Was the prize gained - the heaven of life - and the winner still
doubtful and unsatisfied? As his hero and heroine pass the
matrimonial barrier, the novelist generally drops the curtain, as if
the drama were over then: the doubts and struggles of life ended:
as if, once landed in the marriage country, all were green and
pleasant there: and wife and husband had nothing to do but to link
each other's arms together, and wander gently downwards towards old
age in happy and perfect fruition. But our little Amelia was just
on the bank of her new country, and was already looking anxiously
back towards the sad friendly figures waving farewell to her across
the stream, from the other distant shore.
In honour of the young bride's arrival, her mother thought it
necessary to prepare I don't know what festive entertainment, and
after the first ebullition of talk, took leave of Mrs. George
Osborne for a while, and dived down to the lower regions of the
house to a sort of kitchen-parlour (occupied by Mr. and Mrs. Clapp,
and in the evening, when her dishes were washed and her curl-papers
removed, by Miss Flannigan, the Irish servant), there to take
measures for the preparing of a magnificent ornamented tea. All
people have their ways of expressing kindness, and it seemed to Mrs.
Sedley that a muffin and a quantity of orange marmalade spread out
in a little cut-glass saucer would be peculiarly agreeable
refreshments to Amelia in her most interesting situation.
While these delicacies were being transacted below, Amelia, leaving
the drawing-room, walked upstairs and found herself, she scarce knew
how, in the little room which she had occupied before her marriage,
and in that very chair in which she had passed so many bitter hours.
She sank back in its arms as if it were an old friend; and fell to
thinking over the past week, and the life beyond it. Already to be
looking sadly and vaguely back: always to be pining for something
which, when obtained, brought doubt and sadness rather than
pleasure; here was the lot of our poor little creature and harmless
lost wanderer in the great struggling crowds of Vanity Fair.
Here she sate, and recalled to herself fondly that image of George
to which she had knelt before marriage. Did she own to herself how
different the real man was from that superb young hero whom she had
worshipped? It requires many, many years - and a man must be very
bad indeed - before a woman's pride and vanity will let her own to
such a confession. Then Rebecca's twinkling green eyes and baleful
smile lighted upon her, and filled her with dismay. And so she sate
for awhile indulging in her usual mood of selfish brooding, in that
very listless melancholy attitude in which the honest maid-servant
had found her, on the day when she brought up the letter in which
George renewed his offer of marriage.
She looked at the little white bed, which had been hers a few days
before, and thought she would like to sleep in it that night, and
wake, as formerly, with her mother smiling over her in the morning:
Then she thought with terror of the great funereal damask pavilion
in the vast and dingy state bedroom, which was awaiting her at the
grand hotel in Cavendish Square. Dear little white bed! how many a
long night had she wept on its pillow! How she had despaired and
hoped to die there; and now were not all her wishes accomplished,
and the lover of whom she had despaired her own for ever? Kind
mother! how patiently and tenderly she had watched round that bed!
She went and knelt down by the bedside; and there this wounded and
timorous, but gentle and loving soul, sought for consolation, where
as yet, it must be owned, our little girl had but seldom looked for
it. Love had been her faith hitherto; and the sad, bleeding
disappointed heart began to feel the want of another consoler.
Have we a right to repeat or to overhear her prayers? These,
brother, are secrets, and out of the domain of Vanity Fair, in which
our story lies.
But this may be said, that when the tea was finally announced, our
young lady came downstairs a great deal more cheerful; that she did
not despond, or deplore her fate, or think about George's coldness,
or Rebecca's eyes, as she had been wont to do of late. She went
downstairs, and kissed her father and mother, and talked to the old
gentleman, and made him more merry than he had been for many a day.
She sate down at the piano which Dobbin had bought for her, and sang
over all her father's favourite old songs. She pronounced the tea
to be excellent, and praised the exquisite taste in which the
marmalade was arranged in the saucers. And in determining to make
everybody else happy, she found herself so; and was sound asleep in
the great funereal pavilion, and only woke up with a smile when
George arrived from the theatre.
For the next day, George had more important "business" to transact
than that which took him to see Mr. Kean in Shylock. Immediately on
his arrival in London he had written off to his father's solicitors,
signifying his royal pleasure that an interview should take place
between them on the morrow. His hotel bill, losses at billiards and
cards to Captain Crawley had almost drained the young man's purse,
which wanted replenishing before he set out on his travels, and he
had no resource but to infringe upon the two thousand pounds which
the attorneys were commissioned to pay over to him. He had a
perfect belief in his own mind that his father would relent before
very long. How could any parent be obdurate for a length of time
against such a paragon as he was? If his mere past and personal
merits did not succeed in mollifying his father, George determined
that he would distinguish himself so prodigiously in the ensuing
campaign that the old gentleman must give in to him. And if not?
Bah! the world was before him. His luck might change at cards, and
there was a deal of spending in two thousand pounds.
So he sent off Amelia once more in a carriage to her mamma, with
strict orders and carte blanche to the two ladies to purchase
everything requisite for a lady of Mrs. George Osborne's fashion,
who was going on a foreign tour. They had but one day to complete
the outfit, and it may be imagined that their business therefore
occupied them pretty fully. In a carriage once more, bustling about
from milliner to linen-draper, escorted back to the carriage by
obsequious shopmen or polite owners, Mrs. Sedley was herself again
almost, and sincerely happy for the first time since their
misfortunes. Nor was Mrs. Amelia at all above the pleasure of
shopping, and bargaining, and seeing and buying pretty things.
(Would any man, the most philosophic, give twopence for a woman who
was?) She gave herself a little treat, obedient to her husband's
orders, and purchased a quantity of lady's gear, showing a great
deal of taste and elegant discernment, as all the shopfolks said.
And about the war that was ensuing, Mrs. Osborne was not much
alarmed; Bonaparty was to be crushed almost without a struggle.
Margate packets were sailing every day, filled with men of fashion
and ladies of note, on their way to Brussels and Ghent. People were
going not so much to a war as to a fashionable tour. The newspapers
laughed the wretched upstart and swindler to scorn. Such a Corsican
wretch as that withstand the armies of Europe and the genius of the
immortal Wellington! Amelia held him in utter contempt; for it
needs not to be said that this soft and gentle creature took her
opinions from those people who surrounded her, such fidelity being
much too humble-minded to think for itself. Well, in a word, she and
her mother performed a great day's shopping, and she acquitted
herself with considerable liveliness and credit on this her first
appearance in the genteel world of London.
George meanwhile, with his hat on one side, his elbows squared, and
his swaggering martial air, made for Bedford Row, and stalked into
the attorney's offices as if he was lord of every pale-faced clerk
who was scribbling there. He ordered somebody to inform Mr. Higgs
that Captain Osborne was waiting, in a fierce and patronizing way,
as if the pekin of an attorney, who had thrice his brains, fifty
times his money, and a thousand times his experience, was a wretched
underling who should instantly leave all his business in life to
attend on the Captain's pleasure. He did not see the sneer of
contempt which passed all round the room, from the first clerk to
the articled gents, from the articled gents to the ragged writers
and white-faced runners, in clothes too tight for them, as he sate
there tapping his boot with his cane, and thinking what a parcel of
miserable poor devils these were. The miserable poor devils knew
all about his affairs. They talked about them over their pints of
beer at their public-house clubs to other clerks of a night. Ye
gods, what do not attorneys and attorneys' clerks know in London!
Nothing is hidden from their inquisition, and their families mutely
rule our city.
Perhaps George expected, when he entered Mr. Higgs's apartment, to
find that gentleman commissioned to give him some message of
compromise or conciliation from his father; perhaps his haughty and
cold demeanour was adopted as a sign of his spirit and resolution:
but if so, his fierceness was met by a chilling coolness and
indifference on the attorney's part, that rendered swaggering
absurd. He pretended to be writing at a paper, when the Captain
entered. "Pray, sit down, sir," said he, "and I will attend to your
little affair in a moment. Mr. Poe, get the release papers, if you
please"; and then he fell to writing again.
Poe having produced those papers, his chief calculated the amount of
two thousand pounds stock at the rate of the day; and asked Captain
Osborne whether he would take the sum in a cheque upon the bankers,
or whether he should direct the latter to purchase stock to that
amount. "One of the late Mrs. Osborne's trustees is out of town,"
he said indifferently, "but my client wishes to meet your wishes,
and have done with the business as quick as possible."
"Give me a cheque, sir," said the Captain very surlily. "Damn the
shillings and halfpence, sir," he added, as the lawyer was making
out the amount of the draft; and, flattering himself that by this
stroke of magnanimity he had put the old quiz to the blush, he
stalked out of the office with the paper in his pocket.
"That chap will be in gaol in two years," Mr. Higgs said to Mr. Poe.
"Won't O. come round, sir, don't you think?"
"Won't the monument come round," Mr. Higgs replied.
"He's going it pretty fast," said the clerk. "He's only married a
week, and I saw him and some other military chaps handing Mrs.
Highflyer to her carriage after the play." And then another case was
called, and Mr. George Osborne thenceforth dismissed from these
worthy gentlemen's memory.
The draft was upon our friends Hulker and Bullock of Lombard Street,
to whose house, still thinking he was doing business, George bent
his way, and from whom he received his money. Frederick Bullock,
Esq., whose yellow face was over a ledger, at which sate a demure
clerk, happened to be in the banking-room when George entered. His
yellow face turned to a more deadly colour when he saw the Captain,
and he slunk back guiltily into the inmost parlour. George was too
busy gloating over the money (for he had never had such a sum
before), to mark the countenance or flight of the cadaverous suitor
of his sister.
Fred Bullock told old Osborne of his son's appearance and conduct.
"He came in as bold as brass," said Frederick. "He has drawn out
every shilling. How long will a few hundred pounds last such a chap
as that?" Osborne swore with a great oath that he little cared when
or how soon he spent it. Fred dined every day in Russell Square
now. But altogether, George was highly pleased with his day's
business. All his own baggage and outfit was put into a state of
speedy preparation, and he paid Amelia's purchases with cheques on
his agents, and with the splendour of a lord.
In Which Amelia Joins Her Regiment
When Jos's fine carriage drove up to the inn door at Chatham, the
first face which Amelia recognized was the friendly countenance of
Captain Dobbin, who had been pacing the street for an hour past in
expectation of his friends' arrival. The Captain, with shells on
his frockcoat, and a crimson sash and sabre, presented a military
appearance, which made Jos quite proud to be able to claim such an
acquaintance, and the stout civilian hailed him with a cordiality
very different from the reception which Jos vouchsafed to his friend
in Brighton and Bond Street.
Along with the Captain was Ensign Stubble; who, as the barouche
neared the inn, burst out with an exclamation of "By Jove! what a
pretty girl"; highly applauding Osborne's choice. Indeed, Amelia
dressed in her wedding-pelisse and pink ribbons, with a flush in her
face, occasioned by rapid travel through the open air, looked so
fresh and pretty, as fully to justify the Ensign's compliment.
Dobbin liked him for making it. As he stepped forward to help the
lady out of the carriage, Stubble saw what a pretty little hand she
gave him, and what a sweet pretty little foot came tripping down the
step. He blushed profusely, and made the very best bow of which he
was capable; to which Amelia, seeing the number of the the regiment
embroidered on the Ensign's cap, replied with a blushing smile, and
a curtsey on her part; which finished the young Ensign on the spot.
Dobbin took most kindly to Mr. Stubble from that day, and encouraged
him to talk about Amelia in their private walks, and at each other's
quarters. It became the fashion, indeed, among all the honest young
fellows of the - th to adore and admire Mrs. Osborne. Her simple
artless behaviour, and modest kindness of demeanour, won all their
unsophisticated hearts; all which simplicity and sweetness are quite
impossible to describe in print. But who has not beheld these among
women, and recognised the presence of all sorts of qualities in
them, even though they say no more to you than that they are engaged
to dance the next quadrille, or that it is very hot weather?
George, always the champion of his regiment, rose immensely in the
opinion of the youth of the corps, by his gallantry in marrying this
portionless young creature, and by his choice of such a pretty kind
In the sitting-room which was awaiting the travellers, Amelia, to
her surprise, found a letter addressed to Mrs. Captain Osborne. It
was a triangular billet, on pink paper, and sealed with a dove and
an olive branch, and a profusion of light blue sealing wax, and it
was written in a very large, though undecided female hand.
"It's Peggy O'Dowd's fist," said George, laughing. "I know it by
the kisses on the seal." And in fact, it was a note from Mrs. Major
O'Dowd, requesting the pleasure of Mrs. Osborne's company that very
evening to a small friendly party. "You must go," George said.
"You will make acquaintance with the regiment there. O'Dowd goes in
command of the regiment, and Peggy goes in command."
But they had not been for many minutes in the enjoyment of Mrs.
O'Dowd's letter, when the door was flung open, and a stout jolly
lady, in a riding-habit, followed by a couple of officers of Ours,
entered the room.
"Sure, I couldn't stop till tay-time. Present me, Garge, my dear
fellow, to your lady. Madam, I'm deloighted to see ye; and to
present to you me husband, Meejor O'Dowd"; and with this, the jolly
lady in the riding-habit grasped Amelia's hand very warmly, and the
latter knew at once that the lady was before her whom her husband
had so often laughed at. "You've often heard of me from that
husband of yours," said the lady, with great vivacity.
"You've often heard of her," echoed her husband, the Major.
Amelia answered, smiling, "that she had."
"And small good he's told you of me," Mrs. O'Dowd replied; adding
that "George was a wicked divvle."
"That I'll go bail for," said the Major, trying to look knowing, at
which George laughed; and Mrs. O'Dowd, with a tap of her whip, told
the Major to be quiet; and then requested to be presented in form to
Mrs. Captain Osborne.
"This, my dear," said George with great gravity, "is my very good,
kind, and excellent friend, Auralia Margaretta, otherwise called
"Faith, you're right," interposed the Major.
"Otherwise called Peggy, lady of Major Michael O'Dowd, of our
regiment, and daughter of Fitzjurld Ber'sford de Burgo Malony of
Glenmalony, County Kildare."
"And Muryan Squeer, Doblin," said the lady with calm superiority.
"And Muryan Square, sure enough," the Major whispered.
"'Twas there ye coorted me, Meejor dear," the lady said; and the
Major assented to this as to every other proposition which was made
generally in company.
Major O'Dowd, who had served his sovereign in every quarter of the
world, and had paid for every step in his profession by some more
than equivalent act of daring and gallantry, was the most modest,
silent, sheep-faced and meek of little men, and as obedient to his
wife as if he had been her tay-boy. At the mess-table he sat
silently, and drank a great deal. When full of liquor, he reeled
silently home. When he spoke, it was to agree with everybody on
every conceivable point; and he passed through life in perfect ease
and good-humour. The hottest suns of India never heated his temper;
and the Walcheren ague never shook it. He walked up to a battery
with just as much indifference as to a dinner-table; had dined on
horse-flesh and turtle with equal relish and appetite; and had an
old mother, Mrs. O'Dowd of O'Dowdstown indeed, whom he had never
disobeyed but when he ran away and enlisted, and when he persisted
in marrying that odious Peggy Malony.
Peggy was one of five sisters, and eleven children of the noble
house of Glenmalony; but her husband, though her own cousin, was of
the mother's side, and so had not the inestimable advantage of being
allied to the Malonys, whom she believed to be the most famous
family in the world. Having tried nine seasons at Dublin and two at
Bath and Cheltenham, and not finding a partner for life, Miss Malony
ordered her cousin Mick to marry her when she was about thirty-three
years of age; and the honest fellow obeying, carried her off to the
West Indies, to preside over the ladies of the - th regiment, into
which he had just exchanged.
Before Mrs. O'Dowd was half an hour in Amelia's (or indeed in
anybody else's) company, this amiable lady told all her birth and
pedigree to her new friend. "My dear," said she, good-naturedly,
"it was my intention that Garge should be a brother of my own, and
my sister Glorvina would have suited him entirely. But as bygones
are bygones, and he was engaged to yourself, why, I'm determined to
take you as a sister instead, and to look upon you as such, and to
love you as one of the family. Faith, you've got such a nice good-
natured face and way widg you, that I'm sure we'll agree; and that
you'll be an addition to our family anyway."
"'Deed and she will," said O'Dowd, with an approving air, and Amelia
felt herself not a little amused and grateful to be thus suddenly
introduced to so large a party of relations.
"We're all good fellows here," the Major's lady continued. "There's
not a regiment in the service where you'll find a more united
society nor a more agreeable mess-room. There's no quarrelling,
bickering, slandthering, nor small talk amongst us. We all love
"Especially Mrs. Magenis," said George, laughing.
"Mrs. Captain Magenis and me has made up, though her treatment of me
would bring me gray hairs with sorrow to the grave."
"And you with such a beautiful front of black, Peggy, my dear," the
"Hould your tongue, Mick, you booby. Them husbands are always in
the way, Mrs. Osborne, my dear; and as for my Mick, I often tell him
he should never open his mouth but to give the word of command, or
to put meat and drink into it. I'll tell you about the regiment,
and warn you when we're alone. Introduce me to your brother now;
sure he's a mighty fine man, and reminds me of me cousin, Dan Malony
(Malony of Ballymalony, my dear, you know who mar'ied Ophalia
Scully, of Oystherstown, own cousin to Lord Poldoody). Mr. Sedley,
sir, I'm deloighted to be made known te ye. I suppose you'll dine
at the mess to-day. (Mind that divvle of a docther, Mick, and
whatever ye du, keep yourself sober for me party this evening.)"
"It's the 150th gives us a farewell dinner, my love," interposed the
Major, "but we'll easy get a card for Mr. Sedley."
"Run Simple (Ensign Simple, of Ours, my dear Amelia. I forgot to
introjuice him to ye). Run in a hurry, with Mrs. Major O'Dowd's
compliments to Colonel Tavish, and Captain Osborne has brought his
brothernlaw down, and will bring him to the 150th mess at five
o'clock sharp - when you and I, my dear, will take a snack here, if
you like." Before Mrs. O'Dowd's speech was concluded, the young
Ensign was trotting downstairs on his commission.
"Obedience is the soul of the army. We will go to our duty while
Mrs. O'Dowd will stay and enlighten you, Emmy," Captain Osborne
said; and the two gentlemen, taking each a wing of the Major, walked
out with that officer, grinning at each other over his head.
And, now having her new friend to herself, the impetuous Mrs: O'Dowd
proceeded to pour out such a quantity of information as no poor
little woman's memory could ever tax itself to bear. She told
Amelia a thousand particulars relative to the very numerous family
of which the amazed young lady found herself a member. "Mrs.
Heavytop, the Colonel's wife, died in Jamaica of the yellow faver
and a broken heart comboined, for the horrud old Colonel, with a
head as bald as a cannon-ball, was making sheep's eyes at a half-
caste girl there. Mrs. Magenis, though without education, was a
good woman, but she had the divvle's tongue, and would cheat her own
mother at whist. Mrs. Captain Kirk must turn up her lobster eyes
forsooth at the idea of an honest round game (wherein me fawther, as
pious a man as ever went to church, me uncle Dane Malony, and our
cousin the Bishop, took a hand at loo, or whist, every night of
their lives). Nayther of 'em's goin' with the regiment this time,"
Mrs. O'Dowd added. "Fanny Magenis stops with her mother, who sells
small coal and potatoes, most likely, in Islington-town, hard by
London, though she's always bragging of her father's ships, and
pointing them out to us as they go up the river: and Mrs. Kirk and
her children will stop here in Bethesda Place, to be nigh to her
favourite preacher, Dr. Ramshorn. Mrs. Bunny's in an interesting
situation - faith, and she always is, then - and has given the
Lieutenant seven already. And Ensign Posky's wife, who joined two
months before you, my dear, has quarl'd with Tom Posky a score of
times, till you can hear'm all over the bar'ck (they say they're
come to broken pleets, and Tom never accounted for his black oi),
and she'll go back to her mother, who keeps a ladies' siminary at
Richmond - bad luck to her for running away from it! Where did ye
get your finishing, my dear? I had moin, and no expince spared, at
Madame Flanahan's, at Ilyssus Grove, Booterstown, near Dublin, wid a
Marchioness to teach us the true Parisian pronunciation, and a
retired Mejor-General of the French service to put us through the
Of this incongruous family our astonished Amelia found herself all
of a sudden a member: with Mrs. O'Dowd as an elder sister. She was
presented to her other female relations at tea-time, on whom, as she
was quiet, good-natured, and not too handsome, she made rather an
agreeable impression until the arrival of the gentlemen from the
mess of the 150th, who all admired her so, that her sisters began,
of course, to find fault with her.
"I hope Osborne has sown his wild oats," said Mrs. Magenis to Mrs.
Bunny. "If a reformed rake makes a good husband, sure it's she will
have the fine chance with Garge," Mrs. O'Dowd remarked to Posky, who
had lost her position as bride in the regiment, and was quite angry
with the usurper. And as for Mrs. Kirk: that disciple of Dr.
Ramshorn put one or two leading professional questions to Amelia, to
see whether she was awakened, whether she was a professing Christian
and so forth, and finding from the simplicity of Mrs. Osborne's
replies that she was yet in utter darkness, put into her hands three