Boys and Girls from Thackeray - K. D. Sweetser

George Osborne and Rawdon Crawley

Rebecca sharp, the teacher of French at Miss Pinkerton's Academy for young ladies, and intimate friend of Miss Amelia Sedley, the most popular scholar in Miss Pinkerton's select establishment, left the institution at the same time to become a governess in the family of Sir Pitt Crawley. Amelia was the only daughter of John Sedley, a wealthy London stock broker, and upon leaving school was to take her place in fashionable society. Being the sweetest, most kind-hearted girl in the world, Amelia invited Becky to visit her in London before taking up her new duties as governess; which invitation Becky was only too glad to accept.

Now, Miss Sharp was in no way like the gentle Amelia, but as keen, brilliant, and selfish a young person of eighteen as ever schemed to have events turn to her advantage. These characteristics she showed so plainly while visiting at the Sedleys' that she left anything but a good impression behind her. In fact, her visit was cut short because of some unpleasant circumstances connected with her behaviour.

From that time she and Amelia did not meet for many months, during which Amelia had become the wife of George Osborne, and Rebecca Sharp had married Rawdon Crawley, son of Sir Pitt Crawley, Baronet.

The circumstances of Amelia's life during these months altered greatly, for shortly after she left school honest John Sedley met with such severe losses that his family were obliged to live in a much more modest way than formerly. Because of this misfortune, the course of Amelia's love affair with young Lieutenant Osborne did not run smoothly; for his father was far too ambitious to consent to his only son's marriage with the daughter of a ruined man, although John Sedley was his son's godfather, and George had been devoted to Amelia since early boyhood.

Lieutenant Osborne therefore went away with his regiment, and poor little Amelia was left behind, to pine and mourn until it seemed there was no hope of saving her life unless happiness should speedily come to her. Then it was that Major Dobbin, George Osborne's staunch friend of schooldays, and also an ardent admirer of Amelia's, saw how she was grieving and took upon himself to inform George Osborne of the state of affairs. The young lieutenant came hurrying home just in time to save a gentle little heart from wearing itself away with sorrowing, and married Amelia without his father's consent. This so enraged the old gentleman that he refused to have his name mentioned in the home where the boy had grown up; the veriest tyrant and idol of his sisters and father.

To Brighton George and Amelia went on their honeymoon, and there they met Becky Sharp and her husband. Though the circumstances of the two young women's career had altered, Amelia and Becky were unchanged in character, but that is of small concern to us, except as it affects their children, to whose lives we now turn with keen interest, noting how they reflect the dispositions, and are affected by the characters of their mothers.

As for little Rawdon Crawley, Becky's only child, he had few early happy recollections of his mother. She had not, to say the truth, seen much of the young gentleman since his birth. After the amiable fashion of French mothers, she had placed him out at nurse in a village in the neighbourhood of Paris, where little Rawdon lived, not unhappily, with a numerous family of foster brothers in wooden shoes. His father, who was devotedly attached to the little fellow, would ride over many a time to see him here, and the elder Rawdon's paternal heart glowed to see him rosy and dirty, shouting lustily, and happy in the making of mud-pies under the superintendence of the gardener's wife, his nurse.

Rebecca, however, did not care much to go and see her son and heir, who as a result preferred his nurse's caresses to his mamma's, and when finally he quitted that jolly nurse, he cried loudly for hours. He was only consoled by his mother's promise that he should return to his nurse the next day; which promise, it is needless to say, was not kept; instead the boy was consigned to the care of a French maid, Genevieve, while his mother was seldom with him, and the French woman was so neglectful of her young charge that at one time he very narrowly escaped drowning on Calais sands, where Genevieve had left and lost him.

So with little care and less love his childhood passed until presently he went with his father and mother, Colonel and Mrs. Crawley, to London, to their new home in Curzon Street, Mayfair. There little Rawdon's time was mostly spent hidden upstairs in a garret somewhere, or crawling below into the kitchen for companionship. His mother scarcely ever took notice of him. He passed the days with his French nurse as long as she remained in the family, and when she went away, a housemaid took compassion on the little fellow, who was howling in the loneliness of the night, and got him out of his solitary nursery into her bed in the garret and comforted him.

Rebecca, her friend, my Lord Steyne, and one or two more were in the drawing-room taking tea after the opera, when this shouting was heard overhead. "It's my cherub crying for his nurse," said his mother, who did not offer to move and go and see the child. "Don't agitate your feelings by going to look after him," said Lord Steyne sardonically. "Bah!" exclaimed Becky, with a sort of blush. "He'll cry himself to sleep"; and they fell to talking about the opera.

Mr. Rawdon Crawley had stolen off, however, to look after his son and heir; and came back to the company when he found that honest Dolly was consoling the child. The Colonel's dressing-room was in those upper regions. He used to see the boy there in private. They had interviews together every morning when he shaved; Rawdon minor sitting on a box by his father's side, and watching the operation with never-ceasing pleasure. He and the sire were great friends. The father would bring him sweet-meats from the dessert, and hide them in a certain old epaulet box where the child went to seek them, and laughed with joy on discovering the treasure; laughed, but not too loud; for mamma was asleep and must not be disturbed. She did not go to rest until very late, and seldom rose until afternoon.

His father bought the boy plenty of picture books, and crammed his nursery with toys. Its walls were covered with pictures pasted up by the father's own hand. He passed hours with the boy, who rode on his chest, pulled his great moustaches as if they were driving reins, and spent days with him in indefatigable gambols. The room was a low one, and once, when the child was not five years old, his father, who was tossing him wildly up in his arms, hit the poor little chap's scull so violently against the ceiling that he almost dropped him, so terrified was he at the disaster.

Rawdon minor had made up his face for a tremendous howl, but just as he was going to begin, the father interposed.

"For God's sake, Rawdy, don't wake mamma," he cried. And the child, looking in a very hard and piteous way at his father, bit his lips, clenched his hands, and didn't cry a bit. Rawdon told that story at the clubs, at the mess, to everybody in town. "By Gad, sir," he explained to the public in general, "what a good plucky one that boy of mine is. What a trump he is! I half sent his head through the ceiling, and he wouldn't cry for fear of disturbing mother!"

Sometimes, once or twice in a week, that lady visited the upper regions in which the child lived. She came like a vivified picture, blandly smiling in the most beautiful new clothes and little gloves and boots. Wonderful scarfs, laces, and jewels glittered about her. She had always a new bonnet on; and flowers bloomed perpetually in it, or else magnificent curling ostrich feathers, soft and snowy as camellias. She nodded twice or thrice patronisingly to the little boy, who looked up from his dinner or from the pictures of soldiers he was painting. When she left the room, an odour of rose, or some other magical fragrance, lingered about the nursery. She was an unearthly being in his eyes, superior to his father, to all the world, to be worshipped and admired at a distance. To drive with that lady in a carriage was an awful rite. He sat in the back seat, and did not dare to speak; he gazed with all his eyes at the beautifully dressed princess opposite to him. Gentlemen on splendid prancing horses came up, and smiled and talked with her. How her eyes beamed upon all of them! Her hand used to quiver and wave gracefully as they passed. When he went out with her he had his new red dress on. His old brown holland was good enough when he stayed at home. Sometimes, when she was away, and Dolly the maid was making his bed, he came into his mother's room. It was as the abode of a fairy to him—a mystic chamber of splendour and delight. There in the wardrobe hung those wonderful robes—pink and blue and many-tinted. There was the jewel case, silver clasped; and a hundred rings on the dressing table. There was a cheval glass, that miracle of art, in which he could just see his own wondering head, and the reflection of Dolly, plumping and patting the pillows of the bed. Poor lonely little benighted boy! Mother is the name for God in the lips and hearts of little children; and here was one who was worshipping a stone!

His father used to take him out of mornings, when they would go to the stables together and to the park. Little Lord Southdown, the best natured of men, who would make you a present of a hat from his head, and whose main occupation in life was to buy nicknacks that he might give them away afterwards, bought the little chap a pony, not much bigger than a large rat, and on this little black Shetland pony young Rawdon's great father would mount the boy, and walk by his side in the Park.

One Sunday morning as Rawdon Crawley, his little son, and the pony were taking their accustomed walk, they passed an old acquaintance of the Colonel's, Corporal Clink, who was in conversation with an old gentleman, who held a boy in his arms about the age of little Rawdon. The other youngster had seized hold of the Waterloo medal which the Corporal wore, and was examining it with delight.

"Good-morning, your honour," said Clink, in reply to the "How do, Clink?" of the Colonel. "This 'ere young gentleman is about the little Colonel's age, sir," continued the Corporal.

"His father was a Waterloo man, too," said the old gentleman who carried the boy. "Wasn't he, Georgie?"

"Yes, sir," said Georgie. He and the little chap on the pony were looking at each other with all their might, solemnly scanning each other as children do.

"His father was a captain in the—the regiment," said the old gentleman rather pompously. "Captain George Osborne, sir—perhaps you knew him. He died the death of a hero, sir, fighting against the Corsican tyrant"

"I knew him very well, sir," said Colonel Crawley, "and his wife, his dear little wife, sir—how is she?"

"She is my daughter, sir," said the old gentleman proudly, putting down the boy, and taking out his card, which he handed to the Colonel, while little Georgie went up and looked at the Shetland pony.

"Should you like to have a ride?" said Rawdon minor from the saddle.

"Yes," said Georgie. The Colonel, who had been looking at him with some interest, took up the child and put him on the pony behind Rawdon minor.

"Take hold of him, Georgie," he said; "take my little boy around the waist; his name is Rawdon." And both the children began to laugh.

"You won't see a prettier pair, I think, this summer's day, sir," said the good-natured Corporal; and the Colonel, the Corporal, and old Mr. Sedley, with his umbrella, walked by the side of the children, who enjoyed each other and the pony enormously. In later years they often talked of that first meeting.

But this is anticipating our story, for between the time of their first ride together, and the time when circumstances brought them together again, the little chaps saw nothing of one another for a number of years, during which the incidents of their lives differed as widely as did the lives of their parents.

About the time when the little boys first met, Sir Pitt Crawley, Baronet, father of Pitt and Rawdon Crawley, died, and Rebecca and her husband hastened to Queen's Crawley, the old family home, where Rebecca had once been governess, to shed a last tear over the departed Baronet. Rebecca was not bowed down with grief, we must confess, but keenly alive to the benefits which might come to herself and Rawdon if she could please Sir Pitt Crawley, the new Baronet, and Lady Jane his wife, a simple-minded woman mostly absorbed in the affairs of her nursery. This interest aroused Becky's private scorn, but the first thing that clever little lady did was to attack Lady Jane at her vulnerable point. After being conducted to the apartments prepared for her, and having taken off her bonnet and cloak, Becky asked her sister-in-law in what more she could be useful.

"What I should like best," she added, "would be to see your dear little nursery," at which the two ladies looked very kindly at each other, and went to the nursery hand in hand.

Becky admired little Matilda, who was not quite four years old, as the most charming little love in the world; and the boy, Pitt Blinkie Southdown, a little fellow of two years, pale, heavy-eyed, and large-headed, she pronounced to be a perfect prodigy in size, intelligence and beauty.

The funeral over, Rebecca and her husband remained for a visit at Queen's Crawley, which assumed its wonted aspect. Rawdon senior received constant bulletins respecting little Rawdon, who was left behind in London, and sent messages of his own. "I am very well," he wrote. "I hope you are very well. I hope mamma is very well. The pony is very well. Grey takes me to ride in the Park. I can canter. I met the little boy who rode before. He cried when he cantered. I do not cry."

Rawdon read these letters to his brother, and Lady Jane, who was delighted with them, gave Rebecca a banknote, begging her to buy a present with it for her little nephew.

Like all other good things, the visit came to an end, and one night the London lamps flashed joyfully as the stage rolled into Piccadilly, and Briggs had made a beautiful fire on the hearth in Curzon Street, and little Rawdon was up to welcome back his papa and mamma.

At this time he was a fine open-faced boy, with blue eyes and waving flaxen hair, sturdy in limb, but generous and soft in heart, fondly attaching himself to all who were good to him: to the pony, to Lord Southdown, who gave him the horse; to the groom who had charge of the pony; to Molly the cook, who crammed him with ghost stories at night and with good things from the dinner; to Briggs, his meek, devoted attendant, whom he plagued and laughed at; and to his father especially. Here, as he grew to be about eight years old, his attachment may be said to have ended. The beautiful mother vision had faded away after a while. During nearly two years his mother had scarcely spoken to the child. She disliked him. He had the measles and the whooping cough. He bored her. One day when he was standing at the landing-place, having crept down from the upper regions, attracted by the sound of his mother's voice, who was singing to Lord Steyne, the drawing-room door opening suddenly discovered the little spy, who but a moment before had been rapt in delight and listening to the music.

His mother came out and struck him violently a couple of boxes on the ear. He heard a laugh from the Marquis in the inner room, and fled down below to his friends of the kitchen, bursting in an agony of grief.

"It is not because it hurts me," little Rawdon gasped out, "only—only—" sobs and tears wound up the sentence in a storm. It was the little boy's heart that was bleeding. "Why mayn't I hear her singing? Why don't she ever sing to me, as she does to that bald-headed man with the large teeth?" He gasped out at various intervals these exclamations of grief and rage. The cook looked at the housemaid; the housemaid looked knowingly at the footman, who all sat in judgment on Rebecca from that moment.

After this incident the mother's dislike increased to hatred; the consciousness that the child was in the house was a reproach and a pain to her. His very sight annoyed her. Fear, doubt, and resistance sprang up too, in the boy's own bosom.

He and his mother were separated from that day of the boxes on the ear.

Lord Steyne also disliked the boy. When they met he made sarcastic bows or remarks to the child, or glared at him with savage-looking eyes. Rawdon used to stare him in the face and double his little fists in return. Had it not been for his father, the child would have been desolate indeed, in his own home.

But an unexpected good time came to him a day or two before Christmas, when he was taken by his father and mother to pass the holidays at Queen's Crawley. Becky would have liked to leave him at home, but for Lady Jane's urgent invitation to the youngster; and the symptoms of revolt and discontent manifested by Rawdon at her neglect of her son. "He is the finest boy in England," the father said reproachfully, "and you don't seem to care for him as much as you do for your spaniel. He shan't bother you much; at home he will be away from you in the nursery, and he shall go outside on the coach with me."

So little Rawdon was wrapped up in shawls and comforters for the winter's journey, and hoisted respectfully onto the roof of the coach in the dark morning; with no small delight watched the dawn arise, and made his first journey to the place which his father still called home. It was a journey of infinite pleasure to the boy, to whom the incidents of the road afforded endless interest; his father answering all questions connected with it, and telling him who lived in the great white house to the right, and whom the park belonged to.

Presently the boy fell asleep, and it was dark when he was wakened up to enter his uncle's carriage at Mudbury, and he sat and looked out of it wondering as the great iron gates flew open, and at the white trunks of the limes as they swept by, until they stopped at length before the lighted windows of the Hall, which were blazing and comfortable with Christmas welcome. The hall-door was flung open; a big fire was burning in the great old fireplace, a carpet was down over the chequered black flags, and the next instant Becky was kissing Lady Jane.

She and Sir Pitt performed the same salute with great gravity, while Sir Pitt's two children came up to their cousin. Matilda held out her hand and kissed him. Pitt Blinkie Southdown, the son and heir, stood aloof, and examined him as a little dog does a big one.

Then the kind hostess conducted her guests to snug apartments blazing with cheerful fires, and after some conversation with the fine young ladies of the house, the great dinner bell having rung, the family assembled at dinner, at which meal Rawdon junior was placed by his aunt, and exhibited not only a fine appetite, but a gentlemanlike behaviour.

"I like to dine here," he said to his aunt when he had completed his meal, at the conclusion of which, and after a decent grace by Sir Pitt, the younger son and heir was introduced and was perched on a high chair by the Baronet's side, while the daughter took possession of the place prepared for her, near her mother. "I like to dine here," said Rawdon minor, looking up at his relation's kind face.

"Why?" said the good Lady Jane.

"I dine in the kitchen when I am at home," replied Rawdon minor, "or else with Briggs." This honest confession was fortunately not heard by Becky, who was deep in conversation with the Baronet, or it might have been worse for little Rawdon.

As a guest, and it being the first night of his arrival, he was allowed to sit up until the hour when, tea being over and a great gilt book being laid on the table before Sir Pitt, all the domestics of the family streamed in and Sir Pitt read prayers. It was the first time the poor little boy had ever witnessed or heard of such a ceremonial.

Queen's Crawley had been much improved since the young Baronet's brief reign, and was pronounced by Becky to be perfect, charming, delightful, when she surveyed it in his company. As for little Rawdon, who examined it with the children for his guides, it seemed to him a perfect palace of enchantment and wonder. There were long galleries, and ancient state bed-rooms; there were pictures and old china and armour which enchanted little Rawdon, who had never seen their like before, and who, poor child, had never before been in such an atmosphere of kindness and good cheer.

On Christmas day a great family gathering took place, and one and all agreed that little Rawdon was a fine boy. They respected a possible Baronet in the boy between whom and the title there was only the little sickly, pale Pitt Blinkie.

The children were very good friends. Pitt Blinkie was too little a dog for such a big dog as Rawdon to play with, and Matilda, being only a girl, of course not fit companion for a young gentleman who was near eight years old, and going into jackets very soon. He took the command of this small party at once, the little girl and the little boy following him about with great reverence at such times as he condescended to sport with them. His happiness and pleasure in the country were extreme. The kitchen-garden pleased him hugely, the flowers moderately; but the pigeons and the poultry, and the stables, when he was allowed to visit them, were delightful objects to him. He resisted being kissed by the Misses Crawley; but he allowed Lady Jane sometimes to embrace him, and it was by her side that he liked to sit rather than by his mother. Rebecca, seeing that tenderness was the fashion, called Rawdon to her one evening, and stooped down and kissed him in the presence of all the ladies.

He looked her full in the face after the operation, trembling and turning very red, as his wont was when moved. "You never kiss me at home, Mamma," he said; at which there was a general silence and consternation, and by no means a pleasant look in Becky's eyes; but she was obliged to allow the incident to pass in silence.

But the greatest day of all was that on which Sir Huddlestone Fuddlestone's hounds met upon the lawn at Queen's Crawley.

That was a famous sight for little Rawdon. At half-past ten Tom Moody, Sir Huddlestone Fuddlestone's huntsman, was seen trotting up the avenue, followed by the noble pack of hounds in a compact body, the rear being brought up by the two whips clad in stained scarlet frocks, light, hard-featured lads on well-bred lean horses, possessing marvellous dexterity in casting the points of their long, heavy whips at the thinnest part of any dog's skin who dared to straggle from the main body, or to take the slightest notice, or even so much as wink at the hares and rabbits starting under their noses.

Next came boy Jack, Tom Moody's son, who weighed five stone, measured eight and forty inches, and would never be any bigger. He was perched on a large raw-boned hunter, half covered by a capacious saddle. This animal was Sir Huddlestone Fuddlestone's favourite horse, the Nob. Other horses ridden by other small boys arrived from time to time, awaiting their masters, who came cantering on anon.

Tom Moody rode up presently, and he and his pack drew off into a sheltered corner of the lawn, where the dogs rolled on the grass, and played or growled angrily at one another, ever and anon breaking out into furious fights, speedily to be quelled by Tom's voice, unmatched at rating, or the snaky thongs of the whips.

Many young gentlemen cantered up on thoroughbred hacks, spatter-dashed to the knee, and entered the house to pay their respects to the ladies, or, more modest and sportsmanlike, divested themselves of their mud-boots, exchanged their hacks for their hunters, and warmed their blood by a preliminary gallop round the lawn. Then they collected round the pack in the corner, and talked with Tom Moody of past sport, and the merits of Sniveller and Diamond, and of the state of the country and of the wretched breed of foxes.

Sir Huddlestone presently appears mounted on a clever cob, and rides up to the Hall, where he enters and does the civil thing by the ladies, after which, being a man of few words, he proceeds to business. The hounds are drawn up to the hall-door, and little Rawdon descends among them, excited yet half alarmed by the caresses which they bestow upon him, at the thumps he receives from their waving tails, and at their canine bickerings, scarcely restrained by Tom Moody's tongue and lash.

Meanwhile, Sir Huddlestone has hoisted himself unwieldily on the Nob. "Let's try Sowster's Spinney, Tom," says the Baronet; "Farmer Mangle tells me there are two foxes in it." Tom blows his horn and trots off, followed by the pack, by the whips, by the young gents from Winchester, by the farmers of the neighbourhood, by the labourers of the parish on foot, with whom the day is a great holiday; Sir Huddlestone bringing up the rear with Colonel Crawley; and the whole train of hounds and horsemen disappears down the avenue, leaving little Rawdon alone on the doorsteps, wondering and happy.

During the progress of this memorable holiday little Rawdon, if he had got no special liking for his uncle, always awful and cold, and locked up in his study, plunged in justice business and surrounded by bailiffs and farmers, has gained the good graces of his married and maiden aunts, of the two little folks of the Hall, and of Jim of the Rectory, and he had become extremely fond of Lady Jane, who told such beautiful stories with the children clustered about her knees. Naturally, after having his first glimpse of happy home life and his first taste of genuine motherly affection, it was a sad day to little Rawdon when he was obliged to return to Curzon Street. But there was an unexpected pleasure awaiting him on his return. Lord Steyne, though he wasted no affection upon the boy, yet for reasons of his own concerning only himself and Mrs. Becky, extended his good will to little Rawdon. Wishing to have the boy out of his way, he pointed out to Rawdon's parents the necessity of sending him to a public school; that he was of an age now when emulation, the first principles of the Latin language, pugilistic exercises, and the society of his fellow boys would be of the greatest benefit to him. His father objected that he was not rich enough to send the child to a good school; his mother, that Briggs was a capital mistress for him, and had brought him on, as indeed was the fact, famously in English, Latin, and in general learning; but all these objections were overruled by the Marquis of Steyne. His lordship was one of the Governors of that famous old collegiate institution called the White Friars, where he desired that little Rawdon should be sent, and sent he was; for Rawdon Crawley, though the only book which he studied was the racing calendar, and though his chief recollections of learning were connected with the floggings which he received at Eton in his early youth, had that reverence for classical learning which all English gentlemen feel, and was glad to think that his son was to have the chance of becoming a scholar. And although his boy was his chief solace and companion, he agreed at once to part with him for the sake of the welfare of the little lad.

It was honest Briggs who made up the little kit for the boy which he was to take to school. Molly, the housemaid, blubbered in the passage when he went away. Mrs. Becky could not let her husband have the carriage to take the boy to school. Take the horses into the city! Such a thing was never heard of. Let a cab be brought. She did not offer to kiss him when he went, nor did the child propose to embrace her, but gave a kiss to old Briggs and consoled her by pointing out that he was to come home on Saturdays, when she would have the benefit of seeing him. As the cab rolled towards the city Becky's carriage rattled off to the park. She gave no thought to either of them when the father and son entered at the old gates of the school, where Rawdon left the child, then walked home very dismally, and dined alone with Briggs, to whom he was grateful for her love and watchfulness over the boy. They talked about little Rawdon a long time, and Mr. Crawley went off to drink tea with Lady Jane, who was very fond of Rawdon, as was her little girl, who cried bitterly when the time for her cousin's departure came. Rawdon senior now told Lady Jane how little Rawdon went off like a trump, and how he was to wear a gown and little knee breeches, and Jack Blackball's son of the old regiment had taken him in charge and promised to be kind to him.

The Colonel went to see his son a short time afterwards, and found the lad sufficiently well and happy, grinning and laughing in his little black gown and little breeches. As a protege of the great Lord Steyne, the nephew of a county member, and son of a Colonel and C.B. whose names appeared in some of the most fashionable parties in the Morning Post, perhaps the school authorities were disposed not to look unkindly on the child.

He had plenty of pocket-money, which he spent in treating his comrades royally to raspberry tarts, and he was often allowed to come home on Saturdays to his father, who always made a jubilee of that day. When free, Rawdon would take him to the play, or send him thither with the footman; and on Sundays he went to church with Briggs and Lady Jane and his cousins. Rawdon marvelled over his stories about school, and fights, and fagging. Before long he knew the names of all the masters and the principal boys as well as little Rawdon himself. He invited little Rawdon's crony from school and made both the children sick with pastry, and oysters, and porter after the play. He tried to look knowing over the Latin grammar when little Rawdon showed him what part of that work he was "in." "Stick to it, my boy," he said to him with much gravity, "there's nothing like a good classical education! Nothing!"

While little Rawdon was still one of the fifty gown-boys of White Friar school, the Colonel, his poor father, got into great trouble through no fault of his own, but as a result of which Mrs. Becky was obliged to make her exit from Curzon Street forever, and the Colonel in bitter dejection and humiliation accepted an appointment as Governor of Coventry Island. For some time he resisted the idea of taking this place, because it had been procured for him through the influence of Lord Steyne, whose patronage was odious to him, as he had been the means of ruining the Colonel's homelife. The Colonel's instinct also was for at once removing the boy from the school where Lord Steyne's interest had placed him. He was induced, however, not to do this, and little Rawden was allowed to round out his days in the school, where he was very happy. After his mother's departure from Curzon Street she disappeared entirely from her son's life, and never made any movement to see the child.

He went home to his aunt, Lady Jane, for Sundays and holidays; and soon knew every bird's-nest about Queen's Crawley, and rode out with Sir Huddlestone's hounds, which he had admired so on his first well-remembered visit to the home of his ancestor. In fact, Rawdon was consigned to the entire guardianship of his aunt and uncle, to whom he was fortunately deeply devoted; and although he received several letters at various times from his mother, they made little impression upon him, and indeed it was easy to see where his affections were placed. When Sir Pitt's only boy died of whooping-cough and measles—then Mrs. Becky wrote the most affectionate letter to her darling son, who was made heir of Queen's Crawley by this accident, and drawn more closely than ever by it to Lady Jane, whose tender heart had already adopted him. Rawdon Crawley, then grown a tall, fine lad, blushed when he got the letter.

"Oh, Aunt Jane, you are my mother!" he said; "and not—and not that one!" But he wrote a kind and respectful letter in response to Mrs. Becky, and the incident was closed. As for the Colonel, he wrote to the boy regularly every mail from his post on Coventry Island, and little Rawdon used to like to get the papers and read about his Excellency, his father, of whom he had been truly fond. But the image gradually faded as the images of childhood do fade, and each year he grew more tenderly attached to Lady Jane and her husband, who had become father and mother to him in his hour of need.

As for George Osborne, the little boy whom Rawdon Crawley had given a ride on his pony long years before, the fates had been much kinder to him than to Rawdon. He had had no lonely childhood, for although he had no recollection of his handsome young father, from baby days he was surrounded by the utmost adoration by a doting mother. Poor Amelia, deprived of the husband whom she adored, lavished all the pent-up love of her gentle bosom upon the little boy with the eyes of George who was gone—a little boy as beautiful as a cherub, and there was never a moment when the child missed any office which love or affection could give him. His grandfather Sedley also adored the child, and it was the old man's delight to take out his little grandson to the neighbouring parks of Kensington Gardens, to see the soldiers or to feed the ducks. Georgie loved the red coats, and his grandpapa told him how his father had been a famous soldier, and introduced him to many sergeants and others with Waterloo medals on their breasts, to whom the old grandfather pompously presented the child; as on the occasion of their meeting with Colonel Rawdon Crawley and his little son.

Old Sedley was disposed to spoil little Georgie, sadly gorging the boy with apples and peppermint to the detriment of his health, until Amelia declared that Georgie should never go out with his grandpapa again unless the latter solemnly promised on his honour not to give the child any cakes, lollipops, or stall produce whatever.

Amelia's days were full of active employment, for besides caring for Georgie, she devoted much time to her old father and mother, with whom she and the child lived, and who were much broken by their financial reverses. She also personally superintended her little son's education for several years. She taught him to read and to write, and a little to draw. She read books, in order that she might tell him stories. As his eyes opened, and his mind expanded, she taught him to the best of her humble power to acknowledge the Maker of All; and every night and every morning he and she—the mother and the little boy—prayed to our Father together, the mother pleading with all her gentle heart, the child lisping after her as she spoke. And each time they prayed to God to bless dear papa, as if he were alive and in the room with them.

Besides her pension of fifty pounds a year, as an army officer's widow, there had been five hundred pounds left with the agent of her estate for her, for which Amelia did not know that she was indebted to Major Dobbin, until years later. This same Major, by the way, was stationed at Madras, where twice or thrice in the year she wrote to him about herself and the boy, and he in turn sent over endless remembrances to his godson and to her. He sent a box of scarfs, and a grand ivory set of chess-men from China. The pawns were little green and white men, with real swords and shields; the knights were on horseback, the castles were on the backs of elephants. These chessmen were the delight of Georgie's life, who printed his first letter of acknowledgment of this gift of his godpapa. Major Dobbin also sent over preserves and pickles, which latter the young gentleman tried surreptitiously in the sideboard, and half killed himself with eating. He thought it was a judgment upon him for stealing, they were so hot. Amelia wrote a comical little account of this mishap to the Major; it pleased him to think that her spirits were rallying, and that she could be merry sometimes now. He sent over a pair of shawls, a white one for her, and a black one with palm-leaves for her mother, and a pair of red scarfs, as winter wrappers, for old Mr. Sedley and George. The shawls were worth fifty guineas apiece, at the very least, as Mrs. Sedley knew. She wore hers in state at church at Brompton, and was congratulated by her female friends upon the splendid acquisition. Amelia's, too, became prettily her modest black gown.

Amidst humble scenes and associates Georgie's early youth was passed, and the boy grew up delicate, sensitive, imperious, woman-bred—domineering over the gentle mother whom he loved with passionate affection. He ruled all the rest of the little world round about him. As he grew, the elders were amazed at his haughty manner and his constant likeness to his father. He asked questions about everything, as inquiring youth will do. The profundity of his remarks and questions astonished his old grandfather, who perfectly bored the club at the tavern with stories about the little lad's learning and genius. He suffered his grandmother with a good-humoured indifference. The small circle round about him believed that the equal of the boy did not exist upon the earth. Georgie inherited his father's pride, and perhaps thought they were not wrong.

When he grew to be about six years old, Dobbin began to write to him very much. The Major wanted to hear that Georgie was going to a school, and hoped he would acquit himself with credit there; or would he have a good tutor at home? It was time that he should begin to learn; and his godfather and guardian hinted that he hoped to be allowed to defray the charges of the boy's education, which would fall heavily upon his mother's straitened income. The Major, in a word, was always thinking about Amelia and her little boy, and by orders to his agents kept the latter provided with picture-books, paint-boxes, desks, and all conceivable implements of amusement and instruction. Three days before Georgie's sixth birthday a gentleman in a gig, accompanied by a servant, drove up to Mrs. Sedley's house and asked to be conducted to Master George Osborne. It was Woolsey, military tailor, who came at the Major's order, to measure George for a suit of clothes. He had had the honour of making for the Captain, the young gentleman's father.

Sometimes, too, the Major's sisters, the Misses Dobbin, would call in the family carriage to take Amelia and the little boy a drive. The patronage of these ladies was very uncomfortable to Amelia, but she bore it meekly enough, for her nature was to yield; and besides, the carriage and its splendours gave little Georgie immense pleasure. The ladies begged occasionally that the child might pass a day with them, and he was always glad to go to that fine villa on Denmark Hill, where there were such fine grapes in the hot-house and peaches on the walls.

Miss Osborne, Georgie's aunt, who, since old Osborne's quarrel with his son, had not been allowed to have any intercourse with Amelia or little Georgie, was kept acquainted with the state of Amelia's affairs by the Misses Dobbin, who told how she was living with her father and mother; how poor they were; but how the boy was really the noblest little boy ever seen; which praise raised a great desire to see the child in the heart of his maiden aunt, and one night when he came back from Denmark Hill in the pony carriage in which he rejoiced, he had round his neck a fine gold chain and watch. He said an old lady, not pretty, had been there and had given it to him, who cried and kissed him a great deal. But he didn't like her. He liked grapes very much and he only liked his mamma. Amelia shrunk and started; she felt a presentiment of terror, for she knew that Georgie's relations had seen him.

Miss Osborne,—for it was indeed she who had seen Georgie,—went home that night to give her father his dinner. He was in rather a good-humour, and chanced to remark her excitement "What's the matter, Miss Osborne?" he deigned to ask.

The woman burst into tears. "Oh, sir," she said, "I've seen little Georgie. He is as beautiful as an angel—and so like him!"

The old man opposite to her did not say a word, but flushed up, and began to tremble in every limb, and that night he bade his daughter good-night in rather a kindly voice. And he must have made some inquiries of the Misses Dobbin regarding her visit to them when she had seen Georgie, for a fortnight afterwards he asked her where was her little French watch and chain she used to wear.

"I bought it with my money, sir," she said in a great fright, not daring to tell what she had done with it.

"Go and order another like it, or a better, if you can get it," said the old gentleman, and lapsed again into silence.

After that time the Misses Dobbin frequently invited Georgie to visit them, and hinted to Amelia that his aunt had shown her inclination; perhaps his grandfather himself might be disposed to be reconciled to him in time. Surely, Amelia could not refuse such advantageous chances for the boy. Nor could she; but she acceded to their overtures with a very heavy and suspicious heart, was always uneasy during the child's absence from her, and welcomed him back as if he was rescued out of some danger. He brought back money and toys, at which the widow looked with alarm and jealousy; she asked him always if he had seen any gentleman. "Only old Sir William, who drove him about in the four-wheeled chaise, and Mr. Dobbin, who arrived on the beautiful bay horse in the afternoon, in the green coat and pink neckcloth, with the gold-headed whip, who promised to show him the Tower of London and take him out with the Surrey hounds." At last he said: "There was an old gentleman, with thick eyebrows and a brown hat and large chain and seals. He came one day as the coachman was leading Georgie around the lawn on the grey pony. He looked at me very much. He shook very much. I said, 'My name is Norval,' after dinner. My aunt began to cry. She is always crying." Such was George's report on that night.

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


Then Amelia knew that the boy had seen his grandfather; and looked out feverishly for a proposal which she was sure would follow, and which came, in fact, a few days afterwards. Mr. Osborne formally offered to take the boy, and make him heir to the fortune which he had intended that his father should inherit. He would make Mrs. George Osborne an allowance, such as to assure her a decent competency. But it must be understood that the child would live entirely with his grandfather and be only occasionally permitted to see Mrs. George Osborne at her own home. This message was brought to her in a letter one day. She had only been seen angry a few times in her life, but now Mr. Osborne's lawyer so beheld her. She rose up trembling and flushing very much after reading the letter, and she tore the paper into a hundred fragments, which she trod on. "I take money to part from my child! Who dares insult me proposing such a thing? Tell Mr. Osborne it is a cowardly letter, sir—a cowardly letter—I will not answer it! I wish you good-morning," and she bowed the lawyer out of the room like a tragedy queen.

Her parents did not remark her agitation on that day. They were absorbed in their own affairs, and the old gentleman, her father, was deep in speculation, in which he was sinking the remittances regularly sent from India by his son, Joseph, for the support of his aged parents; and also that portion of Amelia's slender income which she gave each month to her father. Of this dangerous pastime of her father's Amelia was kept in ignorance, until the day came when he was obliged to confess that he was penniless. At once Amelia handed over to him what little money she had retained for her own and Georgie's expenses. She did this without a word of regret, but returned to her room to cry her eyes out, for she had made plans which would now be impossible, to have a new suit made for Georgie. This she was obliged to countermand, and, hardest of all, she had to break the matter to Georgie, who made a loud outcry. Everybody had new clothes at Christmas. The other boys would laugh at him. He would have new clothes, she had promised them to him. The poor widow had only kisses to give him. She cast about among her little ornaments to see if she could sell anything to procure the desired novelties. She remembered her India shawl that Dobbin sent her, which might be of value to a merchant with whom ladies had all sorts of dealings and bargains in these articles. She smiled brightly as she kissed away Georgie to school in the morning, and the boy felt that there was good news in her look.

As soon as he had gone she hurried away to the merchant with her shawl hidden under her cloak. As she walked she calculated how, with the proceeds of her shawl, besides the clothes, she would buy the books that he wanted, and pay his half year's schooling at the little school to which he went; and how she would buy a new coat for her father. She was not mistaken as to the value of the shawl. It was a very fine one, for which the merchant gave her twenty guineas. She ran on, amazed and flurried with her riches, to a shop where she purchased the books Georgie longed for, and went home exulting. And she pleased herself by writing in the fly leaf in her neatest little hand, "George Osborne, A Christmas gift from his affectionate mother."

She was going to place the books on Georgie's table, when in the passage she and her mother met. The gilt bindings of the little volumes caught the old lady's eye.

"What are those?" she said.

"Some books for Georgie," Amelia replied. "I—I promised them to him at Christmas."

"Books!" cried the old lady indignantly; books! when the whole house wants bread! Oh, Amelia! You break my heart with your books, and that boy of yours, whom you are ruining, though part with him you will not! Oh, Amelia, may God send you a more dutiful child than I have had! There's Joseph deserts his father in his old age; and there's George, who might be rich, going to school like a lord, with a gold watch and chain round his neck, while my dear, dear, old man is without a sh-shilling." Hysterical sobs ended Mrs. Sedley's grief, which quite melted Amelia's tender heart.

"Oh, mother, mother!" she cried. "You told me nothing. I—I promised him the books. I—I only sold my shawl this morning. Take the money—take everything—" taking out her precious golden sovereigns, which she thrust into her mother's hands, and then went into her room, and sank down in despair and utter misery. She saw it all. Her selfishness was sacrificing the boy. But for her, he might have wealth, station, education, and his father's place, which the elder George had forfeited for her sake. She had but to speak the words, and her father was restored to comfort, and the boy raised to fortune. Oh, what a conviction it was to that tender and stricken heart!

The combat between inclination and duty lasted for many weeks in poor Amelia's heart. Meanwhile by every means in her power she attempted to earn money, but was always unsuccessful. Then, when matters had become tragic in the little family circle, she could bear the burden of pain no longer. Her decision was made. For the sake of others the child must go from her. She must give him up,—she must—she must.

She put on her bonnet, scarcely knowing what she did, and went out to walk in the lanes, where she was in the habit of going to meet Georgie on his return from school. It was May, a half-holiday. The leaves were all coming out, the weather was brilliant. The boy came running to her flushed with health, singing, his bundle of school-books hanging by a thong. There he was. Both her arms were round him. No, it was impossible. They could not be going to part. "What is the matter, mother?" said he. "You look very sad."

"Nothing, my child," she said, and stooped down and kissed him. That night Amelia made the boy read the story of Samuel to her, and how Hannah, his mother, having weaned him, brought him to Eli the High Priest to minister before the Lord. And he read the song of gratitude which Hannah sang; and which says: "Who is it who maketh poor and maketh rich, and bringeth low and exalteth, how the poor shall be raised up out of the dust, and how, in his own might, no man shall be strong." Then he read how Samuel's mother made him a little coat, and brought it to him from year to year when she came up to offer the yearly sacrifice. And then, in her sweet, simple way, George's mother made commentaries to the boy upon this affecting story. How Hannah, though she loved her son so much, yet gave him up because of her vow. And how she must always have thought of him as she sat at home, far away, making the little coat, and Samuel, she was sure, never forgot his mother; and how happy she must have been as the time came when she should see her boy, and how good and wise he had grown. This little sermon she spoke with a gentle, solemn voice, and dry eyes, until she came to the account of their meeting. Then the discourse broke off suddenly, the tender heart overflowed, and taking the boy to her breast, she rocked him in her arms, and wept silently over him.

Her mind being made up, the widow began at once to take such measures as seemed right to her for achieving her purpose. One day, Miss Osborne, in Russell Square, got a letter from Amelia, which made her blush very much, and look towards her father, sitting glooming in his place at the other end of the table.

In simple terms, Amelia told her the reasons which had induced her to change her mind respecting her boy. Her father had met with fresh misfortunes which had entirely ruined him. Her own pittance was so small that it would barely enable her to support her parents and would not suffice to give George the advantages which were his due. Great as her sufferings would be at parting with him, she would, by God's help, endure them for the boy's sake. She knew that those to whom he was going would do all in their power to make him happy. She described his disposition, such as she fancied it; quick and impatient of control or harshness, easily to be moved by love and kindness. In a postscript, she stipulated that she should have a written agreement that she should see the child as often as she wished; she could not part with him under any other terms.

"What? Mrs. Pride has come down, has she?" old Osborne said, when with a tremulous voice Miss Osborne read him the letter. "Reg'lar starved out, hey? Ha, ha! I knew she would!" He tried to keep his dignity and to read his paper as usual, but he could not follow it. At last he flung it down: and scowling at his daughter, as his wont was, went out of the room and presently returned with a key. He flung it to Miss Osborne.

"Get the room over mine—his room that was—ready," he said.

"Yes, sir," his daughter replied in a tremble.

It was George's room. It had not been opened for more than ten years. Some of his clothes, papers, handkerchiefs, whips and caps, fishing-rods and sporting gear, were still there. An army list of 1814, with his name written on the cover; a little dictionary he was wont to use in writing; and the Bible his mother had given him, were on the mantelpiece; with a pair of spurs, and a dried inkstand covered with the dust of ten years. Ah! since that ink was wet, what days and people had passed away! The writing-book still on the table was blotted with his hand.

Miss Osborne was much affected when she first entered this room. She sank quite pale on the little bed. "This is blessed news, ma'am—indeed, ma'am," the housekeeper said; "the good old times is returning! The dear little feller, to be sure, ma'am; how happy he will be! But some folks in Mayfair, ma'am, will owe him a grudge!" and she clicked back the bolt which held the window-sash, and let the air into the chamber.

"You had better send that woman some money," Mr. Osborne said, before he went out. "She shan't want for nothing. Send her a hundred pound."

"And I'll go and see her to-morrow?" Miss Osborne asked.

"That's your lookout. She don't come in here, mind. But she mustn't want now. So look out, and get things right." With which brief speeches Mr. Osborne took leave of his daughter, and went on his accustomed way.

That night, when Amelia kissed her father, she put a bill for a hundred pounds into his hands, adding, "And—and, mamma, don't be harsh with Georgie. He—he is not going to stop with us long." She could say nothing more, and walked away silently to her room.

Miss Osborne came the next day, according to the promise contained in her note, and saw Amelia. The meeting between them was friendly. A look and a few words from Miss Osborne showed the poor widow that there need be no fear lest she should take the first place in her son's affection. She was cold, sensible, not unkind. Miss Osborne, on the other hand, could not but be touched with the poor mother's situation, and their arrangements were made together with kindness on both sides.

Georgie was kept from school the next day, and saw his aunt. Days were passed in talks, visits, preparations. The widow broke the matter to him with great caution; and was saddened to find him rather elated than otherwise. He bragged about the news that day to the boys at school; told them how he was going to live with his grandpapa, his father's father, not the one who comes here sometimes; and that he would be very rich, and have a carriage, and a pony, and go to a much finer school, and when he was rich he would buy Leader's pencil-case, and pay the tart woman.

At last the day came, the carriage drove up, the little humble packets containing tokens of love and remembrance were ready and disposed in the hall long since. George was in his new suit, for which the tailor had come previously to measure him. He had sprung up with the sun and put on the new clothes. Days before Amelia had been making preparations for the end; purchasing little stores for the boy's use; marking his books and linen; talking with him and preparing him for the change, fondly fancying that he needed preparation.

So that he had change, what cared he? He was longing for it. By a thousand eager declarations as to what he would do when he went to live with his grandfather, he had shown the poor widow how little the idea of parting had cast him down. He would come and see his mamma often on the pony, he said; he would come and fetch her in the carriage; they would drive in the Park, and she would have everything she wanted.

George stood by his mother, watching her final arrangements without the least concern, then said a gay farewell, went away smiling, and the widow was quite alone.

The boy came to see her often, after that, to be sure. He rode on a pony with the coachman behind him, to the delight of his old grandfather, Sedley, who walked proudly down the lane by his side. Amelia saw him, but he was not her boy any more. Why, he rode to see the boys at the little school, too, and to show off before them his new wealth and splendour. In two days he had adopted a slightly imperious air and patronising manner, and once fairly established in his grandfather Osborne's mansion in Russell Square, won the grandsire's heart by his good looks, gallant bearing, and gentlemanlike appearance. Mr. Osborne was as proud of him as ever he had been of the elder George, and the child had many more luxuries and indulgences than had been awarded to his father. Osborne's wealth and importance in the city had very much increased of late years. He had been glad enough to put the elder George in a good private school, and a commission in the army for his son had been a source of no small pride to him; but for little George and his future prospects the old man looked much higher. He would make a gentleman of the little chap, a collegian, a parliament man—a baronet, perhaps. He would have none but a tip-top college man to educate him. He would mourn in a solemn manner that his own education had been neglected, and repeatedly point out the necessity of classical acquirements.

When they met at dinner the grandfather used to ask the lad what he had been reading during the day, and was greatly interested at the report the boy gave of his studies, pretending to understand little George when he spoke regarding them. He made a hundred blunders, and showed his ignorance many a time, which George was quick to see and which did not increase the respect which the child had for his senior.

In fact, as young George had lorded it over the tender, yielding nature of his mother, so the coarse pomposity of the dull old man with whom he next came in contact, made him lord over the latter, too. If he had been a prince royal, he could not have been better brought up to think well of himself, and while his mother was yearning after him at home, he was having a number of pleasures and consolations administered to him which made the separation from Amelia a very easy matter to him. In fact, Master George Osborne had every comfort and luxury that a wealthy and lavish old grandfather thought fit to provide. He had the handsomest pony which could be bought, and on this was taught to ride, first at a riding-school, then in state to Regent's Park, and then to Hyde Park with Martin the coachman behind him.

Though he was scarcely eleven years of age, Master George wore straps, and the most beautiful little boots, like a man. He had gilt spurs and a gold-headed whip and a fine pin in his neckerchief, and the neatest little kid gloves which could be bought. His mother had given him a couple of neckcloths, and carefully made some little shirts for him; but when her Samuel came to see the widow, they were replaced by much finer linen. He had little jewelled buttons in the lawn shirt fronts. Her humble presents had been put aside—I believe Miss Osborne had given them to the coachman's boy.

Amelia tried to think she was pleased at the change. Indeed, she was happy and charmed to see the boy looking so beautiful. She had a little black profile of him done for a shilling, which was hung over her bed. One day the boy came galloping down on his accustomed visit to her, and with great eagerness pulled a red morocco case out of his coat pocket.

"I bought it with my own money, mamma," he said. "I thought you'd like it."

Amelia opened the case, and giving a little cry of delighted affection, seized him and embraced him a hundred times. It was a miniature of himself, very prettily done by an artist who had just executed his portrait for his grandfather. Georgie, who had plenty of money, bethought him to ask the painter how much a copy of the portrait would cost, saying that he would pay for it out of his own money, and that he wanted to give it to his mother. The pleased painter executed it for a small price, and old Osborne himself, when he heard of the incident, growled out his satisfaction, and gave the boy twice as many sovereigns as he paid for the miniature.

At his new home Master George ruled like a lord, and charmed his old grandfather by his ways. "Look at him," the old man would say, nudging his neighbour with a delighted purple face, "did you ever see such a chap? Lord, Lord! he'll be ordering a dressing-case next, and razors to shave with; I'm blessed if he won't."

The antics of the lad did not, however, delight Mr. Osborne's friends so much as they pleased the old gentleman. It gave Mr. Justice Coffin no pleasure to hear Georgie cut into the conversation and spoil his stories. Mr. Sergeant Toffy's lady felt no particular gratitude when he tilted a glass of port wine over her yellow satin, and laughed at the disaster; nor was she better pleased, although old Osborne was highly delighted, when Georgie "whopped" her third boy, a young gentleman a year older than Georgie, and by chance home for the holidays. George's grandfather gave the boy a couple of sovereigns for that feat, and promised to reward him further for every boy above his own size and age whom he whopped in a similar manner. It is difficult to say what good the old man saw in these combats; he had a vague notion that quarrelling made boys hardy, and that tyranny was a useful accomplishment for them to learn. Flushed with praise and victory over Master Toffy, George wished naturally to pursue his conquests further, and one day as he was strutting about in new clothes, near St. Paneras, and a young baker's boy made sarcastic comments upon his appearance, the youthful patrician pulled off his dandy jacket with great spirit, and giving it in charge to the friend who accompanied him (Master Todd, of Great Coram Street, Russell Square, son of the junior partner of the house of Osborne & Co.), tried to whop the little baker. But the chances of war were unfavourable this time, and the little baker whopped Georgie, who came home with a rueful black eye and all his fine shirt frill dabbled with the claret drawn from his own little nose. He told his grandfather that he had been in combat with a giant; and frightened his poor mother at Brampton with long, and by no means authentic, accounts of the battle.

This young Todd, of Coram Street, Russell Square, was Master George's great friend and admirer. They both had a taste for painting theatrical characters; for hardbake and raspberry tarts; for sliding and skating in the Regent's Park and the Serpentine, when the weather permitted; for going to the play, whither they were often conducted, by Mr. Osborne's orders, by Rowson, Master George's appointed body-servant, with whom they sate in great comfort in the pit.

In the company of this gentleman they visited all the principal theatres of the metropolis—knew the names of all the actors from Drury Lane to Sadler's Wells; and performed, indeed, many of the plays to the Todd family and their youthful friends, with West's famous characters, on their pasteboard theatre.

A famous tailor from the West End of the town was summoned to ornament little Georgie's person, and was told to spare no expense in so doing. So, Mr. Woolsey, of Conduit Street, gave a loose rein to his imagination, and sent the child home fancy trowsers, fancy waistcoats, and fancy jackets enough to furnish a school of little dandies. George had little white waistcoats for evening parties, and little cut velvet waistcoats for evening parties, and little cut velvet waistcoats for dinners, and a dear little darling shawl dressing-gown, for all the world like a little man. He dressed for dinner every day, "like a regular West End swell," as his grandfather remarked; one of the domestics was affected to his special service, attended him at his toilette, answered his bell, and brought him his letters always on a silver tray.

Georgie, after breakfast, would sit in the arm-chair in the dining-room, and read the Morning Post, just like a grown-up man. Those who remembered the Captain, his father, declared Master George was his pa, every inch of him. He made the house lively by his activity, his imperiousness, his scolding, and his good-nature.

George's education was confided to the Reverend Lawrence Veal, a private pedagogue who "prepared young noblemen and gentlemen for the Universities, the Senate, and the learned professions; whose system did not embrace the degrading corporal severities still practised at the ancient places of education, and in whose family the pupils would find the elegances of refined society and the confidence and affection of a home," as his prospectus stated.

Georgie was only a day pupil; he arrived in the morning, and if it was fine would ride away in the afternoon, on his pony. The wealth of his grandfather was reported in the school to be prodigious. The Reverend Mr. Veal used to compliment Georgie upon it personally, warning him that he was destined for a high station; that it became him to prepare for the lofty duties to which he would be called later; that obedience in the child was the best preparation for command in the man; and that he therefore begged George would not bring toffee into the school and ruin the health of the other pupils, who had everything they wanted at the elegant and abundant table of Mrs. Veal.

Whenever Mr. Veal spoke he took care to produce the very finest and longest words of which the vocabulary gave him the use, and his manner was so pompous that little Georgie, who had considerable humour, used to mimic him to his face with great spirit and dexterity, without ever being discovered. Amelia was bewildered by Mr. Veal's phrases, but thought him a prodigy of learning, and made friends with his wife, that she might be asked to Mrs. Veal's receptions, which took place once a month, and where the professor welcomed his pupils and their friends to weak tea and scientific conversation. Poor little Amelia never missed one of these entertainments, and thought them delicious so long as she might have George sitting by her.

As for the learning which George imbibed under Mr. Veal, to judge from the weekly reports which the lad took home, his progress was remarkable. The name of a score or more of desirable branches of knowledge were printed in a table, and the pupil's progress in each was marked by the professor. In Greek Georgie was pronounced Aristos, in Latin Optimus, in French Tres bien, etc.; and everybody had prizes for everything at the end of the year. Even that idle young scapegrace of a Master Todd, godson of Mr. Osborne, received a little eighteen-penny book, with Athene engraved on it, and a pompous Latin inscription from the professor to his young friend. An example of Georgie's facility in the art of composition is still treasured by his proud mother, and reads as follows:

Example: The selfishness of Achilles, as remarked by the poet Homer, occasioned a thousand woes to the Greeks (Hom. II A 2). The selfishness of the late Napoleon Bonaparte occasioned innumerable wars in Europe, and caused him to perish himself in a miserable island—that of St. Helena in the Atlantic Ocean.

We see by these examples that we are not to consult our own interest and ambition, but that we are to consider the interests of others as well as our own.


Athene House, 24 April, 1827.

While Georgie's days were so full of new interests, Amelia's life was anything but one of pleasure, for it was passed almost entirely in the sickroom of her mother, with only the gleams of joy when little George visited her, or with an occasional walk to Russell Square. Then came the day when the invalid was buried in the churchyard at Brompton and Amelia's little boy sat by her side at the service in pompous new sables and quite angry that he could not go to a play upon which he had set his heart, while his mother's thoughts went back to just such another rainy, dark day, when she had married George Osborne in that very church.

After the funeral the widow went back to the bereaved old father, who was stunned and broken by the loss of his wife, his honour, his fortune, in fact, everything he loved best. There was only Amelia now to stand by the tottering, heart-broken old man. This she did, to the best of her ability, all unconscious that on life's ocean a bark was sailing headed towards her with those aboard who were to bring change and comfort to her life.

One day when the young gentlemen of Mr. Veal's select school were assembled in the study, a smart carriage drove up to the door and two gentlemen stepped out. Everybody was interested, from Mr. Veal himself, who hoped he saw the fathers of some future pupils arriving, down to Master George, glad of any pretext of laying his book down.

The boy who always opened the door came into the study, and said: "Two gentlemen want to see Master Osborne." The Professor had had a trifling dispute in the morning with that young gentleman, owing to a difference about the introduction of crackers in school-time; but his face resumed its habitual expression of bland courtesy, as he said, "Master Osborne, I give you full permission to go and see your carriage friends,—to whom I beg you to convey the respectful compliments of myself and Mrs. Veal."

George went into the reception room, and saw two strangers, whom he looked at with his head up, in his usual haughty manner. One was fat, with moustaches, and the other was lean and long in a blue frock coat, with a brown face, and a grizzled head.

"My God, how like he is!" said the long gentleman, with a start. "Can you guess who we are, George?"

The boy's face flushed up, and his eyes brightened. "I don't know the other," he said, "but I should think you must be Major Dobbin."

Indeed, it was Major Dobbin, who had come home on urgent private affairs, and who on board the Ramchunder, East Indiaman, had fallen in with no other than the Widow Osborne's stout brother, Joseph, who had passed the last ten years in Bengal. A voyage to Europe was pronounced necessary for him, and having served his full time in India, and having laid by a considerable sum of money, he was free to come home and stay with a good pension, or to return and resume that rank in the service to which he was entitled.

Many and many a night as the ship was cutting through the roaring dark sea, the moon and stars shining overhead, and the bell singing out the watch, Mr. Sedley and the Major would sit on the quarter deck of the vessel, talking about home as they smoked. In these conversations, with wonderful perseverance, Major Dobbin would always manage to bring the talk round to the subject of Amelia. Jos was a little testy about his father's misfortunes and application to him for money, but was soothed down by the Major, who pointed out the elder's ill fortunes in old age. He pointed out how advantageous it would be for Jos Sedley to have a house of his own in London, and how his sister Amelia would be the very person to preside over it; how elegant, how gentle she was, and of what refined good manners. He then hinted how becoming it would be for Jos to send Georgy to a good school and make a man of him. In a word, this artful Major made Jos promise to take charge of Amelia and her unprotected child before that pompous civilian made the discovery that he was binding himself.

Then came the arrival of the Ramchunder, the going ashore, and the entrance of the two men into the little home where Amelia was keeping her faithful watch over her feeble father. The excitement and surprise were a great shock to the old man, while to Amelia they were the greatest happiness that could have come to her. Of course the first thing she did was to show Georgie's miniature, and to tell of his great accomplishments, and then she secured the promise that the Major and her brother would visit the Reverend Mr. Veal's school at the earliest possible moment. This promise we have seen redeemed. Major Dobbin and Joseph Sedley, having become acquainted with the details of Amelia's lonely life, and of Georgie's happy one, lost no time in altering such circumstances as were within their power to change. Jos Sedley, notwithstanding his pompous selfishness and egoism, had a very tender heart, and shortly after his first appearance at Brompton, old Sedley and his daughter were carried away from the humble cottage in which they had passed the last ten years of their life to the handsome new home which Jos Sedley had provided for himself and them.

Good fortune now began to smile upon Amelia. Jos's friends were all from three presidencies, and his new house was in the centre of the comfortable Anglo-Indian district. Owing to Jos Sedley's position numbers of people came to see Mrs. Osborne who before had never noticed her. Lady Dobbin and her daughters were delighted at her change of fortune, and called upon her. Miss Osborne, herself, came in her grand chariot; Jos was reported to be immensely rich. Old Osborne had no objection that George should inherit his uncle's property as well as his own. "We will make a man of the fellow," he said; "and I will see him in parliament before I die. You may go and see his mother, Miss Osborne, though I'll never set eyes on her"; and Miss Osborne came. George was allowed to dine once or twice a week with his mother, and bullied the servants and his relations there, just as he did in Russell Square.

He was always respectful to Major Dobbin, however, and more modest in his demeanour when that gentleman was present. He was a clever lad, and afraid of the Major. George could not help admiring his friend's simplicity, his good-humour, his various learning quietly imparted, his general love of truth and justice. He had met no such man as yet in the course of his experience, and he had an instinctive liking for a gentleman. He hung fondly by his god-father's side; and it was his delight to walk in the Parks and hear Dobbin talk. William told George about his father, about India and Waterloo, about everything but himself. When George was more than usually pert and conceited, the Major joked at him, which Mrs. Osborne thought very cruel. One day taking him to the play, and the boy declining to go into the pit because it was vulgar, the Major took him to the boxes, left him there, and went down himself to the pit. He had not been seated there very long before he felt an arm thrust under his, and a dandy little hand in a kid-glove squeezing his arm. George had seen the absurdity of his ways, and come down from the upper region. A tender laugh of benevolence lighted up old Dobbin's face and eyes as he looked at the repentant little prodigal. He loved the boy very deeply.

If there was a sincere liking between George and the Major, it must be confessed that between the boy and his Uncle Joseph no great love existed. George had got a way of blowing out his cheeks, and putting his hands in his waistcoat pockets, and saying, "God bless my soul, you don't say so," so exactly after the fashion of old Jos, that it was impossible to refrain from laughter. The servants would explode at dinner if the lad, asking for something which wasn't at table, put on that countenance and used that favourite phrase. Even Dobbin would shoot out a sudden peal at the boy's mimicry. If George did not mimic his uncle to his face, it was only by Dobbin's rebukes and Amelia's terrified entreaties that the little scapegrace was induced to desist. And Joseph, having a dim consciousness that the lad thought him an ass, and was inclined to turn him into ridicule, used to be of course doubly pompous and dignified in the presence of Master George. When it was announced that the young gentleman was expected to dine with his mother, Mr. Jos commonly found that he had an engagement at the Club, and perhaps nobody was much grieved at his absence.

Before long Amelia had a visiting-book, and was driving about regularly in a carriage, from which a buttony boy sprang from the box with Amelia's and Jos's visiting cards. At stated hours Emmy and the carriage went to the Club, and took Jos for an airing; or, putting old Sedley into the vehicle, she drove the old man round the Regent's Park. We are not long in growing used to changes in life. Her lady's-maid and the chariot, her visiting book, and the buttony page became soon as familiar to Amelia as the humble routine of Brompton. She accommodated herself to one as to the other, and entertained Jos's friends with the same unselfish charm with which she cared for and amused old John Sedley.

Then came the day when that poor old man closed his eyes on the familiar scenes of earth, and Major Dobbin, Jos, and George followed his remains-to the grave in a black cloth coach. "You see," said old Osborne to George, when the burial was over, "what comes of merit and industry and good speculation, and that. Look at me and my bank account. Look at your poor Grandfather Sedley, and his failure. And yet he was a better man than I was, this day twenty years—a better man, I should say, by ten thousand pounds." And this worldly wisdom little George received in profound silence, taking it for what it was worth.

About this time old Osborne conceived much admiration for Major Dobbin, which he had acquired from the world's opinion of that gentleman. Also Major Dobbin's name appeared in the lists of one or two great parties of the nobility, which circumstance had a prodigious effect upon the old aristocrat of Russell Square. Also the Major's position as guardian to George, whose possession had been ceded to his grandfather, rendered some meetings between the two gentleman inevitable, and it was in one of these that old Osborne, from a chance hint supplied by the blushing Major, discovered that a part of the fund upon which the poor widow and her child had subsisted during their time of want, had been supplied out of William Dobbin's own pocket. This information gave old Osborne pain, but increased his admiration for the Major, who had been such a loyal friend to his son's wife. From that time it was evident that old Osborne's opinion was softening, and soon Jos and the Major were asked to dinner at Russell Square,—to a dinner the most splendid that perhaps ever Mr. Osborne gave; every inch of the family plate was exhibited and the best company was asked. More than once old Osborne asked Major Dobbin about Mrs. George Osborne,—a theme on which the Major could be very eloquent.

"You don't know what she endured, sir," said honest Dobbin; "and I hope and trust you will be reconciled to her. If she took your son away from you, she gave hers to you; and however much you loved your George, depend on it, she loved hers ten times more."

"You are a good fellow, sir!" was all Mr. Osborne said. But it was evident in later events that the conversation had had its effect upon the old man. He sent for his lawyers, and made some changes in his will, which was well, for one day shortly after that act he died suddenly.

When his will was read it was found that half the property was left to George. Also an annuity of five hundred pounds was left to his mother, "the widow of my beloved son, George Osborne," who was to resume the guardianship of the boy.

Major William Dobbin was appointed executor, "and as out of his kindness and bounty he maintained my grandson and my son's widow with his own private funds when they were otherwise without means of support" (the testator went on to say), "I hereby thank him heartily, and beseech him to accept such a sum as may be sufficient to purchase his commission as a Lieutenant Colonel, or to be disposed of in any way he may think fit." When Amelia heard that her father-in-law was reconciled to her, her heart melted, and she was grateful for the fortune left to her. But when she heard how George was restored to her, and that it had been William's bounty that supported her in poverty, that it was William who had reconciled old Osborne to her, then her gratitude and joy knew no bounds.

When the nature of Mr. Osborne's will became known to the world, once more Mrs. George Osborne rose in the estimation of the people forming her circle of acquaintance; even Jos himself paid her and her rich little boy, his nephew, the greatest respect, and began to show her much more attention than formerly.

As George's guardian, Amelia begged Miss Osborne to live in the Russell Square house, but Miss Osborne did not choose to do so. And Amelia also declined to occupy the gloomy old mansion. But one day, clad in deep sables, she went with George to visit the deserted house which she had not entered since she was a girl. They went into the great blank rooms, the walls of which bore the marks where pictures and mirrors had hung. Then they went up the great stone staircase into the upper rooms, into that where grandpapa died, as Georgie said in a whisper, and then higher still into George's own room. The boy was still clinging by her side, but she thought of another besides him. She knew that it had been his father's room before it was his.

"Look here, mother," said George, standing by the window, "here's G.O. scratched on the glass with a diamond; I never saw it before. I never did it."

"It was your father's room long before you were born, George," she said, and she blushed as she kissed the boy.

She was very silent as they drove back to Richmond, where they had taken a temporary house, but after that time practical matters occupied her mind. There were many directions to be given and much business to transact, and Amelia immediately found herself in the whirl of quite a new life, and experienced the extreme joy of having George continually with her, as he was at that time removed from Mr. Veal's on an unlimited holiday.

George's aunt, Mrs. Bullock, who had before her marriage been Miss Osborne, thought it wise now to become reconciled with Amelia and her boy. Consequently one day her chariot drove up to Amelia's house, and the Bullock family made an irruption into the garden, where Amelia was reading.

Jos was in an arbour, placidly dipping strawberries into wine, and the Major was giving a back to George, who chose to jump over him. He went over his head, and bounded into the little group of Bullocks, with immense black bows on their hats, and huge black sashes, accompanying their mourning mamma.

"He is just the age for Rosa," the fond parent thought, and glanced towards that dear child, a little miss of seven years. "Rosa, go and kiss your dear cousin," added Mrs. Bullock. "Don't you know me, George? I am your aunt."

"I know you well enough," George said; "but I don't like kissing, please," and he retreated from the obedient caresses of his cousin.

"Take me to your dear mamma, you droll child," Mrs. Bullock said; and those ladies met, after an absence of more than fifteen years. During Emmy's poverty Mrs. Bullock had never thought about coming to see her; but now that she was decently prosperous in the world, her sister-in-law came to her as a matter of course.

So did many others. In fact, before the period of grief for Mr. Osborne's death had subsided, Emmy, had she wished, could have become a leader in fashionable society. But that was not her desire: worn out with the long period of poverty, care, and separation from George, her one wish was a change of scene and thought.

Because of this wish, some time later, on a fine morning, when the Batavier steamboat was about to leave its dock, we see among the carriages being taken on, a very neat, handsome travelling carriage, from which a courier, Kirsch by name, got out and informed inquirers that the carriage belonged to an enormously rich Nabob from Calcutta and Jamaica, with whom he was engaged to travel. At this moment a young gentleman who had been warned off the bridge between the paddle-boxes, and who had dropped thence onto the roof of Lord Methusala's carriage, from which he made his way over other carriages until he had clambered onto his own, descended thence and through the window into the body of the carriage to the applause of the couriers looking on.

"Nous allons avoir une belle traversee, Monsieur George," said Kirsch with a grin, as he lifted his gold laced cap.

"Bother your French!" said the young gentleman.

"Where's the biscuits, ay?" Whereupon Kirsch answered him in such English as he could command and produced the desired repast.

The imperious young gentleman who gobbled the biscuits (and indeed it was time to refresh himself, for he had breakfasted at Richmond full three hours before) was our young friend George Osborne. Uncle Jos and his mamma were on the quarter-deck with Major Dobbin, and the four were about to make a summer tour. Amelia wore a straw bonnet with black ribbons, and otherwise dressed in mourning, but the little bustle and holiday of the journey pleased and excited her, and from that day throughout the entire journey she continued to be very happy and pleased. Wherever they stopped Dobbin used to carry about for her her stool and sketch book, and admired her drawings as they never had been admired before. She sat upon steamer decks and drew crags and castles, or she mounted upon donkeys and descended to ancient robber towers, attended by her two escorts, Georgie and Dobbin. Dobbin was interpreter for the party, having a good military knowledge of the German language, and he and the delighted George, who was having a wonderful trip, fought over again the campaigns of the Rhine and the Palatinate. In the course of a few weeks of constant conversation with Herr Kirsch on the box of the carriage, George made great advance in the knowledge of High Dutch, and could talk to hotel waiters and postilions in a way that charmed his mother and amused his guardian.

At the little ducal town of Pumpernickel our party settled down for a protracted stay. There each one of them found something especially pleasing or interesting them, and there it was that they encountered an acquaintance of other days,—no other than Mrs. Rawdon Crawley; and because of Becky's experiences since she had quitted her husband, her child, and the little house in Curzon Street, London, of which he knew the details, Major Dobbin was anything but pleased at the meeting.

But Becky told Amelia a pathetic little tale of misery, neglect, and estrangement from those she loved, and tenderhearted Amelia, who quivered with indignation at the recital, at once invited Becky to join their party. To this Major Dobbin made positive objections, but Amelia remained firm in her resolve to shelter the friend of her school-days, the mother who had been cruelly taken away from her boy by a misjudging sister-in-law. This decision brought about a crisis in Amelia's affairs: Major Dobbin, who had been so devotedly attached to Amelia for years, also remained firm, and insisted not only that Amelia have no more to do with Mrs. Crawley, but that if she did, he would leave the party. Amelia was firm and loyal, and honest Dobbin made preparations for his departure.

When the coach that was to carry old Dob away drew up before the door, Georgie gave an exclamation of surprise.

"Hello!" said he, "there's Dob's trap! There's Francis coming out with the portmanteau, and the postilion. Look at his boots and yellow jacket—why—they are putting the horses to Dob's carriage. Is he going anywhere?"

"Yes," said Amelia, "he is going on a journey."

"Going on a journey! And when is he coming back?"

"He is—not coming back," answered Amelia.

"Not coming back!" cried out Georgie, jumping up.

"Stay here," roared out Jos.

"Stay, Georgie," said his mother, with a very sad face.

The boy stopped, kicked about the room, jumped up and down from the window seat, and finally, when the Major's luggage had been carried out, gave way to his feelings again. "By Jove, I will go!" screamed out George, and rushed downstairs and flung across the street in a minute.

The yellow postilion was cracking his whip gently. William had got into the carriage, George bounded in after him, and flung his arms around the Major's neck, asking him multiplied questions. William kissed Georgie, spoke gently and sadly to him, and the boy got out, doubling his fists into his eyes. The yellow postilion cracked his whip again, up sprang Francis to the box, and away Dobbin was carried, never looking up as he passed under Amelia's window; and Georgie, left alone in the street, burst out crying in the face of all the crowd and continued his lamentations far into the night, when Amelia's maid, who heard him howling, brought him some preserved apricots to console him.

Thus honest Dobbin passed out of the life of Amelia and her boy, but not forever. Gentle Amelia was soon disillusioned in regard to the old schoolmate whom she had taken under her care, and found that in all the world there was no one who meant so much to her as faithful Dobbin. One morning she wrote and despatched a note, the inscription of which no one saw; but on account of which she looked very much flushed and agitated when Georgie met her coming from the Post; and she kissed him and hung over him a great deal that night. Two mornings later George, walking on the dyke with his mother, saw by the aid of his telescope an English steamer near the pier. George took the glass again and watched the vessel.

"How she does pitch! There goes a wave slap over her bows. There's a man lying down, and a—chap—in a—cloak with a—Hurrah! It's Dob, by jingo!" He clapped to the telescope and flung his arms round his mother, then ran swiftly off; and Amelia was left to make her peace alone with the faithful Major, who had returned at her request.

Some days later Becky Sharp felt it wise to leave for Bruges, and in the little church at Ostend there was a wedding, at which the only witnesses were Georgie and his Uncle Jos. Amelia Osborne had decided to accept the Major's protection for life, to the never-ending satisfaction of George, to whom the Major had always been comrade and father.

Immediately after his marriage Colonel Dobbin quitted the service and rented a pretty little country place in Hampshire, not far from Queen's Crawley, where Sir Pitt and his family constantly resided now, and where Rawdon Crawley was regarded as their son.

Lady Jane and Mrs. Dobbin became great friends, and there was a perpetual crossing of pony chaises between the two places. Lady Jane was godmother to Mrs. Dobbin's little girl, who bore her name, and the two lads, George Osborne and Rawdon Crawley, who had met so many years before as children when little Rawdon invited George to take a ride on his pony, and whose lives had been filled with such different experiences since that time, now became close friends. They were both entered at the same college at Cambridge, hunted and shot together in the vacations, confided in each other; and when we last see them, fast becoming young men, they are deep in a quarrel about Lady Jane's daughter, with whom they were both, of course, in love.

No further proof of approaching age is needed than a quarrel over a young lady, and the lads, George and Rawdon, now give place forever to men. Though the circumstances of their lives had been unlike, though George had had all the love that a devoted mother could give, and all the luxury which money could supply: and Rawdon had been without a mother's devotion; without the surroundings which had made George's life luxurious,—on the threshold of manhood we find them on an equal footing, entering life's arena, strong of limb, glad of heart, eager for what manhood was to bring them.