Page:Dombey and Son.djvu/472

This page needs to be proofread.

Mr. Bunsby, who had a musical ear, suddenly bellowed, "In the Bays of Biscay, O!" which so affected the good Captain, as an appropriate tribute to departed worth, that he shook him by the hand in acknowledgment, and was fain to wipe his eyes.

"Well, well!" said the Captain with a sigh, as the Lament of Bunsby ceased to ring and vibrate in the skylight. "Affliction sore, long time he bore, and let us overhaul the wollume, and there find it."

"Physicians," observed Bunsby, "was in vain."

"Aye, aye, to be sure," said the Captain, "what’s the good o’ them in two or three hundred fathoms o’ water!’ Then, returning to the letter, he read on:—"'But if he should be by, when it is opened;'" the Captain involuntarily looked round, and shook his head; "'or should know of it at any other time;'" the Captain shook his head again; "'my blessing on him! In case the accompanying paper is not legally written, it matters very little, for there is no one interested but you and he, and my plain wish is, that if he is living he should have what little there may be, and if (as I fear) otherwise, that you should have it, Ned. You will respect my wish, I know. God bless you for it, and for all your friendliness besides, to Solomon Gills.' Bunsby!" said the Captain, appealing to him solemnly, "what do you make of this? There you sit, a man as has had his head broke from infancy up’ards, and has got a new opinion into it at every seam as has been opened. Now, what do you make o’ this?"

"If so be," returned Bunsby, with unusual promptitude, "as he’s dead, my opinion is he won’t come back no more. If so be as he’s alive, my opinion is he will. Do I say he will? No. Why not? Because the bearings of this obserwation lays in the application on it."

"Bunsby!" said Captain Cuttle, who would seem to have estimated the value of his distinguished friend’s opinions in proportion to the immensity of the difficulty he experienced in making anything out of them; "Bunsby," said the Captain, quite confounded by admiration, "you carry a weight of mind easy, as would swamp one of my tonnage soon. But in regard o’ this here will, I don’t mean to take no steps towards the property—Lord forbid!—except to keep it for a more rightful owner; and I hope yet as the rightful owner, Sol Gills, is living and ’ll come back, strange as it is that he an’t forwarded no dispatches. Now, what is your opinion, Bunsby, as to stowing of these here papers away again, and marking outside as they was opened, such a day, in the presence of John Bunsby and Ed’ard Cuttle?"

Bunsby, descrying no objection, on the coast of Greenland or elsewhere, to this proposal, it was carried into execution; and that great man, bringing his eye into the present for a moment, affixed his sign-manual to the cover, totally abstaining, with characteristic modesty, from the use of capital letters. Captain Cuttle, having attached his own left-handed signature, and locked up the packet in the iron safe, entreated his guest to mix another glass and smoke another pipe; and doing the like himself, fell a musing over the fire on the possible fortunes of the poor old Instrument-maker.

And now a surprise occurred, so overwhelming and terrific that Captain Cuttle, unsupported by the presence of Bunsby, must have sunk beneath it, and been a lost man from that fatal hour.