فصل 09

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فصل 09

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Chapter NINE

Life on Nothing a Year

News was continually arriving in England of the terrible casualties of the Battle of Waterloo. The Osborne family learned of George’s death. Old Mr Osborne was grief- stricken but he carried on his business as usual. He never mentioned George’s name to anyone.

One day Dobbin’s father, Sir William Dobbin, called at Mr Osborne’s house.

‘My son has sent me a letter for you,’ he explained.

Mr Osborne looked at the letter, and his heart began to beat quickly. The writing was his son’s. It was the letter George had written before leaving Amelia in Brussels.

Mr Osborne suffered greatly in this period. He travelled to Belgium to visit the site of the historic battlefield, and he saw George’s burial-place.

One evening, as he was coming back into Brussels, Mr Osborne saw a carriage driving towards him. An officer was riding by the side of it. Mr Osborne was surprised to see that one of the occupants of the carriage was his son’s widow Amelia, and that the officer on horseback was his son’s friend Dobbin. Amelia was pale and withdrawn, and did not notice her father-in-law. He, however, gazed at her in fury and hatred.

A few minutes later Dobbin rode up to Mr Osborne’s carriage. He held out his hand but Mr Osborne refused to take it.

‘I have a message for you,’ Dobbin said quietly. ‘I am the executor of George’s will, and am therefore responsible for his widow’s welfare. Are you aware how little money he left her?’

Dobbin explained that Amelia was expecting a child. He tried to persuade Mr Osborne that the time for hatred and bitterness was gone, and that Amelia needed his support.

‘I have promised to have nothing to do with that woman, sir,’ Mr Osborne commented angrily. ‘I shall not change my mind.’

Months now passed, and Amelia gave birth to a son. The loyal Major Dobbin was constantly in attendance upon her, and brought her back to her parents’ house in England. He became the baby’s godfather. The poor girl was so depressed by the death of George that she did not seem to notice the Major’s kindness to her. Dobbin, however, never dared to mention his love to her. He knew that Amelia was loyal to her husband’s memory.

One day the Major came to Amelia’s house looking particularly serious.

‘I’m going away,’ he told her. ‘I shall be gone a long time. You’ll write to me, won’t you, my dear?’

‘I’ll write to you about little Georgy,’ Amelia replied with a smile. ‘How kind you’ve been to us, dear William!’

Three or four years after their triumphant stay in Paris, Rawdon Crawley and Becky were living in a fine little house in Curzon Street, Mayfair. They entertained their friends splendidly. Yet there were few of their friends who did not sometimes wonder how Colonel Crawley managed to live so well. He did not seem to have any income at all.

There are many people in Vanity Fair who succeed very well on nothing a year. The Colonel, for example, was an excellent card-player, and excelled at billiards and other games of chance. He spent many evenings playing against his friends, and his winnings provided him and Becky with the small amounts of cash they required. For the rest, the couple lived on credit, as many others in Vanity Fair are obliged to do.

The house in Curzon Street belonged to a Mr Raggles, who had previously been Miss Crawley’s butler. After leaving Miss Crawley’s service, Mr Raggles and his wife had bought a shop selling foodstuffs. They worked hard and saved their money carefully. After many years Mr Raggles was able to buy the little house in Curzon Street. He intended to rent out the property and was delighted to have a member of the Crawley family as his tenant. The young couple also ordered their food from the Raggles’ shop.

One of Becky’s first plans when they settled in London was to establish good relations with Rawdon’s brother, Pitt. He had inherited most of Miss Crawley’s fortune.

Although Rawdon and Becky had their house in Mayfair and gave select little parties there, society ladies did not want anything to do with Becky. They had heard too many unpleasant stories about her from people like Lady Bareacres. Most of the visitors to Curzon Street were gentlemen. Becky found this position humiliating, and she determined to do something about it.

One of the regular visitors to the Crawley household was Lord Steyne, a great and powerful nobleman who occupied a very strong position in London society. Lord Steyne was one of Becky’s greatest admirers. Becky thought that Lord Steyne could introduce her to London society.

This was not a happy time for Rawdon himself. He knew that people came to the house to see his brilliant and charming wife, and that they found him a bore. He preferred to spend his time with his little son, Rawdon. He went for long walks with the boy, and he took him to see his old friends at the barracks.

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