Part 6 out of 16
With similar operations conducted in both pockets, and a knowing
jolly air, Osborne from his chair regarded Dobbin seated blank and
silent opposite to him. "What a bumpkin he is for a Captain in the
army," old Osborne thought. "I wonder George hasn't taught him
At last Dobbin summoned courage to begin. "Sir," said he, "I've
brought you some very grave news. I have been at the Horse Guards
this morning, and there's no doubt that our regiment will be ordered
abroad, and on its way to Belgium before the week is over. And you
know, sir, that we shan't be home again before a tussle which may be
fatal to many of us." Osborne looked grave. "My s--, the regiment
will do its duty, sir, I daresay," he said.
"The French are very strong, sir," Dobbin went on. "The Russians and
Austrians will be a long time before they can bring their troops
down. We shall have the first of the fight, sir; and depend on it
Boney will take care that it shall be a hard one."
"What are you driving at, Dobbin?" his interlocutor said, uneasy and
with a scowl. "I suppose no Briton's afraid of any d--- Frenchman,
"I only mean, that before we go, and considering the great and
certain risk that hangs over every one of us--if there are any
differences between you and George--it would be as well, sir, that--
that you should shake hands: wouldn't it? Should anything happen to
him, I think you would never forgive yourself if you hadn't parted
As he said this, poor William Dobbin blushed crimson, and felt and
owned that he himself was a traitor. But for him, perhaps, this
severance need never have taken place. Why had not George's
marriage been delayed? What call was there to press it on so
eagerly? He felt that George would have parted from Amelia at any
rate without a mortal pang. Amelia, too, MIGHT have recovered the
shock of losing him. It was his counsel had brought about this
marriage, and all that was to ensue from it. And why was it?
Because he loved her so much that he could not bear to see her
unhappy: or because his own sufferings of suspense were so
unendurable that he was glad to crush them at once--as we hasten a
funeral after a death, or, when a separation from those we love is
imminent, cannot rest until the parting be over.
"You are a good fellow, William," said Mr. Osborne in a softened
voice; "and me and George shouldn't part in anger, that is true.
Look here. I've done for him as much as any father ever did. He's
had three times as much money from me, as I warrant your father ever
gave you. But I don't brag about that. How I've toiled for him,
and worked and employed my talents and energy, I won't say. Ask
Chopper. Ask himself. Ask the City of London. Well, I propose to
him such a marriage as any nobleman in the land might be proud of--
the only thing in life I ever asked him--and he refuses me. Am I
wrong? Is the quarrel of MY making? What do I seek but his good,
for which I've been toiling like a convict ever since he was born?
Nobody can say there's anything selfish in me. Let him come back.
I say, here's my hand. I say, forget and forgive. As for marrying
now, it's out of the question. Let him and Miss S. make it up, and
make out the marriage afterwards, when he comes back a Colonel; for
he shall be a Colonel, by G-- he shall, if money can do it. I'm glad
you've brought him round. I know it's you, Dobbin. You've took him
out of many a scrape before. Let him come. I shan't be hard. Come
along, and dine in Russell Square to-day: both of you. The old
shop, the old hour. You'll find a neck of venison, and no questions
This praise and confidence smote Dobbin's heart very keenly. Every
moment the colloquy continued in this tone, he felt more and more
guilty. "Sir," said he, "I fear you deceive yourself. I am sure
you do. George is much too high-minded a man ever to marry for
money. A threat on your part that you would disinherit him in case
of disobedience would only be followed by resistance on his."
"Why, hang it, man, you don't call offering him eight or ten
thousand a year threatening him?" Mr. Osborne said, with still
provoking good humour. "'Gad, if Miss S. will have me, I'm her man.
I ain't particular about a shade or so of tawny." And the old
gentleman gave his knowing grin and coarse laugh.
"You forget, sir, previous engagements into which Captain Osborne
had entered," the ambassador said, gravely.
"What engagements? What the devil do you mean? You don't mean," Mr.
Osborne continued, gathering wrath and astonishment as the thought
now first came upon him; "you don't mean that he's such a d--- fool
as to be still hankering after that swindling old bankrupt's
daughter? You've not come here for to make me suppose that he wants
to marry HER? Marry HER, that IS a good one. My son and heir marry
a beggar's girl out of a gutter. D--- him, if he does, let him buy
a broom and sweep a crossing. She was always dangling and ogling
after him, I recollect now; and I've no doubt she was put on by her
old sharper of a father."
"Mr. Sedley was your very good friend, sir," Dobbin interposed,
almost pleased at finding himself growing angry. "Time was you
called him better names than rogue and swindler. The match was of
your making. George had no right to play fast and loose--"
"Fast and loose!" howled out old Osborne. "Fast and loose! Why,
hang me, those are the very words my gentleman used himself when he
gave himself airs, last Thursday was a fortnight, and talked about
the British army to his father who made him. What, it's you who
have been a setting of him up--is it? and my service to you,
CAPTAIN. It's you who want to introduce beggars into my family.
Thank you for nothing, Captain. Marry HER indeed--he, he! why
should he? I warrant you she'd go to him fast enough without."
"Sir," said Dobbin, starting up in undisguised anger; "no man shall
abuse that lady in my hearing, and you least of all."
"O, you're a-going to call me out, are you? Stop, let me ring the
bell for pistols for two. Mr. George sent you here to insult his
father, did he?" Osborne said, pulling at the bell-cord.
"Mr. Osborne," said Dobbin, with a faltering voice, "it's you who
are insulting the best creature in the world. You had best spare
her, sir, for she's your son's wife."
And with this, feeling that he could say no more, Dobbin went away,
Osborne sinking back in his chair, and looking wildly after him. A
clerk came in, obedient to the bell; and the Captain was scarcely
out of the court where Mr. Osborne's offices were, when Mr. Chopper
the chief clerk came rushing hatless after him.
"For God's sake, what is it?" Mr. Chopper said, catching the Captain
by the skirt. "The governor's in a fit. What has Mr. George been
"He married Miss Sedley five days ago," Dobbin replied. "I was his
groomsman, Mr. Chopper, and you must stand his friend."
The old clerk shook his head. "If that's your news, Captain, it's
bad. The governor will never forgive him."
Dobbin begged Chopper to report progress to him at the hotel where
he was stopping, and walked off moodily westwards, greatly perturbed
as to the past and the future.
When the Russell Square family came to dinner that evening, they
found the father of the house seated in his usual place, but with
that air of gloom on his face, which, whenever it appeared there,
kept the whole circle silent. The ladies, and Mr. Bullock who dined
with them, felt that the news had been communicated to Mr. Osborne.
His dark looks affected Mr. Bullock so far as to render him still
and quiet: but he was unusually bland and attentive to Miss Maria,
by whom he sat, and to her sister presiding at the head of the
Miss Wirt, by consequence, was alone on her side of the board, a gap
being left between her and Miss Jane Osborne. Now this was George's
place when he dined at home; and his cover, as we said, was laid for
him in expectation of that truant's return. Nothing occurred during
dinner-time except smiling Mr. Frederick's flagging confidential
whispers, and the clinking of plate and china, to interrupt the
silence of the repast. The servants went about stealthily doing
their duty. Mutes at funerals could not look more glum than the
domestics of Mr. Osborne The neck of venison of which he had invited
Dobbin to partake, was carved by him in perfect silence; but his own
share went away almost untasted, though he drank much, and the
butler assiduously filled his glass.
At last, just at the end of the dinner, his eyes, which had been
staring at everybody in turn, fixed themselves for a while upon the
plate laid for George. He pointed to it presently with his left
hand. His daughters looked at him and did not comprehend, or choose
to comprehend, the signal; nor did the servants at first understand
"Take that plate away," at last he said, getting up with an oath--
and with this pushing his chair back, he walked into his own room.
Behind Mr. Osborne's dining-room was the usual apartment which went
in his house by the name of the study; and was sacred to the master
of the house. Hither Mr. Osborne would retire of a Sunday forenoon
when not minded to go to church; and here pass the morning in his
crimson leather chair, reading the paper. A couple of glazed book-
cases were here, containing standard works in stout gilt bindings.
The "Annual Register," the "Gentleman's Magazine," "Blair's
Sermons," and "Hume and Smollett." From year's end to year's end he
never took one of these volumes from the shelf; but there was no
member of the family that would dare for his life to touch one of
the books, except upon those rare Sunday evenings when there was no
dinner-party, and when the great scarlet Bible and Prayer-book were
taken out from the corner where they stood beside his copy of the
Peerage, and the servants being rung up to the dining parlour,
Osborne read the evening service to his family in a loud grating
pompous voice. No member of the household, child, or domestic, ever
entered that room without a certain terror. Here he checked the
housekeeper's accounts, and overhauled the butler's cellar-book.
Hence he could command, across the clean gravel court-yard, the back
entrance of the stables with which one of his bells communicated,
and into this yard the coachman issued from his premises as into a
dock, and Osborne swore at him from the study window. Four times a
year Miss Wirt entered this apartment to get her salary; and his
daughters to receive their quarterly allowance. George as a boy had
been horsewhipped in this room many times; his mother sitting sick
on the stair listening to the cuts of the whip. The boy was
scarcely ever known to cry under the punishment; the poor woman used
to fondle and kiss him secretly, and give him money to soothe him
when he came out.
There was a picture of the family over the mantelpiece, removed
thither from the front room after Mrs. Osborne's death--George was
on a pony, the elder sister holding him up a bunch of flowers; the
younger led by her mother's hand; all with red cheeks and large red
mouths, simpering on each other in the approved family-portrait
manner. The mother lay underground now, long since forgotten--the
sisters and brother had a hundred different interests of their own,
and, familiar still, were utterly estranged from each other. Some
few score of years afterwards, when all the parties represented are
grown old, what bitter satire there is in those flaunting childish
family-portraits, with their farce of sentiment and smiling lies,
and innocence so self-conscious and self-satisfied. Osborne's own
state portrait, with that of his great silver inkstand and arm-
chair, had taken the place of honour in the dining-room, vacated by
To this study old Osborne retired then, greatly to the relief of the
small party whom he left. When the servants had withdrawn, they
began to talk for a while volubly but very low; then they went
upstairs quietly, Mr. Bullock accompanying them stealthily on his
creaking shoes. He had no heart to sit alone drinking wine, and so
close to the terrible old gentleman in the study hard at hand.
An hour at least after dark, the butler, not having received any
summons, ventured to tap at his door and take him in wax candles and
tea. The master of the house sate in his chair, pretending to read
the paper, and when the servant, placing the lights and refreshment
on the table by him, retired, Mr. Osborne got up and locked the door
after him. This time there was no mistaking the matter; all the
household knew that some great catastrophe was going to happen which
was likely direly to affect Master George.
In the large shining mahogany escritoire Mr. Osborne had a drawer
especially devoted to his son's affairs and papers. Here he kept
all the documents relating to him ever since he had been a boy: here
were his prize copy-books and drawing-books, all bearing George's
hand, and that of the master: here were his first letters in large
round-hand sending his love to papa and mamma, and conveying his
petitions for a cake. His dear godpapa Sedley was more than once
mentioned in them. Curses quivered on old Osborne's livid lips, and
horrid hatred and disappointment writhed in his heart, as looking
through some of these papers he came on that name. They were all
marked and docketed, and tied with red tape. It was--"From Georgy,
requesting 5s., April 23, 18--; answered, April 25"--or "Georgy
about a pony, October 13"--and so forth. In another packet were "Dr.
S.'s accounts"--"G.'s tailor's bills and outfits, drafts on me by G.
Osborne, jun.," &c.--his letters from the West Indies--his agent's
letters, and the newspapers containing his commissions: here was a
whip he had when a boy, and in a paper a locket containing his hair,
which his mother used to wear.
Turning one over after another, and musing over these memorials, the
unhappy man passed many hours. His dearest vanities, ambitious
hopes, had all been here. What pride he had in his boy! He was the
handsomest child ever seen. Everybody said he was like a nobleman's
son. A royal princess had remarked him, and kissed him, and asked
his name in Kew Gardens. What City man could show such another?
Could a prince have been better cared for? Anything that money
could buy had been his son's. He used to go down on speech-days
with four horses and new liveries, and scatter new shillings among
the boys at the school where George was: when he went with George
to the depot of his regiment, before the boy embarked for Canada, he
gave the officers such a dinner as the Duke of York might have sat
down to. Had he ever refused a bill when George drew one? There
they were--paid without a word. Many a general in the army couldn't
ride the horses he had! He had the child before his eyes, on a
hundred different days when he remembered George after dinner, when
he used to come in as bold as a lord and drink off his glass by his
father's side, at the head of the table--on the pony at Brighton,
when he cleared the hedge and kept up with the huntsman--on the day
when he was presented to the Prince Regent at the levee, when all
Saint James's couldn't produce a finer young fellow. And this, this
was the end of all!--to marry a bankrupt and fly in the face of duty
and fortune! What humiliation and fury: what pangs of sickening
rage, balked ambition and love; what wounds of outraged vanity,
tenderness even, had this old worldling now to suffer under!
Having examined these papers, and pondered over this one and the
other, in that bitterest of all helpless woe, with which miserable
men think of happy past times--George's father took the whole of the
documents out of the drawer in which he had kept them so long, and
locked them into a writing-box, which he tied, and sealed with his
seal. Then he opened the book-case, and took down the great red
Bible we have spoken of a pompous book, seldom looked at, and
shining all over with gold. There was a frontispiece to the volume,
representing Abraham sacrificing Isaac. Here, according to custom,
Osborne had recorded on the fly-leaf, and in his large clerk-like
hand, the dates of his marriage and his wife's death, and the births
and Christian names of his children. Jane came first, then George
Sedley Osborne, then Maria Frances, and the days of the christening
of each. Taking a pen, he carefully obliterated George's names from
the page; and when the leaf was quite dry, restored the volume to
the place from which he had moved it. Then he took a document out
of another drawer, where his own private papers were kept; and
having read it, crumpled it up and lighted it at one of the candles,
and saw it burn entirely away in the grate. It was his will; which
being burned, he sate down and wrote off a letter, and rang for his
servant, whom he charged to deliver it in the morning. It was
morning already: as he went up to bed, the whole house was alight
with the sunshine; and the birds were singing among the fresh green
leaves in Russell Square.
Anxious to keep all Mr. Osborne's family and dependants in good
humour, and to make as many friends as possible for George in his
hour of adversity, William Dobbin, who knew the effect which good
dinners and good wines have upon the soul of man, wrote off
immediately on his return to his inn the most hospitable of
invitations to Thomas Chopper, Esquire, begging that gentleman to
dine with him at the Slaughters' next day. The note reached Mr.
Chopper before he left the City, and the instant reply was, that
"Mr. Chopper presents his respectful compliments, and will have the
honour and pleasure of waiting on Captain D." The invitation and
the rough draft of the answer were shown to Mrs. Chopper and her
daughters on his return to Somers' Town that evening, and they
talked about military gents and West End men with great exultation
as the family sate and partook of tea. When the girls had gone to
rest, Mr. and Mrs. C. discoursed upon the strange events which were
occurring in the governor's family. Never had the clerk seen his
principal so moved. When he went in to Mr. Osborne, after Captain
Dobbin's departure, Mr. Chopper found his chief black in the face,
and all but in a fit: some dreadful quarrel, he was certain, had
occurred between Mr. O. and the young Captain. Chopper had been
instructed to make out an account of all sums paid to Captain
Osborne within the last three years. "And a precious lot of money
he has had too," the chief clerk said, and respected his old and
young master the more, for the liberal way in which the guineas had
been flung about. The dispute was something about Miss Sedley. Mrs.
Chopper vowed and declared she pitied that poor young lady to lose
such a handsome young fellow as the Capting. As the daughter of an
unlucky speculator, who had paid a very shabby dividend, Mr. Chopper
had no great regard for Miss Sedley. He respected the house of
Osborne before all others in the City of London: and his hope and
wish was that Captain George should marry a nobleman's daughter.
The clerk slept a great deal sounder than his principal that night;
and, cuddling his children after breakfast (of which he partook with
a very hearty appetite, though his modest cup of life was only
sweetened with brown sugar), he set off in his best Sunday suit and
frilled shirt for business, promising his admiring wife not to
punish Captain D.'s port too severely that evening.
Mr. Osborne's countenance, when he arrived in the City at his usual
time, struck those dependants who were accustomed, for good reasons,
to watch its expression, as peculiarly ghastly and worn. At twelve
o'clock Mr. Higgs (of the firm of Higgs & Blatherwick, solicitors,
Bedford Row) called by appointment, and was ushered into the
governor's private room, and closeted there for more than an hour.
At about one Mr. Chopper received a note brought by Captain Dobbin's
man, and containing an inclosure for Mr. Osborne, which the clerk
went in and delivered. A short time afterwards Mr. Chopper and Mr.
Birch, the next clerk, were summoned, and requested to witness a
paper. "I've been making a new will," Mr. Osborne said, to which
these gentlemen appended their names accordingly. No conversation
passed. Mr. Higgs looked exceedingly grave as he came into the
outer rooms, and very hard in Mr. Chopper's face; but there were not
any explanations. It was remarked that Mr. Osborne was particularly
quiet and gentle all day, to the surprise of those who had augured
ill from his darkling demeanour. He called no man names that day,
and was not heard to swear once. He left business early; and before
going away, summoned his chief clerk once more, and having given him
general instructions, asked him, after some seeming hesitation and
reluctance to speak, if he knew whether Captain Dobbin was in town?
Chopper said he believed he was. Indeed both of them knew the fact
Osborne took a letter directed to that officer, and giving it to the
clerk, requested the latter to deliver it into Dobbin's own hands
"And now, Chopper," says he, taking his hat, and with a strange
look, "my mind will be easy." Exactly as the clock struck two
(there was no doubt an appointment between the pair) Mr. Frederick
Bullock called, and he and Mr. Osborne walked away together.
The Colonel of the --th regiment, in which Messieurs Dobbin and
Osborne had companies, was an old General who had made his first
campaign under Wolfe at Quebec, and was long since quite too old and
feeble for command; but he took some interest in the regiment of
which he was the nominal head, and made certain of his young
officers welcome at his table, a kind of hospitality which I believe
is not now common amongst his brethren. Captain Dobbin was an
especial favourite of this old General. Dobbin was versed in the
literature of his profession, and could talk about the great
Frederick, and the Empress Queen, and their wars, almost as well as
the General himself, who was indifferent to the triumphs of the
present day, and whose heart was with the tacticians of fifty years
back. This officer sent a summons to Dobbin to come and breakfast
with him, on the morning when Mr. Osborne altered his will and Mr.
Chopper put on his best shirt frill, and then informed his young
favourite, a couple of days in advance, of that which they were all
expecting--a marching order to go to Belgium. The order for the
regiment to hold itself in readiness would leave the Horse Guards in
a day or two; and as transports were in plenty, they would get their
route before the week was over. Recruits had come in during the
stay of the regiment at Chatham; and the old General hoped that the
regiment which had helped to beat Montcalm in Canada, and to rout
Mr. Washington on Long Island, would prove itself worthy of its
historical reputation on the oft-trodden battle-grounds of the Low
Countries. "And so, my good friend, if you have any affaire la,
said the old General, taking a pinch of snuff with his trembling
white old hand, and then pointing to the spot of his robe de chambre
under which his heart was still feebly beating, "if you have any
Phillis to console, or to bid farewell to papa and mamma, or any
will to make, I recommend you to set about your business without
delay." With which the General gave his young friend a finger to
shake, and a good-natured nod of his powdered and pigtailed head;
and the door being closed upon Dobbin, sate down to pen a poulet (he
was exceedingly vain of his French) to Mademoiselle Amenaide of His
This news made Dobbin grave, and he thought of our friends at
Brighton, and then he was ashamed of himself that Amelia was always
the first thing in his thoughts (always before anybody--before
father and mother, sisters and duty--always at waking and sleeping
indeed, and all day long); and returning to his hotel, he sent off a
brief note to Mr. Osborne acquainting him with the information which
he had received, and which might tend farther, he hoped, to bring
about a reconciliation with George.
This note, despatched by the same messenger who had carried the
invitation to Chopper on the previous day, alarmed the worthy clerk
not a little. It was inclosed to him, and as he opened the letter
he trembled lest the dinner should be put off on which he was
calculating. His mind was inexpressibly relieved when he found that
the envelope was only a reminder for himself. ("I shall expect you
at half-past five," Captain Dobbin wrote.) He was very much
interested about his employer's family; but, que voulez-vous? a
grand dinner was of more concern to him than the affairs of any
Dobbin was quite justified in repeating the General's information to
any officers of the regiment whom he should see in the course of his
peregrinations; accordingly he imparted it to Ensign Stubble, whom
he met at the agent's, and who--such was his military ardour--went
off instantly to purchase a new sword at the accoutrement-maker's.
Here this young fellow, who, though only seventeen years of age, and
about sixty-five inches high, with a constitution naturally rickety
and much impaired by premature brandy and water, had an undoubted
courage and a lion's heart, poised, tried, bent, and balanced a
weapon such as he thought would do execution amongst Frenchmen.
Shouting "Ha, ha!" and stamping his little feet with tremendous
energy, he delivered the point twice or thrice at Captain Dobbin,
who parried the thrust laughingly with his bamboo walking-stick.
Mr. Stubble, as may be supposed from his size and slenderness, was
of the Light Bobs. Ensign Spooney, on the contrary, was a tall
youth, and belonged to (Captain Dobbin's) the Grenadier Company, and
he tried on a new bearskin cap, under which he looked savage beyond
his years. Then these two lads went off to the Slaughters', and
having ordered a famous dinner, sate down and wrote off letters to
the kind anxious parents at home--letters full of love and
heartiness, and pluck and bad spelling. Ah! there were many anxious
hearts beating through England at that time; and mothers' prayers
and tears flowing in many homesteads.
Seeing young Stubble engaged in composition at one of the coffee-
room tables at the Slaughters', and the tears trickling down his
nose on to the paper (for the youngster was thinking of his mamma,
and that he might never see her again), Dobbin, who was going to
write off a letter to George Osborne, relented, and locked up his
desk. "Why should I?" said he. "Let her have this night happy.
I'll go and see my parents early in the morning, and go down to
Brighton myself to-morrow."
So he went up and laid his big hand on young Stubble's shoulder, and
backed up that young champion, and told him if he would leave off
brandy and water he would be a good soldier, as he always was a
gentlemanly good-hearted fellow. Young Stubble's eyes brightened up
at this, for Dobbin was greatly respected in the regiment, as the
best officer and the cleverest man in it.
"Thank you, Dobbin," he said, rubbing his eyes with his knuckles, "I
was just--just telling her I would. And, O Sir, she's so dam kind
to me." The water pumps were at work again, and I am not sure that
the soft-hearted Captain's eyes did not also twinkle.
The two ensigns, the Captain, and Mr. Chopper, dined together in the
same box. Chopper brought the letter from Mr. Osborne, in which the
latter briefly presented his compliments to Captain Dobbin, and
requested him to forward the inclosed to Captain George Osborne.
Chopper knew nothing further; he described Mr. Osborne's appearance,
it is true, and his interview with his lawyer, wondered how the
governor had sworn at nobody, and--especially as the wine circled
round--abounded in speculations and conjectures. But these grew
more vague with every glass, and at length became perfectly
unintelligible. At a late hour Captain Dobbin put his guest into a
hackney coach, in a hiccupping state, and swearing that he would be
the kick--the kick--Captain's friend for ever and ever.
When Captain Dobbin took leave of Miss Osborne we have said that he
asked leave to come and pay her another visit, and the spinster
expected him for some hours the next day, when, perhaps, had he
come, and had he asked her that question which she was prepared to
answer, she would have declared herself as her brother's friend, and
a reconciliation might have been effected between George and his
angry father. But though she waited at home the Captain never came.
He had his own affairs to pursue; his own parents to visit and
console; and at an early hour of the day to take his place on the
Lightning coach, and go down to his friends at Brighton. In the
course of the day Miss Osborne heard her father give orders that
that meddling scoundrel, Captain Dobbin, should never be admitted
within his doors again, and any hopes in which she may have indulged
privately were thus abruptly brought to an end. Mr. Frederick
Bullock came, and was particularly affectionate to Maria, and
attentive to the broken-spirited old gentleman. For though he said
his mind would be easy, the means which he had taken to secure quiet
did not seem to have succeeded as yet, and the events of the past
two days had visibly shattered him.
In Which All the Principal Personages Think Fit to Leave Brighton
Conducted to the ladies, at the Ship Inn, Dobbin assumed a jovial
and rattling manner, which proved that this young officer was
becoming a more consummate hypocrite every day of his life. He was
trying to hide his own private feelings, first upon seeing Mrs.
George Osborne in her new condition, and secondly to mask the
apprehensions he entertained as to the effect which the dismal news
brought down by him would certainly have upon her.
"It is my opinion, George," he said, "that the French Emperor will
be upon us, horse and foot, before three weeks are over, and will
give the Duke such a dance as shall make the Peninsula appear mere
child's play. But you need not say that to Mrs. Osborne, you know.
There mayn't be any fighting on our side after all, and our business
in Belgium may turn out to be a mere military occupation. Many
persons think so; and Brussels is full of fine people and ladies of
fashion." So it was agreed to represent the duty of the British army
in Belgium in this harmless light to Amelia.
This plot being arranged, the hypocritical Dobbin saluted Mrs.
George Osborne quite gaily, tried to pay her one or two compliments
relative to her new position as a bride (which compliments, it must
be confessed, were exceedingly clumsy and hung fire woefully), and
then fell to talking about Brighton, and the sea-air, and the
gaieties of the place, and the beauties of the road and the merits
of the Lightning coach and horses--all in a manner quite
incomprehensible to Amelia, and very amusing to Rebecca, who was
watching the Captain, as indeed she watched every one near whom she
Little Amelia, it must be owned, had rather a mean opinion of her
husband's friend, Captain Dobbin. He lisped--he was very plain and
homely-looking: and exceedingly awkward and ungainly. She liked him
for his attachment to her husband (to be sure there was very little
merit in that), and she thought George was most generous and kind in
extending his friendship to his brother officer. George had mimicked
Dobbin's lisp and queer manners many times to her, though to do him
justice, he always spoke most highly of his friend's good qualities.
In her little day of triumph, and not knowing him intimately as yet,
she made light of honest William--and he knew her opinions of him
quite well, and acquiesced in them very humbly. A time came when
she knew him better, and changed her notions regarding him; but that
was distant as yet.
As for Rebecca, Captain Dobbin had not been two hours in the ladies'
company before she understood his secret perfectly. She did not
like him, and feared him privately; nor was he very much
prepossessed in her favour. He was so honest, that her arts and
cajoleries did not affect him, and he shrank from her with
instinctive repulsion. And, as she was by no means so far superior
to her sex as to be above jealousy, she disliked him the more for
his adoration of Amelia. Nevertheless, she was very respectful and
cordial in her manner towards him. A friend to the Osbornes! a
friend to her dearest benefactors! She vowed she should always love
him sincerely: she remembered him quite well on the Vauxhall night,
as she told Amelia archly, and she made a little fun of him when the
two ladies went to dress for dinner. Rawdon Crawley paid scarcely
any attention to Dobbin, looking upon him as a good-natured
nincompoop and under-bred City man. Jos patronised him with much
When George and Dobbin were alone in the latter's room, to which
George had followed him, Dobbin took from his desk the letter which
he had been charged by Mr. Osborne to deliver to his son. "It's not
in my father's handwriting," said George, looking rather alarmed;
nor was it: the letter was from Mr. Osborne's lawyer, and to the
"Bedford Row, May 7, 1815.
"I am commissioned by Mr. Osborne to inform you, that he abides by
the determination which he before expressed to you, and that in
consequence of the marriage which you have been pleased to contract,
he ceases to consider you henceforth as a member of his family. This
determination is final and irrevocable.
"Although the monies expended upon you in your minority, and the
bills which you have drawn upon him so unsparingly of late years,
far exceed in amount the sum to which you are entitled in your own
right (being the third part of the fortune of your mother, the late
Mrs. Osborne and which reverted to you at her decease, and to Miss
Jane Osborne and Miss Maria Frances Osborne); yet I am instructed by
Mr. Osborne to say, that he waives all claim upon your estate, and
that the sum of 2,000 pounds, 4 per cent. annuities, at the value of
the day (being your one-third share of the sum of 6,000 pounds),
shall be paid over to yourself or your agents upon your receipt
for the same, by
"Your obedient Servt.,
"P.S.--Mr. Osborne desires me to say, once for all, that he declines
to receive any messages, letters, or communications from you on this
or any other subject.
"A pretty way you have managed the affair," said George, looking
savagely at William Dobbin. "Look there, Dobbin," and he flung over
to the latter his parent's letter. "A beggar, by Jove, and all in
consequence of my d--d sentimentality. Why couldn't we have waited?
A ball might have done for me in the course of the war, and may
still, and how will Emmy be bettered by being left a beggar's widow?
It was all your doing. You were never easy until you had got me
married and ruined. What the deuce am I to do with two thousand
pounds? Such a sum won't last two years. I've lost a hundred and
forty to Crawley at cards and billiards since I've been down here.
A pretty manager of a man's matters YOU are, forsooth."
"There's no denying that the position is a hard one," Dobbin
replied, after reading over the letter with a blank countenance;
"and as you say, it is partly of my making. There are some men who
wouldn't mind changing with you," he added, with a bitter smile.
"How many captains in the regiment have two thousand pounds to the
fore, think you? You must live on your pay till your father
relents, and if you die, you leave your wife a hundred a year."
"Do you suppose a man of my habits call live on his pay and a
hundred a year?" George cried out in great anger. "You must be a
fool to talk so, Dobbin. How the deuce am I to keep up my position
in the world upon such a pitiful pittance? I can't change my
habits. I must have my comforts. I wasn't brought up on porridge,
like MacWhirter, or on potatoes, like old O'Dowd. Do you expect my
wife to take in soldiers' washing, or ride after the regiment in a
"Well, well," said Dobbin, still good-naturedly, "we'll get her a
better conveyance. But try and remember that you are only a
dethroned prince now, George, my boy; and be quiet whilst the
tempest lasts. It won't be for long. Let your name be mentioned in
the Gazette, and I'll engage the old father relents towards you:"
"Mentioned in the Gazette!" George answered. "And in what part of
it? Among the killed and wounded returns, and at the top of the
list, very likely."
"Psha! It will be time enough to cry out when we are hurt," Dobbin
said. "And if anything happens, you know, George, I have got a
little, and I am not a marrying man, and I shall not forget my
godson in my will," he added, with a smile. Whereupon the dispute
ended--as many scores of such conversations between Osborne and his
friend had concluded previously--by the former declaring there was
no possibility of being angry with Dobbin long, and forgiving him
very generously after abusing him without cause.
"I say, Becky," cried Rawdon Crawley out of his dressing-room, to
his lady, who was attiring herself for dinner in her own chamber.
"What?" said Becky's shrill voice. She was looking over her
shoulder in the glass. She had put on the neatest and freshest
white frock imaginable, and with bare shoulders and a little
necklace, and a light blue sash, she looked the image of youthful
innocence and girlish happiness.
"I say, what'll Mrs. O. do, when O. goes out with the regiment?"
Crawley said coming into the room, performing a duet on his head
with two huge hair-brushes, and looking out from under his hair with
admiration on his pretty little wife.
"I suppose she'll cry her eyes out," Becky answered. "She has been
whimpering half a dozen times, at the very notion of it, already to
"YOU don't care, I suppose?" Rawdon said, half angry at his wife's
want of feeling.
"You wretch! don't you know that I intend to go with you," Becky
replied. "Besides, you're different. You go as General Tufto's
aide-de-camp. We don't belong to the line," Mrs. Crawley said,
throwing up her head with an air that so enchanted her husband that
he stooped down and kissed it.
"Rawdon dear--don't you think--you'd better get that--money from
Cupid, before he goes?" Becky continued, fixing on a killing bow.
She called George Osborne, Cupid. She had flattered him about his
good looks a score of times already. She watched over him kindly at
ecarte of a night when he would drop in to Rawdon's quarters for a
half-hour before bed-time.
She had often called him a horrid dissipated wretch, and threatened
to tell Emmy of his wicked ways and naughty extravagant habits. She
brought his cigar and lighted it for him; she knew the effect of
that manoeuvre, having practised it in former days upon Rawdon
Crawley. He thought her gay, brisk, arch, distinguee, delightful. In
their little drives and dinners, Becky, of course, quite outshone
poor Emmy, who remained very mute and timid while Mrs. Crawley and
her husband rattled away together, and Captain Crawley (and Jos
after he joined the young married people) gobbled in silence.
Emmy's mind somehow misgave her about her friend. Rebecca's wit,
spirits, and accomplishments troubled her with a rueful disquiet.
They were only a week married, and here was George already suffering
ennui, and eager for others' society! She trembled for the future.
How shall I be a companion for him, she thought--so clever and so
brilliant, and I such a humble foolish creature? How noble it was of
him to marry me--to give up everything and stoop down to me! I
ought to have refused him, only I had not the heart. I ought to
have stopped at home and taken care of poor Papa. And her neglect
of her parents (and indeed there was some foundation for this charge
which the poor child's uneasy conscience brought against her) was
now remembered for the first time, and caused her to blush with
humiliation. Oh! thought she, I have been very wicked and selfish--
selfish in forgetting them in their sorrows--selfish in forcing
George to marry me. I know I'm not worthy of him--I know he would
have been happy without me--and yet--I tried, I tried to give him
It is hard when, before seven days of marriage are over, such
thoughts and confessions as these force themselves on a little
bride's mind. But so it was, and the night before Dobbin came to
join these young people--on a fine brilliant moonlight night of May-
-so warm and balmy that the windows were flung open to the balcony,
from which George and Mrs. Crawley were gazing upon the calm ocean
spread shining before them, while Rawdon and Jos were engaged at
backgammon within--Amelia couched in a great chair quite neglected,
and watching both these parties, felt a despair and remorse such as
were bitter companions for that tender lonely soul. Scarce a week
was past, and it was come to this! The future, had she regarded it,
offered a dismal prospect; but Emmy was too shy, so to speak, to
look to that, and embark alone on that wide sea, and unfit to
navigate it without a guide and protector. I know Miss Smith has a
mean opinion of her. But how many, my dear Madam, are endowed with
your prodigious strength of mind?
"Gad, what a fine night, and how bright the moon is!" George said,
with a puff of his cigar, which went soaring up skywards.
"How delicious they smell in the open air! I adore them. Who'd
think the moon was two hundred and thirty-six thousand eight hundred
and forty-seven miles off?" Becky added, gazing at that orb with a
smile. "Isn't it clever of me to remember that? Pooh! we learned
it all at Miss Pinkerton's! How calm the sea is, and how clear
everything. I declare I can almost see the coast of France!" and
her bright green eyes streamed out, and shot into the night as if
they could see through it.
"Do you know what I intend to do one morning?" she said; "I find I
can swim beautifully, and some day, when my Aunt Crawley's
companion--old Briggs, you know--you remember her--that hook-nosed
woman, with the long wisps of hair--when Briggs goes out to bathe, I
intend to dive under her awning, and insist on a reconciliation in
the water. Isn't that a stratagem?"
George burst out laughing at the idea of this aquatic meeting.
"What's the row there, you two?" Rawdon shouted out, rattling the
box. Amelia was making a fool of herself in an absurd hysterical
manner, and retired to her own room to whimper in private.
Our history is destined in this chapter to go backwards and forwards
in a very irresolute manner seemingly, and having conducted our
story to to-morrow presently, we shall immediately again have
occasion to step back to yesterday, so that the whole of the tale
may get a hearing. As you behold at her Majesty's drawing-room, the
ambassadors' and high dignitaries' carriages whisk off from a
private door, while Captain Jones's ladies are waiting for their
fly: as you see in the Secretary of the Treasury's antechamber, a
half-dozen of petitioners waiting patiently for their audience, and
called out one by one, when suddenly an Irish member or some eminent
personage enters the apartment, and instantly walks into Mr. Under-
Secretary over the heads of all the people present: so in the
conduct of a tale, the romancer is obliged to exercise this most
partial sort of justice. Although all the little incidents must be
heard, yet they must be put off when the great events make their
appearance; and surely such a circumstance as that which brought
Dobbin to Brighton, viz., the ordering out of the Guards and the
line to Belgium, and the mustering of the allied armies in that
country under the command of his Grace the Duke of Wellington--such
a dignified circumstance as that, I say, was entitled to the pas
over all minor occurrences whereof this history is composed mainly,
and hence a little trifling disarrangement and disorder was
excusable and becoming. We have only now advanced in time so far
beyond Chapter XXII as to have got our various characters up into
their dressing-rooms before the dinner, which took place as usual on
the day of Dobbin's arrival.
George was too humane or too much occupied with the tie of his
neckcloth to convey at once all the news to Amelia which his comrade
had brought with him from London. He came into her room, however,
holding the attorney's letter in his hand, and with so solemn and
important an air that his wife, always ingeniously on the watch for
calamity, thought the worst was about to befall, and running up to
her husband, besought her dearest George to tell her everything--he
was ordered abroad; there would be a battle next week--she knew
Dearest George parried the question about foreign service, and with
a melancholy shake of the head said, "No, Emmy; it isn't that: it's
not myself I care about: it's you. I have had bad news from my
father. He refuses any communication with me; he has flung us off;
and leaves us to poverty. I can rough it well enough; but you, my
dear, how will you bear it? read here." And he handed her over the
Amelia, with a look of tender alarm in her eyes, listened to her
noble hero as he uttered the above generous sentiments, and sitting
down on the bed, read the letter which George gave her with such a
pompous martyr-like air. Her face cleared up as she read the
document, however. The idea of sharing poverty and privation in
company with the beloved object is, as we have before said, far from
being disagreeable to a warm-hearted woman. The notion was actually
pleasant to little Amelia. Then, as usual, she was ashamed of
herself for feeling happy at such an indecorous moment, and checked
her pleasure, saying demurely, "O, George, how your poor heart must
bleed at the idea of being separated from your papa!"
"It does," said George, with an agonised countenance.
"But he can't be angry with you long," she continued. "Nobody could,
I'm sure. He must forgive you, my dearest, kindest husband. O, I
shall never forgive myself if he does not."
"What vexes me, my poor Emmy, is not my misfortune, but yours,"
George said. "I don't care for a little poverty; and I think,
without vanity, I've talents enough to make my own way."
"That you have," interposed his wife, who thought that war should
cease, and her husband should be made a general instantly.
"Yes, I shall make my way as well as another," Osborne went on; "but
you, my dear girl, how can I bear your being deprived of the
comforts and station in society which my wife had a right to expect?
My dearest girl in barracks; the wife of a soldier in a marching
regiment; subject to all sorts of annoyance and privation! It makes
Emmy, quite at ease, as this was her husband's only cause of
disquiet, took his hand, and with a radiant face and smile began to
warble that stanza from the favourite song of "Wapping Old Stairs,"
in which the heroine, after rebuking her Tom for inattention,
promises "his trousers to mend, and his grog too to make," if he
will be constant and kind, and not forsake her. "Besides," she
said, after a pause, during which she looked as pretty and happy as
any young woman need, "isn't two thousand pounds an immense deal of
George laughed at her naivete; and finally they went down to dinner,
Amelia clinging to George's arm, still warbling the tune of "Wapping
Old Stairs," and more pleased and light of mind than she had been
for some days past.
Thus the repast, which at length came off, instead of being dismal,
was an exceedingly brisk and merry one. The excitement of the
campaign counteracted in George's mind the depression occasioned by
the disinheriting letter. Dobbin still kept up his character of
rattle. He amused the company with accounts of the army in Belgium;
where nothing but fetes and gaiety and fashion were going on. Then,
having a particular end in view, this dexterous captain proceeded to
describe Mrs. Major O'Dowd packing her own and her Major's wardrobe,
and how his best epaulets had been stowed into a tea canister,
whilst her own famous yellow turban, with the bird of paradise
wrapped in brown paper, was locked up in the Major's tin cocked-hat
case, and wondered what effect it would have at the French king's
court at Ghent, or the great military balls at Brussels.
"Ghent! Brussels!" cried out Amelia with a sudden shock and start.
"Is the regiment ordered away, George--is it ordered away?" A look
of terror came over the sweet smiling face, and she clung to George
as by an instinct.
"Don't be afraid, dear," he said good-naturedly; "it is but a twelve
hours' passage. It won't hurt you. You shall go, too, Emmy."
"I intend to go," said Becky. "I'm on the staff. General Tufto is
a great flirt of mine. Isn't he, Rawdon?" Rawdon laughed out with
his usual roar. William Dobbin flushed up quite red. "She can't
go," he said; "think of the--of the danger," he was going to add;
but had not all his conversation during dinner-time tended to prove
there was none? He became very confused and silent.
"I must and will go," Amelia cried with the greatest spirit; and
George, applauding her resolution, patted her under the chin, and
asked all the persons present if they ever saw such a termagant of a
wife, and agreed that the lady should bear him company. "We'll have
Mrs. O'Dowd to chaperon you," he said. What cared she so long as
her husband was near her? Thus somehow the bitterness of a parting
was juggled away. Though war and danger were in store, war and
danger might not befall for months to come. There was a respite at
any rate, which made the timid little Amelia almost as happy as a
full reprieve would have done, and which even Dobbin owned in his
heart was very welcome. For, to be permitted to see her was now the
greatest privilege and hope of his life, and he thought with himself
secretly how he would watch and protect her. I wouldn't have let
her go if I had been married to her, he thought. But George was the
master, and his friend did not think fit to remonstrate.
Putting her arm round her friend's waist, Rebecca at length carried
Amelia off from the dinner-table where so much business of
importance had been discussed, and left the gentlemen in a highly
exhilarated state, drinking and talking very gaily.
In the course of the evening Rawdon got a little family-note from
his wife, which, although he crumpled it up and burnt it instantly
in the candle, we had the good luck to read over Rebecca's shoulder.
"Great news," she wrote. "Mrs. Bute is gone. Get the money from
Cupid tonight, as he'll be off to-morrow most likely. Mind this.--
R." So when the little company was about adjourning to coffee in the
women's apartment, Rawdon touched Osborne on the elbow, and said
gracefully, "I say, Osborne, my boy, if quite convenient, I'll
trouble you for that 'ere small trifle." It was not quite
convenient, but nevertheless George gave him a considerable present
instalment in bank-notes from his pocket-book, and a bill on his
agents at a week's date, for the remaining sum.
This matter arranged, George, and Jos, and Dobbin, held a council of
war over their cigars, and agreed that a general move should be made
for London in Jos's open carriage the next day. Jos, I think, would
have preferred staying until Rawdon Crawley quitted Brighton, but
Dobbin and George overruled him, and he agreed to carry the party to
town, and ordered four horses, as became his dignity. With these
they set off in state, after breakfast, the next day. Amelia had
risen very early in the morning, and packed her little trunks with
the greatest alacrity, while Osborne lay in bed deploring that she
had not a maid to help her. She was only too glad, however, to
perform this office for herself. A dim uneasy sentiment about
Rebecca filled her mind already; and although they kissed each other
most tenderly at parting, yet we know what jealousy is; and Mrs.
Amelia possessed that among other virtues of her sex.
Besides these characters who are coming and going away, we must
remember that there were some other old friends of ours at Brighton;
Miss Crawley, namely, and the suite in attendance upon her. Now,
although Rebecca and her husband were but at a few stones' throw of
the lodgings which the invalid Miss Crawley occupied, the old lady's
door remained as pitilessly closed to them as it had been heretofore
in London. As long as she remained by the side of her sister-in-
law, Mrs. Bute Crawley took care that her beloved Matilda should not
be agitated by a meeting with her nephew. When the spinster took
her drive, the faithful Mrs. Bute sate beside her in the carriage.
When Miss Crawley took the air in a chair, Mrs. Bute marched on one
side of the vehicle, whilst honest Briggs occupied the other wing.
And if they met Rawdon and his wife by chance--although the former
constantly and obsequiously took off his hat, the Miss-Crawley party
passed him by with such a frigid and killing indifference, that
Rawdon began to despair.
"We might as well be in London as here," Captain Rawdon often said,
with a downcast air.
"A comfortable inn in Brighton is better than a spunging-house in
Chancery Lane," his wife answered, who was of a more cheerful
temperament. "Think of those two aides-de-camp of Mr. Moses, the
sheriff's-officer, who watched our lodging for a week. Our friends
here are very stupid, but Mr. Jos and Captain Cupid are better
companions than Mr. Moses's men, Rawdon, my love."
"I wonder the writs haven't followed me down here," Rawdon
continued, still desponding.
"When they do, we'll find means to give them the slip," said
dauntless little Becky, and further pointed out to her husband the
great comfort and advantage of meeting Jos and Osborne, whose
acquaintance had brought to Rawdon Crawley a most timely little
supply of ready money.
"It will hardly be enough to pay the inn bill," grumbled the
"Why need we pay it?" said the lady, who had an answer for
Through Rawdon's valet, who still kept up a trifling acquaintance
with the male inhabitants of Miss Crawley's servants' hall, and was
instructed to treat the coachman to drink whenever they met, old
Miss Crawley's movements were pretty well known by our young couple;
and Rebecca luckily bethought herself of being unwell, and of
calling in the same apothecary who was in attendance upon the
spinster, so that their information was on the whole tolerably
complete. Nor was Miss Briggs, although forced to adopt a hostile
attitude, secretly inimical to Rawdon and his wife. She was
naturally of a kindly and forgiving disposition. Now that the cause
of jealousy was removed, her dislike for Rebecca disappeared also,
and she remembered the latter's invariable good words and good
humour. And, indeed, she and Mrs. Firkin, the lady's-maid, and the
whole of Miss Crawley's household, groaned under the tyranny of the
triumphant Mrs. Bute.
As often will be the case, that good but imperious woman pushed her
advantages too far, and her successes quite unmercifully. She had
in the course of a few weeks brought the invalid to such a state of
helpless docility, that the poor soul yielded herself entirely to
her sister's orders, and did not even dare to complain of her
slavery to Briggs or Firkin. Mrs. Bute measured out the glasses of
wine which Miss Crawley was daily allowed to take, with irresistible
accuracy, greatly to the annoyance of Firkin and the butler, who
found themselves deprived of control over even the sherry-bottle.
She apportioned the sweetbreads, jellies, chickens; their quantity
and order. Night and noon and morning she brought the abominable
drinks ordained by the Doctor, and made her patient swallow them
with so affecting an obedience that Firkin said "my poor Missus du
take her physic like a lamb." She prescribed the drive in the
carriage or the ride in the chair, and, in a word, ground down the
old lady in her convalescence in such a way as only belongs to your
proper-managing, motherly moral woman. If ever the patient faintly
resisted, and pleaded for a little bit more dinner or a little drop
less medicine, the nurse threatened her with instantaneous death,
when Miss Crawley instantly gave in. "She's no spirit left in her,"
Firkin remarked to Briggs; "she ain't ave called me a fool these
three weeks." Finally, Mrs. Bute had made up her mind to dismiss the
aforesaid honest lady's-maid, Mr. Bowls the large confidential man,
and Briggs herself, and to send for her daughters from the Rectory,
previous to removing the dear invalid bodily to Queen's Crawley,
when an odious accident happened which called her away from duties
so pleasing. The Reverend Bute Crawley, her husband, riding home
one night, fell with his horse and broke his collar-bone. Fever and
inflammatory symptoms set in, and Mrs. Bute was forced to leave
Sussex for Hampshire. As soon as ever Bute was restored, she
promised to return to her dearest friend, and departed, leaving the
strongest injunctions with the household regarding their behaviour
to their mistress; and as soon as she got into the Southampton
coach, there was such a jubilee and sense of relief in all Miss
Crawley's house, as the company of persons assembled there had not
experienced for many a week before. That very day Miss Crawley left
off her afternoon dose of medicine: that afternoon Bowls opened an
independent bottle of sherry for himself and Mrs. Firkin: that
night Miss Crawley and Miss Briggs indulged in a game of piquet
instead of one of Porteus's sermons. It was as in the old nursery-
story, when the stick forgot to beat the dog, and the whole course
of events underwent a peaceful and happy revolution.
At a very early hour in the morning, twice or thrice a week, Miss
Briggs used to betake herself to a bathing-machine, and disport in
the water in a flannel gown and an oilskin cap. Rebecca, as we have
seen, was aware of this circumstance, and though she did not attempt
to storm Briggs as she had threatened, and actually dive into that
lady's presence and surprise her under the sacredness of the awning,
Mrs. Rawdon determined to attack Briggs as she came away from her
bath, refreshed and invigorated by her dip, and likely to be in good
So getting up very early the next morning, Becky brought the
telescope in their sitting-room, which faced the sea, to bear upon
the bathing-machines on the beach; saw Briggs arrive, enter her box;
and put out to sea; and was on the shore just as the nymph of whom
she came in quest stepped out of the little caravan on to the
shingles. It was a pretty picture: the beach; the bathing-women's
faces; the long line of rocks and building were blushing and bright
in the sunshine. Rebecca wore a kind, tender smile on her face, and
was holding out her pretty white hand as Briggs emerged from the
box. What could Briggs do but accept the salutation?
"Miss Sh--Mrs. Crawley," she said.
Mrs. Crawley seized her hand, pressed it to her heart, and with a
sudden impulse, flinging her arms round Briggs, kissed her
affectionately. "Dear, dear friend!" she said, with a touch of such
natural feeling, that Miss Briggs of course at once began to melt,
and even the bathing-woman was mollified.
Rebecca found no difficulty in engaging Briggs in a long, intimate,
and delightful conversation. Everything that had passed since the
morning of Becky's sudden departure from Miss Crawley's house in
Park Lane up to the present day, and Mrs. Bute's happy retreat, was
discussed and described by Briggs. All Miss Crawley's symptoms, and
the particulars of her illness and medical treatment, were narrated
by the confidante with that fulness and accuracy which women delight
in. About their complaints and their doctors do ladies ever tire of
talking to each other? Briggs did not on this occasion; nor did
Rebecca weary of listening. She was thankful, truly thankful, that
the dear kind Briggs, that the faithful, the invaluable Firkin, had
been permitted to remain with their benefactress through her
illness. Heaven bless her! though she, Rebecca, had seemed to act
undutifully towards Miss Crawley; yet was not her fault a natural
and excusable one? Could she help giving her hand to the man who had
won her heart? Briggs, the sentimental, could only turn up her eyes
to heaven at this appeal, and heave a sympathetic sigh, and think
that she, too, had given away her affections long years ago, and own
that Rebecca was no very great criminal.
"Can I ever forget her who so befriended the friendless orphan? No,
though she has cast me off," the latter said, "I shall never cease
to love her, and I would devote my life to her service. As my own
benefactress, as my beloved Rawdon's adored relative, I love and
admire Miss Crawley, dear Miss Briggs, beyond any woman in the
world, and next to her I love all those who are faithful to her. I
would never have treated Miss Crawley's faithful friends as that
odious designing Mrs. Bute has done. Rawdon, who was all heart,"
Rebecca continued, "although his outward manners might seem rough
and careless, had said a hundred times, with tears in his eyes, that
he blessed Heaven for sending his dearest Aunty two such admirable
nurses as her attached Firkin and her admirable Miss Briggs. Should
the machinations of the horrible Mrs. Bute end, as she too much
feared they would, in banishing everybody that Miss Crawley loved
from her side, and leaving that poor lady a victim to those harpies
at the Rectory, Rebecca besought her (Miss Briggs) to remember that
her own home, humble as it was, was always open to receive Briggs.
Dear friend," she exclaimed, in a transport of enthusiasm, "some
hearts can never forget benefits; all women are not Bute Crawleys!
Though why should I complain of her," Rebecca added; "though I have
been her tool and the victim to her arts, do I not owe my dearest
Rawdon to her?" And Rebecca unfolded to Briggs all Mrs. Bute's
conduct at Queen's Crawley, which, though unintelligible to her
then, was clearly enough explained by the events now--now that the
attachment had sprung up which Mrs. Bute had encouraged by a
thousand artifices--now that two innocent people had fallen into the
snares which she had laid for them, and loved and married and been
ruined through her schemes.
It was all very true. Briggs saw the stratagems as clearly as
possible. Mrs. Bute had made the match between Rawdon and Rebecca.
Yet, though the latter was a perfectly innocent victim, Miss Briggs
could not disguise from her friend her fear that Miss Crawley's
affections were hopelessly estranged from Rebecca, and that the old
lady would never forgive her nephew for making so imprudent a
On this point Rebecca had her own opinion, and still kept up a good
heart. If Miss Crawley did not forgive them at present, she might
at least relent on a future day. Even now, there was only that
puling, sickly Pitt Crawley between Rawdon and a baronetcy; and
should anything happen to the former, all would be well. At all
events, to have Mrs. Bute's designs exposed, and herself well
abused, was a satisfaction, and might be advantageous to Rawdon's
interest; and Rebecca, after an hour's chat with her recovered
friend, left her with the most tender demonstrations of regard, and
quite assured that the conversation they had had together would be
reported to Miss Crawley before many hours were over.
This interview ended, it became full time for Rebecca to return to
her inn, where all the party of the previous day were assembled at a
farewell breakfast. Rebecca took such a tender leave of Amelia as
became two women who loved each other as sisters; and having used
her handkerchief plentifully, and hung on her friend's neck as if
they were parting for ever, and waved the handkerchief (which was
quite dry, by the way) out of window, as the carriage drove off, she
came back to the breakfast table, and ate some prawns with a good
deal of appetite, considering her emotion; and while she was
munching these delicacies, explained to Rawdon what had occurred in
her morning walk between herself and Briggs. Her hopes were very
high: she made her husband share them. She generally succeeded in
making her husband share all her opinions, whether melancholy or
"You will now, if you please, my dear, sit down at the writing-table
and pen me a pretty little letter to Miss Crawley, in which you'll
say that you are a good boy, and that sort of thing." So Rawdon
sate down, and wrote off, "Brighton, Thursday," and "My dear Aunt,"
with great rapidity: but there the gallant officer's imagination
failed him. He mumbled the end of his pen, and looked up in his
wife's face. She could not help laughing at his rueful countenance,
and marching up and down the room with her hands behind her, the
little woman began to dictate a letter, which he took down.
"Before quitting the country and commencing a campaign, which very
possibly may be fatal."
"What?" said Rawdon, rather surprised, but took the humour of the
phrase, and presently wrote it down with a grin.
"Which very possibly may be fatal, I have come hither--"
"Why not say come here, Becky? Come here's grammar," the dragoon
"I have come hither," Rebecca insisted, with a stamp of her foot,
"to say farewell to my dearest and earliest friend. I beseech you
before I go, not perhaps to return, once more to let me press the
hand from which I have received nothing but kindnesses all my life."
"Kindnesses all my life," echoed Rawdon, scratching down the words,
and quite amazed at his own facility of composition.
"I ask nothing from you but that we should part not in anger. I
have the pride of my family on some points, though not on all. I
married a painter's daughter, and am not ashamed of the union."
"No, run me through the body if I am!" Rawdon ejaculated.
"You old booby," Rebecca said, pinching his ear and looking over to
see that he made no mistakes in spelling--"beseech is not spelt with
an a, and earliest is." So he altered these words, bowing to the
superior knowledge of his little Missis.
"I thought that you were aware of the progress of my attachment,"
Rebecca continued: "I knew that Mrs. Bute Crawley confirmed and
encouraged it. But I make no reproaches. I married a poor woman,
and am content to abide by what I have done. Leave your property,
dear Aunt, as you will. I shall never complain of the way in which
you dispose of it. I would have you believe that I love you for
yourself, and not for money's sake. I want to be reconciled to you
ere I leave England. Let me, let me see you before I go. A few
weeks or months hence it may be too late, and I cannot bear the
notion of quitting the country without a kind word of farewell from
"She won't recognise my style in that," said Becky. "I made the
sentences short and brisk on purpose." And this authentic missive
was despatched under cover to Miss Briggs.
Old Miss Crawley laughed when Briggs, with great mystery, handed her
over this candid and simple statement. "We may read it now Mrs.
Bute is away," she said. "Read it to me, Briggs."
When Briggs had read the epistle out, her patroness laughed more.
"Don't you see, you goose," she said to Briggs, who professed to be
much touched by the honest affection which pervaded the composition,
"don't you see that Rawdon never wrote a word of it. He never wrote
to me without asking for money in his life, and all his letters are
full of bad spelling, and dashes, and bad grammar. It is that
little serpent of a governess who rules him." They are all alike,
Miss Crawley thought in her heart. They all want me dead, and are
hankering for my money.
"I don't mind seeing Rawdon," she added, after a pause, and in a
tone of perfect indifference. "I had just as soon shake hands with
him as not. Provided there is no scene, why shouldn't we meet? I
don't mind. But human patience has its limits; and mind, my dear, I
respectfully decline to receive Mrs. Rawdon--I can't support that
quite"--and Miss Briggs was fain to be content with this half-
message of conciliation; and thought that the best method of
bringing the old lady and her nephew together, was to warn Rawdon to
be in waiting on the Cliff, when Miss Crawley went out for her air
in her chair. There they met. I don't know whether Miss Crawley
had any private feeling of regard or emotion upon seeing her old
favourite; but she held out a couple of fingers to him with as
smiling and good-humoured an air, as if they had met only the day
before. And as for Rawdon, he turned as red as scarlet, and wrung
off Briggs's hand, so great was his rapture and his confusion at the
meeting. Perhaps it was interest that moved him: or perhaps
affection: perhaps he was touched by the change which the illness
of the last weeks had wrought in his aunt.
"The old girl has always acted like a trump to me," he said to his
wife, as he narrated the interview, "and I felt, you know, rather
queer, and that sort of thing. I walked by the side of the what-
dy'e-call-'em, you know, and to her own door, where Bowls came to
help her in. And I wanted to go in very much, only--"
"YOU DIDN'T GO IN, Rawdon!" screamed his wife.
"No, my dear; I'm hanged if I wasn't afraid when it came to the
"You fool! you ought to have gone in, and never come out again,"
"Don't call me names," said the big Guardsman, sulkily. "Perhaps I
WAS a fool, Becky, but you shouldn't say so"; and he gave his wife a
look, such as his countenance could wear when angered, and such as
was not pleasant to face.
"Well, dearest, to-morrow you must be on the look-out, and go and
see her, mind, whether she asks you or no," Rebecca said, trying to
soothe her angry yoke-mate. On which he replied, that he would do
exactly as he liked, and would just thank her to keep a civil tongue
in her head--and the wounded husband went away, and passed the
forenoon at the billiard-room, sulky, silent, and suspicious.
But before the night was over he was compelled to give in, and own,
as usual, to his wife's superior prudence and foresight, by the most
melancholy confirmation of the presentiments which she had regarding
the consequences of the mistake which he had made. Miss Crawley
must have had some emotion upon seeing him and shaking hands with
him after so long a rupture. She mused upon the meeting a
considerable time. "Rawdon is getting very fat and old, Briggs,"
she said to her companion. "His nose has become red, and he is
exceedingly coarse in appearance. His marriage to that woman has
hopelessly vulgarised him. Mrs. Bute always said they drank
together; and I have no doubt they do. Yes: he smelt of gin
abominably. I remarked it. Didn't you?"
In vain Briggs interposed that Mrs. Bute spoke ill of everybody:
and, as far as a person in her humble position could judge, was an--
"An artful designing woman? Yes, so she is, and she does speak ill
of every one--but I am certain that woman has made Rawdon drink.
All those low people do--"
"He was very much affected at seeing you, ma'am," the companion
said; "and I am sure, when you remember that he is going to the
field of danger--"
"How much money has he promised you, Briggs?" the old spinster cried
out, working herself into a nervous rage--"there now, of course you
begin to cry. I hate scenes. Why am I always to be worried? Go
and cry up in your own room, and send Firkin to me--no, stop, sit
down and blow your nose, and leave off crying, and write a letter to
Captain Crawley." Poor Briggs went and placed herself obediently at
the writing-book. Its leaves were blotted all over with relics of
the firm, strong, rapid handwriting of the spinster's late
amanuensis, Mrs. Bute Crawley.
"Begin 'My dear sir,' or 'Dear sir,' that will be better, and say
you are desired by Miss Crawley--no, by Miss Crawley's medical man,
by Mr. Creamer, to state that my health is such that all strong
emotions would be dangerous in my present delicate condition--and
that I must decline any family discussions or interviews whatever.
And thank him for coming to Brighton, and so forth, and beg him not
to stay any longer on my account. And, Miss Briggs, you may add
that I wish him a bon voyage, and that if he will take the trouble
to call upon my lawyer's in Gray's Inn Square, he will find there a
communication for him. Yes, that will do; and that will make him
leave Brighton." The benevolent Briggs penned this sentence with the
"To seize upon me the very day after Mrs. Bute was gone," the old
lady prattled on; "it was too indecent. Briggs, my dear, write to
Mrs. Crawley, and say SHE needn't come back. No--she needn't--and
she shan't--and I won't be a slave in my own house--and I won't be
starved and choked with poison. They all want to kill me--all--
all"--and with this the lonely old woman burst into a scream of
The last scene of her dismal Vanity Fair comedy was fast
approaching; the tawdry lamps were going out one by one; and the
dark curtain was almost ready to descend.
That final paragraph, which referred Rawdon to Miss Crawley's
solicitor in London, and which Briggs had written so good-naturedly,
consoled the dragoon and his wife somewhat, after their first blank
disappointment, on reading the spinster's refusal of a
reconciliation. And it effected the purpose for which the old lady
had caused it to be written, by making Rawdon very eager to get to
Out of Jos's losings and George Osborne's bank-notes, he paid his
bill at the inn, the landlord whereof does not probably know to this
day how doubtfully his account once stood. For, as a general sends
his baggage to the rear before an action, Rebecca had wisely packed
up all their chief valuables and sent them off under care of
George's servant, who went in charge of the trunks on the coach back
to London. Rawdon and his wife returned by the same conveyance next
"I should have liked to see the old girl before we went," Rawdon
said. "She looks so cut up and altered that I'm sure she can't last
long. I wonder what sort of a cheque I shall have at Waxy's. Two
hundred--it can't be less than two hundred--hey, Becky?"
In consequence of the repeated visits of the aides-de-camp of the
Sheriff of Middlesex, Rawdon and his wife did not go back to their
lodgings at Brompton, but put up at an inn. Early the next morning,
Rebecca had an opportunity of seeing them as she skirted that suburb
on her road to old Mrs. Sedley's house at Fulham, whither she went
to look for her dear Amelia and her Brighton friends. They were all
off to Chatham, thence to Harwich, to take shipping for Belgium with
the regiment--kind old Mrs. Sedley very much depressed and tearful,
solitary. Returning from this visit, Rebecca found her husband, who
had been off to Gray's Inn, and learnt his fate. He came back
"By Jove, Becky," says he, "she's only given me twenty pound!"
Though it told against themselves, the joke was too good, and Becky
burst out laughing at Rawdon's discomfiture.
Between London and Chatham
On quitting Brighton, our friend George, as became a person of rank
and fashion travelling in a barouche with four horses, drove in
state to a fine hotel in Cavendish Square, where a suite of splendid
rooms, and a table magnificently furnished with plate and surrounded
by a half-dozen of black and silent waiters, was ready to receive
the young gentleman and his bride. George did the honours of the
place with a princely air to Jos and Dobbin; and Amelia, for the
first time, and with exceeding shyness and timidity, presided at
what George called her own table.
George pooh-poohed the wine and bullied the waiters royally, and Jos
gobbled the turtle with immense satisfaction. Dobbin helped him to
it; for the lady of the house, before whom the tureen was placed,
was so ignorant of the contents, that she was going to help Mr.
Sedley without bestowing upon him either calipash or calipee.
The splendour of the entertainment, and the apartments in which it
was given, alarmed Mr. Dobbin, who remonstrated after dinner, when
Jos was asleep in the great chair. But in vain he cried out against
the enormity of turtle and champagne that was fit for an archbishop.
"I've always been accustomed to travel like a gentleman," George
said, "and, damme, my wife shall travel like a lady. As long as
there's a shot in the locker, she shall want for nothing," said the
generous fellow, quite pleased with himself for his magnificence of
spirit. Nor did Dobbin try and convince him that Amelia's happiness
was not centred in turtle-soup.
A while after dinner, Amelia timidly expressed a wish to go and see
her mamma, at Fulham: which permission George granted her with some
grumbling. And she tripped away to her enormous bedroom, in the
centre of which stood the enormous funereal bed, "that the Emperor
Halixander's sister slep in when the allied sufferings was here,"
and put on her little bonnet and shawl with the utmost eagerness and
pleasure. George was still drinking claret when she returned to the
dining-room, and made no signs of moving. "Ar'n't you coming with
me, dearest?" she asked him. No; the "dearest" had "business" that
night. His man should get her a coach and go with her. And the
coach being at the door of the hotel, Amelia made George a little
disappointed curtsey after looking vainly into his face once or
twice, and went sadly down the great staircase, Captain Dobbin
after, who handed her into the vehicle, and saw it drive away to its
destination. The very valet was ashamed of mentioning the address to
the hackney-coachman before the hotel waiters, and promised to
instruct him when they got further on.
Dobbin walked home to his old quarters and the Slaughters', thinking
very likely that it would be delightful to be in that hackney-coach,
along with Mrs. Osborne. George was evidently of quite a different
taste; for when he had taken wine enough, he went off to half-price
at the play, to see Mr. Kean perform in Shylock. Captain Osborne
was a great lover of the drama, and had himself performed high-
comedy characters with great distinction in several garrison
theatrical entertainments. Jos slept on until long after dark, when
he woke up with a start at the motions of his servant, who was
removing and emptying the decanters on the table; and the hackney-
coach stand was again put into requisition for a carriage to convey
this stout hero to his lodgings and bed.
Mrs. Sedley, you may be sure, clasped her daughter to her heart with
all maternal eagerness and affection, running out of the door as the
carriage drew up before the little garden-gate, to welcome the
weeping, trembling, young bride. Old Mr. Clapp, who was in his
shirt-sleeves, trimming the garden-plot, shrank back alarmed. The
Irish servant-lass rushed up from the kitchen and smiled a "God
bless you." Amelia could hardly walk along the flags and up the
steps into the parlour.
How the floodgates were opened, and mother and daughter wept, when
they were together embracing each other in this sanctuary, may
readily be imagined by every reader who possesses the least
sentimental turn. When don't ladies weep? At what occasion of joy,
sorrow, or other business of life, and, after such an event as a
marriage, mother and daughter were surely at liberty to give way to
a sensibility which is as tender as it is refreshing. About a
question of marriage I have seen women who hate each other kiss and
cry together quite fondly. How much more do they feel when they
love! Good mothers are married over again at their daughters'
weddings: and as for subsequent events, who does not know how ultra-
maternal grandmothers are?--in fact a woman, until she is a
grandmother, does not often really know what to be a mother is. Let
us respect Amelia and her mamma whispering and whimpering and
laughing and crying in the parlour and the twilight. Old Mr. Sedley
did. HE had not divined who was in the carriage when it drove up.
He had not flown out to meet his daughter, though he kissed her very
warmly when she entered the room (where he was occupied, as usual,
with his papers and tapes and statements of accounts), and after
sitting with the mother and daughter for a short time, he very
wisely left the little apartment in their possession.
George's valet was looking on in a very supercilious manner at Mr.
Clapp in his shirt-sleeves, watering his rose-bushes. He took off
his hat, however, with much condescension to Mr. Sedley, who asked
news about his son-in-law, and about Jos's carriage, and whether his
horses had been down to Brighton, and about that infernal traitor
Bonaparty, and the war; until the Irish maid-servant came with a
plate and a bottle of wine, from which the old gentleman insisted
upon helping the valet. He gave him a half-guinea too, which the
servant pocketed with a mixture of wonder and contempt. "To the
health of your master and mistress, Trotter," Mr. Sedley said, "and
here's something to drink your health when you get home, Trotter."
There were but nine days past since Amelia had left that little
cottage and home--and yet how far off the time seemed since she had
bidden it farewell. What a gulf lay between her and that past life.
She could look back to it from her present standing-place, and
contemplate, almost as another being, the young unmarried girl
absorbed in her love, having no eyes but for one special object,
receiving parental affection if not ungratefully, at least
indifferently, and as if it were her due--her whole heart and
thoughts bent on the accomplishment of one desire. The review of
those days, so lately gone yet so far away, touched her with shame;
and the aspect of the kind parents filled her with tender remorse.
Was the prize gained--the heaven of life--and the winner still
doubtful and unsatisfied? As his hero and heroine pass the
matrimonial barrier, the novelist generally drops the curtain, as if
the drama were over then: the doubts and struggles of life ended:
as if, once landed in the marriage country, all were green and
pleasant there: and wife and husband had nothing to do but to link
each other's arms together, and wander gently downwards towards old
age in happy and perfect fruition. But our little Amelia was just
on the bank of her new country, and was already looking anxiously
back towards the sad friendly figures waving farewell to her across
the stream, from the other distant shore.
In honour of the young bride's arrival, her mother thought it
necessary to prepare I don't know what festive entertainment, and
after the first ebullition of talk, took leave of Mrs. George
Osborne for a while, and dived down to the lower regions of the
house to a sort of kitchen-parlour (occupied by Mr. and Mrs. Clapp,
and in the evening, when her dishes were washed and her curl-papers
removed, by Miss Flannigan, the Irish servant), there to take
measures for the preparing of a magnificent ornamented tea. All
people have their ways of expressing kindness, and it seemed to Mrs.
Sedley that a muffin and a quantity of orange marmalade spread out
in a little cut-glass saucer would be peculiarly agreeable
refreshments to Amelia in her most interesting situation.
While these delicacies were being transacted below, Amelia, leaving
the drawing-room, walked upstairs and found herself, she scarce knew
how, in the little room which she had occupied before her marriage,
and in that very chair in which she had passed so many bitter hours.
She sank back in its arms as if it were an old friend; and fell to
thinking over the past week, and the life beyond it. Already to be
looking sadly and vaguely back: always to be pining for something
which, when obtained, brought doubt and sadness rather than
pleasure; here was the lot of our poor little creature and harmless
lost wanderer in the great struggling crowds of Vanity Fair.
Here she sate, and recalled to herself fondly that image of George
to which she had knelt before marriage. Did she own to herself how
different the real man was from that superb young hero whom she had
worshipped? It requires many, many years--and a man must be very
bad indeed--before a woman's pride and vanity will let her own to
such a confession. Then Rebecca's twinkling green eyes and baleful
smile lighted upon her, and filled her with dismay. And so she sate
for awhile indulging in her usual mood of selfish brooding, in that
very listless melancholy attitude in which the honest maid-servant
had found her, on the day when she brought up the letter in which
George renewed his offer of marriage.
She looked at the little white bed, which had been hers a few days
before, and thought she would like to sleep in it that night, and
wake, as formerly, with her mother smiling over her in the morning:
Then she thought with terror of the great funereal damask pavilion
in the vast and dingy state bedroom, which was awaiting her at the
grand hotel in Cavendish Square. Dear little white bed! how many a
long night had she wept on its pillow! How she had despaired and
hoped to die there; and now were not all her wishes accomplished,
and the lover of whom she had despaired her own for ever? Kind
mother! how patiently and tenderly she had watched round that bed!
She went and knelt down by the bedside; and there this wounded and
timorous, but gentle and loving soul, sought for consolation, where
as yet, it must be owned, our little girl had but seldom looked for
it. Love had been her faith hitherto; and the sad, bleeding
disappointed heart began to feel the want of another consoler.
Have we a right to repeat or to overhear her prayers? These,
brother, are secrets, and out of the domain of Vanity Fair, in which
our story lies.
But this may be said, that when the tea was finally announced, our
young lady came downstairs a great deal more cheerful; that she did
not despond, or deplore her fate, or think about George's coldness,
or Rebecca's eyes, as she had been wont to do of late. She went
downstairs, and kissed her father and mother, and talked to the old
gentleman, and made him more merry than he had been for many a day.
She sate down at the piano which Dobbin had bought for her, and sang
over all her father's favourite old songs. She pronounced the tea
to be excellent, and praised the exquisite taste in which the
marmalade was arranged in the saucers. And in determining to make
everybody else happy, she found herself so; and was sound asleep in
the great funereal pavilion, and only woke up with a smile when
George arrived from the theatre.
For the next day, George had more important "business" to transact
than that which took him to see Mr. Kean in Shylock. Immediately on
his arrival in London he had written off to his father's solicitors,
signifying his royal pleasure that an interview should take place
between them on the morrow. His hotel bill, losses at billiards and
cards to Captain Crawley had almost drained the young man's purse,
which wanted replenishing before he set out on his travels, and he
had no resource but to infringe upon the two thousand pounds which
the attorneys were commissioned to pay over to him. He had a
perfect belief in his own mind that his father would relent before
very long. How could any parent be obdurate for a length of time
against such a paragon as he was? If his mere past and personal
merits did not succeed in mollifying his father, George determined
that he would distinguish himself so prodigiously in the ensuing
campaign that the old gentleman must give in to him. And if not?
Bah! the world was before him. His luck might change at cards, and
there was a deal of spending in two thousand pounds.
So he sent off Amelia once more in a carriage to her mamma, with
strict orders and carte blanche to the two ladies to purchase
everything requisite for a lady of Mrs. George Osborne's fashion,
who was going on a foreign tour. They had but one day to complete
the outfit, and it may be imagined that their business therefore
occupied them pretty fully. In a carriage once more, bustling about
from milliner to linen-draper, escorted back to the carriage by
obsequious shopmen or polite owners, Mrs. Sedley was herself again
almost, and sincerely happy for the first time since their
misfortunes. Nor was Mrs. Amelia at all above the pleasure of
shopping, and bargaining, and seeing and buying pretty things.
(Would any man, the most philosophic, give twopence for a woman who
was?) She gave herself a little treat, obedient to her husband's
orders, and purchased a quantity of lady's gear, showing a great
deal of taste and elegant discernment, as all the shopfolks said.
And about the war that was ensuing, Mrs. Osborne was not much
alarmed; Bonaparty was to be crushed almost without a struggle.
Margate packets were sailing every day, filled with men of fashion
and ladies of note, on their way to Brussels and Ghent. People were
going not so much to a war as to a fashionable tour. The newspapers
laughed the wretched upstart and swindler to scorn. Such a Corsican
wretch as that withstand the armies of Europe and the genius of the
immortal Wellington! Amelia held him in utter contempt; for it
needs not to be said that this soft and gentle creature took her
opinions from those people who surrounded her, such fidelity being
much too humble-minded to think for itself. Well, in a word, she and
her mother performed a great day's shopping, and she acquitted
herself with considerable liveliness and credit on this her first
appearance in the genteel world of London.
George meanwhile, with his hat on one side, his elbows squared, and
his swaggering martial air, made for Bedford Row, and stalked into
the attorney's offices as if he was lord of every pale-faced clerk
who was scribbling there. He ordered somebody to inform Mr. Higgs
that Captain Osborne was waiting, in a fierce and patronizing way,
as if the pekin of an attorney, who had thrice his brains, fifty
times his money, and a thousand times his experience, was a wretched
underling who should instantly leave all his business in life to
attend on the Captain's pleasure. He did not see the sneer of
contempt which passed all round the room, from the first clerk to
the articled gents, from the articled gents to the ragged writers
and white-faced runners, in clothes too tight for them, as he sate
there tapping his boot with his cane, and thinking what a parcel of
miserable poor devils these were. The miserable poor devils knew
all about his affairs. They talked about them over their pints of
beer at their public-house clubs to other clerks of a night. Ye
gods, what do not attorneys and attorneys' clerks know in London!
Nothing is hidden from their inquisition, and their families mutely
rule our city.
Perhaps George expected, when he entered Mr. Higgs's apartment, to
find that gentleman commissioned to give him some message of
compromise or conciliation from his father; perhaps his haughty and
cold demeanour was adopted as a sign of his spirit and resolution:
but if so, his fierceness was met by a chilling coolness and
indifference on the attorney's part, that rendered swaggering
absurd. He pretended to be writing at a paper, when the Captain
entered. "Pray, sit down, sir," said he, "and I will attend to your
little affair in a moment. Mr. Poe, get the release papers, if you
please"; and then he fell to writing again.
Poe having produced those papers, his chief calculated the amount of
two thousand pounds stock at the rate of the day; and asked Captain
Osborne whether he would take the sum in a cheque upon the bankers,
or whether he should direct the latter to purchase stock to that
amount. "One of the late Mrs. Osborne's trustees is out of town,"
he said indifferently, "but my client wishes to meet your wishes,
and have done with the business as quick as possible."
"Give me a cheque, sir," said the Captain very surlily. "Damn the
shillings and halfpence, sir," he added, as the lawyer was making
out the amount of the draft; and, flattering himself that by this
stroke of magnanimity he had put the old quiz to the blush, he
stalked out of the office with the paper in his pocket.
"That chap will be in gaol in two years," Mr. Higgs said to Mr. Poe.
"Won't O. come round, sir, don't you think?"
"Won't the monument come round," Mr. Higgs replied.
"He's going it pretty fast," said the clerk. "He's only married a
week, and I saw him and some other military chaps handing Mrs.
Highflyer to her carriage after the play." And then another case was
called, and Mr. George Osborne thenceforth dismissed from these
worthy gentlemen's memory.
The draft was upon our friends Hulker and Bullock of Lombard Street,
to whose house, still thinking he was doing business, George bent
his way, and from whom he received his money. Frederick Bullock,
Esq., whose yellow face was over a ledger, at which sate a demure
clerk, happened to be in the banking-room when George entered. His
yellow face turned to a more deadly colour when he saw the Captain,
and he slunk back guiltily into the inmost parlour. George was too
busy gloating over the money (for he had never had such a sum
before), to mark the countenance or flight of the cadaverous suitor
of his sister.
Fred Bullock told old Osborne of his son's appearance and conduct.
"He came in as bold as brass," said Frederick. "He has drawn out
every shilling. How long will a few hundred pounds last such a chap
as that?" Osborne swore with a great oath that he little cared when
or how soon he spent it. Fred dined every day in Russell Square
now. But altogether, George was highly pleased with his day's
business. All his own baggage and outfit was put into a state of
speedy preparation, and he paid Amelia's purchases with cheques on
his agents, and with the splendour of a lord.
In Which Amelia Joins Her Regiment
When Jos's fine carriage drove up to the inn door at Chatham, the
first face which Amelia recognized was the friendly countenance of
Captain Dobbin, who had been pacing the street for an hour past in
expectation of his friends' arrival. The Captain, with shells on
his frockcoat, and a crimson sash and sabre, presented a military
appearance, which made Jos quite proud to be able to claim such an
acquaintance, and the stout civilian hailed him with a cordiality
very different from the reception which Jos vouchsafed to his friend
in Brighton and Bond Street.
Along with the Captain was Ensign Stubble; who, as the barouche
neared the inn, burst out with an exclamation of "By Jove! what a
pretty girl"; highly applauding Osborne's choice. Indeed, Amelia
dressed in her wedding-pelisse and pink ribbons, with a flush in her
face, occasioned by rapid travel through the open air, looked so
fresh and pretty, as fully to justify the Ensign's compliment.
Dobbin liked him for making it. As he stepped forward to help the
lady out of the carriage, Stubble saw what a pretty little hand she
gave him, and what a sweet pretty little foot came tripping down the
step. He blushed profusely, and made the very best bow of which he
was capable; to which Amelia, seeing the number of the the regiment
embroidered on the Ensign's cap, replied with a blushing smile, and
a curtsey on her part; which finished the young Ensign on the spot.
Dobbin took most kindly to Mr. Stubble from that day, and encouraged
him to talk about Amelia in their private walks, and at each other's
quarters. It became the fashion, indeed, among all the honest young
fellows of the --th to adore and admire Mrs. Osborne. Her simple
artless behaviour, and modest kindness of demeanour, won all their
unsophisticated hearts; all which simplicity and sweetness are quite
impossible to describe in print. But who has not beheld these among
women, and recognised the presence of all sorts of qualities in
them, even though they say no more to you than that they are engaged
to dance the next quadrille, or that it is very hot weather?
George, always the champion of his regiment, rose immensely in the
opinion of the youth of the corps, by his gallantry in marrying this
portionless young creature, and by his choice of such a pretty kind
In the sitting-room which was awaiting the travellers, Amelia, to
her surprise, found a letter addressed to Mrs. Captain Osborne. It
was a triangular billet, on pink paper, and sealed with a dove and
an olive branch, and a profusion of light blue sealing wax, and it
was written in a very large, though undecided female hand.
"It's Peggy O'Dowd's fist," said George, laughing. "I know it by
the kisses on the seal." And in fact, it was a note from Mrs. Major
O'Dowd, requesting the pleasure of Mrs. Osborne's company that very
evening to a small friendly party. "You must go," George said.
"You will make acquaintance with the regiment there. O'Dowd goes in
command of the regiment, and Peggy goes in command."
But they had not been for many minutes in the enjoyment of Mrs.
O'Dowd's letter, when the door was flung open, and a stout jolly
lady, in a riding-habit, followed by a couple of officers of Ours,
entered the room.
"Sure, I couldn't stop till tay-time. Present me, Garge, my dear
fellow, to your lady. Madam, I'm deloighted to see ye; and to
present to you me husband, Meejor O'Dowd"; and with this, the jolly
lady in the riding-habit grasped Amelia's hand very warmly, and the
latter knew at once that the lady was before her whom her husband
had so often laughed at. "You've often heard of me from that
husband of yours," said the lady, with great vivacity.
"You've often heard of her," echoed her husband, the Major.
Amelia answered, smiling, "that she had."
"And small good he's told you of me," Mrs. O'Dowd replied; adding
that "George was a wicked divvle."
"That I'll go bail for," said the Major, trying to look knowing, at
which George laughed; and Mrs. O'Dowd, with a tap of her whip, told
the Major to be quiet; and then requested to be presented in form to
Mrs. Captain Osborne.
"This, my dear," said George with great gravity, "is my very good,
kind, and excellent friend, Auralia Margaretta, otherwise called
"Faith, you're right," interposed the Major.
"Otherwise called Peggy, lady of Major Michael O'Dowd, of our
regiment, and daughter of Fitzjurld Ber'sford de Burgo Malony of
Glenmalony, County Kildare."
"And Muryan Squeer, Doblin," said the lady with calm superiority.
"And Muryan Square, sure enough," the Major whispered.
"'Twas there ye coorted me, Meejor dear," the lady said; and the
Major assented to this as to every other proposition which was made
generally in company.
Major O'Dowd, who had served his sovereign in every quarter of the
world, and had paid for every step in his profession by some more
than equivalent act of daring and gallantry, was the most modest,
silent, sheep-faced and meek of little men, and as obedient to his
wife as if he had been her tay-boy. At the mess-table he sat
silently, and drank a great deal. When full of liquor, he reeled
silently home. When he spoke, it was to agree with everybody on
every conceivable point; and he passed through life in perfect ease
and good-humour. The hottest suns of India never heated his temper;
and the Walcheren ague never shook it. He walked up to a battery
with just as much indifference as to a dinner-table; had dined on
horse-flesh and turtle with equal relish and appetite; and had an
old mother, Mrs. O'Dowd of O'Dowdstown indeed, whom he had never
disobeyed but when he ran away and enlisted, and when he persisted
in marrying that odious Peggy Malony.
Peggy was one of five sisters, and eleven children of the noble
house of Glenmalony; but her husband, though her own cousin, was of
the mother's side, and so had not the inestimable advantage of being
allied to the Malonys, whom she believed to be the most famous
family in the world. Having tried nine seasons at Dublin and two at
Bath and Cheltenham, and not finding a partner for life, Miss Malony
ordered her cousin Mick to marry her when she was about thirty-three
years of age; and the honest fellow obeying, carried her off to the
West Indies, to preside over the ladies of the --th regiment, into
which he had just exchanged.
Before Mrs. O'Dowd was half an hour in Amelia's (or indeed in
anybody else's) company, this amiable lady told all her birth and
pedigree to her new friend. "My dear," said she, good-naturedly,
"it was my intention that Garge should be a brother of my own, and
my sister Glorvina would have suited him entirely. But as bygones
are bygones, and he was engaged to yourself, why, I'm determined to
take you as a sister instead, and to look upon you as such, and to
love you as one of the family. Faith, you've got such a nice good-
natured face and way widg you, that I'm sure we'll agree; and that
you'll be an addition to our family anyway."
"'Deed and she will," said O'Dowd, with an approving air, and Amelia
felt herself not a little amused and grateful to be thus suddenly
introduced to so large a party of relations.
"We're all good fellows here," the Major's lady continued. "There's
not a regiment in the service where you'll find a more united
society nor a more agreeable mess-room. There's no quarrelling,
bickering, slandthering, nor small talk amongst us. We all love
"Especially Mrs. Magenis," said George, laughing.
"Mrs. Captain Magenis and me has made up, though her treatment of me
would bring me gray hairs with sorrow to the grave."
"And you with such a beautiful front of black, Peggy, my dear," the
"Hould your tongue, Mick, you booby. Them husbands are always in
the way, Mrs. Osborne, my dear; and as for my Mick, I often tell him
he should never open his mouth but to give the word of command, or
to put meat and drink into it. I'll tell you about the regiment,
and warn you when we're alone. Introduce me to your brother now;
sure he's a mighty fine man, and reminds me of me cousin, Dan Malony
(Malony of Ballymalony, my dear, you know who mar'ied Ophalia
Scully, of Oystherstown, own cousin to Lord Poldoody). Mr. Sedley,
sir, I'm deloighted to be made known te ye. I suppose you'll dine
at the mess to-day. (Mind that divvle of a docther, Mick, and
whatever ye du, keep yourself sober for me party this evening.)"
"It's the 150th gives us a farewell dinner, my love," interposed the
Major, "but we'll easy get a card for Mr. Sedley."
"Run Simple (Ensign Simple, of Ours, my dear Amelia. I forgot to
introjuice him to ye). Run in a hurry, with Mrs. Major O'Dowd's
compliments to Colonel Tavish, and Captain Osborne has brought his
brothernlaw down, and will bring him to the 150th mess at five
o'clock sharp--when you and I, my dear, will take a snack here, if
you like." Before Mrs. O'Dowd's speech was concluded, the young
Ensign was trotting downstairs on his commission.
"Obedience is the soul of the army. We will go to our duty while
Mrs. O'Dowd will stay and enlighten you, Emmy," Captain Osborne
said; and the two gentlemen, taking each a wing of the Major, walked
out with that officer, grinning at each other over his head.
And, now having her new friend to herself, the impetuous Mrs: O'Dowd
proceeded to pour out such a quantity of information as no poor
little woman's memory could ever tax itself to bear. She told
Amelia a thousand particulars relative to the very numerous family
of which the amazed young lady found herself a member. "Mrs.
Heavytop, the Colonel's wife, died in Jamaica of the yellow faver
and a broken heart comboined, for the horrud old Colonel, with a
head as bald as a cannon-ball, was making sheep's eyes at a half-
caste girl there. Mrs. Magenis, though without education, was a
good woman, but she had the divvle's tongue, and would cheat her own
mother at whist. Mrs. Captain Kirk must turn up her lobster eyes
forsooth at the idea of an honest round game (wherein me fawther, as
pious a man as ever went to church, me uncle Dane Malony, and our
cousin the Bishop, took a hand at loo, or whist, every night of
their lives). Nayther of 'em's goin' with the regiment this time,"
Mrs. O'Dowd added. "Fanny Magenis stops with her mother, who sells
small coal and potatoes, most likely, in Islington-town, hard by
London, though she's always bragging of her father's ships, and
pointing them out to us as they go up the river: and Mrs. Kirk and
her children will stop here in Bethesda Place, to be nigh to her
favourite preacher, Dr. Ramshorn. Mrs. Bunny's in an interesting
situation--faith, and she always is, then--and has given the
Lieutenant seven already. And Ensign Posky's wife, who joined two
months before you, my dear, has quarl'd with Tom Posky a score of
times, till you can hear'm all over the bar'ck (they say they're
come to broken pleets, and Tom never accounted for his black oi),
and she'll go back to her mother, who keeps a ladies' siminary at
Richmond--bad luck to her for running away from it! Where did ye
get your finishing, my dear? I had moin, and no expince spared, at
Madame Flanahan's, at Ilyssus Grove, Booterstown, near Dublin, wid a
Marchioness to teach us the true Parisian pronunciation, and a
retired Mejor-General of the French service to put us through the
Of this incongruous family our astonished Amelia found herself all
of a sudden a member: with Mrs. O'Dowd as an elder sister. She was
presented to her other female relations at tea-time, on whom, as she
was quiet, good-natured, and not too handsome, she made rather an
agreeable impression until the arrival of the gentlemen from the
mess of the 150th, who all admired her so, that her sisters began,
of course, to find fault with her.
"I hope Osborne has sown his wild oats," said Mrs. Magenis to Mrs.
Bunny. "If a reformed rake makes a good husband, sure it's she will
have the fine chance with Garge," Mrs. O'Dowd remarked to Posky, who
had lost her position as bride in the regiment, and was quite angry
with the usurper. And as for Mrs. Kirk: that disciple of Dr.
Ramshorn put one or two leading professional questions to Amelia, to
see whether she was awakened, whether she was a professing Christian
and so forth, and finding from the simplicity of Mrs. Osborne's
replies that she was yet in utter darkness, put into her hands three
little penny books with pictures, viz., the "Howling Wilderness,"
the "Washerwoman of Wandsworth Common," and the "British Soldier's
best Bayonet," which, bent upon awakening her before she slept, Mrs.
Kirk begged Amelia to read that night ere she went to bed.
But all the men, like good fellows as they were, rallied round their
comrade's pretty wife, and paid her their court with soldierly
gallantry. She had a little triumph, which flushed her spirits and
made her eyes sparkle. George was proud of her popularity, and
pleased with the manner (which was very gay and graceful, though
naive and a little timid) with which she received the gentlemen's
attentions, and answered their compliments. And he in his uniform--
how much handsomer he was than any man in the room! She felt that
he was affectionately watching her, and glowed with pleasure at his
kindness. "I will make all his friends welcome," she resolved in
her heart. "I will love all as I love him. I will always try and
be gay and good-humoured and make his home happy."
The regiment indeed adopted her with acclamation. The Captains
approved, the Lieutenants applauded, the Ensigns admired. Old
Cutler, the Doctor, made one or two jokes, which, being
professional, need not be repeated; and Cackle, the Assistant M.D.
of Edinburgh, condescended to examine her upon leeterature, and
tried her with his three best French quotations. Young Stubble went
about from man to man whispering, "Jove, isn't she a pretty gal?"
and never took his eyes off her except when the negus came in.
As for Captain Dobbin, he never so much as spoke to her during the
whole evening. But he and Captain Porter of the 150th took home Jos
to the hotel, who was in a very maudlin state, and had told his
tiger-hunt story with great effect, both at the mess-table and at
the soiree, to Mrs. O'Dowd in her turban and bird of paradise.
Having put the Collector into the hands of his servant, Dobbin
loitered about, smoking his cigar before the inn door. George had
meanwhile very carefully shawled his wife, and brought her away from
Mrs. O'Dowd's after a general handshaking from the young officers,
who accompanied her to the fly, and cheered that vehicle as it drove
off. So Amelia gave Dobbin her little hand as she got out of the
carriage, and rebuked him smilingly for not having taken any notice
of her all night.
The Captain continued that deleterious amusement of smoking, long
after the inn and the street were gone to bed. He watched the
lights vanish from George's sitting-room windows, and shine out in
the bedroom close at hand. It was almost morning when he returned
to his own quarters. He could hear the cheering from the ships in
the river, where the transports were already taking in their cargoes
preparatory to dropping down the Thames.
In Which Amelia Invades the Low Countries
The regiment with its officers was to be transported in ships
provided by His Majesty's government for the occasion: and in two
days after the festive assembly at Mrs. O'Dowd's apartments, in the
midst of cheering from all the East India ships in the river, and
the military on shore, the band playing "God Save the King," the
officers waving their hats, and the crews hurrahing gallantly, the
transports went down the river and proceeded under convoy to Ostend.
Meanwhile the gallant Jos had agreed to escort his sister and the
Major's wife, the bulk of whose goods and chattels, including the
famous bird of paradise and turban, were with the regimental
baggage: so that our two heroines drove pretty much unencumbered to
Ramsgate, where there were plenty of packets plying, in one of which
they had a speedy passage to Ostend.
That period of Jos's life which now ensued was so full of incident,
that it served him for conversation for many years after, and even