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were his servants and handmaids. “You’ll never send me away,” little Laura said, tripping by him, and holding his hand. “ You won’t send me to school, will you, Arthur ? ”
Arthur kissed her and patted her head. No, she shouldn’t’
go to school. As for going himself, that was quite out of the question. He had determined that that part of his life should not be renewed. In the midst of the general grief, and the corpse still lying above, he had leisure to conclude that he would have it all holidays for the future, that he wouldn’t get up till he liked, or stand the bullying of the Doctor any more, and had made a hundred of such day-dreams and resolves for the future. How one’s thoughts will travel I and how quickly our wishes beget them! When he with Laura in his hand went into the kitchen on his way to the dog-kennel, the fowlhouses, and other his favourite haunts, all the servants there assembled in great silence with their friends, and the labouring men and their wives, and Sally Potter who went with the post-bag to Clavering, and the baker’s man from Clavering—all there assembled and drinking beer on the melancholy occasion —rose up on his entrance and bowed or curtseyed to him. They never used to do so last holidays, he felt at once and with indescribable pleasure. The cook cried out, “ O Lord,” and whispered, “How Master Arthur do grow!” Thomas, the groom, in the act of drinking, put down the jug alarmed before his master. Thomas’s master felt the honour keenly. He went through and looked at the pointers. As Flora put her nose up to his waistcoat, and Ponto, yelling with pleasure, hurtled at his chain, Pen patronised the dogs, and said, “Poo Ponto, poo Flora,” in his most condescending manner. And then he went and looked at Laura’s hens, and at the pigs, and at the orchard, and at the dairy; perhaps he blushed to think that it was only last holidays he had in a manner robbed the great apple-tree, and been scolded by the dairymaid for taking cream.
They buried John Pendennis, Esquire, “formerly an eminent medical practitioner at Bath, and subsequently an able magistrate, a benevolent landlord, and a benefactor to many charities and public institutions in this neighbourhood and country,” with one of the most handsome funerals that had been seen since Sir Roger Clavering was buried here, the clerk said, in the abbey church of Clavering St. Mary’s. A fair marble slab, from which the above inscription is copied, was erected over the Fairoaks’ pew in the church. On it you may see the Pendennis coat of arms and crest, an eagle looking towards the sun, with the motto “nec tenui Penna,” to the present day. Doctor Portman alluded to the deceased most handsomely and affectingly, as “our dear departed friend,” in his sermon next Sunday; and Arthur Pendennis reigned in his stead.
IN WHICH PENDENNIS APPEARS AS A VERY YOUNG MAN INDEED.
RTHUR was about sixteen years old, we have said, when he began to reign; in person, he had what his friends would call a dumpy, buthismamma styledaneat little figure. His hair was of a healthy brown colour, which looks like gold in the sunshine, his face was round, rosy, freckled, and good-humoured, his whiskers were decidedly of a reddish hue; in fact, without being a beauty, he had such a frank, good-natured kind face, and laughed so merrily at you out of his honest blue eyes, that no wonder Mrs. Pendennis thought him the pride of the whole country. Between the ages of sixteen and eighteen he rose from
five feet six to five feet eight inches in height, at which alti
tude he paused. But his mother wondered at it. He was three inches taller than his father. Was it possible that any man could grow to be three inches taller than Mr. Pendennis? You may be certain he never went back to school; the discipline of the establishment did not suit him, and he liked being at home much better. The question of his return was debated, and his uncle was for his going back. The Doctor wrote his opinion that it was most important for Arthur’s success in after-life that he should know a Greek play thoroughly, but Pen adroitly managed to hint to his mother what a dangerous place Grey Friars was, and what sad wild fellows some of the chaps there were, and the timid soul, taking alarm at once, acceded to his desire to stay at home.
Then Pen’s uncle offered to use his influence with His Royal Highness the Commander-in-Chief, who was pleased to be very kind to him, and proposed to get Pen a commission in the Foot Guards. Pen’s heart leaped at this: he had been to hear the band at St. J ames’s play on a Sunday, when he went out to his uncle. He had seen Tom Ricketts, of the fourth form, who used to wear a jacket and trousers so ludicrously tight, that the elder boys could not forbear using him in the quality of a butt or “ cockshy ”—he hadseen this very Ricketts arrayed in crimson and gold, with an immense bearskin cap on his head, staggering under the colours of the regiment. Tom had recognised him, and gave him a patronising nod. Tom, a little wretch whom he had cut over the back with a hockey-stick last quarter—and there he was in the centre of the square, rallying round the flag of his country, surrounded by bayonets, crossbelts, and scarlet, the band blowing trumpets and banging cymbals—talking familiarly to immense warriors with tufts to their chins and Waterloo medals. What would not Pen have given to enter such a service ?
But Helen Pendennis, when this point was proposed to her by her son, put on a face full of terror and alarm. She said “she did not quarrel with others who thought differently, but that in her opinion a Christian had no right to make the army a profession. Mr. Pendennis never, never would have permitted his son to be a soldier. Finally, she should be very unhappy if he thought of it.” Now Pen would have as soon cut off his nose and ears as deliberately, and of aforethought malice, made his mother unhappy; and, as he was of such a generous disposition that he would give away anything to any one, he instantly made a present of his visionary red coat and epaulettes to his mother.
She thought him the noblest creature in the world. But Major Pendennis, when the offer of the commission was acknowledged and refused, wrote back a curt and somewhat angry letter to the widow, and thought his nephew was rather a spooney. ,
He was contented, however, when he saw the boy’s performances out hunting at Christmas, when the Major came down as usual to Fairoaks. Pen had a very good mare, and rode her with uncommon pluck and grace. He took his fences with great coolness and judgment. He wrote to the chaps at school about his top-boots, and his feats across country. He began to think seriously of a scarlet coat: and his mother must own that she thought it would become him remarkably well; though, of course, she passed hours of anguish during his absence, and daily expected to see him brought home on a shutter.
With these amusements, in rather too great plenty, it must not be assumed that Pen neglected his studies altogether. He had a natural taste for reading every possible kind of book which did not fall into his school-course. It was only when they forced his head into the waters of knowledge that he refused to drink. He devoured all the books at home, from lnchbald’s Theatre to White’s Farriery; he ransacked the neighbouring bookcases. He found at Clavering an old cargo of French novels, which he read with all his might; and he would sit for hours perched up on the topmost bar of Doctor Portman’s library steps with a folio on his knees, whether it were Hakluyt’s Travels, Hobbes’s Leviathan, Augustini Opera, or Chaucer’s Poems. He and the Vicar were very good friends, and from his Beverence, Pen learned that honest taste for port wine which distinguished him through life. And as for Mrs. Portman, who was not in the least jealous, though her Doctor avowed himself in love with Mrs. Pendennis, whom he pronounced to be by far the finest lady in the country—all her grief was, as she looked up fondly at Pen perched on the bookladder, that her daughter, Minny, was too old for him—as