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sively quoted some lines from "Marmion," requesting to know where deceiving lovers should rest? Mrs. Pybus had no words of hatred, horror, contempt, strong enough for a villain who could be capable of conduct so base. This was what came of early indulgence, and insolence, and extravagance, and aristocratic airs (it is certain that Pen had refused to drink tea with Mrs. Pybus), and attending the corrupt and horrid parties in the dreadful modern Babylon! Mrs. Portman was afraid that she must acknowledge that the mother's fatal partiality had spoiled this boy, that his literary successes had turned his head, and his horrid passions had made him forget the principles which Doctor Portman had instilled into him in early life. Glanders, the atrocious Captain of Dragoons, when informed of the occurrence by Mrs. Glanders, whistled and made jocular allusions to it at dinner-time; on which Mrs. Glanders called him a brute, and ordered the girls again out of the room, as the horrid Captain burst out laughing. Mr. Simcoe was calm under the intelligence; but rather pleased than otherwise; it only served to confirm the opinion which he had always had of that wretched young man: not that he knew anything about him—not that he had read one line of his dangerous and poisonous works; Heaven forbid that he should! but what could be expected from such a youth, and such frightful, such lamentable, such deplorable want of seriousness? Pen formed the subject for a second sermon at the Clavering chapel of ease: where the dangers of London, and the crime of reading or writing novels, were pointed out on a Sunday evening, to a large and warm congregation. They did not wait to hear whether he was guilty or not. They took his wickedness for granted: and with these admirable moralists, it was who should fling the stone at poor Pen.
The next day Mrs. Pendennis, alone and almost fainting with emotion and fatigue, walked or rather ran to Dr. Portman's house, to consult the good Doctor. She had had an anonymous letter;—some Christian had thought it his or her duty to stab the good soul who had never done mortal a wrong—an anonymous letter with references to Scripture, pointing out the doom of such sinners, and a detailed account of Pen's crime. She was in a state of terror and excitement pitiable to witness. Two or three hours of this pain had aged her already. In her first moment of agitation she had dropped the letter, and Laura had read it. Laura blushed when she read it; her whole frame trembled, but it was with anger. "The cowards," she said.—"It isn't true.—No, mother, it isn't true."
"It is true, and you've done it, Laura," cried out Helen fiercely. "Why did you refuse him when he asked you? Why did you break my heart and refuse him? It is you who led him into crime. It is you who flung him into the arms of this—this woman.—Don't speak to me.—Don't answer me. I will never forgive you, never! Martha, bring me my bonnet and shawl. I'll go out. I won't have you come with me. Go away. Leave me, cruel girl; why have you brought this shame on me?" And bidding her daughter and her servants keep away from her, she ran down the road to Clavering.
Doctor Portman, glancing over the letter, thought he knew the handwriting, and, of course, was already acquainted with the charge made against poor Pen. Against his own conscience, perhaps (for the worthy Doctor, like most of us, had a considerable natural aptitude for receiving any report unfavourable to his neighbours), he strove to console Helen; he pointed out that the slander came from an anonymous quarter, and therefore must be the work of a rascal; that the charge might not be true—was not true, most likely—at least, that Pen must be heard before he was condemned; that the son of such a mother was not likely to commit such a crime, &c. &c.
Helen at once saw through his feint of objection and denial. "You think he has done it," she said,—"you know you think he has done it. Oh, why did I ever leave him, Doctor Portman, or suffer him away from me? But he can't be dishonest—pray God, not dishonest—you don't think that, do you? Remember his conduct about that other—person—how madly he was attached to her. He was an honest boy then—he is now. And I thank God—yes, I fall down on my knees and thank God he paid Laura. You said he was good—you did yourself. And now—if this woman loves him—and you know they must—if he has taken her from her home, or she tempted him, which is most likely—why still, she must be his wife and my daughter. And he must leave the dreadful world and come back to me—to his mother, Dr. Portman. Let us go away and bring him back—yes—bring him back—and there shall be joy for the—the sinner that repenteth. Let us go now, directly, dear friend—this very—"
Helen could say no more. She fell back and fainted. She was carried to a bed in the house of the pitying Doctor, and the surgeon was called to attend her. She lay all night in an alarming state. Laura came to her, or to the rectory rather; for she would not see Laura. And Doctor Portman, still beseeching her to be tranquil, and growing bolder and more confident of Arthur's innocence as he witnessed the terrible grief of the poor mother, wrote a letter to Pen warning him of the rumours that were against him, and earnestly praying that he would break off and repent of a connexion so fatal to his best interests and his soul's welfare.
And Laura?—was her heart not wrung by the thought of Arthur's crime and Helen's estrangement? Was it not a bitter blow for the innocent girl to think that at one stroke she should lose all the love which she cared for in the world? CHAPTER XIII.
WHICH HAD VERY NEARLY BEEN THE LAST OF THE STOBY.
least Helen's wish of moving upon London, and appearing in person to warn her son of his wickedness, was impracticable for a day or two. The apothecary forbade her moving even so far as Fairoaks for the first day, and it was not until the subsequent morning that she found herself again back on her sofa at home, with the faithful, though silent, Laura nursing at her side.
Unluckily for himself and all parties, Pen never read that homily which Doctor Portman addressed to him, until many weeks after the epistle had been composed; and day after day the widow waited for her son's reply to the charges against him; her own illness increasing with every day's delay. It was a hard task for Laura to bear the anxiety; to witness her
OCTOR PORTMAN'S letter was sent off to its destination in London, and the worthy clergyman endeavoured to soothe down Mrs. Pendennis S into some state of composure until an answer should arrive which the Doctor tried to think, or, at any rate, persisted in saying, would be satisfactory as regarded the morality of Mr. Pen. At dearest friend's suffering; worst of all, to support Helen's estrangement, and the pain caused to her by that averted affection. But it was the custom of this young lady, to the utmost of her power, and by means of that gracious assistance which Heaven awarded to her pure and constant prayers, to do her duty. And as that duty was performed quite noiselessly,—while the supplications which endowed her with the requisite strength for fulfilling it, also took place in her own chamber, away from all mortal sight,—we, too, must be perforce silent about these virtues of hers, which no more bear public talking about, than a flower will bear to bloom in a ball-room. This only we will say—that a good woman is the loveliest flower that blooms under heaven; and that we look with love and wonder upon its silent grace, its pure fragrance, its delicate bloom of beauty. Sweet and beautiful!—the fairest and the most spotless!—is it not a pity to see them bowed down or devoured by Grief or Death inexorable—wasting in disease—pining with long pain—or cut off by sudden fate in their prime? We may deserve grief—but why should these be unhappy?—except that we know that Heaven chastens those whom it loves best; being pleased, by repeated trials, to make these pure spirits more pure.
So Pen never got the letter, although it was duly posted and faithfully discharged by the postman into his letter-box in Lamb Court, and thence carried by the laundress to his writing-table with the rest of his lordship's correspondence.
Those kind readers who have watched Mr. Arthur's career hitherto, and have made, as they naturally would do, observations upon the moral character and peculiarities of their acquaintance, have probably discovered by this time what was the prevailing fault in Mr. Pen's disposition, and who was that greatest enemy, artfully indicated in the title-page, with whom he had to contend. Not a few of us, my beloved public, have the very same rascal to contend with: a scoundrel who takes every opportunity of bringing us into mischief, of plunging us into quarrels, of leading us into idleness and unprofitable company, and what not. In a word, Pen's greatest enemy was himself: and as he had been pampering, and coaxing, and indulging that individual all his life, the rogue grew insolent,