Without slackening her pace, Rebecca the mare galloped on to
Baymouth, where Pen put her up at the inn stables, and ran
straightway to Mr. Foker's lodgings, which he knew from the
direction given to him by that gentleman on the previous day. On
reaching these apartments, which were over a chemist's shop whose
stock of cigars and sodawater went off rapidly by the kind
patronage of his young inmates, Pen only found Mr. Spavin, Foker's
friend, and part owner of the tandem which the latter had driven
into Chatteris, who was smoking, and teaching a little dog, a
friend of his, tricks with a bit of biscuit.
Pen's healthy red face, fresh from the gallop, compared oddly
with the waxy debauched little features of Foker's chum; the latter
remarked it. "Who's that man?" he thought, "he looks as fresh as a
bean. His hand don't shake of a morning, I'd bet five to one."
Foker had not come home at all. Here was a disappointment!—Mr.
Spavin could not say when his friend would return. Sometimes he
stopped a day, sometimes a week. Of what college was Pen? Would he
have anything? There was a very fair tap of ale. Mr. Spavin was
enabled to know Pendennis's name, on the card which the latter took
out and laid down (perhaps Pen in these days was rather proud of
having a card)—and so the young men took leave.
Then Pen went down the rock, and walked about on the sand,
biting his nails by the shore of the much-sounding sea. It
stretched before him bright and immeasurable. The blue waters came
rolling into the bay, foaming and roaring hoarsely: Pen looked them
in the face with blank eyes, hardly regarding them. What a tide
there was pouring into the lad's own mind at the time, and what a
little power had he to check it! Pen flung stones into the sea, but
it still kept coming on. He was in a rage at not seeing Foker. He
wanted to see Foker. He must see Foker. "Suppose I go on—on the
Chatteris road, just to see if I can meet him," Pen thought.
Rebecca was saddled in another half hour, and galloping on the
grass by the Chatteris road. About four miles from Baymouth, the
Clavering road branches off, as everybody knows, and the mare
naturally was for taking that turn, but, cutting her over the
shoulder, Pen passed the turning, and rode on to the turnpike
without seeing any sign of the black tandem and red wheels.
As he was at the turnpike he might as well go on: that was quite
clear. So Pen rode to the George, and the hostler told him that Mr.
Foker was there sure enough, and that "he'd been a makin a
tremendous row the night afore, a drinkin and a singin, and wanting
to fight Tom the postboy: which I'm thinking he'd have had the
worst of it," the man added, with a grin. "Have you carried up your
master's 'ot water to shave with?" he added, in a very satirical
manner, to Mr. Foker's domestic, who here came down the yard
bearing his master's clothes, most beautifully brushed and
arranged. "Show Mr. Pendennis up to 'un," and Pen followed the man
at last to the apartment, where, in the midst of an immense bed,
Mr. Harry Foker lay reposing.
The feather bed and bolsters swelled up all round Mr. Foker, so
that you could hardly see his little sallow face and red silk
"Hullo!" said Pen.
"Who goes there? brother, quickly tell!" sang out the voice from
the bed. "What! Pendennis again? Is your Mamma acquainted with your
absence? Did you sup with us last night? No stop—who supped with us
last night, Stoopid?"
"There was the three officers, sir, and Mr. Bingley, sir, and
Mr. Costigan, sir," the man answered, who received all Mr. Foker's
remarks with perfect gravity.
"Ah yes: the cup and merry jest went round. We chanted and I
remember I wanted to fight a postboy. Did I thrash him,
"No, sir. Fight didn't come off, sir," said Stoopid, still with
perfect gravity. He was arranging Mr. Foker's dressing-case—a
trunk, the gift of a fond mother, without which the young fellow
never travelled. It contained a prodigious apparatus in plate; a
silver dish, a silver mug, silver boxes and bottles for all sorts
of essences, and a choice of razors ready against the time when Mr.
Foker's beard should come.
"Do it some other day," said the young fellow, yawning and
throwing up his little lean arms over his head. "No, there was no
fight; but there was chanting. Bingley chanted, I chanted, the
General chanted—Costigan I mean.—Did you ever hear him sing 'The
Little Pig under the Bed,' Pen?"
"The man we met yesterday," said Pen, all in a tremor, "the
"Of the Fotheringay,—the very man. Ain't she a Venus, Pen?"
"Please sir, Mr. Costigan's in the sittin-room, sir, and says,
sir, you asked him to breakfast, sir. Called five times, sir; but
wouldn't wake you on no account; and has been here since eleven
"How much is it now?"
"What would the best of mothers say," cried the little sluggard,
"if she saw me in bed at this hour? She sent me down here with a
grinder. She wants me to cultivate my neglected genus—He, be! I
say, Pen, this isn't quite like seven o'clock school,—is it, old
boy?"—and the young fellow burst out into a boyish laugh of
enjoyment. Then he added—"Go in and talk to the General whilst I
dress. And I say, Pendennis, ask him to sing you 'The Little Pig
under the Bed;' it's capital." Pen went off in great perturbation,
to meet Mr. Costigan, and Mr. Foker commenced his toilet.
Of Mr. Foker's two grandfathers, the one from whom he inherited
a fortune was a brewer; the other was an earl, who endowed him with
the most doting mother in the world. The Fokers had been at the
Cistercian school from father to son; at which place, our friend,
whose name could be seen over the playground wall, on a
public-house sign, under which 'Foker's Entire' was painted, had
been dreadfully bullied on account of his trade, his uncomely
countenance, his inaptitude for learning and cleanliness, his
gluttony and other weak points. But those who know how a
susceptible youth, under the tyranny of his schoolfellows, becomes
silent and a sneak, may understand how in a very few months after
his liberation from bondage, he developed himself as he had done;
and became the humorous, the sarcastic, the brilliant Foker, with
whom we have made acquaintance. A dunce he always was, it is true;
for learning cannot be acquired by leaving school and entering at
college as a fellow-commoner; but he was now (in his own peculiar
manner) as great a dandy as he before had been a slattern, and when
he entered his sitting-room to join his two guests, arrived scented
and arrayed in fine linen, and perfectly splendid in
General or Captain Costigan—for the latter was the rank which he
preferred to assume—was seated in the window with the newspaper
held before him at arm's length. The Captain's eyes were somewhat
dim; and he was spelling the paper, with the help of his lips, as
well as of those bloodshot eyes of his, as you see gentlemen do to
whom reading is a rare and difficult occupation. His hat was cocked
very much on one ear; and as one of his feet lay up in the
window-seat, the observer of such matters might remark, by the size
and shabbiness of the boots which the Captain wore, that times did
not go very well with him. Poverty seems as if it were disposed,
before it takes possession of a man entirely, to attack his
extremities first: the coverings of his head, feet, and hands are
its first prey. All these parts of the Captain's person were
particularly rakish and shabby. As soon as he saw Pen he descended
from the window-seat and saluted the new-comer, first in a military
manner, by conveying a couple of his fingers (covered with a broken
black glove) to his hat, and then removing that ornament
altogether. The Captain was inclined to be bald, but he brought a
quantity of lank iron-grey hair over his pate, and had a couple of
whisps of the same falling down on each side of his face. Much
whisky had spoiled what complexion Mr. Costigan may have possessed
in his youth. His once handsome face had now a copper tinge. He
wore a very high stock, scarred and stained in many places; and a
dress-coat tightly buttoned up in those parts where the buttons had
not parted company from the garment.
"The young gentleman to whom I had the honour to be introjuiced
yesterday in the Cathadral Yard," said the Captain, with a splendid
bow and wave of his hat. "I hope I see you well, sir. I marked ye
in the thayatre last night during me daughter's perfawrumance; and
missed ye on my return. I did but conduct her home, sir, for Jack
Costigan, though poor, is a gentleman; and when I reintered the
house to pay me respects to me joyous young friend, Mr. Foker—ye
were gone. We had a jolly night of ut, sir— Mr. Foker, the three
gallant young dragoons, and your 'umble servant. Gad, sir, it put
me in mind of one of our old nights when I bore His Majesty's
commission in the Foighting Hundtherd and Third." And he pulled out
an old snuff box, which he presented with a stately air to his new
Arthur was a great deal too much flurried to speak. This
shabby-looking buck was—was her father. The Captain was perfumed
with the recollections of the last night's cigars, and pulled and
twisted the tuft on his chin as jauntily as any young dandy.
"I hope, Miss F—, Miss Costigan is well, sir," Pen said,
flushing up. "She—she gave me greater pleasure, than—than I—I—I
ever enjoyed at a play. I think, sir—I think she's the finest
actress in the world," he gasped out.
"Your hand, young man! for ye speak from your heart," cried the
Captain. "Thank ye, sir, an old soldier and a fond father thanks
ye. She is the finest actress in the world. I've seen the Siddons,
sir, and the O'Nale— they were great, but what were they compared
to Miss Fotheringay? I do not wish she should ashume her own name
while on the stage. Me family, sir, are proud people; and the
Costigans of Costiganstown think that an honest man, who has borne
Her Majesty's colours in the Hundred and Third, would demean
himself, by permitting his daughter to earn her old father's
"There cannot be a more honourable duty, surely," Pen said.
"Honourable! Bedad, sir, I'd like to see the man who said Jack
Costigan would consent to anything dishonourable. I have a heart,
sir, though I am poor; I like a man who has a heart. You have: I
read it in your honest face and steady eye. And would you believe
it"? he added, after a pause, and with a pathetic whisper, "that
that Bingley who has made his fortune by me child, gives her but
two guineas a week: out of which she finds herself in dresses, and
which, added to me own small means, makes our all?"
Now the Captain's means were so small as to be, it may be said,
quite invisible. But nobody knows how the wind is tempered to shorn
Irish lambs, and in what marvellous places they find pasture. If
Captain Costigan, whom I had the honour to know, would but have
told his history, it would have been a great moral story. But he
neither would have told it if he could, nor could if he would; for
the Captain was not only unaccustomed to tell the truth,—he was
unable even to think it—and fact and fiction reeled together in his
muzzy, whiskified brain.
He began life rather brilliantly with a pair of colours, a fine
person and legs, and one of the most beautiful voices in the world.
To his latest day he sang with admirable pathos and humour those
wonderful Irish ballads which are so mirthful and so melancholy:
and was always the first himself to cry at their pathos. Poor Cos!
he was at once brave and maudlin, humorous and an idiot; always
good-natured, and sometimes almost trustworthy. Up to the last day
of his life he would drink with any man, and back any man's bill:
and his end was in a spunging-house, where the sheriff's officer,
who took him, was fond of him.
In his brief morning of life, Cos formed the delight of
regimental messes, and had the honour of singing his songs,
bacchanalian and sentimental, at the tables of the most illustrious
generals and commanders-in-chief, in the course of which period he
drank three times as much claret as was good for him, and spent his
doubtful patrimony. What became of him subsequently to his
retirement from the army, is no affair of ours. I take it, no
foreigner understands the life of an Irish gentleman without money,
the way in which he manages to keep afloat—the wind-raising
conspiracies, in which he engages with heroes as unfortunate as
himself—the means by which he contrives, during most days of the
week, to get his portion of whisky-and-water: all these are
mysteries to us inconceivable: but suffice it to say, that through
all the storms of life Jack had floated somehow, and the lamp of
his nose had never gone out.
Before he and Pen had had a half-hour's conversation, the
Captain managed to extract a couple of sovereigns from the young
gentleman for tickets for his daughter's benefit, which was to take
place speedily; and was not a bona fide transaction such as that of
the last year, when poor Miss Fotheringay had lost fifteen
shillings by her venture; but was an arrangement with the manager,
by which the lady was to have the sale of a certain number of
tickets, keeping for herself a large portion of the sum for which
they were sold.
Pen had but two pounds in his purse, and he handed them over to
the Captain for the tickets; he would have been afraid to offer
more lest he should offend the latter's delicacy. Costigan scrawled
him an order for a box, lightly slipped the sovereigns into his
waistcoat, and slapped his hand over the place where they lay. They
seemed to warm his old sides.
"Faith, sir," said he, "the bullion's scarcer with me than it
used to be, as is the case with many a good fellow. I won six
hundthred of 'em in a single night, sir, when me kind friend, His
Royal Highness the Duke of Kent, was in Gibralther." And he
straightway poured out to Pen a series of stories regarding the
claret drunk, the bets made, the races ridden by the garrison
there, with which he kept the young gentleman amused until the
arrival of their host and his breakfast.
Then it was good to see the Captain's behaviour before the
devilled turkey and the mutton chops! His stories poured forth
unceasingly, and his spirits rose as he chatted to the young men.
When he got a bit of sunshine, the old lazzarone basked in it; he
prated about his own affairs and past splendour, and all the lords,
generals, and Lord-Lieutenants he had ever known. He described the
death of his darling Bessie, the late Mrs. Costigan, and the
challenge he had sent to Captain Shanty Clancy, of the Slashers,
for looking rude at Miss Fotheringay as she was on her kyar in the
Phaynix; and then he described how the Captain apologised, gave a
dinner at the Kildare Street, where six of them drank twinty-one
bottles of claret, etc. He announced that to sit with two such
noble and generous young fellows was the happiness and pride of an
old soldier's existence; and having had a second glass of Curacoa,
was so happy that he began to cry. Altogether we should say that
the Captain was not a man of much strength of mind, or a very
eligible companion for youth; but there are worse men, holding much
better places in life, and more dishonest, who have never committed
half so many rogueries as he. They walked out, the Captain holding
an arm of each of his dear young friends, and in a maudlin state of
contentment. He winked at one or two tradesmen's shops where,
possibly, he owed a bill, as much as to say, "See the company I'm
in—sure I'll pay you, my boy,"—and they parted finally with Mr.
Foker at a billiard-room, where the latter had a particular
engagement with some gentlemen of Colonel Swallowtail's
Pen and the shabby Captain still walked the street together; the
Captain, in his sly way, making inquiries about Mr. Foker's fortune
and station in life. Pen told him how Foker's father was a
celebrated brewer, and his mother was Lady Agnes Milton, Lord
Rosherville's daughter. The Captain broke out into a strain of
exaggerated compliment and panegyric about Mr. Foker, whose "native
aristocracie," he said, "could be seen with the twinkling of an
oi—and only served to adawrun other qualities which he possessed, a
foin intellect and a generous heart,"—in not one word of which
speech did the Captain accurately believe.
Pen walked on, listening to his companion's prate, wondering,
amused, and puzzled. It had not as yet entered into the boy's head
to disbelieve any statement that was made to him; and being of a
candid nature himself, he took naturally for truth what other
people told him. Costigan had never had a better listener, and was
highly flattered by the attentiveness and modest bearing of the
So much pleased was he with the young gentleman, so artless,
honest, and cheerful did Pen seem to be, that the Captain finally
made him an invitation, which he very seldom accorded to young men,
and asked Pen if he would do him the fever to enter his humble
abode, which was near at hand, where the Captain would have the
honour of inthrojuicing his young friend to his daughther, Miss
Pen was so delightfully shocked at this invitation, and was so
stricken down by the happiness thus suddenly offered to him, that
he thought he should have dropped from the Captain's arm at first,
and trembled lest the other should discover his emotion. He gasped
out a few incoherent words, indicative of the high gratification he
should have in being presented to the lady for whose—for whose
talents he had conceived such an admiration—such an extreme
admiration; and followed the Captain, scarcely knowing whither that
gentleman led him. He was going to see her! He was going to see
her! In her was the centre of the universe. She was the kernel of
the world for Pen. Yesterday, before he knew her, seemed a period
ever so long ago—a revolution was between him and that time, and a
new world about to begin.
The Captain conducted his young friend to that quiet little
street in Chatteris, which is called Prior's Lane, which lies in
the ecclesiastical quarter of the town, close by Dean's Green and
the canons' houses, and is overlooked by the enormous towers of the
cathedral; there the Captain dwelt modestly in the first floor of a
low gabled house, on the door of which was the brass plate of
'Creed, Tailor and Robe-maker.' Creed was dead, however. His widow
was a pew-opener in the cathedral hard by; his eldest son was a
little scamp of a choir-boy, who played toss-halfpenny, led his
little brothers into mischief, and had a voice as sweet as an
angel. A couple of the latter were sitting on the door-step, down
which you went into the passage of the house; and they jumped up
with great alacrity to meet their lodger, and plunged wildly, and
rather to Pen's surprise, at the swallow-tails of the Captain's
dress-coat; for the truth is, that the good-natured gentleman, when
he was in cash, generally brought home an apple or a piece of
gingerbread for these children. "Whereby the widdy never pressed me
for rint when not convanient," as he remarked afterwards to Pen,
winking knowingly, and laying a finger on his nose.
Pen tumbled down the step, and as he followed his companion up
the creaking old stair, his knees trembled under him. He could
hardly see when he entered, following the Captain, and stood in the
room—in her room. He saw something black before him, and waving as
if making a curtsey, and heard, but quite indistinctly, Costigan
making a speech over him, in which the Captain, with his usual
magniloquence, expressed to "me child" his wish to make her known
to "his dear and admirable young friend, Mr. Awther Pindinnis, a
young gentleman of property in the neighbourhood, a person of
refoined moind, and enviable manners, a sincare lover of poethry,
and a man possest of a feeling and affectionate heart."
"It is very fine weather," Miss Fotheringay said, in an Irish
accent, and with a deep rich melancholy voice.
"Very," said Mr. Pendennis. In this romantic way their
conversation began; and he found himself seated on a chair, and
having leisure to look at the young lady.
She looked still handsomer off the stage, than before the lamps.
All her attitudes were naturally grand and majestical. If she went
and stood up against the mantelpiece her robe draped itself
classically round her; her chin supported itself on her hand, the
other lines of her form arranged themselves in full harmonious
undulations—she looked like a Muse in contemplation. If she sate
down on a cane-bottomed chair, her arm rounded itself over the back
of the seat, her hand seemed as if it ought to have a sceptre put
into it, the folds of her dress fell naturally round her in order,
like ladies of honour round a throne, and she looked like an
empress. All her movements were graceful and imperial. In the
morning you could see her hair was blue-black, her complexion of
dazzling fairness, with the faintest possible blush flickering, as
it were, in her cheek. Her eyes were grey, with prodigious long
lashes; and as for her mouth, Mr. Pendennis has given me
subsequently to understand, that it was of a staring red colour,
with which the most brilliant geranium, sealing-wax, or Guardsman's
coat, could not vie.
"And very warm," continued this empress and Queen of Sheba.
Mr. Pen again assented, and the conversation rolled on in this
manner. She asked Costigan whether he had had a pleasant evening at
the George, and he recounted the supper and the tumblers of punch.
Then the father asked her how she had been employing the
"Bows came," said she, "at ten, and we studied Ophalia. It's for
the twenty-fourth, when I hope, sir, we shall have the honour of
"Indeed, indeed, you will," Mr. Pendennis cried; wondering that
she should say 'Ophalia,' and speak with an Irish inflection of
voice naturally, who had not the least Hibernian accent on the
"I've secured 'um for your benefit, dear," said the Captain,
tapping his waistcoat pocket, wherein lay Pen's sovereigns, and
winking at Pen, with one eye, at which the boy blushed.
"Mr—the gentleman's very obleging," said Mrs. Haller.
"My name is Pendennis," said Pen, blushing. "I—I—hope
you'll—you'll remember it." His heart thumped so as he made this
audacious declaration, that he almost choked in uttering it.
"Pendennis"—she answered slowly, and looking him full in the
eyes, with a glance, so straight, so clear, so bright, so killing,
with a voice so sweet, so round, so low, that the word and the
glance shot Pen through and through, and perfectly transfixed him
"I never knew the name was so pretty before," Pen said.
"'Tis a very pretty name," Ophelia said. "Pentweazle's not a
pretty name. Remember, papa, when we were on the Norwich Circuit,
Young Pentweazle, who used to play second old men, and married Miss
Rancy, the Columbine; they're both engaged in London now, at the
Queen's, and get five pounds a week. Pentweazle wasn't his real
name. 'Twas Judkin gave it him, I don't know why. His name was
Harrington; that is, his real name was Potts; fawther a clergyman,
very respectable. Harrington was in London, and got in debt. Ye
remember; he came out in Falkland, to Mrs. Bunce's Julia."
"And a pretty Julia she was," the Captain interposed; "a woman
of fifty, and a mother of ten children. 'Tis you ought to have been
Julia, or my name's not Jack Costigan."
"I didn't take the leading business then," Miss Fotheringay said
modestly; "I wasn't fit for't till Bows taught me."
"True for you, my dear," said the Captain: and bending to
Pendennis, he added, "Rejuiced in circumstances, sir, I was for
some time a fencing-master in Dublin (there's only three men in the
empire could touch me with the foil once, but Jack Costigan's
getting old and stiff now, sir), and my daughter had an engagement
at the thayater there; and 'twas there that my friend, Mr. Bows,
who saw her capabilities, and is an uncommon 'cute man, gave her
lessons in the dramatic art, and made her what ye see. What have ye
done since Bows went, Emily?"
"Sure, I've made a pie," Emily said, with perfect simplicity.
She pronounced it "Poy."
"If ye'll try it at four o'clock, sir, say the word," said
Costigan gallantly. "That girl, sir, makes the best veal and ham
pie in England, and I think I can promise ye a glass of punch of
the right flavour."
Pen had promised to be at home to dinner at six o'clock, but the
rascal thought he could accommodate pleasure and duty in this
point, and was only too eager to accept this invitation. He looked
on with delight and wonder whilst Ophelia busied herself about the
room, and prepared for the dinner. She arranged the glasses, and
laid and smoothed the little cloth, all which duties she performed
with a quiet grace and good humour, which enchanted her guest more
and more. The "poy" arrived from the baker's in the hands of one of
the little choir-boy's brothers at the proper hour: and at four
o'clock Pen found himself at dinner—actually at dinner with the
greatest tragic actress in the world, and her father—with the
handsomest woman in all creation—with his first and only love, whom
he had adored ever since when?—ever since yesterday, ever since for
ever. He ate a crust of her making, he poured her out a glass of
beer, he saw her drink a glass of punch—just one wine-glass
full—out of the tumbler which she mixed for her papa. She was
perfectly good-natured, and offered to mix one for Pendennis too.
It was prodigiously strong; Pen had never in his life drunk so much
spirits and water. Was it the punch, or the punch-maker who
During dinner, when the Captain, whom his daughter treated most
respectfully, ceased prattling about himself and his adventures,
Pen tried to engage the Fotheringay in conversation about poetry
and about her profession. He asked her what she thought of
Ophelia's madness, and whether she was in love with Hamlet or not?
"In love with such a little ojous wretch as that stunted manager of
a Bingley?" She bristled with indignation at the thought. Pen
explained it was not of her he spoke, but of Ophelia of the play.
"Oh, indeed; if no offence was meant, none was taken: but as for
Bingley, indeed, she did not value him—not that glass of punch."
Pen next tried her on Kotzebue. "Kotzebue? who was he?"—"The author
of the play in which she had been performing so admirably." "She
did not know that—the man's name at the beginning of the book was
Thompson," she said. Pen laughed at her adorable simplicity. He
told her of the melancholy fate of the author of the play, and how
Sand had killed him. It was for the first time in her life that
Miss Costigan had ever heard of Mr. Kotzebue's existence, but she
looked as if she was very much interested, and her sympathy
sufficed for honest Pen.
And in the midst of this simple conversation, the hour and a
quarter which poor Pen could afford to allow himself, passed away
only too quickly; and he had taken leave, he was gone, and away on
his rapid road homewards on the back of Rebecca. She was called
upon to show her mettle in the three journeys which she made that
"What was that he was talking about, the madness of Hamlet, and
the theory of the great German critic on the subject?" Emily asked
of her father.
"'Deed then I don't know, Milly dear," answered the Captain.
"We'll ask Bows when he comes."
"Anyhow, he's a nice, fair-spoken pretty young man," the lady
said: "how many tickets did he take of you?"
"Faith, then, he took six, and gev me two guineas, Milly," the
Captain said. "I suppose them young chaps is not too flush of
"He's full of book-learning," Miss Fotheringay continued.
"Kotzebue! He, he, what a droll name indeed, now; and the poor
fellow killed by Sand, too! Did ye ever hear such a thing? I'll ask
Bows about it, papa, dear."
"A queer death, sure enough," ejaculated the Captain, and
changed the painful theme. "'Tis an elegant mare the young
gentleman rides," Costigan went on to say; "and a grand breakfast,
intirely, that young Mister Foker gave us."
"He's good for two private boxes, and at leest twenty tickets, I
should say," cried the daughter, a prudent lass, who always kept
her fine eyes on the main chance.
"I'll go bail of that," answered the papa, and so their
conversation continued awhile, until the tumbler of punch was
finished; and their hour of departure soon came, too; for at
half-past six Miss Fotheringay was to appear at the theatre again,
whither her father always accompanied her; and stood, as we have
seen, in the side-scene watching her, and drank spirits-and-water
in the green-room with the company there.
"How beautiful she is," thought Pen, cantering homewards. "How
simple and how tender! How charming it is to see a woman of her
commanding genius busying herself with the delightful, though
humble, offices of domestic life, cooking dishes to make her old
father comfortable, and brewing drink for him with her delicate
fingers! How rude it was of me to begin to talk about professional
matters, and how well she turned the conversation! By the way, she
talked about professional matters herself; but then with what fun
and humour she told the story of her comrade, Pentweazle, as he was
called! There is no humour like Irish humour. Her father is rather
tedious, but thoroughly amiable; and how fine of him, giving
lessons in fencing after he quitted the army, where he was the pet
of the Duke of Kent! Fencing! I should like to continue my fencing,
or I shall forget what Angelo taught me. Uncle Arthur always liked
me to fence —he says it is the exercise of a gentleman. Hang it.
I'll take some lessons of Captain Costigan. Go along, Rebecca—up
the hill, old lady. Pendennis, Pendennis—how she spoke the word!
Emily, Emily! how good, how noble, how beautiful, how perfect, she
Now the reader, who has had the benefit of overhearing the
entire conversation which Pen had with Miss Fotheringay, can judge
for himself about the powers of her mind, and may perhaps be
disposed to think that she has not said anything astonishingly
humorous or intellectual in the course of the above interview. She
has married, and taken her position in the world as the most
spotless and irreproachable lady since, and I have had the pleasure
of making her acquaintance: and must certainly own, against my
friend Pen's opinion, that his adored Emily is not a clever woman.
The truth is, she had not only never heard of Kotzebue, but she had
never heard of Farquhar, or Congreve, or any dramatist in whose
plays she had not a part: and of these dramas she only knew the
part which concerned herself. A wag once told her that Dante was
born at Algiers: and asked her,—which Dr. Johnson wrote first,
'Irene,' or 'Every Man in his Humour.' But she had the best of the
joke, for she had never heard of Irene or Every Man in his Humour,
or Dante, or perhaps Algiers. It was all one to her. She acted what
little Bows told her—where he told her to sob, she sobbed—where he
told her to laugh, she laughed. She gave the tirade or the repartee
without the slightest notion of its meaning. She went to church and
goes every Sunday, with a reputation perfectly intact, and was (and
is) as guiltless of sense as of any other crime.
But what did our Pen know of these things? He saw a pair of
bright eyes, and he believed in them—a beautiful image, and he fell
down and worshipped it. He supplied the meaning which her words
wanted; and created the divinity which he loved. Was Titania the
first who fell in love with an ass, or Pygmalion the only artist
who has gone crazy about a stone? He had found her; he had found
what his soul thirsted after. He flung himself into the stream and
drank with all his might. Let those say who have been thirsty once
how delicious that first draught is. As he rode down the avenue
towards home—Pen shrieked with laughter as he saw the Reverend Mr.
Smirke once more coming demurely away from Fairoaks on his pony.
Smirke had dawdled and stayed at the cottages on the way, and then
dawdled with Laura over her lessons—and then looked at Mrs.
Pendennis's gardens and improvements until he had perfectly bored
out that lady: and he had taken his leave at the very last minute
without that invitation to dinner which he fondly expected.
Pen was full of kindness and triumph. "What, picked up and
sound?" he cried out laughing. "Come along back, old fellow, and
eat my dinner—I have had mine: but we will have a bottle of the old
wine and drink her health, Smirke."
Poor Smirke turned the pony's head round, and jogged along with
Arthur. His mother was charmed to see him in such high spirits, and
welcomed Mr. Smirke for his sake, when Arthur said he had forced
the curate back to dine. He gave a most ludicrous account of the
play of the night before, and of the acting of Bingley the Manager,
in his rickety Hessians, and the enormous Mrs. Bingley as the
Countess, in rumpled green satin and a Polish cap; he mimicked
them, and delighted his mother and little Laura, who clapped her
hands with pleasure.
"And Mrs. Haller?" said Mrs. Pendennis.
"She's a stunner, ma'am," Pen said, laughing, and using the
words of his revered friend, Mr. Foker.
"A what, Arthur?" asked the lady.
"What is a stunner, Arthur?" cried Laura, in the same voice.
So he gave them a queer account of Mr. Foker, and how he used to
be called Vats and Grains, and by other contumelious names at
school: and how he was now exceedingly rich, and a Fellow Commoner
at St. Boniface. But gay and communicative as he was, Mr. Pen did
not say one syllable about his ride to Chatteris that day, or about
the new friends whom he had made there.
When the two ladies retired, Pen, with flashing eyes, filled up
two great bumpers of Madeira, and looking Smirke full in the face
said, "Here's to her!"
"Here's to her," said the curate with a sigh, lifting the glass
and emptying it, so that his face was a little pink when he put it
Pen had even less sleep that night than on the night before. In
the morning, and almost before dawn, he went out and saddled that
unfortunate Rebecca himself, and rode her on the Downs like mad.
Again Love had roused him—and said, "Awake, Pendennis, I am here."
That charming fever —that delicious longing—and fire, and
uncertainty; he hugged them to him—be would not have lost them for
all the world.