Dombey and Son
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present to him, when he should look up.
'You want somebody to send to the West Indies, you were saying,'
observed Mr Dombey, hurriedly.
'Yes,' replied Carker.
'Send young Gay.'
'Good, very good indeed. Nothing easier,' said Mr Carker, without
any show of surprise, and taking up the pen to re-endorse the letter,
as coolly as he had done before. '"Send young Gay."'
'Call him back,' said Mr Dombey.
Mr Carker was quick to do so, and Walter was quick to return.
'Gay,' said Mr Dombey, turning a little to look at him over his
shoulder. 'Here is a -
'An opening,' said Mr Carker, with his mouth stretched to the
'In the West Indies. At Barbados. I am going to send you,' said Mr
Dombey, scorning to embellish the bare truth, 'to fill a junior
situation in the counting-house at Barbados. Let your Uncle know from
me, that I have chosen you to go to the West Indies.'
Walter's breath was so completely taken away by his astonishment,
that he could hardly find enough for the repetition of the words 'West
'Somebody must go,' said Mr Dombey, 'and you are young and healthy,
and your Uncle's circumstances are not good. Tell your Uncle that you
are appointed. You will not go yet. There will be an interval of a
month - or two perhaps.'
'Shall I remain there, Sir?' inquired Walter.
'Will you remain there, Sir!' repeated Mr Dombey, turning a little
more round towards him. 'What do you mean? What does he mean, Carker?'
'Live there, Sir,' faltered Walter.
'Certainly,' returned Mr Dombey.
'That's all,' said Mr Dombey, resuming his letters. 'You will
explain to him in good time about the usual outfit and so forth,
Carker, of course. He needn't wait, Carker.'
'You needn't wait, Gay,' observed Mr Carker: bare to the gums.
'Unless,' said Mr Dombey, stopping in his reading without looking
off the letter, and seeming to listen. 'Unless he has anything to
'No, Sir,' returned Walter, agitated and confused, and almost
stunned, as an infinite variety of pictures presented themselves to
his mind; among which Captain Cuttle, in his glazed hat, transfixed
with astonishment at Mrs MacStinger's, and his uncle bemoaning his
loss in the little back parlour, held prominent places. 'I hardly know
- I - I am much obliged, Sir.'
'He needn't wait, Carker,' said Mr Dombey.
And as Mr Carker again echoed the words, and also collected his
papers as if he were going away too, Walter felt that his lingering
any longer would be an unpardonable intrusion - especially as he had
nothing to say - and therefore walked out quite confounded.
Going along the passage, with the mingled consciousness and
helplessness of a dream, he heard Mr Dombey's door shut again, as Mr
Carker came out: and immediately afterwards that gentleman called to
'Bring your friend Mr Carker the Junior to my room, Sir, if you
Walter went to the outer office and apprised Mr Carker the Junior
of his errand, who accordingly came out from behind a partition where
he sat alone in one corner, and returned with him to the room of Mr
Carker the Manager.
That gentleman was standing with his back to the fire, and his
hands under his coat-tails, looking over his white cravat, as
unpromisingly as Mr Dombey himself could have looked. He received them
without any change in his attitude or softening of his harsh and black
expression: merely signing to Walter to close the door.
'John Carker,' said the Manager, when this was done, turning
suddenly upon his brother, with his two rows of teeth bristling as if
he would have bitten him, 'what is the league between you and this
young man, in virtue of which I am haunted and hunted by the mention
of your name? Is it not enough for you, John Carker, that I am your
near relation, and can't detach myself from that - '
'Say disgrace, James,' interposed the other in a low voice, finding
that he stammered for a word. 'You mean it, and have reason, say
'From that disgrace,' assented his brother with keen emphasis, 'but
is the fact to be blurted out and trumpeted, and proclaimed
continually in the presence of the very House! In moments of
confidence too? Do you think your name is calculated to harmonise in
this place with trust and confidence, John Carker?'
'No,' returned the other. 'No, James. God knows I have no such
'What is your thought, then?' said his brother, 'and why do you
thrust yourself in my way? Haven't you injured me enough already?'
'I have never injured you, James, wilfully.'
'You are my brother,' said the Manager. 'That's injury enough.'
'I wish I could undo it, James.'
'I wish you could and would.'
During this conversation, Walter had looked from one brother to the
other, with pain and amazement. He who was the Senior in years, and
Junior in the House, stood, with his eyes cast upon the ground, and
his head bowed, humbly listening to the reproaches of the other.
Though these were rendered very bitter by the tone and look with which
they were accompanied, and by the presence of Walter whom they so much
surprised and shocked, he entered no other protest against them than
by slightly raising his right hand in a deprecatory manner, as if he
would have said, 'Spare me!' So, had they been blows, and he a brave
man, under strong constraint, and weakened by bodily suffering, he
might have stood before the executioner.
Generous and quick in all his emotions, and regarding himself as
the innocent occasion of these taunts, Walter now struck in, with all
the earnestness he felt.
'Mr Carker,' he said, addressing himself to the Manager. 'Indeed,
indeed, this is my fault solely. In a kind of heedlessness, for which
I cannot blame myself enough, I have, I have no doubt, mentioned Mr
Carker the Junior much oftener than was necessary; and have allowed
his name sometimes to slip through my lips, when it was against your
expressed wish. But it has been my own mistake, Sir. We have never
exchanged one word upon the subject - very few, indeed, on any
subject. And it has not been,' added Walter, after a moment's pause,
'all heedlessness on my part, Sir; for I have felt an interest in Mr
Carker ever since I have been here, and have hardly been able to help
speaking of him sometimes, when I have thought of him so much!'
Walter said this from his soul, and with the very breath of honour.
For he looked upon the bowed head, and the downcast eyes, and upraised
hand, and thought, 'I have felt it; and why should I not avow it in
behalf of this unfriended, broken man!'
Mr Carker the Manager looked at him, as he spoke, and when he had
finished speaking, with a smile that seemed to divide his face into
'You are an excitable youth, Gay,' he said; 'and should endeavour
to cool down a little now, for it would be unwise to encourage
feverish predispositions. Be as cool as you can, Gay. Be as cool as
you can. You might have asked Mr John Carker himself (if you have not
done so) whether he claims to be, or is, an object of such strong
'James, do me justice,' said his brother. 'I have claimed nothing;
and I claim nothing. Believe me, on my -
'Honour?' said his brother, with another smile, as he warmed
himself before the fire.
'On my Me - on my fallen life!' returned the other, in the same low
voice, but with a deeper stress on his words than he had yet seemed
capable of giving them. 'Believe me, I have held myself aloof, and
kept alone. This has been unsought by me. I have avoided him and
'Indeed, you have avoided me, Mr Carker,' said Walter, with the
tears rising to his eyes; so true was his compassion. 'I know it, to
my disappointment and regret. When I first came here, and ever since,
I am sure I have tried to be as much your friend, as one of my age
could presume to be; but it has been of no use.
'And observe,' said the Manager, taking him up quickly, 'it will be
of still less use, Gay, if you persist in forcing Mr John Carker's
name on people's attention. That is not the way to befriend Mr John
Carker. Ask him if he thinks it is.'
'It is no service to me,' said the brother. 'It only leads to such
a conversation as the present, which I need not say I could have well
spared. No one can be a better friend to me:' he spoke here very
distinctly, as if he would impress it upon Walter: 'than in forgetting
me, and leaving me to go my way, unquestioned and unnoticed.'
'Your memory not being retentive, Gay, of what you are told by
others,' said Mr Carker the Manager, warming himself with great and
increased satisfaction, 'I thought it well that you should be told
this from the best authority,' nodding towards his brother. 'You are
not likely to forget it now, I hope. That's all, Gay. You can go.