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Dombey and Son

17. Captain Cuttle does a little Business for the Young People
Captain Cuttle, in the exercise of that surprising talent for deep-laid and unfathomable
scheming, with which (as is not unusual in men of transparent simplicity) he sincerely
believed himself to be endowed by nature, had gone to Mr Dombey's house on the
eventful Sunday, winking all the way as a vent for his superfluous sagacity, and had
presented himself in the full lustre of the ankle-jacks before the eyes of Towlinson.
Hearing from that individual, to his great concern, of the impending calamity, Captain
Cuttle, in his delicacy, sheered off again confounded; merely handing in the nosegay as
a small mark of his solicitude, and leaving his respectful compliments for the family in
general, which he accompanied with an expression of his hope that they would lay their
heads well to the wind under existing circumstances, and a friendly intimation that he
would 'look up again' to-morrow.
The Captain's compliments were never heard of any more. The Captain's nosegay, after
lying in the hall all night, was swept into the dust-bin next morning; and the Captain's sly
arrangement, involved in one catastrophe with greater hopes and loftier designs, was
crushed to pieces. So, when an avalanche bears down a mountain-forest, twigs and
bushes suffer with the trees, and all perish together.
When Walter returned home on the Sunday evening from his long walk, and its
memorable close, he was too much occupied at first by the tidings he had to give them,
and by the emotions naturally awakened in his breast by the scene through which he
had passed, to observe either that his Uncle was evidently unacquainted with the
intelligence the Captain had undertaken to impart, or that the Captain made signals with
his hook, warning him to avoid the subject. Not that the Captain's signals were
calculated to have proved very comprehensible, however attentively observed; for, like
those Chinese sages who are said in their conferences to write certain learned words in
the air that are wholly impossible of pronunciation, the Captain made such waves and
flourishes as nobody without a previous knowledge of his mystery, would have been at
all likely to understand.
Captain Cuttle, however, becoming cognisant of what had happened, relinquished these
attempts, as he perceived the slender chance that now existed of his being able to
obtain a little easy chat with Mr Dombey before the period of Walter's departure. But in
admitting to himself, with a disappointed and crestfallen countenance, that Sol Gills
must be told, and that Walter must go - taking the case for the present as he found it,
and not having it enlightened or improved beforehand by the knowing management of a
friend - the Captain still felt an unabated confidence that he, Ned Cuttle, was the man
for Mr Dombey; and that, to set Walter's fortunes quite square, nothing was wanted but
that they two should come together. For the Captain never could forget how well he and
Mr Dombey had got on at Brighton; with what nicety each of them had put in a word
when it was wanted; how exactly they had taken one another's measure; nor how Ned
Cuttle had pointed out that resources in the first extremity, and had brought the
 
 
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