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writes her letters,” he said: “every one of 'em; and since they've quarrelled, she don't know how the deuce to get on. Miss Rouncy is an uncommon pretty hand, whereas the other one makes dreadful work of the writing and spelling when Bows ain't by. Rouncy's been settin' her copies lately - she writes a beautiful hand, Rouncy does."
“I suppose you know it pretty well,” said the Major, archly: upon which Mr. Foker winked at him again.
“I would give a great deal to have a specimen of her handwriting," continued Major Pendennis, “I dare say you could give me one."
“ That would be too bad," Foker replied. “Miss F.'s writin' ain't so very bad, I dare say; only she got Miss R. to write the first letter, and has gone on ever since. But you mark my word, that till they are friends again the letters will stop."
“I hope they will never be reconciled," the Major said with great sincerity. “You must feel, my dear sir, as a man of the world, how fatal to my nephew's prospects in life is this step which he contemplates, and how eager we all must be to free him from this absurd engagement."
“He has come out uncommon strong," said Mr. Foker; “I have seen his verses; Rouncy copied 'em. And I said to myself when I saw 'em, Catch me writin' verses to a woman, — that's all.'”
“He has made a fool of himself, as many a good fellow has before him. How can we make him see his folly, and cure it? I am sure you will give us what aid you can in extricating a generous young man from such a pair of schemers as this father and daughter seem to be. Love on the lady's side is out of the question."
“Love, indeed!” Foker said. “If Pen had n't two thousand a-year when he came of age _".
“If Pen had n't what ? ” cried out the Major in astonishment.
" Two thousand a-year: has n't he got two thousand a-year ? the General says he has."
“My dear friend,” shrieked out the Major, with an eagerness which this gentleman rarely showed, " thank you! — thank you! — I begin to see now. - Two thou. sand a-year! Why, his mother has but five hundred a-year in the world. — She is likely to live to eighty, and Arthur has not a shilling but what she can allow him.”
" What! he ain't rich then?” Foker asked. “Upon my honor he has no more than what I say.” “ And you ain't going to leave him anything?"
The Major had sunk every shilling he could scrape together on annuity, and of course was going to leave Pen nothing ; but he did not tell Foker this. "How much do you think a Major on half-pay can save ?" he asked. “If these people have been looking at him as a fortune, they are utterly mistaken — and — and you have made me the happiest man in the world."
“Sir to you,” said Mr. Foker, politely, and when they parted for the night they shook hands with the greatest cordiality; the younger gentleman promising the elder not to leave Chatteris without a further conversation in the morning. And as the Major went up to his room, and Mr. Foker smoked his cigar against the door pillars of the George, Pen, very likely, ten miles off, was lying in bed kissing the letter from his Emily.
The next morning, before Mr. Foker drove off in his drag, the insinuating Major had actually got a letter of Miss Rouncy's in his own pocket-book. Let it
The landlady, forstant visits her out of the things
be a lesson to women how they write. And in very high spirits Major Pendennis went to call upon Doctor Portman at the Deanery, and told him what happy discoveries he had made on the previous night. As they sat in confidential conversation in the Dean's oak breakfast parlor they could look across the lawn and see Captain Costigan's window, at which poor Pen had been only too visible some three weeks since. The Doctor was most indignant against Mrs. Creed, the landlady, for her duplicity, in concealing Sir Derby Oaks's constant visits to her lodgers, and threatened to excommunicate her out of the Cathedral. But the wary Major thought that all things were for the best; and, having taken counsel with himself over night, felt himself quite strong enough to go and face Captain Costigan.
“I'm going to fight the dragon,” he said, with a laugh, to Dr. Portman.
“ And I shrive you, sir, and bid good fortune go with you," answered the Doctor. Perhaps he and Mrs. Portman and Miss Maria, as they sat with their friend, the Dean's lady, in her drawing-room, looked up more than once at the enemy's window to see if they could perceive any signs of the combat.
The Major walked round, according to the directions given him, and soon found Mrs. Creed's little door. He passed it, and as he ascended to Captain Costigan's apartment, he could hear a stamping of feet, and a great shouting of “Ha, ha!” within.
“It's Sir Derby Oaks taking his fencing lesson,” said the child, who piloted Major Pendennis. “He takes it Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays."
The Major knocked, and at length a tall gentleman came forth, with a foil and mask in one hand, and a fencing glove on the other.
Pendennis made him a deferential bow. "I believe I have the honor of speaking to Captain Costigan — My name is Major Pendennis."
The Captain brought his weapon up to the salute, and said, “ Major, the honor is moine; I'm deloighted to see ye.”