Couldn’t something temporary be done with a teapot?

Background.

itemCouldn’t something temporary be done with a teapot?” is a quotation from Dombey and Son (Chapter 2).

item Dombey and Son was Charles Dickens’s seventh novel, published between 1846 and 1848.

 

Context.

item Quote said by John Chick.

item Taken from the following passage in Chapter 2 of Dombey and Son:

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.

 

 

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