The History of Pendennis
by William Makepeace Thackeray
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Helen was on the look-out for this expected guest, and saw him from her window. But she did not come forward immediately to greet him. She knew the Major did not like to be seen at a surprise, and required a little preparation before he cared to be visible. Pen, when a boy, had incurred sad disgrace by carrying off from the Major's dressing-table a little morocco box, which it must be confessed contained the Major's back teeth, which he naturally would leave out of his jaws in a jolting mail-coach, and without which he would not choose to appear. Morgan, his man, made a mystery of mystery of his wigs: curling them in private places: introducing them mysteriously to his master's room;—nor without his head of hair would the Major care to show himself to any member of his family, or any acquaintance. He went to his apartment then and supplied these deficiencies; he groaned, and moaned, and wheezed, and cursed Morgan through his toilet, as an old buck will, who has been up all night with a rheumatism, and has a long duty to perform. And finally being belted, curled, and set straight, he descended upon the drawing-room, with a grave majestic air, such as befitted one who was at once a man of business and a man of fashion.

Pen was not there, however; only Helen, and little Laura sewing at her knees; and to whom he never presented more than a forefinger, as he did on this occasion after saluting his sister-in-law. Laura took the finger trembling and dropped it—and then fled out of the room. Major Pendennis did not want to keep her, or indeed to have her in the house at all, and had his private reason for disapproving of her: which we may mention on some future occasion. Meanwhile Laura disappeared and wandered about the premises seeking for Pen: whom she presently found in the orchard, pacing up and down a walk there in earnest conversation with Mr. Smirke. He was so occupied that he did not hear Laura's clear voice singing out, until Smirke pulled him by the coat and pointed towards her as she came running.

She ran up and put her hand into his. "Come in, Pen," she said, "there's somebody come; uncle Arthur's come."

"He is, is he?" said Pen, and she felt him grasp her little hand. He looked round at Smirke with uncommon fierceness, as much as to say, I am ready for him or any man.—Mr. Smirke cast up his eyes as usual and heaved a gentle sigh.

"Lead on, Laura," Pen said, with a half fierce, half comic air—"Lead on, and say I wait upon my uncle." But he was laughing in order to hide a great anxiety: and was screwing his courage inwardly to face the ordeal which he knew was now before him.

Pen had taken Smirke into his confidence in the last two days, and after the outbreak attendant on the discovery of Doctor Portman, and during every one of those forty-eight hours which he had passed in Mr. Smirke's society, had done nothing but talk to his tutor about Miss Fotheringay—Miss Emily Fotheringay—Emily, etc., to all which talk Smirke listened without difficulty, for he was in love himself, most anxious in all things to propitiate Pen, and indeed very much himself enraptured by the personal charms of this goddess, whose like, never having been before at a theatrical representation, he had not beheld until now. Pen's fire and volubility, his hot eloquence and rich poetical tropes and figures, his manly heart, kind, ardent, and hopeful, refusing to see any defects in the person he loved, any difficulties in their position that he might not overcome, had half convinced Mr. Smirke that the arrangement proposed by Mr. Pen was a very feasible and prudent one, and that it would be a great comfort to have Emily settled at Fairoaks, Captain Costigan in the yellow room, established for life there, and Pen married at eighteen.

And it is a fact that in these two days the boy had almost talked over his mother, too; had parried all her objections one after another with that indignant good sense which is often the perfection of absurdity; and had brought her almost to acquiesce in the belief that if the marriage was doomed in heaven, why doomed it was—that if the young woman was a good person, it was all that she for her part had to ask; and rather to dread the arrival of the guardian uncle who she foresaw would regard Mr. Pen's marriage in a manner very different to that simple, romantic, honest, and utterly absurd way in which the widow was already disposed to look at questions of this sort.

For as in the old allegory of the gold and silver shield, about which the two knights quarrelled, each is right according to the point from which he looks: so about marriage; the question whether it is foolish or good, wise or otherwise, depends upon the point of view from which you regard it. If it means a snug house in Belgravia, and pretty little dinner-parties, and a pretty little brougham to drive in the Park, and a decent provision not only for the young people, but for the little Belgravians to come; and if these are the necessaries of life (and they are with many honest people), to talk of any other arrangement is an absurdity: of love in lodgings—a babyish folly of affection: that can't pay coach-hire or afford a decent milliner—as mere wicked balderdash and childish romance. If on the other hand your opinion is that people, not with an assured subsistence, but with a fair chance to obtain it, and with the stimulus of hope, health, and strong affection, may take the chance of Fortune for better or worse, and share its good or its evil together, the polite theory then becomes an absurdity in its turn: worse than an absurdity, a blasphemy almost, and doubt of Providence; and a man who waits to make his chosen woman happy, until he can drive her to church in a neat little carriage with a pair of horses, is no better than a coward or a trifler, who is neither worthy of love nor of fortune.

I don't say that the town folks are not right, but Helen Pendennis was a country-bred woman, and the book of life, as she interpreted it, told her a different story to that page which is read in cities. Like most soft and sentimental women, matchmaking, in general, formed a great part of her thoughts, and I daresay she had begun to speculate about her son's falling in love and marrying long before the subject had ever entered into the brains of the young gentleman. It pleased her (with that dismal pleasure which the idea of sacrificing themselves gives to certain women) to think of the day when she would give up all to Pen, and he should bring his wife home, and she would surrender the keys and the best bedroom, and go and sit at the side of the table, and see him happy. What did she want in life, but to see the lad prosper? As an empress certainly was not too good for him, and would be honoured by becoming Mrs. Pen; so if he selected humble Esther instead of Queen Vashti, she would be content with his lordship's choice. Never mind how lowly or poor the person might be who was to enjoy that prodigious honour, Mrs. Pendennis was willing to bow before her and welcome her, and yield her up the first place. But an actress—a mature woman, who had long ceased blushing except with rouge, as she stood under the eager glances of thousands of eyes—an illiterate and ill-bred person, very likely, who must have lived with light associates, and have heard doubtful conversation—Oh! it was hard that such a one should be chosen, and that the matron should be deposed to give place to such a Sultana.

All these doubts the widow laid before Pen during the two days which had of necessity to elapse ere the uncle came down; but he met them with that happy frankness and ease which a young gentleman exhibits at his time of life, and routed his mother's objections with infinite satisfaction to himself. Miss Costigan was a paragon of virtue and delicacy; she was as sensitive as the most timid maiden; she was as pure as the unsullied snow; she had the finest manners, the most graceful wit and genius, the most charming refinement and justness of appreciation in all matters of taste; she had the most admirable temper and devotion to her father, a good old gentleman of high family and fallen fortunes, who had lived, however, with the best society in Europe: he was in no hurry, and could afford to wait any time,—till he was one-and-twenty. But he felt (and here his face assumed an awful and harrowing solemnity) that he was engaged in the one only passion of his life, and that DEATH alone could close it.

Helen told him, with a sad smile and shake of the head, that people survived these passions, and as for long engagements contracted between very young men and old women—she knew an instance in her own family—Laura's poor father was an instance—how fatal they were.

Mr. Pen, however, was resolved that death must be his doom in case of disappointment, and rather than this—rather than baulk him, in fact—this lady would have submitted to any sacrifice or personal pain, and would have gone down on her knees and have kissed the feet of a Hottentot daughter-in-law.

Arthur knew his power over the widow, and the young tyrant was touched whilst he exercised it. In those two days he brought her almost into submission, and patronised her very kindly; and he passed one evening with the lovely pie-maker at Chatteris, in which he bragged of his influence over his mother; and he spent the other night in composing a most flaming and conceited copy of verses to his divinity, in which he vowed, like Montrose, that he would make her famous with his sword and glorious by his pen, and that he would love her as no mortal woman had been adored since the creation of womankind.

It was on that night, long after midnight, that wakeful Helen, passing stealthily by her son's door, saw a light streaming through the chink of the door into the dark passage, and heard Pen tossing and tumbling, and mumbling verses in his bed. She waited outside for a while, anxiously listening to him. In infantile fevers and early boyish illnesses, many a night before, the kind soul had so kept watch. She turned the lock very softly now, and went in so gently, that Pen for a moment did not see her. His face was turned from her. His papers on his desk were scattered about, and more were lying on the bed round him. He was biting a pencil and thinking of rhymes and all sorts of follies and passions. He was Hamlet jumping into Ophelia's grave: he was the Stranger taking Mrs. Haller to his arms, beautiful Mrs. Haller, with the raven ringlets falling over her shoulders. Despair and Byron, Thomas Moore and all the Loves of the Angels, Waller and Herrick, Beranger and all the love-songs he had ever read, were working and seething in this young gentleman's mind, and he was at the very height and paroxysm of the imaginative frenzy when his mother found him.

"Arthur," said the mother's soft silver voice: and he started up and turned round. He clutched some of the papers and pushed them under the pillow.

"Why don't you go to sleep, my dear?" she said, with a sweet tender smile, and sate down on the bed and took one of his hot hands.

Pen looked at her wildly for an instant—"I couldn't sleep," he said—"I—I was—I was writing."—And hereupon he flung his arms round her neck and said, "O mother! I love her, I love her!"—How could such a kind soul as that help soothing and pitying him? The gentle creature did her best: and thought with a strange wonderment and tenderness that it was only yesterday that he was a child in that bed; and how she used to come and say her prayers over it before he woke upon holiday mornings.

They were very grand verses, no doubt, although Miss Fotheringay did not understand them; but old Cos, with a wink and a knowing finger on his nose, said, "Put them up with th' other letthers, Milly darling. Poldoody's pomes was nothing to this." So Milly locked up the manuscripts.

When then, the Major being dressed and presentable, presented himself to Mrs. Pendennis, he found in the course of ten minutes' colloquy that the poor widow was not merely distressed at the idea of the marriage contemplated by Pen, but actually more distressed at thinking that the boy himself was unhappy about it, and that his uncle and he should have any violent altercation on the subject. She besought Major Pendennis to be very gentle with Arthur: "He has a very high spirit, and will not brook unkind words," she hinted. "Dr. Portman spoke to him rather roughly—and I must own unjustly, the other night—for my dearest boy's honour is as high as any mother can desire—but Pen's answer quite frightened me, it was so indignant. Recollect he is a man now; and be very—very cautious," said the widow, laying a fair long hand on the Major's sleeve.

He took it up, kissed it gallantly and looked in her alarmed face with wonder, and a scorn which he was too polite to show. "Bon Dieu!" thought the old negotiator, "the boy has actually talked the woman round, and she'd get him a wife as she would a toy if Master cried for it. Why are there no such things as lettres-de-cachet—and a Bastille for young fellows of family?" The Major lived in such good company that he might be excused for feeling like an Earl.—He kissed the widow's timid hand, pressed it in both his, and laid it down on the table with one of his own over it, as he smiled and looked her in the face.

"Confess," said he, "now, that you are thinking how you possibly can make it up to your conscience to let the boy have his own way."

She blushed and was moved in the usual manner of females. "I am thinking that he is very unhappy—and I am too——"

"To contradict him or to let him have his own wish?" asked the other; and added, with great comfort to his inward self, "I'm d——d if he shall."

"To think that he should have formed so foolish and cruel and fatal an attachment," the widow said, "which can but end in pain whatever be the issue."

"The issue shan't be marriage, my dear sister," the Major said resolutely. "We're not going to have a Pendennis, the head of the house, marry a strolling mountebank from a booth. No, no, we won't marry into Greenwich Fair, ma'am."

"If the match is broken suddenly off," the widow interposed, "I don't know what may be the consequence. I know Arthur's ardent temper, the intensity of his affections, the agony of his pleasures and disappointments, and I tremble at this one if it must be. Indeed, indeed, it must not come on him too suddenly."

"My dear madam," the Major said, with an air of the deepest commiseration "I've no doubt Arthur will have to suffer confoundedly before he gets over the little disappointment. But is he, think you, the only person who has been so rendered miserable?"

"No, indeed," said Helen, holding down her eyes. She was thinking of her own case, and was at that moment seventeen again—and most miserable.

"I, myself," whispered her brother-in-law, "have undergone a disappointment in early life. A young woman with fifteen thousand pounds, niece to an Earl—most accomplished creature—a third of her money would have run up my promotion in no time, and I should have been a lieutenant—colonel at thirty: but it might not be. I was but a penniless lieutenant: her parents interfered: and I embarked for India, where I had the honour of being secretary to Lord Buckley, when commander-in-Chief without her. What happened? We returned our letters, sent back our locks of hair (the Major here passed his fingers through his wig), we suffered—but we recovered. She is now a baronet's wife with thirteen grown-up children; altered, it is true, in person; but her daughters remind me of what she was, and the third is to be presented early next week."

Helen did not answer. She was still thinking of old times. I suppose if one lives to be a hundred: there are certain passages of one's early life whereof the recollection will always carry us back to youth again, and that Helen was thinking of one of these.

"Look at my own brother, my dear creature," the Major continued gallantly: "he himself, you know, had a little disappointment when he started in the—the medical profession—an eligible opportunity presented itself. Miss Balls, I remember the name, was daughter of an apoth—a practitioner in very large practice; my brother had very nearly succeeded in his suit.—But difficulties arose: disappointments supervened, and—and I am sure he had no reason to regret the disappointment, which gave him this hand," said the Major, and he once more politely pressed Helen's fingers.

"Those marriages between people of such different rank and age," said Helen, "are sad things. I have known them produce a great deal of unhappiness.—Laura's father, my cousin, who—who was brought up with me"—she added, in a low voice, "was an instance of that."

"Most injudicious," cut in the Major. "I don't know anything more painful than for a man to marry his superior in age or his inferior in station. Fancy marrying a woman of low rank of life, and having your house filled with her confounded tag-rag-and-bobtail of relations! Fancy your wife attached to a mother who dropped her h's, or called Maria Marire! How are you to introduce her into society? My dear Mrs. Pendennis, I will name no names, but in the very best circles of London society I have seen men suffering the most excruciating agony, I have known them to be cut, to be lost utterly, from the vulgarity of their wives' connections. What did Lady Snapperton do last year at her dejeune dansant after the Bohemian Ball? She told Lord Brouncker that he might bring his daughters or send them with a proper chaperon, but that she would not receive Lady Brouncker who was a druggist's daughter, or some such thing, and as Tom Wagg remarked of her, never wanted medicine certainly, for she never had an h in her life. Good Ged, what would have been the trifling pang of a separation in the first instance to the enduring infliction of a constant misalliance and intercourse with low people?"

"What, indeed!" said Helen, dimly disposed towards laughter, but yet checking the inclination, because she remembered in what prodigious respect her deceased husband held Major Pendennis and his stories of the great world.

"Then this fatal woman is ten years older than that silly young scapegrace of an Arthur. What happens in such cases, my dear creature? I don't mind telling you, now we are alone that in the highest state of society, misery, undeviating misery, is the result. Look at Lord Clodworthy come into a room with his wife—why, good Ged, she looks like Clodworthy's mother. What's the case between Lord and Lady Willowbank, whose love match was notorious? He has already cut her down twice when she has hanged herself out of jealousy for Mademoiselle de Sainte Cunegonde, the dancer; and mark my words, good Ged, one day he'll not cut the old woman down. No, my dear madam, you are not in the world, but I am: you are a little romantic and sentimental (you know you are—women with those large beautiful eyes always are); you must leave this matter to my experience. Marry this woman! Marry at eighteen an actress of thirty—bah bah!—I would as soon he sent into the kitchen and married the cook."

"I know the evils of premature engagements," sighed out Helen: and as she has made this allusion no less than thrice in the course of the above conversation, and seems to be so oppressed with the notion of long engagements and unequal marriages, and as the circumstance we have to relate will explain what perhaps some persons are anxious to know, namely who little Laura is, who has appeared more than once before us, it will be as well to clear up these points in another chapter.

CHAPTER VIII. In which Pen is kept waiting at the Door, while the Reader is informed who little Laura was.

Once upon a time, then, there was a young gentleman of Cambridge University who came to pass the long vacation at the village where young Helen Thistlewood was living with her mother, the widow of the lieutenant slain at Copenhagen. This gentleman, whose name was the Reverend Francis Bell, was nephew to Mrs. Thistlewood, and by consequence, own cousin to Miss Helen, so that it was very right that he should take lodgings in his aunt's house, who lived in a very small way; and there he passed the long vacation, reading with three or four pupils who accompanied him to the village. Mr. Bell was fellow of a college, and famous in the University for his learning and skill as a tutor.

His two kinswomen understood pretty early that the reverend gentleman was engaged to be married, and was only waiting for a college living to enable him to fulfil his engagement. His intended bride was the daughter of another parson, who had acted as Mr. Bell's own private tutor in Bell's early life, and it was whilst under Mr. Coacher's roof, indeed, and when only a boy of seventeen or eighteen years of age, that the impetuous young Bell had flung himself at the feet of Miss Martha Coacher, whom he was helping to pick peas in the garden. On his knees, before those peas and her, he pledged himself to an endless affection.

Miss Coacher was by many years the young fellow's senior and her own heart had been lacerated by many previous disappointments in the matrimonial line. No less than three pupils of her father had trifled with those young affections. The apothecary of the village had despicably jilted her. The dragoon officer, with whom she had danced so many many times during that happy season which she passed at Bath with her gouty grandmamma, one day gaily shook his bridle-rein and galloped away never to return. Wounded by the shafts of repeated ingratitude, can it be wondered at that the heart of Martha Coacher should pant to find rest somewhere? She listened to the proposals of the gawky gallant honest boy, with great kindness and good-humour; at the end of his speech she said, "Law, Bell, I'm sure you are too young to think of such things;" but intimated that she too would revolve them in her own virgin bosom. She could not refer Mr. Bell to her mamma, for Mr. Coacher was a widower, and being immersed in his books, was of course unable to take the direction of so frail and wondrous an article as a lady's heart, which Miss Martha had to manage for herself.

A lock of her hair, tied up in a piece of blue ribbon, conveyed to the happy Bell the result of the Vestal's conference with herself. Thrice before had she snipt off one of her auburn ringlets, and given them away. The possessors were faithless, but the hair had grown again: and Martha had indeed occasion to say that men were deceivers when she handed over this token of love to the simple boy.

Number 6, however, was an exception to former passions—Francis Bell was the most faithful of lovers. When his time arrived to go to college, and it became necessary to acquaint Mr. Coacher of the arrangements that had been made, the latter cried, "God bless my soul, I hadn't the least idea what was going on;" as was indeed very likely, for he had been taken in three times before in precisely a similar manner; and Francis went to the University resolved to conquer honours, so as to be able to lay them at the feet of his beloved Martha.

This prize in view made him labour prodigiously. News came, term after term, of the honours he won. He sent the prize-books for his college essays to old Coacher, and his silver declamation cup to Miss Martha. In due season he was high among the Wranglers, and a fellow of his college; and during all the time of these transactions a constant tender correspondence was kept up with Miss Coacher, to whose influence, and perhaps with justice, he attributed the successes which he had won.

By the time, however, when the Rev. Francis Bell, M.A., and Fellow and Tutor of his College, was twenty-six years of age, it happened that Miss Coacher was thirty-four, nor had her charms, her manners, or her temper improved since that sunny day in the springtime of life when he found her picking peas in the garden. Having achieved his honours he relaxed in the ardour of his studies, and his judgment and tastes also perhaps became cooler. The sunshine of the pea-garden faded away from Miss Martha, and poor Bell found himself engaged—and his hand pledged to that bond in a thousand letters—to a coarse, ill-tempered, ill-favoured, ill-mannered, middle-aged woman.

It was in consequence of one of many altercations (in which Martha's eloquence shone, and in which therefore she was frequently pleased to indulge) that Francis refused to take his pupils to Bearleader's Green, where Mr. Coacher's living was, and where Bell was in the habit of spending the summer: and he bethought him that he would pass the vacation at his aunt's village, which he had not seen for many years—not since little Helen was a girl and used to sit on his knee. Down then he came and lived with them. Helen was grown a beautiful young woman now. The cousins were nearly four months together, from June to October. They walked in the summer evenings: they met in the early morn. They read out of the same book when the old lady dozed at night over the candles. What little Helen knew, Frank taught her. She sang to him: she gave her artless heart to him. She was aware of all his story. Had he made any secret?—had he not shown the picture of the woman to whom he was engaged, and with a blush,—her letters, hard, eager, and cruel?—The days went on and on, happier and closer, with more kindness, more confidence, and more pity. At last one morning in October came, when Francis went back to college, and the poor girl felt that her tender heart was gone with him.

Frank too wakened up from the delightful midsummer dream to the horrible reality of his own pain. He gnashed and tore at the chain which bound him. He was frantic to break it and be free. Should he confess?—give his savings to the woman to whom he was bound, and beg his release?—there was time yet—he temporised. No living might fall in for years to come. The cousins went on corresponding sadly and fondly: the betrothed woman, hard, jealous, and dissatisfied, complaining bitterly, and with reason, of her Francis's altered tone.

At last things came to a crisis, and the new attachment was discovered. Francis owned it, cared not to disguise it, rebuked Martha with her violent temper and angry imperiousness, and, worst of all, with her inferiority and her age.

Her reply was, that if he did not keep his promise she would carry his letters into every court in the kingdom—letters in which his love was pledged to her ten thousand times; and, after exposing him to the world as the perjurer and traitor he was, she would kill herself.

Frank had one more interview with Helen, whose mother was dead then, and who was living companion with old Lady Pontypool,—one more interview, where it was resolved that he was to do his duty; that is, to redeem his vow; that is, to pay a debt cozened from him by a sharper; that is, to make two honest people miserable. So the two judged their duty to be, and they parted.

The living fell in only too soon; but yet Frank Bell was quite a grey and worn-out man when he was inducted into it. Helen wrote him a letter on his marriage, beginning "My dear Cousin," and ending "always truly yours." She sent him back the other letters, and the lock of his hair—all but a small piece. She had it in her desk when she was talking to the Major.

Bell lived for three or four years in his living, at the end of which time, the Chaplainship of Coventry Island falling vacant, Frank applied for it privately, and having procured it, announced the appointment to his wife. She objected, as she did to everything. He told her bitterly that he did not want her to come: so she went. Bell went out in Governor Crawley's time, and was very intimate with that gentleman in his later years. And it was in Coventry Island, years after his own marriage, and five years after he had heard of the birth of Helen's boy, that his own daughter was born.

She was not the daughter of the first Mrs. Bell, who died of island fever very soon after Helen Pendennis and her husband, to whom Helen had told everything, wrote to inform Bell of the birth of their child. "I was old, was I?" said Mrs. Bell the first; "I was old, and her inferior, was I? but I married you, Mr. Bell, and kept you from marrying her?" and hereupon she died. Bell married a colonial lady, whom he loved fondly. But he was not doomed to prosper in love; and, this lady dying in childbirth, Bell gave up too: sending his little girl home to Helen Pendennis and her husband, with a parting prayer that they would befriend her.

The little thing came to Fairoaks from Bristol, which is not very far off, dressed in black, and in company of a soldier's wife, her nurse, at parting from whom she wept bitterly. But she soon dried up her grief under Helen's motherly care.

Round her neck she had a locket with hair, which Helen had given, ah how many years ago! to poor Francis, dead and buried. This child was all that was left of him, and she cherished, as so tender a creature would, the legacy which he had bequeathed to her. The girl's name, as his dying letter stated, was Helen Laura. But John Pendennis, though he accepted the trust, was always rather jealous of the orphan; and gloomily ordered that she should be called by her own mother's name; and not by that first one which her father had given her. She was afraid of Mr. Pendennis, to the last moment of his life. And it was only when her husband was gone that Helen dared openly to indulge in the tenderness which she felt for the little girl.

Thus it was that Laura Bell became Mrs. Pendennis's daughter. Neither her husband nor that gentleman's brother, the Major, viewed her with very favourable eyes. She reminded the first of circumstances in his wife's life which he was forced to accept, but would have forgotten much more willingly and as for the second, how could he regard her? She was neither related to his own family of Pendennis, nor to any nobleman in this empire, and she had but a couple of thousand pounds for her fortune.

And now let Mr. Pen come in, who has been waiting all this while.

Having strung up his nerves, and prepared himself, without at the door, for the meeting, he came to it, determined to face the awful uncle. He had settled in his mind that the encounter was to be a fierce one, and was resolved on bearing it through with all the courage and dignity of the famous family which he represented. And he flung open the door and entered with the most severe and warlike expression, armed cap-a-pie as it were, with lance couched and plumes displayed, and glancing at his adversary, as if to say, "Come on, I'm ready."

The old man of the world, as he surveyed the boy's demeanour, could hardly help a grin at his admirable pompous simplicity. Major Pendennis too had examined his ground; and finding that the widow was already half won over to the enemy, and having a shrewd notion that threats and tragic exhortations would have no effect upon the boy, who was inclined to be perfectly stubborn and awfully serious, the Major laid aside the authoritative manner at once, and with the most good-humoured natural smile in the world, held out his hands to Pen, shook the lad's passive fingers gaily, and said, "Well, Pen, my boy, tell us all about it."

Helen was delighted with the generosity of the Major's good-humour. On the contrary, it quite took aback and disappointed poor Pen, whose nerves were strung up for a tragedy, and who felt that his grand entree was altogether baulked and ludicrous. He blushed and winced with mortified vanity and bewilderment. He felt immensely inclined to begin to cry—"I—I—I didn't know that you were come till just now," he said: "is—is—town very full, I suppose?"

If Pen could hardly gulp his tears down, it was all the Major could do to keep from laughter. He turned round and shot a comical glance at Mrs. Pendennis, who too felt that the scene was at once ridiculous and sentimental. And so, having nothing to say, she went up and kissed Mr. Pen: as he thought of her tenderness and soft obedience to his wishes, it is very possible too the boy was melted.

"What a couple of fools they are," thought the old guardian. "If I hadn't come down, she would have driven over in state to pay a visit and give her blessing to the young lady's family."

"Come, come," said he, still grinning at the couple, "let us have as little sentiment as possible, and, Pen, my good fellow, tell us the whole story."

Pen got back at once to his tragic and heroical air. "The story is, sir," said he, "as I have written it to you before. I have made the acquaintance of a most beautiful and most virtuous lady; of a high family, although in reduced circumstances: I have found the woman in whom I know that the happiness of my life is centred; I feel that I never, never can think about any woman but her. I am aware of the difference of our ages and other difficulties in my way. But my affection was so great that I felt I could surmount all these; that we both could: and she has consented to unite her lot with mine, and to accept my heart and my fortune."

"How much is that, my boy?" said the Major. "Has anybody left you some money? I don't know that you are worth a shilling in the world."

"You know what I have is his," cried out Mrs. Pendennis.

"Good heavens, madam, hold your tongue!" was what the guardian was disposed to say; but he kept his temper, not without a struggle. "No doubt, no doubt," he said. "You would sacrifice anything for him. Everybody knows that. But it is, after all then, your fortune which Pen is offering to the young lady; and of which he wishes to take possession at eighteen."

"I know my mother will give me anything," Pen said, looking rather disturbed.

"Yes, my good fellow, but there is reason in all things. If your mother keeps the house, it is but fair that she should select her company. When you give her house over her head, and transfer her banker's account to yourself for the benefit of Miss What-d'-you-call-'em—Miss Costigan—don't you think you should at least have consulted my sister as one of the principal parties in the transaction? I am speaking to you, you see, without the least anger or assumption of authority, such as the law and your father's will give me over you for three years to come—but as one man of the world to another,—and I ask you, if you think that, because you can do what you like with your mother, therefore you have a right to do so? As you are her dependent, would it not have been more generous to wait before you took this step, and at least to have paid her the courtesy to ask her leave?"

Pen held down his head, and began dimly to perceive that the action on which he had prided himself as a most romantic, generous instance of disinterested affection, was perhaps a very selfish and headstrong piece of folly.

"I did it in a moment of passion," said Pen, floundering; "I was not aware what I was going to say or to do" (and in this he spoke with perfect sincerity) "But now it is said, and I stand to it. No; I neither can nor will recall it. I'll die rather than do so. And I—I don't want to burthen my mother," he continued. "I'll work for myself. I'll go on the stage, and act with her. She—she says I should do well there."

"But will she take you on those terms?" the Major interposed. "Mind, I do not say that Miss Costigan is not the most disinterested of women: but, don't you suppose now, fairly, that your position as a young gentleman of ancient birth and decent expectations forms a part of the cause why she finds your addresses welcome?"

"I'll die, I say, rather than forfeit my pledge to her," said Pen, doubling his fists and turning red.

"Who asks you, my dear friend?" answered the imperturbable guardian. "No gentleman breaks his word, of course, when it has been given freely. But after all, you can wait. You owe something to your mother, something to your family—something to me as your father's representative."

"Oh, of course," Pen said, feeling rather relieved.

"Well, as you have pledged your word to her, give us another, will you Arthur?"

"What is it?" Arthur asked.

"That you will make no private marriage—that you won't be taking a trip to Scotland, you understand."

"That would be a falsehood. Pen never told his mother a falsehood," Helen said.

Pen hung down his head again, and his eyes filled with tears of shame. Had not this whole intrigue been a falsehood to that tender and confiding creature who was ready to give up all for his sake? He gave his uncle his hand.

"No, sir—on my word of honour, as a gentleman," he said, "I will never marry without my mother's consent!" and giving Helen a bright parting look of confidence and affection unchangeable, the boy went out of the drawing-room into his own study.

"He's an angel—he's an angel," the mother cried out in one of her usual raptures.

"He comes of a good stock, ma'am," said her brother-in-law—"of a good stock on both sides." The Major was greatly pleased with the result of his diplomacy—so much so, that he once more saluted the tips of Mrs. Pendennis's glove, and dropping the curt, manly, and straightforward tone in which he had conducted the conversation with the lad, assumed a certain drawl which he always adopted when he was most conceited and fine.

"My dear creature," said he, in that his politest tone, "I think it certainly as well that I came down, and I flatter myself that last botte was a successful one. I tell you how I came to think of it. Three years ago my kind friend Lady Ferrybridge sent for me in the greatest state of alarm about her son Gretna, whose affair you remember, and implored me to use my influence with the young gentleman, who was engaged in an affaire de coeur with a Scotch clergyman's daughter, Miss MacToddy. I implored, I entreated gentle measures. But Lord Ferrybridge was furious, and tried the high hand. Gretna was sulky and silent, and his parents thought they had conquered. But what was the fact, my dear creature? The young people had been married for three months before Lord Ferrybridge knew anything about it. And that was why I extracted the promise from Master Pen."

"Arthur would never have done so," Mrs. Pendennis said.

"He hasn't,—that is one comfort," answered the brother-in-law.

Like a wary and patient man of the world, Major Pendennis did not press poor Pen any farther for the moment, but hoped the best from time, and that the young fellow's eyes would be opened before long to see the absurdity of which he was guilty. And having found out how keen the boy's point of honour was, he worked kindly upon that kindly feeling with great skill, discoursing him over their wine after dinner, and pointing out to Pen the necessity of a perfect uprightness and openness in all his dealings, and entreating that his communications with his interesting young friend (as the Major politely called Miss Fotheringay) should be carried on with the knowledge, if not approbation, of Mrs. Pendennis. "After all, Pen," the Major said, with a convenient frankness that did not displease the boy, whilst it advanced the interests of the negotiator, "you must bear in mind that you are throwing yourself away. Your mother may submit to your marriage as she would to anything else you desired, if you did but cry long enough for it: but be sure of this, that it can never please her. You take a young woman off the boards of a country theatre and prefer her, for such is the case, to one of the finest ladies in England. And your mother will submit to your choice, but you can't suppose that she will be happy under it. I have often fancied, entre nous, that my sister had it in her eye to make a marriage between you and that little ward of hers—Flora, Laura—what's her name? And I always determined to do my small endeavour to prevent any such match. The child has but two thousand pounds, I am given to understand. It is only with the utmost economy and care that my sister can provide for the decent maintenance of her house, and for your appearance and education as a gentleman; and I don't care to own to you that I had other and much higher views for you. With your name and birth, sir—with your talents, which I suppose are respectable, with the friends whom I have the honour to possess, I could have placed you in an excellent position—a remarkable position for a young man of such exceeding small means, and had hoped to see you, at least, try to restore the honours of our name. Your mother's softness stopped one prospect, or you might have been a general, like our gallant ancestor who fought at Ramillies and Malplaquet. I had another plan in view: my excellent and kind friend, Lord Bagwig, who is very well disposed towards me, would, I have little doubt, have attached you to his mission at Pumpernickel, and you might have advanced in the diplomatic service. But, pardon me for recurring to the subject; how is a man to serve a young gentleman of eighteen, who proposes to marry a lady of thirty, whom he has selected from a booth in a fair?—well, not a fair,—a barn. That profession at once is closed to you. The public service is closed to you. Society is closed to you. You see, my good friend, to what you bring yourself. You may get on at the bar to be sure, where I am given to understand that gentlemen of merit occasionally marry out of their kitchens; but in no other profession. Or you may come and live down here—down here, mon Dieu! for ever" (said the Major, with a dreary shrug, as he thought with inexpressible fondness of Pall Mall), "where your mother will receive the Mrs. Arthur that is to be, with perfect kindness; where the good people of the county won't visit you; and where, by Gad, sir, I shall be shy of visiting you myself, for I'm a plain-spoken man, and I own to you that I like to live with gentlemen for my companions; where you will have to live, with rum-and-water—drinking gentlemen—farmers, and drag through your life the young husband of an old woman, who, if she doesn't quarrel with your mother, will at least cost that lady her position in society, and drag her down into that dubious caste into which you must inevitably fall. It is no affair of mine, my good sir. I am not angry. Your downfall will not hurt me farther than that it will extinguish the hopes I had of seeing my family once more taking its place in the world. It is only your mother and yourself that will be ruined. And I pity you both from my soul. Pass the claret: it is some I sent to your poor father; I remember I bought it at poor Lord Levant's sale. But of course," added the Major, smacking the wine, "having engaged yourself, you will do what becomes you as a man of honour, however fatal your promise may be. However, promise us on our side, my boy, what I set out by entreating you to grant,—that there shall be nothing clandestine, that you will pursue your studies, that you will only visit your interesting friend at proper intervals. Do you write to her much?"

Pen blushed and said, "Why, yes, he had written."

"I suppose verses, eh! as well as prose? I was a dab at verses myself. I recollect when I first joined, I used to write verses for the fellows in the regiment; and did some pretty things in that way. I was talking to my old friend General Hobbler about some lines I dashed off for him in the year 1806, when we were at the Cape, and, Gad, he remembered every line of them still; for he'd used 'em so often, the old rogue, and had actually tried 'em on Mrs. Hobbler, sir—who brought him sixty thousand pounds. I suppose you've tried verses, eh, Pen?"

Pen blushed again, and said, "Why, yes, he had written verses."

"And does the fair one respond in poetry or prose?" asked the Major, eyeing his nephew with the queerest expression, as much as to say, "O Moses and Green Spectacles! what a fool the boy is."

Pen blushed again. She had written, but not in verse, the young lover owned, and he gave his breast-pocket the benefit of a squeeze with his left arm, which the Major remarked, according to his wont.

"You have got the letters there, I see," said the old campaigner, nodding at Pen and pointing to his own chest (which was manfully wadded with cotton by Mr. Stultz). "You know you have. I would give twopence to see 'em."

"Why," said Pen, twiddling the stalks of the strawberries, "I—I," but this sentence never finished; for Pen's face was so comical and embarrassed, as the Major watched it, that the elder could contain his gravity no longer, and burst into a fit of laughter, in which chorus Pen himself was obliged to join after a minute: when he broke out fairly into a guffaw.

It sent them with great good-humour into Mrs. Pendennis's drawing-room. She was pleased to hear them laughing in the hall as they crossed it.

"You sly rascal!" said the Major, putting his arm gaily on Pen's shoulder, and giving a playful push at the boy's breast-pocket. He felt the papers crackling there sure enough. The young fellow was delighted—conceited—triumphant—and in one word, a spoony.

The pair came to the tea-table in the highest spirits. The Major's politeness was beyond expression. He had never tasted such good tea, and such bread was only to be had in the country. He asked Mrs. Pendennis for one of her charming songs. He then made Pen sing, and was delighted and astonished at the beauty of the boy's voice: he made his nephew fetch his maps and drawings, and praised them as really remarkable works of talent in a young fellow: he complimented him on his French pronunciation: he flattered the simple boy as adroitly as ever lover flattered a mistress: and when bedtime came, mother and son went to their several rooms perfectly enchanted with the kind Major.

When they had reached those apartments, I suppose Helen took to her knees as usual: and Pen read over his letters before going to bed: just as if he didn't know every word of them by heart already. In truth there were but three of those documents and to learn their contents required no great effort of memory.

In No. 1, Miss Fotheringay presents grateful compliments to Mr. Pendennis, and in her papa's name and her own begs to thank him for his most beautiful presents. They will always be kept carefully; and Miss F. and Captain C. will never forget the delightful evening which they passed on Tuesday last.

No. 2 said—Dear Sir, we shall have a small quiet party of social friends at our humble board, next Tuesday evening, at an early tea, when I shall wear the beautiful scarf which, with its accompanying delightful verses, I shall ever, ever cherish: and papa bids me say how happy he will be if you will join 'the feast of reason and the flow of soul' in our festive little party, as I am sure will be your truly grateful Emily Fotheringay.

No. 3 was somewhat more confidential, and showed that matters had proceeded rather far. You were odious yesterday night, the letter said. Why did you not come to the stage-door? Papa could not escort me on account of his eye; he had an accident, and fell down over a loose carpet on the stair on Sunday night. I saw you looking at Miss Diggle all night; and you were so enchanted with Lydia Languish you scarcely once looked at Julia. I could have crushed Bingley, I was so angry. I play Ella Rosenberg on Friday: will you come then? Miss Diggle performs—ever your E. F.

These three letters Mr. Pen used to read at intervals, during the day and night, and embrace with that delight and fervour which such beautiful compositions surely warranted. A thousand times at least he had kissed fondly the musky satin paper, made sacred to him by the hand of Emily Fotheringay. This was all he had in return for his passion and flames, his vows and protests, his rhymes and similes, his wakeful nights and endless thoughts, his fondness, fears and folly. The young wiseacre had pledged away his all for this: signed his name to endless promissory notes, conferring his heart upon the bearer: bound himself for life, and got back twopence as an equivalent. For Miss Costigan was a young lady of such perfect good-conduct and self-command, that she never would have thought of giving more, and reserved the treasures of her affection until she could transfer them lawfully at church.

Howbeit, Mr. Pen was content with what tokens of regard he had got, and mumbled over his three letters in a rapture of high spirits, and went to sleep delighted with his kind old uncle from London, who must evidently yield to his wishes in time; and, in a word, in a preposterous state of contentment with himself and all the world.

CHAPTER IX. In which the Major opens the Campaign

Let those who have a real and heartfelt relish for London society and the privilege of an entree into its most select circles, admit that Major Pendennis was a man of no ordinary generosity and affection, in the sacrifice which he now made. He gave up London in May,—his newspapers and his mornings—his afternoons from club to club, his little confidential visits to my Ladies, his rides in Rotten Row, his dinners, and his stall at the Opera, his rapid escapades to Fulham or Richmond on Saturdays and Sundays, his bow from my Lord Duke or my Lord Marquis at the great London entertainments, and his name in the Morning Post of the succeeding day,—his quieter little festivals, more select, secret, and delightful—all these he resigned to lock himself into a lone little country house, with a simple widow and a greenhorn of a son, a mawkish curate, and a little girl of ten years of age.

He made the sacrifice, and it was the greater that few knew the extent of it. His letters came down franked from town, and he showed the invitations to Helen with a sigh. It was beautiful and tragical to see him refuse one party after another—at least to those who could understand, as Helen didn't, the melancholy grandeur of his self-denial. Helen did not, or only smiled at the awful pathos with which the Major spoke of the Court Guide in general: but young Pen looked with great respect at the great names upon the superscriptions of his uncle's letters, and listened to the Major's stories about the fashionable world with constant interest and sympathy.

The elder Pendennis's rich memory was stored with thousands of these delightful tales, and he poured them into Pen's willing ear with unfailing eloquence. He knew the name and pedigree of everybody in the Peerage, and everybody's relations. "My dear boy," he would say, with a mournful earnestness and veracity, "you cannot begin your genealogical studies too early; I wish to Heavens you would read in Debrett every day. Not so much the historical part (for the pedigrees, between ourselves, are many of them very fabulous, and there are few families that can show such a clear descent as our own) as the account of family alliances, and who is related to whom. I have known a man's career in life blasted by ignorance on this important, this all-important subject. Why, only last month, at dinner at my Lord Hobanob's, a young man, who has lately been received among us, young Mr. Suckling (author of a work, I believe), began to speak lightly of Admiral Bowser's conduct for ratting to Ministers, in what I must own is the most audacious manner. But who do you think sate next and opposite to this Mr. Suckling? Why—why, next to him was Lady Grampound Bowser's daughter, and opposite to him was Lord Grampound Bowser's son-in-law. The infatuated young man went on cutting his jokes at the Admiral's expense, fancying that all the world was laughing with him, and I leave you to imagine Lady Hobanob's feelings—Hobanob's!—those of every well-bred man, as the wretched intru was so exposing himself. He will never dine again in South Street. I promise you that."

With such discourses the Major entertained his nephew, as he paced the terrace in front of the house for his two hours' constitutional walk, or as they sate together after dinner over their wine. He grieved that Sir Francis Clavering had not come down to the park, to live in it since his marriage, and to make a society for the neighbourhood. He mourned that Lord Eyrie was not in the country, that he might take Pen and present him to his lordship. "He has daughters," the Major said. "Who knows? you might have married Lady Emily or Lady Barbara Trehawk; but all those dreams are over; my poor fellow, you must lie on the bed which you have made for yourself."

These things to hear did young Pendennis seriously incline. They are not so interesting in print as when delivered orally; but the Major's anecdotes of the great George, of the Royal Dukes, of the statesmen, beauties, and fashionable ladies of the day, filled young Pen's soul with longing and wonder; and he found the conversations with his guardian, which sadly bored and perplexed poor Mrs. Pendennis, for his own part never tedious.

It can't be said that Mr. Pen's new guide, philosopher, and friend discoursed him on the most elevated subjects, or treated the subjects which he chose in the most elevated manner. But his morality, such as it was, was consistent. It might not, perhaps, tend to a man's progress in another world, but it was pretty well calculated to advance his interests in this; and then it must be remembered that the Major never for one instant doubted that his views were the only views practicable, and that his conduct was perfectly virtuous and respectable. He was a man of honour, in a word: and had his eyes, what he called, open. He took pity on this young greenhorn of a nephew, and wanted to open his eyes too.

No man, for instance, went more regularly to church when in the country than the old bachelor. "It don't matter so much in town, Pen," he said, "for there the women go and the men are not missed. But when a gentleman is sur ses terres, he must give an example to the country people: and if I could turn a tune, I even think I should sing. The Duke of Saint David's, whom I have the honour of knowing, always sings in the country, and let me tell you, it has a doosed fine effect from the family pew. And you are somebody down here. As long as the Claverings are away you are the first man in the parish: and as good as any. You might represent the town if you played your cards well. Your poor dear father would have done so had he lived; so might you.—Not if you marry a lady, however amiable, whom the country people won't meet.—Well, well: it's a painful subject. Let us change it, my boy." But if Major Pendennis changed the subject once he recurred to it a score of times in the day: and the moral of his discourse always was, that Pen was throwing himself away. Now it does not require much coaxing or wheedling to make a simple boy believe that he is a very fine fellow.

Pen took his uncle's counsels to heart. He was glad enough, we have said, to listen to his elder's talk. The conversation of Captain Costigan became by no means pleasant to him, and the idea of that tipsy old father-in-law haunted him with terror. He couldn't bring that man, unshaven and reeking of punch, to associate with his mother. Even about Emily—he faltered when the pitiless guardian began to question him. "Was she accomplished?" He was obliged to own, no. "Was she clever?" Well, she had a very good average intellect: but he could not absolutely say she was clever. "Come, let us see some of her letters." So Pen confessed that he had but those three of which we have made mention—and that they were but trivial invitations or answers.

"She is cautious enough," the Major said, drily. "She is older than you, my poor boy;" and then he apologised with the utmost frankness and humility, and flung himself upon Pen's good feelings, begging the lad to excuse a fond old uncle, who had only his family's honour in view—for Arthur was ready to flame up in indignation whenever Miss Costigan's honesty was doubted, and swore that he would never have her name mentioned lightly, and never, never would part from her.

He repeated this to his uncle and his friends at home, and also, it must be confessed, to Miss Fotheringay and the amiable family, at Chatteris, with whom he still continued to spend some portion of his time. Miss Emily was alarmed when she heard of the arrival of Pen's guardian, and rightly conceived that the Major came down with hostile intentions to herself. "I suppose ye intend to leave me, now your grand relation has come down from town. He'll carry ye off, and you'll forget your poor Emily, Mr. Arthur!"

Forget her! In her presence, in that of Miss Rouncy, the Columbine and Milly's confidential friend of the Company, in the presence of the Captain himself, Pen swore he never could think of any other woman but his beloved Miss Fotheringay; and the Captain, looking up at his foils which were hung as a trophy on the wall of the room where Pen and he used to fence, grimly said, he would not advoise any man to meddle rashly with the affections of his darling child; and would never believe his gallant young Arthur, whom he treated as his son, whom he called his son, would ever be guilty of conduct so revolting to every idaya of honour and humanity.

He went up and embraced Pen after speaking. He cried, and wiped his eye with one large dirty hand as he clasped Pen with the other. Arthur shuddered in that grasp, and thought of his uncle at home. His father-in-law looked unusually dirty and shabby; the odour of whisky-and-water was even more decided than in common. How was he to bring that man and his mother together? He trembled when he thought that he had absolutely written to Costigan (enclosing to him a sovereign, the loan of which the worthy gentleman had need), and saying that one day he hoped to sign himself his affectionate son, Arthur Pendennis. He was glad to get away from Chatteris that day; from Miss Rouncy the confidante; from the old toping father-in-law; from the divine Emily herself. "O, Emily, Emily," he cried inwardly, as he rattled homewards on Rebecca, "you little know what sacrifices I am making for you!—for you who are always so cold, so cautious, so mistrustful;" and he thought of a character in Pope to whom he had often involuntarily compared her.

Pen never rode over to Chatteris upon a certain errand, but the Major found out on what errand the boy had been. Faithful to his plan, Major Pendennis gave his nephew no let or hindrance; but somehow the constant feeling that the senior's eye was upon him, an uneasy shame attendant upon that inevitable confession which the evening's conversation would be sure to elicit in the most natural simple manner, made Pen go less frequently to sigh away his soul at the feet of his charmer than he had been wont to do previous to his uncle's arrival. There was no use trying to deceive him; there was no pretext of dining with Smirke, or reading Greek plays with Foker; Pen felt, when he returned from one of his flying visits, that everybody knew whence he came, and appeared quite guilty before his mother and guardian, over their books or their game at picquet.

Once having walked out half a mile, to the Fairoaks Inn, beyond the Lodge gates, to be in readiness for the Competitor coach, which changed horses there, to take a run for Chatteris, a man on the roof touched his hat to the young gentleman: it was his uncle's man, Mr. Morgan, who was going on a message for his master, and had been took up at the Lodge, as he said. And Mr. Morgan came back by the Rival, too; so that Pen had the pleasure of that domestic's company both ways. Nothing was said at home. The lad seemed to have every decent liberty; and yet he felt himself dimly watched and guarded, and that there were eyes upon him even in the presence of his Dulcinea.

In fact, Pen's suspicions were not unfounded, and his guardian had sent forth to gather all possible information regarding the lad and his interesting young friend. The discreet and ingenious Mr. Morgan, a London confidential valet, whose fidelity could be trusted, had been to Chatteris more than once, and made every inquiry regarding the past history and present habits of the Captain and his daughter. He delicately cross-examined the waiters, the ostlers, and all the inmates of the bar at the George, and got from them what little they knew respecting the worthy Captain. He was not held in very great regard there, as it appeared. The waiters never saw the colour of his money, and were warned not to furnish the poor gentleman with any liquor for which some other party was not responsible. He swaggered sadly about the coffee-room there, consumed a toothpick, and looked over the paper, and if any friend asked him to dinner he stayed. Morgan heard at the George of Pen's acquaintance with Mr. Foker, and he went over to Baymouth to enter into relations with that gentleman's man; but the young student was gone to a Coast Regatta, and his servant, of course, travelled in charge of the dressing-case.

From the servants of the officers at the barracks Mr. Morgan found that the Captain had so frequently and outrageously inebriated himself there, that Colonel Swallowtail had forbidden him the messroom. The indefatigable Morgan then put himself in communication with some of the inferior actors at the theatre, and pumped them over their cigars and punch, and all agreed that Costigan was poor, shabby, and given to debt and to drink. But there was not a breath upon the reputation of Miss Fotheringay: her father's courage was reported to have displayed itself on more than one occasion towards persons disposed to treat his daughter with freedom. She never came to the theatre but with her father: in his most inebriated moments, that gentleman kept a watch over her; finally Mr. Morgan, from his own experience added that he had been to see her act, and was uncommon delighted with the performance, besides thinking her a most splendid woman.

Mrs. Creed, the pew-opener, confirmed these statements to Doctor Portman, who examined her personally, and threatened her with the terrors of the Church one day after afternoon service. Mrs. Creed had nothing unfavourable to her lodger to divulge. She saw nobody; only one or two ladies of the theatre. The Captain did intoxicate himself sometimes, and did not always pay his rent regularly, but he did when he had money, or rather Miss Fotheringay did. Since the young gentleman from Clavering had been and took lessons in fencing, one or two more had come from the barracks; Sir Derby Oaks, and his young friend, Mr. Foker, which was often together; and which was always driving over from Baymouth in the tandem. But on the occasions of the lessons, Miss F. was very seldom present, and generally came downstairs to Mrs. Creed's own room.

The Doctor and the Major consulting together as they often did, groaned in spirit over that information. Major Pendennis openly expressed his disappointment; and, I believe, the Divine himself was ill pleased at not being able to jack a hole in poor Miss Fotheringay's reputation.

Even about Pen himself, Mrs. Creed's reports were desperately favourable. "Whenever he come," Mrs. Creed said, "She always have me or one of the children with her. And Mrs. Creed, marm, says she, if you please, marm, you'll on no account leave the room when that young gentleman's here. And many's the time I've seen him a lookin' as if he wished I was away, poor young man: and he took to coming in service-time, when I wasn't at home, of course: but she always had one of the boys up if her Pa wasn't at home, or old Mr. Bowser with her a teaching of her her lesson, or one of the young ladies of the theayter."

It was all true: whatever encouragements might have been given him before he avowed his passion, the prudence of Miss Emily was prodigious after Pen had declared himself: and the poor fellow chafed against her hopeless reserve, which maintained his ardour as it excited his anger.

The Major surveyed the state of things with a sigh. "If it were but a temporary liaison," the excellent man said, "one could bear it. A young fellow must sow his wild oats, and that sort of thing. But a virtuous attachment is the deuce. It comes of the d——d romantic notions boys get from being brought up by women."

"Allow me to say, Major, that you speak a little too like a man of the world," replied the Doctor. "Nothing can be more desirable for Pen than a virtuous attachment for a young lady of his own rank and with a corresponding fortune—this present infatuation, of course, I must deplore as sincerely as you do. If I were his guardian I should command him to give it up."

"The very means, I tell you, to make him marry to-morrow. We have got time from him, that is all, and we must do our best with that.

"I say, Major," said the Doctor, at the end of the conversation in which the above subject was discussed—"I am not, of course, a play-going man—but suppose, I say, we go and see her."

The Major laughed—he had been a fortnight at Fairoaks, and strange to say, had not thought of that. "Well," he said, "why not? After all, it is not my niece, but Miss Fotheringay the actress, and we have as good a right as any other of the public to see her if we pay our money." So upon a day when it was arranged that Pen was to dine at home, and pass the evening with his mother, the two elderly gentlemen drove over to Chatteris in the Doctor's chaise, and there, like a couple of jolly bachelors, dined at the George Inn, before proceeding to the play.

Only two other guests were in the room,—an officer of the regiment quartered at Chatteris, and a young gentleman whom the Doctor thought he had somewhere seen. They left them at their meal, however, and hastened to the theatre. It was Hamlet over again. Shakspeare was Article XL. of stout old Doctor Portman's creed, to which he always made a point of testifying publicly at least once in a year.

We have described the play before, and how those who saw Miss Fotheringay perform in Ophelia saw precisely the same thing on one night as on another. Both the elderly gentlemen looked at her with extraordinary interest, thinking how very much young Pen was charmed with her.

"Gad," said the Major, between his teeth, as he surveyed her when she was called forward as usual, and swept her curtsies to the scanty audience, "the young rascal has not made a bad choice."

The Doctor applauded her loudly and loyally. "Upon my word," said he, "She is a very clever actress; and I must say, Major, she is endowed with very considerable personal attractions."

"So that young officer thinks in the stage-box," Major Pendennis answered, and he pointed out to Doctor Portman's attention the young dragoon of the George Coffee-room, who sate in the box in question, and applauded with immense enthusiasm. She looked extremely sweet upon him too, thought the Major: but that's their way—and he shut up his natty opera-glass and pocketed it, as if he wished to see no more that night. Nor did the Doctor, of course, propose to stay for the after-piece, so they rose and left the theatre; the Doctor returning to Mrs. Portman, who was on a visit at the Deanery, and the Major walking home full of thought towards the George, where he had bespoken a bed.

CHAPTER X. Facing the Enemy

Sauntering slowly homewards, Major Pendennis reached the George presently, and found Mr. Morgan, his faithful valet, awaiting him at the door of the George Inn, who stopped his master as he was about to take a candle to go to bed, and said, with his usual air of knowing deference, "I think, sir, if you would go into the coffee-room, there's a young gentleman there as you would like to see."

"What, is Mr. Arthur here?" the Major said, in great anger.

"No, sir—but his great friend, Mr. Foker, sir. Lady Hagnes Foker's son is here, sir. He's been asleep in the coffee-room since he took his dinner, and has just rung for his coffee, sir. And I think, p'raps, you might like to git into conversation with him," the valet said, opening the coffee-room door.

The Major entered; and there indeed was Mr. Foker, the only occupant of the place. He was rubbing his eyes, and sate before a table rated with empty decanters and relics of dessert. He had intended to go to the play too, but sleep had overtaken him after a copious meal, and he had flung up his legs on the bench, and indulged in a nap instead of the dramatic amusement. The Major was meditating how to address the young man, but the latter prevented him that trouble.

"Like to look at the evening paper, sir?" said Mr. Foker, who was always communicative and affable; and he took up the Globe from his table, and offered it to the new-comer.

"I am very much obliged to you," said the Major, with a grateful bow and smile. "If I don't mistake the family likeness, I have the pleasure of speaking to Mr. Henry Foker, Lady Agnes Foker's son. I have the happiness to name her ladyship among my acquaintances—and you bear, sir, a Rosherville face."

"Hullo! I beg your pardon," Mr. Foker said, "I took you,"—he was going to say—"I took you for a commercial gent." But he stopped that phrase. "To whom have I the pleasure of speaking?" he added.

"To a relative of a friend and schoolfellow of yours—Arthur Pendennis, my nephew, who has often spoken to me about you in terms of great regard. I am Major Pendennis, of whom you may have heard him speak. May I take my soda-water at your table? I have had the pleasure of sitting at your grandfather's."

"Sir, you do me proud," said Mr. Foker, with much courtesy. "And so you are Arthur Pendennis's uncle, are you?"

"And guardian," added the Major.

"He's as good a fellow as ever stepped, sir," said Mr. Foker.

"I am glad you think so."

"And clever, too—I was always a stupid chap, I was—but you see, sir, I know 'em when they are clever, and like 'em of that sort."

"You show your taste and your modesty, too," said the Major. "I have heard Arthur repeatedly speak of you, and he said your talents were very good."

"I'm not good at the books," Mr. Foker said, wagging his head—"never could manage that—Pendennis could—he used to do half the chaps' verses—and yet"—the young gentleman broke out, "you are his guardian; and I hope you will pardon me for saying that I think he's what we call flat," the candid young gentleman said.

The Major found himself on the instant in the midst of a most interesting and confidential conversation. "And how is Arthur a flat?" he asked, with a smile.

"You know," Foker answered, winking at him—he would have winked at the Duke of Wellington with just as little scruple, for he was in that state of absence, candour, and fearlessness which a man sometimes possesses after drinking a couple of bottles of wine—"You know Arthur's a flat,—about women I mean."

"He is not the first of us, my dear Mr. Harry," answered the Major. "I have heard something of this—but pray tell me more."

"Why, sir, you see—it's partly my fault. He went to the play one night—for you see I'm down here readin' for my little go during the Long, only I come over from Baymouth pretty often in my drag—well, sir, we went to the play, and Pen was struck all of a heap with Miss Fotheringay—Costigan her real name is—an uncommon fine gal she is too; and the next morning I introduced him to the General, as we call her father—a regular old scamp and such a boy for the whisky-and-water!—and he's gone on being intimate there. And he's fallen in love with her—and I'm blessed if he hasn't proposed to her," Foker said, slapping his hand on the table, until all the dessert began to jingle.

"What! you know it too?" asked the Major.

"Know it! don't I? and many more too. We were talking about it at mess, yesterday, and chaffing Derby Oaks—until he was as mad as a hatter. Know Sir Derby Oaks? We dined together, and he went to the play: we were standing at the door smoking, I remember, when you passed in to dinner."

"I remember Sir Thomas Oaks, his father, before he was a Baronet or a Knight; he lived in Cavendish-square, and was physician to Queen Charlotte."

"The young one is making the money spin, I can tell you," Mr. Foker said.

"And is Sir Derby Oaks," the Major said, with great delight and anxiety, "another soupirant?"

"Another what?" inquired Mr. Foker.

"Another admirer of Miss Fotheringay?"

"Lord bless you! we call him Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays, and Pen Tuesdays, Thursdays, and Saturdays. But mind you, nothing wrong! No, no! Miss F. is a deal too wide-awake for that, Major Pendennis. She plays one off against the other. What you call two strings to her bow."

"I think you seem tolerably wide-awake, too, Mr. Foker, Pendennis said, laughing.

"Pretty well, thank you, sir—how are you?" Foker replied, imperturbably. "I'm not clever, p'raps: but I am rather downy; and partial friends say I know what's o'clock tolerably well. Can I tell you the time of day in any way?"

"Upon my word," the Major answered, quite delighted, "I think you may be of very great service to me. You are a young man of the world, and with such one likes to deal. And as such I need not inform you that our family is by no means delighted at this absurd intrigue in which Arthur is engaged."

"I should rather think not," said Mr. Foker. "Connexion not eligible. Too much beer drunk on the premises. No Irish need apply. That I take to be your meaning."

The Major said it was, exactly; though in truth he did not quite understand what Mr. Foker's meaning was: and he proceeded to examine his new acquaintance regarding the amiable family into which his nephew proposed to enter, and soon got from the candid witness a number of particulars regarding the House of Costigan.

We must do Mr. Foker the justice to say that he spoke most favourably of Mr. and Miss Costigan's moral character. "You see," said he, "I think the General is fond of the jovial bowl, and if I wanted to be very certain of my money, it isn't in his pocket I'd invest it—but he has always kept a watchful eye on his daughter, and neither he nor she will stand anything but what's honourable. Pen's attentions to her are talked about in the whole Company, and I hear all about them from a young lady who used to be very intimate with her, and with whose family I sometimes take tea in a friendly way. Miss Rouncy says, Sir Derby Oaks has been hanging about Miss Fotheringay ever since his regiment has been down here; but Pen has come in and cut him out lately, which has made the Baronet so mad, that he has been very near on the point of proposing too. Wish he would; and you'd see which of the two Miss Fotheringay would jump at."

"I thought as much," the Major said. "You give me a great deal of pleasure, Mr. Foker. I wish I could have seen you before."

"Didn't like to put in my oar," replied the other. "Don't speak till I'm asked, when, if there's no objections, I speak pretty freely. Heard your man had been hankering about my servant—didn't know myself what was going on until Miss Fotheringay and Miss Rouncy had the row about the ostrich feathers, when Miss R. told me everything."

"Miss Rouncy, I gather, was the confidante of the other."

"Confidant? I believe you. Why, she's twice as clever a girl as Fotheringay, and literary and that, while Miss Foth can't do much more than read."

"She can write," said the Major, remembering Pen's breast-pocket.

Foker broke out into a sardonic "He, he! Rouncy writes her letters," he said; "every one of 'em; and since they've quarrelled, she don't know how the deuce to get on. Miss Rouncy is an uncommon pretty hand, whereas the old one makes dreadful work of the writing and spelling when Bows ain't by. Rouncy's been settin' her copies lately—she writes a beautiful hand, Rouncy does."

"I suppose you know it pretty well," said the Major archly upon which Mr. Foker winked at him again.

"I would give a great deal to have a specimen of her hand-writing," continued Major Pendennis, "I dare say you could give me one."

"No, no, that would be too bad," Foker replied. "Perhaps I oughtn't to have said as much as I have. Miss F.'s writin' ain't so very bad, I dare say; only she got Miss R. to write the first letter, and has gone on ever since. But you mark my word, that till they are friends again the letters will stop."

"I hope they will never be reconciled," the Major said with great sincerity; "and I can't tell you how delighted I am to have had the good fortune of making your acquaintance. You must feel, my dear sir, as a man of the world, how fatal to my nephew's prospects in life is this step which he contemplates, and how eager we all must be to free him from this absurd engagement."

"He has come out uncommon strong," said Mr. Foker; "I have seen his verses; Rouncy copied 'em. And I said to myself when I saw 'em, 'Catch me writin' verses to a woman,—that's all.'"

"He has made a fool of himself, as many a good fellow has before him. How can we make him see his folly, and cure it? I am sure you will give us what aid you can in extricating a generous young man from such a pair of schemers as this father and daughter seem to be. Love on the lady's side is out of the question."

"Love, indeed!" Foker said. "If Pen hadn't two thousand a year when he came of age——"

"If Pen hadn't what?" cried out the Major in astonishment.

"Two thousand a year: hasn't he got two thousand a year?—the General says he has."

"My dear friend," shrieked out the Major, with an eagerness which this gentleman rarely showed, "thank you!—thank you!—I begin to see now.—Two thousand a year! Why, his mother has but five hundred a year in the world.—She is likely to live to eighty, and Arthur has not a shilling but what she can allow him."

"What! he ain't rich then?" Foker asked.

"Upon my honour he has no more than what I say."

"And you ain't going to leave him anything?"

The Major had sunk every shilling he could scrape together on an annuity, and of course was going to leave Pen nothing; but he did not tell Foker this. "How much do you think a Major on half-pay can save?" he asked. "If these people have been looking at him as a fortune, they are utterly mistaken-and-and you have made me the happiest man in the world."

"Sir to you," said Mr. Foker, politely, and when they parted for the night they shook hands with the greatest cordiality; the younger gentleman promising the elder not to leave Chatteris without a further conversation in the morning. And as the Major went up to his room, and Mr. Foker smoked his cigar against the door pillars of the George, Pen, very likely, ten miles off; was lying in bed kissing the letter from his Emily.

The next morning, before Mr. Foker drove off in his drag, the insinuating Major had actually got a letter of Miss Rouncy's in his own pocket-book. Let it be a lesson to women how they write. And in very high spirits Major Pendennis went to call upon Doctor Portman at the Deanery, and told him what happy discoveries he had made on the previous night. As they sate in confidential conversation in the Dean's oak breakfast-parlour they could look across the lawn and see Captain Costigan's window, at which poor Pen had been only too visible some three weeks since. The Doctor was most indignant against Mrs. Creed, the landlady, for her duplicity, in concealing Sir Derby Oaks's constant visits to her lodgers, and threatened to excommunicate her out of the Cathedral. But the wary Major thought that all things were for the best; and, having taken counsel with himself over night, felt himself quite strong enough to go and face Captain Costigan.

"I'm going to fight the dragon," he said, with a laugh, to Doctor Portman.

"And I shrive you, sir, and bid good fortune go with you," answered the Doctor. Perhaps he and Mrs. Portman and Miss Myra, as they sate with their friend, the Dean's lady, in her drawing-room, looked up more than once at the enemy's window to see if they could perceive any signs of the combat.

The Major walked round, according to the directions given him, and soon found Mrs. Creed's little door. He passed it, and as he ascended to Captain Costigan's apartment, he could hear a stamping of feet, and a great shouting of "Ha, ha!" within.

"It's Sir Derby Oaks taking his fencing lesson," said the child, who piloted Major Pendennis. "He takes it Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays."

The Major knocked, and at length a tall gentleman came forth, with a foil and mask in one hand, and a fencing glove on the other.

Pendennis made him a deferential bow. "I believe I have the honour of speaking to Captain Costigan—My name is Major Pendennis."

The Captain brought his weapon up to the salute, and said, "Major, the honer is moine; I'm deloighted to see ye."

CHAPTER XI. Negotiation

The Major and Captain Costigan were old soldiers and accustomed to face the enemy, so we may presume that they retained their presence of mind perfectly; but the rest of the party assembled in Cos's sitting-room were, perhaps, a little flurried at Pendennis's apparition. Miss Fotheringay's slow heart began to beat no doubt, for her cheek flushed up with a great healthy blush, as Lieutenant Sir Derby Oaks looked at her with a scowl. The little crooked old man in the window-seat, who had been witnessing the fencing-match between the two gentlemen (whose stamping and jumping had been such as to cause him to give up all attempts to continue writing the theatre music, in the copying of which he had been engaged) looked up eagerly towards the new-comer as the Major of the well-blacked boots entered the apartment distributing the most graceful bows to everybody present.

"Me daughter—me friend, Mr. Bows—me gallant young pupil and friend, I may call 'um, Sir Derby Oaks," said Costigan, splendidly waving his hand, and pointing each of these individuals to the Major's attention. "In one moment, Meejor, I'm your humble servant," and to dash into the little adjoining chamber where he slept, to give a twist to his lank hair with his hair-brush (a wonderful and ancient piece), to tear off his old stock and put on a new one which Emily had constructed for him, and to assume a handsome clean collar, and the new coat which had been ordered upon the occasion of Miss Fotheringay's benefit, was with the still active Costigan the work of a minute.

After him Sir Derby entered, and presently emerged from the same apartment, where he also cased himself in his little shell-jacket, which fitted tightly upon the young officer's big person; and which he, and Miss Fotheringay, and poor Pen too, perhaps, admired prodigiously.

Meanwhile conversation was engaged between the actress and the new-comer; and the usual remarks about the weather had been interchanged before Costigan re-entered in his new 'Shoot,' as he called it.

"I needn't apologoise to ye, Meejor," he said, in his richest and most courteous manner, "for receiving ye in me shirt-sleeves."

"An old soldier can't be better employed than in teaching a young one the use of his sword," answered the Major, gallantly. "I remember in old times hearing that you could use yours pretty well, Captain Costigan."

"What, ye've heard of Jack Costigan, Major," said the other, greatly.

The Major had, indeed; he had pumped his nephew concerning his new friend, the Irish officer; and whether he had no other knowledge of the Captain than what he had thus gained, or whether he actually remembered him, we cannot say. But Major Pendennis was a person of honour and undoubted veracity, and said that he perfectly well recollected meeting Mr. Costigan, and hearing him sing at Sir Richard Strachan's table at Walcheren.

At this information, and the bland and cordial manner in which it was conveyed, Bows looked up, entirely puzzled. "But we will talk of these matters another time," the Major continued, perhaps not wishing to commit himself; "it is to Miss Fotheringay that I came to pay my respects to-day;" and he performed another bow for her, so courtly and gracious, that if she had been a duchess he could not have made it more handsome.

"I had heard of your performances from my nephew, madam," the Major said, "who raves about you, as I believe you know pretty well. But Arthur is but a boy, and a wild enthusiastic young fellow, whose opinions one must not take au pied de la lettre; and I confess I was anxious to judge for myself. Permit me to say your performance delighted and astonished me. I have seen our best actresses, and, on my word, I think you surpass them all. You are as majestic as Mrs. Siddons."

"Faith, I always said so," Costigan said, winking at his daughter; "Major, take a chair." Milly rose at this hint, took an uuripped satin garment off the only vacant seat, and brought the latter to Major Pendennis with one of her finest curtseys.

"You are as pathetic as Miss O'Neill," he continued, bowing and seating himself; "your snatches of song reminded me of Mrs. Jordan in her best time, when we were young men, Captain Costigan; and your manner reminded me of Mars. Did you ever see the Mars, Miss Fotheringay?"

"There was two Mahers in Crow Street," remarked Miss Emily; "Fanny was well enough, but Biddy was no great things."

"Sure, the Major means the god of war, Milly, my dear," interposed the parent.

"It is not that Mars I meant, though Venus, I suppose, may be pardoned for thinking about him," the Major replied with a smile directed in full to Sir Derby Oaks, who now re-entered in his shell-jacket; but the lady did not understand the words of which he made use, nor did the compliment at all pacify Sir Derby, who, probably, did not understand it either, and at any rate received it with great sulkiness and stiffness, scowling uneasily at Miss Fotheringay, with an expression which seemed to ask what the deuce does this man here?

Major Pendennis was not in the least annoyed by the gentleman's ill-humour. On the contrary, it delighted him. "So," thought he, "a rival is in the field;" and he offered up vows that Sir Derby might be, not only a rival, but a winner too, in this love-match in which he and Pen were engaged.

"I fear I interrupted your fencing lesson; but my stay in Chatteris is very short, and I was anxious to make myself known to my old fellow-campaigner Captain Costigan, and to see a lady nearer who had charmed me so much from the stage. I was not the only man epris last night, Miss Fotheringay (if I must call you so, though your own family name is a very ancient and noble one). There was a reverend friend of mine, who went home in raptures with Ophelia; and I saw Sir Derby Oaks fling a bouquet which no actress ever merited better. I should have brought one myself, had I known what I was going to see. Are not those the very flowers in a glass of water on the mantelpiece yonder?"

"I am very fond of flowers," said Miss Fotheringay, with a languishing ogle at Sir Derby Oaks—but the Baronet still scowled sulkily.

"Sweets to the sweet—isn't that the expression of the play?" Mr. Pendennis asked, bent upon being good-humoured.

"'Pon my life, I don't know. Very likely it is. I ain't much of a literary man," answered Sir Derby.

"Is it possible?" the Major continued, with an air of surprise. You don't inherit your father's love of letters, then, Sir Derby? He was a remarkably fine scholar, and I had the honour of knowing him very well."

"Indeed," said the other, and gave a sulky wag of his head.

"He saved my life," continued Pendennis.

"Did he now?" cried Miss Fotheringay, rolling her eyes first upon the Major with surprise, then towards Sir Derby with gratitude—but the latter was proof against those glances: and far from appearing to be pleased that the Apothecary, his father, should have saved Major Pendennis's life, the young man actually looked as if he wished the event had turned the other way.

"My father, I believe, was a very good doctor," the young gentleman said by way of reply. "I'm not in that line myself. I wish you good morning, sir. I've got an appointment—Cos, bye-bye—Miss Fotheringay, good morning." And, in spite of the young lady's imploring looks and appealing smiles, the Dragoon bowed stiffly out of the room, and the clatter of his sabre was heard as he strode down the creaking stair; and the angry tones of his voice as he cursed little Tom Creed, who was disporting in the passage, and whose peg-top Sir Derby kicked away with an oath into the street.

The Major did not smile in the least, though he had every reason to be amused. "Monstrous handsome young man that—as fine a looking soldier as ever I saw," he said to Costigan.

"A credit to the army and to human nature in general," answered Costigan. "A young man of refoined manners, polite affabilitee, and princely fortune. His table is sumptuous: he's adawr'd in the regiment: and he rides sixteen stone."

"A perfect champion," said the Major, laughing. "I have no doubt all the ladies admire him."

"He's very well, in spite of his weight, now he's young," said Milly; "but he's no conversation."

"He's best on horseback," Mr. Bows said; on which Milly replied, that the Baronet had ridden third in the steeple-chase on his horse Tareaways, and the Major began to comprehend that the young lady herself was not of a particular genius, and to wonder how she should be so stupid and act so well.

Costigan, with Irish hospitality, of course pressed refreshment upon his guest: and the Major, who was no more hungry than you are after a Lord Mayor's dinner, declared that he should like a biscuit and a glass of wine above all things, as he felt quite faint from long fasting—but he knew that to receive small kindnesses flatters the donors very much, and that people must needs grow well disposed towards you as they give you their hospitality.

"Some of the old Madara, Milly, love," Costigan said, winking to his child—and that lady, turning to her father a glance of intelligence, went out of the room, and down the stair, where she softly summoned her little emissary Master Tommy Creed: and giving him a piece of money, ordered him to go buy a pint of Madara wine at the Grapes, and sixpennyworth of sorted biscuits at the baker's, and to return in a hurry, when he might have two biscuits for himself.

Whilst Tommy Creed was gone on this errand, Miss Costigan sate below with Mrs. Creed, telling her landlady how Mr. Arthur Pendennis's uncle, the Major, was above-stairs; a nice, soft-spoken old gentleman; that butter wouldn't melt in his mouth: and how Sir Derby had gone out of the room in a rage of jealousy, and thinking what must be done to pacify both of them.

"She keeps the keys of the cellar, Major," said Mr. Costigan, as the girl left the room.

"Upon my word you have a very beautiful butler," answered Pendennis, gallantly, "and I don't wonder at the young fellows raving about her. When we were of their age, Captain Costigan, I think plainer women would have done our business."

"Faith, and ye may say that, sir—and lucky is the man who gets her. Ask me friend Bob Bows here whether Miss Fotheringay's moind is not even shuparior to her person, and whether she does not possess a cultiveated intellect, a refoined understanding, and an emiable disposition?"

"O of course," said Mr. Bows, rather drily. "Here comes Hebe blushing from the cellar. Don't you think it is time to go to rehearsal, Miss Hebe? You will be fined if you are later"—and he gave the young lady a look, which intimated that they had much better leave the room and the two elders together.

At this order Miss Hebe took up her bonnet and shawl, looking uncommonly pretty, good-humoured, and smiling: and Bows gathered up his roll of papers, and hobbled across the room for his hat and cane.

"Must you go?" said the Major. "Can't you give us a few minutes more, Miss Fotheringay? Before you leave us, permit an old fellow to shake you by the hand, and believe that I am proud to have had the honour of making your acquaintance, and am most sincerely anxious to be your friend."

Miss Fotheringay made a low curtsey at the conclusion of this gallant speech, and the Major followed her retreating steps to the door, where he squeezed her hand with the kindest and most paternal pressure. Bows was puzzled with this exhibition of cordiality: "The lad's relatives can't be really wanting to marry him to her," he thought—and so they departed.

"Now for it," thought Major Pendennis; and as for Mr. Costigan he profited instantaneously by his daughter's absence to drink up the rest of the wine; and tossed off one bumper after another of the Madeira from the Grapes, with an eager shaking hand. The Major came up to the table, and took up his glass and drained it with a jovial smack. If it had been Lord Steyne's particular, and not public-house Cape, he could not have appeared to relish it more.

"Capital Madeira, Captain Costigan," he said. "Where do you get it? I drink the health of that charming creature in a bumper. Faith, Captain, I don't wonder that the men are wild about her. I never saw such eyes in my life, or such a grand manner. I am sure she is as intellectual as she is beautiful; and I have no doubt she's as good as she is clever."

"A good girl, sir,—a good girl, sir," said the delighted father; "and I pledge a toast to her with all my heart. Shall I send to the—to the cellar for another pint? It's handy by. No? Well, indeed sir, ye may say she is a good girl, and the pride and glory of her father—honest old Jack Costigan. The man who gets her will have a jew'l to a wife, sir; and I drink his health, sir, and ye know who I mean, Major."

"I am not surprised at young or old falling in love with her," said the Major, "and frankly must tell you, that though I was very angry with my poor nephew Arthur, when I heard of the boy's passion—now I have seen the lady I can pardon him any extent of it. By George, I should like to enter for the race myself, if I weren't an old fellow and a poor one."

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