Perhaps it was solitude, then, which drove Pen into the garden; for although he had never before passed the gate, and had looked rather carelessly at the pretty flower-beds, and the groups of pleased citizens sauntering over the trim lawn and the broad gravel-walks by the river, on this evening it happened, as we have said, that the young gentleman, who had dined alone at a tavern in the neighbourhood of the Temple, took a fancy, as he was returning home to his chambers, to take a little walk in the gardens, and enjoy the fresh evening air, and the sight of the shining Thames. After walking for a brief space, and looking at the many peaceful and happy groups round about him, he grew tired of the exercise, and betook himself to one of the summer-houses which flank either end of the main walk, and there modestly seated himself. What were his cogitations? The evening was delightfully bright and calm; the sky was cloudless; the chimneys on the opposite bank were not smoking; the wharfs warehouses looked rosy in the sunshine, and as clear as if they, too, had washed for the holiday. The steamers rushed rapidly up and down the stream, laden with holiday passengers. The bells of the multitudinous city churches were ringing to evening prayers—such peaceful Sabbath evenings as this Pen may have remembered in his early days, as he paced, with his arm round his mother's waist, on the terrace before the lawn at home. The sun was lighting up the little Brawl, too, as well as the broad Thames, and sinking downwards majestically behind the Clavering elms, and the tower of the familiar village church. Was it thoughts of these, or the sunset merely, that caused the blush in the young man's face? He beat time on the bench, to the chorus of the bells without; flicked the dust off his shining boots with his pocket-handkerchief, and starting up, stamped with his foot and said, "No, by Jove, I'll go home." And with this resolution, which indicated that some struggle as to the propriety of remaining where he was, or of quitting the garden, had been going on in his mind, he stepped out of the summer-house.
He nearly knocked down two little children, who did not indeed reach much higher than his knee, and were trotting along the gravel-walk, with their long blue shadows slanting towards the east.
One cried out "Oh!" the other began to laugh; and with a knowing little infantile chuckle, said, "Missa Pendennis!" And Arthur, looking down, saw his two little friends of the day before, Mesdemoiselles Ameliar-Ann and Betsy-Jane. He blushed more than ever at seeing them, and seizing the one whom he had nearly upset, jumped her up into the air, and kissed her: at which sudden assault Ameliar-Ann began to cry in great alarm.
This cry brought up instantly two ladies in clean collars and new ribbons, and grand shawls, namely: Mrs. Bolton in a rich scarlet Caledonian Cashmere, and a black silk dress, and Miss F. Bolton with a yellow scarf and a sweet sprigged muslin, and a parasol—quite the lady. Fanny did not say one single word: though; her eyes flashed a welcome, and shone as bright—as bright as the most blazing windows in Paper Buildings. But Mrs. Bolton, after admonishing Betsy-Jane, said, "Lor sir—how very odd that we should meet you year! I ope you ave your ealth well, sir.—Ain't it odd, Fanny, that we should meet Mr. Pendennis?" What do you mean by sniggering, Mesdames? When young Croesus has been staying at a country-house, have you never, by any singular coincidence, been walking with your Fanny in the shrubberies? Have you and your Fanny never happened to be listening to the band of the Heavies at Brighton, when young De Boots and Captain Padmore came clinking down the Pier? Have you and your darling Frances never chanced to be visiting old widow Wheezy at the cottage on the common, when the young curate has stepped in with a tract adapted to the rheumatism? Do you suppose that, if singular coincidences occur at the Hall, they don't also happen at the Lodge?
It was a coincidence, no doubt: that was all. In the course of the conversation on the day previous, Mr. Pendennis had merely said, in the simplest way imaginable, and in reply to a question of Miss Bolton, that although some of the courts were gloomy, parts of the Temple were very cheerful and agreeable, especially the chambers looking on the river and around the gardens, and that the gardens were a very pleasant walk on Sunday evenings and frequented by a great number of people—and here, by the merest chance, all our acquaintances met together, just like so many people in genteel life. What could be more artless, good-natured, or natural?
Pen looked very grave, pompous, and dandified. He was unusually smart and brilliant in his costume. His white duck trousers and white hat, his neckcloth of many colours, his light waistcoat, gold chains, and shirt-studs, gave him the air of a prince of the blood at least. How his splendour became his figure! Was anybody ever like him? some one thought. He blushed—how his blushes became him! the same individual said to herself. The children, on seeing him the day before, had been so struck with him, that after he had gone away they had been playing at him. And Ameliar-Ann, sticking her little chubby fingers into the arm-holes of her pinafore, as Pen was wont to do with his waistcoat, had said, "Now, Bessy-Jane, I'll be Missa Pendennis." Fanny had laughed till she cried, and smothered her sister with kisses for that feat. How happy, too, she was to see Arthur embracing the child!
If Arthur was red, Fanny, on the contrary, was very worn and pale. Arthur remarked it, and asked kindly why she looked so fatigued.
"I was awake all night," said Fanny, and began to blush a little.
"I put out her candle, and hordered her to go to sleep and leave off readin," interposed the fond mother.
"You were reading! And what was it that interested you so?" asked Pen, amused.
"Oh, it's so beautiful!" said Fanny.
"'Walter Lorraine,'" Fanny sighed out. "How I do hate that Neaera—Neaera—I don't know the pronunciation. And I love Leonora, and Walter, oh, how dear he is!"
How had Fanny discovered the novel of 'Walter Lorraine,' and that Pen was the author? This little person remembered every single word which Mr. Pendennis had spoken on the night previous, and how he wrote in books and newspapers. What books? She was so eager to know, that she had almost a mind to be civil to old Bows, who was suffering under her displeasure since yesterday, but she determined first to make application to Costigan. She began by coaxing the Captain and smiling upon him in her most winning way, as she helped to arrange his dinner and set his humble apartment in order. She was sure his linen wanted mending (and indeed the Captain's linen-closet contained some curious specimens of manufactured flax and cotton). She would mend his shirts—all his shirts. What horrid holes—what funny holes! She put her little face through one of them, and laughed at the old warrior in the most winning manner. She would have made a funny little picture looking through the holes. Then she daintily removed Costigan's dinner things, tripping about the room as she had seen the dancers do at the play; and she danced to the Captain's cupboard, and produced his whisky-bottle, and mixed him a tumbler, and must taste a drop of it—a little drop; and the Captain must sing her one of his songs, his dear songs, and teach it to her. And when he had sung an Irish melody in his rich quavering voice, fancying it was he who was fascinating the little siren, she put her little question about Arthur Pendennis and his novel, and having got an answer, cared for nothing more, but left the Captain at the piano about to sing her another song, and the dinner-tray on the passage, and the shirts on the chair, and ran downstairs quickening her pace as she sped.
Captain Costigan, as he said, was not a litherary cyarkter, nor had he as yet found time to peruse his young friend's ellygant perfaurumance, though he intended to teak an early opporchunitee of purchasing a cawpee of his work. But he knew the name of Pen's novel from the fact that Messrs. Finucane, Bludyer, and other frequenters of the Back Kitchen, spoke of Mr. Pendennis (and not all of them with great friendship; for Bludyer called him a confounded coxcomb, and Hoolan wondered that Doolan did not kick him etc.) by the sobriquet of Walter Lorraine,—and was hence enabled to give Fanny the information which she required.
"And she went and ast for it at the libery," Mrs. Bolton said, "—several liberies—and some ad it and it was bout, and some adn't it. And one of the liberies as ad it wouldn't let er ave it without a sovering: and she adn't one, and she came back a-cryin to me—didn't you, Fanny?—and I gave her a sovering."
"And, oh, I was in such a fright lest any one should have come to the libery and took it while I was away," Fanny said, her cheeks and eyes glowing. "And, oh, I do like it so!"
Arthur was touched by this artless sympathy, immensely flattered and moved by it. "Do you like it?" he said. "If you will come up to my chambers I will—No, I will bring you one—no, I will send you one. Good night. Thank you, Fanny. God bless you. I mustn't stay with you. Good-bye, good-bye." And, pressing her hand once, and nodding to her mother and the other children, he strode out of the gardens.
He quickened his pace as he went from them, and ran out of the gate talking to himself. "Dear, dear little thing," he said,—"darling little Fanny! You are worth them all. I wish to heaven Shandon was back. I'd go home to my mother. I mustn't see her. I won't. I won't, so help me——"
As he was talking thus, and running, the passers-by turning to look at him, he ran against a little old man, and perceived it was Mr. Bows.
"Your very umble servant, sir," said Mr. Bows, making a sarcastic bow, and lifting his old hat from his forehead.
"I wish you a good day," Arthur answered sulkily. "Don't let me detain you, or give you the trouble to follow me again. I am in a hurry, sir. Good evening."
Bows thought Pen had some reason for hurrying to his rooms. "Where are they?" exclaimed the old gentleman. "You know whom I mean. They're not in your rooms, sir, are they? They told Bolton they were going to church at the Temple, they weren't there. They are in your chambers: they mustn't stay in your chambers, Mr. Pendennis."
"Damn it, sir!" cried out Pendennis, fiercely. "Come and see if they are in my chambers: here's the court and the door—come in and see." And Bows, taking off his hat and bowing first, followed the young man.
They were not in Pen's chambers, as we know. But when the gardens were closed, the two women, who had r had but a melancholy evening's amusement, walked away sadly with the children, and they entered into Lamb Court, and stood under the lamp-post which cheerfully ornaments the centre of that quadrangle, and looked up to the third floor of the house where Pendennis's chambers were, and where they saw a light presently kindled. Then this couple of fools went away, the children dragging wearily after them, and returned to Mr. Bolton, who was immersed in rum-and-water at his lodge in Shepherd's Inn.
Mr. Bows looked round the blank room which the young man occupied, and which had received but very few ornaments or additions since the last time we saw them. Warrington's old bookcase and battered library, Pen's writing-table with its litter of papers, presented an aspect cheerless enough. "Will you like to look in the bedrooms, Mr. Bows, and see if my victims are there?" he said bitterly; "or whether I have made away with the little girls, and hid them in the coal-hole?"
"Your word is sufficient, Mr. Pendennis," the other said in his sad tone. "You say they are not here, and I know they are not. And I hope they never have been here, and never will come."
"Upon my word, sir, you are very good, to choose my acquaintances for me," Arthur said, in a haughty tone; "and to suppose that anybody would be the worse for my society. I remember you, and owe you kindness from old times, Mr. Bows; or I should speak more angrily than I do, about a very intolerable sort of persecution to which you seem inclined to subject me. You followed me out of your Inn yesterday, as if you wanted to watch that I shouldn't steal something." Here Pen stammered and turned red, directly he had said the words; he felt he had given the other an opening, which Bows instantly took.
"I do think you came to steal something, as you say the words, sir," Bows said. "Do you mean to say that you came to pay a visit to poor old Bows, the fiddler; or to Mrs. Bolton, at the porter's lodge? O fie! Such a fine gentleman as Arthur Pendennis, Esquire, doesn't condescend to walk up to my garret, or to sit in a laundress's kitchen, but for reasons of his own. And my belief is that you came to steal a pretty girl's heart away, and to ruin it, and to spurn it afterwards, Mr. Arthur Pendennis. That's what the world makes of you young dandies, you gentlemen of fashion, you high and mighty aristocrats that trample upon the people. It's sport to you, but what is it to the poor, think you; the toys of your pleasures, whom you play with and whom you fling into the streets when you are tired? I know your order, sir. I know your selfishness, and your arrogance, and your pride. What does it matter to my lord, that the poor man's daughter is made miserable, and her family brought to shame? You must have your pleasures, and the people of course must pay for them. What are we made for, but for that? It's the way with you all—the way with you all, sir."
Bows was speaking beside the question, and Pen had his advantage here, which he was not sorry to take—not sorry to put off the debate from the point upon which his adversary had first engaged it. Arthur broke out with a sort of laugh, for which he asked Bows's pardon. "Yes, I am an aristocrat," he said, "in a palace up three pair of stairs, with a carpet nearly as handsome as yours, Mr. Bows. My life is passed in grinding the people, is it?—in ruining virgins and robbing the poor? My good sir, this is very well in a comedy, where Job Thornberry slaps his breast, and asks my Lord how dare he trample on an honest man and poke out an Englishman's fireside; but in real life, Mr. Bows, to a man who has to work for his bread as much as you do—how can you talk about aristocrats tyrannising over the people? Have I ever done you a wrong? or assumed airs of superiority over you? Did you not have an early regard for me—in days when we were both of us romantic young fellows, Mr. Bows? Come, don't be angry with me now, and let us be as good friends as we were before."
"Those days were very different," Mr. Bows answered; "and Mr. Arthur Pendennis was an honest, impetuous young fellow then; rather selfish and conceited, perhaps, but honest. He liked you then, because you were ready to ruin yourself for a woman."
"And now, sir?" Arthur asked.
"And now times are changed, and you want a woman to ruin herself for you," Bows answered. "I know this child, sir. I've always said this lot was hanging over her. She has heated her little brain with novels, until her whole thoughts are about love and lovers, and she scarcely sees that she treads on a kitchen floor. I have taught the little thing. She is full of many talents and winning ways, I grant you. I am fond of the girl, sir. I'm a lonely old man; I lead a life that I don't like, among boon companions, who make me melancholy. I have but this child that I care for. Have pity upon me, and don't take her away from me, Mr. Pendennis—don't take her away."
The old man's voice broke as he spoke. Its accents touched Pen, much more than the menacing or sarcastic tone which Bows had commenced by adopting.
"Indeed," said he, kindly, "you do me a wrong if you fancy I intend one to poor little Fanny. I never saw her till Friday night. It was the merest chance that our friend Costigan threw her into my way. I have no intentions regarding her—that is——"
"That is, you know very well that she is a foolish girl, and her mother a foolish woman,—that is, you meet her in the Temple Gardens, and of course without previous concert,—that is, that when I found her yesterday reading the book you've wrote, she scorned me," Bows said. "What am I good for but to be laughed at? a deformed old fellow like me; an old fiddler, that wears a threadbare coat, and gets his bread by playing tunes at an ale-house? You are a fine gentleman, you are. You wear scent in your handkerchief, and a ring on your finger. You go to dine with great people. Who ever gives a crust to old Bows? And yet I might have been as good a man as the best of you. I might have been a man of genius, if I had had the chance; ay, and have lived with the master-spirits of the land. But everything hads ailed with me. I'd ambition once, and wrote plays, poems, music—nobody would give me a hearing. I never loved a woman, but she laughed at me; and here I am in my old age alone—alone! Don't take this girl from me, Mr. Pendennis, I say again. Leave her with me a little longer. She was like a child to me till yesterday. Why did you step in, and made her to mock my deformity and old age?"
"I am guiltless of that, at least," Arthur said, with something of a sigh. "Upon my word of honour, I wish I had never seen the girl. My calling is not seduction, Mr. Bows. I did not imagine that I had made an impression on poor Fanny, until—until to-night. And then, sir, I was sorry, and was flying from my temptation, as you came upon me. And," he added, with a glow upon his cheek, which, in the gathering darkness, his companion could not see, and with an audible tremor in his voice, "I do not mind telling you, sir, that on this Sabbath evening, as the church bells were ringing, I thought of my own home, and of women angelically pure and good, who dwell there; and I was running hither as I met you, that I might avoid the danger which beset me, and ask strength of God Almighty to do my duty."
After these words from Arthur a silence ensued, and when the conversation was resumed by his guest, the latter spoke in a tone which was much more gentle and friendly. And on taking farewell of Pen, Bows asked leave to shake hands with him, and with a very warm and affectionate greeting on both sides, apologised to Arthur for having mistaken him, and paid him some compliments which caused the young man to squeeze his old friend's hand heartily again. And as they parted at Pen's door, Arthur said he had given a promise, and he hoped and trusted that Mr. Bows might rely on it?
"Amen to that prayer," said Mr. Bows, and went slowly down the stair.
CHAPTER LI. The happy Village again
Early in this history, we have had occasion to speak of the little town of Clavering, near which Pen's paternal home of Fairoaks stood, and of some of the people who inhabite the place; and as the society there was by no means amusing or pleasant, our reports concerning it were not carried to any very great length. Mr. Samuel Huxter, the gentleman whose acquaintance we lately made at Vauxhall, was one of the choice spirits of the little town, when he visited it during his vacation, and enlivened the tables of his friends there, by the wit of Bartholomew's and the gossip of the fashionable London circles which he frequented.
Mr. Hobnell, the young gentleman whom Pen had thrashed in consequence of the quarrel in the Fotheringay affair, was, whilst a pupil at the Grammar School at Clavering, made very welcome at the tea-table of Mrs. Huxter, Samuel's mother, and was free of the surgery, where he knew the way to the tamarind-pots, and could scent his pocket-handkerchief with rose-water. And it was at this period of his life that he formed an attachment for Miss Sophy Huxter, whom, on his father's demise, he married, and took home to his house of the Warren, at a few miles from Clavering.
The family had possessed and cultivated an estate there for many years, as yeomen and farmers. Mr. Hobnell's father pulled down the old farmhouse; built a flaring new whitewashed mansion, with capacious stables; and a piano in the drawing-room; kept a pack of harriers; and assumed the title of Squire Hobnell. When he died, and his son reigned in his stead, the family might be fairly considered to be established as county gentry. And Sam Huxter, at London, did no great wrong in boasting about his brother-in-law's place, his hounds, horses, and hospitality, to his admiring comrades at Bartholomew's. Every year, at a time commonly when Mrs. Hobnell could not leave the increasing duties of her nursery, Hobnell came up to London for a lark, had rooms at the Tavistock, and he and Sam indulged in the pleasures of the town together. Ascot, the theatres, Vauxhall, and the convivial taverns in the joyous neighbourhood of Covent Garden, were visited by the vivacious squire, in company with his learned brother. When he was in London, as he said, he liked to do as London does, and to "go it a bit," and when he returned to the west, he took a new bonnet and shawl to Mrs. Hobnell, and relinquished, for country sports and occupations during the next eleven months, the elegant amusements of London life.
Sam Huxter kept up a correspondence with his relative, and supplied him with choice news of the metropolis, in return for the baskets of hares, partridges, and clouted cream which the squire and his good-natured wife forwarded to Sam. A youth more brilliant and distinguished they did not know. He was the life and soul of their house, when he made his appearance in his native place. His songs, jokes, and fun kept the Warren in a roar. He had saved their eldest darling's life, by taking a fish-bone out of her throat: in fine, he was the delight of their circle.
As ill-luck would have it, Pen again fell in with Mr. Huxter, only three days after the rencontre at Vauxhall. Faithful to his vow, he had not been to see little Fanny. He was trying to drive her from his mind by occupation, or other mental excitement. He laboured, though not to much profit, incessantly in his rooms; and, in his capacity of critic for the Pall Mall Gazette, made woful and savage onslaught on a poem and a romance which came before him for judgment. These authors slain, he went to dine alone at the lonely club of the Polyanthus, where the vast solitudes frightened him, and made him only the more moody. He had been to more theatres for relaxation. The whole house was roaring with laughter and applause, and he saw only an ignoble farce that made him sad. It would have damped the spirits of the buffoon on the stage to have seen Pen's dismal face. He hardly knew what was happening; the scene and the drama passed before him like a dream or a fever. Then he thought he would go to the Back Kitchen, his old haunt with Warrington—he was not a bit sleepy yet. The day before he had walked twenty miles in search after rest, over Hampstead Common and Hendon lanes, and had got no sleep at night. He would go to the Back Kitchen. It was a sort of comfort to him to think he should see Bows. Bows was there, very calm, presiding at the old piano. Some tremendous comic songs were sung, which made the room crack with laughter. How strange they seemed to Pen! He could only see Bows. In an extinct volcano, such as he boasted that his breast was, it was wonderful how he should feel such a flame! Two days' indulgence had kindled it; two days' abstinence had set it burning in fury. So, musing upon this, and drinking down one glass after another, as ill luck would have it, Arthur's eyes lighted upon Mr. Huxter, who had been to the theatre, like himself, and, with two or three comrades, now entered the room. Huxter whispered to his companions, greatly to Pen's annoyance. Arthur felt that the other was talking about him. Huxter then worked through the room, followed by his friends, and came and took a place opposite Pen, nodding familiarly to him, and holding him out a dirty hand to shake.
Pen shook hands with his fellow-townsman. He thought he had been needlessly savage to him on the last night when they had met. As for Huxter, perfectly at good-humour with himself, and the world, it never entered his mind that he could be disagreeable to anybody; and the little dispute, or "chaff," as he styled it, of Vauxhall, was a trifle which he did not in the least regard.
The disciple of Galen having called for "four stouts," with which he and his party refreshed themselves, began to think what would be the most amusing topic of conversation with Pen, and hit upon that precise one which was most painful to our young gentleman.
"Jolly night at Vauxhall—wasn't it?" he said, and winked in a very knowing way.
"I'm glad you liked it," poor Pen said, groaning in spirit.
"I was dev'lish cut—uncommon—been dining with some chaps at Greenwich. That was a pretty bit of muslin hanging on your arm—who was she?" asked the fascinating student.
The question was too much for Arthur. "Have I asked you any questions about yourself, Mr. Huxter?" he said.
"I didn't mean any offence—beg pardon—hang it, you cut up quite savage," said Pen's astonished interlocutor.
"Do you remember what took place between us the other night?" Pen asked, with gathering wrath. "You forget? Very probably. You were tipsy, as you observed just now, and very rude."
"Hang it, sir, I asked your pardon," Huxter said, looking red.
"You did certainly, and it was granted with all my heart. I am sure. But if you recollect, I begged that you would have the goodness to omit me from the list of your acquaintance for the future; and when we met in public, that you would not take the trouble to recognise me. Will you please to remember this, hereafter? and as the song is beginning, permit me to leave you to the unrestrained enjoyment of the music."
He took his hat, and making a bow to the amazed Mr. Huxter left the table, as Huxter's comrades, after a pause of wonder, set up such a roar of laughter at Huxter, as called for the intervention of the president of the room; who bawled out, "Silence, gentlemen; do have silence for the Body Snatcher!" which popular song began as Pen left the Back Kitchen. He flattered himself that he had commanded his temper perfectly. He rather wished that Huxter had been pugnacious. He would have liked to fight him or somebody. He went home. The day's work, the dinner, the play, the whisky-and-water, the quarrel,—nothing soothed him. He slept no better than on the previous night.
A few days afterwards, Mr. Sam Huxter wrote home a letter to Mr. Hobnell in the country, of which Mr. Arthur Pendennis formed the principal subject. Sam described Arthur's pursuits in London, and his confounded insolence of behaviour to his old friends from home. He said he was an abandoned criminal, a regular Don Juan, a fellow who, when he did come into the country, ought to be kept out of honest people's houses. He had seen him at Vauxhall, dancing with an innocent girl in the lower ranks of life, of whom he was making a victim. He had found out from an Irish gentleman (formerly in the army), who frequented a club of which he, Huxter, was member, who the girl was, on whom this conceited humbug was practising his infernal arts; and he thought he should warn her father, etc. etc.,—the letter then touched on general news, conveyed the writer's thanks for the last parcel and the rabbits, and hinted his extreme readiness for further favours.
About once a year, as we have stated, there was occasion for a christening at the Warren, and it happened that this ceremony took place a day after Hobnell had received the letter of his brother-in-law in town. The infant (a darling little girl) was christened Myra Lucretia, after its two godmothers, Miss Portman and Mrs. Pybus of Clavering, and as of course Hobnell had communicated Sam's letter to his wife, Mrs. Hobnell imparted its horrid contents to her two gossips. A pretty story it was, and prettily it was told throughout Clavering in the course of that day.
Myra did not—she was too much shocked to do so—speak on the matter to her mamma, but Mrs. Pybus had no such feelings of reserve. She talked over the matter not only with Mrs. Portman, but with Mr. and the Honourable Mrs. Simcoe, with Mrs. Glanders, her daughters being to that end ordered out of the room, with Madame Fribsby, and, in a word, with the whole of the Clavering society. Madame Fribsby looking furtively up at her picture of the dragoon, and inwards into her own wounded memory, said that men would be men, and as long as they were men would be deceivers; and she pensively quoted some lines from Marmion, requesting to know where deceiving lovers should rest? Mrs. Pybus had no words of hatred, horror, contempt, strong enough for a villain who could be capable of conduct so base. This was what came of early indulgence, and insolence, and extravagance, and aristocratic airs (it is certain that Pen had refused to drink tea with Mrs. Pybus), and attending the corrupt and horrid parties in the dreadful modern Babylon! Mrs. Portman was afraid that she must acknowledge that the mother's fatal partiality had spoiled this boy, that his literary successes had turned his head, and his horrid passions had made him forget the principles which Doctor Portman had instilled into him in early life. Glanders, the atrocious Captain of Dragoons, when informed of the occurrence by Mrs. Glanders, whistled and made jocular allusions to it at dinner-time; on which Mrs. Glanders called him a brute, and ordered the girls again out of the room, as the horrid Captain burst out laughing. Mr. Simcoe was calm under the intelligence; but rather pleased than otherwise; it only served to confirm the opinion which he had always had of that wretched young man: not that he knew anything about him—not that he had read one line of his dangerous and poisonous works; Heaven forbid that he should: but what could be expected from such a youth, and such frightful, such lamentable, such deplorable want of seriousness? Pen formed the subject for a second sermon at the Clavering chapel-of-ease: where the dangers of London, and the crime of reading or writing novels, were pointed out on a Sunday evening to a large and warm congregation. They did not wait to hear whether he was guilty or not. They took his wickedness for granted: and with these admirable moralists, it was who should fling the stone at poor Pen.
The next day Mrs. Pendennis, alone and almost fainting with emotion and fatigue, walked or rather ran to Dr. Portman's house to consult the good Doctor. She had had an anonymous letter;—some Christian had thought it his or her duty to stab the good soul who had never done mortal a wrong—an anonymous letter with references to Scripture, pointing out the doom of such sinners and a detailed account of Pen's crime. She was in a state of terror and excitement pitiable to witness. Two or three hours of this pain had aged her already. In her first moment of agitation she had dropped the letter, and Laura had read it. Laura blushed when she read it; her whole frame trembled, but it was with anger. "The cowards," she said.—It isn't true.—No, mother, it isn't true."
"It is true, and you've done it, Laura," cried out Helen fiercely. "Why did you refuse him when he asked you? Why did you break my heart and refuse him? It is you who led him into crime. It is you who flung him into the arms of this—this woman.—Don't speak to me.—Don't answer me. I will never forgive you, never. Martha, bring me my bonnet and shawl. I'll go out. I won't have you come with me. Go away. Leave me, cruel girl; why have you brought this shame on me?" And bidding her daughter and her servants keep away from her, she ran down the road to Clavering.
Doctor Portman, glancing over the letter, thought he knew the handwriting, and, of course, was already acquainted with the charge made against poor Pen. Against his own conscience, perhaps (for the worthy Doctor, like most of us, had a considerable natural aptitude for receiving any report unfavourable to his neighbours), he strove to console Helen; he pointed out that the slander came from an anonymous quarter, and therefore must be the work of a rascal; that the charge might not be true—was not true, most likely—at least, that Pen must be heard before he was condemned; that the son of such a mother was not likely to commit such a crime, etc. etc.
Helen at once saw through his feint of objection and denial. "You think he has done it," she said,—"you know you think he has done it. Oh, why did I ever leave him, Doctor Portman, or suffer him away from me? But he can't be dishonest—pray God, not dishonest—you don't think that, do you? Remember his conduct about that other—person—how madly he was attached to her. He was an honest boy then—he is now. And I thank God—yes, I fall down on my knees and thank God he paid Laura. You said he was good—you did yourself. And now—if this woman loves him—and you know they must—if he has taken her from her home, or she tempted him, which is most likely—why still, she must be his wife and my daughter. And he must leave the dreadful world and come back to me—to his mother, Doctor Portman. Let us go away and bring him back—yes—bring him back—and there shall be joy for the—the sinner that repenteth. Let us go now, directly, dear friend—this very——"
Helen could say no more. She fell back and fainted. She was carried to a bed in the house of the pitying Doctor, and the surgeon was called to attend her. She lay all night in an alarming state. Laura came to her, or to the rectory rather; for she would not see Laura. And Doctor Portman, still beseeching her to be tranquil, and growing bolder and more confident of Arthur's innocence as he witnessed the terrible grief of the poor mother, wrote a letter to Pen warning him of the rumours that were against him and earnestly praying that he would break off and repent of a connexion so fatal to his best interests and his soul's welfare.
And Laura?—was her heart not wrung by the thought of Arthur's crime and Helen's estrangement? Was it not a bitter blow for the innocent girl to think that at one stroke she should lose all the love which she cared for in the world?
CHAPTER LII. Which had very nearly been the last of the Story
Doctor Portman's letter was sent off to its destination in London, and the worthy clergyman endeavoured to soothe down Mrs. Pendennis into some state of composure until an answer should arrive, which the Doctor tried to think, or at any rate persisted in saying, would be satisfactory as regarded the morality of Mr. Pen. At least Helen's wisdom of moving upon London and appearing in person to warn her son of his wickedness, was impracticable for a day or two. The apothecary forbade her moving even so far as Fairoaks for the first day, and it was not until the subsequent morning that she found herself again back on her sofa at home, with the faithful, though silent, Laura nursing at her side.
Unluckily for himself and all parties, Pen never read that homily which Doctor Portman addressed to him, until many weeks after the epistle had been composed; and day after day the widow waited for her son's reply to the charges against him; her own illness increasing with every day's delay. It was a hard task for Laura to bear the anxiety; to witness her dearest friend's suffering; worst of all, to support Helen's estrangement, and the pain caused to her by that averted affection. But it was the custom of this young lady to the utmost of her power, and by means of that gracious assistance which Heaven awarded to her pure and constant prayers, to do her duty. And; as that duty was performed quite noiselessly,—while the supplications, which endowed her with the requisite strength for fulfilling it, also took place in her own chamber, away from all mortal sight,—we, too, must be perforce silent about these virtues of hers, which no more bear public talking about, than a flower will bear to bloom in a ballroom. This only we will say—that a good woman is the loveliest flower that blooms under heaven; and that we look with love and wonder upon its silent grace, its pure fragrance, its delicate bloom of beauty. Sweet and beautiful!—the fairest and the most spotless!—is it not pity to see them bowed down or devoured by Grief or Death inexorable—wasting in disease—pining with long pain—or cut off by sudden fate in their prime? We may deserve grief—but why should these be unhappy?—except that we know that Heaven chastens those whom it loves best; being pleased, by repeated trials, to make these pure spirits more pure.
So Pen never got the letter, although it was duly posted and faithfully discharged by the postman into his letter-box in Lamb Court, and thence carried by the laundress to his writing-table with the rest of his lordship's correspondence; into which room, have we not seen a picture of him, entering from his little bedroom adjoining, as Mrs. Flanagan, his laundress, was in the act of drinking his gin?
Those kind readers who have watched Mr. Arthur's career hitherto, and have made, as they naturally would do, observations upon the moral character and peculiarities of their acquaintance, have probably discovered by this time what was the prevailing fault in Mr. Pen's disposition, and who was that greatest enemy, artfully indicated in the title-page, with whom he had to contend. Not a few of us, my beloved public, have the very same rascal to contend with: a scoundrel who takes every opportunity of bringing us into mischief, of plunging us into quarrels, of leading us into idleness and unprofitable company, and what not. In a word, Pen's greatest enemy was himself: and as he had been pampering, and coaxing, and indulging that individual all his life, the rogue grew insolent, as all spoiled servants will be; and at the slightest attempt to coerce him, or make him do that which was unpleasant to him, became frantically rude and unruly. A person who is used to making sacrifices—Laura, for instance, who had got such a habit of giving up her own pleasure for others—can do the business quite easily; but Pen, unaccustomed as he was to any sort of self-denial, suffered woundily when called on to pay his share, and savagely grumbled at being obliged to forgo anything he liked.
He had resolved in his mighty mind then that he would not see Fanny; and he wouldn't. He tried to drive the thoughts of that fascinating little person out of his head, by constant occupation, by exercise, by dissipation and society. He worked then too much; he walked and rode too much; he ate, drank, and smoked too much: nor could all the cigars and the punch of which he partook drive little Fanny's image out of his inflamed brain, and at the end of a week of this discipline and self-denial our young gentleman was in bed with a fever. Let the reader who has never had a fever in chambers pity the wretch who is bound to undergo that calamity.
A committee of marriageable ladies, or of any Christian persons interested in the propagation of the domestic virtues, should employ a Cruikshank or a Leech, or some other kindly expositor of the follies of the day, to make a series of designs representing the horrors of a bachelor's life in chambers, and leading the beholder to think of better things, and a more wholesome condition. What can be more uncomfortable than the bachelor's lonely breakfast?—with the black kettle in the dreary fire in midsummer; or, worse still, with the fire gone out at Christmas, half an hour after the laundress has quitted the sitting-room? Into this solitude the owner enters shivering, and has to commence his day by hunting for coals and wood; and before he begins the work of a student, has to discharge the duties of a housemaid, vice Mrs. Flanagan, who is absent without leave. Or, again, what can form a finer subject for the classical designer than the bachelor's shirt—that garment which he wants to assume just at dinner-time, and which he finds without any buttons to fasten it? Then there is the bachelor's return to chambers, after a merry Christmas holiday, spent in a cosy country-house, full of pretty faces, and kind welcomes and regrets. He leaves his portmanteau at the barber's in the Court: he lights his dismal old candle at the sputtering little lamp on the stair: he enters the blank familiar room, where the only tokens to greet him, that show any interest in his personal welfare, are the Christmas bills, which are lying in wait for him, amiably spread out on his reading-table. Add to these scenes an appalling picture of bachelor's illness, and the rents in the Temple will begin to fall from the day of the publication of the dismal diorama. To be well in chambers is melancholy, and lonely and selfish enough; but to be ill in chambers—to pass long nights of pain and watchfulness—to long for the morning and the laundress—to serve yourself your own medicine by your own watch—to have no other companion for long hours but your own sickening fancies and fevered thoughts: no kind hand to give you drink if you are thirsty, or to smooth the hot pillow that crumples under you,—this, indeed, is a fate so dismal and tragic, that we shall not enlarge upon its horrors, and shall only heartily pity those bachelors in the Temple, who brave it every day.
This lot befell Arthur Pendennis after the various excesses which we have mentioned, and to which he had subjected his unfortunate brains. One night he went to bed ill, and the next day awoke worse. His only visitor that day, besides the laundress, was the Printer's Devil, from the Pall Mall Gazette office, whom the writer endeavoured, as best he could, to satisfy. His exertions to complete his work rendered his fever the greater: he could only furnish a part of the quantity of "copy" usually supplied by him; and Shandon being absent, and Warrington not in London to give a help, the political and editorial columns of the Gazette looked very blank indeed; nor did the sub-editor know how to fill them.
Mr. Finucane rushed up to Pen's chambers, and found that gentleman so exceedingly unwell, that the good-natured Irishman set to work to supply his place, if possible, and produced a series of political and critical compositions, such as no doubt greatly edified the readers of the periodical in which he and Pen were concerned. Allusions to the greatness of Ireland, and the genius and virtue of the inhabitants of that injured country, flowed magnificently from Finucane's pen; and Shandon, the Chief of the paper, who was enjoying himself placidly at Boulogne-sur-Mer, looking over the columns of the journal, which was forwarded to him, instantly recognised the hand of the great Sub-editor, and said, laughing, as he flung over the paper to his wife, "Look here, Mary, my dear, here is Jack at work again." Indeed, Jack was a warm friend, and a gallant partisan, and when he had the pen in hand, seldom let slip an opportunity of letting the world know that Rafferty was the greatest painter in Europe, and wondering at the petty jealousy of the Academy, which refused to make him an R.A.: of stating that it was generally reported at the West End, that Mr. Rooney, M.P., was appointed Governor of Barataria; or of introducing into the subject in hand, whatever it might be, a compliment to the Round Towers, or the Giant's Causeway. And besides doing Pen's work for him, to the best of his ability, his kind-hearted comrade offered to forgo his Saturday's and Sunday's holiday, and pass those days of holiday and rest as nurse-tender to Arthur, who, however, insisted, that the other should not forgo his pleasure, and thankfully assured him that he could bear best his malady alone.
Taking his supper at the Back Kitchen on the Friday night, after having achieved the work of the paper, Finucane informed Captain Costigan of the illness of their young friend in the Temple; and remembering the fact two days afterwards, the Captain went to Lamb Court and paid a visit to the invalid on Sunday afternoon.
He found Mrs. Flanagan, the laundress, in tears in the sitting-room, and got a bad report of the poor dear young gentleman within. Pen's condition had so much alarmed her, that she was obliged to have recourse to the stimulus of brandy to enable her to support the grief which his illness occasioned. As she hung about his bed, and endeavoured to minister to him, her attentions became intolerable to the invalid, and he begged her peevishly not to come near him. Hence the laundress's tears and redoubled grief, and renewed application to the bottle, which she was accustomed to use as an anodyne. The Captain rated the woman soundly for her intemperance, and pointed out to her the fatal consequences which must ensue if she persisted in her imprudent courses.
Pen, who was by this time in a very fevered state, yet was greatly pleased to receive Costigan's visit. He heard the ell-known voice in his sitting-room, as he lay in the bedroom within, and called the Captain eagerly to him, and thanked him for coming, and begged him to take a chair and talk to him. The Captain felt the young man's pulse with great gravity—(his own tremulous and clammy hand growing steady for the instant while his finger pressed Arthur's throbbing vein)—the pulse was beating very fiercely—Pen's face was haggard and hot—his eyes were bloodshot and gloomy; his "bird," as the Captain pronounced the word, afterwards giving a description of his condition, had not been shaved for nearly a week. Pen made his visitor sit down, and, tossing and turning in his comfortless bed, began to try and talk to the Captain in a lively manner, about the Back Kitchen, about Vauxhall and when they should go again, and about Fanny—how was little Fanny?
Indeed how was she? We know how she went home very sadly on the previous Sunday evening, after she had seen Arthur light his lamp in his chambers, whilst he was having his interview with Bows. Bows came back to his own rooms presently, passing by the lodge door, and looking into Mrs. Bolton's, according to his wont, as he passed, but with a very melancholy face. She had another weary night that night. Her restlessness wakened her little bedfellows more than once. She daren't read more of 'Walter Lorraine:' Father was at home, and would suffer no light. She kept the book under her pillow, and felt for it in the night. She had only just got to sleep, when the children began to stir with the morning, almost as early as the birds. Though she was very angry with Bows, she went to his room at her accustomed hour in the day, and there the good-hearted musician began to talk to her.
"I saw Mr. Pendennis last night, Fanny," he said.
"Did you? I thought you did," Fanny answered, looking fiercely at the melancholy old gentleman.
"I've been fond of you ever since we came to live in this place," he continued. "You were a child when I came; and you used to like me, Fanny, until three or four days ago: until you saw this gentleman."
"And now, I suppose, you are going to say ill of him," said Fanny. "Do, Mr. Bows—that will make me like you better."
"Indeed I shall do no such thing," Bows answered; "I think he is a very good and honest young man."
"Indeed! you know that if you said a word against him, I would never speak a word to you again—never!" cried Miss Fanny; and clenched her little hand, and paced up and down the room. Bows noted, watched, and followed the ardent little creature with admiration and gloomy sympathy. Her cheeks flushed, her frame trembled; her eyes beamed love, anger, defiance. "You would like to speak ill of him," she said; "but you daren't—you know you daren't!"
"I knew him many years since," Bows continued, "when he was almost as young as you are, and he had a romantic attachment for our friend the Captain's daughter—Lady Mirabel that is now."
Fanny laughed. "I suppose there was other people, too, that had romantic attachments for Miss Costigan," she said: "I don't want to hear about 'em."
"He wanted to marry her; but their ages were quite disproportionate: and their rank in life. She would not have him because he had no money. She acted very wisely in refusing him; for the two would have been very unhappy, and she wasn't a fit person to go and live with his family, or to make his home comfortable. Mr. Pendennis has his way to make in the world, and must marry a lady of his own rank. A woman who loves a man will not ruin his prospects, cause him to quarrel with his family, and lead him into poverty and misery for her gratification. An honest girl won't do that, for her own sake, or for the man's."
Fanny's emotion, which but now had been that of defiance and anger, here turned to dismay and supplication. "What do I know about marrying, Bows?" she said. "When was there any talk of it? What has there been between this young gentleman and me that's to make people speak so cruel? It was not my doing; nor Arthur's—Mr. Pendennis's—that I met him at Vauxhall. It was the Captain took me and Ma there. We never thought of nothing wrong, I'm sure. He came and rescued us, and he was so very kind. Then he came to call and ask after us: and very, very good it was of a such grand gentleman to be so polite to humble folks like us! And yesterday Ma and me just went to walk in the Temple Gardens, and—and"—here she broke out with that usual, unanswerable female argument of tears—and cried, "Oh! I wish I was dead! I wish I was laid in my grave; and had never, never seen him!"
"He said as much himself, Fanny," Bows said; and Fanny asked through her sobs, Why, why should he wish he had never seen her? Had she ever done him any harm? Oh, she would perish rather than do him any harm. Whereupon the musician informed her of the conversation of the day previous, showed her that Pen could not and must not think of her as a wife fitting for him, and that she, as she valued her honest reputation, must strive too to forget him. And Fanny, leaving the musician, convinced, but still of the same mind, and promising that she would avoid the danger which menaced her, went back to the porter's lodge, and told her mother all. She talked of her love for Arthur, and bewailed, in her artless manner, the inequality of their condition, that set barriers between them. "There's the 'Lady of Lyons,'" Fanny said; "Oh, Ma! how I did love Mr. Macready when I saw him do it; and Pauline, for being faithful to poor Claude, and always thinking of him; and he coming back to her, an officer, through all his dangers! And if everybody admires Pauline—and I'm sure everybody does, for being so true to a poor man—why should a gentleman be ashamed of loving a poor girl? Not that Mr. Arthur loves me—Oh no, no! I ain't worthy of him; only a princess is worthy of such a gentleman as him. Such a poet!—writing so beautifully, and looking so grand! I am sure he's a nobleman, and of ancient family, and kep' out of his estate. Perhaps his uncle has it. Ah, if I might, oh, how I'd serve him, and work for him, and slave for him, that I would. I wouldn't ask for more than that, Ma, just to be allowed to see him of a morning; and sometimes he'd say 'How d'you, Fanny?' or 'God bless you, Fanny!' as he said on Sunday. And I'd work, and work; and I'd sit up all night, and read, and learn, and make myself worthy of him. The Captain says his mother lives in the country, and is a grand lady there. Oh, how I wish I might go and be her servant, Ma! I can do plenty of things, and work very neat; and—and sometimes he'd come home, and I should see him!"
The girl's head fell on her mother's shoulder, as she spoke, and she gave way to a plentiful outpouring of girlish tears, to which the matron, of course, joined her own. "You mustn't think no more of him, Fanny," she said. "If he don't come to you, he's a horrid, wicked man."
"Don't call him so, Mother," Fanny replied. "He's the best of men, the best and the kindest. Bows says he thinks he is unhappy at leaving poor little Fanny. It wasn't his fault, was it, that we met?—and it ain't his that I mustn't see him again. He says I mustn't—and I mustn't, Mother. He'll forget me, but I shall never forget him. No! I'll pray for him, and love him always—until I die—and I shall die, I know I shall—and then my spirit will always go and be with him."
"You forget your poor mother, Fanny, and you'll break my heart by goin on so," Mrs. Bolton said. "Perhaps you will see him. I'm sure you'll see him. I'm sure he'll come to-day. If ever I saw a man in love, that man is him. When Emily Budd's young man first came about her, he was sent away by old Budd, a most respectable man, and violoncello in the orchestra at the Wells; and his own family wouldn't hear of it neither. But he came back. We all knew he would. Emily always said so; and he married her; and this one will come back too; and you mark a mother's words, and see if he don't, dear."
At this point of the conversation Mr. Bolton entered the lodge for his evening meal. At the father's appearance, the talk between mother and daughter ceased instantly. Mrs. Bolton caressed and cajoled the surly undertaker's aide-de-camp, and said, "Lor, Mr. B. who'd have thought to see you away from the Club of a Saturday night. Fanny, dear, get your pa some supper. What will you have, B.? The poor gurl's got a gathering in her eye, or somethink in it—I was lookin at it just now as you came in." And she squeezed her daughter's hand as a signal of prudence and secrecy; and Fanny's tears were dried up likewise; and by that wondrous hypocrisy and power of disguise which women practise, and with which weapons of defence nature endows them, the traces of her emotion disappeared; and she went and took her work, and sate in the corner so demure and quiet, that the careless male parent never suspected that anything ailed her.
Thus, as if fate seemed determined to inflame and increase the poor child's malady and passion, all circumstances and all parties round about her urged it on. Her mother encouraged and applauded it; and the very words which Bows used in endeavouring to repress her flame only augmented this unlucky fever. Pen was not wicked and a seducer: Pen was high-minded in wishing to avoid her. Pen loved her: the good and the great, the magnificent youth, with the chains of gold and the scented auburn hair! And so he did: or so he would have loved her five years back perhaps, before the world had hardened the ardent and reckless boy—before he was ashamed of a foolish and imprudent passion, and strangled it as poor women do their illicit children, not on account of the crime, but of the shame, and from dread that the finger of the world should point to them.
What respectable person in the world will not say he was quite right to avoid a marriage with an ill-educated person of low degree, whose relations a gentleman could not well acknowledge, and whose manners would not become her new station?—and what philosopher would not tell him that the best thing to do with these little passions if they spring up, is to get rid of them, and let them pass over and cure them: that no man dies about a woman or vice versa: and that one or the other having found the impossibility of gratifying his or her desire in the particular instance, must make the best of matters, forget each other, look out elsewhere, and choose again? And yet, perhaps, there may be something said on the other side. Perhaps Bows was right in admiring that passion of Pen's, blind and unreasoning as it was, that made him ready to stake his all for his love; perhaps if self-sacrifice is a laudable virtue, mere worldly self-sacrifice is not very much to be praised;—in fine, let this be a reserved point to be settled by the individual moralist who chooses to debate it.
So much is certain, that with the experience of the world which Mr. Pen now had, he would have laughed at and scouted the idea of marrying a penniless girl out of a kitchen. And this point being fixed in his mind, he was but doing his duty as an honest man, in crushing any unlucky fondness which he might feel towards poor little Fanny.
So she waited and waited in hopes that Arthur would come. She waited for a whole week, and it was at the end of that time that the poor little creature heard from Costigan of the illness under which Arthur was suffering.
It chanced on that very evening after Costigan had visited Pen, that Arthur's uncle the excellent Major arrived in town from Buxton, where his health had been mended, and sent his valet Morgan to make inquiries for Arthur, and to request that gentleman to breakfast with the Major the next morning. The Major was merely passing through London on his way to the Marquis of Steyne's house of Stillbrook, where he was engaged to shoot partridges.
Morgan came back to his master with a very long face. He had seen Mr. Arthur; Mr. Arthur was very bad indeed; Mr. Arthur was in bed with a fever. A doctor ought to be sent to him; and Morgan thought his case most alarming.
Gracious goodness! this was sad news indeed. He had hoped that Arthur could come down to Stillbrook: he had arranged that he should go, and procured an invitation for his nephew from Lord Steyne. He must go himself; he couldn't throw Lord Steyne over: the fever might be catching: it might be measles: he had never himself had the measles; they were dangerous when contracted at his age. Was anybody with Mr. Arthur?
Morgan said there was somebody a-nussing of Mr. Arthur.
The Major then asked, had his nephew taken any advice? Morgan said he had asked that question, and had been told that Mr. Pendennis had had no doctor.
Morgan's master was sincerely vexed at hearing of Arthur's calamity. He would have gone to him, but what good could it do Arthur that he, the Major, should catch a fever? His own ailments rendered it absolutely impossible that he should attend to anybody but himself. But the young man must have advice—the best advice; and Morgan was straightway despatched with a note from Major Pendennis to his friend Doctor Goodenough, who by good luck happened to be in London and at home, and who quitted his dinner instantly, and whose carriage was in half an hour in Upper Temple Lane, near Pen's chambers.
The Major had asked the kind-hearted physician to bring him news of his nephew at the Club where he himself was dining, and in the course of the night the Doctor made his appearance. The affair was very serious: the patient was in a high fever: he had had Pen bled instantly: and would see him the first thing in the morning. The Major went disconsolate to bed with this unfortunate news. When Goodenough came to see him according to his promise the next day, the Doctor had to listen for a quarter of an hour to an account of the Major's own maladies, before the latter had leisure to hear about Arthur.
He had had a very bad night—his—his nurse said: at one hour he had been delirious. It might end badly: his mother had better be sent for immediately. The Major wrote the letter to Mrs. Pendennis with the greatest alacrity, and at the same time with the most polite precautions. As for going himself to the lad, in his state it was impossible. "Could I be of any use to him, my dear Doctor?" he asked.
The Doctor, with a peculiar laugh, said, No: he didn't think the Major could be of any use: that his own precious health required the most delicate treatment, and that he had best go into the country and stay: that he himself would take care to see the patient twice a day, and do all in his power for him.
The Major declared upon his honour, that if he could be of any use he would rush to Pen's chambers. As it was, Morgan should go and see that everything was right. The Doctor must write to him by every post to Stillbrook: it was but forty miles distant from London, and if anything happened he would come up at any sacrifice.
Major Pendennis transacted his benevolence by deputy and by post. "What else could he do," as he said? "Gad, you know, in these cases, it's best not disturbing a fellow. If a poor fellow goes to the bad, why, Gad, you know he's disposed of. But in order to get well (and in this, my dear Doctor, I'm sure that you will agree with me), the best way is to keep him quiet—perfectly quiet."
Thus it was the old gentleman tried to satisfy his conscience and he went his way that day to Stillbrook by railway (for railways have sprung up in the course of this narrative, though they have not quite penetrated into Pen's country yet), and made his appearance in his usual trim order and curly wig, at the dinner-table of the Marquis of Steyne. But we must do the Major the justice to say, that he was very unhappy and gloomy in demeanour. Wagg and Wenham rallied him about his low spirits; asked whether he was crossed in love? and otherwise diverted themselves at his expense. He lost his money at whist after dinner, and actually trumped his partner's highest spade. And the thoughts of the suffering boy, of whom he was proud, and whom he loved after his manner, kept the old fellow awake half through the night, and made him feverish and uneasy.
On the morrow he received a note in a handwriting which he did not know: it was that of Mr. Bows, indeed, saying that Mr. Arthur Pendennis had had a tolerable night; and that as Dr. Goodenough had stated that the Major desired to be informed of his nephew's health, he, R. B., had sent him the news per rail.
The next day he was going out shooting, about noon, with some of the gentlemen staying at Lord Steyne's house; and the company, waiting for the carriages, were assembled on the terrace in front of the house, when a fly drove up from the neighbouring station, and a grey-headed, rather shabby old gentleman jumped out, and asked for Major Pendennis. It was Mr. Bows. He took the Major aside and spoke to him; most of the gentlemen round about saw that something serious had happened, from the alarmed look of the Major's face.
Wagg said, "It's a bailiff come down to nab the Major," but nobody laughed at the pleasantry.
"Hullo! What's the matter, Pendennis?" cried Lord Steyne, with his strident voice;—"anything wrong?"
"It's—it's—my boy that's dead," said the Major, and burst into a sob—the old man was quite overcome.
"Not dead, my Lord; but very ill when I left London," Mr. Bows said, in a low voice.
A britzka came up at this moment as the three men were speaking. The Peer looked at his watch. "You've twenty minutes to catch the mail-train. Jump in, Pendennis; and drive like h—-, sir, do you hear?"
The carriage drove off swiftly with Pendennis and his companions, and let us trust that the oath will be pardoned to the Marquis of Steyne.
The Major drove rapidly from the station to the Temple, and found a travelling carriage already before him, and blocking up the narrow Temple Lane. Two ladies got out of it, and were asking their way of the porters; the Major looked by chance at the panel of the carriage, and saw the worn-out crest of the Eagle looking at the Sun, and the motto, "Nec tenui penna," painted beneath. It was his brother's old carriage, built many, many years ago. It was Helen and Laura that were asking their way to Pen's room.
He ran up to them; hastily clasped his sister's arm and kissed her hand; and the three entered into Lamb Court, and mounted the long gloomy stair.
They knocked very gently at the door, on which Arthur's name was written, and it was opened by Fanny Bolton.
CHAPTER LIII. A critical Chapter
As Fanny saw the two ladies and the anxious countenance of the eider, who regarded her with a look of inscrutable alarm and terror, the poor girl at once knew that Pen's mother was before her; there was a resemblance between the widow's haggard eyes and Arthur's as he tossed in his bed in fever. Fanny looked wistfully at Mrs. Pendennis and at Laura afterwards; there was no more expression in the latter's face than if it had been a mass of stone. Hard-heartedness and gloom dwelt on the figures of both the new-comers; neither showed any the faintest gleam of mercy or sympathy for Fanny. She looked desperately from them to the Major behind them. Old Pendennis dropped his eyelids, looking up ever so stealthily from under them at Arthur's poor little nurse.
"I—I wrote to you yesterday, if you please, ma'am," Fanny said, trembling in every limb as she spoke; and as pale as Laura, whose sad menacing face looked over Mrs. Pendennis's shoulder.
"Did you, madam?" Mrs. Pendennis said. "I suppose I may now relieve you from nursing my son. I am his mother, you understand."
"Yes, ma'am. I—this is the way to his—Oh, wait a minute," cried out Fanny. "I must prepare you for his——"
The widow, whose face had been hopelessly cruel and ruthless, here started back with a gasp and a little cry, which she speedily stifled.
"He's been so since yesterday," Fanny said, trembling very much, and with chattering teeth.
A horrid shriek of laughter came out of Pen's room, whereof the door was open; and, after several shouts, the poor wretch began to sing a college drinking-song, and then to hurray and to shout as if he was in the midst of a wine-party, and to thump with his fist against the wainscot. He was quite delirious.
"He does not know me, ma'am," Fanny said.
"Indeed. Perhaps he will know his mother; let me pass, if you please, and go in to him." And the widow hastily pushed by little Fanny, and through the dark passage which led into Pen's sitting-room. Laura sailed by Fanny, too, without a word; and Major Pendennis followed them. Fanny sat down on a bench in the passage, and cried, and prayed as well as she could. She would have died for him; and they hated her. They had not a word of thanks or kindness for her, the fine ladies. She sate there in the passage, she did not know how long. They never came out to speak to her. She sate there until Doctor Goodenough came to pay his second visit that day; he found the poor little thing at the door.
"What, nurse? How's your patient?" asked the good-natured Doctor. "Has he had any rest?"
"Go and ask them. They're inside," Fanny answered.
"Who? his mother?"
Fanny nodded her head and didn't speak.
"You must go to bed yourself, my poor little maid," said the Doctor. "You will be ill, too, if you don't."
"Oh, mayn't I come and see him: mayn't I come and see him! I—I—love him so," the little girl said; and as she spoke she fell down on her knees and clasped hold of the Doctor's hand in such an agony that to see her melted the kind physician's heart, and caused a mist to come over his spectacles.
"Pooh, pooh! Nonsense! Nurse, has he taken his draught? Has he had any rest? Of course you must come and see him. So must I."
"They'll let me sit here, won't they, sir? I'll never make no noise. I only ask to stop here," Fanny said. On which the Doctor called her a stupid little thing; put her down upon the bench where Pen's printer's devil used to sit so many hours; tapped her pale cheek with his finger, and bustled into the farther room.
Mrs. Pendennis was ensconced pale and solemn in a great chair by Pen's bedside. Her watch was on the bed-table by Pen's medicines. Her bonnet and cloaks were laid in the window. She had her Bible in her lap, without which she never travelled. Her first movement, after seeing her son, had been to take Fanny's shawl and bonnet which were on his drawers, and bring them out and drop them down upon his study-table. She had closed the door upon Major Pendennis, and Laura too; and taken possession of her son.
She had had a great doubt and terror lest Arthur should not know her; but that pang was spared to her in part at least. Pen knew his mother quite well, and familiarly smiled and nodded at her. When she came in, he instantly fancied that they were at home at Fairoaks; and began to talk and chatter and laugh in a rambling wild way. Laura could hear him outside. His laughter shot shafts of poison into her heart. It was true, then. He had been guilty—and with that creature!—an intrigue with a servant-maid, and she had loved him—and he was dying most likely raving and unrepentant. The Major now and then hummed out a word of remark or consolation, which Laura scarce heard.
A dismal sitting it was for all parties; and when Goodenough appeared, he came like an angel into the room.
It is not only for the sick man, it is for the sick man's friends that the Doctor comes. His presence is often as good for them as for the patient, and they long for him yet more eagerly. How we have all watched after him! what an emotion the thrill of his carriage-wheels in the street, and at length at the door, has made us feel! how we hang upon his words, and what a comfort we get from a smile or two, if he can vouchsafe that sunshine to lighten our darkness! Who hasn't seen the mother prying into his face, to know if there is hope for the sick infant that cannot speak, and that lies yonder, its little frame battling with fever? Ah how she looks into his eyes! What thanks if there is light there; what grief and pain if he casts them down, and dares not say "hope!" Or it is the house-father who is stricken. The terrified wife looks on, while the Physician feels his patient's wrist, smothering her agonies, as the children have been called upon to stay their plays and their talk. Over the patient in the fever, the wife expectant, the children unconscious, the Doctor stands as if he were Fate, the dispenser of life and death: he must let the patient off this time: the woman prays so for his respite! One can fancy how awful the responsibility must be to a conscientious man: how cruel the feeling that he has given the wrong remedy, or that it might have been possible to do better: how harassing the sympathy with survivors, if the case is unfortunate—how immense the delight of victory!
Having passed through a hasty ceremony of introduction to the new-comers, of whose arrival he had been made aware by the heartbroken little nurse in waiting without, the Doctor proceeded to examine the patient, about whose condition of high fever there could be no mistake, and on whom he thought it necessary to exercise the strongest antiphlogistic remedies in his power. He consoled the unfortunate mother as best he might; and giving her the most comfortable assurances on which he could venture, that there was no reason to despair yet, that everything might still be hoped from his youth, the strength of his constitution, and so forth; and having done his utmost to allay the horrors of the alarmed matron, he took the elder Pendennis aside into the vacant room (Warrington's bedroom), for the purpose of holding a little consultation.
The case was very critical. The fever, if not stopped, might and would carry off the young fellow: he must be bled forthwith: the mother must be informed of this necessity. Why was that other young lady brought with her? She was out of place in a sick-room.
"And there was another woman still, be hanged to it!" the Major said, "the—the little person who opened the door." His sister-in-law had brought the poor little devil's bonnet and shawl out, flung them upon the study-table. Did Goodenough know anything about the—the little person? "I just caught a glimpse of her as we passed in," the Major said, "and begad she was uncommonly nice-looking." The Doctor looked queer: the Doctor smiled—in the very gravest moments, with life and death pending, such strange contrasts and occasions of humour will arise, and such smiles will pass, to satirise the gloom, as it were, and to make it more gloomy!
"I have it," at last he said, re-entering the study; and he wrote a couple of notes hastily at the table there, and sealed one of them. Then, taking up poor Fanny's shawl and bonnet, and the notes, he went out in the passage to that poor little messenger, and said, "Quick, nurse; you must carry this to the surgeon, and bid him come instantly; and then go to my house, and ask for my servant Harbottle, and tell him to get this prescription prepared, and wait until I—until it is ready. It may take a little in preparation."
So poor Fanny trudged away with her two notes, and found the apothecary, who lived in the Strand hard by, and who came straightway, his lancet in his pocket, to operate on his patient; and then Fanny made for the Doctor's house, in Hanover Square.
The Doctor was at home again before the prescription was made up, which took Harbottle, his servant, such a long time in compounding; and, during the remainder of Arthur's illness, poor Fanny never made her appearance in the quality of nurse at his chambers any more. But for that day and the next, a little figure might be seen lurking about Pen's staircase,—a sad, sad little face looked at and interrogated the apothecary, and the apothecary's boy, and the laundress, and the kind physician himself, as they passed out of the chambers of the sick man. And on the third day, the kind Doctor's chariot stopped at Shepherd's Inn, and the good, and honest, and benevolent man went into the porter's lodge, and tended a little patient whom he had there, for the best remedy he found was on the day when he was enabled to tell Fanny Bolton that the crisis was over, and that there was at length every hope for Arthur Pendennis.
J. Costigan, Esquire, late of Her Majesty's service, saw the Doctor's carriage, and criticised its horses and appointments. "Green liveries, bedad!" the General said, "and as foin a pair of high-stepping bee horses as ever a gentleman need sit behoind, let alone a docthor. There's no ind to the proide and ar'gance of them docthors, nowadays—not but that is a good one, and a scoientific cyarkter, and a roight good fellow, bedad; and he's brought the poor little girl well troo her faver, Bows, me boy;" and so pleased was Mr. Costigan with the Doctor's behaviour and skill, that, whenever he met Dr. Goodenough's carriage in future, he made a point of saluting it and the physician inside, in as courteous and magnificent a manner, as if Dr. Goodenough had been the Lord Liftenant himself, and Captain Costigan had been in his glory in Phaynix Park.
The widow's gratitude to the physician knew no bounds—or scarcely any bounds, at least. The kind gentleman laughed at the idea of taking a fee from a literary man, or the widow of a brother practitioner; and she determined when she got to Fairoaks that she would send Goodenough the silver-gilt vase, the jewel of the house, and the glory of the late John Pendennis, preserved in green baize, and presented to him at Bath, by the Lady Elizabeth Firebrace, on the recovery of her son, the late Sir Anthony Firebrace, from the scarlet fever. Hippocrates, Hygeia, King Bladud, and a wreath of serpents surmount the cup to this day; which was executed in their finest manner by Messrs. Abednego, of Milsom Street; and the inscription was by Mr. Birch, tutor to the young baronet.
This priceless gem of art the widow determined to devote to Goodenough, the preserver of her son; and there was scarcely any other favour which her gratitude would not have conferred upon him, except one, which he desired most, and which was that she should think a little charitably and kindly of poor Fanny, of whose artless, sad story he had got something during his interviews with her, and of whom he was induced to think very kindly,—not being disposed, indeed, to give much credit to Pen for his conduct in the affair, or not knowing what that conduct had been. He knew enough, however, to be aware that the poor infatuated little girl was without stain as yet; that while she had been in Pen's room it was to see the last of him, as she thought, and that Arthur was scarcely aware of her presence; and that she suffered under the deepest and most pitiful grief, at the idea of losing him, dead or living.
But on the one or two occasions when Goodenough alluded to Fanny, the widow's countenance, always soft and gentle, assumed an expression so cruel and inexorable, that the Doctor saw it was in vain to ask her for justice or pity, and he broke off all entreaties, and ceased making any further allusions regarding his little client. There is a complaint which neither poppy, nor mandragora, nor all the drowsy syrups of the East could allay, in the men in his time, as we are informed by a popular poet of the days of Elizabeth; and which, when exhibited in women, no medical discoveries or practice subsequent—neither homoeopathy, nor hydropathy, nor mesmerism, nor Dr. Simpson, nor Dr. Locock can cure, and that is—we won't call it jealousy, but rather gently denominate rivalry and emulation in ladies.
Some of those mischievous and prosaic people who carp and calculate at every detail of the romancer, and want to know, for instance, how, when the characters in the 'Critic' are at a dead lock with their daggers at each other's throats, they are to be got out of that murderous complication of circumstances, may be induced to ask how it was possible in a set of chambers in the Temple, consisting of three rooms, two cupboards, a passage, and a coal-box, Arthur a sick gentleman, Helen his mother, Laura her adopted daughter, Martha their country attendant, Mrs. Wheezer a nurse from St. Bartholomew's Hospital, Mrs. Flanagan an Irish laundress, Major Pendennis a retired military officer, Morgan his valet, Pidgeon Mr. Arthur Pendennis's boy, and others could be accommodated—the answer is given at once, that almost everybody in the Temple was out of town, and that there was scarcely a single occupant of Pen's house in Lamb Court except those who were occupied round the sick-bed of the sick gentleman, about whose fever we have not given a lengthy account, neither enlarge we very much upon the more cheerful theme of his recovery.
Everybody we have said was out of town, and of course such a fashionable man as young Mr. Sibwright, who occupied chambers on the second floor in Pen's staircase, could not be supposed to remain in London. Mrs. Flanagan, Mr. Pendennis's laundress was acquainted with Mrs. Rouncy who did for Mr. Sibwright; and that gentleman's bedroom was got ready for Miss Bell, or Mrs. Pendennis, when the latter should be inclined to leave her son's sick-room, to try and seek for a little rest for herself.
If that young buck and flower of Baker Street, Percy Sibwright, could have known who was the occupant of his bedroom, how proud he would have been of that apartment:—what poems he would have written about Laura! (several of his things have appeared in the annuals, and in manuscript in the nobility's albums)—he was a Camford man and very nearly got the English Prize Poem, it was said—Sibwright, however, was absent and his bed given up to Miss Bell. It was the prettiest little brass bed in the world, with chintz curtains lined with pink—he had a mignonette-box in his bedroom window, and the mere sight of his little exhibition of shiny boots, arranged in trim rows over his wardrobe, was a gratification to the beholder. He had a museum of scent, pomatum, and bear's-grease pots, quite curious to examine, too; and a choice selection of portraits of females, almost always in sadness and generally in disguise or deshabille, glittered round the neat walls of his elegant little bower of repose. Medora with dishevelled hair was consoling herself over her banjo for the absence of her Conrad—the Princesse Fleur de Marie (of Rudolstein and the Mysteres de Paris) was sadly ogling out of the bars of her convent cage, in which, poor prisoned bird, she was moulting away,—Dorothea of Don Quixote was washing her eternal feet:—in fine, it was such an elegant gallery as became a gallant lover of the sex. And in Sibwright's sitting-room, while there was quite an infantine law library clad in skins of fresh new-born calf, there was a tolerably large collection of classical books which he could not read, and of English and French works of poetry and fiction which he read a great deal too much. His invitation cards of the past season still decorated his looking-glass: and scarce anything told of the lawyer but the wig-box beside the Venus upon the middle shelf of the bookcase, on which the name of P. Sibwright, Esquire, was gilded.
With Sibwright in chambers was Mr. Bangham. Mr. Bangham was a sporting man married to a rich widow. Mr. Bangham had no practice—did not come to chambers thrice in a term: went a circuit for those mysterious reasons which make men go circuit,—and his room served as a great convenience to Sibwright when that young gentleman gave his little dinners. It must be confessed that these two gentlemen have nothing to do with our history, will never appear in it again probably, but we cannot help glancing through their doors as they happen to be open to us, and as we pass to Pen's rooms; as in the pursuit of our own business in life through the Strand, at the Club, nay at church itself, we cannot help peeping at the shops on the way, or at our neighbour's dinner, or at the faces under the bonnets in the next pew.
Very many years after the circumstances about which we are at present occupied, Laura, with a blush and a laugh showing much humour, owned to having read a French novel once much in vogue, and when her husband asked her, wondering where on earth she could have got such a volume, she owned that it was in the Temple, when she lived in Mr. Percy Sibwright's chambers.
"And, also, I never confessed," she said, "on that same occasion, what I must now own to: that I opened the japanned box, and took out that strange-looking wig inside it, and put it on and looked at myself in the glass in it."
Suppose Percy Sibwright had come in at such a moment as that? What would he have said,—the enraptured rogue? What would have been all the pictures of disguised beauties in his room compared to that living one? Ah, we are speaking of old times, when Sibwright was a bachelor and before he got a county court,—when people were young—when most people were young. Other people are young now; but we no more.
When Miss Laura played this prank with the wig, you can't suppose that Pen could have been very ill upstairs; otherwise, though she had grown to care for him ever so little, common sense of feeling and decorum would have prevented her from performing any tricks or trying any disguises.
But all sorts of events had occurred in the course of the last few days which had contributed to increase or account for her gaiety, and a little colony of the reader's old friends and acquaintances was by this time established in Lamb Court, Temple, and round Pen's sick-bed there. First, Martha, Mrs. Pendennis's servant, had arrived from Fairoaks, being summoned thence by the Major who justly thought her presence would be comfortable and useful to her mistress and her young master, for neither of whom the constant neighbourhood of Mrs. Flanagan (who during Pen's illness required more spirituous consolation than ever to support her) could be pleasant. Martha then made her appearance in due season to wait upon Mr. Pendennis, nor did that lady go once to bed until the faithful servant had reached her, when, with a heart full of maternal thankfulness she went and lay down upon Warrington's straw mattress, and among his mathematical books as has been already described.
It is true that ere that day a great and delightful alteration in Pen's condition had taken place. The fever, subjugated by Dr. Goodenough's blisters, potions, and lancet, had left the young man, or only returned at intervals of feeble intermittence; his wandering senses had settled in his weakened brain: he had had time to kiss and bless his mother for coming to him, and calling for Laura and his uncle (who were both affected according to their different natures by his wan appearance, his lean shrunken hands, his hollow eyes and voice, his thin bearded face) to press their hands and thank them affectionately; and after this greeting, and after they had been turned out of the room by his affectionate nurse, he had sunk into a fine sleep which had lasted for about sixteen hours, at the end of which period he awoke calling out that he was very hungry. If it is hard to be ill and to loathe food, oh, how pleasant to be getting well and to be feeling hungry—how hungry! Alas, the joys of convalescence become feebler with increasing years, as other joys do—and then—and then comes that illness when one does not convalesce at all.
On the day of this happy event, too, came another arrival in Lamb Court. This was introduced into the Pen-Warring sitting-room by large puffs of tobacco smoke—the puffs of were followed by an individual with a cigar in his mouth, and a carpet-bag under his arm—this was Warrington who had run back from Norfolk, when Mr. Bows thoughtfully wrote to inform him of his friend's calamity. But he had been from home when Bows's letter had reached his brother's house—the Eastern Counties did not then boast of a railway (for we beg the reader to understand that we only commit anachronisms when we choose and when by a daring violation of those natural laws some great ethical truth is to be advanced)—in fine, Warrington only appeared with the rest of the good luck upon the lucky day after Pen's convalescence may have been said to have begun.
His surprise was, after all, not very great when he found the chambers of his sick friend occupied, and his old acquaintance the Major seated demurely in an easy-chair (Warrington had let himself into the rooms with his own passkey), listening, or pretending to listen, to a young lady who was reading to him a play of Shakspeare in a low sweet voice. The lady stopped and started, and laid down her book, at the apparition of the tall traveller with the cigar and the carpet-bag. He blushed, he flung the cigar into the passage: he took off his hat, and dropped that too, and going up to the Major, seized that old gentleman's hand, and asked questions about Arthur.
The Major answered in a tremulous, though cheery voice—it was curious how emotion seemed to olden him—and returning Warrington's pressure with a shaking hand, told him the news of Arthur's happy crisis, of his mother's arrival—with her young charge—with Miss——.
"You need not tell me her name," Mr. Warrington said with great animation, for he was affected and elated with the thought of his friend's recovery—"you need not tell me your name. I knew at once it was Laura." And he held out his hand and took hers. Immense kindness and tenderness gleamed from under his rough eyebrows, and shook his voice as he gazed at her and spoke to her. "And this is Laura!" his looks seemed to say. "And this is Warrington!" the generous girl's heart beat back. "Arthur's hero—the brave and the kind—he has come hundreds of miles to succour him, when he heard of his friend's misfortune!"
"Thank you, Mr. Warrington," was all that Laura said, however; and as she returned the pressure of his kind hand, she blushed so, that she was glad the lamp was behind her to conceal her flushing face.
As these two were standing in this attitude, the door of Pen's bedchamber was opened stealthily as his mother was wont to open it, and Warrington saw another lady, who first looked at him, and then turning round towards the bed, said, "Hsh!" and put up her hand.
It was to Pen Helen was turning, and giving caution. He called out with a feeble, tremulous, but cheery voice, "Come in, Stunner—come in, Warrington. I knew it was you—by the—by the smoke, old boy," he said, as holding his worn hand out, and with tears at once of weakness and pleasure in his eyes, he greeted his friend.
"I—I beg pardon, ma'am, for smoking," Warrington said, who now almost for the first time blushed for his wicked propensity.
Helen only said, "God bless you, Mr. Warrington." She was so happy, she would have liked to kiss George. Then, and after the friends had had a brief, very brief interview, the delighted and inexorable mother, giving her hand to Warrington, sent him out of the room, too, back to Laura and the Major, who had not resumed their play of Cymbeline where they had left it off at the arrival of the rightful owner of Pen's chambers.
CHAPTER LIV. Convalescence
Our duty now is to record a fact concerning Pendennis, which, however shameful and disgraceful, when told regarding the chief personage and godfather of a novel, must, nevertheless, be made known to the public who reads his veritable memoirs. Having gone to bed ill with fever, and suffering to a certain degree under the passion of love, after he had gone through his physical malady, and had been bled and had been blistered, and had had his head shaved, and had been treated and medicamented as the doctor ordained:—it is a fact, that, when he rallied up from his bodily ailment, his mental malady had likewise quitted him, and he was no more in love with Fanny Bolton than you or I, who are much too wise, or too moral, to allow our hearts to go gadding after porters' daughters.
He laughed at himself as he lay on his pillow, thinking of this second cure which had been effected upon him. He did not care the least about Fanny now: he wondered how he ever should have cared: and according to his custom made an autopsy of that dead passion, and anatomised his own defunct sensation for his poor little nurse. What could have made him so hot and eager about her but a few weeks back? Not her wit, not her breeding, not her beauty—there were hundreds of women better-looking than she. It was out of himself that the passion had gone: it did not reside in her. She was the same; but the eyes which saw were changed; and, alas, that it should be so! were not particularly eager to see her any more. He felt very well disposed towards the little thing, and so forth, but as for violent personal regard, such as he had but a few weeks ago, it had fled under the influence of the pill and lancet, which had destroyed the fever in his frame. And an immense source of comfort and gratitude it was to Pendennis (though there was something selfish in that feeling, as in most others of our young man), that he had been enabled to resist temptation at the time when the danger was greatest, and had no particular cause of self-reproach as he remembered his conduct towards the young girl. As from a precipice down which he might have fallen, so from the fever from which he had recovered, he reviewed the Fanny Bolton snare, now that he had escaped out of it, but I'm not sure that he was not ashamed of the very satisfaction which he experienced. It is pleasant, perhaps, but it is humiliating to own that you love no more.
Meanwhile the kind smiles and tender watchfulness of the mother at his bedside, filled the young man with peace and security. To see that health was returning, was all the unwearied nurse demanded: to execute any caprice or order of her patient's, her chiefest joy and reward. He felt himself environed by her love, and thought himself almost as grateful for it as he had been when weak and helpless in childhood.