Part 9 out of 9
late. If I can not have emotions, I must have the world. You would
offer me neither one nor the other. You are _blasé_ in every thing,
even in ambition. You had a career before you, and you would not take
it. You give it up!--for what?--for a _bétise_, for an absurd
scruple. Why would you not have that seat, and be such a _puritain_?
Why should you refuse what is mine by right, _entendez-vous_?"
"You know all then?" said Pen.
"Only within a month. But I have suspected ever since Baymouth
--_n'importe_ since when. It is not too late. He is as if he had never
been; and there is a position in the world before you yet. Why not sit
in Parliament, exert your talent, and give a place in the world to
yourself, to your wife? I take _celui-là. Il est bon. 1l est riche.
Il est--vous le connaissez autant que moi enfin._ Think you that I
would not prefer _un homme, qui fera parler de moi?_ If the secret
appears I am rich _à millions._ How does it affect me? It is not my
fault. It will never appear."
"You will tell Harry every thing, won't you?"
_"Je comprends. Vous refusez"_ said Blanche, savagely. "I will tell
Harry at my own time, when we are married. You will not betray me,
will you? You, having a defenseless girl's secret, will not turn upon
her and use it? _S'il me plait de le cacher, mon secret; pourquoi le
donnerai-je? Je l'aime, mon pauvre père, voyez-vous?_ I would rather
live with that man than with you _fades_ intriguers of the world. I
must have emotions--_il m'en donne. Il m'écrit. Il écrit tres-bien,
voyez-vous--comme un pirate--comme un Bohémien--comme un homme._ But
for this I would have said to my mother--_Ma mère! quittons ce lâche
mari, cette lâche société--retournons à mon père._
"The pirate would have wearied you like the rest," said Pen.
_"Eh! Il me faut des émotions"_ said Blanche. Pen had never seen her
or known so much about her in all the years of their intimacy as he
saw and knew now: though he saw more than existed in reality. For this
young lady was not able to carry out any emotion to the full; but had
a sham enthusiasm, a sham hatred, a sham love, a sham taste, a sham
grief, each of which flared and shone very vehemently for an instant,
but subsided and gave place to the next sham emotion.
A CHAPTER OF MATCH-MAKING.
Upon the platform at Tunbridge, Pen fumed and fretted until the
arrival of the evening train to London, a full half-hour--six hours it
seemed to him: but even this immense interval was passed, the train
arrived, the train sped on, the London lights came in view--a
gentleman who forgot his carpet-bag in the train rushed at a cab, and
said to the man, "Drive as hard as you can go to Jermyn-street." The
cabman, although a Hansom cabman, said thank you for the gratuity
which was put into his hand, and Pen ran up the stairs of the hotel to
Lady Rockminster's apartments. Laura was alone in the drawing-room,
reading, with a pale face, by the lamp. The pale face looked up when
Pen opened the door. May we follow him? The great moments of life are
but moments like the others. Your doom is spoken in a word or two. A
single look from the eyes: a mere pressure of the hand may decide it;
or of the lips, though they can not speak.
When Lady Rockminster, who has had her after-dinner nap, gets up and
goes into her sitting-room, we may enter with her ladyship.
"Upon my word, young people!" are the first words she says, and her
attendant makes wondering eyes over her shoulder. And well may she say
so; and well may the attendant cast wondering eyes; for the young
people are in an attitude; and Pen in such a position as every young
lady who reads this has heard tell of, or has seen, or hopes, or at
any rate deserves to see.
In a word, directly he entered the room, Pen went up to Laura of the
pale face, who had not time even to say, What, back so soon? and
seizing her outstretched and trembling hand just as she was rising
from her chair, fell down on his knees before her, and said quickly,
"I have seen her. She has engaged herself to Harry Foker--and--and
The hand gives a pressure--the eyes beam a reply--the quivering lips
answer, though speechless. Pen's head sinks down in the girl's lap, as
he sobs out, "Come and bless us, dear mother," and arms as tender as
Helen's once more enfold him.
In this juncture it is that Lady Rockminster comes in and says, "Upon
my word, young people! Beck! leave the room. What do _you_ want poking
your nose in here?"
Pen starts up with looks of triumph, still holding Laura's hand. "She
is consoling me for my misfortune, ma'am," he says.
"What do you mean by kissing her hand? I don't know what you will be
Pen kissed her ladyship's. "_I_ have been, to Tunbridge," he says,
"and seen Miss Amory; and find on my arrival that--that a villain has
supplanted me in her affections," he says with a tragedy air.
"Is that all? Is that what you were whimpering on your knees about?"
says the old lady, growing angry. "You might have kept the news till
"Yes--another has superseded me," goes on Pen; "but why call him
villain? He is brave, he is constant, he is young, he is wealthy, he
"What stuff are you talking, sir?" cried the old lady. "What has
"Miss Amory has jilted me, and accepted Henry Foker, Esq. I found her
warbling ditties to him as he lay at her feet; presents had been
accepted, vows exchanged, these ten days. Harry was old Mrs. Planter's
rheumatism, which kept dearest Laura out of the house. He is the most
constant and generous of men. He has promised the living of Logwood to
Lady Ann's husband, and given her a splendid present on her marriage;
and he rushed to fling himself at Blanche's feet the instant he found
he was free."
"And so, as you can't get Blanche, you put up with Laura, is that it,
sir?" asked the old lady.
"He acted nobly," Laura said.
"I acted as she bade me," said Pen. "Never mind how, Lady Rockminster;
but to the best of my knowledge and power. And if you mean that I am
not worthy of Laura, I know it, and pray Heaven to better me; and if
the love and company of the best and purest creature in the world can
do so, at least I shall have these to help me."
"Hm, hm," replied the old lady to this, looking with rather
an appeased air at the young people. "It is all very well; but I
should have preferred Bluebeard."
And now Pen, to divert the conversation from a theme which was growing
painful to some parties present, bethought him of his interview with
Huxter in the morning, and of Fanny Bolton's affairs, which he had
forgotten under the immediate pressure and excitement of his own. And
he told the ladies how Huxter had elevated Fanny to the rank of wife,
and what terrors he was in respecting the arrival of his father. He
described the scene with considerable humor, taking care to dwell
especially upon that part of it which concerned Fanny's coquetry and
irrepressible desire of captivating mankind; his meaning being "You
see, Laura, I was not so guilty in that little affair; it was the girl
who made love to me, and I who resisted. As I am no longer present,
the little siren practices her arts and fascinations upon others. Let
that transaction be forgotten in your mind, if you please; or visit me
with a very gentle punishment for my error."
Laura understood his meaning under the eagerness of his explanations.
"If you did any wrong, you repented, dear Pen," she said, "and you
know," she added, with meaning eyes and blushes, "that _I_ have no
right to reproach you."
"Hm!" grumbled the old lady; "I should have preferred Bluebeard."
"The past is broken away. The morrow is before us. I will do my best
to make your morrow happy, dear Laura," Pen said. His heart was
humbled by the prospect of his happiness: it stood awe-stricken in the
contemplation of her sweet goodness and purity. He liked his wife
better that she had owned to that passing feeling for Warrington, and
laid bare her generous heart to him. And she--very likely she was
thinking "How strange it is that I ever should have cared for another;
I am vexed almost to think I care for him so little, am so little
sorry that he is gone away. Oh, in these past two months how I have
learned to love Arthur. I care about nothing but Arthur; my waking and
sleeping thoughts are about him; he is never absent from me. And to
think that he is to be mine, mine! and that I am to marry him, and not
to be his servant as I expected to be only this morning; for I would
have gone down on my knees to Blanche to beg her to let me live with
him. And now--Oh, it is too much. Oh, mother! mother, that you were
here!" Indeed, she felt as if Helen were there--by her actually,
though invisibly. A halo of happiness beamed from her. She moved with
a different step, and bloomed with a new beauty. Arthur saw the
change; and the old Lady Rockminster remarked it with her shrewd eyes.
"What a sly, demure little wretch you have been," she whispered to
Laura--while Pen, in great spirits, was laughing, and telling his
story about Huxter--"and how you have kept your secret!"
"How are we to help the young couple?" said Laura. Of course Miss
Laura felt an interest in all young couples, as generous lovers always
love other lovers.
"We must go and see them," said Pen. "Of course we must go and see
them," said Laura. "I intend to be very fond of Fanny. Let us go this
instant. Lady Rockminster, may I have the carriage?"
"Go now!--why, you stupid creature, it is eleven o'clock at night. Mr.
and Mrs. Huxter have got their night-caps on, I daresay. And it is
time for you to go now. Good-night, Mr. Pendennis."
Arthur and Laura begged for ten minutes more.
"We will go to-morrow morning, then. I will come and fetch you with
"An earl's coronet," said Pen, who, no doubt, was pleased himself,
"will have a great effect in Lamb-court and Smithfield. Stay--Lady
Rockminster, will you join us in a little conspiracy?"
"How do you mean conspiracy, young man?"
"Will you please to be a little ill to-morrow; and when old Mr. Huxter
arrives, will you let me call him in? If he is put into a good humor
at the notion of attending a baronet in the country, what influence
won't a countess have on him? When he is softened--when he is quite
ripe, we will break the secret upon him; bring in the young people,
extort the paternal benediction, and finish the comedy."
"A parcel of stuff," said the old lady. "Take your hat, sir. Come
away, Miss. There--my head is turned another way. Good-night, young
people." And who knows but the old lady thought of her own early days
as she went away on Laura's arm, nodding her head and humming
With the early morning came Laura and Martha, according to
appointment; and the desired sensation was, let us hope, effected in
Lamb-court, whence the three proceeded to wait upon Mr. and Mrs.
Samuel Huxter, at their residence in Charterhouse-lane.
The two ladies looked at each other with great interest, and not a
little emotion on Fanny's part. She had not seen her "guardian," as
she was pleased to call Pen in consequence of his bequest, since the
event had occurred which had united her to Mr. Huxter.
"Samuel told me how kind you had been," she said. "You were always
very kind, Mr. Pendennis. And--and I hope your friend is better, who
was took ill in Shepherd's Inn, ma'am."
"My name is Laura," said the other, with a blush. "I am--that is, I
was--that is, I am Arthur's sister; and we shall always love you for
being so good to him when he was ill. And when we live in the country,
I hope we shall see each other. And I shall be always happy to hear of
your happiness, Fanny."
"We are going to do what you and Huxter have done, Fanny.--Where is
Huxter? What nice, snug lodgings you've got! What a pretty cat!"
While Fanny is answering these questions in reply to Pen, Laura says
to herself--"Well, now really! is _this_ the creature about whom we
were all so frightened? What _could_ he see in her? She's a homely
little thing, but such manners! Well, she was very kind to him--bless
her for that." Mr. Samuel had gone out to meet his pa. Mrs. Huxter
said that the old gentleman was to arrive that day at the Somerset
coffee-house, in the Strand; and Fanny confessed that she was in a sad
tremor about the meeting. "If his parents cast him off, what are we to
do?" she said. "I shall never pardon myself for bringing ruing on my
'usband's 'ead. You must intercede for us, Mr. Arthur. If mortal man
can, you can bend and influence Mr. Huxter senior." Fanny still
regarded Pen in the light of a superior being, that was evident. No
doubt Arthur thought of the past, as he marked the solemn little
tragedy-airs and looks, the little ways, the little trepidations,
vanities, of the little bride. As soon as the interview was over,
entered Messrs. Linton and Blades, who came, of course, to visit
Huxter, and brought with them a fine fragrance of tobacco. They had
watched the carriage at the baker's door, and remarked the coronet
with awe. They asked of Fanny who was that uncommonly heavy swell who
had just driven off? and pronounced the countess was of the right
sort. And when they heard that it was Mr. Pendennis and his sister,
they remarked that Pen's father was only a sawbones; and that he gave
himself confounded airs: they had been in Huxter's company on the
night of his little altercation with Pen in the Back Kitchen.
Returning homeward through Fleet-street, and as Laura was just stating
to Pen's infinite amusement that Fanny was very well, but that really
there was no beauty in her--there might be, but _she_ could not see
it--as they were locked near Temple-bar, they saw young Huxter
returning to his bride. "The governor had arrived; was at the Somerset
coffee-house--was in tolerable good humor--something about the
railway: but he had been afraid to speak about--about that business.
Would Mr. Pendennis try it on?"
Pen said he would go and call at that moment upon Mr. Huxter, and see
what might be done. Huxter junior would lurk outside while that awful
interview took place. The coronet on the carriage inspired his soul
also with wonder; and old Mr. Huxter himself beheld it with delight,
as he looked from the coffee-house window on that Strand, which it was
always a treat to him to survey.
"And I can afford to give myself a lark, sir," said Mr. Huxter,
shaking hands with Pen. "Of course you know the news? We have got our
bill, sir. We shall have our branch line--our shares are up, sir--and
we buy your three fields along the Brawl, and put a pretty penny into
_your_ pocket, Mr. Pendennis."
"Indeed! that was good news." Pen remembered that there was a letter
from Mr. Tatham, at Chambers, these three days; but he had not opened
the communication, being interested with other affairs.
"I hope you don't intend to grow rich, and give up practice," said
Pen. "We can't lose you at Clavering, Mr. Huxter; though I hear very
good accounts of your son. My friend, Dr. Goodenough, speaks most
highly of his talents. It is hard that a man of your eminence, though,
should be kept in a country town."
"The metropolis would have been my sphere of action, sir," said Mr.
Huxter, surveying the Strand. "But a man takes his business where he
finds it; and I succeeded to that of my father."
"It was my father's, too," said Pen. "I sometimes wish I had followed
"You, sir, have taken a more lofty career," said the old gentleman.
"You aspire to the senate: and to literary honors. You wield the
poet's pen, sir, and move in the circles of fashion. We keep an eye
upon you at Clavering. We read your name in the lists of the select
parties of the nobility. Why, it was only the other day that my wife
was remarking how odd it was that at a party at the Earl of
Kidderminster's your name was _not_ mentioned. To what member of the
aristocracy may I ask does that equipage belong from which I saw you
descend? The Countess Dowager of Rockminster? How is her ladyship?"
"Her ladyship is not very well; and when I heard that you were coming
to town, I strongly urged her to see you, Mr. Huxter," Pen said. Old
Huxter felt, if he had a hundred votes for Clavering, he would give
them all to Pen.
"There is an old friend of yours in the carriage--a Clavering lady,
too--will you come out and speak to her?" asked Pen. The old surgeon
was delighted to speak to a coroneted carriage in the midst of the
full Strand: he ran out bowing and smiling. Huxter junior, dodging
about the district, beheld the meeting between his father and Laura,
saw the latter put out her hand, and presently, after a little
colloquy with Pen, beheld his father actually jump into the carriage,
and drive away with Miss Bell.
There was no room for Arthur, who came back, laughing, to the young
surgeon, and told him whither his parent was bound. During the whole
of the journey, that artful Laura coaxed and wheedled, and cajoled him
so adroitly, that the old gentleman would have granted her any thing;
and Lady Rockminster achieved the victory over him by complimenting
him on his skill, and professing her anxiety to consult him. What were
her ladyship's symptoms? Should he meet her ladyship's usual medical
attendant? Mr. Jones was called out of town? He should be delighted to
devote his very best energies and experience to her ladyship's service.
He was so charmed with his patient, that he wrote home about her to
his wife and family; he talked of nothing but Lady Rockminster to
Samuel, when that youth came to partake of beef-steak and oyster-sauce
and accompany his parent to the play. There was a simple grandeur, a
polite urbanity, a high-bred grace about her ladyship, which he had
never witnessed in any woman. Her symptoms did not seem alarming; he
had prescribed--Spir:Ammon:Aromat: with a little Spir:Menth:Pip:
and orange-flower, which would be all that was necessary.
"Miss Bell seemed to be on the most confidential and affectionate
footing with her ladyship. She was about to form a matrimonial
connection. All young people ought to marry. Such were her ladyship's
words: and the countess condescended to ask respecting my own family,
and I mentioned you by name to her ladyship, Sam, my boy. I shall look
in to-morrow, when, if the remedies which I have prescribed for her
ladyship have had the effect which I anticipate, I shall probably
follow them up by a little Spir: Lavend: Comp:--and so set my noble
patient up. What is the theater which is most frequented by the--by
the higher classes in town, hey, Sam? and to what amusement will you
take an old country doctor to-night, hey, sir?"
On the next day, when Mr. Huxter called in Jermyn-street at twelve
o'clock, Lady Rockminster had not yet left her room, but Miss Bell and
Mr. Pendennis were in waiting to receive him. Lady Rockminster had
had a most comfortable night, and was getting on as well as possible.
How had Mr. Huxter amused himself? at the theater? with his son? What
a capital piece it was, and how charming Mrs. O'Leary looked and sang
it! and what a good fellow young Huxter was! liked by every body, an
honor to his profession. He has not his father's manners, I grant you,
or that old-world tone which is passing away from us, but a more
excellent, sterling fellow never lived. "He ought to practice in the
country whatever you do, sir," said Arthur, "he ought to marry--other
people are going to do so--and settle."
"The very words that her ladyship used yesterday, Mr. Pendennis He
ought to marry. Sam should marry, sir."
"The town is full of temptations, sir," continued Pen. The old
gentleman thought of that houri, Mrs. O'Leary.
"There is no better safeguard for a young man than an early marriage
with an honest affectionate creature."
"No better, sir, no better."
"And love is better than money, isn't it?"
"Indeed it is," said Miss Bell.
"I agree with so fair an authority," said the old gentleman with a
"And--and suppose, sir," Pen said, "that I had a piece of news to
communicate to you."
"God bless my soul, Mr. Pendennis! what do you mean?" asked the old
"Suppose I had to tell you that a young man carried away by an
irresistible passion for an admirable and most virtuous young
creature--whom every body falls in love with--had consulted the
dictates of reason and his heart, and had married. Suppose I were to
tell you that that man is my friend; that our excellent, our truly
noble friend the Countess Dowager of Rockminster is truly interested
about him (and you may fancy what a young man can do in life when THAT
family is interested for him); suppose I were to tell you that you
know him--that he is here--that he is--"
"Sam, married! God bless my soul, sir, you don't mean that!"
"And to such a nice creature, dear Mr. Huxter."
"His lordship is charmed with her," said Pen, telling almost the first
fib which he has told in the course of this story.
"Married! the rascal, is he?" thought the old gentleman. "They will do
it, sir," said Pen; and went and opened the door. Mr. and Mrs. Samuel
Huxter issued thence, and both came and knelt down before the old
gentleman. The kneeling little Fanny found favor in his sight. There
_must_ have been something attractive about her, in spite of
"Will never do so any more, sir," said Sam.
"Get up, sir," said Mr. Huxter. And they got up, and Fanny came a
little nearer and a little nearer still, and looked so pretty and
pitiful, that somehow Mr. Huxter found himself kissing the little
crying-laughing thing, and feeling as if he liked it.
"What's your name, my dear?" he said, after a minute of this sport.
"Fanny, papa," said Mrs. Samuel.
Our characters are all a month older than they
were when the last-described adventures and conversations occurred,
and a great number of the personages of our story have chanced to
re-assemble at the little country town where we were first introduced
to them. Frederic Lightfoot, formerly _maître d'hôtel_ in the service
of Sir Francis Clavering, of Clavering Park, Bart., has begged leave
to inform the nobility and gentry of----shire that he has taken that
well-known and comfortable hotel, the Clavering Arms, in Clavering,
where he hopes for the continued patronage of the gentlemen and
families of the county. "This ancient and well-established house," Mr.
Lightfoot's manifesto states, "has been repaired and decorated in a
style of the greatest comfort. Gentlemen hunting with the
Dumplingbeare hounds will find excellent stabling and loose boxes for
horses at the Clavering Arms. A commodious billiard-room has been
attached to the hotel, and the cellars have been furnished with the
choicest wines and spirits, selected, without regard to expense, by
C.L. Commercial gentlemen will find the Clavering Arms a most
comfortable place of resort: and the scale of charges has been
regulated for all, so as to meet the economical spirit of the
Indeed, there is a considerable air of liveliness about the old inn.
The Clavering Arms have been splendidly repainted over the gate-way.
The coffee-room windows are bright and fresh, and decorated with
Christmas holly; the magistrates have met in petty sessions in the
card-room of the old Assembly. The farmers' ordinary is held as
of old, and frequented by increased numbers, who are pleased with Mrs.
Lightfoot's _cuisine_. Her Indian curries and Mulligatawny soup are
especially popular: Major Stokes, the respected tenant of Fairoaks
Cottage, Captain Glanders, H. P., and other resident gentry, have
pronounced in their favor, and have partaken of them more than once,
both in private and at the dinner of the Clavering Institute,
attendant on the incorporation of the reading-room, and when the chief
inhabitants of that flourishing little town met together and did
justice to the hostess's excellent cheer. The chair was taken by Sir
Francis Clavering, Bart., supported by the esteemed rector, Dr.
Portman; the vice-chair being ably filled by----Barker, Esq.
(supported by the Rev. J. Simcoe and the Rev. S. Jowls), the
enterprising head of the ribbon factory in Clavering, and chief
director of the Clavering and Chatteris Branch of the Great Western
Railway, which will be opened in another year, and upon the works of
which the engineers and workmen are now busily engaged.
"An interesting event, which is likely to take place in the life of
our talented townsman, Arthur Pendennis, Esq., has, we understand,
caused him to relinquish the intentions which he had of offering
himself as a candidate for our borough; and rumor whispers (says the
Chatteris Champion, Clavering Agriculturist, and Baymouth
Fisherman--that independent county paper, so distinguished for its
unswerving principles and loyalty to the British oak, and so eligible
a medium for advertisements)--rumor states, says the C. C. C. A. and
B.F., that should Sir Francis Clavering's failing health oblige him
to relinquish his seat in Parliament, he will vacate it in favor of a
young gentleman of colossal fortune and related to the highest
aristocracy of the empire, who is about to contract a matrimonial
alliance with an accomplished and LOVELY lady, connected by the
nearest ties with the respected family at Clavering Park. Lady
Clavering and Miss Amory have arrived at the Park for the Christmas
holidays; and we understand that a large number of the aristocracy are
expected, and that festivities of a peculiarly interesting nature will
take place there at the commencement of the new year."
The ingenious reader will be enabled, by the help of the above
announcement to understand what has taken place during the little
break which has occurred in our narrative. Although Lady Rockminster
grumbled a little at Laura's preference for Pendennis over Bluebeard,
those who are aware of the latter's secret will understand that the
young girl could make no other choice, and the kind old lady who had
constituted herself Miss Bell's guardian was not ill-pleased that she
was to fulfill the great purpose in life of young ladies and marry.
She informed her maid of the interesting event that very night, and of
course, Mrs. Beck, who was perfectly aware of every single
circumstance, and kept by Martha, of Fairoaks, in the fullest
knowledge of what was passing, was immensely surprised and delighted.
"Mr. Pendennis's income is so much; the railroad will give him so
much more, he states; Miss Bell has so much, and may probably have a
little more one day. For persons in their degree, they will be able to
manage very well. And I shall speak to my nephew Pynsent, who I
suspect was once rather attached to her--but of course that was out of
the question" ("Oh! of course, my lady; I should think so indeed!")--"not
that you know any thing whatever about it, or have any business
to think at all on the subject--I shall speak to George Pynsent, who
is now chief secretary of the Tape and Sealing Wax Office, and have
Mr. Pendennis made something. And, Beck, in the morning you will carry
down my compliments to Major Pendennis, and say that I shall pay him a
visit at one o'clock.--Yes," muttered the old lady, "the major must be
reconciled, and he must leave his fortune to Laura's children."
Accordingly, at one o'clock, the Dowager Lady Rockminster appeared at
Major Pendennis's, who was delighted, as may be imagined, to receive
so noble a visitor. The major had been prepared, if not for the news
which her ladyship was about to give him, at least with the
intelligence that Pen's marriage with Miss Amory was broken off. The
young gentleman bethinking him of his uncle, for the first time that
day, it must be owned, and meeting his new servant in the hall of the
hotel, asked after the major's health from Mr. Frosch; and then went
into the coffee-room of the hotel, where he wrote a half-dozen lines
to acquaint his guardian with what had occurred. "Dear uncle," he
said, "if there has been any question between us, it is over now. I
went to Tunbridge Wells yesterday, and found that somebody else had
carried off the prize about which we were hesitating. Miss A., without
any compunction for me, has bestowed herself upon Harry Foker, with
his fifteen thousand a year. I came in suddenly upon their loves, and
found and left him in possession.
"And you'll be glad to hear, Tatham writes me, that he has sold three
of my fields at Fairoaks to the Railroad Company, at a great figure. I
will tell you this, and more when we met; and am always your
"I think I am aware of what you were about to tell me," the major
said, with a most courtly smile and bow to Pen's embassadress, "It was
a very great kindness of your ladyship to think of bringing me the
news. How well you look! How very good you are! How very kind you have
always been to that young man!"
"It was for the sake of his uncle," said Lady Rockminster, most
"He has informed me of the state of affairs, and written me a nice
note--yes, a nice note," continued the old gentleman; "and I find he
has had an increase to his fortune--yes; and all things considered, I
don't much regret that this affair with Miss Amory is _manquée_,
though I wished for it once--in fact, all things considered, I am very
glad of it."
"We must console him, Major Pendennis," continued the lady; "we must
get him a wife." The truth then came across the major's mind, and he
saw for what purpose Lady Rockminster had chosen to assume the office
It is not necessary to enter into the conversation which ensued, or to
tell at any length how her ladyship concluded a negotiation, which, in
truth, was tolerably easy. There could be no reason why Pen should not
marry according to his own and his mother's wish; and as for Lady
Rockminster, she supported the marriage by intimations which had very
great weight with the major, but of which we shall say nothing, as her
ladyship (now, of course, much advanced in years) is still alive, and
the family might be angry; and, in fine, the old gentleman was quite
overcome by the determined graciousness of the lady, and her fondness
for Laura. Nothing, indeed, could be more bland and kind than Lady
Rockminster's whole demeanor, except for one moment when the major
talked about his boy throwing himself away, at which her ladyship
broke out into a little speech, in which she made the major
understand, what poor Pen and his friends acknowledged very humbly,
that Laura was a thousand times too good for him. Laura was fit to be
the wife of a king--Laura was a paragon of virtue and excellence. And
it must be said, that when Major Pendennis found that a lady of the
rank of the Countess of Rockminster seriously admired Miss Bell, he
instantly began to admire her himself.
So that when Herr Frosch was requested to walk up-stairs to Lady
Rockminster's apartments, and inform Miss Bell and Mr. Arthur
Pendennis that the major would receive them, and Laura appeared
blushing and happy as she hung on Pen's arm, the major gave a shaky
hand to one and the other, with no unaffected emotion and cordiality,
and then went through another salutation to Laura, which caused her to
blush still more. Happy blushes! bright eyes beaming with the light of
love! The story-teller turns from this group to his young audience,
and hopes that one day their eyes may all shine so.
Pen having retreated in the most friendly manner, and the lovely
Blanche having bestowed her young affections upon a blushing bridegroom,
with fifteen thousand a year, there was such an outbreak of
happiness in Lady Clavering's heart and family as the good Begum had
not known for many a year, and she and Blanche were on the most
delightful terms of cordiality and affection. The ardent Foker pressed
onward the happy day, and was as anxious as might be expected to
abridge the period of mourning which had put him in possession of so
many charms and amiable qualities, of which he had been only, as it
were, the heir apparent, not the actual owner, until then. The gentle
Blanche, every thing that her affianced lord could desire, was not
averse to gratify the wishes of her fond Henry. Lady Clavering came up
from Tunbridge. Milliners and jewelers were set to work and engaged to
prepare the delightful paraphernalia of Hymen. Lady Clavering was in
such a good humor, that Sir Francis even benefited by it, and such a
reconciliation was effected between this pair, that Sir Francis came
to London, sate at the head of his own table once more, and appeared
tolerably flush of money at his billiard-rooms and gambling-houses
again. One day, when Major Pendennis and Arthur went to dine in
Grosvenor place, they found an old acquaintance established in the
quality of major-domo, and the gentleman in black, who, with perfect
politeness and gravity, offered them their choice of sweet or dry
champagne, was no other than Mr. James Morgan. The Chevalier Strong
was one of the party; he was in high spirits and condition, and
entertained the company with accounts of his amusements abroad.
"It was my lady who invited me," said Strong to Arthur, under his
voice--"that fellow Morgan looked as black as thunder when I came in.
He is about no good here. I will go away first, and wait for you and
Major Pendennis at Hyde Park Gate."
Mr. Morgan helped Major Pendennis to his great coat when he was
quitting the house; and muttered something about having accepted a
temporary engagement with the Clavering family.
"I have got a paper of yours, Mr. Morgan," said the old gentleman.
"Which you can show, if you please, to Sir Francis, sir, and perfectly
welcome," said Mr. Morgan, with downcast eyes. "I'm very much obliged
to you, Major Pendennis, and if I can pay you for all your kindness
Arthur overheard the sentence, and saw the look of hatred which
accompanied it, suddenly cried out that he had forgotten his
handkerchief, and ran up-stairs to the drawing-room again. Foker was
still there; still lingering about his siren. Pen gave the siren a
look full of meaning, and we suppose that the siren understood meaning
looks, for when, after finding the veracious handkerchief of which he
came in quest, he once more went out, the siren, with a laughing
voice, said, "O, Arthur--Mr. Pendennis--I want you to tell dear Laura
something?" and she came out to the door.
"What is it?" he asked, shutting the door.
"Have you told Harry? Do you know that villain Morgan knows all."
"I know it," she said.
"Have you told Harry?"
"No, no," she said. "You won't betray me?"
"Morgan will," said Pen.
"No, he wont," said Blanche. "I have promised him--_n'importe_. Wait
until after our marriage--O, until after our marriage--O, how wretched
I am," said the girl, who had been all smiles, and grace, and gayety
during the evening.
Arthur said, "I beg and implore you to tell Harry. Tell him now. It is
no fault of yours. He will pardon you any thing. Tell him tonight."
"And give her this--_Il est là_--with my love, please; and I beg your
pardon for calling you back; and if she will be at Madame Crinoline's
at half-past three, and if Lady Rockminster can spare her, I should so
like to drive with her in the park;" and she went in, singing and
kissing her little hand, as Morgan the velvet-footed came up the
Pen heard Blanche's piano breaking out into brilliant music as he went
down to join his uncle; and they walked away together. Arthur briefly
told him what he had done. "What was to be done?" he asked.
"What is to be done, begad?" said the old gentleman. "What is to be
done but to leave it alone? Begad, let us be thankful," said the old
fellow, with a shudder, "that we are out of the business, and leave it
to those it concerns."
"I hope to Heaven she'll tell him," said Pen.
"Begad, she'll take her own course," said the old man. "Miss Amory is
a dev'lish wide-awake girl, sir, and must play her own cards; and I'm
doosid glad you are out of it--doosid glad, begad. Who's this smoking?
O, it's Mr. Strong again. He wants to put in _his_ oar, I suppose. I
tell you, don't meddle in the business, Arthur."
Strong began once or twice, as if to converse upon the subject, but
the major would not hear a word. He remarked on the moonlight on
Apsley House, the weather, the cab-stands--any thing but that subject.
He bowed stiffly to Strong, and clung to his nephew's arm, as he
turned down St. James's-street, and again cautioned Pen to leave the
affair alone. "It had like to have cost you so much, sir, that you may
take my advice," he said.
When Arthur came out of the hotel, Strong's cloak and cigar were
visible a few doors off. The jolly chevalier laughed as they met. "I'm
an old soldier too," he said. "I wanted to talk to you, Pendennis. I
have heard of all that has happened, and all the chops and changes
that have taken place during my absence. I congratulate you on your
marriage, and I congratulate you on your escape, too--you understand
me. It was not my business to speak, but I know this, that a certain
party is as arrant a little--well--well, never mind what. You acted
like a man, and a trump, and are well out of it."
"I have no reason to complain," said Pen. "I went back to beg and
entreat poor Blanche to tell Foker all: I hope, for her sake, she
will; but I fear not. There is but one policy, Strong, there is
"And lucky he that can stick to it," said the chevalier. "That rascal
Morgan means mischief. He has been lurking about our chambers for the
last two months: he has found out that poor mad devil Amory's secret.
He has been trying to discover where he was: he has been pumping Mr.
Bolton, and making old Costigan drunk several times. He bribed the Inn
porter to tell him when we came back: and he has got into Clavering's
service on the strength of his information. He will get very good pay
for it, mark my words, the villain." "Where is Amory?" asked Pen.
"At Boulogne, I believe. I left him there, and warned him not to come
back. I have broken with him, after a desperate quarrel, such as one
might have expected with such a madman. And I'm glad to think that he
is in my debt now, and that I have been the means of keeping him out
of more harms than one."
"He has lost all his winnings, I suppose," said Pen.
"No: he is rather better than when he went away, or was a fortnight
ago. He had extraordinary luck at Baden: broke the bank several
nights, and was the fable of the place. He _lied_ himself there, with
a fellow by the name of Bloundell, who gathered about him a society of
all sorts of sharpers, male and female, Russians, Germans, French,
English. Amory got so insolent, that I was obliged to thrash him one
day within an inch of his life. I couldn't help myself; the fellow has
plenty of pluck, and I had nothing for it but to hit out."
"And did he call you out?" said Pen.
"You think if I had shot him I should have done nobody any harm? No,
sir; I waited for his challenge, but it never came: and the next time
I met him he begged my pardon, and said, 'Strong, I beg your pardon;
you whopped me and you served me right.' I shook hands: but I couldn't
live with him after that. I paid him what I owed him the night
before," said Strong with a blush. "I pawned every thing to pay him,
and then I went with my last ten florins, and had a shy at the
_roulette_. If I had lost, I should have let him shoot me in the
morning. I was weary of my life. By Jove, sir, isn't it a shame that a
man like me, who may have had a few bills out, but who never deserted
a friend, or did an unfair action, shouldn't be able to turn his hand
to any thing to get bread? I made a good night, sir, at _roulette_,
and I've done with _that_. I'm going into the wine business. My wife's
relations live at Cadiz. I intend to bring over Spanish wine and hams;
there's a fortune to be made by it, sir--a fortune--here's my card. If
you want any sherry or hams, recollect Ned Strong is your man." And
the chevalier pulled out a handsome card, stating that Strong and
Company, Shepherd's Inn, were sole agents of the celebrated Diamond
Manzanilla of the Duke of Garbanzos, Grandee of Spain of the First
Class; and of the famous Toboso hams, fed on acorns only in the
country of Don Quixote. "Come and taste 'em, sir--come and try 'em at
my chambers. You see, I've an eye to business, and by Jove, this time
Pen laughed as he took the card. "I don't know whether I shall be
allowed to go to bachelors' parties," he said. "You know I'm
"But you _must_ have sherry, sir. You must have sherry."
"I will have it from you, depend on it," said the other. "And I think
you are very well out of your other partnership. That worthy, Altamont
and his daughter correspond, I hear," Pen added after a pause "Yes;
she wrote him the longest rigmarole letters that I used to read: the
sly little devil; and he answered under cover to Mrs. Bonner. He was
for carrying her off the first day or two, and nothing would content
him but having back his child. But she didn't want to come, as you may
fancy; and he was not very eager about it." Here the chevalier burst
out in a laugh. "Why, sir, do you know what was the cause of our
quarrel and boxing match? There was a certain widow at Baden, a Madame
la Baronne de la Cruche-cassée, who was not much better than himself,
and whom the scoundrel wanted to marry; and would, but that I told her
he was married already. I don't think that she was much better than he
was. I saw her on the pier at Boulogne the day I came to England."
And now we have brought up our narrative to the point, whither the
announcement in the Chatteris Champion had already conducted us.
It wanted but very, very few days before that blissful one when Foker
should call Blanche his own; the Clavering folks had all pressed to
see the most splendid new carriage in the whole world, which was
standing in the coach-house at the Clavering Arms; and shown, in
grateful return for drink, commonly, by Mr. Foker's head coachman.
Madame Fribsby was occupied in making some lovely dresses for the
tenants' daughters, who were to figure as a sort of bridemaids' chorus
at the breakfast and marriage ceremony. And immense festivities were
to take place at the Park upon this delightful occasion.
"Yes, Mr. Huxter, yes; a happy tenantry, its country's pride, will
assemble in the baronial hall, where the beards will wag all. The ox
shall be slain, and the cup they'll drain; and the bells shall peal
quite genteel; and my father-in-law, with the tear of sensibility
bedewing his eye, shall bless us at his baronial porch. That shall be
the order of proceedings, I think, Mr. Huxter; and I hope we shall see
you and _your_ lovely bride by her husband's side; and what will you
please to drink, sir? Mrs. Lightfoot, madam, you will give to my
excellent friend and body surgeon, Mr. Huxter, Mr. Samuel Huxter,
M.R.C.S., every refreshment that your hostel affords, and place the
festive amount to my account; and Mr. Lightfoot, sir, what will _you_
take? though you've had enough already, I think; yes, ha."
So spoke Harry Foker in the bar of the Clavering Arms. He had
apartments at that hotel, and had gathered a circle of friends round
him there. He treated all to drink who came. He was hail-fellow with
every man. He was so happy! He danced round Madam Fribsby, Mrs.
Lightfoot's great ally, as she sate pensive in the bar. He consoled
Mrs. Lightfoot, who had already begun to have causes of matrimonial
disquiet; for the truth must be told, that young Lightfoot, having now
the full command of the cellar, had none over his own unbridled
desires, and was tippling and tipsy from morning till night. And a
piteous sight it was for his fond wife to behold the big youth reeling
about the yard and coffee-room, or drinking with the farmers and
tradesmen his own neat wines and carefully-selected stock of spirits.
When he could find time, Mr. Morgan the butler came from the Park, and
took a glass at the expense of the landlord of the Clavering Arms. He
watched poor Lightfoot's tipsy vagaries with savage sneers. Mrs.
Lightfoot felt always doubly uncomfortable when her unhappy spouse was
under his comrade's eye. But a few months married, and to think he had
got to this. Madame Fribsby could feel for her. Madame Fribsby could
tell her stories of men every bit as bad. She had had her own woes
too, and her sad experience of men. So it is that nobody seems happy
altogether; and that there's bitters, as Mr. Foker remarked, in the
cup of every man's life. And yet there did not seem to be any in his,
the honest young fellow! It was brimming over with happiness and
Mr. Morgan was constant in his attentions to Foker. "And yet I don't
like him somehow," said the candid young man to Mrs. Lightfoot. "He
always seems as if he was measuring me for my coffin somehow.
Pa-in-law's afraid of him; pa-in-law's, a-hem! never mind, but ma-in-law's
a trump, Mrs. Lightfoot."
"Indeed my lady was;" and Mrs. Lightfoot owned, with a sigh, that
perhaps it had been better for her had she never left her mistress.
"No, I do not like thee, Dr. Fell: the reason why I can not tell,"
continued Mr. Foker; "and he wants to be taken as my head man. Blanche
wants me to take him. Why does Miss Amory like him so?"
"Did Miss Blanche like him so?" The notion seemed to disturb Mrs.
Lightfoot very much; and there came to this worthy landlady another
cause for disturbance. A letter bearing the Boulogne postmark, was
brought to her one morning, and she and her husband were quarreling
over it as Foker passed down the stairs by the bar, on his way to the
Park. His custom was to breakfast there, and bask awhile in the
presence of Armida; then, as the company of Clavering tired him
exceedingly, and he did not care for sporting, he would return for an
hour or two to billiards and the society of the Clavering Arms; then
it would be time to ride with Miss Amory, and, after dining with her,
he left her and returned modestly to his inn.
Lightfoot and his wife were quarreling over the letter. What was that
letter from abroad? Why was she always having letters from abroad? Who
wrote 'em?--he would know. He didn't believe it was her brother. It
was no business of his? It _was_ a business of his; and, with a curse,
he seized hold of his wife, and dashed at her pocket for the letter.
The poor woman gave a scream; and said, "Well, take it." Just as her
husband seized on the letter, and Mr. Foker entered at the door, she
gave another scream at seeing him, and once more tried to seize the
paper. Lightfoot opened it, shaking her away, and an inclosure dropped
down on the breakfast table.
"Hands off, man alive!" cried little Harry, springing in. "Don't lay
hands on a woman, sir. The man that lays his hand upon a woman, save
in the way of kindness, is a--hallo! it's a letter for Miss Amory.
What's this, Mrs. Lightfoot?"
Mrs. Lightfoot began, in piteous tones of reproach to her husband--
"You unmanly! to treat a woman so who took you off the street. O you
coward, to lay your hand upon your wife! Why did I marry you? Why did
I leave my lady for you? Why did I spend eight hundred pound in
fitting up this house that you might drink and guzzle?"
"She gets letters, and she won't tell me who writes letters," said Mr.
Lightfoot, with a muzzy voice, "it's a family affair, sir. Will you
take any thing, sir?"
"I will take this letter to Miss Amory, as I am going to the Park,"
said Foker, turning very pale; and taking it up from the table, which
was arranged for the poor landlady's breakfast, he went away.
"He's comin'--dammy, who's a-comin'? Who's J.A., Mrs. Lightfoot
--curse me, who's J.A.," cried the husband.
Mrs. Lightfoot cried out, "Be quiet, you tipsy brute, do,"--and
running to her bonnet and shawl, threw them on, saw Mr. Foker walking
down the street, took the by-lane which skirts it, and ran as quickly
as she could to the lodge-gate, Clavering Park. Foker saw a running
figure before him, but it was lost when he got to the lodge-gate. He
stopped and asked, "Who was that who had just come in? Mrs. Bonner,
was it?" He reeled almost in his walk: the trees swam before him. He
rested once or twice against the trunks of the naked limes.
Lady Clavering was in the breakfast-room with her son, and her husband
yawning over his paper. "Good-morning, Harry," said the Begum. "Here's
letters, lots of letters; Lady Rockminster will be here on Tuesday
instead of Monday, and Arthur and the major come to-day; and Laura is
to go Dr. Portman's, and come to church from there: and--what's the
matter, my dear? What makes you so pale Harry?"
"Where is Blanche?" asked Harry, in a sickening voice "not down yet?"
"Blanche is always the last," said the boy, eating muffins; "she's a
regular dawdle, she is. When you're not here, she lays in bed till
"Be quiet, Frank," said the mother.
Blanche came down presently, looking pale, and with rather an eager
look toward Foker; then she advanced and kissed her mother, and had a
face beaming with her very best smiles on when she greeted Harry.
"How do you do, sir?" she said, and put out both her hands.
"I'm ill," answered Harry. "I--I've brought a letter for you, Blanche."
"A letter, and from whom is it pray? _Voyons_" she said.
"I don't know--I should like to know," said Foker.
"How can I tell until I see it?" asked Blanche. "Has Mrs. Bonner not
told you?" he said, with a shaking voice; "there's some secret. _You_
give her the letter, Lady Clavering."
Lady Clavering, wondering, took the letter from poor Foker's shaking
hand, and looked at the superscription. As she looked at it, she too
began to shake in every limb, and with a scared face she dropped the
letter, and running up to Frank, clutched the boy to her, and burst
out with a sob, "Take that away--it's impossible, it's impossible."
"What is the matter?" cried Blanche, with rather a ghastly smile, "the
letter is only from--from a poor pensioner and relative of ours."
"It's not true, it's not true," screamed Lady Clavering. "No, my
Frank--is it Clavering?"
Blanche had taken up the letter, and was moving with it toward the
fire, but Foker ran to her and clutched her arm, "I must see that
letter," he said; "give it to me. You shan't burn it."
"You--you shall not treat Miss Amory so in my house," cried the
baronet; "give back the letter, by Jove!"
"Read it--and look at her," Blanche cried, pointing to her mother;
"it--it was for her I kept the secret! Read it, cruel man!"
And Foker opened and read the letter:
"I have not wrote, my darling Bessy, this three weeks; but this is to
give her a _father's blessing_, and I shall come down pretty soon as
quick as my note, and intend to see _the ceremony, and my son-in-law_.
I shall put up at Bonner's. I have had a pleasant autumn, and am
staying here at an hotel where there _is good company_, and which is
kep' _in good style_. I don't know whether I quite approve of your
throwing over Mr. P. for Mr. F., and don't think Foker's _such a
pretty name_, and from your account of him he seems a _muff_, and _not
a beauty_. But he has got _the rowdy_, which is the thing. So no more,
my dear little Betsy, till we meet, from your affectionate father,"
"J. AMORY ALTAMONT."
"Read it, Lady Clavering; it is too late to keep it from you now,"
said poor Foker; and the distracted woman, having cast her eyes over
it, again broke out into hysterical screams, and convulsively
grasped her son.
"They have made an outcast of you, my boy," she said. "They've
dishonored your old mother; but I'm innocent, Frank; before God, I'm
innocent. I didn't know this, Mr. Foker; indeed, indeed, I didn't."
"I'm sure you didn't," said Foker, going up and kissing her hand.
"Generous, generous Harry," cried out Blanche in an ecstasy. But he
withdrew his hand, which was upon _her_ side, and turned from her with
a quivering lip. "That's different," he says.
"It was for her sake--for her sake, Harry." Again Miss Amory is in an
"There was something to be done for mine" said Foker. "I would have
taken you, whatever you were. Every thing's talked about in London. I
knew that your father had come to--to grief. You don't think it
was--it was for your connection I married you? D--it all! I've loved
you with all my heart and soul for two years, and you've been playing
with me, and cheating me," broke out the young man, with a cry. "Oh,
Blanche, Blanche, it's a hard thing, a hard thing!" and he covered his
face with his hands, and sobbed behind them.
Blanche thought, "Why didn't I tell him that night when Arthur warned
"Don't refuse her, Harry," cried Lady Clavering. "Take her, take every
thing I have. It's all hers, you know, at my death. This boy's
disinherited."--(Master Frank, who had been looking as scared at the
strange scene, here burst into a loud cry.)--"Take every shilling.
Give me just enough to live, and to go and hide my head with this
child, and to fly from both. Oh, they've both been bad, bad men.
Perhaps he's here now. Don't let me see him. Clavering, you coward,
defend me from him."
Clavering started up at this proposal. "You ain't serious, Jemima? You
don't mean that?" he said. "You won't throw me and Frank over? I
didn't know it, so help me----. Foker I'd no more idea of it than the
dead--until the fellow came and found me out, the d--d escaped convict
"The what?" said Foker. Blanche gave a scream.
"Yes," screamed out the baronet in his turn, "yes, a d--d runaway
convict--a fellow that forged his father-in-law's name--a d--d
attorney, and killed a fellow in Botany Bay, hang him--and ran into
the Bush, curse him; I wish he'd died there. And he came to me, a good
six years ago and robbed me; and I've been ruining myself to keep him,
the infernal scoundrel! And Pendennis knows it, and Strong knows it,
and that d--d Morgan knows it, and she knows it, ever so long; and I
never would tell it, never: and I kept it from my wife."
"And you saw him, and you didn't kill him, Clavering, you coward?"
said the wife of Amory. "Come away, Frank; your father's a coward. I
am dishonored, but I'm your old mother, and you'll--you'll love me,
Blanche _eploree_, went up to her mother; but Lady Clavering shrank
from her with a sort of terror. "Don't touch me," she said; "you've no
heart; you never had. I see all now. I see why that coward was going
to give up his place in Parliament to Arthur; yes, that coward! and
why you threatened that you would make me give you half Frank's
fortune. And when Arthur offered to marry you without a shilling,
because he wouldn't rob my boy, you left him, and you took poor Harry.
Have nothing to do with her, Harry. You're good, you are. Don't marry
that--that convict's daughter. Come away, Frank, my darling; come to
your poor old mother. We'll hide ourselves; but we're honest, yes, we
All this while a strange feeling of exultation had taken possession of
Blanche's mind. That month with poor Harry had been a weary month to
her. All his fortune and splendor scarcely sufficed to make the idea
of himself supportable. She was weaned of his simple ways, and sick of
coaxing and cajoling him.
"Stay, mamma; stay, madam!" she cried out with a gesture, which was
always appropriate, though rather theatrical; "I have no heart? have
I? I keep the secret of my mother's shame. I give up my rights to my
half-brother and my bastard brother--yes, my rights and my fortune. I
don't betray my father, and for this I have no heart. I'll have my
rights now, and the laws of my country shall give them to me. I appeal
to my country's laws--yes, my country's laws! The persecuted one
returns this day. I desire to go to my father." And the little lady
swept round her hand, and thought that she was a heroine.
"You will, will you?" cried out Clavering, with one of his usual
oaths. "I'm a magistrate, and dammy, I'll commit him. Here's a chaise
coming; perhaps it's him. Let him come."
A chaise was indeed coming up the avenue; and the two women shrieked
each their loudest, expecting at that moment to see Altamont arrive.
The door opened, and Mr. Morgan announced Major Pendennis and Mr.
Pendennis, who entered, and found all parties engaged in this fierce
quarrel. A large screen fenced the breakfast-room from the hall; and
it is probable that, according to his custom, Mr. Morgan had taken
advantage of the screen to make himself acquainted with all
It had been arranged on the previous day that the young people should
ride; and at the appointed hour in the afternoon, Mr. Foker's horses
arrived from the Clavering Arms. But Miss Blanche did not accompany
him on this occasion. Pen came out and shook hands with him on the
door-steps; and Harry Foker rode away, followed by his groom, in
mourning. The whole transactions which have occupied the most active
part of our history were debated by the parties concerned during those
two or three hours. Many counsels had been given, stories told, and
compromises suggested; and at the end, Harry Foker rode away, with a
sad "God bless you!" from Pen. There was a dreary dinner at Clavering
Park, at which the lately installed butler did not attend; and the
ladies were both absent. After dinner, Pen said, "I will walk down to
Clavering and see if he is come." And he walked through the dark
avenue, across the bridge and road by his own cottage--the once quiet
and familiar fields of which were flaming with the kilns and forges of
the artificers employed on the new railroad works; and so he entered
the town, and made for the Clavering Arms.
It was past midnight when he returned to Clavering Park. He was
exceedingly pale and agitated. "Is Lady Clavering up yet?" he asked.
Yes, she was in her own sitting-room. He went up to her, and there
found the poor lady in a piteous state of tears and agitation. "It is
I--Arthur," he said, looking in; and entering, he took her hand very
affectionately and kissed it. "You were always the kindest of friends
to me, dear Lady Clavering," he said. "I love you very much. I have
got some news for you."
"Don't call me by that name," she said, pressing his hand. "You were
always a good boy, Arthur; and it's kind of you to come now--very
kind. You sometimes look very like your ma, my dear."
"Dear, good _Lady Clavering_," Arthur repeated, with particular
emphasis, "something very strange has happened."
"Has any thing happened to him?" gasped Lady Clavering. "O, it's
horrid to think I should be glad of it--horrid!"
"He is well. He has been and is gone, my dear lady. Don't alarm
yourself--he is gone, and you are Lady Clavering still."
"Is it true? what he sometimes said to me," she screamed out--"that
"He was married before he married you," said Pen. "He has confessed it
to-night. He will never come back." There came another shriek from
Lady Clavering, as she flung her arms round Pen, and kissed him, and
burst into tears on his shoulder.
What Pen had to tell, through a multiplicity of sobs and
interruptions, must be compressed briefly, for behold our prescribed
limit is reached, and our tale is coming to its end. With the Branch
Coach from the railroad, which had succeeded the old Alacrity and
Perseverance, Amory arrived, and was set down at the Clavering Arms.
He ordered his dinner at the place under his assumed name of Altamont,
and, being of a jovial turn, he welcomed the landlord, who was nothing
loth, to a share of his wine. Having extracted from Mr. Lightfoot all
the news regarding the family at the Park, and found, from examining
his host, that Mrs. Lightfoot, as she said, had kept his counsel, he
called for more wine of Mr. Lightfoot, and at the end of this
symposium, both being greatly excited, went into Mrs. Lightfoot's bar.
She was there taking tea with her friend, Madame Fribsby; and
Lightfoot was by this time in such a happy state as not to be
surprised at any thing which might occur, so that, when Altamont shook
hands with Mrs. Lightfoot as an old acquaintance, the recognition did
not appear to him to be in the least strange, but only a reasonable
cause for further drinking. The gentlemen partook then of
brandy-and-water, which they offered to the ladies, not heeding the
terrified looks of one or the other.
While they were so engaged, at about six o'clock in the evening, Mr.
Morgan, Sir Francis Clavering's new man, came in, and was requested to
drink. He selected his favorite beverage, and the parties engaged in
After awhile Mr. Lightfoot began to doze. Mr. Morgan had repeatedly
given hints to Mrs. Fribsby to quit the premises; but that lady,
strangely fascinated, and terrified, it would seem, or persuaded by
Mrs. Lightfoot not to go, kept her place. Her persistence
occasioned much annoyance to Mr. Morgan, who vented his displeasure in
such language as gave pain to Mrs. Lightfoot, and caused Mr. Altamont
to say, that he was a rum customer, and not polite to the sex.
The altercation between the two gentlemen became very painful to the
women, especially to Mrs. Lightfoot, who did every thing to soothe Mr.
Morgan; and, under pretense of giving a pipe-light to the stranger,
she handed him a paper on which she had privily written the words, "He
knows you. Go." There may have been something suspicious in her manner
of handing, or in her guest's of reading the paper; for when he got up
a short time afterward, and said he would go to bed, Morgan rose too,
with a laugh, and said it was too early to go to bed.
The stranger then said, he would go to his bedroom. Morgan said he
would show him the way.
At this the guest said, "Come up. I've got a brace of pistols up there
to blow out the brains of any traitor or skulking spy," and glared so
fiercely upon Morgan, that the latter, seizing hold of Lightfoot by
the collar, and waking him, said, "John Amory, I arrest you in the
Queen's name. Stand by me, Lightfoot. This capture is worth a
He put forward his hand as if to seize his prisoner, but the other,
doubling his fist, gave Morgan with his left hand so fierce a blow on
the chest, that it knocked him back behind Mr. Lightfoot. That
gentleman, who was athletic and courageous, said he would knock his
guest's head off, and prepared to do so, as the stranger, tearing off
his coat, and cursing both of his opponents, roared to them to
But with a piercing scream Mrs. Lightfoot flung herself before her
husband, while with another and louder shriek Madame Fribsby ran to
the stranger, and calling out "Armstrong, Johnny Armstrong!" seized
hold of his naked arm, on which a blue tattooing of a heart and M.F.
The ejaculation of Madame Fribsby seemed to astound and sober the
stranger. He looked down upon her, and cried out, "It's Polly,
Mrs. Fribsby continued to exclaim, "This is not Amory. This is Johnny
Armstrong, my wicked--wicked husband, married to me in St. Martin's
Church, mate on board an Indiaman, and he left me two months after,
the wicked wretch. This is John Armstrong--here's the mark on his arm
which he made for me."
The stranger said, "I am John Armstrong, sure enough, Polly. I'm John
Armstrong, Amory, Altamont--and let 'em all come on, and try what they
can do against a British sailor. Hurray, who's for it!"
Morgan still called, "Arrest him!" But Mrs. Lightfoot said, "Arrest
him! arrest you, you mean spy! What! stop the marriage and ruin my
lady, and take away the Clavering Arms from us?"
"_Did_ he say he'd take away the Clavering Arms from us?" asked Mr.
Lightfoot, turning round, "Hang him, I'll throttle him." "Keep him,
darling, till the coach passes to the up train. It'll he here now
"D--him, I'll choke him if he stirs," said Lightfoot. And so they
kept Morgan until the coach came, and Mr. Amory or Armstrong went away
hack to London.
Morgan had followed him: but of this event Arthur Pendennis did not
inform Lady Clavering, and left her invoking blessings upon him at her
son's door, going to kiss him as he was asleep. It had been a
We have to chronicle the events of but one day more, and that was a
day when Mr. Arthur, attired in a new hat, a new blue frock-coat, and
blue handkerchief, in a new fancy waistcoat, new boots, and new
shirt-studs (presented by the Right Honorable the Countess Dowager of
Rockminster), made his appearance at a solitary breakfast-table, in
Clavering Park, where he could scarce eat a single morsel of food. Two
letters were laid by his worship's plate; and he chose to open the
first, which was in a round clerk-like hand, in preference to the
second more familiar superscription.
Note 1 ran as follows:
"GARBANZOS WINE COMPANY, SHEPHERD'S INN.--_Monday_.
"MY DEAR PENDENNIS--In congratulating you heartily upon the event
which is to make you happy for life, I send my very kindest
remembrances to Mrs. Pendennis, whom I hope to know even longer than I
have already known her. And when I call her attention to the fact,
that one of the most necessary articles to her husband's comfort is
_pure sherry_, I know I shall have her for a customer for your
"But I have to speak to you of other than my own concerns. Yesterday
afternoon, a certain J.A. arrived at my chambers from Clavering, which
he had left under circumstances of which you are doubtless now aware.
In spite of our difference, I could not but give him food and shelter
(and he partook freely both of the Garbanzos Amontillado and the
Toboso ham), and he told me what had happened to him, and many other
surprising adventures. The rascal married at sixteen, and has
repeatedly since performed that ceremony--in Sidney, in New Zealand,
in South America, in Newcastle, he says first, before he knew our poor
friend the milliner. He is a perfect Don Juan.
"And it seemed as if the commendatore had at last overtaken him, for,
as we were at our meal, there came three heavy knocks at my outer
door, which made our friend start. I have sustained a siege or two
here, and went to my usual place to reconnoiter. Thank my stars I have
not a bill out in the world, and besides, _those_ gentry do not come
in that way. I found that it was your uncle's late valet, Morgan, and
a policeman (I think a sham policeman), and they said they had a
warrant to take the person of John Armstrong, alias Amory, alias
Altamont, a runaway convict, and threatened to break in the oak. Now,
sir, in my own days of captivity I had discovered a little passage
along the gutter into Bows and Costigan's window, and I sent Jack
Alias along this covered way, not without terror of his life, for it
had grown very cranky; and then, after a parley, let in Mons. Morgan
"The rascal had been instructed about that covered way, for he made
for the room instantly, telling the policeman to go down stairs and
keep the gate; and he charged up my little staircase as if he had
known, the premises. As he was going out of the window we heard a
voice that you know, from Bow's garret, saying, 'Who are ye, and hwhat
the divvle are ye at? You'd betther leave the gutther; bedad there's a
man killed himself already.'
"And as Morgan, crossing over and looking into the darkness, was
trying to see whether this awful news was true, he took a broom-stick,
and with a vigorous dash broke down the pipe of communication--and
told me this morning, with great glee, that he was reminded of that
'aisy sthratagem by remembering his dorling Emilie, when she acted the
pawrt of Cora in the Plee--and by the bridge in Pezawro, bedad: I wish
that scoundrel Morgan had been on the bridge when the general tried
"If I hear more of Jack Alias I will tell you. He has got plenty of
money still, and I wanted him to send some to our poor friend the
milliner; but the scoundrel laughed and said, he had no more than he
wanted, but offered to give any body a lock of his hair. Farewell--be
happy! and believe me always truly yours.
"And now for the other letter," said Pen. "Dear old fellow!" and he
kissed the seal before he broke it.
"I must not let the day pass over without saying a God bless you, to
both of you. May heaven make you happy, dear Arthur, and dear Laura. I
think, Pen, that you have the best wife in the world; and pray that,
as such, you will cherish her and tend her. The chambers will be
lonely without you, dear Pen; but if I am tired, I shall have a new
home to go to in the house of my brother and sister. I am practicing
in the nursery here, in order to prepare for the part of Uncle George.
Farewell! make your wedding tour, and come back to your affectionate
Pendennis and his wife read this letter together after Doctor
Portman's breakfast was over, and the guests were gone; and when the
carriage was waiting amidst the crowd at the doctor's outer gate. But
the wicket led into the church-yard of St Mary's where the bells were
pealing with all their might, and it was here, over Helen's green
grass, that Arthur showed his wife George's letter. For which of those
two--for grief was it or for happiness, that Laura's tears abundantly
fell on the paper? And once more, in the presence of the sacred dust,
she kissed and blessed her Arthur.
There was only one marriage on that day at Clavering Church; for in
spite of Blanche's sacrifices for her dearest mother, honest Harry
Foker could not pardon the woman who had deceived her husband, and
justly argued that she would deceive him again. He went to the
Pyramids and Syria, and there left his malady behind him, and returned
with a fine beard, and a supply of tarbooshes and nargillies, with
which he regales all his friends. He lives splendidly, and through
Pen's mediation, gets his wine from the celebrated vintages of the
Duke of Garbanzos.
As for poor Cos, his fate has been mentioned in an early part of this
story. No very glorious end could be expected to such a career. Morgan
is one of the most respectable men in the parish of St. James's, and
in the present political movement has pronounced himself like a man
and a Briton. And Bows--on the demise of Mr. Piper, who played the
organ at Clavering, little Mrs. Sam Huxter, who has the entire command
of Doctor Portman, brought Bows down from London to contest the organ
chair loft, and her candidate carried the chair. When Sir Francis
Clavering quitted this worthless life, the same little indefatigable
canvasser took the borough by storm, and it is now represented by
Arthur Pendennis, Esq.. Blanche Amory, it is well known, married at
Paris, and the saloons of Madame la Comtesse de Montmorenci de
Valentinois were among the most _suivis_ of that capital. The duel
between the count and the young and fiery Representative of the
Mountain, Alcide de Mirobo, arose solely from the latter questioning
at the Club the titles borne by the former nobleman. Madame de
Montmorenci de Valentinois traveled after the adventure: and Bungay
bought her poems, and published them, with the countess's coronet
emblazoned on the countess's work.
Major Pendennis became very serious in his last days, and was never
so happy as when Laura was reading to him with her sweet voice, or
listening to his stories. For this sweet lady is the friend of the young
and the old: and her life is always passed in making other lives
"And what sort of a husband would this Pendennis be?" many a
reader will ask, doubting the happiness of such a marriage, and the
fortune of Laura. The querists, if they meet her, are referred to that
lady herself, who, seeing his faults and wayward moods--seeing and
owning that there are men better than he--loves him always with the
most constant affection. His children or their mother have never heard
a harsh word from him; and when his fits of moodiness and solitude
are over, welcome him back with a never-failing regard and confidence.
His friend is his friend still--entirely heart-whole. That malady is
never fatal to a sound organ. And George goes through his part of
godpapa perfectly, and lives alone. If Mr. Pen's works have procured
him more reputation than has been acquired by his abler friend, whom
no one knows, George lives contented without the fame. If the best
men do not draw the great prizes in life, we know it has been so settled
by the Ordainer of the lottery. We own, and see daily, how the false
and worthless live and prosper, while the good are called away, and the
dear and young perish untimely--we perceive in every man's life the
maimed happiness, the frequent falling, the bootless endeavor, the
struggle of Right and Wrong, in which the strong often succumb and
the swift fail: we see flowers of good blooming in foul places, as, in the
most lofty and splendid fortunes, flaws of vice and meanness, and stains
of evil; and, knowing how mean the best of us is, let us give a hand of
charity to Arthur Pendennis, with all his faults and shortcomings, who
does not claim to be a hero but only a man and a brother.