to a  bullet-headed young man, who appeared
to be in but  indifferent  circumstances, and in  depressed spirits, and who
was sitting in  a remote corner. Rising, he disclosed to  view  the form and
features of the Grinder.
     'Robin,'  said Miss  Tox, 'I have  just observed to your mother, as you
may have heard, that she is a good creature.
     'And so she is, Miss,' quoth the Grinder, with some feeling.
     'Very well, Robin,' said Miss Tox, 'I  am glad to hear you say so. Now,
Robin,  as I am going  to  give  you a trial, at your urgent request,  as my
domestic, with a  view  to your restoration to respectability, I  will  take
this impressive occasion of remarking that I hope you will never forget that
you have, and have always had, a good mother, and that you will endeavour so
to conduct yourself as to be a comfort to her.'
     'Upon my soul I will, Miss,' returned the Grinder. 'I have come through
a  good deal, and my intentions is now as straightfor'ard, Miss, as a cove's
- '
     'I must get you to break yourself  of that word, Robin, if you Please,'
interposed Miss Tox, politely.
     'If you please, Miss, as a chap's - '
     'Thankee, Robin, no,' returned Miss Tox, 'I should prefer individual.'
     'As a indiwiddle's,' said the Grinder.
     'Much  better,'  remarked  Miss  Tox,  complacently;  'infinitely  more
expressive!'
     ' - can be,' pursued Rob. 'If I hadn't been and got made  a Grinder on,
Miss and Mother, which was a most unfortunate circumstance for a  young co -
indiwiddle.'
     'Very good indeed,' observed Miss Tox, approvingly.
     ' - and if I hadn't  been led away by birds, and then fallen into a bad
service,' said the Grinder, 'I hope I might have done better. But it's never
too late for a - '
     'Indi - ' suggested Miss Tox.
     ' - widdle,' said the Grinder, 'to mend; and I hope to mend, Miss, with
your kind trial; and wishing, Mother,  my love to father, and  brothers  and
sisters, and saying of it.'
     'I am very glad indeed to hear it,' observed Miss Tox. 'Will you take a
little bread and butter, and a cup of tea, before we go, Robin?'
     'Thankee, Miss,' returned the Grinder; who immediately began to use his
own personal grinders in a most remarkable manner, as if he had been on very
short allowance for a considerable period.
     Miss Tox, being, in good time, bonneted and shawled, and Polly too, Rob
hugged his  mother,  and  followed  his new mistress  away;  so much to  the
hopeful admiration of Polly, that  something in her eyes made luminous rings
round the gas-lamps as she looked  after him. Polly then put out her  light,
locked  the house-door, delivered  the  key at an agent's hard by, and  went
home as fast as  she  could go; rejoicing  in  the shrill  delight  that her
unexpected arrival would  occasion  there.  The great house, dumb as to  all
that had  been  suffered  in it,  and  the changes  it  had witnessed, stood
frowning like a dark mute on the street;  baulking any nearer inquiries with
the staring announcement that the lease of this desirable Family Mansion was
to be disposed of.


     Chiefly Matrimonial

     The  grand  half-yearly festival holden by  Doctor and Mrs  Blimber, on
which occasion they requested  the pleasure of  the  company  of every young
gentleman pursuing  his studies in that genteel  establishment, at  an early
party, when the  hour was half-past seven o'clock,  and when the object  was
quadrilles, had duly taken place, about this time; and  the young gentlemen,
with  no unbecoming demonstrations of levity,  had betaken themselves,  in a
state of scholastic repletion, to their own homes.  Mr Skettles had repaired
abroad, permanently to  grace the  establishment  of  his  father Sir Barnet
Skettles,  whose popular manners had obtained him  a diplomatic appointment,
the honours  of which were discharged by  himself and Lady  Skettles, to the
satisfaction  even  of their  own  countrymen  and countrywomen:  which  was
considered almost miraculous. Mr Tozer, now a young man of lofty stature, in
Wellington boots,  was so extremely full of  antiquity as to be  nearly on a
par with a genuine ancient Roman in his knowledge of English: a triumph that
affected his good parents with the tenderest emotions, and caused the father
and mother of  Mr Briggs (whose learning,  like ill-arranged luggage, was so
tightly  packed  that he couldn't get at  anything he wanted) to  hide their
diminished heads. The fruit laboriously gathered  from the tree of knowledge
by this  latter  young  gentleman,  in  fact,  had been subjected to so much
pressure, that it had become  a kind of intellectual Norfolk Biffin, and had
nothing of its original  form or flavour remaining.  Master Bitherstone now,
on  whom the  forcing  system had  the happier  and  not  uncommon effect of
leaving no  impression whatever,  when the forcing apparatus ceased to work,
was in  a much more comfortable plight; and  being then on  shipboard, bound
for Bengal, found himself forgetting, with  such admirable rapidity, that it
was  doubtful whether his declensions of noun-substantives would hold out to
the end of the voyage.
     When  Doctor Blimber, in pursuance of the usual course, would have said
to  the  young gentlemen, on  the morning of the party, 'Gentlemen,  we will
resume our studies on the twenty-fifth of  next month,' he departed from the
usual course,  and  said, 'Gentlemen, when our friend Cincinnatus retired to
his  farm,  he  did  not present to  the senate any Roman  who he sought  to
nominate as his successor.' But there is a Roman here,' said Doctor Blimber,
laying  his hand on the shoulder  of Mr  Feeder, B.A.,  adolescens  imprimis
gravis et doctus, gentlemen, whom I, a retiring Cincinnatus, wish to present
to my little senate, as their future Dictator. Gentlemen, we will resume our
studies on the twenty-fifth of  next month, under the auspices of Mr Feeder,
B.A.'  At  this  (which  Doctor  Blimber had previously called  upon all the
parents, and urbanely explained), the young gentlemen cheered; and Mr Tozer,
on behalf  of  the  rest,  instantly  presented  the  Doctor  with a  silver
inkstand, in  a  speech containing very little  of  the  mother-tongue,  but
fifteen quotations from the Latin, and seven from the Greek, which moved the
younger of the young gentlemen to discontent and envy: they  remarking, 'Oh,
ah. It was all very well for old  Tozer, but they didn't subscribe money for
old Tozer to show off with, they supposed; did they? What business was it of
old Tozer's  more than anybody else's? It wasn't his inkstand. Why  couldn't
he leave the boys' property alone?' and murmuring other expressions of their
dissatisfaction,  which seemed to find a greater relief  in calling him  old
Tozer, than in any other available vent.
     Not a word had been said to the young gentlemen, nor a hint dropped, of
anything like a contemplated marriage between  Mr Feeder, B.A., and the fair
Cornelia Blimber.  Doctor  Blimber, especially, seemed to take pains to look
as if nothing would  surprise him  more; but it was  perfectly well known to
all the young gentlemen nevertheless, and when they departed for the society
of their relations and friends, they took leave of Mr Feeder with awe.
     Mr Feeder's most  romantic  visions  were  fulfilled.  The  Doctor  had
determined to paint the house outside, and put it in thorough repair; and to
give up the business,  and to  give up  Cornelia. The painting and repairing
began upon the very day of the young  gentlemen's departure, and now behold!
the wedding morning was come, and Cornelia, in a new pair of spectacles, was
waiting to be led to the hymeneal altar.
     The  Doctor with his learned legs, and  Mrs Blimber in  a lilac bonnet,
and Mr Feeder, B.A.,  with his long  knuckles and his  bristly head of hair,
and Mr  Feeder's  brother, the  Reverend Alfred Feeder,  M.A.,  who  was  to
perform  the  ceremony, were all assembled in the drawing-room, and Cornelia
with her orange-flowers  and bridesmaids had just  come down, and looked, as
of  old,  a little squeezed in appearance, but very charming,  when the door
opened,  and the  weak-eyed  young man, in a  loud voice, made the following
proclamation:
     'MR AND MRS TOOTS!'
     Upon which  there entered Mr  Toots, grown extremely stout, and  on his
arm  a  lady very handsomely and becomingly  dressed, with very bright black
eyes. 'Mrs Blimber,' said Mr Toots, 'allow me to present my wife.'
     Mrs  Blimber was delighted  to  receive her. Mrs  Blimber was a  little
condescending, but extremely kind.
     'And as you've known me for a long time, you know,' said Mr Toots, 'let
me assure you that she is one of the most remarkable women that ever lived.'
     'My dear!' remonstrated Mrs Toots.
     'Upon my word and honour she is,' said Mr Toots. 'I - I assure you, Mrs
Blimber, she's a most extraordinary woman.'
     Mrs Toots  laughed merrily,  and Mrs Blimber led her  to  Cornelia.  Mr
Toots having paid his respects  in that direction and having saluted his old
preceptor, who said, in allusion to his conjugal state, 'Well, Toots,  well,
Toots!  So you are  one of  us, are  you, Toots?' -  retired with Mr Feeder,
B.A., into a window.
     Mr Feeder, B.A., being  in great  spirits, made a spar at Mr Toots, and
tapped him skilfully with the back of his hand on the breastbone.
     'Well, old  Buck!' said  Mr  Feeder  with a laugh. 'Well!  Here we are!
Taken in and done for. Eh?'
     'Feeder,' returned  Mr Toots. 'I give  you joy. If you're as -  as-  as
perfectly blissful in  a  matrimonial life, as  I  am  myself,  you'll  have
nothing to desire.'
     'I don't forget my old friends, you  see,' said Mr Feeder. 'I ask em to
my wedding, Toots.'
     'Feeder,'  replied Mr Toots  gravely, 'the  fact  is,  that  there were
several  circumstances which prevented me from communicating with you  until
after my marriage  had been  solemnised. In the  first  place, I had  made a
perfect Brute of myself to you, on  the subject of  Miss Dombey; and I  felt
that if you were asked to  any wedding  of mine, you  would naturally expect
that it was with Miss Dombey, which involved explanations, that upon my word
and  honour, at  that crisis, would have knocked me  completely over. In the
second place, our wedding was strictly private; there  being nobody  present
but one friend of  myself and Mrs Toots's, who  is  a Captain  in - I  don't
exactly  know in what,' said Mr Toots, 'but it's of no consequence. I  hope,
Feeder, that in writing  a  statement of what had occurred  before Mrs Toots
and myself went abroad upon our foreign tour, I fully discharged the offices
of friendship.'
     'Toots, my boy,' said Mr Feeder, shaking his hands, 'I was joking.'
     'And  now, Feeder,' said Mr Toots,  'I should be glad to know what  you
think of my union.'
     'Capital!' returned Mr Feeder.
     'You think it's capital, do you, Feeder?'said Mr  Toots solemnly. 'Then
how capital  must it be to Me! For you can  never know what an extraordinary
woman that is.'
     Mr  Feeder  was willing to take it for  granted. But Mr Toots shook his
head, and wouldn't hear of that being possible.
     'You see,' said  Mr Toots, 'what I wanted in a wife was - in short, was
sense. Money, Feeder, I had. Sense I - I had not, particularly.'
     Mr Feeder murmured, 'Oh, yes, you had, Toots!' But Mr Toots said:
     'No, Feeder,  I had not.  Why should I  disguise it?  I had not. I knew
that  sense was  There,'  said Mr Toots, stretching out his hand towards his
wife, 'in perfect heaps. I had no relation to object or be offended,  on the
score of station; for I had  no relation. I have never had anybody belonging
to me but my guardian, and him, Feeder, I have always considered as a Pirate
and a Corsair. Therefore, you know it  was not likely,' said Mr Toots, 'that
I should take his opinion.'
     'No,' said Mr Feeder.
     'Accordingly,' resumed Mr Toots, 'I acted on my own. Bright was the day
on  which I did so! Feeder! Nobody but myself can tell what  the capacity of
that woman's  mind is.  If ever the Rights of Women,  and all that  kind  of
thing, are properly attended to, it will be through her powerful intellect -
Susan, my dear!' said Mr Toots, looking abruptly out of the windows 'pray do
not exert yourself!'
     'My dear,' said Mrs Toots, 'I was only talking.'
     'But, my love,' said Mr Toots, 'pray  do not exert yourself. You really
must be careful. Do  not, my dear  Susan,  exert yourself.  She's  so easily
excited,' said Mr  Toots,  apart to Mrs  Blimber, 'and then she forgets  the
medical man altogether.'
     Mrs Blimber was impressing on Mrs Toots  the necessity of caution, when
Mr Feeder, B.A., offered her his arm, and led her down to the carriages that
were waiting  to  go to church. Doctor Blimber escorted Mrs Toots. Mr  Toots
escorted the  fair bride, around  whose  lambent spectacles two gauzy little
bridesmaids fluttered like  moths. Mr Feeder's  brother,  Mr  Alfred Feeder,
M.A., had already gone on, in advance, to assume his official functions.
     The ceremony was  performed in  an admirable manner. Cornelia, with her
crisp little curls, 'went in,' as the Chicken might  have  said, with  great
composure; and  Doctor Blimber gave her away,  like a man who had quite made
up his mind to it. The gauzy little bridesmaids appeared to suffer most. Mrs
Blimber was affected, but gently so; and told the Reverend Mr Alfred Feeder,
M.A., on the way  home,  that if  she  could only  have  seen  Cicero in his
retirement at Tusculum, she would not have had a wish, now, ungratified.
     There was a breakfast afterwards, limited  to the same small party;  at
which the spirits of Mr Feeder,  B.A., were tremendous,  and so communicated
themselves to Mrs Toots that  Mr Toots  was  several times heard to observe,
across the table, 'My dear Susan, don't exert yourself!' The best of it was,
that Mr Toots felt it incunbent on him to make  a speech; and  in spite of a
whole code  of telegraphic dissuasions  from Mrs Toots, appeared on his legs
for the first time in his life.
     'I really,' said Mr  Toots,  'in this house, where whatever was done to
me in the way of  - of  any mental  confusion  sometimes  - which is  of  no
consequence and I impute to nobody - I was always treated like one of Doctor
Blimber's family, and had a desk to myself for a considerable period - can -
not - allow - my friend Feeder to be - '
     Mrs Toots suggested 'married.'
     'It  may  not  be  inappropriate   to  the   occasion,   or  altogether
uninteresting,' said  Mr Toots with a delighted face,  'to  observe  that my
wife  is a most extraordinary  woman,  and would  do  this  much better than
myself - allow my friend Feeder to be married - especially to - '
     Mrs Toots suggested 'to Miss Blimber.'
     'To Mrs Feeder, my love!' said Mr  Toots,  in a subdued tone of private
discussion: "'whom God hath joined,"  you  know, "let no man"  -  don't  you
know?  I cannot  allow my friend Feeder  to be  married  - especially to Mrs
Feeder - without proposing their - their  - Toasts; and may,' said Mr Toots,
fixing  his eyes on his wife, as if  for inspiration in a high flight,  'may
the  torch of Hymen be the beacon of joy, and may  the flowers we  have this
day strewed in their path, be the - the banishers of- of gloom!'
     Doctor  Blimber, who had a taste for  metaphor,  was pleased with this,
and said, 'Very good, Toots! Very well said, indeed, Toots!'  and nodded his
head and patted his hands. Mr Feeder made in reply, a comic speech chequered
with sentiment. Mr Alfred Feeder, M.A,  was afterwards  very happy on Doctor
and Mrs  Blimber; Mr Feeder, B.A.,  scarcely  less  so, on the  gauzy little
bridesmaids.  Doctor  Blimber  then, in  a  sonorous voice, delivered  a few
thoughts in  the pastoral style,  relative to the rushes among which  it was
the  intention of himself and Mrs Blimber  to dwell, and  the bee that would
hum  around  their  cot. Shortly  after which, as  the  Doctor's  eyes  were
twinkling in  a  remarkable manner, and his son-in-law had  already observed
that time  was made for slaves, and had inquired whether Mrs Toots sang, the
discreet  Mrs Blimber dissolved the  sitting, and  sent Cornelia away,  very
cool and comfortable, in a post-chaise, with the man of her heart
     Mr  and Mrs Toots withdrew  to the Bedford  (Mrs  Toots  had been there
before in  old times,  under her maiden  name of Nipper),  and there found a
letter, which it took Mr Toots such an enormous time to read, that Mrs Toots
was frightened.
     'My dear Susan,' said Mr Toots, 'fright is worse than exertion. Pray be
calm!'
     'Who is it from?' asked Mrs Toots.
     'Why, my love,' said Mr Toots, 'it's from Captain Gills.  Do not excite
yourself. Walters and Miss Dombey are expected home!'
     'My dear,' said Mrs Toots, raising herself quickly  from the sofa, very
pale, 'don't try to deceive me, for it's  no  use, they're come home - I see
it plainly in your face!'
     'She's  a most extraordinary woman!' exclaimed  Mr Toots,  in rapturous
admiration.  'You're  perfectly right, my love,  they  have  come home. Miss
Dombey has seen her father, and they are reconciled!'
     'Reconciled!' cried Mrs Toots, clapping her hands.
     'My dear,' said Mr Toots; 'pray  do not exert yourself. Do remember the
medical man! Captain Gills says - at least he don't say, but I imagine, from
what I can make out, he means - that Miss Dombey has brought her unfortunate
father  away  from his old house,  to one where she and Walters  are living;
that he is lying very ill there - supposed to be dying; and that she attends
upon him night and day.'
     Mrs Toots began to cry quite bitterly.
     'My  dearest Susan,' replied Mr  Toots, 'do, do,  if you  possibly can,
remember  the medical man! If  you  can't, it's of  no consequence -  but do
endeavour to!'
     His wife,  with  her  old  manner suddenly  restored,  so  pathetically
entreated him to take her to her precious pet, her little  mistress, her own
darling, and the like, that Mr Toots, whose  sympathy and admiration were of
the strongest kind, consented from his very heart of hearts; and they agreed
to  depart immediately,  and present  themselves  in answer to the Captain's
letter.
     Now some hidden  sympathies of things,  or  some coincidences, had that
day brought  the Captain  himself (toward  whom Mr and  Mrs  Toots were soon
journeying) into the flowery train of wedlock; not as a principal, but as an
accessory. It happened accidentally, and thus:
     The Captain,  having seen Florence and her baby for a  moment,  to  his
unbounded content, and having had a long talk with Walter, turned  out for a
walk; feeling  it necessary to have some solitary meditation on  the changes
of human affairs, and to shake his glazed hat profoundly over the fall of Mr
Dombey,  for whom  the generosity and simplicity of his nature were awakened
in a lively manner. The  Captain would have  been very  low, indeed,  on the
unhappy  gentleman's account,  but for  the recollection of the baby;  which
afforded  him such  intense satisfaction whenever it  arose, that he laughed
aloud as he went  along the street, and, indeed, more than once, in a sudden
impulse of  joy,  threw up his glazed hat and  caught  it again; much to the
amazement  of the  spectators. The  rapid alternations of light and shade to
which these two conflicting subjects of reflection exposed the Captain, were
so very  trying  to his spirits, that he  felt a  long walk necessary to his
composure; and  as there  is a  great  deal in  the influence of  harmonious
associations,  he chose, for the scene of this walk, his  old neighbourhood,
down   among  the  mast,  oar,  and  block   makers,   ship-biscuit  bakers,
coal-whippers,  pitch-kettles,  sailors,  canals, docks, swing-bridges,  and
other soothing objects.
     These peaceful scenes,  and particularly the region of  Limehouse  Hole
and thereabouts, were so influential in calming the Captain, that  he walked
on with restored tranquillity, and was, in fact, regaling himself, under his
breath, with  the ballad of Lovely  Peg,  when, on turning a corner,  he was
suddenly transfixed and rendered speechless by a  triumphant procession that
he beheld advancing towards him.
     This  awful demonstration  was  headed  by  that  determined woman  Mrs
MacStinger,  who, preserving a  countenance of  inexorable  resolution,  and
wearing conspicuously attached  to her obdurate bosom a stupendous watch and
appendages,  which  the Captain  recognised  at  a glance as the property of
Bunsby,  conducted under her arm no other  than that  sagacious mariner; he,
with  the distraught and melancholy visage of a captive borne into a foreign
land, meekly  resigning himself to her will.  Behind them appeared the young
MacStingers, in a body, exulting. Behind  them, M~  two ladies of a terrible
and steadfast  aspect, leading between them a short gentleman in a tall hat,
who likewise exulted. In the wake, appeared Bunsby's boy, bearing umbrellas.
The  whole were  in  good  marching  order;  and  a  dreadful smartness that
pervaded  the  party would  have  sufficiently  announced,  if  the intrepid
countenances  of the  ladies had been  wanting, that it was  a procession of
sacrifice, and that the victim was Bunsby.
     The first impulse of the Captain was to run away. This also appeared to
be the  first impulse of Bunsby, hopeless as its execution must have proved.
But a cry of recognition proceeding from the party, and Alexander MacStinger
running up to the Captain with open arms, the Captain struck.
     'Well, Cap'en Cuttle!' said Mrs MacStinger. 'This is  indeed a meeting!
I bear no malice  now,  Cap'en Cuttle - you needn't fear that I'm a going to
cast any reflections. I hope to go to the altar in another spirit.' Here Mrs
MacStinger paused,  and drawing herself up,  and inflating her  bosom with a
long breath, said, in allusion to the victim, 'My 'usband, Cap'en Cuttle!'
     The  abject Bunsby  looked neither to the right nor to the left, nor at
his  bride, nor  at his  friend, but straight  before  him  at nothing.  The
Captain  putting out his hand,  Bunsby put out  his;  but,  in answer to the
Captain's greeting, spake no word.
     'Cap'en Cuttle,' said Mrs MacStinger, 'if  you would  wish  to heal  up
past animosities,  and  to  see  the last of your friend, my 'usband,  as  a
single person, we should be 'appy of your  company to chapel. Here is a lady
here,' said Mrs MacStinger, turning  round to the more intrepid of the  two,
'my bridesmaid, that will be glad of your protection, Cap'en Cuttle.'
     The short gentleman in the tall hat, who it appeared was the husband of
the  other  lady,  and who evidently  exulted  at  the reduction of a fellow
creature to his own condition, gave place at this,  and resigned the lady to
Captain Cuttle.  The lady immediately seized him, and, observing  that there
was no time to lose, gave the word, in a strong voice, to advance.
     The Captain's  concern for his  friend, not unmingled, at  first,  with
some concern for himself - for a shadowy terror that he might be  married by
violence, possessed  him,  until  his knowledge of the service  came to  his
relief, and remembering  the legal obligation of saying, 'I will,'  he  felt
himself  personally safe so  long as  he  resolved,  if asked any  question,
distinctly to  reply I won't' - threw  him into  a profuse perspiration; and
rendered him, for a time, insensible to the movements of the  procession, of
which  he  now  formed  a  feature, and  to  the  conversation  of his  fair
companion. But as he became less agitated, he learnt from this lady that she
was the widow of a Mr Bokum, who had held an employment in the Custom House;
that she was the dearest friend  of Mrs  MacStinger,  whom  she considered a
pattern  for her sex; that she had often heard of the Captain, and now hoped
he had repented of  his past life; that she  trusted Mr  Bunsby  knew what a
blessing he  had gained,  but that she feared men seldom did know  what such
blessings were, until they had lost them; with more to the same purpose.
     All  this time, the Captain could not but  observe that Mrs  Bokum kept
her  eyes steadily on the bridegroom,  and  that whenever they came  near  a
court or other narrow turning which appeared favourable for flight, she  was
on  the alert to cut him off if he attempted escape. The other lady, too, as
well as her husband, the short gentleman with the tall  hat, were plainly on
guard, according to a preconcerted plan; and the wretched man was so secured
by  Mrs MacStinger,  that any  effort  at  self-preservation  by flight  was
rendered  futile. This,  indeed,  was apparent to  the  mere  populace,  who
expressed their perception of the fact by jeers and  cries; to all of which,
the  dread  MacStinger  was inflexibly  indifferent,  while  Bunsby  himself
appeared in a state of unconsciousness.
     The Captain made many attempts to accost  the philosopher, if only in a
monosyllable or a signal; but always failed, in consequence of the vigilance
of  the  guard, and  the  difficulty,  at  all  times peculiar  to  Bunsby's
constitution,  of having his attention aroused  by  any outward and  visible
sign whatever. Thus  they approached the chapel, a neat whitewashed edifice,
recently engaged  by the Reverend Melchisedech Howler, who had consented, on
very urgent solicitation, to give the world another  two years of existence,
but had informed his followers that, then, it must positively go.
     While  the Reverend  Melchisedech  was  offering  up  some  extemporary
orisons,  the  Captain found an  opportunity of growling in the bridegroom's
ear:
     'What cheer, my lad, what cheer?'
     To  which  Bunsby  replied,  with  a  forgetfulness   of  the  Reverend
Melchisedech,  which  nothing but  his  desperate  circumstances could  have
excused:
     'D-----d bad,'
     'Jack Bunsby,' whispered the Captain, 'do you do this here, of your own
free will?'
     Mr Bunsby answered 'No.'
     'Why  do  you   do  it,  then,  my  lad?'  inquired  the  Captain,  not
unnaturally.
     Bunsby,  still  looking,   and   always  looking  with   an   immovable
countenance, at the opposite side of the world, made no reply.
     'Why not  sheer off?' said the Captain.  'Eh?' whispered Bunsby, with a
momentary gleam of hope. 'Sheer off,' said the Captain.
     'Where's the good?' retorted the forlorn sage. 'She'd capter me agen.
     'Try!' replied the  Captain. 'Cheer  up!  Come! Now's  your time. Sheer
off, Jack Bunsby!'
     Jack  Bunsby,  however, instead  of profiting by the advice,  said in a
doleful whisper:
     'It all  began in that  there chest o' yourn. Why did I ever conwoy her
into port that night?'
     'My lad,'  faltered  the Captain, 'I thought as you had  come over her;
not as she had come over you. A man as has got such opinions as you have!'
     Mr Bunsby merely uttered a suppressed groan.
     'Come!' said the Captain, nudging him with his elbow, 'now's your time!
Sheer off!  I'll cover your retreat.  The time's a flying. Bunsby!  It's for
liberty. Will you once?'
     Bunsby was immovable. 'Bunsby!' whispered the Captain, 'will  you twice
?' Bunsby wouldn't twice.
     'Bunsby!'  urged the Captain,  'it's for liberty; will you three times?
Now or never!'
     Bunsby didn't then,  and didn't  ever;  for Mrs MacStinger  immediately
afterwards married him.
     One of the most frightful circumstances of the ceremony to the Captain,
was the  deadly interest  exhibited  therein by Juliana  MacStinger; and the
fatal  concentration of her  faculties,  with which  that  promising  child,
already the image of her parent, observed the whole proceedings. The Captain
saw in this a succession of man-traps stretching out infinitely; a series of
ages  of  oppression  and coercion,  through  which the  seafaring  line was
doomed. It was a more memorable sight than the unflinching steadiness of Mrs
Bokum and the other lady, the exultation of  the short gentleman in the tall
hat,  or  even  the   fell  inflexibility  of  Mrs  MacStinger.  The  Master
MacStingers understood  little of what was  going on, and  cared less; being
chiefly  engaged,  during  the  ceremony,  in  treading   on  one  another's
half-boots; but the contrast afforded by those wretched infants only set off
and  adorned  the precocious woman  in  Juliana. Another year  or  two,  the
Captain thought, and to lodge where that child was, would be destruction.
     The  ceremony was  concluded by a general spring of the young family on
Mr Bunsby, whom they hailed by the endearing  name of  father, and from whom
they solicited  half-pence. These gushes of affection over,  the  procession
was about to issue forth again, when it was delayed for some little time  by
an  unexpected  transport on  the part of  Alexander  MacStinger.  That dear
child, it seemed, connecting a  chapel with tombstones,  when it was entered
for any purpose apart  from  the ordinary  religious exercises, could not be
persuaded but that his mother was now to be  decently interred, and  lost to
him  for  ever.  In  the  anguish  of  this  conviction,  he  screamed  with
astonishing force,  and turned  black in the  face.  However touching  these
marks  of a  tender  disposition  were  to  his  mother, it  was not in  the
character of  that remarkable woman  to permit  her recognition  of them  to
degenerate into weakness. Therefore,  after  vainly endeavouring to convince
his reason by shakes,  pokes, bawlings-out,  and similar applications to his
head,  she  led  him  into  the air,  and  tried another  method;  which was
manifested  to the marriage  party  by a quick succession  of sharp  sounds,
resembling applause, and subsequently, by their seeing  Alexander in contact
with the  coolest  paving-stone  in  the court, greatly flushed,  and loudly
lamenting.
     The procession being then in a  condition to form itself once more, and
repair to Brig Place, where a  marriage feast  was in readiness, returned as
it  had  come;  not  without  the  receipt,  by  Bunsby,  of  many  humorous
congratulations  from  the populace on his recently-acquired  happiness. The
Captain accompanied it  as far  as the house-door, but, being made uneasy by
the  gentler manner of Mrs Bokum, who, now  that she was  relieved  from her
engrossing duty - for  the watchfulness and alacrity  of the ladies sensibly
diminished when the bridegroom  was safely  married - had greater leisure to
show an  interest in  his behalf,  there  left it  and the  captive; faintly
pleading an  appointment, and promising to return presently. The Captain had
another cause for  uneasiness, in remorsefully reflecting  that he had  been
the  first means of Bunsby's entrapment, though  certainly without intending
it, and through his unbounded faith in the resources of that philosopher.
     To  go back to old Sol Gills at the wooden Midshipman's,  and not first
go round to ask how Mr Dombey was - albeit the house where he lay was out of
London,  and away on  the borders of  a fresh heath  - was  quite out of the
Captain's course. So  he  got  a  lift when  he was tired, and  made out the
journey gaily.
     The blinds were pulled down, and  the house  so quiet, that the Captain
was  almost afraid  to knock; but listening at the door, he heard low voices
within, very near it, and, knocking  softly,  was admitted by  Mr  Toots. Mr
Toots  and his  wife had,  in fact, just arrived there; having been  at  the
Midshipman's to seek him, and having there obtained the address.
     They were not  so  recently arrived,  but that Mrs Toots had caught the
baby from somebody, taken it  in  her arms,  and  sat down  on  the  stairs,
hugging  and fondling it. Florence was stooping down beside her; and no  one
could have said which Mrs Toots was hugging and fondling most, the mother or
the child, or which was the tenderer, Florence of Mrs Toots, or Mrs Toots of
her, or both of the baby; it was such a little group of love and agitation.
     'And is your Pa very ill, my darling dear Miss Floy?' asked Susan.
     'He  is very, very ill,' said Florence. 'But, Susan, dear, you must not
speak to me  as you used to speak. And what's this?' said Florence, touching
her clothes,  in amazement. 'Your old dress, dear? Your old cap, curls,  and
all?'
     Susan burst into tears, and showered kisses on the little hand that had
touched her so wonderingly.
     'My dear Miss Dombey,' said Mr Toots, stepping forward, 'I'll  explain.
She's the most extraordinary woman. There are not many to equal her! She has
always said - she  said before we  were married, and has said to this  day -
that whenever you came home, she'd come to you in no dress but the dress she
used to serve you in, for fear she might  seem strange to you, and you might
like  her less. I admire the dress myself,' said Mr Toots, 'of all things. I
adore her in it! My dear Miss Dombey, she'll be your maid again, your nurse,
all that  she  ever was,  and more. There's no change in her. But, Susan, my
dear,' said Mr Toots, who had spoken with great feeling and high admiration,
'all I ask is, that  you'll remember the medical man, and not exert yourself
too much!'


     Relenting

     Florence had need of help. Her  father's need of  it was sore, and made
the  aid  of her old  friend invaluable. Death stood at his pillow. A shade,
already,  of what  he had been, shattered in  mind,  and perilously  sick in
body, he laid his weary head down on the bed  his daughter's  hands prepared
for him, and had never raised it since.
     She  was always  with  him.  He  knew her, generally;  though,  in  the
wandering of his brain, he  often confused the circumstances under  which he
spoke to her. Thus he would address her, sometimes, as if his boy were newly
dead; and  would  tell  her,  that although  he  had  said  nothing  of  her
ministering at the little bedside, yet he had seen it - he had  seen it; and
then would hide  his  face and sob, and put out his worn hand. Sometimes  he
would  ask  her for  herself.  'Where is Florence?'  'I am here, Papa,  I am
here.' 'I don't know  her!' he would cry. 'We have been parted so long, that
I don't  know her!' and then a  staring dread would he  upon him,  until she
could soothe his perturbation;  and recall the tears she tried  so hard,  at
other times, to dry.
     He rambled through the scenes of his old pursuits - through many  where
Florence lost  him as  she listened  - sometimes for  hours. He would repeat
that childish question,  'What  is money?' and ponder on it, and think about
it, and reason with himself, more or less connectedly, for a good answer; as
if it had never  been proposed to him until that moment. He would go on with
a musing repetition of the title of his  old firm twenty thousand times, and
at every one  of them, would turn his head upon  his  pillow. He would count
his children -  one - two - stop, and  go back,  and begin again in the same
way.
     But this was when his mind was in its most distracted state. In all the
other phases of its illness,  and in those to which it was most constant, it
always turned  on Florence. What he would  oftenest do  was  this: he  would
recall that night he had so recently remembered, the night on which she came
down  to his room, and would  imagine that his heart smote him,  and that he
went out  after her, and up the stairs to  seek her. Then, confounding  that
time with the later days of  the many footsteps, he would be amazed at their
number, and begin to count them as he followed her. Here, of a sudden, was a
bloody  footstep  going on among the others; and after it there began to be,
at intervals,  doors standing open,  through which certain terrible pictures
were  seen,  in  mirrors,  of haggard men,  concealing  something  in  their
breasts. Still, among the many footsteps and  the bloody footsteps  here and
there, was the step of Florence. Still she was  going  on  before. Still the
restless mind went, following and counting, ever farther, ever higher, as to
the summit of a mighty tower that it took years to climb.
     One day he inquired if  that were not Susan who had spoken a long while
ago.
     Florence said 'Yes, dear Papa;' and asked him would he like to see her?
     He  said  'very much.' And  Susan, with  no little  trepidation, showed
herself at his bedside.
     It seemed a great relief to him. He begged her not to go; to understand
that he forgave  her what she had said;  and that she  was to stay. Florence
and he were very different now,  he said, and very  happy. Let  her  look at
this! He meant his drawing the gentle head down to his pillow, and laying it
beside him.
     He remained  like this for days  and weeks. At length, lying, the faint
feeble semblance of a man, upon his bed, and speaking in a voice so low that
they  could  only  hear him  by listening  very near to his  lips, he became
quiet. It was dimly pleasant to him now, to lie there, with the window open,
looking out at the summer  sky and  the  trees:  and, in the evening, at the
sunset. To watch the shadows  of the  clouds  and leaves, and seem to feel a
sympathy with shadows. It was natural  that he should. To him, life and  the
world were nothing else.
     He  began to show now that he thought of Florence's fatigue: and  often
taxed his weakness to whisper to her, 'Go and walk, my dearest, in the sweet
air. Go  to your good  husband!'  One time when  Walter was in  his room, he
beckoned him  to come  near, and  to  stoop  down;  and pressing  his  hand,
whispered an assurance to him that he knew he could trust him with his child
when he was dead.
     It  chanced one evening,  towards sunset, when Florence and Walter were
sitting in his room together, as he liked to see them, that Florence, having
her baby in her arms, began in a low voice to sing to the little fellow, and
sang the old tune she had so often sung to the dead child: He could not bear
it at the  time;  he held up his trembling hand, imploring her to  stop; but
next day he asked her to repeat it, and to do so  often of an evening: which
she did. He listening, with his face turned away.
     Florence  was  sitting  on  a  certain  time by  his  window, with  her
work-basket between her and her old attendant,  who was still  her  faithful
companion. He had fallen into a doze. It was  a  beautiful evening, with two
hours of  light to  come yet;  and  the tranquillity and quiet made Florence
very thoughtful. She was lost to everything for the moment, but the occasion
when the  so altered  figure  on  the  bed  had first presented her  to  her
beautiful  Mama; when a touch from Walter leaning on  the back of her chair,
made her start.
     'My  dear,'  said Walter, 'there  is someone downstairs who  wishes  to
speak to you.
     She  fancied  Walter  looked  grave,  and  asked him  if  anything  had
happened.
     'No, no, my love!' said Walter. 'I have seen  the gentleman myself, and
spoken with him. Nothing has happened. Will you come?'
     Florence  put  her  arm  through his;  and confiding her father  to the
black-eyed Mrs Toots, who sat  as brisk and smart at her work as  black-eyed
woman  could, accompanied her  husband downstairs. In  the  pleasant  little
parlour  opening on the garden, sat a gentleman, who rose to advance towards
her when  she came in, but turned off, by reason of  some peculiarity in his
legs, and was only stopped by the table.
     Florence  then  remembered  Cousin Feenix,  whom  she had  not at first
recognised  in the  shade of the  leaves. Cousin  Feenix took her  hand, and
congratulated her upon her marriage.
     'I could  have wished, I am sure,' said Cousin Feenix, sitting  down as
Florence  sat,  to   have   had  an  earlier  opportunity  of   offering  my
congratulations;  but, in  point  of fact, so many painful occurrences  have
happened, treading, as a man  may say,  on one another's heels, that I  have
been in a devil of a state myself, and perfectly unfit for every description
of society. The  only description  of society I have  kept, has been my own;
and it certainly is anything but flattering to  a man's  good opinion of his
own sources, to  know that, in point of  fact, he has the capacity of boring
himself to a perfectly unlimited extent.'
     Florence divined, from some indefinable constraint  and anxiety in this
gentleman's  manner -  which  was  always  a  gentleman's, in  spite of  the
harmless little  eccentricities that attached  to  it  - and  from  Walter's
manner no less, that something  more immediately tending to  some object was
to follow this.
     'I  have been mentioning to my friend Mr  Gay, if I  may be  allowed to
have the honour of calling  him so,' said Cousin Feenix, 'that I am rejoiced
to  hear that my friend Dombey is very  decidedly mending. I trust my friend
Dombey will not  allow his mind to be too much preyed upon, by any mere loss
of fortune. I cannot say that I have ever experienced any very great loss of
fortune  myself: never having had, in  point of  fact, any great  amount  of
fortune to lose. But  as much as I could lose, I have lost; and I don't find
that I particularly care about it. I know  my friend Dombey to be a devilish
honourable man; and it's calculated  to console my friend  Dombey very much,
to know, that this is the universal sentiment. Even Tommy  Screwzer, - a man
of  an  extremely  bilious  habit,  with  whom  my friend  Gay  is  probably
acquainted - cannot say a syllable in disputation of the fact.'
     Florence  felt,  more than  ever, that there was something to come; and
looked earnestly for  it.  So earnestly, that Cousin Feenix  answered, as if
she had spoken.
     'The fact is,' said Cousin Feenix, 'that my  friend Gay and myself have
been discussing the propriety of entreating a favour at your hands; and that
I have the consent of my friend Gay - who has met me in  an exceedingly kind
and open manner, for which I am very much indebted to him - to solicit it. I
am sensible  that so amiable a  lady as the lovely and accomplished daughter
of my  friend Dombey will not  require much urging; but I am happy  to know,
that  I am supported by my  friend Gay's  influence  and approval.  As in my
parliamentary time, when a  man  had  a  motion  to make of any sort - which
happened seldom  in those  days,  for we were kept very  tight  in hand, the
leaders on  both  sides being regular Martinets,  which was a  devilish good
thing  for  the  rank and  file,  like  myself, and  prevented  our exposing
ourselves continually, as a great many of us had a feverish anxiety to do  -
as' in  my parliamentary time,  I was about to say,  when a man had leave to
let off  any  little private popgun, it was always considered a  great point
for him to say that he had the  happiness of believing  that his  sentiments
were not without an echo in the  breast of Mr Pitt; the  pilot, in  point of
fact, who  had weathered  the storm. Upon  which, a devilish large number of
fellows immediately cheered,  and  put  him in spirits. Though  the fact is,
that these fellows, being under orders to cheer most excessively whenever Mr
Pitt's name was mentioned, became so proficient that it always woke 'em. And
they were so entirely innocent of what was going on, otherwise, that it used
to be commonly said by Conversation  Brown - four-bottle man at the Treasury
Board, with whom the father of my friend Gay was probably acquainted, for it
was before my friend Gay's time -  that if a man had risen in his place, and
said that he regretted  to  inform the  house that  there was an  Honourable
Member  in  the  last  stage of  convulsions  in the  Lobby,  and  that  the
Honourable   Member's  name  was  Pitt,  the  approbation  would  have  been
vociferous.'
     This  postponement of  the point, put  Florence in a flutter;  and  she
looked from Cousin Feenix to Walter, in increasing agitatioN
     'My love,' said Walter, 'there is nothing the matter.
     'There is nothing the matter, upon my honour,' said Cousin Feenix; 'and
I  am deeply  distressed  at  being  the means  of causing  you  a  moment's
uneasiness. I beg to assure you that there is nothing the matter. The favour
that  I have to ask is, simply  - but it really  does  seem  so  exceedingly
singular, that I should be in the last degree obliged to my friend Gay if he
would  have the goodness to break the  - in point  of fact, the  ice,'  said
Cousin Feenix.
     Walter  thus  appealed to,  and appealed to  no  less in the look  that
Florence turned towards him, said:
     'My dearest, it is no more than this. That you will ride to London with
this gentleman, whom you know.
     'And  my  friend  Gay,  also -  I beg your pardon!' interrupted  Cousin
Feenix.
     And with me - and make a visit somewhere.'
     'To whom?' asked Florence, looking from one to the other.
     'If I might entreat,' said Cousin Feenix, 'that you would not press for
an answer  to that  question, I would venture to  take the liberty of making
the request.'
     'Do you know, Walter?'
     'Yes.'
     'And think it right?'
     'Yes. Only  because I am sure that  you would  too. Though there may be
reasons  I  very well  understand, which make it  better  that nothing  more
should be said beforehand.'
     'If  Papa  is still asleep, or  can  spare me if he is awake, I will go
immediately,' said Florence. And rising quietly, and glancing at them with a
look that was a little alarmed but perfectly confiding, left the room.
     When she  came back, ready to  bear  them company,  they  were  talking
together, gravely, at the window; and Florence could not but wonder what the
topic was, that had made them so well acquainted in so short a time. She did
not wonder at the look of pride and love with which her husband broke off as
she entered; for she never saw him, but that rested on her.
     'I  will leave,'  said  Cousin Feenix,  'a  card for my friend  Dombey,
sincerely  trusting that  he will  pick up  health  and strength  with every
returning  hour.  And  I  hope my friend Dombey  will  do  me the favour  to
consider me a man who  has  a devilish warm admiration of his character, as,
in point  of  fact, a British merchant and a devilish upright gentleman.  My
place  in the country is  in a most confounded state of dilapidation, but if
my friend Dombey  should  require  a change of air, and would  take  up  his
quarters there, he would find it a remarkably healthy spot -  as it need be,
for it's amazingly dull. If  my friend Dombey suffers  from bodily weakness,
and would allow me to  recommend what has frequently done myself good,  as a
man who  has been extremely queer  at times, and  who lived pretty freely in
the days  when men lived very freely, I should say,  let it  be  in point of
fact  the  yolk of  an egg, beat  up with sugar and  nutmeg,  in  a glass of
sherry, and  taken  in the  morning with a slice of dry toast. Jackson,  who
kept the boxing-rooms in  Bond Street - man of very superior qualifications,
with whose reputation my friend Gay is no doubt acquainted - used to mention
that in  training  for  the ring they substituted  rum  for sherry. I should
recommend sherry in this case,  on account of  my friend  Dombey being in an
invalided condition; which might occasion rum to  fly -  in point of fact to
his head - and throw him into a devil of a state.'
     Of all this, Cousin Feenix delivered  himself with an obviously nervous
and  discomposed  air. Then,  giving his arm  to Florence, and  putting  the
strongest possible constraint upon  his wilful legs, which seemed determined
to  go out  into the garden, he led  her to the door, and  handed her into a
carriage that was ready for her reception.
     Walter entered after him, and they drove away.
     Their ride was six or eight miles long. When they drove through certain
dull and  stately streets, lying  westward  in London, it  was growing dusk.
Florence had, by  this  time, put her hand in Walter's; and was looking very
earnestly,  and with increasing  agitation, into every new street into which
they turned.
     When the carriage stopped,  at last, before that house in Brook Street,
where her father's unhappy  marriage  had been  celebrated,  Florence  said,
'Walter, what is this? Who  is here?' Walter cheering her, and not replying,
she glanced up at the house-front, and saw that all the windows  were  shut,
as  if it were uninhabited. Cousin Feenix had by this time alighted, and was
offering his hand.
     'Are you not coming, Walter?'
     'No,  I  will  remain  here.  Don't  tremble there is  nothing to fear,
dearest Florence.'
     'I know that, Walter, with you so near. I am sure of that, but - '
     The door  was  softly opened, without any knock, and  Cousin Feenix led
her out of the summer evening air into the close dull house. More sombre and
brown than ever, it seemed to have been shut up from the wedding-day, and to
have hoarded darkness and sadness ever since.
     Florence ascended the dusky staircase, trembling; and stopped, with her
conductor,  at the drawing-room  door. He opened it, without  speaking,  and
signed an entreaty to her to advance into  the inner room, while he remained
there. Florence, after hesitating an instant, complied.
     Sitting by the window at a table, where she seemed to have been writing
or drawing, was a lady, whose head, turned away towards the dying light, was
resting  on  her  hand.  Florence advancing, doubtfully,  all at once  stood
still, as if she had lost the power of motion. The lady turned her head.
     'Great Heaven!' she said, 'what is this?'
     'No, no!' cried Florence, shrinking back as she rose up and putting out
her hands to keep her off. 'Mama!'
     They stood looking at each other. Passion and pride had worn it, but it
was  the face of Edith, and  beautiful and  stately yet. It was  the face of
Florence, and  through all the  terrified avoidance it expressed, there  was
pity in it, sorrow, a grateful tender memory. On each  face, wonder and fear
were painted vividly;  each so  still  and silent, looking at the other over
the black gulf of the irrevocable past.
     Florence was  the first  to change.  Bursting into tears, she said from
her full heart, 'Oh, Mama, Mama! why do we meet like this? Why were you ever
kind to me when there was no one else, that we should meet like this?'
     Edith stood before her,  dumb and motionless.  Her eyes were fixed upon
her face.
     'I dare not think of that,' said Florence,  'I am come from Papa's sick
bed.  We are never asunder now; we never  shall be' any  more.  If you would
have me ask his pardon, I will do  it, Mama. I am almost sure he  will grant
it now, if I ask him. May Heaven grant it to you, too, and comfort you!'
     She answered not a word.
     'Walter  - I  am married to him, and  we have  a  son,'  said Florence,
timidly - 'is at the door, and has brought me here. I will tell him that you
are repentant; that you are changed,' said Florence, looking mournfully upon
her; 'and he will speak to Papa  with me, I know. Is there anything but this
that I can do?'
     Edith,  breaking  her  silence,  without moving eye or  limb,  answered
slowly:
     'The stain upon your name, upon your  husband's, on  your child's. Will
that ever be forgiven, Florence?'
     'Will it ever be,  Mama? It is! Freely,  freely, both  by Walter and by
me. If that is any consolation to you, there is nothing that you may believe
more certainly. You do not - you do not,' faltered Florence, 'speak of Papa;
but I am sure you  wish that I should ask him for his forgiveness. I am sure
you do.'
     She answered not a word.
     'I will!' said Florence.  'I will bring it you, if you will let me; and
then, perhaps, we may take leave of each other, more like what we used to be
to one another. I have not,' said Florence very  gently, and drawing  nearer
to  her, 'I  have  not shrunk  back from you,  Mama, because I  fear you, or
because I dread to be disgraced by you. I only wish to do my duty to Papa. I
am very dear to him, and he is very dear to me. But  I never can forget that
you were very good to me. Oh, pray  to  Heaven,' cried Florence,  falling on
her bosom, 'pray to Heaven, Mama, to forgive you all this sin and shame, and
to forgive  me if I cannot help doing this (if it is wrong), when I remember
what you used to be!'
     Edith, as if she fell  beneath her touch, sunk  down on  her knees, and
caught her round the neck.
     'Florence!' she cried.  'My better angel! Before I am mad again, before
my stubbornness comes back and strikes  me dumb,  believe me, upon my soul I
am innocent!'
     'Mama!'
     'Guilty of much! Guilty of that which sets a waste between us evermore.
Guilty of  what must separate me, through  the  whole  remainder of my life,
from purity and  innocence - from  you, of all the earth.  Guilty of a blind
and passionate resentment, of which I  do  not, cannot, will not, even  now,
repent; but not guilty with that dead man. Before God!'
     Upon her knees upon  the ground,  she held up both her hands, and swore
it.
     'Florence!' she said, 'purest and best of natures, - whom I love  - who
might have changed me long ago, and did for  a time work some change even in
the woman that I am, - believe me,  I am innocent of that; and once more, on
my desolate heart, let me lay this dear head, for the last time!'
     She was moved and weeping. Had she been oftener thus in older days, she
had been happier now.
     'There is nothing else  in  all the  world,' she said, 'that would have
wrung denial from me. No love, no hatred, no hope, no  threat. I said that I
would  die, and make no sign. I could have done  so, and I would,  if we had
never met, Florence.
     'I trust,' said  Cousin Feenix, ambling  in at the door,  and speaking,
half in  the  room, and  half out of  it, 'that my  lovely  and accomplished
relative will  excuse  my  having,  by  a little  stratagem,  effected  this
meeting. I cannot say  that I was, at first, wholly  incredulous  as  to the
possibility   of   my   lovely  and  accomplished   relative  having,   very
unfortunately, committed herself with the deceased person  with white teeth;
because in point of fact, one  does see, in this world - which is remarkable
for  devilish  strange  arrangements,  and  for  being  decidedly  the  most
unintelligible thing within  a man's experience - very  odd  conjunctions of
that sort.  But as I mentioned to  my friend Dombey, I could not  admit  the
criminality of my  lovely and accomplished relative until it  was  perfectly
established. And feeling, when the  deceased person was, in  point of  fact,
destroyed  in  a devilish horrible  manner,  that  her position  was  a very
painful one - and feeling besides that our family had been a little to blame
in not paying more attention to her, and that we are a careless family - and
also that my aunt, though a devilish lively woman,  had perhaps not been the
very  best  of mothers - I took the  liberty  of seeking her in France,  and
offering her such protection as a man very  much out at  elbows could offer.
Upon which occasion, my lovely and  accomplished relative  did me the honour
to express  that  she believed I was,  in  my way,  a  devilish good sort of
fellow; and that therefore  she  put  herself under my  protection. Which in
point of fact I understood to be a kind thing on the  part  of my lovely and
accomplished relative,  as I am  getting extremely  shaky, and have  derived
great comfort from her solicitude.'
     Edith, who had taken  Florence to a sofa, made a gesture  with her hand
as if she would have begged him to say no more.
     'My  lovely  and  accomplished relative,' resumed  Cousin Feenix, still
ambling about at the door, 'will excuse me, if, for her satisfaction, and my
own, and that of my friend Dombey, whose lovely and accomplished daughter we
so much admire, I complete the thread  of my observations. She will remember
that, from  the  first,  she  and  I  never alluded  to the  subject  of her
elopement.  My  impression,  certainly,  has  always  been, that there was a
mystery in the affair which she could explain if so inclined. But my  lovely
and accomplished relative  being a devilish resolute woman, I  knew that she
was not, in point of fact, to be trifled with, and therefore did not involve
myself in any discussions. But,  observing lately, that her accessible point
did appear to be a very strong description of tenderness for the daughter of
my friend Dombey, it occurred to me  that  if I could bring about a meeting,
unexpected on both sides, it might lead to beneficial results. Therefore, we
being  in London,  in the present private way, before going to the South  of
Italy,  there to  establish ourselves, in point of fact, until we go  to our
long homes, which is a devilish disagreeable reflection for a man, I applied
myself to the discovery of the residence  of my friend Gay - handsome man of
an  uncommonly  frank  disposition, who  is probably known to my lovely  and
accomplished relative - and  had  the happiness of bringing his amiable wife
to the present place. And now,' said  Cousin Feenix, with a real and genuine
earnestness  shining through  the levity  of his  manner  and  his  slipshod
speech, 'I do  conjure my  relative, not to stop half way, but to set right,
as far as she  can, whatever she has done wrong - not  for the honour of her
family,  not  for her own fame,  not  for any of  those considerations which
unfortunate circumstances have induced her to regard as hollow, and in point
of fact, as approaching to humbug - but because it is wrong, and not right.'
     Cousin Feenix's legs consented to take him away after this; and leaving
them alone together, he shut the door.
     Edith  remained  silent  for some minutes, with Florence sitting  close
beside her. Then she took from her bosom a sealed paper.
     'I debated with myself a  long time,' she said in a low voice, 'whether
to write this at all, in case of dying suddenly or by accident,  and feeling
the  want of it upon  me.  I have deliberated, ever since,  when and  how to
destroy it. Take it, Florence. The truth is written in it.'
     'Is it for Papa?' asked Florence.
     'It is for  whom you will,' she answered. 'It is  given  to you, and is
obtained by you. He never could have had it otherwise.'
     Again they sat silent, in the deepening darkness.
     'Mama,' said Florence, 'he has  lost  his fortune;  he has been  at the
point of death; he may not recover, even now. Is there any word that I shall
say to him from you?'
     'Did you tell me,' asked Edith, 'that you were very dear to him?'
     'Yes!' said Florence, in a thrilling voice.
     'Tell him I am sorry that we ever met.
     'No more?' said Florence after a pause.
     'Tell him, if he asks,  that I do  not repent of what I have done - not
yet - for if it were to do again to-morrow, I  should  do it. But if he is a
changed man - '
     She stopped. There was something in the silent touch of Florence's hand
that stopped her.
     'But that being a changed man,  he  knows, now, it would never be. Tell
him I wish it never had been.'
     'May  I  say,'  said  Florence,  'that  you  grieved  to  hear  of  the
afflictions he has suffered?'
     'Not,' she replied, 'if  they have taught him that his daughter is very
dear to  him. He  will  not grieve for them himself,  one day, if they  have
brought that lesson, Florence.'
     'You wish well to him, and would have him happy. I am  sure you would!'
said Florence. 'Oh! let me  be able, if  I have the occasion at  some future
time, to say so?'
     Edith sat with her dark eyes gazing steadfastly before her, and did not
reply  until Florence had  repeated her  entreaty; when  she  drew her  hand
within her arm,  and said, with  the  same thoughtful  gaze  upon  the night
outside:
     'Tell  him  that  if,  in his  own present, he can find any  reason  to
compassionate my past, I sent word that I asked him to do  so. Tell him that
if, in his own present, he can find a reason to think less bitterly of me, I
asked  him  to do so.  Tell him, that, dead as we are to  one another, never
more to meet on  this side  of eternity, he knows there is  one  feeling  in
common between us now, that there never was before.'
     Her sternness seemed to yield, and there were tears in her dark eyes.
     'I trust myself to that,' she said, 'for his better thoughts of me, and
mine of him. When he loves his Florence most, he will hate me least. When he
is most  proud and happy in her and her  children, he will be most repentant
of his own part in the dark vision of our married life. At that time, I will
be repentant too -  let  him know it then - and think that when I thought so
much of all the causes that had made me what I was, I needed to have allowed
more for the causes that  had made him what  he  was. I  will try,  then, to
forgive him his share of blame. Let him try to forgive me mine!'
     'Oh  Mama!' said Florence. 'How it lightens my  heart,  even  in such a
strange meeting and parting, to hear this!'
     'Strange words in my own  ears,' said Edith,  'and foreign to the sound
of  my own voice! But  even if I had been the wretched creature I have given
him  occasion to  believe me, I think I could have said them still,  hearing
that you  and he  were  very  dear  to one  another.  Let him, when you  are
dearest, ever feel that he is most forbearing in his thoughts of me - that I
am most forbearing in my  thoughts of  him! Those  are the last words I send
him! Now, goodbye, my life!'
     She clasped her in her arms, and  seemed  to pour  out  all her woman's
soul of love and tenderness at once.
     'This kiss for your child! These kisses for a blessing on your head! My
own dear Florence, my sweet girl, farewell!'
     'To meet again!' cried Florence.
     'Never  again! Never again!  When you leave me in this dark room, think
that you have left me in the grave. Remember only  that I was once, and that
I loved you!'
     And Florence left her, seeing her  face no more, but accompanied by her
embraces and caresses to the last.
     Cousin  Feenix met her at the door, and took her down  to Walter in the
dingy dining room, upon whose shoulder she laid her head weeping.
     'I am  devilish  sorry,' said Cousin Feenix, lifting his wristbands  to
his eyes in the simplest manner possible, and without the least concealment,
'that  the lovely and accomplished daughter of my  friend Dombey and amiable
wife of my friend Gay,  should  have  had her sensitive nature so  very much
distressed and cut up by  the interview  which is just concluded. But I hope
and  trust I have acted  for the best,  and that my honourable friend Dombey
will  find his mind relieved  by the  disclosures which have taken  place. I
exceedingly lament that  my friend Dombey should have got himself, in  point
of fact,  into the devil's  own state of conglomeration  by an alliance with
our  family;  but  am  strongly of opinion that if it  hadn't  been  for the
infernal scoundrel  Barker -  man with  white  teeth - everything would have
gone on pretty smoothly. In regard to my relative who does  me the honour to
have formed an uncommonly good opinion of myself, I  can  assure the amiable
wife of  my friend Gay, that she may rely on my being, in point of  fact,  a
father  to  her.  And  in  regard  to  the changes  of human  life,  and the
extraordinary manner in which we are perpetually conducting ourselves, all I
can  say is, with my friend Shakespeare - man who wasn't for an age but  for
all time, and with whom my friend Gay is no doubt acquainted - that its like
the shadow of a dream.'


     Final

     A bottle that has  been  long excluded from the  light of day,  and  is
hoary with  dust and cobwebs, has  been brought  into the  sunshine; and the
golden wine within it sheds a lustre on the table.
     It is the last bottle of the old Madiera.
     'You  are quite right, Mr Gills,'  says Mr Dombey. 'This is a very rare
and most delicious wine.'
     The Captain, who is of the party, beams with joy. There  is a very halo
of delight round his glowing forehead.
     'We  always  promised  ourselves, Sir,'  observes  Mr  Gills,' Ned  and
myself, I mean - '
     Mr Dombey nods at the Captain, who shines more and more with speechless
gratification.
     '-that we would drink  this, one day or other, to Walter  safe at home:
though such a home we never thought of. If you don't object to our old whim,
Sir, let us devote this first glass to Walter and his wife.'
     'To  Walter and his wife!' says Mr  Dombey. 'Florence, my child'  - and
turns to kiss her.
     'To Walter and his wife!' says Mr Toots.
     'To  Wal'r  and his  wife!'  exclaims  the  Captain. 'Hooroar!' and the
Captain exhibiting a  strong  desire to clink his  glass against some  other
glass, Mr Dombey,  with a ready  hand, holds out his. The others follow; and
there is a blithe and merry ringing, as of a little peal of marriage bells.

     Other  buried wine grows older, as the old Madeira did in its time; and
dust and cobwebs thicken on the bottles.
     Mr  Dombey is a white-haired gentleman, whose face bears heavy marks of
care and suffering; but they  are traces  of a  storm that has passed on for
ever, and left a clear evening in its track.
     Ambitious projects trouble him no  more.  His  only  pride  is  in  his
daughter and her husband. He has  a silent, thoughtful, quiet manner, and is
always with his daughter. Miss Tox is not infrequently of  the family party,
and is quite devoted to  it, and  a  great favourite.  Her admiration of her
once stately patron is, and has been ever since the morning of her  shock in
Princess's Place, platonic, but not weakened in the least.
     Nothing  has drifted to  him  from  the wreck of  his fortunes,  but  a
certain  annual sum  that comes he  knows not how, with an earnest  entreaty
that he will not seek to discover, and with the assurance that it is a debt,
and an act  of reparation. He has  consulted with his old  clerk about this,
who is clear it  may be  honourably accepted, and has no doubt it arises out
of some forgotten transaction in the times of the old House.
     That hazel-eyed bachelor,  a bachelor no  more, is married  now, and to
the sister of the grey-haired Junior. He visits his old chief sometimes, but
seldom.  There  is a reason in  the greyhaired  Junior's history, and  yet a
stronger reason  in  his  name,  why  he  should keep  retired from  his old
employer; and as he lives with his sister and her husband,  they participate
in that retirement.  Walter  sees them  sometimes  -  Florence too - and the
pleasant house resounds with profound duets arranged for the Piano-Forte and
Violoncello, and with the labours of Harmonious Blacksmiths.
     And how goes the wooden Midshipman in these changed days? Why, here  he
still is,  right  leg foremost,  hard at work upon  the hackney coaches, and
more on the alert than  ever, being newly painted from his cocked hat to his
buckled  shoes; and up above  him,  in golden  characters, these names shine
refulgent, GILLS AND CUTTLE.
     Not another stroke  of business does the  Midshipman achieve beyond his
usual  easy trade. But they do say, in a circuit of some half-mile round the
blue umbrella in  Leadenhall Market, that some of Mr Gills's old investments
are  coming out wonderfully well; and that instead of  being behind the time
in those respects, as he supposed, he was, in truth, a little before it, and
had to  wait the fulness of the time and the design. The whisper is  that Mr
Gills's money has begun to turn itself, and that  it  is turning itself over
and over pretty briskly. Certain it is that, standing  at  his shop-door, in
his  coffee-coloured  suit, with  his  chronometer  in  his pocket,  and his
spectacles on his forehead, he don't appear to  break his heart at customers
not coming, but  looks very jovial and contented, though full as misty as of
yore.
     As to his partner, Captain Cuttle,  there is a fiction of a business in
the Captain's mind which  is  better than  any  reality.  The Captain is  as
satisfied of the  Midshipman's importance to  the commerce and navigation of
the country, as he could possibly be,  if no ship  left  the Port  of London
without the Midshipman's assistance. His  delight in his  own name over  the
door, is inexhaustible. He  crosses the street, twenty times a day, to  look
at it  from  the other  side  of  the  way; and  invariably  says,  on these
occasions,  'Ed'ard Cuttle,  my lad, if  your mother could ha' know'd as you
would ever be a man o' science, the  good old  creetur would  ha' been  took
aback in-deed!'
     But  here  is  Mr  Toots  descending  on  the  Midshipman  with violent
rapidity, and Mr  Toots's face is  very  red  as he bursts  into the  little
parlour.
     'Captain Gills,' says Mr Toots, 'and  Mr Sols, I am happy to inform you
that Mrs Toots has had an increase to her family.
     'And it does her credit!' cries the Captain.
     'I give you joy, Mr Toots!' says old Sol.
     'Thank'ee,' chuckles Mr Toots, 'I'm  very much obliged to  you.  I knew
that  you'd be  glad  to hear,  and so  I came down myself. We're positively
getting on,  you know.  There's  Florence, and Susan, and now here's another
little stranger.'
     'A female stranger?' inquires the Captain.
     'Yes, Captain Gills,'  says Mr Toots, 'and I'm glad of  it. The oftener
we can repeat that most extraordinary woman, my opinion is, the better!'
     'Stand by!' says the  Captain, turning  to the old  case-bottle with no
throat - for it is evening, and the Midshipman's usual moderate provision of
pipes and glasses  is on the board. 'Here's to her, and may she have ever so
many more!'
     'Thank'ee,  Captain  Gills,' says the delighted Mr  Toots. 'I echo  the
sentiment.  If  you'll  allow  me, as  my so doing  cannot  be unpleasant to
anybody, under the circumstances, I think I'll take a pipe.'
     Mr Toots begins to smoke, accordingly, and in the openness of his heart
is very loquacious.
     'Of all the remarkable instances that  that  delightful woman has given
of  her excellent sense, Captain Gills and Mr Sols,' said Mr Toots, 'I think
none is more remarkable than the perfection with which she has understood my
devotion to Miss Dombey.'
     Both his auditors assent.
     'Because you know,' says Mr Toots, 'I have never changed  my sentiments
towards  Miss Dombey.  They are the same  as  ever. She  is  the same bright
vision to me, at present, that she was before I made Walters's acquaintance.
When Mrs Toots and myself first began  to talk of - in  short, of the tender
passion, you know, Captain Gills.'
     'Ay, ay, my lad,' says  the Captain, 'as  makes us all slue round - for
which you'll overhaul the book - '
     'I  shall certainly do  so, Captain Gills,' says  Mr Toots,  with great
earnestness; 'when we first began to mention such subjects, I explained that
I was what you may call a Blighted Flower, you know.'
     The Captain approves of this figure greatly; and murmurs that no flower
as blows, is like the rose.
     'But Lord bless me,'  pursues Mr Toots, 'she was as  entirely conscious
of the state of my  feelings as I was myself. There was nothing I could tell
her. She was the only person who could have stood between  me and the silent
Tomb, and she did it, in  a manner to command my everlasting admiration. She
knows that there's nobody in the world I look up to, as I do to Miss Dombey.
Knows that there's nothing on earth I wouldn't do for Miss Dombey. She knows
that I consider Miss Dombey the most beautiful,  the most amiable,  the most
angelic of her  sex.  What is her observation  upon that?  The perfection of
sense. "My dear, you're right. I think so too."'
     'And so do I!' says the Captain.
     'So do I,' says Sol Gills.
     'Then,' resumes Mr Toots, after some contemplative pulling at his pipe,
during which his visage has expressed  the most  contented reflection, 'what
an observant woman my wife is! What sagacity she possesses! What remarks she
makes! It was only last  night, when  we  were  sitting in the enjoyment  of
connubial bliss  -  which,  upon my word  and honour,  is a feeble  term  to
express my feelings in the society of my wife - that she said how remarkable
it  was to  consider the  present  position  of our friend Walters.  "Here,"
observes  my wife, "he is,  released  from sea-going,  after that first long
voyage with his young bride" - as you know he was, Mr Sols.'
     'Quite true,' says the old Instrument-maker, rubbing his hands.
     "'Here  he  is,"  says  my  wife,  "released  from  that,  immediately;
appointed by the same establishment to a post of great  trust and confidence
at home; showing himself  again  worthy;  mounting  up the  ladder  with the
greatest expedition; beloved by everybody; assisted by his uncle at the very
best possible time of his fortunes" - which I think is the case, Mr Sols? My
wife is always correct.'
     'Why yes, yes - some of our lost ships, freighted  with gold, have come
home, truly,'  returns  old Sol,  laughing.  'Small  craft,  Mr  Toots,  but
serviceable to my boy!'
     'Exactly so,' says Mr Toots. 'You'll never find my wife wrong. "Here he
is," says that most remarkable woman, "so situated, - and what follows? What
follows?" observed Mrs Toots. Now pray  remark,  Captain Gills, and Mr Sols,
the  depth of  my wife's  penetration. "Why that,  under the  very eye of Mr
Dombey, there is a foundation going on, upon which a - an Edifice;" that was
Mrs Toots's word,' says Mr Toots exultingly, "'is  gradually rising, perhaps
to equal, perhaps excel, that of which he  was once the  head, and the small
beginnings of which (a common fault, but  a bad one, Mrs Toots said) escaped
his memory. Thus,"  said my wife,  "from his daughter,  after  all,  another
Dombey  and Son  will ascend"  -  no "rise;" that  was  Mrs  Toots's  word -
"triumphant!"'
     Mr Toots, with the assistance of his  pipe - which he is extremely glad
to devote to oratorical  purposes, as its proper use affects him with a very
uncomfortable sensation - does such grand justice to this prophetic sentence
of his wife's, that the Captain, throwing away his glazed  hat in a state of
the greatest excitement, cries:
     'Sol Gills, you  man of science and my ould pardner,  what did  I  tell
Wal'r to overhaul on that there night when he first took to business? Was it
this here quotation, "Turn again Whittington, Lord Mayor of London, and when
you are old you will never depart from it". Was it them words, Sol Gills?'
     'It  certainly was, Ned,' replied the old Instrument-maker. 'I remember
well.'
     'Then  I  tell you what,' says the  Captain, leaning back in his chair,
and composing his  chest for a prodigious  roar. 'I'll  give you Lovely  Peg
right through; and stand by, both on you, for the chorus!'

     Buried wine grows older, as the old Madeira  did, in its time; and dust
and cobwebs thicken on the bottles.
     Autumn days are shining, and on the sea-beach  there  are often a young
lady,  and  a  white-haired gentleman.  With them,  or  near  them, are  two
children: boy and girl. And an old dog is generally in their company.
     The  white-haired gentleman  walks with the little boy, talks with him,
helps him  in  his play, attends upon him,  watches  him as if  he were  the
object of  his life.  If  he  be thoughtful,  the white-haired gentleman  is
thoughtful  too;  and  sometimes when the child is sitting by  his side, and
looks up in his face, asking him questions, he  takes the tiny  hand in his,
and holding it, forgets to answer. Then the child says:
     'What, grandpa! Am I so like my poor little Uncle again?'
     'Yes, Paul. But he was weak, and you are very strong.'
     'Oh yes, I am very strong.'
     'And he lay on a little bed beside the sea, and you can run about.'
     And  so they range away  again, busily, for the  white-haired gentleman
likes best  to  see  the  child  free and stirring;  and as  they  go  about
together, the story of the bond between them goes about, and follows them.
     But  no  one, except  Florence, knows  the measure of the  white-haired
gentleman's affection for the girl. That story  never  goes about. The child
herself almost wonders at a certain secrecy he keeps in it. He hoards her in
his heart.  He cannot bear to see a cloud upon her  face. He cannot bear  to
see her  sit apart. He fancies  that she feels a slight, when there is none.
He  steals away to  look  at her, in her  sleep. It pleases  him to have her
come,  and wake him in  the morning. He is fondest of her and most loving to
her, when there is no creature by. The child says then, sometimes:
     'Dear grandpapa, why do you cry when you kiss me?'
     He  only answers, 'Little Florence!  little Florence!' and smooths away
the curls that shade her earnest eyes.
     The voices in the waves speak low  to him of Florence,  day and night -
plainest when he, his blooming daughter, and her husband, beside them in the
evening,  or sit at an  open window, listening to their roar. They speak  to
him  of Florence  and  his altered  heart; of Florence and  their  ceaseless
murmuring  to  her of the  love,  eternal and  illimitable, extending still,
beyond the sea, beyond the sky, to the invisible country far away.
     Never from the mighty sea may voices rise too  late, to come between us
and  the  unseen region on the  other shore! Better,  far better,  that they
whispered of that region in our childish ears, and the swift  river  hurried
us away!


     End of The Project Gutenberg Etext of Domby and Son, by Dickens


     End of the

     I cannot  forego  my usual opportunity of saying farewell to my readers
in  this  greetingplace,  though  I have only to acknowledge  the  unbounded
warmth and earnestness  of their sympathy in every stage of  the journey  we
have just concluded.
     If any of them have felt a sorrow in one of the  principal incidents on
which this fiction  turns, I hope  it may be  a  sorrow  of that sort  which
endears the sharers in it, one  to  another. This is not unselfish  in me. I
may claim  to have  felt it, at least as much  as anybody else; and I  would
fain be remembered kindly for my part in the experience.

     DEVONSHIRE TERRACE, Twenty-Fourth March, 1848.


     I  make  so  bold  as  to believe  that  the faculty  (or the habit) of
correctly  observing the characters of men, is a  rare one.  I have not even
found,  within my experience, that the  faculty  (or the habit) of correctly
observing  so much as  the faces of men, is a general one by  any means. The
two commonest mistakes in judgement that I suppose to arise from  the former
default, are, the confounding  of  shyness  with arrogance -  a  very common
mistake indeed - and the not  understanding that  an obstinate nature exists
in a perpetual struggle with itself.
     Mr Dombey undergoes no  violent change, either in this book, or in real
life.  A  sense of  his  injustice  is  within him, all along.  The  more he
represses it, the more unjust he necessarily is. Internal shame and external
circumstances may bring  the contest to a close in a week, or a day; but, it
has been a contest for years, and is only fought out after a long balance of
victory.
     I began this book by  the Lake of  Geneva, and went on with it for some
months in France, before pursuing it in England. The association between the
writing and the place of writing is so curiously strong in  my mind, that at
this  day,  although  I know,  in  my  fancy,  every  stair  in  the  little
midshipman's house, and  could swear to every  pew  in  the church in  which
Florence  was  married,  or to every  young  gentleman's bedstead  in Doctor
Blimber's  establishment,  I  yet  confusedly   imagine  Captain  Cuttle  as
secluding  himself from  Mrs  MacStinger among the mountains of Switzerland.
Similarly, when  I am reminded by any chance  of what it was  that the waves
were always saying, my remembrance  wanders  for a  whole winter night about
the streets of Paris - as I restlessly  did with a heavy heart, on the night
when I had written  the chapter  in which  my  little  friend and  I  parted
company.


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     End of The Project Gutenberg Etext of Domby and Son, by Dickens

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