Chapters 23-25 Summary
The Dombey house becomes decrepit looking with only Florence and the servants living there. Florence wanders the rooms, especially those of her mother and brother. She leaves little gifts in her father’s room but awakes in the night and removes them lest he return home and become angry. She wonders about Walter, since there has been no news from the ship in a long time.
She goes with Susan to Uncle Sol Gills’s home but finds only Rob there. They decide to ask Captain Cuttle and walk to his lodgings, where they encounter his unpleasant landlady, Mrs. MacStinger. Captain Cuttle greets them warmly and tries not to appear concerned about Walter’s silence. He explains that he was going to visit Sol the day before but that Mrs. MacStinger had not allowed him to leave. They slip by her and go down to the wharf to discuss the matter with Cuttle’s friend, Captain Jack Bunsby, who says it is possible that the ship has been lost. He keeps putting his arm around Susan, who pushes him away. They return to find Uncle Sol returned. He says he is glad to see Florence again before he—then he stops. Captain Cuttle invites him to have some dinner with him, but Sol says he does not have time. Captain Cuttle walks Florence and Susan home and returns to Sol’s home, anxious about him. He is relieved to see Sol sitting at his table, writing something.
Sir Barnet and Lady Skettles renew their invitation to Florence, who finally accepts. Sir Barnet enjoys introducing people to other people, so he has a constant flow of guests, especially children, running through his house. Florence observes the children, trying to see how they show their love so that she might learn to do so to her own father. She overhears a lady explaining to her niece that Florence is to be pitied because, even worse than an orphan, she is an outcast from the love of a living parent. She watches a poor man with an unpleasant daughter, yet even this child is loved by her parent. Mr. Carker the manager passes by and asks her if she has any message to give to her father. After ascertaining that there is no more news about Walter, she tells Mr. Carker to give her father her love.
The next morning, Captain Cuttle is awakened by Rob with the news that Sol Gills has disappeared. He left his keys and his will, which asks the captain to keep the shop open as a home for Walter. Captain Cuttle must sneak out of his lodgings since Mrs. MacStinger will not let him leave. He makes his home in Sol’s shop, as he had requested.