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you call 'em. My Governor thought he'd made it all right for me in settling my marriage with my cousin. I tell you it won't do; and when Lady Ann has got her husband, it won’t be happy for either of us, and she’ll have the most miserable beggar in town.” “Poor old fellow !” Pen said, with rather a cheap magnanimity, “I wish I could help you. I had no idea of this, and that you were so wild about the girl. Do you think she would have you without your money? No. Do you think your father would agree to break off your engagement with your cousin 7 You know him very well, and that he would cast you off rather than do so.” The unhappy Foker only groaned a reply, flinging himself prostrate on a sofa, face forwards, his head in his hands. “As for my affair,” Pen went on —“my dear fellow, if I had thought matters were so critical with you, at least I would not have pained you by choosing you as my confidant. And my business is not serious, at least not as yet. I have not spoken a word about it to Miss Amory. Very likely she would not have me if I asked her. Only I have had a great deal of talk about it with my uncle, who says that the match might be an eligible one for me. I’m ambitious and I’m poor. And it appears Lady Clavering will give her a good deal of money, and Sir Francis might be got to — never mind the rest. Nothing is settled, Harry. They are going out of town directly. I promise you Iwon't ask her before she goes. There's no hurry: there's time for everybody. But suppose you got her, Foker. Remember what you said about marriages just now, and the misery of a man who does n’t care for his wife; and what sort of a wife would you have who didn't care for her husband 7”
“But she would care for me,” said Foker, from his sofa – “that is, I think she would. Last night only, as we were dancing, she said —”
“What did she say?” Pen cried, starting up in great wrath. But he saw his own meaning more clearly than Foker, and broke off with a laugh — “Well, never mind what she said, Harry. Miss Amory is a clever girl, and says numbers of civil things — to you — to me, perhaps — and who the deuce knows to whom besides 7 Nothing's settled, old boy. At least, my heart won't break if I don't get her. Win her if you can, and I wish you joy of her. Good-by! Don't think about what I said to you. I was excited, and confoundedly thirsty in those hot rooms, and didn't, I suppose, put enough Seltzer water into the champagne. Good night! I'll keep your counsel too. “Mum' is the word between us; and “let there be a fair fight, and let the best man win,’ as Peter Crawley says.”
So saying, Mr. Arthur Pendennis, giving a very queer and rather dangerous look at his companion, shook him by the hand, with something of that sort of cordiality which befitted his just repeated simile of the boxing-match, and which Mr. Bendigo displays when he shakes hands with Mr. Caunt before they fight each other for the champion's belt and two hundred pounds a side. Foker returned his friend's salute with an imploring look, and a piteous squeeze of the hand, sank back on his cushions again, and Pen, putting on his hat, strode forth into the air, and almost over the body of the matutinal housemaid, who was rubbing the steps at the door.
“And so he wants her too? does he 7” thought Pen as he marched along —and noted within himself with a fatal keenness of perception and almost an infernal mischief, that the very pains and tortures which that honest heart of Foker's was suffering gave a zest and an impetus to his own pursuit of Blanche: if pursuit that might be called which had been no pursuit as yet, but mere sport and idle dallying. “She said something to him, did she 7 perhaps she gave him the fellow flower to this; ” and he took out of his coat and twiddled in his thumb and finger a poor little shrivelled crumpled bud that had faded and blackened with the heat and flare of the night. — “I wonder to how many more she has given her artless tokens of affection — the little flirt”— and he flung his into the gutter, where the water may have refreshed it, and where any amateur of rosebuds may have picked it up. And then bethinking him that the day was quite bright, and that the passers-by might be staring at his beard and white neckcloth, our modest young gentleman took a cab and drove to the Temple. Ah! is this the boy that prayed at his mother's knee but a few years since, and for whom very likely at this hour of morning she is praying 2 Is this jaded and selfish worldling the lad who, a short while back, was ready to fling away his worldly all, his hope, his ambition, his chance of life, for his love? This is the man you are proud of, old Pendennis. You boast of having formed him: and of having reasoned him out of his absurd romance and folly — and groaning in your bed over your pains and rheumatisms, satisfy yourself still by thinking, that, at last, that lad will do something to better himself in life, and that the Pendennises will take a good place in the world. And is he the only one, who in his progress through this dark life goes wilfully or fatally astray, whilst
the natural truth and love which should illumine him grow dim in the poisoned air, and suffice to light him no more ?
When Pen was gone away, poor Harry Foker got up from the sofa, and taking out from his waistcoat — the splendidly buttoned, the gorgeously embroidered, the work of his mamma – a little white rosebud, he drew from his dressing-case, also the maternal present, a pair of scissors, with which he nipped carefully the stalk of the flower, and placing it in a glass of water opposite his bed, he sought refuge there from care and bitter remembrances.
It is to be presumed that Miss Blanche Amory had more than one rose in her bouquet, and why should not the kind young creature give out of her superfluity, and make as many partners as possible happy.
THE exertions of that last night at Gaunt House had proved almost too much for Major Pendennis; and as soon as he could move his weary old body with safety, he transported himself groaning to Buxton, and sought relief in the healing waters of that place. Parliament broke up. Sir Francis Clavering and family left town, and the affairs which we have just mentioned to the reader were not advanced, in the brief interval of a few days or weeks which have occurred between this and the last chapter. The town was, however, emptied since then.
The season was now come to a conclusion: Pen's neighbors, the lawyers, were gone upon circuit: and his more fashionable friends had taken their passports for the continent, or had fled for health or excitement to the Scotch moors. Scarce a man was to be seen in the bow-windows of the clubs, or on the solitary Pall Mall pavement. The red jackets had disappeared from before the Palace-gate: the tradesmen of St. James's were abroad taking their pleasure : the tailors had grown mustachios and were gone up the Rhine: the bootmakers were at Ems or Baden, blushing when they met their customers at those places of recreation, or punting beside their creditors at the gambling tables: the clergymen of St. James's only preached to half a congregation, in which there was not a single sinner of distinction: the band in Kensing
vol. x. —21