The History of Pendennis: His Fortunes and Misfortunes, His Friends and His Greatest Enemy

By William Makepeace Thackeray | Go to book overview

mitted to enjoy) would have been spoiled if he had met the man of the polished boots on that occasion. His modest love could not show in public by any outward signs, except the eyes (with which the poor fellow ogled and gazed violently to be sure), but it was dumb in the presence of third parties; and so much the better, for of all the talk which takes place in this world, that of love-makers is surely, to the uninitiated, th e most silly. It is the vocabulary without the key; it is the lamp without the flame. Let the respected reader look or think over some old love-letters that he (or she) has had and forgotten, and try them over again. How blank and meaningless they seem! What glamour of infatuation was it which made that nonsense beautiful? One wonders that such puling and trash could ever have made one happy. And yet there were days when you kissed those silly letters with rapture -- lived upon six absurd lines for a week, and until the reactionary period came, when you were restless and miserable until you got a fresh supply of folly.

That is why we decline to publish any of the letters and verses which Mr. Pen wrote at this period of his life, out of mere regard for the young fellow's character. They are too spooney and wild. Young ladies ought not to be called upon to read them in cold blood. Bide your time, young women; perhaps you will get and write them on your own account soon. Meanwhile we will respect Mr. Pen's first outpourings, and keep them tied up in the newspapers with Miss Fotheringay's string, and sealed with Captain Costigan's great silver seal.

The Major came away from his interview with Captain Costigan in a state of such concentrated fury as rendered him terrible to approach. "The impudent bog-trotting scamp," he thought, "dare to threaten me! Dare to talk of permitting his damned Costigans to marry with the Pendennises! Send me a challenge! If the fellow can get anything in the shape of a gentleman to carry it, I have the greatest mind in life not to balk him. -- Psha! what would people say if I were to go out with a tipsy mountebank, about a row with an actress in a barn!" So when the Major saw Dr. Portman, who asked anxiously regarding the issue of his battle with the dragon, Mr. Pendennis did not care to inform the divine of the General's insolent behaviour, but stated that the affair was a very ugly and disagreeable one, and that it was by no means over yet.

He enjoined Dr. and Mrs. Portman to say nothing about the business at Fairoaks; whither he contented himself with despatching the note we have before mentioned. And then he returned to his hotel, where he vented his wrath upon Mr. Morgan his valet, "dammin and cussin upstairs and downstairs," as that gentleman observed to Mr. Foker's man, in whose company he partook of dinner in the servants' room of the George.

The servant carried the news to his master; and Mr. Foker having finished his breakfast about this time, it being two o'clock in the afternoon, remembered that he was anxious to know the result of the interview between his two friends, and having inquired the number of the Major's sitting-room, went over in his brocade dressing-gown, and knocked for admission.

Major Pendennis had some business, as he had stated, respecting a lease of the widow's, about which he was desirous of consulting old Mr. Tatham, the lawyer, who had been his brother's man of business, and who had a branch office at Clavering, where he and his son attended market and other days, three or four in the week. This gentleman and his client were now in consultation when Mr. Foker showed his grand dressing-gown and embroidered skull-cap at Major Pendennis's door.

Seeing the Major engaged with papers and red-tape, and an old man with a white head, the modest youth was for drawing back -- and said, "Oh, you're busy -- call again another time." But Mr. Pendennis wanted to see him, and begged him, with a smile, to enter: whereupon Mr. Foker took off the embroidered tarboosh or fez (it had been worked by the fondest of mothers) and advanced, bowing

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