Where are the happy pair, for whom this brave home is waiting? Do steam, tide, wind, and horses, all abate their speed, to linger on such happiness? Does the swarm of loves and graces hovering about them retard their progress by its numbers? Are there so many flowers in their happy path, that they can scarcely move along, without entanglement in thornless roses, and sweetest briar?
They are here at last! The noise of wheels is heard, grows louder, and a carriage drives up to the door! A thundering knock from the obnoxious foreigner anticipates the rush of Mr. Towlinson and party to open it; and Mr. Dombey and his bride alight, and walk in arm in arm.
`My sweetest Edith!' cries an agitated voice upon the stairs. `My dearest Dombey!' and the short sleeves wreath themselves about the happy couple in turn, and embrace them.
Florence had come down to the hall too, but did not advance: reserving her timid welcome until these nearer and dearer transports should subside. But the eyes of Edith sought her out, upon the threshold; and dismissing her sensitive parent with a slight kiss on the cheek, she hurried on to Florence and embraced her.
`How do you do, Florence?' said Mr. Dombey, putting out his hand.
As Florence, trembling, raised it to her lips, she met his glance. The look was cold and distant enough, but it stirred her heart to think that she observed in it something more of interest than he had ever shown before. It even expressed a kind of faint surprise, and not a disagreeable surprise, at sight of her. She dared not raise her eyes to his any more; but she felt that he looked at her once again, and hot less favourably. Oh what a thrill of joy shot through her, awakened by even this intangible and baseless confirmation of her hope that she would learn to win him, through her new and beautiful mama!
`You will not be long dressing, Mrs. Dombey, I presume?' said Mr. Dombey.
`I shall be ready immediately.'
`Let them send up dinner in a quarter of an hour.'
With that Mr. Dombey stalked away to his own dressingroom, and Mrs. Dombey went upstairs to hers. Mrs. Skewton and Florence repaired to the drawing-room, where that excellent mother considered it incumbent on her to shed a few irrepressible tears, supposed to be forced from her by her daughter's felicity; and which she was still drying, very gingerly, with a laced corner of her pocket-handkerchief, when her son-in-law appeared.
`And how, my dearest Dombey, did you find that delightfullest of cities, Paris?' she asked, subduing her emotion.
`It was cold,' returned Mr. Dombey.
`Gay as ever,' said Mrs. Skewton, `of course.'
`Not particularly. I thought it dull,' said Mr. Dombey.
`Fie, my dearest Dombey!' archly; `dull!'
`It made that impression upon me, madam,' said Mr. Dombey, with grave politeness. `I believe Mrs. Dombey found it dull too. She mentioned once or twice that she thought it so.'
`Why, you naughty girl!' cried Mrs. Skewton, rallying her dear child, who now entered, `what dreadfully heretical things have you been saying about Paris?'
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