Paul's Progress and Christening

LITTLE Paul, suffering no contamination, from the blood of the Toodles, grew stouter and stronger every day. Every day, too, he was more and more ardently cherished by Miss Tox, whose devotion was so far appreciated by Mr. Dombey that he began to regard her as a woman of great natural good sense, whose feelings did her credit and deserved encouragement. He was so lavish of this condescension, that he not only bowed to her, in a particular manner, on several occasions, but even entrusted such stately recognitions of her to his sister as `pray tell your friend, Louisa, that she is very good,' or `mention to Miss Tox, Louisa, that I am obliged to her;' specialities which made a deep impression on the lady thus distinguished.

Miss Tox was often in the habit of assuring Mrs. Chick, that `nothing could exceed her interest in all connected with the development of that sweet child;' and an observer of Miss Tox's proceedings might have inferred so much without declaratory confirmation. She would preside over the innocent repasts of the young heir, with ineffable satisfaction, almost with an air of joint proprietorship with Richards in the entertainment. At the little ceremonies of the bath and toilette, she assisted with enthusiasm. The administration of infantine doses of physic awakened all the active sympathy of her character; and being on one occasion secreted in a cupboard (whither she had fled in modesty), when Mr. Dombey was introduced into the nursery by his sister, to behold his son, in the course of preparation for bed, taking a short walk uphill over Richards's gown, in a short and airy linen jacket, Miss Tox was so transported beyond the ignorant present as to be unable to refrain from crying out, `Is he not beautiful Mr. Dombey!Is he not a Cupid, Sir!' and then almost sinking behind the closet door with confusion and blushes.

`Louisa,' said Mr. Dombey, one day, to his sister, `I really think I must present your friend with some little token, on the occasion of Paul's christening. She has exerted herself so warmly in the child's behalf from the first, and seems to understand her position so thoroughly (a very rare merit in this world, I am sorry to say), that it would really be agreeable to me to notice her.'

Let it be no detraction from the merits of Miss Tox, to hint that in Mr. Dombey's eyes, as in some others that occasionally see the light, they only achieved that mighty piece of knowledge, the understanding of their own position, who showed a fitting reverence for his. It was not so much their merit that they knew themselves, as that they knew him, and bowed low before him.

`My dear Paul,' returned his sister, `you do Miss Tox but justice, as a man of your penetration was sure, I knew, to do. I believe if there are three words in the English language for which she has a respect amounting almost to veneration, those words are, Dombey and Son.'

`Well,' said Mr. Dombey, `I believe it. It does Miss Tox credit.'

`And as to anything in the shape of a token, my dear Paul,' pursued his sister, `all I can say is that anything you give Miss Tox will be hoarded and prized, I am sure, like a relic. But there is a way, my dear Paul, of showing your sense of Miss Tox's friendliness in a still more flattering and acceptable manner, if you should be so inclined.'

`How is that?' asked Mr. Dombey.

`Godfathers, of course,' continued Mrs. Chick, `are important in point of connexion and influence.'

`I don't know why they should be, to my son,' said Mr. Dombey, coldly.

`Very true, my dear Paul,' retorted Mrs. Chick, with an extraordinary show of animation, to cover the suddenness of her conversion; `and spoken like yourself. I might have expected nothing else from you. I might have known that such would have been your opinion. Perhaps;' here Mrs. Chick flattered again, as not quite comfortably feeling her way; `perhaps that is a reason why you might have the less objection to allowing Miss Tox to be godmother to the dear thing, if it were only as deputy and proxy for some one else. That it would be received as a great honour and distinction, Paul, I need not say.'

  By PanEris using Melati.

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