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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!'
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Dombey and Son - by Charles Dickens