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daughter, Miss Mac Toddy. I implored, I entreated gentle measures. But Lord Ferrybridge was furious, and tried the high hand. Gretna was sulky and silent, and his parents thought they had conquered. But what was the fact, my dear creature? The young people had been married for three months before Lord Ferrybridge knew anything about it. And that was why I extracted the promise from Master Pen."
"Arthur would never have done so," Mrs. Pendennis said.
"He has n't, — that is one comfort," answered the brother-in-law.
Like a wary and patient man of the world, Major Pendennis did not press poor Pen any farther for the moment, but hoped the best from time, and that the young fellow's eyes would be opened before long to see the absurdity of which he was guilty. And having found out how keen the boy's point of honor was, he worked kindly upon that kindly feeling with great skill, discoursing him over their wine after dinner, and pointing out to Pen the necessity of a perfect uprightness and openness in all his dealings, and entreating that his communications with his interesting young friend (as the Major politely called Miss Fotheringay) should be carried on with the knowledge, if not approbation, of Mrs. Pendennis. "After all, Pen," the Major said, with a convenient frankness that did not displease the boy, whilst it advanced the interests of the negotiator, "you must bear in mind that you are throwing yourself away. Your mother may submit to your marriage as she wouW to anything else you desired, if you did but cry long enough for it: but be sure of this, that it can never please her. You take a young woman off the boards of a country theatre and prefer her, for such is the case, to one of the finest ladies in England. And your mother will submit to your choice, but you can't suppose that she will be happy under it . I have often fancied, entre nous, that my sister had it in her eye to make a marriage between you and that little ward of hers — Flora, Laura — what's her name? And I always determined to do my small endeavor to prevent any such match. The child has but two thousand pounds, I am given to understand. It is only with the utmost economy and care that my sister can provide for the decent maintenance of her house, and for your appearance and education as a gentleman; and I don't care to own to you that I had other and much higher views for you. With your name and birth, sir — with your talents, which I suppose are respectable, with the friends whom I have the honor to possess, I could have placed you in an excellent position — a remarkable position for a young man of such exceeding small means, and had hoped to see you, at least, try to restore the honors of our name. Your mother's softness stopped one prospect, or you might have been a general, like our gallant ancestor who fought at Ramillies and Malplaquet. I had another plan in view: my excellent and kind friend, Lord Bagwig, who is very well disposed towards me, would, I have little doubt, have attached you to his mission at Pumpernickel, and you might have advanced in the diplomatic service. But, pardon me for recurring to the subject; how is a man to serve a young gentleman of eighteen, who proposes to marry a lady of thirty, whom he has selected from a booth in a fair ? — well, not a fair, — barn. That profession at once is closed to you. The public service is closed to you. Society is closed to you. You see, my good friend, to what you bring yourself. You may get on at the bar to be sure, where I am given to understand that gentlemen of merit occasionally marry out of their kitchens; but in no other profession. Or you may come and live down here — down here, mon J>ieu! forever" (said the Major, with a dreary shrug, as he thought with inexpressible fondness of Pall Mall), "where your mother will receive the Mrs. Arthur that is to be, with perfect kindness; where the good people of the county won't visit you; and where, by Gad, sir, I shall be shy of visiting you myself, for I'm a plain spoken man, and I own to you that I like to live with gentlemen for my companions; where you will have to live, with rum-and-water drinking gentlemenfarmers, and drag through your life the young husband of an old woman, who, if she does n't quarrel with your mother, will at least cost that lady her position in society, and drag her down into that dubious caste into which you must inevitably fall. It is no affair of mine, my good sir. I am not angry. Your downfall will not hurt me farther than that it will extinguish the hopes I had of seeing my family once more taking its place in the world. It is only your mother and yourself that will be ruined. And I pity you both from my soul. Pass the claret: it is some I sent to your poor father; I remember I bought it at poor Lord Levant's sale. But of course," added the Major, smacking the wine, "having engaged yourself, you will do what becomes you as a man of honor, however fatal your promise may be. However, promise us on our side, my boy, what I set out by entreating you to grant, — that there shall be nothing clandestine, that you will pursue your studies, that you will only visit your interesting friend at proper intervals. Do you write to her much?"
Pen blushed and said, "Why, yes, he had written."
"I suppose verses, eh! as well as prose? I was a dab at verses myself. I recollect when I first joined, I used to write verses for the fellows in the regiment; and did some pretty things in that way. I was talking to my old friend General Hobbler about some lines I dashed off for him in the year 1806, when we were at the Cape, and, Gad, he remembered every line of them still; for he'd used 'em so often, the old rogue, and had actually tried 'em on Mrs. Hobbler, sir — who brought him sixty thousand pounds. I suppose you've tried verses, eh, Pen?"
Pen blushed again, and said, "Why, yes, he had written verses."
"And does the fair one respond in poetry or prose?" asked the Major, eying his nephew with the queerest expression, as much as to say, "0 Moses and Green Spectacles! what a fool the boy is."
Pen blushed again. She had written, but not in verse, the young lover owned, and he gave his breastpocket the benefit of a squeeze with his left arm, which the Major remarked, according to his wont.
"You have got the letters there, I see," said the old campaigner, nodding at Pen and pointing to his own chest (which was manfully wadded with cotton by Mr. Stultz). "You know you have. I would give twopence to see 'em."
"Why," said Pen, twiddling the stalks of the strawberries, "I — I," but this sentence was never finished; for Pen's face was so comical and embarrassed, as the Major watched it, that the elder could contain his gravity no longer, and burst into a fit of laughter, in which chorus Pen himself was obliged to join after a minute: when he broke out fairly into a guffaw.
It sent them with great good-humor into Mrs. Pendennis's drawing-room. She was pleased to hear them laughing in the hall as they crossed it.
"You sly lascal!" said the Major, putting his arm gayly on Pen's shoulder, and giving a playful push at the boy's breast-pocket. He felt the papers crackling there sure enough. The young fellow was delighted — conceited — triumphant — and in one word, a spooney.
The pair came to the tea-table in the highest spirits. The Major's politeness was beyond expression. He had never tasted such good tea, and such bread was only to be had in the country. He asked Mrs. Pendennis for one of her charming songs. He then made Pen sing, and was delighted and astonished at the beauty of the boy's voice: he made his nephew fetch his maps and drawings, and praised them as really remarkable works of talent in a young fellow: he complimented him on his French pronunciation: he flattered the simple boy as adroitly as ever lover flattered a mistress: and when bedtime came, mother and son went to their several rooms perfectly enchanted with the kind Major.
When they had reached those apartments, I suppose Helen took to her knees as usual: and Pen read over his letters before going to bed: just as if he did n't know every word of them by heart already. In truth there were but three of those documents: and to learn their contents required no great effort of memory.
In No. 1, Miss Fotheringay presents grateful compliments to Mr. Pendennis, and in her papa's name and her own begs to thank him for his most beautiful presents. They will always be kept carefully; and Miss F. and Captain C. will never forget the delightful evening which they passed on Tuesday last.
No. 2, said — Dear Sir, we shall have a small quiet party of social friends at our humble board, next