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his friend, Lady Clavering, in good humour; with twinges of rheumatism in the back and knees; with weary feet burning in his varnished boots,—so tired, oh, so tired and longing for bed! If a man, struggling with hardship and bravely overcoming it, is an object of admiration for the gods, that Power in whose chapels the old Major was a faithful worshipper must have looked upwards approvingly upon the constancy of Pendennis's martyrdom. There are sufferers in that cause
as in the other: the negroes in the service of Mumbo Jumbo tattoo and drill themselves with burning skewers with great fortitude; and we read that the priests in the service of Baal gashed themselves and bled freely. You who can smash the idols, do so with a good courage; but do not be too fierce with the idolaters,—they worship the best thing they know.
The Pendennises, the elder and the younger, waited with Lady Clavering and her daughter until her Ladyship's carriage was announced, when the elder's martyrdom may be said to have come to an end, for the good-natured Begum insisted upon leaving him at his door in Bury Street; so he took the back seat of the carriage, after a feeble bow or two, and speech of thanks, polite to the last, and resolute in doing his duty. The Begum waved her dumpy little hand by way of farewell to Arthur and Foker, and Blanche smiled languidly out upon the young men, thinking whether she looked very wan and green under her rose-coloured hood, and whether it was the mirrors at Gaunt House, or the fatigue and fever of her own eyes, which made her fancy herself so pale.
Arthur, perhaps, saw quite well how yellow Blanche looked, but did not attribute that peculiarity of her complexion to the effect of the looking-glasses, or to any error in his sight or her own. Our young man of the world could use his eyes very keenly, and could see Blanche's face pretty much as nature had made it. But for poor Foker it had a radiance which dazzled and blinded him: he could see no more faults in it than in the sun, which was now flaring over the house-tops.
Amongst other wicked London habits which Pen had acquired, the moralist will remark that he had got to keep very bad hours; and often was going to bed at the time when sober country people were thinking of leaving it. Men get used to one hour as to another. Editors of newspapers, CoventGarden market people, night cabmen and coffee-sellers, chimney-sweeps, and gentlemen and ladies of fashion who frequent balls, are often quite lively at three or four o'clock of a morning, when ordinary mortals are snoring. We have shown in the last chapter how Pen was in a brisk condition of mind at this period, inclined to smoke his cigar at ease, and to speak freely.
Foker and Pen walked away from Gaunt House, then, indulging in both the above amusements: or rather Pen talked, and Foker looked as if he wanted to say something. Pen was sarcastic and dandified when he had been in the company of great folks; he could not help imitating some of their airs and tones, and having a most lively imagination, mistook himself for a person of importance very easily. He rattled away, and attacked this person and that; sneered at Lady John Turnbull's bad French, which her Ladyship will introduce into all conversations in spite of the sneers of everybody; at Mrs. Slack Eoper's extraordinary costume and sham jewels; at the old dandies and the young ones;—at whom didn't he sneer and laugh?
"You fire at everybody, Pen—you're grown awful, that you are," Foker said. "Now you've pulled about Blondel's yellow wig, and Colchicum's black one, why don't you have a 8hy at a brown one, hay? you know whose I mean. It got into Lady Clavering's carriage."
"Under my uncle's hat? My uncle is a martyr, Foker, my boy. My uncle has been doing excruciating duties all night. He likes to go to bed rather early. He has a dreadful headache if he sits up and touches supper. He always has the gout if he walks or stands much at a ball. He has been sitting up, and standing up, and supping. He has gone home to the gout and the headache, and for my sake. Shall I make fun of the old boy? no, not for Venice!"
"How do you mean that he has been doing it for your sake ?" Foker asked, looking rather alarmed.
"Boy! canst thou keep a secret if I impart it to thee?" Pen cried out, in high spirits. "Art thou of good counsel? Wilt thou swear? Wilt thou be mum, or wilt thou peach? Will thou be silent and hear, or wilt thou speak and die?" And as he spoke, flinging himself into an absurd theatrical attitude, the men in the cab-stand in Piccadilly wondered and grinned at the antics of the two young swells.
"What the doose are you driving at?" Foker asked, looking very much agitated.
Pen, however, did not remark this agitation much, but continued in the same bantering and excited vein. "Henry, friend of my youth," he said, "and witness of my early follies, though dull at thy books, yet thou art not altogether deprived of sense,—nay, blush not, Henrico, thou hast a good portion of that, and of courage and kindness too, at the service of thy friends. Were I in a strait of poverty, I would come to my Foker's purse. Were I in grief, I would discharge my grief upon his sympathising bosom"
"Gammon, Pen—go on," Foker said.
"I would, Henrico, upon thy studs, and upon thy camhric worked by the hands of beauty to adorn the breast of valour! Know then, friend of my boyhood's days, that Arthur Pendennis, of the Upper Temple, student-at-law, feels that he is growing lonely, and old Care is furrowing his temples, and Baldness is busy with his crown. Shall we stop and have a drop of coffee at this stall, it looks very hot and nice? Look how that cabman is blowing at his saucer. No, you won't? Aristocrat! I resume my tale. I am getting on in life. I have got devilish little money. I want some. I am thinking of getting some, and settling in life. I'm thinking of settling. I'm thinking of marrying, old boy. I'm thinking of becoming a moral man: a steady port and sherry character: with a good reputation in my quartier, and a moderate establishment of two maids and a man—with an occasional brougham to drive out Mrs. Pendennis, and a house near the Parks for the accommodation of the children. Ha! what sayest thou? Answer thy friend, thou worthy child of beer. Speak, I adjure thee by all thy vats."
"But you ain't got any money, Pen," said the other, still looking alarmed.
"I ain't? No, but she 'ave. I tell thee there is gold in store for me—not what you call money, nursed in the lap of luxury, and cradled on grains, and drinking in wealth from a thousand mash-tubs. What do you know about money? What is poverty to you is splendour to the hardy 6on of the humble apothecary. You can't live without an establishment, and your houses in town and country. A snug little house somewhere off Belgravia, a brougham for my wife, a decent cook, and a fair bottle of wine for my friends at home sometimes; these simple necessaries suffice for me, my Foker." And here Pendennis began to look more serious. Without bantering further, Pen continued, "I've rather serious thoughts of settling and marrying. No man can get on in the world without some money at his back. You must have a certain stake to begin with, before you can go in and play the great game. Who knows that I'm not going to try, old fellow? Worse men than I have won at it. And as I have not got enough capital from my fathers, I must get some by my wife —that's all."
They were walking down Grosvenor Street, as they talked, or rather as Pen talked, in the selfish fulness of his heart; and Mr. Pen must have been too much occupied with his own affairs to remark the concern and agitation of his neighbour, for he continued—" We are no longer children, you know, you and I, Harry. Bah! the time of our romance has passed away. We don't marry for passion, but for prudence and for establishment. What do you tftke your cousin for? Because she is a nice girl, and an Earl's daughter, and the old folks wish it, and that sort of thing."
"And you, Pendennis," asked Foker, "you ain't very fond of the girl—you're going to marry?"
Pen shrugged his shoulders. "Comme ca," said he; "I like her well enough. She's pretty enough; she's clever enough. I think she'll do very well. And she has got money enough—that's the great point. Psha! you know who she is, don't you? I thought you were sweet on her yourself one night when we dined with her mamma. It's little Amory."
"I—I thought so," Foker said: "and has she accepted you?"
"Not quite," Arthur replied, with a confident smile, which seemed to say, I have but to ask, and she comes to me that instant.
"Oh, not quite," said Foker; and he broke out with such a dreadful laugh, that Pen, for the first time, turned his thoughts from himself towards his companion, and was struck by the other's ghastly pale face.
"My dear fellow, Fo! what's the matter? You're ill," Pen said, in a tone of real concern.
"You think it was the champagne at Gaunt House, don't you? It ain't that. Come in; let me talk to you for a minute. I'll tell you what it is. D it, let me tell somebody," Foker said.
They were at Mr. Foker's door by this time, and, opening it, Harry walked with his friend into his apartments, which were situated in the back part of the house, and behind the family dining-room, where the elder Foker received his guests, Vol. n. H 4