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manner was, "do you think you could think favourably of that proposition of mine, and give me the pleasure of your acquaintance?"

"Why, I 'll tell you what it is, my lad," replied the Captain, who had at length concluded on a course of action; "I ’ve been turning that there, over."

"Captain Gills, it’s very kind of you," retorted Mr. Toots. "I’m much obliged to you. Upon my word and honour, Captain Gills, it would be a charity to give me the pleasure of your acquaintance. It really would."

"You see, brother," argued the Captain slowly, "I don’t know you."

"But you never can know me, Captain Gills," replied Mr. Toots, steadfast to his point, "if you don’t give me the pleasure of your acquaintance."

The Captain seemed struck by the originality and power of this remark, and looked at Mr. Toots as if he thought there was a great deal more in him than he had expected.

"Well said, my lad," observed the Captain, nodding his head thoughtfully; "and true. Now look’ee here: You ’ve made some observations to me, which gives me to understand as you admire a certain sweet creetur. Hey?"

"Captain Gills," said Mr. Toots, gesticulating violently with the hand in which he held his hat, "Admiration is not the word. Upon my honour, you have no conception what my feelings are. If I could be dyed black, and made Miss Dombey’s slave, I should consider it a compliment. If, at the sacrifice of all my property, I could get transmigrated into Miss Dombey’s dog—I—I really think I should never leave off wagging my tail. I should be so perfectly happy, Captain Gills!"

Mr. Toots said it with watery eyes, and pressed his hat against his bosom with deep emotion.

"My lad," returned the Captain, moved to compassion, "if you ’re in arnest—"

"Captain Gills," cried Mr. Toots, "I’m in such a state of mind, and am so dreadfully in earnest, that if I could swear to it upon a hot piece of iron, or a live coal, or melted lead, or burning sealing-wax, or anything of that sort, I should be glad to hurt myself, as a relief to my feelings." And Mr. Toots looked hurriedly about the room, as if for some sufficiently painful means of accomplishing his dread purpose.

The Captain pushed his glazed hat back upon his head, stroked his face down with his heavy hand—making his nose more mottled in the process—and planting himself before Mr. Toots, and hooking him by the lapel of his coat, addressed him in these words, while Mr. Toots looked up into his face, with much attention and some wonder.

"If you ’re in arnest, you see, my lad," said the Captain, "you ’re a object of clemency, and clemency is the brightest jewel in the crown of a Briton’s head, for which you ’ll overhaul the constitution as laid down in Rule Britannia, and, when found, that is the charter as them garden angels was a singing of, so many times over. Stand by! This here proposal o’ you’rn takes me a little aback. And why? Because I holds my own only, you understand, in these here waters, and haven’t got no consort,