« ZurückWeiter »
clergyman, very respectable. Harrington was in London, and got in debt. Ye remember, he came out in Falkland, to Mrs. Bunce's Julia.”
“And a pretty Julia she was,” the Captain interposed; “a woman of fifty, and a mother of ten children. 'Tis you who ought to have been Julia, or my name's not Jack Costigan."
“I didn't take the leading business then," Miss Fotheringay said modestly; "I wasn't fit for't till Bows taught me.”
“True for you, my dear,” said the Captain : and bending to Pendennis, he added, “Rejuiced in circumstances, sir, I was for some time a fencing-master in Dublin ; (there's only three men in the empire could touch me with the foil once, but Jack Costigan's getting old and stiff now, sir,) and my daughter had an engagement at the thayater there; and 'twas there that my friend, Mr. Bows, gave her lessons, and made her what ye see. What have ye done since Bows went, Emily ? ”
“Sure, I've made a pie,” Emily said, with perfect simplicity. She pronounced it “Poy."
“If ye'll try it at four o'clock, sir, say the word,” said Costigan gallantly. “That girl, sir, makes the best veal-andham pie in England, and I think I can promise ye a glass of punch of the right flavour.”
Pen had promised to be home to dinner at six o'clock, but the rascal thought he could accommodate pleasure and duty in this point, and was only too eager to accept this invitation. He looked on with delight and wonder whilst Ophelia busied herself about the room, and prepared for the dinner. She arranged the glasses, and laid and smoothed the little cloth, all which duties she performed with a quiet grace and good humour, which enchanted her guest more and more. The “poy" arrived from the baker's in the hands of one of the little choir-boy's brothers at the proper hour: and at four o'clock, Pen found himself at dinner-actually at dinner with the handsomest woman in all creation-with his first and only love, whom he had adored ever since when ?-ever since yesterday, ever since for ever. He ate a crust of her making, ne poured her out a glass of beer, he saw her drink a glass of punch--just one wineglass full-out of the tumbler which she
mixed for her papa. She was perfectly good-natured, and offered to mix one for Pendennis too. It was prodigiously strong; Pen had never in his life drunk so much spirits-andwater. Was it the punch, or the punch-maker who intoxicated him ?
Pen tried to engage her in conversation about poetry and about her profession. He asked her what she thought of Ophelia's madness, and whether she was in love with Hamlet or not? “In love with such a little ojus wretch as that stunted manager of a Bingley ?” She bristled with indignation at the thought. Pen explained it was not of her he spoke, but of Ophelia of the play. “Oh, indeed ; if no offence was meant, none was taken : but as for Bingley, indeed, she did not value him-not that glass of punch.” Pen next tried her on Kotzebue. “Kotzebue? who was he?”—“ The author of the play in which she had been performing so admirably.” “She did not know that—the man's name at the beginning of the book was Thompson,” she said. Pen laughed at her adorable simplicity. He told her of the melancholy fate of the author of the play, and how Sand had killed him. It was the first time in her life that Miss Costigan had ever heard of Mr. Kotzebue's existence, but she looked as if she was very much interested, and her sympathy sufficed for honest Pen.
And in the midst of this simple conversation, the hour and a quarter which poor Pen could afford to allow himself passed away only too quickly; and he had taken leave, he was gone, and away on his rapid road homewards on the back of Rebecca. She was called upon to show her mettle in the three journeys which she made that day.
“What was that he was talking about, the madness of Hamlet, and the theory of the great German critic on the subject?” Emily asked of her father.
“ 'Deed, then, I don't know, Milly dear,” answered the Captain. “We'll ask Bows when he comes.”
“Anyhow, he's a nice, fair-spoken, pretty young man,” the lady said: “how many tickets did he take of you ?”.
“'Faith, then, he took six, and gev me two guineas, Milly," the Captain said. “I suppose them young chaps is not too flush of coin.”
“He's full of book-learning," Miss Fotheringay continued. “ Kotzebue! He, he, what a droll name, indeed, now; and the poor fellow killed by sand, too! Did ye ever hear such a thing? I'll ask Bows about it, papa dear."
“A queer death, sure enough,” ejaculated the Captain, and changed the painful theme. “ 'Tis an elegant mare the young gentleman rides,” Costigan went on to say; "and a grand breakfast, intirely, that young Mister Foker gave us.”
“He's good for two private boxes, and at leest twenty tickets, I should say,” cried the daughter, a prudent lass, who always kept her fine eyes on the main chance.
“I'll go bail of that,” answered the papa; and so their conversation continued awhile, until the tumbler of punch was finished; and their hour of departure soon came, too; for at half-past six Miss Fotheringay was to appear at the theatre again, whither her father always accompanied her; and stood, as we have seen, in the side-scene watching her, and drank spirits-and-water in the green-room with the company there.
“How beautiful she is !” thought Pen, cantering homewards. “How simple and how tender! How charming it is to see a woman of her genius busying herself with the humble offices of domestic life, cooking dishes to make her old father comfortable, and brewing him drink! How rude it was of me to begin to talk about professional matters, and how well she turned the conversation! By the way, she talked about professional matters herself; but then with what fun and humour she told the story of her comrade, Pentweazle, as he was called! There is no humour like Irish humour. Her father is rather tedious, but thoroughly amiable; and how fine of him, giving lessons in fencing after he quitted the army, where he was the pet of the Duke of Kent! Fencing! I should like to continue my fencing, or I shall forget what Angelo taught me. Uncle Arthur always liked me to fencehe says it is the exercise of a gentleman. Hang it! I'll take some lessons of Captain Costigan. Go along, Rebecca—up the hill, old lady. Pendennis, Pendennis—how she spoke the word ! Emily, Emily! how good, how noble, how beautiful, how perfect, she is !”
Now the reader, who has had the benefit of overhearing the entire conversation which Pen had with Miss Fotheringay, can judge for himself about the powers of her mind, and may perhaps be disposed to think that she has not said anything astonishingly humorous or intellectual in the course of the above interview.
But what did our Pen care ? He saw a pair of bright
eyes, and he believed in them—a beautiful image, and he fell down and worshipped it. He supplied the meaning which her words wanted ; and created the divinity which he loved. Was Titania the first who fell in love with an ass, or Pygmalion the only artist who has gone crazy about a stone? He had found her; he had found what his soul thirsted after. He flung himself into the stream and drank with all his might. Let those who have been thirsty own how delicious that first
draught is. As he rode down the avenue towards home-Pen shrieked with laughter as he saw the Reverend Mr. Smirke once more coming demurely away from Fairoaks on his pony. Smirke had dawdled and stayed at the cottages on the way, and then dawdled with Laura over her lessons—and then looked at Mrs. Pendennis's gardens and improvements until he had perfectly bored out that lady: and he had taken his leave at the very last minute without that invitation to dinner which he fondly expected.
Pen was full of kindness and triumph. “What, picked up and sound ? " he cried out, laughing. “Come along back, old fellow, and eat my dinner-I have had mine: but we will have a bottle of the old wine and drink her health, Smirke.”
Poor Smirke turned the pony's head round, and jogged along with Arthur. His mother was charmed to see him in such high spirits, and welcomed Mr. Smirke for his sake, when Arthur said he had forced the curate back to dine. He gave a most ludicrous account of the play of the night before, and of the acting of Bingley the Manager in his rickety Hessians, and the enormous Mrs. Bingley as the Countess, in rumpled green satin and a Polish cap: he mimicked them, and delighted his mother and little Laura, who clapped her hands with pleasure.
“ And Mrs. Haller ? " said Mrs. Pendennis.
“She's a stunner, ma'am,” Pen said, laughing, and using the words of his revered friend, Mr. Foker.
“A what, Arthur ? " asked the lady.
“ What is a stunner, Arthur ?" cried Laura, in the same voice.
So he gave them a queer account of Mr. Foker, and how he used to be called Vats and Grains, and by other contumelious names at school: and how he was now exceedingly rich, and a Fellow Commoner at St. Boniface. But gay and communicative as he was, Mr. Pen did not say one syllable about his ride to Chatteris that day, or about the new friends whom he had made there.
When the two ladies retired, Pen, with flashing eyes, filled up two great bumpers of Madeira, and looking Smirke full in the face said, “Here's to her!”