Abbildungen der Seite
PDF
EPUB
[merged small][graphic]

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. Pen gave his news, and then introduced Mr. Warrington—an old Boniface man—whose chambers he shared. The Major was quite satisfied when he heard that Mr. Warrington was a younger son of Sir Miles Warrington of Suffolk. He had served with an uncle of his in India and in New South Wales, years ago. “Took a sheep-farm there, sir, made a fortune– better thing than law or soldiering,” Warrington said. “Think I shall go there, too.” And here, the expected beer coming in, in a tankard with a glass bottom, Mr. Warrington, with a laugh, said he supposed the Major would not have any, and took a long, deep draught himself, after which he wiped his wrist across his beard with great satisfaction. The young man was perfectly easy and unembarrassed. He was dressed in a ragged old shooting-jacket, and had a bristly blue beard. He was drinking beer like a coal-heaver, and yet you could n’t but perceive that he was a gentleman. When he had sat for a minute or two after his draught, he went out of the room, leaving it to Pen and his uncle, that they might talk over family affairs were they so inclined. “Rough and ready your chum seems,” the Major said. “Somewhat different from your dandy friends at Oxbridge.”

[graphic]

“Times are altered,” Arthur replied, with a blush. “Warrington is only just called, and has no business, but he knows law pretty well; and until I can afford to read with a pleader, I use his books and get his help.” “Is that one of the books?” the Major asked, with a smile. A French novel was lying at the foot of Pen’s chair. “This is not a working day, sir,” the lad said. “We were out very late at a party last night—at Lady Whiston's,” Pen added, knowing his uncle's weakness. “Everybody in town was there except you, sir; Counts, Ambassadors, Turks, Stars and Garters—I don't know who—it's all in the paper, and my name, too,” said Pen, with great glee. “I met an old flame of mine there, sir,” he added, with a laugh. “You know whom I mean, sir, – Lady Mirabel, to whom I was introduced over again. She shook hands, and was gracious enough. I may thank you for being out of that scrape, sir. She presented me to the husband, too, an old beau in a star and a blond wig. He does not seem very wise. She has asked me to call on her, sir; and I may go now without any fear of losing my heart.” “What, we have had some new loves, have we?” the Major asked, in high good-humor. “Some two or three,” Mr. Pen said, laughing. “But I don't put on my grand sérieuz any more, sir. That goes off after the first flame.” “Very right, my dear boy. Flames and darts and passion, and that sort of thing, do very well for a lad: and you were but a lad when that affair with the Fotheringill — Fotheringay — (what’s her name?) came off. But a man of the world gives up those follies. You still may do very well. You have been hit, but you may recover. You are heir to a little independence, which everybody fancies is a doosid deal more. You have a good name, good wits, good manners, and a good person—and, begad! I don't see why you shouldn't marry a woman with money—get into Parliament—distinguish yourself, and —and, in fact, that sort of thing. Remember, it’s as easy to marry a rich woman as a poor woman: and a devilish deal pleasanter to sit down to a good dinner than to a scrag of mutton in lodgings. Make up your mind to that. A woman with a good jointure is a doosid deal easier a profession than the law, let me tell you. Look out; I shall be on the watch for you: and I shall die content, my boy, if I can see you with a good lady-like wife, and a good carriage, and a good pair of horses, living in society, and seeing your friends, like a gentleman.” It was thus this affectionate uncle spoke, and expounded to Pen his simple philosophy, “What would my mother and Laura say to this, I wonder ?” thought the lad. Indeed, old Pendennis's morals were not their morals, nor was his wisdom theirs. This affecting conversation between uncle and nephew had scarcely concluded, when Warrington came out of his bedroom, no longer in rags, but dressed like a gentleman, straight and tall, and perfectly frank and good-humored. He did the honors of his ragged sitting-room with as much ease as if it had been the finest apartment in London. And queer rooms they were in which the Major found his nephew. The carpet was full of holes—the table stained with many circles of Warrington's previous ale-pots. There was a small library of law-books, books of poetry, and of mathematics, of which he was very fond. (He had vol. x. — 4

« ZurückWeiter »