A Separation

WITH the day, though not so early as the sun, uprose Miss Susan Nipper. There was a heaviness in this young maiden's exceedingly sharp black eyes, that abated somewhat of their sparkling, and suggested-- which was not their usual character--the possibility of their being sometimes shut. There was likewise a swollen look about them, as if they had been crying over-night. But the Nipper, so far from being cast down, was singularly brisk and bold, and all her energies appeared to be braced up for some great feat. This was noticeable even in her dress, which was much more tight and trim than usual; and in occasional twitches of her head as she went about the house, which were mightily expressive of determination.

In a word, she had formed a determination, and an aspiring one: it being nothing less than this--to penetrate to Mr. Dombey's presence, and have speech of that gentleman alone. `I have often said I would,' she remarked, in a threatening manner, to herself, that morning, with many twitches of her head, `and now I will!'

Spurring herself on to the accomplishment of this desperate design, with a sharpness that was peculiar to herself, Susan Nipper haunted the hall and staircase during the whole forenoon, without finding a favourable opportunity for the assault. Not at all baffled by this discomfiture, which indeed had a stimulating effect, and put her on her mettle, she diminished nothing of her vigilance; and at last discovered, towards evening, that her sworn foe Mrs. Pipchin, under pretence of having sat up all night, was dozing in her own room, and that Mr. Dombey was lying on his sofa, unattended.

With a twitch--not of her head merely, this time, but of her whole self--the Nipper went on tiptoe to Mr. Dombey's door, and knocked. `Come in!' said Mr. Dombey. Susan encouraged herself with a final twitch, and went in.

Mr. Dombey, who was eyeing the fire, gave an amazed look at his visitor, and raised himself a little on his arm. The Nipper dropped a curtsey.

`What do you want?' said Mr. Dombey.

`If you please, Sir, I wish to speak to you.' said Susan.

Mr. Dombey moved his lips as if he were repeating the words, but he seemed so lost in astonishment at the presumption of the young woman as to be incapable of giving them utterance.

`I have been in your service, Sir,' said Susan Nipper, with her usual rapidity, `now twelve year a waiting on Miss Floy my own young lady who couldn't speak plain when I first come here and I was old in this house when Mrs. Richards was new, I may not be Meethosalem, but I am not a child in arms.'

Mr. Dombey, raised upon his arm and looking at her, offered no comment on this preparatory statement of facts.

`There never was a dearer or a blesseder young lady than is my young lady, Sir,' said Susan, `and I ought to know a great deal better than some for I have seen her in her grief and I have seen her in her joy (there's not been much of it) and I have seen her with her brother and I have seen her in her loneliness and some have never seen her, and I say to some and all--I do!' and here the black-eyed shook her head, and slightly stamped her foot; `that she's blessedest and dearest angel is Miss Floy that ever drew the breath of life, the more that I was torn to pieces Sir the more I'd say it though I may not be a Fox's Martyr.'

Mr. Dombey turned yet paler than his fall had made him, with indignation and astonishment; and kept his eyes upon the speaker as if he accused them, and his ears too, of playing him false.

`No one could be anything but true and faithful to Miss Floy, Sir,' pursued Susan, `and I take no merit for my service of twelve year, for I love her--yes, I say to some and all I do!'--and here the black-eyed shook her head again, and slightly stamped her foot again, and checked a sob; `but true and faithful service gives me right to speak I hope, and speak I must and will now, right or wrong.'

  By PanEris using Melati.

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