every Sunday morning; and where he was good enough--the lawful beadle being infirm--to keep an eye upon the boys, over whom he exercised great power, in virtue of his mysterious hook. Knowing the regularity of the Captain's habits, Walter made all the haste he could, that he might anticipate his going out; and he made such good speed, that he had the pleasure, on turning into Brig Place, to behold the broad blue coat and waistcoat hanging out of the Captain's open window, to air in the sun.

It appeared incredible that the coat and waistcoat could be seen by mortal eyes without the Captain: but he certainly was not in them, otherwise his legs--the houses in Brig Place not being lofty--would have obstructed the street door, which was perfectly clear. Quite wondering at this discovery, Walter gave a single knock.

`Stinger,' he distinctly heard the Captain say, up in his room, as if that were no business of his. Therefore Walter gave two knocks.

`Cuttle,' he heard the Captain say upon that; and immediately afterwards the Captain, in his clean shirt and braces, with his neckerchief hanging loosely round his throat like a coil of rope, and his glazed hat on, appeared at the window, leaning out over the broad blue coat and waistcoat.

`Wal'r!' cried the Captain, looking down upon him in amazement.

`Ay, ay, Captain Cuttle,' returned Walter, `only me.'

`What's the matter, my lad?' inquired the Captain, with great concern. `Gills an't been and sprung nothing again?'

`No, no,' said Walter. `My uncle's all right, Captain Cuttle.'

The Captain expressed his gratification, and said he would come down below and open the door, which he did.

`Though you're early, Wal'r,' said the Captain, eyeing him still doubtfully, when they got upstairs.

`Why, the fact is, Captain Cuttle,' said Walter, sitting down, `I was afraid you would have gone out, and I want to benefit by your friendly counsel.'

`So you shall,' said the Captain; `what'll you take?'

`I want to take your opinion, Captain Cuttle,' returned Walter, smiling. `That's the only thing for me.'

`Come on then,' said the Captain. `With a will, my lad!'

Walter related to him what had happened; and the difficulty in which he felt respecting his uncle, and the relief it would be to him if Captain Cuttle, in his kindness, would help him to smooth it away; Captain Cuttle's infinite consternation and astonishment at the prospect unfolded to him, gradually swallowing that gentleman up, until it left his face quite vacant, and the suit of blue, the glazed hat, and the hook, apparently without an owner.

`You see, Captain Cuttle,' pursued Walter, `for myself, I am young, as Mr. Dombey said, and not to be considered. I am to fight my way through the world, I know; but there are two points I was thinking, as I came along, that I should by very particular about, in respect to my uncle. I don't mean to say that I deserve to be the pride and delight of his life--you believe me, I know--but I am. Now, don't you think I am?'

The Captain seemed to make an endeavour to rise from the depths of his astonishment, and get back to his face; but the effort being ineffectual, the glazed hat merely nodded with a mute, unutterable meaning.

  By PanEris using Melati.

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