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Charles Dickens > Dombey And Son > Chapter 9

Dombey And Son

Chapter 9

In which the Wooden Midshipman gets into Trouble

That spice of romance and love of the marvellous, of which there
was a pretty strong infusion in the nature of young Walter Gay, and
which the guardianship of his Uncle, old Solomon Gills, had not very
much weakened by the waters of stern practical experience, was the
occasion of his attaching an uncommon and delightful interest to the
adventure of Florence with Good Mrs Brown. He pampered and cherished
it in his memory, especially that part of it with which he had been
associated: until it became the spoiled child of his fancy, and took
its own way, and did what it liked with it.

The recollection of those incidents, and his own share in them, may
have been made the more captivating, perhaps, by the weekly dreamings
of old Sol and Captain Cuttle on Sundays. Hardly a Sunday passed,
without mysterious references being made by one or other of those
worthy chums to Richard Whittington; and the latter gentleman had even
gone so far as to purchase a ballad of considerable antiquity, that
had long fluttered among many others, chiefly expressive of maritime
sentiments, on a dead wall in the Commercial Road: which poetical
performance set forth the courtship and nuptials of a promising young
coal-whipper with a certain 'lovely Peg,' the accomplished daughter of
the master and part-owner of a Newcastle collier. In this stirring
legend, Captain Cuttle descried a profound metaphysical bearing on the
case of Walter and Florence; and it excited him so much, that on very
festive occasions, as birthdays and a few other non-Dominical
holidays, he would roar through the whole song in the little back
parlour; making an amazing shake on the word Pe-e-eg, with which every
verse concluded, in compliment to the heroine of the piece.

But a frank, free-spirited, open-hearted boy, is not much given to
analysing the nature of his own feelings, however strong their hold
upon him: and Walter would have found it difficult to decide this
point. He had a great affection for the wharf where he had encountered
Florence, and for the streets (albeit not enchanting in themselves) by
which they had come home. The shoes that had so often tumbled off by
the way, he preserved in his own room; and, sitting in the little back
parlour of an evening, he had drawn a whole gallery of fancy portraits
of Good Mrs Brown. It may be that he became a little smarter in his
dress after that memorable occasion; and he certainly liked in his
leisure time to walk towards that quarter of the town where Mr
Dombey's house was situated, on the vague chance of passing little
Florence in the street. But the sentiment of all this was as boyish
and innocent as could be. Florence was very pretty, and it is pleasant
to admire a pretty face. Florence was defenceless and weak, and it was
a proud thought that he had been able to render her any protection and
assistance. Florence was the most grateful little creature in the
world, and it was delightful to see her bright gratitude beaming in
her face. Florence was neglected and coldly looked upon, and his
breast was full of youthful interest for the slighted child in her
dull, stately home.

Thus it came about that, perhaps some half-a-dozen times in the
course of the year, Walter pulled off his hat to Florence in the
street, and Florence would stop to shake hands. Mrs Wickam (who, with
a characteristic alteration of his name, invariably spoke of him as
'Young Graves') was so well used to this, knowing the story of their
acquaintance, that she took no heed of it at all. Miss Nipper, on the
other hand, rather looked out for these occasions: her sensitive young
heart being secretly propitiated by Walter's good looks, and inclining
to the belief that its sentiments were responded to.

In this way, Walter, so far from forgetting or losing sight of his
acquaintance with Florence, only remembered it better and better. As
to its adventurous beginning, and all those little circumstances which
gave it a distinctive character and relish, he took them into account,
more as a pleasant story very agreeable to his imagination, and not to
be dismissed from it, than as a part of any matter of fact with which
he was concerned. They set off Florence very much, to his fancy; but
not himself. Sometimes he thought (and then he walked very fast) what
a grand thing it would have been for him to have been going to sea on
the day after that first meeting, and to have gone, and to have done
wonders there, and to have stopped away a long time, and to have come
back an Admiral of all the colours of the dolphin, or at least a
Post-Captain with epaulettes of insupportable brightness, and have
married Florence (then a beautiful young woman) in spite of Mr
Dombey's teeth, cravat, and watch-chain, and borne her away to the
blue shores of somewhere or other, triumphantly. But these flights of
fancy seldom burnished the brass plate of Dombey and Son's Offices
into a tablet of golden hope, or shed a brilliant lustre on their
dirty skylights; and when the Captain and Uncle Sol talked about
Richard Whittington and masters' daughters, Walter felt that he
understood his true position at Dombey and Son's, much better than
they did.

So it was that he went on doing what he had to do from day to day,
in a cheerful, pains-taking, merry spirit; and saw through the
sanguine complexion of Uncle Sol and Captain Cuttle; and yet
entertained a thousand indistinct and visionary fancies of his own, to
which theirs were work-a-day probabilities. Such was his condition at
the Pipchin period, when he looked a little older than of yore, but
not much; and was the same light-footed, light-hearted, light-headed
lad, as when he charged into the parlour at the head of Uncle Sol and
the imaginary boarders, and lighted him to bring up the Madeira.

'Uncle Sol,' said Walter, 'I don't think you're well. You haven't
eaten any breakfast. I shall bring a doctor to you, if you go on like

'He can't give me what I want, my boy,' said Uncle Sol. 'At least
he is in good practice if he can - and then he wouldn't.'

'What is it, Uncle? Customers?'

'Ay,' returned Solomon, with a sigh. 'Customers would do.'

'Confound it, Uncle!' said Walter, putting down his breakfast cup
with a clatter, and striking his hand on the table: 'when I see the
people going up and down the street in shoals all day, and passing and
re-passing the shop every minute, by scores, I feel half tempted to
rush out, collar somebody, bring him in, and make him buy fifty
pounds' worth of instruments for ready money. What are you looking in
at the door for? - ' continued Walter, apostrophizing an old gentleman
with a powdered head (inaudibly to him of course), who was staring at
a ship's telescope with all his might and main. 'That's no use. I
could do that. Come in and buy it!'

The old gentleman, however, having satiated his curiosity, walked
calmly away.

'There he goes!' said Walter. 'That's the way with 'em all. But,
Uncle - I say, Uncle Sol' - for the old man was meditating and had not
responded to his first appeal. 'Don't be cast down. Don't be out of
spirits, Uncle. When orders do come, they'll come in such a crowd, you
won't be able to execute 'em.'

'I shall be past executing 'em, whenever they come, my boy,'
returned Solomon Gills. 'They'll never come to this shop again, till I
am out of t.'

'I say, Uncle! You musn't really, you know!' urged Walter. 'Don't!'

Old Sol endeavoured to assume a cheery look, and smiled across the
little table at him as pleasantly as he could.

'There's nothing more than usual the matter; is there, Uncle?' said
Walter, leaning his elbows on the tea tray, and bending over, to speak
the more confidentially and kindly. 'Be open with me, Uncle, if there
is, and tell me all about it.'

'No, no, no,' returned Old Sol. 'More than usual? No, no. What
should there be the matter more than usual?'

Walter answered with an incredulous shake of his head. 'That's what
I want to know,' he said, 'and you ask me! I'll tell you what, Uncle,
when I see you like this, I am quite sorry that I live with you.'

Old Sol opened his eyes involuntarily.

'Yes. Though nobody ever was happier than I am and always have been
with you, I am quite sorry that I live with you, when I see you with
anything in your mind.'

'I am a little dull at such times, I know,' observed Solomon,
meekly rubbing his hands.

'What I mean, Uncle Sol,' pursued Walter, bending over a little
more to pat him on the shoulder, 'is, that then I feel you ought to
have, sitting here and pouring out the tea instead of me, a nice
little dumpling of a wife, you know, - a comfortable, capital, cosy
old lady, who was just a match for you, and knew how to manage you,
and keep you in good heart. Here am I, as loving a nephew as ever was
(I am sure I ought to be!) but I am only a nephew, and I can't be such
a companion to you when you're low and out of sorts as she would have
made herself, years ago, though I'm sure I'd give any money if I could
cheer you up. And so I say, when I see you with anything on your mind,
that I feel quite sorry you haven't got somebody better about you than
a blundering young rough-and-tough boy like me, who has got the will
to console you, Uncle, but hasn't got the way - hasn't got the way,'
repeated Walter, reaching over further yet, to shake his Uncle by the

'Wally, my dear boy,' said Solomon, 'if the cosy little old lady
had taken her place in this parlour five and forty years ago, I never
could have been fonder of her than I am of you.'

'I know that, Uncle Sol,' returned Walter. 'Lord bless you, I know
that. But you wouldn't have had the whole weight of any uncomfortable
secrets if she had been with you, because she would have known how to
relieve you of 'em, and I don't.'

'Yes, yes, you do,' returned the Instrument-maker.

'Well then, what's the matter, Uncle Sol?' said Walter, coaxingly.
'Come! What's the matter?'

Solomon Gills persisted that there was nothing the matter; and
maintained it so resolutely, that his nephew had no resource but to
make a very indifferent imitation of believing him.

'All I can say is, Uncle Sol, that if there is - '

'But there isn't,' said Solomon.

'Very well,, said Walter. 'Then I've no more to say; and that's
lucky, for my time's up for going to business. I shall look in
by-and-by when I'm out, to see how you get on, Uncle. And mind, Uncle!
I'll never believe you again, and never tell you anything more about
Mr Carker the Junior, if I find out that you have been deceiving me!'

Solomon Gills laughingly defied him to find out anything of the
kind; and Walter, revolving in his thoughts all sorts of impracticable
ways of making fortunes and placing the wooden Midshipman in a
position of independence, betook himself to the offices of Dombey and
Son with a heavier countenance than he usually carried there.

There lived in those days, round the corner - in Bishopsgate Street
Without - one Brogley, sworn broker and appraiser, who kept a shop
where every description of second-hand furniture was exhibited in the
most uncomfortable aspect, and under circumstances and in combinations
the most completely foreign to its purpose. Dozens of chairs hooked on
to washing-stands, which with difficulty poised themselves on the
shoulders of sideboards, which in their turn stood upon the wrong side
of dining-tables, gymnastic with their legs upward on the tops of
other dining-tables, were among its most reasonable arrangements. A
banquet array of dish-covers, wine-glasses, and decanters was
generally to be seen, spread forth upon the bosom of a four-post
bedstead, for the entertainment of such genial company as half-a-dozen
pokers, and a hall lamp. A set of window curtains with no windows
belonging to them, would be seen gracefully draping a barricade of
chests of drawers, loaded with little jars from chemists' shops; while
a homeless hearthrug severed from its natural companion the fireside,
braved the shrewd east wind in its adversity, and trembled in
melancholy accord with the shrill complainings of a cabinet piano,
wasting away, a string a day, and faintly resounding to the noises of
the street in its jangling and distracted brain. Of motionless clocks
that never stirred a finger, and seemed as incapable of being
successfully wound up, as the pecuniary affairs of their former
owners, there was always great choice in Mr Brogley's shop; and
various looking-glasses, accidentally placed at compound interest of
reflection and refraction, presented to the eye an eternal perspective
of bankruptcy and ruin.

Mr Brogley himself was a moist-eyed, pink-complexioned,
crisp-haired man, of a bulky figure and an easy temper - for that
class of Caius Marius who sits upon the ruins of other people's
Carthages, can keep up his spirits well enough. He had looked in at
Solomon's shop sometimes, to ask a question about articles in
Solomon's way of business; and Walter knew him sufficiently to give
him good day when they met in the street. But as that was the extent
of the broker's acquaintance with Solomon Gills also, Walter was not a
little surprised when he came back in the course of the forenoon,
agreeably to his promise, to find Mr Brogley sitting in the back
parlour with his hands in his pockets, and his hat hanging up behind
the door.

'Well, Uncle Sol!' said Walter. The old man was sitting ruefully on
the opposite side of the table, with his spectacles over his eyes, for
a wonder, instead of on his forehead. 'How are you now?'

Solomon shook his head, and waved one hand towards the broker, as
introducing him.

'Is there anything the matter?' asked Walter, with a catching in
his breath.

'No, no. There's nothing the matter, said Mr Brogley. 'Don't let it
put you out of the way.' Walter looked from the broker to his Uncle in
mute amazement. 'The fact is,' said Mr Brogley, 'there's a little
payment on a bond debt - three hundred and seventy odd, overdue: and
I'm in possession.'

'In possession!' cried Walter, looking round at the shop.

'Ah!' said Mr Brogley, in confidential assent, and nodding his head
as if he would urge the advisability of their all being comfortable
together. 'It's an execution. That's what it is. Don't let it put you
out of the way. I come myself, because of keeping it quiet and
sociable. You know me. It's quite private.'

'Uncle Sol!' faltered Walter.

'Wally, my boy,' returned his uncle. 'It's the first time. Such a
calamity never happened to me before. I'm an old man to begin.'
Pushing up his spectacles again (for they were useless any longer to
conceal his emotion), he covered his face with his hand, and sobbed
aloud, and his tears fell down upon his coffee-coloured waistcoat.

'Uncle Sol! Pray! oh don't!' exclaimed Walter, who really felt a
thrill of terror in seeing the old man weep. 'For God's sake don't do
that. Mr Brogley, what shall I do?'

'I should recommend you looking up a friend or so,' said Mr
Brogley, 'and talking it over.'

'To be sure!' cried Walter, catching at anything. 'Certainly!
Thankee. Captain Cuttle's the man, Uncle. Wait till I run to Captain
Cuttle. Keep your eye upon my Uncle, will you, Mr Brogley, and make
him as comfortable as you can while I am gone? Don't despair, Uncle
Sol. Try and keep a good heart, there's a dear fellow!'

Saying this with great fervour, and disregarding the old man's
broken remonstrances, Walter dashed out of the shop again as hard as
he could go; and, having hurried round to the office to excuse himself
on the plea of his Uncle's sudden illness, set off, full speed, for
Captain Cuttle's residence.

Everything seemed altered as he ran along the streets. There were
the usual entanglement and noise of carts, drays, omnibuses, waggons,
and foot passengers, but the misfortune that had fallen on the wooden
Midshipman made it strange and new. Houses and shops were different
from what they used to be, and bore Mr Brogley's warrant on their
fronts in large characters. The broker seemed to have got hold of the
very churches; for their spires rose into the sky with an unwonted
air. Even the sky itself was changed, and had an execution in it

Captain Cuttle lived on the brink of a little canal near the India
Docks, where there was a swivel bridge which opened now and then to
let some wandering monster of a ship come roamIng up the street like a
stranded leviathan. The gradual change from land to water, on the
approach to Captain Cuttle's lodgings, was curious. It began with the
erection of flagstaffs, as appurtenances to public-houses; then came
slop-sellers' shops, with Guernsey shirts, sou'wester hats, and canvas
pantaloons, at once the tightest and the loosest of their order,
hanging up outside. These were succeeded by anchor and chain-cable
forges, where sledgehammers were dinging upon iron all day long. Then
came rows of houses, with little vane-surmounted masts uprearing
themselves from among the scarlet beans. Then, ditches. Then, pollard
willows. Then, more ditches. Then, unaccountable patches of dirty
water, hardly to be descried, for the ships that covered them. Then,
the air was perfumed with chips; and all other trades were swallowed
up in mast, oar, and block-making, and boatbuilding. Then, the ground
grew marshy and unsettled. Then, there was nothing to be smelt but rum
and sugar. Then, Captain Cuttle's lodgings - at once a first floor and
a top storey, in Brig Place - were close before you.

The Captain was one of those timber-looking men, suits of oak as
well as hearts, whom it is almost impossible for the liveliest
imagination to separate from any part of their dress, however
insignificant. Accordingly, when Walter knocked at the door, and the
Captain instantly poked his head out of one of his little front
windows, and hailed him, with the hard glared hat already on it, and
the shirt-collar like a sail, and the wide suit of blue, all standing
as usual, Walter was as fully persuaded that he was always in that
state, as if the Captain had been a bird and those had been his

'Wal'r, my lad!'said Captain Cuttle. 'Stand by and knock again.
Hard! It's washing day.'

Walter, in his impatience, gave a prodigious thump with the

'Hard it is!' said Captain Cuttle, and immediately drew in his
head, as if he expected a squall.

Nor was he mistaken: for a widow lady, with her sleeves rolled up
to her shoulders, and her arms frothy with soap-suds and smoking with
hot water, replied to the summons with startling rapidity. Before she
looked at Walter she looked at the knocker, and then, measuring him
with her eyes from head to foot, said she wondered he had left any of

'Captain Cuttle's at home, I know,' said Walter with a conciliatory

'Is he?' replied the widow lady. 'In-deed!'

'He has just been speaking to me,' said Walter, in breathless

'Has he?' replied the widow lady. 'Then p'raps you'll give him Mrs
MacStinger's respects, and say that the next time he lowers himself
and his lodgings by talking out of the winder she'll thank him to come
down and open the door too.' Mrs MacStinger spoke loud, and listened
for any observations that might be offered from the first floor.

'I'll mention it,' said Walter, 'if you'll have the goodness to let
me in, Ma'am.'

For he was repelled by a wooden fortification extending across the
doorway, and put there to prevent the little MacStingers in their
moments of recreation from tumbling down the steps.

'A boy that can knock my door down,' said Mrs MacStinger,
contemptuously, 'can get over that, I should hope!' But Walter, taking
this as a permission to enter, and getting over it, Mrs MacStinger
immediately demanded whether an Englishwoman's house was her castle or
not; and whether she was to be broke in upon by 'raff.' On these
subjects her thirst for information was still very importunate, when
Walter, having made his way up the little staircase through an
artificial fog occasioned by the washing, which covered the banisters
with a clammy perspiration, entered Captain Cuttle's room, and found
that gentleman in ambush behind the door.

'Never owed her a penny, Wal'r,' said Captain Cuttle, in a low
voice, and with visible marks of trepidation on his countenance. 'Done
her a world of good turns, and the children too. Vixen at times,
though. Whew!'

'I should go away, Captain Cuttle,' said Walter.

'Dursn't do it, Wal'r,' returned the Captain. 'She'd find me out,
wherever I went. Sit down. How's Gills?'

The Captain was dining (in his hat) off cold loin of mutton,
porter, and some smoking hot potatoes, which he had cooked himself,
and took out of a little saucepan before the fire as he wanted them.
He unscrewed his hook at dinner-time, and screwed a knife into its
wooden socket instead, with which he had already begun to peel one of
these potatoes for Walter. His rooms were very small, and strongly
impregnated with tobacco-smoke, but snug enough: everything being
stowed away, as if there were an earthquake regularly every half-hour.

'How's Gills?' inquired the Captain.

Walter, who had by this time recovered his breath, and lost his
spirits - or such temporary spirits as his rapid journey had given him
- looked at his questioner for a moment, said 'Oh, Captain Cuttle!'
and burst into tears.

No words can describe the Captain's consternation at this sight Mrs
MacStinger faded into nothing before it. He dropped the potato and the
fork - and would have dropped the knife too if he could - and sat
gazing at the boy, as if he expected to hear next moment that a gulf
had opened in the City, which had swallowed up his old friend,
coffee-coloured suit, buttons, chronometer, spectacles, and all.

But when Walter told him what was really the matter, Captain
Cuttle, after a moment's reflection, started up into full activity. He
emptied out of a little tin canister on the top shelf of the cupboard,
his whole stock of ready money (amounting to thirteen pounds and
half-a-crown), which he transferred to one of the pockets of his
square blue coat; further enriched that repository with the contents
of his plate chest, consisting of two withered atomies of tea-spoons,
and an obsolete pair of knock-knee'd sugar-tongs; pulled up his
immense double-cased silver watch from the depths in which it reposed,
to assure himself that that valuable was sound and whole; re-attached
the hook to his right wrist; and seizing the stick covered over with
knobs, bade Walter come along.

Remembering, however, in the midst of his virtuous excitement, that
Mrs MacStinger might be lying in wait below, Captain Cuttle hesitated
at last, not without glancing at the window, as if he had some
thoughts of escaping by that unusual means of egress, rather than
encounter his terrible enemy. He decided, however, in favour of

'Wal'r,' said the Captain, with a timid wink, 'go afore, my lad.
Sing out, "good-bye, Captain Cuttle," when you're in the passage, and
shut the door. Then wait at the corner of the street 'till you see me.

These directions were not issued without a previous knowledge of
the enemy's tactics, for when Walter got downstairs, Mrs MacStinger
glided out of the little back kitchen, like an avenging spirit. But
not gliding out upon the Captain, as she had expected, she merely made
a further allusion to the knocker, and glided in again.

Some five minutes elapsed before Captain Cuttle could summon
courage to attempt his escape; for Walter waited so long at the street
corner, looking back at the house, before there were any symptoms of
the hard glazed hat. At length the Captain burst out of the door with
the suddenness of an explosion, and coming towards him at a great
pace, and never once looking over his shoulder, pretended, as soon as
they were well out of the street, to whistle a tune.

'Uncle much hove down, Wal'r?' inquired the Captain, as they were
walking along.

'I am afraid so. If you had seen him this morning, you would never
have forgotten it.'

'Walk fast, Wal'r, my lad,' returned the Captain, mending his pace;
'and walk the same all the days of your life. Overhaul the catechism
for that advice, and keep it!'

The Captain was too busy with his own thoughts of Solomon Gills,
mingled perhaps with some reflections on his late escape from Mrs
MacStinger, to offer any further quotations on the way for Walter's
moral improvement They interchanged no other word until they arrived
at old Sol's door, where the unfortunate wooden Midshipman, with his
instrument at his eye, seemed to be surveying the whole horizon in
search of some friend to help him out of his difficulty.

'Gills!' said the Captain, hurrying into the back parlour, and
taking him by the hand quite tenderly. 'Lay your head well to the
wind, and we'll fight through it. All you've got to do,' said the
Captain, with the solemnity of a man who was delivering himself of one
of the most precious practical tenets ever discovered by human wisdom,
'is to lay your head well to the wind, and we'll fight through it!'

Old Sol returned the pressure of his hand, and thanked him.

Captain Cuttle, then, with a gravity suitable to the nature of the
occasion, put down upon the table the two tea-spoons and the
sugar-tongs, the silver watch, and the ready money; and asked Mr
Brogley, the broker, what the damage was.

'Come! What do you make of it?' said Captain Cuttle.

'Why, Lord help you!' returned the broker; 'you don't suppose that
property's of any use, do you?'

'Why not?' inquired the Captain.

'Why? The amount's three hundred and seventy, odd,' replied the

'Never mind,' returned the Captain, though he was evidently
dismayed by the figures: 'all's fish that comes to your net, I

'Certainly,' said Mr Brogley. 'But sprats ain't whales, you know.'

The philosophy of this observation seemed to strike the Captain. He
ruminated for a minute; eyeing the broker, meanwhile, as a deep
genius; and then called the Instrument-maker aside.

'Gills,' said Captain Cuttle, 'what's the bearings of this
business? Who's the creditor?'

'Hush!' returned the old man. 'Come away. Don't speak before Wally.
It's a matter of security for Wally's father - an old bond. I've paid
a good deal of it, Ned, but the times are so bad with me that I can't
do more just now. I've foreseen it, but I couldn't help it. Not a word
before Wally, for all the world.'

'You've got some money, haven't you?' whispered the Captain.

'Yes, yes - oh yes- I've got some,' returned old Sol, first putting
his hands into his empty pockets, and then squeezing his Welsh wig
between them, as if he thought he might wring some gold out of it;
'but I - the little I have got, isn't convertible, Ned; it can't be
got at. I have been trying to do something with it for Wally, and I'm
old fashioned, and behind the time. It's here and there, and - and, in
short, it's as good as nowhere,' said the old man, looking in
bewilderment about him.

He had so much the air of a half-witted person who had been hiding
his money in a variety of places, and had forgotten where, that the
Captain followed his eyes, not without a faint hope that he might
remember some few hundred pounds concealed up the chimney, or down in
the cellar. But Solomon Gills knew better than that.

'I'm behind the time altogether, my dear Ned,' said Sol, in
resigned despair, 'a long way. It's no use my lagging on so far behind
it. The stock had better be sold - it's worth more than this debt -
and I had better go and die somewhere, on the balance. I haven't any
energy left. I don't understand things. This had better be the end of
it. Let 'em sell the stock and take him down,' said the old man,
pointing feebly to the wooden Midshipman, 'and let us both be broken
up together.'

'And what d'ye mean to do with Wal'r?'said the Captain. 'There,
there! Sit ye down, Gills, sit ye down, and let me think o' this. If I
warn't a man on a small annuity, that was large enough till to-day, I
hadn't need to think of it. But you only lay your head well to the
wind,' said the Captain, again administering that unanswerable piece
of consolation, 'and you're all right!'

Old Sol thanked him from his heart, and went and laid it against
the back parlour fire-place instead.

Captain Cuttle walked up and down the shop for some time,
cogitating profoundly, and bringing his bushy black eyebrows to bear
so heavily on his nose, like clouds setting on a mountain, that Walter
was afraid to offer any interruption to the current of his
reflections. Mr Brogley, who was averse to being any constraint upon
the party, and who had an ingenious cast of mind, went, softly
whistling, among the stock; rattling weather-glasses, shaking
compasses as if they were physic, catching up keys with loadstones,
looking through telescopes, endeavouring to make himself acquainted
with the use of the globes, setting parallel rulers astride on to his
nose, and amusing himself with other philosophical transactions.

'Wal'r!' said the Captain at last. 'I've got it.'

'Have you, Captain Cuttle?' cried Walter, with great animation.

'Come this way, my lad,' said the Captain. 'The stock's the
security. I'm another. Your governor's the man to advance money.'

'Mr Dombey!' faltered Walter.

The Captain nodded gravely. 'Look at him,' he said. 'Look at Gills.
If they was to sell off these things now, he'd die of it. You know he
would. We mustn't leave a stone unturned - and there's a stone for

'A stone! - Mr Dombey!' faltered Walter.

'You run round to the office, first of all, and see if he's there,'
said Captain Cuttle, clapping him on the back. 'Quick!'

Walter felt he must not dispute the command - a glance at his Uncle
would have determined him if he had felt otherwise - and disappeared
to execute it. He soon returned, out of breath, to say that Mr Dombey
was not there. It was Saturday, and he had gone to Brighton.

'I tell you what, Wal'r!' said the Captain, who seemed to have
prepared himself for this contingency in his absence. 'We'll go to
Brighton. I'll back you, my boy. I'll back you, Wal'r. We'll go to
Brighton by the afternoon's coach.'

If the application must be made to Mr Dombey at all, which was
awful to think of, Walter felt that he would rather prefer it alone
and unassisted, than backed by the personal influence of Captain
Cuttle, to which he hardly thought Mr Dombey would attach much weight.
But as the Captain appeared to be of quite another opinion, and was
bent upon it, and as his friendship was too zealous and serious to be
trifled with by one so much younger than himself, he forbore to hint
the least objection. Cuttle, therefore, taking a hurried leave of
Solomon Gills, and returning the ready money, the teaspoons, the
sugar-tongs, and the silver watch, to his pocket - with a view, as
Walter thought, with horror, to making a gorgeous impression on Mr
Dombey - bore him off to the coach-office, with- out a minute's delay,
and repeatedly assured him, on the road, that he would stick by him to
the last.

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