Dombey and Son
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to my feelings.' And Mr Toots looked hurriedly about the room, as if
for some sufficiently painful means of accomplishing his dread
The Captain pushed his glazed hat back upon his head, stroked his
face down with his heavy hand - making his nose more mottled in the
process - and planting himself before Mr Toots, and hooking him by the
lapel of his coat, addressed him in these words, while Mr Toots looked
up into his face, with much attention and some wonder.
'If you're in arnest, you see, my lad,' said the Captain, 'you're a
object of clemency, and clemency is the brightest jewel in the crown
of a Briton's head, for which you'll overhaul the constitution as laid
down in Rule Britannia, and, when found, that is the charter as them
garden angels was a singing of, so many times over. Stand by! This
here proposal o' you'rn takes me a little aback. And why? Because I
holds my own only, you understand, in these here waters, and haven't
got no consort, and may be don't wish for none. Steady! You hailed me
first, along of a certain young lady, as you was chartered by. Now if
you and me is to keep one another's company at all, that there young
creetur's name must never be named nor referred to. I don't know what
harm mayn't have been done by naming of it too free, afore now, and
thereby I brings up short. D'ye make me out pretty clear, brother?'
'Well, you'll excuse me, Captain Gills,' replied Mr Toots, 'if I
don't quite follow you sometimes. But upon my word I - it's a hard
thing, Captain Gills, not to be able to mention Miss Dombey. I really
have got such a dreadful load here!' - Mr Toots pathetically touched
his shirt-front with both hands - 'that I feel night and day, exactly
as if somebody was sitting upon me.
'Them,' said the Captain, 'is the terms I offer. If they're hard
upon you, brother, as mayhap they are, give 'em a wide berth, sheer
off, and part company cheerily!'
'Captain Gills,' returned Mr Toots, 'I hardly know how it is, but
after what you told me when I came here, for the first time, I - I
feel that I'd rather think about Miss Dombey in your society than talk
about her in almost anybody else's. Therefore, Captain Gills, if
you'll give me the pleasure of your acquaintance, I shall be very
happy to accept it on your own conditions. I wish to be honourable,
Captain Gills,' said Mr Toots, holding back his extended hand for a
moment, 'and therefore I am obliged to say that I can not help
thinking about Miss Dombey. It's impossible for me to make a promise
not to think about her.'
'My lad,' said the Captain, whose opinion of Mr Toots was much
improved by this candid avowal, 'a man's thoughts is like the winds,
and nobody can't answer for 'em for certain, any length of time
together. Is it a treaty as to words?'
'As to words, Captain Gills,' returned Mr Toots, 'I think I can
Mr Toots gave Captain Cuttle his hand upon it, then and there; and
the Captain with a pleasant and gracious show of condescension,
bestowed his acquaintance upon him formally. Mr Toots seemed much
relieved and gladdened by the acquisition, and chuckled rapturously
during the remainder of his visit. The Captain, for his part, was not
ill pleased to occupy that position of patronage, and was exceedingly
well satisfied by his own prudence and foresight.
But rich as Captain Cuttle was in the latter quality, he received a
surprise that same evening from a no less ingenuous and simple youth,
than Rob the Grinder. That artless lad, drinking tea at the same
table, and bending meekly over his cup and saucer, having taken
sidelong observations of his master for some time, who was reading the
newspaper with great difficulty, but much dignity, through his
glasses, broke silence by saying -
'Oh! I beg your pardon, Captain, but you mayn't be in want of any
pigeons, may you, Sir?'
'No, my lad,' replied the Captain.
'Because I was wishing to dispose of mine, Captain,' said Rob.
'Ay, ay?' cried the Captain, lifting up his bushy eyebrows a
'Yes; I'm going, Captain, if you please,' said Rob.
'Going? Where are you going?' asked the Captain, looking round at
him over the glasses.
'What? didn't you know that I was going to leave you, Captain?'
asked Rob, with a sneaking smile.
The Captain put down the paper, took off his spectacles, and
brought his eyes to bear on the deserter.
'Oh yes, Captain, I am going to give you warning. I thought you'd
have known that beforehand, perhaps,' said Rob, rubbing his hands, and
getting up. 'If you could be so good as provide yourself soon,
Captain, it would be a great convenience to me. You couldn't provide
yourself by to-morrow morning, I am afraid, Captain: could you, do you
'And you're a going to desert your colours, are you, my lad?' said
the Captain, after a long examination of his face.
'Oh, it's very hard upon a cove, Captain,' cried the tender Rob,
injured and indignant in a moment, 'that he can't give lawful warning,
without being frowned at in that way, and called a deserter. You
haven't any right to call a poor cove names, Captain. It ain't because
I'm a servant and you're a master, that you're to go and libel me.
What wrong have I done? Come, Captain, let me know what my crime is,
The stricken Grinder wept, and put his coat-cuff in his eye.
'Come, Captain,' cried the injured youth, 'give my crime a name!
What have I been and done? Have I stolen any of the property? have I
set the house a-fire? If I have, why don't you give me in charge, and
try it? But to take away the character of a lad that's been a good
servant to you, because he can't afford to stand in his own light for
your good, what a injury it is, and what a bad return for faithful
service! This is the way young coves is spiled and drove wrong. I
wonder at you, Captain, I do.'
All of which the Grinder howled forth in a lachrymose whine, and
backing carefully towards the door.
'And so you've got another berth, have you, my lad?' said the
Captain, eyeing him intently.
'Yes, Captain, since you put it in that shape, I have got another
berth,' cried Rob, backing more and more; 'a better berth than I've
got here, and one where I don't so much as want your good word,
Captain, which is fort'nate for me, after all the dirt you've throw'd
at me, because I'm poor, and can't afford to stand in my own light for
your good. Yes, I have got another berth; and if it wasn't for leaving
you unprovided, Captain, I'd go to it now, sooner than I'd take them
names from you, because I'm poor, and can't afford to stand in my own
light for your good. Why do you reproach me for being poor, and not
standing in my own light for your good, Captain? How can you so demean
'Look ye here, my boy,' replied the peaceful Captain. 'Don't you
pay out no more of them words.'
'Well, then, don't you pay in no more of your words, Captain,'
retorted the roused innocent, getting louder in his whine, and backing
into the shop. 'I'd sooner you took my blood than my character.'
'Because,' pursued the Captain calmly, 'you have heerd, may be, of
such a thing as a rope's end.'
'Oh, have I though, Captain?' cried the taunting Grinder. 'No I
haven't. I never heerd of any such a article!'
'Well,' said the Captain, 'it's my belief as you'll know more about
it pretty soon, if you don't keep a bright look-out. I can read your
signals, my lad. You may go.'
'Oh! I may go at once, may I, Captain?' cried Rob, exulting in his
success. 'But mind! I never asked to go at once, Captain. You are not
to take away my character again, because you send me off of your own
accord. And you're not to stop any of my wages, Captain!'
His employer settled the last point by producing the tin canister
and telling the Grinder's money out in full upon the table. Rob,
snivelling and sobbing, and grievously wounded in his feelings, took
up the pieces one by one, with a sob and a snivel for each, and tied
them up separately in knots in his pockethandkerchief; then he
ascended to the roof of the house and filled his hat and pockets with
pigeons; then, came down to his bed under the counter and made up his
bundle, snivelling and sobbing louder, as if he were cut to the heart
by old associations; then he whined, 'Good-night, Captain. I leave you
without malice!' and then, going out upon the door-step, pulled the
little Midshipman's nose as a parting indignity, and went away down
the street grinning triumphantly.
The Captain, left to himself, resumed his perusal of the news as if
nothing unusual or unexpected had taken place, and went reading on
with the greatest assiduity. But never a word did Captain Cuttle
understand, though he read a vast number, for Rob the Grinder was
scampering up one column and down another all through the newspaper.
It is doubtful whether the worthy Captain had ever felt himself
quite abandoned until now; but now, old Sol Gills, Walter, and Heart's
Delight were lost to him indeed, and now Mr Carker deceived and jeered
him cruelly. They were all represented in the false Rob, to whom he
had held forth many a time on the recollections that were warm within
him; he had believed in the false Rob, and had been glad to believe in
him; he had made a companion of him as the last of the old ship's
company; he had taken the command of the little Midshipman with him at
his right hand; he had meant to do his duty by him, and had felt
almost as kindly towards the boy as if they had been shipwrecked and
cast upon a desert place together. And now, that the false Rob had
brought distrust, treachery, and meanness into the very parlour, which
was a kind of sacred place, Captain Cuttle felt as if the parlour
might have gone down next, and not surprised him much by its sinking,
or given him any very great concern.
Therefore Captain Cuttle read the newspaper with profound attention
and no comprehension, and therefore Captain Cuttle said nothing
whatever about Rob to himself, or admitted to himself that he was
thinking about him, or would recognise in the most distant manner that
Rob had anything to do with his feeling as lonely as Robinson Crusoe.