Mr. Dombey goes upon a Journey

`MR. DOMBEY, Sir,' said Major Bagstock, `Joey B. is not in general a man of sentiment, for Joseph is tough. But Joe has his feelings, Sir, and when they are awakened--Damme, Mr. Dombey,' cried the Major with sudden ferocity, `this is weakness, and I won't submit to it!'

Major Bagstock delivered himself of these expressions on receiving Mr. Dombey as his guest at the head of his own staircase in Princess's Place. Mr. Dombey has come to breakfast with the Major, previous to their setting forth on their trip; and the ill-starred Native had already undergone a world of misery arising out of the muffins, while, in connexion with the general question of boiled eggs, life was a burden to him.

`It is not for an old soldier of the Bagstock breed,' observed the Major, relapsing into a mild state, `to deliver himself up, a prey to his own emotions; but--damme, Sir,' cried the Major, in another spasm of ferocity, `I condole with you!'

The Major's purple visage deepened in its hue, and the Major's lobster eyes stood out in bolder relief, as he shook Mr. Dombey by the hand, imparting to that peaceful action as defiant a character as if it had been the prelude to his immediately boxing Mr. Dombey for a thousand pounds a side and the championship of England. With a rotatory motion of his head, and a wheeze very like the cough of a horse, the Major then conducted his visitor to the sitting-room, and there welcomed him (having now composed his feelings) with the freedom and frankness of a travelling companion.

`Dombey,' said the Major, `I'm glad to see you. I'm proud to see you. There are not many men in Europe to whom J. Bagstock would say that--for Josh is blunt. Sir: it's his nature--but Joey B. is proud to see you, Dombey.'

`Major,' returned Mr. Dombey, `you are very obliging.'

`No, Sir,' said the Major, `Devil a bit! That's not my character. If that had been Joe's character. Joe might have been, by this time, Lieutenant-General Sir Joseph Bagstock, K.C.B., and might have received you in very different quarters. You don't know old Joe yet, I find. But this occasion, being special, is a source of pride to me. By the Lord, Sir,' said the Major resolutely, `it's an honour to me!'

Mr. Dombey, in his estimation of himself and his money, felt that this was very true, and therefore did not dispute the point. But the instinctive recognition of such a truth by the Major, and his plain avowal of it, were very agreeable. It was a confirmation to Mr. Dombey, if he has required any, of his not being mistaken in the Major. It was an assurance to him that his power extended beyond his own immediate sphere; and that the Major, as an officer and a gentleman, had a no less becoming sense of it, than the beadle of the Royal Exchange.

And if it were ever consolatory to know this, or the like of this, it was consolatory then, when the impotence of his will, the instability of his hopes, the feebleness of wealth, had been so direfully impressed upon him. What could it do, his boy had asked him. Sometimes, thinking of the baby question, he could hardly forbear inquiring, himself, what could it do indeed: what had it done?

But these were lonely thoughts, bred late at night in the sullen despondency and gloom of his retirement, and pride easily found its reassurance in many testimonies to the truth, as unimpeachable and precious as the Major's. Mr. Dombey, in his friendlessness, inclined to the Major. It cannot be said that he warmed towards him, but he thawed a little. The Major had had some part--and not too much--in the days by the seaside. He was a man of the world, and knew some great people. He talked much, and told stories; and Mr. Dombey was disposed to regard him as a choice spirit who shone in society, and who had not that poisonous ingredient of poverty with which choice spirits in general are too much adulterated. His station was undeniable. Altogether the Major was a creditable companion, well accustomed to a life of leisure, and to such places as that they were about to visit, and having an air of gentlemanly ease about him that mixed well enough with his own City character, and did not compete with it at all. If Mr. Dombey had any lingering idea that the Major, as a man accustomed, in the way of his calling, to make light of the ruthless had that hand lately crushed his hopes, might unconsciously impart some useful philosophy

  By PanEris using Melati.

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