He then bowed himself for a moment over Mrs. Skewton's condescending hand, and lastly bowed to Edith. Coldly returning his salute without looking at him, and neither seating herself nor inviting him to be seated, she waited for him to speak.

Entrenched in her pride and power, and with all the obduracy of her spirit summoned about her, still her old conviction that she and her mother had been known by this man in their worst colours, from their first acquaintance; that every degradation she had suffered in her own eyes was plain to him as to herself; that he read her life as though it were a vile book, and fluttered the leaves before her in slight looks and tones of voice which no one else could detect; weakened and undermined her. Proudly as she opposed herself to him, with her commanding face exacting his humility, her disdainful lip repulsing him, her bosom angry at his intrusion, and the dark lashes of her eyes sullenly veiling their light, that no ray of it might shine upon him--and submissively as he stood before her, with an entreating injured manner, but with complete submission to her will--she knew, in her own soul, that the cases were reversed, and that the triumph and superiority were his, and that he knew it full well.

`I have presumed,' said Mr. Carker, `to solicit an interview, and I have ventured to describe it as being one of business, because--'

`Perhaps you are charged by Mr. Dombey with some message of reproof,' said Edith. `You possess Mr. Dombey's confidence in such an unusual degree, Sir, that you would scarcely surprise me if that were your business.'

`I have no message to the lady who sheds a lustre upon his name,' said Mr. Carker. `But I entreat that lady, on my own behalf, to be just to a very humble claimant for justice at her hands--a mere dependant of Mr. Dombey's--which is a position of humility; and to reflect upon my perfect helplessness last night, and the impossibility of my avoiding the share that was forced upon me in a very painful occasion.'

`My dearest Edith,' hinted Cleopatra in a low voice, as she held her eye-glass aside, `really very charming of Mr. What'shis-name. And full of heart!'

`For I do,' said Mr. Carker, appealing to Mrs. Skewton with a look of grateful deference,--`I do venture to call it a painful occasion, though merely because it was so to me, who had the misfortune to be present. So light a difference, as between the principals--between those who love each other with disinterested devotion, and would make any sacrifice of self, in such a cause--is nothing. As Mrs. Skewton herself expressed, with so much truth and feeling last night, it is nothing.'

Edith could not look at him, but she said after a few moments,

`And your business, Sir--'

`Edith, my pet,' said Mrs. Skewton, `all this time Mr. Carker is standing! My dear Mr. Carker, take a seat, I beg.'

He offered no reply to the mother, but fixed his eyes on the proud daughter, as though he would only be bidden by her, and was resolved to be bidden by her. Edith, in spite of herself, sat down, and slightly motioned with her hand to him to be seated too. No action could be colder, haughtier, more insolent in its air of supremacy and disrespect, but she had struggled against even that concession ineffectually, and it was wrested from her. That was enough! Mr. Carker sat down.

`May I be allowed, Madam,' said Carker, turning his white teeth on Mrs. Skewton like a light--`a lady of your excellent sense and quick feeling will give me credit, for good reason, I am sure--to address what I have to say, to Mrs. Dombey, and to leave her to impart it to you who are her best and dearest friend-- next to Mr. Dombey?'

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