Abbildungen der Seite
PDF
EPUB

It would seem that the Captain, before issuing from his bedroom, scented himself with otto of whisky. A rich odour of that delicious perfume breathed from out him, as he held out the grasp of cordiality to his visitor. The hand which performed that grasp shook wofully: it was a wonder how it could hold the razor with which the poor gentleman daily operated on his chin.

Bows's room was as neat, on the other hand, as his comrade's was disorderly. His humble wardrobe hung behind a curtain. His books and manuscript music were trimly arranged upon shelves. A lithographed portrait of Miss Fotheringay, as Mrs. Haller, with the actress's sprawling signature at the corner, hung faithfully over the old gentleman's bed. Lady Mirabel wrote much better than Miss Fotheringay had been able to do. Her Ladyship had laboured assiduously to acquire the art of penmanship since her marriage; and, in a common note of invitation or acceptance, acquitted herself very genteelly. Bows loved the old handwriting best, though; the fair artist's earlier manner. He had but one specimen of the new style, a note in reply to a song composed and dedicated to Lady Mirabel, by her most humble servant Eobert Bows; and which document was treasured in his desk among his other state papers. He was teaching Fanny Bolton now to sing and to write, as he had taught Emily in former days. It was the nature of the man to attach himself to something. When Emily was torn from him he took a substitute: as a man looks out for a crutch when he loses a leg, or lashes himself to a raft when he has suffered shipwreck. Latude had given his heart to a woman, no doubt, before he grew to be so fond of a mouse in the Bastille. There are people who in their youth have felt and inspired an heroic passion, and end by being happy in the caresses, or agitated by the illness, of a poodle. But it was hard upon Bows, and grating to his feelings as a man and a sentimentalist, that he should find Pen again upon his track, and in pursuit of this little Fanny.

Meanwhile Costigan had not the least idea but that his company was perfectly welcome to Messrs. Pendennis and Bows, and that the visit of the former was intended for himself. He expressed himself greatly pleased with that mark of poloightness, and promised, in his own mind, that he would repay that obligation at least, which was not the only debt which the Captain owed in life, by several visits to his young friend. He entertained him affably with news of the day, or rather of ten days previous; for Pen, in his quality of journalist, remembered to have seen some of the Captain's opinions in the Sporting and Theatrical Newspaper which was Costigan's oracle. He stated that Sir Charles and Lady Mirabel were gone to Baden-Baden, and were most pressing in their invitations that he should join them there. Pen replied, with great gravity, that he had heard that Baden was very pleasant, and the Grand Duke exceedingly hospitable to English. Costigan answered, that the laws of hospitalitee bekeam a Grand Juke; that he sariously would think about visiting him; and made some remarks upon the splendid festivities at Dublin Castle, when His Excellency the Earl of Portansherry held the Viceraygal Coort there, and of which he Costigan had been a humble but pleased spectator. And Pen—as he heard these oft-told well-remembered legends— recollected the time when he had given a sort of credence to them, and had a certain respect for the Captain. Emily and first love, and the little room at Chatteris, and the kind talk with Bows on the bridge, came back to him. He felt quite kindly disposed towards his two old friends; and cordially shook the hands of both of them when he rose to go away.

He had quite forgotten about little Fanny Bolton whilst the Captain was talking, and Pen himself was absorbed in other selfish meditations. He only remembered her again as Bows came hobbling down the stairs after him, bent evidently upon following him out of Shepherd's Inn.

Mr. Bows's precaution was not a lucky one. The wrath of Mr. Arthur Pendennis rose at the poor old fellow's feeble persecution. Confound him, what does he mean by dogging me? thought Pen. And he burst out laughing when he was in the Strand and by himself, as he thought of the elder's stratagem. It was not an honest laugh, Arthur Pendennis. Perhaps the thought struck Arthur himself, and he blushed at his own sense of humour.

He went off to endeavour to banish the thoughts which occupied him, whatever those thoughts might be, and tried various places of amusement with but indifferent success. He struggled up the highest stairs of the Panorama; but when he had arrived, panting, at the height of the eminence, Care had come up with him, and was bearing him company. He went to the Club, and wrote a long letter home, exceedingly witty and sarcastic, and in which, if he did not say a single word about Vauxhall and Fanny Bolton, it was because he thought that subject, however interesting to himself, would not be very interesting to his mother and Laura. Nor could the novels or the library table fix his attention, nor the grave and respectable Jawkins (the only man in town), who wished to engage him in conversation; nor any of the amusements which he tried, after flying from Jawkins. He passed a Comic Theatre on his way home, and saw " Stunning Farce," "Eoars of Laughter," "Good Old English Fun and Frolic," placarded in vermilion letters on the gate. He went into the pit, and saw the lovely Mrs. Leary, as usual, in a man's attire; and that eminent buffo actor, Tom Horseman, dressed as a woman. Horseman's travestie seemed to him a horrid and hideous degradation; Mrs. Leary's glances and ankles had not the least effect. He laughed again, and bitterly, to himself, as he thought of the effect which she had produced upon him, on the first night of his arrival in London, a short time—what a long long time ago!

CHAPTER XI.

IN OR NEAB THE TEMPLE GARDEN.

ASHION has long deserted the green and pretty Temple Garden, in which Shakspeare makes York and Lancaster to pluck the innocent white and red roses which became the badges of their bloody wars; and the learned and pleasant writer of the "Handbook of London" tells us that" the commonest and hardiest kind of rose has long ceased to put forth a bud" in that smoky air. Not many of the present occupiers of the buildings round about the quarter know or care, very likely, whether or not roses grow there, or pass the old gate, except on their way to chambers. The attorneys' clerks don't carry flowers in their bags, or posies under their arms, as they run to the counsels' chambers—the few lawyers who take constitutional walks think very little about York and Lancaster, especially since the railroad business is over. Only antiquarians and literary amateurs care to look at the gardens with much interest, and fancy good Sir Eoger de Coverley and Mr. Spectator with his short face pacing up and down the road; or dear Oliver Goldsmith in the summer-house, perhaps meditating about the next " Citizen of the World," or the new suit that Mr. Filby, the tailor, is fashioning for him, or the dunning letter that Mr. Newbery has sent. Treading heavily on the gravel, and rolling majestically along in a snuff-coloured suit, and a wig that sadly wants the barber's powder and irons, one sees the Great Doctor step up to him (his Scotch lackey following at the lexicographer's heels, a little the worse for port wine that they had been taking at the Mitre), and Mr. Johnson asks Mr. Goldsmith to come home and take a dish of tea with Miss Williams. Kind faith of Fancy! Sir Eoger and Mr. Spectator are as real to us now as the two doctors and the boozy and faithful Scotchman. The poetical figures live in our memory just as much as the real personages,—and as Mr. Arthur Pendennis was of a romantic and literary turn, by no means addicted to the legal pursuits common in the neighbourhood of the place, we may presume that he was cherishing some such poetical reflections as these, when, upon the evening after the events recorded in the last chapter, the young gentleman chose the Temple Gardens as a place for exercise and meditation.

[graphic]

On the Sunday evening, the Temple is commonly calm. The chambers are for the most part vacant: the great lawyers are giving grand dinner parties at their houses in the Belgravian or Tyburnian districts; the agreeable young barristers are absent, attending those parties, and paying their respects to Mr. Kewsy's excellent claret, or Mr. Justice Ermine's accomplished daughters: the uninvited are partaking of the economic joint, and the modest half-pint of wine at the Club, entertaining themselves, and the rest of the company in the club-room, with circuit jokes and points of wit and law. Nobody is in chambers at all, except poor Mr. Cockle, who is ill, and whose laundress is making him gruel; or Mr. Toodle, who is an amateur of the flute, and whom you may hear piping solitary from his chambers in the second floor; or young Tiger, the student, from whose open

« ZurückWeiter »