Readme.it in English  home page
Readme.it in Italiano  pagina iniziale
readme.it by logo SoftwareHouse.it

Ebook in formato Kindle (mobi) - Kindle File Ebook (mobi)

Formato per Iphone, Ipad e Ebook (epub) - Ipad, Iphone and Ebook reader format (epub)

Versione ebook di Readme.it powered by Softwarehouse.it


William MakepeaceThackeray

VANITYFAIR

 

 


BEFORETHE CURTAIN

 

As themanager of the Performance sits before the curtainon theboards and looks into the Faira feeling of profoundmelancholycomes over him in his survey of the bustling place.There is agreat quantity of eating and drinkingmaking loveandjiltinglaughing and the contrarysmokingcheatingfightingdancing and fiddling; there are bullies pushing aboutbucksogling the womenknaves picking pocketspolicemenon thelook-outquacks (OTHER quacksplague take them!)bawling infront of their boothsand yokels looking up atthetinselled dancers and poor old rouged tumblerswhile thelight-fingeredfolk are operating upon their pockets behind.Yesthisis VANITY FAIR; not a moral place certainly; nor amerry onethough very noisy.  Look at the faces of the actorsandbuffoons when they come off from their business; andTom Foolwashing the paint off his cheeks before he sits downto dinnerwith his wife and the little Jack Puddings behindthecanvas.   The curtain will be up presentlyand he will beturningover head and heelsand crying"How are you?"

 

A man witha reflective turn of mindwalking through anexhibitionof this sortwill not be oppressedI take itby hisown orother people's hilarity.   An episode of humour or kindnesstouchesand amuses him here and there--a pretty childlooking ata gingerbread stall; a pretty girl blushing whilst herlovertalks to her and chooses her fairing; poor Tom Foolyonderbehind the waggonmumbling his bone with the honestfamilywhich lives by his tumbling; but the general impressionis onemore melancholy than mirthful.  When you come homeyou sitdown in a sobercontemplativenot uncharitable frameof mindand apply yourself to your books or your business.

 

I have noother moral than this to tag to the present storyof "VanityFair." Some people consider Fairs immoral altogetherand eschewsuchwith their servants and families: verylikelythey are right.  But persons who think otherwiseand areof a lazyor a benevolentor a sarcastic moodmay perhapslike tostep in for half an hourand look at the performances.There arescenes of all sorts; some dreadful combatssomegrand andlofty horse-ridingsome scenes of high lifeandsome ofvery middling indeed; some love-making for thesentimentaland some light comic business; the wholeaccompaniedby appropriate scenery and brilliantly illuminatedwith theAuthor's own candles.

 

What morehas the Manager of the Performance to say?--Toacknowledge the kindness with which it has been receivedin all theprincipal towns of England through which the Showhaspassedand where it has been most favourably noticed bytherespected conductors of the public Pressand by the NobilityandGentry.  He is proud to think that his Puppets have givensatisfactionto the very best company in this empire.  Thefamouslittle Becky Puppet has been pronounced to be uncommonlyflexiblein the jointsand lively on the wire; the AmeliaDollthough it has had a smaller circle of admirershas yetbeencarved and dressed with the greatest care by the artist; theDobbinFigurethough apparently clumsyyet dances in a veryamusingand natural manner; the Little Boys' Dance has beenliked bysome; and please to remark the richly dressed figureof theWicked Noblemanon which no expense has beensparedand which Old Nick will fetch away at the end of thissingularperformance.

 

And withthisand a profound bow to his patronstheManagerretiresand the curtain rises.

 

LONDONJune 281848

 

 

 

 

Chapter IChiswickMall

 

While thepresent century was in its teensand on onesunshinymorning in Junethere drove up to the greatiron gateof Miss Pinkerton's academy for young ladiesonChiswick Malla large family coachwith two fathorses inblazing harnessdriven by a fat coachman inathree-cornered hat and wigat the rate of four milesan hour. A black servantwho reposed on the box besidethe fatcoachmanuncurled his bandy legs as soon astheequipage drew up opposite Miss Pinkerton's shiningbrassplateand as he pulled the bell at least a score ofyoungheads were seen peering out of the narrow windowsof thestately old brick house.  Naythe acute observer mighthaverecognized the little red nose of good-natured MissJemimaPinkerton herselfrising over some geranium potsin thewindow of that lady's own drawing-room.

 

"Itis Mrs. Sedley's coachsister" said Miss Jemima."Sambothe black servanthas just rung the bell; andthecoachman has a new red waistcoat."

 

"Haveyou completed all the necessary preparationsincidentto Miss Sedley's departureMiss Jemima?" askedMissPinkerton herselfthat majestic lady; the SemiramisofHammersmiththe friend of Doctor Johnsonthecorrespondentof Mrs. Chapone herself.

 

"Thegirls were up at four this morningpacking hertrunkssister" replied Miss Jemima; "we have made herabow-pot."

 

"Saya bouquetsister Jemima'tis more genteel."

 

"Wella booky as big almost as a haystack; I have putup twobottles of the gillyflower water for Mrs. Sedleyand thereceipt for making itin Amelia's box."

 

"AndI trustMiss Jemimayou have made a copy ofMissSedley's account.  This is itis it? Very good--ninety-threepoundsfour shillings.  Be kind enough to address itto JohnSedleyEsquireand to seal this billet which Ihavewritten to his lady."

 

In MissJemima's eyes an autograph letter of her sisterMissPinkertonwas an object of as deep veneration aswould havebeen a letter from a sovereign.  Only whenher pupilsquitted the establishmentor when they wereabout tobe marriedand oncewhen poor Miss Birchdied ofthe scarlet feverwas Miss Pinkerton known towritepersonally to the parents of her pupils; and it wasJemima'sopinion that if anything could console Mrs.Birch forher daughter's lossit would be that pious andeloquentcomposition in which Miss Pinkerton announcedthe event.

 

In thepresent instance Miss Pinkerton's "billet" wasto thefollowing effect:--

 

The MallChiswickJune 1518

 

MADAM--Afterher six years' residence at the MallIhave thehonour and happiness of presenting Miss AmeliaSedley toher parentsas a young lady not unworthyto occupya fitting position in their polished and refinedcircle. Those virtues which characterize the young English gentlewomanthoseaccomplishments which becomeher birthand stationwill not be found wanting in theamiableMiss Sedleywhose INDUSTRY and OBEDIENCEhaveendeared her to her instructorsand whose delightful sweetness oftemper has charmed her AGED and herYOUTHFULcompanions.

 

In musicin dancingin orthographyin every varietyofembroidery and needleworkshe will be found tohaverealized her friends' fondest wishes.  In geographythere isstill much to be desired; and a careful andundeviatinguse of the backboardfor four hours dailyduring thenext three yearsis recommended as necessaryto theacquirement of that dignified DEPORTMENT ANDCARRIAGEso requisite for every young lady of fashion.

 

In theprinciples of religion and moralityMiss Sedleywill befound worthy of an establishment which hasbeenhonoured by the presence of THE GREAT LEXICOGRAPHERand thepatronage of the admirable Mrs. Chapone.  In leavingthe MallMiss Amelia carries with her the hearts of hercompanionsand the affectionate regards of her mistresswho hasthe honour to subscribe herself

 

MadamYour mostobliged humble servantBARBARAPINKERTON

 

P.S.--MissSharp accompanies Miss Sedley.  It is particularly requestedthat Miss Sharp's stay in Russell Square may notexceed tendays.  The family of distinction with whom she isengageddesire to avail themselves of her services as soon as possible.

 

Thisletter completedMiss Pinkerton proceeded towrite herown nameand Miss Sedley'sin the fly-leaf ofaJohnson's Dictionary--the interesting work which sheinvariablypresented to her scholarson their departurefrom theMall.  On the cover was inserted a copy of "Linesaddressedto a young lady on quitting Miss Pinkerton'sschoolatthe Mall; by the late revered Doctor SamuelJohnson."In factthe Lexicographer's name was alwayson thelips of this majestic womanand a visit he hadpaid toher was the cause of her reputation and her fortune.

 

Beingcommanded by her elder sister to get "the Dictionary"from thecupboardMiss Jemima had extracted two copiesof thebook from the receptacle in question.  When MissPinkertonhad finished the inscription in the firstJemimawithrather a dubious and timid airhanded her the second.

 

"Forwhom is thisMiss Jemima?" said Miss Pinkertonwith awfulcoldness.

 

"ForBecky Sharp" answered Jemimatrembling verymuchandblushing over her withered face and neckasshe turnedher back on her sister.  "For Becky Sharp:she'sgoing too."

 

 "MISS JEMIMA!" exclaimed Miss Pinkertonin thelargestcapitals.  "Are you in your senses? Replace theDixonaryin the closetand never venture to take sucha libertyin future."

 

"Wellsisterit's only two-and-ninepenceand poorBecky willbe miserable if she don't get one."

 

"SendMiss Sedley instantly to me" said Miss Pinkerton.And soventuring not to say another wordpoorJemimatrotted offexceedingly flurried and nervous.

 

MissSedley's papa was a merchant in Londonand aman ofsome wealth; whereas Miss Sharp was an articledpupilforwhom Miss Pinkerton had doneas she thoughtquiteenoughwithout conferring upon her at parting thehighhonour of the Dixonary.

 

Althoughschoolmistresses' letters are to be trusted nomore norless than churchyard epitaphs; yetas it sometimes happens that aperson departs this life who is reallydeservingof all the praises the stone cutter carves overhis bones;who IS a good Christiana good parentchildwifeorhusband; who actually DOES leave a disconsolatefamily tomourn his loss; so in academies of the maleand femalesex it occurs every now and then that thepupil isfully worthy of the praises bestowed by thedisinterestedinstructor.  NowMiss Amelia Sedley was ayoung ladyof this singular species; and deserved not onlyall thatMiss Pinkerton said in her praisebut had manycharmingqualities which that pompous old Minerva of awomancould not seefrom the differences of rank andagebetween her pupil and herself.

 

For shecould not only sing like a larkor a Mrs.Billingtonand dance like Hillisberg or Parisot; andembroiderbeautifully; and spell as well as a Dixonaryitself;but she had such a kindlysmilingtendergentlegenerousheart of her ownas won the love of everybodywho camenear herfrom Minerva herself down to the poorgirl inthe sculleryand the one-eyed tart-woman'sdaughterwho was permitted to vend her wares once aweek tothe young ladies in the Mall.  She had twelve intimateand bosomfriends out of the twenty-four young ladies.Evenenvious Miss Briggs never spoke ill of her; highand mightyMiss Saltire (Lord Dexter's granddaughter)allowedthat her figure was genteel; and as for MissSwartzthe rich woolly-haired mulatto from St. Kitt'sonthe dayAmelia went awayshe was in such a passion oftears thatthey were obliged to send for Dr. Flossand halftipsifyher with salvolatile.  Miss Pinkerton's attachmentwasasmay be supposed from the high position andeminentvirtues of that ladycalm and dignified; but MissJemima hadalready whimpered several times at the ideaofAmelia's departure; andbut for fear of her sisterwould havegone off in downright hystericslike theheiress(who paid double) of St. Kitt's.  Such luxury ofgriefhoweveris only allowed to parlour-boarders.HonestJemima had all the billsand the washingand themendingand the puddingsand the plate and crockeryand theservants to superintend.  But why speak abouther? It is probable that we shall not hear of her againfrom thismoment to the end of timeand that when thegreatfiligree iron gates are once closed on hershe andher awfulsister will never issue therefrom into this littleworld ofhistory.

 

But as weare to see a great deal of Ameliathere isno harm insayingat the outset of our acquaintancethatshe was adear little creature; and a great mercy it isboth inlife and in novelswhich (and the latter especially)abound invillains of the most sombre sortthatwe are tohave for a constant companion so guilelessandgood-natured a person.  As she is not a heroinethereis no needto describe her person; indeed I am afraidthat hernose was rather short than otherwiseand hercheeks agreat deal too round and red for a heroine; buther faceblushed with rosy healthand her lips with thefreshestof smilesand she had a pair of eyes whichsparkledwith the brightest and honestest good-humourexceptindeed when they filled with tearsand that wasa greatdeal too often; for the silly thing would cry overa deadcanary-bird; or over a mousethat the cat haplyhad seizedupon; or over the end of a novelwere it everso stupid;and as for saying an unkind word to herwereanypersons hard-hearted enough to do so--whyso muchthe worsefor them.  Even Miss Pinkertonthat austereandgodlike womanceased scolding her after the firsttimeandthough she no more comprehended sensibilitythan shedid Algebragave all masters and teachersparticularorders to treat Miss Sedley with the utmostgentlenessas harsh treatment was injurious to her.

 

So thatwhen the day of departure camebetween hertwocustoms of laughing and cryingMiss Sedley wasgreatlypuzzled how to act.  She was glad to go homeand yetmost woefully sad at leaving school.  For threedaysbeforelittle Laura Martinthe orphanfollowed herabout likea little dog.  She had to make and receive atleastfourteen presents--to make fourteen solemn promisesof writingevery week:  "Send my letters under coverto mygrandpapathe Earl of Dexter" said Miss Saltire(whobythe waywas rather shabby).  "Never mind thepostagebut write every dayyou dear darling" said theimpetuousand woolly-headedbut generous andaffectionateMiss Swartz; and the orphan little Laura Martin(who wasjust in round-hand)took her friend's handand saidlooking up in her face wistfully"AmeliawhenI write toyou I shall call you Mamma." All which detailsI have nodoubtJONESwho reads this book at hisClubwillpronounce to be excessively foolishtrivialtwaddlingand ultra-sentimental.  Yes; I can see Jonesat thisminute (rather flushed with his joint of muttonand halfpint of wine)taking out his pencil and scoringunder thewords "foolishtwaddling" &c.and adding tothem hisown remark of "QUITE TRUE." Wellhe is a loftyman ofgeniusand admires the great and heroic in lifeandnovels; and so had better take warning and go elsewhere.

 

Wellthen.  The flowersand the presentsand thetrunksand bonnet-boxes of Miss Sedley having beenarrangedby Mr. Sambo in the carriagetogether with avery smalland weather-beaten old cow's-skin trunk withMissSharp's card neatly nailed upon itwhich wasdeliveredby Sambo with a grinand packed by thecoachmanwith a corresponding sneer--the hour for partingcame; andthe grief of that moment was considerablylessenedby the admirable discourse which Miss Pinkertonaddressedto her pupil.  Not that the parting speech causedAmelia tophilosophiseor that it armed her in anyway with acalmnessthe result of argument; but it wasintolerablydullpompousand tedious; and having thefear ofher schoolmistress greatly before her eyesMissSedley didnot venturein her presenceto give way toanyebullitions of private grief.  A seed-cake and a bottleof winewere produced in the drawing-roomas on thesolemnoccasions of the visits of parentsand theserefreshmentsbeing partaken ofMiss Sedley was atliberty todepart.

 

"You'llgo in and say good-by to Miss PinkertonBecky!"said Miss Jemima to a young lady of whomnobodytook any noticeand who was coming downstairswith herown bandbox.

 

"Isuppose I must" said Miss Sharp calmlyand muchto thewonder of Miss Jemima; and the latter havingknocked atthe doorand receiving permission to comeinMissSharp advanced in a very unconcerned mannerand saidin Frenchand with a perfect accent"Mademoiselleje viensvous faire mes adieux."

 

MissPinkerton did not understand French; she onlydirectedthose who did: but biting her lips and throwingup hervenerable and Roman-nosed head (on the top ofwhichfigured a large and solemn turban)she said"MissSharpIwish you a good morning." As the HammersmithSemiramisspokeshe waved one handboth by way ofadieuandto give Miss Sharp an opportunity of shakingone of thefingers of the hand which was left out forthatpurpose.

 

Miss Sharponly folded her own hands with a veryfrigidsmile and bowand quite declined to accept theprofferedhonour; on which Semiramis tossed up herturbanmore indignantly than ever.  In factit was a littlebattlebetween the young lady and the old oneand thelatter wasworsted.  "Heaven bless youmy child" saidsheembracing Ameliaand scowling the while over thegirl'sshoulder at Miss Sharp.  "Come awayBecky" saidMissJemimapulling the young woman away in greatalarmandthe drawing-room door closed upon them forever.

 

Then camethe struggle and parting below.  Wordsrefuse totell it.  All the servants were there in the hall--all thedear friend--all the young ladies--the dancing-master whohad just arrived; and there was such ascufflingand huggingand kissingand cryingwith thehystericalYOOPS of Miss Swartzthe parlour-boarderfrom herroomas no pen can depictand as the tenderheartwould fain pass over.  The embracing was over; theyparted--thatisMiss Sedley parted from her friends.  MissSharp haddemurely entered the carriage some minutesbefore. Nobody cried for leaving HER.

 

Sambo ofthe bandy legs slammed the carriage dooron hisyoung weeping mistress.  He sprang up behind thecarriage. "Stop!" cried Miss Jemimarushing to the gatewith aparcel.

 

"It'ssome sandwichesmy dear" said she to Amelia."Youmay be hungryyou know; and BeckyBeckySharphere's a book for you that my sister--that isI--Johnson'sDixonaryyou know; you mustn't leave uswithoutthat.  Good-by.  Drive oncoachman.  God blessyou!"

 

And thekind creature retreated into the gardenovercomewith emotion.

 

Butlo!and just as the coach drove offMiss Sharp puther paleface out of the window and actually flung thebook backinto the garden.

 

Thisalmost caused Jemima to faint with terror.  "WellInever"--said she--"what an audacious"--Emotionpreventedher from completing either sentence.  Thecarriagerolled away; the great gates were closed; the bellrang forthe dancing lesson.  The world is before the twoyoungladies; and sofarewell to Chiswick Mall.

 

 

 

CHAPTER IIInWhich Miss Sharp and Miss SedleyPrepareto Open the Campaign

 

When MissSharp had performed the heroical actmentionedin the last chapterand had seen the Dixonaryflyingover the pavement of the little gardenfall at lengthat thefeet of the astonished Miss Jemimathe younglady'scountenancewhich had before worn an almostlivid lookof hatredassumed a smile that perhaps wasscarcelymore agreeableand she sank back in thecarriagein an easy frame of mindsaying--"So much fortheDixonary; andthank GodI'm out of Chiswick."

 

MissSedley was almost as flurried at the act of defianceas MissJemima had been; forconsiderit was but oneminutethat she had left schooland the impressions ofsix yearsare not got over in that space of time.  Naywith somepersons those awes and terrors of youth lastfor everand ever.  I knowfor instancean old gentlemanofsixty-eightwho said to me one morning at breakfastwith avery agitated countenance"I dreamed lastnight thatI was flogged by Dr. Raine." Fancy had carriedhim backfive-and-fifty years in the course of thatevening. Dr. Raine and his rod were just as awful to himin hisheartthenat sixty-eightas they had been atthirteen. If the Doctorwith a large birchhad appearedbodily tohimeven at the age of threescore and eightand hadsaid in awful voice"Boytake down yourpant--"?WellwellMiss Sedley was exceedinglyalarmed atthis act of insubordination.

 

"Howcould you do soRebecca?" at last she saidafter apause.

 

"Whydo you think Miss Pinkerton will come out andorder meback to the black-hole?" said Rebeccalaughing.

 

"No:but--"

 

"Ihate the whole house" continued Miss Sharp in afury. "I hope I may never set eyes on it again.  I wish itwere inthe bottom of the ThamesI do; and if MissPinkertonwere thereI wouldn't pick her outthat Iwouldn't. O how I should like to see her floating in thewateryonderturban and allwith her train streamingafter herand her nose like the beak of a wherry."

 

"Hush!"cried Miss Sedley.

 

"Whywill the black footman tell tales?" cried MissRebeccalaughing.  "He may go back and tell MissPinkertonthat I hate her with all my soul; and I wish hewould; andI wish I had a means of proving ittoo.  Fortwo yearsI have only had insults and outrage from her.I havebeen treated worse than any servant in the kitchen.I havenever had a friend or a kind wordexcept fromyou. I have been made to tend the little girls in the lowerschoolroomand to talk French to the Missesuntil Igrew sickof my mother tongue.  But that talking Frenchto MissPinkerton was capital funwasn't it? She doesn'tknow aword of Frenchand was too proud to confessit. I believe it was that which made her part with me;and sothank Heaven for French.  Vive la France! Vivel'Empereur!Vive Bonaparte!"

 

"ORebeccaRebeccafor shame!" cried Miss Sedley;for thiswas the greatest blasphemy Rebecca had as yetuttered;and in those daysin Englandto say"Long liveBonaparte!"was as much as to say"Long live Lucifer!""Howcan you--how dare you have such wickedrevengefulthoughts?"

 

"Revengemay be wickedbut it's natural" answeredMissRebecca.  "I'm no angel." Andto say the truthshecertainlywas not.

 

For it maybe remarked in the course of this littleconversation(which took place as the coach rolled alonglazily bythe river side) that though Miss Rebecca Sharphas twicehad occasion to thank Heavenit has beeninthe firstplacefor ridding her of some person whom shehatedandsecondlyfor enabling her to bring herenemies tosome sort of perplexity or confusion; neitherof whichare very amiable motives for religious gratitudeor such aswould be put forward by persons of a kindandplacable disposition.  Miss Rebecca was nottheninthe leastkind or placable.  All the world used her illsaidthis youngmisanthropistand we may be pretty certainthatpersons whom all the world treats illdeserveentirelythe treatment they get.  The world is a looking-glassandgives back to every man the reflection of hisown face. Frown at itand it will in turn look sourlyupon you;laugh at it and with itand it is a jolly kindcompanion;and so let all young persons take their choice.This iscertainthat if the world neglected Miss Sharpshe neverwas known to have done a good action inbehalf ofanybody; nor can it be expected that twenty-four youngladies should all be as amiable as the heroineof thisworkMiss Sedley (whom we have selected forthe veryreason that she was the best-natured of allotherwisewhat on earth was to have prevented us fromputting upMiss Swartzor Miss Crumpor Miss Hopkinsas heroinein her place!)
it could not be expected thatevery oneshould be of the humble and gentle temperof MissAmelia Sedley; should take every opportunity tovanquishRebecca's hard-heartedness and ill-humour; andby athousand kind words and officesovercomefor onceat leasther hostility to her kind.

 

MissSharp's father was an artistand in that qualityhad givenlessons of drawing at Miss Pinkerton's school.He was aclever man; a pleasant companion; a carelessstudent;with a great propensity for running into debtand apartiality for the tavern.  When he was drunkheused tobeat his wife and daughter; and the next morningwith aheadachehe would rail at the world for its neglectof hisgeniusand abusewith a good deal of clevernessandsometimes with perfect reasonthe foolshis brotherpainters. As it was with the utmost difficulty that hecould keephimselfand as he owed money for a mileroundSohowhere he livedhe thought to better hiscircumstancesby marrying a young woman of the Frenchnationwho was by profession an opera-girl.  The humblecalling ofher female parent Miss Sharp never alluded tobut usedto state subsequently that the Entrechats werea noblefamily of Gasconyand took great pride in herdescentfrom them.  And curious it is that as she advancedin lifethis young lady's ancestors increased in rank andsplendour.

 

Rebecca'smother had had some education somewhereand herdaughter spoke French with purity and a Parisianaccent. It was in those days rather a rare accomplishmentand led toher engagement with the orthodox MissPinkerton. For her mother being deadher fatherfindinghimselfnot likely to recoverafter his third attack ofdeliriumtremenswrote a manly and pathetic letter toMissPinkertonrecommending the orphan child to herprotectionand so descended to the graveafter twobailiffshad quarrelled over his corpse.  Rebecca wasseventeenwhen she came to Chiswickand was boundover as anarticled pupil; her duties being to talk Frenchas we haveseen; and her privileges to live cost freeandwith a fewguineas a yearto gather scraps of knowledgefrom theprofessors who attended the school.

 

She wassmall and slight in person; palesandy-hairedand witheyes habitually cast down: when they looked upthey werevery largeoddand attractive; so attractivethat theReverend Mr. Crispfresh from Oxfordandcurate tothe Vicar of Chiswickthe Reverend Mr.Flowerdewfell in love with Miss Sharp; being shot deadby aglance of her eyes which was fired all the way acrossChiswickChurch from the school-pew to the reading-desk. This infatuated young man used sometimes to taketea withMiss Pinkertonto whom he had been presentedby hismammaand actually proposed something likemarriagein an intercepted notewhich the one-eyedapple-womanwas charged to deliver.  Mrs. Crisp wassummonedfrom Buxtonand abruptly carried off her darlingboy; butthe ideaevenof such an eagle in the Chiswickdovecotcaused a great flutter in the breast of MissPinkertonwho would have sent away Miss Sharp but thatshe wasbound to her under a forfeitand who nevercouldthoroughly believe the young lady's protestationsthat shehad never exchanged a single word with Mr.Crispexcept under her own eyes on the two occasionswhen shehad met him at tea.

 

By theside of many tall and bouncing young ladies intheestablishmentRebecca Sharp looked like a child.  Butshe hadthe dismal precocity of poverty.  Many a dun hadshe talkedtoand turned away from her father's door;many atradesman had she coaxed and wheedled intogood-humourand into the granting of one meal more.She satecommonly with her fatherwho was very proudof herwitand heard the talk of many of his wildcompanions--oftenbut ill-suited for a girl to hear.  But shenever hadbeen a girlshe said; she had been a womansince shewas eight years old.  Ohwhy did Miss Pinkertonlet such adangerous bird into her cage?

 

The factisthe old lady believed Rebecca to be themeekestcreature in the worldso admirablyon theoccasionswhen her father brought her to ChiswickusedRebecca toperform the part of the ingenue; and only ayearbefore the arrangement by which Rebecca had beenadmittedinto her houseand when Rebecca was sixteenyears oldMiss Pinkerton majesticallyand with a littlespeechmade her a present of a doll--which wasbythe waythe confiscated property of Miss Swindlediscoveredsurreptitiously nursing it in school-hours.  Howthe fatherand daughter laughed as they trudged hometogetherafter the evening party (it was on the occasion ofthespeecheswhen all the professors were invited) andhow MissPinkerton would have raged had she seen thecaricatureof herself which the little mimicRebeccamanaged tomake out of her doll.  Becky used to gothroughdialogues with it; it formed the delight ofNewmanStreetGerrard Streetand the Artists' quarter:and theyoung painterswhen they came to take their gin-and-waterwith their lazydissolutecleverjovial seniorusedregularly to ask Rebecca if Miss Pinkerton was athome: shewas as well known to thempoor soul! asMr.Lawrence or President West.  Once Rebecca had thehonour topass a few days at Chiswick; after which shebroughtback Jemimaand erected another doll as MissJemmy: forthough that honest creature had made andgiven herjelly and cake enough for three childrenandaseven-shilling piece at partingthe girl's sense ofridiculewas far stronger than her gratitudeand shesacrificedMiss Jemmy quite as pitilessly as her sister.

 

Thecatastrophe cameand she was brought to theMall as toher home.  The rigid formality of the placesuffocatedher: the prayers and the mealsthe lessonsand thewalkswhich were arranged with a conventualregularityoppressed her almost beyond endurance; andshe lookedback to the freedom and the beggary of theold studioin Soho with so much regretthat everybodyherselfincludedfancied she was consumed with grieffor herfather.  She had a little room in the garretwherethe maidsheard her walking and sobbing at night; but itwas withrageand not with grief.  She had not been muchof adissembleruntil now her loneliness taught her tofeign. She had never mingled in the society of women:herfatherreprobate as he waswas a man of talent; hisconversationwas a thousand times more agreeable to herthan thetalk of such of her own sex as she now encountered.Thepompous vanity of the old schoolmistressthe foolishgood-humourof her sisterthe silly chat and scandal of theeldergirlsand the frigid correctness of the governessesequallyannoyed her; and she had no softmaternalheartthis unlucky girlotherwise the prattleand talkof the younger childrenwith whose care shewaschiefly intrustedmight have soothed and interestedher; butshe lived among them two yearsand not onewas sorrythat she went away.  The gentle tender-heartedAmelia Sedley was the only person to whom shecouldattach herself in the least; and who could helpattachingherself to Amelia?

 

Thehappiness
the superior advantages of the youngwomenround about hergave Rebecca inexpressiblepangs ofenvy.  "What airs that girl gives herselfbecauseshe is anEarl's grand-daughter" she said of one.  "Howtheycringe and bow to that Creolebecause of herhundredthousand pounds!  I am a thousand times clevererand morecharming than that creaturefor all her wealth.I am aswell bred as the Earl's grand-daughterfor all herfinepedigree; and yet every one passes me by here.  AndyetwhenI was at my father'sdid not the men give uptheirgayest balls and parties in order to pass the eveningwith me?"She determined at any rate to get free fromthe prisonin which she found herselfand now began toact forherselfand for the first time to make connectedplans forthe future.

 

She tookadvantagethereforeof the means of studythe placeoffered her; and as she was already a musicianand a goodlinguistshe speedily went through the littlecourse ofstudy which was considered necessary for ladiesin thosedays.  Her music she practised incessantlyandone daywhen the girls were outand she had remainedat homeshe was overheard to play a piece so well thatMinervathoughtwiselyshe could spare herself theexpense ofa master for the juniorsand intimated to MissSharp thatshe was to instruct them in music for thefuture.

 

The girlrefused; and for the first timeand to theastonishmentof the majestic mistress of the school.  "Iam here tospeak French with the children" Rebeccasaidabruptly"not to teach them musicand save moneyfor you. Give me moneyand I will teach them."

 

Minervawas obliged to yieldandof coursedislikedher fromthat day.  "For five-and-thirty years" she saidand withgreat justice"I never have seen the individualwho hasdared in my own house to question myauthority. I have nourished a viper in my bosom."

 

"Aviper--a fiddlestick" said Miss Sharp to the oldladyalmost fainting with astonishment.  "You took mebecause Iwas useful.  There is no question of gratitudebetweenus.  I hate this placeand want to leave it.  Iwill donothing here but what I am obliged to do."

 

It was invain that the old lady asked her if she wasaware shewas speaking to Miss Pinkerton?  Rebeccalaughed inher facewith a horrid sarcastic demoniacallaughterthat almost sent the schoolmistress into fits."Giveme a sum of money" said the girl"and get ridof me--orif you like betterget me a good place asgovernessin a nobleman's family--you can do so if youplease." And in their further disputes she always returnedto thispoint"Get me a situation--we hate each otherand I amready to go."

 

WorthyMiss Pinkertonalthough she had a Romannose and aturbanand was as tall as a grenadierandhad beenup to this time an irresistible princesshad nowill orstrength like that of her little apprenticeand invain didbattle against herand tried to overawe her.Attemptingonce to scold her in publicRebecca hit uponthebefore-mentioned plan of answering her in Frenchwhichquite routed the old woman.  In order to maintainauthorityin her schoolit became necessary to removethisrebelthis monsterthis serpentthis firebrand; andhearingabout this time that Sir Pitt Crawley's familywas inwant of a governessshe actually recommendedMiss Sharpfor the situationfirebrand and serpent asshe was. "I cannotcertainly" she said"find fault withMissSharp's conductexcept to myself; and must allowthat hertalents and accomplishments are of a high order.As far asthe head goesat leastshe does credit to theeducationalsystem pursued at my establishment.''

 

And so theschoolmistress reconciled the recommendationto herconscienceand the indentures were cancelledand theapprentice was free.  The battle here describedin a fewlinesof courselasted for some months.  Andas MissSedleybeing now in her seventeenth yearwasabout toleave schooland had a friendship for MissSharp("'tis the only point in Amelia's behaviour" saidMinerva"which has not been satisfactory to hermistress")Miss Sharp was invited by her friend topass aweek with her at homebefore she enteredupon herduties as governess in a private family.

 

Thus theworld began for these two young ladies.  ForAmelia itwas quite a newfreshbrilliant worldwithall thebloom upon it.  It was not quite a new one forRebecca--(indeedif the truth must be told with respectto theCrisp affairthe tart-woman hinted to somebodywho tookan affidavit of the fact to somebody elsethatthere wasa great deal more than was made publicregardingMr. Crisp and Miss Sharpand that his letterwas inanswer to another letter).  But who can tell youthe realtruth of the matter? At all eventsif Rebeccawas notbeginning the worldshe was beginning it overagain.

 

By thetime the young ladies reached Kensington turnpikeAmelia hadnot forgotten her companionsbut haddried hertearsand had blushed very much and beendelightedat a young officer of the Life Guardswho spiedher as hewas riding byand said"A dem fine galegad!"and before the carriage arrived in Russell Squarea greatdeal of conversation had taken place about theDrawing-roomand whether or not young ladies worepowder aswell as hoops when presentedand whethershe was tohave that honour: to the Lord Mayor's ballshe knewshe was to go.  And when at length home wasreachedMiss Amelia Sedley skipped out on Sambo'sarmashappy and as handsome a girl as any in the wholebig cityof London.  Both he and coachman agreed onthispointand so did her father and motherand so didevery oneof the servants in the houseas they stoodbobbingand curtseyingand smilingin the hall towelcometheir young mistress.

 

You may besure that she showed Rebecca over everyroom ofthe houseand everything in every one of herdrawers;and her booksand her pianoand her dressesand allher necklacesbroocheslacesand gimcracks.Sheinsisted upon Rebecca accepting the white cornelianand theturquoise ringsand a sweet sprigged muslinwhich wastoo small for her nowthough it would fither friendto a nicety; and she determined in her heartto ask hermother's permission to present her whiteCashmereshawl to her friend.  Could she not spare it? andhad nother brother Joseph just brought her two fromIndia?

 

WhenRebecca saw the two magnificent Cashmereshawlswhich Joseph Sedley had brought home to hissistershe saidwith perfect truth"that it must bedelightfulto have a brother" and easily got the pity of thetender-heartedAmelia for being alone in the worldanorphanwithout friends or kindred.

 

"Notalone" said Amelia; "you knowRebeccaI shallalways beyour friendand love you as a sister--indeedI will."

 

"Ahbut to have parentsas you have--kindrichaffectionateparentswho give you everything you-askfor; andtheir lovewhich is more precious than all!My poorpapa could give me nothingand I had but twofrocks inall the world! And thento have a brotheradearbrother! Ohhow you must love him!"

 

Amelialaughed.

 

"What!don't you love him? youwho say you loveeverybody?"                          ~;

 

"Yesof courseI do--only--"

 

"Onlywhat?"

 

"OnlyJoseph doesn't seem to care much whether Ilove himor not.  He gave me two fingers to shake whenhe arrivedafter ten years' absence!  He is very kind andgoodbuthe scarcely ever speaks to me; I think heloves hispipe a great deal better than his"--but hereAmeliachecked herselffor why should she speak ill ofherbrother? "He was very kind to me as a child" sheadded; "Iwas but five years old when he went away."

 

"Isn'the very rich?" said Rebecca.  "They say all Indiannabobs areenormously rich."

 

"Ibelieve he has a very large income."

 

"Andis your sister-in-law a nice pretty woman?" "La!Joseph is not married" said Amelialaughingagain. Perhapsshe had mentioned the fact already to Rebeccabut thatyoung lady did not appear to have rememberedit;indeedvowed and protested that she expected to seea numberof Amelia's nephews and nieces.  She was quitedisappointedthat Mr. Sedley was not married; she wassureAmelia had said he wasand she doted so on littlechildren.

 

"Ithink you must have had enough of them atChiswick"said Ameliarather wondering at the suddentendernesson her friend's part; and indeed in later daysMiss Sharpwould never have committed herself so faras toadvance opinionsthe untruth of which would havebeen soeasily detected.  But we must remember that sheis butnineteen as yetunused to the art of deceivingpoorinnocent creature! and making her own experiencein her ownperson.  The meaning of the above series ofqueriesas translated in the heart of this ingenious youngwomanwassimply this: "If Mr. Joseph Sedley is richandunmarriedwhy should I not marry him? I haveonly afortnightto be surebut there is no harm intrying."And she determined within herself to make thislaudableattempt.  She redoubled her caresses to Amelia;she kissedthe white cornelian necklace as she put iton; andvowed she would nevernever part with it.  Whenthedinner-bell rang she went downstairs with her armround herfriend's waistas is the habit of young ladies.She was soagitated at the drawing-room doorthat shecouldhardly find courage to enter.  "Feel my hearthowit beatsdear!" said she to her friend.

 

"Noit doesn't" said Amelia.  "Come indon't befrightened. Papa won't do you any harm."

 

 

 

CHAPTERIIIRebeccaIs in Presence of the Enemy

 

 AVERY stoutpuffy manin buckskins and Hessianbootswith several immense neckcloths that rose almostto hisnosewith a red striped waistcoat and an applegreen coatwith steel buttons almost as large as crownpieces (itwas the morning costume of a dandy or bloodof thosedays) was reading the paper by the fire whenthe twogirls enteredand bounced off his arm-chairandblushed excessivelyand hid his entire face almostin hisneckcloths at this apparition.

 

"It'sonly your sisterJoseph" said Amelialaughingandshaking the two fingers which he held out.  "I'vecome homeFOR GOODyou know; and this is my friendMissSharpwhom you have heard me mention."

 

"Noneverupon my word" said the head under theneckclothshaking very much--"that isyes--whatabominablycold weatherMiss"--and herewith he fellto pokingthe fire with all his mightalthough it was in themiddle ofJune.

 

"He'svery handsome" whispered Rebecca to Ameliaratherloud.

 

"Doyou think so?" said the latter.  "I'll tell him."

 

"Darling!not for worlds" said Miss Sharpstartingback astimid as a fawn.  She had previously made arespectfulvirgin-like curtsey to the gentlemanand hermodesteyes gazed so perseveringly on the carpet that itwas awonder how she should have found an opportunityto seehim.

 

"Thankyou for the beautiful shawlsbrother" saidAmelia tothe fire poker.  "Are they not beautifulRebecca?"

 

"Oheavenly!" said Miss Sharpand her eyes wentfrom thecarpet straight to the chandelier.

 

Josephstill continued a huge clattering at the pokerand tongspuffing and blowing the whileand turningas red ashis yellow face would allow him.  "I can'tmake yousuch handsome presentsJoseph" continuedhissister"but while I was at schoolI have embroideredfor you avery beautiful pair of braces."

 

"GoodGad! Amelia" cried the brotherin seriousalarm"what do you mean?" and plunging with all hismight atthe bell-ropethat article of furniture cameaway inhis handand increased the honest fellow'sconfusion. "For heaven's sake see if my buggy's at thedoor. I CAN'T wait.  I must go.  D-- that groom of mine.I mustgo."

 

At thisminute the father of the family walked inrattlinghis seals like a true British merchant.  "What'sthematterEmmy?" says he.

 

"Josephwants me to see if his--his buggy is at thedoor. What is a buggyPapa?"

 

"Itis a one-horse palanquin" said the old gentlemanwho was awag in his way.

 

Joseph atthis burst out into a wild fit of laughter;in whichencountering the eye of Miss Sharphe stoppedall of asuddenas if he had been shot.

 

"Thisyoung lady is your friend? Miss SharpI amvery happyto see you.  Have you and Emmy beenquarrellingalready with Josephthat he wants to be off?"

 

"Ipromised Bonamy of our servicesir" said Joseph"todine with him."

 

"Ofie! didn't you tell your mother you would dinehere?"

 

"Butin this dress it's impossible."

 

"Lookat himisn't he handsome enough to dineanywhereMiss Sharp?"

 

On whichof courseMiss Sharp looked at her friendand theyboth set off in a fit of laughterhighlyagreeableto the old gentleman.

 

"Didyou ever see a pair of buckskins like those atMissPinkerton's?" continued hefollowing up hisadvantage.

 

"Graciousheavens! Father" cried Joseph.

 

"TherenowI have hurt his feelings.  Mrs. Sedleymy dearIhave hurt your son's feelings.  I have alludedto hisbuckskins.  Ask Miss Sharp if I haven't? ComeJosephbefriends with Miss Sharpand let us all go todinner."

 

"There'sa pillauJosephjust as you like itand Papahasbrought home the best turbot in Billingsgate."

 

"Comecomesirwalk downstairs with Miss Sharpand I willfollow with these two young women" saidthefatherand he took an arm of wife and daughterand walkedmerrily off.

 

If MissRebecca Sharp had determined in her heartuponmaking the conquest of this big beauI don'tthinkladieswe have any right to blame her; for thoughthe taskof husband-hunting is generallyand withbecomingmodestyentrusted by young persons to theirmammasrecollect that Miss Sharp had no kind parentto arrangethese delicate matters for herand that ifshe didnot get a husband for herselfthere was no oneelse inthe wide world who would take the trouble offherhands.  What causes young people to "come out"but thenoble ambition of matrimony? What sends themtroopingto watering-places? What keeps them dancingtill fiveo'clock in the morning through a whole mortalseason?What causes them to labour at pianoforte sonatasand tolearn four songs from a fashionable master at aguinea alessonand to play the harp if they havehandsomearms and neat elbowsand to wear LincolnGreentoxophilite hats and feathersbut that they may bringdown some"desirable" young man with those killing bowsand arrowsof theirs? What causes respectable parentsto take uptheir carpetsset their houses topsy-turvyandspend afifth of their year's income in ball suppers andicedchampagne? Is it sheer love of their speciesandanunadulterated wish to see young people happy anddancing?Psha! they want to marry their daughters; andas honestMrs. Sedley hasin the depths of her kindheartalready arranged a score of little schemes for thesettlementof her Ameliaso also had our beloved butunprotectedRebecca determined to do her very best tosecure thehusbandwho was even more necessary forher thanfor her friend.  She had a vivid imagination; shehadbesidesread the Arabian Nights and Guthrie'sGeography;and it is a fact that while she was dressing fordinnerand after she had asked Amelia whether herbrotherwas very richshe had built for herself a mostmagnificentcastle in the airof which she was mistresswith ahusband somewhere in the background (she hadnot seenhim as yetand his figure would not thereforebe verydistinct); she had arrayed herself in an infinityof shawlsturbansand diamond necklacesand hadmountedupon an elephant to the sound of the march inBluebeardin order to pay a visit of ceremony to theGrandMogul.  Charming Alnaschar visions! it is thehappyprivilege of youth to construct youand manya fancifulyoung creature besides Rebecca Sharp hasindulgedin these delightful day-dreams ere now!

 

JosephSedley was twelve years older than his sisterAmelia. He was in the East India Company's CivilServiceand his name appearedat the period of whichwe writein the Bengal division of the East India Registerascollector of Boggley Wollahan honourable andlucrativepostas everybody knows: in order to knowto whathigher posts Joseph rose in the servicethereader isreferred to the same periodical.

 

BoggleyWollah is situated in a finelonelymarshyjunglydistrictfamous for snipe-shootingand wherenotunfrequently you may flush a tiger.  Ramgungewherethere is amagistrateis only forty miles offand thereis acavalry station about thirty miles farther; so Josephwrote hometo his parentswhen he took possession ofhiscollectorship.  He had lived for about eight years ofhis lifequite aloneat this charming placescarcelyseeing aChristian face except twice a yearwhen thedetachmentarrived to carry off the revenues which hehadcollectedto Calcutta.

 

Luckilyat this time he caught a liver complaintforthe cureof which he returned to Europeand whichwas thesource of great comfort and amusement to himin hisnative country.  He did not live with his familywhile inLondonbut had lodgings of his ownlikea gayyoung bachelor.  Before he went to India he wastoo youngto partake of the delightful pleasures of aman abouttownand plunged into them on his returnwithconsiderable assiduity.  He drove his horses in thePark; hedined at the fashionable taverns (for theOrientalClub was not as yet invented); he frequentedthetheatresas the mode was in those daysor madehisappearance at the operalaboriously attired in tightsand acocked hat.

 

Onreturning to Indiaand ever afterhe used to talkof thepleasure of this period of his existence with greatenthusiasmand give you to understand that he andBrummelwere the leading bucks of the day.  But he wasas lonelyhere as in his jungle at Boggley Wollah.  Hescarcelyknew a single soul in the metropolis: and wereit not forhis doctorand the society of his blue-pilland hisliver complainthe must have died of loneliness.He waslazypeevishand a bon-vivan; the appearanceof a ladyfrightened him beyond measure; hence it wasbut seldomthat he joined the paternal circle in RussellSquarewhere there was plenty of gaietyand where thejokes ofhis good-natured old father frightened hisamour-propre. His bulk caused Joseph much anxiousthoughtand alarm; now and then he would make adesperateattempt to get rid of his superabundant fat;but hisindolence and love of good living speedily gotthe betterof these endeavours at reformand he foundhimselfagain at his three meals a day.  He never waswelldressed; but he took the hugest pains to adorn hisbigpersonand passed many hours daily in that occupation.His valetmade a fortune out of his wardrobe: histoilet-tablewas covered with as many pomatums andessencesas ever were employed by an old beauty: he hadtriedinorder to give himself a waistevery girthstayandwaistband then invented.  Like most fat menhewould havehis clothes made too tightand took caretheyshould be of the most brilliant colours and youthfulcut. When dressed at lengthin the afternoonhe wouldissueforth to take a drive with nobody in the Park;and thenwould come back in order to dress again andgo anddine with nobody at the Piazza Coffee-House.He was asvain as a girl; and perhaps his extremeshynesswas one of the results of his extreme vanity.  IfMissRebecca can get the better of himand at her firstentranceinto lifeshe is a young person of no ordinarycleverness.

 

The firstmove showed considerable skill.  When shecalledSedley a very handsome manshe knew thatAmeliawould tell her motherwho would probably tellJosephorwhoat any ratewould be pleased by thecomplimentpaid to her son.  All mothers are.  If youhad toldSycorax that her son Caliban was as handsomeas Apolloshe would have been pleasedwitch as shewas. PerhapstooJoseph Sedley would overhear thecompliment--Rebeccaspoke loud enough--and he didhearand(thinking in his heart that he was a very fineman) thepraise thrilled through every fibre of his bigbodyandmade it tingle with pleasure.  Thenhowevercame arecoil.  "Is the girl making fun of me?" he thoughtandstraightway he bounced towards the belland wasforretreatingas we have seenwhen his father's jokesand hismother's entreaties caused him to pause andstay wherehe was.  He conducted the young lady downto dinnerin a dubious and agitated frame of mind."Doesshe really think I am handsome?" thought he"oris she only making game of me?" We have talkedof JosephSedley being as vain as a girl.  Heaven helpus! thegirls have only to turn the tablesand sayof one oftheir own sex"She is as vain as a man"and theywill have perfect reason.  The bearded creaturesare quiteas eager for praisequite as finikin over theirtoilettesquite as proud of their personal advantagesquite asconscious of their powers of fascinationasanycoquette in the world.

 

Downstairsthenthey wentJoseph very red andblushingRebecca very modestand holding her greeneyesdownwards.  She was dressed in whitewith bareshouldersas white as snow--the picture of youthunprotectedinnocenceand humble virgin simplicity."Imust be very quiet" thought Rebecca"and very muchinterestedabout India."

 

Now wehave heard how Mrs. Sedley had prepared afine curryfor her sonjust as he liked itand in thecourse ofdinner a portion of this dish was offered toRebecca. "What is it?" said sheturning an appealinglook toMr. Joseph.

 

"Capital"said he.  His mouth was full of it: his facequite redwith the delightful exercise of gobbling."Motherit's as good as my own curries in India."

 

"OhI must try someif it is an Indian dish" saidMissRebecca.  "I am sure everything must be good thatcomes fromthere."

 

"GiveMiss Sharp some currymy dear" said Mr.Sedleylaughing.

 

Rebeccahad never tasted the dish before.

 

"Doyou find it as good as everything else from India?"said Mr.Sedley.

 

"Ohexcellent!" said Rebeccawho was sufferingtortureswith the cayenne pepper.

 

"Trya chili with itMiss Sharp" said Josephreallyinterested.

 

"Achili" said Rebeccagasping.  "Oh yes!" She thoughta chiliwas something coolas its name importedand wasserved with some.  "How fresh and green theylook"she saidand put one into her mouth.  It washotterthan the curry; flesh and blood could bear it nolonger. She laid down her fork.  "Waterfor Heaven'ssakewater!" she cried.  Mr. Sedley burst out laughing(he was acoarse manfrom the Stock Exchangewherethey loveall sorts of practical jokes).  "They are realIndianIassure you" said he.  "Sambogive Miss Sharpsomewater."

 

Thepaternal laugh was echoed by Josephwho thoughtthe jokecapital.  The ladies only smiled a little.  Theythoughtpoor Rebecca suffered too much.  She would haveliked tochoke old Sedleybut she swallowed hermortificationas well as she had the abominable currybefore itand as soon as she could speaksaidwith a comicalgood-humouredair"I ought to have remembered thepepperwhich the Princess of Persia puts in the cream-tarts inthe Arabian Nights.  Do you put cayenne intoyourcream-tarts in Indiasir?"

 

Old Sedleybegan to laughand thought Rebeccawas agood-humoured girl.  Joseph simply said"Cream-tartsMiss? Our cream is very bad in Bengal.  Wegenerallyuse goats' milk; and'gaddo you knowI've gotto preferit!"

 

"Youwon't like EVERYTHING from India nowMissSharp"said the old gentleman; but when the ladies hadretiredafter dinnerthe wily old fellow said to his son"Havea careJoe; that girl is setting her cap at you."

 

"Pooh!nonsense!" said Joehighly flattered.  "I recollectsirtherewas a girl at Dumduma daughter ofCutler ofthe Artilleryand afterwards married to Lancethesurgeonwho made a dead set at me in the year'4--at meand Mulligatawneywhom I mentioned to youbeforedinner--a devilish good fellow Mulligatawney--he's amagistrate at Budgebudgeand sure to be incouncil infive years.  Wellsirthe Artillery gave a ballandQuintinof the King's 14thsaid to me'Sedley' saidhe'I betyou thirteen to ten that Sophy Cutler hookseither youor Mulligatawney before the rains.' 'Done'says I;and egadsir--this claret's very good.  Adamson'sorCarbonell's?"

 

A slightsnore was the only reply: the honest stockbrokerwasasleepand so the rest of Joseph's story was lostfor thatday.  But he was always exceedinglycommunicativein a man's partyand has told thisdelightfultale many scores of times to his apothecaryDr.Gollopwhen he came to inquire about the liver andtheblue-pill.

 

Being aninvalidJoseph Sedley contented himself witha bottleof claret besides his Madeira at dinnerandhe manageda couple of plates full of strawberries andcreamandtwenty-four little rout cakes that were lyingneglectedin a plate near himand certainly (fornovelistshave the privilege of knowing everything)he thoughta great deal about the girl upstairs.  "A nicegaymerryyoung creature" thought he to himself.  "Howshe lookedat me when I picked up her handkerchief atdinner! She dropped it twice.  Who's that singing in thedrawing-room?'Gad! shall I go up and see?"

 

But hismodesty came rushing upon him withuncontrollableforce.  His father was asleep: his hatwas in thehall: there was a hackney-coach standinghard by inSouthampton Row.  "I'll go and see the FortyThieves"said he"and Miss Decamp's dance"; and heslippedaway gently on the pointed toes of his bootsand disappearedwithout waking his worthy parent.

 

"Theregoes Joseph" said Ameliawho was lookingfrom theopen windows of the drawing-roomwhileRebeccawas singing at the piano.

 

"MissSharp has frightened him away" said Mrs.Sedley. "Poor Joewhy WILL he be so shy?"

 

 

 

 

CHAPTER IVTheGreen Silk Purse

 

Poor Joe'spanic lasted for two or three days; duringwhich hedid not visit the housenor during that perioddid MissRebecca ever mention his name.  She was allrespectfulgratitude to Mrs. Sedley; delighted beyondmeasure atthe Bazaars; and in a whirl of wonder at thetheatrewhither the good-natured lady took her.  OnedayAmelia had a headacheand could not go upon someparty ofpleasure to which the two young people wereinvited:nothing could induce her friend to go without her."What!you who have shown the poor orphan whathappinessand love are for the first time in her life--quitYOU? Never!"  and the green eyes looked up to Heavenand filledwith tears; and Mrs. Sedley could not but ownthat herdaughter's friend had a charming kind heartof herown.

 

As for Mr.Sedley's jokesRebecca laughed at themwith acordiality and perseverance which not a littlepleasedand softened that good-natured gentleman.  Norwas itwith the chiefs of the family alone that MissSharpfound favour.  She interested Mrs. Blenkinsop byevincingthe deepest sympathy in the raspberry-jampreservingwhich operation was then going on in theHousekeeper'sroom; she persisted in calling Sambo "Sir"and "Mr.Sambo" to the delight of that attendant; and sheapologisedto the lady's maid for giving her trouble inventuringto ring the bellwith such sweetness andhumilitythat the Servants' Hall was almost as charmedwith heras the Drawing Room.

 

Onceinlooking over some drawings which Ameliahad sentfrom schoolRebecca suddenly came upon onewhichcaused her to burst into tears and leave the room.It was onthe day when Joe Sedley made his secondappearance.

 

Ameliahastened after her friend to know the causeof thisdisplay of feelingand the good-natured girl camebackwithout her companionrather affected too.  "Youknowherfather was our drawing-masterMammaatChiswickand used to do all the best parts of our drawings."   "Mylove! I'm sure I always heard Miss Pinkerton saythat hedid not touch them--he only mounted them.""Itwas called mountingMamma.  Rebecca remembersthedrawingand her father working at itand thethought ofit came upon her rather suddenly--and soyou knowshe--"   "Thepoor child is all heart" said Mrs. Sedley.

 

"Iwish she could stay with us another week" saidAmelia.

 

"She'sdevilish like Miss Cutler that I used to meetat Dumdumonly fairer.  She's married now to LancetheArtillery Surgeon.  Do you knowMa'amthat onceQuintinof the 14thbet me--"

 

"0Josephwe know that story" said Amelialaughing.Never mindabout telling that; but persuade Mammato writeto Sir Something Crawley for leave of absencefor poordear Rebecca: here she comesher eyes redwithweeping."    "I'mbetternow" said the girlwith the sweetest smilepossibletaking good-natured Mrs. Sedley's extended handandkissing it respectfully.  "How kind you all are to me!All"she addedwith a laugh"except youMr. Joseph."    "Me!"said Josephmeditating an instant departure"GraciousHeavens! Good Gad! Miss Sharp!'    "Yes;how could you be so cruel as to make me eatthathorrid pepper-dish at dinnerthe first day I eversaw you?You are not so good to me as dear Amelia."    "Hedoesn't know you so well" cried Amelia.    "Idefy anybody not to be good to youmy dear"said hermother.    "Thecurry was capital; indeed it was" said Joequitegravely. "Perhaps there was NOT enough citron juice init--nothere was NOT."

 

"Andthe chilis?"

 

"ByJovehow they made you cry out!" said Joecaught bythe ridicule of the circumstanceandexplodingin a fit of laughter which ended quitesuddenlyas usual.

 

"Ishall take care how I let YOU choose for meanothertime" said Rebeccaas they went downagain todinner.  "I didn't think men were fond ofputtingpoor harmless girls to pain."

 

"ByGadMiss RebeccaI wouldn't hurt you for theworld."

 

"No"said she"I KNOW you wouldn't"; and then shegave himever so gentle a pressure with her little handand drewit back quite frightenedand looked first foroneinstant in his faceand then down at the carpet-rods; andI am not prepared to say that Joe's heart didnot thumpat this little involuntarytimidgentle motionof regardon the part of the simple girl.

 

It was anadvanceand as suchperhapssome ladiesofindisputable correctness and gentility will condemn theaction asimmodest; butyou seepoor dear Rebeccahad allthis work to do for herself.  If a person is toopoor tokeep a servantthough ever so eleganthe mustsweep hisown rooms: if a dear girl has no dear Mammato settlematters with the young manshe must do itforherself.  And ohwhat a mercy it is that these womendo notexercise their powers oftener! We can't resistthemifthey do.  Let them show ever so little inclinationand men godown on their knees at once: old or uglyit is allthe same.  And this I set down as a positivetruth. A woman with fair opportunitiesand without anabsolutehumpmay marry WHOM SHE LIKES.  Only let usbethankful that the darlings are like the beasts of thefieldanddon't know their own power.  They wouldovercomeus entirely if they did.

 

"Egad!"thought Josephentering the dining-room"Iexactlybegin to feel as I did at Dumdum with MissCutler."Many sweet little appealshalf tenderhalfjoculardid Miss Sharp make to him about the dishesat dinner;for by this time she was on a footing ofconsiderablefamiliarity with the familyand as for thegirlsthey loved each other like sisters.  Young unmarriedgirlsalways doif they are in a house together for tendays.

 

As if bentupon advancing Rebecca's plans in everyway--whatmust Amelia dobut remind her brother ofa promisemade last Easter holidays--"When I was agirl atschool" said shelaughing--a promise that heJosephwould take her to Vauxhall.  "Now" she said"thatRebecca is with uswill be the very time."

 

"Odelightful!" said Rebeccagoing to clap her hands;but sherecollected herselfand pausedlike a modestcreatureas she was.

 

"To-nightis not the night" said Joe. "Wellto-morrow." "To-morrowyour Papa and I dine out" said Mrs.Sedley.

 

"Youdon't suppose that I'm goingMrs. Sed?" saidherhusband"and that a woman of your years and sizeis tocatch coldin such an abominable damp place?"

 

'Thechildren must have someone with them" criedMrs.Sedley.

 

"LetJoe go" said-his fatherlaughing.  "He's bigenough."At which speech even Mr. Sambo at thesideboardburst out laughingand poor fat Joe feltinclinedto become a parricide almost.

 

"Undohis stays!" continued the pitiless old gentleman."Flingsome water in his faceMiss Sharpor carry himupstairs:the dear creature's fainting.  Poor victim! carryhim up;he's as light as a feather!"

 

"If Istand thissirI'm d--!" roared Joseph.

 

"OrderMr. Jos's elephantSambo!" cried the father."Sendto Exeter 'ChangeSambo"; but seeing Jos readyalmost tocry with vexationthe old joker stopped hislaughterand saidholding out his hand to his son"It'sall fairon the Stock ExchangeJos--andSambonevermind theelephantbut give me and Mr. Jos a glass ofChampagne. Boney himself hasn't got such in his cellarmy boy!"

 

A gobletof Champagne restored Joseph's equanimityand beforethe bottle was emptiedof which as an invalidhe tooktwo-thirdshe had agreed to take the youngladies toVauxhall.

 

"Thegirls must have a gentleman apiece" said the oldgentleman. "Jos will be sure to leave Emmy in the crowdhe will beso taken up with Miss Sharp here.  Send to 96and askGeorge Osborne if he'll come."

 

At thisIdon't know in the least for what reasonMrs.Sedley looked at her husband and laughed.  Mr.Sedley'seyes twinkled in a manner indescribablyroguishand he looked at Amelia; and Ameliahangingdown herheadblushed as only young ladies of seventeenknow howto blushand as Miss Rebecca Sharp neverblushed inher life--at least not since she was eightyears oldand when she was caught stealing jam out ofa cupboardby her godmother.  "Amelia had better writea note"said her father; "and let George Osborne seewhat abeautiful handwriting we have brought back fromMissPinkerton's.  Do you remember when you wrote tohim tocome on Twelfth-nightEmmyand spelt twelfthwithoutthe f?"

 

"Thatwas years ago" said Amelia.

 

"Itseems like yesterdaydon't itJohn?" said Mrs.Sedley toher husband; and that night in a conversationwhich tookplace in a front room in the second floorin a sortof tenthung round with chintz of a rich andfantasticIndia patternand double with calico of atenderrose-colour; in the interior of which species ofmarqueewas a featherbedon which were two pillowson whichwere two round red facesone in a lacednightcapand one in a simple cotton oneending in a tassel--in ACURTAIN LECTUREI sayMrs. Sedley took herhusband totask for his cruel conduct to poor Joe.

 

"Itwas quite wicked of youMr. Sedley" said she"totorment the poor boy so."

 

"Mydear" said the cotton-tassel in defence of hisconduct"Jos is a great deal vainer than you ever werein yourlifeand that's saying a good deal.  Thoughsomethirtyyears agoin the year seventeen hundred andeighty--whatwas it?--perhaps you had a right to bevain--Idon't say no.  But I've no patience with Jos andhisdandified modesty.  It is out-Josephing Josephmy dearand allthe while the boy is only thinking of himselfand what afine fellow he is.  I doubtMa'amwe shallhave sometrouble with him yet.  Here is Emmy's littlefriendmaking love to him as hard as she can; that'squiteclear; and if she does not catch him some otherwill. That man is destined to be a prey to womanasI am to goon 'Change every day.  It's a mercy he didnot bringus over a black daughter-in-lawmy dear.  Butmark mywordsthe first woman who fishes for himhookshim."

 

"Sheshall go off to-morrowthe little artful creature"said Mrs.Sedleywith great energy.

 

"Whynot she as well as anotherMrs. Sedley? Thegirl's awhite face at any rate.  I don't care who marrieshim. Let Joe please himself."

 

Andpresently the voices of the two speakers werehushedorwere replaced by the gentle but unromanticmusic ofthe nose; and save when the church bellstolled thehour and the watchman called itall wassilent atthe house of John SedleyEsquireof RussellSquareand the Stock Exchange.

 

Whenmorning camethe good-natured Mrs. Sedley nolongerthought of executing her threats with regard toMissSharp; for though nothing is more keennor morecommonnor more justifiablethan maternal jealousyyet shecould not bring herself to suppose that the littlehumblegratefulgentle governess would dare to lookup to sucha magnificent personage as the Collector ofBoggleyWollah.  The petitiontoofor an extension ofthe younglady's leave of absence had already beendespatchedand it would be difficult to find a pretext forabruptlydismissing her.

 

And as ifall things conspired in favour of the gentleRebeccathe very elements (although she was notinclinedat first to acknowledge their action in her behalf)interposedto aid her.  For on the evening appointed fortheVauxhall partyGeorge Osborne having come todinnerand the elders of the house having departedaccordingto invitationto dine with Alderman Balls atHighburyBarnthere came on such a thunder-storm as onlyhappens onVauxhall nightsand as obliged the youngpeopleperforceto remain at home.  Mr. Osborne didnot seemin the least disappointed at this occurrence.He andJoseph Sedley drank a fitting quantity ofport-winetete-a-tetein the dining-roomduring thedrinkingof which Sedley told a number of his best Indianstories;for he was extremely talkative in man's society;andafterwards Miss Amelia Sedley did the honours ofthedrawing-room; and these four young persons passedsuch acomfortable evening togetherthat they declaredthey wererather glad of the thunder-storm thanotherwisewhich had caused them to put off theirvisit toVauxhall.

 

Osbornewas Sedley's godsonand had been one of thefamily anytime these three-and-twenty years.  At sixweeks oldhe had received from John Sedley a presentof asilver cup; at six months olda coral with goldwhistleand bells; from his youth upwards he was"tipped"regularly by the old gentleman at Christmas:and ongoing back to schoolhe remembered perfectlywell beingthrashed by Joseph Sedleywhen the latterwas a bigswaggering hobbadyhoyand George animpudenturchin of ten years old.  In a wordGeorge wasasfamiliar with the family as such daily acts ofkindnessand intercourse could make him.

 

"Doyou rememberSedleywhat a fury you were inwhen I cutoff the tassels of your Hessian bootsandhowMiss--hem!--how Amelia rescued me from abeatingby falling down on her knees and crying out toherbrother Josnot to beat little George?"

 

Josremembered this remarkable circumstanceperfectlywellbut vowed that he had totallyforgottenit.

 

"Welldo you remember coming down in a gig to Dr.Swishtail'sto see mebefore you went to Indiaandgiving mehalf a guinea and a pat on the head? I alwayshad anidea that you were at least seven feet highandwas quiteastonished at your return from India to findyou notaller than myself."

 

"Howgood of Mr. Sedley to go to your school andgive youthe money!" exclaimed Rebeccain accents ofextremedelight.

 

"Yesand after I had cut the tassels of his boots too.Boys neverforget those tips at schoolnor the givers."

 

"Idelight in Hessian boots" said Rebecca.  Jos Sedleywhoadmired his own legs prodigiouslyand alwayswore thisornamental chaussurewas extremely pleasedat thisremarkthough he drew his legs under his chairas it wasmade.

 

"MissSharp!" said George Osborne"you who areso cleveran artistyou must make a grand historicalpicture ofthe scene of the boots.  Sedley shall berepresentedin buckskinsand holding one of theinjuredboots in one hand; by the other he shall havehold of myshirt-frill.  Amelia shall be kneeling near himwith herlittle hands up; and the picture shall have agrandallegorical titleas the frontispieces have in theMedullaand the spelling-book."

 

"Ishan't have time to do it here" said Rebecca.  'I'lldo itwhen--when I'm gone." And she dropped her voiceand lookedso sad and piteousthat everybody felt howcruel herlot wasand how sorry they would be topart withher.

 

"Othat you could stay longerdear Rebecca" saidAmelia.

 

"Why?"answered the otherstill more sadly.  "ThatI may beonly the more unhap--unwilling to lose you?"And sheturned away her head.  Amelia began to giveway tothat natural infirmity of tears whichwe havesaidwasone of the defects of this silly little thing.  GeorgeOsbornelooked at the two young women with a touchedcuriosity;and Joseph Sedley heaved something very likea sigh outof his big chestas he cast his eyes downtowardshis favourite Hessian boots.

 

"Letus have some musicMiss Sedley--Amelia" saidGeorgewho felt at that moment an extraordinaryalmostirresistible impulse to seize the above-mentionedyoungwoman in his armsand to kiss her in the face ofthecompany; and she looked at him for a momentandif Ishould say that they fell in love with each other atthatsingle instant of timeI should perhaps be tellinganuntruthfor the fact is that these two young peoplehad beenbred up by their parents for this very purposeand theirbanns hadas it werebeen read in theirrespectivefamilies any time these ten years.  They wentoff to thepianowhich was situatedas pianos usuallyareinthe back drawing-room; and as it was rather darkMissAmeliain the most unaffected way in the worldput herhand into Mr. Osborne'swhoof coursecouldsee theway among the chairs and ottomans a great dealbetterthan she could.  But this arrangement left Mr.JosephSedley tete-a-tete with Rebeccaat thedrawing-roomtablewhere the latter was occupiedinknitting a green silk purse.

 

"Thereis no need to ask family secrets" said MissSharp. "Those two have told theirs."

 

"Assoon as he gets his company" said Joseph"Ibelievethe affair is settled.  George Osborne is a capitalfellow."

 

"Andyour sister the dearest creature in the world"saidRebecca.  "Happy the man who wins her!" WiththisMissSharp gave a great sigh.

 

When twounmarried persons get togetherand talkupon suchdelicate subjects as the presenta great dealofconfidence and intimacy is presently establishedbetweenthem.  There is no need of giving a special reportof theconversation which now took place between Mr.Sedley andthe young lady; for the conversationas maybe judgedfrom the foregoing specimenwas not especiallywitty oreloquent; it seldom is in private societiesoranywhereexcept in very high-flown and ingenious novels.As therewas music in the next roomthe talk wascarriedonof coursein a low and becoming tonethoughfor thematter of thatthe couple in the next apartmentwould nothave been disturbed had the talking been everso loudso occupied were they with their own pursuits.

 

Almost forthe first time in his lifeMr. Sedley foundhimselftalkingwithout the least timidity or hesitationto aperson of the other sex.  Miss Rebecca asked him agreatnumber of questions about Indiawhich gave himanopportunity of narrating many interesting anecdotesabout thatcountry and himself.  He described the ballsatGovernment Houseand the manner in which theykeptthemselves cool in the hot weatherwith punkahstattiesand other contrivances; and he was very wittyregardingthe number of Scotchmen whom Lord MintotheGovernor-Generalpatronised; and then he describedatiger-hunt; and the manner in which the mahout of hiselephanthad been pulled off his seat by one of theinfuriatedanimals.  How delighted Miss Rebecca was attheGovernment ballsand how she laughed at the storiesof theScotch aides-de-campand called Mr. Sedley asad wickedsatirical creature; and how frightened she wasJosephSedley tete-a-tete with Rebeccaat thedrawing-roomtablewhere the latter was occupiedinknitting a green silk purse.

 

"Thereis no need to ask family secrets" said MissSharp. "Those two have told theirs."

 

"Assoon as he gets his company" said Joseph"Ibelievethe affair is settled.  George Osborne is a capitalfellow."

 

"Andyour sister the dearest creature in the world"saidRebecca.  "Happy the man who wins her!" WiththisMissSharp gave a great sigh.

 

When twounmarried persons get togetherand talkupon suchdelicate subjects as the presenta great dealofconfidence and intimacy is presently establishedbetweenthem.  There is no need of giving a special reportof theconversation which now took place between Mr.Sedley andthe young lady; for the conversationas maybe judgedfrom the foregoing specimenwas not especiallywitty oreloquent; it seldom is in private societiesoranywhereexcept in very high-flown and ingenious novels.As therewas music in the next roomthe talk wascarriedonof coursein a low and becoming tonethoughfor thematter of thatthe couple in the next apartmentwould nothave been disturbed had the talking been everso loudso occupied were they with their own pursuits.

 

Almost forthe first time in his lifeMr. Sedley foundhimselftalkingwithout the least timidity or hesitationto aperson of the other sex.  Miss Rebecca asked him agreatnumber of questions about Indiawhich gave himanopportunity of narrating many interesting anecdotesabout thatcountry and himself.  He described the ballsatGovernment Houseand the manner in which theykeptthemselves cool in the hot weatherwith punkahstattiesand other contrivances; and he was very wittyregardingthe number of Scotchmen whom Lord MintotheGovernor-Generalpatronised; and then he describedatiger-hunt; and the manner in which the mahout of hiselephanthad been pulled off his seat by one of theinfuriatedanimals.  How delighted Miss Rebecca was attheGovernment ballsand how she laughed at the storiesof theScotch aides-de-campand called Mr. Sedley asad wickedsatirical creature; and how frightened she wasat thestory of the elephant! "For your mother's sakedear Mr.Sedley" she said"for the sake of all yourfriendspromise NEVER to go on one of those horridexpeditions."

 

"PoohpoohMiss Sharp" said hepulling up his shirt-collars;"the danger makes the sport only the pleasanter."He hadnever been but once at a tiger-huntwhen theaccidentin question occurredand when he was halfkilled--notby the tigerbut by the fright.  And as hetalked onhe grew quite boldand actually had theaudacityto ask Miss Rebecca for whom she wasknittingthe green silk purse? He was quite surprisedanddelighted at his own graceful familiar manner.

 

"Forany one who wants a purse" replied MissRebeccalooking at him in the most gentle winning way.Sedley wasgoing to make one of the most eloquentspeechespossibleand had begun--"O Miss Sharphow--"when some song which was performed in theother roomcame to an endand caused him to hearhis ownvoice so distinctly that he stoppedblushedandblew hisnose in great agitation.

 

"Didyou ever hear anything like your brother'seloquence?"whispered Mr. Osborne to Amelia.  "Whyyourfriend has worked miracles."

 

"Themore the better" said Miss Amelia; wholikealmost allwomen who are worth a pinwas a match-maker inher heartand would have been delighted thatJosephshould carry back a wife to India.  She hadtooin thecourse of this few days' constant intercoursewarmedinto a most tender friendship for Rebeccaanddiscovereda million of virtues and amiable qualities inher whichshe had not perceived when they were atChiswicktogether.  For the affection of young ladies isof asrapid growth as Jack's bean-stalkand reaches upto the skyin a night.  It is no blame to them that aftermarriagethis Sehnsucht nach der Liebe subsides.  It iswhatsentimentalistswho deal in very big wordscall ayearningafter the Idealand simply means that womenarecommonly not satisfied until they have husbandsandchildren on whom they may centre affectionswhichare spentelsewhereas it werein small change.

 

Havingexpended her little store of songsor havingstayedlong enough in the back drawing-roomit nowappearedproper to Miss Amelia to ask her friend tosing. "You would not have listened to me" she said toMr.Osborne (though she knew she was telling a fib)"hadyou heard Rebecca first."

 

"Igive Miss Sharp warningthough" said Osborne"thatright or wrongI consider Miss Amelia Sedleythe firstsinger in the world."

 

"Youshall hear" said Amelia; and Joseph Sedley wasactuallypolite enough to carry the candles to the piano.Osbornehinted that he should like quite as well to sitin thedark; but Miss Sedleylaughingdeclined to bearhimcompany any fartherand the two accordinglyfollowedMr. Joseph.  Rebecca sang far better than herfriend(though of course Osborne was free to keep hisopinion)and exerted herself to the utmostandindeedtothe wonder of Ameliawho had never knownherperform so well.  She sang a French songwhichJoseph didnot understand in the leastand which Georgeconfessedhe did not understandand then a number ofthosesimple ballads which were the fashion forty yearsagoandin which British tarsour Kingpoor Susanblue-eyedMaryand the likewere the principal themes.They arenotit is saidvery brilliantin a musical pointof viewbut contain numberless good-naturedsimpleappeals tothe affectionswhich people understood betterthan themilk-and-water lagrimesospiriand felicitaof theeternal Donizettian music with which we arefavourednow-a-days.

 

Conversationof a sentimental sortbefitting thesubjectwas carried on between the songsto whichSamboafter he had brought the teathe delighted cookand evenMrs. Blenkinsopthe housekeepercondescendedto listenon the landing-place.

 

Amongthese ditties was onethe last of the concertand to thefollowing effect:

 

Ah!bleak and barren was the moorAh!loud and piercing was the stormThecottage roof was shelter'd sureThecottage hearth was bright and warm--Anorphan boy the lattice pass'dAndashe mark'd its cheerful glowFeltdoubly keen the midnight blastAnddoubly cold the fallen snow.  Theymark'd him as he onward prestWithfainting heart and weary limb;Kindvoices bade him turn and restAndgentle faces welcomed him.Thedawn is up--the guest is goneThecottage hearth is blazing still;Heavenpity all poor wanderers lone!Hark tothe wind upon the hill!

 

It was thesentiment of the before-mentioned words"WhenI'm gone" over again.  As she came to the lastwordsMiss Sharp's "deep-toned voice faltered."Everybodyfelt the allusion to her departureand to herhaplessorphan state.  Joseph Sedleywho was fond of musicandsoft-heartedwas in a state of ravishment during theperformanceof the songand profoundly touched at itsconclusion. If he had had the courage; if George and MissSedley hadremainedaccording to the former's proposalin thefarther roomJoseph Sedley's bachelorhood wouldhave beenat an endand this work would never havebeenwritten.  But at the close of the dittyRebecca quittedthe pianoand giving her hand to Ameliawalked awayinto thefront drawing-room twilight; andat thismomentMr. Sambo made his appearance with a traycontainingsandwichesjelliesand some glittering glassesanddecanterson which Joseph Sedley's attention wasimmediatelyfixed.  When the parents of the house of Sedleyreturnedfrom their dinner-partythey found the youngpeople sobusy in talkingthat they had not heard thearrival ofthe carriageand Mr. Joseph was in the act ofsaying"My dear Miss Sharpone little teaspoonful ofjelly torecruit you after your immense--your--yourdelightfulexertions."

 

"BravoJos!" said Mr. Sedley; on hearing the banteringof whichwell-known voiceJos instantly relapsedinto analarmed silenceand quickly took his departure.He did notlie awake all night thinking whether or not hewas inlove with Miss Sharp; the passion of love neverinterferedwith the appetite or the slumber of Mr. JosephSedley;but he thought to himself how delightful it wouldbe to hearsuch songs as those after Cutcherry--what adistingueegirl she was--how she could speak Frenchbetterthan the Governor-General's lady herself--andwhat asensation she would make at the Calcutta balls."It'sevident the poor devil's in love with me" thoughthe. "She is just as rich as most of the girls who comeout toIndia.  I might go fartherand fare worseegad!"And inthese meditations he fell asleep.

 

How MissSharp lay awakethinkingwill he come ornotto-morrow? need not be told here.  To-morrow cameandassure as fateMr. Joseph Sedley made hisappearancebefore luncheon.  He had never been knownbefore toconfer such an honour on Russell Square.  GeorgeOsbornewas somehow there already (sadly "putting out"Ameliawho was writing to her twelve dearest friends atChiswickMall)and Rebecca was employed upon heryesterday'swork.  As Joe's buggy drove upand whileafterhis usualthundering knock and pompous bustle at thedoortheex-Collector of Boggley Wollah laboured upstairs tothe drawing-roomknowing glances weretelegraphedbetween Osborne and Miss Sedleyand the pairsmilingarchlylooked at Rebeccawho actually blushedas shebent her fair ringlets over her knitting.  How herheart beatas Joseph appeared--Josephpuffing from thestaircasein shining creaking boots--Josephin a newwaistcoatred with heat and nervousnessand blushingbehind hiswadded neckcloth.  It was a nervous momentfor all;and as for AmeliaI think she was more frightenedthan eventhe people most concerned.

 

Sambowhoflung open the door and announced Mr.Josephfollowed grinningin the Collector's rearandbearingtwo handsome nosegays of flowerswhich themonsterhad actually had the gallantry to purchase inCoventGarden Market that morning--they were not asbig as thehaystacks which ladies carry about with themnow-a-daysin cones of filigree paper; but the youngwomen weredelighted with the giftas Joseph presentedone toeachwith an exceedingly solemn bow.

 

"BravoJos!" cried Osborne.

 

"Thankyoudear Joseph" said Ameliaquite ready tokiss herbrotherif he were so minded.  (And I think fora kissfrom such a dear creature as AmeliaI wouldpurchaseall Mr. Lee's conservatories out of hand.)

 

"Oheavenlyheavenly flowers!" exclaimed Miss Sharpand smeltthem delicatelyand held them to her bosomand castup her eyes to the ceilingin an ecstasy ofadmiration. Perhaps she just looked first into the bouquetto seewhether there was a billet-doux hidden among theflowers;but there was no letter.

 

"Dothey talk the language of flowers at BoggleyWollahSedley?" asked Osbornelaughing.

 

"Poohnonsense!" replied the sentimental youth."Bought'em at Nathan's; very glad you like 'em; and ehAmeliamydearI bought a pine-apple at the sametimewhich I gave to Sambo.  Let's have it for tiffin;very cooland nice this hot weather." Rebecca said shehad nevertasted a pineand longed beyond everythingto tasteone.

 

So theconversation went on.  I don't know on whatpretextOsborne left the roomor whypresentlyAmeliawent awayperhaps to superintend the slicing of thepine-apple;but Jos was left alone with Rebeccawho hadresumedher workand the green silk and the shiningneedleswere quivering rapidly under her white slenderfingers.

 

"Whata beautifulBYOO-OOTIFUL song that was you sanglastnightdear Miss Sharp" said the Collector.  "It mademe cryalmost; 'pon my honour it did."

 

"Becauseyou have a kind heartMr. Joseph; all theSedleyshaveI think."

 

"Itkept me awake last nightand I was trying to humit thismorningin bed; I wasupon my honour.  Gollopmy doctorcame in at eleven (for I'm a sad invalidyouknowandsee Gollop every day)and'gad! there Iwassinging away like--a robin."

 

"Oyou droll creature! Do let me hear you sing it."

 

"Me?NoyouMiss Sharp; my dear Miss Sharpdosing it.

 

"NotnowMr. Sedley" said Rebeccawith a sigh.  "Myspiritsare not equal to it; besidesI must finish thepurse. Will you help meMr. Sedley?" And before he hadtime toask howMr. Joseph Sedleyof the East IndiaCompany'sservicewas actually seated tete-a-tete witha youngladylooking at her with a most killing expression;his armsstretched out before her in an imploring attitudeand hishands bound in a web of green silkwhich shewasunwinding.

 

In thisromantic position Osborne and Amelia foundtheinteresting pairwhen they entered to announce thattiffin wasready.  The skein of silk was just wound roundthe card;but Mr. Jos had never spoken.

 

"I amsure he will to-nightdear" Amelia saidas shepressedRebecca's hand; and Sedleytoohad communedwith hissouland said to himself" 'GadI'll pop thequestionat Vauxhall."

 

 

 

CHAPTER VDobbinof Ours

 

Cuff'sfight with Dobbinand the unexpected issue ofthatcontestwill long be remembered by every man whowaseducated at Dr. Swishtail's famous school.  The latterYouth (whoused to be called Heigh-ho DobbinGee-hoDobbinand by many other names indicative of puerilecontempt)was the quietestthe clumsiestandas itseemedthe dullest of all Dr. Swishtail's young gentlemen.His parentwas a grocer in the city: and it was bruitedabroadthat he was admitted into Dr. Swishtail's academyupon whatare called "mutual principles"--that is tosaytheexpenses of his board and schooling weredefrayedby his father in goodsnot money; and hestoodthere--most at the bottom of the school--in hisscraggycorduroys and jacketthrough the seams ofwhich hisgreat big bones were bursting--as therepresentativeof so many pounds of teacandlessugarmottled-soapplums (of which a very mildproportionwas supplied for the puddings of theestablishment)and other commodities.  A dreadfulday it wasfor young Dobbin when one of theyoungstersof the schoolhaving run into the town upona poachingexcursion for hardbake and poloniesespiedthe cartof Dobbin & RudgeGrocers and OilmenThamesStreetLondonat the Doctor's doordischarging a cargoof thewares in which the firm dealt.

 

YoungDobbin had no peace after that.  The jokes werefrightfuland merciless against him.  "HulloDobbin" onewag wouldsay"here's good news in the paper.  Sugarsis ris'my boy." Another would set a sum--"If a poundofmutton-candles cost sevenpence-halfpennyhow muchmustDobbin cost?" and a roar would follow from all thecircle ofyoung knavesusher and allwho rightlyconsideredthat the selling of goods by retail is a shamefulandinfamous practicemeriting the contempt and scornof allreal gentlemen.

 

"Yourfather's only a merchantOsborne" Dobbin saidin privateto the little boy who had brought down thestorm uponhim.  At which the latter replied haughtily"Myfather's a gentlemanand keeps his carriage"; andMr.William Dobbin retreated to a remote outhouse intheplaygroundwhere he passed a half-holiday in thebitterestsadness and woe.  Who amongst us is there thatdoes notrecollect similar hours of bitterbitter childishgrief? Whofeels injustice; who shrinks before a slight;who has asense of wrong so acuteand so glowing agratitudefor kindnessas a generous boy? and how manyof thosegentle souls do you degradeestrangetorturefor thesake of a little loose arithmeticand miserabledog-latin?

 

NowWilliam Dobbinfrom an incapacity to acquiretherudiments of the above languageas they arepropoundedin that wonderful book the Eton Latin Grammarwascompelled to remain among the very last of DoctorSwishtail'sscholarsand was "taken down" continually bylittlefellows with pink faces and pinafores when hemarched upwith the lower forma giant amongst themwith hisdowncaststupefied lookhis dog's-eared primerand histight corduroys.  High and lowall made fun ofhim. They sewed up those corduroystight as they were.They cuthis bed-strings.  They upset buckets and benchesso that hemight break his shins over themwhich heneverfailed to do.  They sent him parcelswhichwhen                                  openedwere found to contain the paternal soap andcandles. There was no little fellow but had his jeer andjoke atDobbin; and he bore everything quite patientlyand wasentirely dumb and miserable.

 

Cuffonthe contrarywas the great chief and dandy oftheSwishtail Seminary.  He smuggled wine in.  He foughtthetown-boys.  Ponies used to come for him to ride homeonSaturdays.  He had his top-boots in his roomin whichhe used tohunt in the holidays.  He had a gold repeater:and tooksnuff like the Doctor.  He had been to the Operaand knewthe merits of the principal actorspreferringMr. Keanto Mr. Kemble.  He could knock you off fortyLatinverses in an hour.  He could make French poetry.What elsedidn't he knowor couldn't he do? They saideven theDoctor himself was afraid of him.

 

Cufftheunquestioned king of the schoolruled overhissubjectsand bullied themwith splendid superiority.This oneblacked his shoes: that toasted his breadotherswould fagoutand give him balls at cricket during wholesummerafternoons.  "Figs" was the fellow whom hedespisedmostand with whomthough always abusing himandsneering at himhe scarcely ever condescended toholdpersonal communication.

 

One day inprivatethe two young gentlemen had hadadifference.  Figsalone in the schoolroomwasblunderingover a home letter; when Cuffenteringbade himgo upon some messageof which tarts wereprobablythe subject.

 

"Ican't" says Dobbin; "I want to finish my letter."

 

"YouCAN'T?" says Mr. Cufflaying hold of thatdocument(in which many words were scratched outmany weremis-spelton which had been spent I don'tknow howmuch thoughtand labourand tears; for thepoorfellow was writing to his motherwho was fond ofhimalthough she was a grocer's wifeand lived in a backparlour inThames Street).  "You CAN'T?" says Mr. Cuff:"Ishould like to know whypray? Can't you write to oldMotherFigs to-morrow?"

 

"Don'tcall names" Dobbin saidgetting off the benchverynervous.

 

"Wellsirwill you go?" crowed the cock of the school.

 

"Putdown the letter" Dobbin replied; "no gentlemanreadthletterth."

 

"WellNOW will you go?" says the other.

 

"NoI won't.  Don't strikeor I'll THMASH you" roarsoutDobbinspringing to a leaden inkstandand lookingso wickedthat Mr. Cuff pausedturned down his coatsleevesagainput his hands into his pocketsand walkedaway witha sneer.  But he never meddled.personally withthegrocer's boy after that; though we must do him thejustice tosay he always spoke of Mr. Dobbin with con-temptbehind his back.

 

Some timeafter this interviewit happened that Mr.Cuffon asunshiny afternoonwas in the neighbourhoodof poorWilliam Dobbinwho was lying under a tree intheplaygroundspelling over a favourite copy of theArabianNights which he had apart from the rest of theschoolwho were pursuing their various sports--quitelonelyand almost happy.  If people would but leavechildrento themselves; if teachers would cease to bullythem; ifparents would not insist upon directing theirthoughtsand dominating their feelings--those feelingsandthoughts which are a mystery to all (for how muchdo you andI know of each otherof our childrenof ourfathersof our neighbourand how far more beautiful andsacred arethe thoughts of the poor lad or girl whom yougovernlikely to bethan those of the dull and world-corruptedperson who rules him?)--ifI sayparents andmasterswould leave their children alone a little moresmall harmwould accruealthough a less quantity ofas inpraesenti might be acquired.

 

WellWilliam Dobbin had for once forgotten the worldand wasaway with Sindbad the Sailor in the Valley ofDiamondsor with Prince Ahmed and the Fairy Peribanouin thatdelightful cavern where the Prince found herandwhither weshould all like to make a tour; when shrillcriesasof a little fellow weepingwoke up his pleasantreverie;and looking uphe saw Cuff before himbelabouringa little boy.

 

It was thelad who had peached upon him about thegrocer'scart; but he bore little malicenot at leasttowardsthe young and small.  "How dare yousirbreakthebottle?" says Cuff to the little urchinswinging ayellowcricket-stump over him.

 

The boyhad been instructed to get over the playgroundwall (at aselected spot where the broken glass had beenremovedfrom the topand niches made convenient inthebrick); to run a quarter of a mile; to purchase a pintofrum-shrub on credit; to brave all the Doctor's outlyingspiesandto clamber back into the playground again;during theperformance of which feathis foot had sliptand thebottle was brokenand the shrub had been spiltand hispantaloons had been damagedand he appearedbefore hisemployer a perfectly guilty and tremblingthoughharmlesswretch.

 

"Howdare yousirbreak it?" says Cuff; "you blunderinglittlethief.  You drank the shruband now you pretendto havebroken the bottle.  Hold out your handsir."

 

Down camethe stump with a great heavy thump onthechild's hand.  A moan followed.  Dobbin looked up.The FairyPeribanou had fled into the inmost cavernwithPrince Ahmed: the Roc had whisked away Sindbadthe Sailorout of the Valley of Diamonds out of sightfarinto theclouds: and there was everyday life beforehonestWilliam; and a big boy beating a little onewithoutcause.

 

"Holdout your other handsir" roars Cuff to his littleschoolfellowwhose face was distorted with pain.Dobbinquiveredand gathered himself up in his narrow oldclothes.

 

"Takethatyou little devil!" cried Mr. Cuffand downcame thewicket again on the child's hand.--Don't behorrifiedladiesevery boy at a public school has done it.Yourchildren will so do and be done byin allprobability. Down came the wicket again; and Dobbinstartedup. I can'ttell what his motive was.  Torture in a publicschool isas much licensed as the knout in Russia.  Itwould beungentlemanlike (in a manner) to resist it.PerhapsDobbin's foolish soul revolted against that exerciseoftyranny; or perhaps he had a hankering feeling ofrevenge inhis mindand longed to measure himselfagainstthat splendid bully and tyrantwho had all theglorypridepompcircumstancebanners flyingdrumsbeatingguards salutingin the place.  Whatever may havebeen hisincentivehoweverup he sprangand screamedout"HoldoffCuff; don't bully that child any more; orI'll--"

 

"Oryou'll what?" Cuff asked in amazement at thisinterruption. "Hold out your handyou little beast."

 

"I'llgive you the worst thrashing you ever had in yourlife"Dobbin saidin reply to the first part of Cuff'ssentence;and little Osbornegasping and in tearslookedup withwonder and incredulity at seeing this amazingchampionput up suddenly to defend him: while Cuff'sastonishmentwas scarcely less.  Fancy our late monarchGeorge IIIwhen he heard of the revolt of the NorthAmericancolonies: fancy brazen Goliath when littleDavidstepped forward and claimed a meeting; and youhave thefeelings of Mr. Reginald Cuff when thisrencontrewas proposed to him.

 

"Afterschool" says heof course; after a pause and alookasmuch as to say"Make your willandcommunicateyour last wishes to your friendsbetweenthis time and that."

 

"Asyou please" Dobbin said.  "You must be my bottleholderOsborne."

 

"Wellif you like" little Osborne replied; for you seehis papakept a carriageand he was rather ashamed ofhischampion.

 

Yeswhenthe hour of battle camehe was almostashamed tosay"Go itFigs"; and not a single other boyin theplace uttered that cry for the first two or threerounds ofthis famous combat; at the commencement ofwhich thescientific Cuffwith a contemptuous smile onhis faceand as light and as gay as if he was at a ballplantedhis blows upon his adversaryand floored thatunluckychampion three times running.  At each fall therewas acheer; and everybody was anxious to have thehonour ofoffering the conqueror a knee.

 

"Whata licking I shall get when it's over" youngOsbornethoughtpicking up his man.  "You'd best give in"he said toDobbin; "it's only a thrashingFigsand youknow I'mused to it." But Figsall whose limbs were in aquiverand whose nostrils were breathing rageput hislittlebottle-holder asideand went in for a fourth time. As he didnot in the least know how to parry the blowsthat wereaimed at himselfand Cuff had begun theattack onthe three preceding occasionswithout everallowinghis enemy to strikeFigs now determined that hewouldcommence the engagement by a charge on his ownpart; andaccordinglybeing a left-handed manbroughtthat arminto actionand hit out a couple of times withall hismight--once at Mr. Cuff's left eyeand once on hisbeautifulRoman nose. Cuff wentdown this timeto the astonishment of theassembly. "Well hitby Jove" says little Osbornewiththe air ofa connoisseurclapping his man on the back."Giveit him with the leftFigs my boy." Figs'sleft made terrific play during all the rest of thecombat. Cuff went down every time.  At the sixth roundthere werealmost as many fellows shouting out"Go itFigs"as there were youths exclaiming"Go itCuff." Atthetwelfth round the latter champion was all abroadasthe sayingisand had lost all presence of mind and powerof attackor defence.  Figson the contrarywas as calmas aquaker.  His face being quite palehis eyes shiningopenanda great cut on his underlip bleeding profuselygave thisyoung fellow a fierce and ghastly airwhichperhapsstruck terror into many spectators.  Neverthelesshisintrepid adversary prepared to close for thethirteenthtime. If I hadthe pen of a Napieror a Bell's LifeI shouldlike todescribe this combat properly.  It was the lastcharge ofthe Guard--(that isit would have beenonlyWaterloohad not yet taken place)--it was Ney's columnbreastingthe hill of La Haye Saintebristling with tenthousandbayonetsand crowned with twenty eagles--itwas theshout of the beef-eating Britishas leaping downthe hillthey rushed to hug the enemy in the savage armsofbattle--in other wordsCuff coming up full of pluckbut quitereeling and groggythe Fig-merchant put in hisleft asusual on his adversary's noseand sent him downfor thelast time.

 

"Ithink that will do for him" Figs saidas his opponentdropped asneatly on the green as I have seen JackSpot'sball plump into the pocket at billiards; and thefact iswhen time was calledMr. Reginald Cuff was notableordid not chooseto stand up again.

 

And nowall the boys set up such a shout for Figs aswould havemade you think he had been their darlingchampionthrough the whole battle; and as absolutelybroughtDr. Swishtail out of his studycurious to knowthe causeof the uproar.  He threatened to flog Figsviolentlyof course; but Cuffwho had come to himselfby thistimeand was washing his woundsstood up andsaid"It's my faultsir--not Figs'--not Dobbin's.  I wasbullying alittle boy; and he served me right." By whichmagnanimousspeech he not only saved his conqueror awhippingbut got back all his ascendancy over the boyswhich hisdefeat had nearly cost him.

 

YoungOsborne wrote home to his parents an accountof thetransaction.

 

SugarcaneHouseRichmondMarch18--

 

DEARMAMA--I hope you are quite well.  I should bemuchobliged to you to send me a cake and five shillings.There hasbeen a fight here between Cuff & Dobbin.Cuffyouknowwas the Cock of the School.  Theyfoughtthirteen roundsand Dobbin Licked.  So Cuff isnow OnlySecond Cock.  The fight was about me.  Cuffwaslicking me for breaking a bottle of milkand Figswouldn'tstand it.  We call him Figs because his father isaGrocer--Figs & RudgeThames St.City--I think ashe foughtfor me you ought to buy your Tea & Sugarat hisfather's.  Cuff goes home every Saturdaybut can'tthisbecause he has 2 Black Eyes.  He has a white Ponyto comeand fetch himand a groom in livery on a baymare. I wish my Papa would let me have a Ponyand Iam

 

Yourdutiful SonGEORGESEDLEY OSBORNE

 

 P.S.--Give my love to little Emmy.  I am cutting herout aCoach in cardboard.  Please not a seed-cakebut aplum-cake.

 

Inconsequence of Dobbin's victoryhis character roseprodigiouslyin the estimation of all his schoolfellowsandthe nameof Figswhich had been a byword of reproachbecame asrespectable and popular a nickname as anyother inuse in the school.  "After allit's not his faultthat hisfather's a grocer" George Osborne saidwhothough alittle chaphad a very high popularity amongtheSwishtail youth; and his opinion was received withgreatapplause.  It was voted low to sneer at Dobbinabout thisaccident of birth.  "Old Figs" grew to be aname ofkindness and endearment; and the sneak of anusherjeered at him no longer.

 

AndDobbin's spirit rose with his altered circumstances.He madewonderful advances in scholastic learning.  ThesuperbCuff himselfat whose condescension Dobbincould onlyblush and wonderhelped him on with hisLatinverses; "coached" him in play-hours: carried himtriumphantlyout of the little-boy class into the middle-sizedform; and even there got a fair place for him.  Itwasdiscoveredthat although dull at classical learningatmathematics he was uncommonly quick.  To thecontentmentof all he passed third in algebraand got aFrenchprize-book at the public Midsummer examination.You shouldhave seen his mother's face when Telemaque(thatdelicious romance) was presented to him bythe Doctorin the face of the whole school and the parentsandcompanywith an inscription to Gulielmo Dobbin.  Allthe boysclapped hands in token of applause andsympathy. His blusheshis stumbleshis awkwardnessandthe numberof feet which he crushed as he went back tohis placewho shall describe or calculate? Old Dobbinhisfatherwho now respected him for the first timegavehim twoguineas publicly; most of which he spent in ageneraltuck-out for the school: and he came back in atail-coatafter the holidays.

 

Dobbin wasmuch too modest a young fellow tosupposethat this happy change in all his circumstancesarose fromhis own generous and manly disposition: hechosefrom some perversenessto attribute his goodfortune tothe sole agency and benevolence of little GeorgeOsborneto whom henceforth he vowed such a love andaffectionas is only felt by children--such an affectionaswe read inthe charming fairy-bookuncouth Orson hadforsplendid young Valentine his conqueror.  He flunghimselfdown at little Osborne's feetand loved him.Evenbefore they were acquaintedhe had admiredOsborne insecret.  Now he was his valethis doghis manFriday. He believed Osborne to be the possessor ofeveryperfectionto be the handsomestthe bravestthemostactivethe cleverestthe most generous of createdboys. He shared his money with him: bought himuncountablepresents of knivespencil-casesgold sealstoffeeLittle Warblersand romantic bookswith largecolouredpictures of knights and robbersin many of whichlatter youmight read inscriptions to George SedleyOsborneEsquirefrom his attached friend William Dobbin--thewhich tokens of homage George received verygraciouslyas became his superior merit.

 

So thatLieutenant Osbornewhen coming to RussellSquare onthe day of the Vauxhall partysaid to theladies"Mrs. SedleyMa'amI hope you have room; I'veaskedDobbin of ours to come and dine hereand go withus toVauxhall.  He's almost as modest as Jos."

 

"Modesty!pooh" said the stout gentlemancasting avainqueurlook at Miss Sharp.

 

"Heis--but you are incomparably more gracefulSedley"Osborne addedlaughing.  "I met him at theBedfordwhen I went to look for you; and I told him thatMissAmelia was come homeand that we were all benton goingout for a night's pleasuring; and that Mrs. Sedleyhadforgiven his breaking the punch-bowl at the child'sparty. Don't you remember the catastropheMa'amsevenyearsago?"

 

"OverMrs. Flamingo's crimson silk gown" said good-naturedMrs. Sedley.  "What a gawky it was! And hissistersare not much more graceful.  Lady Dobbin was atHighburylast night with three of them.  Such figures! mydears."

 

"TheAlderman's very richisn't he?" Osborne saidarchly. "Don't you think one of the daughters would be agood specfor meMa'am?"

 

"Youfoolish creature! Who would take youI shouldlike toknowwith your yellow face?"

 

"Minea yellow face? Stop till you see Dobbin.  Whyhehad theyellow fever three times; twice at Nassauandonce atSt. Kitts."

 

"Wellwell; yours is quite yellow enough for us.  Isn'titEmmy?"Mrs. Sedley said: at which speech MissAmeliaonly made a smile and a blush; and looking at Mr.GeorgeOsborne's pale interesting countenanceand thosebeautifulblackcurlingshining whiskerswhich the younggentlemanhimself regarded with no ordinarycomplacencyshe thought in her little heart that inHisMajesty's armyor in the wide worldthere neverwas such aface or such a hero.  "I don't care about CaptainDobbin'scomplexion" she said"or about his awkwardness.I shallalways like himI know" her little reason beingthat hewas the friend and champion of George.

 

"There'snot a finer fellow in the service" Osbornesaid"nora better officerthough he is not an Adoniscertainly."And he looked towards the glass himself withmuchnaivete; and in so doingcaught Miss Sharp's eyefixedkeenly upon himat which he blushed a littleandRebeccathought in her heart"Ahmon beau Monsieur!I think Ihave YOUR gauge"--the little artful minx!

 

Thateveningwhen Amelia came tripping into thedrawing-roomin a white muslin frockprepared forconquestat Vauxhallsinging like a larkand as fresh as arose--avery tall ungainly gentlemanwith large handsand feetand large earsset off by a closely cropped headof blackhairand in the hideous military frogged coatand cockedhat of those timesadvanced to meet herandmade herone of the clumsiest bows that was everperformedby a mortal.

 

This wasno other than Captain William DobbinofHisMajesty's Regiment of Footreturned fromyellowfeverin the West Indiesto which the fortuneof theservice had ordered his regimentwhilst so manyof hisgallant comrades were reaping glory in the Peninsula.

 

He hadarrived with a knock so very timid and quietthat itwas inaudible to the ladies upstairs: otherwiseyoumay besure Miss Amelia would never have been so boldas to comesinging into the room.  As it wasthe sweetfreshlittle voice went right into the Captain's heartandnestledthere.  When she held out her hand for him toshakebefore he enveloped it in his ownhe pausedandthought--"Wellis it possible--are you the little maid Irememberin the pink frocksuch a short time ago--thenight Iupset the punch-bowljust after I was gazetted?Are youthe little girl that George Osborne said shouldmarryhim?  What a blooming young creature you seemand what aprize the rogue has got!" All this he thoughtbefore hetook Amelia's hand into his ownand as he lethis cockedhat fall.

 

Hishistory since he left schooluntil the very momentwhen wehave the pleasure of meeting him againalthoughnot fullynarratedhas yetI thinkbeen indicatedsufficientlyfor an ingenious reader by the conversationin thelast page.  Dobbinthe despised grocerwas AldermanDobbin--AldermanDobbin was Colonel of the City LightHorsethen burning with military ardour to resist theFrenchInvasion.  Colonel Dobbin's corpsin which oldMr.Osborne himself was but an indifferent corporalhadbeenreviewed by the Sovereign and the Duke of York;and thecolonel and alderman had been knighted.  Hisson hadentered the army: and young Osborne followedpresentlyin the same regiment.  They had served in theWestIndies and in Canada.  Their regiment had just comehomeandthe attachment of Dobbin to George Osbornewas aswarm and generous now as it had been when thetwo wereschoolboys.

 

So theseworthy people sat down to dinner presently.Theytalked about war and gloryand Boney and LordWellingtonand the last Gazette.  In those famous dayseverygazette had a victory in itand the two gallant youngmen longedto see their own names in the glorious listand cursedtheir unlucky fate to belong to a regimentwhich hadbeen away from the chances of honour.  MissSharpkindled with this exciting talkbut Miss Sedleytrembledand grew quite faint as she heard it.  Mr. Jostoldseveral of his tiger-hunting storiesfinished the oneabout MissCutler and Lance the surgeon; helpedRebecca toeverything on the tableand himself gobbledand dranka great deal.

 

He sprangto open the door for the ladieswhen theyretiredwith the most killing grace--and coming back tothe tablefilled himself bumper after bumper of claretwhich heswallowed with nervous rapidity.

 

"He'spriming himself" Osborne whispered to Dobbinand atlength the hour and the carriage arrivedforVauxhall.

 

 

 

CHAPTER VIVauxhall

 

I knowthat the tune I am piping is a very mildone(although there are some terrific chapterscomingpresently)and must beg the good-naturedreader toremember that we are only discoursingat presentabout a stockbroker's family in RussellSquarewho are taking walksor luncheonor dinneror talkingand making love as people do in common lifeandwithout a single passionate and wonderfulincidentto mark the progress of their loves.  Theargumentstands thus--Osbornein love with Ameliahas askedan old friend to dinner and to Vauxhall--JosSedley isin love with Rebecca.  Will he marry her?That isthe great subject now in hand.

 

We mighthave treated this subject in the genteelor intheromanticor in the facetious manner.  Suppose we hadlaid thescene in Grosvenor Squarewith the very sameadventures--wouldnot some people have listened?Suppose wehad shown how Lord Joseph Sedley fell in loveand theMarquis of Osborne became attached to LadyAmeliawith the full consent of the Dukeher noblefather: orinstead of the supremely genteelsuppose wehadresorted to the entirely lowand described what wasgoing onin Mr. Sedley's kitchen--how black Sambo wasin lovewith the cook (as indeed he was)and how hefought abattle with the coachman in her behalf; how theknife-boywas caught stealing a cold shoulder of muttonand MissSedley's new femme de chambre refused to goto bedwithout a wax candle; such incidents might bemade toprovoke much delightful laughterand besupposedto represent scenes of "life." Or ifon the contrarywe hadtaken a fancy for the terribleand made the loverof the newfemme de chambre a professional burglarwhoburstsinto the house with his bandslaughters blackSambo atthe feet of his masterand carries off Amelia inhernight-dressnot to be let loose again till the thirdvolumeweshould easily have constructed a tale ofthrillinginterestthrough the fiery chapters of which thereadershould hurrypanting.  But my readers must hopefor nosuch romanceonly a homely storyand must becontentwith a chapter about Vauxhallwhich is so shortthat itscarce deserves to be called a chapter at all.  Andyet it isa chapterand a very important one too.  Are nottherelittle chapters in everybody's lifethat seem to benothingand yet affect all the rest of the history?

 

Let usthen step into the coach with the Russell Squarepartyandbe off to the Gardens.  There is barely roombetweenJos and Miss Sharpwho are on the front seat.  Mr.Osbornesitting bodkin oppositebetween Captain DobbinandAmelia.

 

Every soulin the coach agreed that on that night Joswouldpropose to make Rebecca Sharp Mrs. Sedley.  Theparents athome had acquiesced in the arrangementthoughbetween ourselvesold Mr. Sedley had a feelingvery muchakin to contempt for his son.  He said he wasvainselfishlazyand effeminate.  He could not endure hisairs as aman of fashionand laughed heartily at hispompousbraggadocio stories.  "I shall leave the fellow halfmyproperty" he said; "and he will havebesidesplentyof hisown; but as I am perfectly sure that if youand Iand hissister were to die to-morrowhe would say 'GoodGad!' andeat his dinner just as well as usualI am notgoing tomake myself anxious about him.  Let him marrywhom helikes.  It's no affair of mine."

 

Ameliaonthe other handas became a young womanof herprudence and temperamentwas quite enthusiasticfor thematch.  Once or twice Jos had been on the pointof sayingsomething very important to herto which shewas mostwilling to lend an earbut the fat fellow couldnot bebrought to unbosom himself of his great secretand verymuch to his sister's disappointment he only ridhimself ofa large sigh and turned away.

 

Thismystery served to keep Amelia's gentle bosom in aperpetualflutter of excitement.  If she did not speak withRebecca onthe tender subjectshe compensated herselfwith longand intimate conversations with Mrs. Blenkinsopthehousekeeperwho dropped some hints to thelady's-maidwho may have cursorily mentioned the matterto thecookwho carried the newsI have no doubtto allthetradesmenso that Mr. Jos's marriage was now talkedof by avery considerable number of persons in theRussellSquare world.

 

It wasofcourseMrs. Sedley's opinion that her sonwoulddemean himself by a marriage with an artist'sdaughter. "Butlor'Ma'am" ejaculated Mrs. Blenkinsop"wewas only grocers when we married Mr. S.whowas astock-broker's clerkand we hadn't five hundredpoundsamong usand we're rich enough now." AndAmelia wasentirely of this opinionto whichgraduallythegood-natured Mrs. Sedley was brought.

 

Mr. Sedleywas neutral.  "Let Jos marry whom he likes"he said;"it's no affair of mine.  This girl has no fortune;no morehad Mrs. Sedley.  She seems good-humoured andcleverand will keep him in orderperhaps.  Better shemy dearthan a black Mrs. Sedleyand a dozen ofmahoganygrandchildren."

 

So thateverything seemed to smile upon Rebecca'sfortunes. She took Jos's armas a matter of courseon goingto dinner;she had sate by him on the box of his opencarriage(a most tremendous "buck" he wasas he satthereserenein statedriving his greys)and thoughnobodysaid a word on the subject of the marriageeverybodyseemed to understand it.  All she wanted wastheproposaland ah! how Rebecca now felt the want of amother!--adeartender motherwho would have managedthebusiness in ten minutesandin the course of a littledelicateconfidential conversationwould have extractedtheinteresting avowal from the bashful lips of the youngman!

 

Such wasthe state of affairs as the carriage crossedWestminsterbridge.

 

The partywas landed at the Royal Gardens in due time.As themajestic Jos stepped out of the creaking vehiclethe crowdgave a cheer for the fat gentlemanwho blushedand lookedvery big and mightyas he walked away withRebeccaunder his arm.  Georgeof coursetook charge ofAmelia. She looked as happy as a rose-tree in sunshine.

 

"IsayDobbin" says George"just look to the shawlsandthingsthere's a good fellow." And so while he pairedoff withMiss Sedleyand Jos squeezed through the gateinto thegardens with Rebecca at his sidehonest Dobbincontentedhimself by giving an arm to the shawlsand bypaying atthe door for the whole party.

 

He walkedvery modestly behind them.  He was notwilling tospoil sport.  About Rebecca and Jos he did notcare afig.  But he thought Amelia worthy even of thebrilliantGeorge Osborneand as he saw that good-lookingcouplethreading the walks to the girl's delight andwonderhewatched her artless happiness with a sort offatherlypleasure.  Perhaps he felt that he would have likedto havesomething on his own arm besides a shawl (thepeoplelaughed at seeing the gawky young officer carryingthisfemale burthen); but William Dobbin was very littleaddictedto selfish calculation at all; and so long as hisfriend wasenjoying himselfhow should he be discontented?And thetruth isthat of all the delights of theGardens;of the hundred thousand extra lampswhichwerealways lighted; the fiddlers in cocked hatswhoplayedravishing melodies under the gilded cockle-shell inthe midstof the gardens; the singersboth of comic andsentimentalballadswho charmed the ears there; thecountrydancesformed by bouncing cockneys andcockneyessesand executed amidst jumpingthumping andlaughter;the signal which announced that Madame Saquiwas aboutto mount skyward on a slack-rope ascendingto thestars; the hermit that always sat in the illuminatedhermitage;the dark walksso favourable to the interviewsof younglovers; the pots of stout handed about by thepeople inthe shabby old liveries; and the twinkling boxesin whichthe happy feasters made-believe to eat slices ofalmostinvisible ham--of all these thingsand of thegentleSimpsonthat kind smiling idiotwhoI daresaypresidedeven then over the place--Captain William Dobbindid nottake the slightest notice.

 

He carriedabout Amelia's white cashmere shawlandhavingattended under the gilt cockle-shellwhile Mrs.Salmonperformed the Battle of Borodino (a savagecantataagainst the Corsican upstartwho had lately metwith hisRussian reverses)--Mr. Dobbin tried to hum itas hewalked awayand found he was humming--the tunewhichAmelia Sedley sang on the stairsas she camedown todinner.

 

He burstout laughing at himself; for the truth ishecould singno better than an owl.

 

It is tobe understoodas a matter of coursethat ouryoungpeoplebeing in parties of two and twomade themostsolemn promises to keep together during the eveningandseparated in ten minutes afterwards.  Parties atVauxhallalways did separatebut 'twas only to meetagain atsupper-timewhen they could talk of their mutualadventuresin the interval. What werethe adventures of Mr. Osborne and MissAmelia?That is a secret.  But be sure of this--they wereperfectlyhappyand correct in their behaviour; and asthey hadbeen in the habit of being together any time thesefifteenyearstheir tete-a-tete offered no particularnovelty.

 

But whenMiss Rebecca Sharp and her stout companionlostthemselves in a solitary walkin which there were notabove fivescore more of couples similarly strayingtheyboth feltthat the situation was extremely tender andcriticaland now or never was the moment Miss Sharpthoughtto provoke that declaration which was tremblingon thetimid lips of Mr. Sedley.  They had previously beento thepanorama of Moscowwhere a rude fellowtreadingon MissSharp's footcaused her to fall back with a littleshriekinto the arms of Mr. Sedleyand this little incidentincreasedthe tenderness and confidence of that gentlemanto such adegreethat he told her several of his favouriteIndianstories over again forat leastthe sixth time.

 

"HowI should like to see India!" said Rebecca.

 

"SHOULDyou?" said Josephwith a most killing tenderness;and was nodoubt about to follow up this artfulinterrogatoryby a question still more tender (for he puffedand panteda great dealand Rebecca's handwhich wasplacednear his heartcould count the feverish pulsationsof thatorgan)whenohprovoking! the bell rang for thefireworksanda great scuffling and running taking placetheseinteresting lovers were obliged to follow in thestream ofpeople.

 

CaptainDobbin had some thoughts of joining the partyat supper:asin truthhe found the Vauxhallamusementsnot particularly lively--but he paradedtwicebefore the box where the now united couples weremetandnobody took any notice of him.  Covers were laid forfour. The mated pairs were prattling away quite happilyand Dobbinknew he was as clean forgotten as if he hadneverexisted in this world.

 

"Ishould only be de trop" said the Captainlooking atthemrather wistfully.  "I'd best go and talk to the hermit"--and sohe strolled off out of the hum of menand noiseandclatter of the banquetinto the dark walkat the endof whichlived that well-known pasteboard Solitary.  Itwasn'tvery good fun for Dobbin--andindeedto bealone atVauxhallI have foundfrom my own experienceto be oneof the most dismal sports ever entered into by abachelor.

 

The twocouples were perfectly happy then in theirbox: wherethe most delightful and intimate conversationtookplace.  Jos was in his gloryordering about the waiterswith greatmajesty.  He made the salad; and uncorkedtheChampagne; and carved the chickens; and ate anddrank thegreater part of the refreshments on the tables.Finallyhe insisted upon having a bowl of rack punch;everybodyhad rack punch at Vauxhall.  "Waiterrackpunch."

 

That bowlof rack punch was the cause of all thishistory. And why not a bowl of rack punch as well as anyothercause? Was not a bowl of prussic acid the cause ofFairRosamond's retiring from the world? Was not a bowlof winethe cause of the demise of Alexander the Greatoratleastdoes not Dr. Lempriere say so?--so did thisbowl ofrack punch influence the fates of all the principalcharactersin this "Novel without a Hero" which we arenowrelating.  It influenced their lifealthough most ofthem didnot taste a drop of it.

 

The youngladies did not drink it; Osborne did notlike it;and the consequence was that Josthat fatgourmanddrank up the whole contents of the bowl;and theconsequence of his drinking up the whole contentsof thebowl was a liveliness which at first was astonishingand thenbecame almost painful; for he talked and laughed soloud as tobring scores of listeners round the boxmuchto theconfusion of the innocent party within it; andvolunteeringto sing a song (which he did in that maudlinhigh keypeculiar to gentlemen in an inebriated state)healmostdrew away the audience who were gathered roundthemusicians in the gilt scollop-shelland received fromhishearers a great deal of applause.

 

"BrayvoFat un!" said one; "AngcoreDaniel Lambert!"saidanother; "What a figure for the tight-rope!"exclaimedanother wagto the inexpressible alarm oftheladiesand the great anger of Mr. Osborne.

 

"ForHeaven's sakeJoslet us get up and go" criedthatgentlemanand the young women rose.

 

"Stopmy dearest diddle-diddle-darling" shouted Josnow asbold as a lionand clasping Miss Rebecca roundthewaist.  Rebecca startedbut she could not get away herhand. The laughter outside redoubled.  Jos continued todrinktomake loveand to sing; andwinking and wavinghis glassgracefully to his audiencechallenged all or anyto come inand take a share of his punch.

 

Mr.Osborne was just on the point of knocking down agentlemanin top-bootswho proposed to take advantageof thisinvitationand a commotion seemed to beinevitablewhen by the greatest good luck a gentlemanof thename of Dobbinwho had been walking about thegardensstepped up to the box.  "Be offyou fools!" saidthisgentleman--shouldering off a great number of the crowdwhovanished presently before his cocked hat and fierceappearance--andhe entered the box in a most agitated state.

 

"GoodHeavens! Dobbinwhere have you been?" 0sbornesaidseizing the white cashmere shawl from hisfriend'sarmand huddling up Amelia in it.--"Makeyourselfusefuland take charge of Jos herewhilst Itake theladies to the carriage."

 

Jos wasfor rising to interfere--but a single push fromOsborne'sfinger sent him puffing back into his seat againand thelieutenant was enabled to remove the ladies insafety. Jos kissed his hand to them as they retreatedandhiccuppedout "Bless you! Bless you!" ThenseizingCaptainDobbin's handand weeping in the most pitiful wayheconfided to that gentleman the secret of his loves.  Headoredthat girl who had just gone out; he had brokenher hearthe knew he hadby his conduct; he would marryher nextmorning at St. George'sHanover Square; he'dknock upthe Archbishop of Canterbury at Lambeth: hewouldbyJove! and have him in readiness; andacting onthis hintCaptain Dobbin shrewdly induced him to leavethegardens and hasten to Lambeth Palaceandwhen onceout of thegateseasily conveyed Mr. Jos Sedley into ahackney-coachwhich deposited him safely at his lodgings.

 

GeorgeOsborne conducted the girls home in safety:and whenthe door was closed upon themand as hewalkedacross Russell Squarelaughed so as to astonishthewatchman.  Amelia looked very ruefully at her friendas theywent up stairsand kissed herand went to bedwithoutany more talking.

 

"Hemust propose to-morrow" thought Rebecca.  "Hecalled mehis soul's darlingfour times; he squeezed myhand inAmelia's presence.  He must propose to-morrow."And sothought Ameliatoo.  And I dare say she thoughtof thedress she was to wear as bridesmaidand of thepresentswhich she should make to her nice little sister-in-lawandof a subsequent ceremony in which she herselfmight playa principal part&c.and &c.and &c.and &c.

 

Ohignorant young creatures! How little do you knowthe effectof rack punch! What is the rack in the punchat nightto the rack in the head of a morning? To thistruth Ican vouch as a man; there is no headache in theworld likethat caused by Vauxhall punch.  Through thelapse oftwenty yearsI can remember the consequenceof twoglasses!
two wine-glasses!
but twoupon thehonour ofa gentleman; and Joseph Sedleywho had alivercomplainthad swallowed at least a quart of theabominablemixture.

 

That nextmorningwhich Rebecca thought was todawn uponher fortunefound Sedley groaning in agonieswhich thepen refuses to describe.  Soda-water was notinventedyet.  Small beer--will it be believed!--was theonly drinkwith which unhappy gentlemen soothed thefever oftheir previous night's potation.  With this mildbeveragebefore himGeorge Osborne found the ex-Collectorof Boggley Wollah groaning on the sofa athislodgings.  Dobbin was already in the roomgood-naturedlytending his patient of the night before.  The twoofficerslooking at the prostrate Bacchanalianandaskance ateach otherexchanged the most frightfulsympatheticgrins.  Even Sedley's valetthe most solemnandcorrect of gentlemenwith the muteness and gravity ofanundertakercould hardly keep his countenance inorderashe looked at his unfortunate master.

 

"Mr.Sedley was uncommon wild last nightsir" hewhisperedin confidence to Osborneas the latter mountedthestair.  "He wanted to fight the 'ackney-coachmansir.TheCapting was obliged to bring him upstairs in hisharms likea babby." A momentary smile flickered overMr.Brush's features as he spoke; instantlyhowevertheyrelapsedinto their usual unfathomable calmas he flungopen thedrawing-room doorand announced "Mr.Hosbin."

 

"Howare youSedley?" that young wag beganaftersurveyinghis victim.  "No bones broke? There's ahackney-coachmandownstairs with a black eyeand atied-upheadvowing he'll have the law of you."

 

"Whatdo you mean--law?" Sedley faintly asked.

 

"Forthrashing him last night--didn't heDobbin? Youhit outsirlike Molyneux.  The watchman says he neversaw afellow go down so straight.  Ask Dobbin."

 

"YouDID have a round with the coachman" CaptainDobbinsaid"and showed plenty of fight too."

 

"Andthat fellow with the white coat at Vauxhall! HowJos droveat him! How the women screamed! By Jovesiritdid my heart good to see you.  I thought you civilianshad nopluck; but I'll never get in your way when youare inyour cupsJos."

 

"Ibelieve I'm very terriblewhen I'm roused"ejaculatedJos from the sofaand made a grimace sodreary andludicrousthat the Captain's politeness couldrestrainhim no longerand he and Osborne fired off aringingvolley of laughter.

 

Osbornepursued his advantage pitilessly.  He thoughtJos amilksop.  He had been revolving in his mind themarriagequestion pending between Jos and Rebeccaandwas notover well pleased that a member of a family intowhich heGeorge Osborneof the --thwas goingto marryshould make a mesalliance with a little nobody--a littleupstart governess.  "You hityou poor oldfellow!"said Osborne.  "You terrible! Whymanyoucouldn'tstand--you made everybody laugh in theGardensthough you were crying yourself.  You weremaudlinJos.  Don't you remember singing a song?"

 

"Awhat?" Jos asked.

 

"Asentimental songand calling RosaRebeccawhat'sher nameAmelia's little friend--your dearest diddle-diddle-darling?"And this ruthless young fellowseizinghold ofDobbin's handacted over the sceneto the horrorof theoriginal performerand in spite of Dobbin's good-naturedentreaties to him to have mercy.

 

"Whyshould I spare him?" Osborne said to his friend'sremonstranceswhen they quitted the invalidleaving himunder thehands of Doctor Gollop.  "What the deuce righthas he togive himself his patronizing airsand make foolsof us atVauxhall? Who's this little schoolgirl that isogling andmaking love to him? Hang itthe family'slow enoughalreadywithout HER.  A governess is all verywellbutI'd rather have a lady for my sister-in-law.  I'ma liberalman; but I've proper prideand know my ownstation:let her know hers.  And I'll take down that greathectoringNaboband prevent him from being made agreaterfool than he is.  That's why I told him to look outlest shebrought an action against him."

 

"Isuppose you know best" Dobbin saidthough ratherdubiously. "You always were a Toryand your family'sone of theoldest in England.  But --"

 

"Comeand see the girlsand make love to Miss Sharpyourself"the lieutenant here interrupted his friend; butCaptainDobbin declined to join Osborne in his daily visitto theyoung ladies in Russell Square.

 

As Georgewalked down Southampton RowfromHolbornhe laughed as he sawat the Sedley Mansionin twodifferent stories two heads on the look-out.

 

The factisMiss Ameliain the drawing-room balconywaslooking very eagerly towards the opposite side of theSquarewhere Mr. Osborne dwelton the watch for thelieutenanthimself; and Miss Sharpfrom her little bed-room onthe second floorwas in observation until Mr.Joseph'sgreat form should heave in sight.

 

"SisterAnne is on the watch-tower" said he to Amelia"butthere's nobody coming"; and laughing and enjoyingthe jokehugelyhe described in the most ludicrous termsto MissSedleythe dismal condition of her brother.

 

"Ithink it's very cruel of you to laughGeorge" shesaidlooking particularly unhappy; but George onlylaughedthe more at her piteous and discomfited mienpersistedin thinking the joke a most diverting oneandwhen MissSharp came downstairsbantered her with agreat dealof liveliness upon the effect of her charms onthe fatcivilian.

 

"OMiss Sharp! if you could but see him this morning"hesaid--"moaning in his flowered dressing-gown--writhingon his sofa; if you could but have seen himlollingout his tongue to Gollop the apothecary."

 

"Seewhom?" said Miss Sharp.

 

"Whom?O whom?  Captain Dobbinof courseto whomwe wereall so attentiveby the waylast night."

 

"Wewere very unkind to him" Emmy saidblushingverymuch.  "I--I quite forgot him."

 

"Ofcourse you did" cried Osbornestill on the laugh.

 

"Onecan't be ALWAYS thinking about Dobbinyou knowAmelia. Can oneMiss Sharp?"

 

"Exceptwhen he overset the glass of wine at dinner"Miss Sharpsaidwith a haughty air and a toss of thehead"Inever gave the existence of Captain Dobbin onesinglemoment's consideration."

 

"VerygoodMiss SharpI'll tell him" Osborne said;and as hespoke Miss Sharp began to have a feeling ofdistrustand hatred towards this young officerwhich hewas quiteunconscious of having inspired.  "He is to makefun of meis he?" thought Rebecca.  "Has he beenlaughingabout me to Joseph?  Has he frightened him?Perhaps hewon't come."--A film passed over her eyesand herheart beat quite quick.

 

"You'realways joking" said shesmiling as innocentlyas shecould.  "Joke awayMr. George; there's nobodyto defendME." And George Osborneas she walked away--andAmelia looked reprovingly at him--felt some littlemanlycompunction for having inflicted any unnecessaryunkindnessupon this helpless creature.  "My dearestAmelia"said he"you are too good--too kind.  Youdon't knowthe world.  I do.  And your little friend MissSharp mustlearn her station."

 

"Don'tyou think Jos will--"

 

"Uponmy wordmy dearI don't know.  He mayormay not. I'm not his master.  I only know he is a veryfoolishvain fellowand put my dear little girl into a verypainfuland awkward position last night.  My dearestdiddle-diddle-darling!"He was off laughing againand hedid it sodrolly that Emmy laughed too.

 

All thatday Jos never came.  But Amelia had no fearaboutthis; for the little schemer had actually sent awaythe pageMr. Sambo's aide-de-campto Mr. Joseph'slodgingsto ask for some book he had promisedand howhe was;and the reply through Jos's manMr. Brushwasthat hismaster was ill in bedand had just had the doctorwith him. He must come to-morrowshe thoughtbut shenever hadthe courage to speak a word on the subjecttoRebecca; nor did that young woman herself alludeto it inany way during the whole evening after the nightatVauxhall.

 

The nextdayhoweveras the two young ladies sate onthe sofapretending to workor to write lettersor toreadnovelsSambo came into the room with his usualengaginggrinwith a packet under his armand a noteon atray.  "Note from Mr. JosMiss" says Sambo.

 

How Ameliatrembled as she opened it!

 

So it ran:

 

DearAmelia--I send you the "Orphan of the Forest."I was tooill to come yesterday.  I leave town to-dayforCheltenham.  Pray excuse meif you canto theamiableMiss Sharpfor my conduct at Vauxhallandentreather to pardon and forget every word I may haveutteredwhen excited by that fatal supper.  As soon asI haverecoveredfor my health is very much shakenIshall goto Scotland for some monthsand am

 

TrulyyoursJos Sedley

 

 

It was thedeath-warrant.  All was over.  Amelia didnot dareto look at Rebecca's pale face and burning eyesbut shedropt the letter into her friend's lap; and got upand wentupstairs to her roomand cried her little heartout.

 

Blenkinsopthe housekeeperthere sought her presentlywithconsolationon whose shoulder Amelia weptconfidentiallyand relieved herself a good deal.  "Don't takeonMiss. I didn't like to tell you.  But none of us in thehouse haveliked her except at fust.  I sor her with myown eyesreading your Ma's letters.  Pinner says she'salwaysabout your trinket-box and drawersandeverybody'sdrawersand she's sure she's put your whiteribbinginto her box."

 

"Igave it herI gave it her" Amelia said.

 

But thisdid not alter Mrs. Blenkinsop's opinion of MissSharp. "I don't trust them governessesPinner" sheremarkedto the maid.  "They give themselves the hairs andhupstartsof ladiesand their wages is no better thanyou norme."

 

It nowbecame clear to every soul in the houseexceptpoorAmeliathat Rebecca should take her departureand highand low (always with the one exception) agreedthat thatevent should take place as speedily as possible.Our goodchild ransacked all her drawerscupboardsreticulesand gimcrack boxes--passed in review all hergownsfichustagsbobbinslacessilk stockingsandfallals--selectingthis thing and that and the othertomake alittle heap for Rebecca.  And going to her Papathatgenerous British merchantwho had promised togive heras many guineas as she was years old--shebegged theold gentleman to give the money to dearRebeccawho must want itwhile she lacked for nothing.

 

She evenmade George Osborne contributeandnothingloth (for he was as free-handed a young fellowas any inthe army)he went to Bond Streetand boughtthe besthat and spenser that money could buy.

 

"That'sGeorge's present to youRebeccadear" saidAmeliaquite proud of the bandbox conveying thesegifts. "What a taste he has! There's nobody like him."

 

"Nobody"Rebecca answered.  "How thankful I am tohim!"She was thinking in her heart"It was GeorgeOsbornewho prevented my marriage."--And she lovedGeorgeOsborne accordingly.

 

She madeher preparations for departure with greatequanimity;and accepted all the kind little Amelia'spresentsafter just the proper degree of hesitation andreluctance. She vowed eternal gratitude to Mrs. Sedleyof course;but did not intrude herself upon that goodlady toomuchwho was embarrassedand evidentlywishing toavoid her.  She kissed Mr. Sedley's handwhenhepresented her with the purse; and asked permission toconsiderhim for the future as her kindkind friend andprotector. Her behaviour was so affecting that he wasgoing towrite her a cheque for twenty pounds more;but herestrained his feelings: the carriage was in waitingto takehim to dinnerso he tripped away with a "Godbless youmy dearalways come here when you come totownyouknow.--Drive to the Mansion HouseJames."

 

Finallycame the parting with Miss Ameliaover whichpicture Iintend to throw a veil.  But after a scene inwhich oneperson was in earnest and the other a perfectperformer--afterthe tenderest caressesthe most pathetictearsthesmelling-bottleand some of the very bestfeelingsof the hearthad been called into requisition--Rebeccaand Amelia partedthe former vowing to loveher friendfor ever and ever and ever.

 

 

 

CHAPTERVIICrawleyof Queen's Crawley

 

Among themost respected of the names beginning in Cwhich theCourt-Guide containedin the year 18--wasthat ofCrawleySir PittBaronetGreat Gaunt StreetandQueen's CrawleyHants.  This honourable name hadfiguredconstantly also in the Parliamentary list for manyyearsinconjunction with that of a number of otherworthygentlemen who sat in turns for the borough.

 

It isrelatedwith regard to the borough of Queen'sCrawleythat Queen Elizabeth in one of her progressesstoppingat Crawley to breakfastwas so delighted withsomeremarkably fine Hampshire beer which was thenpresentedto her by the Crawley of the day (a handsomegentlemanwith a trim beard and a good leg)that sheforthwitherected Crawley into a borough to send twomembers toParliament; and the placefrom the day ofthatillustrious visittook the name of Queen's Crawleywhich itholds up to the present moment.  And thoughbythe lapseof timeand those mutations which age producesinempirescitiesand boroughsQueen's Crawley was nolonger sopopulous a place as it had been in Queen Bess'stime--naywas come down to that condition of boroughwhich usedto be denominated rotten--yetas Sir PittCrawleywould say with perfect justice in his elegantway"Rotten! be hanged--it produces me a good fifteenhundred ayear."

 

Sir PittCrawley (named after the great Commoner)was theson of Walpole Crawleyfirst Baronetof theTape andSealing-Wax Office in the reign of George II.when hewas impeached for peculationas were a greatnumber ofother honest gentlemen of those days; andWalpoleCrawley wasas need scarcely be saidson ofJohnChurchill Crawleynamed after the celebratedmilitarycommander of the reign of Queen Anne.  The familytree(which hangs up at Queen's Crawley) furthermorementionsCharles Stuartafterwards called BarebonesCrawleyson of the Crawley of James the First's time;andfinallyQueen Elizabeth's Crawleywho is representedas theforeground of the picture in his forked beard andarmour. Out of his waistcoatas usualgrows a treeonthe mainbranches of which the above illustrious namesareinscribed.  Close by the name of Sir Pitt CrawleyBaronet(the subject of the present memoir)are writtenthat ofhis brotherthe Reverend Bute Crawley (the greatCommonerwas in disgrace when the reverend gentlemanwas born)rector of Crawley-cum-Snailbyand of variousother maleand female members of the Crawley family.

 

Sir Pittwas first married to Grizzelsixth daughter ofMungoBinkieLord Binkieand cousinin consequenceof Mr.Dundas.  She brought him two sons: Pittnamednot somuch after his father as after the heaven-bornminister;and Rawdon Crawleyfrom the Prince ofWales'sfriendwhom his Majesty George IV forgot socompletely. Many years after her ladyship's demiseSirPitt ledto the altar Rosadaughter of Mr. G. DawsonofMudburyby whom he had two daughtersfor whosebenefitMiss Rebecca Sharp was now engaged asgoverness. It will be seen that the young lady was come into afamily ofvery genteel connexionsand was about to movein a muchmore distinguished circle than that humble onewhich shehad just quitted in Russell Square.

 

She hadreceived her orders to join her pupilsin anote whichwas written upon an old envelopeand whichcontainedthe following words:

 

Sir PittCrawley begs Miss Sharp and baggidge may behear onTuesdayas I leaf for Queen's Crawley to-morrowmorningERLY.

 

GreatGaunt Street.

 

Rebeccahad never seen a Baronetas far as she knewand assoon as she had taken leave of Ameliaandcountedthe guineas which good-natured Mr. Sedley hadput into apurse for herand as soon as she had donewiping hereyes with her handkerchief (which operationsheconcluded the very moment the carriage had turnedthe cornerof the street)she began to depict in her ownmind whata Baronet must be.  "I wonderdoes he weara star?"thought she"or is it only lords that wear stars?But hewill be very handsomely dressed in a court suitwithrufflesand his hair a little powderedlike Mr.Wroughtonat Covent Garden.  I suppose he will beawfullyproudand that I shall be treated mostcontemptuously. Still I must bear my hard lot as wellas Ican--at leastI shall be amongst GENTLEFOLKSandnot withvulgar city people": and she fell to thinking ofherRussell Square friends with that very same philosophicalbitternesswith whichin a certain apologuethe fox isrepresentedas speaking of the grapes.

 

Havingpassed through Gaunt Square into Great GauntStreetthe carriage at length stopped at a tall gloomyhousebetween two other tall gloomy houseseach with ahatchmentover the middle drawing-room window; as isthe customof houses in Great Gaunt Streetin whichgloomylocality death seems to reign perpetual.  Theshuttersof the first-floor windows of Sir Pitt's mansionwereclosed--those of the dining-room were partially openand theblinds neatly covered up in old newspapers.

 

Johnthegroomwho had driven the carriage alonedid notcare to descend to ring the bell; and so prayed apassingmilk-boy to perform that office for him.  When thebell wasrunga head appeared between the interstices ofthedining-room shuttersand the door was opened by aman indrab breeches and gaiterswith a dirty old coata foul oldneckcloth lashed round his bristly neckashiningbald heada leering red facea pair of twinkling greyeyesanda mouth perpetually on the grin

 

"ThisSir Pitt Crawley's?" says Johnfrom the box.

 

"Ees"says the man at the doorwith a nod.

 

"Handdown these 'ere trunks then" said John.

 

"Hand'n down yourself" said the porter.

 

"Don'tyou see I can't leave my hosses? Comebear ahandmyfine fellerand Miss will give you some beer"said Johnwith a horse-laughfor he was no longerrespectfulto Miss Sharpas her connexion with the familywas brokenoffand as she had given nothing to theservantson coming away.

 

Thebald-headed mantaking his hands out of hisbreechespocketsadvanced on this summonsandthrowingMiss Sharp's trunk over his shouldercarried it intothe house.

 

"Takethis basket and shawlif you pleaseand openthe door"said Miss Sharpand descended from thecarriagein much indignation.  "I shall write to Mr. Sedleyand informhim of your conduct" said she to the groom.

 

"Don't"replied that functionary.  "I hope you've forgotnothink?Miss 'Melia's gownds--have you got them--asthe lady'smaid was to have 'ad? I hope they'll fit you.Shut thedoorJimyou'll get no good out of 'ER"continuedJohnpointing with his thumb towards Miss Sharp:"abad lotI tell youa bad lot" and so sayingMr.Sedley'sgroom drove away.  The truth ishe was attachedto thelady's maid in questionand indignant that sheshouldhave been robbed of her perquisites.

 

Onentering the dining-roomby the orders of theindividualin gaitersRebecca found that apartment notmorecheerful than such rooms usually arewhen genteelfamiliesare out of town.  The faithful chambers seemasit wereto mourn the absence of their masters.  The turkeycarpet hasrolled itself upand retired sulkily under thesideboard:the pictures have hidden their faces behind oldsheets ofbrown paper: the ceiling lamp is muffled up in adismalsack of brown holland: the window-curtains havedisappearedunder all sorts of shabby envelopes: themarblebust of Sir Walpole Crawley is looking from itsblackcorner at the bare boards and the oiled fire-ironsand theempty card-racks over the mantelpiece: thecellarethas lurked away behind the carpet: the chairs areturned upheads and tails along the walls: and in thedarkcorner opposite the statueis an old-fashionedcrabbedknife-boxlocked and sitting on a dumb waiter.

 

Twokitchen chairsand a round tableand anattenuatedold poker and tongs werehowevergatheredround thefire-placeas was a saucepan over a feeblesputteringfire.  There was a bit of cheese and breadanda tincandlestick on the tableand a little black porterin apint-pot.

 

"Hadyour dinnerI suppose? It is not too warm foryou? Likea drop of beer?"

 

"Whereis Sir Pitt Crawley?" said Miss Sharpmajestically.

 

"Hehe! I'm Sir Pitt Crawley.  Reklect you owe me apint forbringing down your luggage.  Hehe! AskTinker ifI aynt.  Mrs. TinkerMiss Sharp; MissGovernessMrs. Charwoman.  Hoho!"

 

The ladyaddressed as Mrs. Tinker at this momentmade herappearance with a pipe and a paper of tobaccofor whichshe had been despatched a minute beforeMissSharp's arrival; and she handed the articles over toSir Pittwho had taken his seat by the fire.

 

"Where'sthe farden?" said he.  "I gave you threehalfpence. Where's the changeold Tinker?"

 

"There!"replied Mrs. Tinkerflinging down the coin;it's onlybaronets as cares about farthings."

 

"Afarthing a day is seven shillings a year" answeredthe M.P.;"seven shillings a year is the interest of sevenguineas. Take care of your farthingsold Tinkerand yourguineaswill come quite nat'ral."

 

"Youmay be sure it's Sir Pitt Crawleyyoung woman"said Mrs.Tinkersurlily; "because he looks to hisfarthings. You'll know him better afore long."

 

"Andlike me none the worseMiss Sharp" said theoldgentlemanwith an air almost of politeness.  "I mustbe justbefore I'm generous."

 

 "Henever gave away a farthing in his life" growledTinker.

 

"Neverand never will: it's against my principle.  Goand getanother chair from the kitchenTinkerif youwant tosit down; and then we'll have a bit of supper."

 

Presentlythe baronet plunged a fork into the saucepanon thefireand withdrew from the pot a piece of tripeand anonionwhich he divided into pretty equalportionsand of which he partook with Mrs. Tinker.  "YouseeMissSharpwhen I'm not here Tinker's on boardwages:when I'm in town she dines with the family.Haw! haw!I'm glad Miss Sharp's not hungryain't youTink?"And they fell to upon their frugal supper.

 

Aftersupper Sir Pitt Crawley began to smoke hispipe; andwhen it became quite darkhe lighted therushlightin the tin candlestickand producing from aninterminablepocket a huge mass of papersbegan readingthemandputting them in order.

 

"I'mhere on law businessmy dearand that's how ithappensthat I shall have the pleasure of such a prettytravellingcompanion to-morrow."

 

"He'salways at law business" said Mrs. Tinkertaking upthe pot of porter. "Drinkand drink about" said the Baronet.  "Yes; mydearTinker is quite right: I've lost and won morelawsuitsthan any man in England.  Look here at CrawleyBart. v.Snaffle.  I'll throw him overor my name's notPittCrawley.  Podder and another versus CrawleyBart.Overseersof Snaily parish against CrawleyBart.  Theycan'tprove it's common: I'll defy 'em; the land's mine.It no morebelongs to the parish than it does to you orTinkerhere.  I'll beat 'emif it cost me a thousand guineas.Look overthe papers; you may if you likemy dear.Do youwrite a good hand? I'll make you useful whenwe're atQueen's Crawleydepend on itMiss Sharp.Now thedowager's dead I want some one."

 

"Shewas as bad as he" said Tinker.  "She took thelaw ofevery one of her tradesmen; and turned awayforty-eightfootmen in four year."

 

"Shewas close--very close" said the Baronetsimply;"butshe was a valyble woman to meand saved me asteward."--Andin this confidential strainand much totheamusement of the new-comerthe conversationcontinuedfor a considerable time.  Whatever Sir PittCrawley'squalities might begood or badhe did not makethe leastdisguise of them.  He talked of himself incessantlysometimesin the coarsest and vulgarest Hampshire accent;sometimesadopting the tone of a man of the world.  And sowithinjunctions to Miss Sharp to be ready at five in themorninghe bade her good night.   "You'll sleep with Tinkerto-night"he said; "it's a big bedand there's room for two.LadyCrawley died in it.  Good night."

 

Sir Pittwent off after this benedictionand the solemnTinkerrushlight in handled the way up the greatbleakstone stairspast the great dreary drawing-roomdoorswith the handles muffled up in paperinto thegreatfront bedroomwhere Lady Crawley had slept herlast. The bed and chamber were so funereal and gloomyyou mighthave fanciednot only that Lady Crawley diedin theroombut that her ghost inhabited it.  Rebeccasprangabout the apartmenthoweverwith the greatestlivelinessand had peeped into the huge wardrobesandtheclosetsand the cupboardsand tried the drawerswhich werelockedand examined the dreary picturesandtoilette appointmentswhile the old charwomanwas sayingher prayers.  "I shouldn't like to sleep in thisyeer bedwithout a good conscienceMiss" said the oldwoman. "There's room for us and a half-dozen of ghostsin it"says Rebecca.  "Tell me all about Lady Crawleyand SirPitt Crawleyand everybodymy DEAR Mrs.Tinker."

 

But oldTinker was not to be pumped by this littlecross-questioner;and signifying to her that bed was aplace forsleepingnot conversationset up in her cornerof the bedsuch a snore as only the nose of innocencecanproduce.  Rebecca lay awake for a longlong timethinkingof the morrowand of the new world into whichshe wasgoingand of her chances of success there.  Therushlightflickered in the basin.  The mantelpiece cast upa greatblack shadowover half of a mouldy old samplerwhich herdefunct ladyship had workedno doubtandover twolittle family pictures of young ladsone in acollegegownand the other in a red jacket like a soldier.When shewent to sleepRebecca chose that one todreamabout. At fouro'clockon such a roseate summer's morningas evenmade Great Gaunt Street look cheerfulthefaithfulTinkerhaving wakened her bedfellowand bid herpreparefor departureunbarred and unbolted the greathall door(the clanging and clapping whereof startledthesleeping echoes in the street)and taking her wayintoOxford Streetsummoned a coach from a standthere. It is needless to particularize the number of thevehicleor to state that the driver was stationed thusearly inthe neighbourhood of Swallow Streetin hopesthat someyoung buckreeling homeward from the tavernmight needthe aid of his vehicleand pay him withthegenerosity of intoxication. It islikewise needless to say that the driverif he hadany suchhopes as those.above statedwas grosslydisappointed;and that the worthy Baronet whom he droveto theCity did not give him one single penny more thanhis fare. It was in vain that Jehu appealed and stormed;that heflung down Miss Sharp's bandboxes in the gutterat the'Necksand swore he would take the law of hisfare. "You'dbetter not" said one of the ostlers; "it's SirPittCrawley." "Soit isJoe" cried the Baronetapprovingly; "andI'd liketo see the man can do me."  "Soshould oi" said Joegrinning sulkilyandmountingthe Baronet's baggage on the roof of the coach. "Keepthe box for meLeader" exclaims the MemberofParliament to the coachman; who replied"YesSir Pitt"with a touch of his hatand rage in his soul(for hehad promised the box to a young gentlemanfromCambridgewho would have given a crown to acertainty)and Miss Sharp was accommodated with aback seatinside the carriagewhich might be said to becarryingher into the wide world. How theyoung man from Cambridge sulkily put hisfivegreat-coats in front; but was reconciled when littleMiss Sharpwas made to quit the carriageand mountup besidehim--when he covered her up in one of hisBenjaminsand became perfectly good-humoured--howtheasthmatic gentlemanthe prim ladywho declaredupon hersacred honour she had never travelled in apubliccarriage before (there is always such a lady in acoach--Alas!was; for the coacheswhere are they?)and thefat widow with the brandy-bottletook theirplacesinside--how the porter asked them all for moneyand gotsixpence from the gentleman and five greasyhalfpencefrom the fat widow--and how the carriageat lengthdrove away--now threading the dark lanes ofAldersgateanon clattering by the Blue Cupola of St.Paul'sjingling rapidly by the strangers' entry of Fleet-Marketwhichwith Exeter 'Changehas now departedto theworld of shadows--how they passed the WhiteBear inPiccadillyand saw the dew rising up from themarket-gardensof Knightsbridge--how TurnhamgreenBrentwoodBagshotwere passed--need not be told here.But thewriter of these pageswho has pursued in formerdaysandin the same bright weatherthe same remarkablejourneycannot but think of it with a sweet andtenderregret.  Where is the road nowand its merryincidentsof life? Is there no Chelsea or Greenwich forthe oldhonest pimple-nosed coachmen?  I wonder whereare theythose good fellows? Is old Weller alive or dead?and thewaitersyeaand the inns at which they waitedand thecold rounds of beef insideand the stunted ostlerwith hisblue nose and clinking pailwhere is heandwhere ishis generation?  To those great geniuses now inpetticoatswho shall write novels for the beloved reader'schildrenthese men and things will be as much legendandhistory as Ninevehor Coeur de Lionor JackSheppard. For them stage-coaches will have become romances--a teamof four bays as fabulous as Bucephalus or BlackBess. Ahhow their coats shoneas the stable-men pulledtheirclothes offand away they went--ahhow theirtailsshookas with smoking sides at the stage's endtheydemurely walked away into the inn-yard.  Alas!  weshallnever hear the horn sing at midnightor see thepike-gatesfly open any more.  Whitherhoweveris thelightfour-inside Trafalgar coach carrying us? Let us beset downat Queen's Crawley without further divagationand seehow Miss Rebecca Sharp speeds there.

 

 

 

 

CHAPTERVIII

 

MissRebecca Sharp to Miss Amelia SedleyRussellSquareLondon.(Free.--PittCrawley.)

 

MYDEARESTSWEETEST AMELIA    With whatmingled joy and sorrow do I take up thepen towrite to my dearest friend!  Ohwhat a changebetweento-day and yesterday! Now I am friendless andalone;yesterday I was at homein the sweet companyof asisterwhom I shall everever cherish! I will nottell you in what tears and sadness I passedthe fatalnight in which I separated from you.  YOU wenton Tuesdayto joy and happinesswith your mother andYOURDEVOTED YOUNG SOLDIER by your side; and I thoughtof you allnightdancing at the Perkins'sthe prettiestI am sureof all the young ladies at the Ball.  I wasbrought bythe groom in the old carriage to Sir PittCrawley'stown housewhereafter John the groom hadbehavedmost rudely and insolently to me (alas! 'twassafe toinsult poverty and misfortune!)I was given overto SirP.'s careand made to pass the night in an oldgloomybedand by the side of a horrid gloomy oldcharwomanwho keeps the house.  I did not sleep onesinglewink the whole night. Sir Pittis not what we silly girlswhen we used toreadCecilia at Chiswickimagined a baronet must havebeen. Anythingindeedless like Lord Orville cannot beimagined. Fancy an oldstumpyshortvulgarand verydirty manin old clothes and shabby old gaiterswhosmokes ahorrid pipeand cooks his own horrid supperin asaucepan.  He speaks with a country accentandswore agreat deal at the old charwomanat the hackneycoachmanwho drove us to the inn where the coach wentfromandon which I made the journey OUTSIDE FOR THEGREATERPART OF THE WAY. I wasawakened at daybreak by the charwomanandhavingarrived at the innwas at first placed inside thecoach. Butwhen we got to a place called Leakingtonwhere therain began to fall very heavily--will youbelieveit?--I was forced to come outside; for Sir Pitt is aproprietorof the coachand as a passenger came atMudburywho wanted an inside placeI was obliged togo outsidein the rainwherehowevera younggentlemanfrom Cambridge College sheltered me verykindly inone of his several great coats. Thisgentleman and the guard seemed to know SirPitt verywelland laughed at him a great deal.  Theybothagreed in calling him an old screw; which means averystingyavaricious person.  He never gives any moneytoanybodythey said (and this meanness I hate); andthe younggentleman made me remark that we drovevery slowfor the last two stages on the roadbecauseSir Pittwas on the boxand because he is proprietorof thehorses for this part of the journey.  "But won't Iflog 'emon to Squashmorewhen I take the ribbons?"said theyoung Cantab.  "And sarve 'em rightMasterJack"said the guard.  When I comprehended themeaning ofthis phraseand that Master Jack intended todrive therest of the wayand revenge himself on SirPitt'shorsesof course I laughed too. A carriageand four splendid horsescovered witharmorialbearingshoweverawaited us at Mudburyfour milesfrom Queen's Crawleyand we made ourentranceto the baronet's park in state.  There is a fineavenue ofa mile long leading to the houseand the womanat thelodge-gate (over the pillars of which are a serpentand adovethe supporters of the Crawley arms)madeus anumber of curtsies as she flung open the old ironcarveddoorswhich are something like those at odiousChiswick. "There'san avenue" said Sir Pitt"a mile long.There'ssix thousand pound of timber in them theretrees. Do you call that nothing?" He pronounced avenue--EVENUEand nothing--NOTHINKso droll; and he hada Mr.Hodsonhis hind from Mudburyinto the carriagewith himand they talked about distrainingand sellingupanddraining and subsoilingand a great deal abouttenantsand farming--much more than I couldunderstand. Sam Miles had been caught poachingand PeterBailey hadgone to the workhouse at last.  "Serve himright"said Sir Pitt; "him and his family has beencheatingme on that farm these hundred and fifty years."Some oldtenantI supposewho could not pay his rent.Sir Pittmight have said "he and his family" to be sure;but richbaronets do not need to be careful aboutgrammaras poor governesses must be. As wepassedI remarked a beautiful church-spirerisingabove some old elms in the park; and before themin themidst of a lawnand some outhousesan old redhouse withtall chimneys covered with ivyand thewindowsshining in the sun.  "Is that your churchsir?"I said. "Yeshang it" (said Sir Pittonly he useddearA MUCHWICKEDERWORD); "how's ButyHodson? Buty's mybrotherButemy dear--my brother the parson.  Buty andthe BeastI call himhaha!" Hodsonlaughed tooand then looking more graveandnodding his headsaid"I'm afraid he's betterSirPitt. He was out on his pony yesterdaylooking at ourcorn." "Lookingafter his titheshang'un (only he used thesamewicked word).  Will brandy and water never killhim? He'sas tough as old whatdyecallum--oldMethusalem." Mr. Hodsonlaughed again.  "The young men is homefromcollege.  They've whopped John Scroggins till he'swell nighdead." "Whopmy second keeper!" roared out Sir Pitt. "Hewas on the parson's groundsir" replied Mr.Hodson;and Sir Pitt in a fury swore that if he ever caught'empoaching on his groundhe'd transport 'emby thelord hewould.  Howeverhe said"I've sold thepresentationof the livingHodson; none of that breedshall getitI war'nt"; and Mr. Hodson said he was quite right:and I haveno doubt from this that the two brothers areatvariance--as brothers often areand sisters too.  Don'tyouremember the two Miss Scratchleys at Chiswickhow theyused always to fight and quarrel--and MaryBoxhowshe was always thumping Louisa? Presentlyseeing two little boys gathering sticks in thewoodMr.Hodson jumped out of the carriageat SirPitt'sorderand rushed upon them with his whip.  "Pitchinto 'emHodson" roared the baronet; "flog their littlesouls outand bring 'em up to the housethe vagabonds;I'llcommit 'em as sure as my name's Pitt." And presentlywe heardMr. Hodson's whip cracking on theshouldersof the poor little blubbering wretchesandSir Pittseeing that the malefactors were in custodydrove onto the hall.

 

All theservants were ready to meet usand. . .

 

HeremydearI was interrupted last night by adreadfulthumping at my door: and who do you think itwas? SirPitt Crawley in his night-cap and dressing-gownsucha figure! As I shrank away from such avisitorhe came forward and seized my candle.  "Nocandlesafter eleven o'clockMiss Becky" said he.  "Go tobed in thedarkyou pretty little hussy" (that is whathe calledme)"and unless you wish me to come for thecandleevery nightmind and be in bed at eleven." Andwith thishe and Mr. Horrocks the butler went offlaughing. You may be sure I shall not encourage any moreof theirvisits.  They let loose two immense bloodhoundsat nightwhich all last night were yelling and howlingat themoon.  "I call the dog Gorer" said Sir Pitt; "he'skilled aman that dog hasand is master of a bullandthe motherI used to call Flora; but now I calls herAroarerfor she's too old to bite.  Hawhaw!" Before thehouse of Queen's Crawleywhich is anodiousold-fashioned red brick mansionwith tallchimneysand gables of the style of Queen Bessthere is aterraceflanked by the family dove and serpentand onwhich thegreat hall-door opens.  And ohmy dearthegreat hallI am sure is as big and as glum as the greathall inthe dear castle of Udolpho.  It has a largefireplacein which we might put half Miss Pinkerton'sschooland the grate is big enough to roast an ox at theveryleast.  Round the room hang I don't know howmanygenerations of Crawleyssome with beards andruffssome with huge wigs and toes turned outsomedressed inlong straight stays and gowns that look asstiff astowersand some with long ringletsand ohmydear!scarcely any stays at all.  At one end of the hall isthe greatstaircase all in black oakas dismal as may beand oneither side are tall doors with stags' heads.overthemleading to the billiard-room and the libraryandthe greatyellow saloon and the morning-rooms.  I thinkthere areat least twenty bedrooms on the first floor; oneof themhas the bed in which Queen Elizabeth slept;and I havebeen taken by my new pupils through allthese fineapartments this morning.  They are notrenderedless gloomyI promise youby having the shuttersalwaysshut; and there is scarce one of the apartmentsbut whenthe light was let into itI expected tosee aghost in the room.  We have a schoolroom on thesecondfloorwith my bedroom leading into it on onesideandthat of the young ladies on the other.  Thenthere areMr. Pitt's apartments--Mr. Crawleyhe iscalled--theeldest sonand Mr. Rawdon Crawley's rooms--he is anofficer like SOMEBODYand away with hisregiment. There is no want of room I assure you.  Youmightlodge all the people in Russell Square in thehouseIthinkand have space to spare.

 

Half anhour after our arrivalthe great dinner-bellwas rungand I came down with my two pupils (theyare verythin insignificant little chits of ten and eightyearsold).  I came down in your dear muslin gown(aboutwhich that odious Mrs. Pinner was so rudebecauseyou gave it me); for I am to be treated as one ofthefamilyexcept on company dayswhen the youngladies andI are to dine upstairs.

 

Wellthegreat dinner-bell rangand we all assembledin thelittle drawing-room where my Lady Crawleysits. She is the second Lady Crawleyand mother of theyoungladies.  She was an ironmonger's daughterandhermarriage was thought a great match.  She looks asif she hadbeen handsome onceand her eyes are alwaysweepingfor the loss of her beauty.  She is pale andmeagre andhigh-shoulderedand has not a word to sayforherselfevidently.  Her stepson Mr. Crawleywaslikewisein the room.  He was in full dressas pompousas anundertaker.  He is palethinuglysilent; he hasthin legsno chesthay-coloured whiskersand straw-colouredhair.  He is the very picture of his saintedmotherover the mantelpiece--Griselda of the noblehouse ofBinkie.

 

"Thisis the new governessMr. Crawley" said LadyCrawleycoming forward and taking my hand.  "MissSharp."

 

"0!"said Mr. Crawleyand pushed his head onceforwardand began again to read a great pamphletwith whichhe was busy.

 

"Ihope you will be kind to my girls" said LadyCrawleywith her pink eyes always full of tears.

 

"LawMaof course she will" said the eldest: and Isaw at aglance that I need not be afraid of THAT woman."Mylady is served" says the butler in blackin animmensewhite shirt-frillthat looked as if it had beenone of theQueen Elizabeth's ruffs depicted in the hall;and sotaking Mr. Crawley's armshe led the way to thedining-roomwhither I followed with my little pupils ineach hand.

 

Sir Pittwas already in the room with a silver jug.  Hehad justbeen to the cellarand was in full dress too;that ishe had taken his gaiters offand showed his littledumpy legsin black worsted stockings.  The sideboardwascovered with glistening old plate--old cupsbothgold andsilver; old salvers and cruet-standslikeRundelland Bridge's shop.  Everything on the table was insilvertooand two footmenwith red hair and canary-colouredliveriesstood on either side of the sideboard.

 

Mr.Crawley said a long graceand Sir Pitt said amenand thegreat silver dish-covers were removed.

 

"Whathave we for dinnerBetsy?' said the Baronet.

 

"MuttonbrothI believeSir Pitt" answered LadyCrawley.

 

"Moutonaux navets" added the butler gravely(pronounceif you pleasemoutongonavvy); "and thesoup ispotage de mouton a l'Ecossaise.  The side-dishescontainpommes de terre au natureland choufleur a l'eau."

 

"Mutton'smutton" said the Baronet"and a devilishgoodthing.  What SHIP was itHorrocksand when didyou kill?"

 

"Oneof the black-faced ScotchSir Pitt: we killed on Thursday.

 

"Whotook any?"

 

"Steelof Mudburytook the saddle and two legsSirPitt; buthe says the last was too young and confoundedwoollySir Pitt."

 

"Willyou take some potageMiss ah--Miss Blunt?said Mr.Crawley.

 

"CapitalScotch brothmy dear" said Sir Pitt"thoughthey callit by a French name."

 

"Ibelieve it is the customsirin decent society" saidMr.Crawleyhaughtily"to call the dish as I have calledit";and it was served to us on silver soup plates by the

 

footmen inthe canary coatswith the mouton auxnavets. Then "ale and water" were broughtand servedto usyoung ladies in wine-glasses.  I am not a judge ofalebut Ican say with a clear conscience I prefer water.

 

While wewere enjoying our repastSir Pitt tookoccasionto ask what had become of the shoulders ofthemutton.

 

"Ibelieve they were eaten in the servants' hall" saidmy ladyhumbly.

 

"Theywasmy lady" said Horrocks"and preciouslittleelse we get there neither."

 

Sir Pittburst into a horse-laughand continued hisconversationwith Mr. Horrocks.  "That there little blackpig of theKent sow's breed must be uncommon fatnow."

 

"It'snot quite bustingSir Pitt" said the butler withthegravest airat which Sir Pittand with him the youngladiesthis timebegan to laugh violently.

 

"MissCrawleyMiss Rose Crawley" said Mr. Crawley"yourlaughter strikes me as being exceedingly outof place."

 

"Nevermindmy lord" said the Baronet"we'll trythe porkeron Saturday.  Kill un on Saturday morningJohnHorrocks.  Miss Sharp adores porkdon't youMissSharp?"

 

And Ithink this is all the conversation that I rememberatdinner.  When the repast was concluded a jug ofhot waterwas placed before Sir Pittwith a case-bottlecontainingI believerum.  Mr. Horrocks served myselfand mypupils with three little glasses of wineand abumper waspoured out for my lady.  When we retiredshe tookfrom her work-drawer an enormous interminablepiece ofknitting; the young ladies began to play atcribbagewith a dirty pack of cards.  We had but onecandlelightedbut it was in a magnificent old silvercandlestickand after a very few questions from my ladyI had mychoice of amusement between a volume ofsermonsand a pamphlet on the corn-lawswhich Mr.Crawleyhad been reading before dinner.

 

So we satfor an hour until steps were heard.

 

"Putaway the cardsgirls" cried my ladyin a greattremor;"put down Mr. Crawley's booksMiss Sharp";and theseorders had been scarcely obeyedwhen Mr.Crawleyentered the room.

 

"Wewill resume yesterday's discourseyoung ladies"said he"and you shall each read a page by turns; sothat Missa--Miss Short may have an opportunity ofhearingyou"; and the poor girls began to spell a longdismalsermon delivered at Bethesda ChapelLiverpoolon behalfof the mission for the Chickasaw Indians.Was it nota charming evening?

 

At ten theservants were told to call Sir Pitt and thehouseholdto prayers.  Sir Pitt came in firstvery muchflushedand rather unsteady in his gait; and after himthebutlerthe canariesMr. Crawley's manthree othermensmelling very much of the stableand four womenone ofwhomI remarkedwas very much overdressedand whoflung me a look of great scorn as she plumpeddown onher knees.

 

After Mr.Crawley had done haranguing andexpoundingwe received our candlesand then wewent tobed; and then I was disturbed in my writingasI havedescribed to my dearest sweetest Amelia.

 

Goodnight.  A thousandthousandthousand kisses!

 

Saturday.--Thismorningat fiveI heard theshriekingof the little black pig.  Rose and Violet introducedme to ityesterday; and to the stablesand to the kenneland to thegardenerwho was picking fruit to send tomarketand from whom they begged hard a bunch ofhot-housegrapes; but he said that Sir Pitt had numberedevery "ManJack" of themand it would be as much ashis placewas worth to give any away.  The darling girlscaught acolt in a paddockand asked me if I wouldrideandbegan to ride themselveswhen the groomcomingwith horrid oathsdrove them away.

 

LadyCrawley is always knitting the worsted.  Sir Pittis alwaystipsyevery night; andI believesits withHorrocksthe butler.  Mr. Crawley always reads sermonsin theeveningand in the morning is locked up in hisstudyorelse rides to Mudburyon county businessor toSquashmorewhere he preacheson WednesdaysandFridaysto the tenants there.

 

A hundredthousand grateful loves to your dear papaandmamma.  Is your poor brother recovered of his rack-punch? Ohdear! Ohdear! How men should beware ofwickedpunch!

 

Ever andever thine ownREBECCA

 

EverythingconsideredI think it is quite as well forour dearAmelia Sedleyin Russell Squarethat MissSharp andshe are parted.  Rebecca is a droll funnycreatureto be sure; and those descriptions of the poor ladyweepingfor the loss of her beautyand the gentleman"withhay-coloured whiskers and straw-coloured hair"are verysmartdoubtlessand show a great knowledgeof theworld.  That she mightwhen on her kneeshavebeenthinking of something better than Miss Horrocks'sribbonshas possibly struck both of us.  But my kindreaderwill please to remember that this history has"VanityFair" for a titleand that Vanity Fair is avery vainwickedfoolish placefull of all sorts ofhumbugsand falsenesses and pretensions.  And while themoralistwho is holding forth on the cover ( an accurateportraitof your humble servant)professes to wearneithergown nor bandsbut only the very same long-earedlivery in which his congregation is arrayed: yetlook youone is bound to speak the truth as far as oneknows itwhether one mounts a cap and bells or a shovelhat; and adeal of disagreeable matter must come outin thecourse of such an undertaking.

 

I haveheard a brother of the story-telling tradeatNaplespreaching to a pack of good-for-nothing honestlazyfellows by the sea-shorework himself up into such arage andpassion with some of the villains whose wickeddeeds hewas describing and inventingthat the audiencecould notresist it; and they and the poet together wouldburst outinto a roar of oaths and execrations againstthefictitious monster of the taleso that the hat wentroundandthe bajocchi tumbled into itin the midst ofa perfectstorm of sympathy.

 

At thelittle Paris theatreson the other handyou willnot onlyhear the people yelling out "Ah gredin! Ahmonstre:"and cursing the tyrant of the play from theboxes; butthe actors themselves positively refuse to playthe wickedpartssuch as those of infames AnglaisbrutalCossacksand what notand prefer to appearat asmaller salaryin their real characters as loyalFrenchmen. I set the two stories one against the otherso thatyou may see that it is not from mere mercenarymotivesthat the present performer is desirous to showup andtrounce his villains; but because he has a sincerehatred ofthemwhich he cannot keep downand whichmust finda vent in suitable abuse and bad language.

 

I warn my"kyind friends" thenthat I am going totell astory of harrowing villainy and complicated--butas Itrustintensely interesting--crime.  My rascals arenomilk-and-water rascalsI promise you.  When we cometo theproper places we won't spare fine language--Nono! Butwhen we are going over the quiet country wemustperforce be calm.  A tempest in a slop-basin isabsurd. We will reserve that sort of thing for the mightyocean andthe lonely midnight.  The present Chapter isverymild.  Others--But we will not anticipate THOSE.

 

Andas webring our characters forwardI will askleaveasa man and a brothernot only to introducethembutoccasionally to step down from the platformand talkabout them: if they are good and kindlytolove themand shake them by the hand: if they are sillyto laughat them confidentially in the reader's sleeve:if theyare wicked and heartlessto abuse them in thestrongestterms which politeness admits of.

 

Otherwiseyou might fancy it was I who was sneeringat thepractice of devotionwhich Miss Sharp finds soridiculous;that it was I who laughed good-humouredlyat thereeling old Silenus of a baronet--whereas thelaughtercomes from one who has no reverence exceptforprosperityand no eye for anything beyond success.Suchpeople there are living and flourishing in the world--FaithlessHopelessCharityless: let us have at themdearfriendswith might and main.  Some there areandverysuccessful toomere quacks and fools: and it wasto combatand expose such as thoseno doubtthatLaughterwas made.

 

 

           

 

CHAPTER IXFamilyPortraits

 

Sir PittCrawley was a philosopher with a taste for what iscalled lowlife.  His first marriage with the daughter ofthe nobleBinkie had been made under the auspices ofhisparents; and as he often told Lady Crawley in herlifetimeshe was such a confounded quarrelsome high-bredjade thatwhen she died he was hanged if he would ever takeanother ofher sortat her ladyship's demise he kept hispromiseand selected for a second wife Miss Rose Dawsondaughterof Mr. John Thomas Dawsonironmongerof Mudbury.What ahappy woman was Rose to be my Lady Crawley!

 

Let us setdown the items of her happiness.  In thefirstplaceshe gave up Peter Butta young man whokeptcompany with herand in consequence of hisdisappointmentin lovetook to smugglingpoachingand athousandother bad courses.  Then she quarrelledas indutyboundwith all the friends and intimates of her youthwhoofcoursecould not be received by my Lady atQueen'sCrawley--nor did she find in her new rank andabode anypersons who were willing to welcome her.Who everdid? Sir Huddleston Fuddleston had threedaughterswho all hoped to be Lady Crawley.  Sir GilesWapshot'sfamily were insulted that one of the Wapshotgirls hadnot the preference in the marriageand theremainingbaronets of the county were indignant at theircomrade'smisalliance.  Never mind the commonerswhomwe willleave to grumble anonymously.

 

Sir Pittdid not careas he saida brass farden forany one ofthem.  He had his pretty Roseand whatmore needa man require than to please himself? So heused toget drunk every night: to beat his pretty Rosesometimes:to leave her in Hampshire when he went toLondon forthe parliamentary sessionwithout a singlefriend inthe wide world.  Even Mrs. Bute CrawleytheRector'swiferefused to visit heras she said she wouldnever givethe pas to a tradesman's daughter.

 

As theonly endowments with which Nature had giftedLadyCrawley were those of pink cheeks and a whiteskinandas she had no sort of characternor talentsnoropinionsnor occupationsnor amusementsnor thatvigour ofsoul and ferocity of temper which often fallsto the lotof entirely foolish womenher hold upon SirPitt'saffections was not very great.  Her roses faded outof hercheeksand the pretty freshness left her figureafter thebirth of a couple of childrenand she becamea meremachine in her husband's house of no more usethan thelate Lady Crawley's grand piano.  Being a light-complexionedwomanshe wore light clothesas mostblondeswilland appearedin preferencein draggled sea-greenorslatternly sky-blue.  She worked that worstedday andnightor other pieces like it.  She hadcounterpanesin the course of a few years to all the beds inCrawley. She had a small flower-gardenfor which shehad ratheran affection; but beyond this no other likeordisliking.  When her husband was rude to her she wasapathetic:whenever he struck her she cried.  She had notcharacterenough to take to drinkingand moaned aboutslipshodand in curl-papers all day.  0 Vanity Fair--VanityFair! This might have beenbut for youa cheerylass--PeterButt and Rose a happy man and wifein asnug farmwith a hearty family; and an honest portionofpleasurescareshopes and struggles--but a title anda coachand four are toys more precious than happinessin VanityFair: and if Harry the Eighth or Bluebeardwere alivenowand wanted a tenth wifedo you supposehe couldnot get the prettiest girl that shall be presentedthisseason?

 

Thelanguid dulness of their mamma did notas itmay besupposedawaken much affection in her littledaughtersbut they were very happy in the servants' halland in thestables; and the Scotch gardener havingluckily agood wife and some good childrenthey got alittlewholesome society and instruction in his lodgewhich wasthe only education bestowed upon them untilMiss Sharpcame.

 

Herengagement was owing to the remonstrances ofMr. PittCrawleythe only friend or protector LadyCrawleyever hadand the only personbesides herchildrenfor whom she entertained a little feebleattachment. Mr. Pitt took after the noble Binkiesfromwhom hewas descendedand was a very polite and propergentleman. When he grew to man's estateand cameback fromChristchurchhe began to reform theslackeneddiscipline of the hallin spite of his fatherwhostood inawe of him.  He was a man of such rigidrefinementthat he would have starved rather than havedinedwithout a white neckcloth.  Oncewhen just fromcollegeand when Horrocks the butler brought him aletterwithout placing it previously on a trayhe gavethatdomestic a lookand administered to him a speechsocuttingthat Horrocks ever after trembled before him;the wholehousehold bowed to him: Lady Crawley's curl-paperscame off earlier when he was at home: Sir Pitt'smuddygaiters disappeared; and if that incorrigible oldman stilladhered to other old habitshe never fuddledhimselfwith rum-and-water in his son's presenceandonlytalked to his servants in a very reserved and politemanner;and those persons remarked that Sir Pitt neverswore atLady Crawley while his son was in the room.

 

It was hewho taught the butler to say"My lady isserved"and who insisted on handing her ladyship in todinner. He seldom spoke to herbut when he did it waswith themost powerful respect; and he never let herquit theapartment without rising in the most statelymanner toopen the doorand making an elegant bowat heregress.

 

At Eton hewas called Miss Crawley; and thereIam sorryto sayhis younger brother Rawdon used tolick himviolently.  But though his parts were notbrillianthe made up for his lack of talent by meritoriousindustryand was never knownduring eight years atschooltobe subject to that punishment which it isgenerallythought none but a cherub can escape.

 

At collegehis career was of course highly creditable.And herehe prepared himself for public lifeinto whichhe was tobe introduced by the patronage of hisgrandfatherLord Binkieby studying the ancient and modernoratorswith great assiduityand by speaking unceasinglyat thedebating societies.  But though he had a fine fluxof wordsand delivered his little voice with greatpomposityand pleasure to himselfand never advancedanysentiment or opinion which was not perfectly trite andstaleandsupported by a Latin quotation; yet he failedsomehowin spite of a mediocrity which ought to haveinsuredany man a success.  He did not even get theprizepoemwhich all his friends said he was sure of.

 

Afterleaving college he became Private Secretary toLordBinkieand was then appointed Attache to theLegationat Pumpernickelwhich post he filled withperfecthonourand brought home despatchesconsisting ofStrasburgpieto the Foreign Minister of the day.  Afterremainingten years Attache (several years after thelamentedLord Binkie's demise)and finding theadvancementslowhe at length gave up the diplomaticservice insome disgustand began to turn country gentleman.

 

He wrote apamphlet on Malt on returning to England(for hewas an ambitious manand always likedto bebefore the public)and took a strong part in theNegroEmancipation question.  Then he became a friendof Mr.Wilberforce'swhose politics he admiredand hadthatfamous correspondence with the Reverend SilasHornbloweron the Ashantee Mission.  He was inLondonifnot for the Parliament sessionat least in Mayfor thereligious meetings.  In the country he was amagistrateand an active visitor and speaker among thosedestituteof religious instruction.  He was said to bepaying hisaddresses to Lady Jane SheepshanksLordSouthdown'sthird daughterand whose sisterLady Emilywrotethose sweet tracts"The Sailor's True Binnacle"and "TheApplewoman of Finchley Common."

 

MissSharp's accounts of his employment at Queen'sCrawleywere not caricatures.  He subjected the servantsthere tothe devotional exercises before mentionedinwhich (andso much the better) he brought his fatherto join. He patronised an Independent meeting-house inCrawleyparishmuch to the indignation of his uncle theRectorand to the consequent delight of Sir Pittwhowasinduced to go himself once or twicewhich occasionedsomeviolent sermons at Crawley parish churchdirectedpoint-blankat the Baronet's old Gothic pew there.  HonestSir Pitthoweverdid not feel the force of thesediscoursesas he always took his nap during sermon-time.

 

Mr.Crawley was very earnestfor the good of thenation andof the Christian worldthat the old gentlemanshouldyield him up his place in Parliament; but this theelderconstantly refused to do.  Both were of course tooprudent togive up the fifteen hundred a year which wasbrought inby the second seat (at this period filled byMr.Quadroonwith carte blanche on the Slave question);indeed thefamily estate was much embarrassedand theincomedrawn from the borough was of great use to thehouse ofQueen's Crawley.

 

It hadnever recovered the heavy fine imposed uponWalpoleCrawleyfirst baronetfor peculation in the TapeandSealing Wax Office.  Sir Walpole was a jolly felloweager toseize and to spend money (alieni appetenssuiprofususas Mr. Crawley would remark with a sigh)and in hisday beloved by all the county for theconstantdrunkenness and hospitality which was maintainedat Queen'sCrawley.  The cellars were filled with burgundythenthekennels with houndsand the stables withgallanthunters; nowsuch horses as Queen's Crawleypossessedwent to ploughor ran in the Trafalgar Coach;and it waswith a team of these very horseson an off-daythatMiss Sharp was brought to the Hall; for booras he wasSir Pitt was a stickler for his dignity whileat homeand seldom drove out but with four horsesand thoughhe dined off boiled muttonhad always threefootmen toserve it.

 

If mereparsimony could have made a man richSirPittCrawley might have become very wealthy--if hehad beenan attorney in a country townwith no capitalbut hisbrainsit is very possible that he would haveturnedthem to good accountand might have achievedforhimself a very considerable influence and competency.But he wasunluckily endowed with a good nameand alarge though encumbered estateboth of whichwentrather to injure than to advance him.  He had ataste forlawwhich cost him many thousands yearly;and beinga great deal too clever to be robbedas hesaidbyany single agentallowed his affairs to bemismanagedby a dozenwhom he all equally mistrusted.He wassuch a sharp landlordthat he could hardly findany butbankrupt tenants; and such a close farmerasto grudgealmost the seed to the groundwhereuponrevengefulNature grudged him the crops which shegranted tomore liberal husbandmen.  He speculated ineverypossible way; he worked mines; bought canal-shares;horsedcoaches; took government contractsand wasthebusiest man and magistrate of his county.  As hewould notpay honest agents at his granite quarryhehad thesatisfaction of finding that four overseers ranawayandtook fortunes with them to America.  For wantof properprecautionshis coal-mines filled with water:thegovernment flung his contract of damaged beef uponhis hands:and for his coach-horsesevery mail proprietorin thekingdom knew that he lost more horses than anyman in thecountryfrom underfeeding and buying cheap.Indisposition he was sociableand far from being proud;nayherather preferred the society of a farmer or ahorse-dealerto that of a gentlemanlike my lordhisson: hewas fond of drinkof swearingof joking withthefarmers' daughters: he was never known to give awaya shillingor to do a good actionbut was of a pleasantslylaughing moodand would cut his joke and drinkhis glasswith a tenant and sell him up the next day;or havehis laugh with the poacher he was transportingwith equalgood humour.  His politeness for the fair sexhasalready been hinted at by Miss Rebecca Sharp--ina wordthe whole baronetagepeeragecommonage ofEnglanddid not contain a more cunningmeanselfishfoolishdisreputable old man.  That blood-red hand ofSir PittCrawley's would be in anybody's pocket excepthis own;and it is with grief and painthatas admirersof theBritish aristocracywe find ourselves obliged toadmit theexistence of so many ill qualities in a personwhose nameis in Debrett.

 

One greatcause why Mr. Crawley had such a holdover theaffections of his fatherresulted from moneyarrangements. The Baronet owed his son a sum of moneyout of thejointure of his motherwhich he did not finditconvenient to pay; indeed he had an almost invinciblerepugnanceto paying anybodyand could only be broughtby forceto discharge his debts.  Miss Sharp calculated(for shebecameas we shall hear speedilyinductedinto mostof the secrets of the family) that the merepayment ofhis creditors cost the honourable Baronetseveralhundreds yearly; but this was a delight he couldnotforego; he had a savage pleasure in making the poorwretcheswaitand in shifting from court to court andfrom termto term the period of satisfaction.  What's thegood ofbeing in Parliamenthe saidif you must pay yourdebts?Henceindeedhis position as a senator was nota littleuseful to him.

 

VanityFair--Vanity Fair!  Here was a manwho couldnot spelland did not care to read--who had the habitsand thecunning of a boor: whose aim in life waspettifogging:who never had a tasteor emotionorenjoymentbut what was sordid and foul; and yet he hadrankandhonoursand powersomehow: and was adignitaryof the landand a pillar of the state.  He washighsheriffand rode in a golden coach.  Great ministersandstatesmen courted him; and in Vanity Fair he had ahigherplace than the most brilliant genius or spotlessvirtue.

 

Sir Pitthad an unmarried half-sister who inherited hermother'slarge fortuneand though the Baronet proposedto borrowthis money of her on mortgageMiss Crawleydeclinedthe offerand preferred the security of the funds.She hadsignifiedhoweverher intention of leaving herinheritancebetween Sir Pitt's second son and the familyat theRectoryand had once or twice paid the debts ofRawdonCrawley in his career at college and in the army.MissCrawley wasin consequencean object of greatrespectwhen she came to Queen's Crawleyfor she hada balanceat her banker's which would have made herbelovedanywhere.

 

What adignity it gives an old ladythat balance atthebanker's!  How tenderly we look at her faults if sheis arelative (and may every reader have a score of such)what akind good-natured old creature we find her!  Howthe juniorpartner of Hobbs and Dobbs leads her smilingto thecarriage with the lozenge upon itand the fatwheezycoachman! Howwhen she comes to pay us avisitwegenerally find an opportunity to let our friendsknow herstation in the world!  We say (and with perfecttruth) Iwish I had Miss MacWhirter's signature to acheque forfive thousand pounds.  She wouldn't miss itsays yourwife.  She is my auntsay youin an easycarelesswaywhen your friend asks if Miss MacWhirter isanyrelative.  Your wife is perpetually sending her littletestimoniesof affectionyour little girls work endlessworstedbasketscushionsand footstools for her.  What agood firethere is in her room when she comes to payyou avisitalthough your wife laces her stays withoutone! The house during her stay assumes a festiveneatwarmjovialsnug appearance not visible at otherseasons. You yourselfdear sirforget to go to sleep afterdinnerand find yourself all of a sudden (though youinvariablylose) very fond of a rubber.  What gooddinnersyou have--game every dayMalmsey-Madeiraandno end offish from London.  Even the servants in thekitchenshare in the general prosperity; andsomehowduring thestay of Miss MacWhirter's fat coachmanthebeer isgrown much strongerand the consumption of teaand sugarin the nursery (where her maid takes hermeals) isnot regarded in the least.  Is it soor is it notso? I appeal to the middle classes.  Ahgracious powers!I wish youwould send me an old aunt--a maiden aunt--an auntwith a lozenge on her carriageand a frontof lightcoffee-coloured hair--how my children shouldworkworkbags for herand my Julia and I would makehercomfortable! Sweet--sweet vision! Foolish--foolishdream!

 

 

 

 

CHAPTER XMissSharp Begins to Make Friends

 

And nowbeing received as a member of the amiablefamilywhose portraits we have sketched in the foregoingpagesitbecame naturally Rebecca's duty to makeherselfas she saidagreeable to her benefactorsand togain theirconfidence to the utmost of her power.  Whocan butadmire this quality of gratitude in an unprotectedorphan;andif there entered some degree of selfishnessinto hercalculationswho can say but that herprudencewas perfectly justifiable?  "I am alone in theworld"said the friendless girl.  "I have nothing to lookfor butwhat my own labour can bring me; and whilethatlittle pink-faced chit Ameliawith not half my sensehas tenthousand pounds and an establishment securepoorRebecca (and my figure is far better than hers)has onlyherself and her own wits to trust to.  Wellletus see ifmy wits cannot provide me with an honourablemaintenanceand if some day or the other I cannot showMissAmelia my real superiority over her.  Not that Idislikepoor Amelia: who can dislike such a harmlessgood-naturedcreature?--only it will be a fine day whenI can takemy place above her in the worldas whyindeedshould I not?"  Thus it was that our littleromanticfriend formed visions of the future for herself--nor mustwe be scandalised thatin all her castles inthe airahusband was the principal inhabitant.  Ofwhat elsehave young ladies to thinkbut husbands? Ofwhat elsedo their dear mammas think?  "I must be myownmamma" said Rebecca; not without a tinglingconsciousnessof defeatas she thought over her littlemisadventurewith Jos Sedley.

 

So shewisely determined to render her position withtheQueen's Crawley family comfortable and secureandto thisend resolved to make friends of every one aroundher whocould at all interfere with her comfort.

 

As my LadyCrawley was not one of these personagesand awomanmoreoverso indolent and void ofcharacteras not to be of the least consequence in her ownhouseRebecca soon found that it was not at all necessarytocultivate her good will--indeedimpossible to gain it.  Sheused totalk to her pupils about their "poor mamma"; andthough shetreated that lady with every demonstrationof coolrespectit was to the rest of the family that shewiselydirected the chief part of her attentions.

 

With theyoung peoplewhose applause she thoroughlygainedher method was pretty simple.  She did notpestertheir young brains with too much learningbuton thecontrarylet them have their own way inregard toeducating themselves; for what instruction is moreeffectualthan self-instruction? The eldest was rather fondof booksand as there was in the old library at Queen'sCrawley aconsiderable provision of works of lightliteratureof the last centuryboth in the French and Englishlanguages(they had been purchased by the Secretaryof theTape and Sealing Wax Office at the period of hisdisgrace)and as nobody ever troubled the book-shelvesbutherselfRebecca was enabled agreeablyandasit werein playingto impart a great deal of instructionto MissRose Crawley.

 

She andMiss Rose thus read together many delightfulFrench andEnglish worksamong which may bementionedthose of the learned Dr. Smollettof the ingeniousMr. HenryFieldingof the graceful and fantasticMonsieurCrebillon the youngerwhom our immortal poetGray somuch admiredand of the universal Monsieur deVoltaire. Oncewhen Mr. Crawley asked what the youngpeoplewere readingthe governess replied "Smollett.""OhSmollett" said Mr. Crawleyquite satisfied.  "Hishistory ismore dullbut by no means so dangerous asthat ofMr. Hume.  It is history you are reading?" "Yes"said MissRose; withouthoweveradding that it was thehistory ofMr. Humphrey Clinker.  On another occasionhe wasrather scandalised at finding his sister with abook ofFrench plays; but as the governess remarkedthat itwas for the purpose of acquiring the French idiominconversationhe was fain to be content.  Mr. Crawleyas adiplomatistwas exceedingly proud of his own skillinspeaking the French language (for he was of the worldstill)and not a little pleased with the compliments whichthegoverness continually paid him upon his proficiency.

 

MissViolet's tastes wereon the contrarymore rudeandboisterous than those of her sister.  She knew thesequesteredspots where the hens laid their eggs.  Shecouldclimb a tree to rob the nests of the featheredsongstersof their speckled spoils.  And her pleasure was toride theyoung coltsand to scour the plains like Camilla.She wasthe favourite of her father and of the stablemen.She wasthe darlingand withal the terror of thecook; forshe discovered the haunts of the jam-potsandwouldattack them when they were within her reach.She andher sister were engaged in constant battles.  Anyof whichpeccadilloesif Miss Sharp discoveredshe didnot tellthem to Lady Crawley; who would have toldthem tothe fatheror worseto Mr. Crawley; butpromisednot to tell if Miss Violet would be a good girland loveher governess.

 

With Mr.Crawley Miss Sharp was respectful andobedient. She used to consult him on passages of Frenchwhich shecould not understandthough her mother wasaFrenchwomanand which he would construe to hersatisfaction:andbesides giving her his aid in profaneliteraturehe was kind enough to select for her booksof a moreserious tendencyand address to her much ofhisconversation.  She admiredbeyond measurehisspeech atthe Quashimaboo-Aid Society; took aninterestin his pamphlet on malt: was often affectedevento tearsby his discourses of an eveningand wouldsay--"Ohthank yousir" with a sighand a look upto heaventhat made him occasionally condescend toshakehands with her.  "Blood is everythingafter all"would thataristocratic religionist say.  "How Miss Sharpisawakened by my wordswhen not one of the peoplehere istouched.  I am too fine for them--too delicate.I mustfamiliarise my style--but she understands it.  Hermother wasa Montmorency."

 

Indeed itwas from this famous familyas it appearsthat MissSharpby the mother's sidewas descended.Of courseshe did not say that her mother had been onthe stage;it would have shocked Mr. Crawley's religiousscruples. How many noble emigres had this horridrevolutionplunged in poverty!  She had several storiesabout herancestors ere she had been many months inthe house;some of which Mr. Crawley happened to findinD'Hozier's dictionarywhich was in the libraryandwhichstrengthened his belief in their truthand in thehigh-breedingof Rebecca.  Are we to suppose from thiscuriosityand prying into dictionariescould our heroinesupposethat Mr. Crawley was interested in her?--noonly in afriendly way.  Have we not stated that he wasattachedto Lady Jane Sheepshanks?

 

He tookRebecca to task once or twice about theproprietyof playing at backgammon with Sir Pittsayingthat itwas a godless amusementand that she would bemuchbetter engaged in reading "Thrump's Legacy" or"TheBlind Washerwoman of Moorfields" or any workof a moreserious nature; but Miss Sharp said her dearmotherused often to play the same game with the oldCount deTrictrac and the venerable Abbe du Cornetand sofound an excuse for this and other worldlyamusements.

 

But it wasnot only by playing at backgammon withtheBaronetthat the little governess rendered herselfagreeableto her employer.  She found many differentways ofbeing useful to him.  She read overwithindefatigablepatienceall those law paperswith whichbefore shecame to Queen's Crawleyhe had promisedtoentertain her.  She volunteered to copy many of hislettersand adroitly altered the spelling of them so asto suitthe usages of the present day.  She becameinterestedin everything appertaining to the estateto thefarmtheparkthe gardenand the stables; and so delightfulacompanion was shethat the Baronet would seldomtake hisafter-breakfast walk without her (and thechildrenof course)when she would give her advice as tothe treeswhich were to be lopped in the shrubberiesthegarden-bedsto be dugthe crops which were to be cutthe horseswhich were to go to cart or plough.  Beforeshe hadbeen a year at Queen's Crawley she had quitewon theBaronet's confidence; and the conversation at thedinner-tablewhich before used to be held between himand Mr.Horrocks the butlerwas now almost exclusivelybetweenSir Pitt and Miss Sharp.  She was almostmistressof the house when Mr. Crawley was absentbutconductedherself in her new and exalted situation withsuchcircumspection and modesty as not to offend theauthoritiesof the kitchen and stableamong whom herbehaviourwas always exceedingly modest and affable.  Shewas quitea different person from the haughtyshydissatisfiedlittle girl whom we have known previouslyandthischange of temper proved great prudencea sinceredesire ofamendmentor at any rate great moral courageon herpart.  Whether it was the heart which dictated thisnew systemof complaisance and humility adopted by ourRebeccais to be proved by her after-history.  A systemofhypocrisywhich lasts through whole yearsis oneseldomsatisfactorily practised by a person of one-and-twenty;howeverour readers will recollectthatthoughyoung inyearsour heroine was old in life and experienceand wehave written to no purpose if they have notdiscoveredthat she was a very clever woman. The elderand younger son of the house of Crawleywerelikethe gentleman and lady in the weather-boxnever athome together--they hated each other cordially:indeedRawdon Crawleythe dragoonhad a greatcontemptfor the establishment altogetherand seldom camethitherexcept when his aunt paid her annual visit. The greatgood quality of this old lady has beenmentioned. She possessed seventy thousand poundsandhad almostadopted Rawdon.  She disliked her elder nephewexceedinglyand despised him as a milksop.  In returnhe did nothesitate to state that her soul was irretrievablylostandwas of opinion that his brother's chancein thenext world was not a whit better.  "She is agodlesswoman of the world" would Mr. Crawley say; "shelives withatheists and Frenchmen.  My mind shudderswhen Ithink of her awfulawful situationand thatnear asshe is to the graveshe should be so given upto vanitylicentiousnessprofanenessand folly." In factthe oldlady declined altogether to hear his hour's lectureof anevening; and when she came to Queen's Crawleyalonehewas obliged to pretermit his usual devotionalexercises. "Shutup your sarmonsPittwhen Miss Crawleycomesdown" said his father; "she has written to saythat shewon't stand the preachifying." "Osir! consider the servants." "Theservants be hanged" said Sir Pitt; and his sonthoughteven worse would happen were they deprived ofthebenefit of his instruction. "Whyhang itPitt!" said the father to his remonstrance."Youwouldn't be such a flat as to let three thousand ayear goout of the family?" "Whatis money compared to our soulssir?" continuedMr.Crawley. "Youmean that the old lady won't leave the moneytoyou?"--and who knows but it was Mr. Crawley'smeaning? Old MissCrawley was certainly one of the reprobate.She had asnug little house in Park Laneandas she ateand dranka great deal too much during the season inLondonshe went to Harrowgate or Cheltenham forthesummer.  She was the most hospitable and jovial ofoldvestalsand had been a beauty in her dayshe said.(All oldwomen were beauties oncewe very well know.)She was abel espritand a dreadful Radical for thosedays. She had been in France (where St. Justthey sayinspiredher with an unfortunate passion)and lovedeverafterFrench novelsFrench cookeryand Frenchwines. She read Voltaireand had Rousseau by heart;talkedvery lightly about divorceand most energeticallyof therights of women.  She had pictures of Mr. Foxin everyroom in the house: when that statesman wasinoppositionI am not sure that she had not flung amain withhim; and when he came into officeshe tookgreatcredit for bringing over to him Sir Pitt and hiscolleaguefor Queen's Crawleyalthough Sir Pitt wouldhave comeover himselfwithout any trouble on the honestlady'spart.  It is needless to say that Sir Pitt was broughtto changehis views after the death of the great Whigstatesman. Thisworthy old lady took a fancy to Rawdon Crawleywhen aboysent him to Cambridge (in opposition tohisbrother at Oxford)andwhen the young man wasrequestedby the authorities of the first-named Universityto quitafter a residence of two yearsshe bought himhiscommission in the Life Guards Green. A perfectand celebrated "blood" or dandy about townwas thisyoung officer.  Boxingrat-huntingthe fives courtandfour-in-hand driving were then the fashion of ourBritisharistocracy; and he was an adept in all thesenoblesciences.  And though he belonged to thehouseholdtroopswhoas it was their duty to rally round thePrinceRegenthad not shown their valour in foreignserviceyetRawdon Crawley had already (apropos ofplayofwhich he was immoderately fond) fought threebloodyduelsin which he gave ample proofs of hiscontemptfor death. "Andfor what follows after death" would Mr.Crawleyobservethrowing his gooseberry-coloured eyesup to theceiling.  He was always thinking of his brother'ssoulorof the souls of those who differed with him inopinion:it is a sort of comfort which many of theseriousgive themselves. Sillyromantic Miss Crawleyfar from being horrifiedat thecourage of her favouritealways used to pay hisdebtsafter his duels; and would not listen to a wordthat waswhispered against his morality.  "He will sowhis wildoats" she would say"and is worth far morethan thatpuling hypocrite of a brother of his."

 

 

 

 

CHAPTER XIArcadianSimplicity

 

Besidesthese honest folks at the Hall (whose simplicityand sweetrural purity surely show the advantage of acountrylife over a town one)we must introduce thereader totheir relatives and neighbours at the RectoryButeCrawley and his wife. TheReverend Bute Crawley was a tallstatelyjollyshovel-hattedmanfar more popular in his county thantheBaronet his brother.  At college he pulled stroke-oarin theChristchurch boatand had thrashed all the bestbruisersof the "town." He carried his taste for boxingandathletic exercises into private life; there was not afightwithin twenty miles at which he was not presentnor aracenor a coursing matchnor a regattanor aballnoran electionnor a visitation dinnernor indeeda gooddinner in the whole countybut he found meansto attendit.  You might see his bay mare and gig-lampsa score ofmiles away from his Rectory Housewheneverthere wasany dinner-party at Fuddlestonor at Roxbyor atWapshot Hallor at the great lords of the countywith allof whom he was intimate.  He had a fine voice;sang "Asoutherly wind and a cloudy sky"; and gavethe"whoop" in chorus with general applause.  He rodeto houndsin a pepper-and-salt frockand was one of thebestfishermen in the county. Mrs.Crawleythe rector's wifewas a smart little bodywho wrotethis worthy divine's sermons.  Being of adomesticturnand keeping the house a great deal with herdaughtersshe ruled absolutely within the Rectorywiselygiving herhusband full liberty without.  He was welcometo comeand goand dine abroad as many days as hisfancydictatedfor Mrs. Crawley was a saving woman andknew theprice of port wine.  Ever since Mrs. Bute carriedoff theyoung Rector of Queen's Crawley (she was of agoodfamilydaughter of the late Lieut.-ColonelHectorMcTavishand she and her mother played forBute andwon him at Harrowgate)she had been a prudentandthrifty wife to him.  In spite of her carehoweverhewas alwaysin debt.  It took him at least ten years to payoff hiscollege bills contracted during his father's lifetime.In theyear 179-when he was just clear of theseincumbranceshe gave the odds of 100 to 1 (in twenties)againstKangaroowho won the Derby.  The Rector wasobliged totake up the money at a ruinous interestandhad beenstruggling ever since.  His sister helped him witha hundrednow and thenbut of course his great hope wasin herdeath--when "hang it" (as he would say)"Matildamust leaveme half her money." So thatthe Baronet and his brother had every reasonwhich twobrothers possibly can have for being by theears. Sir Pitt had had the better of Bute in innumerablefamilytransactions.  Young Pitt not only did not huntbutset up ameeting house under his uncle's very nose.Rawdonitwas knownwas to come in for the bulk of MissCrawley'sproperty.  These money transactions--thesespeculationsin life and death--these silent battles forreversionaryspoil--make brothers very loving towardseach otherin Vanity Fair.  Ifor my parthave known afive-poundnote to interpose and knock up a half century'sattachmentbetween two brethren; and can't but admireas I thinkwhat a fine and durable thing Love is amongworldlypeople. It cannotbe supposed that the arrival of such apersonageas Rebecca at Queen's Crawleyand her gradualestablishmentin the good graces of all people therecouldbeunremarked by Mrs. Bute Crawley.  Mrs. Butewhoknew howmany days the sirloin of beef lasted at the Hall;how muchlinen was got ready at the great wash; howmanypeaches were on the south wall; how many dosesherladyship took when she was ill--for such points arematters ofintense interest to certain persons in thecountry--Mrs.ButeI saycould not pass over the Hallgovernesswithout making every inquiry respecting herhistoryand character.  There was always the best understandingbetweenthe servants at the Rectory and the Hall.There wasalways a good glass of ale in the kitchen of theformerplace for the Hall peoplewhose ordinary drinkwas verysmall--andindeedthe Rector's lady knewexactlyhow much malt went to every barrel of Hall beer--ties ofrelationship existed between the Hall and Rectorydomesticsas between their masters; and through thesechannelseach family was perfectly well acquainted withthe doingsof the other.  Thatby the waymay be setdown as ageneral remark.  When you and your brotherarefriendshis doings are indifferent to you.  When youhavequarrelledall his outgoings and incomings youknowasif you were his spy.

 

Very soonthen after her arrivalRebecca began to takea regularplace in Mrs. Crawley's bulletin from the Hall.It was tothis effect: "The black porker's killed--weighedxstone--salted the sides--pig's pudding and leg of porkfordinner.  Mr. Cramp from Mudburyover with Sir Pittaboutputting John Blackmore in gaol--Mr. Pitt atmeeting(with all the names of the people who attended)--my lady asusual--the young ladies with the governess." Then thereport would come--the new governess be araremanager--Sir Pitt be very sweet on her--Mr.Crawleytoo--He be reading tracts to her--"What anabandonedwretch!" said littleeageractiveblack-faced Mrs.ButeCrawley. Finallythe reports were that the governess had "comeround"everybodywrote Sir Pitt's lettersdid his businessmanagedhis accounts--had the upper hand of the wholehousemyladyMr. Crawleythe girls and all--at whichMrs.Crawley declared she was an artful hussyand hadsomedreadful designs in view.  Thus the doings at theHall werethe great food for conversation at the Rectoryand Mrs.Bute's bright eyes spied out everything that tookplace inthe enemy's camp--everything and a great dealbesides.     Mrs. ButeCrawley to Miss PinkertonThe MallChiswick.

 

RectoryQueen's CrawleyDecember--.

 

My DearMadam--Although it is so many years sinceI profitedby your delightful and invaluable instructionsyet I haveever retained the FONDEST and most reverentialregard forMiss Pinkertonand DEAR Chiswick.  I hopeyourhealth is GOOD.  The world and the cause ofeducationcannot afford to lose Miss Pinkerton for MANY MANYYEARS. When my friendLady Fuddlestonmentioned thather deargirls required an instructress (I am too poor toengage agoverness for minebut was I not educated atChiswick?)--"Who"I exclaimed"can we consult buttheexcellentthe incomparable Miss Pinkerton?" In awordhaveyoudear madamany ladies on your listwhoseservices might be made available to my kindfriend andneighbour? I assure you she will take nogovernessBUT OF YOUR CHOOSING. My dearhusband is pleased to say that he likesEVERYTHINGWHICH COMES FROM MISS PINKERTON'SSCHOOL. How I wish I could present him and my belovedgirls tothe friend of my youthand the ADMIRED of thegreatlexicographer of our country! If you ever travel intoHampshireMr. Crawley begs me to sayhe hopes you willadorn ourRURAL RECTORY with your presence.  'Tis thehumble buthappy home of

 

YouraffectionateMarthaCrawley

 

P.S. Mr. Crawley's brotherthe baronetwith whomwe arenotalas! upon those terms of UNITY in which itBECOMESBRETHREN TO DWELLhas a governess for hislittlegirlswhoI am toldhad the good fortune to beeducatedat Chiswick.  I hear various reports of her;and as Ihave the tenderest interest in my dearest littlenieceswhom I wishin spite of family differencestosee amongmy own children--and as I long to beattentiveto ANY PUPIL OF YOURS--domy dear MissPinkertontell me the history of this young ladywhomfor YOURSAKEI am most anxious to befriend.--M. C.

 

MissPinkerton to Mrs. Bute Crawley.

 

JohnsonHouseChiswickDec. 18--.

 

DearMadam--I have the honour to acknowledgeyourpolite communicationto which I promptly reply.'Tis mostgratifying to one in my most arduous positionto findthat my maternal cares have elicited a responsiveaffection;and to recognize in the amiable Mrs. ButeCrawley myexcellent pupil of former yearsthe sprightlyandaccomplished Miss Martha MacTavish.  I am happyto haveunder my charge now the daughters of many ofthose whowere your contemporaries at my establishment--whatpleasure it would give me if your ownbelovedyoung ladies had need of my instructivesuperintendence! Presentingmy respectful compliments to LadyFuddlestonI have the honour (epistolarily) to introduceto herladyship my two friendsMiss Tuffin and Miss Hawky. Either ofthese young ladies is PERFECTLY QUALIFIED toinstructin GreekLatinand the rudiments of Hebrew;inmathematics and history; in SpanishFrenchItalianandgeography; in musicvocal and instrumental; indancingwithout the aid of a master; and in theelementsof natural sciences.  In the use of the globes bothareproficients.  In addition to these Miss Tuffinwho isdaughterof the late Reverend Thomas Tuffin (Fellowof CorpusCollegeCambridge)can instruct in theSyriaclanguageand the elements of Constitutional law.But as sheis only eighteen years of ageand ofexceedinglypleasing personal appearanceperhaps thisyoung ladymay be objectionable in Sir HuddlestonFuddleston'sfamily. MissLetitia Hawkyon the other handis notpersonallywell-favoured.  She is-twenty-nine; her faceis muchpitted with the small-pox.  She has a halt in hergaitredhairand a trifling obliquity of vision.  Bothladies areendowed with EVERY MORAL AND RELIGIOUSVIRTUE. Their termsof courseare such as theiraccomplishmentsmerit.  With my most grateful respectsto theReverend Bute CrawleyI have the honour to be

 

DearMadam     Your mostfaithful and obedient servantBarbaraPinkerton.

 

P.S. The Miss Sharpwhom you mention asgovernessto Sir Pitt CrawleyBart.M.P.was a pupilof mineand I have nothing to say in her disfavour.Though herappearance is disagreeablewe cannotcontrolthe operations of nature: and though her parentsweredisreputable (her father being a painterseveraltimesbankruptand her motheras I have since learnedwithhorrora dancer at the Opera); yet her talents areconsiderableand I cannot regret that I received herOUT OFCHARITY.  My dread islest the principles of themother--whowas represented to me as a FrenchCountessforced to emigrate in the late revolutionary horrors;but whoas I have since foundwas a person of theverylowest order and morals--should at any time proveto beHEREDITARY in the unhappy young woman whom Itook as ANOUTCAST.  But her principles have hithertobeencorrect (I believe)and I am sure nothing willoccur toinjure them in the elegant and refined circleof theeminent Sir Pitt Crawley.

 

MissRebecca Sharp to Miss Amelia Sedley.

 

I have notwritten to my beloved Amelia for thesemany weekspastfor what news was there to tell of thesayingsand doings at Humdrum Hallas I havechristenedit; and what do you care whether the turnip cropis good orbad; whether the fat pig weighed thirteenstone orfourteen; and whether the beasts thrive welluponmangelwurzel? Every day since I last wrote hasbeen likeits neighbour.  Before breakfasta walk withSir Pittand his spud; after breakfast studies (such asthey are)in the schoolroom; after schoolroomreadingandwriting about lawyersleasescoal-minescanalswith SirPitt (whose secretary I am become); afterdinnerMr. Crawley's discourses on the baronet'sbackgammon;during both of which amusements my ladylooks onwith equal placidity.  She has become rathermoreinteresting by being ailing of latewhich hasbrought anew visitor to the Hallin the person of ayoungdoctor.  Wellmy dearyoung women need neverdespair. The young doctor gave a certain friend of yourstounderstand thatif she chose to be Mrs. Glaubershewaswelcome to ornament the surgery! I told hisimpudencethat the gilt pestle and mortar was quiteornamentenough; as if I was bornindeedto be a countrysurgeon'swife! Mr. Glauber went home seriouslyindisposedat his rebufftook a cooling draughtand is nowquitecured.  Sir Pitt applauded my resolution highly;he wouldbe sorry to lose his little secretaryI think;and Ibelieve the old wretch likes me as much as it is inhis natureto like any one.  Marryindeed! and with acountryapothecaryafter--Nonoone cannot sosoonforget old associationsabout which I will talk nomore. Let us return to Humdrum Hall.

 

For sometime past it is Humdrum Hall no longer.My dearMiss Crawley has arrived with her fat horsesfatservantsfat spaniel--the great rich Miss Crawleywithseventy thousand pounds in the five per cents.whomor Ihad better say WHICHher two brothersadore. She looks very apoplecticthe dear soul; nowonder herbrothers are anxious about her.  You should seethemstruggling to settle her cushionsor to hand hercoffee!"When I come into the country" she says (forshe has agreat deal of humour)"I leave my toadyMissBriggsat home.  My brothers are my toadies heremy dearand a pretty pair they are!" When shecomes into the country our hall is thrownopenandfor a monthat leastyou would fancy oldSirWalpole was come to life again.  We have dinner-partiesand drive out in the coach-and-four
thefootmenput on their newest canary-coloured liveries; wedrinkclaret and champagne as if we were accustomedto itevery day.  We have wax candles in the schoolroomand firesto warm ourselves with.  Lady Crawley is madeto put onthe brightest pea-green in her wardrobeandmy pupilsleave off their thick shoes and tight oldtartanpelissesand wear silk stockings and muslin frocksasfashionable baronets' daughters should.  Rose came inyesterdayin a sad plight--the Wiltshire sow (anenormouspet of hers) ran her downand destroyed a mostlovelyflowered lilac silk dress by dancing over it--hadthishappened a week agoSir Pitt would have swornfrightfullyhave boxed the poor wretch's earsand puther uponbread and water for a month.  All he said was"I'llserve you outMisswhen your aunt's gone" andlaughedoff the accident as quite trivial.  Let us hope hiswrath willhave passed away before Miss Crawley'sdeparture. I hope sofor Miss Rose's sakeI am sure.What acharming reconciler and peacemaker money is! Anotheradmirable effect of Miss Crawley and herseventythousand pounds is to be seen in the conductof the twobrothers Crawley.  I mean the baronet andtherectornot OUR brothers--but the formerwho hateeach otherall the year roundbecome quite loving atChristmas. I wrote to you last year how the abominablehorse-racingrector was in the habit of preaching clumsysermons atus at churchand how Sir Pitt snored inanswer. When Miss Crawley arrives there is no such thingasquarrelling heard of--the Hall visits the Rectoryandviceversa--the parson and the Baronet talk about thepigs andthe poachersand the county businessin themostaffable mannerand without quarrelling in theircupsIbelieve--indeed Miss Crawley won't hear of theirquarrellingand vows that she will leave her money totheShropshire Crawleys if they offend her.  If they werecleverpeoplethose Shropshire Crawleysthey mighthave itallI think; but the Shropshire Crawley is aclergymanlike his Hampshire cousinand mortally offendedMissCrawley (who had fled thither in a fit of rageagainsther impracticable brethren) by some strait-lacednotions ofmorality.  He would have prayers in the houseI believe. Our sermonbooks are shut up when Miss Crawleyarrivesand Mr. Pittwhom she abominatesfinds itconvenientto go to town.  On the other handthe youngdandy--"blood"I believeis the term--Captain Crawleymakes hisappearanceand I suppose you will like toknow whatsort of a person he is. Wellheis a very large young dandy.  He is six feethighandspeaks with a great voice; and swears a greatdeal; andorders about the servantswho all adore himnevertheless;for he is very generous of his moneyandthedomestics will do anything for him.  Last week thekeepersalmost killed a bailiff and his man who camedown fromLondon to arrest the Captainand who werefoundlurking about the Park wall--they beat themduckedthemand were going to shoot them forpoachersbut the baronet interfered. TheCaptain has a hearty contempt for his fatherIcan seeand calls him an old PUTan old SNOBan oldCHAW-BACONand numberless other pretty names.  He hasa DREADFULREPUTATION among the ladies.  He brings hishuntershome with himlives with the Squires of thecountyasks whom he pleases to dinnerand Sir Pittdares notsay nofor fear of offending Miss Crawleyandmissing his legacy when she dies of her apoplexy.Shall Itell you a compliment the Captain paid me?  Imustitis so pretty.  One evening we actually had adance;there was Sir Huddleston Fuddleston and hisfamilySir Giles Wapshot and his young ladiesand Idon't knowhow many more.  WellI heard him say--"ByJoveshe's a neat little filly!" meaning your humbleservant;and he did me the honour to dance two country-danceswith me.  He gets on pretty gaily with the youngSquireswith whom he drinksbetsridesand talksabouthunting and shooting; but he says the countrygirls areBORES; indeedI don't think he is far wrong.You shouldsee the contempt with which they look downon poorme! When they dance I sit and play the pianoverydemurely; but the other nightcoming in ratherflushedfrom the dining-roomand seeing me employedin thiswayhe swore out loud that I was the best dancerin theroomand took a great oath that he would havethefiddlers from Mudbury. "I'llgo and play a country-dance" said Mrs. ButeCrawleyvery readily (she is a littleblack-faced oldwoman in aturbanrather crookedand with verytwinklingeyes); and after the Captain and your poor littleRebeccahad performed a dance togetherdo you knowsheactually did me the honour to compliment me uponmy steps!Such a thing was never heard of before; theproud Mrs.Bute Crawleyfirst cousin to the Earl ofTiptoffwho won't condescend to visit Lady Crawleyexceptwhen her sister is in the country.  Poor LadyCrawley!during most part of these gaietiesshe isupstairstaking pills. Mrs. Butehas all of a sudden taken a great fancy tome. "My dear Miss Sharp" she says"why not bringover yourgirls to the Rectory?--their cousins will be sohappy tosee them." I know what she means.  SignorClementidid not teach us the piano for nothing; atwhichprice Mrs. Bute hopes to get a professor for herchildren. I can see through her schemesas though shetold themto me; but I shall goas I am determined tomakemyself agreeable--is it not a poor governess'sdutywhohas not a friend or protector in the world?TheRector's wife paid me a score of compliments abouttheprogress my pupils madeand thoughtno doubttotouch myheart--poorsimplecountry soul!--as if Icared afig about my pupils! Your Indiamuslin and your pink silkdearest Ameliaare saidto become me very well.  They are a good dealworn now;butyou knowwe poor girls can't afford desfraichestoilettes.  Happyhappy you! who have but todrive toSt. James's Streetand a dear mother who willgive youany thing you ask.  Farewelldearest girl

 

YouraffectionateRebecca.

 

P.S.--Iwish you could have seen the faces of theMissBlackbrooks (Admiral Blackbrook's daughtersmydear)fine young ladieswith dresses from LondonwhenCaptain Rawdon selected poor me for a partner!

 

When Mrs.Bute Crawley (whose artifices our ingeniousRebeccahad so soon discovered) had procured fromMiss Sharpthe promise of a visitshe induced the all-powerfulMiss Crawley to make the necessary applicationto SirPittand the good-natured old ladywho loved tobe gayherselfand to see every one gay and happy roundabout herwas quite charmedand ready to establish areconciliationand intimacy between her two brothers.It wastherefore agreed that the young people of bothfamiliesshould visit each other frequently for the futureand thefriendship of course lasted as long as the jovialoldmediatrix was there to keep the peace. "Whydid you ask that scoundrelRawdon Crawleytodine?"said the Rector to his ladyas they were walkinghomethrough the park.  "I don't want the fellow.  He looksdown uponus country people as so many blackamoors.He's nevercontent unless he gets my yellow-sealed winewhichcosts me ten shillings a bottlehang him! Besideshe's suchan infernal character--he's a gambler--he's adrunkard--he'sa profligate in every way.  He shot a manin aduel--he's over head and ears in debtand he'srobbed meand mine of the best part of Miss Crawley'sfortune. Waxy says she has him"--here the Rector shookhis fistat the moonwith something very like an oathand addedin a melancholious tone"--down in her willfor fiftythousand; and there won't be above thirty todivide." "Ithink she's going" said the Rector's wife.  "She wasvery redin the face when we left dinner.  I was obligedto unlaceher." "Shedrank seven glasses of champagne" said thereverendgentlemanin a low voice; "and filthy champagneit istoothat my brother poisons us with--but youwomennever know what's what." "Weknow nothing" said Mrs. Bute Crawley. "Shedrank cherry-brandy after dinner" continued hisReverence"and took curacao with her coffee.  Iwouldn'ttake a glass for a five-pound note: it kills mewithheartburn.  She can't stand itMrs. Crawley--shemustgo--flesh and blood won't bear it! and I lay five totwoMatilda drops in a year." Indulgingin these solemn speculationsand thinkingabout hisdebtsand his son Jim at Collegeand Frank atWoolwichand the four girlswho were no beautiespoorthingsand would not have a penny but what they got fromthe aunt'sexpected legacythe Rector and his lady walkedon for awhile. "Pittcan't be such an infernal villain as to sell thereversionof the living.  And that Methodist milksop of aneldest sonlooks to Parliament" continued Mr. Crawleyafter apause. "SirPitt Crawley will do anything" said the Rector'swife. "We must get Miss Crawley to make him promise itto James." "Pittwill promise anything" replied the brother.  "Hepromisedhe'd pay my college billswhen my father died;hepromised he'd build the new wing to the Rectory;hepromised he'd let me have Jibb's field and the Six-acreMeadow--and much he executed his promises! Andit's tothis man's son--this scoundrelgamblerswindlermurdererof a Rawdon Crawleythat Matilda leaves thebulk ofher money.  I say it's un-Christian.  By Joveit is.Theinfamous dog has got every vice except hypocrisyand thatbelongs to his brother." "Hushmy dearest love! we're in Sir Pitt's grounds"interposedhis wife. "Isay he has got every viceMrs. Crawley.  Don'tMa'ambully me.  Didn't he shoot Captain Marker? Didn'the robyoung Lord Dovedale at the Cocoa-Tree? Didn'the crossthe fight between Bill Soames and the CheshireTrumpbywhich I lost forty pound? You know he did;and as forthe womenwhyyou heard that before meinmy ownmagistrate's room " "Forheaven's sakeMr. Crawley" said the lady"spareme thedetails." "Andyou ask this villain into your house!" continuedtheexasperated Rector.  "Youthe mother of a youngfamily--thewife of a clergyman of the Church ofEngland. By Jove!" "ButeCrawleyyou are a fool" said the Rector's wifescornfully. "WellMa'amfool or not--and I don't sayMarthaI'm soclever as you areI never did.  But I won't meetRawdonCrawleythat's flat.  I'll go over to Huddlestonthat Iwilland see his black greyhoundMrs. Crawley;and I'llrun Lancelot against him for fifty.  By JoveI will;or againstany dog in England.  But I won't meet thatbeastRawdon Crawley."

 

"Mr.Crawleyyou are intoxicatedas usual" repliedhis wife. And the next morningwhen the Rector wokeand calledfor small beershe put him in mind of hispromise tovisit Sir Huddleston Fuddleston on Saturdayand as heknew he should have a wet nightit was agreedthat hemight gallop back again in time for church onSundaymorning.  Thus it will be seen that the parishionersof Crawleywere equally happy in their Squire and in theirRector.  MissCrawley had not long been established at the HallbeforeRebecca's fascinations had won the heart of thatgood-naturedLondon rakeas they had of the countryinnocentswhom we have been describing.  Taking heraccustomeddriveone dayshe thought fit to order that"thatlittle governess" should accompany her to Mudbury.Beforethey had returned Rebecca had made a conquestof her;having made her laugh four timesand amused herduring thewhole of the little journey. "Notlet Miss Sharp dine at table!" said she to Sir Pittwho hadarranged a dinner of ceremonyand asked all theneighbouringbaronets.  "My dear creaturedo yousuppose Ican talk about the nursery with Lady Fuddlestonordiscussjustices' business with that gooseold Sir GilesWapshot? Iinsist upon Miss Sharp appearing.  Let LadyCrawleyremain upstairsif there is no room.  But littleMissSharp! Whyshe's the only person fit to talk to inthecounty!" Of courseafter such a peremptory order as thisMissSharpthegovernessreceived commands to dine with theillustriouscompany below stairs.  And when Sir Huddlestonhadwithgreat pomp and ceremonyhanded MissCrawley into dinnerand was preparing to take hisplace byher sidethe old lady cried outin a shrillvoice"Becky Sharp!  Miss Sharp!  Come you and sit byme andamuse me; and let Sir Huddleston sit by LadyWapshot." When theparties were overand the carriages hadrolledawaythe insatiable Miss Crawley would say"Cometo my dressing roomBeckyand let us abuse thecompany"--whichbetween themthis pair of friends didperfectly. Old Sir Huddleston wheezed a great deal atdinner;Sir Giles Wapshot had a particularly noisy mannerofimbibing his soupand her ladyship a wink of the lefteye; allof which Becky caricatured to admiration; as wellas theparticulars of the night's conversation; the politics;the war;the quarter-sessions; the famous run with theH.H.andthose heavy and dreary themesabout whichcountrygentlemen converse.  As for the Misses Wapshot'stoilettesand Lady Fuddleston's famous yellow hatMissSharp torethem to tattersto the infinite amusementof heraudience. "Mydearyou are a perfect trouvaille" Miss Crawleywouldsay.  "I wish you could come to me in Londonbut Icouldn't make a butt of you as I do of poor Briggsnonoyou little sly creature; you are too clever--Isn'tsheFirkin?" Mrs.Firkin (who was dressing the very smallremnant ofhair which remained on Miss Crawley's pate)flung upher head and said"I think Miss is very clever"with themost killing sarcastic air.  In factMrs. Firkinhad thatnatural jealousy which is one of the mainprinciplesof every honest woman. Afterrebuffing Sir Huddleston FuddlestonMissCrawleyordered that Rawdon Crawley should lead her into dinnerevery dayand that Becky should follow with hercushion--orelse she would have Becky's arm andRawdonwith the pillow.  "We must sit together" she said."We'rethe only three Christians in the countymy love"--in whichcaseit must be confessedthat religion wasat a verylow ebb in the county of Hants. Besidesbeing such a fine religionistMiss Crawleywasas wehave saidan Ultra-liberal in opinionsandalwaystook occasion to express these in the most candidmanner. "Whatis birthmy dear!" she would say to Rebecca--"Lookat my brother Pitt; look at the Huddlestonswhohave beenhere since Henry II; look at poor Bute at theparsonage--isany one of them equal to you in intelligenceorbreeding? Equal to you--they are not even equal topoor dearBriggsmy companionor Bowlsmy butler.Youmyloveare a little paragon--positively a littlejewel--Youhave more brains than half the shire--ifmerit hadits reward you ought to be a Duchess--nothereought to be no duchesses at all--but you ought tohave nosuperiorand I consider youmy loveas myequal inevery respect; and--will you put some coals onthe firemy dear; and will you pick this dress of mineandalter ityou who can do it so well?" So this old philanthropistused tomake her equal run of her errandsexecute hermillineryand read her to sleep with French novelseverynight. At thistimeas some old readers may recollectthegenteelworld had been thrown into a considerable stateofexcitement by two eventswhichas the papers saymight giveemployment to the gentlemen of the long robe.EnsignShafton had run away with Lady Barbara Fitzursethe Earlof Bruin's daughter and heiress; and poor VereVaneagentleman whoup to fortyhad maintained amostrespectable character and reared a numerous familysuddenlyand outrageously left his homefor the sake ofMrs.Rougemontthe actresswho was sixty-five yearsof age. "Thatwas the most beautiful part of dear LordNelson'scharacter" Miss Crawley said.  "He went to thedeuce fora woman.  There must be good in a man who willdo that. I adore all impudent matches.--What I likebestisfor a nobleman to marry a miller's daughterasLordFlowerdale did--it makes all the women so angry--I wishsome great man would run away with youmydear; I'msure you're pretty enough." "Twopost-boys!--Ohit would be delightful!" Rebeccaowned. "Andwhat I like next bestis for a poor fellow to runaway witha rich girl.  I have set my heart on Rawdonrunningaway with some one." "Arich some oneor a poor some one?" "Whyyou goose! Rawdon has not a shilling but what Igive him. He is crible de dettes--he must repair hisfortunesand succeed in the world." "Ishe very clever?" Rebecca asked. "Clevermy love?--not an idea in the world beyond hishorsesand his regimentand his huntingand his play;but hemust succeed--he's so delightfully wicked.  Don'tyou knowhe has hit a manand shot an injured fatherthroughthe hat only? He's adored in his regiment; and allthe youngmen at Wattier's and the Cocoa-Tree swear byhim." When MissRebecca Sharp wrote to her beloved friendtheaccount of the little ball at Queen's Crawleyand themanner inwhichfor the first timeCaptain Crawley haddistinguishedhershe did notstrange to relategive analtogetheraccurate account of the transaction.  The Captainhaddistinguished her a great number of times before.  TheCaptainhad met her in a half-score of walks.  The Captainhadlighted upon her in a half-hundred of corridors andpassages. The Captain had hung over her piano twentytimes ofan evening (my Lady was now upstairsbeing illand nobodyheeded her) as Miss Sharp sang.  The Captain hadwrittenher notes (the best that the great blunderingdragooncould devise and spell; but dulness gets onas well asany other quality with women).  But when heput thefirst of the notes into the leaves of the song shewassingingthe little governessrising and looking himsteadilyin the facetook up the triangular missive daintilyand wavedit about as if it were a cocked hatand sheadvancingto the enemypopped the note into the fireandmade him avery low curtseyand went back to herplaceandbegan to sing away again more merrily thanever. "What'sthat?" said Miss Crawleyinterrupted in herafter-dinnerdoze by the stoppage of the music. "It'sa false note" Miss Sharp said with a laugh; andRawdonCrawley fumed with rage and mortification. Seeing theevident partiality of Miss Crawley for thenewgovernesshow good it was of Mrs. Bute Crawley notto bejealousand to welcome the young lady to theRectoryand not only herbut Rawdon Crawleyherhusband'srival in the Old Maid's five per cents! Theybecamevery fond of each other's societyMrs. Crawleyand hernephew.  He gave up hunting; he declinedentertainmentsat Fuddleston: he would not dine with themess ofthe depot at Mudbury: his great pleasure was to strollover toCrawley parsonage--whither Miss Crawley cametoo; andas their mamma was illwhy not the childrenwith MissSharp? So the children (little dears!) came withMissSharp; and of an evening some of the party wouldwalk backtogether.  Not Miss Crawley--she preferred hercarriage--butthe walk over the Rectory fieldsand in atthe littlepark wicketand through the dark plantationand up thecheckered avenue to Queen's Crawleywascharmingin the moonlight to two such lovers of thepicturesqueas the Captain and Miss Rebecca. "Othose starsthose stars!" Miss Rebecca would sayturningher twinkling green eyes up towards them.  "Ifeelmyself almost a spirit when I gaze upon them." "O--ah--Gad--yesso do I exactlyMiss Sharp" theotherenthusiast replied.  "You don't mind my cigardoyouMissSharp?"  Miss Sharp loved the smell of a cigarout ofdoors beyond everything in the world--and she justtasted onetooin the prettiest way possibleand gave alittlepuffand a little screamand a little giggleandrestoredthe delicacy to the Captainwho twirled hismoustacheand straightway puffed it into a blaze thatglowedquite red in the dark plantationand swore--"Jove--aw--Gad--aw--it'sthe finest segaw I ever smoked inthe worldaw" for his intellect and conversation werealikebrilliant and becoming to a heavy young dragoon. Old SirPittwho was taking his pipe and beerandtalking toJohn Horrocks about a "ship" that was to be killedespied thepair so occupied from his study-windowandwithdreadful oaths swore that if it wasn't for MissCrawleyhe'd take Rawdon and bundle un out of doorslike arogue ashe was. "Hebe a bad'nsure enough" Mr. Horrocks remarked;"andhis man Flethers is wussand have made such a rowin thehousekeeper's room about the dinners and haleasno lordwould make--but I think Miss Sharp's a matchfor'nSirPitt" he addedafter a pause.

 

And sointruthshe was--for father and son too.

 

 

 

 

CHAPTERXIIQuite aSentimental Chapter

 

We mustnow take leave of Arcadiaand those amiablepeoplepractising the rural virtues thereand travel backto Londonto inquire what has become of Miss Amelia"Wedon't care a fig for her" writes some unknowncorrespondentwith a pretty little handwriting and a pink sealto hernote.  "She is fade and insipid" and adds some morekindremarks in this strainwhich I should never haverepeatedat allbut that they are in truth prodigiouslycomplimentaryto the young lady whom they concern. Has thebeloved readerin his experience of societyneverheard similar remarks by good-natured femalefriends;who always wonder what you CAN see in MissSmith thatis so fascinating; or what COULD induce MajorJones topropose for that silly insignificant simpering MissThompsonwho has nothing but her wax-doll face torecommendher? What is there in a pair of pink cheeksand blueeyes forsooth? these dear Moralists askand hintwiselythat the gifts of geniusthe accomplishments of themindthemastery of Mangnall's Questionsand a ladylikeknowledgeof botany and geologythe knack of makingpoetrythe power of rattling sonatas in the Herz-mannerand soforthare far more valuable endowments for afemalethan those fugitive charms which a few years willinevitablytarnish.  It is quite edifying to hear womenspeculateupon the worthlessness and the duration ofbeauty. But thoughvirtue is a much finer thingand thosehaplesscreatures who suffer under the misfortune of goodlooksought to be continually put in mind of the fatewhichawaits them; and thoughvery likelythe heroicfemalecharacter which ladies admire is a more gloriousandbeautiful object than the kindfreshsmilingartlesstenderlittle domestic goddesswhom men are inclinedtoworship--yet the latter and inferior sort of womenmust havethis consolation--that the men do admire themafter all;and thatin spite of all our kind friends' warningsandprotestswe go on in our desperate error andfollyandshall to the end of the chapter.  Indeedfor myown partthough I have been repeatedly told by personsfor whom Ihave the greatest respectthat Miss Brown isaninsignificant chitand Mrs. White has nothing but herpetitminois chiffonneand Mrs. Black has not a word tosay forherself; yet I know that I have had the mostdelightfulconversations with Mrs. Black (of coursemydearMadamthey are inviolable): I see all the men in aclusterround Mrs. White's chair: all the young fellowsbattlingto dance with Miss Brown; and so I am temptedto thinkthat to be despised by her sex is a very greatcomplimentto a woman. The youngladies in Amelia's society did this for herverysatisfactorily.  For instancethere was scarcely anypoint uponwhich the Misses OsborneGeorge's sistersand theMesdemoiselles Dobbin agreed so well as in theirestimateof her very trifling merits: and their wonder thattheirbrothers could find any charms in her.  "We are kindto her"the Misses Osborne saida pair of fine black-browedyoung ladies who had had the best of governessesmastersand milliners; and they treated her withsuchextreme kindness and condescensionand patronisedher soinsufferablythat the poor little thing was in factperfectlydumb in their presenceand to all outwardappearanceas stupid as they thought her.  She made effortsto likethemas in duty boundand as sisters of herfuturehusband.  She passed "long mornings" with them--the mostdreary and serious of forenoons.  She droveoutsolemnly in their great family coach with themandMiss Wirttheir governessthat raw-boned Vestal.  Theytook herto the ancient concerts by way of a treatandto theoratorioand to St. Paul's to see the charitychildrenwhere in such terror was she of her friendsshealmost didnot dare be affected by the hymn the childrensang. Their house was comfortable; their papa's tablerich andhandsome; their society solemn and genteel;theirself-respect prodigious; they had the best pew attheFoundling: all their habits were pompous and orderlyand alltheir amusements intolerably dull and decorous.Afterevery one of her visits (and oh how glad she waswhen theywere over!) Miss Osborne and Miss MariaOsborneand Miss Wirtthe vestal governessasked eachother withincreased wonder"What could George find inthatcreature?" How isthis? some carping reader exclaims.  How is itthatAmeliawho had such a number of friends atschooland was so beloved therecomes out into theworld andis spurned by her discriminating sex? My dearsirtherewere no men at Miss Pinkerton's establishmentexcept theold dancing-master; and you would not havehad thegirls fall out about HIM? When Georgetheirhandsomebrotherran off directly after breakfastanddined fromhome half-a-dozen times a weekno wondertheneglected sisters felt a little vexation.  When youngBullock(of the firm of HulkerBullock & Co.BankersLombardStreet)who had been making up to Miss Mariathe lasttwo seasonsactually asked Amelia to dance thecotilloncould you expect that the former young ladyshould bepleased? And yet she said she waslike anartlessforgiving creature.  "I'm so delighted you like dearAmelia"she said quite eagerly to Mr. Bullock after thedance. "She's engaged to my brother George; there's notmuch inherbut she's the best-natured and mostunaffectedyoung creature: at home we're all so fond of her."Dear girl!who can calculate the depth of affectionexpressedin that enthusiastic SO? Miss Wirtand these two affectionate young women soearnestlyand frequently impressed upon GeorgeOsborne'smind the enormity of the sacrifice he was makingand hisromantic generosity in throwing himself awayuponAmeliathat I'm not sure but that he really thoughthe was oneof the most deserving characters in the Britisharmyandgave himself up to be loved with a good dealof easyresignation. Somehowalthough he left home every morningas wasstatedand dined abroad six days in the weekwhen hissistersbelieved the infatuated youth to be at Miss Sedley'sapron-strings:he was NOT always with Ameliawhilst theworldsupposed him at her feet.  Certain it is that on moreoccasionsthan onewhen Captain Dobbin called to lookfor hisfriendMiss Osborne (who was very attentive totheCaptainand anxious to hear his military storiesandto knowabout the health of his dear Mamma)wouldlaughinglypoint to the opposite side of the squareandsay"Ohyou must go to the Sedleys' to ask for George;WE neversee him from morning till night." At which kindof speechthe Captain would laugh in rather an absurdconstrainedmannerand turn off the conversationlikeaconsummate man of the worldto some topic of generalinterestsuch as the Operathe Prince's last ball atCarltonHouseor the weather--that blessing to society. "Whatan innocent it isthat pet of yours" Miss Mariawould thensay to Miss Janeupon the Captain'sdeparture. "Did you see how he blushed at the mention ofpoorGeorge on duty?" "It'sa pity Frederick Bullock hadn't some of hismodestyMaria" replies the elder sisterwith a toss of hehead. "Modesty! Awkwardness you meanJane.  I don't wantFrederickto trample a hole in my muslin frockasCaptainDobbin did in yours at Mrs. Perkins'." "InYOUR frockhehe!  How could he? Wasn't hedancingwith Amelia?" The factiswhen Captain Dobbin blushed soandlooked soawkwardhe remembered a circumstance ofwhich hedid not think it was necessary to inform theyoungladiesviz.that he had been calling at Mr. Sedley'shousealreadyon the pretence of seeing Georgeofcourseand George wasn't thereonly poor little Ameliawithrather a sad wistful faceseated near the drawing-roomwindowwhoafter some very trifling stupid talkventuredto askwas there any truth in the report thattheregiment was soon to be ordered abroad; and hadCaptainDobbin seen Mr. Osborne that day? Theregiment was not ordered abroad as yet; andCaptainDobbin had not seen George.  "He was with hissistermost likely" the Captain said.  "Should he go andfetch thetruant?"  So she gave him her hand kindly andgratefully:and he crossed the square; and she waitedandwaitedbut George never came. Poorlittle tender heart! and so it goes on hoping andbeatingand longing and trusting.  You see it is not muchof a lifeto describe.  There is not much of what you callincidentin it.  Only one feeling all day--when will hecome? onlyone thought to sleep and wake upon.  IbelieveGeorge was playing billiards with Captain Cannonin SwallowStreet at the time when Amelia was askingCaptainDobbin about him; for George was a jollysociablefellowand excellent in all games of skill. Onceafter three days of absenceMiss Amelia put onherbonnetand actually invaded the Osborne house."What!leave our brother to come to us?" said the youngladies. "Have you had a quarrelAmelia? Do tell us!"Noindeedthere had been no quarrel.  "Who couldquarrelwith him?" says shewith her eyes filled with tears.She onlycame over to--to see her dear friends; they hadnot metfor so long.  And this day she was so perfectlystupid andawkwardthat the Misses Osborne and theirgovernesswho stared after her as she went sadly awaywonderedmore than ever what George could see in poorlittleAmelia. Of coursethey did.  How was she to bare that timidlittleheart for the inspection of those young ladies withtheir boldblack eyes? It was best that it should shrinkand hideitself.  I know the Misses Osborne were excellentcritics ofa Cashmere shawlor a pink satin slip; andwhen MissTurner had hers dyed purpleand made intoa spencer;and when Miss Pickford had her erminetippettwisted into a muff and trimmingsI warrant you thechangesdid not escape the two intelligent young womenbeforementioned.  But there are thingslook youof afinertexture than fur or satinand all Solomon's gloriesand allthe wardrobe of the Queen of Sheba--thingswhereofthe beauty escapes the eyes of manyconnoisseurs. And there are sweet modest little souls onwhich youlightfragrant and blooming tenderly in quiet shadyplaces;and there are garden-ornamentsas big as brasswarming-pansthat are fit to stare the sun itself out ofcountenance. Miss Sedley was not of the sunflower sort;and I sayit is out of the rules of all proportion to drawa violetof the size of a double dahlia. Noindeed; the life of a good young girl who is in thepaternalnest as yetcan't have many of those thrillingincidentsto which the heroine of romance commonly laysclaim. Snares or shot may take off the old birds foragingwithout--hawksmay be abroadfrom which they escapeor by whomthey suffer; but the young ones in the nesthave apretty comfortable unromantic sort of existencein thedown and the strawtill it comes to their turntootoget on the wing.  While Becky Sharp was on herown wingin the countryhopping on all sorts of twigsand amid amultiplicity of trapsand pecking up her foodquiteharmless and successfulAmelia lay snug in herhome ofRussell Square; if she went into the worlditwas underthe guidance of the elders; nor did it seemthat anyevil could befall her or that opulent cheerycomfortablehome in which she was affectionately sheltered.Mamma hadher morning dutiesand her daily driveand thedelightful round of visits and shopping whichforms theamusementor the profession as you may callitof therich London lady.  Papa conducted hismysteriousoperations in the City--a stirring place in thosedayswhenwar was raging all over Europeand empireswere beingstaked; when the "Courier" newspaper hadtens ofthousands of subscribers; when one day broughtyou abattle of Vittoriaanother a burning of Moscoworanewsman's horn blowing down Russell Square aboutdinner-timeannounced such a fact as--"Battle ofLeipsic--sixhundred thousand men engaged--totaldefeat ofthe French--two hundred thousand killed." OldSedleyonce or twice came home with a very grave face;and nowonderwhen such news as this was agitating allthe heartsand all the Stocks of Europe. Meanwhilematters went on in Russell SquareBloomsburyjust as ifmatters in Europe were not in the leastdisorganised. The retreat from Leipsic made nodifferencein the number of meals Mr. Sambo took in theservants'hall; the allies poured into Franceand thedinner-belIrang at five o'clock just as usual.  I don't thinkpoorAmelia cared anything about Brienne and Montmirailor wasfairly interested in the war until the abdicationof theEmperor; when she clapped her hands and saidprayers--ohhow grateful! and flung herself into GeorgeOsborne'sarms with all her soulto the astonishment ofeverybodywho witnessed that ebullition of sentiment.The factispeace was declaredEurope was going to beat rest;the Corsican was overthrownand LieutenantOsborne'sregiment would not be ordered on service.  Thatwas theway in which Miss Amelia reasoned.  The fate ofEurope wasLieutenant George Osborne to her.  Hisdangersbeing overshe sang Te Deum.  He was her Europe:heremperor: her allied monarchs and august princeregent. He was her sun and moon; and I believe shethoughtthe grand illumination and ball at the MansionHousegiven to the sovereignswere especially in honourof GeorgeOsborne.

 

 We havetalked of shiftselfand povertyas thosedismalinstructors under whom poor Miss Becky Sharpgot hereducation.  Nowlove was Miss Amelia Sedley'slasttutoressand it was amazing what progress our younglady madeunder that popular teacher.  In the course offifteen oreighteen months' daily and constant attention tothiseminent finishing governesswhat a deal of secretsAmelialearnedwhich Miss Wirt and the black-eyedyoungladies over the waywhich old Miss Pinkerton ofChiswickherselfhad no cognizance of!  Asindeedhowshould anyof those prim and reputable virgins?  WithMisses P.and W. the tender passion is out of thequestion:I would not dare to breathe such an idea regardingthem. Miss Maria Osborneit is truewas "attached" toMr.Frederick Augustus Bullockof the firm of HulkerBullock &Bullock; but hers was a most respectableattachmentand she would have taken Bullock Senior justthe sameher mind being fixed--as that of a well-bredyoungwoman should be--upon a house in Park Lanea countryhouse at Wimbledona handsome chariotandtwoprodigious tall horses and footmenand a fourth ofthe annualprofits of the eminent firm of Hulker &Bullockall of which advantages were represented in theperson ofFrederick Augustus.  Had orange blossoms beeninventedthen (those touching emblems of female purityimportedby us from Francewhere people's daughtersareuniversally sold in marriage)Miss MariaI saywould haveassumed the spotless wreathand stepped intothetravelling carriage by the side of goutyoldbald-headedbottle-nosed Bullock Senior; and devoted herbeautifulexistence to his happiness with perfect modesty--only theold gentleman was married already; so shebestowedher young affections on the junior partner.Sweetbloomingorange flowers!  The other day I sawMissTrotter (that was)arrayed in themtrip into thetravellingcarriage at St. George'sHanover SquareandLordMethuselah hobbled in after.  With what an engagingmodestyshe pulled down the blinds of the chariot--thedearinnocent!  There were half the carriages of VanityFair atthe wedding. This wasnot the sort of love that finished Amelia'seducation;and in the course of a year turned a good younggirl intoa good young woman--to be a good wifepresentlywhen the happy time should come.  This youngperson(perhaps it was very imprudent in her parents toencourageherand abet her in such idolatry and sillyromanticideas) lovedwith all her heartthe youngofficer inHis Majesty's service with whom we have made abriefacquaintance.  She thought about him the very firstmoment onwaking; and his was the very last namementionedm her prayers.  She never had seen a man sobeautifulor so clever: such a figure on horseback: sucha dancer:such a hero in general.  Talk of the Prince'sbow! whatwas it to George's? She had seen Mr.Brummellwhom everybody praised so.  Compare such a personas that toher George! Not amongst all the beaux at theOpera (andthere were beaux in those days with actualoperahats) was there any one to equal him.  He was onlygoodenough to be a fairy prince; and ohwhatmagnanimityto stoop to such a humble Cinderella!  MissPinkertonwould have tried to check this blind devotionverylikelyhad she been Amelia's confidante; but notwith muchsuccessdepend upon it.  It is in the nature andinstinctof some women.  Some are made to schemeandsome tolove; and I wish any respected bachelor thatreads thismay take the sort that best likes him. Whileunder this overpowering impressionMiss Amelianeglectedher twelve dear friends at Chiswick mostcruellyas such selfish people commonly will do.  She hadbut thissubjectof courseto think about; and MissSaltirewas too cold for a confidanteand she couldn'tbring hermind to tell Miss Swartzthe woolly-hairedyoungheiress from St. Kitt's.  She had little Laura Martinhome forthe holidays; and my belief isshe made aconfidanteof herand promised that Laura should comeand livewith her when she was marriedand gave Lauraa greatdeal of information regarding the passion oflovewhich must have been singularly useful and novelto thatlittle person.  Alasalas!  I fear poor Emmy hadnot awell-regulated mind. What wereher parents doingnot to keep this littleheart frombeating so fast?  Old Sedley did not seem muchto noticematters.  He was graver of lateand his Cityaffairsabsorbed him.  Mrs. Sedley was of so easy anduninquisitivea nature that she wasn't even jealous.  Mr.Jos wasawaybeing besieged by an Irish widow atCheltenham. Amelia had the house to herself--ah! toomuch toherself sometimes--not that she ever doubted;forto besureGeorge must be at the Horse Guards;and hecan't always get leave from Chatham; and he mustsee hisfriends and sistersand mingle in society whenin town(hesuch an ornament to every society!); andwhen he iswith the regimenthe is too tired to write longletters. I know where she kept that packet she had--andcan stealin and out of her chamber like Iachimo--likeIachimo? No--that is a bad part.  I will only actMoonshineand peep harmless into the bed where faith andbeauty andinnocence lie dreaming. But ifOsborne's were short and soldierlike lettersitmust beconfessedthat were Miss Sedley's letters to Mr.Osborne tobe publishedwe should have to extend thisnovel tosuch a multiplicity of volumes as not the mostsentimentalreader could support; that she not only filledsheets oflarge paperbut crossed them with the mostastonishingperverseness; that she wrote whole pages outofpoetry-books without the least pity; that sheunderlinedwords and passages with quite a frantic emphasis;andinfinegave the usual tokens of her condition.  Shewasn't aheroine.  Her letters were full of repetition.  Shewroterather doubtful grammar sometimesand in herversestook all sorts of liberties with the metre.  But ohmesdamesif you are not allowed to touch the heartsometimesin spite of syntaxand are not to be loveduntil youall know the difference between trimeter andtetrametermay all Poetry go to the deuceand everyschoolmasterperish miserably!

 

 

 

 

CHAPTERXIIISentimentaland Otherwise

 

I fear thegentleman to whom Miss Amelia's letters wereaddressedwas rather an obdurate critic.  Such a numberof notesfollowed Lieutenant Osborne about the countrythat hebecame almost ashamed of the jokes of hismess-roomcompanions regarding themand ordered hisservantnever to deliver them except at his private apartment.He wasseen lighting his cigar with oneto the horror ofCaptainDobbinwhoit is my beliefwould have givenabank-note for the document. For sometime George strove to keep the liaison asecret. There was a woman in the casethat he admitted."Andnot the first either" said Ensign Spooney to EnsignStubble. "That Osborne's a devil of a fellow.  There was ajudge'sdaughter at Demerara went almost mad abouthim; thenthere was that beautiful quadroon girlMissPyeatSt. Vincent'syou know; and since he's beenhometheysay he's a regular Don Giovanniby Jove." Stubbleand Spooney thought that to be a "regularDonGiovanniby Jove" was one of the finest qualities aman couldpossessand Osborne's reputation wasprodigiousamongst the young men of the regiment.  Hewas famousin field-sportsfamous at a songfamous onparade;free with his moneywhich was bountifullysuppliedby his father.  His coats were better made thanany man'sin the regimentand he had more of them.  Hewas adoredby the men.  He could drink more than anyofficer ofthe whole messincluding old Heavytopthecolonel. He could spar better than Knucklesthe private(who wouldhave been a corporal but for his drunkennessand whohad been in the prize-ring); and was the bestbatter andbowlerout and outof the regimental club.He rodehis own horseGreased Lightningand won theGarrisoncup at Quebec races.  There were other peoplebesidesAmelia who worshipped him.  Stubble andSpooneythought him a sort of Apollo; Dobbin took himto be anAdmirable Crichton; and Mrs. Major O'Dowdacknowledgedhe was an elegant young fellowand puther inmind of Fitzjurld FogartyLord Castlefogarty'ssecondson. WellStubble and Spooney and the rest indulged inmostromantic conjectures regarding this femalecorrespondentof Osborne's--opining that it was a Duchess inLondon whowas in love with him--or that it was aGeneral'sdaughterwho was engaged to somebody elseand madlyattached to him--or that it was a Member ofParliament'sladywho proposed four horses and anelopement--orthat it was some other victim of a passiondelightfullyexcitingromanticand disgraceful to allpartieson none of which conjectures would Osborne throwthe leastlightleaving his young admirers and friends toinvent andarrange their whole history. And thereal state of the case would never have beenknown atall in the regiment but for Captain Dobbin'sindiscretion. The Captain was eating his breakfast oneday in themess-roomwhile Cacklethe assistant-surgeonand thetwo above-named worthies were speculating uponOsborne'sintrigue--Stubble holding out that the ladywas aDuchess about Queen Charlotte's courtand Cacklevowing shewas an opera-singer of the worst reputation.At thisidea Dobbin became so movedthat though hismouth wasfull of eggs and bread-and-butter at the timeand thoughhe ought not to have spoken at allyet hecouldn'thelp blurting out"Cackleyou're a stupid fool.You'realways talking nonsense and scandal.  Osborne isnot goingto run off with a Duchess or ruin a milliner.MissSedley is one of the most charming young womenthat everlived.  He's been engaged to her ever so long;and theman who calls her names had better not do soin myhearing." With whichturning exceedingly redDobbinceased speakingand almost choked himself witha cup oftea.  The story was over the regiment in half-an-hour; andthat very evening Mrs. Major O'Dowd wroteoff to hersister Glorvina at O'Dowdstown not to hurryfromDublin--young Osborne being prematurely engagedalready. Shecomplimented the Lieutenant in an appropriatespeechover a glass of whisky-toddy that eveningand hewent homeperfectly furious to quarrel with Dobbin (whohaddeclined Mrs. Major O'Dowd's partyand sat in hisown roomplaying the fluteandI believewriting poetryin a verymelancholy manner)--to quarrel with Dobbinforbetraying his secret. "Whothe deuce asked you to talk about my affairs?"Osborneshouted indignantly.  "Why the devil is all theregimentto know that I am going to be married? Why isthattattling old harridanPeggy O'Dowdto make freewith myname at her d--d supper-tableand advertisemyengagement over the three kingdoms? After allwhatright haveyou to say I am engagedor to meddle in mybusinessat allDobbin?" "Itseems to me" Captain Dobbin began. "Seemsbe hangedDobbin" his junior interruptedhim. "I am under obligations to youI know ita d--ddeal toowell too; but I won't be always sermonised byyoubecause you're five years my senior.  I'm hanged ifI'll standyour airs of superiority and infernal pity andpatronage. Pity and patronage! I should like to know inwhat I'myour inferior?" "Areyou engaged?" Captain Dobbin interposed.  "Whatthe devil's that to you or any one here if I am?" "Areyou ashamed of it?" Dobbin resumed. "Whatright have you to ask me that questionsir? Ishouldlike to know" George said. "GoodGodyou don't mean to say you want to breakoff?"asked Dobbinstarting up. "Inother wordsyou ask me if I'm a man of honour"saidOsbornefiercely; "is that what you mean? You'veadoptedsuch a tone regarding me lately that I'm --if I'llbear it any more." "Whathave I done? I've told you you were neglectinga sweetgirlGeorge.  I've told you that when you go totown youought to go to herand not to the gambling-housesabout St. James's." "Youwant your money backI suppose" said Georgewith asneer. "Ofcourse I do--I always diddidn't I?" says Dobbin."Youspeak like a generous fellow." "Nohang itWilliamI beg your pardon"--hereGeorgeinterposed in a fit of remorse; "you have been myfriend ina hundred waysHeaven knows.  You've got meout of ascore of scrapes.  When Crawley of the Guardswon thatsum of money of me I should have been donebut foryou: I know I should.  But you shouldn't deal sohardlywith me; you shouldn't be always catechising me.I am veryfond of Amelia; I adore herand that sort ofthing. Don't look angry.  She's faultless; I know she is.But yousee there's no fun in winning a thing unless youplay forit.  Hang it: the regiment's just back from theWestIndiesI must have a little flingand then when I'mmarriedI'll reform; I will upon my honournow.  And--Isay--Dob--don'tbe angry with meand I'll give you ahundrednext monthwhen I know my father will standsomethinghandsome; and I'll ask Heavytop for leaveand I'llgo to townand see Amelia to-morrow--therenowwillthat satisfy you?" "Itis impossible to be long angry with youGeorge"said thegood-natured Captain; "and as for the moneyold boyyou know if I wanted it you'd share your lastshillingwith me." "ThatI wouldby JoveDobbin" George saidwiththegreatest generositythough by the way he never hadany moneyto spare. "OnlyI wish you had sown those wild oats of yoursGeorge. If you could have seen poor little Miss Emmy'sface whenshe asked me about you the other dayyouwould havepitched those billiard-balls to the deuce.  Goandcomfort heryou rascal.  Go and write her a longletter. Do something to make her happy; a very little will." "Ibelieve she's d--d fond of me" the Lieutenant saidwith aself-satisfied air; and went off to finish the eveningwith somejolly fellows in the mess-room. Ameliameanwhilein Russell Squarewas looking atthe moonwhich was shining upon that peaceful spotaswell asupon the square of the Chatham barrackswhereLieutenantOsborne was quarteredand thinking toherselfhow her hero was employed.  Perhaps he is visitingthesentriesthought she; perhaps he is bivouacking;perhaps heis attending the couch of a wounded comradeorstudyingthe art of war up in his own desolate chamber.And herkind thoughts sped away as if they were angelsand hadwingsand flying down the river to ChathamandRochesterstrove to peep into the barracks whereGeorgewas. . . . All things consideredI think it wasas wellthe gates were shutand the sentry allowed noone topass; so that the poor little white-robed angelcould nothear the songs those young fellows wereroaringover the whisky-punch. The dayafter the little conversation at Chathambarracksyoung Osborneto show that he would be as goodas hiswordprepared to go to townthereby incurringCaptainDobbin's applause.  "I should have liked to make hera littlepresent" Osborne said to his friend in confidence"onlyI am quite out of cash until my father tips up." ButDobbinwould not allow this good nature and generosityto bebalkedand so accommodated Mr. Osborne with afew poundnoteswhich the latter took after a little faintscruple. And I daresay he would have bought something veryhandsomefor Amelia; onlygetting off the coach in FleetStreethewas attracted by a handsome shirt-pin in ajeweller'swindowwhich he could not resist; and havingpaid forthathad very little money to spare for indulgingin anyfurther exercise of kindness.  Never mind: you maybe sure itwas not his presents Amelia wanted.  When hecame toRussell Squareher face lighted up as if he hadbeensunshine.  The little caresfearstearstimidmisgivingssleepless fancies of I don't know how many daysandnightswere forgottenunder one moment's influenceof thatfamiliarirresistible smile.  He beamed on herfrom thedrawing-room door--magnificentwithambrosialwhiskerslike a god.  Sambowhose face as heannouncedCaptain Osbin (having conferred a brevet rankon thatyoung officer) blazed with a sympathetic grinsawthe littlegirl startand flushand jump up from herwatching-placein the window; and Sambo retreated: andas soon asthe door was shutshe went fluttering toLieutenantGeorge Osborne's heart as if it was the only naturalhome forher to nestle in.  Ohthou poor panting littlesoul! The very finest tree in the whole forestwith thestraighteststemand the strongest armsand thethickestfoliagewherein you choose to build and coomaybe markedfor what you knowand may be down with acrash erelong.  What an oldold simile that isbetweenman andtimber! In themeanwhileGeorge kissed her very kindly onherforehead and glistening eyesand was very graciousand good;and she thought his diamond shirt-pin (whichshe hadnot known him to wear before) the prettiestornamentever seen.

 

Theobservant readerwho has marked our youngLieutenant'sprevious behaviourand has preserved ourreport ofthe brief conversation which he has just hadwithCaptain Dobbinhas possibly come to certainconclusionsregarding the character of Mr. Osborne.  SomecynicalFrenchman has said that there are two parties toalove-transaction: the one who loves and the other whocondescendsto be so treated.  Perhaps the love isoccasionallyon the man's side; perhaps on the lady's.Perhapssome infatuated swain has ere this mistakeninsensibilityfor modestydulness for maiden reservemerevacuityfor sweet bashfulnessand a goosein a wordfor aswan.  Perhaps some beloved female subscriber hasarrayed anass in the splendour and glory of herimagination;admired his dulness as manly simplicity;worshippedhis selfishness as manly superiority; treated hisstupidityas majestic gravityand used him as thebrilliantfairy Titania did a certain weaver at Athens.  I thinkI haveseen such comedies of errors going on in theworld. But this is certainthat Amelia believed her loverto be oneof the most gallant and brilliant men in theempire:and it is possible Lieutenant Osborne thoughtso too.

 

He was alittle wild: how many young men are; anddon'tgirls like a rake better than a milksop?  He hadn'tsown hiswild oats as yetbut he would soon: and quitthe armynow that peace was proclaimed; the Corsicanmonsterlocked up at Elba; promotion by consequenceover; andno chance left for the display of his undoubtedmilitarytalents and valour: and his allowancewithAmelia'ssettlementwould enable them to take a snugplace inthe country somewherein a good sportingneighbourhood;and he would hunt a littleand farm alittle;and they would be very happy.  As for remainingin thearmy as a married manthat was impossible.Fancy Mrs.George Osborne in lodgings in a countytown; orworse stillin the East or West Indieswith asociety ofofficersand patronized by Mrs. Major O'Dowd!Ameliadied with laughing at Osborne's stories aboutMrs. MajorO'Dowd.  He loved her much too fondly tosubjecther to that horrid woman and her vulgaritiesand therough treatment of a soldier's wife.  He didn'tcare forhimself--not he; but his dear little girl shouldtake theplace in society to whichas his wifeshe wasentitled:and to these proposals you may be sure sheaccededas she would to any other from the same author.  Holdingthis kind of conversationand buildingnumberlesscastles in the air (which Amelia adorned with allsorts offlower-gardensrustic walkscountry churchesSundayschoolsand the like; while George had hismind's eyedirected to the stablesthe kenneland thecellar)this young pair passed away a couple of hoursverypleasantly; and as the Lieutenant had only thatsingle dayin townand a great deal of most importantbusinessto transactit was proposed that Miss Emmy shoulddine withher future sisters-in-law.  This invitation wasacceptedjoyfully.  He conducted her to his sisters; wherehe lefther talking and prattling in a way that astonishedthoseladieswho thought that George might makesomethingof her; and he then went off to transacthisbusiness.  In a wordhe went out and ate ices at a pastry-cook'sshop inCharing Cross; tried a new coat in Pall Mall;dropped inat the Old Slaughters'and called for CaptainCannon;played eleven games at billiards with theCaptainof which he won eightand returned to RussellSquarehalf an hour late for dinnerbut in very goodhumour.

 

It was notso with old Mr. Osborne.  When thatgentlemancame from the Cityand was welcomed in thedrawing-roomby his daughters and the elegant MissWirttheysaw at once by his face--which was puffysolemnand yellow at the best of times--and by thescowl andtwitching of his black eyebrowsthat the heartwithin hislarge white waistcoat was disturbed anduneasy. When Amelia stepped forward to salute himwhichshe alwaysdid with great trembling and timidityhe gavea surlygrunt of recognitionand dropped the little handout of hisgreat hirsute paw without any attempt to holdit there. He looked round gloomily at his eldest daughter;whocomprehending the meaning of his lookwhichaskedunmistakably"Why the devil is she here?" saidat once: "Georgeis in townPapa; and has gone to the HorseGuardsand will be back to dinner." "O heisis he? I won't have the dinner kept waitingfor himJane"; with which this worthy man lapsed intohisparticular chairand then the utter silence in hisgenteelwell-furnished drawing-room was onlyinterruptedby the alarmed ticking of the great French clock. When thatchronometerwhich was surmounted by acheerfulbrass group of the sacrifice of Iphigeniatolledfive in aheavy cathedral toneMr. Osborne pulled thebell athis right hand-violentlyand the butler rushed up. "Dinner!"roared Mr. Osborne. "Mr.George isn't come insir" interposed the man. "DamnMr. Georgesir.  Am I master of the house?DINNER!~Mr. Osborne scowled.  Amelia trembled.  Atelegraphiccommunication of eyes passed between the otherthreeladies.  The obedient bell in the lower regions beganringingthe announcement of the meal.  The tolling overthe headof the family thrust his hands into the greattail-pocketsof his great blue coat with brass buttonsandwithoutwaiting for a further announcement strodedownstairsalonescowling over his shoulder at the fourfemales. "What'sthe matter nowmy dear?" asked one of theotherasthey rose and tripped gingerly behind the sire. "Isuppose the funds are falling" whispered Miss Wirt;and sotrembling and in silencethis hushed femalecompanyfollowed their dark leader.  They took their placesinsilence.  He growled out a blessingwhich sounded asgruffly asa curse.  The great silver dish-covers wereremoved. Amelia trembled in her placefor she was nextto theawful Osborneand alone on her side of the table--the gapbeing occasioned by the absence of George. "Soup?"says Mr. Osborneclutching the ladlefixinghis eyeson herin a sepulchral tone; and having helpedher andthe restdid not speak for a while. "TakeMiss Sedley's plate away" at last he said.  "Shecan't eatthe soup--no more can I.  It's beastly.  Take awaythe soupHicksand to-morrow turn the cook out ofthe houseJane." Havingconcluded his observations upon the soupMr.Osbornemade a few curt remarks respecting the fishalso of asavage and satirical tendencyand cursedBillingsgatewith an emphasis quite worthy of the place.Then helapsed into silenceand swallowed sundryglasses ofwinelooking more and more terribletill abriskknock at the door told of George's arrival wheneverybodybegan to rally. "Hecould not come before.  General Daguilet had kepthimwaiting at the Horse Guards.  Never mind soup orfish. Give him anything--he didn't care what.  Capitalmutton--capitaleverything." His good humour contrastedwith hisfather's severity; and he rattled on unceasinglyduringdinnerto the delight of all--of one especiallywho neednot be mentioned. As soon asthe young ladies had discussed the orangeand theglass of wine which formed the ordinaryconclusionof the dismal banquets at Mr. Osborne's housethe signalto make sail for the drawing-room was givenand theyall arose and departed.  Amelia hoped Georgewould soonjoin them there.  She began playing some ofhisfavourite waltzes (then newly imported) at the greatcarved-leggedleather-cased grand piano in the drawing-roomoverhead.  This little artifice did not bring him.  Hewas deafto the waltzes; they grew fainter and fainter;thediscomfited performer left the huge instrumentpresently;and though her three friends performed some oftheloudest and most brilliant new pieces of theirrepertoireshe did not hear a single notebut sate thinkingand bodingevil.  Old Osborne's scowlterrific alwayshadneverbefore looked so deadly to her.  His eyes followedher out ofthe roomas if she had been guilty of something.When theybrought her coffeeshe started asthough itwere a cup of poison which Mr. Hicksthebutlerwished to propose to her.  What mystery wastherelurking? Ohthose women!  They nurse and cuddletheirpresentimentsand make darlings of their ugliestthoughtsas they do of their deformed children. The gloomon the paternal countenance had alsoimpressedGeorge Osborne with anxiety.  With sucheyebrowsand a look so decidedly bilioushow was he toextractthat money from the governorof which Georgewasconsumedly in want? He began praising his father'swine. That was generally a successful means of cajolingthe oldgentleman. "Wenever got such Madeira in the West Indiessirasyours. Colonel Heavytop took off three bottles of that yousent medownunder his belt the other day." "Didhe?" said the old gentleman.  "It stands me ineightshillings a bottle." "Willyou take six guineas a dozen for itsir?" saidGeorgewith a laugh.  "There's one of the greatest men inthekingdom wants some." "Doeshe?" growled the senior.  "Wish he may get it." "WhenGeneral Daguilet was at ChathamsirHeavytopgave him abreakfastand asked me for some of thewine. The General liked it just as well--wanted a pipefor theCommander-in-Chief.  He's his Royal Highness'sright-handman." "Itis devilish fine wine" said the Eyebrowsand theylookedmore good-humoured; and George was going totakeadvantage of this complacencyand bring thesupplyquestion on the mahoganywhen the fatherrelapsingintosolemnitythough rather cordial in mannerbadehim ringthe bell for claret.  "And we'll see if that's asgood asthe MadeiraGeorgeto which his RoyalHighnessis welcomeI'm sure.  And as we are drinking itI'll talkto you about a matter of importance." Ameliaheard the claret bell ringing as she satnervouslyupstairs.  She thoughtsomehowit was amysteriousand presentimental bell.  Of the presentimentswhich somepeople are always havingsome surelymust comeright. "WhatI want to knowGeorge" the old gentlemansaidafter slowly smacking his first bumper--"what Iwant toknow ishow you and--ah--that little thingupstairsare carrying on?" "Ithinksirit is not hard to see" George saidwith aself-satisfiedgrin.  "Pretty clearsir.--What capital wine!" "Whatd'you meanpretty clearsir?" "Whyhang itsirdon't push me too hard.  I'm amodestman.  I--ah--I don't set up to be a lady-killer;but I doown that she's as devilish fond of me as shecan be. Anybody can see that with half an eye." "Andyou yourself?" "Whysirdidn't you order me to marry herand ain'tI a goodboy? Haven't our Papas settled it ever so long?" "Apretty boyindeed.  Haven't I heard of your doingssirwithLord TarquinCaptain Crawley of the Guards~theHonourable Mr. Deuceace and that set.  Have a caresirhavea care." The oldgentleman pronounced these aristocraticnames withthe greatest gusto.  Whenever he met a greatman hegrovelled before himand my-lorded him as onlyafree-born Briton can do.  He came home and lookedout hishistory in the Peerage: he introduced his nameinto hisdaily conversation; he bragged about hisLordshipto his daughters.  He fell down prostrate and baskedin him asa Neapolitan beggar does in the sun.  Georgewasalarmed when he heard the names.  He feared hisfathermight have been informed of certain transactionsat play. But the old moralist eased him by sayingserenely: "Wellwellyoung men will be young men.  And thecomfort tome isGeorgethat living in the best societyinEnglandas I hope you do; as I think you do; as mymeans willallow you to do--"

 

"Thankyousir" says Georgemaking his point atonce. "One can't live with these great folks for nothing;and mypursesirlook at it"; and he held up a littletokenwhich had been netted by Ameliaand containedthe verylast of Dobbin's pound notes. "Youshan't wantsir.  The British merchant's sonshan'twantsir.  My guineas are as good as theirsGeorgemyboy; and I don't grudge 'em.  Call on Mr.Chopper asyou go through the City to-morrow; he'llhavesomething for you.  I don't grudge money when Iknowyou're in good societybecause I know that goodsocietycan never go wrong.  There's no pride in me.  Iwas ahumbly born man--but you have had advantages.Make agood use of 'em.  Mix with the young nobility.There'smany of 'em who can't spend a dollar to yourguineamyboy.  And as for the pink bonnets (here fromunder theheavy eyebrows there came a knowing and notverypleasing leer)--why boys will be boys.  Only there'sone thingI order you to avoidwhichif you do notI'llcut youoff with a shillingby Jove; and that's gambling

 

 "Ohof coursesir" said George. "Butto return to the other business about Amelia:whyshouldn't you marry higher than a stockbroker'sdaughterGeorge--that's what I want to know?" "It'sa family businesssir".says Georgecrackingfilberts. "You and Mr. Sedley made the match a hundredyearsago." "Idon't deny it; but people's positions altersir.  I don'tdeny thatSedley made my fortuneor rather put me inthe way ofacquiringby my own talents and geniusthatproudpositionwhichI may sayI occupy in the tallowtrade andthe City of London.  I've shown my gratitudeto Sedley;and he's tried it of latesiras my cheque-bookcan show. George!  I tell you in confidence I don'tlike thelooks of Mr. Sedley's affairs.  My chief clerkMr.Chopperdoes not like the looks of 'emand he's anold fileand knows 'Change as well as any man inLondon. Hulker & Bullock are looking shy at him.  He's beendabblingon his own account I fear.  They say the JeuneAmelie washiswhich was taken by the YankeeprivateerMolasses.  And that's flat--unless I see Amelia's tenthousanddown you don't marry her.  I'll have no lameduck'sdaughter in my family.  Pass the winesir--orring forcoffee." With whichMr. Osborne spread out the eveningpaperandGeorge knew from this signal that thecolloquywas endedand that his papa was about totake anap. He hurriedupstairs to Amelia in the highest spirits.What wasit that made him more attentive to her on thatnight thanhe had been for a long time--more eager toamuse hermore tendermore brilliant in talk?  Was itthat hisgenerous heart warmed to her at the prospect ofmisfortune;or that the idea of losing the dear little prizemade himvalue it more? She livedupon the recollections of that happy eveningfor manydays afterwardsremembering his words; hislooks; thesong he sang; his attitudeas he leant over heror lookedat her from a distance.  As it seemed to herno nightever passed so quickly at Mr. Osborne's housebefore;and for once this young person was almostprovokedto be angry by the premature arrival of Mr.Sambo withher shawl. Georgecame and took a tender leave of her the nextmorning;and then hurried off to the Citywhere hevisitedMr. Chopperhis father's head manand receivedfrom thatgentleman a document which he exchanged atHulker &Bullock's for a whole pocketful of money.  AsGeorgeentered the houseold John Sedley was passingout of thebanker's parlourlooking very dismal.  But hisgodson wasmuch too elated to mark the worthystockbroker'sdepressionor the dreary eyes which the kindoldgentleman cast upon him.  Young Bullock did notcomegrinning out of the parlour with him as had beenhis wontin former years. And as theswinging doors of HulkerBullock & Co.closedupon Mr. SedleyMr. Quillthe cashier (whosebenevolentoccupation it is to hand out crisp bank-notesfrom adrawer and dispense sovereigns out of a coppershovel)winked at Mr. Driverthe clerk at the desk onhisright.  Mr. Driver winked again. "Nogo" Mr. D. whispered.

 

"Notat no price" Mr. Q. said.  "Mr. George Osborne sirhow will you take it?" George crammed eagerly aquantityof notes into his pocketsand paid Dobbin fiftypoundsthat very evening at mess. That veryevening Amelia wrote him the tenderest oflongletters.  Her heart was overflowing with tendernessbut itstill foreboded evil.  What was the cause of Mr.Osborne'sdark looks? she asked.  Had any differencearisenbetween him and her papa? Her poor papareturnedso melancholy from the Citythat all werealarmedabout him at home--in finethere were fourpages ofloves and fears and hopes and forebodings. "Poorlittle Emmy--dear little Emmy.  How fond sheis of me"George saidas he perused the missive--"andGadwhata headache that mixed punch has given me!"Poorlittle Emmyindeed.

 

 

 

 

CHAPTERXIVMissCrawley at Home

 

About thistime there drove up to an exceedingly snugandwell-appointed house in Park Lanea travelling chariotwith alozenge on the panelsa discontented female in agreen veiland crimped curls on the rumbleand a largeandconfidential man on the box.  It was the equipage ofour friendMiss Crawleyreturning from Hants.  Thecarriagewindows were shut; the fat spanielwhose head andtongueordinarily lolled out of one of themreposed on thelap of thediscontented female.  When the vehicle stoppeda largeround bundle of shawls was taken out of thecarriageby the aid of various domestics and a younglady whoaccompanied the heap of cloaks.  That bundlecontainedMiss Crawleywho was conveyed upstairsforthwithand put into a bed and chamber warmed properlyas for thereception of an invalid.  Messengers went offfor herphysician and medical man.  They cameconsultedprescribedvanished.  The young companion ofMissCrawleyat the conclusion of their interviewcamein toreceive their instructionsand administered thoseantiphlogisticmedicines which the eminent men ordered. CaptainCrawley of the Life Guards rode up fromKnightsbridgeBarracks the next day; his black chargerpawed thestraw before his invalid aunt's door.  He wasmostaffectionate in his inquiries regarding that amiablerelative. There seemed to be much source of apprehension.He foundMiss Crawley's maid (the discontentedfemale)unusually sulky and despondent; he found MissBriggsher dame de compagniein tears alone in thedrawing-room. She had hastened homehearing of herbelovedfriend's illness.  She wished to fly to her couchthat couchwhich sheBriggshad so often smoothed inthe hourof sickness.  She was denied admission to MissCrawley'sapartment.  A stranger was administering hermedicines--astranger from the country--an odious Miss. ..--tears choked the utterance of the dame decompagnieand she buried her crushed affections and herpoor oldred nose in her pocket handkerchief. RawdonCrawley sent up his name by the sulky femmedechambreand Miss Crawley's new companioncomingtrippingdown from the sick-roomput a little hand intohis as hestepped forward eagerly to meet hergave aglance ofgreat scorn at the bewildered Briggsandbeckoningthe young Guardsman out of the back drawing-roomledhim downstairs into that now desolate dining-parlourwhere so many a good dinner had beencelebrated. Here thesetwo talked for ten minutesdiscussingnodoubtthesymptoms of the old invalid above stairs; atthe end ofwhich period the parlour bell was rung brisklyandanswered on that instant by Mr. BowlsMissCrawley'slarge confidential butler (whoindeedhappened tobe at thekeyhole during the most part of the interview);and theCaptain coming outcurling his mustachiosmountedthe black charger pawing among the strawtotheadmiration of the little blackguard boys collected inthestreet.  He looked in at the dining-room windowmanaginghis horsewhich curvetted and capered beautifully--for oneinstant the young person might be seen at thewindowwhen her figure vanishedanddoubtlessshewentupstairs again to resume the affecting duties ofbenevolence. Who couldthis young woman beI wonder?  Thatevening alittle dinner for two persons was laid in the dining-room--whenMrs. Firkinthe lady's maidpushed into hermistress'sapartmentand bustled about there duringthevacancy occasioned by the departure of the newnurse--andthe latter and Miss Briggs sat down to theneatlittle meal. Briggs wasso much choked by emotion that she couldhardlytake a morsel of meat.  The young person carved afowl withthe utmost delicacyand asked so distinctly foregg-saucethat poor Briggsbefore whom that deliciouscondimentwas placedstartedmade a great clatteringwith theladleand once more fell back in the mostgushinghysterical state. "Hadyou not better give Miss Briggs a glass of wine?"said theperson to Mr. Bowlsthe large confidential man.He didso.  Briggs seized it mechanicallygasped it downconvulsivelymoaned a littleand began to play with thechicken onher plate. "Ithink we shall be able to help each other" saidthe personwith great suavity: "and shall have no needof Mr.Bowls's kind services.  Mr. Bowlsif you pleasewe willring when we want you." He went downstairswherebythe wayhe vented the most horrid cursesupon theunoffending footmanhis subordinate. "Itis a pity you take on soMiss Briggs" the younglady saidwith a coolslightly sarcasticair. "Mydearest friend is so illand wo--o--on't seeme"gurgled out Briggs in an agony of renewed grief. "She'snot very ill any more.  Console yourselfdearMissBriggs.  She has only overeaten herself--that is all.She isgreatly better.  She will soon be quite restored again.She isweak from being cupped and from medicaltreatmentbut she will rally immediately.  Pray consoleyourselfand take a little more wine." "Butwhywhy won't she see me again?" Miss Briggsbleatedout.  "OhMatildaMatildaafter three-and-twentyyears' tenderness! is this the return to your poorpoorArabella?" "Don'tcry too muchpoor Arabella" the other said(with everso little of a grin); "she only won't see youbecauseshe says you don't nurse her as well as I do.It's nopleasure to me to sit up all night.  I wish youmight doit instead." "HaveI not tended that dear couch for years?"Arabellasaid"and now--" "Nowshe prefers somebody else.  Wellsick peoplehave thesefanciesand must be humoured.  When she'swell Ishall go." "Nevernever" Arabella exclaimedmadly inhaling hersalts-bottle. "Neverbe well or never goMiss Briggs?" the othersaidwiththe same provoking good-nature.  "Pooh--shewill bewell in a fortnightwhen I shall go back to mylittlepupils at Queen's Crawleyand to their motherwho is agreat deal more sick than our friend.  You neednot bejealous about memy dear Miss Briggs.  I am apoorlittle girl without any friendsor any harm in me.I don'twant to supplant you in Miss Crawley's goodgraces. She will forget me a week after I am gone: andheraffection for you has been the work of years.  Giveme alittle wine if you pleasemy dear Miss Briggsand let usbe friends.  I'm sure I want friends." Theplacable and soft-hearted Briggs speechlesslypushed outher hand at this appeal; but she felt thedesertionmost keenly for all thatand bitterlybitterlymoaned thefickleness of her Matilda.  At the end of halfan hourthe meal overMiss Rebecca Sharp (for suchastonishingto stateis the name of her who has beendescribedingeniously as "the person" hitherto)wentupstairsagain to her patient's roomsfrom whichwiththe mostengaging politenessshe eliminated poor Firkin."ThankyouMrs. Firkinthat will quite do; how nicelyyou makeit! I will ring when anything is wanted." "Thankyou";and Firkin came downstairs in a tempest ofjealousyonly the more dangerous because she was forcedto confineit in her own bosom.  Could itbe the tempest whichas she passed thelanding ofthe first floorblew open the drawing-room door?No; it wasstealthily opened by the hand of Briggs.Briggs hadbeen on the watch. Briggs too well heard thecreakingFirkin descend the stairsand the clink of thespoon andgruel-basin the neglected female carried. "WellFirkin?" says sheas the other entered theapartment."WellJane?" "Wussand wussMiss B." Firkin saidwagging herhead. "Isshe not better then?" "Shenever spoke but onceand I asked her if she felta littlemore easyand she told me to hold my stupidtongue.OhMiss B.I never thought to have seen thisday!" And the water-works again began to play. "Whatsort of a person is this Miss SharpFirkin? Ilittlethoughtwhile enjoying my Christmas revels in theeleganthome of my firm friendsthe Reverend LionelDelamereand his amiable ladyto find a stranger hadtaken myplace in the affections of my dearestmy stilldearestMatilda!"  Miss Briggsit will be seen by herlanguagewas of a literary and sentimental turnand hadoncepublished a volume of poems--"Trills of theNightingale"--bysubscription. "MissB.they are all infatyated about that youngwoman"Firkin replied. "Sir Pitt wouldn't have let hergobut hedaredn't refuse Miss Crawley anything. Mrs.Bute atthe Rectory jist as bad--never happy out of hersight. TheCapting quite wild about her. Mr. Crawleymortialjealous. Since Miss C. was took illshe won'thavenobody near her but Miss SharpI can't tell forwhere norfor why; and I think somethink has bewidgedeverybody." Rebeccapassed that night in constant watching uponMissCrawley; the next night the old lady slept socomfortablythat Rebecca had time for several hours'comfortablerepose herself on the sofaat the foot of herpatroness'sbed; very soonMiss Crawley was so wellthat shesat up and laughed heartily at a perfectimitationof Miss Briggs and her griefwhich Rebeccadescribedto her. Briggs' weeping snuffleand her mannerof usingthe handkerchiefwere so completely renderedthat MissCrawley became quite cheerfulto theadmirationof the doctors when they visited herwho usuallyfound thisworthy woman of the worldwhen the leastsicknessattacked herunder the most abject depressionand terrorof death. CaptainCrawley came every dayand received bulletinsfrom MissRebecca respecting his aunt's health.Thisimproved so rapidlythat poor Briggs was allowedto see herpatroness; and persons with tender heartsmayimagine the smothered emotions of that sentimentalfemaleand the affecting nature of the interview. MissCrawley liked to have Briggs in a good dealsoon. Rebecca used to mimic her to her face with themostadmirable gravitythereby rendering the imitationdoublypiquant to her worthy patroness.

 

The causeswhich had led to the deplorable illness ofMissCrawleyand her departure from her brother'shouse inthe countrywere of such an unromantic naturethat theyare hardly fit to be explained in this genteelandsentimental novel.  For how is it possible to hint of adelicatefemaleliving in good societythat she ate anddrank toomuchand that a hot supper of lobstersprofuselyenjoyed at the Rectory was the reason of anindispositionwhich Miss Crawley herself persisted wassolelyattributable to the dampness of the weather?  Theattack wasso sharp that Matilda--as his Reverenceexpressedit--was very nearly "off the hooks"; all thefamilywere in a fever of expectation regarding the willand RawdonCrawley was making sure of at least fortythousandpounds before the commencement of theLondonseason.  Mr. Crawley sent over a choice parcel oftractstoprepare her for the change from Vanity Fairand ParkLane for another world; but a good doctorfromSouthampton being called in in timevanquishedthelobster which was so nearly fatal to herand gavehersufficient strength to enable her to return to London.TheBaronet did not disguise his exceeding mortificationat theturn which affairs took. Whileeverybody was attending on Miss Crawleyandmessengersevery hour from the Rectory were carryingnews ofher health to the affectionate folks theretherewas a ladyin another part of the housebeing exceedinglyillofwhom no one took any notice at all; and this wasthe ladyof Crawley herself.  The good doctor shook hishead afterseeing her; to which visit Sir Pitt consentedas itcould be paid without a fee; and she was left fadingaway inher lonely chamberwith no more heed paid toher thanto a weed in the park. The youngladiestoolost much of the inestimablebenefit oftheir governess's instructionSo affectionate anurse wasMiss Sharpthat Miss Crawley would takehermedicines from no other hand.  Firkin had beendeposedlong before her mistress's departure from thecountry. That faithful attendant found a gloomy consolationonreturning to Londonin seeing Miss Briggs sufferthe samepangs of jealousy and undergo the samefaithlesstreatment to which she herself had been subject. CaptainRawdon got an extension of leave on hisaunt'sillnessand remained dutifully at home.  He wasalways inher antechamber.  (She lay sick in the statebedroominto which you entered by the little bluesaloon.)His father was always meeting him there; or if hecame downthe corridor ever so quietlyhis father'sdoor wassure to openand the hyena face of the oldgentlemanto glare out.  What was it set one to watchthe otherso?  A generous rivalryno doubtas to whichshould bemost attentive to the dear sufferer in the statebedroom. Rebecca used to come out and comfort bothof them;or one or the other of them rather.  Both oftheseworthy gentlemen were most anxious to have newsof theinvalid from her little confidential messenger. Atdinner--to which meal she descended for half anhour--shekept the peace between them: after which shedisappearedfor the night; when Rawdon would ride overto thedepot of the 150th at Mudburyleaving his papato thesociety of Mr. Horrocks and his rum and water.She passedas weary a fortnight as ever mortal spent inMissCrawley's sick-room; but her little nerves seemedto be ofironas she was quite unshaken by the duty andthe tediumof the sick-chamber. She nevertold until long afterwards how painful thatduty was;how peevish a patient was the jovial old lady;how angry;how sleepless; in what horrors of death;duringwhat long nights she lay moaningand in almostdeliriousagonies respecting that future world which shequiteignored when she was in good health.--Picture toyourselfoh fair young readera worldlyselfishgracelessthanklessreligionless old womanwrithing in painand fearand without her wig.  Picture her to yourselfand ereyou be oldlearn to love and pray! Sharpwatched this graceless bedside with indomitablepatience. Nothing escaped her; andlike a prudent stewardshe founda use for everything.  She told many agood storyabout Miss Crawley's illness in after days--storieswhich made the lady blush through her artificialcarnations. During the illness she was never out oftemper;always alert; she slept lighthaving a perfectly clearconscience;and could take that refreshment at almostanyminute's warning.  And so you saw very few traces offatigue inher appearance.  Her face might be a triflepalerandthe circles round her eyes a little blacker thanusual; butwhenever she came out from the sick-roomshe wasalways smilingfreshand neatand looked astrim inher little dressing-gown and capas in hersmartestevening suit. TheCaptain thought soand raved about her inuncouthconvulsions.  The barbed shaft of love hadpenetratedhis dull hide.  Six weeks--appropinquity--opportunity--hadvictimised him completely.  He made aconfidanteof his aunt at the Rectoryof all persons in theworld. She rallied him about it; she had perceived hisfolly; shewarned him; she finished by owning that littleSharp wasthe most cleverdrolloddgood-naturedsimplekindly creature in England.  Rawdon must nottriflewith her affectionsthough--dear Miss Crawleywouldnever pardon him for that; for shetoowas quiteovercomeby the little governessand loved Sharp like adaughter. Rawdon must go away--go back to hisregimentand naughty Londonand not play with a poorartlessgirl's feelings. Many andmany a time this good-natured ladycompassionatingthe forlorn life-guardsman's conditiongave himan opportunity of seeing Miss Sharp at the Rectoryand ofwalking home with heras we have seen.  Whenmen of acertain sortladiesare in lovethough theysee thehook and the stringand the whole apparatuswith whichthey are to be takenthey gorge the baitnevertheless--theymust come to it--they must swallowit--andare presently struck and landed gasping.  Rawdonsaw therewas a manifest intention on Mrs. Bute's parttocaptivate him with Rebecca.  He was not very wise;but he wasa man about townand had seen severalseasons. A light dawned upon his dusky soulas he thoughtthrough aspeech of Mrs. Bute's. "Markmy wordsRawdon" she said.  "You will haveMiss Sharpone day for your relation." "Whatrelation--my cousinheyMrs. Bute? Jamessweet onherhey?" inquired the waggish officer. "Morethan that" Mrs. Bute saidwith a flash fromher blackeyes. "NotPitt?  He sha'n't have her.  The sneak a'n'tworthy ofher.  He's booked to Lady Jane Sheepshanks." "Youmen perceive nothing.  You sillyblind creature--ifanything happens to Lady CrawleyMiss Sharp willbe yourmother-in-law; and that's what will happen." RawdonCrawleyEsquiregave vent to a prodigiouswhistlein token of astonishment at this announcement.Hecouldn't deny it.  His father's evident liking for MissSharp hadnot escaped him.  He knew the old gentleman'scharacterwell; and a more unscrupulous old--whyou--he did notconclude the sentencebut walked homecurlinghis mustachiosand convinced he had found aclue toMrs. Bute's mystery. "ByJoveit's too bad" thought Rawdon"too badbyJove! I dobelieve the woman wants the poor girl to beruinedinorder that she shouldn't come into the familyas LadyCrawley." When hesaw Rebecca alonehe rallied her about hisfather'sattachment in his graceful way.  She flung up herheadscornfullylooked him full in the faceand said "Wellsuppose he is fond of me.  I know he isandotherstoo.  You don't think I am afraid of himCaptainCrawley? You don't suppose I can't defend my ownhonour"said the little womanlooking as stately as aqueen. "Ohahwhy--give you fair warning--look outyouknow--that'sall" said the mustachio-twiddler. "Youhint at something not honourablethen?" saidsheflashing out.

 

"OGad--really--Miss Rebecca" the heavy dragooninterposed. "Doyou suppose I have no feeling of self-respectbecause Iam poor and friendlessand because rich peoplehavenone?  Do you thinkbecause I am a governessIhave notas much senseand feelingand good breedingas yougentlefolks in Hampshire? I'm a Montmorency.Do yousuppose a Montmorency is not as good as aCrawley?" When MissSharp was agitatedand alluded to hermaternalrelativesshe spoke with ever so slight aforeignaccentwhich gave a great charm to her clearringingvoice.  "No" she continuedkindling as she spoke totheCaptain; "I can endure povertybut not shame--neglectbut not insult; and insult from--from you." Herfeelings gave wayand she burst into tears. "HangitMiss Sharp--Rebecca--by Jove--upon mysoulIwouldn't for a thousand pounds.  StopRebecca!" She wasgone.  She drove out with Miss Crawley thatday. It was before the latter's illness.  At dinner she wasunusuallybrilliant and lively; but she would take nonotice ofthe hintsor the nodsor the clumsy expostulationsof thehumiliatedinfatuated guardsman.  Skirmishesof thissort passed perpetually during the little campaign--tediousto relateand similar in result.  The Crawleyheavycavalry was maddened by defeatand routedeveryday.                       

 

If theBaronet of Queen's Crawley had not had thefear oflosing his sister's legacy before his eyeshe neverwould havepermitted his dear girls to lose the educationalblessingswhich their invaluable governess was conferringuponthem.  The old house at home seemed a desertwithoutherso useful and pleasant had Rebeccamadeherself there.  Sir Pitt's letters were not copied andcorrected;his books not made up; his householdbusinessand manifold schemes neglectednow that his littlesecretarywas away.  And it was easy to see how necessarysuch anamanuensis was to himby the tenor andspellingof the numerous letters which he sent to herentreatingher and commanding her to return.  Almost everydaybrought a frank from the Baronetenclosing themosturgent prayers to Becky for her returnor conveyingpatheticstatements to Miss Crawleyregarding theneglectedstate of his daughters' education; of whichdocumentsMiss Crawley took very little heed. MissBriggs was not formally dismissedbut her placeascompanion was a sinecure and a derision; and hercompanywas the fat spaniel in the drawing-roomoroccasionallythe discontented Firkin in the housekeeper'scloset. Nor though the old lady would by no meanshear ofRebecca's departurewas the latter regularlyinstalledin office in Park Lane.  Like many wealthy peopleit wasMiss Crawley's habit to accept as much service asshe couldget from her inferiors; and good-naturedly totake leaveof them when she no longer found themuseful. Gratitude among certain rich folks is scarcely naturalor to bethought of.  They take needy people's servicesas theirdue.  Nor have youO poor parasite and humblehanger-onmuch reason to complain!  Your friendshipfor Divesis about as sincere as the return which it usuallygets. It is money you loveand not the man; and wereCroesusand his footman to change places you knowyou poorroguewho would have the benefit of yourallegiance. And I amnot sure thatin spite of Rebecca's simplicityandactivityand gentleness and untiring goodhumourthe shrewd old London ladyupon whom thesetreasuresof friendship were lavishedhad not a lurkingsuspicionall the while of her affectionate nurse and friend.It musthave often crossed Miss Crawley's mind thatnobodydoes anything for nothing.  If she measured her ownfeelingtowards the worldshe must have been prettywell ableto gauge those of the world towards herself;andperhaps she reflected that it is the ordinary lot ofpeople tohave no friends if they themselves care fornobody. Wellmeanwhile Becky was the greatest comfort andconvenienceto herand she gave her a couple of newgownsandan old necklace and shawland showed herfriendshipby abusing all her intimate acquaintances toher newconfidante (than which there can't be a moretouchingproof of regard)and meditated vaguely somegreatfuture benefit--to marry her perhaps to Clumptheapothecaryor to settle her in some advantageousway oflife; or at any rateto send her back to Queen'sCrawleywhen she had done with herand the fullLondonseason had begun. When MissCrawley was convalescent and descendedto thedrawing-roomBecky sang to herand otherwiseamusedher; when she was well enough to drive outBeckyaccompanied her.  And amongst the drives whichthey tookwhitherof all places in the worlddid MissCrawley'sadmirable good-nature and friendship actuallyinduce herto penetratebut to Russell SquareBloomsburyand the house of John SedleyEsquire. Ere thateventmany notes had passedas may beimaginedbetween the two dear friends.  During themonths ofRebecca's stay in Hampshirethe eternalfriendshiphad (must it be owned?) suffered considerablediminutionand grown so decrepit and feeble with oldage as tothreaten demise altogether.  The fact isbothgirls hadtheir own real affairs to think of: Rebecca heradvancewith her employers--Amelia her own absorbingtopic. When the two girls metand flew into each other'sarms withthat impetuosity which distinguishes thebehaviourof young ladies towards each otherRebeccaperformedher part of the embrace with the most perfectbrisknessand energy.  Poor little Amelia blushed as shekissed herfriendand thought she had been guilty ofsomethingvery like coldness towards her. Theirfirst interview was but a very short one.  Ameliawas justready to go out for a walk.  Miss Crawley waswaiting inher carriage belowher people wondering atthelocality in which they found themselvesand gazinguponhonest Sambothe black footman of Bloomsburyas one ofthe queer natives of the place.  But when Ameliacame downwith her kind smiling looks (Rebecca mustintroduceher to her friendMiss Crawley was longingto seeherand was too ill to leave her carriage)--whenI sayAmelia came downthe Park Lane shoulder-knotaristocracywondered more and more that such a thingcould comeout of Bloomsbury; and Miss Crawley wasfairlycaptivated by the sweet blushing face of the younglady whocame forward so timidly and so gracefully topay herrespects to the protector of her friend.

 

"Whata complexionmy dear! What a sweet voice!"MissCrawley saidas they drove away westward afterthe littleinterview.  "My dear Sharpyour young friendischarming.  Send for her to Park Lanedo you hear?"MissCrawley had a good taste.  She liked naturalmanners--alittle timidity only set them off.  She liked prettyfaces nearher; as she liked pretty pictures and nicechina. She talked of Amelia with rapture half a dozentimes thatday.  She mentioned her to Rawdon Crawleywho camedutifully to partake of his aunt's chicken. Of courseon this Rebecca instantly stated that Ameliawasengaged to be married--to a Lieutenant Osborne--a very oldflame. "Ishe a man in a line-regiment?" Captain Crawleyaskedremembering after an effortas became aguardsmanthe number of the regimentthe --th. Rebeccathought that was the regiment.  "TheCaptain'sname" she said"was Captain Dobbin." "Alanky gawky fellow" said Crawley"tumbles overeverybody. I know him; and Osborne's a goodish-lookingfellowwith large black whiskers?" "Enormous"Miss Rebecca Sharp said"andenormouslyproud of themI assure you." CaptainRawdon Crawley burst into a horse-laugh byway ofreply; and being pressed by the ladies to explaindid sowhen the explosion of hilarity was over.  "Hefancies hecan play at billiards" said he.  "I won twohundred ofhim at the Cocoa-Tree.  HE playthe youngflat! He'd have played for anything that daybut his friendCaptainDobbin carried him offhang him!" "RawdonRawdondon't be so wicked" Miss Crawleyremarkedhighly pleased. "Whyma'amof all the young fellows I've seen outof thelineI think this fellow's the greenest.  Tarquin andDeuceaceget what money they like out of him.  He'd goto thedeuce to be seen with a lord.  He pays theirdinners atGreenwichand they invite the company." "Andvery pretty company tooI dare say." "QuiterightMiss Sharp.  Rightas usualMiss Sharp.Uncommonpretty company--hawhaw!" and theCaptainlaughed more and morethinking he had made agood joke.

 

"Rawdondon't be naughty!" his aunt exclaimed. "Wellhis father's a City man--immensely richtheysay. Hang those City fellowsthey must bleed; and I'venot donewith him yetI can tell you.  Hawhaw!" "FieCaptain Crawley; I shall warn Amelia.  Agamblinghusband!" "Horridain't hehey?" the Captain said with greatsolemnity;and then addeda sudden thought havingstruckhim: "GadI sayma'amwe'll have him here." "Ishe a presentable sort of a person?" the auntinquired. "Presentable?--ohvery well.  You wouldn't see anydifference"Captain Crawley answered.  "Do let's havehimwhenyou begin to see a few people; and hiswhatdyecallem--hisinamorato--ehMiss Sharp; that's whatyou callit--comes.  GadI'll write him a noteand havehim; andI'll try if he can play piquet as well as billiards.Where doeshe liveMiss Sharp?" Miss Sharptold Crawley the Lieutenant's town address;and a fewdays after this conversationLieutenantOsbornereceived a letterin Captain Rawdon'sschoolboyhandand enclosing a note of invitation fromMissCrawley. Rebeccadespatched also an invitation to her darlingAmeliawhoyou may be surewas ready enough toaccept itwhen she heard that George was to be of theparty. It was arranged that Amelia was to spend themorningwith the ladies of Park Lanewhere all werevery kindto her.  Rebecca patronised her with calmsuperiority:she was so much the cleverer of the twoandher friendso gentle and unassumingthat she alwaysyieldedwhen anybody chose to commandand so tookRebecca'sorders with perfect meekness and good humour.MissCrawley's graciousness was also remarkable.  Shecontinuedher raptures about little Ameliatalked abouther beforeher face as if she were a dollor a servantor apictureand admired her with the most benevolentwonderpossible.  I admire that admiration which thegenteelworld sometimes extends to the commonalty.There isno more agreeable object in life than to seeMayfairfolks condescending.  Miss Crawley's prodigiousbenevolencerather fatigued poor little Ameliaand I amnot surethat of the three ladies in Park Lane she didnot findhonest Miss Briggs the most agreeable.  Shesympathisedwith Briggs as with all neglected or gentlepeople:she wasn't what you call a woman of spirit. Georgecame to dinner--a repast en garcon withCaptainCrawley. The greatfamily coach of the Osbornes transportedhim toPark Lane from Russell Square; where the youngladieswho were not themselves invitedand professedthegreatest indifference at that slightnevertheless lookedat SirPitt Crawley's name in the baronetage; and learnedeverythingwhich that work had to teach about theCrawleyfamily and their pedigreeand the Binkiestheirrelatives&c.&c.  Rawdon Crawley received George Osbornewith greatfrankness and graciousness: praised his play atbilliards:asked him when he would have his revenge:wasinterested about Osborne's regiment: and would haveproposedpiquet to him that very eveningbut MissCrawleyabsolutely forbade any gambling in her house;so thatthe young Lieutenant's purse was not lightenedby hisgallant patronfor that day at least.  Howevertheymade anengagement for the nextsomewhere: to lookat a horsethat Crawley had to selland to try him in thePark; andto dine togetherand to pass the evening withsome jollyfellows.  "That isif you're not on duty to thatprettyMiss Sedley" Crawley saidwith a knowing wink."Monstrousnice girl'pon my honourthoughOsborne"he wasgood enough to add.  "Lots of tinI supposeeh?" Osbornewasn't on duty; he would join Crawley withpleasure:and the latterwhen they met the next daypraisedhis new friend's horsemanship--as he might withperfecthonesty--and introduced him to three or fouryoung menof the first fashionwhose acquaintanceimmenselyelated the simple young officer. "How'slittle Miss Sharpby-the-bye?" Osborne inquiredof hisfriend over their winewith a dandified air."Good-naturedlittle girl that.  Does she suit you well atQueen'sCrawley? Miss Sedley liked her a good deal lastyear." CaptainCrawley looked savagely at the Lieutenant outof hislittle blue eyesand watched him when he went upto resumehis acquaintance with the fair governess.  Herconductmust have relieved Crawley if there was anyjealousyin the bosom of that life-guardsman. When theyoung men went upstairsand afterOsborne'sintroduction to Miss Crawleyhe walked up toRebeccawith a patronisingeasy swagger.  He was goingto be kindto her and protect her.  He would even shakehands withheras a friend of Amelia's; and saying"AhMissSharp! how-dy-doo?" held out his left hand towardsherexpecting that she would be quite confounded atthehonour. Miss Sharpput out her right forefingerand gave hima littlenodso cool and killingthat Rawdon Crawleywatchingthe operations from the other roomcouldhardlyrestrain his laughter as he saw the Lieutenant'sentirediscomfiture; the start he gavethe pauseand theperfectclumsiness with which he at length condescendedto takethe finger which was offered for his embrace. "She'dbeat the devilby Jove!" the Captain saidin arapture;and the Lieutenantby way of beginning theconversationagreeably asked Rebecca how she liked hernew place. "Myplace?" said Miss Sharpcoolly"how kind of youto remindme of it!  It's a tolerably good place: the wagesare prettygood--not so good as Miss Wirt'sI believewith yoursisters in Russell Square.  How are those youngladies?--notthat I ought to ask." "Whynot?" Mr. Osborne saidamazed. "Whythey never condescended to speak to meor toask meinto their housewhilst I was staying with Amelia;but wepoor governessesyou knoware used to slights ofthissort." "Mydear Miss Sharp!" Osborne ejaculated. "Atleast in some families" Rebecca continued.  "Youcan'tthink what a difference there is though.  We are notso wealthyin Hampshire as you lucky folks of the City.But then Iam in a gentleman's family--good oldEnglishstock.  I suppose you know Sir Pitt's father refused apeerage. And you see how I am treated.  I am prettycomfortable. Indeed it is rather a good place.  But howvery goodof you to inquire!" Osbornewas quite savage.  The little governesspatronisedhim and persiffled him until this youngBritishLion felt quite uneasy; nor could he muster sufficientpresenceof mind to find a pretext for backing outof thismost delectable conversation.  "Ithought you liked the City families pretty well" hesaidhaughtily.  "Lastyear you meanwhen I was fresh from thathorridvulgar school?  Of course I did.  Doesn't every girl liketo comehome for the holidays?  And how was I to knowanybetter?  But ohMr. Osbornewhat a differenceeighteenmonths' experience makes! eighteen months spentpardon mefor saying sowith gentlemen.  As for dearAmeliasheI grant youis a pearland would be charming anywhere. There nowI see you are beginning to bein a goodhumour; but oh these queer odd City people!And Mr.Jos--how is that wonderful Mr. Joseph?"  "Itseems to me you didn't dislike that wonderful Mr.Josephlast year" Osborne said kindly.  "Howsevere of you!  Wellentre nousI didn't breakmy heartabout him; yet if he had asked me to do whatyou meanby your looks (and very expressive and kindthey aretoo)I wouldn't have said no."  Mr.Osborne gave a look as much as to say"Indeedhow veryobliging!"  "Whatan honour to have had you for a brother-in-lawyou arethinking? To be sister-in-law to GeorgeOsborneEsquireson of John OsborneEsquireson of--what wasyour grandpapaMr. Osborne?  Welldon't beangry. You can't help your pedigreeand I quite agreewith youthat I would have married Mr. Joe Sedley; forcould apoor penniless girl do better?  Now you knowthe wholesecret.  I'm frank and open; considering allthingsitwas very kind of you to allude to thecircumstance--verykind and polite.  Amelia dearMr.Osborneand I were talking about your poor brother Joseph.How ishe?"  Thus wasGeorge utterly routed.  Not that Rebecca wasin theright; but she had managed most successfully toput him inthe wrong.  And he now shamefully fledfeelingif he stayed another minutethat he would havebeen madeto look foolish in the presence of Amelia.  ThoughRebecca had had the better of himGeorge wasabove themeanness of talebearing or revenge upon alady--onlyhe could not help cleverly confiding toCaptainCrawleynext daysome notions of his regardingMissRebecca--that she was a sharp onea dangerousoneadesperate flirt&c.; in all of which opinionsCrawleyagreed laughinglyand with every one of which MissRebeccawas made acquainted before twenty-four hourswereover.  They added to her original regard for Mr.Osborne. Her woman's instinct had told her that it wasGeorge whohad interrupted the success of her firstlove-passageand she esteemed him accordingly. "Ionly just warn you" he said to Rawdon Crawleywith aknowing look--he had bought the horseand lostsome scoreof guineas after dinner"I just warn you--Iknowwomenand counsel you to be on the look-out." "Thankyoumy boy" said Crawleywith a look ofpeculiargratitude.  "You're wide awakeI see." AndGeorgewent offthinking Crawley was quite right. He toldAmelia of what he had doneand how he hadcounselledRawdon Crawley--a devilish goodstraightforwardfellow--to be on his guard against thatlittleslyscheming Rebecca. "Againstwhom?" Amelia cried. "Yourfriend the governess.--Don't look so astonished." "OGeorgewhat have you done?" Amelia said.  For herwoman'seyeswhich Love had made sharp-sightedhadin oneinstant discovered a secret which was invisible toMissCrawleyto poor virgin Briggsand above allto thestupid peepers of that young whiskered prigLieutenantOsborne. For asRebecca was shawling her in an upper apartmentwherethese two friends had an opportunity for alittle ofthat secret talking and conspiring which formthedelight of female lifeAmeliacoming up to Rebeccaand takingher two little hands in herssaid"RebeccaI see itall."

 

Rebeccakissed her. Andregarding this delightful secretnot one syllablemore wassaid by either of the young women.  But it wasdestinedto come out before long. Some shortperiod after the above eventsand MissRebeccaSharp still remaining at her patroness's housein ParkLaneone more hatchment might have been seenin GreatGaunt Streetfiguring amongst the many whichusuallyornament that dismal quarter.  It was over SirPittCrawley's house; but it did not indicate the worthybaronet'sdemise.  It was a feminine hatchmentandindeed afew years back had served as a funeral complimentto SirPitt's old motherthe late dowager Lady Crawley.Its periodof service overthe hatchment had comedown fromthe front of the houseand lived in retirementsomewherein the back premises of Sir Pitt's mansion.Itreappeared now for poor Rose Dawson.  Sir Pittwas awidower again.  The arms quartered on the shieldalong withhis own were notto be surepoor Rose's.She had noarms.  But the cherubs painted on thescutcheonanswered as well for her as for Sir Pitt'smotherand Resurgam was written under the coatflanked bythe Crawley Dove and Serpent.  Arms andHatchmentsResurgam.--Here is an opportunity formoralising! Mr.Crawley had tended that otherwise friendlessbedside. She went out of the world strengthened by suchwords andcomfort as he could give her.  For many yearshis wasthe only kindness she ever knew; the onlyfriendshipthat solaced in any way that feeblelonely soul.Her heartwas dead long before her body.  She had soldit tobecome Sir Pitt Crawley's wife.  Mothers anddaughtersare making the same bargain every day inVanityFair. When thedemise took placeher husband was inLondonattending to some of his innumerable schemesand busywith his endless lawyers.  He had found timeneverthelessto call often in Park Laneand to despatchmany notesto Rebeccaentreating herenjoining hercommandingher to return to her young pupils in thecountrywho were now utterly without companionshipduringtheir mother's illness.  But Miss Crawley wouldnot hearof her departure; for though there was no ladyof fashionin London who would desert her friends morecomplacentlyas soon as she was tired of their societyand thoughfew tired of them sooneryet as long as herengoumentlasted her attachment was prodigiousandshe clungstill with the greatest energy to Rebecca.

 

The newsof Lady Crawley's death provoked no moregrief orcomment than might have been expected in MissCrawley'sfamily circle.  "I suppose I must put off myparty forthe 3rd" Miss Crawley said; and addedafter apause"Ihope my brother will have the decency not tomarryagain." "What a confounded rage Pitt will be in ifhe does"Rawdon remarkedwith his usual regard for hiselderbrother.  Rebecca said nothing.  She seemed by far thegravestand most impressed of the family.  She left theroombefore Rawdon went away that day; but they metby chancebelowas he was going away after taking leaveand had aparley together. On themorrowas Rebecca was gazing from the windowshestartled Miss Crawleywho was placidly occupiedwith aFrench novelby crying out in an alarmedtone"Here's Sir PittMa'am!" and the Baronet's knockfollowedthis announcement. "MydearI can't see him.  I won't see him.  Tell Bowlsnot athomeor go downstairs and say I'm too ill toreceiveany one.  My nerves really won't bear my brotherat thismoment" cried out Miss Crawleyand resumedthe novel. "She'stoo ill to see yousir" Rebecca saidtrippingdown toSir Pittwho was preparing to ascend. "Somuch the better" Sir Pitt answered.  "I want tosee YOUMiss Becky.  Come along a me into the parlour"and theyentered that apartment together. "Iwawnt you back at Queen's CrawleyMiss" thebaronetsaidfixing his eyes upon herand taking off hisblackgloves and his hat with its great crape hat-band.His eyeshad such a strange lookand fixed upon her sosteadfastlythat Rebecca Sharp began almost to tremble. "Ihope to come soon" she said in a low voice"assoon asMiss Crawley is better--and return to--to thedearchildren."  "You'vesaid so these three monthsBecky" repliedSir Pitt"and still you go hanging on to my sisterwho'llfling youoff like an old shoewhen she's wore you out.I tell youI want you.  I'm going back to the Vuneral.Will youcome back?  Yes or no?"

 

"Idaren't--I don't think--it would be right--to bealone--withyousir" Becky saidseemingly in greatagitation. "Isay aginI want you" Sir Pitt saidthumping thetable. "I can't git on without you.  I didn't see what it wastill youwent away.  The house all goes wrong.  It's notthe sameplace.  All my accounts has got muddled agin.You MUSTcome back.  Do come back.  Dear Beckydocome." "Come--aswhatsir?" Rebecca gasped out. "Comeas Lady Crawleyif you like" the Baronetsaidgrasping his crape hat.  "There! will that zatusfy you?Come backand be my wife.  Your vit vor't.  Birth behanged. You're as good a lady as ever I see.  You've gotmorebrains in your little vinger than any baronet's wifein thecounty.  Will you come? Yes or no?" "OhSir Pitt!" Rebecca saidvery much moved. "SayyesBecky" Sir Pitt continued.  "I'm an old manbut agood'n.  I'm good for twenty years.  I'll make youhappyzeeif I don't.  You shall do what you like; spendwhat youlike; and 'ave it all your own way.  I'll makeyou azettlement.  I'll do everything reglar.  Look year!"and theold man fell down on his knees and leered ather like asatyr. Rebeccastarted back a picture of consternation.  Inthe courseof this history we have never seen her lose herpresenceof mind; but she did nowand wept some of themostgenuine tears that ever fell from her eyes. "OhSir Pitt!" she said.  "Ohsir--I--I'm marriedALREADY."

 

 

 

 

CHAPTER XVInWhich Rebecca's Husband Appearsfor aShort Time

 

Everyreader of a sentimental turn (and we desireno other)must have been pleased with thetableauwith which the last act of our littledramaconcluded; for what can be prettier thanan imageof Love on his knees before Beauty?              But whenLove heard that awful confession fromBeautythat she was married alreadyhebounced upfrom his attitude of humility on the carpetutteringexclamations which caused poor little Beauty tobe morefrightened than she was when she made heravowal. "Married; you're joking" the Baronet criedafterthe firstexplosion of rage and wonder.  "You'remaking vunof meBecky.  Who'd ever go to marry youwithout ashilling to your vortune?" "Married!married!" Rebecca saidin an agony of tears--hervoice choking with emotionher handkerchief upto herready eyesfainting against the mantelpiece afigure ofwoe fit to melt the most obdurate heart.  "0Sir Pittdear Sir Pittdo not think me ungrateful for allyourgoodness to me.  It is only your generosity that hasextortedmy secret."

 

"Generositybe hanged!" Sir Pitt roared out.  "Who isit tuthenyou're married? Where was it?"  "Letme come back with you to the countrysir!  Letme watchover you as faithfully as ever!  Don'tdon'tseparateme from dear Queen's Crawley!"  "Thefeller has left youhas he?" the Baronet saidbeginningas he fanciedto comprehend.  "WellBecky--come backif you like.  You can't eat your cake and haveit. Any ways I made you a vair offer.  Coom back asgoverness--youshall have it all your own way." Sheheld outone hand.  She cried fit to break her heart; herringletsfell over her faceand over the marblemantelpiecewhere she laid it.  "Sothe rascal ran offeh?"  Sir Pitt saidwith a hideousattempt atconsolation.  "Never mindBeckyI'LL takecare of'ee."  "Ohsir! it would be the pride of my life to go backto Queen'sCrawleyand take care of the childrenandof you asformerlywhen you said you were pleased withtheservices of your little Rebecca.  When I think of whatyou havejust offered memy heart fills with gratitudeindeed itdoes.  I can't be your wifesir; let me--let me beyourdaughter." SayingwhichRebecca went down on HER knees in amosttragical wayandtaking Sir Pitt's horny blackhandbetween her own two (which were very pretty andwhiteandas soft as satin)looked up in his face with anexpressionof exquisite pathos and confidencewhen--when thedoor openedand Miss Crawley sailed in. Mrs.Firkin and Miss Briggswho happened by chanceto be atthe parlour door soon after the Baronet andRebeccaentered the apartmenthad also seen accidentallythroughthe keyholethe old gentleman prostratebefore thegovernessand had heard the generous proposalwhich hemade her.  It was scarcely out of his mouthwhen Mrs.Firkin and Miss Briggs had streamed up thestairshad rushed into the drawing-room where MissCrawleywas reading the French noveland had giventhat oldlady the astounding intelligence that Sir Pittwas on hiskneesproposing to Miss Sharp.  And if youcalculatethe time for the above dialogue to take place--the timefor Briggs and Firkin to fly to the drawing-room--thetime for Miss Crawley to be astonishedandto dropher volume of Pigault le Brun--and the time forher tocome downstairs--you will see how exactlyaccuratethis history isand how Miss Crawley must haveappearedat the very instant when Rebecca had assumedtheattitude of humility. "Itis the lady on the groundand not the gentleman"MissCrawley saidwith a look and voice of great scorn."Theytold me that YOU were on your kneesSir Pitt: dokneel oncemoreand let me see this pretty couple!" "Ihave thanked Sir Pitt CrawleyMa'am" Rebeccasaidrising"and have told him that--that I never canbecomeLady Crawley." "Refusedhim!"  Miss Crawley saidmore bewilderedthanever.  Briggs and Firkin at the door opened the eyesofastonishment and the lips of wonder. "Yes--refused"Rebecca continuedwith a sadtearfulvoice. "Andam I to credit my ears that you absolutelyproposedto herSir Pitt?" the old lady asked. "Ees"said the Baronet"I did." "Andshe refused you as she says?" "Ees"Sir Pitt saidhis features on a broad grin. "Itdoes not seem to break your heart at any rate"MissCrawley remarked. "Nawta bit" answered Sir Pittwith a coolness andgood-humourwhich set Miss Crawley almost mad withbewilderment. That an old gentleman of station shouldfall onhis knees to a penniless governessand burst outlaughingbecause she refused to marry him--that apennilessgoverness should refuse a Baronet with fourthousand ayear--these were mysteries which Miss Crawleycouldnever comprehend.  It surpassed any complicationsofintrigue in her favourite Pigault le Brun. "I'mglad you think it good sportbrother" shecontinuedgroping wildly through this amazement. "Vamous"said Sir Pitt.  "Who'd ha' thought it! what asly littledevil! what a little fox it waws!" he mutteredtohimselfchuckling with pleasure. "Who'dhave thought what?" cries Miss Crawleystampingwith her foot.  "PrayMiss Sharpare youwaitingfor the Prince Regent's divorcethat you don't thinkour familygood enough for you?" "Myattitude" Rebecca said"when you came inma'amdidnot look as if I despised such an honour asthisgood--this noble man has deigned to offer me.  Doyou thinkI have no heart?  Have you all loved meandbeen sokind to the poor orphan--deserted--girlandam I tofeel nothing?  O my friends!  O my benefactors!may not mylovemy lifemy dutytry to repay theconfidenceyou have shown me?  Do you grudge me evengratitudeMiss Crawley?  It is too much--my heart istoo full";and she sank down in a chair so patheticallythat mostof the audience present were perfectly meltedwith hersadness. "Whetheryou marry me or notyou're a good littlegirlBeckyand I'm your vriendmind" said Sir Pittandputting onhis crape-bound hathe walked away--greatlytoRebecca's relief; for it was evident that her secretwasunrevealed to Miss Crawleyand she had theadvantageof a brief reprieve. Puttingher handkerchief to her eyesand noddingawayhonest Briggswho would have followed herupstairsshe went up to her apartment; while Briggs andMissCrawleyin a high state of excitementremainedto discussthe strange eventand Firkinnot less moveddived downinto the kitchen regionsand talked of itwith allthe male and female company there.  And soimpressedwas Mrs. Firkin with the newsthat she thoughtproper towrite off by that very night's post"with herhumbleduty to Mrs. Bute Crawley and the family at theRectoryand Sir Pitt has been and proposed for to marryMissSharpwherein she has refused himto the wonderof all." The twoladies in the dining-room (where worthyMissBriggs was delighted to be admitted once more toconfidentialconversation with her patroness) wonderedto theirhearts' content at Sir Pitt's offerand Rebecca'srefusal;Briggs very acutely suggesting that there musthave beensome obstacle in the shape of a previousattachmentotherwise no young woman in her senses wouldever haverefused so advantageous a proposal.

 

"Youwould have accepted it yourselfwouldn't youBriggs?"Miss Crawley saidkindly. "Wouldit not be a privilege to be Miss Crawley'ssister?"Briggs repliedwith meek evasion. "WellBecky would have made a good Lady Crawleyafterall" Miss Crawley remarked (who was mollified bythe girl'srefusaland very liberal and generous now therewas nocall for her sacrifices).  "She has brains in plenty(much morewit in her little finger than you havemypoor dearBriggsin all your head).  Her manners areexcellentnow I have formed her.  She is a MontmorencyBriggsand blood is somethingthough I despise it formy part;and she would have held her own amongst thosepompousstupid Hampshire people much better than thatunfortunateironmonger's daughter." Briggscoincided as usualand the "previous attachment"was thendiscussed in conjectures.  "You poorfriendlesscreatures are always having some foolishtendre"Miss Crawley said.  "You yourselfyou knowwere inlove with a writing-master (don't cryBriggs--you'realways cryingand it won't bring him to life again)and Isuppose this unfortunate Becky has been sillyandsentimental too--some apothecaryor house-stewardorpainteror young curateor something of that sort." "Poorthing! poor thing!" says Briggs (who was thinkingoftwenty-four years backand that hectic youngwriting-masterwhose lock of yellow hairand whoselettersbeautiful in their illegibilityshe cherished inher olddesk upstairs).  "Poor thingpoor thing!" saysBriggs. Once more she was a fresh-cheeked lass of eighteen;she was atevening churchand the hectic writing-masterand shewere quavering out of the same psalm-book. "Aftersuch conduct on Rebecca's part" Miss Crawleysaidenthusiastically"our family should do something.Find outwho is the objetBriggs.  I'll set him up in ashop; ororder my portrait of himyou know; or speakto mycousinthe Bishop
and I'll doter Beckyandwe'll havea weddingBriggsand you shall make thebreakfastand be a bridesmaid."

 

Briggsdeclared that it would be delightfuland vowedthat herdear Miss Crawley was always kind and generousand wentup to Rebecca's bedroom to console herandprattle about the offerand the refusaland thecausethereof; and to hint at the generous intentions ofMissCrawleyand to find out who was the gentlemanthat hadthe mastery of Miss Sharp's heart. Rebeccawas very kindvery affectionate and affected--respondedto Briggs's offer of tenderness with gratefulfervour--ownedthere was a secret attachment--adeliciousmystery--what a pity Miss Briggs had notremainedhalf a minute longer at the keyhole!  Rebeccamightperhapshave told more: but five minutes afterMissBriggs's arrival in Rebecca's apartmentMiss Crawleyactuallymade her appearance there--an unheard-ofhonour--herimpatience had overcome her; she could notwait forthe tardy operations of her ambassadress: soshe camein personand ordered Briggs out of the room.Andexpressing her approval of Rebecca's conductsheaskedparticulars of the interviewand the previoustransactionswhich had brought about the astonishingoffer ofSir Pitt. Rebeccasaid she had long had some notion of thepartialitywith which Sir Pitt honoured her (for he wasin thehabit of making his feelings known in a very frankandunreserved manner) butnot to mention privatereasonswith which she would not for the present troubleMissCrawleySir Pitt's agestationand habits weresuch as torender a marriage quite impossible; andcould awoman with any feeling of self-respect and anydecencylisten to proposals at such a momentwhenthefuneral of the lover's deceased wife had not actuallytakenplace?  "Nonsensemy dearyou would never have refusedhim hadthere not been some one else in the case" MissCrawleysaidcoming to her point at once.  "Tell me theprivatereasons; what are the private reasons?  There issome one;who is it that has touched your heart?" Rebeccacast down her eyesand owned there was."Youhave guessed rightdear lady" she saidwith asweetsimple faltering voice.  "You wonder at one sopoor andfriendless having an attachmentdon't you?I havenever heard that poverty was any safeguardagainstit.  I wish it were." "Mypoor dear child" cried Miss Crawleywho wasalwaysquite ready to be sentimental"is our passionunrequitedthen?  Are we pining in secret? Tell me alland let meconsole you." "Iwish you coulddear Madam" Rebecca said in thesametearful tone.  "IndeedindeedI need it." And shelaid herhead upon Miss Crawley's shoulder and weptthere sonaturally that the old ladysurprised intosympathyembraced her with an almost maternalkindnessuttered many soothing protests of regard andaffectionfor hervowed that she loved her as a daughterand woulddo everything in her power to serve her.  "Andnow who isitmy dear?  Is it that pretty Miss Sedley'sbrother? You said something about an affair with him.I'll askhim heremy dear.  And you shall have him:indeed youshall." "Don'task me now" Rebecca said.  "You shall knowall soon. Indeed you shall.  Dear kind Miss Crawley--dearfriendmay I say so?" "Thatyou maymy child" the old lady repliedkissingher. "Ican't tell you now" sobbed out Rebecca"I amverymiserable.  But O! love me always--promise you willlove mealways." And in the midst of mutual tears--fortheemotions of the younger woman had awakened thesympathiesof the elder--this promise was solemnly givenby MissCrawleywho left her little protegeblessingandadmiring her as a dearartlesstender-heartedaffectionateincomprehensible creature. And nowshe was left alone to think over the suddenandwonderful events of the dayand of what had beenand whatmight have been.  What think you were theprivatefeelings of Missno (begging her pardon) ofMrs.Rebecca?  Ifa few pages backthe present writerclaimedthe privilege of peeping into Miss AmeliaSedley'sbedroomand understanding with the omniscienceof thenovelist all the gentle pains and passions whichweretossing upon that innocent pillowwhy should henotdeclare himself to be Rebecca's confidante toomaster ofher secretsand seal-keeper of that youngwoman'sconscience? Wellthenin the first placeRebecca gave way tosome verysincere and touching regrets that a piece ofmarvellousgood fortune should have been so near herand sheactually obliged to decline it.  In this naturalemotionevery properly regulated mind will certainlyshare. What good mother is there that would notcommiseratea penniless spinsterwho might have beenmy ladyand have shared four thousand a year?  Whatwell-bredyoung person is there in all Vanity Fairwhowill notfeel for a hard-workingingeniousmeritoriousgirlwhogets such an honourableadvantageousprovokingofferjust at the very moment when it is out of herpower toaccept it?  I am sure our friend Becky'sdisappointmentdeserves and will command everysympathy. I rememberone night being in the Fair myselfat aneveningparty.  I observed old Miss Toady there alsopresentsingle out for her special attentions and flatterylittleMrs. Brieflessthe barrister's wifewho is of agoodfamily certainlybutas we all knowis as pooras poorcan be. WhatIasked in my own mindcan cause thisobsequiousnesson the part of Miss Toady; has Brieflessgot acounty courtor has his wife had a fortune left her?Miss Toadyexplained presentlywith that simplicitywhichdistinguishes all her conduct.  "You know" shesaid"Mrs.Briefless is granddaughter of Sir John Redhandwho is soill at Cheltenham that he can't last sixmonths. Mrs.  Briefless's papa succeeds; so you see shewill be abaronet's daughter." And Toady asked Brieflessand hiswife to dinner the very next week. If themere chance of becoming a baronet's daughtercanprocure a lady such homage in the worldsurelysurely wemay respect the agonies of a young womanwho haslost the opportunity of becoming a baronet'swife. Who would have dreamed of Lady Crawley dyingso soon? She was one of those sickly women thatmight havelasted these ten years--Rebecca thought toherselfin all the woes of repentance--and I might havebeen mylady!  I might have led that old man whither Iwould. I might have thanked Mrs. Bute for herpatronageand Mr. Pitt for his insufferable condescension.  Iwould havehad the town-house newly furnished anddecorated. I would have had the handsomest carriage inLondonand a box at the opera; and I would havebeenpresented next season.  All this might have been;andnow--now all was doubt and mystery. ButRebecca was a young lady of too much resolutionand energyof character to permit herself much uselessandunseemly sorrow for the irrevocable past; sohavingdevotedonly the proper portion of regret to itshe wiselyturned herwhole attention towards the futurewhichwas nowvastly more important to her.  And shesurveyedher positionand its hopesdoubtsand chances. In thefirst placeshe was MARRIED--that was a greatfact. Sir Pitt knew it.  She was not so much surprised intotheavowalas induced to make it by a sudden calculation.It musthave come some day: and why not nowas at alater period? He who would have married herhimselfmust at least be silent with regard to her marriage.How MissCrawley would bear the news--was the greatquestion. Misgivings Rebecca had; but she rememberedall MissCrawley had said; the old lady's avowedcontemptfor birth; her daring liberal opinions; hergeneralromantic propensities; her almost doting attachmentto hernephewand her repeatedly expressed fondness forRebeccaherself.  She is so fond of himRebecca thoughtthat shewill forgive him anything: she is so used to methat Idon't think she could be comfortable withoutme: whenthe eclaircissement comes there will be asceneandhystericsand a great quarreland then agreatreconciliation.  At all eventswhat use was thereindelaying? the die was thrownand now or to-morrowthe issuemust be the same.  And soresolved that MissCrawleyshould have the newsthe young persondebated inher mind as to the best means of conveying itto her;and whether she should face the storm that mustcomeorfly and avoid it until its first fury was blownover. In this state of meditation she wrote the followingletter:

 

DearestFriend

 

The greatcrisis which we have debatedabout sooften is COME.  Half of my secret is knownandI havethought and thoughtuntil I am quite sure thatnow is thetime to reveal THE WHOLE OF THE MYSTERY.  SirPitt cameto me this morningand made--what do youthink?--ADECLARATION IN FORM.  Think of that!  Poorlittleme.  I might have been Lady Crawley.  How pleasedMrs. Butewould have been: and ma tante if I had takenprecedenceof her! I might have been somebody'smammainstead of--OI trembleI tremblewhen Ithink howsoon we must tell all! Sir Pittknows I am marriedand not knowing towhomisnot very much displeased as yet.  Ma tante isACTUALLYANGRY that I should have refused him.  But sheis allkindness and graciousness.  She condescends to sayI wouldhave made him a good wife; and vows thatshe willbe a mother to your little Rebecca.  She will beshakenwhen she first hears the news.  But need we fearanythingbeyond a momentary anger?  I think not: I AMSURE not. She dotes upon you so (you naughtygood-for-nothingman)that she would pardon you ANYTHING:andindeedI believethe next place in her heart ismine: andthat she would be miserable without me.Dearest!something TELLS ME we shall conquer.  You shallleave thatodious regiment: quit gamingracingand BEA GOODBOY; and we shall all live in Park Laneand matanteshall leave us all her money. I shalltry and walk to-morrow at 3 in the usual place.If Miss B.accompanies meyou must come to dinnerand bringan answerand put it in the third volume ofPorteus'sSermons.  Butat all eventscome to your own

 

R.

 

To MissEliza StylesAt Mr.Barnet'sSaddlerKnightsbridge.

 

And Itrust there is no reader of this little story whohas notdiscernment enough to perceive that the MissElizaStyles (an old schoolfellowRebecca saidwithwhom shehad resumed an active correspondence of lateand whoused to fetch these letters from the saddler's)wore brassspursand large curling mustachiosand wasindeed noother than Captain Rawdon Crawley.

 

 

 

 

CHAPTERXVITheLetter on the Pincushion

 

How theywere married is not of the slightestconsequenceto anybody.  What is to hinder a Captain whois amajorand a young lady who is of agefrom purchasinga licenceand uniting themselves at any church in thistown? Who needs to be toldthat if a woman has a willshe willassuredly find a way?--My belief is that onedaywhenMiss Sharp had gone to pass the forenoonwith herdear friend Miss Amelia Sedley in RussellSquarealady very like her might have been seenentering achurch in the Cityin company with a gentlemanwith dyedmustachioswhoafter a quarter of an hour'sintervalescorted her back to the hackney-coach inwaitingand that this was a quiet bridal party. And who onearthafter the daily experience we havecanquestion the probability of a gentleman marryinganybody?How many of the wise and learned havemarriedtheir cooks?  Did not Lord Eldon himselfthemostprudent of menmake a runaway match? Were notAchillesand Ajax both in love with their servant maids?And are weto expect a heavy dragoon with strongdesiresand small brainswho had never controlled apassion inhis lifeto become prudent all of a suddenand torefuse to pay any price for an indulgence towhich hehad a mind?  If people only made prudentmarriageswhat a stop to population there would be! It seemsto mefor my partthat Mr. Rawdon's marriagewas one ofthe honestest actions which we shall have torecord inany portion of that gentleman's biography whichhas to dowith the present history.  No one will say it isunmanly tobe captivated by a womanorbeingcaptivatedto marry her; and the admirationthe delightthepassionthe wonderthe unbounded confidenceand franticadorationwith whichby degreesthis big warrior gotto regardthe little Rebeccawere feelings which the ladiesat leastwill pronounce were not altogether discreditableto him. When she sangevery note thrilled in his dullsoulandtingled through his huge frame.  When she spokehe broughtall the force of his brains to listen and wonder.If she wasjocularhe used to revolve her jokes in hismindandexplode over them half an hour afterwards inthestreetto the surprise of the groom in the tilbury byhis sideor the comrade riding with him in Rotten Row.Her wordswere oracles to himher smallest actionsmarked byan infallible grace and wisdom.  "How shesings--howshe paints" thought he.  "How she rode thatkickingmare at Queen's Crawley!"  And he would say toher inconfidential moments"By JoveBeckyou're fitto beCommander-in-Chiefor Archbishop of Canterburyby Jove." Is his case a rare one? and don't we see everyday in theworld many an honest Hercules at theapron-stringsof Omphaleand great whiskered Samsonsprostratein Delilah's lap? WhenthenBecky told him that the great crisis wasnearandthe time for action had arrivedRawdonexpressedhimself as ready to act under her ordersas hewould beto charge with his troop at the command of hiscolonel. There was no need for him to put his letter intothe thirdvolume of Porteus.  Rebecca easily found ameans toget rid of Briggsher companionand met herfaithfulfriend in "the usual place" on the next day.  Shehadthought over matters at nightand communicated toRawdon theresult of her determinations.  He agreedofcoursetoeverything; was quite sure that it was allright:that what she proposed was best; that Miss Crawleywouldinfallibly relentor "come round" as he saidaftera time. Had Rebecca's resolutions been entirely differenthe wouldhave followed them as implicitly.  "You haveheadenough for both of usBeck" said he.  "You're sureto get usout of the scrape.  I never saw your equalandI've metwith some clippers in my time too." And withthissimple confession of faiththe love-stricken dragoonleft herto execute his part of the project which she hadformed forthe pair. Itconsisted simply in the hiring of quiet lodgings atBromptonor in the neighbourhood of the barracksforCaptainand Mrs. Crawley.  For Rebecca had determinedand veryprudentlywe thinkto fly.  Rawdon wasonly toohappy at her resolve; he had been entreatingher totake this measure any time for weeks past.  Heprancedoff to engage the lodgings with all the impetuosityof love. He agreed to pay two guineas a week so readilythat thelandlady regretted she had asked him so little.He orderedin a pianoand half a nursery-house full offlowers:and a heap of good things.  As for shawlskidglovessilk stockingsgold French watchesbracelets andperfumeryhe sent them in with the profusion of blindlove andunbounded credit.  And having relieved his mindby thisoutpouring of generosityhe went and dinednervouslyat the clubwaiting until the great moment of hislifeshould come.

 

  Theoccurrences of the previous day; the admirableconduct ofRebecca in refusing an offer so advantageousto herthe secret unhappiness preying upon herthesweetnessand silence with which she bore her afflictionmade MissCrawley much more tender than usual.  Anevent ofthis naturea marriageor a refusalor aproposalthrills through a whole household of womenandsets alltheir hysterical sympathies at work.  As anobserverof human natureI regularly frequent St. George'sHanoverSquareduring the genteel marriage season; andthough Ihave never seen the bridegroom's male friendsgive wayto tearsor the beadles and officiating clergyany wayaffectedyet it is not at all uncommon to seewomen whoare not in the least concerned in theoperationsgoing on--old ladies who are long past marryingstoutmiddle-aged females with plenty of sons and daughterslet alonepretty young creatures in pink bonnetswhoare ontheir promotionand may naturally take aninterestin the ceremony--I say it is quite common to seethe womenpresent pipingsobbingsniffling; hiding theirlittlefaces in their little useless pocket-handkerchiefs;andheavingold and youngwith emotion.  When myfriendthe fashionable John Pimlicomarried the lovelyLadyBelgravia Green Parkerthe excitement was sogeneralthat even the little snuffy old pew-opener who let meinto theseat was in tears.  And wherefore? I inquired ofmy ownsoul: she was not going to be married. MissCrawley and Briggs in a wordafter the affair ofSir Pittindulged in the utmost luxury of sentimentandRebeccabecame an object of the most tender interest tothem. In her absence Miss Crawley solaced herself withthe mostsentimental of the novels in her library.  LittleSharpwith her secret griefswas the heroine of the day. That nightRebecca sang more sweetly and talked morepleasantlythan she had ever been heard to do in ParkLane. She twined herself round the heart of Miss Crawley.She spokelightly and laughingly of Sir Pitt's proposalridiculedit as the foolish fancy of an old man; and hereyesfilled with tearsand Briggs's heart with unutterablepangs ofdefeatas she said she desired no other lot thanto remainfor ever with her dear benefactress.  "My dearlittlecreature" the old lady said"I don't intend to letyou stirfor yearsthat you may depend upon it.  As forgoing backto that odious brother of mine after whathaspassedit is out of the question.  Here you stay with meandBriggs.  Briggs wants to go to see her relations veryoften. Briggsyou may go when you like.  But as for youmy dearyou must stay and take care of the old woman." If RawdonCrawley had been then and there presentinstead ofbeing at the club nervously drinking claretthepair mighthave gone down on their knees before the oldspinsteravowed alland been forgiven in a twinkling.But thatgood chance was denied to the young coupledoubtlessin order that this story might be writteninwhichnumbers of their wonderful adventures are narrated--adventureswhich could never have occurred to themif theyhad been housed and sheltered under thecomfortableuninteresting forgiveness of Miss Crawley.

 

Under Mrs.Firkin's ordersin the Park Lane establishmentwas ayoung woman from Hampshirewhose business it wasamongother dutiesto knock at Miss Sharp's door withthat jugof hot water which Firkin would rather haveperishedthan have presented to the intruder.  Thisgirlbredon the family estatehad a brother in CaptainCrawley'stroopand if the truth were knownI daresayit wouldcome out that she was aware of certain arrangementswhich havea great deal to do with this history.At anyrate she purchased a yellow shawla pair of greenbootsanda light blue hat with a red feather with threeguineaswhich Rebecca gave herand as little Sharp wasby nomeans too liberal with her moneyno doubt itwas forservices rendered that Betty Martin was so bribed. On thesecond day after Sir Pitt Crawley's offer toMissSharpthe sun rose as usualand at the usual hourBettyMartinthe upstairs maidknocked at the door ofthegoverness's bedchamber. No answerwas returnedand she knocked again.  Silencewas stilluninterrupted; and Bettywith the hot wateropened thedoor and entered the chamber. The littlewhite dimity bed was as smooth and trim ason the daypreviouswhen Betty's own hands had helpedto makeit.  Two little trunks were corded in one end ofthe room;and on the table before the window--on thepincushion
thegreat fat pincushion lined with pinkinsideand twilled like a lady's nightcap--lay a letter.  Ithad beenreposing there probably all night. Bettyadvanced towards it on tiptoeas if she wereafraid toawake it--looked at itand round the roomwith anair of great wonder and satisfaction; took up theletterand grinned intensely as she turned it round andoverandfinally carried it into Miss Briggs's roombelow. How couldBetty tell that the letter was for Miss BriggsI shouldlike to know?  All the schooling Betty had hadwas atMrs. Bute Crawley's Sunday schooland she couldno moreread writing than Hebrew. "LaMiss Briggs" the girl exclaimed"OMisssomethingmust have happened--there's nobody in MissSharp'sroom; the bed ain't been slep inand she've runawayandleft this letter for youMiss." "WHAT!"cries Briggsdropping her combthe thin wispof fadedhair falling over her shoulders; "an elopement!Miss Sharpa fugitive!  Whatwhat is this?" and she eagerlybroke theneat sealandas they say"devoured thecontents"of the letter addressed to her.

 

Dear MissBriggs [the refugee wrote]the kindestheart inthe worldas yours iswill pity and sympathisewith meand excuse me.  With tearsand prayersandblessingsI leave the home where the poor orphan hasever metwith kindness and affection.  Claims evensuperiorto those of my benefactress call me hence.  I go tomyduty--to my HUSBAND.  YesI am married.  MyhusbandCOMMANDS me to seek the HUMBLE HOME whichwe callours.  Dearest Miss Briggsbreak the news as yourdelicatesympathy will know how to do it--to my dearmy belovedfriend and benefactress.  Tell herere I wentI shedtears on her dear pillow--that pillow that I haveso oftensoothed in sickness--that I long AGAIN to watch--Ohwithwhat joy shall I return to dear Park Lane!How Itremble for the answer which is to SEAL MY FATE!When SirPitt deigned to offer me his handan honourof whichmy beloved Miss Crawley said I was DESERVING(myblessings go with her for judging the poor orphanworthy tobe HER SISTER!) I told Sir Pitt that I was alreadyA WIFE. Even he forgave me.  But my courage failed mewhen Ishould have told him all--that I could not behis wifefor I WAS HIS DAUGHTER!  I am wedded to the bestand mostgenerous of men--Miss Crawley's Rawdon isMYRawdon.  At his COMMAND I open my lipsandfollow himto our humble homeas I would THROUGH THEWORLD. Omy excellent and kind friendintercede withmyRawdon's beloved aunt for him and the poor girl towhom allHIS NOBLE RACE have shown such UNPARALLELEDAFFECTION. Ask Miss Crawley to receive HER CHILDREN.  Ican say nomorebut blessingsblessings on all in thedear houseI leaveprays

 

Youraffectionate and GRATEFULRebeccaCrawley.Midnight.

 

Just asBriggs had finished reading this affecting andinterestingdocumentwhich reinstated her in her positionas firstconfidante of Miss CrawleyMrs. Firkin enteredthe room. "Here's Mrs. Bute Crawley just arrived bythe mailfrom Hampshireand wants some tea; will youcome downand make breakfastMiss?"  And to thesurprise of Firkinclasping her dressing-gownaroundherthe wisp of hair floating dishevelledbehindherthe little curl-papers still sticking in bunchesround herforeheadBriggs sailed down to Mrs. Bute withthe letterin her hand containing the wonderful news.

 

"OhMrs. Firkin" gasped Betty"sech a business.  MissSharp havea gone and run away with the Captingandthey'reoff to Gretney Green!"  We would devote a chaptertodescribe the emotions of Mrs. Firkindid not thepassionsof her mistresses occupy our genteeler muse.

 

When Mrs.Bute Crawleynumbed with midnight travellingandwarming herself at the newly crackling parlourfireheard from Miss Briggs the intelligence of theclandestinemarriageshe declared it was quite providentialthat sheshould have arrived at such a time to assist poordear MissCrawley in supporting the shock--that Rebeccawas anartful little hussy of whom she had alwayshad hersuspicions; and that as for Rawdon Crawleyshenevercould account for his aunt's infatuation regardinghimandhad long considered him a profligatelostandabandoned being.  And this awful conductMrs. Butesaidwillhave at least this good effectit will open poordear MissCrawley's eyes to the real character of thiswickedman.  Then Mrs. Bute had a comfortable hot toastand tea;and as there was a vacant room in the housenowtherewas no need for her to remain at the GlosterCoffeeHouse where the Portsmouth mail had set herdownandwhence she ordered Mr. Bowls's aide-de-campthefootman to bring away her trunks. MissCrawleybe it knowndid not leave her room untilnearnoon--taking chocolate in bed in the morningwhileBeckySharp read the Morning Post to heror otherwiseamusingherself or dawdling.  The conspirators belowagreedthat they would spare the dear lady's feelingsuntil sheappeared in her drawing-room: meanwhile it wasannouncedto her that Mrs. Bute Crawley had come upfromHampshire by the mailwas staying at the Glostersent herlove to Miss Crawleyand asked for breakfastwith MissBriggs.  The arrival of Mrs. Butewhich wouldnot havecaused any extreme delight at another periodwas hailedwith pleasure now; Miss Crawley being pleasedat thenotion of a gossip with her sister-in-law regardingthe lateLady Crawleythe funeral arrangements pendingand SirPitt's abrupt proposal to Rebecca. It was notuntil the old lady was fairly ensconced inher usualarm-chair in the drawing-roomand thepreliminaryembraces and inquiries had taken place betweentheladiesthat the conspirators thought it advisable tosubmit herto the operation.  Who has not admired theartificesand delicate approaches with which women"prepare"their friends for bad news?  Miss Crawley's twofriendsmade such an apparatus of mystery before theybroke theintelligence to herthat they worked her up tothenecessary degree of doubt and alarm. "Andshe refused Sir Pittmy deardear Miss Crawleyprepareyourself for it" Mrs. Bute said"because--becauseshe couldn't help herself." "Ofcourse there was a reason" Miss Crawley answered."Sheliked somebody else.  I told Briggs so yesterday."

 

"LIKESsomebody else!" Briggs gasped.  "O my dearfriendshe is married already." "Marriedalready" Mrs. Bute chimed in; and both satewithclasped hands looking from each other at theirvictim. "Sendher to methe instant she comes in.  The littleslywretch: how dared she not tell me?" cried out MissCrawley. "Shewon't come in soon.  Prepare yourselfdear friend--she'sgone out for a long time--she's--she's gonealtogether." "Graciousgoodnessand who's to make my chocolate?Send forher and have her back; I desire that she comeback"the old lady said. "Shedecamped last nightMa'am" cried Mrs. Bute. "Sheleft a letter for me" Briggs exclaimed.  "She'smarriedto--" "Prepareherfor heaven's sake.  Don't torture hermydear MissBriggs." "She'smarried to whom?" cries the spinster in anervousfury. "To--toa relation of--" "Sherefused Sir Pitt" cried the victim.  "Speak at once.Don'tdrive me mad." "OMa'am--prepare herMiss Briggs--she's marriedto RawdonCrawley." "Rawdonmarried Rebecca--governess--nobod--Get out ofmy houseyou foolyou idiot--you stupid oldBriggs howdare you? You're in the plot--you madehim marrythinking that I'd leave my money from him--you didMartha" the poor old lady screamed in hystericsentences. "IMa'amask a member of this family to marry adrawing-master'sdaughter?" "Hermother was a Montmorency" cried out the oldladypulling at the bell with all her might. "Hermother was an opera girland she has been onthe stageor worse herself" said Mrs. Bute. MissCrawley gave a final screamand fell back in afaint. They were forced to take her back to the roomwhich shehad just quitted.  One fit of hysterics succeededanother. The doctor was sent for--the apothecary arrived.Mrs. Butetook up the post of nurse by her bedside.  "Herrelationsought to be round about her" that amiablewomansaid. She hadscarcely been carried up to her roomwhen anew personarrived to whom it was also necessary to breakthe news. This was Sir Pitt.  "Where's Becky?" he saidcomingin.  "Where's her traps? She's coming with me toQueen'sCrawley." "Haveyou not heard the astonishing intelligenceregardingher surreptitious union?" Briggs asked. "What'sthat to me?" Sir Pitt asked.  "I know she'smarried. That makes no odds.  Tell her to come down atonceandnot keep me." "Areyou not awaresir" Miss Briggs asked"that shehas leftour roofto the dismay of Miss Crawleywho isnearlykilled by the intelligence of Captain Rawdon's unionwith her?" When SirPitt Crawley heard that Rebecca was marriedto hissonhe broke out into a fury of languagewhich itwould dono good to repeat in this placeas indeed itsent poorBriggs shuddering out of the room; and with herwe willshut the door upon the figure of the frenzied oldmanwildwith hatred and insane with baffled desire. One dayafter he went to Queen's Crawleyhe burstlike amadman into the room she had used when there--dashedopen her boxes with his footand flung aboutherpapersclothesand other relics.  Miss Horrocksthebutler'sdaughtertook some of them.  The childrendressedthemselves and acted plays in the others.  It wasbut a fewdays after the poor mother had gone to herlonelyburying-place; and was laidunwept anddisregardedin a vault full of strangers.

 

"Supposethe old lady doesn't come to" Rawdon said tohis littlewifeas they sate together in the snug littleBromptonlodgings.  She had been trying the new pianoall themorning.  The new gloves fitted her to a nicety; thenew shawlsbecame her wonderfully; the new ringsglitteredon her little handsand the new watch ticked at herwaist;"suppose she don't come roundehBecky?" "I'LLmake your fortune" she said; and Delilah pattedSamson'scheek. "Youcan do anything" he saidkissing the little hand."ByJove you can; and we'll drive down to the Star andGarterand dineby Jove."

 

 

 

CHAPTERXVIIHowCaptain Dobbin Bought a Piano

 

If thereis any exhibition in all Vanity Fair which SatireandSentiment can visit arm in arm together; where youlight onthe strangest contrasts laughable and tearful:where youmay be gentle and patheticor savage andcynicalwith perfect propriety: it is at one of those publicassembliesa crowd of which are advertised every day inthe lastpage of the Times newspaperand over whichthe lateMr. George Robins used to preside with so muchdignity. There are very few London peopleas I fancywho havenot attended at these meetingsand all with ataste formoralizing must have thoughtwith a sensationandinterest not a little startling and queerof the daywhen theirturn shall come tooand Mr. Hammerdownwill sellby the orders of Diogenes' assigneesor will beinstructedby the executorsto offer to public competitionthelibraryfurnitureplatewardrobeand choice cellarof winesof Epicurus deceased. Even withthe most selfish dispositionthe Vanity Fairianas hewitnesses this sordid part of the obsequies of adepartedfriendcan't but feel some sympathies and regret.My LordDives's remains are in the family vault: thestatuariesare cutting an inscription veraciouslycommemoratinghis virtuesand the sorrows of his heirwho isdisposing of his goods.  What guest at Dives's tablecan passthe familiar house without a sigh? .--the familiarhouse ofwhich the lights used to shine so cheerfully atseveno'clockof which the hall-doors opened so readilyof whichthe obsequious servantsas you passed up thecomfortablestairsounded your name from landing tolandinguntil it reached the apartment where jolly oldDiveswelcomed his friends!  What a number of them hehad; andwhat a noble way of entertaining them.  Howwittypeople used to be here who were morose when theygot out ofthe door; and how courteous and friendly menwhoslandered and hated each other everywhere else!  Hewaspompousbut with such a cook what would one notswallow?he was rather dullperhapsbut would notsuch winemake any conversation pleasant?  We must getsome ofhis Burgundy at any pricethe mourners cry athis club. "I got this box at old Dives's sale" Pincher sayshanding itround"one of Louis XV's mistresses--prettythingisit not?--sweet miniature" and they talk of theway inwhich young Dives is dissipating his fortune. Howchanged the house isthough!  The front is patchedover withbillssetting forth the particulars of the furniturein staringcapitals.  They have hung a shred of carpet outof anupstairs window--a half dozen of porters are loungingon thedirty steps--the hall swarms with dingy guestsoforiental countenancewho thrust printed cards intoyour handand offer to bid.  Old women and amateurshaveinvaded the upper apartmentspinching the bed-curtainspoking into the feathersshampooing themattressesand clapping the wardrobe drawers to and fro.Enterprisingyoung housekeepers are measuring thelooking-glassesand hangings to see if they will suit the newmenage(Snob will brag for years that he has purchasedthis orthat at Dives's sale)and Mr. Hammerdown issitting onthe great mahogany dining-tablesin the dining-roombelowwaving the ivory hammerand employing alltheartifices of eloquenceenthusiasmentreatyreasondespair;shouting to his people; satirizing Mr. Davids forhissluggishness; inspiriting Mr. Moss into action;imploringcommandingbellowinguntil down comes thehammerlike fateand we pass to the next lot.  O Diveswho wouldever have thoughtas we sat round the broadtablesparkling with plate and spotless linento have seensuch adish at the head of it as that roaring auctioneer? It wasrather late in the sale.  The excellent drawing-roomfurniture by the best makers; the rare and famouswinesselectedregardless of costand with the well-knowntaste ofthe purchaser; the rich and complete set of familyplate hadbeen sold on the previous days.  Certain of thebest wines(which all had a great character amongamateursin the neighbourhood) had been purchased for hismasterwho knew them very wellby the butler of ourfriendJohn OsborneEsquireof Russell Square.  A smallportion ofthe most useful articles of the plate had beenbought bysome young stockbrokers from the City.  Andnow thepublic being invited to the purchase of minorobjectsit happened that the orator on the table wasexpatiatingon the merits of a picturewhich he soughttorecommend to his audience: it was by no means soselect ornumerous a company as had attended thepreviousdays of the auction. "No.369" roared Mr. Hammerdown.  "Portrait of agentlemanon an elephant.  Who'll bid for the gentlemanon theelephant?  Lift up the pictureBlowmanand letthecompany examine this lot." A longpalemilitary-lookinggentlemanseated demurely at the mahoganytablecould not help grinning as this valuable lot wasshown byMr. Blowman.  "Turn the elephant to theCaptainBlowman.  What shall we saysirfor the elephant?"but theCaptainblushing in a very hurried and discomfitedmannerturned away his head. "Shallwe say twenty guineas for this work of art?--fifteenfivename your own price.  The gentlemanwithoutthe elephant is worth five pound."

 

"Iwonder it ain't come down with him" said aprofessionalwag"he's anyhow a precious big one"; atwhich (forthe elephant-rider was represented as of a verystoutfigure) there was a general giggle in the room. "Don'tbe trying to deprecate the value of the lotMr.Moss"Mr. Hammerdown said; "let the companyexamine itas a work of art--the attitude of the gallantanimalquite according to natur'; the gentleman in anankeenjackethis gun in his handis going to thechase; inthe distance a banyhann tree and a pagodymostlikely resemblances of some interesting spot in ourfamousEastern possessions.  How much for this lot?Comegentlemendon't keep me here all day." Some onebid five shillingsat which the militarygentlemanlooked towards the quarter from which thissplendidoffer had comeand there saw another officerwith ayoung lady on his armwho both appeared to behighlyamused with the sceneand to whomfinallythislot wasknocked down for half a guinea.  He at thetablelooked more surprised and discomposed than everwhen hespied this pairand his head sank into hismilitarycollarand he turned his back upon themso asto avoidthem altogether. Of all theother articles which Mr. Hammerdown hadthe honourto offer for public competition that day it isnot ourpurpose to make mentionsave of one onlyalittlesquare pianowhich came down from the upperregions ofthe house (the state grand piano havingbeendisposed of previously); this the young lady triedwith arapid and skilful hand (making the officer blushand startagain)and for itwhen its turn cameheragentbegan to bid. But therewas an opposition here.  The Hebrew aide-de-camp inthe service of the officer at the table bid againstthe Hebrewgentleman employed by the elephantpurchasersand a brisk battle ensued over this little pianothecombatants being greatly encouraged by Mr.Hammerdown. At lastwhen the competition had been prolonged forsome timethe elephant captain and lady desisted fromthe race;and the hammer coming downthe auctioneersaid:--"Mr.Lewistwenty-five" and Mr. Lewis's chiefthusbecame the proprietor of the little square piano.Havingeffected the purchasehe sate up as if he wasgreatlyrelievedand the unsuccessful competitorscatching aglimpse of him at this momentthe ladysaid toher friend

 

"WhyRawdonit's Captain Dobbin." I supposeBecky was discontented with the new pianoherhusband had hired for heror perhaps theproprietorsof that instrument had fetched it awaydecliningfarther creditor perhaps she had a particularattachmentfor the one which she had just tried to purchaserecollectingit in old dayswhen she used to play uponitin thelittle sitting-room of our dear Amelia Sedley.

 

The salewas at the old house in Russell Squarewherewe passedsome evenings together at the beginning ofthisstory.  Good old John Sedley was a ruined man.  Hisname hadbeen proclaimed as a defaulter on the StockExchangeand his bankruptcy and commercial exterminationhadfollowed.  Mr. Osborne's butler came to buy some of thefamousport wine to transfer to the cellars over the way.As for onedozen well-manufactured silver spoons andforks atper oz.and one dozen dessert ditto dittothere werethree young stockbrokers (Messrs. DaleSpiggotand Daleof Threadneedle Streetindeed)whohaving had dealings with the old manandkindnessesfrom him in days when he was kind toeverybodywith whom he dealtsent this little spar outof thewreck with their love to good Mrs. Sedley; and withrespect tothe pianoas it had been Amelia'sand as shemight missit and want one nowand as Captain WilliamDobbincould no more play upon it than he could danceon thetight ropeit is probable that he did not purchasetheinstrument for his own use. In a wordit arrived that evening at a wonderful smallcottage ina street leading from the Fulham Road--oneof thosestreets which have the finest romantic names--(this wascalled St. Adelaide VillasAnna-Maria RoadWest)where the houses look like baby-houses; wherethepeoplelooking out of the first-floor windowsmustinfalliblyas you thinksit with their feet in the parlours;where theshrubs in the little gardens in front bloom withaperennial display of little children's pinaforeslittle redsockscaps&c. (polyandria polygynia); whence youhear thesound of jingling spinets and women singing;wherelittle porter pots hang on the railings sunningthemselves;whither of evenings you see City clerkspaddingwearily: here it was that Mr. Clappthe clerk ofMr.Sedleyhad his domicileand in this asylum the goodoldgentleman hid his head with his wife and daughterwhen thecrash came. Jos Sedleyhad acted as a man of his dispositionwouldwhen the announcement of the family misfortunereachedhim.  He did not come to Londonbut he wroteto hismother to draw upon his agents for whatevermoney waswantedso that his kind broken-spirited oldparentshad no present poverty to fear.  This doneJoswent on atthe boarding-house at Cheltenham prettymuch asbefore.  He drove his curricle; he drank hisclaret; heplayed his rubber; he told his Indian storiesand theIrish widow consoled and flattered him as usual.Hispresent of moneyneedful as it wasmade littleimpressionon his parents; and I have heard Amelia saythat thefirst day on which she saw her father lift up hishead afterthe failure was on the receipt of the packetof forksand spoons with the young stockbrokers' loveover whichhe burst out crying like a childbeing greatlymoreaffected than even his wifeto whom the presentwasaddressed.  Edward Dalethe junior of the housewhopurchased the spoons for the firmwasin factverysweet uponAmeliaand offered for her in spite of all.He marriedMiss Louisa Cutts (daughter of Higham andCuttstheeminent cornfactors) with a handsome fortunein 1820;and is now living in splendourand with anumerousfamilyat his elegant villaMuswell Hill.  Butwe mustnot let the recollections of this good fellowcause usto diverge from the principal history.

 

I hope thereader has much too good an opinion ofCaptainand Mrs. Crawley to suppose that they everwould havedreamed of paying a visit to so remote adistrictas Bloomsburyif they thought the family whomtheyproposed to honour with a visit were not merelyout offashionbut out of moneyand could beserviceableto them in no possible manner.  Rebecca wasentirelysurprised at the sight of the comfortable old housewhere shehad met with no small kindnessransacked bybrokersand bargainersand its quiet family treasuresgiven upto public desecration and plunder.  A monthafter herflightshe had bethought her of AmeliaandRawdonwith a horse-laughhad expressed a perfectwillingnessto see young George Osborne again.  "He's averyagreeable acquaintanceBeck" the wag added.  "I'dlike tosell him another horseBeck.  I'd like to play afew moregames at billiards with him.  He'd be what Icalluseful just nowMrs. C.--haha!" by which sort ofspeech itis not to be supposed that Rawdon Crawley hadadeliberate desire to cheat Mr. Osborne at playbut onlywished totake that fair advantage of him which almosteverysporting gentleman in Vanity Fair considers to behis duefrom his neighbour. The oldaunt was long in "coming-to." A month hadelapsed. Rawdon was denied the door by Mr. Bowls; hisservantscould not get a lodgment in the house at ParkLane; hisletters were sent back unopened.  Miss Crawleyneverstirred out--she was unwell--and Mrs. Buteremainedstill and never left her.  Crawley and his wife bothof themaugured evil from the continued presence ofMrs. Bute. "GadI begin to perceive now why she was alwaysbringingus together at Queen's Crawley" Rawdon said. "Whatan artful little woman!" ejaculated Rebecca. "WellI don't regret itif you don't" the Captaincriedstill in an amorous rapture with his wifewhorewardedhim with a kiss by way of replyand wasindeed nota little gratified by the generous confidenceof herhusband. "Ifhe had but a little more brains" she thought toherself"I might make something of him"; but she neverlet himperceive the opinion she had of him; listenedwithindefatigable complacency to his stories of thestable andthe mess; laughed at all his jokes; felt thegreatestinterest in Jack Spatterdashwhose cab-horsehad comedownand Bob Martingalewho had beentaken upin a gambling-houseand Tom Cinqbarswhowas goingto ride the steeplechase.  When he came homeshe wasalert and happy: when he went out she pressedhim to go:when he stayed at homeshe played andsang forhimmade him good drinkssuperintended hisdinnerwarmed his slippersand steeped his soul incomfort. The best of women (I have heard my grandmothersay) arehypocrites.  We don't know how muchthey hidefrom us: how watchful they are when theyseem mostartless and confidential: how often those franksmileswhich they wear so easilyare traps to cajole orelude ordisarm--I don't mean in your mere coquettesbut yourdomestic modelsand paragons of female virtue.Who hasnot seen a woman hide the dulness of a stupidhusbandor coax the fury of a savage one?  We acceptthisamiable slavishnessand praise a woman for it: wecall thispretty treachery truth.  A good housewife is ofnecessitya humbug; and Cornelia's husband washoodwinkedas Potiphar was--only in a different way. By theseattentionsthat veteran rakeRawdon Crawleyfoundhimself converted into a very happy and submissivemarriedman.  His former haunts knew him not.They askedabout him once or twice at his clubsbut didnot misshim much: in those booths of Vanity Fair peopleseldom domiss each other.  His secluded wife ever smilingandcheerfulhis little comfortable lodgingssnugmealsandhomely eveningshad all the charms of noveltyandsecrecy.  The marriage was not yet declared to theworldorpublished in the Morning Post.  All his creditorswould havecome rushing on him in a bodyhad theyknown thathe was united to a woman without fortune."Myrelations won't cry fie upon me" Becky saidwithrather abitter laugh; and she was quite contented to waituntil theold aunt should be reconciledbefore she claimedher placein society.  So she lived at Bromptonandmeanwhilesaw no oneor only those few of her husband'smalecompanions who were admitted into her littledining-room. These were all charmed with her.  The littledinnersthe laughing and chattingthe music afterwardsdelightedall who participated in these enjoyments.  MajorMartingalenever thought about asking tosee themarriage licenceCaptain Cinqbars was perfectlyenchantedwith her skill in making punch.  And youngLieutenantSpatterdash (who was fond of piquetandwhomCrawley would often invite) was evidently andquicklysmitten by Mrs. Crawley; but her owncircumspectionand modesty never forsook her for amomentand Crawley's reputation as a fire-eating andjealouswarrior was a further and complete defence tohis littlewife. There aregentlemen of very good blood and fashionin thiscitywho never have entered a lady's drawing-room; sothat though Rawdon Crawley's marriage mightbe talkedabout in his countywhereof courseMrs.Bute hadspread the newsin London it was doubtedornotheededor not talked about at all.  He lived comfortablyoncredit.  He had a large capital of debtswhichlaid outjudiciouslywill carry a man along for manyyearsandon which certain men about town contriveto live ahundred times better than even men with readymoney cando.  Indeed who is there that walks Londonstreetsbut can point out a half-dozen of men ridingby himsplendidlywhile he is on footcourted by fashionbowed intotheir carriages by tradesmendenyingthemselvesnothingand living on who knows what?  Wesee JackThriftless prancing in the parkor darting in hisbroughamdown Pall Mall: we eat his dinners served onhismiraculous plate.  "How did this begin" we say"orwhere willit end?" "My dear fellow" I heard Jack oncesay"Iowe money in every capital in Europe."  The endmust comesome daybut in the meantime Jack thrivesas much asever; people are glad enough to shake him bythe handignore the little dark stories that are whisperedevery nowand then against himand pronounce him agood-naturedjovialreckless fellow. Truthobliges us to confess that Rebecca had married agentlemanof this order.  Everything was plentiful in hishouse butready moneyof which their menage prettyearly feltthe want; and reading the Gazette one dayand comingupon the announcement of "Lieutenant G.Osborne tobe Captain by purchasevice Smithwhoexchanges"Rawdon uttered that sentiment regardingAmelia'sloverwhich ended in the visit to Russell Square. WhenRawdon and his wife wished to communicatewithCaptain Dobbin at the saleand to know particularsof thecatastrophe which had befallen Rebecca'soldacquaintancesthe Captain had vanished; and suchinformationas they got was from a stray porter or brokerat theauction. "Lookat them with their hooked beaks" Becky saidgettinginto the buggyher picture under her armingreatglee.  "They're like vultures after a battle." "Don'tknow.  Never was in actionmy dear.  AskMartingale;he was in Spainaide-de-camp to GeneralBlazes." "Hewas a very kind old manMr. Sedley" Rebeccasaid; "I'mreally sorry he's gone wrong." "Ostockbrokers--bankrupts--used to ityou know"Rawdonrepliedcutting a fly off the horse's ear. "Iwish we could have afforded some of the plateRawdon"the wife continued sentimentally.  "Five-and-twentyguineas was monstrously dear for that little piano.We choseit at Broadwood's for Ameliawhen she camefromschool.  It only cost five-and-thirty then." "What-d'-ye-call'em--'Osborne'will cry off nowIsupposesince the family is smashed.  How cut up yourprettylittle friend will be; heyBecky?" "Idaresay she'll recover it" Becky said with a smile--and theydrove on and talked about something else.

 

 

 

 

CHAPTERXVIIIWhoPlayed on the Piano Captain Dobbin Bought

 

Oursurprised story now finds itself for a momentamong veryfamous events and personagesandhanging onto the skirts of history.  When the eaglesofNapoleon Bonapartethe Corsican upstartwereflyingfrom Provencewhere they had perched after a briefsojourn inElbaand from steeple to steeple until theyreachedthe towers of Notre DameI wonder whether theImperialbirds had any eye for a little corner of the parishofBloomsburyLondonwhich you might have thought so quietthat eventhe whirring and flapping of those mighty wingswould passunobserved there? "Napoleonhas landed at Cannes."  Such news mightcreate apanic at Viennaand cause Russia to drop hiscardsandtake Prussia into a cornerand TalleyrandandMetternich to wag their heads togetherwhile PrinceHardenbergand even the present Marquis of Londonderrywerepuzzled; but how was this intelligence to affect a younglady inRussell Squarebefore whose door the watchmansang thehours when she was asleep: whoif shestrolledin the squarewas guarded there by therailingsand the beadle:  whoif she walked ever so shorta distanceto buy a ribbon in Southampton Rowwasfollowedby Black Sambo with an enormous cane:  whowas alwayscared fordressedput to bedand watchedover byever so many guardian angelswith and withoutwages? Bon DieuI sayis it not hard that the fatefulrush ofthe great Imperial struggle can't take place withoutaffectinga poor little harmless girl of eighteenwhoisoccupied in billing and cooingor working muslincollars inRussell Square?  You tookindlyhomely flower!--is thegreat roaring war tempest coming to sweep youdownherealthough cowering under the shelter ofHolborn? Yes; Napoleon is flinging his last stakeand poorlittleEmmy Sedley's happiness formssomehowpart of it. In thefirst placeher father's fortune was swept downwith thatfatal news.  All his speculations had of late gonewrong withthe luckless old gentleman.  Ventures hadfailed;merchants had broken; funds had risen when hecalculatedthey would fall.  What need to particularize?If successis rare and sloweverybody knows how quickand easyruin is.  Old Sedley had kept his own sad counsel.Everythingseemed to go on as usual in the quietopulenthouse; the good-natured mistress pursuingquiteunsuspiciouslyher bustling idlenessand daily easyavocations;the daughter absorbed still in one selfishtenderthoughtand quite regardless of all the world besideswhen thatfinal crash cameunder which the worthyfamilyfell. One nightMrs. Sedley was writing cards for a party;theOsbornes had given oneand she must not bebehindhand;John Sedleywho had come home very late fromthe Citysate silent at the chimney sidewhile his wifewasprattling to him; Emmy had gone up to her roomailing andlow-spirited.  "She's not happy" the motherwent on. "George Osborne neglects her.  I've no patiencewith theairs of those people.  The girls have not been inthe housethese three weeks; and George has been twicein townwithout coming.  Edward Dale saw him at theOpera. Edward would marry her I'm sure: and there'sCaptainDobbin whoI thinkwould--only I hate allarmy men. Such a dandy as George has become.  Withhismilitary airsindeed!  We must show some folks thatwe're asgood as they.  Only give Edward Dale anyencouragementand you'll see.  We must have a partyMr.S. Why don't you speakJohn?  Shall I say Tuesday fortnight?Why don'tyou answer? Good GodJohnwhat has happened?" JohnSedley sprang up out of his chair to meet hiswifewhoran to him.  He seized her in his armsandsaid witha hasty voice"We're ruinedMary.  We'vegot theworld to begin over againdear.  It's best that youshouldknow alland at once."  As he spokehe trembledin everylimband almost fell.  He thought the news wouldhaveoverpowered his wife--his wifeto whom he hadnever saida hard word.  But it was he that was the mostmovedsudden as the shock was to her.  When he sankback intohis seatit was the wife that took the office ofconsoler. She took his trembling handand kissed itandput itround her neck: she called him her John--her dearJohn--herold man--her kind old man; she poured out ahundredwords of incoherent love and tenderness; herfaithfulvoice and simple caresses wrought this sad heartup to aninexpressible delight and anguishand cheeredandsolaced his over-burdened soul. Only oncein the course of the long night as they satetogetherand poor Sedley opened his pent-up soulandtold thestory of his losses and embarrassments--thetreason ofsome of his oldest friendsthe manly kindnessof somefrom whom he never could have expected it--ina generalconfession--only once did the faithful wife giveway toemotion. "MyGodmy Godit will break Emmy's heart" shesaid. The fatherhad forgotten the poor girl.  She was lyingawake andunhappyoverhead.  In the midst of friendshomeandkind parentsshe was alone.  To how manypeople canany one tell all?  Who will be open where thereis nosympathyor has call to speak to those who nevercanunderstand?  Our gentle Amelia was thus solitary.  Shehad noconfidanteso to speakever since she had anythingtoconfide.  She could not tell the old mother herdoubts andcares; the would-be sisters seemed every daymorestrange to her.  And she had misgivings and fearswhich shedared not acknowledge to herselfthough shewas alwayssecretly brooding over them.

 

Her hearttried to persist in asserting that GeorgeOsbornewas worthy and faithful to herthough she knewotherwise. How many a thing had she saidand got noecho fromhim.  How many suspicions of selfishness andindifferencehad she to encounter and obstinatelyovercome. To whom could the poor little martyr tell thesedailystruggles and tortures?  Her hero himself only halfunderstoodher.  She did not dare to own that the man sheloved washer inferior; or to feel that she had given herheart awaytoo soon.  Given oncethe pure bashfulmaiden wastoo modesttoo tendertoo trustfultooweaktoomuch woman to recall it.  We are Turks withtheaffections of our women; and have made themsubscribeto our doctrine too.  We let their bodies go abroadliberallyenoughwith smiles and ringlets and pinkbonnets todisguise them instead of veils and yakmaks.  Buttheirsouls must be seen by only one manand they obeynotunwillinglyand consent to remain at home as ourslaves--ministeringto us and doing drudgery for us.

 

Soimprisoned and tortured was this gentle little heartwhen inthe month of MarchAnno Domini 1815Napoleonlanded at Cannesand Louis XVIII fledand allEurope wasin alarmand the funds felland old JohnSedley wasruined.

 

We are notgoing to follow the worthy old stockbrokerthroughthose last pangs and agonies of ruin throughwhich hepassed before his commercial demise befell.Theydeclared him at the Stock Exchange; he wasabsentfrom his house of business: his bills were protested:his act ofbankruptcy formal.  The house and furniture ofRussellSquare were seized and sold upand he and hisfamilywere thrust awayas we have seento hide theirheadswhere they might.

 

JohnSedley had not the heart to review the domesticestablishmentwho have appeared now and anon in ourpages andof whom he was now forced by poverty totakeleave.  The wages of those worthy people weredischargedwith that punctuality which men frequently showwho onlyowe in great sums--they were sorry to leavegoodplaces--but they did not break their hearts at partingfrom theiradored master and mistress.  Amelia's maidwasprofuse in condolencesbut went off quite resignedto betterherself in a genteeler quarter of the town.  BlackSambowith the infatuation of his professiondeterminedon settingup a public-house.  Honest old Mrs. Blenkinsopindeedwho had seen the birth of Jos and Ameliaandthe wooingof John Sedley and his wifewas for stayingby themwithout wageshaving amassed a considerablesum intheir service: and she accompanied the fallenpeopleinto their new and humble place of refugewhereshe tendedthem and grumbled against them for a while.

 

Of allSedley's opponents in his debates with his creditorswhich nowensuedand harassed the feelings of thehumiliatedold gentleman so severelythat in six weeks heoldenedmore than he had done for fifteen years before--the mostdetermined and obstinate seemed to be JohnOsbornehis old friend and neighbour--John Osbornewhom hehad set up in life--who was under a hundredobligationsto him--and whose son was to marry Sedley'sdaughter. Any one of these circumstances would accountfor thebitterness of Osborne's opposition.

 

When oneman has been under very remarkableobligationsto anotherwith whom he subsequently quarrelsa commonsense of decencyas it weremakes of theformer amuch severer enemy than a mere strangerwould be. To account for your own hard-heartedness andingratitudein such a caseyou are bound to prove theotherparty's crime.  It is not that you are selfishbrutaland angryat the failure of a speculation--nono--it isthat yourpartner has led you into it by the basest treacheryand withthe most sinister motives.  From a meresense ofconsistencya persecutor is bound to show thatthe fallenman is a villain--otherwise hethe persecutoris awretch himself.

 

And as ageneral rulewhich may make all creditorswho areinclined to be severe pretty comfortable in theirmindsnomen embarrassed are altogether honestverylikely. They conceal something; they exaggerate chancesof goodluck; hide away the real state of affairs; say thatthings areflourishing when they are hopelesskeep asmilingface (a dreary smile it is) upon the verge ofbankruptcy--areready to lay hold of any pretext fordelay orof any moneyso as to stave off the inevitableruin a fewdays longer.  "Down with such dishonesty"says thecreditor in triumphand reviles his sinkingenemy. "You foolwhy do you catch at a straw?" calmgood sensesays to the man that is drowning.  "You villainwhy do youshrink from plunging into the irretrievableGazette?"says prosperity to the poor devil battling inthat blackgulf.  Who has not remarked the readiness withwhich theclosest of friends and honestest of men suspectand accuseeach other of cheating when they fall outon moneymatters? Everybody does it.  Everybody is rightI supposeand the world is a rogue.

 

ThenOsborne had the intolerable sense of formerbenefitsto goad and irritate him: these are always acause ofhostility aggravated.  Finallyhe had to break offthe matchbetween Sedley's daughter and his son; andas it hadgone very far indeedand as the poor girl'shappinessand perhaps character were compromisedit wasnecessaryto show the strongest reasons for the ruptureand forJohn Osborne to prove John Sedley to be a verybadcharacter indeed.

 

At themeetings of creditorsthenhe comported himselfwith asavageness and scorn towards Sedleywhichalmostsucceeded in breaking the heart of that ruinedbankruptman.  On George's intercourse with Amelia heput aninstant veto--menacing the youth with maledictionsif hebroke his commandsand vilipending thepoorinnocent girl as the basest and most artful of vixens.One of thegreat conditions of anger and hatred isthatyou musttell and believe lies against the hated objectinorderaswe saidto be consistent.

 

When thegreat crash came--the announcement ofruinandthe departure from Russell Squareand thedeclarationthat all was over between her and George--alloverbetween her and loveher and happinessher andfaith inthe world--a brutal letter from John Osbornetold herin a few curt lines that her father's conduct hadbeen ofsuch a nature that all engagements between thefamilieswere at an end--when the final award cameitdid notshock her so much as her parentsas her motherratherexpected (for John Sedley himself was entirelyprostratein the ruins of his own affairs and shatteredhonour). Amelia took the news very palely and calmly.It wasonly the confirmation of the dark presages whichhad longgone before.  It was the mere reading of thesentence--ofthe crime she had long ago been guilty--thecrime ofloving wronglytoo violentlyagainst reason.She toldno more of her thoughts now than she hadbefore. She seemed scarcely more unhappy now whenconvincedall hope was overthan before when she felt butdared notconfess that it was gone.  So she changed fromthe largehouse to the small one without any mark ordifference;remained in her little room for the most part;pinedsilently; and died away day by day.  I do not meanto saythat all females are so.  My dear Miss BullockIdo notthink your heart would break in this way.  You areastrong-minded young woman with proper principles.I do notventure to say that mine would; it has sufferedanditmust be confessedsurvived.  But there are somesouls thusgently constitutedthus frailand delicateandtender.

 

Wheneverold John Sedley thought of the affairbetweenGeorge and Ameliaor alluded to itit was withbitternessalmost as great as Mr. Osborne himself hadshown. He cursed Osborne and his family as heartlesswickedand ungrateful.  No power on earthhe sworewouldinduce him to marry his daughter to the son ofsuch avillainand he ordered Emmy to banish Georgefrom hermindand to return all the presents and letterswhich shehad ever had from him.

 

Shepromised acquiescenceand tried to obey.  She putup the twoor three trinkets: andas for the lettersshedrew themout of the place.where she kept them; andread themover--as if she did not know them by heartalready:but she could not part with them.  That effortwas toomuch for her; she placed them back in herbosomagain--as you have seen a woman nurse a childthat isdead.  Young Amelia felt that she would die or loseher sensesoutrightif torn away from this last consolation.How sheused to blush and lighten up when thoseletterscame!  How she used to trip away with a beatingheartsothat she might read unseen!  If they were coldyet howperversely this fond little soul interpreted themintowarmth.  If they were short or selfishwhat excusesshe foundfor the writer!

 

It wasover these few worthless papers that she broodedandbrooded.  She lived in her past life--every letterseemed torecall some circumstance of it.  How well sherememberedthem all!  His looks and toneshis dresswhat hesaid and how--these relics and remembrancesof deadaffection were all that were left her in the world.And thebusiness of her lifewas--to watch the corpseof Love.

 

To deathshe looked with inexpressible longing.  ThenshethoughtI shall always be able to follow him.  I am notpraisingher conduct or setting her up as a model forMissBullock to imitate.  Miss B. knows how to regulateherfeelings better than this poor little creature.  Miss B.wouldnever have committed herself as that imprudentAmelia haddone; pledged her love irretrievably;confessedher heart awayand got back nothing--only abrittlepromise which was snapt and worthless in amoment. A long engagement is a partnership which oneparty isfree to keep or to breakbut which involves allthecapital of the other.

 

Becautious thenyoung ladies; be wary how youengage. Be shy of loving frankly; never tell all you feelor(a betterway still)feel very little.  See the consequencesof beingprematurely honest and confidingand mistrustyourselvesand everybody.  Get yourselves married as theydo inFrancewhere the lawyers are the bridesmaids andconfidantes. At any ratenever have any feelings whichmay makeyou uncomfortableor make any promiseswhich youcannot at any required moment command andwithdraw. That is the way to get onand be respectedand have avirtuous character in Vanity Fair.

 

If Ameliacould have heard the comments regardingher whichwere made in the circle from which her father'sruin hadjust driven hershe would have seen what herown crimeswereand how entirely her character wasjeopardised. Such criminal imprudence Mrs. Smith neverknew of;such horrid familiarities Mrs. Brown hadalwayscondemnedand the end might be a warning to HERdaughters. "Captain Osborneof coursecould not marryabankrupt's daughter" the Misses Dobbin said.  "It wasquiteenough to have been swindled by the father.  As forthatlittle Ameliaher folly had really passed all--"

 

"Allwhat?" Captain Dobbin roared out.  "Haven't theybeenengaged ever since they were children?  Wasn't itas good asa marriage?  Dare any soul on earth breathe awordagainst the sweetestthe purestthe tenderestthemostangelical of young women?"

 

"LaWilliamdon't be so highty-tighty with US.  We'renot men. We can't fight you" Miss Jane said.  "We've saidnothingagainst Miss Sedley: but that her conductthroughoutwas MOST IMPRUDENTnot to call it by anyworsename; and that her parents are people whocertainlymerit their misfortunes."

 

"Hadn'tyou betternow that Miss Sedley is freeproposefor her yourselfWilliam?" Miss Ann askedsarcastically. "It would be a most eligible familyconnection. He!  he!"

 

"Imarry her!" Dobbin saidblushing very muchandtalkingquick.  "If you are so readyyoung ladiesto chopandchangedo you suppose that she is?  Laugh and sneerat thatangel.  She can't hear it; and she's miserable andunfortunateand deserves to be laughed at.  Go onjokingAnn.  You're the wit of the familyand the otherslike tohear it."

 

"Imust tell you again we're not in a barrackWilliam"Miss Annremarked.

 

"In abarrackby Jove--I wish anybody in a barrackwould saywhat you do" cried out this uproused Britishlion. "I should like to hear a man breathe a word againstherbyJupiter.  But men don't talk in this wayAnn: it'sonlywomenwho get together and hissand shriekandcackle. Thereget away--don't begin to cry.  I only saidyou were acouple of geese" Will Dobbin saidperceivingMiss Ann'spink eyes were beginning to moisten asusual. "Wellyou're not geeseyou're swans--anythingyou likeonly dodo leave Miss Sedley alone."

 

Anythinglike William's infatuation about that silly littleflirtingogling thing was never knownthe mammaandsisters agreed together in thinking: and they trembledlestherengagement being off with Osborneshe shouldtake upimmediately her other admirer and Captain.In whichforebodings these worthy young women nodoubtjudged according to the best of their experience; orrather(for as yet they had had no opportunities ofmarryingor of jilting) according to their own notions ofright andwrong.

 

"Itis a mercyMammathat the regiment is orderedabroad"the girls said.  "THIS dangerat any rateisspared ourbrother."

 

Suchindeedwas the fact; and so it is that the FrenchEmperorcomes in to perform a part in this domesticcomedy ofVanity Fair which we are now playingandwhichwould never have been enacted without theinterventionof this august mute personage.  It was hethatruined the Bourbons and Mr. John Sedley.  It washe whosearrival in his capital called up all France inarms todefend him there; and all Europe to oust him.While theFrench nation and army were swearing fidelityround theeagles in the Champ de Marsfour mightyEuropeanhosts were getting in motion for the greatchasse al'aigle; and one of these was a British armyofwhich twoheroes of oursCaptain Dobbin and CaptainOsborneformed a portion.

 

The newsof Napoleon's escape and landing wasreceivedby the gallant --th with a fiery delight andenthusiasmwhich everybody can understand who knowsthatfamous corps.  From the colonel to the smallestdrummer inthe regimentall were filled with hope andambitionand patriotic fury; and thanked the French Emperoras for apersonal kindness in coming to disturb the peaceofEurope.  Now was the time the --th had so longpantedforto show their comrades in arms that theycouldfight as well as the Peninsular veteransand thatall thepluck and valour of the --th had not been killedby theWest Indies and the yellow fever.  Stubble andSpooneylooked to get their companies without purchase.Before theend of the campaign (which she resolvedto share)Mrs. Major O'Dowd hoped to writeherselfMrs. Colonel O'DowdC.B.  Our two friends(Dobbinand Osborne) were quite as much excited as therest: andeach in his way--Mr. Dobbin very quietlyMr.Osbornevery loudly and energetically--was bent upondoing hisdutyand gaining his share of honour anddistinction.

 

Theagitation thrilling through the country and armyinconsequence of this news was so greatthat privatematterswere little heeded: and hence probably GeorgeOsbornejust gazetted to his companybusy with preparationsfor themarchwhich must come inevitablyandpantingfor further promotion--was not so much affectedby otherincidents which would have interested him at amore quietperiod.  He was notit must be confessedvery muchcast down by good old Mr. Sedley's catastrophe.He triedhis new uniformwhich became himveryhandsomelyon the day when the first meeting ofthecreditors of the unfortunate gentleman took place.His fathertold him of the wickedrascallyshamefulconduct ofthe bankruptreminded him of what he hadsaid aboutAmeliaand that their connection was brokenoff forever; and gave him that evening a good sum ofmoney topay for the new clothes and epaulets in whichhe lookedso well.  Money was always useful to this free-handedyoung fellowand he took it without many words.The billswere up in the Sedley housewhere he hadpassed somanymany happy hours.  He could seethem as hewalked from home that night (to the OldSlaughters'where he put up when in town) shining whitein themoon.  That comfortable home was shutthenuponAmelia andher parents: where had they taken refuge?Thethought of their ruin affected him not a little.  Hewas verymelancholy that night in the coffee-room attheSlaughters'; and drank a good dealas his comradesremarkedthere.

 

Dobbincame in presentlycautioned him about thedrinkwhich he only tookhe saidbecause he wasdeucedlow; but when his friend began to put to himclumsyinquiriesand asked him for news in a significantmannerOsborne declined entering into conversation withhimavowinghoweverthat he was devilish disturbedandunhappy.

 

Three daysafterwardsDobbin found Osborne in hisroom atthe barracks--his head on the tablea numberof papersaboutthe young Captain evidently in a stateof greatdespondency.  "She--she's sent me back somethings Igave her--some damned trinkets.  Look here!"There wasa little packet directed in the well-known handto CaptainGeorge Osborneand some things lying about--a ringa silver knife he had boughtas a boyfor herat a fair;a gold chainand a locket with hair in it.  "It'sall over"said hewith a groan of sickening remorse."LookWillyou may read it if you like."

 

There wasa little letter of a few linesto which hepointedwhich said:

 

 

My papahas ordered me to return to you thesepresentswhich you made in happier days to me; and Iam towrite to you for the last time.  I thinkI know youfeel asmuch as I do the blow which has come upon us.It is Ithat absolve you from an engagement which isimpossiblein our present misery.  I am sure you had noshare initor in the cruel suspicions of Mr. Osbornewhich arethe hardest of all our griefs to bear.  Farewell.Farewell. I pray God to strengthen me to bear this andothercalamitiesand to bless you always.     A.

 

I shalloften play upon the piano--your piano.  It waslike youto send it.

 

Dobbin wasvery soft-hearted.  The sight of womenandchildren in pain always used to melt him.  The ideaof Ameliabroken-hearted and lonely tore that good-naturedsoul with anguish.  And he broke out into anemotionwhich anybody who likes may consider unmanly.He sworethat Amelia was an angelto which Osbornesaid ayewith all his heart.  Hetoohad been reviewingthehistory of their lives--and had seen her from herchildhoodto her present ageso sweetso innocentsocharmingly simpleand artlessly fond and tender.

 

What apang it was to lose all that: to have had it andnot prizedit!  A thousand homely scenes and recollectionscrowded onhim--in which he always saw her goodandbeautiful.  And for himselfhe blushed with remorseand shameas the remembrance of his own selfishnessandindifference contrasted with that perfect purity.  Fora whileglorywareverything was forgottenand thepair offriends talked about her only.

 

"Whereare they?" Osborne askedafter a long talkand a longpause--andin truthwith no little shame atthinkingthat he had taken no steps to follow her.  "Whereare they?There's no address to the note."

 

Dobbinknew.  He had not merely sent the piano; buthadwritten a note to Mrs. Sedleyand asked permissionto comeand see her--and he had seen herand Ameliatooyesterdaybefore he came down to Chatham; andwhat ismorehe had brought that farewell letter andpacketwhich had so moved them.

 

Thegood-natured fellow had found Mrs. Sedley onlytoowilling to receive himand greatly agitated by thearrival ofthe pianowhichas she conjecturedMUST havecome fromGeorgeand was a signal of amity on hispart. Captain Dobbin did not correct this error of theworthyladybut listened to all her story of complaintsandmisfortunes with great sympathy--condoled withher lossesand privationsand agreed in reprehending thecruelconduct of Mr. Osborne towards his first benefactor.When shehad eased her overflowing bosom somewhatand pouredforth many of her sorrowshe had thecourage toask actually to see Ameliawho was above inher roomas usualand whom her mother led tremblingdownstairs.

 

Herappearance was so ghastlyand her look of despairsopatheticthat honest William Dobbin was frightenedas hebeheld it; and read the most fatal forebodings inthat palefixed face.  After sitting in his company a minuteor twoshe put the packet into his handand said"Takethis to Captain Osborneif you pleaseand--and Ihope he'squite well--and it was very kind of you tocome andsee us--and we like our new house very much.And I--Ithink I'll go upstairsMammafor I'm not verystrong."And with thisand a curtsey and a smilethepoor childwent her way.  The motheras she led her upcast backlooks of anguish towards Dobbin.  The goodfellowwanted no such appeal.  He loved her himself toofondly forthat.  Inexpressible griefand pityand terrorpursuedhimand he came away as if he was a criminalafterseeing her.

 

WhenOsborne heard that his friend had found herhe madehot and anxious inquiries regarding the poorchild. How was she?  How did she look?  What did shesay? His comrade took his handand looked him in theface.

 

"Georgeshe's dying" William Dobbin said--and couldspeak nomore.

 

There wasa buxom Irish servant-girlwho performedall theduties of the little house where the Sedley familyhad foundrefuge: and this girl had in vainon manypreviousdaysstriven to give Amelia aid or consolation.Emmy wasmuch too sad to answeror even to be awareof theattempts the other was making in her favour.

 

Four hoursafter the talk between Dobbin and Osbornethisservant-maid came into Amelia's roomwhere shesate asusualbrooding silently over her letters--herlittletreasures.  The girlsmilingand looking arch andhappymade many trials to attract poor Emmy'sattentionwhohowevertook no heed of her.

 

"MissEmmy" said the girl.

 

"I'mcoming" Emmy saidnot looking round.

 

"There'sa message" the maid went on.  "There'ssomething--somebody--surehere's a new letter for you--don't bereading them old ones any more." And she gaveher aletterwhich Emmy tookand read.

 

"Imust see you" the letter said.  "Dearest Emmy--dearestlove--dearest wifecome to me."

 

George andher mother were outsidewaiting until shehad readthe letter.

 

 

 

 

CHAPTERXIXMissCrawley at Nurse

 

We haveseen how Mrs. Firkinthe lady's maidas soonas anyevent of importance to the Crawley family cameto herknowledgefelt bound to communicate it to Mrs.ButeCrawleyat the Rectory; and have beforementionedhow particularly kind and attentive that good-naturedlady was to Miss Crawley's confidential servant.She hadbeen a gracious friend to Miss Briggsthecompanionalso; and had secured the latter's good-will by anumber ofthose attentions and promiseswhich cost solittle inthe makingand are yet so valuable and agreeable totherecipient.  Indeed every good economist andmanager ofa household must know how cheap and yethowamiable these professions areand what a flavourthey giveto the most homely dish in life.  Who was theblunderingidiot who said that "fine words butter noparsnips"? Half the parsnips of society are served andrenderedpalatable with no other sauce.  As the immortalAlexisSoyer can make more delicious soup for a half-penny thanan ignorant cook can concoct with pounds ofvegetablesand meatso a skilful artist will make a fewsimple andpleasing phrases go farther than ever so muchsubstantialbenefit-stock in the hands of a mere bungler.Nayweknow that substantial benefits often sicken somestomachs;whereasmost will digest any amount of finewordsandbe always eager for more of the same food.Mrs. Butehad told Briggs and Firkin so often of thedepth ofher affection for them; and what she would doif she hadMiss Crawley's fortunefor friends so excellentandattachedthat the ladies in question had the deepestregard forher; and felt as much gratitude andconfidenceas if Mrs. Bute had loaded them with the mostexpensivefavours.

 

RawdonCrawleyon the other handlike a selfishheavydragoon as he wasnever took the least trouble toconciliatehis aunt's aides-de-campshowed his contemptfor thepair with entire frankness--made Firkin pull offhis bootson one occasion--sent her out in the rain onignominiousmessages--and if he gave her a guineaflungit to heras if it were a box on the ear.  As his aunttoomade abutt of Briggsthe Captain followed theexampleand levelled his jokes at her--jokes about asdelicateas a kick from his charger.  WhereasMrs. Buteconsultedher in matters of taste or difficultyadmiredherpoetryand by a thousand acts of kindness andpolitenessshowed her appreciation of Briggs; and if shemadeFirkin a twopenny-halfpenny presentaccompaniedit with somany complimentsthat the twopence-half-penny wastransmuted into gold in the heart of the gratefulwaiting-maidwhobesideswas looking forwardsquitecontentedly to some prodigious benefit which musthappen toher on the day when Mrs. Bute came into herfortune.

 

Thedifferent conduct of these two people is pointedoutrespectfully to the attention of persons commencingtheworld.  Praise everybodyI say to such: never besqueamishbut speak out your compliment both point-blank in aman's faceand behind his backwhenyou knowthere is a reasonable chance of his hearing itagain. Never lose a chance of saying a kind word.  AsCollingwoodnever saw a vacant place in his estate buthe took anacorn out of his pocket and popped it in;so dealwith your compliments through life.  An acorncostsnothing; but it may sprout into a prodigious bit oftimber.

 

In a wordduring Rawdon Crawley's prosperityhe wasonlyobeyed with sulky acquiescence; when his disgracecamethere was nobody to help or pity him.  Whereaswhen Mrs.Bute took the command at Miss Crawley'shousethegarrison there were charmed to act undersuch aleaderexpecting all sorts of promotion from herpromisesher generosityand her kind words.

 

That hewould consider himself beatenafter one defeatand makeno attempt to regain the position he hadlostMrs.Bute Crawley never allowed herself to suppose.She knewRebecca to be too clever and spirited anddesperatea woman to submit without a struggle; and feltthat shemust prepare for that combatand be incessantlywatchfulagainst assault; or mineor surprise.

 

In thefirst placethough she held the townwas shesure ofthe principal inhabitant?  Would Miss Crawleyherselfhold out; and had she not a secret longing towelcomeback the ousted adversary?  The old lady likedRawdonand Rebeccawho amused her.  Mrs. Bute couldnotdisguise from herself the fact that none of her partycould socontribute to the pleasures of the town-bredlady. "My girls' singingafter that little odious governess'sI know isunbearable" the candid Rector's wifeowned toherself.  "She always used to go to sleep whenMartha andLouisa played their duets.  Jim's stiffcollegemanners and poor dear Bute's talk about his dogsand horsesalways annoyed her.  If I took her to theRectoryshe would grow angry with us alland flyIknow shewould; and might fall into that horridRawdon'sclutches againand be the victim of that littleviper of aSharp.  Meanwhileit is clear to me that she isexceedinglyunwelland cannot move for some weeksatany rate;during which we must think of some plan toprotecther from the arts of those unprincipled people."

 

In thevery best-of momentsif anybody told MissCrawleythat she wasor looked illthe trembling oldlady sentoff for her doctor; and I daresay she was veryunwellafter the sudden family eventwhich might serveto shakestronger nerves than hers.  At leastMrs. Butethought itwas her duty to inform the physicianand theapothecaryand the dame-de-compagnieand the domesticsthat MissCrawley was in a most critical stateandthat theywere to act accordingly.  She had the street laidknee-deepwith straw; and the knocker put by with Mr.Bowls'splate.  She insisted that the Doctor should calltwice aday; and deluged her patient with draughts everytwohours.  When anybody entered the roomshe uttereda shshshshso sibilant and ominousthat it frightened thepoor oldlady in her bedfrom which she couldnot lookwithout seeing Mrs. Bute's beady eyes eagerlyfixed onheras the latter sate steadfast in the arm-chairby thebedside.  They seemed to lighten in the dark (forshe keptthe curtains closed) as she moved about theroom onvelvet paws like a cat.  There Miss Crawley layfordays--ever so many days--Mr. Bute reading booksofdevotion to her: for nightslong nightsduring whichshe had tohear the watchman singthe night-light sputter;visited atmidnightthe last thingby the stealthy apothecary;and thenleft to look at Mrs. Bute's twinkling eyesor theflicks of yellow that the rushlight threw on thedrearydarkened ceiling.  Hygeia herself would havefallensick under such a regimen; and how much morethis poorold nervous victim?  It has been said that whenshe was inhealth and good spiritsthis venerableinhabitantof Vanity Fair had as free notions about religionand moralsas Monsieur de Voltaire himself could desirebut whenillness overtook herit was aggravated bythe mostdreadful terrors of deathand an utter cowardicetookpossession of the prostrate old sinner.

 

Sick-bedhomilies and pious reflections areto be sureout ofplace in mere story-booksand we are not going(after thefashion of some novelists of the present day)to cajolethe.public into a sermonwhen it is only acomedythat the reader pays his money to witness.  Butwithoutpreachingthe truth may surely be borne in mindthat thebustleand triumphand laughterand gaietywhichVanity Fair exhibits in publicdo not always pursuetheperformer into private lifeand that the mostdrearydepression of spirits and dismal repentancessometimesovercome him.  Recollection of the best ordainedbanquetswill scarcely cheer sick epicures.  Reminiscencesof themost becoming dresses and brilliant ball triumphswill govery little way to console faded beauties.  Perhapsstatesmenat a particular period of existencearenot muchgratified at thinking over the most triumphantdivisions;and the success or the pleasure of yesterdaybecomes ofvery small account when a certain(albeituncertain) morrow is in viewabout which all ofus mustsome day or other be speculating.  O brotherwearers ofmotley!  Are there not moments when onegrows sickof grinning and tumblingand the jingling ofcap andbells?  Thisdear friends and companionsis myamiableobject--to walk with you through the Fairtoexaminethe shops and the shows there; and that weshould allcome home after the flareand the noiseandthegaietyand be perfectly miserable in private.

 

"Ifthat poor man of mine had a head on his shoulders"Mrs. ButeCrawley thought to herself"how useful hemight beunder present circumstancesto this unhappyold lady! He might make her repent of her shockingfree-thinkingways; he might urge her to do her dutyand castoff that odious reprobate who has disgracedhimselfand his family; and he might induce her to dojustice tomy dear girls and the two boyswho requireanddeserveI am sureevery assistance which theirrelativescan give them."

 

Andasthe hatred of vice is always a progress towardsvirtueMrs. Bute Crawley endeavoured to instilhersister-in-law a proper abhorrence for all RawdonCrawley'smanifold sins: of which his uncle's wife broughtforwardsuch a catalogue as indeed would have servedto condemna whole regiment of young officers.  If a manhascommitted wrong in lifeI don't know any moralistmoreanxious to point his errors out to the world thanhis ownrelations; so Mrs. Bute showed a perfect familyinterestand knowledge of Rawdon's history.  She had alltheparticulars of that ugly quarrel with Captain Markerin whichRawdonwrong from the beginningended inshootingthe Captain.  She knew how the unhappy LordDovedalewhose mamma had taken a house at Oxfordso that hemight be educated thereand who had nevertouched acard in his life till he came to Londonwaspervertedby Rawdon at the Cocoa-Treemade helplesslytipsy bythis abominable seducer and perverter of youthandfleeced of four thousand pounds.  She described withthe mostvivid minuteness the agonies of the countryfamilieswhom he had ruined--the sons whom he hadplungedinto dishonour and poverty--the daughterswhom hehad inveigled into perdition.  She knew the poortradesmenwho were bankrupt by his extravagance--themeanshifts and rogueries with which he had ministeredto it--theastounding falsehoods by which he had imposedupon themost generous of auntsand the ingratitude andridiculeby which he had repaid her sacrifices.  Sheimpartedthese stories gradually to Miss Crawley; gave herthe wholebenefit of them; felt it to be her bounden dutyas aChristian woman and mother of a family to do so;had notthe smallest remorse or compunction for thevictimwhom her tongue was immolating; nayvery likelythoughther act was quite meritoriousand plumedherselfupon her resolute manner of performing it.  Yesif a man'scharacter is to be abusedsay what you willthere'snobody like a relation to do the business.  And oneis boundto ownregarding this unfortunate wretch of aRawdonCrawleythat the mere truth was enough tocondemnhimand that all inventions of scandal were quitesuperfluouspains on his friends' parts.

 

Rebeccatoobeing now a relativecame in for thefullestshare of Mrs. Bute's kind inquiries.  This indefatigablepursuer oftruth (having given strict orders that thedoor wasto be denied to all emissaries or lettersfromRawdon)took Miss Crawley's carriageand droveto her oldfriend Miss Pinkertonat Minerva HouseChiswickMallto whom she announced the dreadfulintelligenceof Captain Rawdon's seduction by Miss Sharpand fromwhom she got sundry strange particularsregardingthe ex-governess's birth and early history.  Thefriend ofthe Lexicographer had plenty of informationto give. Miss Jemima was made to fetch the drawing-master'sreceipts and letters.  This one was from aspunging-house:that entreated an advance: another wasfull ofgratitude for Rebecca's reception by the ladies ofChiswick:and the last document from the unlucky artist'spen wasthat in whichfrom his dying bedhe recommendedhis orphanchild to Miss Pinkerton's protection.  Therewerejuvenile letters and petitions from Rebeccatoointhecollectionimploring aid for her father or declaringher owngratitude.  Perhaps in Vanity Fair there are nobettersatires than letters.  Take a bundle of your dearfriend'sof ten years back--your dear friend whom youhate now. Look at a file of your sister's! how you clungto eachother till you quarrelled about the twenty-poundlegacy! Get down the round-hand scrawls of your sonwho hashalf broken your heart with selfish undutifulnesssince; ora parcel of your ownbreathing endlessardour andlove eternalwhich were sent back by yourmistresswhen she married the Nabob--your mistress forwhom younow care no more than for Queen Elizabeth.Vowslovepromisesconfidencesgratitudehow queerlythey readafter a while!  There ought to be a law inVanityFair ordering the destruction of every writtendocument(except receipted tradesmen's bills) after acertainbrief and proper interval.  Those quacks andmisanthropeswho advertise indelible Japan ink should bemade toperish along with their wicked discoveries.  Thebest inkfor Vanity Fair use would be one that fadedutterly ina couple of daysand left the paper clean andblanksothat you might write on it to somebody else.

 

From MissPinkerton's the indefatigable Mrs. Butefollowedthe track of Sharp and his daughter back to thelodgingsin Greek Streetwhich the defunct painter hadoccupied;and where portraits of the landlady in whitesatinandof the husband in brass buttonsdone by Sharpin lieu ofa quarter's rentstill decorated the parlourwalls. Mrs. Stokes was a communicative personandquicklytold all she knew about Mr. Sharp; how dissoluteand poorhe was; how good-natured and amusing; how hewas alwayshunted by bailiffs and duns; howto the landlady's horrorthough shenever could abide the womanhe did notmarry his wife till a short time before herdeath; andwhat a queer little wild vixen his daughterwas; howshe kept them all laughing with her fun andmimicry;how she used to fetch the gin from the public-houseand wasknown in all the studios in the quarter--in briefMrs. Butegot such a full account of her new niece'sparentageeducationand behaviour as wouldscarcelyhave pleased Rebeccahad the latter known thatsuchinquiries were being made concerning her.

 

Of allthese industrious researches Miss Crawley hadthe fullbenefit.  Mrs. Rawdon Crawley was the daughterof anopera-girl.  She had danced herself.  She had been amodel tothe painters.  She was brought up as becamehermother's daughter.  She drank gin with her father&c.&c. It was a lost woman who was married to a lostman; andthe moral to be inferred from Mrs. Bute'stale wasthat the knavery of the pair was irremediableand thatno properly conducted person should ever noticethemagain.

 

These werethe materials which prudent Mrs. Butegatheredtogether in Park Lanethe provisions andammunitionas it were with which she fortified the houseagainstthe siege which she knew that Rawdon and hiswife wouldlay to Miss Crawley.

 

But if afault may be found with her arrangementsitis thisthat she was too eager: she managed rather toowell;undoubtedly she made Miss Crawley more ill thanwasnecessary; and though the old invalid succumbedto herauthorityit was so harassing and severethat thevictimwould be inclined to escape at the very first chancewhich fellin her way.  Managing womenthe ornamentsof theirsex--women who order everything for everybodyand knowso much better than any person concernedwhat isgood for their neighboursdon't sometimesspeculateupon the possibility of a domestic revoltorupon otherextreme consequences resulting from theiroverstrainedauthority.

 

ThusforinstanceMrs. Butewith the best intentionsno doubtin the worldand wearing herself to death asshe did byforegoing sleepdinnerfresh airfor the sakeof herinvalid sister-in-lawcarried her conviction of theold lady'sillness so far that she almost managed herinto hercoffin.  She pointed out her sacrifices and theirresultsone day to the constant apothecaryMr. Clump.

 

"I amsuremy dear Mr. Clump" she said"no effortsof minehave been wanting to restore our dear invalidwhom theingratitude of her nephew has laid on the bedofsickness.  I never shrink from personal discomfort: Ineverrefuse to sacrifice myself."

 

"Yourdevotionit must be confessedis admirable"Mr. Clumpsayswith a low bow; "but--"

 

"Ihave scarcely closed my eyes since my arrival: Igive upsleephealthevery comfortto my sense of duty.When mypoor James was in the smallpoxdid I allow anyhirelingto nurse him?  No."

 

"Youdid what became an excellent mothermy dearMadam--thebest of mothers; but--~'

 

"Asthe mother of a family and the wife of an EnglishclergymanI humbly trust that my principles are good"Mrs. Butesaidwith a happy solemnity of conviction;"andas long as Nature supports meneverneverMr.Clumpwill I desert the post of duty.  Others may bringthat greyhead with sorrow to the bed of sickness (hereMrs. Butewaving her handpointed to one of old MissCrawley'scoffee-coloured frontswhich was perched ona stand inthe dressing-room)but I will never quit it.AhMr.Clump!  I fearI knowthat the couch needsspiritualas well as medical consolation."

 

"WhatI was going to observemy dear Madam"--here theresolute Clump once more interposed with ablandair--"what I was going to observe when you gaveutteranceto sentiments which do you so much honourwas that Ithink you alarm yourself needlessly about ourkindfriendand sacrifice your own health too prodigallyin herfavour."

 

"Iwould lay down my life for my dutyor for anymember ofmy husband's family" Mrs. Bute interposed.

 

"YesMadamif need were; but we don't want MrsButeCrawley to be a martyr" Clump said gallantly.  "DrSquillsand myself have both considered Miss Crawley'scase withevery anxiety and careas you may suppose.  Wesee herlow-spirited and nervous; family events haveagitatedher."

 

"Hernephew will come to perdition" Mrs. Crawleycried.

 

"Haveagitated her: and you arrived like a guardianangelmydear Madama positive guardian angelIassureyouto soothe her under the pressure of calamity.But Dr.Squills and I were thinking that our amiablefriend isnot in such a state as renders confinement to herbednecessary.  She is depressedbut this confinementperhapsadds to her depression.  She should have changefresh airgaiety; the most delightful remedies in thepharmacopoeia"Mr. Clump saidgrinning and showinghishandsome teeth.  "Persuade her to risedear Madam;drag herfrom her couch and her low spirits; insist uponher takinglittle drives.  They will restore the roses too toyourcheeksif I may so speak to Mrs. Bute Crawley."

 

"Thesight of her horrid nephew casually in the Parkwhere I amtold the wretch drives with the brazen partnerof hiscrimes" Mrs. Bute said (letting the cat of selfishnessout of thebag of secrecy)"would cause her sucha shockthat we should have to bring her back to bedagain. She must not go outMr. Clump.  She shall not goout aslong as I remain to watch over her; And as for myhealthwhat matters it?  I give it cheerfullysir.  I sacrificeit at thealtar of my duty."

 

"Uponmy wordMadam" Mr. Clump now said bluntly"Iwon't answer for her life if she remains locked upin thatdark room.  She is so nervous that we may loseher anyday; and if you wish Captain Crawley to be herheirIwarn you franklyMadamthat you are doingyour verybest to serve him."

 

"Graciousmercy! is her life in danger?" Mrs. Butecried. "WhywhyMr. Clumpdid you not inform mesooner?"

 

The nightbeforeMr. Clump and Dr. Squills had had aconsultation(over a bottle of wine at the house of SirLapinWarrenwhose lady was about to present himwith athirteenth blessing)regarding Miss Crawley andher case.

 

"Whata little harpy that woman from Hampshire isClump"Squills remarked"that has seized upon oldTillyCrawley.  Devilish good Madeira."

 

"Whata fool Rawdon Crawley has been" Clump replied"togo and marry a governess!  There was somethingabout thegirltoo."

 

"Greeneyesfair skinpretty figurefamous frontaldevelopment"Squills remarked.  "There is somethingabout her;and Crawley was a foolSquills."

 

"Ad-- fool--always was" the apothecary replied.

 

"Ofcourse the old girl will fling him over" said thephysicianand after a pause added"She'll cut up wellIsuppose."

 

"Cutup" says Clump with a grin; "I wouldn't have hercut up fortwo hundred a year."

 

"ThatHampshire woman will kill her in two monthsClumpmyboyif she stops about her" Dr. Squills said."Oldwoman; full feeder; nervous subject; palpitation ofthe heart;pressure on the brain; apoplexy; off she goes.Get herupClump; get her out: or I wouldn't give manyweeks'purchase for your two hundred a year." And it wasactingupon this hint that the worthy apothecary spokewith somuch candour to Mrs. Bute Crawley.

 

Having theold lady under her hand: in bed: with nobodynearMrs.Bute had made more than one assaultupon herto induce her to alter her will.  But Miss Crawley'susualterrors regarding death increased greatly whensuchdismal propositions were made to herand Mrs.Bute sawthat she must get her patient into cheerful spiritsand healthbefore she could hope to attain the pious objectwhich shehad in view.  Whither to take her was thenextpuzzle.  The only place where she is not likely tomeet thoseodious Rawdons is at churchand that won'tamuse herMrs. Bute justly felt.  "We must go and visitourbeautiful suburbs of London" she then thought.  "Ihear theyare the most picturesque in the world"; and soshe had asudden interest for Hampsteadand Hornseyand foundthat Dulwich had great charms for herandgettingher victim into her carriagedrove her to thoserusticspotsbeguiling the little journeys with conversationsaboutRawdon and his wifeand telling every storyto the oldlady which could add to her indignation againstthis pairof reprobates.

 

PerhapsMrs. Bute pulled the string unnecessarily tight.For thoughshe worked up Miss Crawley to a proper dislikeof herdisobedient nephewthe invalid had a greathatred andsecret terror of her victimizerand pantedto escapefrom her.  After a brief spaceshe rebelledagainstHighgate and Hornsey utterly.  She would go intothe Park. Mrs. Bute knew they would meet the abominableRawdonthereand she was right.  One day in theringRawdon's stanhope came in sight; Rebecca wasseated byhim.  In the enemy's equipage Miss Crawleyoccupiedher usual placewith Mrs. Bute on her leftthepoodle andMiss Briggs on the back seat.  It was a nervousmomentand Rebecca's heart beat quick as she recognized thecarriage;and as the two vehicles crossed eachother in alineshe clasped her handsand looked towardsthespinster with a face of agonized attachment and devotion.Rawdonhimself trembledand his face grew purplebehind hisdyed mustachios.  Only old Briggs was movedin theother carriageand cast her great eyes nervouslytowardsher old friends.  Miss Crawley's bonnet was resolutelyturnedtowards the Serpentine.  Mrs. Bute happened tobe inecstasies with the poodleand was calling him a littledarlingand a sweet little zoggyand a pretty pet.  Thecarriagesmoved oneach in his line.

 

"Doneby Jove" Rawdon said to his wife.

 

"Tryonce moreRawdon" Rebecca answered.  "Couldnot youlock your wheels into theirsdearest?"

 

Rawdon hadnot the heart for that manoeuvre.  Whenthecarriages met againhe stood up in his stanhope; heraised hishand ready to doff his hat; he looked with allhis eyes. But this time Miss Crawley's face was not turnedaway; sheand Mrs. Bute looked him full in the faceand cuttheir nephew pitilessly.  He sank back in his seatwith anoathand striking out of the ringdashed awaydesperatelyhomewards.

 

It was agallant and decided triumph for Mrs. Bute.But shefelt the danger of many such meetingsas shesaw theevident nervousness of Miss Crawley; and shedeterminedthat it was most necessary for her dearfriend'shealththat they should leave town for a whileandrecommended Brighton very strongly.

 

 

 

 

CHAPTER XXInWhich Captain Dobbin Acts as the Messenger of Hymen

 

Withoutknowing howCaptain William Dobbin foundhimselfthe great promoterarrangerand manager of thematchbetween George Osborne and Amelia.  But for himit neverwould have taken place:  he could not butconfess asmuch to himselfand smiled rather bitterly as hethoughtthat he of all men in the world should be thepersonupon whom the care of this marriage had fallen.But thoughindeed the conducting of this negotiation wasabout aspainful a task as could be set to himyet whenhe had aduty to performCaptain Dobbin was accustomedto gothrough it without many words or muchhesitation: andhaving made up his mind completelythat ifMiss Sedley was balked of her husband she woulddie of thedisappointmenthe was determined to use allhis bestendeavours to keep her alive.

 

I forbearto enter into minute particulars of the interviewbetweenGeorge and Ameliawhen the former wasbroughtback to the feet (or should we venture to say thearms?) ofhis young mistress by the intervention of hisfriendhonest William.  A much harder heart thanGeorge'swould have melted at the sight of that sweetface sosadly ravaged by grief and despairand at thesimpletender accents in which she told her little broken-heartedstory: but as she did not faint when her mothertremblingbrought Osborne to her; and as she only gaverelief toher overcharged griefby laying her head onherlover's shoulder and there weeping for a while themosttendercopiousand refreshing tears--old Mrs.Sedleytoo greatly relievedthought it was best to leavethe youngpersons to themselves; and so quitted Emmycryingover George's handand kissing it humblyas if hewere hersupreme chief and masterand as if she werequite aguilty and unworthy person needing every favourand gracefrom him.

 

Thisprostration and sweet unrepining obedienceexquisitelytouched and flattered George Osborne.  He saw aslavebefore him in that simple yielding faithful creatureand hissoul within him thrilled secretly somehowat theknowledge of his power.  He would be generous-mindedSultan as he wasand raise up this kneelingEsther andmake a queen of her:  besidesher sadnessand beautytouched him as much as her submissionandso hecheered herand raised her up and forgave hersoto speak. All her hopes and feelingswhich were dyingandwitheringthis her sun having been removed fromherbloomed again and at onceits light being restored.You wouldscarcely have recognised the beaming littleface uponAmelia's pillow that night as the one that waslaid therethe night beforeso wanso lifelesssocarelessof all round about.  The honest Irish maid-servantdelightedwith the changeasked leave to kiss the facethat hadgrown all of a sudden so rosy.  Amelia put herarms roundthe girl's neck and kissed her with all herheartlike a child.  She was little more.  She had that nighta sweetrefreshing sleeplike one--and what a spring ofinexpressiblehappiness as she woke in the morning sunshine!

 

"Hewill be here again to-day" Amelia thought.  "He isthegreatest and best of men."  And the fact isthatGeorgethought he was one of the generousest creaturesalive: andthat he was making a tremendous sacrifice inmarryingthis young creature.

 

While sheand Osborne were having their delightfultete-a-teteabove stairsold Mrs. Sedley and CaptainDobbinwere conversing below upon the state of theaffairsand the chances and future arrangements of theyoungpeople.  Mrs. Sedley having brought the two loverstogetherand left them embracing each other with all theirmightlike a true womanwas of opinion that no poweron earthwould induce Mr. Sedley to consent to the matchbetweenhis daughter and the son of a man who had soshamefullywickedlyand monstrously treated him.  Andshe told along story about happier days and their earliersplendourswhen Osborne lived in a very humble way inthe NewRoadand his wife was too glad to receive someof Jos'slittle baby thingswith which Mrs. Sedleyaccommodatedher at the birth of one of Osborne's ownchildren. The fiendish ingratitude of that manshe wassurehadbroken Mr. S.'s heart: and as for a marriagehe wouldnevernevernevernever consent.

 

"Theymust run away togetherMa'am" Dobbin saidlaughing"and follow the example of Captain RawdonCrawleyand Miss Emmy's friend the little governess."Was itpossible? Well she never!  Mrs. Sedley was allexcitementabout this news.  She wished that Blenkinsop werehere tohear it:  Blenkinsop always mistrusted that MissSharp.--Whatan escape Jos had had! and she describedthealready well-known love-passages between Rebecca andtheCollector of Boggley Wollah.

 

It wasnothoweverMr. Sedley's wrath which Dobbinfearedsomuch as that of the other parent concernedand heowned that he had a very considerable doubtandanxiety respecting the behaviour of the black-browedold tyrantof a Russia merchant in Russell Square.  Hehasforbidden the match peremptorilyDobbin thought.He knewwhat a savage determined man Osborne wasandhow hestuck by his word.  The only chance George hasofreconcilement" argued his friend"is by distinguishinghimself inthe coming campaign.  If he dies they both gotogether. If he fails in distinction--what then?  He hassome moneyfrom his motherI have heard enough topurchasehis majority--or he must sell out and go anddig inCanadaor rough it in a cottage in the country."With sucha partner Dobbin thought he would not mindSiberia--andstrange to saythis absurd and utterlyimprudentyoung fellow never for a moment considered thatthe wantof means to keep a nice carriage and horsesand of anincome which should enable its possessors toentertaintheir friends genteellyought to operate as barsto theunion of George and Miss Sedley.

 

It wasthese weighty considerations which made himthink toothat the marriage should take place as quicklyaspossible.  Was he anxious himselfI wonderto have itover.?--aspeoplewhen death has occurredlike to pressforwardthe funeralor when a parting is resolved uponhastenit.  It is certain that Mr. Dobbinhaving taken thematter inhandwas most extraordinarily eager in theconduct ofit.  He urged on George the necessity of immediateaction: he showed the chances of reconciliation withhisfatherwhich a favourable mention of his name in theGazettemust bring about.  If need were he would go himselfand braveboth the fathers in the business.  At alleventshebesought George to go through with it beforethe orderscamewhich everybody expectedfor thedepartureof the regiment from England on foreign service.

 

Bent uponthese hymeneal projectsand with the applauseandconsent of Mrs. Sedleywho did not care tobreak thematter personally to her husbandMr. Dobbinwent toseek John Sedley at his house of call in the CitytheTapioca Coffee-housewheresince his own officeswere shutupand fate had overtaken himthe poorbroken-downold gentleman used to betake himself dailyand writeletters and receive themand tie them up intomysteriousbundlesseveral of which he carried in theflaps ofhis coat.  I don't know anything more dismal thanthatbusiness and bustle and mystery of a ruined man:  thoselettersfrom the wealthy which he shows you:  those worngreasydocuments promising support and offeringcondolencewhich he places wistfully before youand onwhich hebuilds his hopes of restoration and future fortune.My belovedreader has no doubt in the course ofhisexperience been waylaid by many such a lucklesscompanion. He takes you into the corner; he has his bundleof papersout of his gaping coat pocket; and the tape offand thestring in his mouthand the favourite lettersselectedand laid before you; and who does not know thesad eagerhalf-crazy look which he fixes on you with hishopelesseyes?

 

Changedinto a man of this sortDobbin found theoncefloridjovialand prosperous John Sedley.  Hiscoatthatused to be so glossy and trimwas white at theseamsandthe buttons showed the copper.  His face hadfallen inand was unshorn; his frill and neckcloth hunglimp underhis bagging waistcoat.  When he used to treatthe boysin old days at a coffee-househe would shoutand laughlouder than anybody thereand have all thewaitersskipping round him; it was quite painful to seehow humbleand civil he was to John of the Tapiocaablear-eyedold attendant in dingy stockings and crackedpumpswhose business it was to serve glasses of wafersandbumpers of ink in pewterand slices of paper to thefrequentersof this dreary house of entertainmentwherenothingelse seemed to be consumed.  As for WilliamDobbinwhom he had tipped repeatedly in his youthandwho hadbeen the old gentleman's butt on a thousandoccasionsold Sedley gave his hand to him in a veryhesitatinghumble manner nowand called him "Sir." Afeeling ofshame and remorse took possession of WilliamDobbin asthe broken old man so received and addressedhimas ifhe himself had been somehow guilty of themisfortuneswhich had brought Sedley so low.

 

"I amvery glad to see youCaptain Dobbinsir" saysheaftera skulking look or two at his visitor (whose lankyfigure andmilitary appearance caused some excitementlikewiseto twinkle in the blear eyes of the waiter in thecrackeddancing pumpsand awakened the old lady inblackwhodozed among the mouldy old coffee-cups in thebar). "How is the worthy aldermanand my ladyyourexcellentmothersir?"  He looked round at the waiter ashe said"My lady" as much as to say"Hark yeJohnIhavefriends stilland persons of rank and reputationtoo." "Are you come to do anything in my waysir?  Myyoungfriends Dale and Spiggot do all my business for menowuntilmy new offices are ready; for I'm only heretemporarilyyou knowCaptain.  What can we do for you.sir? Will you like to take anything?"

 

Dobbinwith a great deal of hesitation and stutteringprotestedthat he was not in the least hungry or thirsty;that hehad no business to transact; that he only cameto ask ifMr. Sedley was welland to shake hands withan oldfriend; andhe addedwith a desperate perversionof truth"My mother is very well--that isshe's been veryunwelland is only waiting for the first fine day to go outand callupon Mrs. Sedley.  How is Mrs. Sedleysir?  Ihope she'squite well."  And here he pausedreflecting onhis ownconsummate hypocrisy; for the day was as fineand thesunshine as bright as it ever is in Coffin Courtwhere theTapioca Coffee-house is situated: and Mr.Dobbinremembered that he had seen Mrs. Sedley himselfonly anhour beforehaving driven Osborne down to Fulhamin hisgigand left him there tete-a-tete with Miss Amelia.

 

"Mywife will be very happy to see her ladyship"Sedleyrepliedpulling out his papers.  "I've a very kindletterhere from your fathersirand beg my respectfulcomplimentsto him.  Lady D. will find us in rather asmallerhouse than we were accustomed to receive ourfriendsin; but it's snugand the change of air does goodto mydaughterwho was suffering in town rather--yourememberlittle Emmysir?--yessuffering a good deal."The oldgentleman's eyes were wandering as he spokeandhe wasthinking of something elseas he sate thrummingon hispapers and fumbling at the worn red tape.

 

"You'rea military man" he went on; "I ask youBillDobbincould any man ever have speculated upon thereturn ofthat Corsican scoundrel from Elba?  When thealliedsovereigns were here last yearand we gave 'emthatdinner in the Citysirand we saw the Temple ofConcordand the fireworksand the Chinese bridge inSt.James's Parkcould any sensible man suppose thatpeacewasn't really concludedafter we'd actually sung TeDeum foritsir?  I ask youWilliamcould I suppose thattheEmperor of Austria was a damned traitor--a traitorandnothing more?  I don't mince words--a double-facedinfernaltraitor and schemerwho meant to have his son-in-lawback all along.  And I say that the escape of Boneyfrom Elbawas a damned imposition and plotsirinwhich halfthe powers of Europe were concernedtobring thefunds downand to ruin this country.  That'swhy I'mhereWilliam.  That's why my name's in theGazette. Whysir?--because I trusted the Emperor ofRussia andthe Prince Regent.  Look here.  Look at mypapers. Look what the funds were on the 1st of March--what theFrench fives were when I bought for thecount. And what they're at now.  There was collusionsiror thatvillain never would have escaped.  Where was theEnglishCommissioner who allowed him to get away?  Heought tobe shotsir--brought to a court-martialandshotbyJove."

 

"We'regoing to hunt Boney outsir" Dobbin saidratheralarmed at the fury of the old manthe veins ofwhoseforehead began to swelland who sate drumminghis paperswith his clenched fist.  "We are going to hunthim outsir--the Duke's in Belgium alreadyand weexpectmarching orders every day."

 

"Givehim no quarter.  Bring back the villain's headsir.Shoot thecoward downsir" Sedley roared.  "I'd enlistmyselfby--; but I'm a broken old man--ruined bythatdamned scoundrel--and by a parcel of swindlingthieves inthis country whom I madesirand who arerolling intheir carriages now" he addedwith a break inhis voice.

 

Dobbin wasnot a little affected by the sight of this oncekind oldfriendcrazed almost with misfortune and ravingwithsenile anger.  Pity the fallen gentleman: you to whommoney andfair repute are the chiefest good; and sosurelyare they in Vanity Fair.

 

"Yes"he continued"there are some vipers that youwarmandthey sting you afterwards.  There are somebeggarsthat you put on horsebackand they're the firstto rideyou down.  You know whom I meanWilliamDobbinmyboy.  I mean a purse-proud villain in RussellSquarewhom I knew without a shillingand whom Ipray andhope to see a beggar as he was when Ibefriendedhim."

 

"Ihave heard something of thissirfrom my friendGeorge"Dobbin saidanxious to come to his point.  "Thequarrelbetween you and his father has cut him up a greatdealsir.  IndeedI'm the bearer of a message from him."

 

"OTHAT'S your errandis it?" cried the old manjumpingup.  "What! perhaps he condoles with medoes he?Very kindof himthe stiff-backed prigwith his dandifiedairs andWest End swagger.  He's hankering about myhouseishe still?  If my son had the courage of a manhe'd shoothim.  He's as big a villain as his father.  I won'thave hisname mentioned in my house.  I curse the daythat everI let him into it; and I'd rather see my daughterdead at myfeet than married to him."

 

"Hisfather's harshness is not George's faultsir.  Yourdaughter'slove for him is as much your doing as his.  Whoare youthat you are to play with two young people'saffectionsand break their hearts at your will?"

 

"Recollectit's not his father that breaks the match off"old Sedleycried out.  "It's I that forbid it.  That family andmine areseparated for ever.  I'm fallen lowbut not solow asthat: nono.  And so you may tell the whole race--sonandfather and sistersand all."

 

"It'smy beliefsirthat you have not the power or theright toseparate those two" Dobbin answered in a lowvoice;"and that if you don't give your daughter yourconsent itwill be her duty to marry without it.  There's noreason sheshould die or live miserably because youarewrong-headed.  To my thinkingshe's just as muchmarried asif the banns had been read in all the churches inLondon. And what better answer can there be to Osborne'schargesagainst youas charges there arethanthat hisson claims to enter your family and marry yourdaughter?"

 

A light ofsomething like satisfaction seemed to breakover oldSedley as this point was put to him: but he stillpersistedthat with his consent the marriage betweenAmelia andGeorge should never take place.

 

"Wemust do it without" Dobbin saidsmilingand toldMr.Sedleyas he had told Mrs. Sedley in the daybeforethe storyof Rebecca's elopement with Captain Crawley.  Itevidentlyamused the old gentleman.  "You're terriblefellowsyou Captains" said hetying up his papers; and hisface woresomething like a smile upon itto the astonishmentof theblear-eyed waiter who now enteredand hadnever seensuch an expression upon Sedley's countenancesince hehad used the dismal coffee-house.

 

The ideaof hitting his enemy Osborne such a blowsoothedperhapsthe old gentleman: andtheir colloquypresentlyendinghe and Dobbin parted pretty good friends.

 

"Mysisters say she has diamonds as big as pigeons'eggs"George saidlaughing.  "How they must set off hercomplexion! A perfect illumination it must be when herjewels areon her neck.  Her jet-black hair is as curly asSambo's. I dare say she wore a nose ring when she wentto court;and with a plume of feathers in her top-knotshe wouldlook a perfect Belle Sauvage."

 

Georgeinconversation with Ameliawas rallying theappearanceof a young lady of whom his father and sistershad latelymade the acquaintanceand who was an objectof vastrespect to the Russell Square family.  She was reportedto have Idon't know how many plantations in theWestIndies; a deal of money in the funds; and threestars toher name in the East India stockholders' list.  Shehad amansion in Surreyand a house in Portland Place.The nameof the rich West India heiress had been mentionedwithapplause in the Morning Post.  Mrs. HaggistounColonelHaggistoun's widowher relative"chaperoned"herandkept her house.  She was just from schoolwhereshe hadcompleted her educationand George and hissistershad met her at an evening party at old Hulker'shouseDevonshire Place (HulkerBullockand Co. werelong thecorrespondents of her house in the West Indies)and thegirls had made the most cordial advances to herwhich theheiress had received with great good humour.An orphanin her position--with her money--so interesting!the MissesOsborne said.  They were full of their newfriendwhen they returned from the Hulker ball to MissWirttheir companion; they had made arrangements forcontinuallymeetingand had the carriage and drove to seeher thevery next day.  Mrs. HaggistounColonel Haggistoun'swidowarelation of Lord Binkieand always talkingof himstruck the dear unsophisticated girls as ratherhaughtyand too much inclined to talk about her greatrelations:but Rhoda was everything they could wish--thefrankestkindestmost agreeable creature--wanting alittlepolishbut so good-natured.  The girls Christian-named eachother at once.

 

"Youshould have seen her dress for courtEmmy"Osbornecriedlaughing.  "She came to my sisters to showit offbefore she was presented in state by my LadyBinkiethe Haggistoun's kinswoman.  She's related to everyonethatHaggistoun.  Her diamonds blazed out likeVauxhallon the night we were there.  (Do you rememberVauxhallEmmyand Jos singing to his dearest diddlediddledarling?)  Diamonds and mahoganymy dear!think whatan advantageous contrast--and the whitefeathersin her hair--I mean in her wool.  She hadearringslike chandeliers; you might have lighted 'emupbyJove--and a yellow satin train that streeled afterher likethe tail of a cornet."

 

"Howold is she?" asked Emmyto whom George wasrattlingaway regarding this dark paragonon the morningof theirreunion--rattling away as no other man in theworldsurely could.

 

"Whythe Black Princessthough she has only just leftschoolmust be two or three and twenty.  And you shouldsee thehand she writes!  Mrs. Colonel Haggistoun usuallywrites herlettersbut in a moment of confidenceshe putpen topaper for my sisters; she spelt satin sattingandSaintJames'sSaint Jams."

 

"Whysurely it must be Miss Swartzthe parlourboarder"Emmy saidremembering that good-naturedyoungmulatto girlwho had been so hysterically affectedwhenAmelia left Miss Pinkerton's academy

 

"Thevery name" George said.  "Her father was a GermanJew--aslave-owner they say--connected with theCannibalIslands in some way or other.  He died last yearand MissPinkerton has finished her education.  She canplay twopieces on the piano; she knows three songs;she canwrite when Mrs. Haggistoun is by to spell for her;and Janeand Maria already have got to love her as asister."

 

"Iwish they would have loved me" said Emmywistfully."Theywere always very cold to me."

 

"Mydear childthey would have loved you if you hadhad twohundred thousand pounds" George replied.  "Thatis the wayin which they have been brought up.  Ours isaready-money society.  We live among bankers and Citybig-wigsand be hanged to themand every manas hetalks toyouis jingling his guineas in his pocket.  There isthatjackass Fred Bullock is going to marry Maria--there'sGoldmorethe East India Directorthere's Dipleyin thetallow trade--OUR trade" George saidwith anuneasylaugh and a blush.  "Curse the whole pack of money-grubbingvulgarians!  I fall asleep at their great heavydinners. I feel ashamed in my father's great stupidparties. I've been accustomed to live with gentlemenandmen of theworld and fashionEmmynot with a parcelofturtle-fed tradesmen.  Dear little womanyou are the onlyperson ofour set who ever lookedor thoughtor spokelike alady: and you do it because you're an angel andcan't helpit.  Don't remonstrate.  You are the only lady.Didn'tMiss Crawley remark itwho has lived in thebestcompany in Europe?  And as for Crawleyof the LifeGuardshang ithe's a fine fellow: and I like him formarryingthe girl he had chosen."

 

Ameliaadmired Mr. Crawley very muchtoofor this;andtrusted Rebecca would be happy with himand hoped(with alaugh) Jos would be consoled.  And so the pairwent onprattlingas in quite early days.  Amelia'sconfidencebeing perfectly restored to herthough sheexpresseda great deal of pretty jealousy about Miss Swartzandprofessed to be dreadfully frightened--like a hypocriteas shewas--lest George should forget her for theheiressand her money and her estates in Saint Kitt's.  Butthe factisshe was a great deal too happy to have fearsor doubtsor misgivings of any sort: and having Georgeat herside againwas not afraid of any heiress or beautyor indeedof any sort of danger.

 

WhenCaptain Dobbin came back in the afternoon tothesepeople--which he did with a great deal of sympathyforthem--it did his heart good to see how Amelia hadgrownyoung again--how she laughedand chirpedandsangfamiliar old songs at the pianowhich were onlyinterruptedby the bell from without proclaiming Mr.Sedley'sreturn from the Citybefore whom George received asignal toretreat.

 

Beyond thefirst smile of recognition--and even that wasanhypocrisyfor she thought his arrival rather provoking--MissSedley did not once notice Dobbin during hisvisit. But he was contentso that he saw her happy; andthankfulto have been the means of making her so.

 

 

 

 

CHAPTERXXIAQuarrel About an Heiress

 

Love maybe felt for any young lady endowed with suchqualitiesas Miss Swartz possessed; and a great dream ofambitionentered into old Mr. Osborne's soulwhich shewas torealize.  He encouragedwith the utmost enthusiasmandfriendlinesshis daughters' amiable attachment to theyoungheiressand protested that it gave him the sincerestpleasureas a father to see the love of his girls so well disposed.

 

"Youwon't find" he would say to Miss Rhoda"thatsplendourand rank to which you are accustomed at theWest Endmy dear Missat our humble mansion in RussellSquare. My daughters are plaindisinterested girlsbuttheirhearts are in the right placeand they've conceivedanattachment for you which does them honour--I saywhich doesthem honour.  I'm a plainsimplehumbleBritishmerchant--an honest oneas my respected friendsHulker andBullock will vouchwho were the correspondentsof yourlate lamented father.  You'll find us aunitedsimplehappyand I think I may say respectedfamily--aplain tablea plain peoplebut a warm welcomemy dearMiss Rhoda--Rhodalet me sayfor myheartwarms to youit does really.  I'm a frank manandI likeyou.  A glass of Champagne!  HicksChampagne toMissSwartz."

 

There islittle doubt that old Osborne believed all hesaidandthat the girls were quite earnest in theirprotestationsof affection for Miss Swartz.  People in VanityFairfasten on to rich folks quite naturally.  If the simplestpeople aredisposed to look not a little kindly ongreatProsperity (for I defy any member of the Britishpublic tosay that the notion of Wealth has not somethingawful andpleasing to him; and youif you are told thatthe mannext you at dinner has got half a millionnot tolook athim with a certain interest)--if the simple lookbenevolentlyon moneyhow much more do your oldworldlingsregard it!  Their affections rush out to meet andwelcomemoney.  Their kind sentiments awaken spontaneouslytowardsthe interesting possessors of it.  I knowsomerespectable people who don't consider themselvesat libertyto indulge in friendship for any individual whohas not acertain competencyor place in society.  Theygive aloose to their feelings on proper occasions.  Andthe proofisthat the major part of the Osborne familywho hadnotin fifteen yearsbeen able to get up aheartyregard for Amelia Sedleybecame as fond of MissSwartz inthe course of a single evening as the mostromanticadvocate of friendship at first sight could desire.

 

What amatch for George she'd be (the sisters andMiss Wirtagreed)and how much better than thatinsignificantlittle Amelia!  Such a dashing young fellow ashe iswith his good looksrankand accomplishmentswould bethe very husband for her.  Visions of balls inPortlandPlacepresentations at Courtand introductionsto halfthe peeragefilled the minds of the young ladies;who talkedof nothing but George and his grandacquaintancesto their beloved new friend.

 

OldOsborne thought she would be a great matchtoofor hisson.  He should leave the army; he should go intoParliament;he should cut a figure in the fashion and inthestate.  His blood boiled with honest British exultationas he sawthe name of Osborne ennobled in the personof hissonand thought that he might be the progenitor ofa gloriousline of baronets.  He worked in the City and on'Changeuntil he knew everything relating to the fortuneof theheiresshow her money was placedand where herestateslay.  Young Fred Bullockone of his chief informantswould haveliked to make a bid for her himself(it was sothe young banker expressed it)only he wasbooked toMaria Osborne.  But not being able to secureher as awifethe disinterested Fred quite approved of heras asister-in-law.  "Let George cut in directly and winher"was his advice.  "Strike while the iron's hotyouknow--whileshe's fresh to the town: in a few weekssome d--fellow from the West End will come in with atitle anda rotten rent-roll and cut all us City men outasLordFitzrufus did last year with Miss Grogramwho wasactuallyengaged to Podderof Podder & Brown's.  Thesooner itis done the betterMr. Osborne; them's mysentiments"the wag said; thoughwhen Osborne had leftthe bankparlourMr. Bullock remembered Ameliaandwhat apretty girl she wasand how attached to GeorgeOsborne;and he gave up at least ten seconds of hisvaluabletime to regretting the misfortune which hadbefallenthat unlucky young woman.

 

While thusGeorge Osborne's good feelingsand hisgoodfriend and geniusDobbinwere carrying back thetruant toAmelia's feetGeorge's parent and sisters werearrangingthis splendid match for himwhich they neverdreamed hewould resist.

 

When theelder Osborne gave what he called "a hint"there wasno possibility for the most obtuse to mistakehismeaning.  He called kicking a footman downstairs ahint tothe latter to leave his service.  With his usualfranknessand delicacy he told Mrs. Haggistoun that hewould giveher a cheque for five thousand pounds on theday hisson was married to her ward; and called thatproposal ahintand considered it a very dexterous pieceofdiplomacy.  He gave George finally such another hintregardingthe heiress; and ordered him to marry her outof handas he would have ordered his butler to draw acorkorhis clerk to write a letter.

 

Thisimperative hint disturbed George a good deal.  Hewas in thevery first enthusiasm and delight of his secondcourtshipof Ameliawhich was inexpressibly sweetto him. The contrast of her manners and appearance withthose ofthe heiressmade the idea of a union with thelatterappear doubly ludicrous and odious.  Carriages andopera-boxesthought he; fancy being seen in them by theside ofsuch a mahogany charmer as that!  Add to allthat thejunior Osborne was quite as obstinate as thesenior:when he wanted a thingquite as firm in hisresolutionto get it; and quite as violent when angeredas hisfather in his most stern moments.

 

On thefirst day when his father formally gave him thehint thathe was to place his affections at Miss Swartz'sfeetGeorge temporised with the old gentleman.  "Youshouldhave thought of the matter soonersir" he said."Itcan't be done nowwhen we're expecting every dayto go onforeign service.  Wait till my returnif I doreturn";and then he representedthat the time when theregimentwas daily expecting to quit Englandwasexceedinglyill-chosen: that the few days or weeks duringwhich theywere still to remain at homemust bedevoted tobusiness and not to love-making: time enoughfor thatwhen he came home with his majority; "forIpromiseyou" said hewith a satisfied air"that oneway orother you shall read the name of George Osbornein theGazette."

 

Thefather's reply to this was founded upon theinformationwhich he had got in the City: that the WestEnd chapswould infallibly catch hold of the heiress ifany delaytook place: that if he didn't marry Miss S.hemight atleast have an engagement in writingto comeintoeffect when he returned to England; and that a manwho couldget ten thousand a year by staying at homewas a foolto risk his life abroad.

 

"Sothat you would have me shown up as a cowardsirand ourname dishonoured for the sake of Miss Swartz'smoney"George interposed.

 

Thisremark staggered the old gentleman; but as hehad toreply to itand as his mind was neverthelessmade uphe said"You will dine here to-morrowsirand everyday Miss Swartz comesyou will be here topay yourrespects to her.  If you want for moneycallupon Mr.Chopper." Thus a new obstacle was in George'swaytointerfere with his plans regarding Amelia; andaboutwhich he and Dobbin had more than one confidentialconsultation. His friend's opinion respecting theline ofconduct which he ought to pursuewe knowalready. And as for Osbornewhen he was once bent on athingafresh obstacle or two only rendered him themoreresolute.

 

The darkobject of the conspiracy into which the chiefsof theOsborne family had enteredwas quite ignorant ofall theirplans regarding her (whichstrange to sayherfriend andchaperon did not divulge)andtaking all theyoungladies' flattery for genuine sentimentand beingas we havebefore had occasion to showof a verywarm andimpetuous natureresponded to their affectionwith quitea tropical ardour.  And if the truth may be toldI dare saythat she too had some selfish attraction in theRussellSquare house; and in a wordthought GeorgeOsborne avery nice young man.  His whiskers had madeanimpression upon heron the very first night shebeheldthem at the ball at Messrs. Hulkers; andas weknowshewas not the first woman who had beencharmed bythem.  George had an air at once swaggeringandmelancholylanguid and fierce.  He looked like aman whohad passionssecretsand private harrowinggriefs andadventures.  His voice was rich and deep.  Hewould sayit was a warm eveningor ask his partner totake anicewith a tone as sad and confidential as if hewerebreaking her mother's death to heror preluding adeclarationof love.  He trampled over all the young bucksof hisfather's circleand was the hero among thosethird-ratemen.  Some few sneered at him and hated him.SomelikeDobbinfanatically admired him.  And his whiskershad begunto do their workand to curl themselvesround theaffections of Miss Swartz.

 

Wheneverthere was a chance of meeting him in RussellSquarethat simple and good-natured young womanwas quitein a flurry to see her dear Misses Osborne.  Shewent togreat expenses in new gownsand braceletsandbonnetsand in prodigious feathers.  She adorned herpersonwith her utmost skill to please the Conquerorandexhibited all her simple accomplishments to win hisfavour. The girls would ask herwith the greatestgravityfor a little musicand she would sing her threesongs andplay her two little pieces as often as evertheyaskedand with an always increasing pleasure toherself. During these delectable entertainmentsMissWirt andthe chaperon sate byand conned over thepeerageand talked about the nobility.

 

The dayafter George had his hint from his fatheranda shorttime before the hour of dinnerhe was lollingupon asofa in the drawing-room in a very becomingandperfectly natural attitude of melancholy.  He hadbeenathis father's requestto Mr. Chopper in the City(theold-gentlemanthough he gave great sums to hissonwouldnever specify any fixed allowance for himandrewarded him only as he was in the humour).  Hehad thenbeen to pass three hours with Ameliahisdearlittle Ameliaat Fulham; and he came home tofind hissisters spread in starched muslin in the drawing-roomthedowagers cackling in the backgroundandhonestSwartz in her favourite amber-coloured satinwithturquoisebraceletscountless ringsflowersfeathersandall sortsof tags and gimcracksabout as elegantlydecoratedas a she chimney-sweep on May-day.

 

The girlsafter vain attempts to engage him in conversationtalkedabout fashions and the last drawing-roomuntil hewas perfectly sick of their chatter.  Hecontrastedtheir behaviour with little Emmy's--theirshrillvoices with her tender ringing tones; their attitudesand theirelbows and their starchwith her humble softmovementsand modest graces.  Poor Swartz was seatedin a placewhere Emmy had been accustomed to sit.Herbejewelled hands lay sprawling in her amber satinlap. Her tags and ear-rings twinkledand her big eyesrolledabout.  She was doing nothing with perfect contentmentandthinking herself charming.  Anything so becomingas thesatin the sisters had never seen.

 

"Dammy"George said to a confidential friend"shelookedlike a China dollwhich has nothing to do all daybut togrin and wag its head.  By JoveWillit was all II could doto prevent myself from throwing the sofa-cushion ather." He restrained that exhibition ofsentimenthowever.

 

Thesisters began to play the Battle of Prague.  "Stopthat d--thing" George howled out in a fury from thesofa. "It makes me mad.  You play us somethingMissSwartzdo.  Sing somethinganything but the Battle ofPrague."

 

"ShallI sing 'Blue Eyed Mary' or the air from theCabinet?"Miss Swartz asked.

 

"Thatsweet thing from the Cabinet" the sisters said.

 

"We'vehad that" replied the misanthrope on the sofa

 

"Ican sing 'Fluvy du Tajy' " Swartz saidin a meekvoice"ifI had the words." It was the last of the worthyyoungwoman's collection.

 

"O'Fleuve du Tage' " Miss Maria cried; "we have thesong"and went off to fetch the book in which it was.

 

Now ithappened that this songthen in the height ofthefashionhad been given to the young ladies by a youngfriend oftheirswhose name was on the titleand MissSwartzhaving concluded the ditty with George's applause(for heremembered that it was a favourite of Amelia's)was hopingfor an encore perhapsand fiddling with theleaves ofthe musicwhen her eye fell upon the titleandshe saw"Amelia Sedley" written in the comer.

 

"Lor!"cried Miss Swartzspinning swiftly round onthemusic-stool"is it my Amelia?  Amelia that was atMiss P.'sat Hammersmith?  I know it is.  It's her.  and--Tell meabout her--where is she?"

 

"Don'tmention her" Miss Maria Osborne saidhastily. "Her family has disgraced itself.  Her fathercheatedPapaand as for hershe is never to be mentionedHERE."This was Miss Maria's return for George'srudenessabout the Battle of Prague.

 

"Areyou a friend of Amelia's?" George saidbouncingup. "God bless you for itMiss Swartz.  Don't believewhatthegirls say.  SHE'S not to blame at any rate.She's thebest--"

 

"Youknow you're not to speak about herGeorge"criedJane.  "Papa forbids it."

 

"Who'sto prevent me?" George cried out.  "I will speakof her. I say she's the bestthe kindestthe gentlestthesweetestgirl in England; and thatbankrupt or nomysistersare not fit to hold candles to her.  If you like hergo and seeherMiss Swartz; she wants friends now; andI sayGodbless everybody who befriends her.  Anybodywho speakskindly of her is my friend; anybody whospeaksagainst her is my enemy.  Thank youMiss Swartz";and hewent up and wrung her hand.

 

"George!George!" one of the sisters cried imploringly.

 

"Isay" George said fiercely"I thank everybody wholovesAmelia Sed--" He stopped.  Old Osborne was inthe roomwith a face livid with rageand eyes like hotcoals.

 

ThoughGeorge had stopped in his sentenceyethisbloodbeing uphe was not to be cowed by all thegenerationsof Osborne; rallying instantlyhe replied tothebullying look of his fatherwith another so indicativeofresolution and defiance that the elder man quailed inhis turnand looked away.  He felt that the tussle wascoming. "Mrs. Haggistounlet me take you down to dinner"he said. "Give your arm to Miss SwartzGeorge"and theymarched.

 

"MissSwartzI love Ameliaand we've been engagedalmost allour lives" Osborne said to his partner; andduring allthe dinnerGeorge rattled on with a volubilitywhichsurprised himselfand made his father doublynervousfor the fight which was to take place as soon asthe ladieswere gone.

 

Thedifference between the pair wasthat while thefather wasviolent and a bullythe son had thrice thenerve andcourage of the parentand could not merelymake anattackbut resist it; and finding that the momentwas nowcome when the contest between him andhis fatherwas to be decidedhe took his dinner withperfectcoolness and appetite before the engagementbegan. Old Osborneon the contrarywas nervousanddrankmuch.  He floundered in his conversation with theladieshis neighbours: George's coolness only renderinghim moreangry.  It made him half mad to see the calmway inwhich Georgeflapping his napkinand with aswaggeringbowopened the door for the ladies to leavethe room;and filling himself a glass of winesmacked itand lookedhis father full in the faceas if to say"Gentlemenof the Guardfire first." The old man also took asupply ofammunitionbut his decanter clinked againstthe glassas he tried to fill it.

 

Aftergiving a great heaveand with a purple chokingfacehethen began.  "How dare yousirmention thatperson'sname before Miss Swartz to-dayin my drawing-room? Iask yousirhow dare you do it?"

 

"Stopsir" says George"don't say daresir.  Dareisn't aword to be used to a Captain in the British Army."

 

"Ishall say what I like to my sonsir.  I can cut him offwith ashilling if I like.  I can make him a beggar if I like.I WILL saywhat I like" the elder said.

 

"I'ma gentleman though I AM your sonsir" Georgeansweredhaughtily.  "Any communications which youhave tomake to meor any orders which you mayplease togiveI beg may be couched in that kind oflanguagewhich I am accustomed to hear."

 

Wheneverthe lad assumed his haughty manneritalwayscreated either great awe or great irritation in theparent. Old Osborne stood in secret terror of his son as abettergentleman than himself; and perhaps my readersmay haveremarked in their experience of this Vanity Fairof oursthat there is no character which a low-mindedman somuch mistrusts as that of a gentleman.

 

"Myfather didn't give me the education you have hadnor theadvantages you have hadnor the money youhave had. If I had kept the company SOME FOLKS havehadthrough MY MEANSperhaps my son wouldn't haveany reasonto bragsirof his SUPERIORITY and WEST ENDAIRS(these words were uttered in the elder Osborne'smostsarcastic tones).  But it wasn't considered the partof agentlemanin MY timefor a man to insult his father.If I'ddone any such thingmine would have kicked medownstairssir."

 

"Inever insulted yousir.  I said I begged you torememberyour son was a gentleman as well as yourself.I knowvery well that you give me plenty of money"saidGeorge (fingering a bundle of notes which he hadgot in themorning from Mr. Chopper).  "You tell it meoftenenoughsir.  There's no fear of my forgetting it."

 

"Iwish you'd remember other things as wellsir" thesireanswered.  "I wish you'd remember that in this house--so longas you choose to HONOUR it with your COMPANYCaptain--I'mthe masterand that nameand thatthat--thatyou--that I say--"

 

"Thatwhatsir?" George askedwith scarcely a sneerfillinganother glass of claret.

 

"--!"burst out his father with a screaming oath--"thatthe name of those Sedleys never be mentionedheresir--not one of the whole damned lot of 'emsir."

 

"Itwasn't Isirthat introduced Miss Sedley's name.  Itwas mysisters who spoke ill of her to Miss Swartz; andby JoveI'll defend her wherever I go.  Nobody shallspeaklightly of that name in my presence.  Our familyhas doneher quite enough injury alreadyI thinkandmay leaveoff reviling her now she's down.  I'll shoot anyman butyou who says a word against her."

 

"Goonsirgo on" the old gentleman saidhis eyesstartingout of his head.

 

"Goon about whatsir? about the way in which we'vetreatedthat angel of a girl?  Who told me to love her?  Itwas yourdoing.  I might have chosen elsewhereandlookedhigherperhapsthan your society: but I obeyedyou. And now that her heart's mine you give me ordersto flingit awayand punish herkill her perhaps--forthe faultsof other people.  It's a shameby Heavens"saidGeorgeworking himself up into passion andenthusiasmas he proceeded"to play at fast and loose witha younggirl's affections--and with such an angel as that--one sosuperior to the people amongst whom she livedthat shemight have excited envyonly she was so goodandgentlethat it's a wonder anybody dared to hate her.If Idesert hersirdo you suppose she forgets me?"

 

"Iain't going to have any of this dam sentimental nonsenseand humbugheresir" the father cried out.  "Thereshall beno beggar-marriages in my family.  If you chooseto flingaway eight thousand a yearwhich you may havefor theaskingyou may do it: but by Jove you take yourpack andwalk out of this housesir.  Will you do as I tellyouoncefor allsiror will you not?"

 

"Marrythat mulatto woman?" George saidpulling uphisshirt-collars.  "I don't like the coloursir.  Asktheblack thatsweeps opposite Fleet Marketsir.  I'm notgoing tomarry a Hottentot Venus."

 

Mr.Osborne pulled frantically at the cord by which hewasaccustomed to summon the butler when he wantedwine--andalmost black in the faceordered that functionaryto call acoach for Captain Osborne.

 

"I'vedone it" said Georgecoming into the Slaughters'an hourafterwardslooking very pale.

 

"Whatmy boy?" says Dobbin.

 

Georgetold what had passed between his father andhimself.

 

"I'llmarry her to-morrow" he said with an oath.  "Ilove hermore every dayDobbin."

 

 

 

 

CHAPTERXXIIAMarriage and Part of a Honeymoon

 

Enemiesthe most obstinate and courageous can't holdoutagainst starvation; so the elder Osborne felt himselfprettyeasy about his adversary in the encounter we havejustdescribed; and as soon as George's supplies fellshortconfidently expected his unconditional submission.It wasunluckyto be surethat the lad should have secureda stock ofprovisions on the very day when the firstencountertook place; but this relief was only temporaryoldOsborne thoughtand would but delay George'ssurrender. No communication passed between father andson forsome days.  The former was sulky at this silencebut notdisquieted; foras he saidhe knew where hecould putthe screw upon Georgeand only waited theresult ofthat operation.  He told the sisters the upshot ofthedispute between thembut ordered them to take nonotice ofthe matterand welcome George on his returnas ifnothing had happened.  His cover was laid as usualevery dayand perhaps the old gentleman rather anxiouslyexpectedhim; but he never came.  Some one inquiredat theSlaughters' regarding himwhere it was saidthat heand his friend Captain Dobbin had left town.

 

One gustyraw day at the end of April--the rain whippingthepavement of that ancient street where the oldSlaughters'Coffee-house was once situated--George Osbornecame intothe coffee-roomlooking very haggardand pale;although dressed rather smartly in a blue coatand brassbuttonsand a neat buff waistcoat of the fashionof thosedays.  Here was his friend Captain Dobbinin blueand brass toohaving abandoned the militaryfrock andFrench-grey trouserswhich were the usualcoveringsof his lanky person.

 

Dobbin hadbeen in the coffee-room for an hour ormore. He had tried all the papersbut could not readthem. He had looked at the clock many scores of times;and at thestreetwhere the rain was pattering downand thepeople as they clinked by in pattensleft longreflectionson the shining stone: he tattooed at the table:he bit hisnails most completelyand nearly to the quick(he wasaccustomed to ornament his great big hands inthis way):he balanced the tea-spoon dexterously on themilk jug:upset it&c.&c.; and in fact showed thosesigns ofdisquietudeand practised those desperateattemptsat amusementwhich men are accustomed toemploywhen very anxiousand expectantand perturbedin mind.

 

Some ofhis comradesgentlemen who used the roomjoked himabout the splendour of his costume and hisagitationof manner.  One asked him if he was going to bemarried? Dobbin laughedand said he would send hisacquaintance(Major Wagstaff of the Engineers) a piece ofcake whenthat event took place.  At length Captain Osbornemade hisappearancevery smartly dressedbutvery paleand agitated as we have said.  He wiped hispale facewith a large yellow bandanna pocket-handkerchiefthat wasprodigiously scented.  He shook hands withDobbinlooked at the clockand told Johnthe waiterto bringhim some curacao.  Of this cordial he swallowedoff acouple of glasses with nervous eagerness.His friendasked with some interest about his health.

 

"Couldn'tget a wink of sleep till daylightDob" saidhe. "Infernal headache and fever.  Got up at nineandwent downto the Hummums for a bath.  I sayDobI feeljust as Idid on the morning I went out with Rocket atQuebec."

 

"Sodo I" William responded.  "I was a deuced dealmorenervous than you were that morning.  You made afamousbreakfastI remember.  Eat something now."

 

"You'rea good old fellowWill.  I'll drink your healthold boyand farewell to--"

 

"Nono; two glasses are enough" Dobbin interruptedhim. "Heretake away the liqueursJohn.  Have somecayenne-pepperwith your fowl.  Make haste thoughfor itis time wewere there."

 

It wasabout half an hour from twelve when thisbriefmeeting and colloquy took place between the twocaptains. A coachinto which Captain Osborne's servantput hismaster's desk and dressing-casehad been inwaitingfor some time; and into this the two gentlemenhurriedunder an umbrellaand the valet mounted on theboxcursing the rain and the dampness of the coachmanwho wassteaming beside him.  "We shall find a bettertrap thanthis at the church-door" says he; "that's acomfort."And the carriage drove ontaking the roaddownPiccadillywhere Apsley House and St. George'sHospitalwore red jackets still; where there were oil-lamps;where Achilles was not yet born; nor the Pimlicoarchraised; nor the hideous equestrian monster whichpervadesit and the neighbourhood; and so they drovedown byBrompton to a certain chapel near the FulhamRoadthere.

 

A chariotwas in waiting with four horses; likewise acoach ofthe kind called glass coaches.  Only a very fewidlerswere collected on account of the dismal rain.

 

"Hangit!" said George"I said only a pair."

 

"Mymaster would have four" said Mr. Joseph Sedley'sservantwho was in waiting; and he and Mr. Osborne'sman agreedas they followed George and William intothechurchthat it was a "reg'lar shabby turnhout; andwith scarce so much as a breakfast or aweddingfaviour."

 

"Hereyou are" said our old friendJos Sedleycomingforward. "You're five minutes lateGeorgemy boy.What adayeh? Demmyit's like the commencement ofthe rainyseason in Bengal.  But you'll find my carriageiswatertight.  Come alongmy mother and Emmy are in thevestry."

 

Jos Sedleywas splendid.  He was fatter than ever.  Hisshirtcollars were higher; his face was redder; his shirt-frillflaunted gorgeously out of his variegated waistcoat.Varnishedboots were not invented as yet; but the Hessianson hisbeautiful legs shone sothat they must have beentheidentical pair in which the gentleman in the old pictureused toshave himself; and on his light green coattherebloomed a fine wedding favourlike a great whitespreadingmagnolia.

 

In a wordGeorge had thrown the great cast.  He wasgoing tobe married.  Hence his pallor and nervousness--hissleepless night and agitation in the morning.  I haveheardpeople who have gone through the same thingown to thesame emotion.  After three or four ceremoniesyou getaccustomed to itno doubt; but the firstdipeverybody allowsis awful.

 

The bridewas dressed in a brown silk pelisse (asCaptainDobbin has since informed me)and wore a strawbonnetwith a pink ribbon; over the bonnet she had aveil ofwhite Chantilly lacea gift from Mr. Joseph Sedleyherbrother.  Captain Dobbin himself had asked leaveto presenther with a gold chain and watchwhich shesported onthis occasion; and her mother gave her herdiamondbrooch--almost the only trinket which was leftto the oldlady.  As the service went onMrs. Sedley satandwhimpered a great deal in a pewconsoled by theIrishmaid-servant and Mrs. Clapp from the lodgings.Old Sedleywould not be present.  Jos acted for his fathergivingaway the bridewhilst Captain Dobbin stepped upasgroomsman to his friend George.

 

There wasnobody in the church besides the officiatingpersonsand the small marriage party and their attendants.The twovalets sat aloof superciliously.  The raincamerattling down on the windows.  In the intervals oftheservice you heard itand the sobbing of old Mrs.Sedley inthe pew.  The parson's tones echoed sadlythroughthe empty walls.  Osborne's "I will" was soundedin verydeep bass.  Emmy's response came fluttering upto herlips from her heartbut was scarcely heard byanybodyexcept Captain Dobbin.

 

When theservice was completedJos Sedley cameforwardand kissed his sisterthe bridefor the first timefor manymonths--George's look of gloom had goneandhe seemedquite proud and radiant.  "It's your turnWilliam"says heputting his hand fondly upon Dobbin'sshoulder;and Dobbin went up and touched Amelia onthe cheek.

 

Then theywent into the vestry and signed the register."Godbless youOld Dobbin" George saidgrasping himby thehandwith something very like moisture glisteningin hiseyes.  William replied only by nodding his head.His heartwas too full to say much.

 

"Writedirectlyand come down as soon as you canyou know"Osborne said.  After Mrs. Sedley had taken anhystericaladieu of her daughterthe pair went off to thecarriage. "Get out of the wayyou little devils" Georgecried to asmall crowd of damp urchinsthat were hangingabout thechapel-door.  The rain drove into the brideandbridegroom's faces as they passed to the chariot.Thepostilions' favours draggled on their dripping jackets.The fewchildren made a dismal cheeras the carriagesplashingmuddrove away.

 

WilliamDobbin stood in the church-porchlooking at ita queerfigure.  The small crew of spectators jeered him.He was notthinking about them or their laughter.

 

"Comehome and have some tiffinDobbin" a voicecriedbehind him; as a pudgy hand was laid on his shoulderand thehonest fellow's reverie was interrupted.  ButtheCaptain had no heart to go a-feasting with Jos Sedley.He put theweeping old lady and her attendants into thecarriagealong with Josand left them without any fartherwordspassing.  This carriagetoodrove awayand theurchinsgave another sarcastical cheer.

 

"Hereyou little beggars" Dobbin saidgiving somesixpencesamongst themand then went off by himselfthroughthe rain.  It was all over.  They were marriedandhappyheprayed God.  Never since he was a boy had hefelt somiserable and so lonely.  He longed with a heart-sickyearning for the first few days to be overthat hemight seeher again.

 

Some tendays after the above ceremonythree youngmen of ouracquaintance were enjoying that beautifulprospectof bow windows on the one side and blue seaon theotherwhich Brighton affords to the traveller.Sometimesit is towards the ocean--smiling with countlessdimplesspeckled with white sailswith a hundredbathing-machineskissing the skirt of his blue garment--that theLondoner looks enraptured: sometimeson thecontrarya lover of human nature rather than of prospectsof anykindit is towards the bow windows thathe turnsand that swarm of human life which theyexhibit. From one issue the notes of a pianowhich a younglady inringlets practises six hours dailyto the delightof thefellow-lodgers: at anotherlovely Pollythe nurse-maidmaybe seen dandling Master Omnium in her arms:whilstJacobhis papais beheld eating prawnsanddevouringthe Times for breakfastat the window below.Yonder arethe Misses Leerywho are looking out for theyoungofficers of the Heavieswho are pretty sure to bepacing thecliff; or again it is a City manwith a nauticalturnanda telescopethe size of a six-pounderwho hashisinstrument pointed seawardsso as to command everypleasure-boatherring-boator bathing-machine thatcomes toor quitsthe shore&c.&c.  But have we anyleisurefor a description of Brighton?--for BrightonacleanNaples with genteel lazzaroni--for Brightonthatalwayslooks briskgayand gaudylike a harlequin'sjacket--forBrightonwhich used to be seven hoursdistantfrom London at the time of our story; which is nowonly ahundred minutes off; and which may approachwho knowshow much nearerunless Joinville comes anduntimelybombards it?

 

"Whata monstrous fine girl that is in the lodgingsover themilliner's" one of these three promenadersremarkedto the other; "GadCrawleydid you see what awink shegave me as I passed?"

 

"Don'tbreak her heartJosyou rascal" said another."Don'ttrifle with her affectionsyou Don Juan!"

 

"Getaway" said Jos Sedleyquite pleasedand leering upat themaid-servant in question with a most killingogle. Jos was even more splendid at Brighton than he hadbeen athis sister's marriage.  He had brilliant under-waistcoatsany one ofwhich would have set up a moderate buck.He sporteda military frock-coatornamented withfrogsknobsblack buttonsand meandering embroidery.He hadaffected a military appearance and habits of late;and hewalked with his two friendswho were of thatprofessionclinking his boot-spursswaggering prodigiouslyandshooting death-glances at all the servant girlswho wereworthy to be slain.

 

"Whatshall we doboystill the ladies return?" thebuckasked.  The ladies were out to Rottingdean in hiscarriageon a drive.

 

"Let'shave a game at billiards" one of his friendssaid--thetall onewith lacquered mustachios.

 

"Nodammy; noCaptain" Jos repliedratheralarmed. "No billiards to-dayCrawleymy boy;yesterdaywas enough."

 

"Youplay very well" said Crawleylaughing.  "Don'theOsborne? How well he made that-five strokeeh?"

 

"Famous"Osborne said.  "Jos is a devil of a fellowatbilliardsand at everything elsetoo.  I wish there wereanytiger-hunting about here! we might go and kill a fewbeforedinner.  (There goes a fine girl! what an ankleehJos?) Tellus that story about the tiger-huntand theway youdid for him in the jungle--it's a wonderful storythatCrawley." Here George Osborne gave a yawn.  "It'sratherslow work" said he"down here; what shall wedo?"

 

"Shallwe go and look at some horses that Snaffler'sjustbrought from Lewes fair?" Crawley said.

 

"Supposewe go and have some jellies at Dutton's"and therogue Joswilling to kill two birds with onestone. "Devilish fine gal at Dutton's."

 

"Supposewe go and see the Lightning come init'sjust abouttime?" George said.  This advice prevailingover thestables and the jellythey turned towards thecoach-officeto witness the Lightning's arrival.

 

As theypassedthey met the carriage--Jos Sedley'sopencarriagewith its magnificent armorial bearings--thatsplendid conveyance in which he used to driveaboutatCheltonhammajestic and solitarywith his armsfoldedand his hat cocked; ormore happywith ladiesby hisside.

 

Two werein the carriage now: one a little personwithlighthairand dressed in the height of the fashion; theother in abrown silk pelisseand a straw bonnet withpinkribbonswith a rosyroundhappy facethat didyou goodto behold.  She checked the carriage as itneared thethree gentlemenafter which exercise ofauthorityshe looked rather nervousand then began toblush mostabsurdly.  "We have had a delightful driveGeorge"she said"and--and we're so glad to come back;andJosephdon't let him be late."

 

"Don'tbe leading our husbands into mischiefMr.Sedleyyou wickedwicked man you" Rebecca saidshaking atJos a pretty little finger covered with theneatestFrench kid glove.  "No billiardsno smokingnonaughtiness!"

 

"Mydear Mrs. Crawley--Ah now! upon my honour!"was allJos could ejaculate by way of reply; but he managedto fallinto a tolerable attitudewith his head lyingon hisshouldergrinning upwards at his victimwith onehand athis backwhich he supported on his caneandthe otherhand (the one with the diamond ring) fumblingin hisshirt-frill and among his under-waistcoats.  As thecarriagedrove off he kissed the diamond hand to the fairladieswithin.  He wished all Cheltenhamall ChowringheeallCalcuttacould see him in that positionwaving hishand tosuch a beautyand in company with such afamousbuck as Rawdon Crawley of the Guards.

 

Our youngbride and bridegroom had chosen Brightonas theplace where they would pass the first few days aftertheirmarriage; and having engaged apartments at theShip Innenjoyed themselves there in great comfort andquietudeuntil Jos presently joined them.  Nor was hethe onlycompanion they found there.  As they werecominginto the hotel from a sea-side walk one afternoonon whomshould they light but Rebecca and herhusband. The recognition was immediate.  Rebecca flewinto thearms of her dearest friend.  Crawley and Osborneshookhands together cordially enough: and Beckyinthe courseof a very few hoursfound means to make thelatterforget that little unpleasant passage of words whichhadhappened between them.  "Do you remember the lasttime wemet at Miss Crawley'swhen I was so rude toyoudearCaptain Osborne? I thought you seemed carelessabout dearAmelia.  It was that made me angry: andso pert:and so unkind: and so ungrateful.  Do forgiveme!"Rebecca saidand she held out her hand with sofrank andwinning a gracethat Osborne could not buttake it. By humbly and frankly acknowledging yourself tobe in thewrongthere is no knowingmy sonwhat goodyou maydo.  I knew once a gentleman and very worthypractitionerin Vanity Fairwho used to do little wrongsto hisneighbours on purposeand in order to apologisefor themin an open and manly way afterwards--andwhatensued?  My friend Crocky Doyle was liked everywhereand deemedto be rather impetuous--but the honestestfellow. Becky's humility passed for sincerity withGeorgeOsborne.

 

These twoyoung couples had plenty of tales to relateto eachother.  The marriages of either were discussed;and theirprospects in life canvassed with the greatestfranknessand interest on both sides.  George's marriagewas to bemade known to his father by his friendCaptainDobbin; and young Osborne trembled rather for theresult ofthat communication.  Miss Crawleyon whomallRawdon's hopes dependedstill held out.  Unable tomake anentry into her house in Park Laneheraffectionatenephew and niece had followed her toBrightonwhere they had emissaries continually plantedat herdoor.

 

"Iwish you could see some of Rawdon's friends whoare alwaysabout our door" Rebecca saidlaughing.  "Didyou eversee a dunmy dear; or a bailiff and his man?Two of theabominable wretches watched all last weekat thegreengrocer's oppositeand we could not get awayuntilSunday.  If Aunty does not relentwhat shall wedo?"

 

Rawdonwith roars of laughterrelated a dozen amusinganecdotesof his dunsand Rebecca's adroit treatmentof them. He vowed with a great oath that there wasno womanin Europe who could talk a creditor over asshecould.  Almost immediately after their marriageherpracticehad begunand her husband found the immensevalue ofsuch a wife.  They had credit in plentybut theyhad billsalso in abundanceand laboured under a scarcityof readymoney.  Did these debt-difficulties affect Rawdon'sgoodspirits?  No.  Everybody in Vanity Fair musthaveremarked how well those live who are comfortablyandthoroughly in debt: how they deny themselves nothing;how jollyand easy they are in their minds.  Rawdonand hiswife had the very best apartments at the inn atBrighton;the landlordas he brought in the first dishbowedbefore them as to his greatest customers: andRawdonabused the dinners and wine with an audacitywhich nograndee in the land could surpass.  Long customa manlyappearancefaultless boots and clothesand ahappy fierceness of mannerwill often help a manas much asa great balance at the banker's.

 

The twowedding parties met constantly in each other'sapartments. After two or three nights the gentlemen of aneveninghad a little piquetas their wives sate and chattedapart. This pastimeand the arrival of Jos Sedleywhomade hisappearance in his grand open carriageand whoplayed afew games at billiards with Captain CrawleyreplenishedRawdon's purse somewhatand gave him thebenefit ofthat ready money for which the greatest spiritsaresometimes at a stand-still.

 

So thethree gentlemen walked down to see the Lightningcoach comein.  Punctual to the minutethe coachcrowdedinside and outthe guard blowing his accustomedtune onthe horn--the Lightning came tearingdown thestreetand pulled up at the coach-office.

 

"Hullo!there's old Dobbin" George criedquite delightedto see hisold friend perched on the roof; andwhosepromised visit to Brighton had been delayed untilnow. "How are youold fellow?  Glad you're come down.Emmy'll bedelighted to see you" Osborne saidshakinghiscomrade warmly by the hand as soon as his descentfrom thevehicle was effected--and then he addedin alower andagitated voice"What's the news?  Have youbeen inRussell Square?  What does the governor say?Tell meeverything."

 

Dobbinlooked very pale and grave.  "I've seen yourfather"said he.  "How's Amelia--Mrs. George?  I'll tellyou allthe news presently: but I've brought the greatnews ofall: and that is--"

 

"Outwith itold fellow" George said.

 

"We'reordered to Belgium.  All the army goes--guardsand all. Heavytop's got the goutand is mad at not beingable tomove.  O'Dowd goes in commandand we embarkfromChatham next week." This news of war couldnot butcome with a shock upon our loversand causedall thesegentlemen to look very serious.

 

 

 

 

CHAPTERXXIIICaptainDobbin Proceeds on His Canvass

 

What isthe secret mesmerism which friendshippossessesand under the operation of which a personordinarilysluggishor coldor timidbecomes wiseactiveand resolutein another's behalf?  As Alexisafter afew passes from Dr. Elliotsondespises painreads withthe back of his headsees miles offlooks intonext weekand performs other wondersof whichin his own private normal conditionhe isquiteincapable; so you seein the affairs of the worldand underthe magnetism of friendshipsthe modestmanbecomes boldthe shy confidentthe lazy activeortheimpetuous prudent and peaceful.  What is iton theotherhandthat makes the lawyer eschew his own causeand callin his learned brother as an adviser?  And what causesthedoctorwhen ailingto send for his rivaland not sitdown andexamine his own tongue in the chimney Bassor writehis own prescription at his study-table?  I throwout thesequeries for intelligent readers to answerwhoknowatoncehow credulous we areand how scepticalhow softand how obstinatehow firm for others and howdiffidentabout ourselves:  meanwhileit is certain thatour friendWilliam Dobbinwho was personally of socomplyinga disposition that if his parents had pressedhim muchit is probable he would have stepped downinto thekitchen and married the cookand whoto furtherhis owninterestswould have found the most insuperabledifficultyin walking across the streetfound himself asbusy andeager in the conduct of George Osborne'saffairsas the most selfish tactician could be in the pursuitof hisown.

 

Whilst ourfriend George and his young wife wereenjoyingthe first blushing days of the honeymoon atBrightonhonest William was left as George's plenipotentiaryin Londonto transact all the business part of the marriage.His dutyit was to call upon old Sedley and hiswifeandto keep the former in good humour:  to draw Josand hisbrother-in-law nearer togetherso that Jos's positionanddignityas collector of Boggley Wollahmightcompensatefor his father's loss of stationand tend toreconcileold Osborne to the alliance:  and finallytocommunicateit to the latter in such a way as should leastirritatethe old gentleman.

 

Nowbefore he faced the head of the Osborne housewith thenews which it was his duty to tellDobbin bethoughthim thatit would be politic to make friends of therest ofthe familyandif possiblehave the ladies on hisside. Theycan't be angry in their heartsthought he.  Nowoman everwas really angry at a romantic marriage.  Alittlecrying outand they must come round to theirbrother;when the three of us will lay siege to old Mr.Osborne. So this Machiavellian captain of infantry castabout himfor some happy means or stratagem by whichhe couldgently and gradually bring the Misses Osborneto aknowledge of their brother's secret.

 

By alittle inquiry regarding his mother's engagementshe waspretty soon able to find out by whom of her ladyship'sfriendsparties were given at that season; wherehe wouldbe likely to meet Osborne's sisters; andthoughhe hadthat abhorrence of routs and evening partieswhich manysensible menalas! entertainhe soon foundone wherethe Misses Osborne were to be present.Making hisappearance at the ballwhere he danced a coupleof setswith both of themand was prodigiously politeheactuallyhad the courage to ask Miss Osborne for a fewminutes'conversation at an early hour the next daywhenhe hadhesaidto communicate to her news of theverygreatest interest.

 

What wasit that made her start backand gaze uponhim for amomentand then on the ground at her feetand makeas if she would faint on his armhad he not byopportunelytreading on her toesbrought the young ladyback toself-control?  Why was she so violently agitatedatDobbin's request?  This can never be known.  But whenhe camethe next dayMaria was not in the drawing-roomwith hersisterand Miss Wirt went off for the purposeoffetching the latterand the Captain and Miss Osbornewere lefttogether.  They were both so silent that the ticktockof theSacrifice of Iphigenia clock on the mantelpiecebecamequite rudely audible.

 

"Whata nice party it was last night" Miss Osborne atlengthbeganencouragingly; "and--and how you'reimprovedin your dancingCaptain Dobbin.  Surely somebodyhas taughtyou" she addedwith amiable archness.

 

"Youshould see me dance a reel with Mrs. MajorO'Dowd ofours; and a jig--did you ever see a jig?  ButI thinkanybody could dance with youMiss Osbornewho danceso well."

 

"Isthe Major's lady young and beautifulCaptain?" thefairquestioner continued.  "Ahwhat a terrible thing itmust be tobe a soldier's wife!  I wonder they have anyspirits todanceand in these dreadful times of wartoo!O CaptainDobbinI tremble sometimes when I think ofourdearest Georgeand the dangers of the poor soldier.Are theremany married officers of the --thCaptainDobbin?"

 

"Uponmy wordshe's playing her hand rather tooopenly"Miss Wirt thought; but this observation is merely parentheticand wasnot heard through the crevice ofthe doorat which the governess uttered it.

 

"Oneof our young men is just married" Dobbin saidnow comingto the point.  "It was a very old attachmentand theyoung couple are as poor as church mice.""Ohow delightful! Ohow romantic!" Miss Osbornecriedasthe Captain said "old attachment" and "poor."Hersympathy encouraged him.

 

"Thefinest young fellow in the regiment" he continued."Nota braver or handsomer officer in the army; andsuch acharming wife!  How you would like her!  howyou willlike her when you know herMiss Osborne."  Theyoung ladythought the actual moment had arrivedandthatDobbin's nervousness which now came on and wasvisible inmany twitchings of his facein his manner ofbeatingthe ground with his great feetin the rapidbuttoningand unbuttoning of his frock-coat&c.--MissOsborneIsaythought that when he had given himself alittleairhe would unbosom himself entirelyandpreparedeagerly to listen.  And the clockin the altar onwhichIphigenia was situatedbeginningafter a preparatoryconvulsionto toll twelvethe mere tolling seemedas if itwould last until one--so prolonged was the knellto theanxious spinster.

 

"Butit's not about marriage that I came to speak--that isthat marriage--that is--noI mean--my dearMissOsborneit's about our dear friend George"Dobbinsaid.

 

"AboutGeorge?" she said in a tone so discomfitedthat Mariaand Miss Wirt laughed at the other side ofthe doorand even that abandoned wretch of a Dobbinfeltinclined to smile himself; for he was not altogetherunconsciousof the state of affairs:  George having oftenbanteredhim gracefully and said"Hang itWillwhydon't youtake old Jane?  She'll have you if you ask her.I'll betyou five to two she will."

 

"Yesabout Georgethen" he continued.  "There hasbeen adifference between him and Mr. Osborne.  And Iregard himso much--for you know we have been likebrothers--thatI hope and pray the quarrel may besettled. We must go abroadMiss Osborne.  We may beorderedoff at a day's warning.  Who knows what mayhappen inthe campaign?  Don't be agitateddear MissOsborne;and those two at least should part friends."

 

"Therehas been no quarrelCaptain Dobbinexcepta littleusual scene with Papa" the lady said.  "We areexpectingGeorge back daily.  What Papa wanted was onlyfor hisgood.  He has but to come backand I'm sure allwill bewell; and dear Rhodawho went away from herein sad sadangerI know will forgive him.  Woman forgivesbut tooreadilyCaptain."

 

"Suchan angel as YOU I am sure would" Mr. Dobbinsaidwithatrocious astuteness.  "And no man can pardonhimselffor giving a woman pain.  What would you feelif a manwere faithless to you?"

 

"Ishould perish--I should throw myself out of window--I shouldtake poison--I should pine and die.  Iknow Ishould" Miss criedwho had nevertheless gonethroughone or two affairs of the heart without any ideaofsuicide.

 

"Andthere are others" Dobbin continued"as trueand askind-hearted as yourself.  I'm not speaking aboutthe WestIndian heiressMiss Osbornebut about a poorgirl whomGeorge once lovedand who was bred fromherchildhood to think of nobody but him.  I've seen herin herpoverty uncomplainingbroken-heartedwithout afault. It is of Miss Sedley I speak.  Dear Miss Osbornecan yourgenerous heart quarrel with your brother forbeingfaithful to her?  Could his own conscience everforgivehim if he deserted her?  Be her friend--she alwayslovedyou--and--and I am come here charged by Georgeto tellyou that he holds his engagement to her as themostsacred duty he has; and to entreat youat leastto be onhis side."

 

When anystrong emotion took possession of Mr. Dobbinand afterthe first word or two of hesitationhe couldspeak withperfect fluencyand it was evident that hiseloquenceon this occasion made some impression uponthe ladywhom he addressed.

 

"Well"said she"this is--most surprising--most painful--mostextraordinary--what will Papa say?--thatGeorgeshould fling away such a superb establishment aswasoffered to him
but at any rate he has found a verybravechampion in youCaptain Dobbin.  It is of no usehowever"she continuedafter a pause; "I feel for poorMissSedleymost certainly--most sincerelyyou know.We neverthought the match a good onethough we werealwaysvery kind to her here--very.  But Papa will neverconsentIam sure.  And a well brought up young womanyouknow--with a well-regulated mindmust--Georgemust giveher updear Captain Dobbinindeed he must."

 

"Oughta man to give up the woman he lovedjustwhenmisfortune befell her?" Dobbin saidholding outhis hand. "Dear Miss Osborneis this the counsel I hearfrom you? My dear young lady! you must befriend her.He can'tgive her up.  He must not give her up.  Would amanthinkyougive YOU up if you were poor?"

 

Thisadroit question touched the heart of Miss JaneOsbornenot a little.  "I don't know whether we poor girlsought tobelieve what you men sayCaptain" she said."Thereis that in woman's tenderness which induces herto believetoo easily.  I'm afraid you are cruelcrueldeceivers"--andDobbin certainly thought he felt apressureof the hand which Miss Osborne had extendedto him.

 

He droppedit in some alarm.  "Deceivers!" said he."Nodear Miss Osborneall men are not; your brotheris not;George has loved Amelia Sedley ever since theywerechildren; no wealth would make him marry any buther. Ought he to forsake her?  Would you counsel him todo so?"

 

What couldMiss Jane say to such a questionand withher ownpeculiar views?  She could not answer itso sheparried itby saying"Wellif you are not a deceiveratleast youare very romantic"; and Captain William letthisobservation pass without challenge.

 

At lengthwhenby the help of farther polite speecheshe deemedthat Miss Osborne was sufficiently prepared toreceivethe whole newshe poured it into her ear."Georgecould not give up Amelia--George was marriedtoher"--and then he related the circumstances of themarriageas we know them already:  how the poor girlwould havedied had not her lover kept his faith:  howOld Sedleyhad refused all consent to the matchand alicencehad been got: and Jos Sedley had come fromCheltenhamto give away the bride: how they had gonetoBrighton in Jos's chariot-and-four to pass the honeymoon:and howGeorge counted on his dear kind sisters tobefriendhim with their fatheras women--so trueand tenderas they were--assuredly would do.  And soaskingpermission (readily granted) to see her againandrightlyconjecturing that the news he had brought wouldbe told inthe next five minutes to the other ladiesCaptainDobbin made his bow and took his leave.

 

He wasscarcely out of the housewhen Miss Mariaand MissWirt rushed in to Miss Osborneand thewholewonderful secret was imparted to them by thatlady. To do them justiceneither of the sisters was verymuchdispleased.  There is something about a runawaymatch withwhich few ladies can be seriously angryandAmeliarather rose in their estimationfrom the spiritwhich shehad displayed in consenting to the union.  Astheydebated the storyand prattled about itand wonderedwhat Papawould do and saycame a loud knockas of anavenging thunder-clapat the doorwhich madetheseconspirators start.  It must be Papathey thought.But it wasnot he.  It was only Mr. Frederick Bullockwho hadcome from the City according to appointmentto conductthe ladies to a flower-show.

 

Thisgentlemanas may be imaginedwas not keptlong inignorance of the secret.  But his facewhen heheard itshowed an amazement which was very differentto thatlook of sentimental wonder which the countenancesof thesisters wore.  Mr. Bullock was a man of the worldand ajunior partner of a wealthy firm.  He knew whatmoney wasand the value of it: and a delightful throbofexpectation lighted up his little eyesand caused himto smileon his Mariaas he thought that by this pieceof follyof Mr. George's she might be worth thirtythousandpounds more than he had ever hoped toget withher.

 

"Gad! Jane" said hesurveying even the elder sisterwith someinterest"Eels will be sorry he cried off.  Youmay be afifty thousand pounder yet."

 

Thesisters had never thought of the money questionup to thatmomentbut Fred Bullock bantered themwithgraceful gaiety about it during their forenoon'sexcursion;and they had risen not a little in their ownesteem bythe time whenthe morning amusement overthey droveback to dinner.  And do not let my respectedreaderexclaim against this selfishness as unnatural.  Itwas butthis present morningas he rode on the omnibusfromRichmond; while it changed horsesthis presentchroniclerbeing on the roofmarked three little childrenplaying ina puddle belowvery dirtyand friendlyandhappy. To these three presently came another little one."POLLY"says she"YOUR SISTER'S GOT A PENNY."  At whichthechildren got up from the puddle instantlyand ranoff to paytheir court to Peggy.  And as the omnibus droveoff I sawPeggy with the infantine procession at hertailmarching with great dignity towards the stall of aneighbouringlollipop-woman.

 

 

 

 

CHAPTERXXIVInWhich Mr. Osborne Takes Down the Family Bible

 

So havingprepared the sistersDobbin hastened awayto theCity to perform the rest and more difficult partof thetask which he had undertaken.  The idea of facingoldOsborne rendered him not a little nervousand morethan oncehe thought of leaving the young ladies tocommunicatethe secretwhichas he was awarethey couldnot longretain.  But he had promised to report to Georgeupon themanner in which the elder Osborne bore theintelligence;so going into the City to the paternalcounting-housein Thames Streethe despatched thencea note toMr. Osborne begging for a half-hour's conversationrelativeto the affairs of his son George.  Dobbin's messengerreturnedfrom Mr. Osborne's house of businesswith thecomplimentsof the latterwho would be very happy to see theCaptainimmediatelyand away accordingly Dobbin wenttoconfront him.

 

TheCaptainwith a half-guilty secret to confessandwith theprospect of a painful and stormy interviewbeforehimentered Mr. Osborne's offices with a mostdismalcountenance and abashed gaitandpassing throughthe outerroom where Mr. Chopper presidedwas greetedby thatfunctionary from his desk with a waggish airwhichfarther discomfited him.  Mr. Chopper winked andnodded andpointed his pen towards his patron's doorand said"You'll find the governor all right" with themostprovoking good humour.

 

Osbornerose tooand shook him heartily by the handand said"How domy dear boy?" with a cordiality thatmade poorGeorge's ambassador feel doubly guilty.  Hishand layas if dead in the old gentleman's grasp.  He feltthat heDobbinwas more or less the cause of all thathadhappened.  It was he had brought back George toAmelia: itwas he had applaudedencouragedtransactedalmost themarriage which he was come to reveal toGeorge'sfather:  and the latter was receiving him withsmiles ofwelcome; patting him on the shoulderand callinghim"Dobbinmy dear boy." The envoy had indeedgoodreason to hang his head.

 

Osbornefully believed that Dobbin had come toannouncehis son's surrender.  Mr. Chopper and hisprincipalwere talking over the matter between George andhisfatherat the very moment when Dobbin's messengerarrived. Both agreed that George was sending in hissubmission. Both had been expecting it for some days--and"Lord!Chopperwhat a marriage we'll have!" Mr.Osbornesaid to his clerksnapping his big fingersandjinglingall the guineas and shillings in his great pocketsas he eyedhis subordinate with a look of triumph.

 

Withsimilar operations conducted in both pocketsand aknowing jolly airOsborne from his chair regardedDobbinseated blank and silent opposite to him.  "Whata bumpkinhe is for a Captain in the army" old Osbornethought. "I wonder George hasn't taught him bettermanners."

 

At lastDobbin summoned courage to begin.  "Sir" saidhe"I'vebrought you some very grave news.  I have beenat theHorse Guards this morningand there's no doubtthat ourregiment will be ordered abroadand on itsway toBelgium before the week is over.  And you knowsirthatwe shan't be home again before a tussle whichmay befatal to many of us." Osborne looked grave.  "My s--the regiment willdo itsdutysirI daresay" he said.

 

"TheFrench are very strongsir" Dobbin went on."TheRussians and Austrians will be a long time beforethey canbring their troops down.  We shall have the firstof thefightsir; and depend on it Boney will take carethat itshall be a hard one."

 

"Whatare you driving atDobbin?" his interlocutorsaiduneasy and with a scowl.  "I suppose no Briton'safraid ofany d-- Frenchmanhey?"

 

"Ionly meanthat before we goand considering thegreat andcertain risk that hangs over every one of us--if thereare any differences between you and George--itwould beas wellsirthat--that you should shake hands:wouldn'tit?  Should anything happen to himI think youwouldnever forgive yourself if you hadn't parted incharity."

 

As he saidthispoor William Dobbin blushed crimsonand feltand owned that he himself was a traitor.  Butfor himperhapsthis severance need never have takenplace. Why had not George's marriage been delayed?What callwas there to press it on so eagerly?  He felt thatGeorgewould have parted from Amelia at any rate withouta mortalpang.  AmeliatooMIGHT have recovered theshock oflosing him.  It was his counsel had broughtabout thismarriageand all that was to ensue from it.And whywas it?  Because he loved her so much that hecould notbear to see her unhappy:  or because his ownsufferingsof suspense were so unendurable that he wasglad tocrush them at once--as we hasten a funeralafter adeathorwhen a separation from those we loveisimminentcannot rest until the parting be over.

 

"Youare a good fellowWilliam" said Mr. Osborne ina softenedvoice; "and me and George shouldn't part inangerthat is true.  Look here.  I've done for him asmuch asany father ever did.  He's had three times asmuch moneyfrom meas I warrant your father evergave you. But I don't brag about that.  How I've toiledfor himand worked and employed my talents and energyI won'tsay.  Ask Chopper.  Ask himself.  Ask the City ofLondon. WellI propose to him such a marriage as anynoblemanin the land might be proud of--the only thingin life Iever asked him--and he refuses me.  Am I wrong?Is thequarrel of MY making?  What do I seek but hisgoodforwhich I've been toiling like a convict ever sincehe wasborn?  Nobody can say there's anything selfish inme. Let him come back.  I sayhere's my hand.  I sayforget andforgive.  As for marrying nowit's out of thequestion. Let him and Miss S. make it upand make out themarriageafterwardswhen he comes back a Colonel;for heshall be a Colonelby G-- he shallif moneycan doit.  I'm glad you've brought him round.  I know it'syouDobbin.  You've took him out of many a scrapebefore. Let him come.  I shan't be hard.  Come alonganddine inRussell Square to-day: both of you.  The old shopthe oldhour.  You'll find a neck of venisonand noquestionsasked."

 

Thispraise and confidence smote Dobbin's heart verykeenly. Every moment the colloquy continued in thistonehefelt more and more guilty.  "Sir" said he"Ifear youdeceive yourself.  I am sure you do.  George ismuch toohigh-minded a man ever to marry for money.  Athreat onyour part that you would disinherit him incase ofdisobedience would only be followed by resistanceon his."

 

"Whyhang itmanyou don't call offering him eightor tenthousand a year threatening him?'' Mr. Osbornesaidwithstill provoking good humour.  "'Gadif MissS. willhave meI'm her man.  I ain't particular about ashade orso of tawny." And the old gentleman gave hisknowinggrin and coarse laugh.

 

"Youforgetsirprevious engagements into whichCaptainOsborne had entered" the ambassador saidgravely.

 

"Whatengagements? What the devil do you mean?You don'tmean" Mr. Osborne continuedgatheringwrath andastonishment as the thought now first cameupon him;"you don't mean that he's such a d-- foolas to bestill hankering after that swindling old bankrupt'sdaughter? You've not come here for to make mesupposethat he wants to marry HER?  Marry HERthat ISa goodone.  My son and heir marry a beggar's girl out ofa gutter. D-- himif he doeslet him buy a broomand sweepa crossing.  She was always dangling and oglingafter himI recollect now; and I've no doubt she wasput on byher old sharper of a father."

 

"Mr.Sedley was your very good friendsir" Dobbininterposedalmost pleased at finding himself growingangry. "Time was you called him better names thanrogue andswindler.  The match was of your making.George hadno right to play fast and loose--"

 

"Fastand loose!" howled out old Osborne.  "Fast andloose! Whyhang methose are the very words mygentlemanused himself when he gave himself airslastThursdaywas a fortnightand talked about the British armyto hisfather who made him.  Whatit's you who havebeen asetting of him up--is it? and my service to youCAPTAIN. It's you who want to introduce beggars into myfamily. Thank you for nothingCaptain.  Marry HER indeed--hehe!why should he?  I warrant you she'd go to himfastenough without."

 

"Sir"said Dobbinstarting up in undisguised anger;"noman shall abuse that lady in my hearingand youleast ofall."

 

"Oyou're a-going to call me outare you?  Stoplet mering thebell for pistols for two.  Mr. George sent youhere toinsult his fatherdid he?" Osborne saidpullingat thebell-cord.

 

"Mr.Osborne" said Dobbinwith a faltering voice"it'syou who are insulting the best creature in the world.You hadbest spare hersirfor she's your son's wife."

 

And withthisfeeling that he could say no moreDobbinwent awayOsborne sinking back in his chairandlookingwildly after him.  A clerk came inobedient to thebell; andthe Captain was scarcely out of the court whereMr.Osborne's offices werewhen Mr. Chopper the chiefclerk camerushing hatless after him.

 

"ForGod's sakewhat is it?" Mr. Chopper saidcatchingtheCaptain by the skirt.  "The governor's in a fit.What hasMr. George been doing?"

 

"Hemarried Miss Sedley five days ago" Dobbin replied."Iwas his groomsmanMr. Chopperand you muststand hisfriend."

 

The oldclerk shook his head.  "If that's your newsCaptainit's bad.  The governor will never forgive him."

 

Dobbinbegged Chopper to report progress to him atthe hotelwhere he was stoppingand walked off moodilywestwardsgreatly perturbed as to the past and thefuture.

 

When theRussell Square family came to dinner thateveningthey found the father of the house seated in hisusualplacebut with that air of gloom on his facewhichwheneverit appeared therekept the whole circle silent.Theladiesand Mr. Bullock who dined with themfeltthat thenews had been communicated to Mr. Osborne.His darklooks affected Mr. Bullock so far as to renderhim stilland quiet: but he was unusually bland andattentiveto Miss Mariaby whom he satand to her sisterpresidingat the head of the table.

 

Miss Wirtby consequencewas alone on her side ofthe boarda gap being left between her and Miss JaneOsborne. Now this was George's place when he dined athome; andhis coveras we saidwas laid for him inexpectationof that truant's return.  Nothing occurredduringdinner-time except smiling Mr. Frederick's flaggingconfidentialwhispersand the clinking of plate and chinatointerrupt the silence of the repast.  The servants wentaboutstealthily doing their duty.  Mutes at funerals couldnot lookmore glum than the domestics of Mr. OsborneThe neckof venison of which he had invited Dobbin topartakewas carved by him in perfect silence; but hisown sharewent away almost untastedthough he drankmuchandthe butler assiduously filled his glass.

 

At lastjust at the end of the dinnerhis eyeswhichhad beenstaring at everybody in turnfixed themselvesfor awhile upon the plate laid for George.  He pointedto itpresently with his left hand.  His daughters looked athim anddid not comprehendor choose to comprehendthesignal; nor did the servants at first understand it.

 

"Takethat plate away" at last he saidgetting up withanoath--and with this pushing his chair backhe walkedinto hisown room.

 

Behind Mr.Osborne's dining-room was the usualapartmentwhich went in his house by the name of thestudy; andwas sacred to the master of the house.  HitherMr.Osborne would retire of a Sunday forenoon whennot mindedto go to church; and here pass the morningin hiscrimson leather chairreading the paper.  A coupleof glazedbook-cases were herecontaining standardworks instout gilt bindings.  The "Annual Register" the"Gentleman'sMagazine" "Blair's Sermons" and "HumeandSmollett." From year's end to year's end he nevertook oneof these volumes from the shelf; but there wasno memberof the family that would dare for his life totouch oneof the booksexcept upon those rare Sundayeveningswhen there was no dinner-partyand when thegreatscarlet Bible and Prayer-book were taken out fromthe cornerwhere they stood beside his copy of the Peerageand theservants being rung up to the dining parlourOsborneread the evening service to his family in aloudgrating pompous voice.  No member of the householdchildordomesticever entered that room withouta certainterror.  Here he checked the housekeeper's accountsandoverhauled the butler's cellar-book.  Hence hecouldcommandacross the clean gravel court-yardthebackentrance of the stables with which one of his bellscommunicatedand into this yard the coachman issuedfrom hispremises as into a dockand Osborne swore athim fromthe study window.  Four times a year MissWirtentered this apartment to get her salary; and hisdaughtersto receive their quarterly allowance.  Georgeas a boyhad been horsewhipped in this room manytimes; hismother sitting sick on the stair listening to thecuts ofthe whip.  The boy was scarcely ever known tocry underthe punishment; the poor woman used tofondle andkiss him secretlyand give him money tosoothe himwhen he came out.

 

There wasa picture of the family over the mantelpieceremovedthither from the front room after Mrs. Osborne'sdeath--Georgewas on a ponythe elder sisterholdinghim up a bunch of flowers; the younger led byhermother's hand; all with red cheeks and large redmouthssimpering on each other in the approved family-portraitmanner.  The mother lay underground nowlongsinceforgotten--the sisters and brother had a hundreddifferentinterests of their ownandfamiliar stillwereutterlyestranged from each other.  Some few score ofyearsafterwardswhen all the parties represented aregrown oldwhat bitter satire there is in those flauntingchildishfamily-portraitswith their farce of sentiment andsmilingliesand innocence so self-conscious and self-satisfied. Osborne's own state portraitwith that of hisgreatsilver inkstand and arm-chairhad taken the placeof honourin the dining-roomvacated by the family-piece.

 

To thisstudy old Osborne retired thengreatly to therelief ofthe small party whom he left.  When theservantshad withdrawnthey began to talk for a whilevolublybut very low; then they went upstairs quietlyMr.Bullock accompanying them stealthily on his creakingshoes. He had no heart to sit alone drinking wineand soclose to the terrible old gentleman in the studyhard athand.

 

An hour atleast after darkthe butlernot havingreceivedany summonsventured to tap at his door andtake himin wax candles and tea.  The master of thehouse satein his chairpretending to read the paperand whenthe servantplacing the lights and refreshmenton thetable by himretiredMr. Osborne got up andlocked thedoor after him.  This time there was no mistakingthematter; all the household knew that some greatcatastrophewas going to happen which was likely direlyto affectMaster George.

 

In thelarge shining mahogany escritoire Mr. Osbornehad adrawer especially devoted to his son's affairs andpapers. Here he kept all the documents relating to himever sincehe had been a boy: here were his prize copy-books anddrawing-booksall bearing George's handand thatof the master:  here were his first letters in largeround-handsending his love to papa and mammaandconveyinghis petitions for a cake.  His dear godpapaSedley wasmore than once mentioned in them.  Cursesquiveredon old Osborne's livid lipsand horrid hatredanddisappointment writhed in his heartas lookingthroughsome of these papers he came on that name.They wereall marked and docketedand tied with red tape.Itwas--From Georgyrequesting 5s.April 2318--;answeredApril 25"--or "Georgy about a ponyOctober13"--andso forth. In another packet were "Dr. S.'s accounts"--"G.'stailor's bills and outfitsdrafts on me byG.Osbornejun." &c.--his letters from the West Indies--hisagent's lettersand the newspapers containing hiscommissions:here was a whip he had when a boyand ina paper alocket containing his hairwhich his motherused towear.

 

Turningone over after anotherand musing over thesememorialsthe unhappy man passed many hours.  Hisdearestvanitiesambitious hopeshad all been here.  Whatpride hehad in his boy!  He was the handsomest childeverseen.  Everybody said he was like a nobleman'sson. A royal princess had remarked himand kissedhimandasked his name in Kew Gardens.  What Cityman couldshow such another?  Could a prince have beenbettercared for?  Anything that money could buy hadbeen hisson's.  He used to go down on speech-days withfourhorses and new liveriesand scatter new shillingsamong theboys at the school where George was:  whenhe wentwith George to the depot of his regimentbeforethe boyembarked for Canadahe gave the officerssuch adinner as the Duke of York might have sat downto. Had he ever refused a bill when George drew one?There theywere--paid without a word.  Many a generalin thearmy couldn't ride the horses he had!  He had thechildbefore his eyeson a hundred different days whenheremembered George after dinnerwhen he usedto come inas bold as a lord and drink off his glass byhisfather's sideat the head of the table--on the ponyatBrightonwhen he cleared the hedge and kept up withthehuntsman--on the day when he was presented tothe PrinceRegent at the leveewhen all Saint James'scouldn'tproduce a finer young fellow.  And thisthis wasthe end ofall!--to marry a bankrupt and fly in the faceof dutyand fortune!  What humiliation and fury:  whatpangs ofsickening ragebalked ambition and love; whatwounds ofoutraged vanitytenderness evenhad thisoldworldling now to suffer under!

 

Havingexamined these papersand pondered over thisone andthe otherin that bitterest of all helpless woewith whichmiserable men think of happy past times--George'sfather took the whole of the documents out ofthe drawerin which he had kept them so longand lockedthem intoa writing-boxwhich he tiedand sealed withhis seal. Then he opened the book-caseand took downthe greatred Bible we have spoken of a pompousbookseldom looked atand shining all over with gold.There wasa frontispiece to the volumerepresentingAbrahamsacrificing Isaac.  Hereaccording to customOsbornehad recorded on the fly-leafand in his largeclerk-likehandthe dates of his marriage and his wife'sdeathandthe births and Christian names of his children.Jane camefirstthen George Sedley Osbornethen MariaFrancesand the days of the christening of each.  Takinga penhecarefully obliterated George's names fromthe page;and when the leaf was quite dryrestored thevolume tothe place from which he had moved it.  Thenhe took adocument out of another drawerwhere hisownprivate papers were kept; and having read itcrumpledit up andlighted it at one of the candlesand saw itburnentirely away in the grate.  It was his will; whichbeingburnedhe sate down and wrote off a letterandrang forhis servantwhom he charged to deliver it in themorning. It was morning already: as he went up to bedthe wholehouse was alight with the sunshine; and thebirds weresinging among the fresh green leaves inRussellSquare.

 

Anxious tokeep all Mr. Osborne's family and dependantsin goodhumourand to make as many friends aspossiblefor George in his hour of adversityWilliam Dobbinwho knewthe effect which good dinners and goodwines haveupon the soul of manwrote off immediatelyon hisreturn to his inn the most hospitable of invitationsto ThomasChopperEsquirebegging that gentleman todine withhim at the Slaughters' next day.  The notereachedMr. Chopper before he left the Cityand theinstantreply wasthat "Mr. Chopper presents hisrespectfulcomplimentsand will have the honour andpleasureof waiting on Captain D."  The invitation and theroughdraft of the answer were shown to Mrs. Chopperand herdaughters on his return to Somers' Town thateveningand they talked about military gents and WestEnd menwith great exultation as the family sate andpartook oftea.  When the girls had gone to restMr. andMrs. C.discoursed upon the strange events which wereoccurringin the governor's family.  Never had the clerkseen hisprincipal so moved.  When he went in to Mr.Osborneafter Captain Dobbin's departureMr. Chopperfound hischief black in the faceand all but in a fit:somedreadful quarrelhe was certainhad occurredbetweenMr. O. and the young Captain.  Chopper had beeninstructedto make out an account of all sums paid toCaptainOsborne within the last three years.  "And apreciouslot of money he has had too" the chief clerk saidandrespected his old and young master the morefortheliberal way in which the guineas had been flung about.Thedispute was something about Miss Sedley.  Mrs.Choppervowed and declared she pitied that poor younglady tolose such a handsome young fellow as the Capting.As thedaughter of an unlucky speculatorwho had paid averyshabby dividendMr. Chopper had no great regardfor MissSedley.  He respected the house of Osbornebefore allothers in the City of London: and his hope andwish wasthat Captain George should marry a nobleman'sdaughter. The clerk slept a great deal sounder thanhisprincipal that night; andcuddling his children afterbreakfast(of which he partook with a very heartyappetitethough his modest cup of life was onlysweetenedwith brown sugar)he set off in his best Sundaysuit andfrilled shirt for businesspromising his admiringwife notto punish Captain D.'s port too severely thatevening.

 

Mr.Osborne's countenancewhen he arrived in theCity athis usual timestruck those dependants who wereaccustomedfor good reasonsto watch its expressionaspeculiarly ghastly and worn.  At twelve o'clock Mr.Higgs (ofthe firm of Higgs & BlatherwicksolicitorsBedfordRow) called by appointmentand was usheredinto thegovernor's private roomand closeted there formore thanan hour.  At about one Mr. Chopperreceived anote brought by Captain Dobbin's manandcontainingan inclosure for Mr. Osbornewhich the clerkwent inand delivered.  A short time afterwards Mr.Chopperand Mr. Birchthe next clerkwere summonedandrequestedto witness a paper.  "I've been making a newwill"Mr. Osborne saidto which these gentlemenappendedtheir names accordingly.  No conversationpassed. Mr. Higgs looked exceedingly grave as he cameinto theouter roomsand very hard in Mr. Chopper'sface; butthere were not any explanations.  It wasremarkedthat Mr. Osborne was particularly quiet andgentle alldayto the surprise of those who had augured illfrom hisdarkling demeanour.  He called no man namesthat dayand was not heard to swear once.  He left businessearly; andbefore going awaysummoned his chiefclerk oncemoreand having given him general instructionsasked himafter some seeming hesitation and reluctanceto speakif he knew whether Captain Dobbin was in town?

 

Choppersaid he believed he was.  Indeed both of themknew thefact perfectly.

 

Osbornetook a letter directed to that officerandgiving itto the clerkrequested the latter to deliver itintoDobbin's own hands immediately.

 

"AndnowChopper" says hetaking his hatand witha strangelook"my mind will be easy."  Exactly as theclockstruck two (there was no doubt an appointmentbetweenthe pair) Mr. Frederick Bullock calledand heand Mr.Osborne walked away together.

 

 

TheColonel of the --th regimentin which MessieursDobbin andOsborne had companieswas an old Generalwho hadmade his first campaign under Wolfe at Quebecand waslong since quite too old and feeble for command;but hetook some interest in the regiment of whichhe was thenominal headand made certain of his youngofficerswelcome at his tablea kind of hospitalitywhich Ibelieve is not now common amongst hisbrethren. Captain Dobbin was an especial favouriteof thisold General.  Dobbin was versed in the literatureof hisprofessionand could talk about the great Frederickand theEmpress Queenand their warsalmost as wellas theGeneral himselfwho was indifferent to the triumphsof thepresent dayand whose heart was with thetacticiansof fifty years back.  This officer sent a summonsto Dobbinto come and breakfast with himon themorningwhen Mr. Osborne altered his will and Mr. Chopperput on hisbest shirt frilland then informed his youngfavouritea couple of days in advanceof that which theywere allexpecting--a marching order to go to Belgium.The orderfor the regiment to hold itself in readinesswouldleave the Horse Guards in a day or two; and astransportswere in plentythey would get their routebefore theweek was over.  Recruits had come in duringthe stayof the regiment at Chatham; and the old Generalhoped thatthe regiment which had helped to beatMontcalmin Canadaand to rout Mr. Washington onLongIslandwould prove itself worthy of its historicalreputationon the oft-trodden battle-grounds of the LowCountries. "And somy good friendif you have anyaffairelasaid the old Generaltaking a pinch of snuffwith histrembling white old handand then pointing tothe spotof his robe de chambre under which his heartwas stillfeebly beating"if you have any Phillis to consoleor to bidfarewell to papa and mammaor any willto makeIrecommend you to set about your businesswithoutdelay." With which the General gave his youngfriend afinger to shakeand a good-natured nod of hispowderedand pigtailed head; and the door being closeduponDobbinsate down to pen a poulet (he wasexceedinglyvain of his French) to MademoiselleAmenaideof His Majesty's Theatre.

 

This newsmade Dobbin graveand he thought of ourfriends atBrightonand then he was ashamed of himselfthatAmelia was always the first thing in his thoughts(alwaysbefore anybody--before father and mothersistersand duty--always at waking and sleeping indeedand allday long); and returning to his hotelhe sent off abrief noteto Mr. Osborne acquainting him with theinformationwhich he had receivedand which might tendfartherhe hopedto bring about a reconciliation withGeorge.

 

This notedespatched by the same messenger who hadcarriedthe invitation to Chopper on the previous dayalarmedthe worthy clerk not a little.  It was inclosed tohimandas he opened the letter he trembled lest thedinnershould be put off on which he was calculating.  Hismind wasinexpressibly relieved when he found that theenvelopewas only a reminder for himself.  ("I shallexpect youat half-past five" Captain Dobbin wrote.) He wasvery muchinterested about his employer's family; butquevoulez-vous? a grand dinner was of more concern tohim thanthe affairs of any other mortal.

 

Dobbin wasquite justified in repeating the General'sinformationto any officers of the regiment whom heshould seein the course of his peregrinations; accordinglyheimparted it to Ensign Stubblewhom he met at theagent'sand who--such was his military ardour--wentoffinstantly to purchase a new sword at theaccoutrement-maker's. Here this young fellowwhothoughonly seventeen years of ageand about sixty-fiveincheshighwith a constitution naturally rickety andmuchimpaired by premature brandy and waterhad anundoubtedcourage and a lion's heartpoisedtriedbentandbalanced a weapon such as he thought would do executionamongstFrenchmen.  Shouting "Haha!" and stamping his littlefeet withtremendous energyhe delivered the point twiceor thriceat Captain Dobbinwho parried the thrustlaughinglywith his bamboo walking-stick.

 

Mr.Stubbleas may be supposed from his size andslendernesswas of the Light Bobs.  Ensign Spooneyonthecontrarywas a tall youthand belonged to (CaptainDobbin's)the Grenadier Companyand he tried on a newbearskincapunder which he looked savage beyond hisyears. Then these two lads went off to the Slaughters'andhavingordered a famous dinnersate down and wrote offletters tothe kind anxious parents at home--letters full oflove andheartinessand pluck and bad spelling.  Ah! therewere manyanxious hearts beating through England atthat time;and mothers' prayers and tears flowing in manyhomesteads.

 

Seeingyoung Stubble engaged in composition at one ofthecoffee-room tables at the Slaughters'and the tearstricklingdown his nose on to the paper (for the youngsterwasthinking of his mammaand that he might never seeheragain)Dobbinwho was going to write off a letter toGeorgeOsbornerelentedand locked up his desk.  "Whyshould I?"said he.  "Let her have this night happy.  I'll goand see myparents early in the morningand go down toBrightonmyself to-morrow."

 

So he wentup and laid his big hand on young Stubble'sshoulderand backed up that young championand toldhim if hewould leave off brandy and water he wouldbe a goodsoldieras he always was a gentlemanly good-heartedfellow.  Young Stubble's eyes brightened up at thisfor Dobbinwas greatly respected in the regimentas thebestofficer and the cleverest man in it.

 

"ThankyouDobbin" he saidrubbing his eyes withhisknuckles"I was just--just telling her I would.  AndO Sirshe's so dam kind to me." The water pumps wereat workagainand I am not sure that the soft-heartedCaptain'seyes did not also twinkle.

 

The twoensignsthe Captainand Mr. Chopperdinedtogetherin the same box.  Chopper brought the letter fromMr.Osbornein which the latter briefly presented hiscomplimentsto Captain Dobbinand requested him toforwardthe inclosed to Captain George Osborne.  Chopperknewnothing further; he described Mr. Osborne's appearanceit istrueand his interview with his lawyerwonderedhow thegovernor had sworn at nobodyand--especiallyas thewine circled round--abounded in speculationsandconjectures.  But these grew more vague witheveryglassand at length became perfectly unintelligible.At a latehour Captain Dobbin put his guest into a hackneycoachina hiccupping stateand swearing that he wouldbe thekick--the kick--Captain's friend for ever and ever.

 

WhenCaptain Dobbin took leave of Miss Osborne wehave saidthat he asked leave to come and pay heranothervisitand the spinster expected him for some hoursthe nextdaywhenperhapshad he comeand had heasked herthat question which she was prepared to answershe wouldhave declared herself as her brother'sfriendand a reconciliation might have been effectedbetweenGeorge and his angry father.  But though she waitedat homethe Captain never came.  He had his own affairsto pursue;his own parents to visit and console; and at anearly hourof the day to take his place on the Lightningcoachandgo down to his friends at Brighton.  In thecourse ofthe day Miss Osborne heard her father giveordersthat that meddling scoundrelCaptain Dobbinshouldnever be admitted within his doors againand anyhopes inwhich she may have indulged privately were thusabruptlybrought to an end.  Mr. Frederick Bullock cameand wasparticularly affectionate to Mariaand attentiveto thebroken-spirited old gentleman.  For though he saidhis mindwould be easythe means which he had taken tosecurequiet did not seem to have succeeded as yetandthe eventsof the past two days had visibly shattered him.

 

 

 

 

CHAPTERXXVInWhich All the Principal Personages Think FittoLeave Brighton

 

Conductedto the ladiesat the Ship InnDobbin assumeda jovialand rattling mannerwhich proved that thisyoungofficer was becoming a more consummate hypocriteevery dayof his life.  He was trying to hide his ownprivatefeelingsfirst upon seeing Mrs. George Osbornein her newconditionand secondly to mask theapprehensionshe entertained as to the effect whichthe dismalnews brought down by him would certainlyhave uponher.

 

"Itis my opinionGeorge" he said"that the FrenchEmperorwill be upon ushorse and footbefore threeweeks areoverand will give the Duke such a dance asshall makethe Peninsula appear mere child's play.  Butyou neednot say that to Mrs. Osborneyou know.  Theremayn't beany fighting on our side after alland ourbusinessin Belgium may turn out to be a mere militaryoccupation. Many persons think so; and Brussels is fullof finepeople and ladies of fashion." So it was agreed torepresentthe duty of the British army in Belgium in thisharmlesslight to Amelia.

 

This plotbeing arrangedthe hypocritical Dobbin salutedMrs.George Osborne quite gailytried to pay herone or twocompliments relative to her new position as abride(which complimentsit must be confessedwereexceedinglyclumsy and hung fire woefully)and then fellto talkingabout Brightonand the sea-airand the gaietiesof theplaceand the beauties of the road and the meritsof theLightning coach and horses--all in a mannerquiteincomprehensible to Ameliaand very amusing toRebeccawho was watching the Captainas indeed shewatchedevery one near whom she came.

 

LittleAmeliait must be ownedhad rather a meanopinion ofher husband's friendCaptain Dobbin.  He lisped--he wasvery plain and homely-looking: and exceedinglyawkwardand ungainly.  She liked him for his attachmentto herhusband (to be sure there was very little merit inthat)andshe thought George was most generous andkind inextending his friendship to his brother officer.George hadmimicked Dobbin's lisp and queer mannersmany timesto herthough to do him justicehe alwaysspoke mosthighly of his friend's good qualities.  In herlittle dayof triumphand not knowing him intimately asyetshemade light of honest William--and he knew heropinionsof him quite welland acquiesced in them veryhumbly. A time came when she knew him betterandchangedher notions regarding him; but that was distant asyet.

 

As forRebeccaCaptain Dobbin had not been two hoursin theladies' company before she understood his secretperfectly. She did not like himand feared him privately;nor was hevery much prepossessed in her favour.  Hewas sohonestthat her arts and cajoleries did not affecthimandhe shrank from her with instinctive repulsion.Andasshe was by no means so far superior to her sex asto beabove jealousyshe disliked him the more for hisadorationof Amelia.  Neverthelessshe was very respectfulandcordial in her manner towards him.  A friend totheOsbornes! a friend to her dearest benefactors!  Shevowed sheshould always love him sincerely: she rememberedhim quitewell on the Vauxhall nightas she toldAmeliaarchlyand she made a little fun of him when thetwo ladieswent to dress for dinner.  Rawdon Crawley paidscarcelyany attention to Dobbinlooking upon him as agood-naturednincompoop and under-bred City man.  Jospatronisedhim with much dignity.

 

WhenGeorge and Dobbin were alone in the latter'sroomtowhich George had followed himDobbin tookfrom hisdesk the letter which he had been charged byMr.Osborne to deliver to his son.  "It's not in my father'shandwriting"said Georgelooking rather alarmed; norwas it:the letter was from Mr. Osborne's lawyerand tothefollowing effect:

 

BedfordRowMay 71815.   SIR

 

I amcommissioned by Mr. Osborne to inform youthat heabides by the determination which he beforeexpressedto youand that in consequence of the marriagewhich youhave been pleased to contracthe ceases toconsideryou henceforth as a member of his family.Thisdetermination is final and irrevocable.

 

Althoughthe monies expended upon you in yourminorityand the bills which you have drawn uponhim sounsparingly of late yearsfar exceed in amountthe sum towhich you are entitled in your own right(being thethird part of the fortune of your motherthe lateMrs. Osborne and which reverted to you at herdeceaseand to Miss Jane Osborne and Miss MariaFrancesOsborne); yet I am instructed by Mr. Osborneto saythat he waives all claim upon your estateandthat thesum of 20001.4 per cent. annuitiesat thevalue ofthe day (being your one-third share of the sumof60001.)shall be paid over to yourself or your agentsupon yourreceipt for the sameby

 

Yourobedient Servt.

 

S. HIGGS.

 

P.S.--Mr.Osborne desires me to sayonce for allthat hedeclines to receive any messageslettersorcommunicationsfrom you on this or any other subject.

 

"Apretty way you have managed the affair" saidGeorgelooking savagely at William Dobbin.  "Look thereDobbin"and he flung over to the latter his parent's letter."Abeggarby Joveand all in consequence of my d--dsentimentality. Why couldn't we have waited?  A ball mighthave donefor me in the course of the warand may stilland howwill Emmy be bettered by being left a beggar'swidow? It was all your doing.  You were never easy untilyou hadgot me married and ruined.  What the deuce amI to dowith two thousand pounds?  Such a sum won'tlast twoyears.  I've lost a hundred and forty to Crawley atcards andbilliards since I've been down here.  A prettymanager ofa man's matters YOU areforsooth."

 

"There'sno denying that the position is a hard one"Dobbinrepliedafter reading over the letter with a blankcountenance;"and as you sayit is partly of my making.There aresome men who wouldn't mind changing withyou"he addedwith a bitter smile.  "How many captainsin theregiment have two thousand pounds to the forethinkyou?  You must live on your pay till your fatherrelentsand if you dieyou leave your wife a hundred ayear."

 

"Doyou suppose a man of my habits call live on hispay and ahundred a year?" George cried out in greatanger. "You must be a fool to talk soDobbin.  How thedeuce am Ito keep up my position in the world uponsuch apitiful pittance?  I can't change my habits.  I musthave mycomforts.  I wasn't brought up on porridgelikeMacWhirteror on potatoeslike old O'Dowd.  Do youexpect mywife to take in soldiers' washingor ride aftertheregiment in a baggage waggon?"

 

"Wellwell" said Dobbinstill good-naturedly"we'llget her abetter conveyance.  But try and remember thatyou areonly a dethroned prince nowGeorgemy boy;and bequiet whilst the tempest lasts.  It won't be forlong. Let your name be mentioned in the GazetteandI'llengage the old father relents towards you:"

 

"Mentionedin the Gazette!" George answered.  "And inwhat partof it?  Among the killed and wounded returnsand at thetop of the listvery likely."

 

"Psha! It will be time enough to cry out when we arehurt"Dobbin said.  "And if anything happensyou knowGeorgeIhave got a littleand I am not a marryingmanand Ishall not forget my godson in my will" headdedwith a smile.  Whereupon the dispute ended--asmanyscores of  such conversations between Osborneand hisfriend had concluded previously--by the formerdeclaringthere was no possibility of being angry withDobbinlongand forgiving him very generously afterabusinghim without cause.

 

"IsayBecky" cried Rawdon Crawley out of hisdressing-roomto his ladywho was attiring herself fordinner inher own chamber.

 

"What?"said Becky's shrill voice.  She was lookingover hershoulder in the glass.  She had put on the neatestandfreshest white frock imaginableand with bareshouldersand a little necklaceand a light blue sashshelooked theimage of youthful innocence and girlishhappiness.

 

"Isaywhat'll Mrs. O. dowhen 0. goes out with theregiment?"Crawley said coming into the roomperforminga duet onhis head with two huge hair-brushesandlookingout from under his hair with admiration on hisprettylittle wife.

 

"Isuppose she'll cry her eyes out" Becky answered."Shehas been whimpering half a dozen timesat theverynotion of italready to me."

 

"YOUdon't careI suppose?" Rawdon saidhalf angryat hiswife's want of feeling.

 

"Youwretch! don't you know that I intend to go withyou"Becky replied.  "Besidesyou're different.  You goas GeneralTufto's aide-de-camp.  We don't belong to theline"Mrs. Crawley saidthrowing up her head with anair thatso enchanted her husband that he stooped downand kissedit.

 

"Rawdondear--don't you think--you'd better get that--moneyfrom Cupidbefore he goes?" Becky continuedfixing ona killing bow.  She called George OsborneCupid. She had flattered him about his good looks ascore oftimes already.  She watched over him kindly atecarte ofa night when he would drop in to Rawdon'squartersfor a half-hour before bed-time.

 

She hadoften called him a horrid dissipated wretchandthreatened to tell Emmy of his wicked ways andnaughtyextravagant habits.  She brought his cigar andlighted itfor him; she knew the effect of that manoeuvrehavingpractised it in former days upon Rawdon Crawley.He thoughther gaybriskarchdistingueedelightful.In theirlittle drives and dinnersBeckyof coursequiteoutshone poor Emmywho remained very muteand timidwhile Mrs. Crawley and her husband rattledawaytogetherand Captain Crawley (and Jos after hejoined theyoung married people) gobbled in silence.

 

Emmy'smind somehow misgave her about her friend.Rebecca'switspiritsand accomplishments troubled herwith arueful disquiet.  They were only a week marriedand herewas George already suffering ennuiand eagerforothers' society!  She trembled for the future.  Howshall I bea companion for himshe thought--so cleverand sobrilliantand I such a humble foolish creature?How nobleit was of him to marry me--to give up everythingand stoopdown to me!  I ought to have refusedhimonlyI had not the heart.  I ought to have stopped athome andtaken care of poor Papa.  And her neglect ofherparents (and indeed there was some foundation forthischarge which the poor child's uneasy consciencebroughtagainst her) was now remembered for the firsttimeandcaused her to blush with humiliation.  Oh!thoughtsheI have been very wicked and selfish--selfishinforgetting them in their sorrows--selfish in forcingGeorge tomarry me.  I know I'm not worthy of him--Iknow hewould have been happy without me--and yet--I triedItried to give him up.

 

It is hardwhenbefore seven days of marriage areoversuchthoughts and confessions as these forcethemselveson a little bride's mind.  But so it wasand thenightbefore Dobbin came to join these young people--on a finebrilliant moonlight night of May--so warmand balmythat the windows were flung open to the balconyfrom whichGeorge and Mrs. Crawley were gazing uponthe calmocean spread shining before themwhileRawdon and Jos were engaged at backgammonwithin--Ameliacouched in a great chair quite neglectedandwatchingboth these partiesfelt a despair and remorsesuch aswere bitter companions for that tender lonelysoul. Scarce a week was pastand it was come to this!Thefuturehad she regarded itoffered a dismal prospect;but Emmywas too shyso to speakto look to thatand embarkalone on that wide seaand unfit to navigateit withouta guide and protector.  I know Miss Smith hasa meanopinion of her.  But how manymy dear Madamareendowed with your prodigious strength of mind?

 

"Gadwhat a fine nightand how bright the moon is!"Georgesaidwith a puff of his cigarwhich went soaringupskywards.

 

"Howdelicious they smell in the open air!  I adorethem. Who'd think the moon was two hundred and thirty-sixthousand eight hundred and forty-seven miles off?"Beckyaddedgazing at that orb with a smile.  "Isn't itclever ofme to remember that?  Pooh!  we learned it allat MissPinkerton's!  How calm the sea isand how cleareverything. I declare I can almost see the coast ofFrance!"and her bright green eyes streamed outandshot intothe night as if they could see through it.

 

"Doyou know what I intend to do one morning?" shesaid; "Ifind I can swim beautifullyand some daywhenmy AuntCrawley's companion--old Briggsyou know--youremember her--that hook-nosed womanwith thelong wispsof hair--when Briggs goes out to batheIintend todive under her awningand insist on areconciliationin the water.  Isn't that a stratagem?"

 

Georgeburst out laughing at the idea of this aquaticmeeting. "What's the row thereyou two?" Rawdonshoutedoutrattling the box.  Amelia was making a foolof herselfin an absurd hysterical mannerand retiredto her ownroom to whimper in private.

 

Ourhistory is destined in this chapter to go backwardsandforwards in a very irresolute manner seeminglyandhavingconducted our story to to-morrow presentlyweshallimmediately again have occasion to step back toyesterdayso that the whole of the tale may get a hearing.As youbehold at her Majesty's drawing-roomtheambassadors'and high dignitaries' carriages whisk offfrom aprivate doorwhile Captain Jones's ladies are waitingfor theirfly: as you see in the Secretary of the Treasury's antechamberahalf-dozen of petitioners waitingpatientlyfor their audienceand called out one by onewhensuddenly an Irish member or some eminent personageenters theapartmentand instantly walks into Mr.Under-Secretaryover the heads of all the people present:so in theconduct of a talethe romancer is obliged toexercisethis most partial sort of justice.  Although all thelittleincidents must be heardyet they must be put offwhen thegreat events make their appearance; and surelysuch acircumstance as that which brought Dobbin toBrightonviz.the ordering out of the Guards and the linetoBelgiumand the mustering of the allied armies in thatcountryunder the command of his Grace the Duke ofWellington--sucha dignified circumstance as thatI saywasentitled to the pas over all minor occurrences whereofthishistory is composed mainlyand hence a littletriflingdisarrangement and disorder was excusable andbecoming. We have only now advanced in time so farbeyondChapter XXII as to have got our various charactersup intotheir dressing-rooms before the dinnerwhich tookplace as usual on the day of Dobbin's arrival.

 

George wastoo humane or too much occupied with thetie of hisneckcloth to convey at once all the news toAmeliawhich his comrade had brought with him fromLondon. He came into her roomhoweverholding theattorney'sletter in his handand with so solemn andimportantan air that his wifealways ingeniously onthe watchfor calamitythought the worst was about tobefalland running up to her husbandbesought herdearestGeorge to tell her everything--he was orderedabroad;there would be a battle next week--she knewtherewould.

 

DearestGeorge parried the question about foreignserviceand with a melancholy shake of the head said"NoEmmy; it isn't that:  it's not myself I care about:it's you. I have had bad news from my father.  He refusesanycommunication with me; he has flung us off; andleaves usto poverty.  I can rough it well enough; butyoumydearhow will you bear it? read here." And hehanded herover the letter.

 

Ameliawith a look of tender alarm in her eyeslistenedto her noble hero as he uttered the above generoussentimentsand sitting down on the bedread the letterwhichGeorge gave her with such a pompous martyr-likeair. Her face cleared up as she read the documenthowever.The ideaof sharing poverty and privation in companywith thebeloved object isas we have before saidfar frombeing disagreeable to a warm-hearted woman.The notionwas actually pleasant to little Amelia.  Thenas usualshe was ashamed of herself for feeling happy atsuch anindecorous momentand checked her pleasuresayingdemurely"OGeorgehow your poor heart mustbleed atthe idea of being separated from your papa!"

 

"Itdoes" said Georgewith an agonised countenance.

 

"Buthe can't be angry with you long" she continued."NobodycouldI'm sure.  He must forgive youmydearestkindest husband.  OI shall never forgive myselfif he doesnot."

 

"Whatvexes memy poor Emmyis not my misfortunebutyours" George said.  "I don't care for a littlepoverty;and I thinkwithout vanityI've talents enoughto make myown way."

 

"Thatyou have" interposed his wifewho thought thatwar shouldceaseand her husband should be made ageneralinstantly.

 

"YesI shall make my way as well as another" Osbornewent on;"but youmy dear girlhow can I bearyour beingdeprived of the comforts and station insocietywhich my wife had a right to expect?  My dearestgirl inbarracks; the wife of a soldier in a marchingregiment;subject to all sorts of annoyance and privation!It makesme miserable."

 

Emmyquite at easeas this was her husband's onlycause ofdisquiettook his handand with a radiant faceand smilebegan to warble that stanza from the favouritesong of"Wapping Old Stairs" in which the heroineafterrebukingher Tom for inattentionpromises "his trousersto mendand his grog too to make" if he will be constantand kindand not forsake her.  "Besides" she saidafter apauseduring which she looked as pretty andhappy asany young woman need"isn't two thousandpounds animmense deal of moneyGeorge?"

 

Georgelaughed at her naivete; and finally they wentdown todinnerAmelia clinging to George's armstillwarblingthe tune of "Wapping Old Stairs" and morepleasedand light of mind than she had been for somedays past.

 

Thus therepastwhich at length came offinstead ofbeingdismalwas an exceedingly brisk and merry one.Theexcitement of the campaign counteracted in George'smind thedepression occasioned by the disinheriting letter.Dobbinstill kept up his character of rattle.  He amusedthecompany with accounts of the army in Belgium;wherenothing but fetes and gaiety and fashion weregoing on. Thenhaving a particular end in viewthisdexterouscaptain proceeded to describe Mrs. MajorO'Dowdpacking her own and her Major's wardrobeandhow hisbest epaulets had been stowed into a tea canisterwhilst herown famous yellow turbanwith the bird ofparadisewrapped in brown paperwas locked up in theMajor'stin cocked-hat caseand wondered what effectit wouldhave at the French king's court at Ghentor thegreatmilitary balls at Brussels.

 

"Ghent!Brussels!" cried out Amelia with a suddenshock andstart.  "Is the regiment ordered awayGeorge--is itordered away?" A look of terror came over thesweetsmiling faceand she clung to George as by aninstinct.

 

"Don'tbe afraiddear" he said good-naturedly; "itis but atwelve hours' passage.  It won't hurt you.  Youshall gotooEmmy."

 

"Iintend to go" said Becky.  "I'm on the staff. GeneralTufto is agreat flirt of mine.  Isn't heRawdon?"Rawdonlaughed out with his usual roar.  WilliamDobbinflushed up quite red.  "She can't go" he said; "thinkof the--ofthe danger" he was going to add; but hadnot allhis conversation during dinner-time tended toprovethere was none?  He became very confused andsilent.

 

"Imust and will go" Amelia cried with the greatestspirit;and Georgeapplauding her resolutionpatted herunder thechinand asked all the persons present ifthey eversaw such a termagant of a wifeand agreedthat thelady should bear him company.  "We'll haveMrs.O'Dowd to chaperon you" he said.  What cared sheso long asher husband was near her?  Thus somehowthebitterness of a parting was juggled away.  Though warand dangerwere in storewar and danger might notbefall formonths to come.  There was a respite at any ratewhich madethe timid little Amelia almost as happy asa fullreprieve would have doneand which even Dobbinowned inhis heart was very welcome.  Forto be permittedto see herwas now the greatest privilege and hopeof hislifeand he thought with himself secretly how hewouldwatch and protect her.  I wouldn't have let her goif I hadbeen married to herhe thought.  But George wasthemasterand his friend did not think fit to remonstrate.

 

Puttingher arm round her friend's waistRebecca atlengthcarried Amelia off from the dinner-table where somuchbusiness of importance had been discussedandleft thegentlemen in a highly exhilarated statedrinkingandtalking very gaily.

 

In thecourse of the evening Rawdon got a little family-note fromhis wifewhichalthough he crumpled it upand burntit instantly in the candlewe had the goodluck toread over Rebecca's shoulder.  "Great news" shewrote. "Mrs. Bute is gone.  Get the money from Cupid tonightas he'llbe off to-morrow most likely.  Mind this.--R."So when the little company was about adjourningto coffeein the women's apartmentRawdon touchedOsborne onthe elbowand said gracefully"I sayOsbornemy boyifquite convenientI'll trouble you forthat 'eresmall trifle." It was not quite convenientbutneverthelessGeorge gave him a considerable presentinstalmentin bank-notes from his pocket-bookand a billon hisagents at a week's datefor the remaining sum.

 

Thismatter arrangedGeorgeand Josand Dobbinheld acouncil of war over their cigarsand agreed that ageneralmove should be made for London in Jos's opencarriagethe next day.  JosI thinkwould have preferredstayinguntil Rawdon Crawley quitted Brightonbut Dobbinand Georgeoverruled himand he agreed to carrythe partyto townand ordered four horsesas became hisdignity. With these they set off in stateafter breakfastthe nextday.  Amelia had risen very early in the morningand packedher little trunks with the greatest alacritywhileOsborne lay in bed deploring that she had not amaid tohelp her.  She was only too gladhowevertoperformthis office for herself.  A dim uneasy sentimentaboutRebecca filled her mind already; and although theykissedeach other most tenderly at partingyet we knowwhatjealousy is; and Mrs. Amelia possessed that amongothervirtues of her sex.

 

Besidesthese characters who are coming and goingawaywemust remember that there were some other oldfriends ofours at Brighton; Miss Crawleynamelyandthe suitein attendance upon her.  Nowalthough Rebeccaand herhusband were but at a few stones' throw of thelodgingswhich the invalid Miss Crawley occupiedtheold lady'sdoor remained as pitilessly closed to them as ithad beenheretofore in London.  As long as she remainedby theside of her sister-in-lawMrs. Bute Crawley tookcare thather beloved Matilda should not be agitated by ameetingwith her nephew.  When the spinster took herdrivethefaithful Mrs. Bute sate beside her in the carriage.When MissCrawley took the air in a chairMrs.Butemarched on one side of the vehiclewhilst honestBriggsoccupied the other wing.  And if they met Rawdonand hiswife by chance--although the former constantlyandobsequiously took off his hatthe Miss-Crawley partypassed himby with such a frigid and killing indifferencethatRawdon began to despair.

 

"Wemight as well be in London as here" CaptainRawdonoften saidwith a downcast air.

 

"Acomfortable inn in Brighton is better than aspunging-housein Chancery Lane" his wife answeredwho wasof a morecheerful temperament.  "Think of those twoaides-de-campof Mr. Mosesthe sheriff's-officerwhowatchedour lodging for a week.  Our friends here areverystupidbut Mr. Jos and Captain Cupid are bettercompanionsthan Mr. Moses's menRawdonmy love."

 

"Iwonder the writs haven't followed me down here"Rawdoncontinuedstill desponding.

 

"Whenthey dowe'll find means to give them the slip"saiddauntless little Beckyand further pointed out to herhusbandthe great comfort and advantage of meetingJos andOsbornewhose acquaintance had brought toRawdonCrawley a most timely little supply of readymoney.

 

"Itwill hardly be enough to pay the inn bill" grumbledtheGuardsman.

 

"Whyneed we pay it?" said the ladywho had an answerforeverything.

 

ThroughRawdon's valetwho still kept up a triflingacquaintancewith the male inhabitants of Miss Crawley'sservants'halland was instructed to treat the coachmanto drinkwhenever they metold Miss Crawley's movementswerepretty well known by our young couple; andRebeccaluckily bethought herself of being unwelland ofcalling inthe same apothecary who was in attendanceupon thespinsterso that their information was on thewholetolerably complete.  Nor was Miss Briggsalthoughforced toadopt a hostile attitudesecretly inimical toRawdon andhis wife.  She was naturally of a kindly andforgivingdisposition.  Now that the cause of jealousy wasremovedher dislike for Rebecca disappeared alsoandsheremembered the latter's invariable good wordsand goodhumour.  Andindeedshe and Mrs.Firkinthe lady's-maidand the whole of Miss Crawley'shouseholdgroaned under the tyranny of thetriumphantMrs. Bute.

 

As oftenwill be the casethat good but imperiouswomanpushed her advantages too farand her successesquiteunmercifully.  She had in the course of a few weeksbroughtthe invalid to such a state of helpless docilitythat thepoor soul yielded herself entirely to her sister'sordersand did not even dare to complain of her slaveryto Briggsor Firkin.  Mrs. Bute measured out the glassesof winewhich Miss Crawley was daily allowed to takewithirresistible accuracygreatly to the annoyance ofFirkin andthe butlerwho found themselves deprived ofcontrolover even the sherry-bottle.  She apportioned thesweetbreadsjellieschickens; their quantity and order.Night andnoon and morning she brought the abominabledrinksordained by the Doctorand made her patientswallowthem with so affecting an obedience that Firkinsaid "mypoor Missus du take her physic like a lamb." Sheprescribedthe drive in the carriage or the ride in thechairandin a wordground down the old lady in herconvalescencein such a way as only belongs to yourproper-managingmotherly moral woman.  If ever thepatientfaintly resistedand pleaded for a little bit moredinner ora little drop less medicinethe nurse threatenedher withinstantaneous deathwhen Miss Crawleyinstantlygave in.  "She's no spirit left in her" Firkinremarkedto Briggs; "she ain't ave called me a fool thesethreeweeks." FinallyMrs. Bute had made up her mindto dismissthe aforesaid honest lady's-maidMr. Bowlsthe largeconfidential manand Briggs herselfand tosend forher daughters from the Rectoryprevious toremovingthe dear invalid bodily to Queen's Crawleywhenan odiousaccident happened which called her away fromduties sopleasing.  The Reverend Bute Crawleyherhusbandriding home one nightfell with his horse andbroke hiscollar-bone.  Fever and inflammatory symptomsset inand Mrs. Bute was forced to leave Sussex forHampshire. As soon as ever Bute was restoredshepromisedto return to her dearest friendand departedleavingthe strongest injunctions with the householdregardingtheir behaviour to their mistress; and as soon asshe gotinto the Southampton coachthere was such ajubileeand sense of relief in all Miss Crawley's houseas thecompany of persons assembled there had notexperiencedfor many a week before.  That very day MissCrawleyleft off her afternoon dose of medicine:  thatafternoonBowls opened an independent bottle of sherryforhimself and Mrs. Firkin:  that night Miss Crawleyand MissBriggs indulged in a game of piquet insteadof one ofPorteus's sermons.  It was as in the old nursery-storywhen the stick forgot to beat the dogand thewholecourse of events underwent a peaceful and happyrevolution.

 

At a veryearly hour in the morningtwice or thrice aweekMissBriggs used to betake herself to a bathing-machineand disport in the water in a flannel gown andan oilskincap.  Rebeccaas we have seenwas aware ofthiscircumstanceand though she did not attempt tostormBriggs as she had threatenedand actually diveinto thatlady's presence and surprise her under thesacrednessof the awningMrs. Rawdon determined toattackBriggs as she came away from her bathrefreshedandinvigorated by her dipand likely to be in goodhumour.

 

So gettingup very early the next morningBeckybroughtthe telescope in their sitting-roomwhich facedthe seato bear upon the bathing-machines on the beach;saw Briggsarriveenter her box; and put out to sea;and was onthe shore just as the nymph of whom shecame inquest stepped out of the little caravan on to theshingles. It was a pretty picture:  the beach; the bathing-women'sfaces; the long line of rocks and building wereblushingand bright in the sunshine.  Rebecca wore a kindtendersmile on her faceand was holding out her prettywhite handas Briggs emerged from the box.  What couldBriggs dobut accept the salutation?

 

"MissSh--Mrs. Crawley" she said.

 

Mrs.Crawley seized her handpressed it to her heartand with asudden impulseflinging her arms roundBriggskissed her affectionately.  "Deardear friend!" shesaidwitha touch of such natural feelingthat MissBriggs ofcourse at once began to meltand even thebathing-womanwas mollified.

 

Rebeccafound no difficulty in engaging Briggs in a longintimateand delightful conversation.  Everything that hadpassedsince the morning of Becky's sudden departurefrom MissCrawley's house in Park Lane up to the presentdayandMrs. Bute's happy retreatwas discussed anddescribedby Briggs.  All Miss Crawley's symptomsandtheparticulars of her illness and medical treatmentwerenarratedby the confidante with that fulness andaccuracywhich women delight in.  About their complaintsand theirdoctors do ladies ever tire of talking to eachother? Briggs did not on this occasion; nor did Rebeccaweary oflistening.  She was thankfultruly thankfulthatthe dearkind Briggsthat the faithfulthe invaluableFirkinhad been permitted to remain with their benefactressthroughher illness.  Heaven bless her! though sheRebeccahad seemed to act undutifully towards MissCrawley;yet was not her fault a natural and excusable one?Could shehelp giving her hand to the man who had wonherheart?  Briggsthe sentimentalcould only turn upher eyesto heaven at this appealand heave asympatheticsighand think that shetoohad givenaway heraffections long years agoand own that Rebeccawas novery great criminal.

 

"CanI ever forget her who so befriended the friendlessorphan? Nothough she has cast me off" the lattersaid"Ishall never cease to love herand I would devotemy life toher service.  As my own benefactressas mybelovedRawdon's adored relativeI love and admire MissCrawleydear Miss Briggsbeyond any woman in theworldandnext to her I love all those who are faithfulto her. I would never have treated Miss Crawley'sfaithfulfriends as that odious designing Mrs. Bute hasdone. Rawdonwho was all heart" Rebecca continued"althoughhis outward manners might seem rough andcarelesshad said a hundred timeswith tears in his eyesthat heblessed Heaven for sending his dearest Aunty twosuchadmirable nurses as her attached Firkin and heradmirableMiss Briggs.  Should the machinations of thehorribleMrs. Bute endas she too much feared they wouldinbanishing everybody that Miss Crawley loved from hersideandleaving that poor lady a victim to those harpiesat theRectoryRebecca besought her (Miss Briggs) torememberthat her own homehumble as it waswasalwaysopen to receive Briggs.  Dear friend" sheexclaimedin a transport of enthusiasm"some heartscan neverforget benefits; all women are not ButeCrawleys! Though why should I complain of her" Rebeccaadded;"though I have been her tool and the victim to herartsdo Inot owe my dearest Rawdon to her?"  AndRebeccaunfolded to Briggs all Mrs. Bute's conduct atQueen'sCrawleywhichthough unintelligible to her thenwasclearly enough explained by the events now--nowthat theattachment had sprung up which Mrs. Bute hadencouragedby a thousand artifices--now that twoinnocentpeople had fallen into the snares which she hadlaid forthemand loved and married and been ruinedthroughher schemes.

 

It was allvery true.  Briggs saw the stratagems asclearly aspossible.  Mrs. Bute had made the matchbetweenRawdon and Rebecca.  Yetthough the latter was aperfectlyinnocent victimMiss Briggs could not disguisefrom herfriend her fear that Miss Crawley's affectionswerehopelessly estranged from Rebeccaand that the oldlady wouldnever forgive her nephew for making soimprudenta marriage.

 

On thispoint Rebecca had her own opinionandstill keptup a good heart.  If Miss Crawley did notforgivethem at presentshe might at least relent on afutureday.  Even nowthere was only that pulingsicklyPittCrawley between Rawdon and a baronetcy; and shouldanythinghappen to the formerall would be well.  At alleventstohave Mrs. Bute's designs exposedand herselfwellabusedwas a satisfactionand might be advantageoustoRawdon's interest; and Rebeccaafter an hour'schat withher recovered friendleft her with the mosttenderdemonstrations of regardand quite assured thattheconversation they had had together would bereportedto Miss Crawley before many hours were over.

 

Thisinterview endedit became full time for Rebeccato returnto her innwhere all the party of the previousday wereassembled at a farewell breakfast.  Rebecca tooksuch atender leave of Amelia as became two women wholoved eachother as sisters; and having used her handkerchiefplentifullyand hung on her friend's neck as if theywereparting for everand waved the handkerchief(which wasquite dryby the way) out of windowas thecarriagedrove offshe came back to the breakfast tableand atesome prawns with a good deal of appetiteconsideringher emotion; and while she was munching thesedelicaciesexplained to Rawdon what had occurred in hermorningwalk between herself and Briggs.  Her hopeswere veryhigh:  she made her husband share them.  Shegenerallysucceeded in making her husband share all heropinionswhether melancholy or cheerful.

 

"Youwill nowif you pleasemy dearsit down at thewriting-tableand pen me a pretty little letter to MissCrawleyin which you'll say that you are a good boyand thatsort of thing."  So Rawdon sate downand wroteoff"BrightonThursday" and "My dear Aunt" withgreatrapidity: but there the gallant officer's imaginationfailedhim.  He mumbled the end of his penand lookedup in hiswife's face.  She could not help laughing at hisruefulcountenanceand marching up and down the roomwith herhands behind herthe little woman began todictate aletterwhich he took down.

 

"Beforequitting the country and commencing a campaignwhich verypossibly may be fatal."

 

"What?"said Rawdonrather surprisedbut took thehumour ofthe phraseand presently wrote it down witha grin.

 

"Whichvery possibly may be fatalI have comehither--"

 

"Whynot say come hereBecky?  Come here's grammar"thedragoon interposed.

 

"Ihave come hither" Rebecca insistedwith a stampof herfoot"to say farewell to my dearest and earliestfriend. I beseech you before I gonot perhaps toreturnonce more to let me press the hand from whichI havereceived nothing but kindnesses all my life."

 

"Kindnessesall my life" echoed Rawdonscratchingdown thewordsand quite amazed at his own facility ofcomposition.

 

"Iask nothing from you but that we should part not inanger. I have the pride of my family on some pointsthough noton all.  I married a painter's daughterand amnotashamed of the union."

 

"Norun me through the body if I am!" Rawdon ejaculated.

 

"Youold booby" Rebecca saidpinching his ear andlookingover to see that he made no mistakes in spelling--"beseechis not spelt with an aand earliest is."  So healteredthese wordsbowing to the superior knowledge ofhis littleMissis.

 

"Ithought that you were aware of the progress of myattachment"Rebecca continued:  "I knew that Mrs. ButeCrawleyconfirmed and encouraged it.  But I make noreproaches. I married a poor womanand am content toabide bywhat I have done.  Leave your propertydearAuntasyou will.  I shall never complain of the way inwhich youdispose of it.  I would have you believe that Ilove youfor yourselfand not for money's sake.  I want tobereconciled to you ere I leave England.  Let meletme see youbefore I go.  A few weeks or months hence itmay be toolateand I cannot bear the notion of quittingthecountry without a kind word of farewell from you."

 

"Shewon't recognise my style in that" said Becky.  "Imade thesentences short and brisk on purpose." Andthisauthentic missive was despatched under cover to MissBriggs.

 

Old MissCrawley laughed when Briggswith greatmysteryhanded her over this candid and simplestatement. "We may read it now Mrs. Bute is away"she said. "Read it to meBriggs."

 

WhenBriggs had read the epistle outher patronesslaughedmore.  "Don't you seeyou goose" she said toBriggswho professed to be much touched by the honestaffectionwhich pervaded the composition"don't yousee thatRawdon never wrote a word of it.  He neverwrote tome without asking for money in his lifeand allhisletters are full of bad spellingand dashesand badgrammar. It is that little serpent of a governess who ruleshim."They are all alikeMiss Crawley thought in herheart. They all want me deadand are hankering for mymoney.

 

"Idon't mind seeing Rawdon" she addedafter apauseandin a tone of perfect indifference.  "I had justas soonshake hands with him as not.  Provided there isno scenewhy shouldn't we meet?  I don't mind.  Buthumanpatience has its limits; and mindmy dearIrespectfullydecline to receive Mrs. Rawdon--I can'tsupportthat quite"--and Miss Briggs was fain to be contentwith thishalf-message of conciliation; and thought thatthe bestmethod of bringing the old lady and her nephewtogetherwas to warn Rawdon to be in waiting on theCliffwhen Miss Crawley went out for her air in herchair.

 

There theymet.  I don't know whether Miss Crawleyhad anyprivate feeling of regard or emotion upon seeingher oldfavourite; but she held out a couple of fingersto himwith as smiling and good-humoured an airas ifthey hadmet only the day before.  And as for Rawdonhe turnedas red as scarletand wrung off Briggs's handso greatwas his rapture and his confusion at the meeting.Perhaps itwas interest that moved him:  or perhapsaffection: perhaps he was touched by the change whichtheillness of the last weeks had wrought in his aunt.

 

"Theold girl has always acted like a trump to me" hesaid tohis wifeas he narrated the interview"and I feltyou knowrather queerand that sort of thing.  I walkedby theside of the what-dy'e-call-'emyou knowand toher owndoorwhere Bowls came to help her in.  And Iwanted togo in very muchonly--"

 

"YOUDIDN'T GO INRawdon!" screamed his wife.

 

"Nomy dear; I'm hanged if I wasn't afraid when itcame tothe point."

 

"Youfool! you ought to have gone inand never comeoutagain" Rebecca said.

 

"Don'tcall me names" said the big Guardsmansulkily."PerhapsI WAS a foolBeckybut you shouldn't sayso";and he gave his wife a looksuch as his countenancecould wearwhen angeredand such as was not pleasantto face.

 

"Welldearestto-morrow you must be on the look-outand go andsee hermindwhether she asks you or no"Rebeccasaidtrying to soothe her angry yoke-mate.  Onwhich herepliedthat he would do exactly as he likedand wouldjust thank her to keep a civil tongue in herhead--andthe wounded husband went awayand passedtheforenoon at the billiard-roomsulkysilentandsuspicious.

 

But beforethe night was over he was compelled togive inand ownas usualto his wife's superior prudenceandforesightby the most melancholy confirmation of thepresentimentswhich she had regarding the consequencesof themistake which he had made.  Miss Crawley musthave hadsome emotion upon seeing him and shakinghands withhim after so long a rupture.  She mused uponthemeeting a considerable time.  "Rawdon is getting veryfat andoldBriggs" she said to her companion.  "Hisnose hasbecome redand he is exceedingly coarse inappearance. His marriage to that woman has hopelesslyvulgarisedhim.  Mrs. Bute always said they drank together;and I haveno doubt they do.  Yes:  he smelt of ginabominably. I remarked it.  Didn't you?"

 

In vainBriggs interposed that Mrs. Bute spoke ill ofeverybody:andas far as a person in her humble positioncouldjudgewas an--

 

"Anartful designing woman?  Yesso she isand shedoes speakill of every one--but I am certain that womanhas madeRawdon drink.  All those low people do--"

 

"Hewas very much affected at seeing youma'am" thecompanionsaid; "and I am surewhen you remember thathe isgoing to the field of danger--"

 

"Howmuch money has he promised youBriggs?" theoldspinster cried outworking herself into a nervousrage--"therenowof course you begin to cry.  I hatescenes. Why am I always to be worried?  Go and cry up inyour ownroomand send Firkin to me-- nostopsitdown andblow your noseand leave off cryingand writea letterto Captain Crawley." Poor Briggs went andplacedherself obediently at the writing-book.  Its leaveswereblotted all over with relics of the firmstrongrapidhandwritingof the spinster's late amanuensisMrs. ButeCrawley.

 

"Begin'My dear sir' or 'Dear sir' that will be betterand sayyou are desired by Miss Crawley--noby MissCrawley'smedical manby Mr. Creamerto state thatmy healthis such that all strong emotions would bedangerousin my present delicate condition--and that I mustdeclineany family discussions or interviews whatever.And thankhim for coming to Brightonand so forthandbeg himnot to stay any longer on my account.  AndMissBriggsyou may add that I wish him a bon voyageandthat if hewill take the trouble to call upon my lawyer'sin Gray'sInn Squarehe will find there a communicationfor him. Yesthat will do; and that will make him leaveBrighton."The benevolent Briggs penned this sentencewith theutmost satisfaction.

 

"Toseize upon me the very day after Mrs. Bute wasgone"the old lady prattled on; "it was too indecent.Briggsmydearwrite to Mrs. Crawleyand say SHEneedn'tcome back.  No--she needn't--and she shan't--and Iwon't be a slave in my own house--and I won't bestarvedand choked with poison.  They all want to kill me--all--all"--andwith this the lonely old woman burstinto ascream of hysterical tears.

 

The lastscene of her dismal Vanity Fair comedy wasfastapproaching; the tawdry lamps were going out oneby one;and the dark curtain was almost ready todescend.

 

That finalparagraphwhich referred Rawdon to MissCrawley'ssolicitor in Londonand which Briggs hadwritten sogood-naturedlyconsoled the dragoon and hiswifesomewhatafter their first blank disappointmentonreadingthe spinster's refusal of a reconciliation.  And iteffectedthe purpose for which the old lady had caused itto bewrittenby making Rawdon very eager to get toLondon.

 

Out ofJos's losings and George Osborne's bank-noteshe paidhis bill at the innthe landlord whereof does notprobablyknow to this day how doubtfully his accountoncestood.  Foras a general sends his baggage to therearbefore an actionRebecca had wisely packed up alltheirchief valuables and sent them off under care ofGeorge'sservantwho went in charge of the trunks onthe coachback to London.  Rawdon and his wifereturnedby the same conveyance next day.

 

"Ishould have liked to see the old girl before we went"Rawdonsaid.  "She looks so cut up and altered that I'msure shecan't last long.  I wonder what sort of a chequeI shallhave at Waxy's.  Two hundred--it can't be lessthan twohundred--heyBecky?"

 

Inconsequence of the repeated visits of the aides-de-camp ofthe Sheriff of MiddlesexRawdon and his wifedid not goback to their lodgings at Bromptonbut putup at aninn.  Early the next morningRebecca had anopportunityof seeing them as she skirted that suburbon herroad to old Mrs. Sedley's house at Fulhamwhithershe wentto look for her dear Amelia and her Brightonfriends. They were all off to Chathamthence to Harwichto takeshipping for Belgium with the regiment--kind oldMrs. Sedley very much depressed and tearfulsolitary. Returning from this visitRebecca found herhusbandwho had been off to Gray's Innand learnt hisfate. He came back furious.

 

"ByJoveBecky" says he"she's only given me twentypound!"

 

Though ittold against themselvesthe joke was toogoodandBecky burst out laughing at Rawdon'sdiscomfiture.

 

 

 

 

CHAPTERXXVIBetweenLondon and Chatham

 

Onquitting Brightonour friend Georgeas became aperson ofrank and fashion travelling in a barouche withfourhorsesdrove in state to a fine hotel in CavendishSquarewhere a suite of splendid roomsand a tablemagnificentlyfurnished with plate and surrounded by ahalf-dozenof black and silent waiterswas ready toreceivethe young gentleman and his bride.  George did thehonours ofthe place with a princely air to Jos andDobbin;and Ameliafor the first timeand with exceedingshynessand timiditypresided at what George called herown table.

 

Georgepooh-poohed the wine and bullied the waitersroyallyand Jos gobbled the turtle with immense satisfaction.Dobbinhelped him to it; for the lady of the housebeforewhom the tureen was placedwas so ignorant ofthecontentsthat she was going to help Mr. Sedley withoutbestowingupon him either calipash or calipee.

 

Thesplendour of the entertainmentand the apartmentsin whichit was givenalarmed Mr. Dobbinwhoremonstratedafter dinnerwhen Jos was asleep in the greatchair. But in vain he cried out against the enormity ofturtle andchampagne that was fit for an archbishop."I'vealways been accustomed to travel like a gentleman"Georgesaid"anddammemy wife shall travel like alady. As long as there's a shot in the lockershe shallwant fornothing" said the generous fellowquite pleasedwithhimself for his magnificence of spirit.  Nor didDobbin tryand convince him that Amelia's happiness was notcentred inturtle-soup.

 

A whileafter dinnerAmelia timidly expressed a wishto go andsee her mammaat Fulham: which permissionGeorgegranted her with some grumbling.  And she trippedaway toher enormous bedroomin the centre of whichstood theenormous funereal bed"that the EmperorHalixander'ssister slep in when the allied sufferings washere"and put on her little bonnet and shawl with theutmosteagerness and pleasure.  George was still drinkingclaretwhen she returned to the dining-roomand madeno signsof moving.  "Ar'n't you coming with medearest?"she askedhim.  No; the "dearest" had "business"thatnight.  His man should get her a coach and go withher. And the coach being at the door of the hotelAmeliamadeGeorge a little disappointed curtsey after lookingvainlyinto his face once or twiceand went sadly downthe greatstaircaseCaptain Dobbin afterwho handed herinto thevehicleand saw it drive away to its destination.The veryvalet was ashamed of mentioning the address tothehackney-coachman before the hotel waitersandpromisedto instruct him when they got further on.

 

Dobbinwalked home to his old quarters and theSlaughters'thinking very likely that it would be delightfulto be inthat hackney-coachalong with Mrs. Osborne.George wasevidently of quite a different taste; for whenhe hadtaken wine enoughhe went off to half-price atthe playto see Mr. Kean perform in Shylock.  CaptainOsbornewas a great lover of the dramaand had himselfperformedhigh-comedy characters with great distinctionin severalgarrison theatrical entertainments.  Jos slept onuntil longafter darkwhen he woke up with a start atthemotions of his servantwho was removing andemptyingthe decanters on the table; and the hackney-coachstand wasagain put into requisition for a carriage toconveythis stout hero to his lodgings and bed.

 

Mrs.Sedleyyou may be sureclasped her daughter toher heartwith all maternal eagerness and affectionrunningout of the door as the carriage drew up before thelittlegarden-gateto welcome the weepingtremblingyoungbride.  Old Mr. Clappwho was in his shirt-sleevestrimmingthe garden-plotshrank back alarmed.  The Irishservant-lassrushed up from the kitchen and smiled a"Godbless you."  Amelia could hardly walk along theflags andup the steps into the parlour.

 

How thefloodgates were openedand mother anddaughterweptwhen they were together embracing eachother inthis sanctuarymay readily be imagined by everyreader whopossesses the least sentimental turn.  Whendon'tladies weep?  At what occasion of joysorroworotherbusiness of lifeandafter such an event as amarriagemother and daughter were surely at liberty to giveway to asensibility which is as tender as it is refreshing.About aquestion of marriage I have seen womenwho hateeach other kiss and cry together quite fondly.How muchmore do they feel when they love!  Good mothersaremarried over again at their daughters' weddings:and as forsubsequent eventswho does not know howultra-maternalgrandmothers are?--in fact a womanuntilshe is agrandmotherdoes not often really know what tobe amother is.  Let us respect Amelia and her mammawhisperingand whimpering and laughing and crying intheparlour and the twilight.  Old Mr. Sedley did.  HE hadnotdivined who was in the carriage when it drove up.  Hehad notflown out to meet his daughterthough he kissedher verywarmly when she entered the room (where hewasoccupiedas usualwith his papers and tapes andstatementsof accounts)and after sitting with the motheranddaughter for a short timehe very wisely left thelittleapartment in their possession.

 

George'svalet was looking on in a very superciliousmanner atMr. Clapp in his shirt-sleeveswatering hisrose-bushes. He took off his hathoweverwith muchcondescensionto Mr. Sedleywho asked news abouthisson-in-lawand about Jos's carriageand whether hishorses hadbeen down to Brightonand about thatinfernaltraitor Bonapartyand the war; until the Irishmaid-servantcame with a plate and a bottle of winefrom whichthe old gentleman insisted upon helping thevalet. He gave him a half-guinea toowhich the servantpocketedwith a mixture of wonder and contempt.  "Tothe healthof your master and mistressTrotter" Mr.Sedleysaid"and here's something to drink your healthwhen youget homeTrotter."

 

There werebut nine days past since Amelia had leftthatlittle cottage and home--and yet how far off thetimeseemed since she had bidden it farewell.  What agulf laybetween her and that past life.  She could lookback to itfrom her present standing-placeand contemplatealmost asanother beingthe young unmarried girlabsorbedin her lovehaving no eyes but for one specialobjectreceiving parental affection if not ungratefullyat leastindifferentlyand as if it were her due--herwholeheart and thoughts bent on the accomplishment ofonedesire.  The review of those daysso lately gone yetso farawaytouched her with shame; and the aspect ofthe kindparents filled her with tender remorse.  Was theprizegained--the heaven of life--and the winner stilldoubtfuland unsatisfied?  As his hero and heroine passthematrimonial barrierthe novelist generally drops thecurtainas if the drama were over then:  the doubts andstrugglesof life ended:  as ifonce landed in the marriagecountryall were green and pleasant there:  and wifeandhusband had nothing to do but to link each other'sarmstogetherand wander gently downwards towardsold age inhappy and perfect fruition.  But our littleAmelia wasjust on the bank of her new countryand wasalreadylooking anxiously back towards the sad friendlyfigureswaving farewell to her across the streamfrom theotherdistant shore.

 

In honourof the young bride's arrivalher motherthought itnecessary to prepare I don't know what festiveentertainmentand after the first ebullition of talktookleave ofMrs. George Osborne for a whileand diveddown tothe lower regions of the house to a sort ofkitchen-parlour(occupied by Mr. and Mrs. Clappandin theeveningwhen her dishes were washed and hercurl-papersremovedby Miss Flanniganthe Irish servant)there totake measures for the preparing of a magnificentornamentedtea.  All people have their ways ofexpressingkindnessand it seemed to Mrs. Sedley that amuffin anda quantity of orange marmalade spread outin alittle cut-glass saucer would be peculiarly agreeablerefreshmentsto Amelia in her most interesting situation.

 

Whilethese delicacies were being transacted belowAmelialeaving the drawing-roomwalked upstairs andfoundherselfshe scarce knew howin the little roomwhich shehad occupied before her marriageand in thatvery chairin which she had passed so many bitter hours.She sankback in its arms as if it were an old friend;and fellto thinking over the past weekand the lifebeyondit.  Already to be looking sadly and vaguely back:always tobe pining for something whichwhen obtainedbroughtdoubt and sadness rather than pleasure; herewas thelot of our poor little creature and harmless lostwandererin the great struggling crowds of Vanity Fair.

 

Here shesateand recalled to herself fondly that imageof Georgeto which she had knelt before marriage.  Didshe own toherself how different the real man was fromthatsuperb young hero whom she had worshipped?  Itrequiresmanymany years--and a man must be very badindeed--beforea woman's pride and vanity will let herown tosuch a confession.  Then Rebecca's twinklinggreen eyesand baleful smile lighted upon herand filledher withdismay.  And so she sate for awhile indulgingin herusual mood of selfish broodingin that verylistlessmelancholy attitude in which the honest maid-servanthad foundheron the day when she brought up theletter inwhich George renewed his offer of marriage.

 

She lookedat the little white bedwhich had been hersa few daysbeforeand thought she would like to sleepin it thatnightand wakeas formerlywith her mothersmilingover her in the morning:  Then she thought withterror ofthe great funereal damask pavilion in the vastand dingystate bedroomwhich was awaiting her at thegrandhotel in Cavendish Square.  Dear little white bed!how many along night had she wept on its pillow!How shehad despaired and hoped to die there; and nowwere notall her wishes accomplishedand the lover ofwhom shehad despaired her own for ever?  Kind mother!howpatiently and tenderly she had watched round thatbed! She went and knelt down by the bedside; and therethiswounded and timorousbut gentle and loving soulsought forconsolationwhere as yetit must be ownedour littlegirl had but seldom looked for it.  Love hadbeen herfaith hitherto; and the sadbleeding disappointedheartbegan to feel the want of another consoler.

 

Have we aright to repeat or to overhear her prayers?Thesebrotherare secretsand out of the domain ofVanityFairin which our story lies.

 

But thismay be saidthat when the tea was finallyannouncedour young lady came downstairs a great dealmorecheerful; that she did not despondor deplore herfateorthink about George's coldnessor Rebecca's eyesas she hadbeen wont to do of late.  She went downstairsand kissedher father and motherand talked tothe oldgentlemanand made him more merry than hehad beenfor many a day.  She sate down at the pianowhichDobbin had bought for herand sang over all herfather'sfavourite old songs.  She pronounced the tea tobeexcellentand praised the exquisite taste in whichthemarmalade was arranged in the saucers.  And indeterminingto make everybody else happyshe foundherselfso; and was sound asleep in the great funerealpavilionand only woke up with a smile when Georgearrivedfrom the theatre.

 

For thenext dayGeorge had more important "business"totransact than that which took him to see Mr.Kean inShylock.  Immediately on his arrival in Londonhe hadwritten off to his father's solicitorssignifying hisroyalpleasure that an interview should take place betweenthem onthe morrow.  His hotel billlosses atbilliardsand cards to Captain Crawley had almost drainedthe youngman's pursewhich wanted replenishing beforehe set outon his travelsand he had no resource buttoinfringe upon the two thousand pounds which theattorneyswere commissioned to pay over to him.  Hehad aperfect belief in his own mind that his fatherwouldrelent before very long.  How could any parentbeobdurate for a length of time against such aparagon ashe was?  If his mere past and personal merits didnotsucceed in mollifying his fatherGeorge determinedthat hewould distinguish himself so prodigiously in theensuingcampaign that the old gentleman must give in tohim. And if not?  Bah! the world was before him.  Hisluck mightchange at cardsand there was a deal ofspendingin two thousand pounds.

 

So he sentoff Amelia once more in a carriage to hermammawith strict orders and carte blanche to the twoladies topurchase everything requisite for a lady of Mrs.GeorgeOsborne's fashionwho was going on a foreigntour. They had but one day to complete the outfitandit may beimagined that their business therefore occupiedthempretty fully.  In a carriage once morebustlingabout frommilliner to linen-draperescorted back to thecarriageby obsequious shopmen or polite ownersMrs.Sedley washerself again almostand sincerely happy forthe firsttime since their misfortunes.  Nor was Mrs.Amelia atall above the pleasure of shoppingandbargainingand seeing and buying pretty things.  (Wouldany manthe most philosophicgive twopence for awoman whowas?)  She gave herself a little treatobedientto her husband's ordersand purchased aquantityof lady's gearshowing a great deal of taste andelegantdiscernmentas all the shopfolks said.

 

And aboutthe war that was ensuingMrs. Osbornewas notmuch alarmed; Bonaparty was to be crushedalmostwithout a struggle.  Margate packets were sailingevery dayfilled with men of fashion and ladies of noteon theirway to Brussels and Ghent.  People were goingnot somuch to a war as to a fashionable tour.  Thenewspaperslaughed the wretched upstart and swindler toscorn. Such a Corsican wretch as that withstand thearmies ofEurope and the genius of the immortalWellington! Amelia held him in utter contempt; for it needsnot to besaid that this soft and gentle creature took heropinionsfrom those people who surrounded hersuchfidelitybeing much too humble-minded to think for itself.Wellin awordshe and her mother performed agreatday's shoppingand she acquitted herself withconsiderableliveliness and credit on this her firstappearancein the genteel world of London.

 

Georgemeanwhilewith his hat on one sidehis elbowssquaredand his swaggering martial airmade forBedfordRowand stalked into the attorney's offices as ifhe waslord of every pale-faced clerk who was scribblingthere. He ordered somebody to inform Mr. Higgs thatCaptainOsborne was waitingin a fierce and patronizingwayas ifthe pekin of an attorneywho had thrice hisbrainsfifty times his moneyand a thousand times hisexperiencewas a wretched underling who shouldinstantlyleave all his business in life to attend on theCaptain'spleasure.  He did not see the sneer of contemptwhichpassed all round the roomfrom the firstclerk tothe articled gentsfrom the articled gents to theraggedwriters and white-faced runnersin clothes tootight forthemas he sate there tapping his boot with hiscaneandthinking what a parcel of miserable poor devilsthesewere.  The miserable poor devils knew all about hisaffairs. They talked about them over their pints of beerat theirpublic-house clubs to other clerks of a night.Ye godswhat do not attorneys and attorneys' clerksknow inLondon!  Nothing is hidden from theirinquisitionand their families mutely rule our city.

 

PerhapsGeorge expectedwhen he entered Mr. Higgs'sapartmentto find that gentleman commissioned to givehim somemessage of compromise or conciliation fromhisfather; perhaps his haughty and cold demeanourwasadopted as a sign of his spirit and resolution:  but ifsohisfierceness was met by a chilling coolness andindifferenceon the attorney's partthat renderedswaggeringabsurd.  He pretended to be writing at a paperwhen theCaptain entered.  "Praysit downsir" said he"andI will attend to your little affair in a moment.  Mr.Poegetthe release papersif you please"; and then hefell towriting again.

 

Poe havingproduced those papershis chief calculatedthe amountof two thousand pounds stock at the rate ofthe day;and asked Captain Osborne whether he wouldtake thesum in a cheque upon the bankersor whetherhe shoulddirect the latter to purchase stock to thatamount. "One of the late Mrs. Osborne's trustees is outof town"he said indifferently"but my client wishes tomeet yourwishesand have done with the business asquick aspossible."

 

"Giveme a chequesir" said the Captain very surlily."Damnthe shillings and halfpencesir" he addedas thelawyer wasmaking out the amount of the draft; andflatteringhimself that by this stroke of magnanimity hehad putthe old quiz to the blushhe stalked out ofthe officewith the paper in his pocket.

 

"Thatchap will be in gaol in two years" Mr. Higgs saidto Mr.Poe.

 

"Won'tO. come roundsirdon't you think?"

 

"Won'tthe monument come round" Mr. Higgs replied.

 

"He'sgoing it pretty fast" said the clerk.  "He's onlymarried aweekand I saw him and some other militarychapshanding Mrs. Highflyer to her carriage after theplay."And then another case was calledand Mr. GeorgeOsbornethenceforth dismissed from these worthygentlemen'smemory.

 

The draftwas upon our friends Hulker and Bullock ofLombardStreetto whose housestill thinking he wasdoingbusinessGeorge bent his wayand from whom hereceivedhis money.  Frederick BullockEsq.whoseyellowface was over a ledgerat which sate a demure clerkhappenedto be in the banking-room when George entered.His yellowface turned to a more deadly colourwhen hesaw the Captainand he slunk back guiltily intothe inmostparlour.  George was too busy gloating overthe money(for he had never had such a sum before)tomark thecountenance or flight of the cadaverous suitorof hissister.

 

FredBullock told old Osborne of his son's appearanceandconduct.  "He came in as bold as brass" saidFrederick. "He has drawn out every shilling.  How longwill a fewhundred pounds last such a chap as that?"Osborneswore with a great oath that he little cared when orhow soonhe spent it.  Fred dined every day in RussellSquarenow.  But altogetherGeorge was highly pleasedwith hisday's business.  All his own baggage and outfitwas putinto a state of speedy preparationand he paidAmelia'spurchases with cheques on his agentsand withthesplendour of a lord.

 

 

 

 

CHAPTERXXVIIInWhich Amelia Joins Her Regiment

 

When Jos'sfine carriage drove up to the inn door atChathamthe first face which Amelia recognized was thefriendlycountenance of Captain Dobbinwho had beenpacing thestreet for an hour past in expectation of hisfriends'arrival.  The Captainwith shells on his frockcoatand acrimson sash and sabrepresented a militaryappearancewhich made Jos quite proud to be able toclaim suchan acquaintanceand the stout civilian hailedhim with acordiality very different from the receptionwhich Josvouchsafed to his friend in Brighton and BondStreet.

 

Along withthe Captain was Ensign Stubble; whoasthebarouche neared the innburst out with an exclamationof "ByJove! what a pretty girl"; highly applaudingOsborne'schoice.  IndeedAmelia dressed in her wedding-pelisseand pink ribbonswith a flush in her faceoccasionedby rapid travel through the open airlooked sofresh andprettyas fully to justify the Ensign's compliment.Dobbinliked him for making it.  As he stepped forwardto helpthe lady out of the carriageStubble sawwhat apretty little hand she gave himand what a sweetprettylittle foot came tripping down the step.  He blushedprofuselyand made the very best bow of which he wascapable;to which Ameliaseeing the number of the theregimentembroidered on the Ensign's capreplied with ablushingsmileand a curtsey on her part; which finishedthe youngEnsign on the spot.  Dobbin took most kindly toMr.Stubble from that dayand encouraged him to talkaboutAmelia in their private walksand at each other'squarters. It became the fashionindeedamong all thehonestyoung fellows of the --th to adore and admireMrs.Osborne.  Her simple artless behaviourandmodestkindness of demeanourwon all their unsophisticatedhearts;all which simplicity and sweetness are quiteimpossibleto describe in print.  But who has not beheldtheseamong womenand recognised the presence of allsorts ofqualities in themeven though they say no moreto youthan that they are engaged to dance the nextquadrilleor that it is very hot weather?  Georgealways thechampionof his regimentrose immensely in the opinionof theyouth of the corpsby his gallantry in marrying thisportionlessyoung creatureand by his choice of such aprettykind partner.

 

In thesitting-room which was awaiting the travellersAmeliatoher surprisefound a letter addressed to Mrs.CaptainOsborne.  It was a triangular billeton pink paperand sealedwith a dove and an olive branchand aprofusionof light blue sealing waxand it was written ina verylargethough undecided female hand.

 

"It'sPeggy O'Dowd's fist" said Georgelaughing.  "Iknow it bythe kisses on the seal." And in factit was anote fromMrs. Major O'Dowdrequesting the pleasureof Mrs.Osborne's company that very evening to a smallfriendlyparty.  "You must go" George said.  "Youwillmakeacquaintance with the regiment there.  O'Dowd goesin commandof the regimentand Peggy goes in command

 

But theyhad not been for many minutes in the enjoymentof Mrs.O'Dowd's letterwhen the door was flungopenanda stout jolly ladyin a riding-habitfollowed bya coupleof officers of Oursentered the room.

 

"SureI couldn't stop till tay-time.  Present meGargemy dearfellowto your lady.  MadamI'm deloighted tosee ye;and to present to you me husbandMeejorO'Dowd";and with thisthe jolly lady in the riding-habitgraspedAmelia's hand very warmlyand the latter knewat oncethat the lady was before her whom her husbandhad sooften laughed at.  "You've often heard of me fromthathusband of yours" said the ladywith great vivacity.

 

"You'veoften heard of her" echoed her husbandtheMajor.

 

Ameliaansweredsmiling"that she had."

 

"Andsmall good he's told you of me" Mrs. O'Dowdreplied;adding that "George was a wicked divvle."

 

"ThatI'll go bail for" said the Majortrying to lookknowingat which George laughed; and Mrs. O'Dowdwith a tapof her whiptold the Major to be quiet; andthenrequested to be presented in form to Mrs. CaptainOsborne.

 

"Thismy dear" said George with great gravity"is myvery goodkindand excellent friendAuralia Margarettaotherwisecalled Peggy."

 

"Faithyou're right" interposed the Major.

 

"Otherwisecalled Peggylady of Major MichaelO'Dowdofour regimentand daughter of FitzjurldBer'sfordde Burgo Malony of GlenmalonyCounty Kildare."

 

"AndMuryan SqueerDoblin" said the lady with calmsuperiority.

 

"AndMuryan Squaresure enough" the Majorwhispered.

 

"'Twasthere ye coorted meMeejor dear" the ladysaid; andthe Major assented to this as to every otherpropositionwhich was made generally in company.

 

MajorO'Dowdwho had served his sovereign in everyquarter ofthe worldand had paid for every step in hisprofessionby some more than equivalent act of daringandgallantrywas the most modestsilentsheep-facedand meekof little menand as obedient to his wife as ifhe hadbeen her tay-boy.  At the mess-table he sat silentlyand dranka great deal.  When full of liquorhereeledsilently home.  When he spokeit was to agree witheverybodyon every conceivable point; and he passedthroughlife in perfect ease and good-humour.  Thehottestsuns of India never heated his temper; and theWalcherenague never shook it.  He walked up to a batterywith justas much indifference as to a dinner-table; haddined onhorse-flesh and turtle with equal relish andappetite;and had an old motherMrs. O'Dowd ofO'Dowdstownindeedwhom he had never disobeyedbut whenhe ran away and enlistedand when he persistedinmarrying that odious Peggy Malony.

 

Peggy wasone of five sistersand eleven children of thenoblehouse of Glenmalony; but her husbandthough herowncousinwas of the mother's sideand so had not theinestimableadvantage of being allied to the Malonyswhom shebelieved to be the most famous family in theworld. Having tried nine seasons at Dublin and two atBath andCheltenhamand not finding a partner for lifeMissMalony ordered her cousin Mick to marry her whenshe wasabout thirty-three years of age; and the honestfellowobeyingcarried her off to the West Indiestopresideover the ladies of the --th regimentinto which hehad justexchanged.

 

BeforeMrs. O'Dowd was half an hour in Amelia's (orindeed inanybody else's) companythis amiable lady toldall herbirth and pedigree to her new friend.  "My dear"said shegood-naturedly"it was my intention that Gargeshould bea brother of my ownand my sister Glorvinawould havesuited him entirely.  But as bygones arebygonesand he was engaged to yourselfwhyI'mdeterminedto take you as a sister insteadand to look uponyou assuchand to love you as one of the family.  Faithyou've gotsuch a nice good-natured face and way widgyouthatI'm sure we'll agree; and that you'll be anadditionto our family anyway."

 

"'Deedand she will" said O'Dowdwith an approvingairandAmelia felt herself not a little amused andgratefulto be thus suddenly introduced to so large aparty ofrelations.

 

"We'reall good fellows here" the Major's lady continued."There'snot a regiment in the service where you'llfind amore united society nor a more agreeable mess-room. There's no quarrellingbickeringslandtheringnorsmall talkamongst us.  We all love each other."

 

"EspeciallyMrs. Magenis" said Georgelaughing.

 

"Mrs.Captain Magenis and me has made upthoughhertreatment of me would bring me gray hairs withsorrow tothe grave."

 

"Andyou with such a beautiful front of blackPeggymy dear"the Major cried.

 

"Houldyour tongueMickyou booby.  Them husbandsare alwaysin the wayMrs. Osbornemy dear; and asfor myMickI often tell him he should never open hismouth butto give the word of commandor to put meatand drinkinto it.  I'll tell you about the regimentandwarn youwhen we're alone.  Introduce me to your brothernow; surehe's a mighty fine manand reminds me of mecousinDan Malony (Malony of Ballymalonymy dearyou knowwho mar'ied Ophalia Scullyof Oystherstownown cousinto Lord Poldoody).  Mr. SedleysirI'mdeloightedto be made known te ye.  I suppose you'll dineat themess to-day.  (Mind that divvle of a doctherMickandwhatever ye dukeep yourself sober for me partythisevening.)"

 

"It'sthe 150th gives us a farewell dinnermy love"interposedthe Major"but we'll easy get a card for Mr.Sedley."

 

"RunSimple (Ensign Simpleof Oursmy dear Amelia.I forgotto introjuice him to ye).  Run in a hurrywithMrs. MajorO'Dowd's compliments to Colonel TavishandCaptain Osborne has brought his brothernlaw downand willbring him to the 150th mess at five o'clock sharp--when youand Imy dearwill take a snack hereif youlike." Before Mrs. O'Dowd's speech was concludedtheyoungEnsign was trotting downstairs on his commission.

 

"Obedienceis the soul of the army.  We will go to ourduty whileMrs. O'Dowd will stay and enlighten youEmmy"Captain Osborne said; and the two gentlementakingeach a wing of the Majorwalked out with thatofficergrinning at each other over his head.

 

Andnowhaving her new friend to herselfthe impetuousMrs:O'Dowd proceeded to pour out such aquantityof information as no poor little woman's memorycould evertax itself to bear.  She told Amelia a thousandparticularsrelative to the very numerous family of whichthe amazedyoung lady found herself a member.  "Mrs.Heavytopthe Colonel's wifedied in Jamaica of theyellowfaver and a broken heart comboinedfor the horrudoldColonelwith a head as bald as a cannon-ballwasmakingsheep's eyes at a half-caste girl there.  Mrs.Magenisthough without educationwas a good womanbut shehad the divvle's tongueand would cheat her ownmother atwhist.  Mrs. Captain Kirk must turn up herlobstereyes forsooth at the idea of an honest round game(whereinme fawtheras pious a man as ever went tochurchmeuncle Dane Malonyand our cousin theBishoptook a hand at looor whistevery night of theirlives). Nayther of 'em's goin' with the regiment this time"Mrs.O'Dowd added.  "Fanny Magenis stops with hermotherwho sells small coal and potatoesmost likelyinIslington-townhard by Londonthough she's alwaysbraggingof her father's shipsand pointing them out to usas they goup the river:  and Mrs. Kirk and her childrenwill stophere in Bethesda Placeto be nigh to her favouritepreacherDr. Ramshorn.  Mrs. Bunny's in an interestingsituation--faithand she always isthen--and hasgiven theLieutenant seven already.  And Ensign Posky'swifewhojoined two months before youmy dearhasquarl'dwith Tom Posky a score of timestill you canhear'm allover the bar'ck (they say they're come tobrokenpleetsand Tom never accounted for his black oi)and she'llgo back to her motherwho keeps a ladies'siminaryat Richmond--bad luck to her for running awayfrom it! Where did ye get your finishingmy dear?  I hadmoinandno expince sparedat Madame Flanahan'satIlyssusGroveBooterstownnear Dublinwid a Marchionessto teachus the true Parisian pronunciationand a retiredMejor-Generalof the French service to put usthroughthe exercise."

 

Of thisincongruous family our astonished Amelia foundherselfall of a sudden a member:  with Mrs. O'Dowd asan eldersister.  She was presented to her other femalerelationsat tea-timeon whomas she was quietgood-naturedand not too handsomeshe made rather anagreeableimpression until the arrival of the gentlemen fromthe messof the 150thwho all admired her sothat hersistersbeganof courseto find fault with her.

 

"Ihope Osborne has sown his wild oats" said Mrs.Magenis toMrs. Bunny.  "If a reformed rake makes agoodhusbandsure it's she will have the fine chance withGarge"Mrs. O'Dowd remarked to Poskywho had lostherposition as bride in the regimentand was quite angrywith theusurper.  And as for Mrs. Kirk:  that disciple ofDr.Ramshorn put one or two leading professionalquestionsto Ameliato see whether she was awakenedwhethershe was a professing Christian and so forthandfindingfrom the simplicity of Mrs. Osborne's replies thatshe wasyet in utter darknessput into her hands threelittlepenny books with picturesviz.the "HowlingWilderness"the "Washerwoman of Wandsworth Common"and the"British Soldier's best Bayonet" whichbent uponawakeningher before she sleptMrs. Kirk begged Ameliato readthat night ere she went to bed.

 

But allthe menlike good fellows as they wereralliedroundtheir comrade's pretty wifeand paid her theircourt withsoldierly gallantry.  She had a little triumphwhichflushed her spirits and made her eyes sparkle.George wasproud of her popularityand pleased with themanner(which was very gay and gracefulthough naiveand alittle timid) with which she received the gentlemen's attentionsandanswered their compliments.  Andhe in hisuniform--how much handsomer he was thanany man inthe room!  She felt that he was affectionatelywatchingherand glowed with pleasure at his kindness.  "Iwill makeall his friends welcome" she resolved in herheart. "I will love all as I love him.  I will always try andbe gay andgood-humoured and make his home happy."

 

Theregiment indeed adopted her with acclamation.TheCaptains approvedthe Lieutenants applaudedtheEnsignsadmired.  Old Cutlerthe Doctormade one ortwo jokeswhichbeing professionalneed not be repeated;andCacklethe Assistant M.D. of Edinburghcondescendedto examineher upon leeteratureand tried herwith histhree best French quotations.  Young Stubble wentabout fromman to man whispering"Joveisn't she aprettygal?" and never took his eyes off her except whenthe neguscame in.

 

As forCaptain Dobbinhe never so much as spoke toher duringthe whole evening.  But he and Captain Porterof thel50th took home Jos to the hotelwho was in averymaudlin stateand had told his tiger-hunt story withgreateffectboth at the mess-table and at the soireetoMrs.O'Dowd in her turban and bird of paradise.  Havingput theCollector into the hands of his servantDobbinloiteredaboutsmoking his cigar before the inn door.George hadmeanwhile very carefully shawled his wifeandbrought her away from Mrs. O'Dowd's after a generalhandshakingfrom the young officerswho accompaniedher to theflyand cheered that vehicle as it drove off.  SoAmeliagave Dobbin her little hand as she got out of thecarriageand rebuked him smilingly for not having takenany noticeof her all night.

 

TheCaptain continued that deleterious amusement ofsmokinglong after the inn and the street were gone tobed. He watched the lights vanish from George's sitting-roomwindowsand shine out in the bedroom close athand. It was almost morning when he returned to his ownquarters. He could hear the cheering from the ships inthe riverwhere the transports were already taking intheircargoes preparatory to dropping down the Thames.

 

 

 

 

 

CHAPTERXVIIIInWhich Amelia Invades the Low Countries

 

Theregiment with its officers was to be transported inshipsprovided by His Majesty's government for theoccasion: and in two days after the festive assembly at Mrs.O'Dowd'sapartmentsin the midst of cheering from allthe EastIndia ships in the riverand the military on shorethe bandplaying "God Save the King" the officers wavingtheirhatsand the crews hurrahing gallantlythe transportswent downthe river and proceeded under convoy toOstend. Meanwhile the gallant Jos had agreed to escorthis sisterand the Major's wifethe bulk of whose goodsandchattelsincluding the famous bird of paradise andturbanwere with the regimental baggage: so that ourtwoheroines drove pretty much unencumbered toRamsgatewhere there were plenty of packets plyinginone ofwhich they had a speedy passage to Ostend.

 

Thatperiod of Jos's life which now ensued was so fullofincidentthat it served him for conversation formany yearsafterand even the tiger-hunt story was putaside formore stirring narratives which he had to tellabout thegreat campaign of Waterloo.  As soon as hehad agreedto escort his sister abroadit was remarkedthat heceased shaving his upper lip.  At Chatham hefollowedthe parades and drills with great assiduity.  Helistenedwith the utmost attention to the conversation ofhisbrother officers (as he called them in after dayssometimes)and learned as many military names as he could.In thesestudies the excellent Mrs. O'Dowd was of greatassistanceto him; and on the day finally when theyembarkedon board the Lovely Rosewhich was to carrythem totheir destinationhe made his appearance in abraidedfrock-coat and duck trouserswith a foragingcapornamented with a smart gold band.  Having hiscarriagewith himand informing everybody on boardconfidentiallythat he was going to join the Duke ofWellington'sarmyfolks mistook him for a great personageacommissary-generalor a government courier at the veryleast.

 

Hesuffered hugely on the voyageduring which theladieswere likewise prostrate; but Amelia was brought tolife againas the packet made Ostendby the sight ofthetransports conveying her regimentwhich entered theharbouralmost at the same time with the Lovely Rose.Jos wentin a collapsed state to an innwhile CaptainDobbinescorted the ladiesand then busied himself infreeingJos's carriage and luggage from the ship and thecustom-housefor Mr. Jos was at present without aservantOsborne's man and his own pampered menialhavingconspired together at Chathamand refused point-blank tocross the water.  This revoltwhich came verysuddenlyand on the last dayso alarmed Mr. Sedleyjuniorthat he was on the point of giving up the expeditionbutCaptain Dobbin (who made himself immenselyofficiousin the businessJos said)rated him andlaughed athim soundly:  the mustachios were grown inadvanceand Jos finally was persuaded to embark.  Inplace ofthe well-bred and well-fed London domesticswho couldonly speak EnglishDobbin procured for Jos'sparty aswarthy little Belgian servant who could speaknolanguage at all; but whoby his bustling behaviourand byinvariably addressing Mr. Sedley as "My lord"speedilyacquired that gentleman's favour.  Times arealtered atOstend now; of the Britons who go thithervery fewlook like lordsor act like those members ofourhereditary aristocracy.  They seem for the most partshabby inattiredingy of linenlovers of billiards andbrandyand cigars and greasy ordinaries.

 

But it maybe said as a rulethat every Englishmanin theDuke of Wellington's army paid his way.  Theremembranceof such a fact surely becomes a nation ofshopkeepers. It was a blessing for a commerce-lovingcountry tobe overrun by such an army of customers:and tohave such creditable warriors to feed.  And thecountrywhich they came to protect is not military.  Fora longperiod of history they have let other people fightthere. When the present writer went to survey with eagleglance thefield of Waterloowe asked the conductor ofthediligencea portly warlike-looking veteranwhetherhe hadbeen at the battle.  "Pas si bete"--such ananswer andsentiment as no Frenchman would own to--was hisreply.  Buton the other handthe postilionwho droveus was a Viscounta son of some bankruptImperialGeneralwho accepted a pennyworth of beeron theroad.  The moral is surely a good one.

 

This flatflourishingeasy country never could havelookedmore rich and prosperous than in that openingsummer of1815when its green fields and quiet citieswereenlivened by multiplied red-coats: when its widechausseesswarmed with brilliant English equipages:when itsgreat canal-boatsgliding by rich pastures andpleasantquaint old villagesby old chateaux lyingamongstold treeswere all crowded with well-to-do English travellers:when thesoldier who drank at the villageinnnotonly drankbut paid his score; and DonaldtheHighlanderbilleted in the Flemish farm-houserocked thebaby's cradlewhile Jean and Jeannette wereoutgetting in the hay.  As our painters are bent on militarysubjectsjust nowI throw out this as a good subjectfor thepencilto illustrate the principle of an honestEnglishwar.  All looked as brilliant and harmless as aHyde Parkreview.  MeanwhileNapoleon screened behindhiscurtain of frontier-fortresseswas preparing fortheoutbreak which was to drive all these orderly peopleinto furyand blood; and lay so many of them low.

 

Everybodyhad such a perfect feeling of confidencein theleader (for the resolute faith which the Duke ofWellingtonhad inspired in the whole English nation wasas intenseas that more frantic enthusiasm with whichat onetime the French regarded Napoleon)the countryseemed inso perfect a state of orderly defenceand thehelp athand in case of need so near and overwhelmingthat alarmwas unknownand our travellersamongwhom twowere naturally of a very timid sortwerelike allthe other multiplied English touristsentirely atease. The famous regimentwith so many of whoseofficerswe have made acquaintancewas drafted in canalboats toBruges and Ghentthence to march to Brussels.Josaccompanied the ladies in the public boats; the whichall oldtravellers in Flanders must remember for theluxury andaccommodation they afforded.  So prodigiouslygood wasthe eating and drinking on board thesesluggishbut most comfortable vesselsthat there are legendsextant ofan English travellerwhocoming to Belgiumfor aweekand travelling in one of these boatswas sodelightedwith the fare there that he went backwardsandforwards from Ghent to Bruges perpetually until therailroadswere inventedwhen he drowned himself on thelast tripof the passage-boat.  Jos's death was not to beof thissortbut his comfort was exceedingand Mrs.O'Dowdinsisted that he only wanted her sister Glorvinato makehis happiness complete.  He sate on the roofof thecabin all day drinking Flemish beershouting forIsidorhis servantand talking gallantly to the ladies.

 

Hiscourage was prodigious.  "Boney attack us!" hecried. "My dear creaturemy poor Emmydon't befrightened. There's no danger.  The allies will be in Parisin twomonthsI tell you; when I'll take you to dinein thePalais Royalby Jove!  There are three hundredthousandRooshiansI tell younow entering France byMayenceand the Rhine--three hundred thousand underWittgensteinand Barclay de Tollymy poor love.  Youdon't knowmilitary affairsmy dear.  I doand I tellyouthere's no infantry in France can stand againstRooshianinfantryand no general of Boney's that's fitto hold acandle to Wittgenstein.  Then there are theAustriansthey are five hundred thousand if a manandthey arewithin ten marches of the frontier by this timeunderSchwartzenberg and Prince Charles.  Then there aretheProoshians under the gallant Prince Marshal.  Showme acavalry chief like him now that Murat is gone.HeyMrs.O'Dowd?  Do you think our little girl hereneed beafraid?  Is there any cause for fearIsidor?  Heysir? Get some more beer."

 

Mrs.O'Dowd said that her "Glorvina was not afraidof any manalivelet alone a Frenchman" and tossedoff aglass of beer with a wink which expressed herliking forthe beverage.

 

Havingfrequently been in presence of the enemyorin otherwordsfaced the ladies at Cheltenham and Bathourfriendthe Collectorhad lost a great deal of hispristinetimidityand was nowespecially when fortifiedwithliquoras talkative as might be.  He was rather afavouritewith the regimenttreating the young officerswithsumptuosityand amusing them by his military airs.And asthere is one well-known regiment of the armywhichtravels with a goat heading the columnwhilstanother isled by a deerGeorge said with respect to hisbrother-in-lawthat his regiment marched with anelephant.

 

SinceAmelia's introduction to the regimentGeorgebegan tobe rather ashamed of some of the company towhich hehad been forced to present her; and determinedas he toldDobbin (with what satisfaction to the latterit neednot be said)to exchange into some better regimentsoonandto get his wife away from those damnedvulgarwomen.  But this vulgarity of being ashamed ofone'ssociety is much more common among men thanwomen(except very great ladies of fashionwhoto besureindulge in it); and Mrs. Ameliaa natural andunaffectedpersonhad none of that artificial shamefacednesswhich herhusband mistook for delicacy on his ownpart. Thus Mrs. O'Dowd had a cock's plume in her hatand a verylarge "repayther" on her stomachwhich sheused toring on all occasionsnarrating how it had beenpresentedto her by her fawtheras she stipt into thecar'geafter her mar'ge; and these ornamentswith otheroutwardpeculiarities of the Major's wifegave excruciatingagonies toCaptain Osbornewhen his wife and theMajor'scame in contact; whereas Amelia was onlyamused bythe honest lady's eccentricitiesand not inthe leastashamed of her company.

 

As theymade that well-known journeywhich almosteveryEnglishman of middle rank has travelled sincetheremight have been more instructivebut few moreentertainingcompanions than Mrs. Major O'Dowd.  "Talkaboutkenal boats; my dear!  Ye should see the kenalboatsbetween Dublin and Ballinasloe.  It's there the rapidtravellingis; and the beautiful cattle.  Sure me fawthergot agoold medal (and his Excellency himself eat a sliceof itandsaid never was finer mate in his loif) for afour-year-oldheiferthe like of which ye never saw inthiscountry any day." And Jos owned with a sigh"thatfor goodstreaky beefreally mingled with fat and leanthere wasno country like England."

 

"ExceptIrelandwhere all your best mate comes from"said theMajor's lady; proceedingas is not unusual withpatriotsof her nationto make comparisons greatly infavour ofher own country.  The idea of comparing themarket atBruges with those of Dublinalthough she hadsuggestedit herselfcaused immense scorn and derisionon herpart.  "I'll thank ye tell me what they mean bythat oldgazabo on the top of the market-place" saidshein aburst of ridicule fit to have brought the oldtowerdown.  The place was full of English soldiery astheypassed.  English bugles woke them in the morning;atnightfall they went to bed to the note of the Britishfife anddrum:  all the country and Europe was in armsand thegreatest event of history pending:  and honestPeggyO'Dowdwhom it concerned as well as anotherwent onprattling about Ballinafadand the horses in thestables atGlenmalonyand the clar't drunk there; andJos Sedleyinterposed about curry and rice at Dumdum;and Ameliathought about her husbandand how bestshe shouldshow her love for him; as if these werethe greattopics of the world.

 

Those wholike to lay down the History-bookand tospeculateupon what MIGHT have happened in the worldbut forthe fatal occurrence of what actually did takeplace (amost puzzlingamusingingeniousand profitablekind ofmeditation)have no doubt often thought tothemselveswhat a specially bad time Napoleon took tocome backfrom Elbaand to let loose his eagle fromGulf SanJuan to Notre Dame.  The historians on ourside tellus that the armies of the allied powers wereallprovidentially on a war-footingand ready to beardown at amoment's notice upon the Elban Emperor.The augustjobbers assembled at Viennaand carvingout thekingdoms of Europe according to their wisdomhad suchcauses of quarrel among themselves as mighthave setthe armies which had overcome Napoleon tofightagainst each otherbut for the return of the objectofunanimous hatred and fear.  This monarch had an armyin fullforce because he had jobbed to himself Polandand wasdetermined to keep it:  another had robbed halfSaxonyand was bent upon maintaining his acquisition:Italy wasthe object of a third's solicitude.  Each wasprotestingagainst the rapacity of the other; and could theCorsicanbut have waited in prison until all these partieswere bythe earshe might have returned and reignedunmolested. But what would have become of our storyand allour friendsthen?  If all the drops in it were driedupwhatwould become of the sea?

 

In themeanwhile the business of life and livingandthepursuits of pleasureespeciallywent on as if no endwere to beexpected to themand no enemy in front.When ourtravellers arrived at Brusselsin which theirregimentwas quartereda great piece of good fortuneas allsaidthey found themselves in one of the gayestand mostbrilliant little capitals in Europeand whereall theVanity Fair booths were laid out with the mosttemptingliveliness and splendour.  Gambling was here inprofusionand dancing in plenty:  feasting was there tofill withdelight that great gourmand of a Jos:  therewas atheatre where a miraculous Catalani was delightingallhearers:  beautiful ridesall enlivened with martialsplendour;a rare old citywith strange costumes andwonderfularchitectureto delight the eyes of little Ameliawho hadnever before seen a foreign countryand fillher withcharming surprises: so that now and for a fewweeks'space in a fine handsome lodgingwhereof theexpenseswere borne by Jos and Osbornewho was flushof moneyand full of kind attentions to his wife--forabout afortnightI sayduring which her honeymoonendedMrs. Amelia was as pleased and happy as anylittlebride out of England.

 

Every dayduring this happy time there was noveltyandamusement for all parties.  There was a church toseeor apicture-gallery--there was a rideor an opera.The bandsof the regiments were making music at allhours. The greatest folks of England walked in the Park--therewas a perpetual military festival.  Georgetakingout hiswife to a new jaunt or junket every nightwasquitepleased with himself as usualand swore he wasbecomingquite a domestic character.  And a jaunt ora junketwith HIM!  Was it not enough to set this littleheartbeating with joy?  Her letters home to her motherwerefilled with delight and gratitude at this season.  Herhusbandbade her buy lacesmillineryjewelsandgimcracksof all sorts.  Ohhe was the kindestbestandmostgenerous of men!

 

The sightof the very great company of lords and ladiesandfashionable persons who thronged the townandappearedin every public placefilled George's truly Britishsoul withintense delight.  They flung off that happyfrigidityand insolence of demeanour which occasionallycharacterisesthe great at homeand appearing innumberlesspublic placescondescended to mingle with therest ofthe company whom they met there.  One nightat a partygiven by the general of the division to whichGeorge'sregiment belongedhe had the honour of dancingwith LadyBlanche ThistlewoodLord Bareacres'daughter;he bustled for ices and refreshments for thetwo nobleladies; he pushed and squeezed for LadyBareacres'carriage; he bragged about the Countess whenhe gothomein a way which his own father could nothavesurpassed.  He called upon the ladies the next day;he rode bytheir side in the Park; he asked their partyto a greatdinner at a restaurateur'sand was quitewild withexultation when they agreed to come.  OldBareacreswho had not much pride and a large appetitewould gofor a dinner anywhere.

 

"I.hopethere will be no women besides our ownparty"Lady Bareacres saidafter reflecting upon theinvitationwhich had been madeand accepted with toomuchprecipitancy.

 

"GraciousHeavenMamma--you don't suppose theman wouldbring his wife" shrieked Lady Blanchewhohad beenlanguishing in George's arms in the newlyimportedwaltz for hours the night before.  "The men arebearablebut their women--"

 

"Wifejust marrieddev'lish pretty womanI hear"the oldEarl said.

 

"Wellmy dear Blanche" said the mother"I supposeas Papawants to gowe must go; but we needn't knowthem inEnglandyou know." And sodetermined to cuttheir newacquaintance in Bond Streetthese great folkswent toeat his dinner at Brusselsand condescending tomake himpay for their pleasureshowed their dignityby makinghis wife uncomfortableand carefully excludingher fromthe conversation.  This is a species of dignityin whichthe high-bred British female reigns supreme.  Towatch thebehaviour of a fine lady to other and humblerwomenisa very good sport for a philosophical frequenterof VanityFair.

 

Thisfestivalon which honest George spent a greatdeal ofmoneywas the very dismallest of all theentertainmentswhich Amelia had in her honeymoon.  Shewrote themost piteous accounts of the feast home tohermamma:  how the Countess of Bareacres would notanswerwhen spoken to; how Lady Blanche stared at herwith hereye-glass; and what a rage Captain Dobbin wasin attheir behaviour; and how my lordas they cameaway fromthe feastasked to see the billand pronouncedit a d--bad dinnerand d-- dear.  But though Ameliatold allthese storiesand wrote home regardingherguests' rudenessand her own discomfitureold Mrs.Sedley was mightily pleased neverthelessand talkedabout Emmy's friendthe Countess ofBareacreswith such assiduity that the news how his sonwasentertaining peers and peeresses actually came toOsborne'sears in the City.

 

Those whoknow the present Lieutenant-General SirGeorgeTuftoK.C.B.and have seen himas they mayon mostdays in the seasonpadded and in staysstruttingdown PallMall with a rickety swagger on his high-heeledlacqueredbootsleering under the bonnets of passers-byorriding a showy chestnutand ogling broughams intheParks--those who know the present Sir George Tuftowouldhardly recognise the daring Peninsular and Waterlooofficer. He has thick curling brown hair and blackeyebrowsnowand his whiskers are of the deepestpurple. He was light-haired and bald in 1815and stouterin theperson and in the limbswhich especially haveshrunkvery much of late.  When he was about seventyyears ofage (he is now nearly eighty)his hairwhichwas veryscarce and quite whitesuddenly grew thickand brownand curlyand his whiskers and eyebrowstook theirpresent colour.  Ill-natured people say thathis chestis all wooland that his hairbecause it nevergrowsisa wig.  Tom Tuftowith whose father he quarrelledever somany years agodeclares that Mademoisellede Jaiseyof the French theatrepulled hisgrandpapa'shair off in the green-room; but Tom isnotoriouslyspiteful and jealous; and the General's wig hasnothing todo with our story.

 

One dayas some of our friends of the --th weresaunteringin the flower-market of Brusselshaving beento see theHotel de Villewhich Mrs. Major O'Dowddeclaredwas not near so large or handsome as herfawther'smansion of Glenmalonyan officer of rankwithan orderlybehind himrode up to the marketanddescendingfrom his horsecame amongst the flowersandselectedthe very finest bouquet which money could buy.Thebeautiful bundle being tied up in a paperthe officerremountedgiving the nosegay into the charge of hismilitarygroomwho carried it with a grinfollowing hischiefwhorode away in great state and self-satisfaction.

 

"Youshould see the flowers at Glenmalony" Mrs.O'Dowd wasremarking.  "Me fawther has three Scotchgarnerswith nine helpers.  We have an acre of hot-housesand pinesas common as pays in the sayson.  Our greepsweighs sixpounds every bunch of 'emand upon mehonour andconscience I think our magnolias is as bigastaykettles."

 

Dobbinwho never used to "draw out" Mrs. O'Dowdas thatwicked Osborne delighted in doing (much toAmelia'sterrorwho implored him to spare her)fellback inthe crowdcrowing and sputtering until hereached asafe distancewhen he exploded amongst theastonishedmarket-people with shrieks of yelling laughter.

 

"Hwhat'sthat gawky guggling about?" said Mrs.O'Dowd. "Is it his nose bleedn?  He always used to say'twas hisnose bleedntill he must have pomped all theblood outof 'um.  An't the magnolias at Glenmalonyas big astaykettlesO'Dowd?"

 

"'Deedthen they areand biggerPeggy" the Majorsaid. When the conversation was interrupted in themannerstated by the arrival of the officer who purchasedthebouquet.

 

"Devlishfine horse--who is it?" George asked.

 

"Youshould see me brother Molloy Malony's horseMolassesthat won the cop at the Curragh" the Major'swife wasexclaimingand was continuing the familyhistorywhen her husband interrupted her by saying--

 

"It'sGeneral Tuftowho commands the ---- cavalrydivision";adding quietly"he and I were both shot inthe sameleg at Talavera."

 

"Whereyou got your step" said George with a laugh."GeneralTufto! Thenmy dearthe Crawleys are come."

 

Amelia'sheart fell--she knew not why.  The sun didnot seemto shine so bright.  The tall old roofs andgableslooked less picturesque all of a suddenthoughit was abrilliant sunsetand one of the brightest andmostbeautiful days at the end of May.

 

 

 

 

CHAPTERXXIXBrussels

 

Mr. Joshad hired a pair of horses for his open carriagewith whichcattleand the smart London vehiclehe madea verytolerable figure in the drives about Brussels.Georgepurchased a horse for his private ridingandhe andCaptain Dobbin would often accompany thecarriagein which Jos and his sister took daily excursionsofpleasure.  They went out that day in the park for theiraccustomeddiversionand theresure enoughGeorge'sremarkwith regard to the arrival of Rawdon Crawley andhis wifeproved to be correct.  In the midst of a littletroop ofhorsemenconsisting of some of the very greatestpersons inBrusselsRebecca was seen in the prettiestandtightest of riding-habitsmounted on a beautifullittleArabwhich she rode to perfection (having acquiredthe art atQueen's Crawleywhere the BaronetMr.PittandRawdon himself had given her many lessons)and by theside of the gallant General Tufto.

 

"Sureit's the Juke himself" cried Mrs. Major O'Dowdto Joswho began to blush violently; "and that's LordUxbridgeon the bay.  How elegant he looks!  Me brotherMolloyMalonyis as like him as two pays."

 

Rebeccadid not make for the carriage; but as soonas sheperceived her old acquaintance Amelia seated initacknowledged her presence by a gracious nod andsmileandby kissing and shaking her fingers playfullyin thedirection of the vehicle.  Then she resumed herconversationwith General Tuftowho asked "who thefatofficer was in the gold-laced cap?" on which Beckyreplied"that he was an officer in the East Indian service."But RawdonCrawley rode out of the ranks of hiscompanyand came up and shook hands heartily withAmeliaand said to Jos"Wellold boyhow are you?"and staredin Mrs. O'Dowd's face and at.the black cock'sfeathersuntil she began to think she had made aconquestof him.

 

Georgewho had been delayed behindrode up almostimmediatelywith Dobbinand they touched their caps tothe augustpersonagesamong whom Osborne at onceperceivedMrs. Crawley.  He was delighted to see Rawdonleaningover his carriage familiarly and talking to Ameliaand metthe aide-de-camp's cordial greeting with morethancorresponding warmth.  The nods between Rawdonand Dobbinwere of the very faintest specimens ofpoliteness.

 

Crawleytold George where they were stopping withGeneralTufto at the Hotel du Parcand George madehis friendpromise to come speedily to Osborne's ownresidence. "Sorry I hadn't seen you three days ago"Georgesaid.  "Had a dinner at the Restaurateur's--rather anicething.  Lord Bareacresand the Countessand LadyBlanchewere good enough to dine with us--wish we'dhad you."Having thus let his friend know his claims to bea man offashionOsborne parted from Rawdonwhofollowedthe august squadron down an alley into whichtheycanteredwhile George and Dobbin resumed theirplacesone on each side of Amelia's carriage.

 

"Howwell the Juke looked" Mrs. O'Dowd remarked."TheWellesleys and Malonys are related; butof coursepoor Iwould never dream of introjuicing myself unlesshis Gracethought proper to remember our family-tie."

 

"He'sa great soldier" Jos saidmuch more at easenow thegreat man was gone.  "Was there ever a battlewon likeSalamanca?  HeyDobbin?  But where was it helearnt hisart?  In Indiamy boy!  The jungle's the schoolfor ageneralmark me that.  I knew him myselftooMrs.O'Dowd:  we both of us danced the same eveningwith MissCutlerdaughter of Cutler of the Artilleryanda devilishfine girlat Dumdum."

 

Theapparition of the great personages held themall intalk during the drive; and at dinner; and until thehour camewhen they were all to go to the Opera.

 

It wasalmost like Old England.  The house was filledwithfamiliar British facesand those toilettes for whichtheBritish female has long been celebrated.  Mrs.O'Dowd'swas not the least splendid amongst theseandshe had acurl on her foreheadand a set of Irish diamondsandCairngormswhich outshone all the decorationsin thehousein her notion.  Her presence used toexcruciateOsborne; but go she would upon all parties ofpleasureon which she heard her young friends were bent.It neverentered into her thought but that they must becharmedwith her company.

 

"She'sbeen useful to youmy dear" George said tohis wifewhom he could leave alone with less scruplewhen shehad this society.  "But what a comfort it is thatRebecca'scome:  you will have her for a friendand wemay getrid now of this damn'd Irishwoman."  To thisAmelia didnot answeryes or no:  and how do we knowwhat herthoughts were?

 

The coupd'oeil of the Brussels opera-house did notstrikeMrs. O'Dowd as being so fine as the theatre inFishambleStreetDublinnor was French music at allequalinher opinionto the melodies of her native country.Shefavoured her friends with these and other opinionsin a veryloud tone of voiceand tossed about agreatclattering fan she sportedwith the most splendidcomplacency.

 

"Whois that wonderful woman with AmeliaRawdonlove?"said a lady in an opposite box (whoalmost alwayscivil toher husband in privatewas more fond thanever ofhim in company).

 

"Don'tyou see that creature with a yellow thing inherturbanand a red satin gownand a great watch?"

 

"Nearthe pretty little woman in white?" asked amiddle-agedgentleman seated by the querist's sidewithorders inhis buttonand several under-waistcoatsanda greatchokywhite stock.

 

"Thatpretty woman in white is AmeliaGeneral:  youareremarking all the pretty womenyou naughty man."

 

"Onlyonebegadin the world!" said the Generaldelightedand thelady gave him a tap with a large bouquetwhich shehad.

 

"Bedadit's him" said Mrs. O'Dowd; "and that's thevery bokayhe bought in the Marshy aux Flures!" andwhenRebeccahaving caught her friend's eyeperformedthe littlehand-kissing operation once moreMrs. MajorO'D.taking the compliment to herselfreturned the salutewith agracious smilewhich sent that unfortunateDobbinshrieking out of the box again.

 

At the endof the actGeorge was out of the box in amomentand he was even going to pay his respects toRebecca inher loge.  He met Crawley in the lobbyhoweverwhere theyexchanged a few sentences upon theoccurrencesof the last fortnight.

 

"Youfound my cheque all right at the agent's?Georgesaidwith a knowing air.

 

"Allrightmy boy" Rawdon answered.  "Happy to giveyou yourrevenge.  Governor come round?"

 

"Notyet" said George"but he will; and you know I'vesomeprivate fortune through my mother.  Has Auntyrelented?"

 

"Sentme twenty pounddamned old screw.  When shallwe have ameet?  The General dines out on Tuesday.Can't youcome Tuesday?  I saymake Sedley cut off hismoustache. What the devil does a civilian mean with amoustacheand those infernal frogs to his coat!  By-bye.Try andcome on Tuesday"; and Rawdon was going-offwith twobrilliant young gentlemen of fashionwho werelikehimselfon the staff of a general officer.

 

George wasonly half pleased to be asked to dinner onthatparticular day when the General was not to dine.  "Iwill go inand pay my respects to your wife" said he; atwhichRawdon said"Hmas you please" looking veryglumandat which the two young officers exchangedknowingglances.  George parted from them and strutteddown thelobby to the General's boxthe number of whichhe hadcarefully counted.

 

"Entrez"said a clear little voiceand our friend foundhimself inRebecca's presence; who jumped upclappedher handstogetherand held out both of them to Georgeso charmedwas she to see him.  The Generalwith theorders inhis buttonstared at the newcomer with a sulkyscowlasmuch as to saywho the devil are you?

 

"Mydear Captain George!" cried little Rebecca in anecstasy. "How good of you to come.  The General and Iweremoping together tete-a-tete.  Generalthis is myCaptainGeorge of whom you heard me talk."

 

"Indeed"said the Generalwith a very small bow; "ofwhatregiment is Captain George?"

 

Georgementioned the --th:  how he wished he couldhave saidit was a crack cavalry corps.

 

"Comehome lately from the West IndiesI believe.Not seenmuch service in the late war.  Quartered hereCaptainGeorge?"--the General went on with killinghaughtiness.

 

"NotCaptain Georgeyou stupid man; Captain Osborne"Rebeccasaid.  The General all the while was lookingsavagelyfrom one to the other.

 

"CaptainOsborneindeed! Any relation to the L--Osbornes?"

 

"Webear the same arms" George saidas indeed wasthe fact;Mr. Osborne having consulted with a herald inLong Acreand picked the L-- arms out of the peeragewhen heset up his carriage fifteen years before.  TheGeneralmade no reply to this announcement; but tookup hisopera-glass--the double-barrelled lorgnon was notinventedin those days--and pretended to examine thehouse; butRebecca saw that his disengaged eye wasworkinground in her directionand shooting outbloodshotglances at her and George.

 

Sheredoubled in cordiality.  "How is dearest Amelia?But Ineedn't ask: how pretty she looks!  And who is thatnicegood-natured looking creature with her--a flame ofyours? Oyou wicked men!  And there is Mr. SedleyeatingiceI declare: how he seems to enjoy it!  Generalwhyhave wenot had any ices?"

 

"ShallI go and fetch you some?" said the Generalburstingwith wrath.

 

"LetME goI entreat you" George said.

 

"NoI will go to Amelia's box.  Dearsweet girl!  Giveme yourarmCaptain George"; and so sayingand with anod to theGeneralshe tripped into the lobby.  She gaveGeorge thequeerestknowingest lookwhen they weretogethera look which might have been interpreted"Don'tyou see the state of affairsand what a fool I'mmaking ofhim?"  But he did not perceive it.  He wasthinkingof his own plansand lost in pompous admirationof his ownirresistible powers of pleasing.

 

The cursesto which the General gave a low utteranceas soon asRebecca and her conqueror had quitted himwere sodeepthat I am sure no compositor wouldventure toprint them were they written down.  They camefrom theGeneral's heart; and a wonderful thing it is tothink thatthe human heart is capable of generating suchproduceand can throw outas occasion demandssucha supplyof lust and furyrage and hatred.

 

Amelia'sgentle eyestoohad been fixed anxiously onthe pairwhose conduct had so chafed the jealous General;but whenRebecca entered her boxshe flew to herfriendwith an affectionate rapture which showed itselfinspite ofthe publicity of the place; for she embraced herdearestfriend in the presence of the whole houseat leastin fullview of the General's glassnow brought to bearupon theOsborne party.  Mrs. Rawdon saluted Jostoowith thekindliest greeting: she admired Mrs. O'Dowd'slargeCairngorm brooch and superb Irish diamondsandwouldn'tbelieve that they were not from Golconda direct.Shebustledshe chatteredshe turned and twistedand smiledupon oneand smirked on anotherall in fullview ofthe jealous opera-glass opposite.  And when thetime forthe ballet came (in which there was no dancerthat wentthrough her grimaces or performed her comedyof actionbetter)she skipped back to her own boxleaningon CaptainDobbin's arm this time.  Noshe wouldnot haveGeorge's: he must stay and talk to his dearestbestlittle Amelia.

 

"Whata humbug that woman is!" honest old Dobbinmumbled toGeorgewhen he came back from Rebecca'sboxwhither he had conducted her in perfect silenceandwith acountenance as glum as an undertaker's.  "Shewrithesand twists about like a snake.  All the time shewas heredidn't you seeGeorgehow she was acting attheGeneral over the way?"

 

"Humbug--acting! Hang itshe's the nicest littlewoman inEngland" George repliedshowing his whiteteethandgiving his ambrosial whiskers a twirl.  "Youain't aman of the worldDobbin.  Dammylook at hernowshe'stalked over Tufto in no time.  Look how he'slaughing! Gadwhat a shoulder she has!  Emmywhydidn't youhave a bouquet?  Everybody has a bouquet."

 

"Faiththenwhy didn't you BOY one?" Mrs. O'Dowdsaid; andboth Amelia and William Dobbin thanked herfor thistimely observation.  But beyond this neither ofthe ladiesrallied.  Amelia was overpowered by the flashand thedazzle and the fashionable talk of her worldly rival.Even theO'Dowd was silent and subdued after Becky'sbrilliantapparitionand scarcely said a word more aboutGlenmalonyall the evening.

 

"Whendo you intend to give up playGeorgeas youhavepromised meany time these hundred years?" Dobbinsaid tohis friend a few days after the night at theOpera. "When do you intend to give up sermonising?"was theother's reply.  "What the deucemanare youalarmedabout?  We play low; I won last night.  Youdon'tsuppose Crawley cheats?  With fair play it comesto prettymuch the same thing at the year's end."

 

"ButI don't think he could pay if he lost" Dobbinsaid; andhis advice met with the success which adviceusuallycommands.  Osborne and Crawley were repeatedlytogethernow.  General Tufto dined abroad almost constantly.George wasalways welcome in the apartments(veryclose indeed to those of the General) which theaide-de-campand his wife occupied in the hotel.

 

Amelia'smanners were such when she and George visitedCrawleyand his wife at these quartersthat they hadverynearly come to their first quarrel; that isGeorgescoldedhis wife violently for her evident unwillingness togoandthe high and mighty manner in which she comportedherselftowards Mrs. Crawleyher old friend; andAmelia didnot say one single word in reply; but with herhusband'seye upon herand Rebecca scanning her as shefeltwasif possiblemore bashful and awkward on thesecondvisit which she paid to Mrs. Rawdonthan on herfirstcall.

 

Rebeccawas doubly affectionateof courseand wouldnot takenoticein the leastof her friend's coolness.  "Ithink Emmyhas become prouder since her father's namewas inthe--since Mr. Sedley's MISFORTUNES" Rebeccasaidsoftening the phrase charitably for George's ear.

 

"Uponmy wordI thought when we were at Brightonshe wasdoing me the honour to be jealous of me; andnow Isuppose she is scandalised because Rawdonand Iand theGeneral live together.  Whymy dear creaturehow couldwewith our meanslive at allbut for a friendto shareexpenses?  And do you suppose that Rawdon isnot bigenough to take care of my honour?  But I'm verymuchobliged to Emmyvery" Mrs. Rawdon said.

 

"Poohjealousy!" answered George"all women arejealous."

 

"Andall men too.  Weren't you jealous of GeneralTuftoandthe General of youon the night of the Opera?Whyhewas ready to eat me for going with you to visitthatfoolish little wife of yours; as if I care a pin foreither ofyou" Crawley's wife saidwith a pert toss ofher head. "Will you dine here?  The dragon dines with theCommander-in-Chief. Great news is stirring.  They saythe Frenchhave crossed the frontier.  We shall have aquietdinner."

 

Georgeaccepted the invitationalthough his wife was alittleailing.  They were now not quite six weeks married.Anotherwoman was laughing or sneering at her expenseand he notangry.  He was not even angry with himselfthisgood-natured fellow.  It is a shamehe owned to himself;but hangitif a pretty woman WILL throw herself inyour waywhywhat can a fellow doyou know?  I AMratherfree about womenhe had often saidsmiling andnoddingknowingly to Stubble and Spooneyand othercomradesof the mess-table; and they rather respectedhim thanotherwise for this prowess.  Next to conqueringin warconquering in love has been a source of pridetime outof mindamongst men in Vanity Fairor howshouldschoolboys brag of their amoursor Don Juan bepopular?

 

So Mr.Osbornehaving a firm conviction in his ownmind thathe was a woman-killer and destined to conquerdid notrun counter to his fatebut yielded himselfup to itquite complacently.  And as Emmy did not saymuch orplague him with her jealousybut merely becameunhappyand pined over it miserably in secrethe choseto fancythat she was not suspicious of what all hisacquaintancewere perfectly aware--namelythat he wascarryingon a desperate flirtation with Mrs. Crawley.  Herode withher whenever she was free.  He pretendedregimentalbusiness to Amelia (by which falsehood she wasnot in theleast deceived)and consigning his wife tosolitudeor her brother's societypassed his evenings intheCrawleys' company; losing money to the husband andflatteringhimself that the wife was dying of love for him.It is verylikely that this worthy couple never absolutelyconspiredand agreed together in so many words:  the oneto cajolethe young gentlemanwhilst the other won hismoney atcards: but they understood each other perfectlywellandRawdon let Osborne come and go with entiregoodhumour.

 

George wasso occupied with his new acquaintancesthat heand William Dobbin were by no means so muchtogetheras formerly.  George avoided him in public andin theregimentandas we seedid not like thosesermonswhich his senior was disposed to inflict upon him.If someparts of his conduct made Captain Dobbinexceedinglygrave and cool; of what use was it to tell Georgethatthough his whiskers were largeand his ownopinion ofhis knowingness greathe was as green as aschoolboy?that Rawdon was making a victim of him as he haddone ofmany beforeand as soon as he had used himwouldfling him off with scorn?  He would not listen:  andsoasDobbinupon those days when he visited the0sbornehouseseldom had the advantage of meeting hisoldfriendmuch painful and unavailing talk betweenthem wasspared.  Our friend George was in the full careerof thepleasures of Vanity Fair.

 

Therenever wassince the days of Dariussuch a brillianttrain ofcamp-followers as hung round the Duke ofWellington'sarmy in the Low Countriesin 1815; andled itdancing and feastingas it wereup to the verybrink ofbattle.  A certain ball which a noble Duchessgave atBrussels on the 15th of June in the above-namedyear ishistorical.  All Brussels had been in a state ofexcitementabout itand I have heard from ladies whowere inthat town at the periodthat the talk and interestof personsof their own sex regarding the ball was muchgreatereven than in respect of the enemy in their front.Thestrugglesintriguesand prayers to get tickets weresuch asonly English ladies will employin order to gainadmissionto the society of the great of their own nation.

 

Jos andMrs. O'Dowdwho were panting to be askedstrove invain to procure tickets; but others of our friendswere morelucky.  For instancethrough the interest ofmy LordBareacresand as a set-off for the dinner at therestaurateur'sGeorge got a card for Captain and Mrs.Osborne;which circumstance greatly elated him.  Dobbinwho was afriend of the General commanding the divisionin whichtheir regiment wascame laughing oneday toMrs. Osborneand displayed a similar invitationwhich madeJos enviousand George wonder how thedeuce heshould be getting into society.  Mr. and Mrs.Rawdonfinallywere of course invited; as became thefriends ofa General commanding a cavalry brigade.

 

On theappointed nightGeorgehaving commandednewdresses and ornaments of all sorts for Ameliadroveto thefamous ballwhere his wife did not know a singlesoul. After looking about for Lady Bareacreswho cuthimthinking the card was quite enough--and afterplacingAmelia on a benchhe left her to her owncogitationstherethinkingon his own partthat he hadbehavedvery handsomely in getting her new clothesandbringingher to the ballwhere she was free to amuseherself asshe liked.  Her thoughts were not of thepleasantestand nobody except honest Dobbin came todisturbthem.

 

Whilst herappearance was an utter failure (as herhusbandfelt with a sort of rage)Mrs. Rawdon Crawley'sdebut wason the contraryvery brilliant.  She arrivedverylate.  Her face was radiant; her dress perfection.  Inthe midstof the great persons assembledand the eye-glassesdirected to herRebecca seemed to be as coolandcollected as when she used to marshal Miss Pinkerton'slittlegirls to church.  Numbers of the men she knewalreadyand the dandies thronged round her.  As for theladiesitwas whispered among them that Rawdon hadrun awaywith her from out of a conventand that shewas arelation of the Montmorency family.  She spokeFrench soperfectly that there might be some truth inthisreportand it was agreed that her manners werefineandher air distingue.  Fifty would-be partnersthrongedround her at onceand pressed to have thehonour todance with her.  But she said she was engagedand onlygoing to dance very little; and made her way atonce tothe place where Emmy sate quite unnoticedanddismallyunhappy.  And soto finish the poor child atonceMrs.Rawdon ran and greeted affectionately herdearestAmeliaand began forthwith to patronise her.She foundfault with her friend's dressand herhairdresserand wondered how she could be so chausseeand vowedthat she must send her corsetiere the nextmorning. She vowed that it was a delightful ball; thatthere waseverybody that every one knewand only aVERY fewnobodies in the whole room.  It is a factthatin afortnightand after three dinners in general societythis youngwoman had got up the genteel jargon so wellthat anative could not speak it better; and it was onlyfrom herFrench being so goodthat you could know shewas not aborn woman of fashion.

 

Georgewho had left Emmy on her bench on enteringtheball-roomvery soon found his way back whenRebeccawas by her dear friend's side.  Becky was justlecturingMrs. Osborne upon the follies which herhusbandwas committing.  "For God's sakestop him fromgamblingmy dear" she said"or he will ruin himself.He andRawdon are playing at cards every nightand youknow he isvery poorand Rawdon will win every shillingfrom himif he does not take care.  Why don't you preventhimyoulittle careless creature?  Why don't youcome to usof an eveninginstead of moping at homewith thatCaptain Dobbin?  I dare say he is tres aimable;but howcould one love a man with feet of such size?Yourhusband's feet are darlings--Here he comes.  Wherehave youbeenwretch?  Here is Emmy crying her eyesout foryou.  Are you coming to fetch me for the quadrille?"And sheleft her bouquet and shawl by Amelia'ssideandtripped off with George to dance.  Women onlyknow howto wound so.  There is a poison on the tips oftheirlittle shaftswhich stings a thousand times morethan aman's blunter weapon.  Our poor Emmywho hadneverhatednever sneered all her lifewas powerless inthe handsof her remorseless little enemy.

 

Georgedanced with Rebecca twice or thrice--how manytimesAmelia scarcely knew.  She sat quite unnoticed inhercornerexcept when Rawdon came up with somewords ofclumsy conversation:  and later in the eveningwhenCaptain Dobbin made so bold as to bring herrefreshmentsand sit beside her.  He did not like to ask herwhy shewas so sad; but as a pretext for the tears whichwerefilling in her eyesshe told him that Mrs. Crawleyhadalarmed her by telling her that George would go onplaying.

 

"Itis curiouswhen a man is bent upon playby whatclumsyrogues he will allow himself to be cheated"Dobbinsaid; and Emmy said"Indeed." She was thinking ofsomethingelse.  It was not the loss of the money thatgrievedher.

 

At lastGeorge came back for Rebecca's shawl andflowers. She was going away.  She did not evencondescendto come back and say good-bye to Amelia.  Thepoor girllet her husband come and go without saying awordandher head fell on her breast.  Dobbin had beencalledawayand was whispering deep in conversationwith theGeneral of the divisionhis friendand had notseen thislast parting.  George went away then with thebouquet;but when he gave it to the ownerthere lay anotecoiled like a snake among the flowers.  Rebecca'seye caughtit at once.  She had been used to deal withnotes inearly life.  She put out her hand and took thenosegay. He saw by her eyes as they metthat she wasaware whatshe should find there.  Her husband hurried herawaystill too intent upon his own thoughtsseeminglyto takenote of any marks of recognition which mightpassbetween his friend and his wife.  These werehoweverbut trifling.  Rebecca gave George her hand with oneof herusual quick knowing glancesand made a curtseyand walkedaway.  George bowed over the handsaidnothing inreply to a remark of Crawley'sdid not hear itevenhisbrain was so throbbing with triumph andexcitementand allowed them to go away without a word.

 

His wifesaw the one part at least of the bouquet-scene.It wasquite natural that George should come at Rebecca'srequest toget her her scarf and flowers:  it was nomore thanhe had done twenty times before in the courseof thelast few days; but now it was too much for her."William"she saidsuddenly clinging to Dobbinwho wasnear her"you've always been very kind to me--I'm--I'm notwell.  Take me home."  She did not know she calledhim by hisChristian nameas George was accustomed todo. He went away with her quickly.  Her lodgings werehard by;and they threaded through the crowd withoutwhereeverything seemed to be more astir than even in theball-roomwithin.

 

George hadbeen angry twice or thrice at finding hiswife up onhis return from the parties which hefrequented: so she went straight to bed now; but althoughshe didnot sleepand although the din and clatterandthegalloping of horsemen were incessantshe never heardany ofthese noiseshaving quite other disturbances tokeep herawake.

 

Osbornemeanwhilewild with elationwent off to aplay-tableand began to bet frantically.  He won repeatedly."Everythingsucceeds with me to-night" he said.But hisluck at play even did not cure him of his restlessnessand hestarted up after awhilepocketing his winningsand wentto a buffetwhere he drank off manybumpers ofwine.

 

Hereashe was rattling away to the people aroundlaughingloudly and wild with spiritsDobbin found him.He hadbeen to the card-tables to look there for hisfriend. Dobbin looked as pale and grave as his comradewasflushed and jovial.

 

''HulloDob!  Come and drinkold Dob!  The Duke'swine isfamous.  Give me some moreyou sir"; and heheld out atrembling glass for the liquor.

 

"ComeoutGeorge" said Dobbinstill gravely; "don'tdrink."

 

"Drink! there's nothing like it.  Drink yourselfandlight upyour lantern jawsold boy.  Here's to you."

 

Dobbinwent up and whispered something to himatwhichGeorgegiving a start and a wild hurraytossed offhis glassclapped it on the tableand walked awayspeedilyon his friend's arm.  "The enemy has passed theSambre"William said"and our left is already engaged.Comeaway.  We are to march in three hours."

 

Away wentGeorgehis nerves quivering with excitementat thenews so long looked forso sudden when itcame. What were love and intrigue now?  He thoughtabout athousand things but these in his rapid walk to hisquarters--hispast life and future chances--the fate whichmight bebefore him--the wifethe child perhapsfromwhomunseen he might be about to part.  Ohhow hewishedthat night's work undone!  and that with a clearconscienceat least he might say farewell to the tenderandguileless being by whose love he had set such littlestore!

 

He thoughtover his brief married life.  In those fewweeks hehad frightfully dissipated his little capital.  Howwild andreckless he had been!  Should any mischancebefallhim:  what was then left for her?  How unworthy hewas ofher.  Why had he married her?  He was not fit formarriage. Why had he disobeyed his fatherwho had beenalways sogenerous to him?  Hoperemorseambitiontendernessand selfish regret filled his heart.  He satedown andwrote to his fatherremembering what he hadsaid oncebeforewhen he was engaged to fight a duel.Dawnfaintly streaked the sky as he closed this farewellletter. He sealed itand kissed the superscription.  Hethoughthow he had deserted that generous fatherand ofthethousand kindnesses which the stern old man haddone him.

 

He hadlooked into Amelia's bedroom when he entered;she layquietand her eyes seemed closedand hewas gladthat she was asleep.  On arriving at his quartersfrom theballhe had found his regimental servant alreadymakingpreparations for his departure:  the manhadunderstood his signal to be stilland these arrangementswere veryquickly and silently made.  Should he goin andwake Ameliahe thoughtor leave a note for herbrother tobreak the news of departure to her?  He wentin to lookat her once again.

 

She hadbeen awake when he first entered her roombut hadkept her eyes closedso that even her wakefulnessshould notseem to reproach him.  But when he hadreturnedso soon after herselftoothis timid little hearthad feltmore at easeand turning towards him as hesteptsoftly out of the roomshe had fallen into a lightsleep. George came in and looked at her againenteringstill moresoftly.  By the pale night-lamp he could see hersweetpale face--the purple eyelids were fringed andclosedand one round armsmooth and whitelay outsideof thecoverlet.  Good God!  how pure she was; howgentlehow tenderand how friendless!  and hehowselfishbrutaland black with crime!  Heart-stainedandshame-strickenhe stood at the bed's footand looked atthesleeping girl.  How dared he--who was heto pray forone sospotless!  God bless her!  God bless her!  He came tothebedsideand looked at the handthe little soft handlyingasleep; and he bent over the pillow noiselesslytowardsthe gentle pale face.

 

Two fairarms closed tenderly round his neck as hestoopeddown.  "I am awakeGeorge" the poor child saidwith a sobfit to break the little heart that nestled soclosely byhis own.  She was awakepoor souland torailingsand the beadle: whoif she walked ever so shorta distanceto buy a ribbon in Southampton Rowwasfollowedby Black Sambo with an enormous cane: whowas alwayscared fordressedput to bedand watchedover byever so many guardian angelswith and withoutwages? Bon DieuI sayis it not hard that the fatefulrush ofthe great Imperial struggle can't take place withoutaffectinga poor little harmless girl of eighteenwhoisoccupied in billing and cooingor working muslincollars inRussell Square?  You tookindlyhomely flower!--is thegreat roaring war tempest coming to sweep youdownherealthough cowering under the shelter ofHolborn? Yes; Napoleon is flinging his last stakeand poorlittleEmmy Sedley's happiness formssomehowpart of it. In thefirst placeher father's fortune was swept downwith thatfatal news.  All his speculations had of late gonewrong withthe luckless old gentleman.  Ventures hadfailed;merchants had broken; funds had risen when hecalculatedthey would fall.  What need to particularize?If successis rare and sloweverybody knows how quickand easyruin is.  Old Sedley had kept his own sad counsel.Everythingseemed to go on as usual in the quietopulenthouse; the good-natured mistress pursuingquiteunsuspiciouslyher bustling idlenessand daily easyavocations;the daughter absorbed still in one selfishtenderthoughtand quite regardless of all the world besideswhen thatfinal crash cameunder which the worthyfamilyfell. One nightMrs. Sedley was writing cards for a party;theOsbornes had given oneand she must not bebehindhand;John Sedleywho had come home very late fromthe Citysate silent at the chimney sidewhile his wifewasprattling to him; Emmy had gone up to her roomailing andlow-spirited.  "She's not happy" the motherwent on. "George Osborne neglects her.  I've no patiencewith theairs of those people.  The girls have not been inthe housethese three weeks; and George has been twicein townwithout coming.  Edward Dale saw him at theOpera. Edward would marry her I'm sure: and there'sCaptainDobbin whoI thinkwould--only I hate allarmy men. Such a dandy as George has become.  Withhismilitary airsindeed!  We must show some folks thatwe're asgood as they.  Only give Edward Dale anyencouragementand you'll see.  We must have a partyMr.S. Why don't you speakJohn?  Shall I say Tuesday fortnight?Why don'tyou answer? Good GodJohnwhat has happened?" JohnSedley sprang up out of his chair to meet hiswifewhoran to him.  He seized her in his armsandsaid witha hasty voice"We're ruinedMary.  We'vegot theworld to begin over againdear.  It's best that youshouldknow alland at once."  As he spokehe trembledin everylimband almost fell.  He thought the news wouldhaveoverpowered his wife--his wifeto whom he hadnever saida hard word.  But it was he that was the mostmovedsudden as the shock was to her.  When he sankback intohis seatit was the wife that took the office ofconsoler. She took his trembling handand kissed itandput itround her neck: she called him her John--her dearJohn--herold man--her kind old man; she poured out ahundredwords of incoherent love and tenderness; herfaithfulvoice and simple caresses wrought this sad heartup to aninexpressible delight and anguishand cheeredandsolaced his over-burdened soul. Only oncein the course of the long night as they satetogetherand poor Sedley opened his pent-up soulandtold thestory of his losses and embarrassments--thetreason ofsome of his oldest friendsthe manly kindnessof somefrom whom he never could have expected it--ina generalconfession--only once did the faithful wife giveway toemotion. "MyGodmy Godit will break Emmy's heart" shesaid. The fatherhad forgotten the poor girl.  She was lyingawake andunhappyoverhead.  In the midst of friendshomeandkind parentsshe was alone.  To how manypeople canany one tell all?  Who will be open where thereis nosympathyor has call to speak to those who nevercanunderstand?  Our gentle Amelia was thus solitary.  Shehad noconfidanteso to speakever since she had anythingtoconfide.  She could not tell the old mother herdoubts andcares; the would-be sisters seemed every daymorestrange to her.  And she had misgivings and fearswhich shedared not acknowledge to herselfthough shewas alwayssecretly brooding over them.

 

Her hearttried to persist in asserting that GeorgeOsbornewas worthy and faithful to herthough she knewotherwise. How many a thing had she saidand got noecho fromhim.  How many suspicions of selfishness andindifferencehad she to encounter and obstinatelyovercome. To whom could the poor little martyr tell thesedailystruggles and tortures?  Her hero himself only halfunderstoodher.  She did not dare to own that the man sheloved washer inferior; or to feel that she had given herheart awaytoo soon.  Given oncethe pure bashfulmaiden wastoo modesttoo tendertoo trustfultooweaktoomuch woman to recall it.  We are Turks withtheaffections of our women; and have made themsubscribeto our doctrine too.  We let their bodies go abroadliberallyenoughwith smiles and ringlets and pinkbonnets todisguise them instead of veils and yakmaks.  Buttheirsouls must be seen by only one manand they obeynotunwillinglyand consent to remain at home as ourslaves--ministeringto us and doing drudgery for us.

 

Soimprisoned and tortured was this gentle little heartwhen inthe month of MarchAnno Domini 1815Napoleonlanded at Cannesand Louis XVIII fledand allEurope wasin alarmand the funds felland old JohnSedley wasruined.

 

We are notgoing to follow the worthy old stockbrokerthroughthose last pangs and agonies of ruin throughwhich hepassed before his commercial demise befell.Theydeclared him at the Stock Exchange; he wasabsentfrom his house of business: his bills were protested:his act ofbankruptcy formal.  The house and furniture ofRussellSquare were seized and sold upand he and hisfamilywere thrust awayas we have seento hide theirheadswhere they might.

 

JohnSedley had not the heart to review the domesticestablishmentwho have appeared now and anon in ourpages andof whom he was now forced by poverty totakeleave.  The wages of those worthy people weredischargedwith that punctuality which men frequently showwho onlyowe in great sums--they were sorry to leavegoodplaces--but they did not break their hearts at partingfrom theiradored master and mistress.  Amelia's maidwasprofuse in condolencesbut went off quite resignedto betterherself in a genteeler quarter of the town.  BlackSambowith the infatuation of his professiondeterminedon settingup a public-house.  Honest old Mrs. Blenkinsopindeedwho had seen the birth of Jos and Ameliaandthe wooingof John Sedley and his wifewas for stayingby themwithout wageshaving amassed a considerablesum intheir service: and she accompanied the fallenpeopleinto their new and humble place of refugewhereshe tendedthem and grumbled against them for a while.

 

Of allSedley's opponents in his debates with his creditorswhich nowensuedand harassed the feelings of thehumiliatedold gentleman so severelythat in six weeks heoldenedmore than he had done for fifteen years before--the mostdetermined and obstinate seemed to be JohnOsbornehis old friend and neighbour--John Osbornewhom hehad set up in life--who was under a hundredobligationsto him--and whose son was to marry Sedley'sdaughter. Any one of these circumstances would accountfor thebitterness of Osborne's opposition.

 

When oneman has been under very remarkableobligationsto anotherwith whom he subsequently quarrelsa commonsense of decencyas it weremakes of theformer amuch severer enemy than a mere strangerwould be. To account for your own hard-heartedness andingratitudein such a caseyou are bound to prove theotherparty's crime.  It is not that you are selfishbrutaland angryat the failure of a speculation--nono--it isthat yourpartner has led you into it by the basest treacheryand withthe most sinister motives.  From a meresense ofconsistencya persecutor is bound to show thatthe fallenman is a villain--otherwise hethe persecutoris awretch himself.

 

And as ageneral rulewhich may make all creditorswho areinclined to be severe pretty comfortable in theirmindsnomen embarrassed are altogether honestverylikely. They conceal something; they exaggerate chancesof goodluck; hide away the real state of affairs; say thatthings areflourishing when they are hopelesskeep asmilingface (a dreary smile it is) upon the verge ofbankruptcy--areready to lay hold of any pretext fordelay orof any moneyso as to stave off the inevitableruin a fewdays longer.  "Down with such dishonesty"says thecreditor in triumphand reviles his sinkingenemy. "You foolwhy do you catch at a straw?" calmgood sensesays to the man that is drowning.  "You villainwhy do youshrink from plunging into the irretrievableGazette?"says prosperity to the poor devil battling inthat blackgulf.  Who has not remarked the readiness withwhich theclosest of friends and honestest of men suspectand accuseeach other of cheating when they fall outon moneymatters? Everybody does it.  Everybody is rightI supposeand the world is a rogue.

 

ThenOsborne had the intolerable sense of formerbenefitsto goad and irritate him: these are always acause ofhostility aggravated.  Finallyhe had to break offthe matchbetween Sedley's daughter and his son; andas it hadgone very far indeedand as the poor girl'shappinessand perhaps character were compromisedit wasnecessaryto show the strongest reasons for the ruptureand forJohn Osborne to prove John Sedley to be a verybadcharacter indeed.

 

At themeetings of creditorsthenhe comported himselfwith asavageness and scorn towards Sedleywhichalmostsucceeded in breaking the heart of that ruinedbankruptman.  On George's intercourse with Amelia heput aninstant veto--menacing the youth with maledictionsif hebroke his commandsand vilipending thepoorinnocent girl as the basest and most artful of vixens.One of thegreat conditions of anger and hatred isthatyou musttell and believe lies against the hated objectinorderaswe saidto be consistent.

 

When thegreat crash came--the announcement ofruinandthe departure from Russell Squareand thedeclarationthat all was over between her and George--alloverbetween her and loveher and happinessher andfaith inthe world--a brutal letter from John Osbornetold herin a few curt lines that her father's conduct hadbeen ofsuch a nature that all engagements between thefamilieswere at an end--when the final award cameitdid notshock her so much as her parentsas her motherratherexpected (for John Sedley himself was entirelyprostratein the ruins of his own affairs and shatteredhonour). Amelia took the news very palely and calmly.It wasonly the confirmation of the dark presages whichhad longgone before.  It was the mere reading of thesentence--ofthe crime she had long ago been guilty--thecrime ofloving wronglytoo violentlyagainst reason.She toldno more of her thoughts now than she hadbefore. She seemed scarcely more unhappy now whenconvincedall hope was overthan before when she felt butdared notconfess that it was gone.  So she changed fromthe largehouse to the small one without any mark ordifference;remained in her little room for the most part;pinedsilently; and died away day by day.  I do not meanto saythat all females are so.  My dear Miss BullockIdo notthink your heart would break in this way.  You areastrong-minded young woman with proper principles.I do notventure to say that mine would; it has sufferedanditmust be confessedsurvived.  But there are somesouls thusgently constitutedthus frailand delicateandtender.

 

Wheneverold John Sedley thought of the affairbetweenGeorge and Ameliaor alluded to itit was withbitternessalmost as great as Mr. Osborne himself hadshown. He cursed Osborne and his family as heartlesswickedand ungrateful.  No power on earthhe sworewouldinduce him to marry his daughter to the son ofsuch avillainand he ordered Emmy to banish Georgefrom hermindand to return all the presents and letterswhich shehad ever had from him.

 

Shepromised acquiescenceand tried to obey.  She putup the twoor three trinkets: andas for the lettersshedrew themout of the place.where she kept them; andread themover--as if she did not know them by heartalready:but she could not part with them.  That effortwas toomuch for her; she placed them back in herbosomagain--as you have seen a woman nurse a childthat isdead.  Young Amelia felt that she would die or loseher sensesoutrightif torn away from this last consolation.How sheused to blush and lighten up when thoseletterscame!  How she used to trip away with a beatingheartsothat she might read unseen!  If they were coldyet howperversely this fond little soul interpreted themintowarmth.  If they were short or selfishwhat excusesshe foundfor the writer!

 

It wasover these few worthless papers that she broodedandbrooded.  She lived in her past life--every letterseemed torecall some circumstance of it.  How well sherememberedthem all!  His looks and toneshis dresswhat hesaid and how--these relics and remembrancesof deadaffection were all that were left her in the world.And thebusiness of her lifewas--to watch the corpseof Love.

 

To deathshe looked with inexpressible longing.  ThenshethoughtI shall always be able to follow him.  I am notpraisingher conduct or setting her up as a model forMissBullock to imitate.  Miss B. knows how to regulateherfeelings better than this poor little creature.  Miss B.wouldnever have committed herself as that imprudentAmelia haddone; pledged her love irretrievably;confessedher heart awayand got back nothing--only abrittlepromise which was snapt and worthless in amoment. A long engagement is a partnership which oneparty isfree to keep or to breakbut which involves allthecapital of the other.

 

Becautious thenyoung ladies; be wary how youengage. Be shy of loving frankly; never tell all you feelor(a betterway still)feel very little.  See the consequencesof beingprematurely honest and confidingand mistrustyourselvesand everybody.  Get yourselves married as theydo inFrancewhere the lawyers are the bridesmaids andconfidantes. At any ratenever have any feelings whichmay makeyou uncomfortableor make any promiseswhich youcannot at any required moment command andwithdraw. That is the way to get onand be respectedand have avirtuous character in Vanity Fair.

 

If Ameliacould have heard the comments regardingher whichwere made in the circle from which her father'sruin hadjust driven hershe would have seen what herown crimeswereand how entirely her character wasjeopardised. Such criminal imprudence Mrs. Smith neverknew of;such horrid familiarities Mrs. Brown hadalwayscondemnedand the end might be a warning to HERdaughters. "Captain Osborneof coursecould not marryabankrupt's daughter" the Misses Dobbin said.  "It wasquiteenough to have been swindled by the father.  As forthatlittle Ameliaher folly had really passed all--"

 

"Allwhat?" Captain Dobbin roared out.  "Haven't theybeenengaged ever since they were children?  Wasn't itas good asa marriage?  Dare any soul on earth breathe awordagainst the sweetestthe purestthe tenderestthemostangelical of young women?"

 

"LaWilliamdon't be so highty-tighty with US.  We'renot men. We can't fight you" Miss Jane said.  "We've saidnothingagainst Miss Sedley: but that her conductthroughoutwas MOST IMPRUDENTnot to call it by anyworsename; and that her parents are people whocertainlymerit their misfortunes."

 

"Hadn'tyou betternow that Miss Sedley is freeproposefor her yourselfWilliam?" Miss Ann askedsarcastically. "It would be a most eligible familyconnection. He!  he!"

 

"Imarry her!" Dobbin saidblushing very muchandtalkingquick.  "If you are so readyyoung ladiesto chopandchangedo you suppose that she is?  Laugh and sneerat thatangel.  She can't hear it; and she's miserable andunfortunateand deserves to be laughed at.  Go onjokingAnn.  You're the wit of the familyand the otherslike tohear it."

 

"Imust tell you again we're not in a barrackWilliam"Miss Annremarked.

 

"In abarrackby Jove--I wish anybody in a barrackwould saywhat you do" cried out this uproused Britishlion. "I should like to hear a man breathe a word againstherbyJupiter.  But men don't talk in this wayAnn: it'sonlywomenwho get together and hissand shriekandcackle. Thereget away--don't begin to cry.  I only saidyou were acouple of geese" Will Dobbin saidperceivingMiss Ann'spink eyes were beginning to moisten asusual. "Wellyou're not geeseyou're swans--anythingyou likeonly dodo leave Miss Sedley alone."

 

Anythinglike William's infatuation about that silly littleflirtingogling thing was never knownthe mammaandsisters agreed together in thinking: and they trembledlestherengagement being off with Osborneshe shouldtake upimmediately her other admirer and Captain.In whichforebodings these worthy young women nodoubtjudged according to the best of their experience; orrather(for as yet they had had no opportunities ofmarryingor of jilting) according to their own notions ofright andwrong.

 

"Itis a mercyMammathat the regiment is orderedabroad"the girls said.  "THIS dangerat any rateisspared ourbrother."

 

Suchindeedwas the fact; and so it is that the FrenchEmperorcomes in to perform a part in this domesticcomedy ofVanity Fair which we are now playingandwhichwould never have been enacted without theinterventionof this august mute personage.  It was hethatruined the Bourbons and Mr. John Sedley.  It washe whosearrival in his capital called up all France inarms todefend him there; and all Europe to oust him.While theFrench nation and army were swearing fidelityround theeagles in the Champ de Marsfour mightyEuropeanhosts were getting in motion for the greatchasse al'aigle; and one of these was a British armyofwhich twoheroes of oursCaptain Dobbin and CaptainOsborneformed a portion.

 

The newsof Napoleon's escape and landing wasreceivedby the gallant --th with a fiery delight andenthusiasmwhich everybody can understand who knowsthatfamous corps.  From the colonel to the smallestdrummer inthe regimentall were filled with hope andambitionand patriotic fury; and thanked the French Emperoras for apersonal kindness in coming to disturb the peaceofEurope.  Now was the time the --th had so longpantedforto show their comrades in arms that theycouldfight as well as the Peninsular veteransand thatall thepluck and valour of the --th had not been killedby theWest Indies and the yellow fever.  Stubble andSpooneylooked to get their companies without purchase.Before theend of the campaign (which she resolvedto share)Mrs. Major O'Dowd hoped to writeherselfMrs. Colonel O'DowdC.B.  Our two friends(Dobbinand Osborne) were quite as much excited as therest: andeach in his way--Mr. Dobbin very quietlyMr.Osbornevery loudly and energetically--was bent upondoing hisdutyand gaining his share of honour anddistinction.

 

Theagitation thrilling through the country and armyinconsequence of this news was so greatthat privatematterswere little heeded: and hence probably GeorgeOsbornejust gazetted to his companybusy with preparationsfor themarchwhich must come inevitablyandpantingfor further promotion--was not so much affectedby otherincidents which would have interested him at amore quietperiod.  He was notit must be confessedvery muchcast down by good old Mr. Sedley's catastrophe.He triedhis new uniformwhich became himveryhandsomelyon the day when the first meeting ofthecreditors of the unfortunate gentleman took place.His fathertold him of the wickedrascallyshamefulconduct ofthe bankruptreminded him of what he hadsaid aboutAmeliaand that their connection was brokenoff forever; and gave him that evening a good sum ofmoney topay for the new clothes and epaulets in whichhe lookedso well.  Money was always useful to this free-handedyoung fellowand he took it without many words.The billswere up in the Sedley housewhere he hadpassed somanymany happy hours.  He could seethem as hewalked from home that night (to the OldSlaughters'where he put up when in town) shining whitein themoon.  That comfortable home was shutthenuponAmelia andher parents: where had they taken refuge?Thethought of their ruin affected him not a little.  Hewas verymelancholy that night in the coffee-room attheSlaughters'; and drank a good dealas his comradesremarkedthere.

 

Dobbincame in presentlycautioned him about thedrinkwhich he only tookhe saidbecause he wasdeucedlow; but when his friend began to put to himclumsyinquiriesand asked him for news in a significantmannerOsborne declined entering into conversation withhimavowinghoweverthat he was devilish disturbedandunhappy.

 

Three daysafterwardsDobbin found Osborne in hisroom atthe barracks--his head on the tablea numberof papersaboutthe young Captain evidently in a stateof greatdespondency.  "She--she's sent me back somethings Igave her--some damned trinkets.  Look here!"There wasa little packet directed in the well-known handto CaptainGeorge Osborneand some things lying about--a ringa silver knife he had boughtas a boyfor herat a fair;a gold chainand a locket with hair in it.  "It'sall over"said hewith a groan of sickening remorse."LookWillyou may read it if you like."

 

There wasa little letter of a few linesto which hepointedwhich said:

 

 

My papahas ordered me to return to you thesepresentswhich you made in happier days to me; and Iam towrite to you for the last time.  I thinkI know youfeel asmuch as I do the blow which has come upon us.It is Ithat absolve you from an engagement which isimpossiblein our present misery.  I am sure you had noshare initor in the cruel suspicions of Mr. Osbornewhich arethe hardest of all our griefs to bear.  Farewell.Farewell. I pray God to strengthen me to bear this andothercalamitiesand to bless you always.     A.

 

I shalloften play upon the piano--your piano.  It waslike youto send it.

 

Dobbin wasvery soft-hearted.  The sight of womenandchildren in pain always used to melt him.  The ideaof Ameliabroken-hearted and lonely tore that good-naturedsoul with anguish.  And he broke out into anemotionwhich anybody who likes may consider unmanly.He sworethat Amelia was an angelto which Osbornesaid ayewith all his heart.  Hetoohad been reviewingthehistory of their lives--and had seen her from herchildhoodto her present ageso sweetso innocentsocharmingly simpleand artlessly fond and tender.

 

What apang it was to lose all that: to have had it andnot prizedit!  A thousand homely scenes and recollectionscrowded onhim--in which he always saw her goodandbeautiful.  And for himselfhe blushed with remorseand shameas the remembrance of his own selfishnessandindifference contrasted with that perfect purity.  Fora whileglorywareverything was forgottenand thepair offriends talked about her only.

 

"Whereare they?" Osborne askedafter a long talkand a longpause--andin truthwith no little shame atthinkingthat he had taken no steps to follow her.  "Whereare they?There's no address to the note."

 

Dobbinknew.  He had not merely sent the piano; buthadwritten a note to Mrs. Sedleyand asked permissionto comeand see her--and he had seen herand Ameliatooyesterdaybefore he came down to Chatham; andwhat ismorehe had brought that farewell letter andpacketwhich had so moved them.

 

Thegood-natured fellow had found Mrs. Sedley onlytoowilling to receive himand greatly agitated by thearrival ofthe pianowhichas she conjecturedMUST havecome fromGeorgeand was a signal of amity on hispart. Captain Dobbin did not correct this error of theworthyladybut listened to all her story of complaintsandmisfortunes with great sympathy--condoled withher lossesand privationsand agreed in reprehending thecruelconduct of Mr. Osborne towards his first benefactor.When shehad eased her overflowing bosom somewhatand pouredforth many of her sorrowshe had thecourage toask actually to see Ameliawho was above inher roomas usualand whom her mother led tremblingdownstairs.

 

Herappearance was so ghastlyand her look of despairsopatheticthat honest William Dobbin was frightenedas hebeheld it; and read the most fatal forebodings inthat palefixed face.  After sitting in his company a minuteor twoshe put the packet into his handand said"Takethis to Captain Osborneif you pleaseand--and Ihope he'squite well--and it was very kind of you tocome andsee us--and we like our new house very much.And I--Ithink I'll go upstairsMammafor I'm not verystrong."And with thisand a curtsey and a smilethepoor childwent her way.  The motheras she led her upcast backlooks of anguish towards Dobbin.  The goodfellowwanted no such appeal.  He loved her himself toofondly forthat.  Inexpressible griefand pityand terrorpursuedhimand he came away as if he was a criminalafterseeing her.

 

WhenOsborne heard that his friend had found herhe madehot and anxious inquiries regarding the poorchild. How was she?  How did she look?  What did shesay? His comrade took his handand looked him in theface.

 

"Georgeshe's dying" William Dobbin said--and couldspeak nomore.

 

There wasa buxom Irish servant-girlwho performedall theduties of the little house where the Sedley familyhad foundrefuge: and this girl had in vainon manypreviousdaysstriven to give Amelia aid or consolation.Emmy wasmuch too sad to answeror even to be awareof theattempts the other was making in her favour.

 

Four hoursafter the talk between Dobbin and Osbornethisservant-maid came into Amelia's roomwhere shesate asusualbrooding silently over her letters--herlittletreasures.  The girlsmilingand looking arch andhappymade many trials to attract poor Emmy'sattentionwhohowevertook no heed of her.

 

"MissEmmy" said the girl.

 

"I'mcoming" Emmy saidnot looking round.

 

"There'sa message" the maid went on.  "There'ssomething--somebody--surehere's a new letter for you--don't bereading them old ones any more." And she gaveher aletterwhich Emmy tookand read.

 

"Imust see you" the letter said.  "Dearest Emmy--dearestlove--dearest wifecome to me."

 

George andher mother were outsidewaiting until shehad readthe letter.

 

 

 

 

CHAPTERXIXMissCrawley at Nurse

 

We haveseen how Mrs. Firkinthe lady's maidas soonas anyevent of importance to the Crawley family cameto herknowledgefelt bound to communicate it to Mrs.ButeCrawleyat the Rectory; and have beforementionedhow particularly kind and attentive that good-naturedlady was to Miss Crawley's confidential servant.She hadbeen a gracious friend to Miss Briggsthecompanionalso; and had secured the latter's good-will by anumber ofthose attentions and promiseswhich cost solittle inthe makingand are yet so valuable and agreeable totherecipient.  Indeed every good economist andmanager ofa household must know how cheap and yethowamiable these professions areand what a flavourthey giveto the most homely dish in life.  Who was theblunderingidiot who said that "fine words butter noparsnips"? Half the parsnips of society are served andrenderedpalatable with no other sauce.  As the immortalAlexisSoyer can make more delicious soup for a half-penny thanan ignorant cook can concoct with pounds ofvegetablesand meatso a skilful artist will make a fewsimple andpleasing phrases go farther than ever so muchsubstantialbenefit-stock in the hands of a mere bungler.Nayweknow that substantial benefits often sicken somestomachs;whereasmost will digest any amount of finewordsandbe always eager for more of the same food.Mrs. Butehad told Briggs and Firkin so often of thedepth ofher affection for them; and what she would doif she hadMiss Crawley's fortunefor friends so excellentandattachedthat the ladies in question had the deepestregard forher; and felt as much gratitude andconfidenceas if Mrs. Bute had loaded them with the mostexpensivefavours.

 

RawdonCrawleyon the other handlike a selfishheavydragoon as he wasnever took the least trouble toconciliatehis aunt's aides-de-campshowed his contemptfor thepair with entire frankness--made Firkin pull offhis bootson one occasion--sent her out in the rain onignominiousmessages--and if he gave her a guineaflungit to heras if it were a box on the ear.  As his aunttoomade abutt of Briggsthe Captain followed theexampleand levelled his jokes at her--jokes about asdelicateas a kick from his charger.  WhereasMrs. Buteconsultedher in matters of taste or difficultyadmiredherpoetryand by a thousand acts of kindness andpolitenessshowed her appreciation of Briggs; and if shemadeFirkin a twopenny-halfpenny presentaccompaniedit with somany complimentsthat the twopence-half-penny wastransmuted into gold in the heart of the gratefulwaiting-maidwhobesideswas looking forwardsquitecontentedly to some prodigious benefit which musthappen toher on the day when Mrs. Bute came into herfortune.

 

Thedifferent conduct of these two people is pointedoutrespectfully to the attention of persons commencingtheworld.  Praise everybodyI say to such: never besqueamishbut speak out your compliment both point-blank in aman's faceand behind his backwhenyou knowthere is a reasonable chance of his hearing itagain. Never lose a chance of saying a kind word.  AsCollingwoodnever saw a vacant place in his estate buthe took anacorn out of his pocket and popped it in;so dealwith your compliments through life.  An acorncostsnothing; but it may sprout into a prodigious bit oftimber.

 

In a wordduring Rawdon Crawley's prosperityhe wasonlyobeyed with sulky acquiescence; when his disgracecamethere was nobody to help or pity him.  Whereaswhen Mrs.Bute took the command at Miss Crawley'shousethegarrison there were charmed to act undersuch aleaderexpecting all sorts of promotion from herpromisesher generosityand her kind words.

 

That hewould consider himself beatenafter one defeatand makeno attempt to regain the position he hadlostMrs.Bute Crawley never allowed herself to suppose.She knewRebecca to be too clever and spirited anddesperatea woman to submit without a struggle; and feltthat shemust prepare for that combatand be incessantlywatchfulagainst assault; or mineor surprise.

 

In thefirst placethough she held the townwas shesure ofthe principal inhabitant?  Would Miss Crawleyherselfhold out; and had she not a secret longing towelcomeback the ousted adversary?  The old lady likedRawdonand Rebeccawho amused her.  Mrs. Bute couldnotdisguise from herself the fact that none of her partycould socontribute to the pleasures of the town-bredlady. "My girls' singingafter that little odious governess'sI know isunbearable" the candid Rector's wifeowned toherself.  "She always used to go to sleep whenMartha andLouisa played their duets.  Jim's stiffcollegemanners and poor dear Bute's talk about his dogsand horsesalways annoyed her.  If I took her to theRectoryshe would grow angry with us alland flyIknow shewould; and might fall into that horridRawdon'sclutches againand be the victim of that littleviper of aSharp.  Meanwhileit is clear to me that she isexceedinglyunwelland cannot move for some weeksatany rate;during which we must think of some plan toprotecther from the arts of those unprincipled people."

 

In thevery best-of momentsif anybody told MissCrawleythat she wasor looked illthe trembling oldlady sentoff for her doctor; and I daresay she was veryunwellafter the sudden family eventwhich might serveto shakestronger nerves than hers.  At leastMrs. Butethought itwas her duty to inform the physicianand theapothecaryand the dame-de-compagnieand the domesticsthat MissCrawley was in a most critical stateandthat theywere to act accordingly.  She had the street laidknee-deepwith straw; and the knocker put by with Mr.Bowls'splate.  She insisted that the Doctor should calltwice aday; and deluged her patient with draughts everytwohours.  When anybody entered the roomshe uttereda shshshshso sibilant and ominousthat it frightened thepoor oldlady in her bedfrom which she couldnot lookwithout seeing Mrs. Bute's beady eyes eagerlyfixed onheras the latter sate steadfast in the arm-chairby thebedside.  They seemed to lighten in the dark (forshe keptthe curtains closed) as she moved about theroom onvelvet paws like a cat.  There Miss Crawley layfordays--ever so many days--Mr. Bute reading booksofdevotion to her: for nightslong nightsduring whichshe had tohear the watchman singthe night-light sputter;visited atmidnightthe last thingby the stealthy apothecary;and thenleft to look at Mrs. Bute's twinkling eyesor theflicks of yellow that the rushlight threw on thedrearydarkened ceiling.  Hygeia herself would havefallensick under such a regimen; and how much morethis poorold nervous victim?  It has been said that whenshe was inhealth and good spiritsthis venerableinhabitantof Vanity Fair had as free notions about religionand moralsas Monsieur de Voltaire himself could desirebut whenillness overtook herit was aggravated bythe mostdreadful terrors of deathand an utter cowardicetookpossession of the prostrate old sinner.

 

Sick-bedhomilies and pious reflections areto be sureout ofplace in mere story-booksand we are not going(after thefashion of some novelists of the present day)to cajolethe.public into a sermonwhen it is only acomedythat the reader pays his money to witness.  Butwithoutpreachingthe truth may surely be borne in mindthat thebustleand triumphand laughterand gaietywhichVanity Fair exhibits in publicdo not always pursuetheperformer into private lifeand that the mostdrearydepression of spirits and dismal repentancessometimesovercome him.  Recollection of the best ordainedbanquetswill scarcely cheer sick epicures.  Reminiscencesof themost becoming dresses and brilliant ball triumphswill govery little way to console faded beauties.  Perhapsstatesmenat a particular period of existencearenot muchgratified at thinking over the most triumphantdivisions;and the success or the pleasure of yesterdaybecomes ofvery small account when a certain(albeituncertain) morrow is in viewabout which all ofus mustsome day or other be speculating.  O brotherwearers ofmotley!  Are there not moments when onegrows sickof grinning and tumblingand the jingling ofcap andbells?  Thisdear friends and companionsis myamiableobject--to walk with you through the Fairtoexaminethe shops and the shows there; and that weshould allcome home after the flareand the noiseandthegaietyand be perfectly miserable in private.

 

"Ifthat poor man of mine had a head on his shoulders"Mrs. ButeCrawley thought to herself"how useful hemight beunder present circumstancesto this unhappyold lady! He might make her repent of her shockingfree-thinkingways; he might urge her to do her dutyand castoff that odious reprobate who has disgracedhimselfand his family; and he might induce her to dojustice tomy dear girls and the two boyswho requireanddeserveI am sureevery assistance which theirrelativescan give them."

 

Andasthe hatred of vice is always a progress towardsvirtueMrs. Bute Crawley endeavoured to instilhersister-in-law a proper abhorrence for all RawdonCrawley'smanifold sins: of which his uncle's wife broughtforwardsuch a catalogue as indeed would have servedto condemna whole regiment of young officers.  If a manhascommitted wrong in lifeI don't know any moralistmoreanxious to point his errors out to the world thanhis ownrelations; so Mrs. Bute showed a perfect familyinterestand knowledge of Rawdon's history.  She had alltheparticulars of that ugly quarrel with Captain Markerin whichRawdonwrong from the beginningended inshootingthe Captain.  She knew how the unhappy LordDovedalewhose mamma had taken a house at Oxfordso that hemight be educated thereand who had nevertouched acard in his life till he came to Londonwaspervertedby Rawdon at the Cocoa-Treemade helplesslytipsy bythis abominable seducer and perverter of youthandfleeced of four thousand pounds.  She described withthe mostvivid minuteness the agonies of the countryfamilieswhom he had ruined--the sons whom he hadplungedinto dishonour and poverty--the daughterswhom hehad inveigled into perdition.  She knew the poortradesmenwho were bankrupt by his extravagance--themeanshifts and rogueries with which he had ministeredto it--theastounding falsehoods by which he had imposedupon themost generous of auntsand the ingratitude andridiculeby which he had repaid her sacrifices.  Sheimpartedthese stories gradually to Miss Crawley; gave herthe wholebenefit of them; felt it to be her bounden dutyas aChristian woman and mother of a family to do so;had notthe smallest remorse or compunction for thevictimwhom her tongue was immolating; nayvery likelythoughther act was quite meritoriousand plumedherselfupon her resolute manner of performing it.  Yesif a man'scharacter is to be abusedsay what you willthere'snobody like a relation to do the business.  And oneis boundto ownregarding this unfortunate wretch of aRawdonCrawleythat the mere truth was enough tocondemnhimand that all inventions of scandal were quitesuperfluouspains on his friends' parts.

 

Rebeccatoobeing now a relativecame in for thefullestshare of Mrs. Bute's kind inquiries.  This indefatigablepursuer oftruth (having given strict orders that thedoor wasto be denied to all emissaries or lettersfromRawdon)took Miss Crawley's carriageand droveto her oldfriend Miss Pinkertonat Minerva HouseChiswickMallto whom she announced the dreadfulintelligenceof Captain Rawdon's seduction by Miss Sharpand fromwhom she got sundry strange particularsregardingthe ex-governess's birth and early history.  Thefriend ofthe Lexicographer had plenty of informationto give. Miss Jemima was made to fetch the drawing-master'sreceipts and letters.  This one was from aspunging-house:that entreated an advance: another wasfull ofgratitude for Rebecca's reception by the ladies ofChiswick:and the last document from the unlucky artist'spen wasthat in whichfrom his dying bedhe recommendedhis orphanchild to Miss Pinkerton's protection.  Therewerejuvenile letters and petitions from Rebeccatoointhecollectionimploring aid for her father or declaringher owngratitude.  Perhaps in Vanity Fair there are nobettersatires than letters.  Take a bundle of your dearfriend'sof ten years back--your dear friend whom youhate now. Look at a file of your sister's! how you clungto eachother till you quarrelled about the twenty-poundlegacy! Get down the round-hand scrawls of your sonwho hashalf broken your heart with selfish undutifulnesssince; ora parcel of your ownbreathing endlessardour andlove eternalwhich were sent back by yourmistresswhen she married the Nabob--your mistress forwhom younow care no more than for Queen Elizabeth.Vowslovepromisesconfidencesgratitudehow queerlythey readafter a while!  There ought to be a law inVanityFair ordering the destruction of every writtendocument(except receipted tradesmen's bills) after acertainbrief and proper interval.  Those quacks andmisanthropeswho advertise indelible Japan ink should bemade toperish along with their wicked discoveries.  Thebest inkfor Vanity Fair use would be one that fadedutterly ina couple of daysand left the paper clean andblanksothat you might write on it to somebody else.

 

From MissPinkerton's the indefatigable Mrs. Butefollowedthe track of Sharp and his daughter back to thelodgingsin Greek Streetwhich the defunct painter hadoccupied;and where portraits of the landlady in whitesatinandof the husband in brass buttonsdone by Sharpin lieu ofa quarter's rentstill decorated the parlourwalls. Mrs. Stokes was a communicative personandquicklytold all she knew about Mr. Sharp; how dissoluteand poorhe was; how good-natured and amusing; how hewas alwayshunted by bailiffs and duns; howto the landlady's horrorthough shenever could abide the womanhe did notmarry his wife till a short time before herdeath; andwhat a queer little wild vixen his daughterwas; howshe kept them all laughing with her fun andmimicry;how she used to fetch the gin from the public-houseand wasknown in all the studios in the quarter--in briefMrs. Butegot such a full account of her new niece'sparentageeducationand behaviour as wouldscarcelyhave pleased Rebeccahad the latter known thatsuchinquiries were being made concerning her.

 

Of allthese industrious researches Miss Crawley hadthe fullbenefit.  Mrs. Rawdon Crawley was the daughterof anopera-girl.  She had danced herself.  She had been amodel tothe painters.  She was brought up as becamehermother's daughter.  She drank gin with her father&c.&c. It was a lost woman who was married to a lostman; andthe moral to be inferred from Mrs. Bute'stale wasthat the knavery of the pair was irremediableand thatno properly conducted person should ever noticethemagain.

 

These werethe materials which prudent Mrs. Butegatheredtogether in Park Lanethe provisions andammunitionas it were with which she fortified the houseagainstthe siege which she knew that Rawdon and hiswife wouldlay to Miss Crawley.

 

But if afault may be found with her arrangementsitis thisthat she was too eager: she managed rather toowell;undoubtedly she made Miss Crawley more ill thanwasnecessary; and though the old invalid succumbedto herauthorityit was so harassing and severethat thevictimwould be inclined to escape at the very first chancewhich fellin her way.  Managing womenthe ornamentsof theirsex--women who order everything for everybodyand knowso much better than any person concernedwhat isgood for their neighboursdon't sometimesspeculateupon the possibility of a domestic revoltorupon otherextreme consequences resulting from theiroverstrainedauthority.

 

ThusforinstanceMrs. Butewith the best intentionsno doubtin the worldand wearing herself to death asshe did byforegoing sleepdinnerfresh airfor the sakeof herinvalid sister-in-lawcarried her conviction of theold lady'sillness so far that she almost managed herinto hercoffin.  She pointed out her sacrifices and theirresultsone day to the constant apothecaryMr. Clump.

 

"I amsuremy dear Mr. Clump" she said"no effortsof minehave been wanting to restore our dear invalidwhom theingratitude of her nephew has laid on the bedofsickness.  I never shrink from personal discomfort: Ineverrefuse to sacrifice myself."

 

"Yourdevotionit must be confessedis admirable"Mr. Clumpsayswith a low bow; "but--"

 

"Ihave scarcely closed my eyes since my arrival: Igive upsleephealthevery comfortto my sense of duty.When mypoor James was in the smallpoxdid I allow anyhirelingto nurse him?  No."

 

"Youdid what became an excellent mothermy dearMadam--thebest of mothers; but--~'

 

"Asthe mother of a family and the wife of an EnglishclergymanI humbly trust that my principles are good"Mrs. Butesaidwith a happy solemnity of conviction;"andas long as Nature supports meneverneverMr.Clumpwill I desert the post of duty.  Others may bringthat greyhead with sorrow to the bed of sickness (hereMrs. Butewaving her handpointed to one of old MissCrawley'scoffee-coloured frontswhich was perched ona stand inthe dressing-room)but I will never quit it.AhMr.Clump!  I fearI knowthat the couch needsspiritualas well as medical consolation."

 

"WhatI was going to observemy dear Madam"--here theresolute Clump once more interposed with ablandair--"what I was going to observe when you gaveutteranceto sentiments which do you so much honourwas that Ithink you alarm yourself needlessly about ourkindfriendand sacrifice your own health too prodigallyin herfavour."

 

"Iwould lay down my life for my dutyor for anymember ofmy husband's family" Mrs. Bute interposed.

 

"YesMadamif need were; but we don't want MrsButeCrawley to be a martyr" Clump said gallantly.  "DrSquillsand myself have both considered Miss Crawley'scase withevery anxiety and careas you may suppose.  Wesee herlow-spirited and nervous; family events haveagitatedher."

 

"Hernephew will come to perdition" Mrs. Crawleycried.

 

"Haveagitated her: and you arrived like a guardianangelmydear Madama positive guardian angelIassureyouto soothe her under the pressure of calamity.But Dr.Squills and I were thinking that our amiablefriend isnot in such a state as renders confinement to herbednecessary.  She is depressedbut this confinementperhapsadds to her depression.  She should have changefresh airgaiety; the most delightful remedies in thepharmacopoeia"Mr. Clump saidgrinning and showinghishandsome teeth.  "Persuade her to risedear Madam;drag herfrom her couch and her low spirits; insist uponher takinglittle drives.  They will restore the roses too toyourcheeksif I may so speak to Mrs. Bute Crawley."

 

"Thesight of her horrid nephew casually in the Parkwhere I amtold the wretch drives with the brazen partnerof hiscrimes" Mrs. Bute said (letting the cat of selfishnessout of thebag of secrecy)"would cause her sucha shockthat we should have to bring her back to bedagain. She must not go outMr. Clump.  She shall not goout aslong as I remain to watch over her; And as for myhealthwhat matters it?  I give it cheerfullysir.  I sacrificeit at thealtar of my duty."

 

"Uponmy wordMadam" Mr. Clump now said bluntly"Iwon't answer for her life if she remains locked upin thatdark room.  She is so nervous that we may loseher anyday; and if you wish Captain Crawley to be herheirIwarn you franklyMadamthat you are doingyour verybest to serve him."

 

"Graciousmercy! is her life in danger?" Mrs. Butecried. "WhywhyMr. Clumpdid you not inform mesooner?"

 

The nightbeforeMr. Clump and Dr. Squills had had aconsultation(over a bottle of wine at the house of SirLapinWarrenwhose lady was about to present himwith athirteenth blessing)regarding Miss Crawley andher case.

 

"Whata little harpy that woman from Hampshire isClump"Squills remarked"that has seized upon oldTillyCrawley.  Devilish good Madeira."

 

"Whata fool Rawdon Crawley has been" Clump replied"togo and marry a governess!  There was somethingabout thegirltoo."

 

"Greeneyesfair skinpretty figurefamous frontaldevelopment"Squills remarked.  "There is somethingabout her;and Crawley was a foolSquills."

 

"Ad-- fool--always was" the apothecary replied.

 

"Ofcourse the old girl will fling him over" said thephysicianand after a pause added"She'll cut up wellIsuppose."

 

"Cutup" says Clump with a grin; "I wouldn't have hercut up fortwo hundred a year."

 

"ThatHampshire woman will kill her in two monthsClumpmyboyif she stops about her" Dr. Squills said."Oldwoman; full feeder; nervous subject; palpitation ofthe heart;pressure on the brain; apoplexy; off she goes.Get herupClump; get her out: or I wouldn't give manyweeks'purchase for your two hundred a year." And it wasactingupon this hint that the worthy apothecary spokewith somuch candour to Mrs. Bute Crawley.

 

Having theold lady under her hand: in bed: with nobodynearMrs.Bute had made more than one assaultupon herto induce her to alter her will.  But Miss Crawley'susualterrors regarding death increased greatly whensuchdismal propositions were made to herand Mrs.Bute sawthat she must get her patient into cheerful spiritsand healthbefore she could hope to attain the pious objectwhich shehad in view.  Whither to take her was thenextpuzzle.  The only place where she is not likely tomeet thoseodious Rawdons is at churchand that won'tamuse herMrs. Bute justly felt.  "We must go and visitourbeautiful suburbs of London" she then thought.  "Ihear theyare the most picturesque in the world"; and soshe had asudden interest for Hampsteadand Hornseyand foundthat Dulwich had great charms for herandgettingher victim into her carriagedrove her to thoserusticspotsbeguiling the little journeys with conversationsaboutRawdon and his wifeand telling every storyto the oldlady which could add to her indignation againstthis pairof reprobates.

 

PerhapsMrs. Bute pulled the string unnecessarily tight.For thoughshe worked up Miss Crawley to a proper dislikeof herdisobedient nephewthe invalid had a greathatred andsecret terror of her victimizerand pantedto escapefrom her.  After a brief spaceshe rebelledagainstHighgate and Hornsey utterly.  She would go intothe Park. Mrs. Bute knew they would meet the abominableRawdonthereand she was right.  One day in theringRawdon's stanhope came in sight; Rebecca wasseated byhim.  In the enemy's equipage Miss Crawleyoccupiedher usual placewith Mrs. Bute on her leftthepoodle andMiss Briggs on the back seat.  It was a nervousmomentand Rebecca's heart beat quick as she recognized thecarriage;and as the two vehicles crossed eachother in alineshe clasped her handsand looked towardsthespinster with a face of agonized attachment and devotion.Rawdonhimself trembledand his face grew purplebehind hisdyed mustachios.  Only old Briggs was movedin theother carriageand cast her great eyes nervouslytowardsher old friends.  Miss Crawley's bonnet was resolutelyturnedtowards the Serpentine.  Mrs. Bute happened tobe inecstasies with the poodleand was calling him a littledarlingand a sweet little zoggyand a pretty pet.  Thecarriagesmoved oneach in his line.

 

"Doneby Jove" Rawdon said to his wife.

 

"Tryonce moreRawdon" Rebecca answered.  "Couldnot youlock your wheels into theirsdearest?"

 

Rawdon hadnot the heart for that manoeuvre.  Whenthecarriages met againhe stood up in his stanhope; heraised hishand ready to doff his hat; he looked with allhis eyes. But this time Miss Crawley's face was not turnedaway; sheand Mrs. Bute looked him full in the faceand cuttheir nephew pitilessly.  He sank back in his seatwith anoathand striking out of the ringdashed awaydesperatelyhomewards.

 

It was agallant and decided triumph for Mrs. Bute.But shefelt the danger of many such meetingsas shesaw theevident nervousness of Miss Crawley; and shedeterminedthat it was most necessary for her dearfriend'shealththat they should leave town for a whileandrecommended Brighton very strongly.

 

 

 

 

CHAPTER XXInWhich Captain Dobbin Acts as the Messenger of Hymen

 

Withoutknowing howCaptain William Dobbin foundhimselfthe great promoterarrangerand manager of thematchbetween George Osborne and Amelia.  But for himit neverwould have taken place:  he could not butconfess asmuch to himselfand smiled rather bitterly as hethoughtthat he of all men in the world should be thepersonupon whom the care of this marriage had fallen.But thoughindeed the conducting of this negotiation wasabout aspainful a task as could be set to himyet whenhe had aduty to performCaptain Dobbin was accustomedto gothrough it without many words or muchhesitation: andhaving made up his mind completelythat ifMiss Sedley was balked of her husband she woulddie of thedisappointmenthe was determined to use allhis bestendeavours to keep her alive.

 

I forbearto enter into minute particulars of the interviewbetweenGeorge and Ameliawhen the former wasbroughtback to the feet (or should we venture to say thearms?) ofhis young mistress by the intervention of hisfriendhonest William.  A much harder heart thanGeorge'swould have melted at the sight of that sweetface sosadly ravaged by grief and despairand at thesimpletender accents in which she told her little broken-heartedstory: but as she did not faint when her mothertremblingbrought Osborne to her; and as she only gaverelief toher overcharged griefby laying her head onherlover's shoulder and there weeping for a while themosttendercopiousand refreshing tears--old Mrs.Sedleytoo greatly relievedthought it was best to leavethe youngpersons to themselves; and so quitted Emmycryingover George's handand kissing it humblyas if hewere hersupreme chief and masterand as if she werequite aguilty and unworthy person needing every favourand gracefrom him.

 

Thisprostration and sweet unrepining obedienceexquisitelytouched and flattered George Osborne.  He saw aslavebefore him in that simple yielding faithful creatureand hissoul within him thrilled secretly somehowat theknowledge of his power.  He would be generous-mindedSultan as he wasand raise up this kneelingEsther andmake a queen of her:  besidesher sadnessand beautytouched him as much as her submissionandso hecheered herand raised her up and forgave hersoto speak. All her hopes and feelingswhich were dyingandwitheringthis her sun having been removed fromherbloomed again and at onceits light being restored.You wouldscarcely have recognised the beaming littleface uponAmelia's pillow that night as the one that waslaid therethe night beforeso wanso lifelesssocarelessof all round about.  The honest Irish maid-servantdelightedwith the changeasked leave to kiss the facethat hadgrown all of a sudden so rosy.  Amelia put herarms roundthe girl's neck and kissed her with all herheartlike a child.  She was little more.  She had that nighta sweetrefreshing sleeplike one--and what a spring ofinexpressiblehappiness as she woke in the morning sunshine!

 

"Hewill be here again to-day" Amelia thought.  "He isthegreatest and best of men."  And the fact isthatGeorgethought he was one of the generousest creaturesalive: andthat he was making a tremendous sacrifice inmarryingthis young creature.

 

While sheand Osborne were having their delightfultete-a-teteabove stairsold Mrs. Sedley and CaptainDobbinwere conversing below upon the state of theaffairsand the chances and future arrangements of theyoungpeople.  Mrs. Sedley having brought the two loverstogetherand left them embracing each other with all theirmightlike a true womanwas of opinion that no poweron earthwould induce Mr. Sedley to consent to the matchbetweenhis daughter and the son of a man who had soshamefullywickedlyand monstrously treated him.  Andshe told along story about happier days and their earliersplendourswhen Osborne lived in a very humble way inthe NewRoadand his wife was too glad to receive someof Jos'slittle baby thingswith which Mrs. Sedleyaccommodatedher at the birth of one of Osborne's ownchildren. The fiendish ingratitude of that manshe wassurehadbroken Mr. S.'s heart: and as for a marriagehe wouldnevernevernevernever consent.

 

"Theymust run away togetherMa'am" Dobbin saidlaughing"and follow the example of Captain RawdonCrawleyand Miss Emmy's friend the little governess."Was itpossible? Well she never!  Mrs. Sedley was allexcitementabout this news.  She wished that Blenkinsop werehere tohear it:  Blenkinsop always mistrusted that MissSharp.--Whatan escape Jos had had! and she describedthealready well-known love-passages between Rebecca andtheCollector of Boggley Wollah.

 

It wasnothoweverMr. Sedley's wrath which Dobbinfearedsomuch as that of the other parent concernedand heowned that he had a very considerable doubtandanxiety respecting the behaviour of the black-browedold tyrantof a Russia merchant in Russell Square.  Hehasforbidden the match peremptorilyDobbin thought.He knewwhat a savage determined man Osborne wasandhow hestuck by his word.  The only chance George hasofreconcilement" argued his friend"is by distinguishinghimself inthe coming campaign.  If he dies they both gotogether. If he fails in distinction--what then?  He hassome moneyfrom his motherI have heard enough topurchasehis majority--or he must sell out and go anddig inCanadaor rough it in a cottage in the country."With sucha partner Dobbin thought he would not mindSiberia--andstrange to saythis absurd and utterlyimprudentyoung fellow never for a moment considered thatthe wantof means to keep a nice carriage and horsesand of anincome which should enable its possessors toentertaintheir friends genteellyought to operate as barsto theunion of George and Miss Sedley.

 

It wasthese weighty considerations which made himthink toothat the marriage should take place as quicklyaspossible.  Was he anxious himselfI wonderto have itover.?--aspeoplewhen death has occurredlike to pressforwardthe funeralor when a parting is resolved uponhastenit.  It is certain that Mr. Dobbinhaving taken thematter inhandwas most extraordinarily eager in theconduct ofit.  He urged on George the necessity of immediateaction: he showed the chances of reconciliation withhisfatherwhich a favourable mention of his name in theGazettemust bring about.  If need were he would go himselfand braveboth the fathers in the business.  At alleventshebesought George to go through with it beforethe orderscamewhich everybody expectedfor thedepartureof the regiment from England on foreign service.

 

Bent uponthese hymeneal projectsand with the applauseandconsent of Mrs. Sedleywho did not care tobreak thematter personally to her husbandMr. Dobbinwent toseek John Sedley at his house of call in the CitytheTapioca Coffee-housewheresince his own officeswere shutupand fate had overtaken himthe poorbroken-downold gentleman used to betake himself dailyand writeletters and receive themand tie them up intomysteriousbundlesseveral of which he carried in theflaps ofhis coat.  I don't know anything more dismal thanthatbusiness and bustle and mystery of a ruined man:  thoselettersfrom the wealthy which he shows you:  those worngreasydocuments promising support and offeringcondolencewhich he places wistfully before youand onwhich hebuilds his hopes of restoration and future fortune.My belovedreader has no doubt in the course ofhisexperience been waylaid by many such a lucklesscompanion. He takes you into the corner; he has his bundleof papersout of his gaping coat pocket; and the tape offand thestring in his mouthand the favourite lettersselectedand laid before you; and who does not know thesad eagerhalf-crazy look which he fixes on you with hishopelesseyes?

 

Changedinto a man of this sortDobbin found theoncefloridjovialand prosperous John Sedley.  Hiscoatthatused to be so glossy and trimwas white at theseamsandthe buttons showed the copper.  His face hadfallen inand was unshorn; his frill and neckcloth hunglimp underhis bagging waistcoat.  When he used to treatthe boysin old days at a coffee-househe would shoutand laughlouder than anybody thereand have all thewaitersskipping round him; it was quite painful to seehow humbleand civil he was to John of the Tapiocaablear-eyedold attendant in dingy stockings and crackedpumpswhose business it was to serve glasses of wafersandbumpers of ink in pewterand slices of paper to thefrequentersof this dreary house of entertainmentwherenothingelse seemed to be consumed.  As for WilliamDobbinwhom he had tipped repeatedly in his youthandwho hadbeen the old gentleman's butt on a thousandoccasionsold Sedley gave his hand to him in a veryhesitatinghumble manner nowand called him "Sir." Afeeling ofshame and remorse took possession of WilliamDobbin asthe broken old man so received and addressedhimas ifhe himself had been somehow guilty of themisfortuneswhich had brought Sedley so low.

 

"I amvery glad to see youCaptain Dobbinsir" saysheaftera skulking look or two at his visitor (whose lankyfigure andmilitary appearance caused some excitementlikewiseto twinkle in the blear eyes of the waiter in thecrackeddancing pumpsand awakened the old lady inblackwhodozed among the mouldy old coffee-cups in thebar). "How is the worthy aldermanand my ladyyourexcellentmothersir?"  He looked round at the waiter ashe said"My lady" as much as to say"Hark yeJohnIhavefriends stilland persons of rank and reputationtoo." "Are you come to do anything in my waysir?  Myyoungfriends Dale and Spiggot do all my business for menowuntilmy new offices are ready; for I'm only heretemporarilyyou knowCaptain.  What can we do for you.sir? Will you like to take anything?"

 

Dobbinwith a great deal of hesitation and stutteringprotestedthat he was not in the least hungry or thirsty;that hehad no business to transact; that he only cameto ask ifMr. Sedley was welland to shake hands withan oldfriend; andhe addedwith a desperate perversionof truth"My mother is very well--that isshe's been veryunwelland is only waiting for the first fine day to go outand callupon Mrs. Sedley.  How is Mrs. Sedleysir?  Ihope she'squite well."  And here he pausedreflecting onhis ownconsummate hypocrisy; for the day was as fineand thesunshine as bright as it ever is in Coffin Courtwhere theTapioca Coffee-house is situated: and Mr.Dobbinremembered that he had seen Mrs. Sedley himselfonly anhour beforehaving driven Osborne down to Fulhamin hisgigand left him there tete-a-tete with Miss Amelia.

 

"Mywife will be very happy to see her ladyship"Sedleyrepliedpulling out his papers.  "I've a very kindletterhere from your fathersirand beg my respectfulcomplimentsto him.  Lady D. will find us in rather asmallerhouse than we were accustomed to receive ourfriendsin; but it's snugand the change of air does goodto mydaughterwho was suffering in town rather--yourememberlittle Emmysir?--yessuffering a good deal."The oldgentleman's eyes were wandering as he spokeandhe wasthinking of something elseas he sate thrummingon hispapers and fumbling at the worn red tape.

 

"You'rea military man" he went on; "I ask youBillDobbincould any man ever have speculated upon thereturn ofthat Corsican scoundrel from Elba?  When thealliedsovereigns were here last yearand we gave 'emthatdinner in the Citysirand we saw the Temple ofConcordand the fireworksand the Chinese bridge inSt.James's Parkcould any sensible man suppose thatpeacewasn't really concludedafter we'd actually sung TeDeum foritsir?  I ask youWilliamcould I suppose thattheEmperor of Austria was a damned traitor--a traitorandnothing more?  I don't mince words--a double-facedinfernaltraitor and schemerwho meant to have his son-in-lawback all along.  And I say that the escape of Boneyfrom Elbawas a damned imposition and plotsirinwhich halfthe powers of Europe were concernedtobring thefunds downand to ruin this country.  That'swhy I'mhereWilliam.  That's why my name's in theGazette. Whysir?--because I trusted the Emperor ofRussia andthe Prince Regent.  Look here.  Look at mypapers. Look what the funds were on the 1st of March--what theFrench fives were when I bought for thecount. And what they're at now.  There was collusionsiror thatvillain never would have escaped.  Where was theEnglishCommissioner who allowed him to get away?  Heought tobe shotsir--brought to a court-martialandshotbyJove."

 

"We'regoing to hunt Boney outsir" Dobbin saidratheralarmed at the fury of the old manthe veins ofwhoseforehead began to swelland who sate drumminghis paperswith his clenched fist.  "We are going to hunthim outsir--the Duke's in Belgium alreadyand weexpectmarching orders every day."

 

"Givehim no quarter.  Bring back the villain's headsir.Shoot thecoward downsir" Sedley roared.  "I'd enlistmyselfby--; but I'm a broken old man--ruined bythatdamned scoundrel--and by a parcel of swindlingthieves inthis country whom I madesirand who arerolling intheir carriages now" he addedwith a break inhis voice.

 

Dobbin wasnot a little affected by the sight of this oncekind oldfriendcrazed almost with misfortune and ravingwithsenile anger.  Pity the fallen gentleman: you to whommoney andfair repute are the chiefest good; and sosurelyare they in Vanity Fair.

 

"Yes"he continued"there are some vipers that youwarmandthey sting you afterwards.  There are somebeggarsthat you put on horsebackand they're the firstto rideyou down.  You know whom I meanWilliamDobbinmyboy.  I mean a purse-proud villain in RussellSquarewhom I knew without a shillingand whom Ipray andhope to see a beggar as he was when Ibefriendedhim."

 

"Ihave heard something of thissirfrom my friendGeorge"Dobbin saidanxious to come to his point.  "Thequarrelbetween you and his father has cut him up a greatdealsir.  IndeedI'm the bearer of a message from him."

 

"OTHAT'S your errandis it?" cried the old manjumpingup.  "What! perhaps he condoles with medoes he?Very kindof himthe stiff-backed prigwith his dandifiedairs andWest End swagger.  He's hankering about myhouseishe still?  If my son had the courage of a manhe'd shoothim.  He's as big a villain as his father.  I won'thave hisname mentioned in my house.  I curse the daythat everI let him into it; and I'd rather see my daughterdead at myfeet than married to him."

 

"Hisfather's harshness is not George's faultsir.  Yourdaughter'slove for him is as much your doing as his.  Whoare youthat you are to play with two young people'saffectionsand break their hearts at your will?"

 

"Recollectit's not his father that breaks the match off"old Sedleycried out.  "It's I that forbid it.  That family andmine areseparated for ever.  I'm fallen lowbut not solow asthat: nono.  And so you may tell the whole race--sonandfather and sistersand all."

 

"It'smy beliefsirthat you have not the power or theright toseparate those two" Dobbin answered in a lowvoice;"and that if you don't give your daughter yourconsent itwill be her duty to marry without it.  There's noreason sheshould die or live miserably because youarewrong-headed.  To my thinkingshe's just as muchmarried asif the banns had been read in all the churches inLondon. And what better answer can there be to Osborne'schargesagainst youas charges there arethanthat hisson claims to enter your family and marry yourdaughter?"

 

A light ofsomething like satisfaction seemed to breakover oldSedley as this point was put to him: but he stillpersistedthat with his consent the marriage betweenAmelia andGeorge should never take place.

 

"Wemust do it without" Dobbin saidsmilingand toldMr.Sedleyas he had told Mrs. Sedley in the daybeforethe storyof Rebecca's elopement with Captain Crawley.  Itevidentlyamused the old gentleman.  "You're terriblefellowsyou Captains" said hetying up his papers; and hisface woresomething like a smile upon itto the astonishmentof theblear-eyed waiter who now enteredand hadnever seensuch an expression upon Sedley's countenancesince hehad used the dismal coffee-house.

 

The ideaof hitting his enemy Osborne such a blowsoothedperhapsthe old gentleman: andtheir colloquypresentlyendinghe and Dobbin parted pretty good friends.

 

"Mysisters say she has diamonds as big as pigeons'eggs"George saidlaughing.  "How they must set off hercomplexion! A perfect illumination it must be when herjewels areon her neck.  Her jet-black hair is as curly asSambo's. I dare say she wore a nose ring when she wentto court;and with a plume of feathers in her top-knotshe wouldlook a perfect Belle Sauvage."

 

Georgeinconversation with Ameliawas rallying theappearanceof a young lady of whom his father and sistershad latelymade the acquaintanceand who was an objectof vastrespect to the Russell Square family.  She was reportedto have Idon't know how many plantations in theWestIndies; a deal of money in the funds; and threestars toher name in the East India stockholders' list.  Shehad amansion in Surreyand a house in Portland Place.The nameof the rich West India heiress had been mentionedwithapplause in the Morning Post.  Mrs. HaggistounColonelHaggistoun's widowher relative"chaperoned"herandkept her house.  She was just from schoolwhereshe hadcompleted her educationand George and hissistershad met her at an evening party at old Hulker'shouseDevonshire Place (HulkerBullockand Co. werelong thecorrespondents of her house in the West Indies)and thegirls had made the most cordial advances to herwhich theheiress had received with great good humour.An orphanin her position--with her money--so interesting!the MissesOsborne said.  They were full of their newfriendwhen they returned from the Hulker ball to MissWirttheir companion; they had made arrangements forcontinuallymeetingand had the carriage and drove to seeher thevery next day.  Mrs. HaggistounColonel Haggistoun'swidowarelation of Lord Binkieand always talkingof himstruck the dear unsophisticated girls as ratherhaughtyand too much inclined to talk about her greatrelations:but Rhoda was everything they could wish--thefrankestkindestmost agreeable creature--wanting alittlepolishbut so good-natured.  The girls Christian-named eachother at once.

 

"Youshould have seen her dress for courtEmmy"Osbornecriedlaughing.  "She came to my sisters to showit offbefore she was presented in state by my LadyBinkiethe Haggistoun's kinswoman.  She's related to everyonethatHaggistoun.  Her diamonds blazed out likeVauxhallon the night we were there.  (Do you rememberVauxhallEmmyand Jos singing to his dearest diddlediddledarling?)  Diamonds and mahoganymy dear!think whatan advantageous contrast--and the whitefeathersin her hair--I mean in her wool.  She hadearringslike chandeliers; you might have lighted 'emupbyJove--and a yellow satin train that streeled afterher likethe tail of a cornet."

 

"Howold is she?" asked Emmyto whom George wasrattlingaway regarding this dark paragonon the morningof theirreunion--rattling away as no other man in theworldsurely could.

 

"Whythe Black Princessthough she has only just leftschoolmust be two or three and twenty.  And you shouldsee thehand she writes!  Mrs. Colonel Haggistoun usuallywrites herlettersbut in a moment of confidenceshe putpen topaper for my sisters; she spelt satin sattingandSaintJames'sSaint Jams."

 

"Whysurely it must be Miss Swartzthe parlourboarder"Emmy saidremembering that good-naturedyoungmulatto girlwho had been so hysterically affectedwhenAmelia left Miss Pinkerton's academy

 

"Thevery name" George said.  "Her father was a GermanJew--aslave-owner they say--connected with theCannibalIslands in some way or other.  He died last yearand MissPinkerton has finished her education.  She canplay twopieces on the piano; she knows three songs;she canwrite when Mrs. Haggistoun is by to spell for her;and Janeand Maria already have got to love her as asister."

 

"Iwish they would have loved me" said Emmywistfully."Theywere always very cold to me."

 

"Mydear childthey would have loved you if you hadhad twohundred thousand pounds" George replied.  "Thatis the wayin which they have been brought up.  Ours isaready-money society.  We live among bankers and Citybig-wigsand be hanged to themand every manas hetalks toyouis jingling his guineas in his pocket.  There isthatjackass Fred Bullock is going to marry Maria--there'sGoldmorethe East India Directorthere's Dipleyin thetallow trade--OUR trade" George saidwith anuneasylaugh and a blush.  "Curse the whole pack of money-grubbingvulgarians!  I fall asleep at their great heavydinners. I feel ashamed in my father's great stupidparties. I've been accustomed to live with gentlemenandmen of theworld and fashionEmmynot with a parcelofturtle-fed tradesmen.  Dear little womanyou are the onlyperson ofour set who ever lookedor thoughtor spokelike alady: and you do it because you're an angel andcan't helpit.  Don't remonstrate.  You are the only lady.Didn'tMiss Crawley remark itwho has lived in thebestcompany in Europe?  And as for Crawleyof the LifeGuardshang ithe's a fine fellow: and I like him formarryingthe girl he had chosen."

 

Ameliaadmired Mr. Crawley very muchtoofor this;andtrusted Rebecca would be happy with himand hoped(with alaugh) Jos would be consoled.  And so the pairwent onprattlingas in quite early days.  Amelia'sconfidencebeing perfectly restored to herthough sheexpresseda great deal of pretty jealousy about Miss Swartzandprofessed to be dreadfully frightened--like a hypocriteas shewas--lest George should forget her for theheiressand her money and her estates in Saint Kitt's.  Butthe factisshe was a great deal too happy to have fearsor doubtsor misgivings of any sort: and having Georgeat herside againwas not afraid of any heiress or beautyor indeedof any sort of danger.

 

WhenCaptain Dobbin came back in the afternoon tothesepeople--which he did with a great deal of sympathyforthem--it did his heart good to see how Amelia hadgrownyoung again--how she laughedand chirpedandsangfamiliar old songs at the pianowhich were onlyinterruptedby the bell from without proclaiming Mr.Sedley'sreturn from the Citybefore whom George received asignal toretreat.

 

Beyond thefirst smile of recognition--and even that wasanhypocrisyfor she thought his arrival rather provoking--MissSedley did not once notice Dobbin during hisvisit. But he was contentso that he saw her happy; andthankfulto have been the means of making her so.

 

 

 

 

CHAPTERXXIAQuarrel About an Heiress

 

Love maybe felt for any young lady endowed with suchqualitiesas Miss Swartz possessed; and a great dream ofambitionentered into old Mr. Osborne's soulwhich shewas torealize.  He encouragedwith the utmost enthusiasmandfriendlinesshis daughters' amiable attachment to theyoungheiressand protested that it gave him the sincerestpleasureas a father to see the love of his girls so well disposed.

 

"Youwon't find" he would say to Miss Rhoda"thatsplendourand rank to which you are accustomed at theWest Endmy dear Missat our humble mansion in RussellSquare. My daughters are plaindisinterested girlsbuttheirhearts are in the right placeand they've conceivedanattachment for you which does them honour--I saywhich doesthem honour.  I'm a plainsimplehumbleBritishmerchant--an honest oneas my respected friendsHulker andBullock will vouchwho were the correspondentsof yourlate lamented father.  You'll find us aunitedsimplehappyand I think I may say respectedfamily--aplain tablea plain peoplebut a warm welcomemy dearMiss Rhoda--Rhodalet me sayfor myheartwarms to youit does really.  I'm a frank manandI likeyou.  A glass of Champagne!  HicksChampagne toMissSwartz."

 

There islittle doubt that old Osborne believed all hesaidandthat the girls were quite earnest in theirprotestationsof affection for Miss Swartz.  People in VanityFairfasten on to rich folks quite naturally.  If the simplestpeople aredisposed to look not a little kindly ongreatProsperity (for I defy any member of the Britishpublic tosay that the notion of Wealth has not somethingawful andpleasing to him; and youif you are told thatthe mannext you at dinner has got half a millionnot tolook athim with a certain interest)--if the simple lookbenevolentlyon moneyhow much more do your oldworldlingsregard it!  Their affections rush out to meet andwelcomemoney.  Their kind sentiments awaken spontaneouslytowardsthe interesting possessors of it.  I knowsomerespectable people who don't consider themselvesat libertyto indulge in friendship for any individual whohas not acertain competencyor place in society.  Theygive aloose to their feelings on proper occasions.  Andthe proofisthat the major part of the Osborne familywho hadnotin fifteen yearsbeen able to get up aheartyregard for Amelia Sedleybecame as fond of MissSwartz inthe course of a single evening as the mostromanticadvocate of friendship at first sight could desire.

 

What amatch for George she'd be (the sisters andMiss Wirtagreed)and how much better than thatinsignificantlittle Amelia!  Such a dashing young fellow ashe iswith his good looksrankand accomplishmentswould bethe very husband for her.  Visions of balls inPortlandPlacepresentations at Courtand introductionsto halfthe peeragefilled the minds of the young ladies;who talkedof nothing but George and his grandacquaintancesto their beloved new friend.

 

OldOsborne thought she would be a great matchtoofor hisson.  He should leave the army; he should go intoParliament;he should cut a figure in the fashion and inthestate.  His blood boiled with honest British exultationas he sawthe name of Osborne ennobled in the personof hissonand thought that he might be the progenitor ofa gloriousline of baronets.  He worked in the City and on'Changeuntil he knew everything relating to the fortuneof theheiresshow her money was placedand where herestateslay.  Young Fred Bullockone of his chief informantswould haveliked to make a bid for her himself(it was sothe young banker expressed it)only he wasbooked toMaria Osborne.  But not being able to secureher as awifethe disinterested Fred quite approved of heras asister-in-law.  "Let George cut in directly and winher"was his advice.  "Strike while the iron's hotyouknow--whileshe's fresh to the town: in a few weekssome d--fellow from the West End will come in with atitle anda rotten rent-roll and cut all us City men outasLordFitzrufus did last year with Miss Grogramwho wasactuallyengaged to Podderof Podder & Brown's.  Thesooner itis done the betterMr. Osborne; them's mysentiments"the wag said; thoughwhen Osborne had leftthe bankparlourMr. Bullock remembered Ameliaandwhat apretty girl she wasand how attached to GeorgeOsborne;and he gave up at least ten seconds of hisvaluabletime to regretting the misfortune which hadbefallenthat unlucky young woman.

 

While thusGeorge Osborne's good feelingsand hisgoodfriend and geniusDobbinwere carrying back thetruant toAmelia's feetGeorge's parent and sisters werearrangingthis splendid match for himwhich they neverdreamed hewould resist.

 

When theelder Osborne gave what he called "a hint"there wasno possibility for the most obtuse to mistakehismeaning.  He called kicking a footman downstairs ahint tothe latter to leave his service.  With his usualfranknessand delicacy he told Mrs. Haggistoun that hewould giveher a cheque for five thousand pounds on theday hisson was married to her ward; and called thatproposal ahintand considered it a very dexterous pieceofdiplomacy.  He gave George finally such another hintregardingthe heiress; and ordered him to marry her outof handas he would have ordered his butler to draw acorkorhis clerk to write a letter.

 

Thisimperative hint disturbed George a good deal.  Hewas in thevery first enthusiasm and delight of his secondcourtshipof Ameliawhich was inexpressibly sweetto him. The contrast of her manners and appearance withthose ofthe heiressmade the idea of a union with thelatterappear doubly ludicrous and odious.  Carriages andopera-boxesthought he; fancy being seen in them by theside ofsuch a mahogany charmer as that!  Add to allthat thejunior Osborne was quite as obstinate as thesenior:when he wanted a thingquite as firm in hisresolutionto get it; and quite as violent when angeredas hisfather in his most stern moments.

 

On thefirst day when his father formally gave him thehint thathe was to place his affections at Miss Swartz'sfeetGeorge temporised with the old gentleman.  "Youshouldhave thought of the matter soonersir" he said."Itcan't be done nowwhen we're expecting every dayto go onforeign service.  Wait till my returnif I doreturn";and then he representedthat the time when theregimentwas daily expecting to quit Englandwasexceedinglyill-chosen: that the few days or weeks duringwhich theywere still to remain at homemust bedevoted tobusiness and not to love-making: time enoughfor thatwhen he came home with his majority; "forIpromiseyou" said hewith a satisfied air"that oneway orother you shall read the name of George Osbornein theGazette."

 

Thefather's reply to this was founded upon theinformationwhich he had got in the City: that the WestEnd chapswould infallibly catch hold of the heiress ifany delaytook place: that if he didn't marry Miss S.hemight atleast have an engagement in writingto comeintoeffect when he returned to England; and that a manwho couldget ten thousand a year by staying at homewas a foolto risk his life abroad.

 

"Sothat you would have me shown up as a cowardsirand ourname dishonoured for the sake of Miss Swartz'smoney"George interposed.

 

Thisremark staggered the old gentleman; but as hehad toreply to itand as his mind was neverthelessmade uphe said"You will dine here to-morrowsirand everyday Miss Swartz comesyou will be here topay yourrespects to her.  If you want for moneycallupon Mr.Chopper." Thus a new obstacle was in George'swaytointerfere with his plans regarding Amelia; andaboutwhich he and Dobbin had more than one confidentialconsultation. His friend's opinion respecting theline ofconduct which he ought to pursuewe knowalready. And as for Osbornewhen he was once bent on athingafresh obstacle or two only rendered him themoreresolute.

 

The darkobject of the conspiracy into which the chiefsof theOsborne family had enteredwas quite ignorant ofall theirplans regarding her (whichstrange to sayherfriend andchaperon did not divulge)andtaking all theyoungladies' flattery for genuine sentimentand beingas we havebefore had occasion to showof a verywarm andimpetuous natureresponded to their affectionwith quitea tropical ardour.  And if the truth may be toldI dare saythat she too had some selfish attraction in theRussellSquare house; and in a wordthought GeorgeOsborne avery nice young man.  His whiskers had madeanimpression upon heron the very first night shebeheldthem at the ball at Messrs. Hulkers; andas weknowshewas not the first woman who had beencharmed bythem.  George had an air at once swaggeringandmelancholylanguid and fierce.  He looked like aman whohad passionssecretsand private harrowinggriefs andadventures.  His voice was rich and deep.  Hewould sayit was a warm eveningor ask his partner totake anicewith a tone as sad and confidential as if hewerebreaking her mother's death to heror preluding adeclarationof love.  He trampled over all the young bucksof hisfather's circleand was the hero among thosethird-ratemen.  Some few sneered at him and hated him.SomelikeDobbinfanatically admired him.  And his whiskershad begunto do their workand to curl themselvesround theaffections of Miss Swartz.

 

Wheneverthere was a chance of meeting him in RussellSquarethat simple and good-natured young womanwas quitein a flurry to see her dear Misses Osborne.  Shewent togreat expenses in new gownsand braceletsandbonnetsand in prodigious feathers.  She adorned herpersonwith her utmost skill to please the Conquerorandexhibited all her simple accomplishments to win hisfavour. The girls would ask herwith the greatestgravityfor a little musicand she would sing her threesongs andplay her two little pieces as often as evertheyaskedand with an always increasing pleasure toherself. During these delectable entertainmentsMissWirt andthe chaperon sate byand conned over thepeerageand talked about the nobility.

 

The dayafter George had his hint from his fatheranda shorttime before the hour of dinnerhe was lollingupon asofa in the drawing-room in a very becomingandperfectly natural attitude of melancholy.  He hadbeenathis father's requestto Mr. Chopper in the City(theold-gentlemanthough he gave great sums to hissonwouldnever specify any fixed allowance for himandrewarded him only as he was in the humour).  Hehad thenbeen to pass three hours with Ameliahisdearlittle Ameliaat Fulham; and he came home tofind hissisters spread in starched muslin in the drawing-roomthedowagers cackling in the backgroundandhonestSwartz in her favourite amber-coloured satinwithturquoisebraceletscountless ringsflowersfeathersandall sortsof tags and gimcracksabout as elegantlydecoratedas a she chimney-sweep on May-day.

 

The girlsafter vain attempts to engage him in conversationtalkedabout fashions and the last drawing-roomuntil hewas perfectly sick of their chatter.  Hecontrastedtheir behaviour with little Emmy's--theirshrillvoices with her tender ringing tones; their attitudesand theirelbows and their starchwith her humble softmovementsand modest graces.  Poor Swartz was seatedin a placewhere Emmy had been accustomed to sit.Herbejewelled hands lay sprawling in her amber satinlap. Her tags and ear-rings twinkledand her big eyesrolledabout.  She was doing nothing with perfect contentmentandthinking herself charming.  Anything so becomingas thesatin the sisters had never seen.

 

"Dammy"George said to a confidential friend"shelookedlike a China dollwhich has nothing to do all daybut togrin and wag its head.  By JoveWillit was all II could doto prevent myself from throwing the sofa-cushion ather." He restrained that exhibition ofsentimenthowever.

 

Thesisters began to play the Battle of Prague.  "Stopthat d--thing" George howled out in a fury from thesofa. "It makes me mad.  You play us somethingMissSwartzdo.  Sing somethinganything but the Battle ofPrague."

 

"ShallI sing 'Blue Eyed Mary' or the air from theCabinet?"Miss Swartz asked.

 

"Thatsweet thing from the Cabinet" the sisters said.

 

"We'vehad that" replied the misanthrope on the sofa

 

"Ican sing 'Fluvy du Tajy' " Swartz saidin a meekvoice"ifI had the words." It was the last of the worthyyoungwoman's collection.

 

"O'Fleuve du Tage' " Miss Maria cried; "we have thesong"and went off to fetch the book in which it was.

 

Now ithappened that this songthen in the height ofthefashionhad been given to the young ladies by a youngfriend oftheirswhose name was on the titleand MissSwartzhaving concluded the ditty with George's applause(for heremembered that it was a favourite of Amelia's)was hopingfor an encore perhapsand fiddling with theleaves ofthe musicwhen her eye fell upon the titleandshe saw"Amelia Sedley" written in the comer.

 

"Lor!"cried Miss Swartzspinning swiftly round onthemusic-stool"is it my Amelia?  Amelia that was atMiss P.'sat Hammersmith?  I know it is.  It's her.  and--Tell meabout her--where is she?"

 

"Don'tmention her" Miss Maria Osborne saidhastily. "Her family has disgraced itself.  Her fathercheatedPapaand as for hershe is never to be mentionedHERE."This was Miss Maria's return for George'srudenessabout the Battle of Prague.

 

"Areyou a friend of Amelia's?" George saidbouncingup. "God bless you for itMiss Swartz.  Don't believewhatthegirls say.  SHE'S not to blame at any rate.She's thebest--"

 

"Youknow you're not to speak about herGeorge"criedJane.  "Papa forbids it."

 

"Who'sto prevent me?" George cried out.  "I will speakof her. I say she's the bestthe kindestthe gentlestthesweetestgirl in England; and thatbankrupt or nomysistersare not fit to hold candles to her.  If you like hergo and seeherMiss Swartz; she wants friends now; andI sayGodbless everybody who befriends her.  Anybodywho speakskindly of her is my friend; anybody whospeaksagainst her is my enemy.  Thank youMiss Swartz";and hewent up and wrung her hand.

 

"George!George!" one of the sisters cried imploringly.

 

"Isay" George said fiercely"I thank everybody wholovesAmelia Sed--" He stopped.  Old Osborne was inthe roomwith a face livid with rageand eyes like hotcoals.

 

ThoughGeorge had stopped in his sentenceyethisbloodbeing uphe was not to be cowed by all thegenerationsof Osborne; rallying instantlyhe replied tothebullying look of his fatherwith another so indicativeofresolution and defiance that the elder man quailed inhis turnand looked away.  He felt that the tussle wascoming. "Mrs. Haggistounlet me take you down to dinner"he said. "Give your arm to Miss SwartzGeorge"and theymarched.

 

"MissSwartzI love Ameliaand we've been engagedalmost allour lives" Osborne said to his partner; andduring allthe dinnerGeorge rattled on with a volubilitywhichsurprised himselfand made his father doublynervousfor the fight which was to take place as soon asthe ladieswere gone.

 

Thedifference between the pair wasthat while thefather wasviolent and a bullythe son had thrice thenerve andcourage of the parentand could not merelymake anattackbut resist it; and finding that the momentwas nowcome when the contest between him andhis fatherwas to be decidedhe took his dinner withperfectcoolness and appetite before the engagementbegan. Old Osborneon the contrarywas nervousanddrankmuch.  He floundered in his conversation with theladieshis neighbours: George's coolness only renderinghim moreangry.  It made him half mad to see the calmway inwhich Georgeflapping his napkinand with aswaggeringbowopened the door for the ladies to leavethe room;and filling himself a glass of winesmacked itand lookedhis father full in the faceas if to say"Gentlemenof the Guardfire first." The old man also took asupply ofammunitionbut his decanter clinked againstthe glassas he tried to fill it.

 

Aftergiving a great heaveand with a purple chokingfacehethen began.  "How dare yousirmention thatperson'sname before Miss Swartz to-dayin my drawing-room? Iask yousirhow dare you do it?"

 

"Stopsir" says George"don't say daresir.  Dareisn't aword to be used to a Captain in the British Army."

 

"Ishall say what I like to my sonsir.  I can cut him offwith ashilling if I like.  I can make him a beggar if I like.I WILL saywhat I like" the elder said.

 

"I'ma gentleman though I AM your sonsir" Georgeansweredhaughtily.  "Any communications which youhave tomake to meor any orders which you mayplease togiveI beg may be couched in that kind oflanguagewhich I am accustomed to hear."

 

Wheneverthe lad assumed his haughty manneritalwayscreated either great awe or great irritation in theparent. Old Osborne stood in secret terror of his son as abettergentleman than himself; and perhaps my readersmay haveremarked in their experience of this Vanity Fairof oursthat there is no character which a low-mindedman somuch mistrusts as that of a gentleman.

 

"Myfather didn't give me the education you have hadnor theadvantages you have hadnor the money youhave had. If I had kept the company SOME FOLKS havehadthrough MY MEANSperhaps my son wouldn't haveany reasonto bragsirof his SUPERIORITY and WEST ENDAIRS(these words were uttered in the elder Osborne'smostsarcastic tones).  But it wasn't considered the partof agentlemanin MY timefor a man to insult his father.If I'ddone any such thingmine would have kicked medownstairssir."

 

"Inever insulted yousir.  I said I begged you torememberyour son was a gentleman as well as yourself.I knowvery well that you give me plenty of money"saidGeorge (fingering a bundle of notes which he hadgot in themorning from Mr. Chopper).  "You tell it meoftenenoughsir.  There's no fear of my forgetting it."

 

"Iwish you'd remember other things as wellsir" thesireanswered.  "I wish you'd remember that in this house--so longas you choose to HONOUR it with your COMPANYCaptain--I'mthe masterand that nameand thatthat--thatyou--that I say--"

 

"Thatwhatsir?" George askedwith scarcely a sneerfillinganother glass of claret.

 

"--!"burst out his father with a screaming oath--"thatthe name of those Sedleys never be mentionedheresir--not one of the whole damned lot of 'emsir."

 

"Itwasn't Isirthat introduced Miss Sedley's name.  Itwas mysisters who spoke ill of her to Miss Swartz; andby JoveI'll defend her wherever I go.  Nobody shallspeaklightly of that name in my presence.  Our familyhas doneher quite enough injury alreadyI thinkandmay leaveoff reviling her now she's down.  I'll shoot anyman butyou who says a word against her."

 

"Goonsirgo on" the old gentleman saidhis eyesstartingout of his head.

 

"Goon about whatsir? about the way in which we'vetreatedthat angel of a girl?  Who told me to love her?  Itwas yourdoing.  I might have chosen elsewhereandlookedhigherperhapsthan your society: but I obeyedyou. And now that her heart's mine you give me ordersto flingit awayand punish herkill her perhaps--forthe faultsof other people.  It's a shameby Heavens"saidGeorgeworking himself up into passion andenthusiasmas he proceeded"to play at fast and loose witha younggirl's affections--and with such an angel as that--one sosuperior to the people amongst whom she livedthat shemight have excited envyonly she was so goodandgentlethat it's a wonder anybody dared to hate her.If Idesert hersirdo you suppose she forgets me?"

 

"Iain't going to have any of this dam sentimental nonsenseand humbugheresir" the father cried out.  "Thereshall beno beggar-marriages in my family.  If you chooseto flingaway eight thousand a yearwhich you may havefor theaskingyou may do it: but by Jove you take yourpack andwalk out of this housesir.  Will you do as I tellyouoncefor allsiror will you not?"

 

"Marrythat mulatto woman?" George saidpulling uphisshirt-collars.  "I don't like the coloursir.  Asktheblack thatsweeps opposite Fleet Marketsir.  I'm notgoing tomarry a Hottentot Venus."

 

Mr.Osborne pulled frantically at the cord by which hewasaccustomed to summon the butler when he wantedwine--andalmost black in the faceordered that functionaryto call acoach for Captain Osborne.

 

"I'vedone it" said Georgecoming into the Slaughters'an hourafterwardslooking very pale.

 

"Whatmy boy?" says Dobbin.

 

Georgetold what had passed between his father andhimself.

 

"I'llmarry her to-morrow" he said with an oath.  "Ilove hermore every dayDobbin."

 

 

 

 

CHAPTERXXIIAMarriage and Part of a Honeymoon

 

Enemiesthe most obstinate and courageous can't holdoutagainst starvation; so the elder Osborne felt himselfprettyeasy about his adversary in the encounter we havejustdescribed; and as soon as George's supplies fellshortconfidently expected his unconditional submission.It wasunluckyto be surethat the lad should have secureda stock ofprovisions on the very day when the firstencountertook place; but this relief was only temporaryoldOsborne thoughtand would but delay George'ssurrender. No communication passed between father andson forsome days.  The former was sulky at this silencebut notdisquieted; foras he saidhe knew where hecould putthe screw upon Georgeand only waited theresult ofthat operation.  He told the sisters the upshot ofthedispute between thembut ordered them to take nonotice ofthe matterand welcome George on his returnas ifnothing had happened.  His cover was laid as usualevery dayand perhaps the old gentleman rather anxiouslyexpectedhim; but he never came.  Some one inquiredat theSlaughters' regarding himwhere it was saidthat heand his friend Captain Dobbin had left town.

 

One gustyraw day at the end of April--the rain whippingthepavement of that ancient street where the oldSlaughters'Coffee-house was once situated--George Osbornecame intothe coffee-roomlooking very haggardand pale;although dressed rather smartly in a blue coatand brassbuttonsand a neat buff waistcoat of the fashionof thosedays.  Here was his friend Captain Dobbinin blueand brass toohaving abandoned the militaryfrock andFrench-grey trouserswhich were the usualcoveringsof his lanky person.

 

Dobbin hadbeen in the coffee-room for an hour ormore. He had tried all the papersbut could not readthem. He had looked at the clock many scores of times;and at thestreetwhere the rain was pattering downand thepeople as they clinked by in pattensleft longreflectionson the shining stone: he tattooed at the table:he bit hisnails most completelyand nearly to the quick(he wasaccustomed to ornament his great big hands inthis way):he balanced the tea-spoon dexterously on themilk jug:upset it&c.&c.; and in fact showed thosesigns ofdisquietudeand practised those desperateattemptsat amusementwhich men are accustomed toemploywhen very anxiousand expectantand perturbedin mind.

 

Some ofhis comradesgentlemen who used the roomjoked himabout the splendour of his costume and hisagitationof manner.  One asked him if he was going to bemarried? Dobbin laughedand said he would send hisacquaintance(Major Wagstaff of the Engineers) a piece ofcake whenthat event took place.  At length Captain Osbornemade hisappearancevery smartly dressedbutvery paleand agitated as we have said.  He wiped hispale facewith a large yellow bandanna pocket-handkerchiefthat wasprodigiously scented.  He shook hands withDobbinlooked at the clockand told Johnthe waiterto bringhim some curacao.  Of this cordial he swallowedoff acouple of glasses with nervous eagerness.His friendasked with some interest about his health.

 

"Couldn'tget a wink of sleep till daylightDob" saidhe. "Infernal headache and fever.  Got up at nineandwent downto the Hummums for a bath.  I sayDobI feeljust as Idid on the morning I went out with Rocket atQuebec."

 

"Sodo I" William responded.  "I was a deuced dealmorenervous than you were that morning.  You made afamousbreakfastI remember.  Eat something now."

 

"You'rea good old fellowWill.  I'll drink your healthold boyand farewell to--"

 

"Nono; two glasses are enough" Dobbin interruptedhim. "Heretake away the liqueursJohn.  Have somecayenne-pepperwith your fowl.  Make haste thoughfor itis time wewere there."

 

It wasabout half an hour from twelve when thisbriefmeeting and colloquy took place between the twocaptains. A coachinto which Captain Osborne's servantput hismaster's desk and dressing-casehad been inwaitingfor some time; and into this the two gentlemenhurriedunder an umbrellaand the valet mounted on theboxcursing the rain and the dampness of the coachmanwho wassteaming beside him.  "We shall find a bettertrap thanthis at the church-door" says he; "that's acomfort."And the carriage drove ontaking the roaddownPiccadillywhere Apsley House and St. George'sHospitalwore red jackets still; where there were oil-lamps;where Achilles was not yet born; nor the Pimlicoarchraised; nor the hideous equestrian monster whichpervadesit and the neighbourhood; and so they drovedown byBrompton to a certain chapel near the FulhamRoadthere.

 

A chariotwas in waiting with four horses; likewise acoach ofthe kind called glass coaches.  Only a very fewidlerswere collected on account of the dismal rain.

 

"Hangit!" said George"I said only a pair."

 

"Mymaster would have four" said Mr. Joseph Sedley'sservantwho was in waiting; and he and Mr. Osborne'sman agreedas they followed George and William intothechurchthat it was a "reg'lar shabby turnhout; andwith scarce so much as a breakfast or aweddingfaviour."

 

"Hereyou are" said our old friendJos Sedleycomingforward. "You're five minutes lateGeorgemy boy.What adayeh? Demmyit's like the commencement ofthe rainyseason in Bengal.  But you'll find my carriageiswatertight.  Come alongmy mother and Emmy are in thevestry."

 

Jos Sedleywas splendid.  He was fatter than ever.  Hisshirtcollars were higher; his face was redder; his shirt-frillflaunted gorgeously out of his variegated waistcoat.Varnishedboots were not invented as yet; but the Hessianson hisbeautiful legs shone sothat they must have beentheidentical pair in which the gentleman in the old pictureused toshave himself; and on his light green coattherebloomed a fine wedding favourlike a great whitespreadingmagnolia.

 

In a wordGeorge had thrown the great cast.  He wasgoing tobe married.  Hence his pallor and nervousness--hissleepless night and agitation in the morning.  I haveheardpeople who have gone through the same thingown to thesame emotion.  After three or four ceremoniesyou getaccustomed to itno doubt; but the firstdipeverybody allowsis awful.

 

The bridewas dressed in a brown silk pelisse (asCaptainDobbin has since informed me)and wore a strawbonnetwith a pink ribbon; over the bonnet she had aveil ofwhite Chantilly lacea gift from Mr. Joseph Sedleyherbrother.  Captain Dobbin himself had asked leaveto presenther with a gold chain and watchwhich shesported onthis occasion; and her mother gave her herdiamondbrooch--almost the only trinket which was leftto the oldlady.  As the service went onMrs. Sedley satandwhimpered a great deal in a pewconsoled by theIrishmaid-servant and Mrs. Clapp from the lodgings.Old Sedleywould not be present.  Jos acted for his fathergivingaway the bridewhilst Captain Dobbin stepped upasgroomsman to his friend George.

 

There wasnobody in the church besides the officiatingpersonsand the small marriage party and their attendants.The twovalets sat aloof superciliously.  The raincamerattling down on the windows.  In the intervals oftheservice you heard itand the sobbing of old Mrs.Sedley inthe pew.  The parson's tones echoed sadlythroughthe empty walls.  Osborne's "I will" was soundedin verydeep bass.  Emmy's response came fluttering upto herlips from her heartbut was scarcely heard byanybodyexcept Captain Dobbin.

 

When theservice was completedJos Sedley cameforwardand kissed his sisterthe bridefor the first timefor manymonths--George's look of gloom had goneandhe seemedquite proud and radiant.  "It's your turnWilliam"says heputting his hand fondly upon Dobbin'sshoulder;and Dobbin went up and touched Amelia onthe cheek.

 

Then theywent into the vestry and signed the register."Godbless youOld Dobbin" George saidgrasping himby thehandwith something very like moisture glisteningin hiseyes.  William replied only by nodding his head.His heartwas too full to say much.

 

"Writedirectlyand come down as soon as you canyou know"Osborne said.  After Mrs. Sedley had taken anhystericaladieu of her daughterthe pair went off to thecarriage. "Get out of the wayyou little devils" Georgecried to asmall crowd of damp urchinsthat were hangingabout thechapel-door.  The rain drove into the brideandbridegroom's faces as they passed to the chariot.Thepostilions' favours draggled on their dripping jackets.The fewchildren made a dismal cheeras the carriagesplashingmuddrove away.

 

WilliamDobbin stood in the church-porchlooking at ita queerfigure.  The small crew of spectators jeered him.He was notthinking about them or their laughter.

 

"Comehome and have some tiffinDobbin" a voicecriedbehind him; as a pudgy hand was laid on his shoulderand thehonest fellow's reverie was interrupted.  ButtheCaptain had no heart to go a-feasting with Jos Sedley.He put theweeping old lady and her attendants into thecarriagealong with Josand left them without any fartherwordspassing.  This carriagetoodrove awayand theurchinsgave another sarcastical cheer.

 

"Hereyou little beggars" Dobbin saidgiving somesixpencesamongst themand then went off by himselfthroughthe rain.  It was all over.  They were marriedandhappyheprayed God.  Never since he was a boy had hefelt somiserable and so lonely.  He longed with a heart-sickyearning for the first few days to be overthat hemight seeher again.

 

Some tendays after the above ceremonythree youngmen of ouracquaintance were enjoying that beautifulprospectof bow windows on the one side and blue seaon theotherwhich Brighton affords to the traveller.Sometimesit is towards the ocean--smiling with countlessdimplesspeckled with white sailswith a hundredbathing-machineskissing the skirt of his blue garment--that theLondoner looks enraptured: sometimeson thecontrarya lover of human nature rather than of prospectsof anykindit is towards the bow windows thathe turnsand that swarm of human life which theyexhibit. From one issue the notes of a pianowhich a younglady inringlets practises six hours dailyto the delightof thefellow-lodgers: at anotherlovely Pollythe nurse-maidmaybe seen dandling Master Omnium in her arms:whilstJacobhis papais beheld eating prawnsanddevouringthe Times for breakfastat the window below.Yonder arethe Misses Leerywho are looking out for theyoungofficers of the Heavieswho are pretty sure to bepacing thecliff; or again it is a City manwith a nauticalturnanda telescopethe size of a six-pounderwho hashisinstrument pointed seawardsso as to command everypleasure-boatherring-boator bathing-machine thatcomes toor quitsthe shore&c.&c.  But have we anyleisurefor a description of Brighton?--for BrightonacleanNaples with genteel lazzaroni--for Brightonthatalwayslooks briskgayand gaudylike a harlequin'sjacket--forBrightonwhich used to be seven hoursdistantfrom London at the time of our story; which is nowonly ahundred minutes off; and which may approachwho knowshow much nearerunless Joinville comes anduntimelybombards it?

 

"Whata monstrous fine girl that is in the lodgingsover themilliner's" one of these three promenadersremarkedto the other; "GadCrawleydid you see what awink shegave me as I passed?"

 

"Don'tbreak her heartJosyou rascal" said another."Don'ttrifle with her affectionsyou Don Juan!"

 

"Getaway" said Jos Sedleyquite pleasedand leering upat themaid-servant in question with a most killingogle. Jos was even more splendid at Brighton than he hadbeen athis sister's marriage.  He had brilliant under-waistcoatsany one ofwhich would have set up a moderate buck.He sporteda military frock-coatornamented withfrogsknobsblack buttonsand meandering embroidery.He hadaffected a military appearance and habits of late;and hewalked with his two friendswho were of thatprofessionclinking his boot-spursswaggering prodigiouslyandshooting death-glances at all the servant girlswho wereworthy to be slain.

 

"Whatshall we doboystill the ladies return?" thebuckasked.  The ladies were out to Rottingdean in hiscarriageon a drive.

 

"Let'shave a game at billiards" one of his friendssaid--thetall onewith lacquered mustachios.

 

"Nodammy; noCaptain" Jos repliedratheralarmed. "No billiards to-dayCrawleymy boy;yesterdaywas enough."

 

"Youplay very well" said Crawleylaughing.  "Don'theOsborne? How well he made that-five strokeeh?"

 

"Famous"Osborne said.  "Jos is a devil of a fellowatbilliardsand at everything elsetoo.  I wish there wereanytiger-hunting about here! we might go and kill a fewbeforedinner.  (There goes a fine girl! what an ankleehJos?) Tellus that story about the tiger-huntand theway youdid for him in the jungle--it's a wonderful storythatCrawley." Here George Osborne gave a yawn.  "It'sratherslow work" said he"down here; what shall wedo?"

 

"Shallwe go and look at some horses that Snaffler'sjustbrought from Lewes fair?" Crawley said.

 

"Supposewe go and have some jellies at Dutton's"and therogue Joswilling to kill two birds with onestone. "Devilish fine gal at Dutton's."

 

"Supposewe go and see the Lightning come init'sjust abouttime?" George said.  This advice prevailingover thestables and the jellythey turned towards thecoach-officeto witness the Lightning's arrival.

 

As theypassedthey met the carriage--Jos Sedley'sopencarriagewith its magnificent armorial bearings--thatsplendid conveyance in which he used to driveaboutatCheltonhammajestic and solitarywith his armsfoldedand his hat cocked; ormore happywith ladiesby hisside.

 

Two werein the carriage now: one a little personwithlighthairand dressed in the height of the fashion; theother in abrown silk pelisseand a straw bonnet withpinkribbonswith a rosyroundhappy facethat didyou goodto behold.  She checked the carriage as itneared thethree gentlemenafter which exercise ofauthorityshe looked rather nervousand then began toblush mostabsurdly.  "We have had a delightful driveGeorge"she said"and--and we're so glad to come back;andJosephdon't let him be late."

 

"Don'tbe leading our husbands into mischiefMr.Sedleyyou wickedwicked man you" Rebecca saidshaking atJos a pretty little finger covered with theneatestFrench kid glove.  "No billiardsno smokingnonaughtiness!"

 

"Mydear Mrs. Crawley--Ah now! upon my honour!"was allJos could ejaculate by way of reply; but he managedto fallinto a tolerable attitudewith his head lyingon hisshouldergrinning upwards at his victimwith onehand athis backwhich he supported on his caneandthe otherhand (the one with the diamond ring) fumblingin hisshirt-frill and among his under-waistcoats.  As thecarriagedrove off he kissed the diamond hand to the fairladieswithin.  He wished all Cheltenhamall ChowringheeallCalcuttacould see him in that positionwaving hishand tosuch a beautyand in company with such afamousbuck as Rawdon Crawley of the Guards.

 

Our youngbride and bridegroom had chosen Brightonas theplace where they would pass the first few days aftertheirmarriage; and having engaged apartments at theShip Innenjoyed themselves there in great comfort andquietudeuntil Jos presently joined them.  Nor was hethe onlycompanion they found there.  As they werecominginto the hotel from a sea-side walk one afternoonon whomshould they light but Rebecca and herhusband. The recognition was immediate.  Rebecca flewinto thearms of her dearest friend.  Crawley and Osborneshookhands together cordially enough: and Beckyinthe courseof a very few hoursfound means to make thelatterforget that little unpleasant passage of words whichhadhappened between them.  "Do you remember the lasttime wemet at Miss Crawley'swhen I was so rude toyoudearCaptain Osborne? I thought you seemed carelessabout dearAmelia.  It was that made me angry: andso pert:and so unkind: and so ungrateful.  Do forgiveme!"Rebecca saidand she held out her hand with sofrank andwinning a gracethat Osborne could not buttake it. By humbly and frankly acknowledging yourself tobe in thewrongthere is no knowingmy sonwhat goodyou maydo.  I knew once a gentleman and very worthypractitionerin Vanity Fairwho used to do little wrongsto hisneighbours on purposeand in order to apologisefor themin an open and manly way afterwards--andwhatensued?  My friend Crocky Doyle was liked everywhereand deemedto be rather impetuous--but the honestestfellow. Becky's humility passed for sincerity withGeorgeOsborne.

 

These twoyoung couples had plenty of tales to relateto eachother.  The marriages of either were discussed;and theirprospects in life canvassed with the greatestfranknessand interest on both sides.  George's marriagewas to bemade known to his father by his friendCaptainDobbin; and young Osborne trembled rather for theresult ofthat communication.  Miss Crawleyon whomallRawdon's hopes dependedstill held out.  Unable tomake anentry into her house in Park Laneheraffectionatenephew and niece had followed her toBrightonwhere they had emissaries continually plantedat herdoor.

 

"Iwish you could see some of Rawdon's friends whoare alwaysabout our door" Rebecca saidlaughing.  "Didyou eversee a dunmy dear; or a bailiff and his man?Two of theabominable wretches watched all last weekat thegreengrocer's oppositeand we could not get awayuntilSunday.  If Aunty does not relentwhat shall wedo?"

 

Rawdonwith roars of laughterrelated a dozen amusinganecdotesof his dunsand Rebecca's adroit treatmentof them. He vowed with a great oath that there wasno womanin Europe who could talk a creditor over asshecould.  Almost immediately after their marriageherpracticehad begunand her husband found the immensevalue ofsuch a wife.  They had credit in plentybut theyhad billsalso in abundanceand laboured under a scarcityof readymoney.  Did these debt-difficulties affect Rawdon'sgoodspirits?  No.  Everybody in Vanity Fair musthaveremarked how well those live who are comfortablyandthoroughly in debt: how they deny themselves nothing;how jollyand easy they are in their minds.  Rawdonand hiswife had the very best apartments at the inn atBrighton;the landlordas he brought in the first dishbowedbefore them as to his greatest customers: andRawdonabused the dinners and wine with an audacitywhich nograndee in the land could surpass.  Long customa manlyappearancefaultless boots and clothesand ahappy fierceness of mannerwill often help a manas much asa great balance at the banker's.

 

The twowedding parties met constantly in each other'sapartments. After two or three nights the gentlemen of aneveninghad a little piquetas their wives sate and chattedapart. This pastimeand the arrival of Jos Sedleywhomade hisappearance in his grand open carriageand whoplayed afew games at billiards with Captain CrawleyreplenishedRawdon's purse somewhatand gave him thebenefit ofthat ready money for which the greatest spiritsaresometimes at a stand-still.

 

So thethree gentlemen walked down to see the Lightningcoach comein.  Punctual to the minutethe coachcrowdedinside and outthe guard blowing his accustomedtune onthe horn--the Lightning came tearingdown thestreetand pulled up at the coach-office.

 

"Hullo!there's old Dobbin" George criedquite delightedto see hisold friend perched on the roof; andwhosepromised visit to Brighton had been delayed untilnow. "How are youold fellow?  Glad you're come down.Emmy'll bedelighted to see you" Osborne saidshakinghiscomrade warmly by the hand as soon as his descentfrom thevehicle was effected--and then he addedin alower andagitated voice"What's the news?  Have youbeen inRussell Square?  What does the governor say?Tell meeverything."

 

Dobbinlooked very pale and grave.  "I've seen yourfather"said he.  "How's Amelia--Mrs. George?  I'll tellyou allthe news presently: but I've brought the greatnews ofall: and that is--"

 

"Outwith itold fellow" George said.

 

"We'reordered to Belgium.  All the army goes--guardsand all. Heavytop's got the goutand is mad at not beingable tomove.  O'Dowd goes in commandand we embarkfromChatham next week." This news of war couldnot butcome with a shock upon our loversand causedall thesegentlemen to look very serious.

 

 

 

 

CHAPTERXXIIICaptainDobbin Proceeds on His Canvass

 

WHAT isthe secret mesmerism which friendshippossessesand under the operation of which a personordinarilysluggishor coldor timidbecomes wiseactiveand resolutein another's behalf?  As Alexisafter afew passes from Dr. Elliotsondespises painreads withthe back of his headsees miles offlooks intonext weekand performs other wondersof whichin his own private normal conditionhe isquiteincapable; so you seein the affairs of the worldand underthe magnetism of friendshipsthe modestmanbecomes boldthe shy confidentthe lazy activeortheimpetuous prudent and peaceful.  What is iton theotherhandthat makes the lawyer eschew his own causeand callin his learned brother as an adviser?  And what causesthedoctorwhen ailingto send for his rivaland not sitdown andexamine his own tongue in the chimney Bassor writehis own prescription at his study-table?  I throwout thesequeries for intelligent readers to answerwhoknowatoncehow credulous we areand how scepticalhow softand how obstinatehow firm for others and howdiffidentabout ourselves:  meanwhileit is certain thatour friendWilliam Dobbinwho was personally of socomplyinga disposition that if his parents had pressedhim muchit is probable he would have stepped downinto thekitchen and married the cookand whoto furtherhis owninterestswould have found the most insuperabledifficultyin walking across the streetfound himself asbusy andeager in the conduct of George Osborne'saffairsas the most selfish tactician could be in the pursuitof hisown.

 

Whilst ourfriend George and his young wife wereenjoyingthe first blushing days of the honeymoon atBrightonhonest William was left as George's plenipotentiaryin Londonto transact all the business part of the marriage.His dutyit was to call upon old Sedley and hiswifeandto keep the former in good humour:  to draw Josand hisbrother-in-law nearer togetherso that Jos's positionanddignityas collector of Boggley Wollahmightcompensatefor his father's loss of stationand tend toreconcileold Osborne to the alliance:  and finallytocommunicateit to the latter in such a way as should leastirritatethe old gentleman.

 

Nowbefore he faced the head of the Osborne housewith thenews which it was his duty to tellDobbin bethoughthim thatit would be politic to make friends of therest ofthe familyandif possiblehave the ladies on hisside. Theycan't be angry in their heartsthought he.  Nowoman everwas really angry at a romantic marriage.  Alittlecrying outand they must come round to theirbrother;when the three of us will lay siege to old Mr.Osborne. So this Machiavellian captain of infantry castabout himfor some happy means or stratagem by whichhe couldgently and gradually bring the Misses Osborneto aknowledge of their brother's secret.

 

By alittle inquiry regarding his mother's engagementshe waspretty soon able to find out by whom of herladyship'sfriends parties were given at that season; wherehe wouldbe likely to meet Osborne's sisters; andthoughhe hadthat abhorrence of routs and evening partieswhich manysensible menalas! entertainhe soon foundone wherethe Misses Osborne were to be present.Making hisappearance at the ballwhere he danced a coupleof setswith both of themand was prodigiously politeheactuallyhad the courage to ask Miss Osborne for a fewminutes'conversation at an early hour the next daywhenhe hadhesaidto communicate to her news of theverygreatest interest.

 

What wasit that made her start backand gaze uponhim for amomentand then on the ground at her feetand makeas if she would faint on his armhad he not byopportunelytreading on her toesbrought the young ladyback toself-control?  Why was she so violently agitatedatDobbin's request?  This can never be known.  But whenhe camethe next dayMaria was not in the drawing-roomwith hersisterand Miss Wirt went off for the purposeoffetching the latterand the Captain and Miss Osbornewere lefttogether.  They were both so silent that the ticktockof theSacrifice of Iphigenia clock on the mantelpiecebecamequite rudely audible.

 

"Whata nice party it was last night" Miss Osborne atlengthbeganencouragingly; "and--and how you'reimprovedin your dancingCaptain Dobbin.  Surely somebodyhas taughtyou" she addedwith amiable archness.

 

"Youshould see me dance a reel with Mrs. MajorO'Dowd ofours; and a jig--did you ever see a jig?  ButI thinkanybody could dance with youMiss Osbornewho danceso well."

 

"Isthe Major's lady young and beautifulCaptain?" thefairquestioner continued.  "Ahwhat a terrible thing itmust be tobe a soldier's wife!  I wonder they have anyspirits todanceand in these dreadful times of wartoo!O CaptainDobbinI tremble sometimes when I think ofourdearest Georgeand the dangers of the poor soldier.Are theremany married officers of the --thCaptainDobbin?"

 

"Uponmy wordshe's playing her hand rather tooopenly"Miss Wirt thought; but this observation is merely parentheticand wasnot heard through the crevice ofthe doorat which the governess uttered it.

 

"Oneof our young men is just married" Dobbin saidnow comingto the point.  "It was a very old attachmentand theyoung couple are as poor as church mice.""Ohow delightful! Ohow romantic!" Miss Osbornecriedasthe Captain said "old attachment" and "poor."Hersympathy encouraged him.

 

"Thefinest young fellow in the regiment" he continued."Nota braver or handsomer officer in the army; andsuch acharming wife!  How you would like her!  howyou willlike her when you know herMiss Osborne."  Theyoung ladythought the actual moment had arrivedandthatDobbin's nervousness which now came on and wasvisible inmany twitchings of his facein his manner ofbeatingthe ground with his great feetin the rapidbuttoningand unbuttoning of his frock-coat&c.--MissOsborneIsaythought that when he had given himself alittleairhe would unbosom himself entirelyandpreparedeagerly to listen.  And the clockin the altar onwhichIphigenia was situatedbeginningafter a preparatoryconvulsionto toll twelvethe mere tolling seemedas if itwould last until one--so prolonged was the knellto theanxious spinster.

 

"Butit's not about marriage that I came to speak--that isthat marriage--that is--noI mean--my dearMissOsborneit's about our dear friend George"Dobbinsaid.

 

"AboutGeorge?" she said in a tone so discomfitedthat Mariaand Miss Wirt laughed at the other side ofthe doorand even that abandoned wretch of a Dobbinfeltinclined to smile himself; for he was not altogetherunconsciousof the state of affairs:  George having oftenbanteredhim gracefully and said"Hang itWillwhydon't youtake old Jane?  She'll have you if you ask her.I'll betyou five to two she will."

 

"Yesabout Georgethen" he continued.  "There hasbeen adifference between him and Mr. Osborne.  And Iregard himso much--for you know we have been likebrothers--thatI hope and pray the quarrel may besettled. We must go abroadMiss Osborne.  We may beorderedoff at a day's warning.  Who knows what mayhappen inthe campaign?  Don't be agitateddear MissOsborne;and those two at least should part friends."

 

"Therehas been no quarrelCaptain Dobbinexcepta littleusual scene with Papa" the lady said.  "We areexpectingGeorge back daily.  What Papa wanted was onlyfor hisgood.  He has but to come backand I'm sure allwill bewell; and dear Rhodawho went away from herein sad sadangerI know will forgive him.  Woman forgivesbut tooreadilyCaptain."

 

"Suchan angel as YOU I am sure would" Mr. Dobbinsaidwithatrocious astuteness.  "And no man can pardonhimselffor giving a woman pain.  What would you feelif a manwere faithless to you?"

 

"Ishould perish--I should throw myself out of window--I shouldtake poison--I should pine and die.  Iknow Ishould" Miss criedwho had nevertheless gonethroughone or two affairs of the heart without any ideaofsuicide.

 

"Andthere are others" Dobbin continued"as trueand askind-hearted as yourself.  I'm not speaking aboutthe WestIndian heiressMiss Osbornebut about a poorgirl whomGeorge once lovedand who was bred fromherchildhood to think of nobody but him.  I've seen herin herpoverty uncomplainingbroken-heartedwithout afault. It is of Miss Sedley I speak.  Dear Miss Osbornecan yourgenerous heart quarrel with your brother forbeingfaithful to her?  Could his own conscience everforgivehim if he deserted her?  Be her friend--she alwayslovedyou--and--and I am come here charged by Georgeto tellyou that he holds his engagement to her as themostsacred duty he has; and to entreat youat leastto be onhis side."

 

When anystrong emotion took possession of Mr. Dobbinand afterthe first word or two of hesitationhe couldspeak withperfect fluencyand it was evident that hiseloquenceon this occasion made some impression uponthe ladywhom he addressed.

 

"Well"said she"this is--most surprising--most painful--mostextraordinary--what will Papa say?--thatGeorgeshould fling away such a superb establishment aswasoffered to him
but at any rate he has found a verybravechampion in youCaptain Dobbin.  It is of no usehowever"she continuedafter a pause; "I feel for poorMissSedleymost certainly--most sincerelyyou know.We neverthought the match a good onethough we werealwaysvery kind to her here--very.  But Papa will neverconsentIam sure.  And a well brought up young womanyouknow--with a well-regulated mindmust--Georgemust giveher updear Captain Dobbinindeed he must."

 

"Oughta man to give up the woman he lovedjustwhenmisfortune befell her?" Dobbin saidholding outhis hand. "Dear Miss Osborneis this the counsel I hearfrom you? My dear young lady! you must befriend her.He can'tgive her up.  He must not give her up.  Would amanthinkyougive YOU up if you were poor?"

 

Thisadroit question touched the heart of Miss JaneOsbornenot a little.  "I don't know whether we poor girlsought tobelieve what you men sayCaptain" she said."Thereis that in woman's tenderness which induces herto believetoo easily.  I'm afraid you are cruelcrueldeceivers"--andDobbin certainly thought he felt apressureof the hand which Miss Osborne had extendedto him.

 

He droppedit in some alarm.  "Deceivers!" said he."Nodear Miss Osborneall men are not; your brotheris not;George has loved Amelia Sedley ever since theywerechildren; no wealth would make him marry any buther. Ought he to forsake her?  Would you counsel him todo so?"

 

What couldMiss Jane say to such a questionand withher ownpeculiar views?  She could not answer itso sheparried itby saying"Wellif you are not a deceiveratleast youare very romantic"; and Captain William letthisobservation pass without challenge.

 

At lengthwhenby the help of farther polite speecheshe deemedthat Miss Osborne was sufficiently prepared toreceivethe whole newshe poured it into her ear."Georgecould not give up Amelia--George was marriedtoher"--and then he related the circumstances of themarriageas we know them already:  how the poor girlwould havedied had not her lover kept his faith:  howOld Sedleyhad refused all consent to the matchand alicencehad been got: and Jos Sedley had come fromCheltenhamto give away the bride: how they had gonetoBrighton in Jos's chariot-and-four to pass the honeymoon:and howGeorge counted on his dear kind sisters tobefriendhim with their fatheras women--so trueand tenderas they were--assuredly would do.  And soaskingpermission (readily granted) to see her againandrightlyconjecturing that the news he had brought wouldbe told inthe next five minutes to the other ladiesCaptainDobbin made his bow and took his leave.

 

He wasscarcely out of the housewhen Miss Mariaand MissWirt rushed in to Miss Osborneand thewholewonderful secret was imparted to them by thatlady. To do them justiceneither of the sisters was verymuchdispleased.  There is something about a runawaymatch withwhich few ladies can be seriously angryandAmeliarather rose in their estimationfrom the spiritwhich shehad displayed in consenting to the union.  Astheydebated the storyand prattled about itand wonderedwhat Papawould do and saycame a loud knockas of anavenging thunder-clapat the doorwhich madetheseconspirators start.  It must be Papathey thought.But it wasnot he.  It was only Mr. Frederick Bullockwho hadcome from the City according to appointmentto conductthe ladies to a flower-show.

 

Thisgentlemanas may be imaginedwas not keptlong inignorance of the secret.  But his facewhen heheard itshowed an amazement which was very differentto thatlook of sentimental wonder which the countenancesof thesisters wore.  Mr. Bullock was a man of the worldand ajunior partner of a wealthy firm.  He knew whatmoney wasand the value of it: and a delightful throbofexpectation lighted up his little eyesand caused himto smileon his Mariaas he thought that by this pieceof follyof Mr. George's she might be worth thirtythousandpounds more than he had ever hoped toget withher.

 

"Gad! Jane" said hesurveying even the elder sisterwith someinterest"Eels will be sorry he cried off.  Youmay be afifty thousand pounder yet."

 

Thesisters had never thought of the money questionup to thatmomentbut Fred Bullock bantered themwithgraceful gaiety about it during their forenoon'sexcursion;and they had risen not a little in their ownesteem bythe time whenthe morning amusement overthey droveback to dinner.  And do not let my respectedreaderexclaim against this selfishness as unnatural.  Itwas butthis present morningas he rode on the omnibusfromRichmond; while it changed horsesthis presentchroniclerbeing on the roofmarked three little childrenplaying ina puddle belowvery dirtyand friendlyandhappy. To these three presently came another little one."POLLY"says she"YOUR SISTER'S GOT A PENNY."  At whichthechildren got up from the puddle instantlyand ranoff to paytheir court to Peggy.  And as the omnibus droveoff I sawPeggy with the infantine procession at hertailmarching with great dignity towards the stall of aneighbouringlollipop-woman.

 

 

 

 

CHAPTERXXIVInWhich Mr. Osborne Takes Down the Family Bible

 

So havingprepared the sistersDobbin hastened awayto theCity to perform the rest and more difficult partof thetask which he had undertaken.  The idea of facingoldOsborne rendered him not a little nervousand morethan oncehe thought of leaving the young ladies tocommunicatethe secretwhichas he was awarethey couldnot longretain.  But he had promised to report to Georgeupon themanner in which the elder Osborne bore theintelligence;so going into the City to the paternalcounting-housein Thames Streethe despatched thencea note toMr. Osborne begging for a half-hour's conversationrelativeto the affairs of his son George.  Dobbin's messengerreturnedfrom Mr. Osborne's house of businesswith thecomplimentsof the latterwho would be very happy to see theCaptainimmediatelyand away accordingly Dobbin wenttoconfront him.

 

TheCaptainwith a half-guilty secret to confessandwith theprospect of a painful and stormy interviewbeforehimentered Mr. Osborne's offices with a mostdismalcountenance and abashed gaitandpassing throughthe outerroom where Mr. Chopper presidedwas greetedby thatfunctionary from his desk with a waggish airwhichfarther discomfited him.  Mr. Chopper winked andnodded andpointed his pen towards his patron's doorand said"You'll find the governor all right" with themostprovoking good humour.

 

Osbornerose tooand shook him heartily by the handand said"How domy dear boy?" with a cordiality thatmade poorGeorge's ambassador feel doubly guilty.  Hishand layas if dead in the old gentleman's grasp.  He feltthat heDobbinwas more or less the cause of all thathadhappened.  It was he had brought back George toAmelia: itwas he had applaudedencouragedtransactedalmost themarriage which he was come to reveal toGeorge'sfather:  and the latter was receiving him withsmiles ofwelcome; patting him on the shoulderand callinghim"Dobbinmy dear boy." The envoy had indeedgoodreason to hang his head.

 

Osbornefully believed that Dobbin had come toannouncehis son's surrender.  Mr. Chopper and hisprincipalwere talking over the matter between George andhisfatherat the very moment when Dobbin's messengerarrived. Both agreed that George was sending in hissubmission. Both had been expecting it for some days--and"Lord!Chopperwhat a marriage we'll have!" Mr.Osbornesaid to his clerksnapping his big fingersandjinglingall the guineas and shillings in his great pocketsas he eyedhis subordinate with a look of triumph.

 

Withsimilar operations conducted in both pocketsand aknowing jolly airOsborne from his chair regardedDobbinseated blank and silent opposite to him.  "Whata bumpkinhe is for a Captain in the army" old Osbornethought. "I wonder George hasn't taught him bettermanners."

 

At lastDobbin summoned courage to begin.  "Sir" saidhe"I'vebrought you some very grave news.  I have beenat theHorse Guards this morningand there's no doubtthat ourregiment will be ordered abroadand on itsway toBelgium before the week is over.  And you knowsirthatwe shan't be home again before a tussle whichmay befatal to many of us." Osborne looked grave.  "My s--the regiment willdo itsdutysirI daresay" he said.

 

"TheFrench are very strongsir" Dobbin went on."TheRussians and Austrians will be a long time beforethey canbring their troops down.  We shall have the firstof thefightsir; and depend on it Boney will take carethat itshall be a hard one."

 

"Whatare you driving atDobbin?" his interlocutorsaiduneasy and with a scowl.  "I suppose no Briton'safraid ofany d-- Frenchmanhey?"

 

"Ionly meanthat before we goand considering thegreat andcertain risk that hangs over every one of us--if thereare any differences between you and George--itwould beas wellsirthat--that you should shake hands:wouldn'tit?  Should anything happen to himI think youwouldnever forgive yourself if you hadn't parted incharity."

 

As he saidthispoor William Dobbin blushed crimsonand feltand owned that he himself was a traitor.  Butfor himperhapsthis severance need never have takenplace. Why had not George's marriage been delayed?What callwas there to press it on so eagerly?  He felt thatGeorgewould have parted from Amelia at any rate withouta mortalpang.  AmeliatooMIGHT have recovered theshock oflosing him.  It was his counsel had broughtabout thismarriageand all that was to ensue from it.And whywas it?  Because he loved her so much that hecould notbear to see her unhappy:  or because his ownsufferingsof suspense were so unendurable that he wasglad tocrush them at once--as we hasten a funeralafter adeathorwhen a separation from those we loveisimminentcannot rest until the parting be over.

 

"Youare a good fellowWilliam" said Mr. Osborne ina softenedvoice; "and me and George shouldn't part inangerthat is true.  Look here.  I've done for him asmuch asany father ever did.  He's had three times asmuch moneyfrom meas I warrant your father evergave you. But I don't brag about that.  How I've toiledfor himand worked and employed my talents and energyI won'tsay.  Ask Chopper.  Ask himself.  Ask the City ofLondon. WellI propose to him such a marriage as anynoblemanin the land might be proud of--the only thingin life Iever asked him--and he refuses me.  Am I wrong?Is thequarrel of MY making?  What do I seek but hisgoodforwhich I've been toiling like a convict ever sincehe wasborn?  Nobody can say there's anything selfish inme. Let him come back.  I sayhere's my hand.  I sayforget andforgive.  As for marrying nowit's out of thequestion. Let him and Miss S. make it upand make out themarriageafterwardswhen he comes back a Colonel;for heshall be a Colonelby G-- he shallif moneycan doit.  I'm glad you've brought him round.  I know it'syouDobbin.  You've took him out of many a scrapebefore. Let him come.  I shan't be hard.  Come alonganddine inRussell Square to-day: both of you.  The old shopthe oldhour.  You'll find a neck of venisonand noquestionsasked."

 

Thispraise and confidence smote Dobbin's heart verykeenly. Every moment the colloquy continued in thistonehefelt more and more guilty.  "Sir" said he"Ifear youdeceive yourself.  I am sure you do.  George ismuch toohigh-minded a man ever to marry for money.  Athreat onyour part that you would disinherit him incase ofdisobedience would only be followed by resistanceon his."

 

"Whyhang itmanyou don't call offering him eightor tenthousand a year threatening him?'' Mr. Osbornesaidwithstill provoking good humour.  "'Gadif MissS. willhave meI'm her man.  I ain't particular about ashade orso of tawny." And the old gentleman gave hisknowinggrin and coarse laugh.

 

"Youforgetsirprevious engagements into whichCaptainOsborne had entered" the ambassador saidgravely.

 

"Whatengagements? What the devil do you mean?You don'tmean" Mr. Osborne continuedgatheringwrath andastonishment as the thought now first cameupon him;"you don't mean that he's such a d-- foolas to bestill hankering after that swindling old bankrupt'sdaughter? You've not come here for to make mesupposethat he wants to marry HER?  Marry HERthat ISa goodone.  My son and heir marry a beggar's girl out ofa gutter. D-- himif he doeslet him buy a broomand sweepa crossing.  She was always dangling and oglingafter himI recollect now; and I've no doubt she wasput on byher old sharper of a father."

 

"Mr.Sedley was your very good friendsir" Dobbininterposedalmost pleased at finding himself growingangry. "Time was you called him better names thanrogue andswindler.  The match was of your making.George hadno right to play fast and loose--"

 

"Fastand loose!" howled out old Osborne.  "Fast andloose! Whyhang methose are the very words mygentlemanused himself when he gave himself airslastThursdaywas a fortnightand talked about the British armyto hisfather who made him.  Whatit's you who havebeen asetting of him up--is it? and my service to youCAPTAIN. It's you who want to introduce beggars into myfamily. Thank you for nothingCaptain.  Marry HER indeed--hehe!why should he?  I warrant you she'd go to himfastenough without."

 

"Sir"said Dobbinstarting up in undisguised anger;"noman shall abuse that lady in my hearingand youleast ofall."

 

"Oyou're a-going to call me outare you?  Stoplet mering thebell for pistols for two.  Mr. George sent youhere toinsult his fatherdid he?" Osborne saidpullingat thebell-cord.

 

"Mr.Osborne" said Dobbinwith a faltering voice"it'syou who are insulting the best creature in the world.You hadbest spare hersirfor she's your son's wife."

 

And withthisfeeling that he could say no moreDobbinwent awayOsborne sinking back in his chairandlookingwildly after him.  A clerk came inobedient to thebell; andthe Captain was scarcely out of the court whereMr.Osborne's offices werewhen Mr. Chopper the chiefclerk camerushing hatless after him.

 

"ForGod's sakewhat is it?" Mr. Chopper saidcatchingtheCaptain by the skirt.  "The governor's in a fit.What hasMr. George been doing?"

 

"Hemarried Miss Sedley five days ago" Dobbin replied."Iwas his groomsmanMr. Chopperand you muststand hisfriend."

 

The oldclerk shook his head.  "If that's your newsCaptainit's bad.  The governor will never forgive him."

 

Dobbinbegged Chopper to report progress to him atthe hotelwhere he was stoppingand walked off moodilywestwardsgreatly perturbed as to the past and thefuture.

 

When theRussell Square family came to dinner thateveningthey found the father of the house seated in hisusualplacebut with that air of gloom on his facewhichwheneverit appeared therekept the whole circle silent.Theladiesand Mr. Bullock who dined with themfeltthat thenews had been communicated to Mr. Osborne.His darklooks affected Mr. Bullock so far as to renderhim stilland quiet: but he was unusually bland andattentiveto Miss Mariaby whom he satand to her sisterpresidingat the head of the table.

 

Miss Wirtby consequencewas alone on her side ofthe boarda gap being left between her and Miss JaneOsborne. Now this was George's place when he dined athome; andhis coveras we saidwas laid for him inexpectationof that truant's return.  Nothing occurredduringdinner-time except smiling Mr. Frederick's flaggingconfidentialwhispersand the clinking of plate and chinatointerrupt the silence of the repast.  The servants wentaboutstealthily doing their duty.  Mutes at funerals couldnot lookmore glum than the domestics of Mr. OsborneThe neckof venison of which he had invited Dobbin topartakewas carved by him in perfect silence; but hisown sharewent away almost untastedthough he drankmuchandthe butler assiduously filled his glass.

 

At lastjust at the end of the dinnerhis eyeswhichhad beenstaring at everybody in turnfixed themselvesfor awhile upon the plate laid for George.  He pointedto itpresently with his left hand.  His daughters looked athim anddid not comprehendor choose to comprehendthesignal; nor did the servants at first understand it.

 

"Takethat plate away" at last he saidgetting up withanoath--and with this pushing his chair backhe walkedinto hisown room.

 

Behind Mr.Osborne's dining-room was the usualapartmentwhich went in his house by the name of thestudy; andwas sacred to the master of the house.  HitherMr.Osborne would retire of a Sunday forenoon whennot mindedto go to church; and here pass the morningin hiscrimson leather chairreading the paper.  A coupleof glazedbook-cases were herecontaining standardworks instout gilt bindings.  The "Annual Register" the"Gentleman'sMagazine" "Blair's Sermons" and "HumeandSmollett." From year's end to year's end he nevertook oneof these volumes from the shelf; but there wasno memberof the family that would dare for his life totouch oneof the booksexcept upon those rare Sundayeveningswhen there was no dinner-partyand when thegreatscarlet Bible and Prayer-book were taken out fromthe cornerwhere they stood beside his copy of the Peerageand theservants being rung up to the dining parlourOsborneread the evening service to his family in aloudgrating pompous voice.  No member of the householdchildordomesticever entered that room withouta certainterror.  Here he checked the housekeeper's accountsandoverhauled the butler's cellar-book.  Hence hecouldcommandacross the clean gravel court-yardthebackentrance of the stables with which one of his bellscommunicatedand into this yard the coachman issuedfrom hispremises as into a dockand Osborne swore athim fromthe study window.  Four times a year MissWirtentered this apartment to get her salary; and hisdaughtersto receive their quarterly allowance.  Georgeas a boyhad been horsewhipped in this room manytimes; hismother sitting sick on the stair listening to thecuts ofthe whip.  The boy was scarcely ever known tocry underthe punishment; the poor woman used tofondle andkiss him secretlyand give him money tosoothe himwhen he came out.

 

There wasa picture of the family over the mantelpieceremovedthither from the front room after Mrs. Osborne'sdeath--Georgewas on a ponythe elder sisterholdinghim up a bunch of flowers; the younger led byhermother's hand; all with red cheeks and large redmouthssimpering on each other in the approved family-portraitmanner.  The mother lay underground nowlongsinceforgotten--the sisters and brother had a hundreddifferentinterests of their ownandfamiliar stillwereutterlyestranged from each other.  Some few score ofyearsafterwardswhen all the parties represented aregrown oldwhat bitter satire there is in those flauntingchildishfamily-portraitswith their farce of sentiment andsmilingliesand innocence so self-conscious and self-satisfied. Osborne's own state portraitwith that of hisgreatsilver inkstand and arm-chairhad taken the placeof honourin the dining-roomvacated by the family-piece.

 

To thisstudy old Osborne retired thengreatly to therelief ofthe small party whom he left.  When theservantshad withdrawnthey began to talk for a whilevolublybut very low; then they went upstairs quietlyMr.Bullock accompanying them stealthily on his creakingshoes. He had no heart to sit alone drinking wineand soclose to the terrible old gentleman in the studyhard athand.

 

An hour atleast after darkthe butlernot havingreceivedany summonsventured to tap at his door andtake himin wax candles and tea.  The master of thehouse satein his chairpretending to read the paperand whenthe servantplacing the lights and refreshmenton thetable by himretiredMr. Osborne got up andlocked thedoor after him.  This time there was no mistakingthematter; all the household knew that some greatcatastrophewas going to happen which was likely direlyto affectMaster George.

 

In thelarge shining mahogany escritoire Mr. Osbornehad adrawer especially devoted to his son's affairs andpapers. Here he kept all the documents relating to himever sincehe had been a boy: here were his prize copy-books anddrawing-booksall bearing George's handand thatof the master:  here were his first letters in largeround-handsending his love to papa and mammaandconveyinghis petitions for a cake.  His dear godpapaSedley wasmore than once mentioned in them.  Cursesquiveredon old Osborne's livid lipsand horrid hatredanddisappointment writhed in his heartas lookingthroughsome of these papers he came on that name.They wereall marked and docketedand tied with red tape.Itwas--From Georgyrequesting 5s.April 2318--;answeredApril 25"--or "Georgy about a ponyOctober13"--andso forth. In another packet were "Dr. S.'s accounts"--"G.'stailor's bills and outfitsdrafts on me byG.Osbornejun." &c.--his letters from the West Indies--hisagent's lettersand the newspapers containing hiscommissions:here was a whip he had when a boyand ina paper alocket containing his hairwhich his motherused towear.

 

Turningone over after anotherand musing over thesememorialsthe unhappy man passed many hours.  Hisdearestvanitiesambitious hopeshad all been here.  Whatpride hehad in his boy!  He was the handsomest childeverseen.  Everybody said he was like a nobleman'sson. A royal princess had remarked himand kissedhimandasked his name in Kew Gardens.  What Cityman couldshow such another?  Could a prince have beenbettercared for?  Anything that money could buy hadbeen hisson's.  He used to go down on speech-days withfourhorses and new liveriesand scatter new shillingsamong theboys at the school where George was:  whenhe wentwith George to the depot of his regimentbeforethe boyembarked for Canadahe gave the officerssuch adinner as the Duke of York might have sat downto. Had he ever refused a bill when George drew one?There theywere--paid without a word.  Many a generalin thearmy couldn't ride the horses he had!  He had thechildbefore his eyeson a hundred different days whenheremembered George after dinnerwhen he usedto come inas bold as a lord and drink off his glass byhisfather's sideat the head of the table--on the ponyatBrightonwhen he cleared the hedge and kept up withthehuntsman--on the day when he was presented tothe PrinceRegent at the leveewhen all Saint James'scouldn'tproduce a finer young fellow.  And thisthis wasthe end ofall!--to marry a bankrupt and fly in the faceof dutyand fortune!  What humiliation and fury:  whatpangs ofsickening ragebalked ambition and love; whatwounds ofoutraged vanitytenderness evenhad thisoldworldling now to suffer under!

 

Havingexamined these papersand pondered over thisone andthe otherin that bitterest of all helpless woewith whichmiserable men think of happy past times--George'sfather took the whole of the documents out ofthe drawerin which he had kept them so longand lockedthem intoa writing-boxwhich he tiedand sealed withhis seal. Then he opened the book-caseand took downthe greatred Bible we have spoken of a pompousbookseldom looked atand shining all over with gold.There wasa frontispiece to the volumerepresentingAbrahamsacrificing Isaac.  Hereaccording to customOsbornehad recorded on the fly-leafand in his largeclerk-likehandthe dates of his marriage and his wife'sdeathandthe births and Christian names of his children.Jane camefirstthen George Sedley Osbornethen MariaFrancesand the days of the christening of each.  Takinga penhecarefully obliterated George's names fromthe page;and when the leaf was quite dryrestored thevolume tothe place from which he had moved it.  Thenhe took adocument out of another drawerwhere hisownprivate papers were kept; and having read itcrumpledit up andlighted it at one of the candlesand saw itburnentirely away in the grate.  It was his will; whichbeingburnedhe sate down and wrote off a letterandrang forhis servantwhom he charged to deliver it in themorning. It was morning already: as he went up to bedthe wholehouse was alight with the sunshine; and thebirds weresinging among the fresh green leaves inRussellSquare.

 

Anxious tokeep all Mr. Osborne's family and dependantsin goodhumourand to make as many friends aspossiblefor George in his hour of adversityWilliam Dobbinwho knewthe effect which good dinners and goodwines haveupon the soul of manwrote off immediatelyon hisreturn to his inn the most hospitable of invitationsto ThomasChopperEsquirebegging that gentleman todine withhim at the Slaughters' next day.  The notereachedMr. Chopper before he left the Cityand theinstantreply wasthat "Mr. Chopper presents hisrespectfulcomplimentsand will have the honour andpleasureof waiting on Captain D."  The invitation and theroughdraft of the answer were shown to Mrs. Chopperand herdaughters on his return to Somers' Town thateveningand they talked about military gents and WestEnd menwith great exultation as the family sate andpartook oftea.  When the girls had gone to restMr. andMrs. C.discoursed upon the strange events which wereoccurringin the governor's family.  Never had the clerkseen hisprincipal so moved.  When he went in to Mr.Osborneafter Captain Dobbin's departureMr. Chopperfound hischief black in the faceand all but in a fit:somedreadful quarrelhe was certainhad occurredbetweenMr. O. and the young Captain.  Chopper had beeninstructedto make out an account of all sums paid toCaptainOsborne within the last three years.  "And apreciouslot of money he has had too" the chief clerk saidandrespected his old and young master the morefortheliberal way in which the guineas had been flung about.Thedispute was something about Miss Sedley.  Mrs.Choppervowed and declared she pitied that poor younglady tolose such a handsome young fellow as the Capting.As thedaughter of an unlucky speculatorwho had paid averyshabby dividendMr. Chopper had no great regardfor MissSedley.  He respected the house of Osbornebefore allothers in the City of London: and his hope andwish wasthat Captain George should marry a nobleman'sdaughter. The clerk slept a great deal sounder thanhisprincipal that night; andcuddling his children afterbreakfast(of which he partook with a very heartyappetitethough his modest cup of life was onlysweetenedwith brown sugar)he set off in his best Sundaysuit andfrilled shirt for businesspromising his admiringwife notto punish Captain D.'s port too severely thatevening.

 

Mr.Osborne's countenancewhen he arrived in theCity athis usual timestruck those dependants who wereaccustomedfor good reasonsto watch its expressionaspeculiarly ghastly and worn.  At twelve o'clock Mr.Higgs (ofthe firm of Higgs & BlatherwicksolicitorsBedfordRow) called by appointmentand was usheredinto thegovernor's private roomand closeted there formore thanan hour.  At about one Mr. Chopperreceived anote brought by Captain Dobbin's manandcontainingan inclosure for Mr. Osbornewhich the clerkwent inand delivered.  A short time afterwards Mr.Chopperand Mr. Birchthe next clerkwere summonedandrequestedto witness a paper.  "I've been making a newwill"Mr. Osborne saidto which these gentlemenappendedtheir names accordingly.  No conversationpassed. Mr. Higgs looked exceedingly grave as he cameinto theouter roomsand very hard in Mr. Chopper'sface; butthere were not any explanations.  It wasremarkedthat Mr. Osborne was particularly quiet andgentle alldayto the surprise of those who had augured illfrom hisdarkling demeanour.  He called no man namesthat dayand was not heard to swear once.  He left businessearly; andbefore going awaysummoned his chiefclerk oncemoreand having given him general instructionsasked himafter some seeming hesitation and reluctanceto speakif he knew whether Captain Dobbin was in town?

 

Choppersaid he believed he was.  Indeed both of themknew thefact perfectly.

 

Osbornetook a letter directed to that officerandgiving itto the clerkrequested the latter to deliver itintoDobbin's own hands immediately.

 

"AndnowChopper" says hetaking his hatand witha strangelook"my mind will be easy."  Exactly as theclockstruck two (there was no doubt an appointmentbetweenthe pair) Mr. Frederick Bullock calledand heand Mr.Osborne walked away together.

 

 

TheColonel of the --th regimentin which MessieursDobbin andOsborne had companieswas an old Generalwho hadmade his first campaign under Wolfe at Quebecand waslong since quite too old and feeble for command;but hetook some interest in the regiment of whichhe was thenominal headand made certain of his youngofficerswelcome at his tablea kind of hospitalitywhich Ibelieve is not now common amongst hisbrethren. Captain Dobbin was an especial favouriteof thisold General.  Dobbin was versed in the literatureof hisprofessionand could talk about the great Frederickand theEmpress Queenand their warsalmost as wellas theGeneral himselfwho was indifferent to the triumphsof thepresent dayand whose heart was with thetacticiansof fifty years back.  This officer sent a summonsto Dobbinto come and breakfast with himon themorningwhen Mr. Osborne altered his will and Mr. Chopperput on hisbest shirt frilland then informed his youngfavouritea couple of days in advanceof that which theywere allexpecting--a marching order to go to Belgium.The orderfor the regiment to hold itself in readinesswouldleave the Horse Guards in a day or two; and astransportswere in plentythey would get their routebefore theweek was over.  Recruits had come in duringthe stayof the regiment at Chatham; and the old Generalhoped thatthe regiment which had helped to beatMontcalmin Canadaand to rout Mr. Washington onLongIslandwould prove itself worthy of its historicalreputationon the oft-trodden battle-grounds of the LowCountries. "And somy good friendif you have anyaffairelasaid the old Generaltaking a pinch of snuffwith histrembling white old handand then pointing tothe spotof his robe de chambre under which his heartwas stillfeebly beating"if you have any Phillis to consoleor to bidfarewell to papa and mammaor any willto makeIrecommend you to set about your businesswithoutdelay." With which the General gave his youngfriend afinger to shakeand a good-natured nod of hispowderedand pigtailed head; and the door being closeduponDobbinsate down to pen a poulet (he wasexceedinglyvain of his French) to MademoiselleAmenaideof His Majesty's Theatre.

 

This newsmade Dobbin graveand he thought of ourfriends atBrightonand then he was ashamed of himselfthatAmelia was always the first thing in his thoughts(alwaysbefore anybody--before father and mothersistersand duty--always at waking and sleeping indeedand allday long); and returning to his hotelhe sent off abrief noteto Mr. Osborne acquainting him with theinformationwhich he had receivedand which might tendfartherhe hopedto bring about a reconciliation withGeorge.

 

This notedespatched by the same messenger who hadcarriedthe invitation to Chopper on the previous dayalarmedthe worthy clerk not a little.  It was inclosed tohimandas he opened the letter he trembled lest thedinnershould be put off on which he was calculating.  Hismind wasinexpressibly relieved when he found that theenvelopewas only a reminder for himself.  ("I shallexpect youat half-past five" Captain Dobbin wrote.) He wasvery muchinterested about his employer's family; butquevoulez-vous? a grand dinner was of more concern tohim thanthe affairs of any other mortal.

 

Dobbin wasquite justified in repeating the General'sinformationto any officers of the regiment whom heshould seein the course of his peregrinations; accordinglyheimparted it to Ensign Stubblewhom he met at theagent'sand who--such was his military ardour--wentoffinstantly to purchase a new sword at theaccoutrement-maker's. Here this young fellowwhothoughonly seventeen years of ageand about sixty-fiveincheshighwith a constitution naturally rickety andmuchimpaired by premature brandy and waterhad anundoubtedcourage and a lion's heartpoisedtriedbentandbalanced a weapon such as he thought would do executionamongstFrenchmen.  Shouting "Haha!" and stamping his littlefeet withtremendous energyhe delivered the point twiceor thriceat Captain Dobbinwho parried the thrustlaughinglywith his bamboo walking-stick.

 

Mr.Stubbleas may be supposed from his size andslendernesswas of the Light Bobs.  Ensign Spooneyonthecontrarywas a tall youthand belonged to (CaptainDobbin's)the Grenadier Companyand he tried on a newbearskincapunder which he looked savage beyond hisyears. Then these two lads went off to the Slaughters'andhavingordered a famous dinnersate down and wrote offletters tothe kind anxious parents at home--letters full oflove andheartinessand pluck and bad spelling.  Ah! therewere manyanxious hearts beating through England atthat time;and mothers' prayers and tears flowing in manyhomesteads.

 

Seeingyoung Stubble engaged in composition at one ofthecoffee-room tables at the Slaughters'and the tearstricklingdown his nose on to the paper (for the youngsterwasthinking of his mammaand that he might never seeheragain)Dobbinwho was going to write off a letter toGeorgeOsbornerelentedand locked up his desk.  "Whyshould I?"said he.  "Let her have this night happy.  I'll goand see myparents early in the morningand go down toBrightonmyself to-morrow."

 

So he wentup and laid his big hand on young Stubble'sshoulderand backed up that young championand toldhim if hewould leave off brandy and water he wouldbe a goodsoldieras he always was a gentlemanly good-heartedfellow.  Young Stubble's eyes brightened up at thisfor Dobbinwas greatly respected in the regimentas thebestofficer and the cleverest man in it.

 

"ThankyouDobbin" he saidrubbing his eyes withhisknuckles"I was just--just telling her I would.  AndO Sirshe's so dam kind to me." The water pumps wereat workagainand I am not sure that the soft-heartedCaptain'seyes did not also twinkle.

 

The twoensignsthe Captainand Mr. Chopperdinedtogetherin the same box.  Chopper brought the letter fromMr.Osbornein which the latter briefly presented hiscomplimentsto Captain Dobbinand requested him toforwardthe inclosed to Captain George Osborne.  Chopperknewnothing further; he described Mr. Osborne's appearanceit istrueand his interview with his lawyerwonderedhow thegovernor had sworn at nobodyand--especiallyas thewine circled round--abounded in speculationsandconjectures.  But these grew more vague witheveryglassand at length became perfectly unintelligible.At a latehour Captain Dobbin put his guest into a hackneycoachina hiccupping stateand swearing that he wouldbe thekick--the kick--Captain's friend for ever and ever.

 

WhenCaptain Dobbin took leave of Miss Osborne wehave saidthat he asked leave to come and pay heranothervisitand the spinster expected him for some hoursthe nextdaywhenperhapshad he comeand had heasked herthat question which she was prepared to answershe wouldhave declared herself as her brother'sfriendand a reconciliation might have been effectedbetweenGeorge and his angry father.  But though she waitedat homethe Captain never came.  He had his own affairsto pursue;his own parents to visit and console; and at anearly hourof the day to take his place on the Lightningcoachandgo down to his friends at Brighton.  In thecourse ofthe day Miss Osborne heard her father giveordersthat that meddling scoundrelCaptain Dobbinshouldnever be admitted within his doors againand anyhopes inwhich she may have indulged privately were thusabruptlybrought to an end.  Mr. Frederick Bullock cameand wasparticularly affectionate to Mariaand attentiveto thebroken-spirited old gentleman.  For though he saidhis mindwould be easythe means which he had taken tosecurequiet did not seem to have succeeded as yetandthe eventsof the past two days had visibly shattered him.

 

 

 

 

CHAPTERXXVInWhich All the Principal Personages Think FittoLeave Brighton

 

Conductedto the ladiesat the Ship InnDobbin assumeda jovialand rattling mannerwhich proved that thisyoungofficer was becoming a more consummate hypocriteevery dayof his life.  He was trying to hide his ownprivatefeelingsfirst upon seeing Mrs. George Osbornein her newconditionand secondly to mask theapprehensionshe entertained as to the effect whichthe dismalnews brought down by him would certainlyhave uponher.

 

"Itis my opinionGeorge" he said"that the FrenchEmperorwill be upon ushorse and footbefore threeweeks areoverand will give the Duke such a dance asshall makethe Peninsula appear mere child's play.  Butyou neednot say that to Mrs. Osborneyou know.  Theremayn't beany fighting on our side after alland ourbusinessin Belgium may turn out to be a mere militaryoccupation. Many persons think so; and Brussels is fullof finepeople and ladies of fashion." So it was agreed torepresentthe duty of the British army in Belgium in thisharmlesslight to Amelia.

 

This plotbeing arrangedthe hypocritical Dobbin salutedMrs.George Osborne quite gailytried to pay herone or twocompliments relative to her new position as abride(which complimentsit must be confessedwereexceedinglyclumsy and hung fire woefully)and then fellto talkingabout Brightonand the sea-airand the gaietiesof theplaceand the beauties of the road and the meritsof theLightning coach and horses--all in a mannerquiteincomprehensible to Ameliaand very amusing toRebeccawho was watching the Captainas indeed shewatchedevery one near whom she came.

 

LittleAmeliait must be ownedhad rather a meanopinion ofher husband's friendCaptain Dobbin.  He lisped--he wasvery plain and homely-looking: and exceedinglyawkwardand ungainly.  She liked him for his attachmentto herhusband (to be sure there was very little merit inthat)andshe thought George was most generous andkind inextending his friendship to his brother officer.George hadmimicked Dobbin's lisp and queer mannersmany timesto herthough to do him justicehe alwaysspoke mosthighly of his friend's good qualities.  In herlittle dayof triumphand not knowing him intimately asyetshemade light of honest William--and he knew heropinionsof him quite welland acquiesced in them veryhumbly. A time came when she knew him betterandchangedher notions regarding him; but that was distant asyet.

 

As forRebeccaCaptain Dobbin had not been two hoursin theladies' company before she understood his secretperfectly. She did not like himand feared him privately;nor was hevery much prepossessed in her favour.  Hewas sohonestthat her arts and cajoleries did not affecthimandhe shrank from her with instinctive repulsion.Andasshe was by no means so far superior to her sex asto beabove jealousyshe disliked him the more for hisadorationof Amelia.  Neverthelessshe was very respectfulandcordial in her manner towards him.  A friend totheOsbornes! a friend to her dearest benefactors!  Shevowed sheshould always love him sincerely: she rememberedhim quitewell on the Vauxhall nightas she toldAmeliaarchlyand she made a little fun of him when thetwo ladieswent to dress for dinner.  Rawdon Crawley paidscarcelyany attention to Dobbinlooking upon him as agood-naturednincompoop and under-bred City man.  Jospatronisedhim with much dignity.

 

WhenGeorge and Dobbin were alone in the latter'sroomtowhich George had followed himDobbin tookfrom hisdesk the letter which he had been charged byMr.Osborne to deliver to his son.  "It's not in my father'shandwriting"said Georgelooking rather alarmed; norwas it:the letter was from Mr. Osborne's lawyerand tothefollowing effect:

 

BedfordRowMay 71815.   SIR

 

I amcommissioned by Mr. Osborne to inform youthat heabides by the determination which he beforeexpressedto youand that in consequence of the marriagewhich youhave been pleased to contracthe ceases toconsideryou henceforth as a member of his family.Thisdetermination is final and irrevocable.

 

Althoughthe monies expended upon you in yourminorityand the bills which you have drawn uponhim sounsparingly of late yearsfar exceed in amountthe sum towhich you are entitled in your own right(being thethird part of the fortune of your motherthe lateMrs. Osborne and which reverted to you at herdeceaseand to Miss Jane Osborne and Miss MariaFrancesOsborne); yet I am instructed by Mr. Osborneto saythat he waives all claim upon your estateandthat thesum of 20001.4 per cent. annuitiesat thevalue ofthe day (being your one-third share of the sumof60001.)shall be paid over to yourself or your agentsupon yourreceipt for the sameby

 

Yourobedient Servt.

 

S. HIGGS.

 

P.S.--Mr.Osborne desires me to sayonce for allthat hedeclines to receive any messageslettersorcommunicationsfrom you on this or any other subject.

 

"Apretty way you have managed the affair" saidGeorgelooking savagely at William Dobbin.  "Look thereDobbin"and he flung over to the latter his parent's letter."Abeggarby Joveand all in consequence of my d--dsentimentality. Why couldn't we have waited?  A ball mighthave donefor me in the course of the warand may stilland howwill Emmy be bettered by being left a beggar'swidow? It was all your doing.  You were never easy untilyou hadgot me married and ruined.  What the deuce amI to dowith two thousand pounds?  Such a sum won'tlast twoyears.  I've lost a hundred and forty to Crawley atcards andbilliards since I've been down here.  A prettymanager ofa man's matters YOU areforsooth."

 

"There'sno denying that the position is a hard one"Dobbinrepliedafter reading over the letter with a blankcountenance;"and as you sayit is partly of my making.There aresome men who wouldn't mind changing withyou"he addedwith a bitter smile.  "How many captainsin theregiment have two thousand pounds to the forethinkyou?  You must live on your pay till your fatherrelentsand if you dieyou leave your wife a hundred ayear."

 

"Doyou suppose a man of my habits call live on hispay and ahundred a year?" George cried out in greatanger. "You must be a fool to talk soDobbin.  How thedeuce am Ito keep up my position in the world uponsuch apitiful pittance?  I can't change my habits.  I musthave mycomforts.  I wasn't brought up on porridgelikeMacWhirteror on potatoeslike old O'Dowd.  Do youexpect mywife to take in soldiers' washingor ride aftertheregiment in a baggage waggon?"

 

"Wellwell" said Dobbinstill good-naturedly"we'llget her abetter conveyance.  But try and remember thatyou areonly a dethroned prince nowGeorgemy boy;and bequiet whilst the tempest lasts.  It won't be forlong. Let your name be mentioned in the GazetteandI'llengage the old father relents towards you:"

 

"Mentionedin the Gazette!" George answered.  "And inwhat partof it?  Among the killed and wounded returnsand at thetop of the listvery likely."

 

"Psha! It will be time enough to cry out when we arehurt"Dobbin said.  "And if anything happensyou knowGeorgeIhave got a littleand I am not a marryingmanand Ishall not forget my godson in my will" headdedwith a smile.  Whereupon the dispute ended--asmanyscores of  such conversations between Osborneand hisfriend had concluded previously--by the formerdeclaringthere was no possibility of being angry withDobbinlongand forgiving him very generously afterabusinghim without cause.

 

"IsayBecky" cried Rawdon Crawley out of hisdressing-roomto his ladywho was attiring herself fordinner inher own chamber.

 

"What?"said Becky's shrill voice.  She was lookingover hershoulder in the glass.  She had put on the neatestandfreshest white frock imaginableand with bareshouldersand a little necklaceand a light blue sashshelooked theimage of youthful innocence and girlishhappiness.

 

"Isaywhat'll Mrs. O. dowhen 0. goes out with theregiment?"Crawley said coming into the roomperforminga duet onhis head with two huge hair-brushesandlookingout from under his hair with admiration on hisprettylittle wife.

 

"Isuppose she'll cry her eyes out" Becky answered."Shehas been whimpering half a dozen timesat theverynotion of italready to me."

 

"YOUdon't careI suppose?" Rawdon saidhalf angryat hiswife's want of feeling.

 

"Youwretch! don't you know that I intend to go withyou"Becky replied.  "Besidesyou're different.  You goas GeneralTufto's aide-de-camp.  We don't belong to theline"Mrs. Crawley saidthrowing up her head with anair thatso enchanted her husband that he stooped downand kissedit.

 

"Rawdondear--don't you think--you'd better get that--moneyfrom Cupidbefore he goes?" Becky continuedfixing ona killing bow.  She called George OsborneCupid. She had flattered him about his good looks ascore oftimes already.  She watched over him kindly atecarte ofa night when he would drop in to Rawdon'squartersfor a half-hour before bed-time.

 

She hadoften called him a horrid dissipated wretchandthreatened to tell Emmy of his wicked ways andnaughtyextravagant habits.  She brought his cigar andlighted itfor him; she knew the effect of that manoeuvrehavingpractised it in former days upon Rawdon Crawley.He thoughther gaybriskarchdistingueedelightful.In theirlittle drives and dinnersBeckyof coursequiteoutshone poor Emmywho remained very muteand timidwhile Mrs. Crawley and her husband rattledawaytogetherand Captain Crawley (and Jos after hejoined theyoung married people) gobbled in silence.

 

Emmy'smind somehow misgave her about her friend.Rebecca'switspiritsand accomplishments troubled herwith arueful disquiet.  They were only a week marriedand herewas George already suffering ennuiand eagerforothers' society!  She trembled for the future.  Howshall I bea companion for himshe thought--so cleverand sobrilliantand I such a humble foolish creature?How nobleit was of him to marry me--to give up everythingand stoopdown to me!  I ought to have refusedhimonlyI had not the heart.  I ought to have stopped athome andtaken care of poor Papa.  And her neglect ofherparents (and indeed there was some foundation forthischarge which the poor child's uneasy consciencebroughtagainst her) was now remembered for the firsttimeandcaused her to blush with humiliation.  Oh!thoughtsheI have been very wicked and selfish--selfishinforgetting them in their sorrows--selfish in forcingGeorge tomarry me.  I know I'm not worthy of him--Iknow hewould have been happy without me--and yet--I triedItried to give him up.

 

It is hardwhenbefore seven days of marriage areoversuchthoughts and confessions as these forcethemselveson a little bride's mind.  But so it wasand thenightbefore Dobbin came to join these young people--on a finebrilliant moonlight night of May--so warmand balmythat the windows were flung open to the balconyfrom whichGeorge and Mrs. Crawley were gazing uponthe calmocean spread shining before themwhileRawdon and Jos were engaged at backgammonwithin--Ameliacouched in a great chair quite neglectedandwatchingboth these partiesfelt a despair and remorsesuch aswere bitter companions for that tender lonelysoul. Scarce a week was pastand it was come to this!Thefuturehad she regarded itoffered a dismal prospect;but Emmywas too shyso to speakto look to thatand embarkalone on that wide seaand unfit to navigateit withouta guide and protector.  I know Miss Smith hasa meanopinion of her.  But how manymy dear Madamareendowed with your prodigious strength of mind?

 

"Gadwhat a fine nightand how bright the moon is!"Georgesaidwith a puff of his cigarwhich went soaringupskywards.

 

"Howdelicious they smell in the open air!  I adorethem. Who'd think the moon was two hundred and thirty-sixthousand eight hundred and forty-seven miles off?"Beckyaddedgazing at that orb with a smile.  "Isn't itclever ofme to remember that?  Pooh!  we learned it allat MissPinkerton's!  How calm the sea isand how cleareverything. I declare I can almost see the coast ofFrance!"and her bright green eyes streamed outandshot intothe night as if they could see through it.

 

"Doyou know what I intend to do one morning?" shesaid; "Ifind I can swim beautifullyand some daywhenmy AuntCrawley's companion--old Briggsyou know--youremember her--that hook-nosed womanwith thelong wispsof hair--when Briggs goes out to batheIintend todive under her awningand insist on areconciliationin the water.  Isn't that a stratagem?"

 

Georgeburst out laughing at the idea of this aquaticmeeting. "What's the row thereyou two?" Rawdonshoutedoutrattling the box.  Amelia was making a foolof herselfin an absurd hysterical mannerand retiredto her ownroom to whimper in private.

 

Ourhistory is destined in this chapter to go backwardsandforwards in a very irresolute manner seeminglyandhavingconducted our story to to-morrow presentlyweshallimmediately again have occasion to step back toyesterdayso that the whole of the tale may get a hearing.As youbehold at her Majesty's drawing-roomtheambassadors'and high dignitaries' carriages whisk offfrom aprivate doorwhile Captain Jones's ladies are waitingfor theirfly: as you see in the Secretary of the Treasury'santechambera half-dozen of petitioners waitingpatientlyfor their audienceand called out one by onewhensuddenly an Irish member or some eminent personageenters theapartmentand instantly walks into Mr.Under-Secretaryover the heads of all the people present:so in theconduct of a talethe romancer is obliged toexercisethis most partial sort of justice.  Although all thelittleincidents must be heardyet they must be put offwhen thegreat events make their appearance; and surelysuch acircumstance as that which brought Dobbin toBrightonviz.the ordering out of the Guards and the linetoBelgiumand the mustering of the allied armies in thatcountryunder the command of his Grace the Duke ofWellington--sucha dignified circumstance as thatI saywasentitled to the pas over all minor occurrences whereofthishistory is composed mainlyand hence a littletriflingdisarrangement and disorder was excusable andbecoming. We have only now advanced in time so farbeyondChapter XXII as to have got our various charactersup intotheir dressing-rooms before the dinnerwhich tookplace as usual on the day of Dobbin's arrival.

 

George wastoo humane or too much occupied with thetie of hisneckcloth to convey at once all the news toAmeliawhich his comrade had brought with him fromLondon. He came into her roomhoweverholding theattorney'sletter in his handand with so solemn andimportantan air that his wifealways ingeniously onthe watchfor calamitythought the worst was about tobefalland running up to her husbandbesought herdearestGeorge to tell her everything--he was orderedabroad;there would be a battle next week--she knewtherewould.

 

DearestGeorge parried the question about foreignserviceand with a melancholy shake of the head said"NoEmmy; it isn't that:  it's not myself I care about:it's you. I have had bad news from my father.  He refusesanycommunication with me; he has flung us off; andleaves usto poverty.  I can rough it well enough; butyoumydearhow will you bear it? read here." And hehanded herover the letter.

 

Ameliawith a look of tender alarm in her eyeslistenedto her noble hero as he uttered the above generoussentimentsand sitting down on the bedread the letterwhichGeorge gave her with such a pompous martyr-likeair. Her face cleared up as she read the documenthowever.The ideaof sharing poverty and privation in companywith thebeloved object isas we have before saidfar frombeing disagreeable to a warm-hearted woman.The notionwas actually pleasant to little Amelia.  Thenas usualshe was ashamed of herself for feeling happy atsuch anindecorous momentand checked her pleasuresayingdemurely"OGeorgehow your poor heart mustbleed atthe idea of being separated from your papa!"

 

"Itdoes" said Georgewith an agonised countenance.

 

"Buthe can't be angry with you long" she continued."NobodycouldI'm sure.  He must forgive youmydearestkindest husband.  OI shall never forgive myselfif he doesnot."

 

"Whatvexes memy poor Emmyis not my misfortunebutyours" George said.  "I don't care for a littlepoverty;and I thinkwithout vanityI've talents enoughto make myown way."

 

"Thatyou have" interposed his wifewho thought thatwar shouldceaseand her husband should be made ageneralinstantly.

 

"YesI shall make my way as well as another" Osbornewent on;"but youmy dear girlhow can I bearyour beingdeprived of the comforts and station insocietywhich my wife had a right to expect?  My dearestgirl inbarracks; the wife of a soldier in a marchingregiment;subject to all sorts of annoyance and privation!It makesme miserable."

 

Emmyquite at easeas this was her husband's onlycause ofdisquiettook his handand with a radiant faceand smilebegan to warble that stanza from the favouritesong of"Wapping Old Stairs" in which the heroineafterrebukingher Tom for inattentionpromises "his trousersto mendand his grog too to make" if he will be constantand kindand not forsake her.  "Besides" she saidafter apauseduring which she looked as pretty andhappy asany young woman need"isn't two thousandpounds animmense deal of moneyGeorge?"

 

Georgelaughed at her naivete; and finally they wentdown todinnerAmelia clinging to George's armstillwarblingthe tune of "Wapping Old Stairs" and morepleasedand light of mind than she had been for somedays past.

 

Thus therepastwhich at length came offinstead ofbeingdismalwas an exceedingly brisk and merry one.Theexcitement of the campaign counteracted in George'smind thedepression occasioned by the disinheriting letter.Dobbinstill kept up his character of rattle.  He amusedthecompany with accounts of the army in Belgium;wherenothing but fetes and gaiety and fashion weregoing on. Thenhaving a particular end in viewthisdexterouscaptain proceeded to describe Mrs. MajorO'Dowdpacking her own and her Major's wardrobeandhow hisbest epaulets had been stowed into a tea canisterwhilst herown famous yellow turbanwith the bird ofparadisewrapped in brown paperwas locked up in theMajor'stin cocked-hat caseand wondered what effectit wouldhave at the French king's court at Ghentor thegreatmilitary balls at Brussels.

 

"Ghent!Brussels!" cried out Amelia with a suddenshock andstart.  "Is the regiment ordered awayGeorge--is itordered away?" A look of terror came over thesweetsmiling faceand she clung to George as by aninstinct.

 

"Don'tbe afraiddear" he said good-naturedly; "itis but atwelve hours' passage.  It won't hurt you.  Youshall gotooEmmy."

 

"Iintend to go" said Becky.  "I'm on the staff. GeneralTufto is agreat flirt of mine.  Isn't heRawdon?"Rawdonlaughed out with his usual roar.  WilliamDobbinflushed up quite red.  "She can't go" he said; "thinkof the--ofthe danger" he was going to add; but hadnot allhis conversation during dinner-time tended toprovethere was none?  He became very confused andsilent.

 

"Imust and will go" Amelia cried with the greatestspirit;and Georgeapplauding her resolutionpatted herunder thechinand asked all the persons present ifthey eversaw such a termagant of a wifeand agreedthat thelady should bear him company.  "We'll haveMrs.O'Dowd to chaperon you" he said.  What cared sheso long asher husband was near her?  Thus somehowthebitterness of a parting was juggled away.  Though warand dangerwere in storewar and danger might notbefall formonths to come.  There was a respite at any ratewhich madethe timid little Amelia almost as happy asa fullreprieve would have doneand which even Dobbinowned inhis heart was very welcome.  Forto be permittedto see herwas now the greatest privilege and hopeof hislifeand he thought with himself secretly how hewouldwatch and protect her.  I wouldn't have let her goif I hadbeen married to herhe thought.  But George wasthemasterand his friend did not think fit to remonstrate.

 

Puttingher arm round her friend's waistRebecca atlengthcarried Amelia off from the dinner-table where somuchbusiness of importance had been discussedandleft thegentlemen in a highly exhilarated statedrinkingandtalking very gaily.

 

In thecourse of the evening Rawdon got a little family-note fromhis wifewhichalthough he crumpled it upand burntit instantly in the candlewe had the goodluck toread over Rebecca's shoulder.  "Great news" shewrote. "Mrs. Bute is gone.  Get the money from Cupid tonightas he'llbe off to-morrow most likely.  Mind this.--R."So when the little company was about adjourningto coffeein the women's apartmentRawdon touchedOsborne onthe elbowand said gracefully"I sayOsbornemy boyifquite convenientI'll trouble you forthat 'eresmall trifle." It was not quite convenientbutneverthelessGeorge gave him a considerable presentinstalmentin bank-notes from his pocket-bookand a billon hisagents at a week's datefor the remaining sum.

 

Thismatter arrangedGeorgeand Josand Dobbinheld acouncil of war over their cigarsand agreed that ageneralmove should be made for London in Jos's opencarriagethe next day.  JosI thinkwould have preferredstayinguntil Rawdon Crawley quitted Brightonbut Dobbinand Georgeoverruled himand he agreed to carrythe partyto townand ordered four horsesas became hisdignity. With these they set off in stateafter breakfastthe nextday.  Amelia had risen very early in the morningand packedher little trunks with the greatest alacritywhileOsborne lay in bed deploring that she had not amaid tohelp her.  She was only too gladhowevertoperformthis office for herself.  A dim uneasy sentimentaboutRebecca filled her mind already; and although theykissedeach other most tenderly at partingyet we knowwhatjealousy is; and Mrs. Amelia possessed that amongothervirtues of her sex.

 

Besidesthese characters who are coming and goingawaywemust remember that there were some other oldfriends ofours at Brighton; Miss Crawleynamelyandthe suitein attendance upon her.  Nowalthough Rebeccaand herhusband were but at a few stones' throw of thelodgingswhich the invalid Miss Crawley occupiedtheold lady'sdoor remained as pitilessly closed to them as ithad beenheretofore in London.  As long as she remainedby theside of her sister-in-lawMrs. Bute Crawley tookcare thather beloved Matilda should not be agitated by ameetingwith her nephew.  When the spinster took herdrivethefaithful Mrs. Bute sate beside her in the carriage.When MissCrawley took the air in a chairMrs.Butemarched on one side of the vehiclewhilst honestBriggsoccupied the other wing.  And if they met Rawdonand hiswife by chance--although the former constantlyandobsequiously took off his hatthe Miss-Crawley partypassed himby with such a frigid and killing indifferencethatRawdon began to despair.

 

"Wemight as well be in London as here" CaptainRawdonoften saidwith a downcast air.

 

"Acomfortable inn in Brighton is better than aspunging-housein Chancery Lane" his wife answeredwho wasof a morecheerful temperament.  "Think of those twoaides-de-campof Mr. Mosesthe sheriff's-officerwhowatchedour lodging for a week.  Our friends here areverystupidbut Mr. Jos and Captain Cupid are bettercompanionsthan Mr. Moses's menRawdonmy love."

 

"Iwonder the writs haven't followed me down here"Rawdoncontinuedstill desponding.

 

"Whenthey dowe'll find means to give them the slip"saiddauntless little Beckyand further pointed out to herhusbandthe great comfort and advantage of meetingJos andOsbornewhose acquaintance had brought toRawdonCrawley a most timely little supply of readymoney.

 

"Itwill hardly be enough to pay the inn bill" grumbledtheGuardsman.

 

"Whyneed we pay it?" said the ladywho had an answerforeverything.

 

ThroughRawdon's valetwho still kept up a triflingacquaintancewith the male inhabitants of Miss Crawley'sservants'halland was instructed to treat the coachmanto drinkwhenever they metold Miss Crawley's movementswerepretty well known by our young couple; andRebeccaluckily bethought herself of being unwelland ofcalling inthe same apothecary who was in attendanceupon thespinsterso that their information was on thewholetolerably complete.  Nor was Miss Briggsalthoughforced toadopt a hostile attitudesecretly inimical toRawdon andhis wife.  She was naturally of a kindly andforgivingdisposition.  Now that the cause of jealousy wasremovedher dislike for Rebecca disappeared alsoandsheremembered the latter's invariable good wordsand goodhumour.  Andindeedshe and Mrs.Firkinthe lady's-maidand the whole of Miss Crawley'shouseholdgroaned under the tyranny of thetriumphantMrs. Bute.

 

As oftenwill be the casethat good but imperiouswomanpushed her advantages too farand her successesquiteunmercifully.  She had in the course of a few weeksbroughtthe invalid to such a state of helpless docilitythat thepoor soul yielded herself entirely to her sister'sordersand did not even dare to complain of her slaveryto Briggsor Firkin.  Mrs. Bute measured out the glassesof winewhich Miss Crawley was daily allowed to takewithirresistible accuracygreatly to the annoyance ofFirkin andthe butlerwho found themselves deprived ofcontrolover even the sherry-bottle.  She apportioned thesweetbreadsjellieschickens; their quantity and order.Night andnoon and morning she brought the abominabledrinksordained by the Doctorand made her patientswallowthem with so affecting an obedience that Firkinsaid "mypoor Missus du take her physic like a lamb." Sheprescribedthe drive in the carriage or the ride in thechairandin a wordground down the old lady in herconvalescencein such a way as only belongs to yourproper-managingmotherly moral woman.  If ever thepatientfaintly resistedand pleaded for a little bit moredinner ora little drop less medicinethe nurse threatenedher withinstantaneous deathwhen Miss Crawleyinstantlygave in.  "She's no spirit left in her" Firkinremarkedto Briggs; "she ain't ave called me a fool thesethreeweeks." FinallyMrs. Bute had made up her mindto dismissthe aforesaid honest lady's-maidMr. Bowlsthe largeconfidential manand Briggs herselfand tosend forher daughters from the Rectoryprevious toremovingthe dear invalid bodily to Queen's Crawleywhenan odiousaccident happened which called her away fromduties sopleasing.  The Reverend Bute Crawleyherhusbandriding home one nightfell with his horse andbroke hiscollar-bone.  Fever and inflammatory symptomsset inand Mrs. Bute was forced to leave Sussex forHampshire. As soon as ever Bute was restoredshepromisedto return to her dearest friendand departedleavingthe strongest injunctions with the householdregardingtheir behaviour to their mistress; and as soon asshe gotinto the Southampton coachthere was such ajubileeand sense of relief in all Miss Crawley's houseas thecompany of persons assembled there had notexperiencedfor many a week before.  That very day MissCrawleyleft off her afternoon dose of medicine:  thatafternoonBowls opened an independent bottle of sherryforhimself and Mrs. Firkin:  that night Miss Crawleyand MissBriggs indulged in a game of piquet insteadof one ofPorteus's sermons.  It was as in the old nursery-storywhen the stick forgot to beat the dogand thewholecourse of events underwent a peaceful and happyrevolution.

 

At a veryearly hour in the morningtwice or thrice aweekMissBriggs used to betake herself to a bathing-machineand disport in the water in a flannel gown andan oilskincap.  Rebeccaas we have seenwas aware ofthiscircumstanceand though she did not attempt tostormBriggs as she had threatenedand actually diveinto thatlady's presence and surprise her under thesacrednessof the awningMrs. Rawdon determined toattackBriggs as she came away from her bathrefreshedandinvigorated by her dipand likely to be in goodhumour.

 

So gettingup very early the next morningBeckybroughtthe telescope in their sitting-roomwhich facedthe seato bear upon the bathing-machines on the beach;saw Briggsarriveenter her box; and put out to sea;and was onthe shore just as the nymph of whom shecame inquest stepped out of the little caravan on to theshingles. It was a pretty picture:  the beach; the bathing-women'sfaces; the long line of rocks and building wereblushingand bright in the sunshine.  Rebecca wore a kindtendersmile on her faceand was holding out her prettywhite handas Briggs emerged from the box.  What couldBriggs dobut accept the salutation?

 

"MissSh--Mrs. Crawley" she said.

 

Mrs.Crawley seized her handpressed it to her heartand with asudden impulseflinging her arms roundBriggskissed her affectionately.  "Deardear friend!" shesaidwitha touch of such natural feelingthat MissBriggs ofcourse at once began to meltand even thebathing-womanwas mollified.

 

Rebeccafound no difficulty in engaging Briggs in a longintimateand delightful conversation.  Everything that hadpassedsince the morning of Becky's sudden departurefrom MissCrawley's house in Park Lane up to the presentdayandMrs. Bute's happy retreatwas discussed anddescribedby Briggs.  All Miss Crawley's symptomsandtheparticulars of her illness and medical treatmentwerenarratedby the confidante with that fulness andaccuracywhich women delight in.  About their complaintsand theirdoctors do ladies ever tire of talking to eachother? Briggs did not on this occasion; nor did Rebeccaweary oflistening.  She was thankfultruly thankfulthatthe dearkind Briggsthat the faithfulthe invaluableFirkinhad been permitted to remain with their benefactressthroughher illness.  Heaven bless her! though sheRebeccahad seemed to act undutifully towards MissCrawley;yet was not her fault a natural and excusable one?Could shehelp giving her hand to the man who had wonherheart?  Briggsthe sentimentalcould only turn upher eyesto heaven at this appealand heave asympatheticsighand think that shetoohad givenaway heraffections long years agoand own that Rebeccawas novery great criminal.

 

"CanI ever forget her who so befriended the friendlessorphan? Nothough she has cast me off" the lattersaid"Ishall never cease to love herand I would devotemy life toher service.  As my own benefactressas mybelovedRawdon's adored relativeI love and admire MissCrawleydear Miss Briggsbeyond any woman in theworldandnext to her I love all those who are faithfulto her. I would never have treated Miss Crawley'sfaithfulfriends as that odious designing Mrs. Bute hasdone. Rawdonwho was all heart" Rebecca continued"althoughhis outward manners might seem rough andcarelesshad said a hundred timeswith tears in his eyesthat heblessed Heaven for sending his dearest Aunty twosuchadmirable nurses as her attached Firkin and heradmirableMiss Briggs.  Should the machinations of thehorribleMrs. Bute endas she too much feared they wouldinbanishing everybody that Miss Crawley loved from hersideandleaving that poor lady a victim to those harpiesat theRectoryRebecca besought her (Miss Briggs) torememberthat her own homehumble as it waswasalwaysopen to receive Briggs.  Dear friend" sheexclaimedin a transport of enthusiasm"some heartscan neverforget benefits; all women are not ButeCrawleys! Though why should I complain of her" Rebeccaadded;"though I have been her tool and the victim to herartsdo Inot owe my dearest Rawdon to her?"  AndRebeccaunfolded to Briggs all Mrs. Bute's conduct atQueen'sCrawleywhichthough unintelligible to her thenwasclearly enough explained by the events now--nowthat theattachment had sprung up which Mrs. Bute hadencouragedby a thousand artifices--now that twoinnocentpeople had fallen into the snares which she hadlaid forthemand loved and married and been ruinedthroughher schemes.

 

It was allvery true.  Briggs saw the stratagems asclearly aspossible.  Mrs. Bute had made the matchbetweenRawdon and Rebecca.  Yetthough the latter was aperfectlyinnocent victimMiss Briggs could not disguisefrom herfriend her fear that Miss Crawley's affectionswerehopelessly estranged from Rebeccaand that the oldlady wouldnever forgive her nephew for making soimprudenta marriage.

 

On thispoint Rebecca had her own opinionandstill keptup a good heart.  If Miss Crawley did notforgivethem at presentshe might at least relent on afutureday.  Even nowthere was only that pulingsicklyPittCrawley between Rawdon and a baronetcy; and shouldanythinghappen to the formerall would be well.  At alleventstohave Mrs. Bute's designs exposedand herselfwellabusedwas a satisfactionand might be advantageoustoRawdon's interest; and Rebeccaafter an hour'schat withher recovered friendleft her with the mosttenderdemonstrations of regardand quite assured thattheconversation they had had together would bereportedto Miss Crawley before many hours were over.

 

Thisinterview endedit became full time for Rebeccato returnto her innwhere all the party of the previousday wereassembled at a farewell breakfast.  Rebecca tooksuch atender leave of Amelia as became two women wholoved eachother as sisters; and having used her handkerchiefplentifullyand hung on her friend's neck as if theywereparting for everand waved the handkerchief(which wasquite dryby the way) out of windowas thecarriagedrove offshe came back to the breakfast tableand atesome prawns with a good deal of appetiteconsideringher emotion; and while she was munching thesedelicaciesexplained to Rawdon what had occurred in hermorningwalk between herself and Briggs.  Her hopeswere veryhigh:  she made her husband share them.  Shegenerallysucceeded in making her husband share all heropinionswhether melancholy or cheerful.

 

"Youwill nowif you pleasemy dearsit down at thewriting-tableand pen me a pretty little letter to MissCrawleyin which you'll say that you are a good boyand thatsort of thing."  So Rawdon sate downand wroteoff"BrightonThursday" and "My dear Aunt" withgreatrapidity: but there the gallant officer's imaginationfailedhim.  He mumbled the end of his penand lookedup in hiswife's face.  She could not help laughing at hisruefulcountenanceand marching up and down the roomwith herhands behind herthe little woman began todictate aletterwhich he took down.

 

"Beforequitting the country and commencing a campaignwhich verypossibly may be fatal."

 

"What?"said Rawdonrather surprisedbut took thehumour ofthe phraseand presently wrote it down witha grin.

 

"Whichvery possibly may be fatalI have comehither--"

 

"Whynot say come hereBecky?  Come here's grammar"thedragoon interposed.

 

"Ihave come hither" Rebecca insistedwith a stampof herfoot"to say farewell to my dearest and earliestfriend. I beseech you before I gonot perhaps toreturnonce more to let me press the hand from whichI havereceived nothing but kindnesses all my life."

 

"Kindnessesall my life" echoed Rawdonscratchingdown thewordsand quite amazed at his own facility ofcomposition.

 

"Iask nothing from you but that we should part not inanger. I have the pride of my family on some pointsthough noton all.  I married a painter's daughterand amnotashamed of the union."

 

"Norun me through the body if I am!" Rawdon ejaculated.

 

"Youold booby" Rebecca saidpinching his ear andlookingover to see that he made no mistakes in spelling--"beseechis not spelt with an aand earliest is."  So healteredthese wordsbowing to the superior knowledge ofhis littleMissis.

 

"Ithought that you were aware of the progress of myattachment"Rebecca continued:  "I knew that Mrs. ButeCrawleyconfirmed and encouraged it.  But I make noreproaches. I married a poor womanand am content toabide bywhat I have done.  Leave your propertydearAuntasyou will.  I shall never complain of the way inwhich youdispose of it.  I would have you believe that Ilove youfor yourselfand not for money's sake.  I want tobereconciled to you ere I leave England.  Let meletme see youbefore I go.  A few weeks or months hence itmay be toolateand I cannot bear the notion of quittingthecountry without a kind word of farewell from you."

 

"Shewon't recognise my style in that" said Becky.  "Imade thesentences short and brisk on purpose." Andthisauthentic missive was despatched under cover to MissBriggs.

 

Old MissCrawley laughed when Briggswith greatmysteryhanded her over this candid and simplestatement. "We may read it now Mrs. Bute is away"she said. "Read it to meBriggs."

 

WhenBriggs had read the epistle outher patronesslaughedmore.  "Don't you seeyou goose" she said toBriggswho professed to be much touched by the honestaffectionwhich pervaded the composition"don't yousee thatRawdon never wrote a word of it.  He neverwrote tome without asking for money in his lifeand allhisletters are full of bad spellingand dashesand badgrammar. It is that little serpent of a governess who ruleshim."They are all alikeMiss Crawley thought in herheart. They all want me deadand are hankering for mymoney.

 

"Idon't mind seeing Rawdon" she addedafter apauseandin a tone of perfect indifference.  "I had justas soonshake hands with him as not.  Provided there isno scenewhy shouldn't we meet?  I don't mind.  Buthumanpatience has its limits; and mindmy dearIrespectfullydecline to receive Mrs. Rawdon--I can'tsupportthat quite"--and Miss Briggs was fain to be contentwith thishalf-message of conciliation; and thought thatthe bestmethod of bringing the old lady and her nephewtogetherwas to warn Rawdon to be in waiting on theCliffwhen Miss Crawley went out for her air in herchair.

 

There theymet.  I don't know whether Miss Crawleyhad anyprivate feeling of regard or emotion upon seeingher oldfavourite; but she held out a couple of fingersto himwith as smiling and good-humoured an airas ifthey hadmet only the day before.  And as for Rawdonhe turnedas red as scarletand wrung off Briggs's handso greatwas his rapture and his confusion at the meeting.Perhaps itwas interest that moved him:  or perhapsaffection: perhaps he was touched by the change whichtheillness of the last weeks had wrought in his aunt.

 

"Theold girl has always acted like a trump to me" hesaid tohis wifeas he narrated the interview"and I feltyou knowrather queerand that sort of thing.  I walkedby theside of the what-dy'e-call-'emyou knowand toher owndoorwhere Bowls came to help her in.  And Iwanted togo in very muchonly--"

 

"YOUDIDN'T GO INRawdon!" screamed his wife.

 

"Nomy dear; I'm hanged if I wasn't afraid when itcame tothe point."

 

"Youfool! you ought to have gone inand never comeoutagain" Rebecca said.

 

"Don'tcall me names" said the big Guardsmansulkily."PerhapsI WAS a foolBeckybut you shouldn't sayso";and he gave his wife a looksuch as his countenancecould wearwhen angeredand such as was not pleasantto face.

 

"Welldearestto-morrow you must be on the look-outand go andsee hermindwhether she asks you or no"Rebeccasaidtrying to soothe her angry yoke-mate.  Onwhich herepliedthat he would do exactly as he likedand wouldjust thank her to keep a civil tongue in herhead--andthe wounded husband went awayand passedtheforenoon at the billiard-roomsulkysilentandsuspicious.

 

But beforethe night was over he was compelled togive inand ownas usualto his wife's superior prudenceandforesightby the most melancholy confirmation of thepresentimentswhich she had regarding the consequencesof themistake which he had made.  Miss Crawley musthave hadsome emotion upon seeing him and shakinghands withhim after so long a rupture.  She mused uponthemeeting a considerable time.  "Rawdon is getting veryfat andoldBriggs" she said to her companion.  "Hisnose hasbecome redand he is exceedingly coarse inappearance. His marriage to that woman has hopelesslyvulgarisedhim.  Mrs. Bute always said they drank together;and I haveno doubt they do.  Yes:  he smelt of ginabominably. I remarked it.  Didn't you?"

 

In vainBriggs interposed that Mrs. Bute spoke ill ofeverybody:andas far as a person in her humble positioncouldjudgewas an--

 

"Anartful designing woman?  Yesso she isand shedoes speakill of every one--but I am certain that womanhas madeRawdon drink.  All those low people do--"

 

"Hewas very much affected at seeing youma'am" thecompanionsaid; "and I am surewhen you remember thathe isgoing to the field of danger--"

 

"Howmuch money has he promised youBriggs?" theoldspinster cried outworking herself into a nervousrage--"therenowof course you begin to cry.  I hatescenes. Why am I always to be worried?  Go and cry up inyour ownroomand send Firkin to me-- nostopsitdown andblow your noseand leave off cryingand writea letterto Captain Crawley." Poor Briggs went andplacedherself obediently at the writing-book.  Its leaveswereblotted all over with relics of the firmstrongrapidhandwritingof the spinster's late amanuensisMrs. ButeCrawley.

 

"Begin'My dear sir' or 'Dear sir' that will be betterand sayyou are desired by Miss Crawley--noby MissCrawley'smedical manby Mr. Creamerto state thatmy healthis such that all strong emotions would bedangerousin my present delicate condition--and that I mustdeclineany family discussions or interviews whatever.And thankhim for coming to Brightonand so forthandbeg himnot to stay any longer on my account.  AndMissBriggsyou may add that I wish him a bon voyageandthat if hewill take the trouble to call upon my lawyer'sin Gray'sInn Squarehe will find there a communicationfor him. Yesthat will do; and that will make him leaveBrighton."The benevolent Briggs penned this sentencewith theutmost satisfaction.

 

"Toseize upon me the very day after Mrs. Bute wasgone"the old lady prattled on; "it was too indecent.Briggsmydearwrite to Mrs. Crawleyand say SHEneedn'tcome back.  No--she needn't--and she shan't--and Iwon't be a slave in my own house--and I won't bestarvedand choked with poison.  They all want to kill me--all--all"--andwith this the lonely old woman burstinto ascream of hysterical tears.

 

The lastscene of her dismal Vanity Fair comedy wasfastapproaching; the tawdry lamps were going out oneby one;and the dark curtain was almost ready todescend.

 

That finalparagraphwhich referred Rawdon to MissCrawley'ssolicitor in Londonand which Briggs hadwritten sogood-naturedlyconsoled the dragoon and hiswifesomewhatafter their first blank disappointmentonreadingthe spinster's refusal of a reconciliation.  And iteffectedthe purpose for which the old lady had caused itto bewrittenby making Rawdon very eager to get toLondon.

 

Out ofJos's losings and George Osborne's bank-noteshe paidhis bill at the innthe landlord whereof does notprobablyknow to this day how doubtfully his accountoncestood.  Foras a general sends his baggage to therearbefore an actionRebecca had wisely packed up alltheirchief valuables and sent them off under care ofGeorge'sservantwho went in charge of the trunks onthe coachback to London.  Rawdon and his wifereturnedby the same conveyance next day.

 

"Ishould have liked to see the old girl before we went"Rawdonsaid.  "She looks so cut up and altered that I'msure shecan't last long.  I wonder what sort of a chequeI shallhave at Waxy's.  Two hundred--it can't be lessthan twohundred--heyBecky?"

 

Inconsequence of the repeated visits of the aides-de-camp ofthe Sheriff of MiddlesexRawdon and his wifedid not goback to their lodgings at Bromptonbut putup at aninn.  Early the next morningRebecca had anopportunityof seeing them as she skirted that suburbon herroad to old Mrs. Sedley's house at Fulhamwhithershe wentto look for her dear Amelia and her Brightonfriends. They were all off to Chathamthence to Harwichto takeshipping for Belgium with the regiment--kind oldMrs. Sedley very much depressed and tearfulsolitary. Returning from this visitRebecca found herhusbandwho had been off to Gray's Innand learnt hisfate. He came back furious.

 

"ByJoveBecky" says he"she's only given me twentypound!"

 

Though ittold against themselvesthe joke was toogoodandBecky burst out laughing at Rawdon'sdiscomfiture.

 

 

 

 

CHAPTERXXVIBetweenLondon and Chatham

 

Onquitting Brightonour friend Georgeas became aperson ofrank and fashion travelling in a barouche withfourhorsesdrove in state to a fine hotel in CavendishSquarewhere a suite of splendid roomsand a tablemagnificentlyfurnished with plate and surrounded by ahalf-dozenof black and silent waiterswas ready toreceivethe young gentleman and his bride.  George did thehonours ofthe place with a princely air to Jos andDobbin;and Ameliafor the first timeand with exceedingshynessand timiditypresided at what George called herown table.

 

Georgepooh-poohed the wine and bullied the waitersroyallyand Jos gobbled the turtle with immense satisfaction.Dobbinhelped him to it; for the lady of the housebeforewhom the tureen was placedwas so ignorant ofthecontentsthat she was going to help Mr. Sedley withoutbestowingupon him either calipash or calipee.

 

Thesplendour of the entertainmentand the apartmentsin whichit was givenalarmed Mr. Dobbinwhoremonstratedafter dinnerwhen Jos was asleep in the greatchair. But in vain he cried out against the enormity ofturtle andchampagne that was fit for an archbishop."I'vealways been accustomed to travel like a gentleman"Georgesaid"anddammemy wife shall travel like alady. As long as there's a shot in the lockershe shallwant fornothing" said the generous fellowquite pleasedwithhimself for his magnificence of spirit.  Nor didDobbin tryand convince him that Amelia's happiness was notcentred inturtle-soup.

 

A whileafter dinnerAmelia timidly expressed a wishto go andsee her mammaat Fulham: which permissionGeorgegranted her with some grumbling.  And she trippedaway toher enormous bedroomin the centre of whichstood theenormous funereal bed"that the EmperorHalixander'ssister slep in when the allied sufferings washere"and put on her little bonnet and shawl with theutmosteagerness and pleasure.  George was still drinkingclaretwhen she returned to the dining-roomand madeno signsof moving.  "Ar'n't you coming with medearest?"she askedhim.  No; the "dearest" had "business"thatnight.  His man should get her a coach and go withher. And the coach being at the door of the hotelAmeliamadeGeorge a little disappointed curtsey after lookingvainlyinto his face once or twiceand went sadly downthe greatstaircaseCaptain Dobbin afterwho handed herinto thevehicleand saw it drive away to its destination.The veryvalet was ashamed of mentioning the address tothehackney-coachman before the hotel waitersandpromisedto instruct him when they got further on.

 

Dobbinwalked home to his old quarters and theSlaughters'thinking very likely that it would be delightfulto be inthat hackney-coachalong with Mrs. Osborne.George wasevidently of quite a different taste; for whenhe hadtaken wine enoughhe went off to half-price atthe playto see Mr. Kean perform in Shylock.  CaptainOsbornewas a great lover of the dramaand had himselfperformedhigh-comedy characters with great distinctionin severalgarrison theatrical entertainments.  Jos slept onuntil longafter darkwhen he woke up with a start atthemotions of his servantwho was removing andemptyingthe decanters on the table; and the hackney-coachstand wasagain put into requisition for a carriage toconveythis stout hero to his lodgings and bed.

 

Mrs.Sedleyyou may be sureclasped her daughter toher heartwith all maternal eagerness and affectionrunningout of the door as the carriage drew up before thelittlegarden-gateto welcome the weepingtremblingyoungbride.  Old Mr. Clappwho was in his shirt-sleevestrimmingthe garden-plotshrank back alarmed.  The Irishservant-lassrushed up from the kitchen and smiled a"Godbless you."  Amelia could hardly walk along theflags andup the steps into the parlour.

 

How thefloodgates were openedand mother anddaughterweptwhen they were together embracing eachother inthis sanctuarymay readily be imagined by everyreader whopossesses the least sentimental turn.  Whendon'tladies weep?  At what occasion of joysorroworotherbusiness of lifeandafter such an event as amarriagemother and daughter were surely at liberty to giveway to asensibility which is as tender as it is refreshing.About aquestion of marriage I have seen womenwho hateeach other kiss and cry together quite fondly.How muchmore do they feel when they love!  Good mothersaremarried over again at their daughters' weddings:and as forsubsequent eventswho does not know howultra-maternalgrandmothers are?--in fact a womanuntilshe is agrandmotherdoes not often really know what tobe amother is.  Let us respect Amelia and her mammawhisperingand whimpering and laughing and crying intheparlour and the twilight.  Old Mr. Sedley did.  HE hadnotdivined who was in the carriage when it drove up.  Hehad notflown out to meet his daughterthough he kissedher verywarmly when she entered the room (where hewasoccupiedas usualwith his papers and tapes andstatementsof accounts)and after sitting with the motheranddaughter for a short timehe very wisely left thelittleapartment in their possession.

 

George'svalet was looking on in a very superciliousmanner atMr. Clapp in his shirt-sleeveswatering hisrose-bushes. He took off his hathoweverwith muchcondescensionto Mr. Sedleywho asked news abouthisson-in-lawand about Jos's carriageand whether hishorses hadbeen down to Brightonand about thatinfernaltraitor Bonapartyand the war; until the Irishmaid-servantcame with a plate and a bottle of winefrom whichthe old gentleman insisted upon helping thevalet. He gave him a half-guinea toowhich the servantpocketedwith a mixture of wonder and contempt.  "Tothe healthof your master and mistressTrotter" Mr.Sedleysaid"and here's something to drink your healthwhen youget homeTrotter."

 

There werebut nine days past since Amelia had leftthatlittle cottage and home--and yet how far off thetimeseemed since she had bidden it farewell.  What agulf laybetween her and that past life.  She could lookback to itfrom her present standing-placeand contemplatealmost asanother beingthe young unmarried girlabsorbedin her lovehaving no eyes but for one specialobjectreceiving parental affection if not ungratefullyat leastindifferentlyand as if it were her due--herwholeheart and thoughts bent on the accomplishment ofonedesire.  The review of those daysso lately gone yetso farawaytouched her with shame; and the aspect ofthe kindparents filled her with tender remorse.  Was theprizegained--the heaven of life--and the winner stilldoubtfuland unsatisfied?  As his hero and heroine passthematrimonial barrierthe novelist generally drops thecurtainas if the drama were over then:  the doubts andstrugglesof life ended:  as ifonce landed in the marriagecountryall were green and pleasant there:  and wifeandhusband had nothing to do but to link each other'sarmstogetherand wander gently downwards towardsold age inhappy and perfect fruition.  But our littleAmelia wasjust on the bank of her new countryand wasalreadylooking anxiously back towards the sad friendlyfigureswaving farewell to her across the streamfrom theotherdistant shore.

 

In honourof the young bride's arrivalher motherthought itnecessary to prepare I don't know what festiveentertainmentand after the first ebullition of talktookleave ofMrs. George Osborne for a whileand diveddown tothe lower regions of the house to a sort ofkitchen-parlour(occupied by Mr. and Mrs. Clappandin theeveningwhen her dishes were washed and hercurl-papersremovedby Miss Flanniganthe Irish servant)there totake measures for the preparing of a magnificentornamentedtea.  All people have their ways ofexpressingkindnessand it seemed to Mrs. Sedley that amuffin anda quantity of orange marmalade spread outin alittle cut-glass saucer would be peculiarly agreeablerefreshmentsto Amelia in her most interesting situation.

 

Whilethese delicacies were being transacted belowAmelialeaving the drawing-roomwalked upstairs andfoundherselfshe scarce knew howin the little roomwhich shehad occupied before her marriageand in thatvery chairin which she had passed so many bitter hours.She sankback in its arms as if it were an old friend;and fellto thinking over the past weekand the lifebeyondit.  Already to be looking sadly and vaguely back:always tobe pining for something whichwhen obtainedbroughtdoubt and sadness rather than pleasure; herewas thelot of our poor little creature and harmless lostwandererin the great struggling crowds of Vanity Fair.

 

Here shesateand recalled to herself fondly that imageof Georgeto which she had knelt before marriage.  Didshe own toherself how different the real man was fromthatsuperb young hero whom she had worshipped?  Itrequiresmanymany years--and a man must be very badindeed--beforea woman's pride and vanity will let herown tosuch a confession.  Then Rebecca's twinklinggreen eyesand baleful smile lighted upon herand filledher withdismay.  And so she sate for awhile indulgingin herusual mood of selfish broodingin that verylistlessmelancholy attitude in which the honest maid-servanthad foundheron the day when she brought up theletter inwhich George renewed his offer of marriage.

 

She lookedat the little white bedwhich had been hersa few daysbeforeand thought she would like to sleepin it thatnightand wakeas formerlywith her mothersmilingover her in the morning:  Then she thought withterror ofthe great funereal damask pavilion in the vastand dingystate bedroomwhich was awaiting her at thegrandhotel in Cavendish Square.  Dear little white bed!how many along night had she wept on its pillow!How shehad despaired and hoped to die there; and nowwere notall her wishes accomplishedand the lover ofwhom shehad despaired her own for ever?  Kind mother!howpatiently and tenderly she had watched round thatbed! She went and knelt down by the bedside; and therethiswounded and timorousbut gentle and loving soulsought forconsolationwhere as yetit must be ownedour littlegirl had but seldom looked for it.  Love hadbeen herfaith hitherto; and the sadbleeding disappointedheartbegan to feel the want of another consoler.

 

Have we aright to repeat or to overhear her prayers?Thesebrotherare secretsand out of the domain ofVanityFairin which our story lies.

 

But thismay be saidthat when the tea was finallyannouncedour young lady came downstairs a great dealmorecheerful; that she did not despondor deplore herfateorthink about George's coldnessor Rebecca's eyesas she hadbeen wont to do of late.  She went downstairsand kissedher father and motherand talked tothe oldgentlemanand made him more merry than hehad beenfor many a day.  She sate down at the pianowhichDobbin had bought for herand sang over all herfather'sfavourite old songs.  She pronounced the tea tobeexcellentand praised the exquisite taste in whichthemarmalade was arranged in the saucers.  And indeterminingto make everybody else happyshe foundherselfso; and was sound asleep in the great funerealpavilionand only woke up with a smile when Georgearrivedfrom the theatre.

 

For thenext dayGeorge had more important "business"totransact than that which took him to see Mr.Kean inShylock.  Immediately on his arrival in Londonhe hadwritten off to his father's solicitorssignifying hisroyalpleasure that an interview should take place betweenthem onthe morrow.  His hotel billlosses atbilliardsand cards to Captain Crawley had almost drainedthe youngman's pursewhich wanted replenishing beforehe set outon his travelsand he had no resource buttoinfringe upon the two thousand pounds which theattorneyswere commissioned to pay over to him.  Hehad aperfect belief in his own mind that his fatherwouldrelent before very long.  How could any parentbeobdurate for a length of time against such aparagon ashe was?  If his mere past and personal merits didnotsucceed in mollifying his fatherGeorge determinedthat hewould distinguish himself so prodigiously in theensuingcampaign that the old gentleman must give in tohim. And if not?  Bah! the world was before him.  Hisluck mightchange at cardsand there was a deal ofspendingin two thousand pounds.

 

So he sentoff Amelia once more in a carriage to hermammawith strict orders and carte blanche to the twoladies topurchase everything requisite for a lady of Mrs.GeorgeOsborne's fashionwho was going on a foreigntour. They had but one day to complete the outfitandit may beimagined that their business therefore occupiedthempretty fully.  In a carriage once morebustlingabout frommilliner to linen-draperescorted back to thecarriageby obsequious shopmen or polite ownersMrs.Sedley washerself again almostand sincerely happy forthe firsttime since their misfortunes.  Nor was Mrs.Amelia atall above the pleasure of shoppingandbargainingand seeing and buying pretty things.  (Wouldany manthe most philosophicgive twopence for awoman whowas?)  She gave herself a little treatobedientto her husband's ordersand purchased aquantityof lady's gearshowing a great deal of taste andelegantdiscernmentas all the shopfolks said.

 

And aboutthe war that was ensuingMrs. Osbornewas notmuch alarmed; Bonaparty was to be crushedalmostwithout a struggle.  Margate packets were sailingevery dayfilled with men of fashion and ladies of noteon theirway to Brussels and Ghent.  People were goingnot somuch to a war as to a fashionable tour.  Thenewspaperslaughed the wretched upstart and swindler toscorn. Such a Corsican wretch as that withstand thearmies ofEurope and the genius of the immortalWellington! Amelia held him in utter contempt; for it needsnot to besaid that this soft and gentle creature took heropinionsfrom those people who surrounded hersuchfidelitybeing much too humble-minded to think for itself.Wellin awordshe and her mother performed agreatday's shoppingand she acquitted herself withconsiderableliveliness and credit on this her firstappearancein the genteel world of London.

 

Georgemeanwhilewith his hat on one sidehis elbowssquaredand his swaggering martial airmade forBedfordRowand stalked into the attorney's offices as ifhe waslord of every pale-faced clerk who was scribblingthere. He ordered somebody to inform Mr. Higgs thatCaptainOsborne was waitingin a fierce and patronizingwayas ifthe pekin of an attorneywho had thrice hisbrainsfifty times his moneyand a thousand times hisexperiencewas a wretched underling who shouldinstantlyleave all his business in life to attend on theCaptain'spleasure.  He did not see the sneer of contemptwhichpassed all round the roomfrom the firstclerk tothe articled gentsfrom the articled gents to theraggedwriters and white-faced runnersin clothes tootight forthemas he sate there tapping his boot with hiscaneandthinking what a parcel of miserable poor devilsthesewere.  The miserable poor devils knew all about hisaffairs. They talked about them over their pints of beerat theirpublic-house clubs to other clerks of a night.Ye godswhat do not attorneys and attorneys' clerksknow inLondon!  Nothing is hidden from theirinquisitionand their families mutely rule our city.

 

PerhapsGeorge expectedwhen he entered Mr. Higgs'sapartmentto find that gentleman commissioned to givehim somemessage of compromise or conciliation fromhisfather; perhaps his haughty and cold demeanourwasadopted as a sign of his spirit and resolution:  but ifsohisfierceness was met by a chilling coolness andindifferenceon the attorney's partthat renderedswaggeringabsurd.  He pretended to be writing at a paperwhen theCaptain entered.  "Praysit downsir" said he"andI will attend to your little affair in a moment.  Mr.Poegetthe release papersif you please"; and then hefell towriting again.

 

Poe havingproduced those papershis chief calculatedthe amountof two thousand pounds stock at the rate ofthe day;and asked Captain Osborne whether he wouldtake thesum in a cheque upon the bankersor whetherhe shoulddirect the latter to purchase stock to thatamount. "One of the late Mrs. Osborne's trustees is outof town"he said indifferently"but my client wishes tomeet yourwishesand have done with the business asquick aspossible."

 

"Giveme a chequesir" said the Captain very surlily."Damnthe shillings and halfpencesir" he addedas thelawyer wasmaking out the amount of the draft; andflatteringhimself that by this stroke of magnanimity hehad putthe old quiz to the blushhe stalked out ofthe officewith the paper in his pocket.

 

"Thatchap will be in gaol in two years" Mr. Higgs saidto Mr.Poe.

 

"Won'tO. come roundsirdon't you think?"

 

"Won'tthe monument come round" Mr. Higgs replied.

 

"He'sgoing it pretty fast" said the clerk.  "He's onlymarried aweekand I saw him and some other militarychapshanding Mrs. Highflyer to her carriage after theplay."And then another case was calledand Mr. GeorgeOsbornethenceforth dismissed from these worthygentlemen'smemory.

 

The draftwas upon our friends Hulker and Bullock ofLombardStreetto whose housestill thinking he wasdoingbusinessGeorge bent his wayand from whom hereceivedhis money.  Frederick BullockEsq.whoseyellowface was over a ledgerat which sate a demure clerkhappenedto be in the banking-room when George entered.His yellowface turned to a more deadly colourwhen hesaw the Captainand he slunk back guiltily intothe inmostparlour.  George was too busy gloating overthe money(for he had never had such a sum before)tomark thecountenance or flight of the cadaverous suitorof hissister.

 

FredBullock told old Osborne of his son's appearanceandconduct.  "He came in as bold as brass" saidFrederick. "He has drawn out every shilling.  How longwill a fewhundred pounds last such a chap as that?"Osborneswore with a great oath that he little cared when orhow soonhe spent it.  Fred dined every day in RussellSquarenow.  But altogetherGeorge was highly pleasedwith hisday's business.  All his own baggage and outfitwas putinto a state of speedy preparationand he paidAmelia'spurchases with cheques on his agentsand withthesplendour of a lord.

 

 

 

 

CHAPTERXXVIIInWhich Amelia Joins Her Regiment

 

When Jos'sfine carriage drove up to the inn door atChathamthe first face which Amelia recognized was thefriendlycountenance of Captain Dobbinwho had beenpacing thestreet for an hour past in expectation of hisfriends'arrival.  The Captainwith shells on his frockcoatand acrimson sash and sabrepresented a militaryappearancewhich made Jos quite proud to be able toclaim suchan acquaintanceand the stout civilian hailedhim with acordiality very different from the receptionwhich Josvouchsafed to his friend in Brighton and BondStreet.

 

Along withthe Captain was Ensign Stubble; whoasthebarouche neared the innburst out with an exclamationof "ByJove! what a pretty girl"; highly applaudingOsborne'schoice.  IndeedAmelia dressed in her wedding-pelisseand pink ribbonswith a flush in her faceoccasionedby rapid travel through the open airlooked sofresh andprettyas fully to justify the Ensign's compliment.Dobbinliked him for making it.  As he stepped forwardto helpthe lady out of the carriageStubble sawwhat apretty little hand she gave himand what a sweetprettylittle foot came tripping down the step.  He blushedprofuselyand made the very best bow of which he wascapable;to which Ameliaseeing the number of the theregimentembroidered on the Ensign's capreplied with ablushingsmileand a curtsey on her part; which finishedthe youngEnsign on the spot.  Dobbin took most kindly toMr.Stubble from that dayand encouraged him to talkaboutAmelia in their private walksand at each other'squarters. It became the fashionindeedamong all thehonestyoung fellows of the --th to adore and admireMrs.Osborne.  Her simple artless behaviourandmodestkindness of demeanourwon all their unsophisticatedhearts;all which simplicity and sweetness are quiteimpossibleto describe in print.  But who has not beheldtheseamong womenand recognised the presence of allsorts ofqualities in themeven though they say no moreto youthan that they are engaged to dance the nextquadrilleor that it is very hot weather?  Georgealways thechampionof his regimentrose immensely in the opinionof theyouth of the corpsby his gallantry in marrying thisportionlessyoung creatureand by his choice of such aprettykind partner.

 

In thesitting-room which was awaiting the travellersAmeliatoher surprisefound a letter addressed to Mrs.CaptainOsborne.  It was a triangular billeton pink paperand sealedwith a dove and an olive branchand aprofusionof light blue sealing waxand it was written ina verylargethough undecided female hand.

 

"It'sPeggy O'Dowd's fist" said Georgelaughing.  "Iknow it bythe kisses on the seal." And in factit was anote fromMrs. Major O'Dowdrequesting the pleasureof Mrs.Osborne's company that very evening to a smallfriendlyparty.  "You must go" George said.  "Youwillmakeacquaintance with the regiment there.  O'Dowd goesin commandof the regimentand Peggy goes in command

 

But theyhad not been for many minutes in the enjoymentof Mrs.O'Dowd's letterwhen the door was flungopenanda stout jolly ladyin a riding-habitfollowed bya coupleof officers of Oursentered the room.

 

"SureI couldn't stop till tay-time.  Present meGargemy dearfellowto your lady.  MadamI'm deloighted tosee ye;and to present to you me husbandMeejorO'Dowd";and with thisthe jolly lady in the riding-habitgraspedAmelia's hand very warmlyand the latter knewat oncethat the lady was before her whom her husbandhad sooften laughed at.  "You've often heard of me fromthathusband of yours" said the ladywith great vivacity.

 

"You'veoften heard of her" echoed her husbandtheMajor.

 

Ameliaansweredsmiling"that she had."

 

"Andsmall good he's told you of me" Mrs. O'Dowdreplied;adding that "George was a wicked divvle."

 

"ThatI'll go bail for" said the Majortrying to lookknowingat which George laughed; and Mrs. O'Dowdwith a tapof her whiptold the Major to be quiet; andthenrequested to be presented in form to Mrs. CaptainOsborne.

 

"Thismy dear" said George with great gravity"is myvery goodkindand excellent friendAuralia Margarettaotherwisecalled Peggy."

 

"Faithyou're right" interposed the Major.

 

"Otherwisecalled Peggylady of Major MichaelO'Dowdofour regimentand daughter of FitzjurldBer'sfordde Burgo Malony of GlenmalonyCounty Kildare."

 

"AndMuryan SqueerDoblin" said the lady with calmsuperiority.

 

"AndMuryan Squaresure enough" the Majorwhispered.

 

"'Twasthere ye coorted meMeejor dear" the ladysaid; andthe Major assented to this as to every otherpropositionwhich was made generally in company.

 

MajorO'Dowdwho had served his sovereign in everyquarter ofthe worldand had paid for every step in hisprofessionby some more than equivalent act of daringandgallantrywas the most modestsilentsheep-facedand meekof little menand as obedient to his wife as ifhe hadbeen her tay-boy.  At the mess-table he sat silentlyand dranka great deal.  When full of liquorhereeledsilently home.  When he spokeit was to agree witheverybodyon every conceivable point; and he passedthroughlife in perfect ease and good-humour.  Thehottestsuns of India never heated his temper; and theWalcherenague never shook it.  He walked up to a batterywith justas much indifference as to a dinner-table; haddined onhorse-flesh and turtle with equal relish andappetite;and had an old motherMrs. O'Dowd ofO'Dowdstownindeedwhom he had never disobeyedbut whenhe ran away and enlistedand when he persistedinmarrying that odious Peggy Malony.

 

Peggy wasone of five sistersand eleven children of thenoblehouse of Glenmalony; but her husbandthough herowncousinwas of the mother's sideand so had not theinestimableadvantage of being allied to the Malonyswhom shebelieved to be the most famous family in theworld. Having tried nine seasons at Dublin and two atBath andCheltenhamand not finding a partner for lifeMissMalony ordered her cousin Mick to marry her whenshe wasabout thirty-three years of age; and the honestfellowobeyingcarried her off to the West Indiestopresideover the ladies of the --th regimentinto which hehad justexchanged.

 

BeforeMrs. O'Dowd was half an hour in Amelia's (orindeed inanybody else's) companythis amiable lady toldall herbirth and pedigree to her new friend.  "My dear"said shegood-naturedly"it was my intention that Gargeshould bea brother of my ownand my sister Glorvinawould havesuited him entirely.  But as bygones arebygonesand he was engaged to yourselfwhyI'mdeterminedto take you as a sister insteadand to look uponyou assuchand to love you as one of the family.  Faithyou've gotsuch a nice good-natured face and way widgyouthatI'm sure we'll agree; and that you'll be anadditionto our family anyway."

 

"'Deedand she will" said O'Dowdwith an approvingairandAmelia felt herself not a little amused andgratefulto be thus suddenly introduced to so large aparty ofrelations.

 

"We'reall good fellows here" the Major's lady continued."There'snot a regiment in the service where you'llfind amore united society nor a more agreeable mess-room. There's no quarrellingbickeringslandtheringnorsmall talkamongst us.  We all love each other."

 

"EspeciallyMrs. Magenis" said Georgelaughing.

 

"Mrs.Captain Magenis and me has made upthoughhertreatment of me would bring me gray hairs withsorrow tothe grave."

 

"Andyou with such a beautiful front of blackPeggymy dear"the Major cried.

 

"Houldyour tongueMickyou booby.  Them husbandsare alwaysin the wayMrs. Osbornemy dear; and asfor myMickI often tell him he should never open hismouth butto give the word of commandor to put meatand drinkinto it.  I'll tell you about the regimentandwarn youwhen we're alone.  Introduce me to your brothernow; surehe's a mighty fine manand reminds me of mecousinDan Malony (Malony of Ballymalonymy dearyou knowwho mar'ied Ophalia Scullyof Oystherstownown cousinto Lord Poldoody).  Mr. SedleysirI'mdeloightedto be made known te ye.  I suppose you'll dineat themess to-day.  (Mind that divvle of a doctherMickandwhatever ye dukeep yourself sober for me partythisevening.)"

 

"It'sthe 150th gives us a farewell dinnermy love"interposedthe Major"but we'll easy get a card for Mr.Sedley."

 

"RunSimple (Ensign Simpleof Oursmy dear Amelia.I forgotto introjuice him to ye).  Run in a hurrywithMrs. MajorO'Dowd's compliments to Colonel TavishandCaptain Osborne has brought his brothernlaw downand willbring him to the 150th mess at five o'clock sharp--when youand Imy dearwill take a snack hereif youlike." Before Mrs. O'Dowd's speech was concludedtheyoungEnsign was trotting downstairs on his commission.

 

"Obedienceis the soul of the army.  We will go to ourduty whileMrs. O'Dowd will stay and enlighten youEmmy"Captain Osborne said; and the two gentlementakingeach a wing of the Majorwalked out with thatofficergrinning at each other over his head.

 

Andnowhaving her new friend to herselfthe impetuousMrs:O'Dowd proceeded to pour out such aquantityof information as no poor little woman's memorycould evertax itself to bear.  She told Amelia a thousandparticularsrelative to the very numerous family of whichthe amazedyoung lady found herself a member.  "Mrs.Heavytopthe Colonel's wifedied in Jamaica of theyellowfaver and a broken heart comboinedfor the horrudoldColonelwith a head as bald as a cannon-ballwasmakingsheep's eyes at a half-caste girl there.  Mrs.Magenisthough without educationwas a good womanbut shehad the divvle's tongueand would cheat her ownmother atwhist.  Mrs. Captain Kirk must turn up herlobstereyes forsooth at the idea of an honest round game(whereinme fawtheras pious a man as ever went tochurchmeuncle Dane Malonyand our cousin theBishoptook a hand at looor whistevery night of theirlives). Nayther of 'em's goin' with the regiment this time"Mrs.O'Dowd added.  "Fanny Magenis stops with hermotherwho sells small coal and potatoesmost likelyinIslington-townhard by Londonthough she's alwaysbraggingof her father's shipsand pointing them out to usas they goup the river:  and Mrs. Kirk and her childrenwill stophere in Bethesda Placeto be nigh to her favouritepreacherDr. Ramshorn.  Mrs. Bunny's in an interestingsituation--faithand she always isthen--and hasgiven theLieutenant seven already.  And Ensign Posky'swifewhojoined two months before youmy dearhasquarl'dwith Tom Posky a score of timestill you canhear'm allover the bar'ck (they say they're come tobrokenpleetsand Tom never accounted for his black oi)and she'llgo back to her motherwho keeps a ladies'siminaryat Richmond--bad luck to her for running awayfrom it! Where did ye get your finishingmy dear?  I hadmoinandno expince sparedat Madame Flanahan'satIlyssusGroveBooterstownnear Dublinwid a Marchionessto teachus the true Parisian pronunciationand a retiredMejor-Generalof the French service to put usthroughthe exercise."

 

Of thisincongruous family our astonished Amelia foundherselfall of a sudden a member:  with Mrs. O'Dowd asan eldersister.  She was presented to her other femalerelationsat tea-timeon whomas she was quietgood-naturedand not too handsomeshe made rather anagreeableimpression until the arrival of the gentlemen fromthe messof the 150thwho all admired her sothat hersistersbeganof courseto find fault with her.

 

"Ihope Osborne has sown his wild oats" said Mrs.Magenis toMrs. Bunny.  "If a reformed rake makes agoodhusbandsure it's she will have the fine chance withGarge"Mrs. O'Dowd remarked to Poskywho had lostherposition as bride in the regimentand was quite angrywith theusurper.  And as for Mrs. Kirk:  that disciple ofDr.Ramshorn put one or two leading professionalquestionsto Ameliato see whether she was awakenedwhethershe was a professing Christian and so forthandfindingfrom the simplicity of Mrs. Osborne's replies thatshe wasyet in utter darknessput into her hands threelittlepenny books with picturesviz.the "HowlingWilderness"the "Washerwoman of Wandsworth Common"and the"British Soldier's best Bayonet" whichbent uponawakeningher before she sleptMrs. Kirk begged Ameliato readthat night ere she went to bed.

 

But allthe menlike good fellows as they wereralliedroundtheir comrade's pretty wifeand paid her theircourt withsoldierly gallantry.  She had a little triumphwhichflushed her spirits and made her eyes sparkle.George wasproud of her popularityand pleased with themanner(which was very gay and gracefulthough naiveand alittle timid) with which she received the gentlemen's attentionsandanswered their compliments.  Andhe in hisuniform--how much handsomer he was thanany man inthe room!  She felt that he was affectionatelywatchingherand glowed with pleasure at his kindness.  "Iwill makeall his friends welcome" she resolved in herheart. "I will love all as I love him.  I will always try andbe gay andgood-humoured and make his home happy."

 

Theregiment indeed adopted her with acclamation.TheCaptains approvedthe Lieutenants applaudedtheEnsignsadmired.  Old Cutlerthe Doctormade one ortwo jokeswhichbeing professionalneed not be repeated;andCacklethe Assistant M.D. of Edinburghcondescendedto examineher upon leeteratureand tried herwith histhree best French quotations.  Young Stubble wentabout fromman to man whispering"Joveisn't she aprettygal?" and never took his eyes off her except whenthe neguscame in.

 

As forCaptain Dobbinhe never so much as spoke toher duringthe whole evening.  But he and Captain Porterof thel50th took home Jos to the hotelwho was in averymaudlin stateand had told his tiger-hunt story withgreateffectboth at the mess-table and at the soireetoMrs.O'Dowd in her turban and bird of paradise.  Havingput theCollector into the hands of his servantDobbinloiteredaboutsmoking his cigar before the inn door.George hadmeanwhile very carefully shawled his wifeandbrought her away from Mrs. O'Dowd's after a generalhandshakingfrom the young officerswho accompaniedher to theflyand cheered that vehicle as it drove off.  SoAmeliagave Dobbin her little hand as she got out of thecarriageand rebuked him smilingly for not having takenany noticeof her all night.

 

TheCaptain continued that deleterious amusement ofsmokinglong after the inn and the street were gone tobed. He watched the lights vanish from George's sitting-roomwindowsand shine out in the bedroom close athand. It was almost morning when he returned to his ownquarters. He could hear the cheering from the ships inthe riverwhere the transports were already taking intheircargoes preparatory to dropping down the Thames.

 

 

 

 

 

CHAPTERXVIIIInWhich Amelia Invades the Low Countries

 

Theregiment with its officers was to be transported inshipsprovided by His Majesty's government for theoccasion: and in two days after the festive assembly at Mrs.O'Dowd'sapartmentsin the midst of cheering from allthe EastIndia ships in the riverand the military on shorethe bandplaying "God Save the King" the officers wavingtheirhatsand the crews hurrahing gallantlythe transportswent downthe river and proceeded under convoy toOstend. Meanwhile the gallant Jos had agreed to escorthis sisterand the Major's wifethe bulk of whose goodsandchattelsincluding the famous bird of paradise andturbanwere with the regimental baggage: so that ourtwoheroines drove pretty much unencumbered toRamsgatewhere there were plenty of packets plyinginone ofwhich they had a speedy passage to Ostend.

 

Thatperiod of Jos's life which now ensued was so fullofincidentthat it served him for conversation formany yearsafterand even the tiger-hunt story was putaside formore stirring narratives which he had to tellabout thegreat campaign of Waterloo.  As soon as hehad agreedto escort his sister abroadit was remarkedthat heceased shaving his upper lip.  At Chatham hefollowedthe parades and drills with great assiduity.  Helistenedwith the utmost attention to the conversation ofhisbrother officers (as he called them in after dayssometimes)and learned as many military names as he could.In thesestudies the excellent Mrs. O'Dowd was of greatassistanceto him; and on the day finally when theyembarkedon board the Lovely Rosewhich was to carrythem totheir destinationhe made his appearance in abraidedfrock-coat and duck trouserswith a foragingcapornamented with a smart gold band.  Having hiscarriagewith himand informing everybody on boardconfidentiallythat he was going to join the Duke ofWellington'sarmyfolks mistook him for a great personageacommissary-generalor a government courier at the veryleast.

 

Hesuffered hugely on the voyageduring which theladieswere likewise prostrate; but Amelia was brought tolife againas the packet made Ostendby the sight ofthetransports conveying her regimentwhich entered theharbouralmost at the same time with the Lovely Rose.Jos wentin a collapsed state to an innwhile CaptainDobbinescorted the ladiesand then busied himself infreeingJos's carriage and luggage from the ship and thecustom-housefor Mr. Jos was at present without aservantOsborne's man and his own pampered menialhavingconspired together at Chathamand refused point-blank tocross the water.  This revoltwhich came verysuddenlyand on the last dayso alarmed Mr. Sedleyjuniorthat he was on the point of giving up the expeditionbutCaptain Dobbin (who made himself immenselyofficiousin the businessJos said)rated him andlaughed athim soundly:  the mustachios were grown inadvanceand Jos finally was persuaded to embark.  Inplace ofthe well-bred and well-fed London domesticswho couldonly speak EnglishDobbin procured for Jos'sparty aswarthy little Belgian servant who could speaknolanguage at all; but whoby his bustling behaviourand byinvariably addressing Mr. Sedley as "My lord"speedilyacquired that gentleman's favour.  Times arealtered atOstend now; of the Britons who go thithervery fewlook like lordsor act like those members ofourhereditary aristocracy.  They seem for the most partshabby inattiredingy of linenlovers of billiards andbrandyand cigars and greasy ordinaries.

 

But it maybe said as a rulethat every Englishmanin theDuke of Wellington's army paid his way.  Theremembranceof such a fact surely becomes a nation ofshopkeepers. It was a blessing for a commerce-lovingcountry tobe overrun by such an army of customers:and tohave such creditable warriors to feed.  And thecountrywhich they came to protect is not military.  Fora longperiod of history they have let other people fightthere. When the present writer went to survey with eagleglance thefield of Waterloowe asked the conductor ofthediligencea portly warlike-looking veteranwhetherhe hadbeen at the battle.  "Pas si bete"--such ananswer andsentiment as no Frenchman would own to--was hisreply.  Buton the other handthe postilionwho droveus was a Viscounta son of some bankruptImperialGeneralwho accepted a pennyworth of beeron theroad.  The moral is surely a good one.

 

This flatflourishingeasy country never could havelookedmore rich and prosperous than in that openingsummer of1815when its green fields and quiet citieswereenlivened by multiplied red-coats: when its widechausseesswarmed with brilliant English equipages:when itsgreat canal-boatsgliding by rich pastures andpleasantquaint old villagesby old chateaux lyingamongstold treeswere all crowded with well-to-do Englishtravellers:when the soldier who drank at the villageinnnotonly drankbut paid his score; and DonaldtheHighlanderbilleted in the Flemish farm-houserocked thebaby's cradlewhile Jean and Jeannette wereoutgetting in the hay.  As our painters are bent on militarysubjectsjust nowI throw out this as a good subjectfor thepencilto illustrate the principle of an honestEnglishwar.  All looked as brilliant and harmless as aHyde Parkreview.  MeanwhileNapoleon screened behindhiscurtain of frontier-fortresseswas preparing fortheoutbreak which was to drive all these orderly peopleinto furyand blood; and lay so many of them low.

 

Everybodyhad such a perfect feeling of confidencein theleader (for the resolute faith which the Duke ofWellingtonhad inspired in the whole English nation wasas intenseas that more frantic enthusiasm with whichat onetime the French regarded Napoleon)the countryseemed inso perfect a state of orderly defenceand thehelp athand in case of need so near and overwhelmingthat alarmwas unknownand our travellersamongwhom twowere naturally of a very timid sortwerelike allthe other multiplied English touristsentirely atease. The famous regimentwith so many of whoseofficerswe have made acquaintancewas drafted in canalboats toBruges and Ghentthence to march to Brussels.Josaccompanied the ladies in the public boats; the whichall oldtravellers in Flanders must remember for theluxury andaccommodation they afforded.  So prodigiouslygood wasthe eating and drinking on board thesesluggishbut most comfortable vesselsthat there are legendsextant ofan English travellerwhocoming to Belgiumfor aweekand travelling in one of these boatswas sodelightedwith the fare there that he went backwardsandforwards from Ghent to Bruges perpetually until therailroadswere inventedwhen he drowned himself on thelast tripof the passage-boat.  Jos's death was not to beof thissortbut his comfort was exceedingand Mrs.O'Dowdinsisted that he only wanted her sister Glorvinato makehis happiness complete.  He sate on the roofof thecabin all day drinking Flemish beershouting forIsidorhis servantand talking gallantly to the ladies.

 

Hiscourage was prodigious.  "Boney attack us!" hecried. "My dear creaturemy poor Emmydon't befrightened. There's no danger.  The allies will be in Parisin twomonthsI tell you; when I'll take you to dinein thePalais Royalby Jove!  There are three hundredthousandRooshiansI tell younow entering France byMayenceand the Rhine--three hundred thousand underWittgensteinand Barclay de Tollymy poor love.  Youdon't knowmilitary affairsmy dear.  I doand I tellyouthere's no infantry in France can stand againstRooshianinfantryand no general of Boney's that's fitto hold acandle to Wittgenstein.  Then there are theAustriansthey are five hundred thousand if a manandthey arewithin ten marches of the frontier by this timeunderSchwartzenberg and Prince Charles.  Then there aretheProoshians under the gallant Prince Marshal.  Showme acavalry chief like him now that Murat is gone.HeyMrs.O'Dowd?  Do you think our little girl hereneed beafraid?  Is there any cause for fearIsidor?  Heysir? Get some more beer."

 

Mrs.O'Dowd said that her "Glorvina was not afraidof any manalivelet alone a Frenchman" and tossedoff aglass of beer with a wink which expressed herliking forthe beverage.

 

Havingfrequently been in presence of the enemyorin otherwordsfaced the ladies at Cheltenham and Bathourfriendthe Collectorhad lost a great deal of hispristinetimidityand was nowespecially when fortifiedwithliquoras talkative as might be.  He was rather afavouritewith the regimenttreating the young officerswithsumptuosityand amusing them by his military airs.And asthere is one well-known regiment of the armywhichtravels with a goat heading the columnwhilstanother isled by a deerGeorge said with respect to hisbrother-in-lawthat his regiment marched with anelephant.

 

SinceAmelia's introduction to the regimentGeorgebegan tobe rather ashamed of some of the company towhich hehad been forced to present her; and determinedas he toldDobbin (with what satisfaction to the latterit neednot be said)to exchange into some better regimentsoonandto get his wife away from those damnedvulgarwomen.  But this vulgarity of being ashamed ofone'ssociety is much more common among men thanwomen(except very great ladies of fashionwhoto besureindulge in it); and Mrs. Ameliaa natural andunaffectedpersonhad none of that artificial shamefacednesswhich herhusband mistook for delicacy on his ownpart. Thus Mrs. O'Dowd had a cock's plume in her hatand a verylarge "repayther" on her stomachwhich sheused toring on all occasionsnarrating how it had beenpresentedto her by her fawtheras she stipt into thecar'geafter her mar'ge; and these ornamentswith otheroutwardpeculiarities of the Major's wifegave excruciatingagonies toCaptain Osbornewhen his wife and theMajor'scame in contact; whereas Amelia was onlyamused bythe honest lady's eccentricitiesand not inthe leastashamed of her company.

 

As theymade that well-known journeywhich almosteveryEnglishman of middle rank has travelled sincetheremight have been more instructivebut few moreentertainingcompanions than Mrs. Major O'Dowd.  "Talkaboutkenal boats; my dear!  Ye should see the kenalboatsbetween Dublin and Ballinasloe.  It's there the rapidtravellingis; and the beautiful cattle.  Sure me fawthergot agoold medal (and his Excellency himself eat a sliceof itandsaid never was finer mate in his loif) for afour-year-oldheiferthe like of which ye never saw inthiscountry any day." And Jos owned with a sigh"thatfor goodstreaky beefreally mingled with fat and leanthere wasno country like England."

 

"ExceptIrelandwhere all your best mate comes from"said theMajor's lady; proceedingas is not unusual withpatriotsof her nationto make comparisons greatly infavour ofher own country.  The idea of comparing themarket atBruges with those of Dublinalthough she hadsuggestedit herselfcaused immense scorn and derisionon herpart.  "I'll thank ye tell me what they mean bythat oldgazabo on the top of the market-place" saidshein aburst of ridicule fit to have brought the oldtowerdown.  The place was full of English soldiery astheypassed.  English bugles woke them in the morning;atnightfall they went to bed to the note of the Britishfife anddrum:  all the country and Europe was in armsand thegreatest event of history pending:  and honestPeggyO'Dowdwhom it concerned as well as anotherwent onprattling about Ballinafadand the horses in thestables atGlenmalonyand the clar't drunk there; andJos Sedleyinterposed about curry and rice at Dumdum;and Ameliathought about her husbandand how bestshe shouldshow her love for him; as if these werethe greattopics of the world.

 

Those wholike to lay down the History-bookand tospeculateupon what MIGHT have happened in the worldbut forthe fatal occurrence of what actually did takeplace (amost puzzlingamusingingeniousand profitablekind ofmeditation)have no doubt often thought tothemselveswhat a specially bad time Napoleon took tocome backfrom Elbaand to let loose his eagle fromGulf SanJuan to Notre Dame.  The historians on ourside tellus that the armies of the allied powers wereallprovidentially on a war-footingand ready to beardown at amoment's notice upon the Elban Emperor.The augustjobbers assembled at Viennaand carvingout thekingdoms of Europe according to their wisdomhad suchcauses of quarrel among themselves as mighthave setthe armies which had overcome Napoleon tofightagainst each otherbut for the return of the objectofunanimous hatred and fear.  This monarch had an armyin fullforce because he had jobbed to himself Polandand wasdetermined to keep it:  another had robbed halfSaxonyand was bent upon maintaining his acquisition:Italy wasthe object of a third's solicitude.  Each wasprotestingagainst the rapacity of the other; and could theCorsicanbut have waited in prison until all these partieswere bythe earshe might have returned and reignedunmolested. But what would have become of our storyand allour friendsthen?  If all the drops in it were driedupwhatwould become of the sea?

 

In themeanwhile the business of life and livingandthepursuits of pleasureespeciallywent on as if no endwere to beexpected to themand no enemy in front.When ourtravellers arrived at Brusselsin which theirregimentwas quartereda great piece of good fortuneas allsaidthey found themselves in one of the gayestand mostbrilliant little capitals in Europeand whereall theVanity Fair booths were laid out with the mosttemptingliveliness and splendour.  Gambling was here inprofusionand dancing in plenty:  feasting was there tofill withdelight that great gourmand of a Jos:  therewas atheatre where a miraculous Catalani was delightingallhearers:  beautiful ridesall enlivened with martialsplendour;a rare old citywith strange costumes andwonderfularchitectureto delight the eyes of little Ameliawho hadnever before seen a foreign countryand fillher withcharming surprises: so that now and for a fewweeks'space in a fine handsome lodgingwhereof theexpenseswere borne by Jos and Osbornewho was flushof moneyand full of kind attentions to his wife--forabout afortnightI sayduring which her honeymoonendedMrs. Amelia was as pleased and happy as anylittlebride out of England.

 

Every dayduring this happy time there was noveltyandamusement for all parties.  There was a church toseeor apicture-gallery--there was a rideor an opera.The bandsof the regiments were making music at allhours. The greatest folks of England walked in the Park--therewas a perpetual military festival.  Georgetakingout hiswife to a new jaunt or junket every nightwasquitepleased with himself as usualand swore he wasbecomingquite a domestic character.  And a jaunt ora junketwith HIM!  Was it not enough to set this littleheartbeating with joy?  Her letters home to her motherwerefilled with delight and gratitude at this season.  Herhusbandbade her buy lacesmillineryjewelsandgimcracksof all sorts.  Ohhe was the kindestbestandmostgenerous of men!

 

The sightof the very great company of lords and ladiesandfashionable persons who thronged the townandappearedin every public placefilled George's truly Britishsoul withintense delight.  They flung off that happyfrigidityand insolence of demeanour which occasionallycharacterisesthe great at homeand appearing innumberlesspublic placescondescended to mingle with therest ofthe company whom they met there.  One nightat a partygiven by the general of the division to whichGeorge'sregiment belongedhe had the honour of dancingwith LadyBlanche ThistlewoodLord Bareacres'daughter;he bustled for ices and refreshments for thetwo nobleladies; he pushed and squeezed for LadyBareacres'carriage; he bragged about the Countess whenhe gothomein a way which his own father could nothavesurpassed.  He called upon the ladies the next day;he rode bytheir side in the Park; he asked their partyto a greatdinner at a restaurateur'sand was quitewild withexultation when they agreed to come.  OldBareacreswho had not much pride and a large appetitewould gofor a dinner anywhere.

 

"I.hopethere will be no women besides our ownparty"Lady Bareacres saidafter reflecting upon theinvitationwhich had been madeand accepted with toomuchprecipitancy.

 

"GraciousHeavenMamma--you don't suppose theman wouldbring his wife" shrieked Lady Blanchewhohad beenlanguishing in George's arms in the newlyimportedwaltz for hours the night before.  "The men arebearablebut their women--"

 

"Wifejust marrieddev'lish pretty womanI hear"the oldEarl said.

 

"Wellmy dear Blanche" said the mother"I supposeas Papawants to gowe must go; but we needn't knowthem inEnglandyou know." And sodetermined to cuttheir newacquaintance in Bond Streetthese great folkswent toeat his dinner at Brusselsand condescending tomake himpay for their pleasureshowed their dignityby makinghis wife uncomfortableand carefully excludingher fromthe conversation.  This is a species of dignityin whichthe high-bred British female reigns supreme.  Towatch thebehaviour of a fine lady to other and humblerwomenisa very good sport for a philosophical frequenterof VanityFair.

 

Thisfestivalon which honest George spent a greatdeal ofmoneywas the very dismallest of all theentertainmentswhich Amelia had in her honeymoon.  Shewrote themost piteous accounts of the feast home tohermamma:  how the Countess of Bareacres would notanswerwhen spoken to; how Lady Blanche stared at herwith hereye-glass; and what a rage Captain Dobbin wasin attheir behaviour; and how my lordas they cameaway fromthe feastasked to see the billand pronouncedit a d--bad dinnerand d-- dear.  But though Ameliatold allthese storiesand wrote home regardingherguests' rudenessand her own discomfitureold Mrs.Sedley was mightily pleased neverthelessand talkedabout Emmy's friendthe Countess ofBareacreswith such assiduity that the news how his sonwasentertaining peers and peeresses actually came toOsborne'sears in the City.

 

Those whoknow the present Lieutenant-General SirGeorgeTuftoK.C.B.and have seen himas they mayon mostdays in the seasonpadded and in staysstruttingdown PallMall with a rickety swagger on his high-heeledlacqueredbootsleering under the bonnets of passers-byorriding a showy chestnutand ogling broughams intheParks--those who know the present Sir George Tuftowouldhardly recognise the daring Peninsular and Waterlooofficer. He has thick curling brown hair and blackeyebrowsnowand his whiskers are of the deepestpurple. He was light-haired and bald in 1815and stouterin theperson and in the limbswhich especially haveshrunkvery much of late.  When he was about seventyyears ofage (he is now nearly eighty)his hairwhichwas veryscarce and quite whitesuddenly grew thickand brownand curlyand his whiskers and eyebrowstook theirpresent colour.  Ill-natured people say thathis chestis all wooland that his hairbecause it nevergrowsisa wig.  Tom Tuftowith whose father he quarrelledever somany years agodeclares that Mademoisellede Jaiseyof the French theatrepulled hisgrandpapa'shair off in the green-room; but Tom isnotoriouslyspiteful and jealous; and the General's wig hasnothing todo with our story.

 

One dayas some of our friends of the --th weresaunteringin the flower-market of Brusselshaving beento see theHotel de Villewhich Mrs. Major O'Dowddeclaredwas not near so large or handsome as herfawther'smansion of Glenmalonyan officer of rankwithan orderlybehind himrode up to the marketanddescendingfrom his horsecame amongst the flowersandselectedthe very finest bouquet which money could buy.Thebeautiful bundle being tied up in a paperthe officerremountedgiving the nosegay into the charge of hismilitarygroomwho carried it with a grinfollowing hischiefwhorode away in great state and self-satisfaction.

 

"Youshould see the flowers at Glenmalony" Mrs.O'Dowd wasremarking.  "Me fawther has three Scotchgarnerswith nine helpers.  We have an acre of hot-housesand pinesas common as pays in the sayson.  Our greepsweighs sixpounds every bunch of 'emand upon mehonour andconscience I think our magnolias is as bigastaykettles."

 

Dobbinwho never used to "draw out" Mrs. O'Dowdas thatwicked Osborne delighted in doing (much toAmelia'sterrorwho implored him to spare her)fellback inthe crowdcrowing and sputtering until hereached asafe distancewhen he exploded amongst theastonishedmarket-people with shrieks of yelling laughter.

 

"Hwhat'sthat gawky guggling about?" said Mrs.O'Dowd. "Is it his nose bleedn?  He always used to say'twas hisnose bleedntill he must have pomped all theblood outof 'um.  An't the magnolias at Glenmalonyas big astaykettlesO'Dowd?"

 

"'Deedthen they areand biggerPeggy" the Majorsaid. When the conversation was interrupted in themannerstated by the arrival of the officer who purchasedthebouquet.

 

"Devlishfine horse--who is it?" George asked.

 

"Youshould see me brother Molloy Malony's horseMolassesthat won the cop at the Curragh" the Major'swife wasexclaimingand was continuing the familyhistorywhen her husband interrupted her by saying--

 

"It'sGeneral Tuftowho commands the ---- cavalrydivision";adding quietly"he and I were both shot inthe sameleg at Talavera."

 

"Whereyou got your step" said George with a laugh."GeneralTufto! Thenmy dearthe Crawleys are come."

 

Amelia'sheart fell--she knew not why.  The sun didnot seemto shine so bright.  The tall old roofs andgableslooked less picturesque all of a suddenthoughit was abrilliant sunsetand one of the brightest andmostbeautiful days at the end of May.

 

 

 

 

CHAPTERXXIXBrussels

 

Mr. Joshad hired a pair of horses for his open carriagewith whichcattleand the smart London vehiclehe madea verytolerable figure in the drives about Brussels.Georgepurchased a horse for his private ridingandhe andCaptain Dobbin would often accompany thecarriagein which Jos and his sister took daily excursionsofpleasure.  They went out that day in the park for theiraccustomeddiversionand theresure enoughGeorge'sremarkwith regard to the arrival of Rawdon Crawley andhis wifeproved to be correct.  In the midst of a littletroop ofhorsemenconsisting of some of the very greatestpersons inBrusselsRebecca was seen in the prettiestandtightest of riding-habitsmounted on a beautifullittleArabwhich she rode to perfection (having acquiredthe art atQueen's Crawleywhere the BaronetMr.PittandRawdon himself had given her many lessons)and by theside of the gallant General Tufto.

 

"Sureit's the Juke himself" cried Mrs. Major O'Dowdto Joswho began to blush violently; "and that's LordUxbridgeon the bay.  How elegant he looks!  Me brotherMolloyMalonyis as like him as two pays."

 

Rebeccadid not make for the carriage; but as soonas sheperceived her old acquaintance Amelia seated initacknowledged her presence by a gracious nod andsmileandby kissing and shaking her fingers playfullyin thedirection of the vehicle.  Then she resumed herconversationwith General Tuftowho asked "who thefatofficer was in the gold-laced cap?" on which Beckyreplied"that he was an officer in the East Indian service."But RawdonCrawley rode out of the ranks of hiscompanyand came up and shook hands heartily withAmeliaand said to Jos"Wellold boyhow are you?"and staredin Mrs. O'Dowd's face and at.the black cock'sfeathersuntil she began to think she had made aconquestof him.

 

Georgewho had been delayed behindrode up almostimmediatelywith Dobbinand they touched their caps tothe augustpersonagesamong whom Osborne at onceperceivedMrs. Crawley.  He was delighted to see Rawdonleaningover his carriage familiarly and talking to Ameliaand metthe aide-de-camp's cordial greeting with morethancorresponding warmth.  The nods between Rawdonand Dobbinwere of the very faintest specimens ofpoliteness.

 

Crawleytold George where they were stopping withGeneralTufto at the Hotel du Parcand George madehis friendpromise to come speedily to Osborne's ownresidence. "Sorry I hadn't seen you three days ago"Georgesaid.  "Had a dinner at the Restaurateur's--rather anicething.  Lord Bareacresand the Countessand LadyBlanchewere good enough to dine with us--wish we'dhad you."Having thus let his friend know his claims to bea man offashionOsborne parted from Rawdonwhofollowedthe august squadron down an alley into whichtheycanteredwhile George and Dobbin resumed theirplacesone on each side of Amelia's carriage.

 

"Howwell the Juke looked" Mrs. O'Dowd remarked."TheWellesleys and Malonys are related; butof coursepoor Iwould never dream of introjuicing myself unlesshis Gracethought proper to remember our family-tie."

 

"He'sa great soldier" Jos saidmuch more at easenow thegreat man was gone.  "Was there ever a battlewon likeSalamanca?  HeyDobbin?  But where was it helearnt hisart?  In Indiamy boy!  The jungle's the schoolfor ageneralmark me that.  I knew him myselftooMrs.O'Dowd:  we both of us danced the same eveningwith MissCutlerdaughter of Cutler of the Artilleryanda devilishfine girlat Dumdum."

 

Theapparition of the great personages held themall intalk during the drive; and at dinner; and until thehour camewhen they were all to go to the Opera.

 

It wasalmost like Old England.  The house was filledwithfamiliar British facesand those toilettes for whichtheBritish female has long been celebrated.  Mrs.O'Dowd'swas not the least splendid amongst theseandshe had acurl on her foreheadand a set of Irish diamondsandCairngormswhich outshone all the decorationsin thehousein her notion.  Her presence used toexcruciateOsborne; but go she would upon all parties ofpleasureon which she heard her young friends were bent.It neverentered into her thought but that they must becharmedwith her company.

 

"She'sbeen useful to youmy dear" George said tohis wifewhom he could leave alone with less scruplewhen shehad this society.  "But what a comfort it is thatRebecca'scome:  you will have her for a friendand wemay getrid now of this damn'd Irishwoman."  To thisAmelia didnot answeryes or no:  and how do we knowwhat herthoughts were?

 

The coupd'oeil of the Brussels opera-house did notstrikeMrs. O'Dowd as being so fine as the theatre inFishambleStreetDublinnor was French music at allequalinher opinionto the melodies of her native country.Shefavoured her friends with these and other opinionsin a veryloud tone of voiceand tossed about agreatclattering fan she sportedwith the most splendidcomplacency.

 

"Whois that wonderful woman with AmeliaRawdonlove?"said a lady in an opposite box (whoalmost alwayscivil toher husband in privatewas more fond thanever ofhim in company).

 

"Don'tyou see that creature with a yellow thing inherturbanand a red satin gownand a great watch?"

 

"Nearthe pretty little woman in white?" asked amiddle-agedgentleman seated by the querist's sidewithorders inhis buttonand several under-waistcoatsanda greatchokywhite stock.

 

"Thatpretty woman in white is AmeliaGeneral:  youareremarking all the pretty womenyou naughty man."

 

"Onlyonebegadin the world!" said the Generaldelightedand thelady gave him a tap with a large bouquetwhich shehad.

 

"Bedadit's him" said Mrs. O'Dowd; "and that's thevery bokayhe bought in the Marshy aux Flures!" andwhenRebeccahaving caught her friend's eyeperformedthe littlehand-kissing operation once moreMrs. MajorO'D.taking the compliment to herselfreturned the salutewith agracious smilewhich sent that unfortunateDobbinshrieking out of the box again.

 

At the endof the actGeorge was out of the box in amomentand he was even going to pay his respects toRebecca inher loge.  He met Crawley in the lobbyhoweverwhere theyexchanged a few sentences upon theoccurrencesof the last fortnight.

 

"Youfound my cheque all right at the agent's?Georgesaidwith a knowing air.

 

"Allrightmy boy" Rawdon answered.  "Happy to giveyou yourrevenge.  Governor come round?"

 

"Notyet" said George"but he will; and you know I'vesomeprivate fortune through my mother.  Has Auntyrelented?"

 

"Sentme twenty pounddamned old screw.  When shallwe have ameet?  The General dines out on Tuesday.Can't youcome Tuesday?  I saymake Sedley cut off hismoustache. What the devil does a civilian mean with amoustacheand those infernal frogs to his coat!  By-bye.Try andcome on Tuesday"; and Rawdon was going-offwith twobrilliant young gentlemen of fashionwho werelikehimselfon the staff of a general officer.

 

George wasonly half pleased to be asked to dinner onthatparticular day when the General was not to dine.  "Iwill go inand pay my respects to your wife" said he; atwhichRawdon said"Hmas you please" looking veryglumandat which the two young officers exchangedknowingglances.  George parted from them and strutteddown thelobby to the General's boxthe number of whichhe hadcarefully counted.

 

"Entrez"said a clear little voiceand our friend foundhimself inRebecca's presence; who jumped upclappedher handstogetherand held out both of them to Georgeso charmedwas she to see him.  The Generalwith theorders inhis buttonstared at the newcomer with a sulkyscowlasmuch as to saywho the devil are you?

 

"Mydear Captain George!" cried little Rebecca in anecstasy. "How good of you to come.  The General and Iweremoping together tete-a-tete.  Generalthis is myCaptainGeorge of whom you heard me talk."

 

"Indeed"said the Generalwith a very small bow; "ofwhatregiment is Captain George?"

 

Georgementioned the --th:  how he wished he couldhave saidit was a crack cavalry corps.

 

"Comehome lately from the West IndiesI believe.Not seenmuch service in the late war.  Quartered hereCaptainGeorge?"--the General went on with killinghaughtiness.

 

"NotCaptain Georgeyou stupid man; Captain Osborne"Rebeccasaid.  The General all the while was lookingsavagelyfrom one to the other.

 

"CaptainOsborneindeed! Any relation to the L--Osbornes?"

 

"Webear the same arms" George saidas indeed wasthe fact;Mr. Osborne having consulted with a herald inLong Acreand picked the L-- arms out of the peeragewhen heset up his carriage fifteen years before.  TheGeneralmade no reply to this announcement; but tookup hisopera-glass--the double-barrelled lorgnon was notinventedin those days--and pretended to examine thehouse; butRebecca saw that his disengaged eye wasworkinground in her directionand shooting outbloodshotglances at her and George.

 

Sheredoubled in cordiality.  "How is dearest Amelia?But Ineedn't ask: how pretty she looks!  And who is thatnicegood-natured looking creature with her--a flame ofyours? Oyou wicked men!  And there is Mr. SedleyeatingiceI declare: how he seems to enjoy it!  Generalwhyhave wenot had any ices?"

 

"ShallI go and fetch you some?" said the Generalburstingwith wrath.

 

"LetME goI entreat you" George said.

 

"NoI will go to Amelia's box.  Dearsweet girl!  Giveme yourarmCaptain George"; and so sayingand with anod to theGeneralshe tripped into the lobby.  She gaveGeorge thequeerestknowingest lookwhen they weretogethera look which might have been interpreted"Don'tyou see the state of affairsand what a fool I'mmaking ofhim?"  But he did not perceive it.  He wasthinkingof his own plansand lost in pompous admirationof his ownirresistible powers of pleasing.

 

The cursesto which the General gave a low utteranceas soon asRebecca and her conqueror had quitted himwere sodeepthat I am sure no compositor wouldventure toprint them were they written down.  They camefrom theGeneral's heart; and a wonderful thing it is tothink thatthe human heart is capable of generating suchproduceand can throw outas occasion demandssucha supplyof lust and furyrage and hatred.

 

Amelia'sgentle eyestoohad been fixed anxiously onthe pairwhose conduct had so chafed the jealous General;but whenRebecca entered her boxshe flew to herfriendwith an affectionate rapture which showed itselfinspite ofthe publicity of the place; for she embraced herdearestfriend in the presence of the whole houseat leastin fullview of the General's glassnow brought to bearupon theOsborne party.  Mrs. Rawdon saluted Jostoowith thekindliest greeting: she admired Mrs. O'Dowd'slargeCairngorm brooch and superb Irish diamondsandwouldn'tbelieve that they were not from Golconda direct.Shebustledshe chatteredshe turned and twistedand smiledupon oneand smirked on anotherall in fullview ofthe jealous opera-glass opposite.  And when thetime forthe ballet came (in which there was no dancerthat wentthrough her grimaces or performed her comedyof actionbetter)she skipped back to her own boxleaningon CaptainDobbin's arm this time.  Noshe wouldnot haveGeorge's: he must stay and talk to his dearestbestlittle Amelia.

 

"Whata humbug that woman is!" honest old Dobbinmumbled toGeorgewhen he came back from Rebecca'sboxwhither he had conducted her in perfect silenceandwith acountenance as glum as an undertaker's.  "Shewrithesand twists about like a snake.  All the time shewas heredidn't you seeGeorgehow she was acting attheGeneral over the way?"

 

"Humbug--acting! Hang itshe's the nicest littlewoman inEngland" George repliedshowing his whiteteethandgiving his ambrosial whiskers a twirl.  "Youain't aman of the worldDobbin.  Dammylook at hernowshe'stalked over Tufto in no time.  Look how he'slaughing! Gadwhat a shoulder she has!  Emmywhydidn't youhave a bouquet?  Everybody has a bouquet."

 

"Faiththenwhy didn't you BOY one?" Mrs. O'Dowdsaid; andboth Amelia and William Dobbin thanked herfor thistimely observation.  But beyond this neither ofthe ladiesrallied.  Amelia was overpowered by the flashand thedazzle and the fashionable talk of her worldly rival.Even theO'Dowd was silent and subdued after Becky'sbrilliantapparitionand scarcely said a word more aboutGlenmalonyall the evening.

 

"Whendo you intend to give up playGeorgeas youhavepromised meany time these hundred years?" Dobbinsaid tohis friend a few days after the night at theOpera. "When do you intend to give up sermonising?"was theother's reply.  "What the deucemanare youalarmedabout?  We play low; I won last night.  Youdon'tsuppose Crawley cheats?  With fair play it comesto prettymuch the same thing at the year's end."

 

"ButI don't think he could pay if he lost" Dobbinsaid; andhis advice met with the success which adviceusuallycommands.  Osborne and Crawley were repeatedlytogethernow.  General Tufto dined abroad almost constantly.George wasalways welcome in the apartments(veryclose indeed to those of the General) which theaide-de-campand his wife occupied in the hotel.

 

Amelia'smanners were such when she and George visitedCrawleyand his wife at these quartersthat they hadverynearly come to their first quarrel; that isGeorgescoldedhis wife violently for her evident unwillingness togoandthe high and mighty manner in which she comportedherselftowards Mrs. Crawleyher old friend; andAmelia didnot say one single word in reply; but with herhusband'seye upon herand Rebecca scanning her as shefeltwasif possiblemore bashful and awkward on thesecondvisit which she paid to Mrs. Rawdonthan on herfirstcall.

 

Rebeccawas doubly affectionateof courseand wouldnot takenoticein the leastof her friend's coolness.  "Ithink Emmyhas become prouder since her father's namewas inthe--since Mr. Sedley's MISFORTUNES" Rebeccasaidsoftening the phrase charitably for George's ear.

 

"Uponmy wordI thought when we were at Brightonshe wasdoing me the honour to be jealous of me; andnow Isuppose she is scandalised because Rawdonand Iand theGeneral live together.  Whymy dear creaturehow couldwewith our meanslive at allbut for a friendto shareexpenses?  And do you suppose that Rawdon isnot bigenough to take care of my honour?  But I'm verymuchobliged to Emmyvery" Mrs. Rawdon said.

 

"Poohjealousy!" answered George"all women arejealous."

 

"Andall men too.  Weren't you jealous of GeneralTuftoandthe General of youon the night of the Opera?Whyhewas ready to eat me for going with you to visitthatfoolish little wife of yours; as if I care a pin foreither ofyou" Crawley's wife saidwith a pert toss ofher head. "Will you dine here?  The dragon dines with theCommander-in-Chief. Great news is stirring.  They saythe Frenchhave crossed the frontier.  We shall have aquietdinner."

 

Georgeaccepted the invitationalthough his wife was alittleailing.  They were now not quite six weeks married.Anotherwoman was laughing or sneering at her expenseand he notangry.  He was not even angry with himselfthisgood-natured fellow.  It is a shamehe owned to himself;but hangitif a pretty woman WILL throw herself inyour waywhywhat can a fellow doyou know?  I AMratherfree about womenhe had often saidsmiling andnoddingknowingly to Stubble and Spooneyand othercomradesof the mess-table; and they rather respectedhim thanotherwise for this prowess.  Next to conqueringin warconquering in love has been a source of pridetime outof mindamongst men in Vanity Fairor howshouldschoolboys brag of their amoursor Don Juan bepopular?

 

So Mr.Osbornehaving a firm conviction in his ownmind thathe was a woman-killer and destined to conquerdid notrun counter to his fatebut yielded himselfup to itquite complacently.  And as Emmy did not saymuch orplague him with her jealousybut merely becameunhappyand pined over it miserably in secrethe choseto fancythat she was not suspicious of what all hisacquaintancewere perfectly aware--namelythat he wascarryingon a desperate flirtation with Mrs. Crawley.  Herode withher whenever she was free.  He pretendedregimentalbusiness to Amelia (by which falsehood she wasnot in theleast deceived)and consigning his wife tosolitudeor her brother's societypassed his evenings intheCrawleys' company; losing money to the husband andflatteringhimself that the wife was dying of love for him.It is verylikely that this worthy couple never absolutelyconspiredand agreed together in so many words:  the oneto cajolethe young gentlemanwhilst the other won hismoney atcards: but they understood each other perfectlywellandRawdon let Osborne come and go with entiregoodhumour.

 

George wasso occupied with his new acquaintancesthat heand William Dobbin were by no means so muchtogetheras formerly.  George avoided him in public andin theregimentandas we seedid not like thosesermonswhich his senior was disposed to inflict upon him.If someparts of his conduct made Captain Dobbinexceedinglygrave and cool; of what use was it to tell Georgethatthough his whiskers were largeand his ownopinion ofhis knowingness greathe was as green as aschoolboy?that Rawdon was making a victim of him as he haddone ofmany beforeand as soon as he had used himwouldfling him off with scorn?  He would not listen:  andsoasDobbinupon those days when he visited the0sbornehouseseldom had the advantage of meeting hisoldfriendmuch painful and unavailing talk betweenthem wasspared.  Our friend George was in the full careerof thepleasures of Vanity Fair.

 

Therenever wassince the days of Dariussuch a brillianttrain ofcamp-followers as hung round the Duke ofWellington'sarmy in the Low Countriesin 1815; andled itdancing and feastingas it wereup to the verybrink ofbattle.  A certain ball which a noble Duchessgave atBrussels on the 15th of June in the above-namedyear ishistorical.  All Brussels had been in a state ofexcitementabout itand I have heard from ladies whowere inthat town at the periodthat the talk and interestof personsof their own sex regarding the ball was muchgreatereven than in respect of the enemy in their front.Thestrugglesintriguesand prayers to get tickets weresuch asonly English ladies will employin order to gainadmissionto the society of the great of their own nation.

 

Jos andMrs. O'Dowdwho were panting to be askedstrove invain to procure tickets; but others of our friendswere morelucky.  For instancethrough the interest ofmy LordBareacresand as a set-off for the dinner at therestaurateur'sGeorge got a card for Captain and Mrs.Osborne;which circumstance greatly elated him.  Dobbinwho was afriend of the General commanding the divisionin whichtheir regiment wascame laughing oneday toMrs. Osborneand displayed a similar invitationwhich madeJos enviousand George wonder how thedeuce heshould be getting into society.  Mr. and Mrs.Rawdonfinallywere of course invited; as became thefriends ofa General commanding a cavalry brigade.

 

On theappointed nightGeorgehaving commandednewdresses and ornaments of all sorts for Ameliadroveto thefamous ballwhere his wife did not know a singlesoul. After looking about for Lady Bareacreswho cuthimthinking the card was quite enough--and afterplacingAmelia on a benchhe left her to her owncogitationstherethinkingon his own partthat he hadbehavedvery handsomely in getting her new clothesandbringingher to the ballwhere she was free to amuseherself asshe liked.  Her thoughts were not of thepleasantestand nobody except honest Dobbin came todisturbthem.

 

Whilst herappearance was an utter failure (as herhusbandfelt with a sort of rage)Mrs. Rawdon Crawley'sdebut wason the contraryvery brilliant.  She arrivedverylate.  Her face was radiant; her dress perfection.  Inthe midstof the great persons assembledand the eye-glassesdirected to herRebecca seemed to be as coolandcollected as when she used to marshal Miss Pinkerton'slittlegirls to church.  Numbers of the men she knewalreadyand the dandies thronged round her.  As for theladiesitwas whispered among them that Rawdon hadrun awaywith her from out of a conventand that shewas arelation of the Montmorency family.  She spokeFrench soperfectly that there might be some truth inthisreportand it was agreed that her manners werefineandher air distingue.  Fifty would-be partnersthrongedround her at onceand pressed to have thehonour todance with her.  But she said she was engagedand onlygoing to dance very little; and made her way atonce tothe place where Emmy sate quite unnoticedanddismallyunhappy.  And soto finish the poor child atonceMrs.Rawdon ran and greeted affectionately herdearestAmeliaand began forthwith to patronise her.She foundfault with her friend's dressand herhairdresserand wondered how she could be so chausseeand vowedthat she must send her corsetiere the nextmorning. She vowed that it was a delightful ball; thatthere waseverybody that every one knewand only aVERY fewnobodies in the whole room.  It is a factthatin afortnightand after three dinners in general societythis youngwoman had got up the genteel jargon so wellthat anative could not speak it better; and it was onlyfrom herFrench being so goodthat you could know shewas not aborn woman of fashion.

 

Georgewho had left Emmy on her bench on enteringtheball-roomvery soon found his way back whenRebeccawas by her dear friend's side.  Becky was justlecturingMrs. Osborne upon the follies which herhusbandwas committing.  "For God's sakestop him fromgamblingmy dear" she said"or he will ruin himself.He andRawdon are playing at cards every nightand youknow he isvery poorand Rawdon will win every shillingfrom himif he does not take care.  Why don't you preventhimyoulittle careless creature?  Why don't youcome to usof an eveninginstead of moping at homewith thatCaptain Dobbin?  I dare say he is tres aimable;but howcould one love a man with feet of such size?Yourhusband's feet are darlings--Here he comes.  Wherehave youbeenwretch?  Here is Emmy crying her eyesout foryou.  Are you coming to fetch me for the quadrille?"And sheleft her bouquet and shawl by Amelia'ssideandtripped off with George to dance.  Women onlyknow howto wound so.  There is a poison on the tips oftheirlittle shaftswhich stings a thousand times morethan aman's blunter weapon.  Our poor Emmywho hadneverhatednever sneered all her lifewas powerless inthe handsof her remorseless little enemy.

 

Georgedanced with Rebecca twice or thrice--how manytimesAmelia scarcely knew.  She sat quite unnoticed inhercornerexcept when Rawdon came up with somewords ofclumsy conversation:  and later in the eveningwhenCaptain Dobbin made so bold as to bring herrefreshmentsand sit beside her.  He did not like to ask herwhy shewas so sad; but as a pretext for the tears whichwerefilling in her eyesshe told him that Mrs. Crawleyhadalarmed her by telling her that George would go onplaying.

 

"Itis curiouswhen a man is bent upon playby whatclumsyrogues he will allow himself to be cheated"Dobbinsaid; and Emmy said"Indeed." She was thinking ofsomethingelse.  It was not the loss of the money thatgrievedher.

 

At lastGeorge came back for Rebecca's shawl andflowers. She was going away.  She did not evencondescendto come back and say good-bye to Amelia.  Thepoor girllet her husband come and go without saying awordandher head fell on her breast.  Dobbin had beencalledawayand was whispering deep in conversationwith theGeneral of the divisionhis friendand had notseen thislast parting.  George went away then with thebouquet;but when he gave it to the ownerthere lay anotecoiled like a snake among the flowers.  Rebecca'seye caughtit at once.  She had been used to deal withnotes inearly life.  She put out her hand and took thenosegay. He saw by her eyes as they metthat she wasaware whatshe should find there.  Her husband hurried herawaystill too intent upon his own thoughtsseeminglyto takenote of any marks of recognition which mightpassbetween his friend and his wife.  These werehoweverbut trifling.  Rebecca gave George her hand with oneof herusual quick knowing glancesand made a curtseyand walkedaway.  George bowed over the handsaidnothing inreply to a remark of Crawley'sdid not hear itevenhisbrain was so throbbing with triumph andexcitementand allowed them to go away without a word.

 

His wifesaw the one part at least of the bouquet-scene.It wasquite natural that George should come at Rebecca'srequest toget her her scarf and flowers:  it was nomore thanhe had done twenty times before in the courseof thelast few days; but now it was too much for her."William"she saidsuddenly clinging to Dobbinwho wasnear her"you've always been very kind to me--I'm--I'm notwell.  Take me home."  She did not know she calledhim by hisChristian nameas George was accustomed todo. He went away with her quickly.  Her lodgings werehard by;and they threaded through the crowd withoutwhereeverything seemed to be more astir than even in theball-roomwithin.

 

George hadbeen angry twice or thrice at finding hiswife up onhis return from the parties which hefrequented: so she went straight to bed now; but althoughshe didnot sleepand although the din and clatterandthegalloping of horsemen were incessantshe never heardany ofthese noiseshaving quite other disturbances tokeep herawake.

 

Osbornemeanwhilewild with elationwent off to aplay-tableand began to bet frantically.  He won repeatedly."Everythingsucceeds with me to-night" he said.But hisluck at play even did not cure him of his restlessnessand hestarted up after awhilepocketing his winningsand wentto a buffetwhere he drank off manybumpers ofwine.

 

Hereashe was rattling away to the people aroundlaughingloudly and wild with spiritsDobbin found him.He hadbeen to the card-tables to look there for hisfriend. Dobbin looked as pale and grave as his comradewasflushed and jovial.

 

''HulloDob!  Come and drinkold Dob!  The Duke'swine isfamous.  Give me some moreyou sir"; and heheld out atrembling glass for the liquor.

 

"ComeoutGeorge" said Dobbinstill gravely; "don'tdrink."

 

"Drink! there's nothing like it.  Drink yourselfandlight upyour lantern jawsold boy.  Here's to you."

 

Dobbinwent up and whispered something to himatwhichGeorgegiving a start and a wild hurraytossed offhis glassclapped it on the tableand walked awayspeedilyon his friend's arm.  "The enemy has passed theSambre"William said"and our left is already engaged.Comeaway.  We are to march in three hours."

 

Away wentGeorgehis nerves quivering with excitementat thenews so long looked forso sudden when itcame. What were love and intrigue now?  He thoughtabout athousand things but these in his rapid walk to hisquarters--hispast life and future chances--the fate whichmight bebefore him--the wifethe child perhapsfromwhomunseen he might be about to part.  Ohhow hewishedthat night's work undone!  and that with a clearconscienceat least he might say farewell to the tenderandguileless being by whose love he had set such littlestore!

 

He thoughtover his brief married life.  In those fewweeks hehad frightfully dissipated his little capital.  Howwild andreckless he had been!  Should any mischancebefallhim:  what was then left for her?  How unworthy hewas ofher.  Why had he married her?  He was not fit formarriage. Why had he disobeyed his fatherwho had beenalways sogenerous to him?  Hoperemorseambitiontendernessand selfish regret filled his heart.  He satedown andwrote to his fatherremembering what he hadsaid oncebeforewhen he was engaged to fight a duel.Dawnfaintly streaked the sky as he closed this farewellletter. He sealed itand kissed the superscription.  Hethoughthow he had deserted that generous fatherand ofthethousand kindnesses which the stern old man haddone him.

 

He hadlooked into Amelia's bedroom when he entered;she layquietand her eyes seemed closedand hewas gladthat she was asleep.  On arriving at his quartersfrom theballhe had found his regimental servant alreadymakingpreparations for his departure:  the manhadunderstood his signal to be stilland these arrangementswere veryquickly and silently made.  Should he goin andwake Ameliahe thoughtor leave a note for herbrother tobreak the news of departure to her?  He wentin to lookat her once again.

 

She hadbeen awake when he first entered her roombut hadkept her eyes closedso that even her wakefulnessshould notseem to reproach him.  But when he hadreturnedso soon after herselftoothis timid little hearthad feltmore at easeand turning towards him as hesteptsoftly out of the roomshe had fallen into a lightsleep. George came in and looked at her againenteringstill moresoftly.  By the pale night-lamp he could see hersweetpale face--the purple eyelids were fringed andclosedand one round armsmooth and whitelay outsideof thecoverlet.  Good God!  how pure she was; howgentlehow tenderand how friendless!  and hehowselfishbrutaland black with crime!  Heart-stainedandshame-strickenhe stood at the bed's footand looked atthesleeping girl.  How dared he--who was heto pray forone sospotless!  God bless her!  God bless her!  He came tothebedsideand looked at the handthe little soft handlyingasleep; and he bent over the pillow noiselesslytowardsthe gentle pale face.

 

Two fairarms closed tenderly round his neck as hestoopeddown.  "I am awakeGeorge" the poor child saidwith a sobfit to break the little heart that nestled soclosely byhis own.  She was awakepoor souland towhat? At that moment a bugle from the Place of Armsbegansounding clearlyand was taken up through thetown; andamidst the drums of the infantryand theshrillpipes of the Scotchthe whole city awoke.

 

 

 

 

CHAPTERXXX"TheGirl I Left Behind Me"

 

We do notclaim to rank among the military novelists.Our placeis with the non-combatants.  When the decksarecleared for action we go below and wait meekly.  Weshouldonly be in the way of the manoeuvres that thegallantfellows are performing overhead.  We shall go nofartherwith the --th than to the city gate:  and leavingMajorO'Dowd to his dutycome back to the Major'swifeandthe ladies and the baggage.

 

Now theMajor and his ladywho had not been invitedto theball at which in our last chapter other of ourfriendsfiguredhad much more time to take theirwholesomenatural rest in bedthan was accorded to peoplewho wishedto enjoy pleasure as well as to do duty.  "It'smy beliefPeggymy dear" said heas he placidly pulledhisnightcap over his ears"that there will be such a balldanced ina day or two as some of 'em has never heardthe chuneof"; and he was much more happy to retire torest afterpartaking of a quiet tumblerthan to figure atany othersort of amusement.  Peggyfor her partwouldhave likedto have shown her turban and bird ofparadiseat the ballbut for the information which herhusbandhad given herand which made her very grave.

 

"I'dlike ye wake me about half an hour before the assemblybeats"the Major said to his lady.  "Call me at half-past onePeggy dearand see me things is ready.  May beI'll notcome back to breakfastMrs. O'D."  With whichwordswhich signified his opinion that the regiment wouldmarch thenext morningthe Major ceased talkingandfellasleep.

 

Mrs.O'Dowdthe good housewifearrayed in curlpapers anda camisolefelt that her duty was to actandnot tosleepat this juncture.  "Time enough for that" shesaid"when Mick's gone"; and so she packed his travellingvaliseready for the marchbrushed his cloakhis capandotherwarlike habilimentsset them out in order for him;and stowedaway in the cloak pockets a light package ofportablerefreshmentsand a wicker-covered flask orpocket-pistolcontaining near a pint of a remarkablysoundCognac brandyof which she and the Major approvedvery much;and as soon as the hands of the"repayther"pointed to half-past oneand its interiorarrangements(it had a tone quite equal to a cathaydralitsfair ownerconsidered) knelled forth that fatal hourMrs.O'Dowdwoke up her Majorand had as comfortable acup ofcoffee prepared for him as any made that morninginBrussels.  And who is there will deny that this worthylady'spreparations betokened affection as much as thefits oftears and hysterics by which more sensitive femalesexhibitedtheir loveand that their partaking of this coffeewhich theydrank together while the bugles were soundingtheturn-out and the drums beating in the various quartersof thetownwas not more useful and to the purpose thantheoutpouring of any mere sentiment could be?  Theconsequencewasthat the Major appeared on parade quitetrimfreshand alerthis well-shaved rosy countenanceas he sateon horsebackgiving cheerfulness and confidenceto thewhole corps.  All the officers saluted herwhen theregiment marched by the balcony on which thisbravewoman stoodand waved them a cheer as theypassed;and I daresay it was not from want of couragebut from asense of female delicacy and proprietythatsherefrained from leading the gallant --th personallyintoaction.

 

OnSundaysand at periods of a solemn natureMrs.O'Dowdused to read with great gravity out of a largevolume ofher uncle the Dean's sermons.  It had been ofgreatcomfort to her on board the transport as they werecominghomeand were very nearly wreckedon theirreturnfrom the West Indies.  After the regiment'sdepartureshe betook herself to this volume for meditation;perhapsshe did not understand much of what she wasreadingand her thoughts were elsewhere:  but the sleepprojectwith poor Mick's nightcap there on the pillowwas quitea vain one.  So it is in the world.  Jack or Donaldmarchesaway to glory with his knapsack on his shouldersteppingout briskly to the tune of "The Girl I Left BehindMe."It is she who remains and suffers--and has theleisure tothinkand broodand remember.

 

Knowinghow useless regrets areand how the indulgenceofsentiment only serves to make people more miserableMrs.Rebecca wisely determined to give way to novainfeelings of sorrowand bore the parting from herhusbandwith quite a Spartan equanimity.  Indeed CaptainRawdonhimself was much more affected at the leave-takingthan the resolute little woman to whom he badefarewell. She had mastered this rude coarse nature;and heloved and worshipped her with all his faculties ofregard andadmiration.  In all his life he had never been sohappyasduring the past few monthshis wife had madehim. All former delights of turfmesshunting-fieldandgambling-table;all previous loves and courtships ofmillinersopera-dancersand the like easy triumphs of theclumsymilitary Adoniswere quite insipid whencomparedto the lawful matrimonial pleasures which of late hehadenjoyed.  She had known perpetually how to diverthim; andhe had found his house and her society athousandtimes more pleasant than any place or companywhich hehad ever frequented from his childhood untilnow. And he cursed his past follies and extravagancesandbemoaned his vast outlying debts above allwhichmustremain for ever as obstacles to prevent his wife'sadvancementin the world.  He had often groaned overthese inmidnight conversations with Rebeccaalthough asa bachelorthey had never given him any disquiet.  Hehimselfwas struck with this phenomenon.  "Hang it"he wouldsay (or perhaps use a still stronger expressionout of hissimple vocabulary)"before I was married Ididn'tcare what bills I put my name toand so long asMoseswould wait or Levy would renew for three monthsI kept onnever minding.  But since I'm marriedexceptrenewingof courseI give you my honour I've nottouched abit of stamped paper."

 

Rebeccaalways knew how to conjure away thesemoods ofmelancholy.  "Whymy stupid love" she wouldsay"wehave not done with your aunt yet.  If she fails usisn'tthere what you call the Gazette?  orstopwhen youruncleBute's life dropsI have another scheme.  The livinghas alwaysbelonged to the younger brotherand whyshouldn'tyou sell out and go into the Church?"  The ideaof thisconversion set Rawdon into roars of laughter:you mighthave heard the explosion through the hotel atmidnightand the haw-haws of the great dragoon's voice.GeneralTufto heard him from his quarters on the firstfloorabove them; and Rebecca acted the scene with greatspiritand preached Rawdon's first sermonto theimmensedelight of the General at breakfast.

 

But thesewere mere by-gone days and talk.  When thefinal newsarrived that the campaign was openedand thetroopswere to marchRawdon's gravity became suchthat Beckyrallied him about it in a manner which ratherhurt thefeelings of the Guardsman.  "You don't supposeI'mafraidBeckyI should think" he saidwith a tremorin hisvoice.  "But I'm a pretty good mark for a shotandyou see ifit brings me downwhy I leave one andperhapstwo behind me whom I should wish to provide foras Ibrought 'em into the scrape.  It is no laughing matterthatMrs.C.anyways."

 

Rebecca bya hundred caresses and kind words triedto soothethe feelings of the wounded lover.  It was onlywhen hervivacity and sense of humour got the better ofthissprightly creature (as they would do under mostcircumstancesof life indeed) that she would break outwith hersatirebut she could soon put on a demure face."Dearestlove" she said"do you suppose I feel nothing?"andhastily dashing something from her eyesshelooked upin her husband's face with a smile.

 

"Lookhere" said he.  "If I droplet us see what thereis foryou.  I have had a pretty good run of luck hereandhere's twohundred and thirty pounds.  I have got tenNapoleonsin my pocket.  That is as much as I shall want;for theGeneral pays everything like a prince; and if I'mhitwhyyou know I cost nothing.  Don't crylittle woman;I may liveto vex you yet.  WellI shan't take either of myhorsesbut shall ride the General's grey charger:  it'scheaperand I told him mine was lame.  If I'm donethosetwo oughtto fetch you something.  Grigg offered ninetyfor themare yesterdaybefore this confounded newscameandlike a fool I wouldn't let her go under the twoo's. Bullfinch will fetch his price any dayonly you'dbettersell him in this countrybecause the dealers have somany billsof mineand so I'd rather he shouldn't goback toEngland.  Your little mare the General gave youwill fetchsomethingand there's no d--d livery stablebills hereas there are in London" Rawdon addedwith alaugh. "There's that dressing-case cost me two hundred--that isI owe two for it; and the gold tops and bottlesmust beworth thirty or forty.  Please to put THAT up thespoutma'amwith my pinsand ringsand watch andchainandthings.  They cost a precious lot of money.  MissCrawleyIknowpaid a hundred down for the chain andticker. Gold tops and bottlesindeed!  dammyI'm sorryI didn'ttake more now.  Edwards pressed on me a silver-giltboot-jackand I might have had a dressing-case fittedup with asilver warming-panand a service of plate.  Butwe mustmake the best of what we've gotBeckyyouknow."

 

And somaking his last dispositionsCaptain Crawleywho hadseldom thought about anything but himselfuntilthe lastfew months of his lifewhen Love had obtainedthemastery over the dragoonwent through the variousitems ofhis little catalogue of effectsstriving to see howthey mightbe turned into money for his wife's benefitincase anyaccident should befall him.  He pleased himselfby notingdown with a pencilin his big schoolboyhandwritingthe various items of his portable property whichmight besold for his widow's advantage asfor example"Mydouble-barril by Mantonsay 40 guineas; my drivingcloaklined with sable fur50 pounds; my duelling pistols inrosewoodcase (same which I shot Captain Marker)20 pounds;my regulation saddle-holsters and housings; myLaurieditto" and so forthover all of which articles hemadeRebecca the mistress.

 

Faithfulto his plan of economythe Captain dressedhimself inhis oldest and shabbiest uniform and epauletsleavingthe newest behindunder his wife's (or it mightbe hiswidow's) guardianship.  And this famous dandy ofWindsorand Hyde Park went off on his campaign with akit asmodest as that of a sergeantand with somethinglike aprayer on his lips for the woman he was leaving.He tookher up from the groundand held her in hisarms for aminutetight pressed against his strong-beatingheart. His face was purple and his eyes dimas he put herdown andleft her.  He rode by his General's sideandsmoked hiscigar in silence as they hastened after thetroops ofthe General's brigadewhich preceded them;and it wasnot until they were some miles on their waythat heleft off twirling his moustache and broke silence.

 

AndRebeccaas we have saidwisely determined not togive wayto unavailing sentimentality on her husband'sdeparture. She waved him an adieu from the windowandstoodthere for a moment looking out after he was gone.Thecathedral towers and the full gables of the quaint oldhouseswere just beginning to blush in the sunrise.  Therehad beenno rest for her that night.  She was still in herprettyball-dressher fair hair hanging somewhat out ofcurl onher neckand the circles round her eyes dark withwatching. "What a fright I seem" she saidexaminingherself inthe glass"and how pale this pink makes onelook!" So she divested herself of this pink raiment; indoingwhich a note fell out from her corsagewhich shepicked upwith a smileand locked into her dressing-box.And thenshe put her bouquet of the ball into a glass ofwaterandwent to bedand slept very comfortably.

 

The townwas quite quiet when she woke up at teno'clockand partook of coffeevery requisite andcomfortingafter the exhaustion and grief of the morning'soccurrences.

 

This mealovershe resumed honest Rawdon's calculationsof thenight previousand surveyed her position.Should theworst befallall things consideredshe wasprettywell to do.  There were her own trinkets and trousseauinaddition to those which her husband had left behind.Rawdon'sgenerositywhen they were first marriedhasalready been described and lauded.  Besides theseand thelittle marethe Generalher slave and worshipperhad madeher many very handsome presentsin the shapeofcashmere shawls bought at the auction of a bankruptFrenchgeneral's ladyand numerous tributes from thejewellers'shopsall of which betokened her admirer'staste andwealth.  As for "tickers" as poor Rawdon calledwatchesher apartments were alive with their clicking.Forhappening to mention one night that herswhichRawdon hadgiven to herwas of English workmanshipand wentillon the very next morning there came to hera littlebijou marked Leroywith a chain and covercharminglyset with turquoisesand another signed Brequetwhich wascovered with pearlsand yet scarcely biggerthan ahalf-crown.  General Tufto had bought oneandCaptainOsborne had gallantly presented the other.  Mrs.Osbornehad no watchthoughto do George justiceshemight havehad one for the askingand the HonourableMrs. Tuftoin England had an old instrument of hermother'sthat might have served for the plate-warmingpan whichRawdon talked about.  If Messrs. Howell andJames wereto publish a list of the purchasers of all thetrinketswhich they sellhow surprised would somefamiliesbe: and if all these ornaments went to gentlemen'slawfulwives and daughterswhat a profusion of jewellerytherewould be exhibited in the genteelest homes ofVanityFair!

 

Everycalculation made of these valuables Mrs. Rebeccafoundnotwithout a pungent feeling of triumph and self-satisfactionthat should circumstances occurshe mightreckon onsix or seven hundred pounds at the very leastto beginthe world with; and she passed the morningdisposingorderinglooking outand locking up herpropertiesin the most agreeable manner.  Among the notesinRawdon's pocket-book was a draft for twenty poundsonOsborne's banker.  This made her think about Mrs.Osborne. "I will go and get the draft cashed" she said"andpay a visit afterwards to poor little Emmy." If thisis a novelwithout a heroat least let us lay claim to aheroine. No man in the British army which has marchedawaynotthe great Duke himselfcould be more cool orcollectedin the presence of doubts and difficultiesthantheindomitable little aide-de-camp's wife.

 

And therewas another of our acquaintances who wasalso to beleft behinda non-combatantand whose emotionsandbehaviour we have therefore a right to know.This wasour friend the ex-collector of Boggley Wollahwhose restwas brokenlike other people'sby the soundingof thebugles in the early morning.  Being a greatsleeperand fond of his bedit is possible he would havesnoozed onuntil his usual hour of rising in the forenoonin spiteof all the drumsbuglesand bagpipes in theBritisharmybut for an interruptionwhich did not comefromGeorge Osbornewho shared Jos's quarters withhimandwas as usual occupied too much with his ownaffairs orwith grief at parting with his wifeto think oftakingleave of his slumbering brother-in-law--it was notGeorgewesaywho interposed between Jos Sedley andsleepbutCaptain Dobbinwho came and roused him upinsistingon shaking hands with him before his departure.

 

"Verykind of you" said Josyawningand wishingtheCaptain at the deuce.

 

"I--Ididn't like to go off without saying good-byeyouknow"Dobbin said in a very incoherent manner; "becauseyou knowsome of us mayn't come back againandI like tosee you all welland--and that sort of thingyouknow."

 

"Whatdo you mean?" Jos askedrubbing his eyes.  TheCaptaindid not in the least hear him or look at the stoutgentlemanin the nightcapabout whom he professed tohave sucha tender interest.  The hypocrite was lookingandlistening with all his might in the direction of George'sapartmentsstriding about the roomupsetting the chairsbeatingthe tattoobiting his nailsand showing othersigns ofgreat inward emotion.

 

Jos hadalways had rather a mean opinion of theCaptainand now began to think his courage was somewhatequivocal. "What is it I can do for youDobbin?" he saidin asarcastic tone.

 

"Itell you what you can do" the Captain repliedcomingup to thebed; "we march in a quarter of an hourSedleyand neither George nor I may ever come back.Mind youyou are not to stir from this town until youascertainhow things go.  You are to stay here and watchover yoursisterand comfort herand see that no harmcomes toher.  If anything happens to Georgeremembershe has noone but you in the world to look to.  If it goeswrong withthe armyyou'll see her safe back to England;and youwill promise me on your word that you willneverdesert her.  I know you won't:  as far as money goesyou werealways free enough with that.  Do you want any?I meanhave you enough gold to take you back toEngland incase of a misfortune?"

 

"Sir"said Josmajestically"when I want moneyIknow whereto ask for it.  And as for my sisteryouneedn'ttell me how I ought to behave to her."

 

"Youspeak like a man of spiritJos" the other answeredgood-naturedly"and I am glad that George canleave herin such good hands.  So I may give him yourword ofhonourmay Ithat in case of extremity youwill standby her?"

 

"Ofcourseof course" answered Mr. Joswhosegenerosityin money matters Dobbin estimated quitecorrectly.

 

"Andyou'll see her safe out of Brussels in the event ofa defeat?"

 

"Adefeat! D-- itsirit's impossible.  Don't try andfrightenME" the hero cried from his bed; and Dobbin'smind wasthus perfectly set at ease now that Jos hadspoken outso resolutely respecting his conduct to hissister. "At least" thought the Captain"there will be aretreatsecured for her in case the worst should ensue."

 

If CaptainDobbin expected to get any personal comfortandsatisfaction from having one more view of Ameliabefore theregiment marched awayhis selfishness waspunishedjust as such odious egotism deserved to be.  Thedoor ofJos's bedroom opened into the sitting-room whichwas commonto the family partyand opposite this doorwas thatof Amelia's chamber.  The bugles had wakenedeverybody: there was no use in concealment now.  George'sservantwas packing in this room:  Osborne coming inand out ofthe contiguous bedroomflinging to the mansucharticles as he thought fit to carry on the campaign.Andpresently Dobbin had the opportunity which hisheartcovetedand he got sight of Amelia's face oncemore. But what a face it was!  So whiteso wild anddespair-strickenthat the remembrance of it haunted himafterwardslike a crimeand the sight smote him withinexpressiblepangs of longing and pity.

 

She waswrapped in a white morning dressher hairfalling onher shouldersand her large eyes fixed andwithoutlight.  By way of helping on the preparations forthedepartureand showing that she too could be usefulat amoment so criticalthis poor soul had taken up asash ofGeorge's from the drawers whereon it layandfollowedhim to and fro with the sash in her handlookingon mutelyas his packing proceeded.  She came out andstoodleaning at the wallholding this sash against herbosomfrom which the heavy net of crimson droppedlike alarge stain of blood.  Our gentle-hearted Captainfelt aguilty shock as he looked at her.  "Good God"thoughthe"and is it grief like this I dared to pry into?"And therewas no help:  no means to soothe and comfortthishelplessspeechless misery.  He stood for a momentand lookedat herpowerless and torn with pityas aparentregards an infant in pain.

 

At lastGeorge took Emmy's handand led her backinto thebedroomfrom whence he came out alone.  Thepartinghad taken place in that momentand he was gone.

 

"ThankHeaven that is over" George thoughtboundingdown thestairhis sword under his armas he ranswiftly tothe alarm groundwhere the regiment wasmusteredand whither trooped men and officers hurryingfrom theirbillets; his pulse was throbbing and his cheeksflushed: the great game of war was going to be playedand he oneof the players.  What a fierce excitement ofdoubthopeand pleasure!  What tremendous hazards ofloss orgain!  What were all the games of chance he hadeverplayed compared to this one?  Into all contestsrequiringathletic skill and couragethe young manfromhisboyhood upwardshad flung himself with all his might.Thechampion of his school and his regimentthe bravosof hiscompanions had followed him everywhere; fromthe boys'cricket-match to the garrison-raceshe had wona hundredof triumphs; and wherever he went womenand menhad admired and envied him.  What qualitiesare therefor which a man gets so speedy a return ofapplauseas those of bodily superiorityactivityandvalour? Time out of mind strength and courage have beenthe themeof bards and romances; and from the story ofTroy downto to-daypoetry has always chosen a soldierfor ahero.  I wonder is it because men are cowards inheart thatthey admire bravery so muchand placemilitaryvalour so far beyond every other quality forreward andworship?

 

Soat thesound of that stirring call to battleGeorgejumpedaway from the gentle arms in which he had beendallying;not without a feeling of shame (although hiswife'shold on him had been but feeble)that he shouldhave beendetained there so long.  The same feeling ofeagernessand excitement was amongst all those friendsof his ofwhom we have had occasional glimpsesfromthe stoutsenior Majorwho led the regiment into actionto littleStubblethe Ensignwho was to bear its colourson thatday.

 

The sunwas just rising as the march began--it wasa gallantsight--the band led the columnplaying theregimentalmarch--then came the Major in commandridingupon Pyramushis stout charger--then marchedthegrenadierstheir Captain at their head; in the centrewere thecoloursborne by the senior and junior Ensigns--thenGeorge came marching at the head of his company.He lookedupand smiled at Ameliaand passedon; andeven the sound of the music died away.

 

 

 

 

CHAPTERXXXIInWhich Jos Sedley Takes Care of His Sister

 

Thus allthe superior officers being summoned on dutyelsewhereJos Sedley was left in command of the littlecolony atBrusselswith Amelia invalidedIsidorhisBelgianservantand the bonnewho was maid-of-all-workfor theestablishmentas a garrison under him.  Thoughhe wasdisturbed in spiritand his rest destroyed byDobbin'sinterruption and the occurrences of the morningJosnevertheless remained for many hours in bedwakefuland rolling about there until his usual hour ofrising hadarrived.  The sun was high in the heavensandourgallant friends of the --th miles on their marchbefore thecivilian appeared in his flowered dressing-gownatbreakfast. AboutGeorge's absencehis brother-in-law was veryeasy inmind.  Perhaps Jos was rather pleased in his heartthatOsborne was gonefor during George's presencetheother hadplayed but a very secondary part in thehouseholdand Osborne did not scruple to show his contemptfor thestout civilian.  But Emmy had always been goodandattentive to him.  It was she who ministered to hiscomfortswho superintended the dishes that he likedwho walkedor rode with him (as she had manytoomanyopportunities of doingfor where was George?)and whointerposed her sweet face between his angerand herhusband's scorn.  Many timid remonstrances hadsheuttered to George in behalf of her brotherbut theformer inhis trenchant way cut these entreaties short."I'man honest man" he said"and if I have a feelingI show itas an honest man will.  How the deucemydearwould you have me behave respectfully to such afool asyour brother?"  So Jos was pleased with George'sabsence. His plain hatand gloves on a sideboardandthe ideathat the owner was awaycaused Jos I don'tknow whatsecret thrill of pleasure.  "HE won't betroublingme this morning" Jos thought"with hisdandifiedairs and his impudence." "Putthe Captain's hat into the ante-room" he saidto Isidorthe servant. "Perhapshe won't want it again" replied the lackeylookingknowingly at his master.  He hated George toowhoseinsolence towards him was quite of the Englishsort. "Andask if Madame is coming to breakfast" Mr.Sedleysaid with great majestyashamed to enter with aservantupon the subject of his dislike for George.  Thetruth ishe had abused his brother to the valet a scoreof timesbefore.

 

Alas! Madame could not come to breakfastand cutthetartines that Mr. Jos liked.  Madame was a great dealtoo illand had been in a frightful state ever since herhusband'sdepartureso her bonne said.  Jos showed hissympathyby pouring her out a large cup of tea It washis way ofexhibiting kindness:  and he improved on this;he notonly sent her breakfastbut he bethought himwhatdelicacies she would most like for dinner.

 

Isidorthe valethad looked on very sulkilywhileOsborne'sservant was disposing of his master's baggagepreviousto the Captain's departure:  for in the first placehe hatedMr. Osbornewhose conduct to himand toallinferiorswas generally overbearing (nor does thecontinentaldomestic like to be treated with insolence