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which she laboured, and knew that it would suddenly remove her: and a prayer was found in her handwriting, asking that her end might be, as it was, in the arms of her son.
Laura and Arthur talked over her sayings, all of which the former most fondly remembered, to the young man's shame somewhat, who thought how much greater her love had been for Helen than his own. He referred himself entirely to Laura to know what Helen would have wished should be done; what poor persons she would have liked to relieve; what legacies or remembrances she would have wished to transmit. They packed up the vase which Helen in her gratitude had destined to Doctor Goodenough, and duly sent it to the kind Doctor; a silver coffee-pot, which she used, was sent off to Doctor Portman; a diamond ring, with her hair, was given with affectionate greeting to Warrington.
It must have been a hard day for poor Laura when she went over to Fairoaks first, and to the little room which she had occupied, and which was hers no more, and to the widow's own blank chamber in which those two had passed so many beloved hours. There, of course, were the clothes in the wardrobe, the cushion on which she prayed, the chair at the toilette: the glass that was no more to reflect her dear sad face. After she had been here awhile, Pen knocked and led her downstairs to the parlour again, and made her drink a little wine, and said, "God bless you," as she touched the glass. "Nothing shall ever be changed in your room," he said—"it is always your room—it is always my sister's room. Shall it not be so, Laura?" and Laura said, "Yes!"
Among the widow's papers was found a packet, marked by the widow "Letters from Laura's father," and which Arthur gave to her. They were the letters which had passed between the cousins in the early days before the marriage of either of them. The ink was faded in which they were written: the tears dried out that both perhaps had shed over them: the grief healed now whose bitterness they chronicled; the friends doubtless united whose parting on earth had caused to both pangs so cruel. And Laura learned fully now for the first time what the tie was which had bound her so tenderly to Helen: how faithfully her more than mother had cherished her father's memory, how truly she had loved him, how meekly resigned him.
One legacy of his mother's Pen remembered, of which Laura could have no cognizance. It was that wish of Helen's to make some present to Fanny Bolton; and Pen wrote to her, putting his letter under an envelope to Mr. Bows, and requesting that gentleman to read it before he delivered it to Fanny. "Dear Fanny," Pen said, "I have to acknowledge two letters from you, one of which was delayed in my illness" (Pen found the first letter in his mother's desk after her decease, and the reading it gave him a strange pang), "and to thank you, my kind nurse and friend, who watched me so tenderly during my fever. And I have to tell you that the last words of my dear mother, who is no more, were words of good-will and gratitude to you for nursing me: and she said she would have written to you, had she had time—that she would like to ask your pardon if she had harshly treated you—and that she would beg you to show your forgiveness by accepting some token of friendship and regard from her." Pen concluded by saying that his friend, George Warrington, Esq., of Lamb Court, Temple, was trustee of a little sum of money, of which the interest would be paid to her until she became of age, or changed her name, which would always be affectionately remembered by her grateful friend, A. Pendennis. The sum was in truth but small, although enough to make a little heiress of Fanny Bolton; whose parents were appeased, and whose father said Mr. P. had acted quite as the gentleman—though Bows growled out that to plaster a wounded heart with a bank-note was an easy kind of sympathy; and poor Fanny felt only too clearly that Pen's letter was one of farewell.
"Sending hundred-pound notes to porters' daughters is all dev'lish well," old Major Pendennis said to his nephew (whom, as the proprietor of Fairoaks and the head of the family, he now treated with marked deference and civility), "and as there was a little ready money at the bank, and your poor mother wished it, there's perhaps no harm done. But, my good lad, I'd have you to remember that you've not above five hundred a year, though, thanks to me, the world gives you credit for being a doosid deal better off; and, on my knees, I beg you, my boy, don't break into your capital. Stick to it, sir; don't speculate with it, sir; keep your land, and don't borrow on it. Tatham tells me that the Chatteris branch of the railway may—will almost certainly pass through Chatteris, and if it can be brought on this side of the Brawl, sir, and through your fields, they'll be worth a dev'lish deal of money, and your five hundred a year will jump up to eight or nine. Whatever it is, keep it, I implore you, keep it. And I say, Pen, I think you should give up living in those dirty chambers in the Temple and get a decent lodging. And I should have a man, sir, to wait upon me; and a horse or two in town in the season. All this will pretty well swallow up your income, and I know you must live close. But remember you have a certain place in society, and you can't afford to cut a poor figure in the world. What are you going to do in the winter? You don't intend to stay down here, or, I suppose, to go on writing for that—what-d'ye-call-'em—that newspaper?"
"Warrington and I are going abroad again, sir, for a little, and then we shall see what is to be done," Arthur replied.
"And you'll let Fairoaks, of course. Good school in the neighbourhood; cheap country: dev'lish nice place for East India colonels, or families wanting to retire. I'll speak about it at the club; there are lots of fellows at the club want a place of that sort."
"I hope Laura will live in it for the winter, at least, and will make it her home," Arthur replied: at which the Major pish'd and psha'd, and said that there ought to be convents, begad, for English ladies, and wished that Miss Bell had not been there to interfere with the arrangements of the family, and that she would mope herself to death alone in that place.
Indeed, it would have been a very dismal abode for poor Laura, who was not too happy either in Doctor Portman's household, and in the town where too many things reminded her of the dear parent whom she had lost. But old Lady Rockminster, who adored her young friend Laura, as soon as she read in the paper of her loss, and of her presence in the country, rushed over from Baymouth, where the old lady was staying, and insisted that Laura should remain six months, twelve months, all her life with her; and to her ladyship's house, Martha from Fairoaks, as femme de chambre, accompanied her young mistress.
Pen and Warrington saw her depart. It was difficult to say which of the young men seemed to regard her the most tenderly. "Your cousin is pert and rather vulgar, my dear, but he seems to have a good heart," little Lady Rockminster said, who said her say about everybody—" but I like Bluebeard best. Tell me, is he touche au cceur?"
"Mr. Warrington has been long—engaged," Laura said, dropping her eyes.
"Nonsense, child! And good heavens, my dear! that's a pretty diamond cross. What do you mean by wearing it in the morning?"
"Arthur—my brother, gave it me just now. It was—it was "She could not finish the sentence. The carriage passed over the bridge, and by the dear, dear gate of Fairoaks—home no more.
T chanced at that great English festival, at which all London takes a holiday upon Epsom Downs, that a great number of the personages to whom we have been introduced in the course of this history, were assembled to see the Derby. In a comfortable open carriage, which had been brought to the ground by a pair of horses, might be seen Mrs. Bungay, of Paternoster Row, attired like Solomon in all his glory, and having by her side modest Mrs. Shandon, for whom, since the commencement of their acquaintance, the worthy publisher's lady had maintained a steady friendship. Bungay, having recreated himself with a copious luncheon, was madly shying at the sticks hard by, till the perspiration ran off his bald pate. Shandon was shambling about among the drinking-tents and gipsies: Finucane constant in attendance on the two ladies, to whom gentlemen of their acquaintance, and connected with the publishing house, came up to pay a visit.
Among others, Mr. Archer came up to make her his bow, and told Mrs. Bungay who was on the course. Yonder was the Prime Minister: his lordship had just told him to back Borax for the race; but Archer thought Muffineer the better horse. He pointed out countless dukes and grandees to the Vol. n. s *