vation lays in the application on it. That ain't no
part of my duty. Awast then, keep a bright look-
out for'ard, and good luck to you ! "
The voice here went out of the back -parlor, and
into the street, taking the commander of the Cau-
tious Clara with it, and accompanying him on board
again with all convenient expedition, where he
immediately turned in, and refreshed his mind with
The students of the sage's precepts, left to their
DOMBEY AND SON. 79
own application of his wisdom — upon a principle
which was the main leg of the Bunsby tripod, as
it is perchance of some other oracular stools —
looked at one another in a little uncertainty ; while
Rob the Grinder, who had taken the innocent free-
dom of peering in, and listening, through the sky-
light in the roof, came softly down from the leads,
in a state of very dense confusion. Captain Cuttle,
however, whose admiration of Bunsby was, if pos-
sible, enhanced by the splendid manner in which he
had justified his reputation and come through this
solemn reference, proceeded to explain that Bunsby
meant nothing but confidence, that Bunsby had no
misgivings ; and that such an opinion as that man
had given, coming from such a mind as his, was
Hope's own anchor, and with good roads to cast it
in. Florence endeavored to believe that the captain
was right ; but the Nipper, with her arms tight
folded, shook her head in resolute denial, and had
no more trust in Bunsby than in Mr. Perch him-
The philosopher seemed to have left Uncle Sol
pretty much where he had found him, for he still
went roaming about the watery world, compasses in
hand, and discovering no rest for them. It was in
pursuance of a whisper in his ear from Florence,
while the old man was absorbed in this pursuit,
that Captain Cuttle laid his heavy hand upon his
" What cheer, Sol Gills ? " cried the captain
"But so-so, Ned," returned the instrument-maker.
" I have been remembering, all this afternoon, that
on the very day when my boy entered Dombey's
80 DOMBEY AND SON.
House, and came home late to dinner, sitting just
there where you stand, we talked of storm and
shipwreck, and I could hardly turn him from the
But meeting the eyes of Florence, which were
fixed with earnest scrutiny upon his face, the old
man stopped and smiled.
" Stand by, old friend ! " cried the captain. " Look
alive ! I tell you what, Sol Gills ; arter I've convoyed
Heart's Delight safe home " — here the captain kissed
his hook to Florence, — " I'll come back and take you
in tow for the rest of this blessed day. You'll come
and eat your dinner along with me, Sol, somewheres
" Not to-day, Ned ! " said the old man quickly, and
appearing to be unaccountably startled by the propo-
sition. " Not to-day. I couldn't do it ! "
" Why not ? " returned the captain, gazing at him
"I — I have so much to do. I — I mean to think
of, and arrange. I couldn't do it, Ned, indeed. I
must go out again, and be alone, and turn my mind
to many things to-day."
The captain looked at the instrument-maker, and
looked at Florence, and again at the instrument-
maker. *' To-morrow, then," he suggested at last.
" Yes, yes. To-morrow," said the old man.
" Think of me to-morrow. Say to-morrow."
" I shall come here early, mind, Sol Gills," stipu-
lated the captain.
" Yes, yes. The first thing to-morrow morning,"
said old Sol ; '' and now good-by, Ned Cuttle, and
God bless you ! "
Squeezing both the captain's hands with uncom-
DOMBEY AND SON. 81
mon fervor as he said it, the old man turned to
Florence, folded hers in his own, and put them to
his lips ; then hurried her out to the coach with
very singular precipitation. Altogether, he made
such an effect on Captain Cuttle that the captain
lingered behind, and instructed Rob to be particu-
larly gentle and attentive to his master until the
morning; which injunction he strengthened with
the payment of one shilling down, and the promise
of another sixpence before noon next day. This
kind office performed, Captain Cuttle, who consid-
ered himself the natural and lawful body-guard of
Florence, mounted the box with a mighty sense of
his trust, and escorted her home. At parting, he
assured her that he would stand by Sol Gills, close
and true ; and once again inquired of Susan Nipper,
unable to forget her gallant words in reference to
Mrs. MacStinger, "Would you, do you think, my
dear, though ? "
When the desolate house had closed upon the
two, the captain's thoughts reverted to the old in-
strument-maker, and he felt uncomfortable. There-
fore, instead of going home, he walked up and down
the street several times, and, eking out his leisure
until evening, dined late at a certain angular little
tavern in the City, with a public parlor like a wedge,
to which glazed hats much resorted. The captain's
principal intention was to pass Sol Gills's after dark,
and look in through the window : which he did. The
parlor door stood open, and he could see his old friend
writing busily and steadily at the table within, while
the little Midshipman, already sheltered from the
night dews, watched him from the counter ; under
which Rob the Grinder made his own bed, prepara-
82 DOMBEY AND SON.
tory to shutting the shop. Ee-assured by the tran-
quillity that reigned within the precincts of the
wooden mariner, the captain headed for Brig Place,
resolving to weigh anchor betimes in the morn-
THE STUDY OF A LOVING HEART.
Sir Barnet and Lady Skettles, very good people,
resided in a pretty villa at Fulham, on the banks of
the Thames ; which was one of the most desirable
residences in the world when a rowing-match hap-
pened to be going past, but had its little inconven-
iences at other times, among which may be enume-
rated the occasional appearance of the river in the
drawing-room, and the contemporaneous disappear-
ance of the lawn and shrubbery.
Sir Barnet Skettles expressed his personal conse-
quence chiefly through an antique gold snuff-box,
and a ponderous silk pocket-handkerchief, which
he had an imposing manner of drawing out of his
pocket like a banner, and using with both hands
at once. Sir Barnet's object in life was constantly
to extend the range of his acquaintance. Like a
heavy body dropped into water — not to disparage
so worthy a gentleman by the comparison — it was
in the nature of things that Sir Barnet must spread
an ever-widening circle about him, until there was
no room left. Or, like a sound in air, the vibration
of which, according to the speculation of an inge-
nious modern philosopher, may go on travelling for-
84 DOMBEY AND SON.
ever througli the interminable fields of space, noth-
ing but coming to the end of his moral tether could
stop Sir Barnet Skettles in his voyage of discovery-
through the social system.
Sir Barnet was proud of making people acquainted
with people. He liked the thing for its own sake,
and it advanced his favorite object too. For ex-
ample, if Sir Barnet had the good fortune to get
hold of a raw recruit, or a country gentleman, and
ensnared him to his hospitable villa, Sir Barnet
would say to him, on the morning after his arrival,
"Now, my dear sir, is there anybody you would
like to know ? Who is there you would wish to
meet? Do you take any interest in writing peo-
ple, or in painting or sculpturing people, or in acting
people, or in anything of that sort ? " Possibly the
patient answered yes, and mentioned somebody of
whom Sir Barnet had no more personal knowledge
than of Ptolemy the Great. Sir Barnet replied that
nothing on earth was easier, as he knew him very
well : immediately called on the aforesaid somebody,
left his card, wrote a short note, — " My dear sir —
penalty of your eminent position — friend at my
house naturally desirous — Lady Skettles and my-
self participate — trust that, genius being superior
to ceremonies, you will do us the distinguished favor
of giving us the pleasure," &c. &c. — and so killed
a brace of birds with one stone, dead as door-nails.
With the snuff-box and banner in full force. Sir
Barnet Skettles propounded his usual inquiry to
Florence on the first morning of her visit. When
Florence thanked him, and said there was no one in
particular whom she desired to see, it was natural
she should think with a pang of poor lost Walter.
DOMBEY Ai^D SON. 85
When Sir Barnet Skettles, urging his kind offer,
said, " My dear Miss Dombey, are you sure you can
remember no one whom your good papa — to whom
I beg you to present the best compliments of myself
and Lady Skettles when you write — might wish you
to know ? " it was natural, perhaps, that her poor
head should droop a little, and that her voice should
tremble as it softly answered in the negative.
Skettles junior, much stiffened as to his cravat,
and sobered down as to his spirits, was at home for
the holidays, and appeared to feel himself aggrieved
by the solicitude of his excellent mother that he
should be attentive to Florence. Another and a
deeper injury under which the soul of young Bar-
net chafed was the company of Doctor and Mrs.
Blimber, who had been invited on a visit to the
parental roof-tree, and of whom the young gentle-
man often said he would have preferred their pass-
ing the vacation at Jericho.
*' Is there anybody you can suggest, now. Doctor
Blimber ? " said Sir Barnet Skettles, turning to that
" You are very kind, Sir Barnet," returned Doctor
Blimber. " Really I am not aware that there is, in
particular. I like to know my fellow-men in
general, Sir Barnet. What does Terence say ?
Any one who is the parent of a son is interesting
" Has Mrs. Blimber any wish to see any remark-
able person ? " asked Sir Barnet courteously.
Mrs. Blimber replied, with a sweet smile and a
shake of her sky-blue cap, that if Sir Barnet could
have made her known to Cicero, she would have
troubled him: but such an introduction not being
86 DOMBEY AND SON.
feasible, and she already enjoying the friendship of
himself and his amiable lady, and possessing, with
the Doctor her husband, their joint confidence in
regard to their dear son — here young Barnet was
observed to curl his nose — she asked no more.
Sir Barnet was fain, under these circumstances, to
content himself for the time with the company
assembled. Florence was glad of that ; for she had
a study to pursue among them, and it lay too near
her heart, and was too precious and momentous, to
yield to any other interest.
There were some children staying in the house.
Children who were as frank and happy with fathers
and with mothers as those rosy faces opposite home.
Children who had no restraint upon their love, and
freely showed it. Florence sought to learn their
secret ; sought to find out what it was she had
missed ; what simple art they knew, and she knew
not ; how she could be taught by them to show her
father that she loved him, and to win his love again.
Many a day did Florence thoughtfully observe
these children. On many a bright morning did she
leave her bed when the glorious sun rose, and walk-
ing up and down upon the river's bank, before any
one in the house was stirring, look up at the windows
of their rooms, and think of them, asleep, so gently
tended and affectionately thought of. Florence
would feel more lonely then than in the great house
all alone ; and would think sometimes that she was
better there than here, and that there was greater
peace in hiding herself than in mingling with others
of her age, and finding how unlike them all she was.
But attentive to her study, though it touched her to
the quick at every little leaf she turned in the hard
DOMBEY AND SON. 87
book, Florence remained among them, and tried,
with patient hope, to gain the knowledge that she
Ah ! how to gain it ? how to know the charm in
its beginning ? There were daughters here who rose
up in the morning, and lay down to rest at night,
possessed of fathers' hearts already. They had no
repulse to overcome, no coldness to dread, no frown
to smooth away. As the morning advanced, and the
windows opened one by one, and the dew began to
dry upon the flowers and grass, and youthful feet
began to move upon the lawn, Florence, glancing
round at the bright faces, thought, What was there
she could learn from these children ? It was too
late to learn from them ; each could approach her
father fearlessly, and put up her lips to meet the
ready kiss, and wind her arm about the neck that
bent down to caress her. She could not begin by
being so bold. Oh ! could it be that there was less
and less hope as she studied more and more ?
She remembered well that even the old woman
who had robbed her when a little child — whose
image and whose house, and all she had said and
done, were stamped upon her recollection, with the
enduring sharpness of a fearful impression made at
that early period of life — had spoken fondly of her
daughter and how terribly even she had cried out
in the pain of hopeless separation from her child.
But her own mother, she would think again, when
she recalled this, had loved her well. Then, some-
times, when her thoughts reverted swiftly to the
void between herself and her father, Florence would
tremble, and the tears would start upon her face, as
she pictured to herself her mother living on, and
88 DOMBEY A^^) SON.
coming also to dislike her, because of her wanting
the unknown grace that should conciliate that
father naturally, and had never done so from her
cradle. She knew that this imagination did wrong
to her mother's memory, and had no truth in it, or
base to rest upon; and yet she tried so hard to
justify him, and to find the whole blame in herself,
that she could not resist its passing, like a wild
cloud, through the distance of her mind.
There came among the other visitors, soon after
Florence, one beautiful girl, three or four years
younger than she, who was an orphan child, and who
was accompanied by her aunt, a gray-haired lady,
who spoke much to Florence, and who greatly liked
(but that they all did) to hear her sing of an even-
ing, and would always sit near her at that time, with
motherly interest. They had only been two days
in the house when Florence, being in an arbor in the
garden one warm morning, musingly observant of a
youthful group upon the turf, through some inter-
vening boughs, and wreathing flowers for the head
of one little creature among them who was the pet
and plaything of the rest, heard this same lady and
her niece, in pacing up and down a sheltered nook
close by, speak of herself.
" Is Florence an orphan like me, aunt ? " said the
" No, my love. She has no mother, but her father
" Is she in mourning for her poor mamma now ? "
inquired the child quickly.
"No; for her only brother."
" Has she no other brother ? "
DOJUBEY AND SON. 89
« No sister ? "
" I am very, very sorry ! " said the little girl.
As they stopped soon afterwards to watch some
boats, and had been silent in the meantime, Florence,
who had risen when she heard her name, and had
gathered up her flowers to go and meet them, that
they might know of her being within hearing,
resumed her seat and work, expecting to hear no
more ; but the conversation recommenced next
" Florence is a favorite with every one here, and
deserves to be, I am sure," said the child earnestly.
" Where is her papa ? "
The aunt replied, after a moment's pause, that
she did not know. Her tone of voice arrested
Florence, who had started from her seat again ; and
held her fastened to the spot, with her work hastily
caught up to her bosom, and her two hands saving
it from being scattered on the ground.
" He is in England, I hope, aunt ? " said the child.
"I believe so. Yes ; I know he is, indeed."
" Has he ever been here ? "
" I believe not. No."
" Is he coming here to see her ? "
" I believe not."
" Is he lame, or blind, or ill, aunt ? " asked the
The flowers that Florence held to her breast
began to fall when she heard those words, so
wonderingly spoken. She held them closer ; and
her face hung down upon them.
"Kate," said the lady after another moment of
silence, " I will tell you the whole truth about
90 DOISIBEY AOT) SON.
Florence as I have heard it, and believe it to be.
Tell no one else, my dear, because it may be little
known here, and your doing so would give her
" I never will ! " exclaimed the child.
" I know you never will," returned the lady. " I
can trust you as myself. I fear then, Kate, that
Florence's father cares little for her, very seldom
sees her, never was kind to her in her life, and now
quite shuns her and avoids her. She would love
him dearly if he would suffer her, but he will not —
though for no fault of hers ; and she is greatly to
be loved and pitied by all gentle hearts."
More of the flowers that Florence held fell
scattering on the ground ; those that remained were
wet, but not with dew ; and her face dropped upon
her laden hands.
" Poor Florence ! Dear, good Florence ! " cried
" Do you know why I have told you this, Kate ? "
said the lady.
" That I may be very kind to her, and take great
care to try to please her. Is that the reason, aunt ? "
"Partly," said the lady, "but not all. Though
we see her so cheerful : with a pleasant smile for
every one ; ready to oblige us all, and bearing her
part in every amusement here : she can hardly be
quite happy. Do you think she can, Kate ? "
" I am afraid not," said the little girl.
"And you can understand," pursued the lady,
" why her observation of children who have parents
who are fond of them and proud of them — like
many here just now — should make her sorrowful
in secret ? "
DOMBEY AND SON. 91
" Yes, dear aunt," said the child, " I understand
that very well. Poor Florence ! "
More flowers strayed upon the ground, and those
she yet held to her breast trembled as if a wintry
wind were rustling them.
" My Kate," said the lady, whose voice was seri-
ous, but very calm and sweet, and had so impressed
Florence from the first moment of her hearing it,
" of all the youthful people here, you are her natural
and harmless friend ; you have not the innocent
means that happier children have — "
" There are none happier, aunt ! " exclaimed the
child, who seemed to cling about her.
" — As other children have, dear Kate, of remind-
ing her of her misfortune. Therefore I would have
you, when you try to be her little friend, try all the
more for that, and feel that the bereavement you
sustained — thank Heaven ! before you knew its
weight — gives you claim and hold upon poor Flor-
" But I am not without a parent's love, aunt, and I
never have been," said the child, " with you."
"However that may be, my dear," returned the
lady, " your misfortune is a lighter one than Flor-
ence's ; for not an orphan in the wide world can be
so deserted as the child who is an outcast from a
living parent's love."
The flowers were scattered on the ground like
dust ; the empty hands were spread upon the face ;
and orphaned Florence, shrinking down upon the
ground, wept long and bitterly.
But true of heart, and resolute in her good pur-
pose, Florence held to it as her dying mother held
by her upon the day that gave Paul life. He did
92 DOMBEY AXD SON.
not know how much she loved him. However long
the time in coming, and however slow the interval,
she must try to bring that knowledge to her father's
heart one day or other. Meantime, she must be
careful in no thoughtless word, or look, or burst of
feeling awakened by any chance circumstance, to
complain against him, or to give occasion for these
whispers to his prejudice.
Even in the response she made the orphan child,
to whom she was attracted strongly, and whom she
had such occasion to remember, Florence was mind-
ful of him. If she singled her out too plainly
(Florence thought) from among the rest, she would
confirm — in one mind certainly : perhaps in more
— the belief that he was cruel and unnatural. Her
own delight was no set-off to this. What she had
overheard was a reason, not for soothing herself,
but for saving him ; and Florence did it, in pursu-
ance of the study of her heart.
She did so always. If a book were read aloud,
and there were anything in the story that pointed
at an unkind father, she was in pain for their appli-
cation of it to him ; not for herself. So with any
trifle of an interlude that was acted, or picture that
was shown, or game that was played, among them.
The occasions for such tenderness towards him were
so many, that her mind misgave her often, it would
indeed be better to go back to the old house, and
live again within the shadow of its dull walls, undis-
turbed. How few who saw sweet Florence, in her
spring of womanhood, the modest little queen of
those small revels, imagined what a load of sacred
care lay heavy in her breast ! How few of those
who stiffened in her father's freezing atmosphere
DOIVIBEY AND SON. 93
suspected what a heap of fiery coals was piled upon
his head !
Florence pursued her study patiently, and failing
to acquire the secret of the nameless grace she
sought among the youthful company who were
assembled in the house, often walked out alone, in
the early morning, among the children of the poor.
But still she found them all too far advanced to
learn from. They had won their household places
long ago, and did not stand without, as she did,
with a bar across the door.
There was one man whom she several times
observed at work very early, and often with a girl
of about her own age seated near him. He was a
very poor man, who seemed to have no regular
employment, but now went roaming about the banks
of the river when the tide was low, looking out for
bits and scraps in the mud ; and now worked at the
unpromising little patch of garden ground before
his cottage ; and now tinkered up a miserable old
boat that belonged to him ; or did some job of that
kind for a neighbor, as chance occurred. Whatever
the man's labor, the girl was never employed ; but
sat, when she was with him, in a listless, moping
state, and idle.
Florence had often wished to speak to this man ;
yet she had never taken courage to do so, as he
made no movement towards her. But one morning
when she happened to come upon him suddenly,
from a by-path among some pollard willows which
terminated in the little shelving piece of stony
ground that lay between his dwelling and the water,
where he was bending over a fire he had made to
calk the old boat which was lying bottom upwards
94 DOMBEY AND SON.
close by, he raised his head at the sound of her
footstep, and gave her Good-morning.
''' Good-morning," said Florence, approaching
nearer; "you are at work early."
" I'd be glad to be often at work earlier, miss, if
I had work to do."
" Is it so hard to get ? " asked Florence.
"/find it so," replied the man.
Florence glanced to where the girl was sitting,
drawn together, with her elbows on her knees, and
her chin on her hands, and said, —
" Is that your daughter ? "
He raised his head quickly, and looking towards
the girl with a brightened face, nodded to her, and
said " Yes." Florence looked towards her too, and
gave her a kind salutation ; the girl muttered some-
thing in return, ungraciously and sullenly.
" Is she in want of employment also ? " said
The man shook his head. "No, miss," he said.
" I work for both."
" Are there only you two, then ? " inquired
" Only us two," said the man. " Her mother has
been dead these ten year. Martha ! " (he lifted up
his head again, and whistled to her) "won't you
say a word to the pretty young lady ? "
The girl made an impatient gesture with her cow-
ering shoulders, and turned her head another way.
Ugly, misshapen, peevish, ill-conditioned, ragged,
dirty — but beloved! Oh, yes! Florence had seen
her father's look towards her, and she knew whose
look it had no likeness to.
"I'm afraid she's worse this morning, my poor
DOMBEY AND SON. 95
girl ! " said the man, suspending his work, and con-
templating his ill-favored child with a compassion
that was the more tender for being rough.
" She is ill, then ? " said Florence.
The man drew a deep sigh. " I don't believe my
Martha's had five short days' good health," he
answered, looking at her still, "in as many long