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George Osborne–Rawdon Crawley
by [?]

Becky admired little Matilda, who was not quite four years old, as the most charming little love in the world; and the boy, Pitt Blinkie Southdown, a little fellow of two years, pale, heavy-eyed, and large-headed, she pronounced to be a perfect prodigy in size, intelligence and beauty.

The funeral over, Rebecca and her husband remained for a visit at Queen’s Crawley, which assumed its wonted aspect. Rawdon senior received constant bulletins respecting little Rawdon, who was left behind in London, and sent messages of his own. “I am very well,” he wrote. “I hope you are very well. I hope mamma is very well. The pony is very well. Grey takes me to ride in the Park. I can canter. I met the little boy who rode before. He cried when he cantered. I do not cry.”

Rawdon read these letters to his brother, and Lady Jane, who was delighted with them, gave Rebecca a banknote, begging her to buy a present with it for her little nephew.

Like all other good things, the visit came to an end, and one night the London lamps flashed joyfully as the stage rolled into Piccadilly, and Briggs had made a beautiful fire on the hearth in Curzon Street, and little Rawdon was up to welcome back his papa and mamma.

At this time he was a fine open-faced boy, with blue eyes and waving flaxen hair, sturdy in limb, but generous and soft in heart, fondly attaching himself to all who were good to him: to the pony, to Lord Southdown, who gave him the horse; to the groom who had charge of the pony; to Molly the cook, who crammed him with ghost stories at night and with good things from the dinner; to Briggs, his meek, devoted attendant, whom he plagued and laughed at; and to his father especially. Here, as he grew to be about eight years old, his attachment may be said to have ended. The beautiful mother vision had faded away after a while. During nearly two years his mother had scarcely spoken to the child. She disliked him. He had the measles and the whooping cough. He bored her. One day when he was standing at the landing-place, having crept down from the upper regions, attracted by the sound of his mother’s voice, who was singing to Lord Steyne, the drawing-room door opening suddenly discovered the little spy, who but a moment before had been rapt in delight and listening to the music.

His mother came out and struck him violently a couple of boxes on the ear. He heard a laugh from the Marquis in the inner room, and fled down below to his friends of the kitchen, bursting in an agony of grief.

“It is not because it hurts me,” little Rawdon gasped out, “only–only–” sobs and tears wound up the sentence in a storm. It was the little boy’s heart that was bleeding. “Why mayn’t I hear her singing? Why don’t she ever sing to me, as she does to that bald-headed man with the large teeth?” He gasped out at various intervals these exclamations of grief and rage. The cook looked at the housemaid; the housemaid looked knowingly at the footman, who all sat in judgment on Rebecca from that moment.

After this incident the mother’s dislike increased to hatred; the consciousness that the child was in the house was a reproach and a pain to her. His very sight annoyed her. Fear, doubt, and resistance sprang up too, in the boy’s own bosom.

He and his mother were separated from that day of the boxes on the ear.

Lord Steyne also disliked the boy. When they met he made sarcastic bows or remarks to the child, or glared at him with savage-looking eyes. Rawdon used to stare him in the face and double his little fists in return. Had it not been for his father, the child would have been desolate indeed, in his own home.