Charles Dickens

'I thought, before Miss Dombey stopped me when I spoke of her father last night,' said Walter, ' - you remember how?'

The Captain well remembered, and shook his head.

'I thought,' said Walter, 'before that, that we had but one hard duty to perform, and that it was, to prevail upon her to communicate with her friends, and to return home.'

The Captain muttered a feeble 'Awast!' or a 'Stand by!' or something or other, equally pertinent to the occasion; but it was rendered so extremely feeble by the total discomfiture with which he received this announcement, that what it was, is mere matter of conjecture.

'But,' said Walter, 'that is over. I think so, no longer. I would sooner be put back again upon that piece of wreck, on which I have so often floated, since my preservation, in my dreams, and there left to drift, and drive, and die!'

'Hooroar, my lad!' exclaimed the Captain, in a burst of uncontrollable satisfaction. 'Hooroar! hooroar! hooroar!'

'To think that she, so young, so good, and beautiful,' said Walter, 'so delicately brought up, and born to such a different fortune, should strive with the rough world! But we have seen the gulf that cuts off all behind her, though no one but herself can know how deep it is; and there is no return.

Captain Cuttle, without quite understanding this, greatly approved of it, and observed in a tone of strong corroboration, that the wind was quite abaft.

'She ought not to be alone here; ought she, Captain Cuttle?' said Walter, anxiously.

'Well, my lad,' replied the Captain, after a little sagacious consideration. 'I don't know. You being here to keep her company, you see, and you two being jintly - '

'Dear Captain Cuttle!' remonstrated Walter. 'I being here! Miss Dombey, in her guileless innocent heart, regards me as her adopted brother; but what would the guile and guilt of my heart be, if I pretended to believe that I had any right to approach her, familiarly, in that character - if I pretended to forget that I am bound, in honour, not to do it?'

'Wal'r, my lad,' hinted the Captain, with some revival of his discomfiture, 'ain't there no other character as - '

'Oh!' returned Walter, 'would you have me die in her esteem - in such esteem as hers - and put a veil between myself and her angel's face for ever, by taking advantage of her being here for refuge, so trusting and so unprotected, to endeavour to exalt myself into her lover? What do I say? There is no one in the world who would be more opposed to me if I could do so, than you.'

'Wal'r, my lad,' said the Captain, drooping more and more, 'prowiding as there is any just cause or impediment why two persons should not be jined together in the house of bondage, for which you'll overhaul the place and make a note, I hope I should declare it as promised and wowed in the banns. So there ain't no other character; ain't there, my lad?'

Walter briskly waved his hand in the negative.

'Well, my lad,' growled the Captain slowly, 'I won't deny but what I find myself wery much down by the head, along o' this here, or but what I've gone clean about. But as to Lady lass, Wal'r, mind you, wot's respect and duty to her, is respect and duty in my articles, howsumever disapinting; and therefore I follows in your wake, my lad, and feel as you are, no doubt, acting up to yourself. And there ain't no other character, ain't there?' said the Captain, musing over the ruins of his fallen castle, with a very despondent face.

'Now, Captain Cuttle,' said Walter, starting a fresh point with a gayer air, to cheer the Captain up - but nothing could do that; he was too much concerned - 'I think we should exert ourselves to find someone who would be a proper attendant for Miss Dombey while she remains here, and who may be trusted. None of her relations may. It's clear Miss Dombey feels that they are all subservient to her father. What has become of Susan?'

'The young woman?' returned the Captain. 'It's my belief as she was sent away again the will of Heart's Delight. I made a signal for her when Lady lass first come, and she rated of her wery high, and said she had been gone a long time.'

'Then,' said Walter, 'do you ask Miss Dombey where she's gone, and we'll try to find her.