Dombey and Son
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- at least, not to gaze, but - I don't exactly know what I was going
to say, but it's of no consequence.
'I have to thank you so often,' returned Florence, giving him both
her hands, with all her innocent gratitude beaming in her face, 'that
I have no words left, and don't know how to do it.'
'Miss Dombey,' said Mr Toots, in an awful voice, 'if it was
possible that you could, consistently with your angelic nature, Curse
me, you would - if I may be allowed to say so - floor me infinitely
less, than by these undeserved expressions of kindness Their effect
upon me - is - but,' said Mr Toots, abruptly, 'this is a digression,
and of no consequence at all.'
As there seemed to be no means of replying to this, but by thanking
him again, Florence thanked him again.
'I could wish,' said Mr Toots, 'to take this opportunity, Miss
Dombey, if I might, of entering into a word of explanation. I should
have had the pleasure of - of returning with Susan at an earlier
period; but, in the first place, we didn't know the name of the
relation to whose house she had gone, and, in the second, as she had
left that relation's and gone to another at a distance, I think that
scarcely anything short of the sagacity of the Chicken, would have
found her out in the time.'
Florence was sure of it.
'This, however,' said Mr Toots, 'is not the point. The company of
Susan has been, I assure you, Miss Dombey, a consolation and
satisfaction to me, in my state of mind, more easily conceived than
described. The journey has been its own reward. That, however, still,
is not the point. Miss Dombey, I have before observed that I know I am
not what is considered a quick person. I am perfectly aware of that. I
don't think anybody could be better acquainted with his own - if it
was not too strong an expression, I should say with the thickness of
his own head - than myself. But, Miss Dombey, I do, notwithstanding,
perceive the state of - of things - with Lieutenant Walters. Whatever
agony that state of things may have caused me (which is of no
consequence at all), I am bound to say, that Lieutenant Walters is a
person who appears to be worthy of the blessing that has fallen on his
- on his brow. May he wear it long, and appreciate it, as a very
different, and very unworthy individual, that it is of no consequence
to name, would have done! That, however, still, is not the point. Miss
Dombey, Captain Gills is a friend of mine; and during the interval
that is now elapsing, I believe it would afford Captain Gills pleasure
to see me occasionally coming backwards and forwards here. It would
afford me pleasure so to come. But I cannot forget that I once
committed myself, fatally, at the corner of the Square at Brighton;
and if my presence will be, in the least degree, unpleasant to you, I
only ask you to name it to me now, and assure you that I shall
perfectly understand you. I shall not consider it at all unkind, and
shall only be too delighted and happy to be honoured with your
'Mr Toots,' returned Florence, 'if you, who are so old and true a
friend of mine, were to stay away from this house now, you would make
me very unhappy. It can never, never, give me any feeling but pleasure
to see you.
'Miss Dombey,' said Mr Toots, taking out his pocket-handkerchief,
'if I shed a tear, it is a tear of joy. It is of no consequence, and I
am very much obliged to you. I may be allowed to remark, after what
you have so kindly said, that it is not my intention to neglect my
person any longer.'
Florence received this intimation with the prettiest expression of
'I mean,' said Mr Toots, 'that I shall consider it my duty as a
fellow-creature generally, until I am claimed by the silent tomb, to
make the best of myself, and to - to have my boots as brightly
polished, as - as -circumstances will admit of. This is the last time,
Miss Dombey, of my intruding any observation of a private and personal
nature. I thank you very much indeed. if I am not, in a general way,
as sensible as my friends could wish me to be, or as I could wish
myself, I really am, upon my word and honour, particularly sensible of
what is considerate and kind. I feel,' said Mr Toots, in an
impassioned tone, 'as if I could express my feelings, at the present
moment, in a most remarkable manner, if - if - I could only get a
Appearing not to get it, after waiting a minute or two to see if it
would come, Mr Toots took a hasty leave, and went below to seek the
Captain, whom he found in the shop.
'Captain Gills,' said Mr Toots, 'what is now to take place between
us, takes place under the sacred seal of confidence. It is the sequel,
Captain Gills, of what has taken place between myself and Miss Dombey,
'Alow and aloft, eh, my lad?' murmured the Captain.
'Exactly so, Captain Gills,' said Mr Toots, whose fervour of
acquiescence was greatly heightened by his entire ignorance of the
Captain's meaning. 'Miss Dombey, I believe, Captain Gills, is to be
shortly united to Lieutenant Walters?'
'Why, ay, my lad. We're all shipmets here, - Wal'r and sweet- heart
will be jined together in the house of bondage, as soon as the askings
is over,' whispered Captain Cuttle, in his ear.
'The askings, Captain Gills!' repeated Mr Toots.
'In the church, down yonder,' said the Captain, pointing his thumb
over his shoulder.
'Oh! Yes!' returned Mr Toots.
'And then,' said the Captain, in his hoarse whisper, and tapping Mr
Toots on the chest with the back of his hand, and falling from him
with a look of infinite admiration, 'what follers? That there pretty
creetur, as delicately brought up as a foreign bird, goes away upon
the roaring main with Wal'r on a woyage to China!'
'Lord, Captain Gills!' said Mr Toots.
'Ay!' nodded the Captain. 'The ship as took him up, when he was
wrecked in the hurricane that had drove her clean out of her course,
was a China trader, and Wal'r made the woyage, and got into favour,
aboard and ashore - being as smart and good a lad as ever stepped -
and so, the supercargo dying at Canton, he got made (having acted as
clerk afore), and now he's supercargo aboard another ship, same
owners. And so, you see,' repeated the Captain, thoughtfully, 'the
pretty creetur goes away upon the roaring main with Wal'r, on a woyage
Mr Toots and Captain Cuttle heaved a sigh in concert. 'What then?'
said the Captain. 'She loves him true. He loves her true. Them as
should have loved and tended of her, treated of her like the beasts as
perish. When she, cast out of home, come here to me, and dropped upon
them planks, her wownded heart was broke. I know it. I, Ed'ard Cuttle,
see it. There's nowt but true, kind, steady love, as can ever piece it
up again. If so be I didn't know that, and didn't know as Wal'r was
her true love, brother, and she his, I'd have these here blue arms and
legs chopped off, afore I'd let her go. But I know it, and what then!
Why, then, I say, Heaven go with 'em both, and so it will! Amen!'
'Captain Gills,' said Mr Toots, 'let me have the pleasure of
shaking hands You've a way of saying things, that gives me an
agreeable warmth, all up my back. I say Amen. You are aware, Captain
Gills, that I, too, have adored Miss Dombey.'
'Cheer up!' said the Captain, laying his hand on Mr Toots's
shoulder. 'Stand by, boy!'
'It is my intention, Captain Gills,' returned the spirited Mr
Toots, 'to cheer up. Also to standby, as much as possible. When the
silent tomb shall yawn, Captain Gills, I shall be ready for burial;
not before. But not being certain, just at present, of my power over
myself, what I wish to say to you, and what I shall take it as a
particular favour if you will mention to Lieutenant Walters, is as
'Is as follers,' echoed the Captain. 'Steady!'
'Miss Dombey being so inexpressably kind,' continued Mr Toots with
watery eyes, 'as to say that my presence is the reverse of
disagreeable to her, and you and everybody here being no less
forbearing and tolerant towards one who - who certainly,' said Mr
Toots, with momentary dejection, 'would appear to have been born by
mistake, I shall come backwards and forwards of an evening, during the
short time we can all be together. But what I ask is this. If, at any
moment, I find that I cannot endure the contemplation of Lieutenant
Walters's bliss, and should rush out, I hope, Captain Gills, that you
and he will both consider it as my misfortune and not my fault, or the
want of inward conflict. That you'll feel convinced I bear no malice
to any living creature-least of all to Lieutenant Walters himself -
and that you'll casually remark that I have gone out for a walk, or
probably to see what o'clock it is by the Royal Exchange. Captain
Gills, if you could enter into this arrangement, and could answer for
Lieutenant Walters, it would be a relief to my feelings that I should
think cheap at the sacrifice of a considerable portion of my
'My lad,' returned the Captain, 'say no more. There ain't a colour
you can run up, as won't be made out, and answered to, by Wal'r and
'Captain Gills,' said Mr Toots, 'my mind is greatly relieved. I
wish to preserve the good opinion of all here. I - I - mean well, upon
my honour, however badly I may show it. You know,' said Mr Toots,
'it's as exactly as Burgess and Co. wished to oblige a customer with a
most extraordinary pair of trousers, and could not cut out what they
had in their minds.'
With this apposite illustration, of which he seemed a little Proud,
Mr Toots gave Captain Cuttle his blessing and departed.
The honest Captain, with his Heart's Delight in the house, and
Susan tending her, was a beaming and a happy man. As the days flew by,
he grew more beaming and more happy, every day. After some conferences
with Susan (for whose wisdom the Captain had a profound respect, and
whose valiant precipitation of herself on Mrs MacStinger he could
never forget), he proposed to Florence that the daughter of the
elderly lady who usually sat under the blue umbrella in Leadenhall
Market, should, for prudential reasons and considerations of privacy,
be superseded in the temporary discharge of the household duties, by
someone who was not unknown to them, and in whom they could safely
confide. Susan, being present, then named, in furtherance of a