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the fashionable world of Oxbridge, and being a generous and worthy fellow, without a spark of envy in his composition, was exceedingly pleased at the success of his young protege, and admired Pen quite as much as any of the other youth did. It was he who followed Pen now, and quoted his sayings; learned his songs, and retailed them at minor supper-parties, and was never weary of hearing them from the gifted young poet's own mouth—for a good deal of the time which Mr. Pen might have employed much more advantageously in the pursuit of the regular scholastic studies, was given up to the composition of secular ballads, which he sang about at parties according to university wont.
It had been as well for Arthur if the honest Foker had remained for some time at college, for, with all his vivacity, he was a prudent young man, and often curbed Pen's propensity to extravagance: but Foker's collegiate career did not last very long after Arthur's entrance at Boniface. Repeated differences with the university authorities caused Mr. Foker to quit Oxbridge in an untimely manner. He would persist in attending races on the neighbouring Hungerford Heath, in spite of the injunctions of his academic superiors. He never could be got to frequent the chapel of the college with that regularity of piety which Alma Mater demands from her children; tandems, which are abominations in the eyes of the heads and tutors, were Foker's greatest delight, and so reckless was his driving and frequent the accidents and upsets out of his drag, that Pen called taking a drive with him taking the "Diversions of Purley;" finally, having a dinner-party at his rooms to entertain some friends from London, nothing would satisfy Mr. Foker but painting Mr. Buck's door vermilion, in which freak he was caught by the proctor; and although young Black Strap, the celebrated negro-fighter, who was one of Mr. Foker's distinguished guests, and was holding the can of paint while the young artist operated on the door, knocked down two of the proctor's attendants and performed prodigies of valour, yet these feats rather injured than served Foker, whom the proctor knew very well and who was taken with the brush in his hand, summarily convened, and sent down from the university.
The tutor wrote a very kind and feeling letter to Lady Agnes on the subject, stating that everybody was fond of the youth; that he never meant harm to any mortal creature: that he for his own part would have been delighted to pardon the harmless little boyish frolic, had not its unhappy publicity rendered it impossible to look the freak over, and breathing the most fervent wishes for the young fellow's welfare—wishes no doubt sincere, for Foker, as we know, came of a noble family on his mother's side, and on the other was heir to a great number of thousand pounds a year.
"It don't matter," said Foker, talking over the matter with Pen, —"a little sooner or a little later, what is the odds? I should have been plucked for my little-go again, I know I should—that Latin I cannot screw into my head, and my mamma's anguish would have broke out next term. The Governor will blow like an old grampus, I know he will,—well, we must stop till he gets his wind again. I shall probably go abroad and improve my mind with foreign travel. Yes, parly voo's the ticket. It'ly and that sort of thing. I'll go to Paris, and learn to dance and complete my education. But it's not me I'm anxious about, Pen. As long as people drink beer I don't care,—it's about you I'm doubtful, my boy. You're going too fast, and can't keep up the pace, I tell you. It's not the fifty you owe me —pay it or not when you like,—but it's the every-day pace, and I tell you it will kill you. You're livin' as if there was no end to the money in the stockin' at home. You oughtn't to give dinners, you ought to eat 'em. Fellows are glad to have you. You oughtn't to owe horse bills, you ought to ride other chaps' nags. You know no more about betting than I do about algebra: the chaps will win your money as sure as you sport it. Hang me if you are not trying at everything. I saw you sit down to ecarte last week at Trumpington's, and taking your turn with the bones after Ringwood's supper. They'll beat you at it, Pen, my boy, even if they play on the square, which I don't say they don't, nor which I don't say they do, mind. But /won't play with 'em. You're no match for 'em. You ain't up to their weight. It's like little Black Strap standing up to Tom Spring,—the Black's a pretty fighter, but, Law bless you, his arm ain't long enough to touch Tom,—and I tell you, you're going it with fellers beyond your weight. Look here—If you'll promise me never to bet nor touch a box nor a card, I'll let you off the two ponies."
But Pen, laughingly, said, "that though it wasn't convenient to him to pay the two ponies at that moment, he by no means wished to be let off any just debts he owed;" and he and Foker parted, not without many dark forebodings on the latter's part with regard to his friend, who Harry thought was travelling speedily on the road to ruin.
"One must do at Rome as Rome does," Pen said, in a dandified manner, jingling some sovereigns in his waistcoat pocket. "A little quiet play at ecarte can't hurt a man who plays pretty well—I came away fourteen sovereigns richer from Ringwood's supper, and, gad! I wanted the money."—And he walked off, after having taken leave of poor Foker, who went away without any beat of drum, or offer to drive the coach out of Oxbridge, to superintend a little dinner which he was going to give at his own rooms in Boniface, about which dinners, the cook of the college, who had a great respect for Mr. Pendennis, always took especial pains for his young favourite.
O in Pen's second year Major Pendennis paid a brief visit to his nephew, and was introduced to several of Pen's university friends—the gentle and polite Lord Plinlimmon, the gallant and open-hearted Magnus Charters, the sly and witty Harland; the intrepid Ringwood, who was called Rupert in the Union Debating Club, from his opinions and the bravery of his blunders; Broadbent, styled Barebones Broadbent from the republican nature of his opinions (he was of a dissenting family from Bristol, and a perfect Boanerges of debate); and Bloundell-Bloundell, whom Mr. Pen entertained at a dinner whereof his uncle was the chief guest.
The Major said, "Pen, my boy, your dinner went off a mcrveille; you did the honours very nicely—you carved well—I am glad you learned to carve—it is done on the sideboard now in most good houses, but it is still an important point, and may aid you in middle-life—young Lord Plinlimmon is a very amiable young man, quite the image of his dear mother (whom I knew as Lady Aquila Brownbill); and Lord Magnus's republicanism will wear off—it sits prettily enough on a young patrician in early life, though nothing is so loathsome among persons of our rank—Mr. Broadbent seems to have much eloquence and considerable reading; your friend Foker is always delightful; but your acquaintance, Mr. Bloundell, struck me as in all respects a most ineligible young man."
"Bless my soul, sir, Bloundell-Bloundell!" cried Pen, laughing: "why, sir, he's the most popular man of the university. He was in the Dragoons before he came up. We elected him of the Barmecides the first week he came up—had a special meeting on purpose—he's of an excellent family—Suffolk Bloundels, descended from Richard's Blondel, bear a harp in chief—and motto O Mong Roy."
"A man may have a very good coat-of-arms, and be a tiger, my boy," the Major said, chipping his egg; "that man is a tiger, mark my word—a low man. I will lay a wager that he left his regiment, which was a good one (for a more respectable man than my friend, Lord Martingale, never sat in a saddle), in bad odour. There is the unmistakable look of slang and bad habits about this Mr. Bloundell. He frequents low gambling-houses and billiard-hells, sir,—he haunts third-rate clubs—I know he does. I know by his style. I never was mistaken in my man yet. Did you remark the quantity of rings and jewellery he wore? That person has Scamp written on his countenance, if any man ever had. Mark my words and avoid him. Let us turn the conversation. The dinner was a leetle too fine, but I don't object to your making a few extra frais when you receive friends. Of course you don't do it often, and only those whom it is your interest to feter. The cutlets were excellent, and the souffle uncommonly light and good. The third bottle of champagne was not necessary; but you have a good income, and as long as you keep within it, I shall not quarrel with you, my dear boy."
Poor Pen! the worthy uncle little knew how often those dinners took place, while the reckless young Amphitryon delighted to show his hospitality and skill in gourmandise. There