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

By William Makepeace Thackeray | Go to book overview
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annoyance, seemed to come out of this transaction in which the luckless boy had gaged: and she longed more than ever to see him out of Chatteris for a while, -- anywhere removed from the woman who had brought him into so much trouble.

Pen, when remonstrated with by this fond parent, and angrily rebuked by the Doctor for his violence and ferocious intentions, took the matter au grand sérieux, with the happy conceit and gravity of youth: said that he himself was very sorry for the affair, that the insult had come upon him without the slightest provocation on his part: that he would permit no man to insult him upon this head without vindicating his own honour, and appealing with great dignity to his uncle, asked whether he could have acted otherwise as a gentleman, than as he did in resenting the outrage offered to him and in offering satisfaction to the person chastised?

"Vous allez trop vile, my good sir," said the uncle, rather puzzled, for he had been indoctrinating his nephew with some of his own notions upon the point of honour -- old-world notions savouring of the camp and pistol a great deal more than our soberer opinions of the present day -- "between men of the world I don't say; but between two schoolboys, this sort of thing is ridiculous, my dear boy -- perfectly ridiculous."

"It is extremely wicked, and unlike my son," said Mrs. Pendennis, with tears in her eyes; and bewildered with the obstinacy of the boy.

Pen kissed her, and said with great pomposity, "Women, dear mother, don't understand these matters -- I put myself into Foker's hands -- I had no other course to pursue."

Major Pendennis grinned and shrugged his shoulders. The young ones were certainly making great progress, he thought. Mrs. Pendennis declared that that Foker was a wicked horrid little wretch, and was sure that he would lead her dear boy into mischief, if Pen went to the same College with him. "I have a great mind not to let him go at all," she said: and only that she remembered that the lad's father had always destined him for the College in which he had had his own brief education, very likely the fond mother would have put a veto upon his going to the University.

That he was to go, and at the next October term, had been arranged between all the authorities who presided over the lad's welfare. Foker had promised to introduce him to the right set; and Major Pendennis laid great store upon Pen's introduction into College life and society by this admirable young gentleman. "Mr. Foker knows the very best young men now at the University," the Major said, "and Pen will form acquaintances there who will be of the greatest advantage through life to him. The young Marquis of Plinlimmon is there, eldest son of the Duke of St. David's -- Lord Magnus Charters is there, Lord Runnymede's son, and a first cousin of Mr. Foker ( Lady Runnymede, my dear, was Lady Agatha Milton, you of course remember); Lady Agnes will certainly invite him to Logwood; and far from being alarmed at his intimacy with her son, who is a singular and humorous, but most prudent and amiable young man, to whom, I am sure, we are under every obligation for his admirable conduct in the affair of the Fotheringay marriage, I look upon it as one of the very luckiest things which could have happened to Pen, that he should have formed an intimacy with this most amusing young gentleman."

Helen sighed, she supposed the Major knew best. Mr. Foker had been very kind in the wretched business with Miss Costigan, certainly, and she was grateful to him. But she could not feel otherwise than a dim presentiment of evil; and all these quarrels, and riots, and worldliness scared her about the fate of her boy.

Doctor Portman was decidedly of opinion that Pen should go to College. He hoped the lad would read, and have a moderate indulgence of the best society too. He was of opinion that Pen would distinguish himself: Smirke spoke very highly of his proficiency: the Doctor himself had heard him construe, and thought he

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