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lessons in fencing after he quitted the army, where he was the pet of the Duke of Kent! Fencing! I should like to continue my fencing, or I shall forget what Angelo taught me. Uncle Arthur always liked me to fence — he says it is the exercise of a gentleman. Hang it. I'll take some lessons of Captain Costigan. Go along Rebecca - up the hill, old lady. Pendennis, Pendennis - how she spoke the word ! Emily, Emily! how good, how noble, how beautiful, how perfect, she is !”
Now the reader, who has had the benefit of overhearing the entire conversation which Pen had with Miss Fotheringay, can judge for himself about the powers of her mind, and may perhaps be disposed to think that she has not said anything astonishingly humorous or intellectual in the course of the above interview.
But what did our Pen care ? He saw a pair of bright eyes, and he believed in them - a beautiful image, and he fell down and worshipped it. He supplied the meaning which her words wanted; and created the divinity which he loved. Was Titania the first who fell in love with an ass, or Pygmalion the only artist who has gone crazy about a stone? He had found her: he had found what his soul thirsted after. He flung himself into the stream and drank with all his might. Let those who have been thirsty own how delicious that first draught is. As he rode down the avenue towards home - Pen shrieked with laughter as he saw the Reverend Mr. Smirke once more coming demurely away from Fairoaks on his pony. Smirke had dawdled and stayed at the cottages on the way, and then dawdled with Laura over her lessons — and then looked at Mrs. Pendennis's gardens and improvements until he had perfectly bored
out that lady: and he had taken his leave at the very last minute without that invitation to dinner which he fondly expected.
Pen was full of kindness and triumph. “What, picked up and sound ?" he cried out laughing. “Come along back, old fellow, and eat my dinner - I have had mine: but we will have a bottle of the old wine and drink her health, Smirke.”
Poor Smirke turned the pony's head round, and jogged along with Arthur. His mother was charmed to see him in such high spirits, and welcomed Mr. Smirke for his sake, when Arthur said he had forced the curate back to dine. He gave a most ludicrous account of the play of the night before, and of the acting of Bingley the Manager, in his rickety Hessians, and the enormous Mrs. Bingley as the Countess, in rumpled green satin and a Polish cap: he mimicked them, and delighted his mother and little Laura, who clapped her hands with pleasure.
“And Mrs. Haller ?" said Mrs. Pendennis.
“She's a stunner, Ma'am,” Pen said, laughing, and using the words of his revered friend, Mr. Foker.
“A what, Arthur?” asked the lady.
“What is a stunner, Arthur ?" cried Laura, in the same voice.
So he gave them a queer account of Mr. Foker, and how he used to be called Vats and Grains, and by other contumelious names at school: and how he was now exceedingly rich, and a Fellow Commoner at St. Boniface. But gay and communicative as he was, Mr. Pen did not say one syllable about his ride to Chatteris that day, or about the new friends whom he had made there.
When the two ladies retired, Pen, with flashing eyes, filled up two great bumpers of Madeira, and looking Smirke full in the face said, “Here's to her!”
“Here's to her,” said the curate with a sigh, lifting the glass : and emptying it, so that his face was a little pink when he put it down.
Pen had even less sleep that night than on the night before. In the morning, and almost before dawn, he went out and saddled that unfortunate Rebecca himself, and rode her on the Downs like mad. Again love had roused him — and said, “Awake, Pendennis, I am here.” That charming fever - that delicious longing — and fire, and uncer. tainty: he hugged them to him — he would not have lost them for all the world.
CICERo and Euripides did not occupy Mr. Pen much for some time after this, and honest Mr. Smirke had a very easy time with his pupil. Rebecca was the animal who suffered most in the present state of Pen's mind, for, besides those days when he could publicly announce his intention of going to Chatteris to take a fencing-lesson, and went thither with the knowledge of his mother, whenever he saw three hours clear before him, the young rascal made a rush for the city, and found his way to Prior's Lane. He was as frantic with vexation when Rebecca went lame, as Richard at Bosworth, when his horse was killed under him; and got deeply into the books of the man who kept the hunting stables at Chatteris for the doctoring of his own, and the hire of another animal.
Then, and perhaps once in a week, under pretence of going to read a Greek play with Smirke, this young reprobate set off so as to be in time for the Competitor down coach, stayed a couple of hours in Chatteris, and returned on the Rival, which left for London at ten at night. Once his secret was nearly lost by Smirke's simplicity, of whom Mrs. Pendennis asked whether they had read a great deal the night before, or a question to that effect. Smirke was about to tell the truth, that he had never seen Mr. Pen at all, when the latter's boot-heel came grinding down
on Mr. Smirke's toe under the table, and warned the curate not to betray him.
They had had conversations on the tender subject, of course. There must be a confidant and depositary somewhere. When informed, under the most solemn vows of secrecy, of Pen’s condition of mind, the curate said, with no small tremor, " that he hoped it was no unworthy object — no unlawful attachment, which Pen had formed " - for if so the poor fellow felt it would be his duty to break his vow and inform Pen's mother, and then there would be a quarrel, he felt, with sickening apprehension, and he would never again have a chance of seeing what he most liked in the world.
“Unlawful, unworthy!” Pen bounced out at the curate's question. “She is as pure as she is beautiful; I would give my heart to no other woman. I keep the matter a secret in my family, because — because – there are reasons of a weighty nature which I am not at liberty to disclose. But any man who breathes a word against her purity insults both her honor and mine, and — and dammy, I won't stand
Smirke, with a faint laugh, only said, “Well, well, don't call me out, Arthur, for you know I can't fight:” but by this compromise the wretched curate was put. more than ever into the power of his pupil, and the Greek and mathematics suffered correspondingly.
If the reverend gentleman had had much discernment, and looked into the Poets' Corner of the “ County Chronicle," as it arrived in the Wednesday's bag, he might have seen “Mrs. Haller," “ Passion and Genius,” “ Lines to Miss Fotheringay, of the Theatre Royal,” appearing every week; and other verses of the most gloomy, thrilling, and passionate