Part 4 out of 9
hated her. They had not a word of thanks or kindness for her, the fine
ladies. She sate there in the passage, she did not know how long. They
never came out to speak to her. She sate there until doctor Goodenough
came to pay his second visit that day; he found the poor little thing
at the door.
"What, nurse? How's your patient?" asked the good-natured doctor. "Has
he had any rest?"
"Go and ask them. They're inside," Fanny answered.
"Who? his mother?"
Fanny nodded her head and didn't speak.
"You must go to bed yourself, my poor little maid," said the doctor.
"You will be ill too, if you don't."
"O, mayn't I come and see him: mayn't I come and see him! I--I--love
him so," the little girl said; and as she spoke she fell down on her
knees and clasped hold of the doctor's hand in such an agony that to
see her melted the kind physician's heart, and caused a mist to come
over his spectacles.
"Pooh, pooh! Nonsense! Nurse, has he taken his draught? Has he had any
rest? Of course you must come and see him. So must I."
"They'll let me sit here, won't they, sir? I'll never make no noise. I
only ask to stop here," Fanny said. On which the doctor called her a
stupid little thing; put her down upon the bench where Pen's printer's
devil used to sit so many hours; tapped her pale cheek with his
finger, and bustled into the further room.
Mrs. Pendennis was ensconced, pale and solemn, in a great chair by
Pen's bed-side. Her watch was on the bed-table by Pen's medicines. Her
bonnet and cloaks were laid in the window. She had her Bible in her
lap, without which she never traveled. Her first movement, after
seeing her son, had been to take Fanny's shawl and bonnet which were
on his drawers, and bring them out and drop them down upon his
study-table. She had closed the door upon Major Pendennis, and Laura
too; and taken possession of her son.
She had had a great doubt and terror lest Arthur should not know her;
but that pang was spared to her, in part at least. Pen knew his mother
quite well, and familiarly smiled and nodded at her. When she came in,
he instantly fancied that they were at home at Fairoaks; and began to
talk and chatter and laugh in a rambling wild way. Laura could hear
him outside. His laughter shot shafts of poison into her heart. It was
true then. He had been guilty--and with _that_ creature!--an intrigue
with a servant maid; and she had loved him--and he was dying most
likely--raving and unrepentant. The major now and then hummed out a
word of remark or consolation, which Laura scarce heard. A dismal
sitting it was for all parties; and when Goodenough appeared, he came
like an angel into the room.
It is not only for the sick man, it is for the sick man's friends that
the doctor comes. His presence is often as good for them as for the
patient, and they long for him yet more eagerly. How we have all
watched after him! what an emotion the thrill of his carriage-wheels
in the street, and at length at the door, has made us feel! how we
hang upon his words, and what a comfort we get from a smile or two, if
he can vouchsafe that sunshine to lighten our darkness! Who hasn't
seen the mother praying into his face, to know if there is hope for
the sick infant that can not speak, and that lies yonder, its little
frame battling with fever? Ah, how she looks into his eyes! What
thanks if there is light there; what grief and pain if he casts them
down, and dares not say "hope!" Or it is the house-father who is
stricken. The terrified wife looks on, while the physician feels his
patient's wrist, smothering her agonies, as the children have been
called upon to stay their plays and their talk. Over the patient in
the fever, the wife expectant, the children unconscious, the doctor
stands as if he were Fate, the dispenser of life and death: he _must_
let the patient off this time; the woman prays so for his respite! One
can fancy how awful the responsibility must be to a conscientious man:
how cruel the feeling that he has given the wrong remedy, or that it
might have been possible to do better: how harassing the sympathy with
survivors, if the case is unfortunate--how immense the delight
Having passed through a hasty ceremony of introduction to the new
comers, of whose arrival he had been made aware by the heart-broken
little nurse in waiting without, the doctor proceeded to examine the
patient, about whose condition of high fever there could be no
mistake, and on whom he thought it necessary to exercise the strongest
antiphlogistic remedies in his power. He consoled the unfortunate
mother as best he might; and giving her the most comfortable
assurances on which he could venture, that there was no reason to
despair yet, that every thing might still be hoped from his youth, the
strength of his constitution, and so forth, and having done his utmost
to allay the horrors of the alarmed matron, he took the elder
Pendennis aside into the vacant room (Warrington's bed-room), for the
purpose of holding a little consultation.
The case was very critical. The fever, if not stopped, might and would
carry off the young fellow: he must be bled forthwith: the mother
must be informed of this necessity. Why was that other young lady
brought with her? She was out of place in a sick room.
"And there was another woman still, be hanged to it!" the major said,
"the--the little person who opened the door." His sister-in-law had
brought the poor little devil's bonnet and shawl out, and flung them
upon the study-table. Did Goodenough know any thing about the--the
little person? "I just caught a glimpse of her as we passed in," the
major said, "and begad she was uncommonly nice-looking." The doctor
looked queer: the doctor smiled--in the very gravest moments, with
life and death pending, such strange contrasts and occasions of humor
will arise, and such smiles will pass, to satirize the gloom, as it
were, and to make it more gloomy!
"I have it," at last he said, re-entering the study;
and he wrote a couple of notes hastily at the table there, and sealed
one of them. Then, taking up poor Fanny's shawl and bonnet, and the
notes, he went out in the passage to that poor little messenger, and
said, "Quick, nurse; you must carry this to the surgeon, and bid him
come instantly: and then go to my house, and ask for my servant,
Harbottle, and tell him to get this prescription prepared; and wait
until I--until it is ready. It may take a little time in preparation."
So poor Fanny trudged away with her two notes, and found the
apothecary, who lived in the Strand hard by, and who came straightway,
his lancet in his pocket, to operate on his patient; and then Fanny
made for the doctor's house, in Hanover-square.
The doctor was at home again before the prescription was made up,
which took Harbottle, his servant, such a long time in compounding:
and, during the remainder of Arthur's illness, poor Fanny never made
her appearance in the quality of nurse at his chambers any more. But
for that day and the next, a little figure might be seen lurking about
Pen's staircase--a sad, sad little face looked at and interrogated the
apothecary and the apothecary's boy, and the laundress, and the kind
physician himself, as they passed out of the chambers of the sick man.
And on the third day, the kind doctor's chariot stopped at Shepherd's
Inn, and the good, and honest, and benevolent man went into the
Porter's Lodge, and tended a little patient he had there, for whom the
best remedy he found was on the day when he was enabled to tell Fanny
Bolton that the crisis was over, and that there was at length every
hope for Arthur Pendennis.
J. Costigan, Esquire, late of her Majesty's service, saw the doctor's
carriage, and criticised its horses and appointments. "Green liveries,
bedad!" the general said, "and as foin a pair of high-stepping bee
horses as ever a gentleman need sit behoind, let alone a docthor.
There's no ind to the proide and ar'gance of them docthors
nowadays--not but that is a good one, and a scoientific cyarkter, and
a roight good fellow, bedad; and he's brought the poor little girl
well troo her faver, Bows, me boy;" and so pleased was Mr. Costigan
with the doctor's behavior and skill, that, whenever he met Dr.
Goodenough's carriage in future, he made a point of saluting it and
the physician inside, in as courteous and magnificent a manner, as if
Dr. Goodenough had been the Lord Liftenant himself, and Captain
Costigan had been in his glory in Phaynix Park.
The widow's gratitude to the physician knew no bounds--or scarcely any
bounds, at least. The kind gentleman laughed at the idea of taking a
fee from a literary man, or the widow of a brother practitioner; and she
determined when she got back to Fairoaks that she would send
Goodenough the silver-gilt vase, the jewel of the house, and the glory
of the late John Pendennis, preserved in green baize, and presented to
him at Bath, by the Lady Elizabeth Firebrace, on the recovery of her
son, the late Sir Anthony Firebrace, from the scarlet fever.
Hippocrates, Hygeia, King Bladud, and a wreath of serpents surmount
the cup to this day; which was executed in their finest manner, by
Messrs. Abednego, of Milsom-street; and the inscription was by Mr.
Birch tutor to the young baronet.
This priceless gem of art the widow determined to devote to Goodenough,
the preserver of her son; and there was scarcely any other
favor which her gratitude would not have conferred upon him, except
one, which he desired most, and which was that she should think a
little charitably and kindly of poor Fanny, of whose artless, sad
story, he had got something during his interviews with her, and of
whom he was induced to think very kindly--not being disposed, indeed,
to give much credit to Pen for his conduct in the affair, or not
knowing what that conduct had been. He knew, enough, however, to be
aware that the poor infatuated little girl was without stain as yet;
that while she had been in Pen's room it was to see the last of him,
as she thought, and that Arthur was scarcely aware of her presence; and
that she suffered under the deepest and most pitiful grief, at the
idea of losing him, dead or living.
But on the one or two occasions when Goodenough alluded to Fanny, the
widow's countenance, always soft and gentle, assumed an expression so
cruel and inexorable, that the doctor saw it was in vain to ask her
for justice or pity, and he broke off all entreaties, and ceased
making any further allusions regarding his little client. There is a
complaint which neither poppy, nor mandragora, nor all the drowsy
syrups of the East could allay, in the men in his time, as we are
informed by a popular poet of the days of Elizabeth; and which, when
exhibited in women, no medical discoveries or practice subsequent
--neither homoeopathy, nor hydropathy, nor mesmerism, nor Dr.
Simpson, nor Dr. Locock can cure, and that is--we won't call it
jealousy, but rather gently denominate rivalry and emulation,
Some of those mischievious and prosaic people who carp and calculate
at every detail of the romancer, and want to know, for instance, how
when the characters "in the Critic" are at a dead lock with their
daggers at each other's throats, they are to be got out of that
murderous complication of circumstances, may be induced to ask how it
was possible in a set of chambers in the Temple, consisting of three
rooms, two cupboards, a passage, and a coal-box, Arthur a sick
gentleman, Helen his mother, Laura her adopted daughter, Martha their
country attendant, Mrs. Wheezer a nurse from St. Bartholomew's
Hospital, Mrs. Flanagan an Irish laundress, Major Pendennis a retired
military officer, Morgan his valet, Pidgeon Mr. Arthur Pendennis's
boy, and others could be accommodated--the answer is given at once,
that almost every body in the Temple was out of town, and that there
was scarcely a single occupant of Pen's house in Lamb Court except
those who were occupied round the sick bed of the sick gentleman,
about whose fever we have not given a lengthy account, neither shall
we enlarge very much upon the more cheerful theme of his recovery.
Every body we have said was out of town, and of course such a
fashionable man as young Mr. Sibwright, who occupied chambers on the
second floor in Pen's staircase, could not be supposed to remain in
London. Mrs. Flanagan, Mr. Pendennis's laundress, was acquainted with
Mrs. Rouncy who did for Mr. Sibwright, and that gentleman's bedroom
was got ready for Miss Bell, or Mrs. Pendennis, when the latter should
be inclined to leave her son's sick room, to try and seek for a little
rest for herself.
If that young buck and flower of Baker-street, Percy Sibwright could
have known who was the occupant of his bedroom, how proud he would
have been of that apartment: what poems he would have written about
Laura! (several of his things have appeared in the annuals, and in
manuscript in the nobility's albums)--he was a Camford man and very
nearly got the English Prize Poem, it was said--Sibwright, however,
was absent and his bed given up to Miss Bell. It was the prettiest
little brass bed in the world, with chintz curtains lined with
pink--he had a mignonette box in his bedroom window, and the mere
sight of his little exhibition of shiny boots, arranged in trim rows
over his wardrobe, was a gratification to the beholder. He had a
museum of scent, pomatum, and bears' grease pots, quite curious to
examine, too; and a choice selection of portraits of females almost
always in sadness and generally in disguise or dishabille, glittered
round the neat walls of his elegant little bower of repose. Medora
with disheveled hair was consoling herself over her banjo for the
absence of her Conrad--the Princesse Fleur de Marie (of Rudolstein and
the Mystères de Paris) was sadly ogling out of the bars of her convent
cage, in which, poor prisoned bird, she was moulting away--Dorothea of
Don Quixote was washing her eternal feet:--in fine, it was such an
elegant gallery as became a gallant lover of the sex. And in
Sibwright's sitting-room, while there was quite an infantine law
library clad in skins of fresh new born calf, there was a tolerably
large collection of classical books which he could not read, and of
English and French works of poetry and fiction which he read a great
deal too much. His invitation cards of the past season still decorated
his looking glass: and scarce any thing told of the lawyer but the
wig-box beside the Venus upon the middle shelf of the bookcase, on
which the name of P. Sibwright, Esquire, was gilded.
With Sibwright in chambers was Mr. Bangham. Mr. Bangham was a sporting
man married to a rich widow. Mr. Bangham had no practice--did not come
to chambers thrice in a term: went a circuit for those mysterious
reasons which make men go circuit--and his room served as a great
convenience to Sibwright when that young gentleman gave his little
dinners. It must be confessed that these two gentlemen have nothing to
do with our history, will never appear in it again probably, but we
can not help glancing through their doors as they happen to be open to
us, and as we pass to Pen's rooms; as in the pursuit of our own
business in life through the Strand, at the Club, nay at Church
itself, we can not help peeping at the shops on the way, or at our
neighbor's dinner, or at the faces under the bonnets in the next pew.
Very many years after the circumstances about which we are at present
occupied, Laura with a blush and a laugh showing much humor owned to
having read a French novel once much in vogue, and when her husband
asked her, wondering where on earth she could have got such a volume,
she owned that it was in the Temple, when she lived in Mr. Percy
"And, also, I never confessed," she said, "on that same occasion, what
I must now own to; that I opened the japanned box, and took out that
strange-looking wig inside it, and put it on and looked at myself in
the glass in it."
Suppose Percy Sibwright had come in at such a moment as that? What
would he have said--the enraptured rogue? What would have been all the
pictures of disguised beauties in his room compared to that living
one? Ah, we are speaking of old times, when Sibwright was a bachelor
and before he got a county court--when people were young--when _most_
people were young. Other people are young now; but we no more.
When Miss Laura played this prank with the wig, you can't suppose that
Pen could have been very ill up-stairs; otherwise, though she had
grown to care for him ever so little, common sense of feeling and
decorum would have prevented her from performing any tricks or trying
But all sorts of events had occurred in the course of the last few
days which had contributed to increase or account for her gayety, and
a little colony of the reader's old friends and acquaintances was by
this time established in Lamb Court, Temple, and round Pen's sick bed
there. First, Martha, Mrs. Pendennis's servant, had arrived from
Fairoaks, being summoned thence by the major, who justly thought her
presence would be comfortable and useful to her mistress and her young
master, for neither of whom the constant neighborhood of Mrs. Flanagan
(who during Pen's illness required more spirituous consolation than
ever to support her) could be pleasant. Martha then made her
appearance in due season to wait upon Mrs. Pendennis, nor did that
lady go once to bed until the faithful servant had reached her, when,
with a heart full of maternal thankfulness, she went and lay down upon
Warrington's straw mattress, and among his mathematical books as has
been already described.
It is true ere that day a great and delightful alteration in Pen's
condition had taken place. The fever, subjugated by Dr. Goodenough's
blisters, potions, and lancet, had left the young man, or only
returned at intervals of feeble intermittance; his wandering senses
had settled in his weakened brain: he had had time to kiss and bless
his mother for coming to him, and calling for Laura and his uncle (who
were both affected according to their different natures by his wan
appearance, his lean shrunken hands, his hollow eyes and voice, his
thin bearded face) to press their hands and thank them affectionately;
and after this greeting, and after they had been turned out of the
room by his affectionate nurse, he had sunk into a fine sleep which
had lasted for about sixteen hours, at the end of which period he
awoke calling out that he was very hungry. If it is hard to be ill and
to loathe food, oh, how pleasant to be getting well and to be
feeling hungry--_how_ hungry! Alas, the joys of convalescence become
feebler with increasing years, as other joys do--and then--and then
comes that illness when one does not convalesce at all.
On the day of this happy event, too, came another arrival in
Lambcourt. This was introduced into the Pen-Warrington sitting-room by
large puffs of tobacco smoke--the puffs of smoke were followed by an
individual with a cigar in his mouth, and a carpet bag under his arm--
this was Warrington, who had run back from Norfolk, when Mr. Bows
thoughtfully wrote to inform him of his friend's calamity. But he had
been from home when Bows's letter had reached his brother's house--
the Eastern Counties did not then boast of a railway (for we beg the
reader to understand that we only commit anachronisms when we choose,
and when by a daring violation of those natural laws some great
ethical truth is to be advanced)--in fine, Warrington only appeared
with the rest of the good luck upon the lucky day after Pen's
convalescence may have been said to have begun.
His surprise was, after all, not very great when he found the chambers
of his sick friend occupied, and his old acquaintance the major seated
demurely in an easy chair, (Warrington had let himself into the rooms
with his own pass-key), listening, or pretending to listen, to a young
lady who was reading to him a play of Shakspeare in a low sweet voice.
The lady stopped and started, and laid down her book, at the
apparition of the tall traveler with the cigar and the carpet-bag. He
blushed, he flung the cigar into the passage: he took off his hat, and
dropped that too, and going up to the major, seized that old
gentleman's hand, and asked questions about Arthur.
The major answered in a tremulous, though cheery voice--it was curious
how emotion seemed to olden him--and returning Warrington's pressure
with a shaking hand, told him the news--of Arthur's happy crisis, of
his mother's arrival--with her young charge--with Miss--
"You need not tell me her name," Mr. Warrington said with great
animation, for he was affected and elated with the thought of his
friend's recovery--"you need not tell me your name. I knew at once it
was Laura." And he held out his hand and took hers. Immense kindness
and tenderness gleamed from under his rough eyebrows, and shook his
voice as he gazed at her and spoke to her. "And this is Laura !" his
looks seemed to say. "And this is Warrington," the generous girl's
heart beat back. "Arthur's hero--the brave and the kind--he has come
hundreds of miles to succor him, when he heard of his friend's
"Thank you, Mr. Warrington," was all that Laura said, however; and as
she returned the pressure of his kind hand, she blushed so, that she
was glad the lamp was behind her to conceal her flushing face.
As these two were standing in this attitude, the door of Pen's
bed-chamber was opened stealthily as his mother was wont to open it,
and Warrington saw another lady, who first looked at him, and then
turning round toward the bed, said, "Hsh!" and put up her hand. It
was to Pen Helen was turning, and giving caution. He called out with a
feeble, tremulous, but cheery voice, "Come in, Stunner--come in,
Warrington. I knew it was you--by the--by the smoke, old boy," he
said, as holding his worn hand out, and with tears at once of weakness
and pleasure in his eyes, he greeted his friend.
"I--I beg pardon, ma'am, for smoking," Warrington said, who now almost
for the first time blushed for his wicked propensity.
Helen only said, "God bless you, Mr. Warrington." She was so happy,
she would have liked to kiss George. Then, and after the friends had
had a brief, very brief interview, the delighted and inexorable
mother, giving her hand to Warrington, sent him out of the room too,
back to Laura and the major, who had not resumed their play of
Cymbeline where they had left it off at the arrival of the rightful
owner of Pen's chambers.
Our duty now is to record a fact concerning Pendennis, which, however
shameful and disgraceful, when told regarding the chief personage and
Godfather of a novel, must, nevertheless, be made known to the public
who reads his veritable memoirs. Having gone to bed ill with fever,
and suffering to a certain degree under the passion of love, after he
had gone through his physical malady, and had been bled and had been
blistered, and had had his head shaved, and had been treated and
medicamented as the doctor ordained: it is a fact, that, when he
rallied up from his bodily ailment, his mental malady had likewise
quitted him, and he was no more in love with Fanny Bolton than you or
I, who are much too wise, or too moral, to allow our hearts to go
gadding after porters' daughters.
He laughed at himself as he lay on his pillow, thinking of this second
cure which had been effected upon him. He did not care the least about
Fanny now; he wondered how he ever should have cared: and according to
his custom made an autopsy of that dead passion, and anatomized his
own defunct sensation for his poor little nurse. What could have made
him so hot and eager about her but a few weeks back: Not her wit, not
her breeding, not her beauty--there were hundreds of women better
looking than she. It was out of himself that the passion had gone: it
did not reside in her. She was the same; but the eyes which saw her
were changed; and, alas, that it should be so! were not particularly
eager to see her any more. He felt very well disposed toward the
little thing, and so forth, but as for violent personal regard, such
as he had but a few weeks ago, it had fled under the influence of the
pill and lancet, which had destroyed the fever in his frame. And an
immense source of comfort and gratitude it was to Pendennis (though
there was something selfish in that feeling, as in most others of our
young man), that he had been enabled to resist temptation at the time
when the danger was greatest, and had no particular cause of
self-reproach as he remembered his conduct toward the young girl. As
from a precipice down which he might have fallen, so from the fever
from which he had recovered, he reviewed the Fanny Bolton snare, now
that he had escaped out of it, but I'm not sure that he was not
ashamed of the very satisfaction which he experienced. It is pleasant,
perhaps, but it is humiliating to own that you love no more.
Meanwhile the kind smiles and tender watchfulness of the mother at his
bed-side, filled the young man with peace and security. To see that
health was returning, was all the unwearied nurse demanded: to execute
any caprice or order of her patient's, her chiefest joy and reward. He
felt himself environed by her love, and thought himself almost as
grateful for it as he had been when weak and helpless in childhood.
Some misty notions regarding the first part of his illness, and that
Fanny had nursed him, Pen may have had, but they were so dim that he
could not realize them with accuracy, or distinguish them from what he
knew to be delusions which had occurred and were remembered during the
delirium of his fever. So as he had not thought proper on former
occasions to make any allusions about Fanny Bolton to his mother, of
course he could not now confide to her his sentiments regarding Fanny,
or make this worthy lady a confidante. It was on both sides an unlucky
precaution and want of confidence; and a word or two in time might
have spared the good lady and those connected with her, a deal of pain
Seeing Miss Bolton installed as nurse and tender to Pen, I am sorry to
say Mrs. Pendennis had put the worst construction on the fact of the
intimacy of these two unlucky young persons, and had settled in her
own mind that the accusations against Arthur were true. Why not have
stopped to inquire?--There are stories to a man's disadvantage that
the women who are fondest of him are always the most eager to believe.
Isn't a man's wife often the first to be jealous of him? Poor Pen got
a good stock of this suspicious kind of love from the nurse who was
now watching over him; and the kind and pure creature thought that her
boy had gone through a malady much more awful and debasing than the
mere physical fever, and was stained by crime as well as weakened by
illness. The consciousness of this she had to bear perforce silently,
and to try to put a mask of cheerfulness and confidence over her
inward doubt and despair and horror.
When Captain Shandon, at Boulogne, read the next number of the
"Pall-Mall Gazette," it was to remark to Mrs. Shandon that Jack
Finucane's hand was no longer visible in the leading articles, and
that Mr. Warrington must be at work there again. "I know the crack of
his whip in a hundred, and the cut which the fellow's thong leaves.
There's Jack Bludyer, goes to work like a butcher, and mangles a
subject. Mr. Warrington finishes a man, and lays his cuts neat and
regular, straight down the back, and drawing blood every line;" at
which dreadful metaphor, Mrs. Shandon said, "Law, Charles, how can you
talk so! I always thought Mr. Warrington very high, but a kind
gentleman; and I'm sure he was most kind to the children." Upon which
Shandon said, "Yes; he's kind to the children; but he's savage to the
men; and to be sure, my dear, you don't understand a word about what
I'm saying; and it's best you shouldn't; for it's little good comes
out of writing for newspapers; and it's better here, living easy at
Boulogne, where the wine's plenty, and the brandy costs but two francs
a bottle. Mix us another tumbler, Mary, my dear; we'll go back into
harness soon. 'Cras ingens iterabimus aequor'--bad luck to it."
In a word, Warrington went to work with all his might, in place of his
prostrate friend, and did Pen's portion of the "Pall-Mall Gazette"
"with a vengeance," as the saying is. He wrote occasional articles and
literary criticisms; he attended theatres and musical performances,
and discoursed about them with his usual savage energy. His hand was
too strong for such small subjects, and it pleased him to tell
Arthur's mother, and uncle, and Laura, that there was no hand in all
the band of penmen more graceful and light, more pleasant and more
elegant, than Arthur's. "The people in this country, ma'am, don't
understand what style is, or they would see the merits of our young
one," he said to Mrs. Pendennis. "I call him ours, ma'am, for I bred
him; and I am as proud of him as you are; and, bating a little
willfulness, and a little selfishness, and a little dandyfication, I
don't know a more honest, or loyal, or gentle creature. His pen is
wicked sometimes, but he is as kind as a young lady--as Miss Laura
here--and I believe he would not do any living mortal harm."
At this, Helen, though she heaved a deep, deep sigh, and Laura, though
she, too, was sadly wounded, nevertheless were most thankful for
Warrington's good opinion of Arthur, and loved him for being so
attached to their Pen. And Major Pendennis was loud in his praises of
Mr. Warrington--more loud and enthusiastic than it was the major's
wont to be. "He is a gentleman, my dear creature," he said to Helen,
"every inch a gentleman, my good madam--the Suffolk Warringtons
--Charles the First's baronets: what could he be but a gentleman,
come out of that family?--father--Sir Miles Warrington; ran
away with--beg your pardon, Miss Bell. Sir Miles was a very well-known
man in London, and a friend of the Prince of Wales. This gentleman
is a man of the greatest talents, the very highest accomplishments
--sure to get on, if he had a motive to put his energies to work."
Laura blushed for herself while the major was talking and praising
Arthur's hero. As she looked at Warrington's manly face and dark,
melancholy eyes, this young person had been speculating about him, and
had settled in her mind that he must have been the victim of an
unhappy attachment; and as she caught herself so speculating, why,
Miss Bell blushed.
Warrington got chambers hard by--Grenier's chambers in Flagcourt; and
having executed Pen's task with great energy in the morning, his
delight and pleasure of an afternoon was to come and sit with the sick
man's company in the sunny autumn evenings; and he had the honor more
than once of giving Miss Bell his arm for a walk in the Temple
Gardens; to take which pastime, when the frank Laura asked of Helen
permission, the major eagerly said, "Yes, yes, begad--of course you go
out with him--it's like the country, you know; everybody goes out with
every body in the gardens, and there are beadles, you know, and that
sort of thing--every body walks in the Temple Gardens." If the great
arbiter of morals did not object, why should simple Helen? She was
glad that her girl should have such fresh air as the river could give,
and to see her return with heightened color and spirits from these
Laura and Helen had come, you must know, to a little explanation. When
the news arrived of Pen's alarming illness, Laura insisted upon
accompanying the terrified mother to London, would not hear of the
refusal which the still angry Helen gave her, and, when refused a
second time yet more sternly, and when it seemed that the poor lost
lad's life was despaired of, and when it was known that his conduct
was such as to render all thoughts of union hopeless, Laura had, with
many tears told her mother a secret with which every observant person
who reads this story is acquainted already. Now she never could marry
him, was she to be denied the consolation of owning how fondly, how
truly, how entirely she had loved him? The mingling tears of the women
appeased the agony of their grief somewhat, and the sorrows and
terrors of their journey were at least in so far mitigated that they
shared them together.
What could Fanny expect when suddenly brought up for sentence before a
couple of such judges? Nothing but swift condemnation, awful
punishment, merciless dismissal! Women are cruel critics in cases such
as that in which poor Fanny was implicated; and we like them to be so:
for, besides the guard which a man places round his own harem, and the
defenses which a woman has in her heart, her faith, and honor, hasn't
she all her own friends of her own sex to keep watch that she does not
go astray, and to tear her to pieces if she is found erring? When our
Mahmouds or Selims of Baker-street or Belgrave-square visit their
Fatimas with condign punishment, their mothers sew up Fatima's sack
for her, and her sisters and sisters-in-law see her well under
water. And this present writer does not say nay. He protests most
solemnly he is a Turk, too. He wears a turban and a beard like
another, and is all for the sack practice, Bismillah! But O you
spotless, who have the right of capital punishment vested in you, at
least be very cautious that you make away with the proper (if so she
may be called) person. Be very sure of the fact before you order the
barge out: and don't pop your subject into the Bosphorus, until you
are quite certain that she deserves it. This is all I would urge in
Poor Fatima's behalf--absolutely all--not a word more, by the beard of
the Prophet. If she's guilty, down with her--heave over the sack, away
with it into the Golden Horn bubble and squeak, and justice being
done, give away, men, and let us pull back to supper.
So the major did not in any way object to Warrington's continued
promenades with Miss Laura, but, like a benevolent old gentleman,
encouraged in every way the intimacy of that couple. Were there any
exhibitions in town? he was for Warrington conducting her to them. If
Warrington had proposed to take her to Vauxhall itself, this most
complaisant of men would have seen no harm--nor would Helen, if
Pendennis the elder had so ruled it--nor would there have been any
harm between two persons whose honor was entirely spotless--between
Warrington, who saw in intimacy a pure, and high-minded, and artless
woman for the first time in his life--and Laura, who too for the first
time was thrown into the constant society of a gentleman of great
natural parts and powers of pleasing; who possessed varied
acquirements, enthusiasm, simplicity, humor, and that freshness of
mind which his simple life and habits gave him, and which contrasted
so much with Pen's dandy indifference of manner and faded sneer. In
Warrington's very uncouthness there was a refinement, which the
other's finery lacked. In his energy, his respect, his desire to
please, his hearty laughter, or simple confiding pathos, what a
difference to Sultan Pen's yawning sovereignty and languid acceptance
of homage! What had made Pen at home such a dandy and such a despot?
The women had spoiled him, as we like them and as they like to do.
They had cloyed him with obedience, and surfeited him with sweet
respect and submission, until he grew weary of the slaves who waited
upon him, and their caresses and cajoleries excited him no more.
Abroad, he was brisk and lively, and eager and impassioned
enough--most men are so constituted and so nurtured. Does this, like
the former sentence, run a chance of being misinterpreted, and does
any one dare to suppose that the writer would incite the women to
revolt? Never, by the whiskers of the Prophet, again he says. He wears
a beard, and he likes his women to be slaves. What man doesn't? What
man would be henpecked, I say?--We will cut off all the heads in
Christendom or Turkeydom rather than that.
Well, then, Arthur being so languid, and indifferent, and careless
about the favors bestowed upon him, how came it that Laura should have
such a love and rapturous regard for him, that a mere inadequate
expression of it should have kept the girl talking all the way from
Fairoaks to London, as she and Helen traveled in the post-chaise? As
soon as Helen had finished one story about the dear fellow, and
narrated, with a hundred sobs and ejaculations, and looks up to
heaven, some thrilling incidents which occurred about the period when
the hero was breeched, Laura began another equally interesting, and
equally ornamented with tears, and told how heroically he had a tooth
out or wouldn't have it out, or how daringly he robbed a bird's nest,
or how magnanimously he spared it; or how he gave a shilling to the
old woman on the common, or went without his bread and butter for the
beggar-boy who came into the yard--and so on. One to another the
sobbing women sang laments upon their hero, who, my worthy reader has
long since perceived, is no more a hero than either one of us. Being
as he was, why should a sensible girl be so fond of him?
This point has been argued before in a previous unfortunate sentence
(which lately drew down all the wrath of Ireland upon the writer's
head), and which said that the greatest rascal-cutthroats have had
somebody to be fond of them, and if those monsters, why not ordinary
mortals? And with whom shall a young lady fall in love but with the
person she sees? She is not supposed to lose her heart in a dream,
like a Princess in the Arabian Nights; or to plight her young
affections to the portrait of a gentleman in the Exhibition, or a
sketch in the Illustrated London News. You have an instinct within you
which inclines you to attach yourself to some one: you meet Somebody:
you hear Somebody constantly praised: you walk, or ride, or waltz, or
talk, or sit in the same pew at church with Somebody: you meet again,
and again, and--"Marriages are made in Heaven," your dear mamma says,
pinning your orange flowers wreath on, with her blessed eyes dimmed
with tears--and there is a wedding breakfast, and you take off your
white satin and retire to your coach and four, and you and he are a
happy pair. Or, the affair is broken off and then, poor dear wounded
heart! why then you meet Somebody Else and twine your young affections
round number two. It is your nature so to do. Do you suppose it is all
for the man's sake that you love, and not a bit for your own? Do you
suppose you would drink if you were not thirsty, or eat if you were
So then Laura liked Pen because she saw scarcely any body else at
Fairoaks except Doctor Portman and Captain Glanders, and because his
mother constantly praised her Arthur, and because he was
gentleman-like, tolerably good-looking and witty, and because, above
all, it was of her nature to like somebody. And having once received
this image into her heart, she there tenderly nursed it and clasped
it--she there, in his long absences and her constant solitudes,
silently brooded over it and fondled it--and when after this she came
to London, and had an opportunity of becoming rather intimate with Mr.
George Warrington, what on earth was to prevent her from thinking him
a most odd, original, agreeable, and pleasing person?
A long time afterward, when these days were over, and Fate in its
own way had disposed of the various persons now assembled in the dingy
building in Lamb-court, perhaps some of them looked back and thought
how happy the time was, and how pleasant had been their evening talks
and little walks and simple recreations round the sofa of Pen the
convalescent. The major had a favorable opinion of September in London
from that time forward, and declared at his clubs and in society that
the dead season in town was often pleasant, doosid pleasant, begad. He
used to go home to his lodgings in Bury-street of a night, wondering
that it was already so late, and that the evening had passed away so
quietly. He made his appearance at the Temple pretty constantly in the
afternoon, and tugged up the long, black staircase with quite a
benevolent activity and perseverance. And he made interest with the
chef at Bays's (that renowned cook, the superintendence of whose work
upon Gastronomy compelled the gifted author to stay in the
metropolis), to prepare little jellies, delicate clear soups, aspics,
and other trifles good for invalids, which Morgan the valet constantly
brought down to the little Lamb-court colony. And the permission to
drink a glass or two of pure sherry being accorded to Pen by Doctor
Goodenough, the major told with almost tears in his eyes how his noble
friend the Marquis of Steyne, passing through London on his way to the
Continent, had ordered any quantity of his precious, his priceless
Amontillado, that had been a present from King Ferdinand to the noble
marquis, to be placed at the disposal of Mr. Arthur Pendennis. The
widow and Laura tasted it with respect (though they didn't in the
least like the bitter flavor), but the invalid was greatly invigorated
by it, and Warrington pronounced it superlatively good, and proposed
the major's health in a mock speech after dinner on the first day when
the wine was served, and that of Lord Steyne and the aristocracy
Major Pendennis returned thanks with the utmost gravity and in a
speech in which he used the words "the present occasion," at least the
proper number of times. Pen cheered with his feeble voice from his
arm-chair. Warrington taught Miss Laura to cry "Hear! hear!" and
tapped the table with his knuckles. Pidgeon the attendant grinned, and
honest Doctor Goodenough found the party so merrily engaged, when he
came in to pay his faithful, gratuitous visit.
Warrington knew Sibwright, who lived below, and that gallant
gentleman, in reply to a letter informing him of the use to which his
apartments had been put, wrote back the most polite and flowery letter
of acquiescence. He placed his chambers at the service of their fair
occupants, his bed at their disposal, his carpets at their feet.
Everybody was kindly disposed toward the sick man and his family. His
heart (and his mother's too, as we may fancy) melted within him at the
thought of so much good feeling and good nature. Let Pen's biographer
be pardoned for alluding to a time, not far distant, when a somewhat
similar mishap brought him a providential friend, a kind physician,
and a thousand proofs of a most touching and surprising kindness and
sympathy There was a piano in Mr. Sibwright's chamber (indeed this
gentleman, a lover of all the arts, performed himself--and exceedingly
ill too--upon the instrument); and had had a song dedicated to him
(the words by himself, the air by his devoted friend Leopoldo
Twankidillo), and at this music-box, as Mr. Warrington called it,
Laura, at first with a great deal of tremor and blushing (which became
her very much), played and sang, sometimes of an evening, simple airs,
and old songs of home. Her voice was a rich contralto, and Warrington,
who scarcely knew one tune from another, and who had but one time or
bray in his _repertoire_--a most discordant imitation of God save the
King--sat rapt in delight listening to these songs. He could follow
their rhythm if not their harmony; and he could watch, with a constant
and daily growing enthusiasm, the pure, and tender, and generous
creature who made the music.
I wonder how that poor pale little girl in the black bonnet, who used
to stand at the lamp-post in Lamb-court sometimes of an evening
looking up to the open windows from which the music came, liked to
hear it? When Pen's bed-time came the songs were hushed. Lights
appeared in the upper room: _his_ room, whither the widow used to
conduct him; and then the major and Mr. Warrington, and sometimes Miss
Laura, would have a game at _écarté_ or backgammon; or she would sit
by working a pair of slippers in worsted--a pair of gentleman's
slippers--they might have been for Arthur, or for George, or for Major
Pendennis: one of those three would have given any thing for
While such business as this was going on within, a rather shabby old
gentleman would come and lead away the pale girl in the black bonnet;
who had no right to be abroad in the night air, and the Temple
porters, the few laundresses, and other amateurs who had been
listening to the concert, would also disappear.
Just before ten o'clock there was another musical performance, namely,
that of the chimes of St. Clement's clock in the Strand, which played
the clear, cheerful notes of a psalm, before it proceeded to ring its
ten fatal strokes. As they were ringing, Laura began to fold up the
slippers; Martha from Fairoaks appeared with a bed-candle, and a
constant smile on her face; the major said, "God bless my soul, is it
so late?" Warrington and he left their unfinished game, and got up and
shook hands with Miss Bell. Martha from Fairoaks lighted them out of
the passage and down the stair, and, as they descended, they could
hear, her bolting and locking "the sporting door" after them, upon her
young mistress and herself. If there had been any danger, grinning
Martha said she would have got down "that thar hooky soord which hung
up in gantleman's room,"--meaning the Damascus scimitar with the names
of the Prophet engraved on the blade and the red-velvet scabbard,
which Percy Sibwright, Esquire, brought back from his tour in the
Levant, along with an Albanian dress, and which he wore with such
elegant effect at Lady Mullinger's fancy ball, Gloucester-square, Hyde
Park. It entangled itself in Miss Kewsey's train, who appeared in the
dress in which she, with her mamma, had been presented to their
sovereign (the latter by the L--d Ch-nc-ll-r's lady), and led to
events which have nothing to do with this history. Is not Miss Kewsey
now Mrs. Sibwright? Has Sibwright not got a county court?--Good night,
Laura and Fairoaks Martha. Sleep well and wake happy, pure and
Sometimes after these evenings Warrington would walk a little way with
Major Pendennis--just a little way--just as far as the Temple gate--as
the Strand--as Charing Cross--as the Club--he was not going into the
Club? Well, as far as Bury-street where he would laughingly shake
hands on the major's own door-step. They had been talking about Laura
all the way. It was wonderful how enthusiastic the major, who, as we
know, used to dislike her, had grown to be regarding the young lady.
"Dev'lish fine girl, begad. Dev'lish well-mannered girl--my
sister-in-law has the manners of a duchess and would bring up any girl
well. Miss Bell's a _little_ countryfied. But the smell of the
hawthorn is pleasant, demmy. How she blushes! Your London girls would
give many a guinea for a bouquet like that--natural flowers, begad!
And she's a little money too--nothing to speak of--but a pooty little
bit of money." In all which opinions no doubt Mr. Warrington agreed;
and though he laughed as he shook hands with the major, his face fell
as he left his veteran companion; and he strode back to chambers, and
smoked pipe after pipe long into the night, and wrote article upon
article, more and more savage, in lieu of friend Pen disabled.
Well, it was a happy time for almost all parties concerned. Pen mended
daily. Sleeping and eating were his constant occupations. His appetite
was something frightful. He was ashamed of exhibiting it before Laura,
and almost before his mother, who laughed and applauded him. As the
roast chicken of his dinner went away he eyed the departing friend
with sad longing, and began to long for jelly, or tea, or what not. He
was like an ogre in devouring. The doctor cried stop, but Pen would
not. Nature called out to him more loudly than the doctor, and that
kind and friendly physician handed him over with a very good grace to
the other healer.
And here let us speak very tenderly and in the strictest confidence of
an event which befell him, and to which he never liked an allusion.
During his delirium the ruthless Goodenough ordered ice to be put to
his head, and all his lovely hair to be cut. It was done in the time
of--of the other nurse, who left every single hair of course in a
paper for the widow to count and treasure up. She never believed but
that the girl had taken away some of it, but then women are so
suspicious upon these matters.
When this direful loss was made visible to Major Pendennis, as of
course it was the first time the elder saw the poor young man's shorn
pate, and when Pen was quite out of danger, and gaining daily vigor,
the major, with something like blushes and a queer wink of his eyes,
said he knew of a--a person--a coiffeur, in fact--a good man, whom he
would send down to the Temple, and who would--a--apply--a--a
temporary remedy to that misfortune.
Laura looked at Warrington with the archest sparkle in her eyes--
Warrington fairly burst out into a boohoo of laughter: even the widow
was obliged to laugh: and the major erubescent confounded the
impudence of the young folks, and said when he had his hair cut he
would keep a lock of it for Miss Laura.
Warrington voted that Pen should wear a barrister's wig. There was
Sibwright's down below, which would become him hugely. Pen said
"Stuff," and seemed as confused as his uncle; and the end was that a
gentleman from Burlington Arcade waited next day upon Mr. Pendennis,
and had a private interview with him in his bedroom; and a week
afterward the same individual appeared with a box under his arm, and
an ineffable grin of politeness on his face, and announced that he had
brought 'ome Mr. Pendennis's 'ead of 'air.
It must have been a grand but melancholy sight to see Pen in the
recesses of his apartment, sadly contemplating his ravaged beauty, and
the artificial means of hiding its ruin. He appeared at length in the
'ead of 'air; but Warrington laughed so that Pen grew sulky, and went
back for his velvet cap, a neat turban which the fondest of mammas had
worked for him. Then Mr. Warrington and Miss Bell got some flowers off
the ladies' bonnets and made a wreath, with which they decorated the
wig and brought it out in procession, and did homage before it. In
fact they indulged in a hundred sports, jocularities, waggeries, and
_petits jeux innocens_: so that the second and third floors of
number 6, Lambcourt, Temple, rang with more cheerfulness and laughter
than had been known in those precincts for many a long day.
At last, after about ten days of this life, one evening when the
little spy of the court came out to take her usual post of observation
at the lamp, there was no music from the second floor window, there
were no lights in the third story chambers, the windows of each were
open, and the occupants were gone. Mrs. Flanagan the laundress, told
Fanny what had happened. The ladies and all the party had gone to
Richmond for change of air. The antique traveling chariot was brought
out again and cushioned with many pillows for Pen and his mother; and
Miss Laura went in the most affable manner in the omnibus under the
guardianship of Mr. George Warrington. He came back and took
possession of his old bed that night in the vacant and cheerless
chambers, and to his old books and his old pipes, but not perhaps to
his old sleep.
The widow had left a jar full of flowers upon his table, prettily
arranged, and when he entered they filled the solitary room with odor.
They were memorials of the kind, gentle souls who had gone away, and
who had decorated for a little while that lonely, cheerless place. He
had had the happiest days of his whole life, George felt--he knew it
now they were just gone: he went and took up the flowers and put his
face to them, smelt them--perhaps kissed them. As he put them down, he
rubbed his rough hand across his eyes with a bitter word and laugh. He
would have given his whole life and soul to win that prize which
Arthur rejected. Did she want fame? he would have won it for her:
devotion?--a great heart full of pent-up tenderness and manly love
and gentleness was there for her, if she might take it. But it might
not be. Fate had ruled otherwise. "Even if I could, she would not have
me," George thought. "What has an ugly, rough old fellow like me, to
make any woman like him? I'm getting old, and I've made no mark in
life. I've neither good looks, nor youth, nor money, nor reputation. A
man must be able to do something besides stare at her and offer on his
knees his uncouth devotion, to make a woman like him. What can I do?
Lots of young fellows have passed me in the race--what they call the
prizes of life didn't seem to me worth the trouble of the struggle.
But for _her_. If she had been mine and liked a diamond--ah!
shouldn't she have worn it! Psha, what a fool I am to brag of what I
would have done! We are the slaves of destiny. Our lots are shaped for
us, and mine is ordained long ago. Come, let us have a pipe, and put
the smell of these flowers out of court. Poor little silent flowers!
you'll be dead to-morrow. What business had you to show your red
cheeks in this dingy place?"
By his bed-side George found a new Bible which the widow had placed
there, with a note inside saying that she had not seen the book among
his collection in a room where she had spent a number of hours, and
where God had vouchsafed to her prayers the life of her son, and that
she gave to Arthur's friend the best thing she could, and besought
him to read in the volume sometimes, and to keep it as a token of a
grateful mother's regard and affection. Poor George mournfully kissed
the book as he had done the flowers; and the morning found him still
reading in its awful pages, in which so many stricken hearts, in which
so many tender and faithful souls, have found comfort under calamity
and refuge and hope in affliction.
FANNY'S OCCUPATION'S GONE.
Good Helen, ever since her son's illness, had taken, as we have seen,
entire possession of the young man, of his drawers and closets and all
which they contained: whether shirts that wanted buttons, or stockings
that required mending, or, must it be owned? letters that lay among
those articles of raiment, and which of course it was necessary that
somebody should answer during Arthur's weakened and incapable
condition. Perhaps Mrs. Pendennis was laudably desirous to have some
explanations about the dreadful Fanny Bolton mystery, regarding which
she had never breathed a word to her son, though it was present in her
mind always, and occasioned her inexpressible anxiety and disquiet.
She had caused the brass knocker to be screwed off the inner door of
the chambers, whereupon the postman's startling double rap would, as
she justly argued, disturb the rest of her patient, and she did not
allow him to see any letter which arrived, whether from boot-makers
who importuned him, or hatters who had a heavy account to make up
against next Saturday, and would be very much obliged if Mr. Arthur
Pendennis would have the kindness to settle, &c. Of these documents,
Pen, who was always free-handed and careless, of course had his share,
and though no great one, one quite enough to alarm his scrupulous and
conscientious mother. She had some savings; Pen's magnificent
self-denial, and her own economy amounting from her great simplicity
and avoidance of show to parsimony almost, had enabled her to put by
a little sum of money, a part of which she delightedly consecrated to
the paying off the young gentleman's obligations. At this price, many
a worthy youth and respected reader would hand over his correspondence
to his parents; and, perhaps, there is no greater test of a man's
regularity and easiness of conscience, than his readiness to face the
postman. Blessed is he who is made happy by the sound of the rat-tat!
The good are eager for it: but the naughty tremble at the sound
thereof. So it was very kind of Mrs. Pendennis doubly to spare Pen the
trouble of hearing or answering letters during his illness.
There could have been nothing in the young man's chests of drawers and
wardrobes which could be considered as inculpating him in any way, nor
any satisfactory documents regarding the Fanny Bolton affair found
there, for the widow had to ask her brother-in-law if he knew any
thing about the odious transaction; and the dreadful intrigue about
which her son was engaged. When they were at Richmond one day, and Pen
with Warrington had taken a seat on a bench on the terrace, the widow
kept Major Pendennis in consultation, and laid her terrors and
perplexities before him, such of them at least (for as is the wont of
men and women, she did not make _quite_ a clean confession, and I
suppose no spendthrift asked for a schedule of his debts, no lady of
fashion asked by her husband for her dress-maker's bills ever sent in
the whole of them yet)--such, we say, of her perplexities, at least,
as she chose to confide to her director for the time being.
When, then, she asked the major what course she ought to pursue, about
this dreadful--this horrid affair, and whether he knew any thing
regarding it? the old gentleman puckered up his face, so that you
could not tell whether he was smiling or not; gave the widow one queer
look with his little eyes; cast them down to the carpet again, and
said, "My dear, good creature, I don't know any thing about it; and I
don't wish to know any thing about it; and, as you ask me my opinion,
I think you had best know nothing about it too. Young men will be
young men; and, begad, my good ma'am, if you think our boy is a Jo--"
"Pray, spare me this," Helen broke in, looking very stately.
"My dear creature, I did not commence the conversation, permit me to
say," the major said, bowing very blandly.
"I can't bear to hear such a sin--such a dreadful sin--spoken of in
such a way," the widow said, with tears of annoyance starting from her
eyes. "I can't bear to think that my boy should commit such a crime. I
wish he had died, almost, before he had done it. I don't know how I
survive it myself; for it is breaking my heart, Major Pendennis, to
think that his father's son--my child--whom I remember so good--oh,
so good, and full of honor!--should be fallen so dreadfully low, as
"As to flirt with a little grisette? my dear creature," said the
major. "Egad, if all the mothers in England were to break their hearts
because--Nay, nay; upon my word and honor, now, don't agitate
yourself--don't cry. I can't bear to see a woman's tears--I never
could--never. But how do we know that any thing serious has happened?
Has Arthur said any thing?"
"His silence confirms it," sobbed Mrs. Pendennis, behind her
"Not at all. There are subjects, my dear, about which a young fellow
can not surely talk to his mamma," insinuated the brother-in-law.
"She has written to him" cried the lady, behind the cambric.
"What, before he was ill? Nothing more likely."
"No, since;" the mourner with the batiste mask gasped out; "not
before; that is, I don't think so--that is, I--"
"Only since; and you have--yes, I understand. I suppose when he was
too ill to read his own correspondence, you took charge of it,
"I am the most unhappy mother in the world," cried out the unfortunate
"The most unhappy mother in the world, because your son is a man and
not a hermit! Have a care, my dear sister. If you have suppressed any
letters to him, you may have done yourself a great injury; and, if I
know any thing of Arthur's spirit, may cause a difference between him
and you, which you'll rue all your life--a difference that's a
dev'lish deal more important, my good madam, than the little--little
--trumpery cause which originated it."
"There was only one letter," broke out Helen--"only a very little
one--only a few words. Here it is--O--how can you, how can you
When the good soul said only "a very little one," the major could not
speak at all, so inclined was he to laugh, in spite of the agonies of
the poor soul before him, and for whom he had a hearty pity and liking
too. But each was looking at the matter with his or her peculiar eyes
and view of morals, and the major's morals, as the reader knows, were
not those of an ascetic.
"I recommend you," he gravely continued, "if you can, to seal it up
--those letters ain't unfrequently sealed with wafers--and to put it
among Pen's other letters, and let him have them when he calls for
them. Or if we can't seal it, we mistook it for a bill."
"I can't tell my son a lie," said the widow. It had been put silently
into the letter-box two days previous to their departure from the
Temple, and had been brought to Mrs. Pendennis by Martha. She had
never seen Fanny's handwriting of course; but when the letter was put
into her hands, she knew the author at once. She had been on the watch
for that letter every day since Pen had been ill. She had opened some
of his other letters because she wanted to get at that one. She had
the horrid paper poisoning her bag at that moment. She took it out and
offered it to her brother-in-law.
"_Arthur Pendennis, Esq._," he read in a timid little sprawling
handwriting, and with a sneer on his face. "No, my dear, I won't
read any more. But you, who have read it, may tell me what the letter
contains--only prayers for his health in bad spelling, you
say--and a desire to see him? Well--there's no harm in that. And as
you ask me"--here the major began to look a little queer for his own
part, and put on his demure look--"as you ask me, my dear, for
information, why, I don't mind telling you that--ah--that--Morgan, my
man, has made some inquiries regarding this affair, and that--my
friend Doctor Goodenough also looked into it--and it appears that this
person was greatly smitten with Arthur; that he paid for her and took
her to Vauxhall Gardens, as Morgan heard from an old acquaintance of
Pen's and ours, an Irish gentleman, who was very nearly once having
the honor of being the--from an Irishman, in fact;--that the girl's
father, a violent man of intoxicated habits, has beaten her mother,
who persists in declaring her daughter's entire innocence to her
husband on the one hand, while on the other she told Goodenough that
Arthur had acted like a brute to her child. And so you see the story
remains in a mystery. Will you have it cleared up? I have but to ask
Pen, and he will tell me at once--he is as honorable a man as
"Honorable!" said the widow, with bitter scorn. "O, brother, what is
this you call honor? If my boy has been guilty, he must marry her. I
would go down on my knees and pray him to do so."
"Good God! are you mad?" screamed out the major; and remembering
former passages in Arthur's history and Helen's, the truth came across
his mind that, were Helen to make this prayer to her son, he _would_
marry the girl: he was wild enough and obstinate enough to commit any
folly when a woman he loved was in the case. "My dear sister, have you
lost your senses?" he continued (after an agitated pause, during which
the above dreary reflection crossed him), and in a softened tone.
"What right have we to suppose that any thing has passed between this
girl and him? Let's see the letter. Her heart is breaking; pray, pray,
write to me--home unhappy--unkind father--your nurse--poor little
Fanny--spelt, as you say, in a manner to outrage all sense of decorum.
But, good heavens! my dear, what is there in this? only that the
little devil is making love to him still. Why she didn't come into his
chambers until he was so delirious that he didn't know her.
Whatd'youcallem, Flanagan, the laundress, told Morgan, my man, so. She
came in company of an old fellow, an old Mr. Bows, who came most
kindly down to Stillbrook and brought me away--by the way, I left him
in the cab, and never paid the fare; and dev'lish kind it was of him.
No, there's nothing in the story."
"Do you think so? Thank Heaven--thank God!" Helen cried. "I'll take
the letter to Arthur and ask him now. Look at him there. He's on the
terrace with Mr. Warrington. They are talking to some children. My boy
was always fond of children. He's innocent, thank God--thank God! Let
me go to him."
Old Pendennis had his own opinion. When he briskly took the not guilty
side of the case, but a moment before, very likely the old gentleman
had a different view from that which he chose to advocate, and judged
of Arthur by what he himself would have done. If she goes to Arthur,
and he speaks the truth, as the rascal will, it spoils all, he
thought. And he tried one more effort.
"My dear, good soul," he said, taking Helen's hand and kissing it, "as
your son has not acquainted you with this affair, think if you have
any right to examine it. As you believe him to be a man of honor, what
right have you to doubt his honor in this instance? Who is his
accuser? An anonymous scoundrel who has brought no specific charge
against him. If there were any such, wouldn't the girl's parents have
come forward? He is not called upon to rebut, nor you to entertain an
anonymous accusation; and as for believing him guilty because a girl
of that rank happened to be in his rooms acting as nurse to him, begad
you might as well insist upon his marrying that dem'd old Irish
gin-drinking laundress, Mrs. Flanagan."
The widow burst out laughing through her tears--the victory was gained
by the old general.
"Marry Mrs. Flanagan, by Ged," he continued, tapping her slender hand.
"No. The boy has told you nothing about it, and you know nothing about
it. The boy is innocent--of course. And what, my good soul, is the
course for us to pursoo? Suppose he is attached to this girl--don't
look sad again, it's merely a supposition--and begad a young fellow
may have an attachment, mayn't he?--Directly he gets well he will be
at her again."
"He must come home! We must go directly to Fairoaks," the widow cried
"My good creature, he'll bore himself to death at Fairoaks. He'll have
nothing to do but to think about his passion there. There's no place
in the world for making a little passion into a big one, and where a
fellow feeds on his own thoughts, like a dem'd lonely country-house
where there's nothing to do. We must occupy him: amuse him: we must
take him abroad: he's never been abroad except to Paris for a lark. We
must travel a little. He must have a nurse with him, to take great
care of him, for Goodenough says he had a dev'lish narrow squeak of it
(don't look frightened), and so you must come and watch: and I suppose
you'll take Miss Bell, and I should like to ask Warrington to come.
Arthur's dev'lish fond of Warrington. He can't do without Warrington.
Warrington's family is one of the oldest in England, and he is one of
the best young fellows I ever met in my life. I like him exceedingly."
"Does Mr. Warrington know any thing about this--this affair?" asked
Helen. "He had been away, I know, for two months before it happened:
Pen wrote me so."
"Not a word--I--I've asked him about it. I've pumped him. He never
heard of the transaction, never; I pledge you my word," cried out the
major, in some alarm. "And, my dear, I think you had much best not
talk to him about it--much best not--of course not: the subject is
most delicate and painful."
The simple widow took her brother's hand and pressed it. "Thank you,
brother," she said. "You have been very, very kind to me. You have
given me a great deal of comfort. I'll go to my room, and think of
what you have said. This illness and these--these--emotions--have
agitated me a great deal; and I'm not very strong, you know. But I'll
go and thank God that my boy is innocent. He _is_ innocent. Isn't
"Yes, my dearest creature, yes," said the old fellow, kissing her
affectionately, and quite overcome by her tenderness. He looked after
her as she retreated, with a fondness which was rendered more piquant,
as it were, by the mixture of a certain scorn which accompanied it.
"Innocent!" he said; "I'd swear, till I was black in the face, he was
innocent, rather than give that good soul pain."
Having achieved this victory, the fatigued and happy warrior laid
himself down on the sofa, and put his yellow silk pocket-handkerchief
over his face, and indulged in a snug little nap, of which the dreams,
no doubt, were very pleasant, as he snored with refreshing regularity.
The young men sate, meanwhile, dawdling away the sunshiny hours on the
terrace, very happy, and Pen, at least, very talkative. He was
narrating to Warrington a plan for a new novel, and a new tragedy.
Warrington laughed at the idea of his writing a tragedy? By Jove, he
would show that he could; and he began to spout some of the lines
of his play.
The little solo on the wind instrument which the major was performing
was interrupted by the entrance of Miss Bell. She had been on a visit
to her old friend, Lady Rockminster, who had taken a summer villa in
the neighborhood; and who, hearing of Arthur's illness, and his
mother's arrival at Richmond, had visited the latter; and, for the
benefit of the former, whom she didn't like, had been prodigal of
grapes, partridges, and other attentions. For Laura the old lady had a
great fondness, and longed that she should come and stay with her; but
Laura could not leave her mother at this juncture. Worn out by
constant watching over Arthur's health, Helen's own had suffered very
considerably; and Doctor Goodenough had had reason to prescribe for
her as well as for his younger patient.
Old Pendennis started up on the entrance of the young lady. His
slumbers were easily broken. He made her a gallant speech--he had been
full of gallantry toward her of late. Where had she been gathering
those roses which she wore on her cheeks? How happy he was to be
disturbed out of his dreams by such a charming reality! Laura had
plenty of humor and honesty; and these two caused her to have on her
side something very like a contempt for the old gentleman. It
delighted her to draw out his worldlinesses, and to make the old
habitue of clubs and drawing-rooms tell his twaddling tales about
great folks, and expound his views of morals.
Not in this instance, however, was she disposed to be satirical. She
had been to drive with Lady Rockminster in the Park, she said; and she
had brought home game for Pen, and flowers for mamma. She looked very
grave about mamma. She had just been with Mrs. Pendennis. Helen was
very much worn, and she feared she was very, very ill. Her large
eyes filled with tender marks of the sympathy which she felt in her
beloved friend's condition. She was alarmed about her. "Could not that
good--that dear Dr. Goodenough cure her?"
"Arthur's illness, and _other_ mental anxiety," the major slowly said,
"had, no doubt, shaken Helen." A burning blush upon the girl's face
showed that she understood the old man's allusions. But she looked him
full in the face and made no reply. "He might have spared me that,"
she thought. "What is he aiming at in recalling that shame to me?"
That he had an aim in view is very possible. The old diplomatist
seldom spoke without some such end. Dr. Goodenough had talked to him,
he said, about their dear friend's health, and she wanted rest and
change of scene--yes, change of scene. Painful circumstances which had
occurred must be forgotten and never alluded to; he begged pardon for
even hinting at them to Miss Bell--he never should do so again--nor,
he was sure, would she. Every thing must be done to soothe and comfort
their friend, and his proposal was that they should go abroad for the
autumn to a watering-place in the Rhine neighborhood, where Helen
might rally her exhausted spirits, and Arthur try and become a new
man. Of course, Laura would not forsake her mother?
Of course not. It was about Helen, and Helen only--that is, about
Arthur too for her sake that Laura was anxious. She would go abroad or
any where with Helen.
And Helen having thought the matter over for an hour in her room, had
by that time grown to be as anxious for the tour as any school-boy,
who has been reading a book of voyages, is eager to go to sea. Whither
should they go? the farther the better--to some place so remote that
even recollection could not follow them thither: so delightful that
Pen should never want to leave it--any where so that he could be
happy. She opened her desk with trembling fingers and took out her
banker's book, and counted up her little savings. If more was wanted,
she had the diamond cross. She would borrow from Laura again. "Let us
go--let us go," she thought; "directly he can bear the journey let us
go away. Come, kind Doctor Goodenough--come quick, and give us leave
to quit England."
The good doctor drove over to dine with them that very day. "If you
agitate yourself so," he said to her, "and if your heart beats so, and
if you persist in being so anxious about a young gentleman who is
getting well as fast as he can, we shall have you laid up, and Miss
Laura to watch you: and then it will be her turn to be ill, and I
should like to know how the deuce a doctor is to live who is obliged
to come and attend you all for nothing? Mrs. Goodenough is already
jealous of you, and says, with perfect justice, that I fall in love
with my patients. And you must please to get out of the country as
soon as ever you can, that I may have a little peace in my family."
When the plan of going abroad was proposed to Arthur, it was received
by that gentleman with the greatest alacrity and enthusiasm. He longed
to be off at once. He let his mustaches grow from that very moment, in
order, I suppose, that he might get his mouth into training for a
perfect French and German pronunciation; and he was seriously
disquieted in his mind because the mustaches, when they came, were of
a decidedly red color. He had looked forward to an autumn at Fairoaks;
and perhaps the idea of passing two or three months there did not
amuse the young man. "There is not a soul to speak to in the place,"
he said to Warrington. "I can't stand old Portman's sermons, and
pompous after-dinner conversation. I know all old Glanders's stories
about the Peninsular war. The Claverings are the only Christian people
in the neighborhood, and they are not to be at home before Christmas,
my uncle says: besides, Warrington, I want to get out of the country.
While you were away, confound it, I had a temptation, from which I am
very thankful to have escaped, and which I count that even my illness
came very luckily to put an end to." And here he narrated to his
friend the circumstances of the Vauxhall affair, with which the reader
is already acquainted.
Warrington looked very grave when he heard this story. Putting the
moral delinquency out of the question, he was extremely glad for
Arthur's sake that the latter had escaped from a danger which might
have made his whole life wretched; "which certainly," said Warrington,
"would have occasioned the wretchedness and ruin of the other party.
And your mother--and your friends--what a pain it would have been to
them!" urged Pen's companion, little knowing what grief and annoyance
these good people had already suffered.
"Not a word to my mother!" Pen cried out, in a state of great alarm,
"She would never get over it. An _esclandre_ of that sort would kill
her, I do believe. And," he added, with a knowing air, and as if, like
a young rascal of a Lovelace, he had been engaged in what are called
_affairs de coeur_, all his life; "the best way, when a danger of that
sort menaces, is not to face it, but to turn one's back on it
"And were you very much smitten?" Warrington asked.
"Hm!" said Lovelace. "She dropped her h's, but she was a dear little
O Clarissas of this life, O you poor little ignorant vain foolish
maidens! if you did but know the way in which the Lovelaces speak of
you: if you could but hear Jack talking to Tom across the coffee-room
of a Club; or see Ned taking your poor little letters out of his
cigar-case and handing them over to Charley, and Billy, and Harry
across the mess-room table, you would not be so eager to write, or so
ready to listen! There's a sort of crime which is not complete unless
the lucky rogue boasts of it afterward; and the man who betrays your
honor in the first place, is pretty sure, remember that, to betray
your secret too.
"It's hard to fight, and it's easy to fall," Warrington said gloomily.
"And as you say, Pendennis, when a danger like this is imminent, the
best way is to turn your back on it and run."
After this little discourse upon a subject about which Pen would have
talked a great deal more eloquently a month back, the conversation
reverted to the plans for going abroad, and Arthur eagerly pressed his
friend to be of the party. Warrington was a part of the family--a
part of the cure. Arthur said he should not have half the pleasure
But George said no, he couldn't go. He must stop at home and take
Pen's place. The other remarked that that was needless, for Shandon
was now come back to London, and Arthur was entitled to a holiday.
"Don't press me," Warrington said, "I can't go. I've particular
engagements. I'm best at home. I've not got the money to travel,
that's the long and short of it, for traveling costs money, you know."
This little obstacle seemed fatal to Pen. He mentioned it to his
mother: Mrs. Pendennis was very sorry; Mr. Warrington had been
exceedingly kind; but she supposed he knew best about his affairs. And
then, no doubt, she reproached herself, for selfishness in wishing to
carry the boy off and have him to herself altogether.
* * * * *
"What is this I hear from Pen, my dear Mr. Warrington?" the major
asked one day, when the pair were alone, and after Warrington's
objection had been stated to him. "Not go with us? We can't hear of
such a thing--Pen won't get well without you. I promise you, I'm not
going to be his nurse. He must have somebody with him that's stronger
and gayer and better able to amuse him than a rheumatic old fogy like
me. I shall go to Carlsbad very likely, when I've seen you people
settle down. Traveling costs nothing nowadays--or so little! And--and
pray, Warrington, remember that I was your father's very old friend,
and if you and your brother are not on such terms as to enable you
to--to anticipate you younger brother's allowance, I beg you to make
me your banker, for hasn't Pen been getting into your debt these three
weeks past, during which you have been doing what he informs me is his
work, with such exemplary talent and genius, begad?"
Still, in spite of this kind offer and unheard-of generosity on the
part of the major, George Warrington refused, and said he would stay
at home. But it was with a faltering voice and an irresolute accent
which showed how much he would like to go, though his tongue persisted
in saying nay.
But the major's persevering benevolence was not to be balked in this
way. At the tea-table that evening, Helen happening to be absent from
the room for the moment, looking for Pen who had gone to roost, old
Pendennis returned to the charge, and rated Warrington for refusing to
join in their excursion. "Isn't it ungallant, Miss Bell?" he said,
turning to that young lady. "Isn't it unfriendly? Here we have been
the happiest party in the world, and this odious, selfish creature
breaks it up!"
Miss Bell's long eye-lashes looked down toward her tea-cup: and
Warrington blushed hugely but did not speak. Neither did Miss Bell
speak: but when he blushed she blushed too.
"_You_ ask him to come, my dear," said the benevolent old gentleman,
"and then perhaps he will listen to you--" "Why should Mr.
Warrington listen to me?" asked the young lady, putting her query to
her tea-spoon, seemingly, and not to the major.
"Ask him; you have not asked him," said Pen's artless uncle.
"I should be very glad, indeed, if Mr. Warrington would come,"
remarked Laura to the tea-spoon.
"Would you?" said George.
She looked up and said, "Yes." Their eyes met. "I will go any where
you ask me, or do any thing," said George, lowly, and forcing out the
words as if they gave him pain.
Old Pendennis was delighted; the affectionate old creature clapped his
hands and cried "Bravo! bravo! It's a bargain--a bargain, begad! Shake
hands on it, young people!" And Laura, with a look full of tender
brightness, put out her hand to Warrington. He took hers: his face
indicated a strange agitation. He seemed to be about to speak, when,
from Pen's neighboring room Helen entered, looking at them as the
candle which she held lighted her pale, frightened face.
Laura blushed more red than ever and withdrew her hand.
"What is it?" Helen asked.
"It's a bargain we have been making, my dear creature," said the major
in his most caressing voice. "We have just bound over Mr. Warrington
in a promise to come abroad with us."
"Indeed!" Helen said.
IN WHICH FANNY ENGAGES A NEW MEDICAL MAN.
Could Helen have suspected that, with Pen's returning strength, his
unhappy partiality for little Fanny would also reawaken? Though she
never spoke a word regarding that young person, after her conversation
with the major, and though, to all appearance, she utterly ignored
Fanny's existence, yet Mrs. Pendennis kept a particularly close watch
upon all Master Arthur's actions; on the plea of ill-health, would
scarcely let him out of her sight; and was especially anxious that he
should be spared the trouble of all correspondence for the present at
least. Very likely Arthur looked at his own letters with some tremor;
very likely, as he received them at the family table, feeling his
mother's watch upon him (though the good soul's eye seemed fixed upon
her tea-cup or her book), he expected daily to see a little
handwriting, which he would have known, though he had never seen it
yet, and his heart beat as he received the letters to his address. Was
he more pleased or annoyed, that, day after day, his expectations were
not realized; and was his mind relieved, that there came no letter
from Fanny? Though, no doubt, in these matters, when Lovelace is tired
of Clarissa (or the contrary), it is best for both parties to break at
once, and each, after the failure of the attempt at union, to go his
own way, and pursue his course through life solitary; yet our
self-love, or our pity, or our sense of decency, does not like that
sudden bankruptcy. Before we announce to the world that our firm of
Lovelace and Co. can't meet its engagements, we try to make
compromises: we have mournful meetings of partners: we delay the
putting up of the shutters, and the dreary announcement of the
failure. It must come: but we pawn our jewels to keep things going a
little longer. On the whole, I dare say, Pen was rather annoyed that
he had no remonstrances from Fanny. What! could she part from him, and
never so much as once look round? could she sink, and never once hold
a little hand out, or cry, "Help, Arthur?" Well, well: they don't all
go down who venture on that voyage. Some few drown when the vessel
founders; but most are only ducked, and scramble to shore. And the
reader's experience of A. Pendennis, Esquire, of the Upper Temple,
will enable him to state whether that gentleman belonged to the class
of persons who were likely to sink or to swim.
Though Pen was as yet too weak to walk half a mile; and might not, on
account of his precious health, be trusted to take a drive in a
carriage by himself, and without a nurse in attendance; yet Helen
could not keep watch over Mr. Warrington too, and had no authority to
prevent that gentleman from going to London if business called him
thither. Indeed, if he had gone and staid, perhaps the widow, from
reasons of her own, would have been glad; but she checked these
selfish wishes as soon as she ascertained or owned them; and,
remembering Warrington's great regard and services, and constant
friendship for her boy, received him as a member of her family almost,
with her usual melancholy kindness and submissive acquiescence. Yet
somehow, one morning when his affairs called him to town, she divined
what Warrington's errand was, and that he was gone to London, to get
news about Fanny for Pen.
Indeed, Arthur had had some talk with his friend, and told him more at
large what his adventures had been with Fanny (adventures which the
reader knows already), and what were his feelings respecting her. He
was very thankful that he had escaped the great danger, to which
Warrington said Amen heartily: that he had no great fault wherewith to
reproach himself in regard of his behavior to her, but that if they
parted, as they must, he would be glad to say a God bless her, and to
hope that she would remember him kindly. In his discourse with
Warrington he spoke upon these matters with so much gravity, and so
much emotion, that George, who had pronounced himself most strongly
for the separation too, began to fear that his friend was not so well
cured as he boasted of being; and that, if the two were to come
together again, all the danger and the temptation might have to be
fought once more. And with what result? "It is hard to struggle,
Arthur, and it is easy to fall," Warrington said: "and the best
courage for us poor wretches is to fly from danger. I would not have
been what I am now, had I practiced what I preach."
"And what did you practice, George?" Pen asked, eagerly. "I knew there
was something. Tell us about it, Warrington."
"There was something that can't be mended, and that shattered my whole
fortunes early," Warrington answered, "I said I would tell you about
it some day, Pen: and will, but not now. Take the moral without the
fable now, Pen, my boy; and if you want to see a man whose whole life
has been wrecked, by an unlucky rock against which he struck as a
boy--here he is, Arthur: and so I warn you."
We have shown how Mr. Huxter, in writing home to his Clavering
friends, mentioned that there was a fashionable club in London of
which he was an attendant, and that he was there in the habit of
meeting an Irish officer of distinction, who, among other news, had
given that intelligence regarding Pendennis, which the young surgeon
had transmitted to Clavering. This club was no other than the Back
Kitchen, where the disciple of Saint Bartholomew was accustomed to
meet the general, the peculiarities of whose brogue, appearance,
disposition, and general conversation, greatly diverted many young
gentlemen who used the Back Kitchen as a place of nightly
entertainment and refreshment. Huxter, who had a fine natural genius
for mimicking every thing, whether it was a favorite tragic or comic
actor, a cock on a dunghill, a corkscrew going into a bottle and a
cork issuing thence, or an Irish officer of genteel connections who
offered himself as an object of imitation with only too much
readiness, talked his talk, and twanged his poor old long bow whenever
drink, a hearer, and an opportunity occurred, studied our friend the
general with peculiar gusto, and drew the honest fellow out many a
night. A bait, consisting of sixpenny-worth of brandy and water, the
worthy old man was sure to swallow: and under the influence of this
liquor, who was more happy than he to tell his stories of his
daughter's triumphs and his own, in love, war, drink, and polite
society? Thus Huxter was enabled to present to his friends many
pictures of Costigan: of Costigan fighting a jewel in the Phaynix--of
Costigan and his interview with the Juke of York--of Costigan at his
sonunlaw's teeble, surrounded by the nobilitee of his countree--of
Costigan, when crying drunk, at which time he was in the habit of
confidentially lamenting his daughter's ingratichewd, and stating that
his gray hairs were hastening to a praymachure greeve, And thus our
friend was the means of bringing a number of young fellows to the Back
Kitchen, who consumed the landlord's liquors while they relished the
general's peculiarities, so that mine host pardoned many of the
latter's foibles, in consideration of the good which they brought to
his house. Not the highest position in life was this certainly, or one
which, if we had a reverence for an old man, we would be anxious that
he should occupy: but of this aged buffoon it may be mentioned that he
had no particular idea that his condition of life was not a high one,
and that in his whiskied blood there was not a black drop, nor in his
muddled brains a bitter feeling, against any mortal being. Even his
child, his cruel Emily, he would have taken to his heart and forgiven
with tears; and what more can one say of the Christian charity of a
man than that he is actually ready to forgive those who have done him
every kindness, and with whom he is wrong in a dispute?
There was some idea among the young men who frequented, the Back
Kitchen, and made themselves merry with the society of Captain
Costigan, that the captain made a mystery regarding his lodgings for
fear of duns, or from a desire of privacy, and lived in some wonderful
place. Nor would the landlord of the premises, when questioned upon
this subject, answer any inquiries; his maxim being that he only knew
gentlemen who frequented that room, _in_ that room; that when they
quitted that room, having paid their scores as gentlemen, and behaved
as gentlemen, his communication with them ceased; and that, as a
gentleman himself, he thought it was only impertinent curiosity to ask
where any other gentleman lived. Costigan, in his most intoxicated and
confidential moments, also evaded any replies to questions or hints
addressed to him on this subject: there was no particular secret about
it, as we have seen, who have had more than once the honor of entering
his apartments, but in the vicissitudes of a long life he had been
pretty often in the habit of residing in houses where privacy was
necessary to his comfort, and where the appearance of some visitors
would have brought him any thing but pleasure. Hence all sorts of
legends were formed by wags or credulous persons respecting his place
of abode. It was stated that he slept habitually in a watch-box in the
city; in a cab at a mews, where a cab proprietor gave him a shelter;
in the Duke of York's Column, &c., the wildest of these theories being
put abroad by the facetious and imaginative Huxter. For Huxey, when
not silenced by the company of "swells," and when in the society of
his own friends, was a very different fellow to the youth whom we have
seen cowed by Pen's impertinent airs; and, adored by his family at
home, was the life and soul of the circle whom he met, either round
the festive board or the dissecting table.
On one brilliant September morning, as Huxter was regaling himself
with a cup of coffee at a stall in Covent Garden, having spent a
delicious night dancing at Vauxhall, he spied the general reeling down
Henrietta-street, with a crowd of hooting, blackguard boys at his
heels, who had left their beds under the arches of the river betimes,
and were prowling about already for breakfast, and the strange
livelihood of the day. The poor old general was not in that condition
when the sneers and jokes of these young beggars had much effect upon
him: the cabmen and watermen at the cab-stand knew him, and passed
their comments upon him: the policemen gazed after him, and warned the
boys off him, with looks of scorn and pity; what did the scorn and
pity of men, the jokes of ribald children, matter to the general? He
reeled along the street with glazed eyes, having just sense enough to
know whither he was bound, and to pursue his accustomed beat homeward.
He went to bed not knowing how he had reached it, as often as any man
in London. He woke and found himself there, and asked no questions,
and he was tacking about on this daily though perilous voyage, when,
from his station at the coffee-stall, Huxter spied him. To note his
friend, to pay his twopence (indeed, he had but eightpence left, or he
would have had a cab from Vauxhall to take him home), was with the
eager Huxter the work of an instant--Costigan dived down the alleys by
Drury-lane Theater, where gin-shops, oyster-shops, and theatrical
wardrobes abound, the proprietors of which were now asleep behind
the shutters, as the pink morning lighted up their chimneys; and
through these courts Huxter followed the general, until he reached
Oldcastle-street, in which is the gate of Shepherd's Inn.
Here, just as he was within sight of home, a luckless slice of
orange-peel came between the general's heel and the pavement, and
caused the poor fellow to fall backward.
Huxter ran up to him instantly, and after a pause, during which the
veteran, giddy with his fall and his previous whisky, gathered as he
best might, his dizzy brains together, the young surgeon lifted up the
limping general, and very kindly and good-naturedly offered to conduct
him to his home. For some time, and in reply to the queries which the
student of medicine put to him, the muzzy general refused to say where
his lodgings were, and declared that they were hard by, and that he
could reach them without difficulty; and he disengaged himself from
Huxter's arm, and made a rush, as if to get to his own home
unattended: but he reeled and lurched so, that the young surgeon
insisted upon accompanying him, and, with many soothing expressions
and cheering and consolatory phrases, succeeded in getting the
general's dirty old hand under what he called his own fin, and led the
old fellow, moaning piteously, across the street. He stopped when he
came to the ancient gate, ornamented with the armorial bearings of
the venerable Shepherd. "Here 'tis," said he, drawing up at the
portal, and he made a successful pull at the gatebell, which presently
brought out old Mr. Bolton, the porter, scowling fiercely, and
grumbling as he was used to do every morning when it became his turn
to let in that early bird.
Costigan tried to hold Bolton for a moment in genteel conversation,
but the other surlily would not. "Don't bother me," he said; "go to
your hown bed, capting, and don't keep honest men out of theirs." So
the captain tacked across the square and reached his own staircase, up
which he stumbled with the worthy Huxter at his heels. Costigan had a
key of his own, which Huxter inserted into the keyhole for him, so
that there was no need to call up little Mr. Bows from the sleep into
which the old musician had not long since fallen, and Huxter having
aided to disrobe his tipsy patient, and ascertained that no bones were
broken, helped him to bed, and applied compresses and water to one of
his knees and shins, which, with the pair of trowsers which encased
them, Costigan had severely torn in his fall. At the general's age,
and with his habit of body, such wounds as he had inflicted on himself
are slow to heal: a good deal of inflammation ensued, and the old
fellow lay ill for some days suffering both pain and fever.
Mr. Huxter undertook the case of his interesting patient with great
confidence and alacrity, and conducted it with becoming skill. He
visited his friend day after day, and consoled him with lively rattle
and conversation, for the absence of the society which Costigan
needed, and of which he was an ornament; and he gave special
instructions to the invalid's nurse about the quantity of whisky which
the patient was to take--instructions which, as the poor old fellow
could not for many days get out of his bed or sofa himself, he could
not by any means infringe. Bows, Mrs. Bolton, and our little friend
Fanny, when able to do so, officiated at the general's bedside, and
the old warrior was made as comfortable as possible under
Thus Huxter, whose affable manners and social turn made him quickly
intimate with persons in whose society he fell, and whose
over-refinement did not lead them to repulse the familiarities of this
young gentleman, became pretty soon intimate in Shepherd's Inn, both
with our acquaintances in the garrets and those in the Porter's Lodge.
He thought he had seen Fanny somewhere: he felt certain that he had:
but it is no wonder that he should not accurately remember her, for
the poor little thing never chose to tell him where she had met him:
he himself had seen her at a period, when his own views both of
persons and of right and wrong were clouded by the excitement of
drinking and dancing, and also little Fanny was very much changed and
worn by the fever and agitation, and passion and despair, which the
past three weeks had poured upon the head of that little victim. Borne
down was the head now, and very pale and wan the face; and many and
many a time the sad eyes had looked into the postman's, as he came to
the Inn, and the sickened heart had sunk as he passed away. When Mr.
Costigan's accident occurred, Fanny was rather glad to have an
opportunity of being useful and doing something kind--something that
would make her forget her own little sorrows perhaps: she felt she
bore them better while she did her duty, though I dare say many a tear
dropped into the old Irishman's gruel. Ah, me! stir the gruel well,
and have courage, little Fanny! If every body who has suffered from
your complaint were to die of it straightway, what a fine year the
undertakers would have!
Whether from compassion for his only patient, or delight in his
society, Mr. Huxter found now occasion to visit Costigan two or three
times in the day at least, and if any of the members of the Porter's
Lodge family were not in attendance on the general, the young doctor
was sure to have some particular directions to address to those at
their own place of habitation. He was a kind fellow; he made or
purchased toys for the children; he brought them apples and brandy
balls; he brought a mask and frightened them with it, and caused a
smile upon the face of pale Fanny. He called Mrs. Bolton Mrs. B., and
was very intimate, familiar, and facetious with that lady, quite
different from that "aughty artless beast," as Mrs. Bolton now
denominated a certain young gentleman of our acquaintance, and whom
she now vowed she never could abear.
It was from this lady, who was very free in her conversation, that
Huxter presently learned what was the illness which was evidently
preying upon little Fan, and what had been Pen's behavior regarding
her. Mrs. Bolton's account of the transaction was not, it may be
imagined, entirely an impartial narrative. One would have thought from
her story that the young gentleman had employed a course of the most
persevering and flagitious artifices to win the girl's heart, had
broken the most solemn promises made to her, and was a wretch to be
hated and chastised by every champion of woman. Huxter, in his present
frame of mind respecting Arthur, and suffering under the latter's
contumely, was ready, of course, to take all for granted that was said
in the disfavor of this unfortunate convalescent. But why did he not
write home to Clavering, as he had done previously, giving an account
of Pen's misconduct, and of the particulars regarding it, which had
now come to his knowledge? He once, in a letter to his brother-in-law,
announced that that _nice young man_, Mr. Pendennis, had escaped
narrowly from a fever, and that no doubt all Clavering, _where he was
so popular_, would be pleased at his recovery; and he mentioned that
he had an interesting case of compound fracture, an officer of
distinction, which kept him in town; but as for Fanny Bolton, he made
no more mention of her in his letters--no more than Pen himself had
made mention of her. O you mothers at home, how much do you think you
know about your lads? How much do you think you know?
But with Bows, there was no reason why Huxter should not speak his
mind, and so, a very short time after his conversation with Mrs.
Bolton. Mr. Sam talked to the musician about his early acquaintance
with Pendennis; described him as a confounded conceited blackguard,
and expressed a determination to punch, his impudent head as soon as
ever he should be well enough to stand up like a man.
Then it was that Bows on his part spoke, and told _his_ version of the
story, whereof Arthur and little Fan were the hero and heroine; how
they had met by no contrivance of the former, but by a blunder of the
old Irishman, now in bed with a broken shin--how Pen had acted with
manliness and self-control in the business--how Mrs. Bolton was an
idiot; and he related the conversation which he, Bows, had had with
Pen, and the sentiments uttered by the young man. Perhaps Bows's story
caused some twinges of conscience in the breast of Pen's accuser, and
that gentleman frankly owned that he had been wrong with regard to
Arthur, and withdrew his project for punching Mr. Pendennis's head.
But the cessation of his hostility for Pen did not diminish Huxter's
attentions to Fanny, which unlucky Mr. Bows marked with his usual
jealousy and bitterness of spirit. "I have but to like any body," the
old fellow thought, "and somebody is sure to come and be preferred to
me. It has been the same ill-luck with me since I was a lad, until now
that I am sixty years old. What can such a man as I am expect better
than to be laughed at? It is for the young to succeed, and to be
happy, and not for old fools like me. I've played a second fiddle all
through life," he said, with a bitter laugh; "how can I suppose the
luck is to change after it has gone against me so long?" This was the
selfish way in which Bows looked at the state of affairs: though few
persons would have thought there was any cause for his jealousy, who
looked at the pale and grief-stricken countenance of the hapless
little girl, its object. Fanny received Huxter's good-natured efforts
at consolation and kind attentions kindly. She laughed now and again
at his jokes and games with her little sisters, but relapsed quickly
into a dejection which ought to have satisfied Mr. Bows that the
new-comer had no place in her heart as yet, had jealous Mr. Bows been
enabled to see with clear eyes.
But Bows did not. Fanny attributed Pen's silence somehow to Bows's
interference. Fanny hated him. Fanny treated Bows with constant
cruelty and injustice. She turned from him when he spoke--she loathed
his attempts at consolation. A hard life had Mr. Bows, and a cruel
return for his regard.
* * * * *
When Warrington came to Shepherd's Inn as Pen's embassador, it was for
Mr. Bows's apartments he inquired (no doubt upon a previous agreement
with the principal for whom he acted in this delicate negotiation),
and he did not so much as catch a glimpse of Miss Fanny when he
stopped at the inn-gate and made his inquiry. Warrington was, of
course, directed to the musician's chambers, and found him tending the
patient there, from whose chamber he came out to wait upon his guest.
We have said that they had been previously known to one another, and
the pair shook hands with sufficient cordiality. After a little
preliminary talk, Warrington said that he had come from his friend
Arthur Pendennis, and from his family, to thank Bows for his attention
at the commencement of Pen's illness, and for his kindness in
hastening into the country to fetch the major.
Bows replied that it was but his duty: he had never thought to have
seen the young gentleman alive again when he went in search of Pen's
relatives, and he was very glad of Mr. Pendennis's recovery, and that
he had his friends with him. "Lucky are they who have friends, Mr.
Warrington," said the musician. "I might be up in this garret and
nobody would care for me, or mind whether I was alive or dead."
"What! not the general, Mr. Bows?" Warrington asked.
"The general likes his whisky-bottle more than any thing in life," the
other answered; "we live together from habit and convenience; and he
cares for me no more than you do. What is it you want to ask me, Mr.
Warrington? You ain't come to visit _me_, I know very well. Nobody
comes to visit me. It is about Fanny, the porter's daughter, you are
come--I see that very well. Is Mr. Pendennis, now he has got well,
anxious to see her again? Does his lordship the Sultan propose to
throw his 'andkerchief to her? She has been very ill, sir, ever since
the day when Mrs. Pendennis turned her out of doors--kind of a lady,
wasn't it? The poor girl and myself found the young gentleman raving
in a fever, knowing nobody, with nobody to tend him but his drunken
laundress--she watched day and night by him. I set off to fetch his
uncle. Mamma comes and turns Fanny to the right about. Uncle comes and
leaves me to pay the cab. Carry my compliments to the ladies and
gentleman, and say we are both very thankful, very. Why, a countess
couldn't have behaved better, and for an apothecary's lady, as I'm
given to understand Mrs. Pendennis was--I'm sure her behavior is most
uncommon aristocratic and genteel. She ought to have a double gilt
pestle and mortar to her coach."
It was from Mr. Huxter that Bows had learned Pen's parentage, no
doubt, and if he took Pen's part against the young surgeon, and
Fanny's against Mr. Pendennis, it was because the old gentleman was in
so savage a mood, that his humor was to contradict every body.
Warrington was curious, and not ill pleased at the musician's taunts
and irascibility. "I never heard of these transactions," he said, "or
got but a very imperfect account of them from Major Pendennis. What
was a lady to do? I think (I have never spoken with her on the
subject) she had some notion that the young woman and my friend Pen
were on--on terms of--of an intimacy which Mrs. Pendennis could not,
of course, recognize--"
"Oh, of course not, sir. Speak out, sir; say what you mean at once,
that the young gentleman of the Temple had made a victim of the girl
of Shepherd's Inn, eh? And so she was to be turned out of doors--or
brayed alive in the double gilt pestle and mortar, by Jove! No, Mr.
Warrington, there was no such thing: there was no victimizing, or if
there was, Mr. Arthur was the victim, not the girl. He is an honest
fellow, he is, though he is conceited, and a puppy sometimes. He can
feel like a man, and run away from temptation like a man. I own it,
though I suffer by it, I own it. He has a heart, he has: but the girl
hasn't sir. That girl will do any thing to win a man, and fling him
away without a pang, sir. If she flung away herself, sir, she'll feel
it and cry. She had a fever when Mrs. Pendennis turned her out of
doors; and she made love to the doctor, Doctor Goodenough, who came to
cure her. Now she has taken on with another chap--another sawbones ha,
ha! d----it, sir, she likes the pestle and mortar, and hangs round the
pill boxes, she's so fond of 'em, and she has got a fellow from Saint
Bartholomew's, who grins through a horse collar for her sisters, and
charms away her melancholy. Go and see, sir: very likely he's in the
lodge now. If you want news about Miss Fanny, you must ask at the
doctor's shop, sir, not of an old fiddler like me--Good-by, sir.
There's my patient calling."
And a voice was heard from the captain's bedroom, a well-known voice,
which said, "I'd loike a dthrop of dthrink, Bows, I'm thirstee." And
not sorry, perhaps, to hear that such was the state of things, and
that Pen's forsaken was consoling herself, Warrington took his leave
of the irascible musician.
As luck would have it, he passed the lodge door just as Mr. Huxter was
in the act of frightening the children with the mask whereof we have
spoken, and Fanny was smiling languidly at his farces. Warrington
laughed bitterly. "Are all women like that?" he thought. "I think
there's one that's not," he added, with a sigh.
At Piccadilly, waiting for the Richmond omnibus, George fell in with
Major Pendennis, bound in the same direction, and he told the old
gentleman of what he had seen and heard respecting Fanny.
Major Pendennis was highly delighted: and as might be expected of such
a philosopher, made precisely the same observation as that which had
escaped from Warrington. "All women are the same," he said. "_La
petite se console_. Dayme, when I used to read 'Télémaque' at school,
_Calypso ne pouvait se consoler_--you know the rest, Warrington--I
used to say it was absard. Absard, by Gad, and so it is. And so she's
got a new _soupirant_ has she, the little porteress? Dayvlish nice
little girl. How mad Pen will be--eh, Warrington? But we must break it
to him gently, or he'll be in such a rage that he will be going after
her again. We must _ménager_ the young fellow."
"I think Mrs. Pendennis ought to know that Pen acted very well in the
business. She evidently thinks him guilty, and according to Mr. Bows,
Arthur behaved like a good fellow," Warrington said.
"My dear Warrington," said the major, with a look of some alarm. "In
Mrs. Pendennis's agitated state of health and that sort of thing, the
best way, I think, is not to say a single word about the subject--or,
stay, leave it to me: and I'll talk to her--break it to her gently,
you know, and that sort of a thing. I give you my word I will. And so
Calypso's consoled, is she?" And he sniggered over this gratifying
truth, happy in the corner of the omnibus during the rest of
Pen was very anxious to hear from his envoy what had been the result
of the latter's mission; and as soon as the two young men could be
alone, the embassador spoke in reply to Arthur's eager queries.
"You remember your poem, Pen, of Ariadne in Naxos," Warrington said;
"devilish bad poetry it was, to be sure."
"Apres?" asked Pen, in a great state of excitement.
"When Theseus left Ariadne, do you remember what happened to her,
"It's a lie, it's a lie! You don't mean that!" cried out Pen, starting
up, his face turning red.
"Sit down, stoopid," Warrington said, and with two fingers pushed Pen
back into his seat again. "It's better for you as it is, young one;"
he said sadly, in reply to the savage flush in Arthur's face.
Worth Major Pendennis fulfilled his promise to Warrington so far as to
satisfy his own conscience, and in so far to ease poor Helen with
regard to her son, as to make her understand that all connection
between Arthur and the odious little gate-keeper was at an end, and
that she need have no further anxiety with respect to an imprudent
attachment or a degrading marriage on Pen's part. And that young
fellow's mind was also relieved (after he had recovered the shock to
his vanity) by thinking that Miss Fanny was not going to die of love
for him, and that no unpleasant consequences were to be apprehended
from the luckless and brief connection.
So the whole party were free to carry into effect their projected
Continental trip, and Arthur Pendennis, rentier, voyageant avec Madame
Pendennis and Mademoiselle Bell, and George Warrington, particulier,
age de 32 ans, taille 6 pieds (Anglais), figure ordinaire, cheveux
noirs, barbe idem, &c., procured passports from the consul of H.M. the
King of the Belgians at Dover, and passed over from that port to
Ostend, whence the party took their way leisurely, visiting Bruges and
Ghent on their way to Brussels and the Rhine. It is not our purpose to
describe this oft-traveled tour, or Laura's delight at the tranquil
and ancient cities which she saw for the first time, or Helen's wonder
and interest at the Beguine convents which they visited, or the almost
terror with which she saw the black-veiled nuns with out-stretched
arms kneeling before the illuminated altars, and beheld the strange
pomps and ceremonials of the Catholic worship. Bare-footed friars in
the streets, crowned images of Saints and Virgins in the churches
before which people were bowing down and worshiping, in direct
defiance, as she held, of the written law; priests in gorgeous robes,
or lurking in dark confessionals, theatres opened, and people dancing
on Sundays; all these new sights and manners shocked and bewildered
the simple country lady; and when the young men after their evening
drive or walk returned to the widow and her adopted daughter, they
found their books of devotion on the table, and at their entrance
Laura would commonly cease reading some of the psalms or the sacred
pages which, of all others Helen loved. The late events connected with
her son had cruelly shaken her; Laura watched with intense, though
hidden anxiety, every movement of her dearest friend; and poor Pen was
most constant and affectionate in waiting upon his mother, whose
wounded bosom yearned with love toward him, though there was a secret
between them, and an anguish or rage almost on the mother's part, to
think that she was dispossessed somehow of her son's heart, or that
there were recesses in it which she must not or dared not enter. She
sickened as she thought of the sacred days of boyhood when it had not
been so--when her Arthur's heart had no secrets, and she was his all
in all: when he poured his hopes and pleasures, his childish griefs,
vanities, triumphs into her willing and tender embrace; when her home
was his nest still; and before fate, selfishness, nature, had driven
him forth on wayward wings--to range on his own flight--to sing his
own song--and to seek his own home and his own mate. Watching this
devouring care and racking disappointment in her friend, Laura once
said to Helen, "If Pen had loved me as you wished, I should have
gained him, but I should have lost you, mamma, I know I should; and I
like you to love me best. Men do not know what it is to love as we do,
I think,"--and Helen, sighing, agreed to this portion of the young
lady's speech, though she protested against the former part. For my
part, I suppose Miss Laura was right in both statements, and with
regard to the latter assertion especially, that it is an old and
received truism--love is an hour with us: it is all night and all day
with a woman. Damon has taxes, sermon, parade, tailors' bills,
parliamentary duties, and the deuce knows what to think of; Delia has
to think about Damon--Damon is the oak (or the post), and stands up,
and Delia is the ivy or the honey-suckle whose arms twine about him.
Is it not so, Delia? Is it not your nature to creep about his feet and
kiss them, to twine round his trunk and hang there; and Damon's to
stand like a British man with his hands in his breeches pocket, while
the pretty fond parasite clings round him?
Old Pendennis had only accompanied our friends to the water's edge,
and left them on board the boat, giving the chief charge of the little
expedition to Warrington. He himself was bound on a brief visit to the
house of a great man, a friend of his, after which sojourn he proposed
to join his sister-in-law at the German watering-place, whither the
party was bound. The major himself thought that his long attentions to
his sick family had earned for him a little relaxation--and though the
best of the partridges were thinned off, the pheasants were still to
be shot at Stillbrook, where the noble owner still was; old Pendennis
betook himself to that hospitable mansion and disported there with
great comfort to himself. A royal duke, some foreigners of note, some
illustrious statesmen, and some pleasant people visited it: it did the
old fellow's heart good to see his name in the "Morning Post," among
the list of the distinguished company which the Marquis of Steyne was
entertaining at his country house at Stillbrook. He was a very useful
and pleasant personage in a country house. He entertained the young