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and agitation. And she put her handkerchief over the bracelet, and then she advanced, with a hand which trembled very much, to greet Pen.
"How is dearest Laura?" she said. The face of Foker looking up from his profound mourning—that face, so piteous
and puzzled, was one which the reader's imagination must depict for himself; also that of Master Frank Clavering, who, looking at the three interesting individuals with an expression of the utmost knowingness, had only time to ejaculate the words, "Here's a jolly go !" and to disappear sniggering. Pen, too, had restrained himself up to that minute: but looking still at Foker, whose ears and cheeks tingled with blushes, Arthur burst out into a fit of laughter, so wild and loud, that it frightened Blanche much more than any tho most serious exhibition.
"And this was the secret, was it? Don't blush and turn away, Foker, my boy. Why, man, you are a pattern of fidelity. Could I stand between Blanche and such constancy—could I stand between Miss Amory and fifteen thousand a year?"
"It is not that, Mr. Pendennis," Blanche said, with great dignity. "It is not money, it is not rank, it is not gold that moves me; but it is constancy, it is fidelity, it is a whole trustful loving heart offered to me, that I treasure—yes, that I treasure!" And she made for her handkerchief, but, reflecting what was underneath it, she paused, "I do not disown, I do not disguise—my life is above disguise—to him on whom it is bestowed, my heart must be for ever bare—that I once thought I loved you,—yes, thought I was beloved by you! —I own. How I clung to that faith! How I strove, I prayed, I longed to believe it! But your conduct always—your own words, so cold, so heartless, so unkind, have undeceived me. You trifled with the heart of the poor maiden! You flung me back with scorn the troth which I had plighted! I have explained all—all to Mr. Foker."
"That you have," said Foker, with devotion, and conviction in his looks.
"What ! all?" said Pen, with a meaning look at Blanche. "It is I am in fault, is it? Well, well, Blanche, be it so, I won't appeal against your sentence, and bear it in silence. I came down here looking to very different things, Heaven knows, and with a heart most truly and kindly disposed towards you. I hope you may be happy with another, as, on my word, it was my wish to make you so; and I hope my honest old friend here will have a wife worthy of his loyalty, his constancy, and affection. Indeed they deserve the regard of any woman—even Miss Blanche Amory. Shake hands, Harry; don't look askance at me. Has anybody told you that I was a false and heartless character?"
"I think you're a "Poker was beginning, in his wrath,
when Blanche interposed.
"Henry, not a word!—I pray you let there be forgiveness!"
"You're an angel, by Jove, you're an angel!" said Foker, at which Blanche looked seraphically up to the chandelier.
"In spite of what has passed, for the sake of what has passed, I must always regard Arthur as a brother," the seraph continued; "we have known each other years, we have trodden the same fields, and plucked the same flowers together. Arthur! Henry! I beseech you to take hands and to be friends! Forgive you!—I forgive you, Arthur, with my heart I do. Should I not do so for making me so happy?"
"There is only one person of us three whom I pity, Blanche," Arthur said, gravely; "and I say to you again, that I hope you will make this good fellow, this honest and loyal creature, happy."
"Happy! O Heavens!" said Harry. He could not speak. His happiness gushed out at his eyes. "She don't know— she can't know how fond I am of her, and—and who am I? a poor little beggar, and she takes me up and says she'll try and 1—1—love me. I ain't worthy of so much happiness. Give us your hand, old boy, since she forgives you after your heartless conduct, and says she loves you. I'll make you welcome. I tell you I'll love everybody who loves her. By
if she tells me to kiss the ground I'll kiss it. Tell me
to kiss the ground! I say, tell me. I love you so. You see I love you so."
Blanche looked up seraphically again. Her gentle bosom heaved. She held out one hand as if to bless Harry, and then royally permitted him to kiss it. She took up the pockethandkerchief and hid her own eyes, as the other fair hand was abandoned to poor Harry's tearful embrace.
"I swear that is a villain who deceives such a loving creature as that," said Pen.
Blanche laid down the handkerchief, and put hand No. 2 softly on Foker's head, which was bent down kissing and weeping over hand No. 1. "Foolish boy," she said, "it shall be loved as it deserves: who could help loving such a silly creature?"
And at this moment Frank Clavering broke in upon the sentimental trio.
"I say, Pendennis," he said.
"The man wants to be paid, and go back. He's had some beer."
"I'll go back with him," cried Pen. "Good-bye, Blanche. God bless you, Foker, old friend. You know neither of you wants me here." He longed to be off that instant.
"Stay—I must say one word to you. One word in private, if you please," Blanche said. "You can trust us together, can't you—Henry?" The tone in which the word Henry was spoken, and the appeal, ravished Foker with delight. "Trust you!" said he. "Oh, who wouldn't trust you! Come along, Franky, my boy."
"Let's have a cigar," said Frank, as they went into the hall.
"She don't like it," said Foker, gently. "Law bless you—she don't mind. Pendennis used to smoke regular," said the candid youth.
"It was but a short word I had to say," said Blanche to Pen, with great calm, when they were alone. "You never loved me, Mr. Pendennis."
"I told you how much," said Arthur. "I never deceived you."
"I suppose you will go back and marry Laura," continued Blanche.
"Was that what you had to say?" said Pen. "You are going to her this very night, I am sure of it. There is no denying it. You never cared for me." "Et vous?"
"Et moi, c'est different. I have been spoilt early. I cannot live out of the world, out of excitement. I could have done so, but it is too late. If I cannot have emotions I must have the world. You would offer me neither one nor the other. You are blase in everything, even in ambition. You had a career before you, and you would not take it. You give it up !—for what ?—for a betise, for an absurd scruple. Why would you not have that seat, and be such a puritain? -Why should you refuse what is mine by right—by right, entendez
"You know all, then?" said Pen.
"Only within a month. But I have suspected ever since Baymouth—riimporte since when. It is not too late. He is as if he had never been; and there is a position in the world before you yet. Why not sit in Parliament, exert your talent, and give a place in the world to yourself, to your wife? I take celui-la. H est bon. II est riche. II est—vous le connaissez autant que moi, enfin. Think you that I would not prefer un homme qui/era parler de moi? If the secret appears, I am rich a millions. How does it affect me? It is not my fault. It will never appear."
"You will tell Harry everything, won't you?"
"Je comprends. Vous refusez," said Blanche, savagely. "I will tell Harry at my own time, when we are married. You will not betray me, will you? You, having a defenceless girl's secret, will not turn upon her and use it? S'il me plait de le cacher, mon secret; po^lrquoi le donncrai-je? Je Uaime, mon pauvre perc, voyez-vous? I would rather live with that man than with you fades intriguers of the world. I must have emotions—il m'en donne. II m'ccrit. II ecrit tres-bien, voyez-vous—comme un pirate—comme un BoMmicn—comme un homme. But for this I would have said to my mother—Ma mere! quittons ce lache mari, cette lache societc—retournons a. mon pere."
"The pirate would have wearied you like the rest," said Pen.
"Eh! II me faut des emotions," said Blanche. Pen had never seen her or known so much about her in all the years of their intimacy as he saw and knew now: though he saw more than existed in reality. For this young lady was not able to carry out any emotion to the full; but had a sham enthusiasm, a sham hatred, a sham love, a sham taste, a sham grief, each of which flared and shone very vehemently for an instant, but subsided and gave place to the next sham emotion.