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Книга Dombey and Son. Содержание - CHAPTER 26 Shadows of the Past and Future

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What the Captain suffered next day, whenever a bonnet passed, or how often he darted out of the shop to elude imaginary MacStingers, and sought safety in the attic, cannot be told. But to avoid the fatigues attendant on this means of self-preservation, the Captain curtained the glass door of communication between the shop and parlour, on the inside; fitted a key to it from the bunch that had been sent to him; and cut a small hole of espial in the wall. The advantage of this fortification is obvious. On a bonnet appearing, the Captain instantly slipped into his garrison, locked himself up, and took a secret observation of the enemy. Finding it a false alarm, the Captain instantly slipped out again. And the bonnets in the street were so very numerous, and alarms were so inseparable from their appearance, that the Captain was almost incessantly slipping in and out all day long.

Captain Cuttle found time, however, in the midst of this fatiguing service to inspect the stock; in connexion with which he had the general idea (very laborious to Rob) that too much friction could not be bestowed upon it, and that it could not be made too bright. He also ticketed a few attractive-looking articles at a venture, at prices ranging from ten shillings to fifty pounds, and exposed them in the window to the great astonishment of the public.

After effecting these improvements, Captain Cuttle, surrounded by the instruments, began to feel scientific: and looked up at the stars at night, through the skylight, when he was smoking his pipe in the little back parlour before going to bed, as if he had established a kind of property in them. As a tradesman in the City, too, he began to have an interest in the Lord Mayor, and the Sheriffs, and in Public Companies; and felt bound to read the quotations of the Funds every day, though he was unable to make out, on any principle of navigation, what the figures meant, and could have very well dispensed with the fractions. Florence, the Captain waited on, with his strange news of Uncle Sol, immediately after taking possession of the Midshipman; but she was away from home. So the Captain sat himself down in his altered station of life, with no company but Rob the Grinder; and losing count of time, as men do when great changes come upon them, thought musingly of Walter, and of Solomon Gills, and even of Mrs MacStinger herself, as among the things that had been.


Shadows of the Past and Future

'Your most obedient, Sir,' said the Major. 'Damme, Sir, a friend of my friend Dombey's is a friend of mine, and I'm glad to see you!'

'I am infinitely obliged, Carker,' explained Mr Dombey, 'to Major Bagstock, for his company and conversation. 'Major Bagstock has rendered me great service, Carker.'

Mr Carker the Manager, hat in hand, just arrived at Leamington, and just introduced to the Major, showed the Major his whole double range of teeth, and trusted he might take the liberty of thanking him with all his heart for having effected so great an Improvement in Mr Dombey's looks and spirits'

'By Gad, Sir,' said the Major, in reply, 'there are no thanks due to me, for it's a give and take affair. A great creature like our friend Dombey, Sir,' said the Major, lowering his voice, but not lowering it so much as to render it inaudible to that gentleman, 'cannot help improving and exalting his friends. He strengthens and invigorates a man, Sir, does Dombey, in his moral nature.'

Mr Carker snapped at the expression. In his moral nature. Exactly.

The very words he had been on the point of suggesting.

'But when my friend Dombey, Sir,' added the Major, 'talks to you of Major Bagstock, I must crave leave to set him and you right. He means plain Joe, Sir — Joey B. — Josh. Bagstock — Joseph— rough and tough Old J., Sir. At your service.'

Mr Carker's excessively friendly inclinations towards the Major, and Mr Carker's admiration of his roughness, toughness, and plainness, gleamed out of every tooth in Mr Carker's head.

'And now, Sir,' said the Major, 'you and Dombey have the devil's own amount of business to talk over.'

'By no means, Major,' observed Mr Dombey.

'Dombey,' said the Major, defiantly, 'I know better; a man of your mark — the Colossus of commerce — is not to be interrupted. Your moments are precious. We shall meet at dinner-time. In the interval, old Joseph will be scarce. The dinner-hour is a sharp seven, Mr Carker.'

With that, the Major, greatly swollen as to his face, withdrew; but immediately putting in his head at the door again, said: 'I beg your pardon. Dombey, have you any message to 'em?'

Mr Dombey in some embarrassment, and not without a glance at the courteous keeper of his business confidence, entrusted the Major with his compliments.

'By the Lord, Sir,' said the Major, 'you must make it something warmer than that, or old Joe will be far from welcome.'

'Regards then, if you will, Major,' returned Mr Dombey.

'Damme, Sir,' said the Major, shaking his shoulders and his great cheeks jocularly: 'make it something warmer than that.'

'What you please, then, Major,' observed Mr Dombey.

'Our friend is sly, Sir, sly, Sir, de-vilish sly,' said the Major, staring round the door at Carker. 'So is Bagstock.' But stopping in the midst of a chuckle, and drawing himself up to his full height, the Major solemnly exclaimed, as he struck himself on the chest, 'Dombey!

I envy your feelings. God bless you!' and withdrew.

'You must have found the gentleman a great resource,' said Carker, following him with his teeth.

'Very great indeed,' said Mr Dombey.

'He has friends here, no doubt,' pursued Carker. 'I perceive, from what he has said, that you go into society here. Do you know,' smiling horribly, 'I am so very glad that you go into society!'

Mr Dombey acknowledged this display of interest on the part of his second in command, by twirling his watch-chain, and slightly moving his head.

'You were formed for society,' said Carker. 'Of all the men I know, you are the best adapted, by nature and by position, for society. Do you know I have been frequently amazed that you should have held it at arm's length so long!'

'I have had my reasons, Carker. I have been alone, and indifferent to it. But you have great social qualifications yourself, and are the more likely to have been surprised.'

'Oh! I!' returned the other, with ready self-disparagement. 'It's quite another matter in the case of a man like me. I don't come into comparison with you.'

Mr Dombey put his hand to his neckcloth, settled his chin in it, coughed, and stood looking at his faithful friend and servant for a few moments in silence.

'I shall have the pleasure, Carker,' said Mr Dombey at length: making as if he swallowed something a little too large for his throat: 'to present you to my — to the Major's friends. Highly agreeable people.'

'Ladies among them, I presume?' insinuated the smooth Manager.

'They are all — that is to say, they are both — ladies,' replied Mr Dombey.

'Only two?' smiled Carker.

'They are only two. I have confined my visits to their residence, and have made no other acquaintance here.'

'Sisters, perhaps?' quoth Carker.

'Mother and daughter,' replied Mr Dombey.

As Mr Dombey dropped his eyes, and adjusted his neckcloth again, the smiling face of Mr Carker the Manager became in a moment, and without any stage of transition, transformed into a most intent and frowning face, scanning his closely, and with an ugly sneer. As Mr Dombey raised his eyes, it changed back, no less quickly, to its old expression, and showed him every gum of which it stood possessed.

'You are very kind,' said Carker, 'I shall be delighted to know them. Speaking of daughters, I have seen Miss Dombey.'

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