osopher immediately despatched a letter by post,
enjoining inviolable secrecy as to his place of resi-
dence, and requesting to be favored with an early
visit in the evening season.
Bunsby, who was one of those sages who act upon
conviction, took some days to get the conviction
thoroughly into his mind, that he had received a
letter to this effect. But, when he had grappled
with the fact and mastered it, he promptly sent his
boy with the message, "He's a-coming to-night."
Who, being instructed to deliver those words and
disappear, fulfilled his mission like a tarry spirit
charged with a mysterious warning.
The captain, well pleased to receive it, made prep-
aration of pipes and rum and water, and awaited his
visitor in the back-parlor. At the hour of eight, a
deep lowing, as of a nautical bull, outside the shop-
door, succeeded by the knocking of a stick on the
panel, announced to the listening ear of Captain
Cuttle that Bunsby was alongside ; whom he in-
stantly admitted, shaggy and loose, and with his
stolid mahogany visage, as usual, appearing to have
no consciousness of anything before it, but to be
398 DOIMBEY AND SON.
attentively observing something that was taking
place in quite another part of the world.
" Bunsby," said the captain, grasping him by the
hand, " what cheer, my lad, what cheer ? "
" Shipmet," replied the voice within Bunsby, un-
accompanied by any sign on the part of the com-
mander himself, " hearty, hearty."
" Bunsby ! " said the captain, rendering irrepres-
sible homage to his genius, " here you are ! a man
as can give an opinion as is brighter than di'monds
â€” and give me the lad with the tarry trousers as
shines to me like di'monds bright, for which you'll
overhaul the Stanfell's Budget, and when found
make a note. Here you are, a man as gave an
opinion in this here very place, that has come
true, every letter on it," which the captain sin-
" Ay, ay ! " growled Bunsby.
"Every letter," said the captain.
" For why ? " growled Bunsby, looking at his
friend for the first time. " Which way ? If so,
why not ? Therefore."
With these oracular words â€” they seemed almost
to make the captain giddy ; they launched him upon
such a sea of speculation and conjecture â€” the sage
submitted to be helped off with his pilot coat, and
accompanied his friend into the back-parlor, where
his hand presently alighted on the rum-bottle, from
which he brewed a stiff glass of grog ; and presently
afterwards on a pipe, which he filled, lighted, and
began to smoke.
Captain Cuttle, imitating his visitor in the mat-
ter of these particulars, though the rapt and imper-
turbable manner of the great commander was far
DOMBEY AND SON. 399
above his powers, sat in the opposite corner of the
fireside, observing him respectfully, and as if he
waited for some encouragement or expression of
curiosity on Bunsby's part which should lead him
to his own affairs. But as the mahogany philoso-
pher gave no evidence of being sentient of anything
but warmth and tobacco, except once, when, taking
his pipe from his lips to make room for his glass,
he incidentally remarked, with exceeding gruffness,
that his name was Jack Bunsby â€” a declaration that
presented but small opening for conversation â€” the
captain, bespeaking his attention in a short compli-
mentary exordium, narrated the whole history of
Uncle Sol's departure, with the change it had pro-
duced in his own life and fortunes ; and concluded
by placing the packet on the table.
After a long pause Mr. Bunsby nodded his head.
" Open ? " said the captain.
Bunsby nodded again.
The captain accordingly broke the seal, and dis-
closed to view two folded papers, of which he sev-
erally read the indorsements, thus : " Last Will
and Testament of Solomon Gills." "Letter for
Bunsby, with his eye on the coast of Green-
land, seemed to listen for the contents. The cap-
tain therefore hemmed to clear his throat, and read
the letter aloud.
" ' My dear Ned Cuttle. When I left home for
the West Indies â€” '"
Here the captain stopped, and looked hard at
Bunsby, who looked fixedly at the coast of Green-
"' â€” In forlorn search of intelligence of my dear
400 DOMBEY AND SON.
boy, I knew that, if you were acquainted with my
design, you would thwart it, or accompany me ; and
therefore I kept it secret. If you ever read this
letter, Ned, I am likely to be dead. You will easily
forgive an old friend's folly then, and will feel for
the restlessness and uncertainty in which he wan-
dered away on such a wild voyage. So no more of
that. I have little hope that my poor boy will ever
read these words, or gladden your eyes with the sight
of his frank face any more.' No, no ; no more," said
Captain Cuttle, sorrowfully meditating ; " no more.
There he lays, all his days â€” "
Mr. Bunsby, who had a musical ear, suddenly bel-
lowed, " In the Bays of Biscay, O ! " which so affected
the good captain, as an appropriate tribute to de-
parted worth, that he shook him by the hand in
acknowledgment, and was fain to wipe his eyes.
" Well, well ! " said the captain with a sigh, as the
lament of Bunsby ceased to ring and vibrate in the
skylight. " Affliction sore, long time he bore, and
let us overhaul the wollume, and there find it."
"Physicians," observed Bunsby, "was in vain,"
" Ay, ay, to be sure," said the captain ; " what's
the good o' them in two or three hundred fathom
o' water ? " Then, returning to the letter, he read
on : â€” " ' But if he should be by when it is opened ; ' "
the captain involuntarily looked round, and shook
his head ; " ' or should know of it at any other
time ; ' " the captain shook his head again ; " ' my
blessing on him ! In case the accompanying paper
is not legally written, it matters very little, for
there is no one interested but you and he, and my
plain wish is, that if he is living he should have
what little there may be, and if (as I fear) other-
DOMBEY AND SON. 401
wise, that you should have it, Ned. You will respect
my wish, I know. God bless you for it, and for
all your friendliness, besides, to Solomon Gills.'
Bunsby ! " said the captain, appealing to him sol-
emnly, "what do you make of this? There you
sit, a man as has had his head broke from infancy
up'ards, and has got a new opinion into it at every
seam as has been opened. Now, what do you make
o' this ? "
*' If so be," returned Bunsby with unusual prompt-
itude, "as he's dead, my opinion is he won't come
back no more. If so be as he's alive, my opinion
is he will. Do I say he will? No. Why not?
Because the bearings of this obserwation lays in
the application on it."
" Bunsby ! " said Captain Cuttle, who would seem
to have estimated the value of his distinguished
friend's opinions in proportion to the immensity of
the difficulty he experienced in making anything
out of them ; " Bunsby," said the captain, quite con-
founded by admiration, "you carry a weight of mind
easy, as would swamp one of my tonnage soon.
But, in regard o' this here will, I don't mean to take
no steps towards the property â€” Lord forbid ! â€”
except to keep it for a more rightful owner ; and I
hope yet as the rightful owner, Sol Gills, is living
and'U come back, strange as it is that he ain't for-
warded no despatches. Now, what is your opinion,
Bunsby, as to stowing of these here papers av-^ay
again, and marking outside as they was opened,
such a day, in presence of John Bunsby and Ed'ard
Cuttle ? "
Bunsby, descrying no objection, on the coast of
Greenland or elsewhere, to this proposal, it was
402 DOMBEY AND SON.
carried into execution ; and that great man, bringing
his eye into the present for a moment, affixed his
sign-manual to the cover, totally abstaining, with
characteristic modesty, from the use of capital let-
ters. Captain Cuttle, having attached his own left-
handed signature, and locked up the packet in the
iron safe, entreated his guest to mix another glass
and smoke another pipe ; and doing the like himself,
fell a-musing over the fire on the possible fortunes
of the poor old instrument-maker.
And now a surprise occurred, so overwhelming and
terrific that Captain Cuttle, unsupported by the
presence of Bunsby, must have sunk beneath it, and
been a lost man from that fatal hour.
How the captain, even in the satisfaction of admit-
ting such a guest, could have only shut the door and
not locked it, of which negligence he was undoubt-
edly guilty, is one of those questions that must for
ever remain mere points of speculation, or vague
charges against destiny. But, by that unlocked
door, at this quiet moment, did the fell MacStinger
dash into the parlor, bringing Alexander MacStinger
in her parental arms, and confusion and vengeance
(not to mention Juliana MacStinger, and the sweet
child's brother, Charles MacStinger, popularly known
about the scenes of his youthful sports as Chowley)
in her train. She came so swiftly and so silently,
like a rushing air from the neighborhood of the
East India Docks, that Captain Cuttle found him-
self in the very act of sitting looking at her, before
the calm face with which he had been meditating
changed to one of horror and dismay.
But, the moment Captain Cuttle understood the
full extent of his misfortune, self-preservation die-
DOMBEY AND SON. 403
tated an attempt at flight. Darting at the little
door which opened from the parlor on the steep
little range of cellar steps, the captain made a rush,
head foremost, at the latter, like a man indifferent
to bruises and contusions, who only sought to hide
himself in the bowels of the earth. In this gallant
effort he would probably have succeeded, but for the
affectionate dispositions of Juliana and Chowley,
who, pinning him by the legs â€” one of those dear
children holding on to each â€” claimed him as their
friend, with lamentable cries. In the meantime,
Mrs. MacStinger, who never entered upon any action
of importance without previously inverting Alex-
ander MacStinger, to bring him within the range
of a brisk battery of slaps, and then sitting him
down to cool as the reader first beheld him, per-
formed that solemn rite, as if on this occasion it
were a sacrifice to the Furies ; and having deposited
the victim on the floor, made at the captain with
a strength of purpose that appeared to threaten
scratches to the interposing Bunsby.
The cries of the two elder ?Â»LacStingers, and the
wailing of young Alexander, who may be said to
have passed a piebald childhood, forasmuch as he
was black in the face during one-half of that fairy
period of existence, combined to make this visita-
tion the more awful. But when silence reigned
again, and the captain, in a violent perspiration,
stood meekly looking at Mrs. MacStinger, its terrors
were at their height.
"Oh, Cap'en Cuttle, Cap'en Cuttle!" said Mrs.
MacStinger, making her chin rigid, and shaking it
in unison with what, but for the weakness of her
sex, might be described as her nst. " Oh, Cap'ea
404 DOMBEY AND SON.
Cuttle, Cap'en Cuttle, do you dare to look me in the
face, and not be struck down in the herth ? "
The captain, who looked anything but daring,
feebly muttered, " Stand by ! "
" Oh, I was a weak and trusting fool when I took
you under my roof, Cap'en Cuttle, I was ! " cried
Mrs. MacStinger. "To think of the benefits I've
showered on that man, and the way in which I
brought my children up to love and Aonor him as if
he was a father to 'era, when there ain't a 'ouse-
keeper, no, nor a lodger in our street, don't know
that I lost money by that man, and by his guzzlings
and his muzzlings " â€” Mrs. MacStinger used the last
word for the joint sake of alliteration and aggrava-
tion, rather than for the expression of any idea â€”
" and when they cried out one and all, shame upon
him for putting upon an industrious woman, up
early and late for the good of her j'oung family,
and keeping her poor place so clean that a individual
might have ate his dinner, yes, and his tea too, if
he was so disposed, off any one of the floors or stairs,
in spite of all his guzzlings a7id his muzzlings, such
was the care and pains bestowed upon him ! "
Mrs. MacStinger stopped to fetch her breath ; and
her face flushed with triumph in this second happy
introduction of Captain Cuttle's muzzlings.
" And he runs awa-a-a-ay ! " cried Mrs. MacStinger,
with a lengthening out of the last syllable that made
the unfortunate captain regard himself as the mean-
est of men ; "and keeps away a twelvemonth ! From
a woman ! Sitch is his conscience ! He hasn't the
courage to meet her hi-i-i-igh ; " long syllable again ;
" but steals away like a felion. Why, if that baby
of mine," said Mrs. MacStinger with sudden rapid-
DOMBEY AND SON. 405
ity, " was to offer to go and steal away, I'd do my
duty as a mother by him, till he was covered with
wales ! "
The yoiing Alexander, interpreting this into a
positive promise, to be shortly redeemed, tumbled
over with fear and grief, and lay upon the floor,
exhibiting the soles of his shoes, and making such
a deafening outcry, that Mrs. MacStinger found it
necessary to take him up in her arms, where she
quieted him, ever and anon, as he broke out again,
by a shake that seemed enough to loosen his teeth.
" A pretty sort of a man is Cap'en Cuttle," said
Mrs. MacStinger, with a sharp stress on the first
syllable of the captain's name, "to take on for â€”
and to lose sleep for, and to faint along of â€” and to
think dead forsooth â€” and to go up and down the
blessed town like a madwoman, asking questions
after ! Oh, a pretty sort of a man ! Ha, ha, ha, ha !
He's worth all that trouble and distress of mind,
and much more. That's nothing, bless you ! Ha,
ha, ha, ha ! Cap'en Cuttle," said Mrs. MacStinger,
with severe reaction in her voice and manner, " I
wish to know if you're a-coming home ? "
The frightened captain looked into his hat, as if
he saw nothing for it but to put it on, and give
" Cap'en Cuttle," repeated Mrs. MacStinger in the
same determined manner, " I wish to know if you're
a-coming home, sir ? "
The captain seemed quite ready to go, but faintly
suggested something to the effect of "not making
so much nise about it."
" Ay, ay, ay ! " said Bunsby in a soothing tone.
" Awast, my lass, awast ! "
406 DOMBEY AND SON.
" And who may you be, if you please ? " retorted
Mrs. MacStinger with chaste loftiness. " Did you
ever lodge at dumber Nine, Brig Place, sir ? My
memory may be bad, but not with me, I think.
There was a Mrs. Jollson lived at Number Nine
before me, and perhaps you're mistaking me for her.
That is my only ways of accounting for your
** Come, come, my lass, awast, awast ! " said
Captain Cuttle could hardly believe it, even of
this great man, though he saw it done with his
waking eyes ; but Bunsby, advancing boldly, put
his shaggy blue arm round Mrs. MacStinger, and so
softened her by his magic way of doing it, and by
these few words â€” he said no more â€” that she
melted into tears after looking upon him for a few
moments, and observed that a child might conquer
her now, she was so low in her courage.
Speechless and utterly amazed, the captain saw
him gradually persuade this inexorable woman into
the shop, return for rum and water and a candle,
take them to her, and pacify her without appearing
to utter one word. Presently he looked in with his
pilot coat on, and said, " Cuttle, I'm a-going to act
as convoy home ; " and Captain Cuttle, more to his
confusion than if he had been put in irons himself
for safe transport to Brig Place, saw the family
pacifically filing off, with Mrs. MacStinger at their
head. He had scarcely time to take down his canis-
ter, and stealthily convey some money into the
hands of Juliana MacStinger, his former favorite,
and Chowley, who had the claim upon him that he
was naturally of a maritime build, before the Mid-
DOMBEY AND SON. 407
shipraan was abandoned by them all ; and Bimsby,
whispering that he'd carry on smart, and hail Ned
Cuttle again before he went aboard, shut the door
upon himself, as the last member of the party.
Some uneasy ideas that he must be walking in his
sleep, or that he had been troubled with phantoms,
and not a family of flesh and blood, beset the cap-
tain at first, when he went back to the little parlor,
and found himself alone. Illimitable faith in, and
immeasurable admiration of, the commander of the
Cautious Clara, succeeded, and threw the captain
into a wondering trance.
Still, as time wore on, and Bunsby failed to
reappear, the captain began to entertain uncomfort-
able doubts of another kind. Whether Bunsby had
been artfully decoyed to Brig Place, and was there
detained in safe custody as hostage for his friend ;
in which case it would become the captain, as a man
of honor, to release him by the sacrifice of his own
liberty. Whether he had been attacked and
defeated by Mrs. MacStinger, and was ashamed to
show himself after his discomfiture. Whether ]\Irs.
MacStinger, thinking better of it, in the uncer-
tainty of her temper, had turned back to board the
Midshipman again, and Bunsby, pretending to con-
duct her by a short cut, was endeavoring to lose the
family amid the wilds and savage places of the
city. Above all, what it would behoove him, Captain
Cuttle, to do, in case of his hearing no move, either
of the MacStingers or of Bunsby, which, in these
wonderful and unforeseen conjunctions of events,
might possibly happen.
He debated all this until he was tired ; and still
no Bunsby. He made up his bed under the counter,
408 DOMBEY AND SON.
all ready for turning in ; still no Bunsby. At
length, when the captain had given him up, for that
night, at least, and had begun to undress, the sound
of approaching wheels was heard, and, stopping at
the door, was succeeded by Bunsby's hail.
The captain trembled to think that Mrs. Mac-
Stinger was not to be got rid of and had been
brought back in a coach.
But no. Bunsby was accompanied by nothing
but a large box, which he hauled into the shop with
his own hands, and as soon as he had hauled in, sat
upon. Captain Cuttle knew it for the chest he had
left at Mrs. MacStinger's house, and looking,
candle in hand, at Bunsby more attentively, believed
that he was three sheets in the wind, or, in plain
words, drunk. It was difficult, however, to be sure
of this ; the commander having no trace of expres-
sion in his face when sober.
" Cuttle," said the commander, getting off the
chest, and opening the lid, "are these here your
traps ? "
Captain Cuttle looked in and identified his
" Done pretty taut and trim, hey, shipmet ? "
The grateful and bewildered captain grasped him
by the hand, and was launching into a reply expres-
sive of his astonished feelings, when Bunsby disen-
gaged himself by a jerk of his wrist, and seemed
to make an effort to wink with his revolving eye,
the only effect of which attempt, in his condition,
was nearly to overbalance him. He then abruptly
opened the door, and shot away to rejoin the
Cautious Clara with all speed â€” supposed to be his
DOMBEY AND SON. 409
invariable custom, whenever lie considered he had
made a point.
As it was not his humor to be often sought, Cap-
tain Cuttle decided not to go or send to him next
day, or until he should make his gracious pleasure
known in such wise, or, failing that, until some lit-
tle time should have elapsed. The captain, there-
fore, renewed his solitary life next morning, and
thought profoundly, many mornings, noons, and
nights, of old Sol Gills, and Bunsby's sentiments
concerning him, and the hopes thei-e were of his
return. ]\Iuch of such thinking strengthened Cap-
tain Cuttle's hopes ; and he humored them and
hiinself by watching for the instrument-maker at
the door, as he ventured to do now, in his strange
liberty â€” and setting his chair in its place, and
arranging the little parlor as it used to be, in case
he should come home unexpectedly. He likewise,
in his thoughtfulness, took down a certain little
miniature of Walter as a schoolboy from its ac-
customed nail, lest it should shock the old man on
his return. The captain had his presentiments, too,
sometimes, that he would come on such a day ; and
one particular Sunday, even ordered a double allow-
ance of dinner, he was so sanguine. But come old
Solomon did not. And still the neighbors noticed
how the seafaring man in the glazed hat stood at
the shop-door of an evening, looking up and down
It was not in the nature of things that a man of
Mr. Dombey's mood, opposed to such a spirit as he
had raised against himself, should be softened in
the imperious asperity of his temper ; or that the
cold, hard armor of pride, in which he lived encased,
should be made more flexible by constant collision
with haughty scorn and defiance. It is the curse of
such a nature â€” it is a main part of the heavy retri-
bution on itself it bears within itself â€” that while
deference and concession swell its evil qualities, and
are the food it grows upon, resistance, and a ques-
tioning of its exacting claims, foster it too, no less.
The evil that is in it finds equally its means of
growth and propagation in opposites. It draws
support and life from sweets and bitters : bowed
down before, or unacknowledged, it still enslaves
the breast in which it has its throne ; and, wor-
shipped or rejected, is as hard a master as the Devil
in dark fables.
Towards his first wife, Mr. Dombey, in his cold
and lofty arrogance, had borne himself like the
removed being he almost conceived himself to be.
He had been " Mr. Dombey " with her when she
DOMBEY AND SON. 411
first saw him, and he was " Mr. Dombey " when she
died. He had asserted his greatness during their
whole married life, and she had meekly recognized
it. He had kept his distant seat of state on the top
of his throne, and she her humble station on its
lowest step ; and much good it had done him, so to
live in solitary bondage to his one idea. He had
imagined that the proud character of his second
wife would have been added to his own â€” would
have merged into it, and exalted his greatness. He
had pictured himself haughtier than ever, with
Edith's haughtiness subservient to his. He had
never entertained the possibility of its arraying
itself against him. And now, when he found it
rising in his path at every step and turn of his
daily life, fixing its cold, defiant, and contemptuous
face upon him, this pride of his, instead of wither-
ing, or hanging down its head beneath the shock,
put forth new shoots, became more concentrated and
intense, more gloomy, sullen, irksome, and unyield-
ing, than it had ever been before.
Who wears such armor, too, bears with him ever
another heavy retribution. It is of proof against
conciliation, love, and confidence ; against all gentle
sympathy from without, all trust, all tenderness, all
soft emotion ; but, to deep stabs in the self-love, it
is as vulnerable as the bare breast to steel ; and such
tormenting festers rankle there as follow on no other
wounds, no, though dealt with the mailed hand of
pride itself, on weaker pride, disarmed and thrown
Such wounds were his. He felt them sharply, in
the solitude of his old rooms ; whither he now began
often to retire again, and pass long solitary hours.
412 DOMBEY AND SON.
It seemed his fate to be ever proud and powerful ;
ever humbled and powerless where he would be
most strong. Who seemed fated to work out that
Who ? Who was it who could win his wife as she
had won his boy ? Who was it who had shown him
that new victory, as he sat in the dark corner ? Who
was it whose least word did what his utmost means
could not ? Who was it who, unaided by his love,
regard, or notice, thrived and grew beautiful when
those so aided died ? Who could it be, but the
same child at whom he had often glanced uneasily
in her motherless infancy, with a kind of dread lest
he might come to hate her ; and of whom his fore-
boding was fulfilled, for he did hate her in his
Yes, and he would have it hatred, and he made it
hatred, though some sparkles of the light in which
she had appeared before him, on the memorable
night of his return home with his bride, occasionally
hung about her still. He knew now that she was
beautiful ; he did not dispute that she was graceful
and winning, and that in the bright dawn of her
womanhood she had come upon him, a surprise.