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The History of Pendennis
by William Makepeace Thackeray
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Jeames's attention had been gradually drawn from the moon in the heavens to this sublunary scene; and he was puzzled and alarmed by the appearance of the man in shiny boots. "A holtercation," he remarked afterwards, in the servants'-hall—a "holtercation with a feller in the streets is never no good; and indeed he was not hired for any such purpose." So, having surveyed the man for some time, who went on laughing, reeling, nodding his head with tipsy knowingness, Jeames looked out of the portico, and softly called "Pleaceman," and beckoned to that officer.

X marched up resolute, with one Berlin glove stuck in his belt-side, and Jeames simply pointed with his index finger to the individual who was laughing against the railings. Not one single word more than "Pleaceman" did he say, but stood there in the calm summer evening, pointing calmly: a grand sight.

X advanced to the individual and said, "Now, sir, will you have the kindness to move hon?"

The individual, who was in perfect good-humour, did not appear to bear one word which Policeman X uttered, but nodded and waggled his grinning head at Strong, until his hat almost fell from his head over the area railings.

"Now, sir, move on, do you hear?" cries X, in a much more peremptory tone, and he touched the stranger gently with one of the fingers enclosed in the gauntlets of the Berlin woof.

He of the many rings instantly started, or rather staggered back, into what is called an attitude of self-defence, and in that position began the operation which is entitled 'squaring' at Policeman X, and showed himself brave and warlike, if unsteady. "Hullo! keep your hands off a gentleman," he said, with an oath which need not be repeated.

"Move on out of this," said X, "and don't be a blocking up the pavement, staring into gentlemen's dining-rooms."

"Not stare—ho, ho,—not stare—that is a good one," replied the other with a satiric laugh and sneer—"Who's to prevent me from staring, looking at my friends, if I like? not you, old highlows."

"Friends! I dessay. Move on," answered X.

"If you touch me, I'll pitch into you, I will," roared the other. "I tell you I know 'em all—That's Sir Francis Clavering, Baronet, M.P.—I know him, and he knows me—and that's Strong, and that's the young chap that made the row at the ball. I say, Strong, Strong!"

"It's that d—— Altamont," cried Sir Francis within, with a start and a guilty look; and Strong also, with a look of annoyance, got up from the table, and ran out to the intruder.

A gentleman in a white waistcoat, running out from a dining-room bareheaded, a policeman, and an individual decently attired, engaged in almost fisticuffs on the pavement, were enough to make a crowd, even in that quiet neighbourhood, at half-past eight o'clock in the evening, and a small mob began to assemble before Sir Francis Clavering's door. "For God's sake, come in," Strong said, seizing his acquaintance's arm. "Send for a cab, James, if you please," he added in an under voice to that domestic; and carrying the excited gentleman out of the street, the outer door was closed upon him, and the small crowd began to move away.

Mr. Strong had intended to convey the stranger into Sir Francis's private sitting-room, where the hats of the male guests were awaiting them, and having there soothed his friend by bland conversation, to have carried him off as soon as the cab arrived—but the new-comer was in a great state of wrath at the indignity which had been put upon him; and when Strong would have led him into the second door, said in a tipsy voice, "That ain't the door—that's the dining-room door—where the drink's going on—and I'll go and have some, by Jove; I'll go and have some." At this audacity the butler stood aghast in the hall, and placed himself before the door: but it opened behind him, and the master of the house made his appearance, with anxious looks.

"I will have some,—by —— I will," the intruder was roaring out, as Sir Francis came forward. "Hullo! Clavering, I say I'm come to have some wine with you; hay! old boy—hay, old corkscrew? Get us a bottle of the yellow seal, you old thief—the very best—a hundred rupees a dozen, and no mistake."

The host reflected a moment over his company. There is only Welbore, Pendennis, and those two lads, he thought—and with a forced laugh and a piteous look, he said,—"Well, Altamont, come in. I am very glad to see you, I'm sure."

Colonel Altamont, for the intelligent reader has doubtless long ere this discovered in the stranger His Excellency the Ambassador of the Nawaub of Lucknow, reeled into the dining-room, with a triumphant look towards Jeames, the footman, which seemed to say, "There, sir, what do you think of that? Now, am I a gentleman or no?" and sank down into the first vacant chair. Sir Francis Clavering timidly stammered out the Colonel's name to his guest Mr. Welbore Welbore, and his Excellency began drinking wine forthwith and gazing round upon the company, now with the most wonderful frowns, and anon with the blandest smiles, and hiccupped remarks encomiastic of the drink which he was imbibing.

"Very singular man. Has resided long in a native court in India," Strong said, with great gravity, the Chevalier's presence of mind never deserting him—"in those Indian courts they get very singular habits."

"Very," said Major Pendennis, drily, and wondering what in goodness' name was the company into which he had got.

Mr. Foker was pleased with the new-comer. "It's the man who would sing the Malay song at the Back Kitchen," he whispered to Pen. "Try this pine, sir," he then said to Colonel Altamont, "it's uncommonly fine."

"Pines—I've seen 'em feed pigs on pines," said the Colonel.

"All the Nawaub of Lucknow's pigs are fed on pines," Strong whispered to Major Pendennis.

"Oh, of course," the Major answered. Sir Francis Clavering was, in the meanwhile, endeavouring to make an excuse to his brother-guest for the new-comer's condition, and muttered something regarding Altamont, that he was an extraordinary character, very eccentric, very—had Indian habits—didn't understand the rules of English society—to which old Welbore, a shrewd old gentleman, who drank his wine with great regularity, said, "that seemed pretty clear."

Then the Colonel, seeing Pen's honest face, regarded it for a while with as much steadiness as became his condition; and said, "I know you, too, young fellow. I remember you. Baymouth ball, by Jingo. Wanted to fight the Frenchman. I remember you;" and he laughed, and he squared with his fists, and seemed hugely amused in the drunken depths of his mind, as these recollections passed, or, rather, reeled across it.

"Mr. Pendennis, you remember Colonel Altamont, at Baymouth?" Strong said: upon which Pen, bowing rather stiffly, said, "he had the pleasure of remembering that circumstance perfectly."

"What's his name?" cried the Colonel. Strong named Mr. Pendennis again.

"Pendennis!—Pendennis be hanged!" Altamont roared out to the surprise of every one, and thumping with his fist on the table.

"My name is also Pendennis, sir," said the Major, whose dignity was exceedingly mortified by the evening's events—that he, Major Pendennis, should have been asked to such a party, and that a drunken man should have been introduced to it. "My name is Pendennis, and I will be obliged to you not to curse it too loudly."

The tipsy man turned round to look at him, and as he looked, it appeared as if Colonel Altamont suddenly grew sober. He put his hand across his forehead, and in doing so, displaced somewhat the black wig which he wore; and his eyes stared fiercely at the Major, who, in his turn, like a resolute old warrior as he was, looked at his opponent very keenly and steadily. At the end of the mutual inspection, Altamont began to button up his brass-buttoned coat, and rising up from his chair, suddenly, and to the company's astonishment, reeled towards the door, and issued from it, followed by Strong: all that the latter heard him utter was—"Captain Beak! Captain Beak, by jingo!"

There had not passed above a quarter of an hour from his strange appearance to his equally sudden departure. The two young men and the baronet's other guest wondered at the scene, and could find no explanation for it. Clavering seemed exceedingly pale and agitated, and turned with looks of almost terror towards Major Pendennis. The latter had been eyeing his host keenly for a moment or two. "Do you know him?" asked Sir Francis of the Major.

"I am sure I have seen the fellow," the Major replied, looking as if he, too, was puzzled. "Yes, I have it. He was a deserter from the Horse Artillery who got into the Nawaub's service. I remember his face quite well."

"Oh!" said Clavering, with a sigh which indicated immense relief of mind, and the Major looked at him with a twinkle of his sharp old eyes. The cab which Strong had desired to be called, drove away with the Chevalier and Colonel Altamont; coffee was brought to the remaining gentlemen, and they went upstairs to the ladies in the drawing-room, Foker declaring confidentially to Pen that "this was the rummest go he ever saw," which decision Pen said, laughing, "Showed great discrimination on Mr. Foker's part."

Then, according to her promise, Miss Amory made music for the young men. Foker was enraptured with her performance, and kindly joined in the airs which she sang, when he happened to be acquainted with them. Pen affected to talk aside with others of the party, but Blanche brought him quickly to the piano, by singing some of his own words, those which we have given in a previous number, indeed, and which the Sylphide had herself, she said, set to music. I don't know whether the air was hers, or how much of it was arranged for her by Signor Twankidillo, from whom she took lessons: but good or bad, original or otherwise, it delighted Mr. Pen, who remained by her side, and turned the leaves now for her most assiduously—"Gad! how I wish I could write verses like you, Pen," Foker sighed afterwards to his companion. "If I could do 'em, wouldn't I, that's all? But I never was a dab at writing, you see, and I'm sorry I was so idle when I was at school."

No mention was made before the ladies of the curious little scene which had been transacted below-stairs; although Pen was just on the point of describing it to Miss Amory, when that young lady inquired for Captain Strong, who she wished should join her in a duet. But chancing to look up towards Sir Francis Clavering, Arthur saw a peculiar expression of alarm in the baronet's ordinarily vacuous face, and discreetly held his tongue. It was rather a dull evening. Welbore went to sleep as he always did at music and after dinner: nor did Major Pendennis entertain the ladies with copious anecdotes and endless little scandalous stories, as his wont was, but sate silent for the most part, and appeared to be listening to the music, and watching the fair young performer.

The hour of departure having arrived the Major rose, regretting that so delightful an evening should have passed away so quickly, and addressed a particularly fine compliment to Miss Amory upon her splendid talents as a singer. "Your daughter, Lady Clavering," he said to that lady, "is a perfect nightingale—a perfect nightingale, begad! I have scarcely ever heard anything equal to her, and her pronunciation of every language—begad, of every language—seems to me to be perfect; and the best houses in London must open before a young lady who has such talents, and, allow an old fellow to say, Miss Amory, such a face."

Blanche was as much astonished by these compliments as Pen was, to whom his uncle, a little time since, had been speaking in very disparaging terms of the Sylph. The Major and the two young men walked home together, after Mr. Foker had placed his mother in her carriage, and procured a light for an enormous cigar.

The young gentleman's company or his tobacco did not appear to be agreeable to Major Pendennis, who eyed him askance several times, and with a look which plainly indicated that he wished Mr. Foker would take his leave; but Foker hung on resolutely to the uncle and nephew, even until they came to the former's door in Bury Street, where the Major wished the lads good night.

"And I say, Pen," he said in a confidential whisper, calling his nephew back, "mind you make a point of calling in Grosvenor Place to-morrow. They've been uncommonly civil; mons'ously civil and kind."

Pen promised and wondered, and the Major's door having been closed upon him by Morgan, Foker took Pen's arm, and walked with him for some time silently puffing his cigar. At last, when they had reached Charing Cross on Arthur's way home to the Temple, Harry Foker relieved himself, and broke out with that eulogium upon poetry, and those regrets regarding a misspent youth which have just been mentioned. And all the way along the Strand, and up to the door of Pen's very staircase, in Lamb Court, Temple, young Harry Foker did not cease to speak about singing and Blanche Amory.



CHAPTER XL. Relates to Mr. Harry Foker's Affairs

Since that fatal but delightful night in Grosvenor Place, Mr. Harry Foker's heart had been in such a state of agitation as you would hardly have thought so great a philosopher could endure. When we remember what good advice he had given to Pen in former days, how an early wisdom and knowledge of the world had manifested itself in this gifted youth; how a constant course of self-indulgence, such as becomes a gentleman of his means and expectations, ought by right to have increased his cynicism, and made him, with every succeeding day of his life, care less and less for every individual in the world, with the single exception of Mr. Harry Foker, one may wonder that he should fall into the mishap to which most of us are subject once or twice in our lives, and disquiet his great mind about a woman. But Foker, though early wise, was still a man. He could no more escape the common lot than Achilles, or Ajax, or Lord Nelson, or Adam our first father, and now, his time being come, young Harry became a victim to Love, the All-conqueror.

When he went to the Back Kitchen that night after quitting Arthur Pendennis at his staircase-door in Lamb Court, the gin-twist and devilled turkey had no charms for him, the jokes of his companions fell flatly on his ear; and when Mr. Hodgen, the singer of 'The Body Snatcher,' had a new chant even more dreadful and humorous than that famous composition, Foker, although he appeared his friend, and said "Bravo, Hodgen," as common politeness and his position as one of the chiefs of the Back Kitchen bound him to do, yet never distinctly heard one word of the song, which under its title of 'The Cat in the Cupboard,' Hodgen has since rendered so famous. Late and very tired, he slipped into his private apartments at home and sought the downy pillow, but his slumbers were disturbed by the fever of his soul, and the very instant that he woke from his agitated sleep, the image of Miss Amory presented itself to him, and said, "Here I am, I am your princess and beauty, you have discovered me, and shall care for nothing else hereafter."

Heavens, how stale and distasteful his former pursuits and friendships appeared to him! He had not been, up to the present time, much accustomed to the society of females of his own rank in life. When he spoke of such, he called them "modest women." That virtue which, let us hope, they possessed, had not hitherto compensated to Mr. Foker for the absence of more lively qualities which most of his own relatives did not enjoy, and which he found in Mesdemoiselles, the ladies of the theatre. His mother, though good and tender, did not amuse her boy; his cousins, the daughters of his maternal uncle, the respectable Earl of Rosherville, wearied him beyond measure. One was blue, and a geologist; one was a horsewoman, and smoked cigars; one was exceedingly Low Church, and had the most heterodox views on religious matters; at least, so the other said, who was herself of the very Highest Church faction, and made the cupboard in her room into an oratory, and fasted on every Friday in the year. Their paternal house of Drummington, Foker could very seldom be got to visit. He swore he had rather go on the treadmill than stay there. He was not much beloved by the inhabitants. Lord Erith, Lord Rosherville's heir, considered his cousin a low person, of deplorably vulgar habits and manners; while Foker, and with equal reason, voted Erith a prig and a dullard, the nightcap of the House of Commons, the Speaker's opprobrium, the dreariest of philanthropic spouters. Nor could George Robert, Earl of Gravesend and Rosherville, ever forget that on one evening when he condescended to play at billiards with his nephew, that young gentleman poked his lordship in the side with his cue, and said, "Well, old cock, I've seen many a bad stroke in my life, but I never saw such a bad one as that there." He played the game out with angelic sweetness of temper, for Harry was his guest as well as his nephew; but he was nearly having a fit in the night; and he kept to his own rooms until young Harry quitted Drummington on his return to Oxbridge, where the interesting youth was finishing his education at the time when the occurrence took place. It was an awful blow to the venerable earl; the circumstance was never alluded to in the family; he shunned Foker whenever he came to see them in London or in the country, and could hardly be brought to gasp out a "How d'ye do?" to the young blasphemer. But he would not break his sister Agnes's heart, by banishing Harry from the family altogether; nor, indeed, could he afford to break with Mr. Foker, senior, between whom and his lordship there had been many private transactions, producing an exchange of bank-cheques from Mr. Foker, and autographs from the earl himself, with the letters I O U written over his illustrious signature.

Besides the four daughters of Lord Gravesend whose various qualities have been enumerated in the former paragraph, his lordship was blessed with a fifth girl, the Lady Ana Milton, who, from her earliest years and nursery, had been destined to a peculiar position in life. It was ordained between her parents and her aunt, that when Mr Harry Foker attained a proper age, Lady Ann should become his wife. The idea had been familiar to her mind when she yet wore pinafores, and when Harry the dirtiest of little boys, used to come back with black eyes from school to Drummington, or to his father's house of Logwood, where Lady Ann lived, much with her aunt. Both of the young people coincided with the arrangement proposed by the elders, without any protests or difficulty. It no more entered Lady Ann's mind to question the order of her father, than it would have entered Esther's to dispute the commands of Ahasuerus. The heir-apparent of the house of Foker was also obedient, for when the old gentleman said, "Harry, your uncle and I have agreed that when you're of a proper age, you'll marry Lady Ann. She won't have any money, but she's good blood, and a good one to look at, and I shall make you comfortable. If you refuse, you'll have your mother's jointure, and two hundred a year during my life"—Harry, who knew that his sire, though a man of few words, was yet implicitly to be trusted, acquiesced at once in the parental decree, and said, "Well, sir, if Ann's agreeable, I say ditto. She's not a bad-looking girl."

"And she has the best blood in England, sir. Your mother's blood, your own blood, sir," said the Brewer. "There's nothing like it, sir."

"Well, sir, as you like it," Harry replied. "When you want me, please ring the bell. Only there's no hurry, and I hope you'll give us a long day. I should like to have my fling out before I marry."

"Fling away, Harry," answered the benevolent father. "Nobody prevents you, do they?" And so very little more was said upon this subject, and Mr. Harry pursued those amusements in life which suited him best; and hung up a little picture of his cousin in his sitting-room, amidst the French prints, the favourite actresses and dancers, the racing and coaching works of art, which suited his taste and formed his gallery. It was an insignificant little picture, representing a simple round face with ringlets; and it made, as it must be confessed, a very poor figure by the side of Mademoiselle Petitot, dancing over a rainbow, or Mademoiselle Redowa, grinning in red boots and a lancer's cap.

Being engaged and disposed of, Lady Ann Milton did not go out so much in the world as her sisters: and often stayed at home in London at the parental house in Gaunt Square, when her mamma with the other ladies went abroad. They talked and they danced with one man after another, and the men came and went, and the stories about them were various. But there was only this one story about Ann: she was engaged to Harry Foker: she never was to think about anybody else. It was not a very amusing story.

Well, the instant Foker awoke on the day after Lady Clavering's dinner, there was Blanche's image glaring upon him with its clear grey eyes, and winning smile. There was her tune ringing in his ears, "Yet round about the spot, ofttimes I hover, ofttimes I hover," which poor Foker began piteously to hum, as he sat up in his bed under the crimson silken coverlet. Opposite him was a French Print, of a Turkish lady and her Greek lover, surprised by a venerable Ottoman, the lady's husband; on the other wall was a French print of a gentleman and lady, riding and kissing each other at full gallop; all round the chaste bedroom were more French prints, either portraits of gauzy nymphs of the Opera, or lovely illustrations of the novels; or mayhap, an English chef-d'oeuvre or two, in which Miss Calverley of T. R. E. O. would be represented in tight pantaloons in her favourite page part; or Miss Rougemont as Venus; their value enhanced by the signatures of these ladies, Maria Calverley, or Frederica Rougemont, inscribed underneath the prints in an exquisite facsimile. Such were the pictures in which honest Harry delighted. He was no worse than many of his neighbours; he was an idle jovial kindly fast man about town; and if his rooms were rather profusely decorated with works of French art, so that simple Lady Agnes, his mamma on entering the apartments where her darling sate enveloped in fragrant clouds of Latakia, was often bewildered by the novelties which she beheld there, why, it must be remembered, that he was richer than most young men, and could better afford to gratify his taste.

A letter from Miss Calverley written in a very degage style of spelling and handwriting, scrawling freely over the filagree paper, and commencing by calling Mr. Harry, her dear Hokey-pokey-fokey, lay on his bed table by his side, amidst keys, sovereigns, cigar-cases, and a bit of verbena, which Miss Amory had given him, and reminding him of the arrival of the day when he was 'to stand that dinner at the Elefant and Castle, at Richmond, which he had promised;' a card for a private box at Miss Rougemont's approaching benefit, a bundle of tickets for 'Ben Budgeon's night, the North Lancashire Pippin, at Martin Faunce's, the Three-cornered Hat, in St. Martin's Lane; where Conkey Sam, Dick the Nailor, and Deadman (the Worcestershire Nobber), would put on the gloves, and the lovers of the good old British sport were invited to attend'—these and sundry other memoirs of Mr. Foker's pursuits and pleasure lay on the table by his side when he woke.

Ah! how faint all these pleasures seemed now. What did he care for Conkey Sam or the Worcestershire Nobber? What for the French prints ogling him from all sides of the room; those regular stunning slap-up out-and-outers? And Calverley spelling bad, and calling him Hokey-fokey, confound her impudence! The idea of being engaged to a dinner at the Elephant and Castle at Richmond with that old woman (who was seven-and-thirty years old, if she was a day) filled his mind with dreary disgust now, instead of that pleasure which he had only yesterday expected to find from the entertainment.

When his fond mamma beheld her boy that morning, she remarked on the pallor of his cheek, and the general gloom of his aspect. "Why do you go on playing billiards at that wicked Spratt's?" Lady Agnes asked. "My dearest child, those billiards will kill you, I'm sure they will."

"It isn't the billiards," Harry said, gloomily.

"Then it's the dreadful Back Kitchen," said the Lady Agnes. "I've often thought, d'you know, Harry, of writing to the landlady, and begging that she would have the kindness to put only very little wine in the negus which you take, and see that you have your shawl on before you get into your brougham."

"Do, ma'am. Mrs Cutts is a most kind motley woman," Harry said. "But it isn't the Back Kitchen, neither," he added, with a ghastly sigh.

As Lady Agnes never denied her son anything, and fell into all his ways with the fondest acquiescence, she was rewarded by a perfect confidence on young Harry's part, who never thought to disguise from her a knowledge of the haunts which he frequented; and, on the contrary, brought her home choice anecdotes from the clubs and billiard-rooms, which the simple lady relished, if she did not understand. "My son goes to Spratt's," she would say to her confidential friends. "All the young men go to Spratt's after their balls. It is de rigueur, my dear; and they play billiards as they used to play macao and hazard in Mr. Fox's time. Yes, my dear father often told me that they sate up always until nine o'clock the next morning with Mr. Fox at Brookes's, whom I remember at Drnmmington, when I was a little girl, in a buff waistcoat and black satin small-clothes. My brother Erith never played as a young man, nor sate up late—he had no health for it; but my boy must do as everybody does, you know. Yes, and then he often goes to a place called the Back Kitchen, frequented by all the wits and authors, you know, whom one does not see in society, but whom it is a great privilege and pleasure for Harry to meet, and there he hears the questions of the day discussed; and my dear father often said that it was our duty to encourage literature, and he had hoped to see the late Dr. Johnson at Drummington, only Dr. Johnson died. Yes, and Mr. Sheridan came over, and drank a great deal of wine,—everybody drank a great deal of wine in those days,—and papa's wine-merchant's bill was ten times as much as Erith's is, who gets it as he wants it from Fortnum and Mason's and doesn't keep any stock at all."

"That was an uncommon good dinner we had yesterday, ma'am," the artful Harry broke out. "Their clear soup's better than ours. Moufflet will put too much taragon into everything. The supreme de volaille was very good—uncommon, and the sweets were better than Moufflet's sweets. Did you taste the plombiere, ma'am, and the maraschino jelly? Stunningly good that maraschino jelly!"

Lady Agnes expressed her agreement in these, as in almost all other sentiments of her son, who continued the artful conversation, saying—

"Very handsome house that of the Claverings. Furniture, I should say, got up regardless of expense. Magnificent display of plate, ma'am." The lady assented to all these propositions.

"Very nice people the Claverings."

"H'm!" said Lady Agnes.

"I know what you mean. Lady C. ain't distangy exactly, but she is very good-natured."

"Oh, very," mamma said, who was herself one of the most good-natured of women.

"And Sir Francis, he don't talk much before ladies; but after dinner he comes out uncommon strong, ma'am—a highly agreeable, well-informed man. When will you ask them to dinner? Look out for an early day, ma'am;" and looking into Lady Agnes's pocket-book, he chose a day only a fortnight hence (an age that fortnight seemed to the young gentleman), when the Claverings were to be invited to Grosvenor-street.

The obedient Lady Agnes wrote the required invitation. She was accustomed to do so without consulting her husband, who had his own society and habits, and who left his wife to see her own friends alone. Harry looked at the card; but there was an omission in the invitation which did not please him.

"You have not asked Miss Whatdyecallem—Miss Emery, Lady Clavering's daughter."

"Oh, that little creature!" Lady Agnes cried. "No! I think not, Harry."

"We must ask Miss Amory," Foker said. "I—I want to ask Pendennis; and—and he's very sweet upon her. Don't you think she sings very well, ma'am?"

"I thought her rather forward, and didn't listen to her singing. She only sang at you and Mr. Pendennis, it seemed to me. But I will ask her if you wish, Harry," and so Miss Amory's name was written on the card with her mother's.

This piece of diplomacy being triumphantly executed Harry embraced his fond parent with the utmost affection, and retired to his own apartments where he stretched himself on his ottoman, and lay brooding silently, sighing for the day which was to bring the fair Miss Amory under his paternal roof, and devising a hundred wild schemes for meeting her.

On his return from making the grand tour, Mr. Foker, Junior, had brought with him a polyglot valet, who took the place of Stoopid, and condescended to wait at dinner, attired in shirt fronts of worked muslin, with many gold studs and chains, upon his master and the elders of the family. This man, who was of no particular country, and spoke all languages indifferently ill, made himself useful to Mr. Harry in a variety of ways,—read all the artless youth's correspondence, knew his favourite haunts and the addresses of his acquaintance, and officiated at the private dinners which the young gentleman gave. As Harry lay upon his sofa after his interview with his mamma, robed in a wonderful dressing-gown, and puffing his pipe in gloomy silence, Anatole, too, must have remarked that something affected his master's spirits; though he did not betray any ill-bred sympathy with Harry's agitation of mind. When Harry began to dress himself in his out-of-door morning costume, he was very hard indeed to please, and particularly severe and snappish about his toilet: he tried, and cursed, pantaloons of many different stripes, checks, and colours: all the boots were villainously varnished; the shirts too "loud" in pattern. He scented his linen and person with peculiar richness this day; and what must have been the valet's astonishment, when, after some blushing and hesitation on Harry's part, the young gentleman asked, "I say, Anatole, when I engaged you, didn't you—hem—didn't you say that you could dress—hem—dress hair?"

The valet said, "Yes, he could."

"Cherchy alors une paire de tongs,—et—curly moi un peu," Mr. Foker said, in an easy manner; and the valet, wondering whether his master was in love or was going masquerading, went in search of the articles,—first from the old butler who waited upon Mr. Foker, senior, on whose bald pate the tongs would have scarcely found a hundred hairs to seize, and finally of the lady who had the charge of the meek auburn fronts of the Lady Agnes. And the tongs being got, Monsieur Anatole twisted his young master's locks until he had made Harry's head as curly as a negro's; after which the youth dressed himself with the utmost care and splendour, and proceeded to sally out.

"At what dime sall I order de drag, sir, to be to Miss Calverley's door, sir?" the attendant whispered as his master was going forth.

"Confound her!—Put the dinner off—I can't go!" said Foker. "No, hang it—I must go. Poyntz and Rougemont, and ever so many more are coming. The drag at Pelham Corner at six o'clock, Anatole."

The drag was not one of Mr. Foker's own equipages, but was hired from a livery-stable for festive purposes; Foker, however, put his own carriage into requisition that morning, and for what purpose does the kind reader suppose? Why, to drive down to Lamb Court, Temple, taking Grosvenor Place by the way (which lies in the exact direction of the Temple from Grosvenor Street, as everybody knows), where he just had the pleasure of peeping upwards at Miss Amory's pink window-curtains, having achieved which satisfactory feat, he drove off to Pen's chambers. Why did he want to see his dear friend Pen so much? Why did he yearn and long after him; and did it seem necessary to Foker's very existence that he should see Pen that morning, having parted with him in perfect health on the night previous? Pen had lived two years in London, and Foker had not paid half a dozen visits to his chambers. What sent him thither now in such a hurry?

What?—If any young ladies read this page, I have only to inform them that, when the same mishap befalls them, which now had for more than twelve hours befallen Harry Foker, people will grow interesting to them for whom they did not care sixpence on the day before; as on the other hand persons of whom they fancied themselves fond will be found to have become insipid and disagreeable. Then you dearest Eliza, or Maria of the other day, to whom you wrote letters and sent locks of hair yards long, will on a sudden be as indifferent to you as your stupidest relation whilst, on the contrary, about his relations you will begin to feel such a warm interest! such a loving desire to ingratiate yourself with his mamma; such a liking for that dear kind old man his father! If He is in the habit of visiting at any house, what advances you will make in order to visit there too. If He has a married sister you will like to spend long mornings with her. You will fatigue your servant by sending notes to her, for which there will be the most pressing occasion, twice or thrice in a day. You will cry if your mamma objects to your going too often to see His family. The only one of them you will dislike, is perhaps his younger brother, who is at home for the holidays, and who will persist in staying in the room when you come to see your dear new-found friend, his darling second sister. Something like this will happen to you, young ladies, or, at any rate, let us hope it may. Yes, you must go through the hot fits and the cold fits of that pretty fever. Your mothers, if they would acknowledge it, have passed through it before you were born, your dear papa being the object of the passion, of course,—who could it be but he? And as you suffer it, so will your brothers, in their way,—and after their kind. More selfish than you: more eager and headstrong than you: they will rush on their destiny when the doomed charmer makes her appearance. Or if they don't, and you don't, Heaven help you! As the gambler said of his dice, to love and win is the best thing, to love and lose is the next best. You don't die of the complaint: or very few do. The generous wounded heart suffers and survives it. And he is not a man, or she a woman, who is not conquered by it, or who does not conquer it in his time.——Now, then, if you ask why Henry Foker, Esquire, was in such a hurry to see Arthur Pendennis, and felt such a sudden value and esteem for him, there is no difficulty in saying it was because Pen had become really valuable in Mr. Foker's eyes: because if Pen was not the rose, he yet had been near that fragrant flower of love. Was not he in the habit of going to her house in London? Did he not live near her in the country?—know all about the enchantress? What, I wonder, would Lady Ann Milton, Mr. Foker's cousin and pretendue, have said, if her ladyship had known all that was going on in the bosom of that funny little gentleman?

Alas! when Foker reached Lamb Court, leaving his carriage for the admiration of the little clerks who were lounging in the archway that leads thence into Flag Court which leads into Upper Temple Lane, Warrington was in the chambers but Pen was absent. Pen was gone to the printing-office to see his proofs. "Would Foker have a pipe and should the laundress go to the Cock and get him some beer?"—Warrington asked, remarking with a pleased surprise the splendid toilet of this scented and shiny-booted young aristocrat; but Foker had not the slightest wish for beer or tobacco: he had very important business: he rushed away to the Pall Mall Gazette office, still bent upon finding Pen. Pen had quitted that pace. Foker wanted him that they might go together to call upon Lady Clavering. Foker went away disconsolate, and whiled away an hour or two vaguely at clubs: and when it was time to pay a visit, he thought it would be but decent and polite to drive to Grosvenor Place and leave a card upon Lady Clavering. He had not the courage to ask to see her when the door was opened, he only delivered two cards, with Mr. Henry Foker engraved upon them, to Jeames, in a speechless agony. Jeames received the tickets bowing his powdered head. The varnished doors closed upon him. The beloved object was as far as ever from him, though so near. He thought he heard the tones of a piano and of a syren singing, coming from the drawing-room and sweeping over the balcony-shrubbery of geraniums. He would have liked to stop and listen, but it might not be. "Drive to Tattersall's," he said to the groom, in a voice smothered with emotion,—"And bring my pony round," he added, as the man drove rapidly away.

As good luck would have it, that splendid barouche of Lady Clavering's, which has been inadequately described in a former chapter, drove up to her ladyship's door just as Foker mounted the pony which was in waiting for him. He bestrode the fiery animal, and dodged about the arch of the Green Park, keeping the carriage well in view, until he saw Lady Clavering enter, and with her—whose could be that angel form, but the enchantress's, clad in a sort of gossamer, with a pink bonnet and a light-blue parasol,—but Miss Amory?

The carriage took its fair owners to Madame Rigodon's cap and lace shop, to Mrs Wolsey's Berlin worsted shop,—who knows to what other resorts of female commerce? Then it went and took ices at Hunter's, for Lady Clavering was somewhat florid in her tastes and amusements, and not only liked to go abroad in the most showy carriage in London, but that the public should see her in it too. And so, in a white bonnet with a yellow feather, she ate a large pink ice in the sunshine before Hunter's door, till Foker on his pony, and the red jacket who accompanied him, were almost tired of dodging.

Then at last she made her way into the Park, and the rapid Foker made his dash forward. What to do? Just to get a nod of recognition from Miss Amory and her mother; to cross them a half-dozen times in the drive; to watch and ogle them from the other side of the ditch, where the horsemen assemble when the band plays in Kensington Gardens. What is the use of looking at a woman in a pink bonnet across a ditch? What is the earthly good to be got out of a nod of the head? Strange that men will be contented with such pleasures, or if not contented, at least that they will be so eager in seeking them. Not one word did Harry, he so fluent of conversation ordinarily, change with his charmer on that day. Mutely he beheld her return to her carriage, and drive away among rather ironical salutes from the young men in the Park. One said that the Indian widow was making the paternal rupees spin rapidly; another said that she ought to have burned herself alive, and left the money to her daughter. This one asked who Clavering was?—and old Tom Eales, who knew everybody, and never missed a day in the Park on his grey cob, kindly said that Clavering had come into an estate over head and heels in mortgage: that there were dev'lish ugly stories about him when he was a young man, and that it was reported of him that he had a share in a gambling-house, and had certainly shown the white feather in his regiment. "He plays still; he is in a hell every night almost," Mr. Eales added.

"I should think so, since his marriage," said a wag.

"He gives devilish good dinners," said Foker, striking up for the honour of his host of yesterday.

"I daresay, and I daresay he doesn't ask Eales," the wag said. "I say, Eales, do you dine at Clavering's,—at the Begum's?"

"I dine there?" said Mr. Eales, who would have dined with Beelzebub if sure of a good cook, and when he came away, would have painted his host blacker than fate had made him.

"You might, you know, although you do abuse him so," continued the wag. "They say it's very pleasant. Clavering goes to sleep after dinner; the Begum gets tipsy with cherry-brandy, and the young lady sings songs to the young gentlemen. She sings well, don't she, Fo?"

"Slap up," said Fo. "I tell you what, Poyntz, she sings like a whatdyecallum—you know what I mean—like a mermaid, you know, but that's not their name."

"I never heard a mermaid sing," Mr. Poyntz, the wag, replied. "Whoever heard a mermaid? Eales, you are an old fellow, did you?"

"Don't make a lark of me, hang it, Poyntz," said Foker, turning red, and with tears almost in his eyes, "you know what I mean: it's those what's-his-names—in Homer, you know. I never said I was a good scholar."

"And nobody ever said it of you, my boy," Mr. Poyntz remarked, and Foker striking spurs into his pony, cantered away down Rotten Row, his mind agitated with various emotions, ambitions, mortifications. He was sorry that he had not been good at his books in early life—that he might have cut out all those chaps who were about her, and who talked the languages, and wrote poetry, and painted pictures in her album, and—and that—"What am I," thought little Foker, "compared to her? She's all soul, she is, and can write poetry or compose music, as easy as I could drink a glass of beer. Beer?—damme, that's all I'm fit for, is beer. I am a poor, ignorant little beggar, good for nothing but Foker's Entire. I misspent my youth, and used to get the chaps to do my exercises. And what's the consequences now? Oh, Harry Foker, what a confounded little fool you have been!"

As he made this dreary soliloquy, he had cantered out of Rotten Row into the Park, and there was on the point of riding down a large old roomy family carriage, of which he took no heed, when a cheery voice cried out, "Harry, Harry!" and looking up, he beheld his aunt, the Lady Rosherville, and two of her daughters, of whom the one who spoke was Harry's betrothed, the Lady Ann.

He started back with a pale, scared look, as a truth about which he had not thought during the whole day, came across him. There was his fate, there, in the back seat of that carriage.

"What is the matter, Harry? why are you so pale? You have been raking and smoking too much, you wicked boy," said Lady Ann.

Foker said, "How do, aunt," "How do, Ann," in a perturbed manner—muttered something about a pressing engagement,—indeed he saw by the Park clock that he must have been keeping his party in the drag waiting for nearly an hour—and waved a good-bye. The little man and the little pony were out of sight in an instant—the great carriage rolled away. Nobody inside was very much interested about his coming or going; the Countess being occupied with her spaniel, the Lady Lucy's thoughts and eyes being turned upon a volume of sermons, and those of the Lady Ann upon a new novel, which the sisters had just procured from the library.



CHAPTER XLI. Carries the Reader both to Richmond and Greenwich

Poor Foker found the dinner at Richmond to be the most dreary entertainment upon which ever mortal man wasted his guineas. "I wonder how the deuce I could ever have liked these people," he thought in his own mind. "Why, I can see the crow's-feet under Rougemont's eyes, and the paint on her cheeks is laid on as thick as Clown's in a pantomime! The way in which that Calverley talks slang, is quite disgusting. I hate chaff in a woman. And old Colchicum! that old Col, coming down here in his brougham, with his coronet on it, and sitting bodkin between Mademoiselle Coralie and her mother! It's too bad. An English peer, and a horse-rider of Franconi's!—It won't do; by Jove, it won't do. I ain't proud; but it will not do!"

"Twopence-halfpenny for your thoughts, Fokey!" cried out Miss Rougemont, taking her cigar from her truly vermilion lips, as she beheld the young fellow lost in thought, seated at the head of his table, amidst melting ices, and cut pineapples, and bottles full and empty, and cigar-ashes scattered on fruit, and the ruins of a dessert which had no pleasure for him.

"Does Foker ever think?" drawled out Mr. Poyntz. "Foker, here is a considerable sum of money offered by a fair capitalist at this end of the table for the present emanations of your valuable and acute intellect, old boy!"

"What the deuce is that Poyntz a talking about?" Miss Calverley asked of her neighbour. "I hate him. He's a drawlin', sneerin' beast."

"What a droll of a little man is that little Fokare, my lor'," Mademoiselle Coralie said, in her own language, and with the rich twang of that sunny Gascony in which her swarthy cheeks and bright black eyes had got their fire. "What a droll of a man! He does not look to have twenty years."

"I wish I were of his age," said the venerable Colchicum, with a sigh, as he inclined his purple face towards a large goblet of claret.

"C'te Jeunesse. Peuh! je m'en fiche" said Madame Brack, Coralie's mamma, taking a great pinch out of Lord Colchicum's delicate gold snuff-box. "Je m'aime que les hommes faits, moi. Comme milor. Coralie! n'est-ce pas que tu n'aimes que les hommes faits, ma bichette?"

My lord said, with a grin, "You flatter me, Madame Brack."

"Taisez-vous, Maman, vous n'etes qu'une bete," Coralie cried, with a shrug of her robust shoulders; upon which, my lord said that she did not flatter at any rate; and pocketed his snuff-box, not desirous that Madame Brack's dubious fingers should plunge too frequently into his Mackabaw.

There is no need to give a prolonged detail of the animated conversation which ensued during the rest of the banquet; a conversation which would not much edify the reader. And it is scarcely necessary to say, that all ladies of the corps de dance are not like Miss Calverley, any more than that all peers resemble that illustrious member of their order, the late lamented Viscount Colchicum. But there have been such in our memories who have loved the society of riotous youth better than the company of men of their own age and rank, and have given the young ones the precious benefit of their experience and example; and there have been very respectable men too who have not objected so much to the kind of entertainment as to the publicity of it. I am sure, for instance, that our friend Major Pendennis would have made no sort of objection to join the a party of pleasure, provided that it were en petit comite, and that such men as my Lord Steyne and my Lord Colchicum were of the society. "Give the young men their pleasures," this worthy guardian said to Pen more than once. "I'm not one of your strait-laced moralists, but an old man of the world, begad; and I know that as long as it lasts young men will be young men." And there were some young men to whom this estimable philosopher accorded about seventy years as the proper period for sowing their wild oats: but they were men of fashion.

Mr. Foker drove his lovely guests home to Brompton in the drag that night; but he was quite thoughtful and gloomy during the whole of the little journey from Richmond; neither listening to the jokes of the friends behind him and on the box by his side nor enlivening them as was his wont, by his own facetious sallies. And when the ladies whom he had conveyed alighted at the door of their house, and asked their accomplished coachman whether he would not step in and take something to drink, he declined with so melancholy an air, that they supposed that the Governor and he had had a difference or that some calamity had befallen him; and he did not tell these people what the cause of his grief was, but left Mesdames Rougemont and Calverley, unheeding the cries of the latter, who hung over her balcony like Jezebel, and called out to him to ask him to give another party soon.

He sent the drag home under the guidance of one of the grooms, and went on foot himself; his hands in his pockets, plunged in thought. The stars and moon shining tranquilly overhead, looked down upon Mr. Foker that night, as he in his turn sentimentally regarded them. And he went and gazed upwards at the house in Grosvenor Place, and at the windows which he supposed to be those of the beloved object; and he moaned and he sighed in a way piteous and surprising to witness, which Policeman X did, who informed Sir Francis Clavering's people, as they took the refreshment of beer on the coach-box at the neighbouring public-house, after bringing home their lady from the French play, that there had been another chap hanging about the premises that evening—a little chap, dressed like a swell.

And now with that perspicuity and ingenuity and enterprise which only belongs to a certain passion, Mr. Foker began to dodge Miss Amory through London, and to appear wherever he could meet her. If Lady Clavering went to the French play, where her ladyship had a box, Mr. Foker, whose knowledge of the language, as we have heard, was not conspicuous, appeared in a stall. He found out where her engagements were (it is possible that Anatole, his man, was acquainted with Sir Francis Clavering's gentleman, and so got a sight of her ladyship's engagement-book), and at many of these evening parties Mr. Foker made his appearance—to the surprise of the world, and of his mother especially, whom he ordered to apply for cards to these parties, for which until now he had shown a supreme contempt. He told the pleased and unsuspicious lady that he went to parties because it was right for him to see the world: he told her that he went to the French play because he wanted to perfect himself in the language, and there was no such good lesson as a comedy or vaudeville,—and when one night the astonished Lady Agnes saw him stand up and dance, and complimented him upon his elegance and activity, the mendacious little rogue asserted that he had learned to dance in Paris, whereas Anatole knew that his young master used to go off privily to an academy in Brewer Street, and study there for some hours in the morning. The casino of our modern days was not invented, or was in its infancy as yet; and gentlemen of Mr. Foker's time had not the facilities of acquiring the science of dancing which are enjoyed by our present youth.

Old Pendennis seldom missed going to church. He considered it to be his duty as a gentleman to patronise the institution of public worship and that it was quite a correct thing to be seen at church of a Sunday. One day it chanced that he and Arthur went thither together: the latter, who was now in high favour, had been to breakfast with his uncle, from whose lodging they walked across the park to a church not far from Belgrave Square. There was a charity sermon at Saint James's, as the Major knew by the bills posted on the pillars of his parish church, which probably caused him, for he was a thrifty man, to forsake it for that day: besides he had other views for himself and Pen. "We will go to church, sir, across the Park; and then, begad, we will go to the Claverings' house and ask them for lunch in a friendly way. Lady Clavering likes to be asked for lunch, and is uncommonly kind, and monstrous hospitable."

"I met them at dinner last week, at Lady Agnes Foker's, sir," Pen said, "and the Begum was very kind indeed. So she was in the country: so she is everywhere. But I share your opinion about Miss Amory; one of your opinions, that is, uncle, for you were changing the last time we spoke about her."

"And what do you think of her now?" the elder said.

"I think her the most confounded little flirt in London," Pen answered, laughing "She made a tremendous assault upon Harry Foker, who sat next to her; and to whom she gave all the talk, though I took her down."

"Bah! Henry Foker is engaged to his cousin all the world knows it: not a bad coup of Lady Rosherville's, that. I should say, that the young man at his father's death, and old Foker's life's devilish bad: you know he had a fit at Arthur's, last year: I should say, that young Foker won't have less than fourteen thousand a year from the brewery, besides Logwood and Norfolk property. I've no pride about me, Pen. I like a man of birth certainly, but dammy, I like a brewery which brings in a man fourteen thousand a year; hey, Pen? Ha, ha, that's the sort of man for me. And I recommend you now that you are lanced in the world, to stick to fellows of that sort, to fellows who have a stake in the country, begad."

"Foker sticks to me, sir," Arthur answered. "He has been at our chambers several times lately. He has asked me to dinner. We are almost as great friends, as we used to be in our youth: and his talk is about Blanche Amory from morning till night. I'm sure he's sweet upon her."

"I'm sure he is engaged to his cousin, and that they will keep the young man to his bargain," said the Major. "The marriages in these families are affairs of state. Lady Agnes was made to marry old Foker by the late Lord, although she was notoriously partial to her cousin who was killed at Albuera afterwards, and who saved her life out of the lake at Drummington. I remember Lady Agnes, sir, an exceedingly fine woman. But what did she do?—of course she married her father's man. Why, Mr. Foker sate for Drummington till the Reform Bill, and paid dev'lish well for his seat, too. And you may depend upon this, sir, that Foker senior, who is a parvenu, and loves a great man, as all parvenus do, has ambitious views for his son as well as himself, and that your friend Harry must do as his father bids him. Lord bless you! I've known a hundred cases of love in young men and women: hey, Master Arthur, do you take me? They kick, sir, they resist, they make a deuce of a riot and that sort of thing, but they end by listening to reason, begad."

"Blanche is a dangerous girl, sir," Pen said. "I was smitten with her myself once, and very far gone, too," he added; "but that is years ago."

"Were you? How far did it go? Did she return it?" asked the Major, looking hard at Pen.

Pen, with a laugh, said "that at one time he did think he was pretty well in Miss Amory's good graces. But my mother did not like her, and the affair went off." Pen did not think it fit to tell his uncle all the particulars of that courtship which had passed between himself and the young lady.

"A man might go farther and fare worse, Arthur," the Major said, still looking queerly at his nephew.

"Her birth, sir; her father was the mate of a ship, they say: and she has not money enough," objected Pen, in a dandified manner. "What's ten thousand pound and a girl bred up like her?"

"You use my own words, and it is all very well. But, I tell you in confidence, Pen,—in strict honour, mind,—that it's my belief she has a devilish deal more than ten thousand pound: and from what I saw of her the other day, and—and have heard of her—I should say she was a devilish accomplished, clever girl: and would make a good wife with a sensible husband."

"How do you know about her money?" Pen asked, smiling. "You seem to have information about everybody, and to know about all the town."

"I do know a few things, sir, and I don't tell all I know. Mark that," the uncle replied. "And as for that charming Miss Amory,—for charming, begad! she is,—if I saw her Mrs. Arthur Pendennis, I should neither be sorry nor surprised, begad! and if you object to ten thousand pound, what would you say, sir, to thirty, or forty, or fifty?" and the Major looked still more knowingly, and still harder at Pen.

"Well, sir," he said to his godfather and namesake, "make her Mrs. Arthur Pendennis. You can do it as well as I."

"Psha! you are laughing at me, sir," the other replied rather peevishly, "and you ought not to laugh so near a church gate. Here we are at St. Benedict's. They say Mr. Oriel is a beautiful preacher."

Indeed, the bells were tolling, the people were trooping into the handsome church, the carriages of the inhabitants of the lordly quarter poured forth their pretty loads of devotees, in whose company Pen and his uncle, ending their edifying conversation, entered the fane. I do not know whether other people carry their worldly affairs to the church door. Arthur, who, from habitual reverence and feeling, was always more than respectful in a place of worship, thought of the incongruity of their talk, perhaps; whilst the old gentleman at his side was utterly unconscious of any such contrast. His hat was brushed: his wig was trim: his neckcloth was perfectly tied. He looked at every soul in the congregation, it is true: the bald heads and the bonnets, the flowers and the feathers: but so demurely that he hardly lifted up his eyes from his book—from his book which he could not read without glasses. As for Pen's gravity, it was sorely put to the test when, upon looking by chance towards the seats where the servants were collected, he spied out, by the side of a demure gentleman in plush, Henry Foker, Esquire, who had discovered this place of devotion. Following the direction of Harry's eye, which strayed a good deal from his book, Pen found that it alighted upon a yellow bonnet and a pink one: and that these bonnets were on the heads of Lady Clavering and Blanche Amory. If Pen's uncle is not the only man who has talked about his worldly affairs up to the church door, is poor Harry Foker the only one who has brought his worldly love into the aisle?

When the congregation issued forth at the conclusion of the service, Foker was out amongst the first, but Pen came up with him presently, as he was hankering about the entrance, which he was unwilling to leave, until my lady's barouche, with the bewigged coachman, had borne away its mistress and her daughter from their devotions.

When the two ladies came out, they found together the Pendennises, uncle and nephew, and Harry Foker, Esquire, sucking the crook of his stick, standing there in the sunshine. To see and to ask to eat were simultaneous with the good-natured Begum, and she invited the three gentlemen to luncheon straightway.

Blanche was, too, particularly gracious. "O! do come," she said to Arthur, "if you are not too great a man. I want so to talk to you about—but we mustn't say what, here, you know. What would Mr. Oriel say?" And the young devotee jumped into the carriage after her mamma.—"I've read every word of it. It's adorable," she added, still addressing herself to Pen.

"I know who is," said Mr. Arthur, making rather a pert bow.

"What's the row about?" asked Mr. Foker, rather puzzled.

"I suppose Miss Clavering means 'Walter Lorraine,'" said the Major, looking knowing, and nodding at Pen.

"I suppose so, sir. There was a famous review in the Pall Mall this morning. It was Warrington's doing though, and I must not be too proud."

"A review in Pall Mall?—Walter Lorraine? What the doose do you mean?" Foker asked. "Walter Lorraine died of the measles, poor little beggar, when we were at Grey Friars. I remember his mother coming up."

"You are not a literary man, Foker," Pen said, laughing, and hooking his arm into his friend's. "You must know I have been writing a novel, and some of the papers have spoken very well of it. Perhaps you don't read the Sunday Papers?"

"I read Bell's Life regular, old boy," Mr Foker answered: at which Pen laughed again, and the three gentlemen proceeded in great good-humour to Lady Clavering's house.

The subject of the novel was resumed after luncheon by Miss Amory, who indeed loved poets and men of letters if she loved anything, and was sincerely an artist in feeling. "Some of the passages in the book made me cry, positively they did," she said.

Pen said, with some fatuity, "I am happy to think I have a part of vos larmes, Miss Blanche,"—and the Major (who had not read more than six pages of Pen's book) put on his sanctified look, saying, "Yes, there are some passages quite affecting, mons'ous affecting:" and,—"Oh, if it makes you cry,"—Lady Amory declared she would not read it, "that she wouldn't."

"Don't, mamma," Blanche said, with a French shrug of her shoulders; and then she fell into a rhapsody about the book, about the snatches of poetry interspersed in it about the two heroines, Leonora and Neaera; about the two heroes, Walter Lorraine and his rival the young Duke—"and what good company you introduce us to," said the young lady archly "quel ton! How much of your life have you passed at court, and are you a prime minister's son, Mr. Arthur?"

Pen began to laugh—"It is as cheap for a novelist to create a Duke as to make a Baronet," he said. "Shall I tell you a secret, Miss Amory? I promoted all my characters at the request of the publisher. The young Duke was only a young Baron when the novel was first written; his false friend, the Viscount, was a simple commoner and so on with all the characters of the story."

"What a wicked, satirical, pert young man you have become! Comme vous voila forme!" said the young lady. "How different from Arthur Pendennis of the country! Ah! I think I like Arthur Pendennis of the country best, though!" and she gave him the full benefit of her eyes,—both of the fond appealing glance into his own, and of the modest look downwards towards the carpet, which showed off her dark eyelids and long fringed lashes.

Pen of course protested that he had not changed in the least, to which the young lady replied by a tender sigh; and thinking that she had done quite enough to make Arthur happy or miserable (as the case might be), she proceeded to cajole his companion, Mr. Harry Foker, who during the literary conversation had sate silently imbibing the head of his cane, and wishing that he was a clever chap like that Pen.

If the Major thought that by telling Miss Amory of Mr. Foker's engagement to his cousin, Lady Ann Milton (which information the old gentleman neatly conveyed to the girl as he sate by her side at luncheon below-stairs),—if, we say, the Major thought that the knowledge of this fact would prevent Blanche from paying any further attention to the young heir of Foker's Entire, he was entirely mistaken. She became only the more gracious to Foker: she praised him, and everything belonging to him; she praised his mamma; she praised the pony which he rode in the Park; she praised the lovely breloques or gimcracks which the young gentleman wore at his watch-chain, and that dear little darling of a cane, and those dear little delicious monkeys' heads with ruby eyes, which ornamented Harry's shirt, and formed the buttons of his waistcoat. And then, having praised and coaxed the weak youth until he blushed and tingled with pleasure, and until Pen thought she really had gone quite far enough, she took another theme.

"I am afraid Mr. Foker is a very sad young man," she said, turning round to Pen.

"He does not look so," Pen answered with a sneer.

"I mean we have heard sad stories about him. Haven't we, mamma? What was Mr. Poyntz saying here, the other day, about that party at Richmond? O you naughty creature!" But here, seeing that Harry's countenance assumed a great expression of alarm, while Pen's wore a look of amusement, she turned to the latter and said, "I believe you are just as bad: I believe you would have liked to have been there,—wouldn't you? I know you would: yes—and so should I."

"Lor, Blanche!" mamma cried.

"Well, I would. I never saw an actress in my life. I would give anything to know one; for I adore talent. And I adore Richmond, that I do; and I adore Greenwich, and I say, I should like to go there."

"Why should not we three bachelors," the Major here broke out, gallantly, and to his nephew's special surprise, "beg these ladies to honour us with their company at Greenwich? Is Lady Clavering to go on for ever being hospitable to us, and may we make no return? Speak for yourselves, young men,—eh, begad! Here is my nephew, with his pockets full of money—his pockets full, begad! and Mr. Henry Foker, who, as I have heard say, is pretty well to do in the world,—how is your lovely cousin, Lady Ann, Mr. Foker?—here are these two young ones,—and they allow an old fellow like me to speak. Lady Clavering, will you do me the favour to be my guest? and Miss Blanche shall be Arthur's, if she will be so good."

"Oh, delightful!" cried Blanche.

"I like a bit of fun too," said Lady Clavering; and we will take some day when Sir Francis——"

"When Sir Francis dines out,—yes, mamma," the daughter said, "it will be charming."

And a charming day it was. The dinner was ordered at Greenwich, and Foker, though he did not invite Miss Amory, had some delicious opportunities of conversation with her during the repast, and afterwards on the balcony of their room at the hotel, and again during the drive home in her ladyship's barouche. Pen came down with his uncle, in Sir Hugh Trumpington's brougham, which the Major borrowed for the occasion. "I am an old soldier, begad," he said, "and I learned in early life to make myself comfortable."

And, being an old soldier, he allowed the two young men to pay for the dinner between them, and all the way home in the brougham he rallied Pen, about Miss Amory's evident partiality for him: praised her good looks, spirits, and wit: and again told Pen in the strictest confidence, that she would be a devilish deal richer than people thought.



CHAPTER XLII. Contains a novel Incident

Some account has been given, in a former part of this story, how Mr. Pen, during his residence at home, after his defeat at Oxbridge, had occupied himself with various literary compositions, and amongst other works, had written the greater part of a novel. This book, written under the influence of his youthful embarrassments, amatory and pecuniary, was of a very fierce, gloomy, and passionate sort,—the Byronic despair, the Wertherian despondency, the mocking bitterness of Mephistopheles of Faust, were all reproduced and developed in the character of the hero; for our youth had just been learning the German language, and imitated, as almost all clever lads do, his favourite poets and writers. Passages in the volumes once so loved, and now read so seldom, still bear the mark of the pencil with which he noted them in those days. Tears fell upon the leaf of the book, perhaps, or blistered the pages of his manuscript as the passionate young man dashed his thoughts down. If he took up the books afterwards he had no ability or wish to sprinkle the leaves with that early dew of former times: his pencil was no longer eager to score its marks of approval: but as he looked over the pages of his manuscript, he remembered what had been overflowing feelings which had caused him to blot it, and the pain which had inspired the line. If the secret history of books could be written, and the author's private thoughts and meanings noted down alongside of his story, how many insipid volumes would become interesting, and dull tales excite the reader! Many a bitter smile passed over Pen's face as he read his novel, and recalled the time and feelings which gave it birth. How pompous some of the grand passages appeared; and how weak were others in which he thought he had expressed his full heart! This page was imitated from a then favourite author, as he could now clearly see and confess, though he had believed himself to be writing originally then. As he mused over certain lines he recollected the place and hour where he wrote them: the ghost of the dead feeling came back as he mused, and he blushed to review the faint image. And what meant those blots on the page? As you come in the desert to a ground where camels' hoofs are marked in the clay, and traces of withered herbage are yet visible, you know that water was there once; so the place in Pen's mind was no longer green, and the fons lacrymarum was dried up.

He used this simile one morning to Warrington, as the latter sate over his pipe and book, and Pen, with much gesticulation according to his wont when excited, and with a bitter laugh, thumped his manuscript down on the table, making the tea-things rattle, and, the blue milk dance in the jug. On the previous night he had taken the manuscript out of a long-neglected chest, containing old shooting jackets, old Oxbridge scribbling-books, his old surplice, and battered cap and gown, and other memorials of youth, school, and home. He read in the volume in bed until he fell asleep, for the commencement of the tale was somewhat dull, and he had come home tired from a London evening party.

"By Jove!" said Pen, thumping down his papers, "when I think that these were written but very few years ago, I am ashamed of my memory. I wrote this when I believed myself be eternally in love with that little coquette, Miss Amory. I used to carry down verses to her, and put them into the hollow of a tree, and dedicate them 'Amori.'"

"That was a sweet little play upon words," Warrington remarked, with a puff "Amory—Amori. It showed proof of scholarship. Let us hear a bit of the rubbish." And he stretched over from his easy-chair, and caught hold of Pen's manuscript with the fire-tongs, which he was just using in order to put a coal into his pipe. Thus, in possession of the volume, he began to read out from the 'Leaves from the Life-book of Walter Lorraine.'

"'False as thou art beautiful! heartless as thou art fair! mockery of Passion!' Walter cried, addressing Leonora; 'what evil spirit hath sent thee to torture me so? O Leonora.——'"

"Cut that part," cried out Pen, making a dash at the book, which, however, his comrade would not release. "Well! don't read it out at any rate. That's about my other flame, my first—Lady Mirabel that is now. I saw her last night at Lady Whiston's. She asked me to a party at her house, and said that, as old friends, we ought to meet oftener. She has been seeing me any time these two years in town, and never thought of inviting me before; but seeing Wenham talking to me, and Monsieur Dubois, the French literary man, who had a dozen orders on, and might have passed for a Marshal of France, she condescended to invite me. The Claverings are to be there on the same evening. Won't it be exciting to meet one's two flames at the same table?"

"Two flames!—two heaps of burnt-out cinders," Warrington said. "Are both the beauties in this book?"

"Both, or something like them," Pen said. "Leonora, who marries the Duke, is the Fotheringay. I drew the Duke from Magnus Charters, with whom I was at Oxford; it's a little like him; and Miss Amory is Neaera. By gad, that first woman! I thought of her as I walked home from Lady Whiston's in the moonlight; and the whole early scenes came back to me as if they had been yesterday. And when I got home, I pulled out the story which I wrote about her and the other three years ago: do you know, outrageous as it is, it has some good stuff in it, and if Bungay won't publish it, I think Bacon will."

"That's the way of poets," said Warrington. "They fall in love, jilt, or are jilted; they suffer and they cry out that they suffer more than any other mortals: and when they have experienced feelings enough they note them down in a book, and take the book to market. All poets are humbugs, all literary men are humbugs; directly a man begins to sell his feelings for money he's a humbug. If a poet gets a pain in his side from too good a dinner, he bellows Ai Ai louder than Prometheus."

"I suppose a poet has a greater sensibility than another man," said Pen, with some spirit. "That is what makes him a poet. I suppose that he sees and feels more keenly: it is that which makes him speak, of what he feels and sees. You speak eagerly enough in your leading articles when you espy a false argument in an opponent, or detect a quack in the House. Paley, who does not care for anything else in the world, will talk for an hour about a question of law. Give another the privilege which you take yourself, and the free use of his faculty, and let him be what nature has made him. Why should not a man sell his sentimental thoughts as well as you your political ideas, or Paley his legal knowledge? Each alike is a matter of experience and practice. It is not money which causes you to perceive a fallacy, or Paley to argue a point; but a natural or acquired aptitude for that kind of truth: and a poet sets down his thoughts and experiences upon paper as a painter does a landscape or a face upon canvas, to the best of his ability, and according to his particular gift. If ever I think I have the stuff in me to write an epic, by Jove I will try If I only feel that I am good enough to crack a joke or tell a story, I will do that."

"Not a bad speech, young one," Warrington said, "but that does not prevent all poets from being humbugs."

"What—Homer, Aeschylus, Shakspeare and all?"

"Their names are not to be breathed in the same sense with you pigmies," Mr. Warrington said: "there are men and men, sir."

"Well, Shakspeare was a man who wrote for money, just as you and I do," Pen answered, at which Warrington confounded his impudence, and resumed his pipe and his manuscript.

There was not the slightest doubt then that this document contained a great deal of Pen's personal experiences, and that 'Leaves from the Life-book of Walter Lorraine' would never have been written but for Arthur Pendennis's own private griefs, passions, and follies. As we have become acquainted with these in the first volume of his biography, it will not be necessary to make large extracts from the novel of 'Walter Lorraine,' in which the young gentleman had depicted such of them as he thought were likely to interest the reader, or were suitable for the purpose of his story.

Now, though he had kept it in his box for nearly half of the period during which, according to the Horatian maxim, a work of art ought to lie ripening (a maxim, the truth of which may, by the way, be questioned altogether), Mr. Pen had not buried his novel for this time, in order that the work might improve, but because he did not know where else to bestow it, or had no particular desire to see it. A man who thinks of putting away a composition for ten years before he shall give it to the world, or exercise his own maturer judgment upon it, had best be very sure of the original strength and durability of the work; otherwise on withdrawing it from its crypt he may find, that like small wine it has lost what flavour it once had, and is only tasteless when opened. There are works of all tastes and smacks, the small and the strong, those that improve by age, and those that won't bear keeping at all, but are pleasant at the first draught, when they refresh and sparkle.

Now Pen had never any notion, even in the time of his youthful inexperience and fervour of imagination, that the story he was writing was a masterpiece of composition, or that he was the equal of the great authors whom he admired; and when he now reviewed his little performance, he was keenly enough alive to its faults, and pretty modest regarding its merits. It was not very good, he thought; but it was as good as most books of the kind that had the run of circulating libraries and the career of the season. He had critically examined more than one fashionable novel by the authors of the day then popular, and he thought that his intellect was as good as theirs and that he could write the English language as well as those ladies or gentlemen; and as he now ran over his early performance, he was pleased to find here and there passages exhibiting both fancy and vigour, and traits, if not of genius, of genuine passion and feeling. This, too, was Warrington's verdict, when that severe critic, after half an hour's perusal of the manuscript, and the consumption of a couple of pipes of tobacco, laid Pen's book down, yawning portentously. "I can't read any more of that balderdash now," he said; "but it seems to me there is some good stuff in it, Pen, my boy. There's a certain greenness and freshness in it which I like somehow. The bloom disappears off the face of poetry after you begin to shave. You can't get up that naturalness and artless rosy tint in after days. Your cheeks are pale, and have got faded by exposure to evening parties, and you are obliged to take curling-irons, and macassar, and the deuce-knows-what to your whiskers; they curl ambrosially, and you are very grand and genteel, and so forth; but, ah! Pen, the spring-time was the best."

"What the deuce have my whiskers to do with the subject in hand?" Pen said (who, perhaps, may have been nettled by Warrington's allusion to those ornaments, which, to say the truth, the young man coaxed, and curled, and oiled, and perfumed, and petted, in rather an absurd manner). "Do you think we can do anything with 'Walter Lorraine'? Shall we take him to the publishers, or make an auto-da-fe of him?"

"I don't see what is the good of incremation," Warrington said, "though I have a great mind to put him into the fire, to punish your atrocious humbug and hypocrisy. Shall I burn him indeed? You have much too great a value for him to hurt a hair of his head."

"Have I? Here goes," said Pen, and 'Walter Lorraine' went off the table, and was flung on to the coals. But the fire having done its duty of boiling the young man's breakfast-kettle, had given up work for the day, and had gone out, as Pen knew very well; Warrington with a scornful mile, once more took up the manuscript with the tongs from out of the harmless cinders.

"Oh, Pen, what a humbug you are!" Warrington said; "and what is worst of all, sir, a clumsy humbug. I saw you look to see that the fire was out before you sent 'Walter Lorraine' behind the bars. No, we won't burn him: we will carry him to the Egyptians, and sell him. We will exchange him away for money, yea, for silver and gold, and for beef and for liquors, and for tobacco and for raiment. This youth will fetch some price in the market; for he is a comely lad, though not over strong; but we will fatten him up and give him the bath, and curl his hair, and we will sell him for a hundred piasters to Bacon or to Bungay. The rubbish is saleable enough, sir; and my advice to you is this: the next time you go home for a holiday, take 'Walter Lorraine' in your carpet-bag—give him a more modern air, prune away, though sparingly, some of the green passages, and add a little comedy, and cheerfulness, and satire, and that sort of thing, and then we'll take him to market, and sell him. The book is not a wonder of wonders, but it will do very well."

"Do you think so, Warrington?" said Pen, delighted, for this was great praise from his cynical friend.

"You silly young fool! I think it's uncommonly clever," Warrington said in a kind voice. "So do you, sir." And with the manuscript which he held in his hand he playfully struck Pen on the cheek. That part of Pen's countenance turned as red as it had ever done in the earliest days of his blushes: he grasped the other's hand and said, "Thank you, Warrington," with all his might: and then he retired to his own room with his book, and passed the greater part of the day upon his bed re-reading it; and he did as Warrington had advised, and altered not a little, and added a great deal, until at length he had fashioned 'Walter Lorraine' pretty much into the shape in which, as the respected novel-reader knows, it subsequently appeared.

Whilst he was at work upon this performance, the good-natured Warrington artfully inspired the two gentlemen who "read" for Messrs. Bacon and Bungay with the greatest curiosity regarding 'Walter Lorraine,' and pointed out the peculiar merits of its distinguished author. It was at the period when the novel, called 'The Fashionable,' was in vogue among us; and Warrington did not fail to point out, as before, how Pen was a man of the very first fashion himself, and received at the houses of some of the greatest personages in the land. The simple and kind-hearted Percy Popjoy was brought to bear upon Mrs. Bungay, whom he informed that his friend Pendennis was occupied upon a work of the most exciting nature; a work that the whole town would run after, full of wit, genius, satire, pathos, and every conceivable good quality. We have said before, that Bungay knew no more about novels than he did about Hebrew or Algebra, and neither read nor understood any of the books which he published and paid for; but he took his opinions from his professional advisers and from Mrs. B., and, evidently with a view to a commercial transaction, asked Pendennis and Warrington to dinner again.

Bacon, when he found that Bungay was about to treat, of course, began to be anxious and curious, and desired to outbid his rival. Was anything settled between Mr. Pendennis and the odious house "over the way" about the new book? Mr. Hack, the confidential reader, was told to make inquiries, and see if any thing was to be done, and the result of the inquiries of that diplomatist was, that one morning, Bacon himself toiled up the staircase of Lamb Court and to the door on which the names of Mr. Warrington, and Mr. Pendennis, were painted.

For a gentleman of fashion as poor Pen was represented to be, it must be confessed, that the apartments he and his friend occupied were not very suitable. The ragged carpet had grown only more ragged during the two years of joint occupancy: a constant odour of tobacco perfumed the sitting-room: Bacon tumbled over the laundress's buckets in the passage through which he had to pass; Warrington's shooting-jacket was as tattered at the elbows as usual; and the chair which Bacon was requested to take on entering, broke down with the publisher. Warrington burst out laughing, said that Bacon had got the game chair, and bawled out to Pen to fetch a sound one from his bedroom. And seeing the publisher looking round the dingy room with an air of profound pity and wonder, asked him whether he didn't think the apartments were elegant, and if he would like, for Mrs. Bacon's drawing-room, any of the articles of furniture? Mr. Warrington's character as a humourist was known to Mr. Bacon: "I never can make that chap out," the publisher was heard to say, "or tell whether he is in earnest or only chaffing."

It is very possible that Mr. Bacon would have set the two gentlemen down as impostors altogether, but that there chanced to be on the breakfast-table certain cards of invitation which the post of the morning had brought in for Pen, and which happened to come from some very exalted personage of the beau-monde, into which our young man had his introduction. Looking down upon these, Bacon saw that the Marchioness of Steyne would be at home to Mr. Arthur Pendennis upon a given day, and that another lady of distinction proposed to have dancing at her house upon a certain future evening. Warrington saw the admiring publisher eyeing these documents. "Ah," said he, with an air of simplicity, "Pendennis is one of the most affable young men I ever knew, Mr. Bacon. Here is a young fellow that dines with all the men in London, and yet he'll take his mutton-chop with you and me quite contentedly. There's nothing like the affability of the old English gentleman."

"Oh no, nothing," said Mr. Bacon.

"And you wonder why he should go on living up three pair of stairs with me, don't you now? Well, it is a queer taste. But we are fond of each other; and as I can't afford to live in a great house, he comes and stays in these rickety old chambers with me. He's a man that can afford to live anywhere."

"I fancy it don't cost him much here," thought Mr. Bacon, and the object of these praises presently entered the room from his adjacent sleeping apartment.

Then Mr. Bacon began to speak upon the subject of his visit; said he heard that Mr. Pendennis had a manuscript novel; professed himself anxious to have a sight of that work, and had no doubt that they could come to terms respecting it. What would be his price for it? would he give Bacon the refusal of it? he would find our house a liberal house, and so forth. The delighted Pen assumed an air of indifference, and said that he was already in treaty with Bungay, and could give no definite answer. This piqued the other into such liberal, though vague offers, that Pen began to fancy Eldorado was opening to him, and that his fortune was made from that day.

I shall not mention what was the sum of money which Mr. Arthur Pendennis finally received for the first edition of his novel of 'Walter Lorraine,' lest other young literary aspirants should expect to be as lucky as he was, and unprofessional persons forsake their own callings, whatever they may be, for the sake of supplying the world with novels, whereof there is already a sufficiency. Let no young people be misled and rush fatally into romance-writing: for one book which succeeds let them remember the many that fail, I do not say deservedly or otherwise, and wholesomely abstain or if they venture, at least let them do so at their own peril. As for those who have already written novels, this warning is not addressed, of course, to them. Let them take their wares to market; let them apply to Bacon and Bungay, and all the publishers in the Row, or the metropolis, and may they be happy in their ventures. This world is so wide, and the tastes of mankind happily so various, that there is always a chance for every man, and he may win the prize by his genius or by his good fortune. But what is the chance of success or failure; of obtaining popularity, or of holding it when achieved? One man goes over the ice, which bears him, and a score who follow flounder in. In fine, Mr. Pendennis's was an exceptional case, and applies to himself only and I assert solemnly, and will to the last maintain, that it is one thing to write a novel, and another to get money for it.

By merit, then, or good fortune, or the skilful playing off of Bungay against Bacon which Warrington performed (and which an amateur novelist is quite welcome to try upon any two publishers in the trade), Pen's novel was actually sold for a certain sum of money to one of the two eminent patrons of letters whom we have introduced to our readers. The sum was so considerable that Pen thought of opening an account at a banker's, or of keeping a cab and horse, or of descending into the first floor of Lamb Court into newly furnished apartments, or of migrating to the fashionable end of the town.

Major Pendennis advised the latter move strongly; he opened his eyes with wonder when he heard of the good luck that had befallen Pen; and which the latter, as soon as it occurred, hastened eagerly to communicate to his uncle. The Major was almost angry that Pen should have earned so much money. "Who the doose reads this kind of thing?" he thought to himself when he heard of the bargain which Pen had made. "I never read your novels and rubbish. Except Paul de Kock, who certainly makes me laugh, I don't think I've looked into a book of the sort these thirty years. Gad! Pen's a lucky fellow. I should think he might write one of these in a month now,—say a month,—that's twelve in a year. Dammy, he may go on spinning this nonsense for the next four to five years, and make a fortune. In the meantime I should wish him to live properly, take respectable apartments, and keep a brougham." And on this simple calculation it was that the Major counselled Pen.

Arthur, laughing, told Warrington what his uncle's advice had been but he luckily had a much more reasonable counsellor than the old gentleman in the person of his friend, and in his own conscience, which said to him, "Be grateful for this piece of good fortune; don't plunge into any extravagancies. Pay back Laura!" And he wrote a letter to her, in which he told her his thanks and his regard; and enclosed to her such an instalment of his debt as nearly wiped it off. The widow and Laura herself might well be affected by the letter. It was written with genuine tenderness and modesty; and old Dr. Portman when he read a passage in the letter, in which Pen, with an honest heart full of gratitude, humbly thanked Heaven for his present prosperity, and for sending him such dear and kind friends to support him in his ill fortune,—when Doctor Portman read this portion of the letter, his voice faltered, and his eyes twinkled behind his spectacles, and when he had quite finished reading the same, and had taken his glasses off his nose, and had folded up the paper and given it back to the widow, I am constrained to say, that after holding Mrs. Pendennis's hand for a minute, the Doctor drew that lady towards him and fairly kissed her: at which salute, of course, Helen burst out crying on the Doctor's shoulder, for her heart was too full to give any other reply: and the Doctor blushing at great deal after his feat, led the lady, with a bow, to the sofa, on which he seated himself by her; and he mumbled out, in a low voice, some words of a Great Poet whom he loved very much, and who describes how in the days of his prosperity he had made "the widow's heart to sing for joy."

"The letter does the boy very great honour, very great honour, my dear," he said, patting it as it lay on Helen's knee—"and I think we have all reason to be thankful for it—very thankful. I need not tell you in what quarter, my dear, for you are a sainted woman: yes, Laura, my love, your mother is a sainted woman. And Mrs. Pendennis, ma'am, I shall order a copy of the book for myself, and another at the Book Club."

We may be sure that the widow and Laura walked out to meet the mail which brought them their copy of Pen's precious novel, as soon as that work was printed and ready for delivery to the public and that they read it to each other: and that they also read it privately and separately, for when the widow came out of her room in her dressing-gown at one o'clock in the morning with volume two, which she had finished, she found Laura devouring volume three in bed. Laura did not say much about the book, but Helen pronounced that it was a happy mixture of Shakspeare, and Byron, and Walter Scott, and was quite certain that her son was the greatest genius, as he was the best son, in the world.

Did Laura not think about the book and the author, although she said so little? At least she thought about Arthur Pendennis. Kind as his tone was, it vexed her. She did not like his eagerness to repay that money. She would rather that her brother had taken her gift as she intended it: and was pained that there should be money calculations between them. His letters from London, written with the good-natured wish to amuse his mother, were full of descriptions of the famous people and the entertainments and magnificence of the great city. Everybody was flattering him and spoiling him, she was sure. Was he not looking to some great marriage, with that cunning uncle for a Mentor (between whom and Laura there was always an antipathy), that inveterate worldling, whose whole thoughts were bent upon pleasure and rank and fortune? He never alluded to—to old times, when he spoke of her. He had forgotten them and her, perhaps had he not forgotten other things and people?

These thoughts may have passed in Miss Laura's mind, though she did not, she could not, confide them to Helen. She had one more secret, too, from that lady, which she could not divulge, perhaps because she knew how the widow would have rejoiced to know it. This regarded an event which had occurred during that visit to Lady Rockminster, which Laura had paid in the last Christmas holidays: when Pen was at home with his mother, and when Mr. Pynsent, supposed to be so cold and so ambitious, had formally offered his hand to Miss Bell. No one except herself and her admirer knew of this proposal: or that Pynsent had been rejected by her, and probably the reasons she gave to the mortified young man himself were not those which actuated her refusal, or those which she chose to acknowledge to herself. "I never," she told Pynsent, "can accept such an offer as that which you make me, which you own is unknown to your family as I am sure it would be unwelcome to them. The difference of rank between us is too great. You are very kind to me here—too good and kind, dear Mr. Pynsent—but I am little better than a dependant."

"A dependant! who ever so thought of you? You are the equal of all the world," Pynsent broke out.

"I am a dependant at home, too," Laura said, sweetly, "and indeed I would not be otherwise. Left early a poor orphan, I have found the kindest and tenderest of mothers, and I have vowed never to leave her—never. Pray do not speak of this again—here, under your relative's roof, or elsewhere. It is impossible."

"If Lady Rockminster asks you herself, will you listen to her?" Pynsent cried eagerly.

"No," Laura said. "I beg you never to speak of this any more. I must go away if you do"—and with this she left him.

Pynsent never asked for Lady Rockminster's intercession; he knew how vain it was to look for that: and he never spoke again on that subject to Laura or to any person.

When at length the famous novel appeared it not only met with applause from more impartial critics than Mrs. Pendennis, but, luckily for Pen it suited the taste of the public, and obtained a quick and considerable popularity before two months were over, Pen had the satisfaction and surprise of seeing the second edition of 'Walter Lorraine' advertised in the newspapers; and enjoyed the pleasure of reading and sending home the critiques of various literary journals and reviewers upon his book. Their censure did not much affect him; for the good-natured young man was disposed to accept with considerable humility the dispraises of others. Nor did their praise elate him over much; for, like most honest persons he had his own opinion about his own performance, and when a critic praised him in the wrong place he was rather hurt than pleased by the compliment. But if a review of his work was very laudatory, it was a great pleasure to him to send it home to his mother at Fairoaks, and to think of the joy which it would give there. There are some natures, and perhaps, as we have said, Pendennis's was one, which are improved and softened by prosperity and kindness, as there are men of other dispositions, who become arrogant and graceless under good fortune. Happy he, who can endure one or the other with modesty and good-humour! Lucky he who has been educated to bear his fate, whatsoever it may be, by an early example of uprightness, and a childish training in honour!



CHAPTER XLIII. Alsatia

Bred up, like a bailiff or a shabby attorney, about the purlieus of the Inns of Court, Shepherd's Inn is always to be found in the close neighbourhood of Lincoln's-Inn Fields, and the Temple. Some where behind the black gables and smutty chimney-stacks of Wych Street, Holywell Street, Chancery Lane, the quadrangle lies, hidden from the outer world; and it is approached by curious passages and ambiguous smoky alleys, on which the sun has forgotten to shine. Slop-sellers, brandy-ball and hard-bake vendors, purveyors of theatrical prints for youth, dealers in dingy furniture and bedding suggestive of anything but sleep, line the narrow walls and dark casements with their wares. The doors are many-belled: and crowds of dirty children form endless groups about the steps: or around the shell-fish dealers' trays in these courts; whereof the damp pavements resound with pattens, and are drabbled with a never-failing mud. Ballad-singers come and chant here, in deadly guttural tones, satirical songs against the Whig administration, against the bishops and dignified clergy, against the German relatives of an august royal family: Punch sets up his theatre, sure of an audience, and occasionally of a halfpenny from the swarming occupants of the houses: women scream after their children for loitering in the gutter, or, worse still, against the husband who comes reeling from the gin-shop;—there is a ceaseless din and life in these courts out of which you pass into the tranquil, old-fashioned quadrangle of Shepherd's Inn. In a mangy little grass-plat in the centre rises up the statue of Shepherd, defended by iron railings from the assaults of boys. The hall of the Inn, on which the founder's arms are painted, occupies one side of the square, the tall and ancient chambers are carried round other two sides, and over the central archway, which leads into Oldcastle Street, and so into the great London thoroughfare.

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