« ZurückWeiter »
with a beggar? We're poor enough already. There's no use in my going to live with an old lady that's testy and cross, maybe, and would grudge me every morsel of meat. (Sure, it's near dinner time, and Suky not laid the cloth yet), and then,” added Miss Costigan, quite simply, "suppose there was a family ?--why, Papa, we shouldn't be as well off as we are now.”
“ 'Deed then, you would not, Milly dear," answered the father.
“And there's an end to all the fine talk about Mrs. Arthur Pendennis of Fairoaks Park—the member of Parliament's lady,” said Milly, with a laugh. “Pretty carriages and horses we should have to ride!--that you were always talking about, Papa. But it's always the same. If a man looked at me, you fancied he was going to marry me; and if he had a good coat, you fancied he was as rich as Crazes.”
“ As Crosus," said Mr. Bows.
“Well, call 'um what ye like. But it's a fact now that Papa has married me these eight years a score of times. Wasn't I to be my Lady Poldoody of Oystherstown Castle ? Then there was the Navy Captain at Portsmouth, and the old surgeon at Norwich, and the Methodist preacher here last year, and who knows how many more? Well, I bet a penny, with all your scheming, I shall die Milly Costigan at last. So poor little Arthur has no money? Stop and take dinner, Bows: we've a beautiful beef-steak pudding."
"I wonder whether she is on with Sir Derby Oaks,” thought Bows, whose eyes and thoughts were always watching her. “The dodges of women beat all comprehension ; and I am sure she wouldn't let the lad off so easily, if she had not some other scheme on hand."
It will have been perceived that Miss Fotheringay, though silent in general, and by no means brilliant as a conversationist where poetry, literature, or the fine arts were concerned, could talk freely and with good sense, too, in her own family circle. She cannot justly be called a romantic person: nor were her literary acquirements great: she never opened a Shakspeare from the day she left the stage, nor, indeed, understood it during all the time she adorned the boards: but about
a pudding, a piece of needlework, or her own domestic affairs, she was as good a judge as could be found; and not being misled by a strong imagination or a passionate temper, was better enabled to keep her judgment cool. When, over their dinner, Costigan tried to convince himself and the company, that the Major's statements regarding Pen's finances were unworthy of credit, and a mere ruse upon the old hypocrite's part so as to induce them, on their side, to break off the match, Miss Milly would not, for a moment, admit the possibility of deceit on the side of the adversary: and pointed out clearly that it was her father who had deceived himself, and not poor little Pen who had tried to take them in. As for that poor lad, she said she pitied him with all her heart. And she ate an exceedingly good dinner; to the admiration of Mr. Bows, who had a remarkable regard and contempt for this woman, during and after which repast the party devised upon the best means of bringing this love-matter to a close. As for Costigan, his idea of tweaking the Major's nose vanished with his supply of after-dinner whisky-and-water; and he was submissive to his daughter, and ready for any plan on which she might decide, in order to meet the crisis which she saw was at hand.
The Captain, who, as long as he had a notion that he was wronged, was eager to face and demolish both Pen and his uncle, perhaps shrank from the idea of meeting the former, and asked “what the juice they were to say to the lad if he remained steady to his engagement, and they broke from theirs ?” “What? don't you know how to throw a man over ? ” said Bows; "ask a woman to tell you;" and Miss Fotheringay showed how this feat was to be done simply enough-nothing was more easy. “Papa writes to Arthur to know what settlements he proposes to make in event of a marriage; and asks what his means are. Arthur writes back and says what he's got, and you'll find it's as the Major says, I'll go bail. Then Papa writes, and says it's not enough, and the match had best be at an end."
“ And, of course, you enclose a parting line, in which you say you will always regard him as a brother;" said Mr. Bows, eyeing her in his scornful way.
“Of course, and so I shall,” answered Miss Fotheringay.
“He's a most worthy young man, I'm sure. I'll thank ye hand me the salt. Them filberts is beautiful.”
“And there will be no noses pulled, Cos, my boy? I'm sorry you're balked,” said Mr. Bows.
“'Dad, I suppose not,” said Cos, rubbing his own.“What'll ye do about them letters, and verses, and pomes, Milly darling ?—Ye must send 'em back.” "Wigsby would give a hundred pound for 'em,” Bows said,
a with a sneer.
* 'Deed, then, he would,” said Captain Costigan, who was easily led.
Papa !” said Miss Milly.—“Ye wouldn't be for not sending the poor boy his letters back ? Them letters and pomes is mine. They were very long, and full of all sorts of nonsense, and Latin, and things I couldn't understand the half of; indeed I've not read 'em all; but we'll send 'em back to him when the proper time comes.” And going to a drawer, Miss Fotheringay took out from it a number of the County Chronicle and Chatteris Champion, in which Pen had written a copy of flaming verses celebrating her appearance in the character of Imogen, and putting by the leaf upon which the poem appeared (for, like ladies of her profession, she kept the favourable printed notices of her performances), she wrapped up Pen's letters, poems, passions, and fancies, and tied them with a piece of string neatly, as she would a parcel of sugar.
Nor was she in the least moved while performing this act. What hours the boy had passed over those papers! What love and longing: what generous faith and manly devotionwhat watchful nights and lonely fevers might they tell of! She tied them up like so much grocery, and sate down and made tea afterwards with a perfectly placid and contented heart: while Pen was yearning after her ten miles off: and hugging her image to his soul.
AJOR PENDENNIS came away from his interview with Captain Costigan in a state of such concentrated fury as rendered him terrible to approach. “The impudent bog-trotting scamp,” he thought, “ dare to threaten me! Dare to talk of permitting his damned Costigans to marry with the Pendennises ! Send me à challenge! If the fellow can get anything in the shape of a gentleman to carry it, I have the greatest mind in life
not to balk him.-Psha! what would people say if I were to go out with a tipsy mountebank, about a row with an actress in a barn! So when the Major saw Dr. Portman, who asked anxiously regarding the issue of his battle with the dragon, Mr. Pendennis did not care to inform the divine of the General's insolent behaviour, but stated that the affair was a very ugly and disagreeable one, and that it was by no means over yet.
He enjoined Doctor and Mrs. Portman to say nothing about the business at Fairoaks; and then he returned to his hotel, where he vented his wrath upon Mr. Morgan his valet, “dammin and cussin up stairs and down stairs," as that gentleman observed to Mr. Foker's man, in whose company he partook of dinner in the servants' room of the George.
The servant carried the news to his master; and Mr. Foker having finished his breakfast about this time, it being two o'clock in the afternoon, remembered that he was anxious to know the result of the interview between his two friends, and having inquired the number of the Major's sitting-room, went over in his brocade dressing-gown, and knocked for admission.
The Major had some business, as he had stated, respecting a lease of the widow's, about which he was desirous of consulting old Mr. Tatham, the lawyer, who had been his brother's man of business, and who had a branch office at Clavering, where he and his son attended market and other days three or four in the week. This gentleman and his client were now in consultation when Mr. Foker showed his grand dressinggown and embroidered skull-cap at Major Pendennis's door.
Seeing the Major engaged with papers and red-tape, and an old man with a white head, the modest youth was for drawing back—and said, “Oh, you're busy-call again another time.” But Mr. Pendennis wanted to see him, and begged him, with a smile, to enter : whereupon Mr. Foker took off the embroidered tarboosh or fez (it had been worked by the fondest of mothers) and advanced, bowing to the gentlemen and smiling on them graciously. Mr. Tatham had never seen so splendid an apparition before as this brocaded youth, who seated himself in an arm-chair, spreading out his crimson skirts, and looking with exceeding kindness and frankness on the other two tenants of the room. “You seem to like my dressing-gown, sir,” he said to Mr. Tatham. thing, isn't it? Neat, but not in the least gaudy. And how do you do? Major Pendennis, sir, and how does the world treat you ?” There was that in Foker's manner and appearance
which would have put an Inquisitor into good humour, and it smoothed the wrinkles under Pendennis's head of hair.