When Miss Crawley was convalescent and descended to the drawing- room, Becky sang to her, and otherwise amused her; when she was well enough to drive out, Becky accompanied her. And amongst the drives which they took, whither, of all places in the world, did Miss Crawley's admirable good-nature and friendship actually induce her to penetrate, but to Russell Square, Bloomsbury, and the house of John Sedley, Esquire.
Ere that event, many notes had passed, as may be imagined, between the two dear friends. During the months of Rebecca's stay in Hampshire, the eternal friendship had (must it be owned?) suffered considerable diminution, and grown so decrepit and feeble with old age as to threaten demise altogether. The fact is, both girls had their own real affairs to think of: Rebecca her advance with her employers — Amelia her own absorbing topic. When the two girls met, and flew into each other's arms with that impetuosity which distinguishes the behaviour of young ladies towards each other, Rebecca performed her part of the embrace with the most perfect briskness and energy. Poor little Amelia blushed as she kissed her friend, and thought she had been guilty of something very like coldness towards her.
Their first interview was but a very short one. Amelia was just ready to go out for a walk. Miss Crawley was waiting in her carriage below, her people wondering at the locality in which they found themselves, and gazing upon honest Sambo, the black footman of Bloomsbury, as one of the queer natives of the place. But when Amelia came down with her kind smiling looks (Rebecca must introduce her to her friend, Miss Crawley was longing to see her, and was too ill to leave her carriage) — when, I say, Amelia came down, the Park Lane shoulder-knot aristocracy wondered more and more that such a thing could come out of Bloomsbury; and Miss Crawley was fairly captivated by the sweet blushing face of the young lady who came forward so timidly and so gracefully to pay her respects to the protector of her friend.
"What a complexion, my dear! What a sweet voice!" Miss Crawley said, as they drove away westward after the little interview. "My dear Sharp, your young friend is charming. Send for her to Park Lane, do you hear?" Miss Crawley had a good taste. She liked natural manners — a little timidity only set them off. She liked pretty faces near her; as she liked pretty pictures and nice china. She talked of Amelia with rapture half a dozen times that day. She mentioned her to Rawdon Crawley, who came dutifully to partake of his aunt's chicken.
Of course, on this Rebecca instantly stated that Amelia was engaged to be married — to a Lieutenant Osborne — a very old flame.
"Is he a man in a line-regiment?" Captain Crawley asked, remembering after an effort, as became a guardsman, the number of the regiment, the — th.
Rebecca thought that was the regiment. "The Captain's name," she said, "was Captain Dobbin."
"A lanky gawky fellow," said Crawley, "tumbles over everybody. I know him; and Osborne's a goodish-looking fellow, with large black whiskers?"
"Enormous," Miss Rebecca Sharp said, "and enormously proud of them, I assure you."
Captain Rawdon Crawley burst into a horse-laugh by way of reply; and being pressed by the ladies to explain, did so when the explosion of hilarity was over. "He fancies he can play at billiards," said he. "I won two hundred of him at the Cocoa-Tree. HE play, the young flat! He'd have played for anything that day, but his friend Captain Dobbin carried him off, hang him!"
"Rawdon, Rawdon, don't be so wicked," Miss Crawley remarked, highly pleased.
"Why, ma'am, of all the young fellows I've seen out of the line, I think this fellow's the greenest. Tarquin and Deuceace get what money they like out of him. He'd go to the deuce to be seen with a lord. He pays their dinners at Greenwich, and they invite the company."
"And very pretty company too, I dare say."
"Quite right, Miss Sharp. Right, as usual, Miss Sharp. Uncommon pretty company — haw, haw!" and the Captain laughed more and more, thinking he had made a good joke.
"Rawdon, don't be naughty!" his aunt exclaimed.
"Well, his father's a City man — immensely rich, they say. Hang those City fellows, they must bleed; and I've not done with him yet, I can tell you. Haw, haw!"
"Fie, Captain Crawley; I shall warn Amelia. A gambling husband!"
"Horrid, ain't he, hey?" the Captain said with great solemnity; and then added, a sudden thought having struck him: "Gad, I say, ma'am, we'll have him here."
"Is he a presentable sort of a person?" the aunt inquired.
"Presentable? — oh, very well. You wouldn't see any difference," Captain Crawley answered. "Do let's have him, when you begin to see a few people; and his whatdyecallem — his inamorato — eh, Miss Sharp; that's what you call it — comes. Gad, I'll write him a note, and have him; and I'll try if he can play piquet as well as billiards. Where does he live, Miss Sharp?"
Miss Sharp told Crawley the Lieutenant's town address; and a few days after this conversation, Lieutenant Osborne received a letter, in Captain Rawdon's schoolboy hand, and enclosing a note of invitation from Miss Crawley.
Rebecca despatched also an invitation to her darling Amelia, who, you may be sure, was ready enough to accept it when she heard that George was to be of the party. It was arranged that Amelia was to spend the morning with the ladies of Park Lane, where all were very kind to her. Rebecca patronised her with calm superiority: she was so much the cleverer of the two, and her friend so gentle and unassuming, that she always yielded when anybody chose to command, and so took Rebecca's orders with perfect meekness and good humour. Miss Crawley's graciousness was also remarkable. She continued her raptures about little Amelia, talked about her before her face as if she were a doll, or a servant, or a picture, and admired her with the most benevolent wonder possible. I admire that admiration which the genteel world sometimes extends to the commonalty. There is no more agreeable object in life than to see Mayfair folks condescending. Miss Crawley's prodigious benevolence rather fatigued poor little Amelia, and I am not sure that of the three ladies in Park Lane she did not find honest Miss Briggs the most agreeable. She sympathised with Briggs as with all neglected or gentle people: she wasn't what you call a woman of spirit.
George came to dinner — a repast en garcon with Captain Crawley.