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Vanity Fair by William Makepeace Thackeray

Part 10 out of 16

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sky was red over the elms behind which the Hall stood, and the
mansion was on fire. Sir G. Wapshot and Sir H. Fuddlestone, old
friends of the house, wouldn't sit on the bench with Sir Pitt at
Quarter Sessions, and cut him dead in the High Street of
Southampton, where the reprobate stood offering his dirty old hands
to them. Nothing had any effect upon him; he put his hands into his
pockets, and burst out laughing, as he scrambled into his carriage
and four; he used to burst out laughing at Lady Southdown's tracts;
and he laughed at his sons, and at the world, and at the Ribbons
when she was angry, which was not seldom.

Miss Horrocks was installed as housekeeper at Queen's Crawley, and
ruled all the domestics there with great majesty and rigour. All
the servants were instructed to address her as "Mum," or "Madam"--
and there was one little maid, on her promotion, who persisted in
calling her "My Lady," without any rebuke on the part of the
housekeeper. "There has been better ladies, and there has been
worser, Hester," was Miss Horrocks' reply to this compliment of her
inferior; so she ruled, having supreme power over all except her
father, whom, however, she treated with considerable haughtiness,
warning him not to be too familiar in his behaviour to one "as was
to be a Baronet's lady." Indeed, she rehearsed that exalted part in
life with great satisfaction to herself, and to the amusement of old
Sir Pitt, who chuckled at her airs and graces, and would laugh by
the hour together at her assumptions of dignity and imitations of
genteel life. He swore it was as good as a play to see her in the
character of a fine dame, and he made her put on one of the first
Lady Crawley's court-dresses, swearing (entirely to Miss Horrocks'
own concurrence) that the dress became her prodigiously, and
threatening to drive her off that very instant to Court in a coach-
and-four. She had the ransacking of the wardrobes of the two
defunct ladies, and cut and hacked their posthumous finery so as to
suit her own tastes and figure. And she would have liked to take
possession of their jewels and trinkets too; but the old Baronet had
locked them away in his private cabinet; nor could she coax or
wheedle him out of the keys. And it is a fact, that some time after
she left Queen's Crawley a copy-book belonging to this lady was
discovered, which showed that she had taken great pains in private
to learn the art of writing in general, and especially of writing
her own name as Lady Crawley, Lady Betsy Horrocks, Lady Elizabeth
Crawley, &c.

Though the good people of the Parsonage never went to the Hall and
shunned the horrid old dotard its owner, yet they kept a strict
knowledge of all that happened there, and were looking out every day
for the catastrophe for which Miss Horrocks was also eager. But
Fate intervened enviously and prevented her from receiving the
reward due to such immaculate love and virtue.

One day the Baronet surprised "her ladyship," as he jocularly called
her, seated at that old and tuneless piano in the drawing-room,
which had scarcely been touched since Becky Sharp played quadrilles
upon it--seated at the piano with the utmost gravity and squalling
to the best of her power in imitation of the music which she had
sometimes heard. The little kitchen-maid on her promotion was
standing at her mistress's side, quite delighted during the
operation, and wagging her head up and down and crying, "Lor, Mum,
'tis bittiful"--just like a genteel sycophant in a real drawing-

This incident made the old Baronet roar with laughter, as usual. He
narrated the circumstance a dozen times to Horrocks in the course of
the evening, and greatly to the discomfiture of Miss Horrocks. He
thrummed on the table as if it had been a musical instrument, and
squalled in imitation of her manner of singing. He vowed that such
a beautiful voice ought to be cultivated and declared she ought to
have singing-masters, in which proposals she saw nothing ridiculous.
He was in great spirits that night, and drank with his friend and
butler an extraordinary quantity of rum-and-water--at a very late
hour the faithful friend and domestic conducted his master to his

Half an hour afterwards there was a great hurry and bustle in the
house. Lights went about from window to window in the lonely
desolate old Hall, whereof but two or three rooms were ordinarily
occupied by its owner. Presently, a boy on a pony went galloping off
to Mudbury, to the Doctor's house there. And in another hour (by
which fact we ascertain how carefully the excellent Mrs. Bute
Crawley had always kept up an understanding with the great house),
that lady in her clogs and calash, the Reverend Bute Crawley, and
James Crawley, her son, had walked over from the Rectory through the
park, and had entered the mansion by the open hall-door.

They passed through the hall and the small oak parlour, on the table
of which stood the three tumblers and the empty rum-bottle which had
served for Sir Pitt's carouse, and through that apartment into Sir
Pitt's study, where they found Miss Horrocks, of the guilty ribbons,
with a wild air, trying at the presses and escritoires with a bunch
of keys. She dropped them with a scream of terror, as little Mrs.
Bute's eyes flashed out at her from under her black calash.

"Look at that, James and Mr. Crawley," cried Mrs. Bute, pointing at
the scared figure of the black-eyed, guilty wench.

"He gave 'em me; he gave 'em me!" she cried.

"Gave them you, you abandoned creature!" screamed Mrs. Bute. "Bear
witness, Mr. Crawley, we found this good-for-nothing woman in the
act of stealing your brother's property; and she will be hanged, as
I always said she would."

Betsy Horrocks, quite daunted, flung herself down on her knees,
bursting into tears. But those who know a really good woman are
aware that she is not in a hurry to forgive, and that the
humiliation of an enemy is a triumph to her soul.

"Ring the bell, James," Mrs. Bute said. "Go on ringing it till the
people come." The three or four domestics resident in the deserted
old house came presently at that jangling and continued summons.

"Put that woman in the strong-room," she said. "We caught her in
the act of robbing Sir Pitt. Mr. Crawley, you'll make out her
committal--and, Beddoes, you'll drive her over in the spring cart,
in the morning, to Southampton Gaol."

"My dear," interposed the Magistrate and Rector--"she's only--"

"Are there no handcuffs?" Mrs. Bute continued, stamping in her
clogs. "There used to be handcuffs. Where's the creature's
abominable father?"

"He DID give 'em me," still cried poor Betsy; "didn't he, Hester?
You saw Sir Pitt--you know you did--give 'em me, ever so long ago--
the day after Mudbury fair: not that I want 'em. Take 'em if you
think they ain't mine." And here the unhappy wretch pulled out from
her pocket a large pair of paste shoe-buckles which had excited her
admiration, and which she had just appropriated out of one of the
bookcases in the study, where they had lain.

"Law, Betsy, how could you go for to tell such a wicked story!" said
Hester, the little kitchen-maid late on her promotion--"and to
Madame Crawley, so good and kind, and his Rev'rince (with a
curtsey), and you may search all MY boxes, Mum, I'm sure, and here's
my keys as I'm an honest girl, though of pore parents and workhouse
bred--and if you find so much as a beggarly bit of lace or a silk
stocking out of all the gownds as YOU'VE had the picking of, may I
never go to church agin."

"Give up your keys, you hardened hussy," hissed out the virtuous
little lady in the calash.

"And here's a candle, Mum, and if you please, Mum, I can show you
her room, Mum, and the press in the housekeeper's room, Mum, where
she keeps heaps and heaps of things, Mum," cried out the eager
little Hester with a profusion of curtseys.

"Hold your tongue, if you please. I know the room which the
creature occupies perfectly well. Mrs. Brown, have the goodness to
come with me, and Beddoes don't you lose sight of that woman," said
Mrs. Bute, seizing the candle. "Mr. Crawley, you had better go
upstairs and see that they are not murdering your unfortunate
brother"--and the calash, escorted by Mrs. Brown, walked away to the
apartment which, as she said truly, she knew perfectly well.

Bute went upstairs and found the Doctor from Mudbury, with the
frightened Horrocks over his master in a chair. They were trying to
bleed Sir Pitt Crawley.

With the early morning an express was sent off to Mr. Pitt Crawley
by the Rector's lady, who assumed the command of everything, and had
watched the old Baronet through the night. He had been brought back
to a sort of life; he could not speak, but seemed to recognize
people. Mrs. Bute kept resolutely by his bedside. She never seemed
to want to sleep, that little woman, and did not close her fiery
black eyes once, though the Doctor snored in the arm-chair.
Horrocks made some wild efforts to assert his authority and assist
his master; but Mrs. Bute called him a tipsy old wretch and bade him
never show his face again in that house, or he should be transported
like his abominable daughter.

Terrified by her manner, he slunk down to the oak parlour where Mr.
James was, who, having tried the bottle standing there and found no
liquor in it, ordered Mr. Horrocks to get another bottle of rum,
which he fetched, with clean glasses, and to which the Rector and
his son sat down, ordering Horrocks to put down the keys at that
instant and never to show his face again.

Cowed by this behaviour, Horrocks gave up the keys, and he and his
daughter slunk off silently through the night and gave up possession
of the house of Queen's Crawley.


In Which Becky Is Recognized by the Family

The heir of Crawley arrived at home, in due time, after this
catastrophe, and henceforth may be said to have reigned in Queen's
Crawley. For though the old Baronet survived many months, he never
recovered the use of his intellect or his speech completely, and the
government of the estate devolved upon his elder son. In a strange
condition Pitt found it. Sir Pitt was always buying and mortgaging;
he had twenty men of business, and quarrels with each; quarrels with
all his tenants, and lawsuits with them; lawsuits with the lawyers;
lawsuits with the Mining and Dock Companies in which he was
proprietor; and with every person with whom he had business. To
unravel these difficulties and to set the estate clear was a task
worthy of the orderly and persevering diplomatist of Pumpernickel,
and he set himself to work with prodigious assiduity. His whole
family, of course, was transported to Queen's Crawley, whither Lady
Southdown, of course, came too; and she set about converting the
parish under the Rector's nose, and brought down her irregular
clergy to the dismay of the angry Mrs Bute. Sir Pitt had concluded
no bargain for the sale of the living of Queen's Crawley; when it
should drop, her Ladyship proposed to take the patronage into her
own hands and present a young protege to the Rectory, on which
subject the diplomatic Pitt said nothing.

Mrs. Bute's intentions with regard to Miss Betsy Horrocks were not
carried into effect, and she paid no visit to Southampton Gaol. She
and her father left the Hall when the latter took possession of the
Crawley Arms in the village, of which he had got a lease from Sir
Pitt. The ex-butler had obtained a small freehold there likewise,
which gave him a vote for the borough. The Rector had another of
these votes, and these and four others formed the representative
body which returned the two members for Queen's Crawley.

There was a show of courtesy kept up between the Rectory and the
Hall ladies, between the younger ones at least, for Mrs. Bute and
Lady Southdown never could meet without battles, and gradually
ceased seeing each other. Her Ladyship kept her room when the
ladies from the Rectory visited their cousins at the Hall. Perhaps
Mr. Pitt was not very much displeased at these occasional absences
of his mamma-in-law. He believed the Binkie family to be the
greatest and wisest and most interesting in the world, and her
Ladyship and his aunt had long held ascendency over him; but
sometimes he felt that she commanded him too much. To be considered
young was complimentary, doubtless, but at six-and-forty to be
treated as a boy was sometimes mortifying. Lady Jane yielded up
everything, however, to her mother. She was only fond of her
children in private, and it was lucky for her that Lady Southdown's
multifarious business, her conferences with ministers, and her
correspondence with all the missionaries of Africa, Asia, and
Australasia, &c., occupied the venerable Countess a great deal, so
that she had but little time to devote to her granddaughter, the
little Matilda, and her grandson, Master Pitt Crawley. The latter
was a feeble child, and it was only by prodigious quantities of
calomel that Lady Southdown was able to keep him in life at all.

As for Sir Pitt he retired into those very apartments where Lady
Crawley had been previously extinguished, and here was tended by
Miss Hester, the girl upon her promotion, with constant care and
assiduity. What love, what fidelity, what constancy is there equal
to that of a nurse with good wages? They smooth pillows; and make
arrowroot; they get up at nights; they bear complaints and
querulousness; they see the sun shining out of doors and don't want
to go abroad; they sleep on arm-chairs and eat their meals in
solitude; they pass long long evenings doing nothing, watching the
embers, and the patient's drink simmering in the jug; they read the
weekly paper the whole week through; and Law's Serious Call or the
Whole Duty of Man suffices them for literature for the year--and we
quarrel with them because, when their relations come to see them
once a week, a little gin is smuggled in in their linen basket.
Ladies, what man's love is there that would stand a year's nursing
of the object of his affection? Whereas a nurse will stand by you
for ten pounds a quarter, and we think her too highly paid. At
least Mr. Crawley grumbled a good deal about paying half as much to
Miss Hester for her constant attendance upon the Baronet his father.

Of sunshiny days this old gentleman was taken out in a chair on the
terrace--the very chair which Miss Crawley had had at Brighton, and
which had been transported thence with a number of Lady Southdown's
effects to Queen's Crawley. Lady Jane always walked by the old man,
and was an evident favourite with him. He used to nod many times to
her and smile when she came in, and utter inarticulate deprecatory
moans when she was going away. When the door shut upon her he would
cry and sob--whereupon Hester's face and manner, which was always
exceedingly bland and gentle while her lady was present, would
change at once, and she would make faces at him and clench her fist
and scream out "Hold your tongue, you stoopid old fool," and twirl
away his chair from the fire which he loved to look at--at which he
would cry more. For this was all that was left after more than
seventy years of cunning, and struggling, and drinking, and
scheming, and sin and selfishness--a whimpering old idiot put in and
out of bed and cleaned and fed like a baby.

At last a day came when the nurse's occupation was over. Early one
morning, as Pitt Crawley was at his steward's and bailiff's books in
the study, a knock came to the door, and Hester presented herself,
dropping a curtsey, and said,

"If you please, Sir Pitt, Sir Pitt died this morning, Sir Pitt. I
was a-making of his toast, Sir Pitt, for his gruel, Sir Pitt, which
he took every morning regular at six, Sir Pitt, and--I thought I
heard a moan-like, Sir Pitt--and--and--and--" She dropped another

What was it that made Pitt's pale face flush quite red? Was it
because he was Sir Pitt at last, with a seat in Parliament, and
perhaps future honours in prospect? "I'll clear the estate now with
the ready money," he thought and rapidly calculated its incumbrances
and the improvements which he would make. He would not use his
aunt's money previously lest Sir Pitt should recover and his outlay
be in vain.

All the blinds were pulled down at the Hall and Rectory: the church
bell was tolled, and the chancel hung in black; and Bute Crawley
didn't go to a coursing meeting, but went and dined quietly at
Fuddleston, where they talked about his deceased brother and young
Sir Pitt over their port. Miss Betsy, who was by this time married
to a saddler at Mudbury, cried a good deal. The family surgeon rode
over and paid his respectful compliments, and inquiries for the
health of their ladyships. The death was talked about at Mudbury
and at the Crawley Arms, the landlord whereof had become reconciled
with the Rector of late, who was occasionally known to step into the
parlour and taste Mr. Horrocks' mild beer.

"Shall I write to your brother--or will you?" asked Lady Jane of her
husband, Sir Pitt.

"I will write, of course," Sir Pitt said, "and invite him to the
funeral: it will be but becoming."

"And--and--Mrs. Rawdon," said Lady Jane timidly.

"Jane!" said Lady Southdown, "how can you think of such a thing?"

"Mrs. Rawdon must of course be asked," said Sir Pitt, resolutely.

"Not whilst I am in the house!" said Lady Southdown.

"Your Ladyship will be pleased to recollect that I am the head of
this family," Sir Pitt replied. "If you please, Lady Jane, you will
write a letter to Mrs. Rawdon Crawley, requesting her presence upon
this melancholy occasion."

"Jane, I forbid you to put pen to paper!" cried the Countess.

"I believe I am the head of this family," Sir Pitt repeated; "and
however much I may regret any circumstance which may lead to your
Ladyship quitting this house, must, if you please, continue to
govern it as I see fit."

Lady Southdown rose up as magnificent as Mrs. Siddons in Lady
Macbeth and ordered that horses might be put to her carriage. If
her son and daughter turned her out of their house, she would hide
her sorrows somewhere in loneliness and pray for their conversion to
better thoughts.

"We don't turn you out of our house, Mamma," said the timid Lady
Jane imploringly.

"You invite such company to it as no Christian lady should meet, and
I will have my horses to-morrow morning."

"Have the goodness to write, Jane, under my dictation," said Sir
Pitt, rising and throwing himself into an attitude of command, like
the portrait of a Gentleman in the Exhibition, "and begin. 'Queen's
Crawley, September 14, 1822.--My dear brother--'"

Hearing these decisive and terrible words, Lady Macbeth, who had
been waiting for a sign of weakness or vacillation on the part of
her son-in-law, rose and, with a scared look, left the library.
Lady Jane looked up to her husband as if she would fain follow and
soothe her mamma, but Pitt forbade his wife to move.

"She won't go away," he said. "She has let her house at Brighton
and has spent her last half-year's dividends. A Countess living at
an inn is a ruined woman. I have been waiting long for an
opportunity--to take this--this decisive step, my love; for, as you
must perceive, it is impossible that there should be two chiefs in a
family: and now, if you please, we will resume the dictation. 'My
dear brother, the melancholy intelligence which it is my duty to
convey to my family must have been long anticipated by,'" &c.

In a word, Pitt having come to his kingdom, and having by good luck,
or desert rather, as he considered, assumed almost all the fortune
which his other relatives had expected, was determined to treat his
family kindly and respectably and make a house of Queen's Crawley
once more. It pleased him to think that he should be its chief. He
proposed to use the vast influence that his commanding talents and
position must speedily acquire for him in the county to get his
brother placed and his cousins decently provided for, and perhaps
had a little sting of repentance as he thought that he was the
proprietor of all that they had hoped for. In the course of three
or four days' reign his bearing was changed and his plans quite
fixed: he determined to rule justly and honestly, to depose Lady
Southdown, and to be on the friendliest possible terms with all the
relations of his blood.

So he dictated a letter to his brother Rawdon--a solemn and
elaborate letter, containing the profoundest observations, couched
in the longest words, and filling with wonder the simple little
secretary, who wrote under her husband's order. "What an orator
this will be," thought she, "when he enters the House of Commons"
(on which point, and on the tyranny of Lady Southdown, Pitt had
sometimes dropped hints to his wife in bed); "how wise and good, and
what a genius my husband is! I fancied him a little cold; but how
good, and what a genius!"

The fact is, Pitt Crawley had got every word of the letter by heart
and had studied it, with diplomatic secrecy, deeply and perfectly,
long before he thought fit to communicate it to his astonished wife.

This letter, with a huge black border and seal, was accordingly
despatched by Sir Pitt Crawley to his brother the Colonel, in
London. Rawdon Crawley was but half-pleased at the receipt of it.
"What's the use of going down to that stupid place?" thought he. "I
can't stand being alone with Pitt after dinner, and horses there and
back will cost us twenty pound."

He carried the letter, as he did all difficulties, to Becky,
upstairs in her bedroom--with her chocolate, which he always made
and took to her of a morning.

He put the tray with the breakfast and the letter on the dressing-
table, before which Becky sat combing her yellow hair. She took up
the black-edged missive, and having read it, she jumped up from the
chair, crying "Hurray!" and waving the note round her head.

"Hurray?" said Rawdon, wondering at the little figure capering about
in a streaming flannel dressing-gown, with tawny locks dishevelled.
"He's not left us anything, Becky. I had my share when I came of

"You'll never be of age, you silly old man," Becky replied. "Run
out now to Madam Brunoy's, for I must have some mourning: and get a
crape on your hat, and a black waistcoat--I don't think you've got
one; order it to be brought home to-morrow, so that we may be able
to start on Thursday."

"You don't mean to go?" Rawdon interposed.

"Of course I mean to go. I mean that Lady Jane shall present me at
Court next year. I mean that your brother shall give you a seat in
Parliament, you stupid old creature. I mean that Lord Steyne shall
have your vote and his, my dear, old silly man; and that you shall
be an Irish Secretary, or a West Indian Governor: or a Treasurer,
or a Consul, or some such thing."

"Posting will cost a dooce of a lot of money," grumbled Rawdon.

"We might take Southdown's carriage, which ought to be present at
the funeral, as he is a relation of the family: but, no--I intend
that we shall go by the coach. They'll like it better. It seems
more humble--"

"Rawdy goes, of course?" the Colonel asked.

"No such thing; why pay an extra place? He's too big to travel
bodkin between you and me. Let him stay here in the nursery, and
Briggs can make him a black frock. Go you, and do as I bid you.
And you had best tell Sparks, your man, that old Sir Pitt is dead
and that you will come in for something considerable when the
affairs are arranged. He'll tell this to Raggles, who has been
pressing for money, and it will console poor Raggles." And so Becky
began sipping her chocolate.

When the faithful Lord Steyne arrived in the evening, he found Becky
and her companion, who was no other than our friend Briggs, busy
cutting, ripping, snipping, and tearing all sorts of black stuffs
available for the melancholy occasion.

"Miss Briggs and I are plunged in grief and despondency for the
death of our Papa," Rebecca said. "Sir Pitt Crawley is dead, my
lord. We have been tearing our hair all the morning, and now we are
tearing up our old clothes."

"Oh, Rebecca, how can you--" was all that Briggs could say as she
turned up her eyes.

"Oh, Rebecca, how can you--" echoed my Lord. "So that old
scoundrel's dead, is he? He might have been a Peer if he had played
his cards better. Mr. Pitt had very nearly made him; but he ratted
always at the wrong time. What an old Silenus it was!"

"I might have been Silenus's widow," said Rebecca. "Don't you
remember, Miss Briggs, how you peeped in at the door and saw old Sir
Pitt on his knees to me?" Miss Briggs, our old friend, blushed very
much at this reminiscence, and was glad when Lord Steyne ordered her
to go downstairs and make him a cup of tea.

Briggs was the house-dog whom Rebecca had provided as guardian of
her innocence and reputation. Miss Crawley had left her a little
annuity. She would have been content to remain in the Crawley
family with Lady Jane, who was good to her and to everybody; but
Lady Southdown dismissed poor Briggs as quickly as decency
permitted; and Mr. Pitt (who thought himself much injured by the
uncalled-for generosity of his deceased relative towards a lady who
had only been Miss Crawley's faithful retainer a score of years)
made no objection to that exercise of the dowager's authority.
Bowls and Firkin likewise received their legacies and their
dismissals, and married and set up a lodging-house, according to the
custom of their kind.

Briggs tried to live with her relations in the country, but found
that attempt was vain after the better society to which she had been
accustomed. Briggs's friends, small tradesmen, in a country town,
quarrelled over Miss Briggs's forty pounds a year as eagerly and
more openly than Miss Crawley's kinsfolk had for that lady's
inheritance. Briggs's brother, a radical hatter and grocer, called
his sister a purse-proud aristocrat, because she would not advance a
part of her capital to stock his shop; and she would have done so
most likely, but that their sister, a dissenting shoemaker's lady,
at variance with the hatter and grocer, who went to another chapel,
showed how their brother was on the verge of bankruptcy, and took
possession of Briggs for a while. The dissenting shoemaker wanted
Miss Briggs to send his son to college and make a gentleman of him.
Between them the two families got a great portion of her private
savings out of her, and finally she fled to London followed by the
anathemas of both, and determined to seek for servitude again as
infinitely less onerous than liberty. And advertising in the papers
that a "Gentlewoman of agreeable manners, and accustomed to the best
society, was anxious to," &c., she took up her residence with Mr.
Bowls in Half Moon Street, and waited the result of the

So it was that she fell in with Rebecca. Mrs. Rawdon's dashing
little carriage and ponies was whirling down the street one day,
just as Miss Briggs, fatigued, had reached Mr. Bowls's door, after a
weary walk to the Times Office in the City to insert her
advertisement for the sixth time. Rebecca was driving, and at once
recognized the gentlewoman with agreeable manners, and being a
perfectly good-humoured woman, as we have seen, and having a regard
for Briggs, she pulled up the ponies at the doorsteps, gave the
reins to the groom, and jumping out, had hold of both Briggs's
hands, before she of the agreeable manners had recovered from the
shock of seeing an old friend.

Briggs cried, and Becky laughed a great deal and kissed the
gentlewoman as soon as they got into the passage; and thence into
Mrs. Bowls's front parlour, with the red moreen curtains, and the
round looking-glass, with the chained eagle above, gazing upon the
back of the ticket in the window which announced "Apartments to

Briggs told all her history amidst those perfectly uncalled-for sobs
and ejaculations of wonder with which women of her soft nature
salute an old acquaintance, or regard a rencontre in the street; for
though people meet other people every day, yet some there are who
insist upon discovering miracles; and women, even though they have
disliked each other, begin to cry when they meet, deploring and
remembering the time when they last quarrelled. So, in a word,
Briggs told all her history, and Becky gave a narrative of her own
life, with her usual artlessness and candour.

Mrs. Bowls, late Firkin, came and listened grimly in the passage to
the hysterical sniffling and giggling which went on in the front
parlour. Becky had never been a favourite of hers. Since the
establishment of the married couple in London they had frequented
their former friends of the house of Raggles, and did not like the
latter's account of the Colonel's menage. "I wouldn't trust him,
Ragg, my boy," Bowls remarked; and his wife, when Mrs. Rawdon issued
from the parlour, only saluted the lady with a very sour curtsey;
and her fingers were like so many sausages, cold and lifeless, when
she held them out in deference to Mrs. Rawdon, who persisted in
shaking hands with the retired lady's maid. She whirled away into
Piccadilly, nodding with the sweetest of smiles towards Miss Briggs,
who hung nodding at the window close under the advertisement-card,
and at the next moment was in the park with a half-dozen of dandies
cantering after her carriage.

When she found how her friend was situated, and how having a snug
legacy from Miss Crawley, salary was no object to our gentlewoman,
Becky instantly formed some benevolent little domestic plans
concerning her. This was just such a companion as would suit her
establishment, and she invited Briggs to come to dinner with her
that very evening, when she should see Becky's dear little darling

Mrs. Bowls cautioned her lodger against venturing into the lion's
den, "wherein you will rue it, Miss B., mark my words, and as sure
as my name is Bowls." And Briggs promised to be very cautious. The
upshot of which caution was that she went to live with Mrs. Rawdon
the next week, and had lent Rawdon Crawley six hundred pounds upon
annuity before six months were over.


In Which Becky Revisits the Halls of Her Ancestors

So the mourning being ready, and Sir Pitt Crawley warned of their
arrival, Colonel Crawley and his wife took a couple of places in the
same old High-flyer coach by which Rebecca had travelled in the
defunct Baronet's company, on her first journey into the world some
nine years before. How well she remembered the Inn Yard, and the
ostler to whom she refused money, and the insinuating Cambridge lad
who wrapped her in his coat on the journey! Rawdon took his place
outside, and would have liked to drive, but his grief forbade him.
He sat by the coachman and talked about horses and the road the
whole way; and who kept the inns, and who horsed the coach by which
he had travelled so many a time, when he and Pitt were boys going to
Eton. At Mudbury a carriage and a pair of horses received them,
with a coachman in black. "It's the old drag, Rawdon," Rebecca said
as they got in. "The worms have eaten the cloth a good deal--
there's the stain which Sir Pitt--ha! I see Dawson the Ironmonger
has his shutters up--which Sir Pitt made such a noise about. It was
a bottle of cherry brandy he broke which we went to fetch for your
aunt from Southampton. How time flies, to be sure! That can't be
Polly Talboys, that bouncing girl standing by her mother at the
cottage there. I remember her a mangy little urchin picking weeds
in the garden."

"Fine gal," said Rawdon, returning the salute which the cottage gave
him, by two fingers applied to his crape hatband. Becky bowed and
saluted, and recognized people here and there graciously. These
recognitions were inexpressibly pleasant to her. It seemed as if
she was not an imposter any more, and was coming to the home of her
ancestors. Rawdon was rather abashed and cast down, on the other
hand. What recollections of boyhood and innocence might have been
flitting across his brain? What pangs of dim remorse and doubt and

"Your sisters must be young women now," Rebecca said, thinking of
those girls for the first time perhaps since she had left them.

"Don't know, I'm shaw," replied the Colonel. "Hullo! here's old
Mother Lock. How-dy-do, Mrs. Lock? Remember me, don't you? Master
Rawdon, hey? Dammy how those old women last; she was a hundred when
I was a boy."

They were going through the lodge-gates kept by old Mrs. Lock, whose
hand Rebecca insisted upon shaking, as she flung open the creaking
old iron gate, and the carriage passed between the two moss-grown
pillars surmounted by the dove and serpent.

"The governor has cut into the timber," Rawdon said, looking about,
and then was silent--so was Becky. Both of them were rather
agitated, and thinking of old times. He about Eton, and his mother,
whom he remembered, a frigid demure woman, and a sister who died, of
whom he had been passionately fond; and how he used to thrash Pitt;
and about little Rawdy at home. And Rebecca thought about her own
youth and the dark secrets of those early tainted days; and of her
entrance into life by yonder gates; and of Miss Pinkerton, and Joe,
and Amelia.

The gravel walk and terrace had been scraped quite clean. A grand
painted hatchment was already over the great entrance, and two very
solemn and tall personages in black flung open each a leaf of the
door as the carriage pulled up at the familiar steps. Rawdon turned
red, and Becky somewhat pale, as they passed through the old hall,
arm in arm. She pinched her husband's arm as they entered the oak
parlour, where Sir Pitt and his wife were ready to receive them.
Sir Pitt in black, Lady Jane in black, and my Lady Southdown with a
large black head-piece of bugles and feathers, which waved on her
Ladyship's head like an undertaker's tray.

Sir Pitt had judged correctly, that she would not quit the premises.
She contented herself by preserving a solemn and stony silence, when
in company of Pitt and his rebellious wife, and by frightening the
children in the nursery by the ghastly gloom of her demeanour. Only
a very faint bending of the head-dress and plumes welcomed Rawdon
and his wife, as those prodigals returned to their family.

To say the truth, they were not affected very much one way or other
by this coolness. Her Ladyship was a person only of secondary
consideration in their minds just then--they were intent upon the
reception which the reigning brother and sister would afford them.

Pitt, with rather a heightened colour, went up and shook his brother
by the hand, and saluted Rebecca with a hand-shake and a very low
bow. But Lady Jane took both the hands of her sister-in-law and
kissed her affectionately. The embrace somehow brought tears into
the eyes of the little adventuress--which ornaments, as we know, she
wore very seldom. The artless mark of kindness and confidence
touched and pleased her; and Rawdon, encouraged by this
demonstration on his sister's part, twirled up his mustachios and
took leave to salute Lady Jane with a kiss, which caused her
Ladyship to blush exceedingly.

"Dev'lish nice little woman, Lady Jane," was his verdict, when he
and his wife were together again. "Pitt's got fat, too, and is
doing the thing handsomely." "He can afford it," said Rebecca and
agreed in her husband's farther opinion "that the mother-in-law was
a tremendous old Guy--and that the sisters were rather well-looking
young women."

They, too, had been summoned from school to attend the funeral
ceremonies. It seemed Sir Pitt Crawley, for the dignity of the
house and family, had thought right to have about the place as many
persons in black as could possibly be assembled. All the men and
maids of the house, the old women of the Alms House, whom the elder
Sir Pitt had cheated out of a great portion of their due, the parish
clerk's family, and the special retainers of both Hall and Rectory
were habited in sable; added to these, the undertaker's men, at
least a score, with crapes and hatbands, and who made goodly show
when the great burying show took place--but these are mute
personages in our drama; and having nothing to do or say, need
occupy a very little space here.

With regard to her sisters-in-law Rebecca did not attempt to forget
her former position of Governess towards them, but recalled it
frankly and kindly, and asked them about their studies with great
gravity, and told them that she had thought of them many and many a
day, and longed to know of their welfare. In fact you would have
supposed that ever since she had left them she had not ceased to
keep them uppermost in her thoughts and to take the tenderest
interest in their welfare. So supposed Lady Crawley herself and her
young sisters.

"She's hardly changed since eight years," said Miss Rosalind to Miss
Violet, as they were preparing for dinner.

"Those red-haired women look wonderfully well," replied the other.

"Hers is much darker than it was; I think she must dye it," Miss
Rosalind added. "She is stouter, too, and altogether improved,"
continued Miss Rosalind, who was disposed to be very fat.

"At least she gives herself no airs and remembers that she was our
Governess once," Miss Violet said, intimating that it befitted all
governesses to keep their proper place, and forgetting altogether
that she was granddaughter not only of Sir Walpole Crawley, but of
Mr. Dawson of Mudbury, and so had a coal-scuttle in her scutcheon.
There are other very well-meaning people whom one meets every day in
Vanity Fair who are surely equally oblivious.

"It can't be true what the girls at the Rectory said, that her
mother was an opera-dancer--"

"A person can't help their birth," Rosalind replied with great
liberality. "And I agree with our brother, that as she is in the
family, of course we are bound to notice her. I am sure Aunt Bute
need not talk; she wants to marry Kate to young Hooper, the wine-
merchant, and absolutely asked him to come to the Rectory for

"I wonder whether Lady Southdown will go away, she looked very glum
upon Mrs. Rawdon," the other said.

"I wish she would. I won't read the Washerwoman of Finchley
Common," vowed Violet; and so saying, and avoiding a passage at the
end of which a certain coffin was placed with a couple of watchers,
and lights perpetually burning in the closed room, these young women
came down to the family dinner, for which the bell rang as usual.

But before this, Lady Jane conducted Rebecca to the apartments
prepared for her, which, with the rest of the house, had assumed a
very much improved appearance of order and comfort during Pitt's
regency, and here beholding that Mrs. Rawdon's modest little trunks
had arrived, and were placed in the bedroom and dressing-room
adjoining, helped her to take off her neat black bonnet and cloak,
and asked her sister-in-law in what more she could be useful.

"What I should like best," said Rebecca, "would be to go to the
nursery and see your dear little children." On which the two ladies
looked very kindly at each other and went to that apartment hand in

Becky admired little Matilda, who was not quite four years old, as
the most charming little love in the world; and the boy, a little
fellow of two years--pale, heavy-eyed, and large-headed--she
pronounced to be a perfect prodigy in point of size, intelligence,
and beauty.

"I wish Mamma would not insist on giving him so much medicine," Lady
Jane said with a sigh. "I often think we should all be better
without it." And then Lady Jane and her new-found friend had one of
those confidential medical conversations about the children, which
all mothers, and most women, as I am given to understand, delight
in. Fifty years ago, and when the present writer, being an
interesting little boy, was ordered out of the room with the ladies
after dinner, I remember quite well that their talk was chiefly
about their ailments; and putting this question directly to two or
three since, I have always got from them the acknowledgement that
times are not changed. Let my fair readers remark for themselves
this very evening when they quit the dessert-table and assemble to
celebrate the drawing-room mysteries. Well--in half an hour Becky
and Lady Jane were close and intimate friends--and in the course of
the evening her Ladyship informed Sir Pitt that she thought her new
sister-in-law was a kind, frank, unaffected, and affectionate young

And so having easily won the daughter's good-will, the indefatigable
little woman bent herself to conciliate the august Lady Southdown.
As soon as she found her Ladyship alone, Rebecca attacked her on the
nursery question at once and said that her own little boy was saved,
actually saved, by calomel, freely administered, when all the
physicians in Paris had given the dear child up. And then she
mentioned how often she had heard of Lady Southdown from that
excellent man the Reverend Lawrence Grills, Minister of the chapel
in May Fair, which she frequented; and how her views were very much
changed by circumstances and misfortunes; and how she hoped that a
past life spent in worldliness and error might not incapacitate her
from more serious thought for the future. She described how in
former days she had been indebted to Mr. Crawley for religious
instruction, touched upon the Washerwoman of Finchley Common, which
she had read with the greatest profit, and asked about Lady Emily,
its gifted author, now Lady Emily Hornblower, at Cape Town, where
her husband had strong hopes of becoming Bishop of Caffraria.

But she crowned all, and confirmed herself in Lady Southdown's
favour, by feeling very much agitated and unwell after the funeral
and requesting her Ladyship's medical advice, which the Dowager not
only gave, but, wrapped up in a bed-gown and looking more like Lady
Macbeth than ever, came privately in the night to Becky's room with
a parcel of favourite tracts, and a medicine of her own composition,
which she insisted that Mrs. Rawdon should take.

Becky first accepted the tracts and began to examine them with great
interest, engaging the Dowager in a conversation concerning them and
the welfare of her soul, by which means she hoped that her body
might escape medication. But after the religious topics were
exhausted, Lady Macbeth would not quit Becky's chamber until her cup
of night-drink was emptied too; and poor Mrs. Rawdon was compelled
actually to assume a look of gratitude, and to swallow the medicine
under the unyielding old Dowager's nose, who left her victim finally
with a benediction.

It did not much comfort Mrs. Rawdon; her countenance was very queer
when Rawdon came in and heard what had happened; and. his
explosions of laughter were as loud as usual, when Becky, with a fun
which she could not disguise, even though it was at her own expense,
described the occurrence and how she had been victimized by Lady
Southdown. Lord Steyne, and her son in London, had many a laugh
over the story when Rawdon and his wife returned to their quarters
in May Fair. Becky acted the whole scene for them. She put on a
night-cap and gown. She preached a great sermon in the true serious
manner; she lectured on the virtue of the medicine which she
pretended to administer, with a gravity of imitation so perfect that
you would have thought it was the Countess's own Roman nose through
which she snuffled. "Give us Lady Southdown and the black dose," was
a constant cry amongst the folks in Becky's little drawing-room in
May Fair. And for the first time in her life the Dowager Countess
of Southdown was made amusing.

Sir Pitt remembered the testimonies of respect and veneration which
Rebecca had paid personally to himself in early days, and was
tolerably well disposed towards her. The marriage, ill-advised as
it was, had improved Rawdon very much--that was clear from the
Colonel's altered habits and demeanour--and had it not been a lucky
union as regarded Pitt himself? The cunning diplomatist smiled
inwardly as he owned that he owed his fortune to it, and
acknowledged that he at least ought not to cry out against it. His
satisfaction was not removed by Rebecca's own statements, behaviour,
and conversation.

She doubled the deference which before had charmed him, calling out
his conversational powers in such a manner as quite to surprise Pitt
himself, who, always inclined to respect his own talents, admired
them the more when Rebecca pointed them out to him. With her
sister-in-law, Rebecca was satisfactorily able to prove that it was
Mrs. Bute Crawley who brought about the marriage which she
afterwards so calumniated; that it was Mrs. Bute's avarice--who
hoped to gain all Miss Crawley's fortune and deprive Rawdon of his
aunt's favour--which caused and invented all the wicked reports
against Rebecca. "She succeeded in making us poor," Rebecca said
with an air of angelical patience; "but how can I be angry with a
woman who has given me one of the best husbands in the world? And
has not her own avarice been sufficiently punished by the ruin of
her own hopes and the loss of the property by which she set so much
store? Poor!" she cried. "Dear Lady Jane, what care we for poverty?
I am used to it from childhood, and I am often thankful that Miss
Crawley's money has gone to restore the splendour of the noble old
family of which I am so proud to be a member. I am sure Sir Pitt
will make a much better use of it than Rawdon would."

All these speeches were reported to Sir Pitt by the most faithful of
wives, and increased the favourable impression which Rebecca made;
so much so that when, on the third day after the funeral, the family
party were at dinner, Sir Pitt Crawley, carving fowls at the head of
the table, actually said to Mrs. Rawdon, "Ahem! Rebecca, may I give
you a wing?"--a speech which made the little woman's eyes sparkle
with pleasure.

While Rebecca was prosecuting the above schemes and hopes, and Pitt
Crawley arranging the funeral ceremonial and other matters connected
with his future progress and dignity, and Lady Jane busy with her
nursery, as far as her mother would let her, and the sun rising and
setting, and the clock-tower bell of the Hall ringing to dinner and
to prayers as usual, the body of the late owner of Queen's Crawley
lay in the apartment which he had occupied, watched unceasingly by
the professional attendants who were engaged for that rite. A woman
or two, and three or four undertaker's men, the best whom
Southampton could furnish, dressed in black, and of a proper
stealthy and tragical demeanour, had charge of the remains which
they watched turn about, having the housekeeper's room for their
place of rendezvous when off duty, where they played at cards in
privacy and drank their beer.

The members of the family and servants of the house kept away from
the gloomy spot, where the bones of the descendant of an ancient
line of knights and gentlemen lay, awaiting their final consignment
to the family crypt. No regrets attended them, save those of the
poor woman who had hoped to be Sir Pitt's wife and widow and who had
fled in disgrace from the Hall over which she had so nearly been a
ruler. Beyond her and a favourite old pointer he had, and between
whom and himself an attachment subsisted during the period of his
imbecility, the old man had not a single friend to mourn him, having
indeed, during the whole course of his life, never taken the least
pains to secure one. Could the best and kindest of us who depart
from the earth have an opportunity of revisiting it, I suppose he or
she (assuming that any Vanity Fair feelings subsist in the sphere
whither we are bound) would have a pang of mortification at finding
how soon our survivors were consoled. And so Sir Pitt was
forgotten--like the kindest and best of us--only a few weeks sooner.

Those who will may follow his remains to the grave, whither they
were borne on the appointed day, in the most becoming manner, the
family in black coaches, with their handkerchiefs up to their noses,
ready for the tears which did not come; the undertaker and his
gentlemen in deep tribulation; the select tenantry mourning out of
compliment to the new landlord; the neighbouring gentry's carriages
at three miles an hour, empty, and in profound affliction; the
parson speaking out the formula about "our dear brother departed."
As long as we have a man's body, we play our Vanities upon it,
surrounding it with humbug and ceremonies, laying it in state, and
packing it up in gilt nails and velvet; and we finish our duty by
placing over it a stone, written all over with lies. Bute's curate,
a smart young fellow from Oxford, and Sir Pitt Crawley composed
between them an appropriate Latin epitaph for the late lamented
Baronet, and the former preached a classical sermon, exhorting the
survivors not to give way to grief and informing them in the most
respectful terms that they also would be one day called upon to pass
that gloomy and mysterious portal which had just closed upon the
remains of their lamented brother. Then the tenantry mounted on
horseback again, or stayed and refreshed themselves at the Crawley
Arms. Then, after a lunch in the servants' hall at Queen's Crawley,
the gentry's carriages wheeled off to their different destinations:
then the undertaker's men, taking the ropes, palls, velvets, ostrich
feathers, and other mortuary properties, clambered up on the roof of
the hearse and rode off to Southampton. Their faces relapsed into a
natural expression as the horses, clearing the lodge-gates, got into
a brisker trot on the open road; and squads of them might have been
seen, speckling with black the public-house entrances, with pewter-
pots flashing in the sunshine. Sir Pitt's invalid chair was wheeled
away into a tool-house in the garden; the old pointer used to howl
sometimes at first, but these were the only accents of grief which
were heard in the Hall of which Sir Pitt Crawley, Baronet, had been
master for some threescore years.

As the birds were pretty plentiful, and partridge shooting is as it
were the duty of an English gentleman of statesmanlike propensities,
Sir Pitt Crawley, the first shock of grief over, went out a little
and partook of that diversion in a white hat with crape round it.
The sight of those fields of stubble and turnips, now his own, gave
him many secret joys. Sometimes, and with an exquisite humility, he
took no gun, but went out with a peaceful bamboo cane; Rawdon, his
big brother, and the keepers blazing away at his side. Pitt's money
and acres had a great effect upon his brother. The penniless
Colonel became quite obsequious and respectful to the head of his
house, and despised the milksop Pitt no longer. Rawdon listened
with sympathy to his senior's prospects of planting and draining,
gave his advice about the stables and cattle, rode over to Mudbury
to look at a mare, which he thought would carry Lady Jane, and
offered to break her, &c.: the rebellious dragoon was quite humbled
and subdued, and became a most creditable younger brother. He had
constant bulletins from Miss Briggs in London respecting little
Rawdon, who was left behind there, who sent messages of his own. "I
am very well," he wrote. "I hope you are very well. I hope Mamma
is very well. The pony is very well. Grey takes me to ride in the
park. I can canter. I met the little boy who rode before. He cried
when he cantered. I do not cry." Rawdon read these letters to his
brother and Lady Jane, who was delighted with them. The Baronet
promised to take charge of the lad at school, and his kind-hearted
wife gave Rebecca a bank-note, begging her to buy a present with it
for her little nephew.

One day followed another, and the ladies of the house passed their
life in those calm pursuits and amusements which satisfy country
ladies. Bells rang to meals and to prayers. The young ladies took
exercise on the pianoforte every morning after breakfast, Rebecca
giving them the benefit of her instruction. Then they put on thick
shoes and walked in the park or shrubberies, or beyond the palings
into the village, descending upon the cottages, with Lady
Southdown's medicine and tracts for the sick people there. Lady
Southdown drove out in a pony-chaise, when Rebecca would take her
place by the Dowager's side and listen to her solemn talk with the
utmost interest. She sang Handel and Haydn to the family of
evenings, and engaged in a large piece of worsted work, as if she
had been born to the business and as if this kind of life was to
continue with her until she should sink to the grave in a polite old
age, leaving regrets and a great quantity of consols behind her--as
if there were not cares and duns, schemes, shifts, and poverty
waiting outside the park gates, to pounce upon her when she issued
into the world again.

"It isn't difficult to be a country gentleman's wife," Rebecca
thought. "I think I could be a good woman if I had five thousand a
year. I could dawdle about in the nursery and count the apricots on
the wall. I could water plants in a green-house and pick off dead
leaves from the geraniums. I could ask old women about their
rheumatisms and order half-a-crown's worth of soup for the poor. I
shouldn't miss it much, out of five thousand a year. I could even
drive out ten miles to dine at a neighbour's, and dress in the
fashions of the year before last. I could go to church and keep
awake in the great family pew, or go to sleep behind the curtains,
with my veil down, if I only had practice. I could pay everybody,
if I had but the money. This is what the conjurors here pride
themselves upon doing. They look down with pity upon us miserable
sinners who have none. They think themselves generous if they give
our children a five-pound note, and us contemptible if we are
without one." And who knows but Rebecca was right in her
speculations--and that it was only a question of money and fortune
which made the difference between her and an honest woman? If you
take temptations into account, who is to say that he is better than
his neighbour? A comfortable career of prosperity, if it does not
make people honest, at least keeps them so. An alderman coming from
a turtle feast will not step out of his carnage to steal a leg of
mutton; but put him to starve, and see if he will not purloin a
loaf. Becky consoled herself by so balancing the chances and
equalizing the distribution of good and evil in the world.

The old haunts, the old fields and woods, the copses, ponds, and
gardens, the rooms of the old house where she had spent a couple of
years seven years ago, were all carefully revisited by her. She had
been young there, or comparatively so, for she forgot the time when
she ever WAS young--but she remembered her thoughts and feelings
seven years back and contrasted them with those which she had at
present, now that she had seen the world, and lived with great
people, and raised herself far beyond her original humble station.

"I have passed beyond it, because I have brains," Becky thought,
"and almost all the rest of the world are fools. I could not go back
and consort with those people now, whom I used to meet in my
father's studio. Lords come up to my door with stars and garters,
instead of poor artists with screws of tobacco in their pockets. I
have a gentleman for my husband, and an Earl's daughter for my
sister, in the very house where I was little better than a servant a
few years ago. But am I much better to do now in the world than I
was when I was the poor painter's daughter and wheedled the grocer
round the corner for sugar and tea? Suppose I had married Francis
who was so fond of me--I couldn't have been much poorer than I am
now. Heigho! I wish I could exchange my position in society, and
all my relations for a snug sum in the Three Per Cent. Consols";
for so it was that Becky felt the Vanity of human affairs, and it
was in those securities that she would have liked to cast anchor.

It may, perhaps, have struck her that to have been honest and
humble, to have done her duty, and to have marched straightforward
on her way, would have brought her as near happiness as that path by
which she was striving to attain it. But--just as the children at
Queen's Crawley went round the room where the body of their father
lay--if ever Becky had these thoughts, she was accustomed to walk
round them and not look in. She eluded them and despised them--or
at least she was committed to the other path from which retreat was
now impossible. And for my part I believe that remorse is the least
active of all a man's moral senses--the very easiest to be deadened
when wakened, and in some never wakened at all. We grieve at being
found out and at the idea of shame or punishment, but the mere sense
of wrong makes very few people unhappy in Vanity Fair.

So Rebecca, during her stay at Queen's Crawley, made as many friends
of the Mammon of Unrighteousness as she could possibly bring under
control. Lady Jane and her husband bade her farewell with the
warmest demonstrations of good-will. They looked forward with
pleasure to the time when, the family house in Gaunt Street being
repaired and beautified, they were to meet again in London. Lady
Southdown made her up a packet of medicine and sent a letter by her
to the Rev. Lawrence Grills, exhorting that gentleman to save the
brand who "honoured" the letter from the burning. Pitt accompanied
them with four horses in the carriage to Mudbury, having sent on
their baggage in a cart previously, accompanied with loads of game.

"How happy you will be to see your darling little boy again!" Lady
Crawley said, taking leave of her kinswoman.

"Oh so happy!" said Rebecca, throwing up the green eyes. She was
immensely happy to be free of the place, and yet loath to go.
Queen's Crawley was abominably stupid, and yet the air there was
somehow purer than that which she had been accustomed to breathe.
Everybody had been dull, but had been kind in their way. "It is all
the influence of a long course of Three Per Cents," Becky said to
herself, and was right very likely.

However, the London lamps flashed joyfully as the stage rolled into
Piccadilly, and Briggs had made a beautiful fire in Curzon Street,
and little Rawdon was up to welcome back his papa and mamma.


Which Treats of the Osborne Family

Considerable time has elapsed since we have seen our respectable
friend, old Mr. Osborne of Russell Square. He has not been the
happiest of mortals since last we met him. Events have occurred
which have not improved his temper, and in more in stances than one
he has not been allowed to have his own way. To be thwarted in this
reasonable desire was always very injurious to the old gentleman;
and resistance became doubly exasperating when gout, age,
loneliness, and the force of many disappointments combined to weigh
him down. His stiff black hair began to grow quite white soon after
his son's death; his-face grew redder; his hands trembled more and
more as he poured out his glass of port wine. He led his clerks a
dire life in the City: his family at home were not much happier. I
doubt if Rebecca, whom we have seen piously praying for Consols,
would have exchanged her poverty and the dare-devil excitement and
chances of her life for Osborne's money and the humdrum gloom which
enveloped him. He had proposed for Miss Swartz, but had been
rejected scornfully by the partisans of that lady, who married her
to a young sprig of Scotch nobility. He was a man to have married a
woman out of low life and bullied her dreadfully afterwards; but no
person presented herself suitable to his taste, and, instead, he
tyrannized over his unmarried daughter, at home. She had a fine
carriage and fine horses and sat at the head of a table loaded with
the grandest plate. She had a cheque-book, a prize footman to
follow her when she walked, unlimited credit, and bows and
compliments from all the tradesmen, and all the appurtenances of an
heiress; but she spent a woeful time. The little charity-girls at
the Foundling, the sweeperess at the crossing, the poorest under-
kitchen-maid in the servants' hall, was happy compared to that
unfortunate and now middle-aged young lady.

Frederick Bullock, Esq., of the house of Bullock, Hulker, and
Bullock, had married Maria Osborne, not without a great deal of
difficulty and grumbling on Mr. Bullock's part. George being dead
and cut out of his father's will, Frederick insisted that the half
of the old gentleman's property should be settled upon his Maria,
and indeed, for a long time, refused, "to come to the scratch" (it
was Mr. Frederick's own expression) on any other terms. Osborne
said Fred had agreed to take his daughter with twenty thousand, and
he should bind himself to no more. "Fred might take it, and
welcome, or leave it, and go and be hanged." Fred, whose hopes had
been raised when George had been disinherited, thought himself
infamously swindled by the old merchant, and for some time made as
if he would break off the match altogether. Osborne withdrew his
account from Bullock and Hulker's, went on 'Change with a horsewhip
which he swore he would lay across the back of a certain scoundrel
that should be nameless, and demeaned himself in his usual violent
manner. Jane Osborne condoled with her sister Maria during this
family feud. "I always told you, Maria, that it was your money he
loved and not you," she said, soothingly.

"He selected me and my money at any rate; he didn't choose you and
yours," replied Maria, tossing up her head.

The rapture was, however, only temporary. Fred's father and senior
partners counselled him to take Maria, even with the twenty thousand
settled, half down, and half at the death of Mr. Osborne, with the
chances of the further division of the property. So he "knuckled
down," again to use his own phrase, and sent old Hulker with
peaceable overtures to Osborne. It was his father, he said, who
would not hear of the match, and had made the difficulties; he was
most anxious to keep the engagement. The excuse was sulkily
accepted by Mr. Osborne. Hulker and Bullock were a high family of
the City aristocracy, and connected with the "nobs" at the West End.
It was something for the old man to be able to say, "My son, sir, of
the house of Hulker, Bullock, and Co., sir; my daughter's cousin,
Lady Mary Mango, sir, daughter of the Right Hon. The Earl of
Castlemouldy." In his imagination he saw his house peopled by the
"nobs." So he forgave young Bullock and consented that the marriage
should take place.

It was a grand affair--the bridegroom's relatives giving the
breakfast, their habitations being near St. George's, Hanover
Square, where the business took place. The "nobs of the West End"
were invited, and many of them signed the book. Mr. Mango and Lady
Mary Mango were there, with the dear young Gwendoline and Guinever
Mango as bridesmaids; Colonel Bludyer of the Dragoon Guards (eldest
son of the house of Bludyer Brothers, Mincing Lane), another cousin
of the bridegroom, and the Honourable Mrs. Bludyer; the Honourable
George Boulter, Lord Levant's son, and his lady, Miss Mango that
was; Lord Viscount Castletoddy; Honourable James McMull and Mrs.
McMull (formerly Miss Swartz); and a host of fashionables, who have
all married into Lombard Street and done a great deal to ennoble

The young couple had a house near Berkeley Square and a small villa
at Roehampton, among the banking colony there. Fred was considered
to have made rather a mesalliance by the ladies of his family, whose
grandfather had been in a Charity School, and who were allied
through the husbands with some of the best blood in England. And
Maria was bound, by superior pride and great care in the composition
of her visiting-book, to make up for the defects of birth, and felt
it her duty to see her father and sister as little as possible.

That she should utterly break with the old man, who had still so
many scores of thousand pounds to give away, is absurd to suppose.
Fred Bullock would never allow her to do that. But she was still
young and incapable of hiding her feelings; and by inviting her papa
and sister to her third-rate parties, and behaving very coldly to
them when they came, and by avoiding Russell Square, and
indiscreetly begging her father to quit that odious vulgar place,
she did more harm than all Frederick's diplomacy could repair, and
perilled her chance of her inheritance like a giddy heedless
creature as she was.

"So Russell Square is not good enough for Mrs. Maria, hay?" said the
old gentleman, rattling up the carriage windows as he and his
daughter drove away one night from Mrs. Frederick Bullock's, after
dinner. "So she invites her father and sister to a second day's
dinner (if those sides, or ontrys, as she calls 'em, weren't served
yesterday, I'm d--d), and to meet City folks and littery men, and
keeps the Earls and the Ladies, and the Honourables to herself.
Honourables? Damn Honourables. I am a plain British merchant I am,
and could buy the beggarly hounds over and over. Lords, indeed!--
why, at one of her swarreys I saw one of 'em speak to a dam fiddler
--a fellar I despise. And they won't come to Russell Square, won't
they? Why, I'll lay my life I've got a better glass of wine, and pay
a better figure for it, and can show a handsomer service of silver,
and can lay a better dinner on my mahogany, than ever they see on
theirs--the cringing, sneaking, stuck-up fools. Drive on quick,
James: I want to get back to Russell Square--ha, ha!" and he sank
back into the corner with a furious laugh. With such reflections on
his own superior merit, it was the custom of the old gentleman not
unfrequently to console himself.

Jane Osborne could not but concur in these opinions respecting her
sister's conduct; and when Mrs. Frederick's first-born, Frederick
Augustus Howard Stanley Devereux Bullock, was born, old Osborne, who
was invited to the christening and to be godfather, contented
himself with sending the child a gold cup, with twenty guineas
inside it for the nurse. "That's more than any of your Lords will
give, I'LL warrant," he said and refused to attend at the ceremony.

The splendour of the gift, however, caused great satisfaction to the
house of Bullock. Maria thought that her father was very much
pleased with her, and Frederick augured the best for his little son
and heir.

One can fancy the pangs with which Miss Osborne in her solitude in
Russell Square read the Morning Post, where her sister's name
occurred every now and then, in the articles headed "Fashionable
Reunions," and where she had an opportunity of reading a description
of Mrs. F. Bullock's costume, when presented at the drawing room by
Lady Frederica Bullock. Jane's own life, as we have said, admitted
of no such grandeur. It was an awful existence. She had to get up
of black winter's mornings to make breakfast for her scowling old
father, who would have turned the whole house out of doors if his
tea had not been ready at half-past eight. She remained silent
opposite to him, listening to the urn hissing, and sitting in tremor
while the parent read his paper and consumed his accustomed portion
of muffins and tea. At half-past nine he rose and went to the City,
and she was almost free till dinner-time, to make visitations in the
kitchen and to scold the servants; to drive abroad and descend upon
the tradesmen, who were prodigiously respectful; to leave her cards
and her papa's at the great glum respectable houses of their City
friends; or to sit alone in the large drawing-room, expecting
visitors; and working at a huge piece of worsted by the fire, on the
sofa, hard by the great Iphigenia clock, which ticked and tolled
with mournful loudness in the dreary room. The great glass over the
mantelpiece, faced by the other great console glass at the opposite
end of the room, increased and multiplied between them the brown
Holland bag in which the chandelier hung, until you saw these brown
Holland bags fading away in endless perspectives, and this apartment
of Miss Osborne's seemed the centre of a system of drawing-rooms.
When she removed the cordovan leather from the grand piano and
ventured to play a few notes on it, it sounded with a mournful
sadness, startling the dismal echoes of the house. George's picture
was gone, and laid upstairs in a lumber-room in the garret; and
though there was a consciousness of him, and father and daughter
often instinctively knew that they were thinking of him, no mention
was ever made of the brave and once darling son.

At five o'clock Mr. Osborne came back to his dinner, which he and
his daughter took in silence (seldom broken, except when he swore
and was savage, if the cooking was not to his liking), or which they
shared twice in a month with a party of dismal friends of Osborne's
rank and age. Old Dr. Gulp and his lady from Bloomsbury Square; old
Mr. Frowser, the attorney, from Bedford Row, a very great man, and
from his business, hand-in-glove with the "nobs at the West End";
old Colonel Livermore, of the Bombay Army, and Mrs. Livermore, from
Upper Bedford Place; old Sergeant Toffy and Mrs. Toffy; and
sometimes old Sir Thomas Coffin and Lady Coffin, from Bedford
Square. Sir Thomas was celebrated as a hanging judge, and the
particular tawny port was produced when he dined with Mr. Osborne.

These people and their like gave the pompous Russell Square merchant
pompous dinners back again. They had solemn rubbers of whist, when
they went upstairs after drinking, and their carriages were called
at half past ten. Many rich people, whom we poor devils are in the
habit of envying, lead contentedly an existence like that above
described. Jane Osborne scarcely ever met a man under sixty, and
almost the only bachelor who appeared in their society was Mr.
Smirk, the celebrated ladies' doctor.

I can't say that nothing had occurred to disturb the monotony of
this awful existence: the fact is, there had been a secret in poor
Jane's life which had made her father more savage and morose than
even nature, pride, and over-feeding had made him. This secret was
connected with Miss Wirt, who had a cousin an artist, Mr. Smee, very
celebrated since as a portrait-painter and R.A., but who once was
glad enough to give drawing lessons to ladies of fashion. Mr. Smee
has forgotten where Russell Square is now, but he was glad enough to
visit it in the year 1818, when Miss Osborne had instruction from

Smee (formerly a pupil of Sharpe of Frith Street, a dissolute,
irregular, and unsuccessful man, but a man with great knowledge of
his art) being the cousin of Miss Wirt, we say, and introduced by
her to Miss Osborne, whose hand and heart were still free after
various incomplete love affairs, felt a great attachment for this
lady, and it is believed inspired one in her bosom. Miss Wirt was
the confidante of this intrigue. I know not whether she used to
leave the room where the master and his pupil were painting, in
order to give them an opportunity for exchanging those vows and
sentiments which cannot be uttered advantageously in the presence of
a third party; I know not whether she hoped that should her cousin
succeed in carrying off the rich merchant's daughter, he would give
Miss Wirt a portion of the wealth which she had enabled him to win--
all that is certain is that Mr. Osborne got some hint of the
transaction, came back from the City abruptly, and entered the
drawing-room with his bamboo cane; found the painter, the pupil, and
the companion all looking exceedingly pale there; turned the former
out of doors with menaces that he would break every bone in his
skin, and half an hour afterwards dismissed Miss Wirt likewise,
kicking her trunks down the stairs, trampling on her bandboxes, and
shaking his fist at her hackney coach as it bore her away.

Jane Osborne kept her bedroom for many days. She was not allowed to
have a companion afterwards. Her father swore to her that she
should not have a shilling of his money if she made any match
without his concurrence; and as he wanted a woman to keep his house,
he did not choose that she should marry, so that she was obliged to
give up all projects with which Cupid had any share. During her
papa's life, then, she resigned herself to the manner of existence
here described, and was content to be an old maid. Her sister,
meanwhile, was having children with finer names every year and the
intercourse between the two grew fainter continually. "Jane and I
do not move in the same sphere of life," Mrs. Bullock said. "I
regard her as a sister, of course"--which means--what does it mean
when a lady says that she regards Jane as a sister?

It has been described how the Misses Dobbin lived with their father
at a fine villa at Denmark Hill, where there were beautiful
graperies and peach-trees which delighted little Georgy Osborne.
The Misses Dobbin, who drove often to Brompton to see our dear
Amelia, came sometimes to Russell Square too, to pay a visit to
their old acquaintance Miss Osborne. I believe it was in
consequence of the commands of their brother the Major in India (for
whom their papa had a prodigious respect), that they paid attention
to Mrs. George; for the Major, the godfather and guardian of
Amelia's little boy, still hoped that the child's grandfather might
be induced to relent towards him and acknowledge him for the sake of
his son. The Misses Dobbin kept Miss Osborne acquainted with the
state of Amelia's affairs; how she was living with her father and
mother; how poor they were; how they wondered what men, and such men
as their brother and dear Captain Osborne, could find in such an
insignificant little chit; how she was still, as heretofore, a
namby-pamby milk-and-water affected creature--but how the boy was
really the noblest little boy ever seen--for the hearts of all women
warm towards young children, and the sourest spinster is kind to

One day, after great entreaties on the part of the Misses Dobbin,
Amelia allowed little George to go and pass a day with them at
Denmark Hill--a part of which day she spent herself in writing to
the Major in India. She congratulated him on the happy news which
his sisters had just conveyed to her. She prayed for his prosperity
and that of the bride he had chosen. She thanked him for a thousand
thousand kind offices and proofs of stead fast friendship to her in
her affliction. She told him the last news about little Georgy, and
how he was gone to spend that very day with his sisters in the
country. She underlined the letter a great deal, and she signed
herself affectionately his friend, Amelia Osborne. She forgot to
send any message of kindness to Lady O'Dowd, as her wont was--and
did not mention Glorvina by name, and only in italics, as the
Major's BRIDE, for whom she begged blessings. But the news of the
marriage removed the reserve which she had kept up towards him. She
was glad to be able to own and feel how warmly and gratefully she
regarded him--and as for the idea of being jealous of Glorvina
(Glorvina, indeed!), Amelia would have scouted it, if an angel from
heaven had hinted it to her. That night, when Georgy came back in
the pony-carriage in which he rejoiced, and in which he was driven
by Sir Wm. Dobbin's old coachman, he had round his neck a fine gold
chain and watch. He said an old lady, not pretty, had given it him,
who cried and kissed him a great deal. But he didn't like her. He
liked grapes very much. And he only liked his mamma. Amelia shrank
and started; the timid soul felt a presentiment of terror when she
heard that the relations of the child's father had seen him.

Miss Osborne came back to give her father his dinner. He had made a
good speculation in the City, and was rather in a good humour that
day, and chanced to remark the agitation under which she laboured.
"What's the matter, Miss Osborne?" he deigned to say.

The woman burst into tears. "Oh, sir," she said, "I've seen little
George. He is as beautiful as an angel--and so like him!" The old
man opposite to her did not say a word, but flushed up and began to
tremble in every limb.


In Which the Reader Has to Double the Cape

The astonished reader must be called upon to transport himself ten
thousand miles to the military station of Bundlegunge, in the Madras
division of our Indian empire, where our gallant old friends of the
--th regiment are quartered under the command of the brave Colonel,
Sir Michael O'Dowd. Time has dealt kindly with that stout officer,
as it does ordinarily with men who have good stomachs and good
tempers and are not perplexed over much by fatigue of the brain.
The Colonel plays a good knife and fork at tiffin and resumes those
weapons with great success at dinner. He smokes his hookah after
both meals and puffs as quietly while his wife scolds him as he did
under the fire of the French at Waterloo. Age and heat have not
diminished the activity or the eloquence of the descendant of the
Malonys and the Molloys. Her Ladyship, our old acquaintance, is as
much at home at Madras as at Brussels in the cantonment as under the
tents. On the march you saw her at the head of the regiment seated
on a royal elephant, a noble sight. Mounted on that beast, she has
been into action with tigers in the jungle, she has been received by
native princes, who have welcomed her and Glorvina into the recesses
of their zenanas and offered her shawls and jewels which it went to
her heart to refuse. The sentries of all arms salute her wherever
she makes her appearance, and she touches her hat gravely to their
salutation. Lady O'Dowd is one of the greatest ladies in the
Presidency of Madras--her quarrel with Lady Smith, wife of Sir Minos
Smith the puisne judge, is still remembered by some at Madras, when
the Colonel's lady snapped her fingers in the Judge's lady's face
and said SHE'D never walk behind ever a beggarly civilian. Even
now, though it is five-and-twenty years ago, people remember Lady
O'Dowd performing a jig at Government House, where she danced down
two Aides-de-Camp, a Major of Madras cavalry, and two gentlemen of
the Civil Service; and, persuaded by Major Dobbin, C.B., second in
command of the --th, to retire to the supper-room, lassata nondum
satiata recessit.

Peggy O'Dowd is indeed the same as ever, kind in act and thought;
impetuous in temper; eager to command; a tyrant over her Michael; a
dragon amongst all the ladies of the regiment; a mother to all the
young men, whom she tends in their sickness, defends in all their
scrapes, and with whom Lady Peggy is immensely popular. But the
Subalterns' and Captains' ladies (the Major is unmarried) cabal
against her a good deal. They say that Glorvina gives herself airs
and that Peggy herself is ill tolerably domineering. She interfered
with a little congregation which Mrs. Kirk had got up and laughed
the young men away from her sermons, stating that a soldier's wife
had no business to be a parson--that Mrs. Kirk would be much better
mending her husband's clothes; and, if the regiment wanted sermons,
that she had the finest in the world, those of her uncle, the Dean.
She abruptly put a termination to a flirtation which Lieutenant
Stubble of the regiment had commenced with the Surgeon's wife,
threatening to come down upon Stubble for the money which he had
borrowed from her (for the young fellow was still of an extravagant
turn) unless he broke off at once and went to the Cape on sick
leave. On the other hand, she housed and sheltered Mrs. Posky, who
fled from her bungalow one night, pursued by her infuriate husband,
wielding his second brandy bottle, and actually carried Posky
through the delirium tremens and broke him of the habit of drinking,
which had grown upon that officer, as all evil habits will grow upon
men. In a word, in adversity she was the best of comforters, in
good fortune the most troublesome of friends, having a perfectly
good opinion of herself always and an indomitable resolution to have
her own way.

Among other points, she had made up her mind that Glorvina should
marry our old friend Dobbin. Mrs. O'Dowd knew the Major's
expectations and appreciated his good qualities and the high
character which he enjoyed in his profession. Glorvina, a very
handsome, fresh-coloured, black-haired, blue-eyed young lady, who
could ride a horse, or play a sonata with any girl out of the County
Cork, seemed to be the very person destined to insure Dobbin's
happiness--much more than that poor good little weak-spur'ted
Amelia, about whom he used to take on so.--"Look at Glorvina enter a
room," Mrs. O'Dowd would say, "and compare her with that poor Mrs.
Osborne, who couldn't say boo to a goose. She'd be worthy of you,
Major--you're a quiet man yourself, and want some one to talk for
ye. And though she does not come of such good blood as the Malonys
or Molloys, let me tell ye, she's of an ancient family that any
nobleman might be proud to marry into."

But before she had come to such a resolution and determined to
subjugate Major Dobbin by her endearments, it must be owned that
Glorvina had practised them a good deal elsewhere. She had had a
season in Dublin, and who knows how many in Cork, Killarney, and
Mallow? She had flirted with all the marriageable officers whom the
depots of her country afforded, and all the bachelor squires who
seemed eligible. She had been engaged to be married a half-score
times in Ireland, besides the clergyman at Bath who used her so ill.
She had flirted all the way to Madras with the Captain and chief
mate of the Ramchunder East Indiaman, and had a season at the
Presidency with her brother and Mrs. O'Dowd, who was staying there,
while the Major of the regiment was in command at the station.
Everybody admired her there; everybody danced with her; but no one
proposed who was worth the marrying--one or two exceedingly young
subalterns sighed after her, and a beardless civilian or two, but
she rejected these as beneath her pretensions--and other and younger
virgins than Glorvina were married before her. There are women, and
handsome women too, who have this fortune in life. They fall in
love with the utmost generosity; they ride and walk with half the
Army-list, though they draw near to forty, and yet the Misses
O'Grady are the Misses O'Grady still: Glorvina persisted that but
for Lady O'Dowd's unlucky quarrel with the Judge's lady, she would
have made a good match at Madras, where old Mr. Chutney, who was at
the head of the civil service (and who afterwards married Miss
Dolby, a young lady only thirteen years of age who had just arrived
from school in Europe), was just at the point of proposing to her.

Well, although Lady O'Dowd and Glorvina quarrelled a great number of
times every day, and upon almost every conceivable subject--indeed,
if Mick O'Dowd had not possessed the temper of an angel two such
women constantly about his ears would have driven him out of his
senses--yet they agreed between themselves on this point, that
Glorvina should marry Major Dobbin, and were determined that the
Major should have no rest until the arrangement was brought about.
Undismayed by forty or fifty previous defeats, Glorvina laid siege
to him. She sang Irish melodies at him unceasingly. She asked him
so frequently and pathetically, Will ye come to the bower? that it
is a wonder how any man of feeling could have resisted the
invitation. She was never tired of inquiring, if Sorrow had his
young days faded, and was ready to listen and weep like Desdemona at
the stories of his dangers and his campaigns. It has been said that
our honest and dear old friend used to perform on the flute in
private; Glorvina insisted upon having duets with him, and Lady
O'Dowd would rise and artlessly quit the room when the young couple
were so engaged. Glorvina forced the Major to ride with her of
mornings. The whole cantonment saw them set out and return. She
was constantly writing notes over to him at his house, borrowing his
books, and scoring with her great pencil-marks such passages of
sentiment or humour as awakened her sympathy. She borrowed his
horses, his servants, his spoons, and palanquin--no wonder that
public rumour assigned her to him, and that the Major's sisters in
England should fancy they were about to have a sister-in-law.

Dobbin, who was thus vigorously besieged, was in the meanwhile in a
state of the most odious tranquillity. He used to laugh when the
young fellows of the regiment joked him about Glorvina's manifest
attentions to him. "Bah!" said he, "she is only keeping her hand in--
she practises upon me as she does upon Mrs. Tozer's piano, because
it's the most handy instrument in the station. I am much too
battered and old for such a fine young lady as Glorvina." And so he
went on riding with her, and copying music and verses into her
albums, and playing at chess with her very submissively; for it is
with these simple amusements that some officers in India are
accustomed to while away their leisure moments, while others of a
less domestic turn hunt hogs, and shoot snipes, or gamble and smoke
cheroots, and betake themselves to brandy-and-water. As for Sir
Michael O'Dowd, though his lady and her sister both urged him to
call upon the Major to explain himself and not keep on torturing a
poor innocent girl in that shameful way, the old soldier refused
point-blank to have anything to do with the conspiracy. "Faith, the
Major's big enough to choose for himself," Sir Michael said; "he'll
ask ye when he wants ye"; or else he would turn the matter off
jocularly, declaring that "Dobbin was too young to keep house, and
had written home to ask lave of his mamma." Nay, he went farther,
and in private communications with his Major would caution and rally
him, crying, "Mind your oi, Dob, my boy, them girls is bent on
mischief--me Lady has just got a box of gowns from Europe, and
there's a pink satin for Glorvina, which will finish ye, Dob, if
it's in the power of woman or satin to move ye."

But the truth is, neither beauty nor fashion could conquer him. Our
honest friend had but one idea of a woman in his head, and that one
did not in the least resemble Miss Glorvina O'Dowd in pink satin. A
gentle little woman in black, with large eyes and brown hair, seldom
speaking, save when spoken to, and then in a voice not the least
resembling Miss Glorvina's--a soft young mother tending an infant
and beckoning the Major up with a smile to look at him--a rosy-
cheeked lass coming singing into the room in Russell Square or
hanging on George Osborne's arm, happy and loving--there was but
this image that filled our honest Major's mind, by day and by night,
and reigned over it always. Very likely Amelia was not like the
portrait the Major had formed of her: there was a figure in a book
of fashions which his sisters had in England, and with which William
had made away privately, pasting it into the lid of his desk, and
fancying he saw some resemblance to Mrs. Osborne in the print,
whereas I have seen it, and can vouch that it is but the picture of
a high-waisted gown with an impossible doll's face simpering over
it--and, perhaps, Mr. Dobbin's sentimental Amelia was no more like
the real one than this absurd little print which he cherished. But
what man in love, of us, is better informed?--or is he much happier
when he sees and owns his delusion? Dobbin was under this spell. He
did not bother his friends and the public much about his feelings,
or indeed lose his natural rest or appetite on account of them. His
head has grizzled since we saw him last, and a line or two of silver
may be seen in the soft brown hair likewise. But his feelings are
not in the least changed or oldened, and his love remains as fresh
as a man's recollections of boyhood are.

We have said how the two Misses Dobbin and Amelia, the Major's
correspondents in Europe, wrote him letters from England, Mrs.
Osborne congratulating him with great candour and cordiality upon
his approaching nuptials with Miss O'Dowd. "Your sister has just
kindly visited me," Amelia wrote in her letter, "and informed me of
an INTERESTING EVENT, upon which I beg to offer my MOST SINCERE
CONGRATULATIONS. I hope the young lady to whom I hear you are to be
UNITED will in every respect prove worthy of one who is himself all
kindness and goodness. The poor widow has only her prayers to offer
and her cordial cordial wishes for YOUR PROSPERITY! Georgy sends
his love to HIS DEAR GODPAPA and hopes that you will not forget him.
I tell him that you are about to form OTHER TIES, with one who I am
sure merits ALL YOUR AFFECTION, but that, although such ties must of
course be the strongest and most sacred, and supersede ALL OTHERS,
yet that I am sure the widow and the child whom you have ever
protected and loved will always HAVE A CORNER IN YOUR HEART" The
letter, which has been before alluded to, went on in this strain,
protesting throughout as to the extreme satisfaction of the writer.

This letter, .which arrived by the very same ship which brought out
Lady O'Dowd's box of millinery from London (and which you may be
sure Dobbin opened before any one of the other packets which the
mail brought him), put the receiver into such a state of mind that
Glorvina, and her pink satin, and everything belonging to her became
perfectly odious to him. The Major cursed the talk of women, and
the sex in general. Everything annoyed him that day--the parade was
insufferably hot and wearisome. Good heavens! was a man of
intellect to waste his life, day after day, inspecting cross-belts
and putting fools through their manoeuvres? The senseless chatter of
the young men at mess was more than ever jarring. What cared he, a
man on the high road to forty, to know how many snipes Lieutenant
Smith had shot, or what were the performances of Ensign Brown's
mare? The jokes about the table filled him with shame. He was too
old to listen to the banter of the assistant surgeon and the slang
of the youngsters, at which old O'Dowd, with his bald head and red
face, laughed quite easily. The old man had listened to those jokes
any time these thirty years--Dobbin himself had been fifteen years
hearing them. And after the boisterous dulness of the mess-table,
the quarrels and scandal of the ladies of the regiment! It was
unbearable, shameful. "O Amelia, Amelia," he thought, "you to whom
I have been so faithful--you reproach me! It is because you cannot
feel for me that I drag on this wearisome life. And you reward me
after years of devotion by giving me your blessing upon my marriage,
forsooth, with this flaunting Irish girl!" Sick and sorry felt poor
William; more than ever wretched and lonely. He would like to have
done with life and its vanity altogether--so bootless and
unsatisfactory the struggle, so cheerless and dreary the prospect
seemed to him. He lay all that night sleepless, and yearning to go
home. Amelia's letter had fallen as a blank upon him. No fidelity,
no constant truth and passion, could move her into warmth. She
would not see that he loved her. Tossing in his bed, he spoke out
to her. "Good God, Amelia!" he said, "don't you know that I only
love you in the world--you, who are a stone to me--you, whom I
tended through months and months of illness and grief, and who bade
me farewell with a smile on your face, and forgot me before the door
shut between us!" The native servants lying outside his verandas
beheld with wonder the Major, so cold and quiet ordinarily, at
present so passionately moved and cast down. Would she have pitied
him had she seen him? He read over and over all the letters which he
ever had from her--letters of business relative to the little
property which he had made her believe her husband had left to her--
brief notes of invitation--every scrap of writing that she had ever
sent to him--how cold, how kind, how hopeless, how selfish they

Had there been some kind gentle soul near at hand who could read and
appreciate this silent generous heart, who knows but that the reign
of Amelia might have been over, and that friend William's love might
have flowed into a kinder channel? But there was only Glorvina of
the jetty ringlets with whom his intercourse was familiar, and this
dashing young woman was not bent upon loving the Major, but rather
on making the Major admire HER--a most vain and hopeless task, too,
at least considering the means that the poor girl possessed to carry
it out. She curled her hair and showed her shoulders at him, as
much as to say, did ye ever see such jet ringlets and such a
complexion? She grinned at him so that he might see that every tooth
in her head was sound--and he never heeded all these charms. Very
soon after the arrival of the box of millinery, and perhaps indeed
in honour of it, Lady O'Dowd and the ladies of the King's Regiment
gave a ball to the Company's Regiments and the civilians at the
station. Glorvina sported the killing pink frock, and the Major,
who attended the party and walked very ruefully up and down the
rooms, never so much as perceived the pink garment. Glorvina danced
past him in a fury with all the young subalterns of the station, and
the Major was not in the least jealous of her performance, or angry
because Captain Bangles of the Cavalry handed her to supper. It was
not jealousy, or frocks, or shoulders that could move him, and
Glorvina had nothing more.

So these two were each exemplifying the Vanity of this life, and
each longing for what he or she could not get. Glorvina cried with
rage at the failure. She had set her mind on the Major "more than
on any of the others," she owned, sobbing. "He'll break my heart,
he will, Peggy," she would whimper to her sister-in-law when they
were good friends; "sure every one of me frocks must be taken in--
it's such a skeleton I'm growing." Fat or thin, laughing or
melancholy, on horseback or the music-stool, it was all the same to
the Major. And the Colonel, puffing his pipe and listening to these
complaints, would suggest that Glory should have some black frocks
out in the next box from London, and told a mysterious story of a
lady in Ireland who died of grief for the loss of her husband before
she got ere a one.

While the Major was going on in this tantalizing way, not proposing,
and declining to fall in love, there came another ship from Europe
bringing letters on board, and amongst them some more for the
heartless man. These were home letters bearing an earlier postmark
than that of the former packets, and as Major Dobbin recognized
among his the handwriting of his sister, who always crossed and
recrossed her letters to her brother--gathered together all the
possible bad news which she could collect, abused him and read him
lectures with sisterly frankness, and always left him miserable for
the day after "dearest William" had achieved the perusal of one of
her epistles--the truth must be told that dearest William did not
hurry himself to break the seal of Miss Dobbin's letter, but waited
for a particularly favourable day and mood for doing so. A
fortnight before, moreover, he had written to scold her for telling
those absurd stories to Mrs. Osborne, and had despatched a letter in
reply to that lady, undeceiving her with respect to the reports
concerning him and assuring her that "he had no sort of present
intention of altering his condition."

Two or three nights after the arrival of the second package of
letters, the Major had passed the evening pretty cheerfully at Lady
O'Dowd's house, where Glorvina thought that he listened with rather
more attention than usual to the Meeting of the Wathers, the
Minsthrel Boy, and one or two other specimens of song with which she
favoured him (the truth is, he was no more listening to Glorvina
than to the howling of the jackals in the moonlight outside, and the
delusion was hers as usual), and having played his game at chess
with her (cribbage with the surgeon was Lady O'Dowd's favourite
evening pastime), Major Dobbin took leave of the Colonel's family at
his usual hour and retired to his own house.

There on his table, his sister's letter lay reproaching him. He
took it up, ashamed rather of his negligence regarding it, and
prepared himself for a disagreeable hour's communing with that
crabbed-handed absent relative. . . . It may have been an hour
after the Major's departure from the Colonel's house--Sir Michael
was sleeping the sleep of the just; Glorvina had arranged her black
ringlets in the innumerable little bits of paper, in which it was
her habit to confine them; Lady O'Dowd, too, had gone to her bed in
the nuptial chamber, on the ground-floor, and had tucked her
musquito curtains round her fair form, when the guard at the gates
of the Commanding-Officer's compound beheld Major Dobbin, in the
moonlight, rushing towards the house with a swift step and a very
agitated countenance, and he passed the sentinel and went up to the
windows of the Colonel's bedchamber.

"O'Dowd--Colonel!" said Dobbin and kept up a great shouting.

"Heavens, Meejor!" said Glorvina of the curl-papers, putting out her
head too, from her window.

"What is it, Dob, me boy?" said the Colonel, expecting there was a
fire in the station, or that the route had come from headquarters.

"I--I must have leave of absence. I must go to England--on the most
urgent private affairs," Dobbin said.

"Good heavens, what has happened!" thought Glorvina, trembling with
all the papillotes.

"I want to be off--now--to-night," Dobbin continued; and the Colonel
getting up, came out to parley with him.

In the postscript of Miss Dobbin's cross-letter, the Major had just
come upon a paragraph, to the following effect:--"I drove yesterday
to see your old ACQUAINTANCE, Mrs. Osborne. The wretched place they
live at, since they were bankrupts, you know--Mr. S., to judge from
a BRASS PLATE on the door of his hut (it is little better) is a
coal-merchant. The little boy, your godson, is certainly a fine
child, though forward, and inclined to be saucy and self-willed.
But we have taken notice of him as you wish it, and have introduced
him to his aunt, Miss O., who was rather pleased with him. Perhaps
his grandpapa, not the bankrupt one, who is almost doting, but Mr.
Osborne, of Russell Square, may be induced to relent towards the
child of your friend, HIS ERRING AND SELF-WILLED SON. And Amelia
will not be ill-disposed to give him up. The widow is CONSOLED, and
is about to marry a reverend gentleman, the Rev. Mr. Binny, one of
the curates of Brompton. A poor match. But Mrs. O. is getting old,
and I saw a great deal of grey in her hair--she was in very good
spirits: and your little godson overate himself at our house.
Mamma sends her love with that of your affectionate, Ann Dobbin."


A Round-about Chapter between London and Hampshire

Our old friends the Crawleys' family house, in Great Gaunt Street,
still bore over its front the hatchment which had been placed there
as a token of mourning for Sir Pitt Crawley's demise, yet this
heraldic emblem was in itself a very splendid and gaudy piece of
furniture, and all the rest of the mansion became more brilliant
than it had ever been during the late baronet's reign. The black
outer-coating of the bricks was removed, and they appeared with a
cheerful, blushing face streaked with white: the old bronze lions of
the knocker were gilt handsomely, the railings painted, and the
dismallest house in Great Gaunt Street became the smartest in the
whole quarter, before the green leaves in Hampshire had replaced
those yellowing ones which were on the trees in Queen's Crawley
Avenue when old Sir Pitt Crawley passed under them for the last

A little woman, with a carriage to correspond, was perpetually seen
about this mansion; an elderly spinster, accompanied by a little
boy, also might be remarked coming thither daily. It was Miss
Briggs and little Rawdon, whose business it was to see to the inward
renovation of Sir Pitt's house, to superintend the female band
engaged in stitching the blinds and hangings, to poke and rummage in
the drawers and cupboards crammed with the dirty relics and
congregated trumperies of a couple of generations of Lady Crawleys,
and to take inventories of the china, the glass, and other
properties in the closets and store-rooms.

Mrs. Rawdon Crawley was general-in-chief over these arrangements,
with full orders from Sir Pitt to sell, barter, confiscate, or
purchase furniture, and she enjoyed herself not a little in an
occupation which gave full scope to her taste and ingenuity. The
renovation of the house was determined upon when Sir Pitt came to
town in November to see his lawyers, and when he passed nearly a
week in Curzon Street, under the roof of his affectionate brother
and sister.

He had put up at an hotel at first, but, Becky, as soon as she heard
of the Baronet's arrival, went off alone to greet him, and returned
in an hour to Curzon Street with Sir Pitt in the carriage by her
side. It was impossible sometimes to resist this artless little
creature's hospitalities, so kindly were they pressed, so frankly
and amiably offered. Becky seized Pitt's hand in a transport of
gratitude when he agreed to come. "Thank you," she said, squeezing
it and looking into the Baronet's eyes, who blushed a good deal;
"how happy this will make Rawdon!" She bustled up to Pitt's bedroom,
leading on the servants, who were carrying his trunks thither. She
came in herself laughing, with a coal-scuttle out of her own room.

A fire was blazing already in Sir Pitt's apartment (it was Miss
Briggs's room, by the way, who was sent upstairs to sleep with the
maid). "I knew I should bring you," she said with pleasure beaming
in her glance. Indeed, she was really sincerely happy at having him
for a guest.

Becky made Rawdon dine out once or twice on business, while Pitt
stayed with them, and the Baronet passed the happy evening alone
with her and Briggs. She went downstairs to the kitchen and
actually cooked little dishes for him. "Isn't it a good salmi?" she
said; "I made it for you. I can make you better dishes than that,
and will when you come to see me."

"Everything you do, you do well," said the Baronet gallantly. "The
salmi is excellent indeed."

"A poor man's wife," Rebecca replied gaily, "must make herself
useful, you know"; on which her brother-in-law vowed that "she was
fit to be the wife of an Emperor, and that to be skilful in domestic
duties was surely one of the most charming of woman's qualities."
And Sir Pitt thought, with something like mortification, of Lady
Jane at home, and of a certain pie which she had insisted on making,
and serving to him at dinner--a most abominable pie.

Besides the salmi, which was made of Lord Steyne's pheasants from
his lordship's cottage of Stillbrook, Becky gave her brother-in-law
a bottle of white wine, some that Rawdon had brought with him from
France, and had picked up for nothing, the little story-teller said;
whereas the liquor was, in truth, some White Hermitage from the
Marquis of Steyne's famous cellars, which brought fire into the
Baronet's pallid cheeks and a glow into his feeble frame.

Then when he had drunk up the bottle of petit vin blanc, she gave
him her hand, and took him up to the drawing-room, and made him snug
on the sofa by the fire, and let him talk as she listened with the
tenderest kindly interest, sitting by him, and hemming a shirt for
her dear little boy. Whenever Mrs. Rawdon wished to be particularly
humble and virtuous, this little shirt used to come out of her work-
box. It had got to be too small for Rawdon long before it was

Well, Rebecca listened to Pitt, she talked to him, she sang to him,
she coaxed him, and cuddled him, so that he found himself more and
more glad every day to get back from the lawyer's at Gray's Inn, to
the blazing fire in Curzon Street--a gladness in which the men of
law likewise participated, for Pitt's harangues were of the longest-
-and so that when he went away he felt quite a pang at departing.
How pretty she looked kissing her hand to him from the carriage and
waving her handkerchief when he had taken his place in the mail!
She put the handkerchief to her eyes once. He pulled his sealskin
cap over his, as the coach drove away, and, sinking back, he thought
to himself how she respected him and how he deserved it, and how
Rawdon was a foolish dull fellow who didn't half-appreciate his
wife; and how mum and stupid his own wife was compared to that
brilliant little Becky. Becky had hinted every one of these things
herself, perhaps, but so delicately and gently that you hardly knew
when or where. And, before they parted, it was agreed that the
house in London should be redecorated for the next season, and that
the brothers' families should meet again in the country at

"I wish you could have got a little money out of him," Rawdon said
to his wife moodily when the Baronet was gone. "I should like to
give something to old Raggles, hanged if I shouldn't. It ain't
right, you know, that the old fellow should be kept out of all his
money. It may be inconvenient, and he might let to somebody else
besides us, you know."

"Tell him," said Becky, "that as soon as Sir Pitt's affairs are
settled, everybody will be paid, and give him a little something on
account. Here's a cheque that Pitt left for the boy," and she took
from her bag and gave her husband a paper which his brother had
handed over to her, on behalf of the little son and heir of the
younger branch of the Crawleys.

The truth is, she had tried personally the ground on which her
husband expressed a wish that she should venture--tried it ever so
delicately, and found it unsafe. Even at a hint about
embarrassments, Sir Pitt Crawley was off and alarmed. And he began
a long speech, explaining how straitened he himself was in money
matters; how the tenants would not pay; how his father's affairs,
and the expenses attendant upon the demise of the old gentleman, had
involved him; how he wanted to pay off incumbrances; and how the
bankers and agents were overdrawn; and Pitt Crawley ended by making
a compromise with his sister-in-law and giving her a very small sum
for the benefit of her little boy.

Pitt knew how poor his brother and his brother's family must be. It
could not have escaped the notice of such a cool and experienced old
diplomatist that Rawdon's family had nothing to live upon, and that
houses and carriages are not to be kept for nothing. He knew very
well that he was the proprietor or appropriator of the money, which,
according to all proper calculation, ought to have fallen to his
younger brother, and he had, we may be sure, some secret pangs of
remorse within him, which warned him that he ought to perform some
act of justice, or, let us say, compensation, towards these
disappointed relations. A just, decent man, not without brains, who
said his prayers, and knew his catechism, and did his duty outwardly
through life, he could not be otherwise than aware that something
was due to his brother at his hands, and that morally he was
Rawdon's debtor.

But, as one reads in the columns of the Times newspaper every now
and then, queer announcements from the Chancellor of the Exchequer,
acknowledging the receipt of 50 pounds from A. B., or 10 pounds
from W. T., as conscience-money, on account of taxes due by the
said A. B. or W. T., which payments the penitents beg the Right
Honourable gentleman to acknowledge through the medium of the public
press--so is the Chancellor no doubt, and the reader likewise,
always perfectly sure that the above-named A. B. and W. T. are
only paying a very small instalment of what they really owe, and
that the man who sends up a twenty-pound note has very likely
hundreds or thousands more for which he ought to account. Such, at
least, are my feelings, when I see A. B. or W. T.'s insufficient
acts of repentance. And I have no doubt that Pitt Crawley's
contrition, or kindness if you will, towards his younger brother, by
whom he had so much profited, was only a very small dividend upon
the capital sum in which he was indebted to Rawdon. Not everybody is
willing to pay even so much. To part with money is a sacrifice
beyond almost all men endowed with a sense of order. There is
scarcely any man alive who does not think himself meritorious for
giving his neighbour five pounds. Thriftless gives, not from a
beneficent pleasure in giving, but from a lazy delight in spending.
He would not deny himself one enjoyment; not his opera-stall, not
his horse, not his dinner, not even the pleasure of giving Lazarus
the five pounds. Thrifty, who is good, wise, just, and owes no man
a penny, turns from a beggar, haggles with a hackney-coachman, or
denies a poor relation, and I doubt which is the most selfish of the
two. Money has only a different value in the eyes of each.

So, in a word, Pitt Crawley thought he would do something for his
brother, and then thought that he would think about it some other

And with regard to Becky, she was not a woman who expected too much
from the generosity of her neighbours, and so was quite content with
all that Pitt Crawley had done for her. She was acknowledged by the
head of the family. If Pitt would not give her anything, he would
get something for her some day. If she got no money from her
brother-in-law, she got what was as good as money--credit. Raggles
was made rather easy in his mind by the spectacle of the union
between the brothers, by a small payment on the spot, and by the
promise of a much larger sum speedily to be assigned to him. And
Rebecca told Miss Briggs, whose Christmas dividend upon the little
sum lent by her Becky paid with an air of candid joy, and as if her
exchequer was brimming over with gold--Rebecca, we say, told Miss
Briggs, in strict confidence that she had conferred with Sir Pitt,
who was famous as a financier, on Briggs's special behalf, as to the
most profitable investment of Miss B.'s remaining capital; that Sir
Pitt, after much consideration, had thought of a most safe and
advantageous way in which Briggs could lay out her money; that,
being especially interested in her as an attached friend of the late
Miss Crawley, and of the whole family, and that long before he left
town, he had recommended that she should be ready with the money at
a moment's notice, so as to purchase at the most favourable
opportunity the shares which Sir Pitt had in his eye. Poor Miss
Briggs was very grateful for this mark of Sir Pitt's attention--it
came so unsolicited, she said, for she never should have thought of
removing the money from the funds--and the delicacy enhanced the
kindness of the office; and she promised to see her man of business
immediately and be ready with her little cash at the proper hour.

And this worthy woman was so grateful for the kindness of Rebecca in
the matter, and for that of her generous benefactor, the Colonel,
that she went out and spent a great part of her half-year's dividend
in the purchase of a black velvet coat for little Rawdon, who, by
the way, was grown almost too big for black velvet now, and was of a
size and age befitting him for the assumption of the virile jacket
and pantaloons.

He was a fine open-faced boy, with blue eyes and waving flaxen hair,
sturdy in limb, but generous and soft in heart, fondly attaching
himself to all who were good to him--to the pony--to Lord Southdown,
who gave him the horse (he used to blush and glow all over when he
saw that kind young nobleman)--to the groom who had charge of the
pony--to Molly, the cook, who crammed him with ghost stories at
night, and with good things from the dinner--to Briggs, whom he
plagued and laughed at--and to his father especially, whose
attachment towards the lad was curious too to witness. Here, as he
grew to be about eight years old, his attachments may be said to
have ended. The beautiful mother-vision had faded away after a
while. During near two years she had scarcely spoken to the child.
She disliked him. He had the measles and the hooping-cough. He
bored her. One day when he was standing at the landing-place,
having crept down from the upper regions, attracted by the sound of
his mother's voice, who was singing to Lord Steyne, the drawing room
door opening suddenly, discovered the little spy, who but a moment
before had been rapt in delight, and listening to the music.

His mother came out and struck him violently a couple of boxes on
the ear. He heard a laugh from the Marquis in the inner room (who
was amused by this free and artless exhibition of Becky's temper)
and fled down below to his friends of the kitchen, bursting in an
agony of grief.

"It is not because it hurts me," little Rawdon gasped out--"only--
only"--sobs and tears wound up the sentence in a storm. It was the
little boy's heart that was bleeding. "Why mayn't I hear her
singing? Why don't she ever sing to me--as she does to that
baldheaded man with the large teeth?" He gasped out at various

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