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at the milliner’s, at the shoe-shop, and the general warehouse at the corner of the market; at Mrs. Pybus’s, at the Glanders’s, at the Honourable Mrs. Simcoe’s soz‘rée, at the Factory; nay, through the mill itself the tale was current in a few hours, and young Arthur Pendennis’s madness was in every mouth.
All Doctor Portman’s acquaintances barked out upon him when he walked the street the next day. The poor divine knew that his Betsy was the author of the rumour, and groaned in spirit. Well, well,—it must have come in a day or two, and it was as well that the town should have the real story. What the Clavering folks thought of Mrs. Pendennis for spoiling her son, and of that precocious young rascal of an Arthur, for daring to propose to a play-actress, need not be told here. If pride exists amongst any folks in our country, and assuredly we have enough of it, there is no pride more deep-seated than that of twopenny old gentlewomen in small towns. “ Gracious goodness,” the cry was, “how infatuated the mother is about that pert and headstrong boy who gives himself the airs of a lord on his blood-horse, and for whom our society is not good enough, and who would marry an odious painted actress ofi a booth, where very likely he wants to rant himself. If dear good Mr. Pendennis had been alive this scandal would never have happened.”
No more it would, very likely, nor should we have been occupied in narrating Pen’s history. It was true that he gave himself airs to the Clavering folks. Naturally haughty and frank, their cackle and small talk and small dignities bored him, and he showed a contempt which he could not conceal. The Doctor and the Curate were the only people Pen cared for in the place—even Mrs. Portman shared in the general distrust of him, and of his mother, the widow, who kept herself aloof from the village society, and was sneered at accordingly, because she tried, forsooth, to keep her head up with the great County families. She, indeed ! Mrs. Barker at the Factory has four times the butcher’s meat that goes up to Fairoaks, with all their fine airs.
&c. &c. &c.: let the reader fill up these details according to his liking and experience of village scandal. They will