Vanity Fair By William Makepeace Thackeray Chapters 61-63

The next day they gave another piece of Beethoven, Die Schlacht bei Vittoria. Malbrook is introduced at the beginning of the performance, as indicative of the brisk advance of the French army. Then come drums, trumpets, thunders of artillery, and groans of the dying, and at last, in a grand triumphal swell, "God Save the King" is performed.

There may have been a score of Englishmen in the house, but at the burst of that beloved and well-known music, every one of them, we young fellows in the stalls, Sir John and Lady Bullminster (who had taken a house at Pumpernickel for the education of their nine children), the fat gentleman with the mustachios, the long Major in white duck trousers, and the lady with the little boy upon whom he was so sweet, even Kirsch, the courier in the gallery, stood bolt upright in their places and proclaimed themselves to be members of the dear old British nation. As for Tapeworm, the Charge d'Affaires, he rose up in his box and bowed and simpered, as if he would represent the whole empire. Tapeworm was nephew and heir of old Marshal Tiptoff, who has been introduced in this story as General Tiptoff, just before Waterloo, who was Colonel of the — th regiment in which Major Dobbin served, and who died in this year full of honours, and of an aspic of plovers' eggs; when the regiment was graciously given by his Majesty to Colonel Sir Michael O'Dowd, K.C.B. who had commanded it in many glorious fields.

Tapeworm must have met with Colonel Dobbin at the house of the Colonel's Colonel, the Marshal, for he recognized him on this night at the theatre, and with the utmost condescension, his Majesty's minister came over from his own box and publicly shook hands with his new-found friend.

"Look at that infernal sly-boots of a Tapeworm," Fipps whispered, examining his chief from the stalls. "Wherever there's a pretty woman he always twists himself in." And I wonder what were diplomatists made for but for that?

"Have I the honour of addressing myself to Mrs. Dobbin?" asked the Secretary with a most insinuating grin.

Georgy burst out laughing and said, "By Jove, that was a good 'un." Emmy and the Major blushed: we saw them from the stalls.

"This lady is Mrs. George Osborne," said the Major, "and this is her brother, Mr. Sedley, a distinguished officer of the Bengal Civil Service: permit me to introduce him to your lordship."

My lord nearly sent Jos off his legs with the most fascinating smile. "Are you going to stop in Pumpernickel?" he said. "It is a dull place, but we want some nice people, and we would try and make it SO agreeable to you. Mr. — Ahum — Mrs. — Oho. I shall do myself the honour of calling upon you to-morrow at your inn." And he went away with a Parthian grin and glance which he thought must finish Mrs. Osborne completely.

The performance over, the young fellows lounged about the lobbies, and we saw the society take its departure. The Duchess Dowager went off in her jingling old coach, attended by two faithful and withered old maids of honour, and a little snuffy spindle-shanked gentleman in waiting, in a brown jasey and a green coat covered with orders — of which the star and the grand yellow cordon of the order of St. Michael of Pumpernickel were most conspicuous. The drums rolled, the guards saluted, and the old carriage drove away.

Then came his Transparency the Duke and Transparent family, with his great officers of state and household. He bowed serenely to everybody. And amid the saluting of the guards and the flaring of the torches of the running footmen, clad in scarlet, the Transparent carriages drove away to the old Ducal schloss, with its towers and pinacles standing on the schlossberg. Everybody in Pumpernickel knew everybody. No sooner was a foreigner seen there than the Minister of Foreign Affairs, or some other great or small officer of state, went round to the Erbprinz and found out the name of the new arrival.

We watched them, too, out of the theatre. Tapeworm had just walked off, enveloped in his cloak, with which his gigantic chasseur was always in attendance, and looking as much as possible like Don Juan. The Prime Minister's lady had just squeezed herself into her sedan, and her daughter, the charming Ida, had put on her calash and clogs; when the English party came out, the boy yawning drearily, the Major taking great pains in keeping the shawl over Mrs. Osborne's head, and Mr. Sedley looking grand, with a crush opera-hat on one side of his head and his hand in the stomach of a voluminous white waistcoat. We took off our hats to our acquaintances of the table d'hote, and the lady, in return, presented us with a little smile and a curtsey, for which everybody might be thankful.

The carriage from the inn, under the superintendence of the bustling Mr. Kirsch, was in waiting to convey the party; but the fat man said he would walk and smoke his cigar on his way homewards, so the other three, with nods and smiles to us, went without Mr. Sedley, Kirsch, with the cigar case, following in his master's wake.

We all walked together and talked to the stout gentleman about the agremens of the place. It was very agreeable for the English. There were shooting-parties and battues; there was a plenty of balls and entertainments at the hospitable Court; the society was generally good; the theatre excellent; and the living cheap.

"And our Minister seems a most delightful and affable person," our new friend said. "With such a representative, and — and a good medical man, I can fancy the place to be most eligible. Good-night, gentlemen." And Jos creaked up the stairs to bedward, followed by Kirsch with a flambeau. We rather hoped that nice-looking woman would be induced to stay some time in the town.

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