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be in her company ? and the widow, after these conversations, thought Mr. Smirke a very pleasing and well-informed man. As for her son, she had not settled in her mind, whether he was to be Senior Wrangler and Archbishop of Canterbury, or Double First Class at Oxford and Lord Chancellor. That all England did not possess his peer, was a fact about which there was, in her mind, no manner of question.
l\ A simple person, of inexpensive habits, she began forthwith to save, and, perhaps, to be a little parsimonious, in favour of her boy. There were no entertainments, of course, at Fairoaks, during the year of her weeds. Nor, indeed, did the Doctor’s silver dish-covers, of which he was so proud, and which were flourished all over with the arms of the Pen‘dennises, and surmounted with their crest, come out of the plate-chest again for long, long years. The household was diminished, and its expenses curtailed. There was a very blank anchorite repast when Pen dined from home: and he himself headed the remonstrance from the kitchen regarding the deteriorated quality of the Fairoaks beer. She was becoming miserly for Pen. Indeed, who ever accused women of
, being just ? They are always sacrificing themselves or some— body for somebody else’s sake.
There happened to be no young woman in the small circle of friends who were in the widow’s intimacy whom Pendennis could by any possibility gratify by endowing her with the inestimable treasure of a heart which he was longing to give away. Some young fellows in this predicament bestow their young affections upon Dolly, the dairymaid, or cast the eyesof tenderness upon Molly, the blacksmith’s daughter. Pen thought a Pendennis much too grand a personage to stoop so low. He was too high-minded for a vulgar intrigue, and at the idea of a seduction, had he ever entertained it, his heart would have revolted as from the notion of any act of baseness or dishonour. Miss Mira Portman was too old, too large, and too fond of reading “Rollin’s Ancient History.” The Miss Boardbacks, Admiral Boardback’s daughters (of St. Vincent’s, or Fourth of June House, as it was called), disgusted Pen with the London airs which they brought into the country. Captain Glanders’s (H.P., 50th Dragoon Guards) three girls were in brown-holland pinafores as yet, with the ends of their hair-plaits tied up in dirty pink ribbon. Not having acquired the art of dancing, the youth avoided such chances as he might have had of meeting with the fair sex at the Chatteris Assemblies; in fine, he was not in love, because there was nobody at hand to fall in love with. And the young monkey used to ride out, day after day, in quest of Dulcinea; and peep into the pony-chaises and gentlefolks’ carriages, as they drove along the broad turnpike roads, with a heart beating within him, and a secret tremor and hope that she might be in that yellow post-chaise coming swinging up the hill, or one of those three girls in beaver bonnets in the back seat of the double gig, which the fat old gentleman in black was driving, at four miles an hour. The post-chaise contained a snuffy old dowager of seventy, with a maid, her contemporary. The three girls in the beaver bonnets were no handsomer than the turnips that skirted the roadside. Do as he might, and ride where he would, the fairy princess whom he was to rescue and win, had not yet appeared to honest Pen.
Upon these points he did not discourse to his mother. He had a world of his own. What ardent, imaginative soul has not a secret pleasure-place in which it disports ? Let no clumsy prying or dull meddling of ours try to disturb it in our children. Actaeon was a brute for wanting to push in where Diana was bathing. Leave him occasionally alone, my good madam, if you have a poet for a child. Even your admirable advice may be a bore sometimes. Yonder little child may have thoughts too deep even for your great mind, and fancies so coy and timid that they will not bare themselves when your ladyship sits by. _
Helen Pendennis by the force of sheer love divined a great\ number of her son’s secrets. But she kept these things in her heart (if we may so speak), and did not speak of them. Besides, she had made up her mind that he was to marry little Laura: she would be eighteen when Pen was six-andtwenty; and had finished his college career; and had made his grand tour ; and was settled either in London, astonishing all the metropolis by his learning and eloquence at the bar, or better still in a sweet country parsonage surrounded with
hollyhocks and roses, close to a delightful romantic ivycovered church, from the pulpit of which Pen would utter the kmost beautiful sermons ever preached.
While these natural sentiments were waging war and trouble in honest Pen’s bosom, it chanced one day that he rode into Chatteris for the purpose of carrying to the County Chronicle a tremendous and thrilling poem for the next week’s paper; and putting up his horse, according to custom, at the stables of the George Hotel there, he fell in with an old acquaintance. A grand black tandem, with scarlet wheels, came rattling into the inn yard, as Pen stood there in converse with the ostler about Rebecca ; and the voice of the driver called out, “Hallo, Pendennis, is that you ?” in a loud patronising manner. Pen had some difficulty in recognising, under the broad-brimmed hat and the vast greatcoats and neckcloths, with which the new comer was habited, the person and figure of his quondam schoolfellow, Mr. Foker.
A year’s absence had made no small difference in that gentleman. A youth who had been deservedly whipped a few months previously, and who spent his pocket-money on tarts and hardbake, now appeared before Pen in one of those costumes to which the public consent, which I take to be quite as influential in this respect as “ Johnson’s Dictionary,” has awarded the title of “Swell.” He had a bulldog between his legs, and in his scarlet shawl neckcloth was a pin representing another bulldog in gold: he wore a fur waistcoat laced over with gold chains; a green cut-away coat with basket buttons, and a white upper-coat ornamented with cheese-plate buttons, on each of which was engraved some stirring incident of the road or the chase; all of which ornaments set ofi this young fellow’s figure to such advantage, that you would hesitate to say which character in life he most resembled, and whether he was a boxer en goguette, or a coachman in his gala suit.
“Left that place for good, Pendennis?” Mr. Foker said, descending from his landau and giving Pendennis a finger.
“Yes, this year or more,” Pen said.
“ Beastly old hole,” Mr. Foker remarked. “ Hate it.
Hate the Doctor: hate Towzer, the second master: hate everybody there. Not a fit place for a gentleman.”
“Not at all,” said Pen, with an air of the utmost consequence.
“By gad, sir, I sometimes dream, now, that the Doctor’s walking into me,” Foker continued (and Pen smiled as he thought that he himself had likewise fearful dreams of this nature). “When I think of the diet there, ‘by gad, sir, I wonder how I stood it. Mangy mutton, brutal beef, pudding on Thursdays and Sundays, and that fit to poison you. Just look at my leader—did you ever see a prettier animal? Drove over from Baymouth. Came the nine mile in two-and-forty minutes. Not bad going, sir.”
“Are you stopping at Baymouth, Foker?” Pendennis asked.
“ I’m coaching there,” said the other with a nod.
“ What? ” asked Pen, and in a tone of such wonder, that Foker burst out laughing, and said, “He was blowed if he didn’t think Pen was such a flat as not to know what coaching meant.”
“I’m come down with a coach from Oxbridge. A tutor, don’t you see, old boy? He’s coaching me, and some other men, for the little-go. ‘Me and Spavin have the drag between us. And I thought I’d just tool over, and go to the play. Did you ever see Rowkins do the hornpipe ? ” and Mr. Foker began to perform some steps of that popular dance in the inn yard, looking round for the sympathy of his groom and the stablemen.
Pen thought he would like to go to the play too: and could ride home afterwards, as there was a moonlight. So he accepted Foker’s invitation to dinner, and the young men entered the inn together, where Mr. Foker stopped at the bar, and called upon Miss Rummer, the landlady’s fair daughter, who presided there, to give him a glass of “ his mixture.”
Pen and his family had been known at the George ever since they came into the county ; and Mr. Pendennis’s carriage and horses always put up there when he paid a visit to the county town. The landlady dropped the heir of Fairoaks a very respectful curtsey, and complimented him upon his growth and manly appearance, and asked news of the family at Fairoaks, and of Dr. Portman and the Clavering people, to all of which questions the young gentleman answered with much afl‘ability. But he spoke to Mr. and Mrs. Rummer with that sort of good nature with which a young Prince addresses his father’s subjects; never dreaming that those bonnes gens were his equals in life.
Mr. Foker’s behaviour was quite different. He inquired for Rummer and the cold in his nose, told Mrs. Rummer a riddle, asked Miss Rummer when she would be ready to marry him, and paid his compliments to Miss Brett, the other young lady in the bar, all in a minute of time, and with a liveliness and facetiousness which set all these ladies in a giggle ; and he gave a cluck, expressive of great satisfaction, as he tossed off his mixture, which Miss Rummer prepared and handed to him.
“ Have a drop,” said he to Pen. “ Give the young one a glass, R., and score it up to yours truly.”
Poor Pen took a glass, and everybody laughed at the face which he made as he put it down—Gin, bitters, and some other cordial, was the compound with which Mr. Foker was so delighted as to call it by the name of Foker’s own. As Pen choked, sputtered, and made faces, the other took occasion to remark to Mr. Rummer that the young fellow was green, very green, but that he would soon form him; and then they proceeded to order dinner—which Mr. Foker determined should consist of turtle and venison; cautioning the landlady to be very particular about icing the wine.
Then Messrs. Foker and Pen strolled down the High Street together—the former having a cigar in his mouth, which he had drawn out of a case almost as big as a portmanteau. He went in to replenish it at Mr. Lewis’s, and talked to that gentleman for a while, sitting down on the counter: he then looked in at the fruiterer’s, to see the pretty girl there: then they passed the County Chronicle office, for which Pen had his packet ready, in the shape of “ Lines to Thyrza,” but poor Pen did not like to put the letter into the editor’s box while walking in company with such a fine gentleman as Mr. Foker. They met heavy dragoons of the regiment always quartered at Chatteris; and stopped and talked about the Baymouth balls,