The grand half-yearly festival holden by Doctor and Mrs Blimber, on which occasion they requested the pleasure of the company of every young gentleman pursuing his studies in that genteel establishment, at an early party, when the hour was half-past seven o’clock, and when the object was quadrilles, had duly taken place, about this time; and the young gentlemen, with no unbecoming demonstrations of levity, had betaken themselves, in a state of scholastic repletion, to their own homes. Mr Skettles had repaired abroad, permanently to grace the establishment of his father Sir Barnet Skettles, whose popular manners had obtained him a diplomatic appointment, the honours of which were discharged by himself and Lady Skettles, to the satisfaction even of their own countrymen and countrywomen: which was considered almost miraculous. Mr Tozer, now a young man of lofty stature, in Wellington boots, was so extremely full of antiquity as to be nearly on a par with a genuine ancient Roman in his knowledge of English: a triumph that affected his good parents with the tenderest emotions, and caused the father and mother of Mr Briggs (whose learning, like ill-arranged luggage, was so tightly packed that he couldn’t get at anything he wanted) to hide their diminished heads. The fruit labouriously gathered from the tree of knowledge by this latter young gentleman, in fact, had been subjected to so much pressure, that it had become a kind of intellectual Norfolk Biffin, and had nothing of its original form or flavour remaining. Master Bitherstone now, on whom the forcing system had the happier and not uncommon effect of leaving no impression whatever, when the forcing apparatus ceased to work, was in a much more comfortable plight; and being then on shipboard, bound for Bengal, found himself forgetting, with such admirable rapidity, that it was doubtful whether his declensions of noun-substantives would hold out to the end of the voyage.
When Doctor Blimber, in pursuance of the usual course, would have said to the young gentlemen, on the morning of the party, ‘Gentlemen, we will resume our studies on the twenty-fifth of next month,’ he departed from the usual course, and said, ‘Gentlemen, when our friend Cincinnatus retired to his farm, he did not present to the senate any Roman who he sought to nominate as his successor. But there is a Roman here,’ said Doctor Blimber, laying his hand on the shoulder of Mr Feeder, B.A., ‘adolescens imprimis gravis et doctus, gentlemen, whom I, a retiring Cincinnatus, wish to present to my little senate, as their future Dictator. Gentlemen, we will resume our studies on the twenty-fifth of next month, under the auspices of Mr Feeder, B.A.’ At this (which Doctor Blimber had previously called upon all the parents, and urbanely explained), the young gentlemen cheered; and Mr Tozer, on behalf of the rest, instantly presented the Doctor with a silver inkstand, in a speech containing very little of the mother-tongue, but fifteen quotations from the Latin, and seven from the Greek, which moved the younger of the young gentlemen to discontent and envy: they remarking, ‘Oh, ah. It was all very well for old Tozer, but they didn’t subscribe money for old Tozer to show off with, they supposed; did they? What business was it of old Tozer’s more than anybody else’s? It wasn’t his inkstand. Why couldn’t he leave the boys’ property alone?’ and murmuring other expressions of their dissatisfaction, which seemed to find a greater relief in calling him old Tozer, than in any other available vent.
Not a word had been said to the young gentlemen, nor a hint dropped, of anything like a contemplated marriage between Mr Feeder, B.A., and the fair Cornelia Blimber. Doctor Blimber, especially, seemed to take pains to look as if nothing would surprise him more; but it was perfectly well known to all the young gentlemen nevertheless, and when they departed for the society of their relations and friends, they took leave of Mr Feeder with awe.
Mr Feeder’s most romantic visions were fulfilled. The Doctor had determined to paint the house outside, and put it in thorough repair; and to give up the business, and to give up Cornelia. The painting and repairing began upon the very day of the young gentlemen’s departure, and now behold! the wedding morning was come, and Cornelia, in a new pair of spectacles, was waiting to be led to the hymeneal altar.
The Doctor with his learned legs, and Mrs Blimber in a lilac bonnet, and Mr Feeder, B.A., with his long knuckles and his bristly head of hair, and Mr Feeder’s brother, the Reverend Alfred Feeder, M.A., who was to perform the ceremony, were all assembled in the drawing-room, and Cornelia with her orange-flowers and bridesmaids had just come down, and looked, as of old, a little squeezed in appearance, but very charming, when the door opened, and the weak-eyed young man, in a loud voice, made the following proclamation:
‘MR AND MRS TOOTS!’
Upon which there entered Mr Toots, grown extremely stout, and on his arm a lady very handsomely and becomingly dressed, with very bright black eyes.
‘Mrs Blimber,’ said Mr Toots, ‘allow me to present my wife.’
Mrs Blimber was delighted to receive her. Mrs Blimber was a little condescending, but extremely kind.
‘And as you’ve known me for a long time, you know,’ said Mr Toots, ‘let me assure you that she is one of the most remarkable women that ever lived.’
‘My dear!’ remonstrated Mrs Toots.
‘Upon my word and honour she is,’ said Mr Toots. ‘I—I assure you, Mrs Blimber, she’s a most extraordinary woman.’
Mrs Toots laughed merrily, and Mrs Blimber led her to Cornelia. Mr Toots having paid his respects in that direction and having saluted his old preceptor, who said, in allusion to his conjugal state, ‘Well, Toots, well, Toots! So you are one of us, are you, Toots?’—retired with Mr Feeder, B.A., into a window.
Mr Feeder, B.A., being in great spirits, made a spar at Mr Toots, and tapped him skilfully with the back of his hand on the breastbone.
‘Well, old Buck!’ said Mr Feeder with a laugh. ‘Well! Here we are! Taken in and done for. Eh?’
‘Feeder,’ returned Mr Toots. ‘I give you joy. If you’re as—as—as perfectly blissful in a matrimonial life, as I am myself, you’ll have nothing to desire.’
‘I don’t forget my old friends, you see,’ said Mr Feeder. ‘I ask em to my wedding, Toots.’
‘Feeder,’ replied Mr Toots gravely, ‘the fact is, that there were several circumstances which prevented me from communicating with you until after my marriage had been solemnised. In the first place, I had made a perfect brute of myself to you, on the subject of Miss Dombey; and I felt that if you were asked to any wedding of mine, you would naturally expect that it was with Miss Dombey, which involved explanations, that upon my word and honour, at that crisis, would have knocked me completely over. In the second place, our wedding was strictly private; there being nobody present but one friend of myself and Mrs Toots’s, who is a Captain in—I don’t exactly know in what,’ said Mr Toots, ‘but it’s of no consequence. I hope, Feeder, that in writing a statement of what had occurred before Mrs Toots and myself went abroad upon our foreign tour, I fully discharged the offices of friendship.’
‘Toots, my boy,’ said Mr Feeder, shaking his hands, ‘I was joking.’
‘And now, Feeder,’ said Mr Toots, ‘I should be glad to know what you think of my union.’
‘Capital!’ returned Mr Feeder.
‘You think it’s capital, do you, Feeder?’ said Mr Toots solemnly. ‘Then how capital must it be to Me! For you can never know what an extraordinary woman that is.’
Mr Feeder was willing to take it for granted. But Mr Toots shook his head, and wouldn’t hear of that being possible.
‘You see,’ said Mr Toots, ‘what I wanted in a wife was—in short, was sense. Money, Feeder, I had. Sense I—I had not, particularly.’
Mr Feeder murmured, ‘Oh, yes, you had, Toots!’ But Mr Toots said:
‘No, Feeder, I had not. Why should I disguise it? I had not. I knew that sense was There,’ said Mr Toots, stretching out his hand towards his wife, ‘in perfect heaps. I had no relation to object or be offended, on the score of station; for I had no relation. I have never had anybody belonging to me but my guardian, and him, Feeder, I have always considered as a Pirate and a Corsair. Therefore, you know it was not likely,’ said Mr Toots, ‘that I should take his opinion.’
‘No,’ said Mr Feeder.
‘Accordingly,’ resumed Mr Toots, ‘I acted on my own. Bright was the day on which I did so! Feeder! Nobody but myself can tell what the capacity of that woman’s mind is. If ever the Rights of Women, and all that kind of thing, are properly attended to, it will be through her powerful intellect—Susan, my dear!’ said Mr Toots, looking abruptly out of the windows ‘pray do not exert yourself!’
‘My dear,’ said Mrs Toots, ‘I was only talking.’
‘But, my love,’ said Mr Toots, ‘pray do not exert yourself. You really must be careful. Do not, my dear Susan, exert yourself. She’s so easily excited,’ said Mr Toots, apart to Mrs Blimber, ‘and then she forgets the medical man altogether.’
Mrs Blimber was impressing on Mrs Toots the necessity of caution, when Mr Feeder, B.A., offered her his arm, and led her down to the carriages that were waiting to go to church. Doctor Blimber escorted Mrs Toots. Mr Toots escorted the fair bride, around whose lambent spectacles two gauzy little bridesmaids fluttered like moths. Mr Feeder’s brother, Mr Alfred Feeder, M.A., had already gone on, in advance, to assume his official functions.
The ceremony was performed in an admirable manner. Cornelia, with her crisp little curls, ‘went in,’ as the Chicken might have said, with great composure; and Doctor Blimber gave her away, like a man who had quite made up his mind to it. The gauzy little bridesmaids appeared to suffer most. Mrs Blimber was affected, but gently so; and told the Reverend Mr Alfred Feeder, M.A., on the way home, that if she could only have seen Cicero in his retirement at Tusculum, she would not have had a wish, now, ungratified.
There was a breakfast afterwards, limited to the same small party; at which the spirits of Mr Feeder, B.A., were tremendous, and so communicated themselves to Mrs Toots that Mr Toots was several times heard to observe, across the table, ‘My dear Susan, don’t exert yourself!’ The best of it was, that Mr Toots felt it incumbent on him to make a speech; and in spite of a whole code of telegraphic dissuasions from Mrs Toots, appeared on his legs for the first time in his life.
‘I really,’ said Mr Toots, ‘in this house, where whatever was done to me in the way of—of any mental confusion sometimes—which is of no consequence and I impute to nobody—I was always treated like one of Doctor Blimber’s family, and had a desk to myself for a considerable period—can—not—allow—my friend Feeder to be—’
Mrs Toots suggested ‘married.’
‘It may not be inappropriate to the occasion, or altogether uninteresting,’ said Mr Toots with a delighted face, ‘to observe that my wife is a most extraordinary woman, and would do this much better than myself—allow my friend Feeder to be married—especially to—’
Mrs Toots suggested ‘to Miss Blimber.’
‘To Mrs Feeder, my love!’ said Mr Toots, in a subdued tone of private discussion: “‘whom God hath joined,” you know, “let no man”—don’t you know? I cannot allow my friend Feeder to be married—especially to Mrs Feeder—without proposing their—their—Toasts; and may,’ said Mr Toots, fixing his eyes on his wife, as if for inspiration in a high flight, ‘may the torch of Hymen be the beacon of joy, and may the flowers we have this day strewed in their path, be the—the banishers of—of gloom!’
Doctor Blimber, who had a taste for metaphor, was pleased with this, and said, ‘Very good, Toots! Very well said, indeed, Toots!’ and nodded his head and patted his hands. Mr Feeder made in reply, a comic speech chequered with sentiment. Mr Alfred Feeder, M.A., was afterwards very happy on Doctor and Mrs Blimber; Mr Feeder, B.A., scarcely less so, on the gauzy little bridesmaids. Doctor Blimber then, in a sonorous voice, delivered a few thoughts in the pastoral style, relative to the rushes among which it was the intention of himself and Mrs Blimber to dwell, and the bee that would hum around their cot. Shortly after which, as the Doctor’s eyes were twinkling in a remarkable manner, and his son-in-law had already observed that time was made for slaves, and had inquired whether Mrs Toots sang, the discreet Mrs Blimber dissolved the sitting, and sent Cornelia away, very cool and comfortable, in a post-chaise, with the man of her heart.
Mr and Mrs Toots withdrew to the Bedford (Mrs Toots had been there before in old times, under her maiden name of Nipper), and there found a letter, which it took Mr Toots such an enormous time to read, that Mrs Toots was frightened.
‘My dear Susan,’ said Mr Toots, ‘fright is worse than exertion. Pray be calm!’
‘Who is it from?’ asked Mrs Toots.
‘Why, my love,’ said Mr Toots, ‘it’s from Captain Gills. Do not excite yourself. Walters and Miss Dombey are expected home!’
‘My dear,’ said Mrs Toots, raising herself quickly from the sofa, very pale, ‘don’t try to deceive me, for it’s no use, they’re come home—I see it plainly in your face!’
‘She’s a most extraordinary woman!’ exclaimed Mr Toots, in rapturous admiration. ‘You’re perfectly right, my love, they have come home. Miss Dombey has seen her father, and they are reconciled!’
‘Reconciled!’ cried Mrs Toots, clapping her hands.
‘My dear,’ said Mr Toots; ‘pray do not exert yourself. Do remember the medical man! Captain Gills says—at least he don’t say, but I imagine, from what I can make out, he means—that Miss Dombey has brought her unfortunate father away from his old house, to one where she and Walters are living; that he is lying very ill there—supposed to be dying; and that she attends upon him night and day.’
Mrs Toots began to cry quite bitterly.
‘My dearest Susan,’ replied Mr Toots, ‘do, do, if you possibly can, remember the medical man! If you can’t, it’s of no consequence—but do endeavour to!’
His wife, with her old manner suddenly restored, so pathetically entreated him to take her to her precious pet, her little mistress, her own darling, and the like, that Mr Toots, whose sympathy and admiration were of the strongest kind, consented from his very heart of hearts; and they agreed to depart immediately, and present themselves in answer to the Captain’s letter.
Now some hidden sympathies of things, or some coincidences, had that day brought the Captain himself (toward whom Mr and Mrs Toots were soon journeying) into the flowery train of wedlock; not as a principal, but as an accessory. It happened accidentally, and thus:
The Captain, having seen Florence and her baby for a moment, to his unbounded content, and having had a long talk with Walter, turned out for a walk; feeling it necessary to have some solitary meditation on the changes of human affairs, and to shake his glazed hat profoundly over the fall of Mr Dombey, for whom the generosity and simplicity of his nature were awakened in a lively manner. The Captain would have been very low, indeed, on the unhappy gentleman’s account, but for the recollection of the baby; which afforded him such intense satisfaction whenever it arose, that he laughed aloud as he went along the street, and, indeed, more than once, in a sudden impulse of joy, threw up his glazed hat and caught it again; much to the amazement of the spectators. The rapid alternations of light and shade to which these two conflicting subjects of reflection exposed the Captain, were so very trying to his spirits, that he felt a long walk necessary to his composure; and as there is a great deal in the influence of harmonious associations, he chose, for the scene of this walk, his old neighbourhood, down among the mast, oar, and block makers, ship-biscuit bakers, coal-whippers, pitch-kettles, sailors, canals, docks, swing-bridges, and other soothing objects.
These peaceful scenes, and particularly the region of Limehouse Hole and thereabouts, were so influential in calming the Captain, that he walked on with restored tranquillity, and was, in fact, regaling himself, under his breath, with the ballad of Lovely Peg, when, on turning a corner, he was suddenly transfixed and rendered speechless by a triumphant procession that he beheld advancing towards him.
This awful demonstration was headed by that determined woman Mrs MacStinger, who, preserving a countenance of inexorable resolution, and wearing conspicuously attached to her obdurate bosom a stupendous watch and appendages, which the Captain recognised at a glance as the property of Bunsby, conducted under her arm no other than that sagacious mariner; he, with the distraught and melancholy visage of a captive borne into a foreign land, meekly resigning himself to her will. Behind them appeared the young MacStingers, in a body, exulting. Behind them, two ladies of a terrible and steadfast aspect, leading between them a short gentleman in a tall hat, who likewise exulted. In the wake, appeared Bunsby’s boy, bearing umbrellas. The whole were in good marching order; and a dreadful smartness that pervaded the party would have sufficiently announced, if the intrepid countenances of the ladies had been wanting, that it was a procession of sacrifice, and that the victim was Bunsby.
The first impulse of the Captain was to run away. This also appeared to be the first impulse of Bunsby, hopeless as its execution must have proved. But a cry of recognition proceeding from the party, and Alexander MacStinger running up to the Captain with open arms, the Captain struck.
‘Well, Cap’en Cuttle!’ said Mrs MacStinger. ‘This is indeed a meeting! I bear no malice now, Cap’en Cuttle—you needn’t fear that I’m a going to cast any reflections. I hope to go to the altar in another spirit.’ Here Mrs MacStinger paused, and drawing herself up, and inflating her bosom with a long breath, said, in allusion to the victim, ‘My ‘usband, Cap’en Cuttle!’
The abject Bunsby looked neither to the right nor to the left, nor at his bride, nor at his friend, but straight before him at nothing. The Captain putting out his hand, Bunsby put out his; but, in answer to the Captain’s greeting, spake no word.
‘Cap’en Cuttle,’ said Mrs MacStinger, ‘if you would wish to heal up past animosities, and to see the last of your friend, my ‘usband, as a single person, we should be ‘appy of your company to chapel. Here is a lady here,’ said Mrs MacStinger, turning round to the more intrepid of the two, ‘my bridesmaid, that will be glad of your protection, Cap’en Cuttle.’
The short gentleman in the tall hat, who it appeared was the husband of the other lady, and who evidently exulted at the reduction of a fellow creature to his own condition, gave place at this, and resigned the lady to Captain Cuttle. The lady immediately seized him, and, observing that there was no time to lose, gave the word, in a strong voice, to advance.
The Captain’s concern for his friend, not unmingled, at first, with some concern for himself—for a shadowy terror that he might be married by violence, possessed him, until his knowledge of the service came to his relief, and remembering the legal obligation of saying, ‘I will,’ he felt himself personally safe so long as he resolved, if asked any question, distinctly to reply ‘I won’t’—threw him into a profuse perspiration; and rendered him, for a time, insensible to the movements of the procession, of which he now formed a feature, and to the conversation of his fair companion. But as he became less agitated, he learnt from this lady that she was the widow of a Mr Bokum, who had held an employment in the Custom House; that she was the dearest friend of Mrs MacStinger, whom she considered a pattern for her sex; that she had often heard of the Captain, and now hoped he had repented of his past life; that she trusted Mr Bunsby knew what a blessing he had gained, but that she feared men seldom did know what such blessings were, until they had lost them; with more to the same purpose.
All this time, the Captain could not but observe that Mrs Bokum kept her eyes steadily on the bridegroom, and that whenever they came near a court or other narrow turning which appeared favourable for flight, she was on the alert to cut him off if he attempted escape. The other lady, too, as well as her husband, the short gentleman with the tall hat, were plainly on guard, according to a preconcerted plan; and the wretched man was so secured by Mrs MacStinger, that any effort at self-preservation by flight was rendered futile. This, indeed, was apparent to the mere populace, who expressed their perception of the fact by jeers and cries; to all of which, the dread MacStinger was inflexibly indifferent, while Bunsby himself appeared in a state of unconsciousness.
The Captain made many attempts to accost the philosopher, if only in a monosyllable or a signal; but always failed, in consequence of the vigilance of the guard, and the difficulty, at all times peculiar to Bunsby’s constitution, of having his attention aroused by any outward and visible sign whatever. Thus they approached the chapel, a neat whitewashed edifice, recently engaged by the Reverend Melchisedech Howler, who had consented, on very urgent solicitation, to give the world another two years of existence, but had informed his followers that, then, it must positively go.
While the Reverend Melchisedech was offering up some extemporary orisons, the Captain found an opportunity of growling in the bridegroom’s ear:
‘What cheer, my lad, what cheer?’
To which Bunsby replied, with a forgetfulness of the Reverend Melchisedech, which nothing but his desperate circumstances could have excused:
‘Jack Bunsby,’ whispered the Captain, ‘do you do this here, of your own free will?’
Mr Bunsby answered ‘No.’
‘Why do you do it, then, my lad?’ inquired the Captain, not unnaturally.
Bunsby, still looking, and always looking with an immovable countenance, at the opposite side of the world, made no reply.
‘Why not sheer off?’ said the Captain. ‘Eh?’ whispered Bunsby, with a momentary gleam of hope.
‘Sheer off,’ said the Captain.
‘Where’s the good?’ retorted the forlorn sage. ‘She’d capter me agen.’
‘Try!’ replied the Captain. ‘Cheer up! Come! Now’s your time. Sheer off, Jack Bunsby!’
Jack Bunsby, however, instead of profiting by the advice, said in a doleful whisper:
‘It all began in that there chest o’ yourn. Why did I ever conwoy her into port that night?’
‘My lad,’ faltered the Captain, ‘I thought as you had come over her; not as she had come over you. A man as has got such opinions as you have!’
Mr Bunsby merely uttered a suppressed groan.
‘Come!’ said the Captain, nudging him with his elbow, ‘now’s your time! Sheer off! I’ll cover your retreat. The time’s a flying. Bunsby! It’s for liberty. Will you once?’
Bunsby was immovable.
‘Bunsby!’ whispered the Captain, ‘will you twice?’
Bunsby wouldn’t twice.
‘Bunsby!’ urged the Captain, ‘it’s for liberty; will you three times? Now or never!’
Bunsby didn’t then, and didn’t ever; for Mrs MacStinger immediately afterwards married him.
One of the most frightful circumstances of the ceremony to the Captain, was the deadly interest exhibited therein by Juliana MacStinger; and the fatal concentration of her faculties, with which that promising child, already the image of her parent, observed the whole proceedings. The Captain saw in this a succession of man-traps stretching out infinitely; a series of ages of oppression and coercion, through which the seafaring line was doomed. It was a more memorable sight than the unflinching steadiness of Mrs Bokum and the other lady, the exultation of the short gentleman in the tall hat, or even the fell inflexibility of Mrs MacStinger. The Master MacStingers understood little of what was going on, and cared less; being chiefly engaged, during the ceremony, in treading on one another’s half-boots; but the contrast afforded by those wretched infants only set off and adorned the precocious woman in Juliana. Another year or two, the Captain thought, and to lodge where that child was, would be destruction.
The ceremony was concluded by a general spring of the young family on Mr Bunsby, whom they hailed by the endearing name of father, and from whom they solicited half-pence. These gushes of affection over, the procession was about to issue forth again, when it was delayed for some little time by an unexpected transport on the part of Alexander MacStinger. That dear child, it seemed, connecting a chapel with tombstones, when it was entered for any purpose apart from the ordinary religious exercises, could not be persuaded but that his mother was now to be decently interred, and lost to him for ever. In the anguish of this conviction, he screamed with astonishing force, and turned black in the face. However touching these marks of a tender disposition were to his mother, it was not in the character of that remarkable woman to permit her recognition of them to degenerate into weakness. Therefore, after vainly endeavouring to convince his reason by shakes, pokes, bawlings-out, and similar applications to his head, she led him into the air, and tried another method; which was manifested to the marriage party by a quick succession of sharp sounds, resembling applause, and subsequently, by their seeing Alexander in contact with the coolest paving-stone in the court, greatly flushed, and loudly lamenting.
The procession being then in a condition to form itself once more, and repair to Brig Place, where a marriage feast was in readiness, returned as it had come; not without the receipt, by Bunsby, of many humorous congratulations from the populace on his recently-acquired happiness. The Captain accompanied it as far as the house-door, but, being made uneasy by the gentler manner of Mrs Bokum, who, now that she was relieved from her engrossing duty—for the watchfulness and alacrity of the ladies sensibly diminished when the bridegroom was safely married—had greater leisure to show an interest in his behalf, there left it and the captive; faintly pleading an appointment, and promising to return presently. The Captain had another cause for uneasiness, in remorsefully reflecting that he had been the first means of Bunsby’s entrapment, though certainly without intending it, and through his unbounded faith in the resources of that philosopher.
To go back to old Sol Gills at the wooden Midshipman’s, and not first go round to ask how Mr Dombey was—albeit the house where he lay was out of London, and away on the borders of a fresh heath—was quite out of the Captain’s course. So he got a lift when he was tired, and made out the journey gaily.
The blinds were pulled down, and the house so quiet, that the Captain was almost afraid to knock; but listening at the door, he heard low voices within, very near it, and, knocking softly, was admitted by Mr Toots. Mr Toots and his wife had, in fact, just arrived there; having been at the Midshipman’s to seek him, and having there obtained the address.
They were not so recently arrived, but that Mrs Toots had caught the baby from somebody, taken it in her arms, and sat down on the stairs, hugging and fondling it. Florence was stooping down beside her; and no one could have said which Mrs Toots was hugging and fondling most, the mother or the child, or which was the tenderer, Florence of Mrs Toots, or Mrs Toots of her, or both of the baby; it was such a little group of love and agitation.
‘And is your Pa very ill, my darling dear Miss Floy?’ asked Susan.
‘He is very, very ill,’ said Florence. ‘But, Susan, dear, you must not speak to me as you used to speak. And what’s this?’ said Florence, touching her clothes, in amazement. ‘Your old dress, dear? Your old cap, curls, and all?’
Susan burst into tears, and showered kisses on the little hand that had touched her so wonderingly.
‘My dear Miss Dombey,’ said Mr Toots, stepping forward, ‘I’ll explain. She’s the most extraordinary woman. There are not many to equal her! She has always said—she said before we were married, and has said to this day—that whenever you came home, she’d come to you in no dress but the dress she used to serve you in, for fear she might seem strange to you, and you might like her less. I admire the dress myself,’ said Mr Toots, ‘of all things. I adore her in it! My dear Miss Dombey, she’ll be your maid again, your nurse, all that she ever was, and more. There’s no change in her. But, Susan, my dear,’ said Mr Toots, who had spoken with great feeling and high admiration, ‘all I ask is, that you’ll remember the medical man, and not exert yourself too much!’