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Pen gave his news, and then introduced Mr. Warrington —an old Boniface man—whose chambers he shared.
The Major was quite satisfied when he heard that Mr. Warrington was a younger son of Sir Miles Warrington of Suffolk. He had served with an uncle of his in India and in New South Wales, years ago.
“Took a sheep-farm there, sir, made a fortune—better thing than law or soldiering,” Warrington said. “Think I shall go there, too.” And here, the expected beer coming in, in a tankard with a glass bottom, Mr. Warrington, with a laugh, said he supposed the Major would not have any, and took a long, deep draught himself, after which he wiped his wrist across his beard with great satisfaction. The young man was perfectly easy and unembarrassed. He was dressed in a ragged old shooting-jacket, and had a bristly blue beard. He was drinking beer like a coalheaver, and yet you couldn’t but perceive that he was a gentleman.
When he had sate for a minute ;or two after his draught he went out of the room, leaving it to Pen and his uncle, that they might talk over family affairs were they so inclined.
“Rough and ready, your chum seems,” the Major said. “ Somewhat different from your dandy friends at Oxbridge.”
“ Times are altered,” Arthur replied, with a blush. “Warrington is only just called, and has no business, but he knows law pretty well; and until I can afford to read with a pleader, I use his books and get his help.”
“ Is that one of the books ? ” the Major asked, with a smile. A French novel was lying at the foot of Pen’s chair.
“ This is not a working day, sir,” the lad said. “ We were out very late at a party last night—at Lady Whiston’s,” Pen added, knowing his uncle’s weakness. “Everybody in town was there except you, sir; Counts, Ambassadors, Turks, Stars and Garters—I don’t know who—it’s all in the paper—and my name, too,” said Pen, with great glee. “I met an old flame of mine there, sir,” he added, with a laugh. “You know whom I mean, sin—Lady Mirabel—to whom I was introduced over again. She shook hands, and was gracious enough. I may thank you for being out of that scrape, sir. She presented me to the husband, too—an old beau in a star
voL. I. B B 3
and a blonde wig. He does not seem very wise. She has asked me to call on her, sir: and I may go now without any fear of losing my heart.”
“What, we have had some new loves, have we?” the Major asked, in high good-humour.
“Some two or three,” Mr. Pen said, laughing. “But I don’t put on my grand sérieur any more, sir. That goes off after the first flame.”
“Very right, my dear boy. Flames and darts and passion, and that sort of thing, do very well for a lad: and you were but a lad when that affair with the Fotheringill—Fotheringay—(what’s her name?) came off. But a man of the world gives up those follies. You still may do very well. You have been hit, but you may recover. You are heir to a little independence, which everybody fancies is a doosid deal more. You have a good name, good wits, good manners, and a good person—and, begad! I don’t see why you shouldn’t marry a woman with money—get into Parliament—distinguish yourself, and—and, in fact, that sort of thing. Remember, it’s as easy to marry a rich woman as a poor woman: and a devilish deal pleasanter to sit down to a good dinner than to a scrag of mutton in lodgings. Make up your mind to that. A woman with a good jointure is a doosid deal easier a profession than the law, let me tell you. Look out; I shall be on the watch for you: and I shall die content, my boy, if I can see you with a good ladylike wife, and a good carriage, and a good pair of horses, living in society, and seeing your friends, like a gentleman.” It was thus this afiectionate uncle spoke, and expounded to Pen his simple philosophy.
“ What would my mother and Laura say to this, I wonder ? ” thought the lad. Indeed, old Pendennis’s morals were not their
‘ morals, nor was his wisdom theirs.
This affecting conversation between uncle and nephew had scarcely concluded, when Warrington came out of his bedroom, no longer in rags, but dressed like a gentleman, straight and tall, ,and perfectly frank and good-humoured. He did the honours of his ragged sitting-room with as much ease as if it had been the finest apartment in London. And queer rooms they were in which the Major found his nephew. The carpet was full of holes—the table stained with many circles of Warrington’s previous ale-pots. There was a small library of lawbooks, books of poetry, and of mathematics, of which he was very fond. (He had been one of the hardest livers and hardest readers of his time at Oxbridge, where the name of Stunning Warrington was yet famous for beating bargemen, pulling matches, winning prizes, and drinking milk-punch.) A print of the old college hung up over the mantelpiece, and some battered volumes of Plato, bearing its well-known arms, were on the book-shelves. There were two easy-chairs; a standing reading-desk piled with bills; a couple of very meagre briefs on a broken-legged study-table. Indeed, there was‘ scarcely any article of furniture that had not been in the wars, and was not wounded. “ Look here, sir, here is Pen’s room. He is a dandy, and has got curtains to his bed, and wears shiny boots, and has a silver dressing-case.” Indeed, Pen’s room was rather coquettishly arranged, and a couple of neat prints of opera-dancers, besides a drawing of Fairoaks, hung on the walls. In Warrington’s room there was scarcely any article of furniture, save a great shower-bath, and a heap of books by the bedside ; where he lay upon straw like Margery Daw,
and smoked his pipe, and read half through the night his ,,
favourite poetry or mathematics.
When he had completed his simple toilette, Mr. Warrington came out of this room, and proceeded to the cupboard to search for his breakfast.
“Might I offer you a mutton-chop, sir? We cook ’em ourselves, hot and hot; and I am teaching Pen the first principles of law, cooking, and morality at the same time. He’s a lazy beggar, sir, and too much of a dandy.”
And so saying, Mr. Warrington wiped a gridiron with a piece of paper, put it on the fire, and on it two mutton chops, and took from the cupboard a couple of plates, and some knives and silver forks, and castors.
“ Say but a word, Major Pendennis,” he said; “there’s another chop in the cupboard, or Pidgeon shall go out and get you anything you like.”
Major Pendennis sate in wonder and amusement, but he said he had just breakfasted, and wouldn’t have any lunch.
So Warrington cooked the chops, and popped them hissing hot upon the plates.
Pen fell to at his chop with a good appetite, after looking up at his uncle, and seeing that gentleman was still in goodhumour.
“You see, sir,” Warrington said, “Mrs. Flanagan isn’t here to do ’em, and we can’t employ the boy, for the little beggar is all day occupied cleaning Pen’s boots. And now for another swig at the beer. Pen drinks tea; it’s only fit for old women.”
“ And so you were at Lady Whiston’s last night,” the Major said, not in truth knowing What observation to make to this rough diamond.
“ I at Lady Whiston’s! Not such a flat, sir. I don’t care for female society. In fact it bores me. I spent my evening philosophically at the Back Kitchen.”
“ The Back Kitchen ? indeed! ” said the Major.
“ I see you don’t know what it means,” Warrington said. “Ask Pen. He was there after Lady Whiston’s. Tell Major Pendennis about the Back Kitchen, Pen—don’t be ashamed of yourself.”
So Pen said it was a little eccentric society of men of letters and men about town, to which he had been presented; and the Major began to think that the young fellow had seen a good deal of the world since his arrival in London.