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

By William Makepeace Thackeray | Go to book overview

CHAPTER XXVI.
A HOUSE FULL OF VISITORS.

THE difference between the girls did not last long. Laura was always too eager to forgive and be forgiven, and as for Miss Blanche, her hostilities, never very long or durable, had not been provoked by the above scene. Nobody cares about being accused of wickedness. No vanity is hurt by that sort of charge: Blanche was rather pleased than provoked by her friend's indignation, which never would have been raised but for a cause which both knew, though neither spoke of.

And so Laura, with a sigh, was obliged to confess that the romantic part of her first friendship was at an end, and that thobject of it was only worthy of a very ordinary sort of regard.

As for Blanche, she instantly composed a copy of touching verses, setting forth her desertion and disenchantment. It was only the old story, she wrote, of love meeting with coldness, and fidelity returned by neglect; and some new neighbours arriving from London about this time, in whose family there were daughters, Miss Amory had the advantage of selecting an eternal friend from one of these young ladies, and imparting her sorrows and disappointments to this new sister. The tall footman came but seldom now with notes to the sweet Laura; the pony carriage was but rarely despatched to Fairoaks to be at the orders of the ladies there. Blanche adopted a sweet look of suffering martyrdom when Laura came to see her. The other laughed at her friend's sentimental mood, and treated it with a good humour that was by no means respectful.

But if Miss Blanche found new female friends to console her, the faithful historian is also bound to say, that she discovered some acquaintances of the other sex who seemed to give her consolation too. If ever this artless young creature met a young man, and had ten minutes' conversation with him in a garden walk, in a drawing-room window, or in the intervals of a waltz, she confided in him, so to speak -- made play with her beautiful eyes -- spoke in a tone of tender interest, and simple and touching appeal, and left him, to perform the same pretty little drama in behalf of his successor.

When the Claverings first came down to the Park, there were very few audiences before whom Miss Blanche could perform: hence Pen had all the benefits of her glances, and confidences, and the drawing-room window, or the garden walk all to himself. In the town of Clavering, it has been said, there were actually no young men: in the near surrounding country only a curate or two, or a rustic young squire, with large feet and ill-made clothes. To the dragoons quartered at Chatteris the Baronet made no overtures: it was unluckily his own regiment: he had left it on bad terms with some officers of the corps -- an ugly business about a horse bargain -- a disputed play account at blind-Hookey -- a white feather -- who need ask? -- it is not our business to inquire too closely into the bygones of our characters, except in so far as their previous history appertains to the development of this present story.

But the autumn, and the end of the Parliament Session, and the London season, brought one or two county families down to their houses, and filled tolerably the neighbouring little watering-place at Baymouth, and opened our friend Mr. Bingley's Theatre Royal at Chatteris, and collected the usual company at the Assizes and Race-balls there. Up to this time, the old county families had been rather shy of our friends of Clavering Park. The Fogeys of Drummington; the Squares of Dozley Park; the Welbores of The Barrow, &c. All sorts of stories were current among these folks regarding the family at Clavering; -- indeed, nobody ought to say that people in the country have no imagination, who heard them talk about new neighbours. About Sir Francis and his lady, and her birth and

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