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cares, whatever. I was going to say no pleasures—but the fact is, she does like her dinner, and she is pleased when people admire her."
"And you do?" said Pen, interested out of himself, and wondering at the crabbed homely little old man.
"It's a habit, like taking snuff, or drinking drams," said the other. "I've been taking her these five years, and can't do without her. It was I made her. If she doesn't send for me, I shall follow her: but I know she'll send for me. She wants me. Some day she'll marry, and fling me over, as I do the end of this cigar."
The little flaming spark dropped into the water below, and disappeared; and Pen, as he rode home that night, actually thought about somebody but himself.
THE HAPPY VILLAGE.
NTIL the enemy had retired altogether from before the place, Major Pendennis was resolved to keep his garrison in Fairoaks. He did not appear to watch Pen's behaviour, or to put any restraint on his nephew's actions, but he managed, nevertheless, to keep the lad constantly under his eye or those of his agents, and young Arthur's comings and goings were quite well known to his vigilant guardian.
I suppose there is scarcely any man who reads this or any other novel but has been balked in love sometime or the other, by fate, and circumstance, by falsehood of women, or his own fault. Let that worthy friend recall his own sensations under the circumstances, and apply them as illustrative of Mr. Pen's anguish. Ah! what weary nights and sickening fevers! Ah! what mad desires dashing up against some rock of obstruction or indifference, and flung back again from the unimpressionable granite! If a list could be made this very night in London of the groans, thoughts, imprecations of tossing lovers, what a catalogue it would be! I wonder what a percentage of the male population of the metropolis will be lying awake at two or three o'clock to-morrow morning, counting the hours as they go by, knelling drearily, and rolling from left to right, restless, yearning, and heart-sick? What a pang it is! I never knew a man die of love, certainly, but I have known a twelve-stone man go down to nine stone five under a disappointed passion, so that pretty nearly a quarter of him may be said to have perished: and that is no small portion. He has come back to his old size subsequently—perhaps is bigger than ever: very likely some new affection has closed round his heart and ribs and made them comfortable, and young Pen is a man who will console himself like the rest of us. We say this lest the ladies should be disposed to deplore him prematurely, or be seriously uneasy with regard to his complaint. His mother was; but what will not a maternal fondness fear or invent ?" Depend on it, my dear creature," Major Pendennis would say gallantly to her, "the boy will recover. As soon as we get her out of the country, we will take him somewhere, and show him a little life. Meantime make yourself easy about him. Half a fellow's pangs at losing a woman result from vanity more than affection. To be left by a woman is the deuce and all, to be sure; but look how easily we leave 'em."
Mrs. Pendennis did not know. This sort of knowledge had by no means come within the simple lady's scope. Indeed, she did not like the subject or to talk of it: her heart had had its own little private misadventure, and she had borne up against it, and cured it: and perhaps she had not much patience with other folks' passions, except, of course, Arthur's, whose sufferings she made her own, feeling indeed very likely, in many of the boy's illnesses and pains, a great deal more than Pen himself endured. And she watched him through this present grief with a jealous silent sympathy; although, as we have said, he did not talk to her of his unfortunate condition.
The Major must be allowed to have had not a little merit and forbearance, and to have exhibited a highly creditable degree of family affection. The life at Fairoaks was uncommonly dull to a man who had the entree of half the houses in London, and was in the habit of making his bow in three or four drawing-rooms of a night. A dinner with Doctor Portman or a neighbouring Squire now and then; a dreary rubber at backgammon with the widow, who did her utmost to amuse him; these were the chief of his pleasures. He used to long for the arrival of the bag with the letters, and he read every word of the evening paper. He doctored himself too, assiduously,—a course of quiet living would suit him well, he thought, after the London banquets. He dressed himself laboriously every morning and afternoon: he took regular exercise up and down the terrace walk. Thus, with his cane, his toilet, his medicine-chest, his backgammon-box, and his newspaper, this worthy and worldly philosopher fenced himself against ennui; and if he did not improve each shining hour, like the bees by the widow's garden wall, Major Pendennis made one hour after another pass as he could; and rendered his captivity just tolerable.
Pen sometimes took the box at backgammon of a night, or would listen to his mother's simple music of summer evenings—but he was very restless and wretched in spite of all: and has been known to be up before the early daylight even: and down at a carp-pond in Clavering Park, a dreary pool with innumerable whispering rushes and green alders, where a milkmaid drowned herself in the Baronet's grandfather's time, and her ghost was said to walk still. But Pen did not drown himself, as perhaps his mother fancied might be his intention. He liked to go and fish there, and think and think at leisure, as the float quivered in the little eddies of the pond, and the fish flapped about him. If he got a bite he was excited enough: and in this way occasionally brought home carps, tenches, and eels, which the Major cooked in the Continental fashion.
By this pond, and under a tree, which was his favourite resort, Pen composed a number of poems suitable to his circumstances—over which verses he blushed in after days, wondering how he could ever have invented such rubbish. And as for the tree, why it is in a hollow of this very tree, where he used to put his tin-box of ground-bait, and other fishing commodities, that he afterwards—but we are advancing matters. Suffice it to say, he wrote poems and relieved himself very much. When a man's grief or passion is at this point, it maybe loud, but it is not very severe. When a gentleman is cudgelling his brain to find any rhyme for sorrow, besides borrow and to-morrow, his woes are nearer at an end than he thinks for. So were Pen's. He had his hot and cold fits, his days of sullenness and peevishness, and of blank resignation and despondency, and occasional mad paroxysms of rage and longing, in which fits Rebecca would be saddled and galloped fiercely about the country, or into Chatteris, her rider gesticulating wildly on her back, and astonishing carters and turnpikemen as he passed, crying out the name of the false one.
Mr. Foker became a very frequent and welcome visitor at Fairoaks during this period,where his good spirits and oddities always amused the Major and Pendennis, while they astonished the widow and little Laura not a little. His tandem made a great sensation in Clavering market-place; where he upset a market-stall, and cut Mrs. Pybus's poodle over the shaven quarters, and drank a glass of raspberry bitters at the Clavering Arms. All the society in the little place heard who he was, and looked out his name in their Peerages. He was so young, and their books so old, that his name did not appear in many of their volumes; and his mamma, now quite an antiquated lady, figured amongst the progeny of the Earl of Rosherville, as Lady Agnes Milton still. But his name, wealth, and honourable lineage were speedily known about Clavering, where you may be sure that poor Pen's little transaction with the Chatteris actress was also pretty freely discussed.
Looking at the little old town of Clavering St. Mary from the London road as it runs by the lodge at Fairoaks, and seeing the rapid and shining Brawl winding down from the town and skirting the woods of Clavering Park, and the ancient church tower and peaked roofs of the houses rising up amongst trees and old walls, behind which swells a fair background of sunshiny hills that stretch from Clavering westwards towards the sea—the place appears to be so cheery and comfortable that many a traveller's heart must have yearned towards it from the coach-top, and he must have thought