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Lamb Court, Temple:—where was it? Major Pendennis remembered that some ladies of fashion used to talk of dining with Mr. Ayliffe, the barrister, who was in "society," and who lived there in the King's Bench, of which prison there was probably a branch in the Temple, and Ayliffe was very likely an officer. Mr. Deuceace, Lord Crab's son, had also lived there, he recollected. He despatched Morgan to find out where Lamb Court was, and to report upon the lodging selected by Mr. Arthur. That alert messenger had little difficulty in discovering Mr. Pen's abode. Discreet Morgan had in his time traced people far more difficult to find than Arthur.
"What sort of a place is it, Morgan?" asked the Major out of the bed-curtains in Bury Street the next morning, as the valet was arranging his toilette in the deep yellow London fog.
"I should say rayther a shy place," said Mr. Morgan. "The lawyers lives there, and has their names on the doors. Mr. Harthur lives three pair high, sir. Mr. Warrington lives there too, sir."
"Suffolk Warringtons! I shouldn't wonder: a good family," thought the Major. "The cadets of many of our good families follow the robe as a profession. Comfortable rooms, eh?"
"Honly saw the outside of the door, sir, with Mr. Warrington's name and Mr. Arthur's painted up, and a piece of paper with 'Back at 6;' but I couldn't see no servant, sir."
"Economical at any rate," said the Major.
"Very, sir. Three pair, sir. Nasty black staircase as ever I see. Wonder how a gentleman can live in such a place."
"Pray, who taught you where gentlemen should or should not live, Morgan? Mr. Arthur, sir,is going to study for the bar, sir;" the Major said with much dignity; and closed the conversation and began to array himself in the yellow fog.
"Boys will be boys," the mollified uncle thought to himself. "He has written to me a devilish good letter. Colchicum says he has had him to dine, and thinks him a gentlemanlike lad. His mother is one of the best creatures in the world. If he has sown his wild oats, and will stick to his business, he may do well yet. Think of Charley Mirabel, the old fool, marrying that flame of his; that Fotheringay! He doesn't like to come here till I give him leave, and puts it in a very manly nice way. I was deuced angry with him, after his Oxbridge escapades—and showed it, too, when he was here before—Gad, I'll go and see him, hang me, if I don't."
And having ascertained from Morgan that he could reach the Temple without much difficulty, and that a city omnibus would put him down at the gate, the Major one day after breakfast at his Club—not the Polyanthus, whereof Mr. Pen was just elected a member, but another Club: for the Major was too wise to have a nephew as a constant inmate of any house where he was in the habit of passing his time—the Major one day entered one of those public vehicles, and bade the conductor to put him down at the gate of the Upper Temple.
When Major Pendennis reached that dingy portal it was about twelve o'clock in the day; and he was directed by a civil personage with a badge and a white apron, through some dark alleys, and under various melancholy archways into courts each more dismal than the other, until finally he reached Lamb Court. If it was dark in Pall Mall, what was it in Lamb Court? Candles were burning in many of the rooms there—in the pupil-room of Mr. Hodgeman, the special pleader, whose six pupils were scribbling declarations under the tallow; in Sir Hokey Walker's clerk's room, where the clerk, a person far more gentlemanlike and cheerful in appearance than the celebrated counsel, his master, was conversing in a patronising manner with the managing clerk of an attorney at the door; and in Curling, the wig-maker's melancholy shop, where, from behind the feeble glimmer of a couple of lights, large Serjeants' and judges' wigs were looming drearily, with the blank blocks looking at the lamp-post in the court. Two little clerks were playing at toss-halfpenny under that lamp. A laundress in pattens passed in at one door, a newspaper boy issued from another. A porter, whose white apron was faintly visible, paced up and down. It would be impossible to conceive a place more dismal, and the Major shuddered to think that anyone should select such a residence. "Good Ged!" he said, "the poor boy mustn't live on here."
The feeble and filthy oil-lamps, with which the staircases of the Upper Temple are lighted of nights, were of course not illuminating the stairs by day, and Major Pendennis, having read with difficulty his nephew's name under Mr. Warrington's on the wall of No. 6, found still greater difficulty in climbing the abominable black stairs, up the banisters of which, which contributed their damp exudations to his gloves, he groped painfully until he came to the third story. A candle was in the passage of one of the two sets of rooms; the doors were open, and the names of Mr. Warrington and Mr. A. Pendennis were very clearly visible to the Major as he went in. An Irish charwoman, with a pail and broom, opened the door for the Major.
"Is that the beer?" cried out a great voice: "give us hold of it."
The gentleman who was speaking was seated on a table, unshorn and smoking a short pipe; in a farther chair sate Pen, with a cigar, and his legs near the fire. A little boy, who acted as the clerk of these gentlemen, was grinning in the Major's face, at the idea of his being mistaken for beer. Here, upon the third floor, the rooms were somewhat lighter, and the Major could see the place.
"Pen, my boy, it's I—it's your uncle," he said, choking with the smoke. But as most young men of fashion used the weed, he pardoned the practice easily enough.
Mr. Warrington got up from the table, and Pen, in a very perturbed manner, from his chair. "Beg your pardon for mistaking you," said Warrington, in a frank, loud voice. "Will you take a cigar, sir? Clear those things off the chair, Pidgeon, and pull it round to the fire."
Pen flung his cigar into the grate; and was pleased with the cordiality with which his uncle shook him by the hand. As soon as he could speak for the stairs and the smoke, the Major began to ask Pen very kindly about himself and about his mother; for blood is blood, and he was pleased once more to see the boy.