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volubility than correctness. Mrs. Pendennis did not care to penetrate the secrets of this wounded heart: except to her few intimates she was a reserved, and it may be a very proud woman; she looked upon her son's tutor merely as an attendant on that young Prince, to be treated with respect as a clergyman certainly, but with proper dignity as a dependant on the house of Pendennis. Nor were Madame's constant allusions to the Curate particularly agreeable to her. It required a very ingenious sentimental turn indeed to find out that the widow had a secret regard for Mr. Smirke, to which pernicious error, however, Madame Fribsby persisted in holding.
Her lodger was very much more willing to talk on this subject with his soft-hearted landlady. Every time after that she praised the Curate to Mrs. Pendennis, she came away from the latter with the notion that the widow herself had been praising him. “Etre soul au monde est bien onueeyong,” she would say, glancing up at a print of a French carbineer in a green coat and brass cuirass which decorated her apartment—" Depend upon it when Master Pendennis goes to college, his Ma will find herself very lonely. She is quite young yet.—You wouldn't suppose her to be five-and-twenty. Monsieur le Cury, song cure est touchy—j'ong suis sure-Je conny cela biang—Ally, Monsieur Smirke.”
He softly blushed; he sighed; he hoped; he feared; he doubted; he sometimes yielded to the delightful idea-his pleasure was to sit in Madame Fribsby's apartment, and talk upon the subject, where, as the greater part of the conversation was carried on in French by the Milliner, and her old mother was deaf, that retired old individual (who had once been a housekeeper, wife and widow of a butler in the Clavering family), could understand scarce one syllable of their talk.
When Major Pendennis announced to his nephew's tutor that the young fellow would go to College in October, and that Mr. Smirke's valuable services would no longer be needful to his pupil, for which services the Major, who spoke as grandly as a lord, professed himself exceedingly grateful, and besought Mr. Smirke to command his interest in any way—the Curate felt that the critical moment was come for him, and was racked and tortured by those severe pangs which the occasion warranted.
And now that Arthur was going away, Helen's heart was rather softened towards the Curate, from whom, perhaps divining his intentions, she had shrunk hitherto : she bethought her how very polite Mr. Smirke had been ; how he had gone on messages for her; how he had brought books and copied music; how he had taught Laura so many things, and given her so many kind presents. Her heart smote her on account of her ingratitude towards the Curate :-80 much so, that one afternoon when he came down from study with Pen, and was hankering about the hall previous to his departure, she went out and shook hands with him with rather a blushing face, and begged him to come into her drawingroom, where she said they now never saw him. And as there was to be rather a good dinner that day, she invited Mr. Smirke to partake of it; and we may be sure that he was too happy to accept such a delightful summons.
Helen was exceedingly kind and gracious to Mr. Smirke during dinner, redoubling her attentions, perhaps because Major Pendennis was very high and reserved with his nephew's tutor. When Pendennis asked Smirke to drink wine, he addressed him as if he was a Sovereign speaking to a petty retainer, in a manner so condescending, that even Pen laughed at it, although quite ready, for his part, to be as conceited as most young men are.
But Smirke did not care for the impertinences of the Major so long as he had his hostess's kind behaviour; and he passed a delightful time by her side at table, exerting all his powers of conversation to please her, talking in a manner both clerical and worldly, about the fancy Bazaar, and the Great Missionary Meeting, about the last new novel, and the Bishop's excellent sermon-about the fashionable parties in London, an account of which he read in the newspapers-in fine, he neglected no art, by which a College divine who has both sprightly and serious talents, a taste for the genteel, an irreproachable conduct, and a susceptible heart, will try and make himself agreeable to the person on whom he has fixed his affections.
Major Pendennis came yawning out of the dining-room very soon after his sister and little Laura had left the apartment.
Now Arthur, flushed with a good deal of pride at the privilege of having the keys of the cellar, and remembering that a very few more dinners would probably take place which he and his dear friend Smirke could share, had brought up a liberal supply of claret for the company's drinking, and when the elders with little Laura left him, he and the Curate began to pass the wine very freely.
One bottle speedily yielded up the ghost, another shed more than half its blood, before the two topers had been much more than half an hour together-Pen, with a hollow laugh and voice, had drunk off one bumper to the falsehood of women, and had said sardonically, that wine at any rate was a mistress who never deceived, and was sure to give a man a welcome.
Smirke gently said that he knew for his part some women who were all truth and tenderness; and casting up his eyes towards the ceiling, and heaving a sigh as if evoking some being dear and unmentionable, he took up his glass and drained it, and the rosy liquor began to suffuse his face.
Pen trolled over some verses he had been making that morning, in which he informed himself that the woman who had slighted his passion could not be worthy to win it: that he was awaking from love's mad fever, and, of course, under these circumstances, proceeded to leave her, and to quit a heartless deceiver: that a name which had one day been famous in the land, might acain be heard in it: and, that though he never should be the happy and careless boy he was but a few months since, or his heart be what it had been ere passion had filled it and grief had well-nigh killed it; that though to him personally death was as welcome as life, and that he would not hesitate to part with the latter, but for the love of one kind being whose happiness depended on his own,-yet he hoped to show he was a man worthy of his race, and that one day the false one should be brought to know how great was the treasure and noble the heart which she had flung away.
Pen, we say, who was a very excitable person, rolled out these verses in his rich sweet voice, which trembled with emotion whilst our young poet spoke. He had a trick of blushing when in this excited state, and his large and honest grey eyes also exhibited proofs of a sensibility so genuine, hearty, and manly, that Miss Costigan, if she had a heart, must needs have softened toward him; and very likely she was, as he said, altogether unworthy of the affection which he lavished upon her.
The sentimental Smirke was caught by the emotion which agitated his young friend. He grasped Pen's hand over the dessert dishes and wine-glasses. He said the verses were beautiful: that Pen was a poet, a great poet, and likely by Heaven's permission to run a great career in the world. “Go on and prosper, dear Arthur,” he cried : “ the wounds under which at present you suffer are only temporary, and the very grief you endure will cleanse and strengthen your heart. I have always prophesied the greatest and brightest things of you, as soon as you have corrected some failings and weaknesses of character, which at present belong to you. But you will get over these, my boy, you will get over these ; and when you are famous and celebrated, as I know you will be, will you remember your old tutor and the happy early days of your youth ?"
Pen swore he would: with another shake of the hand across the glasses and apricots. “I shall never forget how kind you have been to me, Smirke,” he said. “I don't know what I should have done without you. You are my best friend.”
"Am I really, Arthur ? ” said Smirke, looking through his spectacles; and his heart began to beat so that he thought Pen must almost hear it throbbing.
“My best friend, my friend for ever," Pen said. “God bless you, old boy,” and he drank up the last glass of the second bottle of the famous wine which his father had laid in, which his uncle had bought, which Lord Levant had imported, and which now, like a slave indifferent, was ministering pleasure to its present owner, and giving its young master delectation.
“We'll have another bottle, old boy,” Pen said ; " by Jove we will. Hurray !-claret goes for nothing. My uncle was telling me that he saw Sheridan drink five bottles at Brookes's, besides a bottle of Maraschino. This is some of the finest wine in England, he says. So it is by Jove. There's nothing like it. Nunc vino pellite curas—cras ingens iterabimus æqfill your glass, Old Smirke, a hogshead of it won't do you any harm.” And Mr. Pen began to sing the drinking song out of “Der Freischütz.” The dining-room windows were open, and his mother was softly pacing on the lawn outside, while little Laura was looking at the sunset. The sweet fresh notes of the boy's voice came to the widow. It cheered her kind heart to hear him sing.
“You—you are taking too much wine, Arthur,” Mr. Smirke said softly—“you are exciting yourself.”
“No," said Pen, “women give headaches, but this don't. Fill your glass, old fellow, and let's drink—I say, Smirke, my boy-let's drink to her—your her, I mean, not mine, for whom I swear I'll care no more-no, not a penny-no, not a figno, not a glass of wine. Tell us about the lady, Smirke; I've often seen you sighing about her.”
"Oh!” said Smirke-and his beautiful cambric shirt-front and glistening studs heaved with the emotion which agitated his gentle and suffering bosom.
“Oh-what a sigh !” Pen cried, growing very hilarious ; “fill, my boy, and drink the toast; you can't refuse a toast, no gentleman refuses a toast. Here's her health, and good luck to you, and may she soon be Mrs. Smirke.”
"Do you say so?” Smirke said, all of a tremble. “Do you really say so, Arthur ? ”.
"Say so; of course I say so. Down with it. Here's Mrs. Smirke's good health : Hip, hip, hurray!”
Smirke convulsively gulped down his glass of wine, and Pen waved his over his head, cheering so as to make his. mother and Laura wonder on the lawn, and his uncle, who was dozing over the paper in the drawing-room, start, and say to himself, “ that boy's drinking too much.” Smirke put down the glass.
“I accept the omen,” gasped out the blushing Curate. “Oh, my dear Arthur, you—you know her— "