Arcadian Simplicity

Besides these honest folks at the Hall (whose simplicity and sweet rural purity surely show the advantage of a country life over a town one),

we must introduce the reader to their relatives and neighbours at the Rectory,

Bute Crawley and his wife.

The Reverend Bute Crawley was a tall,



shovel-hatted man,

far more popular in his county than the Baronet his brother.

At college he pulled stroke-oar in the Christchurch boat,

and had thrashed all the best bruisers of the "town."

He carried his taste for boxing and athletic exercises into private life;

there was not a fight within twenty miles at which he was not present,

nor a race,

nor a coursing match,

nor a regatta,

nor a ball,

nor an election,

nor a visitation dinner,

nor indeed a good dinner in the whole county,

but he found means to attend it.

You might see his bay mare and gig-lamps a score of miles away from his Rectory House,

whenever there was any dinner-party at Fuddleston,

or at Roxby,

or at Wapshot Hall,

or at the great lords of the county,

with all of whom he was intimate.

He had a fine voice;

sang "A southerly wind and a cloudy sky";

and gave the "whoop" in chorus with general applause.

He rode to hounds in a pepper-and-salt frock,

and was one of the best fishermen in the county.

Mrs. Crawley,

the rector's wife,

was a smart little body,

who wrote this worthy divine's sermons.

Being of a domestic turn,

and keeping the house a great deal with her daughters,

she ruled absolutely within the Rectory,

wisely giving her husband full liberty without.

He was welcome to come and go,

and dine abroad as many days as his fancy dictated,

for Mrs. Crawley was a saving woman and knew the price of port wine.

Ever since Mrs. Bute carried off the young Rector of Queen's Crawley (she was of a good family,

daughter of the late Lieut.-Colonel Hector McTavish,

and she and her mother played for Bute and won him at Harrowgate),

she had been a prudent and thrifty wife to him.

In spite of her care,


he was always in debt.

It took him at least ten years to pay off his college bills contracted during his father's lifetime.

In the year 179-,

when he was just clear of these incumbrances,

he gave the odds of 100 to 1 (in twenties) against Kangaroo,

who won the Derby.

The Rector was obliged to take up the money at a ruinous interest,

and had been struggling ever since.

His sister helped him with a hundred now and then,

but of course his great hope was in her death --when "hang it" (as he would say),

"Matilda must leave me half her money."

So that the Baronet and his brother had every reason which two brothers possibly can have for being by the ears.

Sir Pitt had had the better of Bute in innumerable family transactions.

Young Pitt not only did not hunt,

but set up a meeting house under his uncle's very nose.


it was known,

was to come in for the bulk of Miss Crawley's property.

These money transactions --these speculations in life and death --these silent battles for reversionary spoil --make brothers very loving towards each other in Vanity Fair.


for my part,

have known a five-pound note to interpose and knock up a half century's attachment between two brethren;

and can't but admire,

as I think what a fine and durable thing Love is among worldly people.

It cannot be supposed that the arrival of such a personage as Rebecca at Queen's Crawley,

and her gradual establishment in the good graces of all people there,

could be unremarked by Mrs. Bute Crawley.

Mrs. Bute,

who knew how many days the sirloin of beef lasted at the Hall;

how much linen was got ready at the great wash;

how many peaches were on the south wall;

how many doses her ladyship took when she was ill --for such points are matters of intense interest to certain persons in the country --Mrs. Bute,

I say,

could not pass over the Hall governess without making every inquiry respecting her history and character.

There was always the best understanding between the servants at the Rectory and the Hall.

There was always a good glass of ale in the kitchen of the former place for the Hall people,

whose ordinary drink was very small --and,


the Rector's lady knew exactly how much malt went to every barrel of Hall beer --ties of relationship existed between the Hall and Rectory domestics,

as between their masters;

and through these channels each family was perfectly well acquainted with the doings of the other.


by the way,

may be set down as a general remark.

When you and your brother are friends,

his doings are indifferent to you.

When you have quarrelled,

all his outgoings and incomings you know,

as if you were his spy.

Very soon then after her arrival,

Rebecca began to take a regular place in Mrs. Crawley's bulletin from the Hall.

It was to this effect:

"The black porker's killed --weighed x stone --salted the sides --pig's pudding and leg of pork for dinner.

Mr. Cramp from Mudbury,

over with Sir Pitt about putting John Blackmore in gaol --Mr. Pitt at meeting (with all the names of the people who attended) --my lady as usual --the young ladies with the governess."

Then the report would come --the new governess be a rare manager --Sir Pitt be very sweet on her --Mr. Crawley too --He be reading tracts to her --"What an abandoned wretch!"

said little,



black-faced Mrs. Bute Crawley.


the reports were that the governess had "come round" everybody,

wrote Sir Pitt's letters,

did his business,

managed his accounts --had the upper hand of the whole house,

my lady,

Mr. Crawley,

the girls and all --at which Mrs. Crawley declared she was an artful hussy,

and had some dreadful designs in view.

Thus the doings at the Hall were the great food for conversation at the Rectory,

and Mrs. Bute's bright eyes spied out everything that took place in the enemy's camp --everything and a great deal besides.

Mrs. Bute Crawley to Miss Pinkerton,

The Mall,



Queen's Crawley,

December --.

My Dear Madam,

--Although it is so many years since I profited by your delightful and invaluable instructions,

yet I have ever retained the FONDEST and most reverential regard for Miss Pinkerton,

and DEAR Chiswick.

I hope your health is GOOD.

The world and the cause of education cannot afford to lose Miss Pinkerton for MANY MANY YEARS.

When my friend,

Lady Fuddleston,

mentioned that her dear girls required an instructress (I am too poor to engage a governess for mine,

but was I not educated at Chiswick?) --"Who,"

I exclaimed,

"can we consult but the excellent,

the incomparable Miss Pinkerton?"

In a word,

have you,

dear madam,

any ladies on your list,

whose services might be made available to my kind friend and neighbour?

I assure you she will take no governess BUT OF YOUR CHOOSING.

My dear husband is pleased to say that he likes EVERYTHING WHICH COMES FROM MISS PINKERTON'S SCHOOL.

How I wish I could present him and my beloved girls to the friend of my youth,

and the ADMIRED of the great lexicographer of our country!

If you ever travel into Hampshire,

Mr. Crawley begs me to say,

he hopes you will adorn our RURAL RECTORY with your presence.

'Tis the humble but happy home of

Your affectionate Martha Crawley


Mr. Crawley's brother,

the baronet,

with whom we are not,


upon those terms of UNITY in which it BECOMES BRETHREN TO DWELL,

has a governess for his little girls,


I am told,

had the good fortune to be educated at Chiswick.

I hear various reports of her;

and as I have the tenderest interest in my dearest little nieces,

whom I wish,

in spite of family differences,

to see among my own children --and as I long to be attentive to ANY PUPIL OF YOURS --do,

my dear Miss Pinkerton,

tell me the history of this young lady,



I am most anxious to befriend.


C. Miss Pinkerton to Mrs. Bute Crawley.

Johnson House,



18 --.

Dear Madam,

--I have the honour to acknowledge your polite communication,

to which I promptly reply.

'Tis most gratifying to one in my most arduous position to find that my maternal cares have elicited a responsive affection;

and to recognize in the amiable Mrs. Bute Crawley my excellent pupil of former years,

the sprightly and accomplished Miss Martha MacTavish.

I am happy to have under my charge now the daughters of many of those who were your contemporaries at my establishment --what pleasure it would give me if your own beloved young ladies had need of my instructive superintendence!

Presenting my respectful compliments to Lady Fuddleston,

I have the honour (epistolarily) to introduce to her ladyship my two friends,

Miss Tuffin and Miss Hawky.

Either of these young ladies is PERFECTLY QUALIFIED to instruct in Greek,


and the rudiments of Hebrew;

in mathematics and history;

in Spanish,



and geography;

in music,

vocal and instrumental;

in dancing,

without the aid of a master;

and in the elements of natural sciences.

In the use of the globes both are proficients.

In addition to these Miss Tuffin,

who is daughter of the late Reverend Thomas Tuffin (Fellow of Corpus College,


can instruct in the Syriac language,

and the elements of Constitutional law.

But as she is only eighteen years of age,

and of exceedingly pleasing personal appearance,

perhaps this young lady may be objectionable in Sir Huddleston Fuddleston's family.

Miss Letitia Hawky,

on the other hand,

is not personally well-favoured.

She is-twenty-nine;

her face is much pitted with the small-pox.

She has a halt in her gait,

red hair,

and a trifling obliquity of vision.

Both ladies are endowed with EVERY MORAL AND RELIGIOUS VIRTUE.

Their terms,

of course,

are such as their accomplishments merit.

With my most grateful respects to the Reverend Bute Crawley,

I have the honour to be,

Dear Madam,

Your most faithful and obedient servant,

Barbara Pinkerton.


The Miss Sharp,

whom you mention as governess to Sir Pitt Crawley,



was a pupil of mine,

and I have nothing to say in her disfavour.

Though her appearance is disagreeable,

we cannot control the operations of nature: and though her parents were disreputable (her father being a painter,

several times bankrupt,

and her mother,

as I have since learned,

with horror,

a dancer at the Opera);

yet her talents are considerable,

and I cannot regret that I received her OUT OF CHARITY.

My dread is,

lest the principles of the mother --who was represented to me as a French Countess,

forced to emigrate in the late revolutionary horrors;

but who,

as I have since found,

was a person of the very lowest order and morals --should at any time prove to be HEREDITARY in the unhappy young woman whom I took as AN OUTCAST. But her principles have hitherto been correct (I believe),

and I am sure nothing will occur to injure them in the elegant and refined circle of the eminent Sir Pitt Crawley.

Miss Rebecca Sharp to Miss Amelia Sedley.

I have not written to my beloved Amelia for these many weeks past,

for what news was there to tell of the sayings and doings at Humdrum Hall,

as I have christened it;

and what do you care whether the turnip crop is good or bad;

whether the fat pig weighed thirteen stone or fourteen;

and whether the beasts thrive well upon mangelwurzel?

Every day since I last wrote has been like its neighbour.

Before breakfast,

a walk with Sir Pitt and his spud;

after breakfast studies (such as they are) in the schoolroom;

after schoolroom,

reading and writing about lawyers,




with Sir Pitt (whose secretary I am become);

after dinner,

Mr. Crawley's discourses on the baronet's backgammon;

during both of which amusements my lady looks on with equal placidity.

She has become rather more interesting by being ailing of late,

which has brought a new visitor to the Hall,

in the person of a young doctor.


my dear,

young women need never despair.

The young doctor gave a certain friend of yours to understand that,

if she chose to be Mrs. Glauber,

she was welcome to ornament the surgery!

I told his impudence that the gilt pestle and mortar was quite ornament enough;

as if I was born,


to be a country surgeon's wife!

Mr. Glauber went home seriously indisposed at his rebuff,

took a cooling draught,

and is now quite cured.

Sir Pitt applauded my resolution highly;

he would be sorry to lose his little secretary,

I think;

and I believe the old wretch likes me as much as it is in his nature to like any one.



and with a country apothecary,

after -- No,


one cannot so soon forget old associations,

about which I will talk no more.

Let us return to Humdrum Hall.

For some time past it is Humdrum Hall no longer.

My dear,

Miss Crawley has arrived with her fat horses,

fat servants,

fat spaniel --the great rich Miss Crawley,

with seventy thousand pounds in the five per cents.,


or I had better say WHICH,

her two brothers adore.

She looks very apoplectic,

the dear soul;

no wonder her brothers are anxious about her.

You should see them struggling to settle her cushions,

or to hand her coffee!

"When I come into the country,"

she says (for she has a great deal of humour),

"I leave my toady,

Miss Briggs,

at home.

My brothers are my toadies here,

my dear,

and a pretty pair they are!"

When she comes into the country our hall is thrown open,

and for a month,

at least,

you would fancy old Sir Walpole was come to life again.

We have dinner-parties,

and drive out in the coach-and-four --the footmen put on their newest canary-coloured liveries;

we drink claret and champagne as if we were accustomed to it every day.

We have wax candles in the schoolroom,

and fires to warm ourselves with.

Lady Crawley is made to put on the brightest pea-green in her wardrobe,

and my pupils leave off their thick shoes and tight old tartan pelisses,

and wear silk stockings and muslin frocks,

as fashionable baronets' daughters should.

Rose came in yesterday in a sad plight --the Wiltshire sow (an enormous pet of hers) ran her down,

and destroyed a most lovely flowered lilac silk dress by dancing over it --had this happened a week ago,

Sir Pitt would have sworn frightfully,

have boxed the poor wretch's ears,

and put her upon bread and water for a month.

All he said was,

"I'll serve you out,


when your aunt's gone,"

and laughed off the accident as quite trivial.

Let us hope his wrath will have passed away before Miss Crawley's departure.

I hope so,

for Miss Rose's sake,

I am sure.

What a charming reconciler and peacemaker money is!

Another admirable effect of Miss Crawley and her seventy thousand pounds is to be seen in the conduct of the two brothers Crawley.

I mean the baronet and the rector,

not OUR brothers --but the former,

who hate each other all the year round,

become quite loving at Christmas.

I wrote to you last year how the abominable horse-racing rector was in the habit of preaching clumsy sermons at us at church,

and how Sir Pitt snored in answer.

When Miss Crawley arrives there is no such thing as quarrelling heard of --the Hall visits the Rectory,

and vice versa --the parson and the Baronet talk about the pigs and the poachers,

and the county business,

in the most affable manner,

and without quarrelling in their cups,

I believe --indeed Miss Crawley won't hear of their quarrelling,

and vows that she will leave her money to the Shropshire Crawleys if they offend her.

If they were clever people,

those Shropshire Crawleys,

they might have it all,

I think;

but the Shropshire Crawley is a clergyman like his Hampshire cousin,

and mortally offended Miss Crawley (who had fled thither in a fit of rage against her impracticable brethren) by some strait-laced notions of morality.

He would have prayers in the house,

I believe.

Our sermon books are shut up when Miss Crawley arrives,

and Mr. Pitt,

whom she abominates,

finds it convenient to go to town.

On the other hand,

the young dandy --"blood,"

I believe,

is the term --Captain Crawley makes his appearance,

and I suppose you will like to know what sort of a person he is.


he is a very large young dandy.

He is six feet high,

and speaks with a great voice;

and swears a great deal;

and orders about the servants,

who all adore him nevertheless;

for he is very generous of his money,

and the domestics will do anything for him.

Last week the keepers almost killed a bailiff and his man who came down from London to arrest the Captain,

and who were found lurking about the Park wall --they beat them,

ducked them,

and were going to shoot them for poachers,

but the baronet interfered.

The Captain has a hearty contempt for his father,

I can see,

and calls him an old PUT,

an old SNOB,

an old CHAW-BACON,

and numberless other pretty names.

He has a DREADFUL REPUTATION among the ladies.

He brings his hunters home with him,

lives with the Squires of the county,

asks whom he pleases to dinner,

and Sir Pitt dares not say no,

for fear of offending Miss Crawley,

and missing his legacy when she dies of her apoplexy.

Shall I tell you a compliment the Captain paid me?

I must,

it is so pretty.

One evening we actually had a dance;

there was Sir Huddleston Fuddleston and his family,

Sir Giles Wapshot and his young ladies,

and I don't know how many more.


I heard him say --"By Jove,

she's a neat little filly!"

meaning your humble servant;

and he did me the honour to dance two country-dances with me.

He gets on pretty gaily with the young Squires,

with whom he drinks,



and talks about hunting and shooting;

but he says the country girls are BORES;


I don't think he is far wrong.

You should see the contempt with which they look down on poor me!

When they dance I sit and play the piano very demurely;

but the other night,

coming in rather flushed from the dining-room,

and seeing me employed in this way,

he swore out loud that I was the best dancer in the room,

and took a great oath that he would have the fiddlers from Mudbury.

"I'll go and play a country-dance,"

said Mrs. Bute Crawley,

very readily (she is a little,

black-faced old woman in a turban,

rather crooked,

and with very twinkling eyes);

and after the Captain and your poor little Rebecca had performed a dance together,

do you know she actually did me the honour to compliment me upon my steps!

Such a thing was never heard of before;

the proud Mrs. Bute Crawley,

first cousin to the Earl of Tiptoff,

who won't condescend to visit Lady Crawley,

except when her sister is in the country.

Poor Lady Crawley!

during most part of these gaieties,

she is upstairs taking pills.

Mrs. Bute has all of a sudden taken a great fancy to me.

"My dear Miss Sharp,"

she says,

"why not bring over your girls to the Rectory?

--their cousins will be so happy to see them."

I know what she means.

Signor Clementi did not teach us the piano for nothing;

at which price Mrs. Bute hopes to get a professor for her children.

I can see through her schemes,

as though she told them to me;

but I shall go,

as I am determined to make myself agreeable --is it not a poor governess's duty,

who has not a friend or protector in the world?

The Rector's wife paid me a score of compliments about the progress my pupils made,

and thought,

no doubt,

to touch my heart --poor,


country soul!

--as if I cared a fig about my pupils!

Your India muslin and your pink silk,

dearest Amelia,

are said to become me very well.

They are a good deal worn now;


you know,

we poor girls can't afford des fraiches toilettes.


happy you!

who have but to drive to St. James's Street,

and a dear mother who will give you any thing you ask.


dearest girl,

Your affectionate Rebecca.


--I wish you could have seen the faces of the Miss Blackbrooks (Admiral Blackbrook's daughters,

my dear),

fine young ladies,

with dresses from London,

when Captain Rawdon selected poor me for a partner!

When Mrs. Bute Crawley (whose artifices our ingenious Rebecca had so soon discovered) had procured from Miss Sharp the promise of a visit,

she induced the all-powerful Miss Crawley to make the necessary application to Sir Pitt,

and the good-natured old lady,

who loved to be gay herself,

and to see every one gay and happy round about her,

was quite charmed,

and ready to establish a reconciliation and intimacy between her two brothers.

It was therefore agreed that the young people of both families should visit each other frequently for the future,

and the friendship of course lasted as long as the jovial old mediatrix was there to keep the peace.

"Why did you ask that scoundrel,

Rawdon Crawley,

to dine?"

said the Rector to his lady,

as they were walking home through the park.

"I don't want the fellow.

He looks down upon us country people as so many blackamoors.

He's never content unless he gets my yellow-sealed wine,

which costs me ten shillings a bottle,

hang him!


he's such an infernal character --he's a gambler --he's a drunkard --he's a profligate in every way.

He shot a man in a duel --he's over head and ears in debt,

and he's robbed me and mine of the best part of Miss Crawley's fortune.

Waxy says she has him" --here the Rector shook his fist at the moon,

with something very like an oath,

and added,

in a melancholious tone,

" --down in her will for fifty thousand;

and there won't be above thirty to divide."

"I think she's going,"

said the Rector's wife.

"She was very red in the face when we left dinner.

I was obliged to unlace her."

"She drank seven glasses of champagne,"

said the reverend gentleman,

in a low voice;

"and filthy champagne it is,


that my brother poisons us with --but you women never know what's what."

"We know nothing,"

said Mrs. Bute Crawley.

"She drank cherry-brandy after dinner,"

continued his Reverence,

"and took curacao with her coffee.

I wouldn't take a glass for a five-pound note: it kills me with heartburn.

She can't stand it,

Mrs. Crawley --she must go --flesh and blood won't bear it!

and I lay five to two,

Matilda drops in a year."

Indulging in these solemn speculations,

and thinking about his debts,

and his son Jim at College,

and Frank at Woolwich,

and the four girls,

who were no beauties,

poor things,

and would not have a penny but what they got from the aunt's expected legacy,

the Rector and his lady walked on for a while.

"Pitt can't be such an infernal villain as to sell the reversion of the living.

And that Methodist milksop of an eldest son looks to Parliament,"

continued Mr. Crawley,

after a pause.

"Sir Pitt Crawley will do anything,"

said the Rector's wife.

"We must get Miss Crawley to make him promise it to James."

"Pitt will promise anything,"

replied the brother.

"He promised he'd pay my college bills,

when my father died;

he promised he'd build the new wing to the Rectory;

he promised he'd let me have Jibb's field and the Six-acre Meadow --and much he executed his promises!

And it's to this man's son --this scoundrel,



murderer of a Rawdon Crawley,

that Matilda leaves the bulk of her money.

I say it's un-Christian.

By Jove,

it is.

The infamous dog has got every vice except hypocrisy,

and that belongs to his brother."


my dearest love!

we're in Sir Pitt's grounds,"

interposed his wife.

"I say he has got every vice,

Mrs. Crawley.

Don't Ma'am,

bully me.

Didn't he shoot Captain Marker?

Didn't he rob young Lord Dovedale at the Cocoa-Tree?

Didn't he cross the fight between Bill Soames and the Cheshire Trump,

by which I lost forty pound?

You know he did;

and as for the women,


you heard that before me,

in my own magistrate's room."

"For heaven's sake,

Mr. Crawley,"

said the lady,

"spare me the details."

"And you ask this villain into your house!"

continued the exasperated Rector.


the mother of a young family --the wife of a clergyman of the Church of England.

By Jove!"

"Bute Crawley,

you are a fool,"

said the Rector's wife scornfully.



fool or not --and I don't say,


I'm so clever as you are,

I never did.

But I won't meet Rawdon Crawley,

that's flat.

I'll go over to Huddleston,

that I will,

and see his black greyhound,

Mrs. Crawley;

and I'll run Lancelot against him for fifty.

By Jove,

I will;

or against any dog in England.

But I won't meet that beast Rawdon Crawley."

"Mr. Crawley,

you are intoxicated,

as usual,"

replied his wife.

And the next morning,

when the Rector woke,

and called for small beer,

she put him in mind of his promise to visit Sir Huddleston Fuddleston on Saturday,

and as he knew he should have a wet night,

it was agreed that he might gallop back again in time for church on Sunday morning.

Thus it will be seen that the parishioners of Crawley were equally happy in their Squire and in their Rector.

Miss Crawley had not long been established at the Hall before Rebecca's fascinations had won the heart of that good-natured London rake,

as they had of the country innocents whom we have been describing.

Taking her accustomed drive,

one day,

she thought fit to order that "that little governess" should accompany her to Mudbury.

Before they had returned Rebecca had made a conquest of her;

having made her laugh four times,

and amused her during the whole of the little journey.

"Not let Miss Sharp dine at table!"

said she to Sir Pitt,

who had arranged a dinner of ceremony,

and asked all the neighbouring baronets.

"My dear creature,

do you suppose I can talk about the nursery with Lady Fuddleston,

or discuss justices' business with that goose,

old Sir Giles Wapshot?

I insist upon Miss Sharp appearing.

Let Lady Crawley remain upstairs,

if there is no room.

But little Miss Sharp!


she's the only person fit to talk to in the county!"

Of course,

after such a peremptory order as this,

Miss Sharp,

the governess,

received commands to dine with the illustrious company below stairs.

And when Sir Huddleston had,

with great pomp and ceremony,

handed Miss Crawley in to dinner,

and was preparing to take his place by her side,

the old lady cried out,

in a shrill voice,

"Becky Sharp!

Miss Sharp!

Come you and sit by me and amuse me;

and let Sir Huddleston sit by Lady Wapshot."

When the parties were over,

and the carriages had rolled away,

the insatiable Miss Crawley would say,

"Come to my dressing room,


and let us abuse the company" --which,

between them,

this pair of friends did perfectly.

Old Sir Huddleston wheezed a great deal at dinner;

Sir Giles Wapshot had a particularly noisy manner of imbibing his soup,

and her ladyship a wink of the left eye;

all of which Becky caricatured to admiration;

as well as the particulars of the night's conversation;

the politics;

the war;

the quarter-sessions;

the famous run with the H.H.,

and those heavy and dreary themes,

about which country gentlemen converse.

As for the Misses Wapshot's toilettes and Lady Fuddleston's famous yellow hat,

Miss Sharp tore them to tatters,

to the infinite amusement of her audience.

"My dear,

you are a perfect trouvaille,"

Miss Crawley would say.

"I wish you could come to me in London,

but I couldn't make a butt of you as I do of poor Briggs no,


you little sly creature;

you are too clever --Isn't she,


Mrs. Firkin (who was dressing the very small remnant of hair which remained on Miss Crawley's pate),

flung up her head and said,

"I think Miss is very clever,"

with the most killing sarcastic air.

In fact,

Mrs. Firkin had that natural jealousy which is one of the main principles of every honest woman.

After rebuffing Sir Huddleston Fuddleston,

Miss Crawley ordered that Rawdon Crawley should lead her in to dinner every day,

and that Becky should follow with her cushion --or else she would have Becky's arm and Rawdon with the pillow.

"We must sit together,"

she said.

"We're the only three Christians in the county,

my love" --in which case,

it must be confessed,

that religion was at a very low ebb in the county of Hants.

Besides being such a fine religionist,

Miss Crawley was,

as we have said,

an Ultra-liberal in opinions,

and always took occasion to express these in the most candid manner.

"What is birth,

my dear!"

she would say to Rebecca --"Look at my brother Pitt;

look at the Huddlestons,

who have been here since Henry II;

look at poor Bute at the parsonage --is any one of them equal to you in intelligence or breeding?

Equal to you --they are not even equal to poor dear Briggs,

my companion,

or Bowls,

my butler.


my love,

are a little paragon --positively a little jewel --You have more brains than half the shire --if merit had its reward you ought to be a Duchess --no,

there ought to be no duchesses at all --but you ought to have no superior,

and I consider you,

my love,

as my equal in every respect;

and --will you put some coals on the fire,

my dear;

and will you pick this dress of mine,

and alter it,

you who can do it so well?"

So this old philanthropist used to make her equal run of her errands,

execute her millinery,

and read her to sleep with French novels,

every night.

At this time,

as some old readers may recollect,

the genteel world had been thrown into a considerable state of excitement by two events,


as the papers say,

might give employment to the gentlemen of the long robe.

Ensign Shafton had run away with Lady Barbara Fitzurse,

the Earl of Bruin's daughter and heiress;

and poor Vere Vane,

a gentleman who,

up to forty,

had maintained a most respectable character and reared a numerous family,

suddenly and outrageously left his home,

for the sake of Mrs. Rougemont,

the actress,

who was sixty-five years of age.

"That was the most beautiful part of dear Lord Nelson's character,"

Miss Crawley said.

"He went to the deuce for a woman.

There must be good in a man who will do that.

I adore all impudent matches.

-- What I like best,

is for a nobleman to marry a miller's daughter,

as Lord Flowerdale did --it makes all the women so angry --I wish some great man would run away with you,

my dear;

I'm sure you're pretty enough."

"Two post-boys!


it would be delightful!"

Rebecca owned.

"And what I like next best,

is for a poor fellow to run away with a rich girl.

I have set my heart on Rawdon running away with some one."

"A rich some one,

or a poor some one?"


you goose!

Rawdon has not a shilling but what I give him.

He is crible de dettes --he must repair his fortunes,

and succeed in the world."

"Is he very clever?"

Rebecca asked.


my love?

--not an idea in the world beyond his horses,

and his regiment,

and his hunting,

and his play;

but he must succeed --he's so delightfully wicked.

Don't you know he has hit a man,

and shot an injured father through the hat only?

He's adored in his regiment;

and all the young men at Wattier's and the Cocoa-Tree swear by him."

When Miss Rebecca Sharp wrote to her beloved friend the account of the little ball at Queen's Crawley,

and the manner in which,

for the first time,

Captain Crawley had distinguished her,

she did not,

strange to relate,

give an altogether accurate account of the transaction.

The Captain had distinguished her a great number of times before.

The Captain had met her in a half-score of walks.

The Captain had lighted upon her in a half-hundred of corridors and passages.

The Captain had hung over her piano twenty times of an evening (my Lady was now upstairs,

being ill,

and nobody heeded her) as Miss Sharp sang.

The Captain had written her notes (the best that the great blundering dragoon could devise and spell;

but dulness gets on as well as any other quality with women).

But when he put the first of the notes into the leaves of the song she was singing,

the little governess,

rising and looking him steadily in the face,

took up the triangular missive daintily,

and waved it about as if it were a cocked hat,

and she,

advancing to the enemy,

popped the note into the fire,

and made him a very low curtsey,

and went back to her place,

and began to sing away again more merrily than ever.

"What's that?"

said Miss Crawley,

interrupted in her after-dinner doze by the stoppage of the music.

"It's a false note,"

Miss Sharp said with a laugh;

and Rawdon Crawley fumed with rage and mortification.

Seeing the evident partiality of Miss Crawley for the new governess,

how good it was of Mrs. Bute Crawley not to be jealous,

and to welcome the young lady to the Rectory,

and not only her,

but Rawdon Crawley,

her husband's rival in the Old Maid's five per cents!

They became very fond of each other's society,

Mrs. Crawley and her nephew.

He gave up hunting;

he declined entertainments at Fuddleston: he would not dine with the mess of the depot at Mudbury: his great pleasure was to stroll over to Crawley parsonage --whither Miss Crawley came too;

and as their mamma was ill,

why not the children with Miss Sharp?

So the children (little dears!) came with Miss Sharp;

and of an evening some of the party would walk back together.

Not Miss Crawley --she preferred her carriage --but the walk over the Rectory fields,

and in at the little park wicket,

and through the dark plantation,

and up the checkered avenue to Queen's Crawley,

was charming in the moonlight to two such lovers of the picturesque as the Captain and Miss Rebecca.

"O those stars,

those stars!"

Miss Rebecca would say,

turning her twinkling green eyes up towards them.

"I feel myself almost a spirit when I gaze upon them."

"O --ah --Gad --yes,

so do I exactly,

Miss Sharp,"

the other enthusiast replied.

"You don't mind my cigar,

do you,

Miss Sharp?"

Miss Sharp loved the smell of a cigar out of doors beyond everything in the world --and she just tasted one too,

in the prettiest way possible,

and gave a little puff,

and a little scream,

and a little giggle,

and restored the delicacy to the Captain,

who twirled his moustache,

and straightway puffed it into a blaze that glowed quite red in the dark plantation,

and swore --"Jove --aw --Gad --aw --it's the finest segaw I ever smoked in the world aw,"

for his intellect and conversation were alike brilliant and becoming to a heavy young dragoon.

Old Sir Pitt,

who was taking his pipe and beer,

and talking to John Horrocks about a "ship" that was to be killed,

espied the pair so occupied from his study-window,

and with dreadful oaths swore that if it wasn't for Miss Crawley,

he'd take Rawdon and bundle un out of doors,

like a rogue as he was.

"He be a bad'n,

sure enough,"

Mr. Horrocks remarked;

"and his man Flethers is wuss,

and have made such a row in the housekeeper's room about the dinners and hale,

as no lord would make --but I think Miss Sharp's a match for'n,

Sir Pitt,"

he added,

after a pause.

And so,

in truth,

she was --for father and son too.


Quite a Sentimental Chapter

We must now take leave of Arcadia,

and those amiable people practising the rural virtues there,

and travel back to London,

to inquire what has become of Miss Amelia "We don't care a fig for her,"

writes some unknown correspondent with a pretty little handwriting and a pink seal to her note.

"She is fade and insipid,"

and adds some more kind remarks in this strain,

which I should never have repeated at all,

but that they are in truth prodigiously complimentary to the young lady whom they concern.

Has the beloved reader,

in his experience of society,

never heard similar remarks by good-natured female friends;

who always wonder what you CAN see in Miss Smith that is so fascinating;

or what COULD induce Major Jones to propose for that silly insignificant simpering Miss Thompson,

who has nothing but her wax-doll face to recommend her?

What is there in a pair of pink cheeks and blue eyes forsooth?

these dear Moralists ask,

and hint wisely that the gifts of genius,

the accomplishments of the mind,

the mastery of Mangnall's Questions,

and a ladylike knowledge of botany and geology,

the knack of making poetry,

the power of rattling sonatas in the Herz-manner,

and so forth,

are far more valuable endowments for a female,

than those fugitive charms which a few years will inevitably tarnish.

It is quite edifying to hear women speculate upon the worthlessness and the duration of beauty.

But though virtue is a much finer thing,

and those hapless creatures who suffer under the misfortune of good looks ought to be continually put in mind of the fate which awaits them;

and though,

very likely,

the heroic female character which ladies admire is a more glorious and beautiful object than the kind,




tender little domestic goddess,

whom men are inclined to worship --yet the latter and inferior sort of women must have this consolation --that the men do admire them after all;

and that,

in spite of all our kind friends' warnings and protests,

we go on in our desperate error and folly,

and shall to the end of the chapter.


for my own part,

though I have been repeatedly told by persons for whom I have the greatest respect,

that Miss Brown is an insignificant chit,

and Mrs. White has nothing but her petit minois chiffonne,

and Mrs. Black has not a word to say for herself;

yet I know that I have had the most delightful conversations with Mrs. Black (of course,

my dear Madam,

they are inviolable): I see all the men in a cluster round Mrs. White's chair: all the young fellows battling to dance with Miss Brown;

and so I am tempted to think that to be despised by her sex is a very great compliment to a woman.

The young ladies in Amelia's society did this for her very satisfactorily.

For instance,

there was scarcely any point upon which the Misses Osborne,

George's sisters,

and the Mesdemoiselles Dobbin agreed so well as in their estimate of her very trifling merits: and their wonder that their brothers could find any charms in her.

"We are kind to her,"

the Misses Osborne said,

a pair of fine black-browed young ladies who had had the best of governesses,


and milliners;

and they treated her with such extreme kindness and condescension,

and patronised her so insufferably,

that the poor little thing was in fact perfectly dumb in their presence,

and to all outward appearance as stupid as they thought her.

She made efforts to like them,

as in duty bound,

and as sisters of her future husband.

She passed "long mornings" with them --the most dreary and serious of forenoons.

She drove out solemnly in their great family coach with them,

and Miss Wirt their governess,

that raw-boned Vestal.

They took her to the ancient concerts by way of a treat,

and to the oratorio,

and to St. Paul's to see the charity children,

where in such terror was she of her friends,

she almost did not dare be affected by the hymn the children sang.

Their house was comfortable;

their papa's table rich and handsome;

their society solemn and genteel;

their self-respect prodigious;

they had the best pew at the Foundling: all their habits were pompous and orderly,

and all their amusements intolerably dull and decorous.

After every one of her visits (and oh how glad she was when they were over!) Miss Osborne and Miss Maria Osborne,

and Miss Wirt,

the vestal governess,

asked each other with increased wonder,

"What could George find in that creature?"

How is this?

some carping reader exclaims.

How is it that Amelia,

who had such a number of friends at school,

and was so beloved there,

comes out into the world and is spurned by her discriminating sex?

My dear sir,

there were no men at Miss Pinkerton's establishment except the old dancing-master;

and you would not have had the girls fall out about HIM?

When George,

their handsome brother,

ran off directly after breakfast,

and dined from home half-a-dozen times a week,

no wonder the neglected sisters felt a little vexation.

When young Bullock (of the firm of Hulker,

Bullock & Co.,


Lombard Street),

who had been making up to Miss Maria the last two seasons,

actually asked Amelia to dance the cotillon,

could you expect that the former young lady should be pleased?

And yet she said she was,

like an artless forgiving creature.

"I'm so delighted you like dear Amelia,"

she said quite eagerly to Mr. Bullock after the dance.

"She's engaged to my brother George;

there's not much in her,

but she's the best-natured and most unaffected young creature: at home we're all so fond of her."

Dear girl!

who can calculate the depth of affection expressed in that enthusiastic SO?

Miss Wirt and these two affectionate young women so earnestly and frequently impressed upon George Osborne's mind the enormity of the sacrifice he was making,

and his romantic generosity in throwing himself away upon Amelia,

that I'm not sure but that he really thought he was one of the most deserving characters in the British army,

and gave himself up to be loved with a good deal of easy resignation.


although he left home every morning,

as was stated,

and dined abroad six days in the week,

when his sisters believed the infatuated youth to be at Miss Sedley's apron-strings: he was NOT always with Amelia,

whilst the world supposed him at her feet.

Certain it is that on more occasions than one,

when Captain Dobbin called to look for his friend,

Miss Osborne (who was very attentive to the Captain,

and anxious to hear his military stories,

and to know about the health of his dear Mamma),

would laughingly point to the opposite side of the square,

and say,


you must go to the Sedleys' to ask for George;

WE never see him from morning till night."

At which kind of speech the Captain would laugh in rather an absurd constrained manner,

and turn off the conversation,

like a consummate man of the world,

to some topic of general interest,

such as the Opera,

the Prince's last ball at Carlton House,

or the weather --that blessing to society.

"What an innocent it is,

that pet of yours,"

Miss Maria would then say to Miss Jane,

upon the Captain's departure.

"Did you see how he blushed at the mention of poor George on duty?"

"It's a pity Frederick Bullock hadn't some of his modesty,


replies the elder sister,

with a toss of he head.


Awkwardness you mean,


I don't want Frederick to trample a hole in my muslin frock,

as Captain Dobbin did in yours at Mrs. Perkins'."

"In YOUR frock,



How could he?

Wasn't he dancing with Amelia?"

The fact is,

when Captain Dobbin blushed so,

and looked so awkward,

he remembered a circumstance of which he did not think it was necessary to inform the young ladies,


that he had been calling at Mr. Sedley's house already,

on the pretence of seeing George,

of course,

and George wasn't there,

only poor little Amelia,

with rather a sad wistful face,

seated near the drawing-room window,


after some very trifling stupid talk,

ventured to ask,

was there any truth in the report that the regiment was soon to be ordered abroad;

and had Captain Dobbin seen Mr. Osborne that day?

The regiment was not ordered abroad as yet;

and Captain Dobbin had not seen George.

"He was with his sister,

most likely,"

the Captain said.

"Should he go and fetch the truant?"

So she gave him her hand kindly and gratefully: and he crossed the square;

and she waited and waited,

but George never came.

Poor little tender heart!

and so it goes on hoping and beating,

and longing and trusting.

You see it is not much of a life to describe.

There is not much of what you call incident in it.

Only one feeling all day --when will he come?

only one thought to sleep and wake upon.

I believe George was playing billiards with Captain Cannon in Swallow Street at the time when Amelia was asking Captain Dobbin about him;

for George was a jolly sociable fellow,

and excellent in all games of skill.


after three days of absence,

Miss Amelia put on her bonnet,

and actually invaded the Osborne house.


leave our brother to come to us?"

said the young ladies.

"Have you had a quarrel,


Do tell us!"



there had been no quarrel.

"Who could quarrel with him?"

says she,

with her eyes filled with tears.

She only came over to --to see her dear friends;

they had not met for so long.

And this day she was so perfectly stupid and awkward,

that the Misses Osborne and their governess,

who stared after her as she went sadly away,

wondered more than ever what George could see in poor little Amelia.

Of course they did.

How was she to bare that timid little heart for the inspection of those young ladies with their bold black eyes?

It was best that it should shrink and hide itself.

I know the Misses Osborne were excellent critics of a Cashmere shawl,

or a pink satin slip;

and when Miss Turner had hers dyed purple,

and made into a spencer;

and when Miss Pickford had her ermine tippet twisted into a muff and trimmings,

I warrant you the changes did not escape the two intelligent young women before mentioned.

But there are things,

look you,

of a finer texture than fur or satin,

and all Solomon's glories,

and all the wardrobe of the Queen of Sheba --things whereof the beauty escapes the eyes of many connoisseurs.

And there are sweet modest little souls on which you light,

fragrant and blooming tenderly in quiet shady places;

and there are garden-ornaments,

as big as brass warming-pans,

that are fit to stare the sun itself out of countenance.

Miss Sedley was not of the sunflower sort;

and I say it is out of the rules of all proportion to draw a violet of the size of a double dahlia.



the life of a good young girl who is in the paternal nest as yet,

can't have many of those thrilling incidents to which the heroine of romance commonly lays claim.

Snares or shot may take off the old birds foraging without --hawks may be abroad,

from which they escape or by whom they suffer;

but the young ones in the nest have a pretty comfortable unromantic sort of existence in the down and the straw,

till it comes to their turn,


to get on the wing.

While Becky Sharp was on her own wing in the country,

hopping on all sorts of twigs,

and amid a multiplicity of traps,

and pecking up her food quite harmless and successful,

Amelia lay snug in her home of Russell Square;

if she went into the world,

it was under the guidance of the elders;

nor did it seem that any evil could befall her or that opulent cheery comfortable home in which she was affectionately sheltered.

Mamma had her morning duties,

and her daily drive,

and the delightful round of visits and shopping which forms the amusement,

or the profession as you may call it,

of the rich London lady.

Papa conducted his mysterious operations in the City --a stirring place in those days,

when war was raging all over Europe,

and empires were being staked;

when the "Courier" newspaper had tens of thousands of subscribers;

when one day brought you a battle of Vittoria,

another a burning of Moscow,

or a newsman's horn blowing down Russell Square about dinner-time,

announced such a fact as --"Battle of Leipsic --six hundred thousand men engaged --total defeat of the French --two hundred thousand killed."

Old Sedley once or twice came home with a very grave face;

and no wonder,

when such news as this was agitating all the hearts and all the Stocks of Europe.

Meanwhile matters went on in Russell Square,


just as if matters in Europe were not in the least disorganised.

The retreat from Leipsic made no difference in the number of meals Mr. Sambo took in the servants' hall;

the allies poured into France,

and the dinner-bell rang at five o'clock just as usual.

I don't think poor Amelia cared anything about Brienne and Montmirail,

or was fairly interested in the war until the abdication of the Emperor;

when she clapped her hands and said prayers --oh,

how grateful!

and flung herself into George Osborne's arms with all her soul,

to the astonishment of everybody who witnessed that ebullition of sentiment.

The fact is,

peace was declared,

Europe was going to be at rest;

the Corsican was overthrown,

and Lieutenant Osborne's regiment would not be ordered on service.

That was the way in which Miss Amelia reasoned.

The fate of Europe was Lieutenant George Osborne to her.

His dangers being over,

she sang Te Deum.

He was her Europe: her emperor: her allied monarchs and august prince regent.

He was her sun and moon;

and I believe she thought the grand illumination and ball at the Mansion House,

given to the sovereigns,

were especially in honour of George Osborne.

We have talked of shift,


and poverty,

as those dismal instructors under whom poor Miss Becky Sharp got her education.


love was Miss Amelia Sedley's last tutoress,

and it was amazing what progress our young lady made under that popular teacher.

In the course of fifteen or eighteen months' daily and constant attention to this eminent finishing governess,

what a deal of secrets Amelia learned,

which Miss Wirt and the black-eyed young ladies over the way,

which old Miss Pinkerton of Chiswick herself,

had no cognizance of!



how should any of those prim and reputable virgins?

With Misses P. and W. the tender passion is out of the question: I would not dare to breathe such an idea regarding them.

Miss Maria Osborne,

it is true,

was "attached" to Mr. Frederick Augustus Bullock,

of the firm of Hulker,

Bullock & Bullock;

but hers was a most respectable attachment,

and she would have taken Bullock Senior just the same,

her mind being fixed --as that of a well-bred young woman should be --upon a house in Park Lane,

a country house at Wimbledon,

a handsome chariot,

and two prodigious tall horses and footmen,

and a fourth of the annual profits of the eminent firm of Hulker & Bullock,

all of which advantages were represented in the person of Frederick Augustus.

Had orange blossoms been invented then (those touching emblems of female purity imported by us from France,

where people's daughters are universally sold in marriage),

Miss Maria,

I say,

would have assumed the spotless wreath,

and stepped into the travelling carriage by the side of gouty,



bottle-nosed Bullock Senior;

and devoted her beautiful existence to his happiness with perfect modesty --only the old gentleman was married already;

so she bestowed her young affections on the junior partner.



orange flowers!

The other day I saw Miss Trotter (that was),

arrayed in them,

trip into the travelling carriage at St. George's,

Hanover Square,

and Lord Methuselah hobbled in after.

With what an engaging modesty she pulled down the blinds of the chariot --the dear innocent!

There were half the carriages of Vanity Fair at the wedding.

This was not the sort of love that finished Amelia's education;

and in the course of a year turned a good young girl into a good young woman --to be a good wife presently,

when the happy time should come.

This young person (perhaps it was very imprudent in her parents to encourage her,

and abet her in such idolatry and silly romantic ideas) loved,

with all her heart,

the young officer in His Majesty's service with whom we have made a brief acquaintance.

She thought about him the very first moment on waking;

and his was the very last name mentioned in her prayers.

She never had seen a man so beautiful or so clever: such a figure on horseback: such a dancer: such a hero in general.

Talk of the Prince's bow!

what was it to George's?

She had seen Mr. Brummell,

whom everybody praised so.

Compare such a person as that to her George!

Not amongst all the beaux at the Opera (and there were beaux in those days with actual opera hats) was there any one to equal him.

He was only good enough to be a fairy prince;

and oh,

what magnanimity to stoop to such a humble Cinderella!

Miss Pinkerton would have tried to check this blind devotion very likely,

had she been Amelia's confidante;

but not with much success,

depend upon it.

It is in the nature and instinct of some women.

Some are made to scheme,

and some to love;

and I wish any respected bachelor that reads this may take the sort that best likes him.

While under this overpowering impression,

Miss Amelia neglected her twelve dear friends at Chiswick most cruelly,

as such selfish people commonly will do.

She had but this subject,

of course,

to think about;

and Miss Saltire was too cold for a confidante,

and she couldn't bring her mind to tell Miss Swartz,

the woolly-haired young heiress from St. Kitt's.

She had little Laura Martin home for the holidays;

and my belief is,

she made a confidante of her,

and promised that Laura should come and live with her when she was married,

and gave Laura a great deal of information regarding the passion of love,

which must have been singularly useful and novel to that little person.



I fear poor Emmy had not a well-regulated mind.

What were her parents doing,

not to keep this little heart from beating so fast?

Old Sedley did not seem much to notice matters.

He was graver of late,

and his City affairs absorbed him.

Mrs. Sedley was of so easy and uninquisitive a nature that she wasn't even jealous.

Mr. Jos was away,

being besieged by an Irish widow at Cheltenham.

Amelia had the house to herself --ah!

too much to herself sometimes --not that she ever doubted;


to be sure,

George must be at the Horse Guards;

and he can't always get leave from Chatham;

and he must see his friends and sisters,

and mingle in society when in town (he,

such an ornament to every society!);

and when he is with the regiment,

he is too tired to write long letters.

I know where she kept that packet she had --and can steal in and out of her chamber like Iachimo --like Iachimo?

No --that is a bad part.

I will only act Moonshine,

and peep harmless into the bed where faith and beauty and innocence lie dreaming.

But if Osborne's were short and soldierlike letters,

it must be confessed,

that were Miss Sedley's letters to Mr. Osborne to be published,

we should have to extend this novel to such a multiplicity of volumes as not the most sentimental reader could support;

that she not only filled sheets of large paper,

but crossed them with the most astonishing perverseness;

that she wrote whole pages out of poetry-books without the least pity;

that she underlined words and passages with quite a frantic emphasis;


in fine,

gave the usual tokens of her condition.

She wasn't a heroine.

Her letters were full of repetition.

She wrote rather doubtful grammar sometimes,

and in her verses took all sorts of liberties with the metre.

But oh,


if you are not allowed to touch the heart sometimes in spite of syntax,

and are not to be loved until you all know the difference between trimeter and tetrameter,

may all Poetry go to the deuce,

and every schoolmaster perish miserably!


Sentimental and Otherwise

I fear the gentleman to whom Miss Amelia's letters were addressed was rather an obdurate critic.

Such a number of notes followed Lieutenant Osborne about the country,

that he became almost ashamed of the jokes of his mess-room companions regarding them,

and ordered his servant never to deliver them except at his private apartment.

He was seen lighting his cigar with one,

to the horror of Captain Dobbin,


it is my belief,

would have given a bank-note for the document.

For some time George strove to keep the liaison a secret.

There was a woman in the case,

that he admitted.

"And not the first either,"

said Ensign Spooney to Ensign Stubble.

"That Osborne's a devil of a fellow.

There was a judge's daughter at Demerara went almost mad about him;

then there was that beautiful quadroon girl,

Miss Pye,

at St. Vincent's,

you know;

and since he's been home,

they say he's a regular Don Giovanni,

by Jove."

Stubble and Spooney thought that to be a "regular Don Giovanni,

by Jove" was one of the finest qualities a man could possess,

and Osborne's reputation was prodigious amongst the young men of the regiment.

He was famous in field-sports,

famous at a song,

famous on parade;

free with his money,

which was bountifully supplied by his father.

His coats were better made than any man's in the regiment,

and he had more of them.

He was adored by the men.

He could drink more than any officer of the whole mess,

including old Heavytop,

the colonel.

He could spar better than Knuckles,

the private (who would have been a corporal but for his drunkenness,

and who had been in the prize-ring);

and was the best batter and bowler,

out and out,

of the regimental club.

He rode his own horse,

Greased Lightning,

and won the Garrison cup at Quebec races.

There were other people besides Amelia who worshipped him.

Stubble and Spooney thought him a sort of Apollo;

Dobbin took him to be an Admirable Crichton;

and Mrs. Major O'Dowd acknowledged he was an elegant young fellow,

and put her in mind of Fitzjurld Fogarty,

Lord Castlefogarty's second son.


Stubble and Spooney and the rest indulged in most romantic conjectures regarding this female correspondent of Osborne's --opining that it was a Duchess in London who was in love with him --or that it was a General's daughter,

who was engaged to somebody else,

and madly attached to him --or that it was a Member of Parliament's lady,

who proposed four horses and an elopement --or that it was some other victim of a passion delightfully exciting,


and disgraceful to all parties,

on none of which conjectures would Osborne throw the least light,

leaving his young admirers and friends to invent and arrange their whole history.

And the real state of the case would never have been known at all in the regiment but for Captain Dobbin's indiscretion.

The Captain was eating his breakfast one day in the mess-room,

while Cackle,

the assistant-surgeon,

and the two above-named worthies were speculating upon Osborne's intrigue --Stubble holding out that the lady was a Duchess about Queen Charlotte's court,

and Cackle vowing she was an opera-singer of the worst reputation.

At this idea Dobbin became so moved,

that though his mouth was full of eggs and bread-and-butter at the time,

and though he ought not to have spoken at all,

yet he couldn't help blurting out,


you're a stupid fool.

You're always talking nonsense and scandal.

Osborne is not going to run off with a Duchess or ruin a milliner.

Miss Sedley is one of the most charming young women that ever lived.

He's been engaged to her ever so long;

and the man who calls her names had better not do so in my hearing."

With which,

turning exceedingly red,

Dobbin ceased speaking,

and almost choked himself with a cup of tea.

The story was over the regiment in half-an-hour;

and that very evening Mrs. Major O'Dowd wrote off to her sister Glorvina at O'Dowdstown not to hurry from Dublin --young Osborne being prematurely engaged already.

She complimented the Lieutenant in an appropriate speech over a glass of whisky-toddy that evening,

and he went home perfectly furious to quarrel with Dobbin (who had declined Mrs. Major O'Dowd's party,

and sat in his own room playing the flute,


I believe,

writing poetry in a very melancholy manner) --to quarrel with Dobbin for betraying his secret.

"Who the deuce asked you to talk about my affairs?"

Osborne shouted indignantly.

"Why the devil is all the regiment to know that I am going to be married?

Why is that tattling old harridan,

Peggy O'Dowd,

to make free with my name at her d --d supper-table,

and advertise my engagement over the three kingdoms?

After all,

what right have you to say I am engaged,

or to meddle in my business at all,


"It seems to me,"

Captain Dobbin began.

"Seems be hanged,


his junior interrupted him.

"I am under obligations to you,

I know it,

a d --d deal too well too;

but I won't be always sermonised by you because you're five years my senior.

I'm hanged if I'll stand your airs of superiority and infernal pity and patronage.

Pity and patronage!

I should like to know in what I'm your inferior?"

"Are you engaged?"

Captain Dobbin interposed.

"What the devil's that to you or any one here if I am?"

"Are you ashamed of it?"

Dobbin resumed.

"What right have you to ask me that question,


I should like to know,"

George said.

"Good God,

you don't mean to say you want to break off?"

asked Dobbin,

starting up.

"In other words,

you ask me if I'm a man of honour,"

said Osborne,


"is that what you mean?

You've adopted such a tone regarding me lately that I'm  -- -- -- if I'll bear it any more."

"What have I done?

I've told you you were neglecting a sweet girl,


I've told you that when you go to town you ought to go to her,

and not to the gambling-houses about St. James's."

"You want your money back,

I suppose,"

said George,

with a sneer.

"Of course I do --I always did,

didn't I?"

says Dobbin.

"You speak like a generous fellow."


hang it,


I beg your pardon" --here George interposed in a fit of remorse;

"you have been my friend in a hundred ways,

Heaven knows.

You've got me out of a score of scrapes.

When Crawley of the Guards won that sum of money of me I should have been done but for you: I know I should.

But you shouldn't deal so hardly with me;

you shouldn't be always catechising me.

I am very fond of Amelia;

I adore her,

and that sort of thing.

Don't look angry.

She's faultless;

I know she is.

But you see there's no fun in winning a thing unless you play for it.

Hang it: the regiment's just back from the West Indies,

I must have a little fling,

and then when I'm married I'll reform;

I will upon my honour,


And --I say --Dob --don't be angry with me,

and I'll give you a hundred next month,

when I know my father will stand something handsome;

and I'll ask Heavytop for leave,

and I'll go to town,

and see Amelia to-morrow --there now,

will that satisfy you?"

"It is impossible to be long angry with you,


said the good-natured Captain;

"and as for the money,

old boy,

you know if I wanted it you'd share your last shilling with me."

"That I would,

by Jove,


George said,

with the greatest generosity,

though by the way he never had any money to spare.

"Only I wish you had sown those wild oats of yours,


If you could have seen poor little Miss Emmy's face when she asked me about you the other day,

you would have pitched those billiard-balls to the deuce.

Go and comfort her,

you rascal.

Go and write her a long letter.

Do something to make her happy;

a very little will."

"I believe she's d --d fond of me,"

the Lieutenant said,

with a self-satisfied air;

and went off to finish the evening with some jolly fellows in the mess-room.

Amelia meanwhile,

in Russell Square,

was looking at the moon,

which was shining upon that peaceful spot,

as well as upon the square of the Chatham barracks,

where Lieutenant Osborne was quartered,

and thinking to herself how her hero was employed.

Perhaps he is visiting the sentries,

thought she;

perhaps he is bivouacking;

perhaps he is attending the couch of a wounded comrade,

or studying the art of war up in his own desolate chamber.

And her kind thoughts sped away as if they were angels and had wings,

and flying down the river to Chatham and Rochester,

strove to peep into the barracks where George was.

...All things considered,

I think it was as well the gates were shut,

and the sentry allowed no one to pass;

so that the poor little white-robed angel could not hear the songs those young fellows were roaring over the whisky-punch.

The day after the little conversation at Chatham barracks,

young Osborne,

to show that he would be as good as his word,

prepared to go to town,

thereby incurring Captain Dobbin's applause.

"I should have liked to make her a little present,"

Osborne said to his friend in confidence,

"only I am quite out of cash until my father tips up."

But Dobbin would not allow this good nature and generosity to be balked,

and so accommodated Mr. Osborne with a few pound notes,

which the latter took after a little faint scruple.

And I dare say he would have bought something very handsome for Amelia;


getting off the coach in Fleet Street,

he was attracted by a handsome shirt-pin in a jeweller's window,

which he could not resist;

and having paid for that,

had very little money to spare for indulging in any further exercise of kindness.

Never mind: you may be sure it was not his presents Amelia wanted.

When he came to Russell Square,

her face lighted up as if he had been sunshine.

The little cares,



timid misgivings,

sleepless fancies of I don't know how many days and nights,

were forgotten,

under one moment's influence of that familiar,

irresistible smile.

He beamed on her from the drawing-room door --magnificent,

with ambrosial whiskers,

like a god.


whose face as he announced Captain Osbin (having conferred a brevet rank on that young officer) blazed with a sympathetic grin,

saw the little girl start,

and flush,

and jump up from her watching-place in the window;

and Sambo retreated: and as soon as the door was shut,

she went fluttering to Lieutenant George Osborne's heart as if it was the only natural home for her to nestle in.


thou poor panting little soul!

The very finest tree in the whole forest,

with the straightest stem,

and the strongest arms,

and the thickest foliage,

wherein you choose to build and coo,

may be marked,

for what you know,

and may be down with a crash ere long.

What an old,

old simile that is,

between man and timber!

In the meanwhile,

George kissed her very kindly on her forehead and glistening eyes,

and was very gracious and good;

and she thought his diamond shirt-pin (which she had not known him to wear before) the prettiest ornament ever seen.

The observant reader,

who has marked our young Lieutenant's previous behaviour,

and has preserved our report of the brief conversation which he has just had with Captain Dobbin,

has possibly come to certain conclusions regarding the character of Mr. Osborne.

Some cynical Frenchman has said that there are two parties to a love-transaction: the one who loves and the other who condescends to be so treated.

Perhaps the love is occasionally on the man's side;

perhaps on the lady's.

Perhaps some infatuated swain has ere this mistaken insensibility for modesty,

dulness for maiden reserve,

mere vacuity for sweet bashfulness,

and a goose,

in a word,

for a swan.

Perhaps some beloved female subscriber has arrayed an ass in the splendour and glory of her imagination;

admired his dulness as manly simplicity;

worshipped his selfishness as manly superiority;

treated his stupidity as majestic gravity,

and used him as the brilliant fairy Titania did a certain weaver at Athens.

I think I have seen such comedies of errors going on in the world.

But this is certain,

that Amelia believed her lover to be one of the most gallant and brilliant men in the empire: and it is possible Lieutenant Osborne thought so too.

He was a little wild: how many young men are;

and don't girls like a rake better than a milksop?

He hadn't sown his wild oats as yet,

but he would soon: and quit the army now that peace was proclaimed;

the Corsican monster locked up at Elba;

promotion by consequence over;

and no chance left for the display of his undoubted military talents and valour: and his allowance,

with Amelia's settlement,

would enable them to take a snug place in the country somewhere,

in a good sporting neighbourhood;

and he would hunt a little,

and farm a little;

and they would be very happy.

As for remaining in the army as a married man,

that was impossible.

Fancy Mrs. George Osborne in lodgings in a county town;


worse still,

in the East or West Indies,

with a society of officers,

and patronized by Mrs. Major O'Dowd!

Amelia died with laughing at Osborne's stories about Mrs. Major O'Dowd.

He loved her much too fondly to subject her to that horrid woman and her vulgarities,

and the rough treatment of a soldier's wife.

He didn't care for himself --not he;

but his dear little girl should take the place in society to which,

as his wife,

she was entitled: and to these proposals you may be sure she acceded,

as she would to any other from the same author.

Holding this kind of conversation,

and building numberless castles in the air (which Amelia adorned with all sorts of flower-gardens,

rustic walks,

country churches,

Sunday schools,

and the like;

while George had his mind's eye directed to the stables,

the kennel,

and the cellar),

this young pair passed away a couple of hours very pleasantly;

and as the Lieutenant had only that single day in town,

and a great deal of most important business to transact,

it was proposed that Miss Emmy should dine with her future sisters-in-law.

This invitation was accepted joyfully.

He conducted her to his sisters;

where he left her talking and prattling in a way that astonished those ladies,

who thought that George might make something of her;

and he then went off to transact his business.

In a word,

he went out and ate ices at a pastry-cook's shop in Charing Cross;

tried a new coat in Pall Mall;

dropped in at the Old Slaughters',

and called for Captain Cannon;

played eleven games at billiards with the Captain,

of which he won eight,

and returned to Russell Square half an hour late for dinner,

but in very good humour.

It was not so with old Mr. Osborne.

When that gentleman came from the City,

and was welcomed in the drawing-room by his daughters and the elegant Miss Wirt,

they saw at once by his face --which was puffy,


and yellow at the best of times --and by the scowl and twitching of his black eyebrows,

that the heart within his large white waistcoat was disturbed and uneasy.

When Amelia stepped forward to salute him,

which she always did with great trembling and timidity,

he gave a surly grunt of recognition,

and dropped the little hand out of his great hirsute paw without any attempt to hold it there.

He looked round gloomily at his eldest daughter;


comprehending the meaning of his look,

which asked unmistakably,

"Why the devil is she here?"

said at once:

"George is in town,


and has gone to the Horse Guards,

and will be back to dinner."

"O he is,

is he?

I won't have the dinner kept waiting for him,


with which this worthy man lapsed into his particular chair,

and then the utter silence in his genteel,

well-furnished drawing-room was only interrupted by the alarmed ticking of the great French clock.

When that chronometer,

which was surmounted by a cheerful brass group of the sacrifice of Iphigenia,

tolled five in a heavy cathedral tone,

Mr. Osborne pulled the bell at his right hand --violently,

and the butler rushed up.


roared Mr. Osborne.

"Mr. George isn't come in,


interposed the man.

"Damn Mr. George,


Am I master of the house?


Mr. Osborne scowled.

Amelia trembled.

A telegraphic communication of eyes passed between the other three ladies.

The obedient bell in the lower regions began ringing the announcement of the meal.

The tolling over,

the head of the family thrust his hands into the great tail-pockets of his great blue coat with brass buttons,

and without waiting for a further announcement strode downstairs alone,

scowling over his shoulder at the four females.

"What's the matter now,

my dear?"

asked one of the other,

as they rose and tripped gingerly behind the sire.

"I suppose the funds are falling,"

whispered Miss Wirt;

and so,

trembling and in silence,

this hushed female company followed their dark leader.

They took their places in silence.

He growled out a blessing,

which sounded as gruffly as a curse.

The great silver dish-covers were removed.

Amelia trembled in her place,

for she was next to the awful Osborne,

and alone on her side of the table --the gap being occasioned by the absence of George.


says Mr. Osborne,

clutching the ladle,

fixing his eyes on her,

in a sepulchral tone;

and having helped her and the rest,

did not speak for a while.

"Take Miss Sedley's plate away,"

at last he said.

"She can't eat the soup --no more can I.

It's beastly.

Take away the soup,


and to-morrow turn the cook out of the house,


Having concluded his observations upon the soup,

Mr. Osborne made a few curt remarks respecting the fish,

also of a savage and satirical tendency,

and cursed Billingsgate with an emphasis quite worthy of the place.

Then he lapsed into silence,

and swallowed sundry glasses of wine,

looking more and more terrible,

till a brisk knock at the door told of George's arrival when everybody began to rally.

"He could not come before.

General Daguilet had kept him waiting at the Horse Guards.

Never mind soup or fish.

Give him anything --he didn't care what.

Capital mutton --capital everything."

His good humour contrasted with his father's severity;

and he rattled on unceasingly during dinner,

to the delight of all --of one especially,

who need not be mentioned.

As soon as the young ladies had discussed the orange and the glass of wine which formed the ordinary conclusion of the dismal banquets at Mr. Osborne's house,

the signal to make sail for the drawing-room was given,

and they all arose and departed.

Amelia hoped George would soon join them there.

She began playing some of his favourite waltzes (then newly imported) at the great carved-legged,

leather-cased grand piano in the drawing-room overhead.

This little artifice did not bring him.

He was deaf to the waltzes;

they grew fainter and fainter;

the discomfited performer left the huge instrument presently;

and though her three friends performed some of the loudest and most brilliant new pieces of their repertoire,

she did not hear a single note,

but sate thinking,

and boding evil.

Old Osborne's scowl,

terrific always,

had never before looked so deadly to her.

His eyes followed her out of the room,

as if she had been guilty of something.

When they brought her coffee,

she started as though it were a cup of poison which Mr. Hicks,

the butler,

wished to propose to her.

What mystery was there lurking?


those women!

They nurse and cuddle their presentiments,

and make darlings of their ugliest thoughts,

as they do of their deformed children.

The gloom on the paternal countenance had also impressed George Osborne with anxiety.

With such eyebrows,

and a look so decidedly bilious,

how was he to extract that money from the governor,

of which George was consumedly in want?

He began praising his father's wine.

That was generally a successful means of cajoling the old gentleman.

"We never got such Madeira in the West Indies,


as yours.

Colonel Heavytop took off three bottles of that you sent me down,

under his belt the other day."

"Did he?"

said the old gentleman.

"It stands me in eight shillings a bottle."

"Will you take six guineas a dozen for it,


said George,

with a laugh.

"There's one of the greatest men in the kingdom wants some."

"Does he?"

growled the senior.

"Wish he may get it."

"When General Daguilet was at Chatham,


Heavytop gave him a breakfast,

and asked me for some of the wine.

The General liked it just as well --wanted a pipe for the Commander-in-Chief.

He's his Royal Highness's right-hand man."

"It is devilish fine wine,"

said the Eyebrows,

and they looked more good-humoured;

and George was going to take advantage of this complacency,

and bring the supply question on the mahogany,

when the father,

relapsing into solemnity,

though rather cordial in manner,

bade him ring the bell for claret.

"And we'll see if that's as good as the Madeira,


to which his Royal Highness is welcome,

I'm sure.

And as we are drinking it,

I'll talk to you about a matter of importance."

Amelia heard the claret bell ringing as she sat nervously upstairs.

She thought,


it was a mysterious and presentimental bell.

Of the presentiments which some people are always having,

some surely must come right.

"What I want to know,


the old gentleman said,

after slowly smacking his first bumper --"what I want to know is,

how you and --ah --that little thing upstairs,

are carrying on?"

"I think,


it is not hard to see,"

George said,

with a self-satisfied grin.

"Pretty clear,


--What capital wine!"

"What d'you mean,

pretty clear,



hang it,


don't push me too hard.

I'm a modest man.

I --ah --I don't set up to be a lady-killer;

but I do own that she's as devilish fond of me as she can be.

Anybody can see that with half an eye."

"And you yourself?"



didn't you order me to marry her,

and ain't I a good boy?

Haven't our Papas settled it ever so long?"

"A pretty boy,


Haven't I heard of your doings,


with Lord Tarquin,

Captain Crawley of the Guards,

the Honourable Mr. Deuceace and that set.

Have a care sir,

have a care."

The old gentleman pronounced these aristocratic names with the greatest gusto.

Whenever he met a great man he grovelled before him,

and my-lorded him as only a free-born Briton can do.

He came home and looked out his history in the Peerage: he introduced his name into his daily conversation;

he bragged about his Lordship to his daughters.

He fell down prostrate and basked in him as a Neapolitan beggar does in the sun.

George was alarmed when he heard the names.

He feared his father might have been informed of certain transactions at play.

But the old moralist eased him by saying serenely:



young men will be young men.

And the comfort to me is,


that living in the best society in England,

as I hope you do;

as I think you do;

as my means will allow you to do --"

"Thank you,


says George,

making his point at once.

"One can't live with these great folks for nothing;

and my purse,


look at it";

and he held up a little token which had been netted by Amelia,

and contained the very last of Dobbin's pound notes.

"You shan't want,


The British merchant's son shan't want,


My guineas are as good as theirs,


my boy;

and I don't grudge


Call on Mr. Chopper as you go through the City to-morrow;

he'll have something for you.

I don't grudge money when I know you're in good society,

because I know that good society can never go wrong.

There's no pride in me.

I was a humbly born man --but you have had advantages.

Make a good use of


Mix with the young nobility.

There's many of

'em who can't spend a dollar to your guinea,

my boy.

And as for the pink bonnets (here from under the heavy eyebrows there came a knowing and not very pleasing leer) --why boys will be boys.

Only there's one thing I order you to avoid,


if you do not,

I'll cut you off with a shilling,

by Jove;

and that's gambling."


of course,


said George.

"But to return to the other business about Amelia: why shouldn't you marry higher than a stockbroker's daughter,

George --that's what I want to know?"

"It's a family business,


says George,

cracking filberts.

"You and Mr. Sedley made the match a hundred years ago."

"I don't deny it;

but people's positions alter,


I don't deny that Sedley made my fortune,

or rather put me in the way of acquiring,

by my own talents and genius,

that proud position,


I may say,

I occupy in the tallow trade and the City of London.

I've shown my gratitude to Sedley;

and he's tried it of late,


as my cheque-book can show.


I tell you in confidence I don't like the looks of Mr. Sedley's affairs.

My chief clerk,

Mr. Chopper,

does not like the looks of


and he's an old file,

and knows

'Change as well as any man in London.

Hulker & Bullock are looking shy at him.

He's been dabbling on his own account I fear.

They say the Jeune Amelie was his,

which was taken by the Yankee privateer Molasses.

And that's flat --unless I see Amelia's ten thousand down you don't marry her.

I'll have no lame duck's daughter in my family.

Pass the wine,

sir --or ring for coffee."

With which Mr. Osborne spread out the evening paper,

and George knew from this signal that the colloquy was ended,

and that his papa was about to take a nap.

He hurried upstairs to Amelia in the highest spirits.

What was it that made him more attentive to her on that night than he had been for a long time --more eager to amuse her,

more tender,

more brilliant in talk?

Was it that his generous heart warmed to her at the prospect of misfortune;

or that the idea of losing the dear little prize made him value it more?

She lived upon the recollections of that happy evening for many days afterwards,

remembering his words;

his looks;

the song he sang;

his attitude,

as he leant over her or looked at her from a distance.

As it seemed to her,

no night ever passed so quickly at Mr. Osborne's house before;

and for once this young person was almost provoked to be angry by the premature arrival of Mr. Sambo with her shawl.

George came and took a tender leave of her the next morning;

and then hurried off to the City,

where he visited Mr. Chopper,

his father's head man,

and received from that gentleman a document which he exchanged at Hulker & Bullock's for a whole pocketful of money.

As George entered the house,

old John Sedley was passing out of the banker's parlour,

looking very dismal.

But his godson was much too elated to mark the worthy stockbroker's depression,

or the dreary eyes which the kind old gentleman cast upon him.

Young Bullock did not come grinning out of the parlour with him as had been his wont in former years.

And as the swinging doors of Hulker,

Bullock & Co.

closed upon Mr. Sedley,

Mr. Quill,

the cashier (whose benevolent occupation it is to hand out crisp bank-notes from a drawer and dispense sovereigns out of a copper shovel),

winked at Mr. Driver,

the clerk at the desk on his right.

Mr. Driver winked again.

"No go,"

Mr. D. whispered.

"Not at no price,"

Mr. Q. said.

"Mr. George Osborne,


how will you take it?"

George crammed eagerly a quantity of notes into his pockets,

and paid Dobbin fifty pounds that very evening at mess.

That very evening Amelia wrote him the tenderest of long letters.

Her heart was overflowing with tenderness,

but it still foreboded evil.

What was the cause of Mr. Osborne's dark looks?

she asked.

Had any difference arisen between him and her papa?

Her poor papa returned so melancholy from the City,

that all were alarmed about him at home --in fine,

there were four pages of loves and fears and hopes and forebodings.

"Poor little Emmy --dear little Emmy.

How fond she is of me,"

George said,

as he perused the missive --"and Gad,

what a headache that mixed punch has given me!"

Poor little Emmy,



Miss Crawley at Home

About this time there drove up to an exceedingly snug and well-appointed house in Park Lane,

a travelling chariot with a lozenge on the panels,

a discontented female in a green veil and crimped curls on the rumble,

and a large and confidential man on the box.

It was the equipage of our friend Miss Crawley,

returning from Hants.

The carriage windows were shut;

the fat spaniel,

whose head and tongue ordinarily lolled out of one of them,

reposed on the lap of the discontented female.

When the vehicle stopped,

a large round bundle of shawls was taken out of the carriage by the aid of various domestics and a young lady who accompanied the heap of cloaks.

That bundle contained Miss Crawley,

who was conveyed upstairs forthwith,

and put into a bed and chamber warmed properly as for the reception of an invalid.

Messengers went off for her physician and medical man.

They came,




The young companion of Miss Crawley,

at the conclusion of their interview,

came in to receive their instructions,

and administered those antiphlogistic medicines which the eminent men ordered.

Captain Crawley of the Life Guards rode up from Knightsbridge Barracks the next day;

his black charger pawed the straw before his invalid aunt's door.

He was most affectionate in his inquiries regarding that amiable relative.

There seemed to be much source of apprehension.

He found Miss Crawley's maid (the discontented female) unusually sulky and despondent;

he found Miss Briggs,

her dame de compagnie,

in tears alone in the drawing-room.

She had hastened home,

hearing of her beloved friend's illness.

She wished to fly to her couch,

that couch which she,


had so often smoothed in the hour of sickness.

She was denied admission to Miss Crawley's apartment.

A stranger was administering her medicines --a stranger from the country --an odious Miss  ...

 --tears choked the utterance of the dame de compagnie,

and she buried her crushed affections and her poor old red nose in her pocket handkerchief.

Rawdon Crawley sent up his name by the sulky femme de chambre,

and Miss Crawley's new companion,

coming tripping down from the sick-room,

put a little hand into his as he stepped forward eagerly to meet her,

gave a glance of great scorn at the bewildered Briggs,

and beckoning the young Guardsman out of the back drawing-room,

led him downstairs into that now desolate dining-parlour,

where so many a good dinner had been celebrated.

Here these two talked for ten minutes,


no doubt,

the symptoms of the old invalid above stairs;

at the end of which period the parlour bell was rung briskly,

and answered on that instant by Mr. Bowls,

Miss Crawley's large confidential butler (who,


happened to be at the keyhole during the most part of the interview);

and the Captain coming out,

curling his mustachios,

mounted the black charger pawing among the straw,

to the admiration of the little blackguard boys collected in the street.

He looked in at the dining-room window,

managing his horse,

which curvetted and capered beautifully --for one instant the young person might be seen at the window,

when her figure vanished,



she went upstairs again to resume the affecting duties of benevolence.

Who could this young woman be,

I wonder?

That evening a little dinner for two persons was laid in the dining-room --when Mrs. Firkin,

the lady's maid,

pushed into her mistress's apartment,

and bustled about there during the vacancy occasioned by the departure of the new nurse --and the latter and Miss Briggs sat down to the neat little meal.

Briggs was so much choked by emotion that she could hardly take a morsel of meat.

The young person carved a fowl with the utmost delicacy,

and asked so distinctly for egg-sauce,

that poor Briggs,

before whom that delicious condiment was placed,


made a great clattering with the ladle,

and once more fell back in the most gushing hysterical state.

"Had you not better give Miss Briggs a glass of wine?"

said the person to Mr. Bowls,

the large confidential man.

He did so.

Briggs seized it mechanically,

gasped it down convulsively,

moaned a little,

and began to play with the chicken on her plate.

"I think we shall be able to help each other,"

said the person with great suavity:

"and shall have no need of Mr. Bowls's kind services.

Mr. Bowls,

if you please,

we will ring when we want you."

He went downstairs,


by the way,

he vented the most horrid curses upon the unoffending footman,

his subordinate.

"It is a pity you take on so,

Miss Briggs,"

the young lady said,

with a cool,

slightly sarcastic,


"My dearest friend is so ill,

and wo-o-on't see me,"

gurgled out Briggs in an agony of renewed grief.

"She's not very ill any more.

Console yourself,

dear Miss Briggs.

She has only overeaten herself --that is all.

She is greatly better.

She will soon be quite restored again.

She is weak from being cupped and from medical treatment,

but she will rally immediately.

Pray console yourself,

and take a little more wine."

"But why,

why won't she see me again?"

Miss Briggs bleated out.




after three-and-twenty years' tenderness!

is this the return to your poor,

poor Arabella?"

"Don't cry too much,

poor Arabella,"

the other said (with ever so little of a grin);

"she only won't see you,

because she says you don't nurse her as well as I do.

It's no pleasure to me to sit up all night.

I wish you might do it instead."

"Have I not tended that dear couch for years?"

Arabella said,

"and now --"

"Now she prefers somebody else.


sick people have these fancies,

and must be humoured.

When she's well I shall go."



Arabella exclaimed,

madly inhaling her salts-bottle.

"Never be well or never go,

Miss Briggs?"

the other said,

with the same provoking good-nature.

"Pooh --she will be well in a fortnight,

when I shall go back to my little pupils at Queen's Crawley,

and to their mother,

who is a great deal more sick than our friend.

You need not be jealous about me,

my dear Miss Briggs.

I am a poor little girl without any friends,

or any harm in me.

I don't want to supplant you in Miss Crawley's good graces.

She will forget me a week after I am gone: and her affection for you has been the work of years.

Give me a little wine if you please,

my dear Miss Briggs,

and let us be friends.

I'm sure I want friends."

The placable and soft-hearted Briggs speechlessly pushed out her hand at this appeal;

but she felt the desertion most keenly for all that,

and bitterly,

bitterly moaned the fickleness of her Matilda.

At the end of half an hour,

the meal over,

Miss Rebecca Sharp (for such,

astonishing to state,

is the name of her who has been described ingeniously as "the person" hitherto),

went upstairs again to her patient's rooms,

from which,

with the most engaging politeness,

she eliminated poor Firkin.

"Thank you,

Mrs. Firkin,

that will quite do;

how nicely you make it!

I will ring when anything is wanted."

"Thank you";

and Firkin came downstairs in a tempest of jealousy,

only the more dangerous because she was forced to confine it in her own bosom.

Could it be the tempest which,

as she passed the landing of the first floor,

blew open the drawing-room door?


it was stealthily opened by the hand of Briggs.

Briggs had been on the watch.

Briggs too well heard the creaking Firkin descend the stairs,

and the clink of the spoon and gruel-basin the neglected female carried.



says she,

as the other entered the apartment.



"Wuss and wuss,

Miss B.,"

Firkin said,

wagging her head.

"Is she not better then?"

"She never spoke but once,

and I asked her if she felt a little more easy,

and she told me to hold my stupid tongue.


Miss B.,

I never thought to have seen this day!"

And the water-works again began to play.

"What sort of a person is this Miss Sharp,


I little thought,

while enjoying my Christmas revels in the elegant home of my firm friends,

the Reverend Lionel Delamere and his amiable lady,

to find a stranger had taken my place in the affections of my dearest,

my still dearest Matilda!"

Miss Briggs,

it will be seen by her language,

was of a literary and sentimental turn,

and had once published a volume of poems --"Trills of the Nightingale" --by subscription.

"Miss B.,

they are all infatyated about that young woman,"

Firkin replied.

"Sir Pitt wouldn't have let her go,

but he daredn't refuse Miss Crawley anything.

Mrs. Bute at the Rectory jist as bad --never happy out of her sight.

The Capting quite wild about her.

Mr. Crawley mortial jealous.

Since Miss C. was took ill,

she won't have nobody near her but Miss Sharp,

I can't tell for where nor for why;

and I think somethink has bewidged everybody."

Rebecca passed that night in constant watching upon Miss Crawley;

the next night the old lady slept so comfortably,

that Rebecca had time for several hours' comfortable repose herself on the sofa,

at the foot of her patroness's bed;

very soon,

Miss Crawley was so well that she sat up and laughed heartily at a perfect imitation of Miss Briggs and her grief,

which Rebecca described to her.

Briggs' weeping snuffle,

and her manner of using the handkerchief,

were so completely rendered that Miss Crawley became quite cheerful,

to the admiration of the doctors when they visited her,

who usually found this worthy woman of the world,

when the least sickness attacked her,

under the most abject depression and terror of death.

Captain Crawley came every day,

and received bulletins from Miss Rebecca respecting his aunt's health.

This improved so rapidly,

that poor Briggs was allowed to see her patroness;

and persons with tender hearts may imagine the smothered emotions of that sentimental female,

and the affecting nature of the interview.

Miss Crawley liked to have Briggs in a good deal soon.

Rebecca used to mimic her to her face with the most admirable gravity,

thereby rendering the imitation doubly piquant to her worthy patroness.

The causes which had led to the deplorable illness of Miss Crawley,

and her departure from her brother's house in the country,

were of such an unromantic nature that they are hardly fit to be explained in this genteel and sentimental novel.

For how is it possible to hint of a delicate female,

living in good society,

that she ate and drank too much,

and that a hot supper of lobsters profusely enjoyed at the Rectory was the reason of an indisposition which Miss Crawley herself persisted was solely attributable to the dampness of the weather?

The attack was so sharp that Matilda --as his Reverence expressed it --was very nearly "off the hooks";

all the family were in a fever of expectation regarding the will,

and Rawdon Crawley was making sure of at least forty thousand pounds before the commencement of the London season.

Mr. Crawley sent over a choice parcel of tracts,

to prepare her for the change from Vanity Fair and Park Lane for another world;

but a good doctor from Southampton being called in in time,

vanquished the lobster which was so nearly fatal to her,

and gave her sufficient strength to enable her to return to London.

The Baronet did not disguise his exceeding mortification at the turn which affairs took.

While everybody was attending on Miss Crawley,

and messengers every hour from the Rectory were carrying news of her health to the affectionate folks there,

there was a lady in another part of the house,

being exceedingly ill,

of whom no one took any notice at all;

and this was the lady of Crawley herself.

The good doctor shook his head after seeing her;

to which visit Sir Pitt consented,

as it could be paid without a fee;

and she was left fading away in her lonely chamber,

with no more heed paid to her than to a weed in the park.

The young ladies,


lost much of the inestimable benefit of their governess's instruction,

So affectionate a nurse was Miss Sharp,

that Miss Crawley would take her medicines from no other hand.

Firkin had been deposed long before her mistress's departure from the country.

That faithful attendant found a gloomy consolation on returning to London,

in seeing Miss Briggs suffer the same pangs of jealousy and undergo the same faithless treatment to which she herself had been subject.

Captain Rawdon got an extension of leave on his aunt's illness,

and remained dutifully at home.

He was always in her antechamber.

(She lay sick in the state bedroom,

into which you entered by the little blue saloon.)

His father was always meeting him there;

or if he came down the corridor ever so quietly,

his father's door was sure to open,

and the hyena face of the old gentleman to glare out.

What was it set one to watch the other so?

A generous rivalry,

no doubt,

as to which should be most attentive to the dear sufferer in the state bedroom.

Rebecca used to come out and comfort both of them;

or one or the other of them rather.

Both of these worthy gentlemen were most anxious to have news of the invalid from her little confidential messenger.

At dinner --to which meal she descended for half an hour --she kept the peace between them: after which she disappeared for the night;

when Rawdon would ride over to the depot of the 150th at Mudbury,

leaving his papa to the society of Mr. Horrocks and his rum and water.

She passed as weary a fortnight as ever mortal spent in Miss Crawley's sick-room;

but her little nerves seemed to be of iron,

as she was quite unshaken by the duty and the tedium of the sick-chamber.

She never told until long afterwards how painful that duty was;

how peevish a patient was the jovial old lady;

how angry;

how sleepless;

in what horrors of death;

during what long nights she lay moaning,

and in almost delirious agonies respecting that future world which she quite ignored when she was in good health.

--Picture to yourself,

oh fair young reader,

a worldly,




religionless old woman,

writhing in pain and fear,

and without her wig.

Picture her to yourself,

and ere you be old,

learn to love and pray!

Sharp watched this graceless bedside with indomitable patience.

Nothing escaped her;


like a prudent steward,

she found a use for everything.

She told many a good story about Miss Crawley's illness in after days --stories which made the lady blush through her artificial carnations.

During the illness she was never out of temper;

always alert;

she slept light,

having a perfectly clear conscience;

and could take that refreshment at almost any minute's warning.

And so you saw very few traces of fatigue in her appearance.

Her face might be a trifle paler,

and the circles round her eyes a little blacker than usual;

but whenever she came out from the sick-room she was always smiling,


and neat,

and looked as trim in her little dressing-gown and cap,

as in her smartest evening suit.

The Captain thought so,

and raved about her in uncouth convulsions.

The barbed shaft of love had penetrated his dull hide.

Six weeks --appropinquity --opportunity --had victimised him completely.

He made a confidante of his aunt at the Rectory,

of all persons in the world.

She rallied him about it;

she had perceived his folly;

she warned him;

she finished by owning that little Sharp was the most clever,





kindly creature in England.

Rawdon must not trifle with her affections,

though --dear Miss Crawley would never pardon him for that;

for she,


was quite overcome by the little governess,

and loved Sharp like a daughter.

Rawdon must go away --go back to his regiment and naughty London,

and not play with a poor artless girl's feelings.

Many and many a time this good-natured lady,

compassionating the forlorn life-guardsman's condition,

gave him an opportunity of seeing Miss Sharp at the Rectory,

and of walking home with her,

as we have seen.

When men of a certain sort,


are in love,

though they see the hook and the string,

and the whole apparatus with which they are to be taken,

they gorge the bait nevertheless --they must come to it --they must swallow it --and are presently struck and landed gasping.

Rawdon saw there was a manifest intention on Mrs. Bute's part to captivate him with Rebecca.

He was not very wise;

but he was a man about town,

and had seen several seasons.

A light dawned upon his dusky soul,

as he thought,

through a speech of Mrs. Bute's.

"Mark my words,


she said.

"You will have Miss Sharp one day for your relation."

"What relation --my cousin,


Mrs. Bute?

James sweet on her,


inquired the waggish officer.

"More than that,"

Mrs. Bute said,

with a flash from her black eyes.

"Not Pitt?

He sha'n't have her.

The sneak a'n't worthy of her.

He's booked to Lady Jane Sheepshanks."

"You men perceive nothing.

You silly,

blind creature --if anything happens to Lady Crawley,

Miss Sharp will be your mother-in-law;

and that's what will happen."

Rawdon Crawley,


gave vent to a prodigious whistle,

in token of astonishment at this announcement.

He couldn't deny it.

His father's evident liking for Miss Sharp had not escaped him.

He knew the old gentleman's character well;

and a more unscrupulous old --whyou --he did not conclude the sentence,

but walked home,

curling his mustachios,

and convinced he had found a clue to Mrs. Bute's mystery.

"By Jove,

it's too bad,"

thought Rawdon,

"too bad,

by Jove!

I do believe the woman wants the poor girl to be ruined,

in order that she shouldn't come into the family as Lady Crawley."

When he saw Rebecca alone,

he rallied her about his father's attachment in his graceful way.

She flung up her head scornfully,

looked him full in the face,

and said,


suppose he is fond of me.

I know he is,

and others too.

You don't think I am afraid of him,

Captain Crawley?

You don't suppose I can't defend my own honour,"

said the little woman,

looking as stately as a queen.



why --give you fair warning --look out,

you know --that's all,"

said the mustachio-twiddler.

"You hint at something not honourable,


said she,

flashing out.

"O Gad --really --Miss Rebecca,"

the heavy dragoon interposed.

"Do you suppose I have no feeling of self-respect,

because I am poor and friendless,

and because rich people have none?

Do you think,

because I am a governess,

I have not as much sense,

and feeling,

and good breeding as you gentlefolks in Hampshire?

I'm a Montmorency.

Do you suppose a Montmorency is not as good as a Crawley?"

When Miss Sharp was agitated,

and alluded to her maternal relatives,

she spoke with ever so slight a foreign accent,

which gave a great charm to her clear ringing voice.


she continued,

kindling as she spoke to the Captain;

"I can endure poverty,

but not shame --neglect,

but not insult;

and insult from --from you."

Her feelings gave way,

and she burst into tears.

"Hang it,

Miss Sharp --Rebecca --by Jove --upon my soul,

I wouldn't for a thousand pounds.



She was gone.

She drove out with Miss Crawley that day.

It was before the latter's illness.

At dinner she was unusually brilliant and lively;

but she would take no notice of the hints,

or the nods,

or the clumsy expostulations of the humiliated,

infatuated guardsman.

Skirmishes of this sort passed perpetually during the little campaign --tedious to relate,

and similar in result.

The Crawley heavy cavalry was maddened by defeat,

and routed every day.

If the Baronet of Queen's Crawley had not had the fear of losing his sister's legacy before his eyes,

he never would have permitted his dear girls to lose the educational blessings which their invaluable governess was conferring upon them.

The old house at home seemed a desert without her,

so useful and pleasant had Rebecca made herself there.

Sir Pitt's letters were not copied and corrected;

his books not made up;

his household business and manifold schemes neglected,

now that his little secretary was away.

And it was easy to see how necessary such an amanuensis was to him,

by the tenor and spelling of the numerous letters which he sent to her,

entreating her and commanding her to return.

Almost every day brought a frank from the Baronet,

enclosing the most urgent prayers to Becky for her return,

or conveying pathetic statements to Miss Crawley,

regarding the neglected state of his daughters' education;

of which documents Miss Crawley took very little heed.

Miss Briggs was not formally dismissed,

but her place as companion was a sinecure and a derision;

and her company was the fat spaniel in the drawing-room,

or occasionally the discontented Firkin in the housekeeper's closet.

Nor though the old lady would by no means hear of Rebecca's departure,

was the latter regularly installed in office in Park Lane.

Like many wealthy people,

it was Miss Crawley's habit to accept as much service as she could get from her inferiors;

and good-naturedly to take leave of them when she no longer found them useful.

Gratitude among certain rich folks is scarcely natural or to be thought of.

They take needy people's services as their due.

Nor have you,

O poor parasite and humble hanger-on,

much reason to complain!

Your friendship for Dives is about as sincere as the return which it usually gets.

It is money you love,

and not the man;

and were Croesus and his footman to change places you know,

you poor rogue,

who would have the benefit of your allegiance.

And I am not sure that,

in spite of Rebecca's simplicity and activity,

and gentleness and untiring good humour,

the shrewd old London lady,

upon whom these treasures of friendship were lavished,

had not a lurking suspicion all the while of her affectionate nurse and friend.

It must have often crossed Miss Crawley's mind that nobody does anything for nothing.

If she measured her own feeling towards the world,

she must have been pretty well able to gauge those of the world towards herself;

and perhaps she reflected that it is the ordinary lot of people to have no friends if they themselves care for nobody.


meanwhile Becky was the greatest comfort and convenience to her,

and she gave her a couple of new gowns,

and an old necklace and shawl,

and showed her friendship by abusing all her intimate acquaintances to her new confidante (than which there can't be a more touching proof of regard),

and meditated vaguely some great future benefit --to marry her perhaps to Clump,

the apothecary,

or to settle her in some advantageous way of life;

or at any rate,

to send her back to Queen's Crawley when she had done with her,

and the full London season had begun.

When Miss Crawley was convalescent and descended to the drawing-room,

Becky sang to her,

and otherwise amused her;

when she was well enough to drive out,

Becky accompanied her.

And amongst the drives which they took,


of all places in the world,

did Miss Crawley's admirable good-nature and friendship actually induce her to penetrate,

but to Russell Square,


and the house of John Sedley,


Ere that event,

many notes had passed,

as may be imagined,

between the two dear friends.

During the months of Rebecca's stay in Hampshire,

the eternal friendship had (must it be owned?) suffered considerable diminution,

and grown so decrepit and feeble with old age as to threaten demise altogether.

The fact is,

both girls had their own real affairs to think of: Rebecca her advance with her employers --Amelia her own absorbing topic.

When the two girls met,

and flew into each other's arms with that impetuosity which distinguishes the behaviour of young ladies towards each other,

Rebecca performed her part of the embrace with the most perfect briskness and energy.

Poor little Amelia blushed as she kissed her friend,

and thought she had been guilty of something very like coldness towards her.

Their first interview was but a very short one.

Amelia was just ready to go out for a walk.

Miss Crawley was waiting in her carriage below,

her people wondering at the locality in which they found themselves,

and gazing upon honest Sambo,

the black footman of Bloomsbury,

as one of the queer natives of the place.

But when Amelia came down with her kind smiling looks (Rebecca must introduce her to her friend,

Miss Crawley was longing to see her,

and was too ill to leave her carriage) --when,

I say,

Amelia came down,

the Park Lane shoulder-knot aristocracy wondered more and more that such a thing could come out of Bloomsbury;

and Miss Crawley was fairly captivated by the sweet blushing face of the young lady who came forward so timidly and so gracefully to pay her respects to the protector of her friend.

"What a complexion,

my dear!

What a sweet voice!"

Miss Crawley said,

as they drove away westward after the little interview.

"My dear Sharp,

your young friend is charming.

Send for her to Park Lane,

do you hear?"

Miss Crawley had a good taste.

She liked natural manners --a little timidity only set them off.

She liked pretty faces near her;

as she liked pretty pictures and nice china.

She talked of Amelia with rapture half a dozen times that day.

She mentioned her to Rawdon Crawley,

who came dutifully to partake of his aunt's chicken.

Of course,

on this Rebecca instantly stated that Amelia was engaged to be married --to a Lieutenant Osborne --a very old flame.

"Is he a man in a line-regiment?"

Captain Crawley asked,

remembering after an effort,

as became a guardsman,

the number of the regiment,

the  --th.

Rebecca thought that was the regiment.

"The Captain's name,"

she said,

"was Captain Dobbin."

"A lanky gawky fellow,"

said Crawley,

"tumbles over everybody.

I know him;

and Osborne's a goodish-looking fellow,

with large black whiskers?"


Miss Rebecca Sharp said,

"and enormously proud of them,

I assure you."

Captain Rawdon Crawley burst into a horse-laugh by way of reply;

and being pressed by the ladies to explain,

did so when the explosion of hilarity was over.

"He fancies he can play at billiards,"

said he.

"I won two hundred of him at the Cocoa-Tree.

HE play,

the young flat!

He'd have played for anything that day,

but his friend Captain Dobbin carried him off,

hang him!"



don't be so wicked,"

Miss Crawley remarked,

highly pleased.



of all the young fellows I've seen out of the line,

I think this fellow's the greenest.

Tarquin and Deuceace get what money they like out of him.

He'd go to the deuce to be seen with a lord.

He pays their dinners at Greenwich,

and they invite the company."

"And very pretty company too,

I dare say."

"Quite right,

Miss Sharp.


as usual,

Miss Sharp.

Uncommon pretty company --haw,


and the Captain laughed more and more,

thinking he had made a good joke.


don't be naughty!"

his aunt exclaimed.


his father's a City man --immensely rich,

they say.

Hang those City fellows,

they must bleed;

and I've not done with him yet,

I can tell you.




Captain Crawley;

I shall warn Amelia.

A gambling husband!"


ain't he,


the Captain said with great solemnity;

and then added,

a sudden thought having struck him:


I say,


we'll have him here."

"Is he a presentable sort of a person?"

the aunt inquired.



very well.

You wouldn't see any difference,"

Captain Crawley answered.

"Do let's have him,

when you begin to see a few people;

and his whatdyecallem --his inamorato --eh,

Miss Sharp;

that's what you call it --comes.


I'll write him a note,

and have him;

and I'll try if he can play piquet as well as billiards.

Where does he live,

Miss Sharp?"

Miss Sharp told Crawley the Lieutenant's town address;

and a few days after this conversation,

Lieutenant Osborne received a letter,

in Captain Rawdon's schoolboy hand,

and enclosing a note of invitation from Miss Crawley.

Rebecca despatched also an invitation to her darling Amelia,


you may be sure,

was ready enough to accept it when she heard that George was to be of the party.

It was arranged that Amelia was to spend the morning with the ladies of Park Lane,

where all were very kind to her.

Rebecca patronised her with calm superiority: she was so much the cleverer of the two,

and her friend so gentle and unassuming,

that she always yielded when anybody chose to command,

and so took Rebecca's orders with perfect meekness and good humour.

Miss Crawley's graciousness was also remarkable.

She continued her raptures about little Amelia,

talked about her before her face as if she were a doll,

or a servant,

or a picture,

and admired her with the most benevolent wonder possible.

I admire that admiration which the genteel world sometimes extends to the commonalty.

There is no more agreeable object in life than to see Mayfair folks condescending.

Miss Crawley's prodigious benevolence rather fatigued poor little Amelia,

and I am not sure that of the three ladies in Park Lane she did not find honest Miss Briggs the most agreeable.

She sympathised with Briggs as with all neglected or gentle people: she wasn't what you call a woman of spirit.

George came to dinner --a repast en garcon with Captain Crawley.

The great family coach of the Osbornes transported him to Park Lane from Russell Square;

where the young ladies,

who were not themselves invited,

and professed the greatest indifference at that slight,

nevertheless looked at Sir Pitt Crawley's name in the baronetage;

and learned everything which that work had to teach about the Crawley family and their pedigree,

and the Binkies,

their relatives,



Rawdon Crawley received George Osborne with great frankness and graciousness: praised his play at billiards: asked him when he would have his revenge: was interested about Osborne's regiment: and would have proposed piquet to him that very evening,

but Miss Crawley absolutely forbade any gambling in her house;

so that the young Lieutenant's purse was not lightened by his gallant patron,

for that day at least.


they made an engagement for the next,

somewhere: to look at a horse that Crawley had to sell,

and to try him in the Park;

and to dine together,

and to pass the evening with some jolly fellows.

"That is,

if you're not on duty to that pretty Miss Sedley,"

Crawley said,

with a knowing wink.

"Monstrous nice girl,

'pon my honour,



he was good enough to add.

"Lots of tin,

I suppose,


Osborne wasn't on duty;

he would join Crawley with pleasure: and the latter,

when they met the next day,

praised his new friend's horsemanship --as he might with perfect honesty --and introduced him to three or four young men of the first fashion,

whose acquaintance immensely elated the simple young officer.

"How's little Miss Sharp,


Osborne inquired of his friend over their wine,

with a dandified air.

"Good-natured little girl that.

Does she suit you well at Queen's Crawley?

Miss Sedley liked her a good deal last year."

Captain Crawley looked savagely at the Lieutenant out of his little blue eyes,

and watched him when he went up to resume his acquaintance with the fair governess.

Her conduct must have relieved Crawley if there was any jealousy in the bosom of that life-guardsman.

When the young men went upstairs,

and after Osborne's introduction to Miss Crawley,

he walked up to Rebecca with a patronising,

easy swagger.

He was going to be kind to her and protect her.

He would even shake hands with her,

as a friend of Amelia's;

and saying,


Miss Sharp!


held out his left hand towards her,

expecting that she would be quite confounded at the honour.

Miss Sharp put out her right forefinger,

and gave him a little nod,

so cool and killing,

that Rawdon Crawley,

watching the operations from the other room,

could hardly restrain his laughter as he saw the Lieutenant's entire discomfiture;

the start he gave,

the pause,

and the perfect clumsiness with which he at length condescended to take the finger which was offered for his embrace.

"She'd beat the devil,

by Jove!"

the Captain said,

in a rapture;

and the Lieutenant,

by way of beginning the conversation,

agreeably asked Rebecca how she liked her new place.

"My place?"

said Miss Sharp,


"how kind of you to remind me of it!

It's a tolerably good place: the wages are pretty good --not so good as Miss Wirt's,

I believe,

with your sisters in Russell Square.

How are those young ladies?

--not that I ought to ask."

"Why not?"

Mr. Osborne said,



they never condescended to speak to me,

or to ask me into their house,

whilst I was staying with Amelia;

but we poor governesses,

you know,

are used to slights of this sort."

"My dear Miss Sharp!"

Osborne ejaculated.

"At least in some families,"

Rebecca continued.

"You can't think what a difference there is though.

We are not so wealthy in Hampshire as you lucky folks of the City.

But then I am in a gentleman's family --good old English stock.

I suppose you know Sir Pitt's father refused a peerage.

And you see how I am treated.

I am pretty comfortable.

Indeed it is rather a good place.

But how very good of you to inquire!"

Osborne was quite savage.

The little governess patronised him and persiffled him until this young British Lion felt quite uneasy;

nor could he muster sufficient presence of mind to find a pretext for backing out of this most delectable conversation.

"I thought you liked the City families pretty well,"

he said,


"Last year you mean,

when I was fresh from that horrid vulgar school?

Of course I did.

Doesn't every girl like to come home for the holidays?

And how was I to know any better?

But oh,

Mr. Osborne,

what a difference eighteen months' experience makes!

eighteen months spent,

pardon me for saying so,

with gentlemen.

As for dear Amelia,


I grant you,

is a pearl,

and would be charming anywhere.

There now,

I see you are beginning to be in a good humour;

but oh these queer odd City people!

And Mr. Jos --how is that wonderful Mr. Joseph?"

"It seems to me you didn't dislike that wonderful Mr. Joseph last year,"

Osborne said kindly.

"How severe of you!


entre nous,

I didn't break my heart about him;

yet if he had asked me to do what you mean by your looks (and very expressive and kind they are,


I wouldn't have said no."

Mr. Osborne gave a look as much as to say,


how very obliging!"

"What an honour to have had you for a brother-in-law,

you are thinking?

To be sister-in-law to George Osborne,


son of John Osborne,


son of --what was your grandpapa,

Mr. Osborne?


don't be angry.

You can't help your pedigree,

and I quite agree with you that I would have married Mr. Joe Sedley;

for could a poor penniless girl do better?

Now you know the whole secret.

I'm frank and open;

considering all things,

it was very kind of you to allude to the circumstance --very kind and polite.

Amelia dear,

Mr. Osborne and I were talking about your poor brother Joseph.

How is he?"

Thus was George utterly routed.

Not that Rebecca was in the right;

but she had managed most successfully to put him in the wrong.

And he now shamefully fled,


if he stayed another minute,

that he would have been made to look foolish in the presence of Amelia.

Though Rebecca had had the better of him,

George was above the meanness of talebearing or revenge upon a lady --only he could not help cleverly confiding to Captain Crawley,

next day,

some notions of his regarding Miss Rebecca --that she was a sharp one,

a dangerous one,

a desperate flirt,


in all of which opinions Crawley agreed laughingly,

and with every one of which Miss Rebecca was made acquainted before twenty-four hours were over.

They added to her original regard for Mr. Osborne.

Her woman's instinct had told her that it was George who had interrupted the success of her first love-passage,

and she esteemed him accordingly.

"I only just warn you,"

he said to Rawdon Crawley,

with a knowing look --he had bought the horse,

and lost some score of guineas after dinner,

"I just warn you --I know women,

and counsel you to be on the look-out."

"Thank you,

my boy,"

said Crawley,

with a look of peculiar gratitude.

"You're wide awake,

I see."

And George went off,

thinking Crawley was quite right.

He told Amelia of what he had done,

and how he had counselled Rawdon Crawley --a devilish good,

straightforward fellow --to be on his guard against that little sly,

scheming Rebecca.

"Against whom?"

Amelia cried.

"Your friend the governess.

--Don't look so astonished."

"O George,

what have you done?"

Amelia said.

For her woman's eyes,

which Love had made sharp-sighted,

had in one instant discovered a secret which was invisible to Miss Crawley,

to poor virgin Briggs,

and above all,

to the stupid peepers of that young whiskered prig,

Lieutenant Osborne.

For as Rebecca was shawling her in an upper apartment,

where these two friends had an opportunity for a little of that secret talking and conspiring which form the delight of female life,


coming up to Rebecca,

and taking her two little hands in hers,



I see it all."

Rebecca kissed her.

And regarding this delightful secret,

not one syllable more was said by either of the young women.

But it was destined to come out before long.

Some short period after the above events,

and Miss Rebecca Sharp still remaining at her patroness's house in Park Lane,

one more hatchment might have been seen in Great Gaunt Street,

figuring amongst the many which usually ornament that dismal quarter.

It was over Sir Pitt Crawley's house;

but it did not indicate the worthy baronet's demise.

It was a feminine hatchment,

and indeed a few years back had served as a funeral compliment to Sir Pitt's old mother,

the late dowager Lady Crawley.

Its period of service over,

the hatchment had come down from the front of the house,

and lived in retirement somewhere in the back premises of Sir Pitt's mansion.

It reappeared now for poor Rose Dawson.

Sir Pitt was a widower again.

The arms quartered on the shield along with his own were not,

to be sure,

poor Rose's.

She had no arms.

But the cherubs painted on the scutcheon answered as well for her as for Sir Pitt's mother,

and Resurgam was written under the coat,

flanked by the Crawley Dove and Serpent.

Arms and Hatchments,


--Here is an opportunity for moralising!

Mr. Crawley had tended that otherwise friendless bedside.

She went out of the world strengthened by such words and comfort as he could give her.

For many years his was the only kindness she ever knew;

the only friendship that solaced in any way that feeble,

lonely soul.

Her heart was dead long before her body.

She had sold it to become Sir Pitt Crawley's wife.

Mothers and daughters are making the same bargain every day in Vanity Fair.

When the demise took place,

her husband was in London attending to some of his innumerable schemes,

and busy with his endless lawyers.

He had found time,


to call often in Park Lane,

and to despatch many notes to Rebecca,

entreating her,

enjoining her,

commanding her to return to her young pupils in the country,

who were now utterly without companionship during their mother's illness.

But Miss Crawley would not hear of her departure;

for though there was no lady of fashion in London who would desert her friends more complacently as soon as she was tired of their society,

and though few tired of them sooner,

yet as long as her engoument lasted her attachment was prodigious,

and she clung still with the greatest energy to Rebecca.

The news of Lady Crawley's death provoked no more grief or comment than might have been expected in Miss Crawley's family circle.

"I suppose I must put off my party for the 3rd,"

Miss Crawley said;

and added,

after a pause,

"I hope my brother will have the decency not to marry again."

"What a confounded rage Pitt will be in if he does,"

Rawdon remarked,

with his usual regard for his elder brother.

Rebecca said nothing.

She seemed by far the gravest and most impressed of the family.

She left the room before Rawdon went away that day;

but they met by chance below,

as he was going away after taking leave,

and had a parley together.

On the morrow,

as Rebecca was gazing from the window,

she startled Miss Crawley,

who was placidly occupied with a French novel,

by crying out in an alarmed tone,

"Here's Sir Pitt,


and the Baronet's knock followed this announcement.

"My dear,

I can't see him.

I won't see him.

Tell Bowls not at home,

or go downstairs and say I'm too ill to receive any one.

My nerves really won't bear my brother at this moment,"

cried out Miss Crawley,

and resumed the novel.

"She's too ill to see you,


Rebecca said,

tripping down to Sir Pitt,

who was preparing to ascend.

"So much the better,"

Sir Pitt answered.

"I want to see YOU,

Miss Becky.

Come along a me into the parlour,"

and they entered that apartment together.

"I wawnt you back at Queen's Crawley,


the baronet said,

fixing his eyes upon her,

and taking off his black gloves and his hat with its great crape hat-band.

His eyes had such a strange look,

and fixed upon her so steadfastly,

that Rebecca Sharp began almost to tremble.

"I hope to come soon,"

she said in a low voice,

"as soon as Miss Crawley is better --and return to --to the dear children."

"You've said so these three months,


replied Sir Pitt,

"and still you go hanging on to my sister,

who'll fling you off like an old shoe,

when she's wore you out.

I tell you I want you.

I'm going back to the Vuneral.

Will you come back?

Yes or no?"

"I daren't --I don't think --it would be right --to be alone --with you,


Becky said,

seemingly in great agitation.

"I say agin,

I want you,"

Sir Pitt said,

thumping the table.

"I can't git on without you.

I didn't see what it was till you went away.

The house all goes wrong.

It's not the same place.

All my accounts has got muddled agin.

You MUST come back.

Do come back.

Dear Becky,

do come."

"Come --as what,


Rebecca gasped out.

"Come as Lady Crawley,

if you like,"

the Baronet said,

grasping his crape hat.


will that zatusfy you?

Come back and be my wife.

Your vit vor't.

Birth be hanged.

You're as good a lady as ever I see.

You've got more brains in your little vinger than any baronet's wife in the county.

Will you come?

Yes or no?"


Sir Pitt!"

Rebecca said,

very much moved.

"Say yes,


Sir Pitt continued.

"I'm an old man,

but a good'n.

I'm good for twenty years.

I'll make you happy,

zee if I don't.

You shall do what you like;

spend what you like;


'ave it all your own way.

I'll make you a zettlement.

I'll do everything reglar.

Look year!"

and the old man fell down on his knees and leered at her like a satyr.

Rebecca started back a picture of consternation.

In the course of this history we have never seen her lose her presence of mind;

but she did now,

and wept some of the most genuine tears that ever fell from her eyes.


Sir Pitt!"

she said.


sir --I --I'm married ALREADY."


In Which Rebecca's Husband Appears for a Short Time

Every reader of a sentimental turn (and we desire no other) must have been pleased with the tableau with which the last act of our little drama concluded;

for what can be prettier than an image of Love on his knees before Beauty?

But when Love heard that awful confession from Beauty that she was married already,

he bounced up from his attitude of humility on the carpet,

uttering exclamations which caused poor little Beauty to be more frightened than she was when she made her avowal.


you're joking,"

the Baronet cried,

after the first explosion of rage and wonder.

"You're making vun of me,


Who'd ever go to marry you without a shilling to your vortune?"



Rebecca said,

in an agony of tears --her voice choking with emotion,

her handkerchief up to her ready eyes,

fainting against the mantelpiece a figure of woe fit to melt the most obdurate heart.

"O Sir Pitt,

dear Sir Pitt,

do not think me ungrateful for all your goodness to me.

It is only your generosity that has extorted my secret."

"Generosity be hanged!"

Sir Pitt roared out.

"Who is it tu,


you're married?

Where was it?"

"Let me come back with you to the country,


Let me watch over you as faithfully as ever!


don't separate me from dear Queen's Crawley!"

"The feller has left you,

has he?"

the Baronet said,


as he fancied,

to comprehend.


Becky --come back if you like.

You can't eat your cake and have it.

Any ways I made you a vair offer.

Coom back as governess --you shall have it all your own way."

She held out one hand.

She cried fit to break her heart;

her ringlets fell over her face,

and over the marble mantelpiece where she laid it.

"So the rascal ran off,


Sir Pitt said,

with a hideous attempt at consolation.

"Never mind,


I'LL take care of




it would be the pride of my life to go back to Queen's Crawley,

and take care of the children,

and of you as formerly,

when you said you were pleased with the services of your little Rebecca.

When I think of what you have just offered me,

my heart fills with gratitude indeed it does.

I can't be your wife,


let me --let me be your daughter."

Saying which,

Rebecca went down on HER knees in a most tragical way,


taking Sir Pitt's horny black hand between her own two (which were very pretty and white,

and as soft as satin),

looked up in his face with an expression of exquisite pathos and confidence,

when --when the door opened,

and Miss Crawley sailed in.

Mrs. Firkin and Miss Briggs,

who happened by chance to be at the parlour door soon after the Baronet and Rebecca entered the apartment,

had also seen accidentally,

through the keyhole,

the old gentleman prostrate before the governess,

and had heard the generous proposal which he made her.

It was scarcely out of his mouth when Mrs. Firkin and Miss Briggs had streamed up the stairs,

had rushed into the drawing-room where Miss Crawley was reading the French novel,

and had given that old lady the astounding intelligence that Sir Pitt was on his knees,

proposing to Miss Sharp.

And if you calculate the time for the above dialogue to take place --the time for Briggs and Firkin to fly to the drawing-room --the time for Miss Crawley to be astonished,

and to drop her volume of Pigault le Brun --and the time for her to come downstairs --you will see how exactly accurate this history is,

and how Miss Crawley must have appeared at the very instant when Rebecca had assumed the attitude of humility.

"It is the lady on the ground,

and not the gentleman,"

Miss Crawley said,

with a look and voice of great scorn.

"They told me that YOU were on your knees,

Sir Pitt: do kneel once more,

and let me see this pretty couple!"

"I have thanked Sir Pitt Crawley,


Rebecca said,


"and have told him that --that I never can become Lady Crawley."

"Refused him!"

Miss Crawley said,

more bewildered than ever.

Briggs and Firkin at the door opened the eyes of astonishment and the lips of wonder.

"Yes --refused,"

Rebecca continued,

with a sad,

tearful voice.

"And am I to credit my ears that you absolutely proposed to her,

Sir Pitt?"

the old lady asked.


said the Baronet,

"I did."

"And she refused you as she says?"


Sir Pitt said,

his features on a broad grin.

"It does not seem to break your heart at any rate,"

Miss Crawley remarked.

"Nawt a bit,"

answered Sir Pitt,

with a coolness and good-humour which set Miss Crawley almost mad with bewilderment.

That an old gentleman of station should fall on his knees to a penniless governess,

and burst out laughing because she refused to marry him --that a penniless governess should refuse a Baronet with four thousand a year --these were mysteries which Miss Crawley could never comprehend.

It surpassed any complications of intrigue in her favourite Pigault le Brun.

"I'm glad you think it good sport,


she continued,

groping wildly through this amazement.


said Sir Pitt.

"Who'd ha' thought it!

what a sly little devil!

what a little fox it waws!"

he muttered to himself,

chuckling with pleasure.

"Who'd have thought what?"

cries Miss Crawley,

stamping with her foot.


Miss Sharp,

are you waiting for the Prince Regent's divorce,

that you don't think our family good enough for you?"

"My attitude,"

Rebecca said,

"when you came in,


did not look as if I despised such an honour as this good --this noble man has deigned to offer me.

Do you think I have no heart?

Have you all loved me,

and been so kind to the poor orphan --deserted --girl,

and am I to feel nothing?

O my friends!

O my benefactors!

may not my love,

my life,

my duty,

try to repay the confidence you have shown me?

Do you grudge me even gratitude,

Miss Crawley?

It is too much --my heart is too full";

and she sank down in a chair so pathetically,

that most of the audience present were perfectly melted with her sadness.

"Whether you marry me or not,

you're a good little girl,


and I'm your vriend,


said Sir Pitt,

and putting on his crape-bound hat,

he walked away --greatly to Rebecca's relief;

for it was evident that her secret was unrevealed to Miss Crawley,

and she had the advantage of a brief reprieve.

Putting her handkerchief to her eyes,

and nodding away honest Briggs,

who would have followed her upstairs,

she went up to her apartment;

while Briggs and Miss Crawley,

in a high state of excitement,

remained to discuss the strange event,

and Firkin,

not less moved,

dived down into the kitchen regions,

and talked of it with all the male and female company there.

And so impressed was Mrs. Firkin with the news,

that she thought proper to write off by that very night's post,

"with her humble duty to Mrs. Bute Crawley and the family at the Rectory,

and Sir Pitt has been and proposed for to marry Miss Sharp,

wherein she has refused him,

to the wonder of all."

The two ladies in the dining-room (where worthy Miss Briggs was delighted to be admitted once more to confidential conversation with her patroness) wondered to their hearts' content at Sir Pitt's offer,

and Rebecca's refusal;

Briggs very acutely suggesting that there must have been some obstacle in the shape of a previous attachment,

otherwise no young woman in her senses would ever have refused so advantageous a proposal.

"You would have accepted it yourself,

wouldn't you,


Miss Crawley said,


"Would it not be a privilege to be Miss Crawley's sister?"

Briggs replied,

with meek evasion.


Becky would have made a good Lady Crawley,

after all,"

Miss Crawley remarked (who was mollified by the girl's refusal,

and very liberal and generous now there was no call for her sacrifices).

"She has brains in plenty (much more wit in her little finger than you have,

my poor dear Briggs,

in all your head).

Her manners are excellent,

now I have formed her.

She is a Montmorency,


and blood is something,

though I despise it for my part;

and she would have held her own amongst those pompous stupid Hampshire people much better than that unfortunate ironmonger's daughter."

Briggs coincided as usual,

and the "previous attachment" was then discussed in conjectures.

"You poor friendless creatures are always having some foolish tendre,"

Miss Crawley said.

"You yourself,

you know,

were in love with a writing-master (don't cry,

Briggs --you're always crying,

and it won't bring him to life again),

and I suppose this unfortunate Becky has been silly and sentimental too --some apothecary,

or house-steward,

or painter,

or young curate,

or something of that sort."

"Poor thing!

poor thing!"

says Briggs (who was thinking of twenty-four years back,

and that hectic young writing-master whose lock of yellow hair,

and whose letters,

beautiful in their illegibility,

she cherished in her old desk upstairs).

"Poor thing,

poor thing!"

says Briggs.

Once more she was a fresh-cheeked lass of eighteen;

she was at evening church,

and the hectic writing-master and she were quavering out of the same psalm-book.

"After such conduct on Rebecca's part,"

Miss Crawley said enthusiastically,

"our family should do something.

Find out who is the objet,


I'll set him up in a shop;

or order my portrait of him,

you know;

or speak to my cousin,

the Bishop and I'll doter Becky,

and we'll have a wedding,


and you shall make the breakfast,

and be a bridesmaid."

Briggs declared that it would be delightful,

and vowed that her dear Miss Crawley was always kind and generous,

and went up to Rebecca's bedroom to console her and prattle about the offer,

and the refusal,

and the cause thereof;

and to hint at the generous intentions of Miss Crawley,

and to find out who was the gentleman that had the mastery of Miss Sharp's heart.

Rebecca was very kind,

very affectionate and affected --responded to Briggs's offer of tenderness with grateful fervour --owned there was a secret attachment --a delicious mystery --what a pity Miss Briggs had not remained half a minute longer at the keyhole!

Rebecca might,


have told more: but five minutes after Miss Briggs's arrival in Rebecca's apartment,

Miss Crawley actually made her appearance there --an unheard-of honour --her impatience had overcome her;

she could not wait for the tardy operations of her ambassadress: so she came in person,

and ordered Briggs out of the room.

And expressing her approval of Rebecca's conduct,

she asked particulars of the interview,

and the previous transactions which had brought about the astonishing offer of Sir Pitt.

Rebecca said she had long had some notion of the partiality with which Sir Pitt honoured her (for he was in the habit of making his feelings known in a very frank and unreserved manner) but,

not to mention private reasons with which she would not for the present trouble Miss Crawley,

Sir Pitt's age,


and habits were such as to render a marriage quite impossible;

and could a woman with any feeling of self-respect and any decency listen to proposals at such a moment,

when the funeral of the lover's deceased wife had not actually taken place?


my dear,

you would never have refused him had there not been some one else in the case,"

Miss Crawley said,

coming to her point at once.

"Tell me the private reasons;

what are the private reasons?

There is some one;

who is it that has touched your heart?"

Rebecca cast down her eyes,

and owned there was.

"You have guessed right,

dear lady,"

she said,

with a sweet simple faltering voice.

"You wonder at one so poor and friendless having an attachment,

don't you?

I have never heard that poverty was any safeguard against it.

I wish it were."

"My poor dear child,"

cried Miss Crawley,

who was always quite ready to be sentimental,

"is our passion unrequited,


Are we pining in secret?

Tell me all,

and let me console you."

"I wish you could,

dear Madam,"

Rebecca said in the same tearful tone.



I need it."

And she laid her head upon Miss Crawley's shoulder and wept there so naturally that the old lady,

surprised into sympathy,

embraced her with an almost maternal kindness,

uttered many soothing protests of regard and affection for her,

vowed that she loved her as a daughter,

and would do everything in her power to serve her.

"And now who is it,

my dear?

Is it that pretty Miss Sedley's brother?

You said something about an affair with him.

I'll ask him here,

my dear.

And you shall have him: indeed you shall."

"Don't ask me now,"

Rebecca said.

"You shall know all soon.

Indeed you shall.

Dear kind Miss Crawley --dear friend,

may I say so?"

"That you may,

my child,"

the old lady replied,

kissing her.

"I can't tell you now,"

sobbed out Rebecca,

"I am very miserable.

But O!

love me always --promise you will love me always."

And in the midst of mutual tears --for the emotions of the younger woman had awakened the sympathies of the elder --this promise was solemnly given by Miss Crawley,

who left her little protege,

blessing and admiring her as a dear,




incomprehensible creature.

And now she was left alone to think over the sudden and wonderful events of the day,

and of what had been and what might have been.

What think you were the private feelings of Miss,

no (begging her pardon) of Mrs. Rebecca?


a few pages back,

the present writer claimed the privilege of peeping into Miss Amelia Sedley's bedroom,

and understanding with the omniscience of the novelist all the gentle pains and passions which were tossing upon that innocent pillow,

why should he not declare himself to be Rebecca's confidante too,

master of her secrets,

and seal-keeper of that young woman's conscience?



in the first place,

Rebecca gave way to some very sincere and touching regrets that a piece of marvellous good fortune should have been so near her,

and she actually obliged to decline it.

In this natural emotion every properly regulated mind will certainly share.

What good mother is there that would not commiserate a penniless spinster,

who might have been my lady,

and have shared four thousand a year?

What well-bred young person is there in all Vanity Fair,

who will not feel for a hard-working,


meritorious girl,

who gets such an honourable,


provoking offer,

just at the very moment when it is out of her power to accept it?

I am sure our friend Becky's disappointment deserves and will command every sympathy.

I remember one night being in the Fair myself,

at an evening party.

I observed old Miss Toady there also present,

single out for her special attentions and flattery little Mrs. Briefless,

the barrister's wife,

who is of a good family certainly,


as we all know,

is as poor as poor can be.


I asked in my own mind,

can cause this obsequiousness on the part of Miss Toady;

has Briefless got a county court,

or has his wife had a fortune left her?

Miss Toady explained presently,

with that simplicity which distinguishes all her conduct.

"You know,"

she said,

"Mrs Briefless is granddaughter of Sir John Redhand,

who is so ill at Cheltenham that he can't last six months.

Mrs. Briefless's papa succeeds;

so you see she will be a baronet's daughter."

And Toady asked Briefless and his wife to dinner the very next week.

If the mere chance of becoming a baronet's daughter can procure a lady such homage in the world,


surely we may respect the agonies of a young woman who has lost the opportunity of becoming a baronet's wife.

Who would have dreamed of Lady Crawley dying so soon?

She was one of those sickly women that might have lasted these ten years --Rebecca thought to herself,

in all the woes of repentance --and I might have been my lady!

I might have led that old man whither I would.

I might have thanked Mrs. Bute for her patronage,

and Mr. Pitt for his insufferable condescension.

I would have had the town-house newly furnished and decorated.

I would have had the handsomest carriage in London,

and a box at the opera;

and I would have been presented next season.

All this might have been;

and now --now all was doubt and mystery.

But Rebecca was a young lady of too much resolution and energy of character to permit herself much useless and unseemly sorrow for the irrevocable past;


having devoted only the proper portion of regret to it,

she wisely turned her whole attention towards the future,

which was now vastly more important to her.

And she surveyed her position,

and its hopes,


and chances.

In the first place,

she was MARRIED --that was a great fact.

Sir Pitt knew it.

She was not so much surprised into the avowal,

as induced to make it by a sudden calculation.

It must have come some day: and why not now as at a later period?

He who would have married her himself must at least be silent with regard to her marriage.

How Miss Crawley would bear the news --was the great question.

Misgivings Rebecca had;

but she remembered all Miss Crawley had said;

the old lady's avowed contempt for birth;

her daring liberal opinions;

her general romantic propensities;

her almost doting attachment to her nephew,

and her repeatedly expressed fondness for Rebecca herself.

She is so fond of him,

Rebecca thought,

that she will forgive him anything: she is so used to me that I don't think she could be comfortable without me: when the eclaircissement comes there will be a scene,

and hysterics,

and a great quarrel,

and then a great reconciliation.

At all events,

what use was there in delaying?

the die was thrown,

and now or to-morrow the issue must be the same.

And so,

resolved that Miss Crawley should have the news,

the young person debated in her mind as to the best means of conveying it to her;

and whether she should face the storm that must come,

or fly and avoid it until its first fury was blown over.

In this state of meditation she wrote the following letter:

Dearest Friend,

The great crisis which we have debated about so often is COME.

Half of my secret is known,

and I have thought and thought,

until I am quite sure that now is the time to reveal THE WHOLE OF THE MYSTERY.

Sir Pitt came to me this morning,

and made --what do you think?


Think of that!

Poor little me.

I might have been Lady Crawley.

How pleased Mrs. Bute would have been: and ma tante if I had taken precedence of her!

I might have been somebody's mamma,

instead of --O,

I tremble,

I tremble,

when I think how soon we must tell all!

Sir Pitt knows I am married,

and not knowing to whom,

is not very much displeased as yet.

Ma tante is ACTUALLY ANGRY that I should have refused him.

But she is all kindness and graciousness.

She condescends to say I would have made him a good wife;

and vows that she will be a mother to your little Rebecca.

She will be shaken when she first hears the news.

But need we fear anything beyond a momentary anger?

I think not: I AM SURE not.

She dotes upon you so (you naughty,

good-for-nothing man),

that she would pardon you ANYTHING: and,


I believe,

the next place in her heart is mine: and that she would be miserable without me.


something TELLS ME we shall conquer.

You shall leave that odious regiment: quit gaming,



and we shall all live in Park Lane,

and ma tante shall leave us all her money.

I shall try and walk to-morrow at 3 in the usual place.

If Miss B. accompanies me,

you must come to dinner,

and bring an answer,

and put it in the third volume of Porteus's Sermons.


at all events,

come to your own

R. To Miss Eliza Styles,

At Mr. Barnet's,



And I trust there is no reader of this little story who has not discernment enough to perceive that the Miss Eliza Styles (an old schoolfellow,

Rebecca said,

with whom she had resumed an active correspondence of late,

and who used to fetch these letters from the saddler's),

wore brass spurs,

and large curling mustachios,

and was indeed no other than Captain Rawdon Crawley.


The Letter on the Pincushion

How they were married is not of the slightest consequence to anybody.

What is to hinder a Captain who is a major,

and a young lady who is of age,

from purchasing a licence,

and uniting themselves at any church in this town?

Who needs to be told,

that if a woman has a will she will assuredly find a way?

--My belief is that one day,

when Miss Sharp had gone to pass the forenoon with her dear friend Miss Amelia Sedley in Russell Square,

a lady very like her might have been seen entering a church in the City,

in company with a gentleman with dyed mustachios,


after a quarter of an hour's interval,

escorted her back to the hackney-coach in waiting,

and that this was a quiet bridal party.

And who on earth,

after the daily experience we have,

can question the probability of a gentleman marrying anybody?

How many of the wise and learned have married their cooks?

Did not Lord Eldon himself,

the most prudent of men,

make a runaway match?

Were not Achilles and Ajax both in love with their servant maids?

And are we to expect a heavy dragoon with strong desires and small brains,

who had never controlled a passion in his life,

to become prudent all of a sudden,

and to refuse to pay any price for an indulgence to which he had a mind?

If people only made prudent marriages,

what a stop to population there would be!

It seems to me,

for my part,

that Mr. Rawdon's marriage was one of the honestest actions which we shall have to record in any portion of that gentleman's biography which has to do with the present history.

No one will say it is unmanly to be captivated by a woman,


being captivated,

to marry her;

and the admiration,

the delight,

the passion,

the wonder,

the unbounded confidence,

and frantic adoration with which,

by degrees,

this big warrior got to regard the little Rebecca,

were feelings which the ladies at least will pronounce were not altogether discreditable to him.

When she sang,

every note thrilled in his dull soul,

and tingled through his huge frame.

When she spoke,

he brought all the force of his brains to listen and wonder.

If she was jocular,

he used to revolve her jokes in his mind,

and explode over them half an hour afterwards in the street,

to the surprise of the groom in the tilbury by his side,

or the comrade riding with him in Rotten Row.

Her words were oracles to him,

her smallest actions marked by an infallible grace and wisdom.

"How she sings,

--how she paints,"

thought he.

"How she rode that kicking mare at Queen's Crawley!"

And he would say to her in confidential moments,

"By Jove,


you're fit to be Commander-in-Chief,

or Archbishop of Canterbury,

by Jove."

Is his case a rare one?

and don't we see every day in the world many an honest Hercules at the apron-strings of Omphale,

and great whiskered Samsons prostrate in Delilah's lap?



Becky told him that the great crisis was near,

and the time for action had arrived,

Rawdon expressed himself as ready to act under her orders,

as he would be to charge with his troop at the command of his colonel.

There was no need for him to put his letter into the third volume of Porteus.

Rebecca easily found a means to get rid of Briggs,

her companion,

and met her faithful friend in "the usual place" on the next day.

She had thought over matters at night,

and communicated to Rawdon the result of her determinations.

He agreed,

of course,

to everything;

was quite sure that it was all right: that what she proposed was best;

that Miss Crawley would infallibly relent,

or "come round,"

as he said,

after a time.

Had Rebecca's resolutions been entirely different,

he would have followed them as implicitly.

"You have head enough for both of us,


said he.

"You're sure to get us out of the scrape.

I never saw your equal,

and I've met with some clippers in my time too."

And with this simple confession of faith,

the love-stricken dragoon left her to execute his part of the project which she had formed for the pair.

It consisted simply in the hiring of quiet lodgings at Brompton,

or in the neighbourhood of the barracks,

for Captain and Mrs. Crawley.

For Rebecca had determined,

and very prudently,

we think,

to fly.

Rawdon was only too happy at her resolve;

he had been entreating her to take this measure any time for weeks past.

He pranced off to engage the lodgings with all the impetuosity of love.

He agreed to pay two guineas a week so readily,

that the landlady regretted she had asked him so little.

He ordered in a piano,

and half a nursery-house full of flowers: and a heap of good things.

As for shawls,

kid gloves,

silk stockings,

gold French watches,

bracelets and perfumery,

he sent them in with the profusion of blind love and unbounded credit.

And having relieved his mind by this outpouring of generosity,

he went and dined nervously at the club,

waiting until the great moment of his life should come.

The occurrences of the previous day;

the admirable conduct of Rebecca in refusing an offer so advantageous to her,

the secret unhappiness preying upon her,

the sweetness and silence with which she bore her affliction,

made Miss Crawley much more tender than usual.

An event of this nature,

a marriage,

or a refusal,

or a proposal,

thrills through a whole household of women,

and sets all their hysterical sympathies at work.

As an observer of human nature,

I regularly frequent St. George's,

Hanover Square,

during the genteel marriage season;

and though I have never seen the bridegroom's male friends give way to tears,

or the beadles and officiating clergy any way affected,

yet it is not at all uncommon to see women who are not in the least concerned in the operations going on --old ladies who are long past marrying,

stout middle-aged females with plenty of sons and daughters,

let alone pretty young creatures in pink bonnets,

who are on their promotion,

and may naturally take an interest in the ceremony --I say it is quite common to see the women present piping,



hiding their little faces in their little useless pocket-handkerchiefs;

and heaving,

old and young,

with emotion.

When my friend,

the fashionable John Pimlico,

married the lovely Lady Belgravia Green Parker,

the excitement was so general that even the little snuffy old pew-opener who let me into the seat was in tears.

And wherefore?

I inquired of my own soul: she was not going to be married.

Miss Crawley and Briggs in a word,

after the affair of Sir Pitt,

indulged in the utmost luxury of sentiment,

and Rebecca became an object of the most tender interest to them.

In her absence Miss Crawley solaced herself with the most sentimental of the novels in her library.

Little Sharp,

with her secret griefs,

was the heroine of the day.

That night Rebecca sang more sweetly and talked more pleasantly than she had ever been heard to do in Park Lane.

She twined herself round the heart of Miss Crawley.

She spoke lightly and laughingly of Sir Pitt's proposal,

ridiculed it as the foolish fancy of an old man;

and her eyes filled with tears,

and Briggs's heart with unutterable pangs of defeat,

as she said she desired no other lot than to remain for ever with her dear benefactress.

"My dear little creature,"

the old lady said,

"I don't intend to let you stir for years,

that you may depend upon it.

As for going back to that odious brother of mine after what has passed,

it is out of the question.

Here you stay with me and Briggs.

Briggs wants to go to see her relations very often.


you may go when you like.

But as for you,

my dear,

you must stay and take care of the old woman."

If Rawdon Crawley had been then and there present,

instead of being at the club nervously drinking claret,

the pair might have gone down on their knees before the old spinster,

avowed all,

and been forgiven in a twinkling.

But that good chance was denied to the young couple,

doubtless in order that this story might be written,

in which numbers of their wonderful adventures are narrated --adventures which could never have occurred to them if they had been housed and sheltered under the comfortable uninteresting forgiveness of Miss Crawley.

Under Mrs. Firkin's orders,

in the Park Lane establishment,

was a young woman from Hampshire,

whose business it was,

among other duties,

to knock at Miss Sharp's door with that jug of hot water which Firkin would rather have perished than have presented to the intruder.

This girl,

bred on the family estate,

had a brother in Captain Crawley's troop,

and if the truth were known,

I daresay it would come out that she was aware of certain arrangements,

which have a great deal to do with this history.

At any rate she purchased a yellow shawl,

a pair of green boots,

and a light blue hat with a red feather with three guineas which Rebecca gave her,

and as little Sharp was by no means too liberal with her money,

no doubt it was for services rendered that Betty Martin was so bribed.

On the second day after Sir Pitt Crawley's offer to Miss Sharp,

the sun rose as usual,

and at the usual hour Betty Martin,

the upstairs maid,

knocked at the door of the governess's bedchamber.

No answer was returned,

and she knocked again.

Silence was still uninterrupted;

and Betty,

with the hot water,

opened the door and entered the chamber.

The little white dimity bed was as smooth and trim as on the day previous,

when Betty's own hands had helped to make it.

Two little trunks were corded in one end of the room;

and on the table before the window --on the pincushion --the great fat pincushion lined with pink inside,

and twilled like a lady's nightcap --lay a letter.

It had been reposing there probably all night.

Betty advanced towards it on tiptoe,

as if she were afraid to awake it --looked at it,

and round the room,

with an air of great wonder and satisfaction;

took up the letter,

and grinned intensely as she turned it round and over,

and finally carried it into Miss Briggs's room below.

How could Betty tell that the letter was for Miss Briggs,

I should like to know?

All the schooling Betty had had was at Mrs. Bute Crawley's Sunday school,

and she could no more read writing than Hebrew.


Miss Briggs,"

the girl exclaimed,



something must have happened --there's nobody in Miss Sharp's room;

the bed ain't been slep in,

and she've run away,

and left this letter for you,



cries Briggs,

dropping her comb,

the thin wisp of faded hair falling over her shoulders;

"an elopement!

Miss Sharp a fugitive!


what is this?"

and she eagerly broke the neat seal,


as they say,

"devoured the contents" of the letter addressed to her.

Dear Miss Briggs [the refugee wrote],

the kindest heart in the world,

as yours is,

will pity and sympathise with me and excuse me.

With tears,

and prayers,

and blessings,

I leave the home where the poor orphan has ever met with kindness and affection.

Claims even superior to those of my benefactress call me hence.

I go to my duty --to my HUSBAND.


I am married.

My husband COMMANDS me to seek the HUMBLE HOME which we call ours.

Dearest Miss Briggs,

break the news as your delicate sympathy will know how to do it --to my dear,

my beloved friend and benefactress.

Tell her,

ere I went,

I shed tears on her dear pillow --that pillow that I have so often soothed in sickness --that I long AGAIN to watch --Oh,

with what joy shall I return to dear Park Lane!

How I tremble for the answer which is to SEAL MY FATE!

When Sir Pitt deigned to offer me his hand,

an honour of which my beloved Miss Crawley said I was DESERVING (my blessings go with her for judging the poor orphan worthy to be HER SISTER!) I told Sir Pitt that I was already A WIFE.

Even he forgave me.

But my courage failed me,

when I should have told him all --that I could not be his wife,


I am wedded to the best and most generous of men --Miss Crawley's Rawdon is MY Rawdon.

At his COMMAND I open my lips,

and follow him to our humble home,



my excellent and kind friend,

intercede with my Rawdon's beloved aunt for him and the poor girl to whom all HIS NOBLE RACE have shown such UNPARALLELED AFFECTION.

Ask Miss Crawley to receive HER CHILDREN.

I can say no more,

but blessings,

blessings on all in the dear house I leave,


Your affectionate and GRATEFUL Rebecca Crawley.


Just as Briggs had finished reading this affecting and interesting document,

which reinstated her in her position as first confidante of Miss Crawley,

Mrs. Firkin entered the room.

"Here's Mrs. Bute Crawley just arrived by the mail from Hampshire,

and wants some tea;

will you come down and make breakfast,


And to the surprise of Firkin,

clasping her dressing-gown around her,

the wisp of hair floating dishevelled behind her,

the little curl-papers still sticking in bunches round her forehead,

Briggs sailed down to Mrs. Bute with the letter in her hand containing the wonderful news.


Mrs. Firkin,"

gasped Betty,

"sech a business.

Miss Sharp have a gone and run away with the Capting,

and they're off to Gretney Green!"

We would devote a chapter to describe the emotions of Mrs. Firkin,

did not the passions of her mistresses occupy our genteeler muse.

When Mrs. Bute Crawley,

numbed with midnight travelling,

and warming herself at the newly crackling parlour fire,

heard from Miss Briggs the intelligence of the clandestine marriage,

she declared it was quite providential that she should have arrived at such a time to assist poor dear Miss Crawley in supporting the shock --that Rebecca was an artful little hussy of whom she had always had her suspicions;

and that as for Rawdon Crawley,

she never could account for his aunt's infatuation regarding him,

and had long considered him a profligate,


and abandoned being.

And this awful conduct,

Mrs. Bute said,

will have at least this good effect,

it will open poor dear Miss Crawley's eyes to the real character of this wicked man.

Then Mrs. Bute had a comfortable hot toast and tea;

and as there was a vacant room in the house now,

there was no need for her to remain at the Gloster Coffee House where the Portsmouth mail had set her down,

and whence she ordered Mr. Bowls's aide-de-camp the footman to bring away her trunks.

Miss Crawley,

be it known,

did not leave her room until near noon --taking chocolate in bed in the morning,

while Becky Sharp read the Morning Post to her,

or otherwise amusing herself or dawdling.

The conspirators below agreed that they would spare the dear lady's feelings until she appeared in her drawing-room: meanwhile it was announced to her that Mrs. Bute Crawley had come up from Hampshire by the mail,

was staying at the Gloster,

sent her love to Miss Crawley,

and asked for breakfast with Miss Briggs.

The arrival of Mrs. Bute,

which would not have caused any extreme delight at another period,

was hailed with pleasure now;

Miss Crawley being pleased at the notion of a gossip with her sister-in-law regarding the late Lady Crawley,

the funeral arrangements pending,

and Sir Pitt's abrupt proposal to Rebecca.

It was not until the old lady was fairly ensconced in her usual arm-chair in the drawing-room,

and the preliminary embraces and inquiries had taken place between the ladies,

that the conspirators thought it advisable to submit her to the operation.

Who has not admired the artifices and delicate approaches with which women "prepare" their friends for bad news?

Miss Crawley's two friends made such an apparatus of mystery before they broke the intelligence to her,

that they worked her up to the necessary degree of doubt and alarm.

"And she refused Sir Pitt,

my dear,

dear Miss Crawley,

prepare yourself for it,"

Mrs. Bute said,

"because --because she couldn't help herself."

"Of course there was a reason,"

Miss Crawley answered.

"She liked somebody else.

I told Briggs so yesterday."

"LIKES somebody else!"

Briggs gasped.

"O my dear friend,

she is married already."

"Married already,"

Mrs. Bute chimed in;

and both sate with clasped hands looking from each other at their victim.

"Send her to me,

the instant she comes in.

The little sly wretch: how dared she not tell me?"

cried out Miss Crawley.

"She won't come in soon.

Prepare yourself,

dear friend --she's gone out for a long time --she's --she's gone altogether."

"Gracious goodness,

and who's to make my chocolate?

Send for her and have her back;

I desire that she come back,"

the old lady said.

"She decamped last night,


cried Mrs. Bute.

"She left a letter for me,"

Briggs exclaimed.

"She's married to --"

"Prepare her,

for heaven's sake.

Don't torture her,

my dear Miss Briggs."

"She's married to whom?"

cries the spinster in a nervous fury.

"To --to a relation of --"

"She refused Sir Pitt,"

cried the victim.

"Speak at once.

Don't drive me mad."

"O Ma'am --prepare her,

Miss Briggs --she's married to Rawdon Crawley."

"Rawdon married Rebecca --governess --nobod -- Get out of my house,

you fool,

you idiot --you stupid old Briggs --how dare you?

You're in the plot --you made him marry,

thinking that I'd leave my money from him --you did,


the poor old lady screamed in hysteric sentences.



ask a member of this family to marry a drawing-master's daughter?"

"Her mother was a Montmorency,"

cried out the old lady,

pulling at the bell with all her might.

"Her mother was an opera girl,

and she has been on the stage or worse herself,"

said Mrs. Bute.

Miss Crawley gave a final scream,

and fell back in a faint.

They were forced to take her back to the room which she had just quitted.

One fit of hysterics succeeded another.

The doctor was sent for --the apothecary arrived.

Mrs. Bute took up the post of nurse by her bedside.

"Her relations ought to be round about her,"

that amiable woman said.

She had scarcely been carried up to her room,

when a new person arrived to whom it was also necessary to break the news.

This was Sir Pitt.

"Where's Becky?"

he said,

coming in.

"Where's her traps?

She's coming with me to Queen's Crawley."

"Have you not heard the astonishing intelligence regarding her surreptitious union?"

Briggs asked.

"What's that to me?"

Sir Pitt asked.

"I know she's married.

That makes no odds.

Tell her to come down at once,

and not keep me."

"Are you not aware,


Miss Briggs asked,

"that she has left our roof,

to the dismay of Miss Crawley,

who is nearly killed by the intelligence of Captain Rawdon's union with her?"

When Sir Pitt Crawley heard that Rebecca was married to his son,

he broke out into a fury of language,

which it would do no good to repeat in this place,

as indeed it sent poor Briggs shuddering out of the room;

and with her we will shut the door upon the figure of the frenzied old man,

wild with hatred and insane with baffled desire.

One day after he went to Queen's Crawley,

he burst like a madman into the room she had used when there --dashed open her boxes with his foot,

and flung about her papers,


and other relics.

Miss Horrocks,

the butler's daughter,

took some of them.

The children dressed themselves and acted plays in the others.

It was but a few days after the poor mother had gone to her lonely burying-place;

and was laid,

unwept and disregarded,

in a vault full of strangers.

"Suppose the old lady doesn't come to,"

Rawdon said to his little wife,

as they sate together in the snug little Brompton lodgings.

She had been trying the new piano all the morning.

The new gloves fitted her to a nicety;

the new shawls became her wonderfully;

the new rings glittered on her little hands,

and the new watch ticked at her waist;

"suppose she don't come round,



"I'LL make your fortune,"

she said;

and Delilah patted Samson's cheek.

"You can do anything,"

he said,

kissing the little hand.

"By Jove you can;

and we'll drive down to the Star and Garter,

and dine,

by Jove."


How Captain Dobbin Bought a Piano

If there is any exhibition in all Vanity Fair which Satire and Sentiment can visit arm in arm together;

where you light on the strangest contrasts laughable and tearful: where you may be gentle and pathetic,

or savage and cynical with perfect propriety: it is at one of those public assemblies,

a crowd of which are advertised every day in the last page of the Times newspaper,

and over which the late Mr. George Robins used to preside with so much dignity.

There are very few London people,

as I fancy,

who have not attended at these meetings,

and all with a taste for moralizing must have thought,

with a sensation and interest not a little startling and queer,

of the day when their turn shall come too,

and Mr. Hammerdown will sell by the orders of Diogenes' assignees,

or will be instructed by the executors,

to offer to public competition,

the library,




and choice cellar of wines of Epicurus deceased.

Even with the most selfish disposition,

the Vanity Fairian,

as he witnesses this sordid part of the obsequies of a departed friend,

can't but feel some sympathies and regret.

My Lord Dives's remains are in the family vault: the statuaries are cutting an inscription veraciously commemorating his virtues,

and the sorrows of his heir,

who is disposing of his goods.

What guest at Dives's table can pass the familiar house without a sigh?

--the familiar house of which the lights used to shine so cheerfully at seven o'clock,

of which the hall-doors opened so readily,

of which the obsequious servants,

as you passed up the comfortable stair,

sounded your name from landing to landing,

until it reached the apartment where jolly old Dives welcomed his friends!

What a number of them he had;

and what a noble way of entertaining them.

How witty people used to be here who were morose when they got out of the door;

and how courteous and friendly men who slandered and hated each other everywhere else!

He was pompous,

but with such a cook what would one not swallow?

he was rather dull,


but would not such wine make any conversation pleasant?

We must get some of his Burgundy at any price,

the mourners cry at his club.

"I got this box at old Dives's sale,"

Pincher says,

handing it round,

"one of Louis XV's mistresses --pretty thing,

is it not?

--sweet miniature,"

and they talk of the way in which young Dives is dissipating his fortune.

How changed the house is,


The front is patched over with bills,

setting forth the particulars of the furniture in staring capitals.

They have hung a shred of carpet out of an upstairs window --a half dozen of porters are lounging on the dirty steps --the hall swarms with dingy guests of oriental countenance,

who thrust printed cards into your hand,

and offer to bid.

Old women and amateurs have invaded the upper apartments,

pinching the bed-curtains,

poking into the feathers,

shampooing the mattresses,

and clapping the wardrobe drawers to and fro.

Enterprising young housekeepers are measuring the looking-glasses and hangings to see if they will suit the new menage (Snob will brag for years that he has purchased this or that at Dives's sale),

and Mr. Hammerdown is sitting on the great mahogany dining-tables,

in the dining-room below,

waving the ivory hammer,

and employing all the artifices of eloquence,





shouting to his people;

satirizing Mr. Davids for his sluggishness;

inspiriting Mr. Moss into action;




until down comes the hammer like fate,

and we pass to the next lot.

O Dives,

who would ever have thought,

as we sat round the broad table sparkling with plate and spotless linen,

to have seen such a dish at the head of it as that roaring auctioneer?

It was rather late in the sale.

The excellent drawing-room furniture by the best makers;

the rare and famous wines selected,

regardless of cost,

and with the well-known taste of the purchaser;

the rich and complete set of family plate had been sold on the previous days.

Certain of the best wines (which all had a great character among amateurs in the neighbourhood) had been purchased for his master,

who knew them very well,

by the butler of our friend John Osborne,


of Russell Square.

A small portion of the most useful articles of the plate had been bought by some young stockbrokers from the City.

And now the public being invited to the purchase of minor objects,

it happened that the orator on the table was expatiating on the merits of a picture,

which he sought to recommend to his audience: it was by no means so select or numerous a company as had attended the previous days of the auction.

"No. 369,"

roared Mr. Hammerdown.

"Portrait of a gentleman on an elephant.

Who'll bid for the gentleman on the elephant?

Lift up the picture,


and let the company examine this lot."

A long,


military-looking gentleman,

seated demurely at the mahogany table,

could not help grinning as this valuable lot was shown by Mr. Blowman.

"Turn the elephant to the Captain,


What shall we say,


for the elephant?"

but the Captain,

blushing in a very hurried and discomfited manner,

turned away his head.

"Shall we say twenty guineas for this work of art?



name your own price.

The gentleman without the elephant is worth five pound."

"I wonder it ain't come down with him,"

said a professional wag,

"he's anyhow a precious big one";

at which (for the elephant-rider was represented as of a very stout figure) there was a general giggle in the room.

"Don't be trying to deprecate the value of the lot,

Mr. Moss,"

Mr. Hammerdown said;

"let the company examine it as a work of art --the attitude of the gallant animal quite according to natur';

the gentleman in a nankeen jacket,

his gun in his hand,

is going to the chase;

in the distance a banyhann tree and a pagody,

most likely resemblances of some interesting spot in our famous Eastern possessions.

How much for this lot?



don't keep me here all day."

Some one bid five shillings,

at which the military gentleman looked towards the quarter from which this splendid offer had come,

and there saw another officer with a young lady on his arm,

who both appeared to be highly amused with the scene,

and to whom,


this lot was knocked down for half a guinea.

He at the table looked more surprised and discomposed than ever when he spied this pair,

and his head sank into his military collar,

and he turned his back upon them,

so as to avoid them altogether.

Of all the other articles which Mr. Hammerdown had the honour to offer for public competition that day it is not our purpose to make mention,

save of one only,

a little square piano,

which came down from the upper regions of the house (the state grand piano having been disposed of previously);

this the young lady tried with a rapid and skilful hand (making the officer blush and start again),

and for it,

when its turn came,

her agent began to bid.

But there was an opposition here.

The Hebrew aide-de-camp in the service of the officer at the table bid against the Hebrew gentleman employed by the elephant purchasers,

and a brisk battle ensued over this little piano,

the combatants being greatly encouraged by Mr. Hammerdown.

At last,

when the competition had been prolonged for some time,

the elephant captain and lady desisted from the race;

and the hammer coming down,

the auctioneer said: --"Mr. Lewis,


and Mr. Lewis's chief thus became the proprietor of the little square piano.

Having effected the purchase,

he sate up as if he was greatly relieved,

and the unsuccessful competitors catching a glimpse of him at this moment,

the lady said to her friend,



it's Captain Dobbin."

I suppose Becky was discontented with the new piano her husband had hired for her,

or perhaps the proprietors of that instrument had fetched it away,

declining farther credit,

or perhaps she had a particular attachment for the one which she had just tried to purchase,

recollecting it in old days,

when she used to play upon it,

in the little sitting-room of our dear Amelia Sedley.

The sale was at the old house in Russell Square,

where we passed some evenings together at the beginning of this story.

Good old John Sedley was a ruined man.

His name had been proclaimed as a defaulter on the Stock Exchange,

and his bankruptcy and commercial extermination had followed.

Mr. Osborne's butler came to buy some of the famous port wine to transfer to the cellars over the way.

As for one dozen well-manufactured silver spoons and forks at per oz.,

and one dozen dessert ditto ditto,

there were three young stockbrokers (Messrs.



and Dale,

of Threadneedle Street,



having had dealings with the old man,

and kindnesses from him in days when he was kind to everybody with whom he dealt,

sent this little spar out of the wreck with their love to good Mrs. Sedley;

and with respect to the piano,

as it had been Amelia's,

and as she might miss it and want one now,

and as Captain William Dobbin could no more play upon it than he could dance on the tight rope,

it is probable that he did not purchase the instrument for his own use.

In a word,

it arrived that evening at a wonderful small cottage in a street leading from the Fulham Road --one of those streets which have the finest romantic names --(this was called St. Adelaide Villas,

Anna-Maria Road West),

where the houses look like baby-houses;

where the people,

looking out of the first-floor windows,

must infallibly,

as you think,

sit with their feet in the parlours;

where the shrubs in the little gardens in front bloom with a perennial display of little children's pinafores,

little red socks,



(polyandria polygynia);

whence you hear the sound of jingling spinets and women singing;

where little porter pots hang on the railings sunning themselves;

whither of evenings you see City clerks padding wearily: here it was that Mr. Clapp,

the clerk of Mr. Sedley,

had his domicile,

and in this asylum the good old gentleman hid his head with his wife and daughter when the crash came.

Jos Sedley had acted as a man of his disposition would,

when the announcement of the family misfortune reached him.

He did not come to London,

but he wrote to his mother to draw upon his agents for whatever money was wanted,

so that his kind broken-spirited old parents had no present poverty to fear.

This done,

Jos went on at the boarding-house at Cheltenham pretty much as before.

He drove his curricle;

he drank his claret;

he played his rubber;

he told his Indian stories,

and the Irish widow consoled and flattered him as usual.

His present of money,

needful as it was,

made little impression on his parents;

and I have heard Amelia say that the first day on which she saw her father lift up his head after the failure was on the receipt of the packet of forks and spoons with the young stockbrokers' love,

over which he burst out crying like a child,

being greatly more affected than even his wife,

to whom the present was addressed.

Edward Dale,

the junior of the house,

who purchased the spoons for the firm,


in fact,

very sweet upon Amelia,

and offered for her in spite of all.

He married Miss Louisa Cutts (daughter of Higham and Cutts,

the eminent cornfactors) with a handsome fortune in 1820;

and is now living in splendour,

and with a numerous family,

at his elegant villa,

Muswell Hill.

But we must not let the recollections of this good fellow cause us to diverge from the principal history.

I hope the reader has much too good an opinion of Captain and Mrs. Crawley to suppose that they ever would have dreamed of paying a visit to so remote a district as Bloomsbury,

if they thought the family whom they proposed to honour with a visit were not merely out of fashion,

but out of money,

and could be serviceable to them in no possible manner.

Rebecca was entirely surprised at the sight of the comfortable old house where she had met with no small kindness,

ransacked by brokers and bargainers,

and its quiet family treasures given up to public desecration and plunder.

A month after her flight,

she had bethought her of Amelia,

and Rawdon,

with a horse-laugh,

had expressed a perfect willingness to see young George Osborne again.

"He's a very agreeable acquaintance,


the wag added.

"I'd like to sell him another horse,


I'd like to play a few more games at billiards with him.

He'd be what I call useful just now,

Mrs. C. --ha,


by which sort of speech it is not to be supposed that Rawdon Crawley had a deliberate desire to cheat Mr. Osborne at play,

but only wished to take that fair advantage of him which almost every sporting gentleman in Vanity Fair considers to be his due from his neighbour.

The old aunt was long in "coming-to."

A month had elapsed.

Rawdon was denied the door by Mr. Bowls;

his servants could not get a lodgment in the house at Park Lane;

his letters were sent back unopened.

Miss Crawley never stirred out --she was unwell --and Mrs. Bute remained still and never left her.

Crawley and his wife both of them augured evil from the continued presence of Mrs. Bute.


I begin to perceive now why she was always bringing us together at Queen's Crawley,"

Rawdon said.

"What an artful little woman!"

ejaculated Rebecca.


I don't regret it,

if you don't,"

the Captain cried,

still in an amorous rapture with his wife,

who rewarded him with a kiss by way of reply,

and was indeed not a little gratified by the generous confidence of her husband.

"If he had but a little more brains,"

she thought to herself,

"I might make something of him";

but she never let him perceive the opinion she had of him;

listened with indefatigable complacency to his stories of the stable and the mess;

laughed at all his jokes;

felt the greatest interest in Jack Spatterdash,

whose cab-horse had come down,

and Bob Martingale,

who had been taken up in a gambling-house,

and Tom Cinqbars,

who was going to ride the steeplechase.

When he came home she was alert and happy: when he went out she pressed him to go: when he stayed at home,

she played and sang for him,

made him good drinks,

superintended his dinner,

warmed his slippers,

and steeped his soul in comfort.

The best of women (I have heard my grandmother say) are hypocrites.

We don't know how much they hide from us: how watchful they are when they seem most artless and confidential: how often those frank smiles which they wear so easily,

are traps to cajole or elude or disarm --I don't mean in your mere coquettes,

but your domestic models,

and paragons of female virtue.

Who has not seen a woman hide the dulness of a stupid husband,

or coax the fury of a savage one?

We accept this amiable slavishness,

and praise a woman for it: we call this pretty treachery truth.

A good housewife is of necessity a humbug;

and Cornelia's husband was hoodwinked,

as Potiphar was --only in a different way.

By these attentions,

that veteran rake,

Rawdon Crawley,

found himself converted into a very happy and submissive married man.

His former haunts knew him not.

They asked about him once or twice at his clubs,

but did not miss him much: in those booths of Vanity Fair people seldom do miss each other.

His secluded wife ever smiling and cheerful,

his little comfortable lodgings,

snug meals,

and homely evenings,

had all the charms of novelty and secrecy.

The marriage was not yet declared to the world,

or published in the Morning Post.

All his creditors would have come rushing on him in a body,

had they known that he was united to a woman without fortune.

"My relations won't cry fie upon me,"

Becky said,

with rather a bitter laugh;

and she was quite contented to wait until the old aunt should be reconciled,

before she claimed her place in society.

So she lived at Brompton,

and meanwhile saw no one,

or only those few of her husband's male companions who were admitted into her little dining-room.

These were all charmed with her.

The little dinners,

the laughing and chatting,

the music afterwards,

delighted all who participated in these enjoyments.

Major Martingale never thought about asking to see the marriage licence,

Captain Cinqbars was perfectly enchanted with her skill in making punch.

And young Lieutenant Spatterdash (who was fond of piquet,

and whom Crawley would often invite) was evidently and quickly smitten by Mrs. Crawley;

but her own circumspection and modesty never forsook her for a moment,

and Crawley's reputation as a fire-eating and jealous warrior was a further and complete defence to his little wife.

There are gentlemen of very good blood and fashion in this city,

who never have entered a lady's drawing-room;

so that though Rawdon Crawley's marriage might be talked about in his county,


of course,

Mrs. Bute had spread the news,

in London it was doubted,

or not heeded,

or not talked about at all.

He lived comfortably on credit.

He had a large capital of debts,

which laid out judiciously,

will carry a man along for many years,

and on which certain men about town contrive to live a hundred times better than even men with ready money can do.

Indeed who is there that walks London streets,

but can point out a half-dozen of men riding by him splendidly,

while he is on foot,

courted by fashion,

bowed into their carriages by tradesmen,

denying themselves nothing,

and living on who knows what?

We see Jack Thriftless prancing in the park,

or darting in his brougham down Pall Mall: we eat his dinners served on his miraculous plate.

"How did this begin,"

we say,

"or where will it end?"

"My dear fellow,"

I heard Jack once say,

"I owe money in every capital in Europe."

The end must come some day,

but in the meantime Jack thrives as much as ever;

people are glad enough to shake him by the hand,

ignore the little dark stories that are whispered every now and then against him,

and pronounce him a good-natured,


reckless fellow.

Truth obliges us to confess that Rebecca had married a gentleman of this order.

Everything was plentiful in his house but ready money,

of which their menage pretty early felt the want;

and reading the Gazette one day,

and coming upon the announcement of "Lieutenant G. Osborne to be Captain by purchase,

vice Smith,

who exchanges,"

Rawdon uttered that sentiment regarding Amelia's lover,

which ended in the visit to Russell Square.

When Rawdon and his wife wished to communicate with Captain Dobbin at the sale,

and to know particulars of the catastrophe which had befallen Rebecca's old acquaintances,

the Captain had vanished;

and such information as they got was from a stray porter or broker at the auction.

"Look at them with their hooked beaks,"

Becky said,

getting into the buggy,

her picture under her arm,

in great glee.

"They're like vultures after a battle."

"Don't know.

Never was in action,

my dear.

Ask Martingale;

he was in Spain,

aide-de-camp to General Blazes."

"He was a very kind old man,

Mr. Sedley,"

Rebecca said;

"I'm really sorry he's gone wrong."

"O stockbrokers --bankrupts --used to it,

you know,"

Rawdon replied,

cutting a fly off the horse's ear.

"I wish we could have afforded some of the plate,


the wife continued sentimentally.

"Five-and-twenty guineas was monstrously dear for that little piano.

We chose it at Broadwood's for Amelia,

when she came from school.

It only cost five-and-thirty then."

"What-d'-ye-call'em --'Osborne,'

will cry off now,

I suppose,

since the family is smashed.

How cut up your pretty little friend will be;



"I daresay she'll recover it,"

Becky said with a smile --and they drove on and talked about something else.