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Dombey and Son

3. In which Mr Dombey, as a Man and a Father, is seen at the
Head of the Home-Department
The funeral of the deceased lady having been 'performed to the entire satisfaction of the
undertaker, as well as of the neighbourhood at large, which is generally disposed to be
captious on such a point, and is prone to take offence at any omissions or short-
comings in the ceremonies, the various members of Mr Dombey's household subsided
into their several places in the domestic system. That small world, like the great one out
of doors, had the capacity of easily forgetting its dead; and when the cook had said she
was a quiet-tempered lady, and the house-keeper had said it was the common lot, and
the butler had said who'd have thought it, and the housemaid had said she couldn't
hardly believe it, and the footman had said it seemed exactly like a dream, they had
quite worn the subject out, and began to think their mourning was wearing rusty too.
On Richards, who was established upstairs in a state of honourable captivity, the dawn
of her new life seemed to break cold and grey. Mr Dombey's house was a large one, on
the shady side of a tall, dark, dreadfully genteel street in the region between Portland
Place and Bryanstone Square.' It was a corner house, with great wide areas containing
cellars frowned upon by barred windows, and leered at by crooked-eyed doors leading
to dustbins. It was a house of dismal state, with a circular back to it, containing a whole
suite of drawing-rooms looking upon a gravelled yard, where two gaunt trees, with
blackened trunks and branches, rattled rather than rustled, their leaves were so
smoked-dried. The summer sun was never on the street, but in the morning about
breakfast-time, when it came with the water-carts and the old clothes men, and the
people with geraniums, and the umbrella-mender, and the man who trilled the little bell
of the Dutch clock as he went along. It was soon gone again to return no more that day;
and the bands of music and the straggling Punch's shows going after it, left it a prey to
the most dismal of organs, and white mice; with now and then a porcupine, to vary the
entertainments; until the butlers whose families were dining out, began to stand at the
house-doors in the twilight, and the lamp-lighter made his nightly failure in attempting to
brighten up the street with gas.
It was as blank a house inside as outside. When the funeral was over, Mr Dombey
ordered the furniture to be covered up - perhaps to preserve it for the son with whom his
plans were all associated - and the rooms to be ungarnished, saving such as he
retained for himself on the ground floor. Accordingly, mysterious shapes were made of
tables and chairs, heaped together in the middle of rooms, and covered over with great
winding-sheets. Bell-handles, window-blinds, and looking-glasses, being papered up in
journals, daily and weekly, obtruded fragmentary accounts of deaths and dreadful
murders. Every chandelier or lustre, muffled in holland, looked like a monstrous tear
depending from the ceiling's eye. Odours, as from vaults and damp places, came out of
the chimneys. The dead and buried lady was awful in a picture-frame of ghastly
bandages. Every gust of wind that rose, brought eddying round the corner from the
neighbouring mews, some fragments of the straw that had been strewn before the
 
 
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