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

By William Makepeace Thackeray | Go to book overview

marriage. Does my life deserve any? I begin a new phase of it; a better than the last may it be, I pray Heaven!"

The train stopped at Tunbridge as Pen was making these reflections: and he handed over the newspaper to his neighbour, of whom he took leave, while the foreign clergyman in the opposite corner still sate with his eyes on his book. Pen jumped out of the carriage then, his carpet-bag in hand, and briskly determined to face his fortune.

A fly carried him rapidly to Lady Clavering's house from the station; and, as he was transported thither, Arthur composed a little speech, which he intended to address to Blanche, and which was really as virtuous, honest, and well-minded an oration as any man of his turn of mind, and under his circumstances, could have uttered. The purport of it wasp -- " Blanche, I cannot understand from your last letter what your meaning is, or whether my fair and frank proposal to you is acceptable or no. I think you know the reason which induces me to forego the worldly advantages which a union with you offered, and which I could not accept without, as I fancy, being dishonoured. If you doubt of my affection, here I am ready to prove it. Let Smirke be called in, and let us be married out of hand; and with all my heart I purpose to keep my vow, and to cherish you through life, and to be a true and a loving husband to you."

From the fly Arthur sprang out then to the hall-door, where he was met by a domestic whom he did not know. The man seemed to be surprised at the approach of the gentleman with the carpet-bag, which he made no attempt to take from Arthur's hands. "Her Ladyship's not at home, sir," the man remarked.

"I am Mr. Pendennis," Arthur said. "Where is Lightfoot?"

"Lightfoot is gone," answered the man. "My Lady is out, and my orders was"----

"I hear Miss Amory's voice in the drawing-room," said Arthur. "Take the bag to a dressing-room, if you please;" and, passing by the porter, he walked straight towards that apartment, from which, as the door opened, a warble of melodious notes issued.

Our little Siren was at her piano, singing with all her might and fascinations. Master Clavering was sleeping on the sofa, indifferent to the music: but near Blanche sat a gentleman who was perfectly enraptured with her strain, which was of a passionate and melancholy nature.

As the door opened, the gentleman started up with a Hullo! the music stopped, with a little shriek from the singer; Frank Clavering woke up from the sofa, and Arthur came forward and said, "What, Foker! how do you do, Foker?" He looked at the piano, and there, by Miss Amory's side, was just such another purple-leather box as he had seen in Harry's hand three days before, when the heir of Logwood was coming out of a jeweller's shop in Waterloo Place. It was opened, and curled round the white satin cushion within was, oh, such a magnificent serpentine bracelet, with such a blazing ruby head and diamond tail!

"How de-do, Pendennis?" said Foker. Blanche made many motions of the shoulders, and gave signs of interest and agitation. And she put her handkerchief over the bracelet, and then she advanced, with a hand which trembled very much, to greet Pen.

"How is dearest Laura?" she said. The face of Foker looking up from his profound mourning -- that face, so piteous and puzzled, was one which the reader's imagination must depict for himself; also that of Master Frank Clavering, who, looking at the three interesting individuals with an expression of the utmost knowingness, had only time to ejaculate the words, "Here's a jolly go!" and to disappear sniggering.

Pen, too, had restrained himself up to that minute: but looking still at Foker, whose ears and cheeks tingled with blushes, Arthur burst out into a fit of laughter,

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