round ? If you could make it convenient, ma'am,
to pass the word presently for them children to
come for'ard in a body, I should be glad to see
These innocent MacStingers were so many dag-
gers to the captain's breast, when they appeared in
a swarm, and tore at him with the confiding trust-
fulness he so little deserved. The eye of Alexander
MacStinger, who had been his favorite, was insup-
112 DOMBEY AND SON.
portable to tlie captain ; the voice of Juliana Mac-
Stinger, who was the picture of her mother, made a
coward of him.
Captain Cuttle kept up appearances, nevertheless,
tolerably well, and for an hour or two was very
hardly used and roughly handled by the young Mac-
Stingers : who, in their childish frolics, did a little
damage also to the glazed hat, by sitting in it, two
at a time, as in a nest, and drumming on the inside
of the crown with their shoes. At length the cap-
tain sorrowfully dismissed them : taking leave of
these cherubs with the poignant remorse and grief
of a man who was going to execution.
In the silence of night the captain packed up his
heavier property in a chest, which he locked, intend-
ing to leave it there, in all probability forever, but
on the forlorn chance of one day finding a man suffi-
ciently bold and desperate to come and ask for it.
Of his lighter necessaries the captain made a bundle ;
and disposed his plate about his person, ready for
flight. At the hour of midnight, when Brig Place
was buried in slumber, and Mrs. MaeStinger was
lulled in sweet oblivion, with her infants around
her, the guilty captain, stealing down on tiptoe in
the dark, opened the door, closed it softly after him,
and took to his heels.
Pursued by the image of Mrs. MaeStinger spring-
ing out of bed, and, regardless of costume, following
and bringing him back ; pursued also by a conscious-
ness of his enormous crime ; Captain Cuttle held
on at a great pace, and allowed no grass to grow
under his feet between Brig Place and the instru-
ment-maker's door. It opened when he knocked —
for Rob was on the watch — and, when it was bolted
DOMBEY AND SON. 113
and locked behind him, Captain Cuttle felt compara-
" Whew ! " cried the captain, looking round him.
" It's a breather ! "
" Nothing the matter, is there, captain ? " cried
the gaping Rob.
"No, no!" said Captain Cuttle after changing
color, and listening to a passing footstep in the
street. " But mind ye, my lad ; if any lady, except
either of them two as you see t'other day, ever
comes and asks for Cap'en Cuttle, be sure to report
no person of that name known, nor never heard of
here ; observe them orders, will you ? "
" I'll take care, captain," returned Rob.
"You might say — if you liked," hesitated the
captain, " that you read in the paper that a cap'en
of that name was gone to Australia, emigrating
along with a whole ship's complement of people as
had all swore never to come back no more."
Rob nodded his understanding of these instruc-
tions; and Captain Cuttle, promising to make a
man of him if he obeyed orders, dismissed him,
yawning, to his bed under the counter, and went
aloft to the chamber of Solomon Gills.
What the captain suffered next day, whenever a
bonnet passed, or how often he darted out of the
shop to elude imaginary MacStingers, and sought
safety in the attic, cannot be told. But, to avoid
the fatigues attendant on this means of self-preserva-
tion, the captain curtained the glass door of commu-
nication between the shop and parlor on the inside,
fitted a key to it from the bunch that had been sent
to him ; and cut a small hole of espial in the wall.
The advantage of this fortification is obvious. On
114 DOMBEY AND SON.
a bonnet appearing, the captain instantly slipped
into his garrison, locked himself up, and took a
secret observation of the enemy. Finding it a false
alarm, the captain instantly slipped out again. And
the bonnets in the streets were so very numerous,
and alarms were so inseparable from their appear-
ance, that the captain was almost incessantly slip-
ping in and out all day long.
Captain Cuttle found time, however, in the midst
of this fatiguing service, to inspect the stock; in
connection with which he had the general idea (very
laborious to Rob) that too much friction could not
be bestowed upon it, and that it could not be made
too bright. He also ticketed a few attractive-look-
ing articles at a venture, at prices ranging from ten
shillings to fifty pounds, and exposed them in the
window, to the great astonishment of the public.
After effecting these improvements. Captain Cut-
tle, Surrounded by the instruments, began to feel
scientific : and looked up at the stars at night
through the skylight, when he was smoking his
pipe in the little back-parlor before going to bed, as
if he had established a kind of property in them.
As a tradesman in the City, too, he began to have
an interest in the Lord Mayor and the Sheriffs, and
in public companies ; and felt bound to read the
quotations of the Funds every day, though he was
unable to make out, on any principle of navigation,
what the figures meant, and could have very well
dispensed with the fractions. Florence the captain
waited on, with his strange news of Uncle Sol,
immediately after taking possession of the Midship-
man ; but she was away from home. So the captain
sat himself down in his altered station of life, with
DOMBEY AND SON. 115
no company but Rob the Grinder ; and losing count
of time, as men do when great changes come upon
them, thought musingly of Walter, and of Solomon
Gills, and even of Mrs. MacStinger herself, as
among the things that had been.
SHADOWS OP THE PAST AND FUTURE.
"Tour most obedient, sir," said the major.
"Damme, sir, a friend of my friend Dombey's is a
friend of mine, and I'm glad to see you ! "
"I am infinitely obliged, Carker," explained Mr.
Dombey, "to Major Bagstock for his company and
conversation. Major Bagstock has rendered me
great service, Carker."
Mr. Carker the manager, hat in hand, just arrived
at Leamington, and just introduced to the major,
showed the major his whole double range of teeth,
and trusted he might take the liberty of thank-
ing him with all his heart for having effected so
great an improvement in Mr. Dombey's looks and
"By Gad, sir," said the major in reply, "there are
no thanks due to me, for it's a give-and-take affair.
A great creature like our friend Dombey, sir," said
the major, lowering his voice, but not lowering it so
much as to render it inaudible to that gentleman,
" cannot help improving and exalting his friends.
He strengthens and invigorates a man, sir, does
Dombey, in his moral nature."
Mr. Carker snapped at the expression. In his
DOMBEY AND SON. 117
moral nature. Exactly. The very words lie had
been on the point of suggesting.
" But when my friend Dombey, sir," added the
major, "talks to you of Major Bagstock, I must
crave leave to set him and you right. He means
plain Joe, sir — Joey B. — Josh Bagstock — Joseph
— rough and tough old J., sir. At your service."
Mr. Carker's excessively friendly inclinations
towards the major, and Mr. Carker's admiration of
his roughness, toughness, and plainness, gleamed
out of every tooth in Mr. Carker's head.
" And now, sir," said the major, "you and Dombey
have the devil's own amount of business to talk
"By no means, major," observed Mr. Dom-
"Dombey," said the major defiantly, "I know
better; a man of your mark — the Colossus of com-
merce — is not to be interrupted. Your moments
are precious. We shall meet at dinner-time. In
the interval old Joseph will be scarce. The dinner
hour is a sharp seven, Mr. Carker."
With that, the major, greatly swollen as to his
face, withdrew ; but immediately putting in his
head at the door again, said, —
"I beg your pardon. Dombey, have you any
message to 'em ? "
Mr. Dombey, in some embarrassment, and not
without a glance at the courteous keeper of his
business confidence, intrusted the major with his
"By the Lord, sir," said the major, "you must
make it something warmer than that, or old Joe will
be far from welcome."
118 DOMBEY AND SON.
"Kegards then, if you will, major," returned Mr.
''Damme, sir," said the major, shaking his shoul-
ders and his great cheeks jocularly : "make it some-
thing warmer than that."
''What you please, then, major," observed Mr.
" Our friend is sly, sir, sly, sir, de-vilish sly," said
the major, staring round the door at Carker. " So
is Bagstock." But stopping in the midst of a
chuckle, and drawing himself up to his full height,
the major solemnly exclaimed, as he struck himself
on the chest, " Dombey ! I envy your feelings. God
bless you ! " and withdrew.
"You must have found the gentleman a great
resource," said Carker, following him with his teeth.
" Very great indeed," said Mr. Dombey.
" He has friends here, no doubt," pursued Carker.
" I perceive, from what he has said, that you go into
society here. Do you know," smiling horribly, " I
am so very glad that you go into society ! "
Mr. Dombey acknowledged this display of interest
on the part of his second in command by twirling
his watch-chain, and slightly moving his head.
" You were formed for society," said Carker. " Of
all the men I know, you are the best adapted by
nature and by position for society. Do you know,
I have been frequently amazed that you should have
held it at arm's length so long ! "
" I have had my reasons, Carker. I have been
alone, and indifferent to it. But you have great
social qualifications yourself, and are the more likely
to have been surprised."
"Oh! /.^" returned the other with ready self-
DOINIBEY AND SON. 119
disparagement. ''It's quite another matter in the
case of a man like me. I don't come into compari-
son with youy
Mr. Dombey put his hand to his neckcloth, settled
his chin in it, coughed, and stood looking at his
faithful friend and servant for a few moments in
"I shall have the pleasure, Carker," said Mr.
Dombey at length : making as if he swallowed
something a little too large for his throat : " to pre-
sent you to my — to the major's friends. Highly
" Ladies among them, I presume ? " insinuated
the smooth manager.
" They are all — that is to say, they are both —
ladies," replied Mr. Dombey.
" Only two ? " smiled Carker.
''There are only two. I have confined my visits
to their residence, and have made no other accLuaint-
" Sisters, perhaps ? " quoth Carker.
" Mother and daughter," replied Mr. Dombey.
As Mr. Dombey dropped his eyes, and adjusted
his neckcloth again, the smiling face of Mr. Carker
the manager became in a moment, and without any
stage of transition, transformed into a most intent
and frowning face, scanning his closely and with
an ugly sneer. As Mr. Dombey raised his eyes, it
changed back, no less quickly, to its old expression,
and showed him every gum of which it stood
" You are very kind," said Carker. " I shall be
delighted to know them. Speaking of daughters, I
have seen jVIiss Dombey."
120 DOMBEY AND SOX.
There was a sudden rusli of blood to Mr. Dombey's
"I took the liberty of waiting on her," said
Carker, " to inquire if she could charge me with any
little commission. I am not so fortunate as to be
the bearer of any but her — but her dear love."
Wolf's face that it was then, with even the hot
tongue revealing itself through the stretched mouth,
as the eyes encountered Mr. Dombey's !
*' What business intelligence is there ? " inquired
the latter gentleman after a silence, during which
Mr. Carker had produced some memoranda and
" There is very little," returned Carker. " Upon
the whole, we have not had our usual good fortune
of late, but that is of little moment to you. At
Lloyd's they give up the Son and Heir for lost.
Well, she was insured from her keel to her mast-
" Carker," said Mr. Dombey, taking a chair near
him, "I cannot say that young man, Gay, ever
impressed me favorably — "
" Nor me," interposed the manager.
" — But I wish," said Mr. Dombey, without heed-
ing the interruption, " he had never gone on board
that ship. I wish he had never been sent out."
" It is a pity you didn't say so in good time, is it
not ? " retorted Carker coolly. " HoAvever, I think
it's all for the best. I really think it's all for the
best. Did I mention that there was something like
a little confidence between Miss Dombey and
myself ? "
"No," said Mr. Dombey sternly.
" I have no doubt," returned Mr, Carker after an
DOMBEY AND SON. 121
impressive pause, "that, wherever Gay is, he is
much better where he is than at home here. If I
were, or could be, in your place, I should be satisfied
of that. I am quite satisfied of it myself. Miss
Dombey is confiding and young — perhaps hardly
proud enough for your daughter — if she have a
fault. Not that that is much, though, I am sure.
Will you check these balances with me ? "
Mr. Dombey leaned back in his chair, instead of
bending over the papers that were laid before him,
and looked the manager steadily in the face. The
manager, with his eyelids slightly raised, affected
to be glancing at his figures, and to await the lei-
sure of his principal. He showed that he affected
this, as if from great delicacy, and with a design to
spare Mr. Dombey's feelings ; and the latter, as he
looked at him, was cognizant of his intended con-
sideration, and felt that, but for it, this confiden-
tial Carker would have said a great deal more,
which he, Mr. Dombey, was too proud to ask for.
It was his way in business, often. Little by little,
IMr. Dombey's gaze relaxed, and his attention
became diverted to the papers before him ; but,
while busy with the occupation they afforded him,
he frequently stopped, and looked at Mr. Carker
again. Whenever he did so, Mr. Carker was demon-
strative, as before, in his delicacy, and impressed it
on his great chief more and more.
While they were thus engaged ; and, under the
skilful culture of the manager, angry thoughts in
reference to poor Florence brooded and bred in Mr.
Dombey's breast, usurping the place of the cold
dislike that generally reigned there, Major Bag-
stock, much admired by the old ladies of Learning-
122 DOMBEY AND SON.
ton, and followed by the native, carrying the usual
amount of light baggage, straddled along the shady
side of the way, to make a morning call on Mrs.
Skewton. It being mid-day when the major
reached the bower of Cleopatra, he had the good
fortune to find his princess on her usual sofa, lan-
guishing over a cup of coffee, with the room so
darkened and shaded for her more luxurious repose,
that Withers, who was in attendance on her,
loomed like a phantom page.
"What insupportable creature is this coming
in ? " said Mrs. Skewton. " I cannot bear it. Go
away, whoever you are ! "
"You have not the heart to banish J. B.,
ma'am ! " said the major, halting midway to remon-
strate, with his cane over his shoulder.
" Oh, it's you, is it ? On second thoughts, you
may enter," observed Cleopatra.
The major entered accordingly, and, advancing to
the sofa, pressed her charming hand to his lips.
" Sit down," said Cleopatra, listlessly waving her
fan, " a long way off. Don't come too near me, for
I am frightfully faint and sensitive this morning,
and you smell of the sun. You are absolutely
"By George, ma'am," said the major, "the time
has been when Joseph Bagstock has been grilled
and blistered by the sun ; the time was when he
was forced, ma'am, into such full blow, by high hot-
house heat in the West Indies, that he was known
as the Flower. A man never heard of Bagstock,
ma'am, in those days ; he heard of the Flower —
the Flower of Ours. The Flower may have faded,
more or less, ma'am," observed the major, dropping
DOMBEY AND SON". 123
into a much nearer chair than had been indicated
by his cruel divinity, " but it is a tough plant yet,
and constant as the evergreen."
Here the major, under cover of the dark room,
shut up one eye, rolled his head like a harlequin,
and, in his great self-satisfaction, perhaps, went
nearer to the confines of apoplexy than he had
ever gone before.
"Where is Mrs. Granger?" inquired Cleopatra
of her page.
Withers believed she was in her own room.
" Very well," said Mrs. Skewton. " Go away,
and shut the door. I am engaged."
As Withers disappeared, Mrs. Skewton turned
her head languidly towards the major, without
otherwise moving, and asked him how his friend
"Dombey, ma'am," returned the major, with a
facetious gurgling in his throat, "is as well as a
man in his condition can be. His condition is a
desperate one, ma'am. He is touched, is Dombey.
Touched ! " cried the major. " He is bayoneted
through the body."
Cleopatra cast a sharp look at the major, that con-
trasted forcibly with the affected drawl in which
she presently said : —
" Major Bagstock, although I know but little of
the world, — nor can I really regret my inexperi-
ence, for I fear it is a false place : full of wither-
ing conventionalities : where nature is but little
regarded, and where the music of the heart, and
the gushing of the soul, and all that sort of thing,
which is so truly poetical, is seldom heard, — I
cannot misunderstand your meaning. There is an
124 DOMBEY AND SON.
allusion to Edith — to my extremely dear child,"
said Mrs. Skewton, tracing the outline of her eye-
brows with her forefinger, " in your words, to which
the tenderest of chords vibrates excessively ! "
"Bluntness, ma'am," returned the major, "has
ever been the characteristic of the Bagstock breed.
You are right. Joe admits it."
" And that allusion," pursued Cleopatra, " would
involve one of the most — if not positively the
most touching, and thrilling, and sacred emotions
of which our sadly fallen nature is susceptible, I
The major laid his hand upon his lips, and wafted
a kiss to Cleopatra, as if to identify the emotion in
*' I feel that I am weak. I feel that I am want-
ing in that energy which should sustain a mamma :
not to say a parent : on such a subject," said Mrs.
Skewton, trimming her lips with the laced edge of
her pocket-handkerchief ; " but I can hardly approach
a topic so excessively momentous to my dearest
Edith without a feeling of faintness. Nevertheless,
bad man, as you have boldly remarked upon it, and
as it has occasioned me great anguish : " Mrs.
Skewton touched her left side with her fan : " I will
not shrink from my duty."
The major, under cover of the dimness, swelled,
and swelled, and rolled his purple face about, and
winked his lobster eye, until he fell into a fit of
wheezing, which obliged him to rise and take a turn
or two about the room, before his fair friend could
" Mr. Dombey," said Mrs. Skewton, when she at
length resumed, "was obliging enough, now many
DOMBEY AND SON. 125
weeks ago, to do us the honor of visiting here ; in
company, my dear major, with yourself. I acknowl-
edge — let me be open — that it is my failing to be
the creature of impulse, and to wear my heart, as
it were, outside. I know my failing full well. My
enemy cannot know it better. But I am not peni-
tent ; I would rather not be frozen by the heartless
world, and am content to bear this imputation
Mrs. Skewton arranged her tucker, pinched her
wiry throat to give it a soft surface, and went on
with great complacency.
"It gave me (my dearest Edith too, I am sure)
infinite pleasure to receive Mr. Dombey. As a
friend of yours, my dear major, we were naturally
disposed to be prepossessed in his favor ; and I fan-
cied that I observed an amount of heart in Mr.
Dombey, that was excessively refreshing."
" There is devilish little heart in Dombey now,
ma'am," said the major.
"Wretched man ! " cried Mrs. Skewton, looking at
him languidly, " pray be silent."
"J. B. is dumb, ma'am," said the major.
" Mr. Dombey," pursued Cleopatra, smoothing the
rosy hue upon her cheeks, "accordingly repeated
his visit ; and possibly finding some attraction in
the simplicity and primitiveness of our tastes — for
there is always a charm in Nature — it is so very
sweet — became one of our little circle every even-
ing. Little did I think of the awful responsibility
into which I plunged when I encouraged Mr.
Dombey — to — "
" To beat up these quarters, ma'am," suggested
126 DOMBEY AND SON.
" Coarse person ! " said Mrs. Skewton, " you anti-
cipate my meaning, though in odious language."
Here Mrs. Skewton rested her elbow on the little
table at her side, and suffering her wrist to droop in
what she considered a graceful and becoming man-
ner, dangled her fan to and fro, and lazily admired
her hand while speaking.
" The agony I have endured," she said mincingly,
" as the truth has by degrees dawned upon me, has
been too exceedingly terrific to dilate upon. My
whole existence is bound up in my sweetest Edith ;
and to see her change from day to day — my beau-
tiful pet, who has positively garnered up her heart
since the death of that most delightful creature,
Granger — is the most affecting thing in the world."
Mrs. Skewton's world was not a very trying one,
if one might judge of it by the influence of its
most affecting circumstance upon her ; but this by
"Edith," simpered Mrs. Skewton, "who is the
perfect pearl of my life, is said to resemble me. I
believe we are alike."
" There is one man in the world who never will
admit that any one resembles you, ma'am," said the
major; "and that man's name is old Joe Bagstock."
Cleopatra made as if she would brain the flatterer
with her fan, but relenting, smiled upon him and
" If my charming girl inherits any advantages
from me, wicked one ! " — the major was the wicked
one — " she inherits also my foolish nature. She
has great force of character — mine has been said
to be immense, though I don't believe it — but once
moved, she is susceptible and sensitive to the last
DOMBEY AND SON. 127
extent. "What are my feelings when I see her
pining ! They destroy me."
The major, advancing his double chin, and pursing
up his blue lips into a soothing expression, affected
the profoundest sympathy.
" The confidence," said Mrs. Skewton, '' that has
subsisted between us — the free development of
soul, and openness of sentiment — is touching to
think of. We have been more like sisters than
mamma and child."
''J. B.'s own sentiment," observed the major,
" expressed by J. B. fifty thousand times ! "
" Do not interrupt, rude man ! " said Cleopatra.
" What are my feelings, then, when I find that there
is one subject avoided by us ! That there is a
what's-his-name — a gulf — opened between us !
That my own artless Edith is changed to me !
They are of the most poignant description, of
The major left his chair, and took one nearer to
the little table.
"From day to day I see this, my dear major,"
proceeded Mrs. Skewton. " From day to day I feel
this. From hour to hour I reproach myself for
that excess of faith and trustfulness which has led
to such distressing consequences ; and almost from
minute to minute, I hope that Mr. Dombey may
explain himself, and relieve the torture I undergo,
which is extremely wearing. But nothing happens,
my dear major; I am the slave of remorse — take
care of the coffee-cup : you are so very awkward —
my darling Edith is an altered being ; and I really
don't see what is to be done, or what good creature
I can advise with."
128 DOMBEY AND SON.
Major Bagstock, encouraged, perhaps, by tlie
softened and confidential tone into which Mrs.
Skewton, after several times lapsing into it for a
moment, seemed now to have subsided for good,
stretched out his hand across the little table, and
said with a leer, —
" Advise with Joe, ma'am."
" Then, you aggravating monster," said Cleopatra,
giving one hand to the major, and tapping his
knuckles with her fan, which she held in the other,
" why don't you talk to me ? You know what I
mean. Why don't You tell me something to the
purpose ? "
The major laughed, and kissed the hand she had
bestowed upon him, and laughed again immensely.
" Is there as much Heart in Mr. Dombey as I gave
him credit for ? " languished Cleopatra tenderly.
" Do you think he is in earnest, my dear major ?