Page:Dombey and Son.djvu/152

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"Heigh ho hum!" cried Mr. Feeder, shaking himself like a cart-horse. "Oh dear me, dear me! Ya-a-a-ah!"

Paul was quite alarmed by Mr. Feeder’s yawning; it was done on such a great scale, and he was so terribly in earnest. All the boys too (Toots excepted) seemed knocked up, and were getting ready for dinner—some newly tying their neckcloths, which were very stiff indeed; and others washing their hands or brushing their hair, in an adjoining ante-chamber—as if they didn’t think they should enjoy it at all.

Young Toots who was ready beforehand, and had therefore nothing to do, and had leisure to bestow upon Paul, said, with heavy good nature:

"Sit down, Dombey."

"Thank you, Sir," said Paul.

His endeavouring to hoist himself on to a very high window-seat, and his slipping down again, appeared to prepare Toots’s mind for the reception of a discovery.

"You ’re a very small chap;" said Mr. Toots.

"Yes, Sir, I’m small," returned Paul. "Thank you, Sir."

For Toots had lifted him into the seat, and done it kindly too.

"Who’s your tailor?" inquired Toots, after looking at him for some moments.

"It’s a woman that has made my clothes as yet," said Paul. "My sister’s dressmaker."

"My tailor’s Burgess and Co.," said Toots. "Fash’nable. But very dear."

Paul had wit enough to shake his head, as if he would have said it was easy to see that; and indeed he thought so.

"Your father’s regularly rich, ain’t he?" inquired Mr. Toots.

"Yes, Sir," said Paul. "He’s Dombey and Son."

"And which?" demanded Toots.

"And Son, Sir," replied Paul.

Mr. Toots made one or two attempts, in a low voice, to fix the firm in his mind; but not quite succeeding, said he would get Paul to mention the name again to-morrow morning, as it was rather important. And indeed he purposed nothing less than writing himself a private and confidential letter from Dombey and Son immediately.

By this time the other pupils (always excepting the stoney boy) gathered round. They were polite, but pale; and spoke low; and they were so depressed in their spirits, that in comparison with the general tone of that company, Master Bitherstone was a perfect Miller, or complete Jest Book. And yet he had a sense of injury upon him, too, had Bitherstone.

"You sleep in my room, don’t you?" asked a solemn young gentleman, whose shirt-collar curled up the lobes of his ears.

"Master Briggs?" inquired Paul.

"Tozer," said the young gentleman.

Paul answered yes; and Tozer pointing out the stoney pupil, said that was Briggs. Paul had already felt certain that it must be either Briggs or Tozer, though he didn’t know why.

"Is your's a strong constitution?" inquired Tozer.

Paul said he thought not. Tozer replied that he thought not also, judging from Paul’s looks, and that it was a pity, for it need be. He