which, Mrs. Skewton reminded Mr. Dombey, Edith
had already sketched, as he had seen in looking
over her drawings : brought the day's expedition
to a close. Mrs. Skewton and Edith were driven
to their own lodgings ; Mr. Carker was graciously
invited by Cleopatra to return thither with Mr.
Dombey and the major, in the evening, to hear
some of Edith's music ; and the three gentlemen
repaired to their hotel to dinner.
The dinner was the counterpart of yesterday's, ex-
cept that the major was twenty-four hours more tri-
umphant and less mysterious. Edith was toasted
again. INIr. Dombey was again agreeably embarrassed.
And Mr. Carker was full of interest and praise.
There were no other visitors at Mrs. Skewton's.
Edith's drawings were strewn about the room a little
more abundantly than usual, perhaps ; and Withers,
the wan page, handed round a little stronger tea.
The harp was there ; the piano was there ; and Edith
sang and played. But even the music was paid by
Edith to Mr. Dombey's order, as it were, in the same
uncompromising way. As thus.
" Edith, my dearest love," said Mrs. Skewton, half
an hour after tea, " Mr. Dombey is dying to hear you,
" Mr. Dombey has life enough left to say so for
himself, mamma, I have no doubt."
DOMBEY AiTD SON. 161
" I shall be immensely obliged," said Mr. Dombey.
" What do you wish ? "
" Piano ? " hesitated Mr. Dombey.
" Whatever you please. You have only to choose."
Accordingly, she began with the piano. It was
the same with the harp ; the same with her singing ;
the same with the selection of the pieces that she
sang and played. Such frigid and constrained, yet
prompt and pointed, acquiescence with the wishes
he imposed upon her, and on no one else, was suffi-
ciently remarkable to penetrate through all the
mysteries of piquet, and impress itself on Mr.
Carker's keen attention. Nor did he lose sight of
the fact that Mr. Dombey was evidently proud of
his power, and liked to show it.
Nevertheless, Mr. Carker played so well â some
games with the major, and some with Cleopatra,
whose vigilance of eye in respect of Mr. Dombey
and Edith no lynx could have surpassed â that he
even heightened his position in the lady mother's
good graces ; and when, on taking leave, he regretted
that he would be obliged to return to London next
morning, Cleopatra trusted: community of feeling
not being met with every day : that it was far from
being the last time they would meet.
" I hope so," said Mr. Carker, with an expressive
look at the couple in the distance, as he drew towards
the door, following the major. "I think so."
Mr. Dombey, who had taken a stately leave of
Edith, bent, or made some approach to a bend,
over Cleopatra's couch, and said, in a low voice, â
"I have requested Mrs. Granger's permission to
call on her to-morrow morning â for a purpose â
and she has appointed twelve o'clock. May I hope
162 DOMBEY AND SOK.
to have the pleasure of finding you at home, madam,
afterwards ? "
Cleopatra was so much fluttered and moved by
hearing this, of course, incomprehensible speech,
that she could only shut her eyes, and shake her
head, and give Mr. Dombey her hand ; which Mr.
Dombey, not exactly knowing what to do with,
" Dombey, come along ! " cried the major, looking
in at the door. " Damme, sir, old Joe has a great
mind to propose an alteration in the name of the
Royal Hotel, and that it should be called the Three
Jolly Bachelors, in honor of ourselves and Carker."
With this the major slapped Mr. Dombey on the
back, and winking over his shoulder at the ladies,
with a frightful tendency of blood to the head,
carried him off.
Mrs. Skewton reposed on her sofa, and Edith sat
apart, by her harp, in silence. The mother, trifling
with her fan, looked stealthily at the daughter more
than once, but the daughter, brooding gloomily with
downcast eyes, was not to be disturbed.
Thus they remained for a long hour, without a
word, until Mrs. Skewton's maid appeared, accord-
ing to custom, to prepare her gradually for night.
At night she should have been a skeleton, with dart
and hour-glass, rather than a woman, this attendant ;
for her touch was as the touch of Death. The
painted object shrivelled underneath her hand ; the
form collapsed, the hair dropped off, the arched
dark eyebrows changed to scanty tufts of gray ; the
pale lips shrunk, the skin became cadaverous and
loose ; an old, worn, yellow, nodding woman, with
red eyes, alone remained in Cleopatra's place, hud-
DOMBEY AND SON. 163
died up, like a slovenly bundle, in a greasy flannel
The very voice was changed, as it addressed Edith,
when they were alone again.
'* Why don't you tell me," it said sharply, " that
he is coming here to-morrow by appointment ? "
"Because you know it," returned Edith, "mother."
The mocking emphasis she laid on that one word !
"You know he has bought me," she resumed.
" Or that he will to-morrow. He has considered of
his bargain ; he has shown it to his friend ; he is
even rather proud of it ; he thinks that it will suit
him, and may be had sufficiently cheap ; and he
will buy to-morrow. God, that I have lived for
this, and that I feel it ! "
Compress into one handsome face the conscious
self-abasement and the burning indignation of a
hundred women, strong in passion and in pride;
and there it hid itself with two white shuddering
" What do you mean ? " returned the angry
mother. " Haven't you from a child â "
" A child ! " said Edith, looking at her. " When
was I a child ? What childhood did you ever leave
to me ? I was a woman â artful, designing, mer-
cenary, laying snares for men â before I knew my-
self or you, or even understood the base and wretched
aim of every new display I learnt. You gave birth
to a woman. Look upon her. She is in her pride
And, as she spoke, she struck her hand upon her
beautiful bosom, as though she would have beaten
" Look at me," she said, " who have never known
16-4 DOMBEY AND SON.
what it is to have an honest heart, and love. Look
at me, taught to scheme and plot when children
play, and married in my youth â an old age of
design â to one for whom I had no feeling but
indifference. Look at me, whom he left a widow,
dying before his inheritance descended to him â a
judgment on you, well deserved! â and tell me
what has been my life for ten years since."
" We have been making every effort to endeavor
to secure to you a good establishment," rejoined
her mother. " That has been your life. And now
you have got it."
" There is no slave in a market, there is no horse
in a fair, so shown and offered and examined and
paraded, mother, as I have been, for ten shameful
years," cried Edith, with a burning brow, and the
same bitter emphasis on the one word. " Is it not
so ? Have I been made the by -word of all kinds of
men ? Have fools, have profligates, have boys, have
dotards, dangled after me, and one by one rejected
me, and fallen off, because you were too plain, with
all your cunning â yes, and too true, with all those
false pretences â until we have almost come to be
notorious ? The license of look and touch," she
said with flashing eyes, " have I submitted to it, in
half the places of resort upon the maÂ« of England ?
Have I been hawked and vended here and there,
until the last grain of self-respect is dead within
me, and I loathe myself ? Has this been my late
childhood ? I had none before. Do not tell me
that I had, to-night, of all nights in my life ! "
" You might have been well married," said her
mother, "twenty times at least, Edith, if you had
given encouragement enough."
DOIVIBEY AND SON. 1G5
" No ! Who takes me, refuse that I am, and as I
well deserve to be," she answered, raising her head,
and trembling in her energy of shame and stormy-
pride, " shall take me, as this man does, with no art
of mine put forth to lure him. He sees me at the
auction, and he thinks it well to buy me. Let him !
When he came to view me â perhaps to bid â he
required to see the roll of my accomplishments. I
gave it to hira. When he would have me show one
of them, to justify his purchase to his men, I require
of him to say which he demands, and I exhibit it.
I will do no more. He makes the purchase of his
own will, and with his own sense of its worth, and
the power of his money ; and I hope it may never
disappoint him. / have not vaunted and pressed
the bargain ; neither have you, so far as I have been
able to prevent you."
" You talk strangely to-night, Edith, to your ovrn
" It seems so to me ; stranger to me than to you,"
said Edith. "But my education was completed long
ago. I am too old now, and have fallen too low, by
degrees, to take a new course, and to stop yours,
and to help myself. The germ of all that purifies
a woman's breast, and makes it true and good, has
never stirred in mine, and I have nothing else to
sustain me when I despise myself." There had
been a touching sadness in heT voice, but it was
gone when she went on to say, " So, as we are gen-
teel and poor, I am content that we should be made
rich by these means ; all I say is, I have kept the
only purpose I have had the strength to form â I
had almost said the power, with you at my side,
mother â and have not tempted this man on."
166 DOMBEY AXD SON.
" This man ! You speak," said her mother, " as if
you hated him."
" And you thought I loved him, did you not ? "
she answered, stopping on her way across the room,
and looking round. " Shall I tell you," she contin-
ued, with her eyes fixed on her mother, "who
already knows us thoroughly, and reads us right,
and before whom I have even less of self-respect or
confidence than before my own inward self : being
so much degraded by his knowledge of me ? "
"This is an attack, I suppose," returned her
mother coldly, "on poor, unfortunate what's-his-
name â Mr. Carker, Your want of self-respect and
confidence, my dear, in reference to that person
(who is very agreeable, it strikes me), is not likely
to have much effect on your establishment. Why
do you look at me so hard ? Are you ill ? "
Edith suddenly let fall her face as if it had been
stung, and, while she pressed her hands upon it, a
terrible tremble crept over her whole frame. It
was quickly gone ; and with her usual step she
passed out of the room.
The maid, who should have been a skeleton, then
re-appeared, and giving one arm to her mistress,
who appeared to have taken off her manner with
her charms, and to have put on paralysis with her
flannel gown, collected the ashes of Cleopatra, and
carried them away, ready for to-morrow's revivifica-
"So the day has come at length, Susan," said
Florence to the excellent Nipper, "when we are
going back to our quiet home ! "
Susan drew in her breath with an amount of
expression not easily described, and further reliev-
ing her feelings with a smart cough, answered,
" Very quiet indeed, Miss Floy, no doubt. Exces-
" When I was a child," said Florence thought-
fully, and after musing for some moments, " did you
ever see that gentleman who has taken the trouble
to ride down here to speak to me, now, three times,
â three times I think, Susan ? "
" Three times, miss," returned the Nipper. " Once
when you was out a-walking with them Sket â "
Florence gently looked at her, and Miss Nipper
" With Sir Barnet and his lady, I mean to say,
miss, and the young gentleman. And two evenings
" When I was a child, and when company used
to come to visit papa, did you ever see that gentle-
man at home, Susan ? " asked Florence.
168 DOMBEY AND SON.
" Well, miss," returned her maid after considering,
" I really couldn't say 1 ever did. When your poor
dear ma died, Miss Floy, I was very new in the
family, you see, and my element " â the Nipper
bridled, as opining that her merits had been always
designedly extinguished by Mr. Dombey â " was
the floor below the attics."
" To be sure," said Florence, still thoughtfully ;
"you are not likely to have known who came to the
house. I quite forgot,"
" Not, miss, but what we talked about the family
and visitors," said Susan, " and but what I heard
much said, although the nurse before Mrs. Richards
did make unpleasant remarks when I was in com-
pany, and hint at little Pitchers, but that could
only be attributed, poor thing," observed Susan
with composed forbearance, " to habits of intoxica-
tion, for which she was required to leave, and did."
Florence, who was seated at her chamber window,
with her face resting on her hand, sat looking out,
and hardly seemed to hear what Susan said, she
was so lost in thought.
"At all events, miss," said Susan, "I remember
very well that this same gentleman, Mr. Carker,
was almost, if not quite, as great a gentleman with
your papa then as he is now. It used to be said in
the house, then, miss, that he was at the head of all
your pa's affairs in the City, and managed the
whole, and that your pa minded him more than
anybody, which, begging your pardon. Miss Floy,
he might easy do, for he never minded anybody
else, I knew that. Pitcher as I might have
Susan Nipper, with an injured remembrance of the
DOMBEY AND SON. 169
nurse before Mrs. Eichards, emphasized "Pitcher"
" And that Mr. Carker has not fallen off, miss,"
she pursued, " but has stood his ground, and kept
his credit with your pa, I know from what is said
among our people by that Perch, whenever he comes
to the house, and though he's the weakest reed in
the world. Miss Floy, and no one can have a
moment's patience with the man, he knows what
goes on in the City tolerably well, and says that
your pa does nothing without Mr. Carker, and
leaves all to Mr. Carker, and acts according to Mr.
Carker, and has Mr. Carker always at his elbow,
and I do believe that he believes (that washiest of
Perches) that after your pa, the Emperor of India
is the child unborn to Mr. Carker."
Not a word of this was lost on Florence, who,
with an awakened interest in Susan's speech, no
longer gazed abstractedly on the prospect without,
but looked at her, and listened with attention.
" Yes, Susan," she said when that young lady
had concluded. " He is in papa's confidence, and is
his friend, I am sure."
Florence's mind ran high on this theme, and had
done for some days. Mr. Carker, in the two visits
with which he had followed up his first one, had
assumed a confidence between himself and her â
a right on his part to be mysterious and stealthy,
in telling her that the ship was still unheard of â
a kind of mildly restrained power and authority
over her â that made her wonder, and caused her
great uneasiness. She had no means of repel-
ling it, or of freeing herself from the web he was
gradually winding about her : for that would have
170 DOMBEY AND SON.
required some art and knowledge of the world,
opposed to such address as his ; and Florence had
none. True, he said no more to her than that there
was no news of the ship, and that he feared the
worst ; but how he came to know that she was
interested in the ship, and why he had the right to
signify his knowledge to her so insidiously and
darkly, troubled Florence very much.
This conduct on the part of Mr. Carker, and her
habit of often considering it with wonder and
uneasiness, began to invest him with an uncomfort-
able fascination in Florence's thoughts. A more
distinct remembrance of his features, voice, and
manner: which she sometimes courted, as a means
of reducing him to the level of a real personage,
capable of exerting no greater charm over her than
another : did not remove the vague impression.
And yet he never frowned, or looked upon her with
an air of dislike or animosity, but was always smil-
ing and serene.
Again, Florence, in pursuit of her strong pur-
pose with reference to her father, and her steady
resolution to believe that she was herself unwit-
tingly to blame for their so cold and distant rela-
tions, would recall to mind that this gentleman was
his confidential friend, and would think, with an
anxious heart, could her struggling tendency to dis-
like and fear him be a part of that misfortune in
her which had turned her father's love adrift, and
left her so alone ? She dreaded that it might be ;
sometimes believed it was : then she resolved that
she would try to conquer this wrong feeling ;
persuaded herself that she was honored and encour-
aged by the notice of her father's friend ; and hoped
DOMBEY AND SON. 171
that patient observation of him and trust in him
would lead her bleeding feet along that stony road
which ended in her father's heart.
Thus, with no one to advise her â for she could
advise with no one without seeming to complain
against him â gentle Florence tossed on an uneasy
sea of doubt and hope ; and Mr. Carker, like a scaly
monster of the deep, swam down below, and kept
his shining eye upon her.
Florence had a new reason in all this for wishing
to be at home again. Her lonely life was better
suited to her course of timid hope and doubt : and
she feared, sometimes, that in her absence she
might miss some hopeful chance of testifying her
affection for her father. Heaven knows, she might
have set her mind at rest, poor child ! on this point ;
but her slighted love was fluttering within her, and,
even in her sleep, it flew away in dreams, and
nestled, like a wandering bird come home, upon her
Of Walter she thought often. Ah! how often,
when the night was gloomy, and the wind was
blowing round the house ! But hope was strong in
her breast. It is so difficult for the young and
ardent, even with such experience as hers, to
imagine youth and ardor quenched like a weak
flame, and the bright day of life merging into night
at noon, that hope was strong yet. Her tears fell
frequently for Walter's sufferings, but rarely for his
supposed death, and never long.
She had written to the old instrument-maker, but
had received no answer to her note : which, indeed,
required none. Thus matters stood with Florence
on the morning when she was going home, gladly,
to her old secluded life.
172 DOMBEY A2fD SON.
Doctor and Mrs. Bliinber, accompanied (much
against his will), by their valued charge, Master
Barnet, were already gone back to Brighton, where
that young gentleman and his fellow-pilgrims to
Parnassus were then, no doubt, in the continual
resumption of their studies. The holiday time
was past and over ; most of the juvenile guests at
the villa had taken their departure ; and Florence's
long visit was come to an end.
There was one guest, however, albeit not resident
within the house, who had been very constant in
his attention to the family, and who still remained
devoted to them. This was Mr. Toots, who, after
renewing, some weeks ago, the acquaintance he had
had the happiness of forming with Skettles junior,
on the night when he burst the Blimberian bonds
and soared into freedom with his ring on, called
regularly every other day, and left a perfect pack
of cards at the hall-door ; so many, indeed, that the
ceremony Avas quite a deal on the part of Mr. Toots,
and a hand at whist on the part of the servant.
Mr. Toots likewise, with the bold and happy idea
of preventing the family from forgetting him (but
there is reason to suppose that this expedient origi-
nated in the teeming brain of the Chicken), had
established a six-oared cutter, manned by aquatic
friends of the Chicken's, and steered by that illus-
trious character in person, who wore a bright red
fireman's coat for the purpose, and concealed the
perpetual black eye with which he was afflicted be-
neath a green shade. Previous to the institution of
this equipage, Mr. Toots sounded the Chicken on a
hypothetical case, as, supposing the Chicken to be
enamoured of a young lady named Mary, and to
DOMBEY AWD SON. 173
have conceived the intention of starting a boat of
his own, what would he call that boat ? The
Chicken replied, with divers strong asseverations,
that he would either christen it Poll or The
Chicken's Delight. Improving on this idea, Mr.
Toots, after deep study and the exercise of much
invention, resolved to call his boat The Toots's Joy,
as a delicate compliment to Florence, of which no
man knowing the parties could possibly miss the
Stretched on a crimson cushion in his gallant
bark, with his shoes in the air, Mr. Toots, in the
exercise of his project, had come up the river day
after day, and week after week, and had flitted to
and fro, near Sir Barnet's garden, and had caused
his crew to cut across and across the river at sharp
angles, for his better exhibition to any lookers-out
from Sir Barnet's windows, and had had such evolu-
tions performed by the Toots's Joy as had filled all
the neighboring part of the water-side with astonish-
ment. But, whenever he saw any one in Sir
Barnet's garden on the brink of the river, Mr.
Toots always feigned to be passing there by a com-
bination of coincidences of the most singular and
" How are you, Toots ? " Sir Barnet would say,
waving his hand from the lawn, while the artful
Chicken steered close in shore.
" How de do. Sir Barnet ? " Mr. Toots would
answer. "What a surprising thing that I should
see you here ! "
Mr. Toots, in his sagacity, always said this, as if, in-
stead of that being Sir Barnet's house, it were some
deserted edifice on the banks of the IS'ile or Ganges.
174 DOMBEY AND SON.
" I never was so surprised ! " Mr. Toots would
exclaim, â " Is Miss Dombey there ? "
Whereupon Florence would appear, perhaps.
" Oh, Diogenes is quite well, Miss Dombey," Mr.
Toots would cry. " I called to ask this morning."
" Thank you very much ! " the pleasant voice of
Florence would reply.
" Won't you come ashore. Toots ? " Sir Barnet
would say then, " Come ! you're in no hurry. Come
and see us."
" Oh, it's of no consequence, thank you ! " Mr.
Toots would blushingly rejoin, *'I thought Miss
Dombey might like to know, that's all, Good-
by ! " And poor Mr. Toots, who was dying to
accept the invitation, but hadn't the courage to do
it, signed to the Chicken with an aching heart, and
away went the Joy, cleaving the water like an
The Joy was lying in a state of extraordinary
splendor, at the garden steps, on the morning of
Florence's departure. When she went downstairs
to take leave, after her talk with Susan, she found
Mr. Toots awaiting her in the drawing-room.
" Oh, how de do. Miss Dombey ? " said the
stricken Toots, always dreadfully disconcerted when
the desire of his heart was gained, and he was speak-
ing to her. "Thank you, I'm very well indeed, I
hope you're the same ; so was Diogenes yesterday."
" You are very kind," said Florence.
" Thank you, it's of no consequence," retorted
Mr, Toots. " I thought perhaps you wouldn't mind,
in this fine weather, coming home by water. Miss
Dombey. There's plenty of room in the boat for
DOMBEY AND SON. 175
" I am very much obliged to you," said Florence,
hesitating. " I really am â but I would rather
" Oh, it's of no consequence," retorted Mr. Toots.
" Good-morning ! "
" Won't you wait and see Lady Skettles ? " asked
" Oh, no, thank you," returned Mr. Toots, " it's of
no consequence at all."
So shy was Mr. Toots on such occasions, and so
flurried ! But Lady Skettles entering at the moment,
Mr. Toots was suddenly seized with a passion for
asking her how she did, and hoping she was very
well ; nor could Mr. Toots by any possibility leave
off shaking hands with her until Sir Barnet ap-
peared : to whom he immediately clung with the
tenacity of desperation.
"We are losing to-day, Toots," said Sir Barnet,
turning towards Florence, " the light of our house, I
" Oh, it's of no conseq â I mean yes, to be
sure," faltered the embarrassed Toots. " Good-
morning ! "
Notwithstanding the emphatic nature of this
farewell, Mr, Toots, instead of going away, stood
leering about him vacantly. Florence, to relieve
him, bade adieu, with many thanks, to Lady Skettles,
and gave her arm to Sir Barnet.
" May I beg of you, my dear Miss Dombey," said
her host as he conducted her to the carriage, "to
present my best compliments to your dear papa ? "
It was distressing to Florence to receive the com-
mission, for she felt as if she were imposing on Sir
Barnet, by allowing him to believe that a kindness