off her afternoon dose of medicine: that afternoon Bowls opened an
independent bottle of sherry for himself and Mrs. Firkin: that
night Miss Crawley and Miss Briggs indulged in a game of piquet
instead of one of Porteus's sermons. It was as in the old nursery-
story, when the stick forgot to beat the dog, and the whole course
of events underwent a peaceful and happy revolution.
At a very early hour in the morning, twice or thrice a week, Miss
Briggs used to betake herself to a bathing-machine, and disport in
the water in a flannel gown and an oilskin cap. Rebecca, as we have
seen, was aware of this circumstance, and though she did not attempt
to storm Briggs as she had threatened, and actually dive into that
lady's presence and surprise her under the sacredness of the awning,
Mrs. Rawdon determined to attack Briggs as she came away from her
bath, refreshed and invigorated by her dip, and likely to be in good
So getting up very early the next morning, Becky brought the
telescope in their sitting-room, which faced the sea, to bear upon
the bathing-machines on the beach; saw Briggs arrive, enter her box;
and put out to sea; and was on the shore just as the nymph of whom
she came in quest stepped out of the little caravan on to the
shingles. It was a pretty picture: the beach; the bathing-women's
faces; the long line of rocks and building were blushing and bright
in the sunshine. Rebecca wore a kind, tender smile on her face, and
was holding out her pretty white hand as Briggs emerged from the
box. What could Briggs do but accept the salutation?
"Miss Sh - Mrs. Crawley," she said.
Mrs. Crawley seized her hand, pressed it to her heart, and with a
sudden impulse, flinging her arms round Briggs, kissed her
affectionately. "Dear, dear friend!" she said, with a touch of such
natural feeling, that Miss Briggs of course at once began to melt,
and even the bathing-woman was mollified.
Rebecca found no difficulty in engaging Briggs in a long, intimate,
and delightful conversation. Everything that had passed since the
morning of Becky's sudden departure from Miss Crawley's house in
Park Lane up to the present day, and Mrs. Bute's happy retreat, was
discussed and described by Briggs. All Miss Crawley's symptoms, and
the particulars of her illness and medical treatment, were narrated
by the confidante with that fulness and accuracy which women delight
in. About their complaints and their doctors do ladies ever tire of
talking to each other? Briggs did not on this occasion; nor did
Rebecca weary of listening. She was thankful, truly thankful, that
the dear kind Briggs, that the faithful, the invaluable Firkin, had
been permitted to remain with their benefactress through her
illness. Heaven bless her! though she, Rebecca, had seemed to act
undutifully towards Miss Crawley; yet was not her fault a natural
and excusable one? Could she help giving her hand to the man who had
won her heart? Briggs, the sentimental, could only turn up her eyes
to heaven at this appeal, and heave a sympathetic sigh, and think
that she, too, had given away her affections long years ago, and own
that Rebecca was no very great criminal.
"Can I ever forget her who so befriended the friendless orphan? No,
though she has cast me off," the latter said, "I shall never cease
to love her, and I would devote my life to her service. As my own
benefactress, as my beloved Rawdon's adored relative, I love and
admire Miss Crawley, dear Miss Briggs, beyond any woman in the
world, and next to her I love all those who are faithful to her. I
would never have treated Miss Crawley's faithful friends as that
odious designing Mrs. Bute has done. Rawdon, who was all heart,"
Rebecca continued, "although his outward manners might seem rough
and careless, had said a hundred times, with tears in his eyes, that
he blessed Heaven for sending his dearest Aunty two such admirable
nurses as her attached Firkin and her admirable Miss Briggs. Should
the machinations of the horrible Mrs. Bute end, as she too much
feared they would, in banishing everybody that Miss Crawley loved
from her side, and leaving that poor lady a victim to those harpies
at the Rectory, Rebecca besought her (Miss Briggs) to remember that
her own home, humble as it was, was always open to receive Briggs.
Dear friend," she exclaimed, in a transport of enthusiasm, "some
hearts can never forget benefits; all women are not Bute Crawleys!
Though why should I complain of her," Rebecca added; "though I have
been her tool and the victim to her arts, do I not owe my dearest
Rawdon to her?" And Rebecca unfolded to Briggs all Mrs. Bute's
conduct at Queen's Crawley, which, though unintelligible to her
then, was clearly enough explained by the events now - now that the
attachment had sprung up which Mrs. Bute had encouraged by a
thousand artifices - now that two innocent people had fallen into the
snares which she had laid for them, and loved and married and been
ruined through her schemes.
It was all very true. Briggs saw the stratagems as clearly as
possible. Mrs. Bute had made the match between Rawdon and Rebecca.
Yet, though the latter was a perfectly innocent victim, Miss Briggs
could not disguise from her friend her fear that Miss Crawley's
affections were hopelessly estranged from Rebecca, and that the old
lady would never forgive her nephew for making so imprudent a
On this point Rebecca had her own opinion, and still kept up a good
heart. If Miss Crawley did not forgive them at present, she might
at least relent on a future day. Even now, there was only that
puling, sickly Pitt Crawley between Rawdon and a baronetcy; and
should anything happen to the former, all would be well. At all
events, to have Mrs. Bute's designs exposed, and herself well
abused, was a satisfaction, and might be advantageous to Rawdon's
interest; and Rebecca, after an hour's chat with her recovered
friend, left her with the most tender demonstrations of regard, and
quite assured that the conversation they had had together would be
reported to Miss Crawley before many hours were over.
This interview ended, it became full time for Rebecca to return to
her inn, where all the party of the previous day were assembled at a
farewell breakfast. Rebecca took such a tender leave of Amelia as
became two women who loved each other as sisters; and having used
her handkerchief plentifully, and hung on her friend's neck as if
they were parting for ever, and waved the handkerchief (which was
quite dry, by the way) out of window, as the carriage drove off, she
came back to the breakfast table, and ate some prawns with a good
deal of appetite, considering her emotion; and while she was
munching these delicacies, explained to Rawdon what had occurred in
her morning walk between herself and Briggs. Her hopes were very
high: she made her husband share them. She generally succeeded in
making her husband share all her opinions, whether melancholy or
"You will now, if you please, my dear, sit down at the writing-table
and pen me a pretty little letter to Miss Crawley, in which you'll
say that you are a good boy, and that sort of thing." So Rawdon
sate down, and wrote off, "Brighton, Thursday," and "My dear Aunt,"
with great rapidity: but there the gallant officer's imagination
failed him. He mumbled the end of his pen, and looked up in his
wife's face. She could not help laughing at his rueful countenance,
and marching up and down the room with her hands behind her, the
little woman began to dictate a letter, which he took down.
"Before quitting the country and commencing a campaign, which very
possibly may be fatal."
"What?" said Rawdon, rather surprised, but took the humour of the
phrase, and presently wrote it down with a grin.
"Which very possibly may be fatal, I have come hither - "
"Why not say come here, Becky? Come here's grammar," the dragoon
"I have come hither," Rebecca insisted, with a stamp of her foot,
"to say farewell to my dearest and earliest friend. I beseech you
before I go, not perhaps to return, once more to let me press the
hand from which I have received nothing but kindnesses all my life."
"Kindnesses all my life," echoed Rawdon, scratching down the words,
and quite amazed at his own facility of composition.
"I ask nothing from you but that we should part not in anger. I
have the pride of my family on some points, though not on all. I
married a painter's daughter, and am not ashamed of the union."
"No, run me through the body if I am!" Rawdon ejaculated.
"You old booby," Rebecca said, pinching his ear and looking over to
see that he made no mistakes in spelling - "beseech is not spelt with
an a, and earliest is." So he altered these words, bowing to the
superior knowledge of his little Missis.
"I thought that you were aware of the progress of my attachment,"
Rebecca continued: "I knew that Mrs. Bute Crawley confirmed and
encouraged it. But I make no reproaches. I married a poor woman,
and am content to abide by what I have done. Leave your property,
dear Aunt, as you will. I shall never complain of the way in which
you dispose of it. I would have you believe that I love you for
yourself, and not for money's sake. I want to be reconciled to you
ere I leave England. Let me, let me see you before I go. A few
weeks or months hence it may be too late, and I cannot bear the
notion of quitting the country without a kind word of farewell from
"She won't recognise my style in that," said Becky. "I made the
sentences short and brisk on purpose." And this authentic missive
was despatched under cover to Miss Briggs.
Old Miss Crawley laughed when Briggs, with great mystery, handed her
over this candid and simple statement. "We may read it now Mrs.
Bute is away," she said. "Read it to me, Briggs."
When Briggs had read the epistle out, her patroness laughed more.
"Don't you see, you goose," she said to Briggs, who professed to be
much touched by the honest affection which pervaded the composition,
"don't you see that Rawdon never wrote a word of it. He never wrote
to me without asking for money in his life, and all his letters are
full of bad spelling, and dashes, and bad grammar. It is that
little serpent of a governess who rules him." They are all alike,
Miss Crawley thought in her heart. They all want me dead, and are
hankering for my money.
"I don't mind seeing Rawdon," she added, after a pause, and in a
tone of perfect indifference. "I had just as soon shake hands with
him as not. Provided there is no scene, why shouldn't we meet? I
don't mind. But human patience has its limits; and mind, my dear, I
respectfully decline to receive Mrs. Rawdon - I can't support that
quite" - and Miss Briggs was fain to be content with this half-
message of conciliation; and thought that the best method of
bringing the old lady and her nephew together, was to warn Rawdon to
be in waiting on the Cliff, when Miss Crawley went out for her air
in her chair. There they met. I don't know whether Miss Crawley
had any private feeling of regard or emotion upon seeing her old
favourite; but she held out a couple of fingers to him with as
smiling and good-humoured an air, as if they had met only the day
before. And as for Rawdon, he turned as red as scarlet, and wrung
off Briggs's hand, so great was his rapture and his confusion at the
meeting. Perhaps it was interest that moved him: or perhaps
affection: perhaps he was touched by the change which the illness
of the last weeks had wrought in his aunt.
"The old girl has always acted like a trump to me," he said to his
wife, as he narrated the interview, "and I felt, you know, rather
queer, and that sort of thing. I walked by the side of the what-
dy'e-call-'em, you know, and to her own door, where Bowls came to
help her in. And I wanted to go in very much, only - "
"YOU DIDN'T GO IN, Rawdon!" screamed his wife.
"No, my dear; I'm hanged if I wasn't afraid when it came to the
"You fool! you ought to have gone in, and never come out again,"
"Don't call me names," said the big Guardsman, sulkily. "Perhaps I
WAS a fool, Becky, but you shouldn't say so"; and he gave his wife a
look, such as his countenance could wear when angered, and such as
was not pleasant to face.
"Well, dearest, to-morrow you must be on the look-out, and go and
see her, mind, whether she asks you or no," Rebecca said, trying to
soothe her angry yoke-mate. On which he replied, that he would do
exactly as he liked, and would just thank her to keep a civil tongue
in her head - and the wounded husband went away, and passed the
forenoon at the billiard-room, sulky, silent, and suspicious.
But before the night was over he was compelled to give in, and own,
as usual, to his wife's superior prudence and foresight, by the most
melancholy confirmation of the presentiments which she had regarding
the consequences of the mistake which he had made. Miss Crawley
must have had some emotion upon seeing him and shaking hands with
him after so long a rupture. She mused upon the meeting a
considerable time. "Rawdon is getting very fat and old, Briggs,"
she said to her companion. "His nose has become red, and he is
exceedingly coarse in appearance. His marriage to that woman has
hopelessly vulgarised him. Mrs. Bute always said they drank
together; and I have no doubt they do. Yes: he smelt of gin
abominably. I remarked it. Didn't you?"
In vain Briggs interposed that Mrs. Bute spoke ill of everybody:
and, as far as a person in her humble position could judge, was an -
"An artful designing woman? Yes, so she is, and she does speak ill
of every one - but I am certain that woman has made Rawdon drink.
All those low people do - "
"He was very much affected at seeing you, ma'am," the companion
said; "and I am sure, when you remember that he is going to the
field of danger - "
"How much money has he promised you, Briggs?" the old spinster cried
out, working herself into a nervous rage - "there now, of course you
begin to cry. I hate scenes. Why am I always to be worried? Go
and cry up in your own room, and send Firkin to me - no, stop, sit
down and blow your nose, and leave off crying, and write a letter to
Captain Crawley." Poor Briggs went and placed herself obediently at
the writing-book. Its leaves were blotted all over with relics of
the firm, strong, rapid handwriting of the spinster's late
amanuensis, Mrs. Bute Crawley.
"Begin 'My dear sir,' or 'Dear sir,' that will be better, and say
you are desired by Miss Crawley - no, by Miss Crawley's medical man,
by Mr. Creamer, to state that my health is such that all strong
emotions would be dangerous in my present delicate condition - and
that I must decline any family discussions or interviews whatever.
And thank him for coming to Brighton, and so forth, and beg him not
to stay any longer on my account. And, Miss Briggs, you may add
that I wish him a bon voyage, and that if he will take the trouble
to call upon my lawyer's in Gray's Inn Square, he will find there a
communication for him. Yes, that will do; and that will make him
leave Brighton." The benevolent Briggs penned this sentence with the
"To seize upon me the very day after Mrs. Bute was gone," the old
lady prattled on; "it was too indecent. Briggs, my dear, write to
Mrs. Crawley, and say SHE needn't come back. No - she needn't - and
she shan't - and I won't be a slave in my own house - and I won't be
starved and choked with poison. They all want to kill me - all -
all" - and with this the lonely old woman burst into a scream of
The last scene of her dismal Vanity Fair comedy was fast
approaching; the tawdry lamps were going out one by one; and the
dark curtain was almost ready to descend.
That final paragraph, which referred Rawdon to Miss Crawley's
solicitor in London, and which Briggs had written so good-naturedly,
consoled the dragoon and his wife somewhat, after their first blank
disappointment, on reading the spinster's refusal of a
reconciliation. And it effected the purpose for which the old lady
had caused it to be written, by making Rawdon very eager to get to
Out of Jos's losings and George Osborne's bank-notes, he paid his
bill at the inn, the landlord whereof does not probably know to this
day how doubtfully his account once stood. For, as a general sends
his baggage to the rear before an action, Rebecca had wisely packed
up all their chief valuables and sent them off under care of
George's servant, who went in charge of the trunks on the coach back
to London. Rawdon and his wife returned by the same conveyance next
"I should have liked to see the old girl before we went," Rawdon
said. "She looks so cut up and altered that I'm sure she can't last
long. I wonder what sort of a cheque I shall have at Waxy's. Two
hundred - it can't be less than two hundred - hey, Becky?"
In consequence of the repeated visits of the aides-de-camp of the
Sheriff of Middlesex, Rawdon and his wife did not go back to their
lodgings at Brompton, but put up at an inn. Early the next morning,
Rebecca had an opportunity of seeing them as she skirted that suburb
on her road to old Mrs. Sedley's house at Fulham, whither she went
to look for her dear Amelia and her Brighton friends. They were all
off to Chatham, thence to Harwich, to take shipping for Belgium with
the regiment - kind old Mrs. Sedley very much depressed and tearful,
solitary. Returning from this visit, Rebecca found her husband, who
had been off to Gray's Inn, and learnt his fate. He came back
"By Jove, Becky," says he, "she's only given me twenty pound!"
Though it told against themselves, the joke was too good, and Becky
burst out laughing at Rawdon's discomfiture.
Between London and Chatham
On quitting Brighton, our friend George, as became a person of rank
and fashion travelling in a barouche with four horses, drove in
state to a fine hotel in Cavendish Square, where a suite of splendid
rooms, and a table magnificently furnished with plate and surrounded
by a half-dozen of black and silent waiters, was ready to receive
the young gentleman and his bride. George did the honours of the
place with a princely air to Jos and Dobbin; and Amelia, for the
first time, and with exceeding shyness and timidity, presided at
what George called her own table.
George pooh-poohed the wine and bullied the waiters royally, and Jos
gobbled the turtle with immense satisfaction. Dobbin helped him to
it; for the lady of the house, before whom the tureen was placed,
was so ignorant of the contents, that she was going to help Mr.
Sedley without bestowing upon him either calipash or calipee.
The splendour of the entertainment, and the apartments in which it
was given, alarmed Mr. Dobbin, who remonstrated after dinner, when
Jos was asleep in the great chair. But in vain he cried out against
the enormity of turtle and champagne that was fit for an archbishop.
"I've always been accustomed to travel like a gentleman," George
said, "and, damme, my wife shall travel like a lady. As long as
there's a shot in the locker, she shall want for nothing," said the
generous fellow, quite pleased with himself for his magnificence of
spirit. Nor did Dobbin try and convince him that Amelia's happiness
was not centred in turtle-soup.
A while after dinner, Amelia timidly expressed a wish to go and see
her mamma, at Fulham: which permission George granted her with some
grumbling. And she tripped away to her enormous bedroom, in the
centre of which stood the enormous funereal bed, "that the Emperor
Halixander's sister slep in when the allied sufferings was here,"
and put on her little bonnet and shawl with the utmost eagerness and
pleasure. George was still drinking claret when she returned to the
dining-room, and made no signs of moving. "Ar'n't you coming with
me, dearest?" she asked him. No; the "dearest" had "business" that
night. His man should get her a coach and go with her. And the
coach being at the door of the hotel, Amelia made George a little
disappointed curtsey after looking vainly into his face once or
twice, and went sadly down the great staircase, Captain Dobbin
after, who handed her into the vehicle, and saw it drive away to its
destination. The very valet was ashamed of mentioning the address to
the hackney-coachman before the hotel waiters, and promised to
instruct him when they got further on.
Dobbin walked home to his old quarters and the Slaughters', thinking
very likely that it would be delightful to be in that hackney-coach,
along with Mrs. Osborne. George was evidently of quite a different
taste; for when he had taken wine enough, he went off to half-price
at the play, to see Mr. Kean perform in Shylock. Captain Osborne
was a great lover of the drama, and had himself performed high-
comedy characters with great distinction in several garrison
theatrical entertainments. Jos slept on until long after dark, when
he woke up with a start at the motions of his servant, who was
removing and emptying the decanters on the table; and the hackney-
coach stand was again put into requisition for a carriage to convey
this stout hero to his lodgings and bed.
Mrs. Sedley, you may be sure, clasped her daughter to her heart with
all maternal eagerness and affection, running out of the door as the
carriage drew up before the little garden-gate, to welcome the
weeping, trembling, young bride. Old Mr. Clapp, who was in his
shirt-sleeves, trimming the garden-plot, shrank back alarmed. The
Irish servant-lass rushed up from the kitchen and smiled a "God
bless you." Amelia could hardly walk along the flags and up the
steps into the parlour.
How the floodgates were opened, and mother and daughter wept, when
they were together embracing each other in this sanctuary, may
readily be imagined by every reader who possesses the least
sentimental turn. When don't ladies weep? At what occasion of joy,
sorrow, or other business of life, and, after such an event as a
marriage, mother and daughter were surely at liberty to give way to
a sensibility which is as tender as it is refreshing. About a
question of marriage I have seen women who hate each other kiss and
cry together quite fondly. How much more do they feel when they
love! Good mothers are married over again at their daughters'
weddings: and as for subsequent events, who does not know how ultra-
maternal grandmothers are? - in fact a woman, until she is a
grandmother, does not often really know what to be a mother is. Let
us respect Amelia and her mamma whispering and whimpering and
laughing and crying in the parlour and the twilight. Old Mr. Sedley
did. HE had not divined who was in the carriage when it drove up.
He had not flown out to meet his daughter, though he kissed her very
warmly when she entered the room (where he was occupied, as usual,
with his papers and tapes and statements of accounts), and after
sitting with the mother and daughter for a short time, he very
wisely left the little apartment in their possession.
George's valet was looking on in a very supercilious manner at Mr.
Clapp in his shirt-sleeves, watering his rose-bushes. He took off
his hat, however, with much condescension to Mr. Sedley, who asked
news about his son-in-law, and about Jos's carriage, and whether his
horses had been down to Brighton, and about that infernal traitor
Bonaparty, and the war; until the Irish maid-servant came with a
plate and a bottle of wine, from which the old gentleman insisted
upon helping the valet. He gave him a half-guinea too, which the
servant pocketed with a mixture of wonder and contempt. "To the
health of your master and mistress, Trotter," Mr. Sedley said, "and
here's something to drink your health when you get home, Trotter."
There were but nine days past since Amelia had left that little
cottage and home - and yet how far off the time seemed since she had
bidden it farewell. What a gulf lay between her and that past life.
She could look back to it from her present standing-place, and
contemplate, almost as another being, the young unmarried girl
absorbed in her love, having no eyes but for one special object,
receiving parental affection if not ungratefully, at least
indifferently, and as if it were her due - her whole heart and
thoughts bent on the accomplishment of one desire. The review of
those days, so lately gone yet so far away, touched her with shame;
and the aspect of the kind parents filled her with tender remorse.