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So in Pen's second year Major Pendennis paid a brief visit to his nephew, and was introduced to several of Pen's university friends — the gentle and polite Lord Plinlimmon, the gallant and open-hearted Magnus Charters, the sly and witty Harland; the intrepid Ringwood, who was called Rupert in the Union Debating Club, from his opinions and the bravery of his blunders; Broadbent, styled Barebones Broadbent from the republican nature of his opinions (he was of a dissenting family from Bristol, and a perfect Boanerges of debate); and Bloundell-Bloundell, whom Mr. Pen entertained at a dinner whereof his uncle was the chief guest.
The Major said, “Pen, my boy, your dinner went off à merveille ; you did the honors very nicely – you carved well - I am glad you learned to carve - it is done on the side-board now in most good houses, but is still an important point, and may aid you in middle-life — young Lord Plinlimmon is a very amiable young man, quite the image of his dear mother (whom I knew as Lady Aquila Brownbill); and Lord Magnus's republicanism will wear off — it sits prettily enough on a young patrician in early life, though nothing is so loathsome among persons of our rank Mr. Broadbent seems to have much eloquence and considerable reading; your friend Foker is always delightful; but your acquaintance, Mr. Bloundell, struck me as in all respects a most ineligible young man."
“Bless my soul, sir, Bloundell-Bloundell !” cried Pen, laughing: “why, sir, he's the most popular man of the university. He was in the Dragoons before he came up. We elected him of the Barmecides the first week he came up — had a special meeting on purpose — he's of an excellent family — Suffolk Bloundells, descended from Richard's Blondel, bear a harp in chief - and motto O Mong Roy.”.
“A man may have a very good coat of arms, and be a tiger, my boy," the Major said, chipping his egg ; “ that man is a tiger, mark my word — a low man. I will lay a wager that he left his regiment, which was a good one (for a more respectable man than my friend, Lord Martingale, never sat in a saddle), in bad odor. There is the unmistakable look of slang and bad habits about this Mr. Bloundell. He frequents low gambling-houses and billiard hells, sir he haunts third-rate clubs — I know he does. I know by his style. I never was mistaken in my man yet. Did you remark the quantity of rings and jewelry he wore? That person has Scamp written on his countenance, if any man ever had. Mark my words and avoid him. Let us turn the conversation. The dinner was a leetle too fine, but I don't object to your making a few extra frais when you receive friends. Of course you don't do it often, and only those whom it is your interest to fêter. The cutlets were excellent, and the soufflé uncommonly light and good. The third bottle of Champagne was not necessary; but you have a good income, and as long as you keep within it, I shall not quarrel with you, my dear boy."
Poor Pen! the worthy uncle little knew how often
those dinners took place, while the reckless young Amphitryon delighted to show his hospitality and skill in gourmandise. There is no art about which boys are more anxious to have an air of knowingness. A taste and knowledge of wines and cookery appears to them to be the sign of an accomplished roué and manly gentleman. Pen, in his character of Admirable Crichton, thought it necessary to be a great judge and practitioner of dinners; we have just said how the college cook respected him, and shall soon have to deplore that that worthy man so blindly trusted our Pen. In the third year of the lad's residence at Oxbridge, his staircase was by no means encumbered with dish-covers and desserts, and waiters carrying in dishes, and skips opening iced Champagne; crowds of different sorts of attendants, with faces sulky or piteous, hung about the outer oak, and assailed the unfortunate lad as he issued out of his den. Nor did his guardian's advice take any effect, or induce Mr. Pen to avoid the society of the disreputable Mr. Bloundell. The young magnates of the neighboring great College of St. George's, who regarded Pen, and in whose society he lived, were not taken in by Bloundell's flashy graces, and rakish airs of fashion. Broadbent called him Captain Macheath, and said he would live to be hanged. Foker, during his brief stay at the university with Macheath, with characteristic caution, declined to say anything in the Captain's disfavor, but hinted to Pen that he had better have him for a partner at whist than play against him, and better back him at écarté than bet on the other side. “You see, he plays better than you do, Pen,” was the astute young gentleman's remark: “he plays uncommon well, the Captain does; —and Pen, I wouldn't take
way with a lad whe young man, fave had merak
the odds too freely from him, if I was you. I don't think he's too flush of money, the Captain ain't." But beyond these dark suggestions and generalities, the cautious Foker could not be got to speak.
Not that his advice would have had more weight with a headstrong young man, than advice commonly has with a lad who is determined on pursuing his own way. Pen's appetite for pleasure was insatiable, and he rushed at it wherever it presented itself, with an eagerness which bespoke his fiery constitution and youthful health. He called taking pleasure “seeing life,” and quoted well-known maxims from Terence, from Horace, from Shakspeare, to show that one should do all that might become a man. He bade fair to be utterly used up and a roué, in a few years, if he were to continue at the pace at which he was going.
One night after a supper-party in college, at which Pen and Macheath had been present, and at which a little quiet vingt-et-un had been played, as the men had taken their caps and were going away, after no great losses or winnings on any side, Mr. Bloundell playfully took up a green wine-glass from the suppertable, which had been destined to contain iced cup, but into which he inserted something still more pernicious, namely a pair of dice, which the gentleman took out of his waistcoat pocket, and put into the glass. Then giving the glass a graceful wave which showed that his hand was quite experienced in the throwing of dice, he called seven's the main, and whisking the ivory cubes gently on the table, swept them up lightly again from the cloth, and repeated this process two or three times. The other men looked on, Pen, of course, among the number, who had never used the dice as yet, except to play a humdrum game of backgammon at home.
Mr. Bloundell, who had a good voice, began to troll out the chorus from “Robert the Devil,” an Opera then in great vogue, in which chorus many of the men joined, especially Pen, who was in very high spirits, having won a good number of shillings and half-crowns at the vingt-et-un — and presently, instead of going home, most of the party were seated round the table playing at dice, the green glass going round from hand to hand until Pen finally shivered it, after throwing six mains. From that night Pen plunged into the delights of the game of hazard, as eagerly as it was his custom to pursue any new pleasure. Dice can be played of mornings as well as after dinner or supper. Bloundell would come into Pen's rooms after breakfast, and it was astonishing how quick the time passed as the bones were rattling. They had little quiet parties with closed doors, and Bloundell devised a box lined with felt, so that the dice should make no noise, and their tell-tale rattle not bring the sharp-eared tutors up to the rooms. Bloundell, Ringwood, and Pen were once very nearly caught by Mr. Buck, who, passing in the Quadrangle, thought he heard the words “Two to one on the caster,” through Pen's open window; but when the tutor got into Arthur's rooms he found the lads with three Homers before them, and Pen said, he was trying to coach the two other men, and asked Mr. Buck with great gravity what was the present condition of the River Scamander, and whether it was navigable or no 2 Mr. Arthur Pendennis did not win much money in these transactions with Mr. Bloundell, or indeed gain good of any kind except a knowledge of the odds at hazard, which he might have learned out of books. One Easter vacation, when Pen had announced to