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Vanity Fair by William Makepeace Thackeray

Part 9 out of 16

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dead repose. It seemed a humiliation to old Osborne to think that
his son, an English gentleman, a captain in the famous British army,
should not be found worthy to lie in ground where mere foreigners
were buried. Which of us is there can tell how much vanity lurks in
our warmest regard for others, and how selfish our love is? Old
Osborne did not speculate much upon the mingled nature of his
feelings, and how his instinct and selfishness were combating
together. He firmly believed that everything he did was right, that
he ought on all occasions to have his own way--and like the sting of
a wasp or serpent his hatred rushed out armed and poisonous against
anything like opposition. He was proud of his hatred as of
everything else. Always to be right, always to trample forward, and
never to doubt, are not these the great qualities with which
dullness takes the lead in the world?

As after the drive to Waterloo, Mr. Osborne's carriage was nearing
the gates of the city at sunset, they met another open barouche, in
which were a couple of ladies and a gentleman, and by the side of
which an officer was riding. Osborne gave a start back, and the
Sergeant, seated with him, cast a look of surprise at his neighbour,
as he touched his cap to the officer, who mechanically returned his
salute. It was Amelia, with the lame young Ensign by her side, and
opposite to her her faithful friend Mrs. O'Dowd. It was Amelia, but
how changed from the fresh and comely girl Osborne knew. Her face
was white and thin. Her pretty brown hair was parted under a
widow's cap--the poor child. Her eyes were fixed, and looking
nowhere. They stared blank in the face of Osborne, as the carriages
crossed each other, but she did not know him; nor did he recognise
her, until looking up, he saw Dobbin riding by her: and then he
knew who it was. He hated her. He did not know how much until he
saw her there. When her carriage had passed on, he turned and
stared at the Sergeant, with a curse and defiance in his eye cast at
his companion, who could not help looking at him--as much as to say
"How dare you look at me? Damn you! I do hate her. It is she who
has tumbled my hopes and all my pride down." "Tell the scoundrel to
drive on quick," he shouted with an oath, to the lackey on the box.
A minute afterwards, a horse came clattering over the pavement
behind Osborne's carriage, and Dobbin rode up. His thoughts had
been elsewhere as the carriages passed each other, and it was not
until he had ridden some paces forward, that he remembered it was
Osborne who had just passed him. Then he turned to examine if the
sight of her father-in-law had made any impression on Amelia, but
the poor girl did not know who had passed. Then William, who daily
used to accompany her in his drives, taking out his watch, made some
excuse about an engagement which he suddenly recollected, and so
rode off. She did not remark that either: but sate looking before
her, over the homely landscape towards the woods in the distance, by
which George marched away.

"Mr. Osborne, Mr. Osborne!" cried Dobbin, as he rode up and held out
his hand. Osborne made no motion to take it, but shouted out once
more and with another curse to his servant to drive on.

Dobbin laid his hand on the carriage side. "I will see you, sir,"
he said. "I have a message for you."

"From that woman?" said Osborne, fiercely.

"No," replied the other, "from your son"; at which Osborne fell back
into the corner of his carriage, and Dobbin allowing it to pass on,
rode close behind it, and so through the town until they reached Mr.
Osborne's hotel, and without a word. There he followed Osborne up
to his apartments. George had often been in the rooms; they were
the lodgings which the Crawleys had occupied during their stay in

"Pray, have you any commands for me, Captain Dobbin, or, I beg your
pardon, I should say MAJOR Dobbin, since better men than you are
dead, and you step into their SHOES?" said Mr. Osborne, in that
sarcastic tone which he sometimes was pleased to assume.

"Better men ARE dead," Dobbin replied. "I want to speak to you
about one."

"Make it short, sir," said the other with an oath, scowling at his

"I am here as his closest friend," the Major resumed, "and the
executor of his will. He made it before he went into action. Are
you aware how small his means are, and of the straitened
circumstances of his widow?"

"I don't know his widow, sir," Osborne said. "Let her go back to
her father." But the gentleman whom he addressed was determined to
remain in good temper, and went on without heeding the interruption.

"Do you know, sir, Mrs. Osborne's condition? Her life and her reason
almost have been shaken by the blow which has fallen on her. It is
very doubtful whether she will rally. There is a chance left for
her, however, and it is about this I came to speak to you. She will
be a mother soon. Will you visit the parent's offence upon the
child's head? or will you forgive the child for poor George's sake?"

Osborne broke out into a rhapsody of self-praise and imprecations;--
by the first, excusing himself to his own conscience for his
conduct; by the second, exaggerating the undutifulness of George.
No father in all England could have behaved more generously to a
son, who had rebelled against him wickedly. He had died without
even so much as confessing he was wrong. Let him take the
consequences of his undutifulness and folly. As for himself, Mr.
Osborne, he was a man of his word. He had sworn never to speak to
that woman, or to recognize her as his son's wife. "And that's what
you may tell her," he concluded with an oath; "and that's what I
will stick to to the last day of my life."

There was no hope from that quarter then. The widow must live on
her slender pittance, or on such aid as Jos could give her. "I
might tell her, and she would not heed it," thought Dobbin, sadly:
for the poor girl's thoughts were not here at all since her
catastrophe, and, stupefied under the pressure of her sorrow, good
and evil were alike indifferent to her.

So, indeed, were even friendship and kindness. She received them
both uncomplainingly, and having accepted them, relapsed into her

Suppose some twelve months after the above conversation took place
to have passed in the life of our poor Amelia. She has spent the
first portion of that time in a sorrow so profound and pitiable,
that we who have been watching and describing some of the emotions
of that weak and tender heart, must draw back in the presence of the
cruel grief under which it is bleeding. Tread silently round the
hapless couch of the poor prostrate soul. Shut gently the door of
the dark chamber wherein she suffers, as those kind people did who
nursed her through the first months of her pain, and never left her
until heaven had sent her consolation. A day came--of almost
terrified delight and wonder--when the poor widowed girl pressed a
child upon her breast--a child, with the eyes of George who was
gone--a little boy, as beautiful as a cherub. What a miracle it was
to hear its first cry! How she laughed and wept over it--how love,
and hope, and prayer woke again in her bosom as the baby nestled
there. She was safe. The doctors who attended her, and had feared
for her life or for her brain, had waited anxiously for this crisis
before they could pronounce that either was secure. It was worth
the long months of doubt and dread which the persons who had
constantly been with her had passed, to see her eyes once more
beaming tenderly upon them.

Our friend Dobbin was one of them. It was he who brought her back
to England and to her mother's house; when Mrs. O'Dowd, receiving a
peremptory summons from her Colonel, had been forced to quit her
patient. To see Dobbin holding the infant, and to hear Amelia's
laugh of triumph as she watched him, would have done any man good
who had a sense of humour. William was the godfather of the child,
and exerted his ingenuity in the purchase of cups, spoons, pap-
boats, and corals for this little Christian.

How his mother nursed him, and dressed him, and lived upon him; how
she drove away all nurses, and would scarce allow any hand but her
own to touch him; how she considered that the greatest favour she
could confer upon his godfather, Major Dobbin, was to allow the
Major occasionally to dandle him, need not be told here. This child
was her being. Her existence was a maternal caress. She enveloped
the feeble and unconscious creature with love and worship. It was
her life which the baby drank in from her bosom. Of nights, and
when alone, she had stealthy and intense raptures of motherly love,
such as God's marvellous care has awarded to the female instinct--
joys how far higher and lower than reason--blind beautiful devotions
which only women's hearts know. It was William Dobbin's task to
muse upon these movements of Amelia's, and to watch her heart; and
if his love made him divine almost all the feelings which agitated
it, alas! he could see with a fatal perspicuity that there was no
place there for him. And so, gently, he bore his fate, knowing it,
and content to bear it.

I suppose Amelia's father and mother saw through the intentions of
the Major, and were not ill-disposed to encourage him; for Dobbin
visited their house daily, and stayed for hours with them, or with
Amelia, or with the honest landlord, Mr. Clapp, and his family. He
brought, on one pretext or another, presents to everybody, and
almost every day; and went, with the landlord's little girl, who was
rather a favourite with Amelia, by the name of Major Sugarplums. It
was this little child who commonly acted as mistress of the
ceremonies to introduce him to Mrs. Osborne. She laughed one day
when Major Sugarplums' cab drove up to Fulham, and he descended from
it, bringing out a wooden horse, a drum, a trumpet, and other
warlike toys, for little Georgy, who was scarcely six months old,
and for whom the articles in question were entirely premature.

The child was asleep. "Hush," said Amelia, annoyed, perhaps, at the
creaking of the Major's boots; and she held out her hand; smiling
because William could not take it until he had rid himself of his
cargo of toys. "Go downstairs, little Mary," said he presently to
the child, "I want to speak to Mrs. Osborne." She looked up rather
astonished, and laid down the infant on its bed.

"I am come to say good-bye, Amelia," said he, taking her slender
little white hand gently.

"Good-bye? and where are you going?" she said, with a smile.

"Send the letters to the agents," he said; "they will forward them;
for you will write to me, won't you? I shall be away a long time."

"I'll write to you about Georgy," she said. "Dear' William, how
good you have been to him and to me. Look at him. Isn't he like an

The little pink hands of the child closed mechanically round the
honest soldier's finger, and Amelia looked up in his face with
bright maternal pleasure. The cruellest looks could not have
wounded him more than that glance of hopeless kindness. He bent
over the child and mother. He could not speak for a moment. And it
was only with all his strength that he could force himself to say a
God bless you. "God bless you," said Amelia, and held up her face
and kissed him.

"Hush! Don't wake Georgy!" she added, as William Dobbin went to the
door with heavy steps. She did not hear the noise of his cab-wheels
as he drove away: she was looking at the child, who was laughing in
his sleep.


How to Live Well on Nothing a Year

I suppose there is no man in this Vanity Fair of ours so little
observant as not to think sometimes about the worldly affairs of his
acquaintances, or so extremely charitable as not to wonder how his
neighbour Jones, or his neighbour Smith, can make both ends meet at
the end of the year. With the utmost regard for the family, for
instance (for I dine with them twice or thrice in the season), I
cannot but own that the appearance of the Jenkinses in the park, in
the large barouche with the grenadier-footmen, will surprise and
mystify me to my dying day: for though I know the equipage is only
jobbed, and all the Jenkins people are on board wages, yet those
three men and the carriage must represent an expense of six hundred
a year at the very least--and then there are the splendid dinners,
the two boys at Eton, the prize governess and masters for the girls,
the trip abroad, or to Eastbourne or Worthing, in the autumn, the
annual ball with a supper from Gunter's (who, by the way, supplies
most of the first-rate dinners which J. gives, as I know very well,
having been invited to one of them to fill a vacant place, when I
saw at once that these repasts are very superior to the common run
of entertainments for which the humbler sort of J.'s acquaintances
get cards)--who, I say, with the most good-natured feelings in the
world, can help wondering how the Jenkinses make out matters? What
is Jenkins? We all know--Commissioner of the Tape and Sealing Wax
Office, with 1200 pounds a year for a salary. Had his wife a
private fortune? Pooh!--Miss Flint--one of eleven children of a
small squire in Buckinghamshire. All she ever gets from her family
is a turkey at Christmas, in exchange for which she has to board two
or three of her sisters in the off season, and lodge and feed her
brothers when they come to town. How does Jenkins balance his
income? I say, as every friend of his must say, How is it that he
has not been outlawed long since, and that he ever came back (as he
did to the surprise of everybody) last year from Boulogne?

"I" is here introduced to personify the world in general--the Mrs.
Grundy of each respected reader's private circle--every one of whom
can point to some families of his acquaintance who live nobody knows
how. Many a glass of wine have we all of us drunk, I have very
little doubt, hob-and-nobbing with the hospitable giver and
wondering how the deuce he paid for it.

Some three or four years after his stay in Paris, when Rawdon
Crawley and his wife were established in a very small comfortable
house in Curzon Street, May Fair, there was scarcely one of the
numerous friends whom they entertained at dinner that did not ask
the above question regarding them. The novelist, it has been said
before, knows everything, and as I am in a situation to be able to
tell the public how Crawley and his wife lived without any income,
may I entreat the public newspapers which are in the habit of
extracting portions of the various periodical works now published
not to reprint the following exact narrative and calculations--of
which I ought, as the discoverer (and at some expense, too), to have
the benefit? My son, I would say, were I blessed with a child--you
may by deep inquiry and constant intercourse with him learn how a
man lives comfortably on nothing a year. But it is best not to be
intimate with gentlemen of this profession and to take the
calculations at second hand, as you do logarithms, for to work them
yourself, depend upon it, will cost you something considerable.

On nothing per annum then, and during a course of some two or three
years, of which we can afford to give but a very brief history,
Crawley and his wife lived very happily and comfortably at Paris.
It was in this period that he quitted the Guards and sold out of the
army. When we find him again, his mustachios and the title of
Colonel on his card are the only relics of his military profession.

It has been mentioned that Rebecca, soon after her arrival in Paris,
took a very smart and leading position in the society of that
capital, and was welcomed at some of the most distinguished houses
of the restored French nobility. The English men of fashion in
Paris courted her, too, to the disgust of the ladies their wives,
who could not bear the parvenue. For some months the salons of the
Faubourg St. Germain, in which her place was secured, and the
splendours of the new Court, where she was received with much
distinction, delighted and perhaps a little intoxicated Mrs.
Crawley, who may have been disposed during this period of elation to
slight the people--honest young military men mostly--who formed her
husband's chief society.

But the Colonel yawned sadly among the Duchesses and great ladies of
the Court. The old women who played ecarte made such a noise about
a five-franc piece that it was not worth Colonel Crawley's while to
sit down at a card-table. The wit of their conversation he could
not appreciate, being ignorant of their language. And what good
could his wife get, he urged, by making curtsies every night to a
whole circle of Princesses? He left Rebecca presently to frequent
these parties alone, resuming his own simple pursuits and amusements
amongst the amiable friends of his own choice.

The truth is, when we say of a gentleman that he lives elegantly on
nothing a year, we use the word "nothing" to signify something
unknown; meaning, simply, that we don't know how the gentleman in
question defrays the expenses of his establishment. Now, our friend
the Colonel had a great aptitude for all games of chance: and
exercising himself, as he continually did, with the cards, the dice-
box, or the cue, it is natural to suppose that he attained a much
greater skill in the use of these articles than men can possess who
only occasionally handle them. To use a cue at billiards well is
like using a pencil, or a German flute, or a small-sword--you cannot
master any one of these implements at first, and it is only by
repeated study and perseverance, joined to a natural taste, that a
man can excel in the handling of either. Now Crawley, from being
only a brilliant amateur, had grown to be a consummate master of
billiards. Like a great General, his genius used to rise with the
danger, and when the luck had been unfavourable to him for a whole
game, and the bets were consequently against him, he would, with
consummate skill and boldness, make some prodigious hits which would
restore the battle, and come in a victor at the end, to the
astonishment of everybody--of everybody, that is, who was a stranger
to his play. Those who were accustomed to see it were cautious how
they staked their money against a man of such sudden resources and
brilliant and overpowering skill.

At games of cards he was equally skilful; for though he would
constantly lose money at the commencement of an evening, playing so
carelessly and making such blunders, that newcomers were often
inclined to think meanly of his talent; yet when roused to action
and awakened to caution by repeated small losses, it was remarked
that Crawley's play became quite different, and that he was pretty
sure of beating his enemy thoroughly before the night was over.
Indeed, very few men could say that they ever had the better of him.
His successes were so repeated that no wonder the envious and the
vanquished spoke sometimes with bitterness regarding them. And as
the French say of the Duke of Wellington, who never suffered a
defeat, that only an astonishing series of lucky accidents enabled
him to be an invariable winner; yet even they allow that he cheated
at Waterloo, and was enabled to win the last great trick: so it was
hinted at headquarters in England that some foul play must have
taken place in order to account for the continuous successes of
Colonel Crawley.

Though Frascati's and the Salon were open at that time in Paris, the
mania for play was so widely spread that the public gambling-rooms
did not suffice for the general ardour, and gambling went on in
private houses as much as if there had been no public means for
gratifying the passion. At Crawley's charming little reunions of an
evening this fatal amusement commonly was practised--much to good-
natured little Mrs. Crawley's annoyance. She spoke about her
husband's passion for dice with the deepest grief; she bewailed it
to everybody who came to her house. She besought the young fellows
never, never to touch a box; and when young Green, of the Rifles,
lost a very considerable sum of money, Rebecca passed a whole night
in tears, as the servant told the unfortunate young gentleman, and
actually went on her knees to her husband to beseech him to remit
the debt, and burn the acknowledgement. How could he? He had lost
just as much himself to Blackstone of the Hussars, and Count Punter
of the Hanoverian Cavalry. Green might have any decent time; but
pay?--of course he must pay; to talk of burning IOU's was child's

Other officers, chiefly young--for the young fellows gathered round
Mrs. Crawley--came from her parties with long faces, having dropped
more or less money at her fatal card-tables. Her house began to
have an unfortunate reputation. The old hands warned the less
experienced of their danger. Colonel O'Dowd, of the --th regiment,
one of those occupying in Paris, warned Lieutenant Spooney of that
corps. A loud and violent fracas took place between the infantry
Colonel and his lady, who were dining at the Cafe de Paris, and
Colonel and Mrs. Crawley; who were also taking their meal there. The
ladies engaged on both sides. Mrs. O'Dowd snapped her fingers in
Mrs. Crawley's face and called her husband "no betther than a black-
leg." Colonel Crawley challenged Colonel O'Dowd, C.B. The
Commander-in-Chief hearing of the dispute sent for Colonel Crawley,
who was getting ready the same pistols "which he shot Captain
Marker," and had such a conversation with him that no duel took
place. If Rebecca had not gone on her knees to General Tufto,
Crawley would have been sent back to England; and he did not play,
except with civilians, for some weeks after.

But, in spite of Rawdon's undoubted skill and constant successes, it
became evident to Rebecca, considering these things, that their
position was but a precarious one, and that, even although they paid
scarcely anybody, their little capital would end one day by
dwindling into zero. "Gambling," she would say, "dear, is good to
help your income, but not as an income itself. Some day people may
be tired of play, and then where are we?" Rawdon acquiesced in the
justice of her opinion; and in truth he had remarked that after a
few nights of his little suppers, &c., gentlemen were tired of play
with him, and, in spite of Rebecca's charms, did not present
themselves very eagerly.

Easy and pleasant as their life at Paris was, it was after all only
an idle dalliance and amiable trifling; and Rebecca saw that she
must push Rawdon's fortune in their own country. She must get him a
place or appointment at home or in the colonies, and she determined
to make a move upon England as soon as the way could be cleared for
her. As a first step she had made Crawley sell out of the Guards
and go on half-pay. His function as aide-de-camp to General Tufto
had ceased previously. Rebecca laughed in all companies at that
officer, at his toupee (which he mounted on coming to Paris), at his
waistband, at his false teeth, at his pretensions to be a lady-
killer above all, and his absurd vanity in fancying every woman whom
he came near was in love with him. It was to Mrs. Brent, the
beetle-browed wife of Mr. Commissary Brent, to whom the general
transferred his attentions now--his bouquets, his dinners at the
restaurateurs', his opera-boxes, and his knick-knacks. Poor Mrs.
Tufto was no more happy than before, and had still to pass long
evenings alone with her daughters, knowing that her General was gone
off scented and curled to stand behind Mrs. Brent's chair at the
play. Becky had a dozen admirers in his place, to be sure, and
could cut her rival to pieces with her wit. But, as we have said,
she. was growing tired of this idle social life: opera-boxes and
restaurateur dinners palled upon her: nosegays could not be laid by
as a provision for future years: and she could not live upon knick-
knacks, laced handkerchiefs, and kid gloves. She felt the frivolity
of pleasure and longed for more substantial benefits.

At this juncture news arrived which was spread among the many
creditors of the Colonel at Paris, and which caused them great
satisfaction. Miss Crawley, the rich aunt from whom he expected his
immense inheritance, was dying; the Colonel must haste to her
bedside. Mrs. Crawley and her child would remain behind until he
came to reclaim them. He departed for Calais, and having reached
that place in safety, it might have been supposed that he went to
Dover; but instead he took the diligence to Dunkirk, and thence
travelled to Brussels, for which place he had a former predilection.
The fact is, he owed more money at London than at Paris; and he
preferred the quiet little Belgian city to either of the more noisy

Her aunt was dead. Mrs. Crawley ordered the most intense mourning
for herself and little Rawdon. The Colonel was busy arranging the
affairs of the inheritance. They could take the premier now,
instead of the little entresol of the hotel which they occupied.
Mrs. Crawley and the landlord had a consultation about the new
hangings, an amicable wrangle about the carpets, and a final
adjustment of everything except the bill. She went off in one of
his carriages; her French bonne with her; the child by her side; the
admirable landlord and landlady smiling farewell to her from the
gate. General Tufto was furious when he heard she was gone, and
Mrs. Brent furious with him for being furious; Lieutenant Spooney
was cut to the heart; and the landlord got ready his best apartments
previous to the return of the fascinating little woman and her
husband. He _serred_ the trunks which she left in his charge with
the greatest care. They had been especially recommended to him by
Madame Crawley. They were not, however, found to be particularly
valuable when opened some time after.

But before she went to join her husband in the Belgic capital, Mrs.
Crawley made an expedition into England, leaving behind her her
little son upon the continent, under the care of her French maid.

The parting between Rebecca and the little Rawdon did not cause
either party much pain. She had not, to say truth, seen much of the
young gentleman since his birth. After the amiable fashion of French
mothers, she had placed him out at nurse in a village in the
neighbourhood of Paris, where little Rawdon passed the first months
of his life, not unhappily, with a numerous family of foster-
brothers in wooden shoes. His father would ride over many a time to
see him here, and the elder Rawdon's paternal heart glowed to see
him rosy and dirty, shouting lustily, and happy in the making of
mud-pies under the superintendence of the gardener's wife, his

Rebecca did not care much to go and see the son and heir. Once he
spoiled a new dove-coloured pelisse of hers. He preferred his
nurse's caresses to his mamma's, and when finally he quitted that
jolly nurse and almost parent, he cried loudly for hours. He was
only consoled by his mother's promise that he should return to his
nurse the next day; indeed the nurse herself, who probably would
have been pained at the parting too, was told that the child would
immediately be restored to her, and for some time awaited quite
anxiously his return.

In fact, our friends may be said to have been among the first of
that brood of hardy English adventurers who have subsequently
invaded the Continent and swindled in all the capitals of Europe.
The respect in those happy days of 1817-18 was very great for the
wealth and honour of Britons. They had not then learned, as I am
told, to haggle for bargains with the pertinacity which now
distinguishes them. The great cities of Europe had not been as yet
open to the enterprise of our rascals. And whereas there is now
hardly a town of France or Italy in which you shall not see some
noble countryman of our own, with that happy swagger and insolence
of demeanour which we carry everywhere, swindling inn-landlords,
passing fictitious cheques upon credulous bankers, robbing coach-
makers of their carriages, goldsmiths of their trinkets, easy
travellers of their money at cards, even public libraries of their
books--thirty years ago you needed but to be a Milor Anglais,
travelling in a private carriage, and credit was at your hand
wherever you chose to seek it, and gentlemen, instead of cheating,
were cheated. It was not for some weeks after the Crawleys'
departure that the landlord of the hotel which they occupied during
their residence at Paris found out the losses which he had
sustained: not until Madame Marabou, the milliner, made repeated
visits with her little bill for articles supplied to Madame Crawley;
not until Monsieur Didelot from Boule d'Or in the Palais Royal had
asked half a dozen times whether cette charmante Miladi who had
bought watches and bracelets of him was de retour. It is a fact that
even the poor gardener's wife, who had nursed madame's child, was
never paid after the first six months for that supply of the milk of
human kindness with which she had furnished the lusty and healthy
little Rawdon. No, not even the nurse was paid--the Crawleys were
in too great a hurry to remember their trifling debt to her. As for
the landlord of the hotel, his curses against the English nation
were violent for the rest of his natural life. He asked all
travellers whether they knew a certain Colonel Lor Crawley--avec sa
femme une petite dame, tres spirituelle. "Ah, Monsieur!" he would
add--"ils m'ont affreusement vole." It was melancholy to hear his
accents as he spoke of that catastrophe.

Rebecca's object in her journey to London was to effect a kind of
compromise with her husband's numerous creditors, and by offering
them a dividend of ninepence or a shilling in the pound, to secure a
return for him into his own country. It does not become us to trace
the steps which she took in the conduct of this most difficult
negotiation; but, having shown them to their satisfaction that the
sum which she was empowered to offer was all her husband's available
capital, and having convinced them that Colonel Crawley would prefer
a perpetual retirement on the Continent to a residence in this
country with his debts unsettled; having proved to them that there
was no possibility of money accruing to him from other quarters, and
no earthly chance of their getting a larger dividend than that which
she was empowered to offer, she brought the Colonel's creditors
unanimously to accept her proposals, and purchased with fifteen
hundred pounds of ready money more than ten times that amount of

Mrs. Crawley employed no lawyer in the transaction. The matter was
so simple, to have or to leave, as she justly observed, that she
made the lawyers of the creditors themselves do the business. And
Mr. Lewis representing Mr. Davids, of Red Lion Square, and Mr. Moss
acting for Mr. Manasseh of Cursitor Street (chief creditors of the
Colonel's), complimented his lady upon the brilliant way in which
she did business, and declared that there was no professional man
who could beat her.

Rebecca received their congratulations with perfect modesty; ordered
a bottle of sherry and a bread cake to the little dingy lodgings
where she dwelt, while conducting the business, to treat the enemy's
lawyers: shook hands with them at parting, in excellent good humour,
and returned straightway to the Continent, to rejoin her husband and
son and acquaint the former with the glad news of his entire
liberation. As for the latter, he had been considerably neglected
during his mother's absence by Mademoiselle Genevieve, her French
maid; for that young woman, contracting an attachment for a soldier
in the garrison of Calais, forgot her charge in the society of this
militaire, and little Rawdon very narrowly escaped drowning on
Calais sands at this period, where the absent Genevieve had left and
lost him.

And so, Colonel and Mrs. Crawley came to London: and it is at their
house in Curzon Street, May Fair, that they really showed the skill
which must be possessed by those who would live on the resources
above named.


The Subject Continued

In the first place, and as a matter of the greatest necessity, we
are bound to describe how a house may be got for nothing a year.
These mansions are to be had either unfurnished, where, if you have
credit with Messrs. Gillows or Bantings, you can get them
splendidly montees and decorated entirely according to your own
fancy; or they are to be let furnished, a less troublesome and
complicated arrangement to most parties. It was so that Crawley and
his wife preferred to hire their house.

Before Mr. Bowls came to preside over Miss Crawley's house and
cellar in Park Lane, that lady had had for a butler a Mr. Raggles,
who was born on the family estate of Queen's Crawley, and indeed was
a younger son of a gardener there. By good conduct, a handsome
person and calves, and a grave demeanour, Raggles rose from the
knife-board to the footboard of the carriage; from the footboard to
the butler's pantry. When he had been a certain number of years at
the head of Miss Crawley's establishment, where he had had good
wages, fat perquisites, and plenty of opportunities of saving, he
announced that he was about to contract a matrimonial alliance with
a late cook of Miss Crawley's, who had subsisted in an honourable
manner by the exercise of a mangle, and the keeping of a small
greengrocer's shop in the neighbourhood. The truth is, that the
ceremony had been clandestinely performed some years back; although
the news of Mr. Raggles' marriage was first brought to Miss Crawley
by a little boy and girl of seven and eight years of age, whose
continual presence in the kitchen had attracted the attention of
Miss Briggs.

Mr. Raggles then retired and personally undertook the
superintendence of the small shop and the greens. He added milk and
cream, eggs and country-fed pork to his stores, contenting himself
whilst other retired butlers were vending spirits in public houses,
by dealing in the simplest country produce. And having a good
connection amongst the butlers in the neighbourhood, and a snug back
parlour where he and Mrs. Raggles received them, his milk, cream,
and eggs got to be adopted by many of the fraternity, and his
profits increased every year. Year after year he quietly and
modestly amassed money, and when at length that snug and complete
bachelor's residence at No. 201, Curzon Street, May Fair, lately the
residence of the Honourable Frederick Deuceace, gone abroad, with
its rich and appropriate furniture by the first makers, was brought
to the hammer, who should go in and purchase the lease and furniture
of the house but Charles Raggles? A part of the money he borrowed,
it is true, and at rather a high interest, from a brother butler,
but the chief part he paid down, and it was with no small pride that
Mrs. Raggles found herself sleeping in a bed of carved mahogany,
with silk curtains, with a prodigious cheval glass opposite to her,
and a wardrobe which would contain her, and Raggles, and all the

Of course, they did not intend to occupy permanently an apartment so
splendid. It was in order to let the house again that Raggles
purchased it. As soon as a tenant was found, he subsided into the
greengrocer's shop once more; but a happy thing it was for him to
walk out of that tenement and into Curzon Street, and there survey
his house--his own house--with geraniums in the window and a carved
bronze knocker. The footman occasionally lounging at the area
railing, treated him with respect; the cook took her green stuff at
his house and called him Mr. Landlord, and there was not one thing
the tenants did, or one dish which they had for dinner, that Raggles
might not know of, if he liked.

He was a good man; good and happy. The house brought him in so
handsome a yearly income that he was determined to send his children
to good schools, and accordingly, regardless of expense, Charles was
sent to boarding at Dr. Swishtail's, Sugar-cane Lodge, and little
Matilda to Miss Peckover's, Laurentinum House, Clapham.

Raggles loved and adored the Crawley family as the author of all his
prosperity in life. He had a silhouette of his mistress in his back
shop, and a drawing of the Porter's Lodge at Queen's Crawley, done
by that spinster herself in India ink--and the only addition he made
to the decorations of the Curzon Street House was a print of Queen's
Crawley in Hampshire, the seat of Sir Walpole Crawley, Baronet, who
was represented in a gilded car drawn by six white horses, and
passing by a lake covered with swans, and barges containing ladies
in hoops, and musicians with flags and penwigs. Indeed Raggles
thought there was no such palace in all the world, and no such
august family.

As luck would have it, Raggles' house in Curzon Street was to let
when Rawdon and his wife returned to London. The Colonel knew it and
its owner quite well; the latter's connection with the Crawley
family had been kept up constantly, for Raggles helped Mr. Bowls
whenever Miss Crawley received friends. And the old man not only
let his house to the Colonel but officiated as his butler whenever
he had company; Mrs. Raggles operating in the kitchen below and
sending up dinners of which old Miss Crawley herself might have
approved. This was the way, then, Crawley got his house for
nothing; for though Raggles had to pay taxes and rates, and the
interest of the mortgage to the brother butler; and the insurance of
his life; and the charges for his children at school; and the value
of the meat and drink which his own family--and for a time that of
Colonel Crawley too--consumed; and though the poor wretch was
utterly ruined by the transaction, his children being flung on the
streets, and himself driven into the Fleet Prison: yet somebody
must pay even for gentlemen who live for nothing a year--and so it
was this unlucky Raggles was made the representative of Colonel
Crawley's defective capital.

I wonder how many families are driven to roguery and to ruin by
great practitioners in Crawlers way?--how many great noblemen rob
their petty tradesmen, condescend to swindle their poor retainers
out of wretched little sums and cheat for a few shillings? When we
read that a noble nobleman has left for the Continent, or that
another noble nobleman has an execution in his house--and that one
or other owes six or seven millions, the defeat seems glorious even,
and we respect the victim in the vastness of his ruin. But who
pities a poor barber who can't get his money for powdering the
footmen's heads; or a poor carpenter who has ruined himself by
fixing up ornaments and pavilions for my lady's dejeuner; or the
poor devil of a tailor whom the steward patronizes, and who has
pledged all he is worth, and more, to get the liveries ready, which
my lord has done him the honour to bespeak? When the great house
tumbles down, these miserable wretches fall under it unnoticed: as
they say in the old legends, before a man goes to the devil himself,
he sends plenty of other souls thither.

Rawdon and his wife generously gave their patronage to all such of
Miss Crawley's tradesmen and purveyors as chose to serve them. Some
were willing enough, especially the poor ones. It was wonderful to
see the pertinacity with which the washerwoman from Tooting brought
the cart every Saturday, and her bills week after week. Mr. Raggles
himself had to supply the greengroceries. The bill for servants'
porter at the Fortune of War public house is a curiosity in the
chronicles of beer. Every servant also was owed the greater part of
his wages, and thus kept up perforce an interest in the house.
Nobody in fact was paid. Not the blacksmith who opened the lock;
nor the glazier who mended the pane; nor the jobber who let the
carriage; nor the groom who drove it; nor the butcher who provided
the leg of mutton; nor the coals which roasted it; nor the cook who
basted it; nor the servants who ate it: and this I am given to
understand is not unfrequently the way in which people live
elegantly on nothing a year.

In a little town such things cannot be done without remark. We know
there the quantity of milk our neighbour takes and espy the joint or
the fowls which are going in for his dinner. So, probably, 200 and
202 in Curzon Street might know what was going on in the house
between them, the servants communicating through the area-railings;
but Crawley and his wife and his friends did not know 200 and 202.
When you came to 201 there was a hearty welcome, a kind smile, a
good dinner, and a jolly shake of the hand from the host and hostess
there, just for all the world as if they had been undisputed masters
of three or four thousand a year--and so they were, not in money,
but in produce and labour--if they did not pay for the mutton, they
had it: if they did not give bullion in exchange for their wine,
how should we know? Never was better claret at any man's table than
at honest Rawdon's; dinners more gay and neatly served. His
drawing-rooms were the prettiest, little, modest salons conceivable:
they were decorated with the greatest taste, and a thousand knick-
knacks from Paris, by Rebecca: and when she sat at her piano
trilling songs with a lightsome heart, the stranger voted himself in
a little paradise of domestic comfort and agreed that, if the
husband was rather stupid, the wife was charming, and the dinners
the pleasantest in the world.

Rebecca's wit, cleverness, and flippancy made her speedily the vogue
in London among a certain class. You saw demure chariots at her
door, out of which stepped very great people. You beheld her
carriage in the park, surrounded by dandies of note. The little box
in the third tier of the opera was crowded with heads constantly
changing; but it must be confessed that the ladies held aloof from
her, and that their doors were shut to our little adventurer.

With regard to the world of female fashion and its customs, the
present writer of course can only speak at second hand. A man can
no more penetrate or under-stand those mysteries than he can know
what the ladies talk about when they go upstairs after dinner. It
is only by inquiry and perseverance that one sometimes gets hints of
those secrets; and by a similar diligence every person who treads
the Pall Mall pavement and frequents the clubs of this metropolis
knows, either through his own experience or through some
acquaintance with whom he plays at billiards or shares the joint,
something about the genteel world of London, and how, as there are
men (such as Rawdon Crawley, whose position we mentioned before) who
cut a good figure to the eyes of the ignorant world and to the
apprentices in the park, who behold them consorting with the most
notorious dandies there, so there are ladies, who may be called
men's women, being welcomed entirely by all the gentlemen and cut or
slighted by all their wives. Mrs. Firebrace is of this sort; the
lady with the beautiful fair ringlets whom you see every day in Hyde
Park, surrounded by the greatest and most famous dandies of this
empire. Mrs. Rockwood is another, whose parties are announced
laboriously in the fashionable newspapers and with whom you see that
all sorts of ambassadors and great noblemen dine; and many more
might be mentioned had they to do with the history at present in
hand. But while simple folks who are out of the world, or country
people with a taste for the genteel, behold these ladies in their
seeming glory in public places, or envy them from afar off, persons
who are better instructed could inform them that these envied ladies
have no more chance of establishing themselves in "society," than
the benighted squire's wife in Somersetshire who reads of their
doings in the Morning Post. Men living about London are aware of
these awful truths. You hear how pitilessly many ladies of seeming
rank and wealth are excluded from this "society." The frantic
efforts which they make to enter this circle, the meannesses to
which they submit, the insults which they undergo, are matters of
wonder to those who take human or womankind for a study; and the
pursuit of fashion under difficulties would be a fine theme for any
very great person who had the wit, the leisure, and the knowledge of
the English language necessary for the compiling of such a history.

Now the few female acquaintances whom Mrs. Crawley had known abroad
not only declined to visit her when she came to this side of the
Channel, but cut her severely when they met in public places. It
was curious to see how the great ladies forgot her, and no doubt not
altogether a pleasant study to Rebecca. When Lady Bareacres met her
in the waiting-room at the opera, she gathered her daughters about
her as if they would be contaminated by a touch of Becky, and
retreating a step or two, placed herself in front of them, and
stared at her little enemy. To stare Becky out of countenance
required a severer glance than even the frigid old Bareacres could
shoot out of her dismal eyes. When Lady de la Mole, who had ridden
a score of times by Becky's side at Brussels, met Mrs. Crawley's
open carriage in Hyde Park, her Ladyship was quite blind, and could
not in the least recognize her former friend. Even Mrs. Blenkinsop,
the banker's wife, cut her at church. Becky went regularly to
church now; it was edifying to see her enter there with Rawdon by
her side, carrying a couple of large gilt prayer-books, and
afterwards going through the ceremony with the gravest resignation.

Rawdon at first felt very acutely the slights which were passed upon
his wife, and was inclined to be gloomy and savage. He talked of
calling out the husbands or brothers of every one of the insolent
women who did not pay a proper respect to his wife; and it was only
by the strongest commands and entreaties on her part that he was
brought into keeping a decent behaviour. "You can't shoot me into
society," she said good-naturedly. "Remember, my dear, that I was
but a governess, and you, you poor silly old man, have the worst
reputation for debt, and dice, and all sorts of wickedness. We
shall get quite as many friends as we want by and by, and in the
meanwhile you must be a good boy and obey your schoolmistress in
everything she tells you to do. When we heard that your aunt had
left almost everything to Pitt and his wife, do you remember what a
rage you were in? You would have told all Paris, if I had not made
you keep your temper, and where would you have been now?--in prison
at Ste. Pelagie for debt, and not established in London in a
handsome house, with every comfort about you--you were in such a
fury you were ready to murder your brother, you wicked Cain you, and
what good would have come of remaining angry? All the rage in the
world won't get us your aunt's money; and it is much better that we
should be friends with your brother's family than enemies, as those
foolish Butes are. When your father dies, Queen's Crawley will be a
pleasant house for you and me to pass the winter in. If we are
ruined, you can carve and take charge of the stable, and I can be a
governess to Lady Jane's children. Ruined! fiddlede-dee! I will
get you a good place before that; or Pitt and his little boy will
die, and we will be Sir Rawdon and my lady. While there is life,
there is hope, my dear, and I intend to make a man of you yet. Who
sold your horses for you? Who paid your debts for you?" Rawdon was
obliged to confess that he owed all these benefits to his wife, and
to trust himself to her guidance for the future.

Indeed, when Miss Crawley quitted the world, and that money for
which all her relatives had been fighting so eagerly was finally
left to Pitt, Bute Crawley, who found that only five thousand pounds
had been left to him instead of the twenty upon which he calculated,
was in such a fury at his disappointment that he vented it in savage
abuse upon his nephew; and the quarrel always rankling between them
ended in an utter breach of intercourse. Rawdon Crawley's conduct,
on the other hand, who got but a hundred pounds, was such as to
astonish his brother and delight his sister-in-law, who was disposed
to look kindly upon all the members of her husband's family. He
wrote to his brother a very frank, manly, good-humoured letter from
Paris. He was aware, he said, that by his own marriage he had
forfeited his aunt's favour; and though he did not disguise his
disappointment that she should have been so entirely relentless
towards him, he was glad that the money was still kept in their
branch of the family, and heartily congratulated his brother on his
good fortune. He sent his affectionate remembrances to his sister,
and hoped to have her good-will for Mrs. Rawdon; and the letter
concluded with a postscript to Pitt in the latter lady's own
handwriting. She, too, begged to join in her husband's
congratulations. She should ever remember Mr. Crawley's kindness to
her in early days when she was a friendless orphan, the instructress
of his little sisters, in whose welfare she still took the tenderest
interest. She wished him every happiness in his married life, and,
asking his permission to offer her remembrances to Lady Jane (of
whose goodness all the world informed her), she hoped that one day
she might be allowed to present her little boy to his uncle and
aunt, and begged to bespeak for him their good-will and protection.

Pitt Crawley received this communication very graciously--more
graciously than Miss Crawley had received some of Rebecca's previous
compositions in Rawdon's handwriting; and as for Lady Jane, she was
so charmed with the letter that she expected her husband would
instantly divide his aunt's legacy into two equal portions and send
off one-half to his brother at Paris.

To her Ladyship's surprise, however, Pitt declined to accommodate
his brother with a cheque for thirty thousand pounds. But he made
Rawdon a handsome offer of his hand whenever the latter should come
to England and choose to take it; and, thanking Mrs. Crawley for her
good opinion of himself and Lady Jane, he graciously pronounced his
willingness to take any opportunity to serve her little boy.

Thus an almost reconciliation was brought about between the
brothers. When Rebecca came to town Pitt and his wife were not in
London. Many a time she drove by the old door in Park Lane to see
whether they had taken possession of Miss Crawley's house there.
But the new family did not make its appearance; it was only through
Raggles that she heard of their movements--how Miss Crawley's
domestics had been dismissed with decent gratuities, and how Mr.
Pitt had only once made his appearance in London, when he stopped
for a few days at the house, did business with his lawyers there,
and sold off all Miss Crawley's French novels to a bookseller out of
Bond Street. Becky had reasons of her own which caused her to long
for the arrival of her new relation. "When Lady Jane comes," thought
she, "she shall be my sponsor in London society; and as for the
women! bah! the women will ask me when they find the men want to see

An article as necessary to a lady in this position as her brougham
or her bouquet is her companion. I have always admired the way in
which the tender creatures, who cannot exist without sympathy, hire
an exceedingly plain friend of their own sex from whom they are
almost inseparable. The sight of that inevitable woman in her faded
gown seated behind her dear friend in the opera-box, or occupying
the back seat of the barouche, is always a wholesome and moral one
to me, as jolly a reminder as that of the Death's-head which figured
in the repasts of Egyptian bon-vivants, a strange sardonic memorial
of Vanity Fair. What? even battered, brazen, beautiful,
conscienceless, heartless, Mrs. Firebrace, whose father died of her
shame: even lovely, daring Mrs. Mantrap, who will ride at any fence
which any man in England will take, and who drives her greys in the
park, while her mother keeps a huckster's stall in Bath still--even
those who are so bold, one might fancy they could face anything dare
not face the world without a female friend. They must have somebody
to cling to, the affectionate creatures! And you will hardly see
them in any public place without a shabby companion in a dyed silk,
sitting somewhere in the shade close behind them.

"Rawdon," said Becky, very late one night, as a party of gentlemen
were seated round her crackling drawing-room fire (for the men came
to her house to finish the night; and she had ice and coffee for
them, the best in London): "I must have a sheep-dog."

"A what?" said Rawdon, looking up from an ecarte table.

"A sheep-dog!" said young Lord Southdown. "My dear Mrs. Crawley,
what a fancy! Why not have a Danish dog? I know of one as big as a
camel-leopard, by Jove. It would almost pull your brougham. Or a
Persian greyhound, eh? (I propose, if you please); or a little pug
that would go into one of Lord Steyne's snuff-boxes? There's a man
at Bayswater got one with such a nose that you might--I mark the
king and play--that you might hang your hat on it."

"I mark the trick," Rawdon gravely said. He attended to his game
commonly and didn't much meddle with the conversation, except when
it was about horses and betting.

"What CAN you want with a shepherd's dog?" the lively little
Southdown continued.

"I mean a MORAL shepherd's dog," said Becky, laughing and looking up
at Lord Steyne.

"What the devil's that?" said his Lordship.

"A dog to keep the wolves off me," Rebecca continued. "A companion."

"Dear little innocent lamb, you want one," said the marquis; and his
jaw thrust out, and he began to grin hideously, his little eyes
leering towards Rebecca.

The great Lord of Steyne was standing by the fire sipping coffee.
The fire crackled and blazed pleasantly There was a score of candles
sparkling round the mantel piece, in all sorts of quaint sconces, of
gilt and bronze and porcelain. They lighted up Rebecca's figure to
admiration, as she sat on a sofa covered with a pattern of gaudy
flowers. She was in a pink dress that looked as fresh as a rose;
her dazzling white arms and shoulders were half-covered with a thin
hazy scarf through which they sparkled; her hair hung in curls round
her neck; one of her little feet peeped out from the fresh crisp
folds of the silk: the prettiest little foot in the prettiest
little sandal in the finest silk stocking in the world.

The candles lighted up Lord Steyne's shining bald head, which was
fringed with red hair. He had thick bushy eyebrows, with little
twinkling bloodshot eyes, surrounded by a thousand wrinkles. His
jaw was underhung, and when he laughed, two white buck-teeth
protruded themselves and glistened savagely in the midst of the
grin. He had been dining with royal personages, and wore his garter
and ribbon. A short man was his Lordship, broad-chested and bow-
legged, but proud of the fineness of his foot and ankle, and always
caressing his garter-knee.

"And so the shepherd is not enough," said he, "to defend his

"The shepherd is too fond of playing at cards and going to his
clubs," answered Becky, laughing.

"'Gad, what a debauched Corydon!" said my lord--"what a mouth for a

"I take your three to two," here said Rawdon, at the card-table.

"Hark at Meliboeus," snarled the noble marquis; "he's pastorally
occupied too: he's shearing a Southdown. What an innocent mutton,
hey? Damme, what a snowy fleece!"

Rebecca's eyes shot out gleams of scornful humour. "My lord," she
said, "you are a knight of the Order." He had the collar round his
neck, indeed--a gift of the restored princes of Spain.

Lord Steyne in early life had been notorious for his daring and his
success at play. He had sat up two days and two nights with Mr. Fox
at hazard. He had won money of the most august personages of the
realm: he had won his marquisate, it was said, at the gaming-table;
but he did not like an allusion to those bygone fredaines. Rebecca
saw the scowl gathering over his heavy brow.

She rose up from her sofa and went and took his coffee cup out of
his hand with a little curtsey. "Yes," she said, "I must get a
watchdog. But he won't bark at YOU." And, going into the other
drawing-room, she sat down to the piano and began to sing little
French songs in such a charming, thrilling voice that the mollified
nobleman speedily followed her into that chamber, and might be seen
nodding his head and bowing time over her.

Rawdon and his friend meanwhile played ecarte until they had enough.
The Colonel won; but, say that he won ever so much and often, nights
like these, which occurred many times in the week--his wife having
all the talk and all the admiration, and he sitting silent without
the circle, not comprehending a word of the jokes, the allusions,
the mystical language within--must have been rather wearisome to the

"How is Mrs. Crawley's husband?" Lord Steyne used to say to him by
way of a good day when they met; and indeed that was now his
avocation in life. He was Colonel Crawley no more. He was Mrs.
Crawley's husband.

About the little Rawdon, if nothing has been said all this while, it
is because he is hidden upstairs in a garret somewhere, or has
crawled below into the kitchen for companionship. His mother
scarcely ever took notice of him. He passed the days with his
French bonne as long as that domestic remained in Mr. Crawley's
family, and when the Frenchwoman went away, the little fellow,
howling in the loneliness of the night, had compassion taken on him
by a housemaid, who took him out of his solitary nursery into her
bed in the garret hard by and comforted him.

Rebecca, my Lord Steyne, and one or two more were in the drawing-
room taking tea after the opera, when this shouting was heard
overhead. "It's my cherub crying for his nurse," she said. She did
not offer to move to go and see the child. "Don't agitate your
feelings by going to look for him," said Lord Steyne sardonically.
"Bah!" replied the other, with a sort of blush, "he'll cry himself
to sleep"; and they fell to talking about the opera.

Rawdon had stolen off though, to look after his son and heir; and
came back to the company when he found that honest Dolly was
consoling the child. The Colonel's dressing-room was in those upper
regions. He used to see the boy there in private. They had
interviews together every morning when he shaved; Rawdon minor
sitting on a box by his father's side and watching the operation
with never-ceasing pleasure. He and the sire were great friends.
The father would bring him sweetmeats from the dessert and hide them
in a certain old epaulet box, where the child went to seek them, and
laughed with joy on discovering the treasure; laughed, but not too
loud: for mamma was below asleep and must not be disturbed. She
did not go to rest till very late and seldom rose till after noon.

Rawdon bought the boy plenty of picture-books and crammed his
nursery with toys. Its walls were covered with pictures pasted up
by the father's own hand and purchased by him for ready money. When
he was off duty with Mrs. Rawdon in the park, he would sit up here,
passing hours with the boy; who rode on his chest, who pulled his
great mustachios as if they were driving-reins, and spent days with
him in indefatigable gambols. The room was a low room, and once,
when the child was not five years old, his father, who was tossing
him wildly up in his arms, hit the poor little chap's skull so
violently against the ceiling that he almost dropped the child, so
terrified was he at the disaster.

Rawdon minor had made up his face for a tremendous howl--the
severity of the blow indeed authorized that indulgence; but just as
he was going to begin, the father interposed.

"For God's sake, Rawdy, don't wake Mamma," he cried. And the child,
looking in a very hard and piteous way at his father, bit his lips,
clenched his hands, and didn't cry a bit. Rawdon told that story at
the clubs, at the mess, to everybody in town. "By Gad, sir," he
explained to the public in general, "what a good plucked one that
boy of mine is--what a trump he is! I half-sent his head through
the ceiling, by Gad, and he wouldn't cry for fear of disturbing his

Sometimes--once or twice in a week--that lady visited the upper
regions in which the child lived. She came like a vivified figure
out of the Magasin des Modes--blandly smiling in the most beautiful
new clothes and little gloves and boots. Wonderful scarfs, laces,
and jewels glittered about her. She had always a new bonnet on, and
flowers bloomed perpetually in it, or else magnificent curling
ostrich feathers, soft and snowy as camellias. She nodded twice or
thrice patronizingly to the little boy, who looked up from his
dinner or from the pictures of soldiers he was painting. When she
left the room, an odour of rose, or some other magical fragrance,
lingered about the nursery. She was an unearthly being in his eyes,
superior to his father--to all the world: to be worshipped and
admired at a distance. To drive with that lady in the carriage was
an awful rite: he sat up in the back seat and did not dare to
speak: he gazed with all his eyes at the beautifully dressed
Princess opposite to him. Gentlemen on splendid prancing horses
came up and smiled and talked with her. How her eyes beamed upon all
of them! Her hand used to quiver and wave gracefully as they
passed. When he went out with her he had his new red dress on. His
old brown holland was good enough when he stayed at home. Sometimes,
when she was away, and Dolly his maid was making his bed, he came
into his mother's room. It was as the abode of a fairy to him--a
mystic chamber of splendour and delights. There in the wardrobe
hung those wonderful robes--pink and blue and many-tinted. There
was the jewel-case, silver-clasped, and the wondrous bronze hand on
the dressing-table, glistening all over with a hundred rings. There
was the cheval-glass, that miracle of art, in which he could just
see his own wondering head and the reflection of Dolly (queerly
distorted, and as if up in the ceiling), plumping and patting the
pillows of the bed. Oh, thou poor lonely little benighted boy!
Mother is the name for God in the lips and hearts of little
children; and here was one who was worshipping a stone!

Now Rawdon Crawley, rascal as the Colonel was, had certain manly
tendencies of affection in his heart and could love a child and a
woman still. For Rawdon minor he had a great secret tenderness
then, which did not escape Rebecca, though she did not talk about it
to her husband. It did not annoy her: she was too good-natured.
It only increased her scorn for him. He felt somehow ashamed of
this paternal softness and hid it from his wife--only indulging in
it when alone with the boy.

He used to take him out of mornings when they would go to the
stables together and to the park. Little Lord Southdown, the best-
natured of men, who would make you a present of the hat from his
head, and whose main occupation in life was to buy knick-knacks that
he might give them away afterwards, bought the little chap a pony
not much bigger than a large rat, the donor said, and on this little
black Shetland pygmy young Rawdon's great father was pleased to
mount the boy, and to walk by his side in the park. It pleased him
to see his old quarters, and his old fellow-guardsmen at
Knightsbridge: he had begun to think of his bachelorhood with
something like regret. The old troopers were glad to recognize
their ancient officer and dandle the little colonel. Colonel Crawley
found dining at mess and with his brother-officers very pleasant.
"Hang it, I ain't clever enough for her--I know it. She won't miss
me," he used to say: and he was right, his wife did not miss him.

Rebecca was fond of her husband. She was always perfectly good-
humoured and kind to him. She did not even show her scorn much for
him; perhaps she liked him the better for being a fool. He was her
upper servant and maitre d'hotel. He went on her errands; obeyed
her orders without question; drove in the carriage in the ring with
her without repining; took her to the opera-box, solaced himself at
his club during the performance, and came punctually back to fetch
her when due. He would have liked her to be a little fonder of the
boy, but even to that he reconciled himself. "Hang it, you know
she's so clever," he said, "and I'm not literary and that, you
know." For, as we have said before, it requires no great wisdom to
be able to win at cards and billiards, and Rawdon made no
pretensions to any other sort of skill.

When the companion came, his domestic duties became very light. His
wife encouraged him to dine abroad: she would let him off duty at
the opera. "Don't stay and stupefy yourself at home to-night, my
dear," she would say. "Some men are coming who will only bore you.
I would not ask them, but you know it's for your good, and now I
have a sheep-dog, I need not be afraid to be alone."

"A sheep-dog--a companion! Becky Sharp with a companion! Isn't it
good fun?" thought Mrs. Crawley to herself. The notion tickled
hugely her sense of humour.

One Sunday morning, as Rawdon Crawley, his little son, and the pony
were taking their accustomed walk in the park, they passed by an old
acquaintance of the Colonel's, Corporal Clink, of the regiment, who
was in conversation with a friend, an old gentleman, who held a boy
in his arms about the age of little Rawdon. This other youngster
had seized hold of the Waterloo medal which the Corporal wore, and
was examining it with delight.

"Good morning, your Honour," said Clink, in reply to the "How do,
Clink?" of the Colonel. "This ere young gentleman is about the
little Colonel's age, sir," continued the corporal.

"His father was a Waterloo man, too," said the old gentleman, who
carried the boy. "Wasn't he, Georgy?"

"Yes," said Georgy. He and the little chap on the pony were looking
at each other with all their might--solemnly scanning each other as
children do.

"In a line regiment," Clink said with a patronizing air.

"He was a Captain in the --th regiment," said the old gentleman
rather pompously. "Captain George Osborne, sir--perhaps you knew
him. He died the death of a hero, sir, fighting against the
Corsican tyrant." Colonel Crawley blushed quite red. "I knew him
very well, sir," he said, "and his wife, his dear little wife, sir--
how is she?"

"She is my daughter, sir," said the old gentleman, putting down the
boy and taking out a card with great solemnity, which he handed to
the Colonel. On it written--

"Mr. Sedley, Sole Agent for the Black Diamond and Anti-Cinder Coal
Association, Bunker's Wharf, Thames Street, and Anna-Maria Cottages,
Fulham Road West."

Little Georgy went up and looked at the Shetland pony.

"Should you like to have a ride?" said Rawdon minor from the saddle.

"Yes," said Georgy. The Colonel, who had been looking at him with
some interest, took up the child and put him on the pony behind
Rawdon minor.

"Take hold of him, Georgy," he said--"take my little boy round the
waist--his name is Rawdon." And both the children began to laugh.

"You won't see a prettier pair I think, THIS summer's day, sir,"
said the good-natured Corporal; and the Colonel, the Corporal, and
old Mr. Sedley with his umbrella, walked by the side of the


A Family in a Very Small Way

We must suppose little George Osborne has ridden from Knightsbridge
towards Fulham, and will stop and make inquiries at that village
regarding some friends whom we have left there. How is Mrs. Amelia
after the storm of Waterloo? Is she living and thriving? What has
come of Major Dobbin, whose cab was always hankering about her
premises? And is there any news of the Collector of Boggley Wollah?
The facts concerning the latter are briefly these:

Our worthy fat friend Joseph Sedley returned to India not long after
his escape from Brussels. Either his furlough was up, or he dreaded
to meet any witnesses of his Waterloo flight. However it might be,
he went back to his duties in Bengal very soon after Napoleon had
taken up his residence at St. Helena, where Jos saw the ex-Emperor.
To hear Mr. Sedley talk on board ship you would have supposed that
it was not the first time he and the Corsican had met, and that the
civilian had bearded the French General at Mount St. John. He had
a thousand anecdotes about the famous battles; he knew the position
of every regiment and the loss which each had incurred. He did not
deny that he had been concerned in those victories--that he had been
with the army and carried despatches for the Duke of Wellington. And
he described what the Duke did and said on every conceivable moment
of the day of Waterloo, with such an accurate knowledge of his
Grace's sentiments and proceedings that it was clear he must have
been by the conqueror's side throughout the day; though, as a non-
combatant, his name was not mentioned in the public documents
relative to the battle. Perhaps he actually worked himself up to
believe that he had been engaged with the army; certain it is that
he made a prodigious sensation for some time at Calcutta, and was
called Waterloo Sedley during the whole of his subsequent stay in

The bills which Jos had given for the purchase of those unlucky
horses were paid without question by him and his agents. He never
was heard to allude to the bargain, and nobody knows for a certainty
what became of the horses, or how he got rid of them, or of Isidor,
his Belgian servant, who sold a grey horse, very like the one which
Jos rode, at Valenciennes sometime during the autumn of 1815.

Jos's London agents had orders to pay one hundred and twenty pounds
yearly to his parents at Fulham. It was the chief support of the
old couple; for Mr. Sedley's speculations in life subsequent to his
bankruptcy did not by any means retrieve the broken old gentleman's
fortune. He tried to be a wine-merchant, a coal-merchant, a
commission lottery agent, &c., &c. He sent round prospectuses to
his friends whenever he took a new trade, and ordered a new brass
plate for the door, and talked pompously about making his fortune
still. But Fortune never came back to the feeble and stricken old
man. One by one his friends dropped off, and were weary of buying
dear coals and bad wine from him; and there was only his wife in all
the world who fancied, when he tottered off to the City of a
morning, that he was still doing any business there. At evening he
crawled slowly back; and he used to go of nights to a little club at
a tavern, where he disposed of the finances of the nation. It was
wonderful to hear him talk about millions, and agios, and discounts,
and what Rothschild was doing, and Baring Brothers. He talked of
such vast sums that the gentlemen of the club (the apothecary, the
undertaker, the great carpenter and builder, the parish clerk, who
was allowed to come stealthily, and Mr. Clapp, our old
acquaintance,) respected the old gentleman. "I was better off once,
sir," he did not fail to tell everybody who "used the room." "My
son, sir, is at this minute chief magistrate of Ramgunge in the
Presidency of Bengal, and touching his four thousand rupees per
mensem. My daughter might be a Colonel's lady if she liked. I
might draw upon my son, the first magistrate, sir, for two thousand
pounds to-morrow, and Alexander would cash my bill, down sir, down
on the counter, sir. But the Sedleys were always a proud family."
You and I, my dear reader, may drop into this condition one day:
for have not many of our friends attained it? Our luck may fail: our
powers forsake us: our place on the boards be taken by better and
younger mimes--the chance of life roll away and leave us shattered
and stranded. Then men will walk across the road when they meet
you--or, worse still, hold you out a couple of fingers and patronize
you in a pitying way--then you will know, as soon as your back is
turned, that your friend begins with a "Poor devil, what imprudences
he has committed, what chances that chap has thrown away!" Well,
well--a carriage and three thousand a year is not the summit of the
reward nor the end of God's judgment of men. If quacks prosper as
often as they go to the wall--if zanies succeed and knaves arrive at
fortune, and, vice versa, sharing ill luck and prosperity for all
the world like the ablest and most honest amongst us--I say,
brother, the gifts and pleasures of Vanity Fair cannot be held of
any great account, and that it is probable . . . but we are
wandering out of the domain of the story.

Had Mrs. Sedley been a woman of energy, she would have exerted it
after her husband's ruin and, occupying a large house, would have
taken in boarders. The broken Sedley would have acted well as the
boarding-house landlady's husband; the Munoz of private life; the
titular lord and master: the carver, house-steward, and humble
husband of the occupier of the dingy throne. I have seen men of
good brains and breeding, and of good hopes and vigour once, who
feasted squires and kept hunters in their youth, meekly cutting up
legs of mutton for rancorous old harridans and pretending to preside
over their dreary tables--but Mrs. Sedley, we say, had not spirit
enough to bustle about for "a few select inmates to join a cheerful
musical family," such as one reads of in the Times. She was content
to lie on the shore where fortune had stranded her--and you could
see that the career of this old couple was over.

I don't think they were unhappy. Perhaps they were a little prouder
in their downfall than in their prosperity. Mrs. Sedley was always a
great person for her landlady, Mrs. Clapp, when she descended and
passed many hours with her in the basement or ornamented kitchen.
The Irish maid Betty Flanagan's bonnets and ribbons, her sauciness,
her idleness, her reckless prodigality of kitchen candles, her
consumption of tea and sugar, and so forth occupied and amused the
old lady almost as much as the doings of her former household, when
she had Sambo and the coachman, and a groom, and a footboy, and a
housekeeper with a regiment of female domestics--her former
household, about which the good lady talked a hundred times a day.
And besides Betty Flanagan, Mrs. Sedley had all the maids-of-all-
work in the street to superintend. She knew how each tenant of the
cottages paid or owed his little rent. She stepped aside when Mrs.
Rougemont the actress passed with her dubious family. She flung up
her head when Mrs. Pestler, the apothecary's lady, drove by in her
husband's professional one-horse chaise. She had colloquies with
the greengrocer about the pennorth of turnips which Mr. Sedley
loved; she kept an eye upon the milkman and the baker's boy; and
made visitations to the butcher, who sold hundreds of oxen very
likely with less ado than was made about Mrs. Sedley's loin of
mutton: and she counted the potatoes under the joint on Sundays, on
which days, dressed in her best, she went to church twice and read
Blair's Sermons in the evening.

On that day, for "business" prevented him on weekdays from taking
such a pleasure, it was old Sedley's delight to take out his little
grandson Georgy to the neighbouring parks or Kensington Gardens, to
see the soldiers or to feed the ducks. Georgy loved the redcoats,
and his grandpapa told him how his father had been a famous soldier,
and introduced him to many sergeants and others with Waterloo medals
on their breasts, to whom the old grandfather pompously presented
the child as the son of Captain Osborne of the --th, who died
gloriously on the glorious eighteenth. He has been known to treat
some of these non-commissioned gentlemen to a glass of porter, and,
indeed, in their first Sunday walks was disposed to spoil little
Georgy, sadly gorging the boy with apples and parliament, to the
detriment of his health--until Amelia declared that George should
never go out with his grandpapa unless the latter promised solemnly,
and on his honour, not to give the child any cakes, lollipops, or
stall produce whatever.

Between Mrs. Sedley and her daughter there was a sort of coolness
about this boy, and a secret jealousy--for one evening in George's
very early days, Amelia, who had been seated at work in their little
parlour scarcely remarking that the old lady had quitted the room,
ran upstairs instinctively to the nursery at the cries of the child,
who had been asleep until that moment--and there found Mrs. Sedley
in the act of surreptitiously administering Daffy's Elixir to the
infant. Amelia, the gentlest and sweetest of everyday mortals, when
she found this meddling with her maternal authority, thrilled and
trembled all over with anger. Her cheeks, ordinarily pale, now
flushed up, until they were as red as they used to be when she was a
child of twelve years old. She seized the baby out of her mother's
arms and then grasped at the bottle, leaving the old lady gaping at
her, furious, and holding the guilty tea-spoon.

Amelia flung the bottle crashing into the fire-place. "I will NOT
have baby poisoned, Mamma," cried Emmy, rocking the infant about
violently with both her arms round him and turning with flashing
eyes at her mother.

"Poisoned, Amelia!" said the old lady; "this language to me?"

"He shall not have any medicine but that which Mr. Pestler sends for
hi n. He told me that Daffy's Elixir was poison."

"Very good: you think I'm a murderess then," replied Mrs. Sedley.
"This is the language you use to your mother. I have met with
misfortunes: I have sunk low in life: I have kept my carriage, and
now walk on foot: but I did not know I was a murderess before, and
thank you for the NEWS."

"Mamma," said the poor girl, who was always ready for tears--"you
shouldn't be hard upon me. I--I didn't mean--I mean, I did not wish
to say you would to any wrong to this dear child, only--"

"Oh, no, my love,--only that I was a murderess; in which case I had
better go to the Old Bailey. Though I didn't poison YOU, when you
were a child, but gave you the best of education and the most
expensive masters money could procure. Yes; I've nursed five
children and buried three; and the one I loved the best of all, and
tended through croup, and teething, and measles, and hooping-cough,
and brought up with foreign masters, regardless of expense, and with
accomplishments at Minerva House--which I never had when I was a
girl--when I was too glad to honour my father and mother, that I
might live long in the land, and to be useful, and not to mope all
day in my room and act the fine lady--says I'm a murderess. Ah,
Mrs. Osborne! may YOU never nourish a viper in your bosom, that's MY

"Mamma, Mamma!" cried the bewildered girl; and the child in her arms
set up a frantic chorus of shouts. "A murderess, indeed! Go down on
your knees and pray to God to cleanse your wicked ungrateful heart,
Amelia, and may He forgive you as I do." And Mrs. Sedley tossed out
of the room, hissing out the word poison once more, and so ending
her charitable benediction.

Till the termination of her natural life, this breach between Mrs.
Sedley and her daughter was never thoroughly mended. The quarrel
gave the elder lady numberless advantages which she did not fail to
turn to account with female ingenuity and perseverance. For
instance, she scarcely spoke to Amelia for many weeks afterwards.
She warned the domestics not to touch the child, as Mrs. Osborne
might be offended. She asked her daughter to see and satisfy
herself that there was no poison prepared in the little daily messes
that were concocted for Georgy. When neighbours asked after the
boy's health, she referred them pointedly to Mrs. Osborne. SHE
never ventured to ask whether the baby was well or not. SHE would
not touch the child although he was her grandson, and own precious
darling, for she was not USED to children, and might kill it. And
whenever Mr. Pestler came upon his healing inquisition, she received
the doctor with such a sarcastic and scornful demeanour, as made the
surgeon declare that not Lady Thistlewood herself, whom he had the
honour of attending professionally, could give herself greater airs
than old Mrs. Sedley, from whom he never took a fee. And very
likely Emmy was jealous too, upon her own part, as what mother is
not, of those who would manage her children for her, or become
candidates for the first place in their affections. It is certain
that when anybody nursed the child, she was uneasy, and that she
would no more allow Mrs. Clapp or the domestic to dress or tend him
than she would have let them wash her husband's miniature which hung
up over her little bed--the same little bed from which the poor girl
had gone to his; and to which she retired now for many long, silent,
tearful, but happy years.

In this room was all Amelia's heart and treasure. Here it was that
she tended her boy and watched him through the many ills of
childhood, with a constant passion of love. The elder George
returned in him somehow, only improved, and as if come back from
heaven. In a hundred little tones, looks, and movements, the child
was so like his father that the widow's heart thrilled as she held
him to it; and he would often ask the cause of her tears. It was
because of his likeness to his father, she did not scruple to tell
him. She talked constantly to him about this dead father, and spoke
of her love for George to the innocent and wondering child; much
more than she ever had done to George himself, or to any confidante
of her youth. To her parents she never talked about this matter,
shrinking from baring her heart to them. Little George very likely
could understand no better than they, but into his ears she poured
her sentimental secrets unreservedly, and into his only. The very
joy of this woman was a sort of grief, or so tender, at least, that
its expression was tears. Her sensibilities were so weak and
tremulous that perhaps they ought not to be talked about in a book.
I was told by Dr. Pestler (now a most flourishing lady's physician,
with a sumptuous dark green carriage, a prospect of speedy
knighthood, and a house in Manchester Square) that her grief at
weaning the child was a sight that would have unmanned a Herod. He
was very soft-hearted many years ago, and his wife was mortally
jealous of Mrs. Amelia, then and long afterwards.

Perhaps the doctor's lady had good reason for her jealousy: most
women shared it, of those who formed the small circle of Amelia's
acquaintance, and were quite angry at the enthusiasm with which the
other sex regarded her. For almost all men who came near her loved
her; though no doubt they would be at a loss to tell you why. She
was not brilliant, nor witty, nor wise over much, nor
extraordinarily handsome. But wherever she went she touched and
charmed every one of the male sex, as invariably as she awakened the
scorn and incredulity of her own sisterhood. I think it was her
weakness which was her principal charm--a kind of sweet submission
and softness, which seemed to appeal to each man she met for his
sympathy and protection. We have seen how in the regiment, though
she spoke but to few of George's comrades there, all the swords of
the young fellows at the mess-table would have leapt from their
scabbards to fight round her; and so it was in the little narrow
lodging-house and circle at Fulham, she interested and pleased
everybody. If she had been Mrs. Mango herself, of the great house
of Mango, Plantain, and Co., Crutched Friars, and the magnificent
proprietress of the Pineries, Fulham, who gave summer dejeuners
frequented by Dukes and Earls, and drove about the parish with
magnificent yellow liveries and bay horses, such as the royal
stables at Kensington themselves could not turn out--I say had she
been Mrs. Mango herself, or her son's wife, Lady Mary Mango
(daughter of the Earl of Castlemouldy, who condescended to marry the
head of the firm), the tradesmen of the neighbourhood could not pay
her more honour than they invariably showed to the gentle young
widow, when she passed by their doors, or made her humble purchases
at their shops.

Thus it was not only Mr. Pestler, the medical man, but Mr. Linton
the young assistant, who doctored the servant maids and small
tradesmen, and might be seen any day reading the Times in the
surgery, who openly declared himself the slave of Mrs. Osborne. He
was a personable young gentleman, more welcome at Mrs. Sedley's
lodgings than his principal; and if anything went wrong with Georgy,
he would drop in twice or thrice in the day to see the little chap,
and without so much as the thought of a fee. He would abstract
lozenges, tamarinds, and other produce from the surgery-drawers for
little Georgy's benefit, and compounded draughts and mixtures for
him of miraculous sweetness, so that it was quite a pleasure to the
child to be ailing. He and Pestler, his chief, sat up two whole
nights by the boy in that momentous and awful week when Georgy had
the measles; and when you would have thought, from the mother's
terror, that there had never been measles in the world before. Would
they have done as much for other people? Did they sit up for the
folks at the Pineries, when Ralph Plantagenet, and Gwendoline, and
Guinever Mango had the same juvenile complaint? Did they sit up for
little Mary Clapp, the landlord's daughter, who actually caught the
disease of little Georgy? Truth compels one to say, no. They slept
quite undisturbed, at least as far as she was concerned--pronounced
hers to be a slight case, which would almost cure itself, sent her
in a draught or two, and threw in bark when the child rallied, with
perfect indifference, and just for form's sake.

Again, there was the little French chevalier opposite, who gave
lessons in his native tongue at various schools in the
neighbourhood, and who might be heard in his apartment of nights
playing tremulous old gavottes and minuets on a wheezy old fiddle.
Whenever this powdered and courteous old man, who never missed a
Sunday at the convent chapel at Hammersmith, and who was in all
respects, thoughts, conduct, and bearing utterly unlike the bearded
savages of his nation, who curse perfidious Albion, and scowl at you
from over their cigars, in the Quadrant arcades at the present day--
whenever the old Chevalier de Talonrouge spoke of Mistress Osborne,
he would first finish his pinch of snuff, flick away the remaining
particles of dust with a graceful wave of his hand, gather up his
fingers again into a bunch, and, bringing them up to his mouth, blow
them open with a kiss, exclaiming, Ah! la divine creature! He vowed
and protested that when Amelia walked in the Brompton Lanes flowers
grew in profusion under her feet. He called little Georgy Cupid,
and asked him news of Venus, his mamma; and told the astonished
Betty Flanagan that she was one of the Graces, and the favourite
attendant of the Reine des Amours.

Instances might be multiplied of this easily gained and unconscious
popularity. Did not Mr. Binny, the mild and genteel curate of the
district chapel, which the family attended, call assiduously upon
the widow, dandle the little boy on his knee, and offer to teach him
Latin, to the anger of the elderly virgin, his sister, who kept
house for him? "There is nothing in her, Beilby," the latter lady
would say. "When she comes to tea here she does not speak a word
during the whole evening. She is but a poor lackadaisical creature,
and it is my belief has no heart at all. It is only her pretty face
which all you gentlemen admire so. Miss Grits, who has five
thousand pounds, and expectations besides, has twice as much
character, and is a thousand times more agreeable to my taste; and
if she were good-looking I know that you would think her

Very likely Miss Binny was right to a great extent. It IS the
pretty face which creates sympathy in the hearts of men, those
wicked rogues. A woman may possess the wisdom and chastity of
Minerva, and we give no heed to her, if she has a plain face. What
folly will not a pair of bright eyes make pardonable? What dulness
may not red lips and sweet accents render pleasant? And so, with
their usual sense of justice, ladies argue that because a woman is
handsome, therefore she is a fool. O ladies, ladies! there are some
of you who are neither handsome nor wise.

These are but trivial incidents to recount in the life of our
heroine. Her tale does not deal in wonders, as the gentle reader
has already no doubt perceived; and if a journal had been kept of
her proceedings during the seven years after the birth of her son,
there would be found few incidents more remarkable in it than that
of the measles, recorded in the foregoing page. Yes, one day, and
greatly to her wonder, the Reverend Mr. Binny, just mentioned, asked
her to change her name of Osborne for his own; when, with deep
blushes and tears in her eyes and voice, she thanked him for his
regard for her, expressed gratitude for his attentions to her and to
her poor little boy, but said that she never, never could think of
any but--but the husband whom she had lost.

On the twenty-fifth of April, and the eighteenth of June, the days
of marriage and widowhood, she kept her room entirely, consecrating
them (and we do not know how many hours of solitary night-thought,
her little boy sleeping in his crib by her bedside) to the memory of
that departed friend. During the day she was more active. She had
to teach George to read and to write and a little to draw. She read
books, in order that she might tell him stories from them. As his
eyes opened and his mind expanded under the influence of the outward
nature round about him, she taught the child, to the best of her
humble power, to acknowledge the Maker of all, and every night and
every morning he and she--(in that awful and touching communion
which I think must bring a thrill to the heart of every man who
witnesses or who remembers it)--the mother and the little boy--
prayed to Our Father together, the mother pleading with all her
gentle heart, the child lisping after her as she spoke. And each
time they prayed to God to bless dear Papa, as if he were alive and
in the room with them. To wash and dress this young gentleman--to
take him for a run of the mornings, before breakfast, and the
retreat of grandpapa for "business"--to make for him the most
wonderful and ingenious dresses, for which end the thrifty widow cut
up and altered every available little bit of finery which she
possessed out of her wardrobe during her marriage--for Mrs. Osborne
herself (greatly to her mother's vexation, who preferred fine
clothes, especially since her misfortunes) always wore a black gown
and a straw bonnet with a black ribbon--occupied her many hours of
the day. Others she had to spare, at the service of her mother and
her old father. She had taken the pains to learn, and used to play
cribbage with this gentleman on the nights when he did not go to his
club. She sang for him when he was so minded, and it was a good
sign, for he invariably fell into a comfortable sleep during the
music. She wrote out his numerous memorials, letters, prospectuses,
and projects. It was in her handwriting that most of the old
gentleman's former acquaintances were informed that he had become an
agent for the Black Diamond and Anti-Cinder Coal Company and could
supply his friends and the public with the best coals at --s. per
chaldron. All he did was to sign the circulars with his flourish
and signature, and direct them in a shaky, clerklike hand. One of
these papers was sent to Major Dobbin,--Regt., care of Messrs. Cox
and Greenwood; but the Major being in Madras at the time, had no
particular call for coals. He knew, though, the hand which had
written the prospectus. Good God! what would he not have given to
hold it in his own! A second prospectus came out, informing the
Major that J. Sedley and Company, having established agencies at
Oporto, Bordeaux, and St. Mary's, were enabled to offer to their
friends and the public generally the finest and most celebrated
growths of ports, sherries, and claret wines at reasonable prices
and under extraordinary advantages. Acting upon this hint, Dobbin
furiously canvassed the governor, the commander-in-chief, the
judges, the regiments, and everybody whom he knew in the Presidency,
and sent home to Sedley and Co. orders for wine which perfectly
astonished Mr. Sedley and Mr. Clapp, who was the Co. in the
business. But no more orders came after that first burst of good
fortune, on which poor old Sedley was about to build a house in the
City, a regiment of clerks, a dock to himself, and correspondents
all over the world. The old gentleman's former taste in wine had
gone: the curses of the mess-room assailed Major Dobbin for the
vile drinks he had been the means of introducing there; and he
bought back a great quantity of the wine and sold it at public
outcry, at an enormous loss to himself. As for Jos, who was by this
time promoted to a seat at the Revenue Board at Calcutta, he was
wild with rage when the post brought him out a bundle of these
Bacchanalian prospectuses, with a private note from his father,
telling Jos that his senior counted upon him in this enterprise, and
had consigned a quantity of select wines to him, as per invoice,
drawing bills upon him for the amount of the same. Jos, who would
no more have it supposed that his father, Jos Sedley's father, of
the Board of Revenue, was a wine merchant asking for orders, than
that he was Jack Ketch, refused the bills with scorn, wrote back
contumeliously to the old gentleman, bidding him to mind his own
affairs; and the protested paper coming back, Sedley and Co. had to
take it up, with the profits which they had made out of the Madras
venture, and with a little portion of Emmy's savings.

Besides her pension of fifty pounds a year, there had been five
hundred pounds, as her husband's executor stated, left in the
agent's hands at the time of Osborne's demise, which sum, as
George's guardian, Dobbin proposed to put out at 8 per cent in an
Indian house of agency. Mr. Sedley, who thought the Major had some
roguish intentions of his own about the money, was strongly against
this plan; and he went to the agents to protest personally against
the employment of the money in question, when he learned, to his
surprise, that there had been no such sum in their hands, that all
the late Captain's assets did not amount to a hundred pounds, and
that the five hundred pounds in question must be a separate sum, of
which Major Dobbin knew the particulars. More than ever convinced
that there was some roguery, old Sedley pursued the Major. As his
daughter's nearest friend, he demanded with a high hand a statement
of the late Captain's accounts. Dobbin's stammering, blushing, and
awkwardness added to the other's convictions that he had a rogue to
deal with, and in a majestic tone he told that officer a piece of
his mind, as he called it, simply stating his belief that the Major
was unlawfully detaining his late son-in-law's money.

Dobbin at this lost all patience, and if his accuser had not been so
old and so broken, a quarrel might have ensued between them at the
Slaughters' Coffee-house, in a box of which place of entertainment
the gentlemen had their colloquy. "Come upstairs, sir," lisped out
the Major. "I insist on your coming up the stairs, and I will show
which is the injured party, poor George or I"; and, dragging the old
gentleman up to his bedroom, he produced from his desk Osborne's
accounts, and a bundle of IOU's which the latter had given, who, to
do him justice, was always ready to give an IOU. "He paid his bills
in England," Dobbin added, "but he had not a hundred pounds in the
world when he fell. I and one or two of his brother officers made
up the little sum, which was all that we could spare, and you dare
tell us that we are trying to cheat the widow and the orphan."
Sedley was very contrite and humbled, though the fact is that
William Dobbin had told a great falsehood to the old gentleman;
having himself given every shilling of the money, having buried his
friend, and paid all the fees and charges incident upon the calamity
and removal of poor Amelia.

About these expenses old Osborne had never given himself any trouble
to think, nor any other relative of Amelia, nor Amelia herself,
indeed. She trusted to Major Dobbin as an accountant, took his
somewhat confused calculations for granted, and never once suspected
how much she was in his debt.

Twice or thrice in the year, according to her promise, she wrote him
letters to Madras, letters all about little Georgy. How he
treasured these papers! Whenever Amelia wrote he answered, and not
until then. But he sent over endless remembrances of himself to his
godson and to her. He ordered and sent a box of scarfs and a grand
ivory set of chess-men from China. The pawns were little green and
white men, with real swords and shields; the knights were on
horseback, the castles were on the backs of elephants. "Mrs.
Mango's own set at the Pineries was not so fine," Mr. Pestler
remarked. These chess-men were the delight of Georgy's life, who
printed his first letter in acknowledgement of this gift of his
godpapa. He sent over preserves and pickles, which latter the young
gentleman tried surreptitiously in the sideboard and half-killed
himself with eating. He thought it was a judgement upon him for
stealing, they were so hot. Emmy wrote a comical little account of
this mishap to the Major: it pleased him to think that her spirits
were rallying and that she could be merry sometimes now. He sent
over a pair of shawls, a white one for her and a black one with
palm-leaves for her mother, and a pair of red scarfs, as winter
wrappers, for old Mr. Sedley and George. The shawls were worth fifty
guineas apiece at the very least, as Mrs. Sedley knew. She wore
hers in state at church at Brompton, and was congratulated by her
female friends upon the splendid acquisition. Emmy's, too, became
prettily her modest black gown. "What a pity it is she won't think
of him!" Mrs. Sedley remarked to Mrs. Clapp and to all her friends
of Brompton. "Jos never sent us such presents, I am sure, and
grudges us everything. It is evident that the Major is over head
and ears in love with her; and yet, whenever I so much as hint it,
she turns red and begins to cry and goes and sits upstairs with her
miniature. I'm sick of that miniature. I wish we had never seen
those odious purse-proud Osbornes."

Amidst such humble scenes and associates George's early youth was
passed, and the boy grew up delicate, sensitive, imperious, woman-
bred--domineering the gentle mother whom he loved with passionate
affection. He ruled all the rest of the little world round about
him. As he grew, the elders were amazed at his haughty manner and
his constant likeness to his father. He asked questions about
everything, as inquiring youth will do. The profundity of his
remarks and interrogatories astonished his old grandfather, who
perfectly bored the club at the tavern with stories about the little
lad's learning and genius. He suffered his grandmother with a good-
humoured indifference. The small circle round about him believed
that the equal of the boy did not exist upon the earth. Georgy
inherited his father's pride, and perhaps thought they were not

When he grew to be about six years old, Dobbin began to write to him
very much. The Major wanted to hear that Georgy was going to a
school and hoped he would acquit himself with credit there: or
would he have a good tutor at home? It was time that he should begin
to learn; and his godfather and guardian hinted that he hoped to be
allowed to defray the charges of the boy's education, which would
fall heavily upon his mother's straitened income. The Major, in a
word, was always thinking about Amelia and her little boy, and by
orders to his agents kept the latter provided with picture-books,
paint-boxes, desks, and all conceivable implements of amusement and
instruction. Three days before George's sixth birthday a gentleman
in a gig, accompanied by a servant, drove up to Mr. Sedley's house
and asked to see Master George Osborne: it was Mr. Woolsey,
military tailor, of Conduit Street, who came at the Major's order to
measure the young gentleman for a suit of clothes. He had had the
honour of making for the Captain, the young gentleman's father.
Sometimes, too, and by the Major's desire no doubt, his sisters, the
Misses Dobbin, would call in the family carriage to take Amelia and
the little boy to drive if they were so inclined. The patronage and
kindness of these ladies was very uncomfortable to Amelia, but she
bore it meekly enough, for her nature was to yield; and, besides,
the carriage and its splendours gave little Georgy immense pleasure.
The ladies begged occasionally that the child might pass a day with
them, and he was always glad to go to that fine garden-house at
Denmark Hill, where they lived, and where there were such fine
grapes in the hot-houses and peaches on the walls.

One day they kindly came over to Amelia with news which they were
SURE would delight her--something VERY interesting about their dear

"What was it: was he coming home?" she asked with pleasure beaming
in her eyes.

"Oh, no--not the least--but they had very good reason to believe
that dear William was about to be married--and to a relation of a
very dear friend of Amelia's--to Miss Glorvina O'Dowd, Sir Michael
O'Dowd's sister, who had gone out to join Lady O'Dowd at Madras--a
very beautiful and accomplished girl, everybody said."

Amelia said "Oh!" Amelia was very VERY happy indeed. But she
supposed Glorvina could not be like her old acquaintance, who was
most kind--but--but she was very happy indeed. And by some impulse
of which I cannot explain the meaning, she took George in her arms
and kissed him with an extraordinary tenderness. Her eyes were
quite moist when she put the child down; and she scarcely spoke a
word during the whole of the drive--though she was so very happy


A Cynical Chapter

Our duty now takes us back for a brief space to some old Hampshire
acquaintances of ours, whose hopes respecting the disposal of their
rich kinswoman's property were so woefully disappointed. After
counting upon thirty thousand pounds from his sister, it was a heavy
blow. to Bute Crawley to receive but five; out of which sum, when
he had paid his own debts and those of Jim, his son at college, a
very small fragment remained to portion off his four plain
daughters. Mrs. Bute never knew, or at least never acknowledged,
how far her own tyrannous behaviour had tended to ruin her husband.
All that woman could do, she vowed and protested she had done. Was
it her fault if she did not possess those sycophantic arts which her
hypocritical nephew, Pitt Crawley, practised? She wished him all the
happiness which he merited out of his ill-gotten gains. "At least
the money will remain in the family," she said charitably. "Pitt
will never spend it, my dear, that is quite certain; for a greater
miser does not exist in England, and he is as odious, though in a
different way, as his spendthrift brother, the abandoned Rawdon."

So Mrs. Bute, after the first shock of rage and disappointment,
began to accommodate herself as best she could to her altered
fortunes and to save and retrench with all her might. She
instructed her daughters how to bear poverty cheerfully, and
invented a thousand notable methods to conceal or evade it. She
took them about to balls and public places in the neighbourhood,
with praiseworthy energy; nay, she entertained her friends in a
hospitable comfortable manner at the Rectory, and much more
frequently than before dear Miss Crawley's legacy had fallen in.
From her outward bearing nobody would have supposed that the family
had been disappointed in their expectations, or have guessed from
her frequent appearance in public how she pinched and starved at
home. Her girls had more milliners' furniture than they had ever
enjoyed before. They appeared perseveringly at the Winchester and
Southampton assemblies; they penetrated to Cowes for the race-balls
and regatta-gaieties there; and their carriage, with the horses
taken from the plough, was at work perpetually, until it began
almost to be believed that the four sisters had had fortunes left
them by their aunt, whose name the family never mentioned in public
but with the most tender gratitude and regard. I know no sort of
lying which is more frequent in Vanity Fair than this, and it may be
remarked how people who practise it take credit to themselves for
their hypocrisy, and fancy that they are exceedingly virtuous and
praiseworthy, because they are able to deceive the world with regard
to the extent of their means.

Mrs. Bute certainly thought herself one of the most virtuous women
in England, and the sight of her happy family was an edifying one to
strangers. They were so cheerful, so loving, so well-educated, so
simple! Martha painted flowers exquisitely and furnished half the
charity bazaars in the county. Emma was a regular County Bulbul,
and her verses in the Hampshire Telegraph were the glory of its
Poet's Corner. Fanny and Matilda sang duets together, Mamma playing
the piano, and the other two sisters sitting with their arms round
each other's waists and listening affectionately. Nobody saw the
poor girls drumming at the duets in private. No one saw Mamma
drilling them rigidly hour after hour. In a word, Mrs. Bute put a
good face against fortune and kept up appearances in the most
virtuous manner.

Everything that a good and respectable mother could do Mrs. Bute
did. She got over yachting men from Southampton, parsons from the
Cathedral Close at Winchester, and officers from the barracks there.
She tried to inveigle the young barristers at assizes and encouraged
Jim to bring home friends with whom he went out hunting with the H.
H. What will not a mother do for the benefit of her beloved ones?

Between such a woman and her brother-in-law, the odious Baronet at
the Hall, it is manifest that there could be very little in common.
The rupture between Bute and his brother Sir Pitt was complete;
indeed, between Sir Pitt and the whole county, to which the old man
was a scandal. His dislike for respectable society increased with
age, and the lodge-gates had not opened to a gentleman's carriage-
wheels since Pitt and Lady Jane came to pay their visit of duty
after their marriage.

That was an awful and unfortunate visit, never to be thought of by
the family without horror. Pitt begged his wife, with a ghastly
countenance, never to speak of it, and it was only through Mrs. Bute
herself, who still knew everything which took place at the Hall,
that the circumstances of Sir Pitt's reception of his son and
daughter-in-law were ever known at all.

As they drove up the avenue of the park in their neat and well-
appointed carriage, Pitt remarked with dismay and wrath great gaps
among the trees--his trees--which the old Baronet was felling
entirely without license. The park wore an aspect of utter
dreariness and ruin. The drives were ill kept, and the neat
carriage splashed and floundered in muddy pools along the road. The
great sweep in front of the terrace and entrance stair was black and
covered with mosses; the once trim flower-beds rank and weedy.
Shutters were up along almost the whole line of the house; the great
hall-door was unbarred after much ringing of the bell; an individual
in ribbons was seen flitting up the black oak stair, as Horrocks at
length admitted the heir of Queen's Crawley and his bride into the
halls of their fathers. He led the way into Sir Pitt's "Library,"
as it was called, the fumes of tobacco growing stronger as Pitt and
Lady Jane approached that apartment, "Sir Pitt ain't very well,"
Horrocks remarked apologetically and hinted that his master was
afflicted with lumbago.

The library looked out on the front walk and park. Sir Pitt had
opened one of the windows, and was bawling out thence to the
postilion and Pitt's servant, who seemed to be about to take the
baggage down.

"Don't move none of them trunks," he cried, pointing with a pipe
which he held in his hand. "It's only a morning visit, Tucker, you
fool. Lor, what cracks that off hoss has in his heels! Ain't there
no one at the King's Head to rub 'em a little? How do, Pitt? How do,
my dear? Come to see the old man, hay? 'Gad--you've a pretty face,
too. You ain't like that old horse-godmother, your mother. Come and
give old Pitt a kiss, like a good little gal."

The embrace disconcerted the daughter-in-law somewhat, as the
caresses of the old gentleman, unshorn and perfumed with tobacco,
might well do. But she remembered that her brother Southdown had
mustachios, and smoked cigars, and submitted to the Baronet with a
tolerable grace.

"Pitt has got vat," said the Baronet, after this mark of affection.
"Does he read ee very long zermons, my dear? Hundredth Psalm,
Evening Hymn, hay Pitt? Go and get a glass of Malmsey and a cake for
my Lady Jane, Horrocks, you great big booby, and don't stand
stearing there like a fat pig. I won't ask you to stop, my dear;
you'll find it too stoopid, and so should I too along a Pitt. I'm
an old man now, and like my own ways, and my pipe and backgammon of
a night."

"I can play at backgammon, sir," said Lady Jane, laughing. "I used
to play with Papa and Miss Crawley, didn't I, Mr. Crawley?"

"Lady Jane can play, sir, at the game to which you state that you
are so partial," Pitt said haughtily.

But she wawn't stop for all that. Naw, naw, goo back to Mudbury and
give Mrs. Rincer a benefit; or drive down to the Rectory and ask
Buty for a dinner. He'll be charmed to see you, you know; he's so
much obliged to you for gettin' the old woman's money. Ha, ha!
Some of it will do to patch up the Hall when I'm gone."

"I perceive, sir," said Pitt with a heightened voice, "that your
people will cut down the timber."

"Yees, yees, very fine weather, and seasonable for the time of
year," Sir Pitt answered, who had suddenly grown deaf. "But I'm
gittin' old, Pitt, now. Law bless you, you ain't far from fifty
yourself. But he wears well, my pretty Lady Jane, don't he? It's
all godliness, sobriety, and a moral life. Look at me, I'm not very
fur from fowr-score--he, he"; and he laughed, and took snuff, and
leered at her and pinched her hand.

Pitt once more brought the conversation back to the timber, but the
Baronet was deaf again in an instant.

"I'm gittin' very old, and have been cruel bad this year with the
lumbago. I shan't be here now for long; but I'm glad ee've come,
daughter-in-law. I like your face, Lady Jane: it's got none of the
damned high-boned Binkie look in it; and I'll give ee something
pretty, my dear, to go to Court in." And he shuffled across the room
to a cupboard, from which he took a little old case containing
jewels of some value. "Take that," said he, "my dear; it belonged
to my mother, and afterwards to the first Lady Binkie. Pretty
pearls--never gave 'em the ironmonger's daughter. No, no. Take 'em
and put 'em up quick," said he, thrusting the case into his
daughter's hand, and clapping the door of the cabinet to, as
Horrocks entered with a salver and refreshments.

"What have you a been and given Pitt's wife?" said the individual in
ribbons, when Pitt and Lady Jane had taken leave of the old
gentleman. It was Miss Horrocks, the butler's daughter--the cause
of the scandal throughout the county--the lady who reigned now
almost supreme at Queen's Crawley.

The rise and progress of those Ribbons had been marked with dismay
by the county and family. The Ribbons opened an account at the
Mudbury Branch Savings Bank; the Ribbons drove to church,
monopolising the pony-chaise, which was for the use of the servants
at the Hall. The domestics were dismissed at her pleasure. The
Scotch gardener, who still lingered on the premises, taking a pride
in his walls and hot-houses, and indeed making a pretty good
livelihood by the garden, which he farmed, and of which he sold the
produce at Southampton, found the Ribbons eating peaches on a
sunshiny morning at the south-wall, and had his ears boxed when he
remonstrated about this attack on his property. He and his Scotch
wife and his Scotch children, the only respectable inhabitants of
Queen's Crawley, were forced to migrate, with their goods and their
chattels, and left the stately comfortable gardens to go to waste,
and the flower-beds to run to seed. Poor Lady Crawley's rose-garden
became the dreariest wilderness. Only two or three domestics
shuddered in the bleak old servants' hall. The stables and offices
were vacant, and shut up, and half ruined. Sir Pitt lived in
private, and boozed nightly with Horrocks, his butler or house-
steward (as he now began to be called), and the abandoned Ribbons.
The times were very much changed since the period when she drove to
Mudbury in the spring-cart and called the small tradesmen "Sir." It
may have been shame, or it may have been dislike of his neighbours,
but the old Cynic of Queen's Crawley hardly issued from his park-
gates at all now. He quarrelled with his agents and screwed his
tenants by letter. His days were passed in conducting his own
correspondence; the lawyers and farm-bailiffs who had to do business
with him could not reach him but through the Ribbons, who received
them at the door of the housekeeper's room, which commanded the back
entrance by which they were admitted; and so the Baronet's daily
perplexities increased, and his embarrassments multiplied round him.

The horror of Pitt Crawley may be imagined, as these reports of his
father's dotage reached the most exemplary and correct of gentlemen.
He trembled daily lest he should hear that the Ribbons was
proclaimed his second legal mother-in-law. After that first and
last visit, his father's name was never mentioned in Pitt's polite
and genteel establishment. It was the skeleton in his house, and
all the family walked by it in terror and silence. The Countess
Southdown kept on dropping per coach at the lodge-gate the most
exciting tracts, tracts which ought to frighten the hair off your
head. Mrs. Bute at the parsonage nightly looked out to see if the

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