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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
himself up to be loved with a good deal of easy resignation.
Somehow, although he left home every morning, as was stated, and dined abroad six days in the week, when his sister 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), Miss Osborne would laughingly point to the opposite side of the square, and say, “Oh, you must go to the Sedley's 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 Frederic Bullock hadn't some of his modesty, Maria,” replies the elder sister, with a toss of her head.
""Modesty! Awkwardness you mean, Jane. I don't want Frederic to trample a hole in my muslin frock, as Captain Dobbin did in your's at Mrs. Perkins'.”
“In your frock, he, he! 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, viz. 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, who, 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 heating, and longing and trusting. You see it's not much of a life to describe. There's 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 he was a jolly sociable fellow, and excellent in all games of skill.
Once, after three days of absence, Miss Amelia put on her bonnet, and actually invaded the Osborne house. “ What ! leave our brother to come to us?” said the young ladies. “Have you had a quarrel, Amelia ? Do tell us !” No, indeed, 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 Miss Osbornes 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 Miss Osbornes were excellent critics of a Cashmere shawl, or a pink satin slip; and when Miss Turner had her's died 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 sun-flower sort ; and I say it is out of the rules of all proportion to draw a violet of the size of a double dahlia.
No, indeed; 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, too, 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 befal her or that opulent cheery comfortable home in which she was affectionately sheltered. Mamma had her morning duties, and her daily drive, and that 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, Bloomsbury, 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 servant's 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 fung herself into George Osborne's arms with all her soul, to the astonishment of every body 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 to leaven. 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, self, and poverty, as those dismal instructors under whom poor Miss Becky Sharp got her education. Now, 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! As, indeed, 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. Frederic Augustus Bullock, of the firm of Hulker, Bullock, & Bullock; but her's 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 Frederic 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, old, bald-headed, 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. Sweet, blooming, 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 chariotthe 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 womanto 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 ? he had seen Mr. Brummell, whom every body 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. Alas, alas ! I fear she had not a wellregulated 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; for, 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; and, 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, mesdames, 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!