Abbildungen der Seite
PDF
EPUB

his life from the painted lips of the orators before the stagelamps. But he was not acting or masquerading, as Pen knew very well, though he was disposed to pooh-pooh the old fellow's melodramatic airs. "Come along, sir," he said, "as you are so very pressing. Mrs. Bolton, I wish you a good day. Goodbye, Miss Fanny; I shall always think of our night at Vauxhall with pleasure; and be sure I will remember the theatretickets." And he took her hand, pressed it, was pressed by it, and was gone.

"What a nice young man, to be sure!" cried Mrs. Bolton.

"D'you think so, Ma?" said Fanny.

"I was a-thinkin' who he was like. When I was at the Wells with Mrs. Serle," Mrs. Bolton continued, looking through the window-curtain after Pen, as he went up the court with Bows,—"there was a young gentleman from the City, that used to come in a tilbry, in a white 'at, the very image of him, ony his whiskers was black, and Mr. P.'s is red."

"Law, Ma! they are a most beautiful hawburn," Fanny said.

"He used to come for Emly Budd, who danced Columbine in ' 'Arleykin 'Ornpipe, or the Battle of Navarino,' when Miss De la Bosky was took ill—a pretty dancer, and a fine stage figure of a woman—and he was a great sugar-baker in the City, with a country 'ouse at 'Omerton; and he used to drive her in the tilbry down Goswell Street Eoad; and one day they drove and was married at St. Bartholomew's Church, Smithfield, where they 'ad their bands read quite private; and she now keeps her carriage, and I sor her name in the paper as patroness of the Manshing-House Ball for the Washywomen's Asylum. And look at Lady Mirabel—Capting Costigan's daughter—she was profeshnl, as all very well know." Thus, and more to this purpose, Mrs. Bolton spoke, now peeping through the window-curtain, now cleaning the mugs and plates, and consigning them to their place in the corner cupboard; and finishing her speech as she and Fanny shook out and folded up the dinner-cloth between them, and restored it to its drawer in the table.

Although Costigan had once before been made pretty

[graphic]

accurately to understand what Pen's pecuniary means and expectations were, I suppose Cos had forgotten the information acquired at Chatteris years ago, or had been induced by his natural enthusiasm to exaggerate his friend's income. He had described Fairoaks Park in the most glowing terms to Mrs. Bolton, on the preceding evening, as he was walking about with her during Pen's little escapade with Fanny, had dilated upon the enormous wealth of Pen's famous uncle, the Major, and shown an intimate acquaintance with Arthur's funded and landed property. Very likely Mrs. Bolton, in her wisdom, had speculated upon these matters during the night; and had had visions of Fanny driving in her carriage, like Mrs. Bolton's old comrade, the dancer of Sadler's Wells.

In the last operation of table-cloth folding, these two foolish women, of necessity, came close together; and as Fanny took the cloth and gave it the last fold, her mother put her finger under the young girl's chin, and kissed her. Again the red signal flew out, and fluttered on Fanny's cheek. What did it mean? It was not alarm this time. It was pleasure which caused the poor little Fanny to blush so. Poor little Fanny! What! is love sin, that it is so pleasant at the beginning, and so bitter at the end?

After the embrace, Mrs. Bolton thought proper to say that she was a-going out upon business, and that Fanny must keep the lodge; which Fanny, after a very faint objection indeed, consented to do. So Mrs. Bolton took her bonnet and market-basket, and departed; and the instant she was gone, Fanny went and sate by the window which commanded Bows's door, and never once took her eyes away from that quarter of Shepherd's Inn.

Betsy-Jane and Ameliar-Ann were buzzing in one corner of the place, and making believe to read out of a picture-book, which one of them held topsy-turvy. It was a grave and dreadful tract, of Mr. Bolton's collection. Fanny did not hear her sisters prattling over it. She noticed nothing but Bows's door.

At last she gave a little shake, and her eyes lighted up. He had come out. He would pass the door again. But her poor little countenance fell in an instant more. Pendennis, indeed, came out; but Bows followed after him. They passed under the archway together. He only took off his hat, and bowed as he looked in. He did not stop to speak.

In three or four minutes—Fanny did not know how long, but she looked furiously at him when he came into the lodge —Bows returned alone, and entered into the porter's room.

"Where's your Ma, dear?" he said to Fanny.

"I don't know," Fanny said, with an angry toss. "I don't follow Ma's steps wherever she goes, I suppose, Mr. Bows."

"Am I my mother's keeper?" Bows said, with his usual melancholy bitterness. "Come here, Betsy-Jane and AmeliaAnn; I've brought a cake for the one who can read her letters best, and a cake for the other who can read them the next best."

When the young ladies had undergone the examination through which Bows put them, they were rewarded with their gingerbread medals, and went off to discuss them in the court. Meanwhile Fanny took out some work, and pretended to busy herself with it, her mind being in great excitement and anger as she plied her needle. Bows sate so that he could command the entrance from the lodge to the street. But the person whom, perhaps, he expected to see, never made his appearance again. And Mrs. Bolton came in from market, and found Mr. Bows in place of the person whom she had expected to see. The reader perhaps can guess what was his name.

The interview between Bows and his guest, when those two mounted to the apartment occupied by the former in common with the descendant of the Milesian kings, was not particularly satisfactory to either party. Pen was sulky. If Bows had anything on his mind, he did not care to deliver himself of his thoughts in the presence of Captain Costigan, who remained in the apartment during the whole of Pen's visit; having quitted his bed-chamber, indeed, but a very few minutes before the arrival of that gentleman. We have witnessed the deshabille of Major Pendennis: will any man wish to be valet-de-chambre to our other hero, Costigan?

« ZurückWeiter »