The History of Pendennis, by William Makepeace Thackeray

CHAPTER LXVII

In which Pen begins to doubt about his Election

Whilst Pen, in his own county, was thus carrying on his selfish plans and parliamentary schemes, news came to him that Lady Rockminster had arrived at Baymouth, and had brought with her our friend Laura. At the announcement that Laura his sister was near him, Pen felt rather guilty. His wish was to stand higher in her esteem, perhaps; than in that of any other person in the world. She was his mother’s legacy to him. He was to be her patron and protector in some sort. How would she brave the news which he had to tell her; and how should he explain the plans which he was meditating? He felt as if neither he nor Blanche could bear Laura’s dazzling glance of calm scrutiny, and as if he would not dare to disclose his worldly hopes and ambitions to that spotless judge. At her arrival at Baymouth, he wrote a letter thither which contained a great number of fine phrases and protests of affection, and a great deal of easy satire and raillery; in the midst of all which Mr. Pen could not help feeling that he was in panic, and that he was acting like a rogue and hypocrite.

How was it that a simple country girl should be the object of fear and trembling to such an accomplished gentleman as Mr. Pen? His worldly tactics and diplomacy, his satire and knowledge of the world, could not bear the test of her purity, he felt somehow. And he had to own to himself that his affairs were in such a position, that he could not tell the truth to that honest soul. As he rode from Clavering to Baymouth he felt as guilty as a schoolboy who doesn’t know his lesson and is about to face the awful master. For is not truth the master always, and does she not have the power and hold the book?

Under the charge of her kind, though somewhat wayward and absolute patroness, Lady Rockminster, Laura had seen somewhat of the world in the last year, had gathered some accomplishments, and profited by the lessons of society. Many a girl who had been accustomed to that too great tenderness in which Laura’s early life had been passed, would have been unfitted for the changed existence which she now had to lead. Helen worshipped her two children, and thought, as home-bred women will, that all the world was made for them, or to be considered after them. She tended Laura with a watchfulness of affection which never left her. If she had a headache, the widow was as alarmed as if there had never been an aching head before in the world. She slept and woke, read and moved under her mother’s fond superintendence, which was now withdrawn from her, along with the tender creature whose anxious heart would beat no more. And painful moments of grief and depression no doubt Laura had, when she stood in the great careless world alone. Nobody heeded her griefs or her solitude. She was not quite the equal, in social rank, of the lady whose companion she was, or of the friends and relatives of the imperious, but kind old dowager. Some very likely bore her no goodwill — some, perhaps, slighted her: it might have been that servants were occasionally rude; their mistress certainly was often. Laura not seldom found herself in family meetings, the confidence and familiarity of which she felt were interrupted by her intrusion; and her sensitiveness of course was wounded at the idea that she should give or feel this annoyance. How many governesses are there in the world, thought cheerful Laura — how many ladies, whose necessities make them slaves and companions by profession! What bad tempers and coarse unkindness have not these to encounter? How infinitely better my lot is with these really kind and affectionate people than that of thousands of unprotected girls! It was with this cordial spirit that our young lady adapted herself to her new position; and went in advance of her fortune with a trustful smile.

Did you ever know a person who met Fortune in that way, whom the goddess did not regard kindly? Are not even bad people won by a constant cheerfulness and a pure and affectionate heart? When the babes in the wood, in the ballad, looked up fondly and trustfully at those notorious rogues whom their uncle had set to make away with the little folks, we all know how one of the rascals relented, and made away with the other — not having the heart to be unkind to so much innocence and beauty. Oh, happy they who have that virgin loving trust and sweet smiling confidence in the world, and fear no evil because they think none! Miss Laura Bell was one of these fortunate persons; and besides the gentle widow’s little cross, which, as we have seen, Pen gave her, had such a sparkling and brilliant kohinoor in her bosom, as is even more precious than that famous jewel; for it not only fetches a price, and is retained, by its owner in another world where diamonds are stated to be of no value, but here, too, is of inestimable worth to its possessor; is a talisman against evil, and lightens up the darkness of life, like Cogia Hassan’s famous stone.

So that before Miss Bell had been a year in Lady Rockminster’s house, there was not a single person in it whose love she had not won by the use of this talisman. From the old lady to the lowest dependent of her bounty, Laura had secured the goodwill and kindness of everybody. With a mistress of such a temper, my Lady’s woman (who had endured her mistress for forty years, and had been clawed and scolded and jibed every day and night in that space of time) could not be expected to have a good temper of her own; and was at first angry against Miss Laura, as she had been against her Ladyship’s fifteen preceding companions. But when Laura was ill at Paris, this old woman nursed her in spite of her mistress, who was afraid of catching the fever, and absolutely fought for her medicine with Martha from Fairoaks, now advanced to be Miss Laura’s own maid. As she was recovering, Grandjean the chef wanted to kill her by the numbers of delicacies which he dressed for her, and wept when she ate her first slice of chicken. The Swiss major-domo of the house celebrated Miss Bell’s praises in almost every European language, which he spoke with indifferent incorrectness; the coachman was happy to drive her out; the page cried when he heard she was ill; and Calverley and Coldstream (those two footmen, so large, so calm ordinarily, and so difficult to move) broke out into extraordinary hilarity at the news of her convalescence, and intoxicated the page at a wine-shop, to fete Laura’s recovery. Even Lady Diana Pynsent (our former acquaintance Mr. Pynsent had married by this time), Lady Diana, who had had a considerable dislike to Laura for some time, was so enthusiastic as to say that she thought Miss Bell was a very agreeable person, and that grandmamma had found a great trouvaille in her. All this goodwill and kindness Laura had acquired, not by any arts, not by any flattery, but by the simple force of good-nature, and by the blessed gift of pleasing and being pleased.

On the one or two occasions when he had seen Lady Rockminster, the old lady, who did not admire him, had been very pitiless and abrupt with our young friend, and perhaps Pen expected when he came to Baymouth to find Laura installed in her house in the quality of humble companion, and treated no better than himself. When she heard of his arrival she came running downstairs, and I am not sure that she did not embrace him in the presence of Calverley and Coldstream: not that those gentlemen ever told: if the fractus orbis had come to a smash, if Laura, instead of kissing Pen, had taken her scissors and snipped off his head — Calverley and Coldstream would have looked on impavidly, without allowing a grain of powder to be disturbed by the calamity.

Laura had so much improved in health and looks that Pen could not but admire her. The frank and kind eyes which met his, beamed with good-health; the cheek which he kissed blushed with beauty. As he looked at her, artless and graceful, pure and candid, he thought he had never seen her so beautiful. Why should he remark her beauty now so much, and remark too to himself that he had not remarked it sooner? He took her fair trustful hand and kissed it fondly: he looked in her bright clear eyes, and read in them that kindling welcome which he was always sure to find there. He was affected and touched by the tender tone and the pure sparkling glance; their innocence smote him somehow and moved him.

“How good you are to me, Laura — sister!” said Pen; “I don’t deserve that you should — that you should be so kind to me.”

“Mamma left you to me,” she said, stooping down and brushing his forehead with her lips hastily. “You know you were to come to me when you were in trouble, or to tell me when you were very happy: that was our compact, Arthur, last year, before we parted. Are you very happy now, or are you in trouble — which is it?” and she looked at him with an arch glance of kindness. “Do you like going into Parliament! Do you intend to distinguish yourself there? How I shall tremble for your first speech!”

“Do you know about the Parliament plan, then?” Pen asked.

“Know? — all the world knows! I have heard it talked about many times. Lady Rockminster’s doctor talked about it today. I daresay it will be in the Chatteris paper tomorrow. It is all over the county that Sir Francis Clavering, of Clavering, is going to retire, in behalf of Mr. Arthur Pendennis, of Fairoaks; and that the young and beautiful Miss Blanche Amory is ——”

“What! that too?” asked Pendennis.

“That, too, dear Arthur. Tout se sait, as somebody would say, whom I intend to be very fond of; and who I am sure is very clever and pretty. I have had a letter from Blanche. The kindest of letters. She speaks so warmly of you, Arthur! I hope — I know she feels what she writes. — When is it to be, Arthur? Why did you not tell me? I may come and live with you then, mayn’t I?”

“My home is yours, dear Laura, and everything I have,” Pen said. “If I did not tell you, it was because — because — I do not know: nothing is decided as yet. No words have passed between us. But you think Blanche could be happy with me — don’t you? Not a romantic fondness, you know. I have no heart, I think; I’ve told her so: only a sober-sided attachment:— and want my wife on one side of the fire and my sister on the other — Parliament in the session and Fairoaks in the holidays, and my Laura never to leave me until somebody who has a right comes to take her away.”

Somebody who has a right — somebody with a right! Why did Pen, as he looked at the girl and slowly uttered the words, begin to feel angry and jealous of the invisible somebody with the right to take her away? Anxious, but a minute ago, how she would take the news regarding his probable arrangements with Blanche, Pen was hurt somehow that she received the intelligence so easily, and took his happiness for granted.

“Until somebody comes,” Laura said, with a laugh, “I will stay at home and be aunt Laura, and take care of the children when Blanche is in the world. I have arranged it all. I am an excellent housekeeper. Do you know I have been to market at Paris with Mrs. Beck, and have taken some lessons from M. Grandjean? And I have had some lessons in Paris in singing too, with the money which you sent me, you kind boy: and I can sing much better now: and I have learned to dance, though not so well as Blanche; and when you become a minister of state, Blanche shall present me:” and with this, and with a provoking good-humour, she performed for him the last Parisian curtsey.

Lady Rockminster came in whilst this curtsey was being performed, and gave to Arthur one finger to shake; which he took, and over which he bowed as well as he could, which, in truth, was very clumsily.

“So you are going to be married, sir,” said the old lady.

“Scold him, Lady Rockminster, for not telling us,” Laura said, going away: which, in truth, the old lady began instantly to do. “So you are going to marry, and to go into Parliament in place of that good-for-nothing Sir Francis Clavering. I wanted him to give my grandson his seat — why did he not give my grandson his seat? I hope you are to have a great deal of money with Miss Amory. I wouldn’t take her without a great deal.”

“Sir Francis Clavering is tired of Parliament,” Pen said, wincing, “and — and I rather wish to attempt that career. The rest of the story is at least premature.”

“I wonder, when you had Laura at home, you could take up with such an affected little creature as that,” the old lady continued.

“I am very sorry Miss Amory does not please your ladyship,” said Pen, smiling.

“You mean — that it is no affair of mine, and that I am not going to marry her. Well, I’m not, and I’m very glad I am not — a little odious thing — when I think that a man could prefer her to my Laura, I’ve no patience with him, and so I tell you, Mr. Arthur Pendennis.”

“I am very glad you see Laura with such favourable eyes,” Pen said.

“You are very glad, and you are very sorry. What does it matter, sir, whether you are very glad or very sorry? A young man who prefers Miss Amory to Miss Bell has no business to be sorry or glad. A young man who takes up with such a crooked lump of affectation as that little Amory — for she is crooked, I tell you she is — after seeing my Laura, has no right to hold up his head again. Where is your friend Bluebeard? The tall young man, I mean — Warrington, isn’t his name? Why does he not come down, and marry Laura? What do the young men mean by not marrying such a girl as that? They all marry for money now. You are all selfish and cowards. We ran away with each other, and made foolish matches in my time. I have no patience with the young men! When I was at Paris in the winter, I asked all the three attaches at the Embassy why they did not fall in love with Miss Bell? They laughed — they said they wanted money. You are all selfish — you are all cowards.”

“I hope before you offered Miss Bell to the attaches,” said Pen, with some heat, “you did her the favour to consult her?”

“Miss Bell has only a little money. Miss Bell must marry soon. Somebody must make a match for her, sir; and a girl can’t offer herself,” said the old dowager, with great state. “Laura, my dear, I’ve been telling your cousin that all the young men are selfish; and that there is not a pennyworth of romance left among them. He is as bad as the rest.”

“Have you been asking Arthur why he won’t marry me?” said Laura, with a kindling smile, coming back and taking her cousin’s hand. (She had been away, perhaps, to hide some traces of emotion, which she did not wish others to see.) “He is going to marry somebody else; and I intend to be very fond of her, and to go and live with them, provided he then does not ask every bachelor who comes to his house, why he does not marry me?”

The terrors of Pen’s conscience being thus appeased, and his examination before Laura over without any reproaches on the part of the latter, Pen began to find that his duty and inclination led him constantly to Baymouth, where Lady Rockminster informed him that a place was always reserved for him at her table. “And I recommend you to come often,” the old lady said, “for Grandjean is an excellent cook, and to be with Laura and me will do your manners good. It is easy to see that you are always thinking about yourself. Don’t blush and stammer — almost all young men are always thinking about themselves. My sons and grandsons always were until I cured them. Come here, and let us teach you to behave properly; you will not have to carve, that is done at the side-table. Hecker will give you as much wine as is good for you; and on days when you are very good and amusing you shall have some champagne. Hecker, mind what I say. Mr. Pendennis is Miss Laura’s brother; and you will make him comfortable, and see that he does not have too much wine, or disturb me whilst I am taking my nap after dinner. You are selfish: I intend to cure you of being selfish. You will dine here when you have no other engagements; and if it rains you had better put up at the hotel.” As long as the good lady could order everybody round about her, she was not hard to please; and all the slaves and subjects of her little dowager court trembled before her, but loved her.

She did not receive a very numerous or brilliant society. The doctor, of course, was admitted as a constant and faithful visitor; the vicar and his curate; and on public days the vicar’s wife and daughters, and some of the season visitors at Baymouth, were received at the old lady’s entertainments: but generally the company was a small one, and Mr. Arthur drank his wine by himself, when Lady Rockminster retired to take her doze, and to be played and sung to sleep by Laura after dinner.

“If my music can give her a nap,” said the good-natured girl, “ought I not to be very glad that it can do so much good? Lady Rockminster sleeps very little of nights: and I used to read to her until I fell ill at Paris, since when she will not hear of my sitting up.”

“Why did you not write to me when you were ill?” asked Pen, with a blush.

“What good could you do me? I had Martha to nurse me and the doctor every day. You are too busy to write to women or to think about them. You have your books and your newspapers, and your politics and your railroads to occupy you. I wrote when I was well.”

And Pen looked at her, and blushed again, as he remembered that, during all the time of her illness, he had never written to her and had scarcely thought about her.

In consequence of his relationship, Pen was free to walk and ride with his cousin constantly, and in the course of those walks and rides, could appreciate the sweet frankness of her disposition, and the truth, simplicity, and kindliness of her fair and spotless heart. In their mother’s lifetime, she had never spoken so openly or so cordially as now. The desire of poor Helen to make an union between her two children, had caused a reserve on Laura’s part towards Pen; for which, under the altered circumstances of Arthur’s life, there was now no necessity. He was engaged to another woman; and Laura became his sister at once — hiding, or banishing from herself, any doubts which she might have as to his choice; striving to look cheerfully forward, and hope for his prosperity; promising herself to do all that affection might do to make her mother’s darling happy.

Their talk was often about the departed mother. And it was from a thousand stories which Laura told him that Arthur was made aware how constant and absorbing that silent maternal devotion had been; which had accompanied him present and absent through life, and had only ended with the fond widow’s last breath. One day the people in Clavering saw a lad in charge of a couple of horses at the churchyard-gate: and it was told over the place that Pen and Laura had visited Helen’s grave together. Since Arthur had come down into the country, he had been there once or twice: but the sight of the sacred stone had brought no consolation to him. A guilty man doing a guilty deed: a mere speculator, content to lay down his faith and honour for a fortune and a worldly career; and owning that his life was but a contemptible surrender — what right had he in the holy place? what booted it to him in the world he lived in, that others were no better than himself? Arthur and Laura rode by the gates of Fairoaks; and he shook hands with his tenant’s children, playing on the lawn and the terrace — Laura looked steadily at the cottage wall, at the creeper on the porch and the magnolia growing up to her window. “Mr. Pendennis rode by today,” one of the boys told his mother, “with a lady, and he stopped and talked to us, and he asked for a bit of honeysuckle off the porch, and gave it the lady. I couldn’t see if she was pretty; she had her veil down. She was riding one of Cramp’s horses, out of Baymouth.”

As they rode over the downs between home and Baymouth, Pen did not speak much, though they rode very close together. He was thinking what a mockery life was, and how men refuse happiness when they may have it; or, having it, kick it down; or barter it, with their eyes open, for a little worthless money or beggarly honour. And then the thought came, what does it matter for the little space? The lives of the best and purest of us are consumed in a vain desire, and end in a disappointment: as the dear soul’s who sleeps in her grave yonder. She had her selfish ambition, as much as Caesar had; and died, baulked of her life’s longing. The stone covers over our hopes and our memories. Our place knows us not. “Other people’s children are playing on the grass,” he broke out, in a hard voice, “where you and I used to play, Laura. And you see how the magnolia we planted has grown up since our time. I have been round to one or two of the cottages where my mother used to visit. It is scarcely more than a year that she is gone, and the people whom she used to benefit care no more for her death than for Queen Anne’s. We are all selfish: the world is selfish: there are but a few exceptions, like you, my dear, to shine like good deeds in a naughty world, and make the blackness more dismal.”

“I wish you would not speak in that way, Arthur,” said Laura, looking down and bending her head to the honeysuckle on her breast. “When you told the little boy to give me this, you were not selfish.”

“A pretty sacrifice I made to get it for you!” said the sneerer.

“But your heart was kind and full of love when you did so. One cannot ask for more than love and kindness; and if you think humbly of yourself Arthur, the love and kindness are — diminished — are they? I often thought our dearest mother spoiled you at home, by worshipping you; and that if you are — I hate the word — what you say, her too great fondness helped to make you so. And as for the world, when men go out into it, I suppose they cannot be otherwise than selfish. You have to fight for yourself, and to get on for yourself, and to make a name for yourself. Mamma and your uncle both encouraged you in this ambition. If it is a vain thing, why pursue it? I suppose such a clever man as you intend to do a great deal of good to the country, by going into Parliament, or you would not wish to be there. What are you going to do when you are in the House of Commons?”

“Women don’t understand about politics, my dear,” Pen said sneering at himself as he spoke.

“But why don’t you make us understand? I could never tell about Mr. Pynsent why he should like to be there so much. He is not a clever man ——”

“He certainly is not a genius, Pynsent,” said Pen.

“Lady Diana says that he attends Committees all day; that then again he is at the House all night; that he always votes as he is told; that he never speaks; that he will never get on beyond a subordinate place; and as his grandmother tells him, he is choked with red-tape. Are you going to follow the same career; Arthur? What is there in it so brilliant that you should be so eager for it? I would rather that you should stop at home, and write books — good books, kind books, with gentle kind thoughts, such as you have, dear Arthur, and such as might do people good to read. And if you do not win fame, what then? You own it is vanity, and you can live very happily without it. I must not pretend to advise; but I take you at your own word about the world; and as you own it is wicked, and that it tires you, ask you why you don’t leave it?”

“And what would you have me do?” asked Arthur.

“I would have you bring your wife to Fairoaks to live there, and study, and do good round about you. I would like to see your own children playing on the lawn, Arthur, and that we might pray in our mother’s church again once more, dear brother. If the world is a temptation, are we not told to pray that we may not be led into it?”

“Do you think Blanche would make a good wife for a petty country gentleman? Do you think I should become the character very well, Laura?” Pen asked. “Remember temptation walks about the hedgerows as well as the city streets: and idleness is the greatest tempter of all.”

“What does — does Mr. Warrington say?” said Laura, as a blush mounted up to her cheek, and of which Pen saw the fervour, though Laura’s veil fell over her face to hide it.

Pen rode on by Laura’s side silently for a while. George’s name so mentioned brought back the past to him, and the thoughts which he had once had regarding George and Laura. Why should the recurrence of the thought agitate him, now that he knew the union was impossible? Why should he be curious to know if, during the months of their intimacy, Laura had felt a regard for Warrington? From that day until the present time George had never alluded to his story, and Arthur remembered now that since then George had scarcely ever mentioned Laura’s name.

At last he cane close to her. “Tell me something, Laura,” he said.

She put back her veil and looked at him. “What is it, Arthur?” she asked — though from the tremor of her voice she guessed very well.

“Tell me — but for George’s misfortune — I never knew him speak of it before or since that day — would you — would you have given him — what you refused me?”

“Yes, Pen,” she said, bursting into tears,

“He deserved you better than I did,” poor Arthur groaned forth, with an indescribable pang at his heart. “I am but a selfish wretch, and George is better, nobler, truer, than I am. God bless him!”

“Yes, Pen,” said Laura, reaching out her hand to her cousin, and he put his arm round her, and for a moment she sobbed on his shoulder.

The gentle girl had had her secret, and told it. In the widow’s last journey from Fairoaks, when hastening with her mother to Arthur’s sick-bed, Laura had made a different confession; and it was only when Warrington told his own story, and described the hopeless condition of his life, that she discovered how much her feelings had changed, and with what tender sympathy, with what great respect, delight, and admiration she had grown to regard her cousin’s friend. Until she knew that some plans she might have dreamed of were impossible, and that Warrington, reading in her heart, perhaps, had told his melancholy story to warn her, she had not asked herself whether it was possible that her affections could change; and had been shocked and seared by the discovery of the truth. How should she have told it to Helen, and confessed her shame? Poor Laura felt guilty before her friend, with the secret which she dared not confide to her; felt as if she had been ungrateful for Helen’s love and regard; felt as if she had been wickedly faithless to Pen in withdrawing that love from him which he did not even care to accept; humbled even and repentant before Warrington, lest she should have encouraged him by undue sympathy, or shown the preference which she began to feel.

The catastrophe which broke up Laura’s home, and the grief and anguish which she felt for her mother’s death, gave her little leisure for thoughts more selfish; and by the time she rallied from that grief the minor one was also almost cured. It was but for a moment that she had indulged a hope about Warrington. Her admiration and respect for him remained as strong as ever. But the tender feeling with which she knew she had regarded him, was schooled into such calmness, that it may be said to have been dead and passed away. The pang which it left behind was one of humility and remorse. “Oh, how wicked and proud I was about Arthur,” she thought, “how self-confident and unforgiving! I never forgave from my heart this poor girl, who was fond of him, or him for encouraging her love; and I have been more guilty than she, poor, little, artless creature! I, professing to love one man, could listen to another only too eagerly; and would not pardon the change of feelings in Arthur, whilst I myself was changing and unfaithful:” And so humiliating herself, and acknowledging her weakness, the poor girl sought for strength and refuge in the manner in which she had been accustomed to look for them.

She had done no wrong: but there are some folks who suffer for a fault ever so trifling as much as others whose stout consciences can walk under crimes of almost any weight; and poor Laura chose to fancy that she had acted in this delicate juncture of her life as a very great criminal. She determined that she had done Pen a great injury by withdrawing that love which, privately in her mother’s hearing, she had bestowed upon him; that she had been ungrateful to her dead benefactress by ever allowing herself to think of another or of violating her promise; and that, considering her own enormous crimes, she ought to be very gentle in judging those of others, whose temptations were much greater, very likely, and whose motives she could not understand.

A year back Laura would have been indignant at the idea that Arthur should marry Blanche: and her high spirit would have risen, as she thought that from worldly motives he should stoop to one so unworthy. Now when the news was brought to her of such a chance (the intelligence was given to her by old Lady Rockminster, whose speeches were as direct and rapid as a slap on the face), the humbled girl winced a little at the blow, but bore it meekly, and with a desperate acquiescence. “He has a right to marry, he knows a great deal more of the world than I do,” she argued with herself. “Blanche may not be so light-minded as she seemed, and who am I to be her judge? I daresay it is very good that Arthur should go into Parliament and distinguish himself, and my duty is to do everything that lies in my power to aid him and Blanche, and to make his home happy. I daresay I shall live with them. If I am godmother to one of their children, I will leave her my three thousand pounds!” And forthwith she began to think what she could give Blanche out of her small treasures, and how best to conciliate her affection. She wrote her forthwith a kind letter, in which, of course, no mention was made of the plans in contemplation, but in which Laura recalled old times, and spoke her goodwill, and in reply to this she received an eager answer from Blanche: in which not a word about marriage was said, to be sure, but Mr. Pendennis was mentioned two or three times in the letter, and they were to be henceforth, dearest Laura, and dearest Blanche, and loving sisters, and so forth.

When Pen and Laura reached home, after Laura’s confession (Pen’s noble acknowledgment of his own inferiority and generous expression of love for Warrington, causing the girl’s heart to throb, and rendering doubly keen those tears which she sobbed on his shoulder), a little slim letter was awaiting Miss Bell in the hall, which she trembled rather guiltily as she unsealed, and which Pen blushed as he recognised: for he saw instantly that it was from Blanche.

Laura opened it hastily, and cast her eyes quickly over it, as Pen kept his fixed on her, blushing.

“She dates from London,” Laura said. “She has been with old Bonner, Lady Clavering’s maid. Bonner is going to marry Lightfoot the butler. Where do you think Blanche has been?” she cried out eagerly.

“To Paris, to Scotland, to the Casino?”

“To Shepherd’s Inn, to see Fanny; but Fanny wasn’t there, and Blanche is going to leave a present for her. Isn’t it kind of her and thoughtful?” And she handed the letter to Pen, who read —

“‘I saw Madame Mere, who was scrubbing the room, and looked at me with very scrubby looks; but la belle Fanny was not au logis; and as I heard that she was in Captain Strong’s apartments, Bonner and I mounted au troisieme to see this famous beauty. Another disappointment — only the Chevalier Strong and a friend of his in the room: so we came away after all without seeing the enchanting Fanny.

“‘Je t’envoie mille et mille baisers. When will that horrid canvassing be over? Sleeves are worn, etc. etc. etc.’”

After dinner the doctor was reading the Times. “A young gentleman I attended when he was here some eight or nine years ago, has come into a fine fortune,” the doctor said. “I see here announced the death of John Henry Foker, Esq., of Logwood Hall, at Pau, in the Pyrenees, on the 15th ult.”

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