Alterations`SO the day has come at length, Susan,' said Florence to the excellent Nipper, `when we are going back to our quiet home!'
Susan drew in her breath with an amount of expression not easily described, and further relieving her feelings with a smart cough, answered, `Very quiet indeed, Miss Floy, no doubt. Excessive so.'
`When I was a child,' said Florence, thoughtfully, and after musing for some moments, `did you ever see that gentleman who has taken the trouble to ride down here to speak to me, now three times--three times, I think, Susan?'
`Three times, Miss,' returned the Nipper. `Once when you was out a walking with them Sket--'
Florence gently looked at her, and Miss Nipper checked herself.
`With Sir Barnet and his lady, I mean to say, Miss, and the young gentleman. And two evenings since then.'
`When I was a child, and when company used to come to visit papa, did you ever see that gentleman at home, Susan?' asked Florence.
`Well, Miss,' returned her maid, after considering, `I really couldn't say I ever did. When your poor dear ma died, Miss Floy, I was very new in the family, you see, and my element:' the Nipper bridled, as opining that her merits had been always designedly extinguished by Mr. Dombey: `was the floor below the attics.'
`To be sure,' said Florence, still thoughtfully; `you are not likely to have known who came to the house. I quite forgot.'
`Not, Miss, but what we talked about the family and visitors,' said Susan, `and but what I heard much said, although the nurse before Mrs. Richards did make unpleasant remarks when I was in company, and hint at little Pitchers, but that could only be attributed, poor thing,' observed Susan, with composed forbearance, `to habits of intoxication, for which she was required to leave, and did.'
Florence, who was seated at her chamber window, with her face resting on her hand, sat looking out, and hardly seemed to hear what Susan said, she was so lost in thought.
`At all events, Miss,' said Susan, `I remember very well that this same gentleman, Mr. Carker, was almost, if not quite, as great a gentleman with your Papa then, as he is now. It used to be said in the house then, Miss, that he was at the head of all your Pa's affairs in the City, and managed the whole, and that your Pa minded him more than anybody, which, begging your pardon, Miss Floy, he might easy do, for he never minded anybody else. I knew that, Pitcher as I might have been.'
Susan Nipper, with an injured remembrance of the nurse before Mrs. Richards, emphasised `Pitcher' strongly.
`And that Mr. Carker has not fallen off, Miss,' she pursued, `but has stood his ground, and kept his credit with your Pa, I know from what is always said among our people by that Perch, whenever he comes to the house; and though he's the weakest weed in the world, Miss Floy, and no one can have a moment's patience with the man, he knows what goes on in the City tolerable well, and says that your Pa does nothing without Mr. Carker, and leaves all to Mr. Carker, and acts according to Mr. Carker, and has Mr. Carker always at his elbow, and I do believe that he believes (that washiest of Perches!) that after your Pa, the Emperor of India is the child unborn to Mr. Carker.'
Not a word of this was lost on Florence, who, with an awakened interest in Susan's speech, no longer gazed abstractedly on the prospect without, but looked at her, and listened with attention.
`Yes, Susan,' she said, when that young lady had concluded. `He is in Papa's confidence, and is his friend, I am sure.'
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