There on his table, his sister's letter lay reproaching him. He took it up, ashamed rather of his negligence regarding it, and prepared himself for a disagreeable hour's communing with that crabbed-handed absent relative. . . . It may have been an hour after the Major's departure from the Colonel's house — Sir Michael was sleeping the sleep of the just; Glorvina had arranged her black ringlets in the innumerable little bits of paper, in which it was her habit to confine them; Lady O'Dowd, too, had gone to her bed in the nuptial chamber, on the ground-floor, and had tucked her musquito curtains round her fair form, when the guard at the gates of the Commanding-Officer's compound beheld Major Dobbin, in the moonlight, rushing towards the house with a swift step and a very agitated countenance, and he passed the sentinel and went up to the windows of the Colonel's bedchamber.
"O'Dowd — Colonel!" said Dobbin and kept up a great shouting.
"Heavens, Meejor!" said Glorvina of the curl-papers, putting out her head too, from her window.
"What is it, Dob, me boy?" said the Colonel, expecting there was a fire in the station, or that the route had come from headquarters.
"I — I must have leave of absence. I must go to England — on the most urgent private affairs," Dobbin said.
"Good heavens, what has happened!" thought Glorvina, trembling with all the papillotes.
"I want to be off — now — to-night," Dobbin continued; and the Colonel getting up, came out to parley with him.
In the postscript of Miss Dobbin's cross-letter, the Major had just come upon a paragraph, to the following effect: — "I drove yesterday to see your old ACQUAINTANCE, Mrs. Osborne. The wretched place they live at, since they were bankrupts, you know — Mr. S., to judge from a BRASS PLATE on the door of his hut (it is little better) is a coal-merchant. The little boy, your godson, is certainly a fine child, though forward, and inclined to be saucy and self-willed. But we have taken notice of him as you wish it, and have introduced him to his aunt, Miss O., who was rather pleased with him. Perhaps his grandpapa, not the bankrupt one, who is almost doting, but Mr. Osborne, of Russell Square, may be induced to relent towards the child of your friend, HIS ERRING AND SELF-WILLED SON. And Amelia will not be ill-disposed to give him up. The widow is CONSOLED, and is about to marry a reverend gentleman, the Rev. Mr. Binny, one of the curates of Brompton. A poor match. But Mrs. O. is getting old, and I saw a great deal of grey in her hair — she was in very good spirits: and your little godson overate himself at our house. Mamma sends her love with that of your affectionate, Ann Dobbin."