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"Yes, Sir."

"Do you think she could-you know-eh ?"

"I beg your pardon, Mr. Toots," said Susan, "but I don't hear you."

"Do you think she could be brought, you know-not exactly at once, but in time-in a long time-to-to love me, you know! There!" said poor Mr. Toots.

"Oh, dear no!" returned Susan, shaking her head. "I should say, never. Ne-ver!"

"Thank'ee!" said Mr. Toots. "It's of no consequence. Good night. It's of no consequence, thank'ee!"

CHAPTER XLV.

The Trusty Agent.

EDITH went out alone that day, and returned home early. It was but a few minutes after ten o'clock, when her carriage rolled along the street in which she lived.

There was the same enforced composure on her face, that there had been when she was dressing; and the wreath upon her head encircled the same cold and steady brow. But it would have been better to have seen its leaves and flowers reft into fragments by her passionate hand, or rendered shapeless by the fitful searches of a throbbing and bewildered brain for any resting place, than adorning such tranquillity. So obdurate, so unapproachable, so unrelenting, one would have thought that nothing could soften such a woman's nature, and that everything in life had hardened it.

Arrived at her own door, she was alighting, when some one coming quietly from the hall, and standing bareheaded, offered her his arm The servant being thrust aside, she had no choice but to touch it; and she then knew whose arm it was.

"How is your patient, Sir?" she said, with a curled lip.

"He is doing very well.

"He is better," returned Carker. I have left him for the night."

She bent her head, and was passing up the staircase, when he followed and said, speaking at the bottom :

"Madam! May I beg the favor of a minute's audience?" She stopped and turned her eyes back. "It is an unseasonable time, Sir, and I am fatigued. Is your business urgent?" “It is very urgent," returned Carker. "As I am so fortunate as to have met you, let me press my petition.”

She looked down for a moment at his glistening mouth; and he looked up at her, standing above him in her stately dress, and thought, again, how beautiful she was.

"Where is Miss Dombey ?" she asked the servant, aloud. "In the morning room, Ma'am."

"Show the way there!" Turning her eyes again on the attentive gentleman at the bottom of the stairs, and informing him, with a slight motion of her head, that he was at liberty to follow, she passed on.

"I beg your pardon! Madam! Mrs. Dombey!" cried the soft and nimble Carker, at her side in a moment. "May I be permitted to entreat that Miss Dombey is not present?"

She confronted him, with a quick look, but with the same selfpossession and steadiness.

"I would spare Miss Dombey," said Carker in a low voice, "the knowledge of what I have to say. At least, Madam, I would leave it to you to decide whether she shall know of it or not. I owe that to you. It is my bounden duty to you. After our former interview, it would be monstrous in me if I did otherwise."

She slowly withdrew her eyes from his face, and turning to the servant, said, "Some other room." He led the way to a drawing-room, which he speedily lighted up and then left them. While he remained, not a word was spoken. Edith enthroned herself upon a couch by the fire; and Mr. Carker, with his hat in his hand and his eyes bent upon the carpet, stood before her, at some little distance.

"Before I hear you, Sir," said Edith, when the door was closed, "I wish you to hear me."

"To be addressed by Mrs. Dombey," he returned, even in

accents of unmerited reproach, is an honor I so greatly esteem, that, although I were not her servant in all things, I should defer to such a wish, most readily."

"If you are charged by the man whom you have just now left, Sir; " Mr. Carker raised his eyes, as if he were going to counterfeit surprise, but she met them, and stopped him, if such were his intention; "with any message to me, do not attempt to deliver it, for I will not receive it. I need scarcely ask you if you are come on such an errand. I have expected you some time.” "It is my misfortune," he replied, "to be here, wholly against my will, for such a purpose. Allow me to say that I am here for two purposes. That is one."

Or, if you return

"That one, Sir," she returned," is ended. to it"

"Can Mrs. Dombey believe," said Carker, coming nearer, "that I would return to it in the face of her prohibition? Is it possible that Mrs. Dombey, having no regard to my unfortunate position, is so determined to consider me inseparable from my instructor as to do me great and wilful injustice ?"

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Sir," returned Edith, bending her dark gaze full upon him, and speaking with a rising passion that inflated her proud nostril and her swelling neck, and stirred the delicate white down upon a robe she wore, thrown loosely over shoulders that could bear its snowy neighborhood. "Why do you present yourself to me, as you have done, and speak to me of love and duty to my husband, and pretend to think that I am happily married, and that I honor him? How dare you venture so to affront me, when you know -I do not know better, Sir: I have seen it in your every glance, and heard it in your every word—that in place of affection between us there is aversion and contempt, and I despise him hardly less than I despise myself for being his! Injustice! If I had done justice to the torment you have made me feel, and to my sense of the insult you have put upon me, I should have slain you!"

She had asked him why he did this. Had she not been blinded by her pride and wrath, and self-humiliation,-which she was, fiercely as she bent her gaze upon him,—she would have seen the answer in his face. To bring her to this declaration.

She saw it not, and cared not whether it was there or no. She

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saw only the indignities and struggles she had undergone, and had to undergo, and was writhing under then. As she sat looking fixedly at them, rather than at him, she plucked the feathers from a pinion of some rare and beautiful bird, which hung from her wrist by a golden thread, to serve her as a fan, and rained them on the ground.

He did not shrink beneath her gaze, but stood, until such outward signs of her anger as had escaped her control subsided, with the air of a man who had his sufficient reply in reserve and would presently deliver it. And he then spoke, looking straight into her kindling eyes.

Madam," he said, "I know, and knew before to-day, that I have found no favor with you; and I knew why. Yes. I knew why. You have spoken so openly to me; I am so relieved by the possession of your confidence"

"Confidence!" she repeated, with disdain.

He passed it over.

"-that I will make no pretence of concealment. I did see from the first, that there was no affection on your part for Mr. Dombey-how could it possibly exist between such different subjects! And I have seen, since, that stronger feelings than indifference have been engendered in your breast-how could that possibly be otherwise, either, circumstanced as you have been! But was it for me to presume to avow this knowledge to you in so many words?"

"Was it for you, Sir," she replied, "to feign that other belief, and audaciously to thrust it on me day by day?"

“Madam, it was," he cagerly retorted. "If I had done less, if I had done anything but that, I should not be speaking to you thus; and I foresaw-who could better foresee, for who has had greater experience of Mr. Dombey than myself?-that unless your character should prove to be as yielding and obedient as that of his first submissive lady, which I did not believe

"

A haughty smile gave him reason to observe that he might repeat this.

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"I say, which I did not believe,—the time was likely to come, when such an understanding as we have now arrived at, would be serviceable."

"Serviceable to whom, Sir?" she demanded, scornfully.

"To you. I will not add to myself, as warning me to refrain even from that limited commendation of Mr. Dombey, in which I can honestly indulge, in order that I may not have the misfortune of saying anything distasteful to one whose aversion and contempt" with great expression "are so keen."

"It is honest in you, Sir," said Edith, "to confess to your limited commendation,' and to speak in that tone of disparagement, even of him: being his chief counsellor and flatterer!"

"Counsellor,—yes,” said Carker. "Flatterer-no. A little reservation I fear I must confess to. But our interest and convenience commonly oblige many of us to make professions that we cannot feel. We have partnerships of interest and convenience, friendships of interest and convenience, dealings of interest and convenience, marriages of interest and convenience, every day."

She bit her blood-red lip; but without wavering in the dark, stern watch she kept upon him.

"Madam," said Mr. Carker, sitting down in a chair that was near her, with an air of the most profound and most considerate respect, "why should I hesitate now, being altogether devoted to your service, to speak plainly! It was natural that a lady, endowed as you are, should think it feasible to change her husband's character in some respects, and mould him to a better form."

"I had never

"It was not natural to me, Sir," she rejoined. any expectation or intention of that kind."

The proud undaunted face showed him it was resolute to wear no mask he offered, but was set upon a reckless disclosure of itself, indifferent to any aspect in which it might present itself to

such as he.

"At least it was natural," he resumed, "that you should deem it quite possible to live with Mr. Dombey as his wife, at once without submitting to him, and without coming into such violent collision with him. But, Madam, you did not know Mr. Dombey (as you have since ascertained), when you thought that. You did not know how exacting and how proud he is, or how he is, if I may say so, the slave of his own greatness, and goes yoked to his own triumphal car like a beast of burden, with no idea on

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