The History of Pendennis, by William Makepeace Thackeray

CHAPTER XL

Relates to Mr. Harry Foker’s Affairs

Since that fatal but delightful night in Grosvenor Place, Mr. Harry Foker’s heart had been in such a state of agitation as you would hardly have thought so great a philosopher could endure. When we remember what good advice he had given to Pen in former days, how an early wisdom and knowledge of the world had manifested itself in this gifted youth; how a constant course of self-indulgence, such as becomes a gentleman of his means and expectations, ought by right to have increased his cynicism, and made him, with every succeeding day of his life, care less and less for every individual in the world, with the single exception of Mr. Harry Foker, one may wonder that he should fall into the mishap to which most of us are subject once or twice in our lives, and disquiet his great mind about a woman. But Foker, though early wise, was still a man. He could no more escape the common lot than Achilles, or Ajax, or Lord Nelson, or Adam our first father, and now, his time being come, young Harry became a victim to Love, the All-conqueror.

When he went to the Back Kitchen that night after quitting Arthur Pendennis at his staircase-door in Lamb Court, the gin-twist and devilled turkey had no charms for him, the jokes of his companions fell flatly on his ear; and when Mr. Hodgen, the singer of ‘The Body Snatcher,’ had a new chant even more dreadful and humorous than that famous composition, Foker, although he appeared his friend, and said “Bravo, Hodgen,” as common politeness and his position as one of the chiefs of the Back Kitchen bound him to do, yet never distinctly heard one word of the song, which under its title of ‘The Cat in the Cupboard,’ Hodgen has since rendered so famous. Late and very tired, he slipped into his private apartments at home and sought the downy pillow, but his slumbers were disturbed by the fever of his soul, and the very instant that he woke from his agitated sleep, the image of Miss Amory presented itself to him, and said, “Here I am, I am your princess and beauty, you have discovered me, and shall care for nothing else hereafter.”

Heavens, how stale and distasteful his former pursuits and friendships appeared to him! He had not been, up to the present time, much accustomed to the society of females of his own rank in life. When he spoke of such, he called them “modest women.” That virtue which, let us hope, they possessed, had not hitherto compensated to Mr. Foker for the absence of more lively qualities which most of his own relatives did not enjoy, and which he found in Mesdemoiselles, the ladies of the theatre. His mother, though good and tender, did not amuse her boy; his cousins, the daughters of his maternal uncle, the respectable Earl of Rosherville, wearied him beyond measure. One was blue, and a geologist; one was a horsewoman, and smoked cigars; one was exceedingly Low Church, and had the most heterodox views on religious matters; at least, so the other said, who was herself of the very Highest Church faction, and made the cupboard in her room into an oratory, and fasted on every Friday in the year. Their paternal house of Drummington, Foker could very seldom be got to visit. He swore he had rather go on the treadmill than stay there. He was not much beloved by the inhabitants. Lord Erith, Lord Rosherville’s heir, considered his cousin a low person, of deplorably vulgar habits and manners; while Foker, and with equal reason, voted Erith a prig and a dullard, the nightcap of the House of Commons, the Speaker’s opprobrium, the dreariest of philanthropic spouters. Nor could George Robert, Earl of Gravesend and Rosherville, ever forget that on one evening when he condescended to play at billiards with his nephew, that young gentleman poked his lordship in the side with his cue, and said, “Well, old cock, I’ve seen many a bad stroke in my life, but I never saw such a bad one as that there.” He played the game out with angelic sweetness of temper, for Harry was his guest as well as his nephew; but he was nearly having a fit in the night; and he kept to his own rooms until young Harry quitted Drummington on his return to Oxbridge, where the interesting youth was finishing his education at the time when the occurrence took place. It was an awful blow to the venerable earl; the circumstance was never alluded to in the family; he shunned Foker whenever he came to see them in London or in the country, and could hardly be brought to gasp out a “How d’ye do?” to the young blasphemer. But he would not break his sister Agnes’s heart, by banishing Harry from the family altogether; nor, indeed, could he afford to break with Mr. Foker, senior, between whom and his lordship there had been many private transactions, producing an exchange of bank-cheques from Mr. Foker, and autographs from the earl himself, with the letters I O U written over his illustrious signature.

Besides the four daughters of Lord Gravesend whose various qualities have been enumerated in the former paragraph, his lordship was blessed with a fifth girl, the Lady Ana Milton, who, from her earliest years and nursery, had been destined to a peculiar position in life. It was ordained between her parents and her aunt, that when Mr Harry Foker attained a proper age, Lady Ann should become his wife. The idea had been familiar to her mind when she yet wore pinafores, and when Harry the dirtiest of little boys, used to come back with black eyes from school to Drummington, or to his father’s house of Logwood, where Lady Ann lived, much with her aunt. Both of the young people coincided with the arrangement proposed by the elders, without any protests or difficulty. It no more entered Lady Ann’s mind to question the order of her father, than it would have entered Esther’s to dispute the commands of Ahasuerus. The heir-apparent of the house of Foker was also obedient, for when the old gentleman said, “Harry, your uncle and I have agreed that when you’re of a proper age, you’ll marry Lady Ann. She won’t have any money, but she’s good blood, and a good one to look at, and I shall make you comfortable. If you refuse, you’ll have your mother’s jointure, and two hundred a year during my life”— Harry, who knew that his sire, though a man of few words, was yet implicitly to be trusted, acquiesced at once in the parental decree, and said, “Well, sir, if Ann’s agreeable, I say ditto. She’s not a bad-looking girl.”

“And she has the best blood in England, sir. Your mother’s blood, your own blood, sir,” said the Brewer. “There’s nothing like it, sir.”

“Well, sir, as you like it,” Harry replied. “When you want me, please ring the bell. Only there’s no hurry, and I hope you’ll give us a long day. I should like to have my fling out before I marry.”

“Fling away, Harry,” answered the benevolent father. “Nobody prevents you, do they?” And so very little more was said upon this subject, and Mr. Harry pursued those amusements in life which suited him best; and hung up a little picture of his cousin in his sitting-room, amidst the French prints, the favourite actresses and dancers, the racing and coaching works of art, which suited his taste and formed his gallery. It was an insignificant little picture, representing a simple round face with ringlets; and it made, as it must be confessed, a very poor figure by the side of Mademoiselle Petitot, dancing over a rainbow, or Mademoiselle Redowa, grinning in red boots and a lancer’s cap.

Being engaged and disposed of, Lady Ann Milton did not go out so much in the world as her sisters: and often stayed at home in London at the parental house in Gaunt Square, when her mamma with the other ladies went abroad. They talked and they danced with one man after another, and the men came and went, and the stories about them were various. But there was only this one story about Ann: she was engaged to Harry Foker: she never was to think about anybody else. It was not a very amusing story.

Well, the instant Foker awoke on the day after Lady Clavering’s dinner, there was Blanche’s image glaring upon him with its clear grey eyes, and winning smile. There was her tune ringing in his ears, “Yet round about the spot, ofttimes I hover, ofttimes I hover,” which poor Foker began piteously to hum, as he sat up in his bed under the crimson silken coverlet. Opposite him was a French Print, of a Turkish lady and her Greek lover, surprised by a venerable Ottoman, the lady’s husband; on the other wall was a French print of a gentleman and lady, riding and kissing each other at full gallop; all round the chaste bedroom were more French prints, either portraits of gauzy nymphs of the Opera, or lovely illustrations of the novels; or mayhap, an English chef-d’oeuvre or two, in which Miss Calverley of T. R. E. O. would be represented in tight pantaloons in her favourite page part; or Miss Rougemont as Venus; their value enhanced by the signatures of these ladies, Maria Calverley, or Frederica Rougemont, inscribed underneath the prints in an exquisite facsimile. Such were the pictures in which honest Harry delighted. He was no worse than many of his neighbours; he was an idle jovial kindly fast man about town; and if his rooms were rather profusely decorated with works of French art, so that simple Lady Agnes, his mamma on entering the apartments where her darling sate enveloped in fragrant clouds of Latakia, was often bewildered by the novelties which she beheld there, why, it must be remembered, that he was richer than most young men, and could better afford to gratify his taste.

A letter from Miss Calverley written in a very degage style of spelling and handwriting, scrawling freely over the filagree paper, and commencing by calling Mr. Harry, her dear Hokey-pokey-fokey, lay on his bed table by his side, amidst keys, sovereigns, cigar-cases, and a bit of verbena, which Miss Amory had given him, and reminding him of the arrival of the day when he was ‘to stand that dinner at the Elefant and Castle, at Richmond, which he had promised;’ a card for a private box at Miss Rougemont’s approaching benefit, a bundle of tickets for ‘Ben Budgeon’s night, the North Lancashire Pippin, at Martin Faunce’s, the Three-cornered Hat, in St. Martin’s Lane; where Conkey Sam, Dick the Nailor, and Deadman (the Worcestershire Nobber), would put on the gloves, and the lovers of the good old British sport were invited to attend’— these and sundry other memoirs of Mr. Foker’s pursuits and pleasure lay on the table by his side when he woke.

Ah! how faint all these pleasures seemed now. What did he care for Conkey Sam or the Worcestershire Nobber? What for the French prints ogling him from all sides of the room; those regular stunning slap-up out-and-outers? And Calverley spelling bad, and calling him Hokey-fokey, confound her impudence! The idea of being engaged to a dinner at the Elephant and Castle at Richmond with that old woman (who was seven-and-thirty years old, if she was a day) filled his mind with dreary disgust now, instead of that pleasure which he had only yesterday expected to find from the entertainment.

When his fond mamma beheld her boy that morning, she remarked on the pallor of his cheek, and the general gloom of his aspect. “Why do you go on playing billiards at that wicked Spratt’s?” Lady Agnes asked. “My dearest child, those billiards will kill you, I’m sure they will.”

“It isn’t the billiards,” Harry said, gloomily.

“Then it’s the dreadful Back Kitchen,” said the Lady Agnes. “I’ve often thought, d’you know, Harry, of writing to the landlady, and begging that she would have the kindness to put only very little wine in the negus which you take, and see that you have your shawl on before you get into your brougham.”

“Do, ma’am. Mrs Cutts is a most kind motley woman,” Harry said. “But it isn’t the Back Kitchen, neither,” he added, with a ghastly sigh.

As Lady Agnes never denied her son anything, and fell into all his ways with the fondest acquiescence, she was rewarded by a perfect confidence on young Harry’s part, who never thought to disguise from her a knowledge of the haunts which he frequented; and, on the contrary, brought her home choice anecdotes from the clubs and billiard-rooms, which the simple lady relished, if she did not understand. “My son goes to Spratt’s,” she would say to her confidential friends. “All the young men go to Spratt’s after their balls. It is de rigueur, my dear; and they play billiards as they used to play macao and hazard in Mr. Fox’s time. Yes, my dear father often told me that they sate up always until nine o’clock the next morning with Mr. Fox at Brookes’s, whom I remember at Drnmmington, when I was a little girl, in a buff waistcoat and black satin small-clothes. My brother Erith never played as a young man, nor sate up late — he had no health for it; but my boy must do as everybody does, you know. Yes, and then he often goes to a place called the Back Kitchen, frequented by all the wits and authors, you know, whom one does not see in society, but whom it is a great privilege and pleasure for Harry to meet, and there he hears the questions of the day discussed; and my dear father often said that it was our duty to encourage literature, and he had hoped to see the late Dr. Johnson at Drummington, only Dr. Johnson died. Yes, and Mr. Sheridan came over, and drank a great deal of wine — everybody drank a great deal of wine in those days — and papa’s wine-merchant’s bill was ten times as much as Erith’s is, who gets it as he wants it from Fortnum and Mason’s and doesn’t keep any stock at all.”

“That was an uncommon good dinner we had yesterday, ma’am,” the artful Harry broke out. “Their clear soup’s better than ours. Moufflet will put too much taragon into everything. The supreme de volaille was very good — uncommon, and the sweets were better than Moufflet’s sweets. Did you taste the plombiere, ma’am, and the maraschino jelly? Stunningly good that maraschino jelly!”

Lady Agnes expressed her agreement in these, as in almost all other sentiments of her son, who continued the artful conversation, saying —

“Very handsome house that of the Claverings. Furniture, I should say, got up regardless of expense. Magnificent display of plate, ma’am.” The lady assented to all these propositions.

“Very nice people the Claverings.”

“H’m!” said Lady Agnes.

“I know what you mean. Lady C. ain’t distangy exactly, but she is very good-natured.”

“Oh, very,” mamma said, who was herself one of the most good-natured of women.

“And Sir Francis, he don’t talk much before ladies; but after dinner he comes out uncommon strong, ma’am — a highly agreeable, well-informed man. When will you ask them to dinner? Look out for an early day, ma’am;” and looking into Lady Agnes’s pocket-book, he chose a day only a fortnight hence (an age that fortnight seemed to the young gentleman), when the Claverings were to be invited to Grosvenor-street.

The obedient Lady Agnes wrote the required invitation. She was accustomed to do so without consulting her husband, who had his own society and habits, and who left his wife to see her own friends alone. Harry looked at the card; but there was an omission in the invitation which did not please him.

“You have not asked Miss Whatdyecallem — Miss Emery, Lady Clavering’s daughter.”

“Oh, that little creature!” Lady Agnes cried. “No! I think not, Harry.”

“We must ask Miss Amory,” Foker said. “I— I want to ask Pendennis; and — and he’s very sweet upon her. Don’t you think she sings very well, ma’am?”

“I thought her rather forward, and didn’t listen to her singing. She only sang at you and Mr. Pendennis, it seemed to me. But I will ask her if you wish, Harry,” and so Miss Amory’s name was written on the card with her mother’s.

This piece of diplomacy being triumphantly executed Harry embraced his fond parent with the utmost affection, and retired to his own apartments where he stretched himself on his ottoman, and lay brooding silently, sighing for the day which was to bring the fair Miss Amory under his paternal roof, and devising a hundred wild schemes for meeting her.

On his return from making the grand tour, Mr. Foker, Junior, had brought with him a polyglot valet, who took the place of Stoopid, and condescended to wait at dinner, attired in shirt fronts of worked muslin, with many gold studs and chains, upon his master and the elders of the family. This man, who was of no particular country, and spoke all languages indifferently ill, made himself useful to Mr. Harry in a variety of ways — read all the artless youth’s correspondence, knew his favourite haunts and the addresses of his acquaintance, and officiated at the private dinners which the young gentleman gave. As Harry lay upon his sofa after his interview with his mamma, robed in a wonderful dressing-gown, and puffing his pipe in gloomy silence, Anatole, too, must have remarked that something affected his master’s spirits; though he did not betray any ill-bred sympathy with Harry’s agitation of mind. When Harry began to dress himself in his out-of-door morning costume, he was very hard indeed to please, and particularly severe and snappish about his toilet: he tried, and cursed, pantaloons of many different stripes, checks, and colours: all the boots were villainously varnished; the shirts too “loud” in pattern. He scented his linen and person with peculiar richness this day; and what must have been the valet’s astonishment, when, after some blushing and hesitation on Harry’s part, the young gentleman asked, “I say, Anatole, when I engaged you, didn’t you — hem — didn’t you say that you could dress — hem — dress hair?”

The valet said, “Yes, he could.”

“Cherchy alors une paire de tongs — et — curly moi un peu,” Mr. Foker said, in an easy manner; and the valet, wondering whether his master was in love or was going masquerading, went in search of the articles — first from the old butler who waited upon Mr. Foker, senior, on whose bald pate the tongs would have scarcely found a hundred hairs to seize, and finally of the lady who had the charge of the meek auburn fronts of the Lady Agnes. And the tongs being got, Monsieur Anatole twisted his young master’s locks until he had made Harry’s head as curly as a negro’s; after which the youth dressed himself with the utmost care and splendour, and proceeded to sally out.

“At what dime sall I order de drag, sir, to be to Miss Calverley’s door, sir?” the attendant whispered as his master was going forth.

“Confound her! — Put the dinner off — I can’t go!” said Foker. “No, hang it — I must go. Poyntz and Rougemont, and ever so many more are coming. The drag at Pelham Corner at six o’clock, Anatole.”

The drag was not one of Mr. Foker’s own equipages, but was hired from a livery-stable for festive purposes; Foker, however, put his own carriage into requisition that morning, and for what purpose does the kind reader suppose? Why, to drive down to Lamb Court, Temple, taking Grosvenor Place by the way (which lies in the exact direction of the Temple from Grosvenor Street, as everybody knows), where he just had the pleasure of peeping upwards at Miss Amory’s pink window-curtains, having achieved which satisfactory feat, he drove off to Pen’s chambers. Why did he want to see his dear friend Pen so much? Why did he yearn and long after him; and did it seem necessary to Foker’s very existence that he should see Pen that morning, having parted with him in perfect health on the night previous? Pen had lived two years in London, and Foker had not paid half a dozen visits to his chambers. What sent him thither now in such a hurry?

What? — If any young ladies read this page, I have only to inform them that, when the same mishap befalls them, which now had for more than twelve hours befallen Harry Foker, people will grow interesting to them for whom they did not care sixpence on the day before; as on the other hand persons of whom they fancied themselves fond will be found to have become insipid and disagreeable. Then you dearest Eliza, or Maria of the other day, to whom you wrote letters and sent locks of hair yards long, will on a sudden be as indifferent to you as your stupidest relation whilst, on the contrary, about his relations you will begin to feel such a warm interest! such a loving desire to ingratiate yourself with his mamma; such a liking for that dear kind old man his father! If He is in the habit of visiting at any house, what advances you will make in order to visit there too. If He has a married sister you will like to spend long mornings with her. You will fatigue your servant by sending notes to her, for which there will be the most pressing occasion, twice or thrice in a day. You will cry if your mamma objects to your going too often to see His family. The only one of them you will dislike, is perhaps his younger brother, who is at home for the holidays, and who will persist in staying in the room when you come to see your dear new-found friend, his darling second sister. Something like this will happen to you, young ladies, or, at any rate, let us hope it may. Yes, you must go through the hot fits and the cold fits of that pretty fever. Your mothers, if they would acknowledge it, have passed through it before you were born, your dear papa being the object of the passion, of course — who could it be but he? And as you suffer it, so will your brothers, in their way — and after their kind. More selfish than you: more eager and headstrong than you: they will rush on their destiny when the doomed charmer makes her appearance. Or if they don’t, and you don’t, Heaven help you! As the gambler said of his dice, to love and win is the best thing, to love and lose is the next best. You don’t die of the complaint: or very few do. The generous wounded heart suffers and survives it. And he is not a man, or she a woman, who is not conquered by it, or who does not conquer it in his time. —— Now, then, if you ask why Henry Foker, Esquire, was in such a hurry to see Arthur Pendennis, and felt such a sudden value and esteem for him, there is no difficulty in saying it was because Pen had become really valuable in Mr. Foker’s eyes: because if Pen was not the rose, he yet had been near that fragrant flower of love. Was not he in the habit of going to her house in London? Did he not live near her in the country? — know all about the enchantress? What, I wonder, would Lady Ann Milton, Mr. Foker’s cousin and pretendue, have said, if her ladyship had known all that was going on in the bosom of that funny little gentleman?

Alas! when Foker reached Lamb Court, leaving his carriage for the admiration of the little clerks who were lounging in the archway that leads thence into Flag Court which leads into Upper Temple Lane, Warrington was in the chambers but Pen was absent. Pen was gone to the printing-office to see his proofs. “Would Foker have a pipe and should the laundress go to the Cock and get him some beer?”— Warrington asked, remarking with a pleased surprise the splendid toilet of this scented and shiny-booted young aristocrat; but Foker had not the slightest wish for beer or tobacco: he had very important business: he rushed away to the Pall Mall Gazette office, still bent upon finding Pen. Pen had quitted that pace. Foker wanted him that they might go together to call upon Lady Clavering. Foker went away disconsolate, and whiled away an hour or two vaguely at clubs: and when it was time to pay a visit, he thought it would be but decent and polite to drive to Grosvenor Place and leave a card upon Lady Clavering. He had not the courage to ask to see her when the door was opened, he only delivered two cards, with Mr. Henry Foker engraved upon them, to Jeames, in a speechless agony. Jeames received the tickets bowing his powdered head. The varnished doors closed upon him. The beloved object was as far as ever from him, though so near. He thought he heard the tones of a piano and of a syren singing, coming from the drawing-room and sweeping over the balcony-shrubbery of geraniums. He would have liked to stop and listen, but it might not be. “Drive to Tattersall’s,” he said to the groom, in a voice smothered with emotion — “And bring my pony round,” he added, as the man drove rapidly away.

As good luck would have it, that splendid barouche of Lady Clavering’s, which has been inadequately described in a former chapter, drove up to her ladyship’s door just as Foker mounted the pony which was in waiting for him. He bestrode the fiery animal, and dodged about the arch of the Green Park, keeping the carriage well in view, until he saw Lady Clavering enter, and with her — whose could be that angel form, but the enchantress’s, clad in a sort of gossamer, with a pink bonnet and a light-blue parasol — but Miss Amory?

The carriage took its fair owners to Madame Rigodon’s cap and lace shop, to Mrs Wolsey’s Berlin worsted shop — who knows to what other resorts of female commerce? Then it went and took ices at Hunter’s, for Lady Clavering was somewhat florid in her tastes and amusements, and not only liked to go abroad in the most showy carriage in London, but that the public should see her in it too. And so, in a white bonnet with a yellow feather, she ate a large pink ice in the sunshine before Hunter’s door, till Foker on his pony, and the red jacket who accompanied him, were almost tired of dodging.

Then at last she made her way into the Park, and the rapid Foker made his dash forward. What to do? Just to get a nod of recognition from Miss Amory and her mother; to cross them a half-dozen times in the drive; to watch and ogle them from the other side of the ditch, where the horsemen assemble when the band plays in Kensington Gardens. What is the use of looking at a woman in a pink bonnet across a ditch? What is the earthly good to be got out of a nod of the head? Strange that men will be contented with such pleasures, or if not contented, at least that they will be so eager in seeking them. Not one word did Harry, he so fluent of conversation ordinarily, change with his charmer on that day. Mutely he beheld her return to her carriage, and drive away among rather ironical salutes from the young men in the Park. One said that the Indian widow was making the paternal rupees spin rapidly; another said that she ought to have burned herself alive, and left the money to her daughter. This one asked who Clavering was? — and old Tom Eales, who knew everybody, and never missed a day in the Park on his grey cob, kindly said that Clavering had come into an estate over head and heels in mortgage: that there were dev’lish ugly stories about him when he was a young man, and that it was reported of him that he had a share in a gambling-house, and had certainly shown the white feather in his regiment. “He plays still; he is in a hell every night almost,” Mr. Eales added.

“I should think so, since his marriage,” said a wag.

“He gives devilish good dinners,” said Foker, striking up for the honour of his host of yesterday.

“I daresay, and I daresay he doesn’t ask Eales,” the wag said. “I say, Eales, do you dine at Clavering’s — at the Begum’s?”

“I dine there?” said Mr. Eales, who would have dined with Beelzebub if sure of a good cook, and when he came away, would have painted his host blacker than fate had made him.

“You might, you know, although you do abuse him so,” continued the wag. “They say it’s very pleasant. Clavering goes to sleep after dinner; the Begum gets tipsy with cherry-brandy, and the young lady sings songs to the young gentlemen. She sings well, don’t she, Fo?”

“Slap up,” said Fo. “I tell you what, Poyntz, she sings like a whatdyecallum — you know what I mean — like a mermaid, you know, but that’s not their name.”

“I never heard a mermaid sing,” Mr. Poyntz, the wag, replied. “Whoever heard a mermaid? Eales, you are an old fellow, did you?”

“Don’t make a lark of me, hang it, Poyntz,” said Foker, turning red, and with tears almost in his eyes, “you know what I mean: it’s those what’s-his-names — in Homer, you know. I never said I was a good scholar.”

“And nobody ever said it of you, my boy,” Mr. Poyntz remarked, and Foker striking spurs into his pony, cantered away down Rotten Row, his mind agitated with various emotions, ambitions, mortifications. He was sorry that he had not been good at his books in early life — that he might have cut out all those chaps who were about her, and who talked the languages, and wrote poetry, and painted pictures in her album, and — and that —“What am I,” thought little Foker, “compared to her? She’s all soul, she is, and can write poetry or compose music, as easy as I could drink a glass of beer. Beer? — damme, that’s all I’m fit for, is beer. I am a poor, ignorant little beggar, good for nothing but Foker’s Entire. I misspent my youth, and used to get the chaps to do my exercises. And what’s the consequences now? Oh, Harry Foker, what a confounded little fool you have been!”

As he made this dreary soliloquy, he had cantered out of Rotten Row into the Park, and there was on the point of riding down a large old roomy family carriage, of which he took no heed, when a cheery voice cried out, “Harry, Harry!” and looking up, he beheld his aunt, the Lady Rosherville, and two of her daughters, of whom the one who spoke was Harry’s betrothed, the Lady Ann.

He started back with a pale, scared look, as a truth about which he had not thought during the whole day, came across him. There was his fate, there, in the back seat of that carriage.

“What is the matter, Harry? why are you so pale? You have been raking and smoking too much, you wicked boy,” said Lady Ann.

Foker said, “How do, aunt,” “How do, Ann,” in a perturbed manner — muttered something about a pressing engagement — indeed he saw by the Park clock that he must have been keeping his party in the drag waiting for nearly an hour — and waved a good-bye. The little man and the little pony were out of sight in an instant — the great carriage rolled away. Nobody inside was very much interested about his coming or going; the Countess being occupied with her spaniel, the Lady Lucy’s thoughts and eyes being turned upon a volume of sermons, and those of the Lady Ann upon a new novel, which the sisters had just procured from the library.

http://ebooks.adelaide.edu.au/t/thackeray/william_makepeace/pendennis/chapter40.html

Last updated Tuesday, March 4, 2014 at 19:07