« ZurückWeiter »
bewildered by the piece, and the Ghost, and the play within the play (during which, as Hamlet lay at Ophelia’s knee, Pen felt that he would have liked to strangle Mr. Hornbull), but cried out great praises of that beautiful young creature. Pen was charmed with the effect which she produced on his mother—and the clergyman, for his part, was exceedingly enthusiastic.
When the curtain fell upon that group of slaughtered personages, who are dispatched so suddenly at the end of “Hamlet,” and whose demise astonished poor little Laura not a little, there was an immense shouting and applause from all quarters of the house, the intrepid Smirke, violently excited, clapped his hands, and cried out “Bravo, Bravo!” as loud as the dragoon officers themselves. These were greatly moved, —ils s’agitaient sur leurs bancs,—to borrow a phrase from our neighbours. They were led cheering into action by the portly Swallowtail, who waved his cap—the non-commissioned officers in the pit, of course, gallantly following their chiefs. There was a roar of bravos rang through the house; Pen bellowing with the loudest, “ Fotheringay! Fotheringay ! ” Messrs. Spavin and Foker giving the view halloo from their box. Even Mrs. Pendennis began to wave about her pockethandkerchief, and little Laura danced, laughed, clapped, and looked up at Pen with wonder.
Hornbull led the bénéficiai/rc forward, amidst bursts of enthusiasm—and she looked so handsome and radiant, with her hair still over her shoulders, that Pen hardly could contain himself for rapture: and he leaned over his mother’s chair, and shouted, and hurrayed, and waved his hat. It was all he could do to keep his secret from Helen and not say, “Look! That’s the woman! Isn’t she peerless? I tell you I love her.” But he disguised these feelings under an enormous bellowing and hurraying.
As for Miss Fotheringay and her behaviour, the reader is referred to a former page for an account of that. She went through precisely the same business. She surveyed the house all round with glances of gratitude ; and trembled, and almost sank with emotion, over her favourite trap-door. She seized the flowers (Foker discharged a prodigious bouquet at her, and even Smirke made a feeble shy with a rose, and blushed dreadfully when it fell into the pit) —she seized the flowers and pressed them to her swelling heart—&c. &c.—in a word —we refer the reader to page 49. Twinkling in her breast poor old Pen saw a locket which he had bought of Mr. Nathan in High Street with the last shilling he was worth, and a sovereign borrowed from Smirke.
“Black-Eyed Susan” followed, at which sweet story our gentle-hearted friends were exceedingly charmed and affected: and in which Susan, with a russet gown and a pink ribbon in her cap, looked to the full as lovely as Ophelia. Bingley was great in William. Goll, as the Admiral, looked like the figurehead of a seventy-four; and Garbetts, as Captain Boldweather, a miscreant who forms a plan for carrying off Black-Eyed Susan, and waving an immense cocked hat, says, “ Come what may, he will be the ruin of her”—all these performed their parts with their accustomed talent; and it was with a sincere regret that all our friends saw the curtain drop down and end that pretty and tender story.
If Pen had been alone with his mother in the carriage as they went home, he would have told her all that night; but he sate on the box in the moonshine smoking a cigar by the side of Smirke, who warmed himself with a comforter. Mr. Foker’s tandem and lamps whirled by the sober old Clavering posters, as they were a couple of miles on their road home, and Mr. Spavin saluted Mrs. Pendennis’s carriage with some considerable variations of Rule Britannia on the key-bugle.
It happened two days after the above gaieties that the Dean of Chatteris entertained a few select clerical friends at dinner at his Deanery House. That they drank uncommonly good port wine, and abused the Bishop over their dessert, are very likely matters: but with such we have nothing at present to do. Our friend Dr. Portman, of Clavering, was one of the Dean’s guests, and being a gallant man, and seeing, from his place at the mahogany, the Dean’s lady walking up and down the grass, with her children sporting around her, and her pink parasol over her lovely head—the Doctor stepped out of the French windows of the dining-room into the lawn, which skirts that apartment, and left the other white neckcloths to gird at
my Lord Bishop. Then the Doctor went up and offered Mrs. Dean his arm, and they sauntered over the ancient velvet lawn, which had been mowed and rolled for immemorial Deans, in that easy, quiet, comfortable manner, in which people of middle age and good temper walk after a good dinner, in a calm golden summer evening, when the sun has but just sunk behind the enormous cathedral towers, and the sickle-shaped moon is growing every instant brighter in the heavens
Now at the end of the Dean’s garden, there is, as we have stated, Mrs. Creed’s house, and the windows of the first-floor room were open to admit the pleasant summer air. A young lady of six-and-twenty, whose eyes were perfectly wide open, and a luckless boy of eighteen, blind with love and infatuation, were in that chamber together; in which persons, as we have before seen them in the same place, the reader will have no difficulty in recognising Mr. Arthur Pendennis and Miss Costigan.
The poor boy had taken the plunge. Trembling with passionate emotion, his heart beating and throbbing fiercely, tears rushing forth in spite of him, his voice almost choking with feeling, poor Pen had said those words which he could withhold no more, and flung himself and his whole store of love, and admiration, and ardour, at the feet of this mature beauty. Is he the first who has done so ? Have none before or after him staked all their treasure of life, as a savage does his land and possessions against a draught of the fair-skins’ fire-water, or a couple of bauble eyes ?
“ Does your mother know of this, Arthur? ” said Miss Fotheringay, slowly. He seized her hand madly and kissed it a thousand times. She did not withdraw it. “Does the old lady know it ? ” Miss Costigan thought to herself; “ well, perhaps she may,” and then she remembered what a handsome diamond cross Mrs. Pendennis had on the night of the play, and thought, “ sure ’twill go in the family.”
“Calm yourself, dear Arthur,” she said, in her low rich voice, and smiled sweetly and gravely upon him. Then with her disengaged hand, she put the hair lightly off his throbbing forehead. He was in such a rapture and whirl of happiness that he could hardly speak. At last he gasped out, “ My