`If you are charged by the man whom you have just now left, Sir;' Mr. Carker raised his eyes, as if he were going to counterfeit surprise, but she met them, and stopped him, if such were his intention; `with any message to me, do not attempt to deliver it, for I will not receive it. I need scarcely ask you if you are come on such an errand. I have expected you some time.'
`It is my misfortune,' he replied, `to be here, wholly against my will, for such a purpose. Allow me to say that I am here for two purposes. That is one.'
`That one, Sir,' she returned, `is ended. Or, if you return to it
`Can Mrs. Dombey believe,' said Carker, coming nearer, `that I would return to it in the face of her prohibition? Is it possible that Mrs. Dombey, having no regard to my unfortunate position, is so determined to consider me inseparable from my instructor as to do me great and wilful injustice?'
`Sir,' returned Edith, bending her dark gaze full upon him, and speaking with a rising passion that inflated her proud nostril and her swelling neck, and stirred the delicate white down upon a robe she wore, thrown loosely over shoulders that could bear its snowy neighbourhood. `Why do you present yourself to me, as you have done, and speak to me of love and duty to my husband, and pretend to think that I am happily married, and that I honour him? How dare you venture so to affront me, when you know--I do not know better, Sir: I have seen it in your every glance, and heard it in your every word--that in place of affection between us there is aversion and contempt, and that I despise him hardly less than I despise myself for being his! Injustice! If I had done justice to the torment you have made me feel, and to my sense of the insult you have put upon me, I should have slain you!'
She had asked him why he did this. Had she not been blinded by her pride and wrath, and self-humiliation,-- which she was, fiercely as she bent her gaze upon him,--she would have been the answer in his face. To bring her to this declaration.
She saw it not, and cared not whether it was there or no. She saw only the indignities and struggles she had undergone, and had to undergo, and was writhing under them. As she sat looking fixedly at them, rather than at him, she plucked the feathers from a pinion of some rare and beautiful bird, which hung from her wrist by a golden thread, to serve her as a fan, and rained them on the ground.
He did not shrink beneath her gaze, but stood, until such outward signs of her anger as had escaped her control subsided, with the air of a man who had his sufficient reply in reserve and would presently deliver it. And he then spoke, looking straight into her kindling eyes.
`Madam,' he said, `I know, and knew before to-day, that I have found no favour with you; and I knew why.
Yes. I knew why. You have spoken so openly to me; I am so relieved by the possession of your confidence
`Confidence!' she repeated, with disdain.
He passed it over.
`--that I will make no pretence of concealment. I did see from the first, that there was no affection on your part for Mr. Dombey--how could it possibly exist between such different subjects? And I have seen, since, that stronger feelings than indifference have been engendered in your breast--how could that possibly be otherwise, either, circumstanced as you have been? But was it for me to presume to avow this knowledge to you in so many words?'
`Was it for you, Sir,' she replied, `to feign that other belief, and audaciously to thrust it one me day by day?'
`Madam, it was,' he eagerly retorted. `If I had done less, if I had done anything but that, I should not be speaking to you thus; and I foresaw--who could better foresee, for who has had greater experience of Mr.
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