Page:Dombey and Son.djvu/726

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"My dear," said Walter, "there is someone downstairs who wishes to speak to you."

She fancied Walter looked grave, and asked him if anything had happened.

"No, no, my love!" said Walter. "I have seen the gentleman myself, and spoken with him. Nothing has happened. Will you come?"

Florence put her arm through his; and confiding her father to the black-eyed Mrs. Toots, who sat as brisk and smart at her work as black-eyed woman could, accompanied her husband down stairs. In the pleasant little parlour opening on the garden, sat a gentleman, who rose to advance towards her when she came in, but turned off, by reason of some peculiarity in his legs, and was only stopped by the table.

Florence then remembered Cousin Feenix, whom she had not at first recognised in the shade of the leaves. Cousin Feenix took her hand, and congratulated her upon her marriage.

"I could have wished, I am sure," said Cousin Feenix, sitting down as Florence sat, "to have had an earlier opportunity of offering my congratulations; but, in point of fact, so many painful occurrences have happened, treading, as a man may say, on one another’s heels, that I have been in a devil of a state myself, and perfectly unfit for every description of society. The only description of society I have kept, has been my own; and it certainly is anything but flattering to a man’s good opinion of his own sources, to know that, in point of fact, he has the capacity of boring himself to a perfectly unlimited extent."

Florence divined, from some indefinable constraint and anxiety in this gentleman’s manner—which was always a gentleman’s, in spite of the harmless little eccentricities that attached to it—and from Walter’s manner no less, that something more immediately tending to some object was to follow this.

"I have been mentioning to my friend Mr. Gay, if I may be allowed to have the honour of calling him so," said Cousin Feenix, "that I am rejoiced to hear that my friend Dombey is very decidedly mending. I trust my friend Dombey will not allow his mind to be too much preyed upon, by any mere loss of fortune. I cannot say that I have ever experienced any very great loss of fortune myself: never having had, in point of fact, any great amount of fortune to lose. But as much as I could lose, I have lost; and I don’t find that I particularly care about it. I know my friend Dombey to be a devilish honourable man; and it’s calculated to console my friend Dombey very much, to know, that this is the universal sentiment. Even Tommy Screwzer,—a man of an extremely bilious habit, with whom my friend Gay is probably acquainted—cannot say a syllable in disputation of the fact."

Florence felt, more than ever, that there was something to come; and looked earnestly for it. So earnestly, that Cousin Feenix answered, as if she had spoken.

"The fact is," said Cousin Feenix, "that my friend Gay and myself have been discussing the propriety of entreating a favour at your hands; and that I have the consent of my friend Gay—who has met me in an exceedingly kind and open manner, for which I am very much indebted to him—to solicit it. I am sensible that so amiable a lady as the lovely and accomplished daughter of my friend Dombey will not require much