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ascendency over the boys which his defeat had nearly cost him.
Young Osborne wrote home to his parents an account of the transaction.
"Sugarcane House, Richmond, March, 18“Dear MAMA,--I hope you are quite well. I should be much obliged to you to send me a cake and five shillings. There has been a fight here between Cuff & Dobbin. Cuff, you know, was the Cock of the School. They fought thirteen rounds, and Dobbin Licked. So Cuff is now only Second Cock. The fight was about me. Cuff was licking me for breaking a bottle of milk, and Figs wouldn't stand it. We call him Figs because his father is a Grocer-Figs & Rudge, Thames St., City-I think as he fought for me you ought to buy your tea and sugar at his father's. Cuff goes home every Saturday, but can't this, because he has 2 Black Eyes. He has a white Pony to come and fetch him, and a groom in livery on a bay mare. I wish my Papa would let me have a Pony, and I am
"Your dutiful Son,
"GEORGE SEDLEY OSBORNE. "P.S.-Give my love to little Emmy. I am cutting her out a Coach in cardboard. Please not a seed-cake, but a plum-cake."
In consequence of Dobbin's victory, his character rose prodigiously in the estimation of all his schoolfellows, and the name of Figs, which had been a byword of reproach, became as respectable and popular a nickname as any other in use in the school. “After all, it's not his fault that his father's a grocer,” George Osborne said, who, though a little chap, had a very high popularity among the Swishtail youth; and his opinion was received with great applause. It was voted low to sneer at Dobbin about this accident of birth. "Old Figs” grew to be a name of kindness and endearment; and the sneak of an usher jeered at him no longer.
And Dobbin's spirit rose with his altered circumstances. He made wonderful advances in scholastic learning. The superb Cuff himself, at whose condescension Dobbin could only blush and wonder, helped him on with his Latin verses; "coached" him in play-hours: carried him triumphantly out of the little boy class into the middle-sized form; and even there got a fair place for him. It was discovered, that although dull at classical learning, at mathematics he was uncommonly quick. To the contentment of all he passed third in algebra, and got a French prize-book at the public Midsummer examination. You should have seen his mother's face when Télémaque (that delicious romance) was presented to him by the Doctor in the face of the whole school and the parents and company, with an inscription to Gulielmo Dobbin. All the boys clapped hands in token of applause and sympathy. His blushes, his stumbles, his awkwardness, and the number of feet which he crushed as he went back to his place, who shall describe or calculate ?
Old Dobbin, his father, who now respected him for the first time, gave him two guineas publicly; most of which he spent in a general tuck-out for the school: and he came back in a tail-coat after the holidays.
Dobbin was much too modest a young fellow to suppose that this happy change in all his circumstances arose from his own generous and manly disposition: he chose, from some perverseness, to attribute his good fortune to the sole agency and benevolence of little George Osborne, to whom henceforth he vowed such a love and affection as is only felt by children-such an affection, as we read in the charming fairy-book, uncouth Orson had for splendid young Valentine his conqueror. He flung himself down at little Osborne's feet, and loved him. Even before they were acquainted, he had admired Osborne in secret. Now he was his valet, his dog, his man Friday. He believed Osborne to be the possessor of every perfection, to be the handsomest, the bravest, the most active, the cleverest, the most generous of created boys. He shared his money with him: bought him uncountable presents of knives, pencil-cases, gold seals, toffee, Little Warblers, and romantic books, with large coloured pictures of knights and robbers, in many of which latter you might read inscriptions to George Sedley Osborne, Esquire, from his attached friend William Dobbin-the which tokens of homage George received very graciously, as became his superior merit.
So that Lieutenant Osborne, when coming to Russell Square on the day of the Vauxhall party, said to the ladies, “Mrs. Sedley, Ma'am, I hope you have room; I've asked Dobbin of ours to come and dine here, and go with us to Vauxhall. He's almost as modest as Jos."
"Modesty! pooh," said the stout gentleman, casting a vainqucur look at Miss Sharp.
"He is--but you are incomparably more graceful, Sedley,” Osborne added, laughing. “I met him at the Bedford, when I went to look for you; and I told him that Miss Amelia was come home, and that we were all bent on going out for a night's pleasuring; and that Mrs. Sedley had forgiven his breaking the punch-bowl at the child's party. Don't you remember the catastrophe, Ma'am, seven years ago?"
"Over Mrs. I'lamingo's crimson silk gown." said goodnatured Mrs. Sedley. "What a gawky it was! And his sisters are not much more graceful. Lady Dobbin was at Highbury last night with three of them. Such figures! my dcars."
“The Alderman's very rich, isn't he?" Osborne said archly. "Don't you think one of the daughters would be a good spec for me, Wa'am?"
"You foolish creature! Who would take you, I should like to know, with your yellow face?"
"Mine a yellow face? Stop till you see Dobbin. Why. he had the yellow fever three times; twice at Nassau, and once at St. Kitts."
"Well, well; yours is quite yellow enough for us. Isn't it, Emmy?” Mrs. Sedley said: at which speech Miss Amelia only made a smile and a blush; and looking at Mr. George Osborne's pale interesting countenance, and those beautiful black, curling, shining whiskers, which the young gentleman himself regarded with no ordinary complacency, she thought in her little heart, that in His Majesty's army, or in the wide world, there never was such a face or such a hero. "I don't care about Captain Dobbin's complexion," she said, "or about his awkwardness. I shall always like him, I know;" her little reason being, that he was the friend and champion of Gcorge.
“There's not a finer fellow in the service," Osborne said, "nor a better officer, though he is not an Adonis, certainly." And he looked towards the glass himself with much naizeté; and in so doing, caught Miss Sharp's eye fixed keenly upon him, at which he blushed a little, and Rebecca thought in her heart,"Ah, mon beau Monsieur! I think I have your gauge, -the little artful minx !
That evening, when Annelia came tripping into the drawing-room in a white muslin frock, prepared for conquest at Vauxhall
, singing like a lark, and as fresh as a rose-a very tall ungainly gentleman, with large hands and feet, and large ears, set off by a closely cropped head of black hair, and in the hideous military frogged coat and cockedhat of those times, advanced to meet her, and made her one of the clumsiest bows that was ever performed by a mortal.
This was no other than Captain William Dobbin, of His Majesty's — Regiinent of Foot, returned from yellow fever, in the West Incies, to which the fortune of the service had ordered his regiment, whilst so many of his gallant comrades were reaping glory in the Peninsula.
He had arrived with a knock so very timid and quiet, that it was inaudible to the ladies upstairs: otherwise, you may be sure Miss Anielia would never have been so bold as to come singing into the room As it was, the sweet fresh little voice went right into the Captain's heart, and nestled there. When she he:d out her hand for him to shake, before he enveloped it in his own, he paused, and thought"Well, is it possible--are you the little maid I remember in the pink frock, such a short time ago--the night I upset the punch-bowl, just after I was gazetted? Are you the little girl that George Osborne said should marry him? What a blooming young creature you seem, and what a prize the rogue has got !" All this he thought, before he took Amelia's hand into his own, and as he let his cockedhat fall.
His history since he left school, until the very moment when we have the pleasure of meeting him again, although not fully narrated, has yet, I think, been indicated sufficiently for an ingenious reader by the conversation in the last page. Dobbin, the despised grocer, was Alderman Dobbin-Alderman Dobbin was Colonel of the City Light Horse, then burning with military ardour to resist the French Invasion. Colonel Dobbin's corps, in which old Mr. Osborne himself was but an indifferent corporal, had been reviewed by the Sovereign and the Duke of York; and the colonel and alderman had been knighted. His son had entered the army: and young Osborne followed presently in the same regiment. They had served in the West Indies and in Canada. Their regiment had just come home, and the attachment of Dobbin to George Osborne was as warm and generous now as it had been when the two were schoolboys.
So these worthy people sat down to dinner presently. They talked about war and glory, and Boney and Lord Wellington, and the last Gazette. In those famous days every gazette had a victory in it, and the two gallant young men longed to see their own names in the glorious list, and cursed their unlucky fate to belong to a regiment which had been away from the chances of honour. Miss Sharp kindled with this exciting talk, but Miss Sedley trembled and grew quite faint as she heard it. Mr. Jos told several of his tiger-hunting stories, finished the one about Miss Cutler and Lance the surgeon; helped Rebecca to everything on the table, and himself gobbled and drank a great deal.
He sprang to open the door for the ladies, when they retired, with the most killing grace-and coming back to the table, filled himself bumper after bumper of claret, which he swallowed with nervous rapidity.
"He's priming himself," Osborne whispered to Dobbin, and at length the hour and the carriage arrived for Vauxhall.