fondly, the madly loved, the wildly cherished-where is it? But no more of this. Heed not my bleeding heart.Bless you, bless you always, Arthur!

"I will write more when I am more collected. My racking brain renders thought almost impossible. I long to see Laura! She will come to us directly we return from the country, will she not? And you, cold one! B."

The words of this letter were perfectly clear, and written in Blanche's neatest hand upon her scented paper; and yet the meaning of the composition not a little puzzled Pen. Did Blanche mean to accept or to refuse his polite offer? Her phrases either meant that Pen did not love her, and she declined him, or that she took him, and sacrificed herself to him, cold as he was. He laughed sardonically over the letter, and over the transaction which occasioned it. He laughed to think how Fortune had jilted him, and how he deserved his slippery fortune. He turned over and over the musky gilt-edged riddle. It amused his humour: he enjoyed it as if it had been a funny story.

He was thus seated, twiddling the queer manuscript in his hand, joking grimly to himself, when his servant came in with a card from a gentleman, who wished to speak to him very particularly. And if Pen had gone out into the passage, he would have seen sucking his stick, rolling his eyes, and showing great marks of anxiety, his old acquaintance, Mr. Samuel Huxter.

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great deal of business since my return to London."

"I heard of you through my governor and Jack Hobnell," broke in Huxter. "I wish you joy, Mr. Pendennis, both of the borough and the lady, sir. Fanny wishes you joy, too," he added, with something of a blush.

"There's many a slip between the cup and the lip! Who knows what may happen, Mr. Huxter, or who will sit in Parliament for Clavering next session?"

"You can do anything with my governor," continued Mr. Huxter. "You got him Clavering Park. The old boy was very much pleased, sir, at your calling him in. Hobnell wrote me so. Do you think you could speak to the governor for me, Mr. Pendennis?"

"And tell him what?"

"I've gone and done it, sir," said Huxter, with a particular look.

"You-you don't mean to say you have -you have done any wrong to that dear little creature, sir," said Pen, starting up in a great fury.

"I hope not," said Huxter, with a hang-dog look; "but I've married her. And I know there will be an awful shindy at home. It was agreed that I should be taken into partnership when I had passed the College, and it was to have been Huxter and Son. But I would have it, confound it. It's all over now, and the old boy's wrote me that he's coming up to town for drugs: he will be here to-morrow, and then it must all come out."

"And when did this event happen?" asked Pen, not over well pleased, most likely, that a person who had once attracted some portion of his royal good graces should have transferred her allegiance, and consoled herself for his loss.

Last Thursday was five weeks-it was two days after Miss Amory came to Shepherd's Inn," Huxter answered.

Pen remembered that Blanche had written and mentioned her visit. "I was called in," Huxter said. "I was in the inn looking after old Cos's leg; and about something else too, very likely and I met Strong, who told me there was a woman taken ill in chambers, and went up to give her my pro

fessional services. It was the old lady who attends Miss Amory-her housekeeper, or some such thing. She was taken with strong hysterics: I found her kicking and scratching like a good one -in Strong's chamber, along with him and Colonel Altamont, and Miss Amory crying and as pale as a sheet; and Altamont fuming about a regular kick up. They were two hours in the chambers; and the old woman went whooping off in a cab. She was much worse than the young one. I called in Grosvenor Place next day to see if I could be of service, but they were gone without so much as thanking me and the day after I had business of my own to attend to-a bad business too," said Mr. Huxter, gloomily. "But it's done, and can't be undone; and we must make the best of it."

She has known the story for a month, thought Pen, with a sharp pang of grief, and a gloomy sympathy-this accounts for her letter of to-day. She will not implicate her father, or divulge his secret; she wishes to let me off from the marriage and finds a pretext—the generous girl!

"Do you know who Altamont is, sir?" asked Huxter, after the pause during which Pen had been thinking of his own affairs. "Fanny and I have talked him over, and we can't help fancying that it's Mrs. Lightfoot's first husband come to life again, and she who has just married a second. Perhaps Lightfoot won't be very sorry for it," sighed Huxter, looking savagely at Arthur, for the demon of jealousy was still in possession of his soul; and now, and more than ever since his marriage, the poor fellow fancied that Fanny's heart belonged to his rival.

Let us talk about your affairs," said Pen. "Show me how I can be of any service to you, Huxter. Let me congratulate you on your marriage. I am thankful that Fanny, who is so good, so fascinating, so kind a creature, has found an honest man, and a gentleman who will make her happy. Show me what I can do to help you.'

"She thinks you can, sir," said Huxter, accepting Pen's proffered hand, "and I'm very much obliged to you,

I'm sure; and that you might talk over my father, and break the business to him, and my mother, who always has her back up about being a clergyman's daughter. Fanny ain't of a good family, I know, and not up to us in breeding and that but she's a Huxter now." "The wife takes the husband's rank, of course," said Pen.

"And with a little practice in society," continued Huxter, imbibing his stick, "she'll be as good as any girl in Clavering. You should hear her sing and play on the piano. Did you ever? Old Bows taught her. And she'll do on the stage, if the governor was to throw me over; but I'd rather not have her there. She can't help being a coquette, Mr. Pendennis, she can't help it. Dammy, sir! I'll be bound to say, that two or three of the Bartholomew chaps, that I've brought into my place, are sitting with her now: even Jack Linton, that took down as my best man, is as bad as the rest, and she will go on singing and making eyes at him. It's what Bows says, if there were twenty men in a room, and one not taking notice of her, she wouldn't be satisfied until the twentieth was at her elbow,"

"You should have her mother with her," said Pen laughing.

"She must keep the lodge. She can't see so much of her family as she used. I can't, you know, sir, go on with that lot. Consider my rank in life," said Huxter, putting a very dirty hand up to his chin.

"Au fait," said Mr. Pen, who was infinitely amused, and concerning whom mutato nomine (and of course concerning nobody else in the world) the fable might have been narrated.

As the two gentlemen were in the midst of this colloquy, another knock came to Pen's door, and his servant presently announced Mr. Bows. The old man followed slowly, his pale face blushing, and his hand trembling somewhat as he took Pen's. He coughed, and wiped his face in his checked cotton pocket-handkerchief, and sate down with his hands on his knees, the sun shining on his bald head. Pen looked at the homely figure with no small sympathy and kindness. This man, too, has had

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"There's as big fools as I am,' growled the young surgeon.

"A few, p'raps," said the old man ; "not many, let us trust. Yes, she sent me after you for fear you should offend Mr. Pendennis; and I dare say because she thought you wouldn't give her message to him, and beg him to go and see her; and she knew I would take her errand. Did he tell you that, sir?"

Huxter blushed scarlet, and covered his confusion with an imprecation. Pen laughed the scene suited his bitter humour more and more.

"I have no doubt Mr. Huxter was going to tell me," Arthur said, "and very much flattered I am sure I shall be to pay my respects to his wife."

It's in Charterhouse Lane, over the baker's, on the right hand side as you go from St. John's Street," continued Bows, without any pity. "You know Smithfield, Mr. Pendennis? St. John's Street leads into Smithfield. Doctor Johnson has been down the street many a time with ragged shoes, and a bundle

of penny a lining for the 'Gent's Magazine.' You literary gents are better off now-eh? You ride in your cabs, and wear yellow kid gloves now."

"I have known so many brave and good men fail, and so many quacks and impostors succeed, that you mistake me if you think I am puffed up by my own personal good luck, old friend," Arthur said sadly. "Do you think the prizes of life are carried by the most deserving? and set up that mean test of prosperity for merit? You must feel that you are as good as I. I have never questioned it. It is you that are peevish against the freaks of fortune, and grudge the good luck that befalls others. It's not the first time you have unjustly accused me, Bows."

66 Perhaps you are not far wrong, sir," said the old fellow, wiping his bald forehead. "I am thinking about myself and grumbling; most men do when they get on that subject. Here's the fellow that's got the prize in the lottery; here's the fortunate youth."

"I don't know what you are driving at," Huxter said, who had been much puzzled as the above remarks passed between his two companions.

"Perhaps not," said Bows, drily. "Mrs. H. sent me here to look after you, and to see that you brought that little message to Mr. Pendennis, which you didn't, you see, and so she was right. Women always are; they have always a reason for everything. Why, sir," he said, turning round to Pen with a sneer, "she had a reason even for giving me that message. I was sitting with her after you left us, very quiet and comfortable; was talking away, and she was mending your shirts, when your two young friends, Jack Linton and Bob Blades, looked in from Bartholomew's; and then it was she found out that she had this message to send. You needn't hurry yourself, she don't want you back again; they'll stay these two hours, I daresay.'

Huxter arose with great perturbation at this news, and plunged his stick into the pocket of his paletot, and seized his hat.

"You'll come and see us, sir, won't you?" he said to Pen. "You'll talk

over the governor, won't you, sir, if I can get out of this place and down to Clavering?"

"You will promise to attend me gratis if ever I fall ill at Fairoaks, will you, Huxter?" Pen said, good-naturedly. "I will do anything I can for you. I will come and see Mrs. Huxter immediately, and we will conspire together about what is to be done."

"I thought that would send him out, sir," Bows said, dropping into his chair again as soon as the young surgeon had quitted the room. "And it's all true, sir-every word of it. She wants you back again, and sends her husband after you. She cajoles everybody, the little devil. She tries it on you, on me, on poor Costigan, on the young chaps from Bartholomew's. She's got a little court of 'em already. And if there's nobody there, she practises on the old German baker in the shop or coaxes the black sweeper at the crossing."

"Is she fond of that fellow?" asked Pen.

"There is no accounting for likes and dislikes," Bows answered. "Yes, she is fond of him; and having taken the thing into her head, she would not rest until she married him. They had their bans published at St. Clement's, and nobody heard it or knew any just cause or impediment. And one day she slips out of the porter's lodge and has the business done, and goes off to Gravesend with Lothario; and leaves a note for me to go and explain all things to her Ma. Bless you! the old woman knew it as well I did, though she pretended ignorance. And so she goes, and I'm alone again. I miss her, sir, tripping along that court, and coming for her singing lesson; and I've no heart to look into the porter's lodge now, which looks very empty without her, the little flirting thing. And I go and sit and dangle about her lodgings, like an old fool. She makes 'em very trim and nice, though; gets up all Huxster's shirts and clothes; cooks his little dinner, and sings at her business like a little lark. What's the use of being angry? I lent em three pound to go on with: for they haven't got a shilling till the reconciliajon, and Pa comes down."


When Bows had taken his leave, Pen carried his letter from Blanche, and the, news which he had just received, to his usual adviser, Laura. It was wonderful upon how many points Mr. Arthur, who generally followed his own opinion, now wanted another person's counsel. He could hardly so much as choose a waistcoat without referring to Miss Bell: if he wanted to buy a horse he must have Miss Bell's opinion; all which marks of deference tended greatly to the amusement of the shrewd old lady with whom Miss Bell lived, and whose plans regard ing her protegee we have indicated.

Arthur produced Blanche's letter then to Laura, and asked her to interpret it. Laura was very much agitated, and puzzled by the contents of the


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"It is, I am afraid, a kind of duplicity which does not augur well for your future happiness; and is a bad reply to your own candour and honesty, Arthur. Do you know I think, I think—I scarcely like to say what I think," said Laura, with a deep blush; but of course the blushing young lady yielded to her cousin's persuasion, and expressed what her thoughts were. "It looks to me, Arthur, as if there might be there might be somebody else," said Laura, with a repetition of the blush.

"And if there is," broke in Arthur, "and if I am free once again, will the best and dearest of all women



"You are not free, dear brother, Laura said calmly. "You belong to another; of whom I own it grieves me to think ill. But I can't do otherwise. It is very odd that in this letter she does not urge you to tell her the reason why you have broken arrangements which would have been so advantageous to you; and avoids speaking on the subject. She somehow seems to write as if she knows her father's secret.'

Pen said, "Yes, she must know it ;" and told the story, which he had just heard from Huxter, of the interview at Shepherd's Inn.

"It was not so that she described the meeting," said Laura; and going to her desk, produced from it that letter of Blanche's which mentioned her visit to Shepherd's Inn. "Another disappointment-only the Chevalier Strong and a friend of his in the room." This was all that Blanche had said. "But she was bound to keep her father's secret, Pen," Laura added. "And yet, and yet it is very puzzling."

The puzzle was this, that for three weeks after this eventful discovery Blanche had been only too eager about her dearest Arthur; was urging, as strongly as so much modesty could urge, the completion of the happy arrangements which were to make her Arthur's for ever; and now it seemed as if something had interfered to mar these happy arrangements as if Arthur poor was not quite so agreeable to Blanche as Arthur rich and a member of Parliament-as if there was some mystery. At last she said

"Tunbridge Wells is not very far off, is it, Arthur? Hadn't you better go and see her?"

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THE train carried Arthur only too quickly to Tunbridge, though he had time to review all the circumstances of his life as he made the brief journey; and to acknowledge to what sad conclusions his selfishness and waywardness had led him. "Here is the end of hopes and aspirations," thought he, "of romance and ambitions! Where I yield or where I am obstinate, I am alike unfortunate; my mother implores me, and I refuse an angel! Say I had taken her; forced on me as she was, Laura would never have been an angel to me. I could not have given her my heart at another's instigation; I could never have known her as she is had I been obliged to ask another to interpret her

qualities and point out her virtues. I yield to my uncle's solicitations, and accept on his guarantee Blanche, and a seat in Parliament, and wealth, and ambition, and a career; and see!-fortune comes and leaves me the wife without the dowry, which I had taken in compensation of a heart. Why was I not more honest, or am I not less so? It would have cost my poor old uncle no pangs to accept Blanche's fortune whencesoever it came; he can't even understand, he is bitterly indignant, heart-stricken, almost, at the scruples which actuate me in refusing it. I dissatisfy everybody. A maimed, weak, imperfect wretch, it seems as if I am unequal to any fortune. I neither make myself nor any one connected with me happy. What prospect is there for this poor little frivolous girl, who is to take my obscure name and share my fortune? I have not even ambition to excite me, or self-esteem enough to console myself, much more her, for my failure. If I were to write a book that should go through twenty editions, why, I should be the very first to sneer at my reputation. Say I could succeed at the Bar, and achieve a fortune by bullying witnesses and twisting evidence; is that a fame which would satisfy my longings, or a calling in which my life would be well spent? How I wish I could be that priest opposite, who never has lifted his eyes from his breviary, except when we were in Reigate tunnel, when he could not see; or that old gentleman next him, who scowls at him with eyes of hatred over his newspaper. The priest shuts his eyes to the world, but has his thoughts on the book, which is his directory to the world to come. His neighbour hates him as a monster, tyrant, persecutor, and fancies burning martyrs, and that pale countenance looking on, and lighted up by the flame. These have no doubts; these march on trustfully, bearing their load of logic."

"Would you like to look at the paper, sir?" here interposed the stout gentleman (it had a flaming article against the order of the black-coated gentleman who was travelling with them in the carriage), and Pen thanked him and took it, and

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