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Chapter 22
A Marriage and Part of a Honeymoon
Enemies the most obstinate and courageous can't hold out against starvation; so the elder
Osborne felt himself pretty easy about his adversary in the encounter we have just
described; and as soon as George's supplies fell short, confidently expected his
unconditional submission. It was unlucky, to be sure, that the lad should have secured a
stock of provisions on the very day when the first encounter took place; but this relief
was only temporary, old Osborne thought, and would but delay George's surrender. No
communication passed between father and son for some days. The former was sulky at
this silence, but not disquieted; for, as he said, he knew where he could put the screw
upon George, and only waited the result of that operation. He told the sisters the upshot
of the dispute between them, but ordered them to take no notice of the matter, and
welcome George on his return as if nothing had happened. His cover was laid as usual
every day, and perhaps the old gentleman rather anxiously expected him; but he never
came. Some one inquired at the Slaughters' regarding him, where it was said that he and
his friend Captain Dobbin had left town.
One gusty, raw day at the end of April--the rain whipping the pavement of that ancient
street where the old Slaughters' Coffee- house was once situated--George Osborne came
into the coffee-room, looking very haggard and pale; although dressed rather smartly in a
blue coat and brass buttons, and a neat buff waistcoat of the fashion of those days. Here
was his friend Captain Dobbin, in blue and brass too, having abandoned the military
frock and French-grey trousers, which were the usual coverings of his lanky person.
Dobbin had been in the coffee-room for an hour or more. He had tried all the papers, but
could not read them. He had looked at the clock many scores of times; and at the street,
where the rain was pattering down, and the people as they clinked by in pattens, left long
reflections on the shining stone: he tattooed at the table: he bit his nails most completely,
and nearly to the quick (he was accustomed to ornament his great big hands in this way):
he balanced the tea-spoon dexterously on the milk jug: upset it, &c., &c.; and in fact
showed those signs of disquietude, and practised those desperate attempts at amusement,
which men are accustomed to employ when very anxious, and expectant, and perturbed
in mind.
Some of his comrades, gentlemen who used the room, joked him about the splendour of
his costume and his agitation of manner. One asked him if he was going to be married?
Dobbin laughed, and said he would send his acquaintance (Major Wagstaff of the
Engineers) a piece of cake when that event took place. At length Captain Osborne made
his appearance, very smartly dressed, but very pale and agitated as we have said. He
wiped his pale face with a large yellow bandanna pocket-handkerchief that was
prodigiously scented. He shook hands with Dobbin, looked at the clock, and told John,
the waiter, to bring him some curacao. Of this cordial he swallowed off a couple of
glasses with nervous eagerness. His friend asked with some interest about his health.