`Why, I'll tell you what, Uncle,' said Walter, after a moment's hesitation, `I have just been up there.'
`Ay, ay, ay?' murmured the old man, raising his eyebrows, and his spectacles with them.
`Not to see her,' said Walter, `though I could have seen her, I dare say, if I had asked, Mr. Dombey being out of town: but to say a parting word to Susan. I thought I might venture to do that, you know, under the circumstances, and remembering when I saw Miss Dombey last.'
`Yes, my boy, yes,' replied his Uncle, rousing himself from a temporary abstraction.
`So I saw her,' pursued Walter, `Susan, I mean: and I told her I was off and away to-morrow. And I said, Uncle, that you had always had an interest in Miss Dombey since that night when she was here, and always wished her well and happy, and always would be proud and glad to serve her in the least: I thought I might say that, you know, under the circumstances. Don't you think so?'
`Yes, my boy, yes,' replied his Uncle, in the tone as before.
`And I added,' pursued Walter, `that if she--Susan, I mean--could ever let you know, either through herself, or Mrs. Richards, or anybody else who might be coming this way, that Miss Dombey was well and happy, you would take it very kindly, and would write so much to me, and I should take it very kindly too. There! Upon my word, Uncle,' said Walter, `I scarcely slept all last night through thinking of doing this; and could not make up my kind when I was out, whether to do it or not; and yet I am sure it is the true feeling of my heart, and I should have been quite miserable afterwards if I had not relieved it.'
His honest voice and manner corroborated what he said, and quite established its ingenuousness.
`So, if you ever see her, Uncle,' said Walter, `I mean Miss Dombey now--and perhaps you may, who knows!-- tell her how much I felt for her; how much I used to think of her when I was here; how I spoke of her, with the tears in my eyes, uncle, on this last night before I went away. Tell her that I said I never could forget her gentle manner, or her beautiful face, or her sweet kind disposition that was better than all. And as I didn't take them from a woman's feet, or a young lady's: only a little innocent child's,' said Walter: `tell her, if you don't mind, Uncle, that I kept those shoes--she'll remember how often they fell off, that night--and took them away with me as a remembrance!'
They were at that very moment going out at the door in one of Walter's trunks. A porter carrying off his baggage on a truck for shipment at the docks on board the Son and Heir, had got possession of them; and wheeled them away under the very eye of the insensible Midshipman before their owner had well finished speaking.
But that ancient mariner might have been excused his insensibility to the treasure as it rolled away. For, under his eye at the same moment, accurately within his range of observation, coming full into the sphere of his startled and intensely wide-awake look-out, were Florence and Susan Nipper: Florence looking up into his face half timidly, and receiving the whole shock of his wooden ogling!
More than this, they passed into the shop, and passed in at the parlour door before they were observed by anybody but the Midshipman. And Walter, having his back to the door, would have known nothing of their apparition even then, but for seeing his uncle spring out of his own chair, and nearly tumble over another.
`Why, Uncle!' exclaimed Walter. `What's the matter?'
Old Solomon replied, `Miss Dombey!'
`Is it possible?' cried Walter, looking round and starting up in his turn. `Here!'
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