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The History of Pendennis, Vol. 2 by William Makepeace Thackeray

Part 7 out of 9

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to pour in their bills with a cowardly mistrust and unanimity. The
knocks at the Shepherd's Inn Chambers' door were constant, and
tailors, bootmakers, pastrycooks who had furnished dinners, in their
own persons, or by the boys their representatives, held levees on
Strong's stairs. To these were added one or two persons of a less
clamorous but far more sly and dangerous sort--the young clerks of
lawyers, namely, who lurked about the Inn, or concerted with Mr.
Campion's young man in the chambers hard by, having in their dismal
pocketbooks copies of writs to be served on Edward Strong, requiring
him to appear on an early day next term before our Sovereign Lady the
Queen, and answer to, &c., &c.

[Illustration]

From this invasion of creditors, poor Strong, who had not a guinea in
his pocket, had, of course, no refuge but that of the Englishman's
castle, into which he retired, shutting the outer and inner door upon
the enemy, and not quitting his stronghold until after nightfall.
Against this outer barrier the foe used to come and knock and curse in
vain, while the chevalier peeped at them from behind the little
curtain which he had put over the orifice of his letter-box; and had
the dismal satisfaction of seeing the faces of furious clerk and fiery
dun, as they dashed up against the door and retreated from it. But as
they could not be always at his gate, or sleep on his staircase, the
enemies of the chevalier sometimes left him free.

Strong, when so pressed by his commercial antagonists, was not quite
alone in his defense against them, but had secured for himself an ally
or two. His friends were instructed to communicate with him by a
system of private signals: and they thus kept the garrison from
starving by bringing in necessary supplies, and kept up Strong's heart
and prevented him from surrendering, by visiting him and cheering him
in his retreat. Two of Ned's most faithful allies were Huxter and Miss
Fanny Bolton: when hostile visitors were prowling about the Inn,
Fanny's little sisters were taught a particular cry or _jdel_, which
they innocently whooped in the court: when Fanny and Huxter came up to
visit Strong, they archly sang this same note at his door; when that
barrier was straightway opened, the honest garrison came out smiling,
the provisions and the pot of porter were brought in, and, in the
society of his faithful friends, the beleaguered one passed a
comfortable night. There are some men who could not live under this
excitement, but Strong was a brave man, as we have said, who had seen
service and never lost heart in peril.

But besides allies, our general had secured for himself, under
difficulties, that still more necessary aid--a retreat. It has been
mentioned in a former part of this history, how Messrs. Costigan and
Bows lived in the house next door to Captain Strong, and that the
window of one of their rooms was not very far off the kitchen-window
which was situated in the upper story of Strong's chambers. A leaden
water-pipe and gutter served for the two; and Strong, looking out from
his kitchen one day, saw that he could spring with great ease up to
the sill of his neighbor's window, and clamber up the pipe which
communicated from one to the other. He had laughingly shown this
refuge to his chum, Altamont; and they had agreed that it would be as
well not to mention the circumstance to Captain Costigan, whose duns
were numerous, and who would be constantly flying down the pipe into
their apartments if this way of escape were shown to him.

But now that the evil days were come, Strong made use of the passage,
and one afternoon burst in upon Bows and Costigan with his jolly face,
and explained that the enemy was in waiting on his staircase, and that
he had taken this means of giving them the slip. So while Mr. Marks's
aid-de-camps were in waiting in the passage of No. 3, Strong walked
down the steps of No. 4, dined at the Albion, went to the play, and
returned home at midnight, to the astonishment of Mrs. Bolton and
Fanny, who had not seen him quit his chambers and could not conceive
how he could have passed the line of sentries.

Strong bore this siege for some weeks with admirable spirit and
resolution, and as only such an old and brave soldier would, for the
pains and privations which he had to endure were enough to depress any
man of ordinary courage; and what vexed and "riled" him (to use his
own expression) was the infernal indifference and cowardly ingratitude
of Clavering, to whom he wrote letter after letter, which the baronet
never acknowledged by a single word, or by the smallest remittance,
though a five-pound note, as Strong said, at that time would have been
a fortune to him.

But better days were in store for the chevalier, and in the midst of
his despondency and perplexities there came to him a most welcome aid,
"Yes, if it hadn't been for this good fellow here," said Strong; "for
a good fellow you are, Altamont, my boy, and hang me if I don't stand
by you as long as I live; I think, Pendennis, it would have been all
up with Ned Strong. It was the fifth week of my being kept a prisoner,
for I couldn't be always risking my neck across that water-pipe, and
taking my walks abroad through poor old Cos's window, and my spirit
was quite broken, sir--dammy, quite beat, and I was thinking of
putting an end to myself, and should have done it in another week,
when who should drop down from heaven but Altamont!"

"Heaven ain't exactly the place, Ned," said Altamont. "I came from
Baden-Baden," said he, "and I'd had a deuced lucky month there,
that's all."

"Well, sir, he took up Marks's bill, and he paid the other fellows
that were upon me, like a man, sir, that he did," said Strong,
enthusiastically.

"And I shall be very happy to stand a bottle of claret for this
company, and as many more as the company chooses," said Mr. Altamont,
with a blush. "Hallo! waiter, bring us a magnum of the right sort, do
you hear? And we'll drink our healths all round, sir--and may every
good fellow like Strong find another good fellow to stand by him at a
pinch. That's _my_ sentiment, Mr. Pendennis, though I don't like your
name." "No! And why?" asked Arthur.

Strong pressed the colonel's foot under the table here; and Altamont,
rather excited, filled up another bumper, nodded to Pen, drank off his
wine, and said, "_He_ was a gentleman, and that was sufficient, and
they were all gentlemen."

The meeting between these "all gentlemen" took place at Richmond,
whither Pendennis had gone to dinner, and where he found the chevalier
and his friend at table in the coffee-room. Both of the latter were
exceedingly hilarious, talkative, and excited by wine; and Strong, who
was an admirable story-teller, told the story of his own siege, and
adventures, and escapes with great liveliness and humor, and described
the talk of the sheriff's officers at his door, the pretty little
signals of Fanny, the grotesque exclamations of Costigan when the
chevalier burst in at his window, and his final rescue by Altamont, in
a most graphic manner, and so as greatly to interest his hearers.

"As for me, it's nothing," Altamont said. "When a ship's paid off, a
chap spends his money, you know. And it's the fellers at the black and
red at Baden-Baden that did it. I won a good bit of money there, and
intend to win a good bit more, don't I, Strong? I'm going to take him
with me. I've got a system. I'll make his fortune, I tell you. I'll
make your fortune, if you like--dammy, every body's fortune. But what
I'll do, and no mistake, boys, I promise you. I'll put in for that
little Fanny. Dammy, sir, what do you think she did? She had two
pound, and I'm blest if she didn't go and lend it to Ned Strong!
Didn't she, Ned? Let's drink her health."

"With all my heart," said Arthur, and pledged this toast with the
greatest cordiality.

Mr. Altamont then began, with the greatest volubility, and at great
length, to describe his system. He said that it was infallible, if
played with coolness; that he had it from a chap at Baden, who had
lost by it, it was true, but because he had not capital enough; if he
could have stood one more turn of the wheel, he would have all his
money back; that he and several more chaps were going to make a bank,
and try it; and that he would put every shilling he was worth into it,
and had come back to this country for the express purpose of fetching
away his money, and Captain Strong; that Strong should play for him;
that he could trust Strong and his temper much better than he could
his own, and much better than Bloundell-Bloundell or the Italian that
"stood in." As he emptied his bottle, the colonel described at full
length all his plans and prospects to Pen, who was interested in
listening to his story, and the confessions of his daring and lawless
good-humor.

"I met that queer fellow Altamont the other day," Pen said to his
uncle, a day or two afterward.

"Altamont? What Altamont? There's Lord Westport's son," said the
major.

"No, no; the fellow who came tipsy into Clavering's dining-room one
day when we were there," said the nephew, laughing; "and he said he
did not like the name of Pendennis, though he did me the honor to
think that I was a good fellow."

"I don't know any man of the name of Altamont, I give you my honor,"
said the impenetrable major; "and as for your acquaintance, I think
the less you have to do with him the better, Arthur."

Arthur laughed again. "He is going to quit the country, and make his
fortune by a gambling system. He and my amiable college acquaintance,
Bloundell, are partners, and the colonel takes out Strong with him as
aid-de-camp. What is it that binds the chevalier and Clavering,
I wonder?"

"I should think, mind you, Pen, I should think, but of course I have
only the idea, that there has been something in Clavering's previous
life which gives these fellows, and some others, a certain power over
him; and if there should be such a secret, which is no affair of ours,
my boy, dammy, I say, it ought to be a lesson to a man to keep himself
straight in life, and not to give any man a chance over him."

"Why, I think _you_ have some means of persuasion over Clavering,
uncle, or why should he give me that seat in Parliament?"

"Clavering thinks he ain't fit for Parliament!" the major answered.
"No more he is. What's to prevent him from putting you or any body
else into his place if he likes? Do you think that the Government or
the Opposition would make any bones about accepting the seat if he
offered it to them? Why should you be more squeamish than the first
men, and the most honorable men, and men of the highest birth and
position in the country, begad?" The major had an answer of this kind
to most of Pen's objections, and Pen accepted his uncle's replies, not
so much because he believed them, but because he wished to believe
them. We do a thing--which of us has not? not because "every body does
it," but because we like it; and our acquiescence, alas! proves not
that every body is right, but that we and the rest of the world are
poor creatures alike.

At his next visit to Tunbridge, Mr. Pen did not forget to amuse Miss
Blanche with the history which he had learned at Richmond of the
chevalier's imprisonment, and of Altamont's gallant rescue. And after
he had told his tale in his usual satirical way, he mentioned with
praise and emotion little Fanny's generous behavior to the chevalier,
and Altamont's enthusiasm in her behalf.

Miss Blanche was somewhat jealous, and a good deal piqued and curious
about Fanny. Among the many confidential little communications which
Arthur made to Miss Amory in the course of their delightful rural
drives and their sweet evening walks, it may be supposed that our hero
would not forget a story so interesting to himself and so likely to be
interesting to her, as that of the passion and care of the poor little
Ariadne of Shepherd's Inn. His own part in that drama he described, to
do him justice, with becoming modesty; the moral which he wished to
draw from the tale being one in accordance with his usual satirical
mood, viz., that women get over their first loves quite as easily as
men do (for the fair Blanche, in their _intimes_ conversations, did
not cease to twit Mr. Pen about his notorious failure in his own
virgin attachment to the Fotheringay), and, number one being
withdrawn, transfer themselves to number two without much difficulty.
And poor little Fanny was offered up in sacrifice as an instance to
prove this theory. What griefs she had endured and surmounted, what
bitter pangs of hopeless attachment she had gone through, what time it
had taken to heal those wounds of the tender little bleeding heart,
Mr. Pen did not know, or perhaps did not choose to know; for he was at
once modest and doubtful about his capabilities as a conqueror of
hearts, and averse to believe that he had executed any dangerous
ravages on that particular one, though his own instance and argument
told against himself in this case; for if, as he said, Miss Fanny was
by this time in love with her surgical adorer, who had neither good
looks, nor good manners, nor wit, nor any thing but ardor and fidelity
to recommend him, must she not in her first sickness of the
love-complaint, have had a serious attack, and suffered keenly for a
man, who had certainly a number of the showy qualities which Mr.
Huxter wanted?

"You wicked, odious creature," Miss Blanche said, "I believe that you
are enraged with Fanny for being so impudent as to forget you, and
that you are actually jealous of Mr. Huxter." Perhaps Miss Amory was
right, as the blush which came in spite of himself and tingled upon
Pendennis's cheek (one of those blows with which a man's vanity is
constantly slapping his face), proved to Pen that he was angry to
think he had been superseded by such a rival. By such a fellow as
that! without any conceivable good quality! Oh, Mr. Pendennis!
(although this remark does not apply to such a smart fellow as you) if
Nature had not made that provision for each sex in the credulity of
the other, which sees good qualities where none exist, good looks in
donkeys' ears, wit in their numskulls, and music in their bray, there
would not have been near so much marrying and giving in marriage as
now obtains, and as is necessary for the due propagation and
continuance of the noble race to which we belong!

"Jealous or not," Pen said, "and, Blanche, I don't say no, I should
have liked Fanny to have come to a better end than that. I don't like
histories that end in that cynical way; and when we arrive at the
conclusion of the story of a pretty girl's passion, to find such a
figure as Huxter's at the last page of the tale. Is all life a
compromise, my lady fair, and the end of the battle of love an ignoble
surrender? Is the search for the Cupid which my poor little Psyche
pursued in the darkness--the god of her soul's longing--the God of the
blooming cheek and rainbow pinions--to result in Huxter, smelling of
tobacco and gallypots? I wish, though I don't see it in life, that
people could be like Jenny and Jessamy, or my lord and lady Clementina
in the storybook and fashionable novels, and at once under the
ceremony, and, as it were, at the parson's benediction, become
perfectly handsome and good and happy ever after."

"And don't you intend to be good and happy, pray, Monsieur
le Misanthrope--and are you very discontented with your lot--and will
your marriage be a compromise "--(asked the author of "Mes Larmes,"
with a charming _moue_)--"and is your Psyche an odious vulgar wretch?
You wicked, satirical creature, I can't abide you! You take the hearts
of young things, play with them, and fling them away with scorn. You
ask for love and trample on it. You--you make me cry, that you do,
Arthur, and--and don't--and I _won't_ be consoled in that way--and I
think Fanny was quite right in leaving such a heartless creature."

"Again, I don't say no," said Pen, looking very gloomily at Blanche,
and not offering by any means to repeat the attempt at consolation,
which had elicited that sweet monosyllable "don't" from the young
lady. "I don't think I have much of what people call heart; but I
don't profess it. I made my venture when I was eighteen, and lighted
my lamp and went in search of Cupid. And what was my discovery of
love!--a vulgar dancing woman. I failed, as every body does, almost
every body; only it is luckier to fail before marriage than after."

_"Merci du choix, Monsieur"_ said the Sylphide, making a courtesy.

"Look, my little Blanche," said Pen, taking her hand, and with his
voice of sad good-humor; "at least I stoop to no flatteries."

"Quite the contrary," said Miss Blanche.

"And tell you no foolish lies, as vulgar men do. Why should you and I,
with our experience, ape romance and dissemble passion? I do not
believe Miss Blanche Amory to be peerless among the beautiful, nor the
greatest poetess, nor the most surpassing musician, any more than I
believe you to be the tallest woman in the whole world--like the
giantess whose picture we saw as we rode through the fair yesterday.
But if I don't set you up as a heroine, neither do I offer you your
very humble servant as a hero. But I think you are--well, there, I
think you are very sufficiently good-looking."

_"Merci,"_ Miss Blanche said, with another courtesy.

"I think you sing charmingly. I'm sure you're clever. I hope and
believe that you are good-natured, and that you will be
companionable."

"And so, provided I bring you a certain sum of money and a seat in
Parliament, you condescend to fling to me your royal
pocket-handkerchief," said Blanche. _"Que dhonneur!_ We used to call
your Highness the Prince of Fairoaks. What an honor to think that I am
to be elevated to the throne, and to bring the seat in Parliament as
backsheesh to the sultan! I am glad I am clever, and that I can play
and sing to your liking; my songs will amuse my lord's leisure."

"And if thieves are about the house," said Pen, grimly pursuing the
simile, "forty besetting thieves in the shape of lurking cares and
enemies in ambush and passions in arms, my Morgiana will dance round
me with a tambourine, and kill all my rogues and thieves with a smile.
Won't she?" But Pen looked as if he did not believe that she would.
"Ah, Blanche," he continued after a pause, "don't be angry; don't be
hurt at my truth-telling. Don't you see that I always take you at your
word? You say you will be a slave and dance--I say, dance. You say, 'I
take you with what you bring;' I say, 'I take you with what you
bring.' To the necessary deceits and hypocrisies of our life, why add
any that are useless and unnecessary? If I offer myself to you because
I think we have a fair chance of being happy together, and because by
your help I may get for both of us a good place and a not
undistinguished name, why ask me to feign raptures and counterfeit
romance, in which neither of us believe? Do you want me to come wooing
in a Prince Prettyman's dress from the masquerade warehouse, and to
pay you compliments like Sir Charles Grandison? Do you want me to make
you verses as in the days when we were--when we were children? I will
if you like, and sell them to Bacon and Bungay afterward. Shall I feed
my pretty princess with _bonbons_."

"_Mais j'adore les bonbons, moi_," said the little Sylphide, with a
queer, piteous look.

"I can buy a hatful at Fortnum and Mason's for a guinea. And it shall
have its bonbons, its pootty little sugar-plums, that it shall," Pen
said, with a bitter smile. "Nay, my dear, nay my dearest little
Blanche, don't cry. Dry the pretty eyes, I can't bear that;" and he
proceeded to offer that consolation which the circumstance required,
and which the tears, the genuine tears of vexation, which now sprang
from the angry eyes of the author of "Mes Larmes" demanded.

The scornful and sarcastic tone of Pendennis quite frightened and
overcame the girl. "I--I don't want your consolation. I--I never
was--so--spoken to bef--by any of my--my--by any body"--she sobbed
out, with much simplicity.

"_Any body!_" shouted out Pen, with a savage burst of laughter, and
Blanche blushed one of the most genuine blushes which her cheek had
ever exhibited, and she cried out, "O, Arthur, _vous tes un homme
terrible!_" She felt bewildered, frightened, oppressed, the worldly
little flirt who had been playing at love for the last dozen years of
her life, and yet not displeased at meeting a master.

"Tell me, Arthur," she said, after a pause in this strange
love-making. "Why does Sir Francis Clavering give up his seat in
Parliament?"

"_Au fait_, why does he give it to me?" asked Arthur, now blushing in
his turn.

"You always mock me, sir," she said. "If it is good to be in
Parliament, why does Sir Francis go out?"

"My uncle has talked him over. He always said that you were not
sufficiently provided for. In the--the family disputes, when your
mamma paid his debts so liberally, it was stipulated, I suppose, that
you--that is, that I--that is, upon my word, I don't know why he goes
out of Parliament," Pen said, with rather a forced laugh. "You see,
Blanche, that you and I are two good little children, and that this
marriage has been arranged for us by our mammas and uncles, and that
we must be obedient, like a good little boy and girl."

So, when Pen went to London, he sent Blanche a box of bonbons, each
sugar plum of which was wrapped up in ready-made French verses, of the
most tender kind; and, besides, dispatched to her some poems of his
own manufacture, quite as artless and authentic; and it was no wonder
that he did not tell Warrington what his conversations with Miss Amory
had been, of so delicate a sentiment were they, and of a nature so
necessarily private.

And if, like many a worse and better man, Arthur Pendennis, the
widow's son, was meditating an apostasy, and going to sell himself
to--we all know whom--at least the renegade did not pretend to be a
believer in the creed to which he was ready to swear. And if every
woman and man in this kingdom, who has sold her or himself for money
or position, as Mr. Pendennis was about to do, would but purchase a
copy of his memoirs, what tons of volumes the Publishers would
sell!

CHAPTER XXVII.

IN WHICH PEN BEGINS HIS CANVASS.

[Illustration]

Melancholy as the great house at Clavering Park had been in the days
before his marriage, when its bankrupt proprietor was a refugee in
foreign lands, it was not much more cheerful now when Sir Francis
Clavering came to inhabit it. The greater part of the mansion was shut
up, and the baronet only occupied a few of the rooms on the ground
floor, where his housekeeper and her assistant from the lodge gate
waited upon the luckless gentleman in his forced retreat, and cooked a
part of the game which he spent the dreary mornings in shooting.
Lightfoot, his man, had passed over to my lady's service; and, as Pen
was informed in a letter from Mr. Smirke, who performed the ceremony,
had executed his prudent intention of marrying Mrs. Bonner, my lady's
woman, who, in her mature years, was stricken with the charms of the
youth, and endowed him with her savings and her mature person. To be
landlord and landlady of the Clavering Arms was the ambition of both
of them; and it was agreed that they were to remain in Lady
Clavering's service until quarter-day arrived, when they were to take
possession of their hotel. Pen graciously promised that he would give
his election dinner there, when the baronet should vacate his seat in
the young man's favor; and, as it had been agreed by his uncle, to
whom Clavering seemed to be able to refuse nothing, Arthur came down
in September on a visit to Clavering Park, the owner of which was very
glad to have a companion who would relieve his loneliness, and perhaps
would lend him a little ready money.

Pen furnished his host with the desirable supplies a couple of days
after he had made his appearance at Clavering: and no sooner were
these small funds in Sir Francis's pocket, than the latter found he
had business at Chatteris and at the neighboring watering-places, of
which----shire boasts many, and went off to see to his affairs, which
were transacted, as might be supposed, at the county race-grounds and
billiard-rooms. Arthur could live alone well enough, having many
mental resources and amusements which did not require other persons'
company: he could walk with the game-keeper of a morning, and for the
evenings there was a plenty of books and occupation for a literary
genius like Mr. Arthur, and who required but a cigar and a sheet of
paper or two to make the night pass away pleasantly. In truth, in two
or three days he had found the society of Sir Francis Clavering
perfectly intolerable; and it was with a mischievous eagerness and
satisfaction that he offered Clavering the little pecuniary aid which
the latter according to his custom solicited; and supplied him with
the means of taking flight from his own house.

Besides, our ingenious friend had to ingratiate himself with the
townspeople of Clavering, and with the voters of the borough which he
hoped to represent; and he set himself to this task with only the more
eagerness, remembering how unpopular he had before been in Clavering,
and determined to vanquish the odium which he had inspired among the
simple people there. His sense of humor made him delight in this task.
Naturally rather reserved and silent in public, he became on a sudden
as frank, easy, and jovial, as Captain Strong. He laughed with every
body who would exchange a laugh with him, shook hands right and left,
with what may be certainly called a dexterous cordiality; made his
appearance at the market-day and the farmers' ordinary; and, in fine,
acted like a consummate hypocrite, and as gentlemen of the highest
birth and most spotless integrity act when they wish to make
themselves agreeable to their constituents, and have some end to gain
of the country folks. How is it that we allow ourselves not to be
deceived, but to be ingratiated so readily by a glib tongue, a ready
laugh, and a frank manner? We know, for the most part, that it is
false coin, and we take it: we know that it is flattery, which it
costs nothing to distribute to every body, and we had rather have it
than be without it. Friend Pen went about at Clavering, laboriously
simple and adroitly pleased, and quite a different being from the
scornful and rather sulky young dandy whom the inhabitants remembered
ten years ago.

The Rectory was shut up. Doctor Portman was gone, with his gout and
his family, to Harrowgate--an event which Pen deplored very much in a
letter to the doctor, in which, in a few kind and simple words, he
expressed his regret at not seeing his old friend, whose advice he
wanted and whose aid he might require some day: but Pen consoled
himself for the doctor's absence by making acquaintance with Mr.
Simcoe, the opposition preacher, and with the two partners of the
cloth-factory at Chatteris, and with the Independent preacher there, all
of whom he met at the Clavering Athenaeum, which the Liberal party had
set up in accordance with the advanced spirit of the age, and perhaps
in opposition to the aristocratic old reading-room, into which the
Edinburgh Review had once scarcely got an admission, and where no
tradesmen were allowed an entrance He propitiated the younger
partner of the cloth-factory, by asking him to dine in a friendly
way at the Park; he complimented the Honorable Mrs. Simcoe with hares
and partridges from the same quarter, and a request to read her
husband's last sermon; and being a little unwell one day, the rascal
took advantage of the circumstance to show his tongue to Mr. Huxter,
who sent him medicines and called the next morning. How delighted old
Pendennis would have been with his pupil! Pen himself was amused with
the sport in which he was engaged, and his success inspired him with a
wicked good-humor.

[Illustration]

And yet, as he walked out of Clavering of a night, after "presiding"
at a meeting of the Athenaeum, or working through an evening with Mrs.
Simcoe, who, with her husband, was awed by the young Londoner's
reputation, and had heard of his social successes; as he passed over
the old familiar bridge of the rushing Brawl, and heard that
well-remembered sound of waters beneath, and saw his own cottage of
Fairoaks among the trees, their darkling outlines clear against the
starlit sky, different thoughts no doubt came to the young man's mind,
and awakened pangs of grief and shame there. There still used to be a
light in the windows of the room which he remembered so well, and in
which the saint who loved him had passed so many hours of care and
yearning and prayer. He turned away his gaze from the faint light
which seemed to pursue him with its wan reproachful gaze, as though it
was his mother's spirit watching and warning. How clear the night was!
How keen the stars shone; how ceaseless the rush of the flowing
waters; the old home trees whispered, and waved gently their dark
heads and branches over the cottage roof. Yonder, in the faint
starlight glimmer, was the terrace where, as a boy, he walked of
summer evenings, ardent and trustful, unspotted, untried, ignorant of
doubts or passions; sheltered as yet from the world's contamination in
the pure and anxious bosom of love.... The clock of the near town
tolling midnight, with a clang disturbs our wanderer's reverie, and
sends him onward toward his night's resting-place, through the lodge
into Clavering avenue, and under the dark arcades of the
rustling limes.

When he sees the cottage the next time, it is smiling in sunset; those
bedroom windows are open where the light was burning the night before;
and Pen's tenant, Captain Stokes, of the Bombay Artillery, (whose
mother, old Mrs. Stokes, lives in Clavering), receives his landlord's
visit with great cordiality: shows him over the grounds and the new
pond he has made in the back-garden from the stables; talks to him
confidentially about the roof and chimneys, and begs Mr. Pendennis to
name a day when he will do himself and Mrs. Stokes the pleasure to,
&c. Pen, who has been a fortnight in the country, excuses himself for
not having called sooner upon the captain by frankly owning that he
had not the heart to do it. "I understand you, sir," the captain says;
and Mrs. Stokes who had slipped away at the ring of the bell (how odd
it seemed to Pen to ring the bell!) comes down in her best gown,
surrounded by her children. The young ones clamber about Stokes: the
boy jumps into an arm-chair. It was Pen's father's arm-chair;
and Arthur remembers the days when he would as soon have thought of
mounting the king's throne as of seating himself in that arm-chair. He
asks if Miss Stokes--she is the very image of her mamma--if she can
play? He should like to hear a tune on that piano. She plays. He hears
the notes of the old piano once more, enfeebled by age, but he does
not listen to the player. He is listening to Laura singing as in the
days of their youth, and sees his mother bending and beating time over
the shoulder of the girl.

The dinner at Fairoaks given in Pen's honor by his tenant, and at
which old Mrs. Stokes, Captain Glanders, Squire Hobnell, and the
clergyman and his lady, from Tinckleton, were present, was very stupid
and melancholy for Pen, until the waiter from Clavering (who aided the
captain's stable-boy and Mrs. Stokes's butler) whom Pen remembered as
a street boy, and who was now indeed barber in that place, dropped a
plate over Pen's shoulder, on which Mr. Hobnell (who also employed
him) remarked, "I suppose, Hodson, your hands are slippery with
bear's-grease. He's always dropping the crockery about, that Hodson
is--haw, haw!" On which Hodson blushed, and looked so disconcerted,
that Pen burst out laughing; and good humor and hilarity were the
order of the evening. For the second course there was a hare and
partridges top and bottom, and when after the withdrawal of the
servants, Pen said to the Vicar of Tinckleton, "I think, Mr. Stooks,
you should have asked Hodson to _cut the hare_," the joke was taken
instantly by the clergyman, who was followed in the course of a few
minutes by Captains Stokes and Glanders, and by Mr. Hobnell, who
arrived rather late, but with an immense guffaw.

While Mr. Pen was engaged in the country in the above schemes, it
happened that the lady of his choice, if not of his affections, came
up to London from the Tunbridge villa, bound upon shopping expeditions
or important business, and in company of old Mrs. Bonner, her mother's
maid, who had lived and quarreled with Blanche many times since she
was an infant, and who now being about to quit Lady Clavering's
service for the hymeneal state, was anxious like a good soul to bestow
some token of respectful kindness upon her old and young mistress
before she quitted them altogether, to take her post as the wife of
Lightfoot, and landlady of the Clavering Arms.

The honest woman took the benefit of Miss Amory's taste to make the
purchase which she intended to offer her ladyship; and requested the
fair Blanche to choose something for herself that should be to her
liking, and remind her of her old nurse who had attended her through
many a wakeful night, and eventful teething, and childish fever, and
who loved her like a child of her own a'most. These purchases were
made, and as the nurse insisted on buying an immense Bible for
Blanche, the young lady suggested that Bonner should purchase a large
Johnson's Dictionary for her mamma. Each of the two women might
certainly profit by the present made to her.

Then Mrs. Bonner invested money in some bargains in linendrapery,
which might be useful at the Clavering Arms, and bought a red
and yellow neck-handkerchief, which Blanche could see at once was
intended for Mr. Lightfoot. Younger than herself by at least
five-and-twenty years, Mrs. Bonner regarded that youth with a fondness
at once parental and conjugal, and loved to lavish ornaments on his
person, which already glittered with pins, rings, shirt-studs, and chains
and seals, purchased at the good creature's expense.

[Illustration]

It was in the Strand that Mrs. Bonner made her purchases, aided by
Miss Blanche, who liked the fun very well, and when the old lady had
bought every thing that she desired, and was leaving the shop,
Blanche, with a smiling face, and a sweet bow to one of the shop,
said, "Pray, sir, will you have the kindness to show us the way to
Shepherd's Inn."

Shepherd's Inn was but a few score of yards off, Old Castle Street was
close by, the elegant young shopman pointed out the turning which the
young lady was to take, and she and her companion walked off
together. "Shepherd's Inn! what can you want in Shepherd's Inn, Miss
Blanche?" Bonner inquired. "Mr. Strong lives there. Do you want to go
and see the captain?"

"I should like to see the captain very well. I like the captain; but
it is not him I want. I want to see a dear little good girl, who was
very kind to--to Mr. Arthur when he was so ill last year, and saved
his life almost; and I want to thank her, and ask her if she would
like any thing. I looked out several of my dresses on purpose this
morning, Bonner!" and she looked at Bonner as if she had a right to
admiration, and had performed an act of remarkable virtue. Blanche,
indeed, was very fond of sugar-plums; she would have fed the poor upon
them, when she had had enough, and given a country girl a ball dress
when she had worn it and was tired of it.

"Pretty girl, pretty young woman!" mumbled Mrs. Bonner. "I know _I_
want no pretty young women come about Lightfoot," and in imagination
she peopled the Clavering Arms with a Harem of the most hideous
chambermaids and barmaids.

Blanche, with pink and blue, and feathers, and flowers, and trinkets
(that wondrous invention, a chtelaine, was not extant yet, or she
would have had one, we may be sure), and a shot silk dress, and a
wonderful mantle, and a charming parasol, presented a vision of
elegance and beauty such as bewildered the eyes of Mrs. Bolton, who
was scrubbing the lodge-floor of Shepherd's Inn, and caused
Betsy-Jane, and Ameliar-Ann to look with delight.

Blanche looked on them with a smile of ineffable sweetness and
protection; like Rowena going to see Ivanhoe; like Marie Antoinette
visiting the poor in the famine; like the Marchioness of Carabas
alighting from her carriage and four at a pauper-tenant's door, and
taking from John No. II., the packet of Epsom salts for the invalid's
benefit, carrying it with her own imperial hand into the sick
room--Blanche felt a queen stepping down from her throne to visit a
subject, and enjoyed all the bland consciousness of doing a
good action.

"My good woman! I want to see Fanny--Fanny Bolton; is she here?"

Mrs. Bolton had a sudden suspicion, from the splendor of Blanche's
appearance, that it must be a play-actor, or something worse.

"What do you want with Fanny, pray?" she asked.

"I am Lady Clavering's daughter--you have heard of Sir Francis
Clavering? And I wish very much indeed to see Fanny Bolton."

"Pray step in, Miss--Betsy-Jane, where's Fanny?"

Betsy-Jane said Fanny had gone into No. 3 staircase, on which Mrs.
Bolton said she was probably in Strong's rooms, and bade the child go
and see if she was there.

"In Captain Strong's rooms! oh, let us go to Captain Strong's rooms,"
cried out Miss Blanche. "I know him very well. You dearest little
girl, show us the way to Captain Strong!" cried out Miss Blanche, for
the floor reeked with the recent scrubbing, and the goddess did not
like the smell of brown soap. And as they passed up the stairs, a
gentleman by the name of Costigan, who happened to be swaggering about
the court, and gave a very knowing look with his "oi" under Blanche's
bonnet, remarked to himself, "That's a devilish foine gyurll, bedad,
goan up to Sthrong and Altamont: they're always having foine gyurlls
up their stairs."

"Halloo--hwhat's that?" he presently said, looking up at the windows:
from which some piercing shrieks issued.

At the sound of the voice of a distressed female the intrepid Cos
rushed up the stairs as fast as his old legs would carry him, being
nearly overthrown by Strong's servant, who was descending the stair.
Cos found the outer door of Strong's chambers opened, and began to
thunder at the knocker. After many and fierce knocks, the inner door
was partially unclosed, and Strong's head appeared.

"It's oi, me boy. Hwhat's that noise, Sthrong?" asked Costigan.

"Go to the d--" was the only answer, and the door was shut on Cos's
venerable red nose, and he went down stairs muttering threats at the
indignity offered to him, and vowing that he would have satisfaction.
In the meanwhile the reader, more lucky than Captain Costigan, will
have the privilege of being made acquainted with the secret which was
withheld from that officer.

It has been said of how generous a disposition Mr. Altamont was, and
when he was well supplied with funds, how liberally he spent them. Of
a hospitable turn, he had no greater pleasure than drinking in company
with other people; so that there was no man more welcome at Greenwich
and Richmond than the Emissary of the Nawaub of Lucknow.

Now it chanced that on the day when Blanche and Mrs. Bonner ascended
the staircase to Strong's room in Shepherd's Inn, the colonel had
invited Miss Delaval of the----Theatre Royal, and her mother, Mrs.
Hodge, to a little party down the river, and it had been agreed that
they were to meet at Chambers, and thence walk down to a port in the
neighboring Strand to take water. So that when Mrs. Bonner and Mes
Larmes came to the door, where Grady, Altamont's servant, was
standing, the domestic said, "Walk in, ladies," with the utmost
affability, and led them into the room, which was arranged as if they
had been expected there. Indeed, two bouquets of flowers, bought at
Covent Garden that morning, and instances of the tender gallantry of
Altamont, were awaiting his guests upon the table. Blanche smelt at
the bouquet, and put her pretty little dainty nose into it, and
tripped about the room, and looked behind the curtains, and at the
books and prints, and at the plan of Clavering estate hanging up on
the wall; and had asked the servant for Captain Strong, and had almost
forgotten his existence and the errand about which she had come,
namely, to visit Fanny Bolton; so pleased was she with the new
adventure, and the odd, strange, delightful, droll little idea of
being in a bachelor's chambers in a queer old place in the city!

Grady meanwhile, with a pair of ample varnished boots, had
disappeared into his master's room. Blanche had hardly the leisure
to remark how big the boots were, and how unlike Mr. Strong's.

"The women's come," said Grady, helping his master to the boots.

"Did you ask 'em if they would take a glass of any thing?" asked
Altamont.

Grady came out--"He says, will you take any thing to drink?" the
domestic asked of them; at which Blanche, amused with the artless
question, broke out into a pretty little laugh, and asked of Mrs.
Bonner, "Shall we take any thing to drink?"

"Well, you may take it or lave it," said Mr. Grady, who thought his
offer slighted, and did not like the contemptuous manners of the
newcomers, and so left them.

"Will we take any thing to drink?" Blanche asked again: and again
began to laugh.

"Grady," bawled out a voice from the chamber within:--a voice that
made Mrs. Bonner start.

Grady did not answer: his song was heard from afar off, from the
kitchen, his upper room, where Grady was singing at his work.

"Grady, my coat!" again roared the voice from within.

"Why, that is not Mr. Strong's voice," said the Sylphide, still half
laughing. "Grady my coat!--Bonner, who is Grady my coat? We ought
to go away."

Bonner still looked quite puzzled at the sound of the voice which she
had heard.

The bedroom door here opened and the individual who had called out
"Grady, my coat," appeared without the garment in question.

He nodded to the women, and walked across the room. "I beg your
pardon, ladies. Grady, bring my coat down, sir! Well, my dears, it's a
fine day, and we'll have a jolly lark at----"

He said no more; for here Mrs. Bonner, who had been looking at him
with scared eyes, suddenly shrieked out, "Amory! Amory!" and fell back
screaming and fainting in her chair.

The man, so apostrophized, looked at the woman an instant, and,
rushing up to Blanche, seized her and kissed her. "Yes, Betsy," he
said, "by G--it is me. Mary Bonner knew me. What a fine gal we've
grown! But it's a secret, mind. I'm dead, though I'm your father. Your
poor mother don't know it. What a pretty gal we've grown! Kiss
me--kiss me close, my Betsy! D--it, I love you: I'm your old father."

Betsy or Blanche looked quite bewildered, and began to scream too
--once, twice, thrice; and it was her piercing shrieks which Captain
Costigan heard as he walked the court below.

At the sound of these shrieks the perplexed parent clasped his hands
(his wristbands were open, and on one brawny arm you could see letters
tattooed in blue), and, rushing to his apartment, came back with an
eau de Cologne bottle from his grand silver dressing-case, with the
fragrant contents of which he began liberally to sprinkle Bonner
and Blanche.

The screams of these women brought the other occupants of the chamber
into the room: Grady from his kitchen, and Strong from his apartment
in the upper story. The latter at once saw from the aspect of the two
women what had occurred.

"Grady, go and wait in the court," he said, "and if any body comes
--you understand me."

"Is it the play-actress and her mother?" said Grady.

"Yes--confound you--say that there's nobody in Chambers, and the
party's off for to-day."

"Shall I say that, sir? and after I bought them bokays?" asked Grady
of his master.

"Yes," said Amory, with a stamp of his foot; and Strong going to the
door, too, reached it just in time to prevent the entrance of Captain
Costigan, who had mounted the stair.

The ladies from the theatre did not have their treat to Greenwich, nor
did Blanche pay her visit to Fanny Bolton on that day. And Cos, who
took occasion majestically to inquire of Grady what the mischief was,
and who was crying?--had for answer that 'twas a woman, another of
them, and that they were, in Grady's opinion, the cause of 'most all
the mischief in the world.

CHAPTER XXVIII.

IN WHICH PEN BEGINS TO DOUBT ABOUT HIS ELECTION.

[Illustration]

While Pen, in his own county, was thus carrying on his selfish plans
and parliamentary schemes, news came to him that Lady Rockminster had
arrived at Baymouth, and had brought with her our friend Laura. At the
announcement that Laura his sister was near him, Pen felt rather
guilty. His wish was to stand higher in her esteem, perhaps, than in
that of any other person in the world. She was his mother's legacy to
him. He was to be her patron and protector in some sort. How would she
brave the news which he had to tell her; and how should he explain the
plans which he was meditating? He felt as if neither he nor Blanche
could bear Laura's dazzling glance of calm scrutiny, and as if he
would not dare to disclose his worldly hopes and ambitions to that
spotless judge. At her arrival at Baymouth, he wrote a letter thither
which contained a great number of fine phrases and protests of
affection, and a great deal of easy satire and raillery; in the midst
of all which Mr. Pen could not help feeling that he was in a panic,
and that he was acting like a rogue and hypocrite.

How was it that a single country-girl should be the object of fear and
trembling to such an accomplished gentleman as Mr. Pen? His worldly
tactics and diplomacy, his satire and knowledge of the world, could
not bear the test of her purity, he felt somehow. And he had to own to
himself that his affairs were in such a position, that he could not
tell the truth to that honest soul. As he rode from Clavering to
Baymouth he felt as guilty as a school-boy, who doesn't know his
lesson and is about to face the awful master. For is not truth the
master always, and does she not have the power and hold the book?

Under the charge of her kind, though somewhat wayward and absolute,
patroness, Lady Rockminster, Laura had seen somewhat of the world in
the last year, had gathered some accomplishments, and profited by the
lessons of society. Many a girl who had been accustomed to that too
great tenderness in which Laura's early life had been passed, would
have been unfitted for the changed existence which she now had to
lead. Helen worshiped her two children, and thought, as home-bred
women will, that all the world was made for them, or to be considered
after them. She tended Laura with a watchfulness of affection which
never left her. If she had a headache, the widow was as alarmed as if
there had never been an aching head before in the world. She slept and
woke, read, and moved under her mother's fond superintendence, which
was now withdrawn from her, along with the tender creature whose
anxious heart would beat no more. And painful moments of grief and
depression no doubt Laura had, when she stood in the great careless
world alone. Nobody heeded her griefs or her solitude. She was not
quite the equal, in social rank, of the lady whose companion she was,
or of the friends and relatives of the imperious, but kind
old dowager.

Some, very likely, bore her no good-will--some, perhaps, slighted her:
it might have been that servants were occasionally rude; their
mistress certainly was often. Laura not seldom found herself in family
meetings, the confidence and familiarity of which she felt were
interrupted by her intrusion; and her sensitiveness of course was
wounded at the idea that she should give or feel this annoyance. How
many governesses are there in the world, thought cheerful Laura--how
many ladies, whose necessities make them slaves and companions by
profession! What bad tempers and coarse unkindness have not these to
encounter! How infinitely better my lot is with these really kind and
affectionate people than that of thousands of unprotected girls! It
was with this cordial spirit that our young lady adapted herself to
her new position; and went in advance of her fortune with a
trustful smile.

Did you ever know a person who met Fortune in that way, whom the
goddess did not regard kindly? Are not even bad people won by a
constant cheerfulness and a pure and affectionate heart? When the
babes in the wood, in the ballad, looked up fondly and trustfully at
those notorious rogues whom their uncle had set to make away with the
little folks, we all know how one of the rascals relented, and made
away with the other--not having the heart to be unkind to so much
innocence and beauty. Oh happy they who have that virgin, loving trust
and sweet smiling confidence in the world, and fear no evil because
they think none! Miss Laura Bell was one of these fortunate persons;
and besides the gentle widow's little cross, which, as we have seen,
Pen gave her, had such a sparkling and brilliant _koh-i-noor_ in her
bosom, as is even more precious than that famous jewel; for it not
only fetches a price, and is retained by its owner in another world
where diamonds are stated to be of no value, but here, too, is of
inestimable worth to its possessor; is a talisman against evil, and
lightens up the darkness of life, like Cogia Hassan's famous stone.

So that before Miss Bell had been a year in Lady Rockminster's house,
there was not a single person in it whose love she had not won by the
use of this talisman. From the old lady to the lowest dependent of her
bounty, Laura had secured the good-will and kindness of every body.
With a mistress of such a temper, my lady's woman (who had endured her
mistress for forty years, and had been clawed and scolded and jibed
every day and night in that space of time), could not be expected to
have a good temper of her own; and was at first angry against Miss
Laura, as she had been against her ladyship's fifteen preceding
companions. But when Laura was ill at Paris, this old woman nursed her
in spite of her mistress, who was afraid of catching the fever, and
absolutely fought for her medicine with Martha from Fairoaks, now
advanced to be Miss Laura's own maid. As she was recovering, Grandjean
the chef wanted to kill her by the numbers of delicacies which he
dressed for her, and wept when she ate her first slice of chicken. The
Swiss major-domo of the house celebrated Miss Bell's praises in almost
every European language, which he spoke with indifferent
incorrectness; the coachman was happy to drive her out; the page cried
when he heard she was ill; and Calverley and Coldstream (those two
footmen, so large, so calm ordinarily, and so difficult to move),
broke out into extraordinary hilarity at the news of her
convalescence, and intoxicated the page at a wine shop, to _fete_
Laura's recovery. Even Lady Diana Pynsent (our former acquaintance Mr.
Pynsent had married by this time), Lady Diana, who had had a
considerable dislike to Laura for some time, was so enthusiastic as to
say that she thought Miss Bell was a very agreeable person, and that
grandmamma had found a great _trouvaille_ in her. All this good-will
and kindness Laura had acquired, not by any arts, not by any flattery,
but by the simple force of good-nature, and by the blessed gift of
pleasing and being pleased.

On the one or two occasions when he had seen Lady Rockminster, the old
lady, who did not admire him, had been very pitiless and abrupt with
our young friend, and perhaps Pen expected when he came to Baymouth to
find Laura installed in her house in the quality of humble companion,
and treated no better than himself. When she heard of his arrival she
came running down stairs, and I am not sure that she did not embrace
him in the presence of Calverley and Coldstream: not that those
gentleman ever told: if the _fractus orbis_ had come to a smash, if
Laura, instead of kissing Pen, had taken her scissors and snipped off
his head--Calverly and Coldstream would have looked on impavidly,
without allowing a grain of powder to be disturbed by the calamity.

Laura had so much improved in health and looks that Pen could not but
admire her. The frank and kind eyes which met his, beamed with good
health; the cheek which he kissed blushed with beauty. As he looked at
her, artless and graceful, pure and candid, he thought he had never
seen her so beautiful. Why should he remark her beauty now so much,
and remark too to himself that he had not remarked it sooner? He took
her fair trustful hand and kissed it fondly: he looked in her bright
clear eyes, and read in them that kindling welcome which he was always
sure to find there. He was affected and touched by the tender tone and
the pure sparkling glance; their innocence smote him somehow and
moved him.

"How good you are to me, Laura--sister!" said Pen, "I don't deserve
that you should--that you should be so kind to me."

"Mamma left you to me," she said, stooping down and brushing his
forehead with her lips hastily. "You know you were to come to me when
you were in trouble, or to tell me when you were very happy: that was
our compact, Arthur, last year, before we parted. Are you very happy
now, or are you in trouble, which is it?" and she looked at him with
an arch glance of kindness. "Do you like going into Parliament? Do you
intend to distinguish yourself there? How I shall tremble for your
first speech!"

"Do you know about the Parliament plan, then?" Pen asked.

"Know?--all the world knows! I have heard it talked about many times.
Lady Rockminster's doctor talked about it to-day. I daresay it will be
in the Chatteris paper to-morrow. It is all over the county that Sir
Francis Clavering, of Clavering, is going to retire, in behalf of Mr.
Arthur Pendennis, of Fairoaks; and that the young and beautiful Miss
Blanche Amory is--"

"What! that too?" asked Pendennis.

"That, too, dear Arthur. _Tout se sait_, as somebody would say, whom I
intend to be very fond of; and who I am sure is very clever and
pretty. I have had a letter from Blanche. The kindest of letters. She
speaks so warmly of you, Arthur! I hope--I know she feels what she
writes. When is it to be, Arthur? Why did you not tell me? I may come
and live with you then, mayn't I?"

"My home is yours, dear Laura, and every thing I have," Pen said. "If
I did not tell you, it was because--because--I do not know: nothing is
decided as yet. No words have passed between us. But you think Blanche
could be happy with me--don't you? Not a romantic fondness, you know.
I have no heart, I think; I've told her so: only a sober-sided
attachment: and want my wife on one side of the fire and my sister on
the other, Parliament in the session and Fairoaks in the holidays, and
my Laura never to leave me until somebody who has a right comes to
take her away."

Somebody who has a right--somebody with a right! Why did Pen as he
looked at the girl and slowly uttered the words, begin to feel angry
and jealous of the invisible somebody with the right to take her away?
Anxious, but a minute ago, how she would take the news regarding his
probable arrangements with Blanche, Pen was hurt somehow that she
received the intelligence so easily, and took his happiness
for granted.

"Until somebody comes," Laura said, with a laugh, "I will stay at home
and be aunt Laura, and take care of the children when Blanche is in
the world. I have arranged it all. I am an excellent house-keeper. Do
you know I have been to market at Paris with Mrs. Beck, and have taken
some lessons from M. Grandjean. And I have had some lessons in Paris
in singing too, with the money which you sent me, you kind boy: and I
can sing much better now: and I have learned to dance, though not so
well as Blanche, and when you become a minister of state, Blanche
shall present me:" and with this, and with a provoking good-humor, she
performed for him the last Parisian courtesy.

Lady Rockminster came in while this courtesy was being performed, and
gave to Arthur one finger to shake; which he took, and over which he
bowed as well as he could, which, in truth, was very clumsily.

"So you are going to be married, sir," said the old lady.

"Scold him, Lady Rockminster, for not telling us," Laura said, going
away: which, in truth, the old lady began instantly to do. "So you are
going to marry, and to go into Parliament in place of that
good-for-nothing Sir Francis Clavering. I wanted him to give my
grandson his seat--why did he not give my grandson his seat? I hope
you are to have a great deal of money with Miss Amory. I wouldn't
take her without a great deal."

"Sir Francis Clavering is tired of Parliament," Pen said, wincing,
"and--and I rather wish to attempt that career. The rest of the story
is at least premature."

"I wonder, when you had Laura at home, you could take up with such an
affected little creature as that," the old lady continued.

"I am very sorry Miss Amory does not please your ladyship," said Pen,
smiling.

"You mean--that it is no affair of mine, and that I am not going to
marry her. Well I'm not, and I'm very glad I am not--a little odious
thing--when I think that a man could prefer her to my Laura, I've no
patience with him, and so I tell you, Mr. Arthur Pendennis."

"I am very glad you see Laura with such favorable eyes," Pen said.

"You are very glad, and you are very sorry. What does it matter, sir,
whether you are very glad or very sorry? A young man who prefers Miss
Amory to Miss Bell has no business to be sorry or glad. A young man
who takes up with such a crooked lump of affectation as that little
Amory--for she is crooked, I tell you she is--after seeing my Laura,
has no right to hold up his head again. Where is your friend
Bluebeard? The tall young man, I mean--Warrington, isn't his name? Why
does he not come down, and marry Laura? What do the young men mean by
not marrying such a girl as that? They all marry for money now. You
are all selfish and cowards. We ran away with each other and made
foolish matches in my time. I have no patience with the young men!
When I was at Paris in the winter, I asked all the three attaches at
the Embassy why they did not fall in love with Miss Bell? They
laughed--they said they wanted money. You are all selfish--you are
all cowards."

"I hope before you offered Miss Bell to the attaches," said Pen, with
some heat, "you did her the favor to consult her?"

"Miss Bell has only a little money. Miss Bell must marry soon.
Somebody must make a match for her, sir; and a girl can't offer
herself," said the old dowager, with great state. "Laura, my dear,
I've been telling your cousin that all the young men are selfish; and
that there is not a pennyworth of romance left among them. He is as
bad as the rest."

"Have you been asking Arthur why he won't marry me?" said Laura, with
a kindling smile, coming back and taking her cousin's hand. (She had
been away, perhaps, to hide some traces of emotion, which she did not
wish others to see). "He is going to marry somebody else; and I intend
to be very fond of her, and to go and live with them, provided he then
does not ask every bachelor who comes to his house, why he does not
marry me?"

* * * * *

The terrors of Pen's conscience being thus appeased, and his
examination before Laura over without any reproaches on the part of
the latter, Pen began to find that his duty and inclination led him
constantly to Baymouth, where Lady Rockminster informed him that a
place was always reserved for him at her table. "And I recommend you
to come often," the old lady said, "for Grandjean is an excellent
cook, and to be with Laura and me will do your manners good. It is
easy to see that you are always thinking about yourself. Don't blush
and stammer--almost all young men are always thinking about
themselves. My sons and grandsons always were until I cured them. Come
here, and let us teach you to behave properly; you will not have to
carve, that is done at the side-table. Hecker will give you as much
wine as is good for you; and on days when you are very good and
amusing you shall have some Champagne. Hecker, mind what I say, Mr.
Pendennis is Miss Laura's brother; and you will make him comfortable,
and see that he does not have too much wine, or disturb me while I am
taking my nap after dinner. You are selfish; I intend to cure you of
being selfish. You will dine here when you have no other engagements;
and if it rains you had better put up at the hotel." As long as the
good lady could order every body round about her, she was not hard to
please; and all the slaves and subjects of her little dowager court
trembled before her, but loved her.

She did not receive a very numerous or brilliant society. The doctor,
of course, was admitted as a constant and faithful visitor; the vicar
and his curate; and on public days the vicar's wife and daughters, and
some of the season visitors at Baymouth were received at the old
lady's entertainments: but generally the company was a small one, and
Mr. Arthur drank his wine by himself, when Lady Rockminster retired to
take her doze, and to be played and sung to sleep by Laura
after dinner.

"If my music can give her a nap," said the good-natured girl, "ought I
not to be very glad that I can do so much good? Lady Rockminster
sleeps very little of nights: and I used to read to her until I fell
ill at Paris, since when she will not hear of my sitting up."

"Why did you not write to me when you were ill?" asked Pen, with a
blush.

"What good could you do me? I had Martha to nurse me; and the doctor
every day. You are too busy to write to women or to think about them.
You have your books and your newspapers, and your politics and your
railroads to occupy you. I wrote when I was well."

And Pen looked at her, and blushed again, as he remembered that,
during all the time of her illness, he had never written to her, and
had scarcely thought about her.

In consequence of his relationship, Pen was free to walk and ride with
his cousin constantly, and in the course of those walks and rides,
could appreciate the sweet frankness of her disposition, and the
truth, simplicity, and kindliness, of her fair and spotless heart. In
their mother's life-time, she had never spoken so openly or so
cordially as now. The desire of poor Helen to make an union between
her two children, had caused a reserve on Laura's part toward Pen; for
which, under the altered circumstances of Arthur's life, there was now
no necessity. He was engaged to another woman; and Laura became his
sister at once--hiding, or banishing from herself, any doubts which
she might have as to his choice; striving to look cheerfully forward,
and hope for his prosperity; promising herself to do all that
affection might do to make her mother's darling happy.

Their talk was often about the departed mother. And it was from a
thousand stories which Laura told him that Arthur was made aware how
constant and absorbing that silent maternal devotion had been, which
had accompanied him, present and absent, through life, and had only
ended with the fond widow's last breath. One day the people in
Clavering saw a lad in charge of a couple of horses at the
church-yard-gate: and it was told over the place that Pen and Laura
had visited Helen's grave together. Since Arthur had come down into
the country, he had been there once or twice: but the sight of the
sacred stone had brought no consolation to him. A guilty man doing a
guilty deed: a mere speculator, content to lay down his faith and
honor for a fortune and a worldly career; and owning that his life was
but a contemptible surrender--what right had he in the holy place?
what booted it to him in the world he lived in, that others were no
better than himself? Arthur and Laura rode by the gates of Fairoaks;
and he shook hands with his tenant's children, playing on the lawn and
the terrace--Laura looked steadily at the cottage wall, at the creeper
on the porch and the magnolia growing up to her window. "Mr. Pendennis
rode by to-day," one of the boys told his mother, "with a lady, and he
stopped and talked to us, and he asked for a bit of honeysuckle off
the porch, and gave it the lady. I couldn't see if she was pretty; she
had her veil down. She was riding one of Cramp's horses, out of
Baymouth."

As they rode over the downs between home and Baymouth, Pen did not
speak much, though they rode very close together. He was thinking what
a mockery life was, and how men refuse happiness when they may have
it; or, having it, kick it down; or barter it, with their eyes open,
for a little worthless money or beggarly honor. And then the
thought came, what does it matter for the little space? The lives of
the best and purest of us are consumed in a vain desire, and end in a
disappointment: as the dear soul's who sleeps in her grave yonder. She
had her selfish ambition, as much as Caesar had; and died, balked of
her life's longing. The stone covers over our hopes and our memories.
Our place knows us not. "Other people's children are playing on the
grass," he broke out, in a hard voice, "where you and I used to play,
Laura. And you see how the magnolia we planted has grown up since our
time. I have been round to one or two of the cottages where my mother
used to visit. It is scarcely more than a year that she is gone, and
the people whom she used to benefit care no more for her death than
for Queen Anne's. We are all selfish: the world is selfish: there are
but a few exceptions, like you, my dear, to shine like good deeds in a
naughty world, and make the blackness more dismal."

"I wish you would not speak in that way, Arthur," said Laura, looking
down and bending her head to the honeysuckle on her breast. "When you
told the little boy to give me this, you were not selfish."

"A pretty sacrifice I made to get it for you!" said the sneerer.

"But your heart was kind and full of love when you did so. One can not
ask for more than love and kindness; and if you think humbly of
yourself, Arthur, the love and kindness are not diminished--are they?
I often thought our dearest mother spoiled you at home, by worshiping
you; and that if you are--I hate the word--what you say, her too great
fondness helped to make you so. And as for the world, when men go out
into it, I suppose they can not be otherwise than selfish. You have to
fight for yourself, and to get on for yourself, and to make a name for
yourself. Mamma and your uncle both encouraged you in this ambition.
If it is a vain thing, why pursue it? I suppose such a clever man as
you intend to do a great deal of good to the country, by going into
Parliament, or you would not wish to be there. What are you going to
do when you are in the House of Commons?"

"Women don't understand about politics, my dear," Pen said, sneering
at himself as he spoke.

"But why don't you make us understand? I could never tell about Mr.
Pynsent why he should like to be there so much. He is not a
clever man--"

"He certainly is not a genius, Pynsent," said Pen.

"Lady Diana says that he attends Committees all day; that then again
he is at the House all night; that he always votes as he is told; that
he never speaks; that he will never get on beyond a subordinate place,
and as his grandmother tells him, he is choked with red-tape. Are you
going to follow the same career, Arthur? What is there in it so
brilliant that you should be so eager for it? I would rather that you
should stop at home, and write books--good books, kind books, with
gentle kind thoughts, such as you have, dear Arthur, and such as might
do people good to read. And if you do not win fame, what then? You own
it is vanity, and you can live very happily without it. I must not
pretend to advise; but I take you at your own word about the world;
and as you own it is wicked, and that it tires you, ask you why you
don't leave it?"

"And what would you have me do?" asked Arthur.

"I would have you bring your wife to Fairoaks to live there, and
study, and do good round about you. I would like to see your own
children playing on the lawn, Arthur, and that we might pray in our
mother's church again once more, dear brother. If the world is a
temptation, are we not told to pray that we may not be led into it?"

"Do you think Blanche would make a good wife for a petty country
gentleman? Do you think I should become the character very well,
Laura?" Pen asked. "Remember temptation walks about the hedgerows as
well as the city streets: and idleness is the greatest tempter
of all."

"What does--does Mr. Warrington say?" said Laura, as a blush mounted
up to her cheek, and of which Pen saw the fervor, though Laura's veil
fell over her face to hide it.

Pen rode on by Laura's side silently for a while. George's name, so
mentioned, brought back the past to him, and the thoughts which he had
once had regarding George and Laura. Why should the recurrence of the
thought agitate him, now that he knew the union was impossible? Why
should he be curious to know if, during the months of their intimacy,
Laura had felt a regard for Warrington? From that day until the
present time George had never alluded to his story, and Arthur
remembered now that since then George had scarcely ever mentioned
Laura's name.

At last he came close to her. "Tell me something, Laura," he said.

She put back her veil and looked at him. "What is it, Arthur?" she
asked--though from the tremor of her voice she guessed very well.

"Tell me--but for George's misfortune--I never knew him speak of it
before or since that day--would you--would you have given him--what
you refused me?"

"Yes, Pen," she said, bursting into tears.

"He deserved you better than I did," poor Arthur groaned forth, with
an indescribable pang at his heart. "I am but a selfish wretch, and
George is better, nobler, truer, than I am. God bless him!"

"Yes, Pen," said Laura, reaching out her hand to her cousin, and he
put his arm round her, and for a moment she sobbed on his shoulder.

The gentle girl had had her secret, and told it. In the widow's last
journey from Fairoaks, when hastening with her mother to Arthur's sick
bed, Laura had made a different confession; and it was only when
Warrington told his own story, and described the hopeless condition of
his life, that she discovered how much her feelings had changed, and
with what tender sympathy, with what great respect, delight, and
admiration she had grown to regard her cousin's friend. Until she knew
that some plans she might have dreamed of were impossible, and that
Warrington reading in her heart, perhaps, had told his melancholy
story to warn her, she had not asked herself whether it was possible
that her affections could change; and had been shocked and scared by
the discovery of the truth. How should she have told it to Helen, and
confessed her shame? Poor Laura felt guilty before her friend, with
the secret which she dared not confide to her; felt as if she had been
ungrateful for Helen's love and regard; felt as if she had been
wickedly faithless to Pen in withdrawing that love from him which he
did not even care to accept; humbled even and repentant before
Warrington, lest she should have encouraged him by undue sympathy, or
shown the preference which she began to feel.

The catastrophe which broke up Laura's home, and the grief and anguish
which she felt for her mother's death, gave her little leisure for
thoughts more selfish; and by the time she rallied from that grief the
minor was also almost cured. It was but for a moment that she had
indulged a hope about Warrington. Her admiration and respect for him
remained as strong as ever. But the tender feeling with which she knew
she had regarded him, was schooled into such calmness, that it may be
said to have been dead and passed away. The pang which it left behind
was one of humility and remorse. "O how wicked and proud I was about
Arthur," she thought, "how self-confident and unforgiving! I never
forgave from my heart this poor girl, who was fond of him, or him for
encouraging her love; and I have been more guilty than she, poor,
little artless creature! I, professing to love one man, could listen
to another only too eagerly; and would not pardon the change of
feelings in Arthur, while I myself was changing and unfaithful." And
so humiliating herself, and acknowledging her weakness, the poor girl
sought for strength and refuge in the manner in which she had been
accustomed to look for them.

She had done no wrong: but there are some folks who suffer for a fault
ever so trifling as much as others whose stout consciences can walk
under crimes of almost any weight; and poor Laura chose to fancy that
she had acted in this delicate juncture of her life as a very great
criminal. She determined that she had done Pen a great injury by
withdrawing that love which, privately in her mother's hearing, she
had bestowed upon him; that she had been ungrateful to her dead
benefactress by ever allowing herself to think of another or of
violating her promise; and that, considering her own enormous crimes,
she ought to be very gentle in judging those of others, whose
temptations were much greater, very likely; and whose motives she
could not understand.

A year back Laura would have been indignant at the idea that Arthur
should marry Blanche: and her high spirit would have risen, as she
thought that from worldly motives he should stoop to one so unworthy.
Now when the news was brought to her of such a chance (the
intelligence was given to her by old Lady Rockminster, whose speeches
were as direct and rapid as a slap on the face), the humbled girl
winced a little at the blow, but bore it meekly, and with a desperate
acquiescence. "He has a right to marry, he knows a great deal more of
the world than I do," she argued with herself. "Blanche may not be so
light-minded as she seemed, and who am I to be her judge? I daresay it
is very good that Arthur should go into Parliament and distinguish
himself, and my duty is to do every thing that lies in my power to aid
him and Blanche, and to make his home happy. I daresay I shall live
with them. If I am godmother to one of their children, I will leave
her my three thousand pounds!" And forthwith she began to think what
she could give Blanche out of her small treasures, and how best to
conciliate her affection. She wrote her forthwith a kind letter, in
which, of course, no mention was made of the plans in contemplation,
but in which Laura recalled old times, and spoke her good-will, and in
reply to this she received an eager answer from Blanche: in which not
a word about marriage was said, to be sure, but Mr. Pendennis was
mentioned two or three times in the letter, and they were to be
henceforth, dearest Laura, and dearest Blanche, and loving sisters,
and so forth.

When Pen and Laura reached home, after Laura's confession (Pen's noble
acknowledgment of his own inferiority, and generous expression of love
for Warrington, causing the girl's heart to throb, and rendering
doubly keen those tears which she sobbed on his shoulder), a little
slim letter was awaiting Miss Bell in the hall, which she trembled
rather guiltily as she unsealed, and which Pen blushed as he
recognized; for he saw instantly that it was from Blanche.

Laura opened it hastily, and cast her eyes quickly over it, as Pen
kept his fixed on her, blushing.

"She dates from London," Laura said. "She has been with old Bonner,
Lady Clavering's maid. Bonner is going to marry Lightfoot the butler.
Where do you think Blanche has been?" she cried out eagerly.

"To Paris, to Scotland, to the Casino?"

"To Shepherd's Inn, to see Fanny; but Fanny wasn't there, and Blanche
is going to leave a present for her. Isn't it kind of her and
thoughtful?" And she handed the letter to Pen who read--

"'I saw Madame Mre who was scrubbing the room, and looked at me with
very _scrubby_ looks; but _la belle_ Fanny was not _au logis;_ and as
I heard that she was in Captain Strong's apartments, Bonner and I
mounted _au troisime_ to see this famous beauty. Another
disappointment--only the Chevalier Strong and a friend of his in the
room: so we came away, after all, without seeing the enchanting Fanny.

"'_Je t'envoie mille et mille baisers_. When will that horrid
canvassing be over? Sleeves are worn, &c. &c. &c.'"

After dinner the doctor was reading the _Times_, "A young gentleman I
attended when he was here some eight or nine years ago, has come into
a fine fortune," the doctor said. "I see here announced the death of
John Henry Foker, Esq., of Logwood Hall, at Pau, in the Pyrenees, on
the 15th ult."

CHAPTER XXIX.

IN WHICH THE MAJOR IS BIDDEN TO STAND AND DELIVER.

[Illustration]

Any gentleman who has frequented the Wheel of Fortune public-house,
where it may be remembered that Mr. James Morgan's Club was held, and
where Sir Francis Clavering had an interview with Major Pendennis, is
aware that there are three rooms for guests upon the ground floor,
besides the bar where the landlady sits. One is a parlor frequented by
the public at large; to another room gentlemen in livery resort; and
the third apartment, on the door of which "Private" is painted, is
that hired by the Club of "The Confidentials," of which Messrs. Morgan
and Lightfoot were members.

The noiseless Morgan had listened to the conversation between Strong
and Major Pendennis at the latter's own lodgings, and had carried away
from it matter for much private speculation; and a desire of knowledge
had led him to follow his master when the major came to the Wheel of
Fortune, and to take his place quietly in the confidential room, while
Pendennis and Clavering had their discourse in the parlor. There was a
particular corner in the confidential room from which you could hear
almost all that passed in the next apartment; and as the conversation
between the two gentlemen there was rather angry, and carried on in a
high key, Morgan had the benefit of overhearing almost the whole of
it: and what he heard, strengthened the conclusions which his mind had
previously formed.

"He knew Altamont at once, did he, when he saw him in Sidney?
Clavering ain't no more married to my lady than I am! Altamont's the
man: Altamont's a convick; young Harthur comes into Parlyment, and the
Gov'nor promises not to split. By Jove, what a sly old rogue it is,
that old Gov'nor! No wonder he's anxious to make the match between
Blanche and Harthur; why, she'll have a hundred thousand if she's a
penny, and bring her man a seat in Parlyment into the bargain." Nobody
saw, but a physiognomist would have liked to behold, the expression of
Mr. Morgan's countenance, when this astounding intelligence was made
clear to him. "But for my hage, and the confounded prejudices of
society," he said, surveying himself in the glass, "dammy, James
Morgan, you might marry her yourself," But if he could not marry Miss
Blanche and her fortune, Morgan thought he could mend his own by the
possession of this information, and that it might be productive of
benefit to him from very many sources. Of all the persons whom the
secret affected, the greater number would not like to have it known.
For instance, Sir Francis Clavering, whose fortune it involved, would
wish to keep it quiet; Colonel Altamont, whose neck it implicated,
would naturally be desirous to hush it; and that young hupstart beast,
Mr. Harthur, who was for gettin' into Parlyment on the strenth of it,
and was as proud as if he was a duke with half a million a year (such,
we grieve to say, was Morgan's opinion of his employer's nephew),
would pay any think sooner than let the world know that he was married
to a convick's daughter, and had got his seat in Parlyment by
trafficking with this secret. As for Lady C., Morgan thought, if she's
tired of Clavering, and wants to get rid of him, she'll pay: if she's
frightened about her son, and fond of the little beggar, she'll pay
all the same: and Miss Blanche will certainly come down handsome to
the man who will put her into her rights, which she was unjustly
defrauded of them, and no mistake. "Dammy," concluded the valet,
reflecting upon this wonderful hand which luck had given him to play,
"with such cards as these, James Morgan, you are a made man. It may be
a reg'lar enewity to me. Every one of 'em must susscribe. And with
what I've made already, I may cut business, give my old Gov'nor
warning, turn gentleman, and have a servant of my own, begad."
Entertaining himself with calculations such as these, that were not a
little likely to perturb a man's spirit, Mr. Morgan showed a very
great degree of self-command by appearing and being calm, and by not
allowing his future prospects in any way to interfere with his
present duties.

One of the persons whom the story chiefly concerned, Colonel Altamont,
was absent from London, when Morgan was thus made acquainted with his
history. The valet knew of Sir Francis Clavering's Shepherd's Inn
haunt, and walked thither an hour or two after the baronet and
Pendennis had had their conversation together. But that bird was
flown; Colonel Altamont had received his Derby winnings and was gone
to the Continent. The fact of his absence was exceedingly vexatious to
Mr. Morgan. "He'll drop all that money at the gambling-shops on the
Rhind," thought Morgan, "and I might have had a good bit of it. It's
confounded annoying to think he's gone and couldn't have waited a few
days longer." Hope, triumphant or deferred, ambition or
disappointment, victory or patient ambush, Morgan bore all alike, with
similar equable countenance. Until the proper day came, the major's
boots were varnished and his hair was curled, his early cup of tea was
brought to his bedside, his oaths, rebukes, and senile satire borne,
with silent, obsequious fidelity. Who would think, to see him waiting
upon his master, packing and shouldering his trunks, and occasionally
assisting at table, at the country-houses where he might be staying,
that Morgan was richer than his employer, and knew his secrets and
other people's? In the profession Mr. Morgan was greatly respected and
admired, and his reputation for wealth and wisdom got him much renown
at most supper-tables: the younger gentlemen voted him stoopid, a
feller of no idears, and a fogey, in a word: but not one of them would
not say amen to the heartfelt prayer which some of the most
serious-minded among the gentlemen uttered, "When I die may I cut up
as well as Morgan Pendennis!"

As became a man of fashion, Major Pendennis spent the autumn passing
from house to house of such country friends as were at home to receive
him, and if the duke happened to be abroad, or the marquis in
Scotland, condescending to sojourn with Sir John or the plain squire.
To say the truth, the old gentleman's reputation was somewhat on the
wane: many of the men of his time had died out, and the occupants of
their halls and the present wearers of their titles knew not Major
Pendennis: and little cared for his traditions "of the wild Prince and
Poyns," and of the heroes of fashion passed away. It must have struck
the good man with melancholy as he walked by many a London door, to
think how seldom it was now opened for him, and how often he used to
knock at it--to what banquets and welcome he used to pass through
it--a score of years back. He began to own that he was no longer of
the present age, and dimly to apprehend that the young men laughed at
him. Such melancholy musings must come across many a Pall Mall
philosopher. The men, thinks he, are not such as they used to be in
his time: the old grand manner and courtly grace of life are gone:
what is Castlewood House and the present Castlewood, compared to the
magnificence of the old mansion and owner? The late lord came to
London with four post-chaises and sixteen horses: all the North Road
hurried out to look at his cavalcade: the people in London streets
even stopped as his procession passed them. The present lord travels
with five bagmen in a railway carriage, and sneaks away from the
station, smoking a cigar in a brougham. The late lord in autumn filled
Castlewood with company, who drank claret till midnight: the present
man buries himself in a hut on a Scotch mountain, and passes November
in two or three closets in an entresol at Paris, where his amusements
are a dinner at a caf and a box at a little theatre. What a contrast
there is between _his_ Lady Lorraine, the Regent's Lady Lorraine, and
her little ladyship of the present era! He figures to himself the
first, beautiful, gorgeous, magnificent in diamonds and velvets,
daring in rouge, the wits of the world (the old wits, the old polished
gentlemen--not the _canaille_ of to-day with their language of the
cab-stand, and their coats smelling of smoke) bowing at her feet; and
then thinks of to-day's Lady Lorraine--a little woman in a black silk
gown, like a governess, who talks astronomy, and laboring classes, and
emigration, and the deuce knows what, and lurks to church at eight
o'clock in the morning. Abbots-Lorraine, that used to be the noblest
house in the county, is turned into a monastery--a regular La Trappe.
They don't drink two glasses of wine after dinner, and every other man
at table is a country curate, with a white neckcloth, whose talk is
about Polly Higson's progress at school, or widow Watkins's lumbago.
"And the other young men, those lounging guardsmen and great lazy
dandies--sprawling over sofas and billiard-tables, and stealing off
to smoke pipes in each other's bedrooms, caring for nothing,
reverencing nothing, not even an old gentleman who has known their
fathers and their betters, not even a pretty woman--what a difference
there is between these men who poison the very turnips and
stubble-fields with their tobacco, and the gentlemen of our time!"
thinks the major; "the breed is gone--there's no use for 'em; they're
replaced by a parcel of damned cotton-spinners and utilitarians, and
young sprigs of parsons with their hair combed down their backs. I'm
getting old: they're getting past me: they laugh at us old boys,"
thought old Pendennis. And he was not far wrong; the times and manners
which he admired were pretty nearly gone--the gay young men 'larked'
him irreverently, while the serious youth had a grave pity and wonder
at him, which would have been even more painful to bear, had the old
gentleman been aware of its extent. But he was rather simple: his
examination of moral questions had never been very deep; it had never
struck him perhaps, until very lately, that he was otherwise than a
most respectable and rather fortunate man. Is there no old age but his
without reverence? Did youthful folly never jeer at other bald pates?
For the past two or three years, he had begun to perceive that his day
was well nigh over, and that the men of the new time had begun
to reign.

After a rather unsuccessful autumn season, then, during which he was
faithfully followed by Mr. Morgan, his nephew Arthur being engaged, as
we have seen, at Clavering, it happened that Major Pendennis came back
for awhile to London, at the dismal end of October, when the fogs and
the lawyers come to town. Who has not looked with interest at those
loaded cabs, piled boxes, and crowded children, rattling through the
streets on the dun October evenings; stopping at the dark houses,
where they discharge nurse and infant, girls, matron, and father,
whose holidays are over? Yesterday it was France and sunshine, or
Broadstairs and liberty; to-day comes work and a yellow fog; and, ye
gods! what a heap of bills there lies in master's study. And the clerk
has brought the lawyer's papers from Chambers; and in half an hour the
literary man knows that the printer's boy will be in the passage; and
Mr. Smith with that little account (that particular little account)
has called presentient of your arrival, and has left word that he will
call to-morrow morning at ten. Who among us has not said good-by to
his holiday; returned to dun London, and his fate; surveyed his labors
and liabilities laid out before him, and been aware of that inevitable
little account to settle? Smith and his little account, in the
morning, symbolize duty, difficulty, struggle, which you will meet,
let us hope, friend, with a manly and honest heart. And you think of
him, as the children are slumbering once more in their own beds, and
the watchful housewife tenderly pretends to sleep.

Old Pendennis had no special labors or bills to encounter on the
morrow, as he had no affection at home to soothe him. He had always
money in his desk sufficient for his wants; and being by nature and
habit tolerably indifferent to the wants of other people, these latter
were not likely to disturb him. But a gentleman may be out of temper
though he does not owe a shilling: and though he may be ever so
selfish, he must occasionally feel dispirited and lonely. He had had
two or three twinges of gout in the country-house where he had been
staying: the birds were wild and shy, and the walking over the plowed
fields had fatigued him deucedly: the young men had laughed at him,
and he had been peevish at table once or twice: he had not been able
to get his whist of an evening: and, in fine, was glad to come away.
In all his dealings with Morgan, his valet, he had been exceedingly
sulky and discontented. He had sworn at him and abused him for many
days past. He had scalded his mouth with bad soup at Swindon. He had
left his umbrella in the rail-road carriage: at which piece of
forgetfulness, he was in such a rage, that he cursed Morgan more
freely than ever. Both the chimneys smoked furiously in his lodgings;
and when he caused the windows to be flung open, he swore so
acrimoniously, that Morgan was inclined to fling him out of window,
too, through that opened casement. The valet swore after his master,
as Pendennis went down the street on his way to the Club.

Bays's was not at all pleasant. The house had been new painted, and
smelt of varnish and turpentine, and a large streak of white paint
inflicted itself on the back of the old boy's fur-collared surtout.
The dinner was not good: and the three most odious men in all London--
old Hawkshaw, whose cough and accompaniments are fit to make any man
uncomfortable; old Colonel Gripley, who seizes on all the newspapers;
and that irreclaimable old bore Jawkins, who would come and dine at
the next table to Pendennis, and describe to him every inn-bill which
he had paid in his foreign tour: each and all of these disagreeable
personages and incidents had contributed to make Major Pendennis
miserable; and the Club waiter trod on his toe as he brought him his
coffee. Never alone appear the Immortals. The Furies always hunt in
company: they pursued Pendennis from home to the Club, and from the
Club home.

While the major was absent from his lodgings, Morgan had been seated
in the landlady's parlor, drinking freely of hot brandy-and-water,
and pouring out on Mrs. Brixham some of the abuse which he had
received from his master up-stairs. Mrs. Brixham was Morgan's slave.
He was his landlady's landlord. He had bought the lease of the house
which she rented; he had got her name and her son's to acceptances,
and a bill of sale which made him master of the luckless widow's
furniture. The young Brixham was a clerk in an insurance office, and
Morgan could put him into what he called quod any day. Mrs. Brixham
was a clergyman's widow, and Mr. Morgan, after performing his duties
on the first floor, had a pleasure in making the old lady fetch him
his boot-jack and his slippers. She was his slave. The little black
profiles of her son and daughter; the very picture of Tiddlecot
church, where she was married, and her poor dear Brixham lived and
died, was now Morgan's property, as it hung there over the
mantle-piece of his back-parlor. Morgan sate in the widow's back-room,
in the ex-curate's old horse-hair study-chair, making Mrs. Brixham
bring supper for him, and fill his glass again and again.

The liquor was bought with the poor woman's own coin, and hence Morgan
indulged in it only the more freely; and he had eaten his supper and
was drinking a third tumbler, when old Pendennis returned from the
Club, and went up-stairs to his rooms. Mr. Morgan swore very savagely
at him and his bell, when he heard the latter, and finished his
tumbler of brandy before he went up to answer the summons.

He received the abuse consequent on this delay in silence, nor did the
major condescend to read in the flushed face and glaring eyes of the
man, the anger under which he was laboring. The old gentleman's
foot-bath was at the fire; his gown and slippers awaiting him there.
Morgan knelt down to take his boots off with due subordination: and as
the major abused him from above, kept up a growl of maledictions below
at his feet. Thus, when Pendennis was crying "Confound you, sir; mind
that strap--curse you, don't wrench my foot off," Morgan _sotto voce_
below was expressing a wish to strangle him, drown him, and punch
his head off.

The boots removed, it became necessary to divest Mr. Pendennis of his
coat: and for this purpose the valet had necessarily to approach very
near to his employer; so near that Pendennis could not but perceive
what Mr. Morgan's late occupation had been; to which he adverted in
that simple and forcible phraseology which men are sometimes in the
habit of using to their domestics; informing Morgan that he was a
drunken beast, and that he smelt of brandy.

At this the man broke out, losing patience, and flinging up all
subordination? "I'm drunk, am I? I'm a beast, am I? I'm d----d, am I?
you infernal old miscreant. Shall I wring your old head off, and
drownd yer in that pail of water? Do you think I'm a-goin' to bear
your confounded old harrogance, you old Wigsby! Chatter your old
hivories at me, do you, you grinning old baboon! Come on, if you are a
man, and can stand to a man. Ha! you coward, knives, knives!"

"If you advance a step, I'll send it into you," said the major,
seizing up a knife that was on the table near him. "Go down stairs,
you drunken brute, and leave the house; send for your book and your
wages in the morning, and never let me see your insolent face again.
This d----d impertinence of yours has been growing for some months
past. You have been growing too rich. You are not fit for service. Get
out of it, and out of the house."

"And where would you wish me to go, pray, out of the ouse?" asked the
man, "and won't it be equal convenient to-morrow mornin'?--_tooty-fay
mame shose, sivvaplay, munseer?_"

"Silence, you beast, and go!" cried out the major.

[Illustration]

Morgan began to laugh, with rather a sinister laugh. "Look yere,
Pendennis," he said, seating himself; "since I've been in this room
you've called me beast, brute, dog: and d----d me, haven't you? How do
you suppose one man likes that sort of talk from another? How many
years have I waited on you, and how many damns and cusses have you
given me, along with my wages? Do you think a man's a dog, that you
can talk to him in this way? If I choose to drink a little, why
shouldn't I? I've seen many a gentleman drunk formly, and peraps have
the abit from them. I ain't a-goin' to leave this house, old feller,
and shall I tell you why? The house is my house, every stick of
furnitur' in it is mine, excep' _your_ old traps, and your
shower-bath, and your wig-box. I've bought the place, I tell you, with
my own industry and perseverance. I can show a hundred pound, where
you can show a fifty, or your damned supersellious nephew either. I've
served you honorable, done every thing for you these dozen years, and
I'm a dog, am I? I'm a beast, am I? That's the language for gentlemen,
not for our rank. But I'll bear it no more. I throw up your service;
I'm tired on it; I've combed your old wig and buckled your old girths
and waistbands long enough, I tell you. Don't look savage at me, I'm
sitting in my own chair, in my own room, a-telling the truth to
you. I'll be your beast, and your brute, and your dog, no more, Major
Pendennis AlfPay."

The fury of the old gentleman, met by the servant's abrupt revolt, had
been shocked and cooled by the concussion, as much as if a sudden
shower-bath or a pail of cold water had been flung upon him. That
effect produced, and his anger calmed, Morgan's speech had interested
him, and he rather respected his adversary, and his courage in facing
him, as of old days, in the fencing-room, he would have admired the
opponent who hit him.

"You are no longer my servant," the major said, "and the house may be
yours; but the lodgings are mine, and you will have the goodness to
leave them. To-morrow morning, when we have settled our accounts, I
shall remove into other quarters. In the mean time, I desire to go to
bed, and have not the slightest wish for your farther company."

"_We'll_ have a settlement, don't you be afraid," Morgan said, getting
up from his chair. "I ain't done with you yet; nor with your family,
nor with the Clavering family, Major Pendennis; and that you
shall know."

"Have the goodness to leave the room, sir;--I'm tired," said the
major.

"Hah! you'll be more tired of me afore you've done," answered the man,
with a sneer, and walked out of the room; leaving the major to compose
himself, as best he might, after the agitation of this extraordinary
scene.

He sate and mused by his fire-side over the past events, and the
confounded impudence and ingratitude of servants; and thought how he
should get a new man: how devilish unpleasant it was for a man of his
age, and with his habits, to part with a fellow to whom he had been
accustomed: how Morgan had a receipt for boot-varnish, which was
incomparably better and more comfortable to the feet than any he had
ever tried; how very well he made mutton-broth, and tended him when he
was unwell. "Gad, it's a hard thine: to lose a fellow of that sort:
but he must go," thought the major. "He has grown rich, and impudent
since he has grown rich. He was horribly tipsy and abusive tonight. We
must part, and I must go out of the lodgings. Dammy, I like the
lodgings; I'm used to 'em. It's very unpleasant, at my time of life,
to change my quarters." And so on, mused the old gentleman. The
shower-bath had done him good: the testiness was gone: the loss of the
umbrella, the smell of paint at the Club, were forgotten under the
superior excitement. "Confound the insolent villain!" thought the old
gentleman. "He understood my wants to a nicety: he was the best
servant in England." He thought about his servant as a man thinks of a
horse that has carried him long and well, and that has come down with
him, and is safe no longer. How the deuce to replace him? Where can he
get such another animal?

In these melancholy cogitations the major, who had donned his own
dressing gown and replaced his head of hair (a little gray had been
introduced into the _coiffure_ of late by Mr. Truefitt, which had
given the major's head the most artless and respectable appearance);
in these cogitations, we say, the major, who had taken off his wig and
put on his night-handkerchief, sate absorbed by the fire-side, when a
feeble knock came at his door, which was presently opened by the
landlady of the lodgings.

"God bless my soul, Mrs. Brixham!" cried out the major, startled that
a lady should behold him in the _simple appareil_ of his night-toilet.
"It--it's very late, Mrs. Brixham."

[Illustration]

"I wish I might speak to you, sir," said the landlady, very piteously.
"About Morgan, I suppose? He has cooled himself at the pump. Can't
take him back, Mrs. Brixham. Impossible. I'd determined to part with
him before, when I heard of his dealings in the discount business--I
suppose you've heard of them, Mrs. Brixham? My servant's a
capitalist, begad."

"O sir," said Mrs. Brixham, "I know it to my cost. I borrowed from him
a little money five years ago; and though I have paid him many times
over, I am entirely in his power. I am ruined by him, sir. Every thing
I had is his. He's a dreadful man." "Eh, Mrs. Brixham? _tant
pis_--dev'lish sorry for you, and that I must quit your house after
lodging here so long: there's no help for it. I must go."

"He says we must all go, sir," sobbed out the luckless widow. "He came
down stairs from you just now--he had been drinking, and it always
makes him very wicked--and he said that you had insulted him, sir, and
treated him like a dog, and spoken to him unkindly; and he swore he
would be revenged, and--and I owe him a hundred and twenty pounds,
sir--and he has a bill of sale of all my furniture--and says he will
turn me out of my house, and send my poor George to prison. He has
been the ruin of my family, that man."

"Dev'lish sorry, Mrs. Brixham; pray take a chair. What can I do?"

"Could you not intercede with him for us? George will give half his
allowance; my daughter can send something. If you will but stay on,
sir, and pay a quarter's rent in advance--"

"My good madam, I would as soon give you a quarter in advance as not,
if I were going to stay in the lodgings. But I can't; and I can't
afford to fling away twenty pounds, my good madam. I'm a poor half-pay
officer, and want every shilling I have, begad. As far as a few pounds
goes--say five pounds--I don't say--and shall be most happy, and that
sort of thing: and I'll give it you in the morning with pleasure:
but--but it's getting late, and I have made a railroad journey."

"God's will be done, sir," said the poor woman, drying her tears. "I
must bear my fate."

"And a dev'lish hard one it is, and most sincerely I pity you, Mrs.
Brixham. I--I'll say ten pounds, if you will permit me. Good night."

"Mr. Morgan, sir, when he came down stairs, and when--when I besought
him to have pity on me, and told him he had been the ruin of my
family, said something which I did not well understand--that he would
ruin every family in the house--that he knew something would bring you
down too--and that you should pay him for your--your insolence to him.
I--I must own to you, that I went down on my knees to him, sir; and he
said, with a dreadful oath against you, that he would have you on
your knees."

"Me?--by Gad, that is too pleasant! Where is the confounded fellow?"

"He went away, sir. He said he should see you in the morning. O, pray
try and pacify him, and save me and my poor boy." And the widow went
away with this prayer, to pass her night as she might, and look for
the dreadful morrow.

The last words about himself excited Major Pendennis so much, that his
compassion for Mrs. Brixham's misfortunes was quite forgotten in the
consideration of his own case.

"Me on my knees?" thought he, as he got into bed: "confound his
impudence. Who ever saw me on my knees? What the devil does the fellow
know? Gad, I've not had an affair these twenty years. I defy him." And
the old campaigner turned round and slept pretty sound, being rather
excited and amused by the events of the day--the last day in
Bury-street, he was determined it should be. "For it's impossible to
stay on with a valet over me and a bankrupt landlady. What good can I
do this poor devil of a woman? I'll give her twenty pound--there's
Warrington's twenty pound, which he has just paid--but what's the
use? She'll want more, and more, and more, and that cormorant Morgan
will swallow all. No, dammy, I can't afford to know poor people; and
to-morrow I'll say good-by--to Mrs. Brixham and Mr. Morgan."

CHAPTER XXX.

IN WHICH THE MAJOR NEITHER YIELDS HIS MONEY NOR HIS LIFE.

[Illustration]

Early next morning Pendennis's shutters were opened by Morgan, who
appeared as usual, with a face perfectly grave and respectful, bearing
with him the old gentleman's clothes, cans of water, and elaborate
toilet requisites.

"It's you, is it?" said the old fellow from his bed. "I shan't take
you back again, you understand."

"I ave not the least wish to be took back agin, Major Pendennis," Mr.
Morgan said, with grave dignity, "nor to serve you nor hany man. But
as I wish you to be comftable as long as you stay in my house, I came
up to do what's nessary." And once more, and for the last time, Mr.
James Morgan laid out the silver dressing-case, and strapped the
shining razor.

These offices concluded, he addressed himself to the major with an
indescribable solemnity, and said: "Thinkin' that you would most
likely be in want of a respectable pusson, until you suited yourself,
I spoke to a young man last night, who is 'ere."

"Indeed," said the warrior in the tent-bed.

"He ave lived in the fust families, and I can vouch for his
respectability."

"You are monstrous polite," grinned the old major. And the truth is
that after the occurrences of the previous evening, Morgan had gone
out to his own Club at the Wheel of Fortune, and there finding Frosch,
a courier and valet just returned from a foreign tour with young Lord
Cubley, and for the present disposable, had represented to Mr.
Frosch, that he, Morgan, had "a devil of a blow hup with his own
Gov'ner and was goin' to retire from the business haltogether, and
that if Frosch wanted a tempory job, he might probbly have it by
applying in Bury street."

"You are very polite," said the major, "and your recommendation, I am
sure, will have every weight."

Morgan blushed, he felt his master was "a-chaffin' of him." "The man
have waited on you before, sir," he said with great dignity. "Lord De
la Pole, sir, gave him to his nephew young Lord Cubley, and he have
been with him on his foring tour, and not wishing to go to Fitzurse
Castle, which Frosch's chest is delicate, and he can not bear the cold
in Scotland, he is free to serve you or not, as you choose."

"I repeat, sir, that you are exceedingly polite," said the major.
"Come in, Frosch--you will do very well--Mr. Morgan, will you have the
great kindness to--"

"I shall show him what is nessary, sir, and what is customry for you
to wish to ave done. Will you please to take breakfast 'ere or at the
Club, Major Pendennis?"

"With your kind permission, I will breakfast here, and afterward we
will make our little arrangements."

"If you please, sir."

"Will you now oblige me by leaving the room?"

Morgan withdrew; the excessive politeness of his ex-employer made him
almost as angry as the major's bitterest words. And while the old
gentleman is making his mysterious toilet, we will also
modestly retire.

After breakfast, Major Pendennis and his new aid-de-camp occupied
themselves in preparing for their departure. The establishment of the
old bachelor was not very complicated. He encumbered himself with no
useless wardrobe. A Bible (his mother's), a road-book, Pen's novel
(calf elegant), and the Duke of Wellington's Dispatches, with a few
prints, maps, and portraits of that illustrious general, and of
various sovereigns and consorts of this country, and of the general
under whom Major Pendennis had served in India, formed his literary
and artistical collection; he was always ready to march at a few
hours' notice, and the cases in which he had brought his property into
his lodgings some fifteen years before, were still in the lofts amply
sufficient to receive all his goods. These, the young woman who did
the work of the house, and who was known by the name of Betty to her
mistress, and of 'Slavey' to Mr. Morgan, brought down from their
resting place, and obediently dusted and cleaned under the eyes of the
terrible Morgan. His demeanor was guarded and solemn; he had spoken no
word as yet to Mrs. Brixham respecting his threats of the past night,
but he looked as if he would execute them, and the poor widow
tremblingly awaited her fate.

Old Pendennis, armed with his cane, superintended the package of his
goods and chattels under the hands of Mr. Frosch, and the Slavey
burned such of his papers as he did not care to keep; flung open
doors and closets until they were all empty; and now all boxes and
chests were closed, except his desk, which was ready to receive the
final accounts of Mr. Morgan.

That individual now made his appearance, and brought his books. "As I
wish to speak to you in privick, peraps you will ave the kindness to
request Frosch to step down stairs," he said, on entering.

"Bring a couple of cabs, Frosch, if you please--and wait down stairs
until I ring for you," said the major. Morgan saw Frosch down stairs,
watched him go along the street upon his errand and produced his books
and accounts, which were simple and very easily settled.

"And now, sir," said he, having pocketed the check which his
ex-employer gave him, and signed his name to his book with a flourish,
"and now that accounts is closed between us, sir," he said, "I porpose
to speak to you as one man to another" (Morgan liked the sound of his
own voice; and, as an individual, indulged in public speaking whenever
he could get an opportunity, at the Club, or the housekeeper's room),
"and I must tell you, that I'm in _possussion of certing
information._"

"And may I inquire of what nature, pray?" asked the major.

"It's valuble information, Major Pendennis, as you know very well I
know of a marriage as is no marriage--of a honorable baronet as is no
more married than I am; and which his wife is married to somebody
else, as you know too, sir."

Pendennis at once understood all. "Ha! this accounts for your
behavior. You have been listening at the door, sir, I suppose," said
the major, looking very haughty; "I forgot to look at the key-hole
when I went to that public-house, or I might have suspected what sort
of person was behind it."

"I may have my schemes as you may have yours, I suppose," answered
Morgan. "I may get my information, and I may act on that information,
and I may find that information valuble as any body else may. A poor
servant may have a bit of luck as well as a gentleman, mayn't he?
Don't you be putting on your aughty looks, sir, and comin' the
aristocrat over me. That's all gammon with me. I'm an Englishman, I
am, and as good as you."

"To what the devil does this tend, sir? and how does the secret which

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