« ZurückWeiter »
the candle to go to bed, followed afterwards with the plate-basket; and the next morning brought him the key of the hall clock - the Squire always used to wind it up of a Thursday, John said. Mrs. Pendennis's maid brought him messages from her mistress. She confirmed the doctor's report, of the comfort which Master Arthur's arrival bad caused to his mother.
What passed between that lady and the boy is not of import. A veil should be thrown over those sacred emotions of love and grief. The maternal passion is a sacred mystery to me. What one sees symbolized in the Roman churches in the image of the Virgin Mother with a bosom bleeding with love, I think one may witness (and admire the Almighty bounty for) every day. I saw a Jewish lady, only yesterday, with a child at her knee, and from whose face towards the child there shone a sweetness so angelical, that it seemed to form a sort of glory round both. I protest I could have knelt before her too, and adored in her the Divine beneficence in endowing us with the maternal storgè, which began with our race and sanctifies the history of mankind.
As for Arthur Pendennis, after that awful shock which the sight of his dead father must have produced on him, and the pity and feeling which such an event no doubt occasioned, I am not sure that in the very moment of the grief, and as he embraced his mother, and tenderly consoled her, and promised to love her forever, there was not springing up in his breast a sort of secret triumph and exultation. He was the chief now and lord. He was Pendennis; and all round about him were his servants and handmaids. “You'll never send me away,” little Laura said, tripping by him, and holding his hand. “You won't send me to school, will you, Arthur ?”
Arthur kissed her and patted her head. No, she shouldn’t go to school. As for going himself, that was quite out of the question. He had determined that that part of his life should not be renewed. In the midst of the general grief, and the corpse still lying above, he had leisure to conclude that he would have it all holidays for the future, that he wouldn't get up till he liked, or stand the bullying of the Doctor any more, and had made a hundred of such day dreams and resolves for the future. How one's thoughts will travel! and how quickly our wishes beget them! When he with Laura in his hand went into the kitchen on his way to the dog-kennel, the fowl-houses, and other his favorite haunts, all the servants there assembled in great silence with their friends, and the laboring men and their wives, and Sally Potter who went with the post-bag to Clavering, and the baker's man from Clavering — all there assembled and drinking beer on the melancholy occasion—rose up on his entrance and bowed or curtsied to him. They never used to do so last holidays, he felt at once and with indescribable pleasure. The cook cried out, “O Lord,” and whispered “How Master Arthur do grow !” Thomas, the groom, in the act of drinking, put down the jug alarmed before his master. Thomas's master felt the honor keenly. He went through and looked at the pointers. As Flora put her nose up to his waistcoat, and Ponto, yelling with pleasure, hurtled at his chain, Pen patronized the dogs, and said “Poo Ponto, poo Flora,” in his most condescending manner. And then he went and looked at Laura's hens, and at the pigs, and at the orchard, and at the dairy; perhaps he blushed to think that it was only last holidays he had in a manner robbed the great apple-tree, and been scolded by the dairymaid for taking cream.
They buried John Pendennis, Esquire, "formerly an eminent medical practitioner at Bath, and subsequently an able magistrate, a benevolent landlord, and a benefactor to many charities and public institutions in this neighborhood and country," with one of the most handsome funerals that had been seen since Sir Roger Clavering was buried here, the clerk said, in the abbey church of Clavering St. Mary's. A fair marble slab, from which the above inscription is copied, was erected over the Fairoaks' pew in the church. On it you may see the Pendennis coat of arms and crest, an eagle looking towards the sun, with the motto “nec tenui pennâ,” to the present day. Doctor Portman alluded to the deceased most handsomely and affectingly, as “our dear departed friend," in his sermon next Sunday; and Arthur Pendennis reigned in his stead.
In WHICH PENDENNIS APPEARS AS A VERY
ARTHUR was about sixteen years old, we have said, when he began to reign; in person, he had what his friends would call a dumpy, but his mamma styled a meat little figure. His hair was of a healthy brown color, which looks like gold in the sunshine, his face was round, rosy, freckled, and good-humored, his whiskers were decidedly of a reddish hue; in fact, without being a beauty, he had such a frank, goodnatured kind face, and laughed so merrily at you out of his honest blue eyes, that no wonder Mrs. Pendennis thought him the pride of the whole country. Between the ages of sixteen and eighteen he rose from five feet six to five feet eight inches in height, at which altitude he paused. But his mother wondered at it. He was three inches taller than his father. Was it possible that any man could grow to be three inches taller than Mr. Pendennis 2
You may be certain he never went back to school; the discipline of the establishment did not suit him, and he liked being at home much better. The question of his return was debated, and his uncle was for his going back. The Doctor wrote his opinion that it was most important for Arthur's success in afterlife that he should know a Greek play thoroughly, but Pen adroitly managed to hint to his mother what a dangerous place Grey Friars was, and what sad wild fellows some of the chaps there were, and the timid soul, taking alarm at once, acceded to his desire to stay at home.
Then Pen's uncle offered to use his influence with His Royal Highness the Commander-in-Chief, who was pleased to be very kind to him, and proposed to get Pen a commission in the Foot Guards. Pen's heart leaped at this : he had been to hear the band at St. James's play on a Sunday, when he went out to his uncle. He had seen Tom Ricketts, of the fourth form, who used to wear a jacket and trousers so ludi. crously tight, that the elder boys could not forbear using him in the quality of a butt or “cockshy" — he had seen this very Ricketts arrayed in crimson and gold, with an immense bearskin cap on his head, staggering under the colors of the regiment. Tom had recognized him and gave him a patronizing nod. Tom, a little wretch whom he had cut over the back with a hockey-stick last quarter — and there he was in the centre of the square, rallying round the flag of his country, surrounded by bayonets, cross-belts, and scarlet, the band blowing trumpets and banging cymbals — talking familiarly to immense warriors with tufts to their chins and Waterloo medals. What would not Pen have given to enter such a service ?
But Helen Pendennis, when this point was proposed to her by her son, put on a face full of terror and alarm. She said “she did not quarrel with others who thought differently, but that in her opinion a Christian had no right to make the army a profession. Mr. Pendennis never, never would have permitted his son to be a soldier. Finally, she should be very unhappy if he thought of it.” Now Pen would have as soon cut off his nose and ears as deliberately, and of aforethought malice, made his mother
VOL. IX. -3