When the service was completed, Jos Sedley came forward and kissed his sister, the bride, for the first time for many months — George's look of gloom had gone, and he seemed quite proud and radiant. "It's your turn, William," says he, putting his hand fondly upon Dobbin's shoulder; and Dobbin went up and touched Amelia on the cheek.
Then they went into the vestry and signed the register. "God bless you, Old Dobbin," George said, grasping him by the hand, with something very like moisture glistening in his eyes. William replied only by nodding his head. His heart was too full to say much.
"Write directly, and come down as soon as you can, you know," Osborne said. After Mrs. Sedley had taken an hysterical adieu of her daughter, the pair went off to the carriage. "Get out of the way, you little devils," George cried to a small crowd of damp urchins, that were hanging about the chapel-door. The rain drove into the bride and bridegroom's faces as they passed to the chariot. The postilions' favours draggled on their dripping jackets. The few children made a dismal cheer, as the carriage, splashing mud, drove away.
William Dobbin stood in the church-porch, looking at it, a queer figure. The small crew of spectators jeered him. He was not thinking about them or their laughter.
"Come home and have some tiffin, Dobbin," a voice cried behind him; as a pudgy hand was laid on his shoulder, and the honest fellow's reverie was interrupted. But the Captain had no heart to go a- feasting with Jos Sedley. He put the weeping old lady and her attendants into the carriage along with Jos, and left them without any farther words passing. This carriage, too, drove away, and the urchins gave another sarcastical cheer.
"Here, you little beggars," Dobbin said, giving some sixpences amongst them, and then went off by himself through the rain. It was all over. They were married, and happy, he prayed God. Never since he was a boy had he felt so miserable and so lonely. He longed with a heart-sick yearning for the first few days to be over, that he might see her again.
Some ten days after the above ceremony, three young men of our acquaintance were enjoying that beautiful prospect of bow windows on the one side and blue sea on the other, which Brighton affords to the traveller. Sometimes it is towards the ocean — smiling with countless dimples, speckled with white sails, with a hundred bathing-machines kissing the skirt of his blue garment — that the Londoner looks enraptured: sometimes, on the contrary, a lover of human nature rather than of prospects of any kind, it is towards the bow windows that he turns, and that swarm of human life which they exhibit. From one issue the notes of a piano, which a young lady in ringlets practises six hours daily, to the delight of the fellow- lodgers: at another, lovely Polly, the nurse-maid, may be seen dandling Master Omnium in her arms: whilst Jacob, his papa, is beheld eating prawns, and devouring the Times for breakfast, at the window below. Yonder are the Misses Leery, who are looking out for the young officers of the Heavies, who are pretty sure to be pacing the cliff; or again it is a City man, with a nautical turn, and a telescope, the size of a six-pounder, who has his instrument pointed seawards, so as to command every pleasure-boat, herring-boat, or bathing-machine that comes to, or quits, the shore, &c., &c. But have we any leisure for a description of Brighton? — for Brighton, a clean Naples with genteel lazzaroni — for Brighton, that always looks brisk, gay, and gaudy, like a harlequin's jacket — for Brighton, which used to be seven hours distant from London at the time of our story; which is now only a hundred minutes off; and which may approach who knows how much nearer, unless Joinville comes and untimely bombards it?
"What a monstrous fine girl that is in the lodgings over the milliner's," one of these three promenaders remarked to the other; "Gad, Crawley, did you see what a wink she gave me as I passed?"
"Don't break her heart, Jos, you rascal," said another. "Don't trifle with her affections, you Don Juan!"
"Get away," said Jos Sedley, quite pleased, and leering up at the maid-servant in question with a most killing ogle. Jos was even more splendid at Brighton than he had been at his sister's marriage. He had brilliant under-waistcoats, any one of which would have set up a moderate buck. He sported a military frock-coat, ornamented with frogs, knobs, black buttons, and meandering embroidery. He had affected a military appearance and habits of late; and he walked with his two friends, who were of that profession, clinking his boot-spurs, swaggering prodigiously, and shooting death-glances at all the servant girls who were worthy to be slain.
"What shall we do, boys, till the ladies return?" the buck asked. The ladies were out to Rottingdean in his carriage on a drive.
"Let's have a game at billiards," one of his friends said — the tall one, with lacquered mustachios.
"No, dammy; no, Captain," Jos replied, rather alarmed. "No billiards to-day, Crawley, my boy; yesterday was enough."
"You play very well," said Crawley, laughing. "Don't he, Osborne? How well he made that-five stroke, eh?"
"Famous," Osborne said. "Jos is a devil of a fellow at billiards, and at everything else, too. I wish there were any tiger-hunting about here! we might go and kill a few before dinner. (There goes a fine girl! what an ankle, eh, Jos?) Tell us that story about the tiger-hunt, and the way you did for him in the jungle — it's a wonderful story that, Crawley." Here George Osborne gave a yawn. "It's rather slow work," said he, "down here; what shall we do?"
"Shall we go and look at some horses that Snaffler's just brought from Lewes fair?" Crawley said.
"Suppose we go and have some jellies at Dutton's," and the rogue Jos, willing to kill two birds with one stone. "Devilish fine gal at Dutton's."
"Suppose we go and see the Lightning come in, it's just about time?" George said. This advice prevailing over the stables and the jelly, they turned towards the coach-office to witness the Lightning's arrival.
As they passed, they met the carriage — Jos Sedley's open carriage, with its magnificent armorial bearings — that splendid conveyance in which he used to drive, about at Cheltonham, majestic and solitary, with his arms folded, and his hat cocked; or, more happy, with ladies by his side.
Two were in the carriage now: one a little person, with light hair, and dressed in the height of the fashion; the other in a brown silk pelisse, and a straw bonnet with pink ribbons, with a rosy, round, happy face, that did you good to behold. She checked the carriage as it neared the three gentlemen, after which exercise of authority she looked rather nervous, and then began to blush most absurdly. "We have had a delightful drive, George," she said, "and — and we're so glad to come back; and, Joseph, don't let him be late."
"Don't be leading our husbands into mischief, Mr. Sedley, you wicked, wicked man you," Rebecca said, shaking at Jos a pretty little finger covered with the neatest French kid glove. "No billiards, no smoking, no naughtiness!"