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pursued his reverie, without reading two sentences of the journal.
"And yet, would you take either of those men's creeds, with its consequences?" he thought. "Ah me! you must bear your own burthen, fashion your own faith, think your own thoughts, and pray your own prayer. To what mortal ear could I tell all, if I had a mind? or who could understand all? Who can tell another's short-comings, lost opportunities, weigh the passions which overpower, the defects which incapacitate reason?-what extent of truth and right his neighbour's mind is organised to perceive and to do?-what invisible and forgotten accident, terror of youth, chance or mischance of fortune, may have altered the current of life? A grain of sand may alter it, as the flinging of a pebble may end it. Who can weigh circumstances, passion, temptations, that go to our good and evil account, save One, before whose awful wisdom we kneel, and at whose mercy we ask absolution? Here it ends," thought Pen; "this day or to-morrow will wind up the account of my youth: a weary retrospect, alas! a sad history with many a page I would fain not look back on! But who has not been tired or fallen, and who has escaped without scars from that struggle?" And his head fell on his breast, and the young man's heart prostrated itself humbly and sadly before that Throne where sits wisdom, and love, and pity for all, and made its confession. "What matters about fame or poverty!" he thought. "If I marry this woman I have chosen, may I have strength and will to be true to her, and to make her happy. If I have children, pray God teach me to speak and to do the truth among them, and to leave them an honest name. There are no splendours for my marriage. Does my life deserve any? I begin a new phase of it; a better than the last may it be, I pray Heaven!"
The train stopped at Tunbridge as Pen was making these reflections; and he handed over the newspaper to his neighbour, of whom he took leave, while the foreign clergyman in the opposite corner still sate with his eyes on his book. Pen jumped out of the carriage
then, his carpet-bag in hand, and briskly determined to face his fortune.
A fly carried him rapidly to Lady Clavering's house from the station; and, as he was transported thither, Arthur composed a little speech, which he intended to address to Blanche, and which was really as virtuous, honest, and wellminded an oration as any man of his turn of mind, and under his circumstances, could have uttered. The pur port of it was-" Blanche, I cannot understand from your last letter what your meaning is, or whether my fair and frank proposal to you is acceptable or no. I think you know the reason which induces me to forego the worldly advan tages which a union with you offered, and which I could not accept without, as I fancy, being dishonoured. If you doubt my affection, here I am ready to prove it. Let Smirke be called in, and let us be married out of hand; and with all my heart I purpose to keep my vow, and to cherish you through life, and to be a true and a loving husband to you."
From the fly Arthur sprang out then to the hall-door, where he was met by a domestic whom he did not know. The man seemed to be surprised at the approach of the gentleman with the carpetbag, which he made no attempt to take from Arthur's hands. "Her ladyship's not at home, sir," the man remarked.
"I am Mr. Pendennis," Arthur said. "Where is Lightfoot?" "Lightfoot is gone," answered the "My Lady is out, and my orders
"I hear Miss Amory's voice in the drawing-room," said Arthur. "Take the bag to a dressing-room, if you please;" and passing by the porter, he walked straight towards that apartment, from which, as the door opened, a warble of melodious notes issued.
Our little Syren was at her piano singing with all her might and fascinations. Master Clavering was asleep on the sofa, indifferent to the music; but near Blanche sate a gentleman who was perfectly enraptured with her strain, which was of a passionate and melancholy
As the door opened, the gentleman started up with a hullo the music
stopped, with a little shriek from the singer; Frank Clavering woke up from the sofa, and Arthur came forward and said, "What, Foker! how do you do, Foker?" He looked at the piano, and there, by Miss Amory's side, was just such another purple-leather box as he had seen in Harry's hand three days before, when the heir of Logwood was coming out of a jeweller's shop in Waterloo Place. It was opened, and curled round the white-satin cushion within was, oh, such a magnificent serpentine bracelet, with such a blazing ruby head and diamond tail!
"How de-do, Pendennis?" said Foker. Blanche made many motions of the shoulders, and gave signs of interest and agitation. And she put her handkerchief over the bracelet, and then she advanced, with a hand which trembled very much, to greet Pen.
"How is dearest Laura?" she said. The face of Foker looking up from his profound mourning-that face, so piteous and puzzled, was one that the reader's imagination must depict for himself; also that of Master Frank Clavering, who, looking at the three interesting individuals with an expression of the utmost knowingness, had only time to ejaculate the words, "Here's a jolly go!" and to disappear sniggering.
"Pen, too, had restrained himself up to that minute; but looking still at Foker, whose ears and cheeks tingled with blushes, Arthur burst out into a fit of laughter, so wild and loud, that it frightened Blanche much more than any the most serious exhibition.
"And this was the secret, was it? Don't blush and turn away, Fòker, my boy. Why, man, you are a pattern of fidelity. Could I stand between Blanche and such constancy-could I stand between Miss Amory and fifteen thousand a-year?"
"It is not that, Mr. Pendennis," Blanche said, with great dignity. "It is not money, it is not rank, it is not gold that moves me; but it is constancy, it is fidelity, it is a whole trustful loving heart offered to me, that I treasureyes, that I treasure!" And she made for her handkerchief, but, reflecting what was underneath it, she paused.
not disown, I do not disguise-my life is above disguise-to him on whom it is bestowed, my heart must be for ever bare-that I once thought I loved you, yes, thought I was beloved by you! I Own. How I clung to that faith! How I strove, I prayed, I longed to believe it! But your conduct, always - your own words so cold, so heartless, so unkind, have undeceived me. You trifled with the heart of the poor maiden! You flung me back with scorn the troth which I had plighted! I have explained allall to Mr. Foker."
"That you have," said Foker, with devotion, and conviction in his looks.
"What, all?" said Pen, with a meaning look at Blanche. "It is I am in fault, is it? Well, well, Blanche, be it So. I won't appeal against your sentence, and bear it in silence. I came down here looking to very different things, Heaven knows, and with a heart most truly and kindly disposed towards you. I hope you may be happy with another, as, on my word, it was my wish to make you so; and I hope my honest old friend here will have a wife worthy of his loyalty, his constancy, and affection. Indeed they deserve the regard of any woman-even Miss Blanche Amory. Shake hands, Harry; don't look askance at me. Has anybody told you that I was a false and heartless character?"
"In spite of what has passed, for the sake of what has passed, I must always regard Arthur as a brother," the seraph continued ; 66 'we have known each other years, we have trodden the same fields, and plucked the same flowers together. Arthur! Henry! I beseech you to take hands and to be friends! Forgive you! -I forgive you, Arthur, with my heart I do. Should I not do so for making me so happy?"
"There is only one person of us three
whom I pity, Blanche," Arthur said gravely, "and I say to you again, that I hope you will make this good fellow, this honest and loyal creature, happy."
"Happy! O Heavens!" said Harry. He could not speak. His happiness gushed out at his eyes. "She don't know she can't know how fond I am of her, and-and who am I? a poor little beggar, and she takes me up and says she'll try and 1-1-love me. ain't worthy of so much happiness. Give us your hand, old boy, since she forgives you after your heartless conduct, and says she loves you. I'll make you welcome. I tell you I'll love everybody who loves her. By-if she tells me to kiss the ground I'll kiss it. Tell me to kiss the ground! I say, tell me. I love you so. You see I love you so."
Blanche looked up seraphically again. Her gentle bosom heaved. She held out one hand as if to bless Harry, and then royally permitted him to kiss it. She took up the pocket-handkerchief and hid her own eyes, as the other fair hand was abandoned to poor Harry's tearful embrace.
"I swear that is a villain who deceives such a loving creature as that," said Pen.
"Et moi c'est different. I have been spoilt early. I cannot live out of the world, out of excitement. I could have done so, but it is too late. If I cannot have emotions, I must have the world. You would offer me neither one nor the other. You are blase in everything, even in ambition. You had a career before you, and you would not take it. You gave it up!-for what?-for a betise, for an absurd scruple. Why would you not have that seat, and be such a puritain? Why should you refuse what is mine by right, by right, entendez-vous?"
"You know all then?" said Pen. "Only within a month. But I have suspected ever since Baymouth n'importe since when. It is not too late. He is as if he had never been; and there is a position in the world before you yet. Why not sit in Parliament, exert your talent, and give a place in the world to yourself, to your wife? I take celui-la. Il est bon. Il est riche. Il est-vous le connaissez autant que moi enfin. Think you that I would not prefer un homme, qui fera parler de moi? If the secret appears I am rich a millions. How does it affect me? It is not my fault. It will never appear.' "You will tell Harry everything, won't you?"
"Je comprends. Vous refusez, said Blanche, savagely. "I will tell Harry at my own time, when we are married. You will not betray me, will you? You, having a defenceless girl's secret, will not turn upon her and use it? S'il me plait de le cacher, mon secret; pourquoi le donnerai-je? Je l'aime, mon pauvre pere, voyez-vous ? would rather live with that man than with you fades intriguers of the world. I must have emotions-il m'en donne. Il m'ecrit. Il ecrit tres-bien, voyezvous comme un pirate-comme_un Bohemien- comme un homme. for this I would have said to my mother -Ma mere! quittons ce lache mari, cette lache societie-retournons a mon pere."
"The pirate would have wearied you like the rest," said Pen.
"Eh! Il me faut des emotions," said Blanche. Pen had never seen her or known so much about her in all the years of their intimacy as he saw and knew now: though he saw more than existed in reality. For this young lady was not able to carry out any emotion to the full; but had a sham enthusiasm, a sham hatred, a sham love, a sham taste, a sham grief, each of which flared and shone very vehemently for an instant, but subsided and gave place to the next sham emotion.
room, reading, with a pale face, by the lamp. The pale face looked up when Pen opened the door. May we follow him? The great moments of life are but moments like the others. Your doom is spoken in a word or two. A single look from the eyes; a mere pressure of the hand may decide it; or of the lips, though they cannot speak.
A CHAPTER OF MATCH-MAKING.
UPON the platform at Tunbridge, Pen fumed and fretted until the arrival of the evening train to London, a full half hour-six hours it seemed to him; but even this immense interval was passed, the train arrived, the train sped on, the London lights came in view-a gentleman who forgot his carpet-bag in the train rushed at a cab, and said to the man, Drive as hard as you can go to Jermyn Street." The cabman, although a Hansom cabman, said thank you for the gratuity which was put into his hand, and Pen ran up the stairs of the hotel to Lady Rockminster's apartments Laura was alone in the drawing
When Lady Rockminster, who has had her after-dinner nap, gets up and goes into her sitting-room, we may enter with her ladyship.
"Upon my word, young people!" are the first words she says, and her attendant makes wondering eyes over her shoulder. And well may she say so; and well may the attendant cast wondering eyes; for the young people are in an attitude; and Pen in such a position as every young lady who reads this has heard tell of, or has seen, or hopes, or at any rate deserves to see.
In a word, directly he entered the room, Pen went up to Laura of the pale face, who had not time even to say, What, back so soon? and seizing her outstretched and trembling hand just as she was rising from her chair, fell down on his knees before her, and said quickly, "I have seen her. She has engaged herself to Harry Foker-and-and Now, Laura?"
The hand gives a pressure-the eyes beam a reply the quivering lips answer, though speechless. Pen's head sinks down in the girl's lap, as he sobs out, "Come and bless us, dear mother," and arms as tender as Helen's once more enfold him.
that-that a villain has transplanted me in her affections," he says with a tragedy air.
"Is that all? Is that what you are whimpering on your knees about?" says the old lady, growing angry. "You might have kept the news till to-morrow." "Yes-another has superseded me,' goes on Pen; "but why call him villain? He is brave, he is constant, he is young, he is wealthy, he is beautiful."
"What stuff are you talking, sir?" cried the old lady. "What has happened?"
"Miss Amory has jilted me, and accepted Henry Foker, Esq. I found her warbling ditties to him as he lay at her feet; presents had been accepted, vows exchanged, these ten days. Harry was old Mrs. Planter's rheumatism, which kept dearest Laura out of the house. He is the most constant and generous of men. He has promised the living of Logwood to Lady Ann's husband, and given her a splendid present on her marriage; and he rushed to fling himself at Blanche's feet the instant he found he was free."
"And so, as you can't get Blanche, you put up with Laura, is that it, sir?" asked the old lady.
"He acted nobly," Laura said.
"I acted as she bade me," said Pen. "Never mind how, Lady Rockminster; but to the best of my knowledge and power. And if you mean that I am not worthy of Laura, I know it, and pray Heaven to better me; and if the love and company of the best and purest creature in the world can do so, at least I shall have these to help me,'
"Hm, hm," replied the old lady to this, looking with rather an appeased air at the young people. "It is all very well; but I should have preferred Bluebeard."
And now Pen, to divert the conversation from a theme which was growing painful to some parties present, bethought him of his interview with Huxter in the morning, and of Fanny Bolton's affairs which he had forgotten under the immediate pressure and excitement of his own. And he told the ladies how Huxter had elevated Fanny to the rank of wife, and what terrors he was in re
specting the arrival of his father. He described the scene with considerable humour, taking care to dwell upon that part of it which concerned Fanny's coquetry and irrepressible desire of captivating mankind; his meaning being "You see, Laura, I was not so guilty in that little affair; it was the girl who made love to me, and I who resisted. As I am no longer present, the little. Syren practises her arts and fascinations upon others. Let that transaction be. forgotten in your mind, if you please; or visit me with a very gentle punishment for my error."
Laura understood his meaning under the eagerness of his explanations. "If you did any wrong, you repented, dear Pen," she said, "and you know," she. added, with meaning eyes and blushes, "that I have no right to reproach you.' "Hm !" grumbled the old lady; "I should have preferred Bluebeard.
"The past is broken away. The morrow is before us. I will do my best to make your morrow happy, dear Laura," Pen said. His heart was humbled by the prospect of his happiness: it stood awe-stricken in the contemplation of her sweet goodness and purity. He liked his wife better that she had owned to that passing feeling for Warrington, and laid bare her generous heart to him. And she-very likely she was thinking, "How strange it is that I ever should have cared for another; I am vexed almost to think I care for him so little, am so little sorry that he is gone away. Oh, in these past two months, how I have learned to love Arthur. I care about nothing but Arthur ; my waking and sleeping thoughts are about him; he is never absent from me. And to think that he is to be mine, mine! and that I am to marry him, and not to be his servant as I expected to be only this morning; for I would have gone down on my knees to Blanche to beg her to let me live with him. And now-Oh, it is too much. Oh, mother! mother, that you were here !" Indeed, she felt as if Helen were there-by her actually, though invisibly. A halo of happiness beamed from her. She moved with a different step and bloomed with a new beauty.