FinalA BOTTLE that has been long excluded from the light of day, and is hoary with dust and cobwebs, has been brought into the sunshine; and the golden wine within it sheds a lustre on the table.
It is the last bottle of the old Madeira.
`You are quite right, Mr. Gills,' says Mr. Dombey. `This is a very rare and most delicious wine.'
The Captain, who is of the party, beams with joy. There is a very halo of delight round his glowing forehead.
`We always promised ourselves, Sir,' observes Mr. Gills, `Ned and myself, I mean--'
Mr. Dombey nods at the Captain, who shines more and more with speechless gratification.
`--that we would drink this, one day or other, to Walter safe at home: though such a home we never thought of. If you don't object to our old whim, Sir, let us devote this first glass to Walter and his wife.'
`To Walter and his wife!' says Mr. Dombey. `Florence, my child'--and turns to kiss her.
`To Walter and his wife!' says Mr. Toots.
`To Wal'r and his wife!' exclaims the Captain. `Hooroar!' and the Captain exhibiting a strong desire to clink his glass against some other glass, Mr. Dombey, with a ready hand, holds out his. The others follow; and there is a blithe and merry ringing, as of a little peal of marriage bells.
Other buried wine grows older, as the old Madeira did in its time; and dust and cobwebs thicken on the bottles.
Mr. Dombey is a white-haired gentleman, whose face bears heavy marks of care and suffering; but they are traces of a storm that has passed on for ever, and left a clear evening in its track.
Ambitious projects trouble him no more. His only pride is in his daughter and her husband. He has a silent, thoughtful, quiet manner, and is always with his daughter. Miss Tox is not unfrequently of the family party, and is quite devoted to it, and a great favourite. Her admiration of her once stately patron is, and has been ever since the morning of her shock in Princess's Place, platonic, but not weakened in the least.
Nothing has drifted to him from the wreck of his fortunes, but a certain annual sum that comes he knows not how, with an earnest entreaty that he will not seek to discover, and with the assurance that it is a debt, and an act of reparation. He has consulted with his old clerk about this, who is clear it may be honourably accepted, and has no doubt it arises out of some forgotten transaction in the times of the old House.
That hazel-eyed bachelor, a bachelor no more, is married now, and to the sister of the grey-haired Junior. He visits his old chief sometimes, but seldom. There is a reason in the grey-haired Junior's history, and yet a stronger reason in his name, why he should keep retired from his old employer; and as he lives with his sister and her husband, they participate in that retirement. Walter sees them sometimes--Florence too--and the pleasant house resounds with profound duets arranged for the Piano-Forte and Violoncello, and with the labours of Harmonious Blacksmiths.
And how goes the Wooden Midshipman in these changed days? Why, here he still is, right leg foremost,
hard at work upon the hackney coaches, and more on the alert than ever, being newly painted from his
cocked hat to his buckled shoes; and up above him, in golden characters, these names shine refulgent,
Not another stroke of business does the Midshipman achieve beyond his usual easy trade. But they do say, in a circuit of some half-mile round the blue umbrella in Leadenhall Market, that some of Mr. Gills's
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