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Dombey and Son

15. Amazing Artfulness of Captain Cuttle, and a new Pursuit
for Walter Gay
Walter could not, for several days, decide what to do in the Barbados business; and
even cherished some faint hope that Mr Dombey might not have meant what he had
said, or that he might change his mind, and tell him he was not to go. But as nothing
occurred to give this idea (which was sufficiently improbable in itself) any touch of
confirmation, and as time was slipping by, and he had none to lose, he felt that he must
act, without hesitating any longer.
Walter's chief difficulty was, how to break the change in his affairs to Uncle Sol, to
whom he was sensible it would he a terrible blow. He had the greater difficulty in
dashing Uncle Sol's spirits with such an astounding piece of intelligence, because they
had lately recovered very much, and the old man had become so cheerful, that the little
back parlour was itself again. Uncle Sol had paid the first appointed portion of the debt
to Mr Dombey, and was hopeful of working his way through the rest; and to cast him
down afresh, when he had sprung up so manfully from his troubles, was a very
distressing necessity.
Yet it would never do to run away from him. He must know of it beforehand; and how to
tell him was the point. As to the question of going or not going, Walter did not consider
that he had any power of choice in the matter. Mr Dombey had truly told him that he
was young, and that his Uncle's circumstances were not good; and Mr Dombey had
plainly expressed, in the glance with which he had accompanied that reminder, that if he
declined to go he might stay at home if he chose, but not in his counting-house. His
Uncle and he lay under a great obligation to Mr Dombey, which was of Walter's own
soliciting. He might have begun in secret to despair of ever winning that gentleman's
favour, and might have thought that he was now and then disposed to put a slight upon
him, which was hardly just. But what would have been duty without that, was still duty
with it - or Walter thought so- and duty must be done.
When Mr Dombey had looked at him, and told him he was young, and that his Uncle's
circumstances were not good, there had been an expression of disdain in his face; a
contemptuous and disparaging assumption that he would be quite content to live idly on
a reduced old man, which stung the boy's generous soul. Determined to assure Mr
Dombey, in so far as it was possible to give him the assurance without expressing it in
words, that indeed he mistook his nature, Walter had been anxious to show even more
cheerfulness and activity after the West Indian interview than he had shown before: if
that were possible, in one of his quick and zealous disposition. He was too young and
inexperienced to think, that possibly this very quality in him was not agreeable to Mr
Dombey, and that it was no stepping-stone to his good opinion to be elastic and hopeful
of pleasing under the shadow of his powerful displeasure, whether it were right or
wrong. But it may have been - it may have been- that the great man thought himself
defied in this new exposition of an honest spirit, and purposed to bring it down.