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the heroines of the novel. Blanche, in black ringlets and a little altered, was the Neæra of Walter Lorraine.
Blanche had read it: the language of the eyes expressed her admiration and rapture at the performance. This little play being achieved, the Marquis of Steyne made other two profound bows to Lady Clavering and her daughter, and passed on to some other of his guests at the splendid entertainment.
Mamma and daughter were loud in their expressions of admiration of the noble Marquis so soon as his broad back was turned upon them. "He said they make a very nice couple," whispered Major Pendennis to Lady Clavering. Did he now, really? Mamma thought they would; Mamma was so flustered with the honour which had just been shown to her, and with other intoxicating events of the evening, that her good humour knew no bounds. She laughed, she winked, and nodded knowingly at Pen; she tapped him on the arm with her fan; she tapped Blanche; she tapped the Major; - her contentment was boundless, and her method of showing her joy equally expansive.
As the party went down the great staircase of Gaunt House, the morning had risen stark and clear over the black trees of the square; the skies were tinged with pink: and the cheeks of some of the people at the ball,-ah, how ghastly they looked! That admirable and devoted Major above all,-who had been for hours by Lady Clavering's side, ministering to her and feeding her body with everything that was nice, and her ear with everything that was sweet and flattering,-oh! what an object he was! The rings round his eyes were of the colour of bistre; those orbs themselves were like the plovers' eggs whereof Lady Clavering and Blanche had each tasted; the wrinkles in his old face were furrowed in deep gashes; and a silver stubble, like an elderly morning dew, was glittering on his chin, and alongside the dyed whiskers, now limp and out of curl.
There he stood, with admirable patience, enduring, uncomplaining, a silent agony; knowing that people could see the state of his face (for could he not
himself perceive the condition of others, males and females, of his own age?)longing to go to rest for hours past; aware that suppers disagreed with him, and yet having eaten a little so as to keep his friend, Lady Clavering, in good humour; with twinges of rheumatism in the back and knees; with weary feet burning in his varnished boots, so tired, oh, so tired and longing for bed! If a man, struggling with hardship and bravely overcoming it, is an object admiration for the gods, that Power in whose chapels the old Major was a faithful worshipper must have looked upwards approvingly upon the constancy of Pendennis's martyrdom. There are sufferers in that cause as in the other: the negroes in the service of Mumbo Jumbo tattoo and drill themselves with burning skewers with great fortitude; and we read that the priests in the service of Baal gashed themselves and bled freely. You who can smash the idols, do so with a good courage; but do not be too fierce with the idolators,-they worship the best thing they know.
The Pendennises, the elder and the younger, waited with Lady Clavering and her daughter until her ladyship's carriage was announced, when the elder's martyrdom may be said to have come to an end, for the good-natured Begum insisted upon leaving him at his door in Bury Street: so he took the back seat of the carriage, after a feeble bow or two, and speech of thanks, polite to the last, and resolute in doing his duty. The Begum waved her dumpy little hand by way of farewell to Arthur and Foker, and Blanche smiled languidly out upon the young men, thinking whether she looked very wan and green under her rose-coloured hood, and whether it was the mirrors at Gaunt House, or the fatigue and fever of her own eyes, which made her fancy herself so pale.
Arthur, perhaps, saw quite well how yellow Blanche looked, but did not attribute that peculiarity of her complexion to the effect of the looking-glasses, or to any error in his sight or her own. Our young man of the world could use his eyes very keenly, and could see Blanche's face pretty much as nature had made it. But for poor Foker it had a radiance
which dazzled and blinded him: he could see no more faults in it than in the sun, which was now flaring over the house-tops.
Amongst other wicked London habits which Pen had acquired, the moralist will remark that he had got to keep very bad hours; and often was going to bed at the time when sober country people were thinking of leaving it. Men get used to one hour as to another. Editors of newspapers, Covent-Garden market people, night cabmen and coffee-sellers, chimney sweeps, and gentlemen and ladies of fashion who frequent balls, are often quite lively at three or four o'clock of a morning, when ordinary mortals are snoring. We have shown in the last chapter how Pen was in a brisk condition of mind at this period, inclined to smoke his cigar at ease, and to speak freely.
Foker and Pen walked away from Gaunt House, then, indulging in both the above amusements: or rather Pen talked, and Foker looked as if he wanted to say something. Pen was sarcastic and dandyfied when he had been in the company of great folks; he could not help imitating some of their airs and tones, and having a most lively imagination, mistook himself for a person of importance very easily. He rattled away, and attacked this person and that; sneered at Lady John Turnbull's bad French, which her ladyship will introduce into all conversations in spite of the sneers of everybody; at Mrs. Slack Roper's extraordinary costume and sham jewels; at the old dandies and the young ones;-at whom didn't he sneer and laugh?
"You fire at everybody, Pen-you're grown awful, that you are," Foker said.
Now you've pulled about Blondel's yellow wig, and Colchicum's black one, why don't you have a shy at a brown one, hay? you know whose I mean. It got into Lady Clavering's carriage."
Under my uncle's hat? My uncle is a martyr, Foker, my boy. My uncle has been doing excruciating duties all night. He likes to go to bed rather early. He has a dreadful headache if he sits up and touches supper. He always has the gout if he walks or stands
much at a ball. He has been sitting up, and standing up, and supping. He has gone home to the gout and the headache, and for my sake. Shall I make fun of the old boy? no, not for Venice !"
"How do you mean that he has been doing it for your sake?" Foker asked, looking rather alarmed.
"Boy! canst thou keep a secret if I impart it to thee?" Pen cried out, in high spirits. "Art thou of good counsel? Wilt thou swear? Wilt thou be mum, or wilt thou preach? Wilt thou be silent and hear, or wilt thou speak and die?" And as he spoke, flinging himself into an absurd theatrical attitude, the men in the cab-stand in Piccadilly wondered and grinned at the antics of the two young swells.
"What the doose are you driving at?" Foker asked, looking very much agitated.
Pen, however, hid not remark this agitation much, but continued in the same bantering and excited vein. Henry, friend of my youth," he said, "and witness of my early follies, though dull at thy books, yet thou art not altogether deprived of sense,-nay, blush not, Henrico, thou hast a good portion of that, and of courage and kindness too, at the service of thy friends. Were I in a strait of poverty, I would come to my Foker's purse. Were I in grief, I would discharge my grief upon his sympathising bosom
"Gammon, Pen-go on," Foker said. "I would, Henrico, upon thy studs, and upon thy cambric worked by the hands of beauty, to adorn the breast of valour! Know then, friend of my boyhood's days, that Arthur Pendennis, of the Upper Temple, student-at-law, feels that he is growing lonely, and old Care is furrowing his temples, and Baldness is busy with his crown. Shall we stop
and have a drop of coffee at this stall, it looks very hot and nice? Look how that cabman is blowing at his saucer. No, you won't? Aristocrat! I resume my tale. I am getting on in life. I have got devilish little money. I want I am thinking of getting some, and settling in life. I'm thinking of settling. I'm thinking of marrying, old
boy. I'm thinking of becoming a moral man; a steady port and sherry character with a good reputation in my quartier, and a moderate establishment of two maids and a man-with an occasional Brougham to drive out Mrs. Pendennis, and a house near the Parks for the accommodation of the children. Ha! what sayest thou? Answer thy friend, thou worthy child of beer. Speak, I adjure thee by all thy vats.
But you ain't got any money, Pen," said the other, still looking alarmed.
"I ain't? No, but she 'ave. I tell thee there is gold in store for me-not what you call money, nursed in the lap of luxury, and cradled on grains, and drinking m wealth from a thousand mash-tubs. What do you know about money? What is poverty to you, is splendour to the hardy son of the humble apothecary. You can't live without an establishment, and your houses in town and country. A snug little house somewhere off Belgravia, a Brougham for my wife, a decent cook, and a fair bottle of wine for my friends at home sometimes; these simple necessaries suffice for me, my Foker." And here Pendennis began to look more serious. Without bantering further, Pen continued, "I've rather serious thoughts of settling and marrying. No man can get on in the world without some money at his back. You must have a certain stake to begin with, before you can go in and play the great game. Who knows that I'm not going to try, old fellow? Worse men than I have won at it. And as I have not got enough capital from my fathers, I must get some by my wife-that's all."
They were walking down Grosvenor Street, as they talked, or rather as Pen talked, in the selfish fulness of his heart: and Mr. Pen must have been too much occupied with his own affairs to remark the concern and agitation of his neighbour, for he continued-"We are no longer children, you know, you and I, Harry. Bah! the time of our romance has passed away. We don't marry for passion, but for prudence and for establishment. What do you take your cousin for? Because she is a nice girl, and an Earl's daughter, and the old folks wish it, and that sort of thing."
you, Pendennis," asked Foker, "you ain't very fond of the girl-you're going to marry?" "Com
Pen shrugged his shoulders.
me ca," said he; "I like her well enough. She's pretty enough; she's clever enough. think she'll do very well. And she has got money enough -that's the great point. Psha! you know who she is, don't you? I thought you were sweet on her yourself one night when we dined with her mamma. It's little Amory."
"I-I thought so," Foker said: "and has she accepted you?"
"Not quite," Arthur replied, with a confident smile, which seemed to say, I have but to ask and she comes to me that instant.
"Oh, not quite"" said Foker; and he broke out with such a dreadful laugh, that Pen, for the first time, turned his thoughts from himself towards his companion, and was struck by the other's ghastly pale face.
"My dear fellow, Fo, what's the matter? You're ill," Pen said, in a torre of real concern.
"You think it was the champagne at Gaunt House, don't you? It ain't that. Come in; let me talk to you for a minute. I'll tell you what it is. D-it, let me tell somebody," Foker said.
They were at Mr. Foker's door by this time, and, opening it, Harry walked with his friend into his apartments, which were situated in the back part of the house, and behind the family diningroom, where the elder Foker received his guests, surrounded by pictures of himself, his wife, his infant son on a donkey, and the late Earl of Gravesend in his robes as a Peer. Foker and Pen passed by this chamber, now closed with death-like shutters, and entered into the young man's own quarters. Dusky streams of sunbeams were playing into that room, and lighting up poor Harry's gallery of dancing girls and opera nymphs with flickering illuminations.
"Look here ! can't help telling you, Pen," he said. "Ever since the night we dined there, I'm so fond of that girl, that I think I shall die if I don't
get her. I feel as if I should go mad sometimes. I can't stand it, Pen. I couldn't bear to hear you talking about her, just now, about marrying her only because she's money. Ah, Pen! that ain't the question in marrying. I'd bet anything it ain't. Talking about money and such a girl as that, it's-it's-whatd'ye-call'em-you know what I meanI ain't good at talking-sacrilege, then. If she'd have me, I'd take and sweep a crossing, that I would!"
"Poor Fo! I don't think that would tempt her," Pen said, eyeing his friend with a great deal of real-good nature and pity. She is not a girl for love and a cottage."
"She ought to be a duchess, I know that very well, and I know she wouldn't take me unless I could make her a great place in the world-for I ain't good for anything myself much-I ain't clever and that sort of thing," Foker said sadly. "If I had all the diamonds that all the duchesses and marchionesses had on tonight, wouldn't I put 'em in her lap? But what's the use of talking? I'm booked for another race. It's that kills me, Pen. I can't get out of it; though I die, I can't get out of it. And though my cousin's a nice girl, and I like her very well, and that, yet I hadn't seen this one when our Governors settled that matter between us. And when you talked, just now, about her doing very well, and about her having money enough for both of you, I thought to myself it isn't money or mere liking a girl, that ought to be enough to make a fellow marry. He may marry, and find
he likes somebody else better. All the money in the world won't make you happy then. Look at me; I've plenty of money, or shall have, out of the mashtubs, as you call 'em. My Governor thought he'd made it all right for me in settling my marriage with my cousin. I tell you it won't do; and when Lady Ann has got her husband, it won't be happy for either of us, and they'll have the most miserable beggar in
"Poor old fellow!" Pen said, with rather a cheap magnanimity, "I wish I could help you. I had no idea of this, and that you were so wild about the
girl. Do you think she would have you without your money? No. Do you think your father would agree to break off your engagement with your cousin? You know him very well, and that he would cast you off rather than do so."
The unhappy Foker only groaned a reply, flinging himself prostrate on a sofa, face forwards, his head in his hands,
"As for my affair," Pen went on'my dear fellow, if I had thought matters were so critical with you, at least I would not have pained you by choosing you as my confidant. And my business is not serious, at least not as yet. I have not spoken a word about it to Miss Amory. Very likely she would not have me if I asked her. Only I have had a great deal of talk about it with my uncle, who says that the match might be an eligible one for me. I'm ambitious and I'm poor. And it appears Lady Clavering will give her a good deal of money, and Sir Francis might be got to -never mind the rest. Nothing is settled, Harry. They are going out of town directly. I promise you I won't ask her before she goes. There's no hurry: there's time for everybody. But, suppose you got her, Foker. Remember what you said about marriages just now, and the misery of a man who doesn't care for his wife; and what sort of a wife would you have who didn't care for her husband?"
"But she would care for me," said Foker, from his sofa-"that is, I think she would. Last night only, as we were dancing, she said
"What did she say?" Pen cried, starting up in great wrath. But he saw his own meaning more clearly than Foker, and broke off with a laugh"Well, never mind what she said, Harry. Miss Amory is a clever girl, and says numbers of civil thingsto you to me, perhaps-and who the deuce knows to whom besides? Nothing's settled, old boy. At least my heart won't break if I don't get her. Win her if you can, and I wish you joy of her. Good-bye! Don't think about what I said to you. I was excited, and confoundedly thirsty in those
hot rooms, and didn't, I suppose, put enough Seltzer water into the champagne. Good night! I'll keep your counsel too. 'Mum' is the word between us; and let there be a fair fight, and let the best man win,' as Peter Crawley says."
So saying, Mr. Arthur Pendennis, giving a very queer and rather dangerous look at his companion, shook him by the hand, with something of that sort of cordiality which befitted his just repeated simile of the boxing-match, and which Mr. Bendigo displays when he shakes hands with Mr. Caunt before they fight each other for the champion's belt and two hundred pounds a-side. Foker returned his friend's salute with an imploring look, and a piteous squeeze of the hand, sank back on his cushions again, and Pen, putting on his hat, strode forth into the air, and almost over the body of the matutinal housemaid, who was rubbing the steps at the door.
"And so he wants her too? does he?" thought Pen as he marched along-and noted within himself with a fatal keenness of perception, and almost an infernal mischief, that the very pains and tortures which that honest heart of Foker's was suffering gave a zest and an impetus to his own pursuit of Blanche: if pursuit that might be called which had been no pursuit as yet, but mere sport and idle dallying. "She said something to him, did she? perhaps she gave him the fellow flower to this ;" and he took out of his coat and twiddled in his thumb
and finger a poor little shrivelled crumpled bud that had faded and blackened with the heat and flare of the night.-"I wonder to how many more she has given her artless tokens of affection-the little flirt !" and he flung his into the gutter, where the water may have refreshed it, and where any amateur of rosebuds may have picked it up. And then bethinking him that the day was quite bright, and that the passers-by might be staring at his beard and white neckcloth, our modest young gentleman took a cab and drove to the Temple.
Ah! is this the boy that prayed at his mother's knee but a few years since, and for whom very likely at this hour of
morning she is praying? Is this jaded and selfish worldling the lad who, a short while back, was ready to fling away his worldly all, his hope, his ambition, his chance of life, for his love? This is the man you are proud of, old Pendennis. You boast of having formed him and of having reasoned him out of his absurd romance and folly-and groaning in your bed over your pains and rheumatisms, satisfy yourself still by thinking, that, at last, that lad will do something to better himself in life, and that the Pendennises will take a good place in the world. And is he the only one, who in his progress through this dark life goes wilfully or fatally astray, whilst the natural truth and love which should illumine him grow dim in the poisoned air, and suffice to light him no more?