Abbildungen der Seite
PDF
EPUB

Ye've hooked 'um any how," said the Captain, “and let me tell ye he's not a bad fish. I asked Tom at the George, and Flint, the grocer, where his mother dales—fine fortunedrives in her chariot-splendid park and grounds—Fairoaks Park—only son-property all his own at twenty-one-ye might go further and not fare so well, Miss Fotheringay.”

“ Them boys are mostly talk," said Milly, seriously. “Ye know at Dublin how ye went on about young Poldoody, and I've a whole desk full of verses he wrote me when he was in Trinity College ; but he went abroad, and his mother married him to an Englishwoman.”

“Lord Poldoody was a young nobleman; and in them it's natural: and ye weren't in the position in which ye are now, Milly dear. But ye mustn't encourage this young chap too much, for, bedad, Jack Costigan won't have any thrilling with his daughter."

“No more will his daughter, papa, you may be sure of that," Milly said. “A little sip more of the punch,-sure, 'tis beautiful. Ye needn't be afraid about the young chap—I think '; I'm old enough to take care of myself, Captain Costigan.”

So Pen used to come day after day, rushing in and galloping away, and growing more wild about the girl with every visit. Sometimes the Captain was present at their meetings; but having a perfect confidence in his daughter, he was more often inclined to leave the young couple to themselves, and cocked his hat over his eye, and strutted off on some errand when Pen entered. How delightful those interviews were! The Captain's drawing-room was a low wainscoted room, with a large window looking into the Dean's garden. There Pen sate and talked—and talked to Emily, looking beautiful as she sate at her work, looking beautiful and calm, and the sunshine came streaming in at the great windows, and lighted up her superb face and form. In the midst of the conversation, the great bell would begin to boom, and he would pause smiling, and be silent until the sound of the vast music died away-or the rooks in the cathedral elms would make a great noise towards sunsetor the sound of the organ and the choristers would come over the quiet air, and gently hush Pen's talking.

By the way, it must be said that Miss Fotheringay, in a

plain shawl and a close bonnet and veil, went to church every Sunday of her life, accompanied by her indefatigable father, who gave the responses in a very rich and fine brogue, joined in the psalms and chanting, and behaved in the most exemplary manner.

Little Bows, the house-friend of the family, was exceedingly wroth at the notion of Miss Fotheringay's marriage with a stripling seven or eight years her junior. Bows, who was a cripple, and owned that he was a little more deformed even than Bingley the manager, so that he could not appear on the stage, was a singular wild man of no small talents and humour. Attracted first by Miss Fotheringay's beauty, he began to teach her how to act. He shrieked out in his cracked voice the parts, and his pupil learned them from his lips by rote, and repeated them in her full rich tones. He indicated the attitudes, and set and moved those beautiful arms of hers. Those who remember this grand actress on the stage can recall how she used always precisely the same gestures, looks, and tones ; how she stood on the same plank of the stage in the same position, rolled her eyes at the same instant and to the same degree, and wept with precisely the same heart-rending pathos and over the same pathetic syllable. And after she had come out trembling with emotion before the audience, and looking so exhausted and tearful that you fancied she would faint with sensibility, she would gather up her hair the instant she was behind the curtain, and go home to a mutton chop and a glass of brown stout; and the harrowing labours of the day over, she went to bed and snored as resolutely and as regularly as a porter.

Bows then was indignant at the notion that his pupil should throw her chances away in life by bestowing her hand upon a little country squire. As soon as a London manager saw her he prophesied that she would get a London engagement, and a great success. The misfortune was that the London managers had seen her. She had played in London three years before, and had failed from utter stupidity. Since then it was that Bows had taken her in hand and taught her part after part. How he worked and screamed, and twisted, and repeated lines over and over again, and with what indomitable

patience and dulness she followed him! She knew that he made her: and let herself be made. She was not grateful, or ungrateful, or unkind, or ill-humoured. She was only stupid ; and Pen was madly in love with her.

The post-horses from the Clavering Arms arrived in due time, and carried the party to the theatre at Chatteris, where Pen was gratified in perceiving that a tolerably large audience was assembled. The young gentlemen from Baymouth had a box, in the front of which sate Mr. Foker and his friend Mr. Spavin splendidly attired in the most full-blown evening costume. They saluted Pen in a cordial manner, and examined his party, of which they approved, for little Laura was a pretty little red-cheeked girl with a quantity of shining brown ringlets, and Mrs. Pendennis, dressed in black velvet with the diamond cross which she sported on great occasions, looked uncommonly handsome and majestic. Behind these sate Mr. Arthur, and the gentle Smirke with the curl reposing on his fair forehead, and his white tie in perfect order. He blushed to find himself in such a place—but how happy was he to be there! He and Mrs. Pendennis brought books of “Hamlet” with them to follow the tragedy, as is the custom of honest country-folks who go to a play in state. Samuel, coachman, groom, and gardener to Mrs. Pendennis, took his place in the pit, where Mr. Foker's man was also visible. It was dotted with non-commissioned officers of the dragoons, whose band, by kind permission of Colonel Swallowtail, were, as usual, in the orchestra; and that corpulent and distinguished warrior himself, with his Waterloo medal and a number of his young men, made a handsome show in the boxes.

“Who is that odd-looking person bowing to you, Arthur ?” Mrs. Pendennis asked of her son.

Pen blushed a great deal. “His name is Captain Costigan, ma'am,” he said—"a Peninsular officer.” In fact it was the Captain in a new shoot of clothes, as he called them, and with a large pair of white kid gloves, one of which he waved to Pendennis, whilst he laid the other sprawling over his heart and coat buttons. Pen did not say any more. And how was Mrs. Pendennis to know that Mr. Costigan was the father of Miss Fotheringay?

Mr. Hornbull, from London, was the Hamlet of the night, Mr. Bingley modestly contenting himself with the part of Horatio, and reserving his chief strength for William in “ Black-Eyed Susan," which was the second piece.

We have nothing to do with the play: except to say, that Ophelia looked lovely, and performed with admirable wild pathos : laughing, weeping, gazing wildly, waving her beautiful white arms, and Ainging about her snatches of

[graphic][ocr errors]

flowers and songs with the most charming madness. What an opportunity her splendid black hair had of tossing over her shoulders! She made the most charming corpse ever seen; and while Hamlet and Laertes were battling in her grave, she was looking out from the back scenes with some curiosity towards Pen's box, and the family party assembled

in it.

There was but one voice in her praise there. Mrs. Pendennis was in ecstasies with her beauty. Little Laura was

bewildered by the piece, and the Ghost, and the play within the play (during which, as Hamlet lay at Ophelia's knee, Pen felt that he would have liked to strangle Mr. Hornbull), but cried out great praises of that beautiful young creature. Pen was charmed with the effect which she produced on his motherand the clergyman, for his part, was exceedingly enthusiastic.

When the curtain fell upon that group of slaughtered personages, who are dispatched so suddenly at the end of “Hamlet," and whose demise astonished poor little Laura not a little, there was an immense shouting and applause from all quarters of the house, the intrepid Smirke, violently excited, clapped his hands, and cried out “Bravo, Bravo !” as loud as the dragoon officers themselves. These were greatly moved,

-ils s'agitaient sur leurs bancs,-to borrow a phrase from our neighbours. They were led cheering into action by the portly Swallowtail, who waved his cap—the non-commissioned officers in the pit, of course, gallantly following their chiefs. There was a roar of bravos rang through the house; Pen bellowing with the loudest, “Fotheringay! Fotheringay!” Messrs. Spavin and Foker giving the view halloo from their box. Even Mrs. Pendennis began to wave about her pockethandkerchief, and little Laura danced, laughed, clapped, and looked up at Pen with wonder.

Hornbull led the bénéficiaire forward, amidst bursts of enthusiasm and she looked so handsome and radiant, with her hair still over her shoulders, that Pen hardly could contain himself for rapture: and he leaned over his mother's chair, and shouted, and hurrayed, and waved his hat. It was all he could do to keep his secret from Helen and not say, “Look! That's the woman! Isn't she peerless? I tell you I love her.” But he disguised these feelings under an enormous bellowing and hurraying.

As for Miss Fotheringay and her behaviour, the reader is referred to a former page for an account of that. She went through precisely the same business. She surveyed the house all round with glances of gratitude; and trembled, and almost sank with emotion, over her favourite trap-door. She seized the flowers (Foker discharged a prodigious bouquet at her, and even Smirke made a feeble shy with a rose, and blushed

« ZurückWeiter »