Dombey and Son
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'You were very kind to my dear brother,' said Florence, obeying her
own natural impulse to relieve him by saying so. 'He often talked to
me about you.'
'Oh it's of no consequence,' said Mr Toots hastily. 'Warm, ain't
'It is beautiful weather,' replied Florence.
'It agrees with me!' said Mr Toots. 'I don't think I ever was so
well as I find myself at present, I'm obliged to you.
After stating this curious and unexpected fact, Mr Toots fell into
a deep well of silence.
'You have left Dr Blimber's, I think?' said Florence, trying to
help him out.
'I should hope so,' returned Mr Toots. And tumbled in again.
He remained at the bottom, apparently drowned, for at least ten
minutes. At the expiration of that period, he suddenly floated, and
'Well! Good morning, Miss Dombey.'
'Are you going?' asked Florence, rising.
'I don't know, though. No, not just at present,' said Mr Toots,
sitting down again, most unexpectedly. 'The fact is - I say, Miss
'Don't be afraid to speak to me,' said Florence, with a quiet
smile, 'I should he very glad if you would talk about my brother.'
'Would you, though?' retorted Mr Toots, with sympathy in every
fibre of his otherwise expressionless face. 'Poor Dombey! I'm sure I
never thought that Burgess and Co. - fashionable tailors (but very
dear), that we used to talk about - would make this suit of clothes
for such a purpose.' Mr Toots was dressed in mourning. 'Poor Dombey! I
say! Miss Dombey!' blubbered Toots.
'Yes,' said Florence.
'There's a friend he took to very much at last. I thought you'd
lIke to have him, perhaps, as a sort of keepsake. You remember his
'Oh yes! oh yes' cried Florence.
'Poor Dombey! So do I,' said Mr Toots.
Mr Toots, seeing Florence in tears, had great difficulty in getting
beyond this point, and had nearly tumbled into the well again. But a
chucKle saved him on the brink.
'I say,' he proceeded, 'Miss Dombey! I could have had him stolen
for ten shillings, if they hadn't given him up: and I would: but they
were glad to get rid of him, I think. If you'd like to have him, he's
at the door. I brought him on purpose for you. He ain't a lady's dog,
you know,' said Mr Toots, 'but you won't mind that, will you?'
In fact, Diogenes was at that moment, as they presently ascertained
from looking down into the street, staring through the window of a
hackney cabriolet, into which, for conveyance to that spot, he had
been ensnared, on a false pretence of rats among the straw. Sooth to
say, he was as unlike a lady's dog as might be; and in his gruff
anxiety to get out, presented an appearance sufficiently unpromising,
as he gave short yelps out of one side of his mouth, and overbalancing
himself by the intensity of every one of those efforts, tumbled down
into the straw, and then sprung panting up again, putting out his
tongue, as if he had come express to a Dispensary to be examined for
But though Diogenes was as ridiculous a dog as one would meet with
on a summer's day; a blundering, ill-favoured, clumsy, bullet-headed
dog, continually acting on a wrong idea that there was an enemy in the
neighbourhood, whom it was meritorious to bark at; and though he was
far from good-tempered, and certainly was not clever, and had hair all
over his eyes, and a comic nose, and an inconsistent tail, and a gruff
voice; he was dearer to Florence, in virtue of that parting
remembrance of him, and that request that he might be taken care of,
than the most valuable and beautiful of his kind. So dear, indeed, was
this same ugly Diogenes, and so welcome to her, that she took the
jewelled hand of Mr Toots and kissed it in her gratitude. And when
Diogenes, released, came tearing up the stairs and bouncing into the
room (such a business as there was, first, to get him out of the
cabriolet!), dived under all the furniture, and wound a long iron
chain, that dangled from his neck, round legs of chairs and tables,
and then tugged at it until his eyes became unnaturally visible, in
consequence of their nearly starting out of his head; and when he
growled at Mr Toots, who affected familiarity; and went pell-mell at
Towlinson, morally convinced that he was the enemy whom he had barked
at round the corner all his life and had never seen yet; Florence was
as pleased with him as if he had been a miracle of discretion.
Mr Toots was so overjoyed by the success of his present, and was so
delighted to see Florence bending down over Diogenes, smoothing his
coarse back with her little delicate hand - Diogenes graciously
allowing it from the first moment of their acquaintance - that he felt
it difficult to take leave, and would, no doubt, have been a much
longer time in making up his mind to do so, if he had not been
assisted by Diogenes himself, who suddenly took it into his head to
bay Mr Toots, and to make short runs at him with his mouth open. Not
exactly seeing his way to the end of these demonstrations, and
sensible that they placed the pantaloons constructed by the art of
Burgess and Co. in jeopardy, Mr Toots, with chuckles, lapsed out at
the door: by which, after looking in again two or three times, without
any object at all, and being on each occasion greeted with a fresh run
from Diogenes, he finally took himself off and got away.
'Come, then, Di! Dear Di! Make friends with your new mistress. Let
us love each other, Di!'said Florence, fondling his shaggy head. And
Di, the rough and gruff, as if his hairy hide were pervious to the
tear that dropped upon it, and his dog's heart melted as it fell, put
his nose up to her face, and swore fidelity.
Diogenes the man did not speak plainer to Alexander the Great than
Diogenes the dog spoke to Florence.' He subscribed to the offer of his
little mistress cheerfully, and devoted himself to her service. A
banquet was immediately provided for him in a corner; and when he had
eaten and drunk his fill, he went to the window where Florence was
sitting, looking on, rose up on his hind legs, with his awkward fore
paws on her shoulders, licked her face and hands, nestled his great
head against her heart, and wagged his tail till he was tired.
Finally, Diogenes coiled himself up at her feet and went to sleep.
Although Miss Nipper was nervous in regard of dogs, and felt it
necessary to come into the room with her skirts carefully collected
about her, as if she were crossing a brook on stepping-stones; also to
utter little screams and stand up on chairs when Diogenes stretched
himself, she was in her own manner affected by the kindness of Mr
Toots, and could not see Florence so alive to the attachment and
society of this rude friend of little Paul's, without some mental
comments thereupon that brought the water to her eyes. Mr Dombey, as a
part of her reflections, may have been, in the association of ideas,
connected with the dog; but, at any rate, after observing Diogenes and
his mistress all the evening, and after exerting herself with much
good-will to provide Diogenes a bed in an ante-chamber outside his
mistress's door, she said hurriedly to Florence, before leaving her
for the night:
'Your Pa's a going off, Miss Floy, tomorrow morning.'
'To-morrow morning, Susan?'
'Yes, Miss; that's the orders. Early.'
'Do you know,' asked Florence, without looking at her, 'where Papa
is going, Susan?'
'Not exactly, Miss. He's going to meet that precious Major first,
and I must say if I was acquainted with any Major myself (which
Heavens forbid), it shouldn't be a blue one!'
'Hush, Susan!' urged Florence gently.
'Well, Miss Floy,' returned Miss Nipper, who was full of burning
indignation, and minded her stops even less than usual. 'I can't help
it, blue he is, and while I was a Christian, although humble, I would
have natural-coloured friends, or none.'
It appeared from what she added and had gleaned downstairs, that
Mrs Chick had proposed the Major for Mr Dombey's companion, and that
Mr Dombey, after some hesitation, had invited him.
'Talk of him being a change, indeed!' observed Miss Nipper to
herself with boundless contempt. 'If he's a change, give me a
'Good-night, Susan,' said Florence.
'Good-night, my darling dear Miss Floy.'
Her tone of commiseration smote the chord so often roughly touched,
but never listened to while she or anyone looked on. Florence left
alone, laid her head upon her hand, and pressing the other over her
swelling heart, held free communication with her sorrows.
It was a wet night; and the melancholy rain fell pattering and
dropping with a weary sound. A sluggish wind was blowing, and went
moaning round the house, as if it were in pain or grief. A shrill
noise quivered through the trees. While she sat weeping, it grew late,
and dreary midnight tolled out from the steeples.
Florence was little more than a child in years - not yet fourteen-
and the loneliness and gloom of such an hour in the great house where
Death had lately made its own tremendous devastation, might have set
an older fancy brooding on vague terrors. But her innocent imagination
was too full of one theme to admit them. Nothing wandered in her
thoughts but love - a wandering love, indeed, and castaway - but
turning always to her father. There was nothing in the dropping of the
rain, the moaning of the wind, the shuddering of the trees, the
striking of the solemn clocks, that shook this one thought, or
diminished its interest' Her recollections of the dear dead boy - and
they were never absent - were itself, the same thing. And oh, to be
shut out: to be so lost: never to have looked into her father's face
or touched him, since that hour!