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Warrington looked very grave when he heard this story. Putting the moral delinquency out of the question, he was extremely glad for Arthur's sake that the latter had escaped from a danger which might have made his whole life wretched; "which certainly," said Warrington, "would have occasioned the wretchedness and ruin of the other party. And your mother and-and your friends -what a pain it would have been to them!" urged Pen's companion, little knowing what grief and annoyance these good people had already suffered.
"Not a word to my mother!" Pen cried out in a state of great alarm. "She would never get over it. An esclandre of that sort would kill her, I do believe. And," he added, with a knowing air, and as if, like a young rascal of a Lovelace, he had been engaged in what are called affaires de cœur, all his life; "the best way, when a danger of that sort menaces, is not to face it, but to turn one's back on it and run."
"And were you very much smitten?" Warrington asked.
"Hm!" said Lovelace. "She dropped her h's, but she was a dear little girl."
O Clarissas of this life, O you poor little ignorant vain foolish maidens ! if you did but know the way in which the Lovelaces speak of you: if you could but hear Jack talking to Tom across the coffee-room of a Club; or see Ned taking your poor little letters out of his cigar-case, and handing them over to Charley, and Billy, and Harry across the mess-room table, you would not be so eager to write, or so ready to listen! There's a sort of crime which is not complete unless the lucky rogue boasts of it afterwards; and the man who betrays your honour in the first place, is pretty sure, remember that, to betray your secret too.
"It's hard to fight, and it's easy to fall," Warrington said gloomily. "And as you say, Pendennis, when a danger like this is imminent, the best way is to turr your back on it and run.'
After this little discourse upon a subject about which Pen would have talked a great deal more eloquently a month back, the conversation reverted to the plans for
going abroad, and Arthur eagerly pressed his friend to be of the party. Warrington was a part of the family-a part of the cure. Arthur said he should not have half the pleasure without Warrington.
But George said no, he couldn't go. He must stop at home and take Pen's place. The other remarked that that was needless, for Shandon was now come back to London, and Arthur was entitled to a holiday.
"Don't press me," Warrington said, "I can't go. I've particular engage
ments. I'm best at home. I've not got the money to travel, that's the long and short of it-for travelling costs money, you know."
This little obstacle seemed fatal to
He mentioned it to his mother: Mrs. Pendennis was very sorry; Mr. Warrington had been exceedingly kind; but she supposed he knew best about his affairs. And then, no doubt, she reproached herself, for selfishness in wishing to carry the boy off and have him to herself altogether.
"What is this I hear from Pen, my dear Mr. Warrington?" the Major asked one day, when the pair were alone and after Warrington's objection had been stated to him. "Not go with us? We can't hear of such a thing-Pen won't get well without you. I promise you, I'm not going to be his nurse. He must have somebody with him that's stronger and gayer and better able to amuse him than a rheumatic old fogy like me. I shall go to Carlsbad very likely, when I've seen you people settle down. Travelling costs nothing now-a-days-or so little! And and pray, Warrington, remember that I was your father's very old friend, and if you and your brother are not on such terms as to enable you to-to anticipate your younger brother's allowance, I beg you to make me your banker, for hasn't Pen been getting into your debt these three weeks past, during which you have been doing what he informs me is his work, with such exemplary talent and genius, begad?"
Still, in spite of this kind offer and unheard-of generosity on the part of the Major, George Warrington refused, and
said he would stay at home. But it was with a faltering voice and irresolute accent which showed how much he would like to go, though his tongue persisted in saying nay.
But the Major's persevering benevolence was not to be baulked in this way. At the tea-table that evening, Helen happening to be absent from the room for the moment, looking for Pen who had gone to roost, old Pendennis returned to the charge and rated Warrington for refusing to join in their excursion. "Isn't it ungallant, Miss Bell?" he said, turning to that young lady. "Isn't it unfriendly?" Here we have been the happiest party in the world, and this odious selfish creature breaks it up!"
Miss Bell's long eyelashes looked down towards her tea-cup: and Warrington blushed hugely but did not speak. Neither did Miss Bell speak : but when he blushed she blushed too.
"You ask him to come, my dear," said the benevolent old gentleman, "and then perhaps he will listen to you-"
Why should Mr. Warrington listen to me?" asked the young lady, putting the query to her tea-spoon seemingly and not to the Major.
"Ask him: you have not asked him," said Pen's artless uncle.
"I should be very glad, indeed, if Mr. Warrington would come,' "" remarked Laura to the tea-spoon.
"Would you?" said George.
She looked up and said, "Yes." Their eyes met. "I will go anywhere you ask me, or do anything," said George, lowly, and forcing out the words as if they gave him pain.
Old Pendennis was delighted; the affectionate old creature clapped his hands and cried, "Bravo! bravo! It's a bargain-a bargain, begad! Shake hands on it, young people !" And Laura, with a look full of tender brightness, put out her hand to Warrington. He took hers; his face indicated a strange agitation. He seemed to be about to speak, when, from Pen's neighbouring room Helen entered, looking at them as the candle which she held lighted her pale frightened face.
Laura blushed more red than ever and withdrew her hand.
"What is it?" Helen asked.
"It's a bargain we have been making, my dear creature," said the Major in his most caressing voice. "We have just bound over Mr. Warrington in a promise to come abroad with us." "Indeed!" Helen said.
IN WHICH FANNY ENGAGES A NEW MEDICAL MAN.
COULD Helen have suspected that, with Pen's returning strength, his unhappy partiality for little Fanny would also reawaken? Though she never spoke a word regarding that young person, after her conversation with the Major, and though, to all appearance, she utterly ignored Fanny's existence yet Mrs. Pendennis kept a particularly close watch upon all Master Arthur's actions; on the plea of ill-health, would scarcely let him out of her sight; and was especially anxious that he should be spared the trouble of all correspondence for the present at least. Very likely Arthur looked at his own letters with some tremor; very likely, as he received them at the family table, feeling his mother's watch upon him (though the good soul's eye seemed fixed upon her teacup or her book), he expected daily to see a little hand-writing, which he would have known, though he had never seen it yet, and his heart beat as he received the letters to his address. Was he more pleased or annoyed, that, day after day, his expectations were not realised; and was his mind relieved, that there came no letter from Fanny? Though, no doubt, in these matters, when Lovelace is tired of Clarissa (or the contrary), it is best for both parties to break at once, and each, after the failure of the attempt at union, to go his own way, and pursue his course through life solitary; yet our self-love, or our pity, or our sense of decency, does not like that sudden bankruptcy. Before we announce to the world that our firm of
Lovelace & Co. can't meet its engagements, we try to make compromises : we have mournful meetings of partners: we delay the putting up of the shutters, and the dreary announcement of the failure. It must come: but we pawn our jewels, to keep things going a little longer. On the whole, I dare say, Pen was rather annoyed that he had no remonstrances from Fanny. What! could she part from him, and never so much as once look round? could she sink, and never once hold a little hand out, or cry, "Help, Arthur?" Well, well; they don't all go down who venture on that voyage. Some few drown when the vessel founders; but most are only ducked, and scramble to shore. And the reader's experience of A. Pendennis, Esquire, of the Upper Temple, will enable him to state whether that gentleman belonged to the class of persons who were likely to sink or to swim.
Though Pen was as yet too weak to walk half a mile; and might not, on account of his precious health, be trusted to take a drive in a carriage by himself, and without a nurse in attendance; yet Helen could not keep watch over Mr. Warrington too, and had no authority to prevent that gentleman from going to London if business called him thither. Indeed, if he had gone and stayed, perhaps the widow, from reasons of her own, would have been glad; but she checked these selfish wishes as soon as she ascertained or owned them; and, remembering Warrington's great regard and services, and constant friendship for her boy, received him as a member of her family almost, with her usual melancholy kindness and submissive acquiescence. Yet somehow, one morning when his affairs called him to town, she divined what Warrington's errand was, and that he was gone to London to get news about Fanny for Pen.
Indeed, Arthur had had some talk with his friend, and told him more at large what his adventures had been with Fanny (adventures which the reader knows already), and what were his feelings respecting her. He was very thankful that he had escaped the great dauger, to which Warrington said Amen heartily that he had no great fault
wherewith to reproach himself in regard of his behaviour to her, but that if they parted, as they must, he would be glad to say a God bless her, and to hope that she would remember him kindly. In his discourse with Warrington he spoke upon these matters with so much gravity, and so much emotion, that George, who had pronounced himself most strongly for the separation too, began to fear that his friend was not so well cured as he boasted of being; and that, if the two were to come together again, all the danger and the temptation might have to be fought once more. And with what result? "It is hard to struggle, Arthur, and it is easy to fall," Warrington said: "and the best courage for us poor wretches is to fly from danger. I would not have been what I am now, had I practised what I preach."
"And what did you practise, George?" Pen asked, eagerly. "I knew there was something. Tell us about it, Warrington."
"There was something that can't be mended, and that shattered my whole fortunes early," Warrington answered. "I said I would tell you about it some day, Pen and will, but not now. Take the moral without the fable now, Pen, my boy; and if you want to see a man whose whole life has been wrecked, by an unlucky rock against which he struck as a boy-here he is, Arthur: and so I warn you."
We have shown how Mr. Huxter, in writing home to his Clavering friends, mentioned that there was a fashionable club in London of which he was an attendant, and that he was there in the habit of meeting an Irish officer of distinction, who, amongst other news, had given that intelligence regarding Pendennis, which the young surgeon had transmitted to Clavering. This club was no other than the Back Kitchen, where the disciple of Saint Bartholomew was accustomed to meet the General, the peculiarities of whose brogue, appearance, disposition, and general conversation greatly diverted many young gentlemen who used the Back Kitchen as a place of nightly entertainment and refreshment. Huxter, who had a fine natural genius
for mimicking everything, whether it was a favourite tragic or comic actor, a cock on a dunghill, a corkscrew going into a bottle and a cork issuing thence, or an Irish officer of genteel connections who offered himself as an object of imitation with only too much readiness, talked his talk, and twanged his poor old long bow whenever drink, a hearer, and an opportunity occurred, studied our friend the General with peculiar gusto, and drew the honest fellow out many a night. A bait, consisting of sixpennyworth of brandy and water, the worthy old man was sure to swallow; and under the influence of this liquor, who was more happy than he to tell his stories of his daughter's triumphs and his own, in love, war, drink, and polite society? Thus Huxter was enabled to present to his friends many pictures of Costigan: of Costigan fighting a jewel in the Phaynix -of Costigan and his interview with the Juke of York-of Costigan at his sununlaw's teeble, surrounded by the nobilitee of his countree-of Costigan, when crying drunk, at which time he was in the habit of confidently lamenting his daughter's ingratichewd, and stating that his grey hairs were hastening to a praymachure greeve. And thus our friend was the means of bringing a number of young fellows to the Back Kitchen, who consumed the landlord's liquors whilst they relished the General's peculiarities, so that mine host pardoned many of the latter's foibles, in consideration of the good which they brought to his house. Not the highest position in life was this certainly, or one which, if we had a reverence for an old man, we would be anxious that he should occupy: but of this aged buffoon it may be mentioned that he had no particular idea that his condition of life was not a high one, and that in his whiskeyed blood there was not a black drop, nor in his muddled brains a bitter feeling, against any mortal being. Even his child, his cruel Emily, he would have taken to his heart and forgiven with tears; and what more can any one say of the christian charity of a man than that he is actually ready to forgive those who have done him every kindness, and with whom he is wrong in a dispute?
There was some idea amongst the young men who frequented the Back Kitchen, and made themselves merry with the society of Captain Costigan, that the Captain made a mystery regarding his lodgings for fear of duns, or from a desire of privacy, and lived in some wonderful place. Nor would the landlord of the premises, when questioned upon this subject, answer any inquiries; his maxim being that he only knew gentlemen who frequented that room in that room; that when they quitted that room, having paid their scores as gentlemen, and behaved as gentlemen, his communication with them ceased; and that, as a gentleman himseif, he thought it was only impertinent curiosity to ask where any other gentleman lived. Costigan, in his most intoxicated and confidential moments, also evaded any replies to questions or hints addressed to him on this subject: there was no particular secret about it, as we have seen, who have had more than once the honour of entering his apartments, but in the vicissitudes of a long life he had been pretty often in the habit of residing in houses where privacy was necessary to his comfort, and where the appearance of some visitors would have brought him anything but pleasure. Hence all sorts of legends were formed by wags or credulous persons respecting his place of abode. It was stated that he slept habitually in a watch-box in the city: in a cab at a mews, where a cab-proprietor gave him a shelter: in the Duke of York's Column, &c., the wildest of these theories being put abroad by the facetious and imaginative Huxter. For Huxey, when not silenced by the company of "swells," and when in the society of his own friends, was a very different fellow to the youth whom we have seen cowed by Pen's impertinent airs, and, adored by his family at home, was the life and soul of the circle whom he met, either round the festive board or the dissecting table.
On one brilliant September morning, as Huxter was regaling himself with a cup of coffee at a stall in Covent Garden, having spent a delicious night dancing at Vauxhall, he spied the General reeling down Henrietta-street, with a crowd of
hooting blackguard boys at his heels, who had left their beds under the arches of the river betimes, and were prowling about already for breakfast, and the strange livelihood of the day. The poor old General was not in that condition when the sneers and jokes of these young beggars had much effect upon him: the cabmen and watermen at the cab-stand knew him, and passed their comments upon him: the policemen gazed after him, and warned the boys off him, with looks of scorn and pity; what did the scorn and pity of men, the jokes of ribald children, matter to the General? He reeled along the street with glazed eyes, having just sense enough to know whither he was bound, and to pursue his accustomed beat homewards. He went to bed not knowing how he had reached it, as often as any man in London. He woke and found himself there, and asked no questions, and he was tacking about on this daily though perilous voyage, when, from his station at the coffee-stall, Huxter spied him. To note his friend, to pay his twopence (indeed, he had but eightpence left, or he would have had a cab from Vauxhall to take him home), was with the eager Huxter the work of an instant-Costigan dived down the alleys by Drury-lane Theatre, where ginshops, oyster-shops, and theatrical wardrobes abound, the proprietors of which were now asleep behind their shutters, as the pink morning lighted up their chimneys; and through these courts Huxter followed the General, until he reached Oldcastle-street, in which is the gate of Shepherd's Inn.
Here, just as he was within sight of home, a luckless slice of orange - peel came between the General's heel and the pavement, and caused the poor old fellow to fall backwards.
Huxter ran up to him instantly, and after a pause, during which the veteran, giddy with his fall and his previous whisky, gathered, as he best might, his dizzy brains together, the young surgeon lifted up the limping General, and very kindly and good-naturedly offered to conduct him to his home. For some time, and in reply to the queries which the student of medicine put to him, the muzzy General refused to say where his
lodgings were, and declared that they were hard by, and that he could reach them without difficulty; and he disengaged himself from Huxter's arm, and made a rush, as if to get to his own home unattended: but he reeled and lurched so, that the young surgeon insisted upon accompanying him, and, with many soothing expressions and cheering and consolatory phrases, succeeded in getting the General's dirty old hand under what he called his own fin, and led the old fellow, moaning piteously, across the street. He stopped when he came to the ancient gate, ornamented with the armorial bearings of the venerable Shepherd. "Here 'tis," said he, drawing up at the portal, and he made a successful pull at the gate-bell, which presently brought out old Mr. Bolton, the porter, scowling fiercely, and grumbling as he was used to do every morning when it became his turn to let in that early bird.
Costigan tried to hold Bolton for a moment in genteel conversation, but the other surlily would not. "Don't bother ," he said; " go to your hown bed, Capting, and don't keep honest men out of theirs." So the Captain tacked across the square, and reached his own staircase, up which he stumbled with the worthy Huxter at his heels. Costigan had a key of his own, which Huxter inserted into the keyhole for him, so that there was no need to call up little Mr. Bows from the sleep into which the old musician had not long since fallen, and Huxter having aided to disrobe his tipsy patient, and ascertained that no bones were broken, helped him to bed, and applied compresses and water to one of his knees and shins, which, with the pair of trowsers which encased them, Costigan had severely torn in his fall. At the General's age, and with his habit of body, such wounds as he had inflicted on himself are slow to heal; a good deal of inflammation ensued, and the old fellow lay ill for some days suffering both pain and fever.
Mr. Huxter undertook the case of his interesting patient with great confidence and alacrity, and conducted it with becoming skill. He visited his friend day after day, and consoled him with lively rattle and conversation, for the absence