Dombey and Son
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she went, and what the matter was; and though these frightened her the
more at first, and made her hurry on the faster, they did her the good
service of recalling her in some degree to herself, and reminding her
of the necessity of greater composure.
Where to go? Still somewhere, anywhere! still going on; but where!
She thought of the only other time she had been lost in the wild
wilderness of London - though not lost as now - and went that way. To
the home of Walter's Uncle.
Checking her sobs, and drying her swollen eyes, and endeavouring to
calm the agitation of her manner, so as to avoid attracting notice,
Florence, resolving to keep to the more quiet streets as long as she
could, was going on more quietly herself, when a familiar little
shadow darted past upon the sunny pavement, stopped short, wheeled
about, came close to her, made off again, bounded round and round her,
and Diogenes, panting for breath, and yet making the street ring with
his glad bark, was at her feet.
'Oh, Di! oh, dear, true, faithful Di, how did you come here? How
could I ever leave you, Di, who would never leave me?'
Florence bent down on the pavement, and laid his rough, old,
loving, foolish head against her breast, and they got up together, and
went on together; Di more off the ground than on it, endeavouring to
kiss his mistress flying, tumbling over and getting up again without
the least concern, dashing at big dogs in a jocose defiance of his
species, terrifying with touches of his nose young housemaids who were
cleaning doorsteps, and continually stopping, in the midst of a
thousand extravagances, to look back at Florence, and bark until all
the dogs within hearing answered, and all the dogs who could come out,
came out to stare at him.
With this last adherent, Florence hurried away in the advancing
morning, and the strengthening sunshine, to the City. The roar soon
grew more loud, the passengers more numerous, the shops more busy,
until she was carried onward in a stream of life setting that way, and
flowing, indifferently, past marts and mansions, prisons, churches,
market-places, wealth, poverty, good, and evil, like the broad river
side by side with it, awakened from its dreams of rushes, willows, and
green moss, and rolling on, turbid and troubled, among the works and
cares of men, to the deep sea.
At length the quarters of the little Midshipman arose in view.
Nearer yet, and the little Midshipman himself was seen upon his post,
intent as ever on his observations. Nearer yet, and the door stood
open, inviting her to enter. Florence, who had again quickened her
pace, as she approached the end of her journey, ran across the road
(closely followed by Diogenes, whom the bustle had somewhat confused),
ran in, and sank upon the threshold of the well-remembered little
The Captain, in his glazed hat, was standing over the fire, making
his morning's cocoa, with that elegant trifle, his watch, upon the
chimney-piece, for easy reference during the progress of the cookery.
Hearing a footstep and the rustle of a dress, the Captain turned with
a palpitating remembrance of the dreadful Mrs MacStinger, at the
instant when Florence made a motion with her hand towards him, reeled,
and fell upon the floor.
The Captain, pale as Florence, pale in the very knobs upon his face
raised her like a baby, and laid her on the same old sofa upon which
she had slumbered long ago.
'It's Heart's Delight!' said the Captain, looking intently in her
face. 'It's the sweet creetur grow'd a woman!'
Captain Cuttle was so respectful of her, and had such a reverence
for her, in this new character, that he would not have held her in his
arms, while she was unconscious, for a thousand pounds.
'My Heart's Delight!' said the Captain, withdrawing to a little
distance, with the greatest alarm and sympathy depicted on his
countenance. 'If you can hail Ned Cuttle with a finger, do it!'
But Florence did not stir.
'My Heart's Delight!' said the trembling Captain. 'For the sake of
Wal'r drownded in the briny deep, turn to, and histe up something or
another, if able!'
Finding her insensible to this impressive adjuration also, Captain
Cuttle snatched from his breakfast-table a basin of cold water, and
sprinkled some upon her face. Yielding to the urgency of the case, the
Captain then, using his immense hand with extraordinary gentleness,
relieved her of her bonnet, moistened her lips and forehead, put back
her hair, covered her feet with his own coat which he pulled off for
the purpose, patted her hand - so small in his, that he was struck
with wonder when he touched it - and seeing that her eyelids quivered,
and that her lips began to move, continued these restorative
applications with a better heart.
'Cheerily,' said the Captain. 'Cheerily! Stand by, my pretty one,
stand by! There! You're better now. Steady's the word, and steady it
is. Keep her so! Drink a little drop o' this here,' said the Captain.
'There you are! What cheer now, my pretty, what cheer now?'
At this stage of her recovery, Captain Cuttle, with an imperfect
association of a Watch with a Physician's treatment of a patient, took
his own down from the mantel-shelf, and holding it out on his hook,
and taking Florence's hand in his, looked steadily from one to the
other, as expecting the dial to do something.
'What cheer, my pretty?' said the Captain. 'What cheer now? You've
done her some good, my lad, I believe,' said the Captain, under his
breath, and throwing an approving glance upon his watch. 'Put you back
half-an-hour every morning, and about another quarter towards the
arternoon, and you're a watch as can be ekalled by few and excelled by
none. What cheer, my lady lass!'
'Captain Cuttle! Is it you?' exclaimed Florence, raising herself a
'Yes, yes, my lady lass,' said the Captain, hastily deciding in his
own mind upon the superior elegance of that form of address, as the
most courtly he could think of.
'Is Walter's Uncle here?' asked Florence.
'Here, pretty?' returned the Captain. 'He ain't been here this many
a long day. He ain't been heerd on, since he sheered off arter poor
Wal'r. But,' said the Captain, as a quotation, 'Though lost to sight,
to memory dear, and England, Home, and Beauty!'
'Do you live here?' asked Florence.
'Yes, my lady lass,' returned the Captain.
'Oh, Captain Cuttle!' cried Florence, putting her hands together,
and speaking wildly. 'Save me! keep me here! Let no one know where I
am! I'll tell you what has happened by-and-by, when I can. I have no
one in the world to go to. Do not send me away!'
'Send you away, my lady lass!' exclaimed the Captain. 'You, my
Heart's Delight! Stay a bit! We'll put up this here deadlight, and
take a double turn on the key!'
With these words, the Captain, using his one hand and his hook with
the greatest dexterity, got out the shutter of the door, put it up,
made it all fast, and locked the door itself.
When he came back to the side of Florence, she took his hand, and
kissed it. The helplessness of the action, the appeal it made to him,
the confidence it expressed, the unspeakable sorrow in her face, the
pain of mind she had too plainly suffered, and was suffering then, his
knowledge of her past history, her present lonely, worn, and
unprotected appearance, all so rushed upon the good Captain together,
that he fairly overflowed with compassion and gentleness.
'My lady lass,' said the Captain, polishing the bridge of his nose
with his arm until it shone like burnished copper, 'don't you say a
word to Ed'ard Cuttle, until such times as you finds yourself a riding
smooth and easy; which won't be to-day, nor yet to-morrow. And as to
giving of you up, or reporting where you are, yes verily, and by God's
help, so I won't, Church catechism, make a note on!'
This the Captain said, reference and all, in one breath, and with
much solemnity; taking off his hat at 'yes verily,' and putting it on
again, when he had quite concluded.
Florence could do but one thing more to thank him, and to show him
how she trusted in him; and she did it' Clinging to this rough
creature as the last asylum of her bleeding heart, she laid her head
upon his honest shoulder, and clasped him round his neck, and would
have kneeled down to bless him, but that he divined her purpose, and
held her up like a true man.
'Steady!' said the Captain. 'Steady! You're too weak to stand, you
see, my pretty, and must lie down here again. There, there!' To see
the Captain lift her on the sofa, and cover her with his coat, would
have been worth a hundred state sights. 'And now,' said the Captain,
'you must take some breakfast, lady lass, and the dog shall have some
too. And arter that you shall go aloft to old Sol Gills's room, and
fall asleep there, like a angel.'
Captain Cuttle patted Diogenes when he made allusion to him, and
Diogenes met that overture graciously, half-way. During the
administration of the restoratives he had clearly been in two minds
whether to fly at the Captain or to offer him his friendship; and he
had expressed that conflict of feeling by alternate waggings of his
tail, and displays of his teeth, with now and then a growl or so. But
by this time, his doubts were all removed. It was plain that he
considered the Captain one of the most amiable of men, and a man whom
it was an honour to a dog to know.
In evidence of these convictions, Diogenes attended on the Captain
while he made some tea and toast, and showed a lively interest in his
housekeeping. But it was in vain for the kind Captain to make such
preparations for Florence, who sorely tried to do some honour to them,
but could touch nothing, and could only weep and weep again.
'Well, well!' said the compassionate Captain, 'arter turning in, my
Heart's Delight, you'll get more way upon you. Now, I'll serve out
your allowance, my lad.' To Diogenes. 'And you shall keep guard on
your mistress aloft.'
Diogenes, however, although he had been eyeing his intended
breakfast with a watering mouth and glistening eyes, instead of
falling to, ravenously, when it was put before him, pricked up his
ears, darted to the shop-door, and barked there furiously: burrowing