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George Osborne–Rawdon Crawley
by [?]

But an unexpected good time came to him a day or two before Christmas, when he was taken by his father and mother to pass the holidays at Queen’s Crawley. Becky would have liked to leave him at home, but for Lady Jane’s urgent invitation to the youngster; and the symptoms of revolt and discontent manifested by Rawdon at her neglect of her son. “He is the finest boy in England,” the father said reproachfully, “and you don’t seem to care for him as much as you do for your spaniel. He shan’t bother you much; at home he will be away from you in the nursery, and he shall go outside on the coach with me.”

So little Rawdon was wrapped up in shawls and comforters for the winter’s journey, and hoisted respectfully onto the roof of the coach in the dark morning; with no small delight watched the dawn arise, and made his first journey to the place which his father still called home. It was a journey of infinite pleasure to the boy, to whom the incidents of the road afforded endless interest; his father answering all questions connected with it, and telling him who lived in the great white house to the right, and whom the park belonged to.

Presently the boy fell asleep, and it was dark when he was wakened up to enter his uncle’s carriage at Mudbury, and he sat and looked out of it wondering as the great iron gates flew open, and at the white trunks of the limes as they swept by, until they stopped at length before the lighted windows of the Hall, which were blazing and comfortable with Christmas welcome. The hall-door was flung open; a big fire was burning in the great old fireplace, a carpet was down over the chequered black flags, and the next instant Becky was kissing Lady Jane.

She and Sir Pitt performed the same salute with great gravity, while Sir Pitt’s two children came up to their cousin. Matilda held out her hand and kissed him. Pitt Blinkie Southdown, the son and heir, stood aloof, and examined him as a little dog does a big one.

Then the kind hostess conducted her guests to snug apartments blazing with cheerful fires, and after some conversation with the fine young ladies of the house, the great dinner bell having rung, the family assembled at dinner, at which meal Rawdon junior was placed by his aunt, and exhibited not only a fine appetite, but a gentlemanlike behaviour.

“I like to dine here,” he said to his aunt when he had completed his meal, at the conclusion of which, and after a decent grace by Sir Pitt, the younger son and heir was introduced and was perched on a high chair by the Baronet’s side, while the daughter took possession of the place prepared for her, near her mother. “I like to dine here,” said Rawdon minor, looking up at his relation’s kind face.

“Why?” said the good Lady Jane.

“I dine in the kitchen when I am at home,” replied Rawdon minor, “or else with Briggs.” This honest confession was fortunately not heard by Becky, who was deep in conversation with the Baronet, or it might have been worse for little Rawdon.

As a guest, and it being the first night of his arrival, he was allowed to sit up until the hour when, tea being over and a great gilt book being laid on the table before Sir Pitt, all the domestics of the family streamed in and Sir Pitt read prayers. It was the first time the poor little boy had ever witnessed or heard of such a ceremonial.

Queen’s Crawley had been much improved since the young Baronet’s brief reign, and was pronounced by Becky to be perfect, charming, delightful, when she surveyed it in his company. As for little Rawdon, who examined it with the children for his guides, it seemed to him a perfect palace of enchantment and wonder. There were long galleries, and ancient state bed-rooms; there were pictures and old china and armour which enchanted little Rawdon, who had never seen their like before, and who, poor child, had never before been in such an atmosphere of kindness and good cheer.