Vanity Fair HTML version

Chapter 20
In Which Captain Dobbin Acts as the Messenger of Hymen
Without knowing how, Captain William Dobbin found himself the great promoter,
arranger, and manager of the match between George Osborne and Amelia. But for him it
never would have taken place: he could not but confess as much to himself, and smiled
rather bitterly as he thought that he of all men in the world should be the person upon
whom the care of this marriage had fallen. But though indeed the conducting of this
negotiation was about as painful a task as could be set to him, yet when he had a duty to
perform, Captain Dobbin was accustomed to go through it without many words or much
hesitation: and, having made up his mind completely, that if Miss Sedley was balked of
her husband she would die of the disappointment, he was determined to use all his best
endeavours to keep her alive.
I forbear to enter into minute particulars of the interview between George and Amelia,
when the former was brought back to the feet (or should we venture to say the arms?) of
his young mistress by the intervention of his friend honest William. A much harder heart
than George's would have melted at the sight of that sweet face so sadly ravaged by grief
and despair, and at the simple tender accents in which she told her little broken-hearted
story: but as she did not faint when her mother, trembling, brought Osborne to her; and as
she only gave relief to her overcharged grief, by laying her head on her lover's shoulder
and there weeping for a while the most tender, copious, and refreshing tears--old Mrs.
Sedley, too greatly relieved, thought it was best to leave the young persons to themselves;
and so quitted Emmy crying over George's hand, and kissing it humbly, as if he were her
supreme chief and master, and as if she were quite a guilty and unworthy person needing
every favour and grace from him.
This prostration and sweet unrepining obedience exquisitely touched and flattered George
Osborne. He saw a slave before him in that simple yielding faithful creature, and his soul
within him thrilled secretly somehow at the knowledge of his power. He would be
generous-minded, Sultan as he was, and raise up this kneeling Esther and make a queen
of her: besides, her sadness and beauty touched him as much as her submission, and so he
cheered her, and raised her up and forgave her, so to speak. All her hopes and feelings,
which were dying and withering, this her sun having been removed from her, bloomed
again and at once, its light being restored. You would scarcely have recognised the
beaming little face upon Amelia's pillow that night as the one that was laid there the night
before, so wan, so lifeless, so careless of all round about. The honest Irish maid-servant,
delighted with the change, asked leave to kiss the face that had grown all of a sudden so
rosy. Amelia put her arms round the girl's neck and kissed her with all her heart, like a
child. She was little more. She had that night a sweet refreshing sleep, like one--and what
a spring of inexpressible happiness as she woke in the morning sunshine!