Page:Dombey and Son.djvu/727

This page needs to be proofread.

urging; but I am happy to know, that I am supported by my friend Gay’s influence and approval. As in my parliamentary time, when a man had a motion to make of any sort—which happened seldom in those days, for we were kept very tight in hand, the leaders on both sides being regular Martinets, which was a devilish good thing for the rank and file, like myself, and prevented our exposing ourselves continually, as a great many of us had a feverish anxiety to do—as, in my parliamentary time, I was about to say, when a man had leave to let off any little private popgun, it was always considered a great point for him to say that he had the happiness of believing that his sentiments were not without an echo in the breast of Mr. Pitt; the pilot, in point of fact, who had weathered the storm. Upon which, a devilish large number of fellows immediately cheered, and put him in spirits. Though the fact is, that these fellows, being under orders to cheer most excessively whenever Mr. Pitt’s name was mentioned, became so proficient that it always woke 'em. And they were so entirely innocent of what was going on, otherwise, that it used to be commonly said by Conversation Brown—four-bottle man at the Treasury Board, with whom the father of my friend Gay was probably acquainted, for it was before my friend Gay’s time—that if a man had risen in his place, and said that he regretted to inform the house that there was an Honourable Member in the last stage of convulsions in the Lobby, and that the Honourable Member’s name was Pitt, the approbation would have been vociferous."

This postponement of the point, put Florence in a flutter; and she looked from Cousin Feenix to Walter, in increasing agitation.

"My love," said Walter, "there is nothing the matter."

"There is nothing the matter, upon my honour," said Cousin Feenix; "and I am deeply distressed at being the means of causing you a moment’s uneasiness. I beg to assure you that there is nothing the matter. The favour that I have to ask is, simply—but it really does seem so exceedingly singular, that I should be in the last degree obliged to my friend Gay if he would have the goodness to break the—in point of fact, the ice," said Cousin Feenix.

Walter thus appealed to, and appealed to no less in the look that Florence turned towards him, said:

"My dearest, it is no more than this. That you will ride to London with this gentleman, whom you know."

"And my friend Gay, also—I beg your pardon!" interrupted Cousin Feenix.

"—And with me—and make a visit somewhere."

"To whom?" asked Florence, looking from one to the other.

"If I might entreat," said Cousin Feenix, "that you would not press for an answer to that question, I would venture to take the liberty of making the request."

"Do you know, Walter?"


"And think it right?"

"Yes. Only because I am sure that you would too. Though there may be reasons I very well understand, which make it better that nothing more should be said beforehand."

"If Papa is still asleep, or can spare me if he is awake, I will go immediately," said Florence. And rising quietly, and glancing at them