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table, you would not be so eager to write, or so ready to listen! There's a sort of crime which is not complete unless the lucky rogue boasts of it afterwards; and the man who betrays your honour in the first place, is pretty sure, remember that, to betray your secret too.
"It's hard to fight, and it's easy to fall," Warrington said gloomily. "And as you say, Pendennis, when a danger like this is imminent, the best way is to turn your back on it and run."
After this little discourse upon a subject about which Pen would have talked a great deal more eloquently a month back, the conversation reverted to the plans for going abroad, and Arthur eagerly pressed his friend to be of the party. Warrington was a part of the family—a part of the cure. Arthur said he should not have half the pleasure without Warrington.
But George said No, he couldn't go. He must stop at home and take Pen's place. The other remarked that that was needless, for Shandon was now come back to London, and Arthur was entitled to a holiday.
"Don't press me," Warrington said; "I can't go. I've particular engagements. I'm best at home. I've not got the money to travel, that's the long and short of it—for travelling costs money, you know."
This little obstacle seemed fatal to Pen. He mentioned it to his mother: Mrs. Pendennis was very sorry; Mr. Warrington had been exceedingly kind; but she supposed he knew best about his affairs. And then, no doubt, she reproached herself for selfishness in wishing to carry the boy off and have him to herself altogether.
"What is this I hear from Pen, my dear Mr. Warrington?" the Major asked one day, when the pair were alone and after Warrington's objection had been stated to him. "Not go with us? We can't hear of such a thing—Pen won't get well without you. I promise you, I'm not going to be his nurse. He must have somebody with him that's stronger and gayer and better able to amuse him than a rheumatic old fogy like me. I shall go to Carlsbad very likely, when I've seen you people settle down. Travelling costs nothing now-adays—or so little! And—and pray, Warrington, I remember that I was your father's very old friend, and if you and your brother are not on such terms as to enable you to—to anticipate your younger brother's allowance, I beg you to make me your banker, for hasn't Pen been getting into your debt these three weeks past, during which you have been doing what he informs me is his work, with such exemplary talent and genius, begad?"
Still, in spite of this kind offer and unheard-of generosity on the part of the Major, George Warrington refused, and said he would stay at home. But it was with a faltering voice and an irresolute accent which showed how much he would like to go, though his tongue persisted in saying nay.
But the Major's persevering benevolence was not to be baulked in this way. At the tea-table that evening, Helen happening to be absent from the room for the moment, looking for Pen, who had gone to roost, old Pendennis returned to the charge, and rated Warrington for refusing to join in their excursion. "Isn't it ungallant, Miss Bell?" he said, turning to that young lady. "Isn't it unfriendly? Here we have been the happiest party in the world, and this odious selfish creature breaks it up!"
Miss Bell's long eyelashes looked down towards her teacup: and Warrington blushed hugely, but did not speak. Neither did Miss Bell speak: but when he blushed she blushed too.
"You ask him to come, my dear," said the benevolent old gentleman, "and then perhaps he will listen to you"
"Why should Mr. Warrington listen to me?" asked the young lady, putting the query to her teaspoon seemingly, and not to the Major.
"Ask him; you have not asked him," said Pen's artless uncle.
"I should be very glad indeed if Mr. Warrington would come," remarked Laura to the teaspoon. "Would you?" said George.
She looked up and said "Yes." Their eyes met. "I will go anywhere you ask me, or do anything," said George, lowly, and forcing out the words as if they gave him pain.
Old Pendennis was delighted; the affectionate old creature clapped his hands and cried "Bravo! bravo! It's a bargain— a bargain, begad! Shake hands on it, young people!" And Laura, with a look full of tender brightness, put out her hand to Warrington. He took hers; his face indicated a strange agitation. He seemed to be about to speak, when from Pen's neighbouring room Helen entered, looking at them as the candle which she held lighted her pale frightened face.
Laura blushed more red than ever, and withdrew her hand.
"What is it?" Helen asked.
"It's a bargain we have been making, my dear creature," said the Major in his most caressing voice. "We have just bound over Mr. Warrington in a promise to come abroad with us."
"Indeed!" Helen said.
IN WHICH FANNY ENGAGES A NEW MEDICAL MAN.
OULD Helen have suspected that, with Pen's returning strength, his unhappy partiality for little Fanny would also reawaken? Though she never spoke a word regarding that young person, after her conversation with the Major, and though, to all appearance, she utterly ignored Fanny's existence, yet Mrs. Pendennis kept a particularly close watch upon all Master Arthur's actions; on the plea of ill-health, would scarcely let him out of her sight; and was especially anxious that he should be spared the trouble of all correspondence for the present at least. Very likely Arthur looked at his own letters with some tremor; very likely, as he received them at the family table, feeling his mother's watch upon him (though the good soul's eye seemed fixed upon her teacup or her book), he expected daily to see a little handwriting, which he would have known, though he had never seen it yet, and his heart beat as he received the letters to his address. Was he more pleased or annoyed, that, day after day, his expectations were not realised; and was his mind relieved, that there came no letter from Fanny? Though, no doubt, in these matters, when Lovelace is tired of Clarissa (or the contrary), it is best for both parties to break at once, and each, after the failure of the attempt at union, to go his own way, and pursue his course through life solitary; yet our selflove, or our pity, or our sense of decency, does not like that sudden bankruptcy. Before we announce to the world that our firm of Lovelace and Co. can't meet its engagements, we try to make compromises; we have mournful meetings of partners: we delay the putting up of the shutters, and the dreary announcement of the failure. It must come: but we pawn our jewels to keep things going a little longer. On the whole, I dare say, Pen was rather annoyed that he had no remonstrances from Fanny. What! could she part from him, and never so much as once look round? could she sink, and never once hold a little hand out, or cry "Help, Arthur!" Well, well: they don't all go down who venture on that voyage. Some few drown when the vessel founders; but most are only ducked, and scramble to shore. And the reader's experience of A. Pendennis, Esquire, of the Upper Temple, will enable him to state whether that gentleman belonged to the class of persons who were likely to sink or to swim.
Though Pen was as yet too weak to walk half a mile; and might not, on account of his precious health, be trusted to take a drive in a carriage by himself, and without a nurse in attendance; yet Helen could not keep watch over Mr. Warrington too, and had no authority to prevent that gentleman from going to London if business called him thither. Indeed, if he had gone and stayed, perhaps the widow, from reasons of her own, would have been glad; but she checked these selfish wishes as soon as she ascertained or owned them; and, remembering Warrington's great regard and services, and constant friendship for her boy, received him as a member of her family almost, with her usual melancholy kindness and submissive acquiescence. Yet somehow, one morning when his affairs called him to town, she divined what Warrington's errand was, and that he was gone to London to get news about Fanny for Pen.