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6. Paul's Second Deprivation
Polly was beset by so many misgivings in the morning, that but for the incessant
promptings of her black-eyed companion, she would have abandoned all thoughts of
the expedition, and formally petitioned for leave to see number one hundred and forty-
seven, under the awful shadow of Mr Dombey's roof. But Susan who was personally
disposed in favour of the excursion, and who (like Tony Lumpkin), if she could bear the
disappointments of other people with tolerable fortitude, could not abide to disappoint
herself, threw so many ingenious doubts in the way of this second thought, and
stimulated the original intention with so many ingenious arguments, that almost as soon
as Mr Dombey's stately back was turned, and that gentleman was pursuing his daily
road towards the City, his unconscious son was on his way to Staggs's Gardens.
This euphonious locality was situated in a suburb, known by the inhabitants of Staggs's
Gardens by the name of Camberling Town; a designation which the Strangers' Map of
London, as printed (with a view to pleasant and commodious reference) on pocket
handkerchiefs, condenses, with some show of reason, into Camden Town. Hither the
two nurses bent their steps, accompanied by their charges; Richards carrying Paul, of
course, and Susan leading little Florence by the hand, and giving her such jerks and
pokes from time to time, as she considered it wholesome to administer.
The first shock of a great earthquake had, just at that period, rent the whole
neighbourhood to its centre. Traces of its course were visible on every side. Houses
were knocked down; streets broken through and stopped; deep pits and trenches dug in
the ground; enormous heaps of earth and clay thrown up; buildings that were
undermined and shaking, propped by great beams of wood. Here, a chaos of carts,
overthrown and jumbled together, lay topsy-turvy at the bottom of a steep unnatural hill;
there, confused treasures of iron soaked and rusted in something that had accidentally
become a pond. Everywhere were bridges that led nowhere; thoroughfares that were
wholly impassable; Babel towers of chimneys, wanting half their height; temporary
wooden houses and enclosures, in the most unlikely situations; carcases of ragged
tenements, and fragments of unfinished walls and arches, and piles of scaffolding, and
wildernesses of bricks, and giant forms of cranes, and tripods straddling above nothing.
There were a hundred thousand shapes and substances of incompleteness, wildly
mingled out of their places, upside down, burrowing in the earth, aspiring in the air,
mouldering in the water, and unintelligible as any dream. Hot springs and fiery
eruptions, the usual attendants upon earthquakes, lent their contributions of confusion
to the scene. Boiling water hissed and heaved within dilapidated walls; whence, also,
the glare and roar of flames came issuing forth; and mounds of ashes blocked up rights
of way, and wholly changed the law and custom of the neighbourhood.
In short, the yet unfinished and unopened Railroad was in progress; and, from the very
core of all this dire disorder, trailed smoothly away, upon its mighty course of civilisation
and improvement.