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Chapter 24
In Which Mr. Osborne Takes Down the Family Bible
So having prepared the sisters, Dobbin hastened away to the City to perform the rest and
more difficult part of the task which he had undertaken. The idea of facing old Osborne
rendered him not a little nervous, and more than once he thought of leaving the young
ladies to communicate the secret, which, as he was aware, they could not long retain. But
he had promised to report to George upon the manner in which the elder Osborne bore
the intelligence; so going into the City to the paternal counting-house in Thames Street,
he despatched thence a note to Mr. Osborne begging for a half-hour's conversation
relative to the affairs of his son George. Dobbin's messenger returned from Mr. Osborne's
house of business, with the compliments of the latter, who would be very happy to see the
Captain immediately, and away accordingly Dobbin went to confront him.
The Captain, with a half-guilty secret to confess, and with the prospect of a painful and
stormy interview before him, entered Mr. Osborne's offices with a most dismal
countenance and abashed gait, and, passing through the outer room where Mr. Chopper
presided, was greeted by that functionary from his desk with a waggish air which farther
discomfited him. Mr. Chopper winked and nodded and pointed his pen towards his
patron's door, and said, "You'll find the governor all right," with the most provoking good
Osborne rose too, and shook him heartily by the hand, and said, "How do, my dear boy?"
with a cordiality that made poor George's ambassador feel doubly guilty. His hand lay as
if dead in the old gentleman's grasp. He felt that he, Dobbin, was more or less the cause
of all that had happened. It was he had brought back George to Amelia: it was he had
applauded, encouraged, transacted almost the marriage which he was come to reveal to
George's father: and the latter was receiving him with smiles of welcome; patting him on
the shoulder, and calling him "Dobbin, my dear boy." The envoy had indeed good reason
to hang his head.
Osborne fully believed that Dobbin had come to announce his son's surrender. Mr.
Chopper and his principal were talking over the matter between George and his father, at
the very moment when Dobbin's messenger arrived. Both agreed that George was
sending in his submission. Both had been expecting it for some days--and "Lord!
Chopper, what a marriage we'll have!" Mr. Osborne said to his clerk, snapping his big
fingers, and jingling all the guineas and shillings in his great pockets as he eyed his
subordinate with a look of triumph.
With similar operations conducted in both pockets, and a knowing jolly air, Osborne
from his chair regarded Dobbin seated blank and silent opposite to him. "What a bumpkin
he is for a Captain in the army," old Osborne thought. "I wonder George hasn't taught
him better manners."