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Vanity Fair

Chapter 14
Miss Crawley at Home
About this time there drove up to an exceedingly snug and well- appointed house in Park
Lane, a travelling chariot with a lozenge on the panels, a discontented female in a green
veil and crimped curls on the rumble, and a large and confidential man on the box. It was
the equipage of our friend Miss Crawley, returning from Hants. The carriage windows
were shut; the fat spaniel, whose head and tongue ordinarily lolled out of one of them,
reposed on the lap of the discontented female. When the vehicle stopped, a large round
bundle of shawls was taken out of the carriage by the aid of various domestics and a
young lady who accompanied the heap of cloaks. That bundle contained Miss Crawley,
who was conveyed upstairs forthwith, and put into a bed and chamber warmed properly
as for the reception of an invalid. Messengers went off for her physician and medical
man. They came, consulted, prescribed, vanished. The young companion of Miss
Crawley, at the conclusion of their interview, came in to receive their instructions, and
administered those antiphlogistic medicines which the eminent men ordered.
Captain Crawley of the Life Guards rode up from Knightsbridge Barracks the next day;
his black charger pawed the straw before his invalid aunt's door. He was most
affectionate in his inquiries regarding that amiable relative. There seemed to be much
source of apprehension. He found Miss Crawley's maid (the discontented female)
unusually sulky and despondent; he found Miss Briggs, her dame de compagnie, in tears
alone in the drawing-room. She had hastened home, hearing of her beloved friend's
illness. She wished to fly to her couch, that couch which she, Briggs, had so often
smoothed in the hour of sickness. She was denied admission to Miss Crawley's
apartment. A stranger was administering her medicines--a stranger from the country--an
odious Miss . . . --tears choked the utterance of the dame de compagnie, and she buried
her crushed affections and her poor old red nose in her pocket handkerchief.
Rawdon Crawley sent up his name by the sulky femme de chambre, and Miss Crawley's
new companion, coming tripping down from the sick- room, put a little hand into his as
he stepped forward eagerly to meet her, gave a glance of great scorn at the bewildered
Briggs, and beckoning the young Guardsman out of the back drawing-room, led him
downstairs into that now desolate dining-parlour, where so many a good dinner had been
celebrated.
Here these two talked for ten minutes, discussing, no doubt, the symptoms of the old
invalid above stairs; at the end of which period the parlour bell was rung briskly, and
answered on that instant by Mr. Bowls, Miss Crawley's large confidential butler (who,
indeed, happened to be at the keyhole during the most part of the interview); and the
Captain coming out, curling his mustachios, mounted the black charger pawing among
the straw, to the admiration of the little blackguard boys collected in the street. He looked
in at the dining-room window, managing his horse, which curvetted and capered
beautifully--for one instant the young person might be seen at the window, when her
 
 
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