opened letters lying on his desk, and took up the
270 DOMBEY AND SON.
"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 ā "
"Come, come, Captain Cuttle," interposed the
smiling manager, " don't talk about disastrous voy-
ages 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, cap-
tain, 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 ā are you ? Fie, cap-
tain ! Sleep, and soda water, are the best cures for
such uneasiness as that."
"My lad," returned the captain slowly, ā "you
are a'most a lad to me, and so I don't ask your par-
don for that slip of a word, ā if you find any pleas-
ure in this here sport, you ain't the gentleman I took
you for, and if you ain't the gentleman I took you
for, maybe my mind has call to be uneasy. Now
this is what it is, Mr. Carker. ā 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 promo-
tion, he knowed. It was my belief that he was
wrong, and I told him so, and I come here, your
DOIMBEY AND SON. 271
head governor being absent, to ask a question or
two of you in a civil way, for my own satisfaction.
Them questions you answered ā 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 ā for
which, as a scholar, you'll overhaul the book it's in,
and thereof make a note ā 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 h'isted of it for Barbadoes Harbor.
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
" 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
" I tell you what, Captain Cuttle," said the man-
ager, 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.
272 DOlSrBEY AND SON.
In my desire to save young what's-lils-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,
" Go," said the good-humored manager, gathering
up his skirts, and standing astride upon the hearth-
rug, ** like a sensible fellow, and let us have no turn-
ing 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 under-
stand 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 imme-
diately concern himself ; " but you are not quite out
of soundings, either ā 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 him-
self 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 show-
ing his teeth any the less : " but it's a bold measure
DOMBEY AND SON. 273
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
" 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
neighbors, 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
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
274 DOMBEY AND SON.
as his on the day when they tapped the famous last
bottle but one of the old madeira, in the little back-
parlor. The association 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 cap-
tain'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
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 re-
proached 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, think-
ing 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 him.
But the captain was not unmindful, for all that,
DOMBEY AND SON 275
of such decent and respectful obserrances in memory
of poor Walter as he felt within his power. Rous-
ing 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 ā 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 use-
fulness, as well as for a happy blending of the mari-
ner with the coal-heaver ; which is usually termed a
sou'-wester ; and which was something of a novelty
in connection with the instrument business. In their
several garments, which the vender 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 them-
selves : 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 gently to
the young lady, and for neither of 'em never to think
of me no more ā 'special, mind you, that is ā though
I will think of them, when night comes on a hurri-
cane and seas is mountains rowling, for which over-
haul your Doctor Watts, brother, and when found
make a note on."
276 DOMBEY AND SON.
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 like-
wise incidentally commended, Eob did not blush
to hear the captain earnest in his praises, but sat
staring at him, and affecting to snivel with sym-
pathy, 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 ā
he had felt it appropriate to take to spectacles on
entering into the Instrument Trade, though his eyes
were like a hawk's ā and opened the Prayer-book at
the Burial Service. And reading softly to himself,
in the little back-parlor, and stopping now and then
to wipe his eyes, the captain, in a true and simple
spirit, committed Walter's body to the deep.
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 coun-
try 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 veranda 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 colors, excel-
lently blended, meet the eye at every turn ; in the
furniture ā its proportions admirably devised to suit
the shapes and sizes of the small rooms ; on the walls ;
upon the floors ; tinging and subduing the light that
comes in through the odd glass doors and windows
here and there. There are a few choice prints and
278 DOMBEY AND SON.
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 ā 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 ā mere
shows of form and color ā 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 com-
panions 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 walk-
ing, 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, cer-
tainly," says he.
DOMBEY AND SON. 279
Perhaps it is a Juno ; perhaps a Potiphar's wife ;
perhaps some scornful nymph ā according as the
picture-dealers found the market when they chris-
tened 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
It is like Edith.
With a passing gesture of his hand at the picture
ā 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 ā he resumes his breakfast, and calls to the
chafing and imprisoned bird, who, coming down into
a pendent 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 way-
farers 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 neighborhood 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 briek-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
280 DOMBEY AND SON.
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 main-
tained, 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 ā 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 had 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 ā this slight, small,
patient figure, leaning on the man still young, but
worn and gray, is she his sister, who, of all the
DOMBEY AND SON. 281
world, went over to him in his shame, and put her
hand in his, and with a sweet composure and deter-
mination, 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
ā it's a fancy ā 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
" 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
" 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."
282 DOMBEY AND SON.
" Designedly, Heaven knows I would not," lie re-
plied, shaking his head mournfully : " but his repu-
tation was too precious to be perilled by such asso-
ciation. Whether you share that knowledge, or do
not, my dear ā "
" 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-by, dear John ! In the evening, at the
old time and place, I shall meet you as usual on
your way home. Good-by."
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 ā though serene and calm as
any radiant cloud at sunset ā 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 meadoAv, 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 ā as once or twice he did ā 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.
DOMBEY AND SON. 283
Her pensive form was not long idle at the door.
There was daily duty to discharge, and daily work
to do ā for such commonplace spirits, that are not
heroic, often work hard with their hands ā 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 thought-
fully to buy some necessaries for their table, plan-
ning and contriving, as she went, how to save. So
sordid are the lives of such low 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 ! ā¢
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-humored.
His eyebrows were still black, and so was much of
his hair; the sprinkling of gray observable among
the latter graced the former very much, and showed
his broad frank brow and honest eyes to great
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 musi-
cian ; and the extraordinary satisfaction be derived
from humming something very slow and long, which
had no recognizable tune, seemed to denote that he
was a scientific one.
284 DOMBEY AND SON.
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
" 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 parlor. The
gentleman sat down there, drew his chair to the
table over against her, and said, in a voice that per-
fectly corresponded to his appearance, and with a
simplicity that was very engaging, ā
" Miss Harriet, you cannot be proud. You signi-
fied 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 contra-
dicts 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 return-
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 gen-
DOMBEY AND SON. 285
tleman, "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
" 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
" For yourself," he said.
" For myself."
" But ā pardon me ā " 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 ā not that it was less composed and
quiet, but that there was a deep impassioned ear-