« ПредыдущаяПродолжить »
Recognisant and Reflective.
AMONG Sundry minor alterations in Mr. Carker's life and habits that began to take place at this time, none was more remarkable than the extraordinary diligence with which he applied himself to business, and the closeness with which he investigated every detail that the affairs of the House laid open to him. Always active and penetrating in such matters, his lynx-eyed vigilance now increased twenty-fold. Not only did his wary watch keep every present point that every day presented to him. in some new form, but in the midst of these engrossing occupations he found leisure—that is, 'he made it to review the past transactions of the Firm, and his share in them, during a long series of years. Frequently when the clerks were all gone, the offices dark and empty, and all similar places of business shut up, Mr. Carker, with the whole anatomy of the iron room laid bare before him, would explore the mysteries of books and papers, with the patient progress of a man who was dissecting the minutest nerves and fibres of his subject. Perch, the messenger, who usually remained on these occasions, to entertain himself with the perusal of the Price Current by the light of one candle, or to doze over the fire in the outer office, at the imminent risk every moment of diving head foremost into the coal box, could not withhold the tribute of his admiration from this zealous conduct, although it much contracted his domestic enjoyments; and again and again expatiated to Mrs. Perch (now nursing twins) on the industry and acuteness of their managing gentleman in the City,
The same increased and sharp attention that Mr. Carker bestowed on the business of the House, he applied to his own personal affairs. Though not a partner in the concern-a distinction hitherto reserved solely to inheritors of the great name of
Dombey-he was in the receipt of some per centage on its deal. ings; and, participating in all its facilities for the employment of money to advantage, was considered, by the minnows among the tritons of the East, a rich man. It began to be said, among these shrewd observers, that Jem Carker, of Dombey's, was looking about him to see what he was worth; and that he was calling in his money at a good time, like the long-headed fellow he was and bets were even offered on the Stock Exchange that Jem was going to marry a rich widow.
Yet these cares did not in the least interfere with Mr. Carker's watching of his chief, or with his cleanness, neatness, sleekness, or any cat-like quality he possessed. It was not so much that there was a change in him, in reference to any of his habits, as that the whole man was intensified. Everything that had been observable in him before, was observable now, but with a greater amount of concentration. He did each single thing, as if he did nothing else a pretty certain indication in a man of that range of ability and purpose, that he is doing something which sharpens and keeps alive his keenest powers.
The only decided alteration in him was, that as he rode to and fro along the streets, he would fall into deep fits of musing, like that in which he had come away from Mr. Dombey's house, on the morning of that gentleman's disaster. At such times, he would keep clear of the obstacles in his way, mechanically; and would appear to see and hear nothing until arrival at his destina tion, or some sudden chance or effort roused him.
Walking his white-legged horse thus, to the counting-house of Dombey and Son one day, he was as unconscious of the observation of two pairs of woman's eyes, as of the fascinated orbs of Rob the Grinder, who, in waiting a street's length from the ap pointed place, as a demonstration of punctuality, vainly touched and retouched his hat to attract attention, and trott. d along on foot, by his master's side, prepared to hold his stirrup when he should alight.
"See where he goes!" cried one of these two women, an old creature, who stretched out her shrivelled arm to point him out to her companion, a young woman, who stood close beside her, withdrawn like herself into a gateway.
Mrs. Brown's daughter looked out, at this bidding on the part