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he robbed a bird's nest, or bow magnanimously he spared it; or how he gave a shilling to the old woman on the common, or went without his bread and butter for the beggar-boy who came into the yard—and so on. One to another the sobbing women sang laments upon their hero, who, my worthy reader has long since perceived, is no more a hero than either one of us. Being as he was, why should a sensible girl be so fond of him?
This point has been argued before in a previous unfortunate sentence (which lately drew down all the wrath of Ireland upon the writer's head), and which said that the greatest rascal-cut-throats have had somebody to be fond of them, and if those monsters, why not ordinary mortals? And with whom shall a young lady fall in love but with the person she sees? She is not supposed to lose her heart in a dream, like a Princess in the "Arabian Nights;" or to plight her young affections to the portrait of a gentleman in the Exhibition, or a sketch in the Illustrated London Neics. You have an instinct within you which inclines you to attach yourself to some one. You meet Somebody: you hear Somebody constantly praised: you walk, or ride, or waltz, or talk, or sit in the same pew at church with Somebody: you meet again, and again, and—" Marriages are made in Heaven," your dear mamma says, pinning your orange-flower wreath on, with her blessed eyes dimmed with tears—and there is a wedding breakfast, and you take off your white satin and retire to your coach-and-four, and you and he are a happy pair.—Or, the affair is broken off, and then, poor dear wounded heart! why then you meet Somebody Else, and twine your young affections round number two. .It is your nature so to do. Do you suppose it is all for the man's sake that you love, and not a bit for your own? Do you suppose you would drink if you were not thirsty, or eat if you were not hungry?
So then Laura liked Pen because she saw scarcely anybody else at Fairoaks except Doctor Portman and Captain Glanders, and because his mother constantly praised her Arthur, and because he was gentlemanlike, tolerably goodlooking and witty, and because, above all, it was of her nature to like somebody. And having once received this image into her heart, she there tenderly nursed it and clasped it—she there, in his long absences and her constant solitudes, silently brooded over it and fondled it—and when after this she came to London, and had an opportunity of becoming rather intimate with Mr. George Warrington, what on earth was to prevent her from thinking him a most odd, original, agreeable, and pleasing person?
A long time afterwards, when these days were over, and Fate in its own way had disposed of the various persons now assembled in the dingy building in Lamb Court, perhaps some of them looked back and thought how happy the time was, and how pleasant had been their evening talks and little walks and simple recreations round the sofa of Pen the convalescent. The Major had a favourable opinion of September in London from that time forward, and declared at his clubs and in society that the dead season in town was often pleasant, doosed pleasant, begad! He used to go home to his lodgings in Bury Street of a night, wondering that it was already so late, and that the evening had passed away so quickly. He made his appearance at the Temple pretty constantly in the afternoon, and tugged up the long black staircase with quite a benevolent activity and perseverance. And he made interest with the chef at Bays's (that renowned cook, the superintendence of whose work upon Gastronomy compelled the gifted author to stay in the metropolis), to prepare little jellies, delicate clear soups, aspics, and other trifles good for invalids, which Morgan the valet constantly brought down to the little Lamb Court colony. And the permission to drink a glass or two of pure sherry being accorded to Pen by Dr. Goodenough, the Major told with almost tears in his eyes how his noble friend the Marquis of Steyne, passing through London on his way to the Continent, had ordered any quantity of his precious, his priceless Amontillado, that had been a present from King Ferdinand to the noble Marquis, to be placed at the disposal of Mr. Arthur Pendennis. The widow and Laura tasted it with respect (though they didn't in the least like the bitter flavour), but the invalid was greatly invigorated by it, and Warrington pronounced it superlatively good, and proposed the Major's health in a mock speech after dinner on the first day when the wine was served, and that of Lord Steyne and the aristocracy in general.
Major Pendennis returned thanks with the utmost gravity, and in a speech in which he used the words "the present occasion" at least the proper number of times. Pen cheered with his feeble voice from his arm-chair. Warrington taught Miss Laura to cry "Hear! hear!" and tapped the table with his knuckles. Pidgeon the attendant grinned, and honest Doctor Goodenough found the party so merrily engaged, when he came in to pay his faithful gratuitous visit.
Warrington knew Sibwright, who lived below, and that gallant gentleman, in reply to a letter informing him of the use to which his apartments had been put, wrote back the most polite and flowery letter of acquiescence. He placed his chambers at the service of their fair occupants, his bed at their disposal, his carpets at their feet. Everybody was kindly disposed towards the sick man and his family. His heart (and his mother's too, as we may fancy) melted within him at the thought of so much good feeling and good nature. Let Pen's biographer be pardoned for alluding to a time not far distant when a somewhat similar mishap brought him a providential friend, a kind physician, and a thousand proofs of a most touching and surprising kindness and sympathy.
There was a piano in Mr. Sibwright's chamber (indeed this gentleman, a lover of all the arts, performed himself— and exceedingly ill too—upon the instrument; and had had a song dedicated to him—the words by himself, the air by his devoted friend Leopoldo Twankidillo), and at this music-box, as Mr. Warrington called it, Laura, at first with a great deal of tremor and blushing (which became her very much), played and sang, sometimes of an evening, simple airs, and old songs of home. Her voice was a rich contralto, and Warrington, who scarcely knew one tune from another, and who had but one tune or bray in his repertoire,—a most discordant imitation of " God save the King,"—sat rapt in delight listening to these songs. He could follow their rhythm if not their harmony; and he could watch, with a constant and daily growing enthusiasm, the pure and tender and generous creature who made the music.
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I wonder how that poor pale little girl in the black bonnet, who used to stand at the lamp-post in Lamb Court sometimes of an evening, looking up to the open windows from which the music came, liked to hear it? When Pen's bed-time came the songs were hushed. Lights appeared in the upper room: his room, whither the widow used to conduct him; and then the Major and Mr. Warrington, and sometimes Miss Laura, would have a game at ecarte or backgammon; or she would sit by working a pair of slippers in worsted—a pair of gentlemen's slippers—they might have been for Arthur or for George or for Major Pendennis: one of those three would have given anything for the slippers.
Whilst such business as this was going on within, a rather shabby old gentleman would come and lead away the pale girl in the black bonnet, who had no right to be abroad in the night air, and the Temple porters, the few laundresses, and other amateurs who had been listening to the concert, would also disappear.
Just before ten o'clock there was another musical performance, namely that of the chimes of St. Clement's clock in the Strand, which played the clear cheerful notes of a psalm, before it proceeded to ring its ten fatal strokes. As they were ringing, Laura began to fold up the slippers; Martha from Fairoaks appeared with a bed-candle, and a constant smile on her face; the Major said, "God bless my soul, is it so late?" Warrington and he left their unfinished game, and got up and shook hands with Miss Bell. Martha from Fairoaks lighted them out of the passage and down the stair, and, as they descended, they could hear her bolting and locking "the sporting door " after them, upon her young mistress and herself. If there had been any danger, grinning Martha said she would have got down " that thar hooky soord which hung up in gantleman's room,"—meaning the Damascus scimitar with the name of the Prophet engraved on the blade and the red-velvet scabbard, which Percy Sibwright, Esquire, brought back from his tour in the Levant, along with an Albanian dress, and which he wore with such elegant effect at Lady Mullinger's fancy ball, Gloucester Square, Hyde Park. It entangled itself in Miss Kewsey's train, who ap
peared in the dress in which she, with her mamma, had been presented to their sovereign (the latter by the L—d Ch-nc-11-r's lady), and led to events which have nothing to with this history. Is not Miss Kewsey now Mrs. Sibwright? Has Sibwright not got a county court ?—Good night, Laura and Fairoaks Martha. Sleep well and wake happy, pure and gentle lady.
Sometimes after these evenings Warrington would walk a little way with Major Pendennis—just a little way—just as far as the Temple gate—as the Strand—as Charing Cross— as the Club—he was not going into the Club? Well, as far as Bury Street, where he would laughingly shake hands on the Major's own doorstep. They had been talking about Laura all the way. It was wonderful how enthusiastic the Major, who, as we know, used to dislike her, had grown to be regarding the young lady.—" Dev'lish fine girl, begad.—Dev'lish well-mannered girl—my sister-in-law has the manners of a duchess, and would bring up any girl well. Miss Bell's a little countrified. But the smell of the hawthorn is pleasant, demmy. How she blushes! Your London girls would give many a guinea for a bouquet like that—natural flowers, begad! And she's a little money too—nothing to speak of— but a pooty little bit of money." In all which opinions no doubt Mr. Warrington agreed; and though he laughed as he shook hands with the Major, his face fell as he left his veteran companion; and he strode back to chambers, and smoked pipe after pipe long into the night, and wrote article upon article, more and more savage, in lieu of friend Pen disabled.
Well, it was a happy time for almost all parties concerned. Pen mended daily. Sleeping and eating were his constant occupations. His appetite was something frightful. He was ashamed of exhibiting it before Laura, and almost before his mother, who laughed and applauded him. As the roast chicken of his dinner went away he eyed the departing friend with sad longing, and began to long for jelly, or tea, or what not. He was like an ogre in devouring. The Doctor cried stop, but Pen would not. Nature called out to him more loudly than the Doctor, and that kind and friendly physician handed him over with a very good grace to the other healer.