Page:Dombey and Son.djvu/617

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Your worship doubts the room behind the door? Oh the suspicion of you rich gentlefolks! Look at it, then."

Her sharp eye had detected an involuntary expression of this feeling on his part, which was not unreasonable under the circumstances. In satisfaction of it she now took the candle to the door she spoke of. Mr. Dombey looked in; assured himself that it was an empty, crazy room; and signed to her to put the light back in its place.

"How long," he asked, "before this person comes?"

"Not long," she answered. "Would your worship sit down for a few odd minutes?"

He made no answer; but began pacing the room with an irresolute air, as if he were undecided whether to remain or depart, and as if he had some quarrel with himself for being there at all. But soon his tread grew slower and heavier, and his face more sternly thoughtful; as the object with which he had come, fixed itself in his mind, and dilated there again.

While he thus walked up and down with his eyes on the ground, Mrs. Brown, in the chair from which she had risen to receive him, sat listening anew. The monotony of his step, or the uncertainty of age, made her so slow of hearing, that a footfall without had sounded in her daughter’s ears for some moments, and she had looked up hastily to warn her mother of its approach, before the old woman was roused by it. But then she started from her seat, and whispering "Here he is!" hurried her visitor to his place of observation, and put a bottle and glass upon the table, with such alacrity, as to be ready to fling her arms round the neck of Rob the Grinder on his appearance at the door.

"And here’s my bonny boy," cried Mrs. Brown, "at last!—oho, oho! You ’re like my own son, Robby!"

"Oh! Misses Brown!" remonstrated the Grinder. "Don’t! Can’t you be fond of a cove without squeedging and throttling of him? Take care of the birdcage in my hand, will you?"

"Thinks of a birdcage, afore me!" cried the old woman, apostrophizing the ceiling. "Me that feels more than a mother for him!"

"Well, I’m sure I’m very much obliged to you, Misses Brown," said the unfortunate youth, greatly aggravated; "but you ’re so jealous of a cove. I’m very fond of you myself, and all that, of course; but I don’t smother you, do I, Misses Brown?"

He looked and spoke as if he would have been far from objecting to do so, however, on a favourable occasion.

"And to talk about birdcages, too!" whimpered the Grinder. "As if that was a crime! Why, look ’ee here! Do you know who this belongs to?"

"To Master, dear?" said the old woman with a grin.

"Ah!" replied the Grinder, lifting a large cage tied up in a wrapper, on the table, and untying it with his teeth and hands. "It’s our parrot, this is."

"Mr. Carker’s parrot, Rob?"

"Will you hold your tongue, Misses Brown?" returned the goaded Grinder. "What do you go naming names for? I’m blest," said Rob,