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 sun-
dry 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 weather-
DOMBEY AND SON. 255
cock 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 rain-drops 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-parlor, 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 vapor 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 patter-
ing, against the closed shutters, the captain brought
to before the Wooden ]\Iidshipmanupon the counter,
and thought, as he dried the little oflScer's uniform
256 DOMBEY AND SON.
with his sleeve, how many years the Midshipman
had seen, during which few clianges ā hardly any
ā 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 were.
Here was the little society of the back-parlor
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 as 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 ; ā here the captain transferred his sleeve for
a moment from the Midshipman's uniform to his
own cheek; ā the familiar wig and buttons of Sol
Gills were a vision of the past; Eichard Whitting-
ton was knocked on the head ; and every plan and
project, in connection with the Midshipman, lay
drifting, without mast or rudder, on the waste of
As the captain, with a dejected face, stood re-
volving these thoughts, and polishing the Midship-
man, 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 Eob
DOMBEY AND SON. 257
The captain, with an abashed and guilty air,
immediately sneaked on tiptoe to the little parlor,
and locked himself in. Rob, opening the door,
would have parleyed with the visitor on the thresh-
old, 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-parlor with a most trans-
parent and utterly futile affectation of coming out
" 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, ā Mister
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 em-
barrassed, 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. 0. M., you know!"
. The captain, with responsive gravity and mystery,
258 DOMBEY Am) SON.
immediately waved his hook towards the little
parlor, 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 ex-
plained 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
" 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, /'ll call him in, Mr. Gills."
With that, Mr. Toots, repairing to the shop-door,
sent a peculiar whistle into the night, which pro-
duced 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,
DOMBEY AND SON. 259
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
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 cap-
tain returning then to the parlor, and taking their
seats before the fire, Mr. Toots began, ā
" Mr. Gills ā "
" Awast ! " said the captain. " My name's
Mr. Toots looked greatly disconcerted, while the
captain proceeded gravely, ā
" Cap'en Cuttle is my name, and England is my
nation, this here is my dwelling-place, and blessed
be creation ā Job," said the captain, as an index to
" Oh ! I couldn't see Mr. Gills, could I ? " said
Mr. Toots ; " because ā "
" 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, 'ā¢' old Sol, mind you ā
with your own eyes ā as you sit there ā you'd be
welcomer to me than a wind astarn to a ship be-
calmed. 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
260 DOMBEY AND SON.
that it was of no consequence at all. But he cor-
rected 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 ā if so be
to seek his nevy, or if so be along of being not
quite settled in his mind ā 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 ā "
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 warn't any help for it ? She
took to old Sol Gills, did that sweet creetur, with a
kindness, with a affability, with a ā 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 counte-
" And you come here from her ? " said the cap-
" I should think so," chuckled Mr. Toots.
"Then all I need observe is," said the captain,
" that you know a angel, and are chartered bi/ a
Mr. Toots instantly seized the captain's hand,
and requested the favor of his friendship.
*' Upon my word and honor," said Mr. Toots ear-
DOMBEY AND SON. 261
nestly, " 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 ā admirable in
his way ā the sharpest man, perhaps, in the world ;
there's not a move he isn't up to ; everybody says
so ā but I don't know ā he's not everything. So
she is an angel, captain. If there is an angel any-
where, it's Miss Dombey. That's what I've always
said. Eeally, 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 honor of that visit.
"Why, the fact is," replied Mr. Toots, "that it's
the young woman I come from. Not Miss Dom-
bey ā 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 neighborhood very
often ; and when I find myself there, why ā why,
" Nat'rally," observed the captain.
262 DOMBEY AND SON.
" Yes," said Mr. Toots. " I called this afternoon.
Upon my word and honor, I don't think it's possi-
ble to form an idea of the angel Miss Dombey was
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
" 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 Dom-
bey used to know ; and then she read the passage to
me. Very well. Then she said ā "Wait a min-
ute ; what was it she said, though ? "
Mr. Toots, endeavoring 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
" 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
DOIMBEY AND SON. 263
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 by ! " 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.
The captain making a sign in the affirmative, Mr.
Toots reads as follows, from the Shipping Intelli-
" ' Southampton. The bark 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 ' ā in such and such a lati-
tude, you know ā " 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 ! "
" ā Latitude," repeated Mr. Toots, with a startled
glance at the captain, " and longitude so-and-so, ā
' the lookout observed, half an hour before sunset,
some fragments of a wreck, drifting at about the
264 DOMBEY AND SON.
distance of a mile. The weather being clear, and
the bark 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 stern, 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 sur-
mises as to the fate of the missing vessel, the Son
and Heir, port of London, bound for Barbadoes,
are now set at rest for ever ; that she broke up in
the last hurricane ; and that every soul on board
Captain Cuttle, like all mankind, little knew how
much hope had survived within him under discour-
agement 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 mod-
est Mr. Toots like a man entranced ; then, suddenly
rising, and putting on his glazed hat, which, in his
visitor's honor, he had laid upon the table, the cap-
tain turned his back, and bent his head down on
the little chimney-piece.
" Oh, upon my word and honor," cried Mr.
Toots, whose tender heart was moved by the cap-
tain'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
DOMBEY AND SON. 265
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 ā "I ain't got none ā but some-
thing of what a father feels when he loses a son,
I feel in losing Wal'r. For why ? " said the cap-
tain. " Because it ain't one loss, but a round dozen.
Where's that there young schoolboy with the rosy
face and curly hair, that used to be as merry in this
here parlor, 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 beau-
tiful 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
knowed, 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,
266 DOMBEY AND SON.
* Take care of my "uncle ! ' What came over you,
Sol, -when you went and gave the go-by 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 knowed 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 conscious-
ness 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
p'ints. It's entered on the ship's log, and that's the
truest book as a man can write. To-morrow morn-
ing," 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 hand-
kerchief in again, with the indifference of deep
" 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 ā I mean Mr. Cuttle ? "
" Why, Lord love you," returned the captain, with
something of compassion for Mr. Toots's innocence,
DOMBEY AND SON. 267
" 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 honor," cried Mr. Toots,
blurting out his words through a singular combina-
tion of awkward chuckles and emotion, " I'm even
more sorry than I was before. You know. Captain
Gills, I ā I positively adore Miss Dombey ; ā I ā I
am perfectly sore with loving her ; " the burst with
which this confession forced itself out of the un-
happy Mr. Toots bespoke the vehemence of his feel-
ings ; " 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 aifection, 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 ā or trampled upon ā or ā or thrown
off a very high place ā or anything of that sort ā
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 feel-
ings, 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.
268 DOMBEY AND SON.
"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 Dom-
bey, 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 favor as he took leave of Mr.
Toots ; but followed his patron without being other-
wise demonstrative of his ill-will : leaving the cap-
tain oppressed with sorrow ; and Rob the Grinder
elevated with joy, on account of having had the
honor of staring for nearly half an hour at the con-
queror 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 cap-
tain 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
DOMBEY AND SON. 269
the captain rose up in the morning sorrowful and
As soon as the City offices were open, the captain
issued forth to the counting-house of Dombey and
Son. But there was no opening of the Midship-
man'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. Receiv-
ing 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 keep-
ing 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 pen-
knife, 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 un-