not knowing the game, sat down to watch them for
his edification until Edith should return.
" We are going to have some music, Mr. Dombey,
I hope ? " said Cleopatra.
"Mrs. Granger has been kind enough to promise
so," said Mr. Dombey.
"Ah ! That's very nice. Do you propose, major ? "
" No, ma'am," said the major. " Couldn't do it."
"You're a barbarous being," replied the lady,
16 DOMBEY AKD SON.
" and my hand's destroyed. You are fond of music,
" Eminently so," was Mr. Dombey's answer.
" Yes. It's very nice," said Cleopatra, looking at
her cards. "So much heart in it — undeveloped
recollections of a previous state of existence — and
all that — which is so truly charming. Do you
know," simpered Cleopatra, reversing the knave of
clubs, who had come into her game with his heels
uppermost, "that if anything could tempt me to
put a period to my life, it would be curiosity to find
out what it's all about, and what it means ; there
are so many provoking mysteries, really, that are
hidden from us. Major, you to play ! "
The major played ; and Mr. Dombey, looking on
for his instruction, would soon have been in a state
of dire confusion, but that he gave no attention to
the game whatever, and sat wondering instead when
Edith would come back.
She came at last, and sat down to her harp, and
Mr. Dombey rose and stood beside her, listening.
He had little taste for music, and no knowledge of
the strain she played, but he saw her bending over
it, and perhaps he heard among the sounding strings
some distant music of his own, that tamed the mon-
ster of the iron road, and made it less inexorable.
Cleopatra had a sharp eye, verily, at piquet. It
glistened like a bird's, and did not fix itself upon
the game, but pierced the room from end to end,
and gleamed on harp, performer, listener, every-
When the haughty beauty had concluded, she
arose, and receiving Mr. Dombey's thanks and
compliments in exactly the same manner as before,
DOMBEY AND SON. 17
went, witli scarcely any pause, to the piano, and
Edith Granger, any song but that ! Edith Gran-
ger, you are very handsome, and your touch upon
the keys is brilliant, and your voice is deep and
rich ; but not the air that his neglected daughter
sang to his dead son !
Alas ! he knows it not ; and if he did, what airs
of hers would stir him, rigid man ? Sleep, lonely
Florence, sleep ! Peace in thy dreams, although
the night has turned dark, and the clouds are gath-
ering, and threaten to discharge themselves in hail !
A TRIFLE OF MANAGEMENT BY MB. CARKER THE
Mr. Cabker the manager sat at his desk, smooth
and soft as usual, reading those letters which were
reserved for him to open, backing them occasionally
with such memoranda and references as their busi-
ness purport required, and parcelling them out into
little heaps for distribution through the several
departments of the house. The post had come in
heavy that morning, and Mr. Carker the manager
had a good deal to do.
The general action of a man so engaged — paus-
ing to look over a bundle of papers in his hand,
dealing them round in various portions, taking up
another bundle and examining its contents with
knitted brows and pursed-out lips — dealing, and
sorting, and pondering by turns — would easily
suggest some whimsical resemblance to a player at
cards. The face of Mr. Carker the manager was in
good keeping with such a fancy. It was the face
of a man who studied his play warily ; who made
himself master of all the strong and weak points of
the game ; who registered the cards in his mind as
they fell about him, knew exactly what was on
DOMBEY AND SON. 19
them, what they missed, and what they made ; who
was crafty to find out what the other players held,
and who never betrayed his own hand.
The letters were in various languages, but Mr.
Carker the manager read them all. If there had
been anything in the offices of Dombey and Son
that he could not read, there would have been a card
wanting in the pack. He read almost at a glance,
and made combinations of one letter with another
and one business with another as he went on, add-
ing new matter to the heaps — much as a man would
know the cards at sight, and work out their combi-
nations in his mind after they were turned. Some-
thing too deep for a partner, and much too deep for
an adversary, Mr. Carker the manager sat in the
rays of the sun that came down slanting on him
through the skylight, playing his game alone.
And although it is not among the instincts, wild
or domestic, of the cat tribe to play at cards, feline
from sole to crown was Mr. Carker the manager, as
he basked in the strip of summer light and warmth
that shone upon his table and the ground as if they
were a crooked dial-plate, and himself the only fig-
ure on it. With hair and whiskers deficient in
color at all times, but feebler than common in the
rich sunshine, and more like the coat of a sandy tor-
toise-shell cat ; with long nails, nicely pared and
sharpened ; with a natural antipathy to any speck
of dirt, which made him pause sometimes and watch
the falling motes of dust, and rub them off his
smooth white hand or glossy linen : Mr. Carker the
manager, sly of manner, sharp of tooth, soft of foot,
watchful of eye, oily of tongue, cruel of heart, nice
of habit, sat with a dainty steadfastness and patience
20 DOMBEY ASD SON.
at his work, as if he were waiting at a mouse's
At length the letters were disposed of, excepting
one which he reserved for a particular audience.
Having locked the more confidential correspondence
in a drawer, Mr. Carker the manager rang his bell.
" Why do 7/ou answer it ? " was his reception of
" The messenger is out, and I am the next," was
the submissive reply.
" You are the next ? " muttered the manager.
" Yes ! Creditable to me ! There ! "
Pointing to the heaps of opened letters, he turned
disdainfully away in his elbow-chair, and broke the
seal of that one which he held in his hand.
"I am sorry to trouble you, James," said the
brother, gathering them up, " but — "
" Oh ! You have something to say. I knew that.
Well ? "
Mr. Carker the manager did not raise his eyes or
turn them on his brother, but kept them on his
letter, though without opening it.
" Well ? " he repeated sharply.
" I am uneasy about Harriet."
" Harriet who ? What Harriet ? I know nobody
of that name."
*' She is not well, and has changed very much of
"She changed very much a great many years
ago," replied the manager ; " and that is all I have
" I think if you would hear me — "
" Why should I hear you, Brother John ? " re-
turned the manager, laying a sarcastic emphasis on
DOMBEY AND SON. 21
those two words, and throwing up his head, but not
lifting his eyes. " I tell you, Harriet Carker made
her choice many years ago between her two brothers.
She may repent it, but she must abide by it."
*' Don't mistake me. I do not say she does repent
it. It would be black ingratitude in me to hint at
such a thing," returned the other. "Though, be-
lieve me, James, I am as sorry for her sacrifice as
" As I ? " exclaimed the manager. " As I ? "
" As sorry for her choice — for what you call her
choice — as you are angry at it," said the junior.
"Angry?" repeated the other, with a wide show
of his teeth.
" Displeased. Whatever word you like best.
You know my meaning. There is no offence in my
"There is offence in everything you do," re-
plied his brother, glancing at him with a sudden
scowl, which in a moment gave place to a wider
smile than the last. "Carry those papers away, if
you please. I am busy."
His politeness was so much more cutting than
his wrath, that the junior went to the door. But
stopping at it, and looking round, he said, —
"When Harriet tried in vain to plead for me
with you, on your first just indignation, and my
first disgrace ; and when she left you, James, to
follow my broken fortunes, and devote herself, in
her mistaken affection, to a ruined brother, because,
without her, he had no one, and was lost ; she was
young and pretty. I think if you could see her now
. — if you would go and see her — she would move
your admiration and compassion."
22 DOMBEY AND SON.
The manager inclined his head, and showed his
teeth, as who should say, in answer to some careless
small-talk, " Dear me ! Is that the case ? " but said
never a word.
" We thought in those days : you and I both :
that she would marry young, and lead a happy and
light-hearted life," pursued the other. '-'Oh, if
you knew how cheerfully she cast those hopes
away ; how cheerfully she has gone forward on the
path she took, and never once looked back ; you
never could say again that her name was strange in
your ears. Never ! "
Again the manager inclined his head, and showed
his teeth, and seemed to say, " Remarkable indeed !
You quite surprise me ! " And again he uttered
never a word.
" May I go on ? " said John Carker mildly,
" On your way ? " replied his smiling brother.
" If you will have the goodness."
John Carker, with a sigh, was passing slowly out
at the door, when his brother's voice detained him
for a moment on the threshold.
*' If she has gone and goes her own way cheer-
fully," he said, throwing the still unfolded letter on
his desk, and putting his hands firmly in his pock-
ets, " you may tell her that I go as cheerfully on
mine. If she has never once looked back, you may
tell her that I have, sometimes, to recall her taking
part with you, and that my resolution is no easier
to wear away " — he smiled very sweetly here —
"I tell her nothing of you. We never speak
about you. Once a year, on your birthday, Harriet
says always, ' Let us remember James by name, and
wish him happy,' but we say no more."
DOMBEY AND SON. 23
" Tell it, then, if you please," returned the other,
" to yourself. You can't repeat it too often, as a
lesson to you to avoid the subject in speaking to
me. I know no Harriet Carker. There is no such
person. You may have a sister : make much of her.
I have none."
Mr. Carker the manager took up the letter again,
and waved it with a smile of mock courtesy towards
the door. Unfolding it as his brother withdrew,
and looking darkly after him as he left the room, he
once more turned round in his elbow-chair, and
applied himself to a diligent perusal of its contents.
It was in the writing of his great chief, Mr. Dom-
bey, and dated from Leamington. Though he was
a quick reader of all other letters, Mr. Carker read
this slowly ; weighing the words as he went, and
bringing every tooth in his head to bear upon them.
When he had read it through once, he turned it over
again, and picked out these passages. " I find my-
self benefited by the change, and am not yet inclined
to name any time for my return." "I wish, Car-
ker, you would arrange to come down 'once and see
me here, and let me know how things are going on,
in person." "I omitted to speak to you about
young Gay. If not gone per Son and Heir, or if
Son and Heir still lying in the Docks, appoint some
other young man, and keep him in the City for the
present. I am not decided." "Now that's unfor-
tunate," said Mr. Carker the manager, expanding
his mouth, as if it were made of india-rubber : " for
he's far away ! "
Still that passage, which was in a postscript, at-
tracted his attention and his teeth once more.
" I think," he said, " my good friend Captain Cut-
24 DOMBEY AND SON.
tie mentioned something about being towed along
in the wake of that day. What a pity he's so far
away ! "
He refolded the letter, and was sitting trifling
with it, standing it long-wise and broad-wise on his
table, and turning it over and over on all sides —
doing pretty much the same thing, perhaps, by its
contents — when Mr. Perch the messenger knocked
softly at the door, and coming in on tiptoe, bending
his body at every step as if it were the delight of
his life to bow, laid some papers on the table.
" Would you please to be engaged, sir ? " asked
Mr. Perch, rubbing his hands, and deferentially put-
ting his head on one side, like a man who felt he
had no business to hold it up in such a presence,
and would keep it as much out of the way as
"Who wants me?"
" Why, sir," said Mr. Perch in a soft voice, " really
nobody, sir, to speak of at present. Mr. Gills, the
Ship's Instrument-maker, sir, has looked in about a
little matter of payment, he says ; but I mentioned
to him, sir, that you was engaged several deep ;
Mr. Perch coughed once behind his hand, and
waited for further orders.
" Anybody else ? "
" Well, sir," said Mr. Perch, " I wouldn't of my
own self take the liberty of mentioning, sir, that
there was anybody else ; but that same young lad
that was here yesterday, sir, and last week, has been
hanging about the place ; and it looks, sir," added
Mr. Perch, stopping to shut the door, "dreadful
unbusiness-like to see him whistling to the spar-
DOatBEY AND SON. 25
rows down the court, and making of 'em answer
" You said he wanted something to do, didn't you,
Perch ? " asked Mr. Carker, leaning back in his chair,
and looking at that officer.
"Why, sir," said Mr. Perch, coughing behind his
hand again, "his expression certainly were that he
was in wants of a sitiwation, and that he considered
something might be done for him about the Docks,
being used to fishing with a rod and line ; but — "
Mr. Perch shook his head very dubiously indeed.
" What does he say when he comes ? " asked
" Indeed, sir," said Mr. Perch, coughing another
cough behind his hand, which was always his
resource as an expression of humility when nothing
else occurred to him, " his observation generally air
that he would humbly wish to see one of the gentle-
men, and that he wants to earn a living. But you
see, sir," added Perch, dropping his voice to a whis-
per, and turning, in the inviolable nature of his
confidence, to give the door a thrust with his hand
and knee, as if that would shut it any more when it
was shut already, " it's hardly to be bore, sir, that a
common lad like that should come a-prowling here,
and saying that his mother nursed our House's
young gentleman, and that he hopes our House will
give him a chance on that account. I am sure, sir,"
observed Mr. Perch, " that although Mrs. Perch was
at that time nursing as thriving a little girl, sir, as
we've ever took the liberty of adding to our family,
I wouldn't have made so free as drop a hint of her
being capable of imparting nourishment, not if it
was ever so ! "
26 DOMBEY AND SON.
Mr. Carker grinned at him like a shark, but in an
absent, thoughtful manner.
"Whether," submitted Mr. Perch after a short
silence and another cough, " it mightn't be best for
me to tell him, that if he was seen here any more
he would be given into custody ; and to keep to it !
With respect to bodily fear," said Mr. Perch, "I'm
so timid, myself, by nature, sir, and my nerves is so
unstrung by Mrs. Perch's state, that I could take
my affidavit easy."
" Let me see this fellow. Perch," said Mr. Carker.
"Bring him in!"
"Yes, sir. Begging your pardon, sir," said Mr.
Perch, hesitating at the door, "he's rough, sir, in
" Never mind. If he's there, bring him in. I'll
see Mr. Gills directly. Ask him to wait ! "
Mr. Perch bowed ; and shutting the door as pre-
cisely and carefully as if he were not coming back
for a week, went on his quest among the sparrows
in the court. While he was gone Mr. Carker
assumed his favorite attitude before the fireplace,
and stood looking at the door ; presenting, with his
under lip tucked into the smile that showed his
whole row of upper teeth, a singularly crouching
The messenger was not long in returning, followed
by a pair of heavy boots that came bumping along
the passage like boxes. With the unceremonious
words, " Come along with you ! " — a very unusual
form of introduction from his lips — Mr. Perch then
ushered into the presence a strong-built lad of fifteen,
with a round red face, a round sleek head, round
black eyes, round limbs, and round body, who, to
DOMBEY AND SON. 27
carry out the general rotundity of his appearance,
had a round hat in his hand, without a particle of
brim to it.
Obedient to a nod from Mr. Carker, Perch had no
sooner confronted the visitor with that gentleman
than he Avithdrew. The moment they were face to
face alone, Mr. Carker, without a word of prepara-
tion, took him by the throat, and shook him until
his head seemed loose upon his shoulders.
The boy, who, in the midst of his astonishment,
could not help staring wildly at the gentleman with
so many white teeth, who was choking him, and at
the office walls, as though determined, if he were
choked, that his last look should be at the mysteries
for his intrusion into which he was paying such a
severe penalty, at last contrived to utter, —
" Come, sir ! You let me alone, will you ? "
" Let you alone ! " said Mr. Carker. " What ! I
have got you, have I ? " There was no doubt of
that, and tightly too. " You dog," said Mr. Carker,
through his set jaws, " I'll strangle you ! "
Biler whimpered. Would he, though ? Oh, no, he
wouldn't — and what was he doing of — and why
didn't he strangle somebody of his own size, and
not him? But Biler was quelled by the extraordi-
nary nature of his reception, and, as his head became
stationary, and he looked the gentleman in the face,
or rather in the teeth, and saw him snarling at him,
he so far forgot his manhood as to cry.
" I haven't done nothing to you, sir," said Biler,
otherwise Kob, otherwise Grinder, and always
" You young scoundrel ! " replied Mr. Carker,
slowly releasing him, and moving back a step into
28 DOMBEY AND SON.
his favorite position. " What do you mean by daring
to come here ? "
" I didn't mean no harm, sir," whimpered Rob,
putting one hand to his throat, and the knuckles of
the other to his eyes. " I'll never come again, sir.
I only wanted work."
" Work, young Cain that you are ! " repeated Mr.
Carker, eying him narrowly. " Ain't you the idlest
vagabond in London ? "
The impeachment, Avhile it much affected Mr.
Toodle junior, attached to his character so justly,
that he could not say a word in denial. He stood
looking at the gentleman, therefore, with a fright-
ened, self-convicted, and remorseful air. As to his
looking at him, it may be observed that he was
fascinated by Mr. Carker, and never took his round
eyes off him for an instant.
" Ain't you a thief ? " said Mr. Carker, with his
hands behind him in his pockets.
"No, sir," pleaded Eob.
" You are ! " said Mr. Carker.
" I ain't indeed, sir," whimpered Rob. " I never
did such a thing as thieve, sir, if you'll believe me.
I know I've been going wrong, sir, ever since I took
to bird-catching and walking-matching. I'm sure a
cove might think," said Mr. Toodle junior, with a
burst of penitence, " that singing birds was innocent
company, but nobody knows what harm is in them
little creeturs, and what they brings you down to."
They seemed to have brought him down to a
velveteen jacket and trousers very much the worse
for wear, a particularly small red waistcoat like a
gorget, an interval of blue check, and the hat before
DOilBEY A^TD SON. 29
"I ain't been home twenty times since them birds
got their will of me," said Eob, "and that's ten
months. How can I go home when everybody's
miserable to see me ? I wonder," said Biler, blub-
bering outright, and smearing his eyes with his coat-
cuff, "that I haven't been and drownded myself
over and over again."
All of which, including his expression of surprise
at not having achieved this last scarce performance,
the boy said just as if the teeth of Mr. Carker drew
it out of him, and he had no power of concealing
anything with that battery of attraction in full
" You're a nice young gentleman ! " said Mr.
Carker, shaking his head at him. "There's hemp
seed sown for you, my fine fellow ! "
" I'm sure, sir," returned the wretched Biler, blub-
bering again, and again having recourse to his coat-
cuff, " I shouldn't care, sometimes, if it was growed
too. My misfortunes all began in wagging, sir ;
but what could I do, exceptin' wag ? "
" Excepting what ? " said Mr. Carker.
" Wag, sir. "Wagging from school."
" Do you mean pretending to go there, and not
going ? " said Mr. Carker.
" Yes, sir, that's wagging, sir," returned the
quondam Grinder, much affected. " I was chivied
through the streets, sir, when I went there, and
pounded when I got there. So I wagged, and hid
myself, and that began it."
"And you mean to tell me," said iSlv. Carker,
taking him by the throat again, holding him out at
arm's length, and surveying him in silence for some
moments, " that you want a place, do you ? "
80 DOMBEY A2TD SOX.
"I should be thankful to be tried, sir," returned
Toodle junior faintly.
Mr. Carker the manager pushed him backwards
into a corner — the boy submitting quietly, hardly
venturing to breathe, and never once removing his
eyes from his face — and rang the bell.
" Tell Mr. Gills to come here."
Mr. Perch was too deferential to express surprise
or recognition of the figure in the corner : and Uncle
Sol appeared immediately.
''Mr. Gills!" said Carker with a smile, "sit
down. How do you do ? You continue to enjoy
your health, I hope ? "
" Thank you, sir," returned Uncle Sol, taking out
his pocket-book, and handing over some notes as he
spoke. ''Nothing ails me in body but old age.
Twenty -five, sir."
" You are as punctual and exact, Mr. Gills,"
replied the smiling manager, taking a paper from
one of his many drawers, and making an indorse-
ment on it, while Uncle Sol looked over him, "as
one of your own chronometers. Quite right."
"The Son and Heir has not been spoken, I find
by the list, sir," said Uncle Sol, with a slight addi-
tion to the usual tremor in his voice.
"The Son and Heir has not been spoken," re-
turned Carker. " There seems to have been tem-
pestuous weather, Mr. Gills, and she has probablj'
been driven out of her course."
" She is safe, I trust in Heaven ! " said old Sol.
" She is safe, I trust in Heaven ! " assented Mr.
Carker in that voiceless manner of his : which made
the observant young Toodle tremble again. "Mr.
Gills," he added aloud, throwing himself back in
DOMBEY AND SON. 31
his chair, "you must miss your nephew very
much ? "
Uncle Sol, standing by him, shook his head and
heaved a deep sigh.
"Mr. Gills," said Carker, with his soft hand
playing round his mouth, and looking up into the
instrument-maker's face, "it would be company to
you to have a young fellow in your shop just now,
and it would be obliging me if you would give one
house room for the present. No, to be sure," he
added quickly, in anticipation of what the old man
was going to say, " there's not much business doing
there, I know : but you can make him clean the
place out, polish up the instruments ; drudge, Mr.
Gills. That's the lad ! "
Sol Gills pulled down his spectacles from his
forehead to his eyes, and looked at Toodle junior
standing upright in the corner: his head presenting
the appearance (which it always did) of having been
newly drawn out of a bucket of cold water; his
small waistcoat rising and falling quickly in the
play of his emotions ; and his eyes intently fixed
on Mr. Carker, without the least reference to his
" Will you give him house room, Mr. Gills ? "
said the manager.
Old Sol, without being quite enthusiastic on the
subject, replied that he was glad of any opportu-
nity, however slight, to oblige Mr. Carker, whose
wish on such a point was a command : and that the
Wooden Midshipman would consider himself happy
to receive in his berth any visitor of Mr. Carker's
Mr. Carker bared himself to the tops and bottoms
82 DOMBEY AND SON.
of his gums : making the watchful Toodle junior
tremble more and more : and acknowledged the
instrument-maker's politeness in his most affable
"I'll dispose of him so, then, Mr. Gills," he
answered, rising, and shaking the old man by the
hand, "until I make up my mind what to do with
him, and what he deserves. As I consider myself
responsible for him, Mr. Gills," — here he smiled a
wide smile at Rob, who shook before it, — "I shall
be glad if you'll look sharply after him, and report