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That apartment was occupied by little Boy already seated in his. high chair, and by the Campaigner only, who stood at the mantelpiece in a majestic attitude. On parting with her, before we adjourned to Clive's studio, I had made my bow and taken my leave in form, not supposing that I was about to enjoy her hospitality yet once again. My return did not seem to please her. “ Does Mr. Pendennis favour us with his company to dinner again, Clive?" she said, turning toher son-in-law. Clive curtly said, “ Yes; he had asked Mr. Pendennis to stay."
“You might at least have been so kind as to give me notice," says the Campaigner, still majestic, but ironical. “You will have but a poor meal, Mr. Pendentis; and one such as I am not accustomed to give my guests."
“Cold beef! what the deuce does it matter?" says Clive, beginning to carve the joint, which, hot, had served our yesterday's Christmas table.
“It does matter, sir! I am not accustomed to treat my guests in this way. Maria! who has been cutting that beef? Three pounds of that beef have been cut away since one o'clock to-day ;” and with flashing eyes, and a finger twinkling all over with rings, she pointed towards the guilty joint.
Whether Maria had been dispensing secret charities, or kept company with an occult policeman partial to roast-beef, I do not know ; but she looked very much alarmed, and said, “Indeed, and indeed, Mum, she had not touched a morsel of it !not she."
“ Confound the beef !” says Clive, carving on.
“She has been cutting it !" cries the Campaigner, bringing her fist down with a thump upon the table. “Mr. Pendennis ! you saw the beef yesterday; eighteen pounds it weighed, and this is what comes up of it! As if there was not already ruin enough in the house !"
“D n the beef !” cries out Clive.
“No! no! Thank God for our good dinner! Benedicti benedicamus, Clivy my boy," says the Colonel, in a tremulous voice.
“ Swear on, sir! let the child hear your oaths! Let my blessed child, who is too ill to sit at table and picks her bit of sweetbread on her sofa,-which her poor mother prepares for her, Mr. Pendenniswhich I cooked it, and gave it to her with these hands,-let her hear your curses and blasphemies, Clive Newcome! They are loud enough."
“Do let us have a quiet life," groans out Clive; and for me, I confess, I kept my eyes steadily down upon my plate, nor dared to lift them, until my portion of cold beef had vanished.
No farther outbreak took place, until the appearance of the second course; which consisted, as the ingenious reader may suppose, of the plum-pudding, now in a grilled state, and the remanent mince-pies from yesterday's meal. Maria, I thought, looked particularly guilty, as these delicacies were placed on the table : she set them down hastily, and was for operating an instant retreat.
But the Campaigner shrieked after her, 6 Who has eaten that pudding? I insist upon knowing who has eaten it. I saw it at two o'clock when I went down to the kitchen and fried a bit for my darling child, and there's pounds of it gone since then! There were five mince-pies! Mr. Pendennis ! you saw yourself there were five went away from table yesterday-where's the other two, Maria ? You leave the house this night, you thieving, wicked wretch-and I'll thank you to come back to me afterwards for a character. Thirteen servants have we had in nine months, Mr. Pendennis, and this girl is the worst of them all, and the greatest liar and the greatest thief."
At this charge the outraged Maria stood up in arms, and as the phrase is, gave the Campaigner as good as she got. Go ! wouldn't she go? Pay her her wages, and let her go out of that 'ell upon hearth, was Maria's prayer. “ It isn't you, sir,” she said, turning to Clive. “You are good enough, and works hard enough to git the guineas which you give out to pay that Doctor; and she don't pay him-and I see five of them in her purse wrapped up in paper, myself I did, and she abuses you to him—and I heard her, and Jane Black, who was here before, told me she heard her. Go! won't I just go, I despises your puddens and pies!” and with a laugh of scorn this rude Maria snapped her black fingers in the immediate vicinity of the Campaigner's nose.
“I will pay her her wages, and she shall go this instant!” says Mrs. Mackenzie, taking her purse out.
" Pay me with them suvverings that you have got in it, wrapped up in paper. See if she haven't, Mr. Newcome," the refractory waitingwoman cried out, and again she laughed a strident laugh.
Mrs. Mackenzie briskly shut her portemonnaie, and rose up from table, quivering with indignant virtue. “Go!" she exclaimed, "go and pack your trunks this instant! you quit the house this night, and a policeman shall see to your boxes before you leave it !”
Whilst uttering this sentence against the guilty Maria, the Campaigner had intended, no doubt, to replace her purse in her pocket,a handsome filigree gimcrack of poor Rosey's, one of the relics of former splendours,—but, agitated by Maria's insolence, the trembling hand missed the mark, and the purse fell to the ground.
Maria dashed at the purse in a moment, with a scream of laughter shook its contents upon the table, and sure enough, five little packets wrapped in paper rolled out upon the cloth, besides bank-notes and silver and gold coin. “ I'm to go, am I? I'm a thief, am I ?* screamed the girl, clapping her hands. “I sor 'em yesterday when I was a-lacing of her; and thought of that pore young man working night and day to get the money ;-me a thief, indeed -I despise you, and I give you warning:”
“Do you wish to see me any longer insulted by this woman, Clive ? Mr. Pendennis, I am shocked that you should witness such horrible vulgarity,” cries the Campaigner, turning to her guest. “Does the wretched creature suppose that I–I who have given thousands, I who have denied myself everything, I who have spent my all in support of this house; and Colonel Newcome knows whether I have given thousands or not, and who has spent them, and who has been robbed, I say, and
“Here! you! Maria! go about your business," shouted out Clive Newcome, starting up; “go and pack your trunks if you like, and pack this woman's trunks too. Mrs. Mackenzie, I can bear you no more; go in peace, and if you wish to see your daughter she shall come to you; but I will never, so help me God! sleep under the same roof with you; or break the same crust with you; or bear your infernał cruelty; or sit to hear my father insulted; or listen to your wicked pride and folly more. There has not been a day since you thrust your cursed foot into our wretched house, but you have tortured one and all of us. Look here, at the best gentleman, and the kindest heart in all the world, you fiend! and see to what a condition you have brought him! Dearest father! she is going, do you hear? She leaves us, and you will come back to me, won't you? Great God, woman," he gasped out, “ do you know what you have made me suffer—what you have done to this good man? Pardon, father, pardon !”—and he sank down by his father's side, sobbing with passionate emotion. The old man even now did not seem to comprehend the scene. When he heard that woman's voice in anger, a sort of stupor came over him.
“I am a fiend, am I?” cries the lady. “You hear, Mr. Pendennis, this is the language to which I am accustomed; I am a widow, and I trusted my child and my all to that old man; he robbed me and my darling of almost every farthing we had; and what has been my return for such baseness? I have lived in this house and toiled like a slave; I have acted as servant to my blessed child; night after night I have sat with her; and month after month, when her husband has been away, I have nursed that poor innocent; and the father having robbed me, the son turns me out of doors !"
A sad thing it was to witness, and a painful proof how frequent were these battles, that, as this one raged, the poor little boy sat almost careless, whilst his bewildered grandfather stroked his golden head! “It is quite clear to me, madam," I said, turning to Mrs. Mackenzie, -56 that you and your son-in-law are better apart; and I came to tell him to-day of a most fortunate legacy, which has just been left to him, and which will enable him to pay you to-morrow morning every shilling, every shilling which he does NOT owe you."
“I will not leave this house until I am paid every shilling of which I have been robbed,” hissed out Mrs. Mackenzie; and she sat down, folding her arms across her chest.
“I am sorry," groaned out Clive, wiping the sweat off his brow, 366 I used a harsh word; I will never sleep under the same roof with you. To-morrow I will pay you what you claim; and the best chance I have of forgiving you the evil which you have done me, is that we should never meet again. Will you give me a bed at your house, Arthur? Father, will you come out and walk? Good night, Mrs. Mackenzie ; Pendennis will settle with you in the morning. You will not be here, if you please, when I return; and so God forgive you, and farewell.”
Mrs. Mackenzie in a tragic manner dashed aside the hand which poor Clive held out to her, and disappeared from the scene of this dismal dinner. Boy presently fell a-crying: in spite of all the battle and fury, there was sleep in his eyes.
“Maria is too busy, I suppose, to put him to bed,” said Clive, with a sad smile; “shall we do it, father? Come, Tommy, my son!” and he folded his arms round the child, and walked with him to the upper regions. The old man's eyes lighted up; his scared thoughts returned to him; he followed his two children up the stairs, and saw his grandson in his little bed; and, as we walked home with him, he told me how sweetly Boy said “Our Father,” and prayed God bless all those who loved him, as they laid him to rest.
So these three generations had joined in that supplication: the strong man, humbled by trial and grief, whose loyal heart was yet full of love ;—the child, of the sweet age of those little ones whom the Blessed Speaker of the prayer first bade to come unto Him; and the old man, whose heart was well nigh as tender and as innocent; and whose day was approaching, when he should be drawn to the bosom of the Eternal Pity.
IN WHICH THE COLONEL SAYS “ADSUM” WHEN HIS NAME IS
CALLED. THE vow which Clive had uttered, never to share bread with his
mother-in-law, or sleep under the same roof with her, was broken on the very next day. A stronger will than the young man's intervened, and he had to confess the impotence of his wrath before that superior power. In the forenoon of the day following that unlucky dinner, I went with my friend to the banking-house whither Mr. Luce's letter directed us, and carried away with me the principal sum, in which the Campaigner said Colonel Newcome was indebted to her, with the interest accurately computed and reimbursed. Clive went off with a pocketful of money to the dear old Poor Brother of Grey Friars; and he promised to return with his father, and dine with my wife in Queen Square. I had received a letter from Laura by the morning's post, announcing her return by the express train from Newcome, and desiring that a spare bed-room should be got ready for a friend who accompanied her.
On reaching Howland Street, Clive's door was opened, rather to my surprise, by the rebellious maid-seryant who had received her dismissal on the previous night; and the Doctor's carriage drove up as she was still speaking to me. The polite practitioner sped upstairs to Mrs. Newcome's apartment. Mrs. Mackenzie, in a robe-de-chambre and cap very different from yesterday's, came out eagerly to meet the physician on the landing. Ere they had been a quarter of an hour
band-box and bundles; I had no difficulty in recognizing a professional nurse in the new-comer. She too disappeared into the sick-room, and Jeft me sitting in the neighbouring chamber, the scene of the last night's quarrel.
Hither presently came to me Maria, the maid. She said she had not the heart to go away now she was wanted; that they had passed a sad night, and that no one had been to bed. Master Tommy was below, and the landlady taking care of him: the landlord had gone out for the nurse. Mrs. Clive had been taken bad after Mr. Clive went away the night before. Mrs. Mackenzie had gone to the poor young