Книга Dombey and Son. Содержание - CHAPTER 57 Another Wedding
His patron being much engaged with his own thoughts, did not observe this for some time, nor indeed until the Chicken, determined not to be overlooked, had made divers clicking sounds with his tongue and teeth, to attract attention.
'Now, Master,' said the Chicken, doggedly, when he, at length, caught Mr Toots's eye, 'I want to know whether this here gammon is to finish it, or whether you're a going in to win?'
'Chicken,' returned Mr Toots, 'explain yourself.'
'Why then, here's all about it, Master,' said the Chicken. 'I ain't a cove to chuck a word away. Here's wot it is. Are any on 'em to be doubled up?'
When the Chicken put this question he dropped his hat, made a dodge and a feint with his left hand, hit a supposed enemy a violent blow with his right, shook his head smartly, and recovered himself'
'Come, Master,' said the Chicken. 'Is it to be gammon or pluck?
Chicken,' returned Mr Toots, 'your expressions are coarse, and your meaning is obscure.'
'Why, then, I tell you what, Master,' said the Chicken. 'This is where it is. It's mean.'
'What is mean, Chicken?' asked Mr Toots.
'It is,' said the Chicken, with a frightful corrugation of his broken nose. 'There! Now, Master! Wot! When you could go and blow on this here match to the stiff'un;' by which depreciatory appellation it has been since supposed that the Game One intended to signify Mr Dombey; 'and when you could knock the winner and all the kit of 'em dead out o' wind and time, are you going to give in? To give in? 'said the Chicken, with contemptuous emphasis. 'Wy, it's mean!'
'Chicken,' said Mr Toots, severely, 'you're a perfect Vulture! Your sentiments are atrocious.'
'My sentiments is Game and Fancy, Master,' returned the Chicken.
'That's wot my sentiments is. I can't abear a meanness. I'm afore the public, I'm to be heerd on at the bar of the Little Helephant, and no Gov'ner o' mine mustn't go and do what's mean. Wy, it's mean,' said the Chicken, with increased expression. 'That's where it is. It's mean.'
'Chicken,' said Mr Toots, 'you disgust me.'
'Master,' returned the Chicken, putting on his hat, 'there's a pair on us, then. Come! Here's a offer! You've spoke to me more than once't or twice't about the public line. Never mind! Give me a fi'typunnote to-morrow, and let me go.'
'Chicken,' returned Mr Toots, 'after the odious sentiments you have expressed, I shall be glad to part on such terms.'
'Done then,' said the Chicken. 'It's a bargain. This here conduct of yourn won't suit my book, Master. Wy, it's mean,' said the Chicken; who seemed equally unable to get beyond that point, and to stop short of it. 'That's where it is; it's mean!'
So Mr Toots and the Chicken agreed to part on this incompatibility of moral perception; and Mr Toots lying down to sleep, dreamed happily of Florence, who had thought of him as her friend upon the last night of her maiden life, and who had sent him her dear love.
Mr Sownds the beadle, and Mrs Miff the pew-opener, are early at their posts in the fine church where Mr Dombey was married. A yellow-faced old gentleman from India, is going to take unto himself a young wife this morning, and six carriages full of company are expected, and Mrs Miff has been informed that the yellow-faced old gentleman could pave the road to church with diamonds and hardly miss them. The nuptial benediction is to be a superior one, proceeding from a very reverend, a dean, and the lady is to be given away, as an extraordinary present, by somebody who comes express from the Horse Guards Mrs Miff is more intolerant of common people this morning, than she generally is; and she his always strong opinions on that subject, for it is associated with free sittings. Mrs Miff is not a student of political economy (she thinks the science is connected with dissenters; 'Baptists or Wesleyans, or some o' them,' she says), but she can never understand what business your common folks have to be married. 'Drat 'em,' says Mrs Miff 'you read the same things over 'em' and instead of sovereigns get sixpences!'
Mr Sownds the beadle is more liberal than Mrs Miff — but then he is not a pew-opener. 'It must be done, Ma'am,' he says. 'We must marry 'em. We must have our national schools to walk at the head of, and we must have our standing armies. We must marry 'em, Ma'am,' says Mr Sownds, 'and keep the country going.'
Mr Sownds is sitting on the steps and Mrs Miff is dusting in the church, when a young couple, plainly dressed, come in. The mortified bonnet of Mrs Miff is sharply turned towards them, for she espies in this early visit indications of a runaway match. But they don't want to be married — 'Only,' says the gentleman, 'to walk round the church.' And as he slips a genteel compliment into the palm of Mrs Miff, her vinegary face relaxes, and her mortified bonnet and her spare dry figure dip and crackle.
Mrs Miff resumes her dusting and plumps up her cushions — for the yellow-faced old gentleman is reported to have tender knees — but keeps her glazed, pew-opening eye on the young couple who are walking round the church. 'Ahem,' coughs Mrs Miff whose cough is drier than the hay in any hassock in her charge, 'you'll come to us one of these mornings, my dears, unless I'm much mistaken!'
They are looking at a tablet on the wall, erected to the memory of someone dead. They are a long way off from Mrs Miff, but Mrs Miff can see with half an eye how she is leaning on his arm, and how his head is bent down over her. 'Well, well,' says Mrs Miff, 'you might do worse. For you're a tidy pair!'
There is nothing personal in Mrs Miff's remark. She merely speaks of stock-in-trade. She is hardly more curious in couples than in coffins. She is such a spare, straight, dry old lady — such a pew of a woman — that you should find as many individual sympathies in a chip.
Mr Sownds, now, who is fleshy, and has scarlet in his coat, is of a different temperament. He says, as they stand upon the steps watching the young couple away, that she has a pretty figure, hasn't she, and as well as he could see (for she held her head down coming out), an uncommon pretty face. 'Altogether, Mrs Miff,' says Mr Sownds with a relish, 'she is what you may call a rose-bud.'
Mrs Miff assents with a spare nod of her mortified bonnet; but approves of this so little, that she inwardly resolves she wouldn't be the wife of Mr Sownds for any money he could give her, Beadle as he is.
And what are the young couple saying as they leave the church, and go out at the gate? 'Dear Walter, thank you! I can go away, now, happy.'
'And when we come back, Florence, we will come and see his grave again.'
Florence lifts her eyes, so bright with tears, to his kind face; and clasps her disengaged hand on that other modest little hand which clasps his arm.
'It is very early, Walter, and the streets are almost empty yet.
Let us walk.'
'But you will be so tired, my love.'
'Oh no! I was very tired the first time that we ever walked together, but I shall not be so to-day.' And thus — not much changed — she, as innocent and earnest-hearted — he, as frank, as hopeful, and more proud of her — Florence and Walter, on their bridal morning, walk through the streets together.
Not even in that childish walk of long ago, were they so far removed from all the world about them as to-day. The childish feet of long ago, did not tread such enchanted ground as theirs do now. The confidence and love of children may be given many times, and will spring up in many places; but the woman's heart of Florence, with its undivided treasure, can be yielded only once, and under slight or change, can only droop and die.
They take the streets that are the quietest, and do not go near that in which her old home stands. It is a fair, warm summer morning, and the sun shines on them, as they walk towards the darkening mist that overspreads the City. Riches are uncovering in shops; jewels, gold, and silver flash in the goldsmith's sunny windows; and great houses cast a stately shade upon them as they pass. But through the light, and through the shade, they go on lovingly together, lost to everything around; thinking of no other riches, and no prouder home, than they have now in one another.