Boys and Girls from Thackeray - K. D. Sweetser

Arthur Pendennis

Early in the Regency of George the Magnificent there lived in a small town in the west of England, called Clavering, a gentleman whose name was Pendennis. At an earlier date Mr. Pendennis had exercised the profession of apothecary and surgeon, and had even condescended to sell a plaster across the counter of his humble shop, or to vend tooth-brushes, hair-powder, and London perfumery. And yet that little apothecary was a gentleman with good education, and of as old a family as any in the county of Somerset. He had a Cornish pedigree which carried the Pendennises back to the time of the Druids. He had had a piece of University education, and might have pursued that career with honour, but in his second year at Oxford his father died insolvent, and he was obliged to betake himself to the trade which he always detested. For some time he had a hard struggle with poverty, but his manners were so gentleman-like and soothing that he was called in to prescribe for some of the ladies in the best families of Bath. Then his humble little shop became a smart one; then he shut it up altogether; then he had a gig with a man to drive in; and before she died his poor old mother had the happiness of seeing her beloved son step into a close carriage of his own; with the arms of the family of Pendennis handsomely emblazoned on the panels. He married Miss Helen Thistlewood, a very distant relative of the noble family of Bareacres, having met that young lady under Lady Pentypool's roof.

The secret ambition of Mr. Pendennis had always been to be a gentleman. By prudence and economy, his income was largely increased, and finally he sold his business for a handsome sum, and retired forever from handling of the mortar and pestle, having purchased as a home the house of Fair-Oaks, nearly a mile out of Clavering.

The estate was a beautiful one, and Arthur Pendennis, his son, being then but eight years of age, dated his earliest recollections from that place.

Fair-Oaks lawn comes down to the little river Brawl, and on the other side were the plantations and woods of Clavering Park. The park was let out in pasture when the Pendennises came first to live at Fair-Oaks. Shutters were up in the house; a splendid free stone palace, with great stairs, statues and porticos. Sir Richard Clavering, Sir Francis's grandfather, had commenced the ruin of the family by the building of this palace: his successor had achieved the ruin by living in it. The present Sir Francis was abroad somewhere, and until now nobody could be found rich enough to rent that enormous mansion; through the deserted rooms, mouldy, clanking halls, and dismal galleries of which Arthur Pendennis many a time walked trembling when he was a boy. At sunset from the lawn of Fair-Oaks there was a pretty sight: it and the opposite park of Clavering were in the habit of putting on a rich golden tinge, which became them both wonderfully. The upper windows of the great house flamed so as to make your eyes wink; the little river ran off noisily westward and was lost in sombre wood, behind which the towers of the old abbey church of Clavering (whereby that town is called Clavering St. Mary's to the present day) rose up in purple splendour. Little Arthur's figure and his mother's cast long blue shadows over the grass: and he would repeat in a low voice (for a scene of great natural beauty always moved the boy, who inherited this sensibility from his mother) certain lines beginning, "These are thy glorious works. Parent of Good; Almighty! thine this universal frame," greatly to Mrs. Pendennis's delight. Such walks and conversation generally ended in a profusion of filial and maternal embraces; for to love and to pray were the main occupations of this dear woman's life; and I have often heard Pendennis say in his wild way, that he felt that he was sure of going to heaven, for his mother never could be happy there without him.

As for John Pendennis, as the father of the family, and that sort of thing, everybody had the greatest respect for him: and his orders were obeyed like those of the Medes and Persians. His hat was as well brushed perhaps as that of any man in this empire. His meals were served at the same minute every day, and woe to those who came late, as little Pen, a disorderly little rascal, sometimes did. Prayers were recited, his letters were read, his business despatched, his stables and garden inspected, his hen-houses and kennel, his barn and pig-sty visited, always at regular hours. After dinner he always had a nap with the Globe newspaper on his knee, and his yellow bandanna handkerchief on his face. And so, as his dinner took place at six o'clock to a minute, and the sunset business alluded to may be supposed to have occurred at half-past seven, it is probable that he did not much care for the view in front of his lawn windows, or take any share in the poetry and caresses which were taking place there.

They seldom occurred in his presence. However frisky they were before, mother and child were hushed and quiet when Mr. Pendennis walked into the drawing-room, his newspaper under his arm. And here, while little Pen, buried in a great chair, read all the books on which he could lay hold, the Squire perused his own articles in the Gardener's Gazette, or took a solemn hand at piquet with Mrs. Pendennis, or an occasional friend from the village.

As for Mrs. Pendennis, she was conspicuous for her tranquil beauty, her natural sweetness and kindness, and that simplicity and dignity which purity and innocence are sure to bestow upon a handsome woman, and during her son's childhood and youth the boy thought of her as little less than an angel, a supernatural being, all wisdom, love and beauty. But Mrs. Pendennis had one weakness,—pride of family. She spoke of Mr. Pendennis as if he had been the Pope of Rome on his throne, and she a cardinal kneeling at his feet, and giving him incense. Mr. Pendennis's brother, the Major, she held to be a sort of Bayard among Majors, and as for her son Arthur, she worshipped that youth with an ardour which the young scapegrace accepted almost as coolly as the statue of the saint in St. Peter's receives the rapturous kisses which the faithful deliver on his toe.

Notwithstanding his mother's worship of him, Arthur Pendennis's school-fellows at the Grey Friars School state that as a boy he was in no way remarkable either as a dunce or as a scholar. He never read to improve himself out of school-hours, but on the contrary devoured all the novels, plays and poetry he could get hold of. He never was flogged, but it was a wonder how he escaped the whippingpost. When he had money he spent it royally in tarts for himself and his friends, and had been known to disburse nine and sixpence out of ten shillings awarded to him in a single day. When he had no funds he went on tick. When he could get no credit he went without, and was almost as happy. He had been known to take a thrashing for a crony without saying a word; but a blow ever so slight from a friend would make him roar. To fighting he was averse from his earliest youth, and indeed to physic, the Greek Grammar, or any other exertion, and would engage in none of them, except at the last extremity. He seldom if ever told lies, and never bullied little boys. Those masters or seniors who were kind to him, he loved with boyish ardour. And though the Doctor, when he did not know his Horace, or could not construe his Greek play, said that that boy Pendennis was a disgrace to the school, a candidate for ruin in this world, and perdition in the next; a profligate who would most likely bring his venerable father to ruin and his mother to a dishonoured grave, and the like—yet as the Doctor made use of these compliments to most of the boys in the place, little Pen, at first uneasy and terrified by these charges, became gradually accustomed to hear them; and he has not, in fact, either murdered his parents or committed any act worthy of transportation or hanging up to the present day.

Thus with various diversions and occupations his school days passed until he was about sixteen years old, when he was suddenly called away from his academic studies.

It was at the close of the forenoon school, and Pen had been unnoticed all the previous part of the morning till now, when the Doctor put him on to construe in a Greek play. He did not know a word of it, though little Timmins, his form-fellow, was prompting him with all his might. Pen had made a sad blunder or two, when the awful chief broke out upon him.

"Pendennis, sir," he said, "your idleness is incorrigible and your stupidity beyond example. You are a disgrace to your school, and to your family, and I have no doubt will prove so in after-life to your country. If that vice, sir, which is described to us as the root of all evil, be really what moralists have represented, what a prodigious quantity of future crime and wickedness are you, unhappy boy, laying the seed! Miserable trifler! A boy, sir, who does not learn his Greek play cheats the parent who spends money for his education. A boy who cheats his parent is not very far from robbing or forging upon his neighbour. A man who forges on his neighbour pays the penalty of his crime at the gallows. And it is not such a one that I pity, for he will be deservedly cut off, but his maddened and heartbroken parents, who are driven to a premature grave by his crimes, or, if they live, drag on a wretched and dishonoured old age. Go on, sir, and I warn you that the very next mistake that you make shall subject you to the punishment of the rod. Who's that laughing? What ill-conditioned boy is there that dares to laugh?" shouted the Doctor.

Indeed, while the master was making this oration, there was a general titter behind him in the schoolroom. The orator had his back to the door of this ancient apartment, which was open, and a gentleman who was quite familiar with the place (for both Major Arthur, Pen's uncle, and Mr. John Pendennis had been at the school) was asking the fifth-form boy who sat by the door for Pendennis. The lad, grinning, pointed to the culprit against whom the Doctor was pouring out the thunders of his just wrath. Major Pendennis could not help laughing. He remembered having stood under that very pillar where Pen the younger now stood, and having been assaulted by the Doctor's predecessor years and years ago. The intelligence was "passed round" in an instant that it was Pendennis's uncle, and a hundred young faces, wondering and giggling, between terror and laughter, turned now to the newcomer and then to the awful Doctor.

The Major asked the fifth-form boy to carry his card up to the Doctor, which the lad did with an arch look. Major Pendennis had written on the card: "I must take A.P. home; his father is very ill."

As the Doctor received the card, and stopped his harangue with rather a scared look, the laughter of the boys, half constrained until then, burst out in a general shout. "Silence!" roared out the Doctor, stamping with his foot. Pen looked up and saw who was his deliverer; the Major beckoned to him gravely, and, tumbling down his books, Pen went across.

The Doctor took out his watch. It was two minutes to one. "We will take the Juvenal at afternoon school," he said, nodding to the Captain, and all the boys, understanding the signal, gathered up their books and poured out of the hall.

Young Pen saw by his uncle's face that something had happened at home. "Is there anything the matter with—my mother?" he said. He could hardly speak for emotion and the tears which were ready to start.

"No," said the Major, "but your father's very ill. Go and pack your trunk directly; I have got a post-chaise at the gate."

Pen went off quickly to his boarding-house to do as his uncle bade him; and the Doctor, now left alone in the schoolroom, came out to shake hands with the Major.

"There is nothing serious, I hope," said the Doctor. "It is a pity to take the boy otherwise. He is a good boy, rather idle and unenergetic, but an honest, gentleman-like little fellow, though I can't get him to construe as I wish. Won't you come in and have some luncheon? My wife will be very happy to see you."

But Major Pendennis declined the luncheon. He said his brother was very ill, and had had a fit the day before, and it was a great question if they should see him alive.

"There's no other son, is there?" said the Doctor. The Major answered "No."

"And there's a good eh—a good eh—property, I believe?" asked the other in an off-hand way.

"H'm—so-so," said the Major. Whereupon this colloquy came to an end. And Arthur Pendennis got into a post-chaise with his uncle, never to come back to school any more.

As the chaise drove through Clavering, the ostler standing whistling under the archway of the Clavering Arms winked to the postilion ominously, as much as to say all was over. The gardener's wife came and opened the lodge-gates and let the travellers through with a silent shake of the head. All the blinds were down at Fair-Oaks; and the face of the old footman was as blank when he let them in. Arthur's face was white, too, with terror more than with grief. Whatever of warmth and love the deceased man might have had, and he adored his wife, and loved and admired his son with all his heart, he had shut them up within himself; nor had the boy ever been able to penetrate that frigid outward barrier.

A little girl, who was Mrs. Pendennis's adopted daughter, the child of a dear old friend, peered for a moment under the blinds as the chaise came up, opened the door from the stairs into the hall, and there taking Arthur's hand silently as he stooped down to kiss her, led him upstairs to his mother. What passed between that lady and the boy is not of import; a veil should be thrown over those sacred emotions of love and grief.

As for Arthur Pendennis, after that awful shock which the sight of his dead father must have produced on him, and the pity and feeling which such an event no doubt occasioned, I am not sure that in the very moment of the grief, and as he embraced his mother and tenderly consoled her and promised to love her forever, there was not springing up in his breast a sort of secret triumph and exultation. He was the chief now and lord. He was Pendennis; and all round about him were his servants and handmaids.

"You'll never send me away," little Laura said, tripping by him and holding his hand. "You won't send me to school, will you, Arthur?"

Arthur kissed her and patted her head. No, she shouldn't go to school. As for going himself that was quite out of the question. He had determined that his life should be all holidays for the future; that he wouldn't get up till he liked, or stand the bullying of the Doctor any more; and made a hundred such day-dreams and resolves for the future. Then in due time they buried John Pendennis, Esquire, in the Abbey Church of Clavering St. Mary's, and Arthur Pendennis reigned in his stead.

Arthur was about sixteen years old when he began to reign; in person he had what his friends would call a dumpy, but his mamma styled, a neat little figure. His hair was of a healthy brown colour, which looked like gold in the sunshine. His face was round, rosy, freckled, and good-humoured. In fact, without being a beauty, he had such a frank, good-natured, kind face and laughed so merrily at you out of his honest blue eyes that no wonder Mrs. Pendennis thought him the pride of the whole country. You may be certain he never went back to school; the discipline of the establishment did not suit him, and he liked being at home much better. The question of his return was debated, and his uncle was for his going back. The Doctor wrote his opinion that it was most important for Arthur's success in after life that he should know a Greek play thoroughly, but Pen adroitly managed to hint to his mother what a dangerous place Grey Friars was, and what sad wild fellows some of the chaps there were, and the timid soul, taking alarm at once, acceded to his desire to stay at home.

Then Pen's uncle offered to use his influence with his Royal Highness, the Commander-in-Chief, to get Pen a commission in the Foot Guards. Pen's heart leaped at this: he had been to hear the band at St. James's play on a Sunday, when he went out to his uncle. He had seen Tom Ricketts, of the fourth form, who used to wear a jacket and trousers so ludicrously tight that the elder boys could not forbear using him in the quality of a butt or "cockshy"—he had seen this very Ricketts arrayed in crimson and gold, with an immense bearskin cap on his head, staggering under the colours of the regiment. Tom had recognised him and gave him a patronising nod—Tom, a little wretch whom he had cut over the back with a hockey-stick last quarter, and there he was in the centre of the square, rallying round the flag of his county, surrounded by bayonets, cross-belts, and scarlet, the band blowing trumpets and banging cymbals—talking familiarly to immense warriors with tufts to their chins and Waterloo medals. What would not Pen have given to enter such a service?

[Illustration] from Boys and Girls from Thackeray by K. D. Sweetser


But Helen Pendennis, when this point was proposed to her by her son, put on a face full of terror and alarm, and confessed that she should be very unhappy if he thought of entering the army. Now Pen would as soon have cut off his nose and ears as deliberately and of malice aforethought have made his mother unhappy; and as he was of such a generous disposition that he would give away anything to any one, he instantly made a present of his visionary red coat and epaulettes to his mother.

She thought him the noblest creature in the world. But Major Pendennis, when the offer of the commission was acknowledged and refused, wrote back a curt and somewhat angry letter to the widow, and thought his nephew was rather a spooney.

He was contented, however, when he saw the boy's performances out hunting at Christmas, when the Major came down as usual to Fair-Oaks. Pen had a very good mare, and rode her with uncommon pluck and grace. He took his fences with great coolness and judgment. He wrote to the chaps at school about his topboots, and his feats across country. He began to think seriously of a scarlet coat: and his mother must own that she thought it would become him remarkably well; though, of course, she passed hours of anguish during his absence, and daily expected to see him brought home on a shutter.

With these amusements, in rather too great plenty, it must not be assumed that Pen neglected his studies altogether. He had a natural taste for reading every possible kind of book which did not fall into his school course. It was only when they forced his head into the waters of knowledge that he refused to drink. He devoured all the books at home and ransacked the neighbouring book-cases. He found at Clavering an old cargo of French novels which he read with all his might; and he would sit for hours perched on the topmost bar of Dr. Portman's library steps with an old folio on his knees.

Mr. Smirke, Dr. Portman's curate, was engaged at a liberal salary to pass several hours daily with the young gentleman. He was a decent scholar and mathematician, and taught Pen as much as the lad was ever disposed to learn, which was not much. Pen soon took the measure of his tutor, who, when he came riding into the court-yard at Fair-Oaks on his pony, turned out his toes so absurdly, and left such a gap between his knees and the saddle, that it was impossible for any lad endowed with a sense of humour to respect such a rider. He nearly killed Smirke with terror by putting him on his mare, and taking him a ride over a common where the county fox-hounds happened to meet.

Smirke and his pupil read the ancient poets together, and rattled through them at a pleasant rate, very different from that steady grubbing pace with which he was obliged to go over the classis ground at Grey Friars, scenting out each word and digging up every root in the way. Pen never liked to halt, but made his tutor construe when he was at fault, and thus galloped through the Iliad and the Odyssey and the charming, wicked Aristophanes. But he went so fast that though he certainly galloped through a considerable extent of the ancient country, he clean forgot it in after life. Besides the ancient poets, Pen read the English with great gusto. Smirke sighed and shook his head sadly both about Byron and Moore. But Pen was a sworn fire-worshipper and a corsair; he had them by heart, and used to take little Laura into the window and say, "Zuleika, I am not thy brother," in tones so tragic that they caused the solemn little maid to open her great eyes still wider. She sat sewing at Mrs. Pendennis's knee, listening to Pen reading to her without understanding one word of what he said.

He read Shakespeare to his mother, and Byron and Pope, and his favourite "Lalla Rookh" and Bishop Heber and Mrs. Hemans, and about this period of his existence began to write verses of his own. He broke out in the poet's corner of the County Chronicle with some verses with which he was perfectly well satisfied. His are the verses signed NEP addressed "To a Tear," "On the Anniversary of the Battle of Waterloo," "On St. Bartholomew's Day," etc., etc., all of which masterpieces Mrs. Pendennis kept along with his first socks, the first cutting of his hair, his bottle and other interesting relics of his infancy. His genius at this time was of a decidedly gloomy cast. He brought his mother a tragedy in which, though he killed sixteen people before the second act, she laughed so that he thrust the masterpiece into the fire in a pet. He also projected an epic poem in blank verse, and several other classical pieces of a gloomy character, and was altogether of an intense and sentimental turn of mind quite in contrast with his practical and merry appearance. The sentimental side of his nature, fed by the productions of his favourite poets and fanned by the romantic temperament of his tutor, soon found an object to kindle the spark into a blaze, and a most unfortunate blaze for Pen.

While Mrs. Pendennis was planning her son's career and had not yet settled in her mind whether he was to be Senior Wrangler and Archbishop of Canterbury, or Double First Class at Oxford and Lord Chancellor, young Pen himself was starting out on quite a different career, which seemed destined to lead him in the opposite direction from that of his mother's day-dreams, who had made up her mind that in time he was to marry little Laura, settle in London and astonish that city by his learning and eloquence at the Bar; or, better still, in a sweet country parsonage surrounded by hollyhocks and roses close to a delightful, romantic, ivy-covered church, from the pulpit of which Pen would utter the most beautiful sermons ever preached.

While these plans and decisions were occupying his mother's thoughts, Pen was getting into mischief. One day he rode into Chatteris to carry to the County Chronicle a thrilling poem for the next week's paper; and while putting up his horse at the stables at the George hotel, he fell in with an old school-fellow, Mr. Foker, who after a desultory conversation with Pen strolled down High Street with him, and persuaded him not only to dine at the George with him, but to accompany him later to the theatre. Mr. Foker, who was something of a sport, was acquainted with the troupe who were then acting at that theatre, and the entire atmosphere was so new and exciting to Pen that his emotional nature, which had been waiting for many months for a sensational thrill, responded at once to the idea; and later on to the applause of pit and gallery, and to the personal magnetism of the heroine of the play, one Miss Fotheringay.

To Miss Fotheringay's attractions, natural and artificial, Pen responded at once, and sat in breathless enchanted silence through all the conversations and melodramatic situations of the mediocre performance. When the curtain went down he felt that he now had a subject to inspire his Muse forever. He quitted the theatre in a state of intense excitement, and rode homeward in a state of numb ecstasy. Notwithstanding his sentimental mood, Pen was so normal in mind and body that he slept as soundly as ever, but when he awoke he felt himself to be many years older than yesterday. He dressed himself in some of his finest clothes, and came down to breakfast, patronising his mother and little Laura, who wondered at his grand appearance, and asked him to tell her what the play was about.

Pen laughed and declined to tell her. Then she asked him why he had got on his fine pin and beautiful new waistcoat?

Pen blushed and said that Mr. Foker was reading with a tutor at Baymouth, a very learned man; and as he was himself to go to college he was anxious to ride over—and—just see what their course of reading was. The truth was Pen had resolved that he must see Foker that morning and find out all that was possible concerning the object of his last night's enthusiasm; and soon after breakfast he was on his horse galloping away towards Baymouth like a madman.

From that time the lad's chief object in life was visiting the theatre, or Miss Fotheringay herself, to whom he had speedily received an introduction; and although she was a young woman not at all conversant with the social side of life with which he was familiar, she was nevertheless fascinating to Pen, who saw her always in the glamour of lime lights and applause. It was not long before Mrs. Pendennis discovered the lad's new interest, which naturally disquieted her. Finally, however, for reasons of her own, she assented to Pen's suggestion that Miss Fotheringay was to appear as Ophelia in a benefit performance.

"Suppose we were to go—Shakespeare, you know, mother. We can get horses from the Clavering Arms," he said. Little Laura sprang up with delight; she longed for a play. The mother was delighted that Pen should suggest their going, and in her good-humour asked Mr. Smirke to be one of the party. They arrived at the theatre ahead of time, and were cordially saluted by Mr. Foker and a friend, who sat in a box near theirs. The young fellows saluted Pen cordially, and examined his party with approval; for little Laura was a pretty red-cheeked girl with a quantity of shining brown ringlets, and Mrs. Pendennis, dressed in black velvet, with a diamond cross which she wore on great occasions, looked uncommonly handsome and majestic.

"Who is that odd-looking person bowing to you, Arthur?" Mrs. Pendennis asked of her son, after a critical examination of the audience.

Pen blushed a great deal. "His name is Captain Costigan, ma'am," he said, "a Peninsular officer." Pen did not volunteer anything more; and how was Mrs. Pendennis to know that Mr. Costigan was the father of Miss Fotheringay?

We have nothing to do with the play except to say that Ophelia looked lovely, and performed with admirable wild pathos, laughing, weeping, gazing wildly, waving her beautiful white arms and flinging about her snatches of flowers and songs with the most charming madness. What an opportunity her splendid black hair had of tossing over her shoulders! She made the most charming corpse ever seen, and while Hamlet and Laertes were battling in her grave she was looking out from the back scenes with some curiosity towards Pen's box, and the family party assembled in it.

There was but one voice in her praise there. Mrs. Pendennis was in ecstasies with her beauty. Little Laura was bewildered by the piece and the Ghost, and the play within the play, but cried out great praises of that beautiful young creature, Ophelia. Pen was charmed with the effect which she produced on his mother, and the clergyman on his part was exceedingly enthusiastic.

When the curtain fell upon that group of slaughtered personages who are despatched so suddenly at the end of "Hamlet," and whose death astonished poor little Laura, there was an immense shouting and applause from all quarters of the house. There was a roar of bravoes rang through the house; Pen bellowing with the loudest. "Fotheringay! Fotheringay!" Even Mrs. Pendennis began to wave about her pocket-handkerchief, and little Laura danced, laughed, clapped, and looked up at Pen with wonder.

If Pen had been alone with his mother in the carriage as they drove home that night he would have told her the extent of his devotion for Miss Fotheringay, but he had no chance to do so, and it remained for that good lady to hear of her boy's intimacy with the actress from good Dr. Portman, who, on the following evening, happening to see Pen in Miss Fotheringay's company and much absorbed by her charms, lost no time in hurrying to Mrs. Pendennis with the news. Now, although Mrs. Pendennis had been wise enough to appreciate Pen's infatuation, she had looked upon it as the merest boyish fancy, induced by the glamour of the stage, and did not dream that there was a personal intimacy behind it. She heard Dr. Portman's statement in horrified silence, and before she slept that night had despatched letters to Major Pendennis demanding his immediate return from London to help her in the management of her son at this critical point in his youthful career.

Although loath to leave London, Major Pendennis straightway came to Fair-Oaks. He came; he saw the situation at a glance; and after a prolonged conversation with Mrs. Pendennis he summoned Pen himself. That young man having strung up his nerves, and prepared himself for the encounter, determined to face the awful uncle, with all the courage and dignity of the famous family which he represented. He marched into Major Pendennis's presence with a most severe and warlike expression, as if to say, "Come on, I am ready."

The old man of the world, as he surveyed the boy's demeanour, could hardly help a grin at his admirable pompous simplicity, and having a shrewd notion that threats and tragic exaltations would have no effect upon the boy, said with the most good-humoured smile in the world, as he shook Pen's passive fingers gaily: "Well, Pen, my boy, tell us all about it!"

Helen was delighted with the generosity of the Major's good-humour. On the contrary, it quite took aback and disappointed poor Pen, whose nerves were strung up for a tragedy, and who felt that his grand entrance was altogether balked and ludicrous. He blushed and winced with mortified vanity and bewilderment. He felt immensely inclined to begin to cry. "I—I didn't know you were come till just now," he said; "is—is—town very full, I suppose?"

If Pen could hardly gulp his tears down it was all the Major could do to keep from laughter. He turned round and shot a comical glance at Mrs. Pendennis, who, too, felt that the scene was at once ridiculous and sentimental. And so, having nothing to say, she went up and kissed Mr. Pen, while the Major said: "Come, come, Pen, my good fellow, tell us the whole story."

Pen got back at once to his tragic and heroical air while he told the story of his devotion to the charming Miss Fotheringay, to which the Major gave quiet attention, and then asked many practical questions, and made so many remarks of a worldly-wise nature that the boy was obliged to give in and acknowledge the sound wisdom of them, and also before the interview was over he gave his mother a promise that he would never do anything which would bring shame upon the family; which promise given, the Major could contain his gravity at the situation no longer, but burst into a fit of laughter so infectious that Pen was obliged to join in it. This sent them with great good-humour into Mrs. Pendennis's drawing-room, and she was pleased to hear the Major and Pen laughing together as they walked across the hall with the Major's arm laid gayly on Pen's shoulder. The pair came to the tea-table in the highest spirits. The Major's politeness was beyond expression. He was secretly delighted with himself that he had been able to win such a victory over the young fellow's feelings. He had never tasted such good tea, and such bread was only to be had in the country. He asked Mrs. Pendennis for one of her charming songs. He then made Pen sing, and was delighted at the beauty of the boy's voice; he made his nephew fetch his maps and drawings, and praised them as really remarkable works of talent in a young fellow; he complimented him on his French pronunciation. He flattered the simple boy to the extent of his ability, and when bedtime came mother and son went to their rooms perfectly enchanted with him.

Unwilling to leave his work half done, the Major remained at Fair-Oaks for some time that he might watch his nephew's actions. Pen never rode over to Chatteris but that the Major found out on what errand the boy had been. Faithful to his plan, he gave his nephew no hindrance. Yet somehow the constant feeling that his uncle's eye was upon him made Pen go less frequently to sigh away his soul at the feet of his charmer than he had done before his uncle's arrival. But even so, and despite Pen's promise to his mother, the Major felt that if he were to succeed in permanently curing the lad of his interest in the actress, it would be well to have more help in achieving it. In pursuance of this aim, the Major went to Chatteris himself privately, sought out the actress's father, and presented to him the practical facts of his nephew's extreme youth and lack of money, as hindrances to his devotion going further. After a rather heated argument with Captain Costigan, that gentleman was made to understand the situation, and finally gave his promise so to present the case to his daughter, that she should herself write a letter to Pen setting forth her firm determination to have no more intercourse with him.

Captain Costigan was as good as his word, and his letter to Pen was sent immediately. A few lines from Miss Costigan were enclosed. She agreed in the decision of her papa, pointed out several reasons why they should meet no more, and thanked him for his kindness and friendship.

Major Pendennis had won a complete victory, and his secret delight at having rescued Pen from an unwise attachment was only equalled by his regret at the real suffering he was obliged to allow the lad to go through.

After receiving the letter Pen rushed wildly off to Chatteris; but in vain attempted to see Miss Fotheringay, for whom he left a letter enclosed to her father. The enclosure was returned by Mr. Costigan, who begged that all correspondence might end; and after one or two further attempts of the lad's, Captain Costigan insisted that their acquaintance should cease. He cut Pen in the street. As Arthur and Foker were pacing the street one day they came upon the daughter on her father's arm. She passed without any nod of recognition. Foker felt poor Pen trembling on his arm.

His uncle wanted him to travel, and his mother urged him, too, for he was in a state of restless unhappiness. But he said point blank he would not go, and his mother was too fond, and his uncle too wise, to force him. Whenever Miss Fotheringay acted, he rode over to the Chatteris theatre and saw her; and between times found the life at Fair-Oaks extremely dreary and uninteresting. He sometimes played backgammon with his mother, or took dinner with Dr. Portman or some other neighbour; these were the chief of his pleasures; or he would listen to his mother's simple music of summer evenings. But he was very restless and wretched in spite of all. By the pond and under a tree, which was his favourite resort in moods of depression, Pen, at that time, composed a number of poems suitable to his misery—over which verses he blushed in after days, wondering how he could have ever invented such rubbish. He had his hot and cold fits, his days of sullenness and peevishness, and occasional mad paroxysms of rage and longing, in which fits his horse would be saddled and galloped fiercely about the country, bringing him back in such a state of despair as brought much worry to his mother and the Major. In fact, Pen's attitude towards life and his actions at that time were so unlike what they should have been at his age that his proceedings tortured his mother not a little, and her anxiety would have led her often to interfere with Pen's doings had not the Major constantly checked her; fancying that he saw a favourable turn in Pen's malady, which was shown by a violent attack of writing verses; also spouting them as he sat with the home party of evenings; and one day the Major found a great bookful of original verses in the lad's study. Also he discovered that the young gentleman had a very creditable appetite for his meals, and slept soundly at night. From these symptoms the Major argued that Pen was leaving behind him his infatuation.

Dr. Portman was of the opinion that Pen should go to college. He thought the time had come for the boy to leave his old surroundings, and, besides study, have a moderate amount of the best society, too. Pen, who was thoroughly out of harmony with his present surroundings, gloomily said he would go, and in consequence of this decision not many weeks later the widow and Laura nervously set about filling trunks with his books, and linen, and making all necessary preparation for his departure, writing cards with the name of Arthur Pendennis, Esquire, which were duly nailed on the boxes; at which both the widow and Laura looked with tearful eyes.

A night soon came when the coach, with echoing horn and blazing lamps, stopped at the lodge gate of Fair-Oaks, and Pen's trunks and his Uncle's were placed on the roof of the carriage, into which the pair presently afterwards entered. Mrs. Pendennis and Laura were standing by the evergreens of the shrubbery, their figures lighted up by the coach lamps. The guard cried "All right"; in another instant the carriage whirled onward; the lights disappeared, and his mother's heart and prayers went with them. Her sainted benedictions followed the departing boy. He had left the home-nest in which he had been chafing; eager to go forth and try his restless wings.

How lonely the house was without him! The corded trunks and book-boxes were there in his empty study. Laura asked leave to come and sleep in her aunt's room: and when she cried herself to sleep there, the mother went softly into Pen's vacant chamber, and knelt down by the bed on which the moon shone, and there prayed for her boy, as mothers only know how to plead.

Pen passed a few days at the Major's lodgings in London, of which he wrote a droll account to his dearest mother; and she and Laura read that letter, and those which followed, many, many times, and brooded over them, while Pen and the Major were arriving at Oxbridge; and Pen was becoming acquainted with his surroundings. The boxes that his mother had packed with so much care arrived in a few days. Pen was touched as he read the cards in the dear well-known hand, and as he arranged in their places all the books, and all the linen and table-cloths which Helen had selected for him from the family stock, and all the hundred simple gifts of home. Then came the Major's leave-taking, and truth to tell our friend Pen was not sorry when he was left alone to enter upon his new career, and we may be sure that the Major on his part was very glad to have done his duty by Pen, and to have finished that irksome work. Having left Pen in the company of Harry Foker, who would introduce him to the best set at the University, the Major rushed off to London and again took up his accustomed life.

We are not about to go through young Pen's academical career very minutely. During the first term of his university life he attended lectures with tolerable regularity, but soon discovering that he had little taste for pursuing the exact sciences, he gave up his attendance at that course and announced that he proposed to devote himself exclusively to Greek and Roman Literature.

Mrs. Pendennis was for her part quite satisfied that her darling boy should pursue that branch of learning for which he had the greatest inclination; and only besought him not to ruin his health by too much study, for she had heard the most melancholy stories of young students who by overfatigue had brought on brain-fevers, and perished untimely in the midst of their university career. Pen's health, which was always delicate, was to be regarded, as she justly said, beyond all considerations or vain honours. Pen, although not aware of any lurking disease which was likely to endanger his life, yet kindly promised his mamma not to sit up reading too late of nights, and stuck to his word in this respect with a great deal more tenacity of resolution than he exhibited upon some other occasions, when perhaps he was a little remiss.

Presently he began to find that he learned little good in the classical lecture. His fellow-students there were too dull, as in mathematics they were too learned for him. Pen grew weary of hearing the students and tutor blunder through a few lines of a play which he could read in a tenth part of the time which they gave to it. After all, private reading, he decided, was the only study which was really profitable, and he announced to his mamma that he should read by himself a great deal more and in public a great deal less. That excellent woman knew no more about Homer than she did about Algebra, but she was quite contented with Pen's arrangements regarding his course of study, and felt perfectly confident that her dear boy would get the place which he merited.

Pen did not come home until after Christmas, a little to the fond mother's disappointment, and Laura's, who was longing for him to make a fine snow fortification, such as he had made three winters before. But he was invited to Logwood, Lady Agnes Foker's, where there were private theatricals, and a gay Christmas party of very fine folks, some of whom Major Pendennis would on no account have his nephew neglect. However, he stayed at home for the last three weeks of the vacation, and Laura had the opportunity of remarking what a quantity of fine new clothes he brought with him, and his mother admired his improved appearance and manly and decided tone.

He had not come home at Easter; but when he arrived for the long vacation he brought more smart clothes; appearing in the morning in wonderful shooting-jackets, with remarkable buttons; and in the evening in gorgeous velvet waistcoats, with richly embroidered cravats, and curious linen. And as she pried about his room, she saw, oh, such a beautiful dressing-case, with silver mountings, and a quantity of lovely rings and jewellery. And he had a new French watch and gold chain, in place of the big old chronometer, with its bunch of jingling seals, which had hung from the fob of John Pendennis. It was but a few months back Pen had longed for this watch, which he thought the most splendid and august time-piece in the world; and just before he went to college, Helen had taken it out of her trinket box and given it to Pen with a solemn and appropriate little speech respecting his father's virtues and the proper use of time. This portly and valuable chronometer Pen now pronounced to be out of date, and indeed made some comparisons between it and a warming-pan, which Laura thought disrespectful; and he left it in a drawer in the company of soiled primrose gloves and cravats which had gone out of favour. His horse Pen pronounced no longer up to his weight, and swapped her for another for which he had to pay rather a heavy figure. Mrs. Pendennis gave the boy the money for the new horse, and Laura cried when the old one was fetched away.

Arthur's allowances were liberal at this time, and thus he, the only son of a country gentleman, and of a gentleman-like bearing and person, was looked up to as a lad of much more consequence than he really was. His manner was frank, brave and perhaps a little impertinent, as becomes a high-spirited youth. He was generous and freehanded with his money, loved joviality, and had a good voice for a song. He rode well to hounds, appeared in pink as became a young buck, and managed to run up fine bills in a number of quarters. In fact, he had almost every taste to a considerable degree. He was very fond of books of all sorts and had a very fair taste in matters of art; also a great partiality for fine clothes and expensive jewellery.

In the course of his second year he had become one of the men of fashion in the University, and a leader of the faithful band who hung around him and wondered at him and loved him and imitated him. Now, it is easy to calculate that with such tastes as Mr. Pen possessed he must in the course of two or three years spend or owe a very handsome sum of money. As he was not of a calculating turn he certainly found himself frequently in debt, but this did not affect his gaiety of spirit. He got a prodigious in the University and was hailed as a sort of Crichton: and as for the English verse prize, although Jones carried it that year, the undergraduates thought Pen's a much finer poem, and he had his verses printed at his own expense, and distributed in gilt morocco covers amongst his acquaintance.

Amidst his friends, and a host of them there were, Pen passed more than two brilliant and happy years. He had his fill of pleasure and popularity. No dinner or supper party was complete without him. He became the favourite and leader of young men who were his superiors in wealth and station, but also did not neglect the humblest man of his acquaintance in order to curry favour with the richest young grandee in the University. He became famous and popular: not that he did much, but there was a general idea that he could do a great deal if he chose. "Ah, if Pendennis would only try" the men said, "he might do anything." One by one the University honours were lost by him, until he ceased to compete. But he got a declamation prize and brought home to his mother and Laura a set of prize books begilt with the college arms, and so magnificent that the ladies thought that Pen had won the largest honour which Oxbridge was capable of awarding.

Vacation after vacation passed without the desired news that Pen had sat for any scholarship or won any honour, and Pen grew rebellious and unhappy, and there was a tacit feud between Dr. Portman, who was disappointed in Arthur, and the lad himself. Mrs. Pendennis, hearing Dr. Portman prophesy that Pen would come to ruin, trembled in her heart, and little Laura also—Laura who had grown to be a fine young stripling, graceful and fair, clinging to her adopted mother and worshipping her with a passionate affection. Both of these women felt that their boy was changed. He was no longer the artless Pen of old days, so brave, so impetuous, so tender. He spent little of his vacations at home, but went on visits, and scared the quiet pair at Fair-Oaks by stories of great houses to which he had been invited, and by talking of lords without their titles.

But even with all his weaknesses there was a kindness and frankness about Arthur Pendennis which won most people who came in contact with him, and made it impossible to resist his good-nature, or in his worst moments not to hope for his rescue from utter ruin. At the time of his career of university pleasure he would leave the gayest party to sit with a sick friend and was only too ready to share any money which he had with a poorer one.

In his third year at college the duns began to gather awfully round about him, and descended upon him in such a number that the tutors were scandalised, and even brave-hearted Pen was scared. Hearing of his nephew's extravagances, Major Pendennis interviewed that young man, and was thunderstruck at the extent of his liabilities after receiving Pen's dismal confession of the trouble in which he was involved.

Perhaps it was because she was so tender and good that Pen was terrified lest his mother should know of his sins. "I can't bear to break it to her," he said to the tutor, in an agony of grief. "Oh! sir, I've been a villain to her!"

—and he repented, and asked himself, Why, why, did his uncle insist upon the necessity of living with great people, and in how much did all his grand acquaintance profit him?

They were not shy of him, but Pen thought they were, and slunk from them during his last terms at college. He was as gloomy as a death's-head at parties, which he avoided of his own part, or to which his young friends soon ceased to invite him. Everybody knew that Pendennis was "hard up."

At last came the Degree Examinations. Many a young man of his year, whose hob-nailed shoes Pen had derided, and whose face or coat he had caricatured, many a man whom he had treated with scorn in the lecture-room or crushed with his eloquence in the debating club, many of his own set who had not half his brains, but a little regularity and constancy of occupation, took high places in the honours or passed within decent credit. And where in the list was Pen, the superb; Pen, the wit and dandy; Pen, the poet and orator? Ah, where was Pen, the widow's darling and sole pride? Let us hide our heads and shut up the page. The lists came out; and a dreadful rumour rushed through the University, that Pendennis of Boniface was plucked.

During the latter part of Pen's university career the Major had become very proud of Arthur on account of his high spirits, frank manners, and high, gentleman-like bearing. He made more than one visit to Oxbridge and had an almost paternal fondness for Pen, whom he bragged about at his clubs, and introduced with pleasure into his conversation. He boasted everywhere of the boy's great talents and of the brilliant degree he was going to take as he wrote over and over again to Pen's mother, who for her part was ready to believe anything that anybody chose to say in favour of her son.

And all this pride and affection of uncle and mother had been trampled down by Pen's wicked extravagance and idleness. I don't envy Pen's feelings as he thought of what he had done. He had marred at its outset what might have been a brilliant career. He had dipped ungenerously into a generous mother's purse, and basely and recklessly spent her little income. Poor Arthur Pendennis felt perfectly convinced that all England would remark the absence of his name from the examination lists and talk about his misfortune. His wounded tutor, his many duns, the undergraduates—how could he bear to look any of them in the face now? After receiving the news of his disgrace he rushed to his rooms and there penned a letter to his tutor full of thanks, regards, remorse and despair, requesting that his name might be taken off the college books, and intimating a wish that death might speedily end the woes of the disgraced Arthur Pendennis. Then he slunk out, scarcely knowing where he went, taking the unfrequented little lanes at the backs of the college buildings until he found himself some miles distant from Oxbridge. As he went up a hill, a drizzling January rain beating in his face and his ragged gown flying behind him, for he had not taken it off since the morning, a post-chaise came rattling up the road with a young gentleman in it who caught sight of poor Pen's pale face, jumped out of the carriage and ran towards him, exclaiming, "I say,—Hello, old boy, where are you going, and what's the row now?"

"I am going where I deserve to go," said Pen.

"This ain't the way," said his friend Spavin, smiling. "I say, Pen, don't take on because you are plucked. It is nothing when you are used to it. I've been plucked three times, old boy, and after the first time I didn't care. You'll have better luck next time."

Pen looked at his early acquaintance who had been plucked, who had been rusticated, who had only after repeated failures learned to read and write correctly, but who, in spite of all these drawbacks had attained the honour of a degree.

"This man has passed," he thought, "and I have failed." It was almost too much for him to bear.

"Good-bye," said he; "I am very glad you are through. Don't let me keep you. I am in a hurry—I am going to town to-night."

"Gammon!" said his friend, "this ain't the way to town; this is the Fenbury road, I tell you."

"I was just going to turn back," Pen said.

"All the coaches are full with the men going down," Spavin said. Pen winced. "You'd not get a place for a ten-pound note. Get in here. I'll drop you where you have a chance of the Fenbury mail. I'll lend you a hat and coat; I've got lots. Come along; jump in, old boy—go it, leathers!"

And in this way Pen found himself in Mr. Spavin's post-chaise and rode with that gentleman as far as the Ram Inn at Mudford, fifteen miles from Oxbridge, where the Fenbury mail changed horses, and where Pen got a place on to London.

The next day there was an immense excitement at Oxbridge, where, for some time, a rumour prevailed, to the terror of Pen's tutor and tradesmen, that Pendennis, maddened at losing his degree, had made away with himself. A battered cap, in which his name was almost discernible, together with a seal bearing his crest of an eagle looking at a now extinct sun, had been found three miles on the Fenbury road, near a mill stream; and for four-and-twenty hours it was supposed that poor Pen had flung himself into the stream, until letters arrived from him, bearing the London post-mark.

The coach reached London at the dreary hour of five; and he hastened to the inn at Covent Garden, where the ever-wakeful porter admitted him, and showed him to a bed. Pen looked hard at the man, and wondered whether Boots knew he was plucked? When in bed he could not sleep there. He tossed about restlessly until the appearance of daylight, when he sprang up desperately, and walked off to his uncle's lodgings in Bury Street.

"Good 'evens! Mr. Arthur, what 'as 'appened, sir?" asked the valet, who was just carrying in his wig to the Major.

"I want to see my uncle," Pen cried in a ghastly voice, and flung himself down on a chair.

The valet backed before the pale and desperate-looking young man, with terrified and wondering glances, and disappeared into his master's apartment, whence the Major put out his head as soon as he had his wig on.

"What? Examination over? Senior Wrangler, Double First Class, hey?" said the old gentleman. "I'll come directly," and the head disappeared.

Pen was standing with his back to the window, so that his uncle could not see the expression of gloomy despair on the young man's face. But when he held out his hand to Pen, and was about to address him in his cheery, high-toned voice, he caught sight of the boy's face; and dropping his hand said, "Why, Pen, what's the matter?"

"You'll see it in the papers at breakfast, sir," Pen said.

"See what?"

"My name isn't there, sir."

"Hang it, why should it be?" asked the Major, more perplexed.

"I have lost everything, sir," groaned out Pen; "my honour's gone; I'm ruined irretrievably; I can't go back to Oxbridge."

"Lost your honour?" screamed out the Major. "Heaven alive! You don't mean to say you have shown the white feather?"

Pen laughed bitterly at the word feather, and repeated it. "No, it isn't that, sir. I'm not afraid of being shot; I wish anybody would shoot me. I have not got my degree. I—I'm plucked, sir."

The Major had heard of plucking, but in a very vague and cursory way, and concluded that it was some ceremony performed corporally upon rebellious university youth. "I wonder you can look me in the face after such a disgrace, sir," he said; "I wonder you submitted to it as a gentleman."

"I couldn't help it, sir. I did my classical papers well enough: it was those infernal mathematics, which I have always neglected."

"Was it—was it done in public, sir?" the Major said.


"The—the plucking?" asked the guardian, looking Pen anxiously in the face.

Pen perceived the error under which his guardian was labouring, and in the midst of his misery the blunder caused the poor wretch a faint smile, and served to bring down the conversation from the tragedy-key in which Pen had been disposed to carry it on. He explained to his uncle that he had gone in to pass his examination, and failed. On which the Major said, that though he had expected far better things of his nephew, there was no great misfortune in this, and no dishonour as far as he saw, and that Pen must try again.

"Me again at Oxbridge!" Pen thought, "after such a humiliation as that?" He felt that, except he went down to burn the place, he could not enter it.

But it was when he came to tell his uncle of his debts that the other felt surprise and anger most keenly, and broke out into speeches most severe upon Pen, which the lad bore, as best he might, without flinching.

It appeared that his bills in all amounted to about L700; and furthermore it was calculated that he had had more than twice that sum during his stay at Oxbridge. This sum he had spent, and for it he had to show—what?

"You need not press a man who is down, sir," Pen said to his uncle, gloomily. "I know very well how wicked and idle I have been. My mother won't like to see me dishonoured, sir," he continued, with his voice failing; "and I know she will pay these accounts. But I shall ask her for no more money."

"As you like, sir," the Major said. "You are of age, and my hands are washed of your affairs. But you can't live without money, and have no means of making it that I see, though you have a fine talent in spending it, and it is my belief that you will proceed as you have begun, and ruin your mother before you are five years older. Good-morning; it is time for me to go to breakfast. My engagements won't permit me to see you much during the time that you stay in London. I presume that you will acquaint your mother with the news which you have just conveyed to me."

And pulling on his hat, and trembling in his limbs somewhat, Major Pendennis walked out of his lodgings before his nephew, and went ruefully off to take his accustomed corner at the club, where he saw the Oxbridge examination lists in the morning papers, and read over the names with mournful accuracy, thinking also with bitterness of the many plans he had formed to make a man of his nephew, of the sacrifices which he had made, and of the manner in which he was disappointed. And he wrote a letter to Dr. Portman telling him what had happened and begging the Doctor to break the sad news to Helen. Then the Major went out to dinner, one of the saddest men in any London dining-room that day.

On receipt of the Major's letter Dr. Portman went at once to Fair-Oaks to break the disagreeable news to Mrs. Pendennis. She had already received a letter from Pen, and to the Doctor's great indignation she seemed to feel no particular unhappiness except that her darling boy should be unhappy. What was this degree that they made such an outcry about, and what good would it do Pen? Why did Dr. Portman and his uncle insist upon sending the boy where there was so much temptation to be risked, and so little good to be won? Why didn't they leave him at home with his mother? Her boy was coming back to her repentant and tender-hearted,—why should she want more? As for his debts, of course they must be paid;—his debts.—Wasn't his father's money all his, and hadn't he a right to spend it? In this way the widow met the virtuous Doctor, and all his anger took no effect upon her gentle bosom.

As for Laura, Pen's little adopted sister, she was no longer the simple girl of Pen's college days, but a tall, slim, handsome young lady. At the age of sixteen she was a sweet young lady indeed, ordinarily pale, with a faint rose-tinge in her cheeks. Her eyes were very large and some critics said that she was in the habit of making play with those eyes, but the fact is that nature had made them so to shine and to look, that they could no more help so looking and shining than one star can help being brighter than another. It was doubtless to soften their brightness that Miss Laura's eyes were provided with two veils in the shape of the longest and finest black eyelashes. Her complexion was brilliant, her smile charming, while her voice was so low and sweet that to hear it was like listening to sweet music.

Now, this same charming Miss Laura had only been half pleased with Pen's general conduct and bearing during the past two years. His letters to his mother had been very rare and short. It was in vain that the fond widow urged how constant Arthur's occupations and studies were, and how many his engagements. "It is better that he should lose a prize," Laura said, "than forget his mother: and indeed, Mamma, I don't see that he gets many prizes. Why doesn't he come home and stay with you, instead of passing his vacations at his great friends' fine houses? There is nobody there that will love him half as much as you do." Thus Laura declared stoutly, nor would she be convinced by any of Helen's fond arguments that the boy must make his way in the world; that his uncle was most desirous that Pen should cultivate the acquaintance of persons who were likely to befriend him in life; that men had a thousand ties and calls which women could not understand, and so forth.

But as soon as Miss Laura heard that Pen was unfortunate and unhappy, all her anger straightway vanished, giving place to the most tender compassion. He was the Pen of old days, the frank and affectionate, the generous and tender-hearted. She at once took side with Helen against Dr. Portman when he cried out at the enormity of Pen's transgressions. Debts? What were his debts? They were a trifle; he had been thrown into expensive society by his uncle's order, and of course was obliged to live in the same manner as the young gentlemen whose company he frequented. Disgraced by not getting his degree? The poor boy was ill when he went for the examinations; he couldn't think of his mathematics and stuff on account of those very debts which oppressed him; very likely some of the odious tutors and masters were jealous of him, and had favourites of their own whom they wanted to put over his head. Other people disliked him and were cruel to him, and were unfair to him, she was very sure.

And so with flushing cheeks and eyes bright with anger this young creature reasoned, and went up and seized Helen's hand and kissed her in the Doctor's presence; and her looks braved the Doctor and seemed to ask how he dared to say a word against her darling mother's Pen?

Directly the Doctor was gone, Laura ordered fires to be lighted in Mr. Arthur's rooms, and his bedding to be aired; and by the time Helen had completed a tender and affectionate letter to Pen, Laura had her preparations completed, and, smiling fondly, went with her mamma into Pen's room, which was now ready for him to occupy. Laura also added a postscript to Helen's letter, in which she called him her dearest friend, and bade him come home instantly and be happy with his mother and his affectionate Laura.

That night when Mrs. Pendennis was lying sleepless, thinking of Pen, a voice at her side startled her, saying softly: "Mamma, are you awake?"

It was Laura. "You know, Mamma," this young lady said, "that I have been living with you for ten years, during which time you have never taken any of my money, and have been treating me just as if I were a charity girl. Now, this obligation has offended me very much, because I am proud and do not like to be beholden to people. And as, if I had gone to school, only I wouldn't, it must have cost me as least fifty pounds a year, it is clear that I owe you fifty times ten pounds, which I know you have put into the bank at Chatteris for me, and which doesn't belong to me a bit. Now, to-morrow we will go to Chatteris, and see that nice old Mr. Rowdy, with the bald head, and ask him for it,—not for his head, but for the five hundred pounds; and I daresay he will lend you two more, which we will save and pay back, and we will send the money to Pen, who can pay all his debts without hurting anybody, and then we will live happy ever after."

What Mrs. Pendennis replied to this speech need not be repeated, but we may be sure that its terms were those of the deepest gratitude, and that the widow lost no time in writing off to Pen an account of the noble, the magnificent offer of Laura, filling up her letter with a profusion of benedictions upon both her children.

As for Pen, after being deserted by the Major, and writing his letter to his mother, he skulked about London streets for the rest of the day, fancying that everybody was looking at him and whispering to his neighbour, "That is Pendennis of Boniface, who was plucked yesterday." His letter to his mother was full of tenderness and remorse: he wept the bitterest tears over it, and the repentance soothed him to some degree.

On the second day of his London wanderings there came a kind letter from his tutor, containing many grave and appropriate remarks upon what had befallen him, but strongly urging Pen not to take his name off the University books, and to retrieve a disaster which everybody knew was owing to his own carelessness alone, and which he might repair by a month of application.

On the third day there arrived the letter from home which Pen read in his bedroom, and the result of which was that he fell down on his knees, with his head in the bedclothes, and there prayed out his heart, and humbled himself; and having gone downstairs and eaten an immense breakfast, he sallied forth and took his place at the Bull and Mouth, Piccadilly, on the Chatteris coach for that evening.

And so the Prodigal came home, and the fatted calf was killed for him, and he was made as happy as two simple women could make him.

For some time he said no power on earth could induce him to go back to Oxbridge again after his failure there; but one day Laura said to him, with many blushes, that she thought, as some sort of reparation, or punishment on himself for his idleness, he ought to go back and get his degree if he could fetch it by doing so; and so back Mr. Pen went.

A plucked man is a dismal being in a university; belonging to no set of men there and owned by no one. Pen felt himself plucked indeed of all the fine feathers which he had won during his brilliant years, and rarely appeared out of his college; regularly going to morning chapel and shutting himself up in his rooms of nights, away from the noise and suppers of the undergraduates. The men of his years had taken their degrees and were gone. He went into a second examination, and passed with perfect ease. He was somewhat more easy in his mind when he appeared in his bachelor's gown, and could cast aside the hated badge of disgrace.

On his way back from Oxbridge he paid a visit to his uncle in London, hoping that gentleman would accept his present success in place of his past failure, but the old gentleman received him with very cold looks, and would scarcely give him his forefinger to shake. He called a second time, but the valet said his master was not at home.

So Pen went back to Fair-Oaks. True, he had retrieved his failure, had won his honours, but he came back to his home a very different fellow from the bright-faced youth who had gone out into college life some years before. He no longer laughed, sang, or rollicked about the house as of old; he had tasted of the fruit of the awful Tree of Life which from the beginning had tempted all mankind, and which had changed Arthur Pendennis the light-hearted boy into a man. Young, he is, of course, and still awaiting the development which life's deeper experiences are to bring, but nevertheless he is not again to taste the joy, the zest, or the enthusiasm which come to careless boyhood.

Arthur Pendennis is now a competitor among the ranks of men striving after life's prizes, and this narrative of his boyhood ends.