Книга Dombey and Son. Содержание - CHAPTER 2 In which Timely Provision is made for an Emergency that will sometimes arise in the best-regulated Families
'Can nothing be done?' asked Mr Dombey.
The Doctor shook his head. 'We can do no more.'
The windows stood open, and the twilight was gathering without.
The scent of the restoratives that had been tried was pungent in the room, but had no fragrance in the dull and languid air the lady breathed.
There was such a solemn stillness round the bed; and the two medical attendants seemed to look on the impassive form with so much compassion and so little hope, that Mrs Chick was for the moment diverted from her purpose. But presently summoning courage, and what she called presence of mind, she sat down by the bedside, and said in the low precise tone of one who endeavours to awaken a sleeper: 'Fanny! Fanny!'
There was no sound in answer but the loud ticking of Mr Dombey's watch and Doctor Parker Peps's watch, which seemed in the silence to be running a race.
'Fanny, my dear,' said Mrs Chick, with assumed lightness, 'here's Mr Dombey come to see you. Won't you speak to him? They want to lay your little boy — the baby, Fanny, you know; you have hardly seen him yet, I think — in bed; but they can't till you rouse yourself a little. Don't you think it's time you roused yourself a little? Eh?'
She bent her ear to the bed, and listened: at the same time looking round at the bystanders, and holding up her finger.
'Eh?' she repeated, 'what was it you said, Fanny? I didn't hear you.'
No word or sound in answer. Mr Dombey's watch and Dr Parker Peps's watch seemed to be racing faster.
'Now, really, Fanny my dear,' said the sister-in-law, altering her position, and speaking less confidently, and more earnestly, in spite of herself, 'I shall have to be quite cross with you, if you don't rouse yourself. It's necessary for you to make an effort, and perhaps a very great and painful effort which you are not disposed to make; but this is a world of effort you know, Fanny, and we must never yield, when so much depends upon us. Come! Try! I must really scold you if you don't!'
The race in the ensuing pause was fierce and furious. The watches seemed to jostle, and to trip each other up.
'Fanny!' said Louisa, glancing round, with a gathering alarm. 'Only look at me. Only open your eyes to show me that you hear and understand me; will you? Good Heaven, gentlemen, what is to be done!'
The two medical attendants exchanged a look across the bed; and the Physician, stooping down, whispered in the child's ear. Not having understood the purport of his whisper, the little creature turned her perfectly colourless face and deep dark eyes towards him; but without loosening her hold in the least The whisper was repeated.
'Mama!' said the child.
The little voice, familiar and dearly loved, awakened some show of consciousness, even at that ebb. For a moment, the closed eye lids trembled, and the nostril quivered, and the faintest shadow of a smile was seen.
'Mama!' cried the child sobbing aloud. 'Oh dear Mama! oh dear Mama!'
The Doctor gently brushed the scattered ringlets of the child, aside from the face and mouth of the mother. Alas how calm they lay there; how little breath there was to stir them!
Thus, clinging fast to that slight spar within her arms, the mother drifted out upon the dark and unknown sea that rolls round all the world.
In which Timely Provision is made for an Emergency that will sometimes arise in the best-regulated Families
'I shall never cease to congratulate myself,' said Mrs Chick,' on having said, when I little thought what was in store for us, — really as if I was inspired by something, — that I forgave poor dear Fanny everything. Whatever happens, that must always be a comfort to me!'
Mrs Chick made this impressive observation in the drawing-room, after having descended thither from the inspection of the mantua-makers upstairs, who were busy on the family mourning. She delivered it for the behoof of Mr Chick, who was a stout bald gentleman, with a very large face, and his hands continually in his pockets, and who had a tendency in his nature to whistle and hum tunes, which, sensible of the indecorum of such sounds in a house of grief, he was at some pains to repress at present.
'Don't you over-exert yourself, Loo,' said Mr Chick, 'or you'll be laid up with spasms, I see. Right tol loor rul! Bless my soul, I forgot! We're here one day and gone the next!'
Mrs Chick contented herself with a glance of reproof, and then proceeded with the thread of her discourse.
'I am sure,' she said, 'I hope this heart-rending occurrence will be a warning to all of us, to accustom ourselves to rouse ourselves, and to make efforts in time where they're required of us. There's a moral in everything, if we would only avail ourselves of it. It will be our own faults if we lose sight of this one.'
Mr Chick invaded the grave silence which ensued on this remark with the singularly inappropriate air of 'A cobbler there was;' and checking himself, in some confusion, observed, that it was undoubtedly our own faults if we didn't improve such melancholy occasions as the present.
'Which might be better improved, I should think, Mr C.,' retorted his helpmate, after a short pause, 'than by the introduction, either of the college hornpipe, or the equally unmeaning and unfeeling remark of rump-te-iddity, bow-wow-wow!' — which Mr Chick had indeed indulged in, under his breath, and which Mrs Chick repeated in a tone of withering scorn.
'Merely habit, my dear,' pleaded Mr Chick.
'Nonsense! Habit!' returned his wife. 'If you're a rational being, don't make such ridiculous excuses. Habit! If I was to get a habit (as you call it) of walking on the ceiling, like the flies, I should hear enough of it, I daresay.
It appeared so probable that such a habit might be attended with some degree of notoriety, that Mr Chick didn't venture to dispute the position.
'Bow-wow-wow!' repeated Mrs Chick with an emphasis of blighting contempt on the last syllable. 'More like a professional singer with the hydrophobia, than a man in your station of life!'
'How's the Baby, Loo?' asked Mr Chick: to change the subject.
'What Baby do you mean?' answered Mrs Chick.
'The poor bereaved little baby,' said Mr Chick. 'I don't know of any other, my dear.'
'You don't know of any other,'retorted Mrs Chick. 'More shame for you, I was going to say.
Mr Chick looked astonished.
'I am sure the morning I have had, with that dining-room downstairs, one mass of babies, no one in their senses would believe.'
'One mass of babies!' repeated Mr Chick, staring with an alarmed expression about him.
'It would have occurred to most men,' said Mrs Chick, 'that poor dear Fanny being no more, — those words of mine will always be a balm and comfort to me,' here she dried her eyes; 'it becomes necessary to provide a Nurse.'
'Oh! Ah!' said Mr Chick. 'Toor-ru! — such is life, I mean. I hope you are suited, my dear.'
'Indeed I am not,' said Mrs Chick; 'nor likely to be, so far as I can see, and in the meantime the poor child seems likely to be starved to death. Paul is so very particular — naturally so, of course, having set his whole heart on this one boy — and there are so many objections to everybody that offers, that I don't see, myself, the least chance of an arrangement. Meanwhile, of course, the child is — '
'Going to the Devil,' said Mr Chick, thoughtfully, 'to be sure.'
Admonished, however, that he had committed himself, by the indignation expressed in Mrs Chick's countenance at the idea of a Dombey going there; and thinking to atone for his misconduct by a bright suggestion, he added: 'Couldn't something temporary be done with a teapot?'
If he had meant to bring the subject prematurely to a close, he could not have done it more effectually. After looking at him for some moments in silent resignation, Mrs Chick said she trusted he hadn't said it in aggravation, because that would do very little honour to his heart. She trusted he hadn't said it seriously, because that would do very little honour to his head. As in any case, he couldn't, however sanguine his disposition, hope to offer a remark that would be a greater outrage on human nature in general, we would beg to leave the discussion at that point.