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«Vanity fair (Ярмарка тщеславия - на английском). 4 часть.»
"Vanity fair (Ярмарка тщеславия - на английском). 4 часть."
Pitt Crawley between Rawdon and a baronetcy; and should anything happen to the former, all would be well. At all events, to have Mrs. Bute's designs exposed, and herself well abused, was a satisfaction, and might be advantageous to Rawdon's interest; and Rebecca, after an hour's chat with her recovered friend, left her with the most tender demonstrations of regard, and quite assured that the conversation they had had together would be reported to Miss Crawley before many hours were over.
This interview ended, it became full time for Rebecca to return to her inn, where all the party of the previous day were assembled at a farewell breakfast. Rebecca took such a tender leave of Amelia as became two women who loved each other as sisters; and having used her handkerchief plentifully, and hung on her friend's neck as if they were parting for ever, and waved the handkerchief
(which was quite dry, by the way) out of window, as the carriage drove off, she came back to the breakfast table, and ate some prawns with a good deal of appetite, considering her emotion; and while she was munching these delicacies, explained to Rawdon what had occurred in her morning walk between herself and Briggs. Her hopes were very high: she made her husband share them. She generally succeeded in making her husband share all her opinions, whether melancholy or cheerful.
"You will now, if you please, my dear, sit down at the writing-table and pen me a pretty little letter to Miss
Crawley, in which you'll say that you are a good boy, and that sort of thing." So Rawdon sate down, and wrote off, "Brighton, Thursday," and "My dear Aunt," with great rapidity: but there the gallant officer's imagination failed him. He mumbled the end of his pen, and looked up in his wife's face. She could not help laughing at his rueful countenance, and marching up and down the room with her hands behind her, the little woman began to dictate a letter, which he took down.
"Before quitting the country and commencing a campaign, which very possibly may be fatal."
"What?" said Rawdon, rather surprised, but took the humour of the phrase, and presently wrote it down with a grin.
"Which very possibly may be fatal, I have come hither-"
"Why not say come here, Becky? Come here's grammar,"
the dragoon interposed.
"I have come hither," Rebecca insisted, with a stamp of her foot, "to say farewell to my dearest and earliest friend. I beseech you before I go, not perhaps to return, once more to let me press the hand from which
I have received nothing but kindnesses all my life."
"Kindnesses all my life," echoed Rawdon, scratching down the words, and quite amazed at his own facility of composition.
"I ask nothing from you but that we should part not in anger. I have the pride of my family on some points, though not on all. I married a painter's daughter, and am not ashamed of the union."
"No, run me through the body if I am!" Rawdon ejaculated.
"You old booby," Rebecca said, pinching his ear and looking over to see that he made no mistakes in spelling
-"beseech is not spelt with an a, and earliest is." So he altered these words, bowing to the superior knowledge of his little Missis.
"I thought that you were aware of the progress of my attachment," Rebecca continued: "I knew that Mrs. Bute
Crawley confirmed and encouraged it. But I make no reproaches. I married a poor woman, and am content to abide by what I have done. Leave your property, dear
Aunt, as you will. I shall never complain of the way in which you dispose of it. I would have you believe that I
love you for yourself, and not for money's sake. I want to be reconciled to you ere I leave England. Let me, let me see you before I go. A few weeks or months hence it may be too late, and I cannot bear the notion of quitting the country without a kind word of farewell from you."
"She won't recognise my style in that," said Becky. "I
made the sentences short and brisk on purpose." And this authentic missive was despatched under cover to Miss
Old Miss Crawley laughed when Briggs, with great mystery, handed her over this candid and simple statement. "We may read it now Mrs. Bute is away,"
she said. "Read it to me, Briggs."
When Briggs had read the epistle out, her patroness laughed more. "Don't you see, you goose," she said to
Briggs, who professed to be much touched by the honest affection which pervaded the composition, "don't you see that Rawdon never wrote a word of it. He never wrote to me without asking for money in his life, and all his letters are full of bad spelling, and dashes, and bad grammar. It is that little serpent of a governess who rules him." They are all alike, Miss Crawley thought in her heart. They all want me dead, and are hankering for my money.
"I don't mind seeing Rawdon," she added, after a pause, and in a tone of perfect indifference. "I had just as soon shake hands with him as not. Provided there is no scene, why shouldn't we meet? I don't mind. But human patience has its limits; and mind, my dear, I
respectfully decline to receive Mrs. Rawdon-I can't support that quite"-and Miss Briggs was fain to be content with this half-message of conciliation; and thought that the best method of bringing the old lady and her nephew together, was to warn Rawdon to be in waiting on the
Cliff, when Miss Crawley went out for her air in her chair.
There they met. I don't know whether Miss Crawley had any private feeling of regard or emotion upon seeing her old favourite; but she held out a couple of fingers to him with as smiling and good-humoured an air, as if they had met only the day before. And as for Rawdon, he turned as red as scarlet, and wrung off Briggs's hand, so great was his rapture and his confusion at the meeting.
Perhaps it was interest that moved him: or perhaps affection: perhaps he was touched by the change which the illness of the last weeks had wrought in his aunt.
"The old girl has always acted like a trump to me," he said to his wife, as he narrated the interview, "and I felt, you know, rather queer, and that sort of thing. I walked by the side of the what-dy'e-call-'em, you know, and to her own door, where Bowls came to help her in. And I
wanted to go in very much, only-"
"YOU DIDN'T GO IN, Rawdon!" screamed his wife.
"No, my dear; I'm hanged if I wasn't afraid when it came to the point."
"You fool! you ought to have gone in, and never come out again," Rebecca said.
"Don't call me names," said the big Guardsman, sulkily.
"Perhaps I WAS a fool, Becky, but you shouldn't say so"; and he gave his wife a look, such as his countenance could wear when angered, and such as was not pleasant to face.
"Well, dearest, to-morrow you must be on the look-out, and go and see her, mind, whether she asks you or no,"
Rebecca said, trying to soothe her angry yoke-mate. On which he replied, that he would do exactly as he liked, and would just thank her to keep a civil tongue in her head-and the wounded husband went away, and passed the forenoon at the billiard-room, sulky, silent, and suspicious.
But before the night was over he was compelled to give in, and own, as usual, to his wife's superior prudence and foresight, by the most melancholy confirmation of the presentiments which she had regarding the consequences of the mistake which he had made. Miss Crawley must have had some emotion upon seeing him and shaking hands with him after so long a rupture. She mused upon the meeting a considerable time. "Rawdon is getting very fat and old, Briggs," she said to her companion. "His nose has become red, and he is exceedingly coarse in appearance. His marriage to that woman has hopelessly vulgarised him. Mrs. Bute always said they drank together;
and I have no doubt they do. Yes: he smelt of gin abominably. I remarked it. Didn't you?"
In vain Briggs interposed that Mrs. Bute spoke ill of everybody: and, as far as a person in her humble position could judge, was an-
"An artful designing woman? Yes, so she is, and she does speak ill of every one-but I am certain that woman has made Rawdon drink. All those low people do-"
"He was very much affected at seeing you, ma'am," the companion said; "and I am sure, when you remember that he is going to the field of danger-"
"How much money has he promised you, Briggs?" the old spinster cried out, working herself into a nervous rage-"there now, of course you begin to cry. I hate scenes. Why am I always to be worried? Go and cry up in your own room, and send Firkin to me- no, stop, sit down and blow your nose, and leave off crying, and write a letter to Captain Crawley." Poor Briggs went and placed herself obediently at the writing-book. Its leaves were blotted all over with relics of the firm, strong, rapid handwriting of the spinster's late amanuensis, Mrs. Bute
"Begin 'My dear sir,' or 'Dear sir,' that will be better, and say you are desired by Miss Crawley-no, by Miss
Crawley's medical man, by Mr. Creamer, to state that my health is such that all strong emotions would be dangerous in my present delicate condition-and that I must decline any family discussions or interviews whatever.
And thank him for coming to Brighton, and so forth, and beg him not to stay any longer on my account. And, Miss
Briggs, you may add that I wish him a bon voyage, and that if he will take the trouble to call upon my lawyer's in Gray's Inn Square, he will find there a communication for him. Yes, that will do; and that will make him leave
Brighton." The benevolent Briggs penned this sentence with the utmost satisfaction.
"To seize upon me the very day after Mrs. Bute was gone," the old lady prattled on; "it was too indecent.
Briggs, my dear, write to Mrs. Crawley, and say SHE
needn't come back. No-she needn't-and she shan't-
and I won't be a slave in my own house-and I won't be starved and choked with poison. They all want to kill me
-all-all"-and with this the lonely old woman burst into a scream of hysterical tears.
The last scene of her dismal Vanity Fair comedy was fast approaching; the tawdry lamps were going out one by one; and the dark curtain was almost ready to descend.
That final paragraph, which referred Rawdon to Miss
Crawley's solicitor in London, and which Briggs had written so good-naturedly, consoled the dragoon and his wife somewhat, after their first blank disappointment, on reading the spinster's refusal of a reconciliation. And it effected the purpose for which the old lady had caused it to be written, by making Rawdon very eager to get to
Out of Jos's losings and George Osborne's bank-notes, he paid his bill at the inn, the landlord whereof does not probably know to this day how doubtfully his account once stood. For, as a general sends his baggage to the rear before an action, Rebecca had wisely packed up all their chief valuables and sent them off under care of
George's servant, who went in charge of the trunks on the coach back to London. Rawdon and his wife returned by the same conveyance next day.
"I should have liked to see the old girl before we went,"
Rawdon said. "She looks so cut up and altered that I'm sure she can't last long. I wonder what sort of a cheque
I shall have at Waxy's. Two hundred-it can't be less than two hundred-hey, Becky?"
In consequence of the repeated visits of the aides-de-
camp of the Sheriff of Middlesex, Rawdon and his wife did not go back to their lodgings at Brompton, but put up at an inn. Early the next morning, Rebecca had an opportunity of seeing them as she skirted that suburb on her road to old Mrs. Sedley's house at Fulham, whither she went to look for her dear Amelia and her Brighton friends. They were all off to Chatham, thence to Harwich, to take shipping for Belgium with the regiment-
kind old Mrs. Sedley very much depressed and tearful, solitary. Returning from this visit, Rebecca found her husband, who had been off to Gray's Inn, and learnt his fate. He came back furious.
"By Jove, Becky," says he, "she's only given me twenty pound!"
Though it told against themselves, the joke was too good, and Becky burst out laughing at Rawdon's discomfiture.
Between London and Chatham
On quitting Brighton, our friend George, as became a person of rank and fashion travelling in a barouche with four horses, drove in state to a fine hotel in Cavendish
Square, where a suite of splendid rooms, and a table magnificently furnished with plate and surrounded by a half-dozen of black and silent waiters, was ready to receive the young gentleman and his bride. George did the honours of the place with a princely air to Jos and
Dobbin; and Amelia, for the first time, and with exceeding shyness and timidity, presided at what George called her own table.
George pooh-poohed the wine and bullied the waiters royally, and Jos gobbled the turtle with immense satisfaction.
Dobbin helped him to it; for the lady of the house, before whom the tureen was placed, was so ignorant of the contents, that she was going to help Mr. Sedley without bestowing upon him either calipash or calipee.
The splendour of the entertainment, and the apartments in which it was given, alarmed Mr. Dobbin, who remonstrated after dinner, when Jos was asleep in the great chair. But in vain he cried out against the enormity of turtle and champagne that was fit for an archbishop.
"I've always been accustomed to travel like a gentleman,"
George said, "and, damme, my wife shall travel like a lady. As long as there's a shot in the locker, she shall want for nothing," said the generous fellow, quite pleased with himself for his magnificence of spirit. Nor did
Dobbin try and convince him that Amelia's happiness was not centred in turtle-soup.
A while after dinner, Amelia timidly expressed a wish to go and see her mamma, at Fulham: which permission
George granted her with some grumbling. And she tripped away to her enormous bedroom, in the centre of which stood the enormous funereal bed, "that the Emperor
Halixander's sister slep in when the allied sufferings was here," and put on her little bonnet and shawl with the utmost eagerness and pleasure. George was still drinking claret when she returned to the dining-room, and made no signs of moving. "Ar'n't you coming with me, dearest?"
she asked him. No; the "dearest" had "business"
that night. His man should get her a coach and go with her. And the coach being at the door of the hotel, Amelia made George a little disappointed curtsey after looking vainly into his face once or twice, and went sadly down the great staircase, Captain Dobbin after, who handed her into the vehicle, and saw it drive away to its destination.
The very valet was ashamed of mentioning the address to the hackney-coachman before the hotel waiters, and promised to instruct him when they got further on.
Dobbin walked home to his old quarters and the
Slaughters', thinking very likely that it would be delightful to be in that hackney-coach, along with Mrs. Osborne.
George was evidently of quite a different taste; for when he had taken wine enough, he went off to half-price at the play, to see Mr. Kean perform in Shylock. Captain
Osborne was a great lover of the drama, and had himself performed high-comedy characters with great distinction in several garrison theatrical entertainments. Jos slept on until long after dark, when he woke up with a start at the motions of his servant, who was removing and emptying the decanters on the table; and the hackney-coach stand was again put into requisition for a carriage to convey this stout hero to his lodgings and bed.
Mrs. Sedley, you may be sure, clasped her daughter to her heart with all maternal eagerness and affection, running out of the door as the carriage drew up before the little garden-gate, to welcome the weeping, trembling, young bride. Old Mr. Clapp, who was in his shirt-sleeves, trimming the garden-plot, shrank back alarmed. The Irish servant-lass rushed up from the kitchen and smiled a
"God bless you." Amelia could hardly walk along the flags and up the steps into the parlour.
How the floodgates were opened, and mother and daughter wept, when they were together embracing each other in this sanctuary, may readily be imagined by every reader who possesses the least sentimental turn. When don't ladies weep? At what occasion of joy, sorrow, or other business of life, and, after such an event as a marriage, mother and daughter were surely at liberty to give way to a sensibility which is as tender as it is refreshing.
About a question of marriage I have seen women who hate each other kiss and cry together quite fondly.
How much more do they feel when they love! Good mothers are married over again at their daughters' weddings: and as for subsequent events, who does not know how ultra-maternal grandmothers are?-in fact a woman, until she is a grandmother, does not often really know what to be a mother is. Let us respect Amelia and her mamma whispering and whimpering and laughing and crying in the parlour and the twilight. Old Mr. Sedley did. HE had not divined who was in the carriage when it drove up. He had not flown out to meet his daughter, though he kissed her very warmly when she entered the room (where he was occupied, as usual, with his papers and tapes and statements of accounts), and after sitting with the mother and daughter for a short time, he very wisely left the little apartment in their possession.
George's valet was looking on in a very supercilious manner at Mr. Clapp in his shirt-sleeves, watering his rose-bushes. He took off his hat, however, with much condescension to Mr. Sedley, who asked news about his son-in-law, and about Jos's carriage, and whether his horses had been down to Brighton, and about that infernal traitor Bonaparty, and the war; until the Irish maid-servant came with a plate and a bottle of wine, from which the old gentleman insisted upon helping the valet. He gave him a half-guinea too, which the servant pocketed with a mixture of wonder and contempt. "To the health of your master and mistress, Trotter," Mr.
Sedley said, "and here's something to drink your health when you get home, Trotter."
There were but nine days past since Amelia had left that little cottage and home-and yet how far off the time seemed since she had bidden it farewell. What a gulf lay between her and that past life. She could look back to it from her present standing-place, and contemplate, almost as another being, the young unmarried girl absorbed in her love, having no eyes but for one special object, receiving parental affection if not ungratefully, at least indifferently, and as if it were her due-her whole heart and thoughts bent on the accomplishment of one desire. The review of those days, so lately gone yet so far away, touched her with shame; and the aspect of the kind parents filled her with tender remorse. Was the prize gained-the heaven of life-and the winner still doubtful and unsatisfied? As his hero and heroine pass the matrimonial barrier, the novelist generally drops the curtain, as if the drama were over then: the doubts and struggles of life ended: as if, once landed in the marriage country, all were green and pleasant there: and wife and husband had nothing to do but to link each other's arms together, and wander gently downwards towards old age in happy and perfect fruition. But our little
Amelia was just on the bank of her new country, and was already looking anxiously back towards the sad friendly figures waving farewell to her across the stream, from the other distant shore.
In honour of the young bride's arrival, her mother thought it necessary to prepare I don't know what festive entertainment, and after the first ebullition of talk, took leave of Mrs. George Osborne for a while, and dived down to the lower regions of the house to a sort of kitchen-parlour (occupied by Mr. and Mrs. Clapp, and in the evening, when her dishes were washed and her curl-papers removed, by Miss Flannigan, the Irish servant), there to take measures for the preparing of a magnificent ornamented tea. All people have their ways of expressing kindness, and it seemed to Mrs. Sedley that a muffin and a quantity of orange marmalade spread out in a little cut-glass saucer would be peculiarly agreeable refreshments to Amelia in her most interesting situation.
While these delicacies were being transacted below,
Amelia, leaving the drawing-room, walked upstairs and found herself, she scarce knew how, in the little room which she had occupied before her marriage, and in that very chair in which she had passed so many bitter hours.
She sank back in its arms as if it were an old friend;
and fell to thinking over the past week, and the life beyond it. Already to be looking sadly and vaguely back: always to be pining for something which, when obtained, brought doubt and sadness rather than pleasure; here was the lot of our poor little creature and harmless lost wanderer in the great struggling crowds of Vanity Fair.
Here she sate, and recalled to herself fondly that image of George to which she had knelt before marriage. Did she own to herself how different the real man was from that superb young hero whom she had worshipped? It requires many, many years-and a man must be very bad indeed-before a woman's pride and vanity will let her own to such a confession. Then Rebecca's twinkling green eyes and baleful smile lighted upon her, and filled her with dismay. And so she sate for awhile indulging in her usual mood of selfish brooding, in that very listless melancholy attitude in which the honest maid-servant had found her, on the day when she brought up the letter in which George renewed his offer of marriage.
She looked at the little white bed, which had been hers a few days before, and thought she would like to sleep in it that night, and wake, as formerly, with her mother smiling over her in the morning: Then she thought with terror of the great funereal damask pavilion in the vast and dingy state bedroom, which was awaiting her at the grand hotel in Cavendish Square. Dear little white bed!
how many a long night had she wept on its pillow!
How she had despaired and hoped to die there; and now were not all her wishes accomplished, and the lover of whom she had despaired her own for ever? Kind mother!
how patiently and tenderly she had watched round that bed! She went and knelt down by the bedside; and there this wounded and timorous, but gentle and loving soul, sought for consolation, where as yet, it must be owned, our little girl had but seldom looked for it. Love had been her faith hitherto; and the sad, bleeding disappointed heart began to feel the want of another consoler.
Have we a right to repeat or to overhear her prayers?
These, brother, are secrets, and out of the domain of
Vanity Fair, in which our story lies.
But this may be said, that when the tea was finally announced, our young lady came downstairs a great deal more cheerful; that she did not despond, or deplore her fate, or think about George's coldness, or Rebecca's eyes, as she had been wont to do of late. She went downstairs, and kissed her father and mother, and talked to the old gentleman, and made him more merry than he had been for many a day. She sate down at the piano which Dobbin had bought for her, and sang over all her father's favourite old songs. She pronounced the tea to be excellent, and praised the exquisite taste in which the marmalade was arranged in the saucers. And in determining to make everybody else happy, she found herself so; and was sound asleep in the great funereal pavilion, and only woke up with a smile when George arrived from the theatre.
For the next day, George had more important "business"
to transact than that which took him to see Mr.
Kean in Shylock. Immediately on his arrival in London he had written off to his father's solicitors, signifying his royal pleasure that an interview should take place between them on the morrow. His hotel bill, losses at billiards and cards to Captain Crawley had almost drained the young man's purse, which wanted replenishing before he set out on his travels, and he had no resource but to infringe upon the two thousand pounds which the attorneys were commissioned to pay over to him. He had a perfect belief in his own mind that his father would relent before very long. How could any parent be obdurate for a length of time against such a paragon as he was? If his mere past and personal merits did not succeed in mollifying his father, George determined that he would distinguish himself so prodigiously in the ensuing campaign that the old gentleman must give in to him. And if not? Bah! the world was before him. His luck might change at cards, and there was a deal of spending in two thousand pounds.
So he sent off Amelia once more in a carriage to her mamma, with strict orders and carte blanche to the two ladies to purchase everything requisite for a lady of Mrs.
George Osborne's fashion, who was going on a foreign tour. They had but one day to complete the outfit, and it may be imagined that their business therefore occupied them pretty fully. In a carriage once more, bustling about from milliner to linen-draper, escorted back to the carriage by obsequious shopmen or polite owners, Mrs.
Sedley was herself again almost, and sincerely happy for the first time since their misfortunes. Nor was Mrs.
Amelia at all above the pleasure of shopping, and bargaining, and seeing and buying pretty things. (Would any man, the most philosophic, give twopence for a woman who was?) She gave herself a little treat, obedient to her husband's orders, and purchased a quantity of lady's gear, showing a great deal of taste and elegant discernment, as all the shopfolks said.
And about the war that was ensuing, Mrs. Osborne was not much alarmed; Bonaparty was to be crushed almost without a struggle. Margate packets were sailing every day, filled with men of fashion and ladies of note, on their way to Brussels and Ghent. People were going not so much to a war as to a fashionable tour. The newspapers laughed the wretched upstart and swindler to scorn. Such a Corsican wretch as that withstand the armies of Europe and the genius of the immortal
Wellington! Amelia held him in utter contempt; for it needs not to be said that this soft and gentle creature took her opinions from those people who surrounded her, such fidelity being much too humble-minded to think for itself.
Well, in a word, she and her mother performed a great day's shopping, and she acquitted herself with considerable liveliness and credit on this her first appearance in the genteel world of London.
George meanwhile, with his hat on one side, his elbows squared, and his swaggering martial air, made for
Bedford Row, and stalked into the attorney's offices as if he was lord of every pale-faced clerk who was scribbling there. He ordered somebody to inform Mr. Higgs that
Captain Osborne was waiting, in a fierce and patronizing way, as if the pekin of an attorney, who had thrice his brains, fifty times his money, and a thousand times his experience, was a wretched underling who should instantly leave all his business in life to attend on the
Captain's pleasure. He did not see the sneer of contempt which passed all round the room, from the first clerk to the articled gents, from the articled gents to the ragged writers and white-faced runners, in clothes too tight for them, as he sate there tapping his boot with his cane, and thinking what a parcel of miserable poor devils these were. The miserable poor devils knew all about his affairs. They talked about them over their pints of beer at their public-house clubs to other clerks of a night.
Ye gods, what do not attorneys and attorneys' clerks know in London! Nothing is hidden from their inquisition, and their families mutely rule our city.
Perhaps George expected, when he entered Mr. Higgs's apartment, to find that gentleman commissioned to give him some message of compromise or conciliation from his father; perhaps his haughty and cold demeanour was adopted as a sign of his spirit and resolution: but if so, his fierceness was met by a chilling coolness and indifference on the attorney's part, that rendered swaggering absurd. He pretended to be writing at a paper, when the Captain entered. "Pray, sit down, sir," said he,
"and I will attend to your little affair in a moment. Mr.
Poe, get the release papers, if you please"; and then he fell to writing again.
Poe having produced those papers, his chief calculated the amount of two thousand pounds stock at the rate of the day; and asked Captain Osborne whether he would take the sum in a cheque upon the bankers, or whether he should direct the latter to purchase stock to that amount. "One of the late Mrs. Osborne's trustees is out of town," he said indifferently, "but my client wishes to meet your wishes, and have done with the business as quick as possible."
"Give me a cheque, sir," said the Captain very surlily.
"Damn the shillings and halfpence, sir," he added, as the lawyer was making out the amount of the draft; and, flattering himself that by this stroke of magnanimity he had put the old quiz to the blush, he stalked out of the office with the paper in his pocket.
"That chap will be in gaol in two years," Mr. Higgs said to Mr. Poe.
"Won't O. come round, sir, don't you think?"
"Won't the monument come round," Mr. Higgs replied.
"He's going it pretty fast," said the clerk. "He's only married a week, and I saw him and some other military chaps handing Mrs. Highflyer to her carriage after the play." And then another case was called, and Mr. George
Osborne thenceforth dismissed from these worthy gentlemen's memory.
The draft was upon our friends Hulker and Bullock of
Lombard Street, to whose house, still thinking he was doing business, George bent his way, and from whom he received his money. Frederick Bullock, Esq., whose yellow face was over a ledger, at which sate a demure clerk, happened to be in the banking-room when George entered.
His yellow face turned to a more deadly colour when he saw the Captain, and he slunk back guiltily into the inmost parlour. George was too busy gloating over the money (for he had never had such a sum before), to mark the countenance or flight of the cadaverous suitor of his sister.
Fred Bullock told old Osborne of his son's appearance and conduct. "He came in as bold as brass," said
Frederick. "He has drawn out every shilling. How long will a few hundred pounds last such a chap as that?"
Osborne swore with a great oath that he little cared when or how soon he spent it. Fred dined every day in Russell
Square now. But altogether, George was highly pleased with his day's business. All his own baggage and outfit was put into a state of speedy preparation, and he paid
Amelia's purchases with cheques on his agents, and with the splendour of a lord.
In Which Amelia Joins Her Regiment
When Jos's fine carriage drove up to the inn door at
Chatham, the first face which Amelia recognized was the friendly countenance of Captain Dobbin, who had been pacing the street for an hour past in expectation of his friends' arrival. The Captain, with shells on his frockcoat, and a crimson sash and sabre, presented a military appearance, which made Jos quite proud to be able to claim such an acquaintance, and the stout civilian hailed him with a cordiality very different from the reception which Jos vouchsafed to his friend in Brighton and Bond
Along with the Captain was Ensign Stubble; who, as the barouche neared the inn, burst out with an exclamation of "By Jove! what a pretty girl"; highly applauding
Osborne's choice. Indeed, Amelia dressed in her wedding-
pelisse and pink ribbons, with a flush in her face, occasioned by rapid travel through the open air, looked so fresh and pretty, as fully to justify the Ensign's compliment.
Dobbin liked him for making it. As he stepped forward to help the lady out of the carriage, Stubble saw what a pretty little hand she gave him, and what a sweet pretty little foot came tripping down the step. He blushed profusely, and made the very best bow of which he was capable; to which Amelia, seeing the number of the the regiment embroidered on the Ensign's cap, replied with a blushing smile, and a curtsey on her part; which finished the young Ensign on the spot. Dobbin took most kindly to
Mr. Stubble from that day, and encouraged him to talk about Amelia in their private walks, and at each other's quarters. It became the fashion, indeed, among all the honest young fellows of the -th to adore and admire
Mrs. Osborne. Her simple artless behaviour, and modest kindness of demeanour, won all their unsophisticated hearts; all which simplicity and sweetness are quite impossible to describe in print. But who has not beheld these among women, and recognised the presence of all sorts of qualities in them, even though they say no more to you than that they are engaged to dance the next quadrille, or that it is very hot weather? George, always the champion of his regiment, rose immensely in the opinion of the youth of the corps, by his gallantry in marrying this portionless young creature, and by his choice of such a pretty kind partner.
In the sitting-room which was awaiting the travellers,
Amelia, to her surprise, found a letter addressed to Mrs.
Captain Osborne. It was a triangular billet, on pink paper, and sealed with a dove and an olive branch, and a profusion of light blue sealing wax, and it was written in a very large, though undecided female hand.
"It's Peggy O'Dowd's fist," said George, laughing. "I
know it by the kisses on the seal." And in fact, it was a note from Mrs. Major O'Dowd, requesting the pleasure of Mrs. Osborne's company that very evening to a small friendly party. "You must go," George said. "You will make acquaintance with the regiment there. O'Dowd goes in command of the regiment, and Peggy goes in command
But they had not been for many minutes in the enjoyment of Mrs. O'Dowd's letter, when the door was flung open, and a stout jolly lady, in a riding-habit, followed by a couple of officers of Ours, entered the room.
"Sure, I couldn't stop till tay-time. Present me, Garge, my dear fellow, to your lady. Madam, I'm deloighted to see ye; and to present to you me husband, Meejor
O'Dowd"; and with this, the jolly lady in the riding-habit grasped Amelia's hand very warmly, and the latter knew at once that the lady was before her whom her husband had so often laughed at. "You've often heard of me from that husband of yours," said the lady, with great vivacity.
"You've often heard of her," echoed her husband, the
Amelia answered, smiling, "that she had."
"And small good he's told you of me," Mrs. O'Dowd replied; adding that "George was a wicked divvle."
"That I'll go bail for," said the Major, trying to look knowing, at which George laughed; and Mrs. O'Dowd, with a tap of her whip, told the Major to be quiet; and then requested to be presented in form to Mrs. Captain
"This, my dear," said George with great gravity, "is my very good, kind, and excellent friend, Auralia Margaretta, otherwise called Peggy."
"Faith, you're right," interposed the Major.
"Otherwise called Peggy, lady of Major Michael
O'Dowd, of our regiment, and daughter of Fitzjurld
Ber'sford de Burgo Malony of Glenmalony, County Kildare."
"And Muryan Squeer, Doblin," said the lady with calm superiority.
"And Muryan Square, sure enough," the Major whispered.
"'Twas there ye coorted me, Meejor dear," the lady said; and the Major assented to this as to every other proposition which was made generally in company.
Major O'Dowd, who had served his sovereign in every quarter of the world, and had paid for every step in his profession by some more than equivalent act of daring and gallantry, was the most modest, silent, sheep-faced and meek of little men, and as obedient to his wife as if he had been her tay-boy. At the mess-table he sat silently, and drank a great deal. When full of liquor, he reeled silently home. When he spoke, it was to agree with everybody on every conceivable point; and he passed through life in perfect ease and good-humour. The hottest suns of India never heated his temper; and the
Walcheren ague never shook it. He walked up to a battery with just as much indifference as to a dinner-table; had dined on horse-flesh and turtle with equal relish and appetite; and had an old mother, Mrs. O'Dowd of
O'Dowdstown indeed, whom he had never disobeyed but when he ran away and enlisted, and when he persisted in marrying that odious Peggy Malony.
Peggy was one of five sisters, and eleven children of the noble house of Glenmalony; but her husband, though her own cousin, was of the mother's side, and so had not the inestimable advantage of being allied to the Malonys, whom she believed to be the most famous family in the world. Having tried nine seasons at Dublin and two at
Bath and Cheltenham, and not finding a partner for life,
Miss Malony ordered her cousin Mick to marry her when she was about thirty-three years of age; and the honest fellow obeying, carried her off to the West Indies, to preside over the ladies of the -th regiment, into which he had just exchanged.
Before Mrs. O'Dowd was half an hour in Amelia's (or indeed in anybody else's) company, this amiable lady told all her birth and pedigree to her new friend. "My dear,"
said she, good-naturedly, "it was my intention that Garge should be a brother of my own, and my sister Glorvina would have suited him entirely. But as bygones are bygones, and he was engaged to yourself, why, I'm determined to take you as a sister instead, and to look upon you as such, and to love you as one of the family. Faith, you've got such a nice good-natured face and way widg you, that I'm sure we'll agree; and that you'll be an addition to our family anyway."
"'Deed and she will," said O'Dowd, with an approving air, and Amelia felt herself not a little amused and grateful to be thus suddenly introduced to so large a party of relations.
"We're all good fellows here," the Major's lady continued.
"There's not a regiment in the service where you'll find a more united society nor a more agreeable mess-
room. There's no quarrelling, bickering, slandthering, nor small talk amongst us. We all love each other."
"Especially Mrs. Magenis," said George, laughing.
"Mrs. Captain Magenis and me has made up, though her treatment of me would bring me gray hairs with sorrow to the grave."
"And you with such a beautiful front of black, Peggy, my dear," the Major cried.
"Hould your tongue, Mick, you booby. Them husbands are always in the way, Mrs. Osborne, my dear; and as for my Mick, I often tell him he should never open his mouth but to give the word of command, or to put meat and drink into it. I'll tell you about the regiment, and warn you when we're alone. Introduce me to your brother now; sure he's a mighty fine man, and reminds me of me cousin, Dan Malony (Malony of Ballymalony, my dear, you know who mar'ied Ophalia Scully, of Oystherstown, own cousin to Lord Poldoody). Mr. Sedley, sir, I'm deloighted to be made known te ye. I suppose you'll dine at the mess to-day. (Mind that divvle of a docther, Mick, and whatever ye du, keep yourself sober for me party this evening.)"
"It's the 150th gives us a farewell dinner, my love,"
interposed the Major, "but we'll easy get a card for Mr.
"Run Simple (Ensign Simple, of Ours, my dear Amelia.
I forgot to introjuice him to ye). Run in a hurry, with
Mrs. Major O'Dowd's compliments to Colonel Tavish, and Captain Osborne has brought his brothernlaw down, and will bring him to the 150th mess at five o'clock sharp
-when you and I, my dear, will take a snack here, if you like." Before Mrs. O'Dowd's speech was concluded, the young Ensign was trotting downstairs on his commission.
"Obedience is the soul of the army. We will go to our duty while Mrs. O'Dowd will stay and enlighten you,
Emmy," Captain Osborne said; and the two gentlemen, taking each a wing of the Major, walked out with that officer, grinning at each other over his head.
And, now having her new friend to herself, the impetuous
Mrs: O'Dowd proceeded to pour out such a quantity of information as no poor little woman's memory could ever tax itself to bear. She told Amelia a thousand particulars relative to the very numerous family of which the amazed young lady found herself a member. "Mrs.
Heavytop, the Colonel's wife, died in Jamaica of the yellow faver and a broken heart comboined, for the horrud old Colonel, with a head as bald as a cannon-ball, was making sheep's eyes at a half-caste girl there. Mrs.
Magenis, though without education, was a good woman, but she had the divvle's tongue, and would cheat her own mother at whist. Mrs. Captain Kirk must turn up her lobster eyes forsooth at the idea of an honest round game
(wherein me fawther, as pious a man as ever went to church, me uncle Dane Malony, and our cousin the
Bishop, took a hand at loo, or whist, every night of their lives). Nayther of 'em's goin' with the regiment this time,"
Mrs. O'Dowd added. "Fanny Magenis stops with her mother, who sells small coal and potatoes, most likely, in Islington-town, hard by London, though she's always bragging of her father's ships, and pointing them out to us as they go up the river: and Mrs. Kirk and her children will stop here in Bethesda Place, to be nigh to her favourite preacher, Dr. Ramshorn. Mrs. Bunny's in an interesting situation-faith, and she always is, then-and has given the Lieutenant seven already. And Ensign Posky's wife, who joined two months before you, my dear, has quarl'd with Tom Posky a score of times, till you can hear'm all over the bar'ck (they say they're come to broken pleets, and Tom never accounted for his black oi), and she'll go back to her mother, who keeps a ladies'
siminary at Richmond-bad luck to her for running away from it! Where did ye get your finishing, my dear? I had moin, and no expince spared, at Madame Flanahan's, at
Ilyssus Grove, Booterstown, near Dublin, wid a Marchioness to teach us the true Parisian pronunciation, and a retired
Mejor-General of the French service to put us through the exercise."
Of this incongruous family our astonished Amelia found herself all of a sudden a member: with Mrs. O'Dowd as an elder sister. She was presented to her other female relations at tea-time, on whom, as she was quiet, good-
natured, and not too handsome, she made rather an agreeable impression until the arrival of the gentlemen from the mess of the 150th, who all admired her so, that her sisters began, of course, to find fault with her.
"I hope Osborne has sown his wild oats," said Mrs.
Magenis to Mrs. Bunny. "If a reformed rake makes a good husband, sure it's she will have the fine chance with
Garge," Mrs. O'Dowd remarked to Posky, who had lost her position as bride in the regiment, and was quite angry with the usurper. And as for Mrs. Kirk: that disciple of
Dr. Ramshorn put one or two leading professional questions to Amelia, to see whether she was awakened, whether she was a professing Christian and so forth, and finding from the simplicity of Mrs. Osborne's replies that she was yet in utter darkness, put into her hands three little penny books with pictures, viz., the "Howling
Wilderness," the "Washerwoman of Wandsworth Common,"
and the "British Soldier's best Bayonet," which, bent upon awakening her before she slept, Mrs. Kirk begged Amelia to read that night ere she went to bed.
But all the men, like good fellows as they were, rallied round their comrade's pretty wife, and paid her their court with soldierly gallantry. She had a little triumph, which flushed her spirits and made her eyes sparkle.
George was proud of her popularity, and pleased with the manner (which was very gay and graceful, though naive and a little timid) with which she received the gentlemen's attentions, and answered their compliments. And he in his uniform-how much handsomer he was than any man in the room! She felt that he was affectionately watching her, and glowed with pleasure at his kindness. "I
will make all his friends welcome," she resolved in her heart. "I will love all as I love him. I will always try and be gay and good-humoured and make his home happy."
The regiment indeed adopted her with acclamation.
The Captains approved, the Lieutenants applauded, the
Ensigns admired. Old Cutler, the Doctor, made one or two jokes, which, being professional, need not be repeated;
and Cackle, the Assistant M.D. of Edinburgh, condescended to examine her upon leeterature, and tried her with his three best French quotations. Young Stubble went about from man to man whispering, "Jove, isn't she a pretty gal?" and never took his eyes off her except when the negus came in.
As for Captain Dobbin, he never so much as spoke to her during the whole evening. But he and Captain Porter of the l50th took home Jos to the hotel, who was in a very maudlin state, and had told his tiger-hunt story with great effect, both at the mess-table and at the soiree, to
Mrs. O'Dowd in her turban and bird of paradise. Having put the Collector into the hands of his servant, Dobbin loitered about, smoking his cigar before the inn door.
George had meanwhile very carefully shawled his wife, and brought her away from Mrs. O'Dowd's after a general handshaking from the young officers, who accompanied her to the fly, and cheered that vehicle as it drove off. So
Amelia gave Dobbin her little hand as she got out of the carriage, and rebuked him smilingly for not having taken any notice of her all night.
The Captain continued that deleterious amusement of smoking, long after the inn and the street were gone to bed. He watched the lights vanish from George's sitting-
room windows, and shine out in the bedroom close at hand. It was almost morning when he returned to his own quarters. He could hear the cheering from the ships in the river, where the transports were already taking in their cargoes preparatory to dropping down the Thames.
In Which Amelia Invades the Low Countries
The regiment with its officers was to be transported in ships provided by His Majesty's government for the occasion: and in two days after the festive assembly at Mrs.
O'Dowd's apartments, in the midst of cheering from all the East India ships in the river, and the military on shore, the band playing "God Save the King," the officers waving their hats, and the crews hurrahing gallantly, the transports went down the river and proceeded under convoy to
Ostend. Meanwhile the gallant Jos had agreed to escort his sister and the Major's wife, the bulk of whose goods and chattels, including the famous bird of paradise and turban, were with the regimental baggage: so that our two heroines drove pretty much unencumbered to
Ramsgate, where there were plenty of packets plying, in one of which they had a speedy passage to Ostend.
That period of Jos's life which now ensued was so full of incident, that it served him for conversation for many years after, and even the tiger-hunt story was put aside for more stirring narratives which he had to tell about the great campaign of Waterloo. As soon as he had agreed to escort his sister abroad, it was remarked that he ceased shaving his upper lip. At Chatham he followed the parades and drills with great assiduity. He listened with the utmost attention to the conversation of his brother officers (as he called them in after days sometimes), and learned as many military names as he could.
In these studies the excellent Mrs. O'Dowd was of great assistance to him; and on the day finally when they embarked on board the Lovely Rose, which was to carry them to their destination, he made his appearance in a braided frock-coat and duck trousers, with a foraging cap ornamented with a smart gold band. Having his carriage with him, and informing everybody on board confidentially that he was going to join the Duke of
Wellington's army, folks mistook him for a great personage, a commissary-general, or a government courier at the very least.
He suffered hugely on the voyage, during which the ladies were likewise prostrate; but Amelia was brought to life again as the packet made Ostend, by the sight of the transports conveying her regiment, which entered the harbour almost at the same time with the Lovely Rose.
Jos went in a collapsed state to an inn, while Captain
Dobbin escorted the ladies, and then busied himself in freeing Jos's carriage and luggage from the ship and the custom-house, for Mr. Jos was at present without a servant, Osborne's man and his own pampered menial having conspired together at Chatham, and refused point-
blank to cross the water. This revolt, which came very suddenly, and on the last day, so alarmed Mr. Sedley, junior, that he was on the point of giving up the expedition, but Captain Dobbin (who made himself immensely officious in the business, Jos said), rated him and laughed at him soundly: the mustachios were grown in advance, and Jos finally was persuaded to embark. In place of the well-bred and well-fed London domestics, who could only speak English, Dobbin procured for Jos's party a swarthy little Belgian servant who could speak no language at all; but who, by his bustling behaviour, and by invariably addressing Mr. Sedley as "My lord,"
speedily acquired that gentleman's favour. Times are altered at Ostend now; of the Britons who go thither, very few look like lords, or act like those members of our hereditary aristocracy. They seem for the most part shabby in attire, dingy of linen, lovers of billiards and brandy, and cigars and greasy ordinaries.
But it may be said as a rule, that every Englishman in the Duke of Wellington's army paid his way. The remembrance of such a fact surely becomes a nation of shopkeepers. It was a blessing for a commerce-loving country to be overrun by such an army of customers: and to have such creditable warriors to feed. And the country which they came to protect is not military. For a long period of history they have let other people fight there. When the present writer went to survey with eagle glance the field of Waterloo, we asked the conductor of the diligence, a portly warlike-looking veteran, whether he had been at the battle. "Pas si bete"-such an answer and sentiment as no Frenchman would own to-
was his reply. But, on the other hand, the postilion who drove us was a Viscount, a son of some bankrupt
Imperial General, who accepted a pennyworth of beer on the road. The moral is surely a good one.
This flat, flourishing, easy country never could have looked more rich and prosperous than in that opening summer of 1815, when its green fields and quiet cities were enlivened by multiplied red-coats: when its wide chaussees swarmed with brilliant English equipages: when its great canal-boats, gliding by rich pastures and pleasant quaint old villages, by old chateaux lying amongst old trees, were all crowded with well-to-do English travellers: when the soldier who drank at the village inn, not only drank, but paid his score; and Donald, the Highlander, billeted in the Flemish farm-house, rocked the baby's cradle, while Jean and Jeannette were out getting in the hay. As our painters are bent on military subjects just now, I throw out this as a good subject for the pencil, to illustrate the principle of an honest
English war. All looked as brilliant and harmless as a
Hyde Park review. Meanwhile, Napoleon screened behind his curtain of frontier-fortresses, was preparing for the outbreak which was to drive all these orderly people into fury and blood; and lay so many of them low.
Everybody had such a perfect feeling of confidence in the leader (for the resolute faith which the Duke of
Wellington had inspired in the whole English nation was as intense as that more frantic enthusiasm with which at one time the French regarded Napoleon), the country seemed in so perfect a state of orderly defence, and the help at hand in case of need so near and overwhelming, that alarm was unknown, and our travellers, among whom two were naturally of a very timid sort, were, like all the other multiplied English tourists, entirely at ease. The famous regiment, with so many of whose officers we have made acquaintance, was drafted in canal boats to Bruges and Ghent, thence to march to Brussels.
Jos accompanied the ladies in the public boats; the which all old travellers in Flanders must remember for the luxury and accommodation they afforded. So prodigiously good was the eating and drinking on board these sluggish but most comfortable vessels, that there are legends extant of an English traveller, who, coming to Belgium for a week, and travelling in one of these boats, was so delighted with the fare there that he went backwards and forwards from Ghent to Bruges perpetually until the railroads were invented, when he drowned himself on the last trip of the passage-boat. Jos's death was not to be of this sort, but his comfort was exceeding, and Mrs.
O'Dowd insisted that he only wanted her sister Glorvina to make his happiness complete. He sate on the roof of the cabin all day drinking Flemish beer, shouting for
Isidor, his servant, and talking gallantly to the ladies.
His courage was prodigious. "Boney attack us!" he cried. "My dear creature, my poor Emmy, don't be frightened. There's no danger. The allies will be in Paris in two months, I tell you; when I'll take you to dine in the Palais Royal, by Jove! There are three hundred thousand Rooshians, I tell you, now entering France by
Mayence and the Rhine-three hundred thousand under
Wittgenstein and Barclay de Tolly, my poor love. You don't know military affairs, my dear. I do, and I tell you there's no infantry in France can stand against
Rooshian infantry, and no general of Boney's that's fit to hold a candle to Wittgenstein. Then there are the
Austrians, they are five hundred thousand if a man, and they are within ten marches of the frontier by this time, under Schwartzenberg and Prince Charles. Then there are the Prooshians under the gallant Prince Marshal. Show me a cavalry chief like him now that Murat is gone.
Hey, Mrs. O'Dowd? Do you think our little girl here need be afraid? Is there any cause for fear, Isidor? Hey, sir? Get some more beer."
Mrs. O'Dowd said that her "Glorvina was not afraid of any man alive, let alone a Frenchman," and tossed off a glass of beer with a wink which expressed her liking for the beverage.
Having frequently been in presence of the enemy, or, in other words, faced the ladies at Cheltenham and Bath, our friend, the Collector, had lost a great deal of his pristine timidity, and was now, especially when fortified with liquor, as talkative as might be. He was rather a favourite with the regiment, treating the young officers with sumptuosity, and amusing them by his military airs.
And as there is one well-known regiment of the army which travels with a goat heading the column, whilst another is led by a deer, George said with respect to his brother-in-law, that his regiment marched with an elephant.
Since Amelia's introduction to the regiment, George began to be rather ashamed of some of the company to which he had been forced to present her; and determined, as he told Dobbin (with what satisfaction to the latter it need not be said), to exchange into some better regiment soon, and to get his wife away from those damned vulgar women. But this vulgarity of being ashamed of one's society is much more common among men than women (except very great ladies of fashion, who, to be sure, indulge in it); and Mrs. Amelia, a natural and unaffected person, had none of that artificial shamefacedness which her husband mistook for delicacy on his own part. Thus Mrs. O'Dowd had a cock's plume in her hat, and a very large "repayther" on her stomach, which she used to ring on all occasions, narrating how it had been presented to her by her fawther, as she stipt into the car'ge after her mar'ge; and these ornaments, with other outward peculiarities of the Major's wife, gave excruciating agonies to Captain Osborne, when his wife and the
Major's came in contact; whereas Amelia was only amused by the honest lady's eccentricities, and not in the least ashamed of her company.
As they made that well-known journey, which almost every Englishman of middle rank has travelled since, there might have been more instructive, but few more entertaining, companions than Mrs. Major O'Dowd. "Talk about kenal boats; my dear! Ye should see the kenal boats between Dublin and Ballinasloe. It's there the rapid travelling is; and the beautiful cattle. Sure me fawther got a goold medal (and his Excellency himself eat a slice of it, and said never was finer mate in his loif) for a four-year-old heifer, the like of which ye never saw in this country any day." And Jos owned with a sigh, "that for good streaky beef, really mingled with fat and lean, there was no country like England."
"Except Ireland, where all your best mate comes from,"
said the Major's lady; proceeding, as is not unusual with patriots of her nation, to make comparisons greatly in favour of her own country. The idea of comparing the market at Bruges with those of Dublin, although she had suggested it herself, caused immense scorn and derision on her part. "I'll thank ye tell me what they mean by that old gazabo on the top of the market-place," said she, in a burst of ridicule fit to have brought the old tower down. The place was full of English soldiery as they passed. English bugles woke them in the morning;
at nightfall they went to bed to the note of the British fife and drum: all the country and Europe was in arms, and the greatest event of history pending: and honest
Peggy O'Dowd, whom it concerned as well as another, went on prattling about Ballinafad, and the horses in the stables at Glenmalony, and the clar't drunk there; and
Jos Sedley interposed about curry and rice at Dumdum;
and Amelia thought about her husband, and how best she should show her love for him; as if these were the great topics of the world.
Those who like to lay down the History-book, and to speculate upon what MIGHT have happened in the world, but for the fatal occurrence of what actually did take place (a most puzzling, amusing, ingenious, and profitable kind of meditation), have no doubt often thought to themselves what a specially bad time Napoleon took to come back from Elba, and to let loose his eagle from
Gulf San Juan to Notre Dame. The historians on our side tell us that the armies of the allied powers were all providentially on a war-footing, and ready to bear down at a moment's notice upon the Elban Emperor.
The august jobbers assembled at Vienna, and carving out the kingdoms of Europe according to their wisdom, had such causes of quarrel among themselves as might have set the armies which had overcome Napoleon to fight against each other, but for the return of the object of unanimous hatred and fear. This monarch had an army in full force because he had jobbed to himself Poland, and was determined to keep it: another had robbed half
Saxony, and was bent upon maintaining his acquisition:
Italy was the object of a third's solicitude. Each was protesting against the rapacity of the other; and could the
Corsican but have waited in prison until all these parties were by the ears, he might have returned and reigned unmolested. But what would have become of our story and all our friends, then? If all the drops in it were dried up, what would become of the sea?
In the meanwhile the business of life and living, and the pursuits of pleasure, especially, went on as if no end were to be expected to them, and no enemy in front.
When our travellers arrived at Brussels, in which their regiment was quartered, a great piece of good fortune, as all said, they found themselves in one of the gayest and most brilliant little capitals in Europe, and where all the Vanity Fair booths were laid out with the most tempting liveliness and splendour. Gambling was here in profusion, and dancing in plenty: feasting was there to fill with delight that great gourmand of a Jos: there was a theatre where a miraculous Catalani was delighting all hearers: beautiful rides, all enlivened with martial splendour; a rare old city, with strange costumes and wonderful architecture, to delight the eyes of little Amelia, who had never before seen a foreign country, and fill her with charming surprises: so that now and for a few weeks' space in a fine handsome lodging, whereof the expenses were borne by Jos and Osborne, who was flush of money and full of kind attentions to his wife-for about a fortnight, I say, during which her honeymoon ended, Mrs. Amelia was as pleased and happy as any little bride out of England.
Every day during this happy time there was novelty and amusement for all parties. There was a church to see, or a picture-gallery-there was a ride, or an opera.
The bands of the regiments were making music at all hours. The greatest folks of England walked in the Park
-there was a perpetual military festival. George, taking out his wife to a new jaunt or junket every night, was quite pleased with himself as usual, and swore he was becoming quite a domestic character. And a jaunt or a junket with HIM! Was it not enough to set this little heart beating with joy? Her letters home to her mother were filled with delight and gratitude at this season. Her husband bade her buy laces, millinery, jewels, and gimcracks of all sorts. Oh, he was the kindest, best, and most generous of men!
The sight of the very great company of lords and ladies and fashionable persons who thronged the town, and appeared in every public place, filled George's truly British soul with intense delight. They flung off that happy frigidity and insolence of demeanour which occasionally characterises the great at home, and appearing in numberless public places, condescended to mingle with the rest of the company whom they met there. One night at a party given by the general of the division to which
George's regiment belonged, he had the honour of dancing with Lady Blanche Thistlewood, Lord Bareacres'
daughter; he bustled for ices and refreshments for the two noble ladies; he pushed and squeezed for Lady
Bareacres' carriage; he bragged about the Countess when he got home, in a way which his own father could not have surpassed. He called upon the ladies the next day;
he rode by their side in the Park; he asked their party to a great dinner at a restaurateur's, and was quite wild with exultation when they agreed to come. Old
Bareacres, who had not much pride and a large appetite, would go for a dinner anywhere.
"I.hope there will be no women besides our own party," Lady Bareacres said, after reflecting upon the invitation which had been made, and accepted with too much precipitancy.
"Gracious Heaven, Mamma-you don't suppose the man would bring his wife," shrieked Lady Blanche, who had been languishing in George's arms in the newly imported waltz for hours the night before. "The men are bearable, but their women-"
"Wife, just married, dev'lish pretty woman, I hear,"
the old Earl said.
"Well, my dear Blanche," said the mother, "I suppose, as Papa wants to go, we must go; but we needn't know them in England, you know." And so, determined to cut their new acquaintance in Bond Street, these great folks went to eat his dinner at Brussels, and condescending to make him pay for their pleasure, showed their dignity by making his wife uncomfortable, and carefully excluding her from the conversation. This is a species of dignity in which the high-bred British female reigns supreme. To watch the behaviour of a fine lady to other and humbler women, is a very good sport for a philosophical frequenter of Vanity Fair.
This festival, on which honest George spent a great deal of money, was the very dismallest of all the entertainments which Amelia had in her honeymoon. She wrote the most piteous accounts of the feast home to her mamma: how the Countess of Bareacres would not answer when spoken to; how Lady Blanche stared at her with her eye-glass; and what a rage Captain Dobbin was in at their behaviour; and how my lord, as they came away from the feast, asked to see the bill, and pronounced it a d- bad dinner, and d- dear. But though Amelia told all these stories, and wrote home regarding her guests' rudeness, and her own discomfiture, old Mrs. Sedley was mightily pleased nevertheless, and talked about Emmy's friend, the Countess of
Bareacres, with such assiduity that the news how his son was entertaining peers and peeresses actually came to
Osborne's ears in the City.
Those who know the present Lieutenant-General Sir
George Tufto, K.C.B., and have seen him, as they may on most days in the season, padded and in stays, strutting down Pall Mall with a rickety swagger on his high-heeled lacquered boots, leering under the bonnets of passers-
by, or riding a showy chestnut, and ogling broughams in the Parks-those who know the present Sir George Tufto would hardly recognise the daring Peninsular and Waterloo officer. He has thick curling brown hair and black eyebrows now, and his whiskers are of the deepest purple. He was light-haired and bald in 1815, and stouter in the person and in the limbs, which especially have shrunk very much of late. When he was about seventy years of age (he is now nearly eighty), his hair, which was very scarce and quite white, suddenly grew thick, and brown, and curly, and his whiskers and eyebrows took their present colour. Ill-natured people say that his chest is all wool, and that his hair, because it never grows, is a wig. Tom Tufto, with whose father he quarrelled ever so many years ago, declares that Mademoiselle de Jaisey, of the French theatre, pulled his grandpapa's hair off in the green-room; but Tom is notoriously spiteful and jealous; and the General's wig has nothing to do with our story.
One day, as some of our friends of the -th were sauntering in the flower-market of Brussels, having been to see the Hotel de Ville, which Mrs. Major O'Dowd declared was not near so large or handsome as her fawther's mansion of Glenmalony, an officer of rank, with an orderly behind him, rode up to the market, and descending from his horse, came amongst the flowers, and selected the very finest bouquet which money could buy.
The beautiful bundle being tied up in a paper, the officer remounted, giving the nosegay into the charge of his military groom, who carried it with a grin, following his chief, who rode away in great state and self-satisfaction.
"You should see the flowers at Glenmalony," Mrs.
O'Dowd was remarking. "Me fawther has three Scotch garners with nine helpers. We have an acre of hot-houses, and pines as common as pays in the sayson. Our greeps weighs six pounds every bunch of 'em, and upon me honour and conscience I think our magnolias is as big as taykettles."
Dobbin, who never used to "draw out" Mrs. O'Dowd as that wicked Osborne delighted in doing (much to
Amelia's terror, who implored him to spare her), fell back in the crowd, crowing and sputtering until he reached a safe distance, when he exploded amongst the astonished market-people with shrieks of yelling laughter.
"Hwhat's that gawky guggling about?" said Mrs.
O'Dowd. "Is it his nose bleedn? He always used to say
'twas his nose bleedn, till he must have pomped all the blood out of 'um. An't the magnolias at Glenmalony as big as taykettles, O'Dowd?"
"'Deed then they are, and bigger, Peggy," the Major said. When the conversation was interrupted in the manner stated by the arrival of the officer who purchased the bouquet.
"Devlish fine horse-who is it?" George asked.
"You should see me brother Molloy Malony's horse,
Molasses, that won the cop at the Curragh," the Major's wife was exclaiming, and was continuing the family history, when her husband interrupted her by saying-
"It's General Tufto, who commands the - cavalry division"; adding quietly, "he and I were both shot in the same leg at Talavera."
"Where you got your step," said George with a laugh.
"General Tufto! Then, my dear, the Crawleys are come."
Amelia's heart fell-she knew not why. The sun did not seem to shine so bright. The tall old roofs and gables looked less picturesque all of a sudden, though it was a brilliant sunset, and one of the brightest and most beautiful days at the end of May.
Mr. Jos had hired a pair of horses for his open carriage, with which cattle, and the smart London vehicle, he made a very tolerable figure in the drives about Brussels.
George purchased a horse for his private riding, and he and Captain Dobbin would often accompany the carriage in which Jos and his sister took daily excursions of pleasure. They went out that day in the park for their accustomed diversion, and there, sure enough, George's remark with regard to the arrival of Rawdon Crawley and his wife proved to be correct. In the midst of a little troop of horsemen, consisting of some of the very greatest persons in Brussels, Rebecca was seen in the prettiest and tightest of riding-habits, mounted on a beautiful little Arab, which she rode to perfection (having acquired the art at Queen's Crawley, where the Baronet, Mr.
Pitt, and Rawdon himself had given her many lessons), and by the side of the gallant General Tufto.
"Sure it's the Juke himself," cried Mrs. Major O'Dowd to Jos, who began to blush violently; "and that's Lord
Uxbridge on the bay. How elegant he looks! Me brother,
Molloy Malony, is as like him as two pays."
Rebecca did not make for the carriage; but as soon as she perceived her old acquaintance Amelia seated in it, acknowledged her presence by a gracious nod and smile, and by kissing and shaking her fingers playfully in the direction of the vehicle. Then she resumed her conversation with General Tufto, who asked "who the fat officer was in the gold-laced cap?" on which Becky replied, "that he was an officer in the East Indian service."
But Rawdon Crawley rode out of the ranks of his company, and came up and shook hands heartily with
Amelia, and said to Jos, "Well, old boy, how are you?"
and stared in Mrs. O'Dowd's face and at.the black cock's feathers until she began to think she had made a conquest of him.
George, who had been delayed behind, rode up almost immediately with Dobbin, and they touched their caps to the august personages, among whom Osborne at once perceived Mrs. Crawley. He was delighted to see Rawdon leaning over his carriage familiarly and talking to Amelia, and met the aide-de-camp's cordial greeting with more than corresponding warmth. The nods between Rawdon and Dobbin were of the very faintest specimens of politeness.
Crawley told George where they were stopping with
General Tufto at the Hotel du Parc, and George made his friend promise to come speedily to Osborne's own residence. "Sorry I hadn't seen you three days ago,"
George said. "Had a dinner at the Restaurateur's-rather a nice thing. Lord Bareacres, and the Countess, and Lady
Blanche, were good enough to dine with us-wish we'd had you." Having thus let his friend know his claims to be a man of fashion, Osborne parted from Rawdon, who followed the august squadron down an alley into which they cantered, while George and Dobbin resumed their places, one on each side of Amelia's carriage.
"How well the Juke looked," Mrs. O'Dowd remarked.
"The Wellesleys and Malonys are related; but, of course, poor I would never dream of introjuicing myself unless his Grace thought proper to remember our family-tie."
"He's a great soldier," Jos said, much more at ease now the great man was gone. "Was there ever a battle won like Salamanca? Hey, Dobbin? But where was it he learnt his art? In India, my boy! The jungle's the school for a general, mark me that. I knew him myself, too,
Mrs. O'Dowd: we both of us danced the same evening with Miss Cutler, daughter of Cutler of the Artillery, and a devilish fine girl, at Dumdum."
The apparition of the great personages held them all in talk during the drive; and at dinner; and until the hour came when they were all to go to the Opera.
It was almost like Old England. The house was filled with familiar British faces, and those toilettes for which the British female has long been celebrated. Mrs.
O'Dowd's was not the least splendid amongst these, and she had a curl on her forehead, and a set of Irish diamonds and Cairngorms, which outshone all the decorations in the house, in her notion. Her presence used to excruciate Osborne; but go she would upon all parties of pleasure on which she heard her young friends were bent.
It never entered into her thought but that they must be charmed with her company.
"She's been useful to you, my dear," George said to his wife, whom he could leave alone with less scruple when she had this society. "But what a comfort it is that
Rebecca's come: you will have her for a friend, and we may get rid now of this damn'd Irishwoman." To this
Amelia did not answer, yes or no: and how do we know what her thoughts were?
The coup d'oeil of the Brussels opera-house did not strike Mrs. O'Dowd as being so fine as the theatre in
Fishamble Street, Dublin, nor was French music at all equal, in her opinion, to the melodies of her native country.
She favoured her friends with these and other opinions in a very loud tone of voice, and tossed about a great clattering fan she sported, with the most splendid complacency.
"Who is that wonderful woman with Amelia, Rawdon, love?" said a lady in an opposite box (who, almost always civil to her husband in private, was more fond than ever of him in company).
"Don't you see that creature with a yellow thing in her turban, and a red satin gown, and a great watch?"
"Near the pretty little woman in white?" asked a middle-aged gentleman seated by the querist's side, with orders in his button, and several under-waistcoats, and a great, choky, white stock.
"That pretty woman in white is Amelia, General: you are remarking all the pretty women, you naughty man."
"Only one, begad, in the world!" said the General, delighted, and the lady gave him a tap with a large bouquet which she had.
"Bedad it's him," said Mrs. O'Dowd; "and that's the very bokay he bought in the Marshy aux Flures!" and when Rebecca, having caught her friend's eye, performed the little hand-kissing operation once more, Mrs. Major
O'D., taking the compliment to herself, returned the salute with a gracious smile, which sent that unfortunate
Dobbin shrieking out of the box again.
At the end of the act, George was out of the box in a moment, and he was even going to pay his respects to
Rebecca in her loge. He met Crawley in the lobby, however, where they exchanged a few sentences upon the occurrences of the last fortnight.
"You found my cheque all right at the agent's?
George said, with a knowing air.
"All right, my boy," Rawdon answered. "Happy to give you your revenge. Governor come round?"
"Not yet," said George, "but he will; and you know I've some private fortune through my mother. Has Aunty relented?"
"Sent me twenty pound, damned old screw. When shall we have a meet? The General dines out on Tuesday.
Can't you come Tuesday? I say, make Sedley cut off his moustache. What the devil does a civilian mean with a moustache and those infernal frogs to his coat! By-bye.
Try and come on Tuesday"; and Rawdon was going-off with two brilliant young gentlemen of fashion, who were, like himself, on the staff of a general officer.
George was only half pleased to be asked to dinner on that particular day when the General was not to dine. "I
will go in and pay my respects to your wife," said he; at which Rawdon said, "Hm, as you please," looking very glum, and at which the two young officers exchanged knowing glances. George parted from them and strutted down the lobby to the General's box, the number of which he had carefully counted.
"Entrez," said a clear little voice, and our friend found himself in Rebecca's presence; who jumped up, clapped her hands together, and held out both of them to George, so charmed was she to see him. The General, with the orders in his button, stared at the newcomer with a sulky scowl, as much as to say, who the devil are you?
"My dear Captain George!" cried little Rebecca in an ecstasy. "How good of you to come. The General and I
were moping together tete-a-tete. General, this is my
Captain George of whom you heard me talk."
"Indeed," said the General, with a very small bow; "of what regiment is Captain George?"
George mentioned the -th: how he wished he could have said it was a crack cavalry corps.
"Come home lately from the West Indies, I believe.
Not seen much service in the late war. Quartered here,
Captain George?"-the General went on with killing haughtiness.
"Not Captain George, you stupid man; Captain Osborne,"
Rebecca said. The General all the while was looking savagely from one to the other.
"Captain Osborne, indeed! Any relation to the L-
"We bear the same arms," George said, as indeed was the fact; Mr. Osborne having consulted with a herald in
Long Acre, and picked the L- arms out of the peerage, when he set up his carriage fifteen years before. The
General made no reply to this announcement; but took up his opera-glass-the double-barrelled lorgnon was not invented in those days-and pretended to examine the house; but Rebecca saw that his disengaged eye was working round in her direction, and shooting out bloodshot glances at her and George.
She redoubled in cordiality. "How is dearest Amelia?
But I needn't ask: how pretty she looks! And who is that nice good-natured looking creature with her-a flame of yours? O, you wicked men! And there is Mr. Sedley eating ice, I declare: how he seems to enjoy it! General, why have we not had any ices?"
"Shall I go and fetch you some?" said the General, bursting with wrath.
"Let ME go, I entreat you," George said.
"No, I will go to Amelia's box. Dear, sweet girl! Give me your arm, Captain George"; and so saying, and with a nod to the General, she tripped into the lobby. She gave
George the queerest, knowingest look, when they were together, a look which might have been interpreted,
"Don't you see the state of affairs, and what a fool I'm making of him?" But he did not perceive it. He was thinking of his own plans, and lost in pompous admiration of his own irresistible powers of pleasing.
The curses to which the General gave a low utterance, as soon as Rebecca and her conqueror had quitted him, were so deep, that I am sure no compositor would venture to print them were they written down. They came from the General's heart; and a wonderful thing it is to think that the human heart is capable of generating such produce, and can throw out, as occasion demands, such a supply of lust and fury, rage and hatred.
Amelia's gentle eyes, too, had been fixed anxiously on the pair, whose conduct had so chafed the jealous General;
but when Rebecca entered her box, she flew to her friend with an affectionate rapture which showed itself, in spite of the publicity of the place; for she embraced her dearest friend in the presence of the whole house, at least in full view of the General's glass, now brought to bear upon the Osborne party. Mrs. Rawdon saluted Jos, too, with the kindliest greeting: she admired Mrs. O'Dowd's large Cairngorm brooch and superb Irish diamonds, and wouldn't believe that they were not from Golconda direct.
She bustled, she chattered, she turned and twisted, and smiled upon one, and smirked on another, all in full view of the jealous opera-glass opposite. And when the time for the ballet came (in which there was no dancer that went through her grimaces or performed her comedy of action better), she skipped back to her own box, leaning on Captain Dobbin's arm this time. No, she would not have George's: he must stay and talk to his dearest, best, little Amelia.
"What a humbug that woman is!" honest old Dobbin mumbled to George, when he came back from Rebecca's box, whither he had conducted her in perfect silence, and with a countenance as glum as an undertaker's. "She writhes and twists about like a snake. All the time she was here, didn't you see, George, how she was acting at the General over the way?"
"Humbug-acting! Hang it, she's the nicest little woman in England," George replied, showing his white teeth, and giving his ambrosial whiskers a twirl. "You ain't a man of the world, Dobbin. Dammy, look at her now, she's talked over Tufto in no time. Look how he's laughing! Gad, what a shoulder she has! Emmy, why didn't you have a bouquet? Everybody has a bouquet."
"Faith, then, why didn't you BOY one?" Mrs. O'Dowd said; and both Amelia and William Dobbin thanked her for this timely observation. But beyond this neither of the ladies rallied. Amelia was overpowered by the flash and the dazzle and the fashionable talk of her worldly rival.
Even the O'Dowd was silent and subdued after Becky's brilliant apparition, and scarcely said a word more about
Glenmalony all the evening.
"When do you intend to give up play, George, as you have promised me, any time these hundred years?" Dobbin said to his friend a few days after the night at the
Opera. "When do you intend to give up sermonising?"
was the other's reply. "What the deuce, man, are you alarmed about? We play low; I won last night. You don't suppose Crawley cheats? With fair play it comes to pretty much the same thing at the year's end."
"But I don't think he could pay if he lost," Dobbin said; and his advice met with the success which advice usually commands. Osborne and Crawley were repeatedly together now. General Tufto dined abroad almost constantly.
George was always welcome in the apartments
(very close indeed to those of the General) which the aide-de-camp and his wife occupied in the hotel.
Amelia's manners were such when she and George visited
Crawley and his wife at these quarters, that they had very nearly come to their first quarrel; that is, George scolded his wife violently for her evident unwillingness to go, and the high and mighty manner in which she comported herself towards Mrs. Crawley, her old friend; and
Amelia did not say one single word in reply; but with her husband's eye upon her, and Rebecca scanning her as she felt, was, if possible, more bashful and awkward on the second visit which she paid to Mrs. Rawdon, than on her first call.
Rebecca was doubly affectionate, of course, and would not take notice, in the least, of her friend's coolness. "I
think Emmy has become prouder since her father's name was in the-since Mr. Sedley's MISFORTUNES," Rebecca said, softening the phrase charitably for George's ear.
"Upon my word, I thought when we were at Brighton she was doing me the honour to be jealous of me; and now I suppose she is scandalised because Rawdon, and I, and the General live together. Why, my dear creature, how could we, with our means, live at all, but for a friend to share expenses? And do you suppose that Rawdon is not big enough to take care of my honour? But I'm very much obliged to Emmy, very," Mrs. Rawdon said.
"Pooh, jealousy!" answered George, "all women are jealous."
"And all men too. Weren't you jealous of General
Tufto, and the General of you, on the night of the Opera?
Why, he was ready to eat me for going with you to visit that foolish little wife of yours; as if I care a pin for either of you," Crawley's wife said, with a pert toss of her head. "Will you dine here? The dragon dines with the
Commander-in-Chief. Great news is stirring. They say the French have crossed the frontier. We shall have a quiet dinner."
George accepted the invitation, although his wife was a little ailing. They were now not quite six weeks married.
Another woman was laughing or sneering at her expense, and he not angry. He was not even angry with himself, this good-natured fellow. It is a shame, he owned to himself;
but hang it, if a pretty woman WILL throw herself in your way, why, what can a fellow do, you know? I AM
rather free about women, he had often said, smiling and nodding knowingly to Stubble and Spooney, and other comrades of the mess-table; and they rather respected him than otherwise for this prowess. Next to conquering in war, conquering in love has been a source of pride, time out of mind, amongst men in Vanity Fair, or how should schoolboys brag of their amours, or Don Juan be popular?
So Mr. Osborne, having a firm conviction in his own mind that he was a woman-killer and destined to conquer, did not run counter to his fate, but yielded himself up to it quite complacently. And as Emmy did not say much or plague him with her jealousy, but merely became unhappy and pined over it miserably in secret, he chose to fancy that she was not suspicious of what all his acquaintance were perfectly aware-namely, that he was carrying on a desperate flirtation with Mrs. Crawley. He rode with her whenever she was free. He pretended regimental business to Amelia (by which falsehood she was not in the least deceived), and consigning his wife to solitude or her brother's society, passed his evenings in the Crawleys' company; losing money to the husband and flattering himself that the wife was dying of love for him.
It is very likely that this worthy couple never absolutely conspired and agreed together in so many words: the one to cajole the young gentleman, whilst the other won his money at cards: but they understood each other perfectly well, and Rawdon let Osborne come and go with entire good humour.
George was so occupied with his new acquaintances that he and William Dobbin were by no means so much together as formerly. George avoided him in public and in the regiment, and, as we see, did not like those sermons which his senior was disposed to inflict upon him.
If some parts of his conduct made Captain Dobbin exceedingly grave and cool; of what use was it to tell George that, though his whiskers were large, and his own opinion of his knowingness great, he was as green as a schoolboy? that Rawdon was making a victim of him as he had done of many before, and as soon as he had used him would fling him off with scorn? He would not listen: and so, as Dobbin, upon those days when he visited the
0sborne house, seldom had the advantage of meeting his old friend, much painful and unavailing talk between them was spared. Our friend George was in the full career of the pleasures of Vanity Fair.
There never was, since the days of Darius, such a brilliant train of camp-followers as hung round the Duke of
Wellington's army in the Low Countries, in 1815; and led it dancing and feasting, as it were, up to the very brink of battle. A certain ball which a noble Duchess gave at Brussels on the 15th of June in the above-named year is historical. All Brussels had been in a state of excitement about it, and I have heard from ladies who were in that town at the period, that the talk and interest of persons of their own sex regarding the ball was much greater even than in respect of the enemy in their front.
The struggles, intrigues, and prayers to get tickets were such as only English ladies will employ, in order to gain admission to the society of the great of their own nation.
Jos and Mrs. O'Dowd, who were panting to be asked, strove in vain to procure tickets; but others of our friends were more lucky. For instance, through the interest of my Lord Bareacres, and as a set-off for the dinner at the restaurateur's, George got a card for Captain and Mrs.
Osborne; which circumstance greatly elated him. Dobbin, who was a friend of the General commanding the division in which their regiment was, came laughing one day to Mrs. Osborne, and displayed a similar invitation, which made Jos envious, and George wonder how the deuce he should be getting into society. Mr. and Mrs.
Rawdon, finally, were of course invited; as became the friends of a General commanding a cavalry brigade.
On the appointed night, George, having commanded new dresses and ornaments of all sorts for Amelia, drove to the famous ball, where his wife did not know a single soul. After looking about for Lady Bareacres, who cut him, thinking the card was quite enough-and after placing Amelia on a bench, he left her to her own cogitations there, thinking, on his own part, that he had behaved very handsomely in getting her new clothes, and bringing her to the ball, where she was free to amuse herself as she liked. Her thoughts were not of the pleasantest, and nobody except honest Dobbin came to disturb them.
Whilst her appearance was an utter failure (as her husband felt with a sort of rage), Mrs. Rawdon Crawley's debut was, on the contrary, very brilliant. She arrived very late. Her face was radiant; her dress perfection. In the midst of the great persons assembled, and the eye-
glasses directed to her, Rebecca seemed to be as cool and collected as when she used to marshal Miss Pinkerton's little girls to church. Numbers of the men she knew already, and the dandies thronged round her. As for the ladies, it was whispered among them that Rawdon had run away with her from out of a convent, and that she was a relation of the Montmorency family. She spoke
French so perfectly that there might be some truth in this report, and it was agreed that her manners were fine, and her air distingue. Fifty would-be partners thronged round her at once, and pressed to have the honour to dance with her. But she said she was engaged, and only going to dance very little; and made her way at once to the place where Emmy sate quite unnoticed, and dismally unhappy. And so, to finish the poor child at once, Mrs. Rawdon ran and greeted affectionately her dearest Amelia, and began forthwith to patronise her.
She found fault with her friend's dress, and her hairdresser, and wondered how she could be so chaussee, and vowed that she must send her corsetiere the next morning. She vowed that it was a delightful ball; that there was everybody that every one knew, and only a
VERY few nobodies in the whole room. It is a fact, that in a fortnight, and after three dinners in general society, this young woman had got up the genteel jargon so well, that a native could not speak it better; and it was only from her French being so good, that you could know she was not a born woman of fashion.
George, who had left Emmy on her bench on entering the ball-room, very soon found his way back when
Rebecca was by her dear friend's side. Becky was just lecturing Mrs. Osborne upon the follies which her husband was committing. "For God's sake, stop him from gambling, my dear," she said, "or he will ruin himself.
He and Rawdon are playing at cards every night, and you know he is very poor, and Rawdon will win every shilling from him if he does not take care. Why don't you prevent him, you little careless creature? Why don't you come to us of an evening, instead of moping at home with that Captain Dobbin? I dare say he is tres aimable;
but how could one love a man with feet of such size?
Your husband's feet are darlings-Here he comes. Where have you been, wretch? Here is Emmy crying her eyes out for you. Are you coming to fetch me for the quadrille?"
And she left her bouquet and shawl by Amelia's side, and tripped off with George to dance. Women only know how to wound so. There is a poison on the tips of their little shafts, which stings a thousand times more than a man's blunter weapon. Our poor Emmy, who had never hated, never sneered all her life, was powerless in the hands of her remorseless little enemy.
George danced with Rebecca twice or thrice-how many times Amelia scarcely knew. She sat quite unnoticed in her corner, except when Rawdon came up with some words of clumsy conversation: and later in the evening, when Captain Dobbin made so bold as to bring her refreshments and sit beside her. He did not like to ask her why she was so sad; but as a pretext for the tears which were filling in her eyes, she told him that Mrs. Crawley had alarmed her by telling her that George would go on playing.
"It is curious, when a man is bent upon play, by what clumsy rogues he will allow himself to be cheated,"
Dobbin said; and Emmy said, "Indeed." She was thinking of something else. It was not the loss of the money that grieved her.
At last George came back for Rebecca's shawl and flowers. She was going away. She did not even condescend to come back and say good-bye to Amelia. The poor girl let her husband come and go without saying a word, and her head fell on her breast. Dobbin had been called away, and was whispering deep in conversation with the General of the division, his friend, and had not seen this last parting. George went away then with the bouquet; but when he gave it to the owner, there lay a note, coiled like a snake among the flowers. Rebecca's eye caught it at once. She had been used to deal with notes in early life. She put out her hand and took the nosegay. He saw by her eyes as they met, that she was aware what she should find there. Her husband hurried her away, still too intent upon his own thoughts, seemingly, to take note of any marks of recognition which might pass between his friend and his wife. These were, however, but trifling. Rebecca gave George her hand with one of her usual quick knowing glances, and made a curtsey and walked away. George bowed over the hand, said nothing in reply to a remark of Crawley's, did not hear it even, his brain was so throbbing with triumph and excitement, and allowed them to go away without a word.
His wife saw the one part at least of the bouquet-scene.
It was quite natural that George should come at Rebecca's request to get her her scarf and flowers: it was no more than he had done twenty times before in the course of the last few days; but now it was too much for her.
"William," she said, suddenly clinging to Dobbin, who was near her, "you've always been very kind to me-I'm-
I'm not well. Take me home." She did not know she called him by his Christian name, as George was accustomed to do. He went away with her quickly. Her lodgings were hard by; and they threaded through the crowd without, where everything seemed to be more astir than even in the ball-room within.
George had been angry twice or thrice at finding his wife up on his return from the parties which he frequented: so she went straight to bed now; but although she did not sleep, and although the din and clatter, and the galloping of horsemen were incessant, she never heard any of these noises, having quite other disturbances to keep her awake.
Osborne meanwhile, wild with elation, went off to a play-table, and began to bet frantically. He won repeatedly. "Everything succeeds with me to-night," he said.
But his luck at play even did not cure him of his restlessness, and he started up after awhile, pocketing his winnings, and went to a buffet, where he drank off many bumpers of wine.
Here, as he was rattling away to the people around, laughing loudly and wild with spirits, Dobbin found him.
He had been to the card-tables to look there for his friend. Dobbin looked as pale and grave as his comrade was flushed and jovial.
''Hullo, Dob! Come and drink, old Dob! The Duke's wine is famous. Give me some more, you sir"; and he held out a trembling glass for the liquor.
"Come out, George," said Dobbin, still gravely; "don't drink."
"Drink! there's nothing like it. Drink yourself, and light up your lantern jaws, old boy. Here's to you."
Dobbin went up and whispered something to him, at which George, giving a start and a wild hurray, tossed off his glass, clapped it on the table, and walked away speedily on his friend's arm. "The enemy has passed the
Sambre," William said, "and our left is already engaged.
Come away. We are to march in three hours."
Away went George, his nerves quivering with excitement at the news so long looked for, so sudden when it came. What were love and intrigue now? He thought about a thousand things but these in his rapid walk to his quarters-his past life and future chances-the fate which might be before him-the wife, the child perhaps, from whom unseen he might be about to part. Oh, how he wished that night's work undone! and that with a clear conscience at least he might say farewell to the tender and guileless being by whose love he had set such little store!
He thought over his brief married life. In those few weeks he had frightfully dissipated his little capital. How wild and reckless he had been! Should any mischance befall him: what was then left for her? How unworthy he was of her. Why had he married her? He was not fit for marriage. Why had he disobeyed his father, who had been always so generous to him? Hope, remorse, ambition, tenderness, and selfish regret filled his heart. He sate down and wrote to his father, remembering what he had said once before, when he was engaged to fight a duel.
Dawn faintly streaked the sky as he closed this farewell letter. He sealed it, and kissed the superscription. He thought how he had deserted that generous father, and of the thousand kindnesses which the stern old man had done him.
He had looked into Amelia's bedroom when he entered;
she lay quiet, and her eyes seemed closed, and he was glad that she was asleep. On arriving at his quarters from the ball, he had found his regimental servant already making preparations for his departure: the man had understood his signal to be still, and these arrangements were very quickly and silently made. Should he go in and wake Amelia, he thought, or leave a note for her brother to break the news of departure to her? He went in to look at her once again.
She had been awake when he first entered her room, but had kept her eyes closed, so that even her wakefulness should not seem to reproach him. But when he had returned, so soon after herself, too, this timid little heart had felt more at ease, and turning towards him as he stept softly out of the room, she had fallen into a light sleep. George came in and looked at her again, entering still more softly. By the pale night-lamp he could see her sweet, pale face-the purple eyelids were fringed and closed, and one round arm, smooth and white, lay outside of the coverlet. Good God! how pure she was; how gentle, how tender, and how friendless! and he, how selfish, brutal, and black with crime! Heart-stained, and shame-stricken, he stood at the bed's foot, and looked at the sleeping girl. How dared he-who was he, to pray for one so spotless! God bless her! God bless her! He came to the bedside, and looked at the hand, the little soft hand, lying asleep; and he bent over the pillow noiselessly towards the gentle pale face.
Two fair arms closed tenderly round his neck as he stooped down. "I am awake, George," the poor child said, with a sob fit to break the little heart that nestled so closely by his own. She was awake, poor soul, and to railings and the beadle: who, if she walked ever so short a distance to buy a ribbon in Southampton Row, was followed by Black Sambo with an enormous cane: who was always cared for, dressed, put to bed, and watched over by ever so many guardian angels, with and without wages? Bon Dieu, I say, is it not hard that the fateful rush of the great Imperial struggle can't take place without affecting a poor little harmless girl of eighteen, who is occupied in billing and cooing, or working muslin collars in Russell Square? You too, kindly, homely flower!
-is the great roaring war tempest coming to sweep you down, here, although cowering under the shelter of
Holborn? Yes; Napoleon is flinging his last stake, and poor little Emmy Sedley's happiness forms, somehow, part of it.
In the first place, her father's fortune was swept down with that fatal news. All his speculations had of late gone wrong with the luckless old gentleman. Ventures had failed; merchants had broken; funds had risen when he calculated they would fall. What need to particularize?
If success is rare and slow, everybody knows how quick and easy ruin is. Old Sedley had kept his own sad counsel.
Everything seemed to go on as usual in the quiet, opulent house; the good-natured mistress pursuing, quite unsuspiciously, her bustling idleness, and daily easy avocations; the daughter absorbed still in one selfish, tender thought, and quite regardless of all the world besides, when that final crash came, under which the worthy family fell.
One night Mrs. Sedley was writing cards for a party;
the Osbornes had given one, and she must not be behindhand; John Sedley, who had come home very late from the City, sate silent at the chimney side, while his wife was prattling to him; Emmy had gone up to her room ailing and low-spirited. "She's not happy," the mother went on. "George Osborne neglects her. I've no patience with the airs of those people. The girls have not been in the house these three weeks; and George has been twice in town without coming. Edward Dale saw him at the
Opera. Edward would marry her I'm sure: and there's
Captain Dobbin who, I think, would-only I hate all army men. Such a dandy as George has become. With his military airs, indeed! We must show some folks that we're as good as they. Only give Edward Dale any encouragement, and you'll see. We must have a party, Mr.
S. Why don't you speak, John? Shall I say Tuesday fortnight?
Why don't you answer? Good God, John, what has happened?"
John Sedley sprang up out of his chair to meet his wife, who ran to him. He seized her in his arms, and said with a hasty voice, "We're ruined, Mary. We've got the world to begin over again, dear. It's best that you should know all, and at once." As he spoke, he trembled in every limb, and almost fell. He thought the news would have overpowered his wife-his wife, to whom he had never said a hard word. But it was he that was the most moved, sudden as the shock was to her. When he sank back into his seat, it was the wife that took the office of consoler. She took his trembling hand, and kissed it, and put it round her neck: she called him her John-her dear
John-her old man-her kind old man; she poured out a hundred words of incoherent love and tenderness; her faithful voice and simple caresses wrought this sad heart up to an inexpressible delight and anguish, and cheered and solaced his over-burdened soul.
Only once in the course of the long night as they sate together, and poor Sedley opened his pent-up soul, and told the story of his losses and embarrassments-the treason of some of his oldest friends, the manly kindness of some, from whom he never could have expected it-in a general confession-only once did the faithful wife give way to emotion.
"My God, my God, it will break Emmy's heart," she said.
The father had forgotten the poor girl. She was lying, awake and unhappy, overhead. In the midst of friends, home, and kind parents, she was alone. To how many people can any one tell all? Who will be open where there is no sympathy, or has call to speak to those who never can understand? Our gentle Amelia was thus solitary. She had no confidante, so to speak, ever since she had anything to confide. She could not tell the old mother her doubts and cares; the would-be sisters seemed every day more strange to her. And she had misgivings and fears which she dared not acknowledge to herself, though she was always secretly brooding over them.
Her heart tried to persist in asserting that George
Osborne was worthy and faithful to her, though she knew otherwise. How many a thing had she said, and got no echo from him. How many suspicions of selfishness and indifference had she to encounter and obstinately overcome. To whom could the poor little martyr tell these daily struggles and tortures? Her hero himself only half understood her. She did not dare to own that the man she loved was her inferior; or to feel that she had given her heart away too soon. Given once, the pure bashful maiden was too modest, too tender, too trustful, too weak, too much woman to recall it. We are Turks with the affections of our women; and have made them subscribe to our doctrine too. We let their bodies go abroad liberally enough, with smiles and ringlets and pink bonnets to disguise them instead of veils and yakmaks. But their souls must be seen by only one man, and they obey not unwillingly, and consent to remain at home as our slaves-ministering to us and doing drudgery for us.
So imprisoned and tortured was this gentle little heart, when in the month of March, Anno Domini 1815,
Napoleon landed at Cannes, and Louis XVIII fled, and all
Europe was in alarm, and the funds fell, and old John
Sedley was ruined.
We are not going to follow the worthy old stockbroker through those last pangs and agonies of ruin through which he passed before his commercial demise befell.
They declared him at the Stock Exchange; he was absent from his house of business: his bills were protested: his act of bankruptcy formal. The house and furniture of
Russell Square were seized and sold up, and he and his family were thrust away, as we have seen, to hide their heads where they might.
John Sedley had not the heart to review the domestic establishment who have appeared now and anon in our pages and of whom he was now forced by poverty to take leave. The wages of those worthy people were discharged with that punctuality which men frequently show who only owe in great sums-they were sorry to leave good places-but they did not break their hearts at parting from their adored master and mistress. Amelia's maid was profuse in condolences, but went off quite resigned to better herself in a genteeler quarter of the town. Black
Sambo, with the infatuation of his profession, determined on setting up a public-house. Honest old Mrs. Blenkinsop indeed, who had seen the birth of Jos and Amelia, and the wooing of John Sedley and his wife, was for staying by them without wages, having amassed a considerable sum in their service: and she accompanied the fallen people into their new and humble place of refuge, where she tended them and grumbled against them for a while.
Of all Sedley's opponents in his debates with his creditors which now ensued, and harassed the feelings of the humiliated old gentleman so severely, that in six weeks he oldened more than he had done for fifteen years before-
the most determined and obstinate seemed to be John
Osborne, his old friend and neighbour-John Osborne, whom he had set up in life-who was under a hundred obligations to him-and whose son was to marry Sedley's daughter. Any one of these circumstances would account for the bitterness of Osborne's opposition.
When one man has been under very remarkable obligations to another, with whom he subsequently quarrels, a common sense of decency, as it were, makes of the former a much severer enemy than a mere stranger would be. To account for your own hard-heartedness and ingratitude in such a case, you are bound to prove the other party's crime. It is not that you are selfish, brutal, and angry at the failure of a speculation-no, no-it is that your partner has led you into it by the basest treachery and with the most sinister motives. From a mere sense of consistency, a persecutor is bound to show that the fallen man is a villain-otherwise he, the persecutor, is a wretch himself.
And as a general rule, which may make all creditors who are inclined to be severe pretty comfortable in their minds, no men embarrassed are altogether honest, very likely. They conceal something; they exaggerate chances of good luck; hide away the real state of affairs; say that things are flourishing when they are hopeless, keep a smiling face (a dreary smile it is) upon the verge of bankruptcy-are ready to lay hold of any pretext for delay or of any money, so as to stave off the inevitable ruin a few days longer. "Down with such dishonesty,"
says the creditor in triumph, and reviles his sinking enemy. "You fool, why do you catch at a straw?" calm good sense says to the man that is drowning. "You villain, why do you shrink from plunging into the irretrievable
Gazette?" says prosperity to the poor devil battling in that black gulf. Who has not remarked the readiness with which the closest of friends and honestest of men suspect and accuse each other of cheating when they fall out on money matters? Everybody does it. Everybody is right,
I suppose, and the world is a rogue.
Then Osborne had the intolerable sense of former benefits to goad and irritate him: these are always a cause of hostility aggravated. Finally, he had to break off the match between Sedley's daughter and his son; and as it had gone very far indeed, and as the poor girl's happiness and perhaps character were compromised, it was necessary to show the strongest reasons for the rupture, and for John Osborne to prove John Sedley to be a very bad character indeed.
At the meetings of creditors, then, he comported himself with a savageness and scorn towards Sedley, which almost succeeded in breaking the heart of that ruined bankrupt man. On George's intercourse with Amelia he put an instant veto-menacing the youth with maledictions if he broke his commands, and vilipending the poor innocent girl as the basest and most artful of vixens.
One of the great conditions of anger and hatred is, that you must tell and believe lies against the hated object, in order, as we said, to be consistent.
When the great crash came-the announcement of ruin, and the departure from Russell Square, and the declaration that all was over between her and George-all over between her and love, her and happiness, her and faith in the world-a brutal letter from John Osborne told her in a few curt lines that her father's conduct had been of such a nature that all engagements between the families were at an end-when the final award came, it did not shock her so much as her parents, as her mother rather expected (for John Sedley himself was entirely prostrate in the ruins of his own affairs and shattered honour). Amelia took the news very palely and calmly.
It was only the confirmation of the dark presages which had long gone before. It was the mere reading of the sentence-of the crime she had long ago been guilty-the crime of loving wrongly, too violently, against reason.
She told no more of her thoughts now than she had before. She seemed scarcely more unhappy now when convinced all hope was over, than before when she felt but dared not confess that it was gone. So she changed from the large house to the small one without any mark or difference; remained in her little room for the most part;
pined silently; and died away day by day. I do not mean to say that all females are so. My dear Miss Bullock, I
do not think your heart would break in this way. You are a strong-minded young woman with proper principles.
I do not venture to say that mine would; it has suffered, and, it must be confessed, survived. But there are some souls thus gently constituted, thus frail, and delicate, and tender.
Whenever old John Sedley thought of the affair between George and Amelia, or alluded to it, it was with bitterness almost as great as Mr. Osborne himself had shown. He cursed Osborne and his family as heartless, wicked, and ungrateful. No power on earth, he swore, would induce him to marry his daughter to the son of such a villain, and he ordered Emmy to banish George from her mind, and to return all the presents and letters which she had ever had from him.
She promised acquiescence, and tried to obey. She put up the two or three trinkets: and, as for the letters, she drew them out of the place.where she kept them; and read them over-as if she did not know them by heart already: but she could not part with them. That effort was too much for her; she placed them back in her bosom again-as you have seen a woman nurse a child that is dead. Young Amelia felt that she would die or lose her senses outright, if torn away from this last consolation.
How she used to blush and lighten up when those letters came! How she used to trip away with a beating heart, so that she might read unseen! If they were cold, yet how perversely this fond little soul interpreted them into warmth. If they were short or selfish, what excuses she found for the writer!
It was over these few worthless papers that she brooded and brooded. She lived in her past life-every letter seemed to recall some circumstance of it. How well she remembered them all! His looks and tones, his dress, what he said and how-these relics and remembrances of dead affection were all that were left her in the world.
And the business of her life, was-to watch the corpse of Love.
To death she looked with inexpressible longing. Then, she thought, I shall always be able to follow him. I am not praising her conduct or setting her up as a model for
Miss Bullock to imitate. Miss B. knows how to regulate her feelings better than this poor little creature. Miss B.
would never have committed herself as that imprudent
Amelia had done; pledged her love irretrievably;
confessed her heart away, and got back nothing-only a brittle promise which was snapt and worthless in a moment. A long engagement is a partnership which one party is free to keep or to break, but which involves all the capital of the other.
Be cautious then, young ladies; be wary how you engage. Be shy of loving frankly; never tell all you feel, or
(a better way still), feel very little. See the consequences of being prematurely honest and confiding, and mistrust yourselves and everybody. Get yourselves married as they do in France, where the lawyers are the bridesmaids and confidantes. At any rate, never have any feelings which may make you uncomfortable, or make any promises which you cannot at any required moment command and withdraw. That is the way to get on, and be respected, and have a virtuous character in Vanity Fair.
If Amelia could have heard the comments regarding her which were made in the circle from which her father's ruin had just driven her, she would have seen what her own crimes were, and how entirely her character was jeopardised. Such criminal imprudence Mrs. Smith never knew of; such horrid familiarities Mrs. Brown had always condemned, and the end might be a warning to HER
daughters. "Captain Osborne, of course, could not marry a bankrupt's daughter," the Misses Dobbin said. "It was quite enough to have been swindled by the father. As for that little Amelia, her folly had really passed all-"
"All what?" Captain Dobbin roared out. "Haven't they been engaged ever since they were children? Wasn't it as good as a marriage? Dare any soul on earth breathe a word against the sweetest, the purest, the tenderest, the most angelical of young women?"
"La, William, don't be so highty-tighty with US. We're not men. We can't fight you," Miss Jane said. "We've said nothing against Miss Sedley: but that her conduct throughout was MOST IMPRUDENT, not to call it by any worse name; and that her parents are people who certainly merit their misfortunes."
"Hadn't you better, now that Miss Sedley is free, propose for her yourself, William?" Miss Ann asked sarcastically. "It would be a most eligible family connection. He! he!"
"I marry her!" Dobbin said, blushing very much, and talking quick. "If you are so ready, young ladies, to chop and change, do you suppose that she is? Laugh and sneer at that angel. She can't hear it; and she's miserable and unfortunate, and deserves to be laughed at. Go on joking, Ann. You're the wit of the family, and the others like to hear it."
"I must tell you again we're not in a barrack, William,"
Miss Ann remarked.
"In a barrack, by Jove-I wish anybody in a barrack would say what you do," cried out this uproused British lion. "I should like to hear a man breathe a word against her, by Jupiter. But men don't talk in this way, Ann: it's only women, who get together and hiss, and shriek, and cackle. There, get away-don't begin to cry. I only said you were a couple of geese," Will Dobbin said, perceiving
Miss Ann's pink eyes were beginning to moisten as usual. "Well, you're not geese, you're swans-anything you like, only do, do leave Miss Sedley alone."
Anything like William's infatuation about that silly little flirting, ogling thing was never known, the mamma and sisters agreed together in thinking: and they trembled lest, her engagement being off with Osborne, she should take up immediately her other admirer and Captain.
In which forebodings these worthy young women no doubt judged according to the best of their experience; or rather (for as yet they had had no opportunities of marrying or of jilting) according to their own notions of right and wrong.
"It is a mercy, Mamma, that the regiment is ordered abroad," the girls said. "THIS danger, at any rate, is spared our brother."
Such, indeed, was the fact; and so it is that the French
Emperor comes in to perform a part in this domestic comedy of Vanity Fair which we are now playing, and which would never have been enacted without the intervention of this august mute personage. It was he that ruined the Bourbons and Mr. John Sedley. It was he whose arrival in his capital called up all France in arms to defend him there; and all Europe to oust him.
While the French nation and army were swearing fidelity round the eagles in the Champ de Mars, four mighty
European hosts were getting in motion for the great chasse a l'aigle; and one of these was a British army, of which two heroes of ours, Captain Dobbin and Captain
Osborne, formed a portion.
The news of Napoleon's escape and landing was received by the gallant -th with a fiery delight and enthusiasm, which everybody can understand who knows that famous corps. From the colonel to the smallest drummer in the regiment, all were filled with hope and ambition and patriotic fury; and thanked the French Emperor as for a personal kindness in coming to disturb the peace of Europe. Now was the time the -th had so long panted for, to show their comrades in arms that they could fight as well as the Peninsular veterans, and that all the pluck and valour of the -th had not been killed by the West Indies and the yellow fever. Stubble and
Spooney looked to get their companies without purchase.
Before the end of the campaign (which she resolved to share), Mrs. Major O'Dowd hoped to write herself Mrs. Colonel O'Dowd, C.B. Our two friends
(Dobbin and Osborne) were quite as much excited as the rest: and each in his way-Mr. Dobbin very quietly, Mr.
Osborne very loudly and energetically-was bent upon doing his duty, and gaining his share of honour and distinction.
The agitation thrilling through the country and army in consequence of this news was so great, that private matters were little heeded: and hence probably George
Osborne, just gazetted to his company, busy with preparations for the march, which must come inevitably, and panting for further promotion-was not so much affected by other incidents which would have interested him at a more quiet period. He was not, it must be confessed, very much cast down by good old Mr. Sedley's catastrophe.
He tried his new uniform, which became him very handsomely, on the day when the first meeting of the creditors of the unfortunate gentleman took place.
His father told him of the wicked, rascally, shameful conduct of the bankrupt, reminded him of what he had said about Amelia, and that their connection was broken off for ever; and gave him that evening a good sum of money to pay for the new clothes and epaulets in which he looked so well. Money was always useful to this free-
handed young fellow, and he took it without many words.
The bills were up in the Sedley house, where he had passed so many, many happy hours. He could see them as he walked from home that night (to the Old
Slaughters', where he put up when in town) shining white in the moon. That comfortable home was shut, then, upon
Amelia and her parents: where had they taken refuge?
The thought of their ruin affected him not a little. He was very melancholy that night in the coffee-room at the Slaughters'; and drank a good deal, as his comrades remarked there.
Dobbin came in presently, cautioned him about the drink, which he only took, he said, because he was deuced low; but when his friend began to put to him clumsy inquiries, and asked him for news in a significant manner, Osborne declined entering into conversation with him, avowing, however, that he was devilish disturbed and unhappy.
Three days afterwards, Dobbin found Osborne in his room at the barracks-his head on the table, a number of papers about, the young Captain evidently in a state of great despondency. "She-she's sent me back some things I gave her-some damned trinkets. Look here!"
There was a little packet directed in the well-known hand to Captain George Osborne, and some things lying about
-a ring, a silver knife he had bought, as a boy, for her at a fair; a gold chain, and a locket with hair in it. "It's all over," said he, with a groan of sickening remorse.
"Look, Will, you may read it if you like."
There was a little letter of a few lines, to which he pointed, which said:
My papa has ordered me to return to you these presents, which you made in happier days to me; and I
am to write to you for the last time. I think, I know you feel as much as I do the blow which has come upon us.
It is I that absolve you from an engagement which is impossible in our present misery. I am sure you had no share in it, or in the cruel suspicions of Mr. Osborne, which are the hardest of all our griefs to bear. Farewell.
Farewell. I pray God to strengthen me to bear this and other calamities, and to bless you always. A.
I shall often play upon the piano-your piano. It was like you to send it.
Dobbin was very soft-hearted. The sight of women and children in pain always used to melt him. The idea of Amelia broken-hearted and lonely tore that good-
natured soul with anguish. And he broke out into an emotion, which anybody who likes may consider unmanly.
He swore that Amelia was an angel, to which Osborne said aye with all his heart. He, too, had been reviewing the history of their lives-and had seen her from her childhood to her present age, so sweet, so innocent, so charmingly simple, and artlessly fond and tender.
What a pang it was to lose all that: to have had it and not prized it! A thousand homely scenes and recollections crowded on him-in which he always saw her good and beautiful. And for himself, he blushed with remorse and shame, as the remembrance of his own selfishness and indifference contrasted with that perfect purity. For a while, glory, war, everything was forgotten, and the pair of friends talked about her only.
"Where are they?" Osborne asked, after a long talk, and a long pause-and, in truth, with no little shame at thinking that he had taken no steps to follow her. "Where are they? There's no address to the note."
Dobbin knew. He had not merely sent the piano; but had written a note to Mrs. Sedley, and asked permission to come and see her-and he had seen her, and Amelia too, yesterday, before he came down to Chatham; and, what is more, he had brought that farewell letter and packet which had so moved them.
The good-natured fellow had found Mrs. Sedley only too willing to receive him, and greatly agitated by the arrival of the piano, which, as she conjectured, MUST have come from George, and was a signal of amity on his part. Captain Dobbin did not correct this error of the worthy lady, but listened to all her story of complaints and misfortunes with great sympathy-condoled with her losses and privations, and agreed in reprehending the cruel conduct of Mr. Osborne towards his first benefactor.
When she had eased her overflowing bosom somewhat, and poured forth many of her sorrows, he had the courage to ask actually to see Amelia, who was above in her room as usual, and whom her mother led trembling downstairs.
Her appearance was so ghastly, and her look of despair so pathetic, that honest William Dobbin was frightened as he beheld it; and read the most fatal forebodings in that pale fixed face. After sitting in his company a minute or two, she put the packet into his hand, and said,
"Take this to Captain Osborne, if you please, and-and I
hope he's quite well-and it was very kind of you to come and see us-and we like our new house very much.
And I-I think I'll go upstairs, Mamma, for I'm not very strong." And with this, and a curtsey and a smile, the poor child went her way. The mother, as she led her up, cast back looks of anguish towards Dobbin. The good fellow wanted no such appeal. He loved her himself too fondly for that. Inexpressible grief, and pity, and terror pursued him, and he came away as if he was a criminal after seeing her.
When Osborne heard that his friend had found her, he made hot and anxious inquiries regarding the poor child. How was she? How did she look? What did she say? His comrade took his hand, and looked him in the face.
"George, she's dying," William Dobbin said-and could speak no more.
There was a buxom Irish servant-girl, who performed all the duties of the little house where the Sedley family had found refuge: and this girl had in vain, on many previous days, striven to give Amelia aid or consolation.
Emmy was much too sad to answer, or even to be aware of the attempts the other was making in her favour.
Four hours after the talk between Dobbin and Osborne, this servant-maid came into Amelia's room, where she sate as usual, brooding silently over her letters-her little treasures. The girl, smiling, and looking arch and happy, made many trials to attract poor Emmy's attention, who, however, took no heed of her.
"Miss Emmy," said the girl.
"I'm coming," Emmy said, not looking round.
"There's a message," the maid went on. "There's something-somebody-sure, here's a new letter for you-
don't be reading them old ones any more." And she gave her a letter, which Emmy took, and read.
"I must see you," the letter said. "Dearest Emmy-
dearest love-dearest wife, come to me."
George and her mother were outside, waiting until she had read the letter.
Miss Crawley at Nurse
We have seen how Mrs. Firkin, the lady's maid, as soon as any event of importance to the Crawley family came to her knowledge, felt bound to communicate it to Mrs.
Bute Crawley, at the Rectory; and have before mentioned how particularly kind and attentive that good-
natured lady was to Miss Crawley's confidential servant.
She had been a gracious friend to Miss Briggs, the companion, also; and had secured the latter's good-will by a number of those attentions and promises, which cost so little in the making, and are yet so valuable and agreeable to the recipient. Indeed every good economist and manager of a household must know how cheap and yet how amiable these professions are, and what a flavour they give to the most homely dish in life. Who was the blundering idiot who said that "fine words butter no parsnips"? Half the parsnips of society are served and rendered palatable with no other sauce. As the immortal
Alexis Soyer can make more delicious soup for a half-
penny than an ignorant cook can concoct with pounds of vegetables and meat, so a skilful artist will make a few simple and pleasing phrases go farther than ever so much substantial benefit-stock in the hands of a mere bungler.
Nay, we know that substantial benefits often sicken some stomachs; whereas, most will digest any amount of fine words, and be always eager for more of the same food.
Mrs. Bute had told Briggs and Firkin so often of the depth of her affection for them; and what she would do, if she had Miss Crawley's fortune, for friends so excellent and attached, that the ladies in question had the deepest regard for her; and felt as much gratitude and confidence as if Mrs. Bute had loaded them with the most expensive favours.
Rawdon Crawley, on the other hand, like a selfish heavy dragoon as he was, never took the least trouble to conciliate his aunt's aides-de-camp, showed his contempt for the pair with entire frankness-made Firkin pull off his boots on one occasion-sent her out in the rain on ignominious messages-and if he gave her a guinea, flung it to her as if it were a box on the ear. As his aunt, too, made a butt of Briggs, the Captain followed the example, and levelled his jokes at her-jokes about as delicate as a kick from his charger. Whereas, Mrs. Bute consulted her in matters of taste or difficulty, admired her poetry, and by a thousand acts of kindness and politeness, showed her appreciation of Briggs; and if she made Firkin a twopenny-halfpenny present, accompanied it with so many compliments, that the twopence-half-
penny was transmuted into gold in the heart of the grateful waiting-maid, who, besides, was looking forwards quite contentedly to some prodigious benefit which must happen to her on the day when Mrs. Bute came into her fortune.
The different conduct of these two people is pointed out respectfully to the attention of persons commencing the world. Praise everybody, I say to such: never be squeamish, but speak out your compliment both point-
blank in a man's face, and behind his back, when you know there is a reasonable chance of his hearing it again. Never lose a chance of saying a kind word. As
Collingwood never saw a vacant place in his estate but he took an acorn out of his pocket and popped it in;
so deal with your compliments through life. An acorn costs nothing; but it may sprout into a prodigious bit of timber.
In a word, during Rawdon Crawley's prosperity, he was only obeyed with sulky acquiescence; when his disgrace came, there was nobody to help or pity him. Whereas, when Mrs. Bute took the command at Miss Crawley's house, the garrison there were charmed to act under such a leader, expecting all sorts of promotion from her promises, her generosity, and her kind words.
That he would consider himself beaten, after one defeat, and make no attempt to regain the position he had lost, Mrs. Bute Crawley never allowed herself to suppose.
She knew Rebecca to be too clever and spirited and desperate a woman to submit without a struggle; and felt that she must prepare for that combat, and be incessantly watchful against assault; or mine, or surprise.
In the first place, though she held the town, was she sure of the principal inhabitant? Would Miss Crawley herself hold out; and had she not a secret longing to welcome back the ousted adversary? The old lady liked
Rawdon, and Rebecca, who amused her. Mrs. Bute could not disguise from herself the fact that none of her party could so contribute to the pleasures of the town-bred lady. "My girls' singing, after that little odious governess's,
I know is unbearable," the candid Rector's wife owned to herself. "She always used to go to sleep when
Martha and Louisa played their duets. Jim's stiff college manners and poor dear Bute's talk about his dogs and horses always annoyed her. If I took her to the
Rectory, she would grow angry with us all, and fly, I
know she would; and might fall into that horrid
Rawdon's clutches again, and be the victim of that little viper of a Sharp. Meanwhile, it is clear to me that she is exceedingly unwell, and cannot move for some weeks, at any rate; during which we must think of some plan to protect her from the arts of those unprincipled people."
In the very best-of moments, if anybody told Miss
Crawley that she was, or looked ill, the trembling old lady sent off for her doctor; and I daresay she was very unwell after the sudden family event, which might serve to shake stronger nerves than hers. At least, Mrs. Bute thought it was her duty to inform the physician, and the apothecary, and the dame-de-compagnie, and the domestics, that Miss Crawley was in a most critical state, and that they were to act accordingly. She had the street laid knee-deep with straw; and the knocker put by with Mr.
Bowls's plate. She insisted that the Doctor should call twice a day; and deluged her patient with draughts every two hours. When anybody entered the room, she uttered a shshshsh so sibilant and ominous, that it frightened the poor old lady in her bed, from which she could not look without seeing Mrs. Bute's beady eyes eagerly fixed on her, as the latter sate steadfast in the arm-chair by the bedside. They seemed to lighten in the dark (for she kept the curtains closed) as she moved about the room on velvet paws like a cat. There Miss Crawley lay for days-ever so many days-Mr. Bute reading books of devotion to her: for nights, long nights, during which she had to hear the watchman sing, the night-light sputter;
visited at midnight, the last thing, by the stealthy apothecary;
and then left to look at Mrs. Bute's twinkling eyes, or the flicks of yellow that the rushlight threw on the dreary darkened ceiling. Hygeia herself would have fallen sick under such a regimen; and how much more this poor old nervous victim? It has been said that when she was in health and good spirits, this venerable inhabitant of Vanity Fair had as free notions about religion and morals as Monsieur de Voltaire himself could desire, but when illness overtook her, it was aggravated by the most dreadful terrors of death, and an utter cowardice took possession of the prostrate old sinner.
Sick-bed homilies and pious reflections are, to be sure, out of place in mere story-books, and we are not going
(after the fashion of some novelists of the present day)
to cajole the.public into a sermon, when it is only a comedy that the reader pays his money to witness. But, without preaching, the truth may surely be borne in mind, that the bustle, and triumph, and laughter, and gaiety which Vanity Fair exhibits in public, do not always pursue the performer into private life, and that the most dreary depression of spirits and dismal repentances sometimes overcome him. Recollection of the best ordained banquets will scarcely cheer sick epicures. Reminiscences of the most becoming dresses and brilliant ball triumphs will go very little way to console faded beauties. Perhaps statesmen, at a particular period of existence, are not much gratified at thinking over the most triumphant divisions; and the success or the pleasure of yesterday becomes of very small account when a certain
(albeit uncertain) morrow is in view, about which all of us must some day or other be speculating. O brother wearers of motley! Are there not moments when one grows sick of grinning and tumbling, and the jingling of cap and bells? This, dear friends and companions, is my amiable object-to walk with you through the Fair, to examine the shops and the shows there; and that we should all come home after the flare, and the noise, and the gaiety, and be perfectly miserable in private.
"If that poor man of mine had a head on his shoulders,"
Mrs. Bute Crawley thought to herself, "how useful he might be, under present circumstances, to this unhappy old lady! He might make her repent of her shocking free-thinking ways; he might urge her to do her duty, and cast off that odious reprobate who has disgraced himself and his family; and he might induce her to do justice to my dear girls and the two boys, who require and deserve, I am sure, every assistance which their relatives can give them."
And, as the hatred of vice is always a progress towards virtue, Mrs. Bute Crawley endeavoured to instil her sister-in-law a proper abhorrence for all Rawdon
Crawley's manifold sins: of which his uncle's wife brought forward such a catalogue as indeed would have served to condemn a whole regiment of young officers. If a man has committed wrong in life, I don't know any moralist more anxious to point his errors out to the world than his own relations; so Mrs. Bute showed a perfect family interest and knowledge of Rawdon's history. She had all the particulars of that ugly quarrel with Captain Marker, in which Rawdon, wrong from the beginning, ended in shooting the Captain. She knew how the unhappy Lord
Dovedale, whose mamma had taken a house at Oxford, so that he might be educated there, and who had never touched a card in his life till he came to London, was perverted by Rawdon at the Cocoa-Tree, made helplessly tipsy by this abominable seducer and perverter of youth, and fleeced of four thousand pounds. She described with the most vivid minuteness the agonies of the country families whom he had ruined-the sons whom he had plunged into dishonour and poverty-the daughters whom he had inveigled into perdition. She knew the poor tradesmen who were bankrupt by his extravagance-the mean shifts and rogueries with which he had ministered to it-the astounding falsehoods by which he had imposed upon the most generous of aunts, and the ingratitude and ridicule by which he had repaid her sacrifices. She imparted these stories gradually to Miss Crawley; gave her the whole benefit of them; felt it to be her bounden duty as a Christian woman and mother of a family to do so;
had not the smallest remorse or compunction for the victim whom her tongue was immolating; nay, very likely thought her act was quite meritorious, and plumed herself upon her resolute manner of performing it. Yes, if a man's character is to be abused, say what you will, there's nobody like a relation to do the business. And one is bound to own, regarding this unfortunate wretch of a
Rawdon Crawley, that the mere truth was enough to condemn him, and that all inventions of scandal were quite superfluous pains on his friends' parts.
Rebecca, too, being now a relative, came in for the fullest share of Mrs. Bute's kind inquiries. This indefatigable pursuer of truth (having given strict orders that the door was to be denied to all emissaries or letters from Rawdon), took Miss Crawley's carriage, and drove to her old friend Miss Pinkerton, at Minerva House,
Chiswick Mall, to whom she announced the dreadful intelligence of Captain Rawdon's seduction by Miss Sharp, and from whom she got sundry strange particulars regarding the ex-governess's birth and early history. The friend of the Lexicographer had plenty of information to give. Miss Jemima was made to fetch the drawing-
master's receipts and letters. This one was from a spunging-house: that entreated an advance: another was full of gratitude for Rebecca's reception by the ladies of
Chiswick: and the last document from the unlucky artist's pen was that in which, from his dying bed, he recommended his orphan child to Miss Pinkerton's protection. There were juvenile letters and petitions from Rebecca, too, in the collection, imploring aid for her father or declaring her own gratitude. Perhaps in Vanity Fair there are no better satires than letters. Take a bundle of your dear friend's of ten years back-your dear friend whom you hate now. Look at a file of your sister's! how you clung to each other till you quarrelled about the twenty-pound legacy! Get down the round-hand scrawls of your son who has half broken your heart with selfish undutifulness since; or a parcel of your own, breathing endless ardour and love eternal, which were sent back by your mistress when she married the Nabob-your mistress for whom you now care no more than for Queen Elizabeth.
Vows, love, promises, confidences, gratitude, how queerly they read after a while! There ought to be a law in
Vanity Fair ordering the destruction of every written document (except receipted tradesmen's bills) after a certain brief and proper interval. Those quacks and misanthropes who advertise indelible Japan ink should be made to perish along with their wicked discoveries. The best ink for Vanity Fair use would be one that faded utterly in a couple of days, and left the paper clean and blank, so that you might write on it to somebody else.
From Miss Pinkerton's the indefatigable Mrs. Bute followed the track of Sharp and his daughter back to the lodgings in Greek Street, which the defunct painter had occupied; and where portraits of the landlady in white satin, and of the husband in brass buttons, done by Sharp in lieu of a quarter's rent, still decorated the parlour walls. Mrs. Stokes was a communicative person, and quickly told all she knew about Mr. Sharp; how dissolute and poor he was; how good-natured and amusing; how he was always hunted by bailiffs and duns; how, to the landlady's horror, though she never could abide the woman, he did not marry his wife till a short time before her death; and what a queer little wild vixen his daughter was; how she kept them all laughing with her fun and mimicry; how she used to fetch the gin from the public-house, and was known in all the studios in the quarter-in brief,
Mrs. Bute got such a full account of her new niece's parentage, education, and behaviour as would scarcely have pleased Rebecca, had the latter known that such inquiries were being made concerning her.
Of all these industrious researches Miss Crawley had the full benefit. Mrs. Rawdon Crawley was the daughter of an opera-girl. She had danced herself. She had been a model to the painters. She was brought up as became her mother's daughter. She drank gin with her father,
&c. &c. It was a lost woman who was married to a lost man; and the moral to be inferred from Mrs. Bute's tale was, that the knavery of the pair was irremediable, and that no properly conducted person should ever notice them again.
These were the materials which prudent Mrs. Bute gathered together in Park Lane, the provisions and ammunition as it were with which she fortified the house against the siege which she knew that Rawdon and his wife would lay to Miss Crawley.
But if a fault may be found with her arrangements, it is this, that she was too eager: she managed rather too well; undoubtedly she made Miss Crawley more ill than was necessary; and though the old invalid succumbed to her authority, it was so harassing and severe, that the victim would be inclined to escape at the very first chance which fell in her way. Managing women, the ornaments of their sex-women who order everything for everybody, and know so much better than any person concerned what is good for their neighbours, don't sometimes speculate upon the possibility of a domestic revolt, or upon other extreme consequences resulting from their overstrained authority.
Thus, for instance, Mrs. Bute, with the best intentions no doubt in the world, and wearing herself to death as she did by foregoing sleep, dinner, fresh air, for the sake of her invalid sister-in-law, carried her conviction of the old lady's illness so far that she almost managed her into her coffin. She pointed out her sacrifices and their results one day to the constant apothecary, Mr. Clump.
"I am sure, my dear Mr. Clump," she said, "no efforts of mine have been wanting to restore our dear invalid, whom the ingratitude of her nephew has laid on the bed of sickness. I never shrink from personal discomfort: I
never refuse to sacrifice myself."
"Your devotion, it must be confessed, is admirable,"
Mr. Clump says, with a low bow; "but-"
"I have scarcely closed my eyes since my arrival: I
give up sleep, health, every comfort, to my sense of duty.
When my poor James was in the smallpox, did I allow any hireling to nurse him? No."
"You did what became an excellent mother, my dear
Madam-the best of mothers; but-~'
"As the mother of a family and the wife of an English clergyman, I humbly trust that my principles are good,"
Mrs. Bute said, with a happy solemnity of conviction;
"and, as long as Nature supports me, never, never, Mr.
Clump, will I desert the post of duty. Others may bring that grey head with sorrow to the bed of sickness (here
Mrs. Bute, waving her hand, pointed to one of old Miss
Crawley's coffee-coloured fronts, which was perched on a stand in the dressing-room), but I will never quit it.
Ah, Mr. Clump! I fear, I know, that the couch needs spiritual as well as medical consolation."
"What I was going to observe, my dear Madam,"-
here the resolute Clump once more interposed with a bland air-"what I was going to observe when you gave utterance to sentiments which do you so much honour, was that I think you alarm yourself needlessly about our kind friend, and sacrifice your own health too prodigally in her favour."
"I would lay down my life for my duty, or for any member of my husband's family," Mrs. Bute interposed.
"Yes, Madam, if need were; but we don't want Mrs
Bute Crawley to be a martyr," Clump said gallantly. "Dr
Squills and myself have both considered Miss Crawley's case with every anxiety and care, as you may suppose. We see her low-spirited and nervous; family events have agitated her."
"Her nephew will come to perdition," Mrs. Crawley cried.
"Have agitated her: and you arrived like a guardian angel, my dear Madam, a positive guardian angel, I
assure you, to soothe her under the pressure of calamity.
But Dr. Squills and I were thinking that our amiable friend is not in such a state as renders confinement to her bed necessary. She is depressed, but this confinement perhaps adds to her depression. She should have change, fresh air, gaiety; the most delightful remedies in the pharmacopoeia," Mr. Clump said, grinning and showing his handsome teeth. "Persuade her to rise, dear Madam;
drag her from her couch and her low spirits; insist upon her taking little drives. They will restore the roses too to your cheeks, if I may so speak to Mrs. Bute Crawley."
"The sight of her horrid nephew casually in the Park, where I am told the wretch drives with the brazen partner of his crimes," Mrs. Bute said (letting the cat of selfishness out of the bag of secrecy), "would cause her such a shock, that we should have to bring her back to bed again. She must not go out, Mr. Clump. She shall not go out as long as I remain to watch over her; And as for my health, what matters it? I give it cheerfully, sir. I sacrifice it at the altar of my duty."
"Upon my word, Madam," Mr. Clump now said bluntly,
"I won't answer for her life if she remains locked up in that dark room. She is so nervous that we may lose her any day; and if you wish Captain Crawley to be her heir, I warn you frankly, Madam, that you are doing your very best to serve him."
"Gracious mercy! is her life in danger?" Mrs. Bute cried. "Why, why, Mr. Clump, did you not inform me sooner?"
The night before, Mr. Clump and Dr. Squills had had a consultation (over a bottle of wine at the house of Sir
Lapin Warren, whose lady was about to present him with a thirteenth blessing), regarding Miss Crawley and her case.
"What a little harpy that woman from Hampshire is,
Clump," Squills remarked, "that has seized upon old
Tilly Crawley. Devilish good Madeira."
"What a fool Rawdon Crawley has been," Clump replied,
"to go and marry a governess! There was something about the girl, too."
"Green eyes, fair skin, pretty figure, famous frontal development," Squills remarked. "There is something about her; and Crawley was a fool, Squills."
"A d- fool-always was," the apothecary replied.
"Of course the old girl will fling him over," said the physician, and after a pause added, "She'll cut up well, I
"Cut up," says Clump with a grin; "I wouldn't have her cut up for two hundred a year."
"That Hampshire woman will kill her in two months,
Clump, my boy, if she stops about her," Dr. Squills said.
"Old woman; full feeder; nervous subject; palpitation of the heart; pressure on the brain; apoplexy; off she goes.
Get her up, Clump; get her out: or I wouldn't give many weeks' purchase for your two hundred a year." And it was acting upon this hint that the worthy apothecary spoke with so much candour to Mrs. Bute Crawley.
Having the old lady under her hand: in bed: with nobody near, Mrs. Bute had made more than one assault upon her, to induce her to alter her will. But Miss Crawley's usual terrors regarding death increased greatly when such dismal propositions were made to her, and Mrs.
Bute saw that she must get her patient into cheerful spirits and health before she could hope to attain the pious object which she had in view. Whither to take her was the next puzzle. The only place where she is not likely to meet those odious Rawdons is at church, and that won't amuse her, Mrs. Bute justly felt. "We must go and visit our beautiful suburbs of London," she then thought. "I
hear they are the most picturesque in the world"; and so she had a sudden interest for Hampstead, and Hornsey, and found that Dulwich had great charms for her, and getting her victim into her carriage, drove her to those rustic spots, beguiling the little journeys with conversations about Rawdon and his wife, and telling every story to the old lady which could add to her indignation against this pair of reprobates.
Perhaps Mrs. Bute pulled the string unnecessarily tight.
For though she worked up Miss Crawley to a proper dislike of her disobedient nephew, the invalid had a great hatred and secret terror of her victimizer, and panted to escape from her. After a brief space, she rebelled against Highgate and Hornsey utterly. She would go into the Park. Mrs. Bute knew they would meet the abominable
Rawdon there, and she was right. One day in the ring, Rawdon's stanhope came in sight; Rebecca was seated by him. In the enemy's equipage Miss Crawley occupied her usual place, with Mrs. Bute on her left, the poodle and Miss Briggs on the back seat. It was a nervous moment, and Rebecca's heart beat quick as she recognized the carriage; and as the two vehicles crossed each other in a line, she clasped her hands, and looked towards the spinster with a face of agonized attachment and devotion. Rawdon himself trembled, and his face grew purple behind his dyed mustachios. Only old Briggs was moved in the other carriage, and cast her great eyes nervously towards her old friends. Miss Crawley's bonnet was resolutely turned towards the Serpentine. Mrs. Bute happened to be in ecstasies with the poodle, and was calling him a little darling, and a sweet little zoggy, and a pretty pet. The carriages moved on, each in his line.
"Done, by Jove," Rawdon said to his wife.
"Try once more, Rawdon," Rebecca answered. "Could not you lock your wheels into theirs, dearest?"
Rawdon had not the heart for that manoeuvre. When the carriages met again, he stood up in his stanhope; he raised his hand ready to doff his hat; he looked with all his eyes. But this time Miss Crawley's face was not turned away; she and Mrs. Bute looked him full in the face, and cut their nephew pitilessly. He sank back in his seat with an oath, and striking out of the ring, dashed away desperately homewards.
It was a gallant and decided triumph for Mrs. Bute.
But she felt the danger of many such meetings, as she saw the evident nervousness of Miss Crawley; and she determined that it was most necessary for her dear friend's health, that they should leave town for a while, and recommended Brighton very strongly.
In Which Captain Dobbin Acts as the Messenger of Hymen
Without knowing how, Captain William Dobbin found himself the great promoter, arranger, and manager of the match between George Osborne and Amelia. But for him it never would have taken place: he could not but confess as much to himself, and smiled rather bitterly as he thought that he of all men in the world should be the person upon whom the care of this marriage had fallen.
But though indeed the conducting of this negotiation was about as painful a task as could be set to him, yet when he had a duty to perform, Captain Dobbin was accustomed to go through it without many words or much hesitation: and, having made up his mind completely, that if Miss Sedley was balked of her husband she would die of the disappointment, he was determined to use all his best endeavours to keep her alive.
I forbear to enter into minute particulars of the interview between George and Amelia, when the former was brought back to the feet (or should we venture to say the arms?) of his young mistress by the intervention of his friend honest William. A much harder heart than
George's would have melted at the sight of that sweet face so sadly ravaged by grief and despair, and at the simple tender accents in which she told her little broken-
hearted story: but as she did not faint when her mother, trembling, brought Osborne to her; and as she only gave relief to her overcharged grief, by laying her head on her lover's shoulder and there weeping for a while the most tender, copious, and refreshing tears-old Mrs.
Sedley, too greatly relieved, thought it was best to leave the young persons to themselves; and so quitted Emmy crying over George's hand, and kissing it humbly, as if he were her supreme chief and master, and as if she were quite a guilty and unworthy person needing every favour and grace from him.
This prostration and sweet unrepining obedience exquisitely touched and flattered George Osborne. He saw a slave before him in that simple yielding faithful creature, and his soul within him thrilled secretly somehow at the knowledge of his power. He would be generous-
minded, Sultan as he was, and raise up this kneeling
Esther and make a queen of her: besides, her sadness and beauty touched him as much as her submission, and so he cheered her, and raised her up and forgave her, so to speak. All her hopes and feelings, which were dying and withering, this her sun having been removed from her, bloomed again and at once, its light being restored.
You would scarcely have recognised the beaming little face upon Amelia's pillow that night as the one that was laid there the night before, so wan, so lifeless, so careless of all round about. The honest Irish maid-servant, delighted with the change, asked leave to kiss the face that had grown all of a sudden so rosy. Amelia put her arms round the girl's neck and kissed her with all her heart, like a child. She was little more. She had that night a sweet refreshing sleep, like one-and what a spring of inexpressible happiness as she woke in the morning sunshine!
"He will be here again to-day," Amelia thought. "He is the greatest and best of men." And the fact is, that
George thought he was one of the generousest creatures alive: and that he was making a tremendous sacrifice in marrying this young creature.
While she and Osborne were having their delightful tete-a-tete above stairs, old Mrs. Sedley and Captain
Dobbin were conversing below upon the state of the affairs, and the chances and future arrangements of the young people. Mrs. Sedley having brought the two lovers together and left them embracing each other with all their might, like a true woman, was of opinion that no power on earth would induce Mr. Sedley to consent to the match between his daughter and the son of a man who had so shamefully, wickedly, and monstrously treated him. And she told a long story about happier days and their earlier splendours, when Osborne lived in a very humble way in the New Road, and his wife was too glad to receive some of Jos's little baby things, with which Mrs. Sedley accommodated her at the birth of one of Osborne's own children. The fiendish ingratitude of that man, she was sure, had broken Mr. S.'s heart: and as for a marriage, he would never, never, never, never consent.
"They must run away together, Ma'am," Dobbin said, laughing, "and follow the example of Captain Rawdon
Crawley, and Miss Emmy's friend the little governess."
Was it possible? Well she never! Mrs. Sedley was all excitement about this news. She wished that Blenkinsop were here to hear it: Blenkinsop always mistrusted that Miss
Sharp.-What an escape Jos had had! and she described the already well-known love-passages between Rebecca and the Collector of Boggley Wollah.
It was not, however, Mr. Sedley's wrath which Dobbin feared, so much as that of the other parent concerned, and he owned that he had a very considerable doubt and anxiety respecting the behaviour of the black-browed old tyrant of a Russia merchant in Russell Square. He has forbidden the match peremptorily, Dobbin thought.
He knew what a savage determined man Osborne was, and how he stuck by his word. The only chance George has of reconcilement," argued his friend, "is by distinguishing himself in the coming campaign. If he dies they both go together. If he fails in distinction-what then? He has some money from his mother, I have heard enough to purchase his majority-or he must sell out and go and dig in Canada, or rough it in a cottage in the country."
With such a partner Dobbin thought he would not mind
Siberia-and, strange to say, this absurd and utterly imprudent young fellow never for a moment considered that the want of means to keep a nice carriage and horses, and of an income which should enable its possessors to entertain their friends genteelly, ought to operate as bars to the union of George and Miss Sedley.
It was these weighty considerations which made him think too that the marriage should take place as quickly as possible. Was he anxious himself, I wonder, to have it over.?-as people, when death has occurred, like to press forward the funeral, or when a parting is resolved upon, hasten it. It is certain that Mr. Dobbin, having taken the matter in hand, was most extraordinarily eager in the conduct of it. He urged on George the necessity of immediate action: he showed the chances of reconciliation with his father, which a favourable mention of his name in the
Gazette must bring about. If need were he would go himself and brave both the fathers in the business. At all events, he besought George to go through with it before the orders came, which everybody expected, for the departure of the regiment from England on foreign service.
Bent upon these hymeneal projects, and with the applause and consent of Mrs. Sedley, who did not care to break the matter personally to her husband, Mr. Dobbin went to seek John Sedley at his house of call in the City, the Tapioca Coffee-house, where, since his own offices were shut up, and fate had overtaken him, the poor broken-down old gentleman used to betake himself daily, and write letters and receive them, and tie them up into mysterious bundles, several of which he carried in the flaps of his coat. I don't know anything more dismal than that business and bustle and mystery of a ruined man: those letters from the wealthy which he shows you: those worn greasy documents promising support and offering condolence which he places wistfully before you, and on which he builds his hopes of restoration and future fortune.
My beloved reader has no doubt in the course of his experience been waylaid by many such a luckless companion. He takes you into the corner; he has his bundle of papers out of his gaping coat pocket; and the tape off, and the string in his mouth, and the favourite letters selected and laid before you; and who does not know the sad eager half-crazy look which he fixes on you with his hopeless eyes?
Changed into a man of this sort, Dobbin found the once florid, jovial, and prosperous John Sedley. His coat, that used to be so glossy and trim, was white at the seams, and the buttons showed the copper. His face had fallen in, and was unshorn; his frill and neckcloth hung limp under his bagging waistcoat. When he used to treat the boys in old days at a coffee-house, he would shout and laugh louder than anybody there, and have all the waiters skipping round him; it was quite painful to see how humble and civil he was to John of the Tapioca, a blear-eyed old attendant in dingy stockings and cracked pumps, whose business it was to serve glasses of wafers, and bumpers of ink in pewter, and slices of paper to the frequenters of this dreary house of entertainment, where nothing else seemed to be consumed. As for William
Dobbin, whom he had tipped repeatedly in his youth, and who had been the old gentleman's butt on a thousand occasions, old Sedley gave his hand to him in a very hesitating humble manner now, and called him "Sir." A
feeling of shame and remorse took possession of William
Dobbin as the broken old man so received and addressed him, as if he himself had been somehow guilty of the misfortunes which had brought Sedley so low.
"I am very glad to see you, Captain Dobbin, sir," says he, after a skulking look or two at his visitor (whose lanky figure and military appearance caused some excitement likewise to twinkle in the blear eyes of the waiter in the cracked dancing pumps, and awakened the old lady in black, who dozed among the mouldy old coffee-cups in the bar). "How is the worthy alderman, and my lady, your excellent mother, sir?" He looked round at the waiter as he said, "My lady," as much as to say, "Hark ye, John, I
have friends still, and persons of rank and reputation, too." "Are you come to do anything in my way, sir? My young friends Dale and Spiggot do all my business for me now, until my new offices are ready; for I'm only here temporarily, you know, Captain. What can we do for you.
sir? Will you like to take anything?"
Dobbin, with a great deal of hesitation and stuttering, protested that he was not in the least hungry or thirsty;
that he had no business to transact; that he only came to ask if Mr. Sedley was well, and to shake hands with an old friend; and, he added, with a desperate perversion of truth, "My mother is very well-that is, she's been very unwell, and is only waiting for the first fine day to go out and call upon Mrs. Sedley. How is Mrs. Sedley, sir? I
hope she's quite well." And here he paused, reflecting on his own consummate hypocrisy; for the day was as fine, and the sunshine as bright as it ever is in Coffin Court, where the Tapioca Coffee-house is situated: and Mr.
Dobbin remembered that he had seen Mrs. Sedley himself only an hour before, having driven Osborne down to Fulham in his gig, and left him there tete-a-tete with Miss Amelia.
"My wife will be very happy to see her ladyship,"
Sedley replied, pulling out his papers. "I've a very kind letter here from your father, sir, and beg my respectful compliments to him. Lady D. will find us in rather a smaller house than we were accustomed to receive our friends in; but it's snug, and the change of air does good to my daughter, who was suffering in town rather-you remember little Emmy, sir?-yes, suffering a good deal."
The old gentleman's eyes were wandering as he spoke, and he was thinking of something else, as he sate thrumming on his papers and fumbling at the worn red tape.
"You're a military man," he went on; "I ask you, Bill
Dobbin, could any man ever have speculated upon the return of that Corsican scoundrel from Elba? When the allied sovereigns were here last year, and we gave 'em that dinner in the City, sir, and we saw the Temple of
Concord, and the fireworks, and the Chinese bridge in
St. James's Park, could any sensible man suppose that peace wasn't really concluded, after we'd actually sung Te
Deum for it, sir? I ask you, William, could I suppose that the Emperor of Austria was a damned traitor-a traitor, and nothing more? I don't mince words-a double-faced infernal traitor and schemer, who meant to have his son-
in-law back all along. And I say that the escape of Boney from Elba was a damned imposition and plot, sir, in which half the powers of Europe were concerned, to bring the funds down, and to ruin this country. That's why I'm here, William. That's why my name's in the
Gazette. Why, sir?-because I trusted the Emperor of
Russia and the Prince Regent. Look here. Look at my papers. Look what the funds were on the 1st of March
-what the French fives were when I bought for the count. And what they're at now. There was collusion, sir, or that villain never would have escaped. Where was the
English Commissioner who allowed him to get away? He ought to be shot, sir-brought to a court-martial, and shot, by Jove."
"We're going to hunt Boney out, sir," Dobbin said, rather alarmed at the fury of the old man, the veins of whose forehead began to swell, and who sate drumming his papers with his clenched fist. "We are going to hunt him out, sir-the Duke's in Belgium already, and we expect marching orders every day."
"Give him no quarter. Bring back the villain's head, sir.
Shoot the coward down, sir," Sedley roared. "I'd enlist myself, by-; but I'm a broken old man-ruined by that damned scoundrel-and by a parcel of swindling thieves in this country whom I made, sir, and who are rolling in their carriages now," he added, with a break in his voice.
Dobbin was not a little affected by the sight of this once kind old friend, crazed almost with misfortune and raving with senile anger. Pity the fallen gentleman: you to whom money and fair repute are the chiefest good; and so, surely, are they in Vanity Fair.
"Yes," he continued, "there are some vipers that you warm, and they sting you afterwards. There are some beggars that you put on horseback, and they're the first to ride you down. You know whom I mean, William
Dobbin, my boy. I mean a purse-proud villain in Russell
Square, whom I knew without a shilling, and whom I
pray and hope to see a beggar as he was when I
"I have heard something of this, sir, from my friend
George," Dobbin said, anxious to come to his point. "The quarrel between you and his father has cut him up a great deal, sir. Indeed, I'm the bearer of a message from him."
"O, THAT'S your errand, is it?" cried the old man, jumping up. "What! perhaps he condoles with me, does he?
Very kind of him, the stiff-backed prig, with his dandified airs and West End swagger. He's hankering about my house, is he still? If my son had the courage of a man, he'd shoot him. He's as big a villain as his father. I won't have his name mentioned in my house. I curse the day that ever I let him into it; and I'd rather see my daughter dead at my feet than married to him."
"His father's harshness is not George's fault, sir. Your daughter's love for him is as much your doing as his. Who are you, that you are to play with two young people's affections and break their hearts at your will?"
"Recollect it's not his father that breaks the match off,"
old Sedley cried out. "It's I that forbid it. That family and mine are separated for ever. I'm fallen low, but not so low as that: no, no. And so you may tell the whole race-
son, and father and sisters, and all."
"It's my belief, sir, that you have not the power or the right to separate those two," Dobbin answered in a low voice; "and that if you don't give your daughter your consent it will be her duty to marry without it. There's no reason she should die or live miserably because you are wrong-headed. To my thinking, she's just as much married as if the banns had been read in all the churches in
London. And what better answer can there be to Osborne's charges against you, as charges there are, than that his son claims to enter your family and marry your daughter?"
A light of something like satisfaction seemed to break over old Sedley as this point was put to him: but he still persisted that with his consent the marriage between
Amelia and George should never take place.
"We must do it without," Dobbin said, smiling, and told
Mr. Sedley, as he had told Mrs. Sedley in the day, before, the story of Rebecca's elopement with Captain Crawley. It evidently amused the old gentleman. "You're terrible fellows, you Captains," said he, tying up his papers; and his face wore something like a smile upon it, to the astonishment of the blear-eyed waiter who now entered, and had never seen such an expression upon Sedley's countenance since he had used the dismal coffee-house.
The idea of hitting his enemy Osborne such a blow soothed, perhaps, the old gentleman: and, their colloquy presently ending, he and Dobbin parted pretty good friends.
"My sisters say she has diamonds as big as pigeons'
eggs," George said, laughing. "How they must set off her complexion! A perfect illumination it must be when her jewels are on her neck. Her jet-black hair is as curly as
Sambo's. I dare say she wore a nose ring when she went to court; and with a plume of feathers in her top-knot she would look a perfect Belle Sauvage."
George, in conversation with Amelia, was rallying the appearance of a young lady of whom his father and sisters had lately made the acquaintance, and who was an object of vast respect to the Russell Square family. She was reported to have I don't know how many plantations in the
West Indies; a deal of money in the funds; and three stars to her name in the East India stockholders' list. She had a mansion in Surrey, and a house in Portland Place.
The name of the rich West India heiress had been mentioned with applause in the Morning Post. Mrs. Haggistoun,
Colonel Haggistoun's widow, her relative, "chaperoned"
her, and kept her house. She was just from school, where she had completed her education, and George and his sisters had met her at an evening party at old Hulker's house, Devonshire Place (Hulker, Bullock, and Co. were long the correspondents of her house in the West Indies), and the girls had made the most cordial advances to her, which the heiress had received with great good humour.
An orphan in her position-with her money-so interesting!
the Misses Osborne said. They were full of their new friend when they returned from the Hulker ball to Miss
Wirt, their companion; they had made arrangements for continually meeting, and had the carriage and drove to see her the very next day. Mrs. Haggistoun, Colonel Haggistoun's widow, a relation of Lord Binkie, and always talking of him, struck the dear unsophisticated girls as rather haughty, and too much inclined to talk about her great relations: but Rhoda was everything they could wish-
the frankest, kindest, most agreeable creature-wanting a little polish, but so good-natured. The girls Christian-
named each other at once.
"You should have seen her dress for court, Emmy,"
Osborne cried, laughing. "She came to my sisters to show it off, before she was presented in state by my Lady
Binkie, the Haggistoun's kinswoman. She's related to every one, that Haggistoun. Her diamonds blazed out like
Vauxhall on the night we were there. (Do you remember
Vauxhall, Emmy, and Jos singing to his dearest diddle diddle darling?) Diamonds and mahogany, my dear!
think what an advantageous contrast-and the white feathers in her hair-I mean in her wool. She had earrings like chandeliers; you might have lighted 'em up, by Jove-and a yellow satin train that streeled after her like the tail of a cornet."
"How old is she?" asked Emmy, to whom George was rattling away regarding this dark paragon, on the morning of their reunion-rattling away as no other man in the world surely could.
"Why the Black Princess, though she has only just left school, must be two or three and twenty. And you should see the hand she writes! Mrs. Colonel Haggistoun usually writes her letters, but in a moment of confidence, she put pen to paper for my sisters; she spelt satin satting, and
Saint James's, Saint Jams."
"Why, surely it must be Miss Swartz, the parlour boarder," Emmy said, remembering that good-natured young mulatto girl, who had been so hysterically affected when Amelia left Miss Pinkerton's academy
"The very name," George said. "Her father was a German
Jew-a slave-owner they say-connected with the
Cannibal Islands in some way or other. He died last year, and Miss Pinkerton has finished her education. She can play two pieces on the piano; she knows three songs;
she can write when Mrs. Haggistoun is by to spell for her;
and Jane and Maria already have got to love her as a sister."
"I wish they would have loved me," said Emmy, wistfully.
"They were always very cold to me."
"My dear child, they would have loved you if you had had two hundred thousand pounds," George replied. "That is the way in which they have been brought up. Ours is a ready-money society. We live among bankers and City big-wigs, and be hanged to them, and every man, as he talks to you, is jingling his guineas in his pocket. There is that jackass Fred Bullock is going to marry Maria-
there's Goldmore, the East India Director, there's Dipley, in the tallow trade-OUR trade," George said, with an uneasy laugh and a blush. "Curse the whole pack of money-
grubbing vulgarians! I fall asleep at their great heavy dinners. I feel ashamed in my father's great stupid parties. I've been accustomed to live with gentlemen, and men of the world and fashion, Emmy, not with a parcel of turtle-fed tradesmen. Dear little woman, you are the only person of our set who ever looked, or thought, or spoke like a lady: and you do it because you're an angel and can't help it. Don't remonstrate. You are the only lady.
Didn't Miss Crawley remark it, who has lived in the best company in Europe? And as for Crawley, of the Life
Guards, hang it, he's a fine fellow: and I like him for marrying the girl he had chosen."
Amelia admired Mr. Crawley very much, too, for this;
and trusted Rebecca would be happy with him, and hoped
(with a laugh) Jos would be consoled. And so the pair went on prattling, as in quite early days. Amelia's confidence being perfectly restored to her, though she expressed a great deal of pretty jealousy about Miss Swartz, and professed to be dreadfully frightened-like a hypocrite as she was-lest George should forget her for the heiress and her money and her estates in Saint Kitt's. But the fact is, she was a great deal too happy to have fears or doubts or misgivings of any sort: and having George at her side again, was not afraid of any heiress or beauty, or indeed of any sort of danger.
When Captain Dobbin came back in the afternoon to these people-which he did with a great deal of sympathy for them-it did his heart good to see how Amelia had grown young again-how she laughed, and chirped, and sang familiar old songs at the piano, which were only interrupted by the bell from without proclaiming Mr.
Sedley's return from the City, before whom George received a signal to retreat.
Beyond the first smile of recognition-and even that was an hypocrisy, for she thought his arrival rather provoking
-Miss Sedley did not once notice Dobbin during his visit. But he was content, so that he saw her happy; and thankful to have been the means of making her so.
A Quarrel About an Heiress
Love may be felt for any young lady endowed with such qualities as Miss Swartz possessed; and a great dream of ambition entered into old Mr. Osborne's soul, which she was to realize. He encouraged, with the utmost enthusiasm and friendliness, his daughters' amiable attachment to the young heiress, and protested that it gave him the sincerest pleasure as a father to see the love of his girls so well disposed.
"You won't find," he would say to Miss Rhoda, "that splendour and rank to which you are accustomed at the
West End, my dear Miss, at our humble mansion in Russell
Square. My daughters are plain, disinterested girls, but their hearts are in the right place, and they've conceived an attachment for you which does them honour-I say, which does them honour. I'm a plain, simple, humble
British merchant-an honest one, as my respected friends
Hulker and Bullock will vouch, who were the correspondents of your late lamented father. You'll find us a united, simple, happy, and I think I may say respected, family-a plain table, a plain people, but a warm welcome, my dear Miss Rhoda-Rhoda, let me say, for my heart warms to you, it does really. I'm a frank man, and
I like you. A glass of Champagne! Hicks, Champagne to
There is little doubt that old Osborne believed all he said, and that the girls were quite earnest in their protestations of affection for Miss Swartz. People in Vanity
Fair fasten on to rich folks quite naturally. If the simplest people are disposed to look not a little kindly on great Prosperity (for I defy any member of the British public to say that the notion of Wealth has not something awful and pleasing to him; and you, if you are told that the man next you at dinner has got half a million, not to look at him with a certain interest)-if the simple look benevolently on money, how much more do your old worldlings regard it! Their affections rush out to meet and welcome money. Their kind sentiments awaken spontaneously towards the interesting possessors of it. I know some respectable people who don't consider themselves at liberty to indulge in friendship for any individual who has not a certain competency, or place in society. They give a loose to their feelings on proper occasions. And the proof is, that the major part of the Osborne family, who had not, in fifteen years, been able to get up a hearty regard for Amelia Sedley, became as fond of Miss
Swartz in the course of a single evening as the most romantic advocate of friendship at first sight could desire.
What a match for George she'd be (the sisters and
Miss Wirt agreed), and how much better than that insignificant little Amelia! Such a dashing young fellow as he is, with his good looks, rank, and accomplishments, would be the very husband for her. Visions of balls in
Portland Place, presentations at Court, and introductions to half the peerage, filled the minds of the young ladies;
who talked of nothing but George and his grand acquaintances to their beloved new friend.
Old Osborne thought she would be a great match, too, for his son. He should leave the army; he should go into
Parliament; he should cut a figure in the fashion and in the state. His blood boiled with honest British exultation, as he saw the name of Osborne ennobled in the person of his son, and thought that he might be the progenitor of a glorious line of baronets. He worked in the City and on
'Change, until he knew everything relating to the fortune of the heiress, how her money was placed, and where her estates lay. Young Fred Bullock, one of his chief informants, would have liked to make a bid for her himself
(it was so the young banker expressed it), only he was booked to Maria Osborne. But not being able to secure her as a wife, the disinterested Fred quite approved of her as a sister-in-law. "Let George cut in directly and win her," was his advice. "Strike while the iron's hot, you know-while she's fresh to the town: in a few weeks some d- fellow from the West End will come in with a title and a rotten rent-roll and cut all us City men out, as
Lord Fitzrufus did last year with Miss Grogram, who was actually engaged to Podder, of Podder & Brown's. The sooner it is done the better, Mr. Osborne; them's my sentiments," the wag said; though, when Osborne had left the bank parlour, Mr. Bullock remembered Amelia, and what a pretty girl she was, and how attached to George
Osborne; and he gave up at least ten seconds of his valuable time to regretting the misfortune which had befallen that unlucky young woman.
While thus George Osborne's good feelings, and his good friend and genius, Dobbin, were carrying back the truant to Amelia's feet, George's parent and sisters were arranging this splendid match for him, which they never dreamed he would resist.
When the elder Osborne gave what he called "a hint,"
there was no possibility for the most obtuse to mistake his meaning. He called kicking a footman downstairs a hint to the latter to leave his service. With his usual frankness and delicacy he told Mrs. Haggistoun that he would give her a cheque for five thousand pounds on the day his son was married to her ward; and called that proposal a hint, and considered it a very dexterous piece of diplomacy. He gave George finally such another hint regarding the heiress; and ordered him to marry her out of hand, as he would have ordered his butler to draw a cork, or his clerk to write a letter.
This imperative hint disturbed George a good deal. He was in the very first enthusiasm and delight of his second courtship of Amelia, which was inexpressibly sweet to him. The contrast of her manners and appearance with those of the heiress, made the idea of a union with the latter appear doubly ludicrous and odious. Carriages and opera-boxes, thought he; fancy being seen in them by the side of such a mahogany charmer as that! Add to all that the junior Osborne was quite as obstinate as the senior: when he wanted a thing, quite as firm in his resolution to get it; and quite as violent when angered, as his father in his most stern moments.
On the first day when his father formally gave him the hint that he was to place his affections at Miss Swartz's feet, George temporised with the old gentleman. "You should have thought of the matter sooner, sir," he said.
"It can't be done now, when we're expecting every day to go on foreign service. Wait till my return, if I do return"; and then he represented, that the time when the regiment was daily expecting to quit England, was exceedingly ill-chosen: that the few days or weeks during which they were still to remain at home, must be devoted to business and not to love-making: time enough for that when he came home with his majority; "for, I
promise you," said he, with a satisfied air, "that one way or other you shall read the name of George Osborne in the Gazette."
The father's reply to this was founded upon the information which he had got in the City: that the West
End chaps would infallibly catch hold of the heiress if any delay took place: that if he didn't marry Miss S., he might at least have an engagement in writing, to come into effect when he returned to England; and that a man who could get ten thousand a year by staying at home, was a fool to risk his life abroad.
"So that you would have me shown up as a coward, sir, and our name dishonoured for the sake of Miss Swartz's money," George interposed.
This remark staggered the old gentleman; but as he had to reply to it, and as his mind was nevertheless made up, he said, "You will dine here to-morrow, sir, and every day Miss Swartz comes, you will be here to pay your respects to her. If you want for money, call upon Mr. Chopper." Thus a new obstacle was in George's way, to interfere with his plans regarding Amelia; and about which he and Dobbin had more than one confidential consultation. His friend's opinion respecting the line of conduct which he ought to pursue, we know already. And as for Osborne, when he was once bent on a thing, a fresh obstacle or two only rendered him the more resolute.
The dark object of the conspiracy into which the chiefs of the Osborne family had entered, was quite ignorant of all their plans regarding her (which, strange to say, her friend and chaperon did not divulge), and, taking all the young ladies' flattery for genuine sentiment, and being, as we have before had occasion to show, of a very warm and impetuous nature, responded to their affection with quite a tropical ardour. And if the truth may be told,
I dare say that she too had some selfish attraction in the
Russell Square house; and in a word, thought George
Osborne a very nice young man. His whiskers had made an impression upon her, on the very first night she beheld them at the ball at Messrs. Hulkers; and, as we know, she was not the first woman who had been charmed by them. George had an air at once swaggering and melancholy, languid and fierce. He looked like a man who had passions, secrets, and private harrowing griefs and adventures. His voice was rich and deep. He would say it was a warm evening, or ask his partner to take an ice, with a tone as sad and confidential as if he were breaking her mother's death to her, or preluding a declaration of love. He trampled over all the young bucks of his father's circle, and was the hero among those third-rate men. Some few sneered at him and hated him.
Some, like Dobbin, fanatically admired him. And his whiskers had begun to do their work, and to curl themselves round the affections of Miss Swartz.
Whenever there was a chance of meeting him in Russell
Square, that simple and good-natured young woman was quite in a flurry to see her dear Misses Osborne. She went to great expenses in new gowns, and bracelets, and bonnets, and in prodigious feathers. She adorned her person with her utmost skill to please the Conqueror, and exhibited all her simple accomplishments to win his favour. The girls would ask her, with the greatest gravity, for a little music, and she would sing her three songs and play her two little pieces as often as ever they asked, and with an always increasing pleasure to herself. During these delectable entertainments, Miss
Wirt and the chaperon sate by, and conned over the peerage, and talked about the nobility.
The day after George had his hint from his father, and a short time before the hour of dinner, he was lolling upon a sofa in the drawing-room in a very becoming and perfectly natural attitude of melancholy. He had been, at his father's request, to Mr. Chopper in the City
(the old-gentleman, though he gave great sums to his son, would never specify any fixed allowance for him, and rewarded him only as he was in the humour). He had then been to pass three hours with Amelia, his dear little Amelia, at Fulham; and he came home to find his sisters spread in starched muslin in the drawing-
room, the dowagers cackling in the background, and honest Swartz in her favourite amber-coloured satin, with turquoise bracelets, countless rings, flowers, feathers, and all sorts of tags and gimcracks, about as elegantly decorated as a she chimney-sweep on May-day.
The girls, after vain attempts to engage him in conversation, talked about fashions and the last drawing-room until he was perfectly sick of their chatter. He contrasted their behaviour with little Emmy's-their shrill voices with her tender ringing tones; their attitudes and their elbows and their starch, with her humble soft movements and modest graces. Poor Swartz was seated in a place where Emmy had been accustomed to sit.
Her bejewelled hands lay sprawling in her amber satin lap. Her tags and ear-rings twinkled, and her big eyes rolled about. She was doing nothing with perfect contentment, and thinking herself charming. Anything so becoming as the satin the sisters had never seen.
"Dammy," George said to a confidential friend, "she looked like a China doll, which has nothing to do all day but to grin and wag its head. By Jove, Will, it was all I
I could do to prevent myself from throwing the sofa-
cushion at her." He restrained that exhibition of sentiment, however.
The sisters began to play the Battle of Prague. "Stop that d- thing," George howled out in a fury from the sofa. "It makes me mad. You play us something, Miss
Swartz, do. Sing something, anything but the Battle of
"Shall I sing 'Blue Eyed Mary' or the air from the
Cabinet?" Miss Swartz asked.
"That sweet thing from the Cabinet," the sisters said.
"We've had that," replied the misanthrope on the sofa
"I can sing 'Fluvy du Tajy,' " Swartz said, in a meek voice, "if I had the words." It was the last of the worthy young woman's collection.
"O, 'Fleuve du Tage,' " Miss Maria cried; "we have the song," and went off to fetch the book in which it was.
Now it happened that this song, then in the height of the fashion, had been given to the young ladies by a young friend of theirs, whose name was on the title, and Miss
Swartz, having concluded the ditty with George's applause
(for he remembered that it was a favourite of Amelia's), was hoping for an encore perhaps, and fiddling with the leaves of the music, when her eye fell upon the title, and she saw "Amelia Sedley" written in the comer.
"Lor!" cried Miss Swartz, spinning swiftly round on the music-stool, "is it my Amelia? Amelia that was at
Miss P.'s at Hammersmith? I know it is. It's her. and-
Tell me about her-where is she?"
"Don't mention her," Miss Maria Osborne said hastily. "Her family has disgraced itself. Her father cheated Papa, and as for her, she is never to be mentioned
HERE." This was Miss Maria's return for George's rudeness about the Battle of Prague.
"Are you a friend of Amelia's?" George said, bouncing up. "God bless you for it, Miss Swartz. Don't believe what,the girls say. SHE'S not to blame at any rate.
She's the best-"
"You know you're not to speak about her, George,"
cried Jane. "Papa forbids it."
"Who's to prevent me?" George cried out. "I will speak of her. I say she's the best, the kindest, the gentlest, the sweetest girl in England; and that, bankrupt or no, my sisters are not fit to hold candles to her. If you like her, go and see her, Miss Swartz; she wants friends now; and
I say, God bless everybody who befriends her. Anybody who speaks kindly of her is my friend; anybody who speaks against her is my enemy. Thank you, Miss Swartz";
and he went up and wrung her hand.
"George! George!" one of the sisters cried imploringly.
"I say," George said fiercely, "I thank everybody who loves Amelia Sed-" He stopped. Old Osborne was in the room with a face livid with rage, and eyes like hot coals.
Though George had stopped in his sentence, yet, his blood being up, he was not to be cowed by all the generations of Osborne; rallying instantly, he replied to the bullying look of his father, with another so indicative of resolution and defiance that the elder man quailed in his turn, and looked away. He felt that the tussle was coming. "Mrs. Haggistoun, let me take you down to dinner,"
he said. "Give your arm to Miss Swartz, George,"
and they marched.
"Miss Swartz, I love Amelia, and we've been engaged almost all our lives," Osborne said to his partner; and during all the dinner, George rattled on with a volubility which surprised himself, and made his father doubly nervous for the fight which was to take place as soon as the ladies were gone.
The difference between the pair was, that while the father was violent and a bully, the son had thrice the nerve and courage of the parent, and could not merely make an attack, but resist it; and finding that the moment was now come when the contest between him and his father was to be decided, he took his dinner with perfect coolness and appetite before the engagement began. Old Osborne, on the contrary, was nervous, and drank much. He floundered in his conversation with the ladies, his neighbours: George's coolness only rendering him more angry. It made him half mad to see the calm way in which George, flapping his napkin, and with a swaggering bow, opened the door for the ladies to leave the room; and filling himself a glass of wine, smacked it, and looked his father full in the face, as if to say,
"Gentlemen of the Guard, fire first." The old man also took a supply of ammunition, but his decanter clinked against the glass as he tried to fill it.
After giving a great heave, and with a purple choking face, he then began. "How dare you, sir, mention that person's name before Miss Swartz to-day, in my drawing-
room? I ask you, sir, how dare you do it?"
"Stop, sir," says George, "don't say dare, sir. Dare isn't a word to be used to a Captain in the British Army."
"I shall say what I like to my son, sir. I can cut him off with a shilling if I like. I can make him a beggar if I like.
I WILL say what I like," the elder said.
"I'm a gentleman though I AM your son, sir," George answered haughtily. "Any communications which you have to make to me, or any orders which you may please to give, I beg may be couched in that kind of language which I am accustomed to hear."
Whenever the lad assumed his haughty manner, it always created either great awe or great irritation in the parent. Old Osborne stood in secret terror of his son as a better gentleman than himself; and perhaps my readers may have remarked in their experience of this Vanity Fair of ours, that there is no character which a low-minded man so much mistrusts as that of a gentleman.
"My father didn't give me the education you have had, nor the advantages you have had, nor the money you have had. If I had kept the company SOME FOLKS have had through MY MEANS, perhaps my son wouldn't have any reason to brag, sir, of his SUPERIORITY and WEST END
AIRS (these words were uttered in the elder Osborne's most sarcastic tones). But it wasn't considered the part of a gentleman, in MY time, for a man to insult his father.
If I'd done any such thing, mine would have kicked me downstairs, sir."
"I never insulted you, sir. I said I begged you to remember your son was a gentleman as well as yourself.
I know very well that you give me plenty of money,"
said George (fingering a bundle of notes which he had got in the morning from Mr. Chopper). "You tell it me often enough, sir. There's no fear of my forgetting it."
"I wish you'd remember other things as well, sir," the sire answered. "I wish you'd remember that in this house
-so long as you choose to HONOUR it with your COMPANY,
Captain-I'm the master, and that name, and that that-that you-that I say-"
"That what, sir?" George asked, with scarcely a sneer, filling another glass of claret.
"-!" burst out his father with a screaming oath-
"that the name of those Sedleys never be mentioned here, sir-not one of the whole damned lot of 'em, sir."
"It wasn't I, sir, that introduced Miss Sedley's name. It was my sisters who spoke ill of her to Miss Swartz; and by Jove I'll defend her wherever I go. Nobody shall speak lightly of that name in my presence. Our family has done her quite enough injury already, I think, and may leave off reviling her now she's down. I'll shoot any man but you who says a word against her."
"Go on, sir, go on," the old gentleman said, his eyes starting out of his head.
"Go on about what, sir? about the way in which we've treated that angel of a girl? Who told me to love her? It was your doing. I might have chosen elsewhere, and looked higher, perhaps, than your society: but I obeyed you. And now that her heart's mine you give me orders to fling it away, and punish her, kill her perhaps-for the faults of other people. It's a shame, by Heavens,"
said George, working himself up into passion and enthusiasm as he proceeded, "to play at fast and loose with a young girl's affections-and with such an angel as that
-one so superior to the people amongst whom she lived, that she might have excited envy, only she was so good and gentle, that it's a wonder anybody dared to hate her.
If I desert her, sir, do you suppose she forgets me?"
"I ain't going to have any of this dam sentimental nonsense and humbug here, sir," the father cried out. "There shall be no beggar-marriages in my family. If you choose to fling away eight thousand a year, which you may have for the asking, you may do it: but by Jove you take your pack and walk out of this house, sir. Will you do as I tell you, once for all, sir, or will you not?"
"Marry that mulatto woman?" George said, pulling up his shirt-collars. "I don't like the colour, sir. Ask the black that sweeps opposite Fleet Market, sir. I'm not going to marry a Hottentot Venus."
Mr. Osborne pulled frantically at the cord by which he was accustomed to summon the butler when he wanted wine-and almost black in the face, ordered that functionary to call a coach for Captain Osborne.
"I've done it," said George, coming into the Slaughters'
an hour afterwards, looking very pale.
"What, my boy?" says Dobbin.
George told what had passed between his father and himself.
"I'll marry her to-morrow," he said with an oath. "I
love her more every day, Dobbin."
A Marriage and Part of a Honeymoon
Enemies the most obstinate and courageous can't hold out against starvation; so the elder Osborne felt himself pretty easy about his adversary in the encounter we have just described; and as soon as George's supplies fell short, confidently expected his unconditional submission.
It was unlucky, to be sure, that the lad should have secured a stock of provisions on the very day when the first encounter took place; but this relief was only temporary, old Osborne thought, and would but delay George's surrender. No communication passed between father and son for some days. The former was sulky at this silence, but not disquieted; for, as he said, he knew where he could put the screw upon George, and only waited the result of that operation. He told the sisters the upshot of the dispute between them, but ordered them to take no notice of the matter, and welcome George on his return as if nothing had happened. His cover was laid as usual every day, and perhaps the old gentleman rather anxiously expected him; but he never came. Some one inquired at the Slaughters' regarding him, where it was said that he and his friend Captain Dobbin had left town.
One gusty, raw day at the end of April-the rain whipping the pavement of that ancient street where the old
Slaughters' Coffee-house was once situated-George Osborne came into the coffee-room, looking very haggard and pale; although dressed rather smartly in a blue coat and brass buttons, and a neat buff waistcoat of the fashion of those days. Here was his friend Captain Dobbin, in blue and brass too, having abandoned the military frock and French-grey trousers, which were the usual coverings of his lanky person.
Dobbin had been in the coffee-room for an hour or more. He had tried all the papers, but could not read them. He had looked at the clock many scores of times;
and at the street, where the rain was pattering down, and the people as they clinked by in pattens, left long reflections on the shining stone: he tattooed at the table: he bit his nails most completely, and nearly to the quick
(he was accustomed to ornament his great big hands in this way): he balanced the tea-spoon dexterously on the milk jug: upset it, &c., &c.; and in fact showed those signs of disquietude, and practised those desperate attempts at amusement, which men are accustomed to employ when very anxious, and expectant, and perturbed in mind.
Some of his comrades, gentlemen who used the room, joked him about the splendour of his costume and his agitation of manner. One asked him if he was going to be married? Dobbin laughed, and said he would send his acquaintance (Major Wagstaff of the Engineers) a piece of cake when that event took place. At length Captain Osborne made his appearance, very smartly dressed, but very pale and agitated as we have said. He wiped his pale face with a large yellow bandanna pocket-handkerchief that was prodigiously scented. He shook hands with
Dobbin, looked at the clock, and told John, the waiter, to bring him some curacao. Of this cordial he swallowed off a couple of glasses with nervous eagerness.
His friend asked with some interest about his health.
"Couldn't get a wink of sleep till daylight, Dob," said he. "Infernal headache and fever. Got up at nine, and went down to the Hummums for a bath. I say, Dob, I feel just as I did on the morning I went out with Rocket at
"So do I," William responded. "I was a deuced deal more nervous than you were that morning. You made a famous breakfast, I remember. Eat something now."
"You're a good old fellow, Will. I'll drink your health, old boy, and farewell to-"
"No, no; two glasses are enough," Dobbin interrupted him. "Here, take away the liqueurs, John. Have some cayenne-pepper with your fowl. Make haste though, for it is time we were there."
It was about half an hour from twelve when this brief meeting and colloquy took place between the two captains. A coach, into which Captain Osborne's servant put his master's desk and dressing-case, had been in waiting for some time; and into this the two gentlemen hurried under an umbrella, and the valet mounted on the box, cursing the rain and the dampness of the coachman who was steaming beside him. "We shall find a better trap than this at the church-door," says he; "that's a comfort." And the carriage drove on, taking the road down Piccadilly, where Apsley House and St. George's
Hospital wore red jackets still; where there were oil-
lamps; where Achilles was not yet born; nor the Pimlico arch raised; nor the hideous equestrian monster which pervades it and the neighbourhood; and so they drove down by Brompton to a certain chapel near the Fulham
A chariot was in waiting with four horses; likewise a coach of the kind called glass coaches. Only a very few idlers were collected on account of the dismal rain.
"Hang it!" said George, "I said only a pair."
"My master would have four," said Mr. Joseph Sedley's servant, who was in waiting; and he and Mr. Osborne's man agreed as they followed George and William into the church, that it was a "reg'lar shabby turn hout; and with scarce so much as a breakfast or a wedding faviour."
"Here you are," said our old friend, Jos Sedley, coming forward. "You're five minutes late, George, my boy.
What a day, eh? Demmy, it's like the commencement of the rainy season in Bengal. But you'll find my carriage is watertight. Come along, my mother and Emmy are in the vestry."
Jos Sedley was splendid. He was fatter than ever. His shirt collars were higher; his face was redder; his shirt-
frill flaunted gorgeously out of his variegated waistcoat.
Varnished boots were not invented as yet; but the Hessians on his beautiful legs shone so, that they must have been the identical pair in which the gentleman in the old picture used to shave himself; and on his light green coat there bloomed a fine wedding favour, like a great white spreading magnolia.
In a word, George had thrown the great cast. He was going to be married. Hence his pallor and nervousness-
his sleepless night and agitation in the morning. I have heard people who have gone through the same thing own to the same emotion. After three or four ceremonies, you get accustomed to it, no doubt; but the first dip, everybody allows, is awful.
The bride was dressed in a brown silk pelisse (as
Captain Dobbin has since informed me), and wore a straw bonnet with a pink ribbon; over the bonnet she had a veil of white Chantilly lace, a gift from Mr. Joseph Sedley, her brother. Captain Dobbin himself had asked leave to present her with a gold chain and watch, which she sported on this occasion; and her mother gave her her diamond brooch-almost the only trinket which was left to the old lady. As the service went on, Mrs. Sedley sat and whimpered a great deal in a pew, consoled by the
Irish maid-servant and Mrs. Clapp from the lodgings.
Old Sedley would not be present. Jos acted for his father, giving away the bride, whilst Captain Dobbin stepped up as groomsman to his friend George.
There was nobody in the church besides the officiating persons and the small marriage party and their attendants.
The two valets sat aloof superciliously. The rain came rattling down on the windows. In the intervals of the service you heard it, and the sobbing of old Mrs.
Sedley in the pew. The parson's tones echoed sadly through the empty walls. Osborne's "I will" was sounded in very deep bass. Emmy's response came fluttering up to her lips from her heart, but was scarcely heard by anybody except Captain Dobbin.
When the service was completed, Jos Sedley came forward and kissed his sister, the bride, for the first time for many months-George's look of gloom had gone, and he seemed quite proud and radiant. "It's your turn,
William," says he, putting his hand fondly upon Dobbin's shoulder; and Dobbin went up and touched Amelia on the cheek.
Then they went into the vestry and signed the register.
"God bless you, Old Dobbin," George said, grasping him by the hand, with something very like moisture glistening in his eyes. William replied only by nodding his head.
His heart was too full to say much.
"Write directly, and come down as soon as you can, you know," Osborne said. After Mrs. Sedley had taken an hysterical adieu of her daughter, the pair went off to the carriage. "Get out of the way, you little devils," George cried to a small crowd of damp urchins, that were hanging about the chapel-door. The rain drove into the bride and bridegroom's faces as they passed to the chariot.
The postilions' favours draggled on their dripping jackets.
The few children made a dismal cheer, as the carriage, splashing mud, drove away.
William Dobbin stood in the church-porch, looking at it, a queer figure. The small crew of spectators jeered him.
He was not thinking about them or their laughter.
"Come home and have some tiffin, Dobbin," a voice cried behind him; as a pudgy hand was laid on his shoulder, and the honest fellow's reverie was interrupted. But the Captain had no heart to go a-feasting with Jos Sedley.
He put the weeping old lady and her attendants into the carriage along with Jos, and left them without any farther words passing. This carriage, too, drove away, and the urchins gave another sarcastical cheer.
"Here, you little beggars," Dobbin said, giving some sixpences amongst them, and then went off by himself through the rain. It was all over. They were married, and happy, he prayed God. Never since he was a boy had he felt so miserable and so lonely. He longed with a heart-
sick yearning for the first few days to be over, that he might see her again.
Some ten days after the above ceremony, three young men of our acquaintance were enjoying that beautiful prospect of bow windows on the one side and blue sea on the other, which Brighton affords to the traveller.
Sometimes it is towards the ocean-smiling with countless dimples, speckled with white sails, with a hundred bathing-machines kissing the skirt of his blue garment-
that the Londoner looks enraptured: sometimes, on the contrary, a lover of human nature rather than of prospects of any kind, it is towards the bow windows that he turns, and that swarm of human life which they exhibit. From one issue the notes of a piano, which a young lady in ringlets practises six hours daily, to the delight of the fellow-lodgers: at another, lovely Polly, the nurse-
maid, may be seen dandling Master Omnium in her arms: whilst Jacob, his papa, is beheld eating prawns, and devouring the Times for breakfast, at the window below.
Yonder are the Misses Leery, who are looking out for the young officers of the Heavies, who are pretty sure to be pacing the cliff; or again it is a City man, with a nautical turn, and a telescope, the size of a six-pounder, who has his instrument pointed seawards, so as to command every pleasure-boat, herring-boat, or bathing-machine that comes to, or quits, the shore, &c., &c. But have we any leisure for a description of Brighton?-for Brighton, a clean Naples with genteel lazzaroni-for Brighton, that always looks brisk, gay, and gaudy, like a harlequin's jacket-for Brighton, which used to be seven hours distant from London at the time of our story; which is now only a hundred minutes off; and which may approach who knows how much nearer, unless Joinville comes and untimely bombards it?
"What a monstrous fine girl that is in the lodgings over the milliner's," one of these three promenaders remarked to the other; "Gad, Crawley, did you see what a wink she gave me as I passed?"
"Don't break her heart, Jos, you rascal," said another.
"Don't trifle with her affections, you Don Juan!"
"Get away," said Jos Sedley, quite pleased, and leering up at the maid-servant in question with a most killing ogle. Jos was even more splendid at Brighton than he had been at his sister's marriage. He had brilliant under-waistcoats, any one of which would have set up a moderate buck.
He sported a military frock-coat, ornamented with frogs, knobs, black buttons, and meandering embroidery.
He had affected a military appearance and habits of late;
and he walked with his two friends, who were of that profession, clinking his boot-spurs, swaggering prodigiously, and shooting death-glances at all the servant girls who were worthy to be slain.
"What shall we do, boys, till the ladies return?" the buck asked. The ladies were out to Rottingdean in his carriage on a drive.
"Let's have a game at billiards," one of his friends said-the tall one, with lacquered mustachios.
"No, dammy; no, Captain," Jos replied, rather alarmed. "No billiards to-day, Crawley, my boy;
yesterday was enough."
"You play very well," said Crawley, laughing. "Don't he, Osborne? How well he made that-five stroke, eh?"
"Famous," Osborne said. "Jos is a devil of a fellow at billiards, and at everything else, too. I wish there were any tiger-hunting about here! we might go and kill a few before dinner. (There goes a fine girl! what an ankle, eh,
Jos?) Tell us that story about the tiger-hunt, and the way you did for him in the jungle-it's a wonderful story that, Crawley." Here George Osborne gave a yawn. "It's rather slow work," said he, "down here; what shall we do?"
"Shall we go and look at some horses that Snaffler's just brought from Lewes fair?" Crawley said.
"Suppose we go and have some jellies at Dutton's,"
and the rogue Jos, willing to kill two birds with one stone. "Devilish fine gal at Dutton's."
"Suppose we go and see the Lightning come in, it's just about time?" George said. This advice prevailing over the stables and the jelly, they turned towards the coach-office to witness the Lightning's arrival.
As they passed, they met the carriage-Jos Sedley's open carriage, with its magnificent armorial bearings-
that splendid conveyance in which he used to drive, about at Cheltonham, majestic and solitary, with his arms folded, and his hat cocked; or, more happy, with ladies by his side.
Two were in the carriage now: one a little person, with light hair, and dressed in the height of the fashion; the other in a brown silk pelisse, and a straw bonnet with pink ribbons, with a rosy, round, happy face, that did you good to behold. She checked the carriage as it neared the three gentlemen, after which exercise of authority she looked rather nervous, and then began to blush most absurdly. "We have had a delightful drive,
George," she said, "and-and we're so glad to come back;
and, Joseph, don't let him be late."
"Don't be leading our husbands into mischief, Mr.
Sedley, you wicked, wicked man you," Rebecca said, shaking at Jos a pretty little finger covered with the neatest French kid glove. "No billiards, no smoking, no naughtiness!"
"My dear Mrs. Crawley-Ah now! upon my honour!"
was all Jos could ejaculate by way of reply; but he managed to fall into a tolerable attitude, with his head lying on his shoulder, grinning upwards at his victim, with one hand at his back, which he supported on his cane, and the other hand (the one with the diamond ring) fumbling in his shirt-frill and among his under-waistcoats. As the carriage drove off he kissed the diamond hand to the fair ladies within. He wished all Cheltenham, all Chowringhee, all Calcutta, could see him in that position, waving his hand to such a beauty, and in company with such a famous buck as Rawdon Crawley of the Guards.
Our young bride and bridegroom had chosen Brighton as the place where they would pass the first few days after their marriage; and having engaged apartments at the
Ship Inn, enjoyed themselves there in great comfort and quietude, until Jos presently joined them. Nor was he the only companion they found there. As they were coming into the hotel from a sea-side walk one afternoon, on whom should they light but Rebecca and her husband. The recognition was immediate. Rebecca flew into the arms of her dearest friend. Crawley and Osborne shook hands together cordially enough: and Becky, in the course of a very few hours, found means to make the latter forget that little unpleasant passage of words which had happened between them. "Do you remember the last time we met at Miss Crawley's, when I was so rude to you, dear Captain Osborne? I thought you seemed careless about dear Amelia. It was that made me angry: and so pert: and so unkind: and so ungrateful. Do forgive me!" Rebecca said, and she held out her hand with so frank and winning a grace, that Osborne could not but take it. By humbly and frankly acknowledging yourself to be in the wrong, there is no knowing, my son, what good you may do. I knew once a gentleman and very worthy practitioner in Vanity Fair, who used to do little wrongs to his neighbours on purpose, and in order to apologise for them in an open and manly way afterwards-and what ensued? My friend Crocky Doyle was liked everywhere, and deemed to be rather impetuous-but the honestest fellow. Becky's humility passed for sincerity with
These two young couples had plenty of tales to relate to each other. The marriages of either were discussed;
and their prospects in life canvassed with the greatest frankness and interest on both sides. George's marriage was to be made known to his father by his friend
Captain Dobbin; and young Osborne trembled rather for the result of that communication. Miss Crawley, on whom all Rawdon's hopes depended, still held out. Unable to make an entry into her house in Park Lane, her affectionate nephew and niece had followed her to
Brighton, where they had emissaries continually planted at her door.
"I wish you could see some of Rawdon's friends who are always about our door," Rebecca said, laughing. "Did you ever see a dun, my dear; or a bailiff and his man?
Two of the abominable wretches watched all last week at the greengrocer's opposite, and we could not get away until Sunday. If Aunty does not relent, what shall we do?"
Rawdon, with roars of laughter, related a dozen amusing anecdotes of his duns, and Rebecca's adroit treatment of them. He vowed with a great oath that there was no woman in Europe who could talk a creditor over as she could. Almost immediately after their marriage, her practice had begun, and her husband found the immense value of such a wife. They had credit in plenty, but they had bills also in abundance, and laboured under a scarcity of ready money. Did these debt-difficulties affect Rawdon's good spirits? No. Everybody in Vanity Fair must have remarked how well those live who are comfortably and thoroughly in debt: how they deny themselves nothing;
how jolly and easy they are in their minds. Rawdon and his wife had the very best apartments at the inn at
Brighton; the landlord, as he brought in the first dish, bowed before them as to his greatest customers: and
Rawdon abused the dinners and wine with an audacity which no grandee in the land could surpass. Long custom, a manly appearance, faultless boots and clothes, and a happy fierceness of manner, will often help a man as much as a great balance at the banker's.
The two wedding parties met constantly in each other's apartments. After two or three nights the gentlemen of an evening had a little piquet, as their wives sate and chatted apart. This pastime, and the arrival of Jos Sedley, who made his appearance in his grand open carriage, and who played a few games at billiards with Captain Crawley, replenished Rawdon's purse somewhat, and gave him the benefit of that ready money for which the greatest spirits are sometimes at a stand-still.
So the three gentlemen walked down to see the Lightning coach come in. Punctual to the minute, the coach crowded inside and out, the guard blowing his accustomed tune on the horn-the Lightning came tearing down the street, and pulled up at the coach-office.
"Hullo! there's old Dobbin," George cried, quite delighted to see his old friend perched on the roof; and whose promised visit to Brighton had been delayed until now. "How are you, old fellow? Glad you're come down.
Emmy'll be delighted to see you," Osborne said, shaking his comrade warmly by the hand as soon as his descent from the vehicle was effected-and then he added, in a lower and agitated voice, "What's the news? Have you been in Russell Square? What does the governor say?
Tell me everything."
Dobbin looked very pale and grave. "I've seen your father," said he. "How's Amelia-Mrs. George? I'll tell you all the news presently: but I've brought the great news of all: and that is-"
"Out with it, old fellow," George said.
"We're ordered to Belgium. All the army goes-guards and all. Heavytop's got the gout, and is mad at not being able to move. O'Dowd goes in command, and we embark from Chatham next week." This news of war could not but come with a shock upon our lovers, and caused all these gentlemen to look very serious.
Captain Dobbin Proceeds on His Canvass
WHAT is the secret mesmerism which friendship possesses, and under the operation of which a person ordinarily sluggish, or cold, or timid, becomes wise, active, and resolute, in another's behalf? As Alexis, after a few passes from Dr. Elliotson, despises pain, reads with the back of his head, sees miles off, looks into next week, and performs other wonders, of which, in his own private normal condition, he is quite incapable; so you see, in the affairs of the world and under the magnetism of friendships, the modest man becomes bold, the shy confident, the lazy active, or the impetuous prudent and peaceful. What is it, on the other hand, that makes the lawyer eschew his own cause, and call in his learned brother as an adviser? And what causes the doctor, when ailing, to send for his rival, and not sit down and examine his own tongue in the chimney Bass, or write his own prescription at his study-table? I throw out these queries for intelligent readers to answer, who know, at once, how credulous we are, and how sceptical, how soft and how obstinate, how firm for others and how diffident about ourselves: meanwhile, it is certain that our friend William Dobbin, who was personally of so complying a disposition that if his parents had pressed him much, it is probable he would have stepped down into the kitchen and married the cook, and who, to further his own interests, would have found the most insuperable difficulty in walking across the street, found himself as busy and eager in the conduct of George Osborne's affairs, as the most selfish tactician could be in the pursuit of his own.
Whilst our friend George and his young wife were enjoying the first blushing days of the honeymoon at
Brighton, honest William was left as George's plenipotentiary in London, to transact all the business part of the marriage.
His duty it was to call upon old Sedley and his wife, and to keep the former in good humour: to draw Jos and his brother-in-law nearer together, so that Jos's position and dignity, as collector of Boggley Wollah, might compensate for his father's loss of station, and tend to reconcile old Osborne to the alliance: and finally, to communicate it to the latter in such a way as should least irritate the old gentleman.
Now, before he faced the head of the Osborne house with the news which it was his duty to tell, Dobbin bethought him that it would be politic to make friends of the rest of the family, and, if possible, have the ladies on his side. They can't be angry in their hearts, thought he. No woman ever was really angry at a romantic marriage. A
little crying out, and they must come round to their brother; when the three of us will lay siege to old Mr.
Osborne. So this Machiavellian captain of infantry cast about him for some happy means or stratagem by which he could gently and gradually bring the Misses Osborne to a knowledge of their brother's secret.
By a little inquiry regarding his mother's engagements, he was pretty soon able to find out by whom of her ladyship's friends parties were given at that season; where he would be likely to meet Osborne's sisters; and, though he had that abhorrence of routs and evening parties which many sensible men, alas! entertain, he soon found one where the Misses Osborne were to be present.
Making his appearance at the ball, where he danced a couple of sets with both of them, and was prodigiously polite, he actually had the courage to ask Miss Osborne for a few minutes' conversation at an early hour the next day, when he had, he said, to communicate to her news of the very greatest interest.
What was it that made her start back, and gaze upon him for a moment, and then on the ground at her feet, and make as if she would faint on his arm, had he not by opportunely treading on her toes, brought the young lady back to self-control? Why was she so violently agitated at Dobbin's request? This can never be known. But when he came the next day, Maria was not in the drawing-room with her sister, and Miss Wirt went off for the purpose of fetching the latter, and the Captain and Miss Osborne were left together. They were both so silent that the ticktock of the Sacrifice of Iphigenia clock on the mantelpiece became quite rudely audible.
"What a nice party it was last night," Miss Osborne at length began, encouragingly; "and-and how you're improved in your dancing, Captain Dobbin. Surely somebody has taught you," she added, with amiable archness.
"You should see me dance a reel with Mrs. Major
O'Dowd of ours; and a jig-did you ever see a jig? But
I think anybody could dance with you, Miss Osborne, who dance so well."
"Is the Major's lady young and beautiful, Captain?" the fair questioner continued. "Ah, what a terrible thing it must be to be a soldier's wife! I wonder they have any spirits to dance, and in these dreadful times of war, too!
O Captain Dobbin, I tremble sometimes when I think of our dearest George, and the dangers of the poor soldier.
Are there many married officers of the -th, Captain
"Upon my word, she's playing her hand rather too openly," Miss Wirt thought; but this observation is merely parenthetic, and was not heard through the crevice of the door at which the governess uttered it.
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