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at Baymouth, a very learned man; and as he was himself to go to College, and as there were several young men pursuing their studies at Baymouth— he was anxious to ride over—and —and just see what the course of their reading was.
Laura made a long face. Helen Pendennis looked hard at her son, troubled more than ever with the vague doubt and terror which had been haunting her ever since the last night, when Farmer Gurnett brought back the news that Pen would not return home to dinner. Arthur’s eyes defied her. She tried to console herself, and drive off her fears. The boy had never told her an untruth. Pen conducted himself during breakfast in a very haughty and supercilious manner; and, taking leave of the elder and younger lady, was presently heard riding out of the stable-court. He went gently at first, but galloped like a madman as soon as he thought that he was out of hearing.
Smirke, thinking of his own affairs, and softly riding with his toes out, to give Pen his three hours’ reading at Fairoaks, met his pupil, who shot by him like the wind. Smirke’s pony shied, as the other thundered past him ; the gentle curate went over his head among the stinging-nettles in the hedge. Pen laughed as they met, pointed towards the Baymouth road, and was gone half-a-mile in that direction before poor Smirke had picked himself up.
Pen had resolved in his mind that he must see Foker that morning; he must hear about her ; know about her ; be with somebody who knew her; and honest Smirke, for his part, sitting up among the stinging-nettles, as his pony cropped quietly in the hedge, thought dismally to himself, ought he to go to Fairoaks now that his pupil was evidently gone away for the day? Yes, he thought he might go, too. He might go and ask Mrs. Pendennis when Arthur would be back; and hear Miss Laura her Watts’s Catechism. He got up on the little pony—both were used to his slipping off—and advanced upon the house from which his scholar had just rushed away in a whirlwind.
Thus love makes fools of all of us, big and little; and the curate had tumbled over head and heels in pursuit of it, and Pen had started in the first heat of the mad race.