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his compliments to Miss Brett, the other young lady in the bar, all in a minute of time, and with a liveliness and facetiousness which set all these ladies in a giggle; and he gave a cluck, expressive of great satisfaction as he tossed off his mixture which Miss Rummer prepared and handed to him.
"Have a drop?" said he to Pen. "Give the young one a glass, R., and score it up to yours truly.'
Poor Pen took a glass, and everybody laughed at the face which he made as he put it down-Gin, bitters, and some other cordial, was the compound with which Mr. Foker was so delighted as to call it by the name of Foker's own. As Pen choked, sputtered, and made faces, the other took occasion to remark to Mr. Rummer that the young fellow was green, very green, but that he would soon form him; and then they proceeded to order dinner-which Mr. Foker determined should consist of turtle and venison; cautioning the landlady to be very particular about icing the
Then Messrs. Foker and Pen strolled down the High Street together the former having a cigar in his mouth, which he had drawn out of a case almost as big as a portmanteau. He went in to replenish it at Mr. Lewis's, and talked to that gentleman for a while, sitting down on the counter: he then looked in at the fruiterer's, to see the pretty girl there: then they passed the County Chronicle office, for which Pen had his packet ready, in the shape of "Lines to Thyrza," but poor Pen did not like to put the letter into the editor's box while walking in company with such a fine gentleman as Mr. Foker. They met heavy dragoons of the regiment always quartered at Chatteris; and stopped and talked about the Baymouth bails, and what a pretty girl was Miss Brown, and what a dem fine woman Mrs. Jones was. It was in vain that Pen recalled to his own mind how stupid Foker used to be at school-how he could scarcely read, how he was not cleanly in his person, and notorious for his blunders and dullMr. Foker was not much more refined now than in his school days: and yet Pen felt a secret pride in strutting
down High Street with a young fellow who owned tandems, talked to officers, and ordered turtle and champagne for dinner. He listened, and with respect too, to Mr. Foker's accounts of what the men did at the University of which Mr. F. was an ornament, and encountered a long series of stories about boat-racing, bumping, College grass-plats, and milkpunch-and began to wish to go up himself to College to a place where there were such manly pleasures and enjoyments. Farmer Gurnett, who lives close by Fairoaks, riding by at this minute and touching his hat to Pen, the latter stopped him, and sent a message to his mother to say that he had met with an old schoolfellow, and should dine in Chatteris.
The two young gentlemen continued their walk, and were passing round the Cathedral Yard, where they could hear the music of the afternoon service (a music which always exceedingly affected Pen), but whither Mr. Foker came for the purpose of inspecting the nursery maids who frequent the Elms Walk there, and here they strolled until with a final burst of music the small congregation was played out.
Old Doctor Portman was one of the few who came from the venerable gate. Spying Pen, he came and shook him by the hand, and eyed with wonder Pen's friend, from whose mouth and cigar clouds of fragrance issued, which curled round the Doctor's honest face and shovel hat.
"An old schoolfellow of mine, Mr. Foker," said Pen. The Doctor said "H'm" and scowled at the cigar. He did not mind a pipe in his study, but the cigar was an abomination to the worthy gentleman.
"I came up on Bishop's business," the Doctor said. "We'll ride home, Arthur, if you like?"
"I-I'm engaged to my friend here," Pen answered.
"You had better come home with me," said the Doctor.
"His mother knows he's out, sir." Mr. Foker remarked: "don't she, Pendennis?"
"But that does not prove that he had not better come home with me,'
Doctor growled, and he walked off with great dignity.
"Old boy don't like the weed, I suppose," Foker said. "Ha! who's here?
here's the General, and Bingley, the manager. How do, Cos? How do, Bingley?"
"How does my worthy and gallant young Foker?" said the gentleman addressed as the General: and who wore a shabby military cape with a mangy collar, and a hat cocked very much over one eye.
"Trust you are very well, my very dear sir," said the other gentleman, "and that the Theatre Royal will have the honor of your patronage to-night. We perform "The Stranger,' in which you humble servant will
"Can't stand you in tights and Hessians, Bingley," young Mr. Foker said. On which the General, with the Irish accent, said, "But I think ye'll like Miss Fotheringay, in Mrs. Haller, or me name's not Jack Costigan."
Pen looked at these individuals with the greatest interest. He had never
seen an actor before: and he saw Dr. Portman's red face looking over the Doctor's shoulder, as he retreated from the Cathedral Yard, evidently quite dissatisfied with the acquaintances into whose hands Pen had fallen.
Perhaps it would have been much better for him had he taken the parson's advice and company home. But which of us knows his fate?
HAVING returned to the George, Mr. Foker and his guest sate down to a handsome repast in the coffee-room; where Mr. Rummer brought in the first dish, and bowed as gravely as if he was waiting upon the Lord-Lieutenant of the county. Pen could not but respect his connoisseurship as he prononounced the champagne to be condemned gooseberry, and winked at the port with one eye. The latter he declared to be of the right
sort; and told the waiters, there was no way of humbugging him.
All these attendants he knew by their Christian names, and showed a great interest in their families; and as the London coaches drove up, which in those early days used to set off from the George, Mr. Foker flung the coffeeroom window open, and called the guards and coachmen by their Christian names, too, asking about their respective families, and imitating with great liveliness and accuracy the tooting of the horns as Jem the ostler whipped the horses' cloths off, and the carriages drove gaily away.
"A bottle of sherry, a bottle of sham, a bottle of port and a shass caffy, it ain't so bad, hay, Pen?" Foker said, and pronounced, after all these delicacies and a quantity of nuts and fruit had been dispatched, that it was time to "toddle. Pen sprang up with very bright eyes, and a flushed face; and they moved off towards the theatre, where they paid their money to the wheezy old lady slumbering in the money-taker's box. "Mrs. Dropsicum, Bingley's mother-in-law, great in Lady Macbeth," Foker said to his companion. Foker knew her, too.
They had almost their choice of places in the boxes of the theatre, which was no better filled than country theatres usually are in spite of the universal burst of attraction and galvanic thrills of delight' advertised by Bingley in the play-bills. A score or so of people dotted the pit-benches, a few more kept a kicking and whistling in the galleries, and a dozen others, who came in with free admissions, were in the boxes where our young gentlemen sate. Lieutenants Rodgers and Podgers, and young Cornet Tidmus, of the Dragoons, occupied a private box. The performers acted to them, and these gentlemen seemed to hold conversations with the players when not engaged in the dialogue, and applauded them by name loudly.
Bingley the manager, who assumed all the chief tragic and comic parts except when he modestly retreated to make way for the London stars, who came down occasionally to Chatteries; was great in the character of the "Stran
He was attired in the tight pantaloons and Hessian boots which the stage legend has given to that injured man, with a large cloak and beaver and a hearse-feather in it drooping over his raddled old face, and only partially concealing his great buckled brown wig. He had the stage-jewellery on too, of which he selected the largest and most shiny rings for himself, and allowed his little finger to quiver out of his cloak with a sham diamond ring covering the first joint of the finger and twiddling in the faces of the pit. Bingley made it a favour to the young men of his company to go on in light comedy parts with that ring. They flattered him by asking its history. The stage has its traditional jewels as the Crown and all great_families have. This had belonged to George Frederick Cooke, who had had it from Mr. Quin, who may have bought it for a shilling. Bingley fancied the world was fascinated with its glitter.
He was reading out of the stage-book -that wonderful stage-book-which is not bound like any other book in the world, but is rouged and tawdry like the hero or heroine who holds it; and who holds it as people never do hold books: and points with his finger to a passage, and wags his head ominously at the audience, and then lifts up eyes and finger to the ceiling, professing to derive some intense consolation from the work between which and heaven there is a strong affinity.
As soon as the stranger saw the young men, he acted at them; eyeing them solemnly over his gilt volume as he lay on the stage-bank showing his hand, his ring, and his Hessians. He calculated the effect that every one of these ornaments would produce upon his victims: he was determined to fascinate them, for he knew they had paid their money; and he saw their families coming in from the country and filling the cane chairs in his boxes.
smile," (the gloom of Bingley's face was fearful to witness during these comments of the faithful domestic.) "Nothing diverts him. O, if he would but attach himself to any living thing, were it an animal-for something man must love."
[Enter Tobias (Goll) from the hut]. He cries, "O, how refreshing, after seven long weeks, to feel these warm sunbeams once again. Thanks, bounteous heaven, for he joy I taste!" He presses his cap between his hands, looks up and prays. The stranger eyes him attentively.
Francis to the Stranger. "This old man's share of earthly happiness can be but little. Yet mark how grateful he is for his portion of it."
Bingley. "Because though old, he is but a child in the leading-string of hope." (He looks steadily at Foker, who, however, continues to suck the top of his stick in an unconcerned manner.) Francis. 'Hope is the nurse of life."
"And her cradle-is the
The stranger uttered this with the moan of a bassoon in agony, and fixed his glance on Pendennis so steadily, that the poor lad was quite put out of countenance. He thought the whole house must be looking at him; and cast his eyes down. As soon as ever he raised them Bingley's were at him again. All through the scene the manager played at him. How relieved the lad was when the scene ended, and Foker, tapping with his cane, cried out, "Bravo, Bingley!"
"Give him a hand, Pendennis; you know every chap likes a hand," Mr. Foker said; and the good-natured young gentleman, and Pendennis laughing, and the Dragoons in the opposite box, began clapping hands to the best of their power.
A chamber in Wintersen Castle closed over Tobias's hut and the Stranger and his boots; and servants appeared bustling about with chairs and tables"That's Hicks and Miss Thackthwaite," whispered Foker. "Pretty girl, ain't she, Pendennis? But stop-hurrybravo! here's the Fotheringay."
The pit thrilled and thumped its um
brell; a volley of applause was fired from the gallery: the Dragoon officers and Foker clapped their hands furiously: you would have thought the house was full, so loud were their plaudits. The red face and ragged whiskers of Mr. Costigan were seen peering from the sidescene. Pen's eyes opened wide and bright, as Mrs. Haller entered with a downcast look, then rallying at the sound of the applause, swept the house with a grateful glance, and, folding her hands across her breast, sank down in a magnificent curtsey. More applause, more umbrellas: Pen this time, flaming with wine and enthusiasm, clapped hands and sang "bravo" louder than all. Mrs. Haller saw him, and everybody else, and old Mr. Bows, the little first fiddler of the orchestra, (which was this night increased by a detachment of the band of the Dragoons, by the kind permission of Colonel Swallowtail) looked up from the desk where he was perched, with his crutch beside him, and smiled at the enthusiasm of the lad.
Those who have only seen Miss Fotheringay in later days, since her marriage and introduction into London life, have little idea how beautiful a creature she was at the time when our friend Pen first set eyes on her. She was of the tallest of women, and at her then age of six-and-twenty-for six-and-twenty she was, though she vows she was only nineteen-in the prime and fulness of her beauty. Her forehead was vast, and her black hair waved over it with a natural ripple, and was confined in shining and voluminous braids at the back of a neck such as you see on the shoulders of the Louvre Venus-that delight of gods and men. Her eyes, when she lifted them up to gaze on you, and ere she dropped their purple deep-fringed lids, shone with tenderness and mystery unfathomable. Love and genius seemed to look out from them and then retire coyly, as if ashamed to have been seen at the lattice. Who could have had such a commanding brow but a woman of high intellect? She never laughed, (indeed her teeth were not good,) but a smile of endless tenderness and sweetness played round her beautiful lips, and in the dimples of her cheeks and her
lovely chin. Her rose defied descrip tion in those days. Her ears were like two little pearl shells, which the earrings she wore (though the handsomest properties in the theatre) only insulted. She was dressed in long flowing robes of black, which she managed and swept to and fro with wonderful grace, and out of the folds of which you only saw her sandals occasionally; they were of rather a large size; but Pen thought them as ravishing as the slippers of Cinderella. But it was her hand and arm that this magnificent creature most excelled in, and somehow you could never see her but through them. They surrounded her. When she folded them over her bosom in resignation; when she dropped them in mute agony, or raised them in superb command; when in sportive gaiety her hands fluttered and waved before her, like-what shall we say?-like the snowy doves before the chariot of Venus-it was with these arms and hands that she beckoned, repelled, entreated, embraced her admirers-no single one, for she was armed with her own virtue, and with her father's valour, whose sword would have leapt from its scabbard at any insult offered to his child-but the whole house; which rose to her, as the phase was, as she curtseyed and bowed, and charmed it.
Thus she stood for a minute-complete and beautiful-as Pen stared at her. "I say, Pen, isn't she a stunner?" asked Mr. Foker.
"Hush!" Pen said. "She's speaking."
She began her business in a deep sweet voice. Those who know the play of the "Stranger," are aware that the remarks made by the various characters are not valuable in themselves, either for their sound sense, their novelty of observation, or their poetic fancy.
Nobody ever talked so. If we meet idiots in life, as will happen, it is a great mercy that they do not use such absurdly fine words. The Stranger's talk is sham, like the book he reads, and the hair he wears, and the bank he sits on, and the diamond ring he makes play with-but, in the midst of the balderdash, there runs that reality of love, children, and forgiveness of wrong,
which will be listened to wherever it is preached, and sets all the world sympathising.
With what smothered sorrow, with what gushing pathos, Mrs. Haller delivered her part At first, when as Count Wintersen's housekeeper, and preparing for his Excellency's arrival, she has to give orders about the beds and furniture, and the dinner, etc., to be got ready, she did so with the calm agony of despair. But when she could get rid of the stupid servants, and give vent to her feelings to the pit and the house, she overflowed to each individual as if he were her particular confidant, and she was crying out her griefs on his shoulder: the little fiddler in the orchestra (whom she did not seem to watch, though he followed her ceaselessly) twitched, twisted, nodded, pointed about, and when she came to the favourite passage "I have a William, too, if he be still alive-Ah, yes, if he be still alive. His little sisters, too! Why, Fancy, dost thou rack me so? Why dost thou image my poor children fainting in sickness, and crying to-to-their mum-um-other," - when she came to this passage little Bows buried his face in his blue cotton handkerchief, after crying out "Bravo."
All the house was affected. Foker, for his part, taking out a large yellow bandanna, wept piteously. As for Pen he was gone too far for that. He followed the woman about and aboutwhen she was off the stage, it and the house were blank; the lights and the red officers reeled wildly before his sight. He watched her at the side-scenewhere she stood waiting to come on the stage, and where her father took off her shawl: when the reconciliation arrived, and she flung herself down on Mr. Bingley's shoulders, whilst the children clung to their knees and the Countess (Mrs. Bingley) and Baron Steinforth (performed with great liveliness and spirit by Garbetts,)-while the rest of the characters formed a group round them, Pen's hot eyes only saw Fotheringay, Fotheringay. The curtain fell upon him like a pall. He did not hear a word of what Bingley said, who came forward to announce the play for the next evening, and who took the tumultuous applause
as usual for himself. Pen was not even distinctly aware that the house was calling for Miss Fotheringay, nor did the manager seem to comprehend that anybody else but himself had caused the success of the play. At last he understood it-stepped back with a grin, and presently appeared with Mrs. Haller on his arm. How beautiful she looked! Her hair had fallen down, the officers threw her flowers. She clutched them to her heart. She put back her hair, and smiled all round. Her eyes met Pen's. Down went the curtain again: and she was gone. Not one note could he hear of the overture which the brass band of the Dragoons blew by kind permission of Colonel Swallowtail.
"She is a crusher, ain't she now?" Mr. Foker asked of his companion.
Penn did not know exactly what Foker said, and answered vaguely. He could not tell the other what he felt; he could not have spoken just then to any mortal. Besides, Pendennis did not quite know what he felt yet; it was something overwhelming, maddening, delicious; a fever of wild joy and unde fined longing.
And now Rowkins and Miss Thacktliwaite came on to dance the favourite double hornpipe, and Foker abandoned himself to the delights of this ballet, just as he had to the tears of the tragedy, a few minutes before. Pen did not care for it, or indeed think about the dance, except to remember that that woman was acting with her in the scene where she first came in. It was a mist before his eyes. At the end of the dance he looked at his watch and said it was time for him to go.
Hang it, stay to see The Bravo of the Battle-Axe," Foker said, "Bingley's splendid in it; he wears red-tights, and has to carry Mrs. B. over the Pinebridge of the Cataract, only she's too heavy. It's great fun, do stop."
Pen looked at the bill with one lingering fond hope that Miss Fotheringay's name might be hidden, somewhere, in the list of the actors of the after-piece, but there was no such name. Go he must. He had a long ride home. He squeezed Foker's hand. He was ehoking to speak, but he couldn't. He