Imágenes de páginas
PDF
EPUB

she never would--no, never! Was not dear Rosey's health already impaired by the various shocks which she had undergone? Did she not require every comfort, every attendance ? Monster! ask the doctor! She would stay with her darling child in spite of insult and rudeness and vulgarity. (Rosey's father was a King's officer, not a Company's officer, thank God!) She would stay as long at least as Rosey's situation continued, at Boulogne, if not in London, but with her child. They might refuse to send her money, having robbed her of all her own, but she would pawn her gown off her back for her child. Whimpers from Rosey-cries of “Mamma, mamma, compose yourself," — convulsive sobs --- clenched knuckles — flashing eyesembraces rapidly clutched — laughs - stamps - snorts — from the dishevelled Campaigner; grinding teeth - livid fury and repeated breakages of the third commandment by Clive—I can fancy the whole scene. He returned to London without his wife, and when she came she brought Mrs. Mackenzie with her.

CHAPTER LXXV.

FOUNDER'S DAY AT GREY FRIARS. ROSEY came, bringing discord and wretchedness with her, to her

I husband, and the sentence of death or exile to his dear old father, all of which we foresaw-all of which Clive's friends would have longed to prevent--all of which were inevitable under the circumstances. Clive's domestic affairs were often talked over by our little set. Warrington and F. B. knew of his unhappiness. We three had strongly opined that the women being together at Boulogne, should stay there and live there, Clive sending them over pecuniary aid as his means permitted. 6 They must hate each other pretty well by this time," growls George Warrington. “Why on earth should they not part ?” “What a woman that Mrs. Mackenzie is,” cries F. B. “What an infernal tartar and catamaran! She who was so uncommonly smiling and soft-spoken, and such a fine woman, by jingo! What puzzles all women are.” F. B. sighed, and drowned further reflection in beer.

On the other side, and most strongly advocating Rosey's return to Clive, was Mrs. Laura Pendennis; with certain arguments for which she had chapter and verse, and against which we of the separatist party had no appeal. “ Did he marry her only for the days of her prosperity ?" asked Laura. “Is it right, is it manly, that he should leave her now she is unhappy-poor little creature-no woman had ever more need of protection; and who should be her natural guardian save her husband ? Surely, Arthur, you forget-have you forgotten them yourself, sir ?—the solemn vows which Clive made at the altar. Is he not bound to his wife to keep only unto her so long as they both shall live, to love her, comfort her, honour her, and keep her in sickness and health ?”

“ To keep her, yes--but not to keep the Campaigner," cries Mr. Pendennis. “It is a moral bigamy, Laura, which you advocate, you wicked, immoral young woman!”

But Laura, though she smiled at this notion, would not be put off from her first proposition. Turning to Clive, who was with us, talking over his doleful family circumstances, she took his hand and pleaded the cause of right and religion with sweet artless fervour. She agreed with us that it was a hard lot for Clive to bear. So much the nobler the task, and the fulfilment of duty in enduring it. A few months. too would put an end to his trials. When his child was born Mrs. Mackenzie would take her departure. It would even be Clive's. duty to separate from her then, as it now was to humour his wife in her delicate condition, and to soothe the poor soul who had had a great deal of ill-health, of misfortune, and of domestic calamity to wear and shatter her. Clive acquiesced with a groan, but with a touching and generous resignation as we both thought. “She is right, Pen," he said. “I think your wife is always right. I will try, Laura, and bear my part, God help me! I will do my duty and strive my best to soothe and gratify my poor dear little woman. They will be making caps and things, and will not interrupt me in my studio. Of nights I can go to Clipstone Street and work at the Life. There's nothing like the Life, Pen. So you see I shan't be much at home except at meal-times, when by nature I shall have my mouth full, and no opportunity of quarrelling with poor Mrs. Mack.” So he went home, followed and cheered by the love and pity of my dear wife, and determined stoutly to bear this heavy yoke which fate had put on him.

To do Mrs. Mackenzie justice, that lady backed up with all her might the statement which my wife had put forward, with a view of soothing poor Clive, viz., that the residence of his mother-in-law in his house was only to be temporary. - Temporary !" cries Mrs. Mack (who was kind enough to make a call on Mrs. Pendennis, and treat that lady to a piece of her mind). “Do you suppose, madam, that

me to stay in a house where I have received such treatment-where, after I and my daughter had been robbed of every shilling of our fortune, we are daily insulted by Colonel Newcome and his son ? Do you suppose, ma'am, that I do not know that Clive's friends hate me, and give themselves airs and look down upon my darling child, and try and make differences between my sweet Rosey and me-Rosey who might have been dead, or might have been starving, but that her dear mother came to her rescue? No, I would never stay. I loathe every day that I remain in the house-I would rather beg my bread-1 would rather sweep the streets and starve—though, thank God, I have my pension as the widow of an officer in her Majesty's Service, and I can live upon that-and of that Colonel Newcome cannot rob me; and when my darling love needs a mother's care no longer, I will leave her. I will shake the dust off my feet and leave that house, I will And Mr. Newcome's friends may then sneer at me and abuse me, and blacken my darling child's heart towards me if they choose. And I thank you, Mrs. Pendennis, for all your kindness towards my daughter's family, and for the furniture which you have sent into the house, and for the trouble you have taken about our family arrange

ments. It was for this I took the liberty of calling upon you, and I wish you a very good morning." So speaking, the Campaigner left. my wife; and Mrs. Pendennis enacted the pleasing scene with great spirit to her husband afterwards, concluding the whole with a splendid curtsey and toss of the head, such as Mrs. Mackenzie performed as her parting salute.

Our dear Colonel had fled before her. He had acquiesced humbly. with the decree of fate; and, lonely, old and beaten, marched honestly. on the path of duty. It was a great blessing, he wrote to us, to him to think that in happier days and during many years he had been enabled to benefit his kind and excellent relative, Miss Honeyman. He could thankfully receive her hospitality now, and claim the kindness and shelter which this old friend gave him. No one could be inore anxious to make him comfortable. The air of Brighton did him the greatest good; he had found some old friends, some old Bengalees there, with whom he enjoyed himself greatly, &c. How much did we, who knew his noble spirit, believe of this story? To us heaven had awarded health, happiness, competence, loving children, united hearts, and modest prosperity. To yonder good man, whose long life shone with benefactions, and whose career was but kindness and honour, fate decreed poverty, disappointment, separation, a lonely old age. We bowed our heads, humiliated at the contrast of his lot and ours; and prayed heaven to enable us to bear our present good fortune meekly, and our evil days, if they should come, with such a resignation as this good Christian showed.

I forgot to say that our attempts to better Thomas Newcome's money affairs were quite in vain, the Colonel insisting upon paying over every shilling of his military allowances and retiring pension to the parties from whom he had borrowed money previous to his bankruptcy, “Ah! what a good man that is," says Mr. Sherrick with tears in his eyes, " what a noble fellow, sir. He would die rather than not pay every farthing over. He'd starve, sir, that he would. The money ain't mine, sir, or, if it was, do you think I'd take it from the poor old boy? No, sir; by Jove I honour and reverence him more now he ain't got a shilling in his pocket, than ever I did when we thought he was a rolling in money.

My wife made one or two efforts at Samaritan visits in Howland Street, but was received by Mrs. Clive with such a faint welcome, and by the Campaigner with so grim a countenance, so many sneers, inuendoes, insults almost, that Laura's charity was beaten back, and. she ceased to press good offices thus thanklessly received. If Clive came to visit us, as he very rarely did, after an official question or two regarding the health of his wife and child, no farther mention was. made of his family affairs. His painting, he said, was getting on tole

rably well; he had work, scantily paid, it is true, but work sufficient. He was reserved, uncommunicative, unlike the frank Clive of former times, and oppressed by his circumstances, as it was easy to see. I did not press the confidence which he was unwilling to offer, and thought best to respect his silence. I had a thousand affairs of my own; who has not in London ? If you die to-morrow, your dearest friend will feel for you a hearty pang of sorrow, and go to his business as usual. I could divine, but would not care to describe, the life which my poor Clive was now leading; the vulgar misery, the sordid home, the cheerless toil, and lack of friendly companionship which darkened his kind soul. I was glad Clive's father was away. The Colonel wrote to us twice or thrice; could it be three months ago ? bless me, how time flies! He was happy, he wrote, with Miss Honeyman, who took the best care of him.

Mention has been made once or twice in the course of this history of the Grey Friars school, where the Colonel and Clive and I had been brought up, an ancient foundation of the time of James I., still subsisting in the heart of London city. The death-day of the founder of the place is still kept solemnly by Cistercians. In their chapel, where assemble the boys of the school, and the fourscore old men of the Hospital, the founder's tomb stands, a huge edifice, emblazoned with heraldic decorations and clumsy carved allegories. · There is an old Hall, a beautiful specimen of the architecture of James's time; an old Hall? many old halls; old staircases, old passages, old chambers decorated with old portraits, walking in the midst of which we walk as it were in the early seventeenth century. To others than Cistercians, Grey Friars is a dreary place possibly. Nevertheless, the pupils educated there love to revisit it; and the oldest of us grow young again for an hour or two as we come back into those scenes of

The custom of the school is, that on the 12th of December, the Founder's Day, the head gown-boy shall recite a Latin oration, in praise Fundatoris Nostri, and upon other subjects; and a goodly

this oration : after which we go to chapel and hear a sermon; after which we adjourn to a great dinner, where old condisciples meet, old toasts are given, and speeches are made. Before marching from -the oration-hall to chapel, the stewards of the day's dinner, according to old-fashioned rite, have wands put into their hands, walk to church at the head of the procession, and sit there in places of honour. The boys are already in their seats, with smug fresh faces, and shining white collars; the old black-gowned pensioners are on their benches; the chapel is lighted, and Founder's Tomb, with its grotesque carvings,

« AnteriorContinuar »