this boaster of low intrigues, that I had given my heart away."
"He breaks the most sacred laws," thought Helen. "He
prefers the creature of his passion to his own mother; and
when he is upbraided , he laughs , and glories in his crime.
'She gave me her all,' I heard him say it," argued the poor
widow; "and he boasts of it, and laughs, and breaks his
mother's heart." The emotion, the shame, the grief, the
mortification almost killed her. She felt she should die of his
Warrington thought of Laura's speech ā "Perhaps that is
what you wished." "She loves Pen still," he said. "It was
jealousy made her speak." ā "Come away, Pen. Come
away , and let us go to church and get calm. You must explain
this matter to your mother. She does not appear to know the
truth: nor do you quite, my good fellow. Come away, and
let us talk about it." And again he muttered to himself,
"'Perhaps that is what you wished.' Yes, she loves him.
Why shouldn't she love him? Whom else would I have her
love? What can she be to me but the dearest and the fairest
and the best of women?"
So , leaving the women similarly engaged within , the two
gentlemen walked away, each occupied with his own thoughts,
and silent for a considerable space. "I must set this matter
right," thought honest George, "as she loves him still ā I
must set his mind right about the other woman." And with
this charitable thought, the good fellow began to tell more at
large what Bows had said to him regarding Miss Bolton's be-
haviour and fickleness, and he described how the girl was no
better than a little light-minded flirt; and, perhaps, he ex-
aggerated the good humour and contentedness which he had
himself, as he thought, witnessed in her behaviour in the
scene with Mr. Huxter.
Now, all Bows's statements had been coloured by an in-
sane jealousy and rage on that old man's part; and instead of
allaying Pen's renascent desire to see his little conquest again,
Warrington's accounts inflamed and angered Pendennls, and
made him more anxious than before to set himself right, as he
persisted in phrasing it, with Fanny. They arrived at the
church-door presently; but scarce one word of the service,
and not a syllable of Mr. Shamble's sermon, did either of
them comprehend, probably ā so much was each engaged
with his own private speculations. The Major came up to them
after the service, with his well-brushed hat and wig, and his
jauntiest, most cheerful, air. He complimented them upon
being seen at church ; again he said that every comme-il-Jaut
person made a point of attending the English service abroad;
and he walked back with the young men, prattling to them in
garrulous good-humour, and making bows to his acquaint-
ances as they passed; and thinking innocently that Pen and
George were both highly delighted by his anecdotes, which
they suffered to run on in a scornful and silent acquiescence.
At the time of Mr. Shamble's sermon (an erratic Anglican
divine, hired for the season at places of English resort, and
addicted to debts, drinking, and even to roulette, it was
said). Pen, chafing under the persecution which his woman-
kind inflicted upon him, had been meditating a great act of
revolt and of justice, as he had worked himself up to believe ;
and Warrington on his part had been thinking that a crisis in
his affairs had likewise come, and that it was necessary for him
to break away from a connexion which every day made more
and more wretched and dear to him. Yes, the time was come.
He took those fatal words, "Perhaps that is what you wished,"
as a text for a gloomy homily, which he preached to himself,
in the dark pew of his own heart, whilst Mr. Shamble was
feebly giving utterance to his sermon.
"Fairoaks to let."
Our poor widow (with the assistance of her faithful Martha
of Fairoaks, who laughed and wondered at the German ways,
and superintended the affairs of the simple household) had
made a little feast inhonour of Major Pen dennis's arrival, of
which, however, only the Major and his two younger friends
partook, for Helen sent to say that she was too unwell to dine
at their table, and Laura bore her company. The Major
talked for the party , and did not perceive, or choose to per-
ceive, what a gloom and silence pervaded the other two
sharers of the modest dinner. It was evening before Helen
and Laura came into the sitting-room to join the company
there. She came in leaning on Laura, with her back to the
waning light, so that Arthur could not see how pallid and
woe-stricken her face was, and as she went up to Pen, whom
she had not seen during the day, and placed her fond arms on
his shoulder and kissed him tenderly, Laura left her, and
moved away to another part of the room. Pen remarked that
his mother's voice and her whole frame trembled, her hand
was clammy cold as she put it up to his forehead, piteously
embracing him. The spectacle of her misery only added,
somehow, to the wrath and testiness of the young man. He
scarcely returned the kiss which the suffering lady gave him :
and the countenance with which he met the appeal of her look
was hard and cruel. "She persecutes me," he thought
within himself, "and she comes to mo with the air of a
martyr." "Youlook very ill, my child," she said. "I don't
like to see you look in that way." And she tottered to a sofa.
still holding one of his passive hands in her thin cold clinging
"I have had much to annoy me, mother," Pen said, with
a throbbing breast: and as he spoke Helen's heart began to
beat so, that she sate almost dead and speechless with terror.
Warrington, Laura, and Major Pendennis, all remained
breathless, aware that the storm was about to break.
"I have had letters from London," Arthur continued,
"and one that has given me more pain than I ever had in my
life. It tells me that former letters of mine have been inter-
cepted and purloined away from me; ā that ā that a young
creature who has shown the greatest love and care for me, has
been most cruelly used by ā by you, mother."
"For God's sake stop," cried out Warrington. "She's ill
ā don't you see she is ill? "
"Let him go on," said the widow, faintly.
"Let him go on and kill her," said Laura, rushing up to
her mother's side. " Speak on. Sir, and see her die."
"It is you who are cruel," cried Pen, more exasperated
and more savage, because his own heart, naturally soft and
weak, revolted indignantly at the injustice of the very suffer-
ing which was laid at his door. "It is you that are cruel, who
attribute all this pain to me: it is you who are cruel with your
wicked reproaches , your wicked doubts of me, your wicked
persecutions of those who love me, ā yes, those who love me,
and who brave everything for me, and whom you despise and
trample upon because they are of lower degree than you. Shall
I tell you what I will do, ā what I am resolved to do, now that
I know what your conduct has been? ā I will go back to this
poor girl whom you turned out of my doors, and ask her to
come back and share my home with me. I '11 defy the pride
which persecutes her, and the pitiless suspicion which insults
her and me."
"Do you mean, Pen, that you ā " here the widow, with
eager eyes and out-stretched hands, was breaking out, but
Laura stopped her; "Silence, hush, dear mother," she cried,
and the widow hushed. Savagely as Pen spoke, she was only
too eager to hear what more he had to say, " Go on, Arthur,
go on, Arthur," was all she said, almost swooning away as
"By Gad, I say he shan't go on, orl won'theaifhim, by
Gad," the Major said, trembling too in his wrath. "If you
choose, Sir, after all we 've done for you, after all I 've done
for you myself, to insult your mother and disgrace yotir name,
by allying yourself with a low-bom kitchen-girl, go and do it,
by Gad, ā but let us. Ma'am, have no more to do with him.
I wash my hands of you. Sir, ā I wash my hands of you. I'm
an old fellow, ā I ain't long for this world. I come of as
ancient and honourable a family as any in England, by Gad,
and I did hope, beforel went off the hooks, by Gad, that the
fellow I'd liked, and brought up, and nursed through life,
by Jove, would do something to show me that our name ā
yes, the name of Pendennis, by Gad, was left undishonoured
behind us, but if he won't, dammy, I say, amen. By G ā ,
both my father and my brother Jack were the proudest men in
England, and I never would have thought that there would
come this disgrace to my name, ā never ā and ā and I 'm
ashamed that it 's Arthur Pendennis." The old fellow's voice
here broke off into a sob : it was a second time that Arthur had
brought tears from those wrinkled lids.
The sound of his breaking voice stayed Pen's anger in-
stantly, and he stopped pacing the room, as he had been
doing until that moment. Laura was by Helen's sofa ; and
Warrington had remained hitherto an almost silent, but not
uninterested spectator of the family storm. As the parties
were talking, it had grown almost dark; and after the lull
which succeeded the passionate outbreak of the Major,
George's deep voice, as it here broke trembling into the
twilight room , was heard with no small emotion by all.
" Will you let me tell you something about myself, my kind
friends?" he said, ā "you have been so good to me, Ma'am
ā you have been so kind to me, Laara ā I hope I may call
you so sometimes ā my dear Pen and I have been such friends
that ā that I have long wanted to tell you my story such as it
is, and would have told it to you earlier but that it is a sad one
and contains another's secret. However, it may do good for
Arthur to know it ā it is right that every one here should. It
will divert you from thinking about a subject, which, out of a
fatal misconception, has caused a great deal of pain to all of
you. May I please tell you, Mrs. Pendennis?"
"Pray speak," was all Helen said; and indeed she was not
much heeding; her mind was fall of another idea with which
Pen's words had supplied her, and she was in a terror of hope
that what he had hinted might be as she wished.
George filled himself a bumper of wine and emptied it, and
began to speak. "You all of you know how you see me," he
said, ā "a man without a desire to make an advance in the
world: careless about reputation; and living in a garret and
from hand to mouth , though I have friends and a name, and
I dare say capabilities of my own , that would serve me if I had
a mind. But mind I have none. I shall die in that garret
most likely, and alone. I nailed myself to that doom in early
life. Shall I tell you what it was that interested me about
Arthur years ago , and made me inclined towards him when
first I saw him? The men from our college at Oxbridge
brought up accounts of that early afiair with the Chatteries
actress, about whom Pen has often talked to me since; and
who, but for the Major's generalship, might have been your
daughter-in-law , Ma'am. I can't see Pen in the dark , but he
blushes, I'm sure; and I dare say Miss Bell does; and my
friend Major Pendennis, I dare say, laughs as he ought to do
ā for he won. What would have been Arthur's lot now had
he been tied at nineteen to an illiterate woman older than him-
self, with no qualities in common between them to make one a
companionfor the other, no equality, no confidence, and no
love speedily? What could he have been but most miserable?
And when he spoke just now and threatened a similar union,
be sure it was but a threat occasioned by anger, which you
must give me leave to say, Ma'am, was very natural on his
part, for after a generous and manly conduct ā let me say
who know the circumstances well ā most generous and manly
and self-denying (which is rare with him), ā he has met from
some friends of his with a most unkind suspicion, and has had
to complain of the unfair treatment of another innocent
person, towards whom he and you all are under much obli-
The widow was going to get up here, and Warrington,
seeing her attempt to rise, said, "Do I tire you, Ma'am?"
"Ono ā goon ā go on," saidHelen, delighted, and he
"I liked him, you see, because of that early history of his,
which had come to my ears in college gossip, and because
I like a man , if you will pardon me for saying so , Miss Laura,
who shows that he can have a great unreasonable attachment
for a woman. That was why we became friends ā and are all
friends here ā for always, aren't we?" he added, in a lower
voice, leaning over to her, "and Pen has been a great comfort
and companion to a lonely and unfortunate man.
"I am not complaining of my lot, you see; for no man's is
what he would have it; and up in my garret, where you left
the flowers, and with my old books and my pipe for a wife,
I am pretty contented, and only occasionally envy other men,
whose careers in life are more brilliant, or wlio can solace
their ill fortune by what Fate and my own fault has deprived
me of ā the affection of a woman or a child." Here there
came a sigh from somewhere near Warrington in the dark,
and a hand was held out in his direction, which, however,
was instantly withdrawn , for the prudery of our females is
such, that before all expression of feeling, or natural kind-
ness and regard, a woman is taught to think of herself and the
proprieties, and to be ready to blush at the very slightest
notice; and checking, as, of course, it ought, this spon-
taneous motion, modesty drew up again, kindly friendship
shrank back ashamed of itself, and Warrington resumed his
history. "My fate is such as I made it, and not lucky for me
or for others involved in it.
"I, too, had an adventure before I went to college; and
there was no one to save me as Major Pendennis saved Pen.
Pardon me. Miss Laura, if I tell this story before you. It is
as well that you all of you should hear my confession. Before
I went to college, as a boy of eighteen, I was at a private
tutor's, and there, like Arthur, I became attached, or fancied
I was attached, to a woman of a much lower degree and a
greater age than my own. You shrink from me ā "
"No I don't," Laura said, and here the hand went out
resolutely, and laid itself in Warrington's. She had divined
his story from some previous hints let fall by him, and his first
words at its commencement.
"She was a yeoman's daughter in the neighbourhood,'*
Warrington said, with rather a faltering voice, "and I
fancied ā what all young men fancy. Her parents knew who
my father was, and encouraged me, with all sorts of coarse
artifices and scoundrel flatteries , which I see now, about their
house. To do her justice, I own she never cared for me, but
was forced into what happened by the threats and compulsion
of her family. Would to God that I had not been deceived:
but in these matters we are deceived because we wish to be so,
and I thought I loved that poor woman.
"What could come of such a marriage? I found, before
long, that I was married to a boor. She could not comprehend
one subject that interested me. Her dulness palled upon me
till I grew to loathe it. And after some time of a wretched,
furtive union ā I must tell you all ā I found letters some-
where (and such letters they were!) which showed me that
her heart, such as it was, had never been mine, but had
always belonged to a person of her own degree.
"At my father's death, I paid what debts I had contracted
at college, and settled every shilling which remained to me in
an annuity upon ā upon those who bore my name, on con-
dition that they should hide themselves away, and not assume
it. They have kept that condition, as they would break it,
for more money. If I had earned fame or reputation, that
woman would have come to claim It : if I had made a name for
myself, those who had no right to It would have borne it ; and
I entered life at twenty, God help me ā hopeless and ruined
beyond remission. I was the boyish victim of vulgar cheats,
and, perhaps, it is only of late I have found out how hard ā
ah, how hard ā it Is to forgive them. I told you the moral
before. Pen; and now I have told you the fable. Beware how
you marry out of your degree. I was made for a better lot
than this, I think: but God has awarded me this one ā and
so, you see, it Is for me to look on, and see others successful
and others happy, with a heart that shall be as little bitter as
"By Gad, Sir," cried the Major, in high good humour,
"I intended you to marry Miss Laura here."
"And, by Gad, Master Shallow, I owe you a thousand
pound," Warrington said.
Pendennis, III- 1^
"How d' ye mean a thousand? it was only a poney, Sir,"
replied the Major simply, at which the other laughed.
As for Helen, she was so delighted, that she started up,
and said, "God bless you ā God for ever bless you, Mr. War-
rington;*' and kissed both his hands, and ran up to Pen , and
fell into his arms.
"Yes, dearest mother," he said as he held her to him,
and with a noble tenderness and emotion, embraced and for-
gave her. "I am innocent, and my dear, dear mother has
done me a wrong.
"Oh, yes, my child, I have wronged you, thank God, I have
wronged you!" Helen whispered. "Come away, Arthur ā
not here ā I want to ask my child to forgive me ā and ā and my
God, to forgive me; and to bless you, and love you, my son."
He led her, tottering, into her room, and closed the door,
as the three touched spectators of the reconciliation looked on
in pleased silence. Ever after, ever after, the tender accents
of that voice faltering sweetly at his ear ā the look of the
sacred eyes beaming with an affection unutterable ā the
quiver of the fond lips smiling mournfully ā were remem-
bered by the young man. And at his best moments, and at
his hours of trial and grief, and at his times of success or well
doing, the mother's face looked down upon him, and blessed
him with its gaze of pity and purity, as he saw it in that night
when she yet lingered with him; and when che seemed, ere
she quite left him, an angel, transfigured and glorified with
love ā for which love, as for the greatest of the bounties and
wonders of God's provision for us, let us kneel and thank Our
The moon had risen by this time; Arthur recollected well
afterwards how it lighted up his mother's sweet pale face.
Their talk, or his rather, for she scarcely could speak, was
more tender and confidential than it had been for years be-
fore. He was the frank and generous boy of her early days
and love. He told her the story, the mistake regarding which
had caused her so much pain ā ā¢ his struggles to fly from
temptation, and his thankfulness that he had been able to
overcome it. He never would do the girl wrong, never; or
wound his own honour or his mother's pure heart. The threat
that he would return was uttered In a moment of exasperation,
of which he repented. He never would see her again. But
his mother said yes he should; and it was she who had been
proud and culpable ā and she would like to give Fanny Bolton
something ā and she begged her dear boy's pardon for
opening the letter ā and she would write to the young girl,
if, ā if she had time. Pooi* thing ! was it not natural that she
should love her Arthur? And again she kissed him, and she
As they were talking the clock struck nine, and Helen
reminded him how, when he was a little boy, she used to go
up to his bed-room at that hour, and hear him say Our Father.
And once more, oh, once more, the young man fell down at
his mother's sacred knees, and sobbed out the prayer which
the Divine Tenderness uttered for us, and which has been
echoed for twenty ages since by millions of sinful and humbled
men. And as he spoke the last words of the supplication, the
mother's head fell down on her boy's, and her arms closed
round him, and together they repeated the words "for ever
and ever," and "Amen."
A little time after, it might have been a quarter of an hour,
Laura heard Arthur's voice calling from within, "Laura!
Laura!" She rushed into the room instantly, and found the
young man still on his knees, and holding his mother's hand.
Helen's head had sunk back and was quite pale in the moon.
Pen looked round, scared with a ghastly terror. "Help,
Laura, help ! " he said ā "she 's fainted ā she 's ā "
Laura screamed, and fell by the side of Helen. The shriek
brought Warrington and Major Pendennis and the servants to
the room. The sainted woman was dead. The last emotion of
her soul here was joy, to be henceforth un chequered and
eternal. The tender heart beat no more ; it was to have no
more pangs, no more doubts, no more griefs and trials. Its
last throb was love ; and Helen's last breath was a benediction.
The melancholy party bent their way speedily homewards,
and Helen was laid by her husband's side at Clavering, in the
old church where she had prayed so often. For a while Laura
went to stay with Dr. Portman, who read the service over his
dear sister departed, amidst his own sobs and those of the
little congregation which assembled round Helen's tomb.
There were not many who cared for her, or who spoke of her
when gone. Scarcely more than of a nun in a cloister did
people know of that pious and gentle lady. A few words
among the cottagers whom her bounty was accustomed to
relieve, a little talk from house to house at Clavering, where
this lady told how their neighbour died of a complaint in the
heart; whilst that speculated upon the amount of property
which the widow had left; and a third wondered whether
Arthur would let Fairoaks or live in It, and expected that he
would not be long getting through his property, ā this was all,
and except with one or two who cherished her , the kind soul
was forgotten by the next market day. Would you desire that
grief for you should last for a few more weeks? and does
after-life seem less solitary, provided that our names , when
we "go down Into silence," are echoing on this side of the
grave yet for a little while, and human voices are still talking
about us? She was gone, the pure soul, whom only two or
three loved and knew. The great blank she left was in Laura's
heart, to whom her love had been everything, and who had
now but to worship her memory. "I am glad that she gave me
her blessing before she went away,'* Warrington said to Pen ;
and as for Arthur, with a humble acknowledgment and wonder
at so much affection, he hardly dared to ask of Heaven to
make him worthy of it, though he felt that a saint there was
interceding for him.
All the lady's affairs were found in perfect; order, and her
little property ready for transmission to her son in trust for
whom she held it. Papers in her desk showed that she had
long been aware of the complaint, one of the heart, under
which she laboured, and knew that it would suddenly remove
her: and a prayer was found in her handwriting , asking that
her end might be, as it was , in the arms of her son.
Laura and Arthur talked over her sayings , all of which the
former most fondly remembered , to the young man's shame
somewhat, who thought how much greater her love had been
for Helen than his own. He referred himself entirely to Laura
to know what Helen would have wished should be done ; what
poor persons she would have liked to relieve; what legacies or
remembrances she would have wished to transmit. They
packed up the vase which Helen in her gratitude had destined
to Dr. Goodenough, and duly sent it to the kind Doctor; a
silver coffee-pot, which she used, was sent off to Portman:
a diamond ring, with her hair, was given with affectionate
greeting to Warrington.
It must have been a hard day for poor Laura when she
went over to Fairoaks first, and to the little room which she
had occupied, and which was hers no more, and to the
widow's own blank chamber in which those two had passed so
many beloved hours. There, of course, were the clothes in
the wardrobe, the cushion on which she prayed, the chair at
the toilette : the glass that was no more to reflect her dear
sad face. After she had been here awhile, Pen knocked and
led her down stairs to the parlour again, and made her drink
a little wine, and said, "God bless you," as she touched the
glass. "Nothing shall ever be changed in your room," he
said ā "it is always your room ā it is always my sister's room.
Shall it not be so, Laura?" and Laura said , "Yes I"
Among the widow's papers was found a packet, marked