`Very great indeed,' said Mr. Dombey.
`He has friends here, no doubt,' pursued Carker. `I perceive, from what he has said, that you go into society here. Do you know,' smiling horribly, `I am so very glad that you go into society!'
Mr. Dombey acknowledged this display of interest on the part of his second in command, by twirling his watch-chain, and slightly moving his head.
`You were formed for society.' said Carker, `Of all the men I know, you are the best adapted, by nature and by position, for society. Do you know I have been frequently amazed that you should have held it at arm's length so long!'
`I have had my reasons, Carker. I have been alone, and indifferent to it. But you have great social qualifications yourself, and are the more likely to have been surprised.'
`Oh! I!' returned the other, with ready self-disparagement. `It's quite another matter in the case of a man like me. I don't come into comparison with you.'
Mr. Dombey put his hand to his neckcloth, settled his chin in it, coughed, and stood looking at his faithful friend and servant for a few moments in silence.
`I shall have the pleasure, Carker,' said Mr. Dombey at length: making as if he swallowed something a little too large for his throat: `to present you to my--to the Major's friends. Highly agreeable people.'
`Ladies among them, I presume?' insinuated the smooth Manager.
`They are all--that is to say, they are both--ladies,' replied Mr. Dombey.
`Only two?' smiled Carker.
`They are only two. I have confined my visits to their residence, and have made no other acquaintance here.'
`Sisters, perhaps?' quoth Carker.
`Mother and daughter,' replied Mr. Dombey.
As Mr. Dombey dropped his eyes, and adjusted his neck-cloth again, the smiling face of Mr. Carker the Manager became in a moment, and without any stage of transition, transformed into a most intent and frowning face, scanning his closely, and with an ugly sneer. As Mr. Dombey raised his eyes, it changed back, no less quickly, to its old expression, and showed him every gum of which it stood possessed.
`You are very kind,' said Carker, `I shall be delighted to know them. Speaking of daughters, I have seen Miss Dombey.'
There was sudden rush of blood to Mr. Dombey's face.
`I took the liberty of waiting on her,' said Carker, `to inquire if she could charge me with any little commission. I am not so fortunate as to be the bearer of any but her--but her dear love.'
Wolf's face that it was then, with even the hot tongue revealing itself through the stretched mouth, as the eyes encountered Mr. Dombey's!
`What business intelligence is there?' inquired the latter gentleman, after a silence, during which Mr. Carker had produced some memoranda and other papers.
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