by degrees dawned upon me, has been too exceedingly terrific to dilate upon. My whole existence is bound up in my sweetest Edith; and to see her change from day to day—my beautiful pet, who has positively garnered up her heart since the death of that most delightful creature, Granger—is the most affecting thing in the world."
Mrs. Skewton’s world was not a very trying one, if one might judge of it by the influence of its most affecting circumstance upon her; but this by the way.
"Edith," simpered Mrs. Skewton, "who is the perfect pearl of my life, is said to resemble me. I believe we are alike."
"There is one man in the world who never will admit that anyone resembles you, Ma’am," said the Major; "and that man’s name is Old Joe Bagstock."
Cleopatra made as if she would brain the flatterer with her fan, but relenting, smiled upon him and proceeded:
"If my charming girl inherits any advantages from me, wicked one!": the Major was the wicked one: "she inherits also my foolish nature. She has great force of character—mine has been said to be immense, though I don’t believe it—but once moved, she is susceptible and sensitive to the last extent. What are my feelings when I see her pining! They destroy me."
The Major advancing his double chin, and pursing up his blue lips into a soothing expression, affected the profoundest sympathy.
"The confidence," said Mrs. Skewton, "that has subsisted between us—the free development of soul, and openness of sentiment—is touching to think of. We have been more like sisters than Mama and child."
"J. B.'s own sentiment," observed the Major, "expressed by J. B. fifty thousand times!"
"Do not interrupt, rude man!" said Cleopatra. "What are my feelings, then, when I find that there is one subject avoided by us! That there is a what’s his name—a gulf—opened between us. That my own artless Edith is changed to me! They are of the most poignant description, of course."
The Major left his chair, and took one nearer to the little table.
"From day to day I see this, my dear Major," proceeded Mrs. Skewton. "From day to day I feel this. From hour to hour I reproach myself for that excess of faith and trustfulness which has led to such distressing consequences; and almost from minute to minute, I hope that Mr. Dombey may explain himself, and relieve the torture I undergo, which is extremely wearing. But nothing happens, my dear Major; I am the slave of remorse—take care of the coffee-cup: you are so very awkward—my darling Edith is an altered being; and I really don’t see what is to be done, or what good creature I can advise with."
Major Bagstock, encouraged perhaps by the softened and confidential tone into which Mrs. Skewton, after several times lapsing into it for a moment, seemed now to have subsided for good, stretched out his hand across the little table, and said with a leer,
"Advise with Joe, Ma’am."
"Then, you aggravating monster," said Cleopatra, giving one hand to the Major, and tapping his knuckles with her fan, which she held in the