to him, and scare away his weak regrets, he hid it from himself, and left it lying at the bottom of his pride, unexamined.
`Where is my scoundrel?' said the Major, looking wrathfully round the room.
The Native, who had no particular name, but answered to any vituperative epithet, presented himself instantly at the door and ventured to come no nearer.
`You villain!' said the choleric Major, `where's the breakfast?'
The dark servant disappeared in search of it, and was quickly heard reascending the stairs in such a tremulous state, that the plates and dishes on the tray he carried, trembling sympathetically as he came, rattled again, all the way up.
`Dombey,' said the Major, glancing at the Native as he arranged the table, and encouraging him with an awful shake of his fist when he upset a spoon, `here is a devilled grill, a savoury pie, a dish of kidneys, and so forth. Pray sit down. Old Joe can give you nothing but camp fare, you see.'
`Very excellent fare, Major,' replied his guest; and not in mere politeness either; for the Major always took the best possible care of himself, and indeed ate rather more of rich meats than was good for him, insomuch that his Imperial complexion was mainly referred by the faculty to that circumstance.
`You have been looking over the way, Sir,' observed the Major. `Have you seen our friend?'
`You mean Miss Tox,' retorted Mr. Dombey. `No.'
`Charming woman, Sir,' said the Major, with a fat laugh rising in his short throat, and nearly suffocating him.
`Miss Tox is a very good sort of person, I believe,' replied Mr. Dombey.
The haughty coldness of the reply seemed to afford Major Bagstock infinite delight. He swelled and swelled, exceedingly: and even laid down his knife and fork for a moment, to rub his hands.
`Old Joe, Sir,' said the Major, `was a bit of a favourite in that quarter once. But Joe has had his day. J. Bagstock is extinguished--outrivalled--floored, Sir. I tell you what, Dombey.' The Major paused in his eating, and looked mysteriously indignant. `That's a de-vilish ambitious woman, Sir.'
Mr. Dombey said `Indeed?' with frigid indifference: mingled perhaps with some contemptuous incredulity as to Miss Tox having the presumption to harbour such a superior quality.
`That woman, Sir,' said the Major, `is, in her way, a Lucifer. Joey B. has had his day, Sir, but he keeps his eyes. He sees, does Joe. His Royal Highness the late Duke of York observed of Joey, at a levee, that he saw.'
The Major accompanied this with such a look, and, between eating, drinking, hot tea, devilled grill, muffins, and meaning, was altogether so swollen and inflamed about the head, that even Mr. Dombey showed some anxiety for him.
`That ridiculous old spectacle, Sir,' pursued the Major, `aspires. She aspires sky-high, Sir. Matrimonially, Dombey.'
`I am sorry for her,' said Mr. Dombey.
`Don't say that, Dombey,' returned the Major in a warning voice.
|Copyright: All texts on Bibliomania are © Bibliomania.com Ltd, and may not be reproduced in any form without our written permission. See our FAQ for more details.|