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frequently, a well-known voice to Pen, which made the lad blush and start when he heard it first—that of the venerable Captain Costigan ; who was now established in London, and one of the great pillars of the harmonic meetings at the Fielding’s Head.
The Captain’s manners and conversation brought very many young men to the place. He was a character, and his fame had begun to spread soon after his arrival in the metropolis, and especially after his daughter’s marriage. He was great in his conversation to the friend for the time being (who was the neighbour drinking by his side), about “me daughter.” He told of her marriage, and of the events previous and subsequent to that ceremony; of the carriages she kept; of Mirabel’s adoration for her and for him; of the hunther pounds which he was at perfect liberty to draw from his sonin-law, whenever necessity urged him. And having stated that it was his firm intention to “dthraw next Sathurday, I give ye me secred word and honour next Sathurday, the fourteenth, when ye’ll see the money will be handed over to me at Coutts’s, the very instant I present the cheque,” the Captain would not unfrequently propose to borrow half-acrown of his friend until the arrival of that day of Greek Kalends, when, on the honour of an officer and a gentleman, he would repee the thrifling obligetion.
Sir Charles Mirabel had not that enthusiastic attachment to his father-in-law of which the latter sometimes boasted (although in other stages of emotion Cos would inveigh, with tears in his eyes, against the ingratitude of the child of his bosom, and the stinginess of the wealthy old man who had married her); but the pair had acted not unkindly towards Costigan; had settled a small pension on him, which was paid regularly, and forestalled with even more regularity by poor Cos; and the period of the payments was always well known by his friends at the Fielding’s Head, whither the honest Captain took care to repair, bank-notes in hand, calling loudly for change in the midst of the full harmonic meeting. “I think ye’ll find that note won’t be refused at the Bank of England, Cutts, my boy,” Captain Costigan would say. “Bows, have a glass? Ye needn’t stint yourself t0-night,. anyhow; and a glass of punch will make ye play can spirito.” For he was lavishly free with his money when it came to him, and was scarcely known to button his breeches pocket, except when the coin was gone, or sometimes, indeed, when a creditor came by.
It was in one of these moments of exultation that Pen found his old friend swaggering at the singers’ table at the Back Kitchen of the Fielding’s‘Head, and ordering glasses of brandy-and-water for any of his acquaintances who made their appearance in the apartment. Warrington, who was on confidential terms with the bass singer, made his way up to this quarter of the room, and Pen walked at his friend’s heels.
Pen started and blushed to see Costigan. He had just come from Lady Whiston’s party, where he had met and spoken with the Captain’s daughter again for the first time after very old old days. He came up with outstretched hand, very kindly and warmly to greet the old man; still retaining a strong remembrance of the time when Costigan’s daughter had been everything in the world to him. For though this young gentleman may have been somewhat capricious in his attachments, and occasionally have transferred his affections from one woman to another, yet ‘he always respected the place where Love had dwelt, and, like the Sultan of Turkey, desired that honours should be paid to the lady towards whom he had once thrown the royal pocket-handkerchief.
The tipsy Captain returned the clasp of Pen’s hand with all the strength of a palm which had become very shaky by the constant lifting up of weights of brandy-and-water, looked hard in Pen’s face, and said, “ Grecious heavens, is it possible? Me dear boy, me dear fellow, me dear friend; ” and then with a look of muddled curiosity, fairly broke down with, “ I know your face, me dear dear friend, but, bedad, I’ve forgot your name.” Five years of constant punch had passed since Pen and Costigan met. Arthur was a good deal changed, and the Captain may surely be excused for forgetting him; when a man at the actual moment sees things double, we may expect that his view of the past will be rather muzzy.
Pen saw his condition and laughed, although, perhaps,
he was somewhat mortified.
The sound of the young man’s friendly voice recalled and steadied Cos’s tipsy remembrance, and he saluted Arthur, as soon as he knew him, with a loud volley of friendly greetings. Pen was his dearest boy, his gallant young friend, his noble collagian, whom he had held in his inmost heart ever since
“ Don’t you remember me, “ I am Pendennis—Arthur Pendennis,
. they had parted—how was his fawther, no, his mother, and
his guardian, the General, the Major. “I preshoom, from your appearance, that you’ve come into your prawpertee; and, bedad, yee’ll spend it like a man of spirit—I’ll go bail for that. No! not yet come into your estete ? If ye want any thrifle, heark ye, there’s poor old Jack Costigan has got a guinea or two in his pocket—and, be heavens! you shall never want, Awthur, me dear boy. What’ll ye have ? John, come hither, and look aloive; give this gentleman a glass of punch, and I’ll pay fort—Your friend? I’ve seen him before. Permit me to have the honour of making meself known to ye, sir, and requesting ye’ll take a glass of punch.”
“I don’t envy Sir Charles Mirabel his father-in-law,” thought Pendennis. “ And how is my old friend Mr. Bows, Captain ? Have you any news of him, and do you see him still ? ”
“ No doubt he’s very well,” said the Captain, jingling his money, and whistling the air of a song—“ The Little Doodeen ” —for the singing of which he was celebrated at the Fielding’s Head. “Me dear boy—I’ve forgot your name again—but me name’s Costigan, Jack Costigan, and I’d loike ye to take as many tumblers of punch in me name as ever ye loike. Ye know me name; I’m not ashamed of it.” And so the Captain went maundering on.
“It’s pay-day with the General,” said Mr. Hodgen, the bass singer, with whom Warrington was in deep conversation: “ and he’s a precious deal more than half-seas over. He has already tried that ‘ Little Doodeen’ of his, and broke it, too, just before I sang ‘ King Death.’ Have you heard my new song, ‘The Body Snatcher,’ Mr. Warrington ?—angcored at St. Bartholomew’s the other night—composed expressly for me. Per’aps you or your friend would like a copy of the song, sir ? John, just ’ave the kindness to ’and over a ‘Body Snatcher ’ ’ere, will yer ?—There’s a portrait of me, sir, as I sing it—as the Snatcher—considered rather like.”
“ Thank you,” said Warrington ; “ heard it nine times— know it by heart, Hodgen.”
Here the gentleman who presided at the pianoforte began to play upon his instrument, and Pen, looking in the direction of the music, beheld that very Mr. Bows, for whom he had been asking but now, and whose existence Costigan had momentarily forgotten. The little old man sate before the battered piano (which had injured its constitution wofully by sitting up so many nights, and spoke with a voice, as it were, at once hoarse and faint), and accompanied the singers, or played with taste and grace in the intervals of the songs.
Bows had seen and recollected Pen at once when the latter came into the room, and had remarked the eager warmth of the young man’s recognition of Costigan. He now began to play an air, which Pen instantly remembered as one which used to be sung by the chorus of villagers in “The Stranger,” just before Mrs. Haller came in. It shook Pen as he heard it. He remembered how his heart used to beat as that air was played, and before the divine Emily made her entry. Nobody, save Arthur, took any notice of old Bows’s playing: it was scarcely heard amidst the clatter of knives and forks, the calls
I for poached eggs and kidneys, and the tramp of guests and
Pen went up and kindly shook the player by the hand at the end of his performance; and Bows greeted Arthur with great respect and cordiality. “ What, you haven’t forgot the old tune, Mr. Pendennis ? ” he said; “I thought you’d remember it. I take it, it was the first tune of that sort you ever heard played—wasn’t it, sir ? You were quite a young chap then. I fear the Captain’s very bad to-night. He breaks out on a pay-day; and I shall have the deuce’s own trouble in getting him home. We live together. We still hang on, sir, in partnership, though Miss Em—though my Lady Mirabel has left the firm—And so you remember old times, do you ? Wasn’t she a beauty, sir ?—Your health and my service to you,”—and he took a sip at the pewter measure of porter which stood by his side as he played.
Pen had many opportunities of seeing his early acquaintances afterwards, and of renewing his relations with Costigan and the old musician.
As they sate thus in friendly colloquy, men of all sorts and conditions entered and quitted the house of entertainment; and Pen had the pleasure of seeing as many different persons of his race, as the most eager observer need desire to inspect. Healthy country tradesmen and farmers, in London for their business, came and recreated themselves with the jolly singing and suppers of the Back Kitcheng—squads of young apprentices and assistants, the shutters being closed over the scene of their labours, came hither, for fresh air doubtless;-—rakish young medical students, gallant, dashing, what is called “loudly” dressed, and (must it be owned?) somewhat dirty,—were here smoking and drinking, and vociferously applauding the songs ;—young university bucks were to be found here, too, with that indescribable genteel simper which is only learned at the knees of Alma Mater ;—and handsome young guardsmen, and florid bucks from the St. James’s Street Clubs;—nay, senators English and Irish—and even members of the House of Peers.
The bass singer had made an immense hit with his song of “ The Body Snatcher,” and the town rushed to listen to it. A curtain drew aside, and Mr. Hodgen appeared in the character of the Snatcher, sitting on a coffin, with a flask of gin before him, with a spade, and a candle stuck in a skull. The song was sung with a really admirable terrific humour. The singer’s voice went down so low, that its grumbles rumbled into the hearer’s awe-stricken soul; and in the chorus he clamped with his spade, and gave a demoniac “ Ha! ha!” which caused the very glasses to‘quiver on the table, as with terror. None of the other singers, not even Cutts himself, as that high-minded man owned, could stand up before the Snatcher, and he commonly used to retire to Mrs. Cutts’s private apartments, or into the bar, before that fatal song extinguished him. Poor Cos’s ditty, “ The Little Doodeen,” which