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Florence Dombey
by [?]

“It was my mamma!” exclaimed the child, springing up, and clasping her around the neck.

“And the child’s heart,” said Polly, drawing her to her breast, “the little daughter’s heart was so full of the truth of this, that even when she heard it from a strange nurse that couldn’t tell it right, but was a poor mother herself, and that was all, she found a comfort in it–didn’t feel so lonely–sobbed and cried upon her bosom–took kindly to the baby lying in her lap–and–there, there, there!” said Polly, smoothing the child’s curls, and dropping tears upon her. “There, poor dear!”

“Oh, well, Miss Floy! and won’t your pa be angry neither?” cried a quick voice at the door, proceeding from a short, brown womanly girl of fourteen, with little snub nose, and black eyes like jet beads, “when it was tickerlerly given out that you wasn’t to go and worrit the nurse.”

“She don’t worry me,” was the surprised rejoinder of Polly. “I’m very fond of children. Miss Florence has just come home, hasn’t she?”

“Yes, Mrs. Richards, and here, Miss Floy, before you’ve been in the house a quarter of an hour, you go a-smearing your wet face against the expensive mourning that Mrs. Richards is a-wearing for your ma!” With this remonstrance, young Spitfire, whose real name was Susan Nipper, detached the child from her new friend by a wrench–as if she were a tooth. But she seemed to do it more in the sharp exercise of her official functions, than with any deliberate unkindness.

“She’ll be quite happy, now that she’s come home again,” said Polly, nodding to her with a smile, “and will be so pleased to see her dear papa to-night.”

“Lork, Mrs. Richards!” cried Miss Nipper, taking up her words with a jerk, “Don’t! See her dear papa, indeed! I should like to see her do it! Her pa’s a deal too wrapped up in somebody else; and before there was somebody else to be wrapped up in, she never was a favorite. Girls are thrown away in this house, I assure you.”

“You surprise me,” cried Polly. “Hasn’t Mr. Dombey seen her since–“

“No,” interrupted Miss Nipper. “Not once since. And he hadn’t hardly set his eyes upon her before that, for months and months, and I don’t think he would know her for his own child if he was to meet her in the streets to-morrow. Oh, there’s a Tartar within a hundred miles of here, I can tell you, Mrs. Richards!” said Susan Nipper; “Wish you good morning, Mrs. Richards. Now Miss Floy, you come along with me, and don’t go hanging back like a naughty wicked child, that judgments is no example to, don’t.”

In spite of being thus adjured, and in spite also of some hauling on the part of Susan Nipper, little Florence broke away, and kissed her new friend affectionately, but Susan Nipper made a charge at her, and swept her out of the room.

When Polly Richards was left alone, her heart was sore for the motherless little girl, and she determined to devise some means of having Florence beside her lawfully and without rebellion. An opening happened to present itself that very night.

She had been rung down into the conservatory, as usual, and was walking about with the baby in her arms, when Mr. Dombey came up and stopped her.

“He looks thriving,” said Mr. Dombey, glancing with great interest at Paul’s tiny face, which she uncovered for his observation. “They give you everything that you want, I hope?”

“Oh, yes, thank you, sir;”

She hesitated so, however, that Mr. Dombey stopped again and looked at her inquiringly.

“I believe nothing is so good for making children lively, sir, as seeing other children playing about them,” observed Polly, taking courage.

“I think I mentioned to you, Richards, when you came here,” said Mr. Dombey, with a frown; “that I wished you to see as little of your family as possible. You can continue your walk, if you please.”