The History of Pendennis, by William Makepeace Thackeray

CHAPTER LIV

Convalescence

Our duty now is to record a fact concerning Pendennis, which, however shameful and disgraceful, when told regarding the chief personage and godfather of a novel, must, nevertheless, be made known to the public who reads his veritable memoirs. Having gone to bed ill with fever, and suffering to a certain degree under the passion of love, after he had gone through his physical malady, and had been bled and had been blistered, and had had his head shaved, and had been treated and medicamented as the doctor ordained:— it is a fact, that, when he rallied up from his bodily ailment, his mental malady had likewise quitted him, and he was no more in love with Fanny Bolton than you or I, who are much too wise, or too moral, to allow our hearts to go gadding after porters’ daughters.

He laughed at himself as he lay on his pillow, thinking of this second cure which had been effected upon him. He did not care the least about Fanny now: he wondered how he ever should have cared: and according to his custom made an autopsy of that dead passion, and anatomised his own defunct sensation for his poor little nurse. What could have made him so hot and eager about her but a few weeks back? Not her wit, not her breeding, not her beauty — there were hundreds of women better-looking than she. It was out of himself that the passion had gone: it did not reside in her. She was the same; but the eyes which saw were changed; and, alas, that it should be so! were not particularly eager to see her any more. He felt very well disposed towards the little thing, and so forth, but as for violent personal regard, such as he had but a few weeks ago, it had fled under the influence of the pill and lancet, which had destroyed the fever in his frame. And an immense source of comfort and gratitude it was to Pendennis (though there was something selfish in that feeling, as in most others of our young man), that he had been enabled to resist temptation at the time when the danger was greatest, and had no particular cause of self-reproach as he remembered his conduct towards the young girl. As from a precipice down which he might have fallen, so from the fever from which he had recovered, he reviewed the Fanny Bolton snare, now that he had escaped out of it, but I’m not sure that he was not ashamed of the very satisfaction which he experienced. It is pleasant, perhaps, but it is humiliating to own that you love no more.

Meanwhile the kind smiles and tender watchfulness of the mother at his bedside, filled the young man with peace and security. To see that health was returning, was all the unwearied nurse demanded: to execute any caprice or order of her patient’s, her chiefest joy and reward. He felt himself environed by her love, and thought himself almost as grateful for it as he had been when weak and helpless in childhood.

Some misty notions regarding the first part of his illness, and that Fanny had nursed him, Pen may have had, but they were so dim that he could not realise them with accuracy, or distinguish them from what he knew to be delusions which had occurred and were remembered during the delirium of his fever. So as he had not thought proper on former occasions to make any allusions about Fanny Bolton to his mother, of course he could not now confide to her his sentiments regarding Fanny, or make this worthy lady a confidante. It was on both sides an unlucky precaution and want of confidence; and a word or two in time might have spared the good lady, and those connected with her, a deal of pain and anguish.

Seeing Miss Bolton installed as nurse and tender to Pen, I am sorry to say Mrs. Pendennis had put the worst construction on the fact of the intimacy of these two unlucky young persons, and had settled in her own mind that the accusations against Arthur were true. Why not have stopped to inquire? — There are stories to a man’s disadvantage that the women who are fondest of him are always the most eager to believe. Isn’t a man’s wife often the first to be jealous of him? Poor Pen got a good stock of this suspicious kind of love from the nurse who was now watching over him; and the kind and pure creature thought that her boy had gone through a malady much more awful and debasing than the mere physical fever, and was stained by crime as well as weakened by illness. The consciousness of this she had to bear perforce silently, and to try to put a mask of cheerfulness and confidence over her doubt and despair and inward horror.

When Captain Shandon, at Boulogne, read the next number of the Pall Mall Gazette, it was to remark to Mrs. Shandon that Jack Finucane’s hand was no longer visible in the leading articles, and that Mr. Warrington must be at work there again. “I know the crack of his whip in a hundred, and the cut which the fellow’s thong leaves. There’s Jack Bludyer, goes to work like a butcher, and mangles a subject. Mr. Warrington finished a man, and lays his cuts neat and regular, straight down the back, and drawing blood every line;” at which dreadful metaphor, Mrs. Shandon said, “Law, Charles, how can you talk so! I always thought Mr. Warrington very high, but a kind gentleman; and I’m sure he was most kind to the children.” Upon which Shandon said, “yes; he’s kind to the children; but he’s savage to the men; and to be sure, my dear, you don’t understand a word about what I’m saying; and it’s best you shouldn’t; for it’s little good comes out of writing for newspapers; and it’s better here, living easy at Boulogne, where the wine’s plenty, and the brandy costs but two francs a bottle. Mix us another tumbler, Mary, my dear; we’ll go back into harness soon. ‘Cras ingens iterabimus aequor’ bad luck to it.”

In a word, Warrington went to work with all his might, in place of his prostrate friend, and did Pen’s portion of the Pall Mall Gazette “with a vengeance,” as the saying is. He wrote occasional articles and literary criticisms; he attended theatres and musical performances, and discoursed about them with his usual savage energy. His hand was too strong for such small subjects, and it pleased him to tell Arthur’s mother, and uncle, and Laura, that there was no hand in all the band of penmen more graceful and light, more pleasant and more elegant, than Arthur’s. “The people in this country, ma’am, don’t understand what style is, or they would see the merits of our young one,” he said to Mrs. Pendennis. “I call him ours, ma’am, for I bred him; and I am as proud of him as you are; and, bating a little wilfulness, and a little selfishness, and a little dandification, I don’t know a more honest, or loyal, or gentle creature. His pen is wicked sometimes, but he is as kind as a young lady — as Miss Laura here — and I believe he would not do any living mortal harm.”

At this, Helen, though she heaved a deep, deep sigh, and Laura, though she, too, was sadly wounded, nevertheless were most thankful for Warrington’s good opinion of Arthur, and loved him for being so attached to their Pen. And Major Pendennis was loud in his praises of Mr. Warrington — more loud and enthusiastic than it was the Major’s wont to be. “He is a gentleman, my dear creature,” he said to Helen, “every inch a gentleman, my good madam — the Suffolk Warringtons — Charles the First’s baronets:— what could he be but a gentleman, come out of that family? — father — Sir Miles Warrington; ran away with — beg your pardon, Miss Bell. Sir Miles was a very well known man in London, and a friend of the Prince of Wales, This gentleman is a man of the greatest talents, the very highest accomplishments — sure to get on, if he had a motive to put his energies to work.”

Laura blushed for herself whilst the Major was talking and praising Arthur’s hero. As she looked at Warrington’s manly face, and dark, melancholy eyes, this young person had been speculating about him, and had settled in her mind that he must have been the victim of an unhappy attachment; and as she caught herself so speculating, why, Miss Bell blushed.

Warrington got chambers hard by — Grenier’s chambers in Flag Court; and having executed Pen’s task with great energy in the morning, his delight and pleasure of an afternoon was to come and sit with the sick man’s company in the sunny autumn evenings; and he had the honour more than once of giving Miss Bell his arm for a walk in the Temple Gardens; to take which pastime, when the frank Laura asked of Helen permission, the Major eagerly said, “Yes, yes, begad — of course you go out with him — it’s like the country, you know; everybody goes out with everybody in the Gardens, and there are beadles, you know, and that sort of thing — everybody walks in the Temple Gardens.” If the great arbiter of morals did not object, why should simple Helen? She was glad that her girl should have such fresh air as the river could give, and to see her return with heightened colour and spirits from these harmless excursions.

Laura and Helen had come, you must know, to a little explanation. When the news arrived of Pen’s alarming illness, Laura insisted upon accompanying the terrified mother to London, would not hear of the refusal which the still angry Helen gave her, and, when refused a second time yet more sternly, and when it seemed that the poor lost lad’s life was despaired of, and when it was known that his conduct was such as to render all thoughts of union hopeless, Laura had, with many tears, told her mother a secret with which every observant person who reads this story was acquainted already. Now she never could marry him, was she to be denied the consolation of owning how fondly, how truly, how entirely she had loved him? The mingling tears of the woman appeased the agony of their grief somewhat; and the sorrows and terrors of their journey were at least in so far mitigated that they shared them together.

What could Fanny expect when suddenly brought up for sentence before a couple of such judges? Nothing but swift condemnation, awful punishment, merciless dismissal! Women are cruel critics in cases such as that in which poor Fanny was implicated; and we like them to be so; for, besides the guard which a man places round his own harem, and the defences which a woman has in her heart, her faith, and honour, hasn’t she all her own friends of her own sex to keep watch that she does not go astray, and to tear her to pieces if she is found erring? When our Mahmouds or Selims of Baker Street or Belgrave Square visit their Fatimas with condign punishment, their mothers sew up Fatima’s sack for her, and her sisters and sisters-inlaw see her well under water. And this present writer does not say nay. He protests most solemnly he is a Turk, too. He wears a turban and a beard like another, and is all for the sack practice, Bismillah! But O you spotless, who have the right of capital punishment vested in you, at least be very cautious that you make away with the proper (if so she may be called) person. Be very sure of the fact before you order the barge out: and don’t pop your subject into the Bosphorus, until you are quite certain that she deserves it. This is all I would urge in poor Fatima’s behalf — absolutely all — not a word more, by the beard of the Prophet. If she’s guilty, down with her — heave over the sack, away with it into the Golden Horn bubble and squeak, and justice being done, give way, men, and let us pull back to supper.

So the Major did not in any way object to Warrington’s continued promenades with Miss Laura, but, like a benevolent old gentleman, encouraged in every way the intimacy of that couple. Were there any exhibitions in town? he was for Warrington conducting her to them. If Warrington had proposed to take her to Vauxhall itself, this most complaisant of men would have seen no harm — nor would Helen, if Pendennis the elder had so ruled it — nor would there have been any harm between two persons whose honour was entirely spotless — between Warrington, who saw in intimacy a pure, and high-minded, and artless woman for the first time in his life — and Laura, who too for the first time was thrown into the constant society of a gentleman of great natural parts and powers of pleasing; who possessed varied acquirements, enthusiasm, simplicity, humour, and that freshness of mind which his simple life and habits gave him, and which contrasted so much with Pen’s dandy indifference of manner and faded sneer. In Warrington’s very uncouthness there was a refinement, which the other’s finery lacked. In his energy, his respect, his desire to please, his hearty laughter, or simple confiding pathos, what a difference to Sultan Pen’s yawning sovereignty and languid acceptance of homage! What had made Pen at home such a dandy and such a despot? The women had spoiled him, as we like them and as they like to do. They had cloyed him with obedience, and surfeited him with sweet respect and submission, until he grew weary of the slaves who waited upon him, and their caresses and cajoleries excited him no more. Abroad, he was brisk and lively, and eager and impassioned enough — most men are so constituted and so nurtured. — Does this, like the former sentence, run a chance of being misinterpreted, and does any one dare to suppose that the writer would incite the women to revolt? Nevert, by the whiskers of the Prophet again, he says. He wears a beard, and he likes his women to be slaves. What man doesn’t? What man would be henpecked, I say? We will cut off all the heads in Christendom or Turkeydom rather than that.

Well, then, Arthur being so languid, and indifferent, and careless about the favours bestowed upon him, how came it that Laura should have such a love and rapturous regard for him, that a mere inadequate expression of it should have kept the girl talking all the way from Fairoaks to London, as she and Helen travelled in the post-chaise? As soon as Helen had finished one story about the dear fellow, and narrated, with a hundred sobs and ejaculations, and looks up to heaven, some thrilling incidents which occurred about the period when the hero was breeched, Laura began another equally interesting and equally ornamented with tears, and told how heroically he had a tooth out or wouldn’t have it out, or how daringly he robbed a bird’s nest or how magnanimously he spared it; or how he gave a shilling to the old woman on the common, or went without his bread-and-butter for the beggar-boy who came into the yard — and so on One to another the sobbing women sang laments upon their hero, who, my worthy reader has long since perceived, is no more a hero than one of us. Being as he was, why should a sensible girl be so fond of him?

This point has been argued before in a previous unfortunate sentence (which lately drew down all the wrath of Ireland upon the writer’s head), and which said that the greatest rascal-cut-throats have had somebody to be fond of them, and if those monsters, why not ordinary mortals? And with whom shall a young lady fall in love but with the person she sees? She is not supposed to lose her heart in a dream, like a Princess in the Arabian Nights; or to plight her young affections to the portrait of a gentleman in the Exhibition, or a sketch in the Illustrated London News. You have an instinct within you which inclines you to attach yourself to some one: you meet Somebody: you hear Somebody constantly praised: you walk, or ride, or waltz, or talk or sit in the same pew at church with Somebody: you meet again, and again, and —“Marriages are made in Heave,” your dear mamma says, pinning your orange-flowers wreath on, with her blessed eyes dimmed with tears — and there is a wedding breakfast, and you take off your white satin and retire to your coach-and-four, and you and he are a happy pair. — Or, the affair is broken off, and then, poor wounded heart! why, then you meet Somebody Else, and twine your young affections round number two. It is your nature so to do. Do you suppose it is all for the man’s sake that you love, and not a bit for your own? Do you suppose you would drink if you were not thirsty, or eat if you were not hungry?

So then Laura liked Pen because she saw scarcely anybody else at Fairoaks except Doctor Portman and Captain Glanders, and because his mother constantly praised her Arthur, and because he was gentlemanlike, tolerably good-looking and witty, and because, above all, it was of her nature to like somebody. And having once received this image into her heart, she there tenderly nursed it and clasped it — she there, in his long absences and her constant solitudes, silently brooded over it and fondled it — and when after this she came to London, and had an opportunity of becoming rather intimate with Mr. George Warrington, what on earth was to prevent her from thinking him a most odd, original, agreeable, and pleasing person?

A long time afterwards, when these days were over, and Fate in its own way had disposed of the various persons now assembled in the dingy building in Lamb Court, perhaps some of them looked back and thought how happy the time was, and how pleasant had been their evening talks and little walks and simple recreations round the sofa of Pen the convalescent. The Major had a favourable opinion of September in London from that time forward, and declared at his clubs and in society that the dead season in town was often pleasant, doosid pleasant, begad. He used to go home to his lodgings in Bury Street of a night, wondering that it was already so late, and that the evening had passed away so quickly. He made his appearance at the Temple pretty constantly in the afternoon, and tugged up the long black staircase with quite a benevolent activity and perseverance. And he made interest with the chef at Bays’s (that renowned cook, the superintendence of whose work upon Gastronomy compelled the gifted author to stay in the metropolis), to prepare little jellies, delicate clear soups, aspics, and other trifles good for invalids, which Morgan the valet constantly brought down to the little Lamb Court colony. And the permission to drink a glass or two of pure sherry being accorded to Pen by Doctor Goodenough, the Major told with almost tears in his eyes how his noble friend the Marquis of Steyne, passing through London on his way to the Continent, had ordered any quantity of his precious, his priceless Amontillado, that had been a present from King Ferdinand to the noble Marquis, to be placed at the disposal of Mr. Arthur Pendennis. The widow and Laura tasted it with respect (though they didn’t in the least like the bitter flavour) but the invalid was greatly invigorated by it, and Warrington pronounced it superlatively good, and proposed the Major’s health in a mock speech after dinner on the first day when the wine was served, and that of Lord Steyne and the aristocracy in general.

Major Pendennis returned thanks with the utmost gravity and in a speech in which he used the words, ‘the present occasion,’ at least the proper number of times. Pen cheered with his feeble voice from his armchair. Warrington taught Miss Laura to cry “Hear! hear!” and tapped the table with his knuckles. Pidgeon the attendant grinned, and honest Doctor Goodenough found the party so merrily engaged, when he came in to pay his faithful gratuitous visit.

Warrington knew Sibwright, who lived below and that gallant gentleman, in reply to a letter informing him of the use to which his apartment had been put, wrote back the most polite and flowery letter of acquiescence He placed his chambers at the service of their fair occupants, his bed at their disposal, his carpets at their feet. Everybody was kindly disposed towards the sick man and his family. His heart (and his mother’s too, as we may fancy) melted within him at the thought of so much good-feeling and good-nature. Let Pen’s biographer be pardoned for alluding to a time not far distant when a somewhat similar mishap brought him a providential friend, a kind physician, and a thousand proofs of a most touching and surprising kindness and sympathy.

There was a piano in Mr. Sibwright’s chamber (indeed, this gentleman, a lover of all the arts, performed himself — and excellently ill too — upon the instrument; and had had a song dedicated to him, the words by himself, the air by his devoted friend Leopoldo Twankidillo), and at this music-box, as Mr. Warrington called it, Laura, at first with a great deal of tremor and blushing (which became her very much), played and sang, sometimes of an evening, simple airs, and old songs of home. Her voice was a rich contralto, and Warrington, who scarcely knew one tune from another and who had but one tune or bray in his repertoire — a most discordant imitation of ‘God save the King’— sat rapt in delight listening to these songs. He could follow their rhythm if not their harmony; and he could watch, with a constant and daily growing enthusiasm, the pure and tender and generous creature who made the music.

I wonder how that poor pale little girl in the black bonnet, who used to stand at the lamp-post in Lamb Court sometimes of an evening, looking up to the open windows from which the music came, liked to hear it? When Pen’s bedtime came the songs were hushed. Lights appeared in the upper room: his room, whither the widow used to conduct him; and then the Major and Mr. Warrington, and sometimes Miss Laura, would have a game at ecarte or backgammon; or she would sit by working a pair of slippers in worsted — a pair of gentleman’s slippers — they might have been for Arthur or for George or for Major Pendennis: one of those three would have given anything for the slippers.

Whilst such business as this was going on within, a rather shabby old gentleman would come and lead away the pale girl in the black bonnet, who had no right to be abroad in the night air; and the Temple porters, the few laundresses, and other amateurs who had been listening to the concert, would also disappear.

Just before ten o’clock there was another musical performance, namely that of the chimes of St. Clement’s clock in the Strand, which played the clear cheerful notes of a psalm, before it proceeded to ring its ten fatal strokes. As they were ringing, Laura began to fold up the slippers; Martha from Fairoaks appeared with a bed-candle, and a constant smile on her face; the Major said, “God bless my soul, is it so late?” Warrington and he left their unfinished game, and got up and shook hands with Miss Bell. Martha from Fairoaks lighted them out of the passage and down the stair, and, as they descended, they could hear her bolting and locking “the sporting door” after them, upon her young mistress and herself. If there had been any danger, grinning Martha said she would have got down “that thar hooky soord which hung up in gantleman’s room,”— meaning the Damascus scimitar with the names of the prophet engraved on the blade and the red velvet scabbard, which Percy Sibwright, Esquire, brought back from his tour in the Levant, along with an Albanian dress, and which he wore with such elegant effect at Lady Mullingar’s fancy ball, Gloucester Square, Hyde Park. It entangled itself in Miss Kewsey’s train, who appeared in the dress in which she, with her mamma, had been presented to their sovereign (the latter by the L— d Ch-nc-ll-r’s lady), and led to events which have nothing to do with this history. Is not Miss Kewsey now Mrs. Sibwright? Has Sibwright not got a county court? — Good night, Laura and Fairoaks Martha. Sleep well and wake happy, pure and gentle lady.

Sometimes after these evenings Warrington would walk a little way with Major Pendennis — just a little way just as far as the Temple gate — as the Strand — as Charing Cross — as the Club — he was not going into the Club? Well, as far as Bury Street, where he would laughingly shake hands on the Major’s own door-step. They had been talking about Laura all the way. It was wonderful how enthusiastic the Major, who, as we know, used to dislike her, had grown to be regarding the young lady —“Dev’lish fine girl, begad. Dev’lish well-mannered girl — my sister-inlaw has the manners of a duchess and would bring up any girl well. Miss Bell’s a little countryfied. But the smell of the hawthorn is pleasant, demmy. How she blushes! Your London girls would give many a guinea for a bouquet like that — natural flowers, begad! And she’s a little money too — nothing to speak of — but a pooty little bit of money.” In all which opinions no doubt Mr. Warrington agreed; and though he laughed as he shook hands with the Major, his face fell as he left his veteran companion; and he strode back to chambers, and smoked pipe after pipe long into the night, and wrote article upon article, more and more savage, in lieu of friend Pen disabled.

Well, it was a happy time for almost all parties concerned. Pen mended daily. Sleeping and eating were his constant occupations. His appetite was something frightful. He was ashamed of exhibiting it before Laura, and almost before his mother who laughed and applauded him. As the roast chicken of his dinner went away he eyed the departing friend with sad longing, and began to long for jelly, or tea, or what not. He was like an ogre in devouring. The Doctor cried stop, but Pen would not. Nature called out to him more loudly than the Doctor, and that kind and friendly physician handed him over with a very good grace to the other healer.

And here let us speak very tenderly and in the strictest confidence of an event which befell him, and to which he never liked an allusion. During his delirium the ruthless Goodenough ordered ice to be put to his head, and all his lovely hair to be cut. It was done in the time of — of the other nurse, who left every single hair of course in a paper for the widow to count and treasure up. She never believed but that the girl had taken away some of it, but then women are so suspicious upon these matters.

When this direful loss was made visible to Major Pendennis as of course it was the first time the elder saw the poor young man’s shorn pate, and when Pen was quite out of danger, and gaining daily vigour, the Major, with something like blushes and a queer wink of his eyes, said he knew of a — a person — a coiffeur, in fact — a good man, whom he would send down to the Temple, and who would — a — apply — a — a temporary remedy to that misfortune.

Laura looked at Warrington with the archest sparkle in her eyes — Warrington fairly burst out into a boohoo of laughter: even the widow was obliged to laugh: and the Major erubescent confounded the impudence of the young folks, and said when he had his hair cut he would keep a lock of it for Miss Laura.

Warrington voted that Pen should wear a barrister’s wig. There was Sibwright’s down below, which would become him hugely. Pen said “Stuff,” and seemed as confused as his uncle; and the end was that a gentleman from Burlington Arcade waited next day upon Mr. Pendennis, and had a private interview with him in his bedroom; and a week afterwards the same individual appeared with a box under his arm, and an ineffable grin of politeness on his face, and announced that he had brought ‘ome Mr. Pendennis’s ‘ead of ‘air.

It must have been a grand but melancholy sight to see Pen in the recesses of his apartment, sadly contemplating his ravaged beauty, and the artificial means of hiding its ruin. He appeared at length in the ‘ead of ‘air; but Warrington laughed so, that Pen grew sulky, and went back for his velvet cap, a neat turban which the fondest of mammas had worked for him. Then Mr. Warrington and Miss Bell got some flowers off the ladies’ bonnets and made a wreath, with which they decorated the wig and brought it out in procession, and did homage before it. In fact they indulged in a hundred sports, jularities, waggeries, and petits jeux innocens: so that the second and third floors of Number 6 Lamb Court, Temple, rang with more cheerfulness and laughter than had been known in those precincts for many a long day.

At last, after about ten days of this life, one evening when the little spy of the court came out to take her usual post of observation at the lamp, there was no music from the second-floor window, there were no lights in the third-story chambers, the windows of each were open, and the occupants were gone. Mrs. Flanagan, the laundress, told Fanny what had happened. The ladies and all the party had gone to Richmond for change of air. The antique travelling chariot was brought out again and cushioned with many pillows for Pen and his mother; and Miss Laura went in the most affable manner in the omnibus under the guardianship of Mr. George Warrington. He came back and took possession of his old bed that night in the vacant and cheerless chambers, and to his old books and his old pipes, but not perhaps to his old sleep.

The widow had left a jar full of flowers upon his table, prettily arranged, and when he entered they filled the solitary room with odour. They were memorials of the kind, gentle souls who had gone away, and who had decorated for a little while that lonely cheerless place. He had had the happiest days of his whole life George felt — he knew it now they were just gone: he went and took up the flowers and put his face to them, and smelt them — perhaps kissed them. As he put them down, he rubbed his rough hand across his eyes with a bitter word and laugh. He would have given his whole life and soul to win that prize which Arthur rejected. Did she want fame? he would have won it for her:— devotion? — a great heart full of pent-up tenderness and manly love and gentleness was there for her, if she might take it. But it might not be. Fate had ruled otherwise. “Even if I could, she would not have me,” George thought. “What has an ugly, rough old fellow like me, to make any woman like him? I’m getting old, and I’ve made no mark in life. I’ve neither good looks, nor youth, nor money, nor reputation. A man must be able to do something besides stare at her and offer on his knees his smooth devotion, to make a woman like him. What can I do? Lots of young fellows have passed me in the race — what they call the prizes of life didn’t seem to me worth the trouble of the struggle. But for her. If she had been mine and liked a diamond — ah! shouldn’t she have worn it! Psha, what a fool I am to brag of what I would have done! We are the slaves of destiny. Our lots are shaped for us, and mine is ordained long ago. Come, let us have a pipe, and put the smell of these flowers out of court, poor little silent flowers! you’ll be dead tomorrow. What business had you to show your red cheeks in this dingy place?”

By his bedside George found a new Bible which the widow had placed there, with a note inside saying that she had not seen the book amongst his collection in a room where she had spent a number of hours, and where God had vouchsafed to her prayers the life of her son, and that she gave to Arthur’s friend the best thing she could, and besought him to read in the volume sometimes, and to keep it as a token of a grateful mother’s regard and affection. Poor George mournfully kissed the book as he had done the flowers; and the morning found him still reading in its awful pages, in which so many stricken hearts, in which so many tender and faithful souls, have found comfort under calamity, and refuge and hope in affliction.

http://ebooks.adelaide.edu.au/t/thackeray/william_makepeace/pendennis/chapter54.html

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