Vanity Fair HTML version

Chapter 25
In Which All the Principal Personages Think Fit to Leave Brighton
Conducted to the ladies, at the Ship Inn, Dobbin assumed a jovial and rattling manner,
which proved that this young officer was becoming a more consummate hypocrite every
day of his life. He was trying to hide his own private feelings, first upon seeing Mrs.
George Osborne in her new condition, and secondly to mask the apprehensions he
entertained as to the effect which the dismal news brought down by him would certainly
have upon her.
"It is my opinion, George," he said, "that the French Emperor will be upon us, horse and
foot, before three weeks are over, and will give the Duke such a dance as shall make the
Peninsula appear mere child's play. But you need not say that to Mrs. Osborne, you
know. There mayn't be any fighting on our side after all, and our business in Belgium
may turn out to be a mere military occupation. Many persons think so; and Brussels is
full of fine people and ladies of fashion." So it was agreed to represent the duty of the
British army in Belgium in this harmless light to Amelia.
This plot being arranged, the hypocritical Dobbin saluted Mrs. George Osborne quite
gaily, tried to pay her one or two compliments relative to her new position as a bride
(which compliments, it must be confessed, were exceedingly clumsy and hung fire
woefully), and then fell to talking about Brighton, and the sea-air, and the gaieties of the
place, and the beauties of the road and the merits of the Lightning coach and horses--all
in a manner quite incomprehensible to Amelia, and very amusing to Rebecca, who was
watching the Captain, as indeed she watched every one near whom she came.
Little Amelia, it must be owned, had rather a mean opinion of her husband's friend,
Captain Dobbin. He lisped--he was very plain and homely-looking: and exceedingly
awkward and ungainly. She liked him for his attachment to her husband (to be sure there
was very little merit in that), and she thought George was most generous and kind in
extending his friendship to his brother officer. George had mimicked Dobbin's lisp and
queer manners many times to her, though to do him justice, he always spoke most highly
of his friend's good qualities. In her little day of triumph, and not knowing him intimately
as yet, she made light of honest William--and he knew her opinions of him quite well,
and acquiesced in them very humbly. A time came when she knew him better, and
changed her notions regarding him; but that was distant as yet.
As for Rebecca, Captain Dobbin had not been two hours in the ladies' company before
she understood his secret perfectly. She did not like him, and feared him privately; nor
was he very much prepossessed in her favour. He was so honest, that her arts and
cajoleries did not affect him, and he shrank from her with instinctive repulsion. And, as
she was by no means so far superior to her sex as to be above jealousy, she disliked him
the more for his adoration of Amelia. Nevertheless, she was very respectful and cordial in
her manner towards him. A friend to the Osbornes! a friend to her dearest benefactors!