« ZurückWeiter »
acquiescence. "He has a right to marry; he knows a great deal more of the world than I do," she argued with herself. "Blanche may not be so light-minded as she seemed, and who am I to be her judge? I daresay it is very good that Arthur should go into Parliament and distinguish himself, and my duty is to do everything that lies in my power to aid him and Blanche, and to make his home happy. I daresay I shall live with them. If I am godmother to one of their children, I will leave her my three thousand pounds!" And forthwith she began to think what she could give Blanche out of her small treasures, and how best to conciliate her affection. She wrote her forthwith a kind letter, in which, of course, no mention was made of the plans in contemplation, but in which Laura recalled old times, and spoke her good-will, and in reply to this she received an eager answer from Blanche: in which not a word about marriage was said, to be sure, but Mr. Pendennis was mentioned two or three times in the letter, and they were to be henceforth dearest Laura, and dearest Blanche, and loving sisters, and so forth.
When Pen and Laura reached home, after Laura's confession, (Pen's noble acknowledgment of his own inferiority and generous expression of love for Warrington, causing the girl's heart to throb, and rendering doubly keen those tears which she sobbed on his shoulder), a little slim letter was awaiting Miss Bell in the hall, at which she trembled rather guiltily as she unsealed it, and at which Pen blushed as he recognised it: for he saw instantly that it was from Blanche.
Laura opened it hastily, and cast her eyes quickly over it, as Pen kept his fixed on her, blushing.
"She dates from London," Laura said. "She has been with old Bonner, Lady Clavering's maid. Bonner is going to marry Lightfoot the butler. Where do you think Blanche has been?" she cried out eagerly.
"To Paris, to Scotland, to the Casino?"
"To Shepherd's Inn, to see Fanny; but Fanny wasn't there, and Blanche is going to leave a present for her. Isn't it kind of her and thoughtful?" And she handed the letter to Pen, who read—
"'I saw Madame Mere, who was scrubbing the room, and looked at me with very scrubby looks; but la belle Fanny was not au logis; and as I heard that she was in Captain Strong's apartments, Bonner and I mounted au troisieme to see this famous beauty. Another disappointment—only the Chevalier Strong and a friend of his in the room: so we came away after all without seeing the enchanting Fanny.
"' Je t'envoie mille et mille baisers. When will that horrid canvassing be over? Sleeves are worn' &c. &c. &c."
After dinner the doctor was reading the Times. "A young gentleman I attended when he was here some eight or nine years ago, has come into a fine fortune," the doctor said. "I see here announced the death of John Henry Foker, Esq., of Logwood Hall, at Pau, in the Pyrenees, on the 15th ult."
IN WHICH THE MAJOR IS BIDDEN TO STAND AND DELIVER.
to another room gentlemen in livery resort; and the third apartment, on the door of which "Private" is painted, is that hired by the Club of "The Confidentials," of which Messrs. Morgan and Lightfoot were members. The noiseless Morgan had listened to the conversation between Strong and Major Pendennis at the latter's own lodgings, and had carried away from it matter for much private speculation; and a desire of knowledge had led him to follow his master when the Major came to the "Wheel of Fortune," and to take his place quietly in the Confidential
NY gentleman who has frequented the "Wheel of Fortune" publichouse, where it may be remembered that Mr. James Morgan's Club was held, and where Sir Francis Clavering had an interview with Major Pendennis, is aware that there are three rooms for guests upon the ground-floor, besides the bar where the landlady sits. One is a parlour frequented by the public at large; room, whilst Pendennis and Clavering had their discourse in the parlour. There was a particular corner in the Confidential room from which you could hear almost all that passed in the next apartment; and as the conversation between the two gentlemen there was rather angry, and carried on in a high key, Morgan had the benefit of overhearing almost the whole of it; and what he heard strengthened the conclusions which his mind had previously formed.
"He knew Altamont at once, did he, when he saw him in Sydney? Clavering ain't no more married to my Lady than I am! Altamont's the man: Altamont's a convict; young Harthur comes into Parlyment, and the Gov'nor promises not to split. By Jove, what a sly old rogue it is, that old Gov'nor! No wonder he's anxious to make the match between Blanche and Harthur: why, she'll have a hundred thousand if she's a penny, and bring her man a seat in Parlyment into the bargain." Nobody saw, but a physiognomist would have liked to behold, the expression of Mr. Morgan's countenance, when this astounding intelligence was made clear to him. "But for my hage, and the confounded prejudices of society," he said, surveying himself in the glass, "dammy, James Morgan, you might marry her yourself." But if he could not marry Miss Blanche and her fortune, Morgan thought he could mend his own by the possession of this information, and that it might be productive of benefit to him from very many sources. Of all the persons whom the secret affected, the greater number would not like to have it known. For instance, Sir Francis Clavering, whose fortune it involved, would wish to keep it quiet; Colonel Altamont, whose neck it implicated, would naturally be desirous to hush it: and that young upstart beast, Mr. Harthur, who was for gettin' into Parlyment on the strenth of it, and was as proud as if he was a duke with half a millium a year (such, we grieve to say, was Morgan's opinion of his employer's nephew), would pay anythink sooner than let the world know that he was married to a convick's daughter, and had got his seat in Parlyment by trafficking with this secret. As for Lady C, Morgan thought, if she's tired of Clavering, and wants to get rid of him, she'll pay: if she's frightened about her son, and fond of the little beggar, she'll pay all the same: and Miss Blanche will certainly come down handsome to the man who will put her into her rights, which she was unjustly defrauded of them, and no mistake. "Dammy," concluded the valet, reflecting upon this wonderful hand which luck had given him to play, "with such cards as these, James Morgan, you are a made man. It may be a reg'lar enewity to me. Every one of 'em must susscribe. And with what I've made already, I may cut business, give my old Gov'nor warning, turn gentleman, and have a servant of my own, begad." Entertaining himself with calculations such as these, that were not a little likely to perturb a man's spirit, Mr. Morgan showed a very great degree of self-command by appearing and being calm, and by not allowing his future prospects in any way to interfere with his present duties.
One of the persons whom the story chiefly concerned, Colonel Altamont, was absent from London, when Morgan was thus made acquainted with his history. The valet knew of Sir Francis Clavering's Shepherd's Inn haunt, and walked thither an hour or two after the Baronet and Pendennis had had their conversation together. But that bird was flown; Colonel Altamont had received his Derby winnings, and was gone to the Continent. The fact of his absence was exceedingly vexatious to Mr. Morgan. "He'll drop all that money at the gambling-shops on the Rhind," thought Morgan, "and I might have had a good bit of it. It's confounded annoying to think he's gone and couldn't have waited a few days longer." Hope, triumphant or deferred, ambition or disappointment, victory or patient ambush, Morgan bore all alike, with similar equable countenance. Until the proper day came, the Major's boots were varnished and his hair was curled, his early cup of tea was brought to his bedside, his oaths, rebukes, and senile satire borne, with silent obsequious fidelity. Who would think, to see him waiting upon his master, packing and shouldering his trunks, and occasionally assisting at table, at the country-houses where he might be staying, that Morgan was richer than his employer, and knew his secrets and other people's? In the profession Mr. Morgan was greatly respected and admired, and his reputation for