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MRS. HALLER AT HOME.
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/’ ITHOUT slackening his pace Pen galloped on 4 , - , k "\C
to Baymouth, put the mare up at the inn stables, and ran straightway to Mr. Foker’s lodgings, of whom he had taken the direction on the previous day. On reaching these apartments, which were over a chemist’s shop whose stock of cigars and sodawater went off rapidly by the kind patronage of his young inmates, Pen only found Mr. Spavin, Foker’s friend, and part owner of the tandem, which the latter had driven into Chatteris, who was smoking, and teaching a little dog, a friend of his, tricks with a bit of biscuit.
Pen’s healthy red face, fresh from the gallop, compared oddly with the waxy debauched little features of Foker’s chum; Mr. Spavin remarked the circumstance. “Who’s that man?" he thought; “he looks as fresh as a bean. His hand don’t shake of a morning, I’d bet five to one.”
Foker had not come home at all. Here was a disappointment !—Mr. Spavin could not say when his friend would return. Sometimes he stopped a day, sometimes a week. Of what college was Pen ? Would he have anything ? There was a very fair tap of ale. Mr. Spavin was enabled to know Pendennis’s name, on the card which the latter took out and laid down (perhaps Pen in these days was rather proud of having a card)—and so the young men took leave.
Then Pen went down the rock, and walked about on the sand, biting his nails by the shore of the much-sounding sea. It stretched before him bright and immeasurable. The blue waters came rolling into the bay, foaming and roaring hoarsely: Pen looked them in the face with blank eyes, hardly regarding them. What a tide there was pouring into the lad’s own mind at the time, and what a little power had he to check it! Pen flung stones into the sea, but it still kept coming on. He was in a rage at not seeing Foker. He wanted to see Foker. He must see Foker. “ Suppose I go on—on the Chatteris road, just to see if I can meet him,” Pen thought. Rebecca was saddled in another half-hour, and galloping on the grass by the Chatteris road. About four miles from Baymouth, the Clavering road branches ofi, as everybody knows, and the mare naturally was for taking that turn, but, cutting her over the shoulder, Pen passed the turning, and rode on to the turnpike without seeing any sign of the black tandem and red wheels.
As he was at the turnpike he might as well go on: that was quite clear. So Pen rode to the George, and the ostler told him that Mr. Foker was there sure enough, and that “he’d been a makin a tremendous row the night afore, a drinkin and a singin, and wanting to fight Tom the post-boy: which I’m thinking he’d have had the worst of it,” the man added with a grin. “ Have you carried up your master’s ’ot water to shave with?” he added, in a very satirical manner, to Mr. Foker’s domestic, who here came down the yard bearing his master’s clothes, most beautifully brushed and arranged. “ Show Mr. Pendennis up to ’un.” And Pen fol
lowed the man at last to the apartment, where, in the midst of an immense bed, Mr. Harry Foker lay reposing.
The feather bed and bolsters swelled up all round Mr. Foker, so that you could hardly see his little sallow face and red silk nightcap.
“Hullo ! ” said Pen.
“Who goes there? brother, quickly tell!” sang out the voice from the bed. “What! Pendennis again? Is your Mamma acquainted with your absence? Did you sup with us last night? No—stop—who supped with us last night, Stoopid ? ”
“ There was the three officers, sir, and Mr. Bingley, sir, and Mr. Costigan, sir,” the man answered, who received all Mr. Foker’s remarks with perfect gravity.
“Ah yes : the cup and merry jest went round. We chanted: and I remember I wanted to fight a post-boy. Did I thrash him, Stoopid ? ”
“No, sir. Fight didn’t come ofi, sir,” said Stoopid, still with perfect gravity. He was arranging Mr. Foker’s dressingcase—a trunk, the gift of a fond mother, without which the young fellow never travelled. It contained a prodigious apparatus in plate; a silver dish, a silver mug, silver boxes and bottles for all sorts of essences, and a choice of razors ready against the time when Mr. Foker’s beard should come. ,/
“ Do it some other day,” said the young fellow, yawning and throwing up his little lean arms over his head. “No, there was no fight; but there was chanting. Bingley chanted, I chanted, the General chanted—Costigan, I mean—Did you ever hear him sing ‘ The Little Pig under the Bed,’ Pen ? ”
“ The man we met yesterday ? ” said Pen, all in a tremor, “the father of—”
“ Of the Fotheringay,—the very man. Ain’t she a Venus, Pen ? ”
“Please, sir, Mr. Costigan’s in the sittin-room, sir, and says, sir, you asked him to breakfast, sir. Called five times, sir; but wouldn’t wake you on no account; and has been year since eleven o’clock, sir ”
“ How much is it now ? ”
“ One, sir.”
“What would the best of mothers say,” cried the little sluggard, “if she saw me in bed at this hour ? She sent me down here with a grinder. She wants me to cultivate my neglected genius—He, he! I say, Pen, this isn’t quite like seven o’clock school,—is it, old boy ? ”—and the young fellow burst out into a boyish laugh of enjoyment. Then he added —“ Go in and talk to the General whilst I dress. And I say, Pendennis, ask him to sing you ‘The Little Pig under the Bed;’ it’s capital.” Pen went off in great perturbation, to meet Mr. Costigan, and Mr. Foker commenced his toilet
Of Mr. Foker’s two grandfathers, the one from whom he inherited a fortune was a brewer; the other was an earl, who endowed him with the most doting mother in the world. The Fokers had been at the Cistercian school from father to son; at which place, our friend, whose name could be seen over the playground wall, on a public-house sign, under which “Foker’s Entire” was painted, had been dreadfully bullied on account of his trade, his uncomely countenance, his inaptitude for learning and cleanliness, his gluttony, and other weak points. But those who know how a susceptible youth, under the tyranny of his schoolfellows, becomes silent and a sneak, may understand how, in a very few months after his liberation from bondage, he developed himself as he had done; and became the humorous, the sarcastic, the brilliant Foker, with whom we have made acquaintance. A dunce he always was, it is true; for learning cannot be acquired by leaving school and entering at college as a fellow-commoner; but he was now (in his own peculiar manner) as great a dandy as he before had been a slattern, and when he entered his sittingroom to join his two guests, arrived scented and arrayed in fine linen, and perfectly splendid in appearance.
General or Captain Costigan—for the latter was the rank which he preferred to assume—was seated in the window with the newspaper held before him at arm’s length. The Captain’s eyes were somewhat dim; and he was spelling the paper, with the help of his lips, as well as of those bloodshot eyes of his, as you see gentlemen do to whom reading is a rare and difficult occupation. His hat was cocked very much on one ear; and as one of his feet lay up in the window-seat, the observer of such matters might remark, by the size and shabbiness of the boots which the Captain wore, that times did not go very well with him. Poverty seems as if it were disposed, before it takes possession of a man entirely, to attack his extremities first: the coverings of his head, feet, and hands, are its first prey. All these parts of the Captain’s person were particularly rakish and shabby. As soon as he saw Pen he descended from the window-seat and saluted the new comer, first in a military manner, by conveying a couple of his fingers (covered with a broken black glove) to his hat, and then removing that ornament altogether. The Captain was inclined to be bald, but he brought a quantity of lank iron-grey hair over his pate, and had a couple of wisps of the same falling down on each side of his face. Much whisky had spoiled what complexion Mr. Costigan may have possessed in his youth. His once handsome face had now a copper tinge. He wore a very high stock, scarred and stained in many places; and a dress-coat tightly buttoned up in those parts where the buttons had not parted company from the garment.
“ The young gentleman to whom I had the honour to be introjuiced yesterday in the Cathedral Yard,” said the Captain, with a splendid bow and wave of his hat. “ I hope I see you well, sir. I marked ye in the thayater last night during me daughter’s perfawrumance; and missed ye on my return. I did but conduct her home, sir, for Jack Costigan, though poor, is a gentleman; and when I reintered the house to pay me respects to me joyous young friend, Mr. Foker—ye were gone. We had a jolly night of ut, sir—Mr. Foker, the three gallant young dragoons, and your ’umble servant. Gad, sir, it put me in mind of one of our old nights when I bore Her Majesty’s commission in the Foighting Hundtherd and Third.” And he pulled out an old snuff-box, which he presented with a stately air to his new acquaintance.
Arthur was a great deal too much flurried to speak. This shabby-looking buck was—was her father. “I hope, Miss F——, Miss Costigan is well, sir,” Pen said, flushing up. “ She—she gave me greater pleasure, than—than I—I—I ever enjoyed at a play. I think, sir—I think she’s the finest actress in the world,” he gasped out.