Dombey and Son
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water, East India sherry, sandwiches, shawls, telescopes, maps, and
newspapers, any or all of which light baggage the Major might require
at any instant of the journey, he announced that everything was ready.
To complete the equipment of this unfortunate foreigner (currently
believed to be a prince in his own country), when he took his seat in
the rumble by the side of Mr Towlinson, a pile of the Major's cloaks
and great-coats was hurled upon him by the landlord, who aimed at him
from the pavement with those great missiles like a Titan, and so
covered him up, that he proceeded, in a living tomb, to the railroad
But before the carriage moved away, and while the Native was in the
act of sepulture, Miss Tox appearing at her window, waved a lilywhite
handkerchief. Mr Dombey received this parting salutation very coldly -
very coldly even for him - and honouring her with the slightest
possible inclination of his head, leaned back in the carriage with a
very discontented look. His marked behaviour seemed to afford the
Major (who was all politeness in his recognition of Miss Tox)
unbounded satisfaction; and he sat for a long time afterwards,
leering, and choking, like an over-fed Mephistopheles.
During the bustle of preparation at the railway, Mr Dombey and the
Major walked up and down the platform side by side; the former
taciturn and gloomy, and the latter entertaining him, or entertaining
himself, with a variety of anecdotes and reminiscences, in most of
which Joe Bagstock was the principal performer. Neither of the two
observed that in the course of these walks, they attracted the
attention of a working man who was standing near the engine, and who
touched his hat every time they passed; for Mr Dombey habitually
looked over the vulgar herd, not at them; and the Major was looking,
at the time, into the core of one of his stories. At length, however,
this man stepped before them as they turned round, and pulling his hat
off, and keeping it off, ducked his head to Mr Dombey.
'Beg your pardon, Sir,' said the man, 'but I hope you're a doin'
pretty well, Sir.'
He was dressed in a canvas suit abundantly besmeared with coal-dust
and oil, and had cinders in his whiskers, and a smell of half-slaked
ashes all over him. He was not a bad-looking fellow, nor even what
could be fairly called a dirty-looking fellow, in spite of this; and,
in short, he was Mr Toodle, professionally clothed.
'I shall have the honour of stokin' of you down, Sir,' said Mr
Toodle. 'Beg your pardon, Sir. - I hope you find yourself a coming
Mr Dombey looked at him, in return for his tone of interest, as if
a man like that would make his very eyesight dirty.
''Scuse the liberty, Sir,' said Toodle, seeing he was not clearly
remembered, 'but my wife Polly, as was called Richards in your family
A change in Mr Dombey's face, which seemed to express recollection
of him, and so it did, but it expressed in a much stronger degree an
angry sense of humiliation, stopped Mr Toodle short.
'Your wife wants money, I suppose,' said Mr Dombey, putting his
hand in his pocket, and speaking (but that he always did) haughtily.
'No thank'ee, Sir,' returned Toodle, 'I can't say she does. I
Mr Dombey was stopped short now in his turn: and awkwardly: with
his hand in his pocket.
'No, Sir,' said Toodle, turning his oilskin cap round and round;
'we're a doin' pretty well, Sir; we haven't no cause to complain in
the worldly way, Sir. We've had four more since then, Sir, but we rubs
Mr Dombey would have rubbed on to his own carriage, though in so
doing he had rubbed the stoker underneath the wheels; but his
attention was arrested by something in connexion with the cap still
going slowly round and round in the man's hand.
'We lost one babby,' observed Toodle, 'there's no denyin'.'
'Lately,' added Mr Dombey, looking at the cap.
'No, Sir, up'ard of three years ago, but all the rest is hearty.
And in the matter o readin', Sir,' said Toodle, ducking again, as if
to remind Mr Dombey of what had passed between them on that subject
long ago, 'them boys o' mine, they learned me, among 'em, arter all.
They've made a wery tolerable scholar of me, Sir, them boys.'
'Come, Major!' said Mr Dombey.
'Beg your pardon, Sir,' resumed Toodle, taking a step before them
and deferentially stopping them again, still cap in hand: 'I wouldn't
have troubled you with such a pint except as a way of gettin' in the
name of my son Biler - christened Robin - him as you was so good as to
make a Charitable Grinder on.'
'Well, man,' said Mr Dombey in his severest manner. 'What about
'Why, Sir,' returned Toodle, shaking his head with a face of great
anxiety and distress, 'I'm forced to say, Sir, that he's gone wrong.
'He has gone wrong, has he?' said Mr Dombey, with a hard kind of
'He has fell into bad company, you see, genelmen,' pursued the
father, looking wistfully at both, and evidently taking the Major into
the conversation with the hope of having his sympathy. 'He has got
into bad ways. God send he may come to again, genelmen, but he's on
the wrong track now! You could hardly be off hearing of it somehow,
Sir,' said Toodle, again addressing Mr Dombey individually; 'and it's
better I should out and say my boy's gone rather wrong. Polly's
dreadful down about it, genelmen,' said Toodle with the same dejected
look, and another appeal to the Major.
'A son of this man's whom I caused to be educated, Major,' said Mr
Dombey, giving him his arm. 'The usual return!'
'Take advice from plain old Joe, and never educate that sort of
people, Sir,' returned the Major. 'Damme, Sir, it never does! It
The simple father was beginning to submit that he hoped his son,
the quondam Grinder, huffed and cuffed, and flogged and badged, and
taught, as parrots are, by a brute jobbed into his place of
schoolmaster with as much fitness for it as a hound, might not have
been educated on quite a right plan in some undiscovered respect, when
Mr Dombey angrily repeating 'The usual return!' led the Major away.
And the Major being heavy to hoist into Mr Dombey's carriage, elevated
in mid-air, and having to stop and swear that he would flay the Native
alive, and break every bone in his skin, and visit other physical
torments upon him, every time he couldn't get his foot on the step,
and fell back on that dark exile, had barely time before they started
to repeat hoarsely that it would never do: that it always failed: and
that if he were to educate 'his own vagabond,' he would certainly be
Mr Dombey assented bitterly; but there was something more in his
bitterness, and in his moody way of falling back in the carriage, and
looking with knitted brows at the changing objects without, than the
failure of that noble educational system administered by the Grinders'
Company. He had seen upon the man's rough cap a piece of new crape,
and he had assured himself, from his manner and his answers, that he
wore it for his son.
So] from high to low, at home or abroad, from Florence in his great
house to the coarse churl who was feeding the fire then smoking before
them, everyone set up some claim or other to a share in his dead boy,
and was a bidder against him! Could he ever forget how that woman had
wept over his pillow, and called him her own child! or how he, waking
from his sleep, had asked for her, and had raised himself in his bed
and brightened when she carne in!
To think of this presumptuous raker among coals and ashes going on
before there, with his sign of mourning! To think that he dared to
enter, even by a common show like that, into the trial and
disappointrnent of a proud gentleman's secret heart! To think that
this lost child, who was to have divided with him his riches, and his
projects, and his power, and allied with whom he was to have shut out
all the world as with a double door of gold, should have let in such a
herd to insult him with their knowledge of his defeated hopes, and
their boasts of claiming community of feeling with himself, so far
removed: if not of having crept into the place wherein he would have
lorded it, alone!
He found no pleasure or relief in the journey. Tortured by these
thoughts he carried monotony with him, through the rushing landscape,
and hurried headlong, not through a rich and varied country, but a
wilderness of blighted plans and gnawing jealousies. The very speed at
which the train was whirled along, mocked the swift course of the
young life that had been borne away so steadily and so inexorably to
its foredoomed end. The power that forced itself upon its iron way -
its own - defiant of all paths and roads, piercing through the heart
of every obstacle, and dragging living creatures of all classes, ages,
and degrees behind it, was a type of the triumphant monster, Death.
Away, with a shriek, and a roar, and a rattle, from the town,
burrowmg among the dwellings of men and making the streets hum,
flashing out into the meadows for a moment, mining in through the damp
earth, booming on in darkness and heavy air, bursting out again into
the sunny day so bright and wide; away, with a shriek, and a roar, and
a rattle, through the fields, through the woods, through the corn,
through the hay, through the chalk, through the mould, through the
clay, through the rock, among objects close at hand and almost in the
grasp, ever flying from the traveller, and a deceitful distance ever
moving slowly within him: like as in the track of the remorseless
Through the hollow, on the height, by the heath, by the orchard, by
the park, by the garden, over the canal, across the river, where the
sheep are feeding, where the mill is going, where the barge is
floating, where the dead are lying, where the factory is smoking,
where the stream is running, where the village clusters, where the
great cathedral rises, where the bleak moor lies, and the wild breeze
smooths or ruffles it at its inconstant will; away, with a shriek, and
a roar, and a rattle, and no trace to leave behind but dust and
vapour: like as in the track of the remorseless monster, Death!
Breasting the wind and light, the shower and sunshine, away, and
still away, it rolls and roars, fierce and rapid, smooth and certain,
and great works and massive bridges crossing up above, fall like a